Hair Envy

I saw the results of a survey from a professional hair product retailer this week (oh yes, this is the sort of exciting email I receive on a daily basis...).  The survey was based around which celebrity hair style women would most like to have *huge eye roll*

The top ten favourites were Kate Middleton (I'm sure she's known as something different these days), Jerry Hall (it's amazing what three weeks on Strictly Come Dancing does for your profile), Cheryl Cole (it must have been her  X-Factor USA BIG hair period and not anything to do with the L'Oreal advert at all), Kelly Brooke, Victoria Beckham, Adele, Holly Willo'booby, Nicole Shirtslinger, Michelle Obama (*ponders that one for a moment*) and someone from Geordie Shore who I've never heard of (Charlotte, if you're that way inclined).

Hang on a minute... don't all these women have long flowing extensions locks?  What's up with short hair?*indignant look*

I think I might have the wrong shaped head for hair because no matter what photo I take into the hairdressers, it never seems to turns out right.  I can't ever remember being totally happy with a hairstyle.  I have serious short-hair envy when it comes to my friends Sian and Laura, and these women would be top of my favourite-celebrity-hair-style list.

celebrity short hair, rihanna, miley cyrus, pink, emma watson, kris kardashian,

What's your hair envy?  Long?  Short?  Something in between?  


[REVIEW] Yellow Mellon

Finding affordable, but well-wearing clothes for children during frugal times can be difficult but Yellow Mellon contacted me asking if they could attempt to prove that their affordable clothing range was worth shouting about.

I had a chat on the phone with Priyanka from Yellow Mellon to find out more about the company.  The reason they can keep their prices so low is because they are either manufactured by them or they are the distributors.  They are able to cut out the middle man and pass on that saving to their customers.  They have been wholesalers of children's clothing since 1964 with their range for children being from newborn to 13 year old (although some lines go up to 16 years old too).  They stock all sorts of well known names such as Disney, Hello Kitty, Spiderman, Manchester United and more and will even be stocking Converse very soon!  Delivery is free in the UK for orders over £40 and you can get £5 off your order if it totals £50 or more.  

You can find Yellow Mellon on Twitter and Facebook where they promote exclusive discount codes and special offers.  Follow or Like to keep up in touch with them.  

Yellow Mellon sent me a winter outfit for my each of my grandchildren - a winter knitted party dress with bow detail and back zip accompanied by a faux fur shrug.  They are going to be great for the Christmas season and are extremely affordable as these dresses retail for £18.99 each on the website.

yellow mellon, winter dresses,

Blognonymous : Waving The White Flag

Blognonymous
Sometimes, it's cathartic to write stuff down and get it 'out there' but it's always useful to have another person's opinion too.  That's what Blognonymous is all about.  When it feels like there is no-one in "real life" to help you order your thoughts and be impartial, we're always here to let you sound off and ask for advice.  Sometimes we know what to do and what we'd advise a friend but when it comes to making those steps for ourselves they seem impossible. 

When commenting, if you prefer to remain anonymous when commenting please sign out of Disqus (if you have used it before), write your comment, click "Post as..." and you will see "guest" appear as an option.

If you would like to contact any of the Blognonymous team please click on the Blognonymous image  for more details.

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A few years ago, I was visiting my GP when he told me that he thought I was suffering from depression.  I hadn't been to work in weeks and had suffered a panic attack on my first day back.  I was spending most of my days lying in bed not bothering to get up and do anything.  I remember saying to him “I’m not depressed” as he handed me the prescription for antidepressants.  And again to my partner when he collected them.  I must have said it to myself a hundred times.  I never took the antidepressants, I just sat them next to my mirror and every morning I would get up and look at them and say “I’m not depressed.”

Now though, I’m experiencing those same emotions, that same lethargic attitude to getting up and going to work.  Only it’s harder because I have two small people depending on me to get out of bed and get them dressed and fed.  Am I depressed?  As a family we’re experiencing one of the most difficult times we've been through yet, as a couple we’re facing a horrible situation of broken trust and trying to rebuild, and on top of all of that we’re facing bankruptcy.  I want to move to a new area and start again but am struggling to overcome the guilt I feel at leaving this place.  My parents moved here to be closer to their grandchildren and we’ll be taking them away.  One of my children has a lot of close friends and we would be taking that away from her.  Would it just be escapism because we’re going through a rough patch?  We’re quite heavily involved in our community and I have quite a public job so suddenly withdrawing from that would raise a lot of questions, questions we’d have to provide an answer to.

I feel as though all these things are jostling for space in my mind and I just want to clap my hands over my ears and scream “enough!”

But, what I really don’t want to do is go to my GP.  I don’t want to say “I think I’m depressed” because I know they’ll prescribe me antidepressants and I don’t want to take a pill.  I’m scared of what taking an antidepressant will mean for the girl who always manages to keep the plates spinning.  It’s what makes me who I am, I’m the person who can always get everything done, who never has to turn anybody away because I’m always on the ball.  I feel like it would be admitting defeat to need to take something to help me. 

And so I’m stuck.  I know, in the end, I’ll be OK because I've been here before.  At one time when I was at college I didn't sleep for a week as I couldn't shut off.  I left college after my exams finished, a year early.  I tell everyone it was because I fell out with my history teacher which is one small part of it but I gave up the opportunity to go to university because I couldn't cope with the pressure.  I spent the last few months before my exams not attending college and not being able to get out of bed.  But I got over that, got a job, met my husband and life moved on.

Until we were planning our wedding, which is when I had my first panic attack and when I saw the GP.  Since then, other than becoming slightly unhinged after the birth of my two children I've handled things well.  I've not been back in this place.  So I’m battling inner thoughts of “I know I’ll be OK  because I've been OK before.  I've walked this path and I've come out the other side.

But I also know that if I were reading this about someone else I would tell them that they needed to get help.  That these are the ramblings of a woman who needs to talk to someone. 

So I guess I’m putting this out there because I want to hear from other people who've admitted they need help.  I am, honestly, the kind of person who worries about the words that they will use to explain something.  What do I say to my GP?  She’s quite a hard woman and I don’t want to have to convince her that I’m depressed, but do I just come out and say it?  What will that mean for my children, for my job? 

And this is where I get stuck, because I don’t want to lose any of the things I've worked so hard to build up.  I told someone recently about our personal struggles and we suffered hard repercussions.  My experience in life has taught me that telling people things about yourself makes you vulnerable and people will expose that vulnerability.  So I mostly want to know how to sort this out behind closed doors, without telling anyone.  But I’m running out of options.  I can’t explain to my two children why mummy doesn't want to play, or why she hasn’t made the tea until daddy gets home which is really when it should be bedtime.  Or explain to my boss why I’m calling in sick again with a migraine but really it’s a stress headache linked to the fact that I haven’t slept properly in a month.  Or help my husband to understand why I’m crying down the phone because he told me to make the dinner in a saucepan and I don’t want to make it in a saucepan, I want to use my casserole dish.

I suppose this is the time when I wave my little flag that reads “help”.

The humble Digestive biscuit. Boring or misunderstood?

digestive, biscuit, instagram, typecast, dunking,
It is two days before payday and the cupboards feel a bit like they should belong in Old Mother Hubbard's house.  I was looking for something to snack on with my mid-afternoon brew (tea with three sugars, if you don't mind) but it looks like the teenagers in the house have cleared us out.  Well, everything except the Digestives.
  • The humble Digestive biscuit.  Boring or misunderstood?
This was the question I pondered whilst munching on the abandoned biscuits so I did what any serious blogger did.  I Instagrammed the fuck out of a picture of my grub and posed my social media network with the same question.  The responses were interesting.

Twitter, as always, was the most responsive (I don't think this lot have anything better to do):
  • It's my favourite biscuit (@caroljs)
  • Misunderstood! Spread on some chocolate, philadelphia and you have a match made in heaven. But just as nice with cheese and Branson [sic] pickle (@mumsmoments who did apologise for the typo afterwards)
  • My boy would rather have a digestive biscuit than any other kind (@RedRoseMummy)
  • Oh so full of possibilities. With chedder & pickle, cream cheese, jam & cream. Or just plain dunked! (@DebutotsNWHerts)
  • Misunderstood. Excellent for dunking or with butter.  Lots of butter (@lesleyannp1)
  • Misunderstood. No digestives, no scrummy cheesecake base (@milliepaw) [best answer yet]
  • I love digestives. Only recently realised they are graham crackers in the U.S. (@margotbarbara - but @pinget tells me that graham crackers have zero fibre/fiber)

There was no response on Google Plus (*silent weeping*) so I think I'll stick to geeky type conversations and link sharing over there was saved when these updates appeared:

The original picture on Instagram drew in:

My Facebook crew must have slightly more refined tastes:
  • Boring, so boring. I haven't eaten one since I was a child... and even then it was because it was that or nothing. (Danielle)
  • I buy a packet of chocolate digestives every week. Love 'em!!! (Av)
  • The humble digestive is one of the best foodstuffs known to mankind.  It goes with sweet or savoury, cheese especially and it can be dunked in tea, coffee or lemon barley water (recommended).  All hail the digestive.  (Rob)

And on that note... I'm off to do some spreading, dunking and experimenting.

How do you like yours?


Music Nostalgia - The Hits Tape 6

cassette tapes, compilation tapes, 1980s, 1990s,


Hits Tape 6 front cover, I uploaded the image above as my new cover picture on Facebook and even though I've written about my discovery of old cassette tapes before, it sparked another discussion, with Leanne highlighting my ownership of The Hits Tape 6 and realising what a bloody good playlist it actually is.

*note to self: nostalgia blurs all memories

Anyway, I decided to create a YouTube playlist of all the tracks on this compilation album and now I'm going to share it with you.  Two whole hours of 1980's music in the same order as the original playlist!

You might like to subscribe to my YouTube channel too as I'm going to make some more compilation playlists to keep me from boredom and out of mischief amuse me whilst I have some time off work.

Enjoy!


Soundtrack To My Life - Sam B

soundtrack to my lifeIf one person needed to join in with Soundtrack To My Life, it's my friend Sam.  We have had interesting music chats in the past, share a love of vinyl and come from an era where Woolworths was the (only) record shop of choice.  Sam is neither a blogger nor a tweeter (I know... in this day and age too!) although she did dabble in blogging about a year ago but real life events took precedence.  I'll leave a couple of links for you to read at the end of this post and you can pester her to take it back up again.  In the meantime, over to Sam. 


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Boney M - The Rivers Of Babylon


This song just reminds me of being happy and being a kid.  It has lovely childhood memories associated with it of a great family holiday in Tunisia and having no worries, no stress and just enjoying being a child.  I hear it and I'm transported back to the 1970's



The Boomtown Rats - I Don't Like Mondays

I'm 11, about to go to high school and I've just met my best friend, Helen.  She knows me better than anyone else and 33 years on we are still going strong through the ups and downs of life!  We would sit and watch this on Top of the Pops and I was intrigued by the video - when videos were still a big novelty and not everyone did them.



The Housemartins - Happy Hour

This song just reminds me of FREEDOM.  Being 18, leaving home and going off to college.  It was a great time in my life with endless possibilities and new experiences, meeting lots of people from all different walks of life.  Things weren't going too great back at home but I was miles away, wrapped up in my new life and being selfish like only 18 year old's can.



Faith No More - Epic

A horrible time in my life, living at the opposite end of the country where I didn't really know anyone, had no job and was in a crap relationship that I knew wasn't working.  I was living in a house full of hippies who didn't do any housework, going bonkers!



The Raconteurs - Steady As She Goes

I have to feature my favourite band.  It's very apt.  And I like to think of it as my theme song in life.
Just keep swimming...




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soundtrack to my life
So I promised to link to a couple of Sam's blog posts from last year.  Here is "I wish that I knew what I know now, what I was younger" and "In praise of vinyl".  She describes herself as a "grumpy, underachieving Notherner" but she's pretty great really.

If you want to join in with Soundtrack To My Life you can complete this form and I'll be in touch when your feature is due to go live.  Click on the mix-tape to the right to read all the "Soundtrack To My Life" entries.

Soreen Snacks (including a chance to grab some goodies)

soreen, malt loaf, squidgy goodness, energy,
Recently I have been road testing Soreen (formally known as "malt loaf" *insert nostalgic music and wavy screen here*) along with half of Blackburn and we're all convinced it's the best thing since sliced... Soreen toastie loaf.  

Anyway, I have discovered the virtues of using Soreen to snack on at work.  Aside from it being completely scrummy, I'm the most popular person in my office thanks to my foresight of freezing some of my enormous supply of Soreen toastie loaf.  Now it seems that I have a never-ending supply of lunch-time goodies.

Because Soreen Lunchbox Loaves meet the Government's food-based nutritional standards they are great to use for a snack any time of the day.  I've also been hearing about toastie loaf for breakfast, lunch or supper (not all three on the same day... *cough*) and keeping the mini-loaves in bags for a mid-afternoon snack (for parents, not the kids).

What I'd like you to do is share your healthy lunchbox/snack box ideas with me.  You don't have to be a blogger to join in either.  You can link up a photo from Facebook (make sure the picture is set to 'public' so we can see it) or Instagram.  You can share a post from Google Plus (I love this photo of  Soreen Lunchbox Loaf Jenga from Alex).  You can write about a healthy lunchbox or picnic favourite that your kids ask for over and over again.  Feel free to let your imagination run wild and give me some great ideas.

If you're brand new to 'linkys' then don't worry - it's really easy!  You need the web address from your browser for your photograph or blog post.  You can find that in the long white box at the top of your screen.  Highlight the whole link and paste it into the the box below that says "Your URL".  Enter your name in the other box and hit ENTER.  You're done!  If you've got ANY problems at all just leave me a comment  or give me a shout on Twitter or Facebook and I'll give you a hand.

ONE LUCKY, RANDOMLY* CHOSEN, PARTICPANT will receive a Soreen goody bag!  Also, every participant will receive some Soreen Vouchers (please complete the form below - your details will not be seen by other readers of this blog).  If you have any queries about this activity please refer them to Nicola at nicola@mumpanel.co.uk
*"random" in this case means "using an official random number generator" or "getting someone on Twitter to shout a number at me". 



FORM REMOVED AS THIS OFFER HAS NOW CLOSED 


This is a promotional post in conjunction with Soreen.  For more details please see my disclosure policy






Terms & Condions:

  • Vouchers and the goody bag will be provided by the marketing team behind this Soreen campaign and is available to my readers in the UK only
  • This linky will remain open until midday (12:00 GMT) on Sunday 4th November 2012
  • Every participant will receive Soreen Vouchers if they have provided the necessary contact information as requested.
  • There is no cash alternative for any of this offer

Simple Rules

My radio listening is a bit erratic to say the least.  My time in the car and who I share my office with determines which radio shows I listen to.

I was working in another town yesterday and could afford to set off a little later than normal so I was listening to Radio 2 in the car.  I caught a 'Pause For Thought' type chat between Chris Evans and Rev. Rob Gillion which made me smile.  It also made me think that it's always the simple ideas that work the best.  

The theme was that we have more in common that we have differences and The Rev suggested that we should live by these rules set out in our nursery schools:
  • Play fair
  • Share everything
  • Don't hit people
  • Don't take things that are not yours
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt someone
  • Have biscuits and milk and take a nap in the afternoon
  • When you go out into the world watch for traffic, hold hands and stick together

Easy, yeah?  Shouldn't we all follow these rules?  I'm up for it!

beach, simple rules, kite surfing, st annes-on-sea,



Malt Loaf or Soreen. Who cares? IT'S SQUIDGY GOODNESS!

A short while ago I received a text from my husband.  We'd had our delivery of malt loaf goodies from Soreen HQ for the purpose of helping them promote some of their new products.  My mind flipped back to an email from their PR, Nicola, that said, "... and you'll get a ton of product samples."  She wasn't kidding!

So, I tipped it all out and created a few gift boxes for the neighbours (I bet I get a nomination for Neighbour Of The Year now, or at least the posh Christmas cards with the gold edging) and went up and down the street giving it out.  I sent some round to my daughter's house and took some to work.  My popularity count has never been so high.  Everyone loved the retroness of it all and when I recommended toasting it, they all went wild!

We've run a few taste tests and have declared the new banana mini-loaves the best thing ever invented in the 'healthy snack' world and the pre-sliced toastie loaf a little bit moreish (two slices isn't enough, four is probably too much but you can't get enough of the warm squidge if that's your thing).  The individually wrapped lunchbox loaves (original recipe) are ideal to keep in your bag for a mid-morning/afternoon snack and they meet the Government's food based nutritional standards.

What I'm going to do is host a Lunchbox Linky this Thursday.  I want your fantastic ideas for lunch box fillers for the kids, for work, for picnics - anything at all.  If you're short on inspiration you could take a look at the lunches that Pippa creates for her children.  You can link up an old or new post and maybe I'll end up having a half term carpet picnic with the grandchildren.  There will be Soreen vouchers for everyone who joins in and hopefully, I'll be able to arrange to send one lucky entrant a few extra Soreen goodies.

In the meantime you can win a Soreen goody bag by completing this survey or nominate someone to receive a visit from the Soreen van.  You can also find Soreen on all the usual social media platforms: 


This is a promotional post in conjunction with Soreen.  For more details please see my disclosure policy.

What Do You Do With All The Photographs You Take?

Since I bought a good digital camera last year I've become a bit obsessed with having some of the best images turned into canvas prints.  Here are some of the images I've had printed out this year - all for very different reasons...

jar of hearts, red, dog on beach, yoshi,

(click 'em to big 'em)

sunset, algarve, portugal, morecambe bay,

They look beautiful on canvas and I've made sure that they are displayed on their own on the wall as a 'statement piece'.  I'm also thinking of creating a collage-type canvas of pictures of my grandchildren as a present for someone at Christmas.  

However, I'm now a bit obsessed by choosing images to print out especially as I am offered canvas prints to review from time to time (keep the offers coming, guys... I don't mind).  Sometimes I pick up the camera on a day out and try and to capture that perfect picture so that I can show it off on my wall.  

But I followed a link on Twitter a short while ago which lead to an article on PetaPixel.  It was a discussion about an piece from the New York Times.  It asked the question, "Are parents taking too many pictures of their children?".  One of the people who commented said that sometimes you need to get out from behind the camera and just enjoy more sunsets.  Another said that their parents used to create one photo album per year from the photographs taken, now it feels as though the are creating a (digital) album once a month, maybe more.  I had another think about why I am taking the photographs especially as I am also snapping on my mobile phone and uploading to Instagram whilst on the move.

As is with everything, moderation is the key.  I don't want my grandchildren to remember me as the Nana who always had a camera in front of her face but I also want to record their amazing progress through life that didn't I capture with my own children because camera film and developing was expensive when they were younger.  Now I can just transfer the images over to my computer hard drive, store them indefinitely and print out a favourite one or two (after favourable editing, of course) instead of a full film.

What about you?  Do you take too many pictures?  Not enough?  What do you do with the pictures you take?


This post contains a sponsored link.  For more details please see my disclosure policy.

Keep The Magic Alive At Christmas With The Portable North Pole

portable north pole, santa, pnp, christmas
Christmas is almost upon us and this year I'm getting quite excited.  Over the past few years, the build-up has been slightly muted because teenagers and grown-up children tend not to get too excited about the countdown.  Now that my grandchildren are at the age where they can get enthusiastic about Christmas, it is the perfect opportunity to be the best Nana in the world and arrange for them to send a message to Santa through the Portable North Pole website.

I organised this for Jake a couple of years back.  He was at that stage in life where he was questioning the logistics of the delivery of presents but still wanted to keep the magic alive for just another year.  It did the trick!  All I had to enter was his name, the town we live in, what he really wanted for Christmas and also to upload a photo of him.  That was the clincher, right there!

It's worth bookmarking the website now so that you can see when their new video is live (you can also arrange an email reminder) and you can have a look behind the scenes where the most important questions, such as "How do reindeers fly?" and "Does Santa wear anything other than his red suit?" are answered.  In fact, the new video for 2012 will show you exactly what Santa wears at home. 


The PNP website will be live from November but they also offer birthday messages for the rest of the year too.  You can keep in touch with them on Twitter and Facebook too but those streams seem to be the source of bad jokes like 
"What's the difference between the Christmas alphabet and the ordinary alphabet?  The Christmas alphabet has Noel."
Ho, ho, ho...


This post contains a sponsored link.  
For more details please see my disclosure policy.

Listography : Reincarnation

Kate Takes Five, Listography
Kate is back on the Listography trail again and this time she is asking us what we would like to be reincarnated as (click the image to the left go to her link post).  Yeah, I thought it was a bit weird but it has got me thinking and that's always a dangerous move.  I don't believe in an afterlife so you don't need to worry about me haunting you or being your guardian angel, however... if I did get the chance to grace the Earth again this is possibly where you might find me.



ISS Astronaut

I almost wished myself back as Felix Baumgartner but I've seen what other mad shit he's got up to in the past.  The 'Live Jump' from the edge of space was awesome but leaping off buildings and statues, Point Break style, is just a step too far for me.  However, being an International Space Station Astronaut... can you imagine seeing sights as fucking amazing as this out of your office window every. single. day. of your working life?  

UK from space at night

Simon le Bon's microphone

There are SO many superlatives whizzing around my head at the moment it is impossible to put anything to paper.  I did consider coming back as Yasmin le Bon but that would have been too greedy so let us just look at a picture of what I could be  *le sigh*

simon le bon, simon le bon singing,

Someone with a Really Good Idea

I'd be happy with being part of a ground-breaking research team and I know there is plenty of time for me to fulfill this myself but I'm a bit busy at the moment.  I'd like to be a nerdy-type person like Larry Page or Sergey Brin (the inventors of Google) or someone who finds a proper cure for all cancers.  

ideas

A dancer

Just to dance and prance and twirl and create and rehearse and perform and have people watch me.  This sounds daft but sometimes I dream about being famous enough to have been forgotten about so that I can be invited to appear on Strictly Come Dancing.  

dancer

Hindsight

Yeah... that's what I'll come back as.  Hindsight.  Then I can be even more of a clever and smug bitch than I am now *ahem*

hindsight




Picture Credits |  1: European Space Agency, Flickr  |   2: Zimbio  |  3:  Google Images  | 4: Book530  |   5: Telegraph

Baking from the 1970s

Hamlyn All Colour Cook Book
A while back, whilst lunch time browsing in a charity shop, I found this recipe book.  Nothing special but I recognised it immediately as one that my mum used to have.  It is a proper 1970's cook book with no new-fangled techniques.  When we cleared her house after she died, my sister and I wanted to keep all the "family" books but we were both moving house ourselves at the time and attempting to clear out rather than accumulate.  Needless to say, a lot of childhood memories were passed on to new homes.  Just for sentimentality reasons, I had to buy this book from the charity shop and the Golden Girl behind the till charged me just one English pound.  Since then it has sat on my recipe book shelf, collecting dust, with me looking guiltily at it every time I walk past it.  But I smile because it reminds me of Mum.

Jake is fascinated with baking at the moment but his attention span is next to zero thanks to his ADHD.  He is a starter but not usually a completer, yet he is always full of enthusiasm.  Baking is a good way to get him enthused about an end result because he's interested in the science of the combination of the ingredients and the praise he receives from us when we taste the finished product makes him glow. 

lemon flan, raspberry meringue, recipe, cook book,
He has nerded out over the book a lot recently, listening to the story behind it, browsing the recipes, wondering why he doesn't see cakes and bakes that are shown in the pictures.  He wanted to make something so I told him to choose a few, we'd have a read through them together and get on with it.

Twenty quid lighter at Adsa and we had the ingredients (and piping bags/nozzles) to make a raspberry meringue and a lemon tart.  I was thinking that these had better be stupendously good cakes for that price.

To make things even more nostalgic, I did actually manage to hang onto a great deal of baking equipment when we distributed Mum's belongings.  I have lots of ceramic-ware, her old scales, her mixing bowl and a few other bits and pieces.  I use them quite a lot because they feel... I don't know... comfortable.

baking equipment, scales, mixing bowl, flan dish,


So we have followed the original recipes and we've used the original techniques.  We have made vanilla custard from scratch and created real meringues (that didn't dry out properly but that was our own timing issues).  We have spend most of the day making two desserts that we probably could have bought for a quarter of the price whilst we were in Asda BUT there's been a little bit of Mother/Son time, a small amount of learning, the exercising of a lot of patience and some pretty yummy food created.






70 London Underground Stations In One Picture

London Underground Stations, art, picture

I spotted a tweet yesterday from @WalkTheLinesLDN which linked to this picture
(Mark's book looks amazing, by the way - a walk along the London Underground - overground - passing each station on the way - Amazon link if you're buying me a present here - Walk The Lines) .

You can find a large version of the picture here 
and a bit of googling sent me to the original blog post on Look For Longer.

There are apparently more than 70 London Underground stations on this picture.  I got about ten at first glance.  They are very cleverly incorporated into the drawing and some are more obvious than others.  When you find them, stick them in the comments and let me know what part of the picture you saw them in.

My first spots were:
Barbican (Barbie & Ken)
Lambeth (the lamb in a bath)
Elephant and Castle (sign on the pub)
Knightsbridge (knight and horse crossing the bridge)
Shepherds Bush (shepherd stood next to a bush in the road)

Now it's your go!

You, Me And A Cup Of Tea

This year I have enjoyed supporting CLIC Sargent on my blog.  Whilst it is the UK's leading children's cancer charity, it's a charity very close to my heart for many reasons - mainly because this charity (then known as the Malcolm Sargent Fund) supported our family when my daughter was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma back in 1992.  

A while back I shared a short story with you called "Fancy A Brew?"  I had written it especially for Tetley and their book "You, Me and a Cup of Tea" which has been published to raise funds for CLIC Sargent.  The book was released on 1st October 2012 and Tetley actually chose to include my story in the book (it's entry #20)

You Me and a Cup of Tea, Tetley, CLIC Sargent, cancer,

The book includes 175 heart-warming stories about tea drinking or sharing a special cup of tea with a loved one.  Dozens of celebrities have also written short stories for the book and, as I flick through my copy, I can see entries from Richard Wilson, Christine Hamilton (on the page after me), Derren Brown, Sarah Beeny, Melanie C, Denise van Outen and Mario Cacciottolo (of Someone Once Told Me) alongside stories from everyday folk.  Each story should only take a minute or two to read so ideal to accompany your brew.

You, Me and a Cup of Tea is a limited edition book and, if you've got a spare tenner, you can buy it from the Tetley website (It's £7.99 plus £1.99 P&P).  Proceeds from the sale of the book go to CLIC Sargent.


Visit the CLIC Sargent website here

The General Motors Diet : Weird or Wonderful?

I find all sorts of mad webpages through various means (I'm looking at you b3ta and StumbleUpon) and I'm not sure if it's representative of my current search history but a lot of yoga and diet pages seem to be thrown up (no pun intended) from all sides at the moment.  The General Motors Diet managed to find its way onto my screen and I'm fascinated and horrified all at the same time.  The idea behind the diet is that the food eaten burns more calories that they give to the body in calorific value (source: GM Diet Works) and the target weight loss is 10-17 lb IN A WEEK which sounds like my kind of diet.  Let's read on...

Rule 1:  You must abstain from all alcohol for the first seven days.
Oohh that's going to be DIFFICULT.  Powering through...

Rule 2:  You must drink 10-15 glasses of water each day.
I can't find out what size glasses.  Shot glasses = easy peasy.  Pint glasses = maybe needing to sit on the loo for the full seven days and have my meals brought to me.

Rule 3:  You can have as much of the GM soup (recipe provided) as you want.
I've looked at the ingredients.  It seems to be more water, cabbage and packets of powdered onion soup mix.  Yum!

Day 1.  Eat nothing but fruit.  Yes, there are no bananas.
Day 2.  Eat nothing but vegetables.
Day 3.  Eat a mixture of fruit and veg.  Learn to fart to music.
Day 4.  Bananas and milk.  Nothing else.  You can have as many as eight bananas and three glasses of milk.
Day 5.  Beef and tomatoes.  Nothing else.  A veritable feast.
Day 6.  Beef and vegetables.
Day 7.  Brown rice, fruit juice and all the vegetables you can eat if you're not dead from starvation.

Day 8.  WINE, TAKE AWAY, CRISPS, JAW ACHE, HYPERACTIVITY.  Oops, sorry.  That was my inclusion.

In a weird sort of way I want to try this diet but I know for a fact that I wouldn't have the will power and I'd probably die through boredom.  There is no exercise involved which is great for couch potatoes like me but it probably means that if I did attempt to go to the gym during the week my left would fall off through muscle wastage or something.

So, who's with me?  What's that?  A resounding "NO"?  Aaawww....



P.S.  Does anyone know what the connection to General Motors is?  Did they make their employees follow this diet?  There seems to be no answers even on this link from World of Diets who look at the ins and outs of the diet.

Photo credit : someecards

Help your child pick the right musical instrument


Musical Instruments, silhouette,
I am apparently getting a letter home from school this week that explains Jake has been given the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument at school.  He is convinced he is going to learn to play the drums.  I have  told him that he can on the one condition... that he teaches me too. as learning to play the drums is on my bucket list.  I have had this guest post pending for a while so now seems the right time to publish it.  I'll let you know how I get on with choice of instrument and my earplugs of choice.

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There’s a decent chance that at some point your child will ask to learn a musical instrument like guitar lessons online, or it might be something that you as a parent would like your kids to do. Playing music can be one of the most rewarding ways to spend time, and it is a great way to make friends and develop self-confidence too – so if your child shows an interest in music it’s a great hobby to encourage.  

You may also have experience of a child starting an instrument and then losing interest. Maybe you even did this yourself when you were younger. No one wants to spend vast amounts of money on lessons and instruments that will get tossed aside not long after; and you probably don’t want to force your child to become a musical prodigy if they don’t seem enthusiastic, either. 

So how do you get your kids into music without wasting money? How do you know they are really interested and it’s not just a phase? The key is finding the right instrument. Kids (and grown-ups) don’t necessarily find their perfect instrument first time around. To develop a passion for a particular instrument you need to love the music that you’re making, enjoy your physical interaction with the instrument, and it needs to be fun.

With that in mind, how do you help your child make the right choice? Well, music taste is something that never stops developing, so a good indication for a young child is simply to look which musicians grab their attention. If your son is captivated by Jerry Douglas then maybe you need to get that boy a slide guitar. And if your daughter sees Sleater Kinney on TV and it looks like she’s having a life altering epiphany watching Janet Wiess, then I’m afraid to say maybe you’ve got a drummer on your hands. 

The other key thing is to listen to your child and try not to let your own preferences influence the decision. You might love the idea of having a flautist in the family, but if your child is telling you they want to play sax then don’t be surprised when the flute gets abandoned a couple of months later.

It might seem obvious but one of the most overlooked barriers to a long term musical commitment is that your child needs to actually like the pieces their teacher gives them. I remember losing my mind playing Camptown Races on the trumpet, and I look back now and think that maybe if I’d been playing Sir Duke I might have enjoyed it a lot more!

If your child isn’t getting fun pieces set in their lessons, look online! There are loads of free online tutorials and tabs to learn pretty much every song you can think of. Have a look for decent deals on broadband, and then sit your child in front of Youtube and you’ll be amazed what they can learn for free on the internet.
The last, really important thing to remember is that some people just need to try a few things out before they find the right instrument.  If you can borrow an instrument from a friend, your school, or even hire one out, do that until you’re sure you want to spend the money on buying one.

Learning to play music could be a really positive experience for your child, but it might take a bit of patience and perseverance to find the right instrument. One thing is for sure, it will be totally worth it when they do. 

This article was written by Caz Adlington on behalf of iCrossing. 
This post contains a sponsored link.  For more details please see my disclosure policy.



On Being Part Of Innovative Social Media

I've just seen this tweet in my Twitter timeline...

mum panel, twitter, Social Buzz Awards, Clic Sargent,

... so I had a bit of a scout around t'internet.

The Social Buzz Awards are open to all social media/digital agencies, creative agencies, media agencies and a whole host of other businesses and individuals who are based in the UK and work within the social media field.  The nominations (albeit paid entry) are judged by a panel and judgement is based on: 
  • clear strategic thinking
  • innovation
  • effectiveness
  • tangible results
  • creativity

and you can see Mum Panel's finalist announcement on the Social Buzz Live Blog (scroll down to 3:37).  But why am I telling you this?

CLIC Sargent
I'm telling you this because I was honoured to be involved in the #dosomethingyummy campaign that has earned Mum Panel their nomination.  

Back in February of this year I played a major role assisting with "connecting bloggers".  Working with Mum Panel, I coordinated a month-long creative writing programme that raised awareness for CLIC Sargent and their Yummy Mummy week.  

I was hugely proud to be a part of this because CLIC Sargent (then the Malcolm Sargent Fund) supported my family when my daughter was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at Pendlebury Children's Hospital in 1992.

But it wasn't just me.  EIGHTY bloggers took part and they produced a total of 152 blog posts.  As a collective we created a month-long buzz on social media that meant awareness of childhood cancer was heightened and the good work that CLIC Sargent do was talked about.  CLIC Sargent became the second most talked about 'brand" amongst parent bloggers for the month of February 2012 and the ninth most talked about 'brand' for March 2012 (source: Tots100 Brand Index February and March 2012).

And if that's what wins awards then I'm proud to be a part of it.  Well done Mum Panel!


You can find all the related #dosomethingyummy posts here
This post also appears on Geekalicious

Soundtrack To My Life - DorkyMum

soundtrack to my lifeOccasionally I find a blog that has the perfect mix of words and pictures. Then you hear the owner of that blog read out one of their own posts and understand even more why their words and pictures completely fit in your world.  Ruth's "Twitter is like..." post made me nod along when I first read it but after hearing her read it out at BritMums Live, in her soft lilt, it made it more of a beautiful piece of prose.  This is Ruth's fabulous Soundtrack To My Life and I had a giggle at the story behind the Josh Rouse one.


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U2 - The Sweetest Thing

When I was at high school I had to go on a two week work experience placement. I ended up stuck in the basement of a graphic designer's office for a fortnight, sticking pictures onto pieces of cardboard and making coffee for the staff. This song was on the radio CONSTANTLY (along with Perfect 10 by the Beautiful South) and I can't hear it without it bringing back memories of that time. 


[popout : http://youtu.be/5WybiA263bw



Culture Club - Karma Chameleon

After finishing my exams, I went on holiday to Crete with two friends for a week. There were a lot of vodka shots and a lot of dancing on tables, mainly in a really tacky but oh-so-fun 80s Bar. I came home and had to buy the Greatest Hits of Culture Club, Spandau Ballet and the Human League to keep the memories alive.


[popout : http://youtu.be/JmcA9LIIXWw



Josh Rouse - Winter in the Hamptons

In the sunny summer of 2005, you could still walk into a shop and buy mushrooms of the, erm, magic variety. Making the most of my last days as a student, I decided I would. One night I ate an entire bag of them, and then I put on my headphones, put this song on repeat, and walked to the top of a nearby hill. The sunrise was lovely, but it took me a good eight hours or so to find my way back home. That's a lot of Josh Rouse.


[popout : http://youtu.be/qd_kN9PyU8A



The Proclaimers - Sunshine on Leith

I am not the biggest fan of the two speccy Edinburgh boys, but this song is imprinted on my brain forever. A couple of weeks before we got married, DorkyDad and I realised that we'd never really danced together in public, and we had a bit of a panic about doing our first dance. We hired a lovely dance instructor couple to come to our house for an hour, cleared everything out of our dining room, and spent an hour waltzing up and down the wooden floor to Sunshine on Leith. Apparently it has the perfect beat for beginners...


[popout : http://youtu.be/6BDj4mr0fBc]



Crowded House - Heaven that I'm Making

I knew that labour for first time mothers could be a fairly drawn out experience... but I didn't expect an entire week of contractions every ten minutes. Daytimes were fine, because I could distract myself. Night-times were awful, because I was exhausted but too uncomfortable to sleep. So I listened to an awful lot of music on my iPod, and for some reason found Crowded House to be the most comforting. This song remains one of my favourites.


[popout : http://youtu.be/Hds1X1O9r2w]

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soundtrack to my life
If you've not already followed the "Twitter is like..." link you can find Ruth, blogging as her pseudonym "Dorkymum" or you can catch her on twitter as @dorkymum.

If you want to join in with Soundtrack To My Life you can complete this form and I'll be in touch when your feature is due to go live.  Click on the mix-tape to the right to read all the "Soundtrack To My Life" entries.