Monday, December 21, 2015

christmas number one?

Yowsers, this Christmas run-up has been the craziest I can remember.  I am not feeling organised at all (so much to do, so little time) and have been helping my friend prepare for her short-notice wedding TOMORROW too.  Busy, busy, busy.

I've warned Dulcie that her handmade gift from me will be delivered in January, if she's lucky, but fortunately her dad has managed to make his traditional Christmas single for her.  And here it is!  This year Dulcie discovers disco and it changes her life.  You can hear me singing apologies!  Ha!  I found the singing much easier this year, possibly because I donned the hat and downed the amaretto from the get-go.  And, yes, I do sound inappropriately sexy at points, if I do say so myself...  Sorry, Dulcie!

If you want to hear Dulcie's Christmas tunes from 2013 and 2014 too, you can find them here.  I must get Graham to upload 2012's tune too, which featured Dulcie's alter ego/wrestling persona, Diablo.

Anyway, I'm off to write out place cards for the wedding, try to find something to wear, shave my legs and make a bird feeder for my granny, even though I've missed the last Christmas post dates already.  Thank goodness Dulcie is at her grandparents' tonight.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

disco dulcie

Look, I crocheted a dress for Dulcie!  I actually started this two years ago, abandoned it, then rediscovered it and inadvertently decided to finish it.  Fortunately and inexplicably, I was making it way too big back in 2013 so it fits perfectly now.  I had no pattern or guidance of any sort for this dress, having been inspired to create it by the jumper I crocheted for Magnus, Dulcie's toy mouse.  The funny thing is, the jumper I made for the mouse didn't even fit that well, so why I ever imagined it would be as easy as simple scaling up I do not know. was.  I basically crocheted a big tube with openings for arms and head then added a couple of sleeves.  And it worked.  I have no idea how that happened.  The crochet gods must have been smiling on me, or perhaps it's just that crochet really is fail safe and fool proof.  

Yesterday was the dress's first public outing and we discovered that the rest of the world seems to love it just as much as Dulcie and I do.  So many people threw compliments Dulcie's way.  Hooray!  She looked so happy and colourful boogieing away in Paperchase.  (And how great is it for me that my four-year-old views Paperchase as a fun place to hang out? Super great!)

 As well as being perfect for disco dancing, the dress is equally good for comfy lounging about at home :)

Dulcie says she never wants to wash this dress because she plans to wear it every day, which is truly a ringing endorsement from a wannabe goth who demands she wears only black, and maybe the odd highlight of red.  More on the goth development soon...

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

'tis the season

Happy 1st December!  I'm still alive, just avoiding the computer a bit more and browsing around Pinterest when I do succumb.  That's where I got the idea for this herbal/fruit tea advent wreath that I made for my friend.  I've been doing quite a bit of making and still have a LOOOOOOONG xmas to-make list...and very little time to work on it.  But I love this time of year so much.  Back with pics of our Christmas tree soon.  Yes, it's up already!  First time I've (a) put it up in November and (b) been the first tree on the street.  Chri-i-i-i-i-i-i-istmas!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

home for hogmanay #6 and #7

Drowning in Thoughts by Kathrin Honesta, found here.

Thoughts are the only thing I'm likely to drown in at the moment, that or origami stars!  Swimming has not been going so well :(  Last week I was too busy to manage more than one swim (or to do my weekly swim update on the blog) and this week I was busy and not feeling very well and didn't swim at all.

Here are my "stats" from last week and this.

Lengths swum last week: 60
Target total last week: 510
Total lengths swum: 466 (44 behind target)

Lengths swum this week: 0
Target total this week: 595
Total lengths swum: 466 (129 behind target)

As you can see, I'm way behind and, to be honest, just wanting to abandon the pool in favour of halloween/birthday/Christmas crafting, maybe pick it up again in January.  But I'll see what I can do this coming week and decide on a new plan of action then.

Monday, October 19, 2015

we're gonna make you a sta-a-a-ar!

I'm taking it easy this afternoon, reading in the park and learning to fold these origami stars at home, just what I needed after three days of hardcore (slightly soul-destroying) day-jobbing followed by evenings and long nights of Dulcie-settling.  Yawn!  I'm hoping she magically starts to sleep when she turns four.  It'll happen, right?  Anyway...  The origami stars confused me for a while, but eventually I figured out where I was going wrong.  Easy once you know how etc.  I'm going to make a whole load of these for Christmas, I think, and possibly for the wedding of a friend too (it's my just deserts for all the cranes I made everyone fold for my own wedding!) though with nicer paper, obviously.  I might try using some magazine pages etc for my own Christmas ones, then maybe string them into a garland.  Or just hang them on the Christmas tree.  Is anyone else getting excited about Christmas yet?  Anybody?  Anybody?  I'm using impending Christmas-ness to fill the void left by the wedding being over, so am loving the shops being filled with festive goodies when it's not even Halloween yet.  I'm already anxious I don't have enough time to turn all my festive plans into reality :)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

home for hogmanay #5

 (I definitely don't look this cool in the pool, but who, other than Don Draper, ever does?!)

Lengths swum this week: 60
Target total this week: 425
Total lengths swum: 406 (19 behind target)

I've fallen behind target for the first time, but not by much and I haven't been feeling so good this week.  (Kidneys again?  Who knows, but I've got a blood test soon, so I guess we'll find out then.)  Strangely, swimming today made me feel much better than lying on the couch all day yesterday did, not that I didn't enjoy reading a book and watching two films, with a blanket, a hot water bottle and two cats!  So, swimming... I think I can claw back those missing lengths (and hopefully a few more for good measure) over the coming week.  No worries, cobber!

It was so nice to be able to google Don Draper images without fear of a self-inflicted spoiler, as Graham and I finally got to the end of the last-ever series of Mad Men last week.  So sad it's over, but I did love it.  I won't spoil any surprises for any of you, but I will share this picture of Don Draper's Double Denim (it's a thing, I swear!) which you can enjoy without fear of any major plot lines being blown.

Hummanah, hummanah!  The other weekend, I heard Katie Puckrik on 6 Music talking about the time Jon Hamm used the phrase "raging erection" in a television interview and it made steam come out of her ears.  I can quite understand and wish I'd seen it, though even hearing about it second-hand was enough to reduce me to a quivering, giggling wreck and I think I texted/whatsapped pretty much, er, everyone to share the news.  Yes, it's news! Don Draper + "raging erection" = news!  I'm going to miss Mad Men so much.  Could it be too soon to rewatch?  Probably.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

home for hogmanay #4

(This was an eBay listing from the past, I think.)

 Lengths swum this week: 60
Target total this week: 340
Total lengths swum: 346 (6 ahead of target)

I only managed to squeeze in one swim this week, I'm aiming for two again next week.  I'm definitely getting back into the swing of it, craving the pool when I'm not in it and enjoying the feeling of exercising regularly.  Plus I treated myself to a new swimming suit as my old one (well, I say old, I only got it earlier this year) was embarrassingly faded in certain (embarrassing) areas and was quite close to wearing through in the, er, seat.  It felt nice to have a smart new suit and not to be checking for accidental bum exposure at the end of each length.

I was at the heart hospital today and had an interesting conversation about how patients who feel control over their situation tend to do better/have a better prognosis.  Swimming (and the fact my heart has shown some improvement for the first time since I started doing it) definitely allows me to experience the unfamiliar feeling of having some control over my health/situation, as opposed to just being a passive tablet receptacle hoping for the best.  What is the opposite of a vicious circle?  That's what swimming is - improves my health which gives a feeling of being in control which improves my health...  You get the idea.  Basically, swimming is a win-win activity.  I can't wait to get back in the pool :) 

Friday, October 2, 2015

have a good weekend :)

Here's a happy video to get you in the mood to make the most of your weekend.  Dulcie LOVES to dance and I love to watch her, especially when she throws in the odd move that she's learned from the lady who teaches hip-hop at her nursery.  The vogue to camera was a complete surprise to me :)

My phone's microphone is broken (or maybe just rubbish) so you can't hear the music too well.  It was Malcolm McLaren's Double Dutch, a favourite from my own childhood.  No wonder Dulcie couldn't resist busting a move.  For the ultimate experience I recommend muting my video and clicking on that link to play the music in another window, then you can join in and dance with Dulcie.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

home for hogmanay #3

Lengths swum this week: 112
Target total this week: 255
Total lengths swum: 286 (31 ahead of target)

It's going well.  I think I'll only manage one swim next week, so I'm glad to have banked a few extra lengths.

In less impressive health-and-fitness news, I've gained so much weight since I got married.  Boo.  Our celebratory abandonment of our (slightly) healthier eating/drinking habits went on a bit longer than we'd planned.  I'm kicking myself.  Weight is so hard to lose and so easy to gain.  Sigh...  But you know what, I'm still a stone lighter than I was at the start of the year and am feeling like October is the month to be back on it.  I've gone tee-total for the month.  Graham and I both gave up booze for the first three weeks in August and felt so much better (and slimmer) for it.  I was so excited to lay off the booze again that I started a few days early and am on day four of my alcohol-free existence already.  I'm quite an all-or-nothing person and find it much easier to give things up completely than I do to enjoy them in real moderation.  And having a definite change in my habits is what I need to help get me refocussed and back on the straight and narrow.  I think if I lose about a pound a week between now and February (totally doable if I don't go too crazy over Christmas) I should be at my ideal/target weight by the time I next see my heart consultant.  I do love getting a gold star and a pat on the back from him, sad individual that I am.  I can do this!  Oh, yeah!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

home for hogmanay #2

La Nageuse by Sabrina Arnault

 Lengths swum this week: 64
Target total this week: 170
Total lengths swum: 174 (4 ahead of target)

Squeezed in the only swim of the week at the eleventh hour.  So pleased to have managed to stay on track.  Phew!  Going to aim for two swims next week.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

home for hogmanay #1

(I can't find the source for this image, sorry.)

Lengths swum this week: 110
Target total this week: 85
Total lengths swum: 110 (25 ahead of target)

I was pleased to discover my fitness levels hadn't dropped too much.  Still got it! :)

Monday, September 14, 2015

dipping my toe in the water

Selected cover illustrations for Book Travelers, a monthly litereture magazine. Client: Kadokawa 文芸雑誌『本の旅人』表紙/角川書店:  
Image by Tatsuro Kiuchi

I'm going to the pool tonight, for the first time in ages, to begin my next swimming challenge.  I'm aiming to swim the equivalent of the Channel (again) by the end of the year, i.e. in a little over three months, which works out at 85 lengths a week.  That seems about right, I think, though I hope I haven't lost too much of my swimming mojo during my two months on dry land...

My weeks are running Friday - Thursday (that way I have right up until the 31st of December, should I need it) and I'll post weekly updates on a Thursday, so the results will be hot off the press!  Failing to come up with an alliterative title involving the word Thursday, I think I'm going to call this challenge Home For Hogmanay, but do let me know if you have any better ideas :)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

inside the mind of an evil creative genius

 I thought I'd share some of Dulcie's best and brightest creations of late.  This first image is her drawing of a lady with a baby in her tummy.

 This is a scene from The Wizard Of Oz - Dorothy and the cyclone.  (My mum added Toto!)

It's funny because a lot of the time (most of the time) her drawings are still just scribbles then once in a while, for no apparent reason, she produces a picture that actually looks like something.  I think these are really good.

 This is the card she made recently for her cousin Kim's 10th birthday.  I cut the face out of a magazine and then let her go wild with Pritt Stick and various sparkles and doo-dahs.  I love the result, though I'll admit it is kind of scary.  Dulcie was very proud to hand it over :)
And here's the girl herself in the outfit she chose to wear this weekend.  She was adamant she wanted to wear the hat and mittens but did surrender them eventually, once she had almost been baked alive as everyone else wandered around in shorts and vests.

Not too shabby for a three-year-old, huh?  Creative genius in the making, I'm telling you!

Monday, September 7, 2015

best day of our lives :)

 Another long absence from the blog, but during that time I became a married lady.  Yes, we totally did it!  And yes, it was totally awesome!

Graham's friend Daryl volunteered himself as wedding photographer and did an amazing job, as you can see.  Here are a few photos from the ceremony, which we held in Jaconelli's cafe. 
 Look at our beautiful flower girl :)  Dulcie did such a good job and had great fun at the party afterwards.
 The registrar who carried out the ceremony was lovely and really delighted by our choice of venue.  We even have photos of him enjoying an ice cream cone before we arrived!
 You can see the cafe staff watching proceedings from the kitchen here.
 Two of our friends did a really wonderful job with the readings we asked them to do.  This was the moment we realised Daniel was delivering his John Cooper Clark poem in a Mancunian accent, dark glasses and crazy black wig.  He was a tough act for my dear friend Katharine to follow, but she handled it perfectly.
 I don't know what prompted this facial expression from me, but I like it.  I think it might have been an attempt at reassurance?  See, I'm a total natural at this wife business!
 Exchanging of the rings...
 ...and kissing with permission.  We actually kissed without permission earlier in the ceremony.  Total rebels!  Ha!
 Here we are with James, the owner of the cafe and everyone's new favourite person.  When we first asked James, rather nervously, if we could use his cafe as a wedding venue, he said yes without any hesitation and ended up probably just as excited as us about the whole thing.  He's one of life's positive and generous types, happy to welcome anyone who loves his cafe half as much as he does.  Honestly, our day wouldn't have been half so special if he hadn't played the part he did.
 After the ceremony, we joined our guests for prosecco and hot rolls (tattie scone for me, sausage for Graham, bacon for Dulcie, should you wish to know) followed by Jaconelli's famous and delicious ice cream.  The two waitresses were fantastic, really entered into the spirit of the day and looked after all our guests so well.
 James gave us free rein with the window displays.  We made these giant, glittery hearts with our faces in them (there was a wee one of Dulcie on the door too) and surrounded them with tissue paper pom poms - completely daft and over-the-top but they went down well.
 I think this is the only ceremony picture where Dulcie managed a smile.  Thank you to whichever genius blew bubbles at that precise moment!
And here are the ice cream cone bouquets that Dulcie and I carried.  The florist actually forgot to make them, as I discovered 90 minutes before the start of the ceremony, standing in the florist's still in my pyjamas and with unwashed hair!  Slightly stressful, but they cobbled these beauties together in 10 minutes and gave us them free of charge, so it all turned out OK in the end.  Honestly, the last-minute jobs in the morning (and we were wed at 11.30 so the morning was rushed enough as it was) all went so awry that I felt as though I was in a wedding episode of Neighbours from the early '90s.  Remember Dr Clive, the broken arm and the gorilla suit?  But it made for good chat later and from the moment we set foot in Jaconelli's, everything was perfect, better than we'd even imagined it could be.

I'll probably share some more photos soon.  The post-ceremony party we hosted in our flat was pretty eventful too (not sure we got any photos of the late-night singalong, mind you...) and all my handmade decorations turned out really well and made me very happy.  I'm still surrounded by them now, in fact.  I might just leave them up for Christmas :)  And then there were a few days of relaxation on honeymoon followed by a few days of fun family time (and eating of leftovers!) with Dulcie.  I'm only 10 days in, but so far, married life is awesome!  Yay!

Monday, August 17, 2015

wedding preparations

 (I've been laughing about this video since I first saw it at the turn of the century...)

Phew! I've gone admin crazy today, making appointments with every business in Glasgow, from beauticians to cheesemongers.  I think things are starting to come together?  12 days to go...

One thing I am struggling with (maybe someone reading this can help me?) is ideas for gluten-free, preferably veggie, easy-to-make canapes.  Any ideas?

Right, off to make some colour-coded lists :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

stresss (with a treble s)*

Bridezilla, moi?!  I never thought it would happen to me but it has.  I'm so flippin' stressed - horrendous and constant nausea, inability to think or sleep, SO MUCH TO DO.  Poor Graham is most likely thinking he made a terrible mistake when he agreed to marry me.
This is the week when the final bits of wedding paperwork have to be handed in, so I don't have time to think about food, clothes, decor etc.  The invitations have gone out and all our kind friends and family are stepping up with offers of help, but I can't even tell them what I need them to do and every time someone contacts me I slide deeper into my overwhelmed hole of despair.  Last night my stress levels reached their absolute peak and I narrowly avoided meltdown.  I convinced myself that I had made a mistake that meant the wedding wouldn't be able to go ahead.  Stresss!  Well, this morning I have pulled myself together and made some phone calls and got lots of things sorted and confirmed I haven't destroyed the whole wedding with my ineptitude.  Yet.  I'm still sick with anxiety but am able to have a slightly calmer inner monologue going on, just ticking jobs off the list and looking forward to next week when my to-do list will consist of fun and creative tasks.  It WILL be fun, it WILL be fun...won't it?

Anyway, in the spirit of concentrating on the positive, the postman brought lots of RSVPs today, pictured above.  I printed the RSVP cards with an ice-cream cone and asked the invited people to decorate it with a fantasy ice cream before returning it.  I'm not sure everybody understood as two cones have come back naked (boo) but the ice creams that have reached us are super fun.  I'm going to have so much amazing mail to open over the next couple of weeks.  Yippee!  Also fun has been people's reactions to the invitations, which I spent A LOT of time and effort on.  (I'll share some pics after the fact.)  Yesterday one person described the experience of opening her invite as "Joy upon joy upon joy," which was EXACTLY what I was aiming for.  It made me so happy to hear that and it's nice to be able to remind myself of my successes in wedding planning as I tackle my fears of failure in the field.  I can do this!  I hope...

* "Stresss with a treble S" is taken from this song, which I listened to a lot as a teenager.  The song hasn't particularly stayed with me, except for that expression, which loops around my brain frequently at times like this.

Monday, August 3, 2015

are you game for origami?

I'm busy, busy, busy with wedding stuff.  Despite my pesky heart throwing me a minor curve ball, I am getting there, but with less than four weeks to go, I'd have to be!  I'm making all our decorations by hand and wondered if anyone reading this would like to help by making one or two (or one or two hundred!) paper cranes?  I'm hoping to have a curtain of 1000 cranes (and the good fortune they're meant to bring) at the entrance to our reception.  I've got some friends and family on the case already, but I think they could do with some help and I love the idea of the cranes coming from all different places/people.  
The cranes can be any colour, plain or patterned, any size (within reason - there are going to be 1000, hopefully, so we can't have MASSIVE ones) and they don't have to be perfect - there'll be no crane discrimination!  You can find instructions all over the internet, e.g. here.  Two of my friends who've been folding these for me were total novices a few weeks ago and are practically pros now.

If you're up for helping us out/practising your origami, you can email me or leave a comment and I'll get in touch to let you know where to send your folded friends.  I'd probably need the cranes by August 22nd, to give me time to thread them together into a crane curtain.  Whether you make 1 or 100, I'd be very grateful and happy to receive them and I promise to share pictures of the cranes in pride of place on the big day.  Plus I think folders are party to the good fortune that 1000 cranes bring, if you believe in that sort of thing :)

Friday, July 24, 2015

this is what happens...

...when you let a three-year-old choose her own outfits.  I'd thoroughly recommend it!

Remember when I made this bee romper for Dulcie?  I thought she'd grown out of it ages ago.  Actually, she only grew out of it...six months ago?  Ha!  Well, she can squeeze into it still.  Just.  I'm happy for it to get one last outing/hoorah.  It's such a lovely romper.  I don't think I'll ever be able to part with it, but it's sad to think it will never be worn again.  Damn my sentimentality!  Damn it to hell!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

summer postcard club 2015

Graham and I have had a very productive day of wedding business today*, so I decided to take half an hour out this afternoon, to relax and write my postcards for Marceline's Summer Postcard Club.  I have a huge stash of old postcards (some that I've been hoarding for almost 20 years) and it was fun to pick a few out to send on to new homes.  I hope the recipients like them!

* I say this as if it was really taxing, but today's jobs involved hanging out in our favourite old-school cafe for a while and charity shopping for side plates and serving dishes.  Pretty much my dream day!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I might as well confess

I haven't been swimming since I completed the Channel challenge and I'm meant to be 160-odd lengths in to the four-month challenge by now.  I've decided to postpone, I'm afraid.  I'm so busy with the wedding and (even more so) getting the flat sorted in time for the wedding, and swimming is just too time consuming an activity at the moment.  I've been going on my exercise bike instead, though even that not as much as I ought to.  I'm cutting myself some slack.  I'll only get married once (hopefully) and (hopefully) I'll be a swimmer for life.  So, for now, I'm going to squeeze in the odd swim as and when I can and start the four-month challenge in September.  Phew, it feels good to confess that!  The blog is also taking more and more of a backseat for the same reasons.  Meh, blogging mojo comes and goes with me.  I'll come back to it soon, I'm sure.

The upside of all this is that real real-life progress is being made.  I'll try to share some photos soon.

Right, better go.  Dulcie came down with a stomach bug at about 1.30am last night, so we're both having an unexpected day off work/nursery.  She's being such a brave soldier.  I totally love that girl, smelling of puke or otherwise.  She's currently asleep on the living room floor.  I wrestled myself out of a two-hour long cuddle a little while ago, only for her to roll over on top of my feet.  Oh well, at least I'm on the couch now, with the computer and TV remote within arm's reach.  And we watched The Wizard Of Oz (first time for Dulcie) at 5am.  I guess tummy bugs do have their upsides if you look hard enough.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

what not to do on the hottest day of the year

Back when my wedding wasn't less than two months away (how did that happen?!) I had great ambitions for just how handmade the whole shebang would be.  That's why today, I find myself learning how to make felt balls.  Yes, I'm playing with wool and a hot kettle on the warmest day of the year.  Well, it's not THAT warm really and I am wearing shorts.  We've got workmen in today, building the bookshelves I've wanted for well over a decade and I need to be on hand for creative/design purposes (not really - I just need to choose what size of shelves my books need etc.) so I figured something like this was as productive a use of my time in the house as anything else.  I'm sure the joiners think I'm crazy.  I often get embarrassed when I'm caught making things that your average person (myself included) would think was a colossal waste of time.

Part of my reason for making the felt balls myself, when they're only destined to become one of very many garlands that nobody will particularly notice, was because I wanted to try felting, but another major consideration was cost.  Well, it definitely is working out cheaper to make my own from scratch, but not significantly so and I don't think I'll ever complain about the cost of pre-made felt balls again.  These little guys are way more time consuming than I'd imagined and much harder work too.  Thank goodness I did all that swimming to get my arm muscles ready for this!

Here's hoping my other decoration plans are a bit easier/more efficient.  And here's hoping the finished result is deemed to be worth the effort.  Oh yeah, and here's hoping we manage to get everything done on time.  Did I mention these felt balls are pretty much the only wedding-related thing so far to get beyond the imaginary stage?  Stress!

P.S.  While this isn't needle felting (I'm doing wet felting like a felting pleb) I'm going to tag this post with Craftathon 2015.  And I'm pretty sure I'm going to have plenty of wool left over, so hopefully needle felting will happen before the year is out.  The felting process is definitely weirdly satisfying, so I look forward to exploring some more.

P.P.S.  I really missed a trick by not including some variation on the hilarious, "I felt balls!"  Oh, wait, I just did :)

Monday, June 29, 2015

switch off your tv set and do something less boring instead

Dulcie and I took the bus to Edinburgh last week in order to find this house.  Do you recognise it?  It's Great Aunt Lizzie's house from CBeebies' Teacup Travels, a very old-fashioned show about ancient history.  I mistakenly thought I'd seen this house not too far from us in Glasgow and foolishly mentioned it to Dulcie before googling and finding out it was in another city entirely.  Well, Edinburgh is not that far really and is full of friends I've been meaning to catch up with, so we hopped on the bus and set off, meeting my friend Lorna once we got there.

We knew the house was somewhere in Princes Street Gardens, but where?  After a few hours' wandering, we had found some ice cream, an amazing play park, plenty of sticks and insects, a bench dedicated to Hugh MacDiarmid, a giant boulder from Norway...but no house.  Eventually we gave up and set off for home, only to stumble across the house right beside the gate we'd entered the park by!  Thank goodness, after all that, that Dulcie was actually suitably impressed and it wouldn't have been half as much fun if we hadn't had to search for it.  We squeezed in a quick cuppa (with Dulcie inexplicably stripping off in the middle of the cafe) before jumping back on the bus to Glasgow.

So a totally random daytrip, but very enjoyable nonetheless.  It's nice that Dulcie's getting to an age where she wants to go on these mini adventures.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

swim sunday #25


Lengths swum this week: 72
Target total this week: 1360
Total lengths swum: 1360

Je l'ai nage la Manche! (Translation: I've swum the Channel!)

I completed my Channel challenge on Monday, with an epic 72-length swim and 8 days to spare!  Yippee!  Given where I was at with this a few weeks back, I can't quite believe I made it, but I totally did!  I've been feeling very proud of myself all week :)

Swimming 80+ lengths a week now turned out to be easier than it was to swim 50+ lengths a week in the beginning, so I'm going to attempt to swim back in four months rather than six, meaning I should land in "Dover" by Halloween.  Yes, I'm doing it all again.  While it would be nice to think I could swim aimlessly and achieve the same result fitness-wise, I know I need a weekly kick up the arse to keep me on track and motivate me, so, in the words of Edith Piaf, "Je repars a zero," which (I think!) translates as, "I start again from zero." Quite a thought...but, weirdly, not a bad one.

For the swim back, my weeks are going to run Wednesday - Tuesday, so I'll be calling my weekly blog updates Wet Wednesday, unless I can think of something better.  If I've done my sums right, I need to swim an average of 80 lengths a week, but I'm going to try to bank more in the early stages in anticipation of the fact that August's wedding will likely throw a spanner in the works.  Watch this space/the horizon!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

keep smiling through...

I feel bad to post this since Dulcie's been close to angelic for the last 48 hours, but this photo does kind of typify life with this particular 3.5-year-old at the moment, especially life on nursery days.  She knows what she wants and she thinks she knows how to get it :)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

swim sunday #24

Lengths swum this week: 110
Target total this week: 1279
Total lengths swum: 1288 (9 ahead of target)

I'd need to swim 72 lengths this week to meet next week's target...AND COMPLETE THE CHANNEL SWIM!

Sorry I blabbed mid-week and made this post even less exciting than it might have been.  I actually hoped to squeeze in another swim over the weekend, but it was not to be.  But yes, I'm all set to complete my Channel swim on time by the end of the month and I'm so excited!  It seemed all was lost a few weeks back so I'm glad to have pulled it back together at the eleventh hour.  
I was doing a lot of reminiscing in the pool this week and realised how much fitter I am now than I was in January.  I can swim faster and further with less negative side effects afterwards.  I'm also finding day-to-day life much easier - I'm definitely stronger and puffing and panting a bit less.  And, of course, my heart scans have been showing better results too.  It's all good, good, good.  Hooray for swimming!

I'll tell you about my post-Channel plans once I've actually completed the challenge.  Watch this space... :)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

check this out!

I know it's not Swim Sunday yet, but I'm just saying...  Getting so close!  Fate may be conspiring against me (work has chosen next week to send me on a three-day first-aid course and my usual Monday night swim-sitter can't do it on the 29th) but there is no way this Channel will not be swum on time!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

lovely (does this blog post make me sound like an old lady?)

Dulcie came back from my mum and dad's yesterday looking very proud of this beautiful bunch of flowers she'd picked for me from the garden.  Honestly, I think they might be the nicest flowers I've ever had.  Dulcie has been telling me the names of some of these and pointing out the arrangement's best features.  So sweet.  When she doesn't know the name of one, she puts on the funniest over-the-top trying-to-remember face, hums and haws for a minute, then says, "I don't bemember. Can you tell me?"  Sadly, she really does know more than me about plants so I can't help her much!
The vase the flowers are in was a Christmas gift (via the charity shop) from my sister, very similar to a vase of hers that I love and also similar to one I saw in a French charity shop but couldn't fit in my suitcase.  The cards, with beautiful sentiments inside, arrived for Dulcie and I recently from a very dear friend, just because. 
I wouldn't class myself as materialistic, but thoughtful gifts like these really make my day :)

Monday, June 15, 2015

all about the snails, bout the snails (no sluggies)

 Dulcie is creepy-crawlie mad these days and especially loves snails.  She found this tiny one on our front steps and the only way we could persuade her not to take it to live in the house was by taking it to live in the park instead.  Dulcie fetched it these leaves and I carried it all the way.  It took ages before it felt brave enough to poke its head out of its shell but it was so flippin' cute when it did.  I ended up wanting to take it home too!  (We didn't, it now resides in the snail penthouse, Kelvingrove Park.)
In other snail news, I was asked to test-run some satsuma snails for a first birthday party this week and the result was pretty adorable.  Not a patch on the amazing spread the birthday girl's mum had laid on, mind you.  I'm talking cheese mice, pretzel butterflies, strawberry toadstools and Babybel ladybirds.  So sweet!  All the ideas were harvested from our collaborative "fun food" board on Pinterest and I expect a fair few of them will reappear at our wedding in August.  I've already hired my friend on the basis of her first-birthday spread!  It was good to see things being made instead of just pinned for once.  Must do more of that asap!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

swim sunday #23

This is exactly how I feel today.  Sketch of a tired swimmer taking a dive by the very talented Non-Indigenous Woman.
Lengths swum this week: 60
Target total this week: 1198
Total lengths swum: 1178 (20 behind target)

I'd need to swim 101 lengths this week to meet next week's target.
I was hard pushed to make it to the pool at all this week.  Dulcie has been off nursery, fighting off some sort of virus. She has been mum-limpeting non-stop (and not managing to sleep for coughing) since we got back from our holiday, so my planned mid-week/Saturday swim sessions were scuppered but I squeezed one in this morning - the first time Dulcie hasn't been physically attached to me since Wednesday.  Maybe I shouldn't have gone (I'm a wreck now) but I couldn't stand the thought of a zero-lengths total for the week. I'm only about four swims away from finishing the challenge.  Exciting!  But then what will I do to keep myself going back to the pool?  So far I haven't come up with anything more exciting than swimming back across the Channel by Christmas.  Anyone got any better ideas?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

swim sunday #22

Lengths swum this week: 62
Target total this week: 1118
Total lengths swum: 1118 (on target)

I'd need to swim 80 lengths this week to meet next week's target.

Sorry this post is a couple of days late.  I didn't get round to blogging while we were at my sister's over the weekend, but the swimming was completed on schedule, I promise!

You'll have gathered we're back from our holidays, literally just in the door.  Dulcie had a blast with her cousins.  I was officially TOO HOT but enjoyed myself nonetheless and found a hidden talent for hula hooping.  I'm still feeling good health-wise, so it's back to work tomorrow morning.  It's been a long time (cue the deleting of a million emails) but hopefully I won't need to take any more time off sick for the foreseeable future.  How nice to be able to say that with a modicum of confidence :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I'm happy, I'm happy!

Image by Lorenzo Montatore.  
I wanted to buy this print from him but it's no longer available and he doesn't respond to my begging emails :(  Considering becoming an art pest/stalker.

I am still feeling so happy after yesterday's good news.  Yippee-ay-ayo!  I've been smirking all morning.  Every time Graham looks at me, I pound my chest proudly.  This is bloomin' amazing.

In other reasons to be cheerful, Dulcie and I are going to France tomorrow to stay with my sister and her family for a few days.  Dulcie doesn't know yet and is going to be so excited when she realises where we're going.  Girls on tour!  Oh, yeah!  Graham is staying at home to get on with the decorating.  Poor Graham.  I'm looking forward to coming back to woodwork that's whiter than the magnolia walls!

Anyway, I'd better go and get organised  because I want to squeeze in a swim too.

I'm happy, I'm happy :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

getting stronger!

Given my recent kidney incident, my heart checkups got moved forward by a couple of months to make sure there wasn't any sinister heart business behind it all.  Yesterday I went for an echo of my heart and today I saw my consultant to discuss the results and, for the first time since all the heart failure kicked off, I had bona fide GOOD NEWS - there has been a significant improvement in my heart function.  Whoop!  I mean, it's still essentially buggered and all, but not as buggered as it has been and I am delighted!  Beyond delighted!  Of course, my medication and "magic machine" may be helping in the background (they probably are) but I think we can safely put this recent improvement squarely down!  It's my swimming and my exercise biking and my weight loss (1.5 stone and counting) and my general hard heart graft.  Go me!  Yes, go me!  Whoop!  I've been walking around with a cheesy grin on my face all day.  Well, apart from when I felt crap and had to have a lie down, but generally...whoop!  I'm super excited to think that I might be able to keep improving things, up to a point at least, and it's just amazing to feel some sort of control over the situation at long last.  And lately (since my kidneys started working again) I've been weirdly enjoying exercise and wanting to do it and I'm loving my new muscles and the feeling of being strong and on top of things.  2015 is going to be the year when things started getting better, people.  Whoop!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

swim sunday #21

This is Gertrude Ederle, the first woman (and sixth person) known to have swum the Channel.  What a lady!  I think I might adopt her as my mental mascot, though my own swimming challenge is going pretty well at the moment.  I've rediscovered my determination.

Lengths swum this week: 110
Target total this week: 1037
Total lengths swum: 1056 (19 ahead of target)

I'd need to swim 62 lengths this week to meet next week's target.
Swimming highlight of the week: being overtaken (repeatedly) by a one-armed man.  Ha ha!

Monday, May 25, 2015

progress report

The shelves are up!  Waaah!  They did take us a whole bank holiday to put together, but they're done and they seem level and secure.  While we were on such a furniture assembly roll, we decided to put together our two new chairs from Ikea.  They're actually for the hall, but we'll keep them in the living room until we've decorated the hall and got a new sofa for in here.  The cool cat cushion on the chair belongs to Dulcie, a present from her Auntie Kerry.  She keeps it in her tent usually but she gave us permission to use it on these chairs.  It's nice to have it out on display - rare to find something loved by all three of us.  The things on the shelves may or may not stay, we just shoved on a few random items tonight to give us an idea of how they might look in the end.

Our living room is feeling so grown-up and tidy and homely tonight, a far cry from its usual state.  Graham has gone out to get us a well-earned bottle of wine and we're going to relax and watch a film before bed glorious bed.  And Dulcie is staying with her granny tonight so I'll actually get some sleep.  Well, it IS a bank holiday after all.  Phew.

when you can't get to the cinema, the cinema must come to you

We're doing up our hall at the moment and have been looking at super-skinny benches, vintage cloakroom stands, various coat hooks and dinky seats.  Then last night, in a moment of madness, we threw all consideration to the wind and bought these three very old cinema seats on eBay.  They will fit in the space, it's just they'll take up more of it than is ideal, but we couldn't resist.  Never start measuring for furniture with three minutes left before the auction ends!  I do love these and part of me thinks they might look amazing and do just what we want them to, but an equally large part of me thinks they might look terrible and cause us no end of headaches and regret.  But if they do work out, how amazing?!  These days my design decisions ("design decisions") are usually motivated by how much I think Dulcie will enjoy the item in question.  There's no way she won't love these chairs.  And we got them for a total bargain price.  Though why, like everything else we love on eBay, they had to be located in the south of England, I don't know.  We got a good price for a courier through Shiply, but even a good price is still more than the cost of the chairs.
Life would be so much easier if we liked right angles and modern mass-produced furniture more, and if our flat was boxier instead of a fluid bowl of wobbliness.  I'm touching wood that these chairs will easily slot into place, but my confidence is not being increased by our current attempt to put our Ladderax/String shelving together.  This is attempt number three and we have been at it all morning and not a single shelf is in place.  (The photo above is from the eBay listing, we are nowhere near achieving this.) We are now bolting the bastards to the wall (excuse my language - DIY brings out the worst in me) and I'm still not convinced they'll withstand life in a house with a three-year-old and two cats.  I think it will be at least a year before I feel it's safe to put anything remotely breakable on them.  Honestly, I wish we'd never laid eyes on them.  Hopefully I won't be saying the same about our cinema seats in the coming weeks...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

swim sunday #20

Lengths swum this week: 70
Target total this week: 957
Total lengths swum: 946 (11 behind target)

I'd need to swim 91 lengths this week to meet next week's target.

Swi-i-i-i-im in the end! :)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

stripe after stripe after stripe...

I'm at home with the plasterer again today.  He's working on our hall, so I'm kind of trapped in the living room and can't be particularly productive in any sensible way.  To entertain myself, I've been crocheting a rainbow-striped jumper for Dulcie - no pattern, just a Dulcie-sized tube.  Who knows whether or not it will work out, but Dulcie is pretty excited about it already.  I made the first two stripes of this about a year and a half ago and then accidentally abandoned it.  Fortunately, I'd made it way too big so it will (hopefully!) fit her now.  If it doesn't pan out as a jumper, I might make it into a cushion cover or a pyjama case or something.  Yeah, I'm just mindlessly crocheting stripes really.  It's nice to have an excuse to waste time like this.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

as exciting as my life gets

 I treated myself to this book on Amazon and I'm so looking forward to reading it.  I'm confident it will be right up my street and the cover makes me doubly excited.
Another grim (see what I did there?) but exciting sight is our hall.  Look at the state of it!  Graham has been a busy bee, stripping all the wallpaper in preparation for replastering.  Actually, Dulcie has been helping him and loving it.  She's desperate to strip all the rest of our wallpaper now so we'll need to keep a close eye on her!  The plasterer is coming this morning.  Exciting indeed!

Our hall has been a disastrous dumping ground for so long and I can't wait for it to be a welcoming space that I can be proud of...even if I can't allow visitors beyond it!  The wall where the ladder's standing is (hopefully) going to be full of bookshelves.  An actual home library!  I've dreamed about this for years and years and can hardly wait to see it completed, not least because it means I won't have to climb over bags and boxes of books all over the place.
While stripping back the hall, we realised that lots of our unsightly wires and cables were obsolete, but we got a bit carried away with the excitement of ripping them out and accidentally disconnected our phone and internet.  Oops.  The disconnection was a definite team effort (the best way to make such blunders) but poor overworked Graham was very frustrated and unable to see the funny side.  Lucky for him, I channelled my inner Girl Guide (and my physics qualification!) and worked out how to fix it, doing away with about 10 metres of unsightly, paint-covered, unnecessary wire in the process.  I can hardly explain how proud this picture makes me.  And yes, it does look very dodgy but it is safe and only a temporary measure while I wait for some jelly crimps to arrive from eBay.  Jelly crimps!  See, I've even got the lingo!  I'm practically a phone engineer, you know.