Yesterday I had the pleasure of being given a crystal massage by Belle. She has always liked collecting crystals, but recently she bought a book about them in the St Margaret’s Hospice shop and now she is all about the chakras.

She had her friend from Number 2 round to help and I must admit to being a little anxious as they made me lie on the floor on the special ‘massage rug’. A lot of her stones are quite scratchy and I wasn’t sure exactly what the massaging would entail.

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You may remember a few weeks ago I hosted a guest post from a rather mysterious writer, on the subject of baby names, specifically the name Jeremy. (Apologies to Boyfriend’s Dad – I didn’t write it, I promise.)
Well it seems to be a bit of a contentious issue, and today I have another post on the subject, this time from the very lovely Emma Button, better known as Mellow Mummy. I think it’s a fab post, although as a Strictly fan I don’t know why Emma hasn’t considered ‘Bruce Button’. A definite winner I think.

It is that time again when I need to draw up a very important list. The list of potential baby names. In the mellow household naming babies is supposed to be (like pretty much everything else we do) a joint effort, but for some reason it always seems to end up going a bit like this…
Me: “How about Sophie Button?”
Him: “Nope”
Me: “How about Nicola Button”?”
Him: “Nope”
Me: “Billy Button?”
Him: <frown>
Me: “Harry Button?”
Him: <glour>
Me: “Hutton Button?”
Him: <no response>
End of conversation. The whole baby naming drama isn’t helped by the fact that we often seem to end up having this conversation while watching TV. This in itself wouldn’t be a problem but for the fact that Mr. B really does like his sports. The result of this is a list of baby names which are ( a) mostly boys names and ( b) slightly ludicrous. A recent football match resulted in a debate over the suitability of “Nani Button” as a boy’s name. My sport of choice is Formula One but I suspect that the name “Jenson Button” has already been worn out and that “Rubens Button” may be a bit too deep for most.
I can’t fail to be entertained by the whole host of hilarious suggestions thrown up while watching late-night American Football. Now call me unreasonable but (as groovy a name as it is), I don’t think “Be‘Shawn Button” would sit in awfully well in our largely white, middle-class, english, non-American-football-playing family?
As I type this we are watching late night repeats of Masterchef : The Professionals on the food channel. Perhaps “Michel Button” would be more appropriate? or Greg? Actually, “Greg Button” could work!
For now I will have to keep on running some slightly more sane ideas past my other half but please don’t hold me responsible if baby number two ends up being named after one (or more) of the celebrities on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.

How do you feel about debt?

From a quick survey of my friends, debt seems to have the marmite quality – you either love it, or you hate it.

For some people, the idea of being in debt is terrifying. Holidays, cars and treats are carefully saved up for, and only when there are enough pennies in the pot can you splash out. For others, juggling a fistful of credit cards and loans is a normal part of everyday life, a way to manage unexpected expenses, or simply a way to get what they want, when they want it. View Post


Are you a quiz fan? I love a good quiz. The problem is that I’m a really bad mix of over-competitive and terrible at general knowledge. It’s very frustrating.

I do like puzzles though that don’t require me to know my capital cities, and so to get you in a festive mood, I thought I’d set a little puzzle for you here. It doesn’t actually have a festive theme, but… it is a quiz, and it is Christmas, so this is officially a Christmas Quiz. Fact.

All you have to do is work out what the letters stand for in these phrases and expressions. What’s the prize? Nothing but the warm glow of success.

Let me know if you get stuck and I might give you a little clue. View Post


I’m finding it difficult to start writing this morning. I feel like I should have something interesting to say, but then in the cold light of a white page the words look dull.

I thought about writing about Christmas as a time of excess, and my inability to control the number of M&S Christmas Jaffa Cakes I put in my mouth, but that seemed a little self-indulgent. (In terms of both the food and the topic). Who wants to know I’m a greedy piggy with no self-restraint? Nobody. View Post


It’s nearly Christmas, (did you notice?), and so my doormat and inbox are being bombarded with charity campaigns, trying to guilt me into giving them cash.* See that pile of presents you’ve bought people? That makes you selfish – you should be buying goats instead you know.

I’ve also noticed a lot of corporate charity partnerships around at the moment, where large companies are clearly trying to win the philanthropic vote in a bid to beat the recession. I’m normally a bit cynical about fundraising campaign where big brands make donations to charities, as it feels like the company often do rather better out of it than the charity.

‘Buy a box of our cereal for £2.50 and we’ll give a whole penny to support orphans in a part of the world you’ve never heard of!’ – well intentioned (maybe), but it makes it hard to feel you’re really making a difference doesn’t it? View Post


I received an email this week from a chap called Simon Wright. It began thus…

“Hi Jo,

Umm… I have no idea whether you deal with messages like this on a regular basis, but I have a blog based around the subject of choosing baby names, and I was wondering if you’d like to take it? I’d like it to have a home somewhere.”

Well no Simon, I can’t say I do deal with messages like this on a regular basis. I read the piece, and it actually wasn’t bad. I asked what the catch was, but apparently there wasn’t one. Curiouser and Curiouser.

So, always keen to save myself a bit of time and effort where possible, I decided to give it a home. You can’t leave anyone out in the cold at Christmas after all can you?

“There’s no way!” I exclaimed, “Absolutely no way I’d ever call my child Jeremy! I want him to open the batting for England with a crisp cover drive for four. Call him Jeremy and he’ll grow up to be a car salesman or investment banker.”

I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d arrived at discussing children’s names with my future mother-in-law, but there I was. It was happening. It wasn’t awkward, as my fiancée and I have had the ‘name chat’ on a number of occasions, but it was an eye opener. For a lady who named her kids Simon and Laura – two perfectly good names – she was coming up with some right stinkers, while poo pooing what Laura and I had agreed on.

It got me thinking – should couples discuss the names of future children, without even having placed dough in the oven? And, that being the case, should one learn not to discuss too much with the other half’s mum? It’s a ‘yes’ in both instances. View Post


“Seriously,” whispers Bee, looking at me sceptically, “are you really going to let Belle go out like that?”

I look at her, in her pink leggings, which are just that little bit too short, gold striped knitted dress, odd socks and red shoes. It looks alright to me.

I shrug my shoulders innocently, as though it’s out of my hands. I try to make out that I’m actively enabling Belle to use her clothing to express her personality, and that I don’t want to stifle her, but neither of us are convinced.

The truth is that when it comes to kids’ clothes, or clothes generally to be honest, I’m a bit rubbish. I have no real idea of what goes and what doesn’t, and don’t naturally carry off an outfit with effortless grace and elegance, as you can see from this picture of me as a child:

Slummy Single Mummy baby pictures

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I cried at work this morning.

It was a bit embarrassing, but strangely liberating at the same time.

I started crying in the car, in that way where the tears just spill out over your face without you being able to help it. By the time I got into work I had stopped, but was still in the precariously balanced state between crying and not crying, where the mere mention of kittens would be enough to push you over the edge.

I went into the kitchen to wash my cup, and to chisel off the dried up cookie residue, left over from my biscuit dunking activities the day before. I was holding it under the tap when a colleague came in. “Are you alright?” she asked.

Big mistake. View Post


Seriously? I was in the co-op at lunchtime and there they were. Kinder Eggs. Eighty five whole pence.

They were never really good value chocolate wise, but at 40p or so you could sort of justify it for the toy. But this is just crazy. And then I started looking around and really thinking about things and how much they cost…

When did cans of Coke and Mars bars stop being about 30p??

I don’t like it.

It makes me feel old.

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This week I got disproportionately excited by a box file.

For ages I’ve had various piles of Important and Useful Documents, waiting to be sorted out, looking at me accusingly every time I walked past them, with that ‘we’re still here…’ look in their eyes.*

And then I found this box file, for only three pounds, but which turned out, when I got to the till, to be only ONE POUND! I love it when that happens. So for just a pound I got to spend a very satisfying hour arranging all my credit card bills and bank statements into nice neat sections. I also discovered I had three copies of Bee’s birth certificate. I’m not sure how that happened, but I figured it showed I was prepared at least.

Imagine though how your life might be different if you’d never had a birth certificate at all.

If Bee had been born somewhere else in the world, then by the age of sixteen she could well have been forced into marriage already, and have been denied an education.

It’s really just luck when you think about it isn’t it?

Plan UK’s ‘Because I am Girl’ campaign wants to change this, and they’ve created a nifty little facebook app to help fight for the rights of the 75 million girls worldwide who aren’t in school. The “Plan Your Story” application takes your key facebook information and creates a personalised video story book, looking at what your life would be like if you hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate.

“The aim is to put people in the shoes of the millions of girls around the world whose births are not registered,” says Justin Wylie, Head of Business Development at the international children’s organisation Plan UK.

“Without a birth certificate, the user sees how key events in their life would change – for example an inability to prove their age could result in being married off whilst they’re still a child, or being denied the right to go to school.”

Why not have a go and see how lucky you really are?

*I do appreciate that they don’t actually have eyes. I’m not mad or anything.


A few weeks ago I was asked to take part in a Bananagrams Blogger Battle. Sounds a bit ominous doesn’t it? I pictured bloggers in ‘Total Wipeout’ style protective costumes, with padded hats and shin guards, whacking each other with bunches of bananas and shrieking like monkeys.

Turns out it was letting my imagination run away with me a little.

Bananagrams is actually a game, with lettered tiles like scrabble, in a bag shaped like a banana. I was intrigued.

The game itself is fairly simple, and I won’t bore you with the rules – you’ll have to enter my competition to win one and find out for yourself. The challenge though has been slightly different every week, and this week we had to create a Bananagram of ‘things that are yellow’.

It’s actually harder than it sounds. Once you’ve done ‘banana’ and ‘sweetcorn’ you get a bit stuck. I tried looking around my desk for inspiration, but didn’t have enough room or letters for  ‘lidofayellowhighlighterpen’.

This is what we managed to come up with:

bananagrams review

We were particularly pleased with Big Bird and yolk.

If this post has given you a burning desire to create your own Bananagram, then you’re in luck, as I have a copy of the game to give away. To be in with a chance to win, just leave a comment, and name something yellow that isn’t included in my picture. I’ll give you until Friday 9th December and then I’ll pick my favourite word.