Mother of Purl

I've been knitting for, like, FOREVER!  I turned a few heads on the maternity ward when I was eighteen years old and knocked out three matinee jackets in a week whilst I was kept in 'for observation' during my first pregnancy.  Before Christmas I was sent a "knit your own snowman" kit as a thank you from John Lewis for sharing their 'Making Of...' video.  I promised myself that I would get it finished before Christmas Day... AND I DID!

knitted John Lewis snowmanWell, I finished the knitting part of it.
Then I realised I didn't have any toy stuffing.
Then I had a drink and Christmas happened.
Then I realised I had caught the knitting bug so I subscribed to a knitting magazine on my Nook HD.
Then the market re-opened after Christmas and I took a trip to buy some toy stuffing and some wool and some needles.
knitted hatThen I finished the snowman properly (yay!)
Then I made a hat from a pattern in one of the knitting magazines back copies.
Then I realised I wanted to knit more.
Then I took a trip back to the market and bought more wool.
Then I posted up my Silent Sunday picture for this week and received comments such as, "I didn't have you pegged as a knitter" and, "Are you making anything nice?".

So this is what I have made over the past couple of days.  Each item has taken just a few hours to make - GOD BLESS CHUNKY WOOL AND BIG NEEDLES!  In case you can't tell what they are, from left to right, there is a hat (for me, as in the picture above), a bag (which is adapted from a pattern I found on t'internet) and another bag (which started life as a scarf to match the hat but I changed my mind half way through)

knitted bags and hat

Next on the list is a weird sort of scarf, a lace-style shrug and poncho type thing (that's what I call a "big" project).  So, in the new year, I think I'll be spending a LOT of time on Pinterest looking for inspiration and free patterns.  And, knowing me, the cross-stitch will probably make an appearance again soon too!


New Year Honours List (Typecast Style)

Today is the day that the New Year Honours List is published.  Many great people being recognised for their great achievements and many great people seemingly absent from the list.  Well, we're British... we have to have something to moan about, don't we?  Anyway, in true Typecast style, I thought I'd do something similar.


google plus logo
First I have to champion Google Plus and the continuous work being put into creating a platform that is both user friendly from a laypersons point of view and useful from a brand/business point of view has to be recognised.  And also a gratuitous mention for Rosie - someone I've met through blogging and admire greatly - for securing what is possibly one of the best jobs in the world... working at Google HQ as an independent community manager.  

cybher logoWhen it comes to friends, I am proud to call Sian To one of my go-to people for both blogging and personal advice.  Our friendship has grown over this last year and she says it like it is.  If one of my ideas is shit, she tells me so.  She is the woman behind the amazing conference, Cybher, she was a leading force in the #ShareNiger campaign earlier this year and, probably most importantly, she helped me to redesign my branding for Geekalicious towards the end of the year.

high tea cast logo
At Cybher, I had the great fortune to choose a workshop that highlighted podcasting.  The amazing High Tea Cast ladies were heading this session and they stand for everything that women should be proud of in this modern world... business, radio, feminism and burlesque!

King of Ankh twitter avatar
I'm going to give my Twitter mate @KingOfAnkh a mention for his hard work all year round on the quite morbid but hugely entertaining Dead Pool.  Selecting thirteen famed and noted people who might die at some point in the next twelve months may not be the type of entertainment that everyone has in mind but KoA's weekly humorous newsletter and points system keeps us all on our toes.  Which reminds me... I need to finish my 2013 list and send it in before NYE!

Dream Corner, Viv Oyolu
In July I was invited onto the radio show Dream Corner.  Viv Oyolu's conversational show is full of inspirational women and is educational and enlightening and it was an honour to appear on the show.  You can listen to my time on Dream Corner here and fall in love with Viv's beautiful accent and engaging style of interview.

no more page three logo
The "No More Page Three" campaign has fascinated me in the latter half of 2012 and I've stayed on the periphery as I'm not a great advocate of public 'noise'.  However, it is gathering speed and is opening discussions about feminism, of which I am always open to learning about.  We are almost thirteen years into the 21st Century.  Do we really need thin girls baring their tits just under the front cover of a national newspaper?  What message does it sent to the next (or any) generation?  I'm all for supporting this campaign that is spearheaded by Lucy-Anne Holmes and hope that the petition continues to gather signatures and certain British newspapers sit up and take notice!


Who does your New Year Honour go to?  Let me know in the comments!
And, you know that if you're *not mentioned in here, you're part of the "great people seemingly absent from the list" of course....

*think I covered myself well there


A Christmas Secret

I found this picture a few weeks ago.  Scrawled across the back of it is 'Christmas 1981' so I was nine years old and my sister was six.  As soon as I spotted the bike in the picture a memory came flooding back.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, Mum sent me down to the garage at the bottom of the garden to call Dad in for tea.  I can remember opening the latch on the door and startling him.  He attempted to hide what he was doing but it was too late.

He was respraying an old bike of mine - one that I had outgrown the year before. He knew he couldn't hide it and just said, "Don't tell your sister.  She'll think it's a new one."

It was a shock.  Up until that point in my life I still held some belief in the fact that Father Christmas had a workshop full of happy little elves, all creating the toys for all the children on the 'Nice' list that year.  But I also now felt grown-up and it was a huge deal to be a secret-keeper.

On Christmas Day we came downstairs to see if "He" had been and I the first thing I saw was my old bike, spruced up and covered in tinsel.  My dad and I exchanged knowing glances and we got on with unwrapping our presents but the grin on my sister's face made up for it.  And, to this day, I still don't think she knows what I know.

Soundtrack To My Life - The Christmas Volume

Last week I posted about my top three Christmas songs that aren't really about Christmas.  As we're now building up to Christmas I thought that the last Soundtrack To My Life of the year should be my five favourite seasonal tunes.  


It was a toss up between this and Johnny Mathis' When A Child Is Born but the video and the childhood  memories of the Boney M song tip this one over the edge for me

Pretty underrated and not over-played on the radio which makes it even more special, I think.  But Freddie and the gang hold a special place in my heart anyway.

Yes, predictable but I've chosen this video from Top of the Pops where people could magically be heard without microphones and Sting's miming sounds just like everyone who is missing from the original line-up (apart from Paul Weller who sounds just like Bono).  This version just gets funnier and funnier the more you watch it.  And, FYI, this is the house were we don't mention Band Aid II or Band Aid 20 because they just didn't happen, right?

I know... you could have written this post for me, couldn't you, but this is my karaoke song and it celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.  I quite like my husband singing "you're an old slut on junk" at me every so often but only because I can retaliate with "scumbag" and "arse" without him going off on one at me.

This is probably my favourite Christmas film.  As soon as I hear this theme tune, I know Christmas is almost here.  


So, tell me... what is your favourite Christmas song?

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.

Review: Natasha Gomperts - Monoprints

I had been on the look-out for something different to give my daughter to capture her children at the age they are now - something different to a print-out of a recent photograph or a canvas.  Then I heard about monoprinting and got the chance to have a photograph transformed using this very unique method.

Natasha Gomperts asked for a few of my favourite images of the grandchildren to see which would be the best to transform using the monoprinting technique and we agreed on this one (entitled Breadsticks):

Eating breadsticks and dips

This is what Natasha had to say about the monoprinting she did for me.

I had a good couple of days in the studio printing and am very pleased with the final prints.  Each is different in character, nuance and quality. 
Trace monoprints, like this, are a labour-intensive, one-off process; first each is carefully designed, scaled, often re-scaled and then drawn blind through the design sheet and through the ink onto the paper below until something special and convincing happens. 
This work obviously cannot be found either on or off the high street.  It is quite different to things which have been personalised or made on a computer.  It is, however, genuine 'affordable art', there aren't any opportunities to acquire one-off originals with this level of individuality, vigour and quality at this price.

And here is the finished monoprint (actual size is 27cm x 27cm in a 50cm x 50cm mounting).  What do you think?

Natasha Gomperts, monoprinting, Breadsticks

For me, it's a humorous moment captured in a very special way.  I've not seen anything like this before which  makes it even more personal.  The monoprinting process isn't a quick one and you can see the process here on YouTube.  The freehand tracing method used in monoprinting means that even if two monoprints are created from the same image they aren't going to be exactly the same.  Natasha includes mounting in her price but has also kindly sent me three unmounted versions of the same picture which will be great as gifts for other members of the family.

You can find more examples of Natasha's work on her Facebook page (she's also holding a fun competition on there at the moment so have a nosy in) and her prices are on her website.  

Natasha created this monoprint for me to review.  Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

The Back To The Future Timeline

A short while back I got a bit pissed off with all those fake mock-up images floating around Facebook and Twitter with regards to the actual date that Doc takes Marty to in the future.  So I became a complete party pooper and made my own image - 21st October 2015.  Coincidentally, over this weekend I've watched Back To The Future with my 13 year old but ended up attempting to explain the BTTF timeline.

And then I got confused.

So I resorted to good old pen and paper.

Which worked!

Back To The Future, timeline, film, 1980s

1.1 Marty goes back to 1955 and fucks about with his parent's relationship but fixes it and
1.2 goes back to 1985 which is all happy and sweetness and
1.3 Doc goes on a discovery mission to 2015 but
1.4 has to come back to 1985 so that he can tell Marty that his kids are in trouble so
2.1 Marty, Jennifer and Doc travel to 2015 to try and fix it but
2.2 Biff steals the sports results book and takes it to himself in 1955
2.3 then returns to 2015.  Meanwhile
2.4 Marty returns to an alternative 1985 where Biff is King Of The World Hill Valley so
2.5 Marty goes back to 1955 to destroy the book so he can return to nice 1985 but
2.6 Doc was in the car which gets hit my lightening and disappears. Marty has a letter delivered
3.1 so goes to find Doc in 1885 after discovering that he gets shot by one of Biff's relations but
3.2 Doc decides to stay in 1885 with Clara and Marty returns to 1985 where the time machine is destroyed
3.3 but Doc returns in another time machine built in the style of a train to reassure Marty he is ok and
3.4 disappears off in the new time machine to discover... who knows?

And then I collapsed through exhaustion.


Kim Wilde, tipsy and singing on the Tube

Why does this never happen when I'm on the Tube?

I'm sure that most of the people on this train had no idea who the slightly tipsy woman and accompanying busker were but you if you listen carefully you can hear the whispers of "It's really Kim Wilde" ripple up the carriage. 

It might be out of tune but can you imagine a drunk Kim Wilde (along with her brother, Ricky) starting to sing Kids In America and Rocking Around The Christmas Tree whilst you were on your commute home?  I'd be taking her back with me and plying her with more booze.  

Kim Wilde 

PS.  She had this to say about it afterwards... no shame whatsoever... God Bless Kim Wilde!

Kim Wilde, twitter, singing on the Tube,

YouTube Credit: caseeames


Soundtrack To My Life - Millie

soundtrack to my lifeToday on Soundtrack To My Life we have Millie, who I met through the Filofax community.  We share a love of paper products including diaries, notebooks and pens.  Her blog is an eclectic mixture of craft, writing, photography, products that she loves and anything else that she fancies writing about.  She also has a Desert Island Blogs occasional series in which I featured in July. Over to Millie for her song choices.


Bed of Roses - Bon Jovi

Folks who know me from my blog will know that I have eclectic music tastes. I pretty much like everything except garage and house. For me, songs are maybe 70% about the lyrics, 30% about the melody (except for crappy pop music to dance to!). I love songwriters who can put their soul into a couple of verses and share with you part of what makes them human. (I promise you I'm not a pretentious person - I'm just a lyrics geek!)

This song (and in particular this music video) is the song that made me obsessed with Bon Jovi (and also Jon Bon Jovi as an individual, who is sadly happily married and about 20 years too old for me). I like looking at old music videos on the web and finding new artists, and that's how I discovered Bon Jovi. I don't really have a personal story associated with this song, but it is seriously one of the best love songs ever written and I love it. I'm not sure the world makes men like that nowadays...

Transylvania - McFly

I'm making Nickie share the acoustic video of this song, for a couple of reasons. Lots of music snobs dismiss McFly as teen pop. However, those people are snobs and don't know any better. I'm not going to pretend the McFly boys are talented singers (you can tell in the video that they have quite weak voices), but they do write some good songs. This one is about Anne Boleyn's secret love affair (she was the wife of Henry VIII) and it was written by Dougie (the bassist on the left in the video). It reached #1 so I'm not the only one that likes it!

A few years ago, I had the privilege of seeing McFly perform live at the castle near where I used to live, and it was a perfect event. Dougie performed this song by himself and it was wonderful. It was a perfect meeting of my childhood geography and my teen music loves and I will never forget it!

Bring Me Sunshine - Morecambe & Wise

Ha! I bet you didn't expect that. I told you I have random tastes in music! I challenge you to listen to this song and not smile! It's a brilliant song!

I studied Geology at university, and on a field trip in the Lake District we used to listen to Radio Carlisle in the morning on the minibus. The radio DJ used to play this every morning, and it became our anthem for the trip. We used to sing it when it was raining and cold. Lots of good memories, and I still listen to the song on iTunes years later!

Disenchanted - My Chemical Romance

Oh no, a sad song! It's true, I have a dark emo side that likes to indulge in My Chemical Romance (in fact, they're one of my favourite bands and are awesome live).

This song is one of my favourites off the Black Parade album (easily their best album). I remember pre-ordering the special edition of this album, and then I missed the parcel when the postman tried to deliver it. Gutted! I had to bribe my housemate (at uni) into driving me to the sorting office to collect it. When I got it home I had it on repeat for pretty much my entire second year of uni.

I don't really indulge in band gossip, but I heard that the song was inspired by the group's falling out with another band they'd been close to (who shall remain nameless as I don't know how true this is).

Whilst my life is by no means The Most Tragic Life of Anyone Ever (TM), I had some crappy stuff with my Father when I was younger, and the release of this album coincided with a difficult time in my life when I was trying to deal with the legal things surrounding his death and struggling to work out what I wanted from life. I don't want to be melodramatic and say that this album got me through, but it certainly helped me be appropriately angry about everything that was going on!

I've spoken to other MCR fans on the web since who have similar experiences with the Black Parade album. I think it's an important album for that reason alone - it seems to have helped many people. A lot of us don't listen to the song Cancer (off the album) for personal reasons (my Dad died of cancer, so it was kind of topical for me). I suppose it's an OK song, and it's kind of integral to the album as a concept album (discussing cancer and death), but sometimes I wonder if they maybe shouldn't have flown so close to the wind and instead written a less private song. Nowadays, I listen to the album on iTunes and I deleted that track years ago.

Georgia On My Mind - Ray Charles

I hesitated before including this song on the list. I had four other songs that could've taken this spot, and they're all equally deserving. However, I love Ray Charles, and I think he was a really talented musician. He's one of my favourite soul musicians: I love the tone of his voice and his skill on the piano. This song in particular reminds me of backpacking around the U.S in the summer of 2008. I made a U.S playlist on my iPod before I flew out and this song was constantly playing. I did briefly visit Atlanta, Georgia, on my trip, and it was the only state where it rained for the whole trip! My memories are of a rainy city with tall buildings shrouded in a cloud bank. I'm sure it's nicer than that, but I guess the city didn't want to come out and play that day!

Fun fact: this song is actually written about a girl called Georgia, not the state, although it is now the state anthem of Georgia in the U.S.


soundtrack to my life
You can find Millie over at Planet Millie or tweeting as @mslogica.  I really recommend adding Millie to your  blog reading list as she's a little hidden gem.

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.

My Top Three Christmas Songs That Aren't Really About Christmas

When you look at the list of Christmas number ones there aren't really a lot that are actually about Christmas.  Even X-Factor has taken all the fun out of the race to that much desired number one slot.  But then I remember times when immediate digital downloads weren't available, you had to yomp to a record shop with your pocket money and then watch your favourite song actually climb up the charts over a few weeks.

Here are my top three Christmas songs that aren't really about Christmas or the baby cheeses Jesus *bows head reverently*.  What are yours?

Come back next week to see what my top three forgotten Christmas favourites are!


 Not one single mention of the festive season but release it at the right time and overlay it with a video that depicts the Nativity and... BOOM!... it's immediately a Christmas song.  Even John Lewis have attributed it to finding gloves for a loved one by sticking a snowman in their advert.


Slow a song down, wear a padded jacket with fluffy hood (preferrable white), add some snow and... KAPOW!... one Christmas video.  Probably also heavily influenced by the fact that some bell ringing has been included.


Very possibly the bizarrest pairing in the history of pop duets but again, not a Christmas lyric in sight.  Not a problem though.  Make the singers wear cheesy Christmas jumpers, stick a white tree in the background and introduce some present swapping and...  WOOSH!... you have another shoe-in for the Christmas charts.


X-Factor Musings

x-factor banner

If you follow my Twitter stream you will be either highly amused or highly annoyed by my free-flowing commentary when it comes to X-Factor.  But something is troubling me.  It's time for my annual thoughts about X-Factor and this year my theme is "Disillusionment".

The finalists are where they are because of public votes and only the tiniest bit of judge's manipulation.  If you don't ring in and vote, then shut the fuck up about the unfairness of certain people still being in the show.  The more you tweet about it and the more you discuss it on Facebook, the more publicity it is getting.  For free!

The constant negativity surrounding Christopher Maloney is embarrassing now.  No, he's not my cup of tea but there's a place in the entertainment business somewhere for him.  He may seem like a weird hybrid of  Daniel O'Donnell, Jane McDonald and Joe Longthorne but, you know what, those guys are still packing out theatres up and down the country and if that's what floats boats then it's fine by me.

Each X-Factor finalist was chosen on merit.  That doesn't mean they were a great singer, but that they would make great television.  Do TV channels really care about content any more or is more about who is winning the ratings war?  Should every single mainstream show concentrate on fake-bake tans and semi-scripted scenes?  Should 'popular music' be defined by how loud the teen generation can scream when someone walks on stage?  Should we really be allowing our listening pleasure to be determined by identikit pop songs.  Not sure what I'm on about?  Axis of Awesome explain it perfectly.

Remember when we used to get a daily half-hour update at around 6pm?  These gave us a chance to connect a little bit more with the singers and to see that they were actually in the studio with their mentors and coaches rather than sitting poignantly on some stairs, plugged into an iPod, miming.  I don't want to see them falling out of nightclubs, signing tits or getting their roots done.  But, again, this says a lot about what stories and photographs are being bought by the British media to fill endless online pages with non-stories.  

It's all about the Warhol-esque 15 minutes-worth of fame taken far too literally.  I truly believe that Lucy Spraggan has more talent in her little finger than the whole of the previously eliminated X-Factor contestants put together but I don't think this was the right platform for her.  It's too easy to call her "the next Victoria Wood" and dismiss what she is good at.  The crowd went wild for her audition song, "Last Night" because it hit a chord with a great many people.  And, as was very obvious, the votes for Rylan were hugely hilarious... until he proceeded to the next round in favour of Ella Henderson.  You see what I mean?  At the end of the day, Rylan has got what he wanted - FAME!  People now know him by his first name only.  He doesn't need his surname and that is the way that people succeed off the back of shows like this. 

Yes, a great singer should win a singing show but as has been expressed on a number of occasions the winner needs the likability factor and standing on a box doesn't do that for me.  I've yet to see Jahmene Douglas move around the stage, performing in the way Jade or Rylan did week after week but standing on a box hasn't prevented him from garnering votes to get that all-important place in the finals.

James Arthur is very possibly the most talented X-Factor contestant I've seen since the audition doors opened way back in 2004 (and possibly including its predecessors) but, as much as I adore his style I don't want him to win simply because his talent will not be allowed to flourish under the money-making machine that is SyCo.  Unique doesn't sell quick enough for a fast turn-around.

So forget the behind-the-scenes manipulation.  Ignore the negativity in the press.  Watch the show for what it is... a bit of a launchpad for a career.  It doesn't matter who wins - they'll get an album deal and notoriety.  What they choose to do with that is their prerogative.  Maybe if we were more interested in seeing people succeed, then we wouldn't get such a shock when the votes for the underdog come rolling in.   


A sneak preview of presents for the grandchildren...

Have you seen this dolls house that I've got my hands on for the girls for Christmas?  How cute is this?  It's from a company called Dolls Houses.  This dolls house is wooden (I love traditional toys) and is really sturdy.  It also comes with all the furniture you can see and one Princess doll (note to self: buy another Princess doll to save any arguments between grandchildren).  If you click on the image below you can see this dolls house on the website and at the time of publishing, it was retailing at £35.00.  

dolls house

We've also got a tree swing for the girls but it's down at the allotment ready for the nicer weather next year.  It'll be great to take them down there in the spring and surprise them with it.  Again, if you click the image you will go straight to the sale page (£24.00 at the time of publishing). 
wooden swing

Don't you just love traditional, wooden gifts that you know are going to last for ages?  


The Gallery : Colour

Can you imagine only ever seeing the world in black and white?  Or not at all?  No, me neither.  And Tara's Gallery theme of colour really got me thinking this week.  I could have chosen a picture from my slightly obsessive collection of rainbows or something representative of a single bold shade until I saw the subject for my image right there in front of me whilst cooking tea.

I have no idea why cooking and baking has just fallen into place with me after so many years.  It's probably another part of theory of living life backwards falling into place.  But I've also realised that when attempting something new (as well as getting the family to try something new) it's all about the visual as well as the textural and the sensual.  And this is why this cried out to me this week.

chopped onions and peppers, colour

Do NOT critique the cutting technique. My chopping is shocking (there's a blog post title in there somewhere) and no matter how many times Jamie or Gordon demonstrate their chef-style knife techniques, I still cannot do the knuckle slide.  I've just about mastered cutting an onion fine enough and that is an achievement in itself!

In true "WWYD" style, should my friend buy her three year old daughter some make-up for Christmas?

This morning a received a text from a really good mate:  
Random question.  Thinking of getting L a wee Hello Kitty dressing table and matching play make up case because she is obsessed with make up. Want mine back. Do you think she's too young at 3? Had a very interesting chat at work yesterday about it.

My first text back was almost "What's a grown woman doing with a Hello Kitty dressing table?" but sent this instead:
Honest answer - your child, you do what you want. Feminist answer - do you really want to express that make-up is an important part of life for some people to a 3 year old?

which seemed to get her thinking a bit deeper and her reply was:
Oooh very interesting point! As a feminist this resonates with me. Yet I do love make up.  Eek, what a dilemma!

But then this also got me thinking.  

I've been a HUGE fan of make-up from a very early age but had to be content with those Swizzles candy lipsticks for a time.  Then I was thrust into the blue/pink eyeshadow era that was the 1980s where everything was so wrong it was right.  My mum wasn't a great fan of make-up.  My few pointers came from a much-loved Aunt who was slightly closer to my age than the rest of my aunts and uncles and she bridged the generational gap for me.  As I explain in a previous post - Sans Fards - I use my make-up as a mask, of sorts and I'm rarely seen without it.

I do remember buying my daughter little make-up sets; you know the sort - the ones that promise to wash off but end up becoming a 'feature' of your child's face for a few days and the decor for a couple of years.  She was about eight or nine when she started asking for these though and not three years old.  However, take a look at when my granddaughters gave me a make over.  They knew where every different item went... well, in the face area at least.

So, seeing as though Tracy finished our conversation off with
I think there's a blog post in this for you!
I'd love to know what are your thoughts are.  Do you think that buying a three year old a make-up set is right or wrong?  What signals does it send at such an impressionable age?


Shopping At Zalando Again.

zalando, fashion, women's clothing
I've had another shopping spree at Zalando (Helen... stop reading NOW!  Dangerous territory) and this time I've treated myself to some clothes for work.  I've been after a versatile black skirt that I could wear on a smart and casual basis.  

After a scout around the website I found this very simple Vera Modo pencil skirt (see picture - cotton, stretchy for comfort, perfect length - just above the knee).  And because it's so comfy, I've ordered another one in navy to go with my much-worn, much-loved, now famous, blue and white jacket.  

I've also picked up a black Vera Modo jacket to match up with the skirt but again, it's comfy enough to wear casual with jeans.  I'll be wearing the jacket later this week for a meeting

I'm just checking my Paypal account too as I've just spotted some Anna Field boots that are on offer and my last pair (bought for Cybher) are still remain my favourite casual pair of boots.

If you want to read a full review of the Zalando shopping experience then have a quick look at my review I wrote earlier this year.  My views remain unchanged and Zalando is still my favourite website for women's clothing at the moment.

Zalando provided me with a voucher to spend on their website.  Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Soundtrack To My Life - Ruth

soundtrack to my lifeToday I am pleased to host Ruth's Soundtrack To My Life.  Ruth and I are both members of the 'parent blogger' network that has boomed over the past couple of years and if the internet had existed in it's present availability when my children were younger, I think I might have had her tagline... "Googling my way through motherhood".

Ruth is a "Geek Mummy" in the true sense of the word with a love for all things tech, also running a YouTube channel and an audio blog with her husband alongside her regular blog.  But, for now, it's over to Ruth for her music choices which I've really enjoyed pulling together as these are all fantastic tunes and I've discovered a song that I never heard before (Ruth's #4 choice).


Bonnie Tyler: Total Eclipse of the Heart

This was the first proper single I bought. I've just worked out that I was 12 when it was number 1 in the charts. I remember saving up my pocket money, heading in to our local WHSmiths and walking out with the 7" single which I then played to death on my parents' old radiogram. I guess I was a rock chick from then on!

[popout :]

Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell

When I was 17 my Dad announced that he was leaving home. I had known deep down that my parents marriage was not brilliant, but didn't expect him to leave. I didn't speak to him for a year after he left, and our relationship is still tenuous. My friends at the time were really supportive, although none of them had experienced the same thing. My very best friend's parents invited me to go to France on holiday with them that summer, and I have very strong memories of lying on the beach with my friend and I listening to this album non-stop on her WalkMan. It did me the world of good to get away from home for a while.

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Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

If there's a band that is the "band of my life" it would have to be Queen. The first full album I ever bought was "A Night At The Opera", mostly for Bohemian Rhapsody which is just an epic track. I was at University when Freddie Mercury died, and I think it was the first celebrity death that I really remember in that "where were you when you heard?" kind of way. I was in the committee of our University Film Society at the time, and we decided that we wanted to show "Queen's Greatest Flix" at our annual Film Ball. I got the job of calling Queen's management agency to get their permission, as it wasn't something we could get through our film distributor. They were great, and allowed us to show the video publicly for a nominal fee. I got the feeling no-one had ever asked if they could do that before.

I sadly never got to see Queen play live, but I did see the next best thing - I was in Hyde Park for the amazing Queen + Paul Rogers concert the week after the London bombings (it was supposed to be the day after but they postponed it a week). Great show.

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Martina McBride - In My Daughter's Eyes

I never wanted kids. All through my twenties and in to my early thirties I believed I would be child free. And then our world changed when my husband's father died suddenly and very unexpectedly at the age of 60. That kind of thing makes you re-evaluate things a lot, and I ended up, after much consideration, deciding that I did want a family after all. Sadly things then did not come easily, and we ended up having to have IVF to be able to conceive. My two children are little miracles, and I am so pleased to have them. This song sums up how I feel about being a mother. Watch out - it's a real tearjerker.

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Lee Ann Womack - I Hope You'll Dance

It's been hard restricting myself to just 5 songs, as there are so many more that have special meanings for me. I think of this song as a ""forward looking"" one, rather than one I look back on. This song represents my approach to life, and if I could leave one message for my kids, bring them up with just one philosophy, it would be the sentiment of this song. "If you have a choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance". Seize the moment, take the opportunities. That's how I'm trying to live my life, and I hope it's how they'll live theirs too."

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soundtrack to my life
Catch Ruth over at Geekmummy or Parental Geekery, on AudioBoo or YouTube and tweet her as @geekmummy.

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.


... then, over at Gransnet

gransnet logo

I'm over at Gransnet today, talking about having five generations in our family.  You can find the article here (or click the image) and I'd love to know what you think about it.

Monday Favourites : Tony Hawks, Gangnam Style plus a Twitter birthday announcement

gangnam style

If you haven't heard this version of Gangnam Style yet, you have to listen.  Tony Hawks giving it large on BBC Radio 4's "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue".

But seriously, for my younger readers, you whippersnappers, you - Radio 4 isn't all Shipping Forecasts, The Archers and Women's Hour.  Have a scroll through their schedule and tune into great shows such as The News Quiz (gotta love a bit of Sandy Toksvig), Just A Minute and The Now Show.  I'm sure you can even set up your BBC iPlayer with reminders or downloads.  Enjoy!

@nickie72 TwBirthday, twitter,
In other news, I've just been told it's my TwBirthday.  FOUR YEARS ON TWITTER! And apparently my Godfather is Stephen Fry (hit the image to see my TwBirthday page).  Which means that I can regale this 'conversation' again... probably 


PS... If you're not used to reading Twitter conversations then read from the bottom up and let's not mention the fact that he didn't actually tag me in the conversation.  I know he was talking to me.

PPS... Yes, I do know how sad I am by having this in my 'twitter favourites' so shut it!


The Making Of The John Lewis Advert 2012

I'm sure you've all seen the John Lewis Christmas advert for 2012 by now.  I am loving the version of  "The Power Of Love" that's been used for it but then I would... it's an 80's classic!

I've been sent the "making of..." video for you to have a look at - it's really worth four minutes of your time    and I bet you'll never guess where it was filmed!  You don't even need to leave this page to watch it so grab a brew and click "play".

John Lewis are also sending me a Knit Your Own Snowman kit from their gifts selection so watch out for some "When Crafts Go Wrong Or Remain Unfinished" type Instagram pics from me in the near future.

Some of the content on this page was provided by John Lewis.  Please view my disclosure page for more details.


Ikea Soft Toy Range

It's like the Invasion of the Cuddly Toys here... and they've all crowded into a photo booth for some mash-your-heads-together-and-grin-like-mad shots!  Maybe I should have used one of these images for a "caption this" type post.

Ikea Soft Toys, Klappar Lantlig horse glove puppet, squeaky hedgehog, vandring hareIkea Soft Toys, Klappar Lantlig horse glove puppet, squeaky hedgehog, vandring hare

They look a bit creepy in these photos but they are cute really.
The hedgehog squeaks, the hare is really soft and cuddly and the horse is a glove puppet!  So cool!

Ikea sent me these furry friends to shove in the grandchildren's stockings on Christmas Eve in return for telling you about their new soft toy range which has plenty of choice, including loads at £5 and below.  For every toy bought in this range, 1€ will be donated to their soft toy campaign.  

I  have decided that I now want ALL the finger puppets and may have to go and visit Ikea for the very first time to pick some up along with some of the famous Ikea meatballs.  Yes, you read that right.  I must be the only person in the UK that has never set foot in Ikea.  Am I unique?

Ikea asked me to share some of this content.  Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Inventions that are so wrong that they've gone past the point of wrongness and there isn't a word to describe them!

Firstly, if you've got an idea and you want to market it maybe run it by a targeted focus group first.  Not your mates and your mum who are going to pat you on the hand and tell you that you've done a good job.  OK, I'm an aged grandmother.  What the fuck do I know?  Oh yeah, I've actually raised three children and they're all still alive.  They may not have been though if I'd have used one of these:

screenshot from the website

Don't even expect me to link to this shit because I ain't.  The name is there and I'm sure you're brilliant at Googling.  Anyway, this contraption - a "bottle bib" - is designed to allow babies to have their bottle unaided so that you can get on with the ironing and cleaning because (and I quote) "holding a bottle for up to an hour [..] for months on end [..] is so frustrating".  It is aimed at babies of three months and over and, in my opinion, is exactly the same as laying a baby up on the settee with a bottle propped in their mouth.

*waits for gasps of horror to die down*

The person who invented this has now blocked me on Twitter (I mean, who does she think she is?  Keith Chegwin?) so obviously doesn't like the fact that a number of people agreed with my aghast tweet earlier today:

Baby Beer Hat Image Credit
 Luv Images
I'm actually still waiting for someone to tell me the benefits of a gadget like this.  I'm all for innovation and women in business but seriously... really... still gobsmacked and getting more that way each time I look at it.  It's a joke, isn't it?  Tell me it's a joke and they were expecting viral social media outrage and angry blog posts!  Your thoughts would be appreciated.

But as a footnote, my mate Bob tells me that this contraption already been invented and has proof ~~~~>


UPDATE 7.12pm - 23.11.12
The following text has been added to the launch page:
"To be supervised at all times"  linked to the spec page and a myriad of feature descriptions which doesn't actually make it sound any better - just a lot worse.
As you can see from my original screenshot, that wasn't there originally.


UPDATE 7.02pm - 24.11.12
The Facebook page has been removed and someone from the company has tweeted Twitter Support to try get the Twitter account closed down (can they not find the "deactivate/delete account" button themselves? ).  


UPDATE 11.29am - 29.11.12
The website has been taken down 'until further notice' and the Twitter account is now closed.


UPDATE 12.18pm - 04.11.13
Who thought this post would be updated again?  It seems that the website is back up and running again and the "Bottle Bib" is being promoted as the only product on the site.  There is a warning that babies should not be left unattended with this product (so what's the bloody point?) and that it's only for babies over 4 months old.  I despair, I really do!!  
(H/T to Emma from Me, The Man & Baby)


Soundtrack To My Life - Steve

soundtrack to my lifeI am featuring Steve on Soundtrack To My Life this week.  Our paths crossed a few years back through some Filofax chat but we later on we both discovered that we have been involved in amateur radio.  It's a small world!

Steve opens with an explanation that his musical taste is rooted in the early to mid 1970's when he was still at secondary school but he listens to music from all eras.  He has asked if he can do another Soundtrack To My Life in the future and he is very welcome, as is everyone else (the link to the form is at the bottom of this post).  As most of Steve's chosen tracks are guitar-heavy, I've tried to find live versions of the songs.


Steely Dan - Reelin' in the Years

This track takes me back to when I was still at school in about 1974-75, I was supposed to be revising for my O levels, instead I was trying to perfect the lead guitar solos on this track.. I got quite close but not note perfect!  I love all of Steely Dan's music another favourite is anything off the Aja album.

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The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Shake That Thing

Another song from my early days, I saw this band a couple of times in Liverpool. I used to go home to the Wirral to see concerts when I lived near Milton Keynes.  This particular track has the memorable line in it - 'There's no such thing as a dirty book, it's just the way you read it'. Sort of applies to popular fiction of today I suppose!

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The Eagles - Hotel California

The title song, but the whole album really.. but the one line... 'You can check out, but you can never leave' is me to a tee... when I get involved in something, I throw everything at it heart and soul... currently that is Philofaxy... the blog I share with a team of others and a huge community of followers.  This track has some amazing guitar playing on it, send shivers down your spine.

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Buckingham Nicks - Frozen Love

This was the track that got the attention of Mick Fleetwood that eventually resulted in Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joining Fleetwood Mac for the Fleetwood Mac album and of course Rumours.  It was also a phase of my young life of being in love for the first time. My girlfriend and I both loved Fleetwood Mac and the Buckingham Nicks album found it's way in to our collection without us really realising who these people were!  The album isn't yet available on CD... although it might be released next year to celebrate 40 years of it's first release... makes me feel old!

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Elton John - Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding

This track or rather two tracks that sort of merge comes from the double album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, some of which was recorded in France where I now live so I think back to this album when I am driving through the country side of my local area full of rolling fields of sunflowers against a deep blue sky, giving that beautiful colour combination of Yellow, Green and Blue, and all those sun flowers look like smiling faces. With this track playing (loud) on the car audio system, what more could you ask for!  When the sunflowers change to fields full of vines it cements the fact I now live in France surrounded by lots of countryside. I ignore the subject of the track really, I just enjoy the music itself.

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soundtrack to my life
You can find Steve over on his personal website or talking all things Filofax at Philofaxy (such a cool site!).  He's also on Twitter as @stevemorton.

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.
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