Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

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The October/ November edition of The Green Parent magazine includes the latest in my series of interviews with parenting authors and experts.

I spoke to writer, blogger and podcaster Tsh Oxenreider, founder of The Art of Simple, about her book At Home In The World and she gave me her top tips for travelling the globe with children.

There were times on the trip when Kyle and I would be frustrated that the kids weren’t amazed at everything, and we realised that when everything is awesome, nothing is awesome.

We need that down time in-between to just live life. We don’t need to have adventures all the time. This was a good lesson for me.

Full disclosure: I am a big fan of Tsh and have been for many years, so it was wonderful to have the opportunity to speak with her!

You can read the feature here (PDF)

Don’t forget, you can get £5 off a subscription to The Green Parent when you use my code HHILES. More details here.


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Green Parent Aug-Sept 2017.jpg

The August/ September edition of The Green Parent magazine includes the latest in my series of interviews with parenting authors and experts.

I spoke to author and artist Lucy H Pearce about her book The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood and why it’s so important for mothers to explore their creative sides.

I genuinely thought “I have had my kids and my life is over now”. It was a choice I had made but I thought that choosing motherhood meant saying goodbye to me and goodbye to my dreams.

But you don’t have to say goodbye to your dreams just because you are in the midst of motherhood. You can have motherhood AND creativity.

I found Lucy to be inspirational and was even encouraged to start exploring my own creativity, despite having a deeply entrenched view of myself as “not creative”.

You can read the feature here (PDF).


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Books I finished in June 2017

This month I rediscovered the joy of audiobooks, thanks to the Whispersync for Voice feature in the Kindle app, and read two very different books which make you look at the world in new ways.

Books read

At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging while Wandering the Globe – Tsh Oxenreider

I’ve been a big fan of Tsh Oxenreider for years, reading her blog The Art of Simple (formerly Simple Mom), listening to her podcast The Simple Show, reading all her books and even taking part in her online course The Upstream Field Guide.

Her latest book, At Home in the World, is about the nine months she spent travelling the globe with her husband and their three children and what she learned about the meaning of home.

In a series of vignettes from the road she shows us the good times and the bad times, the times where the family visited amazing places and the times when they drove each other crazy. One of the most striking takeaways is the importance of carrying on ordinary life between the breathtaking experiences, not matter where you are. Home is indeed where the heart is.

Note: I had the honour of speaking to Tsh about world travel with kids for my Green Parent magazine series (forthcoming October/November edition) and managed to keep my inner fangirl girl sufficiently under control to conduct a suitably professional interview.

Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel

Station Eleven has been on my radar for a while. I listen to the What Should I Read Next? podcast and I feel like this book has cropped up on there a few times. I didn’t know what to expect other than some sort of post-apocalyptic something or other which is usually more up my husband’s street. He and I have very different tastes in books so when he said he’d read the Kindle sample and didn’t like it, I thought I would give it a try.

I bought the Audible narration along with the Kindle version and listened to it at every opportunity. I probably listened to more of it than I read, and I feel the audiobook format suited the sweeping story. I love a good paper book but reading in this way with the combined power of audiobook and ebook was a great way to get more reading done, something I tend to struggle with in this “young children” season of life.

It features a range of characters who are all connected in one way or another, and flits between the time before and after the Georgia flu wiped out most of the world’s population.

I could see why my husband didn’t like it – it’s not your typical post-apocalyptic thriller.  It was poetic, it was about the importance of art, and it was about the strength and weakness of the human spirit. I was captivated by it.

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I’m not sure what happened to my reading in May but the only book I finished was a short one read on the train to London and back. I must have dipped into lots of others and spent way too much time faffing around.


Book read

The Good Skin Solution: Natural Healing for Eczema, Psoriasis, Rosacea and Acne – Shann Nix Jones

I’ve had rosacea for years (I’ve mentioned it a few times on the blog, particularly when some friends and I were doing the H2Only challenge in aid of the RNLI) and have tried various creams and potions, long-term antibiotics and prescription gels to get it under control. The antibiotics worked to an extent (but who wants to take them indefinitely?), the rest not so much. Since being pregnant with my second child (who is now 20 months old) I’ve been taking an “ignore it and pretend it’s not there” approach but the time has come to wrestle with it again. I’d been looking into the link between rosacea and our gut microbiome and when I saw that this book was on offer on Kindle for less than £2 I decided to check it out.

Shann Nix Jones is the co-founder of Chuckling Goat, supplying freshly made goats’ milk kefir and natural kefir skin care products from her family farm in Wales. Kefir, a probiotic drink made from live culture fermented milk, is said to help restore the balance of the gut microbiome, having a knock on effect on your skin and general health.

The book goes into detail about the importance of the 2kg of bacteria that sit in your gut and I must have been convinced, because I am now a fully signed up Chuckling Goat customer. Apparently rosacea is a very stubborn condition and will take at least six three-week courses of kefir (and some dietary changes) to tackle, but I’m willing to give it a try. And that’s a post for another day.

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Books I finished in April 2017

I’ve fallen a bit behind posting these mini book reviews and while I’m sure no one but me is interested, they are more for my benefit than anything else. So here we go with April’s books!


Books finished

Vanishing Acts – Jodi Picoult

After loving Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes back in January, I picked up a copy of Vanishing Acts in a charity shop to help me get through a mammoth six-hour hairdressing session. Unfortunately Vanishing Acts didn’t live up to Nineteen Minutes and I ground my way through it without caring about any of the characters and being interested in the plot. I don’t normally finish books I don’t like but having out so much time into it I limped to the end with a bit of help from Wikipedia and Goodreads. I’m not sure I’ll pick up another Jodi Picoult.

The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood – Lucy H Pearce

I read this because I was interviewing the author for my Green Parent magazine series. It’s been a long time since I thought of myself as a creative person (have I EVER thought of myself that way?) and while I was reading the book I struggled to see myself in the “Creative Rainbow Mother” archetype that she describes. But since reading the book and speaking to Lucy a little spark of creativity has been kindled deep inside. I had my hair dyed an array of “mermaid’ colours and have been drawing a bit, and have been exploring ways of feeling more like myself again. I’ve have felt completely subsumed into  being a mother but this book showed me a possible way to be me and their mum, a way that I would never have considered before.

How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids – Jancee Dunn

My poor long-suffering husband bought this for me, which suggests that I maybe need to adjust my attitude towards him! I’m not sure that he enjoyed me reading bits out to him all the time, but between making me hoot with laughter and shake my head with recognition, it did hold a mirror up to some of my less appealing habits. It was surprising  how relatable the author’s experience was despite our lives being so different. It’s not just me! It was funny in parts and packed with sensible advice, and I should probably re-read it on a regular basis…

Also on the go


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