Mabel: My Stupid Dog

Saying goodbye to the best stupid dog

It’s quite obvious that I am a cat person. If you didn’t know that already, then where have you been? I do have a special place in my heart for all the dogs we have had through the years though. One stupid dog in particular. But more on her later.

Offie (full name Othello), was my first dog. It took an exceptionally long time to realise that no, he hadn’t gone to live in the attic (a place four-year-old me wasn’t allowed to go). My parents had made the heartbreaking but wise decision that an ageing dog in the same house as four children under four wasn’t the best living situation.

It was a few years before we got Dizzy (full name Desdemona), an amazing Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. I have an image in my head of Dizzy being quite a serious dog, but I know that in reality she probably wasn’t. She was certainly pretty well skilled with the ‘Toller scream’ (see – and hear – below). When she was a few years old, we decided to get a second dog, Mabel (full name Mabel.)

Mabel: The Best Dog Ever

I remember the day we went to get Mabel. It was quite a drive from our home, but I was so excited. It was unfortunate that when we got there we discussed she’d had a bit of a dodgy tummy, but because of the long drive, we had to take her home that day.

The smell of doggy diarrhoea is one I can remember vividly to this day. It didn’t help that my and my sister refused to put her in the boot because we wanted to play with the cute puppy.

Mabel seemed to stay as a puppy for most of her life, both in appearance and behaviour. When Dizzy was still around, Mabel was always beta of their pack of two, so never really needed to grow up. After Dizzy went over the Rainbow Bridge, we got Hector and Cassie. Mabel seemed happy to bow down to her feline overlords rather than acting like an adult dog. Even now, she has a cheeky smile as she climbs onto the sofa next to you, and she gets overexcited about any little thing.

She is getting older though. It’s what surprises me most when I go to my parent’s because I’m not there to see the gradual decline like when I lived there. When I visited last weekend, even sitting up made her pant. She wasn’t eating her food (although she was eating plenty of ice creams when offered) and would look at me in confusion when I tried to send her into the garden to go to the bathroom before bed. Whilst we’ve joked for many years that she was a dead dog walking, it became apparent that the date was fast approaching.

Saying Goodbye

When I left my parent’s last Monday, I made my last goodbye to Mabel. I was half expecting her to still be dragging herself around the house when I return later in the year.

It’s a weird thing with pets, isn’t it? That sometimes we know they’re going to die before it happens. It’s written into the calendar as something that will take place at a certain time.

My mum phoned my on Thursday to let me know the veterinary appointments have been made. One on Wednesday, for a check up. One on Friday for the procedure. Part of me hopes that the vet may still turn around and say ‘Don’t be silly, she’s got years left in her.’ But it’s unlikely.

I know it’s not a decision that has been lightly by my family. It’s a topic we’ve come back to again and again. It is a kindness, to have her put down. But it’s still heartbreaking.

Owner lying on bed next to her red and white pet dog

Mabel has been around for half of my life. I don’t really remember a time before her. She’d been a constant companion – one of the best – and she’ll be greatly missed. Here’s hoping that my parent’s give her a good send off this week – with lots of ice cream.

A Good Send Off

I’m going to be posting my favourite pictures of me and Mabel over on my Instagram throughout the week, so please check it out.

Love you Mabel, my stupid dog. Cassie, Moët, Chandon and Dizzy will meet you on the other side of the bridge.

Bank Holiday Project Monday: ‘Reyna’ Knitted Shawl

What did you do this Bank Holiday?

This time last year, a Bank Holiday meant another day at work for a little bit more pay. Now I’m  working and studying, they are a welcome reprise in an otherwise busy life. I have been looking forward to this for several weeks, literally counting down the days until it came along – since I spent my Easter bank holidays travelling to and from my parents!

Taking full advantage of this rest day, I spent my morning deep cleaning my flat – something that has needed to be done for quite some time! I then took Roxy for a little walk and got some work done, before diving back into one of my craft projects that has been pushed to the side for a while.

I’ve been working on this shawl since before Christmas, hoping that it would be done for the cold winter – and obviously failed! The pattern is by Noora Laivola and I found it over on Ravelry. (If you’re not familiar with Ravelry but love knitting and/or crochet, you need to check it out!) I’m using some gorgeous yarn from Sirdar (Sylvan, Broadleaf Colourway) that I fell in love with when I saw it. However, I failed to take into account the texture of this yarn’s impact on the outcome. As the yarn varies in width, some holes have come out bigger than others, and it’s looking a bit weird. I really love the colours though, so I’m willing to overlook the problems with it. It’s definitely taught me a lesson to remember in the future though.

How about you? How did you spend your bank holiday? Or for those across the seas, what would you do if you had a day off work right now? Join the conversation below!

Project Monday: The Secret Project

AKA. Finally, A Wedding Present

When you’re invited to the wedding of two special people, you need a special wedding present. Traditionally, this is given, you know, at the wedding, But when you decide it needs to be handmade, even though you have zero time, sometimes the timeline…slips a little. Still, that makes it more of a surprise! After many months of work, I finally sent off a wedding present to my dear friends Emma and Jonny last week, and that means I can finally share it with you all!

Project Details

When I started on this project, I wasn’t sure who or what it was going to be for. As I flicked through CrossStitcher I came across the pattern and immediately fell in love. Then, just after I started working on it I found out that Jonny was planning to propose to Emma. Emma is one of the best bakers I’ve ever met, so the sentiment seemed perfect.

Who knows? If they’re really lucky, I might manage the matching cake band one day! Think I might need to tackle a few other works in progress first though.

2017 Achievements and Goals Revisited

A white chair and basket in front of a white wall, with 2017 Goals and Plans written above in mint green and raspberry pink

We’re nearly a quarter of the way through 2017, so now seems as good a time as any to review the goals I set myself for this year. This is also a chance to share my 2017 Achievements so far with you all, and for you to let me know how you’re getting on with you own in the comments  below.

1. Finish My Master’s Degree

Back in January, I submitted my first essays for my Master’s degree. I’m not going to lie, it was terrifying. I barely scrapped through my Undergraduate degree, so have been going through some serious imposter syndrome since I got accepted onto the course.

All of this taken into consideration, imagine my surprise when I more than passed my first two modules. My university doesn’t do merit grades for Master’s degrees, but if they did I would be well on my way to getting one. I honestly couldn’t be happier! I’m holding onto my achievements so far as I head into the Easter break – the time to get my next two assessments done and dusted. A distinction isn’t completely out of the question if I score well on these, so I’m going to be throwing myself into the work to make it the best that it can be!

2. Fit in More Crafting

I’ve been a little up and down with this goal. Some weeks I’ve been doing loads (generally when I have something to procrastinate from),and others I haven’t gone near anything craft related. I’m slowly improving though, remembering to make time for myself. I’ve also been reminded that I always feel better when my downtime still seems productive. With this in mind, I’ve taken to adding craft projects to my to do list, so that I feel like I’m getting stuff done whilst still making time for myself to relax. I currently have a couple of projects on the go, which I hope to share with you all soon. I’ve also just finished a huge cross stitch project that I’ve been working on for over a year. I’m hoping to post about it soon – it just needs to get to it’s recipient first!

3. Develop My Career

I started the year by returning to a career I thought I had left behind me long ago. In hindsight, adding a full time job on top of full time studies probably wasn’t the wisest of choices. Regardless of this, it went really well, and I began to question why I had ever left it in the first place.

So, since then I have been seeking out stage management work again. It’s been a little difficult, as I’m restricted by my contact hours at university, but I’ve been making a couple of applications a month. I even have a job interview this week for a perfect sounding job that would combine my stage management experience with my growing applied theatre knowledge. So, fingers crossed for that.

In the meantime, I’ve been continuing with my work placements for university. On top of my pre-existing one from last term, I have a new placement each Wednesday. This one focuses on Marketing and Administration; Two areas I have very little experience in but which will be essential in my future involving an amount of freelance work. On top of my work placement, I’ve started doing some paid reception work with them, which should help make ends meet!

I’m still not sure where all this is leading me. I suspect though that I might be heading towards a series of odd jobs to make ends meet, interspersed with the work I want to do. When I work out what that is, exactly.

4. Make New Friends

I kind of hate myself for putting this on my list of goals for the year. It’s not that I don’t want friends – it wouldn’t be on my list if that was the case. It’s just so difficult! I hate having to put myself out there. Years of social anxiety and trust issues have built a massive wall I have to climb over whenever anything remotely friendship like comes my way.

That being said, I have been making baby steps in the right direction (mainly with help from my lovely ‘Mental Health Specialist Mentor,’ courtesy of the university.) I met up with an old work colleague. I’ve been pushing myself to join more conversations between classes at university. Most scarily of all (for me, at least) I went along to a London Craft Club meetup earlier in the month. The bonus of this is that there was very little pressure to socialise, as everyone was engaged in their own crafts. Plus, it helped me towards my second goal of making more time for my crafts. I haven’t managed to go back since then, but I’m hoping I will some time soon.

So basically, no huge leaps of progress towards any of my goals as of yet, but a couple of little achievements worth mentioning. I’ve listed them below, mainly for personal bragging reasons. It also helps boost my mood when I’m feeling rubbish to remember everything I’ve achieved. Don’t forget to add your own achievements and goals in the comments!

 

2017 Achievements

  1. I have received good marks for my Master’s degree assessments so far.
  2. I worked on a show as a Stage Manager for the first time in three years. The show got great reviews, and I received high praise for my part on the show.
  3. Pushing myself to the edges of my comfort zone, I went to a craft group meetup.
  4. I completed a super secret craft project that I’ve been working on for over a year. Hopefully you’ll hear more about this really soon!

Video Friday: Lawn Fawn Scallop Box Card by Lesley Oman

I have never made my love of Lawn Fawn products a secret on this blog. They regularly feature on my wishlist. So, it was with great excitement that I awaited news of their new products for this Spring. When I came across this video by Lesley Oman from Creativation, my excitement tripled.

Lawn Fawn Scalloped BOX Card Die aka. My Saviour

I love making box cards, but I very rarely make them. Why? Because they’re such a pain! All the measuring and hand cutting the box and then trying to fit it all together? I just don’t have the patience for it.  So when I discovered Lawn Fawn were releasing a die to solve all my problems, my heart soared.

This video from Lesley perfectly demonstrates what can be done with the new die, as shown by the range of designs on display in the video. It looks super easy to use, which is great for a crafter with a busy life! Unsuprisingly, I’m also quite taken with the Meow You Doin’ Stamp and Die Sets – check out the inspiration from Lawn Fawn below!

A box card created for Lawn Fawn with blue and green banner at the back and three siamese cats in front of it

How amazingly cute is this beautiful card by Lizzy Criman!? Check out more of her work here

Long story short, I cannot wait for Lawn Fawn’s new offerings. I am always uneasy about ordering from outside the UK (mainly due to shipping costs), but with a big enough shopping list, I think I’m going to bite the bullet and go ahead with an order!

How about you guys? Has anything from Lawn Fawn’s new range taken your fancy?

Top 3 Cat Washi Tapes

I am so jealous of anyone who can produce gorgeous planner spreads. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, possibly because of the massive roadblock in my head whenever it comes to creativity. (I’m working on it.) I’m starting to come to terms with it, giving myself permission to be a little bit wild and free with my planning, but I still want to make it pretty, and one very popular way is through adding washi tape. So, since my Passion Planner arrived last week I’ve been trawling the internet for nice washi tape that can add the perfect embellishments to my weekly plans. And, of course, I had to find some cat themed tape.

After not much searching, I found these gorgeous examples. Payday can’t come soon enough!

Cat Washi Tape by Cynthia Renard

White washi tape with gold cats in various positions

Cat Washi Tape Exclusive to Cynthia Renard on Etsy

I love simple designs and gold foil, so fell in love with this tape as soon as I saw it. And Cynthia doesn’t just sell tape – she also sells a range of planner stencils which might just encourage me to stretch my creative planning!

Meow Washi Tape by Doodle Bug Design Inc

White washi tape with 'Meow' written in black, handwriting font

Meow Washi Tape by Doodle Bug Design Inc.

I found this simple tape for sale by LouTinenEvents on Etsy. My handwriting is shocking, so I can’t decide if this beautiful written meow would make my planner look better or just make my handwriting look worse in comparison. Either way, I want it.

Cute Happy Cat Washi Tape by Amifa

Pink washi tape with black and white cats in various positions

Pink Cat Washi Tape from Amifa

This tape is a little more pricy than the previous offerings (especially once shipping is taken into consideration) but it’s so pretty I’m not sure I would mind. I love the little bowties that add a little extra colour, plus the tuxedo cat looks just like my mum’s cat Hector!

What about you guys? Do you have a planner accessory you’ve been lusting after? Or do you just have one in your collection that you covet? Let me know below!

Wishlist Wednesday: Enamel Cat Introvert Pin

I am a massive introvert. It is no secret. I will actively avoid any situation that requires too many other people, instead hiding under my duvet until everyone else leaves. But that always creates awkwardness between myself with others. So, imagine my delight when I was browsing Etsy and stumbled across this? I have never fallen in love as quickly as I did when I found this pin by DiglotEtc.

Three pin badges, in pink, blue or white, all saying 'I would rather be at home with my cat'

This has just the right amount of cuteness and sassiness for the perfect accessory. It also makes my thoughts clear to others straight away. No matter how much fun I’m having, I’m always going to prefer being at home with my cat. This is going right to the top of my wishlist, so I can wear my introvert, cat loving status with pride.

How about you guys? Is there anything you’ve added to your wishlist this week? Comment below!

Project Monday: Weasley Jumpers

I have just returned from the Warner Brothers Studio Tour for a third time, and it remains a truly magical experience (pardon the pun.) I would go and look at the paper props everyday if I could. Sneaking in just after the end of 2016, it was the perfect end to my most Harry Potter filled year since the release of the last film. There was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which excited me mostly because of the new details revealed about the Wizarding World, and there’s nothing I love more than world building. However, the biggest Harry Potter event of my year took place a month prior, and it was one we’d been waiting for for 366 days.

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child

Yup, last October was finally our time to see Harry Potter’s first (official) outing on stage. (No spoilers here, I promise.) Working in theatre means it’s obviously a huge passion of mine. I’ve seen quite a few plays, good and bad, over the years. Cursed Child definitely landed on the  good side, despite the plot being lacking. It was redeemed by some outstanding staging and technical effects. The whole performance was perfectly choreographed to an amazing soundtrack (when will we be able to listen to this at home?) Most of all, it wasn’t just a play, it was an experience that took over the entire theatre.

Of course, a huge part of the Harry Potter experience has always been the fans, and they did not disappoint this time around either. I have never been in an audience which collectively, audibly gasped before. Best of all, a majority of the audience was dressed up, including my family.

The Mission: 6 Weasley Jumpers in 366 Days

“366 days to make six Weasley Jumpers, that’s totally doable, right?”

Needless to say, it wasn’t completely doable. The Weasley Jumpers took a who family effort, right up to the beginning of the show. It was a little crazy, but we were glad to have achieved something together. It isn’t perfect as it’s my first handmade jumper, but I love it more than anything, and the feeling of accomplishment cannot be replaced. We’re talking telling everyone around me that I knitted it myself level here. You’ve got to make your pride known!

If you want to have a go at making your own, I used this pattern from Canadian Living; super simple, including different sizes. I used Hayfield Bonus Aran Yarn in Green Heather, and some standard felt for the letter.

Now I have achieved this, I can’t wait to branch out and try a more difficult jumper!

Hello 2017!

I’ve never been a fan of New Years resolutions – If you want to make a change, why wait for a new year to do that? But I do like setting myself goals, and the new year does make a good landmark from which to measure my progress. So, here are my 2017 Goals!

A white chair and basket in front of a white wall, with 2017 Goals and Plans written above in mint green and raspberry pink

1. Finish my Master’s Degree. 

All things going well, this should be a dead cert. What I’d really like is to graduate with a distinction, but we shall see how that goes! But I’m proud of myself for even working for my Master’s, and know that a distinction won’t be worth it if it comes at the cost of my mental health, so will continue to just do my best without sending myself crazy!

2. Fit in more crafting. 

Whilst it is something I love, crafting is also the first thing pushed to the wayside when things get tough. But as I know from many rounds of therapy, reading and personal experience, times of high stress are precisely when I need to make time for pleasure activities. What’s the point of living a life with just work? I did that for two years, and look where it go me. So, at least one hour of crafts, please and thank you.

3. Develop my career. 

A vague goal, but since I still don’t know at nearly 25 exactly what I want to do (who does?), I can’t get much more specific right now. I want to continue to look at theatre and mental health, but I want to keep stage managing too. But, part of me is always tempted to just find a job at a cattery in the countryside. So, we’ll see where I am at the end of 2017 – just so long as I’m not standing still. (And, you know, have some money. Roxy still isn’t contributing to the rent bill.)

4. Make some friends. 

It’s not that I don’t have any friends. I have some great friends. But I really don’t socialise often. Part of that is because of the crippling social anxiety, but at the end of the day, that’s not going to improve by  sitting in my flat alone. And living in a capital city really doesn’t give me any excuses to not make more friends – there are hundreds of clubs and meet up groups in the area, I just need to make the step. So, by the end of the year I want to be doing at least one social thing a week. Maybe. That sounds very scary.

And that’s all I have right now, although I’m sure I will continue to develop my goals as the year chugs along. How about you? Any resolutions or goals? Share them with me and we can be accountability buddies!

Christmas Card Challenge Day Nine: Sparkly Christmas Tree

Nothing says Christmas like a sparkly Christmas Tree. I’ve seen many cards going around on Pinterest using Washi Tape, and this seemed like the perfect chance to try it out! I love just how easy this was to put together, and think I might make a couple more to send out to friends!

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