It’s that time of the year again that I love – the run up to Christmas, where the nights draw in, and it starts becoming socially acceptable to eat mince pies for breakfast.

Oh, and I get a hacking cough that lasts for weeks and Belle starts to hate me.

Evenings in our house go something like this.

Me: COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH

Belle: *frowns*

Me: Sorry. It will stop in a minute – COUGH SPLUTTER – would you like me to go upstairs?

Belle, sternly, having had to pause her Netflix vampire programme: Yes.

See? She hates me.

It soon switches around though when SHE gets a cold and starts her wretched sniffing. (Which you’d think, now she’s 15 years old, would be behind us.) I say sniffing, although often it’s less of a deep, satisfying sniff, and more of an irritating attempt at one.

‘Mum, listen,’ she’ll says, trying unsuccessfully to sniff, ‘I can’t breath.’

‘Yes, thank you, I can hear that.’

‘But listen,’ more sniffing attempts, ‘my nose is all blocked up.’ A bit more sniffing, until my shoulders are suitably tense.

CUE OLBAS NASAL SPRAY. View Post

This week I had one of those moments where you feel like the universe is trying to tell you something.

I was having a bit of a funny morning one day, where I was feeling a bit unsure about something, and just kind of wandering about feeling twitchy and indecisive. I decided to go into Waterstones, because really, when DOESN’T looking at books make you feel better?

The first display I saw was this one:

Solitude how to be alone

That book stands out a bit really doesn’t it?

I had a bit more of a mooch. I picked up a book at random and opened it at a random page. This page in fact: View Post

When you read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a child, how desperate were you for the three course meal in one piece of chewing gum to be a reality? I wanted it so badly. As I read it I swear I could feel the hot tomato soup at the back of my throat, followed by the rich, roast beef.

(I stopped imagining before I turned into a blueberry obviously. No one wants that.)

I’ve always been kind of fascinated by the idea of meal replacements. In old school science fiction people of the future were forever knocking back tiny pills as substitutes for entire meals and the principle really appeals to me – I’d never have to worry about ‘accidentally’ eating 14 Oreos ever again. Everything would be so simple. I’d be so slim…

Of course despite what the stories would have us believe, a meal in a pill could never be a thing. You just can’t get the calories you need into such a small thing. Back to the Oreos for me then.

Or is it?

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been trialling a meal replacement system called Solo. Solo is a vegan, allergen free, dairy and gluten free meal replacement powder that you mix up with water to make a shake. It contains all 26 essential vitamins and minerals, 100% of your recommended fibre intake, and can in theory entirely replace regular food.

I say ‘regular food’, but Solo IS food. That’s key here. It’s not some kind of artificially produced powder, it’s made with natural whole foods – wholegrain gluten free oats, pea protein, flaxseed, coconut – real food. There are 42g of protein in each serving, so it fills you up too. I’m genuinely not hungry for several hours after a Solo shake, and I can eat pretty much anything, any time. (See above about the Oreos.)

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When we moved into our new house, the garden had a very distinct look. I’m going to call it ‘prison yard chic.’

Now for some people, the idea of a square of gravel might be bliss – no grass to cut, no plants to maintain – but for me, not so much. Our living room runs the width of the back of the house and has a very big window. I didn’t especially want to sit on the sofa and gaze out onto this:

garden makeover tips

garden makeover

Nope.

I wanted a TROPICAL PARADISE.

I described it to my friend Lucy, and she drew me some stratgeic plans: View Post

A couple of weeks ago I did something that was pretty disgusting but potentially very interesting. I filled a tube with spit and then I took a sample of my own poop.

Even better, I then put both of them in the post.

You want to date me RIGHT NOW DON’T YOU?

I’m not going to go into too much detail about how exactly I did it, suffice to say that it wasn’t the most glamorous of occasions. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being receiving an award at a glitzy ceremony and 10 being the time I accidentally pooped a little bit on a midwife whilst giving birth, it was a strong six. However, when my samples arrive at the Atlas Biomed lab for analysis I’m going to find out some very interesting things about my DNA and my gut bacteria.

Atlas Biomed DNA test

It’s kind of weird really that those are both something that for nearly 40 years I’ve known pretty much nothing about, given how key they both are to how my body works. Both are unique, and important factors in things like disease risk, and yet we wander around, oblivious to what’s going on behind the scenes. View Post

Here are some things I love:

  1. Books
  2. Winter evenings when it’s cosy indoors

For this competition, 1 + 2 = EIGHT books to keep you busy as the evening draw in and you find yourself at home, wondering if it’s okay to watch three episodes of the Dynasty remake back to back.

It’s not really okay guys. Switch the TV off and do something wholesome instead, like enter this competition and learn how to make a bunch of paper flowers.

This competition is brought to you in partnership with The Book People, who I absolutely love. They are such a staple for me, especially in the run up to Christmas, that the top shelf of my wardrobe turns into a big pile of The Book People boxes during November and December. You could do most of your Christmas shopping with them I reckon, and at the same time look way more generous than you actually are, as everything is such a bargain.

In today’s competition, I’ve chosen eight craft related books, which you could either keep for yourself or give away as gifts. I’d recommend going for a general browse through their craft books craft books too though, as there is so much to choose from that picking out these eight was HARD.

So, here’s what we’ve got: View Post