Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A review of 2014

Well, since I haven't blogged in a while, and with a new year starting tomorrow, I decided to make my final post of 2014 a bit of reflection on the year just finishing.

And what better way to do this than with a questionnaire? Woo!

2014


1. What one event, big or small, are you going to tell your grandchildren about?
I got a puppy!!!


2. If you had to describe your 2014 in 3 words, what would they be?
Exciting.
Challenging.
Calmer.


3. What new things did you discover about yourself?
That I really have a lot more patience than I assumed. I was still ridiculously grumpy about it but I found patience!


4. What single achievement are you most proud of?
While I'm proud of raising my puppy - I'm also proud that I didn't have another breakdown.


5. What was the best news you received?
When the phonecall came offering me the job that suits me to the ground. 


6. What was your favourite place that you visited in 2014?
This is the time in the questionnaire that I realise I can't really remember most of 2014. Not because I was drunk or anything - just because it happened over such a long period of time. Oh - I just remembered that I finally visited the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. Gorgeous. 


7. Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?
My stubbornness. Others may disagree. 


8. Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?
My mum. Always. 


9. Which new skills did you learn?
I learned to touch icky things. I'm not looking forward to having kids because apparently you learn to touch even more icky things. Gross. 


10. What, or who, are you most thankful for?
I am most thankful for my parents. Thank God for them. 


11. If someone wrote a book about your life in 2014, what kind of genre would it be? A comedy, love story, drama, film noir or something else?
Much as I would have loved it to be a romantic comedy - unless I meet a hunky stranger this afternoon, that's not going to be true. But it did have elements of a montage scene from a romantic comedy movie so I'll go with that. (You know - like when the female lead decides to kick ass and does so to a catchy tune?)


 
The uplifting montage that is my life. Just minus a few things!!


12. What was the most important lesson you learnt in 2014?
Take time to smell the roses. And the grass, weeds, seashells, sea, rocks... 


13. Which mental block(s) did you overcome?
I haven't yet. Bring on 2015. 


14. What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?
It was exhausting but having time at home with Tilly while she was a puppy was brilliant. I also just love spending time in my own wee house and garden. Home is where the heart is. 


15. What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?
I'm going to say apprehensive which is a definite improvement on last year. 


16. Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?
Got a puppy. (I should really just answer 'puppy' for every single question!)


17. What major goal did you lay the foundations for?
I like to think that I took a major step towards doing some serious writing. 


18. Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?
All of them! But seriously, most of my worries were completely unneccessary. As per usual. *Sigh* 


19. What experience would you love to do all over again?
I'm not sure I would have any desire to do anything all over again. I wouldn't wish bad things on anyone but without them, you can't appreciate what you have or learn from your mistakes.


20. What one thing would you do differently and why?
I would worry less and just enjoy the moments. 


21. What do you deserve a pat on the back for?
Mentally making it through 2014 in one piece. Go me! 


22. What activities made you lose track of time?
Reading, writing and Pinterest. 


23. What did you think about more than anything else?
Finding love, writing a book, making sure my family are safe and happy, getting an income and my Tilly. 


24. What advice would you give your early-2014 self if you could? 
Everything is going to be okay. Just enjoy the moment, go with the flow and don't let the knockbacks get you down. 


25. What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?
I'm going to say (again) that Tilly has had the biggest impact on my life. I'm being completely honest when I say that she has not only changed my life but she has saved it. 


 2015



26. What do you want the overarching theme for your 2015 to be?

Health.


27. What do you want to see, discover, explore?
I want to discover myself and explore who I really am. I want to find my self esteem and self worth. 


28. Who do you want to spend more time with in 2015?
My family, Tilly and hopefully my future husband. 


29. What skills do you want to learn, improve or master?
I want to work on my self esteem. It's not a skill, as such, but it's what I want so badly. I also want to learn to knit (for about the fifth time), crochet and improve my dressmaking and writing skills. 


30. Which personal quality do you want to develop or strengthen?
Confidence, self esteem - whatever you want to call it, I want to be able to look in the mirror and not feel shame or hatred. I want to feel like I deserve to find love and that someone might actually love me for me. 


31. What do you want your everyday life to be like?
Happy, positive, fun and filled with love. 


32. Which habits do you want to change, cultivate or get rid of?
I want to be healthy in mind and body. I know that it's something that will always be around but I really hope to kick depression in the butt in 2015. I'm hoping that improving my physical health will benefit my depression, anxiety, colitis, self esteem and, of course, the body itself! 


33. What do you want to achieve career-wise?
I want to continue with the job I have. I also want to hopefully make some money with my writing. 


34. How do you want to remember the year 2015 when you look back on it 10/20/50 years from now?
I want 2015 to be the year. I want it to be year that changed my life in all the best ways. Love, health, happiness - I want it all. 


35. What is your number one goal for 2015?
Get some self-worth, girl!


Happy Hogmanay and all the best to everyone for 2015!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Things I Think About...

It is no secret that I suffer from a lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem. I don't really know the difference between those two but it definitely sounds more dramatic to be afflicted with both rather than just one or the other.

Anyway, my biggest problem is that I fear that people are judging me, talking about me and laughing at me. Rationally, I know that they don't care it's just I have a debilitating fear of being mocked.

Assuming that other people suffer from this same issue, I wondered if perhaps I am the person that I fear. Do I judge, mock and laugh at other people? Even if they never know it - I needed to know whether I was the reason for my worries. Was I vicious to others like I assumed they were to me?

I decided to find out.

I had occasion to have a couple of hours to kill on my own (or more accurately, with Tilly) in Paisley last week. I decided for the two hours, I would make note of my thoughts regarding myself and other people to see what I could find out.

Had to be told how to open a toilet door in the local dentist (Against nature, it turned to the left rather than the right):  
Do they think I'm some random person from the street? I'm allowed to be here - dunce or no!

On a walk:
I wonder if people think I live here and that I know where I'm going.

Picking up Tilly's deposits:
I wonder if they see I wouldn't leave my dog's dirt on the ground outside their houses. Oh no - older poo! I hope they don't think it's mine. (To clarify - 'mine' meaning Tilly's not 'mine' meaning mine.)

Still on a walk:
Don't look at him. Keep walking. You'll end up on an episode of Crimes that Shook Britain if you look.

Later on my walk:
I wonder if people have realised that I don't live here and that I'm lost.

Yet later:
Just keep walking. If you have to ask someone directions, you have to ask someone. I'm sure they won't think I'm a wally!

Man in shop makes funny comment and I laugh:
Was he flirting with me? 
Oh don't be ridiculous. 
Do you think he thought I thought he was flirting with me? 
Go eat your chocolate and shut up!

In the car, people watching:

That man's wearing joggers. He looks suspicious. I wonder if he's worried because I'm watching him. 
(He grabs at a tree as he walks past a garden) Don't touch that tree sonny boy - it's not yours! 
(He walks out of sight) Could I describe his outfit to Crimewatch if required? Yes, probably.

That man looks like Crocodile Dundee. Cool.

That old lady just said 'Oh Jesus!' really loudly. I'm shocked!

That other old lady has her ear pierced at the top. Nice!

Tilly's getting warm sitting in the sun. I hope she doesn't cook.

There's another man wearing joggers. I wonder if he...wait! Is that a gift bag? What's in it? Who's it for? Where are you going? 
DO NOT GET OUT THE CAR AND ASK HIM!

That man had a dog a minute ago. Where did it go?


And just like that, the two hours were up. It may not have seemed like many thoughts in a two hour period but I was lost on the walk for a fair amount of time and the worry about asking for directions was repeated many a time until I found my way.

So, what did I learn from this experiment?

1. I am slightly strange.
2. I should stop watching crime programmes.
3. I definitely worry about what people think of me. Most of the time for no good reason.
4. I barely have time to think nasty thoughts of others that I assume they think of me because I'm too worried about myself (and crime, apparently!). I suspect everyone is the same.
5. Don't go walking in strange places without a map.

Moral of the tale is not to worry about what people think of you because they probably aren't.


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Well, ow! (Or a lesson in why a simple task may go ridiculously wrong!)

Let's set the scene:

Last night I was having a rough time of it with my UC. I don't really like to be around people when I'm feeling so shitty (no pun intended but funny and apt all the same!) but I have to take Tilly for a walk and thought I could cope. Possibly a mistake but that's neither here nor there for my story.

This evening, feeling infinitely better, myself, Tilly and my Dad went on a walk in our local park. The weather had been a mix of glorious sunshine and downpours all day meaning that Tilly hadn't been out for any exercise and was feeling a bit, well, excited! I was also excited about how much better I felt and that I had no ailments this eve.

We set off across the grass and into the woods, Dad and I keeping a sedate pace while Tilly darted around and possibly broke the sound barrier on many an occasion.

We got to the path to the beach and Tilly disappeared into the scrub trying to chase the bugs, squirrels, birds, deer, pterodactyls...

And then we came upon a stunning sight of the sea, as clear as glass yet mottled by the near setting sun blinking through the trees. Then, to give it a tiny bit of something more, a rainbow appeared on the land at the horizon.

Dad: Oh! Would you look at that view? I wonder if I could take a picture? *Starts fiddling with his phone.*

Tilly: *Bounding from the undergrowth* Look at me! Look at me! I found some giant pieces of spiky plant seed that are now stuck to my legs! Wait - I don't like them! Get them off! Get them off!

Me: Silly Tilly. Come and I'll get them off for you! *Picks them from her legs and notices a wasp in her tail.* Oooh, oooh, Dad, help!

Dad: *Mumbling* Pretty view. Cameras. Golf. iPhones. Jaffa Cakes.

Me: Help me!!

Dad: Oh! Sorry, I wasn't listening. Did you see the lovely... no, right - what can I do?

Me: Could you take that stick and try to flick the wasp from her tail while I hold her still, please? *Indicates stick to be used*

Dad: Ready? Steady? Go! *Flicks stick at Tilly's tail with an enthusiasm that was inappropriate to the situation.*

That's when time slowed down. I should have known something was up when everything started moving suspiciously like it was moving through treacle.

So, let's slow our story down too, for a quick lesson in sense. If you are flicking something off something else, where do you direct the flicking thing?

That's right - away from anything or anyone else!

Dad flicked the wasp right onto my leg.

Did I mention that I wear cut off joggers for walking in the summer? Because I do. A fact that Dad knows good and well.

Me: *Loud high pitched scream* It's on my leg, it's on my leg!

Wasp: Ha ha! Bare legs. *Stings*

Me: *Jumping around like a moron* It got me! It got me! I'm stung! Tell everyone I love them...

Dad: Cyclist coming.

Cyclist: *Whizzes down the hill while we all pretend that we're normal people in normal situations.*

Cyclist disappears.

Me: Owwwwwwww!

Dad: *Sheepishly/Grumpily* I didn't mean to flick it on your leg.

Me: *Very grumpily* That's neither here nor there. I must get to the sea. *Hobbles off towards the sea to wash my leg in salt water.*

After washing my leg in the sea, I hobbled back up the beach to where Dad was standing looking out to sea all Captain Sparrow like.

Dad: It is beautiful out there, isn't it?

Me: *Evil glare*

We walk back up the beach. Oh wait, Dad walks while I limp. Tilly bounds after some ravens.

Dad: Perhaps I just hit you with the stick? Or flicked you with my finger?

Me: *Unsubtle glare* Excuse me?

Dad: I mean, perhaps it wasn't the wasp. Perhaps it's just a scratch from the stick. *The poor thing doesn't even see the dangerous path down which he walks.*

Me: *Turning into the hulk* I can tell you by the pain that I. Have. Been. Stung.

Dad: Hmmmm.

Me: This is my first wasp sting - if I die, I'm coming back to haunt you! *Stomps hops away*

The walk continued and I managed to make it to the park gates without much pain (although I did keep getting sharp stabbing pain every now and then - should I be worried?).

As we reached the gates this happened:

Dad: Perhaps you did get stung - it does look quite red.

Me: Oh good - thank you! I'm sorry that my pain wasn't enough proof for you! *I don't even need to point out that this was sarcasm!*

Dad: Wasps can just land on you without stinging you, you know. *Nods sagely*

Me: *Through gritted teeth* Really?


So here I sit, my leg/ankle thing a little bit swollen, feeling a bit crap and about to go and put wasp stings into WebMD. If you don't hear from me for a while, I have fashioned a leg amputation device using flint and dods of wood and am now in the hospital. Whether that's the normal hospital or a mental health facility remains to be seen.



Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Lest we forget...

Last night it was 100 years since the start of World War 1.

In remembrance, The British Legion asked people to switch off their lights, leaving only a candle burning between the hours of 10pm and 11pm.

Then, at 11pm, the time when war was declared, the candles were blown out...

“The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”
 Sir Edward Grey

I am so glad that I showed my respect in this way. It was a strangely peaceful evening with just a candle for light.

But when you thought of what people were going through 100 years ago, it was so very sad. As I took my candle through to my bedroom and tucked myself into bed, I realised I was lucky that when I woke up in the morning things would be the same. 100 years ago, life was never going to be the same ever again.

 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The best laid plans…

Why do I suspect that this may not be the first time that I have used this title in a blog post? And possibly will not be the last?

So, as per my great and grand plans, I was breaking down my life into small, manageable chunks and tackling them one by one.

Great plan.

Simple and fabulous.

And while I still stand by that, life has a fun way of saying ‘ha-ha - think you’re in charge? Think again!’

I have been out of traditional employment since the beginning of the year. At first it was to get better after a flare and then it became more about re-prioritising my life, raising my new puppy and enjoying my simple life.

But as the money in my savings account started to dwindle away, stress-head Jo started to rear her ugly head and started to say things to make me panic. Things like ‘chocolate and books cost money’ and ‘I suppose you also need to eat more than just chocolate. Unfortunately’.

Reluctantly, I listened to her and started looking for jobs. Ever one to be just a little bit rebellious (but just enough rebellious that I still follow the rules - wouldn’t want to get in trouble after all!!) I decided to go hunting for a part-time position.

A couple of applications later and I had an interview. I was excited - mainly because I want money and a husband and both are more likely to be found out and about than in my house. Sadly enough. And I should know - I’ve looked. There are neither a six foot hunk nor a pile of lolly stashed under my bed.

The particular interview was set for 8.45am to 2.15pm. I know - right! I mean sheesh! Part of me wondered whether they didn’t have any staff at all and just made their interviewees undertake the work required. But anyway…

Then came the stress. Now, I don’t know about anyone else with Ulcerative Colitis but this is the bit that gets me; I could meditate until the cows came home but I just can’t control the fact that I get stressed and that the stress has really horrible consequences for my body. I don’t actually even realise it’s happening which makes it nigh on impossible to do anything about it. Even if I could.

It started a few days before my interview. The bleeding, the pain, the nausea, the decision to live in the toilet for a while, the worry and the fear. No matter how many times it happens, there’s a moment when you realise it’s happening once again and all you can do is sit there and let the tears come. As this is usually happening while on the, erm, privy, my forehead has become used to placing itself on the edge of the sink. It really is like slamming into a brick wall when you’ve been happily moving along the street, minding your own business.

Back to the interview - it went well enough. The task, the competency based interview and the role-playing exercise (ick - shouldn’t these kind of things be banned for introverts?) were fine even if I did pause mid interview to point out the canal boat that was sailing past the window behind the interviewers. Well - I thought it was important!!

Sadly, the job was not for me and despite my mature attitude now, I was sad and a little angry. Not that I didn’t get the job but that my body was ripping apart internally and I felt the pain of it with every movement - and it was not even worth it.

That’s when the depression reared it’s ugly head and dragged me down. I was too weak to fight it. I could barely eat and I felt like hell and I was ripe for the plucking of the evil depression.

And then I realised - why the hell do I put myself through this? I have always said that I’m not cut out for the corporate world. I’m the girl that notices the canal boat rather than the bottom line.

Why do I constantly try and mould myself into something I’m clearly not? My body knows it. My heart knows it. When will my mind catch up?

Now.

Now - I’m catching up.

I can’t take this anymore. I can’t do this anymore.

I have to do something.

So, buh-bye plans of a hot body (for the moment anyway). My first priority is to sort out how I am going to be able to maintain my life without selling my soul to the corporate world.

It’s not going to be easy but at least I’ll have my health.

Since all I want is to be happy - I think this is a damn fine first step.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

3 Things You Need Before You Change Your Life


I have been pondering and planning for a while now on how to start and continue with my blog. I know what I want to do - I want to chronicle my journey as I work to build the life that I’ve always wanted. If other people join with me as I share my life then the more the merrier.

I want to talk about:

  • my life as a historical novelist
  • my amazing husband
  • the clothes I make
  • the tasty food that I cook for my man and our kiddies
  • the lovely home we are in the process of remodelling into our dream home
  • my pride and joy - my garden - where I grow all my veggies and keep the chickens, Jeckyll and Hyde
  • the celebrations with my wonderful family
  • our crazy dogs - Tilly and Fudge
  • how I stay fit and healthy with ulcerative colitis
  • how I stay mentally fit after beating depression

Sounds great, no?

Just one teeny weeny tiny stumbling block - I don’t have even half of what I’m planning to blog about. I don’t have a hot bod, I’m not a novelist, I don’t have kids, my house and garden are merely  figments of my imagination and, among other things, I don’t have an awesome husband (hell, I don’t even have a crap one!).

So after numerous plans, calendars, spreadsheets and lists (I’m getting an organisationgasm just thinking about it!) I’m back to square one. As much fun as the lists were (and still are) and as much as I know where I want to go, it’s the middle bit that’s a big blur.

It’s like deciding to go to Liechtenstein (for want of a better place to go) on Tuesday 22nd July. You write lists of what to take, what sights you want to see when you get there, what local delicacies you want to try and how you’re going to spend your time. The 22nd July rolls round and you’re ready to go. But wait? Which road do I need to take get to Liechtenstein? Do I need to get a plane? Train? Hot air balloon?

How do I get to Liechtenstein for crying out loud?

I know that I want to go and that’s where I want to be but I have no idea which direction to take the first step in.

So, here is where I decided what I needed to do and where I get to play about with marker pens and paper (can I get a woo hoo!?).

First I wrote down all the areas of my life I want to change or improve. I suppose this is just like the list of things I want to blog about or a list of the attributes of the girl I want to be.

So the areas of my life I want to improve are:


So now my plan is to take each of these elements and focus on them individually. I think my problem has always been that I focus on the big rather than the small. What I mean by this is that I decide that from a specific day that I will change all aspects of my life. I’m so excited - this is it - here we go. In my haze of excitement, I fail to realise that I’m simply meandering along and playing at changing my life. Then I hit a snag. Whatever that may be, something derails my plans and instead of being able to brush myself off and carry on, because it’s an all-or-nothing type thing, I get disheartened and have to start back at the beginning.

This is why I’ve decided to trick myself by taking small steps.

If I focus on one thing at a time then I can celebrate each small victory. And, if I hit a snag in any of my mini challenges, it will be small enough to be surmountable and I can brush it off and keep going.

The other good thing is that some of the elements of my life I want to change are all interlinked. So, if I focus on improving my physical health, my mental health will naturally improve. My self-esteem and confidence should increase which will make it less stressful to improve my currently pathetic love life. It’s a snowball effect.

So, I know that I’m going to start with physical health but my detailed improvement plans (aka the middle) can wait for another blog post.

But this really has got me thinking about what you need before you change your life.

1. You need to know where you want to FINISH

If you have a goal that you want to achieve then that is your finish point. Whether that’s getting married, getting fit, moving house, getting a promotion - once you know what you want then you’re a third of the way there. This is your Liechtenstein.


2. You need the desire to START


Do you even want to go to Liechtenstein or are you going along because someone else thinks you should go?

At first I thought this was quite obvious - why would you be planning to change something in your life if you didn’t have any desire to do so? Then it came to me - perhaps someone is pressuring you to lose weight yet you are happy and healthy exactly the way you are. I have realised that some people (all of us, probably) don’t understand how other people can be happy with something that they themselves are not.

It’s like the story that you are given £500. You are delighted until you realise that your friend/colleague/sister got £1000. Suddenly that £500 is upsetting and not as good as the £1000. Imagine then that someone was still absolutely delighted with the £500. Would you think they were being truthful? Would you almost try and convince them that they should be upset, offended or want the £1000? Do we want them to be unhappy with their £500 or do we just assume that since we wouldn’t be happy, they shouldn’t be either?

So, the moral is only change something if it’s what you want to do. Don’t think about what other people have and what is expected. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to go for that promotion? Do you want to start dating again?
Sit down and honestly ask yourself what you want. One word of warning, though. Don’t let fear convince you that you don’t want something just because it will be difficult, scary or hard work. It’s fine not to want something. It’s not fine to want something then convince yourself you don’t because you’re scared.


3. You need a well-stuffed MIDDLE

This is the way you will get to Liechtenstein.

It’s easy enough to say that you want to be happy but what does that mean for you? So the middle section is really important but only if you have been specific in what it will take to make you happy.
The middle is the hard work. The middle is where you decide which path you will take to getting what you want. If you are focussing on your love life then you have to decide what’s the best way to get what you want. Will it be speed dating? Online dating? Hitting the bars? Or do you think you should take the time to know and like yourself before hitting the dating scene?

This is very personal. It’s your path. There’s no such thing as a detour on your path. If you got to Liechtenstein then realised that you wanted to see Belgium on the way, you would have to go back. Look at the time and energy you’ve wasted. Take your time - do it your way and when you get to Liechtenstein you’ll find yourself ready to stay.


So that’s me. Here we go taking one step at a time to get to Liechtenstein.

J x

Thursday, 15 May 2014

31 Things for 31 Years

This is my last day of being 31 but shhh - don’t tell anyone - *whispers* I’m just masquerading as an adult until someone catches me and sends me to the naughty step! I suspect that everyone else is pretending as well but we’re all too scared to tell each other!

So I have collected 31 pieces of wisdom that have come to me over the past 31 years and 364 days which I will now share with you.

  1. It’s not bad people you should worry about but instead those that pretend to be good/nice/kind.
  2. A perm is very rarely a good idea.
  3. Life is better with a dog.
  4. Sometimes a hug is all you need.
  5. Your mum is capable of cheating at Scrabble. Be alert!
  6. Uisge beatha (pronounced oosh-gah bah-ha) is not a good name for a puppy.
  7. Watch where you’re walking when you’re wearing new shoes. Or just at any time really.
  8. Fuzzy socks will attract bees. Decide if you’re willing to risk it.
  9. Don’t laugh at people who think weather vanes and full moons are scary.
  10. You will eventually like coffee. And onions. Be patient.
  11. Never apologise for being you and liking what you like.
  12. Don’t let your thoughts and feelings be the only ones you don’t take into account.
  13. It’s okay to be scared of children.
  14. Don’t settle for someone you know isn’t right for you just so you’re not alone.
  15. Always take a jacket and a tissue with you.
  16. Wear the kind of underwear that your mum wouldn’t be embarrassed about if you got hit by a bus.
  17. Do what makes you happy.
  18. Eat chocolate.
  19. Don’t put yourself down. You’re awesome.
  20. Always keep your teddy bear near you for a hug.
  21. Take a nap when you need it - whatever age you are.
  22. Remember that everyone is going through something - a smile or a kind word from you might make life worth living for another day.
  23. On the other hand - some people are just mean. Walk away.
  24. No matter what size you are - you’re still the same person on the inside.
  25. I promise that things are going to get better. Don’t give up.
  26. Don’t pretend to be stupid just to fit in.
  27. If you feel like a fish out of water - find another pond. Your fish are waiting.
  28. Don’t feel obliged to do anything that you don’t want to do.
  29. It’s not time wasted to watch clips of cats, proposals or soldier homecomings on YouTube for hours. If you’ve had fun then it was worth it.
  30. Don’t leave changing your bed sheets to bedtime. There’s nothing worse than realising you can’t slip straight into bed.
  31. Laugh as much as you possibly can. Don’t worry if other people think you’re daft. “His bow tie made it look like he was being attacked by a bat.”

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Brit Wish List

I read an article the other day that listed the top 50 British things to do before you die. I was intrigued by this and wanted to find out which I had already done, which I wanted to do and which I had absolutely no interest in doing whatsoever.

So here we go:


1. Eat fish and chips on a seaside pier - Done this!

2. See whales off Wales - Not really sure why I'd want to but I'm not against it!

3. Go to a night at the proms at the Albert Hall - this would be fun. Wave those flags!

4. Visit the Giant's Causeway, N.Ireland - I'd like to do this.


5. Have a picnic at an open air concert - This would be fun (only in the summer, though!)

6. Go up in the London Eye - yeah, would like to do this.

7. Travel Scotland's West Coast by rail - Em, I suppose this would be fun.

8. Watch a Shakespeare play in Stratford - Again, not against it but have no huge desire to do so.

9. Dine in a Gordon Ramsay restaurant - Good God - no thanks.

10. Go to a British Grand Prix - Again, not my thing.

11. See inside the Houses of Parliament - Yes, I'd like to do this, please.

12. Get the Ffestiniog railway up Snowdon - Wouldn't say no but not in any great rush to do this.

13. Go to Glastonbury Festival - I've been to T in the Park and that was enough for me.

14. Hold the FA Cup in your hands - Why?

15. Take in the view from the top of the Shard - Is this taller than the Eye?

16. Stonehenge on longest day of the year - This would be fun minus all the other people that are bound to be there!

Expectation
Reality

17. See the trooping of the colour - I've seen it in Canada and on the telly. I'm satisfied with that.

18. Go to a cricket test match - You're having a laugh, right?

19. 'The Prisoner' village Portmeirion, Wales - I suppose this might be fun.

20. Have tea at Betty's tearooms, Harrogate - I've been there but the queue was massive. Seeing it was good enough for me.

21. See a traditional Christmas panto - This shouldn't be on a bucket list. Who hasn't done this?

22. Watch a British player at Wimbledon - Just going to Wimbledon would be enough for me.


23. Do a 'Wainwright' walk in the Lake District - Hmmm - aren't they really challenging?

24. Drive round Brand's Hatch - No thanks.

25. Visit a whisky distillery - Done, dusted and tasted the booze.

26. Go to a six nations rugby match - Done this too many times to count. Tick.

27. A Jack the Ripper walk in the East End - I think I would be too scared to do this, I'm afraid.

28. Have a pint in the Rover's Return - Nah.

29. See Lake Windermere by boat - Seen it but not by boat. If the opportunity arose then I probably wouldn't say no.

30. Go on a historic London pub tour - Might be fun but since I'm not a big drinker it might be lost on me.

31. Experience the Notting Hill Carnival - Each to their own. This isn't really my kind of thing. People - urgh!

32. Try a deep fried Mars Bar - You have no idea how much I want to try this.

33. Hogmanay Fireball ceremony in Stonehaven - This would be amazing!


34. Sail round the Isle of Wight - I wouldn't say no but wouldn't be sad if I couldn't do it.

35. Attend Grand National horse race - I'm good, thanks.

36. Go to a World Darts Final - Ha ha ha - no!

37. A selfie at John O'Groats and Land's End - This is interesting but seems like a lot of work!

38. Take a ferry across the Mersey - Oh, I wouldn't stop singing and someone would probably chuck me in the river!


39. Climb Ben Nevis - No thank you.

40. See Tower Bridge raised - This would be fun and something to talk about.

41. Visit Borough food market, London - Sure, I'm not averse to this if the opportunity arose.

42. Eat Haggis on Burns Night, in Scotland - Done this too many times to count.

43. See Morris Dancers at a country pub - I don't think I would be able to stop laughing but it would be nice from a cultural stand point.


44. See Oxford Street Christmas Lights - Christmas lights anywhere are always welcomed.

45. Be at a recording of X-Factor or BGT - No, just no.

46. See Blackpool Illuminations - Would be good to say I'd been there at least once.

47. Watch a boxset of Only Fools and Horses - I've seen the Batman and Robin episode and that suits me just fine.

48. Witness Oxford/Cambridge boat race - Having seen the last one on the telly, this might actually be a fun day out.

49. Attend first day of Harrods sale - Oh the horror.

50. Watch London Marathon live - Run the marathon. Yeah!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

#Winning

The other day I saw this pic on Pinterest and something about it just made me happy. And much like I did previously, I started hankering for another piercing or two in my ear.

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/112449321919990261/

I then had a nice little dream which, because it was a dream about ear piercing, I used to confirm the fact that it must be fate. (I'm not flighty - I just like to use things to my advantage when I can - however daft!).

Strangely, in a later conversation with my mum, she mentioned that she too had had a dream about getting her ears pierced again. She's got two piercings in each ear. I can't remember when she said she got her first piercings but she got the second set when she was 31. She always promised herself that she would get a third set but had never got round to it and for some reason she was once again thinking about it.

This was obviously fate again. Subtlety was never fate's strong point!

So I forced invited her to come with me on a joint piercing adventure. Woo hoo!

We got to the piercing place and I went up to the desk, all ready to go and asked for my left ear pierced a further two times.

Shop lady: "Not going to happen."
Me: Stamping feet. "But why not?"
Shop lady: "Because we only allow people to have three holes in each ear. Them's the rules."
Me: Pouting. "But that's not fair."
Mum: Elbowing me in the ribs. "Forget her - pierce me, pierce me!"
Shop lady: "Of course. Please come this way."
Me: "No! No! That's not fair! If she goes first then she'll have more piercings than me."
Mum: "Ha ha - sucker! Let's get this thing started!"

I managed to stop my temper tantrum long enough to catch the action.


So with 3 holes in each ear, mum now had 6 piercings to my measly 5.

Something had to be done!

I decided to ring the place where I got my tattoo and see if they did piercings higher than 3.

Yes they did so 2 days later there I was, ready again.

I went through to the piercing room and seconds before the lady started the piercing she decided to tell me that they didn't pierce with a gun - they just used a needle designed for use in horse tranquilising. That won't be a problem, right?

Now, this lady was tattooed, pierced and what-not to some degree. I am not and so I classed myself as somewhat less brave than she. For some reason, known only to myself, I decided that I would try and hide this fact from said lady. I don't think she was fooled for one second when I told her that was fine - please go ahead - I'm not scared!!!

My internal screams were pretty darn loud. At least I think they were internal - I wouldn't have been able to hear them over the pounding of blood in my ears regardless. It felt like, well, someone was stabbing me with a giant needle in order to poke holes in my lugs.

Trauma behind me, I am now back to winning with 7 holes to mum's 6! Yay!

The rivalry will continue, I'm sure. I do hope to get another 2 ear piercings when I have completely forgotten the pain of these last 2 and I'm planning another couple of wee tattoos, too. We'll see what mum decides to do to win the next round! ;)

 

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Happy Hilaria!

I'm not a fan of April Fools' Day.

I like a laugh as much as the next person but I don't like the minefield of a day (or half a day as I always understood that you weren't allowed to trick people after 12noon) designed to make you look like a dafty. I don't need any external help to make me look daft, thank you very much! And in any case, any other day where you lied on mass to people wouldn't go down too well, methinks! (I might try it - just to see!)

So, in an attempt to discredit this ridiculous practice, I had to have a wee look and see why we try and outsmart each other on this particular day in the year. Are there any redeeming qualities?

Apparently, April Fools' Day is a derivation of a Roman festival based on a Greek festival that celebrates Cybele, the mother of the Gods.

This girl knew how to party, it would seem.

Having looked at the origins of the festival as a whole, despite disliking being made a fool of, I'm quite glad that the only day of this festival we chose to replicate was All Fools' Day.

The days of the festival seem to have been as follows:

The Day of the Reed - The start of a 9 day period of abstinence from bread, pomegranates, quinces, pork, fish and any drink that was not milk. I'm not mad at this - I could cope without quinces for 9 days!

The Day of the Tree - A tree is chopped down and paraded through the town. Not particularly exciting but I'm still on board with this festival, so far.

The Day of Mourning - Time to be sad, unfortunately. Hmmm.


The Day of Blood - Mass scourging, whipping and castration. The chopped down tree is buried. Good times in ancient Rome and we've possibly also found the origin of the phrase "well that escalated quickly!"

The Day of Joy - Happy April Fools' Day y'all. You've just been scourged, whipped and castrated and you can't get a pomegranate for love nor money - why aren't you happy?

The Day of Rest - It's been a busy week what with mourning, castration and partying until dawn on nothing but milk - you deserve a break!

The Day of Washing - The above can be a messy business so get to washing.

The Ceremonial Day - Thank the Gods it's all over for another year!


So, I now decide that April Fools' Day isn't such a bad thing after all. I'll take looking like a muppet over drinking milk and scourging any day!

I still think that I'll start calling it Hilaria though - it has a much more sophisticated ring to it and maybe it won't make me so grumpy next year!






Monday, 31 March 2014

Granny's Fudge and a New Plan...

About a month ago my Granny went into a care home.

Such a simple sentence to write and yet it doesn't begin to describe the stress and detail that went into the 6 or so weeks going from independent living (to some degree), into hospital and then into a care home.

It was a difficult time (although definitely more so for my mum) but if I'm honest, it's been a blessing in disguise. Granny is now in a safe and lovely environment with people who are trained and ready to help her with everything she needs. Her room looks like a room from a Travel Lodge (which by my tastes, ain't that shabby) and she not only gets three home cooked meals a day (two courses) but biscuits and homebaking too. She has met interesting people who are in the same situation as she is and gets to enjoy their company rather than sitting by herself in her house. Plus there's entertainment laid on for them every day; Last week she was sporting newly polished nails and a pearl* bracelet that she won during a scrabble tournament. For my granny, the change has definitely been a positive one.

* Most likely an imitation!

I have decided that Care Homes have an unnecessarily bad reputation. Hell, I want to go into one now - it's like university dorms for old people! I don't even want to imagine what those crazy cats get up to when visiting hours are over!

Anyway, Granny has been at the forefront of my mind for a wee while now and so it's no surprise that some of the things that she was 'famous' for are coming back to me. One thing I remember is that whenever we visited there were always three things on offer:

1) Fudge Slice
2) Iced Sponge
3) Chocolate Cake

Surprisingly, I wasn't a fan of the chocolate cake which meant the Fudge Slice and Iced Sponge were all mine! With a hankering for Fudge Slice I decided to air out my Granny's recipe and give it a whirl.



It might not be the prettiest thing in the world but boy, if you're looking for a shot of sugar with chocolate on the top then this is a quick and easy way to get it.

The bottom of this slice is a sweet and creamy fudge with a bit of crunch from the crushed biscuits. A thin layer of chocolate on the top pulls it all together alongside some chocolate crunch sprinkles for prettiness and texture! Being quite sweet, you can't eat too many of these in one go - perfect if you're a food binger like me!


What you need:
4 oz margarine
1 small tin of condensed milk
4 oz sugar (castor or granulated)
2 tbsps syrup (to be honest, I forgot this and it still tasted delish!)
9 oz digestive biscuits
8oz chocolate of your choice
chocolate sprinkles of your choice


What you do:
Put the margarine, condensed milk, sugar and syrup in a pan and melt oh so slowly.

When all the ingredients are blended, put the heat on low-medium and heat for approximately 8 minutes. Keep stirring so that the mixture never sticks to the bottom of the pan (it goes brown when it does this and ruins the look as well as the taste of the fudge). The sugar will dissolve and the mixture will change to a warm golden hue.

Take your biscuits and pop them into a bag. Smash 'em up real good! The smoother you make your crumbs, the smoother your fudge will be. With the best will in the world, I always end up with little lumps but it adds a little extra, I say!

Remove the mixture from the heat and add the biscuits. Stir and blend well.

Pop the mixture into a swiss roll tin (a tin approximately 34cm x 20cm x 3cm) and press down. Allow to cool before adding your chocolate (aka the best bit!).

Melt your chocolate either over a pan of boiling water or in the microwave. I normally melt in a microwave with no issues but I've had a couple of horrors the last few times and I've managed to burn the chocolate. Not only do you then suffer the upset of wasting chocolate, the smell of burnt chocolate is just disgusting. Then there's the other problem of convincing yourself that the burnt chocolate will taste fine, eating it and then wanting to hurl. Burnt chocolate never tastes okay, people. Bleurgh!

Once the chocolate is nice and smooth, pour it over the fudge mixture. Add your chocolate sprinkles if you're using them and leave to cool at room temperature (you don't want any of the white fluff that appears if you pop chocolate in the fridge!).

Cut into tasty bars, eat and enjoy!


The new plan refers to a new way of thinking that I have decided to adopt.

I have realised (not that it's such a big surprise) that I just don't have the desire or inclination to give up yummy food that is traditionally seen as 'bad'. And why should I? Life is short - eat the damn chocolate!

Having said that with such conviction, I do suffer from low self-esteem and I complete hatred of my body image. I'll also admit that I do comfort eat those 'bad' foods. When I say comfort eat I mean binge. Eating one piece of something isn't bad. Eating the whole tray of goodies in one go - that's not healthy.

My dilemma is this:
I like to eat.
I like to eat things that have a large amount of sugar and fat.
I want to continue to eat these things because, as mentioned above, life is short.
Unfortunately, I berate myself daily for my 'bad' food choices and how this makes me feel about myself and my body.
I don't want to continue that.

So, my only option is to exercise.

I think that this (pinned to my Fitness and Health Pinterest board) pretty much sums up what needs to be my motto going forward.

Running, baby!!

So my new plan is this:

Continue to enjoy baking and eating scrumptious food (although maybe not so gluttonously!).
Exercise to keep my mind and body happy and in order.

I'll let you know how I get on!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Weight a minute...

I am currently on a course of steroids to try and get my ulcerative colitis under control. Now, normally I love, love, love steroids - especially the sugar coated red ones - mmmmmm - but this time I'm not so enamoured.

I've never had any side effects from steroids before. The opposite is in fact true. They cleared up a skin condition I had throughout my teenage years (something that no amount of other drugs or treatments could accomplish) and did I mention they are red and sugar coated? What's not to love?

I'm not one of these people that eschews modern medicine and my personal opinion is that if the doctor prescribes it to you, you take it. That's just me - if you don't like to take medicine and don't agree with it then that's absolutely fine, too. Live and let live, I say. Despite that, I always read the instruction leaflet that comes with any new pills I take. When you're a worrier like me, this is both a necessity and the stupidest thing anyone could do! So I am well aware that one of the side effects, of the negative variety, of steroids is that you can develop "moon face" (a chubby little face) and your appetite can increase dramatically leading to, yep, weight gain.

After feeling a little more bloated than usual, I decided to reassure myself by checking my weight. Just to appease my worry. Another big mistake as it turns out. I'd put on half a stone. Sigh.

Not to worry, I decided it was an anomaly and weighed myself again the next day. It was an anomaly - I was actually 4lbs heavier than the day before.

I know I've been eating shockingly - a combination of comfort eating and yet more comfort eating - but I was truly quite shocked.

And that's when it happened. Mental Jo raised her head and now I am absolutely obsessed with how much I weigh, what I look like and how round my face is. I am ashamed of myself yet don't know if it's a physical or mental issue.

The funny thing is, I don't judge people by what size they are.

Earlier today I was in a supermarket and wanted to look at the sale clothes. There were three ladies and a trolley in the way so I had to double back and go up the aisle another way.

The three ladies were having a conversation about a jacket they were admiring. The first lady was seemingly annoyed because one of her acquaintances had the audacity to suggest that the pair could share clothes.

First lady: (obviously not the actual first lady but hey...) Can you believe she thinks she's the same size as me?
Second lady: I know - she is so so much fatter than you. She's huge.
Third lady: Oh, yes. I would say that she was probably bigger than you.
First lady: She's got a nerve - and she probably believes it, too. Humph. *Giggles*
Second lady: God, if she got any bigger she'd nearly be as fat as Third Lady.

Even I stopped dead at that statement and a frigid chill wafted over all four of us. No-one knew what to say. I even wanted to break the awkward silence and I didn't even know them.

Now, all three of these ladies were larger ladies but why does that matter? Why were they so focused on their weight and their weight versus others.

Third lady could have been Mother Theresa yet her so called friends were so totally focused on what the scales told her and made her feel bad because of it.

Why do we listen to the scales? Why do we listen to these mean people - fat or thin - that tell us we aren't valuable because of a number on a scale? Why do we let the scales and these mean people invade our minds until it's their voices that we hear in our heads telling us that we're fat?

Up until the conversation started, the only thoughts I had about the three ladies is that they were in my way. By the end of the conversation, the only thing I knew for certainty is that Second lady wasn't a very nice person. Fat or thin - she wasn't very nice.

And that's what I have to remember is more important.

Be nice. To each other and to yourself.

That's my plan for this week. Who cares if I've put on weight for whatever reason? I'm still a good person and that's what counts.


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

That's Okay...

I’m not sure if it’s a symptom of depression or just my personality but I am constantly worrying about what people think of me.

I keep a personal journal and, no word of a lie, I worry about coming across as a moaner with the amount of times I pour out my heart to its pages. Coming across to whom? No-one reads my journal and no-one will ever be allowed to read my journal. So that means that I’m effectively worried what people who might read it long after I’m dead will think of me.

Seriously?

Am I living up to the stereotype of crazy or what?

I know that it sounds ridiculous but I seem to have this perpetual fear of what others may think of me.



The same is true of this blog. I initially started it as a way to escape my depression. Then, I realised that I couldn’t gloss over the fact that depression is a major part of my life and if I wanted to work through it, I couldn’t avoid talking about it.

The repercussions of that is that people reading my blog might also think I’m a moaner if I go on about depression and the mindless number of ‘setbacks’ and steps backward I seem to take.

Man, all this thinking is exhausting!

And do you know what? That’s okay.

The fact that I seem to have minor setbacks on a weekly basis is okay too.

I have depression.

So do 20% of all adults. So I’m not that unusual - hard as it may be to believe!

If I put myself out there people may think that I am endlessly moaning. But, there might be one person, just one person who reads what I have to say and thinks ‘thank God, someone else isn’t finding it as easy to climb out of depression’.

It’s not easy and that’s not just okay - that’s the truth.

This is a real blog and I have to be true to me and truthful with my battles. If people think badly of me, my blog or anything I have to say - do you know what? - that’s okay, too.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Back in the dating game...

I suppose that this year I have been very selfish in that I'm trying to concentrate on making myself happy. Not that I've been neglecting those that I love - at least I hope not. It's just that day by day I'm trying to take back my life and do so by my own rules, dreams and goals.

Today's thinking may seem a little frivolous to some but part of my goal to be happy includes having a partner to share my life with. Not that I need someone to make me happy - I just want to find someone to be happy with.

I dated minimally in school, just as minimally in University, other than a few fleeting distractions (and disasters!) I have pretty much put my hope into online dating. Not to much success, mind you, but I'm an introvert and don't really enjoy parties, nights out etc etc so this seems like my only option.

After my last round of internet dating I decided (again) that it wasn't for me. But now (again) I'm beginning to waver and wonder whether I should give it another go. As I just mentioned - I don't really have many other options and I'd quite like to not just accept my transformation to the spinster-side of the street will soon be complete.

There's just one problem.

As part of my new way of thinking, I refuse to be anyone but myself (easier said than done but that's for another day). I would rather be alone than with someone who didn't know the real me and didn't accept me - flaws, quirks and all. I don't want any time wasters. I don't want anyone who isn't going to be in something for the long haul (I'm not getting any younger, after all!). And that's not to mention all the superficial/shallow things that I would prefer but wouldn't want to be forced to admit that they would be a deal breaker (tall, older, etc...).

Basically I know what I want and if I went internet dating I wouldn't want to settle for any less.

Do you see what this one problem might be?

Yep - I've become a dating-zilla.

In the beginning I was all optimistic and happy.

Then doubts starting creeping in (along with the weirdos).

And now it's rage-a-holic, scary lady who is just a little bit freaky with what's 'supposed' to be and what's not allowed.

Then I realised - I'm the dating equivalent of Phoebe from Friends when she tries her hand at collecting donations for Christmas.

Oh dear...


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Always...

I'm always writing a story in my head. I now need to take the time, lose the fear and get what's in my head down on paper.


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Hopeless?

I found this the other day while I was "cleaning" out my computer files. It made me laugh.Probably because it's true!


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Going Loco...

I'm going to go on a moan here and say that I hate the fact that when my anxiety and depression acts up, my UC also begins to flare.

Perhaps it's the other way around.

Thinking about it - it is the other way around. Or it certainly feels like that.

The first sign of blood and, even if my brain is already on a downward spiral, it just plummets.

It totally sucks.

Then I read this in a Harvard Medical School publication (that sounds so much better than 'I found this on the internet'!)

"The brain has a direct effect on the stomach. For example, the very thought of eating can release the stomach’s juices before food gets there. This connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. That’s because the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected — so intimately that they should be viewed as one system."

 So basically either my depression is causing my UC symptoms. Or, my UC is causing my depression.

That's doesn't really help me but it's nice to know that when I get to the bottom of one of my diseases, the other one should stop causing me so much bother, too. Something to be positive about - that's a silver lining.

I also saw this really interesting post and it was just so true...

http://www.thedarlingbakers.com/love-someone-with-depression/

It sucks for me but I completely admit that it must suck hugely for my loved ones, too.

Hopefully I can bounce back and get back to 'normal' soon.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Knees bent, arms stretch, Ra! Ra! Ra!

I saw this on Pinterest the other day and it made me laugh.


When I went to find out who the image should be credited to, I found that this is an actual clinic in Canada! Brilliant! I laughed even more.

My mum has a sign above her kitchen door that says this:


Something else that makes me laugh every time I read it.

I then decided that I wanted to find out why we Brits call it the Hokey Cokey while everyone else seems to call it the Hokey Pokey.

Personally, I think that Hokey Pokey sounds a little naughty. I can almost hear the Benny Hill theme tune when someone says it!

Hokey Cokey on the other hand (left or right, in or out) sounds perfectly normal of course!

I couldn't really find out - nobody's really sure by all accounts. But when I found the words I was transported back to a simpler, childhood time.

So, for anyone having a bad day or just wanting to smile, I decided to post the words.

You put your [left leg] in,
Your [left leg] out:
In, out, in, out.
Shake it all about.
Do the hokey cokey,
And you turn around.
That's what it's all about! Hey!

Whoa, hokey cokey, cokey.
Whoa, hokey cokey, cokey.
Whoa, hokey cokey, cokey.
Knees bent arms stretch,
Ra! Ra! Ra!

Hope that makes you smile and if not, head over to You Tube and get that song stuck in your head!

For anyone with PTSD or a childhood trauma associated with the Hokey Cokey - my apologies!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Miss Tilly...

In my life my family have had three dogs: Misty, Pepper and Rosie.

When I decided to get Miss Tilly, I would have (and did) swear up and down that I knew what it took to look after a dog. I knew what I needed to know and I was ready - it would be a breeze.

I suspect now that this kind of thinking is akin to someone reading a parenting manual and deciding that they are an expert in having and rearing children.

Erm, no.

Miss Tilly is a bundle of fun, excitement, annoyance, love, energy, joy, dirt - I could go on.

I love her to pieces but I have to admit that she tests the patience at times. I still wouldn't swap her for the world but I would quite like to go back in time and slap my smug self who said she knew what she was doing.

Note to self - I don't know what I'm doing!

My biggest problem is being mad. Not getting mad but staying mad.

How are you supposed to be mad, get angry and mete out discipline when you get this thrown in your face each and every time?


It's a skill, I tell you.

The other way in which punishment can be avoided is by being too darn funny. Miss Tilly can turn on the humour when she spots that she might be in a sticky situation.

There you stand, mid-rant when she excuses herself to, em, well, lick her bits. You can do little but laugh at that lack of respect.

She also manages to choose the most ridiculous items to run away with. She stole several of my canes out of the shed (for supporting plants before anyone assumes anything that they shouldn't!). One by one, she plucked them from the shed, running out each time and hiding them at the back of the garden. The fact that they were easily three times the length of her made it too funny to chastise her. God help me when it comes time to plant up my veggies this year.

That event was also mirrored when I decided to put soil in some pots ready for starting some seeds this week. I put the soil in a number of pots and then decided to move them all to a place where they wouldn't be blown away in the dregs of the coming storm. I took a couple over to the shelter, returned only to find two of the remaining pots were tumbled and the soil trickled all over the patio. Confused, I picked them up, scooped up the soil and took a further two over to the shelter. Returning again the same had happened - more pots turned over and more soil all over everything. Then I saw the culprit sitting pretty on the grass beside the patio. Miss Tilly bounded up to me and looked so happy to have helped me with my game. She jumped up with her muddy paws and kissed me with her muddy mouth. Humour and affection abounded - I would tell her off the next time! Honestly I would.

But the next time was this:


And she didn't get into trouble here either. I mean, could you discipline this face?

Didn't think so.

So I'll have a terror for a dog. But a cute terror.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Non V-Day Cookies...

As I mentioned previously, a fan of Valentine's Day I ain't.

Having said that... as one of my resolutions to enjoy my life, I decided to celebrate all of the holidays that I don't normally celebrate. Some, because I just haven't done so. And some because I have absolutely no right to be celebrating them (mainly because I'm not Mexican, Jewish, American and etc).

When I say celebrate, what I really mean is make some yummy food decorated in the style of the holiday in question. To me, there's something about food that brings people together and makes people happy. A lot of my happiest family memories go hand in hand with tasty treats.

All of the above is just an attempt to not come across like a hypocrite when I show you the crunchy, glittery cookies I made for Valentine's Day.

The cookies themselves are a simple, buttery, crunchy biscuit iced with a pinky red icing and some edible glitter. They were delish although they didn't last long unfortunately!!

I'm not really sure why I'm calling them cookies rather than biscuits. Adding a touch of glamour to the proceedings, perhaps?!

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Great British Sewing Bee Returns...

It's time to sew, people!

I've always had the inclination and now that I have the time, the return of The Great British Sewing Bee tomorrow night is fantabulously well timed for me.



When I saw the advert saying series 2 was coming soon, I was tempted to immediately get on the phone or email to my mum to share the exciting news. Oh the excitement! Then I stopped, stepped back and realised that it was unlikely that anyone, mum especially, would appreciate being called or emailed by a half-crazed, over excited wannabe sewer, in the last half hour of the day. As it turns out, she was up too, but I wasn't taking the risk of wrath!

My second reaction was that I was excited once again to see what projects Stuart, Ann, Lauren and the rest would come up with this time. And... then I realised that the same people won't be there - it'll be shiny, new and unknown people this time. I'm both suspicious and intrigued - change must work to convince me that it's for good! ;)

So, what will this second series make me dust off and start sewing?

I have the pieces cut out for a pair of dark grey culottes. They got put onto the back burner (not really, that would be dangerous!) due to my inability to thread my previous sewing machine without inviting my mum over to my house to do it for me!

Then I got a scrumptious new sewing machine for my Christmas and we're good to go.

Here's my pretty sewing machine that will now be known as Lexi (she's an LX17!).



So now these lovely culottes will be mine to own and wear. I'll update you when I'm done (which should hopefully shame me into completing them sooner rather than later!).




Or perhaps I'll just watch the Great British Sewing Bee and sew vicariously through the contestants!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

I Don't Like Valentine's Day


I'm going to tell you a secret that no single girl should admit...

*whispers* I don't like Valentine's Day!

No, seriously... I guess the heading might have given me away!

It's not shameful to not like Valentine's Day; I know many couples that eschew the festivities. But I'm not part of a couple.

I AM ALONE. (Wow - how much bitterness can capital letters convey?! ;) )

My aloneness makes my dislike of V Day take on spinster proportions.

"You only dislike it because you are sad and lonely."

"Once a man snaps you up you'll enjoy it."

"You're just bitter that you're alone on the most romantic day of the year."
 
But it's just not true.

If not having a boyfriend at this time of year is more annoying than at other times - for me, it's surely because when I'm part of a couple, I can dislike V Day without anyone saying anything about it.


As much as I adore love and romance - the thought of someone being romantic because they're told to because it's a certain day is too cringey for me. I'd be mortified. I'd much rather have a spontaneous box of chocolates, box of chocolates, fluffy teddy bear or box of chocolates on any other/every other day of the year.

Actually, to be honest, I'd rather have a book!

And if anyone even thought about proposing to me on 14th February then I would have to say no out of principle!

Perhaps I should put that on a dating website - Girl looking for a guy. I don't need anything for Valentine's Day so no pressure!

So this is just a post where I stand up and say...

I'm single and I don't like Valentine's Day.

Don't judge me! :D

Saturday, 15 February 2014

A Cheeky Chin

Following on from yesterday's post about my super-duper fitness regime - I decided to share one of my before photos.

Why? Because I'm not actually sure that anything will make a difference to my cheeky chin/neck area so it might get ditched in the big 'ta-da' reveal photo blog! My mum says it's just my face shape and someone could no more change a square jaw than I can make a difference to my round face. But I'm going to give it a try by doing some hilarious chin exercises (seriously - google it if you're ever feeling down) and see if, any differences are made.

The downside of posting this is that I draw attention to it. It's like when someone says to you - can you notice my big nose, giant spot, big hair, ripped tights, giant booger, missing teeth...? And then you notice it and can look at nothing else when you see that person.

And then I realised that I'm an introvert and don't like people. So it became less of a problem.

But if I see someone looking at me strangely in the street I'll know what they've been reading!

On that slightly stalkerish statement - I will show the picture and leave.


Oh - the red lines surround the bit o' chin that I will be tackling thusly.

If only photoshop worked in real life... hmmmm.

Friday, 14 February 2014

The Before Photo...

Today I have taken 'the before' photo.

That being the photo that I will hopefully display alongside my 'ta-da' photo after I have completed my planned fitness regime.

A planned fitness regime? Sounds serious.

Well, it is and it isn't.

A couple of years ago I lost a couple of stone to get down to my "ideal" weight. I have since crept back up to what I call my 'resting weight'. This is the weight that seems to be my norm when I'm not doing any extra activities and while eating what I want. It's not a bad weight to be and I'm fairly happy with my body. I say fairly and that word is definitely key.

The dreaded BMI scale says that I'm a couple of pounds from being overweight. Even when I was ridiculously ill and got down to single figures with my weight, it still said that I had a few pounds to go until I was 'ideal'. Pffft.

I know a lot of people say that the fashion industry and media put a lot of pressure on people to have an (unrealistically) "perfect" body. While I don't disagree - I'm going to suggest that the 'health' industry are as equally responsible for making people feel badly if they don't conform to the rules.

BMI doesn't take into account body shape, skeletal structure and I feel it could lead people to feel like they need to lose weight even if they are perfectly healthy.

Don't eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day? Shame on you - bad human!

Aren't you doing 30 minutes of exercise every day? You're going to get this disease, that disease - blah, blah, blah.

I'm not saying that eating fruit and veg or doing exercise are wrong (I am saying that the BMI scale is wrong, in case you're wondering!) but if you have to shame people into doing things then surely there's something wrong.

Which leads me to my current dilemma - I have fitness fear!

Before I got Tilly, I thought to myself that if I could just tone up my tummy and lose the flabby chin then I'd be happy enough with my body. Having been outside to play with the energizer puppy, I have realised that I am SO out of shape.

I can hardly run around for more than 10 seconds without having to stop and catch my breath. I suddenly realised what people have been saying (on Pinterest, where else?) that fit is the new skinny.

It doesn't matter a jot if you're a skinny minny or a chunky monkey - if you can't run around with your puppy (or child, hamster, whatever...) for more than 10 seconds then you're not fit!

Okay, fine - I've just looked on Pinterest and it's actually 'strong is the new skinny'. Too bad - I've changed it for fit. I don't need to be strong! :)


So I'm ready to start getting fit when I realise - where on earth do I begin?

I googled, Pinterested and searched through my magazine cuttings about healthy things that I've collected over the years (obviously in preparation for this very moment, years later!). It got too much!

Should I stretch for the splits? Do I want that beach bum? The toned arms? Pert booty? Get rid of that muffin top? (Muffins - mmmmm!) Should I do cardio? Stretching? Running? Swimming?

Oh good lord - I don't know!!!

So I decided to do something that every health blogger suggested was vital - I had a rest day. Actually, I've had a few. I rock at rest days.

Then I realised that I'm as bad as the BMI people (I've decided there must be an evil BMI organisation somewhere filled with evil BMI people), the health people and the media - putting FAR too much pressure on myself to be 'perfect' and have all the perfect bits. And bobs if you're a boy.

So the plan - there's no plan.

  • I'm going to take Tilly for walks. 
  • I'm going to run about with her in the garden.
  • I'm going to run up and down the steps in my garden while waiting for Tilly to do her business.
  • I've already compiled a list of my favourite tunes and I'm going to dance like a lunatic to them when I get the chance.
  • I'm going to ride my exercise bike when the notion takes me.
  • I'm going to get awesome at the hula hoop (the plastic variety - not the crisps!)

I'm pretty much just going to mince about, trying to add exercise to my life and not put too much pressure on myself.

Hopefully, by the time Tilly has calmed down, I'll be able to keep up with her as if she hadn't.

Maybe by summer I'll share the 'before' and 'ta-da' photos. We'll see. No pressure.
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