10 Rules To Surviving the Supermarket

First, let me tell you why I hate super market shopping:

My mind mind goes from running at a million random thoughts a minute to going blank when I’m actually using it to recall something. Yesterday I improvised and managed to cook something my partner said he would “pay money to eat”- it was a fluke I had bits in my cupboard that happened to compliment each other. I end up buying things that I like to eat but don’t work together as a meal. Melted cheese on gerkins with Smiley Faces anyone?

I find it tricky to judge how much of each thing I’ll need. I can’t tell you the amount of times a meal has only required four part’s, say Quorn chicken pieces, coconut milk curry paste, veg and I’ve somehow come home with 3 tins of coconut milk, one bag of Quorn, random veg and totally forgot to buy the actual curry for my curry dish!

Frustrated kids throwing hissy fit’s, running toward your legs whilst looking in the opposite direction and generally just being there. Surely supermarkets should have a pen lovely free nursery of some sort?

Lazy shop assistants that have no idea what lactose, gluten, tofu, agave syrup or gram flour mean and have absolutely no intention of ever finding out.

Then we have the super efficient cashiers who zoom all of your shopping through at warp speed, stare at you so you feel obliged to pay up immediately before you’ve finished packing, hand you your receipt, notes and coins in a slippy pile and then start serving the next customer before you’ve managed to get more static-stuck-together bags open. To the cashiers who are reading this – sorry, not sorry.

How to avoid going slightly insane while food shopping

  1. Avoid the Saturday mid-day battle field. Weekday shopping is preferable and late night shopping is like leisurely wandering around a giant room where everything is there just for you, at your convenience.
  2. Plan ahead. Have a running shopping list in your kitchen so as soon as you use something up you write it down on the list.
  3. Re-write your list in the order you will come across it in the isles. No need to back-track or lose track.
  4. Have an idea of three meals you would like to cook (or compile from tins and packets if you’re like me) the essential ingredients and a rough amount of those ingredients. Supermarket are not a good place to improv.
  5. Bring with you those bags that are tiny but magically unfold into massive ones. I also have a giant across body satchel as my arms are about as strong as two bits of spaghetti.
  6. Be friendly to other shoppers. If you are a bit baffled just ask someone that looks like they know what they are doing. Store assistants might know where products are located but not necessarily the best way to cook them. Of course if the person you ask happens to be pretty damn fit then bonus!
  7. Priorities. The clothes department is often located at the front and who wants to drag tangle of clothes and coat hangers around with them. Ask the the changing room assistant if they will be on their shift for an hour and will they mind your stuff until you’ve finished your food shopping. It will also make sure you don’t impulse buy those shoes that look a bit on the narrow (and probably painful) side.
  8. If you don’t have a car – don’t fill a trolley. Simple. No kindly stranger has ever seen me struggling and offered to carry my shopping home for me. Let’s face it, would you trust them even if they did? This is the reason my 6ft shaved headed partner rarely offers to be a knight in shinning er, army boots to struggling women any more.
  9. Use the self checkout. I know, I know they’re a pain. #Unexpected item in bagging area# “Yes, it’s me you f&%k wit!” but it allows you take all the time in the world to bag your heaviest stuff at the bottom so as not squash the rest and to spread the weight out equally between your bags so their easier to carry. Plus your not tempted to buy anything from the chocolate stand they hem you in with as you’re queuing.
  10. Now breath and relax. If I beep going through the doors on the way out I just casually carry on walking at the same pace unless a security asks me to wait a minute. I don’t panic and look wildly around, therefore accidentally making myself look as guilty as sin lol

I have to give credit to my Mum for tip number 2 and 3. Thankfully, she is such an organised person.

This bank holiday in Manchester…

I’m going to Fiesta Del Fuego Mexican Chilli Festival
which will take over High St in the Northern Quarter. There will be a cook-off between six chefs, tickets are £12.00 if you want to be a judge of the best chilli dish. There will be a chilli eating competition, a wheel of fortune game you really don’t want to loose and a giant chilli piniatta, (whacking a chilli that can’t cause me pain with a big stick sound’s a lot more like my idea of fun!) and lot’s of Mexican street food. More info

I’ll also be visiting The Manchester Museum on Oxford Road to see Warriors of the Plains (25th May – 3rd November) an exhibition about Native American Indian warriors covering 200 years of honour and rituals. With costumes, weapons, photographs and even scalps (gulp!) on display. More info

For more bank holiday highlight’s such as The Great Manchester Run, head over to Visit Manchester

 

Lylia Rose has the best jewellery – owl show you!

I’ve always loved owl jewellery as it’s so cute and timeless plus I’ve never found an outfit it doesn’t go with. I recently discovered the Lylia Rose online boutique and was delighted when my search clue ‘owl’ brought up an entire page of jewellery!

Here are my favourites

Bright Perching Owl Necklace

Bright Perching Owl Necklace £4.00

With a nod to this Summer’s trend for super bright colours this is beautifully striking and evokes a 1920’s feel.
Turquoise owl necklace

Turquoise owl necklace £6.50

I would wear this as a classic statement piece when going out for the evening. With the turquoise and gold colour combination and intricate detailing this could easily be a find from an Egyptian bazaar. I’m going to buy one so my Mum and me can share custody of the little fella.

Silver Tone Owl Ring £3.00

Silver Tone Owl Ring £3.00

I wear masses of large silver rings on my fingers , most of which have tarnished or marcasite quality. So wether I’m in a rocker or a hippy style mood I reckon this would be perfect!

Green bellied Owl Earrings £4.00

Green bellied Owl Earrings £4.00

Basically, awwww!

For more beautiful and affordable jewellery, broaches, hair ornaments and bags visit Lylia Rose

 

Best places for veggie meals in Manchester

Seeing as it’s National Vegetarian Week I thought I’d list my favourite vegetarian places to eat in Manchester. The kind that I really look forward to visiting and recommend to anyone who will listen! I’d love to hear your comments on which places you think are the best as well.

Best All-Rounder

Bistro 1847

Photo credit: Vegsocapproved.com

Photo credit: Vegsocapproved.com

An independant restaurant in the centre of town on the corner of Mosley Street and Booth Street. Medium-high price range but the service and food is always excellent! The decor is warm and contemporary and there is always a nice relaxed atmosphere. Menus are seasonal and the ingredients are locally sourced. Dishes consist of modern twists on traditional favourites like bubble and squeak and fish and chips as well as entirely new creations. I always appreciate when restaurants have accommodating opening times and 1847 is open for brunch and Sunday dinner. Something I find a bit random but innovative are the live jazz nights on the last Thursday of the month, which I’m guessing keep the hipsters happy!

Best Restaurant for a Special Occasion

Greens

images

Green’s in Didsbury is rather famous due to it’s celebrity Head Chef Simon Rimmer It’s because of this reason that I prefer to visit mid-week when it’s a little quieter and the service is better and there is more room to breath. I find it’s a great place to treat any visiting friends from out of town or if I fancy going out somewhere other than the town centre for a change. As you would expect the price range is fairly high but portions are a decent size and the food is always delicious!

Best Veggie-Friendly Place

This & That

Photo credit: tripadvisor

Photo credit: tripadvisor

Located down tiny Soap Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter this cafe is really easy to miss. The fact it’s always packed with office workers and a varied mixture of other people every lunch time, is a testament to the quality of the food. It’s pretty much the last of the once popular ‘rice and three’ places (plate of rice with three curry’s of your choice veg or meat based for a set place) left in Manchester. It’s the perfect place to pop-in for a large plate of hot, well-cooked tasty food for the purse friendly price of around £3.50. You can order extra’s like naan bread and samosa’s and add as much fresh chilli or coriander for your taste.

Best Eat-In Deli

Anand’s

Anand's Deli

I absolutely adore this place! Here’s why: It’s so affordable which is surprising because everything is home cooked and tastes fantastic. The deli is owned and run by a really friendly Indian couple who will patiently explain what all of the wonderful snacks are and wether they include wheat or dairy but most things are vegan. You have the option of filling a box with a various delights and paying by weight (you don’t even have to worry if they run out as they will cook more while you wait!) or you can sit down for a proper hot meal. A lot of businesses on the ‘curry-mile’ have gone under lately in the economic crisis but Anand’s is still doing well, which I and a lot of other Mancs are very glad about!

 

“What are you?”

“What are you?” was the question I was most asked by complete strangers when I was in my teens. I was fairly confident amongst my mates but pretty shy on my own, so to be asked such a direct question by strangers (often surrounded by their mates) was pretty daunting – but take into consideration the use of the word “what” rather than “who” and I found it down-right offensive.

You see, I look mixed race. With my dark brown frizzy hair, tapered olive green eyes that narrow at the inner corners (striking but a devil to apply eye shadow to), short round snub nose (my partner thinks it’s cute) and pouty lips that would give Mick Jagger a run for his money. When people asked me what race or mixture of races I was – wether that be in a polite or more forth right way – I was clueless! My parents look white: My Mum has blue eyes and blond hair. My Dad has hazel green eyes and almost black hair. My Dad’s Mum died when he was very little and his Dad was the strong silent type who never really talked about her. There is only one sepia toned picture of her and I look a lot like her. My Mum never knew her real Dad. People in Europe and many other parts of the world which have been repeatedly invaded and colonised over the centuries are bound to have incredibly varied genes anyway.

I’ve never had a problem with my looks. When I was a little kid people would make a point of commenting on how cute my chubby cheeks were or how pretty my eyes were. It wasn’t until my first day of nursery school that I became very aware of my looks. The first kid I nervously said hello to said stated “You look like a pig with slanty eyes” and then walked away. Silly childish comment I know but after looking in the mirror I concluded she was kind of accurate. Great start! Over the course of primary/junior school I got comments ranging from “You’re obviously adopted and they haven’t told you yet” (my eight year old brain was so convinced this was true I sat my parents down for a serious chat and asked them out right, which they found rather bemusing) to “My Dad says people like you should just go back to where you came from.” This one used to completely bewilder me and when I’d ask what that meant, it was pretty obvious the kids bullying me had no idea what the adults meant either and were just repeating it. Obviously I now realise they had racist parents who wanted any body of any ethnicity other than white to bugger off – regardless of how many generations were born here.

As a teenager I had a large group of friends and one who was amazing. She would defend me by attacking the bully with such witty vitriolic comments, the look on their faces was pretty amusing at times! I also developed quite a mouth on me and learned how to hone in on the bullies weaknesses and verbally beat them around the head with any large chips they had on their shoulder. I know psychologists say bullies have often been abused themselves and they are just taking it out on other people. Honestly though, I think most of them were just gleefully showing off to their mates. When I was in my mid teens I often had people (adults included) make loud monkey noises after me as I walked down the street on my own.

It was pretty evident by then that I was being racially abused. It was the 90’s and where I lived was a fairly white area. Nowadays it’s really multi-cultural and it doesn’t happen any more. I don’t know if it’s because I’m an adult now and not an easy target to intimidate or if things really have changed. I do see teenagers on the way home from school walking down my street with big-ass ‘fro’s and mixed couples proudly holding hands which just wasn’t accepted back then. I do find it astonishing that attitude existed only 10-15 years ago and appalling that it still exists in many more white washed areas around the country.

I have had it in unexpected ways as well like when I’d go to R&B clubs in my 20’s and dance for most of night and attract a fair amount of male attention. There were a few times when guys who’d been practically dry humping me on the dance floor (don’t judge, I was drunk – and they were fit) would run a mile when they found out I wasn’t part Afro-Caribean. I guess they thought ‘black is best’ – or whatever.

About 10 years ago I got myself into a pretty farcical situation. I’d started a job as an office temp for a company for a month when I got into one of those stupid bonding conversations where women compare them selves to each other and put themselves down by comparison. I’d received lot’s of compliments about my thick dark hair, the colour of my eyes, skin tone and pouty lips and I was blushing like a beetroot by this point.  Then someone caught me off guard by asking “So where do you get your exotic looks from then?” A few other people said they had been wondering this as well and told me the nationalities and races that they had guessed. I suddenly heard myself say “I’m half Hawaiian.” Liar. A few weeks later my supervisor said she was thinking of going on holiday there and could I suggest which was the best island! I mumbled something about us moving to the UK when I was a toddler. Big fat liar! To make matters worse I was taken on full-time just as my my high school mates brother (who knew me) started working there. He picked up on the whole Hawaiian rubbish and burst out laughing with a loud “Eh, what the hell are you on about?” Fortunately he shut up after I gave him ‘the stare of death’. That taught me how a spur of the moment lie can snowball and come back to bite you in the (white?) arse! Never again.

Funny story: Two years ago I went with my bloke to The Eden Project down in Cornwall which was awesome. It was a really hot summer and I was due to go to a festival so I’d put my hair into tight-to-my-head skinny platts and stuck a wide woven head band on to hold them back as my painted wooden ear stretcher kept getting tangled. I was also proud of the amazing tan that I’d developed in the space of about two weeks. The majority of visitors which The Eden Project attracts are fairly middle-class, well-spoken and white. The amount of stares I got made me feel like a martian that had just stepped off a space ship! However, it was cool as everyone was being really polite and friendly. Then a kid aged about 10 pointed straight at me and said in a loud voice “Look at her Mum!” His Mum turned around then looked absolutely mortified! She dragged him away by his sleeve saying “How many times do I have to tell you, we don’t stare at the ethnic people.” It cracked me up laughing so much!

So to answer the question “What are you?” I s’pose I should say ‘ethnic people’ ;o)

Pervy art, rocker rings and butterflies

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated by Mexican’s in the USA as it’s an anniversary of their independence and it’s celebrated by me as it’s my birthday. I started out the day pulling a large balloon with a dishevelled teddy bear on it down the street to my partners (I call him B) and received fewer glances than I thought – considering I’m now 32!

I ate delicious (gluten and dairy free) birthday cake from Sainsburry’s.

Me & B visited the gallery on Mosley Street in town as I wanted to see the Raqib Shaw exhibition. The images consisted of various animals – mainly monkeys and tigers and animal/human hybrids doing interesting things to each other in a beautiful enchanted wood. Some of the mediums used where enamel paint and rhinestone diamanties on paper which looks much more stunning than it sounds. Imagine if clothes designer Ed Hardy had been inspired by various old mythologies and was in a very kinky perverted mood and that’s as close as I can get to explaining it. Sculptures included a Hawk headed man being raped by a lobster and a bat headed man in bondage auto asphyxiating himself. I thought it was pretty awesome!

Then we went into Afflecks on Oldham street so B could buy me a beautiful silver filigree armour ring. I’ve wanted one since I was about 13, something I was casually mentioning to B about 6 months before my birthday.

P1020860

On the way out the exit/entrance on Oldham street B pointed out a bag in the window of the boutique to the right as he thought it looked ‘really practical’. It was a navy blue PVC coated satchel with a bright butterfly print and so many pockets it was a hoarders dream! I bought it for a very reasonable £20.00. My man got’s style!

20130505-190802.jpg

I’m sat in ‘the spoon’ Wether Spoon drinking strong sweet cider. Happy day.

Update: B was meant to take me for a surprise meal he booked – it was a definite surprise when we arrived & realised the restaurant was shut! Scoffing yummy Bella House take away instead now.

Fletcher Moss Gardens in Spring

I’ve been visiting this park with my partner to enjoy the changing seasons for about 4 years.

P1020558

The park is a landscaped rockery including large trees, flowers and shrubs. It was laid out by the botanist Robert Wood Williamson and is South facing. Williamson sold the gardens and rockery along with his house, called The Croft, to Alderman Fletcher Moss, in 1912.  Moss donated the park to the city of Manchester in 1919. Nowadays the park is part botanical garden, part woodland and also offers recreational facilities such as tennis courts, and a quaint cafe.

There are paths and stone steps going up two levels at various different points so everywhere you turn you get another beautiful view over looking the gardens and pond.

P1020554

P1020561

P1020572

P1020546

P1020568

P1020575

As I was walking out of the gardens up the main steps, I noticed a haze of beautiful colours to my right and discovered a small heather garden.

P1020582

P1020590

P1020537