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Stress free cooking

Posted by Young Ladies About Town
Young Ladies About Town
Fiona Hicks has not set their biography yet
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on Friday, 01 May 2015
I love cooking. There really is nothing I love more than rustling something tasty up from scratch for myself or friends. But on a weeknight, after work, if I'm really honest, I usually find myself reaching for the pasta and a jar of pesto. Essentially, I really can't be bothered to cook something exciting, or from scratch, on a school night.

Luckily there are people out there who want to get us cooking great meals with less of the stress. And so Marley Spoon, the recipe kit delivery service, came to my rescue.

Recipe kits are nothing new but one of the great things I loved about this was there was the option of an evening delivery, meaning I wouldn't have to be late for work or leave early so I could wait for the delivery.


I opted for the sticky chilli and ginger salmon with pak choi, rice and sesame seeds and the maple pork with sweet potato mash and greens.

When it arrived I loved that 90% of the contents came in cardboard or paper bag packaging – since living in my own place I've turned into a person who is obsessed with recycling so was (quite sadly I guess) excited about all the recyclables.

The salmon was the first dish my housemate and I decided to try. The recipe card, complete with step by step cooking guidelines accompanied with pictures, gives the preparation and cooking time for the dish. I found it took slightly less time on both accounts, but that might be because a) we were really hungry, of b) I have a fan assisted oven so things tend to cook quicker. I would like to have seen temperatures for fan assisted ovens on the recipe cards but it really wasn't the end of the world.


We both loved the salmon and the portion sizes were really reasonable. You could easily have worked it to feed a third person if need be.

The second dish of the maple pork I had two friends around so decided to see if my theory that the dishes could stretch to make three good sized portions was right. We didn't use the winter greens that were sent to go with the dish. This is mainly because I had this dish a few days after the box arrived and the greens were looking a little worse for wear. Nothing some broccoli and asparagus from the local shop didn't sort though.

Unlike with the salmon, I found the pork needed slightly longer cooking but other than that the dish was once again incredibly easy to prepare and cook. You know how good a meal is when you're eating with friends but there is complete silence; the pork was totally epic. Out of the two dishes it was definitely my favourite. And I was totally right about the portions, we all had a healthy meal in front of us.


Marley Spoon recipe kits come in at £5.50 per meal so they are definitely something I'd treat myself to every now and then. Even if my housemate and I didn't split the cost of a kit, it's still great value.

Thanks for a great dinner!

NB I was intending to take pictures of the dishes but on both occasions they looked so great, well I sort of...forgot. Huge apologies but considering I couldn't wait to dive in and try each dish is surely a sign that they were great meals!

Melonie Clarke

What do I do?

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 01 May 2015
I am a 55-year-old childless woman and have been reasonably happily married for 20 years.

When I was 18, I had an abortion. My parents were very strict and insisted I had an abortion as I was due to go to university, and they also didn't want the shame of their only daughter becoming a single mother. At 21, I married my first husband but we were childless for the 5 years we were married, and then he left me for someone else. They went on to have 3 children. I then met my second husband, who had a 5 year old daughter from his previous relationship. He insisted that he didn't want any more children, and I foolishly accepted this. Now I am full of regret, and wished I could turn the clock back.

A few months ago, my beloved dog died in my arms. She has been my baby, and I cannot get over the loss.
I am so unhappy, I have no children, no grandchildren and no dog.

I have made such a mess of my life, and feel I am being punished for the termination I had all those years ago. My husband is very angry with me, insisting unless I pull myself together, he will leave me. I don't know what to do.

Please help me.

Patricia Marie says.....

You are a woman who has never recovered from a forced abortion, but has transferred any anger she may have felt with her parents to herself - when it was not your fault at all.

You say you had no choice but to go along with their wishes, just as you accepted your second husband's decision not to have any children. Then your first husband's infidelity, and the sheer trauma of him then having a family with another woman, makes it no wonder you are feeling as you do.

You have endured some painful experiences, and although you cannot change the past, finding some self-acceptance within yourself will stop the past from anchoring your future. I believe you are carrying a huge amount of unnecessary blame, and have the lowest self-esteem.

You are not being punished by any other influence - but by your own self.

Can you enrich the relationship you may have with your stepdaughter?

Sometimes easier said than done, but a valuable lesson to us all is to make the very best of what we have, rather than dwell on what we haven't.

You very much need to stand up for yourself, starting right now, by telling your husband that instead of giving you an ultimatum, he needs to be more understanding, caring and supportive of you. Sit him down and tell him exactly how you are feeling, so that you can work together as a team, before the marriage declines to an irreparable state.

I feel you may both benefit from attending Relate, for some counselling sessions with a couples therapist.

I presume that over the years you have suppressed your feelings, and the loss of your beloved dog has aroused them.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to get another pet, which would offer the unconditional love you are seeking, and help with your loneliness. Wipe away those tears. You haven't made a mess of your life - things have happened to you, as they do to all of us. Accept that and move on to the next chapter of your life.

I recommend you read: The Healing Choice by Candace De Puy, and Dana Dovitch. An enriching read about coping with the psychological aftermath of abortion, no matter how long ago.

Dating Schools

Posted by Mum About Town
Mum About Town
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on Friday, 01 May 2015
I know we're not allowed to talk about it. I know that - along with tutors and scholarships and everything else in between – the whole damn subject is COMPLETELY taboo. However 'horses for courses' and 'go with the flow' are all very well in theory but I do need to tell you how I put 2 and 2 together and BING! right there and then I had my not-so-academic revelation....

In fact, it was while I was touring a possible senior school for our Mini that this award-winning realization hit me. You see, I'm approaching school-hunting much as I did (all those years ago) when I might have been husband-hunting. And THIS is sure to be the reason why my emotions around secondary school viewings are proving a little leftfield. I'll give you an example: I never could dig those men who couldn't look me in the eye – especially if their hands dug around in their pockets. Nor could I date the smarmies, the intellects and... what a utterly hideous turn off those A grades could be. No. Absolutely not. I was looking for someone properly fun, definitely not stupid and more than able to handle any social situation I might fling in their direction.

And – as it transpires - that's what I'm looking for when considering our Smalls and their education – at large. Yet instead I am find myself faced with exam factories, overly-keen teenagers, pushy parents and droves of stressed out over-achievers. I just can't fancy that.

Power of calmness

Posted by Mum About Town
Mum About Town
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on Friday, 24 April 2015
Why is keeping calm one of the hardest things to do? If only there was a special vitamin pill we could pop each morning to (non-synthetically) adopt our brains to think of open fields, pools of still water and perfect sunsets. Just think how much more effective (not to say happier and more pleasant) we would all be.

And, of course, the knock-on effect would be dramatic on those around us. Having recently spent a very calm go-slow weekend with some ridiculously calm friends, I decided to try a little experiment at home. NO screaming on the stairs to encourage the Smalls to hurry up. NO manic multi-tasking. NO rushing. NO stress. Just for one day.

I won't lie. It really did take some incredible self-control and most definitely didn't feel very me. But... the results were dramatic. At first my fellow housemates looked at me curiously, as if I had been embodied by a half-absent soul. Before long though they too picked up on my calmness.

A psychotherapist might suggest that I was 'deconstructing the ritual'. Personally, I'd just say I was less of mad woman.

My relationship with my daughter is becoming increasingly fraught

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 23 April 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,
My 17 year old daughter and I have always been close, but lately our relationship has become increasingly fraught. Just recently, her father offered to pay for her gym membership so she could lose weight, and I agreed it was a good idea. Now she's so upset and wants nothing to do with us. She has changed so much in the last few months since her close friend died in a car accident, which she refuses to talk about, has stopped socialising, and spends most of the time in her bedroom eating sweets, hence her rapid weight gain. She seems to get pleasure from giving me as much stress as possible and is causing such an atmosphere in what has always been a happy household. The main issue is, that five years ago, I put £10,000 pounds in premium bonds in her name, which will become hers when she's 18. Not only is she being difficult, but I think she'd spend the money, instead of using it for university as I intended. I'm happy to give it to her when she's older and wiser, but am I breaking both a legal and emotional law by withholding it from her?

Patricia Marie says.....

If the bonds are in your daughter's name, you would be acting illegally if you spent the money yourself, and behaving unethically if you promised them to her when she turned 18. I feel the more important issue here is the problem between you, your husband and your daughter. If you love someone, you should do so unconditionally, not only if they are slim or otherwise.

It sounds as if she found her father's offer a sign of criticism and rejection, especially at a time when she is grieving for the loss of her friend. Your daughter is clearly overwhelmed with emotion, hence the comfort eating, and in much need of some tender loving care. What you should have done is asked her if she had any concerns about herself and if there was anything you could do to help.

You need to separate the issue of the money from the issue of her hurt and embarrassment.

Tell her that she will get the money, as promised, on her 18th birthday. However, remind her it was intended as a support for university, and that you would be happy if it was used in that way. Also, tell her you're sorry if you said the wrong thing and that you are wanting to get your relationship with her back on track. Do urge your daughter to contact Cruse, an excellent organisation who could offer her the professional help and support she needs and very much deserves in coming to terms with the tragic loss of her friend.

Cruse Bereavement Counselling: 0844 477 9400

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