You say “pretty pink flower”.
I say “why have I never bought peonies before, they are so pretty…?”
I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, and we had chips, as part of a family meal, my nana or my mum used to roll out the rather scary looking deep fat fryer thing. If you are as old as me (yup, I went there) you will remember this contraption…? It was called “the chip pan” and to us it was awesome, but also feared.
It was revered because it produced wonderful, golden, crispy chips, but we were also terrified of it, because it could go up in flames, and it was basically a fire hazard waiting to go off. Hot oil and flames are not a good mix, even if they do make fantastic chips. From a very early age, we knew how to grab a wet tea towel and what to do with it, if we thought the chip pan was going to go up in flames (those were the days when health & safety wasn’t a thing, I really am showing my age in this post, aren’t I? Chip pan fires were a thing to be feared) and we all felt rather tense until the chip pan was cooled and put away, til the next time…
So, despite my love of freshly fried, golden chips, I have never had a chip pan in my house, and I dont deep fry things. I am somewhat of a klutz when it comes to flames and fire, so there is no way I would trust myself to make chips this way. I also have to confess that I REALLY don’t like oven chips much. We do eat them, and the kids like them, but they just aren’t the same as the chips from my childhood.
Enter ActiFry from Tefal.
This rather space age looking gadget with it’s very clever technology, helps you to cook a whole range of foods, in a healthier (and safer, if you are making chips) way.
This is what they have to say:
SMART GUARANTEE OF TASTY MEALS
200 recipes developed by chefs, and more to come
Dozens of smart cooking modes for best results
THE EASIEST SMART COOKING EXPERIENCE
Automatic transfer of cooking parameters from your application to your ActiFry
Step by step cooking instructions.
Live monitoring of the cooking process on the app.
Control of the cooking process from a distance.
NUTRITION COACHING WITH BALANCED RECIPES
Fry with little or no added oil
Nutrition coaching programme with proven successful results.
Recipes approved by nutritionists
It’s revolutionary, if you want to make healthy meals, fast, but you still want to enjoy foods that are generally considered a bit less healthy for you (have I mentioned you can make chips with it, I think I have?) and it’s incredibly easy to use, especially when you pair it with the app on your smart phone. The husband, who is a huge geek, was very impressed with the Bluetooth technology and ability to use recipes and the app with his phone.
So, of course, chips is the first recipe I tried (yes, I am a tad obsessed with chips, you are right!) and it was so simple and easy. You prepare them as normal, wash, peel, chop and dry your potatoes, then you pop them in the actifry and add the amount of oil required using the special spoon that comes with it, pop the timer on, and voila… crispy, golden chips like my nana used to m make…
But, of course, ActiFry doesn’t just make good chips, that contain less fat and calories that traditional chips. You can make all sorts of things, using it’s technology to produce healthy, tasty food, quickly and easily.
We have already used it to make steak (yes, you can cook a steak) and also a rather delicious sticky salmon recipe.
If you are watching your weight, or are on a weight loss plan, you can use Actifry to help you, because it uses so much less oil in it’s cooking process, so you can make delicious meals, with far less calories and fat. It’s not called #slimmerssecret for nothing.
It’s also very easy to clean, and if you use the app, on your smart phone or tablet, there are over 200 recipes you can try, and also you can experiment with your own recipes and meals.
It’s definitely worth investing in, if healthy, quick and easy meals are what want to make, and having never used one before, I can now say, I am happily a convert and whilst I certainly plan to use it to make Delicious meals for us, I will also be making proper chips, and won’t have to worry about burning the house down in the process…
I haven’t done a Friday Rant from the Soap Box in MY own living room for ages, but I have brought it back, because sometimes it’s good to get things off my chest, and it’s cleansing and therapeutic. It makes me feel better, and it’s Friday, it’s my blog, and I will rant if I want to…;)
This week’s rant?
Wellies (and you have to be careful how to type that, because for some reason the autocorrect on my computer likes to correct it to another word, I am sure you can guess what, and we can’t have THAT sort of thing on a family blog now, can we?)
Yes, my blog rant this week is about the humble wellington boot, or rather, the lack of them in the shops, right now.
Let me explain.
My tweenager is going camping this weekend, and as part of her kit, she needs wellington boots. She’s going to be stomping about in mud, and dirt, and of course, it’s the bank holiday weekend, and it’s the UK, so it’s highly likely it will rain, so she needs to keep her feet dry. She tried on her current pair of boots, and of course, they are too small (she keeps growing, I must stop feeding her, she will be taller than me soon!) so on my list of things to buy this week, were a new pair for her.
Nope. Because apparently, come spring in this country, shops where you normally would expect to be able to buy a common thing, wellington boots, have stopped selling them. Why? Because apparently at the end of April, we don’t need wellington boots any more, the rain stops and we have so much sunshine and lovely weather, and no one needs boots, until the deepest gloom of autumn and winter arrive, in a few months.
We live in the UK. It rains a lot, all year. We don’t have months and months of dry weather, where flip flops, sun hats and shorts are all we need. Apparently the retail sector has decided that, however, I can buy any kind of bikini I want, all the shelves in all the shops are loaded with sun screen and bug spray, but can I find a pair of size 5 wellington boots for my tweenager? Not a chance! Well, I can, but they would be designer ones, at a ridiculous price, and at the rate she is growing, there’s no way I am forking out £5o for a pair of wellington boots she won’t fit into in three months time (before winter when she might actually need them again)
Madness, I tell you. Once again, common sense has failed, and I have had to order her a pair online, pay extra for speedy delivery, and pray they arrive on time.
Seriously, if someone in the fashion or retail industry can tell me why they think that we don’t need waterproof boots from April – September, I would love to hear from them…?
I am off to stalk the postman, bearing a package, hopefully of wellington boots, and to pack what seems like half a house, for her impending camping trip. Come back next week, to find out what I am chuntering about. Feel free to share your own weekly rant in the comments!
When you get in your car, you probably get in, clip your seat-belt on, put the key in the ignition, and drive off, because that’s kind of the normal routine, right?
I don’t actually drive, but The Husband does, and he often will point out to me that there is more to getting in a car, and driving it off, you also have to make sure you are driving safely and that your car is in good shape to be driven.
When you are in your car, you need to be thinking about a number of things, including what speed you are driving at, and this can of course vary depending on where you are, and what type of road you are on, also being aware of making sure you and your passengers are wearing seatbelts, and if you have a child in the car, that they are in a correctly fitted car seat for their age and weight. Regular checks on things like making sure the oil and windscreen wash are topped up, and also antifreeze in the winter, are important to remember. Checking your tires are in good condition, and that all your lights are working correctly, are essential, to keep you, your car, any passengers and your fellow road users safe whilst you are driving.
It’s not just practical things you need to keep track of but also your own safety. Are you too tired to be behind the wheel? Are you being distracted by your mobile phone or the sat nav machine you are using? Accidents and incidents caused when a driver is using a mobile phone are very common, but are taken very seriously and you could risk a large fine, points on your licence or even a trip to court if you are caught using your phone when you are driving. It’s not worth the risk.
Can you see road signs, pedestrians, traffic lights and other drivers clearly? (time to get your eyes tested if not)
Slater & Gordon Personal Injury Solicitors, have put together a really handy guide for keeping safe whilst driving. It can seem like a lot to think about, but most of it is really common sense, and when you stick to a routine, and make the checks part of what you do when you use your car, then should become second nature and help you to drive safely and hopefully avoid accidents. They do happen, but we can all do our best to prevent them, where we can.
Perhaps your child has tummy aches, maybe a slightly sore throat, or perhaps they’re feeling a little fatigued and dizzy from playing in the sun for too long. While modern medicine has advanced to a stage that we have kid-friendly treatments, nothing beats gentle home remedies that have existed for hundreds of years. They rarely have side effects, they’re cheap to produce and can be done quickly, and they have similar if not better effects to that of regular medicine. So without further ado, here are a couple of simple remedies that will help you manage a sick child.
If you have a lot of pets at home then the sight of bugs and other insects might not be new to you, but it can lead to nasty insect bites on your children. You would typically smother on some kind of gel or itch cream following a bug bite, but you can just as easily use baking powder. Simply mix a teaspoon of baking powder with a couple drops of water to create a paste. Smooth it over the bug bite and it will quickly soothe the itch and reduce inflammation. Once it has dried, leave it on for a little bit and then simply wash off in the shower. Baking soda has many different uses, but using it for medical purposes is probably the most surprising to people.
There are a couple of simple (and delicious) ways to help you treat your child’s cough. Firstly, honey has a lot of wonderful properties that make it perfect to soothe an inflamed throat due to excessive coughing. Simply feed your child a spoonful of honey before bed and treat it like regular cough syrup. However, you shouldn’t feed honey to any children who are below 1 year because it could cause some harmful side effects. In addition, you should stick to regular honey when possible and not honey cough syrups. Going all-natural is the key to effective home remedies, so avoid as many artificial additions as possible.
Another great way to soothe a cough and a sore throat is to use steam. You can simply run a hot shower and sit with your child in the bathroom for about ten minutes and let your child inhale the steam. This works best before going to bed. Alternatively, you could fill a bowl with hot water and help your child inhale the steam to clear chest and nasal congestion. You can amplify the effect by adding a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil. Keep in mind that helping your child with steam could lead to your own nasal problems such as dryness, so here is a list of remedies for your dry nostrils to prevent you from catching the same thing as your child.
If your child is having trouble going to the toilet, then it might be the result of a problematic diet. Make sure they are drinking plenty of fluids such as water or fruit juice, and ensure they are eating high-fibre foods such as cereal and bread in order to assist with their bowel movements. If that isn’t helping much, then try to gently massage your child’s stomach area to ease pain and discomfort, or place a mildly hot water bottle on their stomach and use heat to relieve the pain. If your child has pains when going to the toilet, then let them soak in a warm bath to relax the muscles before they try again.
‘Life-apps’ are a good name for any app or software that just helps make life a little easier.
Everyone has their own favourites and suggestions, but here’s a list of some well known – and also lesser known – apps for you to try out.
Included are those which are useful for daily essentials, as well as those which are handy for entertainment and progressive approaches to organising our lives.
This app is useful to organise anything from random notes, to basically any type of media that you want to store. We all know what it’s like to have many clips, photos, and lists of things dotted around, but OneNote is like having your own miniature PA on your phone to put things in order. It’s quite useful as a creative app as well, and can function as a digital collage of research ideas, whether the purpose is for work and or just personal curiosity.
This app is similar to OneNote in that you can use it to make lists, but it specialises in them, so it’s a good recommendation if you like to organise your food shopping. You can even have the odd joke with it as well, and share your lists with friends if you’d like them to do the shopping instead.
3) Chore Hero
This app is a good way to see the lighter side of sharing chores and housework between the people that you live with. Part of Chore Hero’s charm is linked to the fact that you can give jobs literal ratings and scores depending on their difficulty level, where everyone carries around a little schedule to remind each other who is doing what. Of course, divvying up housework can create a world of debates itself, but due to how easy this app is to use, it creates a hassle-free way to plan a weekly schedule.
4) Mortgage Calculator
Although not an app, this is a useful online tool that’s perfect for getting down to organising important financial decisions. Although most of us don’t find the topic of loaning super fun, it’s hard to fault this mortgage calculator, and it provides realistic estimates which you can reference in the future.
You often hear people say: “I don’t know what I did before I discovered…” which of course is a little over the top. But in the case of Unroll.me, it can help to evolve how we use our email systems, because it just saves you so much time when it comes to things like clearing junk emails. In one click you can unsubscribe from multiple companies or services that keep on sending you emails that aren’t relevant to you. It works the other way around as well, and can send you one single email with all of the subscriptions that you want to keep.
6) Podcast and Radio Addict
The name of this app tells you everything regarding who it’s designed for. In all seriousness though, when a lot of us watched podcasts in the past, we simply scrolled through YouTube. If the podcasts you watch or listen to have some type of chronology to them however, it can be nice to have a quick way of bringing them up. You can receive reminders when a new podcast is uploaded, and again, just streamlines the process of opening different apps and windows.
This platform is really useful for anyone that collaborates with others in any way, whether it’s in relation to work, socialising, or basically any group setting. There are a few alternatives in the market, but Basecamp has a very uncluttered interface, and you can set it up in a few seconds. If you have email conversations about projects or similar, this platform is a much better way of communicating, since it prevents long lists of replies occurring, and just makes information, in general, easier to find.
This is the type of app that’s an amalgamation of digital diary, reflective life planner, and progressive networking platform. Its main function is as a type of daily motivation tool, which can help us to visualise our goals, and think about them in pragmatic and creative ways. The networking side comes into play because you can also share your daily goals with others who use LifeTick, and create your own social groups where you share ideas and motivate each other.
The best apps and software are those which help to improve our mental functioning as well as aid us in everyday tasks. Eidetic is useful because it helps to improve how our memory works, and is an alternative take on the standard brain training tools. It can help us to remember almost anything, from important numbers to ideas and concepts that you’d like to remember and understand. So this is a great example of an app which works on a 50/50 level with the user, both providing a tool of convenience as well as a catalyst for creative thought.
10) The Pomodoro Technique
Like it sounds, this is a type of system and approach, which is used to organise how we handle the modern world of digital multitasking. It’s been around for just under four decades, and deserves mentioning because it relates to the overall use of technology, and a way of making sure that we get the most out of it.
It’s worth taking a look if you spend a lot of time on a computer or digital device of any type. With the ever-growing market of tech applications, it can be overwhelming, to say the least, and The Pomodoro Technique is a systematic way to manage how we approach it. Depending on your level of interest, you can get involved with full weekend courses, or just have a quick read over the basics.
So that’s the end of this brief summary. Hopefully, there will be one or two of the suggestions that you found helpful, because as we all know, in the myriad of our daily responsibilities, it can help to discover effective ways to deal with them.
Everyone dreams of having more money to play with. Well you can, there are ways you can make a little bit of extra money. You need to think in the long term here for the best chances of success, thinking in the short term is not tenable whatsoever and it can lead you into some dodgy ventures where you lose your cash. Think long term, save up gradually and you will end up with the right amount of cash to do what you want with. Money flows, you just need to ensure it flows to you, not away from you. This can be done with relative ease if you are careful. You need to put the right amounts of research into each tip here and work out whether it is the right thing for you to do. If you do this then you are essentially hedging your bets in the right direction. Certain things may not be tenable, but if you build up the cash reserves it will be. The trick is in putting the money you save aside so that it builds up until you have something worthwhile to use or invest further. You may have even considered some of these tips, which is great, but check the other ones out and see if you can find something to help you increase your financial situation. Good luck!
Real estate is a great place to put your money. If you own a home then put any spare cash into it. This could be paying off more of the mortgage, or potentially doing work to the house that you know will increase its value, especially if you are planning to sell down the line. Putting money into real estate is a sure fire way to make more money. People make millions from it, fortunes. If you have had a recent windfall, or decent savings, consider buying a whole new property in itself. Making changes, then selling it on for a profit. These changes can be cosmetic, rewiring, down to full blown extensions. Property values just keep soaring all the time, so you need to put money into them as and when you can. Granted, it may not be the top of your priorities, but think of the benefits. You are increasing the home’s value, whilst also making it a better place to live for you and the family. This is something that requires a lot more money, but remember, you can do it in parts or start small.
Saving money is essentially making money, and a great way to do that is compare and switch up your utilities provider. If you have never done it you could be in for a huge treat. Otherwise, you could still save. Compare them, phone them, see what deal you can get and how you can make it cheaper. If you are swapping they will always try their best to entice you with great little offers. Take these while you can, especially just before winter when you are looking to use more gas on heating your home.
On the same note, you should also look at and consider your internet, TV and phone provider. They lure you in with great initial bundles, which often skyrocket after a year. Stay on top of this and switch every year. If you do this you will be able to make the most of the better deals and save a ton of money, which you can save up. There are many comparison sites out there that can help you and ensure you get a great deal. Give them a look over and see if you can get anything cheaper. Odds are you certainly can. The same is of car insurance and other monthly outgoings to providers. Try to always get the cheapest deal, this is often still done by switching provider on a yearly basis.
You can save a huge amount of money in the supermarkets by simply being strict with yourself and your spending. These places are literally designed to make you spend more money. That is why the essentials are spread out across the store, forcing you around it and in doing so letting you see more products that could catch your eye. You can beat this by making a list. Tick it off as you go around and don’t buy anything else. It sounds pedantic, but you would be surprised how many extra things you pick up. This could leave you with more money in the bank than you expect come the end of the month and it is certainly worth beating them in this way. You can also use coupons to do this. Get them online and use them. However, only use the ones for the products you would buy anyway, otherwise you will see yourself spending more money. Be wise and don’t fall for cheap tricks.
Credit cards are often seen as no go areas. However, if you are careful you can make the most of them and save money. Certain cards offer cash back on first purchases. As such, if you needed to buy something big and expensive, you could do this, save a certain percentage, sometimes as high as twenty percent, and then pay the credit card straight off. Saving you a decent bit of cash. Ensure you are in the position to pay the card right off otherwise you will end up taking a hit on your credit rating and having something else to have to pay off each month. Do your research and exploit the gaps that you do see, just be careful not to over stretch yourself or you could find yourself regretting it.
The money is there to be saved and made, you just need to use the right techniques to get it. Be careful, and ensure you use the saved money in investment or other kinds of ventures that will get you more money down the road. Discipline is the key. If you are tough on yourself you can make this plan work well.
The alternative title of this post could be – When you and your tweenager disagree on what the word “tidy” means and what a tidy bedroom should look like…
The tweenager and I are having a difference of opinion, the first of many, I have no doubt, and it’s one that I don’t think we will solve, in a hurry.
We have a problem.
It’s called her bedroom. Also fondly known as “the pit”, or “the space that Mum refuses to enter”.
The issue is, frankly, is that her idea of what consitutes tidy, and mine are, shall we say VASTLY different, and we cannot agree on the standard it needs to be. I would like it to be tidy, so that the door can be left open, and that I don’t feel terrfied when I walk past it. She thinks it’s her space and that she should be able to leave it how she likes. I object to sending her in there with clean, neatly folded laundry to put away, to then find it dumped on the floor. (the translation of “please put your laundry away?” seems to have been lost somewhere, apparently)
She feels that I am being unreasonable, and I feel that it’s my house, and whilst I get that I need to relax and understand that my level of tidy isn’t the same as my tweenagers, I should at least be able to walk into her room without worrying about what I might trip over… I would like to see the carpet occasionally. I help her to tidy it, and she also does make attempts to tidy it, but somehow, it’s a huge source of irritation to me, and to her because of course, she thinks I am being horrible, nagging her to tidy her room…
So, next week, she is going to write me a blog post, sharing her thoughts on how tidy her room needs to be, and probably, no doubt, sharing with you how mean and unreasonable her mother is, and then the following week, I am going to write a rebuttal blog post. It could get heated… 😉
In the meantime, if you are the parent of a tweenager/teenager, I would love to hear how you manage this minefield and what standards you hold and how you negotiate things in your house and give me some tips on how to handle this?
This is not her room, she wouldn’t let me take a photo of it, in it’s current state (which proves my point, no?) but you get the picture?
Oh, and I KNOW my father will be reading this, and I am pretty sure I will get a message from him, when he does, reminding me that my own mother and I had this issue, I kind of feel that this is life’s revenge getting me back for that, somehow… 😉