Cooking up a storm with Simply Cook



Simply Cook

*Written in collaboration with Simply Cook  

Cooking is something that I really enjoy and I cook the majority of my meals from scratch but there are times when I just fall flat with new ideas and inspiration for family-friendly meals to try out and our weekly meals can end up getting a little repetitive. Now that we are back in local lockdown where I live and I want to do more than just bake loads of banana bread, I feel it's the best time shake things up and be more creative in the kitchen in a stress-free way and hopefully bring more joy into our lives with good food.

This is where Simply Cook comes in and unlike other meal boxes, this recipe box is very budget-friendly (your first box starting at £3) and contains four easy to follow recipes with nonperishable herbs, spices, pastes, oils, garnishes and rubs that you won't find in a supermarket.

I have to say I didn't know what to expect or if the recipes would be realistic and doable for a busy family as well as take into account people with a smaller budget but I have to say right from the start I've been very impressed. The recipes in my box included Cuban Mojo Pasta which was delicious, Chilli Con Carne, Stroganoff and Thai Red Curry, all of which were hits with the kids.

Recipe Box

The recipes cards are very clear and they strike the balance between creating dishes that feel a bit special and a step up from normal everyday meals yet have simplicity at the heart of everything with each dish only needed 4-6 basic fresh items, some of which I already had at home and what I didn't was easy to pick up at my local supermarket so absolutely no need for specialist shops or additional artisan ingredients.

But the main highlight without a doubt is is the flavour these dishes pack, I really felt like I've taken my home cooking to a new level. The Cuban Mojo Pasta was probably the best pasta dish I have made in years and a lot of that came down to the carefully balanced flavour pots - with this dish, in particular, my kit included a seasoning pot, garlic paste and a white wine reduction. Everyone enjoyed this including the kids and it was a breeze to make and I have to say I impressed myself.

The bonus about the Simply Cook cooking box subscription is that it's letterbox friendly so you don't need to wait around for delivery and it's also contact-free. Each box contains 4 meals per delivery and everything has a long shelf life plus if you have had enough it's super easy to cancel. If you're stuck for ideas or just want to change up your weekly meals then I really recommend trying out Simply Cook.

Simply Cook

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At Home Hair care tips


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*Contains Affiliate links 

2020 has been an unexpected year, to say the least with everyone in the UK going through a longer than normal period at home during the lockdown and with Salons closed for weeks on end many of us had to take our haircare into our own hands and I should know, I shaved my unruly hair which had simply gone out of control. As we are still living through this pandemic, I am actually in a local lockdown in Wales, once again I am looking for ways to keep my hair looking good at home so I thought I would share some tips 

1. Wash your hair the right way

Did you know that you should be washing your hair at lukewarm temperature? As nice as a hot shower is it can strip your hair of essential oils and often leaves it looking drier and lifeless so turn the temperature down and be kind to your hair.

It's also really important to make sure you rise out all remaining product, I know sometimes we overlook these things especially when we are in a rush but the leftover product can cause buildup and oily roots. 

2. Avoiding Damage

Chemicals and heat are the harbingers of doom for thinning hair, as they cause drying and breakage that exacerbate existing hair woes. If colouring your hair is a way of life, consider natural dye alternatives, like henna, that won’t cause the same damage as bleach or other chemical concoctions. In terms of styling with heat (blow drying, curling, flat ironing, etc.), try to skip it as much as possible, or at least opt for protective products and high-end tools that reduce the potential for damage.

3. Give your hair a break from Ponytails

When I had long hair I often used to put it up in a ponytail as being a busy mum of two meant I'm limited for time to style my hair but in the longterm, this wasn't a great option. Despite being convenient, pulling hair up into a ponytail daily can cause stress and strain on your hair and scalp which can cause breakages so do have a break every now and then and wear it down. 

4. Rejuvenate Follicles

For many men and women, the appearance of thicker hair just isn’t enough, and thinning might eventually reach the point where no amount of salon processes or targeted products provide adequate improvement. The good news is, technology has supplied the advanced solutions necessary to meet demand, thanks to low-level light therapy (LLLT).

With a laser cap, you can safely and conveniently restore thinning hair. This product is portable, hands-free, and FDA-cleared to successfully and safely regrow hair on the scalp. For those who have passed the point where haircuts and thickening shampoos can help, or anyone who wants thicker hair for real, cutting-edge LLLT is a great option to explore.

5. Shorter Hair Styles for a fuller look

Sure, you wish you could hang on to your rock-star locks forever, but as we age, our hair naturally thins, leaving long tresses looking straggly and sparse. The quickest way to add the illusion of volume is by cutting off damaged ends, and indeed, considering significantly shorter ‘dos’, in some cases.

By losing several inches off longer locks, you reduce the weight that pulls hair down, highlighting thinning and flattening your hairdo. You’ll see more volume and bounce immediately when you chop to a shoulder or bob length, and when you eliminate split ends, your hair will look a lot healthier, as well.

For men or women unafraid of a pixie, cropping closer to the scalp is a great way to camouflage thinning hair. This might sound counterintuitive, but unless you have significant bald patches, this trick actually makes the hair you have look much thicker. Here are some more tips on Hair Care in winter.

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Fun ways to include ZENB Veggie Sticks in your lifestyle



porridge toppings

*This blog post is part of a paid advertisement with ZENB

I like to think we have a well-balanced diet and enjoy plenty of time outdoors being active but I am still all about getting the kids and myself eating as many veggies as possible (can you really ever have enough veggies?). So I was really excited to take part in the ZENB Challenge of incorporating it's new Veggie Sticks into our diets every day for a week, to help get that delicious vegetable taste into some of our most-loved recipes in a new and exciting way.

ZENB Veggie Sticks are a new delicious veggie snack that use as much of  the whole vegetable as possible, including the peel, core, stem and seeds to raise awareness of food waste and create organic, gluten-free, plant-based snacks. I have to say they are like nothing else I have seen on the market. I really love that they use whole vegetables as it gives them a really deep flavour. 

Firstly what are ZENB Veggie Sticks?

ZENB Veggie Sticks are a new delicious veggie snack that uses as much of the whole vegetable as possible, including the peel, core, stem and seeds to raised awareness of food waste and creates organic, gluten-free, plant-based snacks. I have to say they are like nothing else I have seen on the market. I really love that they use the whole vegetables as it gives them a really deep flavour.

Available in four flavours - Beetroot Stick, Carrot Stick, Pumpkin Stick and Red Pepper Stick - the ZENB Veggies sticks are full of delicious ingredients such as vegetable, puffed brown rice and red quinoa as well as being sweetened with ingredients such as agave and date syrup.

beetroot bar

So the challenge was to include these Veggie Sticks into our life each day for one week and I tried to get as creative as possible to help switch things up. Here is how it went

Day 1

We took a trip to our local National Trust property, the first time visiting since lockdown began to lift, so made sure to eat before we went but of course, I had some ZENB Veggie Sticks on hand as a great little plant-based snack. My favourite is the Red Pepper Stick, while my boys love the Carrot and Pumpkin ones.

porridge toppings

Day 2

Porridge is a very popular breakfast in our house and I'm always adding extras to the bowls such as sliced banana, shredded coconut or nuts and seeds or whatever I have on hand and needs to be used up. So this time we crumbled some ZENB Pumpkin Stick along with a handful of pumpkin seeds on top and it was such a delicious way to start the day.

Day 3

We have made having a green juice or smoothie a bit of a daily tradition in our house, it's an easy way to get the kids to have things like Spinach and Kale without them even realising. This time I whizzed up two ZENB Veggie Sticks in my processor before adding them to some Kale, Spinach, Lime and Apple for an easy peasy nutrient-packed midday pick me up

healthy breakfast

Day 4

We had a really busy day planned and started the morning with a big breakfast before heading out for a walk with my mother. I put together a small "snack pack" for a bit of an impromptu picnic and took some ZENB Veggie Sticks, apples, crackers and mini cucumbers to keep us going until lunchtime and make sure any hangry moments stayed away.

Day 5

Each week I like to bake a batch or two of "anything goes" muffins, so if I have a few ripe bananas or apples that need to be used up they go in. I decided to see whether the kids would enjoy a whizzed up ZENB Carrot Stick and Pumpkin Stick added into the mix. I can tell you that they were very yummy and the muffins were soon gobbled up and they made for a great midday snack

veggie muffins

Day 6

Despite the hit and miss weather on day 6 we made a break for it to the forest for an hour hike and to blow some steam off. I always find that halfway through a hike we naturally slow down and find a place to sit for a moment, enjoy an apple and snack, that powers us through. Having these ZENB Veggie Sticks on hand is perfect when you go for a last-minute outing as they are so quick and easy.

Day 7

With day 7 came the rain and a bit of a say at home day and for me that calls for a warming soup and tomato soup is always a winner in our house. So I thought why not add in a crumbled Red pepper Veggie Stick to the mix as a crouton and it actually worked really well.

healthy soup

ZENB Veggie Sticks are a tasty way to add plant-based snacking to a balanced diet and as they are very portable, are great for when you're on the go. They are also certified organic by the Soil Association, a source of fibre, free from artificial flavours and preservatives and packed with delicious ingredients.

ZENB Veggie Sticks which have recently launched in the UK can be ordered online at and delivered straight to your door with the boxes perfectly sized to fit through your letterbox. You can currently try a trial box fro £5 plus free delivery just go to the ZENB website for more. T&C's apply.

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Glamping at Castle Knights Usk



Like a lot of people we had to cancel a lot of travel plans this year, in fact, I was more organised this year than previous ones and had a road trip through Italy on the cards as well as a short break to France and the Channel Islands in the diary but just goes to show you never really can plan because who would of expected a pandemic in 2020, not me!

The one big positive about 2020 has been discovering and thoroughly enjoying the fantastic countryside we have on our doorstep in South Wales. We have been spending quite a lot of time in the Brecon Beacons slowly ticking off mountain summits and forest walks and it's an area of Wales we love and we had looked for a quick glamping getaway in the area but everywhere was booked out.

The boys had been keen to do some canoeing on the River Wye this summer so instead, we changed tack and came across the wonderful Castle Knights camping glamping in the grounds of Usk Castle and near Monmouth and the Wye Valley, it was perfect.

There are a few different options to stay in from Shepard's hut and Yurt to the 'Tom's Barrel" and the one we chose - Glyndwrs Fort which comfortably sleeps up to 4 people. My boys love knights and castles so this was a real treat especially as the inside of Glydwrs Fort has a real castle feel. The fort is still very much glamping but with perks obviously, such as lighting, plug sockets (great for charging your phone), a small radio and a nice seating area on the deck out the front and although there's no heating but we stayed nice and toasty in our season 3 sleeping bags (in fact at one point we were a little too warm).

The rest of the campsite while quite small it's car-free so safe for younger campers and is very well equipped and has excellent outdoor cooking facilities which provide enough shelter even in bad weather. The two large fire pits were also a hit with the kids who enjoyed roasted marshmallows after an early evening stroll around the Castle. There is also an outdoor swing, plenty of logs to sit on as well as tables for all the campers to spread out safely as per social distancing rules.

The campsite is also in a perfect location, right next to the Castle as well as a very short walk to Usk high street which has a lovely bakery and shop for all your needs. Usk itself is very pretty and it's worth taking a stroll through the area.

We also made sure to make the most of the location and as I mentioned we were keen to go canoeing on the River Wye so we headed to Symonds Yat which is a really fantastic place for walks and hikes and hired a family canoe. I was a bit nervous about staying safe but Wye Dean canoe hire had really good protocols in place, social distancing and mask-wearing were done throughout the hiring process and buoyancy aids are cleaned and sanitised after each use.

We had a great time on the river in truly stunning surroundings and for a moment it felt, despite everything, like a real holiday and it's been moments like these that have made summer for the boys.

*This is not an AD, we paid for our trip ourselves and thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Castle Knights Glamping. 

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Ways to Support the Noah's Ark Conservation Project



This is a paid post to help raise awareness of Noah's Ark Conservation project 

We all know the world has hit a crisis point, not just because of the pandemic but for a variety of reasons including climate change and plastic waste and it has without a doubt had a big impact on the environment and natural world.

We need to do what we can to conserve wildlife and nature for future generations but the time has come for some real action that's where Noah's Ark comes in. Noah's Ark is planning to build a state-of-the-art animal and ecological conservation park in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, covering 100 square kilometres making it the largest and most ambitious conservation project in history, with building planning to start in 2021.

conservation project

The project will feature a national park, worlds biggest aquarium, geodomes replicating environments such as Antarctica and the Amazon rain forest. The main aims of the project are to protect the animal species especially those on the endangered list and to create effective breeding programmes. The project also wants to create non-for-profit organisations to help increase awareness and reduce the negative impact we have on the animal kingdom as well as encourage future generations to get involved. The plan is also for an experiential leisure-based visitor park that helps to reconnect adults and children with nature.

If we ever needed something like this it's now, with the animal kingdom more vulnerable than ever due to as I said climate change but also over-development farming and big game hunting and poaching which is pushing more species to the brink of extinction. We must not forget that we need the natural world to stay in balance for our own survival.

This project is going to cost around £5 billion and needs as much help as possible to raise funds and there are three easy way to help.

1. Sign the petition here
2. Stream for free "It takes the world to make a Miracle" with all funds raised going to Noah's Ark
3. Donate to the cause through Go Fund Me
4. Purchase a product from Noah's Gift Shop

We need to do what we can to secure a happy and healthy future for our children, nature and wildlife who occupy this planet. This is a commitment we all need to make so projects like this are really important.
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10 Ways to Get Your Start In the Creative Industries

creative bristol

*Contains affiliate links 

A career in creative industries is something that is appealing to many people but it's now always the easiest industry to get a foothold into, although with a clear plan and ambition it really is possible. I always knew I wanted a creative job when I was younger and I feel very privileged to be able to write for a living but it took a lot of work to be able to do this full time. Firstly I started out about 15yrs ago writing for local and community-based magazines while studying in Photography and Photojournalism at college and then University, although I strongly feel you don't have to go to University achieve your goals. 

There are plenty of opportunities in the creative industries but often you have to go out and find them. Besides writing for local magazines during my studies I also worked for an events company as a festival & live bands photographer, learning the importance of selling rights to images, networking and being professional. Not matter your creative interests from costume design to being the playwright, being a sound engineer or lighting specialist, you need to get your foot in the door, and here are ten ways to get your start in the creative industry.

1. Have a Goal In Mind

You could say the same for any career, but that doesn't mean it isn't always essential to have a goal in mind when you try to get started in the industry. Ask yourself what you want to achieve and where you want to achieve it, as this will give you the clarity you need to follow the correct path.

This goal will be necessary should your career take you in another direction than expected. Without a clear plan, you might get waylaid and distracted, which does happen often, however, by focusing on this goal, you can stay on track as much as possible, which will help influence your decisions. Also, remember that you can use different experiences to build a broad portfolio which can be a good thing.

2. Know Your Stuff

Knowledge of the area of the creative industry you want to work in is always going to be useful when trying to secure an internship or apprenticeship. However, University isn't for everybody, but this is okay. Some people can follow the autodidactic approach and learn on their own and in their own time.

Depending on what you plan on doing, you're best off doing your research in these areas. If you plan on being a playwright, studying the likes of Arthur Miller as well as contemporary talents like Tracy Letts, will give you an idea of what is successful. Conversely, for carers in set design, video editing or lighting, you'll need to learn how to use the equipment.

pentax camera

3. Get Some Experience

Experience can be a horrible word for many people. They want experience, but they can't get experience because they can't get experience. This vicious cycle is the bane of many budding creatives. Still, it is not impossible to find the expertise you need, even if it is challenging.

Even if you can't get a paying job in the creative industries, you can look at apprenticeships or being an intern. Such positions will give you a front-row seat to the goings-on within the industry, and it will stand out on your CV for future employers. 

4. Immerse yourself in the creative world as much as possible

This suggestion might be redundant to most of you, especially if you feel you've spent every free minute lapping up the latest artist exhibitions, performances and action on stage. However, while you may have done this as a fan of the theatre, art, film or events and you need to consider looking at it with a more critical eye.

Rather than go and enjoy a production for what it is (although you should still try to do that, anyway), go and analyse parts of the show or exhibition that relates to your goal. Look at the set design or the costumes, think of the choreography. You can use this as inspiration for your productions if the time ever comes for that. 

Tate modern art
Enjoying the Art at the Tate St Ives

5. Make the Most of Social Media

Social media has plenty of bad traits. Yes, it can be toxic, it can be filled with misinformation, but it's also a spectacular way to get in touch with people involved in the industry. Sometimes, all it takes is for you to reach out and ask for advice or a quick chat to open doors for you.

You can also use social media to keep up with events, workshops and job opportunities. There is usually so much going on within the industry that you can find something to keep you busy every night of the week, and the more you show your face, the more people will remember you.

6. Meet People

This leads us straight into the benefits of networking. While the creative industry is more exciting than other sectors, it is still a business at the end of the day, so networking is just as essential here as it is in any other profession.

Networking won't just introduce you to new opportunities; it can also put you in touch with people who could help you out in the future. If you're a costume designer, you might need to source period outfits or sunglasses for a production, or if your an aspiring photographer and looking for reliable models, so you're better off having a contact before this need arises to save you rushing around and getting stressed.

7. Stay Positive

Just like any job search that seems endless, it can be challenging to stay positive in the creative industry. However, without a positive attitude, you may miss out on a wide range of opportunities that could fall into your lap.

Potential editors, directors and producers want to work with positive and passionate people, but if you get discouraged too quickly, you won't come across as the person they want working for their production, publication or exhibition. Rather than expect the worst to happen, remind yourself that it is always possible for you to get the job or role you want, as this will trick your brain into thinking more positively, which will reflect onto others. 

creative industries

8. Accept Your Mistakes and Learn From Them

As a newbie in the industry, you are bound to make mistakes. You might forget to pick up equipment, or you may knock part of the set over. If this is your first gig, you might be terrified and try to hide what you've done for fear of being canned.

However, this is not a good look, especially for someone new in the industry. Rather than try to escape your mistakes, you must face up to them and learn from them. While you might get a scolding or even the sack from some editors or producers, others may be more lenient, and you'll gain their respect by being mature about it, which could be beneficial in the long run.

9. Be Realistic

It's easy to get carried away with your creative industry dreams. After you get your first job, you might think that this is it. However, you're better off trying to stay grounded and being realistic. Getting carried away too soon will lead to complacency, and it might make you get a little too big for your boots. While it is good to dream (and dream big), you should also realise that it will take plenty of hard work to get to the point where you can mix it up with the brightest talents. 

creative portfolio

10. Work on a Portfolio and ask for Testimonials

When I was starting out I spent four days working as a camera operator on preliminary rehearsals of Britains Got Talent. I was a great gig, well paid and a foot in the door although I knew it was only a short temporary contract. Despite studying photography I didn't really want to work as a camera operator is meant paid experience with a high profile agency. I was extremely professional during my time there and made sure to get contacts and a testimonial to add to my portfolio, which later helped me gain other jobs and experience. 

What I've learned is you often have to go out and make opportunities for yourself if you are passionate about a certain area of the creative industries. If you want to be a writer then start a blog, if you want to be a photographer then start today on working on your portfolio and offer free photoshoots to start off with. If you want to be an actor get yourself signed to an agency as an extra and go from there. Be open to rejection but have self-belief in what you're doing and be open to starting at the bottom and working your way up.

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Making the most of what you post online


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You don’t need to be super internet savvy in order to make an impact online. In fact, a lot is just about learning the basics, timing and staying up to date with new trends. There are so many fantastic resources online which can help you grasp the basics of launching a blog or social media platform in an easy to follow way. Saying that you don’t have to be the person who makes the impact for your business. If you are willing to relinquish that area of business as well as spend a little money for it to happen, you can entrust a digital agency to fully develop and manage that area to maximum potential. A digital agency also often has insights into the User Experience or UX for short, which can be very important when wanting to grow and expand your business and you can read why it's so important on Qualtrics.

So what does a digital agency help you to achieve? Let’s start from the ground up.

Website Development
Trust me you are not the only person who has had a go at developing your own company website and being less than impressed with the result. You are definitely not the only one who has rested on the “It’ll do” mentality.
The not so secret realization is that it doesn’t do at all. In fact, you probably don’t direct anyone to your website via word of mouth alone, let alone push it out online were a hundred other businesses have better looking and responsive website design.

What a digital agency can bring about is a fully articulated and responsive website which is exactly how you want it to be, unhampered by limited features and basic tools which free online website sources often feature. Having a web presence that you can boast about is just as important as the premises your customer's visit, so it pays to employ a professional to capture it as it should be.

Blogging and Social Media

You probably think to yourself that you are no writer when it comes to discussing relevant trends and topics online, and it's true that not everyone is as capable with the written word. In fact, writing posts, blogs and articles is in itself a full-time job to most business owners, especially if you do a lot of work away from the internet also.
Most digital agencies come with in house copywriters and bloggers whose main job is creating engaging content and enabling traffic to reach your website. In researching the kind of output you want to reach your client base, they are able to make people interested in your product or business and bring the right kind of client to your door.

On top of this, you also have a team for rebranding at your disposal, so if you feel your company needs a new coat of paint or direction, a digital agency has the resources to bring your company up to date and stand out in the crowd.


You may never think you can compete with the big boys but you can sure share the spotlight.

Search engine optimization (SEO) has been employed through digital agencies to put your business on the radar of people looking for your services. By utilising specific keyword for tree service marketing your business is catapulted into top search results alongside your competitors which, if your language on your website translates well to those searching, can land you the big fish over your industry leaders.

Stockport website design firms are the cutting edge of digital transformation for businesses and have all the tools required to make your company trade effectively on the internet.

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Easy ways to keep your kids room tidy


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*Contains Affiliate links 

I'm tired of constantly tidying up after the kids, the cat, all the toys, so anything I can do to minimalise this I will and there are a few simple ways to make life a little easier. While unfortunately, house chores can unavoidable there are ways to reduce the amount of time you spend doing them.
I thought I would share a few key tips on how to help keep your children's room clean and tidy for longer.

1. Declutter

This is one of the most important steps to take and yes it can be time-consuming but it's worth it. As children get older they will naturally grow out of some of their toys and this is a time, together, to say goodbye and rehome some of their toys and clothes. The more you can give away the better and there is a reason why so many people rave about the minimalist trend being good for mental wellbeing.

2. Organise

Once you have done a major declutter it's time or really organises where things should go - it's important to do this with your children so they know the proper place for their things. Investing in some well-designed storage units is a good idea, ones that are functional and practical are key and try utilise space out of sight such as storage under a bed. I have some great Ikea boxes designed for under the bed storage and it fits my son's books perfectly.

3. Use space effectively

As I said above, making design choices that utilise space efficiently is key especially in smaller rooms. You want to make use of space as best as possible without feeling cluttered. Making sure you use under the bed space as well as placing hooks behind doors and shelving units that allow you to divide areas such as boxes within the shelving. 

4. Be Smart with flooring choices

If you have never considered a high-quality vinyl flooring thing you really should as it's really easy to clean when it comes to food spills, mess, debris and dirt from outdoors. Amtico Spacia has a full collection of vinyl flooring to fit all needs and homes and it's installed with anti-scratch and moisture resistant layer which prevents stains making it the perfect choice for a kids bedroom. You want to make sure you go with a reputable company like Amtico to ensure it stands up to the demands of a busy family home.

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