Monday, 26 September 2016

Out and About: Circulate

Circulate Flyer

Last Friday I was invited to look around Circulate in my role as Deputy Mayor. I had heard of Circulate, as it's part of the Garnsychan Partnership, but I had no idea how diverse the work they do is, and I was so impressed with what they offer! Circulate is a furniture recycling operation based in Unit 14 on the Gilchrist Thomas Industrial Estate in Blaenavon. In their own words:

Circulate provides a FREE collection service within Torfaen for all unwanted bulky household waste. We collect items such as sofas, beds, wardrobes and more, they are then cleaned, repaired and sold on at a low cost to the public from our showroom. Renovated white goods are also available. 

 Circulate holds all the relevant licences relating to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive and staff are trained to complete Portable Appliance Testing (PAT), enabling goods to reach EU Health and Safety standards. 

First we had a presentation about the work Circulate does, and the support they're able to offer volunteers and those looking to re-enter the job market. They have a number of volunteers who started on mandatory placements from the job centre who have stayed on, and others who have been helped back into work via Active Steps and the employability project.

The WIFI equipped training room we used is available for hire, and if you run a business in the north of the borough, Circulate can supply ASDAN accredited training for customer service, manual handling, and more, as well as PAT testing at low rates.

Circulate Tour
Looking very serious on the tour! Credit: Circulate Facebook Page.

Other services Circulate offer include ethical house clearances, furniture restoration, removals, homestarter packs, and crisis help for people in need. We went on a tour of the warehouse and workshops after the presentation, to see how donations are brought in, fixed up, and then offered for sale on the shop floor. Because they can PAT test in house they're able to offer guarantees on all electrical items too.

I was so impressed with the standard of the repair and restoration work, and the prices of the finished products. The delivery charge is proportional to the distance the pieces are going, but collection of donated items is absolutely free. By restoring and / or upcycling items which would otherwise be thrown out, Circulate diverts 140,000 kg of waste from going to landfill each year!

Circulate PAT Testing
Seeing some PAT testing in action with Jon Horlor, the Chair of Blaenavon Town Council. Credit: Circulate Facebook Page.

For more information, check out the Circulate Facebook page, the Garnsychan Partnership website, or give them a ring on 01495 793187. Alternatively you can email

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Out and About in Torfaen

Sunday, 25 September 2016

This Week #50

Gwyn y gwel y fran ei chyw - the crow sees its chick as white.
Life This Week

Nothing exciting to report this week. Work, Home, Chores... and Repeat.

We started doing some painting downstairs, just to freshen the walls up, and I've gone into comping overdrive so I can start putting things away for Christmas. All the kids are covered, but I need some more adult orientated presents, plus stuff to donate as raffle prizes, etc. So if you're hosting a giveaway, you can be fairly sure of seeing me there!

I suppose the only other notable thing this week was that the pushchair finally gave up the fight. To be fair, it's had constant use for 20 months and only cost £25 from Aldi. I ordered the same type of pushchair to replace it on eBay; it's new but has storage wear. I can't see Marianna objecting.

Photo of the Week

A photo posted by Jessica Powell (@plastigffantastig) on

This Week, I 'ave Been Mostly...

☆ READING: There was an article on HuffPost this week which really annoyed me; I wrote up the reasons why.

☆ WRITING: An overview of my work this month. I figured it would make more sense to keep it all in a monthly update, rather than having bits all over the place.

☆ WATCHING: iZOMBIE. It's a murder mystery show - with zombies! I was dubious at first because pretty much all the comic book based TV shows I've ever seen have sucked, but I'm actually really enjoying this one.

 LISTENING: This week's #FridayFrivolity theme was superheroes. I decided to write about my favourite sidekick, Jimmy Olsen, who just happens to be the subject of one of my favourite songs by the Spin Doctors:

He's faster than a bullet, stronger than a train;
He's the one who got lucky, got his cape around Miss Lois Lane.
I can't believe my dilemma is real -  I'm competing with the man of steel.
(Jimmy Olsen's Blues)

☆ WEARING: Oversized cardigans. Part style statement, part blanket you can wear...

☆ EATING: I bought some for Marianna when I went food shopping but she didn't like them. Obviously I just had to eat them myself instead... ;)

☆ REVIEWING: The Tangle Teezer brush.

On the Blog

I've changed the blog commenting system from Blogger default to Disqus. Verdict's still out on whether or not it's staying, but I'm liking it so far. In other news, I put together a list of linkies to join up with on Wednesdays, and wrote a post on the Rowlands branch of my family tree.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

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This Week - Weekly Overviews

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Review: Tangle Teezer

Tangle Teezer Review

I've had my Tangle Teezer brush for about two weeks now and I absolutely love it! In lieu of shouting from the rooftops (I mean, that sounds kind of dangerous), here's a review of my new favourite beauty product...

About Tangle Teezer

The brainchild of hair stylist Shaun Pulfrey, the product first made itself known to the public when it was turned down as an investment opportunity on Dragon's Den. I've never watched the show, but I still heard about the brush as a result of its appearance, proving that old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity! They hit the shop shelves in 2008 and the brand just went from strength to strength, with the range expanding to include compact, children's, and waterproof versions.


The Salon Elite

As the name suggests, these are Tangle Teezer brushes aimed at salons. They come in really funky colour combinations and, most importantly, they were the cheapest version on eBay. Because eight years later I still hadn't tried the brand myself, and was kind of dubious that any brush could actually be that good. I was willing to give it a try though, as I'd hit the last ditch attempt point with my long hair.

Tangle Teezer Salon Elite
Salon Elite Tangle Teezer. RRP £11.60 - I got mine on eBay for £7.50.

About five or so years ago I had most of my hair shaved off. It's a long story but, basically, over bleaching had destroyed my hair and I'd always quite fancied the idea of a mohawk. Now, my hair is reaching below my bust line again and it was getting to be a nightmare, what with all the sticky toddler hands... I was sick of battling with it and figured I'd try the Tangle Teezer and, if it didn't do the trick, I'd go and get my hair cut short again.


The Best £7.50 I've Ever Spent

Okay, so I might be exaggerating slightly, but it really is one of the best purchase decisions I've ever made. I was sceptical that the rubbery teeth could tame my super thick hair - I shouldn't have been. Brushing my hair when dry is now an easy and, dare I say it, pleasant experience. The brush doesn't pull, and so I don't feel like crying after getting in from a windy walk.

It really comes into its own in the shower. I'd been using a basic large plastic comb to condition and unknot my hair, and it was a) painful and b) slow going. Now it's brushed through and smooth in moments, and the teeth keep all the shed hair in the brush so you can comb it out in to the bin - rather than having to drag it all out of the plughole. (Yuck!)

If you're reading this to make a decision about buying one of these brushes, go for it! You will not be disappointed.

You can get Tangle Teezer brushes at the official website, in Boots, on Amazon and eBay, and from any number of other online retailers. You can also stay in touch with Tangle Teezer on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Reviews from Babi a Fi - food, fashion, beauty, baby, toys, books, tech, days out, and more!

Friday, 23 September 2016

Friday Frivolity: Superheroes

Friday Frivolity

There are so many dumb superheroes out there, and even the good ones have really dumb moments. But for this week's theme I've decided to showcase some of my favourite antics of a wannabe superhero - Superman's #1 Pal / Stalker, Jimmy Olsen.

Between 1954 and 1974 Jimmy had his own spin-off comic, in which there was never a dull moment:

Jimmy gets Married

World of Doomed Olsens

Jimmy is always trying to supplement the pittance he gets from the Daily Planet for, well, whatever it is he does there. Loiter, mostly.

How can Jimmy cut Superman's indestructible hair of steel?

He can't be particularly good at these odd jobs though:

Can you guess why Jimmy Olsen has to live in a slum?

Still, at least he has his charm to fall back on...

Jimmy Olsen and the Girl with Green Hair

Er, maybe not. xD

Thursday, 22 September 2016

I Don't Pretend To Be Perfect...

I Don't Pretend To Be Perfect...

A/N: There was this HuffPost article that really riled me up this week. I left a comment there, but couldn't really articulate what I so disliked about it - I don't write a 'slummy mummy' blog. I don't post warts and all pics. I don't even drink more than twice a year, so it's not as though I can claim it felt like a personal attack. It just made me angry. I figured I'd try and get it all out on the page...

The author came back to me in the FB comments and claimed she doesn't judge people on their figures, marriages or houses, so it's all fine and dandy. But, reading between the lines, that was exactly what she was judging people on, all presented in a kind of 'but if those things were how they should be they wouldn't ever share these bad moments' way. Maybe it's really just humour she has a problem with, IDK.

If you're a 'slummy mummy' you should have used contraception, that was the take away message of a particularly sanctimonious HuffPost article this week.

Because if you choose to complain about being a parent, you're probably a child neglecting alcoholic, who deserves to have a judge grant your kids' freedom as soon as possible. Motherhood is wonderful, magical, unicorn sparkling marvellousness, and if you don't focus solely on the good in your dealings with those outside the family, all you're doing is justifying your (and everyone else's) inherent slobbiness and lack of motivation to mould your spouse and offspring into something more praiseworthy.

What a steaming pile of BS.

Okay, so I'm cherry picking the worst bits but, still, somebody writing about the warts and all side of parenting - the bodily fluids, the epic tantrums, the days when you just count down the minutes until bedtime - doesn't negate someone else's stylised interior shots on instagram. Nor does one parent confessing to finding messy play a tedious pain in the backside mean another has to give up their happy afternoons of crafting and picnicking.

On the flipside, it's totally one camp's prerogative to sneer at the other's reluctance to use Facebook to draw attention to their child's carefully chosen outfits instead of how they ruined them, or brag about how their career success has enabled them to install a colour coordinated kitchen rather than how much booze is in their wine rack.

Different strokes for different folks, and all that.

But when you start suggesting the 'slummies' aren't fit parents because they like to write up the bad instead of the good, well, that's a totally different ball game. Having a laugh at the low points is not symptomatic of a drink problem, and having a moan about the other half doesn't mean they're (in the words of the article) 'a total F***wit'.

It means that some people have a different approach to life. That they have different priorities and different relationships. No, 'being [constantly] miserable isn't healthy', but perhaps - just perhaps - when this archetypal Slummy Mummy recalls the time her kid spewed in her hair before the school run, or whatever tale of woe she may choose to share, she is 'owning' her choices rather than wallowing in the pit of despair the author envisages.

Life isn't all rainbows and sunshine, and pretending it is isn't healthy either. Just because you choose not to share the bad online doesn't make your choice the superior one. That hypothetical vomit incident would still have meaning, and doubtless fond memories associated with it. It makes others smile, and connects people who have the same irreverent sense of humour. It doesn't mean the teller or the reader is a gin soaked sloven, and it certainly doesn't mean that someone who finds the tale depressing can't click away and get on with their own lives, be they a 19-year-old first time mum or not.

And as for when 'little Johnny', the poor child whose mother over 'sharented' his youthful mishaps, becomes a teenager, who knows. Perhaps he will resent it and beg the authorities to take him away from this terrible woman who didn't demonstrate her love through craft sessions and nagging. Or, perhaps he will be better adjusted for showcasing the bad to the world, rather than having to plaster on a false face. Perhaps he won't be as quick to judge, and perhaps he'll have even mastered sincerity.

Because when you say:

"I don’t claim perfection, but in my time I’ve been a teenage mum who scored high on the post-natal depression chart. I’ve been a working mum, a stay-at-home mum, A single mum, and a married mum who’s happy as Larry, But here is the thing: no matter what - I always looked to people who were inspiring to enable me to keep my game as high as I could get it, at any given time."

What you mean is:

I did it all and more without resorting to complaining because I don't pretend to be perfect. I'm just considerably better than you.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Wednesday Blog Linkies

Wednesday Blog Linkies

Blog linkys, hops, parties - whatever you want to call them! - are a great way of connecting with other bloggers and becoming a real part of the blogging community. Here are a bunch of linkys you can get involved with on Wednesdays.

For other days of the week, please check out my Connecting With Linkies post.

Best and Worst
Open: 6:30am Wednesday - 23:55pm Friday.
Rules: Link up to two posts, old or new, and add the badge to them. Comment on the hosts' posts, and the two added before yours.
Other: Tweet @RunJumpScrap and @helsy_1983 with your post and the hashtag #bestandworst for a retweet.
Black and White Wednesdays
Open: Wednesday - Wednesday (i.e. all week)
Rules: Link up your black and white photo posts.
Other: N/A
Blogger Club UK
Open: 6am Wednesday - Midnight Friday
Rules: Link up to two posts, old or new, and add the badge or a backlink. Comment on the hosts' posts and any other of your choice.
Other: Tweet  @MudpieFridays@randommusings29 and / or @CuddleFairy with your post and the hashtag #BloggerClubUK for a retweet.

Coffee and Conversation
Open: Wednesday - Tuesday Night.
Rules: Link up to three family friendly posts, old or new, and add the badge or a backlink to the posts or your sidebar. Comment on at least two other posts.
Other: Favourite posts are featured each week.

Home Etc
Open: Wednesday - Thursday
Rules: Link up to two new or old posts about interiors, gardens, or upcycling. Add the badge to your posts, then comment on the hosts' posts and at least two others.
Other: Tweet @twinklediaries and / or @soot1978 with your post and the hashtag #HomeEtc for a retweet.
Share With Me
Open: Wednesday - Thursday
Rules: Link up to two new or old posts, add the badge or a backlink to those posts, comment on the host post and at least two others.
Other: Tweet @MummyFever with your post and the hashtag #sharewithme for a retweet.
Simplify Wednesdays Link Party
Open: Wednesday
Rules: Link up to three posts, old or new, and add the badge to your posts or sidebar. new or old posts about your children's achievements, big or small, and add the badge to your posts. Comment on at least as many posts as the number you link up.
Other: All posts will be pinned and, if food related, yummed. Repin and yum (if applicable) that week's featured posts to be considered for a feature spot the following week.
Small Steps Amazing Achievements
Open: Wednesday - Sunday
Rules: Link up new or old posts about your children's achievements, big or small, and add the badge to your posts. Comment on other linked posts.
Other: Linked posts are shared on Twitter with the hashtag #SSAmazingAchievements.
To Grandma's House We Go
Open: Wednesday - Monday
Rules: Link up to three posts - old or new - about crafting or DIY. Add the badge or a backlink to your posts, and follow the hostess on social media.
Other: Most read and favourite posts are featured each week.
Open: Wednesday - Friday
Rules: Link up to two posts, and comment on at least two others.
Other: Favourite posts are featured each week.
Wake Up Wednesday
Open: Wednesday - Friday
Rules: Link up family friendly posts, old or new. Optional adding of badge.
Other: Favourite posts are featured each week.
Wednesday Round Up
Open: Wednesday - Friday
Rules: Link up to three posts - old or new - and follow your hostesses on social media. Comment on at least one post.
Other: Most read and favourite posts are featured each week.
Welcome Home Wednesdays
Open: Midday Wednesday - Thursday
Rules: Link up to three posts - old or new - and comment on other posts. Add the badge or a backlink to your posts, and follow your hosts on social media.
Other: Favourite posts are featured each week.
Whatever the Weather
Open: Wednesday - Friday
Rules: Link up to two posts - old or new - about family themed outdoorsy posts. Add the badge to your posts, and comment on the host post and at least two others.
Other: Tweet your post to @monkeyandmousey for a retweet.
Wicked Wednesdays
Open: Wednesday Morning - Friday Evening.
Rules: Link a post with a funny picture, no words required. Add the badge to your post and comment on at least two others.
Other: Tweet your post to @brummymummyof2 with the hashtag #wickedwednesdays for a retweet. Similarly, hashtag your picture #wickedwednesday on Instagram, and each week a few favourites will be regrammed.
Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop
Open: Wednesday - Thursday.
Rules: Link as many family friendly blog posts as you like - no giveaways, etsy shops, adult sites, or other blog linkies. Comment on at least two posts, Tweet about the linky, and follow your hostesses on social media.
Other: If you're new, comment on linky post to let the hostess know.
Wordless Wednesdays
Open: Wednesday - all week.
Rules: Link as many family friendly blog posts as you like - try to comment on other posts.
Other: Favourite posts are featured each week.

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