Posted in Living, Random Utterings

Change Is Good

New year, new me, etc, etc. Perhaps it’s slightly late to be saying that,  a full 17 days in to 2018, but the intention is good. I haven’t been a regular blogger for the past couple of years, and was largely absent for most of 2017, preferring to hang out over on Instagram, mostly, for instant gratification. But I miss not having somewhere to vent/share/write and so I thought I’d offer a little update to anyone who still reads this as to where the hell I’ve been.

Since last spring, I have:

  • Taken redundancy from my job in broadcasting and left the world of access services after nearly 9 years with a cheery wave.

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  • Spent 5 weeks in America, gadding about, house-sitting for family and friends. I started a new instagram account (@everythingiateinamerica) to document, well, everything I ate. On days like today, when I’m feeling hungry and homesick for my second home in Cincinnati, I like to browse it and relive every bite.

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  • Spent a week on a beach in Kos, drinking cocktails and swimming in the sea every day. It was top notch super fun.

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  • Fell in love with a new horsey beau, Monty. We took part in a dressage competition and we only bloody came second!

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  • Released my collaborative zine with Marceline and sold out of the first print run very quickly, yay! I have others in the works.

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  • Worked in a variety of places, including looking after a college’s website and serving people terrible coffee
  • Started and completed working at Sainsburys supermarket for the Christmas season which was a lot more fun that it sounds. Checked off a life goal of working on a checkout – I really enjoyed it but it did mean I didn’t get any days off at all for about 4 months.
  • Had two teeth removed. I got IV sedation which I’d heartily recommend. Look after your teeth, kids.
  • And after skipping away happily from access services and the world of broadcasting, starting a new job at STV – in the wonderful world of access services! There’s no escape from television, it seems.
  • Spent a month or two looking after my neighbour’s pony Lark, who I immediately rechristened Mark. He is a good sort and we spent some lovely time together roaming around the woods.

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Took part in the Etsy Made Local market in Glasgow, which was hands-down my most profitable market day in over 13 years. It was good to get the old team together.

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Did my first foreign language cross stitch commission, a piece in Russian which my Russian sister-in-law tells me is quite insulting, but the customer loved it nonetheless.

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And rounded off the year seeing my favourite band, Rocket From The Crypt, who as ever, put on a truly amazing show.

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But by far and away the best thing about 2017, was this:

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And now you’ll never forget how to spell diarrhoea either.

Posted in Living

Change

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I have been doing a lot of thinking about change recently, and as usual, have so many ideas for things that I am tripping myself up over them. Writing down helps in part, but also generates more of them and tends to give me more to think about. It’s a vicious circle.

Change is in the air though, big change, and it’s exciting and also a bit terrifying. This quote though caught my eye and resonated with me. I’m not a touchy-feely self-help fan, but just every now and again, one of the billions of these things on Pinterest sticks out and sticks with me.

I suppose the thing is to just pick one idea and try it. And if it doesn’t work, pick another one and try that. I think clever people call that living. I think I might give it a go.

Posted in Living, Random Utterings

2016

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Looking back on my year, it has been much busier than I expected, but that has been a good thing. I started it off with great excitement about the surprise New York trip I’d planned for Lee and I’m finishing it off with great excitement about what 2017 holds, as there are going to be some major life changes happening, of which, more later.

One of my personal goals was to be healthier, after discovering in the summer that I am diabetic. Above, on the left, me in February. On the right, me in December, 23 kg lighter and FOUR jeans sizes smaller, back to being blonde and cradling just out of shot, my brand new faux-niece, Rowan (HEART EYES). I am super-pleased with my accomplishment and hope to continue the good works into the new year. It is still early days but the medical professionals reckon I could well have even just about reversed the diabetes. Inspiration to carry on, that.

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Look at me gadding about in my skinny jeans and my too-big jumper.

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Big changes this year, more big changes next year. Ch-ch-changes.

If you want to buy a I Survived 2016 badge, you can do so here.

Posted in Living

Alex

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I’ve been dying to get back in the saddle for years, but, to be honest, I’ve just been too unfit and fat to burden a poor horse with it. Now I’ve lost some weight, and am feeling a bit more limber, I took the plunge last month and hopped aboard this massive horse.

 

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This was my burst face after the first half  hour. We didn’t even do a lot. I felt like I might die and I could barely walk for a week afterwards.

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Flash forwards about 7 weeks or so and I can now last an hour in the saddle without death approaching, and without hobbling for days afterwards!

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Look, ma, no hands!

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Alex is a Clydesdale, about 16.2 hh to those in the know – a giant to anyone non-horsey. He’s very green and needs a lot of schooling – which suits us both fine. He has a dodgy sense of direction, and needs to be jammed against a wall so I can get on him (from the wall/stepladder/crane) but we get there.

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He’s quite sweet, really.

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And now I can fit in a skirt that’s 2 sizes smaller! Hooray! More horseing around, please.

Posted in Living

Florabunda

The garden at Brownton is blooming and we are over-run with floral beauty right now. It’s brightening up the nooks and crannies of our home, both inside and out.

Yesterday, Lee and I made our annual trip to the Gardening Scotland show in Edinburgh. I have to go along with Lee to make sure he doesn’t spend all his pocket money at once, but to be honest, we both tend to get carried away and buy more plants than we know what to do with.

I love a peony, and I am mildly impressed that we managed to limit ourselves to buying just three new ones to go in our burgeoning peony bed. The beautifully perfect pink peony above was £80, or there would have been a fourth!

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I had to go to work directly afterwards (dangerously leaving Lee unattended at a flower show) but by the time I woke up this morning after my late shift, Lee had already made the peonies at home with their pals. Everything looks so much better in the sunshine.

Some of the other things we bought – a giant red lupin for the front garden to go with the lupin already in there, some dahlias and herbs and um, lots of other things. I also picked up this black succulent from the cactus stand for indoors – really unusual colour, it looks like a miniature palm tree. Oh, and Lee got talent-spotted by the people that sell the magic volcanic dust that makes things grow – they took his photo for their website!

There are some lovely corners of the garden coming together now, and it’s all Lee’s hard work – he even built our deck single-handedly.

Not bad, coming from this just a year ago!

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To this today!

Complete with built-in dog pool! 

Mr Brown, I salute  you and your green fingers! 

Posted in Living, Making

Autumn

Autumnal Max! The Bellwether Blog

Well, lookee here, it’s October already. Max is proud to unveil the new autumnal display at Bellwether HQ cobbled together in seconds painstakingly designed and created by yours truly.

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It’s amazing what you can do with a few pumpkins and some straw filched from the field near our house. The sock monkeys I picked up in the states last year at Thanksgiving and I pinched an ornamental cabbage from our garden. Thankfully, one of our neighbours also has an autumnal wreath on their front door, so we don’t look like the only seasonal loons on the street!

I read this blog post recently over at Rosalilium which lamented the lack of “real” stories on blogs these days so I thought I’d share this wee snippet of my life rather than posting about the latest Bellwether product for a change. I’ve gotten out of the habit of blogging, silly me.

This week, I’m concentrating on fulfilling some wholesale orders and also preparing stock for this:

The Curiosity Shop

The Curiosity Shop is opening this Thursday 8th October in Partick next door to Rio Cafe for a spell – exciting! Find out more here.

Posted in Living

I Love Ponies, They’re My Friends

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A long time ago, I spent pretty much every waking hour doing this sort of thing.I was even pretty good at it. Look!

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I uncovered a shoebox crammed with rosettes when were moving and took them out and ironed them all recently. It has done nothing to quell the rampant desire I have to get back in the saddle, quite literally.

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These are the first two I ever won, back in 1987. I bet that’s before some of you were even born. I got a clear round jumping and I think the 4th was for a grooming competition (grooming ponies – how times have changed!). This is the pony, Sparky, that I was paired up with – still the best pony EVER.

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He died when a girl gave him too much water when he was too hot, poor Sparky. I still miss him.

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Also still miss that Puffa waistcoat, and Bubbles. He was about 900 years old when I rode him, but he lasted a very long time after that even. What a guy.

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Action shot! That was my last pony, Misty. She was pretty much unhinged, but also a real beaut. She was frightened of trees, bushes, insects and used to just decide she’d had enough when we were out for a hack, turn around and cart me home, whether I liked it or not. A headstrong young lady, just like I was. I recall having to shout after my cousin, a much more experienced horsewoman than I, to point her at the sea to stop her, when were on the beach. Good times.

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Ponies even featured in our honeymoon – we went riding round Red Rock Canyon outside Las Vegas. The horses were all going nuts because it had rained so hard that there were rivers flowing through the rocks and they’d never seen it before. I had to go after Lee after his steed took a detour down a ravine.

I miss ponies.

Posted in Living

Make Tea Not War & Other Stories

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I recently started up a new Instagram account to list all my extra supplies, books, vintage stash and seconds on, don’t you know. You’ll find that account here – I’m @thebellwetherer. My main @tinyotterpaws account is still the place to go for dog photos, pictures of my dinner and day-to-day behind the Bellwether scenes snaps.

19859528316_19a1935911_bAlso on my de-stash Insta is a collection of vintage Japanese pennants I’ve been hoarding. My office needs organising, so they’ve gotta go! Have a rummage through!

Posted in Living

Take It As Red

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This is what my hair looks like now. I stopped procrastinating and finally did it, having told no one of my plans. I really like it! I’m told it will fade quickly, so I’ve got all sorts of potions to try and keep it vibrant. I keep catching sight of myself, or my hair out of the corner of my eye and wondering what that red thing is…

Posted in Living

#BEDM 8. Day In The Life

My day (08/05/15) begins reaaaaaally early, when my alarm goes off at 03.30. I’ve been awake off and on for the past couple of hours anyway, partly as I’m worried I’ll sleep in and partly because I’m curious about the election results. I snooze it a couple of times and then I get out of bed and have a shower and get ready as quietly as possible and leave the house around 04.45. I roll into work just after 5am and check in with my colleagues who have been working over night to ensure our election coverage on all the various channels has been OK. It’s all been pretty smooth, which is good news.
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The next few hours are spent monitoring and organising the subtitlers and keeping an eye on overrunning regions and that sort of thing. At 0830, my pal Lindsay, goddess that she is, shows up bearing McDonalds breakfast and a hot chocolate. I could lick her face in happiness, but I restrain myself to wolfing it down and being grateful. Mid-morning, we gather round the TV to watch Fuck Face Farage lose his seat and then resign (him, not us). We give a small cheer and have a celebratory peppermint tea. There may have been a high five.
I have a short break around 12 to grab a Coke and do a bunch of admin, coerce a few people to extend their shifts and generally prepare for the afternoon’s programming. I’m feeling remarkably chipper for someone who had about 4 hours sleep. My office has no windows, so it’s quite jarring to pop out of my cubbyhole to go to the bathroom and realise it’s proper daylight outside. I notice in the mirror that the new Kiehls moisturiser I’m using has indeed reduced shine like the nice lady said it would.
The afternoon passes in a haze of fairly hectic rejigging of plans and smoothing of troubled televisual waters. It’s been an interesting day, news-wise. Scotland chose wisely in the election, but sadly, no one else did, so we’re stuck with the Tories for another 5 years, regardless. Now the rest of the UK knows how we felt in September after the Independence Referendum! Around 1545, I hand over to my incumbent colleague, tell him what to look out for in the next few hours and merrily skip out the door to freeeeedommmmmmmm.
I find these early shifts really hard, if I’m honest, and I usually struggle to do basic things like count or work out sums after a run of them. The past couple of weeks, I have done a few earlies, had a few days off and then back on them, so I am pretty much all over the place, body clock-wise. I get in the car and drive to Bishopton via Renfrew, which is a far less stressful experience than last Friday when I got stuck in traffic for about an hour on the M8 trying to get home. I alight at the post office and post a bunch of orders that I packaged last night and some Imperial Leather soap to my mum, who is in America just now. One of my cousin’s friends really loves it, weirdly.
I then mosey home and Lee and Max are both not long back from their respective business – Lee at work, in Edinburgh, and Max, out walking with my dad in Paisley. We have a catch up, I do some dishes and then I go upstairs and take a bath. It’s veeeeerry hard to stay awake, but I’m determined not to fall asleep before bedtime, or I will not sleep tonight. I don’t do naps, really. Afterwards, in some clean jim jams, I go downstairs and consider doing some sewing, but my eyes can’t take it, so I watch last night’s Eastenders (rubbish) and Lee sources a Chinese takeaway from one of the local places we haven’t tried yet. We feast upon it whilst watching some Netflix and then I lie on the floor for a while, with the dog, revelling in the new carpets. Max has taken to licking the living room carpet for some unfathomable reason. Also realise that we missed his 6th birthday a few days ago, and feel mildly guilty.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m in bed by 2130, as I have to be up at 0430 again the next day. I can’t wait for this run of shifts to be over. Just the weekend, then one more next Friday and I’ll be back on lates…yay.
What did you get up to?
Posted in Living

#BEDM 1. Intro

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I did the Blog Every Day In May challenge last time around (or was it two times ago? I can’t remember) and quite enjoyed it, so I signed up again this year. Of course, I’ve had a pretty busy week since I decided to do so, so haven’t gotten round to even starting it until now. So I’m blogging retrospectively every day in May for a bit.

The first set topic is to introduce yourself, so for anyone who hasn’t been reading this for years, firstly, you’ve really missed out (ho ho, not) and secondly, here’s some fascinating facts you might not know about me already.

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1. My day job is in television – it sounds exciting but it’s really not anything than a relentless endurance test of the soul, mind and body. I work in Access Services which is providing subtitles, audio description and sign language translation for most of the UK’s broadcasting companies (everything except ITV and Channel 5, basically). I used to be a live and pre-recorded subtitler but I’m now a duty manager, planning who does what and then making sure it all happens. It’s all the stress of live television but none of the glamour.It’s long hours, stressful at times but you do get to watch a lot of telly. Sometimes, I remember that we’re providing a magical service to some people who would be lost without it and that makes me happy. I’m really great in a crisis though, as a result of my job. It’s the one thing I can blow my own trumpet about without cringing – bring me a problem and I can think of 5 ways to creatively tackle it quickly. It’s why I think I am pretty awesome at my job.

2. I’ve been running my own business for over 10 years. Some aspects of it I really like, some I don’t. Some days, I have an overwhelming urge to pack it all in and never think of it again and others I want to drop everything and immerse myself in it. Lately, I’ve been enjoying not worrying much about it and taking time to create things for myself or friends. It’s made me remember that it can be fun and relaxing to cross stitch!

3. After vowing never to buy another house, I recently did. Other things I’ve vowed never to do include: get married (11 years this year), sell on Etsy again (considering a return for the VATMOSS headache for my patterns), go in a hot air balloon (so far, so good).

4. My brother lives in Siberia. I was hoping that he’d blog/instagram more when he moved there, but so far, all he’s done is talk about the weather and ask us to post him gravy granules. It’s not as cold as you’d think it is there but it is apparently a lot harder to make a stew than you’d guess.

5. My husband and my dog are both Welsh. I’m outnumbered by Welsh males in our house. We sort of rescued our dog, Max. He was taken in by a 93 year-old lady in the Lake District after his original owners had to give him up the day they were moving house. He’s a big Labrador, and quite active, so he soon proved too much for even a sprightly almost-centenarian. We were starting to think about getting a puppy when my friend Sarah suggested that we drive down and meet Max. We agreed, on the understanding that we were not taking him home with us that day. A few hours later, we were driving back with him in the back because he was just adorable. He’s really a massive part of the family and I can’t imagine life without him. I’m forever grateful to Sarah’s parents living next door to the old lady who took him in.

6. I really like giving things to people, gifts, unwanted possessions, etc. I am always the one who brings cakes into work. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I am forever giving things away. I just like making people happy in small ways.The joy of gift-giving is something I’ll never tire of. I like helping people find great gifts for people that are really well-suited to them.

7. I really like driving. I only passed my test a few years ago, later in life, and since then, I’ve become quite a confident driver. However, the past month or so, I’ve had a string of incidents where I’ve been completely abiding by the rules of the road and other drivers (all male, all white BMW/Audi/van drivers) have cut me up and then verbally abused me rather rigorously, which has knocked my confidence a bit. I’ve started driving different routes to work to mix it up a bit, but it’s really stuck with me and I hope my stupid brain lets me forget it soon or it will be sad that I’ve let them fuck my mojo up.

8. I do all my best thinking in water. I can spend hours in the bath, or in a pool, and a lot of my best ideas have come from wallowing in water. I’d love to swim more but I don’t often get the time. I’m a Pisces, of course.

9. I’d love to live in America one day. My family in Cincinnati really want us to go out there, too, but we’ve been unable to secure jobs/visas so far. I firmly believe that it will happen one day though. Until then, we’ll just make do with frequent trips there. Next time, I might even pluck up the courage to try driving on the wrong side of the road.

10. I really like horses. I enjoy a trip to the baseball. I love the beach. I’m addicted to Coca Cola. I lived in Thailand for a bit a few years back. I have an irrational hatred of lollipop ladies. I could happily eat soup for breakfast and toast for dinner. I’m a bit addicted to Netflix, too.I don’t eat fish or seafood of any kind because ewww, it’s been in the sea and I’ve peed in there. I just want everyone to get along and have a quiet life, really.

FIN.

Posted in Living

Furnished Part Deux

Thanks for all the emails, texts, messages and comments about my furniture! I’m pleased to say I’ve found homes for everything now. I’ve got a few more things I’ve unearthed though, so same drill – if you like the look of anything here, drop me an email to mrspiquante@gmail.com and make me an offer. I’m keen to clear the space, so no reasonable offer will go unconsidered!

Retro Glass Jugs

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I bought these from a charity shop years ago, and have used them as vases – I’d be happy with someone just collecting these, to be honest, so if you’re nearby and can pick ’em up, let me know!

Nest Of G-Plan Tables

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These have seen better days, but a bit of TLC would bring them back to life. Got these on eBay a few years ago, but they don’t really go with the new house style, so another casualty! They’re authentic G-Plan, and the main table is about a metre wide, with the two smaller ones tucking underneath – ideal for the weekend takeway in front of the telly, um, or so I’m told!

Fire Screen

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I bought this eons ago fully intending to replace the tapestry in it with something cooler, but I then started using it as a fire screen and it grew on me. Now I don’t have a fire though, it’s a little superfluous!

I am sure I’ll unearth more stuff, but for now, if anything appeals, let me know!