A Lifestyle & Parenting Blog

Monday, 29 December 2014

This year I'm resolving to..... ish......

1.  Eat healthily.  I say healthily, actually I mean back away from the biscuit tin and try to remember the existence of fruit.

It's the biggest party night of the year.

2.  Drink less. Whilst this means I will drink less wine, in practice it will mean I forget to drink sufficient water.  Since Jesus turned water into wine, I reckon I'm about 50% there already.

3.  Exercise more.  Unless my back goes, when I will wander through shopping centres shouting randomly like a drunk tramp as the spasms hit, whilst the husband and kids will speed up and abandon me to lurch wantonly through John Lewis.

4.  Listen to more music.  Quietly.  Too much noise is not good for my tinnitus but I miss belting out power ballads at the top of my lungs and scaring the neighbour's cat. N. B. music does not include the shouty Viking rock my husband loves.  If I want that kind of noise I will just put a saucepan on my head and bang it repeatedly with a ladle.

5.  Not read the Daily Mail Online (or the Daily Kardashian as it has recently become).  Some of the grimness of its reporting is really upsetting, but we all know I'll be trying to guess who sent this week's letter to Bel Mooney and wondering if the You Editorial Team would have the vapours if they saw the state of my interior decor.  That's not a euphemism by the way.  In any case,  the NHS has had far too much of my interior decor this year, to the extent that I have "if lost please return to University Hospital of Wales" embroidered on my knickers.

6.  Not watch the same TV programmes over and over again.  I am qualified to be an estate agent for Midsomer and Sykes is the only dog I would ever consider having as a pet.  The death rate in Midsomer Murders would only be a problem if the Council Tax bandings were unreasonable.  

7.  Not buy the latest celebrity lifestyle tome in which rising at 6 am is de rigeur as is straining your home grown green tea through fine denier stockings and doing yoga to salute the sun.  Nobody has seen the sun in Wales since 1976.  And if I bend down, my physiotherapist has to be called immediately.

8.  Be a better mother.  I am not entirely sure what this entails but I believe it has something to do with being higher on the Julie Andrews scale and lower on the Gruffalo in a dressing gown scale.

Do you have any exciting resolutions this year?  Whatever your resolutions are, I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015.


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Dating: 11 Ways To Tell They're REALLY Into You

You know, I always find it strange when my girlfriends say they don’t know if a man is really interested in them.  And most blokes seem to remain resolutely oblivious to the most obvious of flirtation signals. Prior to my becoming a respectable married woman (cough), I had quite a lengthy flirtation with internet dating. 

Now I know a lot of people are still quite sniffy about meeting a partner this way, seeing online dating as the refuge of the dateless and socially inept, but I found it immense fun and an excellent way of deciding what I wanted in a man. 

Flirting tips-how to flirt-motherdistracted.co.uk
Is your flirting producing results?
A long-time single girlfriend of mine (and I mean years) would love to meet a special someone but won’t try online dating on the grounds that she’d have to have a profile picture.

It’s funny how we’ll happily supply the most ghastly of photos for passports and driving licences but when it’s a question of our attractiveness being judged, nothing less than a photo-shoot with David Bailey will do. She also worries about work colleagues finding her out. Frankly, unless you’re ‘M’ at MI5, I’m not sure this is too much of a problem.

Rather than view my dates as a nerve-wracking experiment, I pretended I was ‘auditioning’ the latest candidate, thus making him the one on trial rather than me.  Possibly a weird mental switch, but try it, it works.

Anyone who works in HR or who interviews as part of their job knows that the first judgement of a candidate is normally made in the first few seconds of meeting and that most of our communication is non-verbal.

Yes, what you say is less important than how you say it and the various signals you give out. I could read body language tomes all day from self-styled ‘sexpert’ Tracey Cox to the grandfather of body language study himself, Desmond Morris.

So, when you are at a party or a date, take a moment to observe your potential partner in action. This is no bad thing because the late Helen Gurley Brown (Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine) once said “if you’re doing all the talking, you’re boring somebody”.  Silence is power. 

Here’s what to look for.

Good signs

Prolonged eye contact - particularly if they look into your eyes and then at your mouth.

Proximity - are they sitting close to you or, if not, are they turned towards you? If you are standing in a circle with others, have a quick glance at the floor to see if their feet are pointing towards you.

Preening - I'm sure we all know the classic preening gestures such as toying / flicking hair or licking lips.  Some men will hook their fingers in their belt loops, unconsciously 'pointing' to their groin. Some women will stroke their throat, drawing attention to their breasts.

Mirroring - if you both have a drink, look to see if you both lift your glasses to sip at the same time or if you change your posture, do they change theirs too?

Territory - if you are sitting across a table from each other, try putting your glass or a piece of cutlery down on their 'side' of the table.  If they are comfortable, they'll probably let it stay there.  If not, it's likely to be pushed straight back (whether consciously or, more tellingly, unconsciously).

Conversation - do you both finish each other's sentences?  Are your questions being answered without just a curt yes or no?

Including you in future plans - do they say things like "oh, we must do that at Christmas, or I must take you to see this movie"? Then they see you in their future.  

Introducing you to friends they run into - if you bump into their friends when you're out, watch to see how they react.  If they're keen, they'll be sure to introduce you and use your name.  If they leave you hanging back while they catch up on gossip, that's not a good sign.

Revealing gestures - the inside of the wrist is considered to be an erogenous zone - watch to see if there are lots of palms up / wrist revealed gestures.  Revealing the wrist whilst smoking is a classic flirtation gesture and you could probably write a book about Hollywood's use of smoking as flirtation.

Now such a thing would be not quite Disney and I suspect that trying the same femme fatale routine with an e-cig probably won't have the same effect.  It's probably far sexier these days not to smoke unless you're happy to keep leaving the table to stand outside with other lonely souls and light up in the rain whilst your date eyes up other prospective partners in the restaurant.

Ending the date by planning another  - if they're keen they'll indicate when they'll next be in touch and they'll be specific about it.  They'll want to get a date in your diary as soon as possible.  If, on the other hand they say "it's been great, I'll catch you sometime next week", I wouldn't waste too much time waiting for their text or call.

The Kiss - I don't really have to explain this one but bear in mind that should the evening end on a hot and heavy note, there's still no guarantee you'll get another date.  There are some who are capable of monumental double standards when it comes to sex on a first date.

Bad Signs

Lack of eye contact - that thing where you're dancing and you just know he's checking out other women over your shoulder.

Constantly checking a mobile - be honeset.  If they are checking their email or updating their Facebook status, chances are they aren't that keen!

Pomposity - they sit with both hands behind their head maximizing their physical size and space. This is the gesture of arrogance and superiority.  Him Tarzan, you probably one of many Janes. Either way, you're not considered an equal.

Closed answers - yes / no answers that leave conversation in the air and stunted silences.

Not asking about you - this is a pretty obviously clue!

Talking about the Ex - no, no and once again, no!

Not attempting to prolong the date - if you finish the last mouthful of your dessert and they ask for the bill rather than coffee, not good.  Some women think men should pay on the first date.  I'm more pragmatic.  I think it's OK to split the bill, particularly if you earn more than he does.  But if he starts to quibble and wants to split the bill to the penny, I'd probably run.

Let’s be honest.  If your date is not making every effort to know when they will see you again, then in the words of that famous dating bible inspired by “Sex & The City”, he’s just not that into you.

You may remember the book “The Rules” which was popular about ten years ago which contained rather militant advice such as “if he phones after Wednesday asking for a date on Saturday tell him no”. You were supposed to be a creature of mystery, alluring and just that little bit hard to get. When you get to a certain age, all that game playing is very wearing, decidedly not sexy and, generally, a complete waste of time.

Many women say they just ‘know’ when they’ve met the ‘one’ so if the one you’re with is Mr or Miss Right Now rather than Mr or Miss Right, keep auditioning!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

10 Things You'll Probably Forget To Buy This Christmas

I was going to title this piece "The Mother Distracted Guide to Humbug-ery" and then I thought "best not". 

Anyway, here's my helpful list of things you might want to add to your Christmas shopping list on the basis that I like to be fully prepared for all possible emergencies, medical, psychological and social.  

Keep Calm It's Almost Christmas Postscard
Image credit: www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

Most of these items are unremittingly dull.  But nowhere near as dull as trying to find a corner shop open on Christmas day whilst the husband is left to cremate the turkey and the kids dismantle any item costing more than a tenner which needs batteries..... which leads me to....

1.  Batteries.  Best to buy in bulk over the internet if you're organised.  If not, best join the queue in Argos for a pack big enough to power a space shuttle and spend 20 minutes watch the blinking TV screen as your order number takes an age to appear on the glamorous metal racking at the back of the stressed out line of assistants.

2.  Indigestion remedy.  Christmas is the only time of year when we are unnaturally possessed to consume our own body weight in dried fruit.  It ain't pretty.

3.  Plasters.  Fabric.  Waterproof.  The sort that are so strong that pain is involved in removing them. All other plasters float off as soon as they get wet, particularly any featuring Winnie The Pooh / Hello Kitty etc.

4. Wire cutters or very strong scissors.  Even Dynamo would struggle to get out of some of the packaging toys come in these days.  You'll need the fabric plasters to wrap round your fingers after it has taken you an entire festive episode of  Midsomer Murders to free Barbie and her range of microscopic accessories.

5. Tweezers.  After Caitlin's "bead up the nose" incident, I'm taking no chances.  Plus I can't remember the last time I actually scrutinized my eyebrows. And since we've got rid of the carpet and hubby has painted the floors, the risk of splinters in the foot (and even more annoyingly, shredded hosiery) is high. Less micro-pedi and more micro-shreddy.

6.  Bin bags. Just remember that the ratio of packaging to gift for most of the stuff we buy these days is 85% packaging and 15% gift. However, failure to recycle correctly in this here shire may result in heavy tut-tutting from the neighbours and possibly a short prison sentence.

7.  Fuel for the car.  No really.  If you're off to see Aunty Vi in the back of Abercwmtwch, you just know that there won't be a garage open this side of the Severn Bridge on Christmas day. Although come to think of it, that might actually be a good thing. You really don't need a pasty and a copy of What Car magazine either.

8. Enough cream.  Without fail if I buy a small amount, everyone wants some and if I buy it in pints, everyone wants custard.  I'm sure it's deliberate. 

9. A gravy boat.  What has happened to the nation's fleet of gravy boats?  Are we all using Pyrex jugs or those strange jugs in the shape of a cow?  

10. An emergency present.  Tricky.  I find boxes of Matchmakers or Ferrero Rocher chocolates kept for this purpose usually vanish. You'll just have to be strong or invest in a prettily wrapped gift card from somewhere like Marks & Spencer. 

I'm sure you have your own list.  Let me know.  I bet there's loads of things I've forgotten!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Teenspeak Online - Can You Crack The Code? Yep PIR!

A recent report by CNN, covered in the Daily Mail Online lists 28 internet acronyms used by youngsters to shield their online activity from their parents' beady eyes.

The list was compiled by Kelly Wallace with the help of Internet safety expert Katie Greer and contains details of slang such as "420" for marijuana, "POS" for parent over shoulder and the worrying "L(MIRL)" - let's meet in real life.

Ieuan playing with iPad
Ieuan plays with carefully supervised games apps!
Happily my kids are not yet of an age to have social media profiles but my nieces and nephews are and I figure that, as parents, we should all make sure we are aware of the dangers facing our children both now and in the future.

Common sense suggests that it is best to have a family PC in a room where internet activity can be monitored, but, as we all know, real life isn't like that. We are already explaining to our daughter (7) that it is very easy for people to disguise who they really are online. She enjoys looking at her cousins' Facebook pages but under close supervision.

I really recommend that you take a moment to read the Daily Mail's article which also advises on talking to teens about online safety and here's hoping you don't come across any of this list.

1. IWSN - I want sex now

2. GNOC - Get naked on camera
3. NIFOC - Naked in front of computer
4. PIR - Parent in room
5 CU46 - See you for sex
6. 53X - Sex
7. 9 - Parent watching
8. 99 - Parent gone
9. 1174 - Party meeting place
10. THOT - That hoe over there
11. CID - Acid (the drug)
12. Broken - Hungover from alcohol
13. 420 - Marijuana
14. POS - Parent over shoulder
15. SUGARPIC - Suggestive or erotic photo
16. KOTL - Kiss on the lips
17. (L)MIRL - Let's meet in real life
18. PRON - Porn
19. TDTM - Talk dirty to me
20. 8 - Oral sex
21. CD9 - Parents around/Code 9
22. IPN - I'm posting naked
23. LH6 - Let's have sex
24. WTTP - Want to trade pictures?
25. DOC - Drug of choice
26. TWD - Texting while driving
27. GYPO - Get your pants off
28. KPC- Keeping parents clueless

Not comfortable reading, is it!

Here's the link again:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2874340/The-28-internet-acronyms-parent-know.html

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Hangover Cures - I Will Survive!

Now at the risk of sounding like Great Aunt Augusta who firmly believed that the decline of the Roman Empire began when someone had a second small Sherry, and lest you may have accidentally purchased a wine which could fuel a tractor, I include below some helpful advice to avoid the feeling of imminent death.

Source: intrigue.ie

Incidentally that wise Roman, Pliny The Elder recommended deep frying a canary and chomping it down whole. Pliny The Elder was a Roman author, naturalist and philosopher who was also a naval and an army commander.  The fact that he was "The Elder" might mean he was on to something. Or on something.

Either way......here's my mullings

Avoid Mulled Wine

That's it really.  It may taste nice but it's the stuff of the devil.

Crisps & Coke (The Walkers of Shame)

Ask around and you'll find there is a secret club of people who firmly believe that the number one cure for a hangover is a combination of salt & vinegar crisps and coke.  The husband says full fat coke but I've heard recommendations for the diet variety too.

Recent research in China though suggests the best drink for helping with your hangover is Sprite which topped a list of 57 drinks, from water through to fizzy pop.

The Full English (or Welsh) Breakfast

None of your airy fairy egg white omelette nonsense - sausages, bacon, fried egg, beans, fried bread, black pudding and tea as strong as you can take it.

Hair of the Dog

I've never been strong enough for this one but if you have a Bloody Mary at least the tomato juice and celery should go some way to repair the damage whilst the vodka will give at least some temporary relief.

Fruit Juice

The fructose (fruit sugar) in the juice should perk you up. It's the boost of glucose, apparently, that helps your body process the alcohol.


Apparently drinking pickle juice is a common hangover remedy in Poland. No.  Just no.

Water & Paracetemol

The best way to flush out the alcohol and help your beleaguered liver, but make sure you stick to the recommended dose of your pain reliever of choice.


Let's be honest, when you're a parent, the option to go back to bed is usually non-existent but if you can manage an extra hour, go for it.


A good walk can often perk you up - all that fresh air.  Just 20 minutes can help. Or you can pretend you're going for a walk and have a nap in the car.

Bear in mind that having a hangover will also involve some United Nations level negotiations with your other half viz "oh I see, when I went out for the rugby I was only allowed to sleep in till noon but YOU CHECKED OUT FOR A WHOLE DAY". Can't think where I heard that recently. Cough. The only way around this is pleading and offering marital privileges. (I should stick a time limit on them though, like they do on Tesco Clubcard Vouchers - "oopsie, that one expired at the end of November love").

Anyway, just be thankful you don't live in Mongolia where their hangover cure of choice is pickled sheep's eyeballs with tomato juice.  The best hangover cure is, well, not to drink in the first place. As the great English Restoration poet John Dryden (1631 - 1700) put it "penance, fasts and abstinence, to punish bodies for the soul's offense". Think I'd rather have a night out with Pliny The Elder.

So cheers everybody!  I'll be raising a glass to you all. And if you do know of any miracle cures, be sure to comment!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Review: Ozeri Savore Electric Pepper Grinder

Here's a nifty little stocking filler for the aspiring foodie or gadget lover. 

The Ozeri Savore Electric Pepper Grinder is a push-down button operated grinder which instantly grinds and releases seasonings. 

It has a see through container so you can see at a glance whether it needs refilling and it seasons well with a front to side ceramic grinding mechanism which means that you never need to invert the gadget. 

Powered by six AAA batteries, it's durable ceramic motor copes with peppercorns, salt and spices. It has a soft textured non-slip grip with, Ozeri say, finger-print resisting coating.

The Ozeri Savore Electric Pepper Grinder

Being somewhat ham-fisted when it comes to assembling gadgets, I found the Savore Grinder easy to put together.  

The grinder has three parts

Slot the three pieces together and hey presto. 

The front switch also has three settings allowing you to select different coarsenesses of pepper. 

I am also pleased to report that it does not leave an annoying circle of pepper whenever you leave it on a table.

A small detail I know but when you've brandished a dishcloth for the umpteenth time only to find the seasoning equivalent of a crop circle on the table it does get a bit irritating. 

Or is that just me?  


Now you may well be asking why not stick with an ordinary 'twist' salt or pepper grinder. 

We found this easy enough for the kids to use without creating a pepper dust storm and it would also be great for those with limited mobility in their wrists or the elderly - although changing the batteries might require some assistance.

Ieuan, randomly face-painted as 'Evil Rudolph' testing his unique pepper and pear combo

Caitlin, sensible like her mother (ahem)

The Ozeri Savore Electric Pepper Grinder is available from Amazon.co.uk and retails around the £11 mark. We haven't stopped using ours and the old twist to grind model is languishing in the cupboard.

*A Savore Pepper Grinder was received for the purposes of this review.
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