Day 15 – Write about your favourite childhood books.

I was obsessed with reading as a kid, I mean, pretty much all of my life as a younger person I was safe when I was surrounded by books. My brother and I were really lucky as kids but once he left home, I felt a lot lonelier and retreated more into the safety of books, this was only compounded by being the weirdo, the loner, the one who just generally was not liked by kids – that’s not 100% true, my friends were always and always have been amazing – but there were a lot of bullies who found me an ideal target to harass.

My mum says that even as a kid, she knew reading was a big thing for me because i’d read the back of packets, the papers, even when we went shopping, she knew I would take myself off to the paper/books area and just perch myself down and read. I got through countless books in this style which i’m sure the supermarket was thrilled about!

I had an excellent little book set as a child of the entirety of Beatrix Potter’s tales, all mini hardback with gorgeous artwork and they were kept in a special box, this was something that until very recently I have always had with me. I’ve never even dreamed of having kids so i’ve never really known what to do with them but you know when you have something childish yet wonderful that you can’t imagine being without? I think I gave them back to my mum and asked her to sell it, or at least find a home for them where hopefully they will bring as much joy to someone else as they did to me.

I was obsessed with Enid Blyton as a child, The Tales of the Faraway Tree made me wish for excitement, and new friends, and talking trees – ok, the last of those may have been less possible that the first two – and made me see magic in the oddest of places. She made me look at things differently and I’m sure that seeing creatures, clouds and trees and beginning to apply anthropomorphic characteristics to them comes from her.  Plus another joy of a group of friends who stuck together through everything, through thick and thin was appealing to me, I know I had a small group of friends at that point of my life and we used to do similar escapades when we could – going on bike rides, building forts, just playing and imagining what our lives were going to be.

I included Jennings and Derbyshire in this list as although they were not specifically favourites of mine, they have a very special place in my heart as mum used to read them to me when I was in the bath as a kid. I used to love them and for a long time kind wanted to live in that jolly hockey sticks, ginger beer kind of world. I think maybe my obsession with Mallory Towers and the Twins at St Clair’s also started around this time and made me consider that that kind of life was an option – which at no point was it but I always remained hopeful!!

jennings

Reading back the previous list this is all sounding a bit 50s housewife dream kind of style of reading, I swear I read other things too! Like Point Horror – which I’ve no idea are still in existence or if you are younger than me and now asking yourself “what the fudge is a point horror?” but before I started reading lets say, more adult horror stories like Stephen King and Shaun Hutson (if you’ve not read his stuff and like some gore and mental horror then he’s a good person to investigate); I was a bit obsessed with a sort of horror light. It was a series of books which tended to be passed around my group of friends and mostly they were mild frights but for some reason I can remember one book (weirdly my brain has scrubbed over most of the details – including the name) which really terrified me! Well worth it to be scared in the middle of the day with all the lights on….I’m too much of a coward nowadays to read books like that anymore!

We moved to Spain when I was 14 and thankfully I got a lot of books as leaving gifts from people, these became my closest friends when I arrived as I spent so long stressing about not being able to hold even the most basic of conversations without massive pauses and a dictionary so the joy of just being able to open a book and not have to worry was a joy. This is where my love of Pratchett came from. I’d read some beforehand but they really took hold of my imagination at that point. As I said, I really relished having books I could read without having to worry about not being clever enough – which is how I always felt when speaking to people.

I know I’ve banged on about Pratchett in many of my blogs and #PratchettPostal is actually going really well (i’m buying up second hand copies or cheapish bundles from fleabay, advertising them on twitter and then sending them out to fellow fans/new readers. He was such an influence and support to me that I would love to pass that on. If you’ve never read Pratchett you’re missing out but if you are on twitter, come find me at @polmoose83 and maybe come get yourselves a new book – or just come and say hey anyway, I love to have many people around to talk to!

So there we have it, once again, no real specifics but many different options. I would love to be more of a book reviewer in specifics and have read a few good book blogs which have inspired me but currently I’m not sure i’m good enough at specifics and writing my views. We shall see what 2019 has to offer in the way of challenges.

Day 14 – A photo of yourself.

This subject honestly terrifies me. I am a very uncomfortable person in front of a camera and then to have to look at the picture and not just cry over the self hatred I have for what is there.

I shouldn’t be so dramatic, I have got a lot better with myself over the last few years but still, photos of me are a bit tricky.

Here’s a photo of me that I sort of like, please be nice – if you chose to comment anyway, in your thoughts you can do whatever you like hehe!

WP_20180818_086

I’m very surprised that when I started talking about my depression and self esteem issues that so many people reacted like I was crazy – not as in crazy for thinking that but more crazy for telling people and they had never noticed. I don’t know why this would be, I suppose I consider that it was just the way I behaved. I’m fairly good at hiding how I feel and though on the outside I was good at portraying being happy, and fine, and not upset by what people say or do but inside I was getting crushed.

I should clarify, it wasn’t only other people making me feel rubbish, I’ve always had the negative voice in my head that even when someone is lovely to me, my first thought was usually “this person is lying to you, this person is going to lie and make you feel good and then the joke will be revealed” or suchlike.

Over the last few years I have tried hard to improve my own self esteem and for a really long time have never felt comfortable in my body but due to some recent changes – giving up Palm Oil and trying to be generally healthier I actually feel pretty good right now.

I’m not suddenly saying i’m hot or whatnot but I find myself hating myself less. Less uncomfortable and more likely to treat myself well. I have bought new clothes, not just because they actually fitted (seriously, scare both yourself and the postman by your trousers falling down and you’ll see the need for new clothes!) but also thinking they might actually “suit” me. I’ve even brought a dress, for the office Xmas party – I should say, whether i actually wear it or not is still outstanding!!

But yes, after losing all the weight I even did things like get my hair cut. I know my mum has always wanted me to take more pride in myself and slowly I feel like that’s happening.

I’m aiming to dye my hair tonight (or this weekend, who really knows) and if that happens, and it’s before this publishes, I’ll share a pic…..if not, then that’ll have to wait until I get another kind of blog like this – to be honest, I’d rather not. I’m still not that comfortable and would rather write about fun things like food, travel, drag and generally happy things!

 

Day 13 – 3 healthy habits

Erm, this is not really me as I’m not what you’d call a gym type of person.

I mean, I’d like to be but every time I have done healthy stuff, there has been a specific reason, be it a diet or prep for a race, there’s never been a life long shift that I have made (I still smoke, I still drink, I eat bad foods sometimes, I do not get enough exercise or sleep for that matter but I think overall i’m ok) and although I’ve seen friends manage this (and i’m very proud of their commitment) as of yet, nothing like that has hit me. I don’t expect to wake up one morning and just decided to be a gym bunny or whatnot but maybe one day? Who knows!

1) I started following the Slimming world diet earlier this year, it did help me and those of you who know me can attest to the fact that I am now thinner than I was. I’ll be honest though, for me, this wasn’t perfect. There’s a lot of things that I was unsure about and unfortunately my consultant was not the most helpful – I asked her something at the beginning of my second week there…..I was there for 16 weeks and have been off since August but at no point have I had an answer.

Anyway, I agree, that by monitoring and being strict on my diet and avoiding lots of            bad fatty foods, yes it is possible to lose weight. I’ll be honest though, as soon as I was            at my target, I stopped and had a really fun couple of weeks where I ate whatever the          hell I wanted! It was DIVINE!!

I get that a good diet is considered a good and healthy thing, but for me, personally, I want to be more balanced, not completely strict. I’m not sure as a person I could handle it if I had to be strict forever – plus, I’m the main cook in our home and if I left it up to the man, although I love him like no-one else, I’d probably starve or simply survive on toasties!

2) As a non driver, I do walk a lot, but I know that everyone can improve themselves so one of my challenges for this year has been to up my steps. I’m aiming next year to (as one of my challenges) be walking 10,000 per day. We shall see anyway.

I can’t wait to start my challenge. I don’t have a fitbit or something which will nag me to walk more but i’m hoping that i’ll be able to overall get healthier. I was hoping to complete a marathon before I hit 40 but due to my knee issues, I worry that i’m pushing it so maybe the walking will have to do for now. If anyone reading this has become a longer distance runner, please feel free to pass on any hints and tips, I mean, help a girl out over here!

3) Lastly the most important and for me, the easiest one. I wanted to drink more water and made the point especially when I started at slimming world. I’ve never been a real fan of water, I always preferred squash or fizzy drinks (or tea, I’m obsessed with all teas!!) but I can remember being force fed water when I was younger –  I never really drank anything – and was promptly sick, which just shows, when I don’t want something, my body will do everything it can to avoid it!

But deciding that SW was the way forward, I started to challenge myself to a pint of very weak squash and then a pint of water, alternating throughout the day. This was going ok but thankfully by the time the heatwave happened here, I was drinking between 10 and 12 pints of water a day. I think if nothing else I’ve grown up, I use water as a first resort – if i’m hungry/tired etc, it tends to actually be that i’m dehydrated so that has certainly helped me.

Well there you go. 3 healthy habits that I will use and improve upon over my lifetime. I didn’t think that would be possible but I am now tempted to do a blog on my unhealthy habits…..that list would be ridiculous!!

Day 12 – Favourite foods

This is a tricky one for me, I mean, a REALLY tricky one. I think genre or theme of food will be easier….

I am food addict *well, obsessive; I’m not sure if people would agree but I love food, I think about it, I plan my days around it, I have so many plans for dinner parties/food I want to make for people/things I want to try and play with and this tends to take up at least 80% of my life.

I’m happy to say that despite there being some things i’ve never experienced food wise, I have so many loves of food from around the world and those I will write a little bit about below. Probably broken down into areas of where they come from and I hope if nothing else, this might make your mouth water, or inspire you to try something new.

Also, if anyone has any good suggestions as to things to try/new directions for my food obsessiveness, please, do not hesitate to say. I love hearing about other people’s enjoyment of food almost as much as I actually enjoy eating!!

Both of my parents are really good cooks – my dad was a chef and mum I feel has the same food obsession as me! They make epic food – mum is the best at curries and dad makes superb food from all over the place – he’s great at pies and pastry stuff, I wish I could but i’ve got hot little hands and that for Pastry is never good!

Italian – I adore Italian food. I think probably if I had to give up all other foods and just settle with one, this would be it……maybe, possibly not. But having pizzas, pasta’s and of course, Gelato on offer sounds excellent to me! I’m currently obsessed with this restaurant in Southampton, lovely place to eat and spend some time and it’s somewhere I cannot allow myself to go often otherwise i’d be the size of a house!!

When I was doing my A levels I worked in a local Italian restaurant, I loved it. Despite the long hours, the rubbish pay, the stress of holding everything down at the same time but my favourite memories were from the end of the night, Mas (the chef) was happy to cook us all a meal to sit down and eat together or if it was a night I had other plans, he was great at doing me some pasta and bits to take to the pub – often swapped for pints, well, except the pasta carbonara he made, that was ALWAYS mine!

Ideal Italian Meal – Prosciutto and Melon, Carbonara and garlic bread and of course…..Pistachio Ice-cream.

Indian – Is almost the most comfortable food I’ve ever had. I’d happily become a veggie if this was the only food I could eat, I do love veg and the variety of bits and bobs you can try here are simply divine. I am such a lover of flavour, the thing with curries is you can have differing temperatures for them but for me the overriding thing of focus is the taste. There are a huge variety of tastes, textures and cooking styles which mean that I don’t think I could ever be bored!

I’ve always fancied a trip to learn how to properly cook Indian food but I know that the food I eat from takeaways is probably very different to actual Indian food as it is eaten over there. I suppose the joy from a takeaway is being able to travel the entire country and then pick and choose.

Ideal Indian Meal – Vegetable Samosas, Bhindi Bhaji (ladies fingers), Saag aloo (spinach and potato), Samba Daal (this is a daal made by my local takeaway, it’s full of lentils and veg and it’s super hot which I adore) and then for dessert? Hmm, maybe just more of the same?

Spanish – When we moved to Spain, I was already aware of the standard spanish fare, but I learned so much while I was there and there’s been some recipes I’ve been introduced to which I adore and there are others which if I never had to eat them again I’d be completely fine with!

Lenteja is one of the meals I now adore, it’s a warming lentil stew, often cooked with potatoes, pig knuckles (I use chorizo) and amazing bursts of warmth and comfort. It is a real classic for me and something I feel i’m going to be tinkering with for years until I get a recipe I know is foolproof!!

The thing I found most bizarre when eating out in Spain was the lack of veggie/vegetarian options, apart from salad or weirdly, tinned veg. I used to love Salad about 75% of the year but seriously, even in Spain, salad doesn’t cut it in January!! It was a pleasure when I came back to the Uk to be able to get loads of variety and ok, I know a lot of it comes from Spain but I never thought I’d get better veg options in the UK – i’ve been spoiled obviously!!

Ideal Spanish Meal – Gambas Pil-Pil or Lenteja, Pollo con Vino de Competa (a local wine which was produced in our Village) and then hmmmmmmm, crema catalana, which is very much like flan but has burned sugar on the top. It is simply superb!

English – I think finally I should talk about all of the foods that I adore from this country, that i’m obsessed with or for the love I have of these as far as I’m concerned, ultimates in comfort food.

There’s so many things that I love, cottage pie, stews, roasts (oh the mighty roast) steamed puddings, cheese, pasties, cereals and the like, as you can see, a huge variety and probably not much that can be considered healthy.

I do very much love cooking and using my Pressure Cooker and Slow Cooker so a lot of the above tend to be staples in my household. We’ve been experimenting with chilli con carne recently but I have a hankering for a good old cottage pie, some veg and gravy. Sounds good now that the weather is becoming more wintery!

So what about you? If you had to decide on a favourite food, meal or something like that, what would it be?

 

 

Day 11 – What’s inside my fridge….

Well, as a food addict in so many ways, this should actually be a fun writing challenge. Not sure how i’m going to stretch it out as at the moment, it’s pretty empty. I need to do shopping tomorrow!

Previous readers of my blog will probably know by now that I am obsessed with food. I love cooking, playing around in the kitchen, creating and experimenting and then sitting down and devouring a feast. I know that the man is less like that than me but I do love it when we get to cook and enjoy a meal together – something which currently is very rare due to different work hours.

Anyway, I digress, what is in my fridge?

I tend to have an almost constant selection of sauces/condiments and the like……currently this includes some lemon curd that I made, some microwave berry jam, some rhubarb and ginger jam my mum got for the man and our newest collection of chilli jams. I love a good condiment and these are frequently used at the moment due to the weather making us both crave toasties. Plus, I’ve found a bread which uses sustainable Palm oil which is amazing. I really missed bread whilst I was slimming so I do treat myself but am trying to remain strong and not slip back into my old habits!

So, jams and the like, what else? We’ve also got quite into our slow cooker at the mo – great for cooking when you can’t really be bothered and not sure if we’re eating together or not so I do tend to try and have a selection of veg for stews – currently suede, carrots, butternut squash and carrots but potatoes also work well. I think there’s some meat in there now, probably just some sausages to make sausage casserole so loads of onions and chilli sauce needed for that one I think.

I know that summer is better for fridge stuff to be honest, I love a good salad and try to have a really mixed choice ready for anything, be it, avocados, boiled eggs, spinach, asparagus, I like having a choice and I feel more likely to eat more good things if more good things are on offer…..this was my fridge week 1 or 2 of slimming world shopping. Safe to say, it doesn’t look like this right now!

in my fridge 2

So there we have it, just a short one today I think as I genuinely don’t have much I can say. Why not show me a pic of your fridge – especially if it’s full of fabulous things – I love to be inspired!

 

 

 

Day 10 – Best Trip Of Your Life

I’ve  been really lucky to be honest and travel has been a big thing for me, I haven’t taken advantage like I should have (travel while you can kids – it becomes harder as you get older) but even since I moved back to the UK, I have enjoyed travel and a variety of wonderful holidays.

I decided to write about a few places as some really stick in my brain but I also don’t want to make it seem like I have had only 1 good trip and the rest have all been mediocre.

  • CUBA
  • DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
  • PARIS
  • ISTANBUL
  • EGYPT
  • PRAGUE
  • BARCELONA

I have travelled a few places (from the list above) and every place I go – even if bad things happen like in Cuba, I feel lucky to have seen the places and experienced the life. I definitely try to relish the positives and kind of work past the negatives.

Cuba was the first place I had travelled alone, I had a real wanderlust when I was younger and when I left school, worked for a while, but Cuba was going to be my jumping off point. Unfortunately, I got mugged halfway through the first week and came home early, before I had seen and experienced what I wanted to – something which I regret to this day!  I did love the joy of seeing the crystal clear waters, and the fun of speaking with Cubans and actually finding out about their lives, which was mind-blowing and if someone had said to me “give me all of your possessions” I would have done – and then at least been able to keep hold of my passport! anyway, it was still a wonderful trip.

Sadly I don’t even think I have any of the photos I took in Cuba. I’ve moved about 10 times since then and somewhere along the way, they got lost but the memories of watching storms fly overhead, snorkelling with a barracuda, gorgeous flowers tumbling down in the main hall of the hotel and the wonderful 4 pools and azure sea. Sometimes memories are good enough.

I went to the Dom Rep years ago with the ex who shall not be named. It was a good holiday but unfortunately he managed to ruin a lot of it – we met some lovely people who he managed to push away with his attitude but still, it was nice to see dolphins, swim and feed fish with bread and to generally meet new people. I am still in touch with a wonderful couple we met and that for me is a real bonus. Again the Caribbean is superb and wonderful and despite the negatives from it, I managed to take away good memories.

Paris is somewhere really special for myself and my family. My dad lived and worked out there and it is most definitely his spiritual home. He loves spending time there and I adore being there with him and exploring and seeing how his world has been shaped by it. I try to spend time there as often as I can, I love eating at the restaurants he worked in and seeing the world he lived among. I do enjoy this and love learning random facts every time we go.

My parents and I went to Istanbul a few years ago for my mums birthday. It was really wonderful to be able to stand on 2 continents as it were and a really wonderful place to spend time (I’m not sure how comfortable I would be now as I have heard it is much less friendly to westerners now but I still enjoyed it and apart from a couple of places, I didn’t feel harassed or uncomfortable. It is a wonderful mix of culture and style, such wonderful places to see, lots of beautiful markets and buildings and despite my general dislike of Churches, I do really like Mosques and had a great time exploring and seeing the places which I had read about.

I was so lucky to go to Egypt years ago with my parents. I’d always dreamed of seeing the Pyramids and I actually never thought it would be possible so when I was given the opportunity I jumped at it. I loved it, it is stunning and wonderful but the level of poverty is scary. I would happily go back but feel that my own personal levels couldn’t handle it. I can remember haggling for an ashtray for a friend, and I realised I was haggling between 40 and 50 pence. Which I’d have been happy to pay full price if you see what I mean. I’m not sure how I could cope. I’d definitely recommend it to people though, just be aware of the looky looky men who are very brazen.

Prague was a great holiday, we went for my dad’s birthday and I have written about it previously (see the link here: share about a recent holiday) but it is certainly somewhere I will be going back to. Full of history, culture, galleries, epic food and drink and a real great place to spend some time. Even those places which weren’t the most glam, were still fun.

Lastly I thought I’d talk about Barcelona. I truly love this place and spending time there, I feel comfortable and free there. Great bars, great buildings, fun places and epic restaurants. I used to travel there alone (very much like my dad with Paris) but am looking forward to showing it off to the man, sharing my life and the places I love with him, which, considering that Parc Guell is where I want to be scattered when I pass away, it would probably be a good thing for him to know where it is for example 😉

So, I’ve finally reached the end of my list. Ok so not specifically “The best trip” of my life but I prefer seeing the positives in a lot of things, at least this was I can appreciate all the trips I take as opposed to trying to make one better than the rest.

I’m hoping to take the man somewhere sunny next year – somewhere cheap and cheerful is always appreciated and we’ve never actually gone somewhere warm so if you have any suggestions, I’m all ears. I’d love somewhere with a bit of history and culture but also somewhere pretty and fun to enjoy nature and relax. Think that would cover all bases!

Day 9 – 5 Current Goals

I have a lot of targets that I set myself – see my 40 for 40 list as a good example but I try to also do littler things throughout the years, like this years Pratchett Postal.

These are some challenges I have been trying to do this year so thought i’d share some of those and then we can have a re-cap as to how things are progressing and if there are still things happening throughout the rest of the year.

1: Pratchett Postal – Objective: To buy up duplicate Pratchett books (Neil Gaiman too apparently this has now been extended to) and then send them out to complete strangers online.

I decided to do this on Twitter as i’m so used to Twitter being the place where people are horrible to each other but I was desperate to prove that nice people inhabit that place too. I think that this has gone fairly well, I mean, thus far I have sent 80 books out this year, made a whole heap of new friends, learned some really interesting stuff about both myself and the world of Discworld and more than anything, am really pleased that the love I have for this series, is now being passed around the planet to others.                       pratchett 12

 

2:  Improve my writing – Objective: To become more comfortable with writing and expressing myself.

I love blogging but have always found that I do not have the impetus to keep writing and publishing every day so have set myself more manageable goals of writing twice a week (until this current challenge which is a daily thing, wish me luck because i’m scared!! I’m hoping that if nothing else, I find people who I like to read and to find people who like what I say. I don’t ever think i’d be writing novels or the like but I started this as a way to vent, deal with things and get my thoughts out and I genuinely hope that by the end of this year, I will be able to continue this and continue improving.

3:  Take part in more racing/running events – Objective: To become healthier and fitter, I have set myself a challenge of a Marathon before I turn 40 so thought I’d start small.

I signed myself up for a challenge in January to start small and cover 50 miles throughout the month then after that, a couple of 5ks, a colour run and a local 10k. I achieved the January target with no issues and the colour run and 5k, though I was incredibly slow and unfit, both were finished and both went well. Unfortunately due to health issues – relating to my knee – I had to drop out of the 10K, I did think maybe I could walk it but was worried I’d be too slow and therefore not actually finish…..am hoping that next year will be better, I’ve booked to do a couple more 5ks via Virtual Racing so if nothing else, I will be doing the work, it may not be fast, but am proud i’m getting better. This is my before (from 2015 on the Left) and the now, 2018 on the right.

colour run 2015 & 2018.JPG

4: Attend a convention – Objective: To attend a convention into something I enjoy. 

Actually this year, I’ve actually attended 2. Both superb fun and definitely a good introduction for hopefully bigger and better ones next year, or at least, in our future.

Firstly in August I went to Dragworld Uk – a festival of glitter and fabulousness all to do with the world of Drag. I loved it (and wrote a blog about it which you can read here https://wordpress.com/post/halfbakedproductions.blog/1618)   I loved it, cannot wait to go back (the pre release sale happened yesterday) and this time the man in my life is coming with me. He has some social issues (he has a lot of anxiety) so I’m hoping that to be surrounded by so many lovely and accepting people will help him. I’m already so excited!!

The second con in October was more for my other half than for me, he is very into board games (ok, we both are but he spends more time watching vids/listening to podcasts about them) but we knew there was a large expo up in Birmingham which sadly we could not attend – money for public transport in this country is insane) so when we found out there was a smaller convention in Southampton, it seemed like a no brainer, I booked us a cheapish hotel nearby and we decided to take my copy of Ankh Morpork in case there wasn’t much we wanted to play. We also found a local board games cafe, with a superb collection of games and also really lovely friendly staff and have definitely decided that we will go back, maybe even just specifically for this place!

The con itself was good, we met a couple of new people, played some new games – and some games that we probably wouldn’t own but that it’s fun to experience. It was a good introduction to a little convention and I’m hoping that next year we can do something biggr and better.

5: Get my 10% body award with Slimming World. Objective: To lose 10% of my starting body weight (at the time I was basically 13 stone and a fat size 18). I spent a long time as a younger person trying to diet and adhere to beauty standards but as I’ve got older, I’d got bigger and eating became a really important thing to me. I’d met up with some wonderful old friends and they (as usual) took photos to memorialise the day but when I saw them, they were horrible. I looked awful. I’m really used to being the fat one out of my friends but I felt gross.

Luckily my work were doing a special promotion with Slimming World where when you lost 10% of your weight, my work would pay back a max of 12 weeks subs, this seemed like an ideal way of doing it and threw myself into it. It took 14 weeks in total but I lost just under 2 stone. I am now a much healthier size 12 and feel amazing! it’s mad really as i’ve never been this size before and I love it.

I should be clear, at no point did my other half say I had to lose weight or anything like that, I did this for me and thankfully he still finds me attractive and I know he sees that I’m so much more confident, which for me is the best thing.

So there you have it, 5 challenges or goals I am currently working on. I have really enjoyed these so far so am looking forward to more next year – or maybe not more, maybe just improving my current ones and continuing to work towards my 40 for 40 list. What about you? Do you have any challenges that you are setting yourself or working towards?

 

 

 

Day 8 – What’s In Your Bag/Wallet

This is actually quite a timely challenge as i’ve just got my new backpack – i’m not really a handbag girl – but once i’ve listed what is in there, maybe you’ll see why I’m not able to be a handbag girl haha!

Ok, quick edit. My backpack hasn’t arrived yet so have decided to do a list of what’s in the bag and then as above, maybe you’ll see why a handbag is not for me (unless it’s massive anyway!)

I’m currently using a canvas shoulder bag which my work created to celebrate our summer services (locally known as the Breezers) these are open topped buses which travel around the area showing off some of the gorgeous places in Dorset. I like using the bag and also quite like the artwork which is very much like an old school train poster.

So, the standard stuff:

Hand Cream – I love a good smelling hand cream, I try not to use much make up and the like but i’m a sucker for a great smell and a light creamy, silky niceness. I’m currently using one I got for Xmas last year. It’s flavoured with Pink Pepper and Amyris which is actually really nice, not too floral and doesn’t leave my hands all greasy.

Wallet – well obviously, I need this as i’m always needing to go get snacks, or just to be able to pick up shopping once i’ve finished work – tonight for example is our Halloween celebrations – yeah, to be honest, i’m not really “into” Halloween but we’ve decided on getting some pizzas, curling up on the sofa and watching films which will scare us – we are both wussies so can’t imagine it’ll take long to be changing back to something more to our level, like Beetlejuice or something!!

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Tissues – I’ll be honest, these generally aren’t for me. I know that the man often has a runny nose or cold like symptoms and I tend to keep a supply for him.

House Keys – another sort of obvious one i’d assume, but I do have a massive bundle including my flat, my parents, some locker keys and generally too many key rings cos, when you collect tat, keyrings will ALWAYS be a good thing.

Books –  this is not always the case but lets say 85 – 90% of the time I will have a random paperback in my bag. Those who know me will know it’d most likely be a Pratchett but at the moment am re-reading a Louis Theroux book about his weird weekends.

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Headphones – these were possibly one of my favourite gifts I have ever been given. They are Skull Candy (so very bassey) and wireless so that means I actually can dance around the house without the risk of the wire getting caught on something and then breaking my phone/mp3 player. The man got them for me last year at Xmas, I think i’ve pretty much worn them everyday and I really really really love them!

So yeah, that’s pretty much it. I’m hoping that when my backpack arrives it will be big enough to carry my camera in it, I want a bag that can hold it safely but that isn’t too massive. Ideally i’ve seen a couple of friends with MASSIVE bags which carries their lives so please, keep your fingers crossed for me as I really don’t want to be carrying 2 bags with me so I can use my camera if the opportunity presents itself!

Once it’s arrived will update and let you all know, bet you can’t wait?!

 

 

Day 7 – Your 5 Favorite Songs

This is a tricky one, my music taste can change from minute to minute so I think this blog should possibly be renamed as “My favourite 5 songs, right now”

1: Geronimo: RuPaul – I really love this, it has a great mix of dance and sass, I’m a pop girl at heart so this really speaks to me, plus, to be honest, the Ru Obsession is real and therefore anything related to MamaRu is a positive for me!

album 1

2: Wish: Nine Inch Nails – alright, I know I said I was a pop girl at heart but this band has been one of my favourites for most of my life now. I got introduced to them in my teens and have only met a handful of people who have even heard of them, so imagine my surprise and pleasure when I met the man, we were chatting and they came up as conversation! Means that we were meant to be in my opinion. He has also learned that if he walks into the house and i’m listening to this song, he should probably turn around and come back again later once i’m calmer.

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3: Voodoo People: The Prodigy – This song is one that has stayed with me for years and weirdly, I don’t yet feel like it’s been over played. I can still listen to both this song, and the album it comes from and be transported back to being 17 or so again and having a dance with my friends with my brother behind the decks. A song that really takes me back to my past.

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4: Cheap Thrills: Sia – one of those songs which I heard, had no idea who had made it but it made me smile, laugh, want to dance and generally feel good about life. I’m not the biggest Sia fan as I feel that she’s a bit shrieky and ballady for me but this is just a funky song.

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5: Justified and Ancient: KLF ft Tammy Wynette – this is, and probably always will be one of my favourite bits of music, my funeral song, a song I remember from my youth (all those years ago) and that I am so pleased is in my life. The album this comes from is superb and well worth a listen if youre a fan of dance 90s hits. Tammy Wynette’s voice fits perfectly and even the first few beats of this song will guaranteed have me on my feet dancing like an idiot, no matter where I hear it!

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So there you have it, 5 songs I love. I cannot say they are my favourites as it completely depends on my mood (Guns and Roses, Pendulum, Faithless, and the Beatles should all feature in a list of songs I love but in this instance, as I’m feeling today, what is above is what you got!)

What about you? Do you have songs that help calm you, or bring you back to humanity? What is the song you want to have played at your funeral? Is that too deep and dark a question? ok, probably, so if that’s the case, tell me about a special song in your life, I’d love to hear new music and suggestions.

 

 

 

Day 6 – What Are You Afraid Of

I’m almost certain I’ve written about this before, as i’ve previously said, this is a challenge I saw someone else doing and like the ideas, so read on and if you’ve read it before, hows about we just forget that?

Thanks 🙂

I tend to have 2 levels of fear, rational and irrational. Both have some which are REALLY importantly frightening me and others which are just a shock value type of fear.

Phobias are more pronounced than fears. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object.

If a phobia becomes very severe, a person may organise their life around avoiding the thing that’s causing them anxiety. As well as restricting their day-to-day life, it can also cause a lot of distress.

Most of my fears are considered more rational ones, things that actually could happen and could cause problems, some of them are: the fear of failure, letting people down, not being “good” enough, ending up alone, being unable to afford the basics of food/heat/medical care.

Saying that though, I do have some irrational fears and I will write about those as they’re probably more interesting.

Clowns: Coulrophobia: I probably blame countless books/films/TV shows where evil clowns are abundant and over the years I’ve managed to formulate why I hate them, as opposed to just hating them. I find their makeup scary, as someone who suffers with anxiety and depression, I need to know that the smile on the outside is real, as opposed to being painted on despite what is actually happening underneath if you see what I mean? If someone is sad, that’s as fine as if they were happy but there’s no point hiding.

clowns

Moths:  Mottephobia: The fear of butterflies and moths is called lepidopterophobia. Mottephobia, or the fear of moths alone, is closely related to this phobia. Those who suffer generally call themselves mottephobes. Ok, this is a very odd one, it’s not butterflies as well, it’s just moths, the butterflies of the night. I think this has come from being attacked by moths whilst at parties and the like and no matter where I go, they just seem to follow me. It’s weird because I do enjoy butterfly houses and when we last went to the Natural History Museum, they had an exhibit on moths and I managed to finally see a Death’s Head (the one from the Silence of the Lambs) and it was stunningly beautiful. Who knows, maybe i’m maturing in my old age!

moth

Spiders: Arachnophobia: I think this is probably the most feared creature on the planet, I keep trying to organise myself to get over it but no matter how hard I try, they keep coming to scare the crap out of me! I have got some really (now anyway) funny stories from my fear so I suppose that’s a good thing but it still hasn’t helped me mature enough so that i’m no longer scared!

A couple of funny – ish why I hate spider stories…

  1. in an argument with my ex, him having got aggressive and me having got away and literally screaming at him “I don’t need you for anything” walking into the bedroom and finding a huge spider sat right in the middle of my bed, having to climb down in the argument and having to say “I don’t need you for anything, except…….” I’ve never seen someone so smug so quick – and he did get rid of the spider and I managed to eventually get rid of him, so everyone’s a winner in the end 🙂
  2. Alone in my flat, I saw a spider on the living room wall so as usual (I’d rather not kill a spider) I gave him the speech to say he was welcome so longs as he stayed away from me, he could have the walls, I’d have the floors. Next thing I know, he’s moved and is climbing up the sofa to sit next to me. This freaked me out and I got up and went and sat on my pouffe while the spider had the sofa. Decided after an hour of this that I would go to bed (having no idea where the spider has gone as he went behind the blanket I had on the sofa. Turned all off and went to bed. Woke up desperate for a drink about an hour later so went into the kitchen to get one, turned the light on to see the spider less than 3 inches in front of me, just stood there, not running or moving. Joy.

So there you can see why spiders and I do not get along!!

spiderish

Best Ways I’ve found to Get Rid of Phobias

Getting rid of phobias requires confronting them. You want to get exposure to your phobia llittle by little (small steps), not all at once. Deal with one birthday clown, then working onto more exposure. If you suffer from the fear of flying, first practice imagining the endeavor from takeoff to landing – or you could do what a friend of mine did which was take a flight over to Argentina (a 9+ hour flight) feeling this would be a kind of kill or cure! Next, to take it slowly try looking at pictures or videos of flight. After that, go hang out at the airport – perhaps even board a plane. The goal here is to retrain your brain’s response to flight, to re-condition your fear response.

If anyone has any phobias that they are working through, please let me know, I’m definitely up for making my life better and would rather not be thinking about fear. I’d also love to hear about how you’ve overcome your fear in the past and how you use it to enhance your life now.

Day 1 – Your Blog’s Name – Challenge 2

Well, I like having these new suggestions for writing, hopefully I won’t duplicate previous info shared but if I do, apologies, I’m trying to expand my writing and therefore am pretty much writing about anything.

Anyway, now that’s over, on to today’s topic. Where did the name “Half Baked Productions” come from?

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I know i’ve said it before but I have been through the depression process a few times throughout my life and the last time, was I would say, the worst time. It’s the only time where hurting myself and finishing it all actually seemed like a good idea. I was very lucky to be forced to the doctor by friends and loved ones and they were really good at getting me both medication and some help.

I was referred to a really good local therapy centre, and although I felt listless and lifeless, I did attend. The therapist, Sue, was lovely, very caring, sympathetic and seemed to actually listen to me.

It took a while but almost as soon as we started talking, she made the point that I needed to spend more time making ME happy. If that meant eating a giant pizza in front of the TV, do it. If it meant crying and laying in bed all day, do it. Do the little things that make you happy and slowly but surely, you’ll spend more time being happy and less being sad.

She was right, she made me see that the people who loved me, would want to be around someone who was happier, but also would be happy to see me happier and it lead to me trying a lot of new things to try and work out who I want to be.

During this time I spent a fair amount of time experimenting in the kitchen. I’ve always loved cooking and making things but this was the first time in my life where people were coming to me and asking me to make things for them. Jams, preserves, cakes, chocolate and the like, things that i’d take into work for presents and just to fatten up the team and from this, Half Baked was born.

 

I’ve always wanted to be more independent, I’d love to not be working for someone else at some point in my life, to be my own boss and this seemed like a good start. I know i’ll never be the next Mrs Kipling but things like this make me happy, and I love sharing the bits and bobs I make with others.

I also have an unending thirst for talent in crafting. I will try anything in the hope that I can make something pretty. I spent a little while when I first moved to Dorset playing around with beads and making some jewellery and I decided that this was a good waste of my time, I wasn’t being very sociable so I bought myself some cheap bits from ebay and set about self teaching. They may not be the best things, but again, some people seem to like them and I like being able to create pretty unique items for other people.

So there you have it, a sadness which created a half baked idea, no lightning bolt inspiration, just a totally honest approach. I don’t always succeed in my plans but I will always have a go. I tend to be quite Half Baked about everything and this just seemed to work for me.

I will probably always keep Half Baked going, at the moment I’m in a much smaller space so makes cooking difficult for larger events but I’m hoping when we move, that I’ll have more space for experimentation. I am always happy to try new things and have already decided that in 2019 I’m going to work more on my photography skills, but maybe I’ll give crochet another bash too.

What about yourselves my dear reader friends, is there a craft that you do for fun, no matter how badly things turn out? Or is there something you’ve always wanted to try but never actually got the chance to? I’d love to hear your stories and if you do share, you might inspire something else new in me!

My thoughts about Mental Health.

A friend of mine suggested this to me as a theme a few days/weeks ago and whilst it might not be the most “fun” theme i’ve tried to write about, it is most definitely close to home and something which I feel I should write about.

My history of depression is quite a long one. I can remember as a very young child sitting in a doorway, on our porch with a little bag in front of me wondering where I could go to make everyone else’s life easier. I’ve always felt like i’m in the way, like i’m a burden and I honestly have no idea why.

I’ve been very lucky, I have a loving, caring family and have not had anything serious to make me sad, or to feel the way I did, unfortunately, I just think that’s my mind.

I spent a lot of my childhood as a happy go lucky child, I think a lot of the surprise to my family/friends when I started talking about my struggles was the fact that I had hidden it so well. People didn’t believe I’d tried to run away, or to kill myself, or that i’d harmed myself but I only did what I thought was the right thing, to take away the pain, or to stop the suffering of others….like I said, I always felt like I was a burden, in the way, taking time from someone more important, hearing my parents arguing over something (which probably wasn’t me) and being sure that they were arguing over something i’d done, or something I’d caused and wishing I had never been born as I was causing people to have these thoughts…….

Yes, I have since learnt that this is a very egotistical thought but for so long I got used to feeling like the butt of all jokes, the hated part of the class, the idiot of the group – I was never a cool kid and I know that being bullied etc isn’t something no one else has dealt with but it seemed to affect me a lot –  so later in life, when the angry, hurtful and cruel voices started, I listened, in fact, no matter what was actually said to me, I would believe the inner voice. People would give me a compliment and the first thought in my mind would be “why is this person lying to me?” It sounds so warped but one thing my friends know about me is that I will often be self deprecating, and when they ask me why, my standard response is “it saves time” as in, if i’m horrible about myself, then no one else can get in there first.

I didn’t have much official therapy until I first tried to kill myself at 17 – I had started self harm before the age of 11 and trying to leave or run away at age 8 or 9 – I was back in the UK, back in my old school, surrounded by people who were confident, clever, had money and seemed to have their lives mapped out (something I still don’t have to be honest) and this scared me. I came out of a relatively serious to me relationship and I felt totally alone, totally worthless and more than anything, a massive waste of the planet’s space. I went to the riverbank close to my house, and swallowed I do not know how many pills and vodka (a great mix – not) expecting to not wake up and therefore to finally be at peace. Luckily a friend of ours found me about 2 minutes after this, actually made me be sick a few times and walked me home.

My brother was cooking a posh dinner for friends the next day and had asked us all to make an effort, I didn’t want to be involved, I just wanted to hide away but the friend told me he would dress like James Bond (he was a biker pal so this seemed insane to me) and come and get me…..I thought he was joking so agreed, only to be stunned when he showed up at my bedroom door in full suit/tie combo with a flower. How can a girl refuse when someone makes an effort like that? He made me smile, get up, get dressed and be social, it lifted me out of my funk and showed that once again, slapping on armour can really help strengthen you to fight against the demons.

I never told him how much he saved my life (figuratively and literally) but he really did, and i’ve never done something so foolish ever since. I am really lucky that I go no horrible side effects days later so please do not even do this as a cry for help, you may not be so lucky.

Because I was feeling so low, I went to the doctors to talk and ask for help. I didn’t know how the help would happen, but I knew I needed something. I went to the doctors to be told I could see a therapist and take these pills to be better…valium, at 17 is not ideal but I did as I was told as I thought this would make me better.

Nope, not so much. I felt like a zombie, like I had no insides, like I was just a vessel with nothing inside. I stayed on these pills for less than 3 months as I hated the feeling so much. I still felt hateful towards myself but didn’t want to live like that plus, I had the joy of my first therapy sessions.

Thankfully mental health services have changed a lot in the last 20 odd years as the doctor I saw at the time, basically told me that I should blame all of my issues on my parents. Now I understand that these people have a massive influence over the person that I am but this kind of advice really sat against me, my mum and dad may have opinions I didn’t agree with, or might not always say the right thing in the right way but there’s no way that I would just blindly blame them for everything wrong in my life, I have to take responsibility for my own actions.

From the bad few years I managed to rebuild myself. I moved to Spain again for a couple of years and spent a long amount of time just learning to be me. Not as a perfect person, but someone who was good at hiding away again, who was happy with her group of friends (unsure why they were my friends but still) and when I went back to England, I was just stuck in a rut, good friends and people in my life but not enough to keep me balanced. I moved to the South of the UK to escape some demons in Lincolnshire and make my life a bit more for me. I was used to living in my brother’s shadow and sort of wanted to be more me.

One of the biggest things down here was the fact that it was somewhere new, somewhere I was me and if people didn’t like it, I had to decide if I still wanted to be me or if I wanted to change to be more like them, to fit in, to be accepted. Sadly for a while I felt so alone that I did exactly that, which is when I started the worst relationship of my life, with a controlling person who could see my insecurities and who used them against me. He was controlling to the extreme and despite the fact that if anyone told me that their relationship had physical altercations, or that their partner would break their possessions saying that they were next, or threaten to kill their family if you dared breathe a word of what was happening; I’d have told them to run far and fast. I have no idea why or how we stayed together for as long as we did but the straw that (thankfully) broke the camel’s back for this was my accident in Paris.

For those who don’t know – It was Christmas day evening and I fell over, my body went one way, and my knee basically went the other. It was horrendously painful and I had no holiday insurance (yes, I’m an idiot, I am fully aware of this and now everytime I go away, it is the first thing I organise). He spent the night and a lot of the next day screaming at me for ruining his holiday, for making this all about me and made me go down the stairs across the road to the open pharmacy (thank christ for French pharmacies being open on boxing day that’s all I can say) where I asked for the strongest painkillers I could swallow while tears of pain were running down my face. I came back to the UK after a couple of days stuck on Orly airport due to snowstorms and went to the hospital where, after 6 months, they saw the serious damage I had done to myself, I had to have 2 operations and it was during the recovery from that where I finally had my revelation. We had been arguing again and he pushed me off of my crutches and picked it up to hit me with it. I can remember looking at him and saying he needed to make sure he finished the job otherwise if I could get up, I would finish it……thankfully he was out of my life shortly afterwards and it is something that I am forever grateful for.

Anyway, I spent a few months becoming me again, and for this time, I was really happy. I changed my weight, I changed my hair, I felt safe in my own home and a good person, I felt like I deserved good things, and that’s when I met the current man in my life.

I can honestly say the he is amazing, he is like my dream man and when I met him, I felt finally that there was someone who could see inside my mind, and didn’t judge me or try and hurt me for that.

It hasn’t always been easy and we did have a separation after about 9 months together. It was during this time I started to see my last therapist and can honestly say, she was simply amazing, helpful, approachable and the reason I now say therapy can work. The help can help. I was a broken person but the way I came back, has made me proud to be me finally. It’s only taken about 30 years of my life but finally I feel like I am not too bad a person. I’m still very negative about myself but am less apologetic about the person I am, if people don’t like it, that’s just fine. I’ve become comfortable as a person.

She spent a lot of time talking about my life, about my past and my insecurities and she actually helped me to see that a lot of the things I needed to do were to do with me, and the way I treat myself.

Things she taught me:

  1. Compassion is a massive part of my life, I’ve always been compassionate to others and she helped me to see that I needed to give myself a break…. Why expect yourself to be perfect, you don’t expect that from anyone else so why not give yourself a break?
  2. Accept that other people have flaws. Your parents are always going to be your biggest influencers but don’t forget, they are human and therefore capable of speaking badly, of making mistakes and you shouldn’t forget that. I know my mum and I have had a history of not getting on and at times we have both said really hurtful things to each other, but having the knowledge I now do, I think it has massively improved our relationship. (we shall see when she reads this!! eek)
  3. Tell the truth – if you feel like crap, and someone asks you how you are, be honest, if nothing else, you’ll find out who cares and who just gives lip service. I have been much more honest recently and I know that this has helped me to become a better, happier person.

It’s not an easy path to tread, it’s certainly not something that is an easy fix and it is something which sadly can still raise its ugly head frequently, a good example is that today I feel really down, I had bad dreams all night and am in a weird place at the moment, in my life, my relationship and my future. I know that there will be days where i’m flying high and some days where i’ll want to curl up and hide myself and maybe I should just do that. Self care is a big thing now and something that I underappreciated.

I cannot say I have the magic answer, medication, therapy and self care are all important, and each person is different. I would say the most important thing is to speak up, tell someone how you feel, your friends, your family, your most hated enemy, anyone. Tell them you are feeling low and ask for help. I know it’s not easy but I worry that people alone do not know where to go or what to do. I totally understand the feeling of being like a burden and that what I’m telling people to do is incredibly hard. I was made to seek help and actually did it because I was so tired but I have also had someone say that their suicidal thoughts were always there and seen as a break, a rest, a way to lift your pain which is also true and unfortunately the struggle is real, to continue fighting or to just give up.

I have lost a few friends to this choice, and I would always hope that if a friend was suffering, maybe they would contact me as someone who has been there and may understand. I’d hate the thought of people not feeling like they wanted to be a burden, seriously you are not and I cannot say that enough. PLEASE, if you ever feel like you are not enough, seek help. Therapy isn’t for everyone but I would say it’s worthwhile seeking some out, you might just learn something which helps.

Sometimes I feel like everything will work out ok, others I feel totally trapped and unhappy and unable to see a way out. I know there will be a way out but it’s a ways away. I think this is how I have to deal with life now, knowing that there will be bad, there will be good but the thought I have to hold on to is that no-matter what, there is going to be an end to however i’m feeling so to relish the positives and try to diminish the negative……easier said than done but a work in progress.

 

Talk about your favourite restaurant

I think this is probably a really easy topic for me (food obsessed) to talk about, I think the only fly in this ointment will be the only being 1 restaurant……there’s so many lovely places i’ve eaten in the past!

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My favourite place to eat is actually not anywhere near my home. It’s in Paris and to be honest, it’s probably not what people would call the best as in “snazziest/poshest/best food/most expensive” but it’s somewhere that I go to everytime i’m in the city and when people go there, I always tell them that the Chartier experience is totally worth the wait.

I’ve always considered this as a family restaurant, some of the best times I’ve ever had in Paris is with my family and here ranks high up there – steak hache with Mum, Dad, Liam and Bird where dad thought he could sell me off to one of the Maitre d’s in exchange for accommodation in the city – totally ruined by me smoking….not sure he’s ever forgiven me for that. To the meal where we were celebrating dad’s birthday and actually got a table to ourselves for once. To the epic sauerkraut when I was a child in Paris before the one and only time I’ve been to Disney – seriously not my thing, I love some Disney but if I had a choice, Paris would be my go to, not the fantasyland outside 🙂

The restaurant was created in 1896 by two brothers, Frédéric and Camille Chartier, in a former train station concourse under the name “Le Bouillon” (lit. broth, or stock, but in this context, a type of brasserie; originally a cheap workers’ eatery that served stew), near the Grands Boulevards, the Hôtel Drouot, the Musée Grévin, and the Palais de la Bourse. The restaurant has had only four owners since opening

My dad told me years ago that after WW2 the French government realised the best way to increase business and spending in the city was to make sure that a family would spend less money for a 3 course meal at a restaurant, than it would cost to buy and make it at home, this encouraged people to spend money outside and get money back into the economy. I don’t know if this is true, or even if it was at the time, but I always find Chartier relatively cheap and therefore a great place to go, even on a budget for beautiful food.

In some of my photos you might see some cupboards with little drawers in them, these used to be for storage of regular’s cutlery , Msr so-and-so would eat there so often that he would have his own drawer for storing his bits and bobs, and I really love this, it shows the homey atmosphere.

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I think that for me, there is far more than  the food to rave about in this place. It may not appeal to everyone but the quirkiness is amazing!

chartier 1

Firstly, you stand and queue outside, that’s right, queue. And it’s not first come first served, but as space allows. Therefore, there may be masses of groups of 4 in front of you, but if 2 seats open up, it might be you and your dining companion walking through those doors, as everyone shares tables. You don’t want to sit where they tell you to? Tough, get back out of the door……I have seen people saying they wanted to have a table to themselves, or to sit in a “better” part of the restaurant being turned away which is novel and though some say it is unnecessary, I love the way they set a rule and have stuck to it ever since.

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Once you are sat down, you are given a menu, a large (over A4 sized) double sided menu – often taken by people as a souvenir – which changes EVERY DAY…..and the waiters simply learn the menu, every day. I would say that probably lets say at least 50% of the items change (it used to be more but I have no idea if it has gotten easier in the more recent times) and the waiters have to learn it – prices and all. They write nothing down on pads etc, they simply take your order, write the info on your tablecloth and then go tell the kitchen. On the way through, they speak with Madame, she (I believe) is the owner/owner’s wife and she is in charge of the money, as they go past, they tell her the order and she writes down a bill.

As you eat and order more, the tablecloth notes get longer, and when you eventually come to pay, the waiter will total your bill (on the tablecloth) and then take your money & give you the change etc.

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At the end of the night the waiters will be given a figure from the madame, they then count this out from their money belts and whatever they have over, is theirs as tip, but if they don’t have enough (their maths is wrong for example) then they pay the difference back.

Ok, that sounds harsh but I think it’s amazing and next time anyone says “being a server/waiter/waitress is easy” maybe bring this up? Shows it’s not just a job where you carry plates!

Anyway, not only is the experience amazing, I really love the food. I don’t think there’s been any time there where I haven’t had any idea what to have, I have had some of the best Sauerkraut i’ve ever eaten in my life, the steaks are (always) amazing and even a simple plate like a tomato and cucumber salad is just amazing.

I’m so pleased my dad introduced me to this place, it’s been far too long since i’ve been there but seriously, if you are ever in Paris, remember this address and go for an epic meal, I doubt you’ll forget or indeed regret this!

7, Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre – go there and enjoy!

 

What I found when using Simply Cook.

****As this isn’t an ad for the company I used, a) I hope they are ok with me writing this and b) people reading this know this is my opinion so I cannot say if EVERY service is the same, if every provider of this is the same, this is just my views on a service I’ve been using for well over a year.****

Seems such a great idea, being sent spice or sauce mixes and new recipes to make fun and great meals simply by adding meats and veg……this sounded too good to be true to me to begin with but I have been pleasantly surprised with the company, the selection and most importantly, the meals.

Personally, I think this kind of thing is a brilliant idea. I love cooking, love following recipes but get put off but the small measurements of things (a half a tsp here, a dash there) which means I need everything and unless you’re Nigella, I don’t think there’s ever enough space. Plus, the recipe cards which come with the kits are easy to understand, clear and also have a small tear away section which is handy for shopping and those with awful memories.

Anyway, I signed up for a free trial and actually decided to continue it after our first box arrived.

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Each box contains 4 mix sets, that you can select online when ordering, this is also where they ask you for preferences/intolerances and the like. I’m fairly lucky as myself and the man have no real intolerances, just things we’re not fans of  – fish for example. So with one click of a button, all fish dishes were removed from the selection.

The recipe selection online is actually fairly sizeable. It’s not yet the level of Blue Apron (they say you can have a different box  monthly and not repeat a single meal in a year) but I’ve just checked and they have definitely added more recipes so I would say the selection is pretty good. Again, I’m lucky no fussy eaters so this may not be ideal for everyone but as this is my opinion, i’ll please myself 😉

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Penne aLa Rustica

I have not selected something which is massively good for vegans or vegetarians, I mean, I would say 99% of the recipes could be made with quorn or veg substitutes and there is an option for gluten free recipes too, again, not an issue for me but good for dinner party guests who may not be quite as lucky as me.

The website is really handy as not only can you customize your selections, but also favourite and discard suggestions so even if you run out of new things to try, there’s always something you can fall back on.

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Balinese chicken

I really enjoyed the excitement of new cooking for myself and S, he really doesn’t cook so it’s been a fun way for us to work together in a kitchen to come up with something new to us both which we’ve both agreed, is almost always yummy – and to be fair, even if it isn’t especially our “thing” it has still been lovely!

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Nyonya

Sadly, our flat is not big enough for entertaining but I think these services are great if you can find something that appeals to you when socialising. They also offer a one off box option which would be ideal for a special dinner you have planned – at least then you have everything you need even if you dont fancy cooking with the kits more often.

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Paella

It’s simple to cook but the dishes you create can turn out really lovely and looking much more “professional” than your normal fare (well, in my case definitely, flavour is always good with me, presentation, not so much). I did take photos of some of the meals we’ve made but I’m not the biggest fan of them so will share but please don’t be too judgemental! All the photos are mine, apart from the Featured Image which I found on the Simply Cook instagram pages and seemed very appropriate.

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ok, this was a veggie Iranian Stew that I added beef to – it was in the slow cooker and smelt AMAZING!!!

I do still use this service but not as much as i’d like to due to myself and S not being on the same shift pattern, we don’t eat together very much (which I do miss) and I currently have about 15 meal kits still to use, which I am doing, slowly but don’t want to start again until I’ve used those up – thankfully this gives me options for when i’m in the mood to cook or even for things that I am planning in the future like every Sunday that he now has off (instead of working every weekend day) we are having a special Sunday meal. Doesn’t have to be anything super posh, just needs to be fun, nice to eat and have great flavours, which Simply Cook seem to have in spades!

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Thai basil Pork

I would definitely recommend the service – they do many special offers and you can order the boxes as frequently/infrequently as you like. I always used the monthly boxes but I do know that I have stopped my account for a couple of months and then reactivated it with no issues. Simply Cook just send occasional emails to let me know of special offers or new menus being created but I very much enjoy the freedom they give me.

If anyone reading this would like to know more, go to their website, and if you wanted to get some special treatment, use the code smply.in/PB1923 and you should get some discount off your first box. Why not try it, you might be surprised and you may even learn some new kitchen skillz!

If you use these type of services already, let me know your thoughts, are you just as positive? Or am I missing the elephant in the room? Do you want to make me jealous with your better photos? Please do, the diet is good and all but I look at food and consider it living vicariously through others! Also, if you work for Simply Cook and liked my review let me know 🙂

Now I’m hungry. What’s for dinner?

 

 

 

 

 

A quick Hello!

Hi everyone!

I keep getting emails saying more people are following my blog – which is surprising, I mean, who would want to listen to stuff I have to say? apparently a few of you! Therefore I thought i’d say hello and give a little description of me and my blog.

Firstly, I’m Polly, i’m 35 (how is that even possible – I was only 20 2 minutes ago) and I’m living in the South of the Uk with my partner (the man). he will remain nameless as he’s very antisocial and I totally respect that -even if it means for photos I need to rely on either A LOT of red wine or ninja photographers 🙂 . We’ve been together for 6 years and looking for a place in the area we live. We currently live together but it’s a very small flat and we (ok, ok, it’s actually me) need more space.

stuart

I’m a fan of cooking, crafting, travel, photography, reading – i’m a massive Terry Pratchett fan, politics, board and computer gaming, trash tv and writing about things which interest and amuse me. I’ve set myself a challenge for my 40th birthday and being more comfortable with blogging is on this list (see my 40 for 40 post to see this list in all it’s glory!) so am always happy to be given things to discuss or write about – be that books, films, food, places and ideas so if you want to see something on here, simply let me know!

I try to do mad things and stuff for charity every year – to both scare me and prove how awesome humans really are and this also gets written about a lot!

I spend a fair amount of time looking and working around food, I set up my little business Half Baked Productions a few years ago and spend my time making, baking and creating. I tend at the moment to not do too many fairs due to time restraints but I love making things and find it calms me a lot. I have suffered from depression for a really long time but have found that things such as this help me to remain happy and not get too bogged down with things. I love Half Baked because it gives me both an outlet but also to shout about other small personal businesses that I love, we all need to stick together am I right?

I have however started following a diet, I have noticed that I am less Rubenesque and more just fat. I feel uncomfortable with it and it doesn’t help either my self esteem or depression so I am also occasionally using this page for a sounding board, of things I make or things which catch my eye. This means that most of the things I make (some are below) are now out of my allowances 😦 it’s a shame because some of the things I make are banging!

So yes, thanks for following and for those of you who read, comment or share I am very grateful. I try to write often but at the moment do not have the ability or time to write everyday. I try to be as honest as I can but would rather not be mean for the fun of it. If I write something which I think could be taken as mean, I try to amend and re-write. Just to be me though, I do occasionally have rants. I apologise if it’s not for you but I look forward to having you all along on my blogging journey. All the support is much appreciated and I’m really pleased to be part of this wordpress world 😀