Top tips for tasty Christmas meats from Asda

There’s nothing I like more than a hamper of delicious goodies and this week I had one delivered right to the door (my best kind) by Asda. They wanted to show off their Christmas meat collection and I was certainly impressed. It didn’t hurt that the meat came in a rather gorgeous wicker basket, surrounded by mince pies and wine. (Again, my best kind.)

Asda Christmas meat

Asda meatI wouldn’t normally think to choose Asda for my festive meats, so I was really pleasantly surprised to see just how fancy and festive they were. Our basket included:

Extra Special 21 Day Bone-In Horseradish Beef, Extra Special Venison Rack and Extra Special Six Bird Roast.

(Are you sensing the theme here?) Read more

REVIEW: The Slow Watch

Today I have another guest post from my boyfriend. If you like this, check out his attempts at a juice detox.

Slow watch

Somewhere on the internet, there must be some stats about how the global sales of watches have sunk since the mobile phone market has monopolised everything we do.  I don’t think I had worn a watch for about ten years, having always relied on my smart phone for the time of day. 

At the best of times, I can be described as a phone addict – I’m constantly checking my phone and if I was totally honest with myself, most of the time I don’t know quite what I’m checking it for.  In meetings,* there is nothing more blatant and rude than someone with their phone on the table, constantly pressing the home key to find out what time it is, or to check if something far more interesting has happened in their virtual life outside the room. Read more

REVIEW: Cornerstone – a better way to shave

A guest post from my lovely boyfriend.

Cornerstone razor

Ask any man and they’ll tell you the same thing; as a kid, you see starting to shave as a massive leap forward into the world as an adult man. You watch your Dad shaving for years and long for the day when you can start pulling faces in the mirror whilst covered in shaving foam. I was always puzzled why my Dad used to tell me that I should enjoy the pre-shaving days, as the process was a total faff which would soon become a daily burden. I assumed he was talking total rubbish, but after a couple of years of shaving rash, nicks and cuts, I realised that shaving really is a pain.
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5 mouth-watering retro sweets – which are your favourites?

I’ve always had a sweet tooth. Whilst my sister will happily munch away on bag after bag of cheese and onion crisps and bits of toast and marmite, I’m happier with a packet of hobnobs or a bar of fruit and nut.

I was the same as a child. I’m not good at remembering key events from my childhood, but one thing that does stand out for me is the garage that me and my Dad used to stop at on the way home from school when I was about seven years old. They had that classic 1980s pick and mix set up, where you helped yourself to a tiny paper bag and chose your sweets to make your own 10p mix up; foamy bananas, black jacks, fruit salads – you know the drill.

In my mind of course it all looks totally natural, as though I was stepping into the garage in 2014, but I’m sure it wouldn’t look like that really. I’d love to go back 30 years and see it again.

In fact, I found a little video montage of 1970s and 80s sweets in case you want to swoon over the retro packaging and see how many of your childhood favourites you can spot:

*sighs heavily for the days when you could buy a packet of Opal Fruits for 3p*

In this spirit of reminiscence, (it is nearly Christmas after all), I spent a happy hour or so ‘at work’ this morning browsing the retro sweets section on the Keep it Sweet website. Keep it Sweet do all manner of sugary deliciousness, including party bags and sweets for weddings and corporate events, but the retro sweet section was really where it was at for me.

Here are some of my favourites: Read more

The 12 rules of Christmas

We had dinner last night with my auntie and cousin. They are going to be hosting Christmas for the first time this year and last night’s roast chicken was a bit of a trial run; we tested out the elbow room on the dining table, ate some pigs in blankets and talked about the schedule for the day.

It got me thinking about the Christmas traditions that we have created for ourselves as a family over the years and made me wonder how many of them are shared by other people.

Here are 12 of my Christmas rules, but what are yours?

12 rules of Christmas

1. At some point in the week before Christmas we have a festive trip to Marks & Spencer, where I let the children put (pretty much) whatever they want in the trolley. (No spirits for Belle.) We spend at least £100, and come away with absolutely nothing that can be turned into a meal. It’s all about the cheese savouries and mini ovenable treats. Read more

My favourite things – December 2014

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last few weeks browsing the internet for lovely things. I could pretend it has all been in the name of Christmas shopping but we all know that would be a lie. I just like doing anything other than working.

Here are four of my favourite things this month:

favourite things

A) This is a quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream that makes me think of Belle, who is very little but very fierce. It comes from Bookishly, a fab company making literary inspired gifts. I love the style of these and would happily cover my walls with them. Get 20% off orders at Bookishly with the code SSMUMMY20.

B) This green tea shampoo is from a company called O’Right, and markets itself as the world’s first carbon neutral shampoo. The idea behind the brand is to create green products without compromising on quality, and they have definitely achieved that. Not only is the shampoo itself fantastic and eco-friendly, but if you plant the (beautiful) bottle it will grow into a tree. I’m not even kidding, an actual tree. How cool is that??

C) You know you should eat more fruit, but really you’d rather have a bag of crisps right? Well, I may have the answer here to all of your prayers. Emily Fruit Crisps are made just with real fruit and a little oil. They are DELICIOUS. I had a packet of the pineapple this morning and they were wonderfully crispy and full of flavour. The packaging is just gorgeous too. I’m looking forward to these becoming available in a supermarket near me.

D) Stack Magazines is a genius idea from a guy called Steven Watson, a magazine subscription with a difference. Every month Stack will send you a different independent magazine; you won’t know what it’s going to be but you will know that it will be interesting, inspiring and something a little bit unusual. Who doesn’t like surprises?

Disclosure: I was sent some shampoo and some fruit crisps to try out.

Has our sharing culture gone too far? Reflections on the dangers of oversharing and the therapeutic value of writing

Do you ever get that feeling where you have loads of things that you want to say, but you physically don’t know how to get the words out?

I had this one night this week. I was lying in bed worrying about something. In my head I had a full on monologue going on, I was ranting and raving in what felt like quite a reasonable and coherent way and yet when I tried to say out loud how I was feeling I just couldn’t – I couldn’t make my mouth open. It felt like there must be a loose connection somewhere between my brain and my tongue, a wiring malfunction.

“Brain to mouth, are you receiving me?”

Radio silence. Quite literally.

oversharing Read more

How to find a new dentist

https://www.paydayloansnow.co.uk

I’ve been living in Taunton for nearly six months now (six months!) and although I’ve been pretty good at things like getting all of my post redirected and ensuring Belle goes to school most of the time, there is one thing I have been putting off – finding a new dentist.

Unfortunately this isn’t because I have super strong, brilliantly white teeth that need no care and attention at all – anything but – it’s because a) I am a teeny weeny bit scared of dentists and b) I have no idea how to do it.

Find a dentist

Definitely not me

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY BLOG!! Win gin and chocolate in my super awesome fifth birthday blog giveaway extravaganza

Today my blog is five years old. Can you even believe it? In internet years that makes it about 27.

Five years ago today* I was living in Bridgwater, a single mummy to a 14 and a 7 year old, having recently quit a full-time job I hated to work for myself. It was pretty scary but I had a desk I had bought on ebay for ten pounds and a nice little office space at home, so as far as I was concerned I was good to go. Who needs relevant experience or qualifications when you have a nice white desk and a wall full of inspirational postcards?

A lot has happened in the last five years including three house moves, one child leaving home, becoming gay and changing her mind again, various men putting in appearances, including one with an unsightly mole, a trip to Ethiopia, attempts at skiing, a milkshake in a diner in Arkansas, over 35,000 tweets and very nearly 1,000 blog posts. This one is number 979 I think.

That’s a lot of words.

I really can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for you continuing to read; sometimes I feel I’ve been suitably witty and entertaining, sometimes I’m a bit melancholy and often times just a bit boring. That’s a probably a pretty fair reflection of life as a working single parent though.

As a thank you for hanging on in there I thought I’d hold a little giveaway and what better prize than something that has remained a constant in my life during these five years of change – gin and chocolate.

Hoorah!

*refills ice tray expectantly*

The chocolate for your prize has been kindly donated by Mackie’s and the gin comes to you courtesy of ME as I couldn’t get any gin brands on Twitter to give me any freebies in the two days between deciding to do a birthday competition and hitting publish. I actually went to Tesco and bought a bottle with my own money, that’s how grateful I am to you for you reading.**

And there you were thinking I never paid for anything.

gin competition

Mackie's chocolate(If you win you definitely need to fan out the bars like this and crumble a bit of chocolate next to them seductively.)

To enter just have a fiddle with the Rafflecopter widget below before Big Ben chimes midnight at the end of 2014.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*My first ever blog post includes an interesting comment from ‘Boz’.

**Definitely don’t think of this as a bribe. It’s just an innocent thank you…

 

Test your financial literacy for the chance to win an iPad Air

Anyone who knows me AT ALL knows that I love a quiz. Seriously. I LOVE a quiz. My whole sense of self-worth comes from doing well in tests.

When Totally Money asked me if I’d like to take part in a financial literacy quiz then I was on it before they even told me there was the chance to win an iPad Air; a place on the leader board was prize enough for me. I know about money right? I have an economics degree for God’s sake, I felt sure I could smash this quiz.

*pumps fist*

Hmm…

Turns out that having studied economics in the previous millennium doesn’t guarantee top marks in a finance quiz. I was a little flustered knowing I was against the clock but still, it was really no excuse for only getting 9 out of 16. I should probably hand all of my credit cards over to a grown-up right now, just in case.

Fortunately you don’t need to score top marks to go into the prize draw, so there is always the thought of that to make me feel better. After you’ve done the quiz just click the ‘Win an iPad Air’ button to enter. It’s with all the sharing buttons near the top and looks like this:

TotallyMoney.com - MoneyMasters.clipular

Take the quiz now by clicking on the image below and let me know how you score! 

I will sit and wait nicely.

Click image to take the Money Master Challenge (via TotallyMoney.com).

All done? How did you do?

In collaboration with Totally Money