Sunday, 30 May 2010

My New Bathroom: before and after photos *drumroll*

Way back in March I finally decided to have my bathroom updated and asked Stuart my trusty builder to start work on knocking the whole thing out.  This has been a long-time wish as the old bathroom was so tatty and hard to keep clean.  The seal around the bath had rotted and left a black mess that couldn't be cleaned; over the years I'd painted the tiles twice but they'd started to peel and looked awful; the airing cupboard door didn't close properly and the sink, toilet and bath all leaked. Basically it was a mess, and not the sort of place you would want to begin and end each day in.

Anyway, I thought you might like a peak at the new place. Okay but first you have to see the 'before' pictures.

As you can see aswell as being grotty it was also very untidy. The new bathroom is ~ so far ~ still tidy, but one month on I still haven't managed to buy a suitable bathroom cabinet or shelving so as a result it still looks a bit bare. The boiler was old and the cold water tank even older so I decided it was a good investment to have a new combi-boiler installed.The airing cupboard is much better with more  space for shelves now that the old hot water tank has gone.

I think you can see what a difference there is, and we really love it.  Now, I wonder how long it'll take me to save for a new kitchen......?

Friday, 28 May 2010

Last week the very lovely and glamorous Forty Not Out announced that she had bought the domain name of her blog and it was now a site.  She loves labels y'see, so she just had to have it.

Now, don't get me wrong I'm not normally a copycat but I was possessed by a sudden desire to hang onto Forty's coat-tails in a desperate bid to catch some of her glamour, even though I wouldn't know my Prada from my Primark.  My usual style is one of caution, I mean I'm the sort of person who doesn't buy anything until I've researched, checked and analysed, but no sooner was I reading her account of how she bought the domain than I was buying my own. 

Of course, Forty Not Out had explained how simple the whole process was and I imagined her tapping away on the keyboard with perfectly manicured nails and a glass of Veuve on one side.  It was all so easy.

Except my experience was slightly different.  No sooner had I bought my domain name ~ ~ than things started to go wrong.  Have you ever seen one of those clown cars where all the wheels fall off?  Well, that was my blog the other day.  I lost my blogroll, my followers, and most upsetting of all, my comments.  Every single comment that had been left on the Disqus comment system was no longer recognised by my new domain - or was it t'other way round - and I was left with a big fat zero.

Disqus Help have been very helpful but said they are working on a 'fix' to allow comment migration but it won't be available for another month or so.  So please accept my apologies if you took the time to compose and write out a carefully worded comment recently - they will return, just not right away.  I've managed to reinstall my followers but my blogroll is still a work in progress. And so far, apart from the shorter blog address, I have yet to learn about any other advantages to buying the domain name - does anyone know the main advantages?

You may also need to adjust your Google reader although Blogger assure me that after a three-day transition period, regular readers should still be able to find me through their usual methods.

Thanks for staying with me!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Wordless Wednesday: A Walk In The Park

I know I said recently that I wouldn't post any more stuff about my gorgeous dog Tessie, but guess what?  I lied.

I thought that my daily walks with Tessie were now such an integral part of my daily routine, that you might like to join us for a virtual walk. We're lucky enough to live on the very edge of a conservation area with parkland and woodlands, ponds and fields. There are numerous alternate routes we can take, giving me the choice to do on a short walk of abut 15 minutes or a more leisurely one of about an hour and a half.  I can be on the path to the parkland within 1 minute of leaving our front door, and this is where we start our daily walk:

...and back to the path leading home.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Build-a-Bear Workshop® visit and review

When we recently received an invitation to visit our nearest Build-a-Bear Workshop® we didn't need to be asked twice.  Tall Daughter has been a long-time fan of Build-a-Bear, and she already has two of their bears and many (too many?) accessories to go with them.  As I've mentioned previously she's a very young ten-year-old who still plays with dolls and believes in fairies, so she was excited to take her best friend L with her today to see what was new in bear land.

And we weren't disappointed.  We visited the Build-a-Bear Workshop in Warrington, and were put in the very capable hands of Oliver - oops, no that should be OliBear - a name he proudly displayed on his name badge.  OliBear took charge straightaway and made sure the girls knew what to do.  First of all they had to select a bear from about 20 different bears:

Then the bears were taken to the fluff machine, where they were stuffed.  There was also the option for the bear to have sound, or a beating heart or just a simple little red heart which they had to kiss and make a wish on.  It was then inserted into the bear, but before the bear could be closed up the girls had to give the bears a 'cuddle test' where they hugged the bears and then said whether it needed more fluff, or if it was too hard some of the stuffing was taken out of it.  I know how that feels.

Next up was the beauty parlour where the bears had blowdries and their fur was brushed. 

Then, it was time to choose an outfit for the bears and let me tell you, this part took the longest! The two girls were whizzing around the shop looking at all sorts of outfit combinations for each bear and bringing them back to a special dressing area with a mirror.  Did they have shoes in pink?  What about a handbag to go with it?  Hairband? Sunglasses? And did that colour actually suit the bear?  Fortunately, they had their very own Gok Wan for bears on hand - OliBear, who knew what was what.  "Oh, shoes definitely make an outfit" he told the girls, before rushing off and coming back with different shoe options.  The two girls loved him, he was so attentive, fun and seemed genuinely interested in their choices and definitely made their visit that bit more special.

After the lengthy debates over clothes, the bears needed their very own birth certificate and this was done on a computer screen and then printed out to take home.

And here are the finished bears.  Glitter is on the left and Fudge is on the right.  I think the whole concept of Build-a-Bear is very clever, and I think it's fair to say that TD and her friend enjoyed today's visit just as much as they did on previous visits when they were younger. 

We'd like to thank Build-a-Bear for inviting us to their store, and a special thank-you to OliBear who is definitely a Bear's best friend.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Do you want to know why I blog? This is why.

Over the last couple of weeks since my Dad's death I have been buoyed by the kindness of bloggers.    I'm genuinely humbled by the number of kind and thoughtful comments, emails, tweets and DMs from bloggers, most of whom I have never met.

And if that wasn't enough, take a look at all of the things that have arrived at my door from around the blogosphere. 

Starting at the top right is this month's Secret Post Club gift which came from the lovely Josie at Sleep Is For The Weak.  She put together a package to help me in my attempts to meditate more often.  There are some relaxation incense sticks, meditation cards - each with a target for the day to help focus my thoughts such as "Today I will focus on compassion"; and a CD of Guided Meditations for Busy People.  This has been on my wishlist with Amazon for months, but I never got 'round to buying it because I was, um, too busy.

Just below (bottom right) is a gorgeous card from Darla who blogs at Bayside to Mountainside. Darla is incredibly creative and actually made this card following my recent post about fairies.  It now taking up pride of place in Tall Daughter's bedroom.

Then bottom left of the photo is a package that arrived from Sunday Painting in Australia.  We've become email penpals and it's been really fun getting to know her through our frequent emails.  Sunday sent me an invite to an exhibition (couldn't make it, the bus doesn't run on that day) and some goodies she stole was given at a party. 

Then top left is a card from Struggling to be Stylish.  There was also a cheque with the card which she very kindly sent to me after I won her recent blog giveaway. How kind is that?  I have yet to spend the money on something, but it came with instructions that it's to be used to treat myself to something special.  Will do.  And thanks!

There are so many things I want to say. I want to express how touched I have been, and how your amazing kindness has helped me, and why when I was feeling down I could remember that even though there are some gaps in my life blogging gives me not only an outlet but also brings me something else too ~ friends.  Unfortunately I'm not a good enough writer to put it into words that would do it justice, so I'll keep it simple.  Thank you.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

How did I let this happen?

Not so long ago Dad talked to me about the arrangements for after he'd passed on, and he was very specific about one thing: there was to be no cheap whiskey at his wake. Of course he had other instructions, but he knew what his priorities were.  So this has been a busy week of organising: Dad's funeral, his wake, the flowers, the church service, the music, his paperwork, aswell as contacting family and friends and dealing with Dad's final requests.

Since Dad's death last week I've done a lot of soul searching, and one thing has struck me more than anything else.  I'm lonely.  Extremely lonely and isolated.

Somehow, over the years, I've managed to not only distance myself from the idea of a relationship, but I've neglected my friends.  I haven't nurtured my friendships enough, and so now at one of the loneliest times of my life I find myself questioning my own priorities in life.  Why have I allowed this to happen? And how can I repair it?

Next Tuesday on the day of the funeral there'll be no-one there to support me.  I'll have family yes, but they have their own nearest and dearest.  But there'll be no friends there for me, and no partner.  I know I have myself to blame but it doesn't stop me from feeling sorry for myself.

Somewhere in the distance I can hear a black dog howling.  And it isn't Tess.