With only ten days to go until Christmas, and vast quantities of food, gifts and decorations littering the house, isn’t it time you deserved a little treat?

Of course it is.

And I’m not just talking a sneaky glass of sherry in the kitchen while you’re cooking. I’m talking about a proper fancy kitchen gadget.

Now, if you’re like me, forever grinding spices by hand and what not, you’ll be secretly hoping that someone buys you a James Martin Wahl spice grinder for Christmas. When you don’t find a spice grinder in your stocking though, (because to be honest, who knew you loved grinding spices so much?), what will you do? Sob into your sprouts?


You’ll enter this competition instead of course. Silly billy.

"Spice grinder"

If grinding spices isn’t your thing, you’ll be pleased to hear you can grind coffee beans in it too. Or simply stick it under the bed and wait until next Christmas, when you can whip it out as a thoughtful gift for the budding chef in your life.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post, telling me what your favourite spice is. (I like a bit of cumin myself.)

The competition will close on 29th December, to give you chance to enter once you’ve opened your presents and been disappointed.

Good luck!

As featured on Loquax Competitions


I was listening to the radio yesterday when a trailer came on for a programme this weekend. “We reveal,” it said, “why your choice of desktop wallpaper says far more about you than you think.”

(It was local radio. Not exactly ground-breaking political insight.)

Still, it got me thinking, because my current wallpaper is this picture of a kitten:

"cute kitten"

It’s not even my kitten. I literally googled ‘cute kitten’. Yes, I am that person. When you’re trying to create an online persona for yourself as a gin-swilling, dishes-hiding, heart-of-stone slummy mummy, having a picture of a kitten on your desktop is really not the done thing. It probably says far more about me than I’d really like.

So, I thought I’d write a little quiz, Psychologies magazine style, to help you discover what kind of person you really are, just by looking at your wallpaper. Answer each of these questions as honestly as you can, add up your answers, and your secret personality will be revealed…

QUIZ: What does your desktop wallpaper say about you?

1. Look at the colours in your wallpaper. Are they mainly:
a. pastels, pinks and pale blues
b. primary colours or mid-tone shades
c. black and blood reds

2.If someone asked if they could have a copy of your wallpaper for their own computer, what would you say?
a. Of course! You are thrilled and flattered that they love you so much
b. Sure, you’ll ping over a jpeg when you get a chance
c. No! Why? What are you planning behind my back?

3. Which of these is closest to your wallpaper picture:
a. A cute fluffy animal of some sort, possibly wearing a minature hat
b. A nice landscape or family photo
c. A pile of mutilated limbs against a backdrop of charred ruins. In the background is a small child crying fat, silent tears.

4. When you look at your wallpaper, do you feel:
a. Full of joy, and like you want to rush out and give a homeless person a guinea pig
b. Like you should probably stop staring at the desktop and do some work
c. Like you want to punch a puppy in the face


Mostly As
You are a toddler. Seven years old at most. You might want to consider watching the news more regularly.

Mostly Bs
You are normal. Well done.

Mostly Cs
You are quite possibly a sociopath. Call the police and turn yourself in before you acidentally go on a killing spree.

And that’s the end of the test. So go on then, tell all, what does your desktop wallpaper say about you??


I love Christmas. The mulled wine, mince pies, crappy music, but especially buying presents. Shopping online for Christmas presents is extra fun, as you can eat a mince pie, drink mulled wine and listen to crappy music at the same time, all from the comfort of your sofa.

One of the problems I have though is that I keep seeing things I want to buy for me. Like that lovely blue velvet chair. This is especially true of my new favourite gift website, Zinc & Co Zinc & Co have collected together the most unusual and beautiful gifts they can find, and have added in an extra special promise – if you can find the same products cheaper somewhere else they will refund the difference. Now that’s a pretty big claim, and saves you a lot of faffing about and worrying about whether you’re paying over the odds.

Also, they offer next day delivery, so if anyone is still looking for a last minute Christmas gift for me, these are my four favourite things:

Sparrow keyring and holder

Have your keys looked after by a bird! Not only that, it doubles as a whistle, just in case you are ever holding your keys and need to call a dog or something.

"Sparrow keyring"

Storm in a teacup

Well this is just adorable isn’t it? Who doesn’t like tea? It says it’s the perfect mug for a drama queen.

"Storm in a teacup"

Desk bunny scissors

Is it a bunny? Is it a pair of scissors? Who cares, it will look cute on your desk."desk bunny scissors"

Vintage posters

They have loads of these and they are all beautiful. ‘O My Love, tonight the sky is a darkened circus tent above our dreams and the moon slowly walks a tightrope into morning.’

"O my love poster"

They also do wishlists, so you can choose your own favourite products without having to go to the effort of setting up a blog. Nice. Choose your favourite pressies now at Zinc & Co.



Christmas isn’t exactly the time of the year when you think about saving money, but today I’ve got some advice and a competition that should be just what you need to start the New Year with good financial intentions.

You’re playing for two fab prizes today, so get your best competition hat on. First off, you get a copy of the super new book  ‘Money Smarter – a Family Guide‘. Money Smarter is a really interesting and practical guide to teaching children the value of money, with over 50 activities that you can try with your family:

"Money Smarter"

Look after the pennies and all that…

Then to go with it, you get this adorable leather purse from Lyla and Tilly, to put all your pennies in once you’ve saved them:

"Bird picture"

Tweet this post for an extra competition entry.
(See what I did there?)

You see? Everything you need for a debt free 2013!

To enter, all you have to do is have a read of these four family finance activities, taken from Money Smart, and then leave a comment offering your own money-saving tip or learning activity. The competition closes on Christmas Day, so you can get your money-saving kit in time for the New Year.

Good luck!

Four ways to teach children the value of money

Where does money come from?
As children, it’s hard to get your head around the idea of money, where it comes from, and what it gets spent on. Sitting down with your kids and explaining exactly how adults earn money is a really useful way to teach children the value of skills and experience. To make it more real, have a look at a selection of job ads. Talk to your children about the different kinds of jobs people do, how much they are paid, and what sort of skills they might need.

Need versus want
Children always seem to need the latest gadget or toy, but how do you teach them the difference between wanting and needing something? Imagine with your kids that you’re stranded on a desert island. Get them to think about what they’d actually need to survive, and what luxuries they might want.

Good debt versus bad debt
People tend to fear debt, but the important thing to learn is the difference between good and bad debt. Debt that will put money in your pocket at a future date is a good debt, a debt that doesn’t is bad. For example, investing in going to university is a good debt, as it will help you earn more money later, but just borrowing to go on holiday isn’t such a great investment. Look through some magazines and newspapers with your kids. Cut out three pictures that represent good debts, and three that are bad.

Your fun fund
Managing your money doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. As well as saving for the future and paying the bills, there should always be a slice of your budget set aside for fun. How you spend that slice is up to you! With your children, come up with a list of things that you’d like to spend your fun fund on. Can you work out how long it would take you to have enough money for each of your fun activities?

Competition open to UK residents only. Competition closes on 25th December 2012. Your information may be used for marketing purposes by the Money Smarter team. You are free to unsubscribe at any time.

As featured on Loquax Competitions and ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions




I’m reading a book at the moment called Radical Honesty.* When I showed Boyfriend he snorted a bit and said ‘as if you need that!’

He’s probably right – I do have a tendency to just say what I think, even if it’s a little brutal – but it’s interesting all the same.

The idea behind the book is that our lack of honesty is at the root of pretty much all our stress. This doesn’t just necessarily mean actively telling lies – leading a double life or pretending you have a job but actually just sitting in the park – it includes keeping feelings and thoughts hidden, for fear of how other people will react.

"The Secret"

The author, who is a physcotherapist, says that most of the people he sees are stuck in this adolescent state of living their lives according to how they think other people think they should be living them. The stress comes from this fear of judgement, from trying to maintain a persona that you believe to be socially acceptable, and from not being open and honest about your true feelings.

It makes sense doesn’t it?

Think about a source of stress in your life. Maybe it’s work. Why is it stressful? Because you’re afraid that your boss will realise you don’t know what you’re doing? Because you put yourself under pressure to earn as much as your friends? Because you worry that your colleagues don’t like you?

All of these things boil down to typical teenage anxieties don’t they? They are all about not being honest.

What about if you went into work and just said to your boss ‘look, I feel really unsure about how well I’m managing this piece of work, can you give me some feedback or guidance?’

Or how about if you were just honest with yourself and your friends, and admitted that actually money just doesn’t matter as much to you, and that you were going to judge yourself by your own standards?**

I find it fascinating to think about honesty in terms not of the active lies we tell, but of the thoughts and feelings we keep hidden. Wouldn’t life be much more straightforward if you never had to worry about what you said and could just be yourself all the time?

How honest are you?

*I am about five pages in to Chapter One. To be honest (see what I did there?) this is probably as far as I get. I am honest, but flighty.

**Don’t forget I’ve hardly read any of the book. This is all pure speculation on my part as to what the book would ACTUALLY tell you to do.