... because life's too short to do anything ALL the time . Creativity and positivity are my "hiraeth"

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Fairtrade Fortnight Continued

So I'm doing another good deed today. I'm good like that. I'm looking after my Step Mother's shop because she's been over doing it, as usual, after her operation and has made herself ill. You just can't tell some people!

I have between customer time to pass, so I brought a load of stuff with me that I've been trying to get done over the last week or so. I picked up some literature at the Fairtrade Fortnight festival I attended at Chapter Arts on Friday, and I picked some up from the Cardiff Fairtrade shop "Fair Dos". I pride myself on being decently "in the know" about Fairtrade/organic/ethical stuff, but, reading through some of the Fairtrade paperwork, I realised that I had not really much of an idea about what the mark really means.

For instance, did you know that Wales has the first Fair Trade capital? Nope, neither did I!"Cardiff became the world's first Fairtrade Capital in March 2004, an award certified by the Fairtrade Foundation".

There are 107 cafes, restaurants and bars in Cardiff that serve Fairtrade items, and 29 establishments that sell Fairtrade stock, not including supermarkets. That's impressive.

"The organisation Fair Trade Cardiff www.cardiff.gov.uk/sustainabledevelopment is the partnership that worked towards this achievement (Fairtrade capital) and members include Cardiff Council, Cardiff Fair Trade Forum, Cafod, Christian Aid, Fair-Do's, Oxfam Cymru, People and Planet, The Co-operative Group and concerned individuals".

Then from the Little Book of Swap put out by Fairtrade Fortnight 2010 - The Big Swap http://www.thebigswap.org.uk/ ; came this information.

The first thing I read that I particularly like is this: "campaigning for a fairer world isn't just about placard waving and petition signing. It's also about using our wallets and purses to make a stand. Exciting isn't it? Knowing that each and every one of us has the power to change the world. Starting with just one swap."

"When you see the Fairtrade mark it means that:
  • A minimum price has been paid to Fairtrade producers
  • The Fairtrade Premium, an extra investment in developing communities and businesses has also been paid
  • Producers always have a democratic say in decision-making - and that's all producers, women included
  • Farm workers also get rights under Fairtrade like decent wages and being allowed to join unions
  • The "Dirty Dozen" of chemicals are forbidden on certified Fairtrade farms protecting humans and the environment"

Now I don't know about you but I've always been kind of torn between buying organic and Fairtrade products. It's not always that you can get something that is both. But knowing that these 12 chemicals have not been used may just tip the balance.

"On top of the agreed Fairtrade price producers also recieve the Fairtrade Premium. How it's spent is voted on democratically by farmers or workers. This is development as decided by the people who will benefit from it".

We can also make our towns and villages "Fairtrade Towns" by visiting http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/get_involved/default.aspx. Up for that, anyone?

Bruce Crowther MBE was the first to convert his home town, Garstang, Lancashire, to a Fairtrade Town. Bruce says "Every time you buy a Fairtrade product you're not only helping 7 million farmers and their families, you're also sending the signal that you don't agree with the current system".

The powerful manifesto on the back of this little book of wonders reads this:

"Two billion people - a third of humanity - still survives on less than $2 a day. While unfair trade rules keep them in poverty, they face the global challenges of food shortages and climate change too. Conventional trade doesn't have them in mind. It can't guarantee them a decent price. And it won't provide them with a good honest living either. All of us can change this. Together. We can all make a difference. Every time we go shopping. JUST ONE LITTLE SWAP AT A TIME".

Friday, 19 February 2010

Value Added

Value. What is it?

relative worth, merit, or importance: the value of a college education; the value of a queen in chess.
monetary or material worth, as in commerce or trade: This piece of land has greatly increased in value.
the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium ofexchange.
equivalent worth or return in money, material, services, etc.:to give value for value received.
estimated or assigned worth; valuation: a painting with a current value of $500,000.

A perceived worth, is what it is.

So how come things have a higher perceived value when they're in a shop?

What am I talking about? The value of articles is higher when they are still in the shop, the second you take them out of the door, they loose monetary value. We all new about the new car syndrome, how many hundreds of pounds does it cost you to drive off the forecourt?

On selling a bracelet I had years ago, the Mumatron took it into a leading gold retailer for valuation, looking at selling it for me. The Jeweler gave her an example of how the price of gold works, and it has stayed with me because it actually applies to everything.

If you spent £1000 in the most reputable Jewelers in town, walked out of their shop and immediately into the most reputable second hand goldsmith in town, he'd only be able to give you £300 for it. The value is diminished upon leaving the store from which it was purchased.

Think of buying something on ebay. Even if it's boxed and never been opened, it's value is only as good as someone is prepared to pay, approximately 25% less immediately, however, if you return it to the shop, it becomes worth it's full value again! It's insane!

So next time you're tempted by that massively over priced article of must-have shineyness, think to yourself "If I was to put this unused article on ebay today, how much would I get for it?" or "how much money am I prepared to part with just to take the article out of the shop?"

Cleaner Close

I did my good deed for the day this morning. I needed to go to the Post Office today and I'm ashamed to say that I would normally drive.

As I could really do with a bit of "Body Magic" and as part of my promise to try to drive 5 miles less a week, I decided to walk up there, choosing to flatly ignore the inch or so of snow that would normally put me off.

As I walked up the little slope to the local shops I saw that some little..."young person" had smashed up a video cassette and strewn the tape everywhere. As I passed by I noticed just how much one little thing can contribute to the look of the area and the overall impression. As I walked into the Post Office, I was thinking to myself "someone should do something about that".

So on the way back, I stopped and picked up the tape. I unravelled it from the trees, wound up the metres of it that was strewn around the place and picked up the big pieces of plastic, and as I was bending down to pick them up a lady stopped to help. I've seen her and talked to her once or twice, but I don't KNOW her. We exchanged pleasantries over the litter and she told me about how she goes around picking up the litter in her street. She asked if I would like her to put the tape in the bin for me as she was going that way, and she actually THANKED ME for picking up the litter! She thanked me! What a world it would be if we could all stop and do something that isn't our responsibility for the greater good.

Fair Enough

I found a wonderful place to shop today. I went down to Chapter Arts Centre with the Mumatron to take part in the launch day of Fairtrade Fortnight. We weren't lucky enough to catch most of the vendors/displayers as things, er, shall we say, didn't take off as soon as we would have liked.

While waiting for the show to start, we went for some gorgeous vegan mushroom soup and organic farmhouse bread in the cafe there and enjoyed the space. It's rare to see such a mix of Mums with babies, families with kids, city suit wearers, studens, vagrants, hippies and poseurs all cohabiting so comfortably in such delightful surroundings.

The centre gift shop is an absolute pleasure. Beautifully hand crafted wares of all descriptions, gorgeous books printed locally and by Welsh authors. My very favorite article was something I really should have, I have the right to have but simply can't purchase this year was a cotton tote style shopping back that had stolen it's design and font from the "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters of the 1940's but instead, it said "Quick! Buy More $hit or we'll all fecking die"! You see what I mean?! I simply must have it, but can't buy it! I'll add it to my wish list!

So after a lovely lunch and wander around the centre, we walked down to the greengrocer in Canton and called into a shop I've been meaning to stop into for ages called Fair Dos.

Everything they sell is Fairtrade friendly and, I must be honest, I could have spent a fortune in there. Beautiful fabrics, knits, recycled papers, and food stuffs. I picked up a gift for a friend who has recently given birth to a baby girl. I'm afraid I just haven't had time to make her something and I really don't know what sort of thing she likes for the little one, so I picked up a handmade, recycled, fairly traded photo album embellished with a gorgeous newborn baby logo and origami pram. It's well pretty, very useful and something to keep forever so I'm quite pleased with that.

I also found a shop with a branch close to my home that stocks all the environmentally friendly products and I had no idea it was there. It's on the high street, employs local people, stocks anything I could wish for in the organic/green produce, so I ordered my double pack of salt toothpaste, and off I went, happy as Larry!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

My Peacock Suit

As one life ends, another begins.

I have a gorgeous favourite mug. It's a beautiful fine bone china nearly-a-pint pot, beautifully decorated with pink Peonies...kind of ironic, really. Sadly, after the days adventures, I poured myself a lovely coffee and most of it poured out of the crack in the bottom. Gutted. So, a life ends. Well, not ends actually as I have a million uses for it now I can't use it for the purpose for which it was intended.

And another life begins, say hello to my new friend, the Peacock. Three hours of love and attention has been poured in today by the master craftswoman Liz, and that's just the outline. I can't wait to get him finished.

I got some questions about how I could possibly consider this creation with my ongoing year-long adventure but I very much can tie in with my consumerism-busting year. Apart from the fact that once it's done I'll never have to buy clothes again because I won't be wearing them, AND the fact that I've saved a few pounds in the process so far, but, my artwork is symbolic of the personal journey I'm on. It's nothing to do with fashion, nothing to do with anyone at all actually, but simply a carefully considered (17 years, I've been waiting for this) decision to delete something dreadful (my old tattoo) and replace it with something deliberate and mindfully decided on. No big international corporation has had any influence on my decision (I'm not a watcher of Miami Ink or anything, although I have seen it) and I'm thoroughly pleased with my decision.

I'd like to say that the pink Peonies that are being put on last are nothing to do with a lasting memory of my old favourite cup, but it's sooooo pretty!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Jam and Jerusalem

Seriously, I know people are surprised at best and laugh at worst when they discover that I'm W.I.

I know it's unusual for someone my age, but it really isn't all jam and Jerusalem. (Although I'm really hoping to learn how to make jam!)

I pride myself on being open minded, strong, and tolerant with interests in many areas, and being in the W.I. helps me to pursue those interests and values. I am the youngest by a few years, shall we say, but only in body. My W.I. friends are really fun, interesting ladies with really valid and interesting opinions and I don't see why expanding your social circle to include a different (sometimes several different) age group should be a bad thing?

We're always told that age is just a number, so why are people so un-nerved by an organisation like the W.I.? Yes, there are some formalities, and they're certainly not my favourite bits, but you have to put up with some things you're not keen on. You can't have your cake AND eat it.

Yes there are a few "hardcore" W.I. members who would rather keep it in the dark ages, but you're always going to get them everywhere. And they do get a little narky as they get older! But inter-generational conversation is rarely a bad thing, things change, develop and move on, but we still need the skills that our previous generations honed. What better place to learn them than W.I. and have a really good laugh while you're doing it!

My friends are so supportive of everything that I do. It's a genuinely respectful friendship, with benefits like discounts for being part of the organisation. I wouldn't be without my ladies for a minute, and have forged some genuine and unlikely friendships, like my old Home Economics teacher.

And best of all, it gives you some lovely excuses to dress up!

You've Got Mail!

Well I do feel very privileged today. I got a gorgeous Interflora delivery courtesy of Kane (the K!tour ticket looser) and his Mam.

A beautiful arrangement and I'm thrilled with it. I love the fact that it has virtually no packaging also but comes in a gorgeous vase, that I will keep and cherish for years to come. How lovely. I feel very special!

Of course, in true blogging spirit, I won't just be enjoying the flowers, I'm going to photograph them beautifully and use them for the next round of home made greetings cards. Stand by, family and friends!

I really am a little lacking in the motivation department at the moment and I don't know why. I need to get "back in my bucket" as my Yoga teacher used to say. I seem to be a little preoccupied, but with what I'm not sure.

So we had our delivery today from the salvage yard so work is about to commence on our steps. I hear, though, that we are due for a shed load of snow, so I may not be able to get as much done as I would like.

And I had to pop to our local (ish) health food shop, I rejected the major high street health food shop and went to a little independent - I really recommend it, it's like a treasure trove. I've recently been diagnosed with acne for the first time in my life (I'm 33!) and have very recently had a massive and painful break out. A very good friend years ago gave me the Dr Gillian McKeith "you are what you eat" book and I recalled a chapter which indicates that break-outs in certain areas are indicative of underlying problems, so I got the book out.

The book recommends that for spots in the mouth area, Agnus Castus be taken. It says that Agnus Castus helps to regulate the reproductive area, but , to be honest, I'm only really interested in getting rid of the spots! When I went into the store (I'm told that tincture is better than pills) the very knowledgeable lady assistant told me that it has the single most powerful hormone regulatory properties. And the break outs do indicate an imbalance. How very interesting to see if this fairly gross smelling taken in water sorts me out. I might put the diagnoses for the other areas on here too - might help some of you lovely peeps?

So I picked up copies of a couple of magazines while I'm there, and, even though I have previously picked up and read through the gorgeous Aura magazine, this time, I cannot help but be overwhelmed by the size of the alternative community in Wales. With the help of some friends yesterday I came across the Chapter Arts Centre "Fairtrade Fortnight" commencing Friday. I'm only available on Friday, this weekend, unfortunately, so I don't know what I'm going to catch, but I'm going to go down for a look. One of the administrators of the Facebook page very kindly put a link to my blog on their Facebook page too! How lovely! THANK YOU!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

And it ain't just Spaniels!!!

How to Spin Cat Hair | eHow.com

I KNOW you're going to laugh at this one!

How to Spin Yarn From Dog Hair | eHow.com

My Spaniel (no, that's not a euphemism!) is incredibly furry.

Yes, I'm giggling while I write this.

People, for years, have commented that you could make a lovely jumper out of his fur, so, he went to the hair dressers this morning and has come back nearly naked. My, he looks sexy! The lovely ladies at Poppy's Place humour me, and, despite thinking I'd finally lost it, did actually keep his fluff for me!

Apparently now I have to "card" it. I might have ruined this first lot, though, washing it. It's gone like a big ball of felt!

Anyone else got a dog with fluff rather than hair? You know, the undercoat stuff. I knew I should have kept that Malamut...

Monday, 15 February 2010

Monday Afternoon Baking

Rain stopped play on the mountain today after 4/5 hours. This photo was taken before today's work, but I don't think you'd be able to see what I did really anyway because of the way the land lies. I must take some pictures from the bottom so you can see how steep it is - you really can't tell from this!

Two bonfires and tonnes more raking and clearing have left us a bit more knackered than we were yesterday, so the rain wasn't that much of a nause. It's the gradient that's the killer.

We've now spent some money on it. We bought fencing, not enough for all of it, but enough to keep the kids out. There's so many sheer drops, glass and rubble at the moment that it's really quite dangerous for adults, and you know what kids are like. We couldn't not buy it, we'd be leaving ourselves wide open. We just hope that when the time comes that they can tip my lovely topsoil over the top of the fence. Of course, we didn't buy it from B&Q, we bought it from a local farm shop and, luckily, it was a hell of a lot cheaper there too.

I've now officially become a gardener. I've found myself going through my wardrobe looking for clothing that doesn't look too shameful but doesn't matter if it gets wrecked. I just can't wait to get the steps in to the top half - take a lot of the "bum work" out of it! This is a life changing development, this hillside. It's going to require a lot of my time and attention. But don't you worry - I'll still find time to go wittering on on here!

So, rain stopped play after lunch, so what else to do but bake cakes? 5 batches of biscuits and a banana cake (my famous banana cake! recipe on request). My biscuits turned out with varying successes, one recipe in several variations, but I'm not overly enamored by the recipe, so I'll find a new one. Anyone got a good one? Still, got some supplies for Wednesday. Would have had more but we had to try them (",)!

The Clothes Swap Party is This Week!

It's not too late to join us at the big clothes swap party. It''s free (although I will be running a collection for Ty Hafan children's hospice http://www.tyhafan.org/ ), on a boring February Wednesday night, and you could go away with some lovely new stuff!

Just to put your minds at rest, there SHOULD be stuff of all sizes for people to swap, obviously the more people that come, the more choice we all have! All the donations are to be put into size sections, and the swap can commence from there!

The event will take place in Griffithstown, Pontypool, 1900 to 2100 ish, if you would like to know the address, please message me or ring/text me on 07730531400.

And finally, just to confirm, it will be clothes, shoes, jewelery, books, accessories, anything really that you don't want but someone else might! Also, if you don't have anything to get rid of, you can bring someone else's stuff to swap!

Hope to see you then!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

"Morning Jerry!" "Morning Tom!" "Morning Margot!" "Morning Barbara!"

I ache from head to toe. The Husband and I have spent 2 days clearing our land.

Anyone who has seen the land we're lucky enough to get with our house will know that this is no mean feat.

The Husband borrowed a Brash Cutter from college and we've worked our butts off clearing. We had a lovely bonfire yesterday with a load of the brash, and there are going to be a lot more of those to come.

The top part was fairly straight forward, raking up the brash, but the next tier down was horrendous. The waste we've had to clear through has been incredible.

2 mattresses, a gate, a kids sit on fire engine thing, a washing basket, bags and bags of clothes, buried in the earth, more shoes than you can imagine, several carpets, old tyres, scrap metal up the ying-yang and more broken glass than I could ever imagine. There was even a crochet blanket there. I was really annoyed about that.

Someone, probably out of the goodness of their heart, has sat with a hook and yarn for hours and hours making that blanket, for someone to chuck it onto "waste ground". Trust me, if I could have rescued it and given it a new lease of life, I would have, but it's beyond repair. But the sheer wastefulness I've had to deal with is just incredible. I now have to physically shift it all the way down the hill, calling in on every bonfire we have every 100 yards or so.

Exactly what do people who dump stuff like that think is going to happen to it? It doesn't just just disintegrate. But I guess that's just it, isn't it, they don't think. I've found some lovely bits down there so far that I can reuse and turn into something once again loved. I've found lots of little old jars and glass bottles that must be years old, they'll be scrubbed and used for something, probably decorative.

Because that's what this labour of love is all about really, I guess. Turning something that we already own but has been ignored and neglected for decades into something useful, loved and purposeful.

I really am going to have the best garden in the world. An orchard, bee hives, an ornamental area, and a tiered vegetable garden. I wonder if I could squeeze a pond in there? I'd have everything I've ever wanted then. As of now, we've only spent money on the fuel for the Brash Cutter. All the unearthed bricks, rock and rubble is being re-used creating the tiers.

And my "Indoor Propagation Centre" (kitchen window sill) seems to be getting excited at the prospect of being transplanted into my newly created vegetable patch. "The Good Life" here we come!

To a Very Special Friend

Friends are here for the long term. 30 years plus.

To my very special friend who has no idea how special she is, and who has made my night despite probably thinking that she's ruined everyone's.

Friends will never ask or demand you prove yourself to them. If you feel you have to then you may well be proving yourself to yourself.

Never be fooled by glossy exteriors. People you think have it all are simply lacking in areas they never permit you to see. In the grand scheme of things, no one has done things "the right way" because it doesn't exist.

Everyone has made bad decisions.

Everyone has been taken advantage of/walked over and if they've got away with only that then they're very lucky.

There isn't a competition running for successfulness. It is all relative. What I, you and they perceive to be "successful" today will be different to tomorrow, different to 5 years ago and in different in 3 weeks time. Lives change, alter their focus and shift constantly - it's an ever moving flow, just like friendship.

Friends love each other BECAUSE of their bad points/inabilities/areas of lacking not DESPITE them. Our tender spots make up who we are.

It's absolutely fine to be nervous. Nerves are good and healthy. I have a really good understanding of this now, and a story for another time. It's very easy to be drawn into over compensating, but that's neither helpful or necessary.

Purely and simply, you're a wonderful person, warts and all. You are enough. You're funny, clever, kind, vulnerable and gentle. You're loved by many, just as you are. You've nothing to prove to anyone, especially not yourself.

And finally, it's not about making mistakes, it's about what you do with the ones you do make.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Bounce, Bounce, Bounce, Bounce, Bounce

Well, thanks again to the Mumatron for coming up with another blinder. I shall be nipping into my local shop for a couple of boxes as this stuff seems to be even more useful than Vodka! Unless of course you want it in a glass with coke and ice, then, I think, the Vodka is the way forward.

So get a load of this magic stuff:

22 uses for Bounce, yes, the stuff you put in tumble driers:

  1. It chases away ants when you lay a sheet near by.
  2. Spread sheets around foundation areas in caravans and cars that are to be unused for a while. The Bounce repels mice.
  3. It takes the odour off books and albums that don't get opened too often, put a sheet in the leaves.
  4. Tie a sheet of bounce through you belt when out doors in Midge and Mosquito season - the bounce repels them, also Bees and Wasps too.
  5. Eliminate static from your TV/PC screens. It also stops dust from resettling.
  6. Dissolve soap scum from shower doors; clean with a sheet of bounce.
  7. Freshen drawers, boxes and wardrobes with a sheet.
  8. Put a sheet in the vacuum cleaner to banish nasty niffs.
  9. Prevent thread from tangling; run a threaded needle through a sheet of Bounce before sewing.
  10. Prevent musty suitcases, chuck a sheet in before storing.
  11. To freshen the air in your car, shove a sheet in the foot well under the seat.
  12. Clean baked on foods from a cooking pan; put a sheet in the pan, fill with water and let it sit overnight. Apparently the anti-static agent weakens the bond between the food and the dish.
  13. Collect cat hair (maybe Dog too?) but dusting with a Bounce sheet (I don't know about you but I might just give the Dogs a wipe over with one as their always giving me static shocks).
  14. Eliminate static electricity from venetian blinds by wiping them with Bounce. Again, also, stops dust resettling.
  15. Using a sheet to wipe up dust after drilling, will clean it up like a tack cloth.
  16. Eliminate laundry hamper/waste basket odours by putting a sheet in the bottom
  17. Deodorize shoes and trainers by putting a sheet in overnight.
  18. Pack a sheet into your sleeping bags before storage and it keeps them smelling fresh.
  19. Hose down your car windscreen and use a damp Bounce sheet to remove bugs easily.

Crafty as ...

So I't's been decided. The long awaited "make do and mend" craft group will be up and running as of Tuesday 2nd March 2010.

09.30-12.00, every Tuesday at Swffryd Community Centre is where it's at. If you'd like to join us you'll be VERY welcome, if you have any craft supplies you'd like to donate to us, or you know someone else who does, please get in contact - I'm quite happy to collect but as yet we have no money to purchase materials. Do you know anyone who can get us in touch with factories that may donate off cuts of fabric/foam anything really? Please ask about for us.

We'll be working towards the stocking of the craft stall at the Swffryd Community Centre Fundraising Fun Day, also getting involved with the making of the costumes for the Centre Pantomime, rehearsals etc starting in March also.

We'll also be recruiting some voluntary speakers to come give us demonstrations of different things, so if you know an expert in something ...

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

I'm glad I don't drink the stuff if it does all this!

Thanks to the Mumatron, I have some excellent tips for you. I'd love to stop and chat, but I'm just popping down the Off Licence...

14 Uses for Vodka

Now this, some will say is a travesty. Vodka is to be drunk and enjoyed. Others (like me) will say that they're glad they don't drink the stuff. If it does all this, what on earth is it doing to the stomach?! Take your pick, but you may save yourself a couple of quid on a product or learn how the big V can be even more indispensable around the house!

1 - To remove a bandage painlessly; saturate the dressing with Vodka. It dissolves adhesive.

2 - Clean the caulking around the bathtub; fill a trigger-spray bottle with Vodka, spray the caulking, let set 5 minutes then wash clean. It kills mold and mildew.

3 - Clean your specs; wipe with a cloth moistened in Vodka. Cleans glass to a shine and kills germs. Use on household glass too.

4 - Prolong the life of razors by filling a cup with Vodka and letting your safety razor blade
soak in the alcohol after shaving. The Vodka disinfects the blade and prevents rusting.

5 - Spray Vodka on wine stains; scrub with a nail/scrubbing brush and then blot dry.

6 - Using a cotton wool ball, apply as an astringent to your skin. It cleanses and tightens pores.

7 - Add a shot of Vodka to a bottle of shampoo; The alcohol cleanses the scalp,removes toxins from hair, and stimulates the growth of healthy hair.

8 - Fill a trigger-spray bottle with Vodka; and spray Bees or Wasps to kill them. Bearing in mind that if you kill a Bee in any way you will burn in hell for eternity, but crack on with the Wasps.

9 - Pour one-half cup vodka and one-half cup water into a Ziploc freezer bag; and freeze for a slushy, refreshing ice pack for aches, pain or black eyes.

10 - Fill a clean, used mayonnaise jar with freshly packed Lavender flowers, fill the jar with vodka, seal the lid tightly and set in the sun for three days. Strain liquid through a coffee filter,
then apply the tincture to aches and pains.

11 - To cure foot odour; wash your feet with Vodka.

12 - Vodka will disinfect and alleviate Jelly Fish stings and Poison Ivy.

13 - Swish a shot of Vodka over an aching tooth; Allow your gums to absorb some of the alcohol to numb the pain. And I don't suppose swallowing the rest would do you any harm if you're in agony - just don't drive afterwards!

14 - In really low temperatures, top up your windscreen washer bottle with Vodka and there's no way your bottle, or it's contents will freeze.

Well I think we've all learned something new today, haven't we?! I'm going to give several of these a go very soon indeed and I will report back.

Teenagers Scare the ...


I'd just like to say, for no real reason, that I love teenagers. They are amazing. So many people are so happy to shout down our "young people", but I love them. I know I'm lucky with Meg's friends, but the teenage development years are the most important and informative of a person's life. As teenagers we experiment, learn about ourselves and our world, things we have control over and things we wish we did. It's stressful and the foundations upon which our adult lives are built.

As adults, we like to belittle our teenagers, with comments such as "teenagers think they know it all" but isn't that the case throughout our whole lives? We can rarely imagine knowing more than we already do, and when we think back to 5 years ago, we thought we knew everything, regardless of our age. We constantly think we now it all and for some reason are surprised when it transpires that we don't."If only I'd known then what I know now" should really be "If only I'd know then what I'll know when I shuffle off my mortal coil".

Teenagers are amazing. But I hated being one myself, so I need to tap into your fountainous head knowledge for my book. I am SO LOVING what I've already had from you all; we are such richly decorated individuals. What pseudo-name would you like me to use for your acknowledgements? Does anyone know anything about getting published?

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Assistance Needed for My New Project, Please!

I've always wanted to write a book. Now appears to be the time, but Ladies, I need your help.

This is the brief:

I'm going to put together a book entitled something along the lines of "Survival Guide for Young Ladies". Remember when you were a teenager? Did you love it or hate it? I know I hated it, but whether you loved it or hated it, if you could time travel back to your old self, what would you impress upon them?

What bit of information do you think most young Ladies could most benefit from? What would you teach your self to do or not do? What do you think are important things for our young ladies to learn or be able to do? What advice would you give them? No matter how trivial or superficial or complex and insightful - I want to hear it all!

Feel free to comment below, but I'd prefer an email to bethanbrunell@gmail.com or a Facebook message. Really looking forward to your input Ladies and seeing as I generally achieve what I set out to, I will, of course, credit your input in the book!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Whensa Your Dolmio Day?

Today I have been mostly making homemade Italian tomato sauce. The "young people" scoffed the last batch the other week after the Blackout!, so I ordered a crate of tomatoes from the food co-op last week and after school today Meg and I embarked upon a marathon sauce making session and the results are marvelous, if we do say so ourselves.

There has been much thriftiness, creativeness and gardening-ness since I've been away.

Ms. Brooks cordially invited my good self and a couple of mutual friends around for a lentil-fest on Friday night. I'd not been out for a while so was rather looking forward to some tasty home cooking and good company, I just needed something new to wear.

(Cue a pair of Steve's old jeans and a big gorgeous wrap my Nana gave me)

I un-stitched the inside legs of the jeans, shortened, and made a lovely grey denim skirt. Then I stitched the end of the wrap to the side at the other end and made a gorgeous grey fluffy knitted poncho that everyone admired. It's incredibly warm too and a great use of the wrap as it was a bit big to be a scarf, and I don't really use wraps, so now, it's a lovely jumper type thing. Hey presto, a whole new outfit for nowt.

Thanks to Ms. Fleming, the growing is going good too. I've now potted up my apple seeds that are growing beautifully and the leeks, onions and tomatoes are all sprouting. I've gratefully accepted the gift of a whole load of gardening stuff, along with enough jars to make my Syn free sauce. I've had to transfer them to another window sill too as I ran out of space on the other one.

So the "Mumatron" has promised me two lovely emails of hints and tips in keeping with my frugality/anti-consumerism. One of them is about different uses for Bounce tumble drier sheets. I'm looking forward to that one, I must be honest.

The crochet is coming along beautifully and I've found some lovely inspirational thought for the day type words that fit in nicely with the theme of the blog. Stand by for inspiration.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Preparation and Planning Continues

There's a recurring theme in all this. Effort. Effort and me don't necessarily go hand in hand, but, they're having to a bit more these days and I don't think that's any bad thing.

Resisting the lure of "new stuff" doesn't necessarily have to be detrimental, but it does take a bit more thought, planning and ingenuity to not feel like you're missing out.

I must be honest, I'm enjoying the fact that some of my favourite clothes are getting a proper look in, wear wise. It's nice to wear nice things and it's a really nice feeling knowing that you're using things to their full capacity and enjoying them. I've got to start planning now, though for the first of the two events of the year - the two festivals. What do you mean which two? THERE ARE ONLY TWO! - Download and Sonisphere.

Being slightly older than the average Downloader means that I pay considerably more attention to comfort than "the youngsters". Comfort wearing, comfort walking, comfort in varying weather conditions and comfort carrying around all day. Of course, however, the aesthetics are rather important too at this showcase for rock'n'roll people.

The fact that I've lost the weight (thanks for my Slimming World Magazine Kath!) does make things a little easier. Last year I was more than a little uncomfortable in my gear. This shouldn't be the case this year. Footwear is going to require some planning though, I don't want blisters like last year, and getting the comfort and look right with what I already have is going to require some ingenuity, preparation and planning. And some crochet. There's going to be some crochet involved.

Anyway, thanks to a spot of insomnia I made good progress last night on the cardi I started over Christmas. It's looking really nice and I'm enjoying every stitch. I look forward to wearing it for the first time, even though it's a way off yet.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Exciting News Afoot

Had an email today from a BIG national magazine. It is proposed that an article be discussed for the July issue as the June one has already been put together. That would be great if it came off. Not done anything with a magazine yet.

So I'd better start writing something decent.

I put in an order from an eco-product site the other day so I'm eagerly awaiting it's arrival. I ordered biodegradable poo bags (we use A LOT having 3 gorgeous hounds so I thought it was about time I did my bit on the plastic front), borax and a big box of bicarbonate of soda, so I never need to fall for the marketing propaganda of flash/cillit bang/jif for my house and caravan cleaning needs, and some environmentally friendly disinfectant for the same reason as the poo bags. Only I could get excited about that.

I paid less than £4 for the boxes of borax and bicarb, which, by my reckoning, will clean everything in the house (except glass - for that I have white vinegar) for at least 6 months. That can't be bad. And I doubt you can buy a product that's as good as borax in the supermarket.

I did indulge on one product I bought, sort of. Due to a period of severe messing about with the colour of my hair last year, I have to fairly regularly put a colour on to even it out. I've really gone past the time that I should've done it, but I was deciding what to do. What I decided seems appropriate an a few levels, which, to me, proves that resisting the lure of the shiny packaging and celebrity endorsement can be beneficial all round.

I bought a henna colour. It's organic, fairly traded and completely natural. I have used them before many years ago so I know they work. It genuinely works with the colour you already have, it actually conditions and protects your hair, and now comes ready mixed instead of having to mix it yourself like you used to. I think it'll last longer than the chemical rubbish too.

So being mindful of the environment and consumerism does not have to mean being less glamorous!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Staycating is the New Rock 'n' Roll

I love London. It's fab. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea but I love a city break. The anonymity of wandering the streets crammed with gorgeous shops, the architecture, the museums and art galleries. I'd like to be able to do it more often, but it's so expensive to stay up there and then you've got the travelling. I wish we had a city with all that to offer and more just 40 minutes and £5 away on the Ebbw Vale Parkway train. Oh, hang on ...

We all have SOOO much on our doorstep that we don't utilise. Believe it or not, people who live in London go to Cardiff for a weekend away!

City breaks might not be your thing, but it really doesn't matter. There's so much to do and see out there, we just take it all for granted, unfortunately. We're very lucky here in Wales that a lot of our attractions have free entry, thanks to the WAG. I know for a fact, though that I haven't taken advantage of all that I should.

Husband's family all live in the North East and whenever we have a visit, we take them somewhere locally, and, I'm ashamed to admit, it's very often the first time I've ever been.

In this year of frugality and consumerism busting, I intend to get to know my local area quite a bit better. I'm going to visit the attractions, drink tea in the tea shop (help to boost their turnover - that's my excuse!) and tell you lot all about it. I'm going to loiter around the art galleries, investigate the museums and stroll around the visitor attractions. Staying home really is the new going out.

And hopefully that'll take my mind off the fact that I'm desperately craving a vintage fitted denim shirt ...