Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Crafty old bird.

I don't know what's come over me lately. I've just made a(nother) life changing decision - more about that another time - but instead of concentrating on that as I should be, I've become a nesting, domesticated, crafting demon! I've always dabbled on the outskirts of domestic goddessdom creating handmade cards, salt body scrubs, button and wire hearts, knitted shaggy scarves and the odd victoria sandwich, but lately I seem to have these overwhelming urges to create things, both edible and otherwise. I'm quite unstoppable: if I get an idea in my head, I'm off, as though on a mission.

Here's some I made earlier:



Then there are the crochet flowers which I can't quite master but I won't rest until I do:

Cakes are appearing more and more frequently. Not much left of this one (coffee sponge with blackberry jam):

But the biggest development has been in a previously totally uncharted territory:

A couple of weeks ago I had this screaming urge to buy a second hand sewing machine on eBay. Me, someone who hasn't used a sewing machine since forced to recite, by my Welsh needlework teacher, "Pin and tack, Mrs Williams" in response to "And what do we do before we touch our machines, girrrrls?" (We actually used to recite "Pin. Attack Mrs Williams" but she never seemed to notice.) My lack of interest in sewing machines since then also, I'm sure, has something to do with my long buried memory of Angela Turner managing to spear the needle straight through her index finger which she morbidly insisted on waving at us all as she was scuttled off to the medical room. Anyway, I bought a little machine. Then a week later, I bid on an enormous pile of fabric squares. Well, the most GORGEOUS little cotton squares plopped on my doorstep and I had the best fun just sorting them into piles. The DDs came into the room to find mummy sitting on the floor going "LOVE!", "quite like", "not keen", "spots", "stripes". DD1 walked over, kissed me on top of my head, smiling, and said "You're such a geek, mum".  I couldn't disagree.

Until recently, I saw sewing as something other people did. I've never had much confidence in my abilities in this department, worried that I wouldn't get it 'right'. But I have high hopes for these lovely scraps. DD1 requested some shabby chic bunting, DD2 fancies a patchwork cushion and I saw an amazing patchwork tablecloth on a crafting blog...

Last weekend I spent a wonderful sunny Sunday afternoon, sitting at my kitchen table, door open to the garden, Radio 2 in the background, measuring, cutting and sewing for my first project - bunting. I got as far as I could with what I had. Tellingly, I hadn't made the time to pop to the haberdashery shop to buy the bias binding as I thought I wouldn't need it for ages (perhaps still not believing I would actually get that far). Well, I'd have finished that baby if I'd had the trim. When the DDs returned, I proudly displayed my work-in-progress and even whizzed up a little fabric heart for DD2 while she watched to show them how easy it is. They were as amazed as me. I've since pinned the tape on and I just need a quiet evening with lots of concentration to finish this:

My future goals after these projects are: to relearn to crotchet  (I made a blanket as a child and am determined to do that again); to cover a cork board in fabric and ribbon to make a pretty noticeboard for my kitchen, a craft a material blind for my porch and to turn an old jumper into a cushion cover. Oh, and some little raggedy stuffed creatures to hang on twigs for Easter. It's all so wonderfully twee!

But here's why I'm embracing it for all it's worth: for years I suffered from general, then post natal, depression and during that time the world was a dark, black, lonely place where anything other than functional and austere was just not noticed, let alone appreciated, by me. Though thankfully the depression left me a long, long time ago and I've been noticing all this wonderful, feminine creativity around me for ages, I am finally in a place where I feel I want to be a part of it. I'm still learning to be kind to myself and not aspire for any kind of impossible perfection, just to be the best me I can be. That goes too for my bread, bunting and button hearts - in all their imperfect glory! And this new direction is filling me with more joy than I ever thought possible.

Friday, 4 March 2011

It's official: I'm boring.

I like to think I have a good sense of humour. I see the funny side of all kinds of seemingly ordinary things, and the DDs and I have a 'right larf' all the time. But recently it was brought to my attention - by myself initially (we have a lot of heart to hearts, me and I) - that despite this I am really quite boring. I could put it down to my age as I'm supposedly about half way now, or my circumstances. Or is that just a cop out? I know plenty of older more financially challenged or single people who are the life and soul of the party. Maybe I just need to face the fact that I've seriously lost my fun gene.

Take the other night. DD2 wanted to go to a new dance class about 15 minutes away, from 6.30 - 8.30. I was aghast. What, in the evening?? On a school night?? After I've put my slippers on??  I'm used to running around after them to all kinds of activities straight after school, but pretty much by 6.30 we're done and dinner is in progress. Motherly duty conflicting with selfish hermitism, I begrudgingly agreed to take her. Feeling a little daring about venturing outside my hutch, I then suggested to DD2 that, instead of coming straight home, she and I go swimming at the local pool. She squealed with excitement and surprise and ran off to grab her kit. Ten minutes later, I wanted to stick pins in my eyes more than go swimming. But I couldn't disappoint her though I must confess I did try and tell her that she had a cough and maybe going swimming wasn't such a good idea after all but she just said "muuuuummmmy....." and I knew I couldn't get out of it.

Still not buying into the idea of Going. Back. Out. Again. I huffily dropped off a nervous DD1, bless her, and DD2 and I headed to the leisure centre. I fully expected it to be tumble weed city with perhaps the odd pensioner doing back stroke in the pool. I was staggered to find it absolutely heaving with people!! Out. In the evening. On a school night. There were flood lit football and netball matches going on, joggers running around the grounds, music booming from the dance studios, and there were quite a few people in the pool too, and not all pensioners. I felt like a newborn kitten, my eyes opening for the first time. The bustle, the lights, the noise.... Needless to say, DD2 and I had the most lovely time. She was content alternating jumping in with doing those bloody mushroom things where they disappear under the water until you are ready to call the lifeguard before they pop up breathlessly demanding to know "how many minutes was that??". I managed a decent number of laps and it all flooded (sorry) back to me. What seems like another lifetime ago, I used to swam 30 lengths in this very pool three times a  week. I even recognised a few familiar faces amongst fellow swimmers who were still going strong rather than having gone into hibernation like me.

And I felt guilty about my sulking earlier. DD2 is such a sweet child who is always the first to jump to my defense if I'm too harsh with myself. For example, if I'm gawping in the mirror at a new wrinkle and say "Oh, dear, mummy's feeling a bit old today" she will always say  vehemently "You are lovely mummy and I think you look 21" etc. You can see why I like her. So she and I were hanging out in the deep end and I said "Thanks, little one, for making mummy come out and play". She grinned. I continued "I know I'm really boring sometimes." And she just gave me a knowing smile. No quick denial. No false reassurance.It's official then.

And it got me thinking. Other than the regular belly laughs and tickling or dancing or just crazy moments I have with the girls (and even then it comes with warnings 'careful!', 'mind your head on the table', 'stop biting your sister') when was the last time I really, really let go and had fun? I always have lots of friends over and we regularly laugh over bottles of wine or a cuppa at my kitchen table, but I  couldn't remember the last time I was really lost in the moment, not wondering what time it is, or what's on my things-to-do list. I'm always the responsible adult keeping myself in check.

Then I remembered: The last time I completely lost myself was in June at the O2 watching Bon Jovi in concert. I was lucky enough to see them three times in 11 days (I only paid full price for one ticket). I've seen them quite a few times and when they are on stage, I never care who is watching, how stupid I look or how bad my singing is. I air guitar, punch my fist to the sky and screech along with my soul mate, peaking when he sings "It's my life, it's now or never". So I think perhaps I need to take a leaf out of the gorgeous one's book: stop being a boring fart and start living as though there's no tomorrow. Now or never. That's it then. From now on, I'm just one big ball of fun, fun, fun. Hmm... except I'm not sure how to do that. Perhaps I'll add it to my to-do list when I've taken this washing out of the machine, before I run the hoover round...