Sunday, 30 September 2012

Door Handles

I bet you have internal door handles? I bet you've never given them a second thought really? They are a new luxury to me. I waited 15 months for internal doors to be fitted on the ground floor of Vivod, and a further 5 months for handles! Its not that I am lazy, broke or have been unlucky with joiners. I live next door a great joiner which means, on the plus side, I get very cheap joinery...when it suits him (helped along by a little nagging from his wife thankfully). Anyway today, finally, the handles were fitted so I have spent a little time today simply opening and closing doors...because I can. Later I will amuse myself further by closing the door and waiting for the meow...hahahaha. No longer can the cat rule the temperature of my living room! 

Today has been a very productive day. I am now set for a stress free week, ironing done, shopping done (thanks Asda for substituting my vegetarian soup for one with bacon in(!)...genius...I now only have 3 days soup supplies for work...sigh). I did lots of baking! Another Bread Pudding (different recipe this time - tastes delicious), and a batch of Oat and Cherry cookies (very messy but equally delicious). 

So now is not the best time to vow that I will lose at least half a stone (or face the expense of new clothes). I will begin when the cookies are gone - luckily the nest return later so that should solve that one. I will keep you posted as to my weight loss progress...or lack of, as the case may be.

I did attempt to sort out my stash but didn't really get that far. This is the stash cupboard...

Doesn't really look that bad...but that's just what's in the cupboard. The real problem is the many bags and other containers that litter every room of my house containing more wool. A friend has offered a 'solution'. Vacuum bags. Granted it will allow me to fit more wool in the cupboard, however, I'm not sure it really helps the underlying problem of my tendency to buy wool faster than I can knit with it! That's another promise for another day. Besides...if I were to commit to using up the stash it would entail beginning new projects...and you know why I can't do that. In short, I tidied one shelf of the above mess, and closed the door. Rome wasn't built in a day!

I'm persevering with finishing the last book in the Fifty Shades trilogy. I did have to read other books in between each one for the sake of my own sanity. I sometimes wish I wasn't so stubborn in insisting on not giving up on books that I start. I had to read them though...they are the biggest selling books of the year but, like many of my friends that read books on a day to day basis, I wasn't that impressed with the writing. There are only so many eye rolling, lip biting, and palm twitching sentences I can read. The story is ok but a little long winded - surely one book would have sufficed? I am the one rolling my eyes at the friends that never normally read more than their Facebook news feed but suddenly began talking about how amazing the books were. Have they even heard of Waterstones or ventured into their local library? I doubt it. My sudden motivation for finishing the book is because I've been reading reviews for the new J.K. Rowling book - The Casual Vacancy. I never did read (or even watched) the Harry Potter series - Wizards and anything mythical just aren't my thing but I am quite curious about Rowling's first adult book. The reviews have been mixed so I think I might treat myself tomorrow and make up my own mind. Watch this space.

One thing I am really pleased about is that it is the last day of September. Being my least favourite month of the year, and I'm sure you now understand why, I'm quite pleased to see the back of it. Here's to a more calm October!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Welcome Back Serenity

Hello! Oh we are all so excited here at Vivod, and I am officially the best mum in the world according to my daughters. Why? Well, as I mentioned in my last post, Mumford and Son's new album, Babel, was released on Monday (it is amazingly good) following this they announced a quick tour this autumn. Tickets went on sale yesterday morning at 9am and guess who bought three for Manchester Arena? Moi!!! I was so proud of myself! The girls are incredibly happy, particularly child #1 who I think loves Mumford as much as I do. It is hard not to sit here feeling a little smug when reading other fans comments about the tickets being sold out. We can't wait!!

Things are slowly getting back to normal at Vivod too. The deadly cold seems to have  almost passed now too thankfully. I actually found time to do a weekly shop this week and I took lunch to work nearly every day. Also, instead of spending the evenings working, I've spent lots of time on my Emily Peacock kit...

I am trying to finish this by Christmas as there are another 2 kits that will be featuring on my crimbo list. The Hug and Kiss kits... 

So this weekend, with an empty nest, I have promised myself that I will finish getting things at Vivod back on track...lots of cleaning, washing, food shopping etc etc...oh and ironing...look!! :-( (This blog is 'warts n all'!)

Not very exciting but it will make for a much more organised and stress free week with any luck. It also means I won't go out spending money. This is for a good reason. In 2 weeks time I am going to the Knitting and Stitching Show in London and therefore I am doing my best to keep some money aside for that. This is also the reason that, despite completing 2 projects, I have not started anything new as I suspect I may be tempted to after the show! 

Aside from all the cleaning I have a couple of nicer things on the to do list. I might get a chance to do a little more on the ripple blanket (nearly halfway there now). I'm also in the mood for a bit of baking, so once Asda have delivered my shopping tomorrow I'll see what I can find to make. If I'm really feeling motivated I may have a quick sort out of my stash too. There seems to be quite a few bags of wool all over the house that need a home - not convinced that they will actually fit in the stash cupboard though, even with a sort out! 

In the shorter term, once I have cleaned the bathroom...sigh, I am going to settle down with the Telegraph. Its not my normal read however Cath Kidston has produced a little booklet which I just couldn't resist obtaining a copy of. I do need to thank a very lovely friend of mine for this who informed me that he had to search various local shops and supermarkets across the area in order to find a copy. Isn't he great? He was clearly far less impressed with the booklet than I was too and questioned whether it was worth it?...of course it was worth it!! I now feel that, given the efforts, I should at least read the rest of the newspaper too...looking at the size of it that could take some time! 

Monday, 24 September 2012

Lemsips and Tantrums

Somebody told me today what a credit to me my girls are. I thanked them and then relayed the following reality to them that sometimes occurs at Vivod, although thankfully not too often.

This weekend I had some deadly strain of the common cold and therefore spent the best part of the weekend on the sofa crocheting, stitching, reading, sleeping or generally just annoying the nest by reminding them just how ill I was. I trialled various combinations of cold remedies and painkillers to find that most were pretty pointless! It took all the energy I had to take child #3 to the skate park as promised on Saturday morning and that was about the only time I left the house all weekend!

By Sunday afternoon I did start to feel a little better and decided, as we had eaten that much convenience food and rubbish, that I would cook something nice for dinner as it was Sunday rather than the planned 'shove it in the oven and forget about it for 25 mins' meal I had as backup in case I didn't feel better. The cupboards were a bit bare as I would normally have shopped (at least online if not physically) but didn't even manage that so with a quick nip to the local 'One-stop' for a jar of sauce I rustled up a delicious Spaghetti Bolognese. All was well.

Child #2 had gone ice skating in the afternoon with friends but I knew that finished at 5 ish so I assumed cooking dinner for 6pm would be good. Now, let me explain first that Sunday Dinner in our house may not always be a traditional roast, but is ALWAYS a family event. Its the only meal that I insist on eating as a family, at the table, no excuses etc etc. As I share the nest with my ex partner that also means it only happens once a fortnight too and therefore the nest require almost written consent, with a month's notice, not to be present. Please also remember that whilst I was feeling better, I was far from 'well' at this point. This is what happened next...

5:45pm I realised that child #2 had not returned, so I rang her. No answer.
5:46pm I tried again. No answer.
5:48pm I text her 'Where are you? Dinner will be ready in 20 mins' (no kisses...I was already irritated!)
5:55pm I tried ringing her again. No answer! Hmmmm.
5:56pm She text. "Sorry forgot to tell you I'm having tea at hannahs and were going to watch the hockey match and it finishes at 9 xx"
5:57pm I removed myself from the kitchen ceiling after reading the text...(its SUNDAY!!!...what is she thinking!)
5:58pm I called her. She answered...

"I'm cooking your tea already, you didn't ok this with me, be home in 20 minutes please"

"But mum why??? why can't I go? Its not fair!! Please mum"


"But why???? I want to go, why can't I go??"

"You didn't ask, I'm cooking your tea now...get home!"

"I'm asking now though, but you wouldn't have let me anyway, even if I did ask"

"I might, but its Sunday"

"So?"  (SO??! SO!!!)

"What do you mean 'So'?? Its Sunday! We always eat as a family on know that!!"

"But why? I want to go"

"I'm not discussing this now...where are you...I will come and get you if I have to!!"

"By the shops, but why can't I go?"

"Which shop?! There are lots of shops!!"

"I don't know"

"Well turn around and look at what the shop is called and tell me!! And stop being awkward!"

"Ring you back in a minute"

Ring me back in a minute??? What? Is she trying to wind me up even more?!?!? At this point I stormed up the stairs to find child #1 in order to report to her how 'unbelievable' her sister was! And to mention that she might have to keep an eye on the now unwanted bolognese! She did struggle to keep a straight face but did her best to show support. She asked what exactly her sister had done as Child #2 dared to send another text...I rolled my eyes, turned to child #1 and said..." what she has done!!" whilst dialling child #2's number!

"We have discussed this. I've said No, and I have said I am coming to get you. Now tell me where you are."

"No."   "I want to go."

"I am giving you one last chance to tell me where you are now!"

"Why?? I want to go!"

"Right!...unless you want to surrender your phone, Ipod, internet access and freedom for the next week I suggest you tell me right now where you are!! I am rapidly losing my patience with you!"

"Fine. Sports shop"

"Right...stay there!!...I am on my way!"

I attempted to calm down, whilst locating car keys, and instructing child #1 as to what to do with dinner. (Child #3 was still chilling out on the sofa, watching TV around the chaos...not even batting an eyelid.)

I went to get her. To her credit she was exactly where she said she would be. Wise move. Now child #2 likes the final word, and likes to try and be a little pedantic at times like this. So she gets in the car in silence. Its only a 3 minute journey home but during which time we managed the following level of mature conversation...

"I'm going back out again after by the way"

"No you are not!!"

"Why not?!"

"Because you have annoyed me, and I say so"

"Well you have annoyed me"

"Well I don't care, I'm your mother and thats the end of it!"

"Well why can't I go out?"

"Because its Sunday and I'm not happy about your behaviour at school or at home" (what was I thinking here?!)

"My behaviour at home?"

"Yes, like this now..."

"but I'm not at home now"  "I'm in the car"

"Don't try and be clever now...this counts as home life you know!" (?? does it?)

"I'm not trying to be clever now"

"I think you are"

"I'm not"

"No you are not"


"Don't bother with this attitude!"

"I don't have an attitude!"

"Well you clearly do"

"No I don't"

"Do you want me to take your phone off you?"

"No, why?"

"Well carry on like this and I will"

"That's not the answer to everything mum, you can't just take my phone off me for everything"

"Yes I can"

"How can you"

"Because I can" (remind me who the adult is here?!)

"No you can't"

"Of course I can!"

"No...I won't let you"

"You don't have a choice!"

"Yes I do, its my phone"

"Shut up now...just shut up!" (So mature)

We arrived back home, exiting the car in silence. Child #2 headed upstairs. I headed for the wine and then remembered I was ill so put it back! I counted to 10, then to 20, then to 25 then gave up. I dished up dinner and realised that my chances of a happy family meal were somewhat shot at this point. Nevermind...its the principle remember! Remarkably child #2 came down for dinner in relatively good mood. Now, in the time between arriving back home and sitting at the table I had relayed the car conversation to child #1 who was now sat opposite me. I was also concerned that I may lose the exactly was I planning on getting the phone? I had images of myself ransacking child #2's bedroom in darkness with a miner's hat on trying to find the damn phone while she slept. It wasn't good.

The sacred phone chimed in child #2's pocket. No one moved. I accidentally caught the eye of child #1 who smirked...I had to look away and try not to laugh at this point. Child #1 and I made eye contact again and could no longer refrain from laughing. Child #2 then enquired what was so she extracted the said phone from her pocket and had the audacity to reply to it!!!  It took every bit of adult maturity (that I suddenly seemed to lack) and a bit of self reasoning not to end up wrestling with my, taller than me, 12 year old at the dining room table during a 'Sunday Family Meal' in some lame attempt to obtain the damn phone! Then I remembered the trump I didn't think of this to start with I can only put down to the lemsips! It was obvious now.  

I simply turned to child #2 and reminded her that I have control of her contract. With this in mind I simply had to report her phone lost and the sim would be deactivated immediately rendering her phone useless until they sent a new one and I decided to activate it. Child #1's face was a picture, she looked to her sister with a smile and look of 'Mum's won...what are you going to do now?' on her face! Child #2 sighed, sent a couple of texts and said "Here...have it...sod 2 weeks without a phone!"

Who said I can't use phone confiscation for everything? ;-)

Despite all this we had a lovely evening together, and consequently, once we had both calmed down and grown up a bit, I returned the phone to her later on. One thing I will say for my nest is that none of them hold a grudge, and we all realise that life is a lot better without so many tantrums so we all forgive pretty quickly too. It helps greatly.

I have blogged this purely for my own amusement later in life, but I hope some of you may be able to relate to it in the meantime.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Drumstick Lollies Required

I am still here...I have been very busy at work in view of the final funding submission deadline which, thankfully, has passed. Its now time to catch up with everything else that has been put aside because of this.  This week has been very dull I'm afraid but I'm hoping that some sense of normality will now return. I may also be able to refrain from stealing drumstick lollies from the Principal's office in order to reduce stress levels! (In the end he gave me all those in the picture to keep me quiet I think.)

So aside from work what have I been up to?...

Well I upset the nest earlier this week by asking them to do a little tidying up for half an would think I had asked them to work an eight hour shift! I guess they were a little tired after their annual sponsored walk up Moel Famau though.

I've been thinking about my house quite a but this week too. I've not told you too much about Vivod yet but in a nutshell its 'in need of attention'. I bought it in January 2011 and did lots last year. As a consequence I decided to give myself a break this year and recoup some funds too. I realised yesterday that my year off is rapidly coming to an end and I should really start thinking about what I will do next. This is usually decided by a process of elimination revolving around funds, ability, and, most importantly, what annoys me the most on a day to day basis. I will keep you posted as to my decisions.

I am really looking forward to this weekend to be honest. Its the first weekend that, although I have plans, its nothing major and I should still get plenty of time to just relax a bit. Whilst I can still say that I love my job I am also really pleased that the crazy time of year is now drawing to a close.

I feel a bit like a teenager at the moment too...its the first time in years that I am extremely excited about a forthcoming album release on Monday. Mumford and Sons second album, 'Babel', has been long awaited at Vivod. We are big Mumford fans and their last album was released in 2009!! Anyway, based on early release clips its looking promising! I really can't wait. Child No. 1 and I love music, far more than TV so we spend serious amounts of time sharing our finds. She has good taste in music, all types really too. I don't like everything she does but we do share a big percentage of it.

Just to maintain some sanity at times when I have really felt like I was losing it I've found half an hour here and there to do a little stitching...

Well that's about it really, lets hope things get more fun soon eh?! To top it all I think I have also been given a gift from child no.1 and no.3...their cold! I'm going to go find some lemsips I think.  See you soon.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

To Do Lists

Another week finished then and I still have things being added to my to do list faster than I have time to do them but then again it is September I suppose. I'm still working days and evenings too whilst trying to listen and respond to the nest's demands, and maintain some kind of organisation at Vivod. I have a constant to-do-list in every part of my life!

The week didn't start too well following the antics of last weekend. On Sunday evening I walked into my living room and actually wondered if a burglar would leave the place tidier than it currently was. It vaguely resembled the day we moved in...stuff everywhere...suitcase, bags, clothes etc. (with the odd union jack flag lying around, this didn't feature on move in day!). So what were the nest doing? Completely ignoring it all and just carrying on with TV watching, internet browsing, eating, playing, etc., around it all...KIDS! For all their positives the one thing that all of my children at totally rubbish at is tidying up...I'm sure that they do believe in the cleaning fairy too. Oh the shock they will all have when they all move out!

I did manage to restore some kind or order by monday evening at Vivod. Not so much at work though but its getting there I guess. I think I do have a tendency to take on more than I can actually achieve and forget that there are only so many hours in a day. I'm also easily distracted and flit from one thing to another if that thing shouts loudly enough. Even now, while writing this, the Wii is flashing blue lights at me...'update me, update me, update me...' and I am tempted to go and do it right now. That's the problem...everything  demands so much attention all the time yet I just want to chill out for a while! So the Wii can wait...patiently!!

I do sound a little negative today - sorry. 

I did do some nice things this week too though. I went out for some food on Tuesday evening with a friend. I also managed to find a little time to progress my Emily Peacock 'In Bloom' kit, motivated by my completion of the Meeting Place cushion (Blog Post). I am being very focused with existing projects still, and refraining from starting anything new. This will, inevitably, be spoilt next month when I visit the Knitting and Stitching Show - I'm not making any promises!

By Thursday I decided I needed a little more order in my life at work and went on the hunt for new task management apps...with little success...none of them did what I wanted them to. So really I spent the best part of an evening hunting for apps to make myself more productive when really I could have spent that time being productive instead! Now we are getting close to the real issue. Avoidance. This is what I do when I have things I should do but don't really want to. I think the MA dissertation nicely fits into this category too. I 'plan'. Then when I have 'planned' and I still don't want to do it I 're-plan' and this goes on...and on.  Hmmm...this blog is making me admit to my personal weaknesses far too much lately!

So, here I am, on a Saturday morning, on a kid free weekend, writing a to-do-list! I am so tempted to just write 'Nothing' on it too!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Last Night of the Proms

Hello! We are a bit tired as we've just got back from a quick trip to London to attend the Last Night of the Proms in Hype Park! It was fantastic of course but tiring! Its unfortunate that the event takes place in September really, otherwise I could spend a bit more time in London but work commitments mean that we travel on a Saturday morning and then return the next morning. We did have lots of fun though and the weather was glorious, in fact I think I only just escaped being sun burnt.

We arrived at Hyde Park at around 3:30pm and joined the queues which didn't take too long fortunately because I think it must have been in the high 20s yesterday and we were stood directly in the heat and crammed together like cattle! Once we got in though things were much more comfortable thankfully..

Spot the men in suits? They must have been BAKING! They did amuse us though.

While we were waiting for the introductory acts to start (Blues/Country/Jazz/Abba/Beatles - all brilliant!) we managed to take a couple of family portraits 'us' style...

This is my favourite! 

Bit sunny but that's just how it was!
The guys in suits were later joined by these rather well dressed individuals who made us all smile...

And we also found some fellow welsh sat behind us...

Look at the sky! It was beautiful! 
In part two we were entertained by Il Divo (better than I thought to be honest), London Community Gospel Choir (again, not bad!) and then Kylie. Kylie was good, you can't say she wasn't, but she wasn't really upbeat and even churned out a slow version of 'I should be so Lucky' so a bit disappointing really compared to everyone else that really got the crowd up and dancing. She did do the 'The Locomotion' though and got half of Hyde Park doing this...

Bear in mind that plenty of people had had rather a lot of alcohol by this point so it was rather amusing.
So the evening ended, of course, with a live link to the Albert Hall for the traditional bits. Lots of bobbing up and down, flag waving, no one knowing the words to God Save the Queen etc etc but all good. We met Americans, Canadians, Swedes amongst others and right at the end Child No.#3 was handed our kilted friend's big flag to hold!...he was so pleased!  Here are some more pics of the evening...

Finally all 40,000 of us piled out of Hyde Park at nearly 11pm, all rather jolly of course. Needless the say the tube stations couldn't cope so that only provided further opportunity for Rule Britannia signing while we waiting to be let into the ticket area. Was all rather patriotic! Even the policeman guarding the entrance couldn't keep a straight face entirely during that.

We finally made it back to the hotel at around midnight, exhausted. The nest have already requested we return next year!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Emily Peacock - The Meeting Place

Just a very quick post today to show off project No. 9 completion from the recent rant (Blog Post). I was feeling even more smug yesterday as this was the second completion in as many days!


According to my rules...I am now technically allowed to start something new if I so wish...I'm currently undecided on this!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Cath Kidston Garden Flowers Purse

Brace yourselves...

You are about to see that I can actually finish a project! I spent an hour yesterday sewing together the Garden Flowers Purse. I'm feeling rather smug and proud of myself now. This was project number one from the Unfinished Business rant the other day (Blog Post). I don't intend on doing them in the order they were listed, it just happened that way in this case. 

So this one has been quite a quick project for me at just over a week to complete. I've learnt a couple of really handy tricks too along the way.

The first is soluble canvas. I'd seen it once in Hobbycraft but didn't really investigate it at the time. It's brilliant stuff and now I know how people can create such neat and perfect embroidery on non even weave fabrics. Look...

Then you trim the excess off once the design is complete...

Before washing the rest off with soapy water, and leaving to dry...

Yesterday all that was left to do was sew the purse together.

I learnt how to integrate the zip nice and neatly too by sewing little tabs at each end. Thank you Cath. So here we are, my finished purse...

So now I am off to start another project now...I'm just pulling your leg! I know the rules! I will decide which of the 20 remaining projects I will complete first, along with finding a use for this little finished one too. 

See you again soon.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Hi ho, Hi ho....

The last four days of my life have featured little else but work in them, owing to the fact that it was main enrolment on Tuesday and Wednesday followed by another 2 days of constantly challenging deadlines.  Tuesday and Wednesday felt like days that would never end. They both started around 7:45am (at work) and ended approximately 12 hours later, allowing time to then travel home, heat some food up (I can't really call it cooking) and eat it whilst logging on to do another couple of hours work. 

On Friday I decided at 6am that I was going to go back to sleep until 7am and get to work at a sensible time of half past 8. By 6:15am I had given up trying to go back to sleep, and clocked up a mental to do list of around 6 or 7 items. I got up and went to work, arriving at abnormal time again of 7:45am! Well the thought was there anyway.  I am, however, pleased to report that, for the first time in four years, we are AHEAD of schedule. Of course, I am now paranoid that something will go wrong to spoil this!

Needless to say that my wine consumption is significantly increased this week. I think I mentioned in a recent post that I would address healthy eating this week? Well clearly that didn't happen! I also felt a little guilty when, whilst sat with my team and 'mucking in' (at this time of the year I very much lead from the front), they began chatting about how much they were drinking this week too to the point that their families had commented on this at some cases. I think I am suppose to keep an eye on the 'well-being' of my teams and I don't think this conversation was a good sign really! Hmmm.

There were a couple of non work highlights to my week though and the first was the arrival of 3 new books that I had ummed and arred about buying for the past few weeks but finally hit the pay button on Sunday for...

I have similar versions of these for knitting and they come in so handy. I figured that if I was going to take this crochet lark seriously then I should equip myself with the basics at least. I like all three and I love that fact that crochet just lends itself to creating colourful stuff so quickly. Of course I ordered these before the big rant on Monday about unfinished projects so it has taken some willpower not to start anything new, using these, to say the least. I am just glad that work is so busy to be honest!

In between the chaos of work this week I have managed to steal some time back to work on an EXISTING project or two. I managed one row of the ripple blanket and then realised I was too tired and went to bed! I also finished the little flowers on the Cath Kidston Garden Flowers Purse Kit. So, just to confirm, I have not started any NEW projects yet...I feel my 'treatment', as it is now known, is working so far.

The other highlight was yesterday evening. I have a few very close friends in my life but we are all such busy people that it can be months before we actually see each other. Last night I finally got to meet up with one of those friends and it was so lovely to see her (of course I had no choice but to drink a few vino's again too...I was just being sociable...honest!). I often vow to try and catch up with friends more frequently but inevitably this fails and I think I have to just accept that life is busy, and just appreciate the times when everything falls into place rather than beating myself up about not doing it often enough.

Well that's about it before I get back to work stuff for a couple of hours. Prepare yourselves for a FINISHED project soon!