My April #AtoZChallenge Update

Hey folks. It has been a busy month! Typical that I would choose this time to commit to the #AtoZChallenge, when I have had the Easter holidays, full time child care, various personal distractions, and the burning desire to write more and more and more…

#AtoZChallenge 2015

#AtoZChallenge 2015

Anyway, if you haven’t been keeping up with my blog challenge over on my author blog, I urge you to pop over there now and take a look. The posts are all about supernatural themes in the Redcliffe novels, from character traits, to scenic importance, to everything magical and mysterious. You won’t be disappointed!

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My Love-Hate Relationship with Pinterest

How many of you waste many hours browsing Pinterest, pinning photos and pictures of things that you like the look of, ideas you could use at home, recipes, fashion inspiration, holiday suggestions and the like? *Holds up my hand.* Yes, I am a Pinterest addict. It becomes quite a problem at times, and I have had to reign it in a little. But it is like all the other social media networks. Once you start, you simply cannot stop. Especially when they send you emails with suggestions of boards you might like to look at, and pins you may not have seen yet. I can never quite bring myself to cancel the email subscription…

I realised recently just what a lie Pinterest actually is. I have been looking for ideas to help me improve the storage situation in my home. We live in a reasonably sized two-bed terraced house. We are rapidly outgrowing it, but we are not in a position to be able to move to a larger house, or to extend and renovate our current one, which it desperately needs. You see, our house is old. It was built in 1896, and I think it was a former railway worker’s cottage. We have two double bedrooms, but one is filled with a single bed and a cot, and both still have the old chimney breast in place, which affects the space we have for furniture. So, something like this pin, for example, could never really work in my house:


And then there is the downstairs. We have a living/dining room that resembles more of a playroom and general rubbish heap at the moment. There are toys everywhere, and as much as I try and put them upstairs in the girls’ bedroom, they keep finding their way back down again. We seem to be overrun by shoes that will not stay in the cupboard I have allocated, and our only space for the pushchair is in a corner of our living room, since we have no proper shed or garage that we could use, and we have no front garden or porch. It makes no sense for me to fold down the pushchair because we use it every day, and it is a cumbersome item to wrestle with. And we still have the highchair in use, which also takes up half of the room. Sigh.

Finally, there is my kitchen. It is tiny, because back in the old days, they didn’t have appliances, plastic tableware, an assortment of cooking implements, and packets, bottles and tins of food to store. Now my kitchen is stuffed full, and try as I might, I simply cannot get rid of any more stuff. I could make use of a food mixer, but I have nowhere to store it, so for now I have to use a whisk when we do baking. I would love a coffee machine, but again, there is no space. I received a George Foreman grill for Christmas a while back, and I have to move it around the kitchen, and sometimes out to the dining room table, just to clear enough space to prepare food or do what is required. I saw this idea for a laundry space on Pinterest recently, and although it looks beautiful and clean and efficient, it is a lie!


I don’t even have room for a laundry zone in my house. We have a washing machine squashed into the kitchen, a washing line in the back garden that extends out into our shared alleyway, and when the weather is bad, my clothes fill up a folding airer in our bedroom. But you know what? I finally realise that it doesn’t matter. Pinterest simply gives us ideas. It gives us something to aspire to. I admit, for a while I was feeling quite depressed that I couldn’t recreate these beautiful, clean, fresh house ideas. But then I remembered, I have young children. My house will not be clean and tidy for at least another two years yet. But it is clean enough for us to live in. We have fun. We love each other. We are healthy. We are happy. So I will reserve Pinterest as a suggestion for the future, when I can afford a larger house and keep it in just the way I would like. The possibilities are endless…

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The Beauty of North Wales

During the Easter holidays I was fortunate to have a short break away with friends. We found a caravan site in North Wales that was family friendly, and we took our children to the seaside. The weather miraculously improved, and we spent a glorious few days outside, exploring the coast around Llandudno. Here are a few of my favourite photos…

DSC_0966 DSC_0970 DSC_1001 DSC_1003 DSC_1004 DSC_1005 DSC_1010 DSC_1025 DSC_1030 DSC_1050 IMG-20150410-WA0045 IMG-20150410-WA0080

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Are You a Tactical Voter? Or is it Time to Change? #Election2015

I must admit I am a little excited about the General Election in the UK this year. Politics has always been something of a mystery to me. When I was younger I didn’t understand it at all. My parents told me I should vote because it is important, and I always have done, but try as I might, none of it seemed to make much sense. I think perhaps I never really considered the importance of policies and practices. I mean, I drifted from high school into college, all paid for, and then I went to university, blithely ignoring the huge debt I had accepted in order to continue my education. I thought that everything would be fine and I would walk into a well-paid job once I was a graduate.

Well, I was completely wrong, and very naïve. I know that now. Since graduating I have taken a lot more notice of politics, I have tried to learn more about what each party is offering, and my voting has reflected that. Up until this point I have been what is known as a tactical voter. In the UK we are ruled by two major parties: Labour and the Conservatives. None of the others ever really had a look in when it comes to running the country and taking important seats in parliament. So, back in 2010, I used my vote tactically, and I am sorry to say that yes, I did vote Conservative, because I honestly thought they could make an improvement in my life. They didn’t.

Signpost, political parties

Now I have made a decision. I will not be voting tactically in the 2015 general election. From what I see in the media, voting and politics is finally becoming something that is relevant to our younger generation. Students in particular are speaking out, learning about politics, and making their own decisions about their lives. That didn’t happen when I left school. We were the lost generation, if you like. We didn’t take an interest, and we were not really encouraged to do so. Government was run by posh men in suits, down in the faraway capital city, and had no real relevance in our lives. Or so we thought.

At the moment I am leaning towards voting for the Green Party. I always liked their ideas, but I thought they were too small a party to really make a difference in parliament. However, since the emergence of UKIP, and of course the coalition government, the game has opened up dramatically. I believe that more people are considering politics than ever before, and these people are prepared to make a real change in their lives and those of their peers. Will you be voting in the general election? Please, do share your insight. We need to discuss politics, civilly and honestly, so that we can all broaden our horizons and make the right decisions for ourselves.

*Signpost image courtesy of University College London Union

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It Was Like Waiting for Exam Results… #SchoolAdmissions

Yesterday was an important one for parents with preschool children in the UK. It was the day we discovered which school our little darlings will be attending in September. Now, I had vague experience of this momentous event a couple of years ago with some of my friends. I saw their anguish, I heard about their decisions, about why they thought this school or that school would be more suitable, and then their anxiety followed by elation on the day they received their results. But I didn’t really understand it.

Now, I totally understand it! We received our official letter from the local learning authority late last year, informing us that now was the time to choose a school for our children. I began to feel a bit emotional. My little girl was too young for school. Then she began to act out a bit, went through a phase of tantrums, and I thought, yeah, she is so ready for school now, I need a break! So I made arrangements to visit our three local primary schools. Fortunately for us, all of the schools in our small town have achieved a good Ofsted rating in recent years, so we couldn’t really make a poor decision.


My daughter visited the schools. We already knew a few children attending some of them. Our next door neighbour, my daughter’s role model and adopted big sister, is at the worldly age of 9 (almost 10), and my daughter was very excited to visit her school. We then decided it wasn’t quite right for us, however. We settled on a school within easy walking distance, where a few of my daughter’s friends from preschool started their education last year. Most of our friends decided to apply for the same school, so we were in good company. On the day I pressed ‘send’ to the online application, I felt a few butterflies in my tummy. And then the waiting began.

I had a fleeting notion than perhaps I could consider home schooling my children. My husband was not amenable to that suggestion. And I decided that perhaps he is right. I want to ensure my children can socialise while they are at school, and expose them to activities that we wouldn’t otherwise do. Like sports, for example. I am not exactly into sports. The most we do is an occasional visit to the swimming pool. But if my daughter were to take interest in a particular sport at school, then I would support her in it at home. There are other reasons as well, so school it is. And we received our result yesterday morning. We got our first choice, and my daughter will know almost every child in her reception class. Hooray! Now I have a few months of precious time with her before our routine changes again… pass the tissues, I have something in my eye!

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I’m a Versatile Blogger Award Winner!

I returned from my holiday this weekend to discover that I have been nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award by my author friend S. C. Skillman. Thank you very much! S.C. Skillman is the author of Mystical Circles, and she is a historian and spiritual enthusiast, which provides excellent content for her blog, along with delightful, colourful photographs.

My blogging journey has been one of peaks and troughs during the past five years. When I first started out, I really had no idea what to do with my blog. It was very much a learn-as-you-go process. I like to think that now it is more settled, more streamlined, and conveys the message and energy that I intend to display. I decided to focus my SpookyMrsGreen blog on my daily life experiences as a young mother, a freelance writer, and a spiritual adventurer. You might also like to read my author blog, Paranormal Author Catherine Green, which is far more focused on books and writing, and this month is the platform for the #AtoZChallenge.


As per the rules of accepting the Versatile Blogger Award, I will now share links to some blogs that I follow, and that I would like you, my readers and friends, to check out if you are not already familiar with them.

Alex Laybourne – The Prince of Horror. I have nominated Alex previously for a blog award, but I find his work both entertaining, informative, and accessible. We are both young parents with growing families (him more than me!), and we are both exploring the world of publishing and becoming bestselling authors in our respective genres.

Brummy Mummy of 2 – I discovered Emma’s blog less than a month ago, and already I feel like we are kindred spirits. She writes about her experiences as a mother, and her account of child rearing is both hilarious and terrifying.

So You Want to Be a Writer? – This is a blog I found only recently, through the #AtoZChallenge. I am keen to read more, and follow Inger on her journey to authorhood.

Gareth S. Young – Another blog that is new to me. I also found Gareth via the #AtoZChallenge, and I like what I see on his blog.

Kate Surfs – I think I may have nominated Kate before, and I am not sure that she participates in blog awards, but hey-ho, hers is a blog that I follow regularly, and one that I recommend to my parent friends. She offers practical advice, a holistic approach to parenting, and makes me feel a whole lot better about the way I educate my children.


And now, I am to share 7 things about me that you might not already know. Here goes!
1. I have two pet turtles, originally named Duck and Ashton, but now renamed Topsy and Tim by my daughter.

2. I like collecting trinkets. My collections are small at the moment, since my house is overcrowded, but I like having things in boxes. You know, coins, badges, Tarot cards, etc. Oh, and I have Whimsy ornaments and thimbles that have followed me from childhood.

3. I love dolls’ houses. We currently have three in our small house, and I dream of the day when I can once again own a proper wooden Victorian or Edwardian style house that will be a collector’s piece, and not a toy. We do have a wooden dolls’ house, but it is a very popular toy, and has the scars to prove it.

4. My work uniform includes pyjamas and a big, red, cuddly dressing gown. OK, I may have shared this detail before, but never mind!

5. My husband is a Chartered Waste Manager, and a real-life ‘Swampy.’ That means I have to explain everything that I dare to throw in our general waste bin, and I spend a lot of time washing out sweet wrappers (yes, really!), jars, bottles, foil pie cases and crisp packets so that they can be recycled. And I fight a constant battle to remove piles of used batteries, broken toys, worn out clothes and shoes. My husband hates to throw things out. Because, you know, they might come in useful one day!

6. I have a rare genetic eye disorder called Lymphodoema Distichiasis. Even my doctors look at me blankly when I tell them. I am a long-term patient at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital. They can’t discharge me because the condition is, so far, incurable. It basically means that I live in pain most days, my vision is slightly blurry, and my eyes do not produce enough tears due to excessive scarring on my corneas. Despite this, I live a normal life. Well, normal for me, anyway.

7. I have not lived a glamorous life, but it is a happy one. The furthest I have lived away from home is mid Wales. I come from a small town near Stoke-on-Trent. I lived in Manchester for a while, and now I live just across the border in South Cheshire.


And now, for my fellow nominees:

Please thank the person who nominated you for the award.
Include a link to their blog.
Select several blogs that you follow.
Nominate these bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
Share 7 items of interest about yourself.

Full details about the Versatile Blogger Award can be found on the official website.

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I’m Currently Out of Office… #AtoZChallenge

Ha ha, couldn’t resist that for a title! I bet it got your attention, didn’t it? I haven’t used that standard email response since I worked for an international logistics company five years ago. My, how things change…

Elliot and Mummy Paddling - Big

 Anyway, this is a brief (and pre-scheduled message) to say that I am on holiday, but please pop over to my author blog and see my latest daily installment on the #AtoZChallenge. Go on, I dare you! See you soon folks.

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