My First Year Of Freedom!

This is a post about a topic I have long thought about writing. I have debated whether to hit the publish button as I do want to keep my blog humourous and light hearted and not get too personal on here. On the other hand I think its good to challenge yourself boundary wise from time to time. This post was kind of therapeutic to write and it pushed me out of my writing and sharing comfort zones. And is long and wordy. You have been warned.

Today last year, my months notice period finished and I left my job of 12 years with no job to go to. I did not leave under the best circumstances (its long story and now is not the time or place) and I left there pretty much a broken woman. It was a job that I hated and dreaded waking up to each morning. A job that slowly wore me down and effected my well being, after 12 years of handling obnoxious and rude customer complaints all day long and working with some horrible, bitchy, two faced colleagues.

The job effected me more than I realised. I used to think that when I got home that I left my work behind me. But now I have admitted to myself that it slowly but surely, made me question if there were any nice people left in the world. Gradually I felt the happy go lucky, optimistic girl who just wanted to have a laugh and a good time disappearing. That was the nineteen year old girl who started the job back in 1999.

In my years working there I grew up and had life experiences, both inside and outside of work, good and bad which shaped me into the person I am now. But mainly due to my working environment, I lost my spark. Customers being rude and moaning at you is not the most pleasant of environments to be in all day long, and it slowly wore me down.

It was not all bad working there, for one thing it killed my shyness approaching strangers and I learnt lots of skills for my CV. I also worked with some lovely people who I have remained good friends with. And it paid I suppose!

I just was stuck in a rut and had been there for so long that I could not see myself doing anything else. I always found an excuse to stay there (too busy to job hunt, I got to stay there to pay my bills, the recession, no jobs out there etc).

So when I left it was a huge and scary decision to make, even though I was pretty much made to leave. I had no CV prepared and I had not had a job interview in over 12 years. I gave myself a target of finding a new job by Easter. We both agreed that a part time role would suit me better, as I do all the cooking and housework at the moment because Rob works seriously long hours.

Fast forward to one year later and I found a new part time job in early Feb 2012 which again is in a retail environment. But mainly because it is a different industry, happily the majority of the customers are nice to me and we have a bit of banter! They call me names like love, cock, ducky, sweet and dear! It is a small local shop and we know all our regulars. My new boss praises and encourages me (the polar opposite to my last manager), and I don’t mind the job (honest). I know, who of thought eh!

I also help out Rob with his business in my spare time and I am learning new IT skills that I was sorely lacking. I blame it on staying in a job for too long with its own basic computer system, that’s my excuse anyway!

I have also managed to up my housework game. Its amazing, when I was in my former job I often used to think to myself “If only I was’nt here, I could be doing something far more exciting like scrubbing my toilet” and all the chores that needed doing etc. But when I left, it turned out that all my fantasies about being a lady of leisure and just being a homemaker were not what I wanted. I actually enjoyed working hard and under pressure. Having tons of free time and just the hoovering to do were not as enjoyable as I thought. But on the other hand, I have finally learnt that the only way you can have a tidy and relatively dust free house is to actually clean it on a regular basis. Who’da thought again, eh!

It was hard to let Rob support me financially. I have always been very independent and paid my own way. I have finally accepted that while I may not pay much in to team Helen and Rob, I do my fair share in other contributing factors. At the end of the day, we are way past the who pays what stage in our relationship, and I would do the same for him in a heartbeat.

When you are self employed you never know what is around the corner. But we are managing fine and are more than happy with our lot. Plus thanks to me taking over the admin side for Rob, he has had continued to make his business a success.

Life is too short to work in a job you hate. I started 2012 uncertain about what was around the corner, but hopeful, and again I start 2013 feeling the same way. But you know what – I feel good about it. Bring it on I say!

To Do List Update

Remember back in June I made a list of goals then kind of forgot about it?

Well as its the end of the year, its a good time to look back and see whats happened since!

BLOGGING GOALS

  1. Start a blog. DONE!
  2. Get better at photography. – It depends on which blog post you are viewing!
  3. Improve my writing skills. – I think I have. Well for me anyway.
  4. Learn to use Photoshop or PicMonkey at least. DONE! Blogged here.
  5. Learn to use google analytics. – Done.
  6. Get better IT skills in general. – Its an ongoing thing really.
  7. Learn how to put pictures side by side.
  8. Improve the look and layout of this blog. DONE! Blogged here.
  9. Continue with Tuesday Tune. – Yep, still doing as and when I feel the urge.
  10. Show the rooms of my house on here that we have decorated already. – I will do soon.
  11. Compile one of these wish-list thingies. Once I figure out what they (wish-list thingies) are officially called to google how to make them or find the software etc!  DONE! Blogged here.
  12. Keep this as a happy place and do not rant on here! – I think I have managed to. Except a little moan about Keane, but they deserved it.
  13. And remember to just keep on blogging for self improvement in general! – I’m still here I suppose!

LIFE LIST

  1. Start a blog. DONE!
  2. Visit Berlin. – At some point in the future. No rush.
  3. Keep chickens in my garden. – I want to, but then on the other hand it is cheaper to just buy free range eggs at the supermarket. And you don’t have to clean their poop up.
  4. Grow my own vegetables. – Maybe at some point. In the mean time my parents send over homegrown veg over from their allotment.
  5. Make bagels. – Not done.
  6. Get really good at making cupcakes. – It depends on who’s eating them!
  7. Bake some whoopie pies. – Not done.
  8. Bake some no knead bread. – I tried it once.
  9. Make a red velvet cake of some sorts. – Not done. Soon though.
  10. Go whale watching. – At some point in the future I hope.
  11. Crochet a granny squares blanket. – Never gonna happen. I cant craft.
  12. Bake a rainbow cake. – Not done.
  13. Build an Eco house – A girl can dream.
  14. Move to a less chavvy town. – Maybe in the future. But my friends and family keep me here, where else can I find that?
  15. See the northern lights. – I hope to at some point.
  16. Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower (I have been before but only made it up 2/3rds of the way. I was with my mum and she gave up at that point, as she did not like the see through-ish stairs we were climbing up – chicken!) – Future holiday.
  17. Organise my iPhoto library. – Kind of doing.
  18. Get some some nice photo books made. – I got one of our holiday to the New Forrest made up for Xmas pressies.
  19. Buy more secondhand clothes or vintage dah-ling. – Too expensive and I do not need anymore clothes.
  20. Make my house beautiful. – Doing.
  21. Own a camper van. DONE!  Blogged here 21)b.Get campervan MOT’ed & road worthy. – Doing.
  22. Buy more secondhand furniture. DONE! I will show my purchases on here at some point.
  23. Go to more gigs. – Depends on who is touring really and budget. I did not go to many gigs this year.
  24. Own a rescue greyhound. – We own a cat.
  25. Join a book club. – Nope, not done.
  26. See Tutankhamun’s mask. – Maybe at some point. In the mean time I will stick to documentaries on telly!
  27. Go camping at least once a year. – Done.
  28. Keep going to as many festivals as financially possible. Sod being too old. – Done.
  29. Get a greenhouse and grow amazing cucumbers. – Not yet.
  30. Eat more leafy green veg. – Not every day, but yes to this.
  31. Plant a herb garden so I never have to buy expensive fresh herbs from supermarkets. – Does my pot of basil count?
  32. Use only green household cleaning products or make my own. – In the kitchen, yes. In the bathroom I need my bleach!
  33. Get my completed/decorated house as a tour on one of my favourite blogs (or in a magazine?). – Do I really want to?
  34. Buy only ethical/organic/outdoor reared meat. – Too dear.
  35. Save cooking fat for the birds. – I don’t really have any cooking fat to make any fat balls.
  36. Visit Loch Ness. – I hope too.
  37. Stay in the Pantone hotel. – Ditto.
  38. Sew a dress. – Never gonna happen. I don’t wear dresses either!
  39. Get a job I want to do, or in failing that one away from retail at least. – Working on it.
  40. Swim at least once a week. – 35% success rate.

You might have noticed that I have given my blog a little tidy up recently. I changed the font to a 50’s inspired one that I’m really happy with, and I’m working on a new header. By working on, I really mean nagging asking Rob to make me a new one.

I am also getting rid of my to do list page, and in the next year I will probably focus mainly on documenting the renovation of our house on here. I will still throw in the odd recipe and post about whats going on in our lives.

I want next years blogging goal to be quality over quantity!

Wish me luck!

 

A Before And After

Recently I have gone from this………fromTo this……..to

Yep, from a chest of drawers to three bin bags full of clothes.

Right before Xmas I managed to sell our battered bed frame on Gumtree within a week. While I was browsing on the site, I found a local ‘wanted’ ad that someone had placed for Ikea Malm chest of drawers in Oak.

A few emails and texts later, I sold the big chest of drawers and our two bedside cabinets. It was earlier than we planned on doing so, but sometimes you just got to take the money and run!

So this means we will definitely have to invest in some new bedroom furniture! Good job the sales are on………..although they are on all year round!

My Christmas 2012

I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas this year. I have been busy drafting up loads of blog posts recently. I think its because I am off work and practically housebound at this time of year, plus there is lots going on at the moment which has got my blogging juices flowing!

For Christmas this year, as I do not have a lot of spare cash and am not big on Xmas (bah humbug!) Rob and I agreed to not buy each other any gifts.

So I stuck to this agreement. But someone did not.

Yep, Rob totally spoilt me again. He got me a Cambridge satchel and a vintage Pyrex casserole bowl that he ordered from America on Etsy. I in return, basically went ape-s**t and had a right go at him for spending far to much money on me and that I really did not want anything and totally ruined his moment!

Then my parents had a go at me for not getting him anything! Ah, it would not be Xmas without a few rows eh?

But in future, I am not going to mention that I like anything or that I want anything on my blog ever again! And I will not make anymore Etsy treasure lists or compile wish lists. It is a shame because they are quite fun to do, but I don’t want Rob to keep spending ridiculous amounts of money on me!

The bag is gorgeous and will last a lifetime (The Primark one fell to pieces after three weeks use!) and once I got over the shock, I told him I do really love it. I just was not expecting it.

I hope I don’t sound ungrateful. I don’t think I will ever get used to being spoilt. I think that is a good thing, it means I will never take things for granted.

 

Crimbo 2012

So we survived the Mayan apocalypse of 21/12/12, and what do you know, it seems I have finally twigged that Christmas is coming (that sneaky bloody Christmas gave me no warning yet again!)

I have enjoyed seeing other bloggers photo’s of their Xmas decorations, and I wanted to put together my own similar post. But this year for the forth Xmas in a row, we have decided not to bother with the decorations.

Let me explain why, its because we are currently having a major sort out of our loft and have started to rip out stuff and do the prep work to decorate our bedroom. So we are busy doing trips to the tip, selling stuff on Gumtree in our spare time and it just feels like its another chore we could avoid. Plus its so close to Xmas now, it will soon be all over and done with!

We delayed putting the tree up because of the carpets coming two weeks ago, after they were fitted we kinda liked our lounge as it was really, so we did’nt rush to do it. It felt special enough as we had waited two years for them!

Our previous excuses are – in 2009 we had packed up and were expecting to move house (although it turned out we did not move until March’10), in 2010 our house was a disorganised mess following the move, we were still half unpacked and living with the decorating’s dusty chaos. Last year in 2011, I was a bit fed up as I was leaving my job and wasn’t feeling very festive, but Rob did put just the tree up all by himself, to try and cheer me up.

What is festive in our house is xmas1

My Mum bought me it!

My Mum bought me it!

Mum treated me during our trip to Tunbridge Wells on Friday!

Mum treated me during our trip to Tunbridge Wells on Friday, it was in the sale already!

An early Christmas pressie from Mum and Dad!

An early Christmas pressie from Mum and Dad!

All bought for me by my Mum (she's the best!). Dunno why she got the bah humbug one!

All bought for me by my Mum (she’s the best!). Dunno why she got me the bah humbug one!

I did make a Christmas cake. Its the first ever one I have baked (I know, call myself a baker!) I used cutters that my mum lent me and it took me nearly 2 hours to decorate it, but I’m quite proud of it none the less!

Annoyingly it has aquired three small dents.

Annoyingly it has acquired three small dents. It was once perfectly smooth, honest!

Oh and Mum gave me the ribbon for the cake. Did you notice a theme? My parents are two of the most generous, caring people I know, and as well as that, my Mum really tries her best to make me more Christmassy! (She loves this time of year, she even has some Christmas cushion covers!)

I think the less fuss you make about Xmas the more “meh” you get about it as the years go by. Well that’s whats happened to me. Blame it on working in retail since the age of 16. Xmas music send shivers down my spine and gives me nightmarish flashbacks of working in hectic supermarkets and shops!

Next year we will put them up. I did once enjoy doing so when I first moved out of home many years ago. I am trying to force myself to not be too bah humbug, after all no one likes a grump this time of year!

Bah humbug merry Xmas to you all! see you on the other side!

Tuesday Tune/Our New Bed

Looky what we got delivered today! After a slight hiccup with my credit agreement (interest free Mum – don’t worry!) Our new bed is here!

I took some pictures to share here and have been trying to think of a Tuesday tune with a bed theme in its honour. I hit a wall and the only song I could think of was Keane’s Bedshaped. Nah, boring. I am not a Keane fan.

So I asked Rob if he could think of any bed or dream themed tunes. He did a quick search of his iTunes and suggested this……

Deary me, its terrible eh! But slightly better than Keane I suppose. It was one of those moments I questioned our relationship.

His excuse was that it is on his iTunes as he has the Waynes World soundtrack on there. Again I wondered if I ever would really know the man, even after 11 years together.

Anyhoo, here are the pictures of our bed. First, straight after it had been delivered, then second, after I had made it using the fancy new pillows and duvet we got for free when we purchased it! Woop!bed1bed2Side Note – You see that piece of string hanging above the bed in this pic? It’s one of the only original features our house has left! We viewed a lot of homes on our estate when we were looking to move, and they all seemed to have that piece of string hanging down from the ceiling in the main bedroom. The more we saw of it, the more we said to ourselves that we hated it and that we must rip it out, if the house we manage to buy has one (its amazing how you can get fixated on little things sometimes). Fast forward to almost three years later, and it’s still here and is staying put! It’s so handy for reading in bed, you don’t have to get out of bed to switch the light off – amazing!

Just for good measure, here is a snap of our old bed. Up for sale on Gumtree if anyone wants it. I cannot believe the height difference between them!old bed

Some Wall Art

Today I am going to share a small selection of the wall art we have chosen for our home. Finally it seems, I am getting into the swing of blogging about our house, which is what I intended this blog to be based on when I started it almost a year ago!

Let me start by saying that Rob and I are not ones for filling our wall space with framed photo’s of ourselves, as we both are very camera shy. We hate having our photo taken and cringe when we see images of ourselves tagged on Facebook. Come to think of it, we do not have that many mirrors in our home either. Nope, we definitely prefer to hang art on our walls instead of our seeing ugly mugs. Much more easy on the eye!

Click on image for source and more info.

In our lounge, hanging in pride of place, above our sofa is this print below by Airside. Rob bought me this for Xmas a couple of years’s ago, after I sent him a link (it benefits both of us to email gift orders to each other!) It then sat in a tube for a while, until we painted the lounge. Then we took it along to our local framing store to get a frame specially made for it. Framing pictures is pretty expensive business let me tell you! This print combines two passions for both of us – music and design. We were both fans of Lemonjelly’s music and packaging, back in the day.

Image from Artrepublic

Next, in our dining room I have a reproduction print of this image below. Now I love this print, I love all its kitschy ugliness, and again its a nod to my favourite era the 1950’s, coincidentally also when our house was built.

I did originally plan for our dining room to be just a black, white and yellow colour scheme, but  eventually I chose these curtains for it. In my mind the two products co-ordinate perfectly together and are made for each other!

I love the history behind the image too. Please click on this link to learn more about the artist who painted The Chinese Girl. Then on this link to read about the subject of the painting.

Image from John Lewis

 

And please do read this link to a great blog post about the art that adorned the walls of many a home in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

Its funny that the blog post mentions Warhol, as patiently waiting in a cardboard tube, for me to spend a significant chunk of my wages on a frame for it, is a poster of this album cover, yet to be hung up in the dining room.

Is it a bit too much to have a huge yellow banana on your wall, a blue faced lady and dandelion clocks in the same room? Nah, more is more I say!

Poppy The Huntress

Please let me start this post by saying that my cat is a little dumb. She is more of a lover than a fighter when it comes to hunting prey. Thankfully in her whole six years of existence, she has never bought us home any ‘presents’!

However it seems that, for as much as we treat her like a human baby and however much she acts like a needy/greedy one (all she is interested in is cuddles and food!) Somewhere, deep within her, and hard wired to her DNA, is that killer instinct that all cats have.

Here is Poppy sitting on top of our next door neighbours chicken enclosure. They have four chickens that I am well jel of!

She was preying on a poor bird (a Robin redbreast) that had somehow flown into the enclosure. The poor thing was flying back and forth and obviously a little distressed, so a cat stalking and swearing at it from above, was not what it needed.

Rob went out and got her down from there and bought her inside, she then went straight back out though her cat flap to sit and stalk it from the roof of the enclosure again! Rob fetched her in again and this time locked the cat flap. Then around 10 minutes later, another cat came and sat up on the roof! Luckily by this time next-door had come home from the school run, and set the bird free (and a chicken, which made a run for it from the enclosure!)

Normally Poppy gives the next door neighbours garden and chicken run a wide birth as she is scared of them! Plus they have a dog. But as I say, somewhere inside that moddy-coddled, chubby little body of hers, is a lean mean killing machine….that never quite manages to catch anything – phew!

Its all drama here working from home eh!

And Then There Was Carpet!

Apologies for the quality of the photos, when I finally get round to doing official room tours on here, I hope to have learnt how to use my camera (if not I will cheat and get Rob to take the the pictures with his fancy DSLR!) But on Saturday, after two years of bare concrete floors, we got new carpet fitted in the lounge and dining room! This now means that these two rooms are nearly finished, we just have silly little things to do, like frame and hang pictures!

This also means that after nearly three years of living here, we are almost done with decorating! We just have the small spare bed to do, our bedroom, and the hallway and landing.

Then carpet the rest of the house and get new internal doors and maybe a new front door, then landscape the back garden (a huge job) and maybe the front driveway, then move house!…….I joke, I joke! Nah, once that’s all done we can enjoy this house and not feel like we are living in a dusty building project! Whoo hoo!

Did you spot Poppy in picture 4? Well that little miss was taken straight to the vets on the very same day, to have her claws clipped.

Please do not think that we are cruel, but as she is lazy and spends roughly 22-23 hours a day sleeping, instead of doing normal cat things like going outside and scratching trees and fences so she has exceptionally sharp claws.

There is no way we are going to let that little monster ruin the new carpets (that’s my job as chief tea spiller!) So hopefully it was £15 well spent!

Unfortunately she is still attempting to claw them the little so and so!