Thursday, 24 March 2011

Spring Sunday in Bristol

Husband and I drove to Bristol on Sunday. We met up with my sister and Fauxbro for a little picnic by the Suspension Bridge, tasted some wines for their wedding and then headed to the Zoo, to the Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair. Sister and I pottered round the fair, chatting to vendors and selecting things for my second wedding (ha) and buying one or two bits (her, for her actual wedding). Husband and Fauxbro sat and drank coffee from teacups and then sampled wedding cake.

We then headed into Clifton, pottered in a few shops (I bought some lining paper for an old chest of drawers that we bought from a junk shop in London a while back) and then we had a cream tea in a little cafe in the evening sunshine before heading home again. 


The wedding fair was curated by Bristol Vintage (further post coming as they hire lovely vintage tea sets for weddings, and given my troubles in finding such a thing in 2009 I am keen to list as many as possible). Bristol Vintage had lots of cake stands for sale, as you can see in this photograph above. Despite owning no less than 3 different variants of cake stand, I was sorely tempted to add to my collection. A friend of my Grandmother's, knowing my fondness for vintage tableware, has sent a bag of tableclothes and the like down for me, which will be delivered by my mother on Saturday. Given that the last set included Swiss lace table mats from the early 1900s, I am most excited. And another cake stand would have been perfect for the afternoon tea for an early mothering sunday that I am planning this weekend and also for the hen party and baby showers which are approaching in May. But, I was good and resisted. And the 3 I already have will be just. fine.

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All photos by me (and not re-touched. the sky really was that blue. and yes, I need to start using a camera not an iphone)

Monday, 21 March 2011

Vintage Aqua/Eggshell Blanket

Tim Walker Poster - Lily Cole On A Spiral Staircase


We have this poster from the Design Museum in London on the wall above our bed. It's a print of a photograph by Tim Walker of Lily Cole and I love it. I adore the colour, a sort of aqua, eggshell blue and I love she looks a little like a peacock and that it looks a little Moroccan too (one of our favourite holidays). It's also fashion-y but not so much that Husband would object.


Last week I was browsing vintage goodies on line when I came across this blanket. I fell in love with it immediately, the colour, the style, the material. It's made in England from 100% wool and beautiful. And perfectly matches our print. Best of all, it was on sale. I emailed it to Husband. Who loved it too. So we ordered it and it arrived this morning. And is just as gorgeous in real life.

It came from The Bucket Tree which is curated by Artemis Russell who writes a lovely blog called Junkaholique (that link will take you to the post I showed Husband this weekend - she has turned a simple wooden shed into a fantastic, peaceful, sewing room) which is a delight and inspiration to read every week. Artemis collects lots of lovely things - for their flat as well as The Bucket Tree - and posts lots of photos of her finds as well as her flat and her lovely cat, Plimsoll.

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Top photo from the Design Museum flickr stream; bottom photos courtesy of Artemis at The Bucket Tree

Thursday, 17 March 2011

For Japan With Love


UtterlyEngaged and Ever Ours have joined forces and come up with For Japan With Love to fund raise and raise awareness about Japan. This is what they say:



"There are two parts to it.

Fundraising:

For Japan With Love has a direct link on the website to our fundraising page for ShelterBox.ShelterBox was one of THE first organizations asked by Japan to help and were on hand on the Saturday after the quake.  Each large, green ShelterBox is tailored to a disaster but typically contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, water storage and purification equipment, cooking utensils, a stove, a basic tool kit, a children’s activity pack and other vital items.
Please check it out and whatever you can contribute will be so appreciated.

Bloggers Day of Silence:

Anyone that has a blog can help out with this one.
The aim is just raise awareness and respect and acknowledge the devastation going on in Japan.
The guidelines are simple.
1.  This coming Friday, March 18th, no posts at all on your blog.
2.  Please post a blog post about what you will be doing this Friday whenever possible in hopes to spread the word and whoever else would like to join in. You all can check out what Lydia of Ever-Ours did for her’s here or how we did ours here and do it your way if you’d like.  We’ll be posting a reminder post on Thursday evening on my blog too.
3. Tweet and Re-Tweet the shiznit out of the link to http://www.forjapanwithlove.com please.
4. Encourage your readers to contribute to donate shelter to Japan.
Whatever anyone can contribute will be appreciated.
Every little helps."

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I am not sure whether you can donate to ShelterBox from the UK. I have already made a donation to the British Red Cross using paypal - part of the fee that came from the previous sponsored post. You can donate to the Red Cross and other charities supporting the same appeal here. This post is not to brag about donating or make people feel guilty about contributing or how much. I just think it's important to raise awareness of issues and let people decide for themselves whether to get involved or donate money. Anyway, I will also be doing the blog silence on Friday, so things will go quite here for the rest of the week.
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Words, links and banner from UtterlyEngaged.with my words at the bottom. 

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

one from the archives

I'm a little lacking in blogging momentum this week. My computer is so full that I can't add any more photos for fear of it dying. My hormones have gone crazy again, work is extremely busy/stressful and I feel like going to bed the moment I step through the front door. For some reason though, I was looking for something I wrote on my old blog and I came across this instead. Way back when, I used to write as Little Miss Rachel. Seems I just witter on about the same old things, as even back in 2009 I was pondering ideas in relation to being a women and having children. (ignore the fact that the links probably are too old to work and that this was written in 2009)

"have a baby... it's so much more fulfilling than writing..." (Fear of Flying)

"I have been re-reading Erica Jong's Fear of Flying this weekend in preparation for tonight's book club meeting. I haven't finished it yet but the above line is spoken/shouted to the narrator by her older sister during an argument at their parents house, an event which the narrator is recalling as she muses on why she is not deliberately getting pregnant.

I then was reading the Observer Woman's magazine which is not something I usually read (M prefers the Guardian and I prefer The Times but he won) when I came across two articles, one by Rachel Cooke "...conversations I have had in which the majority of the other female's sentences began with the words: "When you have a baby..." (which I felt echoed the narrator's questioning of her sister's superior complex as a Mother in Fear of Flying) and one by Polly Vernon (defending her choice to not have/ not want children - which you would rarely see a man do).

Both were badly written/researched and left me wondering why these articles had been written. Sadly Cooke referenced the infernalAlpha Mummy blog which meant that the rather irritating Jennifer Howze picked up the story and re-published it leading to the never-ending flood of commenters struggling to justify themselves and define their positions as mothers, mostly by being exceedingly rude against any one who had made a different choice leading one poster, Expat Mum (blogger), to question "Why, I keep asking myself, must women justify their own choices by slagging everyone else off?". Indeed, even bloggers who I actually read (and respect) like Potty Mummy seemed to imply that tasks one completed as a Mother were far more important than anyone else's:

"And whilst I'm on the subject, where are all the articles written by mothers on how their childless friends are incredibly boring, self centred, obsessed by shoes and living in their own me-me-me sitcom world? Oh, I know... There aren't any. Because we know there are two sides to every story, that it never pays to generalise - and of course we are far too busy cleaning up puke and wee to get round to it". Potty Mother.

As I am just four months away from getting married and potentially beginning the years when I decide whether or not to have a family, this topic niggled. On the one hand I am hoping to have children but I do not think that having children is necessarily more fulfilling for every woman than not having them. I do not doubt that for some people having children gives them meaning that they would otherwise lack, but others, I would argue, have meaningful lives regardless of whether or not they are able to procreate. It makes me so cross, this superior attitude that some women seem to show once they become mothers.

Last night, M and I were watching 90210. In one scene, the headmaster's son bashed his car into another boy's. Words were exchanged, a quote was obtained, the money was paid back and the two lads ended the transaction by the maimed car owner inviting the payee to a basketball game. This conversation was watched by a girl who at some point in the past had been betrayed by her then best-friend in relation to something to do with divorced parents and the then-best-friend telling everyone. The two girls had not spoken since and both were still clearly affected by the situation some years later. She expressed her surprise at the lads' ability to sort things out and he in turn expressed his at girls' abilities to hold grudges. He had a point.

Even in seemingly superficial and shallow shows such as 902010 and Sex & the city these issues are being raised. Do we as girls define ourselves only in context of how we are in relation to each other? Can something only be good if we make out that girls not making this choice are somehow wrong or bad? Why do those who are mothers act superior to those without children, even going so far as to infer that those without will only understand when they have children? (Quote: SATC - Carrie "but you used to buy Manolos" Kyra "that was before I had a real life" or something similar). We need journalists who encourage us to celebrate our own individual choices and to be happy and non-judgemental for those who make their choice which differs from our own. Not articles like those by Cooke & Vernon who perpetuate the circle of 'my choice is better than yours'.

The narrator in Fear of Flying considers what it means to be defined as a women and whether or not the bearing children is an intrinsic part of being a woman. Actually, her main consideration is freedom, as a woman, and for me that includes a choice whether or not to have children. Yet I think it is worth considering how the construct of femininity sits against the choice not to have a child. Just as there are many who would argue that adolescence is a male construct and question whether is it possible to conform to the ideals of femininity and adolescence, what are those who state that women are only fulfilled when they have children doing? Is it too far to state that it seems these women define being a women by being a mother and that by implication that if you are not a mother you struggle to be a woman?"

Monday, 14 March 2011

Sponsored Posts, ebuzzing and how it works.

A while ago, when I did my first sponsored post, I was asked about the finer points about how my sponsored posts worked. You can read my response here. Ebuzzing are the people who sponsor my posts - they contact me every so often with details of companies who would like to work with bloggers and I decide whether it is the sort of alliance that I can support. (With the exception of paypal - which I do think is an important service to support - all the other sponsored posts I have written have been related to good causes in some way).

For this post, they have asked me to write about ebuzzing itself, including how you can get involved yourself too if you wish. Sponsored posts are good for both the blogger and ebuzzing as the blogger receives a small sum of money and the brand (and ebuzzing) gets exposure on the blogosphere. I appreciate that it isn't for everyone - reader and blogger both- but it allows me a small supplement to my fairly low income (which I mostly use to pay for my spotify subscription and the occasional toiletry purchase).

The perfect ebuzzing campaigns for me are ones that raise my awareness of good causes or things that I wouldn't necessarily have encountered if it weren't for the e-mails asking me if was interested in promoting but had I heard of them would have likely wrote about them regardless. Causes that have a national reach, raising money or awareness for issues which affect us all. I also like campaigns which promote discussion. So far, my sponsored posts have already raised some discussion of the issues surrounding the campaigns, which I think is fantastic, and am always keen to facilitate talking and education. In the case of the Comic Relief post, I am giving part of the fee directly back to Comic Relief (just as soon as ebuzzing pay it into my paypal account!). In fact, the perfect brand to see being promoted on an ebuzzing campaign would be one relating to womens issues, as that is something I have been writing and discussing recently. Perhaps even a Family Planning Clinic or similar?

How it works - ebuzzing contact me, I choose whether to be involved, I write a post which ebuzzing verify, I hit publish and you read (and hopefully discuss the content). I then get paid a few weeks later and when it's appropriate, transfer some of the fee to the charity/cause in question.

Find out more on ebuzzing.co.uk


Find out more on ebuzzing.co.uk


Sponsored Post

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Drink Shop & Do

IMG_0048_2


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Last Saturday I spent 8 hours at Drink Shop Do. The first four hours were engaged in discussion on a huge variety of topics with Anna and Alicia for the London meet up for the A Practical Wedding Book Group, which I also wrote about here. Once the book group was ended, I was due to meet one of my closest girl friends for the evening. Our partners were going to The Streets and we decided that we would have a few drinks, get some food and then go to another friend's birthday party in east London. I was going to go and meet her somewhere else but once the book group ended I thought it would be more fun to get her to come and join me. So she did, and we spent another three hours drinking cocktails and discussing all sorts of things (including some issues which we may never have touched on if I hadn't just spent four hours discussing all sorts of personal topics with two strangers new friends).



Drink Shop Do is part cafe, part shop, part bar, part craft emporium. As we sat there drinking our cocktails, other tables were getting stuck into some paper mache mask making. It's decked out in vintage (predominately 1950s) including Formica tables and dressers and vintage mismatched tea cups. If you take a shine to your cup, or your chair, or even your table, don't worry. It's all for sale. You can also buy old fashioned sweets and other retro gifts. Just don't take the wrong turn on the way to the loo as you'll find yourself in a sex shop. You have been warned. But go, to Drink Shop Do. It's fabulous. (and highly convenient - just 2 minutes from Kings Cross).

[edit. I can't believe I actually went somewhere before it was reviewed in the Independent]

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Drink Shop & Do

9 Caledonian Road, London, N1 9DX.
OPEN
Tuesday to Saturday 12–11pm
Sunday 12–8pm
{bottom image borrowed from Drink Shop & Do website, top two images by Alicia and borrowed from the ApracticalWedding flickr group}

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

International Women's Day - In Her Own Words

My post is up. Click here to read it on Any Other Wedding.

And welcome, if you have come here from Any Other Wedding or One Cat Per Person.

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When I was 19, my then boyfriend's sister got pregnant. Younger than me, she had a boyfriend who I did not like. He was controlling, arrogant, possessive. Immature. Quite what exactly the full circumstances surrounding the conception were, I will never know. But she told my boyfriend, who told me, that he had demanded she prove that she love him - and to do this by having unprotected sex with him. How true that is and was is unclear but, needless to say, she ended up pregnant and he disappeared off into the night. Rebecca ended the summer between A levels and university having an abortion and being taken on an expensive holiday to "recover". Quite the summer.

I was furious. Already angry with myself, with her brother with whom I knew our relationship was disintegrating but I couldn't quite extricate myself from, battling with recovering from depression, irritated by the world in general, I raged. To my mother, mainly. Furious with Rebecca for putting herself in such a position, furious with Dan, her arsehole boyfriend and for the system which "allowed" her to have an abortion because she asked for one.

Ten years ago, which is how long ago this was, my views were - rightly or wrongly - drawn out in black and white. Based mainly on abstract points of view and two years of a philosophy A-level. Whilst I supported abortion in some circumstances, I rather felt that if you chose to have sex, you chose the risk, and with that risk the responsibility. That if you accepted the risk and responsibility, you dealt with the consequences. Don't like it? Don't have sex. It does still pain me that there are teenagers using abortions like contraception and other women desperate for babies but unable to conceive, but I think my 19 year old self was a little (a lot?) naive.

Recently, I have read a bit about the House of Representatives (in the US) attempts to reform laws which relate to pregnancy and abortion (although of course, just because the House of Representatives thinks it is ok, doesn't mean it will actually become law) and realised, to my shame, my 19 year old self thought in a comparably similar way [about abortion in black and white terms, not about rape]. Essentially, I thought I knew better than Rebecca. That someone other than her should be able to dictate what her decisions should be. I still struggle with the concept that the 'father' has no rights over the an unborn child but I cannot see any other decision being ok than being pro-choice. To suggest that before any abortion is allowed that the mother must have a sonogram (like the Texas House has passed) before signing a document agreeing that she has seen the foetus and heard it's heart beat [even if that foetus is a product of a rape] and that she *still* agrees to it's termination. To declare the equivalent of our family planning clinics 'hospitals' so that they are unable to raise the funding to comply with statutory regulations for hospitals. To deny women the opportunity to have confidential family planning advice. That's not going to reduce abortion. It's going to force women into illegal and dangerous situations.

But for Rebecca, what did I really think the alternative would have been? That having the baby would have been better for both her and the baby? That instead of going to university she would have become a single mother, limiting her earning potential? Did I not feel similarly judgemental when, after breaking up with that then boyfriend, he went on to have 2 children with his much younger girlfriend, a girlfriend whose mother and grandmother have never worked, and with whom he and the girlfriend live with the children in a council house, claiming benefits. That would have been Rebecca's alternative. Forcing her to have the child at any cost - to the mother, to the family, to the state. [That, or an illegal abortion].

I'm not saying Rebecca made the right choice. Or even that she made the wrong choice. I suspect she didn't even feel she had a choice. But she did. And I judged her for making it. And to think that a free thinking country is even considering removing that choice, well, that feels as naive as my 19 year old self was. I really hope that 'they' realise that, like I did, before it's too late.

[all names have been changed]

"In Her Own Words: In Celebration of International Women's Day 2011" was created to share and celebrate the experiences of women from many walks of life. All day Tuesday, March 8th Any Other Wedding and One Cat Per Person will feature posts written by a collective of intelligent, passionate and opinionated women bloggers from the United States and the United Kingdom. We encourage you to comment and create dialouge as well as visit their respective blogs. The conversation starts here, but it does not need to end here. Be sure to stop by Any Other Wedding and One Cat Per Person throughout the day to read all of the posts in the series. For more information about International Women's Day, visit http://www.internationalwomensday.com/.










Banner: Joshua Gomby

International Women's Day

If you clicked over here from your google reader or similar, expecting to find the post that I accidentally published first thing this morning, you will find it back up later, once it has run on Any Other Wedding.

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"In Her Own Words: In Celebration of International Women's Day 2011" was created to share and celebrate the experiences of women from many walks of life. All day Tuesday, March 8th Any Other Wedding and One Cat Per Person will feature posts written by a collective of intelligent, passionate and opinionated women bloggers from the United States and the United Kingdom. We encourage you to comment and create dialouge as well as visit their respective blogs. The conversation starts here, but it does not need to end here. Be sure to stop by Any Other Wedding and One Cat Per Person throughout the day to read all of the posts in the series. For more information about International Women's Day, visit http://www.internationalwomensday.com/.










Banner: Joshua Gomby

Friday, 4 March 2011

The Bitch in the House (ed. Cathi Hanauer)

This weekend I am hoping to go to the London meet up of the A Practical Wedding Book Group. The past few books, I have neither been in London on the right weekend, nor managed to read the book in time. But this time, I ordered the book in good time, have actually read it and am looking forward to the discussions that (the small) group will have.

I have to say, I find it hard to relate to a lot of the essays contained within the book [The Bitch in the House (ed. Cathi Hanauer)]. Each essay is basically an insight into each author's life and issues and the essays are roughly connected into groups which deal with marriage, motherhood, sex and body issues. I may be married but I don't relate to a lot of the marriages described within the book. I am not sure how much I want to say about sex on this blog (given that, among others who read this blog include my sister, my best friend, my Grandmother-in-law and I suspect quite a few friends/acquaintances since every now and then things pop up in conversation regarding the blog) but I do not think it would come as a surprise to anyone that my husband and I do have sex, we are not in an open marriage and we are very much into each other. Passionate if you will. Sex is and always has been very important to us. I would go so far as to say that I think sex is a fundamental part of a marriage or relationship - of our marriage - and I think for a marriage or relationship to succeed, sex is one of the areas in which equality is essential and compromise will only pave the way for issues to grow. And by that I do not mean compromise as in taking it in turns to be the instigator or to choose the position. I mean compromise in how much and how important it is in the relationship.

I found the article on open relationships particularly disturbing. Not in content, because there was no graphic descriptions, but in the sadness that emanated from the page. And also because I know a couple who are (or were) in an open relationship and I could see their faces on the names of the author and her husband.

The articles on motherhood I found, frankly, terrifying. Off putting. And, I've no doubt, extremely honest. I would say I am already the bitch in the house (as in, perfectly lovely at work but quite "happy" [not happy but I still do it anyway] to take out my hormones and frustrations at my husband. Who isn't perfect but certainly doesn't deserve rage on the level he gets. I am already prone to anger when hungry or riled or feeling defensive. I have an ability to choose the best, most satisfying, most cutting words, often dished out to those who least deserve it, and it worries me enormously that these might be dealt out to a child.

I've just started the chapter on body issues which I plan to finish on the train to London tonight. As a tall and skinny girl and only slightly curvier woman [I have issues with that word. I may be almost 30 but I still feel uncomfortable describing myself as a woman] I have been blessed with less body issues than most. I, for the most part, feel entirely comfortable in my body (flaws and all) and have no problem with swimming costumes or nudity (in the right environment - communal changing rooms etc). What I do have a problem with is the idea that you can't tell someone they are too fat but people constantly feel they can question my weight (as in, there's not enough of it, apparently). I eat. I exercise (not much, sex and 2 hours of dancing a week). I am healthy (within reason). There is no need to comment. Worse still, if you are skinny, you are apparently not entitled to be unhappy with your body. I may not have *put on weight* but I have gained fat in places it wasn't 3 years ago - hips, tummy etc. But apparently it is not ok to discuss this if you are deemed skinny.

I am looking forward to the discussions that this book will bring, both in person and either here or on the APW page.

[I commented to my husband how I thought blogging had opened my eyes. Before I started blogging there is no way I would have thought I was a feminist. I am gradually realising that I have always believed in choice. Educated choice. This really hit home last week during the dance show when the other ladies, many of them mums, were talking about their husbands. How they expected supper on the table to be provided for by mum, even if both had been at work all day and even if mum was in the dance show. How all the child care arrangements were left to mum. How some of them had to drive their child home during the interval because it would inconvenience the husband to come out and get them, before racing back to perform  in the second half. I found myself asking why they did not share child care evenly and why their husbands couldn't cook their own supper. The reaction was one of mild curiosity - as if they had never considered that there was an alternative.]