Sunday, 3 November 2013

#BEDN : Light (also known as Goodbye Blog!)

Today, I'm writing about light in the sense of a lightness of spirit.

Early this morning, something very little and quite inconsequential happened but in that moment, I realised that it's time to stop writing this blog. And a weight lifted.

I'm not intending to stop writing completely. I'm actually in the process of setting up a new blog, which will primarily focus on the books I review, as well as (potentially) some other random stuff. I'm actually really looking forwards to shining a light on the things I enjoy rather than on my inner self. Focusing on things I do rather than dwelling on how I feel is, I think, what I need to be doing right now.

So thank you blog! For the opportunities you gave me and the people I was able to meet through you. But most of all, thank you to YOU; for reading my blog and supporting me when times got tough.

You can still find me on twitter (by clicking here) and  I'll post the details of my new blog once it's up in case you want to take a look.

Until then, goodbye everyone!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

#BEDN : Something I Made

Today I've made a start on putting aside the belief system that I've built most of my adult life around.

I'm not attractive enough...
I've put on too much weight...
I can't change my eating habits...
I make bad decisions...
I'm stuck in my job...
I'll never be a success...
I'll never achieve my dreams...
I'm too tired to make any changes...
I'm too scared to make any changes...

Because I'm not good enough.

These are the things I tell myself but I realised today that NO-ONE ELSE THINKS THEM! I am the ONLY PERSON that thinks these things about myself. So if I'm not good enough, then for whom? whose standards do I think I'm not living up to? Because, quite obviously, they're NOT REAL!

So from today, I am making a concerted effort to ignore any negative thoughts and to think twice about what I say in case I inadvertently slip into auto-pilot and say stuff that feeds into my old beliefs.

 I'm under no illusion that it'll be easy and I'll admit that I'm scared about doing this. After all, if I actively step out of the role that I've cast myself in then where will that leave me? who will I be then?

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It's always been inside of you, you, you
And now it's time to let it through-ough-ough
                                                                       -Katy Perry, "Firework"

I'll try to remember that, Katy.

Friday, 1 November 2013

#BEDN : Introductions

Evening all! Although I haven't blogged much lately, I've been thinking about my blog a lot and whether I want to carry on with it, or even blog at all anymore.

And then I came across Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) over at Rosalilium and I thought I'd sign up and use it as an opportunity to properly focus on exploring how I'm feeling and where I want to go next.

So to everyone who comes across this post as part of #BEDN: hello! *waves*.

I started blogging 2 years ago when my youngest was about 4 months old. I was starting to struggle with 2 under 2 and slipping into postnatal depression (although I didn't realise it at the time). The idea was that I'd use my blog to channel my transformation into "A Hell Of A Woman".

That hasn't happened though and what I've recently realised is that I'm not really any further along in that journey. I may have beaten PND but there's still a long list of things that I'm unhappy with. Do I really want to put them "out there" for all to read? And why do I find myself questioning that now when I've written personal posts in the past? what's changed?

One thing that's obvious is that I've lost my blogging "joie de vivre" and I suspect that #BEDN will either be the making or the breaking of this blog.

God, how miserable do I sound?! Readers, please sort me out!

PS: I really love Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Review: Runners by Sharon Sant and a Giveaway

RUNNERS  by Sharon Sant

Paperback, 284 pages

Published: 8 June 2013 by Immanion Press

ISBN: 1907737529 (ISBN13: 9781907737527) 

Available to buy from Amazon UK / The Book Depository and more

Elijah is nothing special. He's just a skinny kid doing his best to stay one step ahead of starvation and the people who would have him locked away in a labour camp - just another Runner. But what he stumbles upon in a forest in Hampshire shows him that the harsh world he knows will become an even more sinister place, unless he can stop it.

As past and present and parallel dimensions collide, freedom becomes the last thing on his mind as he is suddenly faced with a battle to save his world from extinction. But before Elijah can find the courage to be the hero the world needs, he must banish his own demons and learn to trust his friends. And all the while, the sinister figure of Maxwell Braithwaite looms, his path inextricably bound to Elijah's by a long dead physicist, and hell bent on stopping Elijah, whatever the cost.


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and I was looking forwards to reading it, as I haven't read many dystopian novels and with it falling under the Young Adult banner, I thought it would be a good and not to complex introduction to the genre.

As a more mature *ahem* reader, and with the main cast of characters being around the 14 years old mark, I found it hard to connect with the story as much as I would have liked to. I'm not used to reading books written from a third person point of view and I do think this contributed to me feeling quite detached from Elijah, the main character, and the other 'runners'. However, readers of a similar age to the characters will, I think, really enjoy this book and will "get" the characters and their motivations much more than I did.

The future that Sant describes is realistic, rather than fantastical, and the sci-fi elements that she introduces are subtle and don't overpower the story. It really doesn't seem that far-fetched to think that in the future we'll be running low on energy sources, global warming will have taken its toll on food supplies and unless you're rich, life will be a struggle.

But at its heart, this book is really about how a group of people can become a family, which is something I feel most teens will identify with and which is a really positive message for it to hold. After all, how many of us "grown ups" can remember thinking "my friends are my family" at some point when we were teenagers?

If you like your books fast-moving then Runners probably isn't for you. It's a slow build with some of the big revelations saved until quite late in the story. There certainly seems to be scope for Sant to continue the story and her website indicates there's a series of prequels to follow, which is a refreshing change to all the trilogies that are currently out there!


Sharon is kindly giving away 3 paperback copies of Runners. To be in with a chance of winning one, click this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway.


Monday, 19 August 2013

I know what you put in Room 101 last summer

Stickers, Stars and Smiles

I've been tagged by Charlotte, the Distressed Housewife, to think of three things that I would put into my own personal Room 101, as part of a meme started over at Stickers, Stars and Smiles.

If you want to join in, the rules are:
  • Pick three things/people/whatever that you would shove in a room never to see the light of day again (Room 101)
  • Explain why should they go in there
  • Tag three bloggers to carry the meme forward (if you want to).
  • Display the Room 101 badge (at the bottom of this post) so your readers can find all of the other posts in the meme.
Now there's no way my post is going to be half as funny as Charlotte's so instead, I've decided to base my Room 101 around horror films; hence the cunning title of this post!

In no particular order, here are my three:

Turn the lights on! Okay, this isn't exclusive to horror films but it drives me up the wall. If you're going to look around someone's house because you can't get in touch with them and/or think they've been killed, turn the bloody lights on! There's NO NEED for you to stumble around in the dark, trying to make sense of the shadows and guessing about the source of any strange noises. Seriously, it will be much easier to find out what's going on (and spot if there's anyone hiding behind a door/under the bed/in a wardrobe) if you just TURN THE LIGHTS ON!! 

Don't split up! If you and your friends are being picked off one by one by a madman, why oh why would you even consider splitting up at any point? It won't be quicker to find your missing friend/put the lights back on/obtain weapons or help if you take a task each and split up to do it, you'll just be DEAD!

If the lights unexpectedly go out, don't investigate to find out why! This applies even more when your torch is on the blink and/or you're wearing  unsuitable footwear. I refer you back to point 2 above; you know that you and your friends are being picked off by a psycho so why would you even contemplate going to find out why your house/office/other building was suddenly plunged into darkness? The rule of thumb in this situation is ALWAYS run away fast!

To carry on this meme, I am tagging Liz at Margot & Barbara, Avon (who incidentally wrote this fabulous guest post for me) and Mummy Plum. In fact, I'm going to break the rules and tag my sister Laura at Chez Mummy as well because I think she'll enjoy joining in with this.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Feature Friday: The quiet, everyday successes

Hi everyone! This is the last in my Feature Friday series of guestposts and whilst on one hand I feel quite sad that I won't have anymore to share with you, on the other, I really couldn't ask for a better post with which to bring this series to close. 

Tonight's post is courtesy of Avon, who blogs at Spider's Filthy Assistant. Out of all the guestposts, it's the one that's resonated with me the most; probably because if, when the idea for this series first came to me, you had asked me about the women that personally inspire me, I would have named Sarah Michelle Gellar and Milla Jovovich. However, as the series has progressed, what I've realised, and feel very strongly about, is that inspirational women are all around us. And that includes me and you. 

You probably have no idea of the impact you have on the lives of those around you but you do, so don't be afraid to embrace who you are. Be true to yourself and live your life with integrity.

Now over to Avon ...

When I first offered/asked to write this guest post I thought it would be so easy to think of some strong, fabulous, notable women who like totally inspire me, but that wasn't actually the case.

If you'd asked me about ten years ago I'd probably have said Frida Kahlo and Vivienne Westwood. Kahlo spent her life in considerable physical and emotional pain (thanks to a serious bus accident and a seriously messy love life) but produced such beautiful, powerful work and was so sure in her self. So confident. One of my mum's friends gave me her biography when I was about 16 and I devoured it. Vivienne Westwood was just so damn cool, you know. So creative and, again, so self-assured.

But I'm aware now that I wanted to be these women, not be like them. It was aspirational not inspirational. And it generally still is when I admire or envy someone in the public eye.

One of my favourite Grand Designs episodes is the one where the young interior designer builds a gorgeous Scandi style house in Cornwall. But it actually makes me feel worse about my life because what have I done? She's got a boyfriend who loves her and she's super talented and successful and then she builds this house that I would love to live in and does it under budget. No one is ever under budget on Grand Designs! In comparison, what have I done? Nothing much.

The women who truly inspire me are the women I know. My Mum who brought up two kids on her own. My aunt who has travelled extensively and who still works all over the world. My Grandma who was a city councillor in her retirement and only stopped last year, at the age of 85, because her body rebelled. My friend who is completely winning in her fight against agoraphobia and for whom every trip out of the house is a victory. Every single one of my peers who works a couple of shitty jobs to simply survive in this cruel economic climate.

It's so easy to get caught in hero worship and a little bit of lifestyle envy. Sure, Caitlin Moran is great and Lauren Laverne seems to have a perfect life and Angelina Jolie is powerfully self-assured. But the women you should truly be inspired by are the ones with the quiet, everyday successes. The woman who lives on your street in a shitty bedsit because she's finally had the courage to leave her abusive husband. The girl you see at the gym who works two jobs to pay for her degree. Your best friend who has sat through every single breakup you've had without complaint but always with wine. These are the women who should be inspiring you. Because, to me, the quiet, everyday successes are the truly inspirational ones.

"I'm Avon, I'm 27 and I live in glorious Edinburgh. I have a cat called Selina, too many books, black & white hair and a (probably unhealthy) obsession with post-it notes and the colour grey. I can normally be found tweeting a lot of nonsense at @avonwy".

Monday, 12 August 2013

How to make a swing for a child's cuddly toy

Just lately, I've found myself having to spontaneously make things for the boys and one that I impressed myself with, and thought I'd share with you, is a simple swing for a child's cuddly toy.

Each of my boys has a special toy, which they take pretty much everywhere with them and they loved being able to pretend play that their toys were going to the park and having fun on the swings!

Here are the basic supplies that you'll need:

* A cardboard cereal box; the bigger the toy the bigger the box!
* Some wool
* Scissors

Here's how you make it:

1. Cut about 2/3rds off the front of your cereal box
2. Cut two evenly spaced holes in the remaining 1/3rd of the front of your cereal box; your cuddly toy's legs will poke through these.
3. Sit the cuddly toy in the cereal box. If there is a lot of space between the top of the cuddly toy and the top of the cereal box, cut some of this away.
4. Use your scissors to pierce 4 holes in the cereal box - one on the left, one on the right and one in each corner of the back of the box.
5. Take your wool and cut two long pieces. Thread each end of each piece of wool through one of the holes, tying a knot in it so that it doesn't come free. To make it more secure, you can always put a bit of sellotape over each end.
6.  Gather the wool in the middle and hook it over something so that the swing has room to swing. I made sure that the pieces of wool I used were quite long so that when I gathered the wool in the middle and pegged our swing to the washing line, it hung low enough that my eldest could reach to push it.

Although we didn't spend any time decorating our swing, there's no reason why you couldn't get the paint out, cover it in glitter or stickers, or anything else that takes your child's fancy. This activity really can be as quick or as focused as the situation demands.

If you do make your own swing and you post any photos, let me know in the comments so I can come take a look!

Have fun!

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