The Apprentice is back on our screens and already I am in despair over the glaring discrepancy between the candidates’ ludicrous self-puffery and their actual abilities.

The Apprentice

My weekly dose of Sugar

If you want to see what the trend for over-praising children has done to the rising generations, watch The Apprentice closely and see what empty adults over-indulged children make.

And parents of tiny children take note, if you insist on telling little Oscar how clever he is every single time he does the most mundane things, he will grow up to be like the most annoying candidates on The Apprentice. I am talking about the ones who believe they can get by in life simply by banging on about how great they are at everything without actually being obviously great at anything outside their own world of experience.

The Apprentice is, in my opinion, one of the most entertaining but disturbing shows on TV today. Every year we see a bunch of youngsters bigging themselves up to bursting point. They all say the same stuff – “I’m passionate, I’m the best there is, I could sell ice to Eskimos, I’m like a young Lord Sugar” etc etc etc.

However, once the action starts, we see there is no real substance behind many of the bold claims and I really do blame the parents and teachers of what I call the “Wow! Well done!” generation.

I saw a lot of this kind of empty praise going on in schools when I worked with under-achieving children in mainstream education. The idea was to praise, praise, praise to break through low self-esteem barriers but it doesn’t work, it just creates young adults who think they don’t have to do much to get high praise. Then they discover the real world where actual results matter and empty claims get found out very quickly.

Encourage your child or pupil by all means. Be supportive but don’t throw praise around like cheap confetti. Save the ‘wow well dones’ for genuine achievements to help them learn the difference between mediocrity and excellence and to give them something to aspire to.

If your mother jumps up and down and says “good boy! Clever boy! Look Daddy, Oscar made a dot on the paper! Clever boy!”, then you aren’t going to develop your mark-making skills beyond the dot because the dot you did was obviously the best thing ever. That is where the self-delusion begins, unless you have sensible parents or teachers who save the really lavish praise for achievements of substance.

Quite how the producers of The Apprentice go about choosing the candidates I do not know, but I feel sure there must be an element of picking people for their potential entertainment value rather than any true hope that they could be Lord Sugar’s next business partner.

I mean, did anyone look at former PA Sarah Dales and seriously think for one minute that her child-like petulance and obsession with getting business through wearing shorts skirts and make-up would be a good match for Lord Sugar? Did anyone really think handing her £250,000 of his money would be a good idea?

Anyone with Victoria Beckham as a role model would have rung alarm bells for me. Not because I don’t like Victoria Beckham – I don’t know her, but because I don’t think that is an intelligent thing to say when you want to get into business with Lord Sugar.

There are so many female entrepreneurs that have got where they are today without pouting moodily from the pages of Hello magazine, that she could have picked someone more known for business balls than for tits and teeth or being a footballer’s wife.

It is hard to believe that whoever selects the candidates is not on the ball enough to pick up on people who are, in my opinion, whiny, spoilt and emotionally immature. I mean who has stand up petty arguments on the street, in front of potential customers? Who struts around saying “I’m the project manager” every two seconds instead of actually project managing? Great TV though.

If the producers also look for entertaining no-hopers to pad out the show as well as genuine potential business partners, then they have done a sterling job this year.

Otherwise, it would be scary to think that this lot genuinely are the best the UK has to offer in the year 2014 and I would dread to think what the rejects were like.

We are only into the third week of The Apprentice and already Nick Hewer and Karen Brady seem to be despairing of some candidates and their antics. Quite how Karen Brady kept her cool over Sarah Dale’s inappropriate instructions for her team to wear short skirts and make-up to get sales I’ll never know.

Nick Hewer’s disgust at candidate decisions and actions always comes across so well during filming without the need for words. He is a master of using his facial muscles to communicate his thoughts to the watching public and Karen seems to have the same talent. They both make great TV and although I hate the term ‘he doesn’t suffer fools gladly’, they certainly don’t and it is very entertaining.

Whilst they seem annoyed and bemused in equal measure by what some of the candidates do, there does also seem to be an underlying desire for them to do well at the tasks and their reactions sometimes seem as if they are genuinely frustrated that some people are not doing better.

There are a few promising candidates in The Apprentice this year though but sadly, one of the best left last night after realising she was totally out of her depth with the load of deluded wannabes she found herself with.

Swimming academy owner Lindsay Booth may be one of the most real and likeable candidates The Apprentice has ever seen. While perhaps not right for the cut-throat world of business at Lord Sugar’s level, I believe she showed herself to be an absolute gem amongst a load of pea shingle.

We hear a lot of talk from youngsters these day about ‘keepin’ it real’ while they are doing anything but – however, Lindsay did just that with an enormous amount of humility which showed her true worth as a grounded human being.

She seemed genuinely bemused at the embarrassing, erratic antics of her fellow candidates when they were trying to sell candles. I don’t think she was incapable of doing it – I just think she was knocked off centre by the noisy din of the empty vessels around her.

It seemed like the first time she had encountered such self-absorbed people with unrealistic ideas about their own talents. I am glad for her that she is out of the pool of sharks because I think she is better off in a pool with the children she teaches to swim. I hope her academy grows and grows – she deserves it.

But what of the rest? Roisin Hogan seems very capable at this point and is one who does not seem full of empty promises. She has poise and humility and is articulate, unlike many of the other candidates who seem to think fast repetition of a word shows managerial skills as in:

“guysguysguysguysguysguysguysguysguys”

or,

“woahwoahwoahwoahwoahwoahwoah” .

We used to do that in primary school to get the attention of the teacher when we knew the right answer as in:

“MissMissMissMissMissMiss!” It didn’t work then either.

Another irritating habit is this modern tendency of showing what an ‘emotionally intelligent’, ‘assertive’ person you are by saying “I’m talking now, be quiet. Will you let me finish?” over and over again while the other person talks over you. Or sometimes, “When I’m finished talking, you can have your turn. That’s called a conversation.” Really?

Oh how mature these people are. And they never seem to learn, you just don’t tell Lord Sugar how much like him you are, especially when you have also said how much like Del Boy you are. Those two comparisons do betray a certain level of confusion about successful men that isn’t likely to impress Lord Sugar.

And then there are the ‘Lord Lickers’ as I call them who utter Lord Sugar’s name every three words as if he is royalty. “Yes Lord Sugar. I really want this Lord Sugar. It won’t happen again Lord Sugar. Just give me a chance Lord Sugar. I’ll show you what I can do Lord Sugar.” Shut the f*@% up!!!! There is enough sugar there to make a bloody cake big enough to feed London for a week!

Don’t get me wrong, I think Lord Sugar is to be respected for the business man he is, but he doesn’t strike me as someone who likes backside lickers who bow and scrape to him while repeating his name every two seconds. It’s so uncomfortable to watch – he is just a successful businessman/celeb, he isn’t God. We are all equal in our humanity, which comes before race, financial status and breeding – so cut it out guys and have some self-respect!

Anyway, the more irritating the candidates on The Apprentice get, the better viewing it is. This looks as if it is shaping up to be one of the best yet and this year’s ‘You’re Fired!’ twist is making it compulsive viewing.

Thank you Lord Sugar. You’re great Lord Sugar. The Apprentice is the best Lord Sugar. Jesus! Much more sugar and we’ll all be sick!!!!! Actually, that is the only complaint I have about The Apprentice, all joking apart, there isn’t enough of Lord Sugar in it – his blunt witticisms and straight-talking are refreshing in this stupidly politically correct world.

Apart from that, I’m happy for the next few weeks as the firings continue…

Visit here for all the official BBC stuff about The Apprentice because this, as you will have guessed, is just the view of a viewer.

Pumpkin Cake

My Own Take On Pumpkin Cake

Pumpkin cake - what can I say? It's that time of year when the shops are full of pumpkins, many of which will have been carved into 'scary' faces and left on doorsteps with candles burning inside for Halloween.

But what happens to the flesh that people scrape out of the pumpkin shell?

And are pumpkins useful beyond Halloween?

Well of course they are. Pumpkins are a nutritious fall vegetable and should not be ignored after Halloween.

Are pumpkins useful beyond Halloween? Click To Tweet

Pumpkin Cake

The idea of Pumpkin Cake came to me as I stood in a UK supermarket staring at the enormous pile of pumpkins in front of me before Halloween.

I was marveling at the way big business has now brainwashed the UK into buying pumpkins as if Guy Fawkes night and Christmas don't give people enough to worry about.

When I was a kid in the UK, Halloween had not been turned into a money-spinning event and was still only a way of scaring kids into going to bed early on October 31st.

Am I alone in having believed Halloween was the night when witches, goblins and ghosts would come down the chimney and party round the hearth all night or were my parents especially cruel?

"Better get to sleep before dark!" they would say, "or the ghouls will get you'.

Pumpkin Cake

So that was it for Halloween in our house and, I suspect, in most UK homes at that time.

No sweets or dressing up for us. Just shaking in our beds 'til morning. Great! What fun! I'm not sure that anyone in the UK even knew about 'trick or treating' back then.

I certainly didn't hear about it until I emigrated to North America.

There were lots of US draft dodgers living in my apartment complex.

They had come up from the states many years earlier because of the call up during the Vietnam war and so Halloween was a massive event in our building.

People went to great lengths to create very spooky experiences for kids banging on doors looking for sweets from total strangers ( yup, everything our mother's told us not to do).

Over the years, I came to realise Canadians loved Halloween too and I couldn't help but get into it when my kids were young.

What a shock though when I came back to live in the UK after many years to find the Halloween machine had brought it's money-spinning 'traditions' here too.

As I stared at the massive pile of pumpkins, I wondered what UK people do with the flesh they scoop out when they carve them ready to place on doorsteps to welcome trick or treaters.

Do they use the flesh to make pies and soups they way Americans do? Or do they waste the lovely pumpkin goodness?

So there I was back in October, standing in the supermarket marveling at what a thorough job the marketing men and women have done in making us want to spend a fortune on pumpkins, fake gravestones, flashing skeletons and Dracula masks etc.

skulls-web

Well done guys. Baaaaa! Hey here's an idea, why don't the big stores just have a section (sound proofed and with its own door of course), for the sheep with lots of money to burn, where they can buy Halloween crap, fireworks and Christmas tat all at the same time.

Wouldn't that be great! You could listen to Band Aid, Bing Crosby and the Pogues while choosing your pumpkins, fireworks and Christmas trees.

In fact, you could put fireworks in the pumpkin shells instead of candles and maybe put a witches hat at the top of the Christmas tree instead of an angel.

All the money spinning 'seasons' are gradually blending into one and it would be great if we had a choice as to whether we were subjected to it all.

It all needs its own department store with a notice above that says 'Sheep This way - All Major Credit Cards Accepted'.

But that is a whole other blog post!

So anyway, where was I? Oh yes - Pumpkin Cake.

So what happens to the flesh people scoop out of pumpkins? I know Americans and Canadians make pumpkin pie and soup but I thought I would invent my own pumpkin cake. So yes, I did buy a pumpkin and I did make a cake.

My full recipe (which was trial and error) and the process can be found here at instructables.com I take no responsibility for the outcome. I never claimed to be Mary Berry or Martha Stewart.

Pumpkin Cake

There is no added sugar, fat, oil or wheat and the ingredients are all healthier than actual cake.

So if you love actual cake, I don't think my pumpkin cake will be for you. It came out a bit like bread pudding and I loved it so much, I made it again.

Yes, I bought TWO pumpkins this year and not a scary carved face in sight!

My pumpkin cake is, in my opinion, delicious and healthy and I have been eating it for breakfast. Pumpkin is, apparently, low in calories and rich in dietary fibre. It has no saturated fat or cholesterol but is high in antioxidants and Vitamin A.

For more info on the benefits of pumpkin, have a look at this Huffington Post feature.

My pumpkin cake is, IMO, delicious and healthy. I have been eating it for breakfast. Click To Tweet

I'm off to have my afternoon slice of pumpkin cake.

And by the way, making cakes is not classed as housework. It is close though because it is done in the kitchen. However, as the results of the activity have an enjoyment factor, I don't class it as housework.
Have fun making pumpkin cake and let me know how yours turn out.

Hello-Kitty-6x6-album

Hello Kitty is a very popular brand – not sure why but there you go, each to his or her own. The thing is, I was thinking about how to make my own 12″x12″ scrap booking paper that would be substantial enough to use to make a mini-album.

I find 12″x12″ papers can be quite expensive and in any case, I quite like having something different to work with. You can create loads of your own 12″x12″ sheets out of one roll of wallpaper if you have the time, patience and desire to do it. The ‘desire to do it’ is the key here – so if you don’t have that may I suggest you move on because without it you will just get annoyed when you get to the part where the double-sided tape gets a bit tricky to work with. Projects involving heavy-duty double-sided carpet tape take commitment, as anyone who has ever had an argument with it will know.

The Hello Kitty wallpaper was on sale at my local B&M store and as I know someone who absolutely LOVES Hello Kitty stuff, I bought a roll to cover the boards of a full size album cum scrap-book for her. That leaves me with a practically  whole roll of the paper which I am unlikely to put on my walls because I don’t have daughters who go ga ga over a pretend cat.

Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty wallpaper works really well for ‘off the wall’ projects

So this week, when I got to thinking about experimenting with making my own 12″x12″ scrap booking paper, I decided to try it with the Hello Kitty wallpaper I have sitting here doing nothing. I wanted to make a folding mini album for someone I was sending a few photographs to.

The paper turned out to be a good choice. Actually, any high quality wallpaper would be a good choice because when it is stuck together in two layers to make it double-sided, it becomes heavy-duty enough to act almost like card stock.

So here is my Hello Kitty mini-album which took about 45 minutes to make from start to finish, and that included measuring, cutting and sticking the wallpaper back to back to make the 12″x12″ scrap book paper. You may notice that the pictures are of little boys but as our family is devoid of girls, I had no choice – but you get the picture anyway. I just use glue dots to attach them. You could go fancy and use photo corners so you can take the pictures in and out.

 

Hello Kitty

 

To see the full tutorial on how to make the Hello Kitty mini album, go to: http://www.instructables.com/id/Hello-Kitty-Mini-Album/

Hello Kitty

If you arrange your pictures specifically to be the right way up when the album is standing up, you can also use it as a display stand on a shelf or window sill. Makes a nice alternative to a birthday card, with a few surprises inside.

Amazingly, when I made this 12×12 paper, I didn’t have one double-sided tape ‘incident’ so the whole thing was stress-free. Makes a change from the last album I made when I accidentally laid one sticky surface down on the beautiful front cover I had just completed and found out the hard way just how stubborn carpet tape is. Oh how I swore.

Back to the Hello Kitty wallpaper – for those of you who sell crafts at fairs and online, I think using themed, branded wallpaper or wrapping paper such as Hello Kitty or Superman or Spiderman or Frozen etc would get you out of copyright troubles if you wanted to make ‘branded’ albums to sell. My understanding is, if you are simply taking the product and using it as it is and not scanning it to make copies, you can make and sell as many as you want.

But hey, don’t take my word for that, I’m not a solicitor and if you go to prison for selling products made with Disney wallpaper just don’t mention my name in court. Do your homework first. I really don’t see how anyone can stop you buying a roll of branded wallpaper and using it for crafts to sell, if there is no scanning involved.

Or is there a Misuse of Wallpaper Act? Wouldn’t surprise me in today’s world.

I bought my paper at B&M but I did find some (more expensive than what I paid!) on Amazon. It is slightly different from the design I bought but maybe even better because the images are smaller. Anyway, here is the link:

 

Hand Made Albums – fast and furious!

Hand Made Albums

Hand Made Album using Andrew Martin International designer wallpaper

Hand made albums are very popular at craft fairs, especially around Christmas time. I have been making albums for several years now using my own hand-painted papers to make the covers but some were taking me days to make so I began to look for ways to create unique attractive hand made albums in a fraction of the time. I started experimenting with cheap wallpaper and my own handmade embellishments but found cheap wasn’t so great.

Then I discovered Andrew Martin International one day when I was wandering round John Lewis watching rich people buy very expensive pointless things.

Andrew Martin International produces some amazing and unusual designer wallpapers and whilst my budget would not stretch far beyond wood-chip paper for decorating (yes I know, ugh!), I could easily buy one roll to test out for classy looking hand made albums.

And my goodness, what a joy this paper is to use for crafting! I will never know if it is just as good to hang on walls, because I have made it my life’s work never to get involved with anything so complicated but, I would guess it is a decorator’s dream.

The picture you see here of what I call my ‘John Lennon’ hand made album was made using Andrew Martin’s Pinboard design. It is available here on www.andrewmartin.co.uk/pinboard-wallpaper.php

The images he has used to create this design are very retro and the way it is put together make it look almost 3D. I absolutely LOVE it!

I am not being paid to write this or to direct you to the company – I was just so pleased with the way this paper handled, I wanted to tell everyone – I can’t wait to get more of the other designs.

Hand Made Albums tutorial

If you are interested in learning how I made the cover boards for this album, click here to go to my tutorial on instructables.com

I haven’t done a tutorial to explain how I do the binding because it is explained so well in the YouTube tutorial where I learned how to do Coptic binding. My early hand made albums looked very pretty but they would never open right up and lay flat because of the way I bound them. You can find the tutorial here at Sea Lemon.

Using the Coptic binding method means that your albums will open up completely at any page and lay flat, ideal for sketch books or scrap books. So click here to go to that tutorial.

I hope you enjoy making some hand made albums – do share what you make and send me some pictures. You can easily make one in a couple of hours.

The cover boards I use tend to be recycled grey board that I buy from a local paper company who cut them to size. They also cut my pages to size, double the width I need so I can fold them and stack them in sets of four to make up the ‘folios’ needed for Coptic binding.

But I have also used cereal boxes for many of my albums and that works just fine too. Once the boards are covered, no one is bothered what your hand made albums are made of.

So click over to my instructables.com tutorial and get working on your hand made albums asap. They really do make great presents because they are all unique and you can make them as embellished or plain as you want.

Happy album making!

Bottle cap pendants are fun to make and will give you endless hours of creativity – a great alternative to housework.

 

Bottle cap Pendants

A Collection of Bottle Cap Pendants

 

Bottle Cap Pendants

Eye See You Key-rings

 

Before you rush out to buy a case of beer – I will just tell you, it isn’t advisable to make bottle cap pendants from the caps you get off drink bottles.

There are three main reasons why you shouldn’t use beer bottle caps to make bottle cap pendants:

• They are bent from being prized off the bottle
• They have a plastic lining which is hard to get off
• Jewellery made while drinking beer is usually not your best work – be honest, it’s not is it?

But that’s OK because you can get some nice shiny bottle caps with no nasty plastic lining by clicking on the resource links at the end of this article.

So – what will you need to make the kind of fun bottle cap pendants I have been creating instead of being a good housewife?

You will need:

• Some heavy rock music to help you forget about the dust you should be moving around.
• A supply of bottle caps – the colour is your choice.
• A supply of 1 inch round images (If you do not have any of your own – go to https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/201707561/downloadable-images-for-scrapbooking? where you will find my downloadable designs at very low-cost).
• A 1 inch punch.
• Some double-sided sticky tape.
• A supply of 1 inch resin domes.
• A supply of 9mm split rings.
• A selection of small metal charms.
• A supply of silver/gold/black curb chains or leather thongs or 1mm black elastic.
• A small craft hammer.
• A rigid, clean cutting mat.
• A 1.8mm pair of hole punch pliers.
• A pair of split ring tweezers.

I will provide links below for most of the above items. The craft hammer and cutting mat I use are from the Dove crafting tool set listed in the resources below.

How to Make Bottle Cap Pendants

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 1

Bottle Cap Pendants

Bottle Cap Pendants Step 1

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 2

Take your bottle cap and use the 1.8mm punch pliers to make holes directly opposite each other. To make the first hole, turn the cap over so the fluted edge is pointing downwards and punch a tiny hole in one of the ‘dips’ in the fluted edge.

Bottle Cap Pendants

Punch Your Holes

Turn the bottle cap over so the fluted edge is pointing upwards and and count the ‘bumps’ in the fluted edge (see pic below) until you get to the tenth bump. Position your punching pliers in between bumps 10 and 11 and make another tiny hole. The two holes should be directly opposite each other.

 

Bottle Cap Pendants

Count the ‘bumps’ to align the holes

 

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 3

This is where you flatten down the fluted edge of the cap. You will need to use a rigid, clean cutting mat for this part. You need a firm surface on which to hammer the edge down but it must not scratch the back of the bottle cap. Using your fingers to  hold down one side of the bottle cap, firmly tap away at the other edge while gradually turning it. The idea is turn the edge down to make it flatter.

 

Bottle Cap Pendants

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 4

Cut a small piece of double sided sticky tape to fit inside the bottle cap and stick it in position.

 

Bottle Cap Pendants

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 5

Choose an image from a sheet of 1 inch round images and use the 1inch punch to carefully cut it out. (Click here to buy my downloadable 1 inch images https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/201707561/downloadable-images-for-scrapbooking? ) I always turn my punch upside down so I can line the circle up perfectly before cutting. I have also removed the little plastic cover from the bottom of my punch so I can see more easily.

Bottle Cap Pendants

 

Bottle Cap Pendants

 

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 6

Hold your circle with the image facing upwards and peel a resin dome off the plastic sheet. Very carefully line up the dome with the edges of the image and press down firmly. It should be a perfect fit with no overlap. It does take practice but becomes easier with experience.

Bottle Cap Pendants

 

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 7

Peel the backing paper off the sticky tape in the bottle cap. Making sure that the top of your image aligns with the top hole in the bottle cap, press the resin dome and image firmly into the bottle cap and smooth with your thumbs.

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 8

Using your split ring pliers, open the split rings and fit them into the top and bottom holes in the bottle cap edge. You can use your thumb nail to open the rings but if you make lots of these, you will find the pliers are better.

Step 9

Attach a metal charm to the bottom split ring.

Bottle Cap Pendants

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 10

Add a leather thong with lobster clasp or, a length of 1mm black elastic tied in a knot and there you have you first piece of bottle cap jewellery to wear, sell at craft fairs or give away as presents.

Bottle Cap Pendant

Please use the contact form to ask questions.

To obtain most of the resources I have used in this tutorial – follow these links:-

Loom bands – love them or hate them, at least they are keeping children busy during the school holidays!

 

Loom Bands

Loom Band charm ideas for you

 

And it isn’t just kids who are going Loom Band crazy, it’s mums too and even dads, Grandmas and Grandads. Everyone is getting in on the act! So this is my spin on making Loom Bands slightly more personalized and different to plain bracelets with plastic S or C clips holding them together. I’ve been adding metal to mine by using split rings and Tibetan Silver charms.

I have been using two, three or four split rings on most Loom Band bracelets  to get them to hang nicely. I prefer split rings to jump rings because they can’t come part and fall off. And I use silver, gold or black depending on the main colors in the bracelet or necklace I am making.

Loom Bands

Charming Loom Bands

As I sporadically make all kinds of jewellery, I have hundreds of metal charms stashed away in my craft collection – so I had loads to choose from to add to my Loom Band bracelets and necklaces. You can find some brilliant metal charms for your Loom Bands creations by following the links below.

And for some great ideas on how to turn a pile of Loom Bands into funky creations to color co-ordinate with your wardrobe, check out this fantastic new book by Kat Roberts and Tessa Sillars-Powell which is due out on August 20th 2014. It is a brilliant resource for everyone from beginner to more advanced and even has tips for how to  make Loom Band jewellery on the move. Or these other super books to help you be the envy of your friends.

Loom Bands

Black Heart and Angel Wing Designs

Using split rings to attach your charms is the key to success as it is difficult to get the bands through some of the charms and they hang much better from split rings. You can get a variety of split rings by clicking on the links below.

 

I mainly use 9 or 10mm rings in my projects but the size you order depends on what look you want and how big your charms are. For help adding your split rings and charms to your Loom Bands, I have found the split ring tweezers above are a huge help and save your nails!

 

Loom Bands

Use split rings to attach metal charms to Loom Bands

 

Loom Bands

Matching hearts on bracelet and necklace Loom Bands

Have fun with Loom Bands!

 

Loom Bands – Exciting news!

Loom Bands

Some Loom Band charm ideas

Loom Band fans take note – on August 20th 2014 a new book is coming out to help you create the most awesome bracelets, charms and necklaces ever!

And you can get it the day after it comes out by following the link below and selecting First Class post at checkout stage.

Loom Bands are the latest craze —from the school yard and slumber parties to craft rooms and beyond, everyone can join in the fun.

Using a small and inexpensive plastic loom or simply just your fingers, it’s possible to create an infinite array of bright and colorful rings, bracelets, accessories, and gifts from nothing more than simple rubber bands known as Loom Bands. It’s the quick, easy and accessible craft that’s taking the world by storm.

Loom Band It provides step-by-step instructions for 60 original projects, using every color in the rainbow. Make a ring to match every outfit, swap bracelets with your friends and customize your handbags with bespoke rubber band straps. There’s even tutorials for super cool sandals and an eye-catching cell phone sleeve, too. What could be more rewarding than presenting friends, family and neighbors with a custom-made fun and funky rubber band gift.

Loom Bands have never been so popular and these tutorials give you all you need to make your own elaborate patterns and designs, as well as providing inspiration for customizing your crafts. Ping through these loom ideas, stretch your imagination, and you’ll become an accomplished Loomineer in no time!

And it isn’t only children who have been taken by Loom Bands madness – only yesterday I saw a newspaper feature about Mel Barron, an Ipswich woman who took up the craze while recovering from a serious operation. See the full color feature here.

Mel talks about how she found making bracelets and charms very relaxing, which was a great relief for me as I thought I was the only person over the age of 12 who leaves a trail of Loom Bands round the house!

As a newbie to this easy, fun and gentle craft, I will definitely be one of the first to get this fantastic little book when it comes out on August 20th. Order your copy now!

Hurricane Bertha blew herself into an ex-hurricane while sweeping through the Caribbean and then weakened into an Atlantic storm, according to one newspaper at the end of last week. But she confounded all the weather forecasters who on Saturday warned her off-spring storm may or may not hit the UK.

Hurricane Bertha

Were these storm clouds in Essex today anything to do with the remains of Hurricane Bertha?

After the Met Office’s chief forecaster Eddy Carroll warned there was ‘considerable uncertainty’ about the UK’s weather this weekend, I thought it was pointless hiding in the cupboard under the stairs any longer and decided to venture out.

After several bouts of torrential rain and high winds in our part of Suffolk over Saturday night into Sunday morning, the sun came out and all was good. Then the rain came back and everything went dark again and I decided the remains of Hurricane Bertha was in one of those moods where she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

During a prolonged period of sun, we decided to visit Harwich in Essex to walk on the beach. We hadn’t been there long when Bertha’s remains rose up again and tried to rip my hair off.

As I stood fighting with my hoodie, I heard my husband utter the words ‘holy shit, we need to get back to the car’. I turned round to follow his horror-struck gaze, the above scene is what I saw.

If this was indeed anything to do with Hurricane Bertha, I’d hate to have seen the real deal at the height of her power.

Nice one Hurricane Bertha, you did give us some interesting skies in Suffolk and Essex today. We were thankful that was all you gave us after the misery you caused elsewhere.

Hurricane Bertha

Queen Victoria was not amused by the threat of a storm overhead in Harwich.

Raspberry Ketone – why are people fighting over short supplies of these pills in shops?

Raspberry Ketone was a mystery to me until last week when I witnessed three women arguing over the one remaining bottle of the ‘wonder’ pills in a health food shop. Each was clearly desperate not to live another day without Raspberry Ketone.

Raspberry Ketone

Can these REALLY melt fat?

These three middle-aged, sensible looking, well-dressed women had flecks of foam round their mouths and were squaring up to each other when I left. I wondered what on earth was so important about a small pot of capsules that could make respectable women act like rival gang-members if they couldn’t get their fix of Raspberry Ketone.

The girl behind the counter said the pills were selling out as soon as they came in, so I rushed straight home to Google it. I found that Christina Aguilera and other such people who spend their lives trying to defy gravity, are shouting about a miracle weight loss product (yawn yawn) from the roof-tops. Or in Christina’s case from the Jay Leno show in the USA. The article then goes on to say she is referring to Raspberry Ketone.

On the website, we are shown how this ‘fat burning wonder’ transformed Christina Aguilera from a cuddly looking overweight Zsa Zsa Gabor into a stick-thin Barbie Doll without lifting a finger, apart from the ones, I assume, putting the Raspberry Ketone pills into her mouth. She claims, according to the website, to have lost 42lbs in six weeks with these pills. Oh, I nearly forgot, you also need to take another product with it called Aloe Cleanse.

Raspberry Ketone – can it reveal toned abs hiding under the fat once it has ‘melted’ away?

When I saw the ‘before’ image of Christina, (click here to see the webpage) I immediately had a flashback to an episode of Friends where they needed to make Monica look very fat. She was made ‘fat’ with the use of prosthetics. I am not saying that is what has been done here – it just reminded me of the pretend ‘fat’ Monica… that’s all.

You will see on the same page, there is an incredible array of stars such as Jennifer Anniston and Victoria Beckham alongside claims that they ‘confess’ to the use of Raspberry Ketone and Aloe Cleanse. Its use, apparently,  is the ‘secret to their incredible figures’. Oh – so it’s not all the exercise done under the tuition of an expert personal trainer then?

There are also before and after shots of more ordinary, podgy people who have shed loads of fat to reveal the beautifully toned tummies that were apparently hiding underneath. Hurrah!

So do we all have amazing abs hiding under layers of fat? Am I wasting my time working hard to keep my core muscles strong when all I need to do is take a pill?

Maybe Raspberry Ketone is a wonder pill for increasing metabolism, melting fat and increasing energy I can’t say one way or the other, but I don’t believe it will give you the body of a ‘star’ who spends several hours a day working out with or without a trainer, unless you work at it the way they do.

As far as I am aware, if you don’t work to tone and maintain muscle health, they will not become toned and strong on their own.

While there are no claims on the website that the pills will give you a toned body as well as melting fat, the images used on the page do make it look as if the podgy people in the pictures were delighted to magically find amazing, toned bodies under the fat.

But if you scroll to the bottom of the page, past all the glowing comments and claims of success from Joe public, you will see a disclaimer notice written in a dull colour on a black background. It is clearly not designed to stand out. Read it and then, go back to the top and read it all again with the disclaimer in mind.

It does make me wonder if you are more likely to lose £s rather than lbs – just saying…

Although I don’t want to lose weight, I would be quite happy to have my metabolism revved up a little more and I wouldn’t mind having my energy boosted to help me increase my running time on the treadmill. It isn’t a massive issue – I can manage 30 minutes at a good pace without a problem but it will be interesting to see if I can get into the next Olympics with these ‘wonder’ pills.

So I have obtained some Raspberry Ketone from Holland & Barratt and have taken the first two today. I will let you know if my metabolism goes into overdrive and whether or not I can run any harder or further than I could before.

However, if the amazing claims about weight loss really are true, I may just disappear.

I think it is only fair that I tell you though, I took my first pill after breakfast today and according to the thousands of ‘testimonials’ from people online, I should  be feeling full of energy by now. However, it is 4.15pm and I am flagging. This is because I need some water, an apple, some fresh air and a good long walk to pep me up just as I always do at this point in the day.

If you want a balanced view of Raspberry Ketone, click here to visit this site www.funintofit.com/raspberry-ketones-scam-miracle-weight-loss-supplement/.

And for information on more realistic ways to maintain a fit, healthy, slender body not to mention  a healthy mind, have a look at Leslie Kenton’s amazing book Age Power.

World War 1 – Thoughts on the 100 Year Anniversary

World War 1 Memorial
World War 1 – All those who fell during the unspeakable carnage of a war that was supposed to ‘end all wars’, are back in the public consciousness now that we have reached the 100 year milestone of Britain’s entry into the war.

It always moves me when I see the World War l graves both here and in France and am reminded of the tender ages many of the soldiers were.

Walking past each grave and seeing the ages of the men is always a sobering experience  but they would all, of course, be dead by now even if they had lived out their natural lives.

But many of the younger ones would have had children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren  if war had not robbed them of the chance. The older ones who already had children left behind them a generation deprived of fathers whose lives were wiped out in the relentless hell of barbed wire, bullets and bombs they had no hope of beating.

Many of those who did return were not the same men who left to go to war and found it hard to fit back into normal life again.

The grim reality of trench warfare is way beyond the comprehension of most of us but if you click here you can go to Part 1 of a four-part series on shell-shock which gives a very good insight into what the soldiers suffered both on and off the battlefield. It isn’t for the faint-hearted so please do not follow this link if you  are adversely affected by graphic images of  mental suffering.

Shell-shocked is a term we all use in everyday life to describe some ‘catastrophe’ we have encountered as in ‘I was totally shell-shocked when I saw the price of Nike trainers’ but after seeing this film, I will never use that term again unless I am unfortunate enough to find myself with a nervous system shot to bits by a war.

It’s never a good thing to dwell on misery but I do think it is important to remember, from time to time, that World War 1 was touted as being ‘the war to end all wars’ and millions of people believed what they were told as they went off to be killed, maimed or to develop a serious, much misunderstood mental illness because the horrific reality of the war was too much to bear.

World War 1

Everlasting Rest

Maybe it would all have been worthwhile if it really had been ‘the war to end all wars’. Maybe if  the senseless deaths of young men and women of all nationalities were not still happening, we could say that the misery of World War 1 was worth it.

Am I missing something? But doesn’t war make millions for all those who rely on lengthy conflicts to keep their armaments factories turning a healthy profit?

Isn’t that why innocent people continue to die and adventurous young men and women  all over the world continue to  be seduced by the glorified call to join their country’s army?

It does seem pretty crazy to me that we are sitting here 100 years away from World War 1 saying how terrible it was while people are engaged in vicious fighting at this very minute and wealthy factory owners are churning out the means to keep it going. Not to mention the share-holders who live quite nicely off the proceeds.

It is all very well for the Great and the Good to lead public displays of emotion about a War that happened 100 years ago but it all seems a little hollow when you consider the roles our leaders are still playing in wars all over the world today.

We really are a strange bunch.