Sunday, 29 January 2012

Project 365+1 Days 22 - 28

Another busy week here, but I've been hoping to get some book review type posts written to break up the monotony of just weekly Project 365+1 posts.

It's actually been one of those busy weeks where looking back at these photos I've been kind of thinking "wait, when did I take that". I actually had to check the datestamps on them to check when I'd taken them!

Day 22: Spoils
On Sunday we had lunch with my in-laws as usual, so I just snapped a quick photo of all the things we'd picked up while shopping in Glasgow the day before. We've got the sewing books I treated myself to (one of my Day Zero Project plans is to make something for the house, I'm thinking of having a go at tackling a curtain for the spare room, which should be a relatively easy project), the Moriarty book which we picked up for Mr. Click, £10 worth of vest tops to wear under my work shirts (because flashing your colleagues is not cool), shaving stuff for Mr. Click's funky shaver, LOADS of tape (you can never have too much), my shiny new address book (that I'm still to get round to actually writing something in) and the bargain of the day - The Sound of Music and Moulin Rouge which were on a two blu-rays for £15 offer (but with my gift voucher worked out at £5 each)!

Day 23: It's Not Terry's...
On Monday (yeah, I said it's been one of those weeks, I actually had to check the calendar to make sure of the day) we watched something... I want to say Spooks... it might have been a film... and carried on working on the jigsaw puzzle on the coffee table. Of course, it had been a long day and we needed some energy food - so we cracked out the Terry's Chocolate Orange from the bottom of my Christmas Stocking.

It didn't last long! ;-)

Day 24: A Mouthpiece Or Two
Mr. Click had a band rehearsal on Tuesday and the minute that I walked in and saw these mouthpieces all lined up, I knew that it was going to be my photo of the day. Of course, I almost forgot to take it, but I was quite pleased with how it turned out. It doesn't actually mean anything, but I just like the way it looks.

Day 25: Still Puzzling
By Wednesday we were still working on the big puzzle that had taken over the living room table, so this photo sums up the evening quite well. In between reading The Road To Middle-earth (a book which I've had for ages and always thought would be heavy reading, but which is actually really linguistically-based and which I'm totally loving) we added pieces to the puzzle and got to yet another of those difficult bit where everything was either brown, black or red and the only way to progress was to try each piece anywhere it might fit.

The bottom book on the pile is one of the HTV book club books (chosen by Jen, who's also letting me borrow this copy, so I have to hurry up and finish The Road To Middle-earth so I can get it sent on to the next person due to read it). It arrived Wednesday lunch time and looks pretty good so it's next on my list to read.

Day 26: And They Lived Happily Ever After
This is actually a photo that I've almost taken (and have taken, but haven't used) several times during the course of this month for my Project 365+1. It was one of the first things we put up when we moved in. The photo is a Victorian style photo taken when we were on holiday in Whitby before we got married and the words hanging beneath it were given as a house warming present by some very good friends. There was already a hook on the wall which I was able to hang the words from, but I knew straight away that I wanted our photo to go above it.

Day 27: What's For Ye...
And this is another gift from the same friends who gave us '... and they lived happily ever after', this time a 'Happy New Year' present when they joined us for drinks after the new year. It's actually normally on our windowsill (we're waiting to see what it'll turn out to be, so far we've just got a green shoot). I just liked the idea of putting it next to the little sign hanging on the wall.

And finally, after having a bit of a mixed bag of a day on Saturday, we snuggled up on the sofa with some lovely omelettes (stuffed with giant mushrooms) and watched The Sound of Music (not putting it into the blu-ray player until well after 8pm, so it didn't finish until almost 12am)! While we watched, we ploughed on with the puzzle. We've been dipping into it on mornings before work, when we've finished our tea on an evening, waiting for one or the other, and so on. But it suddenly became clear that there was very little left to add to the puzzle and we were going to finish it that night.

So we did:
Day 28: A Thief In The Night
And that's what it looked like shortly before midnight (and so beating out the equally interesting photo of Mr. Click's coursework bag which had been the original photo that I was going to use for the day).

So that's yet another thing I can tick off on my Day Zero Project. So I think I'm getting through them at a fairly good rate. I've got plans for my knitted item (that I'm going to actually buy the wool for and knit with that project in mind), I'm still working on my hat/scarf/gloves set for myself, and reading about Tolkien writing Lord of the Rings is proving a real incentive to get my Behind The Scenes story finished (not that I have any plans to do anything with it, but I've been working on it in one form or another, on and off, for almost ten years now, Abby, Jack, Alex et al deserve some closure now)!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Project 365+1 Days 15 - 21

I so very nearly did a 365+1 update earlier this week. I had an internet connection and everything, so I might have actually managed to make a proper blog post (rather than a quick potted summary of my week). But I just couldn't summon up the energy (I was dying with a cold at the time).

Instead, here's an overview of my week.

On Saturday night I was supposed to go out for a friend's surprise birthday party. Dying with the cold as I was, I never actually managed get changed out of my pyjamas during the day, let alone into something nice. As the jewellery part of my outfit I had planned to wear one of my Christmas presents from Mr. Click, a beautiful locket that he popped into my Christmas stocking for me.

Instead I wore it to pretty up my outfit on Sunday instead, and took a photo that evening to commemorate wearing it for the first time.
Day 15: With All My Heart
Monday was a work day, on the early shift, which is actually one of my favourites. I was snotty and sweaty all day, so it was nice to get home early, shower and make myself feel a bit more human. We had an early night and snuggled up to watch stuff in bed on the laptop, with a nice big mug of hot chocolate.
Day 17: Hot Hot Hot Chocolate
I've had my big hot chocolate mug for years (for Christmas I got a much smaller, slightly more practical hot chocolate mug with Disney Princesses on it, hehe). It's only since taking this photo that I've realised that my biscuits were slightly out of date, oh well, perhaps I've just found the cure for the common cold - by the next day I was feeling much better.

On Tuesday I won a competition at work, earning me a £5 gift voucher. After checking it out online I realised that pretty much all of the shops I was planning on going into during that Saturday's shopping trip would accept it. Definitely a much better prize than chocolates or wine (although if my employers want to give me bottles of wine, or chocolates, or hampers, I'll be more than willing to accept them)!

Day 17: A Prize-Winning Bookmark
The book I was reading at the time was Longitude by Dava Sobel. It was quite interesting, about John Harrison's invention of a clock to measure longitude at sea. Unfortunately, it came about after the author wrote an article and someone suggested that she write a book on the subject, it was interesting and well-written, but had that 'article-feeling' to it. It wouldn't have felt out of place in a national newspaper with some big bold pictures around it.

Wednesday we had friends round for a bit of a catch-up (this was a night we'd been planning since around Christmas, but Christmas, New Year, a power cut and bad weather all got in the way). We had a great time. Dug out nibbles and wine from the Hamper I won before Christmas and ate, drank and chatted.

Day 18: Bottom's Up!
My in-laws gave me a big bottle of Peach Schnapps for Christmas, which I started work on during the blackout (it just drove me to drink I guess). I had two rather large glasses during the night which made taking photos a bit tricky when I got back that night. Of course, the almost empty bottle seemed like a logical thing to take a picture of.
Day 19: Practice Makes Perfect
For Day 19 I took a picture of my husband practicing (the cornet I took my first photo of the year of). I had kind of planned out the way I wanted it to look, though it didn't really turn out the way I'd hoped because the room we were working in was a bit too small for me to get the angle I wanted. The lighting wasn't great either and try as I might, there was no way I could get the focus to fall exactly where I wanted it.

Also I was balancing on a bed, which didn't really help with the focusing issues.

Meanwhile, I've still been working on my Day Zero Project (I've actually managed to tick a few things off this week - getting an address book for example and winning a competition, woo hoo!) and this has included continuing to work on the jigsaw puzzle, which is becoming quite the challenge.

Mainly because it's basically a TARDIS in disguise. It's totally illogical but somehow, the inside is wider than the outside. The outside doesn't all join up properly, so we started work on the middle, which now looks something like this:
Day 20: Even More Puzzling
As you can see, it's joined up in one continuous picture, it's even joined to the bottom edge in several places all the way along. What you can't see is that just to the right it continues right past the right side edge piece and there's no way of adding to any of the bottom edge in the middle. It's truly bizarre. All we can do is keep working at it and hope that it comes together in the end... or not, as the case may be.

And yesterday?

Well yesterday we woke up to what sounded like gale force winds and briefly debated going back to bed, rather than attempting to make it to Mr. Click's tutorial. But we decided that the least we could do was try and at least that way we could go back to our nice warm bed without feeling too guilty.

Once down on the seafront, it wasn't particularly windy and the boats ran. And it wasn't even very rocky, so we relaxed and decided that if for whatever reason we couldn't get back, we'd book into a hotel room and see a film (so I was kind of disappointed when we managed to get home without any problems).

In Glasgow we went to HMV to spent my gift voucher on a Disney blu-ray. Though they had pretty much no choice - it was A Bug's Life or one we already had. So we looked around and found a two for £15 offer on a bunch of other blu-rays. £10 and my voucher got a The Sound of Music and Moulin Rouge. I've been wanting to rewatch Moulin Rouge for ages, so yay!

While Mr. Click was in his tutorial I treated myself to some nice new vest tops for work and then spent far too long in Waterstones looking for a book for myself. We went back when Mr. Click was done and bought a book for him and eventually I settled on a little set of craft books for myself as well.

Of course, I planned on taking a photo of all the goodies we picked up yesterday. But the weather had other plans. We got home, had tea, got the girls out and relaxed. Spooks had just finished and we were starting to get ready for bed when the power went out. That proved fun - trying to get four wiggly girl rats back into the cage using nothing but a mobile phone and a torch with no battery.

In the end I settled for a photo of the bookshelf with the little pretend candle we were using to illuminate the room:
Day 21: Blackout Bookshelf
The reason I took the photo of that particular shelf is because I'm currently reading the second Kathy Reichs book in the series there (hence the gap). The flash showing that we kind of need to dust a bit is just an added bonus, hehe.

So that's me all caught up once again. And I'm now approximately 4% of the way through Project 365+1. Yay. Still working on my Day Zero Project, though the thing that's causing some problems at the moment is the knitting challenge I gave myself.

I decided to change "Knit something each month" to "Complete each project I start" purely because I'm being very tempted by a blanket pattern at the moment and it's unlikely that I'll finish the scarf I started by the end of January.

I did actually mean to bring out my scarf with me to work on today but we then woke up to no power again (it did come back on last night after an hour or so) so we just dragged ourselves out of bed and left the house earlier than planned. Thankfully I live in Scotland, so wearing a scarf in the summer (which is probably when I will finish it) won't make me look too out of place, hehe.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Project 365+1 Days 8 - 14

I've spent most of this week polishing up my assignment ready to submit (which I managed to do this morning *little celebration*). In between frantically looking up things I want to include in my assignment and trying to cut down my word count, I have managed to squeeze in the odd photo each day though.

Of course, I've not really done anything exciting this week - there hasn't even been a powercut to add a bit of interest to my photos, which means I've been reduced to taking photos such as this:
Day 8: A Good Night's Sleep
In my defense, this picture was actually taken to show what my nice new duvet cover (which my Uncle got me for Christmas) looks like. We also treated ourselves to a nice new mattress topper (well, if you're going to have a fancy new duvet cover, you might as well go all out and have something snuggly to sleep on as well). It's one of those funky memory foam things and there's already two little dips on either side of the bed with a little ridge in between them, definitely worth the money though, it's like sleeping on a new bed.

When there's little of general interest happening in your life, you can always fall back on that good old Project 365 standby, take photos of your food:
Day 9: Sweet and Sour
That's my very yummy tea from the 9th of January; ham and pork leftovers in sweet and sour sauce. Our dinner plates are massive and there was far too much there for me, I ended up sharing it with the rats. I've also just noticed that Father Christmas is still standing in front of the bookcase - he has finally made it back into the cupboard upstairs now.

As I said, I've been hard at work on my OU assignment, that looks something like this:
Day 10: All Work
Yeah, my method for study is basically to write the essay, fill in where the references will be used and then scribble all over it noting more bits that I need to include. Sometimes this is extended to crossing out large chunks of it to get it down to an actual submittable length.

And of course, you need to take a break from studying. Now that we've finished watching the Christmas films we've got back onto Spooks. We've only got one more episode of series six left to watch, so as a reward for submitting my assignment I've ordered the next two series.

The next day Mr. Click managed to find a treat for me in a local charity shop:
Day 11: A Discovery
After a quick bit of rearranging on my Tolkien bookshelf, it's slotted in quite nicely between my Tolkien biography and Inkheart. My bookshelf has been very carefully arranged so that each shelf has a different series of books on it. Top of the pile is the Discworld series of books that I'm currently working through. The Tolkien book and DVD set is going to have to wait a couple of weeks to get looked at, but it's got some lovely pictures in it.

By Day 12 I was starting to run out of things to take photos of, which does not bode well for the next three-hundred-odd days of pictures I'm supposed to be taking. So you can expect to see quite a few more pictures like this:
Day 12: Time for Tea
Each night Mr. Click gets our breakfast stuff set up in the kitchen, so in the morning he just needs to roll out of bed, flick a switch or two and come back to bed until things have finished boiling or beeping. You can probably guess that mine is the mug on the right, not pictured is the pack of croissants that we got for breakfast on Friday the 13th, they were very yummy.

And then there's the Day Zero Project that I'm working on. Point number 83 on the list is to knit myself a hat, gloves/mittens and scarf set for myself. I've already made the hat (in some lovely red and green wool), and I've got the fingerless gloves sorted (apart from sewing them up) so it's just the scarf left to do now, but I'm working on it:
Day 13: Work in Progress
Shortly before taking this picture I completely cocked up a whole row and had to unpick the whole thing, since taking this it's grown by another fifty-something rows and is just about long enough to wrap around my throat, so only another half a million or so rows to go. And then I've got to weave in the ends, something which I really avoid whenever I can. But I can't wait to have a matching set of woollens that I've made all by myself.

Another of my Day Zero Project challenges is for Mr. Click and I to complete a jigsaw puzzle together. On Saturday I had more or less completely my assignment and had come down with a fantastic cold, so I pretty much wanted to do nothing more than veg on the sofa. So we dug out a jigsaw puzzle I acquired at a fete in Inverary many years ago and set it up on the coffee table:
Day 14: It's a Puzzle
I thought it seemed like a fitting choice (partly because I now only own two jigsaw puzzles and I have actually completed the other one in the past), but also because it features a picture of Smaug from The Hobbit by Greg and Tim Hildebrant (who did most of the pictures in the book that Mr. Click bought me earlier in the week).

Of course, it's a rectangular puzzle which is slightly wider than our round coffee table, so we rigged up an extension with some Amazon packaging material blu-tacked onto the table. We did the classic thing, trying to find the edge pieces, of which we managed to miss several and we've still not managed to complete the outside because I think I put some bits together wrong. So we moved on to filling in the middle which is also difficult because it consists of mostly red, yellow and dark (dark brown, dark grey, black, just general darkness). I didn't realise it at the time that I put the challenge onto the list, but this could potentially be the most difficult challenge I assigned myself!

So that's my week in seven pictures. This week may actually be slightly more interesting, considering we have friends coming round one evening, we've got First Aid one night and I also have a couple of days training at work.

I might even find time to post an actual interesting blog post even!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Blackout! & Project 365+1 Days 3 - 7

I've been unable to update my blog for pretty much all of this week due to a lack of power. It all started on the morning of the third, at about 7:15am when, whilst lying snuggled in bed enjoying the last fifteen minutes of reading time, the lights unexpectedly went off.

We'd been listening to the wind blowing outside for the hour before that and had been expecting a power cut. We weren't particularly alarmed, just slightly annoyed that neither of us had thought to charge our phones while we had a chance. There was a bit of debate about who would get to use the big torch and who would make do with the blinky light on our phones to get up/get dressed/go to the bathroom but we got on with our morning routine as normal.
Day 3: Power Cut
Outside the wind was wild so we left for work early expecting trouble on the roads. It didn't take us long to find it; a massive tree down across one of the roads on the Estate where we live. Through the woods we could see blue flashing lights and assumed that firefighters were trying to get through to clear that road out. We carried on and almost made it onto the main road when we found the top of a tree covering the road.

After doing a many-point-turn, we headed out the other end of the Estate, onto the main road and turned in the direction of town. We'd gone just a few dozen metres when we came to a halt: another tree blocking the way. Lather, rinse and repeat in the other direction. So we headed home, resigned to the fact that we would be stuck at home for the rest of the day.

We played a board game and I worked on my OU course work for a while before we decided to make another go of it. Several trees were still down but they'd cleared the way through the one blocking the road, quite literally 'through', by just the chopping out and hauling off the road of the bit in the way.

Luckily my work is powered by a generator, so I had heating, lighting and internet access for the day, but back home we were in darkness. And it hadn't returned by the following morning.

Wednesday was basically a repeat of Tuesday. We stopped with my in-laws who have a gas heater in their living room and a gas hob for warming water. Except that we had to make a dash home to collect clothes and our rats. When we'd left the day before we had been expecting the power to be back by that evening, so we'd packed them up snuggly with plenty of food and bedding, just in case we didn't make it back. By Wednesday it was clear that we needed to go and collect them.

We made it back onto the Estate without any problems and then found another tree across the road. The wind had started to get up again and we were worried about the road being blocked in the other direction too so we decided to park up and walk back to the house, retrieve the girls and other necessities and then walk back to the car. Easily the least sensible thing we could have done considering the fact that it involved walking along a half-mile tree-lined avenue in high winds that were bringing trees down left, right and centre!

It was scary as hell, but within half and hour we were back in the car with rats, clean clothes, phone chargers (ever hopeful the power would return), OU books and notes and my laptop (which had no charge left on the battery).

Of course, by the second night of the power cut the batteries in the torches were starting to run low and we were beginning to get low on candles:
Day 4: Candle Light
Thursday brought a new development; no power or phone lines! Apparently the back up generator had failed there and left us even more cut off. By this point the BBC had got wind of the story as well and made a nice little report about how we were still totally cut off without power and the council arranged for catering vans to come over and supply free food to anyone without power.

Ironically, it was just at this point that the power did come back on, for at least some of the island. Of course our house wasn't one of the ones lucky enough to get electricity, so it was another night away from home for us. I did manage to get my laptop plugged in and charged and word sent to my tutor explaining the problems we were having. I even managed to get my assignment printed off and it was a relief not to have to try working by candle light.
Day 5: Catching Up
By Friday, as far as I'm aware, we were still on generator power, but only a few houses we still without. Ours being one of them. It did come and go, Mr. Click went home during the day to take down the Christmas tree and do some housework and there was power, but by the time we'd got home that evening, it was off again. We didn't even unpack the car, just got back in and headed straight out again.
Day 6: Roots
At least I was able to sit and read without straining my eyes - I'm seriously in need of another eye test and I don't think the candlelight reading has particularly helped matters. Roots has been my first book of the year and I'm still ploughing through it, I read it many years ago but it's taking me much longer this time. I think partly because I've read The Book of Negroes since then as well and I'm comparing it that as I go along, but also because I've learnt more about the time period since then as well. That and it's quite heavy going in places so I'm finding it harder to devour it the way I might do with a fluffy or lighter novel.

This copy actually belonged to my Grampy and it's been very well read over the years. I remember seeing it on his bookshelves and it's nice to see it on mine now. The pages still smell like him as well.

For a portion of Saturday our house was still without power and there was some debate about whether or not we would make it home that day. Luckily it came back and we were able to spend our first night in our own bed since the power cut began.

Mr. Click had already been home and taken the decorations down, which I was a little disappointed about because I'd hoped to take photos of them going down (just as we'd taken photos of putting them up). But he left them all out for me so I could arrange them into a nice Project 365+1 photo before they went back into the cupboard for the year.

This was my favourite photo of the lot:
Day 7: Father Christmas
This was the first Christmas ornament we bought together. He's ceramic and wooden, dressed in fancy furs, a proper traditional Father Christmas with a staff. Before we lived together he visited our homes on alternate Christmases. He's standing next to the Christmas tree box which is overflowing with ornaments (which fitted in there fine when we took them out but just don't seem to fit back in there now). I decided to fiddle around with this one and although I took it in colour, I think it looks quite nice in black and white. Christmas is all about the colours so it seems fitting to have a monochrome picture of the aftermath.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Project 365+1: Day 2 - Course work

Day 2:
Course work
I was fairly certain that the photo I took today would be of my OU stuff, mainly in the hopes that it would inspire me to actually do some of it because I have an assignment due in next week.

One of my wisdom teeth decided to celebrate the New Year by making the whole right side of my face ache, so I didn't have much luck getting off to sleep. It was 11pm when we turned off the light and I managed to still be awake at twelve. Of course, I probably should have gotten up and taken a painkiller, but I was being stubborn.

I did manage to drift off sometime after twelve, then woke suddenly just before 2am. It was weird, I went from having some random dream to being wide awake. I'm guessing the sound of the wind or the girls making a noise did it. Whatever it was, I was wide awake.

I lay trying to drift off for about an hour during which time I started planning the dreaded assignment. By 3am I realised that I had probably written the introduction to the essay three times and decided that I would be just as well getting up and working on it. Which I did, using the torch on my phone so I didn't have to put the light on.

By 5am I'd managed to locate some painkillers and had written approximately 1600 words of the assignment, including a particularly memorable section discussing the linguistically creative elements that can be found on a train ticket, hence its inclusion in the picture above. Suffice to say, my late night assignment writing seems to have done the trick and I have a passable first draft of my essay done now.

And I did get some sleep eventually, after spending two hours playing on my computer, I closed my eyes an hour before the alarm went off, was woken by the alarm so switched it off and then slept on for almost an hour and a half after that. Oops.

Oh well, at least today is a bank holiday.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Project 365+1: Day 1 - A Family Heirloom

I attempted Project 365 officially a couple of years ago (and unofficially, i.e. trying to take a photo a day but not realising that other people did it too, the year before that) and failed miserably. This year I decided that I would try to actually do it, and learn how to use my camera in the process.

I did find a good list of prompts online as my main problem in past years has been keeping up momentum. Once I've taken a photo of my bookshelf, I don't really want to take another one. But hopefully I can use the prompts to motivate myself and find new ways of taking the same photos.

This is the result of Day 1:
A Family Heirloom
The cornet belongs to my husband and as soon as I saw the prompt 'A Family Heirloom' I knew what I wanted to take a photo of. He inherited it from his great-uncle (who you can see in the photo) and it's been in the family since it was made in 1898. Someday, hopefully, it'll be passed on to one of our children.

I would have liked to take a photo of all of Mr. Click's instruments lined up with the cornet out in front, but then I had the idea to include the photo of its previous owner and the case (also original, so over 100 years old). I did have a bit of trouble trying to find somewhere to take the picture and if I did it again I wouldn't take it so close to the window because it created that big white patch on the edge of the instrument.

Now my only problem is that I spent ages planning what I was going to take for my first photo, so I've not put too much thought into my second one. Perhaps I should take some photos of my course books, in the hopes it will inspire me to open them and shake off the post-Christmas funk so I can get the essay written that's due in next week.

You can follow my Project 365 progress here.

I've also started a Day Zero Project. The idea is to make a list of 101 things you want to do or achieve in 1001 days (roughly 2.75 years) and to keep track of your progress. I've been having great fun coming up with random things I'd like to do, I'm about halfway through now.