Monday, 16 December 2019

Super Easy Beef Casserole

I admit, I’m not a huge fan of winter. I start my countdown to summer on about October 1st. However, trying to not be a total Negative Nancy I try to focus on the things I do look forward to when the nights get darker and the temperatures drop to minus 4. 


Now that it’s (much) colder I love to cook up something warm and filling for my family. Schwartz kindly sent me one of their Beef Casserole mixes to try. 

These sachets give you a great base for cooking something really tasty, combining all of the herbs and spices together for you. Whether you want to follow the recipe completely or get creative yourself, it’s a great base to work with. Don’t like onions - don’t add them. Add bacon, some more veg, red wine? ...Who am I to judge?! 

In addition to the Beef Casserole sachet you need -

  • 2 tbs oil
  • 450g (1lb) lean beef, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 400ml (13fl oz) cold water

The recipe is simple-

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, 350°F (Gas Mark 4)

2. Heat 2tbs of oil and brown 1lb beef, an onion and 2 peeled carrots for 5 minutes

3. Drain excess liquid and transfer to a casserole dish

4. Mix the sachet contents with 400ml of cold water and stir in. Cover and cook for 2 hours until the meat is tender and mouth-watering.

 I prepared this while Mila had her afternoon nap. It was really simple, the only real effort was peeling and chopping the carrots. I followed the recipe as the packet suggests and I added some red wine. 

I left it in the oven for 2 hours I felt really smug that dinner was pretty much ready once everyone was home for the evening.

I served it with with creamy mash, baby corn and steamed broccoli, which went down a treat. I also sliced up some crusty bread to help mop up the delicious sauce in the bowl!

All plates were cleared and I even mixed together the sauce with some mash for Mila. She loved it. As Sam put his knife and fork down he said ‘we are definitely getting this again!’ And I’ve already restocked!


*Schwartz have sent me this Beef Casserole mix for review, 
but all views are my own


Friday, 15 November 2019

Cult Beauty Starter Kit 2019

Oh look it’s only a little beauty post! It’s been a while! I’ve not been playing around with a lot of new makeup to be honest. When Mason is at school and Mila naps and I get some time to wander in the shops I generally head for a coffee shop to sit down to be honest, so playing with new beauty releases has taken a back seat. 

But last week it was my birthday and I was very pleased to unwrap Cult Beauty’s latest beauty box. The Starter Kit excited me a lot as it contained a lot of products I’ve been meaning to try. This almost never happens. I unsubscribed from beauty boxes as I always ended up with some bits I knew wouldn’t get opened. 


So, inside the box is a good little mixture of skincare and makeup.

First is the  Squalane Cleanser from The Ordinary  (50ml). Surprisingly, this is the first product I’ve tried from The Ordinary even though I’ve been meaning to give the brand a go for ages. 

This removes make-up and impurities whilst retaining skin's natural moisture. Plant-derived squalane  hydrates and moisturizes and I really like how it melts into an oil as you massage it into the skin. 
It’s a really affordable £5.50 when sold separately so I think I'll be repurchasing this.


As I’m in my 30s it’s necessary to be using a retinol to replenish the skin and help reduce those lines a bit. The Pixi Retinol Tonic (100ml) was one I was most excited about and it has not disappointed. Peptides firm skin and boost collagen production and Jasmine Flower heals and balances. I find applying this really soothing and it smells nice too. 

I bloody love watermelon. I have watermelon bikini, and any drink or scent with watermelon is right up my street. So naturally I loved the sound of the Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask 30ml (which retails at £20.50). While I love watermelon I actually had no idea about the benefits that it had on the skin.

Used in Korea to soothe irritated and inflamed skin, the watermelon extract floods the complexion with restoring vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids. 
The gel-textured formula is full of a whole load of goodness and gets to work while you sleep. It gently exfoliates and moisturises so you can wake up to baby-soft, gorgeously glowing skin  that frankly, smells incredible!


Onto the make-up. First is a gorgeous cream blush from NARS  in  shade Orgasm  which is a warm pink with subtle shimmer to it. 

 ‘The Multiple’ is NARS’  original multi-purpose stick for eyes, cheeks, lips and the body -I’ll definitely be using this on my cheeks though.  It’s lovely and  creamy formula and the colour blends effortlessly for a quick flush of colour. It’s so easy to apply either with your fingers or blended with a brush and it’s enriched with Vitamin E and a├žai oil too. This is a small 4g version which is great for trying out, a full-size 14ml is £30


I love Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks, the packaging alone just feels so luxurious. However I don’t like to part with £25 without knowing I will love the shade. The lipstick in this box is very cute but really tiny! I’m pretty sure it’s going to get lost in my handbag but I’m looking at it as a way to try out the renowned shade ‘Pillow Talk' which is a perfect rose/mauve and the formula is so creamy.  According to CT one Pillow Talk lipstick is sold every 2 minutes - so it’s definitely popular.


The star of the show has to be the Huda Beauty Topaz Obsessions Palette which is usually £25 alone.

 I actually gasped when I opened this up. There’s nine highly pigmented  shades with hues of gold, brown and amber.  Containing  five mattes and four striking shimmers, it’s the perfect palette for this season. I’m actually inspired to get a bit glam on the school run so this baby doesn’t go to waste! 


Overall this is an absolute bargain at £30 when 2 of the products retail at over £20 alone. Keep a look out on the Cult Beauty site as this would make a brilliant Christmas gift to any beauty lover.


Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Time for Tea: What kind of woman?

I decided it  was time to get myself out of the house for a bit, I needed a change of scenery and a chance to think straight. I was getting bogged down with the.. 

Some opt for a walk in the woods, some go for a spa day or a yoga retreat. While time wasn't on my side me and me being much more of a city girl at heart, I decided to follow the inner basic bitch in me and head to Starbucks. There's nothing a latte and some people watching can't fix. 

I had a lot of pent-up thoughts, the temptation to rant to a someone (anyone) was strong and as this isn't a movie with a helpful stranger in the-right-place-at-the-right-time scenario, my best option was to write. My inner Carrie Bradshaw was calling out and with a laptop and a coffee in a quiet corner, I was already a cliche. I went with it...

There’s a lot of talk about how men are dicks. Sitting here in a coffee shop I can see the stereotypes come and go. The shy one, the fitness freak, the ego, the busy one - so busy he doesn't even get off his phone to order. *eye roll. It's easy to judge on appearances. 

Many a girls night has been filled with conversations around men messing us around;
The glossy magazines filled with articles about these "typically awful" guys. They focus on the most trivial thing like leaving that little milk cap on the side instead of throwing it in the bin (why do they do that?) right up to the serious suff like gas lighting and toxic behaviour.  Us girls love to pick on the guys. 

Men load the dishwasher badly, they leave socks on the floor and oh ...yes, men cheat; I feel like society focuses on that a lot. The guys in relationships taking off the wedding ring on nights out, having secret Tinder accounts. Some leading double lives. 

A man will be remembered as a cheater. A name will be brought up and the automatic ‘oh Rich, he cheats on his wife’ response follows, often in such a throw-away fashion. This isn't  to say that it's not forgiven, but it’s always remembered. Some even wear it as a badge of honour, they already know they can get away with it. 


It takes two to tango. 

At the moment I know I'm stating the obvious, "tell me something we don' know, Jenn";
Now, this might be an unpopular opinion but in these scenarios, these affairs, the flings -there is a woman involved, someone who plays the part as the other woman, the mistress. This woman (and I’m generalising here)  has it all brushed off. She's the innocent one, her name isn't tarnished. Not that I've known of anyway, and I can only write from my own perspective here. Do you ever hear "oh, Charlotte, she was seeing a guy who was married and his wife was pregnant"? Charlotte was very much in the wrong too, but it's not her that gets focussed on. 

This little ramble stems from a poll I did on Twitter recently. I asked if anyone who had ever worked in an office knew of an office affair. I wondered if anybody knew of a work colleague in a relationship-of-sorts at work but also had a partner at home. I think you know where I'm going here, the most common answer was yes. It was very common to know a guy with a 'work wife' and a Mrs at home with the kids. There were several cases of people at work who were inseparable, that just were overly friendly and there was more than meets the eye. 

I’ve worked in many offices and in every single one I knew about an affair going on. I have so many stories I could tell but there just isn’t the time. Maybe one day I'll write a book. 

...I should write a book! 

One time my (married with kids) boss sent every girl in the office a rose on Valentines day, which was very sweet but I knew it was the way he got around sending his PA a bigger bunch without anyone raising an eyebrow. My eyebrow very much raised as said PA (newly married with a baby) trained me and left her e-mails open while she 'left me to it'. A bored temp who can file papers quickly finds ways of passing the time. Those e-mails revealed a lot about what her and the boss got up to and it was much more than making the coffee and booking the meeting rooms, let me tell you! There wasn't a care in the world for the partners outside of the office, it was like they didn't exist between 9 and 5. 

At another job, a work friendship of mine ended due to her telling the (married to a model, with a kid together) boss that she’d been filling me in on details of their dates and nights in the back of his Range Rover. He swiftly made me redundant... so that was fun. No, I did not tell the wife, even though I probably should have. 

I know a very large restaurant booking platform where their company has trips away where almost everyone is up to no good behind their partner’s backs. They make out it's all for work purposes but there is very little work being done. And everyone covers for each other. Or at least they try to. I could out SO many people at this company. It has been very tempting to name and shame.

Now, in the cases I’ve mentioned it’s the men that have the family at home. It’s still wrong when it’s someone’s boyfriend but I think it’s got more to it when there’s a marriage or children involved so I’m focusing on them- the husbands. Some are recently married, their instagram filled with wedding photos and beautiful shots from their exotic honeymoon, some even have babies on the way. It appears that they have a wonderful relationship, and their wife may even think so -  but she doesn't know the full story. What would she think if she heard the phone calls that I have? Bragging about nights with strippers while she's at home with the kids?

You might be getting as angry as I me here, what utter scumbags, right? And I 100% agree, But the men are cheating with someone. Someone who thinks that’s ok. Someone who threw girl code out  the window for a bit of attention when she wasn't hitting targets. A girl who would do that to another women. A girl that has no thought for the woman at home looking after that man’s kids while he has dinners and drinks away at bars, theme parks or race courses. In some cases to pregnant women, which is the lowest of the low.

What kind of girl thinks that’s ok?!

I can’t help but feel that these girls get off scot-free. The men (when they are found out) are outed as cheating scum while the girl moves on to her next victim- never to actually settle of course. Maybe it’s the type of girl that doesn’t suit relationships, she has commitment problems or daddy issues. The need to feel significant for a few hours far out ways any pride or dignity. We've spent decades calling out the men in these scenarios, so I'm bringing a little bit of balance. 

Maybe not knowing the wife makes it easier, out of sight, out of mind. you don't see all of a persons life when they're at work so you can't see their life as a family man - just the fun guy at work who has a laugh with everyone and helps when you get 'white girl wasted'.
 I’d like to think if it was a friend of theirs they would act differently, but who knows? It would be interesting to get inside their mind and really understand. Maybe I'll track some people down and do a Q&A...?
If the wife gets in touch all they need to do is block their social accounts and move on. There’s no real repercussions, nothing to lose. Very cowardly. 

If a friend of mine sat me down, poured me drink, ready to fill me in with her latest gossip and said "guess what, I’ve been seeing this guy! He’s married, his wife is pregnant but that doesn’t matter...’ I’d be calling her some names that rhyme with ‘hut’ and ‘ducking tanky itch". There's no grey area, it's wrong. 

I find myself looking around me, so many with their head buried in a phone or laptop (myself included) but which of these people is messaging someone they shouldn't be..? 

 It’s just not ok to be ‘that girl’. Even emotional cheating, not quite getting (pardon the phrase) ‘in there’ but implying it;  morning texts, attention seeking selfies, replying heart eyes or flames to insta stories when you know they're on holiday with their family, it’s still not right. Fuelling each others ego at the expense of someone else. 

"You get me all to yourself today ;) ..."

Anything behind the wive’s back is not ok. If you feel it needs to be kept secret, it's a problem. It’s not a case of “I’m not married, he’s the one who’s in the wrong- not me!’ No, you both are! You lumped yourself right into the category of wrong when this started. Yes, he should address any problems in his relationship with his wife but any woman with any form of moral compass would not move forward til he did so. And the other woman who cover for the guys doing this - you're just as bad! We're supposed to look out for each other. 
I'm all for calling out guys when they're in the wrong, but let's stop giving them the option. 

I could talk about this subject for hours, but I just wanted to vent so I'm keeping it brief. 

In this age of feminism and having the ‘girls support girls’ anthem rammed down our throats on every slogan tee on the market we should be better. You should be better. So fucking stop it.

Now I might need a stronger drink.


Friday, 13 September 2019

Zippos Circus

After the hype of The Greatest Showman last year, M started to show an interest in the circus. The idea of showing everything weird and wonderful is fascinating in a child’s eyes. You can’t deny there’s a real mystical feel that is unlike any other performance. 


I remember going to the circus in my early 20's with a group of friends. It was a great night out and something a little bit different than our usual trips to the pub.

 When I was offered the chance to go visit this year I knew it would be a lot of fun to watch the show as a family. M has been so good since his little sister’s arrival, he's been the perfect big brother and a great help to me, not just since she was born but throughout my pregnancy too. He deserves a treat with us and a little time with just Mum and Dad and this looks perfect.

 Zippos Circus is back on the road for with a nationwide Big Top 2019 tour – The
 Magnificent Top Hat. They’re celebrating 21 years since Ringmaster Norman
 Barrett MBE first appeared at Zippos Circus. Norman holds the Guinness World Record for the longest-serving Ringmaster and he’ll be presenting acts from all over the world. From astonishing acrobats and aerialists, amazing contortionists, clever comics and daredevil motorcyclists -they have it all! 


With such a variety of acts there’s bound to be something for everyone. I’m really looking forward to seeing  3 foot 6 showman Paulo Dos Santos who is meant to be fantastically funny. And watching daring acts like knife throwers up close is going to be nail biting! 

They are currently in Twickenham until the 17th September, then on to Peckham Rye from 24th-29th September. They are coming to a couple of locations near me but the easiest for us to get to is Bannisters Field in Guildford at the beginning of October and they head on to Rochester, Finsbury Park and Hampstead Heath afterwards. 


Tickets for the two hour show (with interval) start from just £9 for adults (15 years and over) and £7.50 for children. Kids under 2 go free if they don’t occupy a seat.

If you want to head down to see the show I have a discount code that will give you 30% off. Just use ZIP30 when you order. You can find the tour dates and locations  here:

I’ll be sharing our experience over on Instagram so keep an eye out at the beginning of next month and check out the #zipposcircus hashtag on instagram in the meantime! 

*I've been offered complimentary tickets to attend this event but all thoughts and views are my own


Monday, 2 September 2019

Our Day at the Beach

I try not to get too bogged down with the competitive side of the Summer break. I say 'try' because naturally I'm always doubting myself when it comes to the kids. The whole ‘you only have ‘X’ more summers with them’ comes with a lot of pressure to make sure you're out and about, making sure you all 'enjoy every moment'.  Personally, I don’t think that the child who goes on the most day trips has the best Summer. Never mind the cost of all those days out, it’s good to have some rest days not only for them but for us parents too! Days just hanging out with family, a quick trip to the park on the way back from the food shop or even just a movie (that they almost never sit through!) day -It’s all fun for them. You don’t need to keep up with what you think the Wonder Mums are doing, they probably have secret boring days too and if they don’t I bet they’re bloody shattered! 


During this summer break we've made sure we've mixed in some rest days along with some days out. On one of the more active days we  headed  down to Portsmouth to Kidz Island South Pier.

I spent all of my childhood summers at the beach so I've got a real love for the British seaside. It has that old nostalgia and the smell in the air just makes me smile as it takes me back to being young and carefree.


We live about an hour away from Portsmouth so it's easy for us to drive down for the day when the mood takes us. So one rather sunny day we managed to tear M from his Nintendo Switch for long enough to head down for a day at the beach.

 As you walk along the beach you see the traditional Helter Skelter ride on the end of the pier which gives it that authentic feel. Right away I heard the  familiar sound of beeps and songs from the arcade machines and the children's excitement. 


We went straight to the ticket booth to get our £7.50 wristband which gave us access to all rides and could go on as many times as we wanted. If you are planning on spending the day here the wristband is your best option but you can choose to pay £2 per ride if you just want a couple of goes. 

There's a good selection of rides which suit under tens. Being 5 months old meant that our little one was a little too small for the rides but she enjoyed all the bright colours around her. The mini planes was a favourite of our son's. Each plane had a different theme and his wristband meant he wasn't disappointed when the Pokemon plane was taken, it meant he could go on that one on his next go and opted for a different plane for his first go. We are all familiar with a child's mini breakdown when they don't get what they want so this was a massive plus in my eyes!


He loved the chair swings and the caterpillar roller coaster with the great view out to sea. It looked really lovely on such a clear day. I really enjoyed going on this with him, it was so nice to see him enjoy the things I loved as a kid. It really felt like we had some proper family time.


We all took it in turns to have a go on the Dogems. I'd forgotten how much fun they are and they really brought out the kids in Sam and I. I think a date to a fair is on the cards soon!

We couldn't walk past without having a go at 'hook a duck' - a prize every time just makes it worth it. Even the baby got a go! 


No trip to the seaside is complete without Fish and Chips so we treated ourselves in the restaurant and took the weight off our feet for a bit. We had an ice cream and a play in the arcade before we headed home. 

We visited on a sunny Friday afternoon and we walked straight on to every ride. On one occasion we got to go around again on the roller coaster which M loved. 

There is a selection of food stalls on the pier selling both hot and cold food and drink so there's something to keep your energy levels up. We had a paddle in the sea, ate ice cream, managed to keep the seagulls from stealing our chips and I got slightly pink shoulders, All in all a fabulous day at the beach which meant a couple of lazy days were well deserved! 

*We were kindly gifted wristbands for this trip but under no obligation to write review


Monday, 22 July 2019

Summer Holiday Favourites

I've just returned from a lovely holiday away in Alicante wit the family, time went far too quickly and I'm already looking at booking another getaway. These holiday favourites are a regular occurrence on here but I find them useful when packing for a trip. Not only is it a way to find new things I might try but it’s also a helpful checklist. I’ve even looked back at my own list to remind myself of what I usually take away with me. There are some repeat products that are must-haves for me but I’ve got some new additions too. 


As it’s battling the elements much more than if would be at home I make sure I'm taking care of my skin so I’ll start with my skincare products.

A no brainer is the SPF. I miss when suncream used to have a lovely coconut scent to it but maybe that stuff just wasn’t doing the job. I apply factor 50 and drop down to 30 if it feels like my skin can take it. The Garnier dry mist sprays are perfect for a quick application and are great for Mason too. I love that they're not sticky and cover quickly and easily. 

For my face I usually use La Roche-Posay Anthelios Anti-shine tinted sun cream gel SPF50  (£17 for 50ml). It doesn’t feel too heavy but gives me just enough coverage in the warmer evenings to feel comfortable but I know my skin is still protected. SPF which is specially for the face is a must to avoid clogging pores or making you look shiny. Another option is the 

Anthelios Shaka Fluid tinted spf 50 (£17) is water, sweat and sand resistant so it's perfect for wearing at the pool or beach. The easy-to-apply, ultra light fluid is non-greasy with a lightly-tinted finish for a unified look. The improved texture does not irritate or sting your eyes. This one is much more lightweight but still gives you a little glow.


I keep a hat on to keep my face in the shade as much as possible but I know those UV rays creep in all over the place so you need to protect that fragile skin!

I use aloe vera gel on my body every evening, it's the only type of after sun that doesn't seem to attract bites. I've had gorgeous ones before that smell incredible but I just get eaten alive. I'm still using this on my body now and it dries almost instantly. I apply the L’Oreal Hydra Genius Aloe Water to my face which is lovely and light. Great for after being in the sun but also as my morning moisturiser too. The usual price is £ 9.99 for 70ml but I pick it up when it's on offer £6.66 which is a total bargain if you ask me. I wrote a full view on the L'Oreal Hyrda Genius Aloe Water if you want a little more detail.

I don’t use wipes at home but on holiday it’s just easier than having bottles and cotton pads. I also don't have a lot of makeup to remove so my in shower cleanser tends to do most of the job for me. This year I tried out the L’Oreal Fine Flowers cleansing wipes, they were on offer for £1.99 instead of £3.99 and I’ve used some cleansers from the fine flowers range so I thought why not. They remove waterproof mascara well and take off the base layer of makeup before I properly cleanse. The 
extracts of rose and jasmine feel really soothing, I’m a big fan of rose oil as an ingredient which brings me onto the Neal’s Yard Rose  Facial Wash which is £17 for a 100ml full size bottle but I have a miniature bottle for travelling. It’s lovely to use in the morning and evening and is one of my favourite products. In fact Neal's Yard's  whole rose range is lovely.

The Origins  Drink Up intensive Over night mask is one of my favourite face masks. It has a gorgeous scent and applying it a couple of nights a week before bed gives me that extra bit of hydration my skin needs after being in the heat all day.

I repurchase the La Roche-Posay Serozinc Face Toner Mist 150ml £10 when ever it’s on offer. I’ve used it loads at home during the heatwave. It tightens pores and magnifies the skin. I absolutely love applying it, it just feels so fresh and soothing on the skin. I use it after cleansing in the morning and evening. It's great before applying make up or just when I want to freshen up. I love love love this stuff!

We did a fair bit of walking about and a good deodorant is a must when you're in a country with temperatures reaching 34 degrees. The Dove Maximum Protection Deodorant (£4.99) is my favourite and lasts all day. My top tip is to apply to your cleavage too cos sweaty boobs is one of the worst things about summer!

When it comes to make up I took my L’Oreal Unbelievabrow longwear brow gel as it was waterproof but I didn't actually use it as I had my hair highlighted before I left and this just made my brows look so dark it just didn't look right with my lighter hair. 

The Lancome Hypnose Mascara (£25.50)  is one of my favourites as waterproof mascaras go. I find a lot can make lashes look grumpy or spidery but this works just as well as any regular mascara. I meant I could splash a but with my kids in the pool which is what family holidays are all about! 

I always pack a couple of bottles of nail polish when ever I go away, I change the shade when I'm there when they inevitably get chipped from being in the pool or sea. I tend to go for a something bright, usually a coral or pink. I take Nail Polish Remover Pads so I don't  have to travel with a bottle of nail polish remover. Knowing my luck that will be the thing that spills all over everything (why do bad things happen to good people?!).

With legs on show 90% of the time I make sure I use my Venus Snap razor (£9.99 but almost always on offer for a fiver). It’s compact and has a case to keep it safe which is perfect for travelling. I think I've used one of these on every holiday since it was released. 

I don’t do anything too fancy when it comes to my hair on holiday, during the day it’s either tied up with a pop band (great for minimal kinks) or under a hat while I let my natural beauty waves do their thing. 

I wash as normal in the evening with what ever shampoo we’ve picked up to take with us, as long as it cleans and gets rid of chlorine, suncream, sand etc I’m happy. I use Macadamia Oil on the ends and apply Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist deep conditioner a couple of times to help with the daily exposure to so much heat. 

I wash my hair before going out for dinner and I pop my Sleep Rollers in after a shower and let my hair dry relatively naturally. My sister in law came to the rescue with her hair drier a couple of times as I wasn't giving myself enough time to get ready and my hair just wasn't drying quick enough on it's own (or with the air con on crazy high because of my annoying finance and his obsession with it!).

This year I had to think about all the bits and pieces I needed for Mila too. Packing for a 4 month old was very new to me but I think we did ok. I'll be posting about how her first holiday went very soon. 

*for clarity everything in this post was purchased myself. However I was originally sent the Macadamia Oil but have since repurchased it several times