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Making time

Today is about making time to do things. Over the winter I’ve let things slip, rested back on habits and conveniences that aren’t ideal. We’ve eaten ready meals, far too much junk food, and fallen asleep on the sofa way too often.

Then on lottery, or euromillions, day, we sit and play the what if game. If we win, we’ll have this house, we’ll move and live there, if we have more time to do stuff we’d write, grow things, etc. But would we? really? If we’re not making time to do those thing now, why would a bigger house or more money make that much difference?

I fancy having a go at lino printing, so why wait? Recently I wanted to get back into writing but I find that despite having hours in which to write, I don’t.

I think it’s time for a change in attitude. So, yesterday I loaded up the slow cooker and make a batch of what I call mince mix. It’s a tomato base with onion, courgette, pepper, mushrooms, which is blitzed smooth using my hand blender when it’s cooked. Then I add in a large pack of beef mince and let is cook for a couple of hours. That gets made into pasta bolognese when it’s fresh. Once it’s cool, I make lasagne, or freeze portions.

But my freezer is over-full and needs defrosting. So, 2 of us had pasta bolognese last night, 2 of us are having cottage pie or pasta bake tonight. I like cottage pie, my daughter doesn’t, so I made individual dinners. And I made a 4 person lasagne for when my son and his girlfriend visit at the weekend, and a 2 person lasagne for my daughter and I another day.

My point is that I am making time to cook more healthy food from scratch, in advance. It makes meals easier.

It’s far too easy to fall into habits that don’t actually help us. So, I’m trying to change that, at least a little bit.

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I think I broke it

There’s something not quite right behind the scenes, I think there might be a problem with the blog part of the site. I have no idea what I might have done, but I think I broke it.

So, in the interests of diagnostics, I have backed everything up and this is a short blog post to test a theory. I hope it was something to do with the last post here, and not a more generic issue.

Therefore, a request, if I may? Can you let me know if you have any problems navigating or using the site. Anything, anywhere, no matter how daft it might seem, or insignificant, I want to know.

Because I am working to increase traffic, visitors, and SEO, it is important that the site is working properly. The whole thing should be reasonably easy to find your way around. It should be reasonably quick to load up, and work on your laptop, tablet, or phone.

The problem I am seeing is behind the scenes, but as I’m looking into that, it makes sense to check other areas at the same time.

I think I broke it, but I’m going to fix it!

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Sexist tripe, or sound advice?

This has been popping up on Facebook again recently. I’m not sure of the provenance or accuracy of the image. On the surface it’s sexist tripe and to be ridiculed. But actually, if you look deeper it’s sound advice.

Sexist tripe, or sound advice?

No, wait, hear me out.

Take the blatant historical attitude towards women out, and pretend it’s not about sewing.

“Prepare yourself mentally [for sewing]. Think about what you are going to do. Never approach [sewing] with a sigh, or lackadaisically.”

Prepare yourself mentally. Think about it. It’s Monday morning, your alarm just went off, and you have to get up for work. Do you get up with determination, ready for the day ahead? Or do you roll over, snooze the alarm for another 10 minutes? How much difference does that make to your work day?

Let’s change that slightly.

“Prepare yourself mentally for the task, or day, ahead. Think about what you are going to do. Never approach your work with less than your best.”

Or, we could make it a positive statement instead.

“Prepare yourself mentally for the task, or day, ahead. Think about what you are going to do. Alway approach your work with focus and determination.”

Then there’s that bit about doing housekeeping chores first. Make the beds, do the dishes. If you refer to all these as “distractions” it doesn’t matter that they are house based, it can be anything. If there’s something that needs doing, that is distracting you, then you won’t give your best focus to the task at hand.


“When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible. Put on a clean dress. [snip] Have your hair in order, powder and lipstick put on.”

Never mind the defined clothing, or makeup, or what might be considered “attractive”. If you are clean and tidy for work, dressed appropriately, then you will be ready to do your job.

I work in an office, we have a uniform, but we are allowed to wear jeans and trainers. This isn’t something I agree with, I think we should have a tighter dress code for the office. A firm believer in the “Dress smart, work smart” rationale, I think the way we present ourselves reflects and influences the way we work.

There are plasterers in the house today. They’re not wearing suits, they need to be in overalls. But they are both clean, tidy, polite, ready to do the job. I’ve had workmen turn up in dirty overalls, smelling unwashed, or of stale beer. I sent them away, and asked for someone else.

There is a difference between dirty, and job-stained. I’m not expecting pristine, white, or looking as new, but I do expect clean.

If you are embarrassed, or aware that you are less than well presented, you won’t do your job to the best of your ability.

The way you present yourself will affect the way others treat you. Your appearance can affect the way you behave.

So, in conclusion, that image is a bit daft, and we laugh at the sexism, the assumptions. But it’s a historical document, reflecting attitudes of the time. If you take the idea, rather than the language and attitude, it still applies today.

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Making a mess

In life, things change all the time, and how we deal with that is so important. Change can be unsettling, but it can also be vibrant and exhilarating. It also often involves making a mess.

Right now, we are stripping the wallpaper from the dining room, and it’s making a mess. It’s ugly, feels cold, and the walls are horrid. But by the end of the week we’ll be painting and it’ll look so much better. It’s change, it’s making a mess, but it’s worth it.

We might have to wait for a plasterer to come and skim the chimney, but we can get on with the painting everywhere else. We’ll be rearranging furniture as well, I think, probably. It’s going to be lovely when it’s finished.

In the background, the website is undergoing constant change too. The guidelines for what works in terms of search engine optimisation (SEO) are in flux, always changing. The software is being updated and adjusted all the time. So the website has to change to take that into consideration.

It’s the same with any creative art, here it’s photography. I take loads of pictures, and many are less than great. Some are dreadful. But I adapt, I learn from those and improve.

This applies to my writing, to my paid job, to parenting, to everything. Change is unsettling when it’s unexpected, but if you embrace it, run with it, change can be guided to your benefit.

I know, it doesn’t always work like that, but it’s worth thinking about, right?

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Communication is key

In any job, clear communication is your greatest asset. In a customer service role even more so.

Remember the fire saga?

Communication was appalling. No-one thought to inform the client, me, that the job would be delayed. The company involved never bothered to give me all the information.

On day 2 of trying to get the dining room fire replaced, the fire is going in but I won’t be able to use it. They’ll fit the fire today but then an electrician needs to come and do the wiring. Another day messing about, stuck indoors.

But the fire has a plug on it… Well, yes, but I’m meant to cut that off so you can’t use it… Raises an eyebrow. OK, I can leave it on. But it’s because the landlord has had people take the fires when they move out…

Raises eyebrow even further.

I’ll leave the plug on then… Yes, you will. Not that the lead reaches the closest socket. But I could run the fire if I need to.

It’s now a week later, and no word from the electrician. They’re due tomorrow morning. We will see.

This is a rented property, and the fire replacement is at the landlord’s insistence. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t want it. It’s messed up the wall, and the carpet. So I’m going to have to redecorate, and probably replace the carpet in the dining room.

As it is, silver linings, taking a deep breath, the new fire looks nice, and the room needed redecorating at some point.

I have had a few jobs over the years, and in almost all, communication has been what has let us down. It’s also what makes us great. If you talk to your clients, managers, employees, really talk to them, in clear and plain language, then you get those wonderful moments. The moments when a smile and a thank you happens.

I’ve been talking about work, but it applies to all aspects of life. Sit your teenagers down and chat. Make time to converse with your parents, friends, neighbours. How much easier would it be to have a conversation instead of banging on the walls when someone’s music is too loud?

Communication is key, always.

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