Monday, 27 August 2012

Unfinished Business

angry boss cartoon

After doing a little work this morning, following lunch, I decided to take a seat in my bay window and grab a little stitching time. Picking up the Cath Kidston Garden Flowers Purse kit that came with the 'Stitch' book, I settled down with a mug of tea by my side and half an eye on the outside world (one of reasons I love my window seat). Before long though there was reoccurring thought that was really starting to spoil the setting. "Why did you start yet another project yesterday when you have plenty of others on the go already?" Hmmmm.

I tried to ignore it by stitching more intensely but it was still there and before long I was mentally cataloguing all of my unfinished projects. The more I remembered, the more unsettled I became and in the end that idyllic little relaxing scene was ruined, to be replaced by me, sat with pen and paper, documenting a list of said projects. By the time I got to number 16 (yes 16!!) I gave up with the list and started ranting to anyone that would listen, even myself at one point, about how ridiculously unfocused and uncommitted  I am! Unfortunately, if you follow this blog, you will get to see all the good things I do, and all my nice traits but you will need to accept the darker sides too! 

I decided there was only one thing for it. I decided that this Blog would be the starting point of my 'treatment'. Isn't the first step in recovery about acceptance of the issue and honesty? So, much to the intrigue of child #2 and #3, who were watching TV in peace at the time, I got the camera out and starting dragging boxes off of shelves, bags out of cupboards, and cross stitch out of baskets, sighing lots as I photographed each one whilst shaking my head. Eventually child #3 enquired as to what exactly I was doing. "Resolving an ongoing problem!!" I responded. Yikes! was the look he replied with. More calmly I explained that I was taking pictures of the things I had started but not finished so that I could add these to my blog. Child #2 was smirking at this point. She then proceeded to also start reminding me of things I hadn't finished including her blanket. This wasn't helping obviously! 

So anyway, I have calmed down a bit and decided upon how this will work best (whilst taking my anger out on a poor onion or two for the chilli con carne). I am going to show you each of my unfinished projects (with the exception of 1 that is just too well hibernated to photograph!) Oh the shame!! I am also going to promise to you, and myself, that I will not start another project without finishing 2 of the work in progress ones until I only have 3 or 4 on the go (I feel that is an acceptable number - I like a little variety but 16+ is pushing it somewhat!). For the record this little rant is limited only to the crafty type of stuff, this problem extends to DIY, my MA, and even my job and I figure that if I can crack the craft side of things maybe it will rub off on the others too! 

So here name is Felicity Williams and I am an 'incompleter!' (I don't think that's a real word but it will do!) These are my no particular order and in some cases I started them that long ago that it really is a rough estimate! I'm apologising in advance.

No. 1 - Cath Kidston Garden Flower Purse - Started Yesterday - and somewhat the straw that broke the camel's back.

Not a huge project and I could probably finish it in about 4 hours, I am going to forgive myself for this one though, I just couldn't resist it as everything in those books is beautiful!

No. 2 - Cut Thru Noahs Ark - Started approx. 2008 (at the latest!)

Still a fair few hours to go but definitely over half way. No real excuse for the time lapse  -  I think it just gets forgotten sometimes.

No. 3 - Christmas Cross Stitch Picture - Started November 2011

In all fairness this one I started a bit late for Christmas 2011 and I did try my best to finish it in time but it just didn't happen. Then on Christmas Day I received an Emily Peacock kit and that was the last I saw of this one. Its likely to be picked up again in November and this time completed!

No. 4 - Child #2's 'Afternoon Tea' Knitted Blanket - Started June 2011

Well there are 81 squares of which I have knitted 37 so far so still a way to go but it plods along nicely when I'm in the mood.

No. 5 - Crochet Ripple Blanket - Started July 2012

My first big Crochet project. Bit ropey at first but now its going well. I love crocheting and did wonder if it would overtake my knitting obsession but I miss knitting a bit now so I think they will only ever be equal at best. Its almost halfway there excluding the borders.

No. 6 - Cut Thru - Cottage - Started Summer 2011

Why I began this one before completing the Ark is a mystery - long long way off yet! I think I stopped because technically the chair is in the wrong place but only by one row - its hardly an excuse and very easily adapted!

No. 7 - Big Baggy Jumper - Started December 2010

No picture for this one because its stashed away in a bag, in a cupboard, beneath my boiler, and buried under tins (containing what, I have yet to remember). I started this one during the month that I was buying my house. I was exceptionally stressed and it wasn't the best time, in hindsight, to start something new because, of course, the second we exchanged contracts life was somewhat turned on it's head and I didn't pick up a knitting needle for nearly 5 months!

No. 8 - Green Top - Started June 2012

All I need to do is hem the arm holes - I could even use 'wonderweb' if it came to it and then it would be complete!

No. 9 - Emily Peacock - The Meeting Place Cushion - Started Christmas day 2011

I completely adore this yet despite finishing the tapestry in April it remains on my shelves until I turn it into a cushion!

No. 10 - Astrology Cross Stitch Kit - Started Approximately 2003 (!!!)

I think I might take this one with me to the grave at this rate! Not sure why I ever liked it but I can't leave it unfinished forever now.

No. 11 - Patchwork Quilt - Started 2009 ish

The most time consuming part is done, it just needs some borders and  wadding.  It could be beautiful.  To top it all I even have free access to the most expensive, professional quilting machine money (serious money) could buy thanks to the Art department at work. So why is it sat in plastic box in my bedroom?

No. 12 - Painted pebbles - Started July 2012

These will be fabulous when finished and I will prove it. Just need to actually finish them (with the kids too  - this one is a bit of a family thing).

No. 13 - Emily Peacock - In Bloom cushion - started 7th June 2012

My birthday present - and I did start it on my birthday - just not touched it since!  Why?  No idea! I love it.
No. 14 - Crochet Bolster Cushion Cover - August/July 2012

Another recent beginning that's now just hanging around!

No. 15 - Lucy's Flower Decoration - started last wednesday

I last worked on this the day before yesterday. Let's see how long it remains in this state then!

No. 16 - Leaves Tapestry - May 2012

Not only did I start this one, but I even designed it myself! I love it but I just need to make time to actually do it!

No. 17 - Noro wool jumper - Cast on around May 2011

The problem here is that I bought the wool without a pattern and kind of winged it. I love the wool but not the design so really it needs frogging rather than completing but at present it just hangs around in this state!

No. 18 - Disney Kits - Stated: Sometime when Child #1 and Child #2 were of a Disney age!

I don't even like them really, I did have plans for pictures in the girl's rooms when I bought them but at 14 and 12  I doubt they will appreciate them as much now!

No. 19 - More Disney kits (same as above)

Same as above!

No. 20 - Robots - Started August 2011

These were designs from a cross stitch magazine. There are six and they are fab!  They take a weekend to do so no excuses really.

No. 21 - Random Kit - Started probably around November 2011

A free magazine kit - why did I start this??

So that's it (probably - although if I find any more I will confess!). 21 projects on the go...21!!! Its ridiculous. It's not that I get bored with them, it's more that I want to make everything I see and can't wait to start it. But 21! There really are no excuses for that. Of course that doesn't include everything that is queued but not started like these...

Or all the things people have requested, like the bag for my best friend, and the scarves for her children. Or all the wool that I have stashed all over the house for projects to come. It doesn't touch the sides of the Ravelry queue that grows every time I have half an hour to kill and a laptop within reach! more! If I even mention that I have started something new without justifying and evidencing 2 completed projects please point this out to me!

Thank you. I'm off to console myself with a glass of wine!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Chester Shopping

2 posts in 2 days...I think I shall soon class myself as a real 'Blogger'!

Yesterday, as planned, we went to Chester on a school shopping mission. It was very successful and the nest are all content again - they do start to panic about these things, bless them. Luckily child #1 and child #2 go off on their own to locate items and I just pay for them so it doesn't drag on all day (I'm not a huge shopping fan and after a couple of hours I want to go home!). 

I've not been to Chester for a general wander around for a couple of months so imagine my delight when I stopped to decide which way to go next and realised I was right in front of a Cath Kidston shop!! Oh my! When did this arrive?! (June apprarently.) I think at this point all 5 kids (I gained a couple of extras yesterday) rolled their eyes, and my own children apologised to their friends. So I dragged them all in and they watched me act like a child in a sweet shop. Despite first impressions they did all find things they liked too, even the youngest spotted some rather fancy PJs, amongst other things.

I could of bought so much but after much deliberation I settled for 2 books:

So you should now expect some rather pretty creations. I'm so excited - I want to make nearly everything in them! 

Child #3 and I went off to look at toys (Hawkins Bazaar can keep us entertained for hours). We then went to another favourite shop of mine - Pylones, formerly called the Octopus Shop and still is by us ( where I resisted temptation to buy anything, and then we went to buy a new lunch box for school. Child #3 is a Moshi Monster fan and so the choice was obvious...

We had a while to go before we were due to meet the rest of the family so we went of for a walk and took some pictures. The little blue thing he has in his hand is his camera, the best Vtech toy I ever bought, he takes some great pictures and makes some rather interesting videos using it, that allow you to understand how the world looks to a seven year old. I will show you those another day.

These are not the best bits of Chester, just places we passed, no doubt we will do the Chester Walls walk sometime and I will photograph that for you. 

After a busy day I had a lovely evening with my children (well 2 of them) watching TV, drinking a glass of wine and reading those beautiful Cath Kidston books.  Oh the possibilities that lie ahead!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

...and breathe.

This post will mainly be about work because in the past week I haven't really done much else, but I did warn you about this. I haven't seen much of my children either as they have been away at their father's but they are now back for the weekend...happy times!

The beginning of the week wasn't so bad and I even managed to sneak off early on Wednesday for a bit of crochet time and made a start on Lucy's Flower Decoration (Attic24 - Lucy's Flower Decorationjust to use up a bit of 'The Stash' (that deserves it's own blog post one day really), and I also managed a few rows of the ripple blanket which is nearly half done now and looking very colourful. So far I have only managed the flower head but hopefully I may reach the stem this weekend, in between processing those pesky student enrolments as they trickle in! 

So all was good until Thursday arrived aka "GCSE Result Day 2012". Due to my 'great plan' to introduce an electronic confirmation of enrolment system this year I predicted that the day would be described only as chaos. I was correct. The day started ok but by 11am I wanted to run and hide. I persevered with confused and disgruntled students, staff and parents, whilst holding the phone to my ear and talking to my software developers, who at times, sounded equally as confused and disgruntled. The day did begin to improve, and although it didn't seem so at the time, it did work out ok, and my 'great plan' might actually turn out to be one.

In amongst the chaos of Thursday, at around noon, I remembered that I was a parent, and that it was a special day for Child #1 too. She was in year 9 last year and the 'gifted and talented' kids get to do some GCSEs early. Child #1 is very good at English and therefore sat her Media GCSE last year. I tentatively reached for my phone (not that I was expecting a bad result as she had put the effort in, and I knew her coursework grade) but never know with these exam boards sometimes...and I should know! So imagine the delight when I read the text "Mum I got an A!!!!!xoxoxoox"! I love her so much! School hasn't been the smoothest run so far for her but she can clearly put all that aside and get it right when it matters. It also seems to have motivated her for next year too now which is great. Let's hit the road running!

So on the day continued and ended inevitably with a big glass of wine...and then another etc etc. I have to admit that the healthy eating really has gone to pot this week. Each day has started well...blueberries for breakfast, healthy lunch etc and then...rapidly fell into take-away food, chocolate, wine and anything else comforting but bad. I will address this issue next week!

So today is all about school shopping for the nest. They each have a list and I have a debit card and transport. If I get a chance I will take some pictures of Chester for you (I do love Chester, and don't visit nearly as often as I would like despite it being only 10 miles away). I may also need to locate the wool suppliers or maybe Waterstones for a crochet or knitting fix to de-stress!

Bye for now.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

It's oh so quiet...

Its very very quiet here. That because the nest are away at their dad's. Normally its just for the weekend but once a year they stay with him for two weeks (although I get to see them during that time as we sort of switch roles). I miss them, obviously, but I deliberately try to persuade my ex partner that he should have them at the end of August when I am at my busiest at work, and thankfully he usually goes along with this. So its now Saturday evening, when surely I should be out partying and celebrating my freedom, but instead I am about to face the reality of my 214 outstanding emails, and equally out of control to-do-list. Sigh.

There are a few positives to an empty house and I do try to focus on these when the kids are away. Firstly, I get to eat things like this for tea...

None of my children are big fish lovers, they eat veg but only because I insist on it, and sometimes I just eat things they like because they put up with me being a pescetarian (vegetarian that eats fish, if you aren't in the know) and don't make too much fuss over it. Sea Bass is one of my favourites though, I fry it in butter (yes BUTTER!!) with some salt and pepper, steam some veg, add some extra butter on the veg (I know, I know!), some fresh lemon and its one of the most delicious meals ever. It also takes less time than your average microwaved ready meal so no excuses please! 

Another thing I love about the kids not being here is the fact that I can clean and tidy my house and it remains in that state for more than an hour. With this in mind I have spent this morning doing just that. To be honest I got a little carried away - its a bit too tidy now, and I even weeded the front garden! 

Finally, the only other thing I like about an empty nest is that I get to sit in silence or, if I choose to, I can watch what I want to on TV. I almost need to dig the user guide out for the remote when they leave as I get to use it so little usually!

If you read my last post then you'll know all about my job. The first bit is now out of the way...we survived A-Level result day. This was particularly stressful for me as I introduced an new on-line system in conjunction with this and consequently didn't sleep too well the night before (along with many of our students, I'm guessing, so I shouldn't complain really) but I am pleased to report that all went well...very well indeed in fact. I now have confidence that the said system will work fine next week when its more important for those confirming course places following their GCSE results (but we shall see!). 

Well I better see to those emails I guess. I think a nice big glass of wine may help too. Oh...and don't forget that X-Factor starts tonight (I know you love it really), it's very much a family thing in our house and, if nothing else, it brings us all together on a Saturday evening so long may it continue!

Back soon...keep reading...things may get more exciting soon.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Day Job

Well I keep promising to tell you more about my job and tonight is somewhat the calm before the storm so to speak, so it would seem an ideal time. Tomorrow I return to work 'properly' (I've just been playing at it since mid-July to be honest), and will put in an average of 70-80 hours per week until the end of September - not ideal but luckily I love it, and needs must.

So what do I do? Technically my job title is 'CIS and Qualifications Manager', you are so much wiser now aren't you?! In plain English I oversee all of the data relating to students, their enrolments and their course outcomes at quite a large further education college in North Wales (3000 full timers...I never really know how many part timers there are...but its lots). I'm also responsible for ensuring they sit the right exams, under the right conditions. Finally...and this is the scary bit...I have to make sure that I claim the correct funding for each enrolment from the Welsh Government, and that our published performance statistics are accurate. Of course, all of this is audited, and that's a bit scary too sometimes because, as with everything government related, the rules are over complicated. It equates to millions of pounds and if I screw up...people lose their jobs (I would be top of that list of course)...that's the reality.

I also sit on the Senior Management Team at the College, which means that I play a part (with 15 others) in running the college as a whole, and any problems...whatever they are...I have to help solve. Sometimes I do sit in SMT meetings and wonder how the hell I got there. I'm 34 and I started there at 30. I'm the youngest on the management team and to say that I felt slightly out of my depth at the start would be an understatement. I thought they were crazy to give me such a huge responsibility...what were they thinking???...its just little me!

I submitted the application 15 minutes before the closing time at 11:45pm (I only became aware of it at 9:30pm), accidentally ticking the 'criminal convictions' box on the form (its not like the job requires a high degree of accuracy now is it??!), that was an interesting conversation at the interview! They required 3 years management experience to oversee what they described as a 'colourful' team of 15. I had a big fat ZERO! Oh...they are colourful alright! They are great...I wouldn't want to manage any other teams. With this in mind you can appreciate that I was a little shocked to be offered the post 25 minutes after the interview, whilst browsing HMV before my train arrived. If you have ever seen the film "Pursuit of Happyness" (deliberately spelt wrong by the spell checker is going nuts right now), the scene at the end of the film was pretty much the same for me. As a single parent of three I set out to do the best I could for my kids, just as Will Smith did in the film, and that scene makes me cry every time I see it solely because I remember that same day in my life.

So, in year one, I sank...nearly drowned...and then learnt to swim...a little. Every day was a huge challenge. I felt like everyone was waiting for me to fail. However, I then began to realise that actually, I could do this, and people believed in fact most people believed in me. Its only now, after nearly four years that I actually believe this too. Well the College is still solvent anyway! Its still a challenge, though, nearly every day, and that's a good thing.

So tomorrow the chaos begins when we get the a-level results in, then we get the GCSE results, then we go through main enrolment, then we get all 3000 students, plus the thousands of part timers, in the right place at the right time on day one, then we finalise the funding for last academic year, then we are audited (externally) and then we play catch up with everything else, before we start recruiting for 13/14. It genuinely is a crazy time of the year! So I will update this blog during this time, but please forgive me if it isn't as often or as detailed...keep following!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Benllech Sunset

Today I am going to show you another place that I love. Benllech on the Isle of Anglesey. I love going to the beach, but I hate beaches that are surrounded by arcades, fun fairs and markets. Benllech isn't. Its just a beach, with an ice cream hut, beach shop, cafe and pub nearby. The landscape is beautiful, and the Irish Sea water is clear, meaning that all my children spend ages in it on a hot day...even Child #1! 

Yesterday we had lots to do in the day and therefore we decided to set off for the beach late in the day and stay for sunset instead. That's the other thing I like about beaches, the way the atmosphere changes throughout the day. Benllech is invaded by holiday makers all day in the summer however, at around 4pm, they all start to leave. Then the locals turn up with body boards, dogs and bottles of wine. The most spoken language changes from Scouse back to Welsh by then too!

We arrived around 4pm yesterday and, as it was still really hot, it was fairly busy, so we sat eating ice creams and watching everyone leave. This amused me when I noticed that, for some reason, families never walk side by side on the beach...they all walk in a line...why is this? I'm sure we do this too!

We stayed there until 6:30pm when everyone was hungry and the familiar whiny voices began. Anglesey's best Fish and Chip shop (according to Google - the Oracle of all knowledge in my life) is a short drive from the beach. The Jolly Fryer!

Benllech Jolly Fryer

Unfortunately it seemed that everyone that I watched leave the beach earlier in the day was now in the queue I was about to join! Nevermind...25 minutes later we finally left the shop to return to the beach.

The beach was now a very different scene to earlier, yet still not empty. There were a couple of BBQ's taking place, a camp fire, a beach party and a couple of very committed beach lovers that had been there all day but were just determined to make the most of the day! (Along with the aforementioned dog walkers etc.)

So we sat, eating fish and chips, and taking it all in. With the seagulls for company...I can't think why that would be. They aren't stupid either...they stayed particularly close to child  #3, and it didn't take them long to persuade him to part with a couple of chips!

As the sun went down we sat chatting (well bickering would be more accurate to be children aren't that perfect!). When the sun had nearly vanished I took one more picture before we left...