Saturday, April 25, 2015

And the winner is...

The day has finally dawned, I am about to count up the votes and declare the winners of the Alternative blog awards.

Bored of the election this has been a diversion from politics, so let's see who gets what after the ballot boxes are emptied and the receiving officer has double counted the tatty voting slips...

First the Under 16 category
The winner is A 15 year old with a dream of becoming an astronautical engineer - email me for your prize! (a £10 amazon voucher, you'll have to blog about what you spend it on!)

Blogger you'd most like to take home? Well of course there were lots of great bloggers suggested but this one stole your hearts, yes, its the  friendly MotherScuffer at who wins the beautiful art work from Lovelace Paper Cuts

The award for the funniest blog based on urine output of readers goes to who has mostly been ranting lately but still managing to keep it witty - well done and enjoy your lovely glass from Flamingo Gifts

The slacker award and the prize of a watch from CherryDiva (to remind you to blog!) goes to who needs to up her game by the sound of it, have a read, comment, nag her.

Prize for the 'Wordy Blogger' (an amazing Tripe fan club membership!) is the well deserved who does indeed waffle a bit - go read the waffle! Well done Sir, I shall need your details to send on to Sir Norman's secretary.

Next up - the Unmissable - and the very worthy winner is the super MotherScuffer at - a perfectly lovely blog, full of the ups and downs of life. Congratulations. You have won a super prize from Nothing but Tea.
And last (and almost certainly least) the blogger who should know better - this award obviously won by though I doubt he will learn from this. His prize is a book of interesting things by Greg Jenner. (This prize sponsored by me - so I might send him something else, like porn or a childrens joke book...we shall see)
Email me at tatmummy @ gmail . com with your details so I can pass them on to the lovely companies who are supplying the prizes...

Well done everyone, and thanks to all that voted.

A badge for your blog - wear it proudly.

Tattooed Mummy's Randoms

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten Smoothie Making Tips

I use a Smoothie2Go smoothie maker that was a gift. I like it because it’s simple, cheap and easy to clean, so it hasn’t been used once and ignored! Summer is coming and I’m feeling fruity! I thought you might be too so here are my top ten smoothie making tips.
Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

  • Use recipes. If you are new to smoothies don’t be scared to follow someone else’s plan. Once you get used to making them you’ll get more adventurous, but at the start, before you are sure which fruits complement each other, use some recipes.

  • Use a cheaper juice as the liquid. Smoothie makers smooth and blend fruit into a liquid but they need some liquid to start with! Use common juices as a base, orange, pineapple, apple. Later when you try new things branch out into coconut, cranberry or guava.

  • Don’t add ice. Some people will suggest you add ice when blending to cool the smoothie, don’t. Ice just dilutes the smoothie and might stop the fruits blending. If the fruit is very warm the ice will melt even faster and not make a noticeable difference. Try using a chilled ‘base juice’

  • Use frozen berries and fruit. Perfect to make a frozen smoothie but without ice! Buy a bag of frozen berries in the supermarket and you’ll always have fruit on hand for a smoothie. Or freeze your own when it’s in season.

  • Add alcohol to a frozen smoothie. Make your own exotic cocktail (over 18s only) to drink on a sunny day or after work …mmmmm… almost healthy.

  • Smoothies are best made and drunk fresh. Storing them is OK but they can separate or change colour as the fruit acids oxidise. Short term storage won’t hurt you but kids might be put off by the ‘weird’ look. So try and drink them fresh.

  • Use milk and yogurt sometimes instead of (or with) fruit. Lots of recipes for more filling smoothies are out there. Ice cream is another fun dairy based addition, mix and match some flavours and make your own thick shakes. Honey is good as a sweetener for both milk and fruit based drinks.

  • Warm smoothies are nice! You can make warm smoothies using milk bases and oats, apple, honey and cinnamon for example, tastes like apple pie! Delicious, and great for bedtime.

  • Buy some smoothie straws. Ordinary straws are too narrow for smoothies. ‘Bits’ will get stuck in the straw and the power you need to suck a thick juice up a thin straw is surprising! Buy a box of wider smoothie straws, and maybe long spoons for those really thick frozen smoothies.

  • Once you are used to the proportions of fruit/frozen fruit/juice or milk etc, take some risks and try your own recipes. Try some of your favourite fruits together. Experiment with tinned fruits too. Some fruits are more watery and bland than others, you need very few raspberries to add flavour but most strawberries are tasteless for example (in my opinion) Fruit that is getting past its best is great in a smoothie…bananas looking over ripe? Make a banana ice cream smoothie!

Good luck – Do you have a favourite recipe to share?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

How to choose a new book or a new author

small room full of books library
After reading a comment on facebook I was put into a thoughtful mood about how I (and maybe other people) choose a new author to read. I realise we are all different, so I’m really writing about me and what I find, I’d love you to comment if you agree or not though! I am happy to hear other ideas.

I don’t usually go for hyped books, big posters tend to make me shy away, grand advertising campaigns and movie tie ins usually (though not always) turn me off of a book. I don’t read any news papers so review pages there don’t even get a look in.

But I often buy books, I love to read real paper so while I do have a Kobo reader and have various reading apps on my iPad and Android devices, paper wins for me. I like to have signed books too – and you can’t sign a Kobo.

So with that in mind I prefer to browse a book store or a library than the digital world, and I often judge a book by its cover! I found the fabulous Elizabeth is Missing in just such a way, but the reason I was in the book shop at all was because a friend on twitter had suggested I read a specific book.

Finding books for me is based on a few things and while I love to browse a book shop I think I find more ideas via social media than anywhere else. I use Goodreads, a really useful site where people share their thoughts on books (although you do have to watch for spoilers – some people seem clueless in how to write a review without revealing vital plot points! I could write a whole other post on that subject I think) I also use Amazon reviews, where again spoilers can be an issue, coupled with people that use the review section to complain about their delivery driver.

The main issue with these sites is that while they do offer a few ideas they don’t really sell a book to you and so you just see book after book of the sort you already read. To find a really new book or author I prefer twitter. I love to find an author and follow them there, find insights into their daily life and the book writing process, to see a book gradually created and then finally the day of publication.

I will often buy books based on what can only be described as a ‘buy my book’ tweet. Not the awful automated Direct Messages that fakely welcome you for a follow and by the way BUY MY BOOK, but the more friendly and personal sort of tweet that says something like, “I’m so excited, I’m finally a published author I can’t wait for you to read ….” Or “If you like stories about ……. And …… then I think you’d love my book ….” Etc and of course the offer of free books or signed books is great too.

Because the thing about social media is that it’s …well, sociable. An author that chats to his or her fans and new followers alike can rapidly find a group of friendly people not only willing to read a new book, but to actively promote it on social media too, often for free. No one forces you to follow anyone on twitter so an author’s followers are people that are already keen, an almost captive market! And an author that can engage, be witty, be friendly, AND promote their book will have eager buyers and equally important will have people keen to retweet and share.

On twitter I follow several publishers and book sellers that offer regular competitions but also information on new authors. I use Facebook too, but am less active there as it seems more cluttered with games and adverts and weird videos.

So I think the way I really find new books is by suggestions and recommendations on social media (blog links to reviews are my favourite) and by authors who converse with their readers on social media, and by covers that grab my attention when I go down to the book shop to get the books that have been suggested!

Of course we all have favourite authors and buying their new book is a given, but how do you choose new books, new authors?

And authors, does it work? Do you find social media drives sales? Or is it just me?

Stuck for ideas on what to read next? My brother has just published a book...just saying

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Written in the Stars by Ali Harris - Book Review

I had vowed to read more and tweet less this year, I'm not sure how that is going if I'm honest but I have managed a few books so far.

Written in the Stars by Alli Harris - Book Review
I started this one after a couple of reads that had left me rather tearful, they had both been about old age and life changes and sad dark pasts so it was with some excitement I started reading Written in the Stars by Ali Harris. It looked like just the thing, something light and fluffy, about young people, romance, futures.

As I like to do I immediately checked to see if Ali Harris was on twitter, I love the ability to see what your favourite authors are up to and to send them messages, getting a reply is just amazing. I am a self confessed 'author-groupie' so following authors on twitter is the best thing (after following bearded men...bearded authors.....mmmmmm ... sorry where were we..).

Right, yes, so I found that Ali did indeed have a twitter account and I told her I hoped her book would cheer me.

Well, the story is a 'sliding doors' style 'what if' sort of book and it started cheerily enough. Light and fluffy as I wanted but soon it became obvious that there was something darker in the history of the characters and the excellent writing began to tease and draw the reader (me) in.

 "as her wedding day approaches, her years of indecision are weighing heavily on her, and she can't help but wonder, 'What if, what if, what if….'
What if she hadn't upped sticks and moved to London? What if she hadn't grabbed the first job that came along and settled down with the first guy who showed an interest? But all of her questions are silenced when she slips while walking down the aisle and is knocked unconscious. In this split second her life splits into two: in one existence, Bea flees back down the aisle and out of the church. In the other she glides blissfully towards her intended."

The book initially spent a chapter on one side of the split life and one on the other, alternating so that each life mirrored the other, this made the story easy to follow but as the book continued the alternate chapter idea became less pronounced and sometimes 2 chapters followed one story. This initially threw me a bit but only because I'm a lazy reader, or maybe Ali hoped to trick us? Whichever it was I soon got back into the swing of things and found the story moving and gripping.

Is Bea's marriage happy? Is she happy single? Who can she live without and who can she love? Can her mum love her as she needs to be loved? and what of Bea's job, will she find the perfect job when single, or when married?

There were constant twists and turns as the two alternate 'what if' lives of our heroine gradually marched toward their inevitable conclusion.

It did make me cry. There were some deep and dark past memories for several key characters that were brought gasping to the surface. And the way that the characters could grasp the nettles of the past and move on to a new and calmer garden was beautiful. Friendship, love and family, as well as confidence, strength, growth and individuality seemed to be the themes of the book.

And my mixed water and plant metaphors in the paragraph above? Deliberate, water and gardening are big themes throughout the story.

I hope I've intrigued you without giving away any spoilers. A deceiving book, with more depth than its cover hints at. Well worth a read.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Vote for your favourite Blogs in the Alternative Blog Awards!

Nominations are all in, those that qualify have been sorted and now I can reveal...the choices.

Remember that each Category has a prize, so please vote. Your favourite blogger, or a blogger you have only just discovered could be the winner of a fabulous life changing gift*

 (*disclaimer - gifts are not life-changing)

Prize for the Under 16 Category is a £10 Amazon Voucher.

Prize for the wordy blogger is Membership to the Tripe Fan club, valued at £28

Prize for the unmissable blogger is from Nothing but Tea and is a gift set with Gawain tasting cup and Super Green Bai Mu Dan tea

survey solution

Prize for the blogger you want to take home is a gorgeous LoveLace Paper cut of a howling wolf

Prize for Blogger who made me laugh is a super wine glass from Flamingo Gifts

Prize for slacker award is a watch from Cherry Diva 

Prize for blogger who should know better a copy of the educational 'A million years in a day' by Gregg Jenner.

Voting closes at some point....tbc

Grab the button to add to your blog and beg ask people to vote for you

Tattooed Mummy's Alternative Blog Awards