Monday, 11 August 2014

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, 

Friend Request, Connect Requests and Followers.  

What's the etiquette for responding (or not!)?

Hello!  My name's Louisa and I am an addict, I just can't get enough, a social media whore, I find the beep of notifications for all the platforms an irresistible draw.   I have made some great online friends and contacts and I reckon I know the systems well.  So here's a little piece about how to handle contact requests and privacy settings.

It has taken me a long time to get here, lots of rejections and unfriendings but honestly that's not how to work social media.

I used to refuse connect requests from people I didn't know, and unfriend people if we hadn't been in touch for a while, but that really only serves to create bad feeling and quite frankly, it is bad mannered.  

So, when should you refuse a friend request on Facebook? 

When should you refuse a connect request on LinkedIn? 

Why, I hear you ask!  LinkedIn tells me after all that I should only accept contact from people I actually know.  Facebook is all about protecting your privacy.

Okay here's why!  On Facebook you have a lot of control over what you share but you need to understand how grouping system works.  If someone sends you a friend request and you're not keen to be any closer, unless they're a stalker (in which case you should block them and report them) accept their request, and put them straight into a group called 'restricted'.  Restricted is automatic group which means they will only see anything you post for public viewing.  So they don't get to see your stuff, nor do they get annoyed or upset about being rejected!

LinkedIn - why would anyone ever refuse a connect request on LinkedIn - you basically have to pay LinkedIn a subscription to get your profile boosted - more contacts is more free viewings, more networking opportunities.  Keep connecting!  Just don't post sensitive personal or company information or anything that might elicit responses that enable your competitors to steal your clients or business!
An example of this would be, as I have recently seen, one of my competitors posting jobs that got responses from potential candidates.  I was then able to pick off and connect with the candidates myself!
But, if you have a contact on LinkedIn who posts inappropriate remarks on your posts, I would block them and the same for Facebook.  

It is so hard to gain followers on Twitter, because it is not an automatic like for like, people can follow you without you following them and you can follow them without them following you!  

Spread the love, connect, connect, and follow!  It's nice to be nice!  All publicity is good publicity after all!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

How to choose a nursing home for a loved one

Just recently my job with has involved, among other things, working on staffing solutions for nursing homes in Ireland.  I must admit, I haven't had much contact with with Care of the Elderly in Ireland before now; my parents are still young, my grandma lives nearby, still lives alone and manages well.  My teenage son tells me regularly that I had better be nice to him or I will end up in the worst nursing home he can find - and that is the extent of my contact with nursing homes until last the couple of months. It got me thinking, if I am ever in the position to need to find care for a loved one, how would I go about finding the right place, what would be my priorities in ensuring the optimum health and happiness for them? 

So based on my recent experience, here are my top ten pointers for consideration.

1, 2 &3) Location Location Location - The Nursing Home has got to be easy for you and other family members to travel to - this has got to be the number one priority.  Much nicer to be able to drop in for frequent short visits than to have to plan a possibly stressful infrequent day out.    If the Home is near you, it is easier to keep an eye on things too!  Make a shortlist of accessible homes and visit them all at least once.

4)When you visit - look at the facilities, take in the room sizes, are they en-suite?  Single?  Double?  Is there room for personal belongings?  What is the communal space like?  Is it clean and comfortable? Are there phones in each room?  Is there wifi?

5)What is the medication procedure and what are the access arrangements to healthcare/doctors/hospitals?  Do residents still see their own doctors?  What is the preventative care procedure e.g  Are flu vaccinations given as standard?

6)What is the staffing situation?  Talk to the nurses and health care assistants who are working during your visit.  Do they look happy in their work?  Are staff in permanent or agency roles?  Is there a high staff turnover or are residents able to build relationships with their carers?

7)Talk to residents.  Are they well dressed and looking cared for?  Is there any community spirit?  Are there any organised activities?  What is the daily routine?

8) What is the food like?  Does the home cater for special diets? (I have a particular interest in this being from a family of vegetarians - incidentally, there is a UK Charity that specialises in promoting vegetarian diets in Nursing Homes in the UK and Ireland I have been in contact with this excellent charity in my capacity as PRO with the Vegetarian Society of Ireland  Or if your loved one is coeliac, will their diet be properly catered for?

9)Is the Nursing Home Secure?  Do residents have a safe storage place for precious items?  Is the home alarmed?  Are individual rooms alarmed?  Are all staff properly Garda Vetted?

10)Lastly, look at the price.  What is covered in the cost you have been quoted, should you expect further charges.  Are there extra charges for laundry for example?

Choosing a home is never going to be a nice decision but we all want to do the best we can (unless you're my teenage son!) I hope my top ten list helps if you have to make a decision in the near future.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Blasts from the past. Notes and poems from 2001.

I was searching for some string early this morning;  Ruby wanted to play a game with the kittens.  Didn't find any string but came across a notebook dated 2001 that contained some crayon scribblings by a then two year old Harry and some scribblings by me-  notes about being a woman and a feminist in the noughties, a couple of poems to the guy I was dating at the time and about 15 or so little poems that I had written for my two year old son. It sent me off into floods of tears,both happy and sad at remembering, the nostalgia, the little things I had forgotten, those days were golden and blue.

Grandma and Grandad's Shop

My Grandma and my Grandad
Have a teddy-bear shop
with teddies sitting all around
from the bottom to the top

I love to go and see them
Grandad makes a cup of tea
He puts it in a yellow cup
Especially for me.

I really like the teddy-bears
Tho' best of all must be
The card stand that spins round and round
You'll have to come and see!

Going to stay at Grandma's House

I'm going to stay at Grandma's house
I've packed my teddy-case
Got my pyjamas and my sleepsuit
And a big smile on my face!

So tired!

I'm really not so tired
Don't want to go to bed
Want to watch the telly
Won't rest my sleepy head.
My eyes they will stay open
If I try with all my might
Don't want to fall asleep yet
I'm staying up all night!

I'll just close my eyes a little cos  
they feel a little sore
Snuggle in to Mumma
then snuggle in some more.
Don't know how I got here
but I'm in my little bed
And now it's bright it's morning time
Feel sunshine on my head!

Going out with Dad

Going out with Dad today
We're going to the sea
Got my bucket and my spade
and a picnic lunch with me.

I'm going to build a castle
big and strong and tall
with flags upon the turrets
and shells upon the wall

I love to run and splash about
making lots of waves
exploring all the deep and dark
there are dragons in those caves!

I wish I lived beside the sea
I'd play on the sand each day
collecting shells and finding crabs
Oh what a holiday!


I've got my bright blue wellies on
And my green rain hat.  Nearly ready to go out,
Look, here's my anorak!
Mudding pies, flapping wings
Splishing Splashing everything!
Oh mum, look now, I'm soaked right through
I need to come inside with you.

For the Birds 

Mummy made a cheesey pie. 
I made a pastry cake
I made it for the birdies and I put it in their lake.
Then I hid a bit away
to watch the birdies come
I think that when they flew away
I heard them say 'yum,yum!'

If I was an Elephant

I wonder if I had a trunk 
Where I usually have my nose
If it could reach down to my feet 
So I could smell my toes.

In the Garden

 Today in the garden in a big red pot
We put some little seeds in and put compost on the top.
Mummy filled my watering can, right up to the brim
I held it over the big red pot and poured the water n.

I wonder if tomorrow, there'll be flowers big and tall
With lovely bright red petals, they'll be loveliest of all.

A Bath Song

Row Row Row your boat
Up and down the bath
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is such a laugh


Weigh the flour, whisk the eggs
Add the sugar, now, what's next?
Turn on the mixer, spin it round
Turn out the mixture, cake tins found

Into the oven, golden brown
Into my tum, quickly down.

One Two

One Two
I love you!
Three Four
Love you more!
Five Six
Give you a kiss!
Seven Eight
It's getting late!
Nine Ten
Bedtime Again!

Fly to the moon in my highchair

If I was an astronaut
I'd fly up to the stars
I'd have a shiny spaceship
I'd fly all the way to Mars
And then there I'd have to stop
and have a cup of tea
with the Martians that live up there - I could bring them home with me
Maybe Martian tea will be a bit like chocolate milk
and the clouds I think they live upon would be as soft as silk.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Earlier today, I opened a tin of coconut milk for the Sweet Potato Soup, needed to make something to use up the coconut milk and as we ate the last of our blueberry oaty rock cakes today, I used some of the milk to make cakes, the rest of it will go into making a frosting when the buns have cooled.

Speckled Buns, with chocolate, coconut and banana

60 gr caster sugar
60 gr soya margarine
2 bananas
100 gr self raising flour
6 dessert spoons coconut milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
40 gr dark choc finely grated

Turn your oven on to 180C.

Cream the sugar and fat together.  Mash the two bananas in to the mixture - don't worry if it starts to look like it's going to curdle.  Add the flour and baking powder. Add the coconut milk.Mix together and then mix in the grated chocolate.  Put the mixture into bun cases.  This is enough mixture for 18 small buns.
Bake for 15 mins. Cool on a wire rack.

15g icing sgar
15g cocoa powder
coconut milk - I just used enough to mix it to the consistency I wanted
50g dark chocolate, melted

Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder, add the coconut milk a little at a can use the frosting as is or if you want a richer taste, melt the chocolate and add it in.

Felafel - Baked!

I love felafel but the frozen variety available in the shops here just don't hit the spot so I make my own and freeze them.  It's fairly easy (as long as I remember to restock on dried chickpeas).

250 grms dried chickpeas
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
a combination of ground cumin and ground coriander (at least a teaspoon of each)
a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander
a teaspoon of salt
2 dessert spoons of gram flour
a little water
oil for cooking (olive or sunflower)

Set your oven to 200C.  Put a couple of tablespoons of oil on a baking tray. Put the tray in the oven to heat up the oil.

I quick soak the chickpeas - which means putting your dried chickpeas into a large saucepan, covering with water, bring to the boil, boil for 5 minutes then turn off the heat and leave to soak in the water for at least an hour.
Rinse your soaked chickpeas, put them in the food processor with the roughly chopped onion, grated garlic,spices and salt.  Give it a good whiz.  Then add a tablespoon of cold water and the gram flour and mix again.  The mixture should hold together quite well now.  Shape it the mixture into small balls and place on the heated oily baking tray and cook for about ten mins, check them, turn the felafel over and cook for another 5 minutes.

If you don't cook all of your felafel, freeze the ones that you want to keep on a baking tray.When they are frozen transfer them to freezer bags.

It's cold, its grey and it's wet. So I decided to make a bright, soothing and warming soup for lunch from the sweet potato, celery and tomatoes in the fridge.  We make soup a lot. Weekends I am usually limited to lentil and tomato or sweet onion to keep both the kids happy, but this is a nice bright orange one, perfect for a grey day.
Easy peasy recipe and here it is:

Sweet potato, tomato and red lentil soup

Coconut oil, about a dessertspoon
One onion, chopped
One clove of garlic, grated or finely chopped
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
One large sweet potato, chopped evenly
3 stick of celery, chopped
6 tomatoes
50 grms split red lentils
Fresh coriander (optional)
Coconut milk (optional)

Fry the onion in the coconut oil over a gentle heat for a few mins, until it starts to soften,  Add the garlic and coriander, give it a stir then add the sweet potato and celery. Fry gently, stirring occasionally.  I skinned my tomatoes today (but I don't always). To skin your tomatoes, place them in a large bowl, pierce the skin and cover with boiling water.  After a few minutes it will be easy to remove the skins, then chop your tomatoes up and add to the pan.  After rinsing your lentils, (I put them in a sieve and keep them under a running tap), add them to the pan. Give it a stir then add enough cold water to cover your vegetable plus a little more. Bring to the boil then simmer gently until all your vegetables are cooked, this will take about 25 mins.  Taking your pan off the heat, whiz with a hand blender for a nice smooth soup.  If you have some fresh coriander it would be the perfect garnish or add just before you whiz with the hand blender.

Tip:  Fresh coriander, and other herbs are often in the reduced section in supermarkets when it hits its use by date.  Buy it,wash it, dry it, freeze it and chip a bit off when you need it.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

It's been a while, well, almost two years since I have posted anything. Not that I haven't been cooking,  mummies are always cooking!  Today we made pizza dough (500g plain four, I use half wholemeal, a teaspoon of dried yeast or one of the easy blend packets, a teaspoon of salt, about a mug of cold water and a good dollop of olive oil) I use passata as my tomato topping.   I let the kids roll out and top their own pizzas, they enjoy it and so doI,even if it is a bit messy. There are rarely any leftovers.  We also made lentil daal pasties, apple turnovers, and just now pasta with lentil and red pepper sauce followed by oaty blue rock cakes ad it is the Oaty Blue Rock Cake Recipe I want to post.  Sunday evenings I always need cake, and it is very handy to have something wholesome ready to go into lunch boxes on a Monday morning.  Recently I have been adding oats to just about every cake I have made and wanted to share today's recipe with you:

Oaty Blue Rock Cakes

Set your oven to 200C and grease a baking sheet. This recipe will make eight cakes.

4oz plain wholemeal flour
1oz plain flour
2oz porridge oats
2 tspn baking powder
1 tspn mixed spice
5 dessert spoons agave nectar
4oz blueberries
1 oz flaked almonds
4oz vegan margarine
1 teaspoon of Ogran made up with two tablespoons of water or as directed on the pack.
A little milk of your choice to mix to a wet consistency. I used soya milk.

Sift flours, spice and baking powder in to a large bowl, add the oats.  Add the agave nectar and then mash in the margarine with a fork,so that the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.  Add the egg replacer and then   the blueberries and the flaked almonds, giving to a good mix.   Each cake should be about one heaped dessert spoon, you want to make 8 cakes from this mixture.  Bake for 12-15 mins. Put them on a wire rack to cool (if they last that long!)