This is a guest post from Mari of Mari’s World fame as I have a small kitchen and a disinclination towards cooking.

It’s not very often you get invited to guest post on somebody’s blog and then get to call them a doughnut, right? But that is what I am about to do and I am so very pleased that Slummy single mummy missed the trick on this one as I am now the very proud and excited owner of a Morphy Richards soup maker.

soup maker morphy richards

I have been longing for one since the summer time, dreaming of me quickly whipping up homemade soups for my lunch and being very nutritious and frugal but prices range from around £40.00 to £140.00 so that stopped me.

THEN I met Slummy single mummy at an event, funnily enough it was a cooking event and she is very forward in saying cooking is not one of her passions and she’ll take the easy life every time. She said she’d been offered a soup maker by Morphy Richards and didn’t want it as she wouldn’t use it, was anyone interested. My hand shot in the air faster than the blenders spinning blades, ‘Me, me, me, I’ll have it… please’

It was a match made in heaven, I got the soup mixer and Slummy single mummy gets a post all about it.

The Morphy Richards soup maker takes up the same amount of space as a kettle on the worktop, it’s made in stainless steel and has a removable lid which contains the blade and heating element. It is so easy to use any fool could work it out and my first trial was to make one of Morphy Richards’ own recipes that intrigued me for the speed to make it, the frozen peas element and of course the delicious ingredients used. I tried

Really quick and easy pea, ham and mint soup

Preparation time : 5 minutes
Cooking time: 21 minutes
Setting: smooth
Serves 4

Ingredients

450g frozen peas
20g fresh mint, leaves only (I didn’t have this)
200g ham – chopped/shredded
800ml hot stock from cube or vegetable
4 tsps olive oil
75ml creme fraiche (I didn’t have any so used Philadelphia instead)

Now get this…

  1. Place the peas, hot stock, mint and ham in the soup maker and select the smooth setting (this will last 21 minutes)
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add the olive oil (I didn’t) and the creme fraiche and using the blend button blend the soup again for 20 seconds
  3. Serve with crusty bread or sliced bread like I did. 😉

How easy is that? Chuck it all in and press a button. That is the moment I fell in love with my soup maker.morphy richards control panel soup maker

I was careful not to immerse the bits in water but it washed up very easily and now sits waiting for today’s trial of French Style Pistou but you’ll have to nip over to Mari’s World to see the outcome of that one and this time I’ll be using the chunky setting…isn’t it exciting?

pea and ham soup

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There is now exactly one month until Christmas.

I don’t care what any of you scrooges say, I don’t even mind that the supermarket aisles have been lined with selection boxes since September, Christmas is coming, and I love it. I love everything about it – the smell, the crappy songs, the mounds of recycling, but especially buying presents.

Now I am lucky enough to have been blessed with the ability, most of the time, to choose presents that people actually like. Either that or I am scary enough that people don’t like to tell me if I get them something they hate. Either way it’s the same outcome for me, so that’s fine.

If you get stuck though, and don’t want to waste money on endless boxes of  chocolates or overpackaged miniature Jack Daniels and glass tumblers sets, then personalised gifts could be a good option. A personalised gift is a sure-fire way to say ‘I was actually thinking of you when I bought this, it hasn’t just come from that stand-by box under my bed for people I had forgotten about’.

Best of all, it doesn’t have to be just pencils with your kids’ names on or novelty family calendars. I’ve just spent a happy hour (in the name of research) on gettingpersonal.co.uk and bring you my top five more unusual personalised gifts:

1. Baubles

A lovely pressie for a baby’s first Christmas, and something they can keep forever. They’re made of fine bone china too:

2. Doormat

A nice idea, but do you really want to be saying  ‘I saw this doormat and thought of you’??

3. Heritage blue plaque

Just in case the rest of the world hasn’t realised your unique contribution to mankind yet:

4. Pestle and mortar

What better way to tell your partner you love them than to grind some spices together?

5. Friday afternoon hammer

You’ve been busy hammering stuff, you fancy a beer, you’re not sure which bottle-opener-hammer is yours…

Happy Christmas!

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“Can you cut my hair for me?”

We’ve just had tea and are about to watch an episode of Hercule Poirot. I had been planning to not move much for at least the next hour.

“I want it to look like this,” she says, handing me her phone. This is what she showed me:

"short hair"

How hard can this be?

Now I am not a hairdresser.

At this point Bee has a jaw length straight bob as this is a variant of the only haircut I can do. I’m always up for a challenge though, so sent Belle to fetch some scissors.

"Haircuts"

I can do bobs, between shoulder and jaw length, fringe optional.

She sits between my legs on the floor, a towel around her shoulders. In one hand she has a brush, in the other her phone with the required haircut on it. “Shall I hold it up for you?”

“Sure,” I say, and try to imagine that the scissors are a pencil, and that copying a haircut is just like copying a picture. Loads of people are hairdressers right? How hard can it be?

For the first five minutes or so I am mildly hysterical. I have literally no idea where to start and begin by just grabbing handfuls of hair and chopping them off. I’m aiming for short, so this seems a sensible approach. Bee starts to look worried by the hysteria, so I try to control myself.

“Should I do some layers?” I ask.

“I guess so,” says Bee.

“How?” I say.

“I don’t know, I guess you just pick bits up and cut them shorter? Shall I look it up on YouTube?”

“No, that’s OK, I’ll just give it a go,” I say, picking up a chunk of hair and cutting it shorter than the rest before my nerve fails me. “Well,” I say, “you have a layer now.”

One layer?” Bee asks, anxiety in her voice.

“I’m going to try and sort of blend it in a little more,” I add before she cries.

The next twenty minutes or so pass in a blur of haphazard chopping and trying not to laugh, but by the end I feel I’ve done a pretty good job. The different sides don’t exactly look the same, but then her ears are different shapes, which isn’t my fault.

This is Bee taking a little arty shot of herself for Instagram. She has scruffed it up a little bit. What do you reckon?

It’s good to know that if my copywriting work dries up I can fall back on a career in hairdressing.

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I am something of a paradox when it comes to trust. In general, I tend to believe if not quite that all men are lying, cheating bastards,  that they all at least have the capacity to be deceitful, and are quite likely to stray should the opportunity present itself.

I can’t help this and I apologise to all the men who have never ever lied to their partners.

However, whilst my world view may be a little depressing, I still have a bizarre naivety when it comes to individual relationships, and will basically believe anything anyone tells me. You’d think you’d have to be an idiot to accept  any one of the following lies, yet in previous relationships, accept them I have, without, at the time, doubting them at all:

“Oh this black eye? Oh yes, I got that dancing over-enthusiastically.”

“Yes it is weird that it took me two and a half hours to get home from work even though it’s only ten minutes away. Yeah, the traffic was a bit bad.”

“My wife?? No, I’m definitely not having sex with her.”

You get my drift.

The thing is that I really want to trust people, and just can’t help but see the best in someone and give them the benefit of the doubt. I also believe that a relationship has to be built on trust. Whatever my opinion of men in general might be, I have to believe that my partner is different, otherwise what’s the point?

I was reading today about a recent study that revealed that a quarter of men have a secret email account that their partner doesn’t know about. A quarter of men! My first reaction was shock, but then I was confused. Why do people need a separate account? Aren’t emails private and personal anyway? I would never read a partner’s email, just like I would never open their post, so why the need to be secretive?

It’s not that I wouldn’t want a partner to read my emails, but it just wouldn’t occur to me to share. It would be a bit like being on the phone and someone picking up the other line to listen in. Just weird.

The survey also discovered that:

  • One in ten men deliberately set up a separate account because they wanted to hide an affair or money problems
  • One in twenty men have a second secret mobile phone
  • Nearly 20% of men store pictures of an ex-partner
  • 77% of men delete text messages in case their partners look at them
  • A quarter of men had emails they said they wouldn’t want their partner to see and a third of these said they had flirty emails stored secretly.

It kind of cancels out the joy of Santa and his stuck beard doesn’t it?

What I want to know though, all this man-hating aside, is do you read your partner’s emails and/or text messages? If so, do they know about it, or do you do it in secret? Am I the unusual one in not openly sharing emails or at least sneaking a peek behind my partner’s back?

Or, if you’re a man, do you do any of the things in this survey? I’d love to know…

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(*By chimney I mean a Reading shopping centre, but that didn’t have quite the same ring to it for a title)

I heard a story on the radio this morning that bought a little tear of joy to my eye. (I think I must be pre-menstrual. I get a bit over-emotional at certain times of the month and cry and stupid things, like that VW Polo advert with the girl and the dad growing up together.)

Anyway, the story this morning wasn’t quite as heart wrenching as a VW Polo, but it still tugged the heartstrings.

Here’s what happened…

A shopping centre in Reading were having their Christmas light switch on, and thought it would be fun to have Santa appear from the ceiling, and be lowered magically into the crowds of expectant children. Unfortunately, something went wrong about half way down and Father Christmas got his beard tangled in the equipment, leaving him stuck, dangling above the waiting crowds for over half an hour.

This is the adorable bit though – he could have escaped easily straight away by simply taking off the beard, but he didn’t want the children to realise he wasn’t really Father Christmas.

*small sob*

Isn’t that just the sweetest thing you have ever heard? (I felt myself welling up just reading back over this.)

For over half an hour he hung there, as more and more spectators gathered to point and laugh, just so that the magic of Christmas wouldn’t be spoilt.

That’s all. Go about your day.

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