What I’ve Learnt This Year

This little post right here, yes this one, is my 100th post on this blog – 100 times I’ve sat down and emptied my head of some such nonsense for your reading pleasure (hopefully…).  Thank you for reading and visiting and commenting – it means a lot and if you’re a regular reader or a 1 time reader, thank you for taking a bit of time out to choose to spend with me.

Ok, so, I thought I’d use this post to have a little look back over this year and look forward to next year.  A kind of to-do list for 2014 that I might do – or not…let’s not be too rigid on this eh?!

There were some pretty great albums this year, I managed 6 gigs and 1 festival.

Tickets Please!

Tickets Please!


Our home for the weekend

Our home for the weekend


Image from QOTSA Facebook page

Image from QOTSA Facebook page

Too much music to mention without you all nodding off so I’ll just give you a few highlights

  • The Joy Formidable
  • Alt-J
  • Haim
  • Lucy Rose
  • Atoms For Peace
  • Jagwar Ma
  • Foals
  • Palma Violets
  • Peace
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Daft Punk
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Queens of the Stone Age
  • Disclosure
  • Sigur Ros
  • Chvrches
  • Deltron 3030

etc etc – just too much…

I’m looking forward to spending summer solstice with Kasabian next year and I really hope that Foo Fighters release something…

Vampire Weekend Where can I get this fabric?!

Vampire Weekend
Where can I get this fabric?!

My to-do for 2014

  • Write more
  • Focus on quality over quantity (not too much of a contradiction of the above I hope)
  • Try to have less ‘stuff’ both physical and mental
  • Spend more time with family and friends – that’s important
  • Go slower, have experiences and enjoy the everyday
  • Make time – there’s always a way and most things will wait – unless you’re a brain surgeon or something
  • Be kinder – to both others and my-self
  • Take time to smell the flowers and listen to the music – always listen to the music

What were your best bits?  What are you planning and looking forward to?  Do please share…

Thanks for stopping by  – have a Merry Christmas and here’s to an awesome 2014 xx

How to Wrap an MP3?

IMG_4087

Listening to the radio this morning, I heard some stats that didn’t surprise me as such, but made me think a little. Out of the 60 odd percent of people that like to receive music as a gift, over 25% of those said that they would like it as a digital download.

I love getting music as a gift and often do, and I also like digital downloads but, as a gift I prefer a physical cd, even though the only place I can play them is in the car.  (My car actually still has a tape-player too!)

I found this little gem which basically enables old people like me to create a mixtape like the old days!  Best of all, you can wrap it up for christmas or birthday.  I guess the downside of it is that if you’re putting music on a memory stick for them, they might already have it on their itunes and it goes onto there rather than staying in one place like the mixtapes of old…

Do you get music as a gift?  Are you a physical or a digital kind of person?

Just Sort It Out!

It’s been a while and I’ll be honest with you, I’ve really missed writing.  I’m a firm believer that if you have nothing of worth to say then keep quiet.  I’m not sure if this post is anything of worth but hopefully it’ll be more than a filler post just so I can say that I’ve blogged today!

Life for me currently, seems to be getting a little out of my control and I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable yet.  My life is a complete breeze compared to most but at the moment I’m letting things get the better of me and I don’t like it.

I made the decision a couple of months ago, to put my greetings card and framed prints business on the backburner for now and that’s something I struggle with on occasion.  Am I giving up too early?  Should I have invested a pile of money that I don’t have to get it going properly?  Am I cut out for business?  Most days I’m 100% happy with my choice but sometimes…

So, giving up my business has led to me getting not 1 but 2 jobs.  One is working for myself as an Independent Consultant for Neal’s Yard Remedies and the other is working from home doing admin for my tennis coach.  These roles could not be more perfect for me.  Work gets done when I’m free to do it, I drop off and pick up the girls from school everyday and they even have friends round for tea occasionally.  The work gets done and I’m not tied to a desk 9-5.

My problem is, I need to get organised.  Properly, seriously organised.  I need to run my life like a project.  This way, I won’t be scrabbling around most evenings trying to cook something from the contents of my cupboards and fridge as if I’m taking part in Ready Steady Cook (ask your Mum), or raiding the laundry basket to find the least dirty cardigan for the girls to wear to school.

clutter

Image via Pinterest

I met a lovely lady Sally the other weekend and was thrilled to learn that she is a ‘de-clutterer’ – I was slightly less thrilled that she doesn’t live anywhere near me but that’s life eh?!  (She is in the process of building a website, so I’ll pass it on when I get details!)  Such a fascinating concept isn’t it, having someone come into your home and sort it out.  It sounds really easy and then it got me thinking as to why I am like I am.  I like to think that I’m organised when it comes to work but it all seems to go to pot when it comes to me.

I need help, so I’ve turned to my old friend, the internet, to help me.  Pinterest is chock-a block with handy free printables and cleaning schedules but it all seems a bit Anthea Turner for me – which might work for you.  Apparently I’m a right-brainer which makes me a bit hap-hazard (!) so it’s a question of finding things that work for me.

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

So, in the spirit of true procrastination, I’ve been looking into tools to help me.  The list seems to be helping focus and by marking tasks as Important & Urgent, Important but not Urgent and Neither Important or Urgent, I can see at a glance what needs to be done.  I’m also learning how to think like a man *raises eyebrow* and just do one thing at a time until completion – reader, it works.

I’ve also attempted the Meal Plan, struggling a little bit with this one, but I’m determined to stick with it.

Gosh, this makes me sound fascinating doesn’t it?!

So, over to you.  Are you a juggler? (please get in touch if you are an *actual* juggler).  What tips can you share to keep a modicum of control?  I’d love to hear from you…

Feeling Fit For It?

Back in February, I wrote this.  I’m pleased to tell you that I’m still exercising here and still playing tennis here.

I was browsing through twitter the other day and came across the rather brilliant Fit Not Thin hashtag.  Coined by the Sunday Times Style Magazine and I found that this post by The Sportist sums it up rather well.  Do a search on the #fitnotthin and it’s all positive.  I’ve always been slim but never particularly strong and I’ve found that by exercising at least 3 times a week I’m stronger, more toned and definitely feel less tired.  My skin and hair are in great condition and although I’m still in the same dress size that’s never been an issue for me.  I genuinely have no idea how much I weigh (the only scales in my house are in the kitchen) but again that’s not the point.

I do the school run in either lycra or tennis gear nearly everyday – granted, the sunny weather we’re having helps on the tennis front and I’ll play as often as I can.  I’m also lucky that I can exercise in the morning as I can pick my working hours.  I’ve never been one to enjoy exercise in the evening.

It’s been an influence on my girls in a positive way too.  My 8 year old goes running with Daddy and both girls now play tennis too.

The only downside to all this, and I’m not sure if it’s me getting old or more pathetic, but oh my goodness the muscle aches the day after (and sometimes the day after the day after!). I can hardly lift my arms my triceps hurt so much after friday!  I’ll be slathering this on and hoping that class isn’t too arm heavy tomorrow!

What do you think of the Fit Not Thin concept?  Do you exercise?  If so, what is your primary goal?

(Nearly) 40 Love

Roughly a year ago, at the age of *ahem* 37, I took up tennis.  It sounds such a middle class thing to do doesn’t it?!  My eldest daughter had been playing for a couple of years and as I stood watching her one day, the coach approached a couple of us Mums and said that he was trialing an initiative to get people into, or back into tennis. Feeling brave, a few of us signed up and within a couple of weeks found ourselves on a tennis court at Olney Tennis Club on a friday night in May.  I never played tennis at school so was a complete beginner but most people hadn’t played for around *cough* 20 years so I didn’t feel at too much of a disadvantage!  The initial lessons were 2 hours long and we did a 6 week course.  A year on, we’re all still playing but for just an hour.  I’m loving it and we play in all weathers, (sometimes all the weather happens in an hour!) but I really need to get more court time.  In a perfect world, I’d love to play everyday or at least 3 times a week but that just ain’t gonna happen at the moment so I’ll make the time for another session in the week on top of my lesson – I promise coach!

I’ll be honest, before I started playing I wasn’t too bothered about watching it on tv except for maybe the finals of Wimbledon.  Now, I watch as much as I can, for training purposes obvs!  In my head, I know how to play like Sharapova but the reality is far from this – our poor coach has the patience of a saint and luckily, a very good sense of humour!

Having watched most of the tournament from Queens (well played Andy Murray) there was the Rally Against Cancer.  An amazing charity and bucketloads of entertainment with Andy Murray and Tim Henman vs Ivan Lendl and Tomas Berdych then celebrity players Boris Johnson (with a wooden racket), Jimmy Carr, Sir Richard Branson, Jonathan Ross, Michael Macintyre and Eddie Redmayne joining Andy Murray and Tim Henman.  At one point, the celebrities were playing trebles against each other – the way forward?!

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to Wimbledon and getting out there myself a bit more –  my husband has now joined the club and the younger daughter is keen too so watch this space for the next future champions!

I’ll leave you with this, for no other reason than I quite like Vampire Weekend and the video has a tennis theme.. – nothing to do with Jake Gyllenhaal in shorts…nothing at all…

That Friday Feeling

Woo hoo!  It’s Friday!  TFI Friday etc etc…

I’ll be honest with you, Friday has kinda snuck on me this week, who am I kidding, it sneaks up on me most weeks.  My calendar, the most important item in my house currently, is absolutely chockablock *congratulates ones-self on use of the word chockablock* with stuff  that’s happening either to me, my husband or mostly my children.  It’s making my head hurt a little bit.  Don’t misunderstand me, it’s fabulous that the girls are being invited to parties and have athletics squad and tennis practice plus play-dates and homework but it’s just relentless at the moment.  Not sure if it’s because they’re getting older and therefore busier but they have a better social life than me, and I don’t do badly at all!

I’m sure it’ll be better after half-term *HA!*

In the meantime, I will leave you with this for no other reason than that I love it. I’ve just remembered actually that my brother once got hold of my phone and set this as my ringtone.  I used to get some understanding looks from those who recognised it – I might change it back….

Enjoy your Friday!

Down With The Kids

I have 2 children.  I actively chose to have 2 children and therefore I am slightly baffled by the current *thing* of constantly bemoaning the fact that there are children in your life.  Yes, I can see that it makes for an amusing status update and will inevitably spark a compare and contrast debate in the comments section, but all the time?  I know that motherhood can be a strange and sometimes cruel beast but it can also be the most wonderful thing that a lot of people don’t get to experience, be it by choice or a cruel twist of fate.  I have in my life at the moment a few people that are either desperately trying for their first baby or who are still mourning the loss of a baby or child.  I personally have been through a couple of dark times as a new mother and, god knows, it ain’t easy but I chose to do it.

Before anyone thinks that I live in a perfect little bubble with perfectly behaved children all the time – let me assure you that this is NOT the case but it’s something that I try to deal with off-line.  I love my girls dearly and some days I admit to counting down the hours left till bedtime, but there was a time in my life where I thought I’d never have a second child.  As they get older, I’m painfully aware that time is speeding by and they’re not going to be my babies for much longer. Small things like my 4 year old being able to turn lights on now as she’s tall enough to reach the switch – it actually makes my heart hurt sometimes.

Muddy Boots

Muddy Boots

I’m sitting writing this in an empty house as they are away for a few days with grandma.  It’s lovely being alone and having some headspace without the constant Mummy, Mummy, Mummy etc etc but I miss that more than I thought I ever would.  I love the school holidays, spending time with them and watching them go about their daily business as 2 independent little people.  I love that we can chat away about a myriad of subjects that are so completely random but make utter sense at that moment in time.  Yes, we argue and bicker and I keep threatening to buy a referee whistle as that is my role more than I’d like… but before long, they’ll be entering the dark world of the teen years and probably won’t utter a word to each other, or me for that matter!

So, come on all of you that are lucky enough to be a Mummy, enjoy it, good or bad because it disappears all too quickly.

I will be reminding myself of this when I am asking for the nth time “please will you put your shoes on” there might not even be a please!

Keep It Simple

Those of you who know me, know how much I love a list.  Another person who loves a list is Pip Lincolne from the fabulous blog Meet Me At Mikes – she’s doing a 52 Lists project which you can take a look at here.

I thought I’d share with you a short list of small, simple things that make my heart sing…

Simple Stuff

Simple Stuff

  • Clean sheets
  • Flowers from a friend
  • A new notepad
  • The sound of my girls laughing
  • Laundry on the line
  • The 1st cup of tea of the day
  • Reading bedtime stories
  • Turning on the radio and hearing my favourite song
  • Crying with laughter
  • Realising that it will all be OK.

What simple things make you smile to yourself?

Too Cool For School?

Just be Cool – that’s a challenge eh?  Cool is a word that is bandied about, a lot, and sometimes it can be an elusive thing.

I asked my 2 children this morning who or what they thought was cool and the 4 year old, understandably, didn’t really know but the 8 year old came up with a really good definition.  She said that being cool was all about being yourself and not worrying about what other people thought.  She then went on to say that she didn’t think she was cool but she wanted to be thought of as pretty instead.

This got me thinking and I then asked a quick snapshot of my friends who they and their children thought was cool… The answers were really varied and actually quite lovely.  The adults sited mostly friends and siblings as the cool people but answers also included…

  • Prof Brian Cox
  • Prince
  • Serge Pizzorno
  • Dave Grohl
  • Annie Mac
  • Gwen Stafani

The kids on the other hand, ages ranging from 4-11, said friends first and foremost and then…

  • Katy Perry
  • Johnny English
  • Ricky Wilson
  • Wayne Rooney (twice)
  • Robin van Persie
  • Steven Gerrard
  • Beth Tweddle
  • King Arthur
  • Merlin
  • Brad Wiggins
  • Jonny Peacock
  • Ashima Shiraishi – check her out 

As for me, I think I’m in agreement with my eldest daughter and think that being cool should be effortless and all about doing your own thing and not being led by others. Having said that though, there is a line between cool and kooky which is good to be crossed but there’s a time and a place…

My cool list?  This was tough and in no particular order I give you…

  • Dave Lee
  • Jenny Jones
  • Lauren Laverne
  • Kurt Cobain
  • My Brother
  • My 4 year old
  • Zane Lowe
  • Jack White
  • Caitlin Moran

Simply because they seem to me to be completely genuine and just ooze effortlessness.  No-body likes a try-hard…

I need to say a big thank you to the people that helped me out on this one…

Jo, Lily, Freya, William, Kaeli, Georgia, Heidi, George, Edward, Jill, Natalie, Alexander, Annabelle, Annie, Tony, Tom & Dan

So, who would you consider cool?  I’d love to hear!

Pancakes

I live in the pretty market town of Olney which is famed for the annual pancake race every Shrove Tuesday.

In the spirit of this, I bring you my recipe for pancakes.

Pancake

Pancake Deconstructed

Now, I’m a little unorthodox in that I like a ‘fatter’ pancake – more like a drop scone than a traditional thin pancake.  *only because I find them easier – there, I’ve said it*

125g Flour – I use Spelt but Plain is fine

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1 egg (Free-range of course) whisked

170ml milk

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl.  Add the sugar and stir.  Add the egg and milk and whisk until lump free.

Pour into a non-stick pan brushed with a little butter.  Pour in some mixture and cook until bubbles appear on the surface then turn over and cook for another 30 seconds or so.

Smother with your topping of choice and scoff greedily.  My girls favour Nutella on theirs.  Me? I like a scattering of berries and a drizzle of maple syrup…

How do you prefer yours?