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?

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.

 

Sleepy Sunday

Hello, lovely readers. I’m sorry for the quiet blog. I’m working on a post about last weekend, as well as some ongoing projects. But just so I can say I’ve blogged, I thought I’d share this picture of Pippa, which pretty much sums up today. p1070302

This is the chest of drawers I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. It still smells musty, so I thought I’d take advantage of the sunshine to air them a bit. Pippa decided to take advantage of it as well.

5 happy things

I haven’t posted for a while, mostly because I haven’t had anything to say. Between recovering and the start of induction period at work, time to think about anything is rare right now. But the good news is that I am starting to feel more like myself again. And what better way to get back into good habits than with 5 happy things?

This fabric.

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I fell for this 1960s fabric months ago when I saw it in the awesome Domestic Science shop while visiting my friend in Nailsworth. There was loads of it and it was still on its original bobbin. I had recently decided we should have red, blue, and yellow as the colors in our bedroom & this was exactly the kind of fabric I wanted for our curtains. But it was very expensive, and we have big windows, so it was not really an option. Happily, I had a tax return recently (hurrah!) and they still had some left! Really, I needed 6 meters to make the curtains comfortably, but they only had 5 meters…so I am just going to fudge it a little. Totally worth it. I am very deeply in love with this fabric, ha!

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The allotment hasn’t been up to much this year, hence the lack of posts about it. At last we are getting something out of it, though. I ate the raspberries before I could take a picture of them, so these are just the stains. Our plum tree has also had some fruit, though not a lot. I used some of them to make Pflaumkuche, which my mom always use to make. I’ll share the recipe soon in case you want to try it. It was delicious as always!

Knitting

I have started knitting a black cardigan for work. Perhaps it’s not that exciting, but I haven’t had any projects for a while, so it’s nice to have needles in my hand again.

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This was the view on my way to work this week. Gorgeous, isn’t it? I love living in Gloucestershire. The county has just the right mix of meadows, woods, hills, and rivers for me.

Warm weather

Ah, sunshine! I couldn’t enjoy the good weather in July, so I am really grateful that we have had some more in August. While my colleagues have been complaining about the humidity, I still have Missouri weather to compare it against – so I know I’m getting off easy! I think it is contributing to my homesickness, though, on the down side.

Home grown

I’ve just realised I never shared any pictures from my non-so-recent trip home. The Art Institute & Botanical Gardens are definitely wonderful, but they’re not the first thing I think of when I think about home. When I think about home, I think about clouds and creeks and thunderstorms and my mom’s garden. So here you go: this is a photographic insight into my favorite place. Some of these pictures were taken in Kansas City or Columbia, rather than in my hometown, but nonetheless they capture the feeling of home.

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Dinos, elephants, and other big news

P1030827.JPGThis week has been great fun, as I’ve been knitting dinosaurs. RAWR! They’re presents for the various little ones in my life. I have to say these are the most fun thing I’ve knit in ages; I keep looking down and thinking, “Look at that tiny dinosaur leg!” and then chuckling to myself. I’ve made them half the size of the pattern by halving the number of stitches – this stegosaurus was supposed to be 30 cm, much too big for the 1-year-old it’s intended for. Also, part of the reason I went for making toys in the first place is that I wanted to use up some of the double knit yarn in my stash.

I’ve not been reading much recently, but I did squeeze in another Tom Cox book, The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society, the end of The Matchmaker, and am currently reading The Sense of an Elephant. Hm, that sounds like more than I thought…but they are all light hearted reads, apart from the last one. Some random thoughts:

  • I would like to meet Tom Cox’s cats, but also his dad, because he sounds awesome.
  • The Matchmaker was underwhelming. I really wanted to like it, but the plot wasn’t strong enough for me, nor were the characters people I liked. While a couple of lines were funny, overall I thought the book was a bit lacking in something indefinable. There were also interruptions from the writer (ala Jane Austen & the Bronte sisters), which didn’t really work in this context. I managed to finish it, and liked the very last page best out of the whole book. However, I could easily have not finished it & just forgotten about it. I may give Gibbons another go later, but I suspect she’s not for me.
  • The Sense of an Elephant is enjoyable so far. It revolves around Pietro, the concierge at an upscale Milan apartment building – his past and his relationships with the tenants. The writing’s nice, and I think the book has a good structure.

Finally, the big news. As of yesterday, R & I are homeowners! We got our keys yesterday and will be moving early next year. It’s not a big fancy house, or anything approaching our dream house, but when we started thinking about buying we realised quite quickly that a period home like we would have really wanted was out of our budget. Yes, maybe we could have gotten one that needed a lot of work, but neither of us have any experience of DIY & we were a little too intimidated (though I personally am hoping our next house, if there is one, will need an overhaul!). The one we’ve got is a sensible house with a good kitchen & enough space for us to live in for quite a while. Expect photos soon.

Update: linking this with the yarn-along.

A good (Friday) birthday

Easter’s one of my favourite holidays, not least because it often coincides with my birthday. This year my birthday happened to fall on Good Friday, so I had the day off. To celebrate I decided to have a lunchtime picnic. Unfortunately the weather was poor, and several friends had gone home to visit family, but I persevered and held it in my flat for those who were able to come. It was a small but perfectly formed group. I bought lots of flowers to bring the outside in (sadly I don’t have a garden, so I couldn’t use my own flowers). It was also a great excuse to use some of my vintage crockery, which I have a terrible weakness for!

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I have a few go-to foods when I want to make an impression but don’t want to do a lot of work. Quiche is one of them. If you can make pastry, quiche is a breeze; if you can’t, you can always buy readymade pastry. 😉 For this picnic I made leek, roasted red pepper, and feta quiche. I pre-cooked the leeks, then put them in the bottom of a blind-baked crust and layered roasted red peppers (the kind preserved in vinegar, though freshly roasted would be delicious) and feta cheese. I beat 6 eggs with milk, seasoned with salt and pepper, and poured the mixture over the filling. Then it just needed to be baked at 180 for 45 minutes. It was delicious and moist! I made tomato & onion salad to go with it, and also plated up roasted red peppers, smoked salmon, and cucumber with creme fraiche.

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And what birthday is complete without a cake? I made The English Kitchen’s lemon yoghurt cake, which is another one of those go-to recipes for me. It’s never gone wrong yet! This time I made some raspberry compote to go with it.

 

 

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