Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The ballad of the backwards hit…

Oh yeah, this post is going to include a sporting analogy. I hope you’re impressed….

In the awesome game that is rounders, there is a certain rule that comes into play when a ‘backwards hit’ occurs. A backwards hit is a good ball that hits off the bat, but then lands behind the batter line. The batter can only run to first and wait. And then what happens is this – the backstop takes the ball and has all the time in the world to walk up to the batter line and get the ball to second. At that moment, the whole game is waiting, paused, poised, ready to move when the backstop finally sends the ball into play. I love that moment in rounders. All that power, all that potential, just ready to kick things off.

Just now, my life feels a little bit like I’ve batted a backwards hit. I’m fine, I’m good, I’m safe, but on the other hand I’m waiting at first base, watching the backstop like a hawk, getting ready to react when the ball goes into play. In a fair few areas of my life, someone else’s decision, someone else’s call, someone else’s whim, someone else’s baggage, someone else’s choice….that’s what I’m waiting on. And I have no idea what’s going to happen. Maybe the backstop will fluff, and I’ll make it to second, or even score a rounder. Maybe I’ll just make it to second this time. Maybe I’ll get struck out…all I know is until some other things happen I’m a little bit in limbo. I just don’t know what to do with myself, to go all Dusty Springfield for a moment. Or at least I don’t into that ball comes into play. When it does, I guess I’ll just have to hope I’ll make the right decision.

Hahahaha, as if this blog weren’t mysterious enough sometimes, now I’ve broken out a sporting analogy. I love it. I’m also aware that this analogy applies to ooooh, between three and five different situations, in wildly different areas of my life. How on earth did that happen?

Anyways, enough of me. How are you?

Love,
Cxx

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I am....

...happy.

...sad.

...unsure.

...confused.

...confident.

...worried.

...calm.

...tired.

...stressed.

...somersaulting.

...honest.

...secretive.

...trusting.

...naive.

...a whole mess of emotions today.

Love,
Cxx

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Whoosh!

The general theme around here is busy, I have to say. You know those oh-so-annoying women in the adverts who are zooming hither and thither, being busy, in the think of it? I feel a bit like one of them! And that's termtime round here, let's face it. And I've always said I'd rather be busy than bored....

Snapshots from life right now? Email and text conversations making me smile...tuck shop chat with the Year 8s (now they're having a stressful time, let me tell you)....a lovely card from one of my pupils (back story: each morning I ask my class if they have any "love notes" for me (i.e. letters from parents). This morning Jenny pipes up "Yep, I do". And pulls out the cutest little Winnie-the-Pooh card, which simply reads inside "To Miss Thornley, I love you, Love Jenny." How cute?)...several dozen compliments in the space of a week, hitting all kinds of realms of my life...an unexpected and entertaining situation...and much to look foward to (as well as all the work, naturally).

To summarise - happy, tired, good. How are you?

Love,
Cxx

Monday, April 21, 2008

Singalong Sunday, 20th April 2008

1. I Bet That You Look Good On The Dance Floor – Arctic Monkeys

Oh my sweet badger in heaven. I am so tired as I write this post! This weekend was meant to be fairly lowkey, but instead all sorts of fun and games cropped up (all welcome, I hasten to add), and I find myself typing this on Sunday evening in my pyjamas far too early for a twentysomething, and a very tired country mouse! I thought, as I’ve got all sorts of bits and bobs floating around my head, I’d do a “singalong” post. It has been a while. Newer readers (hello, how are you? Love your shoes!), this series means what follows is just a rambletastic post, where as I think out loud and process those thoughts to my keyboard, I also relate which track I’m listening to. Enjoy!

2. Teardrop – Massive Attack

Yesterday morning was Saturday morning school, as usual for term time. My body is finding it a little difficult to adjust to full-on six day weeks after the lull of bliss that was Easter break, so yesterday I arrived at 8.20 rather than my usual start time of 7.40! Nonetheless, classes were fine, meetings were dull, marking was done, chat was had. By 3 I was done and ready to head off for some lunch and onwards. I popped home, grabbed some food, and set off for Bracknell in my wee green car.

3. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word – Elton John

It turns out that finding Bracknell is really, really easy. Finding The Downshire Arms, where I was meeting my friends, was far more difficult! But eventually I got there, and met the lovely Siobhan (she was looking foxy, my friends. Great outfit!), the amazing Elliot (one of the funniest and most charming men I know, and I know some treasures) and Tim. Tim is awesome! But I only learnt this yesterday – he and I had been in the same circle as one another for a fair while, without ever actually meeting each other….so we were mutually excited to finally meet the (in)famous Tim / the (in)famous Claire. Luckily, we hit it off, and within three minutes we were all chatting about cartoons, kink and mermen.

4. Pull Shapes – The Pipettes

But why were we in Bracknell? It’s an hour from me, and an hour from London, where the others live. Why traipse all that way, I hear you ponder? Well, the gorgeous Jo was in a production of Oliver! at the theatre space she works in, so we were the cheer squad for her last performance. After the others finished their meals, Elliot, Tim, Siobhan and I piled into little green car and headed to the Arts Centre. After a random-as journey including a “stop on a sixpence” on a true roundabout of doom (it had a road going through the roundabout???) we arrived, and sat in the bar chatting about sixth form, promiscuity equations and situations only certain friends can mock you for. I love the conversations I have with my friends.

5. We Will Rock You – Queen

And then, to the show. It was a marvellous production, and I was hugely impressed by it. I also showcased my ability to be a tad silly when I got a run of the giggles during one scene, because I kept on finding innuendoes. Whoops!

6. Through The Barricades – Spandau Ballet

(I have this song? Really?) Anyways, the show finished, and Jo invited Elliot, Siobhan, Tim and I to the last night party. It was a riot! Great band doing covers, fun dancing, and the awesomeness that was the ten-year-old child who nabbed Tim’s top hat and became ‘Top Hat Boy’. Originally Siobhan and Tim were due on trains, but we decided pretty early on that we’d just all head back to mine, and be able to enjoy the party. So we did. At about half-one Siobhan, Tim and I headed back to the deep dark country…we got back here about 3!

7. Robin and Marian – Nickel Creek

We drank some mugs of tea and I gave the mini-tour, and Siobhan went to bed soon after. Tim and I? Sat up chatting and goofing around and being silly and watching South Park and generally behaving in that pretty awesome way you sometimes don’t do enough of in your adult life. I think after hearing so much about one another we were always going to have a good old chat when we finally met. Not much sleep was to be had – how can you sleep when there’s chat of Chap Olympics and transferable skills to be had? :-)

8. Patience – Take That

So before we knew it, it was 9, and time to get up and at ‘em. I dropped Siobhan off at the train station and took Tim home. Tim lives, like, three-quarters of an hour from me, but I felt bad for him having to wait around – Siobhan’s train went direct to Londinium, but Tim’s involved changes and waits and boredom. So into the car we went. I was rewarded for my kindness with a cup of tea, and an episode of Hollyoaks (my fave guilty pleasure programme), and a really good chat about Hollyoaks with Tim and his mother and sister. I love meeting other people who share my passion for Britain’s cheesiest soap!

9. Easy Silence – Dixie Chicks

Then, back into the car, and a whiz across a county to meet Fi, Hayley and Rach for lunch. I was so tired and hungry (I hadn’t eaten in about 24 hours and had had little to no sleep), but ended up having a nice time, with lots of girly chat and good things. Then into school, then home for bath time. And now I’m here, determined to finish this post and phone Nai and change my bedsheets and do some laundry before I stop and sleep, even though my whole body is just crying out for rest and my eyes are drooping more with each passing sentence.

10. Go or Go Ahead – Rufus Wainwright

So that was my weekend. How was yours?

Love,
Cxx

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thud!

So it’s back to school with a vengeance. Coming back on a Wednesday is a double-edged sword, really. On the one hand, closer to the weekend….on the other hand, longest day of my workweek! Yesterday I started at my desk at 7.30….and I finally left school at 22.30…. Oh. My. Gosh. It was a particularly hectic workday as well – I managed to spend a whopping 35 minutes away from children or paperwork in that time (yes, I counted. And yes, that includes loo breaks!). I love my boarding day! Heh.

But I got through it, and it was lovely to see the kids. Walking across our wee playground first thing on the first day of term when you’re a Year 3 teacher around here tends to unleash the kind of mania usually reserved for Julia Roberts at a premiere….chaos! Good for the ego, though. And it is lovely to see my wee gang – they are such a lovely bunch of kids, and while I miss being on holiday, it’s fun to be back in the realm of colour and noise and hugs and silliness. And it’s only just over a month till half-term :-).

And now I’ve survived a Thursday too. Thursdays are always busy (I think my favourite bit is the added bonus of an hour of playground duty banter on top of my class duties…), but the real cherry on top is my Year 7 lesson last thing. Have you ever tried to make 15 hungry twelve year olds study at 5 o’clock in the afternoon? It’s quite the challenge, let me tell you.

But it’s done. And I’m just scrawling this before boxercise (a.k.a. “Oweeoweeow”), and then a lazy evening at home in front of the TV, with the weekend so close I can taste it. Yay!

How are you doing?

Love,
Cxx

Monday, April 14, 2008

List update number 2....

So, a little over a year ago, I sat down and wrote a list of the things I would like to do in the next five years or so (http://countrymouseclaire.blogspot.com/2007/03/list.html). It was kind of a knee-jerk reaction after hearings lots of plans from my organised, grownup friends...I might not be on the marriage->houses->babies->etc. path at the current time, but there are things I want to do and things I want to acheive. So I sat down, and literally typed the 70 things I thought of first, and now a lot of my time is spent trying to work towards things on my list. I do so love a project.

By August of last year I'd achieved seven. And today I realise I've acheived four more - since that post I have visited Toronto, and Montreal, and Madrid. And I've joined ebay. I've also started work on a lot of the targets that are going to take time and application and sticking to - I'm blogging away, and should hit one thousand posts sometime in 2010 (number 5 on the list). I haven't yet been to two dozen gigs (number 8), but the total is going up steadily. My running and swimming are getting better (nos. 12 & 13), but the 5 kilometres and 50 lengths are a few months away just yet. I am reading away to conquer the reading list (number 14; see http://readingmyfriends.blogspot.com/ for further details). The sponsored healthkick (plug time - www.justgiving.com/clairethornley) is helping with two targets at once - to drop two dress sizes (number 24) and the raising money for charity one (number 69). My finances are getting more and more organised (number 47, number 70), and if I keep working at it, I should have a savings pool (number 56) before the end of this year. And my hair is the longest it's been in years in an attempt to get it to elbow length again (number 42).

I like to keep busy.

As for a few of the other things - I'm going to be hoping to work on them in the not too distant! I'll keep you posted :-).

Cxx

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A blink and you’ll miss it visit…

So I’m just back from dropping the always gorgeous Nai (a.k.a Mlle Wilson in the confines of this blog) off at the train station. She gave me a call earlier this week and decided a visit was long overdue, so I was delighted when she swept into town at teatime yesterday.

We had a right girly catch up. We listened to music - Nai has some of the coolest taste in music I know, but what I adore about her is her true love for what I can only call guilty pleasure music (a love which I share). Cue much busting out of Whitney, Bon Jovi, Huey Lewis…. I love my cool and hip stuff, but there’s a seam of cheese somewhere in my soul that just loves these tunes…. We ate snacks and drank wine and quoted Dylan Moran and Mean Girls and song lyrics. We talked about fashion and shopping and clothes and boys, boys, boys. We went for a truly bad meal (worst fish and chips I’ve had this century. Gruuuugk.), then came home and drank peppermint tea. Then we sat in our PJs all this morning and chatted some more, then went shopping (not in our pyjamas). It was ace.

Apart from that, it’s kind of been housewife central around here. My flat is genuinely tidy (it’s quite unnerving, really). All my thank you notes are sent. My cupboards are stocked. When I open my wardrobe, there are loads of clean, laundered, ironed clothes. The spring clean has been well and truly done. I’ve also been reading a fair bit (trying to make a dent in the reading list) and re-embracing the gym (trying to make a dent in myself).

As for the weather, it is actually gorgeous here, again. My little village does spring very well – our drive is bordered on either side with oodles of daffodils and buttercups, there are bunnies bouncing in the paddock, and to my eternal glee there were two ducks waddling down the path yesterday evening. I love ducks. The days are sunny and there’s only the slightest breeze in the air (meaning I’m embracing the strange world of not requiring a coat and some gloves and a scarf and a hat and an umbrella every time I leave the house), and the birds are all singing and chirping, and full of the proverbial joys of spring. The nights are reminding us that we’re not quite clear of winter yet, though, with temps heading down to the freezing mark. I’m quite happy to pile on an extra blanket though, if the days are so bonny.

Back to the gym for me now (woo, aerobics!) and then a funfilled weekend ahead – Morecambe tomorrow with the gorgeous Tigger (we are staying in a hotel! I LOVE hotels (my family are camping folk. Hotels are a strange and exotic phenomena for me!)), then househunting on Saturday (not for me!) and going through to Liverpool for dinner with the gorgeousness that is Amanda and Sheli (and maybe other folk? I’m hazy on the details, but very excited!), then a late night drive home before going to London to be part of our Joinee Marathon Cheer Squad (big shout out to Steve – you go, boy!). Huzzah!

Then on Monday I have to get ready for the start of the summer term…

Oh my.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Love,
Cxx

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Blogging in bed…

…has to be one of life’s simplest pleasures. It’s 11.35, I have a mug of peppermint tea, Motley Crue are blasting on the radio (I *love* late night Radio 1 at the moment. It’s all random-as – here a documentary on rock, there a discology (discography?) of Radiohead, here a mashup of Dusty Springfield and some ‘fat beats’. Totally appeals to my inner music magpie), and I’m sat in my fave PJs of the moment, smelling of vanilla and baby lotion, with a couple of chapters of a good book and a pleasant nights sleep awaiting me. Happy sigh…

So here’s a list of a lot of the things that are making me smile / purr / happy right now – regular readers will know these crop up from time to time! I think it’s important to keep the blessings we all have in mind, even if it’s just something as simple as writing a few things down. For many years, I was almost afraid to be happy about this kind of thing, like if you mentioned it, it might disappear…but now I think owning happiness, being grateful for what we have, is an incredibly powerful thing.

So here’s what’s really floating my boat, April 2008 stylee:
Reading catalogues in the bath. One of my main joys of my lovely wee flat (and believe me, it *is* wee, but I love it) is my bath. It’s a real 1950s classic, deep and wide and the perfect length for someone my height to lay out in. So one of my main joys is taking a bubble bath and reading catalogues or books or magazines in it.
Hollyoaks. Mmmmm. Guilty pleasure ahoy!
Cooking. I love to cook, and I love to bake. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly awesome at either of them, but I really enjoy trying!
Postcards.
Upcoming Pirate Parties!
The gym
. Hahahahahahaha. No, in all seriousness, I am really starting to enjoy working out. I had got into quite a groove before Easter break, and the fortnight away certainly took its toll. So it’s good to be back and getting back into it.
Silly, silly phone calls. For years I wasn’t too good on the phone, and would always bounce folk to voicemail, not through any callousness, just through a fear of my own ineptitude! But now I do love the sheer randomness of my normal phone calls as they are now.
Random Acts of Kindness, whether I’m giving or receiving.
Writing letters.
Vibes / prayers / thoughts – I think it’s so lovely that we can choose to give these things to and receive these things from the people around us.
Daydreaming.
Babies! Heh, my life is baby central at the moment. And it’s great! Keep ‘em coming, buddies! The song ‘I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten’ by Dusty Springfield. How can I not have listened to this before? It’s awesome.
In-jokes and innuendo.
Sending packages hither and thither.
Lovely people.
Photos.
I am getting better and better at remembering to take pictures, and then actually uploading them and getting copies and stuff. I have a few albums full now, and it’s so nice to have a look through them from time to time.
Father Ted.
22p mini eggs.
Spring cleaning!
The current clear-out is a work in progress, but I’m starting to get there (I think!). I am such a hoarder, especially when it comes to toiletries, stationery, or that most deadly of things “stuff that might come in handy…”
Mix CDs.
Random greetings -
like earlier today, when I was in Tescos and I bumped into one of the mummies from school, then two kiddies I knew, then as I walked out of the store, one of our ‘cool’ year 8s totally embarrassed himself by sticking his head out of the car window to yell a lusty “Hey Miss Thornley!”. The joys of small town life. Dancing. I’d kind of forgotten how much fun it can be.
People being nice about me. I am lucky enough to have some people in my life who think I’m OK, and a few who think I’m pretty cool. This makes my inner fat-ugly-silly-low-self-esteem girl very happy. It makes me pretty darn happy too, for what it’s worth!
Emails, comments, text messages. I love how you can be having a bit of a bummer of a day, and then someone reaches out, in however small a way, and chooses to touch your life. Whether it’s an email filling me in on the heady world of PhDs; or a comment that connects with me; or a text message telling me I’m awesome, or makes me smile, or that’s planning a get-together, or that’s just discussing Doctor Who, I love these little communications.
The Feist Album (The Reminder).
Doctor Who.
SUNSHINE!!!!

So that’s my little list of joy, as it were. I’m sure if I sat down and wrote a list of all the things that are bugging me, I could dredge some stuff up. But who would that help? What purpose would that serve? I’d be sad, you’d be sad (and probably bored), and nothing would get fixed. And I’m all too aware that in a fragile and tempestuous world, it’s important to be grateful for what we do have, in my opinion. I’ve typing this in my safe, warm flat, after a day of relaxation, working out and light housework, in a country where I’m free to live my life in the way I see fit. I am amazingly lucky, and while my life isn’t perfect, I am all too aware of the luck I do have. And that’s why I choose to look at the good around me, and work on the not so good. Maybe that’s enough. I’ll let you know!

So, what’s making you smile today?

Love, as always,
Cxx

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Return (Caution, this post is parentheses heavy!).

So I am back in the south, after another lovely visit home. I love heading back to Scotland, and this time was especially awesome as I got to see so many of the people I love over the fortnight, and have such great catch ups and good chats. Lord bless the internet and post and mobile phones and all, but there is something to be said for sitting down with a cup of tea, or a can of diet coke, or a glass of wine, and just chatting and seeing where the convo ends up. I’ve seen and met lots of things on this visit too – new flats, new babies, new cars. This means I’m as broody as ever for babies (heh, I’ve been broody since I was 16, so I can totally deal with that ;)), but have a new found broody streak for houses and flats! Luckily, as a single person on a teachers wage, for the next few years all I *can* do is dream about property. Sigh. I have discovered a new fascination with estate agents’ window displays though…

So Thursday was the first day of driving, down from home to Glasgow. One of the true delights of the A9 route has to be Ballanluig service station cafĂ© (yeah, the healthkick totally suffered over this break home. Guess who’s going to the gym in a wee while?). South of Pitlochry, north of Perth, and a bit of a legend. Best bacon rolls in Scotland, and that perfect 100-odd miles from home rest stop for travelling Forresians! Then down to Glasgow for a visit with Laura and Garry. They are genuinely adorable, and I’ve known them for quite a while – I was at the party almost five years ago when they first hooked up! Garry wasn’t well, so Laura and I went out for tapas and wine and cocktails. It was great, and we really got our chat on. Laura and I always get down to the nitty-gritty of chat, whether we haven’t seen each other for days or years. I’m so glad we got a chance to catch up :-).

Friday was back in to the little green car of fun and on the road again, this time to Kilmarnock, to pop in and see my old friend Morag and her new baby, Alexis. Morag and I roomed together for three out of four years of uni, and she’s such a cool chick. She also knows way too much about me! The last time I’d seen her was almost three years ago, when she married the lovely Scott (beautiful wedding. I cried, ooooh, about seven times in that service?). So I was overdue a visit (plus I wanted to meet the newbie!), and had a lovely cuppa and a chat and a cuddle with the wee one (who is totally precious! That strange sound Friday? Was probably my ovaries!). And then a seven-hour drive home!

Saturday was Sophie’s wedding, which was nice. Sophie looked beautiful and the service was very touching (I only welled up twice this time. I’m getting so tough in my old age!) and everyone looked gorgeous. I then managed to run the “when are you getting married?” gauntlet very well, I feel, without losing my temper at all (I never really do on this question, as I find it more diverting than anything else!), and with plenty of comedy. This question from strangers always amuses me (actual introduction from an older blokie yesterday? “Hello. My name’s Bob. So, when’s it your turn, eh?” I was then impressed with his recovery, which seemed to revolve vaguely around the plot of the new movie '27 dresses', which I haven't seen yet, but Bobo had, and he assured me "it all turns out well in the end". So that's good to know ;).), and when it’s acquaintances or colleagues I just feel like saying “Oh, next week!”. Because obviously I’m hiding a fiancĂ© (and an engagement ring) somewhere, just for banter. Imagine me rolling my eyes at this point. But I know it’s just them being interested and wanting the best for me. Isn’t it?

And now it’s Sunday and I am lying in bed typing this, observing the carnage that is my flat. I need to spring clean, stat, before the clutter starts actually attacking me. So as much as I’d love to lie here, blogging in bed, drinking coffee, it’s definitely time to get moving – gym, emails and grocery shopping, then spring-cleaning beckon. Glamour, thy name is Claire…

Hope you are all having a lovely weekend!

Love,

Cxx

PS We have snow. It’s fab! And no doubt will be gone by tomorrow…

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Anticipation, Expectation, Exploration...

The moment before something is often the best part, don't you think? Me, I'm a big fan of the build up to stuff. The shopping and chopping and cooking before a good meal. The table full of gifts, all covered in shiny paper and loving jottings, waiting to be unwrapped. The moment when you're onstage, and the band have started, and the audience is ready, and you're about to sing. That split second before a kiss, when everything just seems to stop...and hang...and slow...and then....

I'm good at anticipation.

Despite being by nature quite hotheaded and impetuous, I am good at waiting.

Sometimes.

I think this is because I like the lead up to things. I love having a glass of wine and blasting music and getting all glammed up for a ball or a formal. I love researching and reading and planning before a trip or a holiday. And since childhood I have preferred Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. Christmas Eve even smells good.

Tonight, however, I'm a little antsy. I'm a little muddled. And I just want to get a certain thing sorted. Soon.

Love,
Cxx

PS In typical Claire style, I've found time to write this...but not to pack for my journey south tomorrow... that part of the buildup I've never been good at!
PPS How cool is Google Reader?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fools and Flying Penguins...

Ah, April Fools Day. That most unique of celebrations. As always, I learnt more than I needed to know at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Fool's_Day). Man, some of those hoaxes are sophisticated. I used to love a good prank when I was at school (our teachers must have hated it when April 1st fell during term times), and I still giggle at some of the better jokes now.

One of which has to be the BBC's efforts for this year: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/portal/ttv/arts.jhtml?bcpid=1358314062&bclid=1363192294&bctid=1482436596
Flying penguins! It's so well done too - although my personal fave moment is right at the end when the wee fella tries to land!

I also remember the time (as does the lovely Anna) from the delight that was SM:TV, when Dec 'collapsed' during a dance routine. Cue lots of worried children. And students. And mummies. Turns out it was just an elaborate (or, in this case, not so elaborate) prank for April 1st. And that's the central problem with April Fools, isn't it? What you find hysterical, someone else migt find hurtful, or unkind, or worrying....

Have you ever played a memorable April Fools prank? I toyed with the idea of doing something this year, but thought better of it. Sure, I could only speak French all morning. Sure, I could TP my parents' cars. Sure, I could send my friends and family an email saying "Hi, I'm getting married / moving to Poland / having a baby"...but my friends and family would probably just shrug and smile and deal with whatever. They are cool like that. And as above, it wuld just cause stress for someone, somewhere. And that's so not my bag. This might be why I always have a chuckle about the media hoaxes, but find some of the smaller, more personal hoaxes leave a bad taste in the mouth. Maybe I'm getting old. Maybe I'm getting wiser. Maybe I've just lost my prank skills.

So instead I think I'll just go giggle at those penguins again. Look at those little guys go!

Love,
Cxx

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