Category Archives: health

When cliches start to make sense…

Why are we all so scared of getting old?

It’s easy to ward off the flab and the bad health if you just go to the gym and eat healthily – as for wrinkles and sag, I think I’d rather look natural than inflated.

I feel myself getting more and more comfortable in my skin. Life teaches you some tough lessons as you gather responsibilities. All those old cliches begin to make sense.

Be yourself. This drove me insane as a teenager because who the hell was I? Who did I want the world to think I was? Now I know what makes me happy, what’s important to me, what I will stand up for and what makes me uncomfortable. I’ve learned that ignoring these things bothers me for days. Don’t you hate that feeling of ‘God I wish I’d said something’? So now I do. (most of the time)

Beauty is only skin deep. I never even understood this phrase – like how deep is skin? Now I’ve met enough boring beauties and handsome arseholes to get it. People whose beauty conforms to 21st century standards are rarely good company. In my experience they’re pretty low in self-confidence and fairly draining to be around.

Just ignore the bullies. Yeah – cos that was possible in the playground. There was one lunchtime though, age nine, when I was in the firing line, and I leaned through the gate to talk to the lollipop man. He was elderly and hilarious – full of stories. Now I know there is ALWAYS someone to talk to, if you just look around. Bullying is a fact of life – people abuse power absolutely everywhere – so you might as well hone your coping mechanisms. I’ve also figured out that, when someone is upsetting you, think about the worst thing they could do and make your peace with it. Their power over you vanishes. I had a boss whose relentless demands nearly made me ill. When I realised that if she fired me I had genuine options, I stopped letting her get to me. I also developed those options and handed in my notice.

Love yourself. Ooft. Now if I had the answer to this one I’d call myself the Messiah. I think women in particular are very bad at being nice to themselves. I have this one friend who’s like a mirror. She and I beat ourselves up about things and turn to each other for comfort. One day we realised we would never speak to each other in the tone of our internal monologues, so we resolved to change. I’m incredibly lucky to have a husband who’s adored me since I was 17 so I’ve always had a foundation of ‘if this wonderful guy loves me that much, I must be OK’. Of course the devil on my shoulder reminds me I didn’t date very much so maybe no one else would have had me. I think, as I work through challenges and counsel friends through hard times, I’m realising how powerful love really is.

It’s all water under the bridge. This once vague concept has become pretty central to it all, really. The bridge is our path through life – sometimes it feels strong and sturdy, other times it sways slightly and, let’s face it, on occasion it feels like it will be washed away by the torrent. It’s all about how you perceive the river. I try very hard to keep my bridge strong and fortify it with the people I love and the things that make me happy. Everything else I consign to the water and let it wash away. It’s not allowed to stick to my bridge. Sometimes I have to make a conscious effort to scrape away the flotsam and jetsam. I guess it’s like the Forth Road Bridge. I’ll never be finished painting it.

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Googlyfruit to the rescue*

I have a poorly peep at home today.

He’s been coughing constantly, feeling very sorry for himself. I’ve been by his side with the laptop, trying to work and look after him at the same time.

Then we got a package delivered…

 

 

Finally he’s eaten something – pureed fruit. Three packets of it!

Thank you Googlyfruit – you’ve won a fan!

*with very many thanks to the team at Googlyfruit for sending us such an amazing goody box of free samples!

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The Kitchen Cafe radio appearance

It’s been a while since I’ve been on the radio – yet I was nearly on twice today.

Kitchen Cafe radio

If I’d known we were going to take quite so many pictures I would have done something with my hair. IT’S RADIO!

I was just parking outside the New Town Cook School when an unknown number flashed up.

“Hi this is Leslie from BBC Radio Scotland…”

“Hi, I’m just parking I’ll be two minutes!”

“Oh, I was calling to see if you were free to comment on a show at 11.45…”

I mean how weird is that? Has someone been doing some secret SEO on my blog? Why have I suddenly become a spokesmum? Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted – today was so much fun!

For a start I was recording an episode of The Kitchen Cafe, which is a really cool cookery show on BBC Radio Scotland – and I love to cook. For another thing I was doing it with my pal Lisa, over at Palompo PR and – perhaps the best bit – I got to meet Gill Sims, the genius behind Peter and Jane, the blogger who makes me laugh out loud each evening with her Facebook updates.

Kitchen Cafe radio

Neil and Gill

The subject of this show was ‘back to school’ – transmission is August 17th at 1.30pm. Chef Neil Forbes was showing us quick and easy meals for those days the kids come crashing in from school demanding food NOW.

He was kind enough to make the first one gluten free – as both the Wee Man and Rod can’t digest it. The second was spaghetti with pancetta fried in garlic oil and parsley. “I’ll sell that as Shrek spaghetti,” I announced, which wasn’t as weird as it sounds considering Lisa had just told us she needs to call quesadillas “Daddy sandwiches” if she’s going to get her kids to touch them.

The format of the show is really conversational, with chef Neil doing that amazing multi-tasking of cooking, questioning and keeping the show on track. The producer Phil was brilliant – as it was pre-recorded he would stop us occasionally and remind us to describe what we were seeing and smelling.

kitchen cafe radio

Chick peas with red onion, red pepper, courgette, tinned tomatoes, chorizo and paprika

Kitchen cafe radio

garlic oil and pasta simmering

I think some of my favourite lines were ,”I can’t put soft fruit like strawberries inside my son’s lunchbox as he uses it as a football” from Gill.

“My children would have spaghetti bolognese for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I’d let them,” from Lisa and “Of course, there is a rumour a child went to school with egg and chips in their lunchbox. Not my child, I promise,” from Neil.

I’m definitely going to use the tips in my kitchen and change up the Wee Man’s gluten free lunchbox a bit too. Also, I’m pleased how well the conversation flowed and that we didn’t all talk at once. Three women in a kitchen could have been noisy – but Neil kept us on track and threw in our names pretty frequently to avoid confusion.

I think it’s going to be a fun show to listen to, once Phil has worked his magic in the editing suite. Make sure you listen –  August 17th, 1.30pm, BBC Radio Scotland 🙂

Kitchen Cafe radio

What’s cooking good looking?

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8 stress-busters for busy mums

I live a pretty stressful life.

Some of the factors are just modern life, others are personal circumstances and that last group is the one I’m constantly working on – the choices.

As much as I try to simplify, plan ahead and ask for help – I accept that stress is a big part of my life so I’ve developed some strategies for dealing with it. Here are eight.

1 The gym

Keeping your patience, holding your temper and remaining calm take incredible willpower and involve squashing your inner rage. With me, the result is a lot of pent up energy. On Sunday I was on the treadmill at 8.45am. I don’t say this to impress you – I was up at 5 and I needed to GET OUT THE HOUSE before I exploded. A flat out run and a one-on-one with the punchbag sorted me right out. Plus I wore my new leggings.

mummykimmy gym leggings

2 Earplugs

No really. Rod came back from a “work trip” to the race track with a cute wee keyring tube containing earplugs. One particularly screamy morning I reached for it and was astonished how quickly my blood pressure dipped. It just takes the edge off.

3 Crafting

OK, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I read a lot about art therapy for an article once and it fucking works. I used to mindlessly colour in Johanna Basford’s creations – a few weeks back I started making greetings cards with the kids’ abandoned art supplies. It’s a moment of calm, the use of a different part of my brain and the pride of creating something pretty in the general chaos – not to mention the money saved.

mummykimmy crafting

4 Wine, beer and rum

Occasionally it crosses my mind that I may be overindulging, but I can go days without it so I don’t think I’m an alcoholic…. A wee beer while I make dinner, or my husband appearing with a dewy Cuba Libre when he finally gets the kids to sleep are just magic. I’ve also started popping round to fellow harrassed mums’ houses with a bottle (or demanding one) in the evenings and it’s very pleasant indeed.

mummykimmy rum

5 Netflix and chill

There’s something nice about eschewing the TV schedule and suiting yourself….and bloody binging on three episodes of Orange is the New Black (where life is infinitely worse) should the mood take you.

6 Disney Emoji Blitz

This wee app has honestly saved my sanity more times than I care to mention. It’s a bit like Candy Crush but with Disney characters – and you get extra emojis with every level. It’s probably in that crafting cringe category, but it zones me out and my texts are a bit more colourful.

mummykimmy Disney emoji blitz

7 Whatsapp

My best girls are all over the world and yet they’re right there in my pocket, especially when I’m losing my shit. From Chicago, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Fife and Dunblane, they’re ready and waiting to support me, reassure me and tell me to wind that neck right in.

8 My imaginary golden network

OK, now you’re really going to think I’m nuts. When I’m trapped in the toddler’s room, in the dark, waiting for the deep breathing that signals I can make my escape, I imagine ornate bars above my head. They’re the network of parents through the centuries who’ve struggled to get their kids to sleep, through illness and war and countless horrendous things, whose strength I can tap into. I imagine reaching up and holding the bars, feeling them glow and knowing I’m one tiny person in this enormous world. It gives me an almost tangible perspective and comforts me.

I could do with a few more – if you’d care to share?!

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Day 5: Enough’s enough

Getting out of my bed is hard when there is no coffee waiting. Breakfast is almost impossible if you’ve forgotten to soak your oats overnight. Lunchtime, when your kids have been fighting all morning, and there’s no food in the house except questionable Quorn which has eggs in it anyway, is just too much.

I scrambled some eggs. In butter. Then I put cheese on top.

I managed four and a half days of being vegan. My children are the reason I failed so early. My greed is the reason I didn’t get back onto that rickety wagon.

Tonight I ordered a plain cheese pizza. It was f***ing delicious.

Tomorrow’s dinner is this:

Oh the relief!

I felt bad for as long as it took to leave my lovely Mags of The Newbie Vegan a voicemail apologising – then I felt set free. Coffee! Cheese! A big ass steak! Nothing was beyond me now!

In all seriousness, I’ve actually learned a lot this week.

1 I eat too much crap for snacks when I genuinely love cucumber, carrot and celery sticks

2 Tofu is delicious stir-fried and much cheaper than meat (£2.50 per packet)

3 I drink too much coffee

4 I don’t drink enough water

5 I need to be more organised when it comes to food generally

6 As with most things in my life, being a working mum really constrains me. When mums say “I don’t have time”, they genuinely mean it. Neither can I pop to the supermarket to buy specialist ingredients because that involves taking two small rutting stags and shoehorning them into a trolley so they don’t run off while I search the shelves.

7 I need to be extra careful about where my food comes from. I already order my milk direct from a farm – it gets left on my doorstep at 5am – and I try to always buy Scottish meat.

8 I need to eat more fish and make less stuff with mince

So although I technically failed the Vegan Challenge (let’s just see how many of my goals I achieved here. Oh. One) I still think it was worthwhile.

 

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Day 4: God this is tough

Another morning coffee avoided. Another morning of weird breakfast because I forgot about my overnight oats. Dragging a reluctant six year old around Tesco trying to work out which aisle the bloody tins of chickpeas live in was a low point. But I’m hanging on in there.

I think, given my conversation with the farmer yesterday, the only reason I’m continuing with this challenge is for re-education purposes. I’ve gotten into bad habits and I want to reset. I’m enjoying eating lots of fruit and veg, particularly cucumber and carrot sticks, I’m feeling the benefit of not drinking coffee four times a day and I’m relishing the challenge of creating tasty evening meals using new ingredients. I mean, I had never bought tofu before this week.

Today I also bought quorn. I figured if I enjoyed my stir fry that much, I should just repeat that meal with other meat substitutes. These are the habits which are likely to stick. I cannot wait to use milk again and I am definitely going to bake myself a camembert when this challenge is over. Mmmmmmmm camembert…

Oh. I’ve just checked the label and Quorn contains egg whites. Crap.

Well, dinner was delicious. More stir fried tofu, this time with spring onions, beansprouts, carrots and courgettes.

tofu stirfry

Today’s menu

Breakfast: Tin of mandarins, fresh orange juice

Snack: Cucumber and carrot sticks, red pepper humous, water

Lunch: Vegetable soup, a banana, water

Snack: I didn’t have time for a snack today

Dinner: Stir fried tofu, spring onion, courgette, carrot, beansprouts, rice, Prosecco (don’t worry, I checked, no animal products were used)

 

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Vegan Challenge Day 3: The Farmer Speaks

I was skunnered this morning when Rod handed me a coffee, forgetting I was off the milk. I’d forgotten to soak my oats and was running around trying to get kids ready so ended up comforting myself with a trip to the local inconvenience store.

Yep, breakfast was two morning rolls dipped in olive oil and balsamic. Nutritious? I think not. I was racing to finish writing a press release before my nail appointment, so my snack was 20 Pringles. Not a good morning.

My fortnightly nail appointment is always a highlight. I travel halfway across Edinburgh to see this woman because she is excellent. She is also a character – obsessed with 195os style, owner of a gorgeous bulldog called Rose who smiles at me from her dog basket and, I found out today, she used to be the head bouncer at a notorious Glasgow nightclub called Archaos. She also grew up on a farm and spent five years at agricultural college, so I should have known better than to mention my vegan challenge.

Her rant lasted through the soak off and the first two coats of the new colour, but she made some excellent, and heartfelt points. The main one was: “The thought that farmers, whose livelihood depends on the animals they look after, don’t care and don’t look after their cows and pigs, is actually offensive. And I don’t use that term vey often cos people get too offended these days.”

She explained how strict the regulations are in the UK. There are actually laws about how much daylight, space and stimulation animals must have as a bare minimum. The picture of the sow separated from her piglets in a small pen that does the rounds on Facebook got her particularly riled up.

“Do you know how much a sow weighs? They’re twice the size of a coffee table and have about 20 piglets, if she rolls over she’s going to squash them and kill them. She goes in the farrowing pen for the piglets’ safety. They feed, they’re observed to make sure everyone gets enough, then the sow gets her own pen so she can move about safely – and can still snuffle her children through the barrier.”

Organic farming was another passionate subject for her – she derided the practice of depriving a cow who cuts itself on a fence from receiving antibiotics because lavender cream allows the farmer to claim organic status – meanwhile the cow suffers. She also pointed out the joy of UK farmers at leaving the EU because the regulations are ridiculously complex and actually prevent them from farming properly.

I won’t go on. She made some very interesting, and informed, points and given that I was still in mourning over my morning coffee, really struck a chord.

I was all set to give up on this challenge, but tofu turned my head. It’s delicious! Stir fried in soy sauce with a tonne of veg and some gluten free noodles? YUM.

I shall fight another day. Day 3 complete. And aren’t my nails gorgeous?

Today’s menu

Breakfast: Two morning rolls dipped in olive oil and Balsamic vinegar; pint of cucumber water

Snack: Pringles

Lunch: Vegetable soup, Bourneville chocolate bar, pint of cucumber water

Snack: Raisins

Dinner: Stir fried tofu with veg and rice noodles; glass of red wine

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