homemade party rings

Nothing says party like a party ring does it?

When I said out loud in my office today that I thought I might go home and make some party rings, the response was overwhelming. Much discussion ensued about the key foods that make up a good party – egg sandwiches, pink wafers etc – but the consensus was that if you turn up to a party with a packet of party rings then you win. You get the girl.

Can you EVEN IMAGINE then how popular you would be if you turned up to a party with HOMEMADE party rings?

Having already experimented with homemade Jaffa Cakes, homemade Jammie Dodgers, and a rather dubious batch of homemade Chocolate Hobnobs, which didn’t make the blog as I didn’t want to be sued for the cost of your resulting dental work, I thought I would have a go at making my own homemade party rings.

Follow my simple party rings recipe and you too can wow your party guests as you present them with a beautiful plate of Instagram ready treats. View Post

In association with National Citizen Service

In just over two months Belle (my baby!) will have finished school.

This is a MASSIVE deal for us as she has basically hated school for 12 years. Every day has been a battle, every evening from Sunday to Thursday has had the shadow of school hanging over it. The last year in particular has been hard and I know it’s going to be a massive relief for us both when June 19th comes round and she has her last GCSE exam. (She says confidently, with an edge of desperation in her voice.)

But then what?

She has plans for college of course, but that’s not until September. That’s nearly three months of potentially blank space, space that Belle could well fill with a cycle of sleep, Netflix and Instagram. I want to make sure that alongside a bit of R & R* she makes time for things that are actually interesting or useful or worthwhile.

The flip side of course is that at the same time I have to run a business and make enough money on my own to pay the mortgage and support a family of five. (Sure, three of them are cats, but they expensive taste in biscuits.)

(Oh! How did that get there?)

So what to do?

Family will be a first port of call – a few days with my Dad in Cornwall here, a few in Ireland with my sister there – but the thing with family is that it’s EASY. I want her to do something that challenges her too, something that pushes her outside her comfort zone but gives her confidence a boost in the process. The trouble is that Belle quite likes her comfort zone and has been a little scarred over the years by me packing her off on various activities – activities that really are things I want to do, (like week long courses where you have to pretend to be a spy and crack codes), only I can’t because I’m a grown up.

Yesterday I mentioned the government backed National Citizen Service (NCS) to her and she DIDN’T STRAIGHTAWAY SAY NO. This was an amazing thing. I immediately sent her a link. View Post

How are you meant to feel when you stand in a gas chamber?

You look around the damp underground room and you try to imagine 700 people all crammed in, half starved, clinging to the promise of hot soup after having been made to strip naked and leave their clothes outside on the stones.

You walk through to the next room and see where the corpses of murdered, innocent people were then burned, one after another, sending foul smelling smoke up through the chimneys for the other prisoners in the camp to see.

How are you meant to feel?

When I told people I wanted to visit Auschwitz as one of my 40 things to do before I turn 40 I got a mixed reaction. Some people, you could tell, could think of nothing worse. Either they just didn’t want to be made to think about it, or perhaps they felt it was disrespectful to pay for the privilege of being led around a site where hundreds of thousands of people were killed.

Others wished me luck.

‘It was the most harrowing experience of my life,’ they told me.

‘So traumatic,’ they said.

It has been something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, as I’ve read quite a bit about life (and death) in concentration camps, and there is something that just feels so IMPORTANT about it. It’s such a massive part of our recent history as human beings, and it’s so horrific.

I imagined that it would be just as harrowing and traumatic as everyone was telling me, that perhaps I would feel overwhelmed, unable to deal with coming face to face with it.

We arrived and walked through those infamous gates at Auschwitz One – ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ – and I waited for the feelings to come. I stood still and quiet and waited to feel the horror of what had happened. I tried to picture the prisoners, walking through these gates, feeling scared but potentially optimistic, oblivious to what lay ahead.

Nothing came. View Post

This morning I went on the radio to talk about sex robots.

Okay, so I didn’t go on deliberately to talk about that – it was one of those weekend ‘talk about fun things in the news’ shows, but I always like to see what I can get away with on live radio, especially first thing in the morning.

In case you’re interested, sex robots are going to be a new ‘thing’. Everyone is going to have one. You heard it here first.

Anyway, one of the things I DIDN’T get time to talk about was a feature in one of the weekend supplements about parenting mistakes. It was a whole long list of things that most of us probably do at some point or another, thinking we are doing the right thing, but which apparently aren’t doing anybody any favours. Stuff like following older teens on social media, making ‘quality time’ for our kids, and worrying about exam results.

(I don’t do any of these, mainly out of sheer laziness, so I felt pretty good about myself.)

One of the things the article talked about was bedrooms, and I know this is an issue that splits a lot of parents of teenagers. Should you make your teenager keep their bedroom tidy or should it be their own space where they can do as they please?

should you make teenagers tidy their bedrooms

NB: unrealistic

View Post

‘Does the printer have ink?’

Belle is shouting this up the stairs at me at about 11.23pm on a Sunday night. I am in bed already.

‘Umm…’ I reply, making a bit of a sceptical face, ‘I’m not sure.’

I hear heavy sighing.

I could raise the point that 11.23pm on a Sunday is not really the time to be starting to think about printing things, but also I know that ‘buy ink for printer’ has been popping up as a reminder on my phone now for about three weeks.

Printer ink is one of those things that grates on me, like car repairs. I begrudge having to spend money on something just to then have to KEEP spending money on it. Printer ink is the worst because I stupidly bought one of those cheap printers that FEELS good value, until you realise that replacing the ink is going to cost you more than the printer did in the first place and that you will need to do it roughly every eight sheets of paper.

You’re feeling my pain I can tell.

You can imagine then my SURPRISE AND DELIGHT to be asked to review the Epson EcoTank ET-2750, which comes in a box that says this:

Epson EcoTank ET-2750 review

14,000 pages?? Will I ever even print that much now in the whole of the remainder of my life? Doubtful. In which case this could very well be a printer that NEVER RUNS OUT OF INK. (Note: I’m sure the ink would dry up eventually if I didn’t use it – Epson says the ink can last for up to three years, which feels like a much more reliable claim.) View Post

Post in association with Childcare.co.uk 

One of the things I love most about modern technology is the ability to find anything online, choose the best one, and have it booked and ready within minutes.

When I’m in proper cities, where THINGS HAPPEN, I’m a sucker for apps like Uber and Deliveroo. I know I should probably be dining out at independent restaurants and hiring cabs from local taxi agencies and what not, but honestly, who wouldn’t want a burrito brought to them basically IN BED? Plus it’s peace of mind knowing that everything is so regulated and controlled, that Uber knows where Bob in a Prius is taking me, and that I can see exactly how long it will be before my katsu curry arrives on a moped.

‘If only there was something similar for childcare’, I thought, ‘so you could find someone totally reliable online to look after your children for a bit.’ You know, for when Netflix is off line.

And then I found out that there was and I honestly don’t know how more people haven’t discovered this before. 

Childcare.co.uk allows you to search for and connect with babysitters, childminders, nannies, nurseries, private tutors and schools and also allows childcare providers to advertise their services. The site has more than 1.5 million users nationwide and is the largest online community for parents in the UK, having launched in 2009. 

Pretty impressive stats, as an ex boyfriend once said to me.

find a babysitter online

Not only is it great for finding a local babysitter that you can trust, (rather than just the random teen from down the street), you can find anything from schools in the local area to private midwives. There are loads of private tutors too, which would be really handy for me as Belle is about to take her GCSEs and is a little lacking in the self-motivation department.

I tested out the Childcare.co.uk website to see if it really was as straightforward as ordering a quick delivered pizza. (Belle’s favourite meal, obviously.) View Post