Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Photo-A-Day for April - Week 2

*NOTE - I haven't forgotten about this challenge, I've just not been in a blogging phase. Also, I'm cheating slightly in that although I'm listing in on here as a photo a day, they aren't necessarily being taken on those exact days. I'm taking a ton of photos just now and its just easier for me to pick the best and assign them to a day. But on the plus side I am actually getting my camera out on a daily basis again, which was why I wanted to do this.

8th April - Something New
My Kindle died, but I managed to resist the lure of a Kindle Fire (I really don't need a tablet) and went for the cheaper Kindle Paperwhite instead.

9th April - Initials
I had kind of forgotten that its possible to write on stones with other stones. It's quite fun.

10th April - Home (via Sarah)
I had thought that for this topic I would pick something a bit abstract that means home to me. But its occurred to me that there's no need to be abstract or clever with this. This town is home, no matter where I go, and this is one of my favourite places to be - on the cliff walk near the beach.

11th April - Old (via Dannie)
The Collins Gem guides have been mine since I was small, and the vintage books are all charity shop/car boot sale finds. The Panda belonged to my Mum as a child and was then passed to me. It's always been one of my favourite cuddly toys, and is one of the few that I still own from childhood.

12th April - A Journey (via Janet)
Whizzing through the very flat countryside of Caithness on possibly the oldest Scotrail train still in service.

13th April - Chocolate (via Dannie)
Ok, not actual chocolate but its the colour of chocolate, and actually has a slightly chocolate-y flavour. The Seaweed Ale is amazing (if, like me, you're an ale-fiend). We were in the Biere Hall on Gordon Street, Glasgow - which does the best ever 2-for-1 pizzas, as well as a million ales - and this was not my first ale, hence the not great photo.

14th April - Outside In
In the Winter Garden at the People's Palace in Glasgow. I think its fair to call this Outside In.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Photo-A-Day for April - Week 1

1st April - Flowers (via Patsy)

My chilli plant is flowering! It's in a north facing window, which I thought might be too cold but it seems to be thriving so far. I spent some time today pollinating the flowers with a make-up brush (ah, the sex life of plants...)

2nd April - Lines (via Janet)

These were painted in the car park at work last spring as part of a H&S drive, as we're all clearly too stupid to be able to walk from the office to the tea hut without getting squished by a bin lorry. We do sometimes live dangerously and do a tightrope-type walk along the lines.

3rd April - Art

Any form of street art/graffiti is rare up here, and even moreso in the complete and utter middle of nowhere. So The Saint painted on the back of an abandoned truck really amused me, and made a rather dull graveyard of abandoned vehicles just a little bit more interesting.

4th April - Beautiful

My friend does Shellac nails, and does mine for free in return for me feeding her cat when she's away. This time I chose a design that she'd never done before (or at least not in these colours), and I love the effect. But not only are my nails beautiful, our friendship is beautiful too as we've been best friends nearly 20 years, so there's a double meaning to this one.

5th April - A Place of rest (via Janet) and also Contrast

This one fits two, which is good as it means I'll have less left over at the end of the month and it saved me having to decide which one it best fitted. The seat is clearly a place of rest on the clifftop walk with a lovely view over to Orkney, but Holborn Head, the land jutting out to the left, is a notorious suicide spot. I guess you can figure out the 'contrast' from that, as well as the double meaning of 'a place of rest.'

6th April - Early Memories

My Mum presented me with these tiny Fairy Tale books that I'd forgotten I ever owned. Each about 2 inches long, I used to give them to my Sylvanian Families to 'read.'

7th April - Orange (via Dannie)

I bought some langoustines for the first time on Friday. I only wanted 4 but as it was the end of the day, the lovely woman in the fish shop gave me all she had left, which ended up as 8 for the price of 4! We ate them on Saturday and I made this bisque with the shells. So good that I had it for breakfast today!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Strange conversations with my sister #234

*My mobile rings*

Me: Hello?

Col: Hi (In a slightly panicked sounding whisper). I'm at Mum's house. A phone call from John just came through on the house phone!

Me: What? He's dead!

Col: I know!

Me: And what...well, what happened?

Col: Nothing, I didn't answer.

Me: So how do you know it was him?

Col: It was his name and phone number that came up on the screen.

Me: Right. And you don't think there's a possibility it could have been his son calling? They did live in the same house.

Col: Oh yeah. Maybe.

Me: I'm going to go with definitely.....

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Photo-A-Day project

Wow, thank you Patsy, Dannie, Sarah and Janet!

Including some suggestions from folk in 'real life' I now have a total of 35 'topics', so the month is just a bit too short!

 I've started taking my photographs today, but will post them a week at a time to make it easier as I just know I'll never get around to posting every day. I'm debating whether or not to also post a few lines about how I've interpreted the topic, although maybe the photos will speak for themselves. We'll see.

I'm so excited about this! My list of topics are:

Sands of Time
Losing Yourself
I Spy
Up & Down
Left & Right
A journey
A place of rest
Early memories
Black & white
Outside in
Something new
Winter in spring

Friday, 28 March 2014

Photo-A-Day for April...and I want your help!!

In this post I mentioned I was participating in Two Days the Same during May, but I was also doing a small photography project during April. Well, it's almost April so I need to get this underway. And here's what I want from you....


Any sort of words. Nouns, verbs, questions, phrases, whatever.

My plan is to collate a list of stuff, not just from folk who read my blog but from friends and family too, and interpret these in daily photos throughout April. I won't sent a specific task for each day, that would be too hard, but instead it'll be more like a scavenger hunt.

So, anything. Things like....

Red. Car. Six am. Driving to work. First crush. Currently reading. Loneliness. Peace. Cold. Freebie. Yourself. Love. The year you were born. Late evening. First cup of tea of the day. Mood. Lunch. Sitting. Something that makes you sad. For sale. Something stripey. Somewhere you love. Stranger. Dog. Self-portrait. Elephant. Old building. Escaping. Nature, Religion. Out of bounds. Broken. Page 7. Triangle.

(Yes, all shamelessly stolen from Google searches)

The only rule is that I can interpret these things however I want (will try not to be too loose, because that's cheating). And the only rule for you is that your suggestions (a) are not x-rated. Nothing like this on that blog, so move along if that's what you're after, and (b) won't get me into trouble with the law (don't even want to imagine...)

So go ahead - do your worst. I don't need a full 30 suggestions before the 1st, but a few to get me started would be good.

Oh, and if you want to join in, feel free....

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Meal planning (or how I keep my cheese consumption under control)

image source
I recently read and enjoyed this awesome post about meal planning on An Exacting Life, and Laura posts her meal plans on her blog every week, which often inspire me. I'll be honest and say I'm a sucker for reading other people's meal plans, because I love making up my own.

I always assumed that folk who meal-plan were a bit boring. Who could be bothered with going to the hassle of knowing exactly what they're going to eat in advance? What if you didn't feel like eating what you'd planned? For years, the closest I came to meal-planning, was planning to have pringles and dip for tea because I had nothing else in and couldn't be bothered shopping. But this attitude changed last year, when I was on my three month elimination diet.

I never posted much about my experiences on the diet, mainly because it was hell. I was constantly cranky and hungry, and dreaded shopping in a way I had never dreaded it before. Everything has either yeast, sugar, dairy or gluten in it, and trying to decide what to eat, there and then in the shop, was a nightmare. I had no option but to plan in advance to keep myself on the right track (and lessen the possibility of me bursting into tears and abandoning my half-full trolley in the middle of the gluten-free-but-has-all-sorts-of-other-crap-in-it aisle).

On the plus side, my rhinnitis was a lot better. Plus I was surprised at how much less stressed I felt when I knew exactly what I was eating each day. I pretty much had an idea from the start that my rhinnitis was worsened by dairy, and this has proven to be the case. Giving up dairy would help but there are other issues, so it wouldn't get rid of it altogether (dust can aggravate it, as can, bizarrely, my monthly cycle). And anyway, I can endure a chronic itch in my throat and ears as long as I get to eat cheese occasionally. And this is where meal planning has continued to be useful for me.

I try to only eat dairy at one meal per day, or at the very least only eat small volumes of it in each meal, and meal planning allows me to monitor this. Plus, our monthly food bill has reduced by nearly a quarter by planning what we eat. This is due to a number of reasons:

  1. I use up stuff I already have in, rather than buy more
  2. There are less mid-week trips to the supermarket for stuff I forgot to buy during our weekend shop, so less chance of me buying extra crap I don't need
  3. We buy less takeaways and pre-packed sandwiches 
  4. There's less waste; if I buy a certain type of veg or whatever, I incorporate it into various meals throughout the week so it gets used up
Some folk only plan evening meals, but to keep my dairy consumption under control, I plan breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast and lunch I have 10 basic meals that I plan in rotation, making small changes so I don't get bored (e.g. one lunch meal is homemade soup, so I make different soups each week). 

Dinner was the most complicated meal for me because there are so many choices out there, so many recipes. So, after a discussion with my boyfriend, we narrowed our evening meals into seven different basic favourites which we work around each week. Our seven are:
  1. Steak mince
  2. Chicken
  3. Pasta
  4. Prawn
  5. Fish
  6. Meat-free
  7. Other
So, our steak mince night is usually lasagne, cottage pie, chilli, beefburgers or spaghetti bolognese. Prawn night is usually curry, prawn salad or enchiladas. We have a variety of choices for meat-free night and pasta night; pasta night is usually meat-free aswell, and more often than not is macaroni cheese, which is my favourite dinner ever. Other night is often meat-free too although sometimes I'll make something with sausages for a change. So far, it hasn't got boring and I love the freedom of knowing that all the meals for the week are planned. Plus it keeps both my bank balance and my rhinnitis under control.

I do need to be organised though; some items need to be bought during the week as they won't keep otherwise (fresh fish for instance), plus I occasionally need to make my lunch the night before. It's not a hassle but I'm pretty forgetful so need to have Post-Its stuck on the kitchen wall to remind me.

Do you meal plan? If so, is it just your evening meals or all meals?

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Come and Join the Rebellion!

While walking along the cliffs on my way back from Lidl (yes, I get to walk along cliffs to get to Lidl, it's awesome) I saw a guy in the caravan park throwing a ball for a dog. I recognised the guy from my youthful, drinking days - I didn't know his name but I remembered that my friend and I used to call him Rebel. I couldn't think why; he doesn't seem very rebellious now (although his dog kept refusing to give him the ball back, so I guess his dog is a bit of a rebel) and I couldn't recall him doing anything rebellious when we used to speak to him in the pub. Saying that, I do remember him and his friend Steven Tyler (so named by us because he had hair like Steven Tyler from Aerosmith) dressed in dog outfits once, which is a bit rebellious, and is also giving this post a bit of a dog theme.

Anyway, I asked my friend, who reminded me that he used to call us rebels. And as we didn't know his name, we named him Rebel. Wow, I thought. I was a rebel once. Or so Rebel thought. When did I stop rebelling? Have I grown old and boring? But then it occurred to me that I'm now a bigger rebel than I ever was at 18.

Me at 18: newly inked tattoos, pierced tongue and lip, dyed hair, combat trousers, quirky jewellery, obscure indie bands, pints of Guinness, a bit of an attitude. I was cool, y'know. I was a rebel.

Except I wasn't, really. I was at that awkward teen/adult phase where I was trying to find my place in the world. And in true teen style I tried to fit in by not fitting in. And I wasn't rebelling in the truest sense of the word. I wasn't wrecking the place, and I was still polite to people. Just a bit aloof, because I knew so much more about life and the world than them, they just didn't realise it yet.

What does it mean to rebel? To me, it's not about overthrowing the government, it's about being who you are and not conforming to what people expect. Rebelling is making the decision not to have children because you don't want to, in a society that expects you to. Rebelling is sitting on a bench at the beach and writing in your notepad, not caring if people think you're crazy or not. Rebelling is positioning your camera perfectly at the edge of the railings to get a cool shot, ignoring the fact there are people walking past and wondering what type of crack you're smoking*. Rebelling is making a point of talking to the guy at work that all the other guys shun because he's from a poor family and doesn't live life the same way they do. Rebelling is saying 'I don't get it' when someone makes a blatant homophobic joke. Rebelling is telling a dog owner to pick up that turd their dog just left on the pavement. Rebelling is working in a male-oriented sector and commanding (and getting) respect.

I could not have done any of the above at 18. I'll have children one day, because that's what women do. No photographs or writing in public, people will think I'm crazy. And I'm not talking to that guy even though he's a nice guy, because the others might associate me with him and not like me either. That joke isn't funny but I'd better laugh anyway. I hate dog shit on the street but I'm not telling them to pick it up, what if they tell me to fuck off? No way am I working with a load of men, I won't know how to act and what will I do if they make a sexist comment to me?

It's easy to think that as we get older, we lose that 'cool'edge that our younger selves had. But in reality, the older we get, the more comfortable we get with ourselves and who we are, and that's when the rebellion really starts.

Join the rebellion! What do you do to 'rebel' that you wouldn't dare do when you were young and 'cool'?

*I doubt anyone even notices me doing these things, but as we all like to be the stars in our own lives, its easy to assume that everyone in the world is obviously interested in what I'm doing.