Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Made my first ever curtains!

It was the long Easter weekend and Chris was off work on Good Friday. We should have gone out somewhere for a drive over the weekend, but we ended up just flitting between home and the allotment and getting jobs done. It was boiling hot and sunny on Friday so we spent most of the day lounging around in the back garden. Too much sun makes me tired and cranky though.

The shop did a cool Easter window display.

On Saturday I got lots of flower seeds sown including cosmos, catmint, rudbeckia and some ladybird poppies and nigella for my mum. I also sowed some kale, leeks, cress and more cauliflower.

I made some more cinnamon swirl muffins. They didn't last long!

We finally watched Leaves of Grass on Saturday night, it was pretty funny and we had a few laugh out loud moments. I enjoyed it, but Chris fell asleep (as usual, he did last a bit longer than normal though!).

For Easter we got Mr and Mrs Duck again off my mum. I bought her and Chris a chocolate rabbit each with their names on.

On Sunday we planted the broad beans and peas in the ground at the allotment. Chris has also sown some more carrots in the greenhouse border soil as well as in a large pot. The first potatoes are now popping up. There are lots of baby peaches on the peach tree so I thinned them out slightly.

In the afternoon I potted on the pot marigolds into individual pots - about 20 of them, so we should have a good few of them this year. I sowed some nasturtiums in pots outside. Chris has potted on some sunflowers.

I visited my grandma with my mum on Monday. Then we nipped into town and stocked up on a few things for the garden. Then I went to the allotment and topped up the bird feeders. I finally spotted a blue tit or coal tit pulling wool out of my wool ball, it must have been using it for nest building. I spotted them again on Wednesday night too. I’d been worrying that no birds would use it.

I swept out the shed on Monday afternoon and decided to make some curtains for two of the long windows. This will give us a bit of privacy. I made the curtains from some flowery lineny fabric roll end I got off the market. It was surprisingly easy to knock them up and on Wednesday night Chris helped me put them up. They look cool, but I think they need some tie-backs as they're a bit in your face. Chris thinks they look a bit caravanny.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

A cottage in the middle of nowhere (well, the Trough of Bowland actually)

OK, it's time to own up.  I didn't go on the permaculture course on Saturday.  My reasons? I never really felt that comfortable with the course, the venue and the people, plus I felt I could have learnt what I'd learnt from the course so far from reading a book.  But really, it was too much doing two Saturday courses in a month, and when it came to the crunch, I felt I was learning more from the dressmaking course, and I find the dressmaking course lots more fun.  Plus the permaculture course was a long way to drive.  I'd rather do a permaculture course closer to home with people I know.  I feel bad for copping out, but I got lots done in the greenhouse instead.  Especially with summer coming up, I was stupid to think I could devote two Saturdays a month to courses.  I'd rather be outside enjoying the sun with Chris.  Excuses maybe, but deep down, if something doesn't feel right, then maybe it isn't.  But it makes me wonder, because I often think I don't like people based on initial impressions, but after a while when you get to know people you realise they're OK after all. So maybe I should have stuck with it a bit longer.  But I didn't want to.  I copped out of college early as well, because I felt it was taking them a month to explain something that I could have understood from reading a book in an hour.  Chris thinks that's a bit of an arrogant approach, but it's true.  At college they spell things out slowly for the slow learners and the quick learners get frustrated. 

I don't know if I'll have much flair for dressmaking, but it's about being neat and working with numbers, which are things I'm OK at.  I remember one of the first things I got praised for at primary school was being good at cutting out with scissors, and dressmaking involves a lot of cutting out.  It's not that I don't believe in permaculture anymore, because I really, really do, I just don't have enough spare time at the moment to dedicate one Saturday a month to it (which makes it sound unimportant, but that's not what I mean, I can still learn about it from reading books in the evening).  Perhaps I'm just swayed by the thought of making lots of clothes for myself.

I've learnt how to do a fishtail braid/plait from watching a video on YouTube.  It's really easy to do and has inspired me to be a bit more creative with my hair.  It looks really cool too, better than a normal plait anyway.  I tried to buy some new hair accessories in town but the choice was rubbish.

We've got some new handmade wooden shelves in the shop, they look really cool.  A local bodger made them for us.  We've also got a music licence too, so we can play music in the shop now.  On Friday we listened to some Russian gypsy folk music.  There's also lots of new wholefood stock which is coming from a co-op in Manchester called Unicorn.  I bought some ace smelling Unicorn cinnamon, which tastes amazing, and I made some cinnamon swirl muffins which were delicious.

The weather has been gorgeous again all weekend, and it's not rained for a while.

We visited Brookside garden centre on Saturday morning and Chris bought a new red leaved plant for his pond, it was expensive for a small plant (£5.99).  I got some alpine plants for my Mum's rockery and also some small trailing hanging basket plug plants, which I repotted and placed in the greenhouse.  I also bought a parsley plant for our potted herb garden.

After Brookside we nipped to Aldi for some more compost.  They've only got multi purpose compost in stock now, which is rubbish compared to the organic compost I got there a few weeks back.  There are lots of twigs, white bits and even bits of bin bag in the multi-purpose compost.  It'll be fine for flowers but not for edible crops.  Next year I need to buy about 10 bags of organic compost, which seems a lot but we use it in the greenhouse, garden and allotment.

Chris dropped off the compost in the greenhouse at home, then I planted some sweetcorn into peat pots.  I also planted some cucumber Emilie F1, as not all the Cucino seeds have germinated.  The melon and cucumber seedlings have been slow off the mark and appear quite fragile.  These need to go in early next year.

Chris went to the allotment and planted all the chillies into the border soil, and sowed two rows of carrots in the border soil as well.

My sister came up to visit with her husband and two children from Friday til Monday.  They stayed in a luxury cottage in the Forest of Bowland, which is a designated 'area of outstanding natural beauty'.  My mum and I drove to Whalley Abbey to meet up with them on Sunday.  We had a walk around the Abbey and the girls did an Easter egg hunt.  Then we had lunch outside on a picnic bench (cheese and onion toastie for me washed down with some elderflower presse, yum diddly um).

The my mum drove us into the Trough of Bowland following my sister's car.  The cottage was in the middle of nowhere, nestled at the bottom of a big hill, and lots of (brave) people were paragliding off the hill.

We had a cup of tea and a slice of my sister's homemade marble cake, before going for a walk near the cottage.  I was glad I took my wellies as I got a chance to play in the stream with the girls.  One of my nieces showed me her new bike riding skills and we played a few games, before sitting down for tea together.

I booked Monday off work to catch up in the greenhouse.  I repotted all the tomatoes into larger pots.  I did three of each variety, 2 for the allotment and 1 for home.  I'll probably have too many, but it's better than not having enough.  We should have an amazing selection of tomato varieties.   I gave what was left to Chris's boss for his greenhouse. I also repotted the chillies, peppers and aubergines that Chris had sown.  The names on the labels had rubbed off so I wasn't sure which was which (I did warn him that the writing on his labels would rub off).

I also sowed some morning glories and black eyed susans.  I'd lined up lots of other flower seeds to sow but I didn't get round to it.  I'll get them done next weekend.

I got this little gardening man in a kinder egg many, many years ago.  I gave him to my Dad and he kept him in the greenhouse.  He's still there now, he's a little faded, but still very cute.

I had to resow some seeds in the cold frame outside - some seedlings had been decimated by slugs, especially the lettuce, spearmint, coriander, cauliflowers and sunflowers.  Chris has about 30 baby sunflowers in pots, grown from seeds saved from the sunflowers we grew last year.

Yesterday I met with my boss for a supervision session, and we inevitably discussed me getting upset at the presentation the other week.  Surprisingly my boss was really good about it.  She suggested I put things into context.  She said people aren't good at everything and I'm good at some things other people aren't good at.  She said there's no need for me to feel I should be good at presenting to groups if that's not what I want to do.  I just need to decide whether I want to do it or not, which I thought was a very refreshing change to the usual 'you've got to overcome your shyness' tact.  I thought my boss was very understanding in a genuine way.  She explained she doesn't like writing things down, whereas I do, so everyone is different, and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.

I had a wander down the allotment last night after work, it was really sunny and I'd been stuck in an office all day so it was nice to get outside in the sun.  I thinned the radish, beetroot and spring onion, which so far (fingers crossed) the slugs haven't spotted.  I sowed some mixed leaves in the same bed.  I hoed all the onions and garlic too.  It's been very dry so the soil is starting to form a pan.  Chris's friend gave him a tub full of tadpoles so he fetched these down and put them in the new pond.  He's hoping to get some frogs in there.  It's nice to nip down the allotment for an hour before tea.  It felt much nicer than being in an office.

Maybe I could set up an online support group for introverts?  I think people would be reluctant to join, after all, the last thing an introvert needs is other people!  But I'm sure some introverts would agree, sometimes it's reassuring to know you're not on your own dealing with these feelings.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm just shy, with some introvert qualities.  But no one wants to admit they're shy though, do they?  There's nothing good about being shy, at least being an introvert doesn't sounds as bad as 'I'm shy'.  I'm definitely not a shy extrovert though (if there is such a thing).  So by default if I'm not an extrovert I must be an introvert!  Some people hate being on their own, whereas I see it as an opportunity to do my own thing.

Do you know what?  I'm not mentioning shyness and introversion anymore.  Not for a while anyway.  Like I said last week, I'm sick of thinking about it.  There's bigger fish to fry.  Like career options.

I look at the older people in my office and think 'I don't want to still be here when I'm their age'. If only I could think of a career path that fitted in with me. I guess everyone struggles with that one.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

I want a job where I can wear my jeans

Which is another way of saying 'I want a job where I can be myself'.  I've always had to wear officey clothes for work, I just wish I could dress how I normally dress.  I want people to see me for who I am.  The job market is pretty grim at the moment, so I'm not getting my hopes up for a new job just yet.  Anyway, I don't know what kind of job I really want. I guess I'd like something practical and hands on, rather than strategic and 'airy fairy'. I want to get out there and make a tangible difference, working with things that matter to me.  Or maybe solving technical problems.  I dunno... 

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The blackthorn has blossomed, spring is officially here

There was a bit of falling out at the shop on Friday.  Nothing to do with me, it was the manager and another director arguing about there being too many volunteers and disagreeing over buying a refrigeration unit.  The director in question can be a bit childish and has a strop whenever things don't go his way.  They spent 90 minutes in the back room having a heated discussion about things.  I stayed out of the way and faffed with the gardening and window displays.  I think some people need to get a grip on their emotions and act more professionally, after all, we're trying to run a business.  Whilst I was at the shop I bought some more Faith In Nature chocolate shampoo and conditioner.  I really like it and it makes my brown hair very shiny and soft.  I tried the rosemary shampoo and jojoba conditioner, but there weren't as good as the chocolate ones (not for my hair type anyway).  I also got a 'shop local' shopping bag.

It was really super sunny all weekend.  The weather was great, and I ended up a little sunburnt, but I think the extra vitamin D will have done me good.

We planted the potatoes on Saturday morning (or should I say Chris planted them).  You can just see them in the top of this photo, we also planted the earlies and second earlies down next to the rhubarb.

The path down the side of the top greenhouse looks really clear.  How long is that going to last?  I bet it won't take long for the brambles to reclaim it.

I checked the damson tree and there still aren't any buds on it.  Our friend advised cutting off the dead branches, which I did, but there was no sign of life or green inside the branches, so it's not looking good.  It's a shame, as it was one of the last things my Dad planted at the allotment.  Chris said I shouldn't get upset though, because everything at the allotment is a testament to my Dad and there's still lots of plants alive that he planted, plus all the greenhouse and building work that he did.

I continued to dig the patch of land were the cabbages were.  I've not quite finished it yet, but I'm nearly done. 

The shallot shoots are up and looking well.  Some of the onions are up too.  The radish and beetroot seeds are up.

Leaves have started to grow on the peach tree.

Chris's chillies in the greenhouse are doing well but a slug has eaten some of the habanero seedlings.

The garlic's doing well.

I picked the first batch of rhubarb.

All the trees are coming into bud and spring has well and truly arrived, the blackthorn tree at the allotment has blossomed.

The primrose under which Joey my old pet bird is buried, has made loads of flowers.  It's got bird poo on it too, which is kind of appropriate.

The cherry blossom trees are starting to bloom. The blackbirds are nesting again in my Mum's back garden.

I hoovered my car on Saturday afternoon.  Then our neighbour mowed our front lawn and we tidied up the front garden.  It looks lovely now, and the forget me nots look great.

It was the Grand National horse race on Saturday.  I entered the sweepstake at work and Chris bet a tenner on a horse but neither of us won, my Mum won a tenner though.

I sat out and sunbathed for the rest of Saturday afternoon.  We had a lovely ice cream in a cornet with raspberry sauce, it was yum.  I'd taken a hayfever tablet earlier in the day, and I had a shandy in the afternoon, and the tablet must have reacted with the alcohol because I suddenly went really tired and had to go for a sleep.  I'm not going to bother with the hayfever tablets anymore.

I wore my new Native sunglasses on Sunday, which meant I had to put my contact lenses in too.  My hayfever was fine.

I took my car to be washed on Sunday morning.  I also nipped to the flea market but I didn't get anything.  Then my friend called and arranged to hijack my sunny Sunday afternoon. She's having boyfriend troubles and needed someone to talk to.  She visited the allotment then we chilled in the back garden and listened to Jarvis, and I helped her sow some seeds for her garden.  I'd plan to sow some seeds but I didn't get chance, so I feel behind with things now.  The plants in the back garden have come back to life.

The viola look lovely.

And the white drumstick primula looks great.

My Mum made a lovely veggie tea of stuffed peppers and salad, and we had baked rhubarb and ice cream for dessert.   Mmmmmm.

I've got Leaves of Grass, starring Edward Norton (twice) on DVD.  I can't wait to watch it, but I'm saving it for an evening where I can settle down and make the most of it seeing as I've waited so long for it to be released.   Chris is keen to watch it too.  I also ordered Stone on Blu-Ray, which for some crazy reason, I'm also saving.

I made a batch of my own cereal bars using a recipe from the River Cottage Cakes book (fruit, nut, honey and seed bars) on Sunday night.  I wanted a healthier alternative to shop bought cereal bars to take to work with me.  It's a good recipe, but I used figs, dates, walnuts and linseeds instead, but you could vary it with whatever combo of fruit, nuts and seeds that you fancy.  I ended up with 12 bars which will be plenty to last me all week at work, and there's enough for Chris to take some too.

Chris accidentally let someone's dog out of a house he was working at on Monday.  He chased it for an hour, before giving up and coming home.  He was so worried about it, but it turned out OK because the owners found it at 7pm that night.  He was so relieved, but he spent a full night worrying about it.

I watched Mean Girls on Film4 and I thought it was pretty good.

I've started doing some yoga by following a video called 'Yoga for dummies', I've done it twice and really enjoyed it.  It feels like it's doing me the world of good, especially my back.  I'm going to keep it up.

Monday, 11 April 2011

I'm fed up of the i word

The i word is introvert. The word keeps appearing on my blog and I'm sick of seeing it. It's not a nice word and it has negative connotations. It's sounds like a bad thing to be, and I always feel like I need to justify why I'm an introvert. Well, let me try and put this to rest once and for all. Yes, I am what most people would describe as an introvert. I don't like being in big groups of people, I enjoy my own company, I can be shy until I get to know people. This is me, and I don't need to make excuses. I'm worried when I discuss the presentation thing with my boss at work that she'll say to me, 'let's try and help you get more confident'. Isn't that the same as me saying to her let me help you become more introverted and less confident? I'm not designed to be a confident outgoing person. There are loads of things I'm good at, why try and improve the things I'm rubbish at? It's not a weakness or something I need to get rid of - this is just who I am! I'm not a meek little thing that needs pulling out of my shell. I'm quite happy as I am. The problem begins when I try to fit into an extrovert world. Aaarrrggh. I'm sick of thinking about it! I spend time with people sometimes and I'm so glad to be left on my own at the end of it. I know this is who I truly am. I'm not going to try and change myself because I don't see why I need to, I'd be fighting a losing battle trying to make myself something I'm not.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Sunday therapy sessions with Jarvis

Well, this week my introversion, social anxiety, shyness - call it what you like - all came to a head on Thursday morning. I'd been asked to give a presentation at a meeting and I'd mentioned to my boss a few weeks back that I didn't feel comfortable doing this in front of a large group. So we came to a compromise - I'd put the presentation together and she would deliver it (she's fine in front of large groups, but not good with computers and presentations). However, when it came to the day, she must have forgotten our discussion. She quickly ran through the presentation and said 'are you OK doing the second half?' Well, stupid me, I just said yes, knowing full well that I didn't feel comfortable. But we were in an office full of people and I wasn't about to start spouting off about how shy I am. Some people don't realise I have a problem, and I didn't want to go shouting about it in front of a room of people. So we set off for the presentation. Well, imagine my horror when we entered the meeting room and there was about 60 people there! There's no way I can do a presentation in front of 60 people with 30 minutes' notice. So I had to tell my manager I couldn't do it and I got upset and started to cry. I felt so pathetic. I was crying like a child because I didn't want to do something. But I was really, really genuinely upset to the core and I had to go to the toilets for 20 minutes because I couldn't stop crying. I guess all these feelings that I'd bottled up were all coming out whether I liked it or not. My boss was understanding and didn't mind doing the presentation on her own. But I need to explain to her that I wasn't just upset about the presentation that morning, that it was about a lot of other issues in my life re social anxiety. It does my head in. How can I move forward in my career with this issue? I've got the brain to move up the ladder, but my social anxiety will prevent me from doing so. And I don't want to get over it, because taking in front of groups isn't something I aspire to do, it's just not for me.

I was really upset anyway. I came home and watched Fight Club. For some reason this film always soothes away any upset. It calms me down and makes me feel me again. I really needed it.

My friend Nina gave birth to a baby girl called Grace on Friday. I bought her a cute little summer outfit and hat and popped round to see them tonight. Grace is so adorable.

My sister and one of my nieces came up to visit this weekend. Unfortunately their visit clashed with my dressmaking course so I didn't get to spend as much time with them as I'd have liked. I had to work at the shop on Friday morning as it was the monthly board meeting, so this scuppered my usual cleaning routine, but Chris helped me out because he was off work. I made new some labels for the gardening section in the shop, I used some photos I took in the garden last year as the background for the labels. They look pretty good.

I found it hard at some points over the weekend, especially in the car with the radio on, my niece asking me questions and my sister asking me questions at the same time! It was too much going on at once and I was glad to get in the greenhouse on my own and sow some seeds. I sowed some melon seeds and some more chillies seeds. I also sowed three packets of sweet pea seeds, 3 per recycled pot noodle pot (Chris drilled some holes in the bottom, but they're nice long pots for the sweet peas to establish their roots in), and these went in the cold frame. Whilst sowing the seeds I listened to Jarvis Cocker's radio show, which is always soothing. I love Jarvis. His show feels very intimate, rather than loud and bolshy, it feels like it's just me and him. He even speaks softly and his voice is therapeutic. And I like the stories, poems and his choice of music. He helped to recharge my batteries and make me feel me again. I read on Wikipedia that he's also a fan of Sailing By before the Shipping Forecast, which made me smile. It's good to know it's not just me who likes these kind of things.

On the dressmaking course on Saturday, we cut out our fabric for the skirt and tacked it together, before attaching a waistband and trying it on. I was surprised the skirt actually fit me, but it did. I enjoyed the course this time and didn't come away with a headache. There was a demonstration taking place in town and lots of police sirens and horses were going past all day. A the next lesson we'll sew the skirt together using a sewing machine.

Chris has erected a new fence at the allotment which gives us a bit more privacy. He's also finished off the pond which looks ace. He's done a really good job. I'm sure we'll get some frogs in there soon.

I've been enjoying watching a live show by Christy Moore which I recorded off BBC4. I'm going to get more of Christy's music because I love some of his songs, especially Ride On.

It was Mother's Day on Sunday and I bought my Mum a royal hanging basket, with flowers in red, blue and white, she's excited about the royal wedding so I thought she'd like it. We also got Chris's mum a royal wedding planter. Chris's mum came to visit and we took her down to the allotment as she's never been before. She seemed impressed. I also took my sister and my niece to the allotment, and my mum came along too. Then we took my Mum out for lunch. She told me she's been feeling anxious again, so I hope she feels better soon. I thought she was doing OK after her trip to NYC but I'm not sure now. I hope she's alright.

The forget me nots look ace.

I picked some for me and my Mum.

My friend said she's been having spooky experiences in her room at night and she was going for an exorcism tonight!

Chris's holiday has finished now and I felt sorry for him having to go back to work. I hope he decides to take it easy and do more things for himself. As for me going down to 3 days, I don't think I could afford it, so I'm shelving that idea for a while.