Making memories: the ‘C’ word

The ‘festive’ C word, that is. I’m not sure I can bring myself to say it yet. C… Chr… Christmas. Aargh!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-Christmas. I love this time of year. I love the darker nights, the frosty freshness of the morning air on the school run. I love seeing the people who clearly don’t have 6 cats putting up their Christmas trees up as soon as Halloween is done, and the scrooges who take to social media to lambast them for ruining the spirit (the irony of arguing over it which is far more spirit-crushing IMO apparently lost on them). I love the planning and the Christmas socials, especially the ones that end in someone getting terribly drunk and stripping off for Santa (usually me).

I love it, but I am not ready. I have bought one single present, which needs a very important “other part” which I can’t find enough detail on to purchase. I haven’t even thought about what the kids want this year, let alone what I can actually afford to buy them. My social calendar is packed with at least two events a week between now and New Year which is drastically reducing planning time, and I’m just not ready. However, despite this total lack of preparedness, this year feels different somehow…

I don’t know if it’s because it’ll be the first Christmas the kids are at home since Gaz and I got married, or because I’ve finally reached that stage of general comfort and ‘at ease’ with my life that has been lost for so long, but I decided early on that this year I was going to do a many of the things that I’ve always wanted to do as possible. When I feel like I’ve hit “peak Christmas” I want to immortalise the whole lot in pictures on canvas, to join our baby and wedding canvas prints, which eventually might become one of those trendy photo walls that you see all over pinterest. Truprint even have 8×8″ sizes available, which they reckon is great for showing off Instagram photos, which appeals to my lazy side & would fill in the big gaps on our wall:

So, I bought a real Christmas tree. It was actually a spur of the moment purchase on the way to Glasgow last weekend:

A post shared by Jem (@jemjabellargh) on

But I’ve always wanted a real Christmas tree and although this isn’t the grand 7ft beautifully decorated tree of my dreams, it will hopefully serve us well this Christmas and can then be put outside in its pot until next year. I feel like I’m being somewhat optimistic given the aforementioned six cats (and the fact that it’s already shedding needles in our probably-too-warm living room) but it’ll be fun to see what happens.

While that is settling I’ve been looking at sourcing terribly kitschy Christmas decorations that I remember from my childhood, including these beauties:

Partly just for the fun of nostalgia, and partly because I’ve invited friends around for 70s themed Christmas drinks and if I can decorate for both in one go it’ll be perfect: another lazy box ticked. I actually put some paper decorations up for Izzy’s birthday recently, which is turns out is also a big 70s thing, so I reckon if we can find some more they can even stay up too.

I want a big Christmas feast, which is unlikely to pose a problem as I always overcook anyway. My sister and her partner are coming round to help us eat through a week’s worth of food in one day, and I will (as usual) extend the offer of Christmas dinner to any locals on their own this year.

Oh, there are so many things I want to do. I want to start traditions this year; stuff that we can do every year because we want to, things that the kids will look back on in 10 years time and remember as being a part of Christmas. Things that they’ll want to do with their kids. I want to make memories, and I want the kids to feel a part of something. I want them to feel that even though our Christmas might not be 100% conventional — split between two homes, with multiple factions of family to share their time with — that it was always about love, and laughter. I want them to be able to look back at the pictures of these times and feel like it was the best days of their lives.

No pressure.

Baring All

I plonked my wibbly wobbly stretch-marked belly (maybe NSFW, features underboob) on Instagram last night. It came off the back of a conversation with a gorgeous, sexy friend who mentioned that she had issues with her tummy. It’s a common one, especially for mums.

I spent a long time hung up on my stomach. I’ve had stretch marks (all over) for as long as I can remember but during pregnancy they multiplied by the dozen. I have weird bits of skin from where it was stretched to the obscene and didn’t quite recover. I have some lines that look as wide as they are long. I’d been with Gaz for close to two years before I stopped flinching every time his hand brushed past my stomach; before I stopped pushing it away, swallowing hard and holding my breath until he was out of the ‘danger zone’.

It’s so easy to look down at myself and see this ‘mess’ and then compare it to instagram models and “just bounced back” celebs and wonder where I went wrong. But comparison is the thief of joy (according to Theodore Roosevelt) and although he probably wasn’t talking about bellies, I can see his point. When we compare our untouched naked skin to the Photoshopped elite we stop seeing the things these soft, squishy, wondrous tummies have done for us. For those of us who are lucky enough to have been able to grow babies, they have protected new life, shielding it from the elements, giving it space to grow.

When I had my little self-love epiphany after my gallbladder issues, I promised myself that come what may I would not slip back into the habit of negative self-talk, of filtering out my flaws and avoiding the scars and marks that cover my skin. I told myself that I would use my platform & my confidence & my ‘fuck you’ attitude to normalise the wobbles and bulges, dips and bumps and lines. Despite this, despite finding comfort in my jiggles, I still hesitated before sharing. That familiar deep breath, hard swallow. Why is it hard? It shouldn’t be hard.

There is beauty in imperfection, in vulnerability, in accepting who we are and how we got there. If that means baring all and shouting “I LOVE MYSELF” from the rooftops so as to reiterate that and encourage other people to do the same? So be it.

Radical Self Love

I posted this picture to instagram at the end of May:

A post shared by Jem (@jemjabellargh) on

The general gist of the caption was that, while I don’t agree on everything my mum says & does, I did appreciate her “don’t give a fuck” attitude growing up and it helped me develop a similar approach to society’s pressures to look a certain way.

Of course, this wasn’t the full story (because seriously, nobody wants to read a blog post in an insta caption).

While that is mostly true, as I said on instagram, I have poked at wobbly bits with an element of self-doubt. In the depths of PMDD-fuelled anxiety I have questioned whether my own husband could truly love me with all my scars and stretch marks. I liked myself most of the time, but I’m not “perfect”, and I knew it, but I accepted who I was.

When I got sick in early May, and a week of excruciating gallbladder pain stopped me from eating, I dropped ~10lbs quite quickly. Any other time this would be cause for celebration, but I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognise the person looking back at me. My skin looked pale, my stomach was shrivelled up like a weird dry prune and I felt myself shrinking: the opposite of what I want to achieve. I looked like shit, and it terrified me.

I hated it. I hated how I looked, I hated feeling weak, and I hated being less ‘me’.

As I got better, I had what can only be described as an epiphany. It hit me: when I’m not ill I can run, I can lift heavy weights, I can kick arse in the dojang, and I am strong, capable and confident. Weighing 10lbs less didn’t give me superpowers, it didn’t make me suddenly more attractive or physically fit (quite the opposite in this instance).

And so I realised that if I hated myself like that, I had no choice but to love myself when I’m 10lbs heavier, when I’ve not shaved my legs in a fortnight, when I’m bloated to all hell because I’m due on, when my brain is telling me I suck because my hormones are going haywire. Merely accepting myself wasn’t enough. I accept bills, and taxes, and having to get up at 7am to get the kids ready for school and those things all SUCK. And so that caption also said something quite radical: I think I love myself.

I gave myself permission to enjoy the comedy of the wobbly belly, to celebrate the origins of the stretch marks, to find mystery in my scars. I gave myself permission to say fuck yeah, I actually look pretty good. And I’m cool with that.

AMA: Comprehensive list of animals (cat pics yay)

So, the first (proper) question in my recent ‘AMA’ was from Melissa, who asked:

Can you provide a comprehensive list of all your animals with names + types + breeds? And also how you manage your litter box organization! ^_^

Now, there should be a page for this, but every time I work on my ‘pets’ page, something dies or someone new comes along. 2016 has been particularly chaotic, in fact! Anyway, hopefully this post — dated and timestamped and all that jazz — will give you a rough run down of my animal population right now.

Cats

In order or when they arrived in our zoo…

Fudge

Fudge is a domestic shorthair, is 8 and a half (ish) years old and ‘top cat’ in the household since Hex passed away.

Tiny toes

Fudge in the bath

I ‘rescued’ Fudge in 2008 from a pretty awful situation (although looking back there’s lots I’d change about how I dealt with that).

Fudge went through a period of being incredibly subdued and shy, but having been given access to roam outdoors over the past couple of years he’s really come out of his shell and loves a good fuss.

Crumble

Crumble is a domestic shorthair, approx 6.5 years old and is mostly ‘owned’ by Isabel who considers Crumble her cat. I resisted the urge to adopt Crumble back in 2010 for about 2 weeks before finally caving.

Checking out the baby playmat

Wrestling Fudge

crumble

Crumble is a simple cat, content to spend most of her life curled up in a chair. She likes to sit with us of an evening and chirps like a canary if you fuss her enough.

Ripley

Ripley is a bloody expensive cat, AKA British Shorthair. She’s approx 15 months old. She is Gaz’s cat, bought for him last Christmas, and is easily the biggest pain out of all my animals. She has no tolerance for cheaper cat foods (can you blame her?) which give her the runs, so we had to switch all the cats to a more expensive food last year. She demands attention all day, eats more than any cat I’ve ever met and won’t let you empty the dishwasher without sitting right in the middle of the open door, getting in the way in the process.

ripley-on-jem

ripley-in-sunshine

That said, she is one of the most laid back cats I’ve ever owned, and loves everyone and everything, even the guinea pigs. She’s playing an important role in ‘mothering’ our latest addition, but more on him shortly. She’s fat, furry and incredibly affectionate.

Pixel

Pixel is roughly 18 months – 2 years old. We’re not entirely sure, because she’s a rescued stray, adopted from Shropshire Cat Rescue where I spend my Tuesdays. She’s a domestic shorthair like Fudge and Crumble.

pixel-kisses

Pixel is one of the biggest feline challenges I’ve ever approached. I brought her home because she was ‘red carded’ at the rescue for her aggression and was destined to become a farm cat living out her days on someone’s land. I didn’t think this was necessary, as she’d been incredibly affectionate with me, and offered to try and integrate her here.

pixel-on-me

We’ve had our ups and downs. She hides a lot, and doesn’t really like Fudge (because he’s tried to enforce the existing hierarchy and she doesn’t like that at all) but has on occasion played with Ripley. She has been bitey with both Gaz and I on numerous occasions, usually because she’s scared or over-stimulated. We have to be incredibly careful to watch all her body language for signs that she’s had enough fuss. She’s also the only cat I’ve ever owned who refuses to eat wet cat food.

With all that said, she ‘kisses’ like Hex used to, and can be friendly on her terms. I’m hoping that with time and patience she will fully integrate and be happy here, but I re-assess on a weekly basis.

Montgomery (Monty)

And here we have the latest of the purry bunch: Monty (probable domestic shorthair).

Monty is estimated at approximately 4 weeks old, but weighing just 292g when I brought him home on Monday 21st. He was found abandoned in a hedge in a town near Wales and was brought to a nearby vets who re-homed him with me via a friend of a friend.

monty

Monty is all ‘skin and bones’, and is currently receiving the kind of attention you’d expect to give a newborn baby! He’s on supplemental milk feeds (specialist ‘babycat formula’) and regular small feedings of high quality wet kitten food to boost his weight. He sleeps in a small blue fleece hat, on a fleece blanket, inside the carrier I brought him home, in front of he radiator to keep him warm.

ripley-and-monty-playing

Ripley has taken an instant shine to Monty and plays with him, follows him round, responds to his cries with what seems like concern and sits ‘guard’ overnight while he sleeps. I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between them.

ripley-and-monty

The cats all eat James Wellbeloved and Wainwrights wet/dry food.

Guinea Pigs

We’ve had a recent explosion in our guinea pig population. Earlier on in the year we had 3: Tango and Sprite, a neutered male / female pair, and Spot (my famous guinea pig) the remaining pig from an un-neutered male pair.

spot guinea pig

Long story short, Spot and Sprite had an unintentional pregnancy and we now have 7 guinea pigs: the 3 adults, as well as Mabel (m), Badger (f), George (f) and Pepper (f). Spot has since been neutered and is currently living with Mabel, but once Mabel is old enough to be neutered I hope to reintroduce everypig into a large group.

guinea-pig-family

The guinea pigs have a diet mainly based on hay and readigrass (dried grass) as well as small amounts of veg every day or so and dry nuggets (Supreme Science Selective).

Rabbits

Peanut (tan coloured) and Sagittarius A* are both, oddly, from Shropshire Cat Rescue. I’m not entirely sure of the ages or breeds of either but they make a great pairing, which surprised me as Peanut is a grumpy bugger and their initial introductions weren’t positive.

peanut-and-saggi-rabbits

They live free range in my utility, with a cage as their ‘home base’, and all-day access to the garden on dry days.

The rabbits also have a diet mainly based on hay and readigrass, small amounts of veg every other day and dry nuggets (Supreme Science Selective).

Poops, Pees and Litterbox Fun

With a population of animals this large, poop is obviously a big part of my day to day life.

The cats currently have four litter trays between them, although this may increase with the addition of Monty. We have two covered trays in the bathroom, one uncovered tray in the utility (which the rabbits occasionally use too) and one outside in the sheltered cat run.

However, all is not perfect and we get the occasional cat leaving us a present behind the sofa or outside the tray to express indignation: often with a new arrival, or if I’ve dared leave another poop in the tray for longer than a few hours.

The rabbits mostly poo in a tray in their (always open) cage or all over my utility floor, which is at least concrete and easily cleaned. Despite having managed to perfectly litter train my previous rabbits these two are a little stubborn and would rather have me chase poo nuggets round the place.

Guinea pigs poo wherever they damn well please and their hutches have to be cleaned out regularly.

So boys and girls, there you have it. A comprehensive list of my current animals and details on litter boxes and poop. If you’d like to ask me a question, drop it in a comment on AMA.

In defence of selfies

I was flicking through a thread on mumsnet last week — procrastination in action — about people who take lots of selfies. The consensus of opinion was that people who take a lot of selfies are vain, insecure and lacking self-esteem. Mumsnet’s AIBU, apparently the last bastion of social etiquette and good manners, thinks that people who post a lot of selfies should get a hobby.

Maybe a hobby like criticising people on Mumsnet…

trolololol

I disagree, of course. I don’t think people with low self esteem post selfies for validation. Quite the opposite, I think often people with truly low self esteem tend not to post pictures of themselves at all for fear of judgement and comments, essentially cutting themselves out of their own history.

Of course there’s exceptions to the rule, in which case do we really need to be telling people who feel so badly about themselves that they’re a piece of shit and should stop posting on the Internet? That they need to do something more productive, or more worthwhile?

Who are these strangers to judge whether or not these selfie-addicts deserve to exist in their little safe space?

Given a choice between complimenting a serial-selfier and taking another kick at their apparently already low confidence levels, should we be defaulting to the kick in the teeth option? If a selfie is taken to seek validation – to justify existing in this world – is giving validation or giving hate more harmful?

Of course the selfie-hate is not a Mumsnet-only thing. It’s a fairly common opinion that people should not like themselves enough to share that with the world. Know your place, selfie takers!

Selfies document progress and milestones, holidays, hairstyles and fashion trends, culture and identity. Selfies are proof that we exist in our own lives: for others, for ourselves, and for potential future generations. They create communities between likeminded and lookalikes, allowing us to experience a truly multicoloured, multiflavoured, multicultural world that would otherwise be out of reach for many.

I take selfies. Good selfies, bad selfies. Duck-face selfies, new hair selfies, suns-out-guns-out selfies. Selfies with the kids and without. Selfies with friends, selfies in the mirror. Selfies on holiday and at home.

all-the-selfies

I finally have a record of my path in life and nobody can take that away from me, Mumsnet or otherwise.

Wedding Antics

So who got married last week? Just me? Oh :)

jaz-wedding-web

On May 16th at 11:30ish (we were early) Gaz and I officially tied the knot (as they say; no actual knots were tied). In a short and sweet ceremony where I agreed to love and cherish my “awfully” wedded husband, we exchanged rings, had a quick snog then went for yummy grub at my favourite pizza restaurant.

On Saturday night we made it all the more real with a celebration for family and friends who very kindly travelled from as far away as London, Scotland and even Belgium.

We ate a big hog roast, expensive cheeses, locally made cupcakes and the best tasting popcorn I’ve ever eaten from Joe & Seph’s. Seriously, that stuff is adictive. I don’t even eat popcorn normally and now I’m thinking about getting the catering size packs in for “emergencies”.

Music was provided by local band Lost the Plot and was heartily enjoyed by all guests. Huge thanks to these guys for entertaining us all evening, and for playing (by special request) Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”. There’s something particularly amusing about 3 ageing muscians (sorry guys) playing a song about curvy young women.

Here are some of my favourite photos from the night, including one of me dancing like a bellend (for your personal enjoyment):

what kind of dancing is that

team gazza

the look of love

And there are tons more photos are up on Facebook, if you know where to look.

Recipe: Eton Mess Cake

Yesterday was Gaz‘s birthday and in true birthday tradition (AKA any excuse for cake) I decided to bake, with the “help” of the kids. Normally for this sort of occasion I would find a recipe weeks in advance and fail attempt to make something spectacular. However, with work and kids to contend with, time was not on my side, so I thought I’d modify my basic victoria sponge and turn it into Eton Mess in cake form. Here goes…

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 200g butter
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the filling / decoration

  • 1 tub of mini meringues
  • 300ml (ish) double cream
  • 3 tbps icing sugar
  • 300g (ish) strawberries
  • A tablespoon or two of seedless strawberry jam or some nice strawberry coulis

Equipment

  • Two 8″ or 9″ round cake tins (I can’t find my tape measure)
  • Bowl and spoon or your nan’s Kenwood Chef
  • Greaseproof/baking paper OR butter for greasing

Top tip!
You can make a fantastic, rich & tasty sponge for the majority of occasions by using equal parts butter, flour and sugar with 1 medium egg for each 50g. Don’t be afraid to experiment: e.g. make a chocolate cake by replacing 50g flour with 50g of cocoa powder.


Method

Is it just me that thinks ‘method’ makes it sound like a science experiment?

  1. Stick your oven on to pre-heat at around 150-170C.
  2. Either by hand or with a magic mixing machine, combine the butter and the sugar in a bowl until it turns into a creamy soft sugary goo. Fish your childrens hands out of the bowl and remind them that nobody wants to eat cake that’s had fingers poked in it.
  3. When combined, slowly add the egg, mixing gently as you go. Remove the chunks of broken shell from the mixture. When the egg and buttery mix is combined, add the vanilla extract.
  4. Sieve in the flour and baking powder.

baking-eton-mess-cake

  1. Gently stir the flour into the mix until smooth and delicious looking. Fish your childrens hands out of the bowl and remind them that nobody wants to eat cake that’s had fingers poked in it.
  2. Line your baking tins or grease with butter. If I’m making a cake with butter as the ‘fat’, I just grease and don’t usually have any problems getting the cake out of the tin.
  3. Divide the mixture between the two tins roughly equally and using the back of your spoon, level it out as best you can. Give the spoon and bowl to the children for “cleaning” duties.

cake-mix-in-tin

  1. Pop the cakes in the middle of your pre-heated oven with the kid’s fish fingers that they’re having for tea, and cook for around 20-30 minutes. To test if the cake is done, stick a skewer / cocktail stick / piece of dry spaghetti into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean it’s cooked. If it’s black, you’ve burnt it.
  2. Let the cooked cakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Answer the question “is it cool yet?” 500 times a minute with the word “no”.
  3. Remove the cakes from the tin and allow to cool on a rack. I cheat at this point and stick the rack in the fridge because the cakes cool quicker, and cold cakes are much easier to trim…
  4. When completely cool, remove any bumps and lumps from the top of the cakes as best you can (it doesn’t have to be perfect, nobody is going to see it under the cream anyway) using a sharp knife or cake trimmer thingy (posh git).

cooked-cake

  1. Whisk the shit out of your double cream. As it begins to firm up, whisk in the 3 tablespoons of sieved icing sugar until the cream is fairly stiff and leaves a hole when you stick your finger in it (for “testing purposes”). Don’t tell the people eating your cake it’s had 3 pairs of hands in it.
  2. Slather your jam or strawberry sauce on the top of one of the trimmed sponges and then chuck a few dollops of cream on top. Spread it around using the back of your (now washed) spoon — or a palette knife if you’ve got one. If you’re really fancy, you could also pipe the cream on to the cake at this point. Snob.
  3. Break 2 of the merginues over the cake, sending lovely crunchy meringue bits everywhere.
  4. Chop up a handful of strawberries into quarters and chuck them on top of the cream meringue layer, resisting the urge to dip spare strawberries into the cream as you’ll need that later.

strawberry-layer

  1. Stick the other sponge on top, pressing it down slightly to make sure it’s not going to slide around (but not so hard that your middle cream layer spurts out the sides)
  2. Dollop lots more cream on the top, vaguely attempting to spread it round. Decorate with several mini meringues and whole strawberries. If you were able to buy strawberry coulis you might consider drizzling it over the top cream layer. I did not think it’d work quite as well with blobs of jam…

finished-eton-mess-cake

Tada!

Barcelona, boobs and a bigass church

I ticked another item off my 30 things before thirty list last week when I flew to Barcelona with Gaz for the mystery holiday he’d booked us. He did quite well actually, I didn’t find out where we were going until check in when ‘unfortunately’ the destination flashed up on the screens above the desk (despite my best effort to keep my eyes on my feet). Considering many of my closest friends were in on the destination I was surprised I didn’t find out sooner.

Barcelona was great — very warm! — and I really enjoyed taking in another culture. It was my first proper holiday outside of the UK which made me a little nervous, but I made an attempt to throw in a bit of terrible Spanish as well as trying new food (including a weird seafood salad which contained sea things that remain a mystery to me) and drink (mostly cocktails).

We visited La Sagrada Familia (nicknamed the bigass church by yours truly), designed by Antoni Gaudí. It was nothing short of impressive to look at outside, but for me its true beauty was on the inside: columns that seemed to stretch on forever, reaching up to an explosion of sunbursts in the ceiling; enormous stained glass windows that lit up the inside of the church with a fantastic array of colour as the strong Spanish sunlight poured in; complex shapes, spiral staircases and beautiful carvings as far as the eye can see.

(Gaz took more / better photos which you should be able to see in this Facebook album.)

We also visited Casa Batlló — another work of Gaudí’s — and walked for miles along La Rambla, the beach, up to and around the grounds of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya etc. In fact most days we were clocking up 10 miles or more.

I was surprised by how slim and beautiful virtually everyone in Barcelona seemed to be. The beach in particular seemed like *the* place to hang out if you were utterly gorgeous. I managed to find a spot near some middle aged women of various shapes & sizes who were sunbathing topless, clearly giving no fucks, and plonked myself down for a bit of boobs-out sunbathing of my own. I didn’t think I’d be doing that when I wrote my 30 things list, when even the idea of wearing a bikini had me virtually shitting myself.

Fun in the sun aside, I wasn’t expecting to look forward to coming home on the last day as much as I did. I can’t tell if it’s because I’m more of a homebody than I realised (and I do miss the stability of a regular routine) or if its just because I’m so used to being at home that anything else pushes me outside of my comfort zone. I guess the only way to find out is to go on more holidays… ;)

Living room redecoration: take 2

In a recent post I mentioned the fact that I was finally going to finish decorating my living room. Karl and I started this back in 2012, but a combination of small children, full time work and laziness got in the way so it was never finished. However, now the house is “mine” I have this huge urge to actually put *my* spin on every room – without limits and arguments and settling for something someone else wants.

In case you’ve forgotten, or you weren’t around back then, this is what it looked like originally:

living room

And this is what it looked like earlier this evening (it’s not always messy):

messy-room-pre-decorating_mini

That’s a crap picture, but you can see here where it’s unfinished; top right corner of the room and above the curtain rail are still covered in old wallpaper, paint isn’t right up to the ceiling. This isn’t even the worst side of the room!

My plans are roughly as follows:

  • A red feature wall! I’ve always wanted a red feature wall
  • New roller blind for the front window, because my neighbours have had enough of me walking around starkers
  • Better lighting, because I hate that I have no ‘atmospheric’ lighting in this room
  • A big mirror on the longest wall, possibly moving the clock elsewhere
  • TV mounted on the wall, big picture moved
  • Maybe a nice rug (until I can afford to carpet throughout) – something like this or or this one; both ‘go’ with my cushions

Now I just need the money. And time. Mostly money.

Getting “Bulky”

When I started lifting weights I had several conversations (Facebook chat counts as a conversation these days, right?) with friends about how I wanted to build some muscle but I didn’t want to end up looking like this:

female bodybuilder weightlifting
(face hidden because it’s not my intention to shame this woman)

I know that a lot of women don’t lift because they’re worried about “looking bulky” and that it’s mostly bollocks (because women don’t have the same body composition / hormone levels etc as men, so don’t end generally end up looking “bulky” by accident!) but I figured I was going to be lifting so much I might genuinely end up looking a bit more muscley than I intended.

Hahahahahahaha. I was such a dick.

I have now been lifting for ~6 months give or take (including some weeks skipping workouts because I was ill or lazy). Six months in I am only just getting to the stage where you can maybe tell I lift if you see me unflexed. If I flex it’s more obvious, but I also look constipated, so I try not to do it in public too much. But the point is, how bloody naive was I to assume that lifting a dumbbell a couple of times a week was going to make me look even close to that? I couldn’t have disrespected the work that female pro bodybuilders put into their bodies any more if I’d tried.

I still don’t want to look like that, far from it, but I certainly have a lot more respect for women who can do that and who put that amount of time and effort in. Just building the small amount of muscle on my arms that I have got has been bloody hard work. (These women still remind me of David Dickinson though.)

De-stressing / chillaxing / “me” time [insert other clichés here]

You’ve probably been able to tell from my moaning on twitter and facebook that I’ve been a bit stressed lately. What with Isabel starting school last week (and the tantrums started by day #2), lots of stuff going on at work, money issues (a bloody great big tax bill) and general life chaos I feel like I just haven’t stopped and sat down.

Now things are settling into a new routine and I seem to have a handle on what the heck I’m doing day to day (honestly, I stress about stuff far too much) I can start to unwind. This coincides nicely with some candles sent to me by House of Fraser recently, with the intention being for me to “relax and have some ‘me’ time”.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been one for scented candles and all that jazz, and my ‘me’ time is spent minus children with a certain gentleman (at which point, candles are the last thing on my mind) but nonetheless I thought I’d give them a whirl.

candle-packaging

I used the first one with company here (which incidentally, is one of my favourite ways to have ‘me’ time… albeit not just with me, obviously) to make my guests think I’m posh and because I figured that Plum & Black Amber would smell better than the musty I-don’t-clean-enough smell which usually pervades my house ;)

The general consensus was that the packaging was fabulous and the candles themselves would make a fantastic gift (I can think of a couple of people I’d buy these for), but I’ll be honest: I just couldn’t smell the candle despite everyone else protesting that it smelled lovely! Certainly I think the candle contributed less to my enjoyment and relaxation than the 11 bottles of Smirnoff Ice I consumed that night, but I probably shouldn’t admit that publically.

I had much more luck with the second candle, scented with Rose Blossom & Cassis (as pictured above). Not to help me relax at all, that’s what vodka was invented for, but it did make my living room smell lovely… at least until Fudge vommed his wet food all over the floor.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I don’t really do ‘me’ time, and if I do I wouldn’t generally be lighting candles to help me enjoy it, but the candles ARE very pretty and at least one of them smells nicer than hairy cats and half-potty trained toddlers.

Oh tits.

Just when I thought this week couldn’t get any worse:

cracked-windscreen_mini

Large crack in my windscreen, right across my line of vision. Replacement windscreen: £105 + VAT

I still have that kidney for sale, if there’s any takers…