Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The season for giving.

Are you involved in a local community project, club or charity? Have you been affected by cuts recently? Are you looking for extra funds? If so, The Cooperative Membership Fund would like to help YOU! Thousands of communities have already benefited from the fund so why not yours?

The Cooperative Membership Fund is a grant scheme that helps local community projects, groups, clubs and charities in the UK. The grant scheme is funded by members of the Co-operative who kindly donate some of their share profits and these are then redistributed locally (the criteria is the postal code) to community projects, groups etc. This year, so far, they have donated £1.2 million! The amounts for the grants go from £100 to £2000 and are awarded to projects that address a community issue, are innovative and benefit the community in the long term. These groups, clubs and charities also share the values and principles of the Co-operative.

.  The Cooperative Membership Fund

Of course, there are a few criterias to fill before they can award you with a grant. So to be successful, a group must:

  • Carry out positive work in the community (it does not have to have charitable status to apply)

        And the project must:

  • Address a community issue

  • Provide a long-term benefit to the community

  • Support co-operative values and principles

  • Ideally be innovative in its approach


Unfortunately, this great initiative is not available here in Ireland. It would be a wonderful thing to see here especially in the gloomy days we are experiencing. In the imaginary world in which I could apply for one of those grants, I would want it to profit an organization that gets children and elderly people together.  

You can find out more about the projects that have already benefited from the Co-operative Membership Fund's kindness on their website. If you want to apply for one of the grants, you can do so here.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

You have to be in it to earn some.

For most of us, blogging is a hobby. It's something we do in between kids, cooking, cleaning and working in general. Sure, there are the occasional perks, the freebies, the awards, the reviews. But what if you could get more out of it? What if you could earn money and not just freebies.
I can see a few people rolling their eyes and thinking, here we go another sponsored post. Yes, I am not ashamed to admit it. It is another sponsored post. But it's a post written by me, in my own words and about a subject I chose to talk about. All I got was a brief with 3 bullet points about what the post should be about and, even at that, one of those bullet points was just about what links should be included. As for what way I want to present it and what I want to say, it's all up to me. Are you still reading?
Find out more on

If you are, then you must be interested. Good. How do I get to do this? I registered with a Website called ebuzzing. It took me less than 5 minutes. Big brands get in contact with them to promote products or campaigns. Ebuzzing then offers you the opportunity to write an article or display a video and pays you for it. It's really easy and you can chose not to take part in the campaign should you not wish to. The only thing that has to be clearly displayed is that you are writing a sponsored post. No sneaking about disguising a sponsored post as a normal post! And the brands that they work with are very well known brands, LLoyds TSB, Levis, Dell, HP amongst others.

One of brands I would love to write about is a french brand called Petit Bateau. Their clothes are simple yet stylish and the quality is incredible. I have owned some of their tops for more than 5 years and they are still as good as new. They are quite famous in France for their kids underwear, vests and pants. They also make kids clothes and adults clothes. I especially like their adults sizes. They're not your normal sizes, they go by age not the usual S, M, L and others. Knowing that the size of the top you're wearing is 12 years old or 18 years old is quite a boost, although purely psychological.

So, if you too are interested in monetizing your blog without deceiving your readers, or polluting your blog with millions of irrelevant videos, then why don't you join ebuzzing. It's easy, free, straight forward and they have a strict code of conduct that is very easy to adhere to. So come on, Find out more on And if you think you found out enough and want to register straight away, then click here and join!

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Another go at making cupcakes

This week, I received a very christmassy, beautiful big red box complete with silver ribbon from Tesco Real Food. We have tried a few times to make cupcakes and I have to say, it has not been easy. The cakes themselves are great but when it comes to decorating them, we are not as skilled as we thought we would be. So when Tesco Real Food contacted me to take part in their Christmas Cupcakes Competition, I jumped at the chance. So they provided me with everything I needed to make those beautiful cupcakes and I gave it a go.

Well, the cakes came out of the oven looking lovely and golden and tasted wonderful. Once they had cooled down, I got down to the business of making the frosting. And what a business it was. Frosting has never been my friend. I never get it right. Sometimes it's too runny, sometimes it just splits. So I braced myself, recipe in hand and utensils at the ready. First, I took my electric whisk to the butter, trying to get it turn pale and fluffy. Result: a kitchen counter, presses, windows and yours truly splattered with bits of butter. I think I licked more butter off my fingers than I ever put on toast! Next, add the icing sugar, a little at a time. Result: a kitchen counter, presses, windows and yours truly covered in a lovely dusting of icing sugar, which of course was sticking really well to the previously splattered butter! So, after a lot of kitchen redecorating, I got down to the business of decorating the cupcakes. Until my cheap piping bag burst at the seams and I found myself with more frosting melting on my hands than getting on the cupcakes.

So altogether a rather messy affair, but I managed to decorate a few cupcakes and enter the competition. Seeing some of the favourites they have put up on their website already, I don't think I have a chance to win but hey, it was great fun and who wouldn't love to win an afternoon of cooking with a celebrity chef? The 2 lucky winners of the competition will get to do just that and the lucky 10 runner ups will receive a great cupcake kit. So since the cold snap is here and we all would rather stay indoors than venture outside, why don't you give making Christmas Cupcakes a go and upload your pictures to enter the competition? You have until Monday 29th of November to enter so it sounds like the perfect thing to do over this freezing cold week end.

As for me, I think this was my last attempt at making the damned things. I think I'll leave it to the professionals and stick to my basic recipes. Although it was great fun, I don't think all that frosting and decorating is for me. The result wasn't too bad in itself and rather tasty too. Would you like to have a peep?

The Tesco Real Food website is a treasure trove of recipes and tips for anybody and I have bookmarked it already. So whether you want to enter the competition or just find a recipe for dinner tonight, go and have a look!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A new hobby.

Dear blog,

I have somewhat again neglected you over the past few weeks. I have been busy, what with the bake sale at school for which I baked 6 big cakes, 32 little cakes and 6 loafs of bread (although only 5 made it because my dear neighbour who was in charge of taking them there decided to keep one for herself). There has been a christening (not Noelie's). There has been the discovery of delicious Swedish cinnamon rolls that I can't stop baking and eating (I'll post the recipe soon if people are interested). There has been sickness (a baby up half the night for 3 nights does not make for great inspiration although I could have posted about that but I feel like it has been done and redone and I had no new insight into it that people would find a) interesting, and b) useful. There has been studying for my course. And there has been the discovery of a new hobby, knitting. Marie had to bring in needles and wool into school and teacher showed them how to knit. Do you know how difficult it is to find knitting needles and wool these days? I hadn't knitted since those summer nights when I used to stay at my grandmother's and she taught me how to knit. But I decided to give it another go. So I went in search of more knitting needles (the kiddies ones were somewhat too small for me) and some nice wool (once again the one brought into school wasn't the nicest looking wool). It took me a few days to find it. I had to travel a bit to get my supplies in and I also bought a kids book on how to knit. People can laugh but kids books are great. I bought one for Mr Foodie so that he would learn how to cook and it worked. So I bought one for myself on knitting.

And so far I have managed to knit one scarf and hat for Noelie and I'm about half way through knitting a scarf for Marie. What I really appreciated though were the comments that I received. Mr Foodie, when I sent him a picture of Noelie wearing scarf and hat, said that it was lovely (of course it was lovely) and then admitted that he didn't think it would be nice but that it actually was. And so did my mum. Thanks for the vote of confidence, guys! I know that I try this and that and don't always succeed. I know that my hobbies change like the wind and that I still haven't finished that beautiful ABC embroidery I started when I was pregnant on Noelie. But it doesn't mean that I don't enjoy doing it or that I am not good at it. I just kind of lose interest after a while.

People look at me weird when I tell them I knit. It's something that their grand mothers used to do, not our generation. And I think it's kind of sad that all this knowledge and art is being slowly but surely forgotten. Not just the knitting, but the baking and to an extend the cooking. We are forgetting how to do all this when not so long ago, it was a normal everyday occurrence. We are hungry, we just buy ready made meals, we are cold, we buy a scarf and hat, we want something sweet, we pop into the shop and buy a pastry. Is it fulfilling? Not really. Instant gratification but no lasting sense of achievement. And although some people might find me weird and that even Marie calls me a granny (because you know, mummy, that's what grannies do. They sit on the couch with a blanket over their legs and they knit), I don't really care. I am proud of what I do. I am proud to see that people enjoy my food and my pastries. I am proud to say that I made that scarf and hat. And I am proud to say I baked it, I cooked it and I knitted it. Because it is fulfilling.

Maybe I was just born in the wrong era. What about you? Is there anything that would be considered old fashioned and on the brink of extinction that you enjoy and are proud of doing?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A wonderful start to the run up to Christmas.

How would you feel if you got a text from somebody telling you that, unfortunately, their situation is such that they won't be able to buy your kids presents for Christmas this year?

You could react the way we did and reply that it's no big deal and that the kids get too much anyway and offer help to that person, in as big or small a way you can.

Or you could react differently. We weren't the only ones to get the text, and I was really shocked by somebody else's reaction. Well, shocked at first and, now that the shock has worn off, rather pissed off about it. Somebody else, after getting the exact same text we did, complained about it! Yes, you heard well, complained or rather said that they were quite annoyed over it. Their reasons for reacting that way were the following:

- ''We already bought presents for the kids.''

Good for you. You are obviously extremely organized and, unlike me, get your Christmas shopping in by the end of August. Although, personally, I think Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without that mad rush of last minute shopping. And I thought Christmas was all about giving! Obviously not for some people, you seem to give to receive.

- What's €10?.

€10 in itself is not much but multiply it by 5 that's €50 already. And that's without counting their partner, their own kids, and their parents at least.

- How can you explain that to the kids?

I know my kids, and I know that Marie (at least, because Noelie is too young) is told not to expect presents off everybody at Christmas. And if she was to be told that such and such can't buy them Christmas presents this year because they don't have enough money, she would understand it and, knowing her, she would probably even go and get her piggy bank and give it to them.
Which way do you bring up you kids? So that if they give a present, they expect one in return? In such a way, that they don't understand that sometimes people don't have enough money? In such a way that they feel entitled? Way to go! I'd hate to see you in a position where you can't afford it, how would you explain that one to the kids!

- We are all in the same boat.

Well obviously not, otherwise we would all have gotten our Christmas presents already, or we would have all sent the same text. Yes, it is hard on everybody this year but you have to admit that it is harder on some than it is on others. Everybody's situation is different. You were in that boat a few months back when you couldn't afford to chip in with a special celebration because you were only back from holidays. Did we say anything? No.

It took a tremendous amount of courage for that person to send that text, to publicize to a point that they are having difficulties. I am sure that to come up with such a decision must have hurt them immensely, especially knowing how much they adore the kids. But they are being realistic and I applaud them for it. I can only imagine how hard it must be for them not to be able to buy the kids something for Christmas or how hard it will be for them on the day. And bitching and moaning about it behind their back is not going to help them either or make them feel any better about it.

So don't worry, your kids will get presents from us this year. One thing I know though is that I won't enjoy buying them or giving them. Actually, I wonder how they would feel about some homemade present or is that not good enough either?

As you can tell, I am rather annoyed at them for reacting that way but what about you? How would you have reacted?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Allow me to choke on my French cheese.

By no means do I want to turn this blog into a political one but there are some things that I just need to say. I have no intention of offending anybody, these are just my ramblings, my opinions and if you don't like them, well, sorry but look away.

First a bit of historical background and a bit of setting the story straight. During a time of great famine, a french princess supposedly said in response to the growing anger of the population: 'Let them eat cake'. OK, it wasn't cake, it was brioche which technically is a type of bread enriched with eggs and butter. But I'll allow that small translation mistake, you have to make it relevant to your readers. This was attributed to a few french princesses but it stuck to Marie Antoinette, for some reason, although when this was reported in one of Rousseau's book, she was only 13 and there was no famine so, more than likely, she wasn't the one who said but I digress.

For the purpose of this post, we will stick with the common misconception that:

During the French Revolution, while peasants were going hungry and bread was lacking, Marie Antoinette, disconcerted at the growing anger of the population, said: 'Let them eat cake'. Obviously, this shows how 'out of touch' and condescending Marie Antoinette was. She had no idea what the population was going through, and really didn't want to know. A while later, the French revolted and overthrew the monarchy in favour of democracy. The French people turned into Alice in Wonderland's Queen of Hearts and went around ordering people's heads cut off which of course included the King's and Marie Antoinette's. So for telling people to eat cake, you got your head chopped off.

Fast forward to 2010, the setting is not Versailles or Paris. It's Ireland and the government has announced a wonderful initiative to help the people through the bad financial times we are experiencing. They have really thought hard and probably way too fast and came up with this.

Imagine the following: sitting around a priceless ebony table, sunk in really plush, red velvet covered armchairs, sipping a glass of the best champagne, wearing Armani suits, with gold cuff links are 3 characters named: Brian Cowen, Taoiseach, Brian Lenihan, minister for Finance and the, up to now unknown to me, minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith. The conversation goes like this:

B.Cowen: 'So, gentlemen, since the people are losing their jobs and their houses, cannot afford to pay their bills and credits, are sitting in the cold because they can't afford to heat up their house, can't clothe their children or buy shoes for them and now shop in Lidl or Aldi, what can we do to help them through the Christmas period? It is, after all, a time when people should be cheerful.'

B.Lenihan, holding his hand up cheerfully: 'Me, me, me. I know. How about we cut another 6 billion in the budget. I mean, they can't afford anything as it is, so they're not really going to know the difference if we take another €10 a week on their jobseeker's benefit, or another €20 a month per child on their child benefit, are they?'

B.Smith, holding his hand up too: 'Me, me, me. I know, the EU has given me more than €818.000 from some kind of scheme they have going. They said we can use it on butter or cheese. We could distribute it to the people! That would cheer them up!'

B.Cowen: 'What a wonderful idea.'

B.Lenihan, not happy at not having come up with the best answer: ' Yes, but butter melts too fast. We'd have to pay for fridges and things to keep it cold and I won't give him the money for that.'

B. Cowen: 'Right, then, we can't pay for fridges and things so we won't give them butter. What was the other option?

B.Smith: 'It was cheese.'

B. Cowen: 'Right so, let them eat cheese for Christmas then! That's going to go so well with their non existent turkey'

So the government, all happy in their knowledge that they were going to make such a difference to the People's Christmas, set off to distribute some 53 tons of cheese.

Now, forgive me if I turn all French on you, but does that remind you of anything? No? Marie Antoinette, let them eat cake? No? And what did the French do? CUT OFF THEIR HEADS.

So they're talking about cutting 6 billion euro in the next budget, cutting child benefit, cutting old age pension, cutting frontline services, cutting benefits, cutting this and that. Now, that 'let them eat cake' anecdote and all that talk of cutting gives me an idea as to what else we, the People, could cut. That would save some money I'm sure, since they will more than likely look after themselves and their buddies bankers again and not touch their benefits, their pensions, their allowances. I, like so many other families and people in Ireland, am dreading the next Budget and I will not be taking the government up on their offer of free cheese. I think it is an insult to the People of this country to have come up with this stupid idea. People don't need Cheddar cheese for Christmas, they need hope and jobs and money in their pockets and those with children want to see them happy this Christmas which, believe it or not, still costs a little bit of money. So what next? An incentive to recycle aluminium cans and turn them into toys for our kids for Christmas? A little Arts and Crafts project?

Now, Mr Cowen and co, if you told me that you were going to give me some nice Brie or Camembert or any other nice stinky French cheese for Christmas, then maybe we could talk. But in the meantime, do us all a favour, call a General Election, find a hole, crawl into it and do not emerge for the next 30 years, maybe then we'll be out of the hole your party has dug for us all. Anybody fancy a remake of the French Revolution? I know I do!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dreaming of a wonderful Christmas.

What would I do with £40.000? There’s a lot I could do with it. I probably would splash some and keep some. I would splash and buy some presents for my family. I would completely redecorate the girls room because let’s face it, it is still quite bare since we moved in. I would get a new coffee maker since ours has decided to give up on life just yesterday and I would get an IPad for Mr Foodie. I would probably treat myself to some new clothes too. But most of all, I’d keep some. It would allow me to stay at home some more and not worry about finances. That would be a god send!

Now the dream is achievable thanks to Paypal. Just by buying something and paying with Paypal, you can be entered in a weekly draw. And the prize? You could Win £40.000! The more you buy using Paypal, the more entries you get in the draw. Find out more details on their website: Of course, no competition would be without its Terms and Conditions.

So come on, is there a better time than the run up to Christmas to do a bit of online shopping? You don’t have to brave the cold and the rain, all you have to do is sit there, pay for your purchases using Paypal and wait for the postman to come! And you might even be rewarded with £40.000 for it!
I know already what I would buy. So here is my shopping list for Christmas:

Noelie would get the In the Night Garden MegaBlocks for £19.99 and Pink Castle Bead Maze Tube for £29.99 from Toys R Us.

Marie would get the Nintendo DSi XL in Burgundy for £159.00
and I would get the camera I have been dreaming of for the past few months, the Canon 1000D EOS for £449.00 from

Mr Foodie could get this new Dell 17R Inspiron for £449 from Dell.

Wouldn’t that be a wonderful Christmas! What would your shopping list be like? And more, what would you do with £40.000? Why don’t you Enter now for your chance to win!
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Friday, November 5, 2010

I am worth it!

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be famous, really famous? You know, paparazzis waiting outside your door, articles in the newspapers, TV appearances, photo shoots, fashion, make up and the rest? How far would you go to become famous? What would you like to be famous for? I have to admit that I do sometimes wonder what it would be like and whether I'd like it or not.
Well, I have had a taste of it without even having to leave the comfort of my own sitting room. I was sitting there, dressed in my pyjamas, hair not brushed, not a trace of make up to be seen anywhere (sound familiar anybody? No? Mmmh, all right then, must be just me, oops!) when I came across Hewlett Packard's new app: HP- Be A Star. So I leaped at the chance of putting a little bit of glamour back into my life. Forget the pjs, the lack of make up and the messy hair. I am now a glamorous star and I know what life is like for the Cheryls of this world. Would you like to see too?

Why don't you give it a go? All you need to do is visit HP- Be A Star and upload a photo of yourself and the dream can start! You can also go and 'like' their facebook page: And while you're there, why don't you show me what it would be like for you to be a star by sharing your thingy in the comments?
Why, do you ask? Come on girls, you know you're worth it (big swish of extensioned hair, massive flutter of fake eyelashes and huge smile of veneered teeth. Oh and the compulsory wink too!). .   . Andd.              Why, do you ask?

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Serious lack of self discipline

The course I have embarked on recommends that I write something everyday no matter how silly or significant it is. Just to 'sharpen' those writing skills. In itself, it makes sense and is a wonderful idea. But what happens when you just seem to 'dry out'?

Since I have started the course, I have managed to post once, maybe twice on this blog which would obviously be the perfect place to 'sharpen' those writing skills of mine (assuming I have any). But I can't seem to find either the inspiration or the will to do it. I don't know why. It's nothing to do with the course I am sure. I am one of those 'impulse' writers. I just put pen to paper and write what I feel like writing. It's not because I am trying to focus on what I write or the way I write it. So what the hell is it? Arghhh, it really annoys me.

Is it because there aren't enough hours in the day? I don't think so either. My body decided last night that there were more than enough hours in the day. For some strange and unexplained reason, I could not fall asleep. That is very out of character for me, even if I desperately want to watch something, if my body is tired, I can't help but 'rest' my eyes. But last night? No way. I couldn't fall asleep. Could it be that I was too taken by the 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' which I am reading at the moment and admit that I can't really put down? Could be, but the fact that I love the book didn't stop my eyes from itching and closing the nights previous. So what the hell was it? No idea.

Is it because Noelie takes a lot of time and attention during the day? Not even that. Since she is walking by herself, I have a new found freedom. She doesn't need me to hold her hand for hours on end, walking around the house in circles. She just goes where she wants to go whenever she wants to go there. She is also a big fan of 'In the Night Garden' and will happily sit in front of Cbeebies (I know isn't that evil and bad of me to let her sit in front of the TV watching people in costumes who can't express themselves properly jump up and down) in the evening while I or Mr Foodie get dinner ready.

Is it because I am cooking or baking too much? Not really, practice makes perfect (or so they say) and, despite baking my own bread nearly everyday, I think I have nailed it and as the name implies, it does really only take me 5 minutes to do it. As for cakes, cookies and the likes, it doesn't really take that much time and Marie helps. I admit that sitting in front of the oven watching cakes or bread rise somewhat magically is not a great way to free up time but I embarrassingly admit that I do sit in front of the oven and also the washing machine, especially on a coloured wash, it is just amazing! Beats watching TV anytime, and is seriously not half as depressing as watching the news these days.

So why the hell, can I not manage to have a bit of self discipline and sit down and blog everyday (or nearly everyday)? That remains a mystery.

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