Wednesday, 26 August 2009

About Time

I've been thinking about time lately. As it seems have plenty of other people. Maybe it's the imminent change of seasons, or the looming end of the summer holidays (how fast has that gone?). I've also been re-reading this book which is pretty much guaranteed to make you think about time - in an altogether different way.

Mostly I'm wondering where my time goes. Usually when people complain about having no time there is some wise and oh so sage person who will pipe up with the "we all have the same amount of time, its how we choose to use it that's important" line. How true and how truly annoying that is.

Lets think about this logically then. There might even be some maths involved!

In one week there are 168 hours.

Of those 168 hours I spend:

56 of them sleeping

7 of them getting the kids and myself up and dressing in the morning

7 of them getting the kids undressed, bathed and put to bed in the evening

10.5 of them cooking and eating dinner

22 of them at work

5 of them driving to and from work

2.5 of them at the supermarket in the week

3 of them at the supermarket at the weekend

4 of them getting Grace to and waiting for Grace at dancing classes

4 of them at my ILs (on a Sunday)

5 of them cleaning (on a Friday)

14 of them watching TV

7 of them reading

6 of them entertaining the kids on Saturday

6 of entertaining the kids on Sunday

4 of them at the gym

That's 163 hours accounted for. I'm not entirely sure where the other 5 go - driving places? Phaffing about getting read to go places? Cooking? Changing nappies? Washing clothes? Unpacking groceries? Probably all of these things, and others.

Is it any wonder I struggle to find time to do the things I love to do? Finding time for crafty stuff in the day is increasingly difficult for me these days - as illustrated by the (mostly) lack of anything crafty around here lately.

I guess it boils down to this. If I want to do more crafty things, then something else has got to give, but what?

I can't work less (they wouldn't pay me)

I can't drive to work less (I can't magic our house any nearer or drive faster without a speeding fine!)

I can't sleep less (I already have broken nights with the kids so I'm running on empty in that regard most of the time anyway and less sleep makes me a grumpy mummy)

I can't clean less (the house is already a pigsty, if I did less than I do now we'd be drowned under a sea of dust bunnies and laundry within a week!)

I can't cook less (we need to eat)

I can't eat for less (I need to eat)

I can't shop less (we need to eat)

I can't stop taking Grace to dancing (she needs to expend her energy)

I can't spend less time entertaining the kids at the weekend (we work all week so that's our family time)

I can't get them up less or put them to bed less (they need to sleep and they need to wake up)

I can't go to the gym less (I'd be a bigger fatter heffer than I am now)

So, that pretty much leaves the reading and the TV. I'm not sure I could bare to part with my reading time. I do so love books.

Based on this analysis. The TV has got to go. Do you think the kids would notice?

There's a great post over at Shimelle's blog today all about time, and how she finds the time to do what she does. The answer it seems is simple. The woman doesn't even own a TV. My mind is still boggling at how that is even possible. I love the TV. Maybe an experiment is in order? Is it possible for me to survive without the TV for a week? Could I claw back those 14 hours and actually accomplish something with them?

Lets look at the current "To Do List" shall we:

1. Seaside swap secret item #1 (sorry, I can't disclose the exact nature of this item - it's a surprise :)

2. Seaside swap secret item #2 (ditto)

3. Seaside swap secret item #2 (can you ditto a ditto?)

4. Altering a bodice for my SIL for a fancy dress costume

5. Making a Kinder doll for a friend of a friend's baby

6. Knitting a new monkee for a certain little duck man

7. Starting the Learn Something New Everyday Class on 1st September

You know, I'm beginning to think this might be a feasible experiment. Beginning next Monday. No evening TV for me for a week. Well, I can't possibly start before then….Thursday is Private Practice, and Friday is Criminal Minds and Sunday is new House (maybe I'm a hopeless cause??).

So, that's the time sorted out. Now, the energy and the inspiration???……… that's a whole other post……maybe even two!!


Thursday, 13 August 2009

Monkee-ing Around

Another layout from the Cookie craft room this week (and it's only taken me 4 days to complete it!). I love these photos of Egg with his monkee maker monkey and really wanted to scrap them.

I was a little lacking in inspiration, then the monthly email from landed in my mailbox which had their August sketch challenge in - that was all I needed to kick start this page.



Monkee LO Journaling

More layering on this page (I'm loving the pages with lots of depth at the moment) along with some stitching (which I always love on my pages, even though it's a pain to drag the sewing machine out just for a few lines). Bazzill cardstock and some papermania patterned paper and some K & Co chipboard (I'm finally starting to chip away (no pun intended) at the stash my big sister has bought me for the last couple of birthdays/Christmasses).

Hopefully more scrapping this week and a couple of sewing projects to boot. The TV programming is officially rubbish now (apart from Thursdays and Sundays) which should mean more crafty action.

Right, best get the kids off to Nanny's house and head off to work.


Monday, 10 August 2009

Up The Pike*

*No, nothing to do with a Northern euphemism for being pregnant. I'm referring to a very big hill with a fort on top.....all will be revealed!

It's been quite a busy old weekend here in Cookieville.

On Friday we trotted off for a day out to Stockley Farm to meet up with Louise and Rach and their respective broods. We had a fabulous time in the lovely sunshine (which made a pleasant change from the recent rain). It was lovely to see Rach and the kids again (the last time I saw them Rach wasn't even pregnant with Caitlin (who is now 6 months old!)). We had a lovely pic-er-nic, the kids played for ages in the outdoor play area and had great fun feeding and petting the animals. Add a couple of bumpy tractor rides and an icecream and it was pretty much a perfect day out.

Stockley Farm

Stockley Farm

Stockley Farm

On Saturday we were supposed to go to the St Helens Music festival (which you might remember from previous years has always been a great day out). Well, the Council completely let us down this year with an appalling line up of RnB acts (to "attract a younger audience" apparently) and a charge to get in (previously it's been free). Clearly seeing N-Dubz and Chipmunk perform is not really up our street, so has we still had the offer of babysitters overnight Kendo and I decided to do something anyway (we don't often get time together just to two of us).

So, what would we do being child-free for an entire afternoon and evening?? The pub?? The theatre?? The Cinema??Run up a big hill?? Er.......yes..... the last one!!

I know. Completely unprecedented that we should have free time and voluntarily choose to spend it exercising, but that's what we did. Scary.

We decided we would go up to Rivington Pike for a run/walk. To be honest, in the end there was much more walking than running, but that was mostly to do with the fact that the paths are made up of large uneven cobbles and you'd be in serious danger of doing yourself a mischief should you attempt to run on them.

We used to go to Rivington Barn a lot when we first started dating. It's a big biker hangout on a Sunday with a little cafe and usually a craft fair. We'd never been any further than the barn though so were pleasantly surprised by what we found up there.

There's a whole collection of interesting little buildings and follies. Lord Levenshum who previously owned the property had a big thing for landscaping and design and built a huge terraced garden as well as several towers, and a dovecote. The buildings are mostly still standing but the gardens are pretty much in ruins (which is a huge shame, because looking at the old photos of them on the information boards they were amazing).

These are the terraced gardens (I think this might be the aviary):

Rivington Terraced Gardens ]

See how energetic we were:

Rivington Terraced Gardens

and no, you don't get to see the one of my running up, my arse looks huge!! You can see this one though:

Rivington Terraced Gardens

The fantastic Dovecote tower (very Harry Potter-esque we thought):

Dovecote Tower

Yes, this really is as far as it looks:

Path up to Rivington Pike

but we made it right to the top:

Rivington Pike Tower

(if you squint you can just about see me leaning against the tower)

This is the view from the top:

View from Rivington Pike

(just breathe in all the geography!)

On the way back down we discovered this lovely lake:

Rivington Japanese Gardens

with a waterfall:

Waterfall at Rivington Japanese Garden

and caves:

Rivington Japanese Gardens

Then on the way out we stumbled across the information board for this section, turns out it used to be a Japanese garden. What a shame it's gone to rubble:

Rivington Japanese Garden Info board

We did manage a bit of a run when we finally found a flat bit on the way back to the car (which was quite impressive that we could even run after walking for 2 hours (most of it up a vertical path!!).

We were rather hungry after all that exercising, so decided to treat ourselves to a pub tea when we got home. Well deserved I thought. Kendo was very good and had a salad! I figured I'd earned my gammon egg and chips!

Continuing with the productive and energetic weekend, I did a little more scrapping last night. It was important we test drive Louise's new scrap space so we had a little MSNing cybercrop so she could test it out. I didn't quite manage to finish my layout (it still needs some journaling) but I hope to finish it tonight so will post it later.

Right, best head off - almost time for work. Deep joy!


Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Big Box o' Goodness

Earlier in the week (my goodness, I've actually blogged more than once this week! Whatever is the world coming too?) I mentioned that I'd been asked to test another product as well as the online food hygiene course.

It was an Abel and Cole veggie box and it arrived this morning (one would assume at the crack of sparrow had already been delivered by the time Kendo left for work at 7am!).

Abel and Cole Box

If you're a regular reader here, then chances are you also read over at the Moogsmum and I'm a Ginger Monkey blogs so you'll recall that they've both been talking about these boxes recently. I've been dithering about trying the Abel and Cole delivery service for ages, but I wasn't sure if it would work for us. When I was offered the opportunity to try and review one for free I of course jumped at the chance.

I couldn't wait to get up and see what was waiting for us in the box this morning (excited about veggies.....what's happening to me??) and I wasn't disappointed with the content. Its the Mixed Organic Box option (there are several different variations you can order from the website) and has:

A&C Box content

Fairtrade bananas (nice green ones, which is good because I just bought some so they should be about ready when the others have been eaten)
Carrots (always a winner here)
cucumber (we go through these at a rate of knots)
Green Kale (Kendo will be happy, I'm not a fan but he loves it)
Green Lettuce (this looked so fresh and yummy)
New Potatoes
Pattipan squash (these are peculiar looking things, not sure what I'm going to do with them yet, I'll have to have a mooch round google for a recipe)
Star Ruby Grapefruit
White Onions

So, a pretty good haul. I will work on finding some recipes that I can use this lot in and let you know after the taste test how it is.

In completely non-veggie related news........ I scrapped another layout last night! I've had this photo and a selection of papers and card and embellies on my desk for months because I've really wanted to scrap it, but every time I've sat down to look at it I've been completely unsure about what to do with it. I knew I wanted to tell the story, but couldn't find a way to make the page work. The photo is of Me and Grace with the lovely Miss Louise and Miss Emily (technically Xander and Egg are there too, but they were still safely ensconced in those baby bellies at this point). It was taken the very first time we met in real life (we'd only ever spoken online before this point). It was a fantastic day out at the Wonderland park in Telford, a beautiful sunny day and a great opportunity to met so many of my Babywhisperer buddies.

I've been hoarding these Basic Grey Urban Prairie papers for a while. They're totally lush and completely strokable - so much so that I didn't want to cut into them! This weeks scrapbooking lesson is clearly that pattern papers are no use to anyone unless you actually use them, because both this week's pages have involved using stash I love but have been holding on to. I must remember to use more of the stuff I love rather than just keeping it to gather dust.

Here's the page anyway:

Real Friends LO

IRL LO Journaling

IRL LO Close up

The inspiration for the layout came from a bit of a browsing session over at the Two Peas In A Bucket gallery yesterday. I absolutely love this page by Shannon Tidwell. Indeed, the whole of Shannon's gallery is fabulous. What caught my attention on this layout though was using popdots to produce dimension on the page, but in reverse. Shannon has cut out shapes from the main background cardstock and then added patterned paper to the back so it adds some depth. I loved this technique and couldn't wait to try it - which was the perfect opportunity to finally get this picture scrapped.

So. This week........4 blog posts, getting excited over a box of veggies, scrapping 2 layouts........ I think maybe I've been taken over by aliens!!! Some strange is going on for sure.


Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Blogger Via Email?

So, as my access to my blogger account has been completely knobbled by our IT services department at work, I'm experimenting with ways to get around that and still be able to blog.
Not that I blog much these days, but seeing as I used to do most of my blogging in work time anyway, I'm figuring this might improve my chances of blogging more often.
I shall wait with baited breathe to see if this actually works! Expect more random testing throughout the day.
PS. Random photos too - just checking if that works aswell!!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Virtual College

I was approached a little while ago to see if I would be willing to test out a couple of things in exchange for doing a review on the Cookie blog. One of those things is being delivered on Friday (more on that after the weekend), the other one was an online course with a place called Virtual College. Never one to shy away from a bit of education I thought I’d give it a try, particular because the course in question was the Online Food Hygiene Course.

The course is actually geared toward people working in the food service industry, but, being that I do tend to do a lot of baking (which is often consumed by work colleagues as well as family and friends) and with having the two small people in the house I thought it would be interesting to find out if what I think I know about this kind of stuff is right and what I could be doing to do things better.

It was an education as well!! Eek!

The Virtual College system is actually really user friendly. You log in, the front page shows a list of your courses, then you click into the one you’re working on. You’re then given a list of modules which tells you if you’ve completed them, are working on them, or need to complete them still.

You can pick up and put down at any time (which is useful, particularly if you’re at the mercy of work and small people like me) and work at your own pace, which is great.

The layout of the course itself was very good. Fun, interactive, easy to follow and navigate around. You follow each of the 9 modules through a series of screens, answering little pop quizzes on the way and have a multiple choice test at the end of the module to see if you’ve taken everything in. There’s also a really useful little place to make online notes yourself (which you get the option to print at the end of the module). I did find the voiceover a little annoying (and inconvenient when I completed modules in work (but that was soon solved by the conveniently located mute button ;))).

Whilst some of the course related to areas that aren’t particularly relevant to me as an individual (rather than in a business sense), the majority of the course was really interesting. Finding out about storage temperatures, food danger zones, how to store foods, cool foods etc to get the best from them (and make them as safe as possible) was a real eye opener! I swear Iwill never reheat a take-away Egg Fried Rice for breakfast again!

As the course is a recognised food service qualification you do get a certificate saying you’ve taken the course once you’re finished which is quite nice. I think I might get a frame and hang mine in the kitchen. Of course, I’d have to alter it first…, where did I put that Modge Podge?


She Made Me Do It!

As you've probably gathered from the complete lack of layout photos on the Cookie blog, there hasn't been a whole lot of scrapbooking going on around here lately. Strange really, because once upon a time scrapping was my favourite way to pass my crafty time. I just haven't been inspired to get creative with the paper and glue for a while and once you get out of the habit it's harder to pick it up again.

Anyway. My good buddy Louise belongs to the team on UKScrappers which were responsible for setting last week's weekly challenge and Louise bullied me until I cried encouraged me to make a layout for it (supporting ones bloggy and RL buddies and all that).

Here's the page anyway:

This life LO

8.5x11 for a change. Another page for my long abandoned Book of Me (I thought the change in page size might jig up the mojo a little). I was going great guns with this the evening I started it, then as usual life conspired to get in the way of me completing it and I didn't get it done until last night in a bit of a last minute rush, which sort of sucks the fun out of it. I'm hoping to try to set aside some time to get some uninterrupted scrapping in. Maybe that will rekindly my love of all things patterned paper? Who knows.