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Beating the Spammers

No More Spam!! This is just a very quick post tonight to say that I am having to put word verification back on 'Cupcakes and Cadenzas; in the hope that it will stop or a least reduce the number of spam comments that the blog is receiving. Over the last few weeks I have been getting anywhere between 5 and 10 comments every day ranging from offers of payday loans to viagra to protein shakes for bodybuilders and I am starting to get a bit fed up with it. They are being caught by Blogger's security and placed in the spam folder and I do have comment moderation on but it still annoys me. Perhaps it's because I haven't been posting regularly. I would be interested to find out if anyone else is having this problem too. I don't get this on my Wordpress.org blogs but, having said that, I do pay a monthly fee to have all the spam caught, analysed and deleted if it definitely is spam. Blogger is free and they do a pretty good job of stopping the spam getting through bu

Happy Samhuinn

The Day of the Dead It's October the 31st today and we all know what that means but instead of talking about Hallowe'en or 'Trick or Treating', I would like to tell you a bit about the ancient Celtic festival of Samhuinn (pronounced Sow-in) and sow as in the female pig as opposed to sow seeds. Samhuinn translates as 'Summer's End' and falls halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. Samhuinn (Scottish spelling) was and in some cases, still is celebrated in Scotland, Ireland and The Isle of Man. It is the time of year by which the harvest must be gathered in and everything is ready and prepared for winter. This is also the time when the country folk brought their cattle down from the summer pastures to be closer to the farm and selected the ones to be slaughtered to provide food for the communities over the coming winter months. Although November 1st is officially Samhuinn, the night of October 31st or November's Eve plays an im

The Death of a Blog

Today, I feel a bit sad.  Having decided to start posting regularly to Cupcakes and Cadenzas again I was looking through the blogs that I have listed on my 'Blogs I Love Reading' page as well as all the blogs I subscribe to in Google Reader and it was what I found there that made me sad. A large number of the blogs have been abandoned. No updates, no warnings...nothing! The bloggers have just given up and the really sad part is that many of them were well established blogs with followers and really interesting content but, for whatever reason, they haven't been updated for a long time. It made me wonder how many other abandoned blogs there are out there in the Blogosphere. Thousands, maybe even millions. An uphill struggle Blogging is a funny thing. Pro-blogging and business blogging aside, a huge number of blogs, as you know, are written by people who want to share their hobbies, day to day lives, photographs, love of books etc. etc. They start off well but i

A New Look!

Makeover Because I haven't done much with Cupcakes and Cadenzas for quite a while, I thought that it was perhaps time to give the blog a bit of a makeover. I've always liked the Dynamic layouts which Blogger introduced last year but, having looked at the some of the online reviews, it seemed that a lot of bloggers seemed quite unimpressed with the templates. They didn't like that fact that you can't really alter the code to make the blog look exactly as you want it and they also didn't like the lack of compatible widgets. Because of that I decided not to try out the new layouts but I think it's time to give it a go. I have two other blogs, both with Wordpress.org and I can alter html/code and use plugins and widgets to my heart's content on those. You can check them out if you want to see what I mean. My personal one is Life with Yvie  and my business site is Indigo Horizons . Both are relatively new and I love what can be done with them but, at the en

Quick Catch-up

Hello again everyone! After saying several times that I was back on track with Cupcakes and Cadenzas and that I would be blogging regularly blah blah blah - I have to confess that I have - yet again - failed miserably. You can tell that from the fact that I haven't posted anything since the 3rd August. In my defence, things have been hectic crazy. I have been busy as usual with my teaching, coaching and singing but on top of that I have been setting up my new jewellery business and the corresponding website and blog. It's amazing how much time these things take especially when you're trying to do it all yourself. Suddenly I had to learn how e-commerce works, how to set up shopping carts and how to become a photographer as well as a million other things. I have plenty of stock made for the shop but actually photographing and listing it is a full time job in itself. Not only that, but once I had a few things listed, people started buying them so I had to start all o

Quick and Easy Brownie Recipe

This morning I found this recipe on Stumbleupon and tweeted it as it really appealed to me. I love brownies and the fact that you can have one, freshly made, in about three minutes if you really wanted one...well...what could be better?? It was only after I tweeted it though that I suddenly thought 'What if it's horrible? What if the recipe doesn't work?' There was only one way to find out and so I got together all the ingredients and tried it. I can assure you that it does work and is just delicious. The first thing I would recommend is that, once you put all the dry ingredients in the mug, give them a good mix with a teaspoon to make sure they're really blended before you add the oil and water. Secondly, make sure it's a fairly big mug as this makes quite a big brownie. I used a large Le Creuset coffee mug and that seemed about right. Personally, I would say that this could actually do two people so you could make it and then split it into two. Althoug

The Hazard of Handbags - Update

Well, there has been little improvement in my shoulder since my last post and, out of interest, I decided to look into just what we should be carrying in our handbags on a daily basis. I have decided that the amount of stuff I pack into my handbag is excessive and that I should cut down a bit. After some research I think that the FAB-U-LOUS Camilla Morton, author of 'HOW TO WALK IN HIGH HEELS (The Girl's Guide to Everything)' and other books, has it about right. She suggests that you carry the following items in your handbag: DAYTIME Mobile phone  Purse (preferably with some money in it) Notebook Pens/pencils Lipstick Lip-gloss Perfume Keys Safety pins/sewing kit (great idea) Compact (to powder your nose) Address book Diary Business cards  Plasters Spare pair of shoes if the size of your bag allows. For those of us who use Filofaxes you can see that they actually save a bit of room in your bag as they cover the notebook, pens/pencils, address b

The Hazard of Handbags

This morning I woke up with a pain in my left shoulder. It was a dull ache and there was a band of tightness right round my arm just below the shoulder. When I sat up I realised I couldn't lift my arm more than a few inches. My first thought was that I had been lying on it during the night. My OH at this point had different ideas and was making unhelpful comments such as 'Maybe you're having a heart attack...or a stroke! It can happen at any age you know!' I gave him one of my withering looks as slowly it began to dawn on me just what had happened. I have had the same pain twice in the past and the cause of it was...my handbag. The first time I had it was several years ago. I went to see the doctor and, once I had described my symptoms to him, he leant over, picked up - no - struggled to lift my overflowing hand bag from the floor and told me he was pretty sure he knew what the problem was. The same thing happened again a few years later with a different handbag.

2012 Reading Challenge Update

I thought today I would give you a quick update on how I'm doing with my '2012 Reading Challenge'. My aim was to read 50 books this year and so far I have managed...a pathetic...14. According to Goodreads that means that I am at 26% of my challenge when, at this point I should be at 56%. Ooops! So from today I'm really getting my reading head on. My problem is that I do all my reading in my bed at night but I have to confess to being a bit of a night owl and I usually stay up into the wee, small hours tweeting on Twitter or catching up with my two favourite soaps, Emmerdale and Coronation Street, which I never seem to manage to see at the scheduled times. Then of course, when I do get to bed, I'm too tired to read. It's not as if there's a shortage of reading material either. I currently have...wait for it...57 books on my Kindle and 12 'paper' books all waiting to be read. I've even started carrying my Kindle everywhere with me in the ho

The Big Fitness Push

I have been on a quest to find my 'mojo' because, for the last few months, I seem to have lost it. ( To be honest I had no idea what 'losing your mojo' meant and I had to look it up but now that I know what it is, it sounds about right). Since just after Christmas I have found everything to be a bit of a struggle and I have really lacked motivation. I have been cutting back on my teaching and coaching to allow me to get on with other projects but, despite having more time, I have struggled to do anything with it. I haven't done anything with my craft business since March, I'm almost at a standstill with my blogging and I feel all Twittered and Facebooked out. The other thing I have done less and less of is exercise and that's primarily what this post is about. I used to be very active. I danced, ran, cycled, competed on my horses, took my dogs for long, long walks and went to the gym 5 times a week but gradually, really since moving to the North East o

Silence is Golden...for some

Earlier today the unthinkable happened and, to be honest, I never expected this day to come although I'm sure many have wished for it for a long time, especially my long-suffering OH. Someone has managed to temporarily silence me. I can't speak and, even worse, I can hardly eat although I have been assured that it is only temporary and things should be back to normal within a couple of days. Phew! So, who managed to succeed where others have tried and failed?  MY DENTIST! Somehow, whilst preparing a back tooth for a crown, he...wait for it...managed to...drill my tongue!! I didn't actually feel it happening because of the anaesthetic but I knew something was wrong when it went quiet and then I saw him and the nurse looking at each other over their masks. He then started to apologise and explain how there had been a bit of a problem and how occasionally dentists can catch their patients' tongues with the drill... Then he began to pack my mouth with gau

Keep Calm and Carry On!

So, who else has been feeling particularly patriotic over the last few weeks? I certainly have. I was glued to the TV for the whole of the weekend of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee. I stood next to one of the Olympic torch-bearers waving my Union flag as the flame was passed to him by one of the other runners and yesterday (16th June) we had Trooping the Colour to mark the Queen's birthday. I have been in my element for weeks and we've still got the 2012 Olympics to come next month!! One of the things that I am really loving is the number of products that have been appearing with the message 'Keep Calm and Carry On' and a little picture of a crown above the words. I thought it was all because of the Jubilee celebrations etc. but it appears there's a great story behind it. This is actually one of three posters which were produced by the British Government's Ministry of Information, on the eve of WWII in 1939. The other posters read 'Freedom is

Filofax Friday - The A -Z Index

Hi everyone! I hope you're all enjoying this amazing weather. I can't believe that just over a week ago it was snowing in Aberdeenshire and now we're basking in temperatures of 26 and 27 degrees C! Today I want to throw this post open to all my readers who are Filofax fans.  A few days ago a reader (Jane) asked what everyone does with the A-Z index in their Filofaxes. She made a good point which was that she, like many other people, stores all her names and addresses in her Smartphone. The same goes for iPhones, iPad etc. so really, is there any need for A-Z in your Filofax and if so, how do you use it? In my A5 Finchley, which is my work diary, I must admit I use the A-Z to store the names, addresses and telephone numbers of clients and students. I just really like having everything that I need for work in one place.  However, all other names, addresses, telephone numbers, etc which are not work related are stored on my iPad which mean that there isn't really

Back on the Radar!!

Cupcakes and Cadenzas is finally back on the radar! I have to say that since the end of the A-Z Challenge I feel as though I have been all 'blogged' out. Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed doing the challenge but blogging every day takes some doing and I believe that the topic I chose (nursery rhymes) knocked me slightly off kilter with the general direction of my blog and I have struggled to get the motivation back to get started again. However, I decided today that I really must make the effort and so here I am. I think the challenge was great fun but if I do it again or take on any further challenges, I will do them on a separate blog, set up specifically for challenges/blogfests. That way I can continue blogging on here at the same time.  Many, although not all of the other bloggers taking part in the challenge had 'writing' blogs and what they did fitted in with the general day to day posting on their blogs whereas my topic didn't really fit in. The g

A - Z Blogging Challenge: Z is for...THE END!!

So...it's finally arrived! It's the last day of the April 2012 'A to Z Blogging Challenge' and of course that means the letter 'Z'.  As I couldn't find a nursery rhyme for the letter 'Z' I have decided to cheat a little bit and I'm going to close my challenge with a great, feel-good song. The song does feature 'Z' and I think it's the perfect way to end this thoroughly enjoyable challenge. I would just like to thank everyone for dropping by and for your comments and kind words. I would also like to thank Arlee Bird for organising the challenge and also to thank all the co-hosts for their support. You can check out their blogs by clicking here and looking for the 'A to Z Team for 2012' list in the right hand side-bar. So, that's it and I will now hand you over to the great Mr Louis Armstrong to sum up how I feel about reaching this last day. Please feel free to join in!

A-Z Blogging Challenge: Y Is for...Young Roger

Well, it's the penultimate letter in the April A to Z Challenge and I cannot believe how quickly this month has flown past. As far as nursery rhymes go, the last few letters of the alphabet have certainly been the most challenging, especially U, V, X, Y and Z. Not only are the nursery rhymes beginning with those letters few and far between but there doesn't seem to be much history available for the ones that do exist. The little rhyme that follows is no exception but I love it and it made me laugh so I had to include it. It may be perfectly innocent but - and this may just be my mind - I can't help feeling that there is a double meaning here. Back in the 15th and 16th centuries it was common practice to replace lines in songs which were too bawdy or crude to be sung in public, with lines such as 'hey nonny nonny' or 'fal da riddle' etc. I leave you to make up your own minds on this one. YOUNG ROGER AND DOLLY  Young Roger came tapping at

A-Z Blogging Challenge: X is for...10

Well, I have to say that 'X' was a difficult one and I'm very surprised that I managed to come up with anything at all but here it is. X shall stand for playmates ten,  V for five stout, stalwart men. I for one, as I'm alive, C for a hundred and... D for five (hundred). M for a thousand soldiers true,  Now al l these figures I've told to you. This little nursery rhyme was used to teach children about Roman Numerals and I must admit, I have now learned it as I think it's really useful but unfortunately I can find no reference as to when it was first published or to any of the history behind it. It's a sweet little rhyme anyway.

A - Z Blogging Challenge: W is for...Wee Willie Winkie

William Miller Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,  Upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown. Tapping at the window, crying at the lock, Are the children in their beds for it's past ten o'clock? Many people are under the impression that Rudyard Kipling was the author of this little rhyme as he wrote a story in 1899, also titled 'Wee Willie Winkie' but this nursery rhyme was actually written in 1841 by Sotsman William Miller (1810-1872). When he had to give up his career in medicine because of ill health, his friends persuaded him to publish the childrens' poems that he had written over the years and because they were so popular he became known as the 'Laureate of the Nursery. 'Wee Willie Winkie' is by far the most famous of all his poems and although most of us only know the first verse (above) it is actually the beginning of a much longer poem. The full poem is written out in its original form below and after that there is a translatio

A - Z Blogging Challenge: V is for...Valentine.

'Roses are red, violets are blue, Sugar is sweet and so are you.' I bet we've all sent or received a Valentine's card at some time in our life with that verse in it - or at least some variation of it. It's a very popular little rhyme, but did you know that its origins have been traced back as far as 1590 to Edmund Spenser's ' The Faerie Queene '? ' She bath'd with roses red and violets blew  And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forest grew .' (All the spelling is correct in case you're wondering.) Later on, in 1784, a similar rhyme appeared in ' Gammer Gurton's Garland ', a collection of English nursery rhymes. Valentine's Card circa 1800 The rose is red, the violet's blue,  The honey's sweet and so are you. Thou art my love and I am thine; I drew thee to my Valentine: The lot was cast and then I drew, And Fortune said it should be you. I almost cried when I read it. It's so beauti

A-Z Blogging Challenge: U is for...Up.

Despite searching and searching I could not find any history behind any of the nursery rhymes beginning with U. In fact, up until yesterday I couldn't even find a nursery rhyme beginning with U but it's amazing what you can come up with if you persist. So today I am just going to give you the two rhymes that I have found. If anyone knows any of the history behind either/both of them I would be very interested to hear it. Up at Piccadilly, oh!   The coachman takes his stand, And when he meets a pretty girl he takes her by the hand. Whip away forever, oh! Drive away so clever, oh! All the way to Bristol, oh He drives her 4 in hand. This little rhyme was first found in The Nursery Rhyme Book (1897) edited by Andrew Lang and illustrated by L. Leslie Brooke. It can also be found in The Real Mother Goose (edition 1916) along with an illustration by Blanche Fisher Wright. Clearly this is about a coachman picking up a fare (the pretty gi

A-Z Blogging Challenge: T is for...Tommy Tucker.

Tommy Tucker  from Kate Greenaway's Mother Goose 1881 Little Tommy Tucker  Sings for his supper. What shall we give him? White bread and butter. How shall he eat it  Without e'er a knife? How will he marry Without e'er a wife? This nursery rhyme was first published in 1829. Around that time 'Tommy Tucker' was the colloquial name for an orphan so this rhyme is about how the orphans sang for their supper. Orphans, who were considered the lowest of the low, had to beg for their food on the streets and that is what is meant by 'singing for his supper'. White bread and butter sounds fine but, the fact that he didn't have a knife to cut it up shows that orphans owned nothing and because of their low status within the community, it was unlikely that an orphan would ever marry. Poor little Tommy Tucker.

A-Z Blogging Challenge: S is for...Sixpence

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye.  Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie. When the pie was opened the birds began to sing, Oh wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king? The king was in his counting house counting out his money, The queen was in the parlour eating bread and honey. The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes, When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose! There isn't much historical background to this rhyme other than in the early 17th Century cooks/chefs would bake pies then fill them with live songbirds. When the pie was cut open the birds would fly out much to the amusement of the dinner guests. The servants would then bring in the 'proper' pie for everyone to eat. Back in those days the 'commoners' believed that all a King did was count his money and all a Queen did was eat bread and honey - a great delicacy of the time. As for the maid? All I can think is that a blackbird - still angry from bei

A-Z of Blogging: R is for...Ring a Ring o' Roses

Kate Greenaway's  Mother Goose illustration of children playing the game   Ring-a-ring-o'-roses,  A pocket full of posies. Atishoo! Atishoo! We all fall down. Although this nursery rhyme didn't appear in print until 1881, it was being sung almost a hundred years before that to a similar tune to the one that we sing today. For years many people believed that this rhyme was associated with the Great Plague of 1665 and some believed it to go even further back, to the time of the Black Death. The reasons for this were as follows: Ring-a-ring-o'-roses - one of the first signs of plague was a rosy, red circular rash on the skin. A pocket full of posies - sachets of flower petals and sweet smelling herbs were carried around so that people could hold them to their noses to cover up the smell of the disease. Atishoo, atishoo - sneezing was one of the final symptoms of the plague before death occurred. We all fall down - that's exactly what happened. Th

A-Z Blogging Challenge: Q is for...the Queen of Hearts

The Queen of Hearts  She made some tarts, All on a summer's day; The Knave of Hearts He stole those tarts, And took them clean away. The King of Hearts Called for the tarts, And beat the knave full sore; The Knave of Hearts Brought back the tarts, And vowed he'd steal no more. No-one knows who wrote this wonderful nursery rhyme although it is known that it was around before 1785. It originally had three other verses  but as this verse gained popularity the others were more or less forgotten about.  The whole poem was based on the four suits in a pack of playing cards and each verse described the domestic arrangements of the suits. It would appear that the Kings of Spades was partial to flirting with the maids and the Queen of Spades lost her temper had them all beaten then sent away however, the Knave appealed to the Queen and she decided to let them all back again.  The King and Queen of Clubs were constantly fighting and the Knave refused to tak

Don't Get Mad - Get Even!!

I found this whilst reading a post on a great home-working blog How to Work From Home  and I just couldn't resist sharing it with you. This guy, Dave Carroll, is a Canadian musician and when careless baggage handlers from United Airlines broke his guitar and the company refused to take responsibility he decided to write and  record this song and post it on YouTube. It's had over 4 million hits and United have now paid for the repairs!! The moral of this story? Don't get mad - get even!

A-Z Blogging Challenge: P is for...Pussycat

Courtesy of Grandma's Nursery Rhymes "Pussycat pussycat, where have you been?"   "I've been up to London to visit the Queen" "Pussycat pussycat, what did you there?" "I frightened a little mouse under her chair." Although this nursery rhyme was first published in 1805, it is believed that it dates back to 16th century Tudor England and the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. It is said that one of the Queen's Ladies in Waiting had an old cat and this cat was allowed to roam around Windsor castle. One day it ran underneath the Queen's throne and its tail brushed against her foot which gave her a bit of a fright. Luckily, 'Good Queen Bess' found this amusing and decided that the cat would be allowed to roam freely around the throne room as long as it kept the room free of mice. I love this nursery rhyme and I love this story.

A-Z of Blogging: O is for...Old Chairs

Ok so firstly I need to give you the answer to yesterday's riddle. Old Mother Granya was...a needle! A huge well done to Iris and Susan who both got it right. You are much cleverer than I am. Before I knew the answer I went through so many things that she could have been and finally decided that she was a one eyed fox! So, on to today's nursery rhyme: 'Old chairs to mend Old chairs to mend; If I'd as much money As I could spend, I never would cry "Old chairs to mend" This rhyme is based on the street cry of the chair bottomers who were seen around town and city streets of England during the 17th and 18th centuries. Chair bottomers hawked their services through the streets carrying all the materials that were needed to mend the backs and bottoms of chairs. These included cord, rope, rushes and chair canes amongst other things. People would bring out any chairs which needed fixing and the bottomers would mend the chairs in the middle of the street

A-Z Blogging Challenge: N is for...?

Can you believe it? I cannot find a single nursery rhyme beginning with the letter 'N'. I can find children's poems and stories but not a nursery rhyme and so, today, I've decided to give you something different. A riddle! The only clue I'm giving you is that the solution to the riddle begins with the letter 'N'. 'Old Mother Granya hath but one eye And a long tail which she does let fly; And every time she doth jump through a gap She leaveth a part of her tail in a trap.' Can you guess who or what Old Mother Granya is? Please leave your answers in the comment section below and all will be revealed tomorrow.

A-Z Blogging Challenge: M is for...Mary.

'Mary, Mary, quite contrary,  How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells, And pretty maids all in a row.' Mary, Queen of Scots Once again, there are two very different interpretations of the meaning of this nursery rhyme. The first states that Mary was Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587). 'How does your garden grow?' is referring to her reign over the realm. The 'silver bells' are a reference to the sanctus bells and Mary's Catholicism, 'cockle shells' implies that her husband had been unfaithful and the 'pretty maids all in a row' are her ladies in waiting - The Four Maries. The second interpretation is much more gruesome. Bloody Mary Tudor This time Mary is alleged to be Mary Tudor (1516-1558) or Bloody Mary, daughter of King Henry VIII.  Queen Mary was a staunch Catholic and spent much of her time ordering the execution of those who followed the Protestant faith. The 'garden'

A-Z Blogging Challenge: L is for...Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet 'Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet  Eating her curds and whey, Along came a spider,  Who sat down beside her And frightened Miss Muffet away.' There are two different stories behind this nursery rhyme. The first is that Little Miss Muffet was actually Patience Muffet, the stepdaughter of the famous 16th century entomologist, Dr Muffet (1553-1604). He compiled the first catalogue of British insects and it is said that he wrote this rhyme when one morning, whilst Patience was eating her breakfast of curds and whey, a large spider which had escaped from his collection came running towards her and she was so terrified that she ran away screaming. The second story claims that this rhyme refers to Mary, Queen of Scots (1543-1587).  She was Miss Muffet in the rhyme and the spider was in fact religious reformer John Knox whom Mary was frightened of. So, I leave it up to you to decide which one is closer to the truth. Personally, I like the first one.