MAD Blog Awards Plea…Humble, Moi?

MAD Blog Awards

This post goes against every grain and fibre of my being…and therefore comes with a rather hefty apology attached. As a forewarning, I’m pretty stalwartly British in my inability to sing my own praises so expect some unabashed bashfulness! I wasn’t brought up to brag, beg or otherwise beleaguer people…especially with selfish requests. But, I’m breaking the habit of a lifetime to (gently) encourage you to nominate me for a MAD Blog Award (should you so wish, of course).

Am I a suitable candidate for these awards? Well, in all honesty, that’s for you to decide but I reckon the old adage ‘you have to be in it to win it’ definitely applies here. And it can’t hurt to try, right?

If you’ve never heard of them, the MAD Blog Awards are sponsored by Parent Dish and recognise blogs about all things parent-related. There are a bountiful range of categories and I’d be honoured to be nominated for any…but I’m seriously and copiously coveting the ‘Best Blog Writer’ or ‘Best New Blog’. Is all this a little premature since I only resurrected my blog in January? Am I blowing a horn with no hoot here?

Well, here’s a bit of backbone to my plea. Earlier in the year I embarked upon a blogathon about reinventing my post-baby style and these links are what I consider to be the linguistic highlights! There’s also a couple of links to more recent posts about returning to work from maternity leave and childhood sports. Peruse at your leisure and, if you like what you see, click the MAD Awards button and make my year! If not, pay me no mind and be on your merry way with a grateful adieu from me. Fare thee well fine readers!

Post Mummy Style Blogathon Day 13

Post Mummy Style Blogathon Day 15

Post Mummy Style Blogathon Day 23

That Sunday Feeling

A Sporting Chance

A Sporting Chance

A Sporting Chance

Very expensive, very white trainers!

Last week MP Helen Grant (supposed She Warrior of Sports and Equality) made some pretty laughable comments about women and ‘feminine sports’…the like of which barely merit any comment at all other than a derisory shrug. For those of you who missed it though, she dared to suggest we women folk who have shunned sport in our droves,  should merely take up less aggressive sports; those in which we can remain graceful, probably un-sweat-drenched instead.

Now, admittedly, I’m a bit of a slob most of the time. I can count on no hands the number of sporting activities I’ve attempted in the last year. In fact, my idea of a real workout is to carry my 10 month old up the stairs…with the occasional ‘zoom, zoom, zoom’ game thrown in for good measure. But it wasn’t always that way. And, Ms Grant, I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with femininity and EVERYTHING to do with equality. Sadly, you seem to have got the wrong end of the right stick.

You see, for women as well as men, I’m pretty sure all people weren’t created equal when it comes to sport. Natural selection and all that. This fact is incontrovertible. I can’t and won’t seek to argue with it. But therein lies the rub, my friends. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of the anti-competition, anti-winner, anti-loser mob but until our culture recognises effort in sport as well as simple achievement, we are always going to engender a deep hatred of sport in huge masses of folk. Menfolk too.

Why? Well, I’m almost too sad to say it. As a teacher, I can’t abide finger-pointing at the profession but, with a heart of lead, I have to admit that school is where my unswerving dislike of sport came from. Sir and Miss P.E., I’m sorry to say it but – for me, at least – it is your fault and your fault alone that I hate sport (yes – even the feminine ones!) Okay, I have to take the blame for my own apathy too and I’m a lazy arse in my old age but I’m pretty sure you could have got me hooked if you’d only tried. You see, as a pretty small, pretty average girl, I was terrified of a hockey ball and allergic to cross-country and my eagle-eyed P.E. teachers spotted this instantly but if I concentrate very hard, I can envisage a time when that wasn’t the case.

I have an image of myself at primary school that remains pretty vivid even now, (well) into my thirties. There I am, flying across the sports field, wind whipping back my hair,  huge smile on my face as I speed past the boys and sprint my way to glory. That was me, that was. A tiny streak of thunder. Trying very hard. But that trying soon ceased when I learned I was a hopeless…worse than hopeless…case.

But I have to wonder about the chicken and the egg. Was I rubbish at sport because I was rubbish at sport or was I simply demotivated by teachers who’d labelled me lame? That was me, wasn’t it, blazing across the school field? That small girl, loving the feel of her feet pounding the clods of earth…she wasn’t an apparition?

There’s another image alongside this first one. This time at secondary school…I suppose I’m about fourteen. Standing in a line of ‘sporty’ girls on a windy day…you know the girls, the ‘naturals’…the ones who, if you’re honest, you’d really like to be. Standing beside them, I wait to hit the tennis ball over a distant net, aiming for a seemingly miniscule box on the other side. When I’m the only girl in the line to hit the ball over the net and land it in first time, and with some accuracy into the bargain, the look on Miss P.E’s face is inexplicable. She doesn’t know what to say. She can’t bring the usual gleeful war cry of champions to her lips. But it’s clear; it’s obvious. She’s impressed, in spite of herself. And after a long pause in which she looks at the better girls as if they’ve let her down, she does find the words: “That was good,” she says and it’s almost a whisper. A stunned question. But it was too little, too late. My attitude was already formed. You don’t care about me and I don’t care about your stupid sport. So I shrug and go to the back of the line as if I’m not back on that field of glory again. As if I haven’t just won a grand-slam.

I know I don’t want this for my daughter. I’d like her to be one of the ‘naturals’ but, if not, I don’t want her to dig her heels in like her stubborn mother, either. How do I change her habits when mine are so fully formed? Well, I’ll need to work that out as I go along but maybe we shouldn’t be looking at the gender of sport but the equality of it…in schools at least. Yes, there will be winners – there should be winners, and with that comes losers but there must be some way of celebrating sport just for fun as well. A way of capturing that young hunger to burn across the field in the sunshine. Just for the sake of it. Just for the thumping blood in our ears. In that love, at least, we ARE all created equal…

Liebster Love

Aside

Image

With a very red face, I have to admit to being very tardy. And, as a woman who’s habitually over-prepared and compulsively over-punctual, this is not something I’m proud of! No. Not at all.

A few weeks ago, I was nominated for a Liebster Award by Khoa Sinclair who blogs about art, fashion, love and life (by the way, I really like this post: The Five Positives of Being Single). And, even though I was really touched to be thought of, it’s taken me all this time to post about it. Why? Because I’m a little stuck for what to say! As a total novice blogger, I’d never heard of a Liebster so I did a bit of research…safe to say I’ve got with the programme now and I know my duty. But that’s where I get a bit stuck. Saying thank you is easy – thank you, thank you, thank you – there, see? Hugely humbled and grateful. That bit, I can do.

It’s the next bit I get stuck with. I follow dozens of blogs (quite a few about sewing these days) but most have oodles of followers and when I started going back through their history, most have received the Liebster before. Hmm…what to do? Well, the search will have to go on. In the meantime, below are the last five blogs I read…and that will have to do! If you can direct me to any ‘new blogs’, I’d love to follow some links and share the Liebster love! I hope the Liebster monster doesn’t come and eat up my blog for breaking the rules.

  1. Dolly Clackett (blogs about dressmaking…awesome skills!)
  2. Delightfully Tacky (amazing photography…seriously enviable style).
  3. The Bookshelf of Emily J (it is what it says on the tin…and what a shelf it is!)
  4. Miss Informed Mummy (thoughtful posts about family life)
  5. Almond Rock (pretty cool sewing blog)

So, the Liebster comes with a list of questions from the nominator to the nominee. Here are my answers, Khoa!

1. What is/was your favorite subject in school?

I was a bit of a super-geek for all things English and drama ( but, in general, I was one of those kids who just fades into the wallpaper).

2. Is your closet organized? If so, what is the system?

Two closets…an occasional system. The system never sticks, unfortunately!

3. What is your song of the week?

Loving all things Jake Bugg at the moment. This kid is the only thing (apart from me obviously) putting my home town on the map. And he’s doing it flipping well!

4. Even if you’re bad at cooking (like I am) what is your favorite dish to make?

I cook because if I didn’t, I’d die. And so would my family! Not a single thing…apart from the archetypal English Victoria sponge cake.

5. What creams or face washes do you swear by?

I’m so disloyal in this area…although I love me a little Lancôme.

6. Describe your go to outfit for a bad day?

Dress. Dress. Dress. And then another dress.

7. Are you a Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, or Miranda? Why?

I’d like to think a good mix of all…although other people would say Charlotte (because they tend to think I’m ‘prim’).

8. Where do you want to spend the rest of your life (city wise that is)?

Wherever life takes me, I’m happy to go.

9. Your favorite fashion show of all time? Mine would have to be the Versace S/S 08.

Err…

10. What is your dream job?

1940s Hollywood siren? Is that available?

11. Dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who do you choose?

You know what? Sometimes I really like to eat alone…and very slowly. But that’s just the harassed Mummy speaking.

That Sunday Feeling

Teachers Planner

Ready, set, go!

You know that dread you get on a Sunday, right around this time? The feeling that the sand draining out of your weekend egg timer resembles a desert storm? Well, I’m right slap in the middle of the mother of all Sunday Night panics. After a full year – yep, 12 whole months – of maternity leave, I’m darkening the doorways of a nearby school once again tomorrow and it’s safe to say I’m pretty terrified.

Am I terrified of standing nose to nose with 30 curious adolescents, all wondering what kind of supply teacher I’ll be? Hell yes. But their guaranteed antics aren’t my main concern – I just hope I can teach without slipping into baby babble.

Am I terrified of the workload, then? You know, that famous workload Michael Gove’s never heard of?! Well, yes, but maybe not in the way you’d imagine. Juggling the planning, teaching, marking, meetings, detentions, parents’ evening and the endless list of other priorities pails into insignificance at the mere thought of the marathon that begins when the alarm clock goes off.

If I don’t get rudely awakened by some seriously inopportune teething, the starter’s gun goes off at 6am. And, from there on out, just getting through the day will be an almighty challenge. On the mark of go, this is what needs to happen. Get self into (suitable) clothes (non-milk-drenched, non-leggined, non-pyjama bottomed, preferably with two shoes that match), get Little G into (also suitable) clothes for nursery (plus, make sure to pack mandatory two sets of spare clothes just in case nursery staff drown her in soup, paint or inexplicably sticky glitter), get to nursery for 8am (a stroke before 8 and we pay extra, a stroke after and I’ll be late for work), get to work on time whilst driving safely and observing the speed limit, teach and all that jazz (remembering how important said job is and young lives are hanging in the balance etc), get out of work on time but without neglecting responsibilities of marking, planning etc, pick up Little G before her absolute limit has expired and she is truly exhausted by the nursery no-nap extravaganza, get Little G home without tears, find Little G suitably safe and entertaining activity whilst cooking (very healthy but also nice) dinner (or else listen to howling tears whilst cooking), possibly have to cease cooking and/or burn dinner in order to apply teething gel, administer Calpol or walk around the house holding Little G’s hands like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, feed everyone, have fun, possibly say a few words to very tired, hard-working husband (although this perhaps is optional?), get Little G and self bathed, possibly squeeze in some nice family time, get over-tired, over-zealous, never-wants-to-go-to-bed Little G into bed without huge drama (otherwise internet says she will not sleep well anyway), wash clothes, clean house, try to relax and start again the next day. Breathe? Maybe. But realistically, probably not.

So, cue sweat puthering down my neck. With all these tasks to accomplish in one day, I’m sitting here asking myself what’s going to give? With all that to do, most likely the housework, the breathing and almost certainly the relaxing…and, honestly, I can live in an untidy house, warmed by a mountain of unwashed clothes. I can cope with not watching awful TV or having a decent five minutes to wind down…I can do all that, as long as what gives isn’t me, my relationships or the happiness of my little family!

But, for now, I’m off to have a bath because, actually, the preparation for tomorrow really starts today!

One woman, two blogs…and a dirty little sewing habit

70s Fabric

A clue of posts to come…

My name is Lisa and I am addicted to sewing. I can no longer pretend otherwise. This dirty little habit took hold before The Great British Sewing Bee aired last week but the fire is only being fuelled by the Beeb’s latest instalment. I was hooked from the very first stitch.

Already on my sewing journey, I’ve amassed patterns a-plenty (there was a sale) and a fabric stash to die for. In fact, if I’m not careful, this blog will be consumed by my madness and you’ll have to put up with all manner of nonsense about piping, seams and all kinds of whatnots I haven’t even learned yet. So, to prevent that happening, I’ve decided to split myself in two…I’ve set up a sewing blog where I can whitter on until my heart’s content (a LOT of whittering then!) I’ve rather nattily (I think, anyway) called it Stitched Up From the Start and will chart my journey from virgin seamstress to, hopefully, something a little better than total disaster.

Pattern Stash

Patterns a-plenty

If you’re following on here and you want to hop over, please do but don’t desert me here. I’m not going anywhere. I’m just greedy…and I can’t deal with messy blog content. Tidy house, tidy mind – or so my mother always said!

The sudden overwhelming love of sewing isn’t all that unpredictable by the way. I’ve always been a crafty type. And, as anyone who followed my January stylathon will know, I love a good project too. In the past, I’ve dabbled with various artsy hobbies - I made the hair combs for my wedding party, put together the flowers for my daughter’s christening and I used to make my own birthday cards (not actually my own…that would be tragic but you know what I mean!)

Fabric Stash

The fabric stash

So, follow my latest venture if you’d like to see the good, the bad and the downright ugly…but don’t leave me on my Bill here! Watch out for my new post on Nestle Against My Heart in the next few days…content hint: it’s called That Sunday Feeling!

Sew Far, Sew Good

Sewing Machine

As promised, a sew sew post!

I can count the number of times I’ve sat at a sewing machine on one hand. Everytime, it’s ended in near disaster. I blame my high school textiles teacher. On the outside, she was one of those home-spun, Good Life types – a little bit waif-like, always preserving jam and a fully-fledged member of the WI. The meekest woman you can possibly imagine. But underneath, she was a seething battleaxe ready to pounce on the nearest wayward pupil.

I wasn’t that wayward. In fact, I wasn’t wayward at all. I was a bit of a nerd and desperate to please, actually. But I just couldn’t sew. And that was my downfall. After a five minute lesson on how to thread a sewing machine, we were set on our way, making purses. Sounds simple enough but what happens when your thread snaps, your machine gets in a jam and you’re too scared to ask the monster hiding behind her glasses and a pile of marking how to fix it? Well, I’ll fill you in. What happens is this: you get a detention. And you’re made to sit behind your broken machine until you finish your purse. Which is never going to happen. So, you sit staring at your machine, hoping it’ll somehow fix itself whilst your blissfully unaware teacher sits eating her lunch at her desk. One cursory glance…and an ounce of teaching skill…could’ve saved me from a lifetime of sewing fear.

You see, I was always good with a needle in my hand so finding out I was a tragedy with a machine was devastating. As a youngster, I’d spend hours drawing dresses (of course it was always dresses!) and hankered after the clack of a sewing machine as if it was therapy. But, because of this one experience, sewing just seemed like such an impossible mystery and I was terrified to give it another go.

The Sewing Sessions Bag

The bag that changed it all…

Then I found The Sewing Sessions in Leeds (they also have a branch in Ipswich). And, in one day, Jessica taught me more than my textiles teacher in my whole school career…French seams, bias-binding, lined pockets – all in one miraculous little bag!

After doing the Beginner’s Session with Jessica, my fear has totally dissolved away…to be replaced by mad passion and a palpitating heart everytime I see my shiny new Janome. And, of course, a beginner’s enthusiasm. I dream of making dresses, adapting vintage patterns, reigning supreme on The Great British Sewing Bee(!)

The Pouch I Made

Check out that top-stitching!

But, for now, I’m satisfied with making this little pouch to put all my little bobbins and gubbins in. It took me far longer than it ever should have and my brain was in an almighty tangle just thinking about the upside down, inside out, pull-it-through of it all…but I did it. Without a pattern. With my own fair hands. And, I reckon, if I can do that with proper seams and top-stitching, I can do just about anything.

So, this year, I’ll be learning how to sew…because, inside, I am still that perpetual pupil, eager to please and desperate for knowledge. And, sporadically, I’ll let you know how I get on. My first dressmaking project is going to be Tilly Walnes’ picnic-blanket skirt and, do you know what, I’ll sit at my machine until it’s jolly-well finished this time!

My Miraculous Transformation

Sewing Machine

A clue of things to come…

Forgive me the metamorphosis. When I began this blog, it was really only on the very terse instruction of my Journalism professors. In these postmodern days of media, they claimed, one should certainly have a blog. Cue a wry smile from me.

But, after snorting in derision and packing myself off home (heavily pregnant), I reluctantly began. And, into the bargain, I got myself on Twitter. Again: under duress. But now I find I’ve grown attached to this little voice of mine…yet it has no personality of its own. No purpose. It is merely what it had to be to get me through my degree. More recently, it’s had more of a clue where its identity might lie but is still stumbling in the dark a little about what it wants to be when it grows up.

Today, I’m going to change all that…starting with the name. ‘Nestle against my heart’ is a quote from Jane Eyre: Rochester’s desperate plea when Jane is being particularly haughty, righteous and evasive. Who could resist such a tempting request, so hungrily expressed? Well, Jane could…but I couldn’t. So, this is what my blog is about: the things that nestle against my own heart…occasionally, frequently, seldomly. It will be an assorted cornucopia of posts. Just about me. Just about my life. The quest to be better. To function more highly. To achieve more. And, like Jerry Maguire, to be ‘the me I’d always wanted to be.’

Why the sewing machine then? A clue to my next post…and something that is nestling very closely to my heart since it arrived this morning.