A Crochet discovery…

I decided to start a weekly crochet project that started on 17th March 2016. True to form, I’m already 3 weeks behind! But that’s what happens when you are trying to do too many things at once I guess. A very special sewing commission has been taking up much of  my time (hopefully more on that in the next couple of weeks!), as have costumes for the Attfield’s next production, plus a new cat, and just life in general.

Anyway, back to the crochet! I found a link to a project called ‘Mandala Madness Crochet-A-Long’ on the blog ‘Crystals and Crochet’ which gives a new part of the project every Thursday night. What made me go for it, was how pretty it looked! Plus, it would give me the opportunity to learn new crochet stitches, play around with colour, and do something a bit different from all the Amigurumi I’ve been doing.

Week 1 (4)So, the first week I downloaded the pattern, and I flew through the rounds in a few days. I thought, ‘great! I’m going to keep up with this!’ and couldn’t wait for the next week. I’m actually really happy with how it looks. I didn’t use the suggested colour packs, preferring instead to use up some of Grandma’s old yarns. I’ve tried to stick to DK yarns, but I’ve found there is some variation amongst them. However, it seems to be working out alright.

Week 2 (5)Week 2, I downloaded the pattern and started it. Then life got in the way, and week 3 came round and I hadn’t finished the previous one. As I said before, it’s now week 6 and I have just finished week 3’s pattern about half an hour ago!

Having said all that, I’m really enjoying it! Seeing it grow, working out the stitches, and making myself be really careful over where I join my rounds, and how I crochet. I usually have a tendency to go ‘it’ll be fine!’ then have to fiddle it to work later on. Week 3However, so far, I’ve had to do that once. The instructions are really, really clear. I can’t stress that point enough actually. I’ve worked on lots of different patterns and nearly always found they assume you know exactly what they mean without explaining the seemingly obvious and that can lead to bother. These patterns though are so well written, and the photos are really helpful, that there is really no excuse! I will definitely be considering further projects by the same designer, Helen.

What’s also really interesting is seeing other people doing the CAL at the same time and posting on the Facebook page. There are so many different colour schemes, so many different looks to the same thing! I feel like I’m a part of something really big, when really I’m just sitting in my living room listening to the radio, whilst working away at my Mandala.

So, if you’d like to take part, there’s still time to catch up! (If you’ve got loads of free time, or are a really fast worker). Click here for the main Mandala page. Good luck! And keep checking back to see how I get on with the rest of it…I believe it continues until 14th July. So I get to finish it just after my birthday (in theory!).

‘I can make anything with a hook and yarn. What’s your superpower?’ ~ found on Pinterest

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Being a Care Bear…

A lot of people ask me ‘what I do’, meaning what job do I have. In the past I’ve worked round the subject, laughing off what I do as just ‘helping Mum’ or being in a privileged position. In many ways, yes, I suppose I am, but it’s more than that. I’m a carer for my Grandma.

Cue ideas and images of a little old lady, tucked up in bed needing constant medical attention. A sweet little smile as you hold a cup to her lips, or go and sit on her bed for a chat. Leaving her for a nap while you go and read a book or get on with odd jobs. Not so. Not for me anyway. I don’t have to do the medical things, the physical things. It’s the mental things. Being in the same room to check she’s got everything she (doesn’t) need. If she falls asleep, staying nearby in case she wakes up disorientated. Trying to stay positive and chatty, maybe reading out crosswords to her, because she can’t do anything else to occupy herself. Even when she’s not chatty there has to be someone there ‘Just in Case’. This is nearly always me or my Mum.

Don’t get me wrong, we get respite. We’re not alone. Actually the support we get, especially from Crossroads, is invaluable. When you spell it out on paper, it’s easy to think it’s a lot of fuss about nothing. We get 5 hours respite on a Tuesday, 4 on a Thursday while she’s at a day centre and 4 on a Saturday. Mum gets time on Mondays and Fridays too, as she goes to volunteer at Powis Castle. Not bad really, is it? Well, it can be. It’s the getting started in the morning, the bedtimes, and the arguments.

I suppose that’s the perils of family caring isn’t it? We’re too close, too similar, and tempers get frayed. The smallest things turn into major stumbling blocks because no-one admits they’re wrong. One side reckons they’re right because they can see it, the other reckons they are right because they remember it. You’re told not to correct or disagree, but if you don’t you get it thrown back at you. You suggest something ‘nice’ and it gets dismissed. Then you get told that you pull down every idea they have. Can’t win.

So yes, I live at home. But not really. I live at my Grandma’s home. Then get told off for having my things around me. I don’t have a job. But I do really, I even get paid for it. But it’s taken a long time for anyone to accept this. I get time for all my creative projects. Yes and no. I can hardly ever do anything I really need to concentrate on because nine times out of ten, just as I start to count/read/focus a little voice pipes up. Timing is wonderful:/ So I get bits done. But I have to have those things to stop me going completely crazy. I get to spend time with my boyfriend, but so often within the confines of my caring role. Time for just ‘us’ is precious. Sometimes Mum and I have to take it in turns to just ‘get away’. Half an hour in the garden with a book, an hour over home tidying or looking for something, a day out in Llangollen with Shaun, or in Mum’s case a week long holiday to Turkey. Everyone needs ‘me time’.

So there you have it. What I ‘do’. Things to complain about, things to enjoy, and things to appreciate. I shouldn’t complain as much as I do. I should be grateful I spend so much time with my family. I don’t have to slog at a computer or at paperwork all day. I get to make things and dance and read. Sometimes, it’s a real pleasure to see my help and company being appreciated. But, honestly, I don’t always see that. Not from the person I want it from. I do it for Mum.

Caring is being there, even when you want to be somewhere else. #caregiver

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Dream for a better year…

So, 2015. Hello! A new year…a new set of opportunities. Now to take advantage of them all!

This year I want to push myself, dance wise. Try new styles, try new choreography, make new costumes. I was so inspired by what I saw at Infusion Emporium last year, and the workshop with Rachel Brice that I really want to channel that inspiration into something new and amazing. Wish me luck! I have music I want to choreograph, fusions I want to try and ideas a plenty. Look out, Bex😛 Costume wise, I have a rainbow one in the pipeline, plus a few themed haflas coming up which could allow me to be creative! Watch this space!

Talking of costumes, I’m hoping to start taking small commissions this year. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, but I think it’s time to try and make it happen. I have to be at home for family reasons, but I have a lot of ‘spare’ time which could be filled with sewing and embellishing. If I can get a bit of something for doing that, not just a new costume for myself, that would be great! Not to mention the feeling of sharing my creative love with others. I made myself a tatters bustle recently, based on a few I’ve seen over the last year. Then I made my Mum one for Christmas. Now there’s a possibility I might be making a few more for friends. That’s how things start, right? So we’ll see how it goes. Feather bras also available…:P

One other challenge I’m undertaking this year is a Weekly Nails Challenge. Shaun is giving me a theme each week to paint my nails by. Photos to follow! But the reason behind it is simply to give me an excuse to try all those designs I’ve pinned😛 I never feel like I can bothered to paint my nails with complicated designs because no-one sees them. Why bother? Well, to prove I can. So I will🙂

Three very ‘me’ orientated things. These aren’t the ‘do good in the world’ type of resolutions, there’s no health kick, and no high hitting life plan. Just three things for ME. Three things I want to do, and don’t usually have the willpower or chance to achieve. As I said before, wish me luck! And I hope whatever you choose to achieve this year, you achieve it, and enjoy it🙂 Happy 2015.

Dream it and do it Walt Disney quotes 2015

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The Truffie Saga

As promised🙂 Five pictures of Truffie that make me smile, and hopefully they will you too! Just a bit of background about her: Her full name is Truffle, she is about 16 years old, when she was a kitten she was very shy and quiet. What happened. She’s now very self-assured, and a little bit crazy. Ok, a lot crazy. She meows at doors, at walls, at humans…she acts like a kitten, but also the grumpiest old lady imaginable! She loves cardboard boxes, string, food and icing sugar…except when it’s meant for her. Then she couldn’t care less. With that in mind, may I introduce: Truffie.

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Truffie enjoying my Black Forest breakfast – yoghurt, cherry jam and chocolate.

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Truffie enjoying another of my breakfasts – toast with bovril and peanut butter!

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One of those ‘Get that camera outta ma face, human!’ moments…

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Shortly followed by another such moment, this one modelling a rather fetching neckwarmer…:P

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Lastly….well, words cannot describe how much I love this photo!

I really struggled to narrow this down to five….and if I looked through all my photos on my external as well I’d probably find a lot more! But, this sums up Truffie pretty well, and makes me smile, so job done🙂

‘In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.’ ~ Terry Pratchett

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Family…to make me smile

So here are another 5 photos that make me smile. This time all under one theme. One of the most important things to me is my family. I complain about them, yes, but we are very close, and they mean the world to me. Especially my ‘Wales’ family as I see them a lot more often.

1. Christmas 2012

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I love this picture of my parents on Christmas Eve 2012. We were making the last preparations before Christmas Day – stuffing the turkey, avoiding each other to last minute wrap presents, tidying up…:) We listened to festive music, I dug out the silly hats, and we all had smiles on our faces.

2. London 2012

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My parents and I went to London for a few days, predominantly for an exhibition at the V&A Museum. We went down onto the riverside by Tower Bridge, and I told Mum to pose for a photo. This was the result😛 Her happy hat, and Mary Poppins coat🙂

3. A May Morning

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In the beautiful weather we had early on this year, we persuaded Grandpa to go out and enjoy it. So, on one lovely May morning, while Grandma was getting up, the three of us (Mum, Grandpa and I) sat out with our coffee on the decking.

4. Golden Anniversary

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Only a day after the previous photo, Grandma and Grandpa celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. We’d had a few ups and down over the previous few weeks, but the day itself was lovely. They were both so happy, and such an achievement.

5. 90 Years

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After a tough few weeks, Grandma had something to be happy about – her 90th birthday. Flowers, banners and cake on the day itself, and then friends and family at the weekend. Love this photo for the sheer joy and excitement on her face. Almost childlike.

Next time: The Truffie Saga😛

In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.’ ~ Alex Haley

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Pictures to make me smile

So I don’t do these ‘social media bandwagons’ eh? Ok, maybe sometimes I do. Post 5 photos that make you smile. Sounds easy? Not when you have as many photos as I do! I started going through methodically, then realised I already had 19 photos I love. So…I have a plan! I’m going to post 5 today, the ones that stand out to me TODAY. Then, maybe in a few days time I shall post another 5. And so on, as I find more, until I run out. Some will be photos of me, some will be photos I’ve taken, and some will be old family photos. So here goes…

1. Truffle.

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Our cat, Truffle, always makes me smile. This is just one of many pictures where she is being a bit of an idiot! She was fast asleep, dreaming, and obviously very comfortable! Not bad for about 15/16 years old!

2. STITCH!

23 styleI love Disney’s Stitch, so he always makes me smile in any capacity. My Stitch hoody is just amazing, and when I feel tired or upset or just ‘meh’ I put it on to cheer me up. Plus, this photo was taken when Sean and Caro came to visit, so it reminds of that…which makes me smile🙂

3. Grandpa

15.04.14 Grandpa's Birthday

This was taken on Grandpa’s 85th birthday in April. He loved his cake, and was still able to enjoy it. Unfortunately it was only 3 months later that we lost him. So it’s so nice to have this photo (and a few others) to remember him by.

4. Shaun and Panda

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This was on my birthday, and Shaun and I had spent the day at Ellesmere’s Music Festival, with lunch in Welshampton…a simple day, but one which I really enjoyed. Plus the fact that Shaun’s Dad won the panda in the raffle but had already gone home, so we had to carry the panda to the car…just a really great day. Plus, I love this photo generally🙂

5. Zhimah and Talida

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Mum and I went to a Film Night themed Hafla, and decided to choreograph a new dance…to the TIME WARP! Mum’s facial expressions are priceless. This is quite a reserved one by comparison…:P But I love dancing with Mum, I loved our costumes (I don’t think anyone expected what Mum wore!) and I love the choreography. So much fun!

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Bandwagons and Books

No make-up selfies. Ice bucket challenge. What next? Something else to make the everyday person look a fool and feel forced to donate to charity, no doubt. Don’t get me wrong, I think charities deserve funding, and everyone loves an opportunity to do something silly yet worthwhile, but I do feel there is a surge of ‘social media bandwagons’ that capitalise on this. One person comes up with a ‘brilliant’ idea, then nominates a few friends…and before you know it someone on the other side of the world is watching it get closer and closer. Then the nomination comes and you feel you’d be judged for not doing it, so you duly pay your few pounds and copy all the other sheep. That feeling of being judged for not doing it is the main thing I think. Even if you know next to nothing about the charity in question, or have no connection with it, the views of your peers makes you feel you should. Maybe this is just me being paranoid. Maybe I put too much store in other people’s opinions. But then again, maybe not. Because I didn’t jump on the bandwagons. I didn’t take a ‘no make-up selfie’. I didn’t pour a bucket of ice cold water over my head. Why not? Because I didn’t feel I needed to. I wear ‘no make-up’ on an almost daily basis, so didn’t see why I should take a photo of myself (like the others I would put up on any other day), and pay for the privilege. I also didn’t want to feel I HAD to donate. I donate to charities on my terms. Charity shops, raffles, even sometimes people with buckets on the street. But that’s my choice, not someone else’s. It’s cliched to say ‘I am not a sheep’ but it’s true, and I really don’t get the craze for these chain challenges. We all complain about the £2 appeals you see on television in the lead up to Christmas, how is this that much different? It’s just in a different form of media.

Having said all that, I’m now going to be called a hypocrite. I was tagged on Facebook, by two different people, to do the ’10 book challenge’. To list 10 books that have stayed with me for one reason or another. At first I looked at it and thought, ‘oh no, not another one’ but then I stopped and thought again. Surely this has a result? Yes the afore mentioned challenges have the result that charities get huge increases in donations, in a short amount of time…but this could benefit more people by suggesting books to them. I have never underestimated the power of reading, and of literature. I used to devour books as a child. I couldn’t get enough of them! Bookshelves full, and then the library, then I started on my family’s collections. I don’t get as much time for reading now as I would like, but I still think the those pages give more than just words on a page. Vocabulary, ideas, imagination, facts, friends and a chance to escape from reality, even for an hour or two.

So, here are my 10 books, that have stayed with me since I read them:

1. The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster – I read this when I was quite young, and I loved it. I think it gave me my early interest in words and numbers and logic. I re-read it a few years ago, scared I would be disappointed and that it wouldn’t be as I remembered it, but it was just as fascinating! My book belonged to my Mum when she was a child and was one of her favourite stories as well.

2. Dracula, by Bram Stoker – I didn’t expect to enjoy this that much, just felt it was one of those classics I should read. How wrong was I?! I think I read it in two sittings…I devoured it. Definitely something I could ‘sink my teeth into’😛 But it was so easy to read, yet so captivating, I was completely drawn into it.

3. Where Rainbows End, by Cecelia Ahern – A friend at school recommended this to me. I hadn’t heard of Cecelia Ahern, not even from the film PS I Love You, but I thought I’d give it a go. Since the very first few pages I’ve felt drawn to it in some way. At the time I read it, I could see parallels between my life and Rosie’s, and so felt that it was ‘my’ book. I ignored the things that didn’t fit, just for the sake of keeping the magic. I re-read it last year, and although things have changed for me, that book still means something. The film version is coming out later this year, and I’m both excited and scared that it won’t be right.

4. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy – Again, one of those ‘I should read more classics’ decisions. Again, pleasantly surprised! I was studying Russian at the time I read this, and so was totally engrossed in the culture. Discovering about Russian society, and the ideas of the time…it was the right book for that period in my studies. I did skip past a few of the agricultural bits that I found less interesting, but generally I was impressed by how much more readable it was than I expected!

5. Gingerbread Man, by Maggie Shayne – Not your traditional fairytale at all. I read this on my Kindle…I think it was a free book, or next to nothing…so thought ‘why not?!’. It’s one of those books you don’t want to keep reading, but you can’t put it down! I’ve recommended it to my Mum (not that she’s read it yet) just because it was more than I expected. A little bit creepy though.

6. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern – There was a lot of hype about this book, but I stumbled across it by accident. I took it on my Kindle when I went to Brunei, and discovered that Desiree was also reading it! Really, really enjoyed it; another captivating book that made me think. Plus now reminds me of an amazing holiday!

7. The Story of Bluebeard, by Charles Perrault – I had this story in an old Children’s Treasury of Literature. The book was huge, and full of excerpts, short stories and fables. Bluebeard is one that always stands out. I don’t know why, but it was always my favourite. Maybe it was because it wasn’t widely known, or maybe because I like the fact the last wife out-smarted him…but it made a lasting impression on me.

8. Struwwelpeter, by Heinrich Hoffmann – Another of Mum’s books. A collection of moralistic stories…some quite drastic! I think it certainly made me think twice about being naughty, sucking my thumb (which I think I was terrified of doing, lest my thumb be cut off!), and just generally being a ‘bad child’. Probably explains a lot of my behaviour, even now!

9. Macbeth, by William Shakespeare – Yes, it’s a play not a book per se, but I think it counts. I’ve always been fascinated by magic and witches, which I think comes from my Grandma…and so when I became aware of Shakespeare, and read some simplified versions I discovered Macbeth. Then at Year 9 we studied it, and for once only made me like it more, rather than destroying it! I remember having to write an essay on how we’d stage that first famous scene…and I was in my element! Then in Year 13 I was in a production of it at the Attfield, as one of the witches. So this play really holds a lot of memories for me, as well as fascination for the characters and story itself.

10. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë – I read this in my third year of uni, in my window seat. The first part of the book is of Jane, sitting hiding behind a curtain in a window seat! Once again, it just defines a certain part of my life, and every time I hear it mentioned or see the book I think back to those chilly mornings on St Paul’s Terrace, huddled between the curtain and the freezing cold window pane, reading my 1940s copy of Jane Eyre, the blue dye from the cover bleeding onto my hands.

So there are my 10 books. Some old, some new, some for the young, some for everyone. All special to me. Enjoy.

”Books are a uniquely portable magic” ~ Stephen King

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