Bucket list…

This is kind of an American concept I think, at least the name is; the ‘Do Before I Die’ list has been around for a long, long time. I’m just getting to the stage in my life when I want to do amazing things that I had either dismissed or never even considered before now.

Here are a few…lantern valentine car  body paradise thai butterbeer chanel dance canyon vegas 1 class sistine yacht kissing lotto1 taxi book2 NY times square tiffany liberty cuddles hotel tattoo tower ikea cali polish shirt owl Hogwarts2 pisa balloons fmae book paper spa limo heels hair pink soldier Roadtrip 1 Platform Hogwarts Puppy Photo US states Glitter NY live NY Kiss NY Xmashappily ever after

You know, just a few things… There are many more.

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Relearning Talent.

Some people instinctively know how to cook. Some can sing like no other. Some people can ride a horse perfectly after never having met one before.

Not me.

Okay, I’m a pretty fab home cook and I can ride but I had to watch and study and learn. I had to imitate others to be able to do these things myself. Therefore I am not naturally talented. I have to keep learning, trying, experimenting and refining to be good at something. Hey, don’t we all? I think it was my Dad that said,

“You might be the world’ s best violinist or archer but if you never pick up a violin or a bow how will you know?”

I’m not sure where he heard that but he’s right.

Everyone in the world has a talent but if you never get the chance to try that one thing, you’ll never know if you could have been the best. Lack of patience can hold you back. Lack of imagination can hold you back. Parents, family, peers, colleagues, friends, fear of the unknown, money, culture and indifference can hold you back.

I love painting. I feel I’m not naturally talented but I can imitate very successfully. With patience, practise and perseverance I think you can be good at anything. So I’m a pretty good painter. Just because I really really want to be. If you look at my Dad’ s saying the other way round, there’s no point being the best painter in the world if you don’t actually paint.

The thing is, like I said before, if I don’t keep doing what  I love doing (painting) then I lose the muscle memory, the colour palettes, the shaping, all the little tricks that made that one single painting good all those weeks ago. I have to practise and build it all back up again. I cannot simply create masterpieces. I am not a fluke; a rare talent that just is.

I’m not alone. Most of the world is like me. We all have to practise and keep going. For most real people it’s discipline that makes us great, not always talent.

I will keep going with the painting. Eventually I will get something fabulous on paper that makes other people say “Wow, aren’t you talented.” and I will say “Yes, why yes I am.”

My new addiction…

I have a few little obsessions. Generally they change with the times. Although I don’t think I’ll be rid of this one any time soon.

I adore mood boards and sketchbooks. If I could, I would hang a cork board and pin things on my wall until it’s inches deep with cut outs and clippings. Unfortunately this would be expensive; books and magazines don’t come cheap.

So what have I found?

Pinterest.

Yup. If you’ve known about Pinterest for years then I apologise, this post will bore you to tears. If not, YOU NEED TO CHECK OUT PINTEREST IF YOU ARE ANYTHING LIKE ME.

So, I collect and collate. I horde and I keep. Pinterest is basically an online mood board or pin board for anything and everything you like, want to share, want to read, rate or follow; recipes, animal photography, pet pictures, craft projects, diy tips, interior design ideas, posters, sayings, tattoo ideas, wedding inspiration, kid stuff, education, health and well being, beauty, products, jewellery and fashion. Everything. On one board alone I probably have over 400 items or ‘pins’. These pins are links back to their original source which is fab news if you find some good stories while browsing that you want to keep or read later.

The thing is, for me, it’s like reading a magazine that changes to suit what you want to look at. It’s the magazine chameleon. I get home. I pick up Kindle. I browse Pinterest. So much so now OH has noticed. We watch tv and I browse Pinterest. “How can you even be watching this and messing with that?” He has now noticed I laugh at my Kindle screen more than I laugh at him. For him, this is the intruder in our relationship.

I even feel a bit guilty if he looks over and catches me on it.

So, this obviously means I am addicted. I have to stop. Go cold turkey. Pull the plug.

But I’ve just seen the most amazing print your own scarf tutorial…

😉

What next…?

Christmas has come and gone. New Year has flashed out of sight. It feels like all the many months in between stretch before us in never ending monotony and dreariness.

January is pretty much the month of letdowns. Deflation. Anticlimax. We get our credit card bills and hope they got the name, address AND reference number wrong at the top of the page with big numbers on… The sad and partially eaten-by-the-cat Christmas tree comes down. The house looks empty. We go back to work. It feels like we never left. Life has not miraculously changed. We give ourselves Resolutions for the New Year. Things we know we should do but also know there’s not a snowball’s chance in Hawaii that it’d ever get done.

It’s funny, that. I sat in assembly next to my year four class and the headmistress asked what all of our resolutions were. The teachers all said the same thing- “healthy eating/living/gym/personal trainer/swimming pass”. Very nice teachers. Well done. Even if you never try to change or if you sack your personal trainer due to “other commitments”. Uh huh. Yeah. Sure.

You know what my kids said? “I’m going to read to my little sister when I can remember.” “I’m going to be kinder to my Mum. She does so much for us.” “I’m going to try to tell my family I love them. Even when they annoy me”.

Brutally honest some of them were. But the thing that made me proud was the way they wanted to change for the benefit of people they loved. Not all of them. Don’t get me wrong, kids can be selfish too. Even if they never do these things. The way they considered someone else for that moment, thought about how lucky they were to have them, just made me smile.

We could all do to listen to childish innocence once in a while. Think, even for just that moment, about someone other than yourself. The teachers responses didn’t surprise me. That whole ‘look out for number one’ mentality seems to permeate the boundaries of home. I don’t like that and it makes me sad to think my family have to cope with my selfishness.

So my resolution is going to be the same everyday, for every new year we enter. I am going to be more aware. Awareness for me means not taking OH for granted. He does the cleaning, the washing, tidying, cooking, basically everything, and he does it so quietly that I have been completely selfish and unaware of how little  I bring to the workings of our home and relationship. I am going to be more aware. I am going to text my brother more, just to let him know I’m thinking of him. Awareness. I am going to call my Dad as much as I call my Mam. Awareness. I’m going to consider WHY a child says/does things before I dole out the aftermath of judgement. I’m going to be attentive to Jethro, my little guardian angel, because he gives me so much joy, I feel I need to give more back.

That’s really the key here. Giving.

Awareness for me is knowing what I’ve got, being grateful for it and giving it back.

The new Kindle Fire.

I sit here, writing a review on the new Kindle Fire from my new Kindle Fire.

I must admit, I love a new gadget; something new to play with, figure out, personalise…

Well, from a fabulous new gadget point of view the new Fire definitely deserves five full stars. I have never been good with computers. I get them to do the job I need doing if only through sheer will and not any great affinity for technology.

The kindle has a very simple set of menus that load quickly and are easy to navigate. The home screen shows all of your books, apps, favourite websites, music and photos as nice big cubes to scroll through (see, no stupid techno-jargon here) and if that’s too much, you can choose one sub section to browse from the left-right list at the top of the home screen. Easy.

I am an avid book fan. Books, the paper things that can’t crash and don’t need charging, are a tad bulky and I knew I’d need a kindle eventually. When my laptop died Dad told me this was the best choice. Probably my only choice as my house just isn’t big enough for all my books.

So, books on the Fire. Once set up you can browse on Amazon.co.uk and buy books through the link to the kindle store (something you don’t see on the Amazon website itself). Downloading a book takes less than 3 seconds and once bought, is backed up on Kindles own ‘server’ Cloud. I don’t have money to throw around so am selective when paying for books which, on a kindle, aren’t exempt from vat charges by the way. But, the vast amount of freebies found through Books- store in your menu mean you can try several thousand wonderful trashy tales just to get you used to the way it all works.

Apps are another favourite and of course, I don’t pay for these. They are silly time wasters and a fantastic addition to your home screen just to give you the option of a distraction other than reading. Unfortunately there are hundreds of apps that all do the same things. I rarely want to know the weather in LA (and only LA it seems) but would much rather have a lunar calendar app installed. Well, if there is a free one, I sure as hell can’t find it.  Though if you are an angry birds fan, you are thoroughly catered for.

The touch screen sensitivity is fantastic and I am  typing this whole thing on the touch screen keyboard with very little difficulty. Wonderful stuff.

BBC iplayer is pre installed, facebook is easy to find and the ebay app keeps you completely on top of your purchasing. It is an android and the similarities between the Fire and my Galaxy SII is odd. Meaning unless you can chance over the running systems confidently without turning your Kindle into an empty black shell it is and does exactly the same as a phone. Only minus the camera and calls. Email. No problem. Word files. You gotcha.

I think once you regularly start using the Fire, it should begin to gain some sort of  character and personality. Adding skins and accessories will only help me become more attached to my device. With that in mind there is a veritable treaure trove of goodies aimed at the new Fire owner (beware, the Fire is smaller than the Fire HD an cannot be used with covers, skins etc for use with this bigger model.) Apps get added as and when you find them, my Christmas gift list app being a firm favourite right now alongside amazon and solitaire (but no, I didn’t spend five hours playing on it) and I’m going to add other free apps from my favourite websites to ease the shopping experience on the run up to Christmas.

Getting online is easy and once you have popped your home broadband password in, you never need to do it again. Your Fire, when turned on to receive WiFi, will only prompt for connection if it cannot find your default/home connection.

Battery life is extended by turning off WiFi searching and if you only read books rather than playing solitaire for 5 hours straight (no, I did not do this, I just assume it’s common sense). To charge fully on an old style Kindle charger which, no, does NOT come with the product, luckily my OH has old style Kindle, takes a fair few hours which is probably why the cheeky bastards at Amazon took a charger out of the product specifics and now try to charge you an arm and a leg for the ‘Fast Charger’ or what ever the heck they call it, which charges, you got it, faster. This is the only downfall for me which has less to do with the product and more to do with greedy retailers.

I’ll add photos as and when I upload them onto my device. I’ll have to sync up my Galaxy and Fire to swap photos around through the laptop as intermediary… nice when they keep it simple no?

 

September.

I love September; so this post will be dedicated to everything that reminds me of September, everything that this month is to me, everything that screams memories, thoughts and ideas about this month.

Firstly, of course, it’s the month of mine and Other Half’s birthdays. So, presents and cake!

And the Seasons really do become quite apparent when September hits.

And, as you know me so well, I do like a nice autumn-y scent to snuggle up to after a breezy walk back from pub! 😉

No, this isn’t me but I don’t have a good pic of any of my Mam’s home made Aran jumpers she has knitted me. Still, aran means snuggly warmth without a coat- September. Follow the link to get yourself one.

With me wanting to become a Primary School Teacher, September yells “Back To School!”

At this precise moment I’m sat in what seems to be early morning darkness. The rain is lashing down on my garden and my little car outside, I have the promise of getting drenched cycling to work and I feel really good about it. Rain in September is special. It’s invigorating; it adds to the damp and softly decaying smell of leaves on the ground (a reminder of the rural home and village I grew up in) and it lasts ALL DAY. The energy and simple cleanliness of Mother Nature at it’s best after a hot summer. The darkness too isn’t quite as foreboding or depressing this month. I’ve only just noticed it getting darker and I can rearrange my furniture for cosiness. Jethro isn’t so pleased. He doesn’t like going out when the rain is coming down practically sideways but he watches it fall from his perch on the back of the sofa in the front window, listening to the noise it makes on the plastic corrugated sheeting of our conservatory roof.

September is my favourite month.

What do you all love about September?

People who write reviews.

Okay, so the people I am talking about here are the kind of people to go to a great little steakhouse that we love, order a fish special and then complain about it the WHOLE NIGHT continuing to complain by writing a review online to try to put other people off.

For a start, WHO THE HELL GOES OUT OF THEIR WAY TO GO TO A STEAKHOUSE FAMOUS FOR IT’S STEAK, TO ORDER A FISH PLATTER?

Secondly, I write reviews, but apparently not on the things I should be. We recently returned from a 10 day holiday to Gran Canaria and stayed in a small resort called Cordial Green Golf. Can I just say, the reviews we read were not all that great but the photos and write ups for the actual resort were so (as it looked the least tacky and possibly the newest on the island) we went.

And you know what? It was great! I mean, it was three star so there weren’t chocolates on your pillows or a floating pool bar or your own personal butler but hey; we stayed in a clean, tidy, compact little two story apartment they call a ‘bungalow’, the two pools were IMMACULATE and one of the two was huge, we spoke to a couple of cats who lived there presumably to keep the pests down, (of which we never saw a single nasty creature so they were doing a good job) the bar on site was nice, just a bar you know, the food was really good too- we had a sandwich for one lunch, hamburger for another, bar food, another night I had the most fantastic sirloin steak (and I like good steak) that we went back so I could make OH have one too. We very rarely ate in the apartment as, to be honest, what’s the point in going on holiday to go grocery shopping, cooking for yourself and doing dishes? We went out for two meals a day and as it;s so cheap out there, barely noticed the cost of the taxis to get out and back.

We’ve sadly read some reviews of the resort since returning and get madder and madder every time we do. This holiday was a cheap getaway. That’s it. Our 10 day stay probably equated to about £200-300ish with the flights taking up the rest of our budget. I mean, come on, what do you expect for that? I’m telling you, I’ve paid more and had worse. I think some people want everything for nothing. One reviewer apparently fell down the stairs during the night on a return from the bathroom. Hmm, we tried it and to be honest, to deliberately bypass the bed you’re trying to get back to to then fall down stairs that are big and obvious is a feat we just couldn’t accomplish. This reviewer then got taken to hospital because of her stupidity and was appalled when the hotel management didn’t visit to sit by her sickbed, ‘apologise and bring her flowers’. Why? Why would he? YOU fell down the stairs. YOU. Your clumsiness, illogical movement and frankly ridiculous sense of direction helped YOU fall down the stairs.

I can bet she’s visited a few foreign hospitals in her time.

Another reviewer wanted compensation from the resort for ’30 euros of groceries spoiled’ when there was a huge power cut one afternoon. When the resort wouldn’t comply she went to a holiday Rep to demand money from her. Lets just say, in my line of work, I also meet goons like this who demand things when they’re mad. Who do they demand compo off if there is a power cut in their hometown in England and £300-400 of frozen food is spoiled? Hmm…

We’re also told in my line of business that if a customer is dissatisfied with a product or service they will tell at least 10 other people about it. Probably write to your head office too no doubt. If a customer is satisfied or really pleased with a product or service they usually tell 2 friends. Two. So in the grand scheme of things there is one good review to every five. Even if you have a thousand happy customers, you’ll hear back from the few who are NOT happy.

Sucks right?

I know some businesses are not up to scratch and some products aren’t worth what you paid for them but be realistic in your expectations people, if you pay £4.99 for and ipod speaker, realise it will not last forever and will not be as good as a product worth £499.00. Come on! Seriously.

Well from now on, when I’m pleased with a product or service in a store, enjoyed a meal in a restaurant or a stay in a hotel I WILL review it.

I urge everyone else to do the same and help rid review sights consumers and businesses rely on, of hundreds of negative and whingy reviews. If you love it, TELL people about it! There should be more balance.