Saturday, March 29, 2014

Monster, Baby


At the checkout desk:

Toddler #1 [holding a DVD]: “I like baby monster. I like it a lot.”

Toddler #2: “I like baby monster, too.”

Mother [to me]: “They mean Baby Mozart.”

Toddler #1: “Baby Mostarrr.”

Toddler #2: “Baby Monzter.”

Me [to toddlers]: “I like it better your way, little guys.”

via Tumblr

Friday, March 28, 2014

"“How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: don’t talk to your daughter about her body,..."

“How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works. Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.

If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:

“You look so healthy!” is a great one.

Or how about, “you’re looking so strong.”

“I can see how happy you are – you’re glowing.”

Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.

Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.

Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.

Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.

Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.

Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.

Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.

Teach your daughter how to cook kale.

Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.

Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.

Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.

Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.


(via ittaco)

wow well this made me fucking bawl my eyes out

(via bewarethefrozen-heart)


via Tumblr

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lent 22: Laughing

Write a letter to the person who made you laugh when you really needed it.

Dear Friends,

It had been a hard week. Church politics, busy times at work. I'd been feeling drained. So tired.

So I wasn't really looking forward to being polite all evening whilst I sat through more board games.


You're all so welcoming, so eager to make me feel included. The food was tasty and gradually I started to unwind.

Then you brought out the trump card. Cards Against Humanity.

This is definitely a game you can only play with good friends. It is not, and I repeat not, one to play with your parents.

If you've not played it before, well, how would I even begin to describe it? The card czar reads a question like " I was late to work because..."  from a pile of black cards and we have to use one of our ten white cards to finish the statement, or answer the question. One of the very first white cards I picked up was "Queen Elizabeth II's immaculate anus" And that's one of the cleaner ones.

Everyone submits their answers face down, and the card czar then reads them out in turn, picking a winner. The winner gets points, the most points wins. The card czar rotates each round, so we all had a turn at reading out the stupid, crass, rude and hiliarious statements.

And how I laughed. Laughed and laughed and laughed. Tears streaming from my face as the statements got closer to the bone and sillier and sillier. We were certainly spoilt by having two very good mimics in the group, who when card czar would put on great voices to read the statements.

I think I fell off my chair laughing.

It was certainly what the doctor ordered that week.

So thank you nice friends.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lent 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

Lent 17: Entertaining

Plan a party

Tom and I were talking about this just the other day. Where he's been away, we've not done our usual gamut of entertaining. But I like to think our predilection for it is rubbing off on others. Friday often see us traipsing around Southampton to a different friends house for food and games and laughter.

It doesn't have to be big, or fancy. It's normally a simple pasta bake or takeaway. But I love being with people.

I'd still like a party later in the year though. I'd like a summer afternoon garden party, where people can drop in and out. Where the BBQ is going and the pink fizzy wine is chilled and people are laughing and lazing outside.

Will work on that.

Lent 18: Listening

Listen to your inner child: what does she want to do today?

I want to play with a friend today. Fortunately, this will happen, as Nicky is coming over to learn how to knit, and I have the ingredients all ready to go for a Greek feast for dinner.

What do you hear when you hear silence?

There's the buzz of computers, and the chatter of typing and the whirr of a strimmer outside.

I can just hear birds chirping too.

Lent 19: Sharing

This prompt suggesting sharing one of my blog posts with someone else and discussing it. I think I've already covered this one, as some of the lovely ladies at church have found this blog through Facebook and have been reading along - *waves*

We talked about children's books and which ones I loved that they had read to their children.

Lent 20: Charming

Be your best self and turn on the charm to make someone feel extra special.

I love charm. I think it's underated. It's like the oil that keeps the wheels of the world running smoothly. When I think of all the people who annoy me, it's usually because they have no charm, tact or diplomacy.

 I know honesty is the best policy et al, but I think you can be honest in a charming way.

I will never be a great beauty, or a have great power, but I know how to use charm to work a room, and control a crowd. Charm helps when consulting with people, charm helps when in a meeting to bring people with you and get what you want.

But how to be charming? It's being gracious, listening to others, smiling, thinking before you speak, paying attention, observing and responding in a way you would want others to respond to you.

Lent 21: Surprising

This prompt wants me to surprise the neighbours. I don't know if I'll manage it tonight, but I like the idea of leaving flowers on their doorstep!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Feeling loved

Wearing shoes from Martin, and shrug crocheted by Lula.

Thanks Todd and Adam for evening of food, laughter and figure skating movies. X

Lent 16: Giving

What is the most surprising gift you’ve ever gotten?

I think the most startling gift I have ever been given was the generosity shown by some people we barely knew for our honeymoon.

We met the pair at an SCM event, just after we got engaged. They said "Oh you must stay in our holiday house in Co. Leitrim for your honeymoon"

We liked the idea of a slightly more local honeymoon, and so when we returned, we emailed them, thinking we'd pay towards it. They said no, no, just come and stay! 

So flights were booked, and we drove to their other house in Ireland to pick up the key. When we arrived, we were treated to a tour of the house and gardens, and a bag was produced, and we were told to pick what we liked from the vegetable garden to feed ourselves for the week.

Once inside the house, there was a another bag with groceries like bread, butter and cheese to add to the vegetables.

But it didn't stop there. We shared a delicious lunch and then it was said "Oh, we have a wedding present for you".

A wedding present? After the offer of the holiday house, and the groceries, and the vegetables and the lunch? 

It was a beautiful watercolour of the view from the holiday house, created by a local artist.

So we'd always have a reminder of our honeymoon.

I nearly fell off my chair.

To give and give and give and give some more, to some youngsters you met once at a random event.

It blew me away. I know it deeply affected Tom too. Such an example of love and neverending kindness. God's love in action?

It's certainly changed the way I want to act. I want to give, and give and give some more too. It made our lives so much easier not having to worry too much about our honeymoon when we were trying to sort the wedding. I want to help other people like that too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Top Down Raglan Pullover-Metric

Top Down Raglan Pullover-Metric:

Useful to remember for Tom’s jumper

via Tumblr

Lent 14: Reading

Did you like to read as a child? Do you read more or less now? What were your favourite books?

I loved reading as a child. Loved it. I'd read under the covers with a torch. I trained myself to read in the car so I wouldn't feel sick. I'd read in the bath and get in trouble for dropping library books in the water - I don't remember much washing in the bath once I was old enough to be left alone!

Richard Scarry's Tinker and Tanker was a favourite as a tiny, making my dad do the voices. If we have kids, it's one I want to hear him read to them. The hippo has to have the squeaky voice, and the rabbit the deep one. I loved Mr. Magnolia Has Only One Boot and Spot the Dog too.

I loved curling up in bed to be read to. Before breakfast we'd sneak into Mum and Dad's bed. Dad would be snoring, and Mum would read to us girls. Dodie Smith's 101 Dalmatians springs to mind.

I remember the thrill of going to the library and rummaging through shelves and boxes of books for good ones. Being moved off the reading scheme at the infants school, and reading Stig of the Dump from the library shelves. It was a paperback without pictures, and it had an earthy smell to the pages - musty I suppose now, but exotic then.

At Junior school I read the Scarlet Pimpernel, and books about historical fashion, and discovered if you liked one book by an author you might like another.

As a precocious year 8 I picked Pride and Prejudice for a book project. Reading it back as an adult, I understand far more of the humour. I read lots of James Heriot, and classic scifi like Ray Bradbury. Trashy chick-lit and anything. Anything I could get my hands on. I love falling into a story. Caring about the characters. Learning about people's ways of living.

As an adult, the history put paid to reading for pleasure for a while. Hard to stop reading and taking notes once you're in the habit. I do read less now. More online, less books. I have some old favourites I'll read every year, Chocolat, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, The Floating Book, The Red Tent. Tom always buys me some excellent peice of non-fiction for birthdays or Christmas.

But I feel I should read more again - and I feel like novels at the moment. What would you recommend?

Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul. -Pope John XXIII

Lent 15: Receiving

List some things you received today. Did you consciously accept these gifts?

Today I received :

A lie in because I could work from home.

Time out of my busy day to exercise.

A really lovely dinner and evening with Todd and Adam.

I feel I consciously recieved these because I am aware of them. 

Thinking back, I also had lovely weather on my run. I recieved thanks for my hard work from clients too.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lent 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

I did go on my adventure. I went to town last week after work, parked up in a different place from normal and went on a long walk around the city centre, going down streets I'd not walked down before. I noticed glowing neon signs, a family run Greek restaurant that looks like it's not changed since the 1950s and snippets of Georgian architecture amidst chunks of 1960s concrete.

Lent 8: Creating
Have you ever astonished yourself by what you created? What did you learn from it?

I love creating. I love making. I want to own the title 'Maker' I like how it feels to make it myself. I astonished myself when I made my King and I dress - mum bought me the fabric, patterns and notions and said - you can make this, and I did. It involved elasticated puffed off the shoulder sleeve with the elastic hidden from view. My first piece of serious dress making.

I astonished myself when I made a patchwork quilt for the first time - how satisfying it was to make, how lovely it looked when I finished. It was one of the first things I made where the end product was as satisfying as the process. I wanted to keep the finished object.

I astonished myself with Tom's Robin costume - it came out looking so good! So professional.

What have I learnt? To take things slowly and concentrate on the finish. Bind the seams. Pink the edges. 

Lent 9: Inspiring

Ask someone you love to show you what inspires them.
Ask someone you love what you have done to inspire them.

 I will come back to you on this one!

Lent 10: Loving

Write some affirmations for yourself. Post some pictures of those you love.

I am loved. I am working hard. I have lots to give. I have happiness.

Lent 11: Dreaming

What is your personal dream? What would happen if your dream came true? Have you ever had a dream come true? Have you ever had to let go of a dream?

I dream of a big house filled with friends and family eating. If it came true, I would be very happy indeed. We would need to move to make this dream come true, and possibly start our own family.

I can't think of a specific dream that has come true. There are fragments here and there. Drinking prosecco in a lakeside cafe in Italy. Driving along in a soft top car with the roof down with big sunglasses on. Dancing all night in a swirly skirt to a live band.

I let go of the dream of doing post graduate study. When I was at university, I thought this would be my future. But when the time came, I didn't have the money, I didn't want to move to Durham. So I stayed in Southampton and got a job. Whilst I didn't enjoy every day of that job, it gave me the skills for my current job, which I adore, and am good at. And so it feels like everything worked out.

Lent 12: Procrastinating

What are you putting off? What bad things would happen if you stopped making excuses and tackled something today?

I am putting off vacuuming the living room and doing exercise. I will try and tackle both of these today. Keeping the house up together is hard when you're working full time, but my cleaner will be back next week! Woo! 

Exercising is a long term battle with me. The only exercise I like is dancing. I'm going to be doing that with Lula again going forward, but not for a fortnight. So I need something in the interim. I will try and do my pilates video tonight.

Maybe that should be a goal? One bit of cleaning and one bit of exercise every day?

Lent 13:  Beginning

Look for chances to begin. Hidden new opportunities every day.
Have you ever just quit something… without regret?

Depending on time, I will be beginning my new dress making project this week. I am beginning to rework the garden.
I quit a contemporary dance class. I wasn't enjoying it. I was the oldest lumpiest person in the class, and I was so out of practice that it just wasn't fun. So I quit - and immediately it felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lent 7: Playing

So, I didn't go home and clean my kitchen. I realised I had no commitments and it was my Mum's birthday, so I drove to Westbury to see her.

I was so glad I did. She and my dad were really pleased to see me, and I was another person who'd dropped in like many others that day to say hello to Mum on her birthday. I'd stopped for cake when I filled up the car with diesel, and ended up bringing profiteroles, crisps, beetroot dip and hummus to the party.

One of Mum's longstanding friends and her daughter joined us much later in the eve, and we had a lovely evening jabbering away and helping my dad with his essay.

I'm very very glad I didn't clean my kitchen. I love my parents very much.

Lent 7: Playing.

What were your favorite games as a child? What did you like to do with your classmates or the neighborhood kids? How did that affect the person you grew to become?

I loved make believe games as a child. Pretending to be a shopkeeper, or Laura from Little House on the Prairie. There was this one game I would play with Amey, called Cousin Suzy, about a glamourous older teenage cousin, all of 19(!), who would come pick us up in her limo and take us to parties.

I used to spend ages playing horses with Natalie Zoe and Jenny in the playground, each section of the school wall another stable.

Erica and I would force our siblings to dress up and put on lengthy plays for our long suffering parents.

All this imagining certainly fostered my creativity today. I'm good at picturing things and plans and how they may work. I'm still certainly very happy to dress up and pretend with little people. I love fancy dress parties.

A flip side of all this, that Tom and his friends suffer through is that I'm not over fond of board games. My dad loves them, and we would play as a family. But Dad is really competitive. And so I wouldn't win very often. Sure, when I did, the sense of satisfaction was immense. But I know I don't enjoy things I'm not good at. I know this means I don't persist with new things if I'm not showing promise at them right away. Board games are like this. I never used to win, so they weren't that fun.

And now, when Tom and his friends while away their evenings having a lovely time playing board games, they always politely ask if I want to play, and I decline. Knowing I won't enjoy it. I'd much rather sit and knit and watch them play. They take it all so seriously. Perhaps that's what I object to? So much effort into something with no tangible result? I'm a maker after all.

But that can't be it, because give me a creative game like Flux, or Cards Against Humanity, or the Marmer Game, or Contact or Hunt the Thimble anywhere in time and space and I love it.

So there you go.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lent 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Right, being on holiday scuppered my other plans, and meant I couldn't do some of the Radvent challenges.

Lent 2: Organising.

I'm fairly organised in terms of real life planning, especially after the invention of Google Calender et al, that remind me on my phone about things and let me share plans with Tom.

I'm rubbish at keeping my house clutter free. I know roughly where everything is, but I just end up with piles and piles of stuff.

I've made a start by clearing out some clothes that don't fit or I no longer wear from my wardrobe, after spending a year using the "If I wear it put it one end of the wardrobe, put things I don't wear the other" It made choosing easy, just looked at the left side of the wardrobe and went, "Nah, doesn't fit, don't like it...." so if you're a 12 - 14, and want first dibs, let me know, otherwise it's all going to the charity shop.

I'm going to deep clean the kitchen tonight when I get in too - I know, so glamorous.

Lent 3: Writing

Write a love letter to yourself in one year

This is the kind of thing I find very hard, because like most people I think, I'm not that fond of myself most of the time.

Dear Alex,

You are loved. Whilst I can't predict how 2014 went for you, I know you will have been loved. By your husband, your friends, your family.

I know that you don't feel like you work hard enough or achieve enough, but I want you to know that you will have always tried your best, even if it doesn't always feel that way, because you care deeply about doing the right thing.

Take some time to plan an epic party with all your friends, because nothing makes you happier than eating and drinking and chatting and laughing with those you love.



Lent 4: Forgiveness

Who and what are you ready to let go of resentment towards?

Again another toughy. I like to think of myself as a person who doesn't hold grudges. But here it goes.

I want to let go of my resentment towards old school friends who've had children. Just because I'm not in the place to have kids yet, and I don't know if I can have any doens't mean I should feel resentful of their lives. Given how little I talk to them, and how little I know about their lives, I don't know if they chose to have kids, wanted them and so on and so forth.

I want to let go of resentment towards friends that have decided they don't want to see us anymore. There are a couple of people in particular who don't keep in touch, or want to come out any more, and it hurts. I want to reach a place where I'm ok with that, and be happy that they're happy doing new things.

Lent 5: Rocking out

Sounds of my year so far.

Blog, you know I'm not one for music. I shall give you but one song.

Lent 6: Adventuring

This is about doing something new - depending on what time I get, I may go adventuring this evening on my own, or I shall try and do so this week. I shall report back. Hold me to this.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Lent 1 Remembering

Using Megan's Radvent series as prompt. Lent and Advent are the same right?

Where were you five years ago?

2009 or 2010 depending on how you count.

March 2009, I was living in the Palace, working for the web design company. Tom had just asked me to move in with him. I was creating lots. I was nervous and excited about the future.

March 2010. I was living at the Curry house and planning our wedding. Still working at the web design company. Trying to raise money to save the chaplaincy and starting to get involved at Church. Still creating.

I don't remember much detail. Long hours at work, cycling across Southampton, plenty of parties, travelling to France, redecorating the Curry house, marveling at building a home with Tom. Deciding the world of sales wasn't for me. Having three jobs at one point.

Some very painful moments. Some very proud moments. 

Saturday, March 01, 2014

knittedart: Four projects knitted by our very own Ángela Gómez...


Four projects knitted by our very own Ángela Gómez Ortega / Quatre projets tricotés par notre Ángela Gómez Ortega

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Love this

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