Some safe and fun ideas to treat you pets with for Christmas…

With all the Christmas fuss and fun, and long lists of things to do, people to plan gifts for, food to be prepared, and fun to be had, it’s easy for our pets to get put to the bottom of the list. We like to treat our cats to the things they like on Christmas Day, that are safe for them to enjoy. One of our cats is partial to some tuna, from the tin, and the other likes catnip flavoured chocolate. We like to spoil them a bit, just as much as we love to make a fuss of our human friends and family. 

Why not cook up a little something for your pets, for Christmas? 

Sainsbury’s Bank Pamper Your PetGifts for pets: Or if you don’t feel like cooking, you could pick up some gifts that your pet will appreciate. (Layla is not so sure about the grooming kit, she isn’t keen on being groomed, but some kitties love it, so don’t take her word for it!)

Sainsbury’s Bank Pamper Your Pet

Are you treating your pet to something special for Christmas this year? What do they like? We’d love to hear?


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If you love Guinness World Records then this is the game for you.

*This is a review post. We were kindly sent a game to play as a family, but all opinions are our own*

The Guinness Book of Records is iconic, and each edition is full of the feats and adventures of people who have broken old records or created new ones. I happen to have a small son who is obsessed with the books, and he loves taking the current edition and pouring over it to find out what strange and amazing records people have achieved and why they have done so. He will regale me with fascinating facts about things people have done, all in the name of getting featured in this world famous book.

So, the Guinness World Record Challenge Game seems like an obvious game he would enjoy that we can play as a family.

Guinness World Record Challenges – Do try this at home!

This game puts players knowledge about Guinness World Records to the test and challenges opponents to demonstrate some nifty record- breaking skills using everyday household items!

Players compete to answer some of the 600 Guinness World Record question cards, but the crux of the game is to complete the challenges, better than your opponents.

Cross the finish line with 3 challenge cards in your possession to be the winner!

600 Guinness World Record questions.

20 challenges in two formats – “best time” and “30 seconds”.

2 – 5 players.

Show off your impressive record-breaking skills!

Available at toy retailers, online and department stores for £24.99 esp

I will say that this is a fairly competitive game, that will pit you against your family and friends to prove you can meet the challenges and you will need to make sure you have some extra bits you will need to be able to play the game and a timer, on a smart phone or a watch.

We were able to improvise a bit but most things you usually have around your house.
The aim of the game is to achieve three challenges with one challenge from each colour section and the rules are fairly simple. Roll the dice, move your piece to the number of squares the dice says. If the dice gives you a colour then you have to move to a challenge square nearest to you on the board. You can then complete the challenge or nominate a fellow player to take the challenge. You might land on a question space. If you do, the player to the left of you picks up a question card and you have to answer the questions correctly to be allowed to move on. If you don’t get them right, it’s the next players turn. You are racing against a timer, too, so the pressure is on. If you don’t land on an challenge or question square at all as you go, and get back to the start, then you have to go round again.

We played as a family of four, but you can have up to five players. I think it works well with four, but more players would add to the fun.

This is a hilarious game, which will bring out the best and worst in you (I am NOT a good looser and I hate failing at challenges which my children think is hilarious) and it’s a good game to play with anyone in your family, from across the generations. I would say it’s probably not suitable for very young children, and the game age recommendation is 8 but my small boy at aged eight and a half, was able to really get into it and enjoy it, and rose to many of the challenges with gusto, and got quite good at some of them. If you are playing with someone younger, you could partner up with them, to help them, but I think the age suggestion is about right.

This would be brilliant for Christmas, when you have the whole family together, or if you want to liven up a party or a get together. I am not usually a game playing fan, but even I like this one, and it’s also educational, too, learning facts and feats and making your brain work at the questions.

If you know someone who loves the Guinness World Book of Records then this is the perfect game as a gift for them. I think it’s a game we will be playing again and again (only so I can finally actually get some challenges right and win, of course!!)

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Back I go… Anxiety makes you tired

There comes a point when you are having a mental health crisis where you reach the bottom of the ride. I tend to describe my anxiety like a fairground ride. 

You have your uphill climb, which is hard work, but you have no choice. Then you have the slow but gentle ride along a flat surface, which is calm, and feels nice and easy. Then you have the headlong descent into the ride where you are hurtling fast downwards and you cannot stop it. Then you hit the part where you aren’t going anywhere, and you have almost come to a stop, a rest, where you sort of lurk, then you either get off the ride for a while, or you start the climb again. I can’t get off my ride. Anxiety is my journey, and it’s a fairground ride that has chosen me, for better or worse as it’s long term occupant. 

It’s almost like a crash you know is coming. You pay to get on the ride, you strap yourself in, and you wait for it to happen. You don’t want to, but you have to. There is no other option. 

There is always a headlong descent. It can be a short one or a long one. There is always a period where you have come to a halt, you can’t go on. You are in stasis so to speak. 

Anxiety is my ride. Anxiety makes me tired. 

After a long bout of normal, slow, gentle moving along, feeling ALMOST in control on my ride, the drop happened and the hurtling ride into a crash has to happen. 

For me, the peak of a bad anxiety breakdown is tiredness. Anxiety makes me tired, because I have to battle my mind almost all the time to be able to function but when it reaches the peak the tiredness overwhelms me. 

For me, the lowest point is feeling so tired I cannot think clearly. Feeling so tired that everything around me irritates me, even those I hold nearest and dearest. 

For me, it’s feeling like no matter what I do, that feeling of tiredness clouds everything and I can’t focus. 

I want to sleep. I want to be left alone. I can’t bear the thought of talking to people, or interacting with people, or having to participate in normal life, and pretend it’s all ok. 

Anxiety makes me tired because I don’t look like I am struggling and because somehow, I can pull off an act of being ok. I will go out to lunch at someone’s home and put on a show of being there. I will join in a carol concert and sing along, when inside the last thing I want to do is be there. I will serve the public with a smile on my face, because if I don’t no one else will. But it makes me tired, so tired, this show must go on act that I carry out, whilst I try to get the tornado in my head to cease it’s roar and whilst I ride out the downward spiral into the limbo for a pause. It’s bone crushingly, mind numbingly tiring, this ride of mine. 

With me, and for me, there are distinct phases. 

Climb, calm ride, descent, limbo. The limbo is the worst. 

I am spent. I have used all my resources and my energy. I want to stop for a bit, but the world won’t let me. 

I am in limbo now. Exhausted. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to explain. I don’t want to justify why I am cancelling plans or saying no to things. I have known it was coming. My therapist said it would and she was right. 

It’s funny, because limbo isn’t a bad place. It’s just a place where you wait to see what will happen, but I hate it. It exhausts me more than all the other parts of my anxiety ride. 

So, for now, I sit and wait. The ride will start again, I will start the uphill climb. I don’t want to, right now, but I know in a while, I will feel like I want to and I will get back on the ride and strap myself back in. Maybe this time, the ride won’t be as bumpy. Maybe this time I will manage it better. I can’t say for sure. 

Back I go, the ride starts again…

* I am not broken. I know it’s ok to not be ok, but I want to be ok*

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Oh Christmas tree…

Our tree went up this week. 

There was a bit of squabbling involved. I wasn’t well, so lay on the sofa directing affairs, and trying not to get annoyed when things didn’t look like I wanted them too. Half way through, I decided to just let the kids loose and stopped telling them what to do, and they merrily got on with festooning the tree with a mix of home made (I keep all their home and hand made decorations, carefully each year, treasured to be put on the tree) and some hand made bought decorations and our usual collection of glass baubles that we add to each year. 

The cat of course supervised. She likes to make sure the baubles are just where she can get them. She will now spend the rest of the month staring at the tree and obsessing over the lights and baubles…

There was dispute about who got to put the star up, until it was decided that they should all do it together, and I took a photo…

It looks perfect. It’s not Pinterest worthy. No magazine would promote it as the ultimate stylish tree, but every year we make our tree our own, and this year has been tough, so our beautiful tree, making our room feel Christmassy, is just what it needs to be…

The tween and I may have stopped speaking to each other for five minutes after a dispute over decoration placement, but in the end it turned out fine, and love makes a tree far more beautiful, with it’s hand made, and made with little hands baubles, than any fancy designer creation…

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me;
How often has the Christmas tree
Afforded me the greatest glee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me.




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Cooking up some different with Sous Chef

*this is a review post, I was sent some items to try, and share about, but all opinions are my own*

I love to cook, and feed people. Being in the kitchen, making food, baking and also eating, is one of my happy places. I like feeding my family, and other people, be it guests coming to eat in our home, or taking meals to other people. I am not a cook that produces magazine worthy pretty meals, but like my mother, I can produce good food, that is usually enjoyed, both in the cooking and the eating. 

Sometimes I get a bit bored though and whilst I don’t not enjoy cooking, I get to feeling that I want to spice things up and cook something different. 

So when the team at Sous Chef asked me to get a bit adventurous in the kitchen, and try out some new ingredients I wasn’t going to say no. 

They have an amazing range of everything you need to get into the kitchen and create amazing food, from cookware, to inspriing recipe books, to ingredients that might be a bit trickier to get in the shops and you can create something from almost any cointry, with their wide range of spices, sauces and condiments. They can help you create delicious food from coutnries like Brazil, France, Korea, Mexico, Asia and the USA as well as many others. They also have some fabulous kits with cookbooks and hard to find ingredients, that come as a package, which would make an amazing gift for someone who loves to cook or is adventurous in the kitchen. 

I have a bit of a thing for cookbooks and they have some great books available to help you expand your repertoire, or brush up on some old cooking skills and I have had a lot of fun this week browsing and trying to decide what to cook. 

Because I am embarking on Veganuary in 2019 I am trying to ease myself into some more plant based foods, and be a bit more adventurous. 

I chose some recipes from this book using the ingredients that also come as a kit with the book. 

“With the Ottolenghi Simple cookbook and ingredients set you only need to add a few fresh ingredients to start making fuss-free, flavour-packed meals every day.

One of the things that Ottolenghi emphasises in Simple is how the right ingredients make all the difference. A dried herb here, a spice there – you can bring a whole new world of flavour to a dish with just one ingredient. With that in mind, we’ve paired his cookbook with seven hard-to-find ingredients that are essential for adding that extra something to many of the recipes in Simple.”

I opted for a beetroot recipe with tahini, dill, preserved lemon and red onion, slightly adapted to make it dairy free to suit the husband, paired with salmon using some of the spices and herbs in the kit, and we started off with some good bread and some herby olive oil to dip in and enjoy. 

The recipes require a little work but are well worth the effort and the kit is amazing, because some of the ingredients are hard to find, but make the meal extra special and because they come together you don’t have to hunt them down, which is so handy. 

Here’s where I let you in on a little secret. I loathed beetroot as a child and into adulthood, but started eating it when I was pregnant, because my doctor told me it would help me get some iron and other vitamins into me, and I realised that I love it. It’s a very versatile and healthy vegetable, and good for you too, and if cooked well, it can taste amazing. 

Cooking like this to produce beautiful and actually very healthy food is a lot of fun. The beetroot is a little messy but don’t le that put you off..

Getting prepped. Some seriously good ingredients ready to go…

Beets prepped and ready to slow roast in the oven.

Meanwhile, whilst we wait for dinner, we have some good bread (this is a gluten free bloomer, that works for the husband, and I made an olive oil dip with some herbs. 

Salmon is prepped. A little chilli and some nigella seeds, to give it flavour and texture, with a squeeze of lemon.

Meanwhile, the beetroot is cooked, cooled, peeled, and chopped and then combined with preserved lemon, dill, cumin seeds, onion, salt, pepper, and tahini mixed with yoghurt (again, I tweaked here and used a sheep milk yoghurt, that is as close to greek in flavour which is what the recipe calls for, but safe for the husband, who can’t eat cows milk products) 

Salmon is ready and we are good to go. 

Food made with love and care can take a bit of work, and when you are using ingredients that are a bit out of the ordinary, it makes it more of an effort, but it’s a good effort. The salad on it’s own was AMAZING. All the flavours mix so well together. This would be a great vegetarian main, served with lentils or rice, or just good bread, but it worked well with the salmon too. 

The husband was impressed, so impressed, he even offered to wash up, no mean feat when I had been in the kitchen making a mess with beetroot…

This kit and cook book, for me is a fab idea. The spices and condiments have many uses, and I am looking forward to making another meal next week, which I will also share about, and the book is full of ideas I can use to plan some great vegan meals and tweak to suit food allergies too. 


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Our week in photos – 3/12/18 – 8/11/18

Welcome to our weekly update, mostly for grandparents so they can see what we have been up to. 

This week has been a bit weird. I’ve had struggles with another bout of tonsillitis and have spent some of the week feeling pretty grim, had a shot of antibiotics in a part of my anatomy that isn’t polite to mention in public, which isn’t been fun. But onwards we go. 2018 is coming to a close and Christmas is coming up fast. 

We’ve fed our Christmas cake, it’s maturing nicely and I’m so looking forward to eating it when we go away. 

We’ve also put our Christmas tree up, cat supervised of course, as you can see. 

Christmas month is the only month when chocolate is allowed to be consumed before breakfast and my kids are up and keen to see what’s in their advent calendars. The bigger boy also likes to open his calendar too! 😉

The tween has disappeared off to guide camp this weekend, the husband has done his round of Christmas party duties and I made a mince pie cake which will be a recipe that I’ll be sharing on the blog in the next few days so watch out for that. 

We’ve made bread, eaten chocolate pots and started to slowly get into the Christmas mood! 

I smell like TCP, so no one wants to hug me, but I did also manage to source shin pads for the tween who suddenly decided she needed them very last minute for PE at school which meant a trip to the shops. The things we do for our kids! 

So that was our week. 

How was yours? 


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Stuff we love – November 2018

It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas. December is here. Our November round up of things we love is brief and late, because we are already a week into December and it’s all things Christmassy from now on in…

Sharing a few things we love. There may be some affiliate links within this post which does mean we get a small payment if you click and purchase via our blog but we only recommend stuff we really do like and love…

Those stunning earrings are from PoppyKittenDesigns and I bought them for the tween, as a well done for handling secondary school like a pro, present. She loves them. I am probably going to have to get myself a pair for myself. 

Tesco have a pretty good free from range, which we have shared about before, these Christmas cake slices went down well with those in my house who love Christmas cake. 

I forgot to check which shop this gorgeous pink Christmas tree was being sold in, when I took this photo. I was too busy trying to send the pictures to the husband telling him I had found us the perfect Christmas tree. He has no appreciation for pink and sparkly though and our tree is a traditional green, as usual this year. I did try though!

This Unicorn Santa Jumper is from Asda and my tween admitted that it wasn’t too awful and I was allowed to wear it out in public…

I have a thing for bobble hats and this pink one is from a local friend who bought it and decided it didn’t fit her so she gave it me! I think she got it from H&M. 

We celebrated St Andrew’s Day as a family, because I am half Scottish, and because I was totally not organised this year, we ended up being only able to find vegetarian haggis, which actually, was pretty convenient for me, and the rest of the family happily ate it and it tasted pretty good to me, freshly vegetarian, but missing things like haggis. 

I also was delighted to review this skin balm from Eucerin, which is great for dry and sore skin this winter, and handy to keep in a bag for when you need it. 

This eye cream from Pestle & Mortar was recommended by a friend, and I am so far very impressed with it. My eyes are looking very tired and I wanted something to try and repair some of the damage that a lot of sleep deprivation has produced. I was impressed by their customer service and speed of delivery. 

I am planning to go vegan for a month in January, and I am slowly adding to my list of things that I can substitute for cheese and eggs, and I have been trying out some cream cheeses from Bute Island Foods and even the skeptical husband was impressed with it, so it will definitely be on my shopping list in January. 

So that’s our November round up. Now onto all the fun of Christmas. 

We won’t be doing a round up for December, the next one will be January 2019.

Scary to think the year has almost ended! 

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Project 365 – a photo a day 6/12/18 adult life sucks, I want a refund??

2018 has been, like 2017, mostly pants with patches of ok. I kind of feel like adult life seems to be about managing the crap that’s thrown at you whilst pretending you are enjoying it all, and occasionally getting a bit of respite! 
Today has been all levels of pants. This blog was down, again, I haven’t been well, I had a shot in my bum and have been referred to see an ENT, next week I have minor surgery on my knee. Life goes on, people still make demands, children need to be fed and educated, houses kept clean and jobs attended to. 
I’m kind of done. I keep saying “it has to get better” 
Maybe it will. 
In the meantime, I’ve been signed off sick from work til Tuesday next week, I’m not answering any calls, e mails won’t be replied to and if you want me I’ll be binge watching Netflix and Amazon. Oh, and eating soft foods. These coconut chocolate pots are purely medicinal and doctor approved, honest! 

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Food allergy friendly stocking filler sweet treats from Swizzels

*this is a review post, we were kindly sent items to try, but all opinions are our own*

As a mum and wife who deals with family food allergies, I spend a lot of time working around trying to find foods that are safe for my food allergy boy. The husband and the boy both have a cows milk allergy. Consuming food or drink with cows milk in it can make them both feel pretty unwell, so we try to avoid that if possible. 

I often tend to opt for vegan foods because they don’t contain dairy products. Vegan foods are handy, for people with a dairy or egg allergy, for that reason, and it’s something I always tell people who are new to dealing with a dairy allergy to look for. 

Something people don’t often realise or check is the ingredients in sweets and if you are vegan, or vegetarian or have a diary allergy, finding sweets that don’t contain dairy ingredients or animal products (food colourings derived from animals, or gelatine for example) can be a bit trickier and sometimes a bit frustrating. 

With Christmas round the corner, looking for stocking fillers and sweet treats can be a bit tricky, but Swizzels make a whole range of sweets that are suitable for those who are vegan or dairy allergies. 

Swizzels are one of the longest running sweet factories in the world.
We’ve been making sweets since 1928 and still continue inventing to this day.

If you a fan of Parma Violet sweets (like me) or Love Hearts then you know that Swizzles sweets are classics, and have stood the test of time. 

Their vegan and vegetarian selection is perfect if you are looking for safe treats and they have some classics and old favourites and treats that are perfect for Christmas stockings, party bags, gifts for the party at school, or for keeping to hand for quick treats that you know are safe to eat.

My family do have a bit of a sweet tooth, so they do love sweets and lollipops. It’s hard for us to choose which are our favourite from the Swizzles range, but when we take a vote, the Choos probably win. 

The classic Drumstick Choos with their or Refreshers Choos and the flavours you know and love are a firm favourite and the bags are handy because you can dish out one or two as a treat (and then hide them for next time, like I have to in our house!)

I am all about balance in life, and we do try and eat healthily and keep treats and sweets to a minimum but when I am looking for something that I know is safe to eat or hand out as a treat, then it’s handy to know that Swizzels are there, and I can trust that they are classic made sweets that will go down well, with their wide range of choices to suit all tastes but that they are ok for my allergy family. 

The only problem I have is not letting them all get eaten in one go… 😉


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Back I go. Therapy. What anxiety makes me do…

This week is my last week of therapy before Christmas. I am not excited about my session but I am ok with going and last week was helpful, if not a fair bit painful. 

This is a brief post this week, but people have asked me what anxiety makes me do, how it manifests in my mind, and what attributes and signs do I show or feel. 

This diagram sums up a lot of the feelings, reactions and physical “manifestation” (for want of a better word) that happen to me. 

(This was sourced from social media, I cannot link to it’s creator, but if you know who they are please say so, and I will credit them)

I do have difficulty managing emotions but I don’t cry a lot. I am not defiant or challenging (or at least I don’t think I am, this is the bit where all my friends and family chime in that I am and THEN my therapist and I will have even more to think about. I do avoid events sometimes but mostly I tend to push myself hard to prove myself and then struggle with utter exhaustion afterwards and anxiety about how people perceived me. 

I also:

Take on too much, in my life, to prove to myself that I am strong, capable, and to make other people happy. 

Try to please everyone else at the expense of my own mental health. 

Spend a lot of time worrying about things I have done and what people think of me and how much people are talking about the mistakes I may or may not have made. 

Have panic attacks, you can’t tell, I may look normal but inside I feel like I cannot breathe, my heart races and I feel like I may pass out. It can happen out of the blue or in periods of real stress. 

Either don’t eat at all, because I forget to eat, or I comfort eat. 

Have short term memory issues. Anxiety does that. 

This is the face of my anxiety. This is my daily battle. 

This is me. 

But I am NOT BROKEN. I can and will find a way to help myself manage this mind of mine better. It’s ok to not be ok, but I want to be ok…



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