Show Us Your Life: Favourite Online Shops

This week on Show Us Your Life, sweet Kelly is having us write about our favourite online shops.  I'm not the most devoted shopper in realmlife, so I have to say that online shopping is often a complete godsend, particularly when prepping for special occasions like Christmas.  My top five sites are probably:

Not on the high street:  This site has grown and grown over the last few years and is chockablock with the loveliest items - homewares, gifts, wedding things, jewellry, baby things.  It's a great portal for creators too - my clever crafty friend Vixie has items on the site, clever girl!

Amazon: It's big & it's clever.  I try to shop indie where I can in the real world, but amazon can often tempt me.  You know how it goes - it's late, you read a review of a great book or zip across to amazon and it arrives in the next couple of days.  Amazon and my credit card are way, way too friendly.

Threadless: I love Threadless for cute, quirky stuff - teeshirts, hoodies, homewares.  Even though I'm a grown up, I do still love a goofy, geeky teeshirt!

Boden: Boden (along with M & S) is pretty much my work uniform.  Both brands make beautiful, well-made, quality clothes that look cute and can stand up to the demands of a teaching day (muddy hands, paint, up-down-up-down!).  Boden's cuts are great also - the tops aren't too lowcut nor the skirts too short, which is grand.

The wedding of my dreams:  I love this little site for wedding details.  Had I the money to spare I could spend far too much on details like bunting and mailboxes, haha!  It's lovely to while away ten minutes and has certainly given me a few ideas!

I love online shopping and am so looking forward to finding some new destinations through this link up!
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Show Us Your Life: Favourite Apps

This week over at Kelly's, we are linking up to chat about our favourite apps.

Now, as I sat down to write this I suddenly thought....what if it's favourite apps as in food rather than apps on your phone?  I am sat here, all set to write about the latter, so I hope that's the plan.  If not, let's just embrace the confusion, eh?

I love my smartphone - I always seem to be flitting around and having the capability to log on pretty much anywhere is just brilliant.  I'm not someone who's permanently attached to my phone by any means (it spends an awful lot of its life in a bag while I'm teaching or socialising or upstairs on my dresser, and is rarely off silent mode), but I love how useful it can be!  Below are some of my favourite apps:

Tunein Radio is fabulous.  You can be anywhere with wifi or 3G and can connect to internet radio from anywhere in the world!  I can check in with the news at home on Moray Firth Radio, listen along to worship from the same churches my friends attend in Sydney and Texas, and indulge my penchant for country with the best music from Nashville.

I adore Instagram as a way to share snaps.  I often forget to take photos (I'm often so busy chatting/visiting/being silly that I forget to take my camera or phone out!), but instagram is great for catching a fun moment - drinks with the girls, cute moments from the cats, and the little fragments of beauty in each day.

Monopoly is genius, and helps me while away a lot of my long commutes.  Most of the time I tuck into Vanity Fair, Tatler, or a good book on the tube, but after an especially long day there's nothing quite like zoning out and playing a game of Monopoly.  I love the stations!  I also have Trivial Pursuit, which Matthew and I love to play on long train journeys together.

The Pinterest app is really well designed and the perfect treat for this bride-to-be.  When work is super busy, a five minute coffee break at 4 and a little pinning is the perfect brain break ahead of meetings and marking!

Sleep Cycle has changed my life (ha, that might be a little over the top, but it has made some changes) - I'm much more aware of bedtimes, behaviours that impact sleep, and the need to put down the book/ switch off the computer and go to bed!  Also brilliant is the sparkpeople app, which is great for when you're counting calories, trying to get healthy, trimming down, or all three.

Shopping apps like Asda and M & S are great for busier seasons - I can take the overground home and in the space of the journey I can order our groceries for the week and buy a new shirt or cardigan for work.  Sometimes, the future rules!

Two apps I like on my phone to use in class are TimeReading and Too Noisy.  TimeReading is for K-4th grade reading and has a range of short levelled texts which children can read on your phone. The app then lets you know their reading speed, and records their progress.  I use this alongside my other levellings and notes.  Too Noisy is hilarious - it's an app that has adjustable sensitivity for measuring noise.  I often have it on my desk during class time - the boys love getting a smiley face, not a grumpy one!  An especial treat is if I let a boy have a shot at being 'noise monitor' with it - the power of technology.

Looking forward to seeing everyone else's suggestions!

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Five Minute Friday: Lonely

Five Minute Friday

Linking up with Lisa-Jo for the five minutes today.  No overthinking.  No planning. Just five minutes, the tap of the keys, the words pouring out, hoping to write something that speaks.

Today's prompt word is lonely.


When I think of being lonely, the times that spring up are not just times when I've been physically alone.  Sure, there have been times like that where geography, work schedules, busy-ness have kept me on my own a lot, but being alone is very, very different to being lonely.  Lonely is hard and sad and frustrating...being alone is a game of two halves.  Being alone has its strengths, its joys, its learning moments.  Being lonely is hard, draining, unkind.

The loneliest times of my life have often been when it hasn't been physical apartness that's been the problem.  It's more when you feel rejected by those around you, left out, misunderstood.  Or when you're dealing with something that others can't understand, when you have to take a path unknown, alone.  I think of nights at boarding school, my first year when I was eleven, and hearing Erica and Hanna, the resident mean girls, whispering horrible things about me after lights out.  I'd lay there in my little bed in the dark, head under the duvet, clutching onto Jockey Bear with his smell of home, and listen as they listed my many flaws.  They wanted me to hear. Now in hindsight, I see that they were the problem (they were mean about everyone!), but when you're eleven and a little shy and a lot nervous and your mum's in another country, you can't see that. Good heavens, but I felt lonely.  It got better as I made friends and Erica and Hanna moved on to fresher targets (they actually both left the school a year later for bullying and other mishaps - Erica was expelled, Hanna 'invited to leave').  But eleven year old me didn't know that.  She just felt lonely.

It's the loneliness of loss.  When I was seventeen one of my best friends from boarding school, A, died.  She lived down in the south of England at that point, while I had moved to Scotland after my parents had returned there.  I was happy, settled.  I remember walking down the path and opening the door and my mum's face as she had to tell me the news.  Realising I'd never talk to A again.  The deep, dark, huge chasm of sad that opened up inside me and swallowed my heart whole.  Losing A was lonely, lonely, hard.  Losing her and being surrounded by people who liked me and wanted to help me, but who hadn't lost someone and had never met A, didn't know how wonderful she was, had never seen her swim or play and tell a joke?  Was incredibly lonely.  I was so grateful for their attempts to help, to listen, to support me...but the road was long, and lonely. She was pretty much my last link to that school.  I went back once since to visit, but it just felt like a different space.  Without my friend all I felt was lonely.

There have been other lonely times - bad friendships, toxic people, hard moments, but one of the things I love about my life today is how rarely I feel really, properly lonely.  Sure, there are times and seasons where I feel alone or deprived of company or a little left out, but my time on the planet has taught me that this too shall pass.  And compared to how lonely I felt lying awake in that dark dormitory, or as I worked through the grief of a friend gone far, far too soon, the little lonelies are so much easier to ride out.  And the easier to survive with friends, family and fiancé as great as mine.  So grateful for that.


Names of bullies changed. Because that felt right.
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Wedding Ideas: First Dance Songs (21-30)

Part 3.....of ten!  Choosing the music for the wedding is truly one of the greatest fun tasks on the list!

1. Adele - Make You Feel My Love

Originally done by Dylan, reimagined beautifully by Adele.

2. Jimmy Durante - Make Someone Happy

 Love this song, and it's mercifully short too if you're a nervous dancer. Sleepless in Seattle for the win.

3. Ben Folds - The Luckiest

 Genuinely one of the most romantic songs I know.

4. The Wannadies - You and Me Song

 So fabulously 90s! Love this song - upbeat and fun and silly!

5. Regina Spektor - Better, or Samson, or Us!

The girl gives excellent song.

6. Lumineers - Ho Hey

 How adorable would this be at a wedding?

7. Elton John - Your Song

 Such a classic song.

8. Nat 'King' Cole - Let There Be Love

 I will never tire of his voice. Beautiful.

9. Alison Krauss and Union Station - Baby, Now That I've Found You

 I could listen to Alison Krauss sing for days! Such a beautiful version of a very pretty song.

10. Semisonic - Closing Time

 Good Lord, this song reminds me of university. Such a sweet song to start a marriage...."I know who I want to take me home...." Also, watching the video makes me totally nostalgic for the nineties - in the present day with mobiles and smartphones the narrative would be very different!
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Well hello there.

If I could sum up life lately, I'd use words and phrases like relaxed...a change of pace....chilled. After the unique mania of the school year, the past few weeks have been a much more enjoyable endeavour, full of naps, catching up with lovely folk, planning (wedding, lessons, stuff) and taking care of myself.  I rarely get time to visit the doctors/dentists/opthamologists during termtime, so there's been catching up all round.

It's also a great season for sorting out the house - we're adding plants to the garden this weekend, I've donated fourteen bags full of stuff to the charity shop, and my new layout for the 'Claire Lair' is coming on nicely too.  It's amazing how much the house has changed in the year since last summer - I'll definitely do a house tour soon to catch you all up (especially you, mum!).

There's been plenty of time for catching up with folk too, whether it's a lunch with Christy as she layovers in Heathrow, lunch with Matthew's uncle and aunt, people over for dinner, coffee with Kaz, tennis with Eileen, or visits home (we went to see Matthew's family last weekend, we go to see mine next weekend!).   It's also gorgeous to have plenty of time to read, watch documentaries, write letters, and think.  Just think.

Below are some photos from my recent adventures.

I am not very green-fingered, so I was slightly panicked when I was generously  given this beautiful plant!  However, Olly the Orchid is thriving and lives happily on our kitchen windowsill, next to Billy the Basil.

The cats are very much enjoying having so much time with me at home.  If I lie on the floor to read, Poppet likes to come and sit *just* next to me.

My classroom is getting refurbished over the break (SO exciting - I can't wait to see what it looks like!), so I spent a few days tidying up in there.  I was quite tickled that the London Globee we have in our classroom features the church where Matthew and I will marry next year!

I've been zipping around London on the tube as usual, and spotted this yesterday.  Isn't it cool?  

We've been having temperatures of 31, 32, 33 lately, and we Brits find that tricky.  Cats included!

Miss Christy had a few hours at Heathrow between her flight from Canada and to Kenya.  She's heading out there to volunteer and mentor kids who are there for volunteering and leadership.  So proud of my beautiful friend, and it was an utter blessing to spend a little time with her and meet her hilarious friend Alan too!

Tuesday was a rainy, rainy day, so I reacted like any sensible person.  Tea, scone, and book.

I love that when we go to visit the family in Newcastle we always pass through Durham.  I loved studying there for the year when I did my PGCE.  The cathedral is one of the most stunning buildings I know.

While Matthew went to the football, Elly and I took the niecelet for a walk!

Such a beauty!  The niecelet even managed to charm Matthew, and he's a little scared of babies!  I loved my snuggles with the wee dot, and am very excited to have her and mummy come visit soon :)

I'm enjoying playing tennis once a week with Eileen and am hoping to arrange play with Matthew and Bejay too.

Side note:  I am terrible at tennis!

No Fry, you are not recycling!

Showing Poppet pictures of herself on the iPad = comedy.

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