30 May, 2010

Sundays are for pancakes and lie-ins.

That's right, folks. Although, my morning wasn't quite as straightforward as the title might imply...

Having woken up around six to chaos in the flat due to a moggie-chase (knocking over silver candlesticks in the fireplace was a sure fire way to guarantee human companionship) I managed to doze off until eight. Upon waking, I made myself a proper coffee in the cafetiere, something I rarely bother with as freeze-dried is so much easier, but hell, it's Sunday and I'm feeling indulgent. Upon Himself's arrival into the Land of Consciousness (how did he sleep through the feline fracas???), I decided to make pancakes, unaware of the fact that he had chucked out the eggs the night before. *lol* My tummy just wouldn't settle for cereal after pancakes had been optioned, so I toddled off down the shops in search of chicken fruits.

Eggs procured, I made the pancakes, slathered them in peanut butter and chopped banana in case you were wondering, then decided back to bed was the order of the day. I gathered Rand al'Thor in a loving embrace and settled in for a relaxing read. This wouldn't have been an issue, except... there was A Fly in the house. This was not to be tolerated by the furry four leggeds, and yet another high speed chase ensued.

During this bout, Kit discovered newly achievable heights...

... which led to Himself having to extricate her from the blinds as once she'd attained the window ledge she couldn't quite figure out the getting down part.

That said, Kit caught The Fly, maimed it so it couldn't fly away again, and was settling down to eat it when Himself's squeamish sensibilities kicked in and he tissued and binned it. Not A Happy Kit.

On an even more amusing note, guess what I found this morning? Himself had a gray hair. *grin* His first. And I say "had", because he didn't believe me it was there, which forced me to pull it and brandish it's ghostliness about an inch away from his nose. His retort? A sheepish grin accompanied by "it's blonde." Let me assure you, dear readers, it's NOT blonde. For the attention of the court, ladies and gentlemen, The Hair.

See how nicely it shows up against the black of my camera strap? That, friends, is a gray hair. Not blonde. Gray.

So, now that you're all caught up with the minutiae of our Sunday morning, go enjoy yours. Make real coffee, it's worth it. x

28 May, 2010

Fabulous Friday Frivolity.

Let the good times roll. Here are my five happy things for this week:

1. That's right, we're starting with the most important thing in the world. New shoes. *grin* Aren't they lovely? Aren't they beautiful? Not a blister do they give, nor a pinched toe. Bliss.

2. The most marvellous chicken pie in the whole wide world. Gordon Ramsay might have a foul mouth, but the man can cook. Also, the hidden bonus to this recipe is that I found it in one of the cookbooks at my last job and wrote it down on what turned out to be my last day there. *grin* Fortuitous timing. Also, Himself says he likes it even better than my lasagna, which for him was previously the pinnacle of my cooking expertise. For years. So this is a big deal.

3. That's right. It's Paddington Station. For one, I grew up obsessed with Paddington Bear. For two, due to the new job, I now travel from Hammersmith to Paddington Station every day. This means that every morning and every afternoon, I get to watch people (some in a hurry, some lost, some having a leisurely coffee and a chat with friends, elderly couples holding hands dressed in an abundance of tweed) and absorb my surroundings. Paddington is beautiful, and twice a day, it's mine.

4. One of the things that I've always found charming about this country is the fact that contractors are obliged to hide construction behind constructed wooden walls. So they have to build walls before they can even start working on the building behind them, and it's not like they're just a few sheets of plywood duct taped together, it's proper well constructed painted woodworking with trim. In areas like Kensington or Chelsea, it's tastefully white or light green to fit in with the neighbourhood's sensibilities. In Camden or Soho, it gets decorated. I love graffiti art.

5. This one is my favourite. Even more than the shoes, or the pie. Just so you're aware of how much happiness this generates for me. I bought a hibiscus plant at the pound store. That's right, it was a pound. It seemed a little dry, but I reckoned it'd be fine. Then I forgot to plant it. For about three weeks. It stayed in its box, roots wrapped in plastic, for three weeks, and that's on top of however long it had been in the shop in the first place. When I came across the poor little thing in my travels through the house, I thought there was no way on earth it would still take, but I soaked the roots and gave it a go. Lo and behold, look at him! Can't wait to see what colour he blooms.

So, those are my five happy things for this week. I'm actually really enjoying this, I look forward to writing about it all week as I tally up my random smiles, and it gives me a valid excuse to carry my camera around London with me.

Speaking of which, I've been planning a dedicated post to "Why I Love Living in London", maybe that one will take shape at the weekend. Have a lovely bank holiday. x

23 May, 2010

Sunburns and shiny things.

I've just come back to the flat, having had a picnic lunch in our local park with Himself. The weather I mentioned in Friday's post has carried on strong, sunny with clear blue skies. Gorgeous. Unfortunately, yours truly has lost her tanning privileges (in my opinion, the only downside of being heavily tattooed) and thus had to dislodge Himself and move the blanket three times as Mr. Sun blithely swanned across the sky on his merry way. That's the deal, you see. Himself buys a paper, I take a book and then invariably end up stealing the one section of the paper he wants to look at, and we set up the blanket half in the shade and half in the sun. Last year, I wore a cardigan to cover said tattoos and pulled up the back of my skirt to get some sun on my legs. I ended up broiled and lobsterish from mid-thigh down, not a pretty sight. Then came the itching. *shudder* This year, I'm being more careful.

This is a bit of a noteworthy blog, as it's the first I've embarked upon using the Shiny New MacBook. I haven't been as frustrated as I thought I'd be by the differences between Shiny New and Old Tired (poor Dell, he never had a chance). I feel a little sordid, changing my affiliations so willy nilly, like I'm betraying my old friend. Then Shiny New glints at me from the corner and I throw guilt to the wind in my rush to find out what other new applications I can play with (how fun is PhotoBooth???).

Speaking of which, Shiny New needs a name. A real name, I mean. Send in your entries, voting shall begin immediately, and let's say the winner gets a handmade kitschy prize in honour of my impending Etsy shop opening. Cletus, Bessie and Clara are off limits as they have been taken by other items in my past and present. Come on people, show me some creativity!

As part of my Mac purchase, I bought something called One to One, which is a year's worth of tutorials on the features of Macs in general and my MacBook specifically. I can book one hour slots for general stuff or three hour slots for help with specific projects, and they'll teach me the ins and outs of switching from PC to Mac (which I desperately need). I've got my first session in a couple of hours, so we'll make this a short one, as I have to pack up Shiny New and haul my (slightly) sunburned self out to Westfield.

Looking forward to those name suggestions, speak soon! x

20 May, 2010

Fabulous Friday Frivolity.

I've decided there's just not enough random happiness in the world. Well, in my world anyway. So, I'm going to start a Friday post, which means I'm going to have to be slightly more disciplined than I usually am (which just might be a good thing). The way forward for Fabulous Friday Frivolity will be as follows. I will choose five things over the course of the week that made me smile, and I'll give you a free pass to the inward machinations of my twisty brain. It'll give me a tangible reminder of the niceness of life, and hopefully distribute a few grins among those of you who actually read this thing.

So, let's get started! The following things make me happy:

1. I guess the number one this week has to be the fact that my now ex-boss came home yesterday from work to inform me that my presence in their house would no longer be needed... *grin* Huzzah! Yes, he's being shady about my final paycheque, but you have no idea how freeing the thought of never having to see them again is. Marvellousness!

2. I've been organising my craft stuff to get Etsy rolling, and in the process of finding storage options for such a small space as our flat I came across the following most wonderful little owls... needless to say, they give me the warm fuzzies, and they hold all of my pencils and pens with panache. Incidentally, alliteration also makes me happy.

3. My MacBook came! It's shiny prettiness illuminates my visage with joy. Of course, I haven't managed to actually use it yet as it has to charge, and I'm sure I'll be raging later as I start learning the differences between regular laptop and Mac, but for now... it's pretty, and thus, makes me happy.

4. You may have noticed the patchwork upon which the beauteous MacBook was resting... it's my first for the Etsy shop, and it makes me happy. : )

5. And last, but certainly not least, the weather seems to have turned! I took a cardigan to work yesterday, and never had to take it out of my bag. Sun, beautiful sun, bring on the Raybans! Red shades make me happy.

So, I hope my happy things brought you a little of this wonderful sunshine. I'll be keeping a weather eye on the horizon for happy things for next weeks' edition of FFF. Have a great weekend! x

18 May, 2010

Speed shopping and storagey goodness.

So I got a call yesterday afternoon whilst already firmly ensconced within the loving walls of my current job. The employment agency that has placed me once before had an interview for me. "But Gabs," I hear you saying, "isn't this great news?" Yes, it was. The problem, you see, was that I had nothing to wear.

This conundrum saw me racing straight from work to the hated Primark. I managed to beg my way into the dressing room with a hastily gathered armful of suit pieces (did you know that even though they close at eight, they close the dressing rooms at half seven???) only to find that none of them fit properly. *sigh* I then sprinted across the street to TK Maxx, where I slipped in the door ten minutes to closing and managed to find three pairs of trousers, and was desperately searching for something to pair with them when I got firmly informed that if I didn't head to the tills right that second, I'd be forcibly placed in restraints and made to listen to Lady Gaga until my ears bled. I threw some money at the girl behind the register and hightailed it for the street.

The good news? All three of the pairs fit, and one marvellous, wonderful pair were... wait for it... ACTUALLY LONG ENOUGH. Even with heels...! The bad news? Nothing I had in my closet looked even vaguely professional enough paired with the miraculous trousers. Everything either looked sloppy, or showed my tattoo, or just wasn't right. So, this morning saw me running back up to the wretched Primark, in the hopes that perhaps something that was jumbled up in the dressing room last night had been put back on the racks for today and was just waiting to be bought by yours truly. I grabbed a dress and collared shirt combo, and then went back to TK Maxx to return the two pairs of trousers that had lost out to The Ones. Since I was already there... like I needed an excuse... I had a quick rummage through the racks and desperately clutching yet another armful of clothes, beelined for the dressing room, and ended up with two cardigans, a button up shirt and a blazer.

I'm sure you're dying to know what came next, so I'll tell you. No, really, it's fine, I don't mind telling you. Now calm down, I said I'd tell you!

I wore The Trousers with a button up and the blazer, went to Paddington for the interview, made the standard ingratiating jokes, thanked them for their time and went on my merry way. Three hours later I was the slightly disbelieving recipient of a call from the agency letting me know that I'd gotten the job. *grin* Paddington is ridiculously easy to get to from our place, the money is stupid, and it's a minimum of three months temp work with the possibility to go permanent. I'm not sure if I even want the option of long term, but it's nice to know it's there should my fickle self want it in future.

In other news, my craft supplies are quickly outstripping my capacity to house them. This Etsy business gets cumbersome, let me tell you, and I've been mulling over the storage options for some time now. Please may I introduce you to Clara and Bessie.

Clara's on the left and Bessie's on the right. They were a find in one of my myriad journeys through TK Maxx, and they shall look most beautiful housing all my fabrics and keeping the devil moggies from shredding everything in sight.

I'll be starting the new job on Monday part time as I finish working out my (interminable) notice period and then full time the week after that. So much for my fond thoughts of perhaps a week off to organise the house... *lol* Hell, it's not like I'd actually get any organising done anyway. So, on that brutally honest note, to bed with me. Good night, all. x

14 May, 2010

Photopicturegraphs and other obnoxiousness.

So, I'm constantly reminded of the differences between my upbringing and that of Himself. There are inevitably going to be communication issues with any couple of mixed nationalities, same mother tongue notwithstanding. My most favourite thing in the whole wide world is when we re-enact the following scene:

Himself: "Blah blah blah, (insert show from his childhood that never aired in the States so I have no bloody idea what he's on about)."
Me: "What?"
Himself: "Repeats show name a little louder, like this will make me know what the hell he's talking about."

Because this isn't frustrating in the slightest to me.

Under normal circumstances, this is about as bad as it gets. Yes, it's annoying, but it's nothing I wouldn't expect from any couple in the same situation. You have your moment of "I seriously may kill him this time" and you move on.

That said, every now and then our differing upbringings actually hurts my feelings. My family (my grandmother, in particular) is very big on recording moments, whether it be on video or in photographs. I grew up having a camera thrust insistently into my face on such a regular basis that I developed a permasmile around holiday times. She videoed all us grandkids after every first day of school, asking what teachers we had and what classes we had on our schedules for the year, whether any of our friends had the same arrangements, what our favourite foods or colours were at the time, just to put the minutiae of our lives on film for future enjoyment and hilarity. I remember thinking it was the dumbest thing I'd ever had to endure, and I remember being embarrassed at being filmed, etc. Now, I'm so glad she did that for us, because it was definitely for us (and not "to us" as we thought at the time).

My memory is notoriously rubbish, I can barely remember what I ate for breakfast this morning much less where my first date with Himself took place or what I was wearing at the time (which, yes, he remembers). I love that I can look back through my childhood via these videos and the multitude of photos my family made sure to take at every big moment. First haircuts, first lost teeth, first car, homecoming dates and prom dates and date dates, it's all there. Regrettable hairstyles, even more regrettable ocular accessories, too much flannel during the early 90's, socks with sandals that one Easter that I decided various shades of brown from head to toe was the appropriate look for the day...

I've adopted this view of life with a vengeance, to the point that all I asked for this Christmas/birthday from my entire family was a new camera. With this camera, in the six days between Christmas Eve when I took receipt of said camera and my return to the UK, I managed to take over seven hundred photos. Yes, that was OVER SEVEN HUNDRED PHOTOS. At least half of them are terrible, badly framed or when I managed to put my hand in front of the flash and ruin the shot, but here's the thing... some of them are brilliant. There's one of my sister throwing a snowball at me and part of it captured in mid-air is perfectly shaped like a heart. There's another sister's hysterically joyous reaction to getting that perfect present. There are several sets of photos that document entire scenes out of Texas Life, where thanks to insanely quick shutter speed I've managed to catch the moment my sister realised my brother had demolished her freshly built snowman, the subsequent furious chase around the front yard, the forcible feeding of a snowball to said brother, and the ever poignant "I'm sorry hug", which said brother patented and we all know is a total farce as he'll be back to his old tricks as soon as he extricates himself from your loving arms.

The point of all the rambling was simply this. Himself had his first ever driving lesson this afternoon at the ripe old age of thirty. I waited around the flat, postponing heading to work by maybe ten minutes, just because I wanted to document this moment. To me, the fact that he's just now learning to drive is a foreign concept. In the States, most of us start at fifteen or sixteen. To put it another way, I've been driving for fifteen years, exactly half my life. I know that due to where he grew up and the fact that he then lived in London with access to public transport made learning to drive unnecessary, but it doesn't change how odd it seems to me. So yeah, the driving instructor rang the bell, I got out the camera, and then it happened. Himself says "I'd rather you didn't." It stopped me cold, at first I didn't know what he was on about. When I realised he meant that he didn't want me to take a picture, I didn't really have a choice but to put the camera away and leave for work before my recently rollercoaster-ish hormones had me in tears. That's a moment, lost. I'm getting a little weepy even now. *lol*

So, from now on, I might just not give him a choice. You hear me, mate? Get used to being papped, buddy. *grin*

To sign off, here are a few of my own favourite moments, frozen for my pleasure, and now hopefully for yours.

This is the heart snowball one previously mentioned...

This is at my 30th birthday party, when my brother took advantage of a moment in which he thought nobody would catch him taking a bite out of the remnants of my birthday cake...

And this is the very picture of laziness...

I love these moments. They make me happy.

On that note, to bed with me. Good night, one and all.

04 May, 2010

Save the good news for last.

Things have been a little crazy for me lately. I know, I know, I can hear you all chorusing "and how is that different from every other day, Gabs?"... shut up. *lol*

I gave notice on my job, quoting the least controversial reason for leaving in the hopes of avoiding huge emotional drama with the family. And how did that work out for me, you ask? Like all my best laid plans, it progressed in a markedly different fashion than I had intended. I ended up on the receiving end of a half hour screaming session, informing me that my reasons for leaving were, and I quote, "ridiculous". Because that's professional behaviour for an employer, right? *lol* The main reasons I had given them were that my constant communication issues with the husband of the pair added to the fact that I view my position in their house in a slightly different fashion than they view it meant that I didn't feel this was a viable long term solution. As they had asked me in my one month review to decide definitely whether I would be staying with their family before my three month probationary period was up, I thought this would appreciated. I was mistaken.

After the screaming fit, I wished I'd given my reasons in full. Some of them have come out since the assault on my sensibilities (and my ears), like the fact that I don't appreciate coming to work to find last night's dinner detritus from the parent's evening meal waiting for me to gather it up from all over the house. One or two of them haven't, like how it's not healthy or normal for a seven year old to regress to baby talk upon his mother's return from a business trip. Or how painful it is for me to watch them ignore their nine year old to the point that he literally screams just to get them to look at him. At which point he's in trouble for acting out of control, mind you. I guess to him, negative attention is better than no attention.

The moral of this story, kiddies, is as follows. Himself was right and I was wrong. *sigh* I know, several of you have fainted away in sheer shock at seeing those words from yours truly. I'll have you know, I said them out loud to Himself, and to his eternal credit, he did not gloat. Not to my face anyway. *lol* When I first hatched my ingenious plan to work part time as a nanny and study horticulture in my off hours, he had the audacity, the sheer barefaced cheek, to remind me how much I had hated nannying. I was incensed! How dare he tell me what I didn't want to hear?! I argued, nastily, that the reason I'd hated it previously was because I had been illegal and the people who will employ an illegal are the people who will treat their staff poorly. Now that I was legal, I spat vociferously, things would be DIFFERENT.

I did actually believe it, you know. I still have the occasional out of body experience where I think "did I just not find the right family to work for?"... and then I realise that probably, the issue is as follows. If a family has enough money to employ someone else to raise their children, and the mentality that it's acceptable to pawn their children off on who is essentially a total stranger with what could be (and in my case, are) completely falsified references, they're not going to treat their help well. Hence, my constant encounters with people who think I'm beneath them because I'm employed by them. Makes me wonder what their dynamic with their own employers is like... but enough about work.

On the moggie front, I took the furry ones to the vet today for their three month post-op check. I had to catch them to put them in the box, which unfortunately they seem to have finally associated with unpleasant events (being stuck in the car to go to Himself's childhood home most recently). Sophie managed to grow a few extra legs to brace against the sides of the door, but I used that Gabs touch and got her in eventually. They were both subjected to my own personal hell, the public weigh in, and we got two pieces of news. The first is that they've evened out in weight, which surprised the human inhabitants of our household to no end. Kit's always been smaller, and she still looks it, not that the look of her makes us any more comfortable when she lands with all four feet on any available unprotected soft bits. The second piece of news is that, while it's great that they've evened out in weight, they're a bit chubby. *sheepish grin* Poor babies, I didn't realise hereditary conditions could be passed down to your pets. They were doomed from the minute I got my mitts on them. So from kitten food to weight management adult food... I say again, poor babies. *sniff*

But I digress. I have news, all! I'm opening an Etsy shop. : ) What's Etsy, most of you have already asked me? *lol* Etsy is Ebay for people who make their own stuff. The rules are that if you list it on Etsy, it must be either handmade or vintage over twenty years old. I've already stitched together a baby sized patchwork quilt that I plan to embroider, and I've done two embroidered kokeshi dolls to frame and put in the shop. The possibilities are endless, I can go back to making all the random loveliness from my Camden stall without having to spend thirty hours a weekend in north London (leaving Himself at loose ends, which is never a good idea). I'm going shabby chic, people! Watch this space for photos documenting my forays into the world of intricately handmade oddities. : )

And on that note, to bed with me.