Friday, January 30, 2015

mousie mousie

Dulcie and I have been playing quite a bit of Mousie Mousie lately.  Does anyone else remember this game?  I used to play it ALL THE TIME with my granny when I was wee and just loved it.  I'm surprised how much I still enjoy it now.  It's recommended for age 6 and up, but if you don't bother with the counters to keep score, it's easily simple enough for a three-year-old to understand and enjoy.  Basically, if the catcher rolls a red or a blue on the dice, they try to catch the other players' mice with a cup, while the other players try to whip their mice out of danger.  The set we have in our house (I'm not even sure where it came from) only has three of the six mice left, but that's just fine for our miniature family.

I'm so excited at the thought of playing more board games as Dulcie gets a bit older.  One day we'll be able to play Ludo together!  Can you believe it?!  Ludo!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

lola the wonder cat

Both our cats are ridiculously annoying.  They are loud and greedy and messy and disgusting, they destroy everything, they pillage and plunder, they cause so many grumpy moods amongst us.  Lola, in fact, is especially annoying with her constant moo-quacking, her ability to steal any food that is anywhere other than the fridge, and her extreme white hairiness that floats around in clumps and lands on every surface.  She drives us crazy.  Crazy!
But, oh, she is so lovely underneath it all.  She's such a snuggly and sociable cat (she ADORES me - isn't it nice how pets let you know just how they feel about you?) and puts up with so much "love" from Dulcie.  Here she is being decorated with Dulcie's extensive sticker collection...
...and allowing yet another hug.  Dulcie calls her Lilo Lill.  They are such a sweet pair.

Poppy, I should add, doesn't allow this sort of thing, but still gives Dulcie special treatment, by which I mean she doesn't spit at her like she does the rest of us!  Ha!  My new theory (not sure why it's taken me nearly nine years to come up with this) is that Poppy is blind and therefore edgy about sudden movements.  It's not her fault she's such a meanie, honest!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

cold days at the park

 It can be hard to persuade Dulcie to leave the house these days, so when she said she wanted to spend Friday afternoon in the park, I felt I couldn't refuse, even though the weather was atrocious.  We had the park all to ourselves, but looking at this picture, that's hardly surprising.  It was basically a rainy ice rink.
 The Botanics as a whole were pretty much deserted, except for the people who were getting things ready for the mysterious Electric Gardens event.  Lots of interesting objects were popping up (this giant ice lolly was our favourite) and Dulcie and I had fun dancing in the rain while they tested the PA system with some music.  And there were no other members of the public there to witness out silliness.  Score!
 When the rain got really heavy, we hung out in the orchid and cactus houses, but there were plenty of muddy puddles to jump in once we reemerged.  Dulcie was doing some pretty impressive splashing, as you can see from the state of her face.  I ended up not looking much cleaner.
We were both soaked and maukit by the time we got home and had to throw all our clothes in the washing machine and drink hot chocolate in our dressing gowns :)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

swim sunday #3

This picture is from one of my favourite vintage craft books.

Target total this week: 163
Lengths swum this week: 10
Total lengths swum: 130 (33 behind target)

I'd need to swim 88 lengths this week to meet next week's target. Gulp!

Not a great week really, but it could have been worse.  I thought I wasn't going to make it to the pool at all, but I squeezed in a mini swim at the eleventh hour (this morning).  I went to the pool with Dulcie and Graham and Graham managed to put up with Dulcie's protests long enough for me to do those ten lengths.  I spent the rest of the time splashing around in the baby pool.

I feel like I've slightly wavered from the straight and narrow in all aspects this week.  Just one of those weeks, I'm not going to feel too bad about it.  I've got a couple more days of lazy living and tasty treats (it's Graham's birthday this week and we have non-Dulcie plans on Monday and Dulcie-included plans on Tuesday) but I'll be back on the right path come Wednesday and will aim to make a bit of a dent in the lengths I'm down by later in the week.  When you fall off the horse, you've just got to get back on, right?  Yee ha!

Thursday, January 22, 2015


 Have you had snow where you are?  Have you been enjoying it?
 While I was working this weekend, Dulcie and her dad (who she's being much nicer to - she must have appreciated his Christmas song!) hung out in Kelvingrove park. 
I don't think we really had snow last year, so this is the first time Dulcie's experienced it in her memory.  She's been loving it - visiting and naming all the snowmen in the neighbourhood, having snowball fights, watching the sledgers, tramping through the crunchy top layer with her wellies, putting snow down the drains and "making it into water".
 On Friday, when the snow really started, Dulcie was having a day of lounging around in her pyjamas, refusing to get dressed or leave the house, but the snow was the perfect excuse to get her up and out.  It was already getting dark by the time we got out there, but we still managed to make this mini snowgirl.  Yes, snowGIRL, and don't you dare call it a snowman in Dulcie's earshot!
Dulcie was so excited to get out and in amongst it, charging around and falling over constantly.  "I'm all right!"  She could hardly wait to experience a snowball fight and took being icily smashed in the face (terrible mothering) in very good humour!  What a gal :)

I've really had enough of negotiating the icy pavements, but I'll take it on the chin if it means Dulcie can enjoy some more frosty fun.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

hooses for mooses and spiders in hats

Behold, a regular old tin of mints.  Open it up and...
What's this?  A teeny-tiny bed for a...
...mouse, a mouse in a peppermint striped dress.
 Here she is, tucked up in her bed.

This is one of my makes from last year that I couldn't share until Christmas was past, for fear of ruining surprises.  Not that my youngest niece, Elsie (nearly 3), reads my blog, but her mum does and sometimes it's nice for parents to get a surprise too.  I was a bit sad to part with this mouse.  Like most things I make from my imagination, she didn't turn out quite how I'd pictured (for example, she only has red shoes because I made her too tall for the tin and had to hack her feet off!) but I hope you'll agree she's lovely nonetheless.

I didn't make as many handmade gifts this year, so Elsie was the only one to get something handmade from her auntie.  It wasn't favouritism, just that her older brother and sisters have had lots of handmade presents over the years but Elsie, arriving so close to Dulcie, has kind of missed out on that.  I try to make amends whenever I can.
One of Elsie's unique selling points is her passionate love of spiders.  I'd got Christmas decorations for all her siblings (including an amazing dinosaur bauble from Designosaur for my nephew) but couldn't find a Christmas spider anywhere.  Surprising, huh?  Ha!  So I decided to crochet one.

I used this pattern and learned an amazing invisible decrease in the process.  It really is invisible, even on a black spider with white stuffing.  I wish I'd known about it when I made Dulcie's Foxy.  The Santa hat I just ad-libbed.  This is why I love crochet - I'm a relative beginner and yet I can ad-lib a Santa hat in a jiffy.
Mr Spider hung around on our Christmas tree for a while before we wrapped him up.  I was a bit sad to part with him, but it seemed only fair that he went to live with the spider lover in our lives :)

Monday, January 19, 2015

the sweetness at the bottom of the pie

I'm meant to be at the pool.  I said I would be, but I'm not.  Instead, I've spent most of the morning in bed, finishing this book.  I enjoyed it so much!  Am I starting to like crime fiction, or is it just that I like stories about precocious girls in crumbling abodes?  Either way, so good!  And a very pleasant change of pace following on from 100 Years Of Solitude, which I found slow and hard-going, though not unenjoyable for all that.

Not that I have any hope of completing the Semi-Charmed Book Challenge any more (Gabriel Garcia Marquez and his 22 characters named Aureliano put paid to that!) but I've done a bit of a rejig of my categories and am still going to keep going and see how many points I can amass.  Here's what I'm planning to read now.  (Red means yet to read, green means I've read it.)

5 points: Freebie!
 THE DEATH OF BUNNY MUNRO (Nick Cave - 288 pages, audiobook) 

10 points: Read a book written by an author who has published at least 10 books.
 THE GRAVE TATTOO (Val McDermid - 400 pages) 

10 points: Read a book of short stories.
 VAMPIRES IN THE LEMON GROVE (Karen Russell - 243 pages) 

10 points: Read a book with a food in the title.
 (Alan Bradley - 363 pages) 

15 points: Read the first book in a series that is new to you.
 SHADOW OF THE WIND (Carlos Ruiz Zafon - 487 pages) 

15 points: Read a book that was originally written in a language that is not your native language.
100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE (Gabriel Garcia Marquez - 457 pages) 

15 points: Read a book written by a local author.
BUDDHA DA (Anne Donovan - 352 pages) 

20 points: Read a "bookish book.
 THE THIRTEENTH TALE (Diane Setterfield - 456 pages) 

20 points: Read a book with a direction in the title.
 EAST, WEST (Salman Rushdie - 224 pages) 

25 points: Read a book from a genre you don't usually read.
(Christabel Bielenberg - 288 pages, autobiography) 

25 points: Read a book with a song lyric in the title.
 FREEDOM (Jonathan Franzen - 576 pages) 
(i.e. Freedom by George Michael) 

30 points: Read two books with a different meal in each title.
and THE CORONER'S LUNCH (Colin Cotterill - 272 pages)
125 points achieved, 75 points to go!  I'm already predicting that Grave Tattoo and Freedom won't be read, or at least not before the challenge deadline is upon me.  Ah, well, I can but try and I could always sacrifice swimming for reading...?  Yes, nice try, Laura.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

swim sunday # 2

I ain't no Esther Williams!

Target total this week: 109
Lengths swum this week: 30
Total lengths swum: 120 (11 ahead of target)

I'd need to swim 43 lengths this week to meet next week's target.

So, the big picture is that I'm doing well, being 11 lengths ahead of my rough overall target.  But the finer detail paints a different picture.  I am finding this so hard.  Worrying about my neck/back, since I do slow breast stroke with a very poor raised-head technique, I decided to mix up my routine and swim back stroke now and again when the pool was quiet.  I'd always found back stroke easy, but I guess I hadn't tried it much since Heartgate.  I got into the pool, swam two slow lengths and had a near-death experience as a result.  I guess the kicking required is a lot more aerobic than my usual frog legs.  It was horrible and I had zero faith that the lifeguard would spot me slipping under the water in an unconscious swoon, but was trying to judge just the right moment to shout for help, i.e. not so soon that it might turn out to be an embarrassing false alarm but not so late that I might actually die on his "watch".  So I didn't shout, but I did kneel in the shallow end and wrap my arms around the bars and cling on for dear life until I recovered my vision and could breathe and wasn't listening to a frantic pulse in my ears.  Well, I guess it couldn't have been THAT frantic as my defibrillator didn't go off!  Small mercies etc... Ha!  Anyway, I lived to tell the tale and even swam another 28 lengths (of super-slow breast stroke, of course!) before leaving the pool.  Then I went home and passed out on the bed and was fit for nothing else.  Though I did end up doing some gardening - or should I say, "gardening" - despite the exhausted wooziness and general lack of oxygen.  Ee gads!

So, the plan?  Well, no more back stroke for a start!  I'm quite happy to remain a slow breast-stroker, if you'll pardon the clumsy expression.  Slow and steady might not win the race, but at least it crosses the finish line alive, touch wood.  And I'm trying to weigh up the rest:exercise ratio and figure out what's more important to me because the only times I can swim this week are times I really want to be resting.  (And tidying, which I know should be further down the priority list, but I'm thinking a tidier house would facilitate resting, which is high up the priority list, hence the fact I should be resting and not tidying.  Or swimming?  I think you can see my problem!)

I'm going to force myself to go swimming on my rare day off tomorrow, but I will take it easy and not worry too much about how many lengths I manage.  And I won't force myself to squeeze in another swim this week.  One is enough when I'm tired and busy and have almost 5.5 months of challenge left, right?  Right.

And in the larger scheme of things heart-related, I've asked work if I can reduce my hours.  It was kind of a scary decision, but now I'm so excited at the prospect.  I think it will make my life so much more manageable and enjoyable, if a little less financially stable.  But, you know, priorities.  And you know I'm trying not to view it as a slippery sloping downward spiral, don't you?  Yeah!  It's not, it's not, it's not.  It could be the start of an uphill climb :)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

swim sunday #1

1950's Vintage Swimsuit 
 (This vintage swimming suit available here.)

So, here I am with my first Swim Sunday check-in.  I went swimming after work on Thursday despite really not feeling well and almost failing to climb the stairs out of the underground.  I struggled through 34 lengths and felt thoroughly demoralised and started wondering if the challenge was actually going to be too challenging.  However, feeling the pressure of this post looming, I managed to squeeze in a second swim today, thanks to Graham taking Dulcie swimming at a different pool at the same time!  (She won't let me do lengths if I swim in her vicinity.)  And today I felt much better and managed 56 lengths and enjoyed every one of them.  The tramp through the rain to get there and back was less enjoyable, as was being soaked through to my underwear.  The walk home was also a step too far, physically, and I haven't been fit for much else since I got home.  I almost knocked on my neighbours' doors because I was scared to be alone in case I died, that's how tired I was.  So a lesson learned - take it easy(ish) and at least remember to spare enough energy for the journey home!  But aside from exhaustion, I'm feeling great.  I'm ahead of the game and have a few lengths stored up for weeks where I don't have a good-heart day where I can make it to the pool.  I'm doing this, people!


So here are my stats for this week.  I'll repeat this in each Swim Sunday post, as much for myself as anyone else.  I realise this probably isn't that exciting for my readers, but I need this to keep me motivated, I think.

Lengths swum this week: 90
Cumulative target for this week: 54
Total lengths swum: 90 (36 lengths ahead of schedule! Go, me!)

Cumulative target for next week: 109
Lengths needed to meet that: 19

Has anyone else been joining in?  Care to share your progress, or lack of?

Friday, January 9, 2015

edinburgh, anyone?

15 01 01 Malayantapir Mumsayangandbabymekongmale 1 MD
Look who's been born at Edinburgh Zoo!  Who knew Malaysian tapirs were so adorable?  I just showed these pictures to Dulcie.  After asking what kind of animal it was, her first response was, "Mummy, why is the baby so CUTE?"  Why indeed, Dulcie. Why indeed!  I think we might need to make a pilgrimage to the zoo soon.
15 01 01 Malayantapir Babymekongmale 1 MD

Saturday, January 3, 2015

craftathon 2015!

Long-time readers of this blog might remember Craftathon 2011, where I challenged myself to try my hand at 16 creative activities over the course of the year.  Considering the unexpected twists and turns the year took (three months of morning sickness, a diagnosis of heart failure, the birth of a premature baby, two months spent in hospital) and my general inability to stick to my goals without getting distracted, the challenge was pretty successful.  The highlight was learning to crochet (making the beloved ripple blanket, pictured above) which is now my go-to craft for all occasions.

But there were plenty of crafts on the list that I didn't get round to, as well as some that I've developed a hankering for since, so I've decided (despite the fact I should be concentrating on other more important but less exciting areas) to launch Craftathon 2015.  Yay!  It's not going to be the epic of 2011, but its more modest scale should fit in better with my lower levels of time and energy.  I'm also thinking having less crafts on the list will give me more opportunity to pursue crafts not on the list at the same time because I already know I want to crochet, embroider, do a Gocco print etc, but I want to prioritise these crafts I have rarely or never attempted.

So, here's the list...which I'm reserving the right to amend if there's anything I've neglected!

1. Beading
2. Paper cutting/collage
3. Lino printing
4. Lace making
5.  Sew an item of clothing for myself
6. Needle felting

I'm hoping I'll have lots of fun, maybe find another new long-term hobby and have some nice finished products to keep for myself or to give to others.  Selling my wares is not going to be my priority, I just want to enjoy myself.  Is anyone else planning a crafty challenge for themselves this year?

Friday, January 2, 2015

looking for a new year challenge?

Remember about six months ago I challenged myself to swim the equivalent of the Channel in six months?  Well, I failed (as you know) but I'm being all Robert the Bruce about it and am going to try, try, try again.  I even treated myself to a lap counter (pictured above) which I am predicting will be the best £10 ever spent as swim time will become thinking time instead of counting time.  Multitasking to the max!

So I'm starting this challenge now and am aiming to swim the "Channel" by the end of June.  I've worked out the Channel is the equivalent of 1360 lengths in a 25 metre pool.  Leaving myself a few spare days at the start of January (realistically I know I won't be getting anywhere near the pool until the 5th at the very earliest) and a few days at the end of June to squeeze in any last-minute emergency lengths, this works out at just over 50 lengths a week, 54.4 to be exact!  I'm going to update the blog with my progress each Sunday (give or take) in a dedicated Swim Sunday post in the hope that this will keep me on the straight and narrow.  I've worked out how many lengths I should have achieved by each Sunday between now and June, working on the basis of swimming an equal amount each week (which I know won't be the case) so I can see how I'm getting on throughout.

Anyway, I just wanted to ask whether anyone fancied joining in this time?  My sister, Kerry, and her friend Anest are both going to give it a go and I'm recruiting you, Caihsnah, since you already have a lap counter!  Ha!  So that's four of us so far.  I'm thinking the more the merrier really, although anyone who starts putting us doggy-paddlers to shame will, of course, be "promoted" to swimming the ACTUAL Channel! ;)  My thinking was that anyone who felt it would help them to keep going could leave a comment on my Swim Sunday posts to tell us about their progress or whatever, but of course you could also join in anonymously if that suited you better.

P.S. Happy New Year!