Sunday 30 June 2013

Silent Sunday June

Saturday 29 June 2013

Paddington Bear with me

Don't you just love the quirky nature of London so one Sunday after waving a fellow 
Blogger off at Paddington station where I ran into a certain famous bear and then got lost. I ended up on the wrong tube and at the completely station several stops later I ended up thankfully back at St Pancras.

Back at St Pancras I saw this , I think it's been there ages I think I have had mind fog when I've been to Lonon previously.

It just shows you that just once or twice look up and see what you can see.

Friday 28 June 2013

Income Protection makes you think

Work base benefits according " to a new report commissioned by Unum , today’s employees are more likely to fall into financial difficulty than they were 30 years ago. The report suggests that this is partly owing to the fact that employee benefits – designed to provide financial protection – have failed to keep pace with the changing UK workforce which is now more feminised, older and includes more disabled and long-term ill."

I was encouraged to ask my HR department about my employee benefits and these are quite comprehensive ranging from sickness benefits, death in service benefits maternity benefits and so forth. But because many a local authority is in a state of flux due to the introduction of "Single status" in the work place I don't think that anyone wants to commit themselves as to if these benefits will change.

The working benefits are on a sliding scale depending how long you are off for, and being a local authority are quite generous as far as I gather there is no income protection other than the statutory right.

Working part time I am afforded the same benefits and rights as full times workers as my salary is on a pro rota scale.

I have to say the whole experience has left me feeling a little vague if I am honest and I think independent income protection is something I would look into again this is cost dependant. Unum have worked with Mumsnet on a income protection survey.

Disclosure ( I was not told what to write about all my view are completely my on , I am being send a voucher for writing about this ) 

Thursday 27 June 2013

Retail Royalty Challenge

You wait a lifetime just to be grown up.

You throw away your childish toys and momentos.

Or so you think.

I pick them up and store them.

For when you leave home.

Your dad says fly away far.

I say "NO"

Stay close.

Childhood is precious you see and that's why when I agreed to take part in Money Supermarket Retail Royalty there were many charities that sprung to mind. But I decided upon the children department at my local Derby hospital where I and my family have spent many a long hour. The budget given to us was £30 for us to spend on the charity of our choice.

Working in EYFS (Reception) my focus is always on value added play especially those that encourage sensory and fine motor skills, which are very much one of the building blocks of education.

Now the challenge is to buy as much as you can for £30 and as it's a hospital I really wanted a child there to have the pleasure and joy of unwrapping a new toy. You 'll be surprised to see that I have only 2 items in fact now you might very well be scratching your head. 

You see the value is in the play itself there is NO shortage to a child's imagination and the adventures that these and other toys can take them on. The Rainbow sound blocks are brilliant for teaching focus and interaction and will delight many children.

The other toy that I decided to go for was Duplo's first zoo , Duplo is always a firm favourite and you pay for its quality but it's a quality that will last countless generations.

I spent my entire budget of £30 but I think I did well don't you ?

This is my entry for Retail royalty challenge, from MoneySuperMarket. 

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Win A Limited Edition Jason Munro Art Cat Print From Artfinder

Cat by Jason Munro
I love art , art on walls , art on canvas art in many mediums , pictures bring words alive such as the quirky and funny  illustrations of Quentin Blake will encapsulates  the fine humorous writings of Roald Dahl who went to the local private boys school which is near which me called Repton the book that is personified in this is "Boy" His art is described as fidgety and joyful phrases I wholeheartedly agree with. And you can find special edition of his art work at Artfinder.

Art finder is an ideal place well to find art the clues in the name really and as Art finder says "because buying art doesn't have to break the bank" it has over 6,000 artworks with prints starting form £15 and oil paintings from £75.

So with thanks to Artfinder I have an very apt print as a competition prize I rather like it myself especially owning cats who have very much their own agenda. I have quite a few spare spaces on my wall that could do with a jolly up and seeing as my art skills at that of a cave man or woman then I think I shall be looking at their website.

The cat is a limited edition print from Brighton based illustrator Jason Munro, this prize was only made available to a few bloggers as part of the Britmums blogging event.

So for the cat to win this delightful cat print tell me where you might put this picture for me I might put in the kitchen as that's thier domain .. well the whole house is really.

Follow the easy instructions on rafflecopter, additional entries are available be sure to tell me in the comments which one and finally "Good Luck"

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Top 5 tips for blogging

Bloggers are like a coffee shop they are popping up every where , why alone as I am typing this a blog is popping about about some genre or other. I have been blogging 2 years now and I still don't understand it all, bloggers are always swapping tips as is natural. Blogging can be confusing especially to an outsider it need not be; so what advice would I give to a newbie blogger so here are my five tops tips though I can see it being longer than 5 tips.

1. Know what you are going to write about, don't blog angry or cross and if you do feel like doing that write the blog post in draft and read it back another day when you are calm. And if you have no idea what to write about just take the most common of things and perhaps blog about that the weather, time , messy rooms when you get thinking there is no shortage of ideas.

Just go crazy with your ideas.

2. Find a platform you are happy on with me, it's Blogger I am know what I am doing , I think and yet when I have problems I said to me " abandon it" and go to wordpress. Though if I had persevered with Wordpress those people would have been saying abandon Wordpress and go to Blogger. Find what platform you want to blog with and stick with it unless it becomes so annoying then change , whatever you do you will find no shortage of people wanting to help.

3. Mix it up I can not stress this enough mix up it up don't have a string of review after review ( that said there are such blogs than are excellent with this as they come at the topic with a truly personal and unique perspective.)

4. Don't get bogged down in stats and comments , though I bet a penny to a pound in a hour I'll be lamenting woo is me no one has commented. Seriously though as much as comments feel like you are being appreciated for what you do, some where someone. Make your blog post sticky with keywords so say if its about tea then perhaps extend it to the best tea to drink in the morning etc , etc.

5 DON"T worry about about fusion of  ideas for either a title,a theme or blog posts etc  just look at mine its cat, food, parenting reviews etc you might think the fusion idea won't work it will. Though having said that I have since discovered that Hoison duck on a pizza with slices of cucumber and Soy sauce is more CONfusion than my little tummy can handle.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Britmums I came , I saw I conquered

Britmums I went with anticipation despite having gone before , I really was scared witless at the event it's a melting pot of people , personalities not everyone will necessarily like each other for what ever reason. But even if you end up being next to someone you ( or they )don't see eye to eye with (yourself )or if you see someone from afar being at Britmums forces you into being together.

And it's a real testament to yourself and other people to be polite not a false politeness but a professional what I say blogging attitude. After all don't worry about what you can't change, concentrate on what you can.

Some sessions those perhaps of the keynotes will and do take you out of your comfort zone upsetting yes but without social and personal challenge sometimes we will not grow ourselves.and there is no shortage of blogging friends that will offer you a shoulder to cry or just a hug. Now I am not a huggy person but I seem to have been hugged left right and centre, now usually I would recoil from such a situation but not this time as it was a social solidarity.

I have fears

Of course I do ..

After all I am only human

And I was Ill at Britmums (I really was) 

I hope no one reads anything into this.

I try my best and always will.

I'm marmite to some people I really am.

But Britmums friends become like family.

"Death by social media " I'm trying my very best not to.

Coming to grips with situations I cannot change.

I want to live my life not fight against it!

Britmums for me pulls these threads together as thoughts are very much like threads jumbled in a mess quite a lot of the time and it's a social situation like Britmums that weaves them together.

I hope this makes sense.

And I'll see you next year.

Friday 21 June 2013

Butlin's holiday memories

I remember when my son was four and he was a small speck of a child ! we took him to Butlin's at Skegness for the day and he had such fun ,I remember going on the Noddy rides that were there. Noddy was a favourite of his at the time though, if I was to mention this to him now he would no doubt cringe with embarrassment. We had only gone there as day visitors and I remember thinking on what was a practically hot scorching August day as we saw families laughing and smiling on their way to the pool. How I wish that we had book ourselves into Butlin's, as everyones faces were a picture of happiness , the day was magical and no request was to big or to small for the Butlins staff. 

My husband is from a large family, he is the youngest of seven children ( he 's now 43 but don't tell I told you his age !) , six boys and one girl so his parents had a very busy time with that large brood and when they took their holidays their place of choice was Butlin's . The reason for this was cost and satisfaction guaranteed,and with a great variety of activities no one was ever bored.

Butlin's Skegness in the 1960s.

Four of my husbands siblings at Butlin's Skegness.

Husbands twin brothers at Butlin's!

Ballroom dancing at Butlin's Skegness 1960s.

Dancing competition at Butlin's Skegness 1960s with a fairground in the background.
Butlin's Skegness accomodation 1960s.

My husbands late mother at Skegness Butlin's.

In those days there such competitions as lovely legs! but nowadays the competitions are much more suitable! 

The range of activities at Butlin's these days is mind blowing there's nothing that you can not do there , from live entertainment. a traditional fairground and even luxury spa treatments. Butlin's really does, span the generations from young to old everyone will feel right at home. Unlike the 1960s the traditional fairground is now a permanent feature.

There is a choice of accommodation to meet peoples different tastes from comfy rooms, well equipped apartments or one of their contemporary hotels.

So you see the Butlin's aim is still the same as it was all those years ago in the Billy Butlins era to make sure you get your sparkle back as a family.

Disclosure Sponsered post I was not told what to write, all thoughts words and opinions are my own.

Monday 17 June 2013

Magpie Monday The Cake edition

Today was an inset today and I needed to  relax, rest and unwind still after an arduous week emotions can take you prisoner if you let them and people can and will take what you say out of context  . THE ANSWER ( sorry bit shouty  there ) the answer is cake . I took the bus into town where I went to Costa to use a gift card I had won and had a healthy sandwich and a latte and watched the world go by.

I had tried earlier in the week to use my Costa gift card at the local cinema where obviously there is a Costa only to be told it was a franchise Costa and not a real Costa Coffee. SO  they had Costa uniforms, sold Costa Coffee and had humongous signs that said "Costa Coffee" ... Oh well.

I mooched around town dipping into the charity shops as I do I was just beaten to some antique type scales by a Norwegian lady ... darn. But I managed to pick up an old style mincer the type that "Grandma" used to have and reminiscent of the times I remember when she was making Cornish pasties though if you wanted her to make you some ( you had to buy your own mince ) she was a mad as a box of frogs mind .

I then after buying some glass chopping boards(cupcake designs) which were half price at £4.99 from the local posh store Bennett's think Grace Brothers from "Are you being served?" and you are not half wrong. I then went for a cup of tea and cake at the Cathedral tea room that serve their tea is real bone china and again a slice of cake and pot of tea will set you back around £4.30.

Thinking I hadn't got anything in for tea I headed for good old M & S or as my mum used to call it Marks and Sparkles. The £10 meal deal was on and I picked chicken breast , potato croquettes and some millionaire desserts, also a Strawberry cake that had 25 % off just happen to leapt into my basket!

With the meal deal comes a choice of wine either alcoholic or non alcoholic but there was only a angry looking red on the rack ( one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse of bad  wines) I spotted another customer stalking an M & S employee who was after a better bottle of plonk ( for the want of a better phrase) So I joined in the stalking the M & S employee who was called John 20 minutes later after John had gone through the good wine selection I came away with a nice peachy number by that I mean a bottle of wine and not the M & S employee. I said that a cakes had happen to fall into my basket to which he said" There is always a need for cake"

I agree .. don't you

The cake was £3.74

Disclosure ( I am not to blame for any calories you intake after reading this blog post )

Saturday 15 June 2013

My Field of Dreams

Its a tenuous link at best but I love the iconic film the "Field of Dreams" if you haven't seen it then you must , feeling somewhat blue this week and by Thursday /Friday I was ready to implode . What pulls me back from the brink is family, friends and views like this .

Its the first time in ages I have joined in with project 365 ( i was feeling guilty for not doing so , and I realised that in taking part it gives me a focus in my week ) I take pictures naturally anyway . I don't always have a plan of what I doing it is often a flight of fantasy.

For these pictures I hijacked my husband Nikon DS3100 and the second picture down is using the camera on manual. I have ordered a camera for Fathers day for myself  husband funny that isn't its just what he I wanted.

Red Poppies in a field

Panic on the streets of London I 'm Going To Britmums Live

Next week I shall be heading to Britmums :

Claire with an I and e and I have a funny surname that makes me sound like a whispers (pawn star)
Well that's a bit of a daft question but you won't forget my blog name of Life, Ninja Killer Cat and Everything Else

Silver Tabby cat looking out a window

Twitter ID:
5'7' I don't wear heels and if I try go get into heigh heels I go all wibbly wobbly.
Brown ish, reddish,greyish what ever the colour of that dye bottle in the bin is......

Normally tired as I don't sleep as I panic , I panic about panicking so I look like a crazed zombie. But if I have had my beauty sleep they are brown pools you could drown in.....
Is this your first blogging conference?
No I came last year as I win tickets to Britmums 2012 ..
Are you attending both days?
Of course last year I was later because I had to work but this year I have the day off so I will be there for the start unless I get lost again , that is very likely.
What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live 2013?
I am looking to catching up with twitter and blogging friends old and new , I mean old only in the sense of length of time no reference to a ladies or gentleman s age.
What are you wearing?
Nothing .. 
No don't panic I have a special top in wait for Friday .
Perhaps this ring...

What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live 2013?
Meeting up with my friends , discovering new skills and gaining some confidance , I'll still get shy and cry at myself and at the speeches , especially when there is  dedication to Kerry from Multiple Mummy.
Tell us one thing about you that not everyone knows:
I have a fear of sliced cheese in sandwiches . No fears in this one as this cheese is melted ..phew 

I'm linking up to with the Britmums linky.

Sunday 9 June 2013

Stuffed Peppers

This is an easy way to cooked stuffed peppers packed with beef or is this case Richmond meat balls , roasted veggies, passata and melted cheese , quite simply delicious.

2 red ,orange or green peppers
375g/12 oz lean beef mince/ 1 packet of Richmond meatballs.
15ml/1tbsp olive oil
1/2 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic loves, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped 
250g/9 oz antipasti prepared roasted
200ml/7floz tomato passata
15ml/1tsp dried oregano
Salt and freshly milled black pepper, to taste
50g/2oz grated reduced -fat cheese
Fresh thyme springs, to garnish
Adjust recipe to suit taste

Preheat the oven to 200c/400F/gas mark 6

Cut the peppers in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds and in a baking tray, drizzle with the oil and roast for 15 -20 mins.

Meanwhile, heat a large non -stick frying pan and dry fry the mince with the onion and garlic for 3-4 mins, until the mince is brown, breaking up any lumps with the back of a spoon.

(Though I at this point crushed up 10 Richmond meatballs)

If cooking with the beef mince drain any excess meat juices from the pan and transfer to a large bowl.

At this pointed add the roasted prepared vegetables, passata, celery, oregano and seasoning to either the beef mince or in my case the crushed Richmond meatballs.

Remove the peppers from the oven using oven gloves, add the filing , cover with foil and continue to cook in the oven for a further 10 mins.

Sprinkle over the cheese and return to the oven fir a further 5mins or until the cheese melts. Garnish with the thyme leaves and serve immediately.

And as my son doesn't like peppers I made him spaghetti and meatballs with the remaining passata mixture and just added some cooked spaghetti.

 This enabled me to adapt one product into 2 meals making this dinner time a real family occasion.

Disclosure (I was sent a voucher for the Richmond meatballs the recipe is my own which I have adapted for the meatballs. I have not been told what to write and all thoughts, words and opinions are my own)

This post is an entry for Britmums’ Hungry to Happy Challenge sponsored by Richmond Mini Meatballs.

Thursday 6 June 2013

Women on Banknotes

They say as a blogger to never never work with animals, children or banknotes that of course if a complete lie. What defines us as human beings are many things , no one thing or aspect of our personality can really define us. One thing that does help shape our character is our school days, the halcyon days of our lives for the most part.

The first school I went to was Livingstone named I presume after the Victorian explorer Dr Livingstone  , I was then moved onto another school which was called Edith Cavell a name which at 5 or 6 meant nothing to me at the time. The history was drilled into as is obligatory in the education of the 1980s, along side my memories of having to wear a school tie and wash the recorders in Milton fluid.

Are you aware that  Edith Cavell was in fact a very brave and courageous lady who as well as being a nurse helped smuggle allied soldiers out of Belgium and was executed by the Germans for doing so. And this ladies name became the name of the school where I attended we were saturated with the history , well it worked didn't it as I am telling you now!

Edith Cavell Image credit Wikipedia

 I became aware of that women were not going to be on banknotes at a bloggers conference 'Cybher' who to put on a banknote that is of a notable character and has made an impact on society mmm a tough choice. 

Then there those ladies who worked with my Grandad in a secret capcity be it from the cabinet war room to Bletchley park meaning they there are the unsung lady heroines of whom you don't see a face.

Politics and femist issues is something I usually stir away from but today I dip my little toe in the water and then politely run away.

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Oxo Good Grips French Press Carafe

For those days I wish to languish in my garden with a pot of coffee the then the Oxo Good Grips French Press is just the idea, whilst I am not on a Parisian boulevard it is relaxing none the less. The OXO Good Grips French Press carafe takes the strain out of those brewed coffee grounds with an innovative ladle that catches the brewed coffee grounds and removes them in one easy step. Sturdy stainless steel housing contains a traditional glass carafe to ensure a pure brewing and serving experience.

The coffee I used was Dowe Egberts and it was "Morning Americano" which just suited my vibrant tastes it's bursting with flavour and it packs a zing. Ideal for those who crave a more lively coffee experience. Morning Americano is as jack my cat thought (the one cat bombing the third photo) is the "purrfect" coffee to give you a boost.

The Oxo Good Grips French Press usually retails at a suggested rrp off £34.99 but if you hurry at the moment Selfridges has this very one for only £10 it does say its low stock so get a wriggle on if you to want to inject that Parsian lifestyle into your lives too.

Disclosure ( I was sent the Oxo Good Grips French Press and Dowe Egberts coffee for review my opinion and my words are my own and I am influenced in any way)

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Secret smile

Ever tried a "secret smile " you know that enigmatic Monarch Lisa smile I like to think of it as smile bombing. You'll get those who think that you are weird and just shuffle away, those who ignore you and retreat back in their own little world.

Try next time you are out "smile bombing" not every one will smile back and there will be those who are sad for personal reasons  and this is wear you can try a understanding smile. Life is also too short to worry about nasty people and what they are doing with their life some people are just too short sighted so just move on and think "that's their problem "so don't let it be yours!

Live life and live it to the full I ' ve just spent a few days in London and I smile bombed people . I also noticed when I looked glum, people smile bombed me. In particular there was this one chap on the tube whose smiled just cheered me up when I was feeling glum for no particular reason , though travelling on the tube does that as its hot,and the hustle and the bustle gets to me.

Mr Happy ( Mr Men)

And look I have a very happy umbrella full of Mr Men and little Misses !

Smile and the world smiles with you ....

Monday 3 June 2013

Plenty of ideas : Plenty Kitchen Towel

The humble kitchen towel is a martyr to many a domestic situation from cleaning up kitchen spills, getting the paw prints of the cat flap to cleaning put the microwave when you've not been watching your soup.

But did you know it is SO much more than that, it is essential in craft projects and science experiments. I used it in my very own craft project which you can read all about here.

Juan Sheet is the star of the show , I've not met him but my good friend Jane Willis who blogs at Onions and Paper  . I think she was rather taken with him and blogged about her meeting with the very dapper gentleman and hearts were a flutter that day !

Plenty kitchen roll is more like a cloth than a paper kitchen towel and and such lasts a a very long time.
When the kitchen towel arrived it arrived with a box of shopping , I am sorry I haven't got a picture to show you but with a rugby mad son chocolate was on his radar that day to aid his recovery. Also I was able to do a slow cooker pasta dish ready for when we got back from a long hard day at a rugby festival. And of course I used my Plenty kitchen towel to clean up any spillages which is obligatory when serving up a tomato pasta sauce!

I shall be adding Plenty Kitchen towel to my shopping list  as it our performed any kitchen towel I had previously used also I think perhaps Jane might like me to add Juan Sheet to the list too!

Disclosure ( I was sent the Plenty kitchen roll and a box of shopping all thoughts, words and opinions are my own . I was not told what to write about )

Photo used with permission from Jane Willis at Janesgrapevine.

Saturday 1 June 2013

Kobo Mini Reader Inspect-A-Gadget

Faced with a long journey I was pleased when the opportunity arose to review the Kobo mini reader thanks to Money Supermarket.

Kobo mini reader is small compact is as it's names suggests a reading device as as previously mentioned I had to take a long journey of four hours on the coach. At first I ignored thesimple instructions of loading the books on to the mini reader , I did at one point have to enlist the help of my husband as I was getting cross with the device. This was my fault as I had it been bothered to read the bluntly simple instructions usually it's the other way around and my husband doesn't read the instructions (man with screwdriver is a powerful combination)

And then when there were breaks at a conference I could quickly whip out my Kobo mini reader and lose myself in the realms and reams of fiction.

So much easier than me taking the book with me as I 'd have to fight the cat for it!!

The price of the Kobo reader is £49.99 and it's available in either in black or white though if you shrewd you can find it around ten pound cheaper of an shopping Internet site. This would allow you to buy a snazzy leather case for it .

Disclosure (I was sent £50 to purchase this for review all thoughts, words and opinions are my own )

Chic to Chic

Chic is not thrust up you it just appears I am finding it just crept up on me ,appearing one day,one persons chic is another persons Magino line and it's quite simply a line than cannot be crossed.

But who cannot fail to love Homebarns instant transformation of simple objects, finding inspiration in your home needn't be hard.

Old children's letter blocks and abacus invite intrigue and makes you want to be tactile with the objects, after all objects shouldn't just be for looking at. With letter blocks there is a living visual history and it's Important to pass on such knowledge and appreciation of objects.

I love the beauty and romance of the written word , people hearts and souls went into writing a postcard trying to capture a moment in time.

Practical objects such as reels of cotton can offer instant colour to your home and encourage your to build upon that theme.

The underground is a under used resource ( see what I did there)  the colours just leap out at you.

I even found Underground style at the YMCA where I stayed for one night proving that budget accommodation doesn't have to lack on style.