Friday, 30 January 2015

A little bit of of internet love: Part V

I got into the habit towards the end of last year of spreading the internet love but it faded somewhat a while back, mostly because my To Be Read list on Feedly was a dreadfully terrifying number and I kept putting off catching up with blogs.

But I read this post on Bonjour Blogger the other day and it reminded me that it's important to keep the love going - talk about the posts you like, tell the bloggers that you liked it etc etc.

Plus, if I can fill a blog post with other people's blog posts then that's like blogging without actually blogging.

I've already said the words "blog" and "blogging" too much and now I feel a bit nauseous.

Anyway. On with the love...

1. Have you read any of the Under the Paw books? You should, they are hilarious. But that's an aside. Tom Cox has a Facebook page you should follow, not just because his posts are funny, but because he seems to be followed by a genuinely enormous number of followers who just don't understand that he's joking when he posts. Case in point - this little snippet.

2. More love for the boys coming at you in the shape of a post by Mr X Stitch, the frickin' coolest guy cross stitching that I know. I had already heard wind of The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon and was beyond excited to discover that it's got a pattern in there from Mr X Stitch himself! You know what's missing from your walls? A cross-stitched picture of a Wrestling Guinea Pig, that's what.

3. Juliet has finally given me an excuse to buy Crayola pencil crayons. You can only bloody turn them into lipstick!

4. Oh and if you were feeling hungry, Sarah posted earlier in the month about some incredibly lip-smacking recipes. I've made the blue cheese pasta before and it was so glorious it has stayed with me forever. Now I'm feeling an insatiable urge to make it again...

5. It wouldn't be a little bit of internet love post without a post from Janet. To be fair, I sometimes just feel like linking to her entire blog because everything she writes I love and wish I could claim as my own. At the moment she and another lovely lady called Steph, are organising a Big Blog Clothes Swap an online swap for all shapes and sizes, all you need to do is sign up and you'll be matched with someone else and you can get swapping!

6. Louisa posted an amazing tutorial for some absolutely brilliant looking Tunnocks Teacakes coasters. They look so great and are easy peasy to do. Plus you get to eat for the sake of crafting.

7. Ben over at The Running Dad wrote a very interesting post entitled "Do we really need to run like The Hulk?" a sentiment which I really need to keep in my brain when I go out running. It's not about "smashing it" and being the best there is, it's about just going out and enjoying yourself, something I definitely need to do more of.

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So that's a little bit of internet love for you - how about you get sharing too - spread the love people, spread the love.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A space for me

There were many odd things that I did immediately post break-up.

One was completely emptying all the cupboards in the kitchen, cleaning them and throwing out things that were past their use by date / bit gross / for no reason whatsoever. Seriously I went to get a lot of things in the couple of months after that I swear I used to have in there and suddenly no longer did.

Second was a take-over of the space that was the spare bedroom. This had been His domain, where his computer was set up. Where, you know, he'd been sat planning his new life, buying furniture for his new flat whilst I sat oblivious in the next room. Maybe it was my subconscious taking control and wanting to clear the room from as many bad memories as possible, or maybe it just wanting to keep myself busy. Who knows. Either way I set to work carving out a space for myself.


My crocheted blankets have found a new home hanging out on the sofa-bed and in the days and weekends immediately following the break-up I found myself actually sitting in here quite a bit. It was where I sat when I was on the phone with family and friends as I recounted the story for the umpteenth time and tried to not cry. It was where I took to sitting in the mornings at the weekend, reading books and drinking tea - the sun streams in through the window first thing and it was actually a really nice habit to get into instead of the usual walking into the lounge and turning the TV on to watch something incredibly not good for my brain.


The desk became a place for me to finally set up my stall to do all my online 'stuff'. Sitting in front of the TV with the laptop burning a hole in my thighs meant that I was never terribly productive. I was too easily distracted from getting stuff done that really needed to be done, like blogging, and also found it too easy to get idly sucked into nonsense on the internet - not really concentrating on the laptop or the TV.

I have seen many an image of people's home offices and have been tainted with the green fingers of envy looking at their perfect shelves and inspirational washi-taped photos, postcards and platitudes taped to the walls. Somehow I'm just never able to pull it off myself though. I just don't possess the ability to create Pinterest-worthy interiors.


And so stuff is randomly stuck on the walls with absolutely no order going on whatsoever. I do mean to try and make these a bit more ordered but it's not going to happen. In fact, it's probably my intense need to make them ordered that is my downfall - as much as I love 'randomness' when I look at pictures I'm just not quite capable of creating it in real life.

Remember, if it's not a right angle it's a......wrong angle!


My favourite and best stuff is reserved for the corner of the desk. I bought this lamp for Ikea. I picked it up and put it down, and picked it up and put it down again. I knew that I didn't really have anywhere to put it but I just bloody loved it and so home it came with me. And I really didn't have anywhere to put it, until I had the chance to make this space my own and out it promptly came.

These two postcards are two of my favourites. I have a slight problem for buying postcards that I'm never going to send to people because I want to keep them for myself. I've never had anything to do with them....until now.

The pigeon postcard makes me smile every, single. day. How could it not? 

The leaf is one that I picked up from the pavement when I was tramping around Leicester with Janet before Christmas. I'm a sucker for leaves in Autumn and it's only fear that people with think I'm a crazy person that I don't constantly stop as I'm walking along and pick them all up. Clearly I am unconcerned about Janet's thoughts about my sanity. 

So this is where I sit when I'm typing up this stuff. Nice to be able to picture where someone is when you're reading the blatherings isn't it?

I'd ask you to show me pictures of your office but I really don't know I'd be able to keep my jealousy in check...

Monday, 26 January 2015

Weekend Round Up

I feel as if January has completely passed me by. The beginning of the year, followed by two straight weeks of working without a weekend in between, followed by a week of recovery....and now suddenly it's almost February. Hello?

I did have plans to travel to Manchester this weekend but they were cancelled at the last possible minute meaning that this weekend wasn't quite what I had planned but it was honestly pretty good. I was in need of a full weekend at home, I haven't actually had one yet this year.

So this weekend was full of;


Sleeping
I was not cut out for the events industry let me tell you. My six days on-site in Barcelona absolutely trashed me. It's funny really because in the midst of it you just kind of get on with it and happily go troll about during your crazy long working hours, the second I touched down in the UK my body completely crashed. I was dog tired for days and days afterwards and my immune system packed up and I have a cough from hell which I am dragging about with me like a massive mucus-laden load.


Adventuring
Turns out I live pretty close to Europe's Largest Inland Marina (living the furthest away from the coast it's possible to in the UK finally pays off?) so I took a little trip with my sister and recalcitrant nephews (it's just not worth crowbarring teenagers out of the house is it?) to see what it has to offer. It turns out it has a lot of shops that I can't see being open this time in a year, a farmer's shop which sells a load of stuff from Fentimans and a fuck ton of houseboats. Good to know I say.


Crocheting
A while back I pinned a tutorial for crocheted hearts and a friend who is getting married made a comment joking that she would have 100 of them please. She text me over the weekend to say she was trying to make them but was having issues deciphering the pattern - I hauled out the computer to take a look and made one, and then another, and then another. Then I text her and said was her comment serious because I could almost definitely get 100 hearts crocheted in not too much time. I've managed 50 in about 24 hours. They are addictive...


Treating
I could have stayed in the house all day on Sunday but at the last minute decided to take a quick trip into Tiny Town to have a cup of tea and a slice of flippin' carrot cake. Because I can.


Gerbil nursing
Friday night saw me have a little freak out when I noticed that Ser Jorah Mormont had blood in his urine. After a dash to Pets at Home to get a box to put him in and a dash to the vets I have the teeniest vials of medicine and the teeniest syringe and the teeniest dosage instructions - a mere 2 drops twice a day. The vet thinks he has a kidney infection but wasn't too concerned about him as he is still his same old self - eating, drinking, eating, eating, digging, eating etc etc. He's taking his medicine like a dream because I put the 2 drops on a piece of nut. I've spent a lot of time this weekend watching gerbils wee. Tyrion has been a champ looking after Ser Jorah, giving him a good ol' groom and has been enjoying his favourite past-time - jumping in the box containing his museli when I'm filling up their food bowl.


Friday, 23 January 2015

Things not to say to someone who has seen their relationship end

It's tough when one of your friends breaks up with someone. You know they're hurt and you have no idea what to say to them and you don't know if it's best if you should ask them about it all the time, or shouldn't ask them about it at all and you don't know how they're going to react to fairly innocuous questions about the demise of the their relationship.

I get that. I really do.

But in the interests of public health, here are some things which you shouldn't say to someone who is going through a break up

1. "You know where I am"

I know what you're thinking. What's this girl's problem. Of course you would let your friend know you're there for them.

The thing is, this phrase does not let your friend know you're there for them. This phrase says "I'm not really going to to bother with you unless you come to me. So....good luck with everything you're going through."

I have a string of texts from people who uttered those words in the days after the break up. That was the last I've heard of them and I couldn't tell you where they were. In the midst of it all I couldn't have told you where I was, let alone where they were.

Don't tell someone "You know where I am" let them know where you are. It is your responsibility to keep in touch with them and ask them if they're doing ok, it is not their responsibility to ask for your help. Call, text, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter - there are a myriad of ways to get in touch with someone and let them know where you are. Ask them out to dinner, ask if you can come round - they may say no, they probably will say no, get over it and show them that you are there.

2. "You're so strong, you're coping so well with it all, I'd be in pieces."

Again. What's wrong with telling someone that they're doing well? Surely this gees them up and makes them feel good about themselves?

No no. The trouble is this phrase is almost certainly paired with Number 1.

You see I don't have any choice but to be strong, because I'm doing this on. my. own, Am I going to sit down and curl up in a ball and cry? Actually yes, yes I am, and I do, all the time, but I'm not going to do it at work or when I'm out with friends because that would be super awkward and creepy for everyone. Of course I'm going to go to work and laugh and joke and seem normal, what else is there to do?

When someone says to you "You're so strong" it immediately puts a huge roadblock in the path to showing your true feelings. Now they've said that to you, you feel like you can't have a little breakdown and freak out. Sometimes I don't want to be strong, I want to feel like shit and not be happy go lucky.

By saying "You're coping so well with it all, I'd be in pieces" there is an implicit judgement in there for the recipient of that phrase. Oh so you think I'm a heartless bitch who has got over her relationship in double quick time. That's nice. And so untrue. I still cry most weekends when I'm stuck in the house by myself and I cry and feel miserable on other days of the week too. Yes those days are lessening but they're there still. Just because I'm not sobbing over my keyboard or stabbing pins into a voodoo doll over the lunch table don't assume that I'm "coping with it so well."

3. "I envy you your space."

This is one of my personal favourites and is only ever uttered by people who are in relationships.

No. You don't envy my space. You don't envy that one day I came home to discover that my one ally in life was not only leaving but was a complete stranger to me. You don't envy that I went from splitting my bills with someone to being responsible for them on my own.

What you want is an evening/weekend to yourself when your other half is out/away and you can have a bubble bath and watch crappy TV and paint your nails. You don't envy that I spend every weekend in on my own. You sit at home on a Saturday night, with your other half and your takeaway, watching Take Me Out and laughing at all the desperate single people - I'm sat on my own doing the same and trust me, you don't envy me.

4. "Have you heard from him at all?"

This just acts as a reminder that no, no I have not heard from him. Yes he was the biggest part of my life for a huge period of time and yes he did indeed turn his back completely on it and sever all contact completely. Thanks for reminding me.

Also trust me, if I hear from him, believe me I'll let you know.

5. "You'll meet someone else."

Just....don't.

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Arm yourself with these and you'll be able to be a fabulous friend to someone in need.

Good luck.


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

On many a cactus l America 2014; Part 6

We have reached the end.

I know there was a point where you probably thought it was never going to end, but I said I was going to get this done within a year of me being in America and damnit if I set myself a goal I'm going to achieve it.

So just a re-cap of what the hell was going on in America and why I was there:

I was over there to see American Girl and American Boy get married which was, as you would expect, brilliant. But before that happened I got to do some good old traditional American stuff like watching a Spring training baseball game and then embarked on a four day road trip which took in more sights than it should be possible to take in in that amount of time.

Day One - Drive from Phoenix to Monument Valley
Day Two - Drive from Monument Valley to Four Corners and then to Page, Arizona
Day Three - Visit to Antelope Canyon and then a drive to the Grand Canyon
Day Four - Visit to the Grand Canyon and then back to Phoenix

Once I was back and weddinged out there was time for one more piece of adventuring in Phoenix - this time heading out to the Desert Botanical Garden.


I'll be honest it wasn't my choice to go. There were a couple of other people over from England who were without a car and they had suggested going and if I had said "Naaaaaah, don't fancy it" then no-one would have been able to go. And nobody wants to be that girl do they?

In my head botanical gardens are kind of boring. They tend to be something that you're dragged to on a wet weekend where you are trailed into a slightly damp and muggy over-sized greenhouse where you wander around looking at ferns on steroids.


But you see I forgot that a botanical garden in Phoenix is not going to be the same as a botanical garden in Belfast. For a start - it's in the flippin' desert innit? No need for the greenhouse! And no ferns on steroids here, instead, about 4 billion types of cactus. And we all know that cacti are hilarious to look at.


Not only were there cacti there but there was wildlife to spot - we saw an actual roadrunner (it is not blue and it did not say "meep meep" which was a huge disappointment, but it did run almost horizontally so it pulled it back slightly for me.) - and we were lucky enough to be there at the same time that there was an exhibition by Chihuly, a glass sculptor whose work can be seen over here in England in the form of the glass chandelier in the V&A Rotunda.

His pieces of work were dotted all over the gardens, popping up in unexpected places and I'm almost ashamed to admit that I may have once or twice mistaken a sculpture for a real cactus, only to be terribly disappointed that the very pretty thing was glass and not nature.


It was actually a really fun tramp around, you could walk for miles without realising and some of the views were absolutely beautiful. There are several trails that you can take around the gardens and there's a wildflower and butterfly garden. (Although I stayed away from the butterfly garden because let's all remember that they are the creatures of the devil and not to be trusted.)


If I hadn't have gone, I'd have probably spent the day recovering from the wedding and being hungover on the sofa, which I can't lie would have been pretty good fun but pretty much a waste of a day when this was the other option.

So the rules to remember. Botanical Gardens in deserts? Not boring.

You are welcome,


And we're done.

Now I need to plan what to do next time I go over there...

Monday, 19 January 2015

Photo an Hour l 17th January

When I discovered that first Photo an Hour date was set for the 17th January I immediately thought to myself that I wouldn't bother. I knew that Saturday 17th January was going to be a fairly rubbish day for me. It would be the first day off I had had in thirteen days as I had gone straight from my first week back at work, straight through a week on-site in Barcelona, straight to another event in London.

In other words I was going to be absolutely shattered.

But I sucked it up and got on with it. After all, someone's day might be busy and someone's day might be lazy - what would mine have in store?

This was Saturday 17th January...


09.30 Quite the luxurious lie in compared to the days I'd had in the previous weeks but I was still shattered as I had not been to bed until gone 4am the day before. Not because I was being a huge party animal, but because other people were being huge party animals and I ended up taking care of some people - taking them to bed when it was time for the party to end, returning them to bed when they decided their party wasn't over...I was incredibly unimpressed. I felt I deserved a fry up.

10.30 In hindsight I should have just packed up and gone home. I left my house at 4.30am the previous Saturday and was keen to just get home, but being the nice person I am I was checking on people and making sure they were ok and helping them to get ready to check out, helping them pack their bags, ringing their rooms to make sure they were still alive etc etc. Oh I'm being serious. There were some real party people and I was rapidly losing my patience, wanting to be out of the hotel and on a train.

11.30 Everyone rounded up, in a taxi and finally at St Pancras station ready to return home.

12.20 Essential train snackagement.


13.30 No photo as I was train sleeping after train snacking

14.20 The best photo of my day. Finally back at home and finally getting to see my two little gerbil bums. I had missed them so much whilst I was away and you know what? I think they missed me.

15.30 Unpacking. A.k.a. chucking everything all over my bed and then sifting through the debris and putting a load of washing on.

16.30 Washing finished and hung up. On-site uniform is where super boring ugly clothes come to die. Black dresses, white shirts, black tights - bleurgh.

17.30 Time to catch up with The Archers after my week away. I could wait for the omnibus the next day but what would be the fun in that when the podcasts are downloaded and ready to go?


18.30 No food in the house. What better excuse than to order a takeaway...

19.45 ...which didn't arrive for over an hour. I was ridiculously hungry.

20.40 On the sofa beneath cushions, blanket and big wrap. I was not up for moving any time soon.

21.30 After a brief nap under my cushion/blanket/wrap pile I decided it was time to blow the candles out before I burned down the flat and take myself to bed where I promptly slept for over twelve hours.

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Many thanks to Louisa for hosting - check out her blog for February's Photo an Hour date and don't forget that you can join in on Twitter and Instagram using #photoanhour

Friday, 16 January 2015

Adventures in DIY: The Geometric Canvas edition

I wish I could think of a snappier title for this blog post but I really can't.

Back in October I read a post at Oh Gosh that afforded me a ruddy brilliant nosy around Emma's new living room. We all love a good nosy around don't we?

I immediately noticed a gigantanormous canvas above her fireplace and thought to myself, "I need one of those."

Lo and behold that clever lady totally made it herself and not only did she make it herself, but she also posted a flippin' DIY tutorial on how to do it.

God I love the blogging world sometimes, I really do.

So I promptly went out and bought a tiny canvas because I was too chicken to do it on a massive one for my first attempt, dug out all the yellow and grey match pots I had bought to make over some coasters when I was performing major revamping on my Ikea Lack Table, and some Frog Tape.


I dutifully taped off my pattern.

Big huge important note.

I actually found this hugely difficult. I don't know if my brain just doesn't work in the same way as most people's but I found it really hard to make triangles.

I know.

I would make so many and everything would be good and then there would be a random confusion of tape and I would be left with a gap that most definitely had more than three sides. I don't know. Maybe it's just me but if anyone else attempts this please will you let me know if you have the same difficulties as me? Because I really don't want to feel alone in this one.


I immediately started slapping colour on with really very little regard for what I was actually doing and with no major thoughts about colour placement. I decided I didn't want two triangles of the same shade next to one another and then pretty much closed my eyes and hoped for the best and somehow it all seemed to work out, even though I only had two shade of yellow and two shades of grey.


I very patiently waited for the paint to dry, painted my second coat and patiently waited for it to dry and then went about peeling off my Frog Tape which apparently doesn't bleed.

Lying fuckers.


It bled all over the place as you might be able to see on one of the grey triangles in the above photo.

But apart from that...

Ohmygod I loved it. I loved it. I loved it so much that I was furious that I'd bought the world's smallest canvas to do it on and wished I had one three times the size.

The absolute best part of this project is the speed of it. For people who are insanely impatient like me, this is so incredibly satisfying it's hard to put into words. I started this in the late afternoon and it was all finished by the time I went to bed. Amazing.

In fact it was so quick that when I next had a few hours I sat down and made another one for my nephew's bedroom.


As long I'm keeping myself busy, right?

I had a similar cock up with the Frog Tape on the second canvas but as long as you have a small brush and some white paint (and a steady hand) you can get any wibbly edges tidied up pretty quickly.

How much would these make awesome presents for people? They would think you were a) a genius and b) had spent hours on it when in fact neither are true.

Brilliant.

So go and show Em some appreciation for her canvas which really is a work of art, plus her pictures are much better, mostly because she hasn't taken them with her phone, or at the dead of night because she was too over-excited to wait for better light to take a photo.

I've a lot to learn when it comes to this blog photo stuff...