Wednesday, 30 September 2009

What's in a name?

Having the babies here this week has been great so far. Although I do feel a little bad for them; they are outdoor cats and I feel kind of mean that they're here in the flat and can't go out and play. They make their own mischief though, the favourite currently being to climb up on to the shelving units and then watch as I freak out trying to get them off without it resulting in everything falling off and breaking.

It's been over this week though that I've realised that we call them by a number of different variations on their names. In fact it's very rarely that we called them by their actual names. So I have come up with a list of the varying names we call them....

PRESENTING: THE FRED. Also known as.....

Freddie Fredster
Frederick The Ginger Whinger

Frederico Most beautiful boy

Little Boy Ready Fred Go


PRESENTING: THE LILY. Also known as.....

Lily-Billy Bee-Bop Billy-Bob Thornton

The Bilster

Billy Bobskin Slinky Minxy

Billy Little Girl

The Bilmonster

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Would you like a side of child with that?

A while ago I vowed to become a better family member and staying true to my word I arranged to go and see my brother. I was duly booked in to the diary for a month in advance. How privileged I felt. (Stop it, you're supposed to be nice person!) Anyway off the boyfriend and I went to York this weekend to see my brother and his family, including my youngest nephew, who's about 18 months old.

Now I’ve been an Auntie since I was 13 years old which is good because it’s been fun being a young aunt but has also meant that I’ve had the best natural contraceptive you could ever get. Seeing my sister pregnant and dealing with my nephews was all I ever needed to see to bring it screaming home to me that kids. are. hard. work.

Now , from time to time, my mind turns to the babies. I have friends that now have them and when my brother and sister were my age they both had children. Maybe I’m getting ready?


My brother and his wife are shadows of their former selves. They’re having a nightmare with my littlest nephew who is currently refusing to sleep through the night, having the most horrendous temper tantrums over the smallest things and just generally being a pain in the backside. They admitted that at the moment they can’t go out anywhere because they couldn’t inflict him on anyone to look after. And if they do go out they can’t drink and have a bit of a laugh because dealing with him plus a hangover is a no-go.

This all rang bells with me. Last week as I lay dying on the settee wanting to peel my skin off because I felt so bad it did actually cross my mind. What would you do if you had a child right now? How would you cope? The answer is not very well, considering that a trip to Asda on that day nearly led me to have a nervous breakdown.

I’m also not sure that I’m ready to become one of those parents. You know the ones I mean. The ones who can only talk about their child and believe that you are as fascinated by their bowel movements as they are. The boyfriend and I sat through what felt like 4 hours of holiday footage at my brother’s which consisted of my youngest nephew eating ice cream, dancing to a song, sitting I love him to bits but that’s a little bit too much for me. And you run out of encouraging noises to make after the first 20 minutes.

Add those feelings together and I think I have my answer really don’t I?

Not. Ready.

Also how could I ever think I could be ready to pro-create when I have trouble managing these two furry people?! They’re actually kind of similar, I have enough trouble with them keeping me up at night, and wrecking the flat generally – if this is a simulation I think I’ve failed!

(But then I could probably bore people senseless with videos and pictures of these two....)

Friday, 25 September 2009

Things I love about my house....Part 3


In the September of 2005 I returned to Manchester to being my Masters degree. At the time I had a thousand things running through my head, one of the main ones being fear.
The primary source of my fear?

I was moving into Halls of Residence for the first time since my first year at uni. That first year hadn't been too bad, I met people that I'm still good friends with now, but there were some freaks. And that's putting it mildly. So I entered new home with a certain sense of trepidation...

Luckily I was fine. I was the first person in the flat. Hurrah. I could stake the place out and settle down to wait for my first housemate.

I met my first housemate early the next morning. Because I was the only one in the flat I decided to put the chain on the door. And didn't take it off when I woke up. I woke up to the flat door banging noisily, it was my flatmate.

And he was American.

He went down the stairs and I got on the phone to my Mum. "Oh my god I have an American living with me" I whispered urgently down the phone. "Oooooooh" came Mum's reply. Much the same as if I'd told her I was living with a unicorn.

I couldn't think about it, I had a busy day ahead of me so off I toddled.

I met my next housemate later that evening. As I was coming up the stairs I was confronted with a large Primark quilt with a pair of legs behind it. It was my next housemate.
She was American.

I panicked. But my fears were soon allayed. I can't remember how it happened but they ended up outside my door and we talked for like an hour. I have no idea why it never occured to us to go downstairs in to the lounge or why I didn't invite them in to my room. We covered a range of topics, including baseball I believe. I decided they weren't so bad.
I was wrong.

It wasn't that they weren't so bad. They were absolutely bloody brilliant. (see what I did there?!)

For the next year there were plenty of nights out, but there were also a hell of a lot of nights in. Nights spend sat in the lounge, eating crisps and drinking beer/wine or multiple cups of tea and watching tv and DVDs.

The West Wing formed a staple part of our DVD diet (see I got around to it eventually!). I'd become hooked on it when it first came on TV but the second series coincided with my 1st year at uni and I never got around to watching it and then Channel 4 started buggering around with the schedule so that it would disappear and reappear in random time slots on different days. So I began getting the DVDs when they went on sale (I liked it but not enough to spend £70 per series on it!).

We watched The West Wing morning, noon and night. We worked our way through from beginning to almost the end (I didn't get series 7 until I'd left Manchester and had to watch that on my own). Sometimes we'd watch one episode. Sometimes 4 in a row. Sometimes you'd come in and watch a bit of one and then leave and come back later and watch some more.

So not only do I love the show itself (I'm currently making the boyfriend watch it) but it is a reminder of one of the best years of my life and of my American friends who I last saw in April 2008.

Can you even begin to comprehend my excitement yesterday when I found out that they're coming to England? Can you? CAN YOU?!

The countdown begins...

(why yes, I was bored at work today)

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Guess who's coming to stay?

In t-minus 4 days?

For a whole week.


Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Bring on the muffins!!

After making the apple crumble at the weekend I remembered that I quite liked this baking malarkey and stomped in to the kitchen to see what took my fancy.

I still hadn't tried anything from my Hummingbird Baking cookbook which I got for the rather bargainous price of £4 (it's about £12 in the shops so saved myself plenty of pennies). Everything in it looks so good and I would love to go and visit the bakery down in the London place but until then I decided to content myself with having a go at some muffins.

I went for the hazelnut & chocolate muffins, which I almost passed by until a quick glance down the list of ingredients revealed just what was in these bad boys. The one and only Nutella!! (Or if you're cheap like me, generic hazelnut and chocolate spread from your local supermarket.)

They came out so well, I was so pleased with myself. They are probably the finest looking muffins I have ever produced. Usually my muffins look like they've been hit by a car or that they've been made with the help of a 3 year old but these were great. Perfect shape and lovely neat icing. I should have got some hazelnuts to decorate the tops with but I was too lazy I'm afraid.
The recipe said it would make 12 cupcakes and a note in the front of the book says that they are based on American cupcake sizes so to use muffin cases. Now I did and I only got 6 muffins. Maybe I have super large cases?! Who knows. Either way it was probably for the best as this way there's only been 6 to scoff instead of 12!
I present to you - Hazelnut and chocolate cupcakes

100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140g caster sugar
1.5 tsps baking powder
pinch of salt
40g butter
120ml whole milk
1 egg
6 tbsps of Nutella
(whole, shelled hazelnuts to decorate)

175g icing sugar
40g butter
30ml whole milk
80g Nutella

- Preheat overn to 170c
- Put in flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter and beat until everything is combined
- Slowly pour the milk into the mixture, beating well until everything is combined. Add the egg and beat well.
- Spoon mixture into cases until two-thirds full and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until sponge bounces back when touched.
- When the cupcakes are cold, hollow out a small section in the centre of each one and fill with dollop of the Nutella, before placing the top back on (it will stick up a bit but don't worry, it's going to get covered in icing!)

For the frosting:
- Beat icing sugar and butter together (my god be careful, the whole kitchen was covered in icing sugar powder by the time I was finished!). Slowly pour in the milk and continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy. The longer you beat the lighter and fluffier it becomes.
- Stir in the Nutella by hand until evenly mixed into the frosting. Then spoon over the top and finish with the hazelnuts.

Et voila! Eat to your heart's content!!

Monday, 21 September 2009

How to cure a hangover.

You might have guessed from my last post that I was the tiniest bit hungover on Saturday this weekend. I should have known it was going to happen, my last words to the boyfriend as I left to go to the pub was "I won't be late".

I mean it really all depends on your definition of late. In between finishing my undergraduate degree and starting my Masters degree I spent a year back in Hull, working to fund the upcoming degree. I did work all the time but I also went out all the time and 'late' by my definition meant about 4am.

2am was just a regular old coming in time. But whatever...

I have tried and tested many hangover remedies in my time. I think I hit on some quite good ones this weekend.

1. The crisp method

A very good tried and tested method of old. I rely heavily on this remedy, to the extent that I will make sure that I have crisps in the house before I go out. I'm pretty sure there is a medical explanation that backs me up on this one. Something about salt. Although I thought that a hangover is caused by dehydration and I thought salt dehydrated you....anyway I'm no Dr but I know I felt rough and half way down a big bag of bacon rashers I felt a hell of a lot better.

2. The good boyfriend method

He did his job well this weekend. No berating or laughing at me for the state that I was in. He supplied me with bacon in the morning, bacon rashers mid-morning, left me to sleep in the afternoon, sorted out dinner in the evening, put in (and unloaded) two rounds of washing and was generally wonderful.

3. The something to keep you occupied method

I felt too tired for reading, I didn't think I'd be able to concentrate on what was going on. So I decided for my fall-back 'keeping me occupied habit'. Cross stitch. The stitch of cross. And it did keep me occupied. Oh and by the way, Christmas has already begun in this household...

4. The baking method

Definitely one to try only if you're not feeling queasy. Luckily the hangover was not on the borderline of vomiting so late afternoon I decided that it was time to get in the kitchen. I needed to feel as if I'd been productive and hadn't wasted an entire day. Also Autumn is most definitely in the air and I needed something comforting to keep me feeling warm. However I was well aware that I wasn't up for a grand design so I went for the easiest thing I can do - a bit of apple crumble.

Add all those together and you will have your hangover cured.

(you could possibly need the help of some paracetemol during the day)

Saturday, 19 September 2009

2 + 2 = ??


Multiplied by 10


Me lying on the sofa moaning and groaning and demanding the boyfriend supply me with crisps and Coke.

(But it was a good night)

Friday, 18 September 2009

Things I love about my house....Part 2



I blogged a long time ago about the amount of junk that got offloaded on us when we first moved in to the flat.
This little baby was the exception.
We were round at the boyfriend's parent's house, discussing all the things that we needed before we moved in. I was happily making my lists and shouting things out as they came to me.

"Oh my god, a hoover! We don't have a hoover!" I exclaimed (unthinkable for a clean freak like me).

The boyfriend's grandma piped up, "I've got a hoover you can have. I've had it a while and haven't used it lately but it still works fine".

Problem solved.

When we went to pick it up my eyes nearly fell out of my head...

Talk about vintage!!

We of course gratefully accepted and took it to the flat with us.

"There's no way I'm plugging that in, we'll blow the eletrics in the entire place", I said.

Until we could figure out what to do with it I stuck it in the alcove just as you come in the front door. But it drew such gasps of admiration (and laughter) from visitors that I wouldn't dream of getting rid of it.
So he has officially become antique corner. And long may he stay there.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

My city

I don't know what it is about Manchester that makes me love it so much. Maybe everyone feels this way about the city they went to university to. Is it Piccadilly Gardens? Is it the plethora of shops? Is it the humongous Waterstones on Deansgate? Is it the trams? Is it walking round Harvey Nichols and laughing at how expensive some of the clothes are? Is it the random cafes and delis that you stumble upon when wandering down the back streets? Is it Rusholme and its mile of curry houses? Is it the random mix of poeple that live/visit the town centre? Is it the memories of the 4 amazing years I spent there?

It's probably a mix of everything but whatever it is it keeps me coming back and wanting more.

I would love to live there and hopefully one day I'll achieve my aims and find myself tramping its streets. Until then I'll make sure that my remaining friends never leave so that I can keep coming coming back for more.

I'd been a good girl and saved my pennies for our trip to see Coldplay. I can't go to Manchester and not buy myself a little treat can I?!

I picked up this gorgeous little clutch bag, made from leather from a stall near Piccadilly Gardens. I took a ridiculously long time deciding which bag to buy, much to the exasperation of the boyfriend who stood by, silently begging me to just pick one and have done with it. I love it - especially as I know I'm unlikely to run in to anyone in Hull with the same bag.

No trip to Manchester is complete without a visit to the Waterstones on Deansgate. I have a self-imposed book ban, owing to the 40 or 50 books that line my bookshelves still watiing to be read but I'm allowed to buy on special occasions. And if a trip to Manchester to see Coldplay isn't a special occasion then I don't know what is.

I've been eyeing up this book for ages but haven't allowed myself to buy it because it's in hardback and I don't really need it. But it looks so beautiful that I had to buy it really. I promise I'll read it next...
Another thing I love about Manchester? PAPERCHASE. If you're obsessed with stationary like me then this is your mecca. I got a funky little notebook - it is much needed - sometimes I get bored at work and when that happens and my mind wanders, blog topics come to me and I need to scribble down my ideas. (Does anyone else do that?!) So this little notebook is offiically my new blog book.
I'm hoping to get the time to go back to Manchester in October/November for my annual pre-Christmas shopping trip. The lights add something magical to the normal exhilarating experience and I know that Paperchase will be on hand to provide me with fun wrapping paper and quirky Christmas decorations.
And this time I will find someone to go on the Manchester eye with me...

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Freedom Festival '09

My fair city comes in for more than its fair share of stick. Whenever anyone talks about it, it is usually in connection with something horrendous. Some of the proudest achievements have been:
- obese capital of England
- highest teenage pregnancy rate
- worst schools
- highest numbers of unemployed people
I could continue but I won't because it' s too depressing.

Oh wait.
I thought of another one.

When Crap Towns was published, Hull was voted Number 1. And that was by its own residents.


What no-one ever hears are the good things about Hull and if you live here it gets intensely annoying and boring constantly hearing that the city you call home is rubbish.

I mean, come on. We have:
- A football club in the Premier League
- 2 rugby league clubs in the Superleague
- The World's only Submarium (I'll leave you to look that one up later)
- beautiful parks and green spaces
- our very own train services connecting us to London in 2 hours
And loads more I can't even think of anymore. In short, Hull is ace.

And to demonstrate this aceness this weekend saw the 2nd annual Freedom Festival take place.
Bit of background for you - William Wilberforce, who was instrumental in the abolition of slavery in Britain was an MP for Hull (yet another reason why we are ace). Hull has also been the launch site for the annual Clipper Race for the past couple of years. The Clipper Race is a big bunch of yachts from round the world that are sailed by non-professional sailors in a race (basically, there's probably more to it than that).

The Clipper Race was starting on Sunday 13th and the celebrations included a display by the Red Arrows. The Freedom Festival ran over 2 days and featured performances by:
- Pixie Lott
- Peter Andre
- The Saturdays
- Basshunter
- Aleesha Dixon
- Patrick Wolf
- Florence + the Machine
To name but a few.

Oh and did I mention that the entire event was FREE?

I got increasingly giddy as I read about the plans for the weekend. It was going to be amazing, just what Hull needed etc etc. So imagine my complete and utter dismay when I realised that I wasn't going to be here because I already had tickets to see Coldplay in Manchester.

Truth be told I still can't believe my bad luck and whenever someone tells me about it I kind of want to cry and stamp my feet at the unfairness of it all.

I was determined not to be completely left out and when we came back from Manchester on Sunday I allowed time for a nap and food before dragging the boyfriend into town to see the one band I really wanted to see - Florence + the Machine.

I managed to time it perfectly and we walked into Queens Gardens just as the soundcheck was finishing. We were stood quite far back - I think we'd both had our fill of crowd activity for one weekend (plus we're both pretty tall people and we'd only piss people off by standing in front of them!).

Listening to Florence Welch as the sky gradually turned to black was an amazing experience. Her voice is so difficult to describe - she has an incredible power that allows her to belt out songs and yet at the same time an ethereal fragility when her voice soars to the top notes. She reminded me an lot of Alison Goldfrapp's voice - I remember being totally blown away when I went to see Goldfrapp at uni.

They played a pretty long set for a free gig, they were on for a good half an hour or more. I was a little lost at times because I don't have the album, Lungs. She also performed her version of Candi Staton's You've Got The Love that she sang at T4's Party on the Beach. That went down a storm.

When she finished, the festival was officially over and the boyfriend and I made our way back home. I don't know that he's a massive fan but I'm pleased I stuck to my guns and dragged him there. After all, I can't complain one minute that I'm not doing enough with my life and then turn down a free gig can I?

So there ended my musical weekend, whcih spanned from American rap to English rock to quirky, fairy-dancing, gut-wrenching howling (in a good way though ok?!).

And there ended the weekend that proved that Hull isn't so crap after all.

(If you wanted to find out more about the Freedom Festival you could look here, or here, or HERE)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Viva la Vida

When I was in 6th form I heard about this band called Coldplay (I'm sure they were around before then but I was a little late to cotton on to these things). I got the album, Parachutes, stuck it on my CD player and didn't take it off for what felt like a year.

I was pretty sure that every song on that album had been written for me. I could apply every lyric to events that were happening in my life. At the time there was a boy that I was in love with, but he had absolutely no idea, he was just a friend. As soon as I heard Shiver I nearly fell on the floor - Chris Martin knew what I was going through! He'd taken all of my feelings and written them into a song.

The love affair began.

It has carried on through the years, through three more albums and countless boyfriends. And every time I met someone or fell in love, or fell out of love, the boys were there, singing beside me.

I've been desperate to see them for years but never got the chance - I was too late, or busy that weekend or didn't have enough money, it was like something was conspiring against me. However a few months ago my chance came one day as I was mooching through Ticketmaster. Coldplay were playing in Manchester, in September and there were tickets available!

I've been very excited about it for weeks and was even more excited and intrigued when I found out who the support act was. The one and only, Jay-Z.

Yeah I did a double take too.
Probably the most unlikely support act for Coldplay. And I did spend a good few weeks wondering whether there was another Jay-Z that I hadn't heard of, maybe an indie band? But no. And I didn't believe it until I saw him with my own eyes...
It was so funny. If the crowd at Oasis could be described in one word it would be - 'drunk'. If the crowd at Take That could be described in one word it would be - 'girls'. If the crowd at Coldplay could be described in one word it would be - 'white, middle-class couples' (yeah I know that's not one word but you get my drift right?)

There was a fair age range as well from people with young children (and no I don't think it's appropriate to have children that young in that environment but each to their own) to people in ther mid-20s to 30s, like me and the boyfriend, to people well into their 50s. It was this latter group that was the most amusing to watch when Jay-Z came on to perform his set. I've never seen so many confused looking people in my life.

He got the crowd going though and that's what you need from a support act. I should say at this point that there was another support act, White Lies, but I can't tell you about them because truth be told I wasn't really listening - sorry guys. But they did seem to be pretty good!

When Coldplay came on though....
I don't even think I have the words. But I'll try, otherwise it really would have been a waste of time posting this.

Have you ever heard 50 or 60,000 people all singing Coldplay songs at the same time? I have. It's beyond thrilling. It will give you shiver upon shiver down your spine and make your hairs stand on end. It was amazing.

And I guess in a way that's all I can say. It wasn't a great spectacle like Take That, there were no mechanical elephants. Although there were big yellow balloon/balls thrown into the crowd (guess what song that was for) and some fireworks and about 1o million paper butterflies that were blown over us, but all of this was secondary to the most important part.

For that night was all about the music.

They are CD perfect. There wasn't a note out of place, they are supreme musicians. At one point I got completely confused because the drummer was playing a guitar and someone else was banging a drum. Chris Martin was on a piano one minute, running about the stage the next. It was just brilliant.

And they were on for an incredibly impressive 2.5 hours, with the pace never dropping for a moment. Even more impressive when you consider that this tour began in June 2008 and has had 150-something dates.

When it was all over, even the insanely long wait for a tram home couldn't dampen my spirits (ok. maybe it did a little but it did take nearly an hour) because I'd finally fulfilled one of my dreams. And the 17 year old girl that first fell in love with their songs was finally satisfied.

When we were watching them the section of the crowd that I was in kept singing the riff from Viva la Vida over and over again. Any gap between the songs and we'd all start up. What that must have felt like to them I don't know. What a strange feeling to have that many people singing your songs and your words and your music back to you. I hope they realised how much we appreciated them.
I've gabbled for too long. I will go now. But don't think I've forgotten. I still have to tell you about Florence & the Machine. But you'll have to wait another day for that one.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Why I am special

I am special because today I did a 'good thing'.

I gave blood and look I took a photo of my arm to prove it. Look see.

I like giving blood because it makes me feel brave and like a nice person because I'm doing something to help other people. And even though I'm not a cool rare blood type, it's ok because as I'm the most common blood type there is that means that I can help most people.

Also it makes me feel a little bit light headed as if I've had a few glasses of wine and I'm all for a natural high (especially one that's free).

And I tell myself that I have to eat lots of chocolate to keep my blood sugar up.

But today was even more special than any old regular blood donation day. Today I actually was special because I reached my very first blood donation milestone.

I have donated 10 whole times.

And I got a certificate and a badge to celebrate my specialness.

The boyfriend is more special than me however because he's donated 13 or 14 times. My competitiveness knows no bounds, I'm desperate to catch up with him and beat him so that I've given blood more times than him. However it's pretty difficult to catch up when you have to wait 4 months before you can donate again. I'm trying to persuade him to get a tattoo, then he can't donate for a year and I could get some in and catch's not right to be that kind of competitive.

I told the boyfriend I'm going to frame my certificate and hang it in the flat.

He thinks I'm joking.

PS Oh my goodness just how much have I got to tell you about this weekend?! This weekend when I saw Jay-Z, Coldplay and Florence & The Machine all in 24 hours!! I know! But being special and giving blood also makes me mighty tired so I'm going to sleep now instead.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

How clean is your house?

My name is The Girl and I'm a clean freak.


Glad I got that off my chest.

I really do like things clean and I know that there is more to life than having a clean house (don't worry, I'm not so bad that I would cancel a night out to clean the toilet) but dirt and mess just stresses me out.

I think it's mess that bothers me more than actual dirt - as long as there isn't crap lying about everywhere I'm happy to leave the hoovering for another week.

Most of our spats usually happen over cleaning though. And it's probably not what you think - it's not that he doesn't do any cleaning, it's that he does and either a) gets in the way or b) does it wrong.

The thing is I'm really happy to clean. I like it. It gives me the greatest sense of satisfaction to sit down in a nicely hoovered and dusted room or walk into a sparkly kitchen. It makes me feel calm and serene. The boyfriend however is not really a great cleaner - I remember his room before we moved in together, actually I have nightmares about it. It was were dust and piles of clothes came to die.

However he's not so bad in the flat, mainly because he knows what I'm like so he does try to do his bit. He does need to be prompted - usually I just need to start cleaning and it won't be long before he appears and starts waving a duster around.

I do appreciate his attempts to help but sometimes it would be better if he just left me to it, mainly because I usually end up going round after him and doing the bits he missed.

For example...

The boyfriend took charge of dusting the living room one day. Excellent. A couple of hours later I happened to be stood by the window and looked closely at the TV.

"Erm. Did you dust the screen?"

" I didn't do that bit."

Okaaay. TV. Fairly large dominant item in the room. Not dusted. I cast my eyes nervously over to the shelves containing all our DVDs and books.

"And did you dust all the shelves?"


To this day I'm unsure of what he did in the room. Maybe he just showed the duster to the living room and expected the dust to jump on it?

No. I know I shouldn't complain. I should simply bask in the fact that I have a boyfriend that is willing to help me with the household chores. know.....I'm ok with it. I don't mind being a 50s stepford wife in this case.

Now where did I put that cream cleaner?....

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Tree project - the beginning

A couple of months after we had moved in together we were sat on the settee watching television and the boyfriend commented on how much the tree outside had changed since we'd been living here. It had gone from a barren, twiggy mess to having a million little buds adorning his (her?) limbs.

We live on a main road so greenery is few and far between. This tree peers in the window at us morning and night.

Unfortunately I must have missed the lesson in school where we learnt about nature because i am hopeless at naming trees and plants. I know it's not a conker tree and I know it's not a poplar tree - that's my tree repertoire exhausted. Anybody got any ideas?

Anyway when the boyfriend commented on the changes a little thought took seed in my mind. "You should take photos of the tree and document the changes."

However many of the ideas that are planted in my head, rarely come to fruition, which is why, four months later I've finally got around to starting it.

So here's the beginning - everybody meet Mr Tree (if you feel like coming up with a name for him then do let me know).
September - his leaves have become a deep, deep green and his red berries sparkle when the sun is shining, providing food for the many birds that swoop about outside, taunting the visitors when they come to stay.

See you in October!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Pass me the talcum powder...

"How was the gym?" the boyfriend asked when he came back from work.

"Ok" came the rather muted reply

"Oh no, your knee playing up again?"

"No. Worse. I had to deal with nakedness."

I should explain....

It's a bit of a thing with me. Maybe it's because I'm British. Maybe it's just something deep inside me. But I cannot stand public nakedness. I really seriously have a problem with it. And I don't think that this is something hereditary because as soon as I was old enough to learn how to work a lock, bathtime became private time, much to my mother's annoyance. She would always yell at me not to lock myself in the bathroom in case I fell over and fainted and she couldn't come in to help me (ever the optimist is my Mum) but the reason I locked it is because if I didn't, she would merrily sail in to wash her hands or brush her teeth, leaving me fanctically splashing about trying to make myself respectable (which you can't do when you're not wearing any clothes in the bath).

I'm not suggesting that many people adore public nudity (nudists and naturists aside) but I mean I have a terrible issue with it. It makes me want to throw up and poke my eyes out at the same time.

I know that there shouldn't be anything wrong with the naked body, it is God's form blah blah blah. I just don't want God's form in front of me. Sans clothes. And I'm not hypocritical, it's not just other people being naked, I don't particularly like to be naked in front of myself. I'm just not a happy naked person.

Unfortunately, when you go to the gym, the chances of you experiencing nakedness rise tenfold from other every day activities. Now I go to the gym already changed, my friend who picks me up on her way home from work, goes in to one of the cubicles and changes and I sit on the bench in the main changing room and gab away to her.


A couple of times now I have come quite literally face to face with my worst fear. A stranger. Naked.

As much as I am not a naked person, there are people out there who are very much naked people. They are perfectly comfortable with their form and feel no shame. Hurray to them I say. But I also say in an equally loud voice, "OH MY GOD COVER YOURSELF UP!"

I know that technically the ladies changing room is not a public place as such but I just don't understand the need to...well.....parade, which is what this woman does (yes I've come across her more than once). I mean what's the harm in coming out of the shower area, in to the changing room with a towel round you? And there really are plenty of cubicles available, it's never busy, maybe you could apply your talcum powder in one of those? Anything but just please do not do any of these activities in front of me. There is a part of me that feels she is possibly an exhibitionist, I've never known someone to wander about being that naked for that long, it can't possibly be necessary.

Whatever it is it makes me terribly flustered. What I really want to do is immediately get up and walk away but then that would be offensive wouldn't it? It's not her problem that I have this affliction and to walk away would be an insult to her that I'm not really intending. It just sends me in to a total fluster, I am completely unable to carry on whatever conversation I'm having with my friend, who is oblivious in the cubicle, and I've nearly caused myself serious chiropractical (is that a word?!) damage, trying not to look directly at what is happening in front of me. It's not that she's terribly ugly or out of shape or anything - to be honest I couldn't tell you what colour hair she has, so determined am I to avoid eye contact.

I just have to pray that my friend gets changed quickly so she can come out and get me out of the terrible situation I've found myself in.

It certainly doesn't put me in the mood to start sweating on the cross trainer...

Monday, 7 September 2009

My very first award

I got some rather exciting news at the end of last week. I had been given a Blog Award!! For ages now, whilst I've been trawling through blogs and having a nosy, I've seen these awards and hoped and wished that I would one day get one for myself.

And The Curious Cat answered my hopes and wishes!!

I have been awarded the Honest Scrap award. And proudly shall I display it.

Now apparently I've got to pass the award on to 10 other bloggers and then share 10 things that no-one else knows.

However I have a little problem in that I don't have 10 other people that I can pass it on to! Although I'm getting in to the swing of writing the blog, I'm not so good at going through the blogs and finding ones that I want to read. The blogs that I do really like I have mostly found through The Curious Cat and damn her, she's got their first and already awarded it to them!

So I'm going to hang on to this one for a little while until I've found more people to pass it on to.

I won't be a total kill joy though and I have had a go at sharing 10 things that no-one else knows with you....

1. I get scared that cheating on your partner is hereditary in my family
2. I wish I had a better relationship with my father but am resigned to the fact that I won't
3. I care what other people think of me far too much
4. I get annoyed that no-one in my family takes me seriously
5. I wish I was in contact with more people from my school days
6. I worry that I'm turning into my mother
7. I would love to have children and would like to have them as soon as possible but I am absolutely terrified of the responsibility
8. If money was no object I'd jack it all in and just spend the rest of my life at university, learning stuff (first on the list will be a history degree)
9. I hate making an effort with my appearance but then beat myself up for not looking as nice as everyone-else
10. I worry that I'm not doing enough with my life

I hope that makes it ok that I haven't passed it on to anybody yet!
I would like to just say thank you to The Curious Cat - she's pretty much my only regular reader and she makes me feel loved out here in the big ol' blogosphere. She is a very cool lady who lives in the big smoke but is not all horrible and nasty and 'London-like', she is warm and intelligent and has a wonderful way with words, as well as an excellent outlook on life and I hope she continues to blog when she eventually goes off on her travels!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Things I love about my house....Part 1

People seem to have little themes on their blogs, something that happens with some regularity. And I, not being one to be left out, have decided to get in on the act.

Seeing as this is my first home, even if it only rented, I've decided to photograph all the little things that make it the place I want to come back to at the end of every day at work.

This week.....

The very first TV programme that I watched when I was a small person was Button Moon. I have very very vague recollections of watching it but my family have told me many stories of my extreme excitement whenever it came on telly.

I apparently called it Button Moom.

A while ago my sister got me a Tina Teaspoon and a VHS video of Button Moon which I have unfortunately lost somewhere in the Land of Moving. It's ok though, thanks to You Tube it can be found and enjoyed again. Like all things you watched when you were a child, when you see them as an adult you wonder about your sanity at the time. I mean Button Moon is particularly crap - I wonder what my nephews would make of it now. They've grown up on a diet on Pokemon and sophisticated animations, I think they would be somewhat unimpressed with a spaceship made of a funnel, a baked bean tin and a tuna can.

I love Tina though and when you press her tummy she sings the theme tune, transporting me back to a very young age. And I've also discovered that babies still like her, she was entertaining Sam earlier this week, a very discerning 3 month old who doesn't like just any toy.

If you happen not to know what on earth I'm talking about then feel free to go here. And be amazed!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Come dine with me

I do most of the cooking in our little household of two. It's not that we're being terribly traditional or anything it's convenience more than anything. The boyfriend's actually a great cook and really enjoys doing it but he doesn't get home until nearly 7pm and if we waited for him to cook, we'd be eating way too late for my stomach.

I'm kind of getting into it but it's a bit of a pain to be honest. Just having to come up with something new to cook every evening. I'm trying to get better and I being a little more inventive, but life was much easier at uni, when I lived by myself. I didn't mind having salad and a baked potato 5 days in a row. But I'm trying to mix it up a little.

However I do a little private dance for joy on the nights that I don't have to cook. Last night was one such night as I was off to the cinema and was gone before the boyfriend got home.

"You'll have to look after yourself!!" I trilled to him the evening before.

The boyfriend's version of "Looking after himself" is to go to the nearest takeaway (and when I say nearest it's literally across the road) and get something horrific. Last night was no exception - I opened the bin in the kitchen to see the tell-tale polystyrene tray lying there, the poor excuse of salad that came with the donner meat, rejected and poking out of the side.

I do wish he would look after himself a little better. It's bad enough that he smokes (yes I know! But only about 6 a day and I'm working on him) but he drinks too much coffee and doesn't eat food which is bursting with nutritional value.

"But you can cook so why don't you just cook for yourself when you get in?"

"I can't be bothered when I get in"

I inwardly sighed and then decided to try another tack. Logic. It never fails.

"Well what you do if you lived on your own?" I said. Aha. The smug levels were high, he'd have to be realistic and answer this one I thought to myself.

"Well I'd be lonely" he said with a pretty mischievious smile on his face.

Smart move Counsellor.

Case closed.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

2012 is beckoning...

I am still going to the gym although it still not my favourite activity. I force myself to go and if it wasn't for the fact that I go with a friend, then I have to admit I probably wouldn't go at all.

I'm not at the point yet where I actually enjoy going but sometimes I do feel like I want to go. Which is progress I think. When I say "I do feel like I want to go" that doesn't mean that I'm hopping to go as soon as I go in, more that when I haven't been for a few days there's a sort of slight notion in the back of my head that I want to go.

I'm getting there.

As for results?

Erm......there aren't really any yet.

BUT I'm not putting more weight on so that's got to be good - right??

I figure that now I'm mastering the gym, it's time to start cutting down on the amount of crap I eat. One small stage at a time.

In terms of fitness though? Well. Gains have been made. When we started a few months ago, I couldn't do 15 sit ups in a row. Now I can do 25 (sometimes 30 on a good day). As for the running; well for a start it's definitely not running, it's definitely jogging. Any improvements have been impeded by my crap knees. My knees have been the bane in my life since I was at school, and much hockey and netball playing effectively ruined them for good. Since then they are always a little bit on the dodgy side and tend to threaten to give way as soon as any demands are placed upon them.

I've discovered that I really can't jog on the treadmill for more than 10/15 minutes without them either a) giving way completely or b) seeming fine but then causing me immense pain for the next 3 days.

It's very inconvenient.

They especially don't like it when I go to the gym two days in a row.

Like tonight.

I am currently sat with legs up on the settee. Knees feel like they're pulsing a bit with the pain. The boyfriend doesn't know why I do it to myself but I'll tell you why...

...because he supplies my crisp habit.

It's a dirty filthy habit but I just can't enough of their salty goodness. Any kind will do but I go through phases of having favourites. Monster Munch is the current leader. The boyfriend knows that the crisps make me happy and he just wants me to be happy so he gets them for me. But he really shouldn't. Because if they're there, I'll eat them.

I am doing my best however and with small steps I'll get there. I guess as long as my fitness is improving then that's a good thing. And it is improving, when we first started I couldn't jog for more than 5 minutes without having to stop and walk for a while. Yesterday I managed to jog for a whole 12 minutes.

And for the first time I ran a mile.

A 12 minute mile. Impressive, no?

Well there are 3 years til the next Olympics...I'd better call my physio.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Sweet & Simple Bakes - Jammy Doughnut Muffins

Aaaaaaand WHIZZ! Another month flies by and it's time for this months Sweet & Simple Bake. This month it was these jammy doughnut mufifns and I was eager to get stuck in after last month's carrot cake success.

Unfortunately this wasn't my best production for S&S. I think I had the shelf a bit too far down I think because I baked them for ages and ages and convinced myself that they were done, only to find that they weren't done.

My bad.

This was also probably why they weren't all lovely and golden brown on the top.

Oh yeah and my other clue was that they weren't cooked all the way through. Bit of a give away that one.

Luckily they weren't all a disaster - there were some that were properly baked and they were rather marvellous. I loved the jam running through the middle, a delightful surprise as you bit through the muffin.

So I didn't do amazingly well this month. But I have high hopes for the next!
Find the recipe here.