Alice’s Adventures in Fame

10 Apr

I am both flattered and humbled to have been chosen by our artist friend Ann Stoker (click on name to visit blog) as a suitable subject for one of her beautiful paintings!

'Wedding Boots' finished

I think it was the boots that did it!  I love how she has managed to make this feel so light and playful yet graceful!

We were also lucky enough for her to choose Dan as a subject for her collection of faces.  I think she has made him look particularly wise and ‘seeing’

'Dan' finished

On a less professional note, I also recently ‘googled’  our dogs’ names: ‘Bronwyn and Odin’ (as you do) and realised that a you-tube video of them is the first result!  That’s pretty famous!


Taking time back

4 Apr

I recently wrote about the pressures of work. I have been working overtime with little opportunity to take that time back.

As you may have gathered, time feels very precious to me. I don’t want to get into the habit of working more than I am paid for. If there is genuinely too much work then I need to communicate that and be honest about not being able to do it all.

Last night (and tonight) was an exception, sometimes things are just to urgent or need to be done outside of working hours. In those situations I should be taking that time back ASAP. I have stopped fantasising that I might be able to save those hours up and take a day off later in the month. My employer will not allow Time Off In Lieu to be saved for more than one month. and my diary is pretty chocka up to one month in advance. Also, if I work 5 extra hours in a week I feel tired, grumpy and burnt out.

So what am I doing about it?
I’m taking it back now. I worked 3 extra hours last night so I’m taking back 3 hours this morning. I have also resolved to record how I use my TOIL, this will keep me on track eith using this time for myself and help me to notice that I have taken time back.

This morning I have:
• Laid in until 7am
• Walked the dogs (putting myself in credit for this evening)
• Made some muffins
• Written a blog post!

I feel better for taking it back, and more prepared for the day ahead.

What would you do with 3 hours TOIL?

A Four Day Weekend

1 Apr

I have been holding out for this weekend for a while now. It has helped to know I would get four whole days off. I think that we have been so busy that the usual Two day weekend hasn’t been long enough for me to really slow down and reflect on how I am and whether I need to change.

It wasn’t until the third day that I felt I had got everything that needed doing done. When this happened, yes, I wanted to sit and do nothing but it also gave me some space to realise how stressy I have got myself!

We have been for two very beautiful walks with the dogs, which we were able to do without time limits, or guilt or anxiety about losing time.


And Dan and I have actually spent time together and talked. We have had space to share ideas and interests rather than day-to-day frustrations and to-do lists.

I’ve even (with much help from Amalia) decorated an Easter Tree!


Having this time has helped me reflect and realise that I don’t want to find ways of earning more money,  I don’t want a bigger house or a better set of qualifications.  I want more of this:


More time to stop and be.



Resolutions Revisited

1 Apr

I have clearly not managed to make a new resolution for every week! But here’s an update!

I have managed to continue going to Karate, not once, but twice a week!
I have even won the ‘Student of the Week’ award, not once, but twice!


My sensei has complained that I am embarrassing his orange belts with my awesomeness in the Dojo, so he has put me in to grade on the 14th of April (for my orange belt) Eeek!

As you can see from my previous post, I have been needing some stress management, this really has been ticking that box for me. I can go to Karate class in a foul, grumpy-arsed, achy-necked condition and come away relaxed, focused and, quite frankly, exhausted!

Not Cooking
I’m not really sure if this was a resolution as such, but certainly finding some time in my week was. I have given up the idea that I need to cook a dinner-party quality meal every night. Dan and I do a DIY evening at least three times a week now (including both my Karate nights) and when I do cook, I am able to do a mixture of simple and more fancy foods.

Cleaning Night
Tuesday night has become cleaning night where I do the bare essentials. I will also do extra bits on other nights and at the weekends but I try to limit this.

‘Me’ Time
This still isn’t as easy as it should be, but I have managed to steal a few hours here and there to do exactly what I want to do. I have also managed to get some crotchet in the odd half hours we have before bed time in the week.

Do you remember this?


Slowly making progress!


Future Resolutions?

1) To write short blog posts about specific things (trips/projects etc)
2) To book in my ‘time off in lieu’ as soon as I accrue it
3) To pack my suitcase ready for my honeymoon!
4) To spend some time gardening

I will not set a time limit on these resolutions but will keep you updated!

Breaking into a sprint

1 Apr

Life has gone and got busy, again. Work has got stressful, again.

I never really stopped after the doctorate, never really had the’come-down’ I was led to believe was inevitable.

I recall feeling as if I had just got off a high speed train in a foreign land, but was still running along the platform. I have come to realise that this is because life simply doesn’t stop (well not until the end anyway!). We really are on a journey and there will always be stressors in our lives.

A few months into my new job I spoke to my mother and told her that, for the first time in my life, I felt as if I was in an enviable position. I described feeling guilty for having so much. My mother re-assured me (albeit in a slightly cynical fashion) that life would not stay this good forever, so to enjoy the good times while they lasted, and not to worry, I would get my fair share of cr*p.

I’m now six months in to the job and the honeymoon phase is truely over! I have too much work to do and too much risk to manage. I’m allowed to claim back any hours worked over my contracted 37.5, but realistically, if I’ve worked over my hours, that’s because there wasn’t enough time in the week and if there wasn’t enough time in the week to do the work, then taking a few hours off the next one isn’t going to help me. I’m trying to be as effective within my contracted hours and to not work much over them. I feel like my job is important, but I don’t want it to take over my life. If this is going to be sustainable then I need to look after myself.

I feel as if I had just about slowed down to a walking pace on the train track but now I’m verging on breaking into a sprint. I would really like to just sit down for a while but I think the goal should be more like walking pace, maybe a slow jog or even a bit of skipping?

Good Habits

10 Feb

I recently read that Good Habits are as easy to pick up as Bad Habits.  Also, you can get addicted to positive behaviours.

As you have probably guessed; I have a few Bad Habits! And, a few addictions.

Rather than address my psychological issues around habits and addiction  I thought I would try using these powers for good purposes.

As any regular reader (hi mum!) will know,  I have been aiming to go to Karate class once a week.  I was quite strict about setting my initial target quite low so that I could realistically meet it.  Failing to meet my targets often results in me giving up entirely due to a somewhat all or nothing attitude towards achievement.  So while I set the bar low,  I was happy to go to Karate more than once a week if I could.  Initially, once a week was plenty, with it taking me 5 days to recover from the first class.  Then I thought I would try (just for one week) to go to a second class.  The sensei was pretty tough and caused me a whole new world of pain (and shaky limbs). However,  I’ve started to get a bit of a buzz out of this.  I came home from my first Thursday night class proud of my pain.  This probably makes me a bit of a nutter but I was inspired by the class and the sensei who is quite different to the other sensei.  I figured that the two classes compliment each other quite nicely, therefore if I can to two a week,  my Karate and fitness in general will improve. 

This week was my second week of two classes and I was somewhat disappointed when neither class caused me much pain.  I have had the urge to make myself do press-ups and practice my Karate outside of class.  I am away on training this week, so won’t be able to make the second class but have already formulated a plan for attending a different ‘second’ class that week. 

My Karate is already a little bit like smoking.  I spend time worrying about not being able to do it,  look forward to the next one, feel cranky when I can’t go and relieved/sated when I’ve been. 

I’m going to be sensible about it, and not set myself unrealistic targets that land me in a bit pit of failure at the first sniff of a missed class.  However,  I will take advantage of this opportunity to capitalise on my (slightly maladaptive) personality style!  I feel a three-class week coming on!

Crotchet Inspiration

10 Feb

I have been teaching my friend to Crotchet. We started in December with some snowflakes and have been contemplating our next project. I think a beginner/improver project needs to be inspiring, modular and pretty. Being ‘easy’ is probably less important.  This post is for Amalia and anyone else looking for some hooky-inspiration.

I have been inspired by this beautiful window dressing by Sandra who blogs at Cherry Heart

She calls it ‘falling rain’ but they are actually pretty little hearts.  This got me thinking; hearts are not really my style, but I love the teeny-ness of them and all the colours; they would be easy to make up and there is no reason you couldn’t replace the hearts with anything teeny-tiny and colourful!

Like these Stars, Flowers or these Flowers all from Lucy at Attic 24

attic 24 starsattic 24 flowersattic 24 flowers 2

Once I had started trawling pinterest and the rest of the web for ideas I got quite excited!  There are SO many pretty, colourful things you can crotchet out there,  the pinterest boards are Positively Pornographic.

Butterflies, Birdies and Bumblebees

papillons-coloresDSC02945fuzzy little friends

Not to mention Strawberries, Suns and Shamrocks:

JORDBR~1Sun Motif Crochet Pattern picCrochetShamrock6

I had also thought of bunting, a bit like this:

crochet bunting part 2 021

Then I realised the Horizontal Plane opened up the Project Idea for all sorts of Chained, fabulous things:

Again with the Flowers, Flowers, Flowers:


Stars and of course… Sheep!


All (except, perhaps, Sheep) could be joined to each other or a chain in a bunting-type, decorative affair.  The possibilities are endless! For more inspiration please see my Pinterest board.

For now, I’m off to make This


Into This:



(P.S. I have tried to link the source of all images to the sites they came from; clicking the word describing each photo should take you through to the source-site.  If there are any problems please let me know!)

Happy Hooking!


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