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Saturday, 29 April 2017

Fabulous At Fifty - 10 Expert Tips Inspired By Cindy Crawford & Halle Berry

As I approach my 53rd birthday at the end of May, I know that the 50s can be a worrying time for many women. With the slowing in metabolism, the fading elixir of youth and declining energy levels, achieving a glowing body can seem like the pure impossible.

Woman in a grey sweater sitting crosslegged on a seafront with her arms stretched skyward

However with inspiration from those such as Halle Berry (50), Elizabeth Hurley (52) and Cindy Crawford (51), here are 10 expert tips that will help rejuvenate your mid-life glow, with health hacks followed by the celebs themselves.  Certainly worth a try!

1. Strengthen your core with Pilates

Cindy Crawford’s Top Trick:

Celebrities such as Courtney Cox and Cindy Crawford are both big fans of Pilates for retaining their core muscle strength and in turn their fabulous figures.

Why you should try it:

As we get older we can find our energy levels tend to drop but this doesn’t mean we should stop exercising. Instead of doing as much exercise as you can it is better to do the right exercise for your body. Pilates gives you the ability to build lean muscle tissue throughout the body, thus enabling us to burn calories even when we’ve finished our exercise session. Perfect for those who want to exercise effectively without running out of stamina.

I have tried pilates and it's wonderfully gentle in comparison with other more high energy forms of exercise such as Zumba.  Ideally you need a combination of different kinds of exercise but if you haven't exercised for a long time and particularly if you have back problems, pilates is a great place to start.

2. Pick Me Up Protein Shakes

Halle Berry’s Top Trick:

To keep her energised and looking radiant on set all day, Halle Berry always starts her day with a protein shake. She includes plenty of vegetables such as spinach, which is rich in iron, to make sure she keeps her energy levels are supported throughout the day.

Something to try:

Make like Halle with Nature’s Plus Pea Protein Powder [RRP £22.50,], particularly perfect for those looking to increase their protein while following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

3. Drink plenty of water

A common sign of ageing is often a dullness in our skin, however retaining a healthy glow may be a lot easier than you think. Nutritionist Shona Wilkinson from Superfood UK, the online shopping destination for al thing health and wellbeing (, says, “I know that we hear it over and over again but staying hydrated is one of the best steps you can take towards a glowing complexion. Our skin not only contains plenty of water, but it also functions as a protective barrier against excess moisture loss. Support your hydration efforts even further by using a moisturiser as a physical barrier to lock all that moisture in.”

Something to try:

If you find yourself struggling to drink the recommended 2 litres a day, why not jazz things up a bit and add some fresh lemon, cucumber or mint to tempt you into drinking more.

4. Indulge in a Rainbow of Fruit and Vegetables

Christine Brinkley’s Top Trick:

Christie Brinkley, 63, has revealed that one of the golden rules of her diet is to eat a range of different coloured fruit and vegetables throughout the day.

Shona explains why we should be eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables ourselves, ‘'You need to consume a wide variety of foods daily in order to provide yourself with all of the vitamins, minerals & phytonutrients necessary for optimum functioning. Aim to consume a rainbow of variety of fruit and vegetables per day, ideally between 8-12 servings. Include some raw foods in these servings daily as they are full of enzyme activity!'

Something to try:

An easy tip to get you grazing on more veg, is it to prepare a selection of different crudités, such as celery, carrots, apple and cucumber the night before. Pop it on your desk at the beginning of the day and then when you find yourself getting hungry simply reach for a one of those instead of the dreaded biscuit tin!

5. Natural Alternatives to sugar

Davina McCall’s Top Trick:

Halle Berry and Davina McCall have both spoken about how they have gone sugar free in order to improve their diets as they hit their fifties. They both make sure the only sugars in their diet are natural ones.

Why you should try it:

Sugar can play a huge part in the premature ageing process, affecting your teeth, skin, weight and can even be linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s. If you’re trying to stave off the effects of ageing it is worth either reducing or cutting sugar out of your diet. Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Women’s Natural Health Expert ( and author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar, explains how we can replace sugar with naturally sweet alternatives “There are many good natural sweeteners on the market that you can use instead of refined sugar. You can also add sweetness to foods in other ways. For example, you could add carrots, raisins, dates, figs or bananas as natural sweeteners. Many people now make wonderful cakes from naturally sweet vegetables such as beetroot and carrot.”

6. Eating early in the day

Liz Hurley’s Top Trick:

Sometimes it’s not just about what you eat but also when you eat. Liz Hurley swears by eating the majority of her calorie intake early in the day and only eating lightly in the evening.

Something to try:

If you do find yourself craving something sweet in the evening try curbing those cravings with Slissie (£39.99, Slissie is a lipstick-sized slimming aid that helps to deliver appetite-suppressing flavours to the olfactory receptors which convey messages to the appetite control centre of the brain, leaving you feeling as if you’ve eaten without any calories passing over your lips.

7. Go Sober

Sadie Frost’s Top Trick:

Celebrities such as Halle Berry, Davina McCall and Sadie Frost have all cut alcohol out of their diets, and for good reason.

Shona explains that as well as helping to protect our liver and optimise nutrient absorption cutting out alcohol can also help us avoid excess weight gain, especially around the middle – “Alcohol prevents the release of glucose from the liver and can cause hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels). This drop in blood sugar often produces a craving for foods, especially foods that raise blood sugar such as more alcohol or sugar – not good for anyone, especially those concerned about weight gain, especially fat around the middle!”

Something to try:

If you’re going out for a special occasion or celebration, and know you’ll be drinking, Shona recommends going for a low calorie tipple. Opt for single shots of spirits such as gin, whisky or vodka with a sugar-free mixer.

8. Barefoot Running

Elle MacPherson’s Top Trick:

To maintain her toned physique, and her everlasting legs, Elle MacPherson swears by barefoot running on the beach. Although not all of us may have the opportunity to hit the beach everyday as part of our exercise routine, it can easily be done in the garden.

Something to try:

If you do follow in the barefoot footsteps of Elle MacPherson’s Podiatrist David Wain, from Carnation Footcare ( advises, “Stretch your Achilles and calf muscle every day, e.g. hanging your heels over the edge of a step, raise up quickly onto the balls of the foot then lower the heel slowly until it is at a level slightly below the step, repeat with the other foot. Additionally keep massaging the skin on the underside of your feet using a simulating rolling device, such as Carnation PediRoller (£9.99, to reduce the potential for painful soles”

9. Hit the gym with your husband

Nancy’s Top Trick:

Nancy Shevall, aka Mrs Paul McCartney, has shared her number one fitness tip; she always hits the gym with her husband. So if you’re looking for a new workout buddy, to motivate you, why not make like Nancy and bring your guy along to the gym with you for that extra push?

10. Naturally Detox with Lemons

Liz Hurley’s Top Trick:

Liz Hurley is known for her love of lemon infused hot water for staying in shape, and she maybe on to something. Shona explains, “Lemons are great to add to a glass of water and are often recommended for helping digestion. This is due to lemons helping the liver produce bile which helps keep food moving through the digestive tract. Lemon water stimulates the liver which is responsible for flushing out toxins”.

Something to try:

Try replacing your normal cup of tea with a cup of lemon and hot water for a natural daily detox.

Friday, 28 April 2017

New Releases, Free & Bargain Books Link-up Week 18 2017

New Releases Free & Bargain Books Link-up Badge

How are you all this week?  It's a bank holiday weekend and we're crossing our fingers that we don't get the usual British bank holiday weather. We'll be going out and about exploring some of the fabulous places near to us here in South Wales.

Still, if it tips down, at least you can stay inside with a good book.  Look out for my upcoming review of  In Doubt by the incomparable John W. Mefford. This is an Ivy Nash thriller, a new detective for me and in this one, Ivy must protect a little girl from a wealthy egomaniac hell-bent on revenge. I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts.

As usual, there are some great books on the linky - and don't forget you can always add your own to spread a bit of the book love.

Don't forget that I still have plenty to be won on my competitions page and don't forget my problem page here.

Happy bargain and freebie book hunting on this link.

Have a great week!

Sharing the Love of Books
Enjoy our selection of New Releases / Free & Bargain Books this week

Authors please feel free to add your own books
Readers please free to add your own finds
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs...
 Life as Leels | IrishdaisylovesRomance | Book Babble | All Romance Reader
It's My Side of Life | Celticlady's Reviews | First Time Mommy Adventures 
Beck Valley BooksCinnamon Hollow Reviews
Miki's Hope | Nicki's Nook
Ebook Addicts | I Love Romance | Colorimetry | The Ultimate Fan Blog Mother Distracted
Totally Addicted to Reading | 3 Partners in Shopping | Angie's Angle I Create Purty Thangs | Wishful Endings
Lynchburg Mama | LibriAmoriMieiAli - The Dragon Slayer | Wondermom WannabeDeal Sharing Aunt | Rambling Reviews 

For Pre-orders post - PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author
For New Releases post - NEW / genre / title / author
For Free Books post - FREE / genre / title / author / end date 
For Bargain Books post - SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date
(Strictly no Erotica please.  Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, incase any underage child is viewing it!)

Click here for this weeks awesome selection!

*this post contains an affiliate link

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Problem Page Edition 17 2017

This week - when your crushes all friendzone you, whether two nights in a row is desperate and how much advice is wise before it causes trouble between a warring couple?

Man in grey jumper and woman wrapped in grey blanket on a beach

If you would like any advice, feel free to treat me as your agony aunt. Just message me or pop a comment in the comment box at the end of this post. I promise to be gentle.

Here are this week's questions.

Q: My guy friend always pressures me to be more social or smile more, is this too controlling or does he just really care for my social well being?

A:I’m not clear whether you mean a boyfriend or just a friend who’s a guy. And I’m curious why this man feels you have to smile more. 

Are you shy and introverted? Are you unhappy? Shyness can make us come across as miserable in social situations when actually all we are is anxious. And that’s very, very normal you know. 

I have to say it does sound a little controlling, depending on HOW he is pressuring you. 

There’s a saying in the UK “cheer up love, it’ll never happen” where blokes who consider themselves to be witty incite women who won’t return their attention to smile and acknowledge them. Do you think there’s a little of that going on here? 

Do you look as if you really don’t enjoy this man’s company? That won’t reflect well on him you know. And if you really don’t enjoy his company, why are you hanging around with him?

I get the feeling this ‘friendship’ has run its course and you either need to tell him to shut up and that you’ll behave as you see fit thanks, or find people to hang out with who are kinder, more supportive and accept you as you are. 

I also suspect this man may want more than friendship and gets narky when you don’t seem to be having a whale of a time with him. 

Time to stand up for yourself and be honest.

Q: I had a great time and spent the night with a girl I just met. Is it too desperate to ask her out for a second consecutive night?

A: It depends what type of relationship she thinks you’re having. 

If it’s just no ties sex then there’s no problem but if she is looking for a longer term relationship, I think she might think you’re treating her as a booty call. 

Equally, if that’s all you’re looking for you need to be up front about that as well. 

In general though, I think too much too soon can be the kiss of death for manhy relationships. Why not take the time to get to know each other properly and enjoy the dating stage?

Q: I'm a normal girl. I get friendzoned every time by every guy I have a crush on? What should I do?

A:I think you need to relax and take a step back. 

It may be that you are coming across as too keen and scaring the guys off. Are you picking guys who are unavailable because, at heart, you don’t really want a relationship? 

You don’t HAVE to be in a relationship you know. If you are living life your own way, being happy and enjoying your own company you will be far more attractive to guys than if you come across as desperate for a boyfriend. 

Are these guys already attached? This may make them seem ‘safe’ because there’s less of a chance they’ll hook up with you. 

Crushes are pretty immature things - it’s what youngsters tend to feel when they are testing their feelings and finding their way in the relationship jungle. Why not give yourself a little more time and think about the type of guy who is right for you. 

Whilst you’re doing that build your confidence, go out and enjoy yourself and you’ll probably find you’ll find a guy who is right for you.

Q: Why would a female friend ask you if she should break up with her boyfriend because she is having problems with him? 

I'm one of her better platonic guy friends and she often confides in me with her problems with her boyfriend. She says that he is a very jealous boyfriend. However, she is also a jealous girlfriend with him. But me and her our friends and she straight up asked me what I think she should do.

A: If she has a number of platonic guy friends it’s not totally surprising her current boyfriend isn’t too happy about that, is it? 

It sounds to me like she enjoys male attention and is probably quite happy with her current boyfriend.  
If I were you I would avoid wading in with advice and just be quietly supportive. 

Tell her that if he doesn’t make her happy, then she doesn’t need to stay with him. But it’s not your place to make that decision for her and that’s really what you should be telling her. 

Don’t you have a relationship of your own to concentrate on?

Q: A girl I know asked me, "Are you proud of me," because she quit smoking. Why? 

I’ve been friends with her for awhile now, We kind of dated when we first met, we talk to each other about very personal things. I know she’s been trying to quit smoking, about a month ago she finally did. We stopped talking as much recently, she asked me the other day, It just seemed weird to me.

A: Why would it seem weird? You surely know how difficult it is to give up smoking. 

All she is doing is looking for some sort of recognition from you and a simple ‘well done’. 

It may be that she is looking for more of a relationship than you are prepared to let happen, in which case, you need to set her straight, rather than let her build up her hopes by trying to impress you.

How would you have responded to these questions? I'd love to know. You can find more advice on my problem page 

Disclaimer: All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom. 


How To Find Honest Reports On Care Homes In England

We all know how important it is for the quality of health and social care to be monitored at all times.

So today we’re going to look at what the Care Quality Commission (CQC) does in England, and how they’re an essential source of information for anyone deciding which care homes to approach. Note: in Wales the relevant body is the Care and Social Services Inspectorate.

In an earlier post, we looked at ‘How To Talk To Ageing Parents About Retirement Living & Care’, so here we’re going to look a little further in-depth regarding how to source information.

A good point here before we get started, is that it’s ideal if you can do this type of research together with the person who is considering moving. Although this may not always be possible, if it is, it’s a good way to help develop further trust with your family member.

Seated old man's hands on a walking stick
Image Credit

Helping you decide

The Care Quality Commission provide us with an independent service, that has easily accessible information on health and social care groups across England.

They provide an essential transparency when it comes to the standard of care being provided, and most importantly: their findings are always published.

From here you can view and download the entirety of their inspector’s report, and or just review how the service has rated across five main categories which are:

Service leadership

These categories are then rated on four levels - "outstanding", "good", "requires improvement" and inadequate. There is also a fifth ‘no rating/under appeal/rating suspended’ level, if the inspection is under review.

Magnifying glass on multicoloured card
Image credit

Informative and honest

The regulator covers a wide range of care homes, from those that have been running for many years, to those who are more recently established, like Porthaven, who have been providing care since 2010.

In cases like this, the care home group work together with the Care Quality Commission, even providing details on the accountable people from the inspections, so it’s easy to reference names and possible contacts.

In touch with NHS practices

Another important part of what the CQC does is link their inspections with current trends in NHS trusts.

Their 2016 report on these services, called: Learning, candour, and accountability, provides an excellent insight into how thorough their approach is when it comes to relaying objective, and unbiased reports.

Two elderly men shaking hands
Image credit

Face to face advice

If you’re considering any type of health care, there can often be many questions that you’d rather just ask in person. However, many of us are familiar with how this can be easier said than done.

The CQC understands this well, and provides an extensive list of local groups that you can get in touch with, as well as the further option to join their online community, depending on which ways you find it most convenient to communicate.

So the good news is that it’s now easy to source a range of information on a care home, from the service themselves, as well as the people who inspect their work.

This can help to create peace of mind when it comes to making important decisions with your loved ones, and getting the most balanced point of view.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Getting Divorced - Is Your Partner Spying On You?

If you're getting divorced, you are doubtless stressed and upset.  You have a divorce lawyer who is your confidante, your sounding board and your ally. You can tell them anything, certainly things you wouldn't tell your husband or wife, and together you are forging an escape plan - whether your situation is amicable or no longer friendly.

Sad woman in an office sitting in the shadow cast by venetian blinds

Your correspondence with them is confidential - or so you think.

Let's be honest, the last thing you want is for your soon to be ex to discover your plans.  You are under enough stress without the additional worry of your partner getting hold of confidential information which could jeopardise the outcome of your case.

But Nicola McInnes, head of family law at Gorvins Solicitors has issued a stark warning about the rise of what she terms 'spousal hackers'.

You may have read this week about Anthea Turner's confessions that she turned detective to prove that her husband Grant Bovey had rekindled his affair with a much younger woman.

Bovey was unaware, she writes, that his seemingly technophobic wife had in fact garnered enough IT knowledge to track him via PC, SatNav and this bicycle computer.

Says McInnes "people planning to get divorced should change their email addresses as soon as they have separated in order to prevent spouses hacking into their account and finding information which can be used against them".

She is finding an increasing number of clients are complaining that their divorcing partner has broken into their email accounts and social media sites such as Facebook.

Be too chatty on Facebook and you may find you've given any advantage you might have had away. Make sure you change all your social media passwords as soon as possible.

Hard though it is, now may be the time to unlike your spouse's Facebook page and to stop following their other accounts. Once the dust has settled you can always re-establish contact but for now you don't want your private thoughts and emotions broadcast to all and sundry.

Says Nicola “We`ve found that hacking spouses are particularly keen to find any emails we may have sent which contain advice as to our client’s entitlement or because they believe their divorcing spouse is hiding income or assets. I had one case when we felt the husband was always a step ahead and my client was convinced that he had read emails we had exchanged"

“Facebook profiles are also targeted because they may contain information that can be referred to in court papers. Some clients have told me that their exes have even threatened to disclose the private photographs they`ve found on social media accounts as a way of getting what they want.”

Studies suggest that 20% of all couples in the UK argue regularly or consider separating which seems like a conservative estimate to me.  Interestingly, the last figures released by the Office for National Statistics in December 2016 showed that divorce had fallen to the lowest level for 40 years in 2014. That said, there were still 111,169 couples in England and Wales who divorced in that year.

And hacking someone else's email account is a criminal act, even if it is done as a prank. Falling foul of the 1990 Computer Misuse Act by doing this can lead to criminal charges and a possible 2 year prison sentence.

It's not surprising that, at such a difficult time, people resent having to change their passwords and email accounts but not doing this could put them in a vulnerable position.

So if you are in the process of getting divorced, it's time to change all your passwords and be very careful about what you confide on social media.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Love French Cheese & Honey? 4 Fab Recipes To Try!

Today I have 4 fabulous recipes for you featuring yummy Le Rustique Brie de Caractère and Le Rustique Camembert (famously wrapped in its red and white Gingham cloth), all created by food blogger Lavender & Lovage.

Cheese and honey is a unique food pairing, so it is essential to create just the right balance between the two in order to avoid overwhelming our palates.

These recipes demonstrate the versitility of Le Rustique's Camembert and Brie and would be ideal for sharing and taking on picnics.

The recipes are:-

· Le Rustique Camembert and Apple Scones with Honey Butter
· Le Rustique Camembert and Hazelnut Parcels with Quick Fruit and Honey Chutney
· Le Rustique Camembert “Scotch Eggs” Two Ways with Honey and Mustard Dip
· Le Rustique Brie de Caractère Tartlets with Honey Onion Relish

and you can find all of them below.

Le Rustique Camembert and Apple Scones with Honey Butter

These scones are on the table in less than half an hour and are perfect when served with honey butter. Why not also serve as part of an afternoon tea or as an accompaniment to soups, stews or casseroles, or even as part of a “Ploughman’s Lunch”. 

Le Rustique Camembert & Apple Scones with Honey Butter

Makes: 10-12 medium scones / 18-20 mini scones
Prep time: 25 mins
Cooking time: 10-12 mins


Honey butter:

5 tbsp runny honey (flower or lavender honey)
150g unsalted butter


450g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
100g butter, cut into small pieces
100g Le Rustique Camembert, diced
1 small eating apple, peeled, cored and very finely diced or grated
300ml milk mixed with 1 large beaten egg
Poppy seeds


1. To make the honey butter: beat the honey and the butter with a hand-held electric whisk until light and fluffy. Set to one side until needed.

2. Pre-heat oven to 220C/450F/Gas mark 7 and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and then rub in the butter until it resembles bread crumbs.

4. Stir in the Le Rustique Camembert and apple and add just enough of the milk and egg mixture to make a soft dough, it should not be too sticky. Reserve the remaining milk and egg mixture for the glaze.

5. Gather into a ball and place in a floured work surface; roll out gently to a thickness of about 2cm and stamp out the scones with a 5cm scone cutter. Gather together all the offcuts and continue to stamp out scones until all the dough is used up.

6. Place the scones onto the prepared baking sheet and brush them with the egg and milk mixture before scattering some poppy seeds over the top.

7. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are well risen and golden brown.

8. Cool for a few minutes on a wire rack before serving warm with the honey butter.

Le Rustique Camembert and Hazelnut Parcels with Quick Fruit and Honey Chutney

You can use ready-made puff pastry for these delicious Le Rustique Camembert and Hazelnut Parcels which are perfect for an easy mid-week family supper, or for a lazy Saturday lunch. Shallots and hazelnuts are gently fried in a little olive oil for a tasty twist to compliment the Camembert; the fruit and honey chutney is the final “pièce de résistance” for these flaky cheese pies, which cuts through the richness of the filling.

Camembert & Hazelnut Parcels with Quick Fruit Chutney

Makes: 4 parcels for a main meal / 8 to 10 mini parcels
Prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 12-15 mins


Fruit and Honey Chutney:

500g apples and pears, cored and finely diced (no need to peel)
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
50g sultanas
½ tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp salt
120ml runny honey (Acacia honey)
150ml cider apple vinegar


1 tbsp olive oil
40g hazelnuts, crushed
2 to 3 shallots, or half a red onion, peeled and finely diced
500g block ready-made puff pastry
1 x 250g Le Rustique Camembert, cut into 4 pieces
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 egg, beaten

1. To make the chutney: place all the ingredients into a large saucepan and simmer over a medium to low heat for about 30 to 45 minutes, until the fruit is cooked and there is no liquid left – stirring all the time. Set to one side to cool and thicken once cooked.

2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the crushed hazelnuts and the shallots/onion; fry them over a medium heat until the shallots/onion are soft and the nuts are toasted. Set to one side.

3. Pre-heat oven to 220C/450F/Gas mark 7 and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

4. Cut the pastry block into 4 and place them on a floured work surface, roll each piece out into a square, about 15cm x 15cm. Divide the hazelnut and shallots/onion mixture between the 4 pastry squares.

5. Cut Le Rustique Camembert into thick slices and place on top of the mixture and then bring the corners up to the middle of the parcel, securing the pastry in the middle with the fresh rosemary sprigs. Place the parcels on the prepared baking sheet.

6. Brush the beaten egg over the tops of the parcels and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the pastry has risen and the parcels are golden brown.

7. Serve immediately with the fruit and honey chutney, and salad for a light luncheon or supper dish.

Le Rustique Camembert “Scotch Eggs” Two Ways with Honey and Mustard Dip

These delicious “Scotch Eggs” hide a cheesy secret inside! Two delicious flavours, herby pork sausage meat and black pudding, each wrapped around a cube of Le Rustique Camembert which after being deep-fried ooze seductively. Dunk these into a tangy, sweet honey and mustard dip for a truly cheesy treat.

Le Rustique Camembert Scotch Eggs Two Ways with Honey and Mustard Dip

Makes: 12
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins


“Scotch Eggs”:

x6 (400g) high meat content herb pork sausages, skinned
x6 (400g) black puddings, skinned
250g box Le Rustique Camembert, cut into 12 cubes
2 eggs, beaten
50g to 75g fine bread crumbs

To Fry:

Vegetable oil for frying


125ml runny honey (Flower honey)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp olive oil

1. Take each sausage or black pudding and flatten them out into a large thin round; place Le Rustique Camembert cube into the middle and bring the sides up to completely cover the cheese, making sure there are no gaps or holes in the sausage or black pudding. Gently shape them into an egg shape in the palm of your hand.

2. Dip the “Scotch Egg” into the beaten egg and then cover it with the bread crumbs; set to one side on a plate whilst you make the rest.

3. Fill a wok or a deep-frying pan to about 10cms in depth with vegetable oil and then heat it until smoking hot; add 3 to 4 “Scotch Eggs”, do not overcrowd the pan, and cook over a medium heat for about 4 minutes, turning them over half way through cooking. If they start to brown too quickly, turn the heat down slightly.

4. Once they are cooked, drain them and keep them warm whilst you cook the remaining ones.

5. To make the dip: whisk the honey, mustard and olive oil together to form an emulsified dip.

6. Serve immediately with the honey and mustard dip.

Le Rustique Brie Tartlets with Honey Onion Relish

These gorgeous little Le Rustique Brie tartlets use rounds of bread in place of pastry and are so easy to make. Tangy honey onion relish adds a lovely depth to the crisp cases and melted cheese, before they are dressed to serve with chopped chives for the final flourish. The honey onion relish can be made ahead of time and keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Le Rustique Brie Tartlets with Honey Onion Relish

Makes: 12 small tartlets/ 4 large tarts
Prep time: 45 mins
Cooking time: 8-10 mins

Honey Onion Relish:

50g butter
2 red onions, peeled and diced
2 tbsp runny honey (Acacia honey)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar


12 x slices Brown bread
50g softened butter
100-120g Le Rustique Brie de Caractère, cut into 12 pieces
Chopped fresh chives

1. To make the honey onion relish: melt the butter in a pan and add the onions; sauté the onions for 4 to 5 minutes and then add the remaining ingredients. Simmer, stirring all the time to stop it sticking, for 20 to 30 minutes until it is thick. Cool and set to one side until needed.

2. Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6.

3. Using a 5cm to 6cm cutter, stamp out 12 circles from the sliced bread, and butter them on one side only. Place the buttered sides down into a 12-hole bun-tin, pressing them to create a tartlet shape.

4. Add a teaspoon of honey onion relish into each bread tartlet base, and then place the pieces of Le Rustique Brie de Caractère on top.

5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the cheese has melted and the bottom of the bread tartlet bases are crispy and golden brown.

6. Gently ease them out of the tray and sprinkle chopped fresh chives over them before serving.

All easy and delicious.  Which one will you try first?

*PR collaboration

Summer's Coming & So Are The Bills!

As the weather warms up, we start to think about holidays.  Or rather the cost of having a holiday. Taking the kids out of school during term time to go on holiday is a highly contentious issue and it's something, personally I would not do without a very good reason.

Woman and her dog looking out over a beach

I'm not sure a fortnight in a theme park counts as a valuable life experience, which is often the justification put forward, although walking round Alton Towers wearing one of their transparent rain ponchos in a summer deluge probably does. I've not recovered from the last time.

So we parents have to grit our teeth and pay premium prices for holidays whilst trying to cut our cloth accordingly and hoping that nothing else comes along to add to the expense.

We're very fond of a staycation.  The UK is a beautiful country and, hands up, I haven't quite summoned up the courage to travel abroad with our two yet.  That day is fast approaching though as soon as I sort their passports out.

guards outside Windsor Castle, England

We try to budget carefully and make endless lists, not only of things to pack but potential expenses. We prefer self-catering where possible because it's great to have a base to relax in plus you don't have the cost of eating out every single night. There's a limit to the number of chicken nuggets and chips I can face in 7 days, although Ieuan can be prevailed upon to eat something green now and again.

Readers of this blog will know I'm a big fan of Skint Dad's Penny Challenge which helps you build a pot for Christmas by saving a little each day (1p on day 1, £1.30 on day 130 and so on).  By following this system you can save around £677 per year but that's for the festive season and it still leaves the challenge of budgeting for July and August.

Added to which the MOT on my beloved Skoda Roomster is due, along with an annual service and possibly new tyres.  If you're going to be doing a lot of driving this summer you may need to get your car checked over to see if it's safe for all those summer trips.

Our garden wall is about to cave in thanks to rain and subsidence and we have a list of DIY projects as long as your arm since the house was built in 1929 and is beginning to show its age.

The Husband has been promising (or is it threatening) to convert the garage into a gym to put in a treadmill or a rowing machine.  And Ieuan is very enthused by the idea of having a punch bag and space to practise his Tae Kwon-Do.

None of this would be possible without knocking the existing garage down and starting from scratch which not be an inexpensive construction project!

Our approach to spending on the house is to squirrel away whatever cash we can in an ISA, use these funds to pay for the construction project (or whatever) and then start saving again.

A sensible approach is to talk to your bank, of course, or your credit card providers to see if existing credit card debt can be amalgamated or transfered with a balance transfer deal and hopefully a lower interest rate.

Most of us know, by now, the way to cut expenditure and raise a bit of cash.  You know the kind of thing:-

* having a declutter and selling items on Ebay, Craigslist, Gumtree or your local car boot sale

* reducing unnecessary daily expenditure (yes you know you shouldn't be buying expensive coffees and should be taking your own lunch but it's so difficult to get into the groove, isn't it?)

* menu planning and budgeting for your food

* using comparison websites to check you are getting the best deals on your utilities, mobile and insurance deals

But how many of us actually do these things, even though we know we should. When the bills stack up we seem to be struck down by a kind of financial inertia!

Incidentally you can find plenty more ideas in my half yearly budget post.

Sometimes though, money is needed urgently and a pay day loan from a provider such as Cash Lady may fill the gap.  Prioritising the repayment of the loan is key however.

And once over the financial hump, so to speak, the best approach is to start saving for next year's major expenses now.

Easier said than done, but well worth the effort in terms of the stress control!

How do you budget for your summer holidays?

*collaborative post
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