Friday, March 31

The Friday list
It’s a Friday. Normally this would be exciting – only a few more hours until I escape the drudgery of the office for 48 hours of freedom and fun.

But today it’s grey and rainy. I have to walk home through the mean streets of Splott and return to an empty house. (Well, there are the pets, but they are not really ones for chatting). I have no proper food in. I’m too fat to eat nice cakey things.

So, I think I need a cheering up list.

Reasons to be cheerful...
  • Yesterday was pay day.
  • All the daffodils are out in the park and they look so, so beautiful.
  • I have lots of lovely, lovely friends and have seen or spoken to or e-mailed lots of them this week.
  • A friend is copying the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs album for me (please, David!).
  • A Long Way Down is available on paperback next Friday.
  • I have to spend tomorrow morning cleaning my filthy house (boo), but I can listen to the whole of Jonathan Ross while I’m doing it (yay!).
  • Mr Meep cooked me two fab meals this week (sausage, mustard mash, roasted parsnips with garlic and artichoke, onion gravy; bonkers spinachy, beany pasta thing with poached vanilla cinnamon plums).
  • I’ve just discovered George Orwell – reading this at the moment. Makes me wish I’d studied English Literature at uni.
  • Oh, and did I mention that I’ve quit my job.
  • Thursday, March 30

    I so have to knit one of these

    From the fab Boy Knits World.
    Reflective Wednesday (but on Thursday)... the week that was, the week that will be

    The holiday
    So the Cowshed holiday was amazing. Such an fantastic place – almost magical, with stunning scenery and lots of mystical history, with stone circles dotted around the huge moor that’s right outside the Cowshed door.

    In the mornings, I’d go out on to the moor in my dressing gown (and walking boots – very attractive) with a cup of tea, and just think about life. I’ll put my photos on Flikr on the weekend so you can have a butchers.

    I did, however, come to the conclusion that living in the middle of nowhere – which is something I thought I’d always do one day – is not for me. Although having absolute silence, clean air, amazing scenery and a slower pace of life is a dream, I think I’d really miss culture and having the buzz of life around me. I’d miss theatres, cinemas, coffee shops, restaurants. I’d miss being able to walk into town and pop to the health food shop or the market for some veggies. I’d miss the feeling of community I get when walking towards the train station in rush hour, watching other office workers clutching their over-sized coffees to prepare them for the day ahead. I’d miss yoga classes and art galleries on my doorstep.

    I’m thinking semi-rural or by the sea, but near a city is much more my cup of tea. (Well, really, I just want to move to Brighton.) Mr Meep will be breathing a sigh of relief – he doesn’t ever have to be more than five miles away from a computer games shop.

    An interesting, eco-friendly but potentially a bit ‘ick’ purchase
    I have bought one of these. Eeek!

    Listening, Watching and Reading
    I’ve been watching lots of films. Two good ones...
    Straight Story – quirky and really sweet

    Central Station – lovely, lovely, lovely

    Two bad ones...
    101 Reykjavik – instantly forgettable

    Manhattan – I know he’s supposed to be some kind of comedy genius, but I just don’t get Woody Allen

    And an OKish one…
    Romance and Cigarettes – slightly disappointing, but Kate Winslet was fab (and so beautiful)

    Reading an embarrassing chick lit book that I’ll just avoid talking about. La, la, la...

    Project House Move
    After talking to my friend who has a bit of a property empire going on, have decided to stay put, but try to buy another project house and do it up to make a bit a cash.

    Don’t want to be stuck with humongous mortgage at a time when I’m aiming for more freedom in my life, so hopefully do a couple of projects, make some money, then get on the move.

    Do you like the way I change my mind every five minutes?

    Creative Stuff
    Have bought this amazingly funky knitting book. Got paid today so am going to order some funky wool and create something fabulous.

    Blogs I have been looking at
    Lots of the lovely arty, inspiring ladies that I admire so much – I’ll add some links to the sidebar a bit later.

    Project Shed the 9lbs
    Oh dear – made absolutely no progress on this one, but really had enough of feeling sluggish and unhappy with myself. What has happened to the energetic, dairy-avoiding, fruit-munching Miss Meep of 2005 who was exercising all the time, glowing with health and in love with life? She has gone, and has been replaced with slightly flabby, tired girl with… spots!

    Holiday was not a great time to be starting a healthier regime, but today is. So I have spent the morning munching on satsumas and glugging water and green tea. I feel better already.

    Project Self-Employment
    Oh, and did I mention that I’ve QUIT MY JOB! Hurrah!

    Monday, March 27

    I have quit my job.

    Yes, I've done it. Have decided on June 16th as my leaving date, which gives them lots of time to find a replacement and me plenty of time to come up with a plan of action.

    Gah! I feel sick.

    Friday, March 17

    The Friday List
    We're going on holiday in the morning - just me, my lovely husband and my cute little dog. We're off to stay in a converted cowshed in the middle of wild West Wales.

    So, a themed Friday list to get me in the holiday mood...

    Things I am going to do on my holiday (eek!)

  • Go for lots and lots of long walks, all wrapped up in brightly-coloured woolly layers
  • Glug red wine and real ales in front of the fire
  • Take macro photographs of leaves and sand and buds
  • Read this - I'm inspired by the quote from a reviewer on the cover, which says "Make time for it and it will stay with you forever"
  • Listen to this (yup, still obsessed after playing it non-stop for a year) and lots of other, far cooler CDs chosen by Mr Meep
  • Eat croissants for breakfast
  • Make some hand-painted Mothers' Day cards
  • Do some doodling and drawing and painting - don't get stressed if it's not very good, just enjoy the process
  • Cook lots and lots of lovely comfort food - creamy mushroom risotto, spicy sausages and mustard mash, piles of spaghetti bolognaise with bread oozing with garlic butter
  • Have long lazy lunches in cute country pubs
  • Watch this and this and whatever else I stumble across in the library tomorrow
  • Sleep. A lot.

    See you in a week.
  • I want...
    I’ve been blog-hopping as is my wanton on a dull Friday afternoon. I’ve often lurk on the blogs of these amazingly inspiring creative women, like Bohemian Girl, Keri Smith and Superhero. Their words are delightful, magical, inspirational – they’ve created their own beautiful lives and take pleasure in creative living.

    As my blog ramblings have shown over the past year, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I want from life. My problem is too many interests and not enough focus, flitting from one idea to another every five minutes. I’ll be a teacher. No, I’ll make cakes. No, I won’t, I’ll be a freelance writer or children’s author. I’ll open a coffee shop. I’ll run a B&B. Maybe I’ll retrain and become a holistic therapist, a midwife, a chef.

    It’s enough to drive you a little bit bonkers. I read a magazine article recently that said creative people often suffer from mental illness because they have so many thoughts going through their head. I completely understand where that was coming from.

    But today when ambling through the creative blog, I came across a post by this lovely lady who sounds as if she’s going through the same kind of dilemmas.

    She recommended this book, which I’m going to order right now.

    The author, Babs, talks about people who are ‘Scanners’ – someone who has loads of interests but finds it hard to make a success of their lives because their passions and abilities take them in so many different directions. Babs loves the Scanners though – she thinks that the multiple passions thing is “a unique ability, not a liability”.

    Can’t wait to read it, although I’m slightly concerned that I’m becoming a cliché of the self help book addicted 30something.

    I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and soul-searching lately about what kind of life I want. I've been feeling lost and confused, not sure where I wanted to be or what to do next. When I had life coaching, the life coach said I should write down and draw the picture of my life as I would like it to be. I did this a little while ago, but I’ve been too embarrassed to share it with anyone.

    But in honour of all the brave, creative, inspirational blog ladies out, there, here goes...

    This is me in 2011

    I have at least two children
    I live in a nice house in a lovely area of Wales
    I have lots of little jobs that I enjoy (freelance writer for money; cake-making for creativity, adult literacy to help people)
    I can speak Welsh semi-fluently
    I am very creative – I paint, I take pictures, I grow things, I make things

    Thursday, March 16

    If this could happen to me, my life would be complete

    I’ve got the cute dog and the picnic rug, now I just need the baby and the bee outfits.

    Have a look at more beedogs.

    Wednesday, March 15

    Reflective Wednesday... the week that was, the week that will be

    Metro has been launched in Cardiff. It’s OK – it’ll keep me busy on the train, but it’s not really very ‘Cardiff’, apart from a few gig and club listings at the back.

    Listening, Watching and Reading
    Rediscovered the lovely Graham Coxon’s last album, enjoying the new Belle and Sebastian too.

    Half way through Gem Squash Tokoloshe, which is taking me ages as it’s so beautifully written, I want to savour every word.

    Just re-read Tales of the City for the squillionth time. They are such magical, lovely books and I really want to sell up and move to San Francisco whenever I read them.

    Project Self-Employment
    I’ve made a contact with a business start-up agency about helping their clients to write promotional literature. They’ve already got me onto rewriting web copy for a holistic therapy centre and there may be some more work to follow.

    I’m having a big brainstorming session this afternoon about who I can contact about getting back into doing a bit of freelance journalism again.

    I’ve set up a meeting with a lovely lady at the adult literacy centre about doing some volunteer work in the evenings. They’ll train me up so I get a qualification at the end of it.

    Project House Move
    Well, my initial excitement has subsided. We went to see the houses that we could afford and – ha – it was all a big estate agent’s joke. They were in the nice area, but they were on the very edge of the nice area, right next to a chav-tastic council estate with lots of dodgy looking ‘nagers hanging about.

    However, we had Meep Towers valued and nice estate agent man thinks we can get £140-£145k for it, which means we’ve made a profit of FIFTY THOUSAND POUNDS in under three years. Eeek!

    So, next week we will decide upon a plan of action: whether to move, when to move, where to move, what kind of house, city or country?

    And must stop wasting time looking at endless property websites, especially ones with properties in the lovely Pontcanna that I will never afford.

    Project Shed the 9lbs
    La, la, la, la, la….

    Date Night
    Today is a special date night, as it 10 whole years to the very day that Mr Meep and I got together. Hurrah! We’re not into cheesy romantic gestures though, so we’re going for a big scoff-up at our favourite Italian.

    Creative Stuff
    Er... a bit lacking in this area, so...

    Blogs I have been looking at
    To inspire me to do some crafty, arty type stuff, I have been mostly looking at the lovely Loobylu, Molly Chicken and all the fab goodies at Whip Up.
    Snipetty Snip
    Last night, I went to see the ballet version of Edward Scissorhands. I was a bit unsure about the whole dance thing - I had a really bad experience of modern dance when I went to see a dance student friend's final year production. It was horrendous and involved people in catsuits standing still for about ten minutes, then falling on the floor, writhing around, then getting up and standing still again. And that was about it - for two whole hours. It was like being in hell.

    But Edward Scissorhands was delightful, magical, emotional and amazing. Even though there was no talking, the sets, music, costumes and acting were really effective in portraying the story and its themes – being an outsider, what it means to be ‘normal’, the small mindedness of small towns, love, and, er… scissors.

    There were topiary people dancing, snow falling on the audience, fairy lights, magical music. I laughed, I cried and it made me feel in love with life. Aw.

    Friday, March 10

    Coffee is the drink of El Diablo
    I went out for tea and cake last night (low fat cake, of course). But when I got to Evil Corporate Coffee Shop Posing As Friendly Chillout Zone (that I shall not mention the name of as eco-warriors really shouldn't be going in there, but I'm sure you know the one I mean), I was seduced by the prospect of a Vanilla Latte.

    Now as someone who hates milk more than anything else ever (well, maybe not more than snakes or spitting), this may seem odd. I ordered it with soy milk, naturellement, but it was still essentially a milky drink. What was I thinking? The first few sips were nice, vanillary and comforting, especially with the chocolate dust I'd sprinkled on the top.

    After a few more mouthfuls, I felt a bit bleurghed out, as I do when I drink coffee. I should have stopped there, but the subtle vanilla undertones were calling out to me, "Drink me, drink me - I cost about £3, plus about another 35p extra for the soy milk..."

    So I drank the whole lot. About an hour later, I got home and felt absolutely mingstrel. Sick, thirsty, lethargic and kind of... dirty.

    I think it affected my brain too, because on the way home I went to M&S and bought... a ready meal (insert shocked emoticon). I haven't eaten one of these since the 90s. It was bloody awful.

    So, in conclusion. Milk = bad. Coffee = bad. Cafe lattes and Evil Corporate Coffee Shop Posing As Friendly Chillout Zone = very, very naughty.

    Monday, March 6

    I have piled on the pounds
    I weighed myself this morning. To my horror, I am 11 pounds heavier then I was this time last year. I sensed this when I put on my very small size 12 combat trousers yesterday and they were straining around the bum/tum area. This was confirmed by the scales this morning.

    This is probably because:
  • My house is never without cake.
  • Since I’ve been banished from the posh gym, my exercise has been limited to walking. A lot of walking, yes, but I used to do walking and swimming and aerobics too.
  • Mr Meep has become a master pizza maker, and makes us two humungous pizzas most Sunday nights, which means we eat pizza on Sundays and Mondays.
  • My penchant for Kettle Chips and dips is now bordering on the obsessive.
  • Since I moved desks at work and sit with three boys, I have succumbed to lure of the daily chocolate run (Cadbury’s Creme Eggs are becoming a problem) plus the aformentioned Cake Days and Otley Fridays.

    I like healthy food and I like exercise too. But things have slipped recently – I blame the SAD. Winter is for cosying up with mashed potatoes and dark ales, summer is for leaping around outdoors and eating salads.

    So how am I going to exterminate the expanding bits? I don’t do diets – the thought of depriving myself of things or counting points is just too depressing. Instead, I will up the exercise and live by the mantra: Make Healthy Choices – I have already stuck a little post-it note on my screen to motivate me. It has a drawing of me with a smiley face on it, and says ‘Get the glow’ – I want to be radiant, bouncy, sparkly and glowing with health.

    I’m having some friends around for a chocolate fondue party later. Bugger.
  • Sunday, March 5

    I'm in The Guardian again!
    Second time in two weeks. This time, a little review of a favourite pub. Hmm, wonder if they will give me a free meal as payment for the plug.

    Saturday, March 4

    Make it stop
    I have a hangover. It's horrid.

    Now I remember why I don't really drink much anymore.

  • I feel sluggish.
    Didn't get out of bed until 12.00. I've usually walked the dog, made Mr Meep breakfast in bed and cleaned the house by this time. I'm doing everything very slowly.

  • My head feels fuzzy.
    Can't concentrate on anything. Not even re-reading my favourite ever book.

  • I am an emotional fish.
    I keep thinking about all the sadness in the world like the babies in Africa with big bellies and it's making me cry. I feel guilty about being a horrible when I was a teenager. I think my pets are unhappy because I don't stroke them enough.

  • I have a permanent thirst.
    But I'm so lethargic, I can't even motivate myself to get off the sofa and make the long trek to the kitchen to fill my glass with water.

    I had grand plans for today: DIY, a nice long walk, mooching about to look for houses for sale, going for a pint and to the cinema. But now all I want to do is curl up in a ball on the sofa, cover myself in blankets and eat Jaffa Cakes.

    I've lost sparkliness. The meepiness has gone. There is no sign of any mumpets.


    While I was writing this post, Mr Meep was fixing me a special hangover lunch. He came into the dining room with the following 'cheer-up' meal...

    Tofu sausage, beans and cheddar mash - in the shape of a smiley face! Which made me have a very smiley face too.

  • Friday, March 3

    Do you love me?
    I keep having really weird dreams that all these random blokes are in love with me. Last night it was a bloke who was just like eco-warrior Spider from Coronation Street. In the past it’s been friends, strangers, Chris Martin from Coldplay...

    What does it all mean? Is it my lonely only childhood coming back to haunt me through my need to be loved? Am I extremely needy? Or am I just some kind of ego-maniac?

    Answers on a postcard.

    PS If you are a man – or indeed a woman – and you are, in fact, in love with me, please feel free to share your emotions/pencil in a time for a cwtch. No funny business though - I'm a happily married lady.

    Thursday, March 2

    Things you could to do make your working day more Meepy

    Hate your job? Treat yourself nicely – it makes your day more sparkly.

  • Have a tea ceremony
    Do you drink tea from a grimy, chipped old mug that isn’t good enough to use at home any more? Do you dunk the tea bag into hot water in your mug a few times and make do with that? Why not imagine you’re taking tea at The Ritz? Bring in a little teapot, cup and saucer and make yourself tea for one. Enjoy waiting for the tea to brew, then watching it pour from the spout to the cup. Take five minutes to sit back and enjoy your cuppa. If you’re feeling particularly grand, stick your little pinkie out like the Queen.

  • Dress up every day
    Do you save your sparkliest, shiniest clothes and your funkiest handbags for weekends or nights out? If you work full-time, you probably spend around 45 hours a week in your work clothes. Why wear dowdy trousers and frumpy jumpers? Put your posh pants on – you’ll feel great before you’ve even got dressed. Cover yourself in sparkly body lotion or your favourite pricey perfume. Wear some colour – unless you’re a lawyer or banker, do you really need to wear a black suit? Remember dressing up when you were a kid? You’re an adult now, so you could do that every single day if you wanted to – take advantage, add some glamour to your day. (Gents, this should apply to you too, but turning up to the office in a Batman costume probably isn’t all that appropriate.)

  • Have a gourmet lunch
    Some days the only thing I look forward to out of the whole working day is my lunch. When I see people sipping Cup-a-Soup or munching soggy pre-packed sandwiches with limp lettuce and anaemic tomatoes, it makes me want to cry. Make the most of your break time and dine as if you’re having your favourite lazy weekend brunch. Bring your favourite foods to work. In winter, make yourself a little desk picnic; in summer, have a picnic under a tree. Eat a fairy cake off a pretty plate.

  • Have themed days
    Around our ‘pod’ we have ‘Cake Mondays’ where someone brings in cakes to cheer everyone up each week. Then there’s ‘Otley Fridays’ where we all go down the local pub, put Ugly Kid Joe on the juke box and eat something horrendously unhealthy (my fav: Linda McCartney sausage, chips, peas for £2.50 – and it comes with a free bread roll). Or you could…

  • Start a Friday Fuzzy group
    Get together with a group of colleagues and take it turns to say something nice about the group every Friday (or Monday, or any other days, but ‘Friday’ and ‘Fuzzy’ sound better together). I save mine and when I feel a bit down, and read them to cheer myself up.

    Here’s an example of the last one I sent (names have been changed to protect the Fuzzy Club members):
    Archibald, you are a talented musician and despite your tough bad-boy exterior, you are a sweetie at heart
    Cuthbert, you are very motivated and you know what you want out of life, which is admirable in one so youthful
    Derek, you are very funny and you like skeletons

    Of course, the best thing to do would be to quit the boring job and follow your dreams instead of harping on about it all the time. Ho hum…
  • Wednesday, March 1

    Science. And why you shouldn't try to get me into a conversation about it.

    This is a conversation I had over MSN earlier.

    Friend: "Look at this."
    Miss Meep: "That is really nerdy. I don't understand it. It's all about numbers and space and makes my head go funny."
    "They're gonna whack a ball off a space station and its gonna go round earth for years and years. the longest golf drive ever ever."

    Pause while my head tries to adjust to all that science-type stuff...

    "What if it falls out of the sky and hits someone on the bonce?"
    "It'll burn up first. They're more worried about it hitting the space station."
    "Why? Are they not a good shot?"
    "It would be a 1/10000 chance of hitting but it could blow them up."
    "Sorry, that's 1/1000000000000000000000000000000000."
    "Eurgh, stop. I feel sick."

    A bit later...

    "If I was in a black hole, I could touch my toes. Just think about that."
    "No, I don't want to."
    "Stephen Hawking said you get stretched infinity in a black hole, but now he says you don't. Well, you do, but to everyone else it looks like you don't."
    "Aaaaaarrrrgggghhhhh, stop it. My head is going to explode. Maybe it'll go into a black hole."

    So, to sum up.

    I learnt: nothing.

    I felt: sick.
    Reflective Wednesday – the week that was, the week that will be...
    It’s St David’s Day today – Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus! I am wearing a daffodil, had some leek and Caerphilly cheese crumble for my lunch and one of my nan’s lovely Welsh cakes with my cup of tea.

    The Queen is in town to open the new Assembly building. Lots of people are very cross about the Queen and Cardiff and the Welsh Assembly and want to throw leeks at her.

    I wish I was out walking, playing, taking pictures in the snow.

  • Listening, watching and reading
    Just finished the Morality for Beautiful Girls – the third No1 Ladies Detective Agency book. I love the main character, Precious Ramotswe, a philosopher for modern women everywhere. Forget Bridget Jones – Mma Ramotswe thinks men are silly and need looking after, can’t understand why Western people rush about so much, and best of all, she loves a nice slice of cake. I want to live in a country where when someone says “You look very well, very fat” and it’s a complement.

    Saw Walk the Line last week. Here’s my review:
    Joaquin Phoenix – phwoar!

    Also watched Proof. Here’s my review:
    I like Gwynnie. Jake was a dreamy, doe-eyed, sensitive type (just like Mr M when I met him) and I love Anthony Hopkins when he has his proper Welsh lilt.

    (I don’t think Jonathan Ross has got much to worry about, do you?)

    Have been quite music-less of late, but about to order the new Belle and Sebastian album as well as a book from my wish list.

  • Progress on Project Self-Employment
    I got published in The Guardian – and got paid for it!

    I’ve got together with a group a creative and marketing types to put a bid in for a three-year contract to produce an anti-smoking magazine.

    I’ve got two wedding cake commissions.

  • Date night
    Mr Meep and I have resurrected date tonight. This evening we’re going to see Cock and Bull Story, followed by a takeaway from fab veggie Indian place.

  • Creative stuff
    Made a lovely 1st Birthday Card for Amy, which I will scan in.

    Took lots of photos in the forest on the weekend walk.

    Er... that’s it.

  • Inspirational Blogs
    I am still thinking about James’ posts about his brain tumour, which had me sitting here with tears streaming down my face. James is the boyfriend of my friend and colleague Phil, and they are both brave and strong and amazing. And James gives a lovely cwtch.

    Found this lovely lady, who makes me want to sell up and move to Australia right now, to garden and paint and roam on beaches with my dog and Mr Meep.

    And that was my week.