I’ve Moved!

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Hello lovelies!

I’ve seen an uptick in traffic on this blog recently. However, I’m no longer writing here due to an issue with my blog name. If you would like to hear more from me, please do visit my new blog, Big, Bold & Bright where you can read all of your favourite posts plus lots of new and exciting updates.

See you on the other side!

Helen xx

 

 

I Got Another One.. (Plus Review Updates)

Hello lovelies,

You may recall that, about eight weeks ago, I bought and reviewed the Google Nest Mini. One of the prerequisites of listening to music from Youtube on these devices is that, unfortunately, you need to pay for the Youtube Music premium plan – at £9.99 a month.

To be honest, I’m not begrudging these additional costs too much. Google has introduced me to songs that have rapidly become favourites of mine (Camila Cabello’s “Liar” definitely becoming one of them!) and even when the song has finished, having Google keep the party going is definitely much better than silence (or worse, the repeated song). To me, I hardly ever drink, I don’t smoke, I have no involvement whatsoever with narcotics and I don’t eat that much junk food – so pardon me if I treat my ears to some good sounds, will you?

About a fortnight ago, I had an email in my inbox with the title “Don’t forget to claim your free Google Nest Mini”. I was suspicious at first, as anyone aware of phoney emails would be. I’m pretty keyed up and I can usually sniff out a scam, so I did some rooting around to try and find something, anything that was off about this seemingly too-good-to-be-true offer. I came up blank.

There had to be something, so I used Google to Google Google’s offer. Oh, the irony.

Nope, Google really, really were giving away free Google Nest Mini’s to Youtube Music premium users, and I was free to claim one if I wanted to, so long as I ordered it by the end of the month.

With the Second Edition Mini, you have two colour choices, charcoal (black) or chalk (white). Because of my oh-so-sexy monochromatic bedroom, we have a charcoal one in the bedroom, and a chalk one in the lounge. As our kitchen has a similar neutral feel to the lounge, I opted for another chalk one, checked out the product with an oh so generous discount of £49 and a total bill of £0.00, and waited.

Last week, I received a rather strange looking box, Now not much phases me, but I’ve never seen a box with wings before. That was definitely novel.

When I pulled back the strip and opened the box, I was introduced to Google and asked to recycle the packaging. Lo and behold, my new Google Nest Mini had arrived.

Setting up the new Mini was simple enough and the new speaker is now housed on top of the dishwasher. My initial plan was mount it to the wall but, with sockets the way they are in our kitchen, it was actually easiest to place it atop the tabletop dishwasher and plug it into the extension on the windowsill. With that done, my dearly beloved took over the software side of things and the “Kitchen Speaker” is now fully installed.

One of the advantages of having a speaker in the kitchen is that I don’t have to shout across the lounge to turn the kitchen light on. A quiet mumble in the generalised direction of the dishwasher will generally work. It’s an advantage for me and saving my voice, and an advantage for anyone watching TV in the lounge at the time.

A second advantage I’ve found has been in ordering groceries. Thanks to the the IFTTT app, I have been able to add groceries to my basket, using my voice. When I’m waltzing around my kitchen and I’ve noticed that I’m running low on an ingredient, I can generally ask Google to add an ingredient to my basket, and have the job done in 2-3 minutes. In amongst all of the indefinite tasks that come with running a home (even for two people and a dog), there are definite perks to that.

A third advantage comes in being able to ask Google for guidance on recipes. With starting the new year with a bang and trying to eat a lot healthier, being able to ask Google for inspiration and a talk-through of recipes has saved me from having to go between cooking and getting messy fingerprints on (and off of) my phone. A simple “Okay Google, what’s next?” will have Google chirpily talk me through the next step of my new found recipe.

The last (and final) plus comes in being able to wirelessly link my speakers, which makes playing my ‘Housework’ playlist (more or less) throughout the flat oh so much fun. I’m not rushing back into one room to be close to the speaker to enjoy the music. With a speaker in the three main rooms of my home, I’m able to enjoy my favourite tracks effortlessly while I work. A definite plus one for getting more work done.

On the not so good side of things, sometimes Google can’t tell the difference between ‘off’ and ‘on’. “Okay Google, turn the office light off” I’ll say, hoping that Google will turn the bedroom (also my home office) main light off, but leaving the headboard lights and desk lamp on. “Sure, turning office light on” she replies. Result? The bedroom main light stays on when it’s time to clock off and unwind. She’s good, but she’s not perfect.

On other occasions, I’m greeted with a “Sorry, I couldn’t reach Philips Hue”, prompting me to override the switch (a simple off/on at the wall) and turn the lights on myself. I also do this when I’m already in a room, and forgot to ask Google to turn the lights on. By now the novelty factor of being able to control the lights with Google has quickly worn off. Fortunately, the Philips Hue lightbulbs are rather energy efficient.

In terms of getting others to embrace Technology, my family is having none of it. My mother is very wary of these devices and is vehemently against having one in her home,

“Yeah, but they reckon they listen in on you, don’t they?” she said with great suspicion.

I suppose it’s another of those generation gaps, the modern smart technology, combined with a generation that saw the introduction of Ceefax, colour television and the internet.

Just as for my mother’s generation, then speakers that listen to you and control your home may well seem scary. Formy generation, then I suppose a time where our kids are forcing us to be comfortable with driverless buses and robotic baristas will come.

Intruder Alert: The Update

Good afternoon folks,

As you may have noticed, yesterday I didn’t get around to blogging. I was planning to write in the evening after a hectic day but I kind of ended up in inconsolable tears because of exhaustion, too much housework and missing my dead Dad. As much as I wanted to write and felt like I should write (so as not to disappoint you all, of course). I simply couldn’t bring myself to manage it. I was cold, exhausted and tired, and the best thing for me in the moment was sleep.

Yesterday morning, I was led on my bed and waiting for the nice Tesco man to arrive. I’d promised myself that, once the Tesco delivery had been made and the groceries were away, I would crack on and do some blogging.

That was when my phone rang.

“Hi, is that Helen?”

“It is, yes. How can I help?

“It’s the police here, I understand you reported an incident, I just wondered if it would be possible to pop out and visit you today?”

Suddenly, I was catapulted into a dilemma. The nice policeman officer wanted to visit me, but my lounge was a mess and I had oh so blogging to do. I had to make a snap decision. Think, Helen, think. Blogging or housework, what to do, what to do?!

I had to choose housework, and fortunately, my decision paid off. Drinking in the cosiness of my lounge, the new beat manager complimented my home,

“It’s nice though, isn’t it? You’ve obviously made it a home.”

I eyed the faux leather storage ottoman which I’d stuffed to the brim with sort-it-later bags, and smiled.

If only you knew.

After my neighbour’s gruff initial introduction, the beat manager was immediately wary of him. When he came into my home, he didn’t wait to ask if I got on with my neighbour. He challenged me on everything, the burglary, my neighbour, drugs in the area, everything.

Oof, so it’s like that, huh?

I denied all knowledge of where the drugs are in my street. I know where they are and I know what goes on, but it’s the whole adage of shitting on your doorstep. I know what goes on and I know it’s not legal, but I’m not going to go bothering them if they’re not bothering me. Naughty? Yes, but I need to put my own safety first. When I was young, I grew up in a household whereby my parents were quick to react to anything that our neighbours did wrong, and it created a lot of hostility which made the area difficult to live in. I’m not in any rush to make that same mistake here.

“Is that it or is there more?” he asked, watching the thirteen second clip.

Well, that was it.

Let’s be real here, I said that it was suspicious activity, not that he had successfully broken into our home. I said that I felt that the police should be aware, not to send out a forensics team. More than anything, I wanted the police to have an ID on him in case he tried to break in to anything or anywhere else. I mean, by all accounts, it is still an attempted burglary.

“Can you get a still photo from that video?”

I flipped through my gallery and presented the already-taken still photo, quite smugly.

“That’s good! Can you email that to me and I’ll send it out to the boys.”

I paused for a second but I decided to bite my tongue. I knew for a fact that there were at least two female PCSO’s in our local community but the threat of finding myself in handcuffs was not worth the comment.

And girls, I urged telepathically.

“Do you want me to say anything?” he asked, indicating to my neighbour’s rubbish in the shared front garden.

Ooh, officer, you are out for blood!

“He’s already been spoken to, so let’s leave it for now” I urged, I knew what would happen. The more pressure the local authority applied, the more my neighbour would whine to me. It was bad enough being the accidental double agent in all of this after what I now believe might have been a white lie from my neighbour in the first place.

After the beat manager left, I returned to the kitchen to make more lemon cheesecakes and tiramisus to freeze, ready to defrost and serve as desserts for the next month.

As I turned the food processor on to whisk the cream, a text message appeared on my phone screen.

Everything ok?

It was my neighbour, the very same man that the beat manager wanted to speak to, and the very same man that my local authority now wants me to spy on because of his mattress in the front garden and piles of all kinds of rubbish at the rear. It was a horrendous position to be in, both the friend and the foe, simultaneously.

Yeah, fine. Just about last Thursday, I replied.

Everything was fine, because the intruder never did break in.

But you’re screwed, I thought.

***

Next week, I’ll share with you how to clean and prepare your home for guests to an impressive standard and in only 20 minutes, following on from my surprise visit!