Tag Archives: blogging

Questions and Answers…and then some more questions.

The ever lovely Kate on Thin Ice has tagged me in this Questions and Answers meme. The idea is you answer the questions and then make a set of your own questions to ask another set of bloggers.

I like the idea of this a lot and appreciate the tag – as I’ve said before I love answering questions, despite my struggles with committing to a definitive answer – it justifies all that childhood imaginary interview make-believe.

1. If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about mums’ lives today, what would it be and why?

I keep coming back to this one. Many things spring to mind. When I was working full-time – affordable, decent childcare and genuinely flexible working practices would have made an enormous difference to our lives. I feel that wishing for this is starting at the wrong end as it were.

As a feminist I’d say equality for all would lead naturally to these changes. Reflecting on the standardised equality message of feminism I can’t help feel we’ve gone astray. I don’t want a mealy-mouthed homogenous version of equality that requires us all to conform to a prescriptive identity. I want our differences to be respected and valued. I want to be valued as an individual. I want us all, regardless of our chromosomes to be valued and equally able to access education, good healthcare and opportunities. I want more talking and less war. In short – I’d like a star trek future.   

I think what would change most mums’ lives is the kind of world they want for their children to live in. As usual I think the practical key to these kind of changes is education of oustanding quality available to all. Which makes the current governments approach to education and initiatives like the surestart programme so truly heart breaking.

*steps down from soapbox, shuffles feet, coughs apologetically*

2. How many hours or minutes of housework do you do per day?

Ha! This is like one of those trick questions like – how often do you change your sheets? – where you are allowed to admit it probably isn’t weekly but saying, ‘when someones sick on them’ will cross the invisible line. I often find in groups that it’s hard not to try to stick to the middle of the pack. Surely it’s a pack biological-urge throwback? To conform is to belong to a community. Whatever the uniform is, it has to fit.

Some days I do not do a spot more than is needed to feed us and get us through the day. My most vigorous days of housework come just before an event – where OTHER people will enter the house.

I’m aware that my standard of cleanliness and tidiness don’t match other people’s. I also know that regular tasks like making sure the washing up is  kept on top of make life more pleasant. That when the house is tidy, hoovered and at its lowest clutter point I feel more serene and ready to do stuff.

I have systems that work well – places where library books are kept to avoid hysterical last-minute searching. Pots of pens by Z’s homework folders. An art cupboard so stuff can be found quickly. Tubs for clean clothes/dirty clothes.

But it really doesn’t bother me if I haven’t hoovered for a week and fluff is building up in the corners. If the washing up needs doing after tea but I’d rather sit and play a game before bedtime then finish the book I can’t put down . The washing up can wait for the morning – although it’s nicer to come down and do sandwiches and breakfast in an uncluttered kitchen it’s hardly the end of the world if the dishes are still on the side. On wednesdays I sit and chat to my parents for the hour they have before they leave instead of clearing the table. I do not own an iron.

I remember going to an antenatal class when I was pregnant with Zeph and the midwife lecturing everyone on the importance of letting things go a little when the baby came. About making time to nap by not hoovering everyday and thinking – hoovering EVERY day?

Counter intuitively – when I’m feeling really low I tend to clean more. It comes from a fear of slipping into the very deep depression I was in before when I had no idea how bad the state of my house was. I have a web of safeguards that I put into place that include housework. Of course that was before having kids, now a certain level of efficiency has to be reached to ensure hot meals, clean uniforms, lunch boxes etc.

Also I freely admit there’s something dangerously addictive to the cycle of dreadful mess then pleasing harmony. At least it really shows when I finally clean…

3. If you could change careers, what would you change to?

I don’t have a career. I spend quite a lot of time thinking about stuff and trying to mend my fractured self and change the world. I work in jobs, that have not much to do with who I am, to pay for my living. I sell things I make.  I usually really enjoy whatever work I do although it is rarely paid well.

I am not the work I do.

4. What is your favourite cocktail?

I miss drinking. I think my favourite cocktail is icy cold and in a BEAUTIFUL glass – maybe a really thick heavy glass tumbler with lots of ice and fruit and a swirled glass swizzle stick. I’m drinking it outside under a summers starlit night with good friends and there’s a happy cheerful buzz of conversation all around us. It’s good to be cool after a long hot day and maybe my skin is stiff with seasalt and sand.  It could be a mojito – or a gin and tonic – or, last summer, I had a lovely bramble vodka drink at a pop up bar in multistorey car park.

I think the essence of a good cocktail is that you didn’t make it yourself. I can’t trusted with bottles of spirit actually in the house anyway.

5. What is your claim to fame?

Infamy more like. I was a child A.

6. What is the quirkiest object in your home?

Me!

7. Charity Shop Or Designer Boutique?

I suppose it depends. I am a charity shop queen and recycling, thrift and preloved run through me like letters in rock but I love the exciting uniqueness of good design. Craftsmanship and beautiful functionality make my heart sing. 

8. How many hours of the day are you away from your own house?

Depends. I do have an unfortunate tendency to reclusiveness. If it gets to the point where I can’t get across the step then that impacts badly on the kids so I usually try to force myself out at least once a day. School helps with that – and most days Ida go and do something in the mornings after we’ve dropped Z off. We’re pretty good at hanging out at free places, easier in the summer but still perfectly achievable in the cold.

9. What is your guilty pleasure?

Not leaving the house… PJ’s all day and a pile of books – chocolate digestives and bananas to eat. Oranges in bed.  Long train journeys completely alone. Books about wizard detectives and werewolves. Procrastination. Embellishing my own hide.

10. Retro or Modern?

Bread or water?

11. What is the one challenge you are most proud of overcoming?

Crossing the step every day. Believing the best of people.

Phew! If you’ve made it to this point well done!

Here are the rules.

The Rules:

You must post these rules.
Each person must post 11 things about herself on their blog.
Answer the questions the “tagger” listed for you in her post, and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
Choose 11 people to tag and link to them in the post.
Let each blogger know that you have tagged them.

I think question are much harder than answers… Also I am rubbish – RUBBISH at tagging so I’m going with some questions and if you feel the urge to answer them please consider yourself tagged – you are indutibly IT.

1) What was your last random act of kindness?

2) What do you always put off until tomorrow?

3) If you were buying yourself a bunch of flowers what kind would they be?

4) Imagine Mr Cameron popped round and said you could allocate the excess 10 billion the goverment have just stumbled across – where would you spend it?

5) Cinema or theatre?

6) If you could go back and change one thing, would you? What is it?

7) If you’re opening a tin for comfort food what would you choose?

8) Baking heatwave or snow?

9) What was the last book you read or film you saw that left a lasting impression?

10) Coffee or Tea?….or gin?

 

 
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Spreading the word for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Ninety words.

One of my favourite blog reads is over at Kate on Thin Ice. I think her Groovy Mums is …well… groovy and I appreciate her proactive approach to charities and what blogging can do to spread important messages. Which is why I have meant for ages to join in with this blog hop.

Queen of the procrastinaters I am, I am. Since I managed to carve a bit of me-time out on this Valentines day to scrub some mould off the bathroom ceiling, (steady.) I really think I should pull my finger out.

Basically she’s looking for 90 bloggers to write 90 words about an important woman in their life and include the following information about the Breakthrough Breast Cancer campaign.

“Pink Ribbon Bingo have pledged to support Breakthrough Breast Cancer all year round with 15% of the gross revenue accrued through online play on the site being donated to the charity. Visitors also have the opportunity to donate a percentage of their winnings directly to the charity. Along with the fundraising element, Pink Ribbon Bingo and The Daily Mail online will be helping the charity to raise awareness by promoting their vital health messages such as TLC (Touch, Look, Check).

“Celebrity supporter videos on the Pink Ribbon Bingo website including Jessie J, Melanie C, Tom Ellis, Macy Gray, Sharon Corr and Kelly Hoopen – http://www.pinkribbonbingo.com/ .

If you click on these YouTube links, you can hear Kate Thornton and Tamzin Outwaite’s support.

Kate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brz793lgb_g&feature=youtu.be

Tamzin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCh671wnj2o“

I’m lucky to have lots of inspiring, supporting women in my life. Since I read Kate’s blog I’ve turned over in my mind who I’d like to write about.

And I’ve settled on my very beautiful three-year old daughter, Ida.

She changes so much just by her existence. From the minute she took her first resolute breath, flailing her arms firmly in the air – fixing me in her passionate gaze she began her work.

With her in my arms and my hopes, dreams and fears for her in my mind I look at my mother with new understanding. The bridge begun with Zeph’s birth is now complete between us. Unassailable.

I look back down the years to little Laura and I forgive her and start to learn to love and help her. She deserves exactly what my daughter does. Safety, understanding, love and freedom.

Sadly most people’s lives are touched by cancer. Lets keep campaiging for research for a cure and better treatments and spread the word about what we can do to look after ourselves.

I’ll be teaching my daughter for sure.

Never too late for love

Liebster Award - 2012

Lovely Poppy at A Life Less Simple, (a blog name so apt it makes me smile every time I click on it) very kindly gifted me one of these awards just after Christmas. It made my day when I saw – I have had one before and I’m hoping it’s not against any rules to gather it up to myself again joyfully. As she says – it’s heartwarming to know people read the ramblings and my heart leaps at every comment.

The Liebster is a great way of connecting, sharing new or smaller blogs and spreading the love.

 There can never be too much love.

The rules are simple – tag the blog who passed you the award and pass it on to five others. Small blogs, under 200 subscribers. Although this bit is sometimes tricky to guage, if I picked you and you’re too big – sorry! but who can resist a little love?

Oh and put up the badge… and message the recipients.

So, first of all – A Life Less Simple is written by Poppy who lives on her small holding in of the most beautiful parts of britain, quite near to me – the Forest of Dean. I really enjoy her blog and photographs and  always find something interesting, stimulating or lovely there. She’s also been very kind and encouraging from my first shaky blog steps.

So here are my  go-and-reads off the top of my head. (I’m practising being decisive…)

BelfastDad

Love this new find. Great to read a dads view and refreshing to find such an eclectic mix of posts. The first post I ever read was this one and I genuinely laughed out loud, as much as I love my hometown, it said Gloucester to me…

Crafty Cats Corner

Another of my new finds (only new to me – I suspect it’s possibly too big… sorry Briony!)  Cats, loads of brilliant making, lots of crafty stuff new to me – what’s not to love? Briony’s colour choices and gorgeous intricate embellished patchwork pieces make me thrum with pleasure.

Growing Things and Making Things

Rachel resides on a rural  small holding and her posts are an invigorating mix of updates on the work going in to it and transforming their house and other stuff. (I AM a stuff connoisseur you know…) So much there to be inspired by and interested in. I love her resourcefulness, interest in the world around her, analytical approach and great sense of humour. Always a bright spot in my bloghopping.

Doodlemum

I know I’ve already passed this award along here before but it’s just such a fantastic site. A sketch a day and I love how it illustrates (look what I did there…)  how so much can be skilfully shown succinctly. Go and look. I love her.

Better late then never and once again – big thanks to Poppy.

Have yourself a very merry Christmas…

  

Possibly one of my favourite things ever.

Our Christmas tree. Every year I see-saw over the price and the general non-greenness. Worries which I assuage by making a more environmental friendly, locally gown choice which ups the price but I usually capitulate to my inner child.

It’s probably our biggest christmas expenditure and it makes me so overwhelmingly happy. On a very skint year I can substitute a big bundle of branches or the bay tree in a pot from the garden but really, look – isn’t it toe-curlingly beautiful?

The smell is heavenly though I openly yearn for the Victorian candle clips I remember from my Nannie’s tree as a very small child which add a heady mix of toasted pine resin, bees-wax and candle smoke.

So far I haven’t convinced Steve who, although far from a health and safety enthusiast, says he has to draw the line somewhere. We have a happy mix of eclectic decorations though. Many homemade, a couple by me as a child. Some were gifts from my parent’s collection when I left home and we try to buy or make a new one every year.

This one is my very favourite;

 Bought on Zeph’s first birthday it’s the one I always look for first in the mass of tissue paper all our precious baubless are wrapped in. We managed to dress the tree on Steve’s day off this year so we all got to squabble over the lopsided robin, christmas robot and the sparkly pig and tell the story of each purchase and battered handcrafted effort.

We started with the Nightmare Before Christmas on in the background which Zeph watched obsessively as a toddler but swapped to The Snowman when Ida took against Sally in a big way.

This is Ida and I at the front of the bus on the way to see Jack and the Beanstalk. Steve’s lovely sister gave us a family ticket for christmas which was a brilliant present. Apart from Ida now having a giant phobia which causes trouble at night when she wakes up confused from a nightmare and mistakes Steve for the giant, (it’s the beard.) 

I’m feeling remarkably festive. Yesterday was my dad’s sixtieth birthday and we had a tea party. It was a perfect get together and I feel loved and loving as I always do after time with my family.

Tomorrow we have more visitors and I’m baking a ham which means the house smells of treacle and cloves and I feel bountiful on the food front. It’s raining heavily outside but I don’t think we need to leave the house now for the next couple of days and I have a deliciously cosy feeling of having pulled up the drawbridge fully provisioned and surrounded by my best-loved people.

With everything made, finished and wrapped I’m turning my mind to the end of the year and the start of the new. Although I haven’t kept up my post-a-day momentum from the beginning of my blog it is still a big and vital part of my life.

I have *met* the most fantastic people through it and had wonderful comments which have healed me and sustained me in a way I’m sure the givers have no idea of. I logged on today to post this and found a lovely blog award from Sharyn at The Kale Chronicles which I can’t wait to post about.

More than that it’s opened a space up in my head and helped me carve out time for my writing habit. I’ve been inspired by so many people to grow, cook, sketch, do things with my children – to notice the world around me – and I feel immensely blessed and full of hope and cheer.

So I just wanted to wish you all the Christmas you want, be it sparkly, festive, peaceful, spiritual or reflective. The sun is returning, the babe is reborn – let’s be full of love and hold back the dark and the cold together.

Merry Christmas!

I’m feeling the love

Do you know the most lovely Penny at Alexanders Residence has nominated me for this really great blog award thingy. I am overwhelmingly (probably slightly disproportionately) pleased.

Lieb means love and this one is all about the love. It’s especially for the smaller, newer blogs with less than three hundred followers. (Haha! that’s definitely me! I haven’t worked out how to do that Google thing..) (going to do that…really soon.) Anyway you need to pay the love forward by tagging five other smaller/newer blogs you love reading.

Ooooooh. I’m not good at top fives…it’s very hard to make choices…. Let me say this is just my favourite five right now this second.

First off – Inexpert Crafter, except I don’t think she’s that inexpert really.. I love all the craft stuff and updates on her garden but I also really love her openness and honesty. She’s up against some hard stuff at the moment but I still come away smiling and uplifted – amazing really.

Now; – Suzy at Useless Beauty Designs. God I love this blog – I lol, I do – I really do. Am I allowed to lol? am I too old? Always thought-provoking with so much I recognise like the difficulty of talking to the fish man…supermarket showdowns…sewing over pins…the uneasy sureness when surveying a patchwork “kit” ie a collection of toning patches, batting, some cotton reels for an extortionate price in a local craft shop that the point has slightly been lost and feeling that Suzy would know where I was coming from. Anyway I always check this one out (and would follow, if only I could understand the google thing…the day is coming I’m sure)

Hattie at Lizardmother. Is it cheating because Hatz is a good friend I used to work with? No it is not. She’s newer than me to blogging (that’s v new..) and I love her beautiful things details, the adventures with her mice and gecko’s and, again, her open black dog wrestling. 

Next; Growing Things from Seed. I am always knocked out by the level of creativity here and the lovely photos. I come away inspired and cheered and feeling like I want to get the paint out. If you could see the state of my bedaubed walls you’d know what a triumph that is.

and lastly – check out Doodlemum. Angie posts a sketch a day and they are always a pleasure. I love her style, the fluidity of her line and her knack of capturing the essence of family life so succinctly. Try it, she’s addictive.

Phew – I’m  a wreck! All that decisiveness. Also I was seized with a fear that I should ask permission – hope no one minds – it’s all done with oodles of lieblingness. Finally big thanks to Penny – really made my day.

Can you hear us Mr Mubarak?

I’ve just come away from the school playground feeling a real sense of optimism about the current situation in Egypt.

It’s so painful to watch from a distance and yet there is a real sense of hope and action. The things that have really struck me is the amount of women and the mix of people I’ve seen in the media coverage of the demonstrations. Today I was moved to tears by the scenes of christian and muslim people praying together for the people who have lost their lives over the last few days.

I’ve been very aware of the feelings of the parents of one of Z’s best friends, Ahmed. His father has two brothers and a father protesting every day on the streets of Cairo while his mother struggles to get across town for her vital dialysis appointments. He cannot Skype them and the phones are intermittent. They sit glued to the news and radio channels for updates.

They are so proud. So afraid for their loved ones but so proud and so sure that there will be change now. Surely there will?

Don’t you think that this is how democracy has to happen? That it has to start at the bottom and work up. That when you bomb the fuck out of a culture and then wade in imposing infrastructure and voting systems they will not flourish. Just as that new liver will always need it’s anti-rejection drugs those streets will need soldiers, sorry, peacekeepers on the corners.

Western democracy, forged through its own violence; Oliver’s army, the war of independence, Chartism, suffrage, is a product and reflection of our culture. Democracy in the middle east must be a reflection of theirs. Surely? Sustainable change happens slowly and organically and must be allowed to grow.

As I’ve written that I’ve wondered if I have the right to comment. People more experienced and educated in the subject are daily broadcasting serious insightful, important opinions.

Why do women think this? because obviously people- in-power ‘s thinking is not more relevent or rational than mine. I would have realised it was time to go by now Mr Mubarak.

I’ve met Osamas’ brother. I liked him a lot. We all sat on a rug at a festival in the sun listening to an amazing Tunisian band sipping coffee and chatting, about the kids, about the book I was reading, about how he was working, putting himself through medical school in Cairo, about how beautiful Egypt was.

 I’m watching the news, feeling hopeful and having opinions. Ordinary people build democracies. I really hope the foundations are being laid.

Rain

It’s a very grey day today. I think the rain is gloomier than the snow. Although obviously snow is more hazardous and more of an inconvenience, it’s all high drama. Whereas the rain is dreary, relentless, low-level inconvenient gloom,  – gloooooooom.

Bit like depression, all the manic dreadful highs and lows get a lot of (if you’re lucky) attention from medical professionals, friends and family and your carefully crafted support net gathers up to respond to the crisis.

I find my hardest bits are the grinding slogs through struggles at the front door every morning, reluctant to put your feet and the precious feet of your children out into the world. The moments you find yourself looking blankly at the bread in the supermarket choking back inexplicable tears. When the happy flashes seem far and few between. When you’re still together enough to put a good face on for everyone else but the mean inner voice is beating you down with its constant negative commentary.

Not that I’m particularly in that place at the moment but it’s a familiar resting spot. I suppose in the manic highs and lows you are particularly un self-aware so they’re not as strong memories where as the black dog days are very vivid.

Just paused for a brief look out of the window –  I was reading a great blog earlier where the writer was talking about Beauty as a value * and the importance of it all around us and I thought about how precious it is to see the beauty in everything, the tatty and the tawdry, the mundane everyday – my muddy, slimy leaved wet garden.

* I will  up my tech abilities to put links in my writing as I see others can do. Honestly I will – small steps people, small steps to a blogging life of joy! but for now it was in Imperfect Pages which is in my blogroll and is one I really enjoy.

So having looked – there is clear beauty – I like how the rain makes everything shiny and all the colours deeper. I do even like getting wet in rain when you know you’re on the way home to somewhere warm. And I am blessed with a house with a relatively intact roof (I’m sure it’s only the flashing leaking) and heating. And it’s a perfect day for a roast dinner which I’m cooking for our regular dinner with my Mum and Dad. Have slightly over veged – I had a great recipe for red cabbage and had one to use up.

You fry an onion and fennel seeds, add chopped apple (a bit of bacon if you feel like it) chopped red cabbage then a splash of vinegar, water or apple juice, salt & pepper and pinches of cinnamon, ground cloves,  a grate of nutmeg (this is all to your taste) then cover it and leave on a low heat to braise for a couple of hours. It’s a great one to put on the back of the cooker while doing something else. I added a handful of currents and walnuts – mainly because they I had some in the cupboard.

I’ve also got broccoli, sprouts, roasted onions, roasted pumpkin, steamed carrots and peas. As well as the roast potatoes, parsnips and sweet potatoes. On reflection it seems like a lot of veg. And due to Z’s pleading on the way to school and his spirited arguments as to why they should be included  I’m doing yorkshire puddings. This would all seem reasonable if it was one of our meat free roast dinners but it isn’t!  Ah well – does mean I won’t have to cook for the rest of the week as we’ll be rich in leftovers and all veg preferences are catered for so the kids should eat near their 5 portions today (make up for yesterdays sugar fest..)

Ida is sleeping, the rain is raining, all cooking prep done for later and I have an hour before going out in the rain to get Z so am going to do  a bit of sewing. Seizing and noting the happiness.

 – Oh and I got my first comment ( whoop) – thank you, A life less simple. Must find out about links..