Friday, 25 February 2011

Thankful

I was listening to this song while baking yesterday and somehow the lyrics seemed very appropriate for the reflective mood I've been in this week.


It's the first breath of springtime
And a warm wind picks up the fallen blossom
And sails in circles down the street.
A lady cycles past with her hair in braids
As they're pulling down the awning to the train station cafe

I'm alive and I'm thankful
For this time

Six o' clock, summer afternoon
Next door's kids are playing in the yard
I'm doing the dishes at the window and the radio's playing 'Superstar'
And the sun falls down on the garden next door
But two young boys are fighting, till a woman appears at the door

And the fires and the fog and the falling leaves
Under October skies
You walked me home in the cold after closing time
As the leaves rushed by

How I want to be loved
How I need to be loved
Now that I've found you, I'd do anything for you

In the Forest of Angels that's where we laid you down
And I can hear whispers
When the first frost falls on the ground

You're alive, just be thankful
For this time
.
Written By : Joyce / Brown 

On this day, as I turn 29, I am thankful for -
Being born to such wonderful, caring, loving parents
Finding such a lovely, kind, beautiful man to marry and share my life with
Having a supportive and caring family
Sharing lovely times with very special friends and their adorable children
Being excited about opening cards and presents from family and friends, including a suprise parcel from the USA 
Warm morning snuggles with Fluffy Cat 
Being able to wish the two people I know who I share my birthday with, many happy returns
Seeing the first bloom on our pink Camellia this morning and remembering the dear person who gave it to my parents
Hearing the ducks quacking and splashing around in the pond in the park on my walk into work
Looking bravely ahead to the joys of the coming year

In addition, I want to thank you for all your kind, lovely and amusing words to my posts, especially to yesterday's one. Your advice was invaluable and I will carry your wisdom with me throughout the year.

I am so annoyed that I can't find a way on Blogger to easily respond to each comment  (one thing which Typepad did well), but I will make time in the coming week to drop you a quick email.

Have a very happy Friday.

And if you're tempted by cake today, have one for me - my birthday can be your excuse! x

Thursday, 24 February 2011

30 Years Minus 366 Days

Tomorrow is my birthday and I will be 29.

When I think about what I wrote in my old blog on this day last year, I see just how mixed up I was. I wanted for my life to change and for me to be happier but I didn’t really know how to go about getting there. I had no idea that my experience of life was going to get much worse before it got better.

However since 2011 began, I have started to see the rainbow at the end of the storm.

So as I turn 29, I have a few ideas about value, personality and lifestyle changes that I can make to try to achieve happiness in my heart and in my head by my 30th birthday.

Listening…
to others
to new things
to the sound of my own and my loved ones laughter
to the sound of peace and quiet

Embracing…
others
change
nature
the morning - getting up earlier to enjoy more minutes in every day

Accepting…
differences
my own faults and failings
that a happy messy home is better than an unhappy tidy house

Growing…
in wisdom: understanding myself and gaining knowledge
my hair: so I can wear it loosly and curly and not have to blow dry and straighten it all the time
a beautiful garden, somewhere tranquil in all seasons

Trying…
new things and being brave when I’m doing them
not to give up when things go wrong
to have patience and embrace the moment
to get ahead in my BIG plan
to make our flat the home we want it to be

Remembering…
to enjoy more fruits and vegetables
that I don’t want to be materialistic and making sure that I stick to these values when I’m tempted by greed
to steal a bit of time each day to look after myself

Loving…
the simple things in life: the sun, birdsong, the first raspberries in summer and the first apples of autumn, the crunch of snow underfoot in winter and the warmth of sand on bare toes in the summer
myself and making the most of my skills and attributes
others, and knowing that I am unconditionally loved back

If you have one piece of advice or can suggest something you think I must do in this year, I would love you to share it.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

End of February Tuesday - Mist And Murk

Time for some Tuesday thoughts.

Sunshine In My Heart
Despite it being vile outside, I’m feeling very chirpy today. Mr P left for work unusually early this morning and I took the opportunity to play (very loudly) the music from Amélie and lots of Joni Mitchell whilst getting ready. Those songs are always the soundtrack to my summers, so perhaps that is what has made me feel lighter and brighter today.

Special Cuddles
On Sunday we went to visit Little E and her family. She is such a gorgeous bundle, the mirror image of her big brother, Little B as a newborn. We had lots of cuddles with her, played with a very grown up 21 month old and chatted with her mum and dad. A lovely Sunday!

Poorly Moggie
We had a very poorly Fluffy Cat last week. She wasn’t eating and was as floppy as a rag doll. She’d really lost her sparkle and this demanded a visit to the vet. £300 later it turns out that she’d probably eaten something that had disagreed with her. After lots of quiet, sleepy days, special food and medicine, she’s thankfully made a full recovery and is making up for her lack of energy last week by being full of life this week.

Homemade Plates
After enjoying my first session so much, I’ve signed up for another Social at Homemade London in March. This time we’re decorating china with porcelain pens. I’ve tried ceramic painting (it was very messy) but I’m intrigued by the pens and already trying to think what I can do. I’d like it to be something that I can keep and treasure forever.

Weekend Of Celebrations
Are we really nearing the end of February already? This month has flown by. Not only do I have my birthday to look forward to on Friday, but it’s Ferryside Favourite's little boy’s Naming Ceremony and 1st Birthday Party on Saturday. I am so looking forward to being his supporter and have part of a lovely poem to read. It will be a very special day. It’s just a shame that Little D will be too tiny to remember it. Let’s hope we can all create lots of memories with photos to show him in the future.

Wow – what a lot of things to be smiling about. Now that I’ve listed them I can definitely see why I have a reason to be joyful.

What has made you smile most this February?

Sunday, 20 February 2011

My Imaginary Best Friend

When I worked in a bookshop we used to play a little game. It went something like this...

"If you had to pick one of these to be your mum, who would you pick: Delia Smith or Barbara Windsor?"

Followed by...

"If you had to pick someone to be your dad, would it be Tony Blair or John Major?"

It was a silly game prompted by boredom but it used to have us in stitches as one girl was very good at coming up with the most ridiculous selections.

For some reason I thought of this game the other day when I was talking about TV guilty pleasures with colleagues. While the other girls named the usual suspects like SATC and soaps, I came up with anything with Kirstie Allsopp in. If I were to pick an imaginary best friend at age 28, she would definitely be at the top of my list.


I don't know why I'm drawn to her, but I love anything with her in. I could easily spend an evening watching reruns of Location Location Location and just couldn't wait to buy her Homemade Home book.

I think she would be a fabulous friend - kind, funny, loyal and not afraid to tell you when she thought you'd stepped out of place. We'd rummage through car boot sales together and afterwards enjoy tea and cakes in a little cafe. She'd help you out if you needed her and always offer you the cast offs from her (lovely) wardrobe. Not to mention all the design and house tips she could offer.

One can but dream, and in the meantime enjoy all my wonderful real friends.

But if you had to choose, who would be your perfect imaginary best friend?

Another Pink Arrival

We heard first thing this morning that the second new baby arrived last night.

It's another girl! 

Mother and daughter are both doing well. 

It's their third child and third daughter. Lucky lucky them. What a blessing!

She's without a name at the moment but her sisters both have very pretty names and I'm sure it won't be too long until we discover what they've called her.

The world is definitely full of pink at the moment!

Little Update 
We have just heard from her very proud grandparents that the new little girl is called Naomi. Another lovely name. So now there are Jocelyn, Phoebe and Naomi!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

For A Rainy Saturday

Something to make you smile.

I found this while I was sitting in bed with Fluffy Cat and enjoying a mug of tea and a biscuit earlier this morning.

Don't you just love Paddington?

It's the perfect remedy for a rainy Saturday.

Now where did I put the marmalade?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

A New Arrival

Because I am SO excited, I thought you might like to know that one of the babies had a safe landing yesterday!

Mother and daughter are both doing well.

I'm hoping to have a cuddle with her soon.


One down and one to go!

Little update
And one more nice thing to celebrate today; I had an email this afternoon to say that I'm a little bit closer to Step 1 of the BIG plan. It's going to be a while before this develops but means that I can live in hope and do lots of swotting for the next couple of weeks. 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Mid-Feb Tuesday - grey and showery

It's Tuesday, so time for some Tuesday thoughts.

Still Not Back In The Picture
Sorry for not posting a picture yesterday of the Valentine’s Card I made at Homemade London. I’m still without a camera and getting really frustrated with it now. What I can achieve on my mobile phone camera is lousy in comparison. Last night I even dreamt I found my camera in a cupboard – I must be getting desperate. We’re hoping to hear back from our insurance company soon, so hopefully it won’t be too long until I’m snap happy again.

It’s A Girl!
We’re still waiting to hear about the arrival of the babies. One was due yesterday and the other is due on Thursday. However, we had some interesting news on Sunday from my sister in law. She found out on a visit to the vet that her 10 year old cat (which had previously belonged to my father in law and she had given it a home when he passed away) is actually a girl. We always thought that the cat was just a very soft Tom but alas she’s a very tough girl. Scud seems like a very silly name for her now, yet the feminine options aren't much better: Scudwina and Scuderella!

Sunny Spain
I have just booked a trip to Madrid in July. Mr P and I will be attending the wedding celebrations of my Spanish friend and her husband. They are getting married earlier that week in London and flying to Madrid to celebrate with her family and friends at the weekend. We’re very excited about the trip, neither of us have been to Spain before. Have you got any tips on what to visit? We’ll be trying to stick to a budget while we're there so would be grateful of any cheap but chic suggestions.

Pink Splodges
At the weekend we started to plan the redecoration of our bedroom. This meant a trip to B&Q to buy lots of sample paint pots. On Sunday we splodged and sponged and tried to see what we like. We’re going to live with it on the walls for a couple of weeks to see what looks better in different lights. Our room is so incredibly dark. I have already picked our curtain fabric. It’s from John Lewis and is a modern take on a traditional floral pattern. I think it should work really well. This week sees the start of our big house clear out – scary! We're already a week behind in our decorating but decided it was better to declutter now rather than wait until afterwards. Soon our car will hopefully be full of boxes and bin bags on their way to the charity shop...and our house will be clutter free and tidy.

Waiting
Today I am waiting to hear if I'm a little bit closer to step one of my BIG plan being realised. I don't want to say what it is incase it doesn't happen but I'm nervously waiting, looking at my mobile and willing it to ring. I'm prepared if it doesn't work out but also very much hoping it will come together. I hope I hear soon - it is very difficult to type with crossed fingers!

What plans are you making this Tuesday?

Friday, 11 February 2011

Homemade Hearts

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the first Social session at Homemade London.


It is a really lovely, warm and friendly environment that any eager crafter will immediately feel at home in.

The workshop area is beautiful. It is decorated in bespoke wallpaper featuring old fashioned sewing machines and vintage hat boxes. The room is light and airy and the walls have samples of work that has been created at previous workshops. It is the kind of room that all us busy crafty folk dream of having at home.

Nicola (who started Homemade) and Tanya  (otherwise known as The Perfume Mistress) led the session and they made everyone feel relaxed and at ease. In no time at all it felt like I was sat round the table with old friends, each of us doing our own thing but having a real giggle and sharing ideas.

The theme for the evening was Valentine's Day card making. There were some demonstration cards for us to see. Each one was very beautifully designed and professional-looking but the supervision and the handy crib sheet we were given at the start, made me think straightaway 'I can do this'.

In the two hour session (well, maybe a little more as it was gone 10pm when I finally left and I'd arrived just before 7.30pm) I made a gorgeous card, an envelope to put it in and a heart shaped teabag. The latter is a great idea that could be adapted for any occasion - bunnies at Easter and holly leaves or stars at Christmas. I left feeling that I'd accomplished a lot and had made something very special for Mr P to open in a few days time.

The other sessions that are run here look equally great - you can make your own lingerie, cushions and perfume or learn how to make curtains and use a sewing machine. However, while I'm on my thrifty mission I think I will have to be satisfied with this (unless someone would like to buy me a voucher for my upcoming birthday - hint hint), but for £15 you can learn a new craft, have something special and unique to take away, enjoy a couple of glasses of wine and some nibbles and make new friends. I think the cost is great seeing as I could easily spend that going to the cinema and £15 doesn't even cover the full cost of drinks and popcorn.

I will definitely be attending another Social meeting. I left feeling inspired and ready to try out the suggestions for other cards at home. I already know what I'll be giving my lovely mum on Mothering Sunday.

Thanks to Nicola, Tanya and the other ladies for making it such a fun and creative evening.

And of course, you'll finally get to see the card on 14th February. I hope that will be something worth you coming back for.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Tuesday Thoughts

For many people hump day-Wednesday is the worst day of their week, but for me the longest and most tormenting day of the week is Tuesday.

My high from the previous weekend has long gone and the wait until the next weekend seems as long as December is to a child.

Tuesday is definitely my least inspiring day of the week and the hardest to find something interesting to blog about.

So if I blog on a Tuesday I will be keeping it as simple as possible – just some thoughts and maybe a few pictures (once I get a new camera). I will be looking back on the previous week and looking forward to the future. It should also prevent lots of babble on the other days.

Someone once said ‘Simplicity is Beauty’ and I hope that I can spread some joy to get us through to Friday.

So to begin…

Warm Yellow
It’s a glorious day here in West London. Cold but bright and calm. Not grey and windy like it's been for what seems like weeks on end. I overheard someone in the office say 'it is a good day to be alive'; I wholly agree.

Signs Of Spring
Today I’ve seen the first fluffy pink blossoms, some bright purple crocuses have sprung up almost overnight and we have plenty of buds on the pink Camellia in our garden. A sign that longer days and daffodils will soon be here.  

Zzzz
For the first time in six weeks I have had a good night’s sleep. I’m not sure what happened last night to allow me to get off to sleep and stay asleep, but it was nice to wake up this morning and feel like I hadn’t spent the night tossing and turning. I'm sure my colleagues will also appreciate not seeing me yawn all day too.

A Bit Of Pink
Somehow I’ve managed to get to almost 29 years without having a pink bedroom. I expect you find this very surprising. But now I’ve managed to convince Mr P to introduce a bit of raspberry sponging to our neutral colour scheme to make the bedroom warmer and brighter. This weekend will be devoted to trying out samples and having a big clear out ready to start work the following weekend.

Leftover Bliss
Over Christmas I was very restrained and didn’t scoff too many sweet treats. Even when we took the decorations down we still had a big pile of chocolate, biscuits and sweets. For the last month I’ve packed Mr P off to work each day with a snack and the stash has gradually reduced but at the weekend I found a small bag of Fortnum and Mason chocolate coins and white chocolate holly leaves. I’m having one each day and they really are divine. The best coins I have ever tasted – well worth the wait.

Baby Love
Ferryside Favourite and her husband have asked me to be one of the supporters/friends at their son's Naming Cermony at the end of the month. It is such an honour to be asked. He is a lovely little boy and despite everything he's gone through this past year, he is so happy and smiley. He was the youngest pageboy at our wedding (only 6 months old!) and charmed everyone. My role will be similar to a godparent but without the religious part. I'm very excited - it's going to be a lovely day.

(Still no sign of the two February babies, but it's exciting to think they will soon be here.)

Getting All Hearty
On Thursday evening I am going here for a social session where we'll be shown how to craft a Valentine’s Day card. I can’t wait. I’ve read lots of rave reviews about the workshop/café and can’t wait to try it out. It seems to be the hippest place for crafters in London at the moment. There will definitely be a review afterwards.

What is making you smile this Tuesday?  

Sunday, 6 February 2011

A Year Without Buying Books

I'm really determined to save my pennies this year. Partly because if my plans go well they'll be fewer of them coming in each month; partly because we want to redecorate and that costs lots of money; and partly because I've finally (and it's taken 13 years of consumerism) realised that material goods don't necessarily give you happiness.

My first effort in being thrifty has been the decision to avoid buying books this year. 

In recent years I've found it so easy to hit the 'CHECKOUT' button on Amazon or take advantage of the 'Buy One Get One Half Price' offers on the high street. I've ended up with at least two shelves of books that I've been dying to read but have never got round to finishing or even picking up in the first place.

Then there's the books that I've really enjoyed reading and held onto with the intention of reading again. And of course, I've never read them a second time. 

As well as being a waste of money, the books are cluttery and making our living room shelves bow in the middle. Something needed to be done!

So I've removed my debit card details from Amazon so I have to get out my purse each time I want to buy something and feel like I'm physically paying for it. I've also rejoined the library so I can borrow for nothing - no money and no clutter! 

I'm going to read what I have on the shelves and enjoy some of my old favourites: I Capture The Castle, Lark Rise To Candleford and Mrs Millburn's Diary. 

To start my thrifty reads, I've just begun Keeping The World Away by Margaret Forster. It's been gathering dust since 2006 and so far it's proving to be really gripping. I'm just left wondering why I left it so long to read it!

I will let you know how I get on with my book-thrift mission! Have you got any book-thrift ideas?

PS: I just wanted to say a big thank you to you all. Firstly for visiting my blog and secondly, for all your lovely comments about our burglary. You've all been so warm and kind, it's really been appreciated. I will try to reply to as many as I can by email or leave comments on your own blogs. I do hope that is ok. x

Thursday, 3 February 2011

When A House Is Not A Home

In my last post I said that I would explain why we needed to make our bedroom feel like ours again.

You see, on a bleak Tuesday in January I had a phone call to say that we had been burgled. The burglar had knocked a huge cat flap in our front door and crawled into our home.

He (Sorry to be sexist but I’m assuming it was a man) didn’t cause too much mess but found his way into our bedroom and stole most of my jewellery. All my precious things that I collected over so many years: presents and keepsakes, memories from lovely holidays and of fun teenage years.

The burglar took obvious things like our mini-laptop and lots of champagne and gift vouchers that we’d received as wedding presents, but also more bizarre things: an old weather-beaten rucksack and Mr P’s cagoule.

It could have been much worse. We were relieved to find that Fluffy Cat wasn’t hurt and hadn’t tried to escape. Usually she tries to make a dash out the front door everytime it’s open, so given the fact that there was a big hole in it and she didn’t make the most of an opportunity to see what the real world looks like is a blessing.

But we still feel like someone has come into our home without an invitation and has taken a good look at all our personal things. It still leaves me cold to think about it. However it has given us the motivation to advance with our redecorating and are going to start planning the changes to our bedroom this weekend. Soon the room will feel like ours again – peaceful and tranquil and a cosy place to hide away.

In the meantime, I will probably be a little short of photographs for while. My camera was also taken in the burglary and I need to wait for the insurance to come through until I can replace it. I will beg and borrow cameras to try to keep the blog colourful but there might not be images with every post.

I'm trying to keep positive about the whole situation. So much emphasis  today is placed on the material things you have and the need to have the 'right' things to fit in. But even when the object is taken away, you still have the memories to carry in your head and in your heart forever.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

February

February is my month of waiting:

For celebrations – Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, Birthdays.
Brightness amongst the last dark, cold days of winter.

For the first warm yellow daffodils to appear from the soil as hard a stone.

For the day you can wear one less layer or leave your hat, scarf and gloves at home.

To make the first forced rhubarb crumble to be enjoyed with hot, thick, creamy custard.

For the day you wake up and it’s light outside.

For the evening you look at your watch at 5.30pm and the sun hasn’t quite set.

For our new bed to be delivered and redecorating our bedroom so it feels like ours again.*

To hear about new opportunities, crossing fingers and wishing for dreams to come true.

But most exciting of all, I am waiting for the imminent arrival of two lovely babies and hoping that they have a very safe landing.

What are you eagerly anticipating this February?

* I will explain more about this in my next post.