Just Another Monthly #2

Something to think about:

baby child close up crying

My most hated word in the English language? Just.

“Why are you doing it like that? Just do it like this?”

Just do it”

Just don’t do it”

“It’s easy. Just…”

Just. Just. JUST

Why does such a seemingly inoffensive word rile me so much? It presumes so much. It presumes that the answer to your problem is simple and why haven’t you thought of it? It’s ok, the irony is not lost on me. The word just is in both my blog name and this post’s title. However, it’s the use of the word just when telling someone to do something that specifically gets my goat. Here’s an example:

Some years ago, when I was having terrible problems settling my baby in a cot for the first time, I had a little moan about it at the baby group I regularly attended.

“She won’t settle. She screams. She cries. She doesn’t like the cot at all and was much happier in her moses basket.”

“Ah,” interjected a fellow mum, “just put her in a sleeping bag in the cot”

“I’ve done that. It didn’t make a difference” was my reply

Just put her in the moses basket in the cot, to get her used to it”

“Yep, tried that too. Also didn’t work”

Just comfort her whilst she’s in the cot crying, so she knows there’s nothing to be scared of”

“I mean, I’ve definitely done that….”

Just leave her to cry it out”

“Sure, I’ve done that too, but she seems particularly unhappy…”

“Well, I don’t have any other suggestions. Sorry”

And that was the end of the conversation. The thing was, I wasn’t looking for advice. I merely wanted to have a moan. To get it off one’s chest as it were. And all I wanted in return was a “oh dear, that must be shit. It will be ok though” type response.

Here’s the thing, it’s my theory that most of the time when someone is upset about something or having a moan about something, they rarely want or need advice. Chances are if they’re relatively intelligent, they’ve already tried all the obvious solutions. All they need is someone to listen and allow them vent. We all need this outlet.

In a world where mental health is on the increase and we are encouraged to talk about our problems, we need as much encouragement to ensure people know how to listen and give people space to talk. It’s all very well giving advice and I’m sure people like the mum in my example have good intentions, but we should not underestimate the power of just listening and just letting people talk. Ha. Oh ok, perhaps I don’t dislike the word just all the time.

By the way, my baby got used to the cot. All she needed was a bit of time to get used to it. Nothing else.

Something to be cheerful about:

  • 5,000 people queued up in the rain to see if they were able to help save the life of one little 5-year old boy. Oscar Saxelby-Lee has a very rare form of blood cancer and needs a stem cell transplant in the next 3 months. After an appeal for potential donors, almost 5,000 people turned up at Oscar’s school to register for testing to see if they’re a match. This is over double the amount of people that have turned up for any other appeal for donors from the DKMS blood cancer charity- the previous record being 2,200. A further 1,000 people have since registered to be tested to see if they’re a match for Oscar.

oscar-saxelby-lee-leukaemia-cancer-st-johns-worcester-three-months-thousands-queue-hours-1579241

  • India has opened its first hospital for rescued and abused elephants. The hospital in Uttar Pradesh has already treated 26 elephants. The elephants have mainly been rescued from tourist attractions such as circuses, street-riding and also from private owners. Elephants held in these conditions results in them developing many health conditions and malnutrition. The hospital has plenty of sophisticated equipment such as ultrasound scans, radiology, laboratory testing and a hydrotherapy pool to help nurse the poor elephants back to health. Once they are healthy again, they are sent to elephant sanctuaries to spend their retirement in full health and happiness.

animal elephant tusk close up

Something to buy:

jude-pooch_multi_2

Louche Jude Pooch Pyjama Shirt, £45, from Joy the Store

IMG_0494

Senora Ceramic Vase, £39.99, from Okla

Something to read:

81e57741RNL

I’ve already talked about my love of food HERE and mentioned Ruby’s newsletter there, but I implore you to read this book by Ruby. It’s one long love song about food and reasons to enjoy it guilt free. Honestly, you won’t be able to read it without salivating. There’s also the odd recipe sewn in between all the chapters about why food matters and why we should enjoy it. It’s all about the pleasure.

Something to watch:

24274633_382835675500640_8530874101575712768_n

Anybody that follows me on Instagram, will know that I’m currently obsessed with the Netflix reality makeover show Queer Eye. It’s so much more than a makeover show though. There’s more focus on making people feel happier with themselves and their lives. The Fab 5 (Karamo, Jonathan, Antoni, Tan and Bobby) spend a lot time sitting down with their heroes (as the participants are referred to as) talking to them and finding out about their lives and pasts. The show is engineered to be incredibly emotive,  but if you’re like me then you’re rather partial to a tearjerker. I’ve become obsessed with the show, binge watching the first two seasons, but for me the best thing about the show is the Fab 5. Their charisma and warmth is infectious. I am desperate for them to be my new best friends. And the good news is that the new season is on Netflix from today. So grab a box of tissues and get watching Queer Eye.

Something to cook:

Shakshouka

Okay so boiling an egg in a frying pan of tinned tomatoes, may not sound the most appealing, but trust me this recipe is delicious. It’s a very comforting and warming dish (and looking out of the window right now, we still need that comfort and warmth) plus the ingredients are usually always at hand. It’s traditionally a North African/Middle Eastern breakfast, but I have it for lunch.

Ingredients (serves 1)

Olive Oil

I garlic clove

Chilli flakes (as much as you like)

Paprika

1 egg (or 2 if you’re hungry)

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

Salt

Parmesan

Method

  • Fry the garlic in the oil with the chilli flakes for a minute
  • Chuck the tin of chopped tomatoes in and get them boiling
  • Crack the egg in the middle
  • Sprinkle parmesan on top (again, as much as you like)
  • Put a plate or lid over the frying pan and leave to simmer on a low heat for about 5 mins
  • Serve with a thick slice of buttered bread and more parmesan on top

Tip: you can pad this meal out with sliced peppers and/or onions. Fry them first before you add the tomatoes and egg. You can also add other spices to it that you might enjoy such as cumin and cayenne pepper.

img_0501.jpg

Sorry my food photos are pretty rubbish, but trust me- this is bloody lovely.

Something to help save the planet with:

cardomom-dental-floss-georganics-1138x1138

Natural Dental Floss £5

Plastic-free dental floss! I use this regularly (do I get a sticker?) and it’s as good as regular floss. It’s made from natural and sustainable silk, PETA certified cruelty free, 100% natural with no chemicals and it comes in a little reusable glass jar. When you finish the floss in this jar, you can buy refills, which in turns helps limit plastic waste. You can buy it in either mint or cardamon flavour. Oh and the floss is compostable. So what are you waiting for? Get flossing! You can get it HERE

Something to enjoy from the Blogosphere:

Please pop over to Angela’s blog and have a read of her candid and (as always) thoughtful post on co-parenting HERE. She always writes so well and this is an exceptional post on the difficulties of having to regularly wave goodbye to your child.

IMG_00117

Something to listen to:

Just Another Playlist #2- A weekly mix tape of an eclectic collection of tunes (maybe to listen to while you make the Shakshouka)

Something to laugh at:

Imma just gonna leave this here without comment:

IMG_0518

***Don’t forget you can sign up to receive this monthly newsletter straight into your mailbox. Just click the little “Follow” box at the bottom, right hand of the screen and enter your email address***

See you next week for the top The Cure songs and Just Another Monthly will be back in a month’s time!

Just Another Monthly

Something to think about:

accomplishment ceremony education graduation

Once when I casually mentioned in passing my attendance at university, it was met with a scoffing dismissal “Pah, I went to the University of Life, mate. No amount of education can teach you that”. True, BUT…..This wasn’t the first time me being a graduate has been criticised and met with an assumption that I know less about life because of going to university. It begs the question, do people who do this, think people stop living and experiencing life when they attend university? Like many students, I held down a part-time job during term time and worked full-time during the holidays as well as -of course- studying full-time. I met and lived with people from all different backgrounds. And I worked my tiny derriere off to obtain my degree (unlike the lazy stereotype that all students are lackadaisical). None of this is “not learning about life”. Also, university is for only 3 years (4/5 years max) of one’s life. If it truly does take you away from learning about life, it really is only for a small amount of time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t by any means think that going to university is a superior life choice. I’m not some kind of arsehole that walks around thinking they’re better than anyone that hasn’t been to university. And of course, being or not being a graduate is not an indicator of someone’s intelligence. I knew plenty of people at uni, who I would squint at and wonder how on earth they managed to get into university and there are countless people I know who are very clever and successful, but did not attend uni (my husband being one of them). There are many life choices people can make and university is just one of many. So here’s the thing, why is it ok for some people to openly criticise my life choice of going to uni? And to criticise it in a way that demeaning my character seems to be the motivation. I give very little fucks whether you’ve been to uni or not. Why do you give any that I have? We’re all different and all make different choices about our lives. Just because something is the right choice for you, doesn’t mean that it is for everyone. Relax. Like I said, I really don’t think people care what your choices are regarding your education (and if they do- they aren’t worth worrying about). Literally, all people care about is whether you’re a wanker or not. And insinuating that I know less about life than you do because I studied for an extra 3 years than you, is you know…a bit wankerish.

Something to be cheerful about:

It ain’t all going to shit you know. In this week’s news:

  • sandwich chain Pret A Manger has opened a new hostel this week that will provide jobs and housing for the city’s homeless. I worked for Pret for several years and can vouch that they have always cared for the homeless. In its infancy, any left over sandwiches would be bagged up and taken to local shelters. Nothing would go to waste. Pret hopes this hostel will be the first of many to open across the country. What a great idea to break the cycle of homelessness.
  • scientists have said the ozone layer is continuing to recover well. The northern hemisphere is due to be repaired by 2030 and the entire layer by 2060. This is due to global reduction of harmful gases. Great news, but drastic action is still needed to help further protect the planet from climate change.
  • goat yoga is a thing of the past. In England, you can now do Alpaca yoga. Yep, in sunny Devon you can now do yoga classes in a field of fuzzy alpacas and mediate amongst the herd in a mindful manner. Sign me up!

photo of a llama

 

Something to buy:

DSC_0871_600x.jpg

Gingham flower dress, £85, Coco Fennell

tdd_magda-archer-clutch_v2_1024x1024_91580031-6087-48ae-9459-e516e202f003_590x.jpg

Please Go Away clutch bag, £25, from I Love Mel

Something to read:

9781782116820

Whether you have depression, have suffered from it in past, know someone who is suffering from it or just want to learn more about it (and life), then please stop and read this book. Beautifully written by Matt Haig, who relays his own personal experiences with depression and anxiety. It will make you laugh and cry in equal measures. One of those books that you feel everyone should be made to read.

Something to watch:

44320-Roma_-_Alfonso_Cuaron__Film_Still_

Roma won the BAFTA for Best Film this week (and Best Film not in the English Language, Best Cinematography and Best Director). I absolutely adored this film. Honest, moving, sweet, artistic and at times funny. After I watched it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Whilst, I’m still not 100% sure it should have won the Best Film category, it was most definitely worthy of the other three wins. You can watch it now on Netflix and if you’re a fan of films like this, then I guarantee you’ll love Roma.

Something to cook:

Chocolate Raspberry Heart Cake

Has it been Valentine’s Day this week? Well as you know, I’m not one for romance (you can read about it HERE), but I do like any excuse to bake. So, every year (if I can be bothered), I make this chocolate raspberry heart cake originally created by Annabel Karmel and slightly amended by me.

429706_10150668211825119_759280420_n.jpg

A not very good (and old school Instagrammed) photo of my chocolate raspberry heart cake

Ingredients:

180g soft butter

180g caster sugar

180g self-raising flour

30g cocoa powder

3 large eggs

2 tbsp milk

Filling:

200ml double cream

Fresh raspberries

Icing:

100g dark chocolate

30g unsalted butter

Raspberry jam

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 160/180/gas mark 4. Grease and line the bottom of a heart shaped tin (or whatever cake tins you might have at hand. I got my silicone heart shaped tin from good ole M&S)
  2. Chuck all the cake ingredients together. Take Mary Berry’s advice and make sure everything is at room temperature. If your butter is still hard and cold- melt it in the microwave for a few seconds. Give everything a jolly good mix.
  3. Whack it in the tin and bake it in the oven for 35-40mins. Take the tin out and leave for a couple of minutes. Then take the cake carefully out of the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  4. Now, let’s make the icing. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over the pan of simmering water. Then leave to cool.
  5. Next, the filling. Whisk the cream until stiff. Mix with a good handful of the raspberries.
  6. Once the cake is cooled. Carefully, oh so very carefully slice in half. Then slather a bit of raspberry jam on the bottom half. Then dollop the cream filling on top. Then place the top half on and carefully press down.
  7. Slather more raspberry jam on the top half.
  8. Once the icing is cool. Paste it on top of the cake and around the sides (if you like or leave the sides “naked” if you prefer that look).
  9. Cover the top of the cake with the rest of the fresh raspberries.
  10. Stuff it into your face and enjoy every mouthful.
  11. Sharing this cake with your partner is not compulsory.

Something to help save the planet with:

beeswaxwrapchildrenslunchpacklowresnewlogo.jpg

Beeswax Wraps kids pack of 4

Beeswax Wraps: Every little helps, eh? These little gems have been fantastic. I literally haven’t used any cling film since I bought them (coupled with silicone lids I also invested in). These beeswax wraps cling to food, just like cling film. I use them to wrap sandwiches, snacks, cheese, halved veg and there’s probably lots of other ways you can use them too. You just clean them along with all the rest of your washing up and when you have used them so many times, you can no longer use them any more, they are compostable. I’ve had mine for 6 months and there’s plenty of life left in them. Buy them HERE.

Something to enjoy from the Blogosphere:

Go have a read of this blog post HERE. It is one to cheer you all up. Features a mum who is now my role model quite frankly.

img_5479-1200x1500.jpg

Seriously, don’t mess with her.

Something to listen to:

Just Another Playlist #1- A weekly mix tape of an eclectic collection of tunes (maybe to listen to while you make the cake)

Something to laugh at:

  • Look no further than the SimonCowellsShoes.jpg Twitter account HERE. I am so thankful for this account. It is exactly what the internet is for.
  • And lastly, these french bull dogs with googly eyes are EVERYTHING:

***Don’t forget you can sign up to receive this monthly newsletter straight into your mailbox. Just click the little “Follow” box at the bottom, right hand side of the screen and enter your email address***

See you next week for the top Björk tunes (and Just Another Monthly will be back in a month’s time)!

 

Good News! Cheery News! Non-depressing News!

I won’t dwell on it too much, but 2016 has thus far been a right bastard of a year. It has been an annus horribilis for everyone. From the multitude of unthinkable terrorism, plethora of celebrity deaths and now the fall out post-EU referendum, 2016 can well and truly suck my dick. If I had one. I find myself firing up the BBC News website with one eye closed in fear of what horrific news I will come upon. It seems to be a free fall of bad news after even more bad news. So, in some kind of pathetic attempt to try and vaguely cheer us all up, I welcome you to a news page of a different kind. One that will only deliver good news. News that doesn’t make you want to give up on humanity. News that may even bring a smile to your face. Now make yourself a cup of tea, take a deep breath and be assured that it’s not all bad shit going down right now.

Love is in the Air!

Oh yes it is indeed. Not one, but two policemen got down on one knee and proposed to their boyfriends at last weekend’s Pride celebrations in London. Luckily they both said yes. Here’s a heartwarming clip of one of the proposals. All together now. aaaaahhhhhhh.

Christmas is Finally Here!

Well it is for the folk of Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire anyway. Do you remember the devastating floods that happened over Christmas 2015? And do you remember that in particular, the town Hebden Bridge was affected by these floods in ways that were unimaginable? This meant that nobody in Hebden Bridge got to celebrate Christmas last year as their homes and businesses were completely flooded and inhabitable. Well, I’m pleased to tell you that the folk of Hebden Bridge have finally had their Christmas. On the 25th June, they had an “alternative Christmas” where residents had a sit down Christmas meal, drank mulled wine and partied to Christmas tunes on the street that had been turned into a river 6 months previously. Many businesses that have been shut since Christmas, officially reopened too letting everyone know that Hebden Bridge is indeed back up and running. Hooray!

101656800_Christmas_dinner_is_served_in_Hebden_Bridge_as_part_of_their_alternative_celebrations_afte-large_trans++gsaO8O78rhmZrDxTlQBjdGtT0gK_6EfZT336f62EI5U

English Sport CAN be Celebrated.

Ok, so we didn’t exactly ‘dominate’ the UEFA European Championship (to put it mildly) this year, BUT did you know that whilst we shook our heads at missed goals, actual passion etc our England rugby team were OWNING it during the Australian test series, by winning it 3-0. If anything, it should give the optimist in us, some hope for English football (bear with me). As you may recall the English rugby team gave a shameful performance at last year’s World Cup, not even making it past the group stages, but this year and with the help of new coach Eddie Jones they have completely turned it around and won both the 6 Nations and now the test series in Australia. Congratulations to the England rugby team.

england-v-australia

This Otter Eating Food

This adorable, squealing otter eating cat food with his little paws makes me desperately want to have a one as a pet. He’ll be fine hanging out in my bath, won’t he? Everything that’s right with the world is in this clip. I LOVE HIM.

Coldplay Perform Moving Tribute to Viola Beach

So, musically I’m not your biggest Coldplay fan, but I was moved by their tribute to British band Viola Beach during their headlining performance at Glastonbury festival last Sunday. Viola Beach were the British band who, along with their manager all tragically lost their lives when their car plunged 80ft off of a bridge into a canal in Sweden. Coldplay allowed Viola Beach to headline Glastonbury for one song, playing their music video on the big screens and playing along with the track. It was nothing short of beautiful and must have been an emotional, but wonderful moment for Viola Beach’s families.

Beautiful Children Being Beautiful

Many kids dread their sports days, especially if like me, you always came last in the races (look I’m more of long distance runner than a sprinter, OKAY!). One boy in particular dreaded his sports day this year. Daniel has cerebral palsy and told his Mum he didn’t want to join in sports day this year as he was worried that people would laugh at him for coming last again. Unbeknown to him and his Mum, all the boys in his race slowed down at Daniel’s pace and ran along side him and allowed him to cross the line first. According to his Mum, he was so happy he’d won, he burst into tears and ran for a hug with her and has been full of joy ever since. If that doesn’t go some way in restoring your faith in humanity, I’m not sure what will. Children are our future and all that. You can watch the beautiful video here.

And Lastly, Idiotic Goats

Oh we love a good goat video, don’t we? Watch these goats talking back and having a proper go at someone. This should get you smiling again.