A girl, her kidney and a few complaints…

A girl, her kidney and a few complaints…

So, life at the moment is a never-ending barrel of laughs, face-palming and serious disbelief at my fellow human beings. I shall tell you my tale interspersed with pictures of a few bits and pieces I have made this week. Basically I am being lazy and making one blog post do double-duty…

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Good news first – my wonderful little kidney is working so hard to make me proud and has gone up to 48% function. I’m so relieved. Every six weeks or so I have the blood tests and wait anxiously for the results. Today I phoned the hospital and they gave me the good news. My haemoglobin is up (yay!) and my iron levels are high (thank you, iron infusion!) so no wonder I am feeling less weary. I can’t tell you what a relief it all is. I know it might not be forever, and that my kidney may one day just go kaput, but, for now, I am trying to treat it properly and eat well and look after myself so I don’t give it any reason to desert me prematurely. The thought of going back on dialysis and being in “that world” again fills me with dread, and the longer I can avoid it the better. Now on to face-palming central, or, otherwise known as The Workplace.

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Seriously, I love the people I work with. They’re pretty awesome and have been so kind to me and welcomed me and not looked at me like I’m a weirdo (even though, clearly, I am) and they even think I’m a good librarian (not looking forward to the day THAT particular facade comes crumbling down). From time to time I get a little bit cranky that people don’t clean up after themselves in the library, assistive tech room, kitchen and conference room. People are basically slobs – doesn’t matter that they are adults with PhDs and other letters after their names, they are messy and completely oblivious to the fact other people exist and use the space too. Now, you know me – I am pretty messy and unorganised myself. In my own space I am pretty feral. My house always looks like a bomb has recently been detonated and I am rubbish at organising anything. But in shared spaces I am polite and considerate. I clean up after myself. I vacuum. I wash dishes and put them away. I help other people with moving chairs and tables and stuff. I don’t leave my lunch rubbish lying about and I don’t leave tea stains all over the counters. All sensible concepts you might agree. Common sense. I thought so too.

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This week, after having cleaned up our meeting room once again (vacuuming, wiping down tables, emptying coffee urns, putting chairs away etc) I sent out a friendly reminder to everyone to please clear up after using the room, particularly as our cleaners only come every second day. Well, you would think I had asked people to give up their first-born child. It has become a HUGE drama – emails flying back and forth between departments and managers, naming and shaming actual individuals and groups. I just wanted people to be tidy or at least ask me to help instead of expecting me to just do it for them. Now the CEO has waded in on it (probably to get everyone to shut up and concentrate on their actual work) and another email has gone out praising me and basically making me out to be some sort of harassed, under-appreciated slave who gets taken advantage of because of my obviously dim-witted and eager-to-please persona (thank you to that particular manager who was really just standing up for me but kinda dropped me in it a bit…). It’s such a nightmare! I didn’t want anyone in particular to be singled out but there are definitely noses out of joint now and I am keeping my head down and making eye contact with no one.

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Anyway, there are other things going on in my life right now that are of far more importance. A friend is having some serious bad times relationship-wise and I am trying to help and be supportive but I’m feeling stressed and quite inadequate in that role. I want to fix everybody but I can’t and I feel bad. Possibly why I should never become a counsellor or one of those people who mans the suicide lines…I would end up being the one who needs help. My Aunt in the UK is very ill and it is difficult for my Mum because she is waiting for news but she isn’t getting any from her family and it is frustrating when she is so far away. My cousin (bless her) is relaying what she can to me via email but with the time difference we often don’t get the information for quite some hours.

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My other dear friend is experiencing financial hardship and is having to put her house up for sale in order to stay afloat. It’s so upsetting but I know she will be ok. It’s just so heart-breaking when you’ve worked hard for something and it’s going to be taken away from you. Scary, too, when you have kids to think about. Again, I want to help and fix things but I can’t, not really, not in a long-term way anyway.

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My jewellery-making is going well still. People keep putting in orders which is nice and makes me alternate between being quite happy with myself and then doubting my work and thinking I will never be able to pull off what they what me to create. Such is my brain and my crazy self esteem. I really need to clear up and re-arrange all my craft stuff because it is taking over the house and I am in a constant mess albeit in one area. I want to make some cards soon as I haven’t made any for ages and I don’t want to lose my mojo ha ha!

Apologies for not blogging much lately.  I have been dealing with a lot of stuff that’s been happening (none of which I need to bore you with – I’m trying not to do the whinge and vent or over-share private stuff) and besides that, I’ve just not been in the mood.  Slackness. I know.  But I will be better from now on I promise.  Maybe.

Hope your week has been happy.  Thank goodness it is Friday tomorrow! 🙂

Things that make you go…nuts!

Things that make you go…nuts!

I should point out that I wrote this one day when I was in a very bad mood.  Mostly I am a very calm person, not prone to violent outbursts or any kind of anger towards people.  I am tolerant to the point of apathy and I generally live by the “live and let live” code of ethics.  But sometimes, just sometimes, I get a little bit cranky and there are some things that just drive me nuts.  For instance:

When people add a “k” to the end of the word “anything”.  So they say “anythink”.  It drives me mental.  If someone says it in conversation, I can’t concentrate on anything (anythink ha!) else they are saying.  I want to stop them in mid sentence and get them to repeat the word properly.  It drives me nutty.  If you’re over the age of five, please don’t do it.  It’s not cute and it makes you look like an idiot.  And if I’m thinking you look like more of an idiot than me, that’s pretty bad and you should do something about that.  Seriously.

People who litter.  I don’t get it.  It’s lazy and stupid and selfish.  Just stop it.

People who smoke.  I’m sorry, but it’s insane.  The rest of us are desperately trying to stay alive and avoid anything that can kill or harm us, and you guys are basically laughing in the face of cancer and death.  I don’t get it.  Plus it’s selfish because you want everyone else to inhale your toxic fumes as well.  And don’t get me started on people who smoke around children.  I just want to smack you.

People who, when giving you their phone number over the phone, say it so quickly you have to get them to repeat it.  Repeatedly.  And then get cranky at you because you can’t get it right.  Say it slowly, at a gentle and polite pace and quit the attitude.

People who walk their dogs in the middle of the day in Summer.  Again, you are cruising for a bruising because I would like to beat you about the head with something.  Maybe your dead dog when it dies a horrible death from heat-stroke due to your negligence.  It’s cruel and horrible.  It’s hot, you idiot, and your dog cannot cool itself down the way you can.  Yes, Fido WANTS to go for a walk.  But he doesn’t quite grasp the concept that it is too warm for him.  That is where you, with your superior brain (supposedly) come in to the equation.  You need to make better decisions.   And if you leave your dog in a hot car, there is a special place reserved in Hell for you.  I’m not joking.

People who pick on vegetarians. People who try to get vegetarians to eat meat.  People who try to tell everyone that being vegetarian is unhealthy and blame every illness you have on the fact you don’t eat dead animals, even though you rarely get sick and are actually pretty healthy thank you very much.

People who walk around during concerts and theatre performances.  I went to see the Dalai Lama a couple of years ago.  The amount of people walking around during his speeches, eating hot chips and looking bored was horrendous.  It’s just so DISRESPECTFUL.  Plus, if I paid good money for my ticket, I don’t want to spend half the time trying to see past you as you get up and down and “excuse-me-excuse-me-so-sorry-excuse-me” your way down the row.  Unless you have a bladder infection or need to diffuse a bomb or are about to give birth, please sit down and stay down.

Justin Bieber.  I don’t need to explain that one.

Those “Biggest Loser” people.  Not the actual contestants, the hosts.  They are like every horrible P.E teacher I ever had, rolled in to one over-paid, over-hyped entity.  Their faces are everywhere.  Ugh.

Homophobes.  Really.  What the hell is wrong with you? Grow up.

People who bag celebrities who try and “do good”.  Like Bono, or Sting or whoever is supporting whatever cause/charity etc.  They are trying to give back to the community and the world.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a tax write-off or a way of gaining popularity – they’re helping someone.  Who cares what the motive really is?  They’re giving to charity and doing something with their time and money other than buying another Porsche.  Let’s just leave it at that.  Just because someone is famous and has lots of money, doesn’t mean they are incapable of being passionate about worthy causes.  If Sting wants to try and save a rainforest, I say let him!  He’s got more money than the rest of us,  let him use it for good.

Tights worn as pants.  They’re not pants – they are tights.  Try to remember that and keep yourself covered up.  It’s icky if you don’t and nobody wants to see it.

So that’s my rant for today.  I could think of lots of other things that annoy me, but, really, I would much rather talk about things that are pleasant and not annoying.  And, in reality, there are a lot more of those things than the cranky-making ones.  I was just having a bad day and really wanting a cookie (sigh…a cookie…).  Work was noisy and a bit stressy and aggravating today (copyright licence renewals? Ugh!  People having a go at you for things that aren’t your fault and you have no control over?  Double ugh!) and I was a bit tired and grumpy (duh!).  But it’s ok.  I’m home now from a long walk and about to make dinner and do some crafting, watch My Kitchen Rules and organise myself for tomorrow.  It’s all good.  I was even given a HUGE bag of beads and old jewellery to sort through and use today so I’m a lucky gal, despite the whinging and frowny face.

Hope your day was smile-worthy and annoyance-free.  Just please remember what I said about tights.

🙂

Roasted Capsicum & Carrot Soup

Roasted Capsicum & Carrot Soup

I love soup.  At any time of year I am more than happy to have a big bowl of hot soup.  It’s easy to make, inexpensive and is very filling and satisfying.  It’s also a good way to use up any scrungey old veggies you have in the fridge (you know, the ones that are looking a little bit sad/wilted/depressed).  My favourite soup to make at the moment is Roasted Capsicum and Carrot Soup.  So delish.  It is pretty simple to make, with only a few ingredients and keeps well in the fridge so you can enjoy it over a few days, or freeze it for stand-by meals.  I like to top mine with some crumbled, creamy Danish feta.  Yum.

So here’s my basic recipe.  I never measure anything or really notice how much of anything I am using when making this soup so feel free to substitute ingredients or leave out anything that you don’t like.  The only thing that is compulsory is roasted the capsicum and carrot – it adds so much flavour and richness to the finished dish, you really can’t leave that step out.

Start with about three large red capsicums.  Chop them up into pieces, discarding the seeds, stalk and pith.  Chop up 1-2 large carrots.  Lay the capsicum and carrot on a baking tray (on some baking paper – both vegetables are fairly sweet and so they WILL stick to your trays if you don’t line them first).  Roast them in a hot oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until they start to caramelise and brown.  A little bit of black skin on the capsicum is fine, I think.  It adds a bit of smoky flavour.

Whilst these are roasting, dice up a large onion and sauté it in a large saucepan with a little bit of olive oil and a couple of chopped sun-dried tomatoes until just starting to caramelise.  Take off heat.  Add a teaspoon of garlic/ginger paste and stir through.  Once oven-roasted veg is ready, add it to the saucepan with 2 cups of vegetable stock, and chopped herbs (optional but I like to add some basil or thyme) and return to heat to simmer.  Stir it occasionally and add more stock as the liquid reduces.  You can add more or less stock depending on how thick you like your soups.  I usually use about three cups in total.

Simmer for approx 30 mins or until all veg is very soft (i.e. mashable).  Season as desired and, using a stick blender, puree until desired thickness is achieved.  Pour into soup bowls with a soup ladle and garnish with a little bit of feta, grated cheese or herbs.

Voila!  The recipe isn’t really a “recipe” – it’s more a guide.  Soup isn’t meant to be super fussy or difficult to make and I certainly don’t follow any instructions for it.  It’s a case of bung it in and boil it up!   Serve it up on its own or with some nice crusty bread.

Try it today – it’s delicious and healthy, colourful and full of good stuff!  I know what I am having for dinner tonight! 🙂

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Beadin’ heck…

Beadin’ heck…

Beads.  I am a bit obsessed.  It is so weird how jewellery (or, rather, jewellery-making) has taken over my life.  I’m not particularly blingy, don’t wear a lot of jewellery myself and shy away from colourful baubles and trinkets to adorn myself with.  But I like making stuff for other people to wear.  Maybe I am living vicariously, letting my inner colour wheel get it’s groove on.  I don’t know.  But I am currently obsessed with beads of all colours and shapes, sizes and styles.  In case you hadn’t noticed.

I’ve been having a crappy time of things this last week or so and I am trying to remain cheerful and not let things get me down, like I always do.  I am in danger of becoming an unsociable hermit (again), am really tired (again) and have been having horrible nightmares (again) so I’m a bit drained and in need of some pick-me-ups.

Yesterday, at lunchtime, desperately needing time away from work after an exceedingly trying morning, I nipped out to visit a local op-shop in order to fossick through their jewellery piles to see what beady treasures I could come up with.  After wasting time perusing a rather lack-lustre display on one counter, I started to look around the shop for other things (I broke yet another pair of shoes that morning – I am just about down to my last pair and cannot find anything in the shops at the moment to fit me).  As I passed the counter, my eyes just about exploded, for there, almost hidden from view (or at least my obviously short-sighted view) was a WHOLE WALL of necklaces, bracelets and earrings!  Flipping heck!  I have been in that shop before and NEVER seen that wall.
Where were my eyes? What have I been doing all this time, completely ignoring this treasure trove?

Anyway, hyperventilation under control, I rummaged through (oh how I do love a rummage and a fossick!) and found some pretty nice stuff, at reasonable prices.  I still am yet to find some nice yellow beads (is there some sort of yellow-bead-boycott that I don’t know about?) but I picked up plenty of other pretty things:

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These turquoise beads are nice and heavy and are a good shape and size.
I know I have a tonne of turquoise already, but you can never have enough, right?

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I really loved these black “rose” beads – they look like they may be vintage
but I don’t know.  I just liked them 🙂

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Red beads on a bracelet with this cute little butterfly charm.  
The red goes so well with turquoise and is a combination I use often.

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Loved this necklace.  The beads are lovely and glossy and remind me of sweets.
Probably why I have been craving jersey caramels…

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These purple/pink beads were a nice surprise as I thought the smaller round beads were plastic
but they are actually heavy glass.  Love the big square ones…

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Yummy berry-toned glass beads, that came with…

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these interesting silver rods which will make some fab earrings.

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Lastly, I bought this pendant for me, just ’cause I liked it.  I probably should have given it a wipe-over before
taking the photo…it’s a bit dusty!  I just thought it was pretty.  A bit more glitzy than I would normally wear but it’s black so
not too outrageous!

I also went to a couple of markets on the weekend.  I would have photos of the markets themselves but, as per usual, let my phone die before I could take any pictures.  Duh.  I did, however, buy some cool stuff, including some lovely felt balls, metres of porcelain beads in pale blue, coral red and cream (the lady at the stall didn’t look very happy when I told her I wasn’t going to wear them as necklaces but break them up for the beads…), wooden cube beads, a pottery ring and a metal crow!  Actually, he is supposed to be a blackbird but I choose to call him a crow (because I love crows & ravens and have them in various forms throughout my house).

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So, all I need now is some time, maybe a nice weekend at home and I can actually start making some things with these goodies.  I REALLY want to start making some clay beads and other bits and pieces, plus some plaited bracelets.  And make some cards (which I haven’t done for AGES).  And get into watercolours again.  And start an art journal.  And make myself a skirt.  And do some embroidery.

So basically I want to do lots of things and need to find approximately 48 extra hours in each day to get any of them done, or even started.  Sigh.

Hope your week is going well so far, and that you are succeeding in bringing a little bit of creativity and colour into every day.  I’m trying 🙂

PS to “K” – I’m sorry I didn’t ask you along to the markets…hope I am forgiven x

Handmade Home

Handmade Home

I am lucky to be surrounded by things that have been made by people I love.  Wherever I go and wherever I live, I always have things with me that remind me of family and friends and are special to me because they have been handmade, with care and attention to detail.

My Mum has always made things for my brother and I – when we were children she made us clothes and toys, quilts and other hand made items that we loved then and treasure now.  I still have many of those things, either on display or packed safely away, to be taken out on occasion when the nostalgic mood strikes.  She is now continuing the tradition with her grandchildren, nephews and nieces,  and they have already benefitted from her skills with sewing and painting.

Some of the items Mum has made I have on display in my new home :

A birthday card she made me for my 40th, complete with a handmade tag inside…

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…a sweet little doll (I like to think she’s a fairy with invisible wings – she is so light and dainty and pretty)…

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…a heart-shaped country plaque – I used to dream about having my own little country cottage nestled in rolling hills, with a white picket fence…

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…cheerful and uplifting messages…

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…gifts for our wedding (this was on our “candy bar” on the day – I still display it, even if the marriage and jars of sweets are no longer in existence)…

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…my gorgeous patchwork quilt that she sewed and quilted by hand, that bears the handwritten cloth label “…this quilt may not be perfect, but there is love in every stitch to keep you safe and warm…”.  I treasure this and will keep it forever.

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My brother also is artistic, and I have many of his pieces in my home, many of them rescued from his moments of artistic passion and frustration, when “nothing is working!” and he wanted to throw them out.  I love having them here because he is so important to me and, although he doesn’t get the time to “do” much art these days (four kids are hard work!), I know he still has that artistic talent and heart, which he now shares with his children who are already showing that they too are creative and talented, with much of their handiwork being displayed proudly in the home.

Some of my favourite items of his are:

…a lion collage made for one of my birthdays…

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…a resin/collage piece featuring a photo of my Mum when she was a teenager…

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…another birthday gift – this time a card, featuring a bird collage/painting ( I have this framed on my book shelf).

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I am also lucky to have creative and talented friends.  I’ve already mentioned the gorgeous portrait of me my friend GK sketched for my birthday (see here).

 These bears were made by a friend’s friend – I love them :

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Homemade things are so much more special than bought gifts.  They are heartfelt and made with love, perfect in their imperfections.  A home isn’t a home without a few handmade treasures.  I love all of mine.  Do you have anything made for you that you wouldn’t part with or that means something special to you?

Happy homemade weekend to you all – hope your house is filled with love and creativity, in whatever form it takes x

Not-long-enough Weekend

Not-long-enough Weekend

Well, it is late Monday afternoon on a long weekend.  I think they should call them “longish” weekends…they never seem to go any less quickly than regular weekends and I am still wishing I had gotten more done.  I did make an effort to be sociable this weekend and actually hang out with people other than my Mum.  I went to my best friend’s on Saturday evening for a catch-up, saw another friend yesterday for brunch (she gave me a belated birthday gift – a voucher to an AWESOME bead shop that I haven’t been to yet.  Can’t wait to go!) , my other good friend this morning for a walk and late breakfast and my brother came over this afternoon with his partner and their four munchkins (whom I adore but my little house is not really very kid-friendly, in that it is small and probably boring when all I have is Jenga to play and maybe some colouring-in stuff if they’re lucky).  So I did see actually people this weekend and did not hole up like a hermit (which is my usual M.O.).

I did get some things made.  My friend K came over last week and bought a whole bunch of jewellery from me and then ordered a whole bunch more.  I think I am not her partner’s favourite person because money keeps tending to waft over in my direction which isn’t good when they’re supposed to be saving for their next holiday.  However, K and I have come to an agreement that I have to complete this latest order for her and then we will most likely have a break.  I need to make things for my upcoming market (still now sure when it will be or where) and she needs to not spend a large proportion of her pay packet on things I have made for her on her request. But she is awesome and makes me laugh so I don’t begrudge her (or her money ha ha) in the slightest.

I finally finished off one of her sea-shell necklaces.  This thing has been bugging me for weeks.  The shell refuses to hang straight.  I guess when Mother Nature creates these things she is not making “must hang straight so pendants can be fashioned” a priority over “must make a nice house for sea-dwelling creatures”.  Which is fair enough.  However, after much cursing and several attempts, I managed to finish it and get it to hang somewhat satisfactorily.  That’s a bit of a lie – I’m still not happy with it but it is the best I can do with my limited skills!  K wanted this large shell (I think she found it in Bali or somewhere like that…) to have some bright reds and ethnic tones to complement it.  I did the best I could…

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She had also picked out some pretty blue and white beads from my stash and wanted something with a sort-of-Mexican feel:

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Next up, a fairly simple necklace with some other beads she picked out.  I’m not sure about this one…I might re-jig it.  I’m not happy with it and it doesn’t “sit” right with me when I’m not happy with something!

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Next was a bright turquoise and red number which turned out ok.  K had picked the beads and I just added a few extra ones to complete it.
Red and turquoise ALWAYS works (thank goodness):

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After that, I quickly put a few other pieces together before the light got too bad and I got too tired and over it.  I’m trying to work on a few bolder pieces here and there, just to try and cater for people who like things bright and chunky, not dainty or delicate.  I really like the square, ceramic beads on the next necklace – they give a different look to the usual round or oval ones;

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Then I made this one using a large howlite red bead that I had been saving and not using (which is dumb and I do it a lot – just use it already!):

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Some pretty silver and polished magnet earrings (these don’t fit in the colourful and bold category…).

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I made lots more cabochon hair clips today too – they are good sellers and handy for last minute gifts etc…

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Another batch of rings made from panels from a broken bracelet.  I look out for the bracelets in op-shops all the time now – they made great pendants and rings, even earrings.

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I also made these funny little earrings.  Red and black are pretty popular colours and these are actually quite heavy, good quality ceramic beads.

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Last and definitely, in this case, least are these earrings.  Possibly the world’s ugliest pair.  Chocolate brown and gold – hmmmm, not exactly a winning combination but I am trying really hard to not just make things that appeal to me.  I’ve been wrong in the past with things I’ve thought were so ugly but someone else loved them – you just can’t tell.  Anyway, you have to allow for people with bad eyesight or strange fashion sense ha ha!

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So, that’s me done for the weekend.  I have nothing else planned now except for some ironing and rustling up some dinner.  At the moment I am living on steamed veggies and a little grated cheese on top.  I’m just not in the mood to cook much for myself and at least with steamed veg I am getting SOME nutrients and not living on cereal or toast.  Which I could do very easily.  Trust me.

Hope your weekend has been productive or restful (whichever you prefer) and that your week ahead will be fabulous!

All the best x