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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A belated Magpie Monday

I am probably breaking all the rules but I can't miss Magpie Monday even if it is technically Tuesday. It was a Bank Holiday yesterday and I was having fun with my family and so busy that I did not have time to post. Anyway, the worst thing about Bank Holidays is that the charity shops remain closed.

Since we are just past Easter, I am posting relevant second-hand finds or acquisitions.

I have 3 children and one Easter I got them all cuddly toys from the charity shop on an impulse. All rabbits and all very much-loved even if my daughter will insist on giving hers a makeover.

Easter is about eggs too, right? Here are two egg cups that I love. Can you guess which came from Harrod's originally? Not bad for less than £1 each. I do love a boiled egg and soldiers.

I spent Easter Saturday at the charity shop as usual picking up some vest tops to go with the massive lot of tops I got via Netmums some time ago. All lovely but many very see-through so needed some vest tops to go underneath to keep me decent.

My little boy got a Scooby Doo book and my daughter got a Bratz make-up case thing. My older boy is now bemoaning the lack of stuff for teenagers in training in charity shops.

I can't wait till tomorrow. I have money a plenty after selling my litter of puppies and intend to carry out a full on raid on the charity shops. So expect a bumper Magpie Monday from me next week. Maybe I should go for a Royal or Wedding theme? I know, don't mention the Wedding and more importantly, don't say anything about themes.

Off to spend the rest of my spare time reading up on other bargains found by my Magpie friends.

Photos later when my camera starts to function again. Batteries might help lol.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Friday, 22 April 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful

I am doing my reasons to be cheerful at 21 minutes past eight on Friday evening. This is my first reason to be cheerful as it demonstrates that I have being out living rather than blogging.

Here are a few other reasons.

1. Four of my puppies go to their new homes on Monday. Although I will sob as they leave, it is getting harder to cope with the full litter and it is time for them to start settling in their forever homes.

2. I have had a day of sunshine in our lovely courtyard and then off to the shops, pub and park. The children had their faces painted and my little girl was given a pink balloon.

3. I have shown assertiveness with a friend and with a brother. Although both have not liked my communication with them, I feel strong for saying that I think friendship requires more than the occasional email and for objecting to being called "useless". I don't think they will change but by standing up for myself, I know I have changed.

4. We are expecting visits soon from my husband's family from his first marriage. I feel good that I feel totally OK about this rather than having mixed or negative feelings. That has taken years to get to that level of comfort but I am glad to have arrived at that point.

5. Dad had chest pains so I went into a total panic but it turns out he was right in his self-diagnosis of a broken rib. Dad also arrived home after his holiday and seemed really pleased to be back which is gratifying.

6. Him Indoors has time off and is also showing signs of a lighter mood. We have had barbecues and good times generally.

7 Back to the puppies, the income raised from their sales will ensure that I have a spend, spend, spend session. One of the first things I am going to do is to take my Dad out with the family for a nice meal.

8. I have really enjoyed having a lie in and not being enslaved by school uniforms and book bags. I have loved having the children around and seeing them relish their outdoor play.

9. I have managed to get in some good blogging and am really enjoying doing some of the photo blog hops such as Silent Sunday and the Gallery as well as some of the newer and less well-known ones. It is great to get to read new blogs and to spend a hour or two doing so, luxuriating in other people's writing and photography.

10. I think I have settled on a name for my new website but more on that when it happens. Suffice to say, it is about what we should all do much more than we do. Any guesses? Leave a comment if you do or just say hello as I love getting comments on my posts.

Do check out other people's reasons to be cheerful and grateful.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Puppy Power - a photocall

Our lovely litter of Labrador puppies are going to their new homes very soon so I thought I would record them on here to make you go "Awwwww!" and to remind me of them in the future.

Here is Billy. When he was smaller, we called him Angel Face because he is so cute but his new owners tell us he is Billy.

Here is Tia, the only girl in the litter and a lovely shade of chocolate brown. Like most girls, she holds her own with the boys.

Here is Buddy, another chocolate brown. He is our middle of the road, neither quiet or boisterous. Like his father, he loves a snooze and is the first of the litter to settle down for sleepytime.

Here is Jasper. He is our only black puppy so we got attached to him first as he was the one that was different. He was also the smallest pup, the runt of the litter. He remains tiny but very playful and lively with bags of character. He was the first puppy to find a new home too. We named him and the new owners are keeping the name. Recently he scared us when he became ill with an eye infection but he is fine now.

The family who bought Jasper are also taking Bailey. Bailey is, according to the vet, the pick of the litter ane miles bigger than Jasper. He is very adventurous and easy to love. I think he will make a great dog and we have had names such as Byron, Oliver and Towser for him so it was nice when the new owners told us he is Bailey.

Check out other blog photos as part of Capture a Moment


Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Gallery - My Blog

I really enjoyed taking part in The Gallery last week so am having another go. This week's theme was challenging again. How does one sum up a blog that is quite diverse in content?

I decided to pick items from around the house that say something about my blogging.

I knew I had to relate this image to my late Mum in some way. She was the catalyst for this blogging business. One drink-fuelled night over Christmas 2008, she told me I must pursue my writing "even if it is just keeping a diary". She was most insistent and that is how this blog came into being. Within weeks, Mum was telling me she was terminally ill and by the time the blog was a year old she had died.

So the first thing to do is show you Mum and you can see her picture on my Gallery contribution.

The picture of her shows her on her trip on the Orient Express which I got for her and my Dad for their Golden Anniversary treat. She had always wanted to go on it and ruled it out for herself. How often do we do that? If I have done one vaguely good thing, I ensured she had that trip. In this picture she looks so serene and at peace.

The little blue cushion is there for two reasons. Mainly, through the "Come in!" it represents the fact that I am very open on this blog and welcome you in to my thoughts and feelings. I don't find it as easy to do this in the "real" world. Funnily enough, on the other side it says "Stay Out! and too often in life that is my attitude resulting in isolation all too often. Finally, there is cat on the cushion and when I am blogging, there is often a cat trying to sleep on my keyboard!

The dictionary is there as I love using the power of words on my blog and in life generally.

The stickers are to say how I have found that the whole blogging experience gives me a sense of validation. Comments, followers and Twitter friends effectively are saying that I have done a good job or have tried my best at least. So my children get stickers and I get comments. That will do me. If you are a follower, a commenter, a Twitter friend or any of my lovelies out there, give yourself a virtual gold sticker from me.

The rolling pin was the first item I chose for this random selection of objects. It belonged to my Mum who was a keen cook and a fantastic pastry chef so that connection remains with her. It has being in my life always and as this blog reflects on all aspects of my life, that seems apt.

Rolling pins flatten and shape dough. Sometimes when blogging, it seems like I am making some sort of shape or sense out of the past and the present. I find that very therapeutic and have the same sense when baking too. Rolling pins come in different shapes and sizes for different uses just like blogs and bloggers themselves.

Baking like blogging is a creative outlet. Also, traditionally, rolling pins are associated with angry housewives. In the 21st century, have angry mums put down the wooden rolling pins and started ranting in their blogs instead?

The final item is a thermometer and just for fun, I will ask you to say what you think that might represent about my life as a blogger.

MAD Blog Awards 2011

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Do you really want to know all about me?

I was tagged a few days ago by @Scottish-mum on Twitter. Basically, I have to answer a list of questions and the pass the baton on to other bloggers to answer the same ones. In theory, by the end of this, you should know me a bit better. Read on at your peril!

Which living person do you most admire, and why?

I admire one of my friends who I am now back in touch with after many years apart. She did not receive the support she was entitled to as a child and teenager. I won't reveal details but family members and the wider community could have done better. She fell in love but that was threatened too in a devestating way. She struggled to become a mum but is now a fantastic one. She learned to love again. She reached out to me too which she did not need to do and by doing so, she has added loads to my life.

When were you happiest?

I have had lots of happy times. The ultimate highlight is probably holding my first son in my arms and realising this was the first blood relative that I had ever known.
My wedding day was perfect and a celebration of ten years together and a wonderful family. I loved getting into my college and 3 years that I remember as full of sunshine and friendship.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Going to see a friend's family for the first time and sitting on a toilet which instantly collapsed under me.

Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?

Probably dogs for myself and a car for my partner.

What is your most treasured possession?

This question made me realise just how unmaterialistic I am. I treasure my charity shop and car boot finds for their diversity and quirkiness. I treasure things that people make for me. When I was little, it would have been my golliwog, my doll's house and my Christmas stocking.

Where would you like to live?

I would like to live by the sea. I am happy enough in England and love where I live now but other countries that appeal include Ireland, France and New Zealand.

What’s your favourite smell?

Poison perfume as reminds me of my youthful days and plans of a cunning nature.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

Bette Midler

What is your favourite book?

The Hobbit is what turned me onto books in the first place so remains special to me. I like Jane Austen and hate the Brontes. There are lots of books in my house so very hard to pin it down to one favourite. I have lots of fiction and also lots of books on how to be the person I aspire to me.

What is your most unappealing habit?

Mood swings and biting my nails.

What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?


What is your earliest memory?

Again, it is hard to work out which came first. I remember wetting myself in a newsagent shop, throwing a bucket of water over my brother on the beach and my nursery teacher Miss Bun.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Blogging and Baileys.

What do you owe your parents?

I owe my adoptive parents loads for taking me on in the first place. They had two grown up sons so could have chilled but decided on me and a rollercoaster ride instead.
I owe them for teaching me a love of learning that remains with me always. I owe them for encouraging me when Oxbridge became possible. I owe them for looking after my children. I owe them for showing me the funny side of things, for physical affection, for always knowing home was there, for great conversation and company.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?

To my step-daughters for not knowing how to help them and for not being mature enough know how to handle their, erm, challenges.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

What - writing, reading, music and history
Who - my children massively followed by Him Indoors (and the, erm, others who shall not be named).

What does love feel like?

Scary, all-encompassing, wonderful.

What was the best kiss of your life?

Hard to say. First serious one was pretty good as I remember and such a shame I had to get the bus back from Blackpool thus curtailing such a beautiful "relationship" lol!
In romantic situations, I kiss last not first like most people. And then, all kisses from my children are special.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

How many times do I have to tell you.....?
I am a bad person/I am not a bad person
Everybody hates me
You are doing my head in

What is the worst job you’ve done?

The last one where unrealistic targets were set and then I got fired through no fault of mine. Motherhood on some days where it is all noise, mess and challenges with no promotion prospects, annual appraisals or staff meetings.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?

I should have followed my heart when I was very young.
I should have had more faith in myself and my abilities.
I would learn to drive at 17.
I would have my birth mother love me.
On balance, I would not have got involved with my ex although there were good times too.
I would have worked on my friendships more to ensure I did not lose them along the way.
I would be a better partner, mum and step-mum.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?

Apparently, my Auntie once dropped me off Edinburgh Castle walls and I was saved by my knicker elastic. On the same day, she gave me a toffee and I nearly choked. Do you think she had it in for me?

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Being a Mum and sticking with it when it is difficult. Getting into Cambridge after being adopted and not educated in a posh school.

When did you last cry, and why?

Last night when watching Alfie and Kat being reunited with Tommy in EastEnders. Also sobbed throughout most of those Neil Morrissey documentaries on children in care.

How do you relax?

Blogging, writing, reading, tweeting, emailing across the universe cooking, walking, playing with animals, chilling with the children. On the odd event (once a decade) when I have a babysitter, dining out, quiz nights, theatre, cinema and driving for hours with no particular place to go and music blaring.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?


What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

That every individual has a story to tell and thoughts and feelings. They should never be written off and you should always question your assumptions about others.

MAD Blog Awards 2011

I am going to tag a few bloggers but need to have a think who so I will be back with an edited post soon.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Magpie Monday

MAD Blog Awards 2011

Don't you hate it when you are a bit flush with the old casherooney and can't find anything you really want to buy? The weekend charity shop was disappointing. The children found books and I bought a top. Big wow!

So I am sharing some finds from the past with you today and also having a bit of a rant.

Last week, I talked of how very few things move Him Indoor's soul and was a little unfair there so here is something both he and I love found in a hospice charity shop for, wait for it, just £1.50.

By the way, the background cloth on which this is displayed today is the top I bought on Saturday. It still had the brand new labels on and I loved it but it does not like my boobs at all. Just does not sit on them well at all, needs someone slightly less well-endowed in that department. Any takers for a size 20 top going for free?

Back to Him Indoors as I bought this for him last year. It is a Hardy Amies drinks flask thing with little cups that go in the top of it. All very clever. Did I really buy it for Him Indooors? Well, yes I did but also knew I would love looking at it every day. It was £2.99 and is real leather, came in the original box and is marked Hardy Amies.

Now for the rant. Here is the playhouse I bought for my little girl second-hand via a well-known Mums site.

I had missed out on a two storey one for £70 advertised on the same site. I decided rather than get a huge two storey one after all, perhaps I should test out whether the children would actually use a playhouse before hiring a van and sourcing a playhouse off ebay. Plus the one I actually got pictured here was very much what my daughter would like in terms of butterflies and flowers.

She loves it. When Him Indoors went to pick it up, it turned out that the seller had bought the two storey one that I had my eye on. That is why she was getting rid of the little one.

Ten days later, the same woman advertised the two storey one with quite a price hike but still a bargain in my view. She was also advertising some furniture. I told her the date that we would be able to collect it if it still remained available. I did not ask her to keep it but let her know if she still had it, I would buy it. She contacted me trying to put me under pressure to get it earlier. I said no as I needed to organise time, money, van and so on. So I got a snotty email saying she had sold the lot to someone else anyway. I sent a nice email back saying there were no hard feelings.

Now she is advertising the lot again saying she is really cross with the TIMEWASTER. I don't know whether she is referring to me or not but her tone puts me off completely. There are other places to buy furniture and playhouses after all.
I was honest with her throughout. What particular miffs me is that we had turned up at the time arranaged and with cash for the first playhouse so I think she should trust me a little bit.

She has lost out on about £400 with her impatience and anger issues.

Don't forget to visit the other Magpie Monday blogs and see what you think it trash and what you feel is treasure.

Me and My Shadow

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Silent Sunday

This is part of Silent Sunday and see the other contributions too.

Silent Sunday

Friday, 15 April 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful - Week 15

I am taking my own advice this week. I always tell people that if they are having a bad week, taking part in Reasons to be Cheerful can only help as there is always something positive even in the worst of weeks.

I have not had the best week. Blame it on menstrual tension, depression or whatever. I hit one of my lows. Not only do I do a whole heap of negative self-talk when this happens but I also talk absolute nonsense to Him Indoors, yes giving valid complaints but also heaping on a whole heap of fantastatical ideas about his sins too. Needless to say, this does not add to very good marital relations. Which pushes me into an even deeper downward spiral where my marriage is going to end thus proving that everybody leaves you in the end. The lucid part of me tells me that I have abandonment issues and am way too dependent on Him Indoors but how much easier it is to wallow in self-pity sometimes.

Anyway, this is supposed to be my Reasons to be Cheerful.

1. The weekend saw my daughter having her 7th birthday. She absolutely loved her presents, lots of them especially of the pink, Bratz or arts and craft variety. As you get more experienced as a Mum, you buy what they will enjoy rather than living out your own childhood fantasies. We built her new playhouse which is white with lots of colourful flowers and butterflies on it. She loves it and so do her brothers, both the little one and the big one. They have their tea in it sometimes and invent all sorts of games stimulated by having it. We had cake and candles and a lovely day.

2. We sold our 6th puppy. I was so delighted as it went to a couple who had bought our little black one and then telephoned to ask for our tiny white one. Unfortunately, by them we had sold it but they telephoned after a week to say they would have the other white one. Basically the Mum wanted the white, the little girl chose the black so Daddy realised the only way his life would be worth living was to get both. We just have on lovely chocolate labrador puppy looking for a new home now. So sweet and I call him Freddie (after Freddie Mercury of course!). The ones named by their new owners are Bruno, Billy, Lucas, Bailey and Jasper.

3. I have received nominations for the MAD Blog Awards. It was so nice to discover that people like what I do on here enough to nominate me. I am still thinking who to nominate in soem categories so give me a heads up if you would like me to take a look at your blog.

MAD Blog Awards 2011

4. My Gallery post about the icebergs in our lives went down really well (just like the Titanic - sorry I do have a very black sense of humour sometimes). It brought loads of new followers and readers. It is so good how a blog can lead you to meet in cyberspace at least with some wonderful people. Why is it not so easy in real life? I really could do with a real life friend that I see regularly.

5. When I had a very self-indulgent tweeting day yesterday, people reached out to offer support and cyber friendship. Sometimes that just helps you find a chink of positivity to move you forwards a bit. Thanks all.

6. In the midst of the misery, I decluttered and bagged up 3 bin liners of stuff for the charity shop. Also tidied two bedrooms to my standards so that I feel more in control of things.

7. It is payday today and I reckon that a shopping spree tomorrow might just blow those black clouds away.

8. I am almost at the point of booking my first driving lesson. I need encouragement as I am already telling myself I will not succeed, blah, blah. However, I know my life would be transformed if I could drive especially now I live in a village without a bus service so find myself all too often housebound.

9. The weather is good enough to tempt me out for more walks which I know is always good for my soul.

You see, I have had a rotten internal world week but look what was happening on the outside. Feeling better already.

Do visit people who are feeling way more chirpier than me this week and celebrate all good things.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Who wants to be my new best friend?

I am looking for a new best friend. Wonder if there will be any takers?

What do you need to know about me?

Well, I am lonely or I would not be looking for a new best friend.

I am dark-haired, wavy at that with deep brown eyes and curvaceous (read fat) figure.

I like to blog and read other blogs a lot. I like to play with words and I love to promote concepts, goods and services. I have a bit of a social conscience going on too.

I spend far too much time indoors to the detriment of my mental health I think. I am prone to depressive episodes and some in my circle say I have a touch of the bi-polar about me (but hey, all the best people have that don't you know?. For reasons you might read in other posts, I carry insecurity around with me and it is way too heavy.

What would I like to do on a perfect day?

I would get up and eat breakfast and a lovely one at that on a pine table in a big kitchen. It would be scrambled eggs and smoked salmon or similar. There would be blue and white striped crockery with warm milk in a jug for my coffee.

I would then read the newspapers with my new best friend commenting and sharing our opinions on the deep and frivolous matters of the day.

At that point, I would go to a car-boot sale really enjoying all the diverse and quirky offerings.

Then, it would be a picnic lunch with a proper old-fashioned hamper with lots of goodies - huge tomatoes, eggs, interesting sandwich fillings and lots of cakes too.

I might even take a nap in the sunshine.

Back home to change into a new outfit ready for my trip to the theatre with my new best friend. It might be a musical or a play but it would be in an old-fashioned theatre with lots of red and gold and big curtains.

There would be a long interval allowing for a lovely supper with my new best friend who would introduce me to a new circle of people too.

Home feeling sleepy but alive enough to listen to Eighties Music particularly Queen and the Pet Shop Boys.

Ah well, back to living in cyberspace until the children come home from school and the round of refereeing and waitressing begins.

Then, my beloved will come home and I can have a deep and meaningful relationship with his left ear as he watches the telly.

A girl can dream of a new best friend and the perfect day especially in the sanctuary of her blog.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Gallery - Tomorrow

Here is my contribution to the Gallery this week with its theme of "Tomorrow".

I considered various possibilities for quite a challenging theme. These included showing all the school uniforms and bookbags laid out for morning. That looks like it will represent my tomorrows for many years to come.

I also was going to show a picture of a beach but I talked about that in my Magpie Monday post this week.

Perhaps a picture of the one remaining puppy from my litter of Labradors who I hope will find a new home tomorrow.

In the end, I recalled that tomorrow is the day that an iceberg hit the Titanic in 1912. So here is my Gallery photo to represent that event.

My thoughts on it fall into two categories. Firstly, I looked at the statistics about those who lived and those who died in the Titanic disaster.

Firstly, it is interesting to note how the class system meant far more first class passengers survived that second or third class passengers. Ninety nine years later and with harsh cuts hitting the poorest hardest, I wonder how much has really changed?
More women and children survived than men because the men insisted on them going in the lifeboats first. Would that happen today? Should it if we really want equality? Apparently, proportionately more British died than other nationalities. Conjecture suggests this is because the British formed orderly queues whilst everyone else rushed to escape. Would we still do that today?

Secondly, I reflect on what icebergs might hit in our lives tomorrow. Life is wonderful but there is always a iceberg waiting to churn things up a bit when we least expect it. Let's consider just of a few of my icebergs for a moment.

Rejection by birth mother

Bullying at school and in the workplace

Failing important examinations

Losing a friend to suicide

Friends moving on and leaving me behind

Acquiring step-children

Getting pregnant unexpectedly

Experiencing depression

Being fired

Losing my mum

Of course, icebergs change us and I hope make us more understanding and tolerant of others. Some icebergs will result in sadness for a lifetime and some we learn to live with and even celebrate in time.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that we do not know what tomorrow will bring or even if we will live to see it. The only guarantee in life as my Dad tells me is death. On some as yet unknown tomorrow, you and I will die.

So what is important then? All that matters really is making memories that will survive long after you are gone. Those memories will comfort the loved ones you leave behind and make you a very important person indeed. It won't be your income level, job title or status that people remember. It will be your essence, the core of who you are.

So starting today, in case tomorrow never comes, be a one-off and make some brilliant memories. The housework can wait!

Check out other entries to the Gallery.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Musical Memories - Week One

Regular visitors will know I love a meme, linky-up, blog hop or whatever the right term might be. There are 2 new ones called Musical Memories and Tracks of my Years so I am going to join in and imagine I will most weeks too. I love music and have really eclectic tastes too. Andrew Lloyd Webber was on telly the other day saying he probably loves music more than any person that he loves. I could empathise with that a little too.

Anyway, the theme for the Musical Memories one this week is New Beginnings.

The first thing that sprang into my mind may appear odd when I tell you the story.

At ten to eleven at night on 3rd September 2009, my mother died after a long scuffle with terminal cancer. I was on holiday at the time. That too will sound odd but I guess I ran away knowing what was coming. Mum had actually told me to go and to come back on 4th September. I am convinced she knew what she was saying and that I would return on 4th September but to comfort my Dad not to see her.

I got a text from my brother telling me to telephone Dad urgently. I remember being quite calm and saying to my husband, "Well, we know what this is then". I telephoned and spoke to the Marie Curie nurse who was fielding telephone calls. Dad came on and told me that Mum had died peacefully. I clung to that final word. It was OK if it was peaceful.

The next thing I did was to light a candle. When my husband asked why I was doing that, I replied that I did not really know but it is what Mum would have done. I guess this was my first act as the new matriarch of the family.

I talked and talked for hours and cannot really remember what about. I think my brother spoke to me by telephone at some point. My little boy only aged 3 at the time was asleep on the sofa and giggled all of a sudden in his sleep. He has not done that before or since in that way and I took it as a great comfort. Somehow Mum was sending a message.

Eventually, I went to bed in the early hours of the morning. I told my husband I wanted to sleep alone and once there, just sobbed and sobbed.

The next day we set off back to my Dad's house. Strange when your Mum and Dad's house stops being called that. We had a long drive back from the Highlands of Scotland. You see when I run away I don't do it by halves.

I asked my husband to park in a local town that had a library. I wanted him to email my oldest friend to give her the news. I seemed to want to tell everyone. Maybe that is a way of making it real.

To shift my thoughts, I put on the radio and this is the first song that came on. My Mum always loved great performers and we shared a love of Freddie Mercury and Queen. Radio Gaga was the song and somehow the lyrics seemed just right. Mum had the strength and the power in her lifetime and perhaps her passing to a better place was her finest hour. When you lose someone, there are many moments where you begin to make sense of it and integrate it into your life. This was a key moment and for me a new beginning, the beginning of my journey through life without my Mum. And yes, Mum, someone still loves you just like in the song.

Pop over and see some other songs that mean different things to different people


Musical Memories – Week 1 – New Beginnings
By mummymatters, on 11th April 2011

Welcome to the very first week of my new linky, Musical Memories. Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, Mum always had music playing at home, UB40, Alexander O’Neil, Queen, Annie Lennox – just a few memories from my childhood. Often when I’m in the car or a shop and I will hear a tune and it will take me back to a moment in my life. Let’s share those moments with each other.

This week’s theme ties in with the start of being all shiny and new – New Beginnings – it could relate to anything you want it to, the birth of a baby, the start of a relationship, a new home . . .

And so to mine!

This was my entrance music as I walked down the aisle to be married to my wonderful Husband, though it was played on the harp! From the moment we began planning our wedding, I was transported back to the film Love Actually when Keira Knightley walked down the aisle after marrying her beau and a choir erupted into All You Need Is Love, accompanied by musicians in the congregation. I loved it but sadly my guests were not musicians so I knew we wouldn’t be able to scrape together a band, or a singer for that matter!

The only sad part to this memory is that, actually, I couldn’t tell you what it sounded like on the harp. I couldn’t tell you what any of it sounded like on the harp because I was so caught up in the emotion of the day and the sight of my Husband to be that all other senses were shut off. I’m told it sounded great but it doesn’t matter because that song will always remind me of one of the happiest days of my life!

Over to you . . .

Reflections on myself as a blogger and the MAD Blog Awards

I am delighted to announce that some kind souls out there have nominated me for the MAD Blogging Awards. I read many blogs and know just how many fabulous ones are out there so any nomination is a major deal for any blogger. Thank you!

Of course, it would be remiss of me not to ask for further nominations and support. It only takes you a few minutes and you know if makes sense lol. Here is why it matters to me and how I am reflecting on my blog recently.

1. This blog was the idea of my late Mum. She wanted me to pursue my writing and thought this was a good place to start. I began it in early 2009 and within days of starting was hit with the devestating news that my Mum was dying from cancer. I managed to use the blog for therapy for a couple of months and then life and death took over till early 2010 really. So every nomination is a tribute to my Mum who I loved despite herself and despite myself.

2. I think I write well usually with a down-to-earth and humorous style. Most of all, I think I am honest, searingly so at times. I refuse to edit my posts on what might upset someone, offend someone or expose me too much. This is the place that I am totally me. I have found that very liberating and also a great help in handling the ever-lurking depression.

3. I try to help others via this blog particularly other mums and women generally. I think women generally and mums in particular put themselves way too much and that we need to challenge that in ourselves and others. So I have set up initiatives where we can celebrate wonderful women, mark out proud mummy moments and share our inspirational thoughts. I have high hopes of setting up a new blog soon that will focus far more on doing good keeping this one on for my random outpourings.

4. I cover "difficult" issues sometimes including adoption from different angles, domestic violence, bereavement, step-parenting and post-natal depression. I like to know how these touch people and make them feel less isolated with their feelings and experiences. I also learn from every comment that readers are kind enough to leave on my blog.

5. I try to support other people's initiatives such as the wonderful Magpie Monday, Reasons to be Cheerful, The Gallery and Silent Sunday. I also do make valiant attempts to visit other entries on blog hops and leave meaningful comments. I try to be an active and regular contributor to Blogging Networks such as British Mummy Bloggers again learning from and with others.

6. I respond to feedback so carry far less reviews now on here although retain recipes which seem to go down well with people. I am also using more photography now to break up the prose a little. I am still very much a words person but I am starting to relish taking photos too.

7. Thinking about how people win awards, I reckon you have to be either really talented or have a gimmick. I think I am talented but then so are so many bloggers out there. Gino seemed to do the trick on ITV's This Morning when he said if they won a National Television Award, he would cook naked. I could offer to blog naked (of course, that might not be a change lol), but would it be more of a pull to promise to keep my clothes on?! So if anyone can think of a suggested gimmick for me, let me know as I am sure that would make entertaining reading.

Finally, there are some truly marvellous blogs out there so if you just visit mine, do look around on Twitter and British Mummy Bloggers and find wonderful discoveries. Laugh and learn with lovely ladies (and the odd fella too but then they are all odd aren't they?)

Within the week, I will post my suggestions for great blog reading in the various MAD Blog Award categories. If you want a mention, give me a heads up.

It is so easy to recognise parent bloggers over at ...

MAD Blog Awards 2011

More importantly for me, I would really welcome your comments on what you like and dislike about this blog's content and style. This will inform my new one and it is good to know what you think too.

Celebration Cake from Carnation

Carnation Celebration Cake
Celebrate all things British with this gorgeous berry-topped cake, filled with strawberry jam and spread with a rich butter cream icing. Perfect for picnics, street parties or to brighten up a rainy day!

Serves 12

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25-30 minutes



200g (7oz) plain flour

405g can Carnation Condensed Milk Light

2 eggs

2tsp vanilla extract

150g (5∏oz) margarine or butter

3tsp baking powder


6tbsp strawberry conserve or jam


200g (7oz) icing sugar

100g (3∏oz) margarine or butter, softened

2tsp vanilla extract

200g (7oz) mixed summer berries, to decorate

You will also need:

2 x 18cm (7in) sandwich cake tins, base lined with parchment


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C for fan ovens), Gas Mark 4.

2. Place the flour, condensed milk, egg, vanilla extract, margarine and baking powder in a bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer for 2-3 minutes until pale and fluffy.

3. Spoon into the tins and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes until springy to the touch and golden brown. Cool slightly then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

4. Place one half of the cake onto a serving plate and spread with the jam. Sandwich together with the other half.

5. Beat the icing sugar, butter and vanilla with a few drops of water to bring the mixture to a soft consistency. Spread onto the cake. Arrange the berries on top in a Union Jack shape if you like!


· Look out for natural vanilla extract – not essence. It is widely available in all good supermarkets and makes all the difference to baking homemade treats!

· Make a chocolate version of this cake – substitute 25g of the flour for the same amount of cocoa powder in the sponge. Substitute the same 25g of the icing sugar for the same of cocoa powder and top with white and dark chocolate curls, pink wafer biscuits or sugar sprinkles. Delicious!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Celebrate the Royal Wedding with News of the World Giveaway


Free Double Party CD for Every Reader

No party is complete without a sound track - and starting this Sunday, readers of the News of the World will be able to get their very own ultimate party CD, completely free of charge.

Britain’s biggest Sunday newspaper is giving away the fantastic two-disc CD filled with 16 classic floor fillers - including Karma Chameleon, The One and Only, Walking on Sunshine and Don’t You Want Me.

The collection, called ‘A Right Royal Knees Up’, is available from this Sunday (April 10) with CD1 in a collectible wallet, and continues the following week (April 17) with CD2. It’s enough to get any party started.

The vouchers for the free CDs will be printed in the News of the World on Sunday April 10 and 17, and CDs are available to pick up at all Tesco stores (except forecourts) nationwide.

CD1 comes with a special collector’s edition street party sleeve, with space for CD2 to be added the following week. The full track listing is as follows:

CD1 – available from April 10

1. Culture Club - Karma Chameleon
2. Katrina and the Waves - Walking on Sunshine
3. MC Hammer - U Can’t Touch This
4. Chesney Hawkes - The One and Only
5. Bryan Ferry - Let’s Stick Together
6. Heaven 17 – Temptation
7. Pato Banton feat. Ali & Robin Campbell - Baby Come Back
8. The Swinging Blue Jeans - The Hippy Hippy Shake

CD 2 – available from April 17

1. The Proclaimers - I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)
2. Belinda Carlisle - Heaven is a Place on Earth
3. Human League - Don’t You Want Me
4. Kajagoogoo – Too Shy
5. Supergrass – Alright
6. Huey Lewis and The News - The Power of Love
7. Tommy James and The Shondells - Mony Mony
8. Jeff Beck - Hi Ho Silver Lining

The CD will be promoted with a TV advert across both weekends. The ad continues the comic set-up theme of the paper’s on-going ‘The Big Stories Start Here’ campaign and depicts a guest singing along to her CD during a wedding ceremony. It airs from Friday April 8.


News of the World is £1 nationwide and is available every Sunday.

CD1 voucher valid from 10/04/2011 to 16/04/2011.

CD 2 voucher valid 17/04/2011 to 23/04/2011.

This offer is not running in the Republic of Ireland.

Terms and conditions are on the vouchers which are printed in the paper. One coupon per product purchased, subject to availability, may not be used in conjunction with any other offer, not redeemable through, no cash value to voucher, no change will be given. Coupon remains the property of Tesco Stores Limited and is not for re-sale or publication.

Magpie Monday - a bit of an art form

This week, I am sharing recent and some older finds that adorn my walls along with some of the stories behind them.

This was bought by my youngest son for me for Mother's Day. I love it because it reminds me of a visit to Grange Over Sands. It was at the time when I was really struggling to come to terms with my Mum's terminal cancer diagnosis. It was a cold day and my husband and boys went back to the car leaving me and my daughter to walk. The beach was deserted and other-worldly. I can't explain why but I found it comforting to be holding my little girl's hand and looking at a view that did not seem to end. Maybe, my Mum would carry on after her death in the same way. So this picture reminds me of a day when I started to integrate the reality into my life and started to cope a little bit.

As I am talking of my late Mum today, here are some of her finds. I never particularly liked them and I don't think other family members did either. Knowing Mum this probably added to her pleasure in putting them up.

Now Dad lives with me, I have these pictures and try to find places for them where I don't have to see them often but can enjoy the memory of Mum and her tastes from time to time.

Mum particularly liked this one as she said it reminded her of her and my Dad on a day out.

It is funny to think that I see me and Him Indoors in a different way and have finally due to the overwhelming pressure posted pictures of my saucy items from last week so do revisit last week's Magpie Monday blog post. Maybe Mum was just more of a lady altogether!

Talking of Him Indoors, he is a person without a huge amount of soul. Don't get me wrong. He has a lovely heart and would help anyone but he is not easily moved by art, architecture and the like. So imagine my shock when he brought these home found via Netmums even though they were a little pricey because he felt he could not leave them as he liked them so much.

So trees must do it for him and I have found out his taste after 13 long years.

Mum loved trees too so she is doubtless directing operations from on high.

The pictures are fabulous because the light affects them so you get a different sense and feeling from them at different times of day. Sometimes, they bring the word "hope" to mind and sometimes they look quite sinister.

I think many charity shoppers and bargain-hunters have a "thing" about certain items. It might be jelly moulds, cake stands or coloured glass. Well, I have a "thing" about lighthouses and loved this print found for £4.

Do other charity shop customers leave something they like for a few hours of a few weeks thinking that if it is still there, it was "meant to be mine"?

I have left a lighthouse picture in my local shop for weeks now. It is like some sort of weird guilty pleasure to leave it there even though I have the money for it and then get a ridiculous joy when it remains there just waiting for the day I claim it.

Hope you enjoyed my finds this week and don't forget the erotic stuff in last week's post to check out before visiting all the other Magpies sharing their hauls on Mondays.

Me and My Shadow

If you read my blog and like it, please nominate me for the MAD Awards below.

MAD Blog Awards 2011

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Silent Sunday

MAD Blog Awards 2011

Silent Sunday

After Anabelle: My 100th Post

After Anabelle: My 100th Post: "It has been a busy week planning Anabelle's Angel Day. The 25th June is drawing ever closer and there is plenty to be done. This weekend has..."

Friday, 8 April 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful - Week 14

Here are this week's Reasons to be Cheerful

1. I suppose the major news in our world is that whereas last week we had no new homes secured for our lovely litter of labrador puppies, we now have 5 ready after just 5 puppy viewings. We have more viewings at the weekend so fully expect all our lovelies to have nice homes to go. It is lovely to meet the new owners and find out their motivations for wanting a dog and see their pure joy when they pick one.

2. I had the most lovely Mother's Day with home-made cards from the children and a big glossy one from my husband plus 4 bunches of flowers and chocolates. I also identified charity shop things I liked and will say more about those on #MagpieMonday. If you don't know what that is, do check out details on Twitter. I also went to church which is unusual for me these days but I really enjoyed it as well as the coffee and treats afterwards. I lit a candle for my Mum and felt a little tearful but if you have to face up to such things as the loss of your Mum, it is easier if you are holding your own children's hands.

3. I have done various bargain -hunting this week and two of my children and my husband will be getting things they will love very soon as a result. More on #Magpie Monday so do revisit my blog then.

4. I have heard about new blogger opportunities and am pursuing some of those. I have also been nominated for the MAD Blog Awards and if you have not nominated me already, I welcome your support and all you have to do is follow the badge below. I am also actively seeking blogs to support in these awards so do get in touch if you want my support as I know that I don't know all the blogs in town and that I when I find new ones I always laugh, learn and feel inspired.

5, I have started Proud Mummy and Inspiration Blog Hops (scroll down for details and feel free to join in). Hardly anyone joins in but those that do are quality contributions and much appreciated. I have been questioning the whole blogging thing and realising how easy it is to get caught up in the rankings, competitions, blog hops, awards stuff and how vital it is to revisit your motivations for blogging in the first place. I want to do more good with my writing and have plans for a new website and blog to do just that.

6. I have really enjoyed that feeling of warmth from the lovely sunshine and have counted my blessings that I now live in a house with a courtyard that is a real sun trap. We have new red flowers in the garden too, a colourful blast of joy.

7. My oldest son thanked me for all my hard work this week and my daughter wrote me a lovely poem about how I am like a trampoline, a kitten, a flower and a Barbie Doll. Look through my posts from this week and the Proud Mummy one if you want to read it in its entirety. Now I often feel unappreciated and more importantly like a totally inadequate mummy so these were blessings indeed. Plus I am strutting my stuff now that I know that rather than fat and frumpy, I am actually a Barbie!

8. We had a brilliant school report for my daughter who is exceeding all her targets. Also she is described as "a delight to teach" and "a superstar". Her mother's daughter, then lol!

9. After all my stressing about my brother's vist (see yesterday's post), he turned up in one of his good moods and was fine about the state of his room and so on. Phew!

10. It is my darling daughter's 7th birthday tomorrow. I have so many lovely things planned for her and I love her very much indeed.

11. I was very unhappy about a School Initiative and blogged about it below. Due to encouragement received, I stuck to my convictions and also complained to the school. To my amazement, the Head reflected on my comments, thought they had merit and took my complaint to the Governing Body. The Chair of the Governors said she had felt like me for years about the scheme but had not had the confidence to speak out. They are now ensuring every child gets a certificate of participation and reviewing how the scheme should change so that the benefits can remain without the bad stuff I complained about that they agree clashes with good moral values. I have been asked to feedback my ideas and also to get involved in fundraising for the school. Double win! People Power works so have your say this week!

Now, why wouldn't I be cheerful?

MAD Blog Awards 2011

With thanks to Mummy from the Heart who helps me so much with this blog hop by reminding me of all the lovely things that happen all the time. Really good for someone who struggles with depression and blows those black clouds away.

Don't forget to check our more positivity over at Maxabella's blog hop. All about gratitude and making friends in a different country or two.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Under Pressure

Today, I am under pressure.

My brother is coming to stay for 2 days.

I have exactly the same feeling that I used to have so often with my late Mum. Right in the solar plexus, a feeling that I will not measure up despite hours of preparation in terms of tidying up, cleaning and so on.

At Christmas, he complained that his room was not "up to my standards" after my daughter tried to make it festive by making "snow" out of polystyrhene balls. I did sweep them up but some remained down the cracks in the wooden floor.

I was told when I felt absolutely despairing at once again being blamed for everything that goes wrong whilst never getting praise for what I do right, that I was not "giving me a warm enough welcome".

Then he threatened to leave which was emotional blackmail as he knew by doing so I would end up in trouble with my Dad. For some reason I cannot fathom, both Mum and Dad favoured him over my other brother and myself.

So I have swept floors, hoovered carpets, mopped floors, used white vinegar and room sprays liberally. I have used Cillit Bang on surfaces and bought brand new duvet and bedding for him.

Will it be good enough? I doubt it.

For some reason, I feel judged already and he is not even here. Not looking forward to those looks of disdain over the next couple of days.

In many ways he is lovely but he has that cruel streak too. It leaves you guessing whether it will be heaven or hell. Not a nice feeling and immobilises me.

Who makes you feel under pressure and why?

If you want to cheer me up, can I put you under some pressure to nominate me kindly for the following blog awards?

MAD Blog Awards 2011

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Inspiration Wednesday - link up things that inspire you

It strikes me that by Wednesday many parents are stressed out.

On Sunday, there were great hopes for the week ahead. Perhaps you thought you would make real progress helping your baby or child towards a key milestone and things have gone awry. Perhaps your hopes of the house being spick and span were OK until various children and animals decided to conspire against you. Perhaps you had hopes of good news on the job or education front and it did not turn otu as planned.

It is usually halfway through the week on Wednesdays that I could do with a shot of inspiration to carry my womanfully forward for the rest of the week.

So I am going to share on Wednesdays something that I hope will inspire others and maybe speaks to me too. It might be a quotation, some song lyrics or anything else but something that inspires.

Because we are all in need of that shot of inspiration sometimes, I am inviting people to either link up with their inspirational posts or to leave a comment with their favourite quote that gives them heart in the bad times,

One of my favourite inspirational sayings is "Feel the Fear and Do it Anway" by Susan Jeffers. I like its simplicity and the fact that when you listen to that advice, you always end up feeling better.

I recently came across the lyrics of "Defying Gravity" and hope this speaks to many mums out there.

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap!

It's time to try
Defying gravity
I think I'll try
Defying gravity
And you can't pull me down!

Can't I make you understand?
You're having delusions of grandeur:

I'm through accepting limits
'Cuz someone says they're so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I'll never know!
Too long I've been afraid of
Losing love I guess I've lost
Well, if that's love
It comes at much too high a cost!
I'd sooner buy
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I'm defying gravity
And you can't pull me down:
(spoken) Glinda - come with me. Think of what we could
do: together.

(sung) Unlimited
Together we're unlimited
Together we'll be the greatest team
There's ever been
Glinda -
Dreams, the way we planned 'em

If we work in tandem:

There's no fight we cannot win
Just you and I
Defying gravity
With you and I
Defying gravity

They'll never bring us down!
(spoken) Well? Are you coming?

I hope you're happy
Now that you're choosing this

(spoken) You too
(sung) I hope it brings you bliss

I really hope you get it
And you don't live to regret it
I hope you're happy in the end
I hope you're happy, my friend:

ELPHABASo if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately:
"Ev'ryone deserves the chance to fly!"
And if I'm flying solo
At least I'm flying free
To those who'd ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am
Defying gravity
I'm flying high
Defying gravity
And soon I'll match them in renown

Hope those wonderful words inspire you and look forward to hearing your inspirational shots in the arm, blog posts, quotes, song lyrics, whatever.

If I inspire you even a little bit, I would love a nomination if you visit the website below. Pretty please!

MAD Blog Awards 2011

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Proud Mummy Tuesday blog hop

As mums, we all love our children and the joys they bring in the midst of all the exhaustion and challenges. However, sometimes there are very special moments when you get that wonderful feeling in the heart region and you genuninely feel that your child is the best ever. I am starting a blog hop on Tuesdays to celebrate those moments so here goes with my contribution.

All you have to do to join in is link up a post that shows your child in a good light. Maybe they were a good friend to someone, made something special, performed in a play, did well at school, whatever.

I am proud of my darling daughter for seeing me in this way and reminding me that perhaps I am not such a useless mum after all.

This it the poem that appeared in my Mother's Day card from her.

My Mum

My Mum is bouncy just like a trampoline that I have fun on.

My Mum is nice just like a tiny ladybird munching on leaves.

My Mum is very playful just like a fluffy kitten playing with string.

My Mum is lovely just like a pink flower in the soil.

My Mum is fun just like a barbie doll for me to play with.

My heart swelled when I read this and it came in a beautiful handmade card with daffodils painted on the front.

Now, your children are fabulous too so link up your proud mummy moment.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Magpie Monday - naughty but nice

Well, here are just some of my finds that fit with the saying "naughty but nice".

I have had the bad luck to find a woman who is selling a whole host of things from her house that almost exactly match my taste of lack of it depending on your viewpoint.

I have a little virtue and turned down an antique writing desk, a retro coffee table, a lamp and a huge vase. She had sold the amazing dolls' house before I got to her which is probably a good thing really as my daughter has two already.

However, I took great delight in sending a blushing Him Indoors to collect 5, erm, erotic statues. I paid about 10 per cent of what they are worth but I love nudes so long as they are tasteful so these will be staying with me. Him Indoors commented that it was not ideal that I put them next to Bertie Bassett and the Sacred Heart of Jesus but I will find the right spot for them I promise.

I also got a wonderful photo frame in glass from the charity shop which is sort of a spoof on Charlie's Angels i think with three females and the words "Girl Power" on it.

In my bathroom, there is a tile in a frame with what I think is a handpainted picture of a couple in a bathtub. Very "Love is ..." It makes me laugh and reminds me of times when I have had more than one person in the bath and not a child if you get my drift.

There have, of course, been other purchases of the bargain variety this week but think these will do for this week's Magpie Monday.

Next week, I promise to be less saucy and more deep and intellectual, honest guv!

Due to the saucy nature of the finds, there are no pictures unless you ask me nicely!

Do check out the other finds on the Magpie Monday blog hop. From books to charming porcelain to furniture to clothing to quirky objets d'art, all life is here.

Me and My Shadow

Sunday, 3 April 2011


Now check out some wonderful stories of real mums in my other blog posts. How about joining in my blog hop about mums too. Look at Wednesday's posting for further details. Just post a picture or blog post about your Mum or any mum and link up. Let's celebrate mums on this special day.

Silent Sunday