If you’re anything like me then you’re salivating just reading that title. It’s the ultimate comfort combination surely? Roasted seasonal vegetables, a hot and creamy risotto and juicy lamb kebabs – that’s a winter feast right there. What’s even better is that it’s dead easy to make, as I will show you now.

First up though, in case you’re thinking ‘hmmm… lamb, not sure really, it’s a bit pricey isn’t it?’ then FEAR NOT. I was in exactly that boat before I made this recipe. I hardly ever bought lamb because I thought it was too expensive and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. As much as I love the flavour of lamb, (soooo good), I thought I needed super meat cooking skills (which I do not have) to cook lamb well.

Turns out I was wrong. Lamb koftas are super easy to make, and so versatile too as you can add lots of different seasonings, herbs and spices depending on what flavours you like. Fun fact for you: lamb is a lot more sustainable than most other animal agriculture farming. It’s also one of the healthiest meats you can eat – it’s rich in niacin and vitamin B12 and a great source of things like protein, zinc, potassium and phosphorus.

Lamb doesn’t have to be expensive either – the 500g of lean lamb mince that I used in this recipe was just four pounds, and that made enough lamb koftas for four people. One pound a head isn’t bad is it? Most of the rest of the ingredients are either things you have in your cupboards already, or fresh, seasonal vegetables that can be picked up cheaply from a local greengrocer – this feast for four people definitely comes in at under a tenner.

Basically you’ve got no excuse not to buy some lamb RIGHT NOW and whip up some lamb koftas for tea.

easy lamb kofta kebab recipe

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In association with Aqua Optima

Okay, I know, it’s not Wednesday. Well not when I’m writing this anyway. Maybe you’re reading it on a Wednesday though, that’s a possibility. In which case well done – great timing.

The alliteration isn’t key though, it’s just one way to remind yourself of the importance of HYDRATION. Now I don’t want to get all ‘lecturey parent’ on you, but come on, when was the last time you properly drank enough? I mean like not tea and coffee or fizzy drinks, just actual water, all through the day?

I see you there, looking sheepish.

I’m just as guilty. I do drink a lot, but I drink my fair share of caffeine filled tea and coffee too, and squashes, smoothies and fizzy drinks all full or sugar or artificial sweeteners. Now I’m not saying these things don’t contribute towards hydration, but it would be much better for me if at least some of the time I cut out all the additives and just drank water.

(Wine though! *sad face*)

how to drink more water

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

So. What to do about it?

Like most things it’s really just a matter of forming new habits. Once you do anything often enough it can become routine, it’s just finding the things that will help you to form the habits in the first place.

Here are some ideas: View Post

It’s a bit of a standing joke in my family that I’ve only just realised that ‘beach holidays’ is a concept. I said to Bee once that I’d always liked the idea of just going somewhere hot, lying on a beach and not doing anything. “Umm yeah,” she said, “you mean a beach holiday?”

Oh yeah.

But even though beach holidays are pretty popular and I didn’t invent them apparently, they’re not for everyone. Not everyone likes just lounging about on the beach for hundreds of pounds – they’d rather do something a bit more exciting and stimulating. Bee herself doesn’t even LIKE holidays at all (bit weird) but even she might like one of these ideas if she had something to occupy herself with.

I’ve always fancied going on a holiday with more of an itinerary so I don’t have to plan everything and don’t have any of that holiday regret where you wish you’d packed a bit more in. Here are some of my favourite unusual holiday ideas that aren’t just lying around on the beach.

Feel Yoga in Portugal

Whether you’re a daily Yogi or you’ve never practised before, a yoga holiday can be the perfect retreat for self-reflection and self-improvement. Yoga can be a really relaxing exercise, so this can be a great way of using your holiday time to get fitter while clearing your mind and also learning a new skill to take home with you. Do all of this in a beautiful sunny location with Feel Yoga in Portugal. There’s also a spa so you can truly relax and unwind.

yoga holiday View Post

In association with National Express

Picture the scene…

It’s November 1st, I’m wearing my Christmas pyjamas, and I’ve cracked open a bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream. There might be a mince pie warming in the oven and it’s all I can do not to watch the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special. Even better, I don’t care a jot about all those people who are HUMBUGGING all over the place, telling me November is too early for Christmas.

IT’S NOT.

If it was, then how do you explain the fact that there are currently over 50 wood cabins in Bristol city centre selling Christmas gifts, mulled wine and oversized sausages?

(Seriously, what is it with the bratwurst? Why do they not design them to fit in the buns, or buy buns big enough to hold them?)

Bristol Christmas market

Bristol Christmas market even has CURLING, which feels pretty festive to me, and a Jäger Barn Bar, which feels slightly less so, but I guess it’s drinking, so that counts. Of course the downside to visiting a Christmas market is that often you’ve driven there, which means you can’t really do the mulled drinks offering justice. Ironically, the stress of finding somewhere to park, and then realising it is going to cost you £2 PER HOUR, means you really need a mulled wine more than ever.

Fortunately I have a solution: National Express.

Ta-dah! View Post

Today was the day that I was expecting the proof copies of my novel to arrive.

I waited in all day, but then the postman came just as I was dropping Belle back at college in the afternoon and when I got back my parcel was outside behind the bin. Not the most salubrious of starts to my novel writing career, but potentially quite fitting with the tone of the book, plus it makes a nice intro to this post.

Once I’d retrieved the parcel from behind the wheel bin, avoiding falling into the green box full of empty cat food tins, I took it inside, into the kitchen, and opened it.

Inside I found these:

Playgroups and prosecco

They look pretty nice don’t they? Thicker than I imagined, but then I did write 95,000 words, (can you believe!), so I suppose they do take up space. I looked at them stacked for a little while. I liked the neatness of them. I imagined them on one of those tables as you go into Waterstones. View Post

In association with the Money Advice Service

Bringing up two children, mainly on my own, the first one in tow when I was just 17, hasn’t always been easy financially.

Over the years I’ve accumulated debts, worried about them, tried to ignore them, faced up to them, paid them off, eaten 9p noodles for dinner regularly and switched jobs so many times that I found myself with seven separate pension pots.

Let’s call it a journey. Things always sound sexier when you call them a journey don’t they?

My point is that over the years I’ve been poor and I’ve been less poor, but I’ve learnt lessons. Some of them big ones, some not so big. One of the most important financial lessons I’ve learnt is that the very worse thing you can do is to bury your head in the sand and pretend that you don’t need to think about finances.

Spoiler: YOU DO.

The good news though is that there is a lot of support and information out there, and once you start learning more about the financial matters that impact you and your family you can quickly feel much more in control – it can actually feel very empowering and is great for your mental health too.

This week – 12-18 November – is Talk Money Week, a new public awareness week from the Money Advice Service to help encourage people to have more open conversations about money. With this in mind, and to show you that money doesn’t need to be scary, I’ve put together a list of nine ideas for parents (and non-parents) that could save you money either right now this very second, or for years to come. All of these would make great starting points for discussions about money with family and friends.

Face up to your debt

If you’re struggling with debt at the moment chances are you’re doing your best to ignore the FACTS of the situation. When I was in debt in my mid-twenties, post single parent degree, it’s exactly what I did for a good couple of years and it is a guaranteed way to make yourself feel terrible. Not only that, it doesn’t do you any favours financially as interest just racks up and people get cross. It turns out that banks and credit card companies aren’t keen on being ignored.

If I could offer just one piece of advice it would be to take a deep breath, get all those letters out of the back of the drawer, and start making a plan for how you’re going to tackle it. You will find that if you are honest and communicative most lenders will want to help come to a manageable arrangement with you – far better for them to have you paying them back five pounds a month than nothing at all.

The Money Advice Service has loads of practical advice here on how to start tackling debt. I promise you won’t regret it. Do not just hold a book over your head and pretend the bills aren’t all falling down around you. (Definitely what this guy is doing.)

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

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