Friday, 21 September 2012

Fill In the Blank Friday

There will be another post after this one, but this is just a Fill In the Blank Friday post!

Something I am very proud of is how much I have grown as a person over the past year. The challenges I've dealt with and the personal work I've put in with the help of the wife is huge, and when I think back to how I was this time a year ago, I'm really pleased at how far I've come.

My favourite thing about myself is my brain, because that's where I spend most of my time! I really enjoy thinking, strange as that may sound. I love working through things in my mind, sorting through the huge bog in there.

My favourite colour for fall is red, or orange, or yellow... I don't know! I love fall colours in general, they're so warm and earthy!

Something I've been learning lately is that I can be okay - even when I don't think I am.

A book I am reading now/have read lately is Memoirs of a Geisha. I really enjoyed it; it was brilliant!

My favourite pandora station is non-existent, since I don't know what one of those is!

This weekend I will be doing lots of socialising, in various forms. Hopefully I'll sleep okay too, though.     

Love love xx

Friday, 14 September 2012

Fill In the Blank Friday

Looking forward to a chilled weekend before I start placement on Monday... In the meantime, Fill In the Blank Friday:

Right now the weather where I live is clear skies and pretty sunny during the day. It's dark now, but so far the weather in bath has been rather glorious!

The best piece of advice I've been given is not advice, exactly. It's from when I went up to see the wife near Easter and we were at her church. Someone there received a message from God that was really specifically related to me, and made me really emotional. And the wife put her arms round me and just said, "You are so worthy. And so, so loved." I often remember those words - that day was really healing.

My most favourite person in all the world is God. Beyond that I don't have favourites, exactly. The people I care about most are my family, the wife, DT. But I love them all differently, so I couldn't say that I had a favourite.

If I were to have a "mission statement" for my life, it would be "trying to help others to see the world with the same awe I see it." this world is so, so amazing - there are so many aspects of it that make me gasp with wonder at how incredible a thing they are - like the ability to have children: a whole new life can be brought from almost nothing inside you!!

My favourite item in my closet is my stilettos. There are no shoes that can make me smile like my heels! I've never thrown a pair away, nor have I ever grown out of any of them.

The best cure for a bad day is chocolate, a duvet and a snuggle with a best friend. The wife always makes it better!

Today is Friday, obviously. It has been my last induction day at college. Today is almost over. Tomorrow is free for me to do whatever I may choose. But for now, today is a chance to relax and get a good night's sleep!

I know it's not all that late, but I'm headed for bed! G'night people!

Love love xx

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Placement, Home versus Home, How to Make Friends and Faith, Weekend Plans

Sorry, still no major updates or photos. But I have my last day of induction tomorrow at nanny college, then I start placement next week. Everyone else seems to be really excited about starting placements. But if I'm honest, I'm nto feeling excited; I'm feeling nervous. We've only been in college a week and a half, and we're already starting at placements. I'm being chucked in at the deep end. I really, really want to do well. I don't want to make mistakes, and I'm still trying to learn the names of the other girls in my year, never mind the children in a class. Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to it and I'm sure I'll enjoy it. But right now it's all so new, and I'm not sure how to take it.

A couple of the girls I'm living with are going home this weekend; and a couple of girls from next door, too. I'm a little surprised people are going home so soon. But then I guess they've not moved so far away from their parents as I have. I don't even know if I'm going to visit my parents in half term, never mind at any weekends. I don't really miss them too much, though. I love them dearly, but I was ready to be all independent. I love this house - my room is pretty, I get to eat what I want when i want (so far lots of vegetables: score one for health!), and the weather down here is so much nicer! We've only had one day without sun so far - definite improvement on Manchester weather!

I'm getting to know a lovely girl at the moment at college, SW. I dropped by her house yesterday evening where we discussed some of the problems that we have in general life as Christians and swapped some books on faith. It's really great to have found someone that I can share this with here in Bath. One of the things I really wanted was to find some people my age who are enthusiastic about their faith. And there are a few students who are, which really helps to give that sense of community. And SW and I went to choir today with another friend, MA. It was really fun, despite me being a terrible singer. We laughed a lot, and did some rounds and stuff.

I've had a great day today, overall in fact. What with choir, and we had some interesting tutorials and discussions and such with teachers, and the nurse came in to talk to us about sexual health - I think I'll stick to my plan of waiting for marriage, thanks. But it's just been lovely. MA and I went back to SW's with her between college and choir, and played with an immense toy called a puzzle ball, which is so difficult but so entertaining! Yes, geeky, I know. And I love it!

So, plans for this weekend are pretty vague. Hopefully the wife and I will get time to chat at some point. And I want to go for a walk if possible too. There'll be church on Sunday, of course. I've been to two of them so far, and I'm thinking BCC is where I will probably want to go ultimately. There was just so much feeling, and the music was great there. I usually find that I can't be completely myself around people. But when I'm in a church that really suits me, I find that I can be myself. and the parts of myself that are usually suppressed come out really strongly. This normally makes me super emotional. But at BCC, I felt okay with those parts of myself, too. I felt all the things I normally would, but instead of crying, I felt really warm and comfortable. Hence why I'm thinking that it's the church for me!

That's about it for now - hopefully this weekend I'll take some pictures of my surroundings and post them on here. But no promises, I'm afraid!

Love love xx

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

I'm not dead!

I've moved! I'm in Bath, I've had my first day of college, and I'm exhausted. I will try to update at the weekend, I have lots of news. But for now, I need my bed!

Love love xx

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

London's ups and downs, Walking, talking and friendliness, Sheffield and sewing

Les Mis was utterly amazing! I loved every minute of it, and so did the wife! London in general was not so brilliant - Saturday was fine and lovely; we sat in a park with drinks for a bit, chatting, then went back to our friend's flat and chilled a little. The wife and I left him in the flat and went out to an italian restaurant where we had some lovely salad. The weather was so, so hot! It was like being on holiday abroad. We chatted a lot, then headed for the show. Sunday was pretty horrific though. I was exhausted and woke up straight after a horrible dream, which put me in a bad mood. And so I was not in a mood to talk, really, which meant that the wife and the friend held conversations which didn't involve me. Added to that the fact that I couldn't hear the conversations very well, or had nothing to add to them since they were conversations about times that the two of them had spent together; and that made me feel left out and less inclined to try and be involved or add anything. And so - blame was on both sides, I was moody and withdrawn and I know that. But they didn't try to include me either. And then I found myself feeling really sick as we were headed back to the friend's flat, so I veered off towards a tree where I could sit down and, if need be, throw up. Unfortunately it was in the opposite direction to where we were headed, and they didn't notice me moving away from them. After a couple of minutes, I got up and headed for the park where we'd been sat the day before so that I could lie down without looking like an idiot. After about 5 minutes the wife came to get me, and after realising that I was both sick and miserable, and after finding out why, she was then miserable too. So we collected our things from the friend's flat and then sat and read in a cafe between our stations for going home. All in all, not the best end to the weekend. And if I could redo it, I would. I would tell them I was feeling crappy and why, and then make an effort to involve myself in conversation. But I can't redo it, so we've all dealt with it and moved on. But overall, it was actually okay - Saturday was lovely, and the evening at Les Mis with the wife was brilliant!

Yesterday I met up with my friend DT. he's lovely and has been in Ecuador for the past 6 weeks. So we just had food and drinks and chatted and walked. I bought a second-hand DVD of Memoirs of a Geisha, after enjoying the book immensely.

And today I'm in Sheffield, with another friend - EH! I arrived today, and I'm spending the night then going home tomorrow. It should be fun. We're currently at hers, but I think we're going to go out for cake, then do some baking probably and just chill in general. I know I have a lot of sewing to do at the moment, but I will try to get it done when I get home, over tomorrow and Friday and the weekend. Promise!

Love love xx

Friday, 17 August 2012

Weekend at my sister's with lots of knitty things, The week since which involves some Sewing and Baking, a haircut briefly mentioned, this weekend in London and the sudden future, Fill In the Blank Friday


Wow - it's been a busy week!

So I spent last Saturday to Monday at my sister's, which was really nice. Whilst I was up there she passed a knitted hat:

















and scarf:


















and shawl:


















onto me, which was really lovely. Aren't they pretty?! But then she also passed a whole bag of different yarns to me to take home and use if I could find a use for them! They're really gorgeous!



It was a fairly quiet weekend, which I really liked. We spent Saturday afternoon and evening at her flat, and as far as I remember we cooked supper then knitted and watched the film Wanted - a fairly terrible film, but amusing and easy to watch; happy stupid!
Sunday we went to Edinburgh in the afternoon, as my sister had a show to go to at the Fringe. It was mad busy there, which I didn't like. But we escaped into the calm of Edinburgh museum, which was kind of awesome and very interesting. I saw the Chronophage, which I really liked. It was enjoyable to think about, because it has these LED lights in it which denote the hours, minutes and seconds. The second lights would flash up all around the circle every second, moving one full revolution and one extra light forward so that it stopped on the next light every time - like a hand on a normal clock. But this means that it had to travel faster than one revolution a second. Isn't that geekily interesting?!

We also saw the animals room, which was amazing! I didn't grasp the full height and size of animals like giraffes and elephants until I was stood right next to the taxidermied bodies of them. They're huge!! I wouldn't even come up the entire height of the elephant's leg. I found it really interesting, and I found out that they don't taxidermy fish, as their skin is too fragile. Instead they make casts of them.

So that was really fun, and once the museum was closing we went with a friend of my sister and had supper in a little bar/cafe type thing. I finally had the fajitas I've been craving for about 3 months, and they were delicious! Then we walked along to the road my sister's show was on, and said goodbye to her friend, then told me how to get to the train station if my sister wasn't back in time for the last train, then plonked me down in Beanscene, and entirely scottish train of cafes. It was lovely in there. I sat and drank some tea, and knitted and people-watched. And, bizarrely, I saw the wife! I knew she was in Edinburgh that weekend, but it's a big place, and I didn't think we'd see each other, so I didn't tell her that i would be there. But there she was, walking straight past the window! I saw her at the last minute, and did a double-take. I realised she would be headed for the train station to go back to Newcastle. So I didn't call to her. I guess it just felt a little too much like a scene from a storybook. And my life isn't a story.

Anyway, my sister didn't seem as though she would be back  in time to catch the last train, so I set off for the station without her; but she did make it after all, so we headed back to Stirling and collapsed into bed. Monday she was working, so I lazed around in bed in the morning and read a Batwoman graphic novel, then made cheesecake brownies. My sister's SO fried some potato scones for me - I don't think I've ever had them before, but they were oh so very good! Then I packed all my stuff up, and went to Beanscene in Stirling to wait for my sister. We had a drink in there, and we got a full free drink card because they forgot to make my drink at first. Then we went to a little sweet shop and I bought some rosy apples and 'soor plooms'. We walked to the station, said goodbye to each other, and I got on the train and came home. Not altogether that exciting a weekend, but comfortable and relaxed, and the kind I like!

Since then I've been to the dentist, and she proclaimed my new false teeth beautiful; I've baked some, and I've sewed a lot. I finally made the pyjama top to go with the bottoms I made a while ago:




and realised I loved the top and thought it so gorgeous on that I was a little disappointed that it was going to be a pyjama top. I might wear it during the day sometimes!

And I made the same pattern in another fabric:















I love this on too, but not as much as the other! But I love them both very much, and feel good when I wear them! I made a huge batch of cheesecake brownies to use up some of the glut of cream cheese we had at home:



I love the cases! See, they're all spotty!
And I followed a recipe for Angel Layer cake. It wasn't very successful, in truth. It's basically like 2 giant meringues in different colours:

















It's lovely meringue, don't get me wrong. But it's not Angel Layer Cake. Back to the drawing board!

I got my haircut today - no pictures, sorry! And I also dyed it this evening. See, told you it's been busy! And I still found time to put laundry through, do the dishwasher, eat, sleep...!

Tomorrow I'm going to London to see Les Mis with the wife - can't believe it's finally here! I'm very excited to see it, and looking forward to seeing the wife again! I miss her when she's not with me. And then next week is majorly busy too - meeting up with my high school form tutor and a friend; childminding; visiting another friend; and then there's less than a week before I leave! I have barely a handful of free days left before I go. nanny college was so far away when I first applied, I thought it would never happen. And now it's swiftly becoming a reality!

So last for tonight: Fill In the Blank Friday!

The best thing to do on a hot day is open all the windows, wear as few clothes as possible, drink cold drinks and lie around in the half dark with a book. Alternatively, carry on as though it's any other day but complain about the heat a lot!

The best place to be on a hot day is somewhere cold! Maybe swimming in the sea? Otherwise outside in the shade, assuming there's a strong breeze.

The best thing to eat on a hot day is fruit - watermelon, if possible. And salad. 

Hot days are few and far between in England. They're good for ripening fruits and vegetables, and can make going for a ramble very enjoyable.

My go to uniform on a hot summer day is a loose cotton dress - and underwear, obviously - and nothing else. No tights or socks or shoes, no cardigan. Just a nice dress to let any cool breezes flow through and over my body!

The scent that reminds me of summer is the smell of Asda's giant M & M cookies. Weird, I know, but they smell warm and slightly spicy, and always remind me of how it smelt out in the middle East when we used to live there. Specifically, it makes me think of the evening walks we used to take. And I vaguely remember some kind of droopy tree which dropped lots of leaves and these long seed pods. Couldn't tell you any more than that, though; I was only 6.

My favourite thing about summer is the time I spend with friends in it. The planned excursions and fun we get up to in summer is brilliant!

And that's all. Well done if you managed to get to the end! See you in a few!

Love love xx

Friday, 10 August 2012

Fill In The Blank Friday, Visiting

Just a quick Fill in the Blanks!

The age I will be on my upcoming birthday is 20. Shock horror! No more teenage years!

The best birthday present ever would be harmony between all magical and non-magical peoples... oh wait. No. That's Gilderoy Lockhart. My favourite present is seeing people I love. But not for so long that I start wanting to tear my hair out and scream!

My favourite birthday to date was last year's, my 19th. I don't have the best track record with good birthdays, and last year all my friends were going to uni so there would be nobody around to celebrate it even. But the wife invited me up to Newcastle to spend it with her, so I had a glorious birthday with her, and we went out and explored a bit, and bought cupcakes which made awesome birthday cake substitutes; and we watched some Tribe and just generally had sweet sexy wife time! (in which nothing even remotely sexual went on, as usual).

Birthdays make me feel miserable, usually. Because I know I should be happy because it's my birthday - and yet almost nobody ever makes any effort with my birthday. In fact, almost all of my friends tend to forget it. And then when they realise 2 weeks later, they say, 'why didn't you tell me it was your birthday?!' As though I should feel bad for them making no effort, even though it's my birthday! Sorry, it's something I find really annoying! And I guess that's why I always try to make an effort for other people's birthdays. I would hate for anyone else to feel the way I do on my birthday. I would hate for anyone else to feel that there are so few people in their life willing to make an effort.

The worst birthday I ever had was ummm... I don't know. Birthdays are so often filled with good and bad, and any that are particularly unimpressive I don't bother to remember. I don't remember very many birthdays - 2 or 3 of them, that's all.

When I was born my mum was relieved, I think, since she started labour the week before! I was also a little blondie from birth to about the age of 7 at which point my hair darkened into a fairly standard brown.,

So far my favourite age has been this age. Life is so content right now for me - I have people that I love and who love me, I have my studying and then career to look forward to, independence coming, and a strong faith in a loving God. Otherwise, I would have gone with anywhere between baby and 5-year oldness, since I'm pretty sure they tend to be easy, worry-free years for most people! 

And that's it! I'm spending the weekend at my sister's, so no promise of any posts during that time. Maybe, but unlikely. Until Tuesday!

Love love xx

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Long Post, Letter Writing Paper and a Seal, the Wife's Birthday Gifts, QATWII Latest Block, A Baby Blanket and a Broken Knitting Needle

I did promise an update, didn't I? (Be warned: this is a loong post!)

So, I've spent some time this week writing letters to various people - the wife, EH, and the wife's friend by weird circumstances. I really love writing letters, I have some gorgeous writing paper! Want to see? Of course you do!




There's this one - not my favourite, but nothing wrong with it, and it was good quality and a good price. It is quite pretty, just nothing majorly special. It was from paperchase, like a lot of my letter writing paper!









Then there are these 3, also all from paperchase. The far left has birds on it, the middle buses and the far right butterflies. I really like these. The butterflies are my most recent purchase of letter writing paper, and I love them. But I'm particularly fond of the buses, because they're so quirky and fun! Want to see the backs of them, too?






Fun, right? Of course, I say the back, but other than the butterflies, this is the writing sides of them! You can't see it, but the bird paper has a faint pattern of leaves drawn on it.





None of them are lined, which is a little frustrating for someone like me who can't write in a straight line. But I made myself a guideline sheet which I paperclip underneath, and that works fine. I only use one sheet per letter, too. If I run out of room - which I often do! - I have some packs of double-sided lined A5 paper which I use. this way my writing paper lasts longer, I don't end up with lots of excess envelopes, and I save some money!

And finally, I have:





The colour hasn't shown up too well on this, but it's a very pale sort of turquoise which is really pretty. I love love love this! The birds are beautiful, and both sides of the paper can be used. Like the others, it has decorated address labels with it, and this one has some stickers for sealing down the envelope.





I like my letters to be as pretty as possible - I like pretty things! And a lovely friend of mine, EH, gave me a gorgeous wax seal for sealing my letters which I adore:





 I use it on pretty much all my letters. Sometimes the seals survive the postal system; sometimes they don't. I don't tend to find out if they have or not, but EH has let me know on occasion. You can see here it's actually lying upside down. But it's fairly simple, but lovely!




I do love receiving snail mail from friends. Email just doesn't compare; you don't usually get warm fuzzies when you see that you have a new email. But seeing that letter posted through the door and knowing a bit of your friend's personality and affection is inside is just lovely!

Another thing that happened recently is the wife's birthday - Happy Birthday, wifey! She finally opened my gifts to her today, and loved them! I never showed you the card I made, did I?




Again, see how I matched it to the gift-wrapping? I like to keep a theme running through...














 ... And on the envelope, too. Yes, I do have a stamp which says 'wife' on it. And yes, I did use it as the only identifier on the envelope. The wife would know it instantly!







 Okay, okay! And one last photo of the card with the gifts!




Pretty, no? The wife opened them this evening, and spent a little time looking through the contents, which were:


 The Bloggess' memoir, Let's Pretend This Never Happened. It's an amazing book, really hilarious. And since the wife and I both enjoy the blog, I thought what better gift to give her?










But then opportunity presented itself. When I visited the wife in May, we went on a day trip to durham, and whilst we were there we found this little shop tucked away, which looked like someone had lifted the roof of it off and poured in all the contents from 3 1950's houses. But in the window of the shop was this:


That's a taxidermied cat, people. For people unfamiliar with the bloggess, she collects various taxidermied animals, especially ones in clothes. Well, this cat had gold-tipped fangs, false eyelashes and earrings in. Not exactly clothes, but kind of awesome in a creepy way anyway. So we snapped this photo of it and then I emailed it to the Bloggess, who has a fairy godmother to take care of her emails and stuff. Her fairy godmother emailed me back, really sweetly too !), and offered me a signed book plate for my copy of the book. Then I emailed her being really rude and asked for 2. She was lovely enough to oblige, and so the copy of The Bloggess' book for the wife became a little bit more special, being a signed copy now!



I also wrote a message to the wife on this page, but I'm not going to show you that - it was personal, and none of your business!








I also bought her this:




Awesome, huh? I chose this book specifically, because faith is very important to the wife and me, and it's something we share. So it felt fitting to get her the book themed around faith a little.







But THEN another opportunity presented itself. Crazy, huh? I mean, I got the wife the Bloggess' book, and then the opportunity to put a signed book plate in it came along. And I got the wife a Postsecret book, and then... Frank announced that he was doing a tour in the UK. Something I don't think he's EVER DONE BEFORE!! I wasn't sure how long the tickets would last before they were all sold out, so I had to make a quick decision. I bought. 2. Tickets. Really!! I wrote a message in the front of this book too; but then I also wrote a tiny note in the back of this one, inviting the wife to come to Postsecret with me. She didn't notice it at first. But then when she read it, she looked shocked, then held up the book to the webcam to show me, then said, and I quote, "Are you JOSHING me?! is this real? Seriously?!" And I said that no, I wasn't joshing her, and yes it was seriously real, and then she looked at her calendar to find the dates and found where I'd written over those dates to mark them off her calendar already, without her knowing. And she freaked in a hazy excited joyful whirlwind, and we laughed and smiled and life was super sweet!

So, did you manage that saga? Still with me? because I have just a couple more things to show you. First is my latest block for the QATWII:






Do you like it? It wasn't actually too challenging once I worked out what I wanted to do. I found the pattern on the Quilter's Cache.










And here it is with the other blocks made so far for this quilt. I just hope the recipient likes it! I have yet to put it up on flickr - that's tomorrow's job!








And I had a minor disaster this week. I was knitting this baby blanket I've been making for a friend, which I've been working on for rather a while now. I tend to warp my needles rather a lot - I don't know if it's my tension, or what. But this happened:




No, your eyes do not deceive you. That is a bamboo knitting needle snapped in half. And I don't happen to carry spares in every size imaginable. Fortunately the pattern and yarn are very forgiving, so I simply switched up half a size; and so far, I can't see where the change happened. Would you like a sneak peek at the blanket? The pattern is free from Ravelry, and in due course I will of course credit the designer. But for now you'll have to content yourself with a peek at a corner of it!




My friend knows what sex the baby is, but is currently keeping it to herself. So I'm hoping this lovely light green will seem neutral enough. It's certainly pretty - at least, I think so, anyway! I hope she likes it!







And... I think that's just about all! I did go on a 2-hour walk today, to a nature park place near my house called the Flash. But otherwise, apart from cooking supper a lot, that's all there is to my week! Oh - I did work 2 days, and they were fine. Fairly unremarkable, usual fun to be had with lookign after a 3-year old and 6-year old.

Love love xx

Friday, 3 August 2012

Fill In the Blank Friday

My actual post will come later!


I am proud of how well I've kept up with friends this year, despite the distance between us all.

This weekend I will try to do some sewing, some knitting, some baking and some walking.

A secret dream I have is to create a business selling things I've designed/made.

I can't handle people who don't know how to be honest with themselves. You know, those people who have 'the best of intentions' and promise they'll say/do things that they're never actually going to make enough effort to do. By promising that they'll do whatever it is, they're lying both to me and to themselves, even if they don't realise that they're lying. 

The most annoying thing in the entire world is when you notice a really irritating habit in someone and then can't focus on anything else when they're around! Like nail-biting, or really noisy chewing.

The most relaxing thing in the entire world is reading a good book in bed with a cuppa next to you.

I think everyone should have more compassion. I think we need to remind ourselves that everyone is a person, a whole and entire, complex person. All too often we see people as one single categorisation or aspect of themselves - like seeing criminals only as their crime, or overweight people as their weight. If we all thought a little more, and tried to care more everyday, I truly believe the world would be better. In fact, I think that's the only way we could ever have a utopia on Earth!



So that's this week's. And I will definitely update you on what I've been up to tomorrow!

Love love xx


Monday, 30 July 2012

Mug Rugs, Pyjamas, Apron, Biscuits and a Book and a Booking

So I know I said I would update yesterday, but the male members of my family decided yesterday was the day to fool around with the internet connection in the house, so I was unable to!

So over the past week I've been making these things called mug rugs - about the size of a placemat and made like a miniature quilt, they're big enough to put a mug and a biscuit on at the same time, for cozy afternoons on the sofa with a good book or some knitting! I invented the design myself, which I'm rather chuffed about; and I will be making another post at some point as a sort of tutorial for making it. It may not be so great, though, since I've never actually done a tutorial before. But that will come later at some point. Anywho, would you like to see the four mug rugs I've made so far? Of course you do!






Don't you think they're pretty?! I'm kind of in love with them, even if I do say so myself!











Aand a little bit closer! They're all the same design, but I put the mug in a different place for each of them  for fun. And the backs are all rather pretty fabrics - but I don't have a picture of them right now, I'm afraid!








As I said, a tutorial on making those will come soon. Another thing I did this past week was to make myself some pyjama trousers. They're cotton and lightweight, and very comfortable:


 Isn't the fabric lovely?! And yes, those are gigantic cuffs on them! They have a sort of yoke at the top too made from the same fabric. And they're zipped, instead of gathered elastic. Now all I have to do is to make the top to go with them! I know what I'm doing, and I have two fabrics to choose between. But it's a pattern that can be worn during the day, so maybe I'll use the other fabric to make a top for during the day!




And the last thing I made this last week was my apron for college. I don't know if I mentioned at any point, I'm going to university to train to be a nanny? So we're required to bring an apron, presumably for cooking. This is mine:




 It's a sort of cotton canvas material, and my mum and I worked out the pattern between us. It's pretty basic, but has a pleated skirt. Hopefully this fabric won't show the stains too much!






And that's what I've been doing! I also baked some yummy biscuits, and read The Railway Children. I saw the wife for a few hours on Thursday. She's gone back up to Newcastle today, and her volunteering starts tomorrow. The next time I see her will be mid-August, when we're going to London to see Les Mis. Yes, we've timed it to be between the Olympics and the Paralympics. We originally did this so that accommodation would be cheaper, but then a friend with a flat in London has offered it to us as a place to stay. I haven't cancelled our bought accommodation yet, just in case he flakes out, because I don't entirely trust him. But when I originally booked it I paid the extra pound for insurance on cancelling, so I can cancel up until noon of the day of check-in and still get my money back. And then I won't see the wife again until Christmas, most likely! But there we go.

I'll try to write this tutorial tomorrow, but no promises. Until then - !

Love love xx

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Fill In the Blank Friday

Just a post for Fill in the Blank Friday!

I am short and brunette. I'm a friend, a soon-to-be student again, a daughter and granddaughter and a sister. I'm a sewer, knitter, baker, reader. I'm chatty and open-hearted.

I have always been a willing eater - never fussy. There are almost no foods I don't like.

I hope to see the Aurora Borealis for real with the wife one day.

I can be very moody at times, and want to spend a lot of time alone. I need a certain amount of time on my own!

I dream of a family of my own - husband and children to love. And I dream of carrying a baby inside me, my body sheltering that growing person.

The way to my heart is through vulnerability. By listening to me and my problems, and talking about your own whilst I listen. Sharing honest worries or insecurities and seeking solutions together brings people closer than almost anything else, I think.

I am passionate about morality and compassion. I truly think that they are absolutely necessary. It cuts me deep to hear people speak cruelly or angrily through ignorance. I feel strongly, even for people who have done something wrong. They're still people, and they are not just their crime. Same goes for every person in the world. We are so much more than we are often taken for. And we are all flawed. We all make mistakes, and do things we regret.

I will update tomorrow about what I've been up to in the past few days!

Love love xx

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Let's talk about periods

Ready for a bit of a rant? Because I want to talk about a topic which is important to me: periods.

Yep, let's all blush and put on our embarrassed pursed lip faces as we pretend nobody bleeds from their vagina. Or we could take that face off and settle down with the knowledge that about 50% of people (that being all the women) will do this at some point in their lives. In today's disposable society, we think the best things to use for absorbing our periods are disposable tampons and sanitary towels, yes? Well, I think not. I use cloth pads. Mmmnhmmn. I know the idea of this tends to gross people out. because we've been brought up to consider that unhygienic. The most hygienic thing to do would be to use bleached materials which we throw away straight away, not fabric like that which we put near our vaginas every other day of the month!

By all means, it's your vagina, you do what you want with it. But I have plenty of reasons why I use what I use. I've been given the chance to think about what other options are out there for me, and to make an informed choice. A lot of women try not to think about their periods at all. But seriously, stop and consider for a moment: do you know why you use what you use? If you reason that you use disposable because it's better, do you know why you think it's better? Does it seem more hygienic to you? Do you actually know whether it's more hygienic or not, or have big disposable tampon/ sanitary towel brands told you it's more hygienic? What supposedly makes disposable more hygienic?The bleaching process used in making them? This makes them that shiny, unnatural shade of whiter-than-white which we associate with hygiene, cleanliness and purity. It also produces a toxic chemical called dioxin in trace amounts.

Another issue is that tampon companies are not required to tell you exactly what goes into their products; and we don't ask, do we? Another effect of our not wanting to have to think about our vaginas is that we don't think about what the products we use are made up of. We don't ask; we just assume it's all perfectly safe and nothing to worry about. I found some store own brand tampons which said, "These tampons are made from either cotton, rayon, or a mixture of cotton/rayon absorbent fibres". So either the company doesn't know either, or they don't want to tell us. which in itself is a little worrying, since usually people try to avoid telling us things like that because we wouldn't like the truth if we knew it. Another large company said nowhere either on the box, in the leaflet inside, or on its website what went into their tampons. And another large company said, "They’re made from combination of cotton and/or rayon, rayon/or polyester, and cotton/or polyester". Again, this answer, whilst specific in possible contents, is vague in actual contents. Rayon itself is not actually a harmful substance. BUT, both rayon and cotton are fibrous substances which means that tampons will almost certainly leave fibres behind in the wall of your vagina. Lovely. And that means that any dioxin is embedded in the wall of your vagina with it.

Plus, there are all these new products with things in with flashy names or which are meant to appeal to us, like certain odour-neutralising pearly type things mentioned by a few different companies - different things, same kind of advertising slogans. but nowhere do they actually say what these pearly things are which neutralise odour. Many come with a 'fresh scent'. But nowhere do they list the chemicals which go into that fragrance, such as phthalates (chemicals linked to hormone disruption which can affect development and fertility) - and why would you want a chemical fragrance to be coming out of your vagina, anyway?! They're constantly coming up with new additives to tampons and sanitary towels which sound flashy. But the names tell you nothing of what they actually are, nor are there any actual explanations of what they are or what they're made of. They're simply advertising slogans designed to appeal to the stoopid in us all. Companies aren't actually allowing you to know what's in the products you're buying at all!

The companies advertising their products to us are making us ashamed of our period. They tell us to be proud of our period, and in the same sentence reassure us that their product is so discreet nobody will know about it. They tell us that periods are a beautiful part of nature (gack!) and then describe their product as  'protection'. Since when did we need protecting against our vaginas bleeding? The advertising makes us feel ashamed about our periods, like they're something to be embarrassed about and to hide about ourselves - or to fight against. Let's be honest, they can be frustrating. They can be painful. But 50% of the world is in sympathy with our pain. And they're entirely natural and normal for 50% of the world too - at least at one stage in their lives, anyway. We shouldn't have to be ashamed of them. We should have access to information about alternatives. And we shouldn't be being taught that disposable are the only options, never mind the only 'clean' options.

There are some great alternatives offered to the standard route. Firstly, and for the most squeamish people, you can stay in your comfort zone and simply get unbleached, organic cotton sanitary pads and tampons. You may have fun trying to find them, though, considering all that non-communication the companies are doing about tampon contents. There seems to be a well-known company called Natracare who do these, though.

Then there are a few options. There's the menstrual cup, in both disposable and reusable forms. This is a medical grade silicone cup which sits in your vagina - the same way a tampon would - and catches the blood. You take it out, empty the blood, rinse it - although that's not necessary - and reinsert it. If it's disposable, you throw it away. If it's a monthly one, you reinsert it but at the end of your period for that month, you throw it away. These are completely safe, hygienic, and are cheaper than disposable products. If you buy the standard menstrual cup, it can last years and is approximated to cost the same as 3 months' supply of disposables, either tampons or pads. These do tend to have the downside of not being recyclable. But that's the same as all the disposable products out there.

Then you've got your cloth pads. You can make your own, you can buy them - there is a wealth of great information out there. I love mine. I've been making my own for almost 2 years, and I've been using them for longer than that. They feel like normal underwear, they never leak (which the plastic disposable ones often did for me), they're pretty(!), and I just chuck them in the wash with all my other clothes. Sure, lots of people recommend soaking them, or adding extra stuff to the wash, or doing a hot wash. But I don't bother. I just put them through like everything else. They hardly add to the laundry load, so they're very cheap, and they come through it almost entirely stain-free, despite 2 years of use. I love the pretty tops they have, in gorgeous fabrics. They make me feel special! Mine are made from a pattern by Luna Wolf, which is where my first cloth pads came from. She's no longer making any more cloth pads, but she's still selling the tutorial. There are millions of places on the web for buying cloth pads, though - etsy, for a start! They aren't available in stores, unfortunately - yet.

Then you can get reusable tampons - again, you can make your own or buy them. They can be made from fabric, or knitted. Along with this is something called an interlabial pad. There's not much about them, and I don't know very much; but they're sort of a cross between a pad and a tampon, and sit between your labia, hence the name.

You can use sea sponge - used like a tampon. Again, I don't know huge amounts about these. But the information is out there. It seems that you moisten them with water, and then just use like a tampon. Some people tie floss round them to act like the cord on a tampon. They seem to be less long-term than cloth pads or tampons, but longer term than disposables - some recommend using it for a few months then throwing it away.

And finally, there is something I have heard of only very briefly: free bleeding. It's really not discussed very much at all. But some women are perfectly comfortable with, say, sleeping without anything to mop up the blood; or wearing dark underwear on a light day and just not worrying about it. And some women say, apparently, that they can hold it with their vaginal muscles and let it out into a loo. I don't really know. It's not an option I'm interested in trying right now. But it might be for you. By all means, think about it!

I don't want anyone to feel ashamed if they use disposable products for their period. As I said earlier, it's your vagina so do what you want with it. And currently, the disposable products are the most easily available. But I do want you to be informed of all the choices out there, and to research into them, and not to dismiss them because the disposables companies tell you that their products are the only hygienic ones. Many of the options out there have been in use for millenia already. They've had plenty of testing. Go, research, read. Try out different options. I have a menstrual cup which I love, but rarely use because most of the time I find it to be too difficult (being an unmarried 19 year-old). But I tried it, liked it and disliked it, and will probably return to it in the future. Give other options a go. Then decide. If you still prefer disposables, stick with them. But you've got a heck of a lot of periods ahead of you - probably - so trying something new for a month or two isn't going to hurt!

Please love your vagina - it's a part of you! I'm not saying you have to spend all your time talking or thinking about it. But don't ignore it completely.

Love love xx

Friday, 20 July 2012

A Day's Work, Canvas Crayon Crafting, A Broken Rotary Cutter and a Signature Block

So today I slept in, and then read for a while. Then I got up, ate, hoovered upstairs and down, put laundry through and made broccoli and stilton soup for supper. and I finally got round to finishing one of my canvasses:



You like? I like! I'm pretty darn happy with it! I know, these kind of things have been going round the internets for a while; mine is nothing special. But it is to me! I chose the image carefully, drew it out on paper first, then copied it onto the canvas. Then I bought absolutely loads of crayons, chose which colours I wanted, tested each crayon and sorted them by shades. The remaining crayons got turned into the toddler's birthday gift. These ones got glued onto the top of the canvas with a glue gun. Then I used the craft heating thingy to melt the crayons. Most people recommended using a hairdryer to melt the crayons, and reckoned on it taking about 15 minutes per section. But the heat thing was actually really quick; and I kept it moving steadily, rather than in sections so much. I guess it divided roughly into 5 sections? But it took almost no time at all. The crayons melted quickly, then it was just a matter of moving the heater around to mix the colours and spread them. I also followed some of the wax runs down with it too, to get rid of lumps. And I used cardboard curved round and held in place with masking tape at a sharp angle to protect the umbrella from wax:




you see? The wax just ran round it and down!

And that was basically it! Once the wax had solidified a little I removed the card from the canvas, then melted the wax just a little round the umbrella to soften any lumps.

I love the silhouetted figure. I always imagine she looks so happy, dancing in the rain with her brolly!








The other thing I did this evening was to make the signature block for Kettleboiler's quilt. But I had a mishap part-way through making it:



 It wasn't me, guv, I swear it just fell off in my hand! That snapped off piece is the toggle you press to snap the blade back in. Thankfully if you dig your nail into where it used to sit you can still pop the blade in; but it's not as easy!

I did, however, finish my siggy block:


 Sorry, I know the picture quality isn't great. the teal fabric is really resistant to photography! But I think it'll do - I sure hope so!

That's all for today. Tomorrow I'll hopefully get some of the quilting things sent off in the post, and get some letter writing done too. I'd also like to make a start on these pyjamas I've been wanting to get on with for ages; or perhaps my apron for Norland!

Love love xx


The Wife and Moving, Uncover, Rolo filled Cookies

The wife was round yesterday. She moves back up to Newcastle and into her new house tomorrow. Aside from our trip to London in August, I'm not going to see her for probably about the next 6 months. Don't ask me how I'm feeling about this.

Anyway, she was round yesterday, and we did a little more in this booklet called Uncover. We've been working on it for a while, doing one chapter a week. It's basically a walkthrough of key parts of the gospel of Luke, with questions about how the messages in it relate to today's society and problems. We've been finding it to be a great way to open us up to talking about our problems and then praying about them. And then we made cookies!

These are cookies we'd been planning to make for a while, ever since we saw them on pinterest. But when we went to the site with the recipe, we were a bit disappointed. This is a frustration I often feel about pinterest: you see a great idea for something to bake, pin it, click on the link, and the recipe asks for a box of some kind of cake mix. I'm sorry, but cake mix is not an ingredient!! But the site was pretty good other than that for instructions, and it was a great idea, and we had the rolo's. So we dug up my classic cookie recipe and played with it a little to make the cookie mix. And came up with these:



Okay, so they don't actually look much like the pin we were trying to replicate. But they were gooey, and chewy and so, so good!!

 Some of them had the rolo's melt and you got this amazing caramel bit which was just glorious! And who cares if they're not exactly like what we pinned? These were better, because they were near enough to us that we could eat them!








Recipe, you say? But of course!

3 oz butter
3 oz granulated sugar
3 oz brown sugar
a few drops of vanilla essence
1 egg
6 oz self-raising flour (substitute on tablespoon of flour for 1 tablespoon cocoa powder)
pinch of salt
3 tubes of rolo's

Cream butter and sugars together.
Thoroughly incorporate egg and vanilla essence.
Incorporate flour, cocoa powder and salt.
take spoonfuls of mix, squash a rolo into it and shape mix round it. I found 2 teaspoons were a good way to do this!
Drop rolo filled spoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking tray, well spaced.
Bake at 180 degrees C (fan oven) or gas mark 4 for 15-18 minutes. They will sink under fingertips when you poke them. This will pass as they cool.
Let them cool for 5 minutes on the baking tray, then transfer to cooling rack. Eat one whilst they're still molten. Enjoy.

Never say I'm not good to you!

Love love xx

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Gifts for a wife who will turn twenty...

So I wrapped the wife's birthday presents yesterday. No, I'm not going to tell you what they are yet, just in case she stumbles upon this and finds out. But they're pretty awesome (I think!) However, I once knew someone who considered the wrapping of a present to be just as important as the actual gift inside. It's something I've normally been too lazy to bother with. But I've always thought about and remembered it; so this time I have tried to make a concerted effort with the wife's gifts:





What do you think? Will they do? I just want to show you a closer look at the tissue paper I used to wrap the silver one, because I think it's quite a nifty way to personalise the wrapping:




See all those crisscross lines on it? They're stitched on. Just your average sewing machine thread - well not so average, I guess. I chose some purple thread and some variegated blue and green thread to pretty up the tissue paper.











 A bit of a closer look? I didn't do anything fancy; just straight lines in random directions. It's really easy - I tested it on a scrap of tissue paper first, but I really did just stick the tissue paper under the foot and go! I was careful about pulling it out at the end, so as not to just tear the stitching out straight away! This will blunt needles easily, though, so don't use your best, expensive machine needles doing this!





And then I wrapped the object up; and instead of cello-taping the wrapping paper, I used more of the variegated thread to stitch where I would usually tape:








It just made it feel a little special! I tried to do these little sunburst type stitches at each end of the wrapping; but my knowledge of different stitches is very small! But in theory you could do almost anything, as long as you were gentle enough with the tissue paper! I guess you could use normal paper, or wrapping paper, though.






And in the top picture you'll see I stuck a few feathers to this object, too. I tried to match the thread colours in the other wrapping paper, and coordinated with the silver tissue paper by tying a silver ribbon round it. Let's hope the wife likes them come her birthday! What do you reckon? Do you think the wrapping of gifts is important?

Love love xx

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Improv block, Blondies Recipe

I made a block today for a lovely lady on flickr, Marika. She asked for people to make her some improv blocks in greys and aquas with a hint of yellow and modern prints. This is something I've never done before, but I wanted to have a go, especially as she's going to turn these blocks into a quilt for a blogger she reads who's going through a hard time. The story is really touching, particularly now, watching how so many strangers over the internet have donated in some way - money, quilting, or kind comments. So here's my block for Marika to send on:



What do you think? Reckon it's okay? I hope so, but I'm not sure - I've never done anything like this before, so it might be terrible and not at all what she's looking for. I'm about to put it up on flickr and find out!

The other thing I did today was to make blondies. I just took our usual brownie recipe and used white chocolate instead of dark. Here's how they turned out:



Pretty yummy-looking, huh? It came out just how I love my brownies - gooey! I particularly like gooey, sticky brownies rather than cakey ones. You want the recipe?









Okay:

4 oz butter
4 oz white chocolate
8 oz caster sugar
2 eggs
4 oz plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 200 degrees c, if fan 180 degrees c, if gas mark 4
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler.
Add the sugar and stir it through. If you want crunchy brownies, move onto the next step. If you want them smooth, stir it a little more until the sugar is more dissolved.
Take off the heat and stir the eggs through one at a time with a spoonful of the flour.
Stir the remaining flour, baking powder and salt in.
Pour into a small, deep dish and stick in the oven for 25 minutes or so.
Remove. Slice. Eat straightaway. Enjoy that chewy goodness!

Love love xx

PS. There's a huge giveaway going on at It's Sew Kiki's blog - like, majorly huge. Head over and check it out!

What I live with

 Where I found Genny earlier:






And just in case there's any chance you think that might be a supersized plastic cat basket...





 Generally I ignore Genny when she's in the bathroom, since she's almost always there. If I kicked her out every time I needed a way, I would have spent more time doing so than actually having a wee. But in this instance, I forewent my desire for a wee in order to rush out and grab the camera before she had a chance to jump out and pretend she'd never been caught imaginary-bathing. and sure enough, I maybe got in about 3m pictures before this:




I'm pretty sure that expression means I'm gonna be in for some revenge later. She's smart like that.

Love love xx

Work, Challenging friends and Visiting them, Tidying and Baking

Wow, it's managed to be a busy week somehow! I did my last week of official work, went visiting, and did a whole lot of tidying!

So I finished work this week. It was a little emotional, but fine. I'll be working a few more days throughout summer, so I'll be seeing the girls then. The parents were really sweet and gave me a thankyou card with a gift card inside for ikea to help me with things I need for moving in September. There were lots of hugs and kisses with the girls, and then the wife gave me a lift home when I came out.

She and I went to Sheffield on Friday. We chilled at her sister's and spent the night there, which was insanely funny. Her sister is married to a guy who is rather hilarious, so the evening was filled with laughter. We did have a rather serious talk in bed that night, because she doesn't want us to hold hands anymore; and she's thinking about phasing out our fb marriage. I don't agree with it, but she thinks that because she's going to be her CU hallgroup leader next year, she has to care what assumptions other people might make about her. I'm really unhappy about it, but I see her point, and I don't want to cause her more stress right now. She's busy trying to please lots of people at the moment, including the boyfriend, and she doesn't need me having a go at her for this. Who knows, maybe in time she'll change her mind. I sure hope so.

Saturday we visited our friend, EH, who is living in Sheffield. She's at the uni there, so she took us round the town a bit, and we explored a market that was on. I bought some loose passionfruit tea, and EH gave me a tea strainer. We sat outside together and chatted about life in general. The market sold some really yummy strawberries covered in white chocolate fondant, so that went down really well. Then EH showed us her house, and we chatted a bit more there with cups of tea. The wife left for a few hours to catch up with another friend she knew in Sheffield, then she came back and picked me up and we headed back to her sister's for supper. I headed back on the train after supper, and the wife stayed on to catch up with a couple more people she knew.

I've spent today tidying and sorting my room. I've moved things around, and swept and mopped and organised. And there's still more to do. Hopefully I can finish it tomorrow, and maybe tackle the en suite too. And perhaps do some baking. I have a recipe for blondies that I want to try. Today I got major sugar cravings, so I baked up some chocolate cupcakes and ate two of them straight out of the oven. they were soo good! A very simple recipe,too - your standard 4 oz of sugar, butter and plain flour (sub a tablespoon with cocoa for chocolate cupcakes), 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 2 eggs all mixed together in one go, spooned into cupcake cases and baked at 180 degrees or gas mark 4 for 20 minutes. Easy. and so much better than shop bought! You can't eat them hot from the shop, after all.

Sorry, a very rambling post. I will update in some more coherent way tomorrow, I hope!

Love love xx

Monday, 9 July 2012

A Full Day's Work for a Toddler's Birthday, Quilt and Bed

Well, I did not achieve nearly as much as I had planned. Mainly because making the toddler's birthday present has taken me all day. it took me all afternoon just to peel the paper off the crayons; there was enough of it to fill my bin:




 Peeling crayons? So not fun. Plus, it's left me with sore fingertips from digging my nails underneath paper.











And that's not to mention the amount of time I spent sorting and organising the crayons according to colour and shade. The colour they look like on the outside is not the colour they colour in necessarily. Which means every colour had to be checked on paper.









Then they all had to be chopped up into tiny pieces. At first I tried using a sharpener, thinking that I would get a quicker melt that way and was therefore being smart. Turns out not, as the crayons kept gumming up my sharpener, and the shavings melted down into miniscule amounts. So I chopped the crayons after the tester one failed. The paper towel helped stop the shards of crayon from escaping.





See how awesome that looks?! I got about 13 tubs like this, all with different colours and shades in. Each got tipped into a heart-shaped silicone cupcake mold and stuck in the oven at 130 degrees c for about 20 minutes. Then they got pulled out, a skewer prodded around in each to ensure full melting and left to cool. They take about 45 minutes to an hour to cool and solidify enough to pop them out of the molds.







 And voila! Cute heart-shaped crayons, big enough for any toddler to hold, and impervious to the destruction that felt tips or narrow crayons suffer! And therefore totally worth the day's work they took, and my fingernails and so on. All effort completely worth it, as far as I'm concerned!




 The marbling is less obvious in these photos as it is in real life. I will put up a picture or two tomorrow with them all on, since a lot of them are still cooling.

Aside from that, I found the photos I'm going to use in my quilt blocks. I did not modify my top, or do any knitting, or get out for a walk. But I got the most urgent job done. the toddler can now happily turn 3 next Sunday with no worries on my part about finishing her present! And with that, I'm going to bed!

Love love xx


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