30 July 2013

happiness fairy reporting for duty

I've done it! I've finished the fairy outfit! It has been a labour of love to a certain extent. Working with net is not as easy as you'd think. Its hard to get it to line up and the pinning it is a trick.
And I have been mostly working with about 6 layers at a go. The wings were a real pain to cut out and as soon as I did I stitched them together on the machine so they would be a bit easier to work with. Then I attached them to the back of madam's vest top and got her to try it on so I could put a stitch through the top of the wings to stop them drooping.
I love the fact you can see them from the front as well :)
And then, foolishly, I thought I would add a couple of sparkles. So I sewed a few flower sequins onto the top.
And then a couple on the wings.
And then, for some unknown reason I decided to make her a couple of wrist cuffs which required snap fasteners and then another sequin on each! At midnight last night, when I finally finished I did question my own sanity. But madam's face this morning was worth it all!
Getting her to take it off after I'd done the photos was a minor battle I could have done without first thing, but never mind. Fairy costume is finished and I can get on with my next project now :) 

29 July 2013

french knitting is easy

I have bought madam a French knitting dolly. This is mainly an attempt to get her to sit still and concentrate on something. It mainly seems to be working. I am impressed.
Today she is dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. She did have some ruby slipper overshoe things, but the rain has put paid to that! However, I did get a couple of lovely sunny photos in before the torrential downpour!

I have been to the gym even though it's ridiculously hot and sticky and I really didn't fancy it. And I was horrid and hot and sweaty really quickly. But then it was over and I got to walk out into the rain which was actually quite lovely... I did have a few errands to run before going home though, so the rain was not *entirely* a good thing.
I have bought myself a book on Celtic crafts as it shows you how to do the knotwork and it has always fascinated me. Be prepared for pictures of knots over the next few days!
There isn't much time for me to write today, so I will have to leave it for now... 

28 July 2013

superhero or flamenco dancer?

I was planning on blogging about the cape I made for madam last night, you know in a step-by-step fashion. But I did that thing of getting caught up in what I was doing and forgetting to take pictures... Sorry!
Needless to say, it was a pretty simple make. I sewed to rectangles of cotton poplin together (we ended up with orange and purple) and then turned them through to the right way around. I then merely folded down a section at the top to make the channel for the tie. The tie was made from sewing two strips of fabric together, folding in half and seaming it. Again it was then turned right way out and threaded through the channel I'd made. Et voila! One cape.
I make it sound like it was all problem free, but I did my fair share of cursing. I think this mainly comes from the fact my sewing room turns itself into an oven as soon as you spend more than five minutes in it... I ended up sewing in my bra and pants, probably best I was on my own today!
But I am really happy with how the cape turned out, its possible to wear it either way so madam can choose which side faces out... She was so pleased with it this morning that she ran all the way to my parents house with her cape blowing out behind her. An awesome look. She has chosen to go for colour today as she is wearing a green vest top and pink cropped skinnies. Yeah, that's a lot of colours for such a small person to wear at once. But heck, if you can't get away with it at age 4, what is the point of life?

She did get changed once we arrived as she had a party to go to this morning. So on with the beautiful flamenco dress my parents brought back from their holidays and she was allowed a real rose to put in her hair to finish her "look". For one so young she is very conscious of her look... I might have to keep her away from too many fashion bloggers!
She had so much fun at her friends party though, and somehow the flamenco dress survived an almost constant 2 hours of bouncy castle madness. I have put it back in the wardrobe for a later date... 

27 July 2013

capes and wings and things

Madam and I, whilst waiting for the bus yesterday, were messing about and I made a cape for her out of her nightie. She had it with her so she could get ready for bed there rather than at home... Anyway, it didn't work all that well so she announced that I had to (HAD to) make her a cape. A Superman cape, to be precise. You just need red and blue she said...
So, apparently that is my next sewing project. I'm also going to turn the gorgeous elephant print fabric I got from ebay into a simple summer top for madam. Mother and I are planning how we can do that. Sounds like we're making a tube and threading ribbons for straps!
This afternoon will be mostly spent cutting out these flaming wings for the fairy outfit though. I must get it done otherwise it'll be Tuesday night and I'll be doing it in a flap. I have got each of the three colours of net we originally used and my plan was to cut two wings out of each colour so we have the same 6 layers as the skirt. Then I will have to hand stitch them onto the vest top. I might run a line of machine stitch down the middle to help keep them together first...
My next issue is what *actual* wing shape I will cut. Do I do butterfly, dragonfly or some form of other shape... She's going to be sitting in the car for a while whilst we get there so maybe she won't be wearing the top until we arrive! Crushed wings, whatever their shape, is not a good look. 
template from www.craftscope.com
I think I'm more excited than she is now... I'm really hoping the fact her costume is homemade will help her in the competition stakes. It's easy just to buy all the things you need... I also love that I made it. I love knowing that she has something unique and that makes her happy. When she spent the day dressed in the outfit she told me she was a happiness fairy and that everyone smiled when they saw her. And they did. It was lovely for her to get all that positive feedback from people.
I had better get a move on if I want to buy stuff for cape making, I suppose!     

26 July 2013

gym and slim

Yesterday, I mentioned I went for a gym induction, which was actually on Tuesday (confusing, I know). I have decided that as my general fatness refuses to just magically melt away I maybe need to start putting a bit more effort into it.
My mum has been going to a specific gym for a while and has had great success not just with losing lots of inches from all over but from losing a decent amount of weight too. I decided that I should really treat myself to the same chance. I had the induction on Tuesday and have been twice since then already.
And I'm actually finding it enjoyable. It's resistance based rather than cardio so you don't end up all sweaty and ick (though you do end up quite glowing!) And you only spend half an hour to do the whole circuit so it's easy to fit it in. 
Mum and I have devised a system so that I don't have to worry about what I'm doing with madam whilst I work out. So, mum does her circuit then, when she's finished she takes madam for a drink whilst I do mine. Madam is enjoying this so far as she gets to have some alone time with her nanna and she hasn't really had that before. Normally my dad gets the privilege!
I'm hoping that now I have committed myself to this I will be able to keep it up. By the sound of it they are quite thorough about re-jigging your program to make sure you're getting the best out of it. And there is always someone to ask. Everyone faces the centre and the instructors have a desk just on one side. If you need to ask anything you can. And there are mini reviews to check how things are going.
The only bad thing is how thoroughly they measured me! I now know the exact horrors of my dimensions and my weight. I have been avoiding this knowledge for a while, but I know that if I expect to tackle it I have to know what I am dealing with.
So maybe it's time I posted a proper picture of me, so you can all see what I really look like. Not just a head shot which is all I normally allow. I am officially heavier than I have ever been before and consequently in the biggest dress size I've ever worn. And I am not okay with it. Because it isn't healthy to be this big and I do worry about the effects it must be having on my health.
My depression is in part caught up with my weight, so less weight, happier Pearl (or that's the plan). And I'm sick of not being able to buy clothes in my home town. Evans closed it's doors a couple of years ago and now I'm stuck with having to go into Hull to shop. Or online...
Here I am then, and I hope I will be able to post progress photos along the way. (I *hate* this plan!)

rather rubbish photos, but these are the only full length ones I could find!

25 July 2013

peanut butter and fairies

*This post now has all the photos I had planned it to have*

Firstly, some apologies... I haven't written anything all week as madam is now on holidays and I can't go to my usual haunts for free wifi. Well, I can, but it wouldn't be as easy to achieve as usual. I have got lots of things to write about today but have forgotten my phone so I can't post the photos :(
I shall have to post them another day... though I might be able to lift a couple from where I've posted them on other sites...
So, I made the salted caramel peanut butter bars from essbeevee's blog and it was great fun. I found some of the initial mixing a bit hard going with a spoon so in the end went for the tried and tested "just shove your hands in" technique. And then squished it all in to a big disposable tin thing. The big tin could have done with being bigger. This recipe makes a huge amount...
Then I made the caramel and poured that over. At which point I *really* wished my tin was bigger, it didn't overflow or anything but I was a little wary of what would happen when we poured the chocolate on... I had promised madam faithfully that she could do the chocolate and sprinkles so I put what I'd made into the fridge and licked out the bowls before doing the washing up.
In the morning I was going to meet my dad at 9.45 as I was heading for a gym induction and he was having madam for me so chocolate melting/pouring/sprinkling was being done whilst also making breakfast for us both. And it was a lot of chocolate! My, this really is a great treat recipe.

After it was topped and sprinkled it went back in the fridge to set and to await the arrival of my sewing buddies in the evening.
Although madam and I did have a sneaky taste test in the afternoon, you know, just to make sure...
I ended up having a rather frustrating afternoon as I had planned time to do some more tidying, get dinner sorted, and do some pattern cutting. But I ended up stuck waiting for the gasman to come round and service my parents appliances. :( We were late getting home and therefore all my plan went out the window. I ended up throwing out my ideas for the pattern I was going to sew and decided to just make the a fairy skirt for madam.
She is really excited about her competition and I really enjoyed making her skirt. It was a good job we had three pairs of hands to hold and pin the fabric as that was the only complicated bit. But more importantly it was really nice to have the girls round and we had a great chat. I also learned how to do a French seam.

Madam was awake the entire time as she is too nosy for her own good! She also insisted on modelling her outfit after everyone had left before she would go to bed!
The fabulous Tabatha also brought me a lovely goody bag of sewing stuffs including some pinking shears! I am so grateful to her, she really is like a little sewing fairy being so kind and helpful to me.
I will be attempting to make some wings to go with madams costume once I have acquired more net... I'm planning on cutting out wing shapes from the net and just sewing them on to the vest top madam is going to be wearing...

21 July 2013

Perfectionism is not a game

On March 21st this year I wrote a post on how perfectionism leads to procrastination and suddenly in the last week it has become the most read post on my blog. And in fact the most read post of this week. Baffling really, don't know why the sudden surge in interest around it.
It does give out that important message though. That people like me are this way for reasons other than people can often assume. I'm not saying that I don't have a lazy gene, but most of the time that's not what it's about. I am so concerned about doing it right that I often freeze myself into inaction. I sit, I see, but I cannot do. I'm trying to keep up momentum but have to admit to having stalled again in the last few months.
My everyday routine has gone to pot and I can feel the chaos starting to build up again. And that terrifies me, I don't want it to be in control of me, and still I'm letting it win by not forcing myself to do it. My current excuse is that my timer broke (queue everyone I know (V) prodding me with sharp sticks via twitter). And you have no idea how bad I am at judging time. 15 minutes is not long enough (I know it is), I don't know where to start (just do something, it'll help), I don't want my friends to have to rescue me again (my friends genuinely care about me and want to help).
So many reasons and so many excuses that I *know* I'm being irrational about. And yet, and yet, and yet... Hopefully, I am having lovely Tabatha Tweedie and V come over on Tuesday for more sewings/girly chats so that will be a fine kick up the bottom to sort things out again. And the silly thing is I want them in my house now. I have turned that corner from being afraid to let anyone over the threshold for fear of being judged.
I am glad that being able to be honest allows me to have that freedom again. I love having visitors, I love being sociable. It's one of the few things I miss from having himself around, the house used to always have friends and family in it. I'm not saying I was always keen on all of the company, but I love having people round and making them food (I am a feeder, I plan on making snacks for everyone on Tuesday :D).
Actually, I really want to experiment and make these peanut butter treat things that lovely essbeevee keeps mentioning. I may also need to lie down and hope to avoid sugar coma afterwards, but it sounds like something madam would be able to help make, and I'm always searching for those type of recipes.
So I will go home this evening and I will put a music DVD on (I'll give you all 3 guesses whose) and I will use that to time my tidying. If I have 3 people (and a madam) in my dining room to do sewing we'll be needing the elbow room!   

late nights are the enemy

Sometimes, when it gets to stupid o' clock and most people have gone to bed, I start thinking about all the deep things that I really shouldn't. I start wondering about how I have got to this point in life without a clear plan or goal for myself. How I am still so afraid to go out and live my life and stop hiding from it.
Because realistically, most people have an idea by now. Even if they're not doing their dream job (for whatever reason) they 1, know what their dream job actually is and 2, are resigned to being in an ok job that pays the bills. I know I am making massively sweeping generalisations here, but its my blog and my thoughts, so nerr! 
And that's part of it. I am so convinced that everyone else must have it together by now. I am so envious of my friends that seem to be in jobs that, although they aren't perfect, are what they want. Or the friends who have taken that plunge and started their own business (have you met Gekoglass, their work is amazing  ). You can follow them on Twitter too.
But I am here on the side lines feeling marginalized and alone. I know that I am feeling this way mostly because I have not been in work for so long and I now question my abilities to do anything. But also society has this habit of constantly complaining about the unemployed. Making me feel that I am worthless and living this fantastic life that other people have to pay for.  

Its that same feeling that I always have when they start talking about the dumbing down of exams just before the results come out. I remember them doing it before I got my results too. And it makes you feel that all that hard work and effort isn't valued. It doesn't matter that you did the best you could, because everyone is under the impression it was all so easy.

I remember thinking how hard GCSEs were when I did them. And being so surprised by how much harder A Levels were, even though they had warned us about it, a lot. And I'm sure the teenagers I know who did their GCSEs this summer thought they were really difficult and they will have had it drummed into them just how important these exams are. 

I hate that we expect our young people to have their lives planned out from the age of 14 when they make those all important GCSE choices. Nowhere are they told that it's never to late to learn something new. That just because you are utterly convinced you are going to work as a translator in the European Union that that is what you will do. 

That by the time you've left school at 18 you'll already have realised that isn't the job for you and gone on to something else. But now you've not got the right GCSEs and A Levels. But no-one tells you it's ok to drop out and think about it for a bit. There's this constant pushing to get everyone into university and to have a degree. And I don't believe everyone needs one. I don't think academia suits everyone and in some cases it puts them off altogether.

I was so convinced at 14 that I would be a translator and no-one told me that I might change my mind. I was convinced at 18 I would be a travel agent (bit of a blip there, no idea why I was so sure of that one). And then when I was doing my degree I realised that I love museums and how they work. And what I wanted to do was go into museum management. 

But then the real world came along and informed me just how ridiculous I was to have that idea now. I couldn't get on to an MA course with my degree and if I wanted to work through the ranks instead I would need to volunteer. But all the best museums have 2/3 year waiting lists just to volunteer. And then when you do volunteer, how do you live? 

So I took a job that was supposed to be temporary, to reassess what I wanted to do. And that was in 2000 and I still don't know. I have no idea what my path really is. I really enjoyed the counselling course I did, I think I could actually be quite good at it. But I have hit the price wall. 

This year they have introduced a 2 tier system. If you are under 24 the courses are subsidised. And for if you're over, well, it's a lottery. In the case of my qualification, you're not. The price to do the Level 3 course is now £545 for 24 and under and £2545 for over 25s.

I can get a loan if I want.

Except I don't want. I still have my student loans from Uni waiting for me to pay them off. This is why they are then surprised when I am at the Jobcentre. They won't fund me for any further study because I have a degree. And so I'm left to fend for myself and I don't know what to do! The advisors are given that title for no good reason. I have never met one yet who can help me.

I tell them my qualifications and then I say, but I don't know what I want to do. I only know I don't want to go back into hospitality/catering if possible. But that's where all my on-the-job experience actually lies. And they're as stumped as me. Without me to tell them what I'm looking for, they're lost. 

They accept that I want to change my career, but on the flip side they are there to get me in work. And I can do hospitality/catering but I don't want to. So I'm sure they think that, come October when I go on to being an actual Job Seeker, I'll be a nightmare.

And I am looking for work, in schools mainly as that's where I feel I might be happy. But I haven't the right experience for that. It's all so goddam frustrating. I had hoped that we'd have gotten out of the experience trap once we'd left youth, but no... 

It's 1.30am, I should shut up and go to bed. None of this will make sense to me in the morning!    

19 July 2013

making madam over

New day, new post. We *finally* got round to getting madam's school jumpers sorted out for September. This whole task has ended up being more complex than you would have thought. We'd been told many conflicting bits of information about where and when we could source them but success is ours. Two jumpers, £2 each. Get in!
I was asking madam if she was ready to be a big schoolgirl now and what would she be wearing to her new school (she's worn a mix of uniform and her own clothes to nursery).
She told me she needed her grey skirt, white top, new jumper, grey socks and school knickers (no, I'm not entirely sure what "school" knickers are, either) and a bow in her hair. Because *all schoolgirls have bows in their hair, don't they, Mummy!* Umm, if you say so... I'm not sure how we're going to achieve this trick with her hair still being so short. After the infamous nail varnish incident which I can't believe was actually 3 months ago already!

And after that incident, and the one where she covered herself in my eyeshadow you'd think she'd have learnt to just leave things alone. Especially as she gets in so much trouble after them! But no. Last night she stole my nice new lipstick and coloured herself from head to foot in a dark pink shade. And it took two baths and a lot of soap to scrub it all off again.

apparently last time she used my eyeshadow as a lipstick and then some lipstick for random colourings...

It makes me laugh that she complains about the scrubbing when I wouldn't have to do it if she would only behave herself... I'm also *really* hoping that we'll move out of this phase soon. She seems to have been colouring herself in for years... I have to keep reminding myself that partly I should be impressed at her inquisitive nature. But mainly it's still really annoying!
I have given myself and mother a new project to get ourselves involved with. Madam is going to a Fairy and Pixie day at Burnby Hall and part of that involves a costume competition. So yesterday mum and I bought three different colours of netting to help make said outfit :) I am quite looking forward to getting to do a sewing project with my mum, we've never done one before.
Speaking of sewing projects, I haven't actually progressed with any of my other plans, which is annoying me. I really want to at least get the pieces cut so that I can get on with the sewing asap.  

18 July 2013

oh, what a show!

Yesterday, we went to Driffield show as we had planned. And it was hot! We arrived at lunchtime and sat in the car park (on the golf course) under some trees and ate our picnic before going into the show and finding an ice cream to try and cool down a bit before searching for some things to look at. There's loads, so it isn't hard to do!
Driffield show is the largest one day agricultural show in the county if not the country! There are displays for almost everything that you can think of, but it's hard to do too much when it's so hot. We've been the last three summers and we've never had it so warm! There was no breeze, it was just baking... The only relief came from going into the display tents and making the most of the shade they provided.
And the displays were great! We had lots of fun in the Fur and Feathers tent with madam, finding lots of chickens who had laid eggs whilst they were on display. She also was impressed with all the different coloured eggs on display on the judging table. And then there were all the guinea pigs and rabbits to "aww" over.
Madam's favourite bunny was a beautiful white one with chocolate brown markings on his ears, nose and paws. So pretty, but I didn't get a photo unfortunately. I did manage to get some photos in the Horticultural tent. The carnivorous plants and the cacti were my favourites and madam liked the fruit and vegetable displays. I also found a table of the most fantastic roses, for which I am a massive sucker.

But the best thing was still the dancing sheep show. They had been our new discovery when we had been last year and madam made a beeline for them as soon as we arrived. She managed to wiggle her way right down to the front of the crowd.
And when the chap got to the point in the show where he was going to give the shearing demonstration he asked for a volunteer (from the sheep) and madam stood straight up and put her hand as high in the air as she could manage! The guy let her down gently, but she was still upset. Though I think she was quite glad when he came to doing the actual shearing that it wasn't her up on the stage!
And then the sheep danced. Well, sort of, they do some leg kicks and head nodding in time to a disco track. But it's sweet and madam really enjoys it.
When we'd finished in all the display tents we wandered a bit more and got more water to drink and then by the time it got to about 3pm we just had to give up and head back home. We drove through about every field the local farmer had to get out of the car park again and then we cranked the A/C and made the short trip home.
Madam and I must have then drunk about our own volume in cool water, it was lush... But the heat had wiped us both out and we did nothing else with our afternoon and ended up just grazing out of the fridge for tea. Quite the same as we have been doing all week! Must get more fruit/veggies in madam at some point...    

16 July 2013

memory lane: the musical

I've been thinking about music and the memories it invokes a lot this morning. It's just really been playing on my mind. It started a while ago really. It's all Peaches fault.
For those of you who haven't a clue what I'm talking about, Peaches is a song by a band called Presidents of the U.S.A. (there is also a really good song of the same name by The Stranglers) and came out in the mid 1990's. I was about 18 at the time. It was a bit of a novelty record, in fact I didn't like it that much.
But I wasn't really interested in much outside of my MJ bubble at the time. It was a song I remember that my friends liked and that I didn't actively dislike, if that makes any sense. It was one of those songs we all heard a lot. So, you know, *not* a particularly special song for me.
And then, I heard it again. Just in one of those slightly random moments that these things tend to happen in. And I could have been 18 again. I could picture us all in Nellie's* pool room. All the gang of us who were always in there, quite a few of whom I haven't even heard of since that summer of '96. And now, I can't stop listening to it. It's become some form of strange lifeline for me. Even madam has learned most of the words (this is not incredibly hard). 
But it baffles me that it's this song that does it. Maybe it's because I hadn't really heard it in all those years that it had such a powerful effect. There are so many others that I hold in my heart as special and can take me back to times/places/feelings. Bizarrely very few are MJ songs, I guess because they are so ubiquitous to every part of my life that they don't have that unique pull to a specific memory.
I'm kind of doing it now, I have my iTunes playing whilst I'm writing, it's an MJ song at the precise moment (The Girl is Mine, not a favourite) and it's just washing over me really, but the one before sent me right back to being at junior school! That'd be The Proclaimers and Letter from America... I can still see them on TOTP in their foxy jumpers.
The Proclaimers were the first singers I remember with quite such a pronounced Scottish accent. I get so much nostalgia going from them and their songs... (I am part Scottish). And isn't it strange how you can recall the words for songs you haven't heard for years too...
*Nellie's, btw, is a local landmark. I think I spent pretty much all my spare time there from the age of 16 until I went to Uni. It was dark and small and heaving with the "alternative" members of society. We loved it. We could wear what we wanted with out people telling us we were freaks, listen to music on the rather well stocked jukebox and play pool for as long as our money lasted and we had a drink! The landlady at the time was most insistent on our having a drink at all times and was vicious about catching the underage drinkers. So much so that even once I did turn 18 I had to take my passport in to prove it! I didn't dare even try to get served with alcohol before then... Ah, good times...
Oh, and a song that takes me right back to the pre-alcohol days is The Whole of the Moon by The Waterboys. I played it every time we were in there!

15 July 2013

a film that left a big impression

Isn't it fun getting stuff through the post :) My shoes that mother cajoled me into buying have arrived... They're fab, comfy and actually a really great colour (I was a bit worried about the pewter). I have not had a chance to wear them yet though, as I have been to the gym for an introduction/look-see kind of thing.
I have now signed up though, so my proper induction is next Tuesday (it better not be too hot!) It's a Gymophobics gym and promises me I only have to do a 30 min workout 3 times a week. Also, I have a voucher for a massively discounted sign up/first month payment! I owe it to myself to find time to go. It's right in the centre of town, so there is no trekking to the leisure centre annoyingness. I can fit it into my day a lot easier.
I don't dislike going to the gym, per se, but the cardio workouts never seem to make much difference and this is more about resistance/toning. This is what my big, flabby belly needs! I walk everywhere as it is, so I get a cardio workout everyday! Mum has been a member for a little while now and has lost nearly 3 stone and dropped about 3 dress sizes as well. She's feeling much fitter, healthier and happier with herself.
Which I would like to feel about myself too!
My dad and I have gone into manic planning mode to get ready for our trip to Driffield show on Wednesday. He and I are definite planners, though he is more inclined to actually follow through on his plans than I am! I like to know there is a plan I can fall back on, but am more able to go with the flow than he is!
We are driving my mum insane by planning out what sandwiches we'll need, drinks, picnic rugs etc. You'd think she'd be used to us by now... It's funny that it's me the manic planning rubbed off on, as I am the queen of procrastination and almost never follow my plans exactly. I am terrible at organisation because of this. Though being able to organise a small child is definitely an achievement in itself!
Last night I watched a film called Hugo. It's based on the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik. And I loved it. I am a real film fan and love the escapism that films bring me. And this film was actually about that in part. It's a fact based film, in that one of the main characters and his backstory etc. is true to life. The rest of the film is imagined around him.
It tells the story of a lonely little orphaned boy named Hugo Cabret (that's a surprise, right!) who lives within the walls of the train station in Paris. He is looking to repair a machine as he believes it contains a message from his dead father and that search brings him into contact with a gentleman named Georges Melies (this is the real dude).
He, along with Georges' goddaughter find out who Georges used to be and how he has ended up owning a toy booth at a train station. They help him to find his way back and in the process Hugo finds friends and eventually a family. It was an amazingly moving film. I always find films about loneliness hard to watch without crying. But this was so beautiful. It's a Scorsese film, but not like anything he has ever made before.
And all the way through the film is punctuated by these wonderful clips from very early films. And they are so incredible and the imagery is so impressive. Its a love story to them in a way as well. The eventual revelation was again based on real life. Georges Melies really was discovered working in a toy booth at the train station. He really was one of the pioneers of early cinema. You may never have heard of him (I certainly hadn't) but you will know one of his most iconic images...
And if you can't see that link, you will have to make do with just this picture which is from hungary.art.pl
And if you still don't know who I'm banging on about, check him out on YouTube. His films are wonderful...

14 July 2013

things to do with madam's summer

I received the first of my ebay purchases yesterday :) It's the shrug I ordered to go with the wedding outfit for September. It's not as dark blue as I thought it would be, but that's not actually a bad thing. Madam took a photo for me, urm, slightly dodgy but you get the idea... (that's the dress I'll be wearing it with, too).

Have spent the last couple of days trying to plot out things for madam to do over the holidays. This is made harder by the fact that she is 4. There is no provision for pre-schoolers locally. This is a perpetual whine of all parents with children under 5. I am amused by the fact there are some children (like madam's best friend who isn't 4 for another fortnight) who will complete a full year at school before having their 5th birthday. So are those 4yr olds allowed to participate or must they wait until the age of 5 like madam?
Obviously, our plan is to sign madam up for the things we think she'd like and just ignore the fact that she's supposed to be 5. Being tall will definitely help her in this case. And because she's under 8 I have to stay with her anyway... So I don't get why they impose the age limit!
There was a small mammal hunt that she could have done this morning, but there were no spaces left :( I have signed her up for a minibeast safari, a butterfly safari and a teddy bears picnic. All at the local country park nature reserve. It cost me £1.50 each and they're all at least 2 hrs. I just need more things to do with her on the other 39 days of the hols...

I am planning on, hopefully, another trip to Bristol. I want to go and see L and her family and have a nosy around the new house she's moving into. But more importantly madam and I want to go on a Gromit hunt! For those of you who don't know, Gromit (you know, from Wallace and... ) has been hidden in various locations around Bristol. The Gromit Unleashed art exhibition is raising funds for the Bristol Children's Hospital charity and 80 sculptures have been  hidden around the city.

I am planning on downloading the app so we can play along when we get the chance! The exhibition finishes on the 8th September so I really hope that'll give us enough time...

But my other plans for the holidays mainly involve the seaside and/or various parks and local (free) museums etc. Madam is really keen on doing any form of colouring/painting/getting messy that I can think up too!

I just hope the weather stays mainly fine as I don't think a soggy summer will be an easy thing to navigate. Although I would get more chance to indulge in the sewing/crochet/knitting projects I have on the go. Oh, and to read some of my book mountain.   

13 July 2013

goodbye to the guides until September

It was the final night of Guides for this term/year last night so we thought we would introduce them to a perennial guiding favourite... Tin can cookery :) That's right, the ancient art of attempting to cook a scotch pancake/drop scone on the base of a tin using only a tea-light as your heat source! It is much more fun than you think and all the guides seemed to enjoy it.

Well, except one, who's candle refused to stay lit and didn't get even a single pancake for her efforts!

an actual cooked pancake!

in progress

it was so nearly ready and then the candle went out!

the many matches of abject failure

who'd have thought they could concentrate so hard!

But it was really funny watching them prod at the pancakes and try and guess when they were *actually* cooked! We had brought a couple of spare tins, which turned out to be the only tins anyone had brought with any holes punched in for airflow...

Now, due to the school that most of the Guides attend inconsiderately having their summer production on last night, most of the Guides were taking part in that. So we had 4! Luckily we also had 4 tins, so they got to all have a go and it set up some competition as to who could get the first pancake made.

We had some jam, sugar, and lemon for them to put on the pancakes (I find added sugar is usually the only way to make them palatable!) and they were let loose with their tea-lights and matches to try and cook as many as possible.

As there were so few of us we managed to have quite a good sort of party atmosphere going, there were juice boxes, some sweets (choc orange eclairs, FTW) and some really bad jokes being shared, example: How do you make a sausage roll?

Push it down a hill... It was quite a nice way to finish off the term. Made sadder with the knowledge that two of our group would not be back in September as they are too old to still be guides :(

Slightly sad to say goodbye to them as they started at the same time as me and it'll be strange not to have them messing about and making everyone laugh anymore.

I shall be glad to have my Friday nights free for the next few weeks, not that I will be doing anything exciting with them. Maybe madam and I should do our own tin can cooking in the back garden!   

12 July 2013

well and truly bitten by the bug

I'm a bit excited... I have been bidding for a couple of patterns on ebay (slightly aggressively in one case) and have managed to secure both of them! I have been a bit of an ebay refusenik for a while as I'm not very keen on the whole bidding thing. But I seem to have finally been dragged into the whole thing and am now a little excited about the whole thing.
I have bought a pattern for both myself and for madam so I might *actually* make something for myself for once. I bought a (hopefully) simple dress pattern that I might make for this wedding I'm going to in September, just need to find out how much material I'll need now!
Madam's pattern is a sun dress and goes up to age 16, so I might have to make it a few times... Again, need to know what the material requirements will be before I plot out how I'll make it... I fancy making her something in some really bright flame colours, she looks amazing in yellows/oranges.
I'm currently bidding for some very sweet elephant print fabric which I have yet to decide what I will do with. It'll be big enough for a madam make, or maybe a bag for me...
I mentioned the peacock coloured fabric I've got yesterday and I have now found the pattern I want to use it with. It's a very simple dress design with a little tie strap fastening. It's out of Prima magazines Spring Makes book. The version in the book is made from gingham and has quite sweet embroidery on. I was thinking I might attempt some of the embroidery, but I'm not sure I can be bothered with all of it! (There are quite a lot of flowers in their version).
So anyway, there is a fabric stall that has appeared on the local market, might have to check that out at the weekend, last time I looked they had some great stuff in navy with a strawberry plant print. Was ace. I'm thinking not for a formal outfit though...
I still, also, want to try making one of the fab Miette skirts by the lovely Tilly. I have a feeling sewing is going to be my new favourite past-time for quite some time to come!

11 July 2013

jobhunting for the tech savvy

I started this post on Tuesday and I was going to add in a link to the Universal Jobsearch website. Which is the point where I interacted with the Jobsearch website. And wow. Now, I'd heard before how awful it was, but I foolishly thought that I would be ok, I mean, c'mon, just how bad could it be.


I couldn't get it to register me, and then when it did do it, it wouldn't let me back in as it said the email address was already registered! Yeah, that was me... Now let me in! But it wouldn't. And even when I tried just running a search it refused to tell me how to apply to the job I'd seen. By the time I'd finished arguing with it I had come to the point of no return and had to pack up and head to my Work Focussed Interview (WFI).

Now, if you've never been unemployed then I am envious of you, and if you're on income support it's slightly different. You only have to attend once every six months for these WFI things. I'm up to 3 monthly as madam is nearly 5 and I will be moved to being a Jobseeker at that point.

So, I went to see my advisor, who is lovely, but completely pointless. I explained that 1, I can't get on to Jobsearch. 2, I can't input my skills, I had to use generic ones and miss out the qualifications I actually have as they're not in the options list. 3, the website is awful and threw me out just when I thought I was getting somewhere.

I mentioned my lack of faith in this whole "lets shove everything online" plan. And she agreed. There is one computer available at the Jobcentre which apparently is already booked solid, she has been locked out of Jobsearch as she had been on holidays and is waiting to be re-instated.

This meant she couldn't look up the vacancy I'd found, either. I mean, FFS what is the point... I couldn't find it on their silly touch screen things either. The lady gave me a list of other job search websites she would recommend instead!  We did a calculation as to whether I'd be better off working than on benefits and then I left again.

Advice given: well, she did know some other websites, I suppose.
Jobs nearer to being acquired: none.

Me, being me, I then had to go and do "joining in" at madam's nursery for half an hour, then we had to go and get the bus into Hull so that we could get the bandage removed from madam's hand. Why is it that everything is always on 1 day?

But the bandage is off, and her finger now just has a slightly larger than normal plaster on it. She is almost entirely back to normal and has been told to use her finger as much as she can. Of course, by the time we'd finished and walked back into the town centre we were just too late for the bus and had an hour to wait until the next one. So we tried again on the McDonald's toy front. And, finally, success! Sadly, they only had one version, but madam was just so happy with having one she wasn't bothered which it was!

We just need to watch Despicable Me 2 now...

I also popped into one of the shops and found me a new dress in the sales :) This makes a nice change as there are no shops in my hometown that I can really shop in. I just need to be about 5 sizes smaller and then I'd have no worries... (I do hate being this fat, but I can't seem to stop the comfort eating/eating anything not tied down thing).

And then when I tried to log back on to my computer when we finally got home it refused. It did the whole computer says no thing and wouldn't even start up properly.

Luckily as I was at my parents I managed to use their computer, log onto the website of the school I'd seen the advert for and print out the form so I could fill it in at my leisure... At least I had that option, I feel sorry for the people who are not tech savvy and have only one access point to the internet.

Yesterday, was mainly about my mum getting me to buy things! I'd seen a nice pair of shoes on ebay a few weeks ago, just everyday walking all over shoes, not too fancy. But they were purple. Mum saw them and made me buy her a pair and then got me to buy some for myself. Now I'd just been watching them thinking they were quite cool, but I didn't really need them...

Also, we found a really pretty shrug for me to wear to my cousins wedding that would go with the dress and shoes that I already have. I did get the money back from my mum for the shoes, but it was still £25 (altogether) down that I hadn't planned on spending...

I also bought some more fabric... Oops. This was just a metre of cotton poplin in Peacock. I shall use it to make madam a very simple summer dress...   

8 July 2013

Bristol baby!

I have taken my laptop all the way to Bristol and back this weekend without getting it out to write once. I'm a little impressed with myself, but also sad that I haven't posted for a couple of days.
So Friday night I spent (after Guides) waiting for K to come and collect me and his daughter as he wanted her to come down for carnival in Bristol over the weekend. He was old any time after 9.30pm to give me time to get home from Guides and throw stuff into a bag. It was approx. 11.30 when he finally arrived.
Then, and I knew he would, he announced he was too tired to drive all the way back again and could I do it. I would have refused only madam would be easier to transport whilst sleepy and I didn't really want him spending the night if I could help it. So I drove. And it was fine (it's a pretty easy drive really) The only part where I was concerned about whether I was heading in the right direction was round Birmingham. I just resolutely followed the signs that said SOUTH WEST as I figured that was where Bristol was.
After wrestling the sat nav from off madam's back window I finally managed to check where I was and found I had been right and should just keep going. In case you're wondering, madam had been using it as a night light! As she was sitting directly behind me it wasn't easy getting it back! And yes, K was asleep whilst this was happening.
Anyway, we arrived at stupid o' clock in the morning and headed straight for bed. Surfaced at about 11am and headed for L's for baby twin cuddles :) Was rewarded by having one thrust at me along with a bottle (L was having a carnival party and she figured her breast milk may end up as rather alcoholic!). I spent most of the rest of the day cuddling one or other of the twins whilst chaos happened around us and got to do lots of feeding/burping. Perfect for broody ol' me really :)
madam and R

lovely little M
Madam went to the carnival in the afternoon with her dad (who was asleep until  at least 2pm) and came back a couple of hours later with an enormous grin on her face and a balloon which was almost the same size as her. I think we can safely say she'd had a good time. She went straight back to playing with all the neighbourhood kids and I finally managed to drag her away at about 9pm. She was being very naughty and running away from where she'd been given permission to (safely) play. I figured tiredness must be taking over and I'd get her in bed with no problems.
Oh, how wrong I was. For a start she was on constant look-out for her dad who had gone back to carnival after bringing her home. Also, it was ridiculously hot and sticky and she couldn't get to sleep. I had let her stay up and watch the end of Evan Almighty so she could have time to unwind and cool off from all the running around, but that didn't work.
Then she refuses to go downstairs as it was too scary... I'd love to send her to live with Zombie Nanny for a week and see if she's still such an unco-operative little madam by the end of it. She ignores everything I say and gets her own way far too often. It has to end...
None-the-less, she ended up curled up on the sofa next to me until she fell asleep about 11pm... And when it got to 1am and I realised I should really lie down to prevent complete exhaustion attacking me she still refused to come downstairs.
So I left her on the sofa. I figured she'd come down when she realised she was alone in the dark up there. And at about 2am she did. Complete with much wailing and gnashing of teeth that I'd left her :) Himself returned at some point, but I didn't hear him and he says he has no idea what time it was!
We slept until about 10.30 and then got ourselves organised to go and see L again. More baby cuddles for me, and madam went to play again. But the day was so warm they were constantly in and out for drinks/ice lollies.
L was exhausted as she'd been up far too late after we'd left her. Madam and I apparently beat her to bed! And we weren't breastfeeding twins through the night... Poor love needed a nap. So I had lunch with her and a nice chat with L and one of her neighbours and by 3pm thought it was probably time for us to head back north. Managed to round madam up and get her to do kisses. She takes great pleasure in kissing L's older boy who's 7 and hates it...
And then it was time to leave again. Except we didn't, Murray was playing and we foolishly started watching it. Then K announced he had to go and get something before we left. This didn't even surprise me. He always needs more time than I think he possibly could. Must be genetic as madam is the same! We eventually got going halfway through Murray's second set. And he always listens to CDs so I couldn't follow it on the radio :(
We finally got back to our house at about 9pm and even though madam had been asleep for a good hour and a half in the car, now wouldn't go to bed again. Again she complained of being too hot. I did everything I could think of to make her cooler, but it wasn't working. She ended up lying on the living room floor wearing just her pants... I sent her packing when she tried to steal a drink and fortunately the sheer exhaustion kicked in and I didn't hear from her again.
But I have to admit to spending the night on top of my duvet because even when I went to bed an hour or so later the upstairs was still tropical...
Himself? Well, he "popped" up to Scarborough after dropping us off! So glad I don't have to put up with that any more...