Friday, 29 April 2016

Pointless Selfies





I really don't have much confidence in my appearance, I have the sort of eyebrows that are like Beaker from the muppets and a beautician at a blogging event was quite rude. 

Neither do I like photos of myself really but every so often I get a flash of self confidence and take one. 


Then other times I just get plain silly 


Quite a few of me are pictures wearing a bobble hat 



Or obscured by the cat 



 So selflies are sort of pointless and at the time for me a measure of my self confidence.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Spring Review


I'm typically an early riser anyway but this morning I decided or rather my subconscious decided to wake me up at silly o' clock and a 6th sense told me to make best of the golden light. I thought well I'll just go review Spring and seeing as Spring is a bit of a diva at the moment it was really the best idea to  tred lightly.  Spring has less complicated lyrics than a BeyoncĂ© song and is more worthy of breaking the Internet than Kim Kadashian.


This was the view that created me this morning .




Spring is a little confused having been on her travels , Spring is a lady right?


I think Spring is jet lagged and is bursting into tears ,  the bursting into tears is happening a little but too much and I'm really not liking the constant rain ...

Or snow .


Or hail.

Or plague of locusts ...


Disclosure I reviewed Spring early in the morning ( sure that's a song , I drank tea before I went out and possibly this was an offering to Spring .


Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Happy Hump Day





It's meant to be "Hump" day the day you supposedly well get the the hump . So you've had the Friday feeling couple with #TGIF , bounced into Saturday / Sunday . Oooh then you've got to get going with the Monday Motivation.

So what on earth are you meant to do on Thursday?

Telling The Weather By Cat

I judge the weather but only by doing the very British habit of looking out the window or more than likely through it as I can't find the window key.

I think the  window keys must be fronting a revolution with the lost socks and food lids(that's a whole new blog post makes mental note on back of hand to write that blog post ) 

Back to talking about our national pastime which is talking about the weather. I can tell who the weather is going to be like by my cats , granted you are not going to see the weather person saying



"The cat is curled up in the bed so the temperatures will be a  colder than Game Of Thrones , I would stay at home instead and be productive"






You see if both cats are in there the weather is really cold you're are going to need your winter coat, scarf and of course a bobble hat.


If Rollie is in and Jack(black cat)  is out then the weather is changeable and take every weather aid you can think of including an umbrella also Rollie does like his fur getting cold believe me he is a very odd cat.



If the cats sneeze then it will probably rain ....


If Jack is in and Rollie is out then a storm is probably coming as Rollie does like to defy the weather at times.



Disclosure You won't be seeing the cat weather forecast on anytime soon. > but you never know


Monday, 25 April 2016

SureFeed Sealed Pet Bowl The Review


I would have written this earlier but I was bust requesting car pet samples in order to cover a hole that Rollie has made in the front room for no apparent reason, it could have easily spend the door with its paw but no , it could have indeed been vocal to perhaps alert one of its staff to open the door * staff=me ( but no it didn't do that either . Instead Rollie  got cross and created a bit of a hole which will no need repairing * big sigh.


Rollie has a bit of a history with carpets which you can read about here.





There is  a new cat bowl in town * drum roll please!




The SureFeed Sealed Pet Bowl is a daily use feeder designed to keep wet food fresh, reduce odours and keep flies off the food. It opens when a pet approaches and is suitable for cats and small dogs. Keeps wet food fresher for longer by sealing in moisture, it prevents flies from contaminating food. Uses infra-red sensors to detect a pet approaching the bowl. Rollie has reviewed a Sureflap product before in the shape of a catflap which you can read about here.


Sure Flap are a great company to work with and as such I wouldn't write about them if I didn't whole heatedly believe in their products and more importantly the cats give they them their paw of approval. 


There is a training mode you can use with the SureFeed Sealed Pet Bowl in order to get your cat used to the feeding process , but as Rollie is a bit of a diva we just decided to dive right in. As Rollie does everything on his own terms you 'll see from this you tube video that Rollie had no problems using the bowl. And right on cue after doing a star performance he decided to try and boycott eh new bowl on and off but I stood firm and didn't let with Rollie or Jack sway how I was going to introduce the bowl to them as they do work as a bit of a double act to be as awkward as only as cats can be . 




We've all been there they want to go out the front door only to come back in 30 seconds later!


And this bowl is brilliant for my cats who don't partake in segregated feeding PS don't even suggest that to them as no doubt they will just had it to the list of their ever increasing diva demands.


So I and the cats honestly recommend this bowl and look forward to the other innovative products that SureFlap will bring out .. I am hoping a cat door bell isn't one of them!




Rollie and Jack were sent this cat bowl and their thought and opinions are their own  as our mine. I must rush Jack wants to go out the front door again.


No One Owes Me A Bean

I thought no one owes me a bean on the Internet , and I wish for simplicity at times , I wish at times I was borrowing Spectrum games from my friends ( mostly boys ) . A sudden realisation has come over me that I was in the in crowd ( but my in crowd was the out crowd and I never really fitted in at school )  , cycling round at break neck speed to borrow the latest game from one of my friends . Leaving my Mother wondering where the hell I was , bearing in mind this was the age before the age of the mobile fun so she rang every single boy on my Spectrum 48k list till she found me . If I had been in the pouty girl group this of course would have further dented my street cred . I was the girl with the bicycle the one that had 10 gears So I could whizz here and everywhere and it was my beloved Raleigh Wisp and it was a racer, the boys though how dear a girl have a 10 gear speed racer bike.




Sadly I no longer have my beloved bicycle but I do miss it greatly.

But I wasn't one of  the pouty girls I did like my music like AHA and a splattering of Duran Duran and so forth but I was very independent , that's not to say at times I didn't try and blend in but much to the horror of my mother I was up trees and jumping out of ground floor windows at Church youth club. I was the bespeckled girl living on a council estate going to the posh school ( an ex grammar school built for baby boomers) so just getting to school I was running the gauntlet from the kids on the estate going to the school of hard knocks. I was the one wandering along with my Latin book in hand pondering if I should cut through danger alley as I was running late for school . Staying individual is very much key to my survival at school and yes I was bullied like there was no normal but my bullies didn't define me.


I remember going to the Post Office to pay some money into my savings account and the lady in the post office pointing at the way I had written number 7 in the continental style saying

"What the hell is that  ?"


I remember saying


"That is my style and that is all that matters "



We can led our bad times drag us down and I hope people get more help nowadays I did get some help in my time but my individuality certainly helped , I defined myself .


Let no one define who you are .




Patience is indeed a great venture and good things come to those who wait ) except my cat who decided to get cross with the carpet again but that is a blog post for another day .




Patience was learnt through waiting for my Spectrum games to load it was the digital version of Russian roulette and the world was yours if the game did indeed load.




My name is Claire dedicated defier of Fashion



GOSH how forward was I .. indeed how forward I still am !




Friday, 22 April 2016

Slow Cooker Gammon With Sweet Potatoes

Finally it's Spring ! lighter days make my soul shine , it's been a mild winter . We are just chalking up to double digits in the temperature stakes which I'm loving. I've even got the outdoor furniture out but the next day it rained ! There has been more good days than bad ones and even then I've my beloved cup of tea . I think tea must be one of the words that I use most often and I get very cranky if I can;t have a cup of tea , I do take my favourite tea bags abroad with me.


You might think that a slow cooker is just for Winter but I don't think it is , a slow cooker is a brilliant helping hand in the kitchen , especially useful for the days when we are busy running around here there and everywhere.





Ingredients 

Gammon joint 

Pack of small sweet potatoes


Method 

In your slow cooker pour in about 3 cups of hot water.

2 Tablespoons of brown sugar 

A joint of Gammon 

Switch the slow cooker on low and least for at least 6 hours .

Make sure the water covers the sweet potatoes, I used a pack of small sweet potatoes.



You'll find that sweet potatoes have held together.


Prepare the additional vegetables that you want to accompany your meal .

Once everything is ready switch the slow cooker off 

Carve the gammon 

And then plate everything up .


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Easy Way To Clean The Mircowave

The inside of my microwave looks like the Valentine Day massacre with splattered sauce and some of these stains do seem to defy the laws of gravity . Every short cut points at the not so humble lemon , oooh but alas I used my last lemon in a Gin and Tonic , such is life. Everyone knows phrase

"If life gives you lemons then first clean your microwave "




All I had was vinegar ! everyone is aware of the cleaning benefits of vinegar .

This cleaning technique was the best 5 minutes of my life except that time when I thought I'd won something on the lottery. Here is the horror scene that was my microwave before I got all domestic and decided to clean , I do apologise if you're getting twitchy looking at this . 


Fill either a microwave bowl or jug with at least 2 cup worth of water

2 Tablespoons of vinegar

A squeeze of lemon juice > the one that's shaped like a lemon ( your lemon juice doesn't have to be contained in a lemon )



Place the bowl / jug in the microwave and shut the door !!

Then microwave for 5 minutes , please be careful when opening the door ! 

You could if you wish let the steam work for a further 2 minutes .

Wash the glass turntable and dry , return the glass turntable to the microwave 

You should then have a sparkling clean microwave .




I am joining in with Homserve's Big Spring Clean pop over to see other helpful and useful tips.



Disclosure I am being sent a voucher for providing Homserve with a Spring cleaning tip.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Let's Go Back to 1985

Way back in the mists of time when things were so much better and there was only 3 channels on the television , and we watching everything in black and white ( well I was as my household didn't have colour T.V till 1986 ) I even had to change the television channels by hand bot remote control for me and the first time I ever did come across a remote I pressed the button and flicked the remote like Hermione using her wand. I thought Philip Scofield  in his Broom Cupboard had grey hair when I was growing up and was amazed when we finally got colour that in fact his hair wasn't grey though now it is and he is still on my television screen !

Sunday I did think I was back in time , it was a typical Sunday and Rugby was on the horizon with it being our last game , the teams playing expectations were high. The rugby game didn't start off too well it was scrappy which for a rugby game shows the gaps in play ( I am no Rugby commentator but I know a little ) . Eventually the team found their rthymn and they upped their age to win , they are 17 now and the game can get rather feisty in fact one player did have to go to hospital with a suspected fracture to the arm but in the end it just proved to be bruised pride and he was Ok .


After rugby we all piled back in our cars to head to their rugby club which wasn't as close as we thought it was going to be , I think some where along the 10 minute journey we must have hit 88 miles per hour in our imaginary Deloreans as we arrived at a working mens club. Think Phoenix nights and that is exactly what it was like just when I though it couldn't get any more surreal I looked up and saw laminate on the walls . 




This was so very much like the scene from Dumbo "Elephants on parade " . I had to wait will the men folk had a "5 minute rugby meeting " an hour and a half later and we were finished ! Then back to the year 2016 ... wohooooo but you know what I think I left a little back of my heart back in 1985 when life was so much easier . You had a limited choice in everything and you just had to get on with it ....




My last brush with a working mens club was when we had to go watch my sons cornet teacher at an event which included the world whistling champion whose talents included whistling the whole of the William Tell Overture ......


My life is surreal.







And I am sitting here on a cold ,dull grey Monday morning looking for my motivation in places that more than likely need a jolly good dusting. Yesterday at the end of the  I felt awful but today I am starting to feel a little more full of life and I am certainly in a better place than I was 2 years back and that is my marker. And certainly writing this helps as I having a good giggle as my husband was wearing a gilet in which look like the one Michael J Fox wore in Back to the Future except his was Burgundy ( not that makes wearing it any better but you know I don't have to embrace that fashion blip !)



Thursday, 14 April 2016

The Country Explorer

Sometimes you've just got to push off the malaise and get out and walk and listen to the bird song.




No rascally Robin on my walk today but a good assortment of birds , I should take some binoculars out ....




I'm better then I think I am , though I have to say I didn't like the staff photo I saw of myself today . I feel ever so slightly like weeble wobble .



So embarking on what I only can call fitography which involves you guessed it getting fit while taking pictures by amy pictures possible. Note pictures drawn in crayon are not acceptable ...



Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Why I love The National Trust

Why I love the National Trust so much is many !!




I live with easy access to 2 properties Calke Abbey and Kedleston Hall , Calke Abbey is the nearer of the 2 properties and they've both been a source of many a family picnic , visit and adventure over the years.




I love the feeling of a National Trust being my own , it's a if I'm a protector of a time gone by and without it the protection of the Natiional Trust many a beautiful building and way of life would be lost forever . Many of the National Trust properties were handed over them in lieu death tax , many properties that didn't have the luxury of the help of the National Trust have been lost forever resulting in many being pulled down.



It is always a joy to wander round the garden at Calke  ; pure bliss as it's a mobile phone black spot Bermuda triangle and you know what it's heavenly , the need to be connected has been thrust upon us and like the Matrix we've got to pull the plug and break free . We need to see the world with our own eyes instead of through a laptop of computer screen all the time. That's not to say that technology and the past can't live in harmony as indeed they can . Wandering around various National Trust properties there are many ways in which technology is used to say perhaps show you how a restoration was undertaken.



Walking round the garden the previous Sunday I heard a grandparent retelling the beloved story of Peter Rabbit , a kitchen garden of a lovely grand stately home is an ideal story setting. Also this week is  #NationalGardeningWeek and being a member of the National Trust offers us the space and great expanse of garden we've not got at home.

I would love to live in a stately home ! but without having to clean it , the conservation of National Trust properties is an immense task through paid staff and the wonderful army of volunteers. 


My son is studying A level History in 6 th form and the properties provide such a valuable extra resource to his learning , I'm so pleased we are members. The National Trust provide such all round family fun.


Go join and explore the time gone by.














Thursday, 7 April 2016

Ever Wondered Why ?

Ever wondered why I take so many pictures ? 





It helps me in my depression and anxiety journey .



I was proud to stand up for myself when challenged as a burglar dressed in a bright pink coat ! I was told " you've lots of pairs of eyes on you "



I said " Good it pays to be vigilant !" 

They weren't keen on me taking pictures of the houses down the lane .I explained who I was , where I worked and lived . Then  went home got my school id to go back and show them . I explained my breakdown 2 years ago and how walking and pictures helped me . They seemed to accept what I was saying . 

You know what I'm going to continue taking pictures and nothing will stop me . I stay within the law and I'll jolly will keep taking pictures of the lane . If their houses are in the pictures then so be it as as I'm not trespassing as I'm on the public path footpath. 

I'll empower myself and keep doing it !!!



And living near the countryside I fully understand why people are so sensitive about people taking pictures. Burglary is horrible I've been victim of an attempted burglary myself and friends and family have been burgulared themselves and it can deverstate your whole world.






It's my #depression #anxiety journey


And I'll be out later taking pictures with my bigger camera ....


I'll leave my bag marked SWAG at home 






Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Review Of The Crackin Egg Company

I was sent 2 packs of eggs from The Crackin Egg Company - in an egg shell they're boiled eggs which last a month . They're brightly coloured which is part of the protective process to keep them fresh.

The eggs I were sent came with 2 sets of seasonings : salt and pepper and Chilli . the 2 pack ones retail at £1.59 . 


I tried the salt and Pepper ones which were OK , the salt and pepper seasoning was quite powdery and I did sneeze. I think personally they're begging out for some sort of Artisan mayonnaise along side them The eggs last 4 weeks compared to the others on the market which last a week .

Overall it was only the seasonings I had an issue which and the eggs themselves were of a great flavour. In fact I do think the eggs were that tasty they'd be lovely in a Scotch egg.

Mr T was not keen at all on them neither was I myself really but you know what someone will pay for them and you've got to applause entrepreneurs. And they did pitch on Dragons Den and even though it didn't work out for them here they are selling in Ocado. I can see them going down a storm at Henley regatta and the Oxford and Cambridge boat race etc.



Disclosure I was sent 2 packs of the eggs for review , the company didn't have to shell out any money on this review . Brian and his harem of chickens worked for free on this photo shoot .

Monday, 4 April 2016

Spring Budget Busting

 Perfect Yorkshire Puddings


I'm approaching that time in my life when I need to pull in the family budget with my son going to university . There's going to be an inevitable cost - IE parental contribution  . 

First cost to get looked into is the SKY cost , I know you can get other services but it is case of sticking to what you know . I know there are cheaper options but for the moment it's giving movies the heave ho etc . We've huge Sports fans here so the men folk want to keep the sport and it keeps them quiet so a win win really .

Everyone approaches budget busting in their own way and you might think budget busting can be akin too herding cats . The little and often approach truely is working for me.


Holidays and short breaks is another area which can bring you to your knees , last year we were really lucky in going to Washington DC 





Washington DC is a trip of a lifetime and there is so much to do family wise for free which is brilliant for frugal souls like myself. Also we were able to go Berlin 




due to a comping win and that was so welcome . This Easter saw us going to feed tigers at Woburn Safari park , go on a private jeep safari . Then we were able to round the safari park at our own leisure. I'll not lie I was extremely worried feeding the lions they are magnificent creatures. Such holidays , short breaks and treats have been achieved through comping , cash back sites such as Quidco and Top Cashback ( this is a referral link to Topcashback if you rather not use my referral link then please use this link to Topcashback which is referral free ). The Cashback sites give you cash back on things and products you normally buy from your food shopping to your insurance.





And of course everything stops for tea , this was something else I didn't have to pay for as I won it along with the trip to Woburn Safari Park.


Did you know that the afternoon tea was thought of by Duchess Anna Maria in the 1840's  as she thought the time between luncheon and dinner was to long and some sort of substance was needed, what a forefront thinking lady !

The Woburn Hotel is certainly a hotel we'd love to come back to for a special occasion coughs perhaps in 7 years when I'm 25 ;-) . The afternoon tea was exquisite and I can see that making lunch boxes will see me perhaps having to cut the crusts off sandwiches , this tea did  included various five of your day , strawberry , cress etc ...

You'll probably still wondering why there is a picture of glorious Yorkshire Puddings at the top of this post ?! well that will be because I actually made my own Yorkshire Puddings , I'm really sorry but I've put Aunt B in a very nice care house home where I'll sure she'll make instant friends!


The recipe I followed on this was Mary Berry  s and I think the trick to the success of the mighty rise is the extra egg , though my Nan could make anything rise ( gosh doesn't that sound so very Frankie Howard?!) 

So this will certainly be a budget busting recipe for when he is had university ! And of course I'm sure he will be making my recipe from the other day Sticky Noodles with Beef.





Friday, 1 April 2016

Sticky Noodles With Beef

It's the Easter holidays and obviously the teen is here studying and carrying out Viking style rais upon the fridge , when it goes to recipe inventing I'm pretty much no nonsense . Think of me as Nigel Slater but without the finesse , by the way Nigel Slater is extremely friendly and has replied a couple times to my tweets.


Ingredients 

1 pack of Udon noodles

1 tablespoon peanut butter 

1 tablespoon soy sauce 


1 tablespoon sticky plum sauce 


Method 

Mix the tablespoon of peanut butter with smooth or crunch , you'll need to sticky briskly or whisk to combine the 2 ap, next add the chopped beef.


Sliced Beef
Slice the Beef




Peanut Butter and Soy Sauce
Mix the Soy sauce and Peanut butter together.

Add the Beef to the mixture and coat.


Heat some oil in a wok


Heat 

Wait slightly a slight sizzle is heard 


Add the noodles 

Stir in the tablespoon of sticky plum sauce 


Add in the beef stirring happily 


Next place on plate 


Serve and eat 


Sticky Noodles with Beef
Sticky Noodles with Beef.

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