My place to share lots of photographs of my random crafty, makery, bakery and cookery projects, as well as random thoughts that might strike me and are too long for Twitter...

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Listography: 10 Reasons I Am Thankful For America

Happy Thanksgiving, USAians!!

I thought I would take this opportunity to list the 10 reasons, that I can think of right now, in no particular order of preference (apart from #1 is OBVIOUSLY my #1 reason, if you know me. At. All.) that I am thankful for America.

1). Disney. Disney films, Walt Disney World, Walt Disney, Disney Land, Disney Store. . . DISNEY.

2). Bon Jovi.

3). Peanut Butter M&Ms. Not the regular ones, because obviously Smarties are far superior, chocolate-wise. Not the peanut ones. But definitely the peanut butter ones.

4). Lucky Charms. Or perhaps, the fact that America doesn't seem to give two hoots about the colourings/additives/sugar content of food, and thus are still allowed to sell Lucky Charms. For the foreigners. . . In the UK they used to sell Lucky Charms, until they discovered there was more sugar than cereal, and then they couldn't sell them with cereals because of the high sugar content and cereal health guidelines, and because they couldn't figure anywhere else to sell them, they just stopped selling them altogether. Now you can buy them from "American Candy" specialist shops, for about £8/small box.

5). Elvis Presley.

6). Toby Keith.

7). People who have to be moved on low-loaders, and make me feel thin. Now, I'm not making light of morbid obesity (OK, maybe I did then *chortle*), nor am I presuming that we don't have our fair share of similarly sized people over here. But whenever I'm having a fat day, a quick scan of "People Of Walmart" never fails to make me feel waif-like and glamorous.

8). Cowboy hats. Cowboy hats are my go-to sun hat of choice. Not many people can pull them off. I'm not sure I can, but being very short, conventional wide-brimmed sun hats make me look like the oriental mushrooms in "Fantasia", so I figured quirky cowboy hats were a better option.

9). WWE.

10). Awesome friends. I have made some great friends over the years who hail from the States.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! :D

Friday, 16 November 2012

Is Social Networking REALLY That Social?

The irony of this post is that I got the idea from a good friend's status on Facebook that "...social networking is anything but." So, clearly social media does have it's uses! ;)

Maybe it should be is social media really that great . . ?
1). Who are you ignoring whilst you are being social online? Now that everyone has 24/7/365 access to social networking on their mobile phones, how many people are around you when you are logging on to see what other people are up to? For me the golden rule of phone usage is:

If it would be rude/impractical to open a newspaper in front of your face and start reading, it is rude to use your phone.

Image Copyright PrideWest.co.uk
Would you do this mid-conversation? Whilst walking? In the car?
Basically every time you get your phone out (without it ringing/drawing attention to itself, obviously) when you are with someone else you are saying "You are not interesting enough for me to waste time on. I am going to see what the more interesting people are doing." That's not only rude and disrespectful, it's very anti-social. And people are doing it ALL. THE. TIME.
Interestingly enough, it is now enough of an issue that there are now basic guidelines* for what defines "social media addiction":
You update your status while out with “real people.” This goes back to the first point about being disrespectful and anti-social. Unless you are ALL tagging each other as being somewhere, then at least wait until your time together is over to update.
Losing track of time online. Finding yourself on the Internet longer than you intended. A few minutes turn in to a few hours. Getting irritated or cranky if your online time is interrupted.
Having trouble completing tasks at work or home. Do you find dirty dishes piling up and little food in the house for dinner because you’ve been busy online?
Isolation from family and friends. Is your social life suffering because of all the time you spend online? Are you neglecting your family and friends? Do you feel like no one in your “real” life — even your spouse — understands you like your online friends?
Feeling guilty or defensive about your Internet use. Are you sick of your spouse nagging you to get off the computer and spend time together? Do you hide your Internet use or lie to your boss and family about the amount of time you spend on the computer and what you do while you're online? Feeling a sense of euphoria while involved in Internet activities. Do you use the Internet as an outlet when stressed, sad, or for sexual gratification or excitement? Have you tried to limit your Internet time but failed?
We're all guilty of one or two of those from time to time. More than that and maybe it's time to step back for a while!
2). You are open to the whole world. Now, initially that sounds GREAT! I can talk to the whole world!! Now think about how many people in your day-to-day life drive you crazy. How many you avoid. How many people you come across that you actually want to talk to. I think that is another problem. The whole world of freaks and weirdos is now in your pocket. That includes the people you actually want to socialise with which is lovely, but also those that, in real life, you wouldn't poke with a stick if they washed up on the beach. You are open to the crazy people, the needy people, the whiny people, the nasty people, the psycho-stalker people. And because it is so easy to lie online, you might not find out until it is too late.
3). Some people are just too social. Some of these obviously fall into the wouldn't-poke-with-a-stick catagory. First hand examples have to be:
 - "Found this in his nappy...Is it meant to be that colour?" (accompanied by a photograph, in a public-access album, on Facebook).
- I'm bored...here are many crappy phone pictures of my face (awaits confidence-boosting comments from friends. "Nice Bathroom!" doesn't count).
- Here are a million fuzzy phone-quality photographs I took of drunk people, many of whom I don't know. I will now share them repeatedly for a fortnight, just to make sure EVERYONE gets the chance to see them and knows what a party animal I am, despite the fact that I clearly spent the entire night with my phone in my hand.
- "I'm soooooooooooooooooooo wasted right now! WASTED!!" Repeated EVERY. DAMN. THURSDAY/FRIDAY/SATURDAY. NIGHT. Followed (of course) the next morning by "I'm NEVER doing that again! Someone tell me what happened!! WASTED!!!"
- "My [boyfriend/girlfriend] is such a b*st*rd! I hate them! What a w*nker!! Waste of space! Never wasting time on them again after this!" Closely followed by "...is snuggled up with [boyfriend/girlfriend], love of my life, all you haters can go to hell, we'll be together 4eva..." Repeat on a weekly basis.
Unfortunately these are also usually the people who, if you attempt to stop socialising, will send you a message, wanting to know WHY you unfriended/unfollowed them, or try to re-friend you, assuming it was a glitch in the system, and not the fact that they are completely irritating that caused the severing of your connection. I'm not even going to start on the people with accounts for their pets (one day, I hope all the mis-represented cats and dogs get up a law suit and sue their owners for misrepresentation. If pets had opposible thumbs, they would find something WAY better to do than play Farmville) or fantasy character accounts, because I will upset people. Personally, I think one account per real person/business/band, whatever is enough. Every facet of your life/personality does not need a Facebook/Twitter account. Then again, if people don't want to see it, they won't friend/follow you, so you keep farming/tweeting, Mr Tibbles...
4). Social networking may well be single-handedly responsible for the new rise of The Crazy Cat Lady/Man. Where else but social networks can you find an abundance of single people with cats, and also an abundance of pictures of cats?
Now I don't know if this phenomenon affects anyone else, but I find myself now noticing that the same CCLs and CCM who I am a mutual friend of will repeatedly join the same cat lovers groups and like the same cat pictures on Facebook. I'll be honest, when I see them liking the same five pictures in one evening, I have to repress the urge to do a little bit of Crazy Cat Matchmaking.
5). If social networking has brought anything important to our attention, it is the fact that there are a hell of a lot of people out there who are not getting the medical/psychological help that they desperately need, and many are turning to social media instead of getting that help. Using Dr Google before making a GP appointment is one thing. Relying on people you might never have met to care enough to save your life when they have no real-life information about you is another.
Some people are just attention-seeking. If you have a Facebook account and have never once seen the following altercation, you are either a liar, or have an excellent grasp of the "Hide Posts" function:
Status Poster: ":("
Replier 1: "What's up hun?"
Replier 2: "omg!!!! what's wrong?!!!?!?"
Replier 4: "Sup babes?"
SP: "Just :("
Replier 2: " **hugs** Wanna talk about it?"
SP: "Can't talk about it on here."
Replier 3: "DM me babes."
Replier 5: Oh no, not [ex-boyfriend/mother/ex-bff] again! What's wrong luv?"
SP: "No I can't talk about it on here, I'm just sooooooooooooo p*ssed off right now...."
Replier 6: "Who's upset ya? I'll go have a 'word' with them, sort them out for ya..."
SP: "No, don't get involved, no-one needs to get involved..."
Replier 2: "Want me to come around?"
Now that is a mild version. We all know it's probably just a teenager who's fallen out with their boyfriend/girlfriend and is holding a pity party. But at the more serious end of the scale, you see genuine cries for help on social networking sites, be it someone announcing that they are going to cut up and waiting to be persuaded out of it, or someone leaving a suicide note as their FB status (yes, I have seen that on my feed, yes it was someone I knew in real life, and yes, they are now OK and getting help). The Amanda Todd case has brought this aspect of social media into the public eye recently, as both a contributing cause and a cry for help in her suicide.
There are places to go on the internet if you are depressed/suicidal/thinking of harming yourself or others. There are people who are specially trained to help you when you feel like no-one else in your real life can. Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter are NOT the best places. You don't know if those people are in just as bad a place as you. You don't know if their advice is good. Go to The Samaritans, Suicide Prevention (USA), CrisisLine (Canada). Their advice IS good. They are there for you and totally confidential. Plus, there will be no record in the public domain when you are trying to forget a bad period in your life.
Now I don't know about FB, but Twitter actually has a service to report users who are threatening to harm themselves or others. How/if they actually act upon this I don't know, but I think it's a step more social networks should have.
6). Once it's out there, it's there FOREVER. More and more employers now routinely check social media when hiring, so a mistake in your teenage years will still be there in your 30s when you are applying for a job. And just because you delete it doesn't mean someone else hasn't saved it, screen-capped it, or downloaded it. Not so cool posting about being wasted every Thursday/Friday night now, is it? People are actually losing out at job interviews for complaining about their previous employers. People are getting fired for tweeting/FBing/Pinteresting at work. Now I do use social media at work. The Facebook and Twitter accounts for the place where I work are run off my accounts. Anywhere else, I would presume that I couldn't!
7). People cannot entertain themselves any more. Now I'm not talking about the people who occasionally pop up with "...is bored at work...Tell me a joke!" I mean the people who, if they are awake, have to be on Twitter, MSN, WhatsApp, Facebook, Tumblr. On the computer. On their phones. Constant internet mental stimulation required to survive. Now, I appreciate that my generation is probably the last one that had to learn to entertain themselves without the internet. My niece could work an iPad better than me when she was 4 years old. It's not necessary to be able to entertain yourself any more, if you're bored there is an endless stream of people to talk to. But it IS necessary to have a life away from the internet. You can't rely on other people to entertain you 24/7. Use the internet if you are bored by all means, read a newspaper or book, write a book, keep a blog, do a course, even trawl Wikipedia for interesting "facts", but don't rely on social media to entertain you. You might be bored, but those people have lives, families, pets, jobs. Of course, online friends never nag you, ground you, rarely tell you off or irritate you, and never eat the last biscuit, so they are more fun than parents, children, friends, relatives and partners! Yay! But when online relationships become more important than real life relationships with family and friends, you have a serious problem. It's sad to see the same parents at work (usually Dads) out with their kids on the only weekends they get to see them, and the kids are playing or wandering around whilst the Dads are engrossed in their phones.
You can never get back the precious time that you get to spend in real life with other people, don't waste it finding out what someone else is doing!
Let's face it, when the apocalypse comes, the first things to go will be the electricity and phone lines. And what will you do then?!
*Examples taken from helpguide.org.

Project: Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Wreath!

I figured it had been long enough since we had a craft project on here. I have lots lined up for Christmas, but obviously I can't share any gifts on here until January. I can show my wreath, however. :)

I've had the bells in the picture below for years. In fact, I've had them since Pier's closing down sale, which coincided with the Iceland financial crisis, so you can tell how long ago that was. I never knew what to do with them, or rather, I could never think of a project good enough for them. Then the other day in one of my many Christmas magazines I spotted a beautiful jewel-colour-themed wreath, using baubles rather than bells, but it would still work!

I decided that I didn't want to spend too much on the project (the bells should have cost me £24, fortunately I got them 50% off), so I hit up Poundland for the rest of my supplies.

(Please excuse the state of my carpet in the following photographs. . . I was NOT about to hoover before I started chucking tinsel about!!).

My eyes were definiately bigger than my wreath, because I didn't end up using the small baubles or the crystals. I used: 1 wreath, 4m (2x2m packs) of tinsel, 1 roll of gold wired ribbon. 1 roll of gold elastic cord.

This is the wreath you start off with. Originally I was just going to trim the tinsel down, and glue the new tinsel over the top. I'm glad I fiddled around a little longer though, because the tinsel does come off very easily, leaving you with this:

The pattern for wrapping your tinsel is:
Fully wrapped!
Happy little pile of Christmas! :D

The strings on the bells really weren't that long, so I cut them all off, and replaced them with the elasticated cord. Using each of the 10 "full" bars on the wreath, I tied a bell into each of the three grid sections along the bar, to attach three bells in a row to each bar.

It was at this point that I decided the baubles and jewels were a bit of a waste, because I just couldn't figure out where they would look right!! I did decide to add a bow on the bottom, using the wired ribbon. I folded the whole rolls' worth in half (I think it was 2m), cut into two pieces, and tied the two pieces together into a double bow.
Then I threaded another piece of cord through the back of the bow (actually, that is the front of the bow, I decided the back looked better than the front!!).

All finished and on the wall! :D My husband did make me take it down as "It's only bloody November...". Booooooooo!! But, come Dec.1st it will be back in pride of place above my fireplace.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Listography: Six Songs Of Me

1. What was the first song you ever bought?First song...I honestly can't remember. I seemed to come by most of my early music as presents. The first music I would have been given (that I remember) was when I was about four or five years old. A Jive Bunny cassette, I think that was for my birthday, with a little red Sony Walkman. Shortly followed by a Neil Sedaka Greatest Hits cassette (I was convinced he was Bob from Sesame Street. Even though he wasn't Bob, I still love Neil Sedaka (and Sesame Street...) ;).

2. What song always gets you dancing?
That would have to be something cheesy like "The Macarena". Very few songs actually get me dancing, I'm really not much of a dancer at all. I have no moves. I either have to be tipsy, or guaranteed that a lot of people will look more stupid than me (hence, "The Macarena"). Recently I have been known to  modernise my repertoire with "Cha-Cha Slide".

3. What song takes you back to your childhood?
Lots! The "Laurel and Hardy" theme (Dad whistling), "Hole In The Ground" (singing in the bath it was my song of choice), "You Are My Sunshine" (Grandma's song of choice), "Magificent Men In Their Flying Machines" (Mum used to sing it to me to send me to sleep), "D.I.V.O.R.C.E" (no sad reasons, Tammy Wynette was my cassette of choice in Grandpa's car on the way to the farm), "Rhinestone Cowboy" (cassette of choice in Dad's car, Glenn Campbell). Guess I always was a country girl!

4. What is your perfect love song?
"All For Love", Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, Sting. Our first dance at our wedding.
"All That Really Matters", Richie Sambora. One of the tracks we chose for our wedding DVD. It was also second choice for first dance, but "All For Love" won out because I would have cried if we had used "All That Really Matters", and the make-up lady was expensive. ;)

"When I look at you
I realise
There comes a time in someone's life
When you find things that matter
And every time we touch
The love runs deep
We realize it's our to keep
And that's all that really matters.
You'll always be my sweet addiction
In this life my saving grace
Girl you're all that really matters
You know it's true
There ain't no me without you."

5. What song would you want at your funeral?
"When I Get Where I'm Goin'", Brad Paisley Feat. Dolly Parton.

"When I get where I'm goin',
There'll be only happy tears.
I will shed the sins and struggles
I have carried all these years.
And I'll leave my heart wide open,
I will love and have no fear.
Yeah when I get where I'm goin',
Don't cry for me down here."

6. Time for the encore. One last song that make you you.
Do I really have one? There is an awful lot of music that I LOVE, just love, makes my heart happy, kind of love. I can't even pick a favourite song. I have a different one every day/week/month. I don't have an anthem. Even my husband can't think of one song that "makes me me". I suddenly and without warning get "Bolero" stuck in my head with alarming regularity, but I certainly wouldn't say that was a "makes me me" song, even if I do whistle it a lot. Hmm. I don't think I have an answer to that one!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Thank You, Bon Jovi

Dear Bon Jovi,

Thank you for making the tickets for your 2013 "Because We Can" tour reasonably priced.

When I heard that you were reducing the price of tickets for the next tour, I thought that you probably meant from £45 to £30, or something similar (ie, still too expensive). So all credit to you for making the cheapest tickets just £12.50.

I like to think that "Because We Can" refers to the fact that, because you are all filthy rich, you can afford to remember the people who got you there and give us some reasonably priced tickets for those who need them, even if it means maybe taking a whacking "pay cut" on the tour. That makes you even more awesome than I ever considered (and I already considered you in the top half of the top 10 of awesome).

Either way, I feel appreciated as a fan and (bonus!) now I can afford one of your gig T-shirts as well. Yay!

See you in Manchester!


Me xxx

P.S...Just teensy-weensy little thing: Next time can you make your ticket sale start on a different day to Michael Buble please? Also check dates with Nickelback, Bryan Adams, Meat Loaf, Disney On Ice. Just in case. Thanks.

P.P.S...You're AWESOME. *mwah*