Saturday, September 3, 2016

Netflix Summer Treats

We always love getting new treats in the post from Netflix as part of the Streamteam gang.
And over the summer the surprise packages were so welcome by my little kiddoes.
The launch of Beat Bugs, a new family animated series about insects who like to spontaneously burst into Beatles songs, had us all in fine voice.
We didn't quite manage to film ourselves singing 'All you need is love' as Neflix suggested, but the kids did spend hours playing with the microphone, mouth organ and tambourine. Mostly, they've been fighting over the microphone in the car to sing tunes as we travel the length and breadth of Ireland.
And they've also been enjoying the introduction to all the classic Beatles tracks via this clever little animation, and me too! 

The other cool package we received in the post from Netflix was a beach towel and some funky beach goodies, such as a sunshade, a portable charger, a water bottle and some sun cream. The idea behind this bag of tricks is to give parents some peace and quiet on a family trip, by pulling out the tablet and firing up Netflix.

But I have a confession to make: I haven't actually used this goodie bag yet. Because once our family is out of the house and on the beach, or wherever, we tend to be pretty active. We're either swimming in the sea, or kicking a football, doing cartwheels, playing hide and seek, or simply just running around like lunatics.

The only time the tablets tend to come out are when the kids need some downtime indoors - or after a meal eating out when we need to buy some extra time to finish our dinners and have a drink.

But thanks all the same Netflix, I'm sure it will all come in handy soon.

Lastly, our latest favourite series on Netflix at the moment, for grown-ups, is Stranger Things. It starts off weird, but grows on you quickly until you're addicted to the creepiness and want to be transported back to the 1980s where kids roamed free all night long chasing monsters and their parents never seemed to notice!

** I am part of Netflix’s Stream Team**

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Joy Pockets 14

Joy Pockets provides a regular ray of sunshine that helps me to focus on the good in order to outshine the negative influences in my life.

  • Feeling a renewed energy for life, which has lead me to planning to teach my next antenatal class in a few weeks (my passion).
  • Kids that are growing strong, capable and super-smart. All 3 got stunning school reports saying that they are a pleasure to teach.
  • Winning free tickets to a comedy club in Cork city and turning it into a fun date night with hubby.
  • Soul connection dates - a half an hour break in every day that connects me into my soul. My list includes: swim in the sea, walk/run, shake, paint, yoga, play with kids, meditate, breathe, empowering music, listen to mantras.
  • Decluttering the house, employing a cleaner and my parents clearing up the overgrown garden. In the sunshine, my abode seems like a little corner of heaven now.

  • Living in a beautiful part of the world and having a community of lovely people and great friends.
  • Being alive and having my husband here. It’s 7 weeks since my husband had a cardiac arrest which caused a lot of stress and trauma for our family. Self-care has worked and we’re getting back on an even keel.
  • Holistic counselling – seeing a fabulous counsellor who is joining all my disparate dots. And it’s free via work, so even better.
  • Setting a goal of trying to live more abundantly and authentically.
  • Reading a stunning book about listening to the fire within, written by a friend – Burning Woman by Lucy H. Pearce.
  • Planning to go on a personal retreat to beautiful west Cork for the weekend.

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Netflix Streamteam: Voltron

It’s always nice to receive packages in the post, so a big package from Netflix always gets the kids excited.

Especially when the parcel arrives just before the school holidays and contains a load of cool stuff such as a basketball, wrists bands, and waterbottle.

Netflix has been releasing some fantastic retro animated options recently and now, in partnership with Dreamworks, they’ve reworked 1980’s Voltron: Legendary Defender for a new generation of Voltron viewers.

So before we had even watched the programme my kids were going to their school sports day with Voltron wrist bands and a Voltron cool new bag.

Now they’ve watched it, they’re smitten. Voltron: Defender of the Universe is an American animated television series that features a team of astronauts that pilot a giant Super Robot known as “Voltron”. 


** I am part of Netflix’s Stream Team**

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Goodbye Sweet Glasto

Catching the last bit of Glastonbury on the TV the other night, it made me realise that I've had my day and that I will never return again.

Yes, I feel I'm too old to enjoy crowds, constant mud and drunken youngsters.

I went when I was a student, 3 times, more than 20 years ago when tickets cost about £60. A time when we didn't have mobile phones, so if you forgot to meet up with someone at the arranged time/meeting point, you might not see them again for the rest of the weekend.

There were no sponsors or corporate areas - at least we didn't notice any. Everything seemed to be on a level playing field - just people there to have fun, not particularly there for the bands or to pose, but for the joy of being stoned in a field of beautiful random experiences.

One year I didn't have a ticket and I just found a gap in the wall and walked through it, a very simple way of guaranteeing the best freebie weekend ever.

I went back 10 years later courtesy of a sponsor and they gave us VIP tickets and a special backstage camping area pass. This was Glasto in style, but the corporations had taken over the festival by then, and it was a different crowd. No longer hippy types but media hourays out to get wasted for the weekend and catch some cheesy bands. Not that I minded the free tickets, but I felt I had sold out a bit.

And I knew from the difference in festival clientele in just 10 years (drunken yobs mostly), that I would never go back.

So when I hear it's Glasto time of year, my heart skips a beat and I reminisce of the stunningly free and youthful times I used to have in those Pilton fields. I yearn for a similar festival, so I've been going to smaller, grassroots, non-corporate festivals ever since.

And looking at the pictures of tents left behind in fields of mud because people have too much money to waste time packing up a muddy tent and carrying it home to clean, it makes me feel sad.

Abandoned tents at Glastonbury

So now I know for sure that I've hung up my Glasto cloak for good, left to the younger generations, I bid you farewell, old friend. It was a blast, but small is beautiful now.  

And watching the close of Glastonbury on Sunday night, flinching at seeing Chris Martin desperately trying to keep his voice in tune next to Barry Gibb, I had the benefit of being grateful that I was home and I could turn the sound down on the TV.

At least there was one silver lining from the Coldplay set; they provided us with a 5 min interlude of Rumi's Guesthouse (love that poem):

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,...

some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Binge-watching TV is the new norm

New research from Netflix shows that their members around the world are making their own rules when it comes to watching TV. 

Instead of watching just one episode per week as traditional TV would have us do, Netflix members are binge-watching their way through an entire series in less than a week. 

Netflix analysed global viewing of more than 100 TV series across more than 190 countries and found members watch around 2 hours a day when focused on finishing a series. These are called the Devourers, who on average members complete in 4 days, watching 2 hours, 30 minutes per day. 

The Savourers watch 1 hour, 45 minutes per day, on average completing in 6 days. 

Ten years ago, the only way we could binge-watch TV was when we got our hands on a box-set and set aside time to watch episodes back to back. I remember doing this with Buffy the Vampire Slayer over many lost weekends, in the dark in a basement flat in London, imagining I was as tough as the foxy slayer taking on a murky underbelly of society. 

But now, thanks to countless streaming services that use the internet on any device, binge watching is the new norm.

Netflix’s Binge Scale shows that members blow through Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black and The Walking Dead; and are captivated by House of Cards, Narcos, Bloodline and Mad Men.

Classic elements of horror and thrillers push series like The Walking Dead, American Horror Story and The Fall towards the devour end of the scale. Likewise, easy-watchable comedies like Orange is the New Black, Nurse Jackie and Grace and Frankie, also push the buttons for ‘just one more.’

My own favourite Binge-watch TV is House of Cards, Better Call Saul and Grey’s Anatomy (sadly not available on the UK/Ireland version of Netflix). What programmes can't you get enough of? 

** I am part of Netflix’s Stream Team**

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

When a holiday turns to drama

My recent holiday wasn’t a holiday.

It was a dramatic and traumatic challenge to the nervous system that lead to me needing to take a further 2 weeks off work to recover after arriving home.

Yet it started off with such promise.

We arrived in paradise, thrilled to benefit from the kindness of good friends and have use of their beautiful villa in Majorca all to ourselves for 2 whole weeks.

We were just slowing down, easing off the pressure and relaxing and having fun with our 3 kids.

Then, wham, day 2, an unexpected shock hit us. My husband was cooking on a new-fangled stove – an induction hob – when he suddenly fell to the floor.

I heard him fall, whackthud onto the hard-tiled floor of the kitchen, his body twitching and his eyes rolling.

I screamed and ran over, holding his head thinking he smashed his head when he fell, believing it to be just a fainting episode or possibly a fit. But his eyes were rolling. He came back after 30 seconds, but then rolled away again.

I called the kids asking them to bring me my phone and I called the emergency services and somehow, miraculously, got him to a hospital within half an hour.

That day was a total panic and blur. An amazing family took our 3 kids for the day whilst I went with him to A&E. I had to call our health insurance company and hope that we were covered for the dozens of tests and scans that were happening.

In the meantime, he was drifting in and out of what the doctors called Asystole, which I’d never heard of. I googled it. The layman’s term is ‘flat-line’!!!

Cut a long story short, they said he needed a pacemaker to prevent his heart from stopping again and they had to transfer him to a cardiac specialist in Palma 45 miles away.

It was a very frightening time. In a split-second our holiday turned from carefree happy-go-lucky bliss to pure horror. A fit and healthy 50-year-old man suffered a sudden cardiac arrest for no apparent reason.

Thankfully, we live to tell the tale.

There are many silver linings to this story – the fact that he had excellent medical attention in Majorca; the good friends and family who appeared like cavalry over the hill – literally arriving on the first plane the next morning;  many good local-based people; an incredible health system; a great health insurer (Laya), who all helped to lessen the impact of this nightmare. And the fact that he was fit and healthy man means he was able to recover fairly quickly.

It’s taken a lot out of us, emotionally, physically, financially and psychologically, but here’s hoping time will heal and we’ll put it behind us and fully move on soon. 

When a shock hits you like this, you begin to live in the moment; initially to get through the day and then that evolves into a realisation that life is short and that every second counts. One things for sure, I'm going to be bringing a lot more joy into my life from now on and making the most of all my precious moments with my friends and family. 

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Netflix: What we've been watching

We've really been making the most of our Netflix subscription recently and watching a lot of their movies.

Perhaps it's because it's meant to be Spring and we're supposed to be outdoors playing, but sadly the weather has conspired against us and we've been mostly forced to stay indoors and try to find things to cheer us up instead.

For the kids, they discovered that Frozen is now streaming on Netflix UK & Ireland so our house is humming to the tune of the old favourite power ballads of Frozen again - until they all get fed up of it again (the novelty wore off quite quickly for me).

I must admit I'm a big fan of Brave - another animated tale about Medieval Scotland when men were Trojans and bears roamed around castles - and the kids seem to like it too.

I love sitting down to a family movie with all 3 of my kids, but these days it's hard to find a movie that they'll all sit down and watch without complaining or getting up halfway through to do something else. Hotel Transylvania ticked that box recently, and we all found something in the movie to laugh at and enjoy.  

I took the kids to the cinema to see Madagascar 3 when it came out, so I'm looking forward now to sitting down with them again and watching it as the Madagascar movies are so funny.

We've never seen Shark Tale, but I've heard great things about it, so that's another one for the 'to watch' list.

My youngest, the 4 year old, is still obsessed with Paw Patrol, Ninjago and Power Rangers, much to the annoyance of the eldest two kids who moved on from those years ago.

My 6 year old daughter will watch anything that has lots of pinky girlie things in, so her current favourite seems to be My Little Pony but she also loves the Barbie series, which drives me crazy.

My 8 year old is only interested in footie (soccer) movies. His current favourite is The Unbeatables, an animated movie about football, love and triumph over evil. But he's also a fan of Kicking and Screaming and The Big Green (non-animated footie movies).

For the grown-ups, after finishing the fabulous House of Cards, we've been discovering Hinterland, a gripping detective series set in beautiful Wales. And we've been enjoying some comedy movies including What We Did on our Holiday and Absolutely Anything. Go on, give them a go, they have some hilarious bonkers situations that will make you laugh your socks off.

And that's about it.

I'm looking forward to reconnecting with the happy-go-lucky Kimmy Schmidt next week, and introducing the kids to a modern-day animation of a giant ape I grew rather fond of as a child: Kong, King of the Apes (out on April 15). Could there be the same beating of the chest and roaring like a giant ape? I hope so....


** I am part of Netflix’s Stream Team and I’m enjoying it immensely**

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Is Easter the New Christmas?

Why do people make such a big thing of Easter? Is it the chocolate, is it the lamb? Who came first, the chicken or the egg?

I feel like I've entered a parallel universe where it's OK for grown men to prance around in scary bunny costumes and give sweeties to kids.

I can't be the only one who is freaked out by the idea of a man-size, over-zealous, chocolate-crazed giant rabbit?!

Exactly when was it that everyone started to make a big thing of it?

Bafflingly, it seems to get bigger and bigger each year!
Some kids now come downstairs to breakfast on Easter Sunday to find the giant bunny has been (WTF?) and normal rules don't apply just for today because we're going to eat nothing but chocolate all day instead!

Is it just the supermarkets and media feeding that frenzy? Force feeding us glossy or designer magazines to brainwash into equating Easter with indulgence and thinking of it as the New Christmas.

Yet so many people buy into it now. I feel like I've been in a coma for the last 10 years and missed something. The missing link between 1 small cream egg as a child and now the football team's worth of elaborate chocolate eggs for each child.

On the plus side, it's nice to have old friends contact me out of the blue and say Happy Easter, to which I mostly reply:

Happy Goddess Ēostre to you too!

It's when I see the commercialisation of pagan ideals and gods that I want to get back to the earth. Reconnect with my inner hippy and take notice of nature and tune out of the blatant exploitation of paganism.

I've blogged before about goddess Ēostre and how Easter evolved from being a seasonal reawakening and celebration of new life (hence the symbols of fertility: eggs and bunnies) into an excuse to binge on chocolate as it is today.

You can check out my Easter blogpost here:

In the meantime, I hope you're having a lovely break from work and taking some time to catch up with life and indulge in nice food, and if possible, take some nature walks and the appreciate the beauty offered by spring and new life.

Happy Goddess Ēostre !


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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Netflix for Dating

I was amused to read some illuminating new research showing the correlation between relationships and Netflix viewing habits.
The study coined a few new courting terms:
  • Showgoggles: A quarter of survey respondents find someone more attractive based on the shows they watch.        
  • A Modern Showmance.  Over a quarter (27%) think show-compatibility is an important factor when dating.  In fact, 13% would ask someone out based solely on show-compatibility, with men (34%) significantly more likely than women (19%) to get smitten based on similar tastes in shows and movies. 
  • Staying in is the New Date Night. 72% who are married or in a relationship say staying in and watching Netflix together is one of their favourite ways to spend a date night.
When you have kids, "date night" kind of goes out of the window, but I can honestly say Netflix has been great for getting us back together on the sofa and finding some common ground again with a gripping show. At the moment, we're obsessed with Better Call Saul and House of Cards.  

Apparently we're not alone, 58% bond with their other half over Netflix.

But most tellingly of all, over half of respondents (51%) said they waited until they were dating exclusively to share their Netflix accounts, while 17% wait to be engaged or officially married before becoming “Netflix Official”.
Happy Valentines Day!

** I am part of Netflix’s Stream Team and I’m enjoying it immensely**

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