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Alexander Residence: 01/03/11 - 01/04/11

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Tonight Matthew I am Jamiroquai

It's Friday tommorrow, time for some random linky fun...two linkys for the price of one no less.  Reasons to be Cheerful and Flashback Friday.

I'm grateful for the fun I have had looking through some old photos this week. 

Following on from my Gallery post last week, where me and some school friends payed homage to our indie heros, here I am with a very good friend from Uni paying homage to Jay Kay of Jamiroquai, and Bjork.  As you can see I was a Drama student and took getting into role very seriously.

I'm grateful that my uni friends continue to be a special part of my life.  'Bjork' texted me yesterday in fact.
I'm was also so grateful for the cupcake all the mums got given at playgroup yesterday in honour of Mother's Day.  What an unbelievably lovely gesture.  Talking of which, when I collected them from nursery, G had made me a beautiful daffodil card and L had made a gorgeous clay model of me, with a label she had written herself.
And I am so unbelievably grateful that I have finally submitted my Open University Creative Writing Dipoma assignment.  Late, for the first time ever in my life (I know, swot), but I had a good excuse.  Only two more to go.
Now I would be really grateful for a big G and T.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy with a Heart

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Monday, 28 March 2011

Why Do I Blog...on camera

I have been challenged to video blog.  I had a fabulous day out in London hosted by British Mummy Bloggers the week before last. I met lots of lovely bloggers and found out how American moms have harnessed the power of film.  Now it's our turn apparently.  Yes British Mummy Bloggers are embracing vlogging.  I think this is a really exciting development. 

Or at least I did until I realised my laptop can't take the pace, that mini tripods are at best precarious and that looking vaguely respectable on camera is a real art. Here after more effort than you would imagine from watching this, is my first vlog.

I had lots of fun doing it although I think that will come across even more in the next one, I was slightly zapped of energy after an hour in hair and make up (joke), the technical hurdles and the fourth take.  Great relearning curve for me though and wow how the technology has moved on. If you want to get into vlogging, check out the vlogging group over at British Mummy Bloggers. Or do ask me, because in the words of that government recruitment campaign those who can teach, and all that.

Would you ever vlog?

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Sunday, 27 March 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday


Thursday, 24 March 2011

One Little Word

For a while an idea of working out what on earth my blog is about by asking other people has been floating round my head.  When I taught Media Studies I used a technique with my students - supposedly nicked from marketing - you have to choose just 5 words to define your brand.  Anyway, the idea will have to keep floating because the lovely Mummy from the Heart started a tag on similar lines but with a much lovelier backstory and using just use one word.  Here is how she explains it:

'This got me thinking about an email I received a few years back, one of those circular things that I normally hate but this one I loved and have never forgotten.  It was about the power of positive affirmations and how knowing what positive things others think of you can boost your own self-esteem.  It talked of an inspirational teacher who got all her children to write one positive word down to describe the other children in the class and then they had to hand them in.  The teacher then collated all the positive words for each child into a special sheet for them and handed it to them to read and keep.  They learnt that their peers saw them in ways they had never imagined and it had an immense effect on them.  The story goes that one of them died and a number of them attended the funeral and it was found that they all still had their lists 20 or so years later as they had been really touched by this loving gesture.  Did this really happen?  Who knows, but I love the sentiment of this story and therefore it does not matter to me if it was real. Well, what about if us bloggers and virtual friends did something similar?'

Sounds great to me.  Superamazingmum tagged me, and she's a lady who already has two great words in her name which she certainly lives up to. 

So who to tag? Recently on twitter I have been talking to @mama_andmore @mumrablog @susurem @theboyandme @hazel and blue @lincolnandme @helloitsgemma @honestmummy @marisworld @muddleduck @elsieanderton @scottish_mum @lauraawntym @mum_themadhouse @manicmum @eviegracesmummy

And here is a pile of free tags, go on help yourself, have one, you know you want to join in on this.

So do please leave one (positive) word to describe me, and leave me a link if you want me to come and return the favour. How lovely is this?

 Thank you x

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Achey, Afraid and Absorbed - Reasons to be Cheerful

I ache. That's a good thing.
I've been exercising lots more and it's actually really good to feel my muscles saying hello again.

Feel the fear and do it anyway
Today I have booked to go an an early years storytelling course. For no real reason other than I fancied putting some of my old skills as a drama teacher back into use. It's good to invest in yourself and to challenge yourself.  I'm scared at the thought of performing again, but I know I will love it once I get into it.

Sunshine. Being outdoors. 
There is a part of me that wants to stop all the green shoots growing and tell them I'm not ready to come out of winter, that it's not fair for the garden to be alive when my mum isn't (she died in January). But you can't beat sun on your face, and it's nature's way of coaxing me to keep up. I treated myself to some purple sunglasses today to mark that very thing.

I really love the park, even if my 2yo frightened a 1yo with a scarily overprotective mum.  I walked away calmly and didn't let her bring me down.  We hid in trees, collected daisies and befriended a dog.

We spent this afternoon in the garden, the kids playing in sand and water and eating tea in their 'tent' in the garden.  For the first time in ages they were completely absorbed without me.  I cant tell you how nice that was, for all of us

Hope everyone else has a lovely weekend. Look forward to hearing other people's reasons to be cheerful.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy with a Heart

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My Memory Book

One of my tasks for this month was to help my 4yo daughter create a Memory book about my Mum who died in January.  Luckily her keyworker at pre-school has kicked this off, as it was a job my subconscious kept putting off.  Must find the perfect scrapbook, must print off all the photos and put in order first, must set aside a quiet time.  I am a planner, and its not always a good thing, because sometimes 'planning' slips into terrible procrastination.

Miss L, like Mr A, is much more flexible, woe betide anyone who puts obstacles in the way of them starting a new project immediately.  Miss L told her keyworker she needed to do the memory book there and then.  The introduction she narrated to her keyworker was mind blowing.  Some of the memories weren't altogether memories, they were special things she imagined doing with Gran.  It's really helping her.

Miss L also started a 'remember garden' a patch of the garden where she can plant whatever she likes (sunflower seeds in early february, apple pips, pre cut flowers, lego, pirate treasure), it's decorated with plastic insects because my mum had a lifelong fascination with them.  Again, 'later' was not an option, it had to be done 'now'. 

Grieving alongside a child of Miss L's age has been therapeutic in a way I would never have anticipated.  Getting stuck and procrastination is not possible; a child's grief needs to be tackled head on.  There is also lots of opportunity to be creative.   Last night I started my scrapbook too.  I have accepted there is no order to it, it's a place to stick things in or note things down as I come across them, because the grieving process is a series of random rememberings. 

I started with the homemade gift tags which my Mum put on a bagful of presents she gave me to help me through my first term at university.  The bag was decorated to look like a prescription from the chemist and each gift had special instructions for the kind of circumstances in which I was to open them.  'Feeling stressed?' or 'No money want some fun?' 

Mum was a genius at helping us to manage change, I know how much she would approve of our memory books.
Are you a planner or a do-er?

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Wednesday, 23 March 2011

New Musical Education

This week's theme at The Gallery is Education.  I will never forget my journey of New Musical Education.  Early 1990s.  The Madchester scene was huge... The Charlatans, Ride, Happy Mondays.  Out of Stourbridge came Neds, The Wonder Stuff and PWEI.   I had time to hang out in record shops and music was my life.  Here I am (on the left) with two friends from school in our 'Madchester daze', swotting up:

And here we are recreating one of the many posters that adorned our bedroom walls.  I think we are trying to emulate either Ride or The Charlatans:

And here we are taking ourselves very seriously in a homage to Neds' Atomic Dustbin (I'm on the chair):

As teenage girls are prone to do, our friendship burnt bright, saw us through the heady days of our early teens and then sadly burnt out as we moved on to new friends and boyfriends.  But I will never forget the gigs, the shopping, the poring over the NME, the day dreaming about floppy fringes and the huge presence music had in our lives.  Posted by Picasa


Sunday, 20 March 2011

Silent Sunday

To find out how other people keep their children silent occupy themselves on a Sunday, visit the lovely Mocha Beanie Baby

Silent Sunday

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Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Metal Mummy's Movie Meme

I feel very guilty I haven't taken part in this fab movie linky yet.  Especially being an ex Drama and Film Studies teacher.  But although before children I used to be able to deconstruct films in a jiffy, I am actually not a movie buff.  I also have film induced narcolepsy (self diagnosed, but a condition verfied by discovering fellow sufferers Very Bored in Catalunya and Nickie at Typecast).

This week's theme is Leonardo DiCaprio.  I like that theme alot, because I also can't remember film stars names, so Metal Mummy has made that easy for me.  And as soon as I went to look up his films to jog my memory,  Blood Diamond jumped out at me. 

Behind all those sparkly diamonds is hideous bloodshed, something I became very aware of as I struggled to find conflict free stones for my wedding ring.  This film came out in 2006, shortly after we got married, and is set in Sierra Leonne where civil war rages for control of the diamond fields. Rebels and the government battle with each other for diamonds to pay for more weapons. 

DiCaprio's character is a smuggler, who is diamond hungry and sells weapons to both sides.  I really liked the way as an actor he conveyed all the contradictions in his character.  There's a scene at a beachside bar where Di Caprio meets a journalist trying to expose the trade in conflict diamonds, he tries to justify his involvement to her, makes the complexities of the situation so clear, but it's obvious too he is falling for her.

Blood Diamond Poster

The final events of the film are  based on an actual meeting that led to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which seeks to certify the origin of diamonds in order to curb the trade in conflict diamonds.

 Smuggling, war, love, politics, news, diamonds.  Kept me awake. Literally and politically.

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Listography Top Five sweets

The very sweet Kate Takes 5 has a listography theme of top five sweets this week, which has prompted a trip down memory lane.  My local sweet shop as a child looked nothing like this picture, it was run by a witch with nicotine stained fingers and nails like corkscrews.   We were only allowed to buy from her if the sweets came wrapped.  We snuck in to buy candy cigarettes, but for proper sweets we had to go further afield.  

I still remember the excitement of mum taking me to the newsagents to buy me 2oz of cough candy twists in a little white bag.  They were the first boiled sweest I was allowed, and this sweet shop rite of passage was made even more special because mum took me to the newsagents without my little brother.

I think my dad introduced me to aniseed balls. Many happy hours of turning my tongue red and crunching away to get at the seed in the middle.  Wondering in some Willy Wonka type fantasy whether if I planted it, it would it grow into an aniseed ball tree.

Mum introduced me to sherbet fountains too.  I was always disappointed that the licorice straw didn't quite function as it was supposed to.   I soon discovered sherbet dib dabs did exactly what they said on the packet though. 

My grandparents always had polos around.  I don't know why having a hole makes them better, but it is a piece of genius product design.  A classic sweet. 

The best thing ever as a very little girl was those sweetie necklaces.  Jewellery and sugar,  now you're talking to the thirty three five year old in me.

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The Gallery Trees

Tara wants Trees for this week's The Gallery.  Trees, you have to love them because they have so many possibilities.  The best tree I have ever found is in Ilam, Derbyshire.  A huge beech tree which a whole family can hide under.  Ilam has the most stunning backdrop of colourful trees in Autumn.  But what these photos show is that trees just don't stop giving.  There's den building:

Or our latest favourite, pretend campfire making:

Or the woodworm holed, worn Victorian kitchen table which is inspiring the short story I am writing:

To the pages I am scribbling the story on:

Trees are great.  We need to protect them.

More trees this way:

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Monday, 14 March 2011

After Silent Sunday, More on Monday

Some interesting debate about the Silent Sunday rules yesterday on Twitter.  I like the rules a lot.  One photo.  No words. 

Yesterday lots of words snuck in.  Him up North had two photos, but they were almost seamless in their impact.  I think constraint builds creativity, but I am also a rebel at heart.  So if there's a way to bend the rules I will.

So here is More on Monday, because my son and spaghetti is neither cute nor adorable.  No, he was like a whirlwind on speed on Saturday, when H who is his friend, had her third birthday.  The troughs of spaghetti and jelly were part of her really lovely celebrations.  Here's what happened next as captured by H's Dad.  That's me trying to defend myself, the other guests, the garden from the beginnings of a spaghetti explosion.

It was a really messy fun party activity, a great way to absorb 2 and 3 year olds and enjoyable to go to what seems to be sadly becoming a thing of the past - a children's birthday party at home.  Thankfully other parents kindly pointed out bits of stray spaghetti in my hair over the course of the afternoon.

Here is gorgeous H with her cake, which was a masterpiece.  It's a sheep and from the brilliant book Birthday Cakes for Kids by Annie Rigg and Sandra Lane, a collection of really achievable cakes with a wow factor.  I reckon even I could pull them off, and I have absolutely no patience for cake decorating. 

So More on Monday.  Behind the scenes of Silent Sunday...more pics...more tips...lots of cheating.

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Sunday, 13 March 2011

Silent Sunday

To find out what the substance of other people's weeks looks like, do visit the lovely Mocha Beanie Mummy
Silent Sunday

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Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Listography top five toddler books

The lovely Kate Takes 5 has a irresistable Listography this week.  It's about toddler books, and more to the point, the ones that adults love, because much as I adore books, and reading to my children, sometimes come bedtime I need a pick me up.  I think these are at the older end of the toddler spectrum, although they are never too young to look at the pictures.

1. The Tiger That Came to Tea

The Tiger Who Came to Tea (Collins picture lions)

I just love the surrealness and the flashback to the fifties. On more monotonous days at home with my two I dream of a tiger knocking at our door.

2. Doing the Garden by Sarah Garland
Doing the Garden (Picture Puffin)
Because it comes closest to representing me and my kids. Losing them in the garden centre; precarious balancing of kids, shopping and daft purchases on the old pushchair; cups of tea; over ambitious projects that we only just pull off and causing chaos in public places.

3. Fantastic Daisy Artichoke by Quentin Blake

One of a series of fantastical characters who have Blake's trademark quirkiness. When he is in the mood Mr G and I talk about the pictures lots, when he is climbing the walls the rhymes move along very fast towards bed.  Mr G may not say much but he can say artichoke.

4. The Night Pirates by Peter Harris and Deborah Allwright

‘Down, down,down, the dark dark street they came.’  Lines clearly written to rejuvenate a tired and uninspired parent at the end of the day.  I challenge you to deliver those lines without creating an air of expectation and mystery in your child’s bedroom.  They are like a mantra to me now,  delivering me away from the end of day chaos and into the magical world of the girl night pirates.  Yes, GIRL pirates, fab eh?

5. Take Turns Max and Mille by Felicity Brooks and Desideria Guicciardini

My new favourite.  It's a little didactic, but if I am going to have to spend the next couple of years modelling sharing to someone who is cognitively incapable of it, why not let a book help me?  Writer Felicity Brooks also cleverly recognised that the Little Tykes red car is possibly the most coveted and argued over object at playgroups and preschools across the land.  I like the simplicity and the child's view of the world of sharing.  Sharing occupies lots of parental time but doesn't crop up in books much.

Looking forward to picking up some good reads this week.

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The Gallery - One Word

The theme at The Gallery this week is one word.  It seems like a gift, but it's tricky.  Take a look at this and tell me what word comes to mind...

Stuff? Clutter? Rubbish? Junk? Kids? Life laundry? (that's two!) Memories? (please I am trying to be unsentimental about this stuff).

Today we had a clearout.  Mr A and I attacked the house and took our clutter to the charity shop before we drowned in stuff.  It feels good.   The stuff that was holding us back is gone.  Clearout.  I like that word a lot.

Find some more great words in pictures at The Gallery this week.

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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Relax Kids - Is happiness a skill you can learn?

Who doesn't want their child to sleep well, to be calm, imaginative, creative and confident?  That's what I strive for every single day.  It's what I worry I'm not doing right, or enough.  It's what niggles me most about parenting, that bigger picture of raising fully rounded, happy human beings.

We have been testing a Relax Kids meditation CD and I am really impressed.  I think it's something magical, something simple, something really special.  Relax Kids books and CDs are designed to help children of all ages sleep better, develop imagination, creativity and confidence.  I am really excited about the effect it is having on my two.

Miss L is four so we were given the Superhero Fairytale Meditation CD.  For last month we have put it on after we have finished reading her bedtime stories.  From the most enchanting music emerges the most relaxing, soothing voice, who narrates Miss L into being Aladdin floating on a carpet, to being Jack climbing the beanstalk, to being Peter Pan flying.

Miss L never has any problems falling asleep, but I do think she has seemed much calmer about being in her room at night.  We have gone through the loss of my mum in this time, so there has been more anxiety.  The Superhero CD suited us because it specifically tackles anxiety. 

Miss L has developed hugely in the last month in terms of emotional intelligence and confidence with new situations.  After months of crying about pre-school she suddenly skips happily out of the door.  Her ability to tell stories has developed rapidly and she is continually making up new songs.  I am fascinated that she has made leaps and bounds at a difficult time, when I would have expected her to regress.   The afirmations, relaxation techniques and visualisations used are all proven techniques in encouraging mental and emotional health.

L has her own CD player in her room which she can operate herself.  She has always listened to a classic FM for babies or a story CD at bedtime until now.  Now she chooses Superhero Magical Meditations.  There are also fairytale and princess meditations for this age group, and a more grown up Chill Skills range for 7-11 year olds.  Specific CDs also tackle issues such as hyperactivity, concentration, sleep, self esteem, anxiety, anger, emotions, motivation.

Although younger than the target audience, 2 yo Mr G moved from a cot to a bed in the last month, and was struggling to settle, so we tried the CD a few times.  He settled beautifully listening to it.  He has since given up his lunchtime nap.  I am going to try the CD out with them both at lunchtimes, because I know they need the rest as much as I do.  That or I will curl up and hide myself in Miss L's bed and repeat after the CD:

'It feels good to be calm. I enjoy being peaceful.  I like being silent.' 

I can also see it being great in the car.  Plus I would like to try the 21 day Relax Kids plan to calm the whole family.  On that note, I'm just listening to the Peter Pan track as I type.  I am visualising having just landed in a tree.  Magic stuff.   Now I am spinning and zig zagging over fluffy white clouds.  I am free.  I absolutely love it. 

Check out and listen to a snippet here.

I received a sample copy in exchange for this post.  I only review things that are meaningful to me.

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Monday, 7 March 2011

Do you have a piece of furniture that tells a story?

It always takes a while for a new story idea to germinate, and with my next Open University creative writing assignment due next week, I was starting to fear the blank page.  Then on Friday, as two of my friends and I watched our children playing under my kitchen table, an idea for a short story began to take shape. The children pulled off the wipe clean tablecloth to make a better den, and suddenly the old antique table was naked for the first time in years. 

My friend was quite taken by the table - despite it's lines, scars and dodgy legs - and by the idea that objects have a story.  (I, on the other hand, secretly covet her stylish, modern and hugely practical home).  She began telling me about someone she knew having a table a baby was born on.  Then another story about an antiques dealer who felt so guilty about making money from other people's objects that she gave huge amounts of money to charity.  My fingers were itching for my notebook.

I tried to piece together the story of our table.  We bought it on eBay for £100, I think it's Victorian, it's farmhouse style with a drawer at each end.  The woman who sold it to us was having a baby and felt the cracks in the top, and holes left by woodworm weren't very hygienic. We were child free and I thought it had character (Mr A thought it was totally impractical and has had to take it apart many times to move house).  It belonged to the woman's grandmother, I could see she was sad to part with it, and she emailed me an account of it's history a few days after we took it away.  Why I never printed that email I don't know.

The children playing under it also made me think of people sheltering under the table during the war.  I finally put all the ideas in my notebook on Friday evening, and over the weekend my subconscious has definitely been marinading them.  I have lots of threads which I am playing around with in my notebook this morning.   

I have realised throughout my Creative Writing diploma that to write you have to be like a magpie, daily life is packed full of shiny snippets of stories. My other friend is a nurse in A and E, and she saves me glimpses into her shifts - sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes life affirming - these glimpses have inspired two other pieces of writing.

On another note, while doing some 'research' I found this very similar but longer Victorian table on eBay for £995.  As well as being a good den and a source of inspiration, it was a sound financial  investment too. Shame it's not the most practical table, but hey, you can't have it all.

Do you have a piece of furniture that has a story to tell? I would really love to hear it.

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Saturday, 5 March 2011

Mummy I want to go to the moon and you're not letting me

Photograph  by Jay Mountford

Last month the full moon was amazing.   As I left the hospital after visiting my mum it was waiting for me.  As I set off by car, from the West to the East of the country, it was there with me.  As I stopped on my way to pick up my children from their cousins it waited.  As we drove on it hovered in front of us.  And it captivated 4yo L.

L:              Mummy I want to go to the Moon
Me:           Do you? It's a long long way.
L:              Well I want to go.
Me:           You'll need a spaceship, and it will take years.
L:              I want to go.
Me:           Well maybe you need to go to astronaut school then.
L:              I want to go and L's mum* is going to take me. 
Me:           Is she?
L:              L's mum has been to astronaut school.
Me:           Has she?
L:              Yes!
*L is Miss L's best friend

L:              Mummy I want to go to the moon.
Me:           I know you do.
L:              Mummy I want to go to the moon!
Me:           I know but...
Me:           Mummy I want to go to the moon and you're not letting me!

So it continued, as onwards into the moonlit skies we drove, destined never to arrive at the moon.  She cried and she wailed and she told me it was all my fault.  Eventually thoughts of getting to the moon exhausted her and she joined Mr G in falling asleep. 

Which just left me, and the moon.  As we drove I told him a lot of stuff that night, about me, my mum and about being a mum.  There are some conversations you never want to forget. 

Thanks Cosmicgirlie/Jay for the photo.  Check out her amazing photos via her blog or her baby, children and wedding photography

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Friday, 4 March 2011

A minature garden

Minature worlds have always fascinated me, when I was six or seven I won a cup for a minature garden I made at the Knypersley Village Show.  I think I should have been a Borrower (from the book by Mary Norton).  I wanted to name my children after them, but Mr A wasn't as keen on Arrietty and Pod.  

The effort of looking after lifesize things is just too overwhelming sometimes.  Since we left London and gained a garden I find myself looking out sadly in March, wishing I had planted more bulbs.  However many we plant, it's never quite enough. 

My dad spotted some muscari and daffodil bulbs pre grown in pots, at our local florist, at a bargain price.  I planted them with my 2 and 4yo in this empty pot, the last resting place of a poor plant I neglected last Summer. We added some fir cones that were hanging round after christmas, a fairy and some plastic pigs  A few days later we added a yogurt pot pond and some plasticine fish. 
Fairy garden

Then we went to see Gnomeo and Juliet (which was brilliant fun) and Miss L decided we needed gnomes to stop any birds from eating the fish.  So we added a pair of smurf figures.

It's by our front door which means it's a lovely welcome home.  It's an ongoing challenge as we try to add to the scene each day or so.  And it's a minature garden, so well within my comfort zone.

For more ideas for things to do this weekend visit Thinly Spread, click on the suitcase and off you go.
Thinly Spread

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Thursday, 3 March 2011

Goodbye February, Hello March!

I can't believe it's March already.  My latest blog discovery is I need curtains for the windows in my head.  I have been finding Jules' blog really inspiring.  This week she blogged about her list of things to do this month and reviewed her progress in February.  I love that amongst health and craft project targets she had little achievable, but oh so meaningful things, like wear lipstick twice this month.

So here are mine:
Make my best friend a photo album of my before and after her wedding shots.
Start making a memory box/photo album about my mum, with Miss L.
Catch up with my brother and as many of my friends as I can, during a trip to London.
Pay for a course of yoga, instead of paying as I go, so I can't wriggle out.
Run twice a week
Write a short story for my Open University course. 
Write my after the funeral thank yous
Dye my hair, a bit redder.
Give my nails some TLC (nicking that one from Jules)
Read a novel, or two

I'll be back to check on these in April.  Have you got a list for the month?

So three days in and I have bought hair dye, skipped yoga and been running twice.  I got given a novel yesterday, and I 've read 30 pages of Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach, so that's a nod or two in the right direction.


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Mrs Alexander's Blog of Household Management - Green Washing Powder That Works

I have been coaxed down from my feminist soap box, to give my opinion on washing powder.  I know sisters (and brothers), it's an outrage, but before you click away in disgust, let me make my case.  I once blogged about threatening to leave an evening out, after the conversation turned to washing powder.  Do not fear, washing still symbolises to me, more than all household chores, the tiresome domestic drudgery I 'accidently' inherited on becoming a stay at home mum. 

So why on earth am I reviewing washing powder?  Well, it seems I can just sidestep from my 'feminist' to my 'green' soapbox.  Yes, I have finally found a washing powder that is green, cruelty free and as good, in fact better, and cheaper, than the leading non bio I have reluctantly come to rely on.  If I must put down my pen, laptop or children to do battle with the washing pile, then woe betide any product that doesn't make washing light work, and my conscience cleaner. I give you Simply...
Ok it doesn't look very green, in fact it's very pink, but do you see that little white badge on the right?  That's an EU Eco label.  More about that later. 

I've tried environmentally friendly washing powders.  They've failed to clean.  They've left permanent white marks over black designer shirts. 

I have tested Simply and it is the way forward.  Muddy camping gear?  Clean!  Juice covered jumpers?  Clean! Snot covered bears? Clean!  Bag of spaghetti and chocolate covered clothes we left in the car for a week after the kids had a silly half hour in an Italian restaurant? Pretty clean! (You don't expect miracles do you? Neither do I, but Simply alone removed more than a good soak in a tough stain remover and a wash with our normal brand.)

Simply has been awarded the EU Eco label.  The environmental criteria for this scheme are tough and only the very best products, which are kind to the environment, are entitled to carry it.    Simply is approved by the National Eczema Society and the Vegan Society.  No nasty chemicals or animal ingredients.  My conscience is squeaky.

The lovely thing about it is it doesn't smell overpowering, because who really wants to smell of washing powder?  Forget what the adverts suggest, who really wants to snuggle up with a child coated in chemical fragrance?

Here's the science bit...the tablets dissolve fully in under one minute, whereas normal tablets take seven, yet Simply tablets keep working throughout the wash before rinsing away and completely biodegrading.  No bulking agents to make you think you have a better deal (yes manufacturers really do that).  No risk of ingredients dissolving slowly and staining clothes or hanging around on skin or the environment.

My only gripe would be the packaging (plastic tubs), I would normally buy a cardboard box which seems the greener option to me.  Simply packaging is completely reusable though (great storage tubs) and recyclable. 

It's rare that a green product comes in cheaper.  I did the maths though, and it works out at 11p a wash, even buying huge boxes of loose powder we currently pay 20p a wash. 

Simply is also phosphate free, phosphates allow algae to grow unnaturally fast which can lead to lakes and rivers drying up.  My research suggests most washing powders are phosphate free nowadays, but not all dishwasher tablets are phosphate free.  Simply do dishwasher tablets too. 

Simply is a brand to support brothers and sisters.  For the world, for the children, for the animals.

I'll get off the soap box for now, you can order it via Netmums at a discounted rate, until March 28th.  I will be making the most of that offer.  Also available in most major supermarkets.

Never too young...

I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I am paid an expenses fee to cover my time (and childcare if the fee is big enough!) but Netmums have no editorial control whatsoever about what I blog about. Being a member of the Netmums Blogging Network means that I get to try out products and brands and get my expenses covered but that I retain full editorial integrity.

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