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Biscuits for dogs are as an important part of shopping as biscuits for humans in the fluffy duffy household. Alfie, our three year old Jack Russell recommends Pedigree Gravy Bones highly! Tesco sell a 400g pack for 96p which is great value.
Gravy Bones are a meaty treat in the shape of a small bone about 4cm long. The biscuits have a coating of gravy which gives them a semi shiny appearance and if you bite one in half, as my teenage daughter quite often does, you will find that the gravy flavour carries on through the biscuit. (Bit like finding that your chocolate biscuit is also chocolate all the way through.)
Pedigree is a trusted brand and although this is a compllimentary pet food and not a complete food, Gravy Bones are a tasty way to reward your best friend (if your best friend has 4 legs, a tail and barks!)
For those who have puppies, Pedigree also sell Milky Bones, which are very mildly flavoured.
Another plus point is because Gravy Bones have a coating on the outside, you can carry them in your pocket without them crumbling if you want to take treats on walkies.
I have in my time had more than my fair share of embarrasing moments, so it would be rude not to share some with you.
After all, most of my family and (friends?) have laughed long and hard about them.
First one was the time that I was going out with my ex husband and he asked me if I was going into town in my lunch hour. Keen to please him, I said yes, what did he want? A cricket box..... hmm, well I'd never seen one before, although I did know what they were used for. I agreed, as long as he reassured me they would not ask what size.
The sports shop was an old fashioned one and the lady behind the counter informed me that the cricket section upstairs was closed for luncheon, that tells you what sort of shop it was. Could she help Madam with her requirements? I told her I needed a cricket box and she asked me that very question I wanted so much to avoid...what size? I thought that cricket boxes went into the waistband of trousers and you measured from there down to under the nether regions so about 12 inches would be about right. Tentatively I replied that I thought about 12 inches would do nicely, to which she answered "My dear, I meant did you want MENS or BOYS"
Exit one red faced fluffy duffy clutching her purchase of a men's cricket box which, for anyone caught in the same predicament looks like a plastic bicycle seat!
Next on my list would be the time the fluffy duffy's dog HAD to be neutered. We lived in a stone cottage with 6 foot walls at the time, and my Jack Russell who is also fluffy howled like a wolf from 3am all through to the next morning, when our neighbours informed us that their Red Setter had come into season during the night. For my 7 month old Jack Russell, it meant the long walk to the V E T's for the snip, either that or face eviction as a single parent because of the mating calls of my dog.
We took him to the small village vets for the operation and I waited that evening in a crowded surgery to pick him up after. My youngest son was about 10 at the time, and he asked me where our dog had had his operation. I painstakingly explained as quietly as I could about the operation site and what the vet had to do, and my son said rather loudly, "Mum, I know he had to have his bits chopped off, where did the vet take him to do the operation cos she doesn't do operations here." Sniggers all round from the people who had been listening in to my facts of life talk....
I also had a terrible moment when I did work experience in my mid teens. I looked after patients on a geriatric ward. One lunch time, I took soup round to the ladies and one dear old soul had the curtains pulled round. I looked in on her sleeping and left her soup on the table, saying I'd feed her when I finished serving. Unfortunately she had passed away and I got into a lot of trouble from the ward sister for not knowing the difference between asleep and dead. That was a totally different sort of embarrassment, I was actually mortified and nearly 30 years on, I still remember her when she was in her last days and she was a beautiful sweet lady. Sorry, if you are up there reading this, I meant well.
Maybe the worst and potentially the most dangerous was the time that I could have got myself into some serious trouble. Please feel free to laugh but also take note and make sure you are not as stupid or naive as me.
While single, after a 16 year relationship, I joined a reputable internet dating service where I was lucky enough to meet Mr fluffy duffy. However, before he came along, I was asked by a man about my dog. I told him lots of details about my beloved pet and he seemed like a genuine kind of bloke. I was living in an area of the country much further north than I ever previously did and there were some expressions I heard used that I assumed SO WRONGLY to be local ones. You see, he suggested with my love of 4 legged friends that we go dogging. I stupidly thought that he meant walking our dogs, and we agreed to meet up in the day time at a local country park. I took along my dog, and even packed a flask of coffee, thinking to myself how nice to meet up on a date where his first thoughts would not be how quick he could get in my knickers.......
We met, got out of our cars and that was when he started laughing, AT MY DOG!!!! "Does he want to watch?" he asked. "Watch what?" I said, failing to get the joke. "Us dogging" he replied. Then he very sweetly explained to me what dogging was/is and I got back in my car, apologising profusely that I certainly was not that sort of girl and had really thought he meant for us to walk our dogs. This could have been nasty, but thankfully I had my phone a friend fixed up and he thought it was so hilarious that I took a real dog dogging that he is probably still telling his mates about it. He was bemused by the fact that he was actually being a bit cheeky asking if I wanted to have sex in public in a car with him and I appeared to so readily agree. I went home, changed my username on my dating account and met Mr fluffy duffy that weekend. We went for a meal together, much safer!
So there are just three of the many embarrasing moments that fluffy duffy has experienced. There are many more, that's life and actually I think it makes us all a bit more human from having them. Just remember it's better to laugh with someone than at them.
The bogs at Glastonbury this year, 2007 were put to the test by myself and my partner this year. He went to the festival on Wednesday 20th June to pitch our caravan and I met him there after the fluffy duffy tribe went to school and Saint Grandma arrived. (I love that woman!)
After a massive hug, having not seen him for 48 whole hours, I asked mr fluffy duffy, with bated breath "Soooo, what are the loos like?" There was a certain amount of trepidation as I waited for his reply as last summer, all 6 of us went en masse to Leeds Festival where the facilities were dia-bog-lical.
mr fluffy duffy had been in investigative mode and had discovered that there were indeed three bog standards this year at Glastonbury. The three star was the loos that flushed (a pull back handle not unlike a handbrake on a car.) These were located nearest the biggest stages like The Pyramid.
The two star rating was the open air facilities, which had a trench with chemical treatment in that dealt with the smell pretty adequately.
The one star rating were the portaloos nearest the camp sites, as they have roofs which contain the smell somewhat and waste matter just sits in the bottom.
My first visit was to a three star facility and I was pleased to note that Nouvelle had supplied recycled toilet paper for festival goers free of charge. Nice and soft actually, but that's for another review.
There was also liquid hand gel to make sure everyone kept as hygeinic as possible. We also saw plenty of attendants over the weekend, making every effort to clean up.
The obvious draw back with the bogs at festivals and other outdoor events is that we like to flush our waste away and not leave it for others to not really be able to help but see. Dr Gillian McKeith would probably have 50 fits if she saw some of the stools produced by the majority of the beer drinking, fast food consuming festival goers. But hey, all 170,000 people at the festival to entertain, serve the public or be entertained have to answer nature's call at some point or other and while the Glastonbury bogs may be the pits, it's all part of life's rich tapestry.
While we were there, mr fluffy duffy and I got married in a pagan ceremony en masse with at least 60 other couples and on the morning before the wedding, I was pretty glad of a one star facility for those pre wedding nerves, and we were both glad of them later that evening after sampling several celebratory pints of Brothers Pear Cider!
1. How long, on average, does it take you to get rid of someone trying to sell you something over the phone.
Well, a fair estimate would be 30 seconds. If anyone dares interrupt my quality time with such questions as can we sell you new windows, new conservatory, membership to a charity lottery, change your gas and/or electricity supplier, they are all met with a polite no thank you....unless my eldest son answers the phone and does a variety of impressions which sometimes happens. They usually hang up!
2. What is the most expensive object you have ever broken on purpose? (when angry counts as "on purpose" even if you regretted it soon afterwards.)
My wedding ring, which was 18 carat gold and diamond studded. I snapped it in 2 pieces and buried them in a field. I hurt my hand in the process of snapping the ring but boy did it feel good to be free. And I have never regretted that decision, if you want to know why, read my review on domestic violence.
3. If you buy something for 99p with a £1 coin, do you really want the 1p back?
In every other retail outlet apart from McDonalds, the answer is yes, look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves and all that. However, I always donate my small change to Ronald McDonald House charity when we treat ourselves to a fast food feast. I know parents that have used the rooms provided by the charity so they can stay near very sick children and always empty my purse into the collection box if we eat there.
4. What was the last thing you shouted while in a car?
"Teenagers scare the living s*** out of me" by My Chemical Romance
much to the shame of my two teenagers who hid from their friends under the Tesco shopping in the back seat. Revenge is a dish best served cold! I forgot to say that the car windows were all fully open at the time, *sniggers like Mutley*
5. What is your typical path through a supermarket?
Up and down every single aisle working from the start to the end of the store. How else would I remember everything, lol?
6. Do you lick the underside of the foil top when eating a pot of yoghurt?
In the privacy of my own home, yes always, but I scrape with a spoon at school in the staff room, at least to pretend I've got some decent table manners.
7. How many greetings cards have you sent in the last 12 months?
We send on average 120 Christmas cards and at least 30 birthday cards to family and close friends. When I had a stay in hospital, I sent my partner 2 cards, plus there's Valentine's Day, Father's Day (on behalf of the kids), Mother's Day and Easter. I've sent get well cards, a graduation card, thinking of you and also baby congratulations. Clinton Cards staff love me. And I love them too! When you can't afford to say it with flowers, a card can make someone's day special.
8. A criminal maniac invites you to "pick a city for destruction, Mr Bond." Which one would you choose?
Hmm, now that would have to be Southampton as I am Portsmouth born and bred. No offence to the folk of Southampton, I would like to flatten it and rebuild, to me it's always seemed a hotch potch of a city, unlike Pompey where Heaven's Light is our guide and we have a better football team!
9. Which font do you use most often?
Times New Roman for official business, Comic Sans for school and for emails to friends. I find it easy on the eye.
10. If you had the choice between a petrol chainsaw and a bread knife, which would you use for felling a small tree with a 1" diameter trunk?
Got to be the bread knife based on the diameter of the tree trunk. I'd probably lose a limb if I tried to cut a 1" tree trunk with a chainsaw. Must admit there is a freaky side of me that secretly wouldn't mind having a go with a chainsaw, but I'd need a thicker log.
11. On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that you know when to use a semicolon?
I would confidently say 10. I helped teach English for 7 years up to AS standard.
12. What proportion of the CD's you own are in their original cases right now?
A shameful 75%, the other 25 are loose in the glove box of my car as I mainly listen to CD's when driving.
13. Favourite colour: black or white?
Black is my favourite to wear, favourite colour for cats and Labradors. White is my favourite for dressing babies in and for summer flowers such as lobelia, Marguerite daisies and gypsophilia.
14. How accurate is the time on your watch?
Sore subject. Ask Rotary in Southend on Sea who have had my silver watch that is less than 2 years old for three weeks now as it kept losing time despite having a new battery. They are doing their best to repair or replace my watch but I am lost without it.
15. What are you wearing right now?
What...all of it? Black top, purple floral skirt, black underwear, black high sandals and silver jewellery. Just back from a works "do".
16. Have you ever written to anyone famous, emailed or telephoned a newspaper, radio station, TV programme, etc. If so, what did you say?
I wrote to Jim'll Fix it in 1974 asking to meet the Bay City Rollers, needless to say he did not fix it for me! I also rang in to a local radio station in 2004 who were after unusual stories about A level results. At the time I was the oldest person in that county to be awaiting a result and I passed English Literature with a B grade at the ripe old age of 39.
17. Do you, in the most fundamental depths of your soul, give a crap about the extinction of the Red Cockaded Woodpecker?
No, in a word.
18. What is the cheapest thing you've bought with a debit or credit card in the last month?
My son cut his leg badly on a rock in the park and the village cash machine was out of service as usual, so I had to pay £2.11 for Steri Strips to hold the cut together until we got to A&E.
19. Favourite books.
Have you really got all day? I read anything and everything but Maeve Binchy is a particular favourite and her books were my escape during my unhappy married life. Luckily for me she has carried on writing since that time and I have enjoyed her more recent books even more.
20. What is your most favourite meal?
Roast chicken, sage and onion stuffing, roast potatoes, and a selection from parsnips, carrots, broccoli, runner beans, swede, gravy and cranberry sauce. With all the family round the table. Perfect. Especially if it's followed by apple crumble and custard.
This August it will be 20 years since you died. People say that time heals the grief and to some extent the grief is not so raw as it used to be. However, you are still loved as much as ever and your memory is so very precious. You are thought of every single day and it is always with happiness.
So, what's been going on down here then? Well, a year after you died and four years after my little Robbie was stillborn, I met the man who I married. It was love at first sight and I paid the price for that. 16 years of being in a relationship where I was subjected to physical and verbal abuse practically every day. Yes, I know what you would have done if you had still been alive but I didn't find the courage to leave until 3 years ago.
However, I did have two wonderful sons to add to your collection of grandsons. You now have 7 grandsons, 2 great grandsons and my 2 stepchildren making a total of 8 grandsons and a granddaughter. You would be so proud. When both my boys were born, we had an Only Fools and Horses moment. You missed the episode when DelBoy finally becomes a Dad but he holds baby Damien up towards the night sky to show his mother who is "up there" like you are.
I wished like anything that as on so many other occasions, I could have you back for the day so you could hold them.
Mind you, when the youngest was born who has your name for his middle name, I thought it WAS you. That kid looks like you so much, all the family notice. He even walks like you and has the same habit of wiggling his right ear when his whole face is still. And he is VERY prudent with his money.....wonder where he gets that from, Dad??
Well, you know that when I nursed you, I gave up 6th form and went to college instead to be a nursery nurse. It was second choice for me as my dream was to finish A levels and become a teacher. College paid a grant, and with you not working and terminally ill, there was little choice. I'm now a specialist teaching assistant and love every minute of it.
Would I still have made the same decision to nurse you? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. You were the most wonderful patient, you never complained. Dying from leukaemia was a terrible thing. Your veins were so bad from all the needles for testing everything that we both cried every time at the hospital, but you were as brave and dignified as when you fought in the Second World War. You bore your pain with dignity and still found the time to share a joke with the doctors and nurses.
This last year has been very very special to me. Last year, three years after I left my exhusband, I met my new partner. Funny really, with you being an true EastEnder, I remember you telling me "Make sure you marry a Romford boy". Guess where he is from then? Yes, you've got it. My friends all think he is the best thing since sliced bread. The exhusband said "I bet the sun shines out of his ****" and yep, he's right!
So now, I am a Mum of four, with a wonderful partner. We aren't "properly married" but we went to Glastonbury this year and we had a hippy wedding in a tent in the mud with about 50 other couples and how many people can say Dame Shirley Bassey sang at their wedding reception? Ok, it was the two of us in folding chairs and wellies sharing a pizza and a Coke, but we were happy!
I often think of you "up there" as we called it, looking after Robbie and with your sister now, who I dearly miss too. But you are always in my heart, and like the song you used to sing "they can't take that away from me."
Must go now, I have to have dinner. Your 13 year old giant of a grandson has cooked, he is already a head taller than me and takes after you with his size 12 feet!
love you Dad
My top ten hates in no specific order are:
1. Smoking. Thank goodness that from 1st July 2007 it is banned in all public places in England. So nice to be able to go into a pub and not come out stinking of smoke and damaging my lungs. Feel free to enjoy smoking if it is your personal choice but don't expect me to get up close and personal.
2. Bad Manners. My dear Dad used to say "Manners maketh Man" and do you know, I think he was right. Please and thank you cost not one copper coin and they make all the difference in the world. Barging in front of people, pushing and shoving, if it comes under the umbrella of bad manners, I hate it!
3. Cold Calling. When I am at home, I do not want to be pestered by double glazing salesmen, charity workers selling dusters or anyone else without invitation. Stay away please! My family time is very precious, if I want new windows I will contact you myself thanks.
4. Weeds. I love gardening and would say it is one of my favourite hobbies, but oh those weeds! Why do they exist? I make everything look beautiful and then up come the weeds.....aaaaargh
5. Country and Western music. Sorry guys, maybe hate is too strong a word but Country and Western just grates on me.
6. Pushbutton choice menus on phones when you get through to any amenity service or bank etc. You know the score, press one for x, press two for y, press three for z. All I want to speak to is a real live human, preferably one who knows the answer to my question. And can someone tell me when I have to speak to an electronic person, why do I say thank you to them? Probably my dear old Dad instilling his manners into me!
7. Beetroot. Loathe the stuff! Cannot bear the smell, fresh or in vinegar. Why would you want to eat something that smells and tastes of the soil it is grown in? I have no problem in eating my five fruit and veg portions a day, but beetroot? Not even if you paid me a million pounds.
8. Kidney Stones. THE most painful thing I have ever experienced medically, and I have had a baby who was nearly 12 pounds. Kidney stones are so painful that I had to spend two days and nights on the floor on all fours and be taken into hospital 4 times. When mine eventually passed, they were the size and colour of tiny poppy seeds. I could not believe that I had had to have morphine injections to cope with the pain.
9. Alzheimer's Disease. Robbed my children of their Grandmother at the age of 61. She first became ill aged 54 and by the time she died, she was doubly incontinent, had spaticity in her limbs, had been mute for the last 2 years and could not fully close her mouth. All she had ever wanted was to go and see the Sistine Chapel in Rome, but she had spent her years bringing up 4 children and looking after her mother until she died. By the time her and her husband went to Rome, she was already ill and after 5 minutes seeing the chapel, as was her lifetime's ambtion, she said she was bored and would like to go home. A cruel, wicked disease. If you see a flag day, please give all you can spare.
10. Ok, point taken about dooyoo members giving poor ratings, but I think VERY carefully about doing it myself and it does irritate me. However, I will now have UMBRELLAS as my 10th hate. Why? Because of the number of times I have been very nearly speared in the eye with other people's! People have moaned at me for being too tall, would you believe, stating that is why they have nearly sliced me through the eyeball. (I'm 5 foot 6 and don't consider that to be exceptionally tall.) Personally, I would rather wear a hood or get wet than use one myself. Umbrellas either blow inside out, you bump into other people even if unintentionally, they drip all over the place indoors and they are a general nuisance. It's virtually impossible to balance pushing a pram and using an umbrella, for example, so they are impractical. Don't buy me one for Christmas, please!
My partner and I have 4 children between us aged from 10 to 14. We try to eat as a family at least 5 nights a week, usually a home cooked from scratch meal. One Wednesday, having made a special effort and cooked on this occasion three separate meals, all the kids did was moan and groan about the food. I announced that the next day I was going on food strike and was not going to prepare any meals. The kids all laughed their socks off....until breakfast time when we stayed upstairs and they had to get their own cereals and toast. On opening the fridge, there were no packed lunches ready. Muttering under their breath, the oldest two organised a production line of buttering bread etc. After school. the kids all rolled in and they asked if they could have a snack....the answer was yes but you have to get it yourself. More muttering followed and they piled into the kitchen to learn how to use the toaster. Piles of homework and football later and the fab four congregate in the kitchen, sniffing the air like the Bisto kids. Yes, that's right kids, you have to get your own dinner too. And all credit to them, that is exactly what they did.
"Get your own night" has become a family favourite. The kids loved it so much that they all asked to have "Get your own night" once a week. The basic rules are:
* If you are not sure how to cook it, ask a parent
*Meals should have at least one, preferably two portions of vegetables and/or fruit
*Don't use up the entire contents of the fridge and cupboards!
*Clean up your own mess!
Trust us, it has worked a treat. The kids are all confident of using the oven and hob safely. We supervise from a distance and there is a fire blanket and extinguisher in the kitchen in any case.
And what did we eat that day? We cheated! After all the kids had eaten and cleared away, we had a kebab each from the local van. Delicious! And the kids now cook for us on "Get your own night."
We have developed the idea to include shopping for their food occasionally, giving them a budget to work with and they have to produce a meal from that. Popular, but the youngest one had to be convinced that chips from the chippy does not count as getting your own.
It's taught them all to be more appreciative of how hard it can be to get tasty meals cooked that everyone likes, they are all starting to get used to planning balanced meals, they are all confident and so are we about them using kitchen equipment. Plus we are not bothered at all about them being able to cope when the oldest go off to college, university or just leave home, they have had plenty of practise. If only they would moan about my ironing........
Inspired by television programmes like "Who do you think you are" and having realised by talking to family members that there was very little known about my grandparents' families, fluffy duffy embarked on the journey down the path of the family tree.
Cans of worms.....some family members report finding unsavoury deeds of ancestors. Older members of the family wanted illegitimate children, divorce and other details left undiscovered.
Would I recommend it? Depends what you want to know. Basically this can be a fun hobby. I have found a cousin on Genes Reunited who has a family tree with over 3000 relatives. Personally what I want to gain from this is a bit of family history I can pass onto sons of fluffy duffy and a little knowledge of what my ancestors did for a living.
So who have I found? At least 5 "live" cousins who I am in regular email contact with. The son of my half sister who has made me a great auntie! Lots of interesting information about occupations etc. (my great grandad was a horsekeeper for the freeman of the City of London)
Invitations and meetings: My mum has now met a cousin I put her in touch with who she thought had died. They had kept photos of each other since the 1930's. My mum's side of the family who appear to be the avid researchers have invited us to an annual get together of the family in September this year. Best of all is finding my nephew and his family, he has been looking for me for 20 years and I had not been able to find him either.
Useful websites: Genes Reunited You can search this site for free before you decide whether or not to join. I paid £9.95 to join the site for 6 months. WARNING: IF YOU JOIN, MAKE SURE YOU GO INTO YOUR ACCOUNT TO STOP THE SITE AUTOMATICALLY BILLING YOU AGAIN TO EXTEND YOUR MEMBERSHIP.
freebmd.com Excellent site where you can search birth marriage and death records mainly between 1830 and 1920 free of charge and view copies of scanned entries from records. You will even find handwritten ones.
Caution! This hobby can be addictive, but like all good hobbies, make it what you want and use it for enjoyment.
For short hair styles, Tigi BedHead Manipulator is indispensable. Yes, I am a fan of BedHead products anyway, but since the fluffy duffy locks have been cut short, Manipulator is the key to stylish good looks.
Manipulator smells like bubble gum, don't worry, the smell doesn't linger. You take a small blob between your thumb and first finger, about a 5p size, and warm it up. The texturising gum becomes very pliable and less sticky. You then run it through your hair as and where required to give texture and shape to your style. Once it dries, your hair will stay in place.
Manipulator comes in a screw top jar which costs about £9 for 50ml. This will last you ages with daily use, several months at least. You can also buy a trial size jar which is good for people like me who like to see how easy a styling product really is when you use it at home.
Bonding with step children is not easy. It takes time, patience and a lot of trust on both sides. It can also take up "couple time" but it is very rewarding. With love and a great deal of effort, the benefits are pretty amazing.
My partner and I have both been separated for over three years and our divorces were made absolute earlier this year, although we didn't meet until after this had happened.
Although I am writing this as step children, my partner and I do not live together at the moment. We live about 10 minutes walk from each other which for now is the perfect compromise.
Each of us has two children who live with us pretty much full time, for my partner this is unusual as he is the dad and custody is often awarded to the mum.
Our children are quite similar in ages, the youngest is nearly 10 and the oldest is 14.
This is how we bonded:
1) Respect the fact that both sets of children really wish that their families had not split up in the first place. Just because you and your partner have fallen in love with each other, you can't expect the children to do the same.
2) Space and time, respecting each others.
3) Don't be afraid to discuss ground rules, you probably have different views on lots of issues. For example, my partner's children were allowed full sugar fizzy drinks whenever they wanted, mine are not allowed them at all. So we came up with a compromise, now everyone has fizzy drinks as occasional treats and he now buys more healthy drinks! Their dentist will thank me, even if the kids don't!!
4) Make sure your own children still feel that they are as important as they always were. Mine and his both felt a little jealous of the attention being paid to the other partner's children. We got around this by lots of hugs and reassurance and by telling them that love is magic, you can always make more to go round without taking it away from anyone else.
5) Try to find common ground and use it. We found we both like water fights, bit cold now, but broke the ice in the summer. Board games are great, we all play together and we've had fun with impromptu karaoke nights too.
6) Share your traditions! For example, we have a birthday party for our dog, so this year we made that a family night with a cake (dog had roast chicken!) and played silly games and had party bags. My partner has different things, we have shared some of those experiences.
7) Use each other to babysit so you can spend 1:1 time with each child in turn. This is so worth it, and not just with our own children, we have done this with each others too. Can be simple things like giving a lift to a party and having time alone to chat in the car.
8) Always try and show respect for the absent parent. Our rule at home is that you can have photos of your other parent in your own rooms, you can ring them at any time and while we will always treat each other's children as a son or daughter, we also respect that we are not replacing their birth parents and do not want to. This way, "extra" parenting by being a step parent is a bonus.
9) Go to a music festival and spend four nights in the confines of a caravan, believe me you will bond!
10) Discuss traditions like Christmas and other celebrations and make sure you incorporate some of each other's ideas so everyone feels relaxed and happy and the children feel secure.
One day we hope to share a home with all the children and when the time is right, I'm sure we will. Hope that our experience helps someone else. It's not always as easy as it may sound written down, some nights at the start I would come home and cry in bed because the children had fallen out. And other times, like the first birthday card I was given with kisses drawn on it carefully make it the best thing that has ever happened to us.
Is it ok to have two favourites?
First, the healthy option:
Chicken and salad with mango chutney
2 slices granary bread, best if fresh from a bakers
Spread with butter or margarine of your choice
Sliced chicken breast, (I like to cook one on my George Foreman grill with a little Schwartz chicken seasoning)
Generous squeeze of Sharwoods Spreadable Mango Chutney
and a dash of black pepper to finish!
The not so healthy option?
Has to be the tried and tested bacon buttie
Two slices crusty white bread
Heinz Tomato Ketchup
These are my special occasion sandwich favourites, the busy world of teaching assistants lends itself to the Ryvita and Marmite!
Salmon Fish Pie
I adapted this recipe from an original one for Salmon Fish Cakes around the time that people stopped frying things, to make a healthier option.
1 egg, beaten
1 tin salmon (we use pink salmon, skinless and boneless)
Sachet instant parsley sauce
Tablespoon or good squirt ketchup
Make up the parsley sauce with boiling water in a jug.
Drain and flake the salmon.
Mix in a casserole dish with the mash, beaten egg and ketchup.
Add the parsley sauce and stir well.
Bake at about 180 degrees, gas mark 4 until the kids shout "Dinner's ready Mum, the smoke alarm's going off!" Oops, I mean for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
One tin of salmon (flat shallow tins like tuna) feeds 4 people.
You can make this easier by using instant mashed potato, especially if this is a root through the cupboards to find something for dinner night.
Alternatively, you can really go to town, make a proper parsley sauce from scratch, and maybe add a bit of grated cheese on top before baking.
Good served with green beans, sweetcorn, peas or any veg really, I usuallly try and serve carrots, sweetcorn and a green veg of some sort for colour. In emergency, any veg will do!
My top 10 beauty products...had to think hard about
(If you saw my bathroom and bedroom, you would know why it's hard to narrow this down to 10.)
1. Johnson's Baby Lotion. 500ml for £3.18 at Boots.com
This bottle of pink perfection is a classic favourite. Smells wonderful, leaves your skin soft when used as a body moisturiser. I've also used this as a shaving lotion and make up remover and also as a soothing after sun lotion too. Excellent value, couldn't do without this one.
2. L'Oreal Visible results moisturiser. Around £10 for 50ml. This comes in a handy pump dispenser which keeps the cream fresh. Has a SPF of 15 so I don't have to worry about additional sun protection for my face. One of the few moisturisers that properly absorbs into my skin.
3. Tigi Bedhead Maxxed Out hairspray. So good, I've already reviewed this one separately. If you want hair that stays in place and smells absolutely gorgeous, you must try this. At around £10 a bottle from good hair salons. Whaaat??? £10 for hairspray??? Yep, but worth every penny. This pump spray will last up to a year with daily use and has a great grapefruity smell. Plus your style looks natural but is perfectly held in place.
4. Bourjois Pump up the Volume mascara in Purple. Purple mascara rocks, believe me!
5. Nivea Lip Care Gloss and Shine. Available in Pink and Brown, Brown suits me best as I have quite an olive skin tone, but at £3.19 at Boots.com, why not have one of each?
6. Head and Shoulders shampoo. Classic favourite, now comes in all sorts of varieties including for coloured hair, frequent use etc and matching conditioners are available. Tried all sorts of other shampoos but my scalp starts itching and tells me to go back to Head and Shoulders.
7. No 7 Stay Perfect Eye Base. What a little gem of a find this one was! Now that I am in my early 40's, eyeshadow doesn't go on and stay on as it used to.....unless I use this brilliant eye base first. A simple application of this under MOST eyeshadows means they stay in place and crease free. Great to even out skintone as I have a birthmark on one eyelid.
8. Tesco Make up Light Effect concealer pen. Cheap and cheerful version of Touche Eclat. I keep one in the car door for emergencies! (You know those moments when you glance in the car mirror and think how did I get to look this old? ) If you don't have those moments, hurry down to Tesco and get one of these before you do! Prevention is better than cure and you can get Clubcard points too!
9. CK One fragrance. I was first introduced to this when friends gave me a bottle for my 40th birthday. Light and citrusy and the only fragrance I wear now. Hooked!
10. Nivea Hand Age Defying Q10 Plus. After years of neglecting them, my hands finally rebelled. This was a total shock to me. Happened when I was driving along in the summer when I stopped at traffic lights and glanced down at my mum's hands. Then I realised that they were on MY arms! Help! Ok, so I don't have any age spots yet.....but I don't want any either! So now it's as much a part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth and walking the dog, every time my hands get washed, they get hand cream. Sorry hands!
So, these are the 10 I have to have, they are all an intrinsic part of the life of fluffy duffy. What about yours?
I met my ex husband in 1988 when I went for a job interview. He was sitting at a desk outside the interview room and looked at me with melting brown eyes. It was a whirlwind romance, we bought a flat within 4 months of first going out together.
However, what was to follow was 16 years of hell. until I finally found the courage to leave in 2004.
During our relationship and marriage, I was subjected to the following:
Physical violence. Worst was pushing me so hard against the bathroom sink that I suffered a miscarriage and had two fractured ribs. I had my hair pulled, face slapped and was punched on numerous occasions.
Sexual abuse. Made to perform oral sex and have intercourse without consent
Mental abuse. I was not allowed to choose what I wore, for example I was not allowed to wear trousers. I had no money of my own so was controlled over all spending. I was made to feel worthless and that the marriage was the way it was because things were my fault. I lost contact with many of my family and friends because it was just easier not to have contact.
Why didn't I leave before? Because I believed every time that he told me I wouldn't survive without him. I believed him everytime he hit me and cried after that he was sorry. I believed every lie and that every punch or hair pull or snide remark would be the last one.
Every day I thank my best friend J. who finally gave me the courage to leave him. My ex husband and I had two sons together and the problem with an abuser is that they are usually clever. He never hit me or passed nasty comments in front of the boys. However, J had seen over the years that I was run down emotionally and physically and couldn't take anymore.
By chance, I found out that I would be entitled to Housing Benefit if I left which meant that I was able to rent a house and have somewhere to move into. Ring your local council if you find yourself in a similar position. They are very helpful and sympathetic to cases of escape from domestic violence.
Useful websites include:
www.childline.org.uk (aimed at dealing with the issues children have who have witnessed domestic abuse)
www.homeoffice.gov.uk (advice from the police)
www.womensaid.org.uk (charity run by women who will give advice and support.) They even have a special button on the website so you can hide what you were looking at if you are in the position of trying to access information with a violent parnter around.
The best advice I could give anyone who is suffering domestic violence is to find the courage to get out of the situation. I spent 16 years thinking that everything was my fault, that I was hit because I was a bad person, that I was publicly humiliated because that was what I deserved and that every name called and every punch thrown, well surely the blame lay with me for that, didn't it? No actually. The abuser is the one with the problem.
Can we stop here for a minute and just say that this review isn't about men and how bad they are, because men are often the victims too. It is very important to remember that. Domestic violence is the subject that is being discussed, not violence by men. I'll get off my soapbox now.
So, to sum up. Domestic violence. No excuse for it, ever.
You can't stop it happening if you are the victim because whatever you do, the abuser will find something wrong with it. That is their fault, not yours if you are suffering this.
What to do? Please find the courage to escape. Find a friend you can trust or contact a refuge or the police. Just don't stay for as long as I did, being a victim of someone else's perverted sense of right and wrong.
And best of all, not only do I have that all important Decree Absolute now that cut the last ties with this man, I have a new partner who has made me trust in not only him but also myself. And I wear what I want and he tells me I look gorgeous! The only thing he would ever throw at me is an admiring glance.
My handbag is a much loved Radley bag in an oyster colour. I bought it as a treat when I got my divorce settlement. (I just love the little pink Scottie dog tag!)
Inside are the following items:
Mobile phone: Screen saver is a picture of my partner taken on the day we went to the Red Bull airshow at Longleat this year, yes we know it was cancelled, but we spent 13 hours in the car and are still talking to each other!
Purse: containing some loose change and two bank cards plus 9 other cards, Co op member, blood doner, Matalan, Nectar, Tesco Clubcard, Citroen keycard, Boots Advantage card, library card, Visa card.
Wristband from Robbie Williams concert at MK Bowl in Sept
17 receipts and ATM slips
CK one perfume
Nivea lip gloss and shine in Brown
L'Oreal Visible Results face cream....haven't noticed any yet!
Nivea Age Defying hand cream, because I'm now 42 and this year I've noticed my hands look as if they belong to someone else, when did they get this wrinkly???
Frontline Flea treatment for Alfie, my Jack Russell
Half a Bonio
Two plasters (probably one for each heel when I had new shoes but didn't get around to putting on the plasters!)
A key for tightening my youngest son's retainer brace (bit like a key for a tin of sardines)
3 season tickets for Northampton Town Football Club, for me and my sons
Orthodontist appointment card
Doctors appointment card
Vets appointment card
(Better not muddle them up or the dog gets the straight teeth and I could end up with the booster injection)
Hairdressers appointment card
Two Persil tablets in wrapper..........does this mean that my cereal bar for work is now doing a 60 degree whites wash?
Shopping list: Toilet rim block, cotton buds, washing up liquid, dog food and a note from my eldest son on the bottom to ask for more Lynx. (sure his bedroom is damaging the ozone layer by itself)
3 strips of raffle tickets....be ok if I could remember buying them!
House keys, work keys, car key and partner's spare keys
Photo of my sons and dog
So...what's in yours?