Show Us Your Party Trick

Not that we’re going to any parties.

But now seems as good a time as any to use this time wisely and put in the hours to practise an existing trick. Or to at least find one for 2021.

I’ve compiled a list of 20 popular tricks and skills based on my ‘extensive market research’. (I basically Whatsapp’ed all of my contacts and discovered that I know a lot of weird and wonderful people with skilllllz.)

See if you can recognise yourself somewhere below:

  1. Touch your nose with your tongue. (Starting basic. My dog is really good at this though.).
  2. Apply lipstick a la Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club.
  3. Make floating spit bubbles. (Zac Efron can do this. And a hilarious girl called Katie on Instagram)
  4. Whistle super loudly. (See previous blog. Am still trying and have had numerous offers for tutoring.)
  5. Drop into the splits. (Seems like a boring one but you try doing the splits.)
  6. Following on from the splits…The ‘Mork & Mindy/Star Trek Vulcan hand sign’ of split fingers.
  7. Again with fingers, ‘stack fingers of one hand on top of one another’. (Niche… but a talent nevertheless.)
  8. Speak ‘havagav’. (Come on, it’s a skill. Loads of people just can’t master it.)
  9. Say the alphabet backwards, at speed.
  10. Do at least 20 keeps-uppies.
  11. Moonwalk. Properly.
  12. Juggle.
  13. Perform ‘Jump Around’ word perfect. (You know who you are.).
  14. Perform ‘Fuck tha Police’ word perfect. (Different to person as above. You know who you are.)
  15. Tongue click/beatbox, especially to a Waltz tune. (You my darling, are completely on your own.)
  16. Bend just the tips of your toes a la Stacey Solomon. Also, bend just the tips of your fingers (You know who you are.)
  17. Flick eyelids inside out (a boy who sat in front of me at school could do this. Scary. But secretly in awe.)
  18. Dislocate shoulder and pop back in.
  19. Flip a ciggie from forehand to mouth seamlessly. (Cool af.)
  20. On the ciggie vibe again, blow smoke rings. (Married to cool af above. #couplegoals)

Am going to add one more for luck – my personal fave – because we need shitloads of luck in 2021.

This particular skill seems to have zero use, other than the fact that it impresses me. (Wife of friend who can do this trick says it’s ‘highly fucking irritating’.)

Sorry if I’ve built this up now.

Some of you might find it a letdown, but we’re at rock bottom with 2020 so hopefully things can’t get much crappier. Drum roll please…

21. Spin a pen – don’t @ me. It’s mesmerising.

My own personal skill? The ear wiggling.

My actual ear – and yes, they both move at the same time

An even cooler skill is creating something fabulous from a glut of ‘Celebrations’. (Seamless segway right there…)

In the 90s whilst studying in Manchester, I remember going to Oliver Peyton’s bar/restaurant called ‘Mash & Air’ and sampling dessert one night which blew my mind for its simplicity and yum factor. Randomly I saw the ‘recipe’ featured in a magazine so I ripped it out and kept it for posterity.

Anyway – here it is. Stuck in my recipe book. Although it’s hardly a recipe. More ‘simple instructions’. Either way, it creates something marvellous that appeals to me on every level/layer.

Dessert goals right there

So, that’s it for the year.

Thank you for reading my blog and especially all the likes, comments and shares. It really does mean a lot to me and I hope to continue sharing my musings in 2021.

Happy HEALTHY New Year to all.

x

Why I’ll Never Be a Dog Person…

Risky title I know. Huge potential to lose all of my blog followers (About seven of you. Most are family members.) And people are angry enough since the announcement of tier 4 and lack of ‘Proper Crimbo‘.

But if nothing else, I am an honest person, who is now a complete lockdown cliché of a dog owner and it’s my blog, so I’d like to give the backstory here…and hopefully some light relief. I’ve never sent one of my blogs out on a Sunday before, but Kate Hiscox always does and hers bring me a lot of joy.

So. Back to the dog…

I didn’t want a dog. Husband definitely didn’t want a dog.

Kids wanted a family ‘pet’ (read as: dog) and pestered us for the past few years. Aside from not wanting the responsibility of a dog and the fact that I have allergies, I was just a more of a cat person, having grown up with one. (I miss ‘Tiddles’.)

Lockdown hit and slowly but surely, ‘everyone’ was getting a pup. Whilst I still didn’t see myself as a dog person, I could see how much it would mean to the kids, not to mention a very good reason to just get out of the house, my husband and I took the plunge and put our names down with a couple recommended breeders.

NGL (my fave abbreviation), I was a little concerned about my allergies. When we were having work done on our previous house, we moved in with my sister-in-law for a bit. A couple of weeks into our stay, they got a puppy. Not just any puppy, but a golden retriever. The furriest, most heavily shedding pup of all.

I was completely fucked. Wheezy, red eyed. And heavily pregnant. Fortunately, I had a wonderful allergist and armed with a handful of the puppy’s fur and by that evening I was sitting on the couch stroking ‘Google’ the dog with no allergic symptoms whatsoever. Brexit is easier to explain.

This gave me hope that I could live happily with a dog around, although I still had my reservations about the mud, the poo, and that ‘dog’ smell in my house.

Finally, I got a text with a picture of the newborn pups and off we went, with a particular puppy in mind. Everyone said, ‘your puppy chooses you’, but we scoffed at such nonsense. ‘Definitely the girl. The really small, nice and chilled one’.

Hurrah for pups via Hurrah for Gin

Half an hour later we left the breeder having put down a deposit on the fattest and most boisterous of the litter. And it was a boy.

A constant stream of videos and picture updates from the breeder were shared over the family Whatsapp group with much excitement from all of us. Except husband, who was explicit in his feelings towards the puppy…

Zero interest

The kids assured me that they would help but I was under no illusion that I was going to be solely responsible for this dog as soon as the novelty wore off. At this point though, it was all very exciting and mealtimes were spent arguing thinking about dog names.

There was a lot of ‘essential buying’ and after years meandering the aisles of ‘Pets at Home‘ on many a rainy afternoon, at last, we could give back financially!

A lot of the people I follow on Instagram were at puppy stage too, blogging and spamming their feeds with dog info. I spent far too long searching for ‘vibrating pet brushes’ having seeing one influencer in her stories brushing with this amazing tool. After a fruitless search and a DM to the lovely Chloe Loves to Shop, I was informed that it’s just a normal pet brush and that the noise was coming from the builders in the background. *approaches Dragons Den with incredible vibrating pet brush concept*

This blog almost serves as a diary to remember the blur of those first few weeks – from collecting him, to the constant visitors (“Ohhh.. he’s a fatty isn’t he?!”), the first few sleepless nights, to accidents – there really was so much to learn about our new boy, ‘Bear’.

Bear ‘Fatty’ Collins

By day four, husband was converted and I think Bear likes him the most. I think the feeling is mutual but husband still feels it necessary to announce to all that will listen, “If the dog went tomorrow, I wouldn’t care.”

It’s a sound I manage to block out.

And talking of sounds, and the reason for this blog, the reason for why I will never be a dog person.

I walk him. I pick up his poo. I feed him. I wash him. I play with him. I groom him. (We are talking about the dog here – not my husband, just to clarify.)

I’ve not had any real allergy issues except for a couple of foolish errors of playing with him and then accidentally touching my eyes. Best eye drop are Hycosan if you’re interested.

So the reason I will never be a dog person?

I can’t the do “the whistle”.

Not the double hander. Not the one hander. Not even the mouth only version.

My only method of recall is shaking his treat box like a loon and shouting ‘look what I’ve got for you!!!’ It’s basic, but it works and I know I’m not alone from the cries of ‘chicken!’ and ‘cheese!’ that I hear in the park.

Maybe I’ll use this Christmas gift of yet more lockdown time to learn said whistle skill, but then again, in March I said I would learn to do proper pull ups and I’m yet to manage more than two unassisted.

So to all the whistlers out there, I envy you. Especially the Queen of it all, Holly Golightly.

Iconic.

A dog is for life, not just for Christmas. Or Covid.

Me and my Bear

x

I’m Not a Celebrity… but Get Me Out of Here Anyway

I’m not into this series – maybe it’s lockdown and too many other things on my watch list. Or possibly a lack of celebs that I’m interested in (bar Jordan North – he’s hilarious.)

Or most likely, because there’s no Australian jungle backdrop which brings the excitement of snakes and rats roaming around camp.

If I ever achieve blue tick status and earn a place on the show, it would take some persuading from my agent to get me to agree.

Speak to my agent

The food trials? Strong gag reflex plus highly sensitive nose, means the very idea of smelling AND seeing kangaroo testicles would literally finish me off.

Kangaroo testicles with a side of pigs uterus for Roman

That said, everyone reacts differently to food. And I love seeing the final three with their wish-list dinner requests.

Iain’s meal was a good ‘un:
Starter : Tomato soup, French crusty bread, chunk of cheddar
Main : Christmas dinner with all the trimmings
Dessert : Hot sticky toffee pudding, custard, ice cream and double cream
Drink : Milkshake

There are certain things that DEFINITELY wouldn’t be on my final meal list. Serve me an apple pie with cinnamon and bile rises.

You can just tell this one has cinnamon in it

Yup. I hate cinnamon. Am I alone? I doubt it. Everyone loves and hates different things. For instance, I hate what Twix have done this winter:

Totally unnecessary – definitely cinnamon-loaded

BBC Bite size says:

Hand someone a slab of chocolate or a slice of hot buttered toast and it’s unlikely (but not impossible), you’ll get a barely disguised look of disgust. On the other hand, offer up something more divisive, such as a piece of liquorice or something smothered in desiccated coconut and chances are you’ll get more people declining a nibble.

I think there is also a big difference in ‘don’t like’ and ‘absolutely hate’ but for some, it’s extreme. Take coriander for example. I adore the stuff – Thai soups, curries, salads – but I know so many who are completely offended by it.

There’s even an official ‘I Hate Coriander’ day

In ‘researching’ this topic (Google’d it, didn’t I?), coriander does taste a lot like soap to many people and that’s apparently down to genetics. These haters have a variation in a group of olfactory-receptor genes which means they detect the soapy-flavored aldehydes in coriander leaves.

Maybe that explains why I detest blancmange? It was a school dinner dessert staple – I hated it then and would definitely hate it now. The smell, the texture, the ‘skin’ that would form on top of it. Literally like wobbly set sick.

This was NOT my favourite dessert day…
…but this was

My kids are growing up forming their own tastes and preferences but it’s largely controlled by me. Maybe they would LOVE these things that I detest? Am I’m denying them wonderful flavours and taste sensations?!

I asked my friend about her own family’s likes and dislikes and she said her absolute pleasure much to the utter disgust of every member of her family are ‘bread and butter pickles’. Firstly, I’d never heard of such a thing. Secondly, if she didn’t live in America, I would be sat in her kitchen sharing that jar with her.

Sounds decent and Liberty ones too!

So, on the ‘no’ list for me:

  1. Cinnamon as previously mentioned. Don’t put it in apple pies or sprinkle it on hot drinks or buy me Cinnabons.
  2. Liquorice – no wheels, no strips, no sweets disguised with little blue tiny hundreds and thousands on them. There’s liquorice inside.
  3. Mac & cheese, broccoli and cheese, cauliflower cheese – I know right? I must be the only one. Not for me. No matter how amazing ‘your’ one is. I just. Don’t. Like it. Rest of fam inhale the stuff.
  4. Grated carrot – yup. Grated. If you put it in my salad I will get very cross. I don’t mind it in ribbons, just not grated. It’s a ‘texture’ thing.
  5. Sweets – I know I may lose readers at this point, but I don’t like sweets. Haribo style ones specifically – nope, not even the fizzy ones. (I do like Squashies though. And foamy bananas, eggs and mushrooms. So, foam sweets basically, yeh.)
  6. Beetroot – can barely type the word without tasting vomit. Cubed, pickled, crinkled – no, no, no. And don’t even go there with chrayne.
  7. Marzipan – specifically in a Battenberg cake. It’s revolting. Along with those marzipan creations you get at functions when the teas and coffees come out.

There are a million more dislikes – including sandwich spread, lokshen pudding and trifle. But seven seemed like a good number to stop at so I’ll save those for another blog.

On the ‘yes’ list for me is the following.

  1. Fennel. Adore it! Give me a fennel bulb and I will happily eat the whole thing in one sitting.
  2. Chestnuts – vacuum packed ones or fresh ones from the oven, damaging every one of your fingernails in the opening process.
  3. Lychee and those physalis fruits that taste like soap. This is the weirdest one for me because yes, they taste soapy. Maybe this is the coriander of the fruit world?
  4. Coconut – water, whole, pyramids, desiccated, Bounty bars. I love coconut, especially the Spanish coconut yoghurt.
  5. Evaporated milk. Keep your cream, double cream, custard…. THIS is the nuts for me. On fruit, on apple pie (no cinnamon), on its own even. I love it. (Not to be confused with condensed milk, although..equally as pleasing.)
  6. Rollmops. Happy to eat it ‘as is’ on some rye bread or have it in ‘blended form’ known as ‘chopped herring’ on a bridge roll.
  7. Fishballs – controversial I know. And terrible on the breath. But give me a fried fishball, preferably oven-warmed, and I am a happy (smelly) girl.

So, there are just some of my controversial items. Love to know your thoughts in the comments.

My family might disagree on a lot of food items, but there is one that dessert we unanimously agree on. I recently posted about it on my instagram stories and had so many people ask me for the recipe.

When I say ‘so many’, probably only five.

Ok maybe four.

And it’s an insult to the cooking profession to even call it a recipe. It’s merely ‘instructions’.

Either way, they all liked it and told THEIR friends.

So hopefully one day this will be the requested dessert for the finalists’ meal on I’m a Celebrity.

Dream big I say. 2021 is all about manifestations.

x

Nutellow Pastry Puffs’

Ingredients:

1 pack ready rolled puff pastry

1 jar of Nutella

1 pack of white mini marshmallows (these are the best brand by far)

Egg wash

Some icing sugar

Method:

Roll out pastry.

Cut into squares. Jusrol brand gives you about 6 even sized squares. (Hack: the paper that encases the pastry is greaseproof and can be used as your oven sheet liner.)

Blob of Nutella in the centre. Sprinkle some marshmallows.

Then I like to ‘wonton’ the squares. But have done ‘pillows’ and ‘turnovers’ in the past. Personal preference. Go wild.

Egg wash all over just make sure everything is ‘sealed’ or the seams bust and it’s a mess.

Oven at 180c for half an hour.

Dust with icing sugar if they haven’t already been lifted from the baking sheet and scoffed.

Enjoy… unless you hate Nutella, marshmallows and puff pastry and. In which case, excellent, more for me.

Photo credit: Sara Harris – pillow style