Saturday, 20 August 2016

MY HEART SWINGS BETWEEN THE NEED FOR ROUTINE & THE URGE TO RUN


Recently I've been struggling. I've lost count of the amount of times I've opened the laptop, tried to think of something to write about, stared blankly at the screen, before giving up & closing the laptop again. I haven't done a single freelance piece since I started my new career in digital marketing. I don't suppose I can call myself a writer anymore...


What I have been doing is cooking. I've been doing a lot of cooking. Ava & I have even been experimenting with the odd bit of baking. I've also been painting and decorating our little flat. Oh, and watching Outlander. I have been watching a lot of Outlander...


I've been running out of ideas of places we could set off to and spend the day that didn't involve booking an overnight stay. I adore a Scottish road trip that involves staying away overnight. But I prefer to leave the little one at home during those particular adventures. Mainly because those ones usually involved sitting up till 3am drinking craft beers with nips of whisky and talking total nonsense into the night...


But I had been reliably informed that Culross was not only close, but pretty. And I am a sucker for a pretty village. So we set off to see. And we weren't even letting the lashing rain or the grey skies put us off. My sister joined us on our journey & there were lots of laughs along the way which included a first time venture over the Kincardine Bridge for all three of us, some seriously loud car karaoke to Justin Timberlake & Ava's own interpretation of Eye Spy. Don't ask because it's too complicated to explain let alone actually play...


Culross was indeed gorgeous. A village it felt like time had forgot. With a tiny population of approximately 400, it's tiny cobbled streets were a labyrinth of exciting little discoveries. The kind of place where you felt yourself actually inhale as you tried to squeeze the car through narrow gaps and winding alleys. So we sensibly dumped the car and decided to investigate on foot while discussing the merits of having the kind of hair that looks purposefully beachy & tousled in the rain (me) to the merits of having such an amazing figure that you rarely have to send anything you order online back (my sister). We're a silver lining kinda bunch, us Young girls...


We discovered beautiful, almost medieval looking houses, occupied today by people who I wonder even realise how lucky they are to live in them. We were extremely grateful that the only pub in the village managed to squeeze us into a table in the corner despite being fully booked. We ate steaming bowls of soup with massive wedges of the softest & doughiest bread I have tasted. Ava's fish and chips tasted as if they had been caught that very morning from the sea only a few metres away...


We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a steam train as it hurtled through the village. Ava even managed to get a toot from the driver, upon which she squealed with delight. We perused the palace gardens, took a tour up the hill to the abbey church and looked out onto the beach. We watched the grey outline of the nearby power station, set against the gloomy backdrop of grey skies and dark, stormy seas.

On the drive home I thought about my long standing desire and need for stability and routine in Ava's life. I thought about how conflicted that often made me feel against my continual desire for adventure.I thought about what a hopeless romantic I was. And about just how in love with Scotland I have recently become.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

L O V E S

  1. Atlantic Brasserie. I attended an extremely well thought out & put together bloggers event at Atlantic Brasserie last week & once again the food did not disappoint. We were treated to cocktails (French 75's are forever my favourite), wine & an amazing three course dinner. The scallop & black pudding starter was delicious, the Bouillabaisse one of the nicest I've tasted and the fact that the Creme Brulee is brought to the table flaming obviously blew my tiny mind.
  2. Ticking off jobs. So I know it's not the wildest evening ever. But last Saturday, while Ava amused herself in front of Toy Story, I sorted through the massive pile of papers I had been saying I would file for months. I also cleaned my make-up brushes and gutted out all the kitchen cupboards. You know that weird, smug, satisfactory feeling you get when you finally tick stuff off your do list? That feeling is like crack to me.
  3. Getting fit again. I have a small confession to make - I haven't done any exercise this year. Like basically none, despite spending a good part of last year running between 35-40 miles per week. But I miss running. I get this weird sort of nostalgia type pang whenever I drive past my old running route or hear one of my running tracks on the radio. So not only do I start running again soon but I am also starting some gym and group sessions with AG Fitness Training as of next month! Wish me luck!
  4. Trying new things. Despite being a pretty adventurous eater, I am extremely squeamish at the thought of eating snails. Step in aforementioned blogger event where we were all treated to garlic snails as an entree. I would be lying if I said I loved them. But I did manage to eat two and went home feeling pretty proud of myself.
  5. Bath time. I may have mentioned once (or a million) times how much Ava and I love our little rituals. Like our standard Friday night movie, take out and Haribo habit. Recently I've also been jumping into the bath along with Ava of an evening. It's the perfect time to hear all about her day, have some bubble wars (she always wins) and there's no nicer feeling than slipping on your PJ's post bath feeling all squeaky clean and smelling of Matey...
  6. Cooking again. I'm happy to report I am well and truly back in the kitchen again! A recent highlight was the Wild Mushroom Soup I made the other day which is literally the nicest mushroom soup I have ever tasted. I found the recipe online and my freezer is currently full of the stuff. I've also been experimenting with all things Moroccan thanks to finding a little jar of amazing Moroccan tagine paste in the back of the cupboard during my little cleaning frenzy last Saturday!
  7. Midnight feasts. I don't know about you guys but if I eat my dinner any time before 8pm then you can bet your ass I will be starving come bedtime. As such I have found myself developing a little midnight cereal habit. There's something about standing in the middle of your kitchen at 3am in your pants eating bowls of Rice Krispies while the rest of the world sleeps that just feels so indulgent & fun. I guess I need to get out more.
  8. Ava growing up. It probably sounds a bit silly to some but when Ava came running through to me the other day to show me how she was now able to put her own hair into a ponytail, it made my heart want to burst with love. I suppose at 4 masterminding the little things that us adults take for granted is a pretty big deal. And seeing how excited it made her, I couldn't have felt prouder.
  9. Friends & beer (or beer with friends). Real friends are the friends who will happily trail half of Glasgow with you on a seriously wet day just so you can try out that new restaurant on the other side of town that everyone is talking about or find the only pub in Glasgow that has your favourite beer on draft. The restaurant was Horn Please and was closed (gutted). We did however make it to The Scaramouche for a pint of my beloved Eilean-Or. Which made me pretty happy.
  10. Music. I think I might be the only person left on the planet who still buys CD's. But I can't help it. I love the feel of CD's, I love the sound of CD's and I love the way they look piled into the old wine crate I use as a CD rack. Recent purchases include Bears Den (amazing) and the new Mumford & Son's album. I've made a promise to myself that I will see Mumford live this year. Make sure I keep it!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

L A T E L Y

  • It is completely acceptable to basically be working your way through the menu at your local burger joint? Like sometimes I don't even order what I actually want because it's not next on the list. That's normal, right? Right?
  • That girl of mine sure does love the camera. And spending time with her adoring aunties. I snapped this pic at a recent lunch at The McMillan with my sister. I sure do love those faces.
  • Not a usual fan of chain restaurants, but I cannot get enough of Carluccio's. I recently visited with Ava and her Dad for a spot of lunch and despite ordering a salad, pretty much ate most of Ava's spaghetti.
  • Delicious coffee, incredible cake and the loveliest of catch ups with my good pal Kirsty recently at The Glad Cafe in Shawlands.


  • Salads, salads, salads. Because if you are going to insist on dining out as often as I have this year, something has to give. And I don't want it to be my skinny jeans.
  • Speaking of salads, I used some leftover fillet steak I had and a jar of the best Salsa Verde I have ever tasted (courtesy of Ava's dad), to create that beaut looking steak salad up there one night for dinner. Still thinking about it.
  • I trialled out these Regime Coconut Quench capsules for thirty days in the hope it would make me look 21 again. I still don't look 21.
  • My car went into the garage for a couple of days which gave me the opportunity to work out how the hell I would ever get to work through the medium of public transport. Train life is surprisingly easy. Subway coffee is surprisingly disgusting.


  • Espresso Martinis with the gorgeous Charlene. No matter where we go or what we do, we always end up at Las Iguanus. Dem Caipirinha's though...
  • An amazing dish of smoked kippers with Hollandaise and a poached egg at The Granary in Leith recently.
  • Wearing flowers in my hair and basically nicking all of Ava's accessories these days because what do you mean I don't look 21?
  • Delicious little feast at Topolo Bamba. Worth a visit for those fish tacos alone.


  • Pancakes, pancakes, pancakes. Ava never deviates from her favourite breakfast & why would you when you can eat pancakes with bacon, Nutella & sprinkles of a morning? Don't knock it till you've tried it...
  • Beer, beer, beer. Loved this little beer tasting board from Brew Dog a few weeks ago. And I even managed to be within a one mile radius of Tantrum Donuts and not go in. Progress.
  • Bed, bed, bed. I am hardly the biggest night owl anyway but I have been making a particular effort to go to bed REALLY (see granny) early recently and I am feeling so much better for it.
  • Pizza/pasta split at Firebird. The food? Delicious. The service? Not great. Bad enough to put me off ever going back.


  • New Loreal purchases. Their infallible foundation & primer are the stuff dreams are made of. I managed to get through 3 fun days (don't ask) without having to touch my make-up up once. 
  • Sunday roast cooking for pals. We ate beef, drank Prosecco and talked about slut dropping. Standard Sunday.
  • Fizz at Tabac with a dear friend. I'm always on the go and always making plans and there's certain people in my life that I don't get to catch up with as often as I would like. But the good friends are the ones you can go months without seeing then spend the evening chatting like you only saw each other yesterday. Those are the friendships that stick.
  • My little pirate all dressed up for her buddy's Pirate themed birthday party. Talk about 'getting into character' though. Ava spent the hour pre-party walking around the flat shouting 'oooh arrr' and threatening to make me 'walk the plank'. Funniest/cutest thing ever.


  • Heels & gin. My two secret weapons. Yours?
  • Hyperactive children doing some hotel type bed bouncing on a recent road trip to Perth. Come on, we've all done it.
  • Prosecco drinking on a boat bound for Bute a couple of weeks ago. The 'going' is always so exciting and fun. Although the 'coming home' was filled with lots of belly laughs as well.
  • A recent Friday night dinner with Ava courtesy of Catch fish and chips. This is my second attempt at liking Catch and I'm still not on board. It just never hits the spot like the cheap chippy down the road from me. They say you can't buy class...

Monday, 18 July 2016

CURRENT: RECIPES

I started to write this blog post and then decided to check when the last time I blogged any recipes was. It was the 2nd of March.

The. 2nd. Of. March.

That would explain why I'm scared to look at my bank balance or go near one of those weighing machines in Boots. I seem to have eaten out or ordered in a ridiculous amount over the past few months. So I only have 5 new recipes for you lot. I want to say I'm sorry but it simply wouldn't be true. However in the interests of my finances and my waistline, I am very much back to the cooking grindstone. And I promise not to leave it it so long next time...

Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki Thighs
I know. A slow cooker recipe in summer. But you know, Scotland. I've made this a heap of times and as there aren't many ingredients it's really easy to put together. Don't be put off by the lack of ingredients though. This is one tasty dish and can be thrown in the slow cooker before you leave for work. The smell that will greet you when you get home is worth it alone.

To serve 4-6 people you will need: 10-12 chicken thighs, 60gm brown sugar, 100ml dark soy sauce, 100ml mirin, 1 tsp chopped ginger, 3 crushed garlic cloves, 4 tsp cornflour mixed with cold water, spring onions, rice to serve

  1. Brown the chicken in a frying pan then bung it in the slow cooker with all the ingredients EXCEPT the cornflour
  2. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours
  3. When it's ready transfer the chicken to a plate and shred the meat (discarding any skin or bones)
  4. Pour the sauce into a small saucepan over a medium heat and add the cornflour and water. Stir until thickened. Serve the chicken on a bed of rice with the sauce poured over and some shredded spring onions as a garnish. Voila!  

Beef Stronganoff

I'm not sure that this is a stroganoff. Maybe it's a goulash. I kinda just went with what I had in the cupboard and some leftover beef I had from a Sunday roast. I had no brandy but managed to procure a very old and questionable looking bottle of cooking sherry from the back of the cupboard. It still ended up pretty tasty though so I insist you try it. You will have to excuse my instructions though. And by excuse I mean completely ignore. I made this for one and just guessed at random amounts while throwing stuff in the frying pan.
  1. Get home from work and curse the fact you were too lazy to stop at the supermarket on your way home. Randomly gaze at various take away menus before deciding that you cannot justify another take away and thus will just have to cook something.
  2. Open the fridge and stare at it for a few minutes. Re-consider pizza. Remember you are going to Cyprus in a few days and need to be in a bikini. Open fridge again.
  3. Throw oil, butter, sliced onions, mushrooms and some garlic into a pan and cook until softened. Slice your leftover cooked beef joint into bite sizes pieces. Enough for one.
  4. Locate dodgy bottle of cooking sherry and throw in a glug. Try not to lose your eyebrows because this will flambe. 
  5. Once alcohol has cooked off add your beef, about a teaspoon of dijon mustard and a good sprinkling of smoked paprika and stir. Next add about 100ml of beef stock and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes or so.
  6. Add cream or creme fraiche and stir to combine. Switch the heat off. Throw in some parsley if you are middle class and just so happen to have some knocking about the bottom of the fridge. Add some seasoning and a squeeze of lemon if you are feeling exotic.
  7. Serve with rice, mash or big chunks of sourdough.
  8. Congratulate yourself on not ordering pizza then proceed to demolish a family sized bag of Maltesars in front of Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Spicy Butterbean, Chickpea & Squash Stew

I think this is meant to be a main course but to be honest this is more like a side dish for me. So when I made this dish for Meat Free Monday I accompanied it with my bodyweight in brown rice, a lot of grilled halloumi & lashings of Sriracha. But if you have had an indulgent weekend and want to make yourself feel a little bit better then this recipe from Delicious Magazine is probably the way to go. 

Brussel Caesar Salad with Bacon Croutons

I know what you're thinking. Warm brussel sprouts in a salad? But trust me when I tell you that this recipe from the How Sweet It Is blog is amazing. And come on, BACON FAT CIABATTA CROUTONS. What's not to love?

Rigatoni with mushrooms, caramelised onions & goats cheese

One thing that has developed from my recent bout of cooking laziness is that I am now cooking a lot of pasta. One for easiness and two because I've decided that life is too short to not eat pasta just because it's a Tuesday.  But I have most definitely saved the best till last with this recipe. I replaced the Ziti with Rigatoni because the Morrison's next to my flat is not that cosmopolitan but apart from that I followed the recipe to the letter and actually let out a weird little noise when I took my first mouthful. It's that good.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

A SUNDAY WELL SPENT

Weekends are a bit of a big deal for me these days. Until 8 months ago, I worked shifts. And a Sunday for me usually involved working until about 10pm. Now that I am an official bonefide nine to fiver, the weekend brings about a lovely, buzzy excitement and I fill them with as much food, sight seeing and fun things to do as I possibly can.

This massive change in my work pattern is about more than just seeking two consecutive days off in a row. It's symbolic of where I am in my life and of who I have become. Of how my outlook and goals have changed. Our albeit small (but perfectly formed) little family unit of 2 works so much better now I have an office based job. Ava's nursery hours tie in perfectly with my work ones and I no longer have the stress of trying to find a sitter so I can work the odd Saturday. Truth is, working Monday to Friday 9-5pm as a single mama, is pretty much domestic bliss. 

This weekend ended up being a pretty great one. It started on Friday with a road trip to Perth. Two mamas and two very excited girls. And although not everything went entirely to plan (thanks to a whole heap of rush hour traffic, a terrible nights sleep and two pretty grumpy children), there were still lots of laughs along the way.

My first child free Saturday in a while wasn't exactly how I had originally planned it. But turns out that plan changes, much like life, can creep up and surprise you when you are least expecting it. And it turns out eating room service, drinking beer & talking most of the way through a movie while behaving like a bit of a teenager is kinda fun...

The fact Ava spent last night with her Dad meant a very longed for lie in and let me tell you that I devoured every delicious extra second of sleep this morning. Not waking until way after 10am, only to make a massive mug of tea and find myself snuggled back under my duvet again. The only thing that actually managed to rouse me from my sleepy little cacoon was a phone call from my sister & talk of a road trip to Luss.

So with the camera in the boot, caffeine in our blood and Swifty on the radio, we set off to Luss. Where we ate seafood at The Luss Seafood Bar, snapped pretty pictures and talked way too much about boys.

But the weekend's not over yet. So despite a pile of dirty laundry higher than me, a million emails that need replying to and a car that I have been saying I will clean out for ages, I am snuggled back into that old bed of mine. Watching Outlander through one eye and the clock through the other. About to end a really sweet little weekend with some Chinese food in what must be the only restaurant in Giffnock that I haven't actually tried yet.

Recently, I haven't been able to escape this feeling that better days are coming.

And I think they might be called Saturday & Sunday.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Smoke n' Mirrors

Recently I've been thinking about photographs. I follow a few photographers & bloggers on Instagram and their photos quite frankly put mine to shame. I was also prompted to think about photographs when I read this blog post about why it's ok to only post the good stuff and why we shouldn't apologise for it. Gillian's words really resonated with me.We shouldn't apologise if we only feel like posting the good stuff. Because a picture doesn't tell a full story. 

A picture might tell a thousand words. 

But it can be any words you like. Can't it?

You can pretend you have the best life in the world through the social media platform that is Instagram. You can set up lifestyle shots that would make The Londoner look like a novice blogger if you so wish. But you could be absolutely miserable at the time. I'm aware of the fact that my Instagram might sometimes be deceiving. But that's simply cause I don't bother posting the bad bits. Because who even that does anyway?

I'm not saying I expend a huge amount of energy pretending to be happy when I'm not. But it's a lot easier to put out the good stuff than post the bad. And while I have no issue being brutally honest about the harder bits of life on this blog, I am much more attuned to doing it retrospectively. After I have got the rubbish bit over with and I'm feeling better and more positive about the future.

My Instagram feed is generally full of happy things. Because my life is generally happy. And being happy is good. No, actually being happy is great. And it's a luxury I believe one should never take for granted. But in the interests of that searing honesty I seem to be getting known for, remember this the next time you are looking through my Instragram feed...

Behind every sickening selfie of a wonderfully annoying but amazing mother/daughter relationship is often a tantrumming child just got sent to her bedroom for being cheeky.

Behind every well put together lifestyle blog post is a girl who spent the hour before she wrote it looking at the Reiss sale online & Googling her favourite Swifty YouTube video because she simply couldn't think of anything to write about.

Behind every good post holiday tan is usually an extra flattering filter.

Behind every amazing meal and glass of champagne is a mum who barely scrapes enough together to pay the rent but can't live without her indulgences.

Behind every good food pic is a cold dinner because I've spent so long messing around trying to get the best shot.

Behind every picture there's a story. And you can drink as much fizz as you like, eat out in as many nice restaurants as you fancy & go on as many nights away as you can afford to. But it's not going to change the fact that no matter what you post on Instagram, it will still always rain in Scotland ;)

Post via lovethesales.com 

Saturday, 9 July 2016

WHEN YOU TRY YOUR BEST & DON'T SUCCEED


You may or may not have heard me mention my need for control on this blog. And if you haven't then you've blatantly just joined us. But having to control things is something that I struggle with a lot. And something that I have only really started to try and deal with in the past couple of months.

Disclaimer: When I talk about my 'control issues', I am in no way, shape or form of a controlling nature towards another person. I don't tell other people where to go, how to act or how to conduct their life. I don't have time for that and as a girlfriend, I consider myself to be fairly relaxed, although I probably have my moments just like any other girl...

My issues are all of the narcissistic variety. If I make plans then I have to know exactly what is happening in intricate detail. You can't be texting me two hours before our lunch date because you are still trying to work out where we are going. For a start we need to book a table because what if they are really busy? And I need to know the exact time we are meeting because what if I want a glass of wine and oh my god what if the trains are off. See? Anal.

I can't stand anyone else doing my dishes or hanging up my laundry because they simply just don't do it right and I would much prefer to take on the housework myself. Huffing and puffing and playing the martyr with full regalia but actually knowing full well I wouldn't let anyone else do it anyway because they just wouldn't do it right. Everything in my flat has a specific place and I actually had to get rid of one cleaner because she kept tidying everything up wrong. I have a very particular way of doing things. Much like Liam Neeson has a very particular set of skills. If you do it wrong then I will find you & I will kill you. I jest. Kinda.

So as I mentioned I have been working on trying to make myself a little better. Of trying to deal with the fact that I sort of fall to pierces a little when I feel like I am losing control of situations. Trying to stop being so bloody anally retentive. To relax a little. Unfortunately I was never one for self-analysis. A recent exercise where I had to draw symbols relating to each of my flaws and then place them strategically over different parts of the room left me cold and wanting to flee from the environment immediately. Simply because I wasn't in control. I always have to know what is coming next. But life is not like that. Is it?

There are a variety of situations in life that you simply can't control. Whether it's relationships ending, friendships dissolving or circumstances changing. And as someone with strong beliefs in the old adage that 'everything happens for a reason' and as a big believer in fate and letting the universe decide what is best for you, it's surprising really that I struggle with issues of control so much. Recently I've been starting to let go. I've been accepting that not everything is under my control. And there's an inner peace that comes with that. I fought hard for a relationship because I desperately wanted to believe it could be different. Instead of looking back at that now with regret or worry, I am proud of the steps I took to make sure my voice was heard and my stance was clear. I can move forward to the next chapter of my life with a calm contentment that I did all I could. That genuinely feels really, really good. The old control freak in me would never have been able to say that.

And this is just the first step. I went out for lunch with a friend the other day and we didn't even decide where we were going until I was on my way into town. I've been leaving the dishes for a couple of days instead of doing them immediately after I finish my dinner (it's killing me) and I even let someone else help me hang up the washing up the other day.

More importantly I have let go of the things in life that I just can't control. And I have been embracing the life of a messy, unorganised, sometimes even late, Tinder dating single mother with full aplomb. And not knowing what is around the corner is actually turning out to be a pretty great feeling.

So stay tuned...