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Thai massamn lamb curry

No, ‘Slowthai massaman lamb curry’ is NOT a typo, honestly.

Let me explain.

I’ve been working with the ‘Lamb. Try it, Love it‘ campaign for a while now, creating all kinds of yummy lamb recipes, including Greek lamb meatballs, Game of Thrones rack of lamb, (a must see in my opinion) and a classic Irish stew.

When I heard that my lovely lamb chums were going to be at Kendal Calling, a festival in the Lake District that’s on from 25-28 July, with the ‘Lamb Bam Lounge’, well… it would have been rude not to create a festival inspired lamb dish wouldn’t it? Nothing beats being sat out on the grass on a sunny day with a big bowl of something yummy from a festival food truck. View Post

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Advertisement feature in association with the ŠKODA Parent Taxi App

Earlier this week I introduced the ŠKODA Parent Taxi App. You remember? It had that video in it, of me trying to look super casual and cool behind the wheel? Go back and have a read if you’ve forgotten.

Basically it’s an app, created by ŠKODA, that allows you to track your journeys using GPS and ‘charge’ your kids in chores for driving them around. ŠKODA loaned us a car for a couple of weeks, (which was an absolute joy to drive – I love a ŠKODA), and we put the app to the test.

Skoda Parent Taxi App

Now I COULD just talk here about how annoying it is as a parent to have to drive your kids around to meet their friends or go to hockey practice or whatever, and how the app teaches them the value of time and money, but actually our relationship with our car is a bit more complex than this. I thought this might be interesting to explore, as I suspect that for most people, parenting a teenager isn’t quite as simple as you may have been led to believe.

(That sounds a bit ominous doesn’t it? I feel like this post has the potential to get very deep very quickly.) View Post

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Advertisement feature in association with ŠKODA

Do you ever feel like your kids treat you as something of a taxi service? Do you ever wish you actually had a meter installed, so you could at least be earning a bit of extra cash while you drove them around?

That would be cool wouldn’t it?

‘No problem love,’ I’d say to Belle in a cockney accent, ‘I can drive you to dance – it’ll cost you six paaaand.’ (That’s me doing the accent.)

Of course it would never work – teenagers notoriously have no money because they spend it all on frappuccinos and make-up palettes. What they DO have though is TIME (when they’re not watching important videos on Tik-Tok and practicing make-up looks) and ENERGY (if you catch them after a frappuccino.)

And when you have a taxi fare to pay, TIME + ENERGY = CHORES.

That’s the theory behind the ŠKODA Parent Taxi App – start the meter running when you set off, and depending on how far you travel, and how generous you are with the settings, your time and trouble gets repaid to you in the form of chores completed by your grateful teen.

Skoda Parent Taxi App

Skoda Parent Taxi App review

Sounds like a good idea doesn’t it?

A little while ago, ŠKODA invited me and Belle to have a play with the app, and put together a short video of us where I drive about and try to look young and cool and Belle tolerates me. It’s less than a minute and gives you a good overview of what the ŠKODA Parent Taxi App involves: View Post

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It feels to me like there’s a bit of a contradiction when it comes to self-help and positive thinking.

On the one hand we’re told not to bottle up our feelings. Not saying when something bothers you is BAD – we all need to learn to be more open about our emotions, to be honest and authentic and not keep things inside.

On the other hand we have gratitude journals and endless inspirational images online – pastel starscapes and swirly fonts – telling us, sometimes desperately, to think positive thoughts, appreciate how wonderful our lives are and remember how lucky we are to be alive.

I don’t have anything at all against a good gratitude journal and I appreciate the value in focussing on the good things in our day to day lives, but sometimes I wonder if all of this positive thinking isn’t causing us to silence our not so positive thoughts.

When I’ve written in a journal in the past it’s been at difficult points in my life where I need to vent frustration or think through a problem. The act of writing helps me to clarify my own thoughts and at the end I normally feel lighter. I’ve given myself that space to be angry or sad or confused and letting those feelings out has helped me to understand them, process them, and move on. When the focus is always on gratitude, what’s gone well, and positive goals for the next day, I wonder if we aren’t actually doing ourselves a massive disservice, pushing the negative feelings away, trying to paint over them with uplifting mantras.

It feels like a strange time to be in, because you could say that we are more open about our feelings than ever – more and more people are comfortable now talking about their mental health struggles and we are increasingly accepting and understanding of things like anxiety and depression.

But what if you fall sort of in the middle?

You might not be depressed or anxious – perhaps you just feel lonely, or restless, or cross, or something you can’t put your finger on (like a midlife unravelling). You don’t feel it warrants putting yourself out there as ‘struggling’, and yet what’s the alternative? Heading to Pinterest to look at positive quotes and sunny pictures of meals you’ll never feel motivated enough to make? Brainstorming an inspiring vision board for where you want your perfect life to be in five years time?

While I do think that there is value in optimism and a positive mindset, surely there is room too for something that allows us to feel that life is sometimes sad and lonely and pointless feeling? I’m not saying we just all be negative and miserable the whole time, but just something that acknowledges that not everything can always be solved by listing three things that went well in your day, and that it’s okay to find life a slog.

Perhaps if we did more of this it would feel less lonely, because we wouldn’t have to imagine that everyone else was skipping through their day waiting for it to rain, just so that they could dance between the raindrops.

inspirational quotes View Post

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Advertisement feature in association with LifeSearch

How much thought have you given to your digital legacy? If you were to die suddenly tomorrow, do you know what would happen to your email or your social media accounts? Does a loved one know your passwords? Would you want them to see all of your personal messages or would you prefer to have your social media accounts automatically deleted when you die?

What happens to your social media accounts when you die?

Like many things linked to death, it’s something that many of us are reluctant to talk about. We bury our heads in the sand, or figure that once we’re dead it won’t be our problem, but with more and more of us having a significant digital presence it’s not an issue you can afford to ignore, especially if you want your death to be as painless and hassle free as possible for your family.

A new study by the UK’s leading life insurance broker, LifeSearch, shows exactly how unprepared we are when it comes to our digital legacy. The study* showed that nearly a quarter of people would like to see automatic deletion of social media accounts on death, and that although more than 1 in 10 people are already worried about the fate of their online accounts, a whopping 92% haven’t prepared by telling loved ones their wishes for their digital presence after death.

I took my own little Twitter poll and it turned out to exactly replicate the findings of the LifeSearch research – most people hadn’t even considered their digital presence after death, and only 8% have a plan in place, meaning 92% don’t have anything solid for loved ones to go on when they die.

digital legacy

To try and help, LifeSearch has launched a campaign called Let’s Start Talking, which encourages the nation to be more open about the subjects that make us uncomfortable, including death, illness, money and mental health. It’s well worth a look if you want to have a difficult conversation but aren’t sure where to start. View Post

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I’m not sure that ‘leader’ is the right term to use here really. I don’t ‘lead’ by any stretch of the imagination – I’ve been volunteering at my local Brownie group for a term now and, thanks to my top notch memory, I still don’t even remember any of their namesThey don’t seem to have noticed though, and as long as I never have to take a register I think we’ll be okay.

Brownie helper? Is that better? That makes it sound like I might just be taking their coats – more of a concierge role. Let’s stick with leader. I do have a Brownie name after all. (Nightingale. Thank you.)

I know that I’ve joked about Brownies in the context of my midlife unravelling, and likened it to me almost auditioning for a role in the local production of Aladdin, but I actually love being a Brownie leader. When you’ve got used to living with teenagers, who aren’t exactly known generally for their zest for life, hanging out with a group of 7-10 year olds, who still get a thrill out of putting their hand up when they know the answer to something, is pretty uplifting.

They actually ENJOY STUFF! Like properly enjoy it, in a pure way, with a lack of self-consciousness that’s a lesson in itself.

This week we did circus skills and it was my favourite week so far. The session was led by circus man Steve, who was absolutely brilliant with them, and seeing them so engaged and interested was infectious. I found myself back in my primary school self, totally engrossed. My sole purpose became balancing that peacock feather on my finger so well that Steve noticed and praised me.

Benefits of being a Brownie leader

How I felt when I flipped a spinning plate in the air and caught it on a stick first time and Steve said I was wasted at Brownies and should join the circus.

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I had an email this weekend out of the blue from a woman looking for some advice. I was flattered, although slightly concerned on her behalf, that she had come to ME for advice. I don’t exactly have a great track record. She was interested in whether or not to tell dates about having children, and my experience of dating as a single parent.

I hope she won’t mind me quoting part of her email, as it’s anonymous:

‘I am a single parent with young children.’ she wrote. ‘The thought of dating again terrifies me and partly because I am afraid of being judged. Did you feel like you were judged when you went out on dates as a single mother? Did you find it awkward bringing it up especially when the man doesn’t have children? I’m going through all the ‘what ifs’ in my mind and frankly I sometimes feel like a failure.’

I wanted to share it because I’m sure it’s something a lot of single parents worry about and I thought it might be useful to think about it a bit.

should you tell dates about your children? View Post

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It occurred to me this week that it’s a long time since I got really cross with someone. Like REALLY cross, with shouting, and maybe swears.

It’s because the only people I tend to get angry with are boyfriends. I have a lovely family, who I never argue with, and my friends are friends for a reason – I like them and we get on. I’m not one of those people who thrives on having regular bust ups with people they’re meant to care about. It’s just not me.

As far as I can think, it must be about two years now since I’ve had a proper row with someone. Maybe two years since I shouted? That’s a long time isn’t it?

I kind of miss it.

how often do you shout

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Advertisement feature in association with Hometree

boiler cover options

My house. IN MY DREAMS.

If you’ve been considering boiler cover and fancy a free £40 Amazon voucher then BOY OH BOY, you are in luck today.

When I bought my very first house in 2017 there were a lot of things I’d never had to think about before. A fricking great DEBT for a start obviously, that I won’t pay off until I’m about 143, but smaller things too.

Like the ROOF. When you live in a rented house, you never have to worry about the roof. It’s just sort of there, covering you, and if anything goes wrong with it then it’s someone else’s problem. Ditto the plumbing, wiring, sewerage, radiators – basically ALL OF THE THINGS.

Being very sensible and nearly 40 at the time, I realised that you probably can’t take the ‘satsuma on the dashboard‘ approach to owning a house, like I do with owning a car. I would need to think carefully about grown up things like insurance, having the number of a good electrician and where to put the gin cabinet.

I’ve always been a big believer in only insuring against things you couldn’t otherwise afford to pay for. Obviously there is stuff you HAVE to have, like buildings insurance, but I’ve never spent money on extended warranties for electrical appliances, or cancelling train tickets or anything like that, because I could afford the hit if I absolutely had to.

In my new house though I decided that there were some things that, having used all of my savings for my deposit, I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for should anything go wrong.

For example, I now have pet insurance*, because I really never want to have to spend thousands of pounds on a teeny cat leg plaster cast. The boiler and central heating system also fell into this category.

Apart from anything else, I wouldn’t actually know what to DO, in a first response sort of a way, if the boiler broke down – who do you even call? How much is the call out fee? How does ADULTING WORK??

*takes deep breaths*

Besides, I’m a very big fan of being warm – I definitely didn’t want my boiler out of action. View Post

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Advertisement feature in association with Kally Sleep

It has ALL being going on in my bedroom this last week.

(Not like that, rude.)

First I closed down my neighbourhood one woman peep show by getting the new blind, and now I have a NEW PILLOW. I know, I know, it’s pretty racy. Honestly, I don’t know why anyone ever complains about being fed up or lacking a purpose when there’s excitement like this potentially around every corner.

Kally Sleep side sleeper pillow review

Perhaps this pillow will be the thing that stitches my midlife unravelling back together? Okay, so that’s unlikely, but still, it’s nice to at least be comfy in bed while you wrestle with your existential thoughts.

The pillow in question is the ‘ultimate side sleeper pillow’ from Kally Sleep.

Here’s what the website says about it:

‘The Ultimate Side Sleeper Pillow has been designed to give side-sleepers balanced support, helping to prevent neck and back pain during sleep. Its walled sides help to align your head, neck and spine and offer an extra level of quality comfort, maintaining its shape over long periods of use.’

And here’s what I say about it: View Post

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should you have kids if you hate children

Can you be a parent if you hate children? It’s a bit of a weird question I guess. Technically of course you can have children – perhaps the question really is should you, or maybe even why would you?

I’ve been thinking about it because of a conversation I had recently on Twitter. I’d been harping on about my midlife unravelling and a man replied telling me that his life wasn’t quite where he had expected it to be by this point in his life. He had never been married, he told me, no girlfriend, no kids, no pets. He spent a lot of his time alone he explained.

I asked how he felt about this – was it that he wanted all of those things, or was he actually quite happy with how things were, but feeling under pressure to tick the boxes.

His reply surprised me. View Post

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I was sent a blind from Make My Blinds for the purposes of this review and to spare my neighbours

It’s been about three months now since I had to take my bedroom curtains down because they smelt of bolognese.

I’m not quite sure what happened – smells from the kitchen I presume – but every time I went in my bedroom I was noticing this horrible old food smell. I changed the sheets, I made sure there were no ‘gifts’ from the cats decomposing under the bed, but I couldn’t shift it. I sniffed about, and traced it back to the curtains. I took them down, washed them, but it was still there.

Fortuantely I hated the curtains anyway – they were a ‘temporary’ measure when we moved in two years ago – so I took it as a sign from the universe that it was okay to sell them at a car boot sale to a nice lady who was going to cut them up for something.

I’ve not minded too much being without curtains, because I love having the window open and feeling the breeze on my face and waking up to the sunshine and the sound of the birds. It has been lovely and bright without curtains and I’ve liked not having vast widths of fabric breaking up the clean lines.

Over the last month though, as the sun has been coming up earlier, it has been catching me on the face at about 5am, it a kind of intrusive, burny way, which isn’t so idyllic.

I also have a bright street light outside my bedroom, which has been a bit annoying, plus my bedroom window is pretty much the full width of my room and is at the front of the house, so probably not ideal for the neighbours.

This is what it looked like without the curtains:

Review faux wood blinds Make My Blinds

I may have been confused as to what was meant to be the focus of this picture.

I’ve been umming and ahhing then about what to do next. View Post

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