Tuesday, 31 December 2019

New Year's Resolutions 2020

2020 New Year's Resolutions

2019 was pretty dismal when it came to keeping resolutions. I lost no weight, made no headway on my overdraft, scarcely managed 10k of fiction, and the garden is still an absolute eyesore. The only resolution I feel I really achieved was to blog more. With that in mind, I decided to simply recycle last year's resolutions for the most part and come at it refreshed and ready.

☆ #1. Lose Weight ☆ 

This will be the year I finally succeed!

☆ #2. Blog Like a Boss ☆ 

I really want to make it into the top 100 on the Tots chart, and to secure at least one brand collab a month.

☆ #3. Write a Novel ☆ 

Non-fiction, anyway! I have a topic I want to research, now it's just a question of getting that groundwork completed.

☆ #4. Save Money ☆ 

Last year started off well... then quickly reverted to the usual financial nightmare. In 2020 I am determined to get out of my overdraft and switch banks from the Natwest.

☆ #5. Sort Out The Garden ☆

I have a vision for it now, at least. I just need to actually implement it.

Have you made any resolutions this year? Let me know in the comments! :)

Monday, 30 December 2019

2019: Comping Year In Review

2019 - Comping Year In Review

I got the idea for this post after seeing Super Lucky Di's retrospective - though I'm afraid mine is not quite as impressive! This year was probably my worst ever since I began comping way back in c. 2010 and I really lost the comping mojo for a few months. I only bothered with about three days of advent comps.

Then, out of the blue, I was notified of a big win of £550 worth of books for Marianna's school. I feel a little more energised for the new year now and hopefully will start to see some more success.


★ Rabbit Food.
★ Gourmet Cat Food.
★ Dr Who Audio CD.
★ How To Knit, Sew and Crochet DVDs.
★ The Crafty Kit Company's Frankie Frog Crochet Kit.
★ Books, inc. paperback novels and the 2020 Match FC Barcelona Annual.
★ Portable North Pole Magic Pass.
★ 105 Activity Books from Laurence King Publishing.

Total Value: c. £700

Marianna also won her first ever competition! The Entertainer had a colouring competition running over the summer, with a colouring sheet you had to return to the store. I had so little faith in Marianna's chances I didn't even take a photo of her finished effort. The joke was on me because she won a Del's Food Truck set from Playmobil, with a RRP of £44.99.

Playmobil 70075 Del's Food Truck

To pick up the comping slack this year I put more effort into freebie hunting and ebay bargain hunting. The latter has been especially fruitful and I have won mountains of random stuff, all for just a penny! (I wrote a step by step guide to the whole process called How To Spend A Penny.) Jewellery, keyrings, CDs, books, clothes, shoes, craft supplies... All sorts. My favourite wins have been strings of 50+ glass beads for a penny a time, perfect for making bracelets and necklaces with Marianna. :)

How did you do in 2019?

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Win with Babi a Fi

Sunday, 29 December 2019

This Week - 29/12/2019

It doesn't matter how we start, we can be more than a spark

Christmas - you spend months gearing up for it and in a flash it's all over! Marianna seemed to have a blast, at least, and it's now full steam ahead for her birthday on Wednesday. That means the tree and all the trimmings will be coming down tomorrow, and it'll be like Christmas never even happened.

(Well, if you ignore the mountains of new toys everywhere.)

It's kind of terrifying to reflect on the fact I have a (soon to be) five year old child. It seems like, not yesterday, but last year I was finishing uni and trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do next...

Deal of the Week -

£25 off Dobell suits with promo code referral link https://dobell.mention-me.com/m/ol/vu1uj-jessica-powell

I pretty much took a week off from the blog, though I did post the End of Year Fandom Meme and a lyric sheet for Seren Fechan yn y Nen (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star).

For next year I've been trying to be way more organised - aka organised at all - about blogging. I've already planned out about 300 posts and have even finished writing some of them. The hope is I'll be able to keep the same momentum without having to invest so much time into 'content creation'.

Song of the Week -

Brighter - Patent Pending

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This Week - Weekly Overviews

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

End of Year Fandom Meme 2019

End of Year Fandom Meme 2019

Another year, another end of year fandom meme. (If you want to do it yourself I've got easy copy / paste at my masterlist post.)

Which TV shows did you start watching this year?

Too many...

Which TV shows did you mean to get into but didn't this year? Why?

So many things I never got around to. And a few I chose not to - I've not seen the last few episodes of Gotham and have no intention of correcting that. No Man's Land was a plot hole too far for me.


Which TV show impressed you least this year?


I don't understand Anthony's penchant for rewatching stuff, and I definitely don't get his completist need to see it all the way through. When a show becomes irredeemably bad, just drop it. There are so many series I have never seen the ending to for precisely this reason. I guess the problem with Smallville is that you wouldn't just be dropping it before the end. You'd be dropping it straight after the beginning...

It annoys me because the idea has such great potential, but then the execution sucks. Senator Kent, seriously. Then there's all the niggling questions which never get revolved, like: Why is Clark such an idiot? Why is Lana such a drip? Why does nobody think it weird a 22-year-old Lex Luthor is hanging around the local high school and wandering around the boys' locker rooms? Perhaps it's better that we don't know...


Your favourite TV show of the year?

Star Trek: Discovery. Michael should be the most annoying Mary Sue to hit our screens since Wesley Crusher, but somehow it just works.

Star Trek Discovery

Your favourite film you watched this year?

I actually made watching some films part of my 32 by 32 Bucketlist - and up to the Christmas season I had watched a grand total of seven. Thankfully the relentless festive TV scheduling has now bumped that figure up to 25. The best has definitely been the new live action Aladdin though. I was a bit dubious about Will Smith as the genie but Disney had it right - perfect casting.


Your main fandom of the year?

Star Wars, probably.

Your favourite book read this year?

It sounds really bad but... I've hardly read any published fiction this year. It's mostly been biographies and true crime. And the occasional UFO-centric release...

Favourite male character of the year?

Colin Robinson (What We Do In The Shadows)

I'm not even sure exactly what it is that makes Colin Robinson so hilarious to me. Maybe it's the very idea of an energy vampire hanging with the supernatural versions. Perhaps it's the Office(UK)-esque to camera segments. I just know that Colin getting off at the absolute mind numbing mundanity of the city council meeting was one of the best things I've seen this decade.

What We Do In The Shadows - Colin Robinson

Favourite female character of the year?

Hailey Yarner (Bletchley Circle: San Francisco)

She's so kooky and loveable! Chanelle Peloso really excels at those kind of characters - I thought she was great in the Cinderella Christmas Story too.

Hailey Yarner Bletchley Circle

Your biggest fan anticipations for the coming year?

I'm looking forward to new Star Trek!

Only question I ever thought was hardwas do I like Kirk or do I like Picard?

Your favourite album or song to listen to this year?


The fandom you haven't tried yet, but want to?

I don't have any - but am open to suggestions. :)

Your biggest squee moment of the year?

Baby Yoda. That is all.

Also I hope the reveal is that it's Yoda's self-love child. Because what SW canon has always needed is its favourite puppet to pull a DBZ Piccolo and hock up an egg containing his own reincarnation...

Baby Yoda

Your best new fandom discovery of the year?

Ghosts. It's a sitcom by the people behind the Horrible Histories show, and they really capture that whole kids telly charm without it being too sanitised. Basically, it's what Ghosts of Motley Hall would be if they made it today.


Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?

Just the usual - why do people not write  the fanfic I want to read??

For more fandom stuff, please click the image below:
Fandom - my life as a fan

Monday, 23 December 2019

Seren Fechan yn y Nen / Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Seren Fechan yn y Nen / Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

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Welsh Language / Iaith Cymraeg

Sunday, 22 December 2019

This Week - 22/12/2019

Mewn pob daioni y mae gwobr - There’s reward in every goodness

Three more sleeps! It's been a full on week of Christmas stuff for Marianna: school nativity, xmas dinner, visiting Santa, class Christmas party... At home we finished wrapping everybody's presents, writing out cards, and - more randomly - making star bracelets and necklaces.

Advent comp wise the results have been less than stellar. I've won a magic pass code for portable north pole (check out my review in the blog posts of the week section), a Barcelona FC 2020 annual, and some books for the school. That last one is actually quite impressive; it's about £550 worth of activity books, working out to three each for a class of 35 kids. It doesn't really benefit me, as such, but it'll make me look generous as chair of governors, at least!

Deal of the Week -

5% off at poundshop.com with promo code referral link https://prz.io/aoxvxyty

On the blog I posted about Marianna's school play, my five favourite tv chefs, a tutorial for making miniature jigsaw puzzles, and a review of Portable North Pole.

Song of the Week -

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This Week - Weekly Overviews

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Silent Night, Holy Night!

Silent Night - Dawel Nos

There are lots of different Welsh language translations of Silent Night, but I've gone with the 1918 version by J.C. Jones as it's my favourite. The literal translation back into English goes something like:

Silent Night! Holy Night!
All is clear, Heaven is beautiful;
Above the baby of the Madonna,
Holy child so tender, immaculate,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Silent Night! Holy Night!
The flock trembles on the moor!
Great rushes from Heaven up high,
Angels sing Alleluia!
Christ the Custodian who Came,
Christ the Custodian who Came!

Silent Nightfall! Holy Nightfall!
True Son of God, absolute love,
Radiance beams from thy Holy countenance,
With the dawn of thy redeeming peace,
Jesus received in a manger,
Jesus received in a manger!

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Welsh Language / Iaith Cymraeg

Friday, 20 December 2019

Five Top TV Chefs

Friday Five

Because I've been watching Heston's Marvellous Menu: Back To The Noughties on iplayer, here are my five favourite TV chefs...

#5. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

The problem of choosing this topic for a list is that, well, I don't really like cookery programmes! I don't like cooking, avoid it at every possible opportunity, and have been reliably informed I have the palate of a soggy square of beige wallpaper. So, what I liked about River Cottage was that it wasn't just about cooking stuff. That, and Fearnley-Whittingstall always sounds like he should be reading a Radio 4 bedtime story.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

#4. Ainsley Harriott

To be honest, I can't remember ever seeing Harriott cook. I do remember many an evening spent doing homework to an accompaniment of camera 'nudge nudge wink winks' as the culinary challenged set themselves up for disaster. When I was at uni daytime cookery was always stuff like Britain's Best Dish and other shows which just made you feel inadequate. The contestants on Ready Steady Cook were 100% more relatable!

Ainsley Harriott

#3. James Wong

Ethnobotanist James Wong offers an addictive mix of gardening, cookery, and science. He's also gently inoffensive in terms of onscreen personality!

James Wong

#2. Fanny Craddock

Okay, I know I said that I don't like straightforward cookery shows... but there is nothing straightforward about Fanny Craddock! I love how kitsch it is. All that eye-searing wallpaper, the over the top presenting, and the way Fanny herself kind of looks like a modern day Elizabeth I. Plus, let's face it, I will defend the prawn cocktail to the bitter end.

Fanny Craddock

#1. Heston Blumenthal

The man himself! Would I want to eat the food Blumenthal creates? Doubtful. Would I be willing to pay the going rate? Absolutely not. But what I love about Heston Blumenthal's television work is that that doesn't really matter. It still makes for great viewing, as well as challenging even the most uninterested of us to think again about what we want to put on our plates.

Heston Blumenthal

Who tops your list? Let me know in the comments! :)

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Friday Five

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Portable North Pole

Portable North Pole - Spread the Christmas Magic

Portable North Pole is Santa's online portal for keeping in touch with children - and their adults. Basically, you input the requested details about the child, then the computer wizardry creates a personalised video or phone call that is sure to thrill any believer.

And the odd dubious doubter too!

I'd seen some reviews for the app version but, as anyone who knows me will attest, I'm not a big fan of apps. (Well, not unless they're for simple bus friendly games.) If I wanted to do everything on a tiny little touchscreen I wouldn't have shelled out a few hundred quid for a laptop. So, yeah, I'd heard of PNP but hadn't looked into it any further.

PNP Review

Then I had an email to say I'd won a PNP Magic Pass, which made me realise that you can totally do it all from the website. They actually offer three different types of passes:

1. Video Pass (£9.99) 'gives you unlimited access to Premium Videos to send to an unlimited number of recipients' and lets you watch them online until the Pass expires.

2. Magic Pass (£12.99). Same as #1, plus 'multi-device scenarios (call included in the video), unlimited calls and video calls, downloads of all Santa Videos in 1080 HD, extras in the Kids Corner'.

3. Ultimate Pass (£31.99, currently on offer for £19.99). Same as #2 but, instead of the pass expiring on September 30th of the following year, it lasts for 10 years.

Anyway, I gave it a whirl today with the 'Searching for Stardust' video and was pleasantly surprised with how easy the process was. You just upload a couple of photos, type in a few details, and select a few categories like the behaviour your child has been working on this year - there are all sorts available, from respecting your mother to potty training.

Portable North Pole Magic Pass Review

I honestly wasn't sure how Marianna would react, or even if she would believe in it... But as soon as Santa said her name she was absolutely mesmerised. The production quality of the videos is very high, and the text to speech pronunciation blends in fairly seamlessly. I am definitely going to sort out the video + phone call option for Christmas Eve!

PNP release new videos each year to give you value for money for the Ultimate Pass but, if you're like me, you can just use your cheaper pass to produce and download a bunch of vids ready for future use. In fact, you don't even need to buy a pass at all. You can purchase individual videos for £4.99 each, or set up a free trial and get one personalised vid for nothing. :)

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

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Welsh Language

Welsh Language / Iaith Cymraeg

Masterlist for my Welsh language lyric posts, etc.

★ Babi Siarc (Baby Shark)

Dawel Nos, Sanctaidd Nos (Silent Night, Holy Night)

Dymunwn Nadolig Llawen (We Wish You a Merry Christmas)

Lliwiau'r Enfys (Colours of the Rainbow)

Penblwydd Hapus (Happy Birthday)

Roedd Gan Ewyrth Ifan Fferm (Old McDonald Had a Farm)

Seren Fechan yn y Nen (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)

Ting-a-Ling (Jingle Bells)

I've also got a post listing 50 Free Welsh Language Resources.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Tutorial: Miniature Orchard Toys Jigsaw

Miniature Orchard Toys Jigsaw Puzzle

Orchard Toys are a British company who grew from modest beginnings making blocks and stencils for local schools. Today, over 40 years later, they're one of the best known names for children's educational games and puzzles. You can get a free Orchard Toys catalogue with perfectly 1/6 scale sized goodies by filling out the online request form.

Wait a few days and, huzzah, you're ready to make some miniatures!

You will need:

Envelope / Card

Miniature Jigsaw Puzzle

Flick through your catalogue and find a likely looking subject. Make sure you choose a picture that is forward facing - some of them are photographed at an angle leaning towards flat, meaning it will look strange when cut out. Roughly cut it out and pritt stick it to the manilla envelope it arrived in; this will make it look more realistic, as if it has a cardboard back.

The paper quality of the catalogue is really nice, so you don't really need to strengthen the picture. You might want to glue a few layers of envelope to it, anyway, to make it look more like a young child's chunky jigsaw.

Make a miniature doll jigsaw

All that's left to do is cut along the little jigsaw lines. It's a bit fiddly with regular paper scissors, but doable, and if you do want to tidy up the edges afterwards you can just give them a quick once over with an emery board.

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Monday, 16 December 2019

Hay Presto!

Hay Presto School Nativity

It was Marianna's school play today, conveniently timed to be just before pick up. Anthony got three tickets this morning so we both went, along with my mum. The whole thing was so cute! KS2 are doing Aladdin, so Foundation Phase did Hay Presto - 'an exstrawrdinary musical nativity' by Matthew Crossey and Tom Kirkham.

The whole thing was so cute!

Marianna was playing an angel... I bought the dress as soon as we got the letter, but left the rest kind of late so we had to improvise with fairy wings and a flower crown wrapped with tinsel... Necessity is the mother of invention, after all. :)

Hay Presto Nativity Synopsis

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Family Life

Sunday, 15 December 2019

This Week, 15/12/2019

Bob un cam, cer m'lan - with every step, go forward

Anthony has kindly given both me and Marianna his cold so I'm currently typing through a fog that has nothing to do with the state of my glasses! I finally had my appointment with the doctor this week and basically told him that I felt like I was cracking up. They've switched my antidepressants over from 200mg of Sertraline to 20mg of Fluoxetine (the less loaded name for Prozac), so we'll see how it goes.

I got some stronger painkillers too because my back is still screwed. (It was a lot better, then I tripped over Marianna and fell down the stairs...) They haven't been that successful to be honest - it took me 15 mins to walk to the polling station on Thursday. I.e. the school which is two minutes from my house. At least it was worth it for the local result, but nationally...

We're living in a world in which Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, two men unfit to run a jumble sale, have been democratically elected. It's no wonder I'm manically depressed.

So, yeah, current affairs suck so I'm going to focus on finishing the KonMari process at home. Take control of your space, take control of your life. Hopefully!

Deal of the Week -

50% off at I Saw It First

On the blog I posted a guide to Make It Pop dolls, lyrics sheets for the Welsh versions of Jingle Bells and We Wish You A Merry Christmas, a picture of my redone noticeboard, and a run down of five terrible prime ministers. On Thursday I just posted an election poster - not that it did any good, of course!

Song of the Week -

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This Week - Weekly Overviews

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