Slow Sunday Book Club: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

I really enjoy reading, and I just don’t do it enough any more. So when I saw Allie at Rush and Teal introduce the Slow Sunday Book Club to her newsletter ‘Slow Sunday Club’, I figured what a great opportunity to start reading again.

I find the hardest part about reading, other than finding the time, is choosing a book. And when it’s chosen for you, you often find you’ll read something you wouldn’t otherwise select.

The idea behind this book club is to deliberately find a reason to put down your phone, switch off the tv and take some time doing something more relaxing and a little less taxing on your brain and your eyes. I’m all for it!

So the first book chosen was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I’d not heard of it, but found it available cheaply on Amazon so I figured I’d go ahead and jump in.


As much as I’m not going to describe the plot of this book, I’m going to be discussing parts of the story and my thoughts on the writing throughout this post, so if you haven’t read this book and don’t want to be spoiled then I’d suggest clicking off here. I’ll see you in my next post.


Firstly, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read. It’s an easy read, despite my having to google the meaning of quite a few words used. Eleanor has quite the vocabulary.

Since I didn’t know anything at all about this book before I started reading, I actually found the reading process very similar to when I read Room. I went into that story blind too. I enjoyed the process of learning things about the character that they already know, but you don’t, as I read. I find that usually you discover new things in a story as the characters learn them themselves, but in this story it’s different; you discover little nuggets about Eleanor as she reveals them slowly to you, much in the way that she starts to remember things about her past during the second section of the book.

This is a very well-written, and delightfully funny book, despite it being truly heartbreaking in parts too. I found the story very relatable in parts (due to recognising the human condition, and not because I’ve been through any dramatic turmoil in my life), and also could see traits in Eleanor and the characters around her that I’ve seen in others during my life.


It took me a while to realise this was set in Scotland, and I suppose this was deliberate as the author fed you little bits of information along the way, and accents started appearing on the page.

This is a heavy-going book, and if you have any sensitivity to abuse or addiction you might want to steer clear. This is, however an amazing story of human kindness and how the mind can both harm and heal. There’s a few twists and turns along the way, and reading as an outsider to Eleanor’s story allows you to both analyse and sympathise with her plight.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book. According to the notes at the end, the film rights have been bought by Reese Witherspoon and I’d be interested if a movie does come out of it. If it does, I hope they leave in the Scottish aspect. I have one question at the end of all of this though. One little loose end I need answering – do pubs in Scotland really serve Dr Pepper?

Food Challenge Recipe 9: Chicken & Red Pesto Mayo Ciabatta Burger

This week’s recipe involved me going slightly out of my comfort zone when it came to cooking the chicken.

When I cook with chicken I always assume I’m going to kill myself or whoever I’m feeding. I’m convinced I’m going to leave raw chicken all over my kitchen (I blame an anti-bacterial spray advert from when I was a kid) and as a result I use gloves and anti bac the kitchen A LOT when I cook it!

I always bake my chicken, because I know I can put it in the oven for a certain time, it’ll be cooked when it comes out and there’s as little touching of the actual meat as I can get away with.

This recipe entailed pan frying chicken and I wasn’t too thrilled, but I knew I would give it a go. People cook raw chicken every day, so it can’t be that hard can it?

This recipe is served with home-made chips, which I serve quite regularly at home. I use sunflower spray rather than oil because it works just fine, and is healthier, therefore happier on the stomach. That’s something I’ve noticed with these Gousto recipes – there’s a lot of oil, a lot of sugar and a lot of salt added. Much more than I would ever add in my usual day-to-day cooking. Anyhow, back to the recipe!

I was provided with one large chicken breast, which I had to butterfly in order to produce two thinner breast portions. I managed this okay, but one was thicker than the other. I had to then sprinkle 1 tbsp of dried oregano over the chicken portions and add a pinch of salt.


These were pan-fried in a little oil for 5 minutes on each side (I obviously obsessed over making sure these were cooked all the way through).


To make a pesto mayo I mixed 22g of sundried tomato pesto with 15ml of mayo. Then mixed 22g of pesto with a drizzle of olive oil and this made a dressing for my rocket leaves.


I was provided with 2 ciabatta rolls (though I’m not sure whether it was really ciabatta because it didn’t seem like it was).


These were popped into the oven for 3 minutes and then removed, sliced in half and some of the pesto mayo spread on the bottom of each roll. A little rocket was placed on top of that, and then one of the chicken breasts.


This was served with the home-made chips and the rest of the rocket, which was drizzled with the pesto dressing.


The chicken was lovely and moist, tasted lovely with the oregano on top and the pesto dressing was tasty.

That being said, I would have liked something other than pesto to put on the rocket, since it was already on the burger. It made everything taste very samey and I like a bit of variation.

We both enjoyed this meal, and I think I would try it again – certainly preparing the chicken in the way I did this time around. It was good quality chicken, which helped.

I give this recipe 7/10

Glossier Solution 4 Weeks In; Is it The Solution or The Problem?

I’ve been using Glossier’s Solution chemical exfoliator for 4 weeks now, and I wanted to come back and let you know how I’m getting on with it, on my combination and usually fairly clear skin.

Firstly I’ll explain the different between a chemical and a physical exfoliant. You’ll no doubt be familiar with physical exfoliants – usually cream based and with bit of grit in them designed to slough away the dead skin cells on your face, leaving a clean and clear soft layer of skin behind. I used to use the St Ives Apricot Scrub a few times a week and it gave good results. But then I switched to the Pixi Glow Tonic, which is a chemical exfoliant. Chemical exfoliants use a mixture of different acids, in different strengths, to take away dead skin cells but also manage and maintain the levels of sebum your skin produces (which makes you oily), reduce and manage breakouts, minimise acne scarring and redness and leaves your skin feeling soft and glowy. Or at least that’s what they claim to do.

When Glossier announced their Solution to all of these problems, I took notice. I think everyone took notice. If there’s one thing that Glossier have got right over the last year it’s causing a stir with their marketing and word of mouth hype.

I had some store credit, so thought I’d splurge and give it a try.

Let’s start with describing my skin – I have generally clear skin. I have redness, and I get hormonal breakouts, usually only on my chin. I have an oily t-zone so find benefit to using masks to clear this out. When I get breakouts, my skin will scar for a long time before the marks fade. My pores are fairly large and I have quite sensitive skin. I’m nearing 35 years young now, so I have fine lines, and my skin isn’t as glowy as it once was.

I had seen this formula was meant to clear breakouts and prevent new ones, even the skin tone, reduce acne scarring, exfoliate (of course) and leave a balanced and healthy skin tone ongoing. There have been a lot of articles about the content of chemicals in this product and I won’t pretend to understand any of these. If you’re interested, a simple search will tell you all you need to know.

For this review, I’m going to tell you my experience with this product, as well as including weekly pictures of my skin.

Let’s start with that packaging:


Solution arrives in a space-age foil wrapped package that you have to rip open at the top to get to the product inside. All the ingredients and such are printed on the front, in a very ‘prescription’ type way.


The bottle itself costs £19 (when it’s in stock) and contains 130ml (4.4 fl oz) of product. The shiny pink packaging is pleasing to the eye, and I was very excited to try the pump under the cap, as I hadn’t used one of these before.


Simply push down the disc at the top and product will dispense onto your cotton pad for ease application. In theory. In reality the pump is a little too urgent, and no matter how delicately you pump it, product spurts out and all over the near-by area. (That’s what she said) Not a great start for such an expensive product.

You’re supposed to use this just once a day, due to the chemicals in the product and also use sunscreen if you’re going into the sun after using this. I live in Britain and it’s winter so I’m okay – but my foundation has spf in it anyhow.

I tried this product out, alongside my normal skin routine and didn’t introduce any new products for the duration of this 4 week trial.

Let’s see how my skin looked at the start, before I started using the product:

You can see I have redness on my chin, cheeks, forehead and all around my nose. Naturally this is where I get oily and as such I have breakouts and blocked pores.

The process of using the product is as follows:

  1. Saturate cotton pad (once daily)
  2. Apply to cleansed face
  3. Leave for a minute or so to settle into skin (you’ll feel it start to tingle a little)
  4. Follow with your moisturiser

After the first week I made notes of my thoughts and this is what I wrote:

  • Stings a little
  • Leaves skin sticky
  • Smell – can’t put my finger on it. Maybe Angel Delight, or a My Little Pony I had when I was little?
  • After first 2 days, possible glow?
  • Later in week – skin feels ‘resurfaced’ possibly?
  • No change in red or dark patches yet
  • Break outs in weird places but skin is dealing with it fine

Let’s address a few of these. Yes, the product did sting occasionally in odd places, but the Pixi Glow Tonic does this too. I did notice it left my skin feeling sticky, which was a little alarming. Because of this I decided to only use this at night, ahead of using my night cream, so that in the morning I was able to wash it all off. The smell (which a lot of people can’t work out, and don’t understand why it was added) is unusual. It’s chemical, and sweet, but not off-putting to me. I did notice a smoothness on my forehead, and possible glow after a few days. I was breaking out in strange places, but put this down to starting a new skin product which is normal for me.

There’s no obvious difference between the start pictures and those of 1 week in. Let’s be real, I didn’t expect there to be!

Week 2, still no difference. I actually noticed more breakouts in strange places and my red areas looked a little more angry on occasion.

The Solution had enticed a spot out, which had previously gone away, but here it is again. Enjoy the picture of my hairy chin too – I hadn’t got around to doing anything about it at the point of taking this picture.

Week 3, STILL no difference, other than my red areas were looking redder than ever. Still getting spots in weird places on my cheeks, under my eyes. I noticed other people reporting the same – like, literally spots in the same odd places….

Unfortunately, the sun decided to shine on the day I took these progress photos, and I didn’t realise the marked affect it had on the look of my skin until I came to edit them. The sunshine has given my skin a lovely glow. I promise this wasn’t the case. You can see the scarring from the spot on my chin hasn’t gone down yet. It won’t for a while, but I’d hoped the Solution might speed up this process. It didn’t.

Week 4: I’ll admit – this was a 5 day week for me and the Solution. I gave in at day 5 and decided enough was enough. I used my favourite face mask, which immediately made my skin look less red and cleaner. It felt better and softer, and just nice again.

So these were taken a few days after this mask and after I’d stopped using Solution. You can see my skin’s basically the same as when I started – the main difference I’ve seen is that I actually have MORE scarring from blemishes than when I started. Scarring on my chin, around my mouth, along my top lip (where I found my skin felt stingy and sensitivity when I used Solution too close) My pores felt oily, and looked pronounced. My t-zone became oily again within 2 weeks of using this product. I now have a lovely spot on my cheek which won’t go away.

To compare:

Before I started the process on the left, week 4 on the right.

No change!

The verdict:

I’d say, at £19 this is a pretty expensive product so see NO positive difference. I used this as instructed and there were more cons to it than pros.


Over the 4 weeks I used this amount of product (I’d say 1/5) – so that’s using around 2 to 3 pumps once daily. I felt this wasn’t enough to saturate the cotton pad, but I have sensitive skin and this amount of product definitely covered my whole face.

I’m actually pleased with myself that I didn’t waste my own money on this product. Some people have said they’ve seen marked results with it, but they usually tend to have very problematic skin already, and I can only assume this will do so much before plateauing and the user requiring to move onto something else.

I’ve moved back onto my Pixi Glow Tonic. I used it last night, and it felt wonderful.

Solution is currently sold out, but I’d say don’t bother. It’s not worth the hype, or the heartbreak. Go get yourself Glow Tonic from Pixi and thank me later.


Food Challenge Recipe 8: Potato Topped Chicken, Mustard & Kale Pie

This week’s recipe came to me via Gousto. We decided to give Gousto, the recipe box, a go during my recent week off, so the next 4 recipes were all made that week. I decided it wasn’t fair, or practical, to expect that I would have the time (or inclination) to cook a new recipe every week. And as this is my challenge, I’ve decided this will be 52 new recipes in a year rather than forcing myself to achieve one a week.

Anyhow, this week I’m sharing the first of the 4 Gousto recipes I chose. (And before you wonder, I chose the box and paid for it myself. This isn’t sponsored, I just decided to try it!)

So, this recipe, as you’ll have gathered from the title, is a potato topped chicken pie. This does have dairy in it, so I took some lactase pills when I ate it. My stomach didn’t like it a few hours later, but it did enjoy it during. Anyhow, to the recipe!


I collected my ingredients and my recipe card and got started.

I dissolved a chicken stock cube into 150ml boiled water, then whisked dijon mustard (1bsp), cream cheese (100g) and cornflour (1 tbsp) – I whisked these in separately so that it didn’t go lumpy.

I added shredded kale (120g) and diced chicken breast (250g) into an ovenproof dish with some salt and pepper and tossed everything together.



I grated some cheese (40g) and 300g of potatoes, which I squeezed the moisture out of and mixed the two together with a glug of olive oil and some salt.

I then topped the chicken and kale with this and popped it into the oven for 30 minutes.


When it came out of the oven, it was nice and sizzling.



I have to say, that for such few ingredients this was super tasty. I’d have liked the cheese that went on top with the potato to have been a little stronger, but should I make this again I’ll use extra mature cheddar. I enjoyed the mustard flavour running through the chicken and kale, and having thought I didn’t like kale, I was pleasantly surprised!

I also wasn’t sure this would fill two people based on the few ingredients, but was very happy with the portion size!

I’m tempted to make this again, with a few tweaks and a switch of the cream cheese to a dairy-free version.

I give this recipe 8.5/10!

I’ve Been Thinking…

It’s been 20 years since I started blogging, and the last 2 or 3 have been a whirlwind. I discovered the blogging community, put my heart and soul into it, and learned a lot about how to play the blogging game.

I found out that 15 year olds are evolving into marketers, pushing their brands, and understanding engagement better than me. I also saw the darker side – successful bloggers and vloggers prepared to lie to gain follows and likes at the cost of people who they would have previously called friends. Greed, jealousy and bitterness prevailing.

It taught me to support people who show courage and confidence, no matter what my taste. To support the endeavours of people who follow their dreams and display integrity. But most recently, I’ve learned that it’s okay to step back.

I’ve learned all of these things, but in the last few months the blogging community has become bitter and disillusioned. I rarely see support or originality any more. The people who I used to talk to have stepped back from twitter (I noticed that they probably moved away at the same time as I did) and I kind of miss them. Twitter chats are now all about the ‘business’ side of blogging and influencing, whereas they used to dabble in this but also involve chats about favourite travel destinations and music. I miss that too.


In the last couple of years I dabbled in YouTube. Then a few weeks ago I was watching some videos and realised that I actually cringed at the start of one random one that came up in a playlist. It was less professional, badly shot and really just pretty bad. And I thought to myself, I wonder if people feel that way when they see my videos? And from that moment, I decided YouTube isn’t for me. That doesn’t mean I won’t make another video if it seems relevant, but I’m not going to make an effort to try to make videos. It was fun whilst I did it, but I’m not going to force something that doesn’t feel natural.

I also decided that since I don’t want to become an influencer, I really need to just stick to my roots. I don’t want this to be a profession. I don’t want to be pitching to brands, stalking my stats or worrying about likes and follows. I won’t completely ignore the numbers because it’s nice to see progression, it’s nice to get likes and it’s lovely to feel wanted by the people who read my blog BUT I’m not going to chase it. I haven’t updated my media kit in ages, I don’t know what my DA is and I haven’t poured over my twitter analytics in ages. I’m focussing on my content rather than my following. And surely that’s the correct way around, right?


I read so many blogs that aren’t original, have basically no content, and just ‘fit’ the profile of what a blog should be – they have a decent following, but they don’t stand out. Naturally that makes me question my content, how I promote myself, whether I’m less than them. But I’m not, I’m just not in the same game as them.

Blogging is a creative outlet for me. I enjoy writing, sharing my story and receiving any contact back from my readers. So here is where I get back to it. I’ll post what I want, when I want, as I always have. But when I post I’m particularly proud of gets less engagement than one I consider less interesting, I’ll not fret. I wrote it, I posted it and I’m proud of it.

The end.

Glossier Generation G vs ColourPop Blotted Lip

The first time I heard of the ColourPop Blotted Lip lipsticks, I was sold. A product that punched a little pigment, without that matte matte finish but something a bit more natural and not glossy. I bought the first 3 of their limited edition range and then a few more when they released some into their staple line.

I’d never heard of Glossier at that point, but when I saw the Generation G lipsticks a few months down the line, I was struck by how similar the packaging was.

Then when Glossier became accessible to me, I decided to put a couple into my basket and give them a go. By that point I was a fan of the Blotted Lips so I wanted to try to compare them.

And now I’m going to compare the two formulas for you, so you can see whether the price difference is worth it and which one I prefer.



Let’s start with the packaging. As you can see they’re very similar.

The ColourPop Blotted Lip gives 1g of product and costs $5 (about £3.60). It comes in 8 shades currently. The tube is plastic and white, and when you take the lid off the product is in a twisty tube. There’s an issue with the packaging in that sometimes when you pull the lid off, the whole product comes out of the bullet and will land (and stain) wherever you don’t want it to. As you can see from the picture above, there is a little mess in the lid and as such it has transferred onto the bullet. This is because the product has come out of my tube and rattled around.


This shade Sucker is the closest I could get from my range, to the one I chose from the Glossier collection. I believe there was another, Zuma, which was closer, but I don’t think ColourPop sell that any more.

The packaging of the Glossier Generation G lipsticks is basically the same, just a little shorter. In here you get 2g of product for £14. Obviously there’s a price difference, but you get double the product in here.


The shade Zip was my shade of choice for this post. I believe that people have had the same issue with the product falling out of the packaging with these too, so they’re on a parr with each other on that. I haven’t experienced this with these yet, but I’m conscious of how I open the lid due to this.

Let’s talk about the formula.


On the left we have the Gen G lipstick in Zip, and on the right the Blotted Lip in Sucker.

From the swatches you can see the Blotted Lip is slightly sheerer. You can also see it wasn’t an even swatch and there were a few dry flakes. The Generation G swatch is more strongly pigmented and creamier. The colour is even on my arm and actually was harder to rub off.

On the lips the performance is very similar. The Blotted Lip will glide on but patch. It’s drier on the lips and doesn’t last as long. It doesn’t enjoy balm on top and will wear off to a patchy finish. That being said, you can build it up nicely and if you have scrubbed your lips and balmed them a little while before, you will get a comfortable, pigmented and long-lasting finish.

The Generation G glides on to a more pigmented finish from the start, is comfortable and accepts a tap of lip balm on top when needed. It offers a lovely wash of something to the lips when it’s needed, but can be built up without patchiness.

The verdict:

As you have probably guessed, I’m a bigger fan of the Glossier Generation G lipstick. The formula is creamier, it’s longer lasting, more comfortable and just feels more luxe. Yes, it’s more expensive, but you get more product and a higher quality product. I only own two of the shades so far, but I’ll be buying more, and replacing these when I’m done. This shade, Zip, lives in my bag now. It’s perfect to add a little bit of colour to my lips when I need something but doesn’t look like I’ve put effort in.


If you’ve been sold on the Generation G lipsticks and want to try them out, you can get 10% off your first order by using this link: I wasn’t asked to say that, I just really think you should try them if you’re tempted – I don’t think you’ll be sorry!

I’d love to know what you think, if you’ve used either the ColourPop or Generation G lipsticks (or both) and if you agree with my review or not!

Food Challenge Recipe 7: Red Cabbage

I’m a huge fan of vegetables, and red cabbage is one I rarely eat. At Christmas time I love to visit the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park because I can get spiced red cabbage as a side to one of the dishes they serve at the Oktoberfest tent.

When a friend received her Hello Fresh box at work, and had two lots of the recipe cards, she kindly allowed me to take a couple of the extra cards home – I think she saw the gluttony in my eyes when I saw one particular recipe.

It was for balsamic steak with wedges and red cabbage, and despite not eating steak at home, I was intrigued enough the try the recipe and switch the steak for chicken.

I won’t go into the chicken part of the recipe, because it’s incredibly un-photogenic (you’ll see) and the wedges were just wedges (with rosemary and they were delicious) but the real star here was that cabbage.

You start with half a small red cabbage, cut the stalk out and thinly slice. I didn’t slice mine nearly thinly enough, but we live and learn.


I also sliced a small onion into half moons and this was thrown into a pot and cooked into a little oil over a medium heat. I cooked this until soft (about 5 minutes). I then added 1 tsp of mustard seeds and after about 30 seconds, when they started to pop, I added the cabbage.



This was stirred together and then cooked down for about 5 minutes until soft (I think I could have cooked mine down for a little longer to be fair).

At this point I added 2 tbsp of white wine vinegar, a sprinkle of sugar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Then I popped on a lid and cooked for 5 minutes on a low heat. I then removed the lid and cooked uncovered for about 5 minutes.

Then it was ready to eat. This recipe was supposed to make enough for 2 people but it was easily enough for 4. I was eating it with every meal for the next couple of days! It was delicious though, so I didn’t mind.


I warned you the chicken looked horrendous, but the rest was yummy. I glazed the chicken in the balsamic marinade for steak, but it didn’t really come through so it just tasted like plain chicken by the end!

I’ll give the recipe for the cabbage a 6/10 I need to cook less, chop it smaller and cook it longer next time!

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

The last few weeks have been quiet but busy all at once. I’ve been keeping myself busy with bits and bobs.

The country celebrated both Pancake Day and Valentine’s Day. I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, as a rule, but we definitely celebrate Pancake Day. Sugar and lemon is my topping of choice – call me a traditionalist.

I’ve also been keeping up with my calligraphy hobby – I apparently have a pen purchasing issue. As of today I don’t need any more pens, however I’m pretty sure I’ve said that before about lipsticks and mascaras, and here we are….


To start off our weekend we headed to KFC for our Friday night junk food fix, only to be met with ‘closed’ signs at every shop we went to. As you’ll probably know now, KFC had a distribution issue and as a result were unable to serve both chicken or chips. As such we ended up in Five Guys, and you know what? I think the Five Guys magic has worn out on us – I really wanted chicken I guess.


This weekend we saw both I, Tonya and The Florida Project. I really enjoyed them both. Having been to Florida a couple of times and visited and been into some of the buildings they shoot in during the movie, I was really interested to see what the film was all about. I wasn’t disappointed, and though the film was just going through the motions of the everyday life of people during Summer break, it was a really interesting and amazingly acted movie (especially due to the age of the main actors). I, Tonya was brilliant too, with fantastic acting from Allison Janney (I love her!). The movie was funnier than I expected too!

It was President’s Day weekend this weekend in America, which reminded me it has been 15 years since I visited with Gary. Our first holiday together, and my first time on a plane, first time in America and first time being snowed in another country. We had an extra day in the snowy city (New York snow I the most beautiful in the world) which gave us plenty of time to play in the freezing temperatures.


But still, 15 years ago. That’s a whole lifetime ago. So much has changed since then – and all for the better!

So, this week I have some time off work, which means blog planning, cleaning, seeing family and friends, and hopefully lots of rest. I’ll also be catching up on tv.

In fact whilst I type this I’m watching episode 3 of the new season of The X-Files. If we forget the first episode, I’m enjoying the season so far. I have no memory of how the last season of, what I would call, the proper series ended (you know, before the reboots) but I’m loving the sparkage between Mulder and Scully.

Anyhow, enough of that. It’s time to get busy doing all the relaxing! See ya real soon!

Food Challenge Week 6: Ratatouille Linguine

The Disney reference in the title of this week’s dish was just a happy coincidence, I assure you. In fact I didn’t realise I had named a dish after two of the characters in the Pixar film Ratatouille until I was just about to start writing this post….. I’m obviously a little slow on the uptake.

So this week’s recipe is a variation on this recipe. I have changed it up a little, firstly because I tasted it and it needed tweaking and secondly because I don’t like spaghetti… Oh and also because the idea of nutritional yeast creeps me out – but this dish doesn’t need cheese (or any alternative) on top anyway. Who puts cheese on ratatouille??

I’ll preface this recipe with the fact that I don’t like either aubergine or courgette, but G-Man does so I thought I’d go with it.

When I begin a recipe, I always start off by preparing all the veg, chopping it up (as long as it won’t go bad before I get to use it) and measuring out anything I need to so I can be relaxed and chilled when I’m actually doing the cooking.


I chopped up 1 small white onion, 1 small aubergine, courgette and a normal sized pepper. All into small chunks.

I don’t like to use garlic when I can avoid it because, as I’ve mentioned before, we don’t really enjoy the acridity garlic gives, in this household. So when I can, I’ll use garlic oil instead. I heated 1 tbsp of garlic olive oil in my deep frying pan and lightly browned the chopped veg.




Then I added chopped tomatoes (400g can), water (480ml boiled), balsamic vinegar (1 tsp) and then linguine for 2 people (which I snapped in half for easier cooking and eating!)


I brought this to the boil and then letter it simmer for 13 minutes, lightly stirring occasionally (at 10 minutes test the pasta and then add on time in 1 minute increments until the pasta is cooked how you like, if it’s not al dente yet)


The sauce will have thickened and it’ll all come together. Then taste and season. I added pepper, sea salt and a small teaspoon of sugar to help the tomatoes along. Stir, taste and continue to season until it’s perfect.

Take it off the heat and stir in 1 tbsp of chopped fresh basil.


It’s a sloppy dish to eat, this one, so no white shirts to be worn during dinner!


We started eating and felt like something was missing. It needed a flavour a little deeper, so G-Man suggested the Waitrose Balsamic Vinegar glaze we have in the cupboard. It’s very versatile and can be used hot or cold, so we drizzled some over top and WOW was he right. The glaze added just the right amount of sweetness and depth and really complemented the dish.


Clean plates all round! This recipe actually made enough for 3 people, despite it being measured out for two, so I took the leftovers to work one day in the week, and it was just as good the second time around!

I think I’ll definitely be making this again, and it’ll be just as good in the Summer as it has been in the Winter.

Yum yum! 9.5/10 for this recipe even though I don’t usually like aubergine or courgette!

Has Instagram Stopped Us from Living in The Moment?….. NO!

I’ve been taking photographs regularly since I discovered Flickr in 2007. Unfortunately by then it was too late for me to have gleaned enough knowledge from it to pick a decent wedding photographer (I was married in 2006 and the professional photos were not very good. Thankfully my Brother-in-Law had his camera and took a bunch of great album worthy photos, phew!)

My love affair with phone photography started with the app Hipstamatic (which I really need to start using again) and then when instagram appeared, I was all about “the ‘gram”.

In my time taking photos I have completed 3 separate 365 projects (2 documented on my Flickr and 1 solely on instagram) For those who don’t know what this is, it’s simply taking one photo a day for a whole year. It’s kind of hard, and sometimes you don’t know what to take a picture of or just forget. But it’s taught me to really consider what makes a photo ‘interesting’ and whether a picture really is interesting before I load it to the internet. It really helped me to look at things in a different way to enable me to take a decent photo 365 times over a year.


But after the first 2 (I did those back to back, since the first one was rather boring) I decided to put my camera away for the most part. I didn’t keep it in my bag (mobile phones didn’t have decent – or sometimes any – camera back then) I felt like I was too swept up with taking a photo at every good opportunity that I was missing out on the actual experience.


Since then, and with vast technological advances, we all have awesome cameras in our pockets. My iPhone camera has a higher pixel quality than my Canon dSLR. But there’s always the chance to get swept up in a photo moment rather than fully living the experience. I remember going to an exclusive Hosier gig. The tickets were REALLY hard to get and he was just about topping his game. Everyone was talking about him. Two women in front of me took a few photos at the start of the gig, and then about an hour later I saw one of them uploading them to her instagram (whilst the gig was happening) and then within 15 minutes she was back on instagram, not only checking her likes, but sharing the photos with her friend sitting next to her – of the gig she was at that was STILL HAPPENING. She was busy reminiscing about something that was still happening in front of her and that she was missing….. FACE PALM

It’s certainly a fine line between sharing an experience and completely missing it. Years back, just after Michael Jackson had died, I went to a local town to see a Thriller Flashmob (remember when flashmobs were a thing?) The actual flashmob might have been good, I don’t know because this is what happened:


You can play ‘spot the MJ impersonator’ with this one. I was totally struck by the amount of hands, phones and cameras there were in my way (this was 2009 so it wasn’t hugely the norm). But then, remember mine was in the crowd too!


My first fulltime job was in retail back in 2001 and me and the girls used to find it odd seeing holiday makers with their cameras in a shopping centre taking photos of themselves in front of stores….. little did we know it would be the norm just a few year later.

Anyway, this is all bringing me to why I’m here talking about this today. A few days back Sara Tasker shared a link on Twitter (which you can find here) This article is about a Vimeo video (that you can watch in the article) created by a fella named Oliver, showing how ‘everyone takes the same pictures on instagram’. In itself it’s a really enjoyable video to watch, and well put together, so I’d encourage you to see it. But this site decided to interview the creator and here’s what he said:

“During my trip, I felt that many people didn’t really enjoy the moment and were hooked to their smartphones,” he says. “As if the ultimate goal of travel was to brag about it online and run after the likes and followers.”

I was with him up until then. I feel like this guy has really missed the point of instagram. He’s actively searched on instagram for places, tags and similarities and then put them together in a video. You could make a video of old paintings of fruit and tell people about how everyone back then was so obsessed with sharing their fruit bowls that their apples went bad before they could eat them…..

What he saw when he watched the video (he’d carefully curated) “Everyone spends the whole time behind their screen, everyone spends their whole holiday trying to get the perfect shot, that shot has been done already, this is all for likes, oh look at you bragging about your pretty beach holiday”

What I saw when I watched his video: “These people are living their best lives, look how happy they are, what an awesome view, what a crazy experience, these people belong in this world, I wish I could visit this place one day”


What Oliver has failed to remember is

  • instagram promotes creativity, and it’s awesome to be creative and share that with like-minded people
  • taking photos is FUN
  • Not everyone is sharing everything from their holidays. That shot you’re seeing is the work of potentially 1 minute of their life
  • So what if they do spend their whole holiday with their face in their phone – it’s THEIR holiday and THEIR face!
  • Everyone is chasing experience to fill their one chance at life – so what if they’re having and then sharing the same experience as someone else has. It’s their experience – there are A LOT of them to have.
  • Sharing on instagram provides a little ‘experience’ to everyone who sees that picture. And it’s amazing for those who can’t (or haven’t yet) visit these places. Isn’t that the point, really?
  • If you feel it’s a ‘brag’ or you don’t like it – don’t look at it. Instagram isn’t mandatory. And if you can’t come off it, because you’re enjoying sharing your own pictures, remember why you’re using it. Your feed is there for you; curate it. Someone might just be sitting there looking at your photos thinking ‘what a bloody bragger’. They’re not for you, just like you, Oliver, are not for them.

I’m definitely an advocate of not missing an experience. But I’m also very concerned about forgetting experiences I’ve had. I have a huge fear that my memory will go and it’s a very lonely feeling. I want to be able to relive past experiences, and reminisce. The world of online albums and having a camera ‘right there’ when I need it is wonderful to me. I understand you shouldn’t have your face in your screen all the way throughout your life. If I’m filming or photographing something, I’m very careful to not view it through a viewfinder. But so what if people do – it’s their life, and if it makes them happy then ‘whatever’. And who knows, they might have experienced that thing a hundred times before, so filming whilst you’re there shouldn’t anger you – you concentrate on you. They might just be taking pictures or filming something on behalf of someone who just couldn’t get there. Their sharing this experience could bring enormous joy to someone across the globe, or even just to them in years to come.

It boils down to – why do you care so much? Concentrate on yourself, Oliver, and don’t spend so much time on Vimeo making videos about other people’s life experiences….. say what? It’s what you enjoy…..? oh! well…. my point has been made.



All images are my own, are copyrighted to me and cannot be used under any circumstance.