Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas begins right now!

A few days ago I had to take my daughter to the dentist in Dublin. After a 10 minute review with the consultant we were free for the rest of the morning.

Free! In Dublin! At Christmas! It's been a long time.

We snooped around some shops, bought some decorations

 took in the Christmas lights, watched the buskers entertaining the busy crowds...

And then stumbled on a miniture 'Christmas Streets' exhibition in Bewleys Theatre on Grafton Street.

Kaya was mesmerised and didn't want to leave.

Spot the giant?

And again..

We finished with Pizza on a little Italian that looked perfect until I noticed the bottles of olive oil on the table. I mean - if you're going to buy your oil in Lidl at least have the decency to decant it!

She didn't seem to mind though.

So that's our Christmas started. Will opening December 1st on the advent calendar mark the start of yours?

Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm a Celebrity. . .

No not really. 
However I have been tagged by the lovely Kate who blogs at Kate on Thin Ice for the 'I'm a Celebrity 10 Question Quiz', so it would be rude not to take part. 
Here we go:
1. What one thing about being a parent makes you scream “Get me out of here!”
The noise - especially if it involves fighting which ends with 'Muuuuuuuum!'
2. What skills, if any, do you have that would be useful in the jungle?
Erm...clearly it's taking me too long to think of anything so I would have to say nothing - I would be the stone around the other celebrities necks (now there's a thought...)
3. How are you likely to annoy people if you were stuck with them for 3 weeks?
Ask my husband. No in fact don't. I have no annoying habits. Honest.
4. What is the worst thing you have ever eaten?
Dog food. When I was about 10 my 'friend' dared me to try it, when I declined she asked if I'd do it if she did. Ever the forthright individual I agreed. She dipped her finger in, (unbeknownst to me) switched fingers and licked her (clean) finger clean. I wasn't so cunning. Gag.
5. What luxury item would you take into the jungle with you?
6. What is the most daring thing you have ever done?
A skydive. Or heading to Australia to go backpacking on my own.
7. Who would you miss most if you went into the jungle with a bunch of strangers?
Kids obv. 
8. What celebrity alive or dead would you like to have with you in the jungle?
Jesus. He turned the water into wine.
9. What would scare you about being in the jungle?
10. After leaving the jungle, you go to a luxury hotel. What would be the first thing you did on reaching your hotel?
Shower and then slip into those clean white cotton sheets and order room service. 
11th mission should you choose to accept it is to tell us why the person who tagged you is a star. (For the uninitiated, stars play a big party in the television programme)
Kate is a star because she's on an important journey. She's blogging about it honestly and openly and she's inspiring and being inspired by others. Plus she's starting to believe in herself which is pretty awesome. Plus she joins in with my Listographies. Plus she's called Kate.
Here endeth my celebrity moment.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Listography - Cartoon Characters from your youth

I was up at 3am or 5am or some other ungodly hour last week with a sick 3 year old and found myself watching Hong Kong Phooey.

Hong Kong Phooey!! Can you believe it?
Image: Screen Rant
Famous in the 70's for his high kicks and alter ego of a mild mannered janitor, Hong Kong Phooey has to rate as one of my Top 5 Cartoon Characters.

Now who can remember the theme tune?

2. Top Cat

To be fair it was actually Benny the little blue guy that was my favourite, but Top Cat has a special place in my heart, and after all it was his show.

3. Bod
I LOVED Bod. Looking at the small bald guy now I kidda wonder why. Did he even speak? I can't really remember too much about him but a quick check of Wiki gives the following mind nudge:
The character of Bod is a boy who lives in a town with Aunt Flo, PC Copper, Frank the Postman and Farmer Barleymow. Each of the characters have their own theme music performed by Griffiths which is heard when they appear.
Clearly I was a lot easier to please back then.

4. Mr. Benn
And as if by magic....
Image: Stuff and Nonsense
Doesn't really need an explanation does it?

5. Ivor the Engine
This was a real toss up between Ivor and Dillon from Magic Roundabout. Obviously my attraction to stoned out individuals started early. Ivor pipped him to the post though simply for nostalgic reasons - those remastered Magic Roundabout episodes kind of ruined it for me.

So that's my Top 5 Cartoon Characters from my youth. What are yours? To join in write your post on your own blog and then come back to linky up below. Hopefully I haven't scared you off with my ancient choices...

Friday, November 25, 2011


Everything in my world is breaking.

First it was my car, then it was my phone (which I inadvertently dropped down the loo. No questions please).

When I mentioned my misfortune on Twitter someone told me to watch out as these things usually happen in threes. 

'As if' I harrumphed, 'I could be that unlucky'.

Cue burning toast from toaster that now no longer pops up.

Looking around the house I realise it's more than just these three things though. The downstairs toilet is blocked so every time one of the kids goes to the loo I have to shout 'NO POOS!!' at the top of my voice. 

Then there's the kettle whose lid won't open, the iPod docking station that won't play iPods, and the home phone that hasn't worked for about two months.

Sadly I'm resigned to the fact that eventually all these items will be thrown out to make way for ill afforded replacements, but that’s the 'throw away' society we live in for you. The problem really is that I don't know anybody who actually fixes this type of thing nowadays - and if they do how do you find them?

Fortunately domesticappliance repair services are considerably easier to source, but wouldn’t it be great if people started fixing stuff again? It seems to be a lost art, a dying role - I wonder if that's our fault and whether the ‘recession’ will bring back some of these skills.

Silver lining?

Disclosure: There is a sponsored link in this post, bet you can't spot it.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What did he say?

So, after a steady decline my poor 10 year old car (which in car years is officially 70) finally died at the weekend.


How would I do the school runs, the shopping, the kids swimming classes and get to the doctors? And that was only Monday and Tuesday...

Not my car. Image from Daily Grindstone

Fortunately I live near family and my very generous brother offered me his car for a few days whilst we sorted ourselves out. It's bigger and better than my old car so naturally the kids were delighted. Especially the three year old.

Since then he keeps telling me, and everyone he meets, all about it. 'Swap car Mummy, swap car' he says in his very best speech.

Unfortunately his best speech is somewhat stunted so what he in fact says is very clearly 'Fuck car Mummy, fuck car'.

Hmm, sounds like Mummy has been partaking in some very inappropriate road rage doesn't it?

Monday, November 21, 2011

When does a niche become a pigeon hole?

When I first started blogging just over a year ago I quickly got addicted and furiously read up on every possible Tips and Tricks list and all sorts of 'How to' articles.

There were lots of experts saying lots of different things and my mind began to melt a little.

However the one thing all the experts seemed to agree on was the importance of 'finding your niche'.

I went to bed scrolling through ideas in my head for what would make me stand out from the crowd, what would  be my USP, what would I be the 'go-to' blog for?

Sadly I didn't come up with anything original so just kept writing whatever came into my head and trying to make it somewhat amusing.

And then suddenly, a year down the line, I realised that I already had my niche - short, witty, unchallenging posts that readers could devour in a couple of minutes before moving on to something a little more weighty, a little more emotional, a little more important.

And that was fine.

Sort of.

But then I started thinking...what happens when I want to write something weighty, or emotional, or important? What would my readers think then? If people came to my blog looking for amusing anecdotes about pubes in the soap dish and instead found an essay about the importance of young girls having strong female role models - would they run screaming for the hills never to return?

So I thought I'd ask you.

Would you?

And what about other bloggers - do you have a niche? And do you think it's become your pigeon hole? And wouldn't you like to break free every so often?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Listography - Top 5 Gadgets, plus Competition Time!

This weeks Listography is all about gadgets. 

But before we get started - what exactly  is a gadget? defines a gadget as: 

1. a small mechanical device or appliance
2. any object that is interesting for its ingenuity or novelty rather than for its practical use

Stephen Fry recently listed his Top 100 gadgets for Channel 4. He started with a karaoke machine and ended with a firelighter. Really Stephen? Really?  A karaoke machine?

Well I think we can do better than that. So get your thinking caps on (now there's a gadget) and get your list of Top 5 Gadgets Ever written so that you can come back here and linky up.

Here's mine:

1. Washing machine.
I know - such a middle-aged housewife's choice. But without it I'd me nothing more than a middle aged housewife at least the beloved washing machine allows us to leave the house.

2. Computer \ Laptop
Doesn't really need an explanation does it?

3. Hair dryer
Stops me looking like this:

Photo: Pickledtink

4. Music player
Whether it's the record \ record player, tape \ tape player, cd \ cd player, iPod or whatever comes next bring music to the people has to be on the list.
Image: Entertainment Buddha

5.  Camera
How else would I remember things?

Image: DeCamile

Ok so mine may not be the best in the world ever but personally speaking they are so don' t be dissing my list. 

Now all you need to do is write you Top 5 Gadgets list and come back here to put your details in the linky below and visit some of the other entries.

And whether you choose to take part in this weeks Listography or not you can still enter the competition! The lovely people at iLuv UK are putting together a Christmas Travel Bundle for one lucky winner. 
The bundle includes:

  •         2 x Foam-Padded Neoprene Sleeves for iPad. 
  • ·         1 x iEP314 Earphones with flat wire. Ergonomic sound isolating design. 
  • ·         1 x iAD217ITL International Triple USB Power Adapter Pack for iPhone or iPod. Triple USB ports to charge up to three devices at once. Charges your iPhone / iPod or any other USB devices with AC adapter.
  • ·         1 x iCB107 5-way Splitter for iPad or iPod. With remote and volume control. Connect up to 5 headphones to your iPad or iPod.
  • ·         1 x iCC796BLK In-Car Windshield Mounted Charging Kit. Charge Smartphones and any other USB devices. Rotating bracket and adjustable neck for easy viewing. Perfect for GPS applications and hands-free navigation while driving. 

Some of the devices on offer: iphone not included!

To enter simply follow iluv on Twitter and then send the following tweet: ‘I’ve entered @katetakes5 #listography competition to win a Christmas Travel Bundle from @UK_iLuv.’

Not on Twitter? Then leave me a comment to say that you've joined their Facebook page instead

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Where do you do it?

I've been tagged by Middle-aged Matron in the 'Where do you do it?' meme. 

If you haven't come across her wonderful blog before you're in for a treat. Head on over to her for a read through of her latest antics - I promise you won't be disappointed - unless you don't like talk of wanking bishops that is. 

Aaaanyway, this meme asks bloggers to show where they do all their blogging business from, so without further ado here's mine special spot:

It used to be the sofa so I'm rather pleased with my new place. Makes me feel all important.

If you'd like to join in feel free - post a picture of where you like to do it linky up!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Gallery 11:11:11

The Gallery prompt from Sticky Fingers this week was a date. 11:11:11. Tara wanted us to mark the lovely date by taking a photo from that day and then putting them together in one big Gallery of 11:11:11 moments.

I had high aspirations for my picture, a flower blooming perhaps - marking the unusual warmth of November 2011, my children frolicking in the autumn leaves maybe, or a newspaper showing the big story of the day...

Unfortunately I have this instead:

A picture which sums up a week of sickness and broken nights sleep.

Oh well, I promise to do better on 12:12:12.

Now pop over to Sticky Fingers and check out some much better offerings, or join in yourself - there's £100 voucher up for grabs from Netmums you know?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I've run away from home....(back soon)

Last week I was reminded of the time when my little sister was about nine and ran away from home after a fight with mum. She left a note saying 'I've run away from home. Back soon.'

You see after writing about my crack up on Friday I had felt like leaving a similar note. The only things that stopped me was 1. two out of three of my kids can't read and 2. the toaster wasn't working so they couldn't make their own meals.

Even so...

Of course I didn't run away. Well not immediately anyway. I waited until their Dad came home and then did what any self respecting mother of three would do. I ran home to my Mum.

40 hours of bed rest, hot baths, meals brought to me on pretty trays, cups of tea and hot toddies and my soul had sufficiently healed to return to the fray.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Listography - Top 5 Randoms

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This weeks Listography is simple but with a very wide scope- Top 5 Random Things I like.

Just one word of warning though - random is not 'I like chocolate' - that's just not going to cut it round here. However 'I like chocolate sauce with my chips' is getting a bit warmer.

My own Top 5 Randoms are:

1. Swimming in the rain.

2. The smell of petrol.

3. Bacon sandwiches with mustard. Yes that's right - I said mustard!

4. Not talking to anyone but myself for 24 hours.

5. The plip plop of two Solpadine hitting the water. 'Hope in a glass' as my sister says.

To join in and list your Top 5 random things you like simply write your post on your own blog and then come back here and linky up below, and don't forget to visit some other randoms on the list. Easy peasy.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Top 5 Toys for Christmas (as voted by Parent Bloggers)

A couple of weeks ago I ran this Listography to get Parent Bloggers to vote for their Top 5 Toys of all time.

Toys that your children have loved and looked after, toys that would go the distance and not be consigned to the post-Christmas scrap heap by 26th December.
Image: Pams Clipart

Thanks to all of you who voted on your blogs and on Twitter. Over 80 toys got a mention altogether, but the clear winners are listed below. These are the toys that us Parent Bloggers are happy to stand over and say 'go ahead -spend your hard earned pennies on them, you won't regret it'.

So ignore all the faddy 'Top Toys for Christmas' lists and go with these instead. Tried and tested by Parents rather than compiled by Marketers:

1. Lego
Far and away the winner here was Lego. It's not hard to understand why, generations have played with it and loved it, built castles and fortresses, cars and boats, kept it in attics, passed it on, passed it down, and ok, maybe cursed it once or twice having trodden on it in the middle of the night in bare feet. But that's ok Lego - we forgive you!

2. Bike \ Scooter
These two are grouped together because a number of you voted for them as one. So if your little lad already has a scooter it might be time for Father Christmas to splash out on a bike this year...

3. Dolls \ Dolls Accessories.
Barbies, Sindys, Baby Annabelle, prams, cots - they all featured highly on your lists. If there's one thing a little girl loves it's pretending to be Mummy, (and speaking from experience if there's one thing a little boy likes it's mowing people down with his sisters dolls pram).

4. Dolls House \ Train Track
Ranking in joint forth place it's a Dolls House for the girls and a Train Track for the boys. Those two are classics for a good reason.

5. Board Games
In fifth place we have Board Games which ranked just one vote higher than the highest ranking electronic game on the list - the Nintendo DS. Perhaps that's just us getting all nostalgic but I think encouraging 'family games night' rather than 'play-alone DS night' can only be a good thing (plus just think of the cost!!)

So there you have it, the Top Toys for Christmas as voted by Parent Bloggers. Happy shopping everyone!

(The list was originally going to be a Top 10 but so many toys ranked equally lower down the list that I just took the clear favourites instead). 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Crack Up

It's finally happened.

After 5 out of 6 days of lone parenting, of nights filled with coughing and sick bowls, of 'Mum, he's wrecking my game', of 'Mum, he threw a car at my head', of 'Wah, he bit me' of 'Mummy, poo-poo, in pants' of 'Ew is that dinner?' of lost shoes, of endless washing up, of naughty steps, tantrums, meltdowns, smacked bums, no sleep, headaches and rages, I've finally hit the wall.

Either they go or I do.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Is that a joke?

If there is one thing that tests a mothers patience more than anything else it's getting a 5 year old to understand the concept of a joke.

For some reason they just can't grasp the whole double entendre concept. Like, duh.

'Mum! Mum!'

'Yes darling'

 'Why did the fox go to the woods?

'I don't know, why did the fox go to the woods?'

'Because he was hungry. Is that a joke?'

'No, that's not a joke'.

30 seconds later...

'Mum! Mum! What did the baby say to the Mummy?'

*sigh* 'I don't know what did the baby say to the Mummy?'

'I'm a baby. Is that a joke?'

'No, that's not a joke'

2 minutes later and I'm still reading the same paragraph in the paper for the thirtieth time....

'Mum! Mum! Why did the cow cross the road?

'I don't know why did the cow cross the road?'

'Because he wanted to cross the road. Is that a joke?'

Shoot me now. Please.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Kate Takes on the Skylanders!

A 'Skylanders' Review.

We had a Wii once upon a time. Given to us by my very generous inlaws. We used it and loved it until one day it stopped working. Closer inspection showed that a DVD had been inserted into it (number 1 suspect: Baxter Boy), even closer inspection showed that two DVDs had been inserted into it. Eight DVDs later I was left feeling both intensely annoyed and a tiny bit impressed.

So, our Wiiing days were over.

Until, that is, an email appeared in my mailbox asking whether the family would like to review the new Wii Skylanders game - and the Wii would be supplied to play it on. Yessss - back in the game!

Our shiny new Wii arrived over half-term with a Skylanders Starters Kit which included the game, the 'Portal of Power' and 3 Skylander characters.


As soon as BB was out of the way we set up the game and got to work.


The best thing about the game is that it's so easy to get started with. The older two seemed to automatically know what to do despite never playing anything like it before. There are a number of characters in the different 'worlds' that guide you through what to do and where to go.

Each Skylander has different powers and can enter different worlds. Meet Spyro.


There are 32 Skylander characters to collect. I know that not everyone likes this aspect of the game as it can mean extra costs but I quite like the idea of earning and collecting them. Plus it keeps the game fresh rather than them getting bored with it after playing too much.

Personally I can't really fault the game. 10 \ 10 from me.

And this is what the kids have to say:

(Not being able to fall of the edge is obviously a good thing...)

Skylander Starter Pack retails at approx. £48.99 on Amazon.  Skylander Characters retail at appox. £4.85.

Disclosure: All my own views, etc etc etc. 

Update: 06/12/12
Skylanders are still going strong! Both kids are enthralled by the game and we have been successfully using new characters as bribes for good behaviour. If you're thinking about this as a Christmas gift I'd highly recommend it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Listography - Top 5 Famous Folk I Used To Fancy

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Well we all had them didn't we?

'High School' crushes that we would stick to our Homework Notebooks or cover our bedroom walls with. Some deeply embarrassing, some that have stood the test of time.

This week's Listography is all about owning up to your famous teenage crushes. So here are my Top 5 Famous Folk I Used To Fancy.

1. James Dean
Lets start with the cool one shall we? Well yes of course I knew he was dead but that didn't stop me.  I had the posters, the pictures, I even a James Dean pocket watch for Godsake!
James Dean. Still Gorgeous

2. Michael J Fox
Hmm. *puzzled face*

MJF as Marty McFly
I think it began with Family Ties and moved on with full force once Back to the Future came along. My friends and I used to pour over each others sticker albums jealously coveting the ones we hadn't yet got.

What the hell was that all about?

3. Mark Owen.
Well come on now - who could have known that it would be Gary that stole the Take That crown?
Photo Credit: Last FM
(And yes I may have moved on from the 'teenage' stage by this time...)

4. Matt Dillon
Rumble Fish, The Outsiders, Drugstore Cowboy, Singles - there was just something about Matt.

Matt Dillon
Pic Courtesy of Quicheisinsane Flicker stream

5. River Phoenix

Now look back through the list and spot the odd one out!

If you'd like to join in with this week's Listography it's very simple. Just write a post on your own blog and then come back here and add your post's url to the linky below. Then pop over to a few of the other entries and have a good snigger at someone else's expense.


Friday, November 4, 2011

5 Reasons Why My Kids Need Their Dad

This morning as we waved him off for his weekend away I was reminded how important my children's father is to them. Here's why:

1. When they are sick he doesn't run around the house grabbing bottles of medicine and inhalers whilst frantically thinking 'they are going to die, they are going to die, they are going to die'. He calmly deals with the situation and they are all the better for it.

2. He does all the 'pop to the shops' runs in the rain for all the necessities - milk for bottles, bread for breakfast, wine for Mummy...(well they do say a happy Mum equals happy kids).

3. When he picks them up they get to see a proper view of the world - all 6ft 2" above it (rather then a squat 5ft2" view when I do it. They might as well just stand on tiptoes).

4. When he takes just one of them out on their own for special 'Daddy Days' it makes them feel like the most important person in the world.

5. He throws them in the air, pushes them over, wrestles with them and plays rough and tumble while I dance around on the sidelines going 'ooo, ooo not too hard, careful now, mind the table, oh I can't look'.

Only two more sleeps 'til they get him back.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'd rather be gay than a redneck.

I've been meaning to write this post for some time. 

Ever since I saw this Foo Fighters YouTube video in fact. The band had heard that members of a local Baptist Church in Westboro Kansas, where they were due to play a gig, were planning a protest due to the bands teaching of "fornication, adultery, idolatry and fags."

So the band paid them a little visit....

As you can see from their wonderful array of posters these guys have issues with gay people. Choosing a favourite from the frankly mind boggling display of placards is tricky but I'd have to go for either the rather clear and concise 'YOU'RE GOING TO HELL' to the rather bizarre 'THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS' (where they are going with that one is anyone's guess).

Of course these protesters aren't just rednecks, oh no, they are Christian Fundamentalist Rednecks. Which is a whole different ball game. To my mind they may be Rednecks and they may be Fundamentalists but they sure as hell aint Christians (pun intended thank you very much). You see I think these people are, for want of a better phrase, 'mentally challenged'.

Now they have obviously learned how to walk and talk and jeer and tape big ugly posters to even bigger sticks, but what I would really like to know is how they have managed to convince themselves that by doing this they are 'doing God's work'.

Where is it written in the Bible or in history or in their tiny brains that 'GOD HATES FAGS' and 'FAGS ARE BEASTS'? You see I was brought up a Christian and all I seem to remember is things like 'Love thy neighbour as thy self'. But perhaps my edition of the Bible was missing the 'unless he is gay for then HE IS GOING TO HELL'.

Seeing these type of protests - which believe me aren't just in Kansas - makes me feel an odd mixture of angry, bemused, amused and sick to my stomach.

Anyway, rant over. I've worn myself out and wasted too much energy on these fools but I'll leave you with the fact that today the Westboro Baptist Church have moved on from the Foo Fighters and they will instead by picketing a local funeral 'to remind the living that there is a God.'

Just the kind of people you want to meet in heaven hey?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

T is for The Aphrodisiac Encyclopedia

Courtesy of The Gallery on Sticky Fingers this blog post is brought to you by the letter T. The T that I've chosen is 'The' which coupled together with 'Aphrodisiac' and 'Encyclopedia' ends up as this:

This is not a review by the way. I've been asked to write an article for a paper on the book which, in it's authors words is 'A Compendium of Culinary Come-Ons'. Yikes.

So I'm asking for your help.

I need to road test some of the recipes so I'm leaving my fate and that of my marriage in your hands. Choose one of the T recipes below by leaving a comment and whichever gets the most votes I'll add to my experiment.

Tomato (Bloody Mary)
Truffles (Truffle linguine with savoy cabbage and lardons)
Tuna (with Soba Noodle Salad)
Tulsi Tea(no idea either)

(And let's hope that if Tara chooses U for a future Gallery my contribution won't be 'Up the duff'...)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Listography - Toys

Thanks to everyone who took part in last weeks Top 5 Toys for Christmas Listography.

I've decided to leave it open for one more week so get your posts in and get your vote counted.

Next week I will be compiling the definitive list of Toys for Christmas as voted by Parent Bloggers! If you want to know more you can read the original post here. Otherwise just linky yourself up below.

If you do I'll let you you know what's currently at number 1...

....yes of course it Lego.

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