Blogger cliches I don't fall into

The husband is obsessed with tropes and cliches in TV and film, and it's had me thinking for a while about all the blogging cliches, the expectations people have of what bloggers are. The thing is we aren't all like that, not in anyway pointing fingers at those who do. The thing is yeah, a lot of us share things in common but people, and therefore bloggers, come in all shapes and sizes. There's a few things I notice other bloggers go nuts over that I am very much ambivalent about. I might have a cat, way too much stationary, a Harry Potter obsession, and I might use more bath bombs than are healthy, but these... count me out.

Rose Gold

I'd say copper too, but I do actually have a copper coffee set I adore. Its heirloom and from Central America so I let myself off but really, what is the big deal? I guess I've seen the gold obsession, then white gold then platinum ("its more shiny!"?) so to me its just another fashionable metal phase. I know what looks good on me and I like and shiny pink isn't part of it.

Tum Tums

I love disney and pixar as much as any sane person does but collecting these stackable teddy bears is a little too beanie babies for me, I didn't see the point with the beanie babies and I don't now. I'm an adult I'd rather spend the money on holidays and cocktails.

Starbucks, especially Red Cups and Pumpkin Spice

I'll give you the cinnamon rolls but ITS A RED CUP OF REALLY BAD COFFEE. And that's before you put pumpkin spice in it! Sorry guys but for me its hazelnut latte all the way, and not from Starbucks.

Posting mostly blogging advice and sponsored content.

I'd bloody love some freebies don't get me wrong but most of what I write about I pay for - I can count the freebies I've gotten on one hand (dayjob related aside of course). Also blogging tips seems a bit too much like I know what the hell I am doing (I don't) and maybe I'm weird but I want to write, and sometimes all I feel I see from some people is how to get PR contacts and followers and up your numbers. It's just not about that for me.

Yankee Candles, Fairy Lights in the bedroom, Naked Palettes and Cactus'

I have a cat, but otherwise all these things have been jokingly said to me by friends that I can't be a real blogger I don't have X. Sorry I'd rather buy cheap candles from tiger, have lights on my Christmas tree, crazy colour on my face and hair and grow plants that won't try to make me bleed. It just isn't my bag people!

Reality TV Obsessing on Twitter

Bake off & The Apprentice etc are competitions, and if its on Discovery channel I don't count it, but X Factor, Big brother and all of those count me out. Which might sound a bit odd from someone who writes about their life online, but hear me out. Those shows are 99% people who want to be famous, and edited to be really exploitative. It's a caricature of life and I see way too many kids at work that just want to be, or for life to be, like that stuff they see on TV. It's not by any means real, its like watching a car crash in slow motion. Nope, just nope.

Are there things that people expect you to be into and like that really, you just don't get??

Tea Mixology Class with Bluebird Tea

I've become a bit of a tea nut recently, what with my Bluebird Tea obsession and trying to cut back of the caffeine. Apparently tea is what you buy me now that bath bombs are out of the equation, and a month or so back I finally traded in my voucher and did my Tea Mixology Class.

When I went the classes were only held at the store in Brighton, but they've now stared doing them in Bristol and Tunbridge Wells stores too. They do tend to get booked quickly sadly, but it is very enjoyable once you've managed the wait. Drinks flow freely - both in the form of any tea from the tea wall and tea cocktail blends, whichever floats your boat!

The idea of the class is to mix your own tea blends, but in order to do that you need to know the basics of tea first. I found this really interesting as I thought I had an idea but I really had no clue. All "tea" comes from one plant,  Camellia Sinensis, and the different types are to do with the different places they are grown, not different varieties like I thought. I don't know about you but I thought it was a bit like wine - different grape types and all that. Not at all, White, Green, Black, Oolong and Pu-reh tea's are different parts and/or processing techniques of the same plant. Matcha is the same, although we use the name more for the processing method than how its grown, which is how you get Rooibos Matcha. While we think of it as tea, Rooibos and Mate are actually a totally different plant and then of course you have Herbal and Fruit tea's, which are really infusions but that is semantics. A lot of tea tasting (or "slurping") goes on as you learn the differences.

Essentially this class is separated into three parts - the history of tea and learning what they look like and how to identify the different types by sight, tasting the various types of tea and then blending your own. That last one is the real fun. A tea blend needs to have at least two ingredients - a base tea and at least one blending herb. After some recipe ideas and basic guidelines from the lovely Becky and being presented with three bags to make three blends, we were let loose on the counter top full of various tea blending goodies. Each tea gets a label advising how long and at what temperature to brew. There is also 10% off anything you decide to teat yourself with on the day of the class.

Its a hard one to describe in detail, as it is essentially making tea with the addition of being given all about the information on what tea actually is. The experience is good, hands on and instructional, and despite knowing a lot after my six months of tea subscription I still found it interesting to be told the details while also being able to taste what I was told were the defining characteristics of that type. It was really great to identify what it is I like in a tea and then make my own blends that fit that idea.

Were my blends good? Well that is between me and my taste buds, but it was well worth the making and I would recommend it to any tea fan.

Bluebird Tea Mixology Classes are £40, with group discount available.
My class was a family gift, all opinions are my own.

Adopting Pippin

There is a new chief in town right now. He is rather small, jet back and looks a little like Toothless the dragon. He was originally a Pepe, but he definately isn't a wise talking prawn or a Casanova skunk. In fact he can be a little silly so we call him Pippin, because he's "a fool of a took".

We've adopted this gorgeous little chap from our local Cats Protection, which was a really easy process really. It can seem a bit daunting this whole idea of inspections and so on, so it can get how it can just seem easier to look in the local paper and get yourself a kitten that way. In reality it couldn't have been easier. We did try another calling another cat charity first (thinking go with the local guys), and they never called us back so the next call was to Cats Protection and they were great. The first thing is a few questions over the phone and then they get someone to call you back to arrange coming to see you to do the bulk of it. Cat's Protection don't have big central homes like Dog's Trust or others and have their cats in foster homes so there is no place to go and see all the cats. They do put them all on their website thou, so you can have a look at photos and a brief little bio of each kitty.

The visit itself is nothing to be scared of at all, they check out your space and ask you about your lifestyle, pets, kids and so on, as well as asking what you want from your cat. We were probably the most easy going people ever about what we wanted. They get a lot of people wanting kittens and assumed first off that is what we wanted, but I'm a lap cat kinda girl. They also asked us if we wanted a particular colour, as black cats have a hard time getting adopted. Its a bit like matchmaking or online dating, they need to find your matches then see which one you want to date, only in this case its which one to bring home with you. It was super quick, within an hour of the lovely lady coming for our home visit we had two names and phone numbers to call and arrange to meet our matches! All their cats are vaccinated, neutered (or they will do it when they are old enough in the case of kittens) and given a full vet check. Both our matches hadn't had any jabs before they were abandoned and I'm fairly certain hadn't seen a vet either! Our little Pippin had to be checked out for a suspected hernia (which was fine), but they take are of all of that before they re-home the cats, which is why the adoption fee is needed. 

We had two - a cute little thing said to be totally affectionate and cuddly (that I'd seen on their site and LOVED) and one that they described as scared and anxious and afraid of everything. We went to see them both, determined to be fair. We thought it would be hard, in reality it was easy. The lovely affectionate cat would not let us near her, where as the shy little guy came to look at us, and was happy to sit still and let us pet him until he was purring like a little engine. So yeah, he had to come home with us.

And here he is, and one day in he is already happy to lay around snoozing next to me, let and pick him up and tickle his belly. In three weeks the ladies from Cats protection come and check on us all before the adoption is official, but I think this one is a keeper. One day in and everyone is loved up and purring. 

Stop the world, get off the ride.

Why the radio silence for the past three weeks? If you follow me on social media you might have gotten an idea, not that much was there either, but essentially I just got off the ride. 

It's not something I've written about much, but like a lot of bloggers out there I have my mental health issues. Not wanting to seem like another bandwagon jumper or anything like that, and given that before they were pretty much managed and under control it didn't "come up" as such. I wasn't in treatment, I was doing good, except for the whole social phobia. Famous last words really, turned out they came up and bit my ass with a vengeance! So, in the words of the doctor I got off the ride for a few weeks to sort myself out. No work, no nothing really except some baking and lots of Pokemon Go. No sleep either, that one was not the most fun. 

Sometimes getting off the ride is the best thing you can do. I mean, truthfully, my shit is not fixed by any means, but taking a break from everything gets you out of the stream you get dragged through day to day and lets you sort out what you need. There's no flow that is pulling you along, you get off the journey that seems like a never ending swirl of work-home-sleep (or lack of) and really chill and work out what the glitch is that got you into that state again. Have you had this? It's one of those things that I think makes you feel like a failure - you've done this before you should have seen it coming or if you did, should have nipped it in the bug first. I guess that can be even harder to do though. 

A holiday is great but, maybe its me, there is almost a pressure to make the most of a holiday right? When you crumble badly, like I have been, you need to take time but, well this sort of thing isn't a holiday, its a reset. Stop the system, reboot the drive and figure out what went wrong or what was missing. Evaluate and reassess, make the changes you need to make to make you, well to make you "you" again. So maybe you might notice a few changes to stuff, because like all things I did my thinking about all of this too. For starters, you might have noticed that etsy shop is back at the top. I guess what I'm saying is it might be becoming a slightly different fairground now, but hopefully you guys still enjoy the rides. 

On the Rocks - Sloe Vanilla Rum

This is something that has been a permanent fixture on my drinks shelf for a few years now, always at least one bottle in reserve. Now its coming up to Sloe season again I thought it was time to drag it from the back of the shelf and remind everyone of its loveliness. Gin is great, but sometimes you need something different.

It's glorious, with a taunting ruby red colour and, something about it that reminds me of overly thick cordials as a kid. Not the best description but think schnapps in its sweetness, rather than the lightness of a flavoured gin.

Sloe Vanilla Rum

1 standard bottle of white rum (I used value brand)
600g Sloe berries, frozen overnight
250g Vanilla sugar
250g White sugar

In an old fizzy drink bottle (easiest in my experience to store) mix the frozen berries, rum and sugars. Shake every now or then until the sugar is dissolved. Then store somewhere dark, shaking once a week.

On principle I do not decant for 3 months any fruit booze, but I like flavour to punch me in the face. If you prefer a milder flavour you don't need to wait that long. A month will give you a lighter flavour - open the bottle and sample a bit if you are desperate, but I give it three months at least. If I have more than one bottle the others generally don't get drained off until I need to do it.

Adding the berries frozen saves pricking each berry and opens up the skins so you get the great colour.

8 of the best spots in Patagonia

I've been busy gallivanting lately, so please enjoy this guest post. This guest post is written by Frank Lee, he works at Rebateszone, you can follow him @franklee84

Patagonia is a region in southern South America between the Andes and the South Atlantic. It is shared between Chile and Argentina. The area has great geographical diversity relative to its size – there are deserts, grasslands, as well as mountains and steppes and the island of Tierra del Fuego, is often considered a part of Patagonia as well. The population in the area is extremely sparse with less than 2 people in a square kilometer.

The people who see the region in only pictures agree that it looks wild but something they would want to enjoy themselves as well. Anyone who plans to cover the area will have to spend his time hitchhiking and this will lead to the discovery of dozens of glaciers and remote villages which are spread all over the area. There are few places which can leave as memorable an impression as Patagonia.

Cerro Tronador

This trek is located at the northern gateway to Patagonia on the outskirts of Bariloche, Argentina. The distance one would need to cover in order to get to this place is nearly 18 kilometers but it is one of the very few glaciers where you can truly enjoy the breathtaking view of the sunrise. When the glacier melts, small pools and lakes form on top of the rocks. The sunlight reflected by the water in these small temporary pools is a sight to behold.

Chaitén’s Haunting Beach

Have you ever wanted to be at a peaceful place with no one to disturb you in the vicinity where you have all the time in the world for introspection and to think over things you would never find the time elsewhere in your hectic life? If the thought of this sounds fascinating to you then Chaitén’s Haunting Beach should definitely be high in your places to visit in Patagonia. A volcano had erupted in the area in 2008 which burned nearly everything, now the houses buried and ash and eerie remains of the trees adorn the beach. The ash covered beach has attractions of its one and the sunset is extremely unique.

Puyuhuapi’s Bay

Puyuhuapi is a small town on the Chilean side of Patagonia which exists between steep cliffs along the Carretera Austral. The small size of the town makes it a very quiet place which mostly consists of a few small farms, a few campsites, and boats which line the shore. The calm water exudes a sense of tranquility which is very uncommon in the busy lives we’re used to living now. There are ample opportunities to go on fishing or a long walk in the middle of the best that nature has to offer.

Puerto Madryn

There are many places for whale watching in Patagonia but there is no doubt that Puerto Madryn is the best of them all. The water in the area is warm and the enclosed waters are some of the most suitable areas for the breeding of whales. The best time to visit this area in Patagonia is between June and December though. There are trips arranged by many companies for whale-watching which last for nearly an hour and a half on average.

The Marble Caves

The town of Puerto Rio Tranquilo is made famous by these Marble Caves which have been carved out by clear blue lake water and many of these caves are big enough to allow a boat to pass through which gives visitors the chance to see the exquisite formations in a range of colors. This is surely one of the best places to visit in the area. One thing to keep in mind is to have warm waterproof jackets on which you can get at a discounted price from Groupon.

Paleontology Museum Patagonia

Patagonia is an extremely interesting region as it has not just served to humans but to dinosaurs as well. Nearly 1700 fossil remains of plants and animals found in the region are exhibited in the museum and some of which are dated to the age of nearly 40 million years. Not only is the museum an important place to see dinosaur remains in Patagonia but there is a dinosaur route in the northwest of Patagonia which is the place paleontologists believe is a home to the remains of a multitude of beasts.

Condor Lookout

The Condor lookout is a great place to view the sun as it rises. It is located just above El Chaltén and an early morning hike is a great way of reaching the place. The tiring hike will seem worthy of the effort when you see the mountains turn red when the sun hits them.

Refugio Dickson

Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile is considered the crown jewel of Patagonia. It is something of great pride for the residents of Chile and the reasons for this pride become very obvious as soon as you enter the national park. Refugio Dickson is the most beautiful part of the national park and the most tranquil campsite if one ever exists.

Don't know about you guys but I'm ready to pack! 

On the Rocks - Juno Temple

Sometimes a cocktail needs to be a bit vanilla, that is without the booze. The Shirley Temple is the classic example of the virgin cocktail - Ginger ale, Grenadine and with a luminous cherry on top. Good old Shirley has gone through some changes in the 80 odd years since its inception, some people now add orange juice - which makes it a little less sugary sweet. I opted for that version, and also to ditch the cherry. Move over Shirley. , this lady is a bit more 20th century, and given that its almost the colour of her coppery locks, this needed to be known as the Juno Temple.

You Will Need

Collins Glass
3 shots of orange juice
6 shots of ginger ale
1 shot of grenadine
an orange slice

Construction Technique

Fill a Collins glass with ice. Mix the orange juice and ginger ale together, then pour into the glass. Pour over the the grenadine, letting it settle into the "sunset" look. Garnish with an orange slice. I opted to do this long, over ice, but it could work equally well in a martini glass or in some other fancy glass if you like.

I actually really liked this. I'm not an orange juice person but if I'm out and not drinking a St Clements (orange and lemonade) is my usual go to in the pub to avoid that caffeine. This is similar, but the ginger is a nice almost spicy touch, Also has the vibe of a proper drink - definitely not just for kids.