Friday, 31 July 2015

listening in: 5 programmes worth listening to


This is a thing isn't it? I love listening to podcasts; it's the way that fits around my life that I can learn stuff, follow up my obsessions, and get excited about things. I mainly seem to listen while doing laundry, and with three children, there's plenty of laundry!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

doing our best

This week on the gratitude challenge I'm talking about a core value of mine.

So here goes. I believe that we are all doing our best. I remind myself of this all the time, because it's easy to forget. But we all do the best we can in the circumstances.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Weather Project: Summer holiday edit


We went on holiday - all of us - abroad! We went somewhere where it DID NOT RAIN EVEN ONCE THE WHOLE TIME, where the temperature rarely dipped below 30C and occasionally topped 40C, and this Goth survived.

In fact, I loved it.

I am profoundly grateful to my in-laws for taking us all to stay in Mallorca, and to Mallorca for being so beautifully hot and sunny.

We went to a lot of beaches, the children swam in the sea, and were delighted to see fishes swimming alongside them. I was not so delighted, but instead freaked out when some seaweed touched me and after that looked after everyone's stuff!


The heat made us change how we spent our days. The afternoons were too hot to do anything, so we would 'chill' out in our villa, playing in the pool and reading books, and then go out to do more exploring, and to eat dinner.

The kids were up to about 10pm every night, and that worked wonderfully. We all got plenty of down time in the afternoons (it totally helped that there were lots of adults on hand, which again, I'm very grateful for), and exploring picturesque places like Pollenca and Alcudia in the evenings was lovely.


It was weird to me that there were very few types of plants growing, but things did grow, even without much rain (it does rain in Mallorca, but hardly at all in July - peak rainfall comes in October, when it rains around half the days (which sounds like an amazing summer in Scotland)).

Let us not discuss our Scottish summer weather any more. We could maybe do that next time.

The good news is that we people of the United Kingdom are free to move elsewhere in the EU, and some of it is lovely and warm. 

We have less ants though.

Our next holiday involves camping in Yorkshire. Cross your fingers for us.

Where have you been on your holidays? And were the weather gods kind?

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

in a few of our favourite places

I've been super busy with having fun and the like, so I'm playing catch up on the gratitude challenge, which today is about my favourite spot in my home town.

To tell the truth, I got a bit stuck on this. I live in Largs, on the West Coast of Scotland. And it's very green and very pleasant (and very wet quite often). There are lots of lovely places, but a favourite spot? I couldn't think of one.

That's Largs over there.


Monday, 27 July 2015

finding our keys! The Beets BLU key finder

The other day I lost my keys. 

I was emptying out all the bags in the great big bag of bags, just in case I'd put it in there by mistake. I went through every pocket in both of my handbags. I pulled furniture out in places where I dump stuff. I got a little bit tetchy.

The kids were bugging me to cancel our trip out and let them spend the rest of their lives on screens... but I did not cave. Instead I sent them outside to play (or lurk while muttering, up to them), and searched the house again.

Friday, 10 July 2015

listening to... five more programmes well worth a listen

I don't watch a lot of TV (as you could no doubt tell from my fab 5 on TV programmes), but I do listen to podcasts loads. It satisfies my thirst for random facts. Here are five which are well worth checking out.


1. First up, taken from the TED Radio Hour's Getting Organised programme, is this talk from the O'Neill sisters, on how they dealt with a disaster striking their community. It's incredible stuff. If the same thing happened to you what role do you think you would play? I've stepped up to lead before and recognise their description of it, although I'm glad I've not been in such a situation!


2. Next there's a brilliant How Stuff Works episode on How Zero Population Growth Works. It's all good, but the bit about John B Calhoun's 1972 experiment building a mouse utopia (called Universe 25), is fascinating, and if you've got a sci-fi novel in you, it will totally inspire you. It's inspired many before. That bit is at around 20m to go).

3. Third is a collection of TED talks all linked by Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs. This is all good, but special mention must go to Russell Foster, talking about sleep. I am a big fan of sleep. You can see Russell's whole TED talk on the topic here:




4. This episode of Woman's Hour is typical of it's random marvellousness. Women and chess, family and the holocaust, and, brilliantly Robin Rinaldi on her reaction to her husband's unilateral decision to have a vasectomy. It would make an awesome book.


5. I think this is my first suggestion for a podcast from 99% Invisible, and this episode is fascinating, and it features the voice of Roman Mars (which is just the most amazingly macho name I can think of, plus he has an amazing voice, although Google him - he doesn't look macho or amazing!), talking about a military unit which served to hoodwink the Germans to believing that the Allies had more going on than they actually did in WWII. Really good stuff on so many levels, and you'll find it here.


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Saturday, 4 July 2015

quilting!

So Fat Mum Slim writer, Chantelle Elem has had an idea to turn her girls' baby clothes into a quilt.

This is a brilliant idea, to repurpose things that you want to keep, but can't use any more. I love it.


I also loved it when I heard about the woman who had turned a dead man's shirt collection into two beautiful quilts for his bereaved wife and daughter (there's a lovely article in The Guardian, here). Who knew boring old shirts could be rendered so beautiful?


And I loved the blanket that my sister made for her niece/mini me, out of her old T-shirts. It's beautiful, quirky, and individual, and we're never going to forget who made it.





Inspired by my sister's efforts (which are awesome despite being a little random, I decided to chop up my youngest daughter's baby clothes (only the ones with cute patterns, or that were really meaningful), and I made a floor cushion.




To ensure it would tessellate effectively, I cut a large square out of a cereal packet, and used this template where I could get it to fit. I also cut a rectangle, half the size of the square for where it wouldn't fit. The squares meant that the fabric could be turned around, but you could do any straight-sided shape you liked, or even build a picture using the fabric scraps.


I cut the fabric out, leaving about 1cm around the templates, for sewing it together, and then machine stitched it into rows, trying to ensure I kept the fabrics varied. I then stitched the rows together, and finally stitched the whole lot onto a duvet cover which I was amending to repurpose to cover a floor cushion.


I like it all a bit rustic looking, but you may be able to get more professional. Like the gorgeous quilts made out of the shirts. Alternatively, you could just pass the fabric over to someone who does it for a living... They're bound to get a better finish.


At which point I was going to recommend a local business (not much good to you Chantelle, sorry, but it's always good to do), but I can't find the details. Does anyone know the new name for Quilty Secrets?


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Friday, 3 July 2015

on instagram

Are you on Instagram? I love the positivity to be found there, and today I thought I'd share 5 of my favourite things to follow in Instagram.

Happily, it's Instagram, so I can't easily steal my five favourite's images and share them with you. Instead, you'll have to hop over and see for yourself.


These are in the order that I happened across them in my Instagram feed.


1. Tess Holliday

I am pretty sure Tess is still engaged to Mr Holliday, so is still Tess Munster, which in itself, is an awesome name, but the girl is happy, so I'm not going to rain on her parade. Tess' instagram feed is full of pictures of her beautiful self with her fiance, her boy, her friends, her hairdresser (Gay of Thrones, also worth a follow)... lots and lots of pictures of this beautiful girl, who genuinely seems to be blown away at the rapturous welcome she's receiving, because she is totally beautiful, she has been through a lot, and it turns out, t'internet doesn't give two figs if she doesn't fit into some clothes. Go Ms Holliday, and don't ever damp down your sass.


2. Bird Bug Bee



Aly Hodge blogs at Bird, Bug and Bee, and this is her banner - gorgeous isn't it? She is a stylish single parent to three children (which always blows me away), and is a great photographer. She's worth following for flowers, outdoors, and real life, and just good pics.


I took this picture for #myweekofneutrals showing off
my gorgeous new clogs from Lotta from Stockholm
3. It's my week

Every week on 'it's my week' there's a new theme to inspire your photography. Kind of like Fat Mum Slim's Photo-a-day but over a whole week, and you can take as many pictures as you want.


The people who run it also share some of their favourite pictures, and even if the theme isn't to your liking, there are usuallly plenty of inspirational images.


4. The Other Fork in the Road


These are stupendously good images from Tosh's life. A year ago she quit what she was doing and started travelling. She blogs about it (and about suddenly getting 10K followers after Instagram promoted her work (Hi Tosh, I'm one of them)) here. It is an incredibly good blog. She's an engaging and interesting writer. Plus there are lots of great photos.


5. Caboodle Magazine


I don't really do magazines... or at least, I thought I didn't. But if someone fancies getting me a subscription to Caboodle for my birthday I'd be awfy grateful. I love their bright, cheery, home-made style. I also love the word 'caboodle'.



I'm also on Instagram, and I'd love you to check out my pictures (some are on the side of the blog if you're in the web version). I'm Ohwedo. Are you on Instagram? Who are your favourites?

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Thursday, 2 July 2015

mourning the end of Season Five - Game of Thrones*: What happens next?

*Eoian, don't read this. Contains spoilers for end of series 5 plus for all the books published so far.

I mentioned the other day that I love Game of Thrones. I started reading the Song of Ice and Fire books in 2002 because I love reading fantasy novels, but like to wait until the trilogy is complete before I start reading. I just can't bear the waiting.


So that was a mistake, but I am so glad I read it. I remember everything about where I was when Ned Stark got his head chopped off. I had to read it again to check that I hadn't misread. After that I was willing to wait as long as it took to see where this complex and twisting tale would go.


I love the Game of Thrones TV series as well, and am fine with them doing things differently from the books. But now it's got to such an exciting bit - the series has caught up with/gone past the books, and some of the changes are getting interesting.


After finishing watching the last episode my mind was racing as to what is likely to happen to the characters next. I thought I'd share my thoughts. Let me know what you think.



Daenerys

We left Dany in an unfortunate situation of having an entire (very large) khalasar sneak up on her. What will she do?


Well, Dany is obviously going to awesome her way out of this situation (the dragon might help), after a little kidnapping, and kill those that opposed her, taking over the khalasar to take her rightful place as Khaleesi.


She is going to accept that you've got to keep a khalasar moving, and so take them, and the Unsullied over to Westeros, just as soon as Tyrion has learned to ride a dragon... I'm not sure how she's going to get Jon Snow on the other dragon, but suspect it will come after she's taken King's Landing.



Myrcella and Trystane

The sand snakes have killed Myrcella in order to stir up tension between Dorne and King's Landing. They have ordered a large serving, and Jaime is going to bring bloody vengeance to them.


Trystane meanwhile is free to explore other romantic options, and I suspect Prince Doran will send him to Mereen to find a certain Targaryen queen, with Areo Hotah at his side. There I fear he will try to ride a dragon and get burnt to a crisp.



Cersei

With Uncle Kevan back at Kings Landing I suspect that Cersei will be sent back to Casterley Rock in disgrace. However, she will escape having to go by having Uncle Kevan killed, no doubt in collaboration with Qyburn and Robert Strong.


She and Qyburn shall then attempt to control Tommen, guarded unceasingly by Robert Strong to keep him away from Margaery, and ostensibly to keep him safe, while Cersei goes mad with grief for the loss of Myrcella, and becomes more and more protective of Tommen. Her rivalry with Margaery will ramp up, but Lady Olleana has been pushed too far and may prove Cersei's undoing.



Stannis and Melisandre

Stannis Baratheon is dead, and the legitimate line of Baratheons is ended. Brienne has sentenced him to death and carried out the sentence herself, which is fitting for someone at Winterfell.


Melisandre knew the battle as a lost cause and got out of there before it happened, swiftly travelling to the wall, allegedly to tell them of the defeat, but really to seek out her new best bet: Jon Snow.


Sansa and Theon

In jumping from the walls of Winterfell with Theon has Sansa jumped out of the role of Jeyne Poole? In the books, Jeyne gets a frostbitten nose, causing nasty scarring, and is travelling up to see Jon Snow at the wall. In the show though, Brienne and Podrick are about, looking out of Sansa, and the makeup required for a frostbitten nose makes it seem unlikely. So, what will happen? 


I think Theon will break a leg landing in the snow, and providing Sansa with a soft landing. The pair will meet Brienne, who will help put a plan into place to kill the Boltons and put the Stark back in Winterfell. Brienne has been talking with local people and thinks that White Harbour is the place to go, but Sansa wishes to see her brother at the wall, and Theon is to join the Night's Watch in penance for his crimes.



Arya

Over in Braavos, Arya Stark is blind, but it's not permanent, and it will help in her training to be a faceless woman. She will gradually lose her list, learning to trust in Death, as all men must die.


Balon Greyjoy is still alive in the TV series, so I suspect that Arya may be dispatched as her first mission, to push him from a bridge. Perhaps while she's in the iron islands she could catch up with some other characters. What's Asha/Yara up to? When Balon dies there will be a power vacuum which could be of interest.


Ramsey

Ramsey will send a letter to Jon Snow, bragging about defeating Stannis, and asking Jon to return his sister, Ramsey's wife to him, as well as his servant, Reek. The letter will arrive before Sansa and Theon do, and will miss Jon Snow who might have told Brienne and Podrick secret ways into the castle, that they might return and kill Roose and Ramsey in their beds.


Without that information, Brienne, Sansa, and Podrick will go to White Harbour for support.



Jon Snow

Jon is dead. But so was Beric Dondarion, and happily Melisandre is on hand to revive him. Will he stay at the wall? Or take over the Lady Stoneheart role? It's doubtful he'll still need to keep his vows, having died; and it's unlikely he could remain as Lord Commander, but he will still see the threat from The Others. Perhaps now he'll have greater insight into them? I suspect that Melisandre will request his body and spirit him away to the Night Fort, where Bran will be able to communicate with him through the magic door. Jon will secretly meet with the remaining Wildlings who will help him in his battle against The Others.


So what do you think is going to happen next?


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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

moving on from June: The weather project

"You know, I control the weather with my moods. I just can't control my moods is all." - Nick Cave in 20,000 Days on Earth (2014)

I would like to apologise on behalf of June.


I admit that I was hopeful early on. It did definitely feel warmer than May...


...but that wasn't hard.


June was slightly warmer than May, and did have some nice days.


But I bought season tickets to local castles imagining daily picnics! Instead, the little girl and I have spent the last term of her going to nursery watching DVDs and moaning about rain.


Halfway through June, around about the time when I walked down to fat club of a Saturday morning in my coat, wondering if I might not have some gloves in my pocket, and thinking that I couldn't remember the last June when I'd been able to see my breath: Did that mean I had a temperature?.. There were newspaper articles claiming that this was the coldest June in 40 years. My initial thought was that I could believe it, but then I realised that I was alive 40 years ago, and wasn't 1975 rather a nice summer?



So I checked Dad's photo archive (I am so glad we have Dad's photo archive - thank you for spending the time to scan all those pictures in, Dad), and found this photo of me laughing my socks off at the fact my mother is virtually naked in the front garden (she wouldn't actually have been naked in the front garden, but my mother does rock a bikini)! It was sunny, so 1975 must have been a good summer. Right? Right. It was a lovely warm, dry summer. In 1976 it snowed in Birmingham in June, but the coldest June in 39 years doesn't scan as well, eh?

Should we just give up then? Is this summer just going to be mainly rubbish? Well, we can appreciate that the rain is warmer than normal. When it's sunny it's chuffing gorgeous, and who gives a monkeys because school's out for seven weeks and we no longer care about the 3pm rain. But the weather is going to get better too. Probably. Fingers crossed.


How's the weather with you? 


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