Archive for June, 2013

June 27, 2013

Converse All Stars

I love my Converse. Apart from the occasional foray into my ‘grown-up’ shoes and summer sandals, I’m generally to be found in a pair of worn out All Stars. So, my birthday gift this year – a pair of bright red high tops – was perfect. I love them. And so does my daughter. She’s already decided that she needs a pair too, in pink and that my son needs a pair too, in blue. Though if he gets his own way, he’ll be in pink too, which is fair enough.

But her love for them has made me worry a little. Am I too old for Converse? I’m thirty seven now. Will I still be wearing them when I’m forty? Fifty, even? Longer? And is that a problem? Perhaps the day I become too old for Converse is the day my kids go from wanting to emulate my footwear to being embarrassed by it. I know that every parent reaches the day when they stop being Practically Perfect in Every Way (thanks Ms Poppins) to being Embarrassing Parent. I’m ready for that day. In fact, I’m going to embrace all aspects of being Embarrassing Mum when that day arrives. Might dye my hair blue. Or take up the robot dance.

IMG_6508

I know that the physiotherapist chap I went to see about my poor knackered old feet wasn’t too thrilled when I told him that I mainly wear Converse, though he did say  ‘at least they’re not ballet flats’ which apparently, along with the dreaded Ugg boots, are worse in terms of support. So maybe the day I hang up my Converse is the day my feet are well and truly too rubbish to cope with the lack of support and I’ll move straight from my high-tops into the velcro-fastening things my beloved Grandma wears. But then she’s 90, so I reckon if I can still bend over to tie my laces by then, I’ll be happy enough.

After a long and hard (or, truthfully, short and flippant) think about it, I’ve decided to keep my Converse on for as long as I choose. To decide for myself whether I’m too old for them or not and not be bullied by anyone into changing into grown up shoes. Unless, I want grown up shoes, of course. But that’s another blog post entirely…

What do you think? Is there an age limit for wearing sneakers? Let me know in the comments!

June 21, 2013

What’s in your handbag?

Regular blog readers might remember me writing a ‘what’s in your handbag’ post ages ago. Shortly after which the bag in question, along with its contents, was stolen from my kitchen. Thankfully it was all insured, and therefore replaced with shiny new things! Huzzah!

I’m choosing not to think that lightening can strike twice and so I’m risking writing a new version of that post, because, if you’re as nosy as I am, the contents of a handbag are fascinating …

So, here goes.

The bag that I carry around switches between a silver Cambridge Satchel, a Mary Katrantzou for Longchamp tote, and a brown leather satchel that my Dad gave me to replace my beloved stolen Mulberry Antony. Each of the bags is useful for different occasions, but the one I have today is the brown leather one. Simple, logo-free and with enough pockets for me to endlessly think I’ve lost something, this bag is perfect for slinging across my shoulders and leaving my hands free for important things like ice-cream eating, hand-holding (romantically with my other half, or to stop my kids jumping into a lake) or endless Tweeting.

I like to carry a lot of stuff. So, small fancy bags are not really any good for me and this list really does prove it!

IMG_6393

Inside the bag:

  • Suncream. I used some chemical peel pads earlier this year and although they’ve improved my skin lots, they have left it very sensitive to the sun. Daily suncream is essential now. This one is by ROC.
  • Moleskine diary and fineliner pen. Because although I love technology, nothing beats pen and paper.
  • My purse. I love, love, love this purse. It was made for me by the talented Abi of ‘Sew You’ and it’s large enough to hold my keys, lipbalm, iPhone earphones, and a tiny box of dental floss as well as my cash and cards. After my last one was stolen, she sent me a free replacement, which just proves how fabulous she is.
  • Lifeventure water bottle. Reason enough for a giant bag! I carry water with me all the time after a kidney infection earlier this year, and the bottle – bought for me by my beloved – is with me every day.
  • My essential make-up kit: Rodial Glam Balm, Nars Sheer Glow foundation (in Mont Blanc, which just shows you how pale I am!) classic Maybelline Great Lash mascara, a very old Shu Uemura eyeshadow in Medium Brown, YSL Touche Eclat, Kevyn Aucoin eye pencil (one of the best I’ve ever used) and finally, lip gloss in Jean Queen from Lipstick Queen which is the perfect everyday pink.  Most of this haul was bought from my local Space NK
  • A packet of Chewits. Because you never know when the Chewit Monster might strike! Remember him? Actually, I have to confess that, having discovered them in my bag when I emptied it to take the photo, I’m eating them right now, as I type.  I quite often have a little something sugary in my bag. To placate my children – what a mother – or to to give me a little energy boost at 3pm. I know, I know, I should be eating fruit or almonds or something. But I’m not.
  • A magazine. In this case, the wonderful stationery-special issue 17 of Uppercase. For many, many reasons. It has a scratch ‘n’ sniff cover, for a start! Scratch’n’sniff! I know that at the age of 37, I should have grown out of such things, but it’s cherry, so therefore brilliant. I always have something to read in my bag. Being a public transport user, I never know when I’ll end up stuck somewhere and I prefer my reading material in print, not via e-reader. Books never die.
  • A Rapha musette. A gift from my lovely boyfriend, this little bag is often with me so that I don’t have to use carrier bags in shops.
  • And finally, my beloved iPhone 5. At 64GB, this is worth more than my car and I love it almost as though it were my third child. I’m not even joking (much) about that. My addiction to Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and, I confess here … Happy Street … mean that I never want to be without it.

So, that little lot is worth quite a lot. A quick tally up shows that replacing it would cost me roughly £950. Mostly because of the unlocked iPhone, to be honest but even the make-up would cost me a fair bit to replace in one go. That’s actually quite a surprise. I’d better go and check that insurance policy …

This post will be entered into a Money Supermarket competition. 

June 6, 2013

It’s my birthday!

It’s my birthday today! By the time you read this, I shall hopefully be on my way for a day of glorious sunshine at one of my favourite places, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Usually, my birthday is a time of reflection for me, and this year proves no different. June feels like a good time to take stock of year so far, and to make plans for the rest of it. Having made a few resolutions in January, it’s now time to see how I’m getting on with them.

1 – Run as often and as far as possible

Hmm. Not a good resolution to start off with, this one. I’ve not been running at all in the past few months. On the upside, I’ve been cycling a lot more, which I’ve decided that I prefer at the moment. In fact, I have no plans to run at all in the near future, but lots of cycling plans. So, perhaps I shall change this to ‘cycle as often and as far as possible’ and see how I get on with that.

2 – Blog as I choose – in terms of subject and frequency

It’s not long since I wrote a post about my blogging frequency, and since I wrote it, I’ve felt a continued sense of relief and of being in a lot more control over my blog. I’m going to carry on with the Slow Blogging for the foreseeable future.

3 – Do my Walk Leader training.

This is something that I’d still like to do, but my priorities have changes a bit since I wrote this list of resolutions, so it might go by the wayside without regret.

4 – Say ‘yes’ to opportunities to learn

Learning is still my absolute favourite thing to do. Recently I’ve been enjoying listening to lots of podcasts and watching TED talks on loads of different, but always interesting, subjects. I’ve just taken up analogue photography again with a Canon EOS 30, and I’m learning so much already. What I’ve realised is that I’m getting better at learning through practice,  as opposed to my usual style of learning through reading theory. Photography seems to be a particularly good example of this, alongside the many craft, cookery and gardening activities that I have planned for the rest of the year. Very soon, I’m also going to put an Impossible Project film through my vintage Polaroid SX-70 and see what happens! I bought a book called ‘Instant Love’ the other day, and it’s inspired me to get playing with it and see what images I might end up with.

5 – Cook 52 new vegetarian dishes – one for every week of the year

I’m currently at 11 recipes. So, I’ve got a long way to go with this one, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t get there. This resolution was partly about learning to be more creative and confident with cooking vegetarian food, and making the most of locally grown vegetables, including those I’m growing myself, rather than any hard-and-fast ‘goal’. One of the things I’m learning is how to adapt and create new recipes too, rather than following every rule, which is a pleasant feeling and something that I shall be trying to do more of and share through Sage and Thrift too.

I’m recording my recipes on Springpad, which has been a great visual tool in  aiding my resolutions this year. I absolutely love using this App, both on my Macbook and on my iPhone; it’s an invaluable way of keeping track, using lists, photos and uploads from websites.

6 – Go on mini-adventures

My first mini-adventure this year was a few days in Paris in the Spring, which was wonderful. I’ve got a short visit to Edinburgh (all food recommendations welcome!) soon, followed by a week in Bivouac, which I’m very giddy about and a few days in Oxford planned for the summer. Oh, and I’m possibly going to swim outdoors on the dawn of Summer Solstice too … good grief.

Further adventures will arise later in the year, no doubt. I’m not going to plan everything, but just say yes to things as the opportunity arises. I love the idea of packing a bag and setting off to destinations unknown, so hopefully that might happen too.

7 – Record all my spending

I’ve created a spreadsheet to track my budget every month and, rather than feeling restricted by it, I feel so much more in control, which is rather lovely. Overall, it seems that the amount I spend on frivolous fripperies and fancy stuff – trying saying that after a pint – is very little. Possibly something to rectify? We’ll see …

8 – Host one Sage & Thrift event every month

This project is something that I’m really proud of starting. We’re growing, generating plenty of interest and have lots of wonderful plans. Our next event is a cookbook swap on 23rd June in Leeds, so if you’re around, do come and say hello!

9 – Reduce my possessions

This resolution has definitely happened, for a variety of reasons, to the extent that I could now fit all my possessions –  with the exception of my bike –  into my small car.  I’m still working on my wardrobe and book collections. Although minimalism and I are slightly uncomfortable with each other (due to my messy nature!) I’m aiming to simplify my belongings, to make any new purchases really thoughtfully and to choose the best available options for me each time.

10 – Read one decent book a month

I’ve read eight novels this year so far,  as well as a number of non-fiction titles so it really does feel as though I’ve read very little this year. I love to lose myself in a good book, and have a reading list as long as my arm. The longer days of summer might be just the time to spend more time reading – the ultimate Slow activity. Again, I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t meet this goal. If there’s one thing I learned from my enormous GoodReads Challenge of 2012 it’s that quality definitely beats quantity when it comes to fiction. I’ve been recording my books on Springpad too – and creating a reading wish-list, so I remember all the great books that are recommended to me!

11 – Attend one cultural event each month

I’ve included everything from cinema to art gallery exhibitions for this goal, and I’ve actually surprised myself with what I’ve managed to do in the first half of the year. I’ve seen live music from David Ford, visited the National Gallery in London and the Musee du Luxumbourg in Paris, seen a stunning production of The Great Gatsby from Northern Ballet, attended Bettakulture, watched a wonderful new Sherlock Holmes play at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and visited several art exhibitions around the country. Recording this (again, on Springpad) has been a great eye-opener, and is a good reminder to myself that actually, I do lots of things and am really very lucky.

12 – Be kind to myself. 

This one rather underpins everything else. So often, I’m so keen to improve myself and to meet goals, that I get cross if things don’t go as planned, or if I don’t manage to be quite as brilliant as I think I should be. My beloved friend and Sage & Thrift partner, Jo, always says that we must ensure that we don’t use our plans as  ‘a stick to beat ourselves with’, which I love. It’s something that I’ve been trying to keep at the forefront of my mind this year. Life is challenging, and often doesn’t quite go as you thought it might. Plans don’t always work out, and it’s important to be adaptable, shrug your shoulders once in a while, and not get so caught up in the desire to achieve that you forget to have fun along the way.

With that in mind, I’m spending today having fun and with no aims other than to eat cake, sit in the sunshine and enjoy turning 37. Wishing you all a lovely day today. Even if it’s not your birthday …