Monday, August 29, 2011

me and beyonce are like that

Just when you thought I couldn't get any more like Beyonce (or "the fancy lady" as my friend's four-year-old calls her) she goes and announces she's pregnant. I bet we are due on the same day. We are so alike...

EDIT: That lady is so darn fancy that my blog couldn't even handle the original picture I posted! Apologies if you have seen this post appear umpteen times as I tried to fix it. Even the edit facility wouldn't work. Guess it was too busy swooning. See? Fancy, I told you...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

the cube defeats max branning

I am so enjoying Shooting Stars being back on the telly. What a hoot. Have you seen this week's episode yet? The game at the end was hilarious, partly because of Vic and Bob and partly because The Cube is just hilarious in its own right. I love The Cube. I hope it's still on by the time our child is old enough to watch TV. Ah, the ambitions we have for our children, eh? Ha! The Cube really reminds me of classic telly from my childhood. Remember the Adventure Game? The bit that really appealed to me was the grid hovering above space that they had to walk across.

Kerry and I used to play this using the floor tiles in our hallway. I think we had a plant that looked a bit like the plant from the Adventure Game. What was the point of the plant? I can't quite remember.

If you consult my schedule from yesterday, you will see that today's assignment is swimming. I'm a bit tired, though, after the last two days of swimming and cleaning (and working) so I think I'm going to swap today's swimming with tomorrow's crochet and take it a bit easy. Lovely.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

a week of symmetrical planning

I'm working late shifts this week and have a strict plan for my days.

Monday - crochet
Tuesday - swimming
Wednesday - cleaning
Thursday - swimming
Friday - crochet

So it's Wednesday and for some totally inexplicable reason... it's taking me a little longer to get motivated and moving today. Now, I could spend half an hour trying to find the ultimate symmetrical picture to put at the top of this post, but I really do hear the bathroom begging to be made sparkly.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

crochet vs knitting - let the battle commence!

I just bought the pattern for this gorgeous crocheted baby cardigan from the tree bridge on etsy. Isn't it lovely? I hope it's not too hard to make. To my untrained eye it looks kind of achievable.

My baby knitting is going very slowly. Knitting is just not as pick-up-and-put-down-able as crochet, so I never really get the urge just to knit for a few minutes here and there. I'm hoping to make some good progress this weekend though, hopefully even finish the knitted cardigan altogether because I have some urgent crocheting to do. I have a terrible confession to make... I have decided I want to keep the ripple blanket. I am a bad person, I know, but I just don't think anyone else could love it as much as I do and it gives me such a warm and homely feeling just to look at it. I like its oversized stature and hate the thought I could give it to someone who might find it a cumbersome burden. It was the first proper item I ever crocheted and I just don't feel it could ever be topped. So I'm keeping it. Of course, this means my super organisation of making baby gifts five months ahead of schedule has been scuppered and I need to make a last-minute baby gift asap! I think I'm actually going to make a slightly smaller ripple blanket and I'm looking forward to it.

Crochet wins the battle.

(Anybody know of any amazing but easy crochet patterns for baby gubbins?)

Monday, August 15, 2011

weekend away

We are just back from a very nice weekend away in and around Aberfeldy, land of the creepy shop dummies. My mum and dad had been holidaying there all week and the original plan was that we would join them this weekend to go to the Highland Games. Unfortunately, the Games were cancelled earlier in the week when the rain was really bad and the field they use for them had ducks swimming on it. We still had a lovely time though, just wandering around all the nice little shops, eating cakes and visiting the world's oldest living thing, a 5000-year-old yew tree. We saw the nicest ever toast rack in a little antique shop. I struggled hard to leave it behind and kind of regret it now. It was the same as this one, but in not quite such good condition. I think I should have bought it. Ah well, another £15 for the baby fund.
On Sunday we spent most of the day in Pitlochry, since Graham and I were catching our train home from there. We stumbled across a car boot sale, which turned out to have just one car in it, but Graham still managed to find yet another guitar for his collection and couldn't wait to get home before he tried it out.
We had a delicious lunch at the Moulin Inn, the prettiest little old pub ever. I had been fancying macaroni cheese and chips for weeks and the macaroni I got there was the best macaroni I have ever tasted. Mmm! That's my mum and dad, by the way.
Here are Graham and I squinting in the sun. My bump seemed to turn from a little pot belly to a proper baby bump overnight last week. My mum (who is doing very well at accidental scare-mongering!) thought I looked enormous and helpfully told me that she quadrupled in size when she was between four and five months pregnant. I have only just gone four months and now have the fear about how big I am going to end up. Part of me wants to get the full pregnancy experience and look like a beached whale, but the other part of me is rather worried at how stretched I feel already... Will I really just keep getting bigger for another five months?

I recently had to buy a new swimming suit because my old one is stretched and perished to the point that I worry it will disintegrate in the pool and leave me bare bottomed in public. I bought the new swimming suit from ebay and had decided to try going up another size to accommodate the bump. When it arrived I thought I had better try it on quickly to make sure it fitted me OK, so I slipped it on on top of my underwear with my socks still on and instantly had a flashback to the Roly Polys, incredible tap dancing sensation of the 1980s. With the addition of a hat, I think I could have passed for a member. It's lucky I always wanted to be a Roly Poly really :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

beds are for sleeping in... allegedly

upcycled television pet bed

Here I am blogging in the middle of the night again. I've been awake for hours already and it's only 3.30am. Gah! Since I left both the cats snoring happily in my side of the bed, it seemed like an appropriate time to share these amazing cat beds I found on etsy yesterday via the favourites of someone in my circle. They're all made by Atomic Attic, whose shop is definitely worth a look as it has all sorts of lovely vintage/handmade/upcycled goodies and not just pet beds.
handmade modern plywood pet bed

This one is pretty stylish and the cat model is the doppelganger
of my friend Kristy's cat, Badger.

upcycled vintage blue suitcase cat and dog bed

Aw! I wish my cats slept in a cute vintage suitcase. Unfortunately, they mainly like to sleep wherever I might be, covering me and all our furniture in cat hair and generally making a nuisance of themselves. I have got them cosy little beds in the past, but they were having none of it.
dark grey and yellow upcycled vintage suitcase pet bed

But then we could always get one for the baby, just while it was too little to object/escape. Tee hee! I don't think Atomic Attic are genuinely suggesting you put your baby in their upcycled pet beds, but this picture did make me chuckle... and seriously contemplate a suitcase baby bed, but only for a second, I promise!

In other cat-related news, my sister rehomed all but one of the first litter of kittens tonight/last night. They are keeping the little black and white one, but all the beautiful grey and tabby ones (including my favourite little sandy tabby) have gone off to their new homes. I'd never even met the kittens and feel very sad about this, so goodness knows how sad it was for Kerry and her family to have to say goodbye :( It makes me quite glad I resisted the temptation to let Poppy and Lola have any kittens. I did think about it for a while.

In other baby-related news, I am now (since Tuesday) fairly certain I've been feeling the baby moving, which is pretty exciting. Of course, the panic is already setting in when I haven't felt it move for a while. Yesterday/today I didn't feel anything until after 8pm. I was trying not to worry because the movements are pretty easy to miss, but I was still very relieved to feel it. I am quite determined not to let myself get too hung up on looking out for movement at the moment, and just take it as it comes. This is not really in my nature, but it will do me good to try to change that nature a bit, I reckon. My tendencies towards worrying were one of the main things that put me off having children. I really wasn't sure it would be a good idea for me to have any children at all because I couldn't imagine a single moment for the rest of my life where I wouldn't be worried/scared that something would happen to them. When we decided we would have children, I gave myself a stern talking to and decided I just wouldn't be the worrying type any more. Well, the pregnancy so far has shown me that you can't really just decide not to be the worrying type. I hoped maybe I'd worry less once I could actually feel the baby in there, but the last couple of days have shown me that I'm probably just going to worry even more. Oh well, I'd better get used to it, I suppose!

Something else I'm getting used to is having no shame. I was going into town to meet Graham last night/tonight and had a bit of a funny turn while I was waiting for the underground. I've had quite a few funny/fainting turns since I've been pregnant, but not really since I was around 12-13 weeks. Actually, most of these funny turns have happened while standing on the platform on the underground waiting for my train, although the most spectacular and embarrassing one happened in the middle of Superdrug. I had to get medical assistance (i.e. a seat, a glass of water and lots of kindly reassurance) from the staff, who were so lovely to me. It was quite funny to tell all the staff of Superdrug I was pregnant when I still hadn't even told any of my friends. Anyway, I hadn't had one of these fainty feelings for a good few weeks, but as I was standing on the platform last night, I started feeling very woozy. I knew I would be OK once the train arrived and I could sit down, so I leant against the wall, pressed my face against the cold (and manky) bricks and did lots of heavy breathing and rubbing of my forehead until the lights of the train appeared in the tunnel. By this time my ears were ringing and I could hardly see, but I had my eyes on the prize and I concentrated all my energy into thinking about how soon I would be able to sit down. When I got on the train, however, there was only one seat left and a man nipped past me and plonked himself down in it. The train set off and I had to stand, holding onto the handrail, but my ears were still ringing and I was breaking out in a sweat. More than anything, I didn't want to fall over, especially not on a fast-moving train that would likely send me flying, so I gathered all my energy and shouted over the din of the tracks, to nobody in particular, "I'M SORRY, BUT CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE GIVE ME THEIR SEAT? I FEEL VERY FAINT." And, to his credit, the man who had pinched the last seat from right under my nose jumped up immediately and let me sit down. As predicted, once I sat down I felt much better - no longer fainty, just mortally embarrassed. Roll on the days when the bump is so big that I can just point at it and raise my eyebrows instead of having to shout in public.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

BFF pin

Remember those macrame friendship bracelets we all used to love so much back in the day? Did you have them going halfway up your arm? Did your friends really make them all for you or were you guilty of adding a few of your own creations to your collection? Did you leave them on permanently and hope the bath cleaned them as much as it cleaned you? (It never did.) Don't you wish someone would come up with a slightly more stylish alternative, something that captures the spirit of friendship bracelets without the need to wear increasingly grubby items permanently round your wrist? May I present to you... the BFF pin!

After many months in the pipeline (you can see the beginnings of this idea back in April) I finally finished and listed a new product in my etsy shop. I had great plans for BFF pins to be my next big thing, something I would make and sell in quadruple (ha!) figures. That is not happening. These aren't exactly difficult to make, but they are what I like to refer to as "a faff and a half" and I certainly don't want to be making them in massive numbers, by which I mean more than about five in my lifetime! For now, there is just this little red, white and blue guy listed in my shop along with the promise that I can make you a custom one in different colours if you have your heart set on something specific. I might (might, might, might) make a wee handful of them if (if, if, if) I ever do another market, but I think that is as far as this product will go. It's the sort of thing that needs to be cheap for people to want to buy it, but needs to be expensive to justify the amount of time I spent wrestling (literally) with it. Definitely not a practical money-spinner!

What a craftily productive day I have had today. Hooray!

progress report - weaving part two

Turns out I'm no good at crafting without purpose, so I made my woven circle into a little brooch. I rather love it! I was thinking of listing it as a one-off in my etsy shop for a bargain price, but I'm going to save it for a certain friend's birthday in a couple of months. I can't guarantee she'll like it, but for some reason it made me think of her, so she will be getting it whether she likes it or not.
This was a most satisfying morning. I think I might make more of these woven circles soon. For now, though, I need to go and do more crafting with purpose, thanks to a wee etsy sale I just made, but I will try to do something less purposeful later in the afternoon.

progress report - weaving

So far I have spent the morning weaving this little circle. It's been fun. I was a bit limited in my colour palette, but since it's crafting without purpose, I just went with what I had.
And since I had vowed not to do any tidying or organising, I just swept aside some stuff to create a little space to weave in. It would be nice to have clear and calm surroundings, but it would have taken me all day to reach that point and left no time for the crafting.
Mmmm! Weaving is so nice in close up. I think I prefer the simple over-under-over-under and might do the whole circle in that next time. You can see (maybe...) that I did the middle blue stripe and the bottom pink stripe a bit differently, with an over-over-under-over-over-under. I was excited about this (I love a bit of herringbone) but my reaction to the finished stripes are mostly meh.

I know this is meant to be crafting without purpose, but it has given me an idea for my mum's Christmas present. Christmas is causing me a niggling feeling of stress already this year, so I am glad to be having gift ideas in August, whether they come to fruition or not.

I'm going to go and have something to eat just now, then finish off this circle and start some other crafty thing. Hopefully I'll be back with another progress report a bit later.

p.s. I know I already linked to this quite recently, but I used this tutorial/idea for the woven circle patch.

today I craft!

I feel like I should be going swimming, making/organising stuff for the baby, tidying up etc. today... but I am going to stick two fingers up to all that and spend this very rainy day crafting without purpose! Yee-ha! I will be back later in the day with one or more non-progress reports. The accompanying photos will be either dull or flashed to within an inch of their bleached-out lives (it is actually dark outside today - yeuch) but that won't matter at all. There, I have said it and there's no getting out of it now :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

zzz grr

Snowy Owl by Dee Beale
Snowy Owl, a photo by Dee Beale on Flickr.

I have officially had it with not being able to sleep. Is this just going to get worse between now and January, when I fear the baby will take after its mother and I will get no sleep at all?

I was not a good baby and cried literally all night every night, to the point where my mum and I were hospitalised. The nurses told my mum to go to sleep and said they would look after me, obviously believing they had the magic touch that my mum apparently lacked. Halfway through the night my mum was woken by an irate doctor who threw me across the room (a crucial fact often mentioned by my mother, who claims she wouldn't have stood for that nowadays) who said I was the worst baby he had ever seen. After that my mum and dad started taking it in turns to sleep in a tent in the garden with my sister so they could escape me.

So I think I was mentally prepared for not being able to sleep once the baby arrived. I was also mentally prepared for not being able to sleep when I was 7-8 months pregnant and the size of a small bungalow. But not to sleep from practically the moment you conceive?! Nobody told me about this!

I was actually having a great sleep tonight (aside from the disturbing dreams and sore hips and back that seem to accompany every pregnant night in bed) until Graham shook me awake at 2am to inform me that I was breathing too loudly. Graham is traditionally the poor sleeper in our relationship and has often woken me like this in the past, which never used to be a problem. Now, though, I can't easily find a different position to lie in because of the sore hip situation and once I am awake... Well, I am awake. Much to the cats' delight (they love any sort of night-time novelty) I have spent the last two hours huddled under a blanket on the sofa, but to no avail. To add insult to injury, I can hear Graham snoring from the bedroom, probably ten times more loudly than the original breathing crime I was accused of. And there is nothing like being awake when you shouldn't be, alone and tired and puky (because bad sleeps lead to the return of baby-induced nausea just when you think you have seen the back of it at last) to make you start doubting your ability to do any of this stuff.

Monday, August 8, 2011

my victorian swimming pool

I blogged about a morning at my local swimming pool a few months back and was bemoaning not having a photo of the pool itself. I don't know why I didn't think of pinching a publicity shot. This is my pool. Isn't it lovely? You should look at my original post to see the slightly less perfect-looking details, but you've got to take the rough with the smooth and I'd much rather swim somewhere with mouldy ceilings and lovely Victorian features than somewhere without mould or character.

Would you believe I am up too early to go swimming today? I don't know if it's pregnancy itself or the related lack of booze that makes my eyelids ping open at sunrise, but something is causing me to have the sleep patterns of an OAP. It feels very healthy and I quite like it, provided I haven't had to work too late the night before. Actually, my work are so nice that they're letting me make all my late shifts a bit earlier until the baby arrives, so that's not a problem any more. Hooray for sympathetic employers!

Talking of work, today is my first of eight luxurious days off. Yippee! Well, I'm actually on call tomorrow, but hopefully I will have eight luxurious days off. I was unexpectedly off yesterday too, to be honest, but that was thanks to another migraine. (Two migraines in the space of four weeks after eight years without any? The baby is definitely getting the blame for this!) I had a long lie down in the morning and felt much better by lunchtime, well enough to spend the afternoon knitting and feeling guilty for not being at work. There is a new sense of urgency to the knitting though as I just found out that my sister is pregnant too! She's due a month after me. This is very exciting news, but since her other three children all got hand-knits from me when they arrived, there is definite pressure to treat baby number four the same way. I already had the extreme stress caused by being nearly halfway through this pregnancy and having nothing in place for the baby except a ridiculous hat with bunny ears. I don't know what we need to get or do, or really where to begin, but I need to start getting organised soon for my own peace of mind. I'll just get this knitting out of the way first...

Those last two sentences pretty well sum up my frustrating attitude to everything in life. Priorities, Laura, priorities...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

reading material

The one thing I buy more than anything else in charity shops is books. Over the last couple of years most of my reading list has been whatever I happened to find most recently in a charity shop combined with the occasional been-meaning-to-read-it-for-years title and the even more occasional brand new book that I just couldn't wait any longer for. Recently the charity shops have been particularly good to me.
The Animal Lover's Book Of Beastly Murders by Patricia Highsmith (she of Talented Mr Ripley fame) was a recent random purchase from the 25p per paperback section. I started reading it the minute I got it home. It was great and kind of reminded me of Tales Of The Unexpected except that every story was about a different species of animal killing the same species of human (the deserving-of-death type of human). It was a bit repetitive, I suppose, but I quite liked that about it and the types of animal and the methods of death were varied enough to keep it entertaining. Some of the stories were rather disturbing in parts. I am normally a big fan of all things creepy and disturbing, but I do hold this book partly responsible for the high proportion of my dreams that now involve squashed kittens. However, maybe this wouldn't have happened if I wasn't pregnant as I am having numerous nightmares every single night at the moment. Just another one of the many symptoms of pregnancy I was not expecting... But if you are not pregnant or susceptible to nightmares for any other reason, you should read it for sure. If you have recently given birth, you should definitely avoid the story about the rat and don't say I didn't warn you!
Behind The Scenes At The Museum by Kate Atkinson is one of those books that you are almost guaranteed to see in every single charity shop. I can see how that might look like a bad sign, but I do believe that any book you see on every single charity shop shelf (that has not been on the Richard and Judy Book Club or other similar prominent promotion) is there because people have enjoyed/recommended it rather than because they have wanted to get rid of it as soon as they finished reading. Just look at the immense Alexander McCall Smith sections for evidence. After years of all sorts of people telling me how great Behind The Scenes At The Museum was, I finally bought it in Shelter for the grand sum of 80p and finished reading it yesterday. I would have finished it sooner, but had to refrain from reading it at work because it kept making me cry. Again, I think I would have been OK if not pregnant (I cried at the pyrotechnics in the Eurovision Song Contest) so don't let that put you off. I was very proud of myself for working out what was really going on (I won't say more for fear of spoiling it) halfway through the book during one of many recent sleepless nights. It was so satisfying to realise how many little clues had been laid out that all suddenly went click, click, click into place. I was surprised to discover the book was not about a museum either :)
I picked up this very dark and mysterious book ages ago but only got round to reading it recently. I was delighted to find a little surprise hiding between the pages.
This pretty card looked a little bit out of place between pages all about "Lust, Betrayal, Secrets and Murder."
Here's what it said inside. It looks like Auntie Peggy went to a lot of effort to sign her own name at the bottom of this card. It makes me a bit teary eyed to look at. A few years back I did a whole blog post about the forgotten and misplaced things I had found inside books from charity shops. You can find the post here and I think it is well worth a look, even if I do say so myself!
I found this book the same day as The Animal Lover's Book Of Beastly Murders and am so excited about it. Chapter One is entitled The Hulder and Huldrefolk. Eep! You remember The Hulder, right?
Still available from my etsy shop here!

Anyway, enough self-promotion. There was a bookmark left between these pages too, but a proper bookmark this time, with the name and address of a bookshop in Bergen on it, so I think someone must have bought it as a souvenir while they were on holiday. (I went to Bergen once and loved it. I would so like to go back to Norway one day.) This book is so up my street I can hardly believe it, from the subject matter to the woodcut illustrations. I can't wait to read it, but somehow keep getting distracted by novels. I think I'll save this book until I have some uninterrupted time to devote to it rather than read it in bits on underground journeys, plus yesterday I picked up a copy of Tipping The Velvet. It is the only Sarah Waters book I haven't read yet and I am torn between saving it a little bit longer and getting stuck in straightaway. I think the temptation will be too much to resist, so I'll probably start reading it tonight. I love Sarah Waters. She doesn't seem like she'd be my type of author, but once I read Fingersmith (on my sister's recommendation) I knew I would have to read everything else she ever wrote.

Also found (by eagle-eyed friend Bernadette) in the charity shops yesterday - a pair of really nice maternity jeans for £1.99. Hooray! I saw the very same pair in H&M today for £30. Double hooray! I am expanding quite rapidly now so they will come in very handy, I'm sure. Some days I don't seem to grow much and other days I feel like I double in size and my whole torso creaks under the strain. I was actually scared that my bellybutton was going burst the other day. It didn't, but there is plenty of time for that yet... I think I might have felt the baby moving a few times over the last week or so, but I'm not 100% sure yet. If it has been the baby I could feel then it certainly seemed to enjoy (or possibly dislike - it's hard to tell the difference) the new sensation of going swimming this morning! I enjoyed swimming too, but it has left me so tired that I can't actually get out of this chair. Thanks for humouring this overlong blog post, which has kept me both seated and entertained :)