Month: March 2016

Is this the final nail in the coffin for Donald Trump’s presidency bid?

Like so many people across the world, I’m apoplectic with rage at Donald Trump’s latest misguided, idiotic, foolhardy and downright stupid comments in his bid to become a presidential candidate.

For anyone that might have missed it, Donald Trump believes that abortion should be made illegal, and any women having an abortion should be punished.

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I feel very strongly about the right to abortion.

If you choose to read on, then please respect that these are my thoughts, my opinions, and this is my blog. I will respect your right to share your own thoughts, but will not tolerate rudeness or personal attack.

I’m very vocal about my beliefs and quite often end up in “discussion” with people on Facebook threads.

I believe that abortion is a woman’s right, for whatever reason she chooses.

I also believe that no man should have a say in that right. If you haven’t got the physical bits to carry a baby and give birth, then butt out.

You might conclude from this that I’ve had an abortion myself. I haven’t. But if I had, I wouldn’t be ashamed. And here’s why.

A woman’s body is not just a vessel for carrying babies. I’ve posted previously about how annoyed I get when people assume women will grow older and procreate. We’re about more than that. And that’s fine.

But, let’s face it, mistakes happen. Contraception doesn’t always work. People get caught up in the heat of the moment and make ill informed decisions. Accidental pregnancies are a real thing.

I believe that a woman has as much right to abort an accidental pregnancy as she does one that isn’t viable for health reasons, or as a result of rape. The reason for aborting the latter two types of pregnancy is completely obvious, and anyone who disagrees with that needs their head looking at. If you think it’s better to progress with a pregnancy created through violence, or one that will result in poor quality of life for the child, then you’re not pro-life. You’re a sadist. Even if your argument is that the birth mother could give the child up for adoption, you’re still not pro-life. Because living in a foster home waiting for new parents, for who knows how long, maybe forever, isn’t living. It’s existing. Being in a children’s home where bullying and abuse is often rife is robbing a child of any life. Putting a child through the pain and suffering of an incurable illness to sooth your own conscience is selfish. Better not to be born at all.

Back to accidental pregnancies though. If a woman falls pregnant unintentionally; through failed contraception, or a bad decision, or even being careless, why should she be consigned to a lifetime of unwanted parenthood? Why should one brief experience define her life forever more, if she doesn’t want it to? Why should she be forced to go through with having a child she may not want, a child she may not love, or may not care for, just because the law says so?

Here’s the crux. I’m probably a prime candidate for a child. I’m happily married, settled, own home, well paid. But I don’t want kids. And do you know what? If I fell pregnant now, accidentally, I would have an abortion. No doubt about it.

And do you know something else? I wouldn’t feel guilty about it. Because it would be the right decision for me, and the right decision for that collection of cells, because I know I couldn’t give a child the very best in life – purely because I don’t want to. I don’t think that’s selfish in the slightest. I think that’s realising that, despite all the great things about having kids, I don’t want the whole package.

I don’t buy the belief that all women feel guilty about terminating a pregnancy, and will think about it forever more. If a woman is making the right decision for herself, based on her own personal circumstances, then why would she feel guilt? Sure, at some point you might think “what if?” But that’s not to say it will be a whistful what if! Personally I would feel relief. Relief that I live in a progressive society where a woman has the right to choose and take control of her body.

Relief that I will not be punished for making a decision that, ultimately, affects me more than anyone.

So, Mr Trump, you have completely isolated all the women out there like me, who believe in “our body, our right” (as if we didn’t already hate your guts for your vile thoughts about Muslims and closing borders).

But that’s ok I guess. Because all the pro-lifers will be on your side and you’ll guarantee their share of the vote, right?

Wrong.

In a statement, Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, said Trump’s comments were “completely out of touch with the pro-life movement and even more with women who have chosen such a sad thing as abortion.”

“Being pro-life means wanting what is best for the mother and the baby,” Mancini said. “Women who choose abortion often do so in desperation and then deeply regret such a decision. No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion. This is against the very nature of what we are about.”

Ha, have that you orange bigot!

Worse still, upon sensing he’d dropped a massive clanger with his comments, Trump has back peddled and suggested he meant punishment for the doctors carrying out abortions.

Oh, so that’s ok then? No it’s not! A doctor, a medical professional, carrying out a legal operation that a woman has requested? Would you punish plastic surgeons who are going against the natural grain with breast enlargements and nose jobs? Because I don’t think that’s what God had in mind when he created Adam and Eve.

What next? Surely some homophobic slurs and a vow to reverse the decision to legalise gay marriage. Making it legal for police officers to shoot black people on sight. Hell, let’s even give the KKK some political power. Sounds far fetched?

Unfortunately, I think anything is possible with this vile excuse for a human being.

And you know what’s worse than him?

The misty eyed dim witted followers that agree with him.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

5 simple pleasures

A more cheerful post, following yesterday’s gloom and doom fest!

It’s very easy to get caught up in the need to own things, do things, go places, eat out, see stuff and do stuff. I’m terrible for it. But I’m currently feeling the need to strip it all back and do simple (and cheap!) things that will make me happy.

Simple pleasures

Here’s what I have in mind:

Reading
I got through a couple of books on holiday and really enjoyed them. I want to devote more time to reading again. Curling up on the sofa for a couple of hours and burying my head in a book.

Clearing out old clothes, make up and nail varnishes
This probably won’t make me happy at the time, as I find tidying so dull! But I’ve probably been having some sort of clear out constantly now for about, ooh, 5 years! I need to finally nail it, get rid of all the crap and get my wardrobe/floordrobe in order. Plus I have so much out of date makeup. I was looking for a nail polish last night and found one in my box that I know has to be around 8 years old. Urgh. It’s taking up valuable space so I need to declutter and downsize.

Clearing out my car
I’ve always been one for keeping my car relatively tidy, but in the last couple of months it seems to have descended into a junk skip, with empty crisp packets, water bottles and even wallpaper samples just discarded on the backseat. The husband got in at the weekend and called me out on being a tramp! So this is something I can easily tick off the list and feel good about.

Going out for a walk
There are lots of nice parks and streets where I live, with woodland paths to follow and fancy houses to fantasise over. Just getting out and about, looking at the spring flowers and breathing in the fresh air is good for the soul, and I don’t do enough of it.

Watching films
I always say I haven’t got time to watch a film, or I’m not interested, but invariably I enjoy it. Last night we watched Practical Magic, which was on TV. I’d never have chosen to watch it but I really enjoyed it. Neither me or the husband have seen any of the Harry Potter films, so maybe that could be a plan.

What simple pleasures do you indulge in when you need to kick back and take it easy?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Jaded…

…is the best word I can think of to describe my physical and mental state after Easter weekend.

As usual I threw myself wholeheartedly into the thought of time off work and no alarms by getting my drink on. Vodka has been the nectar of choice, although wine, shots and – randomly – amaretto also made an appearance.

Because I’m lucky enough not to suffer hangovers, I never feel so bad that I say “I’m never drinking again”. I may feel a little delicate, tired and headachey, but I don’t get sick or dizzy or any of the horrible hangover side effects that might limit one’s future imbibement.

This morning I have had a little wobble at myself for drinking too much. I don’t have an alcohol problem by any means, but I don’t have an off switch. And whilst I’m usually limited by a 2 day weekend, 4 days off at Easter meant more booze than usual. I overindulged more than once and the results weren’t pretty. I got emotional and became a handful and the poor husband had to deal with the results. Not fun, for either of us!

Still, Easter tends to mark a line drawn in the sand between winter and summer, and I become aware of the need to at least try and lose some weight as the weather improves and the layers of clothes decrease. There’ll be post work walks in the evening sunshine, early starts for days out and a real kicker to cut back on the bad stuff so I can strut my stuff in the summer sunshine (I really can’t pull that off! I’m so not a strutter!)

Aside from feeling a bit cross with myself and wishing I was at home in bed, Easter was good. The right balance of doing stuff and not doing stuff, seeing family and friends, a gig, some real life clothes shopping (which I hardly ever do anymore) and a pub lunch with my Mother in Law. A washing machine incident threatened to ruin play on Saturday, but I managed to sort it out (although I did use pretty much every towel we own in the process of draining the water from it!)

It was surprisingly light on pigging out as well, as I didn’t have any chocolate in the flat on Sunday (epic Easter fail), although I did eat my own body weight in roast lamb.

Here’s one of my favourite Aerosmith songs to finish. It was the gorgeous Steven Tyler’s 68th birthday at the weekend. He’s just so cool – you can read my thoughts about him here

How was your Easter?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

My trip to Lanzarote

As I said in Monday’s post I really didn’t do a lot on my mini break! But I thought I’d share some highlights and some pics with you.

Our hotel
We booked into an all inclusive resort called BlueBay. It was only 15 minutes from the airport, which was ideal after a 4 hour flight. The hotel was bright and airy, very clean, with a lovely pool area, decked pool bar, low rise whitewashed apartment blocks and beautiful gardens – immaculate trees, flowers and cactuses everywhere!

Blue Bay Lanzarote entrance

Blue Bay Lanzarote pool are

 

Our rooms were actually apartments; a spacious open plan lounge, kitchen and dining area with a table and chairs, big sofa and sliding doors to a big balcony, and then a separate bedroom with a dining table and sliding wardrobe and a separate bathroom with walk in shower. Food is always something of a concern in a larger hotel, when catering for the masses, and even more so in an all inclusive resort, but there was no need to worry. Everything was fresh and tasty, well cooked, lots of choice and variation. The staff were, without exception, incredibly friendly. It was a good choice.

The resort
We opted for Costa Teguise, on the east coast, due to proximity to the airport. The resort was a 20 (ish) minute walk away from the hotel, or less than 3 euros in a taxi. We used a taxi a couple of times and then on the last day the husband and I walked along the coastal path there and back, which was picturesque but very very windy!

Costa Teguise has no history as such, having been built purely for tourism purposes in the 1980s. There are some tourist shops, bars, low rise villas and a backdrop of volcanic mountains behind. The windy weather makes the bay a haven for windsurfers; there must have been about 50 of them, some fairly far out to sea and getting up some great speeds!

My Mom’s birthday
The reason for the trip was to celebrate my Mom’s 60th birthday. We decorated the room with balloons and banners and spent a relaxed day at the hotel enjoying the sunshine and drinking sangria. I’d bought her a Pandora charm as a reminder of the holiday, a small silver passport.

Pandora passort charm

For dinner we went into Costa Teguise, to a restaurant called El Maestro. I’d selected them from TripAdvisor reviews and emailed in advance to book a table and explain that it was a special birthday. The restaurant offered me a birthday cake, in my choice of flavour with a personalised iced message – so trusting as they didn’t take any payment details in advance! They lit candles and came out singing happy birthday, which was a nice touch.

Mom's 60th birthday meal

The restaurant was beautiful, the service excellent and the food exquisite – garlic mushrooms to start followed by chateaubriand with potatoes and the lightest fluffiest birthday cake for dessert. The restaurant even boxed up the rest for us to takeaway (which we ate on the balcony with cocktails the following afternoon!)

I’d be happy not only to go back to Lanzarote, but to the same hotel, which is an unusual thing for me to say! But knowing that there’s a tried and tested bolthole in the sun we could escape to, just to get away for a few days of R&R during the cold winter months, is great. And of course there’s lots to see and do on the island too.

Sitting in the airport waiting to fly home, in the outdoor bar which has a view over the volcanic landscape (how cool is that?!) I could quite happily have stayed another couple of days…

Arrecife airport outdoor terrace

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

5 things I go through after I’ve been on holiday

A week ago I was in Lanzarote. I already had a drink in my hand and was sitting by the pool.

Now I’m at work and cold. Pah.

Welcome to reality

(image from The Beijinger)

Here are 5 things I always go through after I’ve been away from home.

Denial
It’s not over yet. It’s not over til I get home. It’s not over until it’s bed time. I’m not going to bed, because then it will be over. I DON’T WANT IT TO BE OVER!!!

Alcohol withdrawal
What do you mean I can’t have a glass of wine with lunch?

Hunger
Why do I have to wait until lunchtime to eat? Why am I only having one course for dinner? WHERE’S MY DESSERT???

Tiredness
Why is my alarm going off? When can I have an afternoon nap? Why aren’t siestas compulsory?

Memory loss
End of first day/half day/hour back at work – have I ever even been away?

Already counting down to the next one!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Holiday vs travel

I love travel. Not travelling. There’s a distinct difference between the two, not least the length and breadth of the trip! I say this, as I know there are travel purists who think that you’re only a traveller if you take a backpack, a dog-eared map and sleep in hostels. Staying in a hotel doesn’t count.

To me, travel is seeing things, experiencing new cultures, eating local food, soaking up atmosphere and language and local customs, visiting must see sights, taking photos and creating memories. It’s ok to bring shampoo and many pairs of shoes. There isn’t a pre-requisite that you should only spend £3 a day on meals and travel cross country on the floor of a train, as far as I’m concerned. There’s a lot of snobbery around “travelling”.

Travel is amazing in a mind blowing, eye opening, life affirming, head expanding, wow kind of way. Even if you do have 2 showers a day and eat at nice restaurants while you’re doing it.

But sometimes it’s ok to just have a holiday. To do little more than eat, sleep, drink, lounge, read, laugh, snooze, wander and repeat.

Passports

I’ve just had a lovely holiday in Lanzarote. Didn’t see any of the island, but that’s ok. We spent quality family time, got some sunshine, my Mom had a great birthday, and I feel relaxed.

At least I did until a 3 hour flight delay on the way home (thanks, French air traffic control, you swines). And some unexpected health news from my mother in law. And my sister’s boyfriend being attacked by 3 men in the street, while she was with him.

Real life sucks.

But that’s the thing about real life. You have to return to it sooner or later, whether you’ve been away for an extended holiday, a week, a few days, or even just a weekend.

Welcome home to me!

Squatting in heels

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m quite a faddy person when it comes to being healthy and exercising. A few weeks ago I started on a new fad.

30 day challenges.

I started a 30 day squat challenge, 30 day crunch challenge, and 30 day plank challenge simultaneously.

For anyone not familiar with these, you basically follow a program to do increased amount of each exercise each day. This was my “pre-bikini-betterdosomethingquick” plan.

It didn’t quite go according to plan. Most of my fads don’t. I did the first three days – all good. Then you have one day of rest. The trouble is I forgot to restart after my day of rest. So I took 2 days of rest. Then I got back on it. Then I forgot again the next day.

What can I say, I’m easily distracted.

So I’ve now introduced a new alternative “routine”. When I heat my lunch in the microwave at work at lunchtime, I’ve calculated I can do 60 squats in 2 minutes. So that’s what I’m doing. Regardless of footwear.

Squats in heels

I’m mainly wearing chunky boots at the moment, with a maximum 2 inch block heel. I’m not sure if the fact I’m slightly elevated makes a difference to the effectiveness. As much as anything it’s a mental thing; not only that I’m doing something, but that I’m sticking to it.

Obviously this is only 5 days a week.

And of course there’s the chance that someone might walk in on me, and I’m not sure who can see me through the window, but I haven’t been busted yet!

Do you have any funny exercise habits?

Thanks, as always for reading! x

Be more penguin

I read this story yesterday, and it’s too cute not to share.

Four years ago a man in Brazil found a penguin covered in oil and starving on a beach. He cleaned him, cared for him, named him (Dindim) and nursed him back to health before releasing him back into the wild.

Every year Dindim the penguin travels thousands of miles back to see the retired fisherman who rescued him, and spends 8 months living with him in his house.

Dindim the penguin

(image from Metro newspaper)

You can read the full story here

Isn’t that just precious?

I think there’s a life lesson in there too. Not to swim thousands of miles cross the sea every year. But to not forget people who have been there for us. To show some love and appreciation. You don’t have to spend 8 months with them. Just a call, text, or visit to let them know you appreciate them.

Everyone needs a Dindim.

Be someone’s Dindim today.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

 

How to make cloud bread

If you follow me on instagram you may have seen me post some pictures a couple of weeks ago of cloud bread.

Apparently, cloud bread is “taking the internet by storm” (really?!).  I saw it on a link on Facebook and checked it out purely out of curiosity (3 ingredient, low carb bread? HOW???) And then I decided to give it a go.

It’s made with cream cheese, eggs and cream of tartare or bicarbonate of soda. This sounded completely unfeasible to me. How could that make anything resembling bread? But further research (i.e. google) insisted that the end result was a light and fluffy bread substitute.

Here’s what happened when me and my sous-chef (the husband) made it on a Sunday afternoon.

Separate three eggs – whites in one bowl, yolks in another.

Add three tablespoons of full fat cream cheese to the yolks and mix with a fork until it’s a smooth creamy consistency.

Egg yolks and cream cheese

Mixed egg yolks and cream cheese

Then add a quarter teaspoon of cream of tartare to the whites. I had no idea what cream of tartare was! When I first read the recipe, I thought it meant tartare sauce, which obviously made no sense at all. But you can find it in the baking aisle. Or use bicarbonate of soda, apparently.

Egg whites and cream of tartare

Whisk the whites until they form stiff peaks (oo-er).

Whisking egg whites and cream of tartare

Whisked egg whites close up

You could probably do this with a fork or a hand whisk but it would take ages and result in a very achey wrist. With an electric whisk it takes about a minute.

Egg whites in stiff peaks

Then, add the yolk and cheese mixture to the whites and fold it in. Don’t stir or mix. Just gently fold to keep everything light and fluffy.

On a baking tray, spoon the mixture into blobs.

Spoon mixture onto baking tray

Ready for the oven

Our mix made 8 cloud blobs. Then pop it in the oven on a low heat – around 150 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Keep checking as you don’t want them to get too brown or crispy.

Et voila! Little flat rounds of fluffy loveliness!

Cloud bread fresh out of the oven

Cloud bread close up

As with any substitute, don’t expect it to taste exactly the same. I mean, you only have to look at the ingredients to realise it’s not going to taste like bread. But it is really light and fluffy with a nice texture. Think of it as a vehicle for a filling and you’re more likely to get it. They’re also not as rigid as bread, so don’t overload them.

We had grilled chilli turkey burgers and salad on ours and they were lovely. Really nice.

Cloud bread burgers

I’m going to try making some with garlic powder as a garlic bread substitute. I also think adding some mixed herbs would work well for dipping in a stew and soaking up all that lovely gravy. And I’m going to try them with bacon too.

I think these are ideal when you want that feeling of eating bread without the carb overload or the sluggish feeling that some people get. I don’t have any gluten or wheat allergies but sometimes feel bloated after eating it, so these are a nice alternative.

Have you tried cloud bread? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

My weekend in pictures

Hey, how was everyone’s weekend? I had quite a busy one, with two Mother’s Day celebrations, and a night out for a friend’s birthday. As a result I’m rather jaded and tired today – roll on hometime!

On Saturday afternoon we went to a pub about half an hour drive from us, called the Warwickshire Lad, with my Mother in Law for lunch. She’s not big on Mother’s Day, and doesn’t like doing anything on the day itself, so Saturday afternoon was ideal. It seemed a few people had the same idea.

The pub is both traditional and contemporary inside; lots of wooden beams and a big original fireplace mix well with sunny windows and big mirrors for a really spacious and bright feel. The menu is a mix of good solid pub grub and gastropub specials.

I went for honey glazed duck breast with rum and blackcherry sauce and new potatoes. The duck was cooked perfectly, not too pink, a bit of crispiness to the skin and succulent and juicy meat. The sauce was subtle; no over riding flavour of either rum or cherry, but it was sweet and not too thick.

Duck with rum and blackcherry sauce

The husband went for Fillet Steak Boston,. which he was incredibly excited about (steak, scallops and whisky sauce; all box tickers for him) but unfortunately it didn’t quite deliver – the steak was medium to well done, rather than medium as requested, and the sauce lacked flavour. A bit disappointing for a £20 main course.

What wasn’t disappointing was my new most bargainous dress – just £6 from the New Look sale! It has bell sleeves, which I love, and a pleasingly swishy skirt. I matched it with tan suede boots and a tan fringed bag.

Looking forward to the weather being warmer and being able to bust this out with bare legs and sandals.

On Saturday night we went to a rock bar in town. I debuted my new Collection Lasting Colour lipstick, which actually isn’t new at all – I bought it months and months ago after seeing it on Holly’s blog (Closing Winter) but haven’t got round to wearing it.

Collection Aubergine Kiss lipstick

Aubergine Kiss lipstick

It’s called Aubergine Kiss and is much darker in real life – a deep black cherry which is very vampy and gothic.

I also wore my new tassel jacket, which is frickin’ awesome, and received many compliments (as well as a description of a gothic Big Bird from Sesame Street!). It was, believe it or not, from Tesco, and reduced to just £20.

F&F tassel jacket

There’s no way I couldn’t keep it. It’s actually the same fabric as my feathery skirt from H&M, but don’t worry, I won’t be wearing them together!

Sunday morning loomed too quickly and I was feeling somewhat delicate, but had to pull myself together to celebrate Mothers Day with my own Mom. She and my sister came over, I cooked baked lamb and potatoes (so much yum) and we drank lots of wine, took lots of selfies and laughed a lot.

A most enjoyable Sunday afternoon and evening.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x