5 Happy things – the one with a mention of Wonder Woman socks

 

The caravan site I stayed in for the wool festival.

Hello! I’m very sorry for my unintentional hiatus. I’m not really sure what I’ve been up to, but somehow I’ve been very busy recently; as a result, I’m pretty tired in the evenings & haven’t been able to formulate my thoughts into any sensible form. Hopefully this post will get me back into the swing of things.

  • A month with lots of time off

Ironically, I have had loads of time off in April. First there was my birthday, and the concert we went to to celebrate; then Easter, then a wool festival…you get the idea. My only full week of work was the last week in April, then we had a bank holiday! I am loving it. I’d love to say I’ve gotten lots done, but the truth is I’ve been sitting around not doing much. I did have a few day trips, though, which I’ll try to write about sooner rather than later.

  • A visit from a friend from home

A former co-worker from my college library is travelling the world at the moment, and last weekend I was lucky enough to have her come see me. It was lovely to see a bit of home. It was also nice to introduce her to a few of my favorite places in England, and maybe one or two things she might have missed on her own.

  • My sister’s successful knee surgery

My sister’s had knee problems since she was a teenager, and continues to have them in spite of having had surgery on both knees. She’s just had an experimental surgery (don’t ask for details; I get queasy thinking about it so haven’t asked for them!) which seems to be a success so far in spite of quite a lot of pain for her. Overall she’s doing well, and that makes me very happy!

  • Getting started on our bedroom curtains (finally)

I bought the fabric for our bedroom curtains last year, but have been too scared to cut it. It was expensive, and also vintage. If I messed up, that was it! I’ve now cut the fabric. Everything seems okay so far…more on this soon.

  • The Big Geeky Craft Swap

One of my favorite things is finding presents for other people. Another is superheroes. How could I possibly resist The Geeky Knitter’s superhero-themed gift swap? I had so much fun thinking about what I could make my recipient, who happened to be Jenny (whose blog I’ve been reading for quite a while). After much pondering, I settled on a pair of Wonder Woman themed socks – I originally planned to make gauntlets, but as those vary in color depending on the version of Wonder Woman, I thought making a sock version of her boots would be ideal. While they didn’t turn out absolutely perfectly, I was pretty happy with them. Sadly, though, I forgot to take a picture of them! Hopefully I can persuade Jenny to share some on my behalf.

I’m linking up with Suzy, who’s also written about what made her happy this week. How about you? I hope there are nice things happening in your life, too.

5 happy things – the one where I can’t stop singing Belle & Sebastian songs in my head

I think we can all agree it’s a relief that it is now officially spring, right? I am so not a fan of winter, and although this has been quite a cold spring so far, brighter days are here and that makes me happy. On a personal level, I’ve been quite stressed recently, but I’m trying not to get bogged down in that. Last week also had plenty of things to make me happy.

  • An afternoon in a sunny garden
  • We don’t have a suntrap of a garden, sadly, but I spent Saturday afternoon round at a friend’s. We drank lemonade, chatted, and ate crisps all afternoon. It was pretty perfect. And because it was sunny two days in a row, I of course spent the whole weekend singing “Another Sunny Day” by Belle & Sebastian in my head. Worse things have happened. 🙂
  • Playing with Pippa in the mornings
  • I’m sorry if you’re all sick of hearing about Pippa, but she’s just so lovely. One of my favorite things right now is our morning routine: I get up, feed her, get dressed, then we spend a bit of time playing with her favorite yellow ribbon. She’s definitely getting more energetic now that the weather’s a bit warmer.
  • The daffodils opening in our garden
  • At last!
  • Submitting my application for Permanent Residency (finally!)
  • I’ve been worrying about this since long before Brexit, to the point where I got so anxious I really couldn’t think about it. I’m still convinced it’ll be rejected initially & that I’ll have to appeal. But it is a huge weight off of me to have it submitted – metaphorically as well as literally, given how much paperwork I submitted! To be honest, I probably went a bit overboard, but I am feeling super paranoid about it.
  • Booking a trip to Wonderwool Wales
  • Whoo, wool festival! This isn’t until the end of April, but I am really excited already. I’ve decided to think of it as my birthday treat to myself. My birthday’s actually at the beginning of April, but it never hurts to extend birthdays. 🙂

This week I’m linking up with Suzy’s happy things. Better late than never, right?

5 happy things: a spring in my step

This is what my garden looks like at the moment. Yup, a mess. I was using the drill to put a hole in the bottom of the square pot. There are lots of positive things happening at the moment. Here are five of them.

    • It feels like spring! Not every day, but enough that I’m feeling like I’m getting a little more energy. This will be reflected in the rest of the post, I suspect. It is also wonderful to see flowers everywhere. Our daffodils still aren’t open, though, and I’m starting to get impatient!
    • My friend bought me these sheets a few months ago, but I haven’t gotten around to using them until now. They are amazing. As you can see, Pippa approves, too. The quality of fabric is pretty shocking, but I’m willing to forgive that. Can’t expect too much for £8 from Asda.

    • Speaking of which, my friends are incredible. I spent a lot of International Women’s Day thinking about the women who inspire me, and loads of them are people I know in person. I have male friends, too, but I have always had stronger friendships with women. I am so amazed by some of the friends I have – a poetry editor at a literary magazine, a library campaigner, a teacher trainee who’s using her time to teach refugees German (in Germany, so it is useful!), a mother of an autistic son who founded a non-profit to help him & others find employment in the tech industry, an artist who worked out a way to make music by painting, and countless friends who spend their time making and thinking about things that matter so that they (and in some cases their kids) can have joyful lives that will leave a positive impact.

    • We finally got frames for some art that we’ve had for ages. I’ve already put them up, though perhaps not in their permanent homes. One of the posters is from a concert we went to last year, and the other is from a poetry jam we helped organize back in 2009. The watercolor was done by R’s mother, who wouldn’t describe herself as an artist, but who I admire. This one was inspired by the following quote from Derek Tangye:

      There was space in the sky, and time was ours, and the air we breathed came to us from far away across the sea, and there were birds singing that we hadn’t noticed before.

    • There’s a new Fleet Foxes album coming out! It won’t be released until 16 June, but I’m already looking forward to it. I’ve been a big fan since their first album. They did a gig at the Custard Factory in Birmingham, and I can definitively say that it’s one of the best I’ve been to. It’s definitely the only gig where I actually felt like I was floating. I’m glad they’ve released the first single to tide me over:

What’s made you happy this week?

5 happy things – the one with buds of spring

It’s been a little while since I’ve done one of these lists. Actually, it’s been a little while since I posted on here. Things are pretty busy at the moment. I’m working on my final module for a PG Certificate, which involves a lot more work than previous modules, and I’m gathering all my documents for my Permanent Residency application (and being grateful to my mom, yet again, for her German citizenship so I didn’t have to worry about this until now, because it is really stressful), there’s lots to think about in regard to the allotment, and we’ve got plans for house stuff (bookshelves, at last!).

But in spite of all this, I have been reasonably content. There have been lots of little things to make me happy. Here are five of them.

  • Daffodils

I planted some daffodils in our front garden late fall, but hadn’t seen any sign of them. I was already starting to assume they just hadn’t made it through the winter for some reason. But on Saturday morning, there they were! Granted, they’re still tiny, but it’s something to look forward to.p1080229

  • Local bookshops

Cheltenham didn’t have an independent bookshop when I moved here, but a couple of years ago The Suffolk Anthology opened. It’s a lovely shop, with a carefully chosen selection of books. They also sell tea & coffee & cake. I stopped by on Saturday & left with Exchanging Hats, a book of paintings by Elizabeth Bishop. It was there when I visited late last year, and I didn’t buy it. The fact that it was still there tells me it was fate. Right?

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  • Morning cycles in the daylight

I love my morning  bike ride to the train station. But it is so much better now that it’s light when I leave the house.

  • More books

Oops, I bought some more books. This is my favorite illustration from one of them, 365 Penguins.

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  • Time with R

I do think Valentine’s Day is a load of rubbish, but it was nice to have an excuse to go out during the week. We are both prone to inertia & very rarely do. A Tuesday evening out broke up the week & made it fly by.

How are things going for you at the moment?

5 happy things – another necessary one

This has been another hard week, as 2016 apparently decided that one lot of grief isn’t enough for me. On Tuesday, my German grandmother died. I never really knew her growing up, as we couldn’t afford family trips to Germany. But she did fly out for some of my major life events – college graduation, my wedding – and since I moved to England, I’ve tried to go visit once a year. Sadly, I didn’t make it out there this year. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 2 years ago, and I was planning a trip in January. If only I hadn’t decided to wait. 😦 I am very sad to not have her around any more, but at the same time she has been a lot of pain, so in a sense there is a release now. But it’s still hard, especially at this time of the year.

The same day, I also found out a friend is pregnant for the second time. Obviously I am really happy for her, but I must admit the timing did make me feel really sorry for myself. I’m pretty much over that now, though, thank goodness.

However, I am making the most of the festive season by metaphorically wrapping myself in fairy lights. I’m doing as much festive stuff as I can, and really trying to distract myself with happy things while I grieve again. So here are my happy things for this week. What are yours?

  • This Polish Christmas advert

It is beautiful, and I saw it for the first time on Wednesday. It was like watching Oma. It made me cry an awful lot, but in a happy way. I hope you love it, too.

  • This color combination

Pretty stunning, isn’t it? It really does make me happy.

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The Victoria & Albert Museum is one of my favourite places in the world, so getting to visit is always a treat. Opus Anglicanum is about medieval English embroidery, and was absolutely stunning. The level of detail was phenomenal! It was also fun to look at the recurring motifs – Trees of Jesse, peacocks, the nativity, and saints (with a high proportion of female saints, actually) were ones that I noticed, though no doubt there were many more. There was also a video of someone using the techniques that would have been used at the time (primarily split stitch and underside couching) which was strangely hypnotic. I also went with a friend from near home, and had lunch with a different friend I haven’t seen in about 5 years. She taught me to knit & also inspired me to take up dressmaking, so it was great to catch up & discuss our current projects. We both left inspired to make stuff, which I think is the ideal outcome.

I’ve never been to the V & A at Christmas, either, and I loved the stars they projected in the atrium.

  • New wall decor

p1070541I know, slightly inappropriate, but it did make me laugh a lot! R got this several years ago when he had an online business selling film memorabilia. He just found it again last week. So up it went!

  • A candlelight carol service

I love carol services! They always make me really emotional. There’s something really magical about Christmas carols, isn’t there? I’ve been wanting to go to the candlelight service at the church in the city centre for years, but never managed it until this year, when I asked a friend to go with me. It was excellent, though there were several I didn’t know. I also heard “Jesulein süß” in English for the first time, and learned that “In the Bleak Midwinter” was set to music by Gustav Holst, which makes it a local carol as well as one of my favorite wintry poems.

I was also thrilled to see Madeleine L’Engle, one of my favorite authors, was in the program. Someone read this poem:

Into the Darkest Hour

It was a time like this,
War & tumult of war,
a horror in the air.
Hungry yawned the abyss-
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.

It was time like this
of fear & lust for power,
license & greed and blight-
and yet the Prince of bliss
came into the darkest hour
in quiet & silent light.

And in a time like this
how celebrate his birth
when all things fall apart?
Ah! Wonderful it is
with no room on the earth
the stable is our heart.

I think it’s a beautiful poem, and couldn’t be more fitting for this year. I’m so glad I’ve heard it.

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5 happy things: the “Welcome to Winter” edition

I know technically winter doesn’t start until the solstice on 21 December, but in my head it starts when we get a frost. That happened to be this week. I’ve mentioned before that I’m really not a fan of winter. At worst, I get clinically depressed for weeks/months; at best I just have varying levels of anxiety and self-loathing for weeks/months. This year has been pretty good so far, though. I’m quite surprised by how cheerful I’ve been. I guess it just proves that sometimes it does help to think about little positive things. I’m going to hold onto the feeling while it lasts!

  • Frost

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Last Wednesday was cold enough that the frost didn’t even melt in the sunshine. Brr. The next day was a little warmer, with the frost melting in the sun (but not the shade). But actually, it was really refreshing to have a change from the blah, rainy weather we’ve had so much of this fall. I will take cold, real weather over grey skies any day. I go through quite a few fields on the train, and it was just so beautiful. It looked like there was frozen fog floating above each one. I loved it. I’m looking forward to more days like this.

  • Pantsuit Nation

I use Facebook a lot; it’s a really convenient way to stay in touch with my family and friends back at home (or in Germany, in some cases). I also use it to find out about events, etc. Post-election, a page called Pantsuit Nation popped up. It’s a wonderful page. People share their stories about what they’re doing to challenge hate, and it’s just really heart-warming. When the world looks like crap, it is really great to see the positive things that are happening around the U.S.

  • Advent

p1070492It’s Advent season! Christmas festivities are now officially allowed to start, on a small scale at least. I am really embracing the holidays this year as a way to cheer myself up. We now have 3 Advent calendars. One of them was made for us by my friend in Germany. It is a variety of dried fruit & nuts. Such a wonderful idea! We may put up some other decorations soon, but for now that’s all we’ve got hanging up.

I also spent last Saturday volunteering at the local charity Christmas market. It was cold, but a lot of fun, especially getting to wander around the other stalls during my break.

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  • Having a chair in our “library”

We don’t have many people to stay, so instead of having a full spare bedroom, we’re opting to use our second bedroom as a home library/office/sewing room instead. We’ve now moved our wingback chair up there, and it’s pretty great to be able to sit in there and read with the sunlight streaming in in the morning.

  • Professor Lupin’s wand

A friend came to stay last week. It was so great to see him. But even better was the fact that he brought me a late 30th birthday present – a Harry Potter wand! Specifically, Professor Lupin’s wand. It was totally unexpected and obviously super exciting!

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So these are my happy things for the week; what are yours?

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10 happy things

This week definitely requires a double dose of happiness. I am, unsurprisingly, pretty horrified by what’s happening at home right now. But I can’t talk or write about it coherently yet, so I’ll spare you! For now, I’m going to focus on the positive. So without further ado, here are 10 things I’m happy about right now.

  • Skype

I spent 2 hours Skyping with a friend at home last night. I Skype my mom for about an hour every week. My sister & I regularly message back and forth on it, too. And it’s free! I mean, you have to pay to call a phone, which I occasionally do, but that’s pretty reasonably priced. It is a lifeline when I am feeling homesick and desperately need to talk to my overseas family and friends, and when the world is an overwhelming place. Do you love Skype as much as me? I don’t know what I’d do without it, really. I really admire my mom for spending over 30 years in a different country from her mum without it.

  • Good news for colleagues

One of my colleagues has an American husband. About 4 months ago, his visitor’s visa expired and he was sent back to the U.S. This week, he came back. Even better, he was finally given a spouse visa, after 2 1/2 years. Such an appalling length of time to have to wait! I can’t imagine. I am so lucky to have dual citizenship. Anyway, I am just so happy for them. It is wonderful that someone is having such fantastic news right now.

  • A new vase

p1070305One of my purchases at Made By Hand Cardiff was this vase by Louise Hall. It’s much more contemporary than my usual style, and the chartreuse glazed inside is a very different color for me. But I love it! If I’m going to buy something new, I do like it to be something that is a bit different from what I can find in charity shops.

At the moment I have these dried wheat stalks in it, so the color really pops. It’ll be interesting to see what a flower with green stalks looks like. p1070307

  • Thrifty Christmas Gift Swap

Janet has kindly organised the Thrifty Gift Swap again this year. I participated last year and delighted in picking out presents for Janet (who happened to be my recipient). Of course, I also loved getting a parcel. One of my gifts was a vintage loaf tin, which is now on my kitchen windowsill. 🙂 I’ve now got my recipient for this year, so I’ve been thinking about what I can make/look for. It’s great fun.

  • A new laptopp1070309

Unfortunately this one has left me poor, but I am very happy to have a new laptop. My previous MacBook lasted 8 years, but now the battery is totally dead. I am also unable to download some programs, and while I can upgrade one more operating system, I would start running into the same problem again very soon. I bought last year’s MacBook Pro, which is the last Mac ever to have an integrated CD drive. It does make it heavier than, for example, the MacBook Air, but we have a massive CD collection and I do like being able to play them in different rooms with my laptop without downloading them.

  • Creeping Dread

On Wednesday, I happened across a tin labelled Creeping Dread in TK Maxx. It made me laugh so much in light of the election that I bought it straightaway. As it happens, Creeping Dread is in fact sherbets, and also contains a short story by Charlie Higson. They’re part of the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies range, created to support the Ministry of Stories. I heard about them ages ago, but had never actually seen any in person. They’re now sitting on my desk & will probably remain there for the next 4 years.

  • Mint Oreos!

I love mint Oreos! This is the first time I’ve seen them in the UK, though. They’re currently on offer at Tesco, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking of going back and stockpiling. Hmmm…

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  • Thanksgiving planning

I know I’ve said it before, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Because it’s our first Thanksgiving in our new home, we’re planning an extra big one this year. There will be around 15 people, including a few kids, and I’m simultaneously excited and very nervous. I usually do a wide array of foods, but for practical reasons I’ll have to do fewer dishes this year. I’ve also got a vegan and 3 vegetarians to cater for, so that’s an added challenge. I hope they don’t mind that they’ll all be eating vegan! Anyway, slimming down the menu is easier said than done, as I love looking at cookbooks and online recipes. Thanksgiving planning is something I look forward to all year, so I am really loving it.

  • More home improvements

The house is still in a bit of a state, if I’m honest. I don’t know how the year has gotten the best of us to such a dramatic extent. We’re having friends to stay for Thanksgiving, though, so that’s been a great incentive to finally get stuff done. Today a friend came over and we painted our spare bedroom/library. I had this custom color matched to a Victorian fruit bowl that was a housewarming present. I was nervous because it’s so bold, but I absolutely love it! We wanted something that would make the room cozy, and this is perfect for that. I can’t wait to get our bookshelves mounted.

It’s funny that I sometimes feel self conscious about being so picky about decorating our home…and then I remember that for a good 5 years when I was a teenager I wanted to be an interior designer. Sadly I was foiled by geometry. It’s nice to finally have my own space to be creative in.

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  • Going viral

I’m not really sure if this is a happy thing, but it is certainly a novel thing. My friend shared the cutest GIF ever on Facebook, of a knitted gnome knitting hearts which then float up. I didn’t know who made it, but I did think others would enjoy it, so I tweeted it. I generally think of Twitter as  my own personal echo chamber and totally forget that people can see my tweets. But as of writing this post, this tweet has been retweeted over 1,200 times and had over 1,800 likes. It is just bizarre!

Fortunately/unfortunately, I then found out that the creator of the GIF had also tweeted it. I feel so guilty for not having attributed it! I did send out a followup tweet so who made , but I know that most people won’t have bothered actually looking at my account to see that. I’ve done my best to direct people to the creator, though, so I really hope she’s not too upset about it.