Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Brief update, Manchester, Lent, Church, holiday, half term and work, letter from America, walk

My cat is ill. My grandpa is much better. And my friend is heading down to see her sort-of boyfriend to try and get pregnant again. Umm.

I went to Manchester yesterday with my friend, KT. He's hilarious and we joke a lot. I bought some more writing paper, which is pretty fun and useful since I was running out rapidly; and I bought a couple of bits from lush as well. We had a drink in Starbucks and just generally chatted and walked and window shopped in clothing stores. We stopped in at Primark - a store I have never bought anything from due to cheap material clothes and cheap labour they use - and it was strange to see how uninviting the men's clothing was in general. It was all so dull and muted and miserable looking on the whole. What happened to colour? Why are we suddenly dressing men in grey and brown and mustard - a colour which suits almost nobody, I might add.

But it was really fun in general, and pretty cheap for me as days out go since the only money I had to spend was £4.50 on a return train fare with my railcard. Bargain! Plus, as I walked to and from the station, I felt like I'd done some healthy exercise too. Definitely enough to make up for the toblerone we bought for the train journey home...

I'm giving up tea for Lent. I am an avid drinker of tea. I'm not absolutely sure how many cups I get through in a day, but there is rarely a moment when I am without one in my hand. That adds up to a fair bit of money I think. Not a massive amount, but a reasonable bit. So I thought I could give it up for Lent, and give the money that would usually be spent on cups of tea for 40 days to a charity. I don't know what charity yet; but I feel it makes giving it up actually meaningful, rather than just being something I've given up pointlessly for 40 days. I remember once when we were young we gave up our pocket money for Lent and saved it all up in a tin to give to a charity. I never knew if we actually did give it to a charity, or which charity it went to... This time, I have it planned out.

My mum's kindly offered to go and look at church services with me. I decided I want to go to church on Sundays, but I'm not sure where. So we're going to do the rounds of the local churches and see which one feels right. I'm quite drawn to one at Leigh Sports Village simply because the service is at half 4 in the afternoon, which means there's no danger of sleeping in. I know, I know, religion isn't meant to be about making things easy in this way - but I do think that with the distance it is to get there, it also makes transport easier. We'll see.

The parents are going on holiday this Sunday, leaving me at home alone for a week (yay)! I enjoy pretending to own my own house and live independently, even if it is just for a week.

I'm on half term from work this week, so I've been doing as much as possible already and I'm hoping to continue my week in this vein. Then next week I will be back to work. I still plan to do as much as possible. I saw that there was a mums and tots group on in Leigh on Tuesdays in the morning, so I was considering trying BB at that. It does cost 50p to attend, whereas Story-tots on Wednesdays and Playgroup on Thursdays are both free. But 50p isn't too bad, and I think BB might enjoy it. I'm always looking for something specific to do on each day simply to give something significant to it, and to break the day down into manageable bits. That's especially important now that BB doesn't have a nap anymore, as the afternoon can seem interminably long sometimes. But if we do something through the morning, then by the time we get home it's lunchtime, and then the games at home occupy us easily for a few hours. If we don't go out at all then the games at home have to occupy us for twice as many hours. And I feel trapped in the house - especially in this weather. I think all the groups we go to are good for BB, as when I first started working with her she was sued to having me all to herself and having undivided attention. At the groups she doesn't get that, which she is slowly getting used to. And she gets used to being in the company of other little people the same age as her, which can only be good to my mind.

I got a letter from America yesterday, which was brilliant! It's part of LetterMo, and so I'm going to write back to the lovely person who wrote to me. It was a very interesting letter, touching on sticky discussion topics, like religion and homosexuality, and healthy living. I'm going to enjoy writing back!

I'm going to stop now, as I need to get dressed for the day. I'm going for a walk with KT today. It's been so long since we saw each other - up until yesterday - so we're going to try and do a bit more from now on.

Oh - and my teeth should be finished and in my mouth by 23rd March, fingers crossed!

Love love xx

Friday, 17 February 2012

brief update, Fill in the Blank Friday, chlminding, the wife, baby games, a crazy long essay on why I wouldn't have a baby right now.

I'm tired. Not ill any more, but tired. It's been a long week. My grandpa's been in and out of hospital a coupla times - once for scheduled surgery, and then again via A & E - the wife's been down, I've had work, and one of my friends is playing a dangerous game.

I will update you on all of that, but not yet, because this is my Fill in the Blank Friday:

1. The love of my life is not here yet. I don't know them yet. Although I do love my family incredibly much, and the wife as well. It would be fair to call her the love of my life, but it would be a different kind of love to the one meant here.

2. Falling in love is scary and dangerous and exciting and fun and not what life with a partner is about as far as I know. Falling in love is the really fun bit at the start before you get used to them. The real challenge for life is enjoying being with them for the rest of your lives and getting through the tough bits and the boring bits.

3. Marriage is important to me. I find it to be very significant, and not something I would consider lightly. My mum always told me that when she agreed to marry my dad, she did mean forever absolutely seriously. And I would want to as well.

4. The longest relationship I've ever had was not very long in the grand scheme of things. But then of what relationships I have had, I've never bothered to time them, really. I was too busy enjoying spending time with the person.

5. The key to a good relationship is communication, honesty and trust. People in a relationship need to talk to each other. Honestly! About the things that are bothering them, or any issues they feel can be put right. And they need to trust each other, too, that they are both being honest about what they need to know.

6. I feel loved when people remember me. When they do those little things that show they care, like sending me the link to a video that made them think of me. Or even just a text where they ask if I've had a nice day, without me having to text them first necessarily.

7. My favourite quote about love is non-existent. As soon as I read this my mind blanked on any quotes that contained the word 'love'. The only one I can remember is from Twelfth Night - 'If music be the food of love, play on. Give me excess of it-' It doesn't have any significant message for people, and it doesn't even make so very much sense out of context. But nothing else springs to mind; and even if it did, it would probably be corny.

Sot hat's this Friday's Fill in the Blank. And to recap the week... I worked, as per. BB seemed strangely ill yesterday - I mean, rather than it being an obvious illness, or her putting it on, she suddenly turned quiet and couldn't focus on playing because of a pain on her tummy. Normally she's easily distracted even if she is ill. But this time just seemed different. And I wasn't sure what to do. So I ended up ringing the parents, and her mum spoke to her on the phone (good phone skills for a 2-year old!) and suggested that it could be eczema  on her belly which she occasionally got. So we rubbed some cream on it and that kept her going until her mum got home from work.

The wife was down last weekend. She's majorly busy now with assignments and people visiting her, so she wanted to get one last drop in at home before she was too busy. It was lovely to see her, mainly because she's the one friend I have who always remembers me. Most, if not all, of the others don't really care about staying in contact that much, and I'm always the one having to make the effort. And that leaves me feeling very lonely and isolated sometimes. But the wife didn't even stop in at her own home on the way down. She just came straight to see me. And that let us have a catch-up and a giggle. And then we ate supper at hers the following night with another friend, BM. we didn't stay the night at hers, as she was leaving again the next day so it was a little hectic for her. I really hate saying goodbye. I know it's not forever, I know she's back down over Easter. But it is hard to say goodbye to someone you're close to - and someone to whom you're close because they care and make an effort where others don't.

I was meant to be seeing BM again on Wednesday evening, but she cancelled because she wasn't pregnant and was miserable about it. She's the friend who's playing a dangerous game. There are positives to having babies and children, I know that. They are a joy, and they will teach you a lot about the world and other people. But there are also a lot of sacrifices to be made if she is determined to go down this route. Ultimately I can't stop her trying, and it's clear she wants a baby very much. If she gets pregnant, I will of course support her as much as I can and as much as she needs me. But I also wonder if it wouldn't be better if she didn't get pregnant right now, but focused and prepared for an interview she has for university studying nursing, which is what she wants to do. She still doesn't know if she's going to India this September, but if I were her I would look into that too, as a possibility. But I'm not her. And she has to do what is right for her. All I can do is pick up the pieces at a time like this when she's miserable about not being pregnant, and support her in the path she takes her life down. It isn't easy.

I can't write any more. My brain is too full right now.

Love love xx

Friday, 10 February 2012

mini update, poorly sick, wife, Fill in the Blank Friday, maybe's

So I went swimming like I'd planned to. And I made cookies. I didn't sew. I have all the pieces cut out for another square, but I haven't done the actual sewing. Maybe today at some point. I did laundry too.

I'm rather tired today. I'm not sleeping well, as every time I lie down my nose blocks up and so I have to breathe through my mouth which doesn't feel right and leaves my mouth dry and awkward and my throat really dry and sore. Add to that all the pain in my right wrist, and you've got yourself a bad night's sleep. I don't know what I've done to my wrist, but it hurts like anything when I try to move it. It's something that's gradually appeared and then got worse, and I now find even lifting a cup or plate in that hand too heavy and really painful on the wrist. Very frustrating!

The wife's coming down today - yay! She told me yesterday (I think that was when she actually decided to do it at all) that she had been going to surprise me but then she realised that I might go out or something and miss her. I am incredibly overjoyed though - it's so thoughtful, and I do miss her something awful.

And of course, today is Friday! So here are my blanks filled in:

I started my blog because it seemed like a good idea at the time? I'm not really sure if I'm honest. I think I wanted somewhere to document some of the more interesting things that had happened to me. It was kind of meant to be an online diary but I realised I was screening the most emotional stuff from it, so I started a paper diary for myself. And then this carried on going anyway.

 One thing I love seeing on other blogs is pictures. I love seeing the pictures of what people have been up to, and the stories that are completely relatable. These are also the things I worry that my blog lacks.

Something I love about blogging  is the let-out. You can put things up that are too small and petty or too hurtful to say to an actual person. But you can write them in your blog and feel better for it.

A favourite blog post of mine is this one. Because it really feels like it was at a turning point for me - I was on the verge of changing jobs, everybody had left for uni, and I had made that frickin' awesome quilt for the wife. Okay, so it's the quilt stuff that really makes it for me - it just meant so much to me to do it; and having pictures up of it makes me feel really fuzzy and warm inside! It was also a time when I was sad because everyone was leaving, but in myself I felt truly content and positive. I can spend a lot of time feeling sort of vaguely miserable and tired and it can be hard, because there's often no real reason. But when I wrote that blog post I was feeling really happy in myself, despite my sorrow at people leaving for uni.

Something that my friends in real life know about me that I've never before mentioned on my blog is that when I'm really angry I become much politer in my tone. The words coming out will include swearing, which is something I avoid on my blog; horrible clipped insults which leave people without a leg to stand on; and a tone of voice that makes people step back - I don't yell at people. When I'm angry, my voice is lower, and quiet, and slightly slower because I speak clearly. The none thing you do not want when you're speaking to someone angrily is to have to repeat yourself. I don't get angry very often, in truth. But I don't get angry on my blog at all.

My new favourite blogs to read are My Milk Toof, which is an awesome blog that creates stories about two little milk teeth with models and photographs. And The Bloggess. I guess she's not so recent for me - but she is more recent than a lot of the other blogs I follow. And she's hilarious, so I always feel the same as I did when I read the first post by here - the one about Beyonce the big metal chicken. Beware, by the way, as that link is really slow to load for me now, it has so many comments!!

Some things I tend to avoid doing on my blog are swearing and naming people. I want to talk about the other people in my life, but I'd rather not have to ask them if it's ok. So I make them anonymous instead. Then I can be as rude as I like!

So that's that! I don't have much else to say today, really. Maybe another day. Maybe I'll bake today. Or sew that square up. Or just go back to bed with a book. I don't know.

Love love xx

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

weather and work, quilt, pecan butter, pecan butter, pecan butter, today's plans include soup, peeling fruit

Goodness, it's cold today! Well, I was out of the house before the sun was up in order to go to work, but then Big Boss Daddy rang to say that he and the girls were ill so they didn't need me today. So I came back home! I'm quite okay with all that, since there are lots of things I want to do!

So yesterday I made another two squares for my own quilt which I started back last summer but put on hold and never got back around to until now. I also decided I didn't want one of the squares I had made in my quilt and took it out of the group. I promise, once I have made all my main squares I will take pictures and put them up. All the squares I'm making are from Crazy Mom Quilts' star Quilt along. I have about 6 squares so far, and I need 13. Then I'll need the setting squares, sashing, back, etc etc etc. But I should do the main squares first.

I also made pecan butter - like peanut butter, but with pecans instead. Turns out it's really easy! I roasted 6oz pecans first so they would be a little easier, then I tipped them into the mixer and whizzed! Nothing else, just pecans.

 At first it just shattered the nuts down into tiny little pieces. Not very appetising, I must say.
 But then... look! They kept getting smaller and started to clump together a bit!
 They stopped trying to climb up the side, and got to this point - the oils were coming out, and it was binding, but still sort of lumpy.

And then it went like this! Seriously, I just kept whizzing the mixer and scraping the nuts down from the sides, and eventually the oil came out of them, and they turned all liquidy and like peanut butter but with pecans instead! How awesome, right?!

See? Check out the glossy liquid of that!

So that was hugely exciting for me, and I had a look at the label of a peanut butter jar, and they put other stuff in there, like palm oil and salt and stuff, and it's totally unnecessary. To make a nut butter, all you need to use are the nuts! (insert childish giggle) The oil in the nuts will make the butter for you. Some are easier than others, but for most if you roast them first it makes it easier. And you can flavour these things too, however you like - nutmeg, cinnamon, honey, anything at all!

So today I'm hoping to complete another couple of squares, maybe go swimming, and make some cookies! Very indulgent of me, I know - no housework featuring on my radar (except some laundry that needs doing). Just a day where I can do stuff I want. And I'm making parsnip soup for supper. I really love soups! They're just a really yummy way of eating vegetables. I've been mulling over the idea of trying to make tomato soup for a while. It's such a common soup, after all, and yet I've never even attempted to make it! Hmmmn...

Oh, and I ate a whole lot of fruit yesterday. Turns out you can peel oranges. I know that probably sounds insanely stupid; but I swear, for years we always used a knife to slice the skin of big oranges. Well, I peeled and ate one yesterday. And then I discovered you could peel a grapefruit, too. And under the grapefruit skin is really thick pith which you can peel off as well, in a second layer! So I had a lot of fun eating fruit yesterday.

Love love xx

Sunday, 5 February 2012

cold snow and little sleep, Sunday, box, box, plans

It's very cold. We had some snow yesterday, but none today. We still have yesterday's batch, though, which is melting so so slowly that I still can't go out. I wanted to go swimming today, and then maybe try going to church at Leigh Sports Village. But getting there is too dangerous. And I have a cold, so mum reckons swimming isn't a good idea today. Maybe tomorrow, instead. Depending on the roads. This weather is so frustrating. Also I woke up this morning at 6:30 despite the fact that I'm not working today and intended to sleep until 8, instead. I fell asleep again around 7:30, and got up then at 11:30. So I'm feeling a little crabby - disturbed sleep and a waste of a morning makes me an irritated child.

On the plus side, it's Sunday, so I've enjoyed looking at the new Postsecrets. I thought it was a challenging selection this week - no truly definable journey or theme running through, but a strong balance that touched on lots of things. I also made my second fabric box last night, and I'm greatly pleased with it. I'd been pleased with the first one, don't get me wrong - but I knew there were problems with it. It was a bit saggy on the sides, and a bit thin. And the way of putting it together had made it impossible to match the inside and outside evenly, so the sewing had been messy in many places.

Here's the second box:

 I know, my photography skills are pretty poor, so it's rather fuzzy. But it's happier than the first one, no? I think the colours went together better, and I prefer them. I got very excited and added some decorative stitches. I had the top thread as white, and the bobbin as dark blue so there was the contrast where I stitched straight through both layers.

Can you see here how it stands up better?I considered using interfacing to achieve this, but I really needed quite a rigid, medium-weight interfacing and we barely had any at all, never mind of the right weight. So instead, I used a double layer of wadding in the middle, which helped a lot. If I did it again I would still use interfacing if possible, but this worked well to solve the problem and soothe my impatience. I also did everything in a different order. In the instructions they ironed the wadding onto one of the colours before it was sewn up at all, then sewed both colours' fronts and sides together and then sewed them to each other. Trying to sew with wadding makes seeing what you're doing really difficult, though, and this meant that on the green one the two colours ended up different sizes. So this time, I sewed the two colours' fronts and sides together, then pinned them and the wadding together to sew the top, making sure that seams matched and that the wadding was sized more precisely to each face of the box. And I used a more rigid card in the base, and used a layer of wadding on either side of it this time, instead of just on one side.

Overall I'm very happy with it. There are still mistakes, and bits that aren't great - but, considering I've never sewn anything where I've had to go round a 3D corner, it's not too shabby!

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the rest of my day. I could sew something, or I could knit. At least I could knit if I could remember what I did with my yarn. I have no clue where I've put it all. I guess supper needs thinking about, too... And I have letters to write. I sent day 3's letter of LetterMo to nanny college, and day 4's to E. Day 5's is to the wife, and I'm planning to send Day 6 to my sister.

Love love xx

Friday, 3 February 2012

Childminding, roads, safety, temper tantrum, month of letters, London and Les Mis, Fill in the Blank, soft box, ballet

So! Through another week of childminding! It's certainly been interesting, and a little stressful if I'm honest. Tuesday and Wednesday were fine, although BB's been more challenging recently. This is mainly because she's so tired - she's getting up in the nights for her parents, and really early in the mornings too; and she's basically standing at her gate yelling at them. They keep trying to leave her to yell until she gets bored and goes back to her bed - but she's stubborn! She's always been much more of a firecracker than B, who was born with a laid-back personality! But we've had a couple of naughty steps recently, which is unusual, because normally I don't have to ask her to do anything more than twice - twice is when she wants to do something else first. But now she's being a bit pushy, and trying desperately to manipulate me with whining and telling me that she 'wants mummy' or 'feeling poorly', and the bottom lip comes out and she looks up at me to make sure I'm watching. Which I'm not, I'm afraid, because with BB the best thing to do is ignore her until she's either done what was asked or calmed down so you can tell her again.

But basically, come yesterday she must have been quite tired - and recovering from a cold, too. So she was dosed up at lunchtime with calpol, and we made the afternoon school run to pick up B. We were most of the way home, and stood at the edge of the pavement waiting to cross the road. B took a slight step back away from the edge of the pavement, and BB decided that that was the moment to run into the road. Right in front of that oncoming car. I swear, my heart stopped for a moment. Thankfully the driver was paying attention (and I cannot stress how much this demonstrates the value of the rules against using a phone in the car or other distractions!!) and he stopped. I had leapt into the road as she ran in, screaming her name. I'm not sure why - I think my first reaction was just to try and grab her out of the way of the vehicle, maybe. But I did grab her and brought her back to the pavement.

We got home safely, and nobody was injured, thank goodness. But I tell you, I have never been so scared before. I've suffered a road accident myself, and suffered the terror of operations from the dentist (which are far scarier than anyone can truly understand). But seeing BB run into the path of an oncoming car beat all. It would be devastating enough if she were my child - but she's not. I didn't want to have to imagine telling her mum that I'd let her child get killed whilst in my care! So from next week we're reinstalling the wrist-strap for a fortnight or so. Because none of us can afford to risk her getting killed. It would be too much. And you don't take chances on a child's safety. For the past 3 months, I have enjoyed having a toddler who knew about roads, and would stop at the end of the pavement if she ran ahead, and would wait for me to tell her it was safe to cross the road. And now we're going to have to rein her in. It's a little bit gutting.

So there was that major incident which rather tore me up. And then, when the girls' mum got home, BB - being tired and grizzly from everything - decided to start crying loudly, which her mum ignored (good policy on attention-seeking behaviour usually!), and it soon escalated into a full temper tantrum violence accompanied by hysterical screaming. I have never seen that from BB before. I've seen her cry, both for real and for attention. I've seen her sulk. I've seen her hit her sister occasionally when she's angry or frustrated, and I've seen her hurt people by accident when she's got carried away in a game. But I've never seen a temper tantrum like that! She calmed down eventually, and her mum then dealt with it and spoke to her. But Thursday was not the best of days overall.

But it is a Friday today! I'm going out with some friends later today, which should be nice - it's been a while since I've had the opportunity to enjoy company above the age of 5! I've also begun my Month of Letters positively, with a letter going out to I, my friend from Malvern, on 1st; and a letter going out to a theatre on 2nd. I feel this was a bit sneaky, as I had to send the tickets back so they would send me the ones for the new date I'm going - but I did include a note to say thankyou to the Customer Services team for being so brilliant!

They truly were. What had happened was that the wife and I were due to go to London and see Les Mis on 4th August this summer. Being as dumb as I was, I was the one who had booked it, and I'd forgotten that the Olympics were on. So trying to sort out accommodation was next to impossible and way out of our price range. So I rang up the Customer Services for the Delfont Mackintosh Theatre group, and a brilliant young woman helped sort me out so that we could go 2 weeks later, which would have us going down to London in the time between the Olympics and Paralympics instead. She really was lovely and helpful, and she even waived the fee for changing the tickets and talked me into a cheaper postage option. She just went above and beyond, and made me feel so secure about rearranging the tickets. So now we're going to see it on 18th, instead, and we have our accommodation booked and paid for! And going a fortnight later more than halved the price of it! So now all we have to sort out is the train journey down, and that would be better to be done nearer the time.

Last thing of note - it's a Friday! Which means I will finally be able to Fill in the Blank on an actual Friday! So here goes: