Super Single Mum's Blog

Life and all the shananigins!

Not another iPhone review!!!

Ok I’m sure most of you have read about the iPhone, seen it on the news and no doubt many of you own one. I got mine just over a month ago and here’s why I love it……

Internet access on the iPhone is my favourite thing. No matter where I go I have access to any site I want. Ok I use the usual; Facebook, twitter, emails – but I have the whole net in my pocket. And the quality of the screen is fantastic. I did wonder when I got it how much I would use the net because on my old phone I had access but even with WiFi it was slow and pointless.

The next thing I love are the variety of apps available. I’ve only used free ones to now but I am able to access networking sites and my blog ( this post. Is being written from my iPhone!). On top of all that I can access my mobile account, see cinema listings, shop on eBay and amazon, pretend my phone is a light saber and even track the planets of our solar system!!! I think I am a true geek at heart after all!

Now one of my big reasons for not getting an iPhone before was the camera. I love the fact that with camera phones I always have a camera on me and my last phones camera was 8.1 mega pixels which was great. But I decided not too long ago to save up for a decent camera and so my phone would just be a backup. I have the iPhone 3GS and the camera is a much lower spec with no flash. That said, I’m not disappointed at all. It is crystal clear and to be honest I don’t notice much difference in quality, in fact I would say when zooming in the quality is better. What I really like though is that when I take pictures and then view them, there is also the added bonus that it knows where you were when you took the photo!! Like I said I am realising what a geek I actually am!

Oh yeah and it’s an iPod too, which means all my music is in one place and it connects to all the stuff I already have!

On the down side, I’m not impressed with the battery life. I am generally having to charge it every day and that’s not something I am used to having to do. In truth though that is most probably because I leave the WiFi switched on and use it a hell of alot. There are apps that claim to improve battery life but I have no idea if they are worth buying.

All in all I am really impressed which is good seeing as I am tied into my contract for 24 months. I’d love to hear from anyone who has found other brill app’s or tips on how to improve battery life! I really do feel like the whole world is at my finger tips now………

………..BUT, on the flip side it’s also got me thinking, is it all too much? Do we all rely on a virtual world too much now? If this much attention was put into “real life” would the world be a better place? What do you think?

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August 31, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment | , , | 2 Comments

Harlen Coben – Play Dead

It should have been the happiest time of her life. But Laura Ayers’ honeymoon turned into a nightmare when her sports superstar husband went for a swim – and never returned.

Whilst struggling to cope with her almost overwhelming grief, Laura is plagued by questions and doubts. Was it an accident? Or suicide? Or is it some terrible, ill-judged hoax? As events unfold, Laura starts to question David’s mysterious disappearance. She begins to uncover a conspiracy which reaches deep into the past, and is now slowly beginning to destroy everyone involved. Someone will do anything to keep Laura away from the awful truth – and she has no idea who she can trust…….”

This is the first Harlen Coben book I have read. I find it really hard to find books that I enjoy, I don’t know why but it’s always been the case. Romantic stories and Chic Lit don’t appeal and after draining the Vampire fiction market I had to find something else!

I wasn’t disappointed. This is one of Coben’s early stories that hasn’t until now been published and he hasn’t edited from his original. This made me a little wary as his introduction starts with “Okay, if this is the first book of mine you’re going to try, stop now. Return it. Grab another. It’s okay, I’ll wait.” Oh dear, I thought! If a book doesn’t grab me in it’s opening 100 pages I don’t finish it – an awful habit I know but life is too short!!! So I was prepared for this to be one of those.

How wrong could I have been. Coben’s writing constantly has you guessing and there are twists, turns and somersaults throughout the book. I won’t go into the plot more than the synopsis above, but right from word go there are questions you’re dying to know the answers to. I have to say I got one of the twists early on, but once I’d finished the book I realised I was probably meant to! It was such an easy to read story that I got lost in it sometimes, but then isn’t that how a good book should be?

I loved this story and it has everything, love, deceit, crime, trust, friendship……it even made me shed a tear a couple of times. Coben builds the characters well, even the ones we’re not sure we should be feeling sympathy towards. They jump from the pages as people who could be real and I loved that. It’s also written from many perspectives, so you get into the minds of everyone involved throughout the story and I liked that. The great thing was, there was no confusion. Coben’s work flows in such a way that you really get to learn what makes each character tick.

So my recommendation is simple, whether you’ve read his work before or not give this one a go. If I managed to read it in under a week then that means it’s good! Let me know what you think? Oh and if you’ve read any of his others I’d love to hear some recommendations of where to go next because I think I’ve just found a new author to add to my list of favourites!

August 26, 2010 Posted by | Book Reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Dead And Gone

No, no don’t worry – no one has died, well, no one real anyway!!!

 

I’m talking about the book I last read! I finished it last night and Dead and Gone is the 9th Book in the True Blood series, the final one currently available. So I thought I would take some time to review the series so far…..

 

If you haven’t read the books, you may know a bit about them from the TV series. Currently showing Season 2 on FX and approaching the release of Season 3 in the states it has been very popular! Why? Well it’s more than Vampires in my opinion!

 

The title True Blood takes it’s name from the synthetic blood that has made it possible for the Vampire community to “come out of the coffin” so to speak. The story follows Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress from Bon Temps. We start the story with Sookie, and the small town, receiving it’s 1st Vampire since they came out 2 years previously. But Sookie is no ordinary waitress, she is also telepathic and is drawn towards Bill the Vampire because she realises she can’t read his mind and relishes the silence that radiates from him.

 

As you can imagine, there are lots of twists and turns and Sookie and Bill form a friendship that turns to love and sees Sookie running for her life at the end of the 1st book, Dead Until Dark. But if you think this is just another Vampire Romance, think again. There is something in this series for everyone, although it’s definitely not for the younger ones! A lot of comparisons are made between Sookie and Bella of Twilight, but I am not going to do that. I personally think both stories are fantastic but the ONLY comparison that can be made is that both contain Vampires and Shapeshifters. There the similarities end.

 

True Blood is currently 9 books, with Book 10 – Dead in The Family – released on June 11th 2010. The fact that the series is so long and has such avid followers is, in my opinion, down to the fact it contains a lot of details. The characters are developed right through the series and and there is always a new twist. But, the thing I love is that each of the books is a story in it’s own right. I personally have read them all, in order. But if you wanted to dip in and out you could. I would recommend reading the lot though because that was the authors intention.

 

As with the TV series, these books contain action, romance, sex (a friend of mine referred to the TV series as “Vampire Porn”!), comedy and an underlying story of life. It covers the changing relationships between the whole community of Bon Temps and I for one am now counting down to the release of the next book! Oh and the arrival of Season 2 DVD which is released today and on it’s way from Amazon!

 

If you’re put off by the word Vampire, please don’t be, I would recommend this series to everyone who enjoys a good dip into sheer escapism. The series even made my cousin ask me whether I thought in a few years the Vampires may really come out………….I love it on paper, but real life is good the way it is! Let me know what you think if you have read these!

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Book Reviews | , , , | 2 Comments

Patience Grows with Age!

When I started my blog about 2 months ago, I also wrote my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days and I have been doing really well at crossing things off. I haven’t mentioned it for a while because what with starting work time just hasn’t been on my side. But don’t worry I am still working towards them!!

 

So last weekend the girls were meant to be with Daddy for the weekend, but due to the Volcanic Ash Cloud, he didn’t make it back in time. It meant however, that I had no plans as to what we would do with our weekend. I had to go to the local Warehouse store to get some craft bits and pieces for work and, wait for it, I bought paint! Oh no hang on, I mean for MY girls not for work!!! Yep, I decided the time had come that I would brave letting the girls do painting at home!!! Guess what, yep, they loved it. B was in shock that I was letting them do it and H spent the whole afternoon saying “painting”!!

 

The thing that really got me though, wasn’t the fact that it made a mess, because it didn’t. It wasn’t the fact that I didn’t have a clue how to help them to do it, because I let them both take the lead. The thing that was surprising was the amount of patience I had with the whole activity and it got me wondering if that’s just an age thing or if it’s another sign of how I have changed in a person over the years. To show what I mean, when B was the age H is now, I went to work part time and she went to nursery. This is no different with H, although my working pattern now is much more family friendly. I didn’t work weekends, again that’s the same now. We lived hundreds of miles away from family with mountains and the sea all within 10 minutes of us. However, when it came to doing kid things with B, like crafts and painting, I just had no patience at all.

Ok since then a lot has changed and I am not even going to begin to try and pinpoint why things have changed in this area, but we now play with playdough, moon sand, painting, drawing. We don’t just do these activities but all three of us love it! Maybe it’s because it is second time round too. I do feel guilty now when I pull out the craft stuff and B is trying things for the 1st time with H, yet H will grow up with these activities always having been in her life!!

 

As you can see from the pictures we had a few different things to use with the paints. Of course there were brushes, but as well we had sponges and some plastic cutlery. Now back when B was little I wouldn’t have even had the imagination to use these different objects in a painting session! And the pictures the girls did now have pride of place on the kitchen door!

 

So anyone out there who shies away from doing such craft activities at home, give it a go. Honestly the negatives that put you off are nothing compared to the enjoyment you will get from it! Make sure you put down newspaper or a plastic sheet to protect the table, and if you have a carpet then maybe a plastic sheet to protect that too. If it’s laminate flooring, well I took the risk and the few paint splashes washed off easily. Real worst case scenario the kids end up in the bath, so just make sure you allow time for this just in case!! If I can do it and enjoy it then so can you!!

April 21, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment, My 101 Things | , | 7 Comments

New Moon Baby!!!

I can’t quite believe it has taken me 4 days to get to writing this but better late than never! Monday saw the release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon on DVD and BluRay. Now any Twihards reading this already know that this hit the cinemas back in November, and many like me will have been to see the film on the big screen for a few showings! I only managed 2 but some fans went 5 or 6 times! I have decided however to do this review for those of you who may not be hooked on the Saga, who haven’t read the books and want to know what the film is like as a film rather than, dare I say it, a cult!

The film picks up from the first film Twilight, where in effect the scene is set and the main characters introduced. Set in Forks, WA, we meet Bella who is new to town after moving in with her Dad, Charlie. She falls in love with the gorgeous Edward Cullen and the first film is predominantly about her finding out Edward and his family are vegetarian Vampires.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2 Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [2009]

New Moon opens with a dream scene, where Bella believes she is introducing her Grandma (who has passed), to her Vampire boyfriend Edward. This then transpires to be Bella looking in a mirror and, having reached old age, is clearly upset by the fact her Edward is still youthful and the same as when they first met. This leads in to the key theme that Bella wants to become a Vampire to enable her to no longer age and to spend eternity with her love. In fact, within 24 hours of this dream her world is turned upside down when Edward leaves and Bella has no contact with him and his family. Without giving too much away for those who don’t know the story, she turns to her childhood friend, Jacob Black. Their friendship builds over the course of the film and Bella is in turmoil trying to work out if she should wait for her Vampire true love to return, or give in to the reliable and seemingly “normal” Jacob.

The story this time round is not about finding love, but about heartbreak and the difficulties that brings. It deals with friendship dynamics changing and having to face the future which had been clear-cut, yet now full of uncertainty. For anyone who is sceptical about the Vampires who can go out in the sunshine and just sparkle, I say look beyond that because underneath is a fantastic story about relationships in all shapes and sizes.

The film itself is full of fantastic special effects. We are introduced to the wolf pack in this film and I have to say, the transitions from man to wolf were convincing and the eyes of the wolves held true emotion. The fight scene with the Vampires is well choreographed and fast paced. For the die hard fans, this is what Twilight should have been like, but for anyone after a great film to watch, this fits the bill too. It’s 2 hours long but it gets going early on and your not sat wondering when the action will start. Another plus is the script has stayed true to the book. I’m not going to pick apart anything that was missed out, or done wrong, because I am reviewing the film here – but with Twilight I found it made more sense having read the book. Not this time. My 7 year old daughter understood this film much better with no questions as to what was going on. I do think that was an important mistake from first time round that the new director has addressed well.

For anyone who watched the first film and were not convinced, I say give Twilight another shot because New Moon is action packed whilst still putting across the original message of the book.

March 25, 2010 Posted by | Film Reviews | , | Leave a comment

And so the Hype Begins Again!!!

Ok, for those of you who know me you will know my main 2 passions in my life are my kids and my current fascination with Vampires! So I couldn’t leave it unsaid that tomorrow the trailer for the next Twilight film “Eclipse” will be released, but we have been given a 10 second sneak peak today and I have to share it!!!

Anyone else excited about this new film coming out in the summer?

March 10, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , , | Leave a comment

Our 1st Family Craft Day

I love crafting. I enjoy card making – just don’t get as much time as I would like. Over the image years I’ve done various different things. Crafting with the kids is something I’ve always had issues with though. Why? Because I get frustrated they don’t do it "right". However, after conversations with other mum’s and reading other blogs I realised that crafting can be fun even when letting the kids take the lead!image

First up was playdough…..homemade at one of the workshops at the local Children’s Centre, away we went!image

 

The recipe was really simple :

2 Cups Flour, 1 Cup Salt, 2 Tablespoon Cream Of Tartar mixed together, then add 2 Cups Boiling Water, 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil and Food Colouring and mix well.

I’ll be honest I had seen recipes before which involve boiling it all in a pan etc, but this was so simple I would definitley do it again. The girls both enjoyed it, H took her time to touch it, I plonked a piece in front of her and she poked at it with the chopsticks and spoons, but didn’t hold it till I passed her a piece and then she was well away. B on the other hand was straight in their. Neither of them built anything, H was happy just to get used to the feel of it and poke at it while B tried to be creative and then just ended up squeezing it, breaking it up and squishing it back together. I grinned and beared the fact I hate the feel of the stuff and joined in a little, then when H started trying to eat it I knew it was time for lunch!!

image

After lunch was Easter bonnet time. H had a nice straw hat to decorate, B on the other hand decided she didn’t want one of those but would use a polystyrine ring and decorate it. The only thing I did for H was put the glue on – I wasn’t brave enough to let a 19 month old loose with PVA! Plus it meant I got my hands covered in glue!! Anyway, H picked her decorations, told me where to put the glue and then stuck each piece in place, which B was let loose. I gave her a bit of guidance when she realised what she was doing wasn’timage working how she wanted. But I tell you what we had so much fun! I am definitly glad I have finally done this. I have never seen them both involved in the same activity and playing really well together like they did today. And, the big one for me, the laptop has been switched off for most of the day! I’m already planning our next crafting activity – paints!!!! I’m in shock that I am actually really looking forward to it!

So, for anyone out there who is like I was and wary of letting the kids do “messy” things at home, go for it, if I can brave it and enjoy it so can you! And if you have any ideas for me to try with the girls I’m ready to give things a try now!!

February 28, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment, Parenting | , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Book Addiction

I first read Twilight last year. Friends had told me to read it but the thought of Vampire fiction didn’t appeal. It’s not a genre I had ever read, or had any interest in but I bought the book with all good intentions of giving it a go. The book sat on the side in my bedroom. I moved house. The book came out of a box and sat in my living room. One night I remembered to take it to bed to start to read. Now this was strange, I hadn’t read a book in bed for years. The only time I read fiction was on holiday by the pool. This book would have to be something special to get me hooked.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of Twilight, where have you been? Even if you havn’t read it, I guarentee you will have heard others talk about it. Many of my friends, real and “virtual” online friends talk about it many times a day. It’s one of those books that triggers something inside, takes you back to your youth, makes you believe in fairy tales again.

What’s it all about? The story is written through the eyes of 17 year old Bella Swann who is moving home to live with her Dad in Forks. Bella hates Forks. It rains. It’s a small town. There are no decent shops. Her Dad Charlie is the Cheif of Police and everyone knows she is joining the school. The book is aimed at girls around Bella’s age, so reading this is a 30 year old mum of 2 I was expecting to be unable to relate to Bella. Surprisingly though, within minutes of reading I was remembering how it felt to be at school, to be the new girl. To wonder who everyone is. It is such an easy book to read.

Just when you think the book is just another teen high school book, enter The Cullen’s. Unknown to Bella, this is the local vegetarian Vampire family. From the moment she sees them, sat with food they don’t eat and not interacting with anyone else, Bella is fascinated in them, in particular Edward, who she learns is the only single memeber of the family.

This is a true tale of forbidden love. Of first love. Unearthing secrets that are rarely spoken of. It’s not just a Vampire book, you could take away the fact this a love stary between a human and an immortal, and it would still mean the same. It’s about the power of love. But don’t read this and think it’s just a love story. This is the 1st book of 4 in The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer. This book introduces the main characters to us. We learn who Bella’s family is, meet the Forks community, and also meet some of the Quileute tribe. We learn alot about how the Cullen’s live and also enough to know that the love story we are there to witness will not have a smooth start. This book sets the perfect start point for what is to follow, giving us a bit of lust, a bit of action and leaves us wanting more.

My synopsis has by no means given the book justice. I don’t think I have yet to read a synopsis that does. But in my whole life I have read at school and since leaving school I had probably read about 20 books in 12 years. I read Harry Potter and was hooked, but I never got hooked to reading. It was a one off thing. Twilight on the other hand was more. A year after my vision of love had been blown apart, I truely believed in love again. I remembered what it was like to feel that 1st love for someone. It sparked a sense of “life goes on” in me. Since reading this book, I have read 18 more, I am never without a book on the go! I can say 100% that I am now  a book worm. Even after a night out I have to pick up my book before I go to sleep! It’s not a bad thing I know, but I have to admit it’s a shock. I have stuck to the vampire genre, its very popular at the moment and there is alot out there to choose from.

Twilight changed my life in a couple of ways, all good, but mainly I have found a new way to unwind and I believe in love again. What about you, what books have you read that have stuck with you and why?

For any of you who havn’t read this book I highly recommend it. Whoever you are, wherever you are in life, this book will spark something within you. At least you will get an easy flowing read to give you that warm feeling inside.

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Book Reviews | , , , , | 8 Comments

Avatar 3D

Any one who knows me, knows I don’t do films. There are classics that I haven’t seen to the shock of others, so the mere fact that I have seen Avatar in 3D at the cinema is in itself amazing!

The phenomenal James Cameron film (Titanic & Terminator) was released in the UK on December 18th 2009. The sheer fact the film is still showing in cinemas after almost 2 months gives the “wow” factor, but last night I went to the 8pm screening of Avatar 3D and the queue to get in was as big as that of New Moon on opening night.

Within seconds of putting on those sexy 3D specs I knew I was in for a treat. I even had to remind myself at first to pay attention to the story and not just the things popping out of the screen. For anyone who hasn’t seen the film, I’ll give a quick synopsis – set in the future, the human race has travelled to Pandora and our hero Jake Sully takes on the role of Avatar pilot, his mission to be one of the Na’vi in the aim of getting them to move from Home Tree so the humans can knock it down and get to the valuable rock buried underneath. As a paraplegic ex marine, he not only has to get used to a new, blue body, but also having the use of his legs again. It’s a story of war, fantasy lands, magic, love, trust and morality and it’s safe to say there is something in there for everyone. To view the trailer and find out more about the story visit www.avatarmovie.com

Now we come to the big WOW factor for me. Like I said, the vast amount of people eager to see the film told me I must be in for a treat but nothing could prepare me for what was to come. When I was a kid, thoughts of movies that came out of the screen were that of the distant future. I’ve done the whole red and green glasses for comic relief and various other kids DVD’s, only to get annoyed that it didn’t even look 3D! I’ll be honest, I was expecting to be disappointed. I really was getting annoyed with a fly that kept buzzing right in front of my face (nope, it was 20 meters away on the screen!), I really was flinching when leaves were being kicked up into my face. Having only seen this film in 3D I just know watching it when it comes out on DVD will be such a disappointment! But I have to say the proof of what a breath taking film this is, is the fact no one was giggling about jumping when it looked like you were getting an arrow in the head, because the story and the effects took you to Pandora, for two and a half hours I was there!

If I haven’t convinced you, well go see for yourself! Even my Mum and Dad are planning to go and I last remember my mum going to the cinema about 10 years ago! This is the future of cinema, it’s an amazing piece of history, but more than that it is a phenomenal film. More 3D projects are coming this year, all the trailers at last nights showing were for future 3D releases. This is the new normality, our kids and our grandkids will think it strange when we are sat in our 70’s saying “back in my day films were flat!”

I would love to hear what you thought if you’ve been, or if reading this has encouraged you to go?

For downloadable wallpapers see www.avatarmovie.com The example above is just 1 they have available.

February 14, 2010 Posted by | Film Reviews | , , | Leave a comment