Tag: musings

Help! I’m Turning into a Couch Potato

Before the start of the new year, my husband and I decided to treat ourselves and we bought a new smart TV.  We buy all of our appliances from Woolacotts in Bude.  This isn’t a sponsored post, by the way, we’re just really pleased with their customer service, so if you live in Cornwall or Devon and need to purchase any appliances, do head over, I’m sure they’ll be as good as our local one.

Ben, our ever-helpful salesman from Woolacotts helped us choose a Sony Bravia smart TV.  When I mentioned that we wanted to subscribe to Netflix, he shook his head and said “Oh you don’t need Netflix” and introduced us to an app called KODI.  Apparently this app will allow you to streamline all kinds of TV shows and movies, even new movies or ones that hasn’t even been shown in movie theatres yet.  Is it legal?  Yes, it is.  To quote entertainmentbox.com.

Kodi is a piece of streaming software designed to display on a range of devices, and that means it’s perfectly legal.

I know that it sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t.  There are times when the movie you want to watch won’t be available for streaming.  But we don’t have any problems with that, especially when it means not having to pay for subscription!

So yep, my #wotw is TV.  And yes, I’ve also officially been turned into a couch potato.  To be fair though, I do watch while doing chores, especially ironing and yes, gasp, I know, I’m probably the only one who still irons.  Posted this photo on my Instagram account a few days ago:

And all the comments I received was that apparently, ironing is an extinct chore.   I can’t do without ironing, one of my small-joys is having freshly laundered and ironed sheets.  Love it too much to want to give it up.

And meet my TV partner:  Doc.

Now excuse since I have to catch up with my Grey’s Anatomy viewing.  I want to watch that episode where Derek Shepherd – McDreamy dies.

The Reading Residence

Word of the Week: 2016

This is might be considered a belated post, since we’re well into 2017 now.  Strange, but usually when the start of a new year has begun, it takes me awhile to get used to writing whatever new year we’re in, but not this year.  I think I’m used to it already.

The beginning of 2016 was a difficult time for us as a family.  We were going through the process of selling our home and buying a house we’ve fallen in love with.  If you’ve been reading my blog for some time now, you might remember that all that fell apart late March. The whole experience traumatised us, not only because house-buying-selling in England as everyone knows (well at least the ones who’ve gone through it) is a pain in the neck.  But mostly it was because of the incompetence of our solicitor and the Cornwall council but I won’t get into the details, that’s all in the past now.  Good-bye 2016, I am so over you.

The year improved as we found a different house, moved in, licked our wounds clean and eventually settled in our new home.  This year our little family has also managed to form new-significant relationships with special people, that definitely was a bonus and almost made up for our harrowing experience earlier in 2016.

While we or I don’t have any grand plans this year, my only wish is that there would be continued good health in our little family, my family back home and my extended family here in England.

My word of the week, although it isn’t a word, but a number is 2016.

What is yours?

The Reading Residence

Did Christmas Really Happen?

I know it’s only the second week of the new year and already the Christmas season seems like a thing of the past already – that is so 2016!  Already I have tulips on my mantelpiece already which really makes me happy.  In spite the dreary days and cold weather, dare I say it? I think spring might just be on its way.

Of course, I see evidence that it did happen.  I still have a Christmas tapestry given to me by my in-laws which we put in the landing upstairs, still lying on the floor, waiting to be put away in the box.  I keep forgetting!  And since the weather has been really bad lately, I’ve kept a couple of fairy lights and strung them over our bookcase in the living room.  In the late-afternoon, when it’s really depressing and I’m sitting in our lounge glaring at our fire that won’t work again, I switch the fairy lights on and it cheers me up instantly.  It’s all about the small joys people 😉

And we actually still have what T calls a “chocolate” corner, which really should be a “sweets” corner since we also have candy cane left-overs which we used to decorate the tree with and the chocolate!  There are only  a  few left now, but I sometimes wonder if it’s somehow a “magic” corner, because no matter how little there are left, and no matter how much T and the Historian eats them (they both love sweets), there’s always some left over!

January here in England is not for the faint-hearted.  I think you have to be made of sterner stuff to let it not get to you.  But my skin is getting thicker now, calloused even.  I won’t lie and say it’s not affecting me or my mood, but I’m getting better at this dealing-with-awful-winter-days.  I get on with it, or as my dear mother-in-law once told me “You just plod on”.  So here I am plodding on… get on with January!

What about you?

Are you ready for spring too?

Of Mad Men and Talks of Home

How many times have we heard that?  Or read it?  It’s a lovely saying isn’t it, comforting even.  For the longest time though, every time I mention home, I always mean, my home-country, where I’m from.  When I say “I’m going home” or “I want to go home”, it usually means back to the Phil, when in truth, I haven’t lived there since 2007.

Ever since we’ve had T, my husband and I planned that once she finishes primary school, we’d head back to live there.  If my husband had his way, he’d stick to the plan, or even make it happen tomorrow if he could.

It just doesn’t work that way, does it?  We’re thinking of his parents, they are getting older and we wouldn’t want to leave them.  And then because of current events, we are having to re-think our plans.

A few nights ago, feeling disheartened with the way things are also turning out in England and work-wise, he turned to me and said “Fancy living in some other country in Europe, say France?”  I replied, “Can’t.  We don’t speak French.  I don’t think we can survive with the little French words we know”.

The truth is, ever since a mad man has been elected to the highest office in my country, the desire to go home is slowly being dampened.  That little flame is diminishing bit by bit as I read the latest news online, although my husband thinks he isn’t a mad man and calls him a “fraud”, a jokester.  Sadly, I think he is right.  And because of this clown, I don’t think of my birth-country as home anymore.

Why would I want to live in a place where I won’t feel safe, where I won’t feel my husband and daughter will be safe? And to quote my favourite actress, Meryl Streep who has been in the limelight lately because of her speech in the recent Golden Globe awards:

And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.

Meryl Streep

Sadly, this is the world we live in right now.  I don’t think there is a place safer in this world where we can move to, to ensure the safety of our daughter, digging the deepest hole in the ground won’t do to hide from the bullies in the world.

My home is my family.  At the moment, it is this cold detached 400-year-old house by the coast where I’m finding out its walls get mouldy in the winter and the fires won’t work all the time.  Indeed, home is where the heart is.  In my home, no bullies are allowed.  And I also like what TS Elliot wrote …

Home is where one starts from.

Indeed it is.

Where is home to you?

Hello January, Hello 2017

Lots of people go mad in January.  Not as many as in May, of course. Nor June. But January is your third most common month of madness.

Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Kanary

And so Christmas and the New Year has come and gone.  I don’t know about you, but it always feels like it happens in a bit of a blur, like a photograph taken in motion, a fusion of colours and memories, over and done with, until the next Christmas.  Hope everyone has had a lovely time, albeit the madness.

Ah January, hello you, broody-grey-skies and cold, you.  It’s the time of the year where everything seems to happen in slow-motion, especially the days and all the noises, the ticking of the clock, a phone ringing in an empty house is amplified, as if the sound is in your head.  No, I haven’t gone bonkers, at least, I don’t think so.  But that’s how I feel at the moment.  The Historian has gone off and dropped my cousin at the University of Reading.  He also has a meeting tomorrow, so it’s just me, Doc and Boots bumbling along together in this cold-bleak January day.  T comes home later, only then will the house awaken.

Back to Basics

I’ve also decided to go back to basics with this whole blogging business.  Last year, I thought I’d give it a go and try to make it more “commercial”, whatever that means.  I fell in a rabbit hole of blogging groups and learning about DAs, and pumping up your stats and all that and the more I did it, the more I felt that every fibre in me was protesting, so I’m done with that now.  Don’t get me wrong though, while I loved the community and the bloggers behind them, in the end, it just became too much for me.

I guess it also comes down to personality.  I’ve always been a solo person.  I like doing my own thing and I’ve also been blogging on and off for more than a decade now.  Does anyone remember blogspot?  I guess that also shows my age…

I’m going back to writing the way I want, because I have this need to write.

I’m not going to be a hypocrite though and say that I’m going to stop accepting sponsored and collaborative posts.  If they come and it’s a good fit with Little Steps, I will say yes.  I’ve learned though to be choosy on what projects and fees to accept.  At the moment, admittedly most of the time, I decline the offers especially when it is too low.

Dear PRs, I do value my time and what I do and write in this little blog of mine.  No, I won’t just accept your offer, even though you all act as if I should be thrilled with the fact that you’ve gotten in touch.  Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way and no, I don’t accept follow-links.  Thank you for getting in touch with Little Steps.

I’m still going to join a few linkies like #countrykids, mostly because I’m friends with the blogger who runs it.  I have a couple of other favourites too like #animaltales and #wotw.  Linkies I’ve been joining in the past couple of years, I do enjoy linking-up with these lovely bloggers.

That’s what 2017 holds for me – going back to the basics, finding my voice again, being authentic.  I wish I could declare that I have big dreams or plans for 2017.  But I don’t.  Like most frustrated writers, I still have that unwritten novel in my head, countless short-stories to edit and write, poems screaming to be written.  I’m afraid I have forsaken my muse.  I’m ready to go down on my knees and plead with her/him – so mote it be.

Any big plans for 2017?

Saying Goodbye to Chats with Mums and Dads

When I first started the series four years ago, I primarily did it because I was curious about how other parents managed this whole parenthood business.  I needed some advice, T was barely two-years-old and I didn’t really have any close mum friends back then.  I wanted to know other parents’ thoughts and their opinions.

The first year, I began featuring my friends who were based all over the world, most of them weren’t even bloggers.  It was only during the middle of 2013 when I started interviewing parent bloggers, and my first one was a Chat with a Dad: The Secret Father.  (Do scroll down to read his interview).  I didn’t feature only UK bloggers, but reached out to parent bloggers from all over the globe as well.  Do have a little nosey around and read each post when you have the time.

I hate goodbyes, who doesn’t?  I just feel that the series has come to its natural end.  Paulo Coelho was so right when he wrote:

It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.

But before I forget I’d like to say thank you to all of those who have been featured, my friends and of course to past bloggers who went on this little series of mine, even though I’m really just a little unknown blogger.  THANK YOU!  

I’m not going to delete the series from my blog, so it will still be here if anyone would be interested in reading them.  You’ll find lots of inspiring quotes about parenthood and how parents cope.  I know I did, though some bloggers I just found out aren’t even blogging anymore, and some are not just that active either, but still definitely worth a read!

I love what Pieter, a parent blogger from South Africa wrote (Click on Ah Dad below for full interview)

But being away from them, and feeling that gigantic hole in my heart as I sit on a plane, that is the one thing crappy thing about being a dad. You know those moments when you realise part of your essence is missing”

Or what Katie Kirby of Hurrah for Gin said when asked “If you could give yourself advice about motherhood, before becoming one what would it be? (scroll down and click on Hurrah for Gin to read full interview)

I wish I could tell myself to enjoy the early days and cuddles without worrying, they go so quickly! When I see people with tiny babies sleeping on their chests I feel sad that I ever thought it was more important to get them to nap in a basket”

2013

Kala Barba Court

Maria Mambo

Asanempoka

Melissa Queyquep

Cristina Delakovias

The Secret Father

Surprise Mama

Pecora Nera

Sonya Cisco

Motherhood is an Art

The Adventures of Sonny and Luca

Mom Solo

2014

Hurrah for Gin

Life as a Widower

3 Children and It

Mutterings of a Fool

Did That Just Happen?

Ah Dad

My Toddler Rules

Daddy Space

The Vanilla Housewife

Jogging Dad

Life in the Wylde West

Slouching Towards Thatcham

2015

Circus Queen (Now called Beautiful Tribe)

Chasing Wilderness

Mummy Tries

Snoozing on the Sofa

Solo Mama

One Dad 3 Girls

Space for the Butterflies

Northern Dad

Free Range Chick

Living in the Langhe

Wild About Here

Goodbye Pert Breasts

2016

The Comeback Mum

One Good Dad

Coombe Mill

Danny UK, the Bearded Blogger

Chasing Esme

Looking for the Postman

PODcast

M & M’s Daddy

Five Little Doves

Man VS Pink

Absolutely Prabulous

OMG It’s A Girl

A big thank you to those who’ve followed the series through out all the years!

All About the Cold

I knew when we first moved in our new home that it would be colder than in our old house where it was always snug and cozy.  In the winter, friends who’d visit would always comment on how warm our house was as soon as they entered.  We lived in a terraced house back then, that’s why.  Now we live in a detached house with no neighbours.  In spite the central heating, and two fires in the kitchen and living room, I’m still cold all the bloody time.  To be fair though, both fires aren’t on all the time.  We only put them on when we’re using the rooms.  What’s the point in wasting the fire if there isn’t anyone in?  Sometimes I think we only heat the rooms for our pets.  Thank goodness for wooly socks.  I love them.

In spite the cold, T still complains that she’s feeling warm.  What’s it with these kids?  When it’s cold, they complain about being warm.  I can understand when they’re running around like loonies, of course all that energy burnt will keep them warm, but at night?  Apparently, T isn’t the only one, a few  of my mum friends commented that their little ones are exactly the same.

And speaking of the cold, I’m noticing mold have started to show up in some of our walls and ceilings.  I try to wipe them off as soon as I notice them, but before long, they are there again.  Sigh.

***

I think I’m slowly getting into the Christmas spirit.  We’re going away in the first weekend of December, so my husband said that it would be okay to start decorating this weekend.  Normally, I’d do the dance of joy, but he was surprised when all he got was an “Oh okay”.

I’m hoping to be able to drop by our favourite garden centre after T’s ballet on Saturday.  They have a fabulous Christmas display and items.   I’m sure that will do the trick.

What about you?

Any exciting plans this week?

The Reading Residence

A Country Kid’s Post: Planting for Spring

I know it’s barely Winter and here I am talking about Spring.  But you see, it’s all about focusing on small joys, and doing things that makes me/our little family happy, and planting for Spring makes us happy bunnies!

Last Sunday was a quiet day of doing chores, homework and planting for us here at Small Hill Cottage.  My husband bought some bulbs for planting and he and little T had fun doing it in the garden.  They planted crocuses, irises, daffodils and trilliums.

I reminded him though that when our garden is in full bloom, it is dotted with loads of daffodils, snow-drops and other lovely spring flowers.  “Yes”, he replied.  “But not where I want them to be”.  Off he went, planting them down in the garden, where he wanted them to be.

Silly flowers indeed, not sprouting from where he wants them to grow.

planting

As for little T, my little gardener, she was blessedly content with planting the bulbs in her chosen pot.  There, she said, as she pushed the last bulb in the soil and asked me to help her cover it with compost.

We were all out in the garden, enjoying the fresh air in spite the dull weather.  Well, except for the cat who opted to stay in, sleeping by the fire.  Doc was busy running around and barking at imaginary shadows.  T and the historian with their bulbs, and I, as always, was busy raking the leaves.

autumn_leaves

Safe in our little bubble of country living.  The world and all its absurdities can all happen without us and we’re fine with that.

What about you?

Have you done any spring planting too?

Strange Times

The results of the election in the States seemed to have enveloped one part of the world in a dark cloud.  It’s such a strange world we live in now.  Like many, I was upset about the results, mostly because I’m worried about my family living there:  even though they are American citizens, they are an easy target all because of the way they look and when you have a man who seems to demonstrate all the worst “isms” in life become President of that country, what are their chances?  They might as well draw a bull’s eye on their foreheads.

When my husband woke me up on Wednesday morning to tell me the results of the elections, I wanted to grab my daughter and start digging a hole so deep and keep her there until it’s safe to come out again.  I don’t want her to grow up in a world where it’s okay to be a misogynist and sexually assault women and yet be elected President of the  most powerful country in the world.

This morning, I wanted to wake up and realise that yesterday was a bad dream.  That it wasn’t our reality.  But I’ve been here before.  We had our own elections in the Philippines months ago.  Just like everywhere, clearly our people were tired of the political elite ruling our country and wanted change.  Like the Americans they thought they could turn to a demigod, a man they thought they could trust even though he made rape-jokes and thought that he could get away with it, by apologising later on and claiming it was all humour, just like Trump who called it “locker-room” talk.  And now that man has sold my country to China. He and his supporters have re-written our history by allowing a former dictator to be given a heroes burial.  A dictator who robbed my country clean, who killed thousands, among them, a poet, the father of one of my closest friends, and also the husband of my mum’s best-friend right in front of her, forcing her to pull the trigger, when she couldn’t do it.  They just shot him, but not before using her bellybutton as an ash tray. That very same day, she lost her baby too.  The same one who tortured my own mother when she was an activist during his time.  I guess, I ought to be thankful that they didn’t kill her. Is that all for nought?  Really?

We live in such strange times indeed.  My sister said in jest, the world is ending.  I replied to her seriously and said “No, it can’t end.  We have our kids to think of!”  After all, it’s our children who will have to live with the mistakes of our past.  And here I was thinking that I’ve had it with gloomy thoughts.  Can you blame me?

Dear World,

No more bad news please.

The Reading Residence

Seasonally Lonely

Before moving to England, I’ve never heard of S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder) before.  When I did, I laughed. Yes, I actually laughed and couldn’t believe that there was such a term.  But having lived here for almost a decade, I understand now.

I know now how the short days and seemingly endless not to mention cold nights can do to ones emotional being and mental health.  How even the days can be so dreary, just looking out the window will want to make you want to weep.

How little things that can happen, or careless words said in the summer when they days are longer, carefree and bright, and therefore can be brushed aside and deemed not important.  When the days are short and the nights are long, those words can sting you, and wound you so deep, if left untended, can and will fester all through out the winter.

In past posts, I wrote about what I arm myself with to ward off the gloom.  I turn to comedy and humour.   I try to focus on the smallest joys like wooly socks that keeps your feet nice and toasty.  In the month of November, we have the promise of Christmas, even though it can be madness too, up till the 25th, at least our minds are preoccupied about lists to tick off and presents to buy.  January though can be a bit tricky, especially once the decors have been taken down and the house suddenly looks bare.  Thirty-one bloody days of bleakness.  Luckily February is a short one and down here in Cornwall, Spring comes early.  If we’re lucky again this year, the daffodils will come springing up even in mid-December like last year.

Knowing how much I missed the music of my past, my husband bought me a collection of Rickie Lee Jones CDs.  And as much as I love her, she can be bloody depressing (see previous post).  I’m sorry Rickie.  You will have to collect dust for now.  I’ll take you out in the summer.  For now, I’m only going to listen to Highlife.  Ghanaian music always makes me think of good friendships, the sun, festivals, and dancing, even if it’s looking desolate outside.  Enough of my ramblings and navel gazing.

What about you?

What helps you get rid of the blues?

Postscript:  I drafted this post last night.  My husband woke me up about the latest news that’s happening across the globe.  I’m afraid not even Highlife can cheer me up now.  Whoopie-bloody-doo-dah.  We live in such strange times.