Total + 4 recipe – pasta bake with sweetcorn, tomatoes, mozzarella and Total Greek yoghurt – #TryTotal

pasta bake recipeI love looking at recipe books, the pictures are always amazing aren’t they? You get all excited and think ‘I could do that’ and then you look at the recipe and realise it contains 17 different ingredients, three of which you’ve never even heard of, and you get a pizza out of the freezer instead.

Or you attempt it, (leaving out the things you’re not sure about), and end up with something like ‘blue soup’, Bridget Jones style. The ‘purple pie’ I tried to make with leftover red cabbage is fast on it’s way to becoming a favourite family legend, and not for good reasons.

I need something simple and idiot proof, a recipe with just a few ingredients, none of which I have to go to a specialist Asian supermarket for, which makes me perfect for the #TryTotal challenge from Total, the Greek yoghurt people. The idea is to create easy but tasty recipes with just a few ingredients and for your efforts you can win all sorts of lovely prizes including a Magimix food mixer, an iPhone6, a cookbook or a month’s supply of Greek yoghurt. Read more

The one where I go to New York to interview Antonio Banderas and the cast of the new SpongeBob movie: A Sponge Out of Water

Weather permitting, tomorrow I am flying out to New York to interview some of the cast of the new SpongeBob movie: A Sponge Out of Water.

*acts nonchalant*

Who am I kidding? I am about as chalant as it gets. (Why is chalant not a word? You feel like it should be.)

Firstly, there is the snow. I’m not good in snow. I will fall over and it will be embarrassing.

Second, NEW YORK BABY!! I have only been to America once and that was to go to Arkansas. Even the guards at airport security looked at me funny and asked me why I was bothering.

And finally – the thing I am most chalant about – I have to conduct video interviews with celebrities. When they asked whether I wanted to do written or video interviews I figured ‘in for a penny’ and all that, and so said video before I had chance to think about it. I figured it would look far more impressive and then you would know that I had actually been there and not just sent an interview by email. Read more

Total + 4 recipe – smoked haddock and cauliflower cheese with Total Greek yoghurt – the ultimate winter comfort food #TryTotal

What is your favourite comfort food?

When I’m feeling in need of a little calorie based comfort I regress to toddlerhood and find myself drawn to all the beige foods – mashed potato, thick white toast with lashings of butter, pasta and cheesy sauces – you know what I’m talking about. Small children really know what they are doing there.

Another of my favourites is cauliflower cheese, which has the added bonus of not being all about the carbs. I’ve put together a very simple recipe that proves that a lack of colour doesn’t have to mean a lack of taste and nutrition – it’s all the fun of wintery stodge but without the guilt.

smoked haddock and cauliflower cheese recipe Read more

An under the stairs makeover

No, I’m not going to go under the stairs as me and come out as Barbara Streisand, this is a post all about my attempt to be one of those bloggers who always has a beautiful collection of vintage objects effortlessly yet stylishly arranged on their mantelpiece. Except I don’t have a mantelpiece and I’m not very stylish, so it’s basically some pictures of me showing you my under stairs area* before and after I move my massive printer and hide it in Bee’s room.

I know right?? It’s going to be awesome. Hold onto you hats.

So basically I have these lovely spiral stairs, which look very pretty indeed when the light is right and you apply a good Instagram filter. See?

under stairs makeover

Nice right? Except my house is pretty small and there isn’t really anywhere to put stuff, so if you look closely you will see that under the stairs I have two printers and a nasty black IKEA table. Grim.  Read more

Why reading the news is bad for you

I have an alarm clock that wakes me up to the radio every morning. A while back I switched from being woken up by Radio 4 to letting the sounds of BBC Somerset drift into by subconscious instead. Listening to Radio 4 made me feel a little bit more important, but it made me miserable because everything in the news is so fucking sad.*

Seriously, pick up any newspaper or turn the TV on at 6pm (to something other than Eggheads) and you’d be forgiven for wondering why we don’t just set a massive nuclear explosion off in the centre of the earth and put us all out of our misery.

Take a look at the news today and you can see what I mean:

negative news

It’s shit. I mean well done to Brian Blessed and everything, but come on. Read more

4 easy ways to make your wardrobe happy + a peek into mine

I have two words for you today my friends…

wardrobe maintenance

I shall just give you a moment to absorb them.

*kicks back with a jaffa cake*

I know what you’re thinking now, you’re thinking ‘Hang on there a cotton pickin’ minute, wardrobe maintenance? What are we talking here? Am I going to need a dipstick?’

No, you do not. We’re going under the metaphorical bonnet, but there are no fluids involved, not at this stage in our relationship at least. I’m talking about organising your wardrobe to keep your clothes looking nice, save you time in the morning and generally make you feel like the kind of grown up who always knows where their shoes are. This is not only good for your clothes but makes you feel good about yourself too. Check out this article from Betta Living for more about why a good wardrobe mainentance routine is important.

First off though, before I share my wardrobe words of wisdom, I’m going to give you a peek into mine:

wardrobe organisation

My wardrobe is a work in progress organisationally, so there is plenty to learn from it: Read more

My best email all day

Last week I wrote about the Love Log.

If you haven’t read the post, you really should. It really is very funny and I’m not just saying that because I wrote it and want you to read it.*

In it I lay into the world of PR rather, and complain heartily about the number of shit press releases I receive every day. I had an email today though that I wanted to tell you about because it was absolutely the perfect antidote to my ranting and made me smile.

The email was from a PR person who had read my post about the log of love and who clearly didn’t want to piss me off. The release itself was pretty standard – certainly informative and clear if not a little irrelevant geographically – but I would probably not even have opened it if it hadn’t been for the title:

“Press release – hopefully not too shit”

Nice.

And just for that, I’m going to be a good blogger and tell you that if you work in Manchester, you should definitely sign up for the Manchester v Melanoma Challenge 2015 being run by Melanoma UK and raise money to fight skin cancer.

Manchester melanoma challenge

*I so am.

End the misery of embarrassing leaks during periods with DiaryDoll from Carol Smillie and Annabel Croft #readyforanything

Yes, sorry, I’m going to talk about periods. All the boys are allowed to switch over to a different blog – something about football or Game of Thrones or sandwiches or whatever it is men are into nowadays.

Everyone left happy to continue?

Excellent.

First off then, why is it that we are still so squeamish about talking about periods? I’m not shy when it comes to talking about my elusive cervix, and yet I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority, online at least. I think it might actually be one of those subjects you are more likely to talk to your face to face friends about, which is a rarity for a lot of bloggers.

Is it because it’s a ‘woman’s issue’ do you think? Or is it just one of those things we’d rather pretend doesn’t happen? There was a lot of sniggering in the parent blogger world recently when a well known brand of women’s incontinence pants tried to get a group together for an event – no one seemed to want to admit that it was something that effected them. Sure, I may not be in incontinence pants (yet), but let’s face it, I have pushed two human heads out through my vagina – I don’t go on a trampoline without making sure I go to the toilet first.

Not sexy maybe, but a reality of life as a mother.

Another of the joys of parenting is guiding your children through the difficult teenage years and if you’re lucky enough to be the parent of daughters, this essentially means one thing – periods.

Oh the joy! Hormones coursing through their bloodstream, turning your normally sweet-hearted darling into a snarling beast of a girl. It’s fun isn’t it? Read more

3 things I love about Bristol

I have always wanted to live in Bristol. I’m not sure when the feeling started, but it has been there as long as I can remember – a sort of tingle of excitement, mixed with a happy contentment from knowing a place is just right for you.

The move was a long time coming – Bee started using air quotes whenever she said ‘when we move to Bristol’ – but I had to wait for the right moment. It happened though, and although it wasn’t easy moving to a new place, especially with the Chuckle Brothers as our moving team, I never doubted my decision.

Circumstances conspired unfortunately to make living in Bristol difficult for me last year, and so we moved back to Somerset. It sucked at first. I’m adjusting, but I still miss Bristol and hopefully one day I will go back.

While I don’t want to sound negative about Somerset – it has plenty of good points – Bristol is, I’m fairly certain, the city I love most in the world.

Here’s why: Read more

What makes you happy?

That’s a difficult question to answer isn’t it?

Sometimes I will be in the middle of doing something, something really simple like reading a good book and drinking a cup of tea, and I will be overcome with contentment and will think to myself ‘this, this is it. Remember this for when you are next feeling sad.’

Quite often I will make a physical list of things that I know I enjoy doing to refer back to as required.

And then I will have a moment where I feel really sad and I will look at the list with scorn, wondering how I could have ever been so shallow as to find comfort in tea. ‘Pah!’ I will say to myself, ‘What was I thinking? I am way too sad to be cheered with an episode of Friends. This is it now for ever, I will never be happy again.’

Of course I am happy again though, and often within minutes of feeling like there is no point even bothering to get up because the human race is so doomed to fail, and it really is the little things on my list that can make all of the difference, especially at the times when you feel like they won’t.

Here are a few of the things I have done this morning, several not necessarily because I wanted to, but because I knew I should: Read more