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

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.

In defence of…my wardrobe! Day 20

ASOS Sport Luxe Skirt

Angelina Jolie leg action

I give you forewarning this is going to be short and sharp…well, maybe not sharp. Little G is going through a rough patch sleep-wise and I have half a contact lens poking at my eyeball. Ah, there you go, the sharp bit! Enough said. So, here we go.

This is my Sport Luxe skirt. Wait a minute now, sport what?! Can this be right? What is this strange phenomenon? And, more importantly, why do I possess a such a curious oddity? In what universe did I think this was a good idea? In the ASOS universe, that’s where. In the universe of ASOS hallucination. You know what I mean. It’s the videos. Gorgeous models prancing towards you masterfully wearing whatever crazy fad you have your eye on. That explains it. Somehow they convinced me a Sport Luxe skirt with a knee-high split was just what I needed to fulfil my style potential.

Brown Leather Belt

There’s a waist there somewhere

This skirt, for me, is so many kinds of wrong I don’t know where to start. Too short, too fat, too prim (me…not the skirt). I blame the young trendy types I went to university with last year. That’s how this aberration happened. Pre-mid-life-crisis.

In my effort to salvage it, I’m trying it out with the stripey jumper (its third outing so far), my trusty old leather belt and the scruffy Converse trainers (again). It’s oh-so-comfortable but can I really get away with it? Maybe. Just about. From a distance. As long as I don’t start spouting rubbish about Lady Gaga and using phrases like ‘yolo’. There’s no surer way to add the mutton to the lamb.

Today's Outfit

Down with the kids

In defence of…my wardrobe. Day 5

I am the (very proud) owner of one baby who’s convinced that sheer hours put in equals quicker road to walking. Tired. Very tired. But, lucky for me, I checked the official fine print of my resolutions…

1. Make an effort to fall in love with bulging wardrobe for whole month of January.

2. Be more imaginative with masses of unworn clothes, accessorising and reinventing in manner of home-grown stylist.

3. Blog results.

And since I am the only adjudicator, I decree there’s nothing in the rules to forbid a day of rest…where did I specify ‘daily’? Sometimes, I’m so thankful for the vagueness of my own thoughts (although this gratitude doesn’t ordinarily come when I’ve mislaid my house keys/debit card/IPhone yet again).

And, of course, I read in another book of rules somewhere that sunday’s aren’t to be messed with. So, nothing I can do about it…all roads point to rest. Day off then. Or rather, I shall content myself with wearing slippers as being a satisfactory attempt to obey the rules. For, every year, I am gifted at least one pair of these dandy items which are then destined to live under the bed until I deign to take them to the charity shop. Don’t feel pity; they go to a better home.

This year was a bumper crop (sorry, Kazuo Ishiguro…I nicked your line!) Two pairs of slippers! I shall be spending the day in this fine pair and, if they’re especially lucky, I shall accessorise them later with some baby spit and a spot of Weetabix.


A very find addition to any wardrobe

In defence of: absence

DSC01910So, where the hell have I been since January? Did anybody’s heart grow fonder?

I do have a defence…or a list of excuses at least. I haven’t been off watching re-runs of The Big Bang theory in lieu of a new series (although I admit, I may have googled their flash mob a couple of times).

Here’s what I’ve really been doing: finishing my MA, baking a baby, working for the Lancashire Evening Post…and, yes, neglecting the cleaning.

In the past few weeks, desperate people have been pleading with me to sit down and take the (now substantial) weight off my tiny feet. I’ve been subjected to wide eyes of growing concern and gasps of fear as I waddled around apparently unaware of my own girth. I am a little clumsy at the best of times…and my lack of spacial awareness has served to make some people a little panicky. I can’t think why.

As the days have gone on, I’ve feared that, if I didn’t finally heed their warning, they might stage an intervention and strap me down. So, with two weeks left to go until the birth of my first baby, today’s the day I’m finally able to take a load off and do absolutely nothing. These are the glory days. This is the stuff of monday morning commuter fantasy. And the result? Boredom. Big style.

So, I’m finally getting round to updating my blog and I’m giving it a little style change. All my posts from now on are going to come under the banner ‘In defence of…’ I’m going to be using my blog a little differently – to showcase my columnist credentials and, hopefully, someone will eventually give me Caitlin Moran’s job! If you want to suggest an ‘In defence of…’ topic, please get in touch and I’ll see what I can do! Although don’t ask me to defend platform shoes: they’re beyond the realm of defence. Genuinely.

Watch out for the first ‘In defence of…’ some time in the near future.