One Small Step for a Craft Potato…

Avid readers of my blog (and indeed pretty much anyone who actually knows me) will be very much aware of what a big fan I am of “chillaxing’”. In fact, this very weekend I chilled to the max and it was excellent. TMM was out for most of the day on Saturday, getting Hans von Manshaft MOT’ed (he passed, hurray!) and meeting up with old friends and left me to my own devices. I did intend to do a lot of cleaning and real person stuff, like laundry and taxes. In reality I read LOTS and ate my own body weight in pancakes, which possibly did not quite achieve all that I had hoped. This really isn’t to be unexpected though. Partly this is because I love to take a casual relaxation day, and my god am I lazy. My life is made up of 50% slobbing and 50% complaining about not being able to slob. (This isn’t to say I am not plagued by anxiety fuelled guilt trips worrying about all the things I should be doing, but I’ve come to realise that if the book is good, the bed is comfy and the chocolate snacks are plentiful, you can really block out those negative thoughts for a while).

The other reason is that whilst TMM isn’t around, I have the sneaking suspicion that I forgot how to human. I’m mildly concerned that I’m not actually a person at all, but instead am a soft squishy marshmallow in disguise and I’ve gotten lost in the real world with TMM as my carer/guide. I really feel this should concern me, but mainly it means that when left unsupervised, I just dance manically around the house in my pjs to early 00s soft rock like I’m Cameron Diaz in basically every film she’s in.

Ultimately though, it meant not much was actually done on Saturday but I was in a rather cheery mood when TMM returned.

Buck equally understands the necessity of doing nothing. We were very calm together.

It’s at this juncture that an issues arises though. Although I revel in my laziness (I really am just too good at doing nothing), it does mean I spend a lot of time lying on the floor looking at the ceiling and being conflicted about my complete lack of motivation to do anything. A rather disproportionate chunk of my life is spent being disappointed at the fact that I am not the Xena: Warrior Princess I want to be and nowhere near enough time is actually spent doing something to change it. I like to blame most of this on my anxiety but it’s a cop out really. I want to learn kickboxing SO BADLY, but nobody can actually help me do anything about it until I make the effort and sulking about how difficult I find it isn’t going to win me any shiny big kickboxing trophies.  (Though, if there is some gentle yet serious martial arts guru wants to take me under their muscly wing and teach me mad self-protection skills whilst ignoring my horribly awkward attempts at conversation and not making me interact with any other person, that would be grand. Basically I want Vin Diesel to adopt me.) It harks back to my un-resolution idea though – small yet positive steps. I spend a so much time rehashing the same thing over again, but little actions towards a bigger goal are better than no actions at all. It’s a bit pathetic in some respects, but in others it actually means I can aim to achieve something without stressing out or having to give up my fantastical lazing abilities.

To that end,  I made TMM spend £40 in Lesbian Craft on Sunday in preparation for Christmas (though admittedly the decoupage festive stag head was a luxury we didn’t necessarily need, but by god we wanted it). *Side note – Lesbian Craft is the affectionate nickname we gave to Hobby Craft a few years a go. There was a period where we went there quite regularly, and it was always filled with happy looking lesbian couples in their mid 40s looking for projects. TMM and I fit right in).

Let me explain my thought process for you here. Christmas is 20% magic and 406% preparation. Now, the festive season doesn’t hold quite as much magic for me as it used to (what with family being spread far and wide and me being enough of a grown up to actually try and get people useful presents rather than adorable yet completely awful craft projects). This means that in order to fully squeeze all the joy I can from the season, I have to avoid all the pitfalls and stress inducing panics by making sure that I am ready when it comes around.

It started when someone at work mentioned how she had already started preparing her kids presents (using my Amazon Prime I might add) and although I initially mocked her, the more I thought about her levels of preparation, the more I realised this could assist me. Small steps now lead to more boxes full of wrapped presents before the decorations are even out in the shops and less hours spent traipsing round the Boots 3 for 2 sale in the first week of December with baskets full of gifts nobody wants.

To that end, I’ve start the annual Charismas Present Spread Sheet for 2017, listing every person who needs a present and what ideas I have for them. There’s a colour scheme (white for nothing or a possible idea, yellow for half done (e.g. ordered/partly made), green for complete, and blue for wrapped) though I’ve taken off the costing column this time around, because that upsets me and means I spend far too much time scrabbling through receipts and calculating things instead of enjoying the nature of just giving.

My hope is that, if I can aim to have half the presents finished by November, there won’t be the annual panic induced crying fest and hysterical over buying of tat. Instead, there will be a sedate pacing of spending and wrapping (which will all be done by TMM, because I’m sure we all remember last year’s wrapping fiasco), and by the time it actually comes around to December, it will just be the finishing touches that need to be sorted. I also want to try and make a lot of presents this year (ignoring the bit before where I mentioned about how I’m trying to be helpful and not just provide people with useless craft tat), because I A) enjoy craft and get a bit upset sometimes when it’s not for a purpose, B) want to try and get rid of some of the craft stock piles I’ve built up over the years (again, let’s ignore the bit where I made TMM spend £40 in Hobby Craft) and C) am desperately trying to save money because if I want to be a real boy with a house and a husband of my very own, I’m going to need to tone down the reckless spending a bit and aim to save my wages instead.

Once again, I seem to have waffled upon the theme of self-improvement – you’d think I’d stop talking about it and actually do something, wouldn’t you…

 

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Confessions of a Serial Storyteller…

Bonjourno dear readers, I hope we are all well and contented on this fine Tuesday?

Not to be overdramatic but I’m definitely dying. I’ve somehow managed to damage my shoulder and after three days of wincing and sulking and wearing a heat pack like a security blanket, it’s obviously getting close to the end. I’m going to have another bath tonight (which will make two in two days – unheard of as I am not a big fan of a bath AT ALL) and watch an episode of Due South like a big water slug in the hope it will loosen up the knot and allow my to actually mobilise again.

In other news, I have struggled a bit with inspiration for a post this week – I am loathed to post a the same kind of thing week in and week out. Most blog “How To Guides” state categorically that you have to find a ‘niche’ in the market and stick to it – apparently people don’t like it when their bloggers try and go for a bit of variety. I, however, think that sounds a bit like B*S*. Whilst my life is obviously an endless rave and the most exciting thing ever, I can’t help but feel like most people aren’t going to care that much about what I do on a daily basis. Instead, I’d like to flit between topics, like a delightful little hummingbird amongst the flowers. Why limit myself to the same old thing when I can do posts on my favourite books, intriguing facts and hilarious life anecdotes?  To that end, my blog has resembled a drunk gently lurching from subject to subject over the past few months, but who am I to fight the creative urge? Admittedly, if anybody is particularly offended (or indeed has any suggestions on topics/mediums they’d like me to cover) I am all internet based ears.

This week, it was suggested by a pal that I look to do a short story. Now, as I may have previously mentioned (I definitely have) I am often drowning in stories, one liners, hilarious character descriptions and the like. Most of them never really go anywhere, but I suppose it’s time to share a couple of them with the big wide world. Neither of these two are particularly long (handy I suppose, seeing as they’re short stories) and both are prompt based. A lot of what I write springs from someone else’s idea (yay for “homage”!) and gives me a springboard to bounce my thoughts off. I’m not sure if it counts as original work when the spark comes from someone else, but where they end up is usually somewhere all of my own creation so I’m not too fussed.

The first story is a little snippet based on an artist called Chiara Bautista and her gorgeous work. I don’t even know where I first saw her stuff (probably Pinterest) but I’ve now followed a couple of her social media sites and the art she produces is amazing. It’s hard not to be inspired by them really…

The Moon and Her Night Sky

She is made of pure white. Her skin, her hair, her eyes, her blood – they are all the same brilliant sheen. She sits cross legged against the darkness and glows, marred only by the shadow that flows across her body as the month moves on. A thin crescent of grey curves around her hips and grows to a full cloak shrouding her for days at a time, but soon it slips away and leaves her radiant against the darkness again.

He is made up of dark swirling colours and a midnight pelt. Sometimes he is small enough that he can walk by her side, her hand resting gently on his head and her pale fingers slipping into the rough fur on his crown. Sometimes he is big enough that she can ride upon his back, hunched low down over his neck with her face buried into the gap between his ears as they speed across the Earth. Mostly though, he stands next to her on two legs, his hinged knees pushing him forward, his hunched back allowing him to tilt his head close to hers so he can hear her whispers.

They travel together, moving forward endlessly.

Aren’t they just sublime?

~

Story the second comes from two sources – a Hall and Oates song (I mean why not) and a silhouette of a woman smoking that I can remember vividly but can’t find for the life of me. It must be about 7 years old now and has moved through 3 phones, two memory sticks and one scrap piece of paper glued into a notebook.

I Can’t Go For That

She stares at him, her heavy lidded eyes slatted and a thin tendril of smoke rising lazily from her pursed lips. He swallows as she crosses her legs, a flash of pale skin drawing his eye.

“Well?”

He blinks, trying to gather his scattered thoughts. Running a finger between his neck and his increasingly constricting collar, he tries to remember why it was he’d decided to say no in the first place.

“I-I can’t,” he stutters, hating the weak tremor he can hear in his own voice.

She raises a carefully shaped eyebrow and rests the unlit cigarette on the glass ashtray set on the table next to her. She leans forward and it takes all of his rapidly declining self control not to let his eyes flick down.

“It’s not that difficult. It’s practically a joyride compared to some of the other things”.

He licks his dry lips nervously and shakes his head.

“No. Not this time. Not this.”

Her head tilts to one side and her tongue darts out from between her perfectly white teeth and devastatingly red lips..

“You said you’d do anything.”

“Almost anything”.

She laughs and leans back, another cloudy wisp of smoke curling past her lips.

“So this is where you draw the line?”

He nods, a sharp jerk of the head. She smirks and it terrifies him.

“Well, there’s still time”

He shivers as he feels the tell-tale whisper against the back of his neck.

“There’s only so much a man can attach to his soul.”

hall and oate

I mean – how can you not be inspired by these fine figures of masculinity? Look at the HAIR!

~

So there you have it. Some tiny little snapshots into my Notes function on my phone. Two down – only another 57 to go…

Something to write home about…

So over the last few days a lot of politics has occurred and once again nobody really has a clue what’s going on, which doesn’t really make much of a difference to how everything usually is. Still, record numbers of young people went out to vote so it can’t be all bad. I remain mostly detached from the situation (I research, I vote, I still despair), but I am now at least a little less cynical towards the voting public. The fact that UKIP have no seats has instilled a small light of faith within my soul.

On a slightly more personal note, we’ve had new flooring in the bathroom(s) and finally the dreaded carpet is no more. HOORAY! I can now leave the shower and not have to cringe at the feel of shag-pile under my wet toes. I have smooth, stylish linoleum to look forward to after my next shower, and I’ve also realised (somewhat sadly) it means that cleaning will be much easier. Everything will be delightful and wipe clean and  I will actually be able to remove splodges of escaped hair dye rather than trying to smush it about and sighing exasperatedly. This is just another step towards my big house cleaning overhaul and I have to say, considering how much I hate it, we’re not doing too badly. The upstairs is nearly done now (still got the back room and the jewellery to do, and we also need to rearrange the bathroom(s) after the flooring) but I’m feeling V POSITIVE. LOOK HOW POSITIVE I AM (so positive). TMM I think is feeling slightly less positive due to my rather hysterical mania, but he’ll be happy enough once it’s done I’m sure. I’m also in full swing with the bedroom gallery wall I’ve recently decided I desperately need in order to compliment my upcycled bedside cabinets. One giant tropical print (+ homemade frame) is just waiting for hooks, and I’ve got 5 smaller prints (frames to be sanded) on their way. Hopefully everything will be in place by next week’s post and you’ll be able to see my new paradise for yourselves.


 New Floor. Check out that artful slate design. Though it would have been nice if the fitter had at least pretended to clean up after himself.

 In other news, you may have noticed our new Instagram account too (because we have been flogging that horse like there’s no tomorrow) @curiousreads. For those of you who haven’t (a bit rude), we’ve decided to join the hipster masses and make our own “bookstagram” – an instagram account that allows us to display our deep love of books through my English Degree and TMM’s pretty decent photography. In order to get our “social media presence” out there, TMM has had a bee in his bonnet and has not allowed me to rest on my laurels. I’ve been churning out reviews left, right and centre, and we’ve even roped in some friends to provide some guest opinions too.

Now that the first week is done with, I’m allowed to calm down a bit and we’re going to aim for 1-2 reviews a week, rather than 1-2 a day. Half the work is already done in that TMM has already got an excellent stock of photos prepared, and we’ve put together a rather repulsive number of stock #s that can be copied and pasted onto each post to draw in the punters. However, this does mean that, somewhat peevishly, I’m left to cobble together some thoughts to match the books that we can get out there. 

I sound somewhat bitter about this and I honestly don’t mean to. I love writing. I mean I really LOVE it. I have over 50 notes on my phone – a technological advancement from the countless number of notebooks that are still scattered over 3 houses (mine and my respective parents’) and it is rare I go through a week without writing something. Admittedly that sounds a bit better than it is – in no way am I the Ernest Hemingway of my day. I might have hundreds upon thousands of ideas but getting them on paper (electronic or otherwise) can sometimes prove a little tricky. I like to think that my strengths lie in the quality and not quantity of the work. Not to toot my own trumpet, but I’m great at short snippets. Single lines pop into my head that suggest a novels’ worth of hilarious content. Whole plot arcs spring, fully formed if not at all fleshed out, to the forefront of my mind and beg to be marked down. Characters for stories I don’t have, or stories for character’s that don’t belong to me sit patiently, waiting to be allowed to do something rather than just hang about in the dark waiting room of my mind drinking lukewarm tea and flicking through outdated magazines.

To succinctly put it, I’m great at writing single scenes, completely in detail (often with stage directions and everything) that have no place or setting, and just float about, popping up now and again just to remind me not to forget them.

Now, whilst it can be quite annoying for me, and is really starting to take up too much room in people’s cupboards and my phone’s memory, it has never been a huge problem. I’ll never be a great novelist, but I might eventually get around to publishing something small. I am happy in the, possibly somewhat fatalistic notion, that there’s no rush and I’ll get there eventually.

However now that I’m being but to the test, I’ve realised that the trouble with the whole situation is having to do what I do to a deadline. Writing to a time constraint (be it mine or someone else’s) isn’t the greatest, but I think that’s more due to my natural butterfly like nature of fluttering around rather than a lack of ability. Typically, the urge to write (which is strong within me) arises at the most inopportune moments or places; just as I’m about to drop off to sleep, in the back of a car late at night, walking home from work. However, the moment I try and set myself down to write something with intent and purpose, my brain is immediately blank and all that can be found within is bubbles bouncing around like an early 2000s windows screen saver. When you’ve promised to update a weekly blog though, or agreed to provide numerous book reviews, this isn’t really acceptable.

I am fighting to combat this though; another one of my #NotAResolutions. This very blog has been good encouragement to try and break this sporadic writing habit, instead forcing me to write something once a week (no matter how much like garbage it is). This new bookstagram is hopefully going to be another useful technique – if I can write a 20-30 word review on command, I’m almost half way to being able to write a full length novel! Sometimes, admittedly, the whole process does still find me sat on the kitchen floor staring at my phone with a rather ferocious frown, muttering petulantly about “how it’s just like homework and I’m a grown up I shouldn’t have homework anymore”, but I think I’m getting better. Like most habits, repetition is key, and If I can (mostly) keep a weekly blog going, I can definitely do an bookstagram. Honest.

 

Look how profesh this Bookstgram Front Page is!

 

 

My Sunday Scene – Sunshine, Screws and Sanding

Now I must start today’s post with a little apology, as I have been somewhat remiss in my writerly duties recently and left you all sadly lacking in blog posts. I would like to be able to give you valid excuse for my absence; like how I was too busy fighting deadly ninja bears or coming up with a plan to end world hunger, but mainly I was a bit busy and lacking in any kind of inspirational spark. This week I will be much better though and keep you all thoroughly updated. You’ll no doubt be proud to hear that I’ve been continuing in my action plan of regular planking, cross training and watching Fast and Furious. My motivational work out wall has some new members (shout out to Vin Diesel’s tank top and Gal Gadot who is just repulsively perfect) and I feel their patiently encouraging stares as I sweat my way unhappily to fitness. We’re going to be taking on the Press Up Challenge next week (oh joy, oh rapture), though I think there might be a couple of false starts with that one. I can’t even remember the last time I tried a press up, and with my weirdly locking elbows there is the slight concern I might get into a position and then never be able to get out again. Still Ross assures me there is at least one wash board ab hiding somewhere in my noodly body, and hopefully I’ll be able to keep going until I can see it.

Motivation Wall.jpg The Motivation Wall. There are some bonus pictures round the fireplace and a lovely shirtless one of Captain America that is stuck to the inside of the kitchen cupboard door – providing motivation whilst preparing lunches 😀

Continuing in my action vibe, I’ve been very social this weekend. We had Granddad Pendlebury’s 80th birthday party on Friday night, and we were out until 1am (which was a shock to the system for both of us) having a jolly old time. Saturday was spent in Manchester for a friend’s birthday with a good rabble of people. We visited many lovely bars, had many lovely beverages and I spent a good hour or so deliberating the merits of selling body parts for money in order to fund my dream of becoming a stinkingly rich Contessa living on the coast somewhere. I often forget how much I miss Manchester and it’s nice to be reminded of what a lovely city it is now and then. Even though I was born and bred there, I still sometimes get a bit panicky about having to wander around with that many people (god I’m such a wimp), but after a little “What Would Stu Do” chat (curtsy of my ridiculously social dad), and a hipster pub or two, I’m back in the groove. We were home slightly earlier than the previous night (read about 9pm), but I still had to have a good 12 hour nap to recover for all the excitement.

I also branched out to carpentry as well this week. After replacing the diaphragm on the toilet (fyi – don’t google diaphragms on the work pc), and changing a tyre, I’m now convinced I’m the new improved Handy Andy and can turn my hand to pretty much any task. This time, I made the executive decision that we should make a coffee table from scratch. There were a selection of influences leading to this – mainly the fact that our original coffee table had a rather disturbing lean (one leg was making a desperate bid for freedom in an upsettingly creaky manner) and that Pinterest encouraged me to believe that hipster DIY is clearly a far superior choice to buying something. After much deliberating, we decided pallets were the way forward and I then spent the next three weeks bullying The Man Muffin to bring some home from work.

Cut to a few days later and I’m pinning things left, right and centre and bombarding my friend Em for guidance over what kind of drill I want and which make of electric sander will work best. She was very supportive and I am now the proud parent of a Black and Decker Mouse sander and a lovely blue driver drill (you can tell it was pay day, can’t you?). There were emails flying all over the place with various tutorials and pictures requesting TMM’s approval and the weekend was set aside (weather pending) for our creative endeavour.

The fun started when, possibly true to form, we got outside on the Sunday morning, tooled up and raring to go only to realise the pallets we actually had weren’t quite the same as the ones we imagined we had, and our original plan was gracefully thrown out of the window. Somewhat depressingly, most of the things Ross and I attempt start with four hundred years of planning and end up with a slapdash half an hour of panic and the table wasn’t really much different. Still though, I don’t think it came out too badly in the end. I spent about 2.5 hours sanding the pallets down (I had, quite literally, all of the fun with that – my hands went numb at one point and I had to be forcefully told to take a break), TMM did some lovely painting (and got it all over his nice new jeans *facepalm*) and then was a fun five minutes trying to match up wooden pegs with drilled holes that did not go anywhere near as smoothly as we imagined whilst Bucky serenaded us loudly (and unhelpfully) from the kitchen. We persevered though and everyone got to use the new drill, nobody cried and we now have a lovely new table (with wheels) and limited storage space (so we can’t continue to hoard crap) in pride of place.

 

Just look at the action going on right there. I’ve even got gloves

 Seeing as how we are now two pieces of furniture handmade up, I’ve (somewhat punch drunkenly) told TMM that from now on we can just make everything we need and live like Tom and Barbara in the Good Life. I’m not too sure that I’ve thought through the logistics of that particularly thoroughly, but I’ve got a pair of denim dungarees, a new tool belt on the way and a bucket load of gumption – so what can go wrong?

 

I got Bills, I gotta pay…so I’m gonna run, run, run, runaway!

Happy Tuesday folks!

Or not as the case may be. Let me tell you, Tuesday’s are actually my most hated day of the whole week (as most of my colleagues hear from me regularly). You see, unlike a Monday, which is blatant in it’s suckiness, Tuesday sidles up and hits you when you least expect it. With Monday, you’re ready to hate it and can go into the day fully prepared to be grumpy and bitter about the whole situation. Tuesday though, Tuesday is all like “oh hey, at least I’m not a Monday, am I right?” and pretends to be great, but then BAM, it’s halfway through Tuesday morning and you’re losing the will to live because it’s not even like it’s halfway through the week and you didn’t realise but there’s still so long to go and Tuesday is just cackling in your ear.

Though with all that being said, Tuesday is Blog Day, so I shall endeavour to try and find amusing anecdotes to bring some joy to the worst of days. This week’s post is going to herald yet more adventures of “Eleanor Tries to Adult”, so strap in.

This new set of problems started after yet another depressive episode of looking at my bank account a week after pay day and realising I’m already walking the tightrope of poverty. It was dedcided (read – I decided and bullied Ross into helping) that it was time to look at … The Bills (dun dun duuuuuuun!)

Jesus Christ, could I enjoy anything less? Like, why is this a thing I need to do? I don’t understand?! There’s suppliers and tariffs and packages and I literally have no idea what any of it means. It’s only by sheer force of internal pressure that I didn’t do what I normally do (which is just to throw it all up in the air and try and rationalise paying extra money for less stress.) But no, not this time. I am fed up of being overdrawn and I need a new couch that doesn’t collapse whenever someone sits on it, which I feel shouldn’t be too much to ask at the ripe old age of 25. This year is the start of better eating, better moving and better billing. I mean, I say that whilst slumped in my chair making my way doggedly through a packet of cheesy Doritos, but it’s the thought that counts.

There have been excel spread sheets drawn up (fully coloured-coded, obviously), various websites trawled through, a couple of mini panics and one incidence of lying on the floor and wailing pathetically. The Man Muffin and I are well known for our tendency to jump straight to anxiety and try and bury our heads in the sand, but I have to say I think we’ve done alright this time. We spent last week at the dining room table with a laptop, a printed out spread sheet and twin looks of pure terror, but we did manage to pay all the bills that were outstanding, which is a definite start. This week is going to be dedicated to researching better tariffs and doing every possible thing we can to save money. I’m not sure how well it will go as I HATE using the phone and TMM is well known for his security related panics (he’s a superstar, but he is a delicate blade of grass in the onslaught of relentless aggression of companies demanding details), but it’s got to be worth it.

I have been looking into “uSwitch” recently (check me and my bad grown up self put) which does seem to be almost suspiciously easy. Ross is going to have to be in charge of what we actually need to change (because as slightly ashamed as I am to admit it, I still don’t really know what we actually have/need to pay for – I live in a world where the water and gas is brought magically into the house by fairies), but I am going to be on hand for IT support, brow mopping and the occasional face slap when he becomes hysterical. Though if it as easy as the internet says, hopefully too many slaps won’t be required. I will update you as to how it goes and whether we end up victorious and rolling in our saved pennies, or going on the run and living in my mum’s shed so we don’t have to pay anything ever again (don’t tell anyone, but I’m secretly hoping for the latter).

In more positive news though, I am now able to plank for a whole 60 seconds (though good lord does it hurt) and I have cross trained for a total of 30 minutes. Ross is like some weird exercise Hercules and has been doing regular early (SO EARLY) morning slots – though there is nothing more hilarious than seeing him cross train in his pants and granddad slippers. At the rate this is going, we’ll be bronzed and buff for when summer comes, and (hopefully) will have even saved enough money to go to a beach somewhere and display ourselves.  

 cross trainer

The dreaded cross trainer and the pair of abandoned slippers…

We’ve also had some pals down this weekend, which was totes the loveliest. We chatted, we escaped a locked room (through much high pitched giggling and panic), watched a whole season of Ex on the Beach (simultaneously the worst and best program of all time) and then drank a disgusting amount. I was somewhat outraged that even though 6 bottles of wine were consumed by others, I suffered one of the worst hangovers after 1 bottle of Radlers (basically slightly alcoholic lemonade) and 1 glass of Caribbean Twist (slightly less alcoholic juice) which I nursed boringly throughout the night. I am obviously now made of much softer stuff than I was during my wild years of University, where hangovers were something to be laughed at and Sundays after binges could be spent being action. This Sunday I mainly got emotional at Nigella Lawson preparing a feta salad, took a trip to Aldi looking like something out of a teen zombie movie and then went to bed at about 9. My rock and roll cannot be contained.

 Escape

Look, you can barely even see the hysteria in our eyes!

Things are looking up though (considering it’s STILL Tuesday). The sun is shining more often than not now, I’m still cooking at least 3 times a week and it’s just under a month until the April Bank Holiday. One should never sneeze at the small things.

 

You come to me on this, the week after the weekend of my engagement…

So perhaps somewhat ironically after last week’s blog lambasting the Valentine tradition, this post comes to you straight from the fingers of a now officially betrothed lady! It is quite likely that you haven’t actually seen anything about this turn of events because we definitely haven’t plastered it all over Facebook like the social media slags that we are. We have been terribly coy and understated about the whole affair really.

I have to say though, the response to our announcement has been delightful and a little overwhelming. It’s rather heart-warming to know that so many people are invested and encouraging of our relationship, and the amount of champagne gifts we have received is awesome (even if Ross says they are too posh to make French Onion Soup out of and has moved them onto the bookshelf out of my reach).

As to the engagement itself – it was superb. Considering I typically shy away from most situations involving public displays of affection and show most of my love for Ross through creative insults, I have to say it went rather swimmingly. Admittedly, it was perhaps not quite the magical mystery proposal that Man Muffin might have been hoping for (sadly there is a chap that will never be able to join the secret services. I don’t even need to ask him anything and he’s spilling all his secrets like a bag of rice with a hole in the bottom), but I honestly think that might have been a bit better for us. I was already riding on the crest of the hysteria wave, and if I hadn’t known what was waiting at the end, I probably wouldn’t have made it. As it was I’d already endured the rushed panic of “oh god what if I say the wrong thing” and had to be threatened with a good slapping by the Woo-ster before I could calm down.

hagrid

Ross, or Hagrid as he is now affectionately known.

Preparation-wise though, I do have to hand it to the big softie; he pulled out all the stops. He always promised me a treasure hunt, and boy did he deliver spectacularly. There was nearly a slight mix up with the timings (my hair cut finished earlier than expected and my handlers had to cancel some breakfast dates to get me on time) but by 12pm I was delivered safely to the car park outside my old Uni digs; a cello-taped envelope clutched in my sweaty hand bearing the strictest instructions to remain unopened until otherwise instructed. When I was finally given the nod, the contents were revealed to be a selection of smaller numbered envelopes each containing a photo of the pair of us (looking pretty fly throughout our 7 year relationship, I can tell you), and beautifully handwritten clues guiding me to various locations around campus.

Now I do have to say that whilst the clues were each expertly crafted, I was about as useful as a chocolate teapot and had to be nudged in the right direction a few times by my trusty support team (big gay shout out to Sarah and Jon) who were equally as hysterical as I was, but thoroughly enjoying their responsibilities. There was a lot of time spent shouting “ON THIS, THE DAY OF MY ENGAGEMENT” at unsuspecting passers by in the style of the Godfather, but we did actually keep to the plan. We visited the bar where Ross and I first met, old accommodations, the library, the observatory and had a lovely little walk around the woods (because even though I knew where the clue led, I have all the directional sense of a jelly and was never actually going to get us all the way there without incident) before coming to the end outside of Keele Hall. After a serious nudging in the right direction and a hurried semaphore conversation as Jon directed Ross to hide behind a bush, I rounded the corner to be presented with a huge bouquet of flowers and a rather pink faced Man Muffin.

We proceeded to stand about half a mile apart dithering whilst he awkwardly shrugged and said “so, do you maybe wanna…” and I thrust my hand at him with a shrill squeaking sound. Cue much snogging, opening of bucks fizz and hilarious photos.

MONTAGE!!!!!!

Now I do have to say before I sign off for the week that I really don’t think I’m any different. People keep asking how it feels to be engaged, and if I’m perfectly frank it feels very much like not being engaged, only now I have to remember to put my ring back on after a shower. Though honestly, I really don’t think there’s much Ross and I could do to change our relationship – we might both be useless at life, but we’re pretty much just right for each other.

Love in the Time of Commercialism

Hello my lovely little cabbages. I must apologise because I’ve been a bit remiss in posting recently – I’ve been distressingly busy and spent all my free time either napping or lying face down on the floor groaning. Ross had to threaten to return my boots (which were a gift to myself for starting and maintain a blog) to spur me into action. And let’s be honest, I can’t really let this date go past with some kind of personal commentary now, can I?

Now, as you may or may not be aware (though if you’re not you must have managed to avoid going into any shop anywhere for the last two weeks – bloody hearts everywhere!) today is Valentine’s Day. On the whole, I’ve always been a bit of a misog at heart and have never really enjoyed this particular international revel. When you’re single, I like to think the more appropriate title is “Single Awareness Day” which I remember celebrating a few years ago by visiting a Starbucks in Manchester with some friends and having a cup of hot chocolate over a romantic tea light, and when you’re in a relationship, it mainly just induces panic buying and an influx of unnecessary expenses.

xkcd

This is an Xkcd comic (for which I take no credit) that I find hilariously relevant each year. If I actually had to be serious and do presents and giant romantic gestures, I would definitely end up with my hand stapled to my face.

Thankfully the Man Muffin isn’t too fussed about Valentine’s Day (or at least that’s what he tells me…) and we let the occasion slide by without a hoohar. There was the year he brought me a giant card and a cuddly puppy toy holding a heart with the express purpose of making me cringe (and possibly testing the boundaries of my conviction to avoidance) but we try not to talk about that because it gives me the heebie-jeebies. I think he probably wouldn’t mind celebrating if I were that type of girl, but I’ve told him to count his blessings that I don’t expect him to go through the seemingly typical rigmarole of standing in line at Pandora being eyed up by the bouncer in order to buy me an overpriced and tasteless charm for a bracelet I’ll never wear…Gosh you can just feel my distaste through the screen, can’t you?!

Now, I really wanted to be snotty and annoying (which I often do) I could give you a brief history of the day. I could talk about how Valentine was actually a Christian who was arrested and shipped of to Emperor Claudius II in Rome for aggressively bigging up Christianity, and although originally liked by the emperor, he was eventually condemned to death by being beaten with clubs and finally beheaded. I mean, what says “I love you” like celebrating the day a man was brutally killed for expressing his religious beliefs by pandering to money making schemes wrapped in a gaudy red bow?

But I shan’t do that. Because that would be petty and I am a mature and responsible lady now. Honest.

However, what I will do is admit that I am one of those annoying people who belongs to the judgey hipster crowds that thinks if you’re in a relationship when you like each other enough to buy gifts, you might as well do it whenever the hell you feel like it rather than waiting for a specific day. Ross buys me flowers just because he seems them in the shop and thinks they look pretty, which I think is bloody lovely. There’s no commitment to a date or panicked responsibilities, there’s just a lovely little bouquet on the front seat of the car and a sheepish smile on his face when he picks me up from work on a random Wednesday night.

So after those last two paragraphs it might not sound like it, but I am actually happy for other people to do Valentine’s Day however they want. If you want a certain day full of rose petals and heart shaped chocolates and helium balloons with tiny naked Cupid butts on them, you just go right ahead. I’m going to just sit in the side lines and wait for all the shiny banners and stupidly oversized cards to make way for the truly vomit-inducing amount of Easter Eggs that I know are hiding in the stockrooms.

Perhaps somewhat hypocritically though, I am completely and irrevocably in love with the notion of Galentine’s Day. Originating from Parks and Rec (still one of the best programs ever, don’t even doubt it) it’s a day when you get to joyously celebrate your gal pals (please be aware I equally encourage boys to celebrate their lady friends in a non-romantic way, and also girls and boys to celebrate their male chums in a Palentine’s celebration, or maybe a Guyentine?). Mainly I think I’ve been drawn in by the “code” – Hoes before Bros. Ovaries before Broveries. Uteruses before Duderuses and the excuse to get my mum some truly tasteless gifts (just you wait Mother, I’ve got a great one for you this weekend).

parksvalentine1galentines-day

These pictures are brought to you by the show Parks and Rec and the goddess that is Leslie Knope. #KnopeforPresident

Though I suppose in the end it doesn’t matter either way whether or not I like Valentine’s more or less than Galentine’s, or indeed if anybody else does. It’s just about being generally lovely and delightful to each other and spending a little time whenever you can to make sure your nearest and dearest know you love them, especially in a world that’s getting scarier by the minute.