Here’s a scenario that may sound all too familiar…

It’s 7.45am. You’re behind schedule already, still have cats to feed and a child to ‘encourage’ to school, and you’re making yourself a piece of toast. It’s a good piece of toast too – thickly sliced and real butter.

And then the worst happens.

You drop the toast on the floor. Fortunately it lands butter side up, so you quickly swoop down and pick it up. Five second rule right?

I KNOW this is going to sound familiar because I did a poll on Twitter and rather worryingly, a shocking 46% of people believed that the five second rule was a legitimate thing. Like there is some kind of unspoken law amongst floor bacteria that if you see food fall on the floor you have to count to five in your head before you’re allowed to clamber aboard.

(Note to self: do bacteria have a concept of time? Probably not.)

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but this does NOT HAPPEN. It doesn’t even help if you blow on the toast, or sort of brush at it with the back of your hand. The research is pretty conclusive on this one. I’m not saying I don’t DO it, but it’s not SCIENCE.

I did the poll on the back of research from FoodSaver Fresh, which identified some of the top food myths around storing and eating food. I thought it might be fun to compare the FoodSaver Fresh research results with the results of my own polls – surely the kind of people who follow my witty, intelligent thoughts on Twitter are the kind of people who are going to be clued up when it comes to food hygiene right?

WRONG.

In the FoodSaver findings, only 25% of respondents believed in the five second rule. We were not off to a good start. View Post

Post in association with Tenderstem® broccoli

Tenderstem recipe

I don’t know how normal it is to have a specific memory associated with Tenderstem® broccoli, but it always makes me think of my Gran. After she had a stroke in her late 70s and couldn’t drive any more we’d take her food shopping every Saturday morning. Tenderstem® broccoli was something that I remember always being in the trolley, along with moussaka ready meals and rich tea fingers.

I mean sure, my memory is poor, and sometimes I forget entire conversations that happened only a week ago, but I’m going with the whole broccoli thing because it leads me so nicely into this post. Also I checked with my mum on our family WhatsApp group, (which I’m sure you can imagine is a veritable PARTY IN A PHONE), and she said ‘I can’t say I remember particularly, but I like it!’ and that’s good enough for me.

‘Broccoli is brilliant as part of Slimming World,’ she added, ‘as it’s a speed food and full of good things! I’ve eaten a lot of it over the last 18 months!’

‘Well,’ I said, smoothly, ‘you want to get to Iceland then, as they have just become the exclusive stockist of frozen Tenderstem® broccoli!’

‘I will make it my mission!’ replied my mum.

Oh the fun we have.

(My new found love of Iceland has become a bit of a family joke of late. Sometimes I say ‘hashtag ad’ when I talk about it. I seriously think my family might disown me if I bang on about the Sicilian Lemon Tartlets once more, but they weren’t complaining when I bought our entire New Year’s Day buffet lunch from Iceland were they?)

Anyway.

I was challenged to come up with a recipe using frozen Tenderstem® broccoli, and I decided on linguine with a homemade pea and mint pesto, (because I love peas), topped with Tenderstem® broccoli and a poached egg. The poached egg is where the challenge element comes in, as I am RUBBISH at poached eggs. You don’t get good at something without practice though right?

*makes nervous face* View Post

I’ve been single now for coming up five months.

On the one hand I am perfectly happy – work is good, I’m settling into my house, and have the kitties obviously. Who could fail to be happy with three cats of their very own to stroke every single day? I love being able to do everything on my own terms, have all the kittens on the bed without anyone raising their eyebrows at me, spend all my spare money on yellow velvet armchairs from eBay, all that jazz.

But also sometimes I feel lonely.

When I say this to people, or words to this effect, there isn’t a huge amount of sympathy.

‘You don’t need a man!’ people say. (Normally married people. Cheers guys.)

‘Embrace being single!’ (Okay…)

‘You’re perfectly fine just you!’ (Obviously.)

I do know all those things. I don’t NEED a man. I am perfectly capable of doing all the things that need to be done, I have loving friends and family, I can work a drill and I can kick back with a puzzle as well as the next person. I GET IT.

But still, sometimes I feel lonely.

Not in a way where I feel physically alone, but a little bit like something is missing. Just sometimes. Not like I’m sobbing into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s every night or anything, but from time to time it would be nice to have someone squeeze my hand and exchange a glance that’s just for me.

And this is OKAY. View Post

In association with Profile Pensions

Here’s a little known fact for you – I have a first class Economics degree and when I graduated I trained as an actuary. Yeah I know, I didn’t know what an actuary was either until I got the job, (it’s a lot of maths around pensions and insurance and risk), although I remember at the time reading somewhere that it was a job for ‘people who found accountancy too exciting’.

As you might well guess, it wasn’t really my dream job. What it does mean though is that I’m meant to know a bit about pensions.

What is it exactly about pensions that so many people find scary? Why do we bury our heads in the sand when it comes to long term finance? This attitude is particularly frustrating in the case of pensions as by the time you feel grown up enough to think about it, it’s TOO LATE. Okay, so it’s never too late exactly, but the younger you can start investing in a pension the better – money saved in your twenties is worth SO much more than in your forties. The state pension is currently only worth about £8,000 a year, so if you’re relying on this when you retire then you’re screwed. Sort out your pension NOW, however old you are.

Fortunately I did kind of twig this early on, (it would be a bit embarrassing if I hadn’t with the whole ‘working in pensions’ background), and I started paying into my first work pension scheme when I was 21. When I left that job to have Belle at 24 I took it upon myself to set up a stakeholder pension. I only paid in £60 a month initially, because I was on maternity leave and poor, but it has always been there, pottering along. Last year, when all the documents for my pensions could no longer fit into a lever arch file, I decided it was time to take action. I went through everything and it turned out, due to my flighty nature, that I had a total of seven pension pots from various jobs over the years.

Seven pensions is just a bit greedy isn’t it?

I went to an independent advisor, and they helped me streamline everything and transfer all seven into one pension pot. Just to reinforce the point about the earlier the better, that first pension that I paid into between the ages of 21 and 24? That’s now worth over £40,000. (Yeah, I know, I was surprised too.)

Is this making you think ‘Damn, I really should track down all my pensions and DO something with them?’

Good.

By the end of this post you are going to be digging that pretty little head of yours out of the sand and feeling excited about dealing with your pension situation. Well maybe not excited, unless you are a pension geek like me, but reassuringly positive at least. View Post

I had a BAD morning yesterday.

We’ve been away quite a lot over Christmas and New Year and as a result my fridge has been a little neglected. I had a bit of clear out on Sunday and had to throw away the following items:

  • Half a bunch of celery (bendy)
  • A box of mushrooms (mushy, forming a puddle in the drawer)
  • Half a punnet of grapes (shrivelled like my face in the mornings)
  • One kiwi fruit (Yuk)
  • A bunch of coriander (sad times)

It made me feel bad.

dirty old fridge

My fridge

In my defence, I did balance it out a bit by using half the celery and a lot of slightly iffy tomatoes to make accidental* homemade alphabet spaghetti, (recipe below), but it still made me feel terrible.

Top food waste culprits

Do you remember me writing recently about the FoodSaver Fresh system? The FoodSaver Fresh is a vacuum sealing solution that keeps food fresh for twice as long as conventional fridge methods like zip seal bags, foil and cling film. View Post

I have one New Year’s resolution this year – to wear more things with cats on.

I don’t mean actual cats – ALL of my clothes are covered in cat hair already – I mean pictures of cats.

This GENIUS idea came to me on New Year’s Day, when I happened to be wearing this cat print dress from a vintage clothing company called Joanie.

cat print dress

Joanie sells all kinds of cool, vintage style dresses, tops and skirts, in sizes 8-22. They offer free returns too, so you can try things on and not have to worry in case you accidentally look like a heffalump. (Except who would ever worry about that when you are wearing a cat dress?)

Joanie sent me a few pieces to try before Christmas, and I really loved all of them, so I thought I’d have a rummage through their sale and pick you out a few options.

You’re welcome. View Post