#WhyIMarch

Today is the second anniversary of this blog. And once again, I’m astounded I’m still here. Still writing. Still ranting. Not as much as I thought I would be, but recently, that has been a conscious choice.

I’ve taken a step away from my social media feed, which is starting to sound dangerously like an echo chamber. 2016 was the year for fun and games with the memes and the GIFs and the snappy comebacks, but the reality is, today, 20 days into 2017, across the pond, a strong nation, a great nation, unleashes upon itself a man and his cohort who believe they have a legitimate right to infringe upon human rights and freedoms in a way that I never thought possible in my lifetime. Here, in the UK, the Prime Minister performs an interesting dance between adviser and dictator, careening through the extrication of the UK from the EU with no real visible plan, just the conviction that ‘Brexit means Brexit’.

The real work of challenging these new realities is still to come. And it needs real talk and real action. I still don’t know how to engage with those who celebrate and support the politics of hate and fear and separation. I don’t know how I can understand or influence people so radically different to me in thought and belief. But I do know I can climb off the Pyramid of Hate.

whyimarchSo tomorrow, I march with DD. Because I have the glorious freedom to do so. Because I am not indifferent. Because I refuse to normalise wrong. Because silence never got us anywhere. Onwards and upwards!

#whyImarch #womensmarchlondon

Guilty pleasures

The unbranded soft and fruity red wine – it goes down so smoothly

Reading romance and chick lit all day

Binge-watching Say Yes to the Dress with DD

Lying in the sunshine, WITHOUT sunscreen

Eating way too many of BB’s pancakes & galettes

Quality Time Away

I’ve been away from the blog, spending quality time with my loved ones. It is exactly what I needed.

DD got a pile of books for Christmas, and she has been most diligent at turning her TBR pile into her Read-That pile. One book really gripped her and she was desperate for me to read it, and I am so glad she got her way.

This book is amazing. Just delightful. Realistic, yet hopeful. Factual about Ireland in the 19th century, yet not fatalistic or political.

I love discussing it with DD after I had finished. We talked about the characters and how the author set the tone, from Ireland to the New World. We talked politics. DD is an expat third culture kid, so this story especially appealed to her. I think she really identified with the protagonist. The experience brought us together in a way I couldn’t have imagined, and I can’t wait to read another book ‘together’.

I’ve also been busy at work, but good busy. The magazine is going from strength to strength and it’s heartening to see my efforts yield tangible results. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I was afraid that the team would eventually show their ‘true colours’ – that people couldn’t really be that nice. I am delighted to announce that I was WRONG. It’s a real joy to be able to enjoy what I do, even on a bad day. I am well aware of how lucky I am.

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One of my favourite covers – the February 2016 issue – it soothes me every time I look at it, which is several times a day.

books

Some of my favourite books … the #shelfie is for a work project. Which books would make your #shelfie?

daffs

It’s daffodil season again! We had a delivery of narcissii from the Scilly Isles to the office, and their scent was a glorious welcome to work every morning. Which flowers say spring to you?

 

What’s your Love Language?

I’m going to try and keep up with Belle Brita’s #LoveBlog prompts for February 2016.

Today’s prompt is based on the 5 Love Languages, a book my mother-in-law passed me many years ago. I took the free online quiz to refresh my memory. The areas I scored highest on, and funnily enough, the areas I would say I excel at, are Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service.

Unsolicited compliments mean the world to me. When my husband or daughter tell me they love me, or something I’ve done for them, I float on air all day. Conversely, insults or harsh words can leave me shattered and raw, and unfortunately, I don’t forget easily (or trust quickly).

Similarly, helping others gives me great joy, and getting help, although I don’t often ask for it, is gratefully received. Vacuum my floors and I’ll love you forever. Ease the burden of my day-to-day drudgery (read: chores) and I’ll love you forever. One of the nicest, kindest things Husband did for me was regularly taking his shirts out to get service-washed & ironed. Bliss.

Receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch fall lower on my scales, but I know Husband and DD (almost ten now) both love quality time and lots of hugs and cuddles, so I have to balance my needs with theirs.

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Because all good girly days involve duck-face selfies!

DD and I have lots of ‘girly days’ or even just afternoons when she gets to choose all our activities and I go along for the ride. It’s not a huge effort for me to do this, and she responds with words I need to hear. She mops the floor and works really hard to get herself organised on school nights for the next day, so I’m not stressed and she gets extra time with me in the mornings. A win-win for both of us!

As a family, we’re pretty open about what we need, and letting each other know when we’re not getting what we need. So really, is it knowing our love languages, or good communication, which is the key?

What do you think?

Refresh Revive Renovate

One year and one day on, I’m toying around with changing the look of Petal & Mortar.

What do you think?

I feel like I can’t see the wood for the trees, so suggestions and ideas are very, very welcome!

Or do I have a good thing going and should I just leave well enough alone? Husband thinks so. DD thinks so.

But Mama wants new (metaphorical) shoes!!! Sigh.

Colour me conflicted.

ID, please…

It was another frigid day at work. The heating was off for the second day in a row, and we all looked like a bunch of vagrants, layered in whatever we had brought with us and other random bits lying around the office (blanket samples! tea towels!). It’s a good thing there wasn’t a hot water bottle in the sample pile or there might have been a bloodbath!

Having belatedly remembered on the way home that it was my one-year anniversary as a blogger – but more on this later, don’t get distracted – I decided a celebratory/survival bottle of wine was in order.

I brought my purchase up to the single manned till (don’t get me started on self-service checkouts)….and then this happened….

IMAG0406Checkout Lady: (scanning bottle) Could I see some ID, please?

Me: … … 

Checkout Lady: I need to see some ID or I can’t sell you this bottle.

Me: … …

Checkout Lady: Listen, the law says if you look under 25, I have to ask for ID. It’s the law!

Me: (almost sobbing) You think I look younger than 25?!

For you new followers (Hi!), you may not know this, but I’m almost 38. And I was looking pretty sad today. So even though she was probably lying, I didn’t care!! 

I GOT CARDED. BOO-YA, as the young ‘uns say.

And happy anniversary to me. More on this later. I’m too busy looking young & irresponsible right now.

 

I’m not ready for reality

I’m mulling over some photos from our Christmas hols in Belgium to put off facing 2016 for another day. Truthfully, our on-line accounting system has been playing silly buggers and I haven’t been able to file last month’s expenses which has driven me DILLY.

So here I am, looking at pictures….and thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2016. And I have NFC!! 2015 was a banner year – new role in totally new field, this blog, a Twitter account, an Instagram account… how can 2016 compete? Do I need it to compete?

Or can I take a breath?

I could make some pea & ham soup (done!)

I could pick up a new hobby – adult ballet?

I could start running again – gently!

I could learn to bake some decent GF bread

I could write letter & postcards (any willing recipients out there?)

I could try sitting still, to read all afternoon, and not multi-task or feel guilty

I could attempt to add a few more words to my NaNoWriMo 2015 project, which didn’t get as much attention as it needed last November.

And here’s the result…

2016

My feet, photographed on the Quai de Montebello, Paris, October 2015

I’m on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter – I had such fun in 2015 that I’m continuing to expand my circles this year, so let me know what your handles are!

Thursday Thanks

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Today, I am so grateful I got to walk through central London with DD, taking time to admire the architecture, like the beautiful Royal Courts of Justice, and just soak up some pre-Yuletide atmosphere. 

This is officially the last day of calm before the storm of holiday mania and panic buying; the UK has embraced Black Friday with fervour, even though Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday here. I am also grateful for online shopping which enabled me to do almost all of my holiday shopping, so that I can look forward to a wonderful and relaxed Thanksgiving/birthday celebration for Husband this weekend. 

I’m thankful for many things, but this year, most especially for the incredible blogging community which has welcomed and supported me over the last ten months. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. You’ve kept a girl relatively sane.

Now…if you only got to keep one Thanksgiving food for every Thanksgiving to come, what would it be? 

One Week On…

It’s been a week since Friday 13 November. What a day, what a week. I have taken the last week off from most social media and news updates, and even took a break from reading blog posts from friends.

I just needed to re-group, pull myself together, and not fall down the spiral of thinking the world is a pretty horrific place. Yes, as humans, we do some pretty darn awful things to each other. But I have seen enough examples of goodness, kindness and humanity to resist tarring everyone with the same brush, and for my own sanity, needed to avoid seeing anything to the contrary. 

IMAG0337_2Naive? Perhaps. But it’s worked. I’m still a bit jumpy about leaving the house and acknowledging the possibility that London may be next, but on the whole, I’m OK. 

I’m facing forward to Thanksgiving/husband’s birthday and the start of Yuletide (which means baking goodies like these edible ornaments). And catching up on all the posts I’ve missed. Expect some seriously delayed comments!

Where’d I go? NaNoWriMo!

I’ve got the Dixie Chicks in my ears and I’ve plugged away for the last three nights to pull out 2050 words for NaNoWriMo. Nowhere near the 1667 per day recommendation, but 2050 more than I had three days ago, so I’m winning. 

It’s been a whirlwind week and I had to take yesterday off to rest myself and get over a serious case of tired-and-achey.

Thursday was a day off to do our dental and eye checks, and then DD and I had a delicious dim sum lunch before heading home to vegetate. By the time I woke up Friday morning, every bone in my body ached like I had been slammed into concrete. My toes felt broken. Not a good sign, as I was due to go to the long-anticipated U2 concert with BB, who was over from Paris. Soldiering on through the day, I was wiped by the time I got home to get ready to go out again. But go out we did, after a mini-meltdown. (Are you sensing my meltdowns seem to be occurring with almost precise regularity?)

#U2 #U2ietour2015U2 was nothing short of spectacular. Emotional. I found myself laughing and crying. Raw and exhilarated. Young and oh so very old. I was spent by the time I got home later that night (well, technically, VERY early the next morning).

Saturday was a day packed with errands and the annual greed-fest known as Halloween. DD went as the ghost of a Pink Lady from Grease. Don’t ask. It was creative of her; she tries so hard to be girly but she has a definite Goth edge. We walked around for over two hours before I lost the will to live and begged to go home. When do they get too old to trick or treat, or old enough to go by themselves?

I cannot for the life of me remember what we did on Sunday, other than troop out with half of London to see the Oxford Street lights go on that evening. It’s officially OK to talk about Christmas now. Just in time! I need something to look forward to, and distract me from waiting to hear about MBA applications. 

It feels like it’s going to be a rough month and I have no idea why. It could be because I am messing around with my eating habits, which triggers my other auto-immune condition. It’s just stupid, I know. I am learning to accept that some days, just getting out of bed is a victory. Some days I can fly and some days I have concrete blocks on my feet. I haven’t got the energy to do a root cause analysis. Perhaps NaNoWriMo will get me through the month?

How are you feeling? Are you doing NaNoWriMo or NaNoBloPo? Have you planned out and scheduled your posts?