Doing Valentine’s Day On A Budget


I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. On one hand, I feel resentful that we should have to shell out for cards and gifts and overpriced meals just because it’s 14th February. On the other hand, isn’t it nice to have an excuse to tell someone you love them? Granted, we all need to do this more. We should do it every day – it’s something so quick and simple, yet we’re all guilty of letting too much time pass between declarations of love or random acts of kindness towards the people we love.

So, if we’re going to celebrate Valentine’s Day, let’s not spend a fortune doing it. We’ve all been that person – the one buying the biggest card in the shop, the teddy holding the red satin love heart, the one spending a small fortune on a restaurant’s set menu and forking out the extra £10 for a glass of fizz.

But here’s how I’m doing Valentine’s Day on a budget this year.

Instead of: Over-priced card from an expensive shop

I’m doing: An amazing (and oh-so-funny) card from Gin Bunny Prints on Etsy.


Instead of: Spending a fortune on a meal out (babysitter + set menu + creepy man coming around the tables, selling single roses = spendy night out)

I’m doing: A meal from COOK – who sell seriously gorgeous frozen meals. 3 courses for £20? Job done.


Instead of: Buying an expensive gift (that will end up being tossed into a drawer)

I’m doing: Some home made tokens for things like a lie in or a day watching F1 on the telly.

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, you realise that it’s not about spending loads of money on each other – it’s the little things that mean the most. And if I’m perfectly honest, I’d rather save our money to spend on important things like childcare, petrol and groceries. Does that make me totally old and unromantic?!

• Thanks to TSB for commissioning this post on Valentine’s Day on a budget. For details on how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page

The Lavender House: My Favourite Cafe In Bromley

I probably don’t talk about it enough, but I *heart* my local area. Bromley is such a brilliant place to live – in my 20s, I loved it because it has fab shops and it’s only 20/30 minutes from Central London by train (last train home is 00.48 meaning PLENTY time for drinking wine in Soho pubs after work). Now I have a family, I see it through different eyes. It’s a safe area, there are excellent schools, an abundance of child-friendly restaurants, an ace leisure centre and plenty of baby groups and classes.

One of my favourite things about Bromley is a little cafe called The Lavender House on Plaistow Lane. Everything from its bright purple exterior, to the garden area, to the warmth you feel as you walk inside is welcoming.

The Lavender House, Bromley

Lavender House

We probably go to The Lavender House at least once a fortnight – the four-year-old loves the kids’ lunch boxes and the big basket of books and toys at the back of the cafe. Owner Niki is so friendly – she knows all the regulars and always makes time to chat, no matter how busy the cafe is. The decor is modern-country-cottage with wooden floorboards and floral bunting.


But as well as how child-friendly The Lavender House is (see the high chair in the photo above and there are crayons and colouring sheets on the dresser) the food is fantastic. It’s really hard to pop in for a coffee and not buy one of their cakes. They recently started opening on a Sunday, serving brunch and I’m not even lying when I say the eggs benedict is the nicest I’ve ever tasted. And I’ve tasted a lot of eggs benedict….

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Making A Healthy Packed Lunch

packed lunch 1

Is it just me who worries all the time that their child isn’t eating the right foods? I mean, I think we’re doing OK – she eats fruit and vegetables (even if it is in small quantities) but if we ever ask her what she’d like for lunch, her reply is “Chicken nuggets, chips and ice cream”.

What is it with kids and chicken nuggets!

So to balance out the nuggets, we take a packed lunch box on days out, and fill it with a mix of food:

  • A wholemeal bread sandwich (usually ham or cheese)
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Yogurt
  • Grapes / apple / raisins
  • Water or Vita Coco Kids drink

Left to her own devices, the four-year-old would eat the yogurt and fruit, but leave everything else. So we have a little tactic where we ask her to take a bite of each thing, in turn. A bite of sandwich, a tomato, a drink of water, a grape and so on. She thinks it’s a game, and we feel relieved that she’s getting a mix of nutrients.

Tombola recently asked me to write about our packed lunches over on their website – take a look and read about some other mums’ packed lunch tips too.

What do you put in your child’s packed lunch and how to you coax them into eating the healthy stuff?

Thanks to Tombola for commissioning this post. For details on how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page.

JOMO: The Joy Of Missing Out


Do you know what I love? I love my sofa and Netflix. I love working from bed with a cuppa. I love having a glass of wine and then an early night.

I’m all for having a night out with friends – sharing a few cocktails and catching up on each other’s lives – but sometimes saying “No” to that night out invitation feels GOOD. I’m all about balance these days, and balancing off the fun socialising with the quieter moments at home is important.

I had no idea that this has a name, until I spotted a few people share this image on Instagram last week…

JOMO: the joy of missing out

So if our 20s are all about FOMO (the fear of missing out) then our 30s are surely about JOMO. And doesn’t it feel nice?

FOMO sees us saying yes to every night out invitation – imagine if we said no and then it ended up being that EPIC night out that people talk about for years afterwards. “Do you remember when we danced at that bar until 3am and then carried on at my flat and ended up playing strip poker at 6am?” No, because I wasn’t there. “Oh.”

JOMO sees us saying no to night out invitations because actually our sofa is so bloody comfy, and we’d only have to wear clothes that aren’t our PJs if we went out, and mmmm we have that bottle of nice wine in the fridge.

FOMO means we go out when when we’re knackered – third night out on the trot? No problem. I’ll just catch up on sleep at the weekend.

JOMO means catching up on the fun at the weekend. By which time, we’ll have had all the sleep we need, thank you very much.

FOMO means if we really can’t get to something that all our friends are at, we sit on Facebook and Twitter seething with envy that we’re not there.

JOMO means preferring to follow an event on social media because, well, if we were there, we’d only have to speak to people, wouldn’t we? That’s just so much effort.

JOMO, I think I love you.


Image: DTTSP/Instagram

A Little Pampering

I’m the first to admit I love being pampered. If given the choice between:

a) Going to watch a football match

b) Going to a nice spa

It would be B every time. I kind of hate myself for being that female stereotype but while Mr P watches F1 (his TV sport of choice) I will usually take myself off for a bath. You know the score: bubbles, a Jo Malone candle, Radio 2 playing and a scroll through Twitter to see what 998 of my closest friends are up to. (FYI I rarely admit to being in the bath while on social media – people picturing me naked isn’t good for them and it isn’t good for me)

In the same way that I encourage my four-year-old daughter to play football and play with train sets, I kind of wish I was into watching sport. Just so I could be all YEAH screw you stereotypes. I’m a feminist and I like sport.

But actually, I’m a feminist who doesn’t particularly enjoy playing or watching sport and that’s OK (ooh apart from when Wimbledon is on, but everyone watches that, don’t they? And it’s a good excuse to eat strawberries and cream.)

It doesn’t mean I’m any less of a feminist. I can still desire equality and turn my nose up at football. I can teach my daughter that she can be a scientist or an engineer, and still love to be pampered.

So when Betfair offered to send me a package from Pamper Parcels to use while Mr P is watching sport, I kind of hated myself for getting a bit excited. That hatred was short-lived though, when this package arrived…

Pamper Parcels box

A beautiful wooden box with a lid that slides off to reveal a whole array of goodies. Chocolate, an Aroma Works scented candle (“It smells like Thai food” said Mr P, when he sniffed the lemongrass scent), a bath bomb, Burts Bees lip balm, shower gel, body cream, posh biscuits, even posher popcorn – loads of gorgeous bits.


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