Thursday, 30 July 2015

doing our best

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

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

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Weather Project: Summer holiday edit

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

In fact, I loved it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have less ants though.

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

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

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

in a few of our favourite places

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

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

That's Largs over there.

Monday, 27 July 2015

finding our keys! The Beets BLU key finder

The other day I lost my keys. 

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

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

Friday, 10 July 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, 4 July 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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