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

Sunday, 28 November 2010


Ethereal being forgive me. It's been over a week since my last blog.

But, in my defence, (all be it a poor one) I lost my computer lead and I don't feel comfortable blogging from a different computer.

I was quite organised last weekend and I wrote one in advance of going away so from the comfort of the passenger seat of the car, all I had to do was post it.

So, a week has passed, there is a new Mr and Mrs Brunell in the world (congratulations all round) and we had a lovely, if hectic time in the Dales. 3 hampers were delivered and 2 niece/nephew presents as well as the present for everyone's favourite Grandmother, Nana Maisey, who has been proudly showing off her copy of Prima to anyone and everyone. Of course Nana Maisey's anyone and everyone is a bit different to most peoples. As the wife of the Admiral of the (Merchant Navy) Fleet, she is incredibly well connected and my copy of Prima has gone to my spiritual home, Egglestone Hall. I'm thrilled by that prospect. I'm happier no where than there!

So, what have I been making? Good question. Well, I've been trying to finish Josie's blanket. I've finished the main body of it, I'm on the last ball of wool and doing the edging now so it'll be done very soon. My Nana bought a little crochet blanket in a charity shop the other week and I'd not seen the stitch formation before so I utilised the modern convenience of camera phones to be able to copy the pattern. I love technology!

I also have reduced my t0-do pile by 50%, I spent most of my day off on Friday taking in skirts and dresses. I now have a big pile of tops and trousers to get through and I'm hoping to do that in the next couple of days. Then, it's more Christmas tree decorations - I need to knock out another pile of those (I do like making them) and the next round of hampers.

We have our W.I. dinner next week and I really need to make something for the raffle. I wonder what I can do. I could give a cake, I suppose, I'll have to re count and see how many I have left. I have ear marked one of the squidgiest ones for an orange christmas pud a la Heston Blumenthal off of the Waitrose advert. Yum!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Oil Be Having a Lovely Time This Weekend

...it's the wedding of the year, you see. My hubby's twin and his gorgeous, brave, wonderful fiancee. I'm really rather looking forward to it. Got my new/old frock ready (I was given it several years ago but have been too fat to wear it for some time so it feels like a new frock) and my dancing shoes, so in a couple of hours, we'll be off!

I finished my oils for my hampers a day or so ago, and not a moment too soon. Yesterday morning I had a telephone call from my lovely friends at the South Wales Argus (or "the Brunell Times" as my friends call it!) wanting to do a piece about my home made Christmas. As usual I had an hour to make it look like I and my house ALWAYS looks this nice, which I just pulled off with the help of my hubby.

For a while I've kind of been feeling like I can't wait to give all the presents to get them out of the way, but now, especially when you see it all laid out and looking lovely, I'm quite fond of it all and will be sort of sad to see it go. A comment on one of my previous blogs has started me thinking about next year. What am I going to do for next Christmas?

Will I do the same thing, just develop it, perhaps spend but instead buy "experiences" (cinema tickes, Groupon deals, National Trust membership that sort of thing) or maybe buy the smallest presents I can find for everyone? My thinking behind that one is that we've all bought junk presents to "fill out"... but I'm not sure I can go back to shopping. It makes me feel a bit sick actually!

And, more exciting news - Prima want to print my recipes in the food pages of the magazine. Wicked! Woo hoo!

Thank Heavens For That!

I spent hours yesterday in my dressing gown (it was warm, I was tired and cold) making the Christmas tree decorations to go into the hampers to be delivered on the weekend. I though that seeing as I was doing some of them I might do ALL of them for the other ones not being delivered yet.

I made an executive decision yesterday as well. Our local wonderful Butcher sells local honey. Our semi-local vet's wife is a bee keeper, yoga teacher and general brilliant woman and there were a few jars available, so I decided to put a jar of it in certain hampers, not all because it's quite expensive. But our close family will get some of that too.

I also completed my flavoured oils, and then I packed up three of the hampers ready for delivery. I did enjoy that bit, I really did, I hope the recipients will enjoy them.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

National Buy Nothing Day

Get involved by abstaining!!!

Go on - I dare you!

Taste of Things To Come

I had a Christmas experience this morning. Where in rural South Wales might you find a jolly Santa, surrounded by elves, trudging through the deep and crisp and even fresh snow to feed Donna, Blitzen et al?

Sadly not THAT sort of Christmas experience. I had to go to our local town and went to one of these cheap sells-all-sorts-of cheap-stuff shops as I needed some drain cleaner and a mini bottle of brandy to feed my cakes. By the time I got out of there it was nearly upgraded to a large bottle.

There were multiple small children screaming in protest at not being able to have sparkly plastic tatt, I had to wait in a queue of six or eight people with trolleys full of "novelty items" and total junk, while the tills groaned with effort processing the card payments. A smelly old man repeatedly pushed his trolley into my back, legs anything he could find without so much as an apology or acknowledgement while I sweated under my winter coat, enduring the Christmas music and being mentally, audibly and physically assaulted in every direction.

I made a mental note to myself that from now up until "the big day" I should avoid town at peak times and at all if possible, then I remembered that it was 10.00 on a Tuesday morning. There really is no hope.

So before I reconstitute my stress headache from earlier, I will move on, knowing full well that you'll all know exactly what I'm on about.

The success of my blog and my "year of endurance" took me to another unusual place yesterday. I took a junior school assembly, courtesy of my good friend who happens to be a teacher. I don't mind telling you that I was more nervous going to do that than all the interviews, radio and filming put together! I was really nervous! But it went well. That's twice now I've been surrounded by children in three weeks - the epitome of out of my comfort zone! Those who know me know that I'll look after your Granny for a month, just don't ask me to mind the kids for half an hour. I don't do kids, but these, in fairness, were bloomin' lovely. I actually quite liked one of them. I think that's probably because he was ginger, though.

I wondered if the kids would think I was barking, they did. Result. But they seemed very receptive to the idea of a challenge and generally making stuff. Apparently my friend and the teacher spent the duration of her playground supervision being told what they were all making for "National Buy Nothing Day".

Well i for one look forward to seeing what they come up with! That's what we like - star 'em young!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Lest We Forget

"Praising what is lost makes the remembrance dear."
William Shakespeare

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

I've Come Out.

No really, I have.

It's odd and wonderful when you learn something totally unexpected and interesting about yourself by accident.

On the weekend, we met a friend of our newest friends for the first time. A fab individual with a typically Californian (so I'm told) attitude to life and typically Californian (same) friendliness. Now I don't want this to come across as creepy, writing a blog about someone I've only met recently and only twice ever, but he taught me something about myself.

You see, he's a night owl. A proper one. He doesn't like to "walk with the day people" if he can help it, he works and plays at night in his non conventional profession and he's totally unashamed about it.

And quite rightly so! Why on earth should he be apologetic about it? It's his choice.

So why is it that I've found it so difficult to realise that actually, I'm the same.

Since working a load of permanent night shifts, if I've ever had a conversation about that with you, you'll know that I love night shifts and hate day shifts. I only now work in the evening/night apart from four afternoons and two tiny morning shifts a month, and those two kill me. I hate mornings. Well strictly, that's not true. I LOVE mornings - when I haven't got to bed yet.

My friends know that after our extreme dinner parties that go on 'till the wee small hours, I stay up and clean up in the dead of night and I love it.

But I've resisted this declaration all my life. I've NEVER been any good at mornings, I'm always racing through the door two minutes past my start time, sleeping through my alarm, I honestly find getting up in the morning to be physically painful, but instead of embracing what I find natural, I've tried to force myself into conforming to other people's norms. Now that my teenager is in her last year of school and I have a lovely husband who is a morning person, I don't have to do a lot of it, but I still try to shoe-horn-and-vaseline myself into someone else's pidgeon hole.

My name's Bethan and I'm a NIGHT OWL. I feel liberated! (and don't ring me in the morning!)

Monday, 8 November 2010

Not for the Faint Hearted

No one ever said that living this life would be easy. At the moment I'm finding it all particularly difficult.

Having created SO much over the last few months, I'm at the moment feeling a bit sorry for myself and despite being permanently inspired to do, make and create, I just can't seem to get it together enough to actually do much of it.

Given my struggle, rather than creating a whole lot of mess and further things for me to do, I'm concentrating on finishing Josie's blanket. I have a ball and a half left to knock out and then it's done. I try very hard to enjoy the process of creating as much as the starting and finishing, but when you're working on a big job like this (each row takes 22 minutes at least), it's the "past half-way but not at the end yet" point that I'm struggling with, the same as my weight loss.

I think at this stage the hunger for the project and the task depletes and it's hardest to get on. I'm really happy with my weight loss so far, and I feel so much better, but I have still got rather a lot to go to achieve what I want and the health benefits that should bring. I guess, thinking about it, I'm at this same point in several ways, the final push is always the hardest.

On Saturday I had to go to Cardiff, much to my dismay. It was match day and it's always chaotic and it didn't disappoint. But it was unavoidable. We have a very important family wedding in two weeks time that we're all looking forward to and Meg needed a new dress. Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about clothes shopping, but, I've always said I wouldn't force my one and only pet teenager to live by my madness. As a result of her not being forced to, she chooses a lot of the time to spend in the same way I do (charity shops first) but she felt it important to have a new dress. So we had to look. And I hated it.

When I walk into a high street shop I can feel my senses being assaulted by the marketing people at every turn and I hate that it makes even me think "I really need that thing". And there were some things that I did want. Of course I didn't buy any of them, but I really wanted them. I can't even remember what they were now, but in that moment, your rational mind does not see that.

So, we picked a plain dress, plain shoes (which were needed anyway) and we have embarked on a treasure hunt to make a fascinator. Something unique, very attractive and hand made. And she's more excited about that than the dress. I think that's what one calls a success. Teenagers are always going to "need" new dresses, it's generally up to you to manage the relationship with those things.

Re-use, recycle, re-create! That's what it's all about.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Toffee Apple Delight!

I think it's safe to say that the toffee apple delivery to the local youth club went well!

After a last minute toffee apple drama, with the help of my lovely hubby (see front page of today's Argus!) got them all sorted.

Thanks to a few less kids turning up to youth club tonight, some of my neighbours kids benefited too!

I'm really sorry to the kiddies I didn't get in the picture, I tried my best. I think you'll agree that the helpers looked marvellous too?!

Now, I ask myself, would this feel this good if I'd just gone to the supermarket and bought 35 toffee apples? I don't think so. These people work REALLY hard to run this youth club and I for one could not do it. So today, I did MY bit MY WAY!