The Season of Good Will…


How did it get to be December already? Where has the time gone? We are now officially in the countdown to Christmas (or whatever winter festival you celebrate). It’s the time of year people try to be a little kinder and more charitable, and perhaps they start thinking of ways they can help others.

I watched a video yesterday that got me thinking. It wasn’t about the festive season, it was about menstruating. I know – that can be a bit of an icky subject, despite it being something that 50% of the world’s population do at some point in their lives – for a very large part of their lives, to be honest.

This is the video – please do watch it, because it’s quite interesting.

It really got me thinking, because although I donate to a local food bank on a semi-regular basis, and although it’s not always food products I donate, there is something I never thought about donating at all, and it’s something I have used every month of my life since before being a teenager. Why did it never occur to me? Well, probably for the same reason it doesn’t occur to other people too – it’s something we’re so used to, that we don’t consider it – it gets pushed to the background.

So, although we’re now half way through December, here’s a thought. How w0ould it be, if everyone who has the means to do so, made up a package to give to their local food bank this Xmas? You can backdate it and made a sort of reverse advent calendar, putting in 24 items to donate, or you can do it from today, whatever is easiest and within your means – just pop stuff in a bag or a box to hand over.

Here are some things you might like to include:

  • Food:
    Dried goods such as pasta, rice, and lentils are good, as they keep for ages without going off. Also tinned and jarred food of any kind – beans, vegetables, fruit, canned fish and meat, are all staples to consider, along with jams, chutneys and pickles. And don’t forget condiments – salt, pepper, sauces, herbs and spices, and stock cubes – they can zing up a meal and make it much taster and less boring.
  • Feminine hygiene products:
    Next time you’re picking up your tampons or pads for your own use, pop an extra pack in your trolley to donate.
  • Other hygiene products:
    Soap, shower gel, deoderant, toothbrushes and toothpaste – take advantage of three for two offers and pop the third “free” item in your giving box. Or if you get loads of smellies at Xmas, consider donating some of those. You might also consider popping a packet of condoms in there too
  • Cleaning products:
    Cleaning wipes, antibacterial spray, toilet cleaner and bleach, rim blocks and cistern blocks, washing up liquid, washing powder, and fabric conditioner. All essentials that might go by the wayside when people can barely afford to put food on the table.
  • Baby products:
    Nappies, wipes, nappy sacks – again, take advantage of multi-buy offers and pop the extra items in the box.

None of these need to be expensive brand name items – you can donate supermarket own brands, or even the bargain range items if that’s what your budget will stretch to. Even if you can’t donate an item for every day of the month, perhaps it could be a new year’s resolution to save one item every week of the year – imagine what you could accumulate in 52 weeks, at just the cost of a few pennies extra on your weekly shopping bill? Even if you donated like this quarterly with a dozen or so items each time, that can make a huge difference to someone who needs it.

Maybe this way we can ALL have a brighter festive season. And you never know, you might get bumped higher up on Santa’s “Nice” list!

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Spread the word!!!


I just ordered a bunch of flyers to publicize my Brave the Shave efforts for Macmillan Cancer Support. I thought it might help if I highlighted the fact that I’m not just cutting off my hair – I’m SHAVING it all off – all gone!

This is what they’ll look like:

Kell's Brave the Shave flyer

I should have the flyers in early July!

I’m hoping that they’ll help bring in a little more notice and sponsorship. In the meantime, if you’d like to sponsor me, you can do so online at my Brave the Shave page HERE. Every little helps, and you will have my eternal gratitude.

And if you spread the word too, I’ll be your Best Friend Forever!

Catching up with everything…


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Snickerdoodles for the coffee morning

Crikey, it’s been a good fortnight since I last posted anything – I’ve just been so busy!

I’ve bagged myself a bunch of new pen pals. so there has been letter writing and crafting going on there. I’ve also been in rehearsals for Sister Act, which is challenging, but highly enjoyable. It turns out Nun #11 (or Sister Sara of the Two Mules, as I have dubbed her) has a few tricky things to do, such as performing Latin tongue twisters, repeatedly, at speed, to a tune; or where other nuns have one note to sing, Sister Sara has eight of them, and has to sustain them. I am enjoying it immensely!

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Little white chocolate mice with strawberry lace tails for the coffee morning

Then there was a fundraising coffee morning for the Beaconsfield Operatic Society, so I baked snickerdoodles, chocolate chip cookies, and cheese scones, as well as making white chocolate mice with strawberry lace tails. Of course, I had to taste-test the goodies too, so several went into my own gob (naughty, I know, but so worth it!). We also had Grom round for Sunday dinner – she comes round every few weeks for that, and we always look forward to it. It means a flurry of activity in the kitchen, though, as when she comes, we eat our main meal at midday, instead of in the evening.

On top of all that, Choochie isn’t very well at the moment, so he requires extra hugs and kisses and general Mummy time.

And throughout all this, I have completed and added another row on my Sky Blanket. That’s thirteen rows now finished – one more and we’ll be at the half way mark!

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Thirteen rows of Sky Blanket completed!

20.06.16 - Brunette KellAnd then I dyed my hair brown in preparation for shaving it all off in August for Macmillan Cancer Support and sending to Little Princess Trust to be made into wigs for kids who have lost their hair to cancer treatment. My cousin’s fiance will be doing the honours, and to be honest, I can hardly wait to have it all taken off! For the record, I will be having my head SHAVED, not just having my hair cut short!

Incidentally, if you’d like to sponsor me in my Brave the Shave efforts, you can do so at my Brave the Shave page HERE. Every little helps! Thanks in advance. 🙂

Busy, busy, busy!


I’ve been pretty much AWOL for a little while, simply because I’ve been so busy!

06.03.16 bTadpole has been preparing for his key stage 1 SATs (he started them this week), which I hate, because he’s been stressing out and personally, I think six and seven year olds are far too young to be sitting formalised exams, but that’s beside the point – he has to do them, so doing them he is! His first two papers were yesterday, and thankfully, he seemed to find them not too taxing (in fact, he said they were “A piece of cake!”).

17.03.16I’ve also just applied for Choochie to start nursery in January. He can’t start till then, because they can only start the term after their third birthday, so he’ll have to wait till after the Xmas holidays. Still, I wanted to get the application in early to make sure he gets a place – I can’t be traipsing between two different schools! Choochie also finally weaned (31 months of breastfeeding!), and has started potty training. He likes to sit on the toilet, but so far has only managed to squeeze out a tiny tinkle each time – he’ll get there eventually though!

Last month, I worked backstage on a pantomime – I did make-up for the Dame, which was great fun, and reminded me how much I missed the theatre, so I then went and auditioned for a show for the first time in 15 years! As a result, I have a very small role in a production of Sister Act, which will be performed in October. Officially, I am “Nun #11”, so as I don’t have a given name, I’ve chosen one for myself, and I shall be known henceforth as Sister Sara of the Two Mules (simply because I love Two Mules For Sister Sara). I’ve also decided to audition for a part in Annie later this year, so watch this space!

I was also part of the centenary celebrations at Blyth Battery this past weekend! Blyth Battery Goes To War is an annual event local to me, and it’s always a fantastic weekend, but this year marked 100 years since they started building it (it took two hears to complete), so it was extra special. And we got some wonderful weather for it too – the place was absolutely heaving all weekend, and the audiences were very appreciative. I got such lovely comments from people who watched my performances, my confidence was boosted a hell of a lot (I have an ego the size of Texas now!), and I was pleased to see  from photographs that I look half the size I did last year when I performed! And the most adorable little girl (who I think may well be my number one fan!) came up and danced with me during my instrumental sections – she was a superstar!

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Finally, I’ve done a fair bit of work on my Sky Blanket since I last did an update on it. I now have eleven rows joined, and I think it’s looking pretty neat! As Tadpole has been asking for a new “lovey blanket” since Choochie got his full-sized one at Xmas, I thought I’d give this one to him for Xmas this year. He’s been admiring it as it grows, so I think he’ll be very happy with it, and as I won’t actually have a section for every single day (or I’d have the wrong number of yo-yos for my rows), I will hopefully be able to finish it just in time, although it could mean a hell of a lot of border crocheting on Xmas Eve!

13235220_10156817102490386_7625483622086569872_oOn top of all that, I’ve picked up my cross stitching in earnest again for the first time in a good few years – I stitched a little sampler for my best friend’s wedding last November, and now I find the bug has crept up and bitten me again, so I’ve taken up a few of my UFOs to see if I can finish a few of them. I’ve stitched a few bookmarks to send off to my pen pals, but I’m also working on my Rules For Life sampler, which I started before Choochie was born – hopefully it’ll be framed and up on the wall before the end of the year!

Speaking of pen pals, I’ve picked up a few new ones, and I have been involved in making pocket letters and flip books for them – I’ve been going paper-crafting crazy, and writing letters like a mad woman. Actually, I have one to write today, so I’d better get a move on!

And so, I hope normal service will now be resumed, although I seem to have even more things demanding my time and attention than ever, what with getting involved in a show again!

 

 

No Meat March


1279376409_origNumber 11 on my list of 52 Things in 52 Weeks is to go vegetarian for a week. However, I recently heard about No Meat March, and thought, what if I went vegetarian for a whole month instead?

It’s no secret that I love meat – I really do. I eat it pretty much every day at some point – but there are also quite a few vegetarian dishes I enjoy too. I have no idea if I’ll make it for the whole month, or if I’ll unthinkingly snaffle a piece of chicken or ham or whatever, but I think I’ll look at this as an opportunity to try some new recipes.

The fact is, I’ve been thinking about becoming vegetarian for some time, and this might be a way into it, but even if I don’t ultimately go full vegetarian, I can at least cut down on my meat consumption considerably. There are many reasons I’ve been considering making this change, but the main three are the detrimental impact on the planet made by farming animals for consumption, the treatment of animals reared for slaughter, and the long-term health effects of eating lots of meat products. I’m not a heartless person – I’m an animal lover and I’m an eco-conscious person, who worries about the long-term consequences of my personal life choices.

Please note, I would never berate or belittle anyone who is not vegetarian – it really is all down to personal choice and I fully respect that – it’s something every person has to decide for themselves. And in that vein, I will be the only person in our household going vegetarian – Hubby, Tadpole, and Choochie will all continue to eat as they usually do. After all, just because I prepare their food, it doesn’t give me the right to say what they can and cannot eat (within reason – obviously I would never let my kids eat bleach from under the sink etc – I’m not stupid!). If any of them should decide on their own to become vegetarian, then I will support them in that choice, although in the case of Hubby, I’ll eat my hat the day that happens, because he doesn’t like vegetables!

Either way, I’ve signed up for the challenge, and I shall give it my best shot.

If you’d like to join me, you can join the challenge by signing up via the link below:

No Meat March 2016

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Blood and laughter


NHS-Blood-LogoEvery year, I put “Donate a pint of blood” on my list of 52 things in 52 weeks challenges, and every year, I don’t complete that challenge for one reason or another – either I’m pregnant, or breastfeeding, or I get a tattoo – but the main reason is this:

I’m terrified of needles.

It’s the truth – I’m incredibly squeamish about needles, and I can’t even watch an injection in a film, even though I know that it’s not even real on the screen – I have to turn away with my eyes screwed up tight-closed.

On Friday, I went to the library, and I saw a poster advertising a local blood drive today.

Last night, I went online and registered to donate blood, and then booked an appointment. I also told my Mam about it and begged her to come with me for moral support and hand-holding duties.

You see, both my parents got their gold awards giving blood, and my sister donates whenever she can (in between getting inked – you have to wait 4 months after getting a new tattoo), and I’ve always strongly believed it’s an important thing to do. I’ve been on the organ donor register since I was a teenager, and I’ve almost donated blood twice before, but bottled it at the last moment. That’s why I went public about my intentions this time – it makes it that much harder to back out! Plus, Mam promised to sit on me if I tried to escape.

I was more than a little nervous when I got there, but everyone was so nice to me, and they even managed to make me laugh and put me at my ease. Yes, the needle stung a little going in, but it wasn’t so bad, and just 4 minutes and 17 seconds later, I had donated my pint!

I’ll definitely do it again – in fact, I tried to book myself in for the next session right away, but I couldn’t because I wasn’t yet on the system. No bother – I’ll book online when it comes up – I already have the date in my diary!

And after all that blood, here’s a laugh for you all.

At lunchtime, we were telling jokes as we ate, and the kids had us both in fits of laughter. Bear in mind that Tadpole is seven years old, and Choochie is only 2 years old (this was his first ever attempt at joke telling!).

Tadpole: Knock, knock.
Us: Who’s there?
Tadpole: Banana.
Us: Banana who?
Tadpole: Banana.
Us: Banana who?
Tadpole: Banana.
Us: Banana who?
Tadpole: Orange you glad… Oh no! I gave away the ending!!!

Choochie: Knock, knock.
Us: Who’s there?
Choochie: Banana.
Us: Banana who?
Josh: Orange! Hahahahahaha!

If you’re in the UK and you’d like to donate blood and save a life, you can register at the website, and find out where and when your nearest donation venue is taking appointments HERE.

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On aging – gracefully or disgracefully


1934703_1010314445694382_2459243646697941030_nAnd this is why Carrie Fisher is still one of my heroes!

Nobody stays the same forever – we age, the bloom of youth deserts us, and unless we’re blessed with fantastic genes, a total dislike of any food other than salad, and a bank account that stretches to rejuvenating surgeries, we spread and sag a bit in places.

Nobody has a go at Harrison Ford for getting older and a bit more portly than he was when Han Solo shot first – he’s been allowed to get old and craggy – so why can’t Carrie and every other woman?

We are not meant to look 25 forever – our lives should be written across our faces and bodies for the world to wonder and marvel at, and think “Hey, that person must have some great stories to tell!”

I applaud our Princess Leia for standing up and saying it! And if I look as good as her when I’m her age, I’ll be a happy woman!

And on a side note, I’m totally with her on the chocolate salad thing.

Pick your own fruit…


15.08.15 - Fruit Picking 2Today I went to a pick your own fruit farm with Tadpole, my big sister, and one of my nieces

Despite feeling a little under the weather, it was lovely to get out in the sunshine and pick our own fruit. We filled our baskets with the sweetest most delicious strawberries and raspberries (and more than a few were eaten while picking, as those jewel-like beauties were just too hard to resist!), and got in a little exercise at the same time – all good!

Our resultant haul was a lot cheaper and far tastier than we would have got from any shop, and we had fun doing it too.

Definitely a worthwhile endeavour.

15.08.15 - Fruit Picking 3It’s worth mentioning, when we got there, the sign said the strawberries and raspberries were “extremely limited”. I have to say their idea of limited wildly differs from mine, as there were loads to be had and we didn’t even have to look very hard – they were right there and easy to find.

If you have a pick your own fruit farm nearby, I highly recommend going along and doing a little Body Magic while you bag yourself some delicious speed food!

When work outs don’t work out


cddotiSo, I thought I’d put Choochie down for his nap, then do the Camilla Dallerup Dance Off the Inches DVD (which is an hour long). Except Choochie refused point blank to go down for his nap. Not one to be put off, I decided to put on the DVD and dance around my 22 month old toddler.

But he’s hit a clingy phase, and screamed the whole time unless I was holding him.

The upshot is, I’ve only done half the DVD, but I’ve done it while carrying the extra weight of a small child in my arms. I am now sweating like a beast and running a bath. Of course, now I’ve switched off the DVD, he’s quiet, but you can bet that if I put the DVD back on, he’d be screaming to be held – cheeky little beggar!

Ah well, at least I got in a semi-decent work out and worked up a good, hard sweat!

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Butter wouldn’t melt!

Sports Day


Today is sports day at Tadpole’s school, and this year we were actually allowed to come along and cheer our kids on (unlike last year, when they dubbed it “school games day” and wouldn’t let us in to watch – there must have been loads of complaints to make them change their minds this year!). We weren’t allowed to take photographs or shoot video (school policy), but we were there to watch our kids having a fun time.

Yesterday, the kids all came home from school with a letter which included this information:

Yesterday's letterAs we left, a couple of Mums were grumbling, saying that it was ridiculous that we were given this information the night before, and what if the kids didn’t already have a T-shirt in their house colours? Were the parents expected to go out tonight to buy one? We should have had at least a week of notice!

I pointed out that the information was in the newsletter we were given nearly three weeks ago. Here’s what it said:

Last month's newsletter

This is the response I got:

“Oh, I never read those things! Nobody ever reads those things!”

Well, call me “Nobody”, but I always read those newsletters. They are only two sheets of A4, printed on both sides – it takes all of maybe five minutes to read, and it contains pertinent information such as school holidays, teacher training and in-service days, forthcoming trips and events, and things like sending your kids to school wearing their house colours on sports day.

If you’re not going to read the information your kids’ school sends you, don’t complain when they remind you of the information you already have the night before a big event in your child’s life!

Right, now I’m off to take Tadpole to school and cheer him on in his races!

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All ready to compete – wearing a T-shirt in his house colour, which is blue!

Edited to add: Tadpole came away with a second place in the running race (against the fastest kid in his key stage – and it was a close race!), and third place in the sack race (he fell over – LOL!). Everyone had a whale of a time – the kids were all beaming! Well done to all the kids. 🙂