30 September 2007

Getting creative!

Here's a guilty pleasure of mine ... yes, I'm 23, I should be out partying, but I much prefer a bit of knitting and crochet! Here's a couple of my recent creations:

This is a shawl I made for my Mum for her birthday (although I liked it so much she almost didn't get it!) It's a crochet piece, and I got the pattern from 'Stich and Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker' by Debbie Stoller. It took me a couple of months but is probably the most beautiful thing I've made so far, so was definitely worth it.

This is a novelty pincushion, based on the pattern in 'One Skein' by Leigh Radford, but adapted to suit the yarns I have. I made this because I saw some knitted cupcake pincushions in Elle magazine priced at £12.50. I thought that was pretty stupid, since I know for a fact you could make them for under £1 each. This is the first I've made and needs a few adjustments, but I'm planning to make some to sell as quirky Christmas gifts - just need to perfect the pattern!


I got a hit from India this week - with no referring link! I know nobody in India so if you were that person, please leave a comment to say how you found me!!

Generous Journal: How to save a life

I've mentioned before in my journal that I started giving blood earlier this year. I gave my second donation on Tuesday so thought I'd write a little bit about it.

Giving money to charity is great, but money can't buy this resource - it's a different way of being generous, one that can directly save lives. One thing that really encouraged me is finding out I'm O rhesus positive, which can be used for anyone with a positive blood group - over 80% of people. My blood is pretty much guaranteed to be used to help  someone when they most need help. It doesn't take that long (was home within the hour on Tuesday) and isn't that painful.

If you're thinking of giving blood, here's a few tips:
* Don't be scared about the health checklist - this is a list of yes/no questions. I was really worried about putting yes for things like going to the doctor, but they're very understanding and in most situations can still accept your blood
* Eat plenty before - a mistake I made this time around which resulted in me going a bit dizzy after donating. I go straight from work so next time I'll take an extra sandwich to have on the train
* Drink loads - it helps replace the blood
* Be prepared to eat loads the next day - both times I've been absolutely ravenous the next day!
* Don't be scared of using your arm afterwards - it'll be sore but using it gently will help to reduce that. Just don't go weightlifting!

I really recommend giving blood if you're able - I was scared of it for years as I'm really squeamish, but it's really not that bad, promise!


Not been blogging much recently and for that I do apologise. Work's been very stressful so I've just been too tired to blog ... Will do better in future, promise!

24 September 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... Out of synch with my posts!
... reading 'Don Quixote' (halfway through now!)
... trying to decide what to make next
... comfort eating
... staying indoors if this horrible weather carries on

19 September 2007

Generous Journal: Why I like to Bag It Up!!

If you read my earlier journal entries you'll know that I've been trying to stop taking plastic carrier bags from shops. But why is this? Well, I'll let my new bag from Oxfam answer that question ...

Nuff said!

The 'bit wet' effect

I mentioned the 'bit wet effect' in my big rant on commuting. Here's some evidence. I left the house this morning and it was raining. By the time I got to the station it had pretty much stopped. However, trains were delayed by at least 20 minutes due to two train failures. Coincidence? I don't think so!!

17 September 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... reading 'Don Quixote' still
... sulking still (job no better)
... wishing my big brother luck in his first week of uni
... wishing my Mum a happy birthday on Wednesday and seeing her at the weekend (yay!)
... finishing a top-secret crochet project
... getting round to doing my Gernerous journal (was ill yesterday)

10 September 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... oh I don't know, probably sulking at the rubbishness of my life at the moment

09 September 2007

New link!

Check out the new link to 'Overheard Lines' I've put on the blog, this is one of the funniest blogs I've seen!

Generous Journal: Why I love volunteering

This week I lost my Friday nights again. I had six weeks over the summer of being able to go for a drink with my workmates, or stay in and watching Friday night TV. But now all that's come to an end. And the weird thing is I'm really glad about it!

So why have I lost my Friday nights? Well, during term time I help run the senior youth club at my church. We are open to children aged 14 or over, and have about 15-20 young people, mostly boys, who come along, play football or pool, or just have a gossip. We ply them with sweets and sugary drinks, and halfways through the session we sit them down and do a little talk. The talks are usually to do with Christianity as it's a church organisation, but we also try to encourage them to live well even if they don't believe in God. All this takes up a couple of hours of my time excluding travel to and from.

It doesn't sound like much really. People often ask, 'So what do you do with the kids?' and seem a bit disappointed when I say we just let them do what they want (within reason). But when we're driving back from youth club just after 10pm on a Friday night, and I see groups of teenagers hanging around on the street, that's when I see that what I'm doing does have a benefit. Youth club is somewhere safe they can come to, hang around with their friends and let off steam at the end of the week. They're in no danger and they're also not out worrying the neighbourhood (because I think often the presence of groups of teenagers on the street is threatening to residents even if they're not doing any harm).

So by being generous with my time I can contribute to the lives of these young people. What's more I enjoy it. Yeah, my workmates might be at the pub having a laugh, but the kids at youth club can be much funnier without the aid of alcohol! They're a great group, and never fail to make me smile. Plus our tuck shop is so cheap I can stock up on chocolate for the rest of the week!

So that's why I love volunteering. In fact, I feel more satisfied by those two hours on a Friday night than by a whole week at work!

03 September 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... accepting that I won't have the willpower to diet until I'm over the 10 stone mark anyway so I may as well pig out
... reading 'Don Quixote'
... crocheting like the wind having lost a week due to wrist injury
... wishing hubby luck for his first week back at school (as a teacher, that is, I'm not married to a schoolchild!!)
... drinking tea. Because it's great
... mourning the passing of the summer, even if it was horrendous

02 September 2007

Ten things I hate about Leeds

To mark my second anniversary of living in Leeds!!

1. The lingo - If you ask for a bun in a tearoom, you'll get a cupcake. Ask for directions and you might get directed down a ginnel or snicket. A pretty baby is a bonny babby. And you're not treated well, you're 'tretten' well. Eh?
2. The accent - Now I'm very aware that my regular readers have Leeds accents and I should point out that some of the strains of the Leeds accent are quite nice to listen to. But go to some parts of Leeds (I daren't mention which) and my word, it's like listening to nails scraping a blackboard!
3. The architecture - There are parts of Leeds that are beautiful. But go to the city centre and you'll see beautiful old buildings squashed between ugly 1980's office blocks, and there are so many 'funky' new apartment towers going up that soon all that glass will be necessary to create any semblance of natural light!
4. The size - I'm from Lincoln, which is a nice compact little city. Leeds however is ridiculously sprawling. The big disadvantage being that when you end up only seeing your friends at work or wherever else you met them because they live so far away that to pop round for a cuppa would mean about an hour's journey!
5. Kirkstall Road - otherwise known in our office as 'Kirkstall f***ing Road' (but of course I'm too polite to say that), when trains are down you can very easily spend at least an hour crawling along this betarmacced hell in a bus. And what have they done to help matters? Put one of the shortest and most pointless bus lanes on one of the quietest bits of the road!!
6. Train travel - I think I've covered that one before!
7. House prices - I recently read an article in the 'Lincolnshire Echo' my Mum gave me which was ranting about how average house prices in Lincoln are now a whopping £135,000. My goodness, if only!!! In February the average house price in Leeds was £167,485. Unless you're prepared to live somewhere rather dubious, you don't get much for your money up here.
8. The Loop - the name for the city centre's one way system. I'm not even a driver, but when hubby's desperately trying to escape the centre I do find myself thinking 'surely there was a more straightforward way of solving congestion problems?'
9. Hills - my legs were raised in one of the flattest counties in Britain. They are certainly not designed to climb practically vertical inclines just to get home in the evening.
10. The fact that, try as I might and in spite of the above, I actually secretly love Leeds. Don't tell anyone.

Generous Journal: Why green is generous

Now, you may have noticed from previous Generous Journal entries that a lot of my actions are to do with the environment. I'd started to worry about this because, while it's a good thing to be eco-friendly, can it really be classed as generous in the true meaning of the word? According to dictionary.com, 'generous' means:

1. liberal in giving or sharing; unselfish: a generous patron of the arts; a generous gift.
2. free from meanness or smallness of mind or character; magnanimous.
3. large; abundant; ample: a generous portion of pie.
4. rich or strong in flavor: a generous wine.
5. fertile; prolific: generous soil.

Now the first two definitions are what spring to mind for me. But what has that got to do with being green?

Well, on Thursday I went to a screening of Al Gore's documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth.' I really recommend it - it explains the science behind climate change and the effects of carbon really clearly. One thing Gore talks about in the documentary is that parts of Greenland and Antarctica are starting to melt. He said that if half of Greenland and half of West Antarctica were to melt (which is apparently a real possibility) this would cause flooding across all continents and displace 10 million people. Scary, isn't it?

This was what made me see that being green really is generous. How can I justify abusing the earth's resources at the expense of 10 million people? Do I really want my children and grandchildren to live in a world where the climate is out of control so that I can live more comfortably now? By making sure I keep my carbon footprint as small as possible now, I am going a tiny way towards making sure that the earth is shared properly and unselfishly; I am looking beyond my little world and being less small-minded.

I am going to try to do more generous stuff that's not related to the environment, but Thursday renewed my interest in being green and made me see that by doing so, I can be generous to everyone in the world, now and in the future. Which is a pretty cool thought!