New Years Resolutions

  • I will lose weight.  Yes, I will!
  • I will plan my study time better, therefore...
  • I will not have a major wibble over every single assignment I have to write for the Open University
  • I will start that novel, or at least start the planning for it
  • I will find a magazine template for this blog that I can fit my header into - *
  • I will expand my social media network even further
  • I will attempt to find a magazine or newspaper that wants me to write for them - **
  • I will give up smoking properly and not pretend I have given up like now
  • I will complete the application form for Deal or No Deal
  • I will not buy another Filofax - ***
  • I will attend the Cybermummy '11 conference - ****

I may add to this over the next few days.

* NOT POSSIBLE - I cried yesterday trying to find a magazine template that would work with Blogger and their gadgets (mainly pages) and there isn't one.  This is the best you're going to get!
** As well as Flying Start Magazine
*** hahahahahahaha
**** My "looking for a sponsor" post will follow in early January

The 2010 Digest

How do you round up this year on a blog where so much has changed?  This year has been a defining time for the me as a writer.  I started out still finding my feet, addressed the community spirit, grew in confidence and wrote a lot of posts.  I have picked one post from each month of 2010 for you to revisit.  It definitely isn't the most popular post of the month or even the one with the most comments, but the one that you had maybe forgotten about and might enjoy again.  I'd love to know if there is one that you would have recommended for inclusion in the round-up too.

Blognonymous : The Appointment - Postscript

Editors note: A short while ago a post was published on this blog within the ethos of Blognonymous.  It was entitled "The Appointment".  Following the comments and advice left at the end of the post the author felt that an update and a Thank You was needed, so here is their post.

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

Buy your Filofax supplies and support the Breast Cancer Campaign


Are you ordering anything from Filofax in the near future?
(they have a sale on at the moment, don't you know)
Please click on the logo below or the one in the sidebar to visit the site.


The team over at the Philofaxy blog have an affiliation with Filofax UK and, for period of 16th December 2010 through to 31st January 2011, have agreed to donate all their commission to the very deserving Breast Cancer Campaign.

Boxing Day...1985?

This year, Boxing Day was dedicated to 1985 - or so it seemed.

It was shaping up to be a fairly boring Boxing Day.  We had no plans to do anything during the day as we were determined not to move the cars and lose our parking spaces - living near a Premiership Football Stadium has its drawbacks.  The morning film, Spy Kids, was coming to an end and the terrestrial channels looked a bit boring.  I had a quick flick through the millions of boring Sky channels and found a repeat of the 1985 World Strongest Man on Bravo.  We watched fat men strongmen lifting cars, hauling wheelbarrows full of heavy sacks, winching boats up from the harbour and generally oozing testosterone.  We cheered on our hero from back in the day, Geoff Capes, and he won... HOORAY!

A little later I sat and watched Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat - not quite a 1985 version (it was the Donny Osmond made-for-video/TV production fom 1999) but it did bring back memories of watch Jess Conrad in the touring production during the early eighties.  We (mum, my sister and myself) were massive fans of Joseph and went to see the production each time it came to the Grand Theatre, Blackpool (four times at the last count).  We also took part in a AmDram version of it during the late 1980's.  Anyway, I sang along to the Donny Osmond version, teased son #1 about his love of the video when he was about 7 years old because of a flash of a dancer's yellow knickers during the Go Go Go Joseph song and wallowed in nostalgia for a good couple of hours.

Christmas Eve

It was Christmas Eve 1990 and, for the first time, I wasn't sleeping in my own bed.  My boyfriend and I had decided to share ourselves out between our family like the children of divorced parents; Christmas Eve and half of Christmas Day at my parents' house then the other half of Christmas Day and the whole of Boxing Day at his parents' house.

I had left home earlier in the year, an angry eighteen year old who knew it all.  I returned a more subdued, pregnant eighteen year old who now lived with her boyfriend.  My mum had stated quite clearly that my boyfriend was welcome to stay over at the house but we would not be sleeping together.  My argument?
"Why not? He can't exactly get me pregnant again, can he?"

11 Tips To Make Your Life Easier On The Run Up To Christmas

  1. After 20 years, I have realised that gift tags are a waste of time on the children's presents.  They see their name, rip the paper off, exclaim with joy and move on to the next present.  Black permanent marker is the way to go, scrawled across the back of the gift.  We don't rescue and neatly fold the paper.  We use it to keep the fire going.  Also, there is less chance of any gift tag being ripped off and wondering who the present belongs to.
  2. If a bargain was to be had, the cheaper price tag will be removed and the more expensive price tag will accidently-on-purpose will be left on.
  3. A spare room is a present-hiding godsend.  Especially if it has a padlock on the door.
  4. A 19-year old's pile of presents is a lot smaller than a 17-year old's pile of presents which, in turn, is a lot smaller than a 11-year old's pile of presents, even though you have spent the same amount of money on them.
  5. The present that cost the least will be the best present in the whole of the world.
  6. When you order from SportsDirect.com they include little gifts of tat that they can't normally get rid of like a mug with their logo on or a calender that displays a 30p price tag.
  7. Next year I am going to invent a gift-wrapping station that is approximately the height of my ironing board as my back is killing!  Or I might just use the ironing board.
  8. When wrapping track-suits, make sure you don't include the spare roll of sellotape in with one of them.  (Dear Michael, if you find a roll of sellotape inside one of your presents, please do not think I have gone mad.  Love Mum x)
  9. Stashed Christmas booze can always be replaced the next day.
  10. When booking a few extra days off work so that you can have a full fortnight off with your family, make sure you check the weather report in advance to see if you can get away with "Snow Days" (free holidays) instead of "Annual Leave Days".
  11. Arrange all gift-swapping trips that involve a journey over the Pennines for June or July.  You have less chance of any snow preventing seeing your sister for the first time since February.  For the second year running.

STOP FLASHING!

I've just been for a walk with the dog and almost every other window has a blue light display or flashing "icicles" hanging from the gutter.  None of the twinkling is coordinated with the house nearby and it's giving me a headache.  Some flash so fast that I feel dizzy and almost epileptic.

Multi-coloured lights look pretty and white lights look frosty and magical.  Decorated houses are a bit OTT but provide much amusement and entertainment for everyone else.  A couple of years ago, the odd blue light display here and there looked unusual and engaging but that bandwagon has rolled on by and everyone has jumped on it.  

Agree or disagree?  Are you one of the blue light brigade?


Picture Credit

What Does Father Christmas Bring Naughty Boys?

You know when your loved ones are being little shits at any time between October and December?  Do you roll out the old "Father Christmas is watching.  He's making sure who is being good and who is being bad"?  Well in our house we used to say "If you carry on with that, Father Christmas will only bring you socks and underpants!"


One year, Michael (now age 17 - oh, he's going to love me for telling this story) had been a complete bugger for ages so we rolled out our usual threat. He was about eight or nine at the time.  His behaviour improved slightly towards Christmas but he was still a handful.  


On Christmas Eve we arranged the presents as usual but we put his actual present of socks and underpants (What? It's tradition!) right at the top of the pile so that he would open it first.

What Do Tweets Make? Prizes!

On 2nd December I joined in a little Twitter Party during my lunch break.  Max Factor were working in conjunction with British Mummy Bloggers to gather together some "get ready quick" tips for busy mums everywhere.

I tweeted a few of my favourite tips (eyebrow threading is amazing, mascara and eyeliner is a must, Schwarzkopf Osis Dust-it powder is brilliant for short hair) and asked for some tips for myself.  It was a hectic hour on Twitter but there were some fabulous ideas flying around.  All tweets that included the special promotional hashtag (#5minmax) were entered into a prize draw for some fabulous goodies from Max Factor.

The following day this tweet arrived in my timeline...

Review Times Two : Simply Safety Solutions & CBeebies Song Time

I am very naughty.  Here at Typecast Towers I have had a couple of items to review but haven't had chance to publish the write up.  Massive apologies to the companies involved.  I hope these little tests help you with any last minute shopping ideas before Christmas.

* * *

(disclaimer: this is not our baby)
Click the picture to visit the
Simple Safety Solutions website
Simple Safety Solutions is a small company with child safety at the heart of their business.  They ask parents to review their products in the home in real situations.  They sent us a Tot Seat Travel Baby Chair Safety Harness (RRP £24.99) to try out.

This is a fantastic little invention.  It transforms any dining chair into a secure seat for babies and toddlers so is the ideal solution to meal times when the grandchildren are visiting.  It is also small enough to keep in your baby bag if you are going out to eat and comes with it's own drawstring carry case.

The harness is recommended for children between 8 months and 3 years old.  We tried Megan (8 months old) in the seat and found that even though she is sitting up unaided now, the harness wasn't really secure enough to hold her in place.  It was, however, great for tying up keeping Amie (23 months) on her chair at the table whilst we all ate our meal.  Highly recommended.

Click the picture to go to their website for more fantastic safety ideas for the home at very reasonable prices.

* * *

We have also been listening to the CBeebies Song Time CD (RRP £15.99).  This double CD is full of all the favourites from CBeebies, including theme tunes, the Something Special Hello song, In The Night Garden Time to go to Sleep track and the Teletubbies Say "Eh-Oh!" club mix (I am not kidding!).  You can find the full track list and buy the CD from here.

This would be great to play on a car journey or even just instead of having the television on for a change.  Watching the recognition on a child's face of hearing a familiar song without the moving pictures in sight is both funny and fascinating at the same time.

Filofax Friday : One In, One Out

this picture does the Chameleon
no justice whatsoever
Be still my beating heart.  I am now the proud owner of a Chameleon Filofax in Spring Green.  You may remember seeing it on my wishlist a short time ago.  I couldn't wait until Christmas so ended up buying it anyway.

Because the Filofax is so customisable, I have already decided on a theme for my Chameleon (although the name suggests that it may change over time, yes?).  I am going to use cream dividers and green notepaper.  I also want one of the new 2011 diaries that are a-week-per-page-with-notes - a theme which I tried to mimic myself earlier this year but ended up with too much bulk.  I am also going to purchase this style diary/note pack for each of my other two Filos - work/home and writing.  Also, I think my next Filofax blog post is going to have to be "Are my Filofaxes streamlining my life or am I streamlining my life around my Filofaxes?"

Twats on Twitter



*big sigh*


Recently a number of celebrities have been caught up in public spats on Twitter and it's all getting rather boring now.  Can someone make it stop please?


The latest few appear to have featured Sir Alan Lord Sugar and whoever has narked him today.  His most recent 'victims' are Kirstie Allsopp, Chris Evans and Piers Morgan.  Having said that though, the latter has embroiled himself in a battle with Sugar for the highest number of followers.  The 'loser' pays out a few thousand pounds to charity.  I'd yawn but there's a nasty taste in my mouth and I need to get rid of it.



I did initially consider the fact that the Sugar and Morgan accounts were not real.  The people behind the @sy_cowell and @walshlife accounts could have concocted this little saga too as part of their marketing profile - showing the power of Twitter and how it can be used for promotion purposes.  The only spanner in the works of that little theory is that the both accounts appear to have been officially validated by Twitter.

Proud

Last week an envelope dropped onto the doormat addressed to Michael (son #1).  The envelope was embelished with the NHS logo and my first thought was "junk mail".  He is 17 now, at college, has his own bank account and pays his own mobile phone contract.  He is just about the right age to start getting his own crap in envelopes.

How wrong was I?

Finding Your Blogging Feet

I was reading a couple of posts written by new blogger, Becki (at Pelvis, Interrupted) yesterday.  She wrote about how she wasn't feeling true to herself with her writing and then her "epiphany", for want of a better word.  I think she had been trying too hard as a new blogger to please her audience rather than writing within her comfort zone and letting her audience find her.

Blogging is becoming much more of a social concept.  I wrote an article for the winter edition of Flying Start Magazine (page 36) aimed at new Parent Bloggers, although the advice is the same for everyone.  One observation I made was that blogs used to sit in their little corner of the internet, waiting to be discovered or they were read when you happened to mention to a friend that you wrote a blog.  Very often, blogs were considered a dirty little secret.

Review : Hexbug Nano

"What on earth are Hexbugs?" I hear you ask.  Well, when we opened the parcel with our three Hexbug Nanos in, both mine and Jake's reaction was "Eh? What are these?"  About 0.3 seconds after taking the first Hexbug out of the packet Jake was full of "Oh, WOW" and "OH MY GOD, THESE ARE BRILLIANT!!"


Hexbug Nanos are miniscule robot bugs, no bigger than your little finger.  They are powered by a tiny battery-operated motor that makes them vibrate and scuttle around.  You can build complex mazes (we built one with Lego) for them to find their way around or just watch them flip and bounce off random objects on the kitchen table whilst the dog goes a bit loopy trying to chase after it!  The green one is my favourite and I'm keeping it as a pet.


The Hexbug Nanos are collectible and there are five in each series.  Each Hexbug comes with its own unique serial number so you can register it online, where there is loads more information.  Individual Hexbug Nanos cost £8.99 each and are available at outlets such as Next and Selfridges as well as the Hexbug website.  There are also five-pack complete collections available, cases to store them in and tracks for them to wiggle around.  If you want to get involved in the talk on Twitter then we are using the #hexbuguk hashtag.


Wiggle it. Just a little bit!

Last Wednesday evening I crashed unceremoniously from the table top I was dancing climbing on*.  I was in tears and the dog thought it was a game so leapt all over me.  Son #1 tried to help me up and shoo the dog away at the same time, then got a bit arsey when I cried big, dolloping tears in his face and yelled at him that I couldn't move because my leg hurt.  Kev came in from the other lounge to see what all the noise and then walked out again thinking I was over-reacting.

I limped to bed, in tears.  No-one cared.  My left foot hurt like hell and my right leg was just as bad.

The Gallery : Another Celebration

Recently I have regained contact with one of my primary school friends, Stephanie.  We were having a bit of a catch up and I directed her to my "Old Photos" album on Facebook, where she featured in a couple of the pictures.

She responded by immediately uploading some pictures of her tenth birthday party.
Don't we look just lovely?

Can I Get A Rewind?

(click to enlarge)
The other week we were moving crap from the top of one cupboard to the top of another having a clear-out in the kitchen and we rediscovered two carrier bags full of our old cassette tapes.  At some time in the past four years I had made Kev promise that he wouldn't throw them out.

They are priceless, yet worthless.  I am loathe to throw them out because I'm far too sentimental.  Plus they would have to go to landfill so I'm really fulfilling my role as eco-warrior...  *whistles nonchalantly whilst clinging to the past*

Jukebox Classics,Robert Miles, Alison Moyet, Janet Jackson, Holly Johnson, Duran Duran, The Bee Gees (not mine), Hot Chocolate (I don't remember buying that one either), Paul Simon, Phil Collins, Sam Brown, East 17, all sorts of different compilation albums and almost every 'Now That's What I Call Music!' up to number 21 - but sadly missing what used to be my pride and joy - the original Now That's What I Call Music tape from 1983.  What are we on now?  Number 77?  I'm sure they only used to be released once a year or so.  These days it seems to be once a month.  Can you spot any of your old favourites in that pile?

music pirateYou will notice an abundance of blank tapes too.  There are probably all 'mix tapes' or recordings of the Top 40.  Yes, I was a music pirate, attempting to stop and start the tape before the DJ got a word in (mentioned in passing on this post).  I think there's even a recording of me drunkenly phoning either James Whale or Alan Beswick when they used to be a late night DJ on Red Rose Radio (now Rock FM) and having a little chat about something deep and meaningful.

(by the way, Lancashire people, have a look at this page - Alan Beswick, Simon Tate (the uncle of my friend from primary school ) and many more blasts from the past)


I have no idea what I am going to do with all these tapes now.  We have an old stereo with a tape-deck but the tone is awful compared to quality of music today.  And I can download digitally remastered versions of almost any song now.  Maybe I should stack them up in the lounge and make a 'feature' out of them.  Or I could unravel the tape and knit something.  Or I could just put them back on the top of the kitchen cupboard and sigh nostalgically.

Review : Nintendo Wii - Just Dance 2

Since were were asked to review Just Dance 2 for the Nintendo Wii, it's never been off the console.  But it's not me that's been playing it - oh no.  First I was struck down with the dreaded lurgy and now have a bruised leg and suspected broken toe (long story).

The 11-year old has been mastering all the dances (his favourites are Outkast's 'Hey Ya' and Junior Senior's 'Move Your Feet') but we have to admit that it's not really much fun playing on your own.  It's a great way to work up a sweat, though.  This is much more a multi-player game and it does feel as though it is the next stage up from the original Just Dance game.  Gameplay is essentially the same - the moves are slightly more advanced (but still fun) and there is the option to download some extra tracks.  We had a stray 400 points wafting around in the account so downloaded Katy Perry's 'Firework', which cost us 300 points.


There are modes for up to 8 players and this is going to be a massive hit at our Boxing Day party although I have a feeling that the kids will be much better at it than the adults.  I'm determined to get back to full health as soon as possible so that I can have a bash at James Brown's 'I Got You' and The Pussycat Dolls' 'When I Grow Up'

Inspirational Teaching

Back in the olden days when the world was black and white I was taught by the most amazing man - "Sir" was someone whose teaching was inspirational, ahead of his time and who wasn't afraid to try new teaching methods.  I have mentioned him before.

When I wrote yesterday's post I was reminded about my high school English teacher.  A man who stayed sat behind his desk for the majority of the time, slumped.  A man who appeared to be ambivalent about teaching in general and about the majority of the students who passed through his classroom door.  A man who completely and utterly disliked me - or so I felt at the time.  I don't remember a single compliment passing his lips or a mark that merited mentioning.  I failed English Language and English Literature spectacularly because he marked my work so low that it was unsuitable to be sent to the examination board.

Education Reform and the new Government White Paper

I was listening to BBC Breakfast News this morning and heard snippets of an article discussing the new Government White Paper and the proposed return to exam-based study.  The White Paper suggests that secondary schools will be considered to be failing if less than 35% of their students attain less than 5 Grade C's at GCSE level.

Whoever originally decided that it was a good idea to make 15- and 16-year old kids, raging with hormones, study for two years then judge them for the rest of their lives on a series of 2-hour windows was mad.  Modular learning gives better results all round.  Yes, we should still have exams but they they should be relevant to progression.

Power Cut!

It was 9.45pm.  I was just watching Nigel Havers air-kissing everyone goodbye as he made moves to leave the "I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here" jungle and...
*click*
... we lost all our electricity.  Not just a power surge flicker but the whole house plunged into darkness and silence.
"Told you something was up today," 
shouted Kev smugly from the other room (we have separate lounges - it's brilliant!).  He'd also rung me at work earlier in the day to ask if I knew why the electricity had gone off for a couple of minutes.  I tried to use my ESP, I really did, but my recent flu must have knocked my senses out...

Review : Sound Asleep Pillow

I don't need a lot of sleep and always find it difficult to wind down when I do actually go to bed.  One way to combat this was to listen to podcasts on my mp3 player.  I download all sorts of different ones and pick one a night to listen to.  I must have the strangest shaped ears though because, no matter what I do or what position I lie/sit in, the in-ear style headphones always fall out of my ears.  And for obvious reasons, old-school style headphones throw up all sorts of issues.

Secondly, my husband's snoring has got increasingly worse in recent times.  Occasionally, plugging myself into the dulcet tones of a podcast just about drowns out the throaty growling of the comatose body lying next to me.  He swears blind that he doesn't snore very loud but to prove him wrong, one day I will record him.  Watch this space!

sound asleep pillow
The makers of the Sound Asleep Pillow offered me one of their pillows to try out, convinced it could solve some of my dilemmas.  I was a little wary to start off with as I am very fussy about the softness and height of my pillows but agreed to give it a whirl.

The pillow was a bit thicker than I imagined it was going to be and only after squeezing the pillow REALLY hard could I feel the speaker inside it.  Even the weight of my head doesn't detect it when I am led down.  The universal stereo jack is attached to one corner of the pillow and the lead (detachable for safety and tidiness) is a very generous 120cm long - plenty of length to allow you to flip your pillow over to the cool side without disturbing your mp3 player.

The sound quality is very clear and my husband has said that he cannot hear the speaker even when lying next to me in the bed.  Positive results all round.  I just need to find a cure for the snoring now...

The pillow dimensions are 70cm x 45cm and the traditional Sound Asleep pillow retails at £15 (there is also a memory foam version for £30).  It is available from the Sound Asleep Pillow website or retailers such as Argos, Tesco, B&Q and Littlewooods to name a few.

Published!

Earlier this year I took part in an online creative writing course run by Tim over at Bringing Up Charlie.  The e-course was a great learning experience, even for people who had been writing for a while.  We were split up into focus/support groups (I was lucky enough to be placed with Sandy and Emily), given fantastic guidance and it really built up my confidence to expand on my creative writing.

When the e-course had finished, we were asked to submit some of our favourite pieces to be considered for publication.  Tim has collated and edited the book and it is full of fantastic pieces of writing INCLUDING SOME FROM ME!

You can buy a paperback version of the book direct from Dotterel Press for £8.99 +£1.00 P&P or you can download a version from Lulu for £2.99 (you can also place orders outside of the UK via the Lulu link too) and all profits are being donated to Children In Need.

Community Spirit

There are a number of threads on the Blogger.Ed and British Mummy Bloggers forums asking about how to engage with readers when blogging; how to write, how often to post and how and when to comment.  It's all about social engagement at the end of the day.  After all, why do you write a blog if it's not to offer an opinion or keep in touch with people?

RED

Fame.  The reputation that I had recently acquired was a force to be reckoned with.  I had officially gone public to dispel the rumours but now so many people were determined to make a few quid from their brief acquaintance with me.  If the truth be told, I was sure I didn't know all of them but they were convinced they knew me.  Stories about places I'd never been and events that had never happened, but the media lapped it up and printed it anyway.  It created column inches and sold papers.

The Gallery : Before and After





Here come the girls...


L-R:
Me, Rachel, Amie-Leigh
three generations

The Gallery prompt this week was "Before and After"
You can see all the other entries >>> here <<<
Don't be afraid to join in and link up too - just follow the instructions on the link above.

Related Links:
http://www.iamtypecast.com/search/label/gallery

It's Your Age

I don't feel 38 years old.  I imagine myself to be much younger, even though all the evidence points in the opposite direction.  During my routine contact lens check-up today my optician noticed a few extra vessels in my eyes, partly due to continuous wear but also because of "my age" *runs away, screaming*.  Oh, I also had to walk round town after the appointment looking a right twat with yellow-rimmed eyes because I'd had to have some weird dye inserted into my eyes.  And they'd ended up stinging.  And watering.  A lot!  So maybe some of the sympathetic glances aren't to do with my age, after all.

Being ill messes with my head

On Sunday night my throat feet dry and scratchy.  I knew I was probably coming down with something when Kev walked in and told me I looked tired.  I'm hardly ever ill but just felt a bit rubbish, you know?  So yesterday morning (Monday) I dragged myself into work but got sent home at lunch time on the grounds of "possibly having a contagious disease" (my boss being sarcastic but she knows that I'd fight my way though to the end of the day if she didn't manhandle me out of the door).

Review - Fun and Games for the 21st Century Family


*** FIRST EVER REVIEW OF THIS BOOK ***
(slight exaggeration - it's been mentioned on radio but they forgot to mention the title!!!)


FUN AND GAMES FOR THE 21st CENTURY FAMILYI like to think that I straddle the peripheral between traditional and modern when arranging "entertainment" so when I received an email from Simon Rose asking me if I'd like to review his new book - Fun and Games for the 21st Century Family - I thought this would be a really interesting read.

I wasn't disappointed.  Simon and his partner in crime, Steve Caplin, have managed to rethink family fun using pen and paper alongside modern day technology, such as mobile phones and Google Earth!

The book is clearly laid out showing how many players are needed for each game or activity, any additional equipment and what age it is suitable for with easy-to-understand instructions.  The book (and main index) are in alphabetical order and an additional index at the back groups games into categories - such as 'brain games', 'active games' or 'car games'.  There are over 200 games and activities all together.

The "techno section" is dedicated to helping you understand your computer more; creating and managing programmes that will help you play the games.  The simple "random number generator" - or electronic dice - programme is one that even I can manage to build!

The book works alongside a complimentary website - www.fg-21.com - where you can download all sorts of extras, such as grids and bingo boards to play some of the games.   There is also a forum where you can chat to others about the activities and show-off your animations or videos.

I've picked out some of my favourites and we'll be trying these games out over the next few weeks:
  • Pg 38 - Camera Scavenger Hunt - Photograph your "treasure" rather than collect it.  
  • Pg 40 - Hip Sync - Silent dancing using mp3 players
  • Pg 67 - Car Snooker - Make a "break" like in snooker using colour of passing cars
  • Pg 108 - Speed Texting - Everyone get the same phrase to text and the winner is the quickest
  • Pg 141 - Animation for Beginners - how to make your own stop-motion video
  • Pg 215 - Google Earth tour - Spot the landmark
I've also spotted some of the traditional pen-and-paper games like Dots and Beetle which will be great for our Boxing Day party and full rules for "games from the archives" like conkers and French cricket!  This book is going to be a favourite on our family reading shelf for a long time to come!

* * *

Fun and Games for the 21st Century Family was released on 
2nd November 2010 and retails at £9.99

Talent

Do you ever wish you had a talent?  Nothing spectacular - just something that everyone remembers you for.



 Henry Mancini & His Orchestra - The Pink Panther Theme .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine
I can play the piano and I can read music but I've always wanted to just sit down at the piano at a party and start playing a song that everyone knows, with everyone gathering around the piano, singing along and calling out for the next song.  Old-time party style.  My speciality piece is "The Pink Panther Theme" but that doesn't have any lyrics and when people say, "Great! What else can you play?" I tend to mumble something and wander away from the keyboard.

Do You Want To Moonwalk With Me?


First of all, watch this!

<

It's safe to say that I LOVE *draws a heart in the air* the "Let's Dance" series of games for the Nintendo Wii and almost never film my friends playing the game after a few drinkies (sorry Mick, but your "MC Hammer" is now legendary on Facebook).  Anyway, after seeing the above trailer, the new Michael Jackson - The Experience game is on my "AAARRGGGHHHH I REALLY WANT THAT" list and I'm trying to find out if the trilby and white glove is included.

And before you ask, YES, the floor does light up as I walk down the street.  Doesn't it for you?


Sponsored Post - all will become clear in the very near future

Now That's What I Call A Music Quiz

There's a little bit of oneupmanship a craze going on in Blogland at the moment.  You have Paula with her visual music quizzes (#1 and #2, with #3 to follow on Friday) and Garry with his headbashing soundbites quiz (we don't talk about his first attempt as it was a bit of a flop!) so I've decided to jump on the bandwagon.  This is something I wanted to do with the #FridayTwiz but it moves a bit too fast on a Friday and not everyone has their speakers switched on.

Contraceptives for Kids

Today's media reports that a pilot scheme on the Isle of Wight will allow girls as young as 13 years old to obtain a month's worth contraceptive pills from selected chemists on the island.


What do you think of this?  Do you believe this is the right way to educate our teenagers; by offering them the opportunity to protect themselves against unwanted teenage pregnancies or should we be encouraging them to adhere to the UK law and refrain from sexual activity until they are age 16?

Musical Monday : Desert Island Discs

I was asked by Kate over at The Five F's to choose my Desert Island Discs - just eight pieces of music that I would be prepared to to listen to over and over again.  This sounds easy but it isn't.  Music affects people in many different ways, especially according to what mood they are in when they listen to it.  I spend more time hitting 'NEXT' on my mp3 player than I do actually listening to the tracks.

Anyway, here are a few that are stock favourites.  Songs or tunes that make me catch my breath and stop for a few minutes to sink into the arrangement of sounds and words.

Review : HiPP Organic

HiPP Organic sent me a range of their products for my granddaughter, Megan, to try.  As she is seven months old they gave me some samples from their Stage 2 range:


According to my daughter, Megan has loved ALL of the samples and Mummy's mind is at rest because of the organic ingredients that HiPP lovingly use in their food.  The rice cakes have been great to keep in the cupboard here at Nana's house for when the anklebiters visit.

One great bonus is that all the jars and their lids are reusable - less waste and a great opportunity to store home-cooked food in exactly the right quantities.

HiPP Organic have masses of information on their website, including the ingredients they use, the HiPP Organic Baby Club and lots of expert advice.  You can also find HiPP on Twitter and Facebook.

Pink Friday 5 - Is Your Bra Comfy?

My final Pink Friday post is from T-J (mentioned fleetingly in Pink Friday 4).  T-J runs her own specialist bra fitting service which offers advice for women, specifically for mastectomy/post surgery patients and plus-size ladies.  You can find lots more information about T-J on her 'About Me' page on her Bra-Blog.

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Moving On Up

I read this tweet from Mr Paparazzi this morning and had to laugh.

Songs don't 'storm up the charts' any more.  They go straight in at number one or they are considered a 'flop'.  I had a quick check to see who she is up against this week and according to eli.com the competition is in the form of Judy Collins and Tim Buckley (can you hear that owl too?  Who? Who?) so I think old Chezza is safe.

I want to ride my bicycle - with Tesco Direct

I'll never forget finding my dad, hiding out in the garage, respraying my old bike to give to my sister for her Christmas present.  I was about 8 years old.  I felt a mixture of emotions; sadness because I realised that she wouldn't have a 'new' bike and excitement because I was now 'grown up' and knew what my sister was getting for Christmas.

I Failed!

I was pointed in the direction of the practice version of the UK Citizenship Test online last night (yes, I was bored and it was mentioned in one of the questions on Channel 4's "Million Pound Drop").  This test covers aspects of British history, society and culture and is a requirement when applying for settlement in the UK or full British citizenship.  The test took me just over 7 minutes but you have a full 45 minutes if you need it.

A massive THANK YOU and a warm welcome

Hello readers and welcome to the new look Typecast blog.  If you're reading this post in an RSS reader, please click through and have a look.  It has been the culmination of a throw-away comment on Twitter on Saturday night, kind-hearted help from a few fellow bloggers and tweeters and the donation of a free domain name.  Oh, yes... did you notice the new web address for the blog?  You are now reading "I Am Typecast" - how's that for fancy?  Also, you will possibly be wondering how on earth you ended up reading one of your favourite blogs on a new web address, without actually navigating to it.  That's because all of the hard work has been done for you.  Everything is automatically redirected so just carry on doing what you're doing as the old "typecast2000.blogspot.com" address sends you to here.  You can, of course, change your bookmarks if you really want to.

I WANT MY CHIPPY LUNCH!

I don't know whether this is just Blackburn or if it's happening all over the country but I am DISTRAUGHT that there are no traditional chip shops open on a Saturday lunch time.  Kev wanted a portion of chips to go with some left-over curry, Michael and myself wanted a meat and potato pie (possibly with some peas on top) and Jake wanted a dab butty.

PINK FRIDAY 4 - Painting By Nipples

Everyone is always looking for something a little different to raise awareness and donations for charity and let's face it - sitting in a bath of cold baked beans is so 'last year'.  So when I found out that my fellow #FridayTwiz-er, the lovely Jane Fox of  Fired4U, had organised an evening of 'Painting By Nipples' I was intrigued.  She tells me that is going to be very much like children's hand and foot printing but using *ahem* alternative body parts...

My Life In Film

Fellow blogger Pippa (from over at "A Mother's Ramblings") asked me if I'd ever thought about my life as if it was a film.  Strangely, she wasn't the first person who had asked me this question so I have decided to elaborate on my original answer somewhat.  My life story HAS to be conducted in the style of a musical with a cast of thousands - each trial and tribulation fought through the medium of song.  And just like I mentioned in the original interview, I'd tap dance at some point too.

Review : Playskool Gloworld Musical Gym

I was asked if I would like to test the Playskool Gloworld Musical Gym with my granddaughter, Megan and jumped at the chance.  At seven months old, Megan is becoming very aware of her surroundings, loves tummy time and is almost crawling.  Her frustration at being static has been distracted by the wonderful stimulants on the playmat.

The Playskool Gloworld Musical Gym has a variety of toys that can hang over the play gym or be detatched for interactive play.  All have sensory and tactile features such as satin pull tabs, felt patches, lift-up flaps and the obligatory mirror (Megan's favourite).  There is also a variety of music and even a musical mode that is baby-movement activated.

The play gym is suitable for overhead play (from 0 months onwards), tummy play and sit-up play and requires two AA batteries (not included).  It is also fully machine washable which, as we all know, is a massive bonus where babies are concerned - especially Little Miss Dribble Chops (our Megan!).

Review : Aunt Bessie's

News of my recent review posts has reached as far as the lovely people at Aunt Bessie's.  I was sent some vouchers and asked to buy and test some of the well-known food range as part of their "host-a-roast" challenge.

I must admit that we love our Sunday dinner together as a family and I am very proud of my cooking skills, even if they don't extend much further than basic home cooking.  It is also an opportunity to give Kev the day off because he prepares our evening meals during the week.

I chose to buy our favourite elements of Sunday dinner from the range so that we could compare them fairly and to see if they would make Sunday (or even Christmas) dinner a less stressful affair.  Dinner last week was gammon cooked in the slow cooker overnight, gravy, stuffing and the following:


Aunt Bessie's homestyle roast potatoes
I was really looking forward to these as we love our roasties in this house.  They were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside as promised after 30 minutes of cooking but there was a distinct difference between the small potatoes and the larger ones - the larger ones tasted every so slightly underdone.  We also felt that there wasn't enough in the packet for us all to have a few each (I have growing boys who can eat me out of house and home) because one very large potato took up most of the weight of the pack.  I have since found out that Aunt Bessie's make a "mid week mini roasties" product which may have suited our preferences better.
7/10

Aunt Bessie's honey glazed roast parsnips
Hubby's favourite and these make a lovely change to other veg that we usually have (cauliflower, broccoli, sweetcorn).  I roasted them for the recommended 30 minutes and the smaller ones were great with lovely crispy edges.  The larger ones could have done with a few extra minutes so, again, sizing caused a bit of a disappointment.  They tasted lovely though - the honey glaze was sweet but not too overpowering.
7/10



Aunt Bessies mashed carrot and swede
I wimped out with these and followed the instructions for the microwave (3 minutes) but found that they needed slightly longer.  They "mushed" up well but we found that the taste of the swede overpowered the carrots - we would have preferred it the other way around.  They needed a touch of butter and black pepper too but that may be just the way we like them.  No effort needed to actually make it though.
8/10

Aunt Bessie's irresistible yorkshire puddings
I am always amazed at frozen yorkshire puddings, no matter who they are made by, simply because of the way they have risen and how they retain their crispiness.  They always seem a bit too perfect.  My own yorkshire puddings are legendary and the recipe is used and loved as far afield as South Africa so these had a lot to live up to.  They took exactly (the recommended) four minutes to cook, were really crispy and kept their shape when filled with gravy.
8/10





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If the team at Aunt Bessie's were looking for general feedback I would say that they have to watch the cuts of vegetable in the packets.  The "average" cooking time doesn't work for the mixture of large and small cuts of food and you risk overcooking or undercooking some of the products.  The whole point of using pre-prepared food is to make life easier and for the food to taste as near to perfect as possible.  I know they represent the "rustic" look of home-cooked food but when I'm slicing and dicing I manage to cut everything to a similar size so that it cooks evenly.

I was hoping to recommend the Aunt Bessie's range as a timesaver on Christmas Day. These products are great as an emergency stash if you have extra guests or even to cut corners for a mid-week meal but they won't be replacing my Christmas lunch.

Well Begun Is Half Done

... as Mary Poppins once said.

Today marks the day that I am exactly half way through my degree with the Open University.  I began well and steadily got better at lone study.  Today, I have sat my first official exam in 22 years (apart from the Health & Safety course I did earlier this year) and have spent the last few weeks worrying about it all.

The Gallery : My Favourite Photo

You see the theme this week?  "My Favourite Photo (and why)".  Do you think that is an easy or difficult prompt?  I don't mind admitting that it has left me pondering a-while.  Should I choose a picture of my family, my extended family, scenery...?  But then I remembered a precious keepsake that I have...

Where's My Head At?

I am dreading this week.  Friday is exam day.  The first exam I have taken in 22 years.  I am crap at revising and retaining information so it is also an exam that I am convinced I am going to fail.

Before I continue, I have to say that, in two years of lone study with the OU, this is my first negative experience.  Up until now I have championed the system and I have enjoyed studying for my degree.  This is my fourth module.  It is also the last presentation of this particular module.  The course has been updated and rewritten.  That doesn't excuse the lackadaisical attitude of my tutor.

Review : ZingZillas CD

I'll be honest here.  When I was asked to review this CD as part of my "bargains for Christmas" posting spree I knew that it would never enter the CD tray of my stereo.  As soon as Our Chief Tester of Toddler Toys (Anticyclone Amie) saw the CD, she pounced on it, babbling some nonsense, and refused to release it from her grubby little mitts.  Her mummy and daddy were ever so pleased and were looking forward to bopping along to the track listing back home.

Trophy Boy

When I took Jake out of school back in July for our family holiday, he missed his last week ever of primary school - and his presentation day.  A couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call from his old headmaster inviting him into a Friday assembly to receive his awards.  He had already cleared it with the Year 7 (high school) Head of Year and thought it would be a great opportunity for Jake.  I agreed.

PINK FRIDAY 2 - I was the one in ten

Editors note:  This is Suzie's story and is the twelfth in the series.  Suzie contacted me and offered me her story after reading a previous "Cancer - Your Story" piece.  


Her story is very appropriate  for this Pink Friday series and Breast Cancer Awareness month, as you will see.  You can read Suzie's blog over at No Wriggling Out Of Writing and she's on twitter as @keatsbabe.


Suzie's story has also recently been featured on a six-web-page spread over at So Feminine so please take a look over there for more of her story.




Related Links:
Cancer Research UK
All "Cancer - Your Story" posts
BreastCancerCare.org.uk

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Please note that this blog post contains graphic images
All article images are © Suzie Grogan and reproduced with kind permission

Fat

I have a massive image complex at the moment.  I used to be a stick-thin size 8-10 and now I am a "you carry your weight well" size 14-16.  Finding a diet to suit is a constant battle but I've found that the dog likes brisk walks at about 7pm so we go power-walking together.

Anyway, there *is* a point to all this.  I just don't get it when a well-known national newspaper has decided that "fat" lies somewhere between Katy Perry and Beth Ditto using these images as examples:

Blognonymous : Honesty Is Not Always The Best Policy. Right?

Editors note:  This post was submitted to me to within the ethos of Blognonymous.  The writer would like to remain completely anonymous and is grateful for this "get it all off your chest" opportunity.  Please feel free to comment on this post and offer your advice or thoughts.


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