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Don't you just hate ignored blogs? Erm…

Cocker spaniel resting on a pregnancy bump

Don’t you just hate it when you pop over to a blog and find no one’s posted for an age? *looks at own blog and hangs head in shame*

I hate neglected blogs, especially when previous content has been good (making no assumptions about my own here, by the way), they make me feel sad and I wonder when the author will get back on track of if the blog’s been abandoned forever.

Well, this blog hasn’t been thrown into the online graveyard, it’s very much alive and I have every intention of boring entertaining you with my prose from here on in.

The thing is, I’ve been kinda busy. My blogging mojo well and truly disappeared when I got pregnant in May last year. I was as sick as a dog and looking at a laptop screen made it worse. In the second trimester, while I felt much better, time was consumed with a busy job and preparing for motherhood. It was kinda like growing a baby sucked out my creative energy and while I had plenty of ideas for posts, I just couldn’t commit them to type. And in the third trimester we decided to grow up and buy a house (great excuse not to move heavy boxes, not so great if your head tells you you can still climb ladders, paint walls and hang pictures etc, but your body’s telling you no fecking way) which was really rather close to Christmas. I then had to wrap up at work (the first time my work ‘to do’ list has ever gone down), sort out Christmas stuff (buying presents, decorating, making mince pies etc) and then spent a couple of weeks simply enjoying my maternity leave. This mostly means walking the dog and catching up with friends/nesting in the morning, and then watching TV and sleeping in the afternoon. Bliss!

And here we are, almost due to pop and no blog posts for an age. I have revamped the design of my website, you may have noticed, which is still work in progress and today I thought it about time I committed at least a few words to the blog to show some willing. And my intention to blog on from here on in.

So, what else can I tell you? I can say that my MA in Online Journalism at BCU (see projects tab above) has been put on hold for a year – wrapping up work, moving house AND completing a challenging MA asssignment just before Christmas proved a little too much to take on when heavily pregnant and I decided to delay. Semi gutted about it but it’s the right decision; if you’re going to do things, do them properly. And it’s hard to work late into the evening when you’re fat, sore and struggle to stake awake past 9pm.

I’m also, as referenced above, a home owner. Having been on the rental market (happily so) for a good five or so years, we decided to grow up and buy. This was triggered by a few things – the prospect of being parents made us want a bit more security and the ability to drill holes in walls without losing a deposit; we found a lovely Victorian terrace we actually wanted to own and put our stamp on; our rental was too big and I don’t want to spend my maternity leave cleaning; and the fact that our mortgage is actually a lot cheaper than our last rental. I love where we live and look forward to starting our family here.

So, what’s next? Well, tomorrow’s challenge will be trying to walk the dog in frost and snow while trying to stay upright. My bulging belly throws me off kilter and while hubby would prefer me to stay home, I have a clingy cocker spaniel (who uses my tummy as a cushion) to keep fit. After that, I plan to sneeze and pop out my first born who will sleep through the night, never cry and provide the family with hours of endless joy while I continue to hone my online skills and find time for coffee and cake with friends. I have plans to ensure the old grey matter stays in tact by learning some new online tricks, helping hubby with his web design business and blogging. Yes, I said blogging, so watch this space.

The bit about sneezing out a baby (I may well be in denial about pain/sleep deprivation and the practical elements of parenting) may be a tad unrealistic but I live in hope.

So, that’s it from me – for now.

Loving that frugal feeling

books

I love the word thrifty and am a big fan of Mrs Thrifty’s blog: she offers top tips on saving money and spending wisely. This is not something, until recently, that hubby and I have been good at.

We’ve always chosen the quick/easy/lazy option and that often means waste and expense. Take, for example, the amount of food we throw away because it rots before we get around to eating it. Then we complain we have nothing much to eat and splurge on a take-away. Lose-lose.

I’m not keen on clutter either, although it always seems to gather somewhere – why do men open letters then put them back in the envelope before sticking them in a drawer!! – and I probably have hundreds of tealight holders thanks to my addiction to GU puddings that come in those little glass dishes.

Usually we’d take the quick route and stick our clutter a bin bag every once in a while and leave it for the binmen to deal with. But on discovering our more frugal side, we’ve discovered a better way.

People shop in the dark at 5am – can you believe it!

A few weeks ago I did a car boot sale. Yes, it meant getting up at 4.30am – why the hell to they start at 5am when it’s pitch black!? – and standing in the cold for a good seven hours, but me and my mate Angie (hubby point blank refused to help on this one) had a laugh and made almost £200 between us. Mostly for selling junk! And can you believe people shop at car boots at 5am with torches on their heads!? That’s dedicated bargain hunting for ya.

So, yes, I had to deal with people complaining that a sports watch didn’t have a battery in it – well Mr, that’s why I’m offering to sell it to you for 50p!!! – and letting go of once-loved shoes and boots for just £2 a pair. But these items went to good homes, I no longer used or needed them, and pence makes pounds. And trust me, with a baby on the way (turns out little people need a lot of stuff), that money comes in handy. I earned almost £100 for a morning hanging out with my mate when usually I’d have dumped everything in a bin bag for speed. Well worth doing!

We also have lots of items at home that we don’t use, want or need any longer. Car booters aren’t willing to pay much for anything so things like Uggs, electrical items, designer handbags and dresses were whacked on eBay. Yes, there’s an investment of time here, loading the items on and having to package and send them somewhere, but I still made money – £50 for a pair of Uggs that sat gathering dust in the bottom of the wardrobe, and £50 for a stack of DVDs that did little more than take up much-needed storage space. Again, well worth doing.

No more shopping with our stomachs

Then there are items of furniture. With a house move on the horizon, I’m keen not to transport furniture we don’t need or want to the new place. And the garage has been home to a table and chairs, a TV stand and other items for well over a year now. They’re no good to anyone in there! So I whacked them up on the intranet noticeboard at work, offered up at cheapo prices and made in excess of £250 for selling unused bikes, unwanted dining furniture, chests of drawers and a dog crate. The double whammy here is that the people buying them get decent products for a much reduced rate, so it’s win win. And I earn money while clearing out clutter. Yet again, well worth doing.

Don’t get me wrong, hubby and I still have a long way to go but we’re making much more of our money. We plan meals and food shop accordingly – getting it delivered to save us from shopping with our stomachs or getting distracted by the clothes and DVD aisles. And when we indulge in take-aways or meals out we try and look for voucher codes. I also jump on two-for-one offers, stock up on cut-price products we use regularly and use my Boots card to collect points when I buy essentials like shampoo and conditioner. And it feels much better to be doing it this way, rather than hurredly picking something off a shelf and then cringing when they put it through the till.

I’m also being more charitable. I’ve had a few clothes clear outs of late and bundle unwanted, unworn or don’t fit items into two bags – one for friends of a smiliar size who are grateful for good condition seconds, and another for the charity shops. If you’re going to throw things out, someone somewhere should benefit.

I'm back! And not wearing earrings…

Holy feck, it’s been an age since I’ve blogged! And for anyone who’s actually tolerated liked my posts, I apologise. I haven’t really had my blogging mojo since May but I’m hoping it’s back after an almost six-month break. That said, I’m struggling to write much past this last sentence. Just kidding…

So, the summer was busy… I wrapped up my audio project on female bloggers to complete the first year of my MA in Online Journalism, spent a wet week in Devon with hubbles and the bow wow, and discovered I was pregnant with my first child (not an accident, I hasten to add). So I haven’t really blogged since getting preggo and neither have I worn earrings – not related in the slightest, just two random facts I want to share with you.

So, while I’m still not wearing earrings (I just can’t be arsed to push them through the holes), I am back blogging. I’m also hoping to snazz upmy blog offering with a new design (coming soon) and some new content ideas and, low and behold, possibly a blogging theme. I’ve tended to ramble on about anything and everything but I would like to blog with focus – whether this means theming this blog or starting another, I have yet to decide.

So, for now, that’s it. I just wanted to check in, say hi and attempt to remember how to string a few pars together.

Over and out… for now.

Forget the sunshine and sharks' teeth, in Florida I got to meet Mickey Mouse!

There is seriously nothing more exciting than being a child and getting to meet… Mickey Mouse! Throw in Daffy Duck and Pluto and holding a baby alligator with its mouth taped shut and you’re pretty much in child heaven.

I went to Florida when I was just seven and 25 years later – cripes, that makes me OLD! – I still remember it vividly. Our family holiday consisted of non-stop excitement and adventure and included eating alligator soup, watching HUGE crocs launch themselves up and out of the water to eat chicken carcusses swinging from a washing line, and collecting sharks’ teeth on the sandy white beaches.

Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse (Photo credit: ross_hawkes)

I remember it like it was yesterday; my dad waking us up in the middle of the night to get us washed, dressed and packed off to the airport for a family holiday. A few days later and my brother and I were combing the beach for the little black teeth, thinking how cool it was that they washed up on the shore and that sharks couldn’t be very dangerous if all their teeth fell out and ended up in our bucket. An America chap popped over with a HUGE bag of sharks’ teeth and said my brother and I could each take a handful of his to help us with our own collections. Painfully shy but spurred on
by our parents we delved in. It was SO exciting!

We also found it hilarious that every time mum ordered chips we got crisps but, despite being just seven, I can remember the sense of fun, excitement and happiness of holidaying in Florida. It was the last big holiday we had as a family before my parents split up a couple of years later and it was three weeks of awesomeness. It was also my first introduction to the road looking wet because of the heat but when you got up close it’s perfectly dry; an optical illusion that kept my childlike brain wondering for hours.

People in Florida were helpful and friendly too and when my brother’s ‘cush cush’ went missing, the hotel staff rallied around to find it. It was an easy mistake to make, ‘cush cush’ was a full sized pillow that my younger brother insisted on travelling and sleeping with, his little comforter, and the hotel maid had scooped it up into the laundry by mistake. But after a ‘911’ call to hotel reception and a manic half hour, ‘cush cush’ was returned to the room safe and sound and my brother’s tears stopped. A happy ending and another Florida memory I’ve been unable to shake off.

Seriously, my time in Florida has stuck with me as the sort of childhood holiday I’d want my own kids to have; the whole experience was simply magical, not least because we spent time at Disney World and got to shake hands with THE Mickey Mouse. I also remember a ride called Figment of Your Imagination themed around a little purple dinosaur called Figment, a toy version of which accompanied me home on the plane thanks to a visit to the Disney World gift shop.

Gatorland Zoo sticks in my mind too (ref the gators chomping on chickens above) as well as a boat trip around the Everglades

, the fear and excitement of seeing crocodiles and alligators in the water filling my little belly with butterflies. At the zoo my brother and I got to hold a baby alligator, its mouth taped up so it didn’t snap at us and I got the exciting end – the mouth – to hold while my brother settled for the tail. We also have a great family photo – and this is when I realise I wish I had a digital copy to share or could easily pluck it from my mum’s photo albums at home – of my brother and I putting our heads into the wide open jaw of a gator. Of course, the gator was a replica version in the zoo but it looks pretty damn real to anyone who sees the photo.It’s on my ‘to do’ list to return to Florida for a holiday as soon as possible, as a sunshine-filled adventure with hubby and maybe friends or in a few years when we have kids and can give them the sort of amazing holiday I had when I was seven.

I don’t have such vivid memories of any other childhood holiday, Florida really stuck with me and I wish – as I type this from my desk on a raiy evening – that I was back there.

Happy Mothers' Day

We’ve never done that much in celebration of Mother’s Day, partly because I live two hours away from mine and partly because it’s a tad commercial. So, mum picks out something she needs – one year it was a new ironing board cover, oh, the glamour – and me and my brother cough up the pennies.

This year it’ll probably be something for the garden as she’s just bought a small piece of land to extend her kingdom in the shire. And I look forward to helping her pick something when we pop over for Easter.

So, in absence of seeing my mum today – and who I love lots and lots – here’s a bunch of flowers for you mum. They’re on my kitchen windowsill but they’re just for you x

Vase of daffodils

Charity shops and tea cups

Last Sunday I was nosing in the window of the Mercy in Action charity shop on the High Street while hubby popped into the shops to get some icecream essentials. We had Ralphie with us, he’s not allowed in shops what with him being a dog and all, and it was my turn to stand out in the cold.

At first I revelled at the large display of books in the window – literature for literally pence, utterly marvellous, and then I frowned at the noticeboard hanging above the display, pinned head to foot with the pages of a book and I thought how horrid it was that one of them had to die for the sake of a window display.

Tea cup and saucerThen I was distracted by a teapot, a black and white striped one, and then, and then… I got very excited by a cute teacup with matching saucer. And then I spotted another, and another and another. Four! A whole set!

I’m not a huge fan of Royalty but as we gear up to the Queen’s Jubilee, I’ve fully bought into the concept of traditional English tea and the cupcake era, and am the proud owner of a cake stand and old fashioned tea pot. A friend, just the other day, was talking about bunting and the possibility of planting red, white and blue flowers in the garden for the Jubilee and I did get a flash of good old English excitement.

So with no firm plans for the Jubilee – except an MA assignment on the horizon – I do plan on having afternoon tea in Queenie’s honour. And I need cups and saucers! In John Lewis a few weeks ago I spotted a glorious selection including a Cath Kidson selection that I’d have to sell my car to invest in.

So when I caught a glimpse of the price tag on these four black and white beauties – which clash nicely with my red and white spotted cake stand and teapot, I fell in love. £8 for the whole set! Utter bargain!!

But the shop is closed on Sundays and as it keeps the same opening hours as my place of work I couldn’t pop in during the week to snap them up. A part of me wanted to call and reserve them, but I thought that was a tad desperate. So it was with anticipation that I plodded down the High Street yesterday morning, husband and bow wow in tow – High Street shopping is a family affair – and was chuffed to bits they were still in the window.

After trying them out ALL weekend – coffee and hot cross buns (an Easter rehearsal one might say) they now take pride of place on the kitchen windowsill for the next time I’d like to sup tea in style.

Charity shops – there’s some real gems in them and you’ll save yourself a fortune.