Sunday, 30 June 2013

Easy ways to follow notSupermum


If you've been following notSupermum on Google Reader you probably already know that it will shut down tomorrow, 1st July.  It will be no more... ah well, it was good while it lasted.

But fear not! There are plenty of other ways to follow this blog and others and these are the main options:
  • BlogLovin seems to be taking over where Google Reader left off, and is very popular at the moment. It also imports all the blogs you currently follow on GR which makes it even easier, but you'll have to be quick before GR closes down!
  • There's also Feedly which is similar to GR and Bloglovin and also imports all your favourite GR blogs;
  • Email - you can add your name to the email list and get each new post send directly to your inbox, without the cost of a stamp. Just click on the box over there on the right-hand margin and enter your details >>>
  • Facebook - follow this blog on Facebook and you also get other random stuff that never actually gets onto the blog!
  • And of course you can still subscribe by RSS reader - just click the box at the top of the right-hand margin and enter your details.
I appreciate every visit and comment, so thank you for reading and I hope to see you back again - one way or another!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

The garden in June ~ alliums

The roses are very late this year, and apart from the rambling rose which started flowering last week the only other rose to open is the David Austin old rose variety 'The Mayflower' which has the most gorgeous baby pink petals and a strong, perfumed fragrance. It's a great addition to the garden and there are plenty of buds on there promising plenty of colour.

There's a lot to be said for flowers that still look good when they're past their best, and even though most of the alliums have no colour I still enjoy their spherical beauty.  The back border has recovered well from the severe pruning I did in March, which is a relief! I was worried for a while that I'd been too enthusiastic, but everything appears to be growing back and looking healthy.

Apart from a bit of pruning everyday, I haven't really done any work in the garden this week. I have, however, enjoyed sitting out in it in the evening which is really what all the hard work earlier in the year is all about.









 I'm joining in with the How Does Your Garden Grow linky again over at Mammasaurus' blog, which has fast become a weekly routine. Go and have a look at some of the fabulous gardens also joining in.


Mammasaurus - How Does Your Garden Grow?

Monday, 24 June 2013

How to find the biggest online bargains

{This is a sponsored post}

Online shopping can be a great way to not only find the unique products that you wouldn't find on the high street, but also to acquire these at the lowest possible price. Online retailers benefit from lower overheads than brick and mortar shops, and are often able to pass these savings down to customers. Savvy shoppers can make the most of these bargains and find the best possible deals with a little bit of time and effort, however. From buying gently used products to signing up for cash back sites, there's no shortage of techniques to save even more money!  

Use Price Comparison Websites  
It's perhaps easiest to find a bargain if you know exactly what you're looking for. This allows you to use tools like price comparison sites, like Money Expert, Amazon, Kelkoo, or Google Shopping. You can simply type in the brand name or description and obtain a swift comparison of prices across the web. One thing to bear in mind is that retailers can pay to be listed first on many of these sites, so you'll still want to shop around and use several search engines to find the best deal.  

Search for Online Coupons  
Before making any online purchase, it's worth searching for online coupons first. These give you a code that you can enter in at checkout to receive your discount, which could range from a percentage off to free shipping. There are coupon sites to search, such as couponcabin.com or retailmenot.com. Many of these allow you to subscribe for weekly updates to score the best deals and stock up on household supplies. 

Buy Used  
You may have already seen the ads on TV for Quicksales, or have used eBay in the past. Online marketplaces like these are ideal for discount shopping, offering both used and new products. Gently used items are not only more environmentally friendly; they're also far cheaper. You can save on shipping by using shopping apps from sites like Quicksales.com.au, and stay up to date with the latest discounts by clicking on the Daily Deals from eBay or Amazon to find additional discounts.  

Sign up for "Cash Back" Sites  
Many online retailers offer cash rebates. Sites like ebates.com offer their members cash back on purchases from over 1000 major shops, which could range from 5% to 25% back or more. Cash back usually arrives via cheque or Paypal, but you usually have to register for these sites in order to use them.  

Use Social Media  
Finally, one of the best ways to save money online is to take the time to follow your favourite retailers on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Shops are keen to reward their loyal customers with exclusive discounts, giveaways, or product trials. And if you find that one of your favourite shops is a bit too spam-heavy for your liking, you can always unsubscribe with the click of a button. 

By taking the time to shop around and use the discounts that online shopping provides, you can save a bundle on everything from clothing to your weekly grocery shop. For busy families, the convenience of delivery is worth the price alone! 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Silent Sunday ~ 23/6/13



Preparing for your child's first mobile phone {sponsored}


Choosing the right age to give your child a mobile phone can be complicated, to say the least. Some parents wait until their children are teenagers, while others give a phone as soon as the child begins walking to and from school alone. It's worth looking at the issues from all angles to determine if your child is ready for a phone, and what type of contract will be the most suitable option.

What's the Right Age for a Mobile Phone?
Over half of all 12 year olds now have mobile phones, compared to 18% in 2004. It's now increasingly common for parents to give children their first cellular phone when they enter secondary school, around the age of 11. While kids want to have phones to keep up with their peers and text their friends, parents can also benefit from this arrangement. Many parents wish to buy their child a phone for safety reasons, because this allows you to reach your child at any time. As children start travelling alone to school or after-school activities, a phone allows them to contact parents to notify them of last-minute changes or emergencies. If your child is spending more time away from the home, a mobile phone can provide greater peace of mind. 

Online Safety Issues
Mobile phone technology has come a long way in the past couple of years. While even five years ago a simple mobile phone would simply allow children to call and text their contacts, today's smartphones provide a far wider range of capabilities. Although you may be mainly interested in providing a phone for safety reasons, kids want phones to communicate with their peers. Smartphones allow them to broadcast their location, status, and photos to the world, and download potentially questionable materials that would be restricted on your home computer. For children younger than 13, it may be best to choose a phone without any internet access. There's also software available to monitor your child's phone usage or restrict internet access to approved sites.

Choosing a Starter Phone and Plan
It's important to keep these safety issues in mind when choosing a starter phone for your child. You can choose between feature phones, which allow them to take photos, send texts, and make phone calls; or smart phones which provide unlimited web access.  Another factor to consider is the type of plan to put the new phone on. You could add your child's new mobile to the family plan, or look for pay as you go SIM cards to keep phone expenses within a tighter budget. If you do sign a phone contract, be sure to choose one with replacement insurance and unlimited texting.

For younger children, Lebara pay as you go tariffs can be a good way to keep tabs on spending. Prepaid options also limit internet use, because web access eats through a prepaid amount so quickly. This can help teach your child responsibility by forcing them to pick and choose how and when to use the phone within a set budget.

It's hard to avoid the march to keep up with the latest technology, and in the end choosing a starter mobile phone for your child can make life easier for both of you. 


~ This is a sponsored post ~

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The garden in June ~ a rambling rose, irises and a quince

It's that time of the week again. Time to look at the garden in detail and see what's in bloom. Here goes:

Super excelsa helexa rambling rose

This rambling rose (Super Excelsa helexa) grows along my side of the neighbouring fence and is just starting to flower. This single rose will soon be joined by cascades of others, all small and pink. The clusters of roses look amazing along the fence line and it was one of the best features of the garden last year. 

Iris 'Shirley Pope'

A new addition to the garden, Iris 'Shirley Pope'. I love its gorgeous dusty purple colour.

geranium

The geraniums in the front garden are out in force.

geranium peony euonymous

The geraniums in front of the overgrown euonymous, in front of the magnificent peony which in turn is in front of the bay trees.

Iris siberica 'silver skies'

This Iris siberica 'Silver Skies' is small and petite and has the most delicate lilac petals. I love it.

japanese quince

The Japanese quince is coming to the end of its flowering and the first actual quince has appeared. It's tiny at the moment, but will more than double in size.

flower border

the garden in June

The borders are filling up nicely, and now is the time to sit outside and enjoy the garden, but my head is already full of ideas for next year. The gardener's work is never done...

Join the linky on Mammasaurus' blog to see more gardens in all their colourful splendour.  Oh, and while you're here I mentioned last week about a  gardening competition - you can enter here for a chance to win £100 work of garden tools.

Mammasaurus - How Does Your Garden Grow?

Guest post ~ Five reasons coffee makers rock


~ This is a featured guest post ~

We all know that England’s had more than a little catching up to do when it comes to good coffee. Thankfully, nowadays it can’t be disputed that we are a newborn nation of coffee drinkers and whilst you may still be fumbling for the instant variety every single morning, coffee makers are becoming more and more popular across the country – especially with us mums.

To understand the phenomenon, here are five reasons why coffee makers simply rock.

1. Great taste

First and foremost, the most important thing about coffee is the way it tastes. With a coffee maker, such as a Tassimo from Bosch, you can be sure that every single cup is perfect. The T Discs which you use to make the coffee come in hundreds of strengths and varieties, from rocket-strong espressos to gentler strengths and aromas.

2. They save time

One of the most important things when you’re making your morning coffee is not only than you get the best tasting cup but that also that it’s made quickly. With a coffee maker and its clever on-board technology, this is not a problem.

Coffee makers heat much faster than standard kettles, meaning all you have to do is pop in your T Disc, place your mug underneath, wait a few brief moments and then it’s ready. For mums with little ones to look after, this is convenience and practicality at its best.

3. They look great

Modern coffee machines also look great on the kitchen counter. Their seamless ergonomic design fits nicely into modern kitchens so we mums can enjoy a fresh brew and a stylish kitchen simultaneously. Taking up a minimal amount of space, if you’ve been searching for the ultimate kitchen accessory that is both beautiful and functional then coffee makers could well be what you need.

4. Intelligent brewing

On of the most amazing features of coffee machines is their ability to intelligently brew every single cup of coffee. With Tassimo, the T Disc on the refill is scanned by the machine to calculate the exact amount of water, required temperature and boil time needed to create the perfect cup.


5. They are easy to clean

For any mum, cleaning is one of the biggest chores to try and fit round a hectic schedule. When it comes to cleaning the machine, you’ll be amazed at the ease with which the job can be completed – meaning you get all of the perks of a fresh cup of coffee to start your day without any problems.


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A bully, a turning point and realising I've been an idiot.

Japanese proverb

On Sunday I realised two things.

1. I've been a coward.

2. I've been really, really stupid.

I'm a coward because for over ten years I've enabled someone to bully me. I didn't fight back because I was scared of what they might do and - ridiculously - what people might think. I thought some of the people who'd previously referred to me as a 'strong woman' would look at me differently.  And I was right about that because someone I call a friend already has.

I'm stupid because as crazy as it sounds I thought that by not fighting back I was protecting my daughters.

The truth is, it's had the opposite effect. I should have stopped the bullying years ago, but I didn't.

But on Sunday there was a turning point. Something in me changed and instead of keeping my head down and thinking I didn't have the strength to deal with it alone, I confronted my bully and starting fighting back.  It was incredibly scary, but I did it.

And I'm going to continue to fight back. About time too, right?

Monday, 17 June 2013

In Maria's name ~ time to take action



Fact: two women are killed every week by their current or former partner.

Two women. Every single week. 

That statistic sends shivers down my spine.  How can this still be happening in this day and age?

You may have read about this distressing case recently, the case of Maria Stubbings  who was murdered in 2008 by Mark Chivers – a man already known to the police for killing another woman.The details of the case are very distressing, particularly as she had tried to get protection from the police.

~ Marc Chivers killed Maria just 11 months after being released from prison in Germany for killing a previous girlfriend. He was released from prison in January 2008 without any condition and deported to the UK. Essex police were aware of Marc Chivers' previous conviction for domestic murder.

~ In July 2007 Chivers assaulted Maria and was prosecuted and convicted. Before Chivers release from prison, Essex police disabled an alarm in Maria's home. On his release, no conditions were placed on Chivers and no steps were taken by Essex police to provide protection for Maria.

~ A friend of Maria called the police in early December 2007 to express concern about her but the police took no action.

~ On 11th December 2007 Maria called the police to report that Chivers was 'hanging around' her home and had entered it and stolen items from her handbag. The call was logged as urgent but then downgraded. The case was closed after officers visited Maria's home and got her to sign their notebooks saying she didn't want further action taken, despite the fact that they believed Chivers might be present at the time in Maria's home.

~ On 14th December, a domestic violence officer saw the police log and became concerned about Maria. After a series of ineffective visits, officers finally visited on 19th December with specific orders to search the property and arrest Chivers for burglary. Maria's body was found.

Her family are calling on the Home Secretary to launch a public inquiry into the response of the police and other state agencies to women and children who experience domestic violence.

The sad fact is that 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. That statistic means that you know someone who has either experienced it or is experiencing it now. 

You can help them by signing an e-petition asking the Home Secretary to open the public inquiry.

Please take a minute - it literally takes just a minute - to sign the petition here.  Every single signature matters and could help women in the future. Let's take some action.




Sunday, 16 June 2013

The garden in June ~ plus win a £100 gardening kit!

Iris Shirley Pope

I've managed to dodge the rain showers this weekend to do a bit of gardening, and along with admiring the flowers already in bloom I've been doing a bit of grafting.

I'm trying bring more colour into the garden so I've been looking around for some decent sized plants that will produce flowers this summer.

There's a small plant nursery local to me where the plants are always very healthy and about half of the price elsewhere.

This Iris 'Shirley Pope' was just £3.99 and is already quite established. I decided to put it next to the David Austin rose  I bought (in the sale section)  a few months back and which has already quadrupled in size.

Tip: take a look in the sales sections in gardening centres for plants that might just need a bit of TLC.


David Austin rose

The rose itself has loads of buds on it but I noticed they're all covered in aphids.

I don't like to use a lot of chemicals in the garden so I looked around and bought a plant based bug spray and they've been getting blasted over the past few days.

I'm really looking forward to seeing this rose in flower, it's a new addition to the garden and I love old-fashioned roses with a strong fragrance.

Tip: follow these instructions on how to make your own organic aphid repellent.


The tree that gives most of the dappled shade, which is always very welcome in a south-facing garden, is looking very top heavy. 

I think it's definitely a job for a tree surgeon, but in the meantime I took some of the very low overhanging branches off. 

They were so low they were actually touching some of the flowers in the beds, so I used my loppers to cut off a few at the very bottom.

Tip: buy the best quality tools you can afford, they make jobs like this so much easier.
the curved flower border

I love this curved border, and it also has the most colour, but it tends to get a bit overcrowded in the summer.

I decided to thin out some of the acquilegia, which are beautiful but grow like weeds, to make way for something new.

The pink arrow in the photo below points to the new addition to the border, Echinacea purpurea Praire Splendour, which  hopefully will be the same colour as the arrow. The Echinacea was bought from the same local nursery for the same price, £3.99.

Tip:  order starter plants earlier in the year to keep the cost even lower.
Echinacea purpurea Prairie Splendour

I've got quite a good selection of garden tools and most of them were my Dad's. I love using his old weathered spade, and it feels good to be using the tools he used to tend our family garden. It feels right to be carrying on his love of gardening.

Fortunately for me, Dad bought good quality garden tools and looked after them which means they're still in great condition.  I still keep them clean and wipe blades over with a multi-purpose oil after each use. Tip: looking after your garden tools will keep them in good order and prolong their life.

So although I'm pretty well supplied with garden tools, I was very excited when I was contacted by Plant Me Now the UK's fastest growing online garden centre. They very kindly offered to supply one lucky person with £100 worth of gardening equipment as a competition prize.

Gardening tools competition prize
I was asked to select a gardening kit and here's what I picked out: a good quality stainless steel garden fork and garden spade; a stainless steel hand trowel and hand fork; some essential bypass secateurs; garden shears, and a pair of gardening gloves.  These are the things I use most of all in my garden, so I reckoned it would make a decent kit for someone!

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is to leave a comment below with your best summer gardening tip.  It could be about any aspect of gardening, so get thinking and let me know what yours is.

Don't forget to leave either your twitter or email address so I can easily contact you if you win!

The competition is open for entries until 8pm on Monday 24th June 2013.  Good luck!

**Update: the competition has now closed and the winner is Hooperpadmore with the following tip: 


"Our garden is filled with plants that we have swopped or which have grown from cuttings from friends gardens. Often we have not expected them to "take" but they have, and we have a garden full of colour and memories of special people and places... all at low cost."

Congratulations! Please email me with your details. 


You can follow Plant Me Now on Twitter, and they have a Facebook page which is great if you have any gardening queries.  

Terms and conditions:  UK entries only. There is no cash alternative and the prize cannot be transferred. I will select the winner from the entries provided and my decision is final. If the winner does not respond with their details within 7 days I reserve the right to select a new winner. The gardening kit will be sent to the winner's home address by Plant Me Now, and they are responsible for fulfilling the prize.  

Disclosure: I have received no payment or payment in kind to run this competition, I'm doing it because it's such a great prize!

Friday, 14 June 2013

How to buy wine and save money with Tesco Wine Co-buys

Tesco wine co-buys

I don't drink beer or spirits but I do like a glass of wine.  I like two glasses even better, but although I'm not a big drinker I always enjoy choosing a bottle of wine for the weekend.

I always have an upper limit in mind for how much I want to spend on a bottle, so I was very interested to read about this idea from Tesco.  They've set up Tesco Wine Co-buys which is a new way of buying wine. The more people who buy together, the cheaper the price gets and - get this - whoever brings in the most people gets their wine for free. THAT'S FREE WINE! 

This little video explains the whole idea of co-buying:


Just remember that you have to sign-up for alerts, spread the word to friends to encourage more people to buy, and if you can't see any wines you like on the list you can always request a co-buy of your own choice. 

Now excuse me while I go and have a gander at the list of wines currently on offer...


Disclosure: I am a Tesco Wine Brands ambassador

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The garden in June ~ how does your garden grow?

This week has seen an explosion of colour in the garden, so I'm taking the lazy route this week and just posting photos of the best blooms this week. Enjoy :)

foxglove purpurea excelsior, allium purple sensation
kousa dogwood
acquilegia allium aflatuense tulip clematis montana rubens
peony

In order from the top: Foxglove purpurea excelsior; Allium purple sensation; Kousa dogwood; acquilegia; allium aflatuense; tulip; clematis montana rubens; peony.

Oh, and keep an eye on the blog for news of a competition to win gardening equipment! Coming this weekend.

I'm joining in with the weekly gardening linky at Mammasaurus' place, take a look at some of the beautiful gardens on display.

Mammasaurus - How Does Your Garden Grow?

Monday, 10 June 2013

Being a single parent ~ The one where I go on the radio

So yesterday I got an email asking me if I'd like to take part in a discussion on the Radio 5 Live, as you do.

The subject of the discussion was about the lack of male role models in many children's lives and asking "Is a mum enough?"  This is ahead of a report out later this week by the Centre for Social Justice which outlines the extent of family breakdown and the rise of single parents families.

I wanted to make sure that it wasn't going to be a confrontational discussion, and also was curious about who else would be taking part. The producer, Charlotte, told me that it would be a friendly 'adult' discussion and they wouldn't be having anyone like mouth-on-a-stick Katie Hopkins who'd been on the show the previous evening. Phew!  I was told it would be me, a single parent dad called Andy and the show's resident psychotherapist Rachel Morris.   I thought it might be worth a try, and I liked the producer so I agreed to do it.

I prepared a few key points that I wanted to make, as advised by @exmoorjane, and kept the notepad close by in case of panic!

The presenter Stephen Nolan started off by introducing everyone, including someone called Sean and I wondered who he was, but he then corrected himself and I realised he meant me, Jean.

The question "Do children really need a man in their lives?" was posed to Rachel, the psychotherapist, who said she thought they did because otherwise children were raised not understanding the man's role or how to interact with men.

I was asked the same question and my reply was something like "Yes, but a male role model doesn't have to be the father, it could be a family friend, uncle, etc. I think children do need some positive role models of both sexes but not necessarily the father, especially if he is a negative influence."

So far so good, I thought.

Unfortunately, the previous discussion had overrun by several minutes and we ran out of time so I didn't get to say anything else (and neither did Andy, the other single parent).  Naturally, I had other amazingly insightful points to make but they were left on the notepad and never aired.

So, just to finish off what I started saying before I was rudely interrupted by the news and sports bulletin, here they are:
  • I would rather my children had no male role model than a bad one;
  • there are many gay couples with children who successfully raise children in same-sex households;
  • the main priority is that children have positive influences in their lives - whoever they are, male or female - and have opportunities to spend time with people who inspire and support them as well as leading by example;
  • I'm dismayed that once again the emphasis is on how single parents (and at the last census, 92% of single parents were female) are somehow failing to bring up children successfully; 
  • Where are the support mechanisms for these so-called failing parents? Suzanne Moore wrote about this more eloquently than I ever could when she asked why single parents are vilified rather than given a leg up;
  • Why don't the Government and the media ask why absent parents aren't doing more for their children? Why are they not held to account? Why, when these errant parents fail to support their children, are they allowed to get off scot free? ;
  • And can we please stop laying the blame at the foot of the parent who is staying with the children and doing the best they can? 
That's what I would have said if I'd have had the chance. What do you think, do all children need men in their lives? 

If you fancy listening to the show yourself, you can listen again for the next 6 days, and the segment in question starts at 1hr 23 minutes in.  And btw, I'm fairly sure I don't sound like that in real life.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Interesting stuff from around t'internet #5

Image from Pinterest

22 unbelievable places on earth.

You think this is an innocent little cereal ad, right? No, this TV unleased a torrent of racial hatred when it was shown in the US because it showed an interracial family. Yep, in 2013 some people are still shocked when black people and white people marry...*sigh*

These hyperrealistic sculptures by Ron Mueck are fascinating and slightly creepy at the same time.

11 compound word errors that might make you look like an numbskull.

102 year old woman base jumps off bridge. Yep.

55 incredible TV screenshots. Number 12...*juvenile snort*

Karl Lagerfeld wants to marry his cat. As you do.

I saw this lovely lady on the BBC news last week. 91 year old grandmother is the world's oldest DJ.

There's a dinosaur called Kevin. Honest.

Chuck Norris hates waiting for the bus.

Some of the stunning entries for the 2013 National Geographic Traveller Photo contest. Numbers 5 and 8....wow!

And finally, if this little video doesn't make you smile you must have a heart of stone - a 2 year old boys sings the Beatles' Don't Let me Down with his dad. Bless.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

The garden in June ~ tea, biscuits and enjoying the evening sunshine


This is the time of year when a bit of weeding, mowing, tidying up and dead-heading is all that's needed and the rest of the time can be spent.....well, drinking tea. There's nothing better than coming home from work, taking a cup of tea into the garden and having a look at what the garden's been doing all day.





acquilegia

acquilegia


My gardening nemesis

Actually, I did do a big of digging this week too. You may remember the shrub that outstayed its welcome, well I had to go to plan B because I haven't been able to get rid of it.

The roots are so deep that nobody has been able to dig it up (me, my brother, the gardener who came to lay the lawn) so I'm going to have to try and work around it.



Hopefully, because it was chopped right back, it won't grow as big as it was last year and I've put in other more colourful plants nearby.  So far I've planted a dicentra spectabilis; the forget-me-nots I bought last week; and a David Austin rose that was half-price in a gardening centre. There's also an as yet unidentified plant growing from underneath the log pile, it might be a peony. Not sure yet.

So, the shrub has won. It's staying, for now.

Mammasaurus - How Does Your Garden Grow?