Thursday, 21 May 2009

When Postie Brings Nice Things.

I don't know about you, but I love it when postie brings nice things, especially when they're a complete surprise!

A little while ago April had a giveaway on her blog to celebrate her 200th bloggy post. I was lucky enough to win and some goodies arrived from April today.

In my lovely little parcel were:

This fab monogrammed cross stitch card and a little pile of pink wrapped parcels (very exciting!):

Cross stitch monogram card

Inside the parcels.......

A little pink notebook (perfect, I do love lists (although not quite as much as my Yan?)) and a wooden painted heart ornament (which I think I will take to hang at my desk at work for a little crafty cheer in the office):

Notebook and heart ornament

In the last parcel, this super cute cross stitch door hanging, this did make me smile. I shall hang it in my (neglected) craft room and hope it can bring me some inspiration (which has been sorely lacking of late!).

Door hanger

Thank you so much April, you have helped put a smile on my face (much needed this week).


50 Things.

Image from here.

I've just seen this over at Rachel's blog, and thought I'd join in the fun.

1. Are you wearing a hat? No, I’m in the office. They already think I’m weird, they’d probably fire me if I started wearing hats inside.

2. Bottled water? Only if there’s no tap nearby.

3. Do you have a crush on someone right now? I’m kind of harbouring a bit of a Billy Ray Cyrus thing at the moment….previously it was Steve Irwin. I know – the shame!

4. What kind of computer do you have? Dell Desktop at work, Compaq laptop at home.

5. Do you prefer writing in pen or pencil? Pen, pencil makes my writing illegible, but it has to be the right pen.

6. Who was the last message in your inbox from? Amazon, confirming receipt of my order.

7. What's your favourite season? Autumn

8. Does your best friend have a girlfriend or boyfriend? No.

9. Do you like tea? I’m British, of course I like tea :P Weak and milky with one sugar.

10. Favourite radio station? REAL Radio or BBC Radio 2

11. Type your name into Google - what's the first site that appears? The bebo profile for some random person who is not me. She likes pink though.

12. What's your favourite song at the moment? Chasing cars by Snow Patrol.

13. Coke or pepsi? Mostly diet, occasionally cherry, always Coke.

14. Favourite subject in school? Textiles

15. Last concert? Cage The Elephant at Manchester Academy

16. Next concert? The Eclectica music festival in August.

17. Last magazine you bought? Scrapbook Trends.

18. Last book you read? Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs.

19. Do you prefer cats or dogs? Either, but I couldn’t eat a whole one.

20. Is there someone you want to punch right now? Not right now, but the list is usually many and varied.

21. Favourite sports team/person? If you forced me at gun point to choose one… St Helens RFLC, but I don’t really do sports.

22. Country you most want to visit? US

23. Are you a Blogger addict? Er……hell yes.

24. When do you shower? When I get the chance :P Not so easy with two kids. Mostly in the evening though.

25. What's your dream job? Midwife.

26. What kind of car do you drive? Fiat Grande Punto. Black. I lubs my car.

27. What word in the dictionary best describes you? Tenacious

28. What's your blog address? You must know that, you’re here aren’t you?

29. Worst TV show at the moment? The Jeremy Kyle Show….uggghhh!! Actually, can I amend the answer to #20 to put him at the top of the list? I can’t stand that man!

30. Are you a better talker or listener? Depends on the situation.

31. What's your favourite colour? Purple

32. What is your favourite animal? Hmmmmm. I’d have to go with hippopotamus.

33. Are you afraid of the dark? No, although I read a lot of horror books so I wouldn’t be adverse to being afraid of what is IN the dark!

34. Is there something lacking in your life right now? Money in my purse so I can raid the vending machine. I didn’t get chance to stop at the bank this morning.

35. What do you miss about childhood? Not having to be responsible for stuff.

36. How many times did it take you to pass your driving test? *blushing* do I have to answer this? *Sigh* okay, five!

37. How many kids do you want? The two will do, thank you.

38. Are you a good painter? I can’t paint for toffee, unless you mean walls and door frames. I wish I could though.

39. Can you cook? I like to think so.

40. Are you a cheapskate? No, but I wouldn’t pay over the odds for something and I certainly wouldn’t pay for something just because it was branded.

41. What would you do with a million pounds? Pay off the debts, help out my family, have a new kitchen (probably wouldn’t move though) and live out my days happily tinkering about with all things crafty.

42. Have you been to Disney World? No, but it’s on the “Things to do” list. (add that to the answer for #41).

43. How many days a month are you online? Every single damn day! I’m addicted!

44. Last time you went bowling? Does Wii bowling count? Other than that its too long ago to remember. I’m sure I sucked though, I always do.

45. Hot or cold weather? Cold, you can always warm up.

46. How many pairs of shoes do you have? 5 pairs of boots, 5 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of trainers.

47. Are you a shop-a-holic? Not really, mostly I don’t actually like shopping I just do it if I have to.

48. Where were you yesterday at 10.30? In work.

49. Are you afraid of the dentist? Not really. I’m not exactly running in there singing and dancing, but it doesn’t really bother me.

50. Were you bored or entertained by this survey? Neither, I was happy of the distraction, which is why I did it.

Let me know if you decide to do this too, so I can come and check out your answers too!


Tuesday, 19 May 2009

On The Loss Of a Friend

Robert Smithson's "Broken Circle"
You've probably gathered from my brief post on Saturday that we lost our friend Steve over the weekend. He passed away in the early hours of Friday morning from heart failure, just 7 short weeks after we were celebrating his marriage to our good friend Jules.

We're all a little shell shocked around here as you can imagine, the sudden passing of someone you know is always going to cause some serious shock waves.

A colleague of mine said something today which has had my brain whirring all afternoon. She mentioned that she'd had a similar loss, with her friend's husband passing away suddenly and commented (whilst getting teary) that people sometimes seem to think that because it's a friend you've lost and not a relative that it somehow isn't so bad. Clearly it is, so I kind of got to thinking about the whole thing.

When you lose a friend, it seems to be you're grieving on different layers. Yes, you're grieving for the loss of the person you know, for the friendship you had, for the jokes you shared and laughs you had, but no longer will, for all those times in the future when you'll see something funny or sad or annoying and will think "I can't wait to tell X about that" and then realise you can't.

That's just one element though. There's also sadness at the damage that's done to your circle when you lose someone from it, the worry that whilst you might patch it up it will probably never be what it once was, not always in a bad way, it will be.... evolved I suppose could be the word, but it won't ever be the same.

Then there's the grief for the holes left in the hearts of the people you love. Sadness and frustration that other than just being there, there isn't really anything you can do to fix those holes, to soothe the ache, to take away the hurt. You for others and by the same token, them for you.

Emotions abound at the loss of a friend. Sadness. Anger. Frustration. Helpless. A myriad of others, round and back again. Sometimes so many its hard to process without feeling like your head is going to explode. Sometimes expoding at the very people you should be pulling closer, simply because they happen to be nearest to you at that time.

There isn't only negative to come from this though. There can't be, I don't think. To let only negative things come from the loss of a friend is to disrespect their memory. From Steve's passing I see the positives of bonds made strong, of friendships strengthened, of in-jokes even more ingrained in our collective psyche (is there really such a thing as a magadascan howling otter? One will never know).

I take from this loss the knowledge that whatever life throws at us. However busy we think we are. However far away we might be. We should always take more time to be with the people we love, with the family we're born to and with the ones of our own making. You never do know when someone might not be there for the tomorrow, for the "next time", for the "we should do that at some point".

So, for these positives, I raise a glass to you Steve (a big one, of course - there should not be any other kind) and I say "Cheers Doc" and know that Valhalla is a noiser and more boisterous place tonight for your presence.


Saturday, 16 May 2009

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Cake or Death?

The baking momentum has continued around here this week, with this little beauty being next off the production line:

Devil's food cake

Made from Nigella’s “Grandma’s Devil’s Food Cake” recipe* with the addition of fresh cream to sandwich the layers together and chocolate curls to decorate, this is not for the dieter or indeed the faint hearted. It was decidedly delicious though.

Usually the spoils of my baking marathons are brought to college to be shared out amongst the ladies in my office and the members of my team who aren’t in my office. It’s become such a common occurrence these days that long protracted explanations or invitations are no longer necessary. Three words will do it. I simply have to ask them…..Cake, or death? And they know there are baked goodies to be had (first come, first served of course). Thank you Mr Izzard for that immortal line.

Aside from making chocolately cakey goodness I’ve spent most the of Bank Holiday weekend being Harry Potter to Grace’s Hermione Granger (Egg being designated the role of Ron Weasley). Yes, it’s happened. She has finally discovered Harry Potter (not that I’m complaining!). With our impending holiday travels coming up on Friday (2-3 hours in the car with “are we nearly there yet?” *shudder*) we decided we would try some audio books to see if they could help keep the kids quiet for the journey. We trooped off to the library after Ballet/Tap class on Saturday where we found a copy of Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone (read by Stephen Fry – brilliant! I love Stephen Fry). Grace was completely engrossed on our Saturday travels (more on that in another post because I forgot to upload the pics to flickr) and we made it through 3 of the 7 CDs already. When we arrived home we decided to try her with the movies (she hasn’t shown much interest before) and she was totally engrossed in those too (although I wasn’t too sure about the third one, heck, the Dementors scare me! But she had moved on to Playhouse Disney on the computer by that point).

You can always tell when something has struck a chord with Grace as you get the “can we play ___________” for weeks afterwards! So, for the moment I’m happy to by Harry to her Hermione. Lord Voldemort doesn’t stand a chance!

On the topic of fighting imaginary foes. I’ve been talked into going back to this over the weekend by my beloved:

We used to play Everquest regularly. Way, way back, in a time before small people, when we could eat drink and be merry on a Friday evening until the wee hours of Saturday morning, without worrying about having to get up to see to the kids. I drifted away from MMPORG playing when we had the kids and I haven’t played any for ages so it was actually quite nice to have another bash. My account still exists so I have all the characters I used to play on there and it was good fun to discover some of our old ingame haunts. I am such a nerd! LOL. Well clearly what I really need in my life is another form of time suckage. Right?

My usual form of time suckage i.e. all things paper and fabric crafty has been sadly lacking of late. I think it might have something to do with the fact that my craft room has done that thing where you don’t use it for a little while and it then becomes a dumping ground for all things that don’t have a home elsewhere. Then you can’t get in there to craft because you’d have to move everything before you start, so you don’t, so the stuff in there breeds more stuff and on and on. Unfortunately that translates into me having to have a big tidy up in there before I manage to actually accomplish anything. Which probably isn’t going to happen at least until after our jollies *sigh* Ah well. At least I’ll have lots of holiday photos to scrap when I get home.


*I noticed there’s an error in this recipe. The baking soda, bi-carb, salt and vanilla measurements are in tablespoons here (tbsp) but should be teaspoons (tsp).