A to Z challenge: Bicycles, Cakes, Daughters, Essays and Friends

So clearly I’ve been falling behind on the A to Z blog challenge – I did A for the 1st April, then came down sick. So I’m going to try and catch up with several days squeezed into one post! :) Here we go…

B is for Bicycles

I loved this dress by Emily and Fin and saved up to get it for my birthday. The only problem was when I went to my favourite shop – an indie clothing shop called Cookie – they had completely sold out. I was sad, but I also knew that Emily & Fin are stocked in other indie shops around the UK and managed to locate one in Manchester called Thunderegg that had it in my size and weren’t charging as much as one in London was to post it! It came in time, and it fitted perfectly. My friend’s daughter asked me if I realised I had bicycles on my dress, and when I told her I did and asked whether I thought it was silly, she said yes.

But I like silly.

And I like bicycles.

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C is for Cake.

I love baking cakes, but I’m best at cupcakes, and I’m pants at making them look good. My friend Carrie however is totally awesome at cake decorating, and last Autumn there were several discussions with my honourary nephews about what kind of cake Mummy should bake for Auntie Laura Anne. Although there was the possibility of getting a ninja turtle just like Elastaboy got yesterday, I got a koala! Plus inside was the most yummy chocolate fudge cake.

And yes, as I still haven’t visited the supermarket, I ate some for breakfast this morning.

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D is for daughter

I was reminded last week of this role when my Mum explained she wanted to have a role in doing something for my birthday. My natural instinct is to organise things myself. But I realised my Mum wants to well….be a Mum. Even if sometimes she complains about it. The other side of this is I’m realising I’m getting to a stage in life where it feels like there is a role reversal – it is no longer my parents taking care of me, but soon will be me taking care of my parents. It’s kind of scary and I’m grateful for the siblings I share parents with. With my Mum there are no siblings, just me.

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E is for the End of Essays

Today I handed in my report on Germany, which means that I have no more assignments in this academic year. I finally feel free of it, and am enjoying reading for pleasure than tedious academic stuff that I need specialist dictionaries for!
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F is for Friends

And if there’s one thing I was reminded of this weekend, it is that I have an amazing bunch of friends. From people that wished me Happy birthday on Facebook, to my friend in Spain who could not be there this weekend, and the amazing friends that travelled from England to spend my birthday weekend with me. They blew up balloons, they played with my friends’ children, they helped make jelly and cakes. They made use of my polka dot teapot. They really made this weekend one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. Thank you friends!! (They aren’t all pictured below, but we had to do a ‘birthday selfie’ at the beginning of the afternoon of birthday celebrations).

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Before I catch up…

…from a few days of being ill, followed by a weekend of being surrounded by fabulous friends and turning 30, can I ask for some prayers?

My Dad is currently in hospital. A few weeks ago doctors thought he had had a stroke, but in fact it turned out to be a trapped nerve in his spine. There is now swelling and oedema in the affected vertebrae causing problems particularly to his right side, and they will need to operate – soon. Most likely in the next few days. Any kind of neurosurgery comes with risks and there are plenty possible scenarios and ‘could happens’ in this situation. I won’t lie – some of the possibilities are pretty terrifying.

Your positive thoughts and prayers would be much appreciated at this time.

Thanks xx

 

Wednesday HodgePodge – 3 for 3


1. Since these questions are posting on the first day of April it seems only right to ask-when was the last time you did something foolish? If you can’t answer that one, try this one-when was the last time someone fooled you?

Hmm…I do foolish things all the time really. But one of my favourite memories we were talking about last Friday was on the middle weekend of Winter school. We were all exhausted from early mornings and brain mushed days and looking forward to our one and only lie in of the two weeks. Only on Sunday morning I woke to someone screaming aloud. And 10 minutes later some giggling. Eventually my bladder got the better of me and I had to accept defeat that I wasn’t going to get back to sleep and just get up … I went out to go to the toilet and discovered what I thought at first was a drunken student who’d been locked out his room:

Pillow man

We’re pretty sure that ‘Pillow man’ was a creation of one of the Hungarian students. Later on I came back up from breakfast to discover he was wearing my earmuffs. I was told ‘he walked in and got them himself’ but pretty sure that our American classmate was responsible for that particular accessorizing of the pillow man!

2. What’s the last biography or non-fiction book you’ve read? Was it any good?

The last was probably Pedagogy of The Oppressed by Paulo Freire. I needed a dictionary. And I didn’t read it by choice, it was for university. I agree with a lot of Freire’s theories, but how I wish he’d written in a simpler fashion!

3. Garlic-friend or foe? What’s your favorite dish made with garlic?

A foe. Garlic is not my friend but man does it taste good!!

Garlic bread would be a favourite quite honestly – I did have some a few weeks ago.

4. Several Spring flower festivals happen in the US during the month of April. Of those listed, which would you most like to see in person…The Skagit Tulip Festival in Skagit Washington, The Dogwood Arts Festival in Knoxville Tennessee, The North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington North Carolina or the Daffodil Festival Weekend on Nantucket Island, Massachussets?

Um. Can I say none?

5. How do you choose which blogs to read?  What is something that will make you stop and read every time? Something that makes you say, ‘eh, think I’ll skip this one and move on to the next’?

I like reading about people’s lives. Anything which shows me their culture (micro or macro) and that they don’t take themselves too seriously. I love to learn new things! Usually I skip if it gets a bit too much about consumerism/marketing and how I apparently need to be wearing the perfect outfits and kids should also be wearing the perfect outfits. Like I don’t mind people sharing something they’re excited about like the dress they’ve got to wear to a family wedding or a great book or something but you know the blogs where every day it’s about a new product? Not my thing. Oh and blog music really gets on my nerves. I’ve also found that some blogs look great, but take so long to load up…

6. April is National Mathematics Education Month so tell us, when did you last use math?

Trying to calculate my time sheets for work. Thank Goodness for calculators.

7. In honor of the A-Z challenge kicking off on April 1…choose one word beginning with the letter A to describe your yesterday.

April Fools! (ok that’s not a word, it’s a phrase?)

8. Insert your own random thought here.

It’s currently been freezing cold, pouring with rain or super foggy. South of the border temperatures were more than double of that in Scotland at the weekend! Selfishly I’m hoping for an improvement of the weather as I’m having a birthday gathering on Saturday and would love, love, love for folks to be able to play in the garden if possible.

A is for April Fools

 

 

So given that I’m finished with uni for a few months, I needed a new project. Especially as I’m going to have weeks free from Girlguiding meetings and no time off from work during the Easter Holidays. So here it is the April A to Z challenge!

A is for April Fools

And there have been a lot of them today connected with the current independence ‘debate’ in Scotland (yes, I use those quotation marks deliberately – because the sad fact is the media articles today aren’t too far removed from the apparently serious ones).

Firstly, the concerns that the UN have about their blue berets in peacekeeping during reenactments of Braveheart at the Scottish/English border

Secondly the announcement that my American friends will no longer get confused crossing the road if we go independent, because we’ll be changing which side of the road we drive on…not to mention the names of our roads, and printing roadsigns in a Proclaimer font.

(I had a funny moment on facebook when my cousin thought that I hadn’t recognised that this particular article was an April Fool…and he felt he better tell me!)

And of course, we’ll need to get much bigger coins if Alex Salmond’s head is going to fit on them.

The Scots have been the butt of most media April Fools jokes today. And some poor guy in Edinburgh is still waiting on a tram because he has no euros…you know it must be an April Fool when he’s only waiting a month though. Some of us have been around for the last 7 years waiting on those things.

:)

 

Wednesday HodgePodge – 2 for 2!

1. March is known as the windy month. Which of the following phrases best fits your March so far…’throw caution to the wind’, ‘three sheets to the wind’, ‘run like the wind’, or ‘see which way the wind blows’?

Three sheets to the wind. Not because I’ve been getting drunk, but the stress and sleepless nights of the last few weeks have turned me into a brain mushed person that may seem like she is!

2. Your favorite green food? Your favorite dish made with your favorite green food?

ooh. Now. I love so many things – broccoli, sugarsnap peas, spinach…

I’d probably have to go spinach. I love spinach in my pasta, I love to make salad with it, I love the Higgidy Piggidy Spinach, feta and red pepper quiche…

Or there’s avocado…I LOVE AVOCADO!

Spinach. No. Avocado..yes. Avocado. No….spinach… Sorry I can’t decide!

3. Ever been locked out of your home-car-office-anywhere? Do tell!

When I lived in Aberdeen, and had not long had my beloved car – a blue vauxhall corsa named Cassie – I got a call from my mother in Edinburgh (which is about a 2.5 hour drive away). My Mum had been wandering the 24hr supermarket for a few hours in full evening dress (she’d either been at a charity ball or some posh work thing) and on coming home discovered her house key was no longer in her teeny tiny bag. Her husband was on an oil rig, her sister was in Spain – I was the only person on the mainland of the UK with a key to her house. Hence the call at 7 a.m. to ask if I would please drive to Edinburgh to rescue her.

I dutifully got in the car, and began the drive to Edinburgh. But I needed petrol. So I stopped in a petrol station just South of Aberdeen.

And discovered I couldn’t get the door to the petrol cap open.

Cue me getting out car manuals, trying to prise open the door flap…I could not get that thing to open. I was starting to panic slightly…would I have to call the breakdown service? I didn’t have any petrol in my car to get home or to Edinburgh, and I couldn’t find a way to get petrol into my car to resolve the issue!

Eventually I swallowed my pride and went to ask someone for help. Here I was a 20 year old blonde student just not helping the stereotypes of blondes or women drivers (I’m so sorry).

What was the problem? Well…

Turns out that the central locking system of my car also included a lock for the petrol cap flapdoor (I have no idea if that’s what it’s called, but I’ll call it that). One click of the key opens the driver door only, 2 clicks opens everything else – the boot, the passenger doors…and the petrol cap door!

As I wasn’t putting anything in the boot like I usually would for a long journey, or if I was putting shopping in my car and getting petrol while at the supermarket like I normally would, I hadn’t done two clicks. So the petrol door was still locked.

How stupid did I feel? Very.

However, I did not feel as silly as my Mum who had had to go to our neighbours in her evening dress at 8 a.m. and stay there until I arrived a few hours later.

Needless to say, our neighbours now have a spare key for our house in case such a fiasco ever happens again…!

4. Yoda, Kermit, Shrek, The Wicked Witch of the West, Oscar the Grouch, The Grinch, or Mike Wazowski (Monsters Inc.)…of the green characters listed, which one’s your favorite and why?

I have to pick between Yoda, Kermit and Mike Wazowski?

I love Yoda for his wisdom, and I love Mike for the fact he never let himself be pigeon holed due to  his lack of height or ‘scariness’ – he proves that if you really want something bad enough you can work hard and make it happen. I love Kermit, but I wish he wouldn’t let Miss Piggy treat him like crap so often!

5. “The first task of a leader is to keep hope alive.”~Joe Batten Do you agree? Why or why not?

I think I agree? If you don’t have hope or belief in a team’s ability to achieve something, nobody is going to work towards it. And it’s probably why Saul Alinsky always said that community organisers should have achievable goals to help bring communities together to find solutions.

6. Share a favourite song with an emotion in it’s title.

Oh my word. This was tough. I’ve just gone through all my favourite playlists and not one song had an emotion in it’s title.

I’m not sure love is an ‘emotion’ but it’s the closest I could come and this is one of my favourite songs by Noah & The Whale, “Give A Little Love” used beautifully in a scene from Cougar Town.

7. What’s a road trip you’d like to take?

I’d love to road trip down the coast of California, I’d also like to road trip from New England to the Southern States of the USA too, although I will likely avoid Alabama as I still remember this episode of Top Gear.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

A bunch of us were hoping to be at an anti-racism day march against fascism and racism in Glasgow on Saturday. I was telling my friend about it, but I forgot the ‘anti’ part. So I basically told her that I was going to a ‘march for fascism and racism’ and she just stared at me horrorstruck at what I just said and I couldn’t understand why. And then I realised what I’d actually said as opposed to what I meant to say.

Oh dear.

I’m a terrible leftie hippie.

I was also really sad to hear the news that James Rebhorn died at the weekend. He plays one of (many) lovely characters on White Collar - head of the FBI White Collar Division Reese Hughes (and yes, he’s also Carrie’s Dad on Homeland…but dudes…White Collar). He actually wrote his own obituary before he died, and to me it just shows that he was clearly one classy fun guy. Much thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues.

Goodbye to another decade, hello to a new one soon…

So in 10 days time, I will enter a new decade of my life. Holy crap – how did that happen? Now that I’ve handed in my final assignment for the year (barring a report on the Erasmus programme, but that’s not being marked!) and now I finally have some time to stop, think and catch my breath. Who knew that this wee lassie who dreamed of being a school teacher, ballerina and author (yep – I was ambitious)
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would turn into the much bigger lassie who is back at university for a second time?
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I’m really pleased that I have achieved a lot of things – some of which I never even dreamed of – in the last 30 years. I stood up to my teachers and refused to study Maths and entered university a year early despite them telling me doing such a thing would be a disaster (they were wrong). I got to dance on stage. I got to be in a Gilbert & Sullivan musical. I got a university degree. I went travelling around Europe with my friends. I have seen the sun rise and set over the Sahara Desert. I have been to the top of the Empire State Building and found the Alice in Wonderland Statues in Central Park. I’ve read great books. I have watched great films. I have had fun doing backing vocals in my years on church worship teams and at the Powerpoint youth event. I’ve been a bridesmaid and I am a godmother. I’ve surfed. I’ve hugged a koala. I’ve been on a train on the bridge/viaduct at Glenfinnan. I have cartwheeled (sorta) on many beaches and I’ve made great friends. I’ve even raised £100s for charity by bouncing on a spacehopper. I think my only regrets were not being able to continue with playing the cello and giving up dancing at 16. I wish I’d continued on with it during my final year at high school.

There are lots of things I’m looking forward to doing this year…to name a few

1. participating in Colour Me Rad for the Make-A-Wish Foundation

2. Going to visit my friend in Paris

3. Going to see gymnastics events at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow

There’s also a ton of stuff I’d love to do as well…for instance…

I’ve discovered the University language centre! Going on Erasmus has really made me want to go back to my love of languages and try and learn to communicate in other languages. I feel so ashamed that so many people learn English and I can only speak my mother tongue. I’ve taken out a learn French pack to try out, and I’ve noticed there is a Spanish one too.

I’m going to try running. I’ve downloaded the ‘Couch to 5k’ and we’ll see how I go. I’m well aware my knee and foot are a bit screwed up so I’m not going to push myself too much!

Doing more of the touristy things in Edinburgh! I’m hoping to get a membership to Edinburgh Zoo so I can just go pop in whenever I want.

Seeing more indie films at the independent cinemas. I may even try going to the cinema alone.

Saving up my money to do fun things with it – whether it be to give it away, go travelling or get another car as I really do struggle not having the freedom to drive to see friends who don’t live on my bus route or just to be able to drive out the city to go out for the day or weekend.

Researching my family history. I’ve been able to track my Nana’s lineage and thanks to my Uncle my Granny and Grandpa too. There are other things I’d like to find out, and my Grandad’s lineage is a total mystery to me. A trip to the Scotland’s People centre it will be.

 I’ll see how we go, but in the meantime, I’m going to try and get used to suddenly having more free time and do my best to use it productively. I hope my friends realise I want to see a lot more of them! :) I also need to plan how I’m going to celebrate my birthday. Other than having 3 fabby friends in Edinburgh for the weekend which I’m looking forward to most of all!

The Indie Life so far…

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So it’s been a couple of weeks since I started my ‘going indie’ challenge. On a week where I’ve been more stressed and tired than usual it’s been more of a challenge. The first big challenge came the other week when I was staying late at work and planned to go to the local noodle bar to get some food. And said noodle bar was shut. All of sudden I was without a plan, running out of time to get food before my next appointment. Usually that would have been an automatic local supermarket or Subway sandwich purchase. Instead I found a local cafe close by, went in, asked if they did takeaway, and I discovered they do! A panini and brownie was bought and it was fine.

And the brownie was about double the size of one you’d get in a certain coffee chain for probably around the same cost.

The up-side about ‘going indie’ is the relationships built. I’ve found that in the local cafes and shops, the staff are there for the longer haul, and they take the time to get to know their customers. I’ve been going to the same local cafe for a number of years near my work, and during the last few weeks I’ve been given Active Kids vouchers for my Guide unit by the manager, and a free bag of popcorn – as they are trying out different brands to sell. Propercorn is different but quite nice!

The most recent challenge is that I’m currently nocturnal writing an essay for university. I haven’t had time to do a proper food shop and my food supply is running out. Oh the temptation to jump into my Mum’s car at 1 a.m. and nip down to the nearest 24hr metropolitan hypermarket store.

All in all, I’m enjoying this process even with it’s challenges. It’s amazing how much I’m discovering how many of my habits come through choosing out of convenience.

Here’s hoping for more discoveries of places on the lead up to Easter Sunday!

Wednesday HodgePodge makes a brief comeback

It’s been a while since I did a HodgePodge as most Tuesdays for the last 6 months I’ve been travelling through to Glasgow at 8 a.m., going straight to our Soul Surfer community evenings and getting to bed around Midnight…and going to work the next morning. However, today I’m at home writing an essay sooo I thought I’d spring back into the HodgePodge this week… (others might call it procrastination).

1. Thursday marks the first day of spring…to celebrate would you rather plant a garden or go for a walk in the woods? Would either of those activities be possible on Thursday where you live?

I’d rather walk in the woods. I’m most definitely not a gardener. My friends Nicola and Vicky have over the last few years inspired me with a desire to try out growing my own fruit and veg, but I do not enjoy gardening at all so I think this is more of a fantasy notion than something that will become reality! Technically it is possible, there are some woods on a hill that go around Edinburgh Zoo, but I’ll likely be at work or at home/cafe/library studying.

2. When did someone last spring something on you? (or when did you last spring something on someone?)

My uni lecturer sprung on me that I wouldn’t be conducting my ‘Freirian Learning Experience’ on 25th Feb as I previously thought on my last days in Germany. Which I found out through another classmate rather than from him. Instead, I had to do it last week, and so I’m only getting to do my assignment now the same week as a lot of things are going on at work. I wasn’t too chuffed!

3. We often think of spring as a time for new beginnings. What’s something you’d like to start doing this spring?

Spring isn’t usually that time for me – Autumn is.  However, I have decided to try and go ‘indie’ - by shopping more locally. It’s something I’d like to continue doing, and it’s quite challenging and really making me think about organising myself, where I’m spending and what I consume out of convenience.

4. Where do you like to sit in a movie theatre? When did you last sit there, and what were you watching?

I like to be near the back. I went to the cinema on Saturday with my Mamma Bear and we saw The Grand Budapest Hotel but we ended up being more in the middle of the room where it was being screened. I missed a number of films being busy with uni, work and being away at university in Germany for two weeks last month. I was in the back row in January when my friend and I saw The Railway Man which meant I got to view the entire theatre just sitting in silence as the credits rolled. It was a powerful, poignant moment.

5. When you meet someone for the very first time, what do you want them to think about you?

I hope that they find me friendly, kind and care about things.

6. March is frozen food month (yes, really!). Besides ice cream (gotta make you think a little) what’s your most often purchased frozen food item?

I rarely buy anything from the frozen food section. I buy ice lollies (popsicles to you Americans I think?) and ice cream in summertime. I may buy some frozen berries to put in my porridge (oatmeal) in winter time. But that’s it.

7. What’s something you avoid?

Anything that might make me be sick or mean that I’ll see or hear someone be sick. I’m severely emetophobic. My classmates were awesome about it when we were flying to Germany which I really appreciated.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I was super pleased that the Today Show shared the PSA from Dublin Airport about how you should NEVER call Ireland’s patron saint ‘Patty’ yesterday (Monday):

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Just in case you’re still confused, Irish name for Patrick is Pádraig  and people called Patrick in both Ireland or Scotland are known as ‘Paddy‘ which is a diminutive form of Patrick.  Patty is short for Patricia.

There’s even a twitter account now @PaddyNotPatty pointing out tweets like these:

“It is st patty’s day for st Patrick. Paddy is an old slang for an Irish person” 

“When did the internetz change it to Paddy?”

So if you were one of the people that has been getting muddled, they will forgive you. But please correct your greetings next year. And the paddynotpatty team correct you in good jest (and because it’s a major pet peeve of the Irish). Spread the word to fellow celebrators of the blarney in the continent of North America. :)

Things you wouldn’t think needed to be said…

You know how you get ridiculous signs or warnings on things that make you think ‘well, DUH!’ and then immediately wonder which person in a state of idiocy attempted doing something you obviously shouldn’t do?

Well, a friend of mine noticed this on the list of items you are prohibited to take on the carriage of a Eurostar train. Just in case you were thinking the answer to packing less clothes was to take a washing machine be warned Eurostar travellers the following items are prohibited from the train carriage:

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Numerous images popped into my head…

Firstly of someone arguing with Eurostar staff that they want to take their own armchair on the train for  a comfier journey. Or perhaps a berka lounger.

Secondly who has a suitcase big enough to carry a large plasma tv screen in?

And the obvious (to me) question of: WHO THE HECK WOULD ASSUME THAT YOU COULD TAKE A DISHWASHER ON A TRAIN AND PUT IT IN THE CARRIAGE LUGGAGE RACK?!!

You can read the full list here and please note that they were assuming you knew you couldn’t smoke in the train toilet or clamber over a seat (which begs the question – is standing on the seat to get your luggage in the overhead shelves ok? I do that on trains regularly because I’m too short to reach otherwise).

The mind boggles really.

Or is that just my mind?