Thursday, 31 March 2011

#23 The Things I Won't Miss

  • Trying to manoeuvre the "tank" off the narrow drive way without scraping the paintwork. 
  • Driving the "tank" through the city during rush hour. 
  • Having to work 24/36/72 hours straight. 
  • Sleep-ins.
  • Shifts changing at short notice and without advanced warning. 
  • Having to work Sundays.
  • The screaming. 
  • The risk of being attacked/having something thrown at me. 
  • The unfair and unequal treatment of staff. 
  • The lack of communication. 
  • The lack of care. 

The list could go on... Just one week and six days to go!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

#22 Peanut Butter Memories

Today at work I supported my client while she made Peanut Butter Cookies. They were so good (and for want of something better to write about) that I am going to share the recipe with you. I am unable to reference the recipe because the source wasn't feature on the photocopied page we worked from. 

50g (2oz) butter
75g (3oz) soft light brown sugar
100g (4oz) crunchy peanut butter
50g (2oz) self raising flour
50g (2oz) rolled oats
1 medium egg
50g (2oz) roasted, unsalted peanuts

1) Grease two baking trays with butter. Turn the oven onto 170 degrees Celsius (325 degrees Fahrenheit/Gas Mark 3). 

2) Put the butter, sugar and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat until light and creamy. 

3) Sieve the self raising flour onto the mixture. Add the oats and stir well. 

4) Press the mixture with your fingers, the fold it in half and press again. Repeat until it makes a soft dough. 

5) Take a small piece of the mixture in your hand and shape it into a small ball. Place on the baking tray and flatten slightly with your hand. 

6) Beat the egg in a separate bowl. Brush the top of each cookie with some beaten egg. 

7) Break the peanuts into smaller pieces and sprinkle over each cookie. They will stick to the egg. 

8) Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool. 

The recipe should make 12 cookies. Ours came out well although they were rather crumbly!

And now for some peanut butter related memories!

I can't remember how old I was when I discovered peanut butter. There was a time when I would always have peanut butter sandwiches in my lunch box, but I think at one point I got quite sick of them. I remember once really struggling to eat one as I was so bored of the taste. 

However, my taste for peanut butter revived in my late teens. I often had peanut butter on toast for tea during my first year at university when I was living in halls of residence. 

When we went to Brittany, the summer before last, I was delighted to discover a market stall (run by an Englishman) that sold peanut butter muffins. They were delicious. I particularly loved the gooey peanut butter icing on the top. 

Peanut butter also tastes great in savoury meals. Once, when holidaying abroad, I discovered chicken-satay, skewered chicken coated in a peanut butter sauce. My mum and I, who are the only two members of the family who can stand peanut butter, absolutely adored it!

I like peanut butter best on toasted crumpets!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

#21 Nothing Much

Blogging every day in Lent is harder than I thought it would be! I don't have all that much for you tonight. My inspiration is seriously running dry. I'm just so busy dashing around everywhere, that I don't have time to notice the beautiful, exciting, interesting things that inspire me, or if I do, I don't have the energy to really focus and reflect on them, and work them into a piece of writing. And that saddens me. 

It is thrilling to think that two weeks from Thursday I will have more time. I hope to fill that with a few more work hours otherwise I won't be able to save for a wedding and a house, but even if I do eventually go back to working full time, I certainly won't ever be working the amount of hours I have been working! And I get to sleep in my own bed every night! 

Monday, 28 March 2011

#20 Just a Quickie

I had my first day of induction today at Sainsbury's. It was a worthwhile day, but now I am absolutely shattered. I think I received more training today than I ever have done at my current job! And I have another day of it tomorrow. This week will be a hard one. After my two training days I have four pretty full days at my current job, which I'm not looking forward to at all. I just have to keep reminding myself that I have a fortnight to go and then I'll be free of it forever! 

I got my uniform today! I've never had a uniform for work before and I'm really excited about it. Watch this space for pictures! Lol

Sunday, 27 March 2011

#19 Change of Perspective

You may remember that I arranged to meet a woman about a nannying position, but unsure whether I was doing the right thing. Well, the meeting took place yesterday...

We met for coffee at a restaurant just down the road from me. I was feeling a bit downcast due to another interview being cancelled as the job had been withdrawn, and a bit anxious about the meeting ahead, even though it was just an informal chat. The woman was absolutely charming, and not the least bit intimidating. Neither of us had really prepared for our meeting, but we chatted with ease for a full hour. I was able to ask pretty much everything I meant to ask, and her answers dissolved any uncertainties I had about the job. In fact, I feel pretty sure that the job is just what I'm looking for at this point in life. I'm now really excited about the role available. We have arranged to meet up next month so that I can meet her daughter, who will be my charge if I am successful. 

So there you have it, a complete change of perspective. And a post that's a whole lot happier than yesterday's. Funny how disappointment is often matched with a double dose of hopefulness. At least, that's how things seem to be for me. I am never down for long!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

#18 Missed Opportunity

This is what it's like: 

With great care, you stalk it, waiting for the right moment to pounce. Or sometimes you don't even know it's there. In the first instance, you wait a beat too long and it senses you there. In the second, you stumble on a tree root. Either way, it flies up a monkey puzzle tree and perches on a branch way over your head. Even when you jump you can't grab it. All you can do is wait and hope it will venture down again, or prowl away and hope something better will appear. 

I had a little bit of a disappointment this morning. This is all I feel like writing today, but I feel better for it. 

Friday, 25 March 2011

Thursday, 24 March 2011

#16 The Hiding Place

When I was eight, my parents decided it was time to move again. My brothers and I accompanied them when they looked at the house that we were to move into a few months later. It was a beautiful day in late spring or early summer, and my brothers and I roamed the garden that was, at that point, foreign to us. A path ran up the left side, leading up to the green house and then going off at a right-angle. The right side of the garden was grassed over. The three of us took great delight in running circuits around the garden while the adults talked. We were so preoccupied that we missed something of great importance. 

'The lady showed us a brilliant hiding place,' my mother told us on the way home. 

We begged her to tell us, but she said we would have to wait and see. 

I remembered that conversation the day we moved in. I should have been at school but I was ill. It was a grim September day, a Friday if I remember correctly. While the furniture was lifted in, I pottered around the garden, feeling bored. It was then that I discovered the 'hiding place'. There was a tree roughly in the middle of the garden; not a particularly tall tree as it's long branches stooped, so low that they practically touched the ground. I parted them and found a little hollow, just big enough for one or two small children. 

When I was older I learned that it was a willow tree. Apparently willow trees are unlucky, and ours did blow over in a gale several years later, but it brought us great joy, and was the focal point of many games of 'hide and seek' during my childhood. 

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

#15 Days Like These

Oh, how blissful it was to wake up to another day of sunshine! It was so warm today I even shed my fleece and was comfortable enough in just a thin sweater. I wasn't feeling so great when I got up today, which perhaps had something to do with the prospect of a 42.5 hour shift ahead (the longest shift I have to do before I leave), but the second day of sunshine lifted my spirits and made me forget my concerns. Still, the morning was a leisurely one as I didn't need to be at work until after 3pm. I ate breakfast in the conservatory with Treasure, and could easily have remained all day in my armchair, bathed in a patch of sunlight, with a good book or working away at my novel (which is back on track again!)

Because Spud was out at a car boot sale (the first of the year) I didn't rush out to his place, so I decided to work on my jigsaw puzzle, which often gets neglected because normally I reserve all my free time for writing and reading. The puzzle is a difficult one as it is a big picture consisting of thousands of smaller images. I sifted through the pieces, trying to work out from the incomplete images where they should go. I wasn't always able to put a piece in place, and so I returned it to the pile. I thought to myself, how like life this is! Sometimes I think we are given pieces of the life we could have, and then it's up to us to find out whether they fit or not. If they don't then we discard them and fish around again. 

Spud rang at lunchtime to let me know he was on his way home, so I whizzed over to spend a few hours with him before my long stint at work. 

And now it is evening, and I am settling down to do the first of two consecutive sleep-ins. And I have just received a piece of good news. I have another interview to prepare for. It's for a part time job that would perfectly complement my hours at Sainsbury's. Things are gradually coming together, piece by piece. 

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

#14 The First Day of Spring

In my opinion, today was the first day of spring. Sure, we have had the occasional day of sunshine and blue skies, but today was warm too. The trees were abundant with blossom spilling from their branches in gorgeous shades of white and pale pink. When I walked home from communion this morning the birds were singing, and someone was mowing their lawn. I was wearing a dress and for the first time my legs weren't cold! It has seemed a very long winter, and so it was an absolute delight to feel warm again, without the aid of a winter coat. 

Spud and I spent the afternoon with his parents and younger brother. We fed the ducks (all of us, not just Little One!) and when all the bread was gone, we sat by the water eating chocolate fingers. The day really took me back to childhood, and the sunshine illuminated everything, making our surroundings look all the more beautiful. My hope is for more days like this in the coming weeks. 

Monday, 21 March 2011

#13 Counting Down

Today was my first day back at work after a week's annual leave. I always thought that when I had the date of my departure, I would find my job more endurable, but I've actually discovered that the contrary is true. I have 3.5 weeks left until I leave, and that seems like a long time from here. I gave my notice a day before my annual leave, but now I have to get back into the right mindset for work, and that's harder still now that I've embraced the prospect of leaving. Today I was painfully conscious of every minute ticking by, and I kept thinking to myself, I really don't want to be here! It wasn't the best of shifts either, and added to that was the difficult task of announcing my imminent departure to my colleagues on shift. They were really sweet about it, but I felt really uncomfortable all the same. 

I'm sure I will get back into routine before too long, but I will certainly be counting down the days until my final shift!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

#12 Running Up That Road

This morning I was up bright and early to listen to my friends' band on the radio (click on the link to go check them out!) and afterwards I decided to go for a run. As it was only my second run since the half-marathon last May, I planned a route consisting of one big circuit and two smaller ones which could easily be cut if I wasn't up to it. The first five minutes felt wonderful, but beyond that my energy and enthusiasm began to wear thin. The cold morning air made my head and ears ache, and my nose and throat stung. The discomfort made me appreciate how unfit I've become. I stuck to the big circuit and then headed for home, deciding that once I can run that course a little more comfortably I can start adding in the other two circuits. 

It's a lot more challenging to motivate myself now that my loyal running partner (my dad) is 300 miles away, but I'm glad I made the effort today. My aim is to run once a week and hopefully with time my fitness level will improve and my mileage will increase! It is such a joy to actually have time for running again! 

Saturday, 19 March 2011

#11 Thinking Things Through

I have a very bad habit of acting before I've really thought something through. A situation has just arisen as a result of my bad habit. The other day I received a message from a lady looking for a nanny from September. I responded right away, expressing interest in the position, and I'm in the process of arranging to meet her for coffee and a chat. 

However, I spoke to my mum afterwards who warned me not to leap right into the position. She made me realise that perhaps this is not the best position for me. Again it's a deeply committed position (I am just leaving a very committed role at work as I realise there are areas of my life that need to come before work) and it will limit my career. Also, it's not really the area I want to work in. And it took my mum to make me realise this. 

So now I'm in a bit of a predicament. I can either go ahead and meet this woman for coffee, or I can tell her straight out that actually I've had second thoughts and I'm not sure the position is for me. Either way I'm going to mess her around, which is the last thing I want to do. It would have been so much easier if I'd really thought things through before replying to her first message. 

Hopefully this will teach me to really think things through before I act!

Friday, 18 March 2011

#10 What Lies Ahead

I remember a time, probably about six years ago, when I was terrified of the future. I felt that there was nothing there for me, or at least nothing worth living for. 

However, these days, I am a lot more chilled out, and basically just take life as it comes! I can't emphasise how much better I feel for adopting this approach. Even when there are things ahead that I dread, I trust that everything will turn out okay, and sometimes I ask myself what's the worst that can happen, and realise that it wouldn't be all that bad if it did happen. 

There are so many exciting events that lie ahead - starting a new job, my family coming to visit at Easter, Spud's baptism, wedding dress shopping, house hunting, our wedding - and this alone gives me the strength to get through the not so good things I have to face, which are relatively few. I return to work on Monday, and can't say I'm particularly looking forward to it, but I know it will just be for 3.5 weeks and then I'm out of there. 

These days I find myself really excited about the future, because it's so unpredictable. There are so many twists and turns in life, so many surprises, and these experiences really shape us into the people we are meant to be. I sometimes feel that life is like a jigsaw. Sometimes you have to put a lot of pieces together before you see the bigger picture!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

#9 The Flood

'Well, we've all got a story of our own to tell now, the story to end all stories. (That nearly did exactly that in fact.)'

From The Flood, by David Maine

The Flood, by David Maine, is a clever reworking of the Biblical account of Noah and the Ark, which I'm sure we've all heard countless times from childhood. Engaging, funny and moving, the novel follows Noe (Noah), his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law on their journey of survival and obedience to God. I like the way the narrative jumps from character to character, ensuring that the story is told from all angles. Maine also successfully captures the voices of all eight characters, making each one distinct. 

It really made me think about the task God had Noah set out and do, and how miraculous the end result was. The novel drove home for me the importance of trusting God for everything, even the seemingly impossible. However, as a Christian, I found the ending rather disconcerting, as God remains stubbornly silent, and Noe's future seems rather grim and disappointing. However, it was an enjoyable read and is a fairly 'convincing amplification of the Biblical story'. 

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

#8 Making Preparations

My new job is going to be very different to my old one. Because the job is only part time, I will have a lot more time. The shifts I'll be working will be shorter and earlier. I will have to get up at about 0415 in order to get there to start at 0500, and this will take a lot of adjustment, but I can think of three things that will help me. 

1. My alarm clock. I'm a morning person, so I don't think getting up at this time will be a huge struggle, but I will definitely need some assistance from my alarm clock (which is similar to the one below). 

2. Coffee. I certainly won't be feeling very awake at work, so I think I will need to set myself up for the day with a big mug of coffee. I bought myself a handy vacuum flask so that I can drink my coffee on my way to work. 

3. Prayer. Without the power of prayer I honestly wouldn't have made it this far. By having faith and trusting in God I have made it through so many difficult situations. There are bound to be challenges ahead, but I know that with God on my side I can do anything, as long as it's His will. Prayer is one of the key tools of faith. 

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

#7 Church

Again, I am lacking energy and inspiration, so I'll leave you with this picture of a pretty little church I encountered on the top of a steep hill in Brittany. It was very basic, and sparsely furnished. I don't think it's in use any more, but I could just imagine, at one time, a small crowd of locals climbing the hill each Sunday as we did that day. 

In communion this morning our minister reminded us that in a religious context the term 'church' refers not to a building but to a state of being. The building itself makes worship a little more comfortable, but at the end of the day the 'church' is the people who meet together with the mutual desire of praising their creator. 

I have received so much support and encouragement from church. I've found the fellowship extremely uplifting, and it's great to feel a part of the community. 

Monday, 14 March 2011

#6 Resolution

I'm too tired to write a proper post tonight, but I do have a piece of news for you. Today Spud was offered work for a company that does market research. I have a couple of jobs in the pipeline that I could do alongside my new job to increase my hours and my earnings. It seems all of my worries were needless. Everything is working out for the best. It's all coming together bit by bit. 

Sunday, 13 March 2011

#5 One More Sleep

I have just one more sleep to go until a week's annual leave. Although I had a week off recently and enjoyed using it to see my family and friends back at home, it wasn't really a restful week as two days were spent driving 300 miles, and it was also the week that both my grandfather's were really poorly. 

This time I'm looking forward to having the week to myself, to do some of the things I haven't had time to do in six months! There's a recipe I want to try out (parsnip and apple soup), and a film I want to see at the cinema ('Never Let Me Go'). I have a massage to book (Spud's Valentines Day present to me), a jigsaw puzzle to complete and, most importantly, a novel to write; a novel that's been neglected since last August. I am really going to treat it as a week off, although I think the first thing to be done is to have a good spring clean as my bedroom is a mess!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

#4 Open Door

Perhaps yesterday's post was a little premature... This morning Sainsbury's texted me to offer me the dawn shift: 5am - 9am, 4 mornings a week. It may not sound like much, but it gets me out of my current position and enables me to make a fresh start. 

There will be new worries, as my income will only just cover rent and petrol costs, and if Spud gets a job that requires him to travel we won't be earning enough to justify buying a second car. But if there's one thing my current job has taught me it's that I can FROG (Fully Rely On God) and that is the attitude I intend to carry into my new position. Besides, the hours should allow me to get another part time job alongside this one, and hopefully there will be the chance to do some overtime. 

I've felt an immense relief since receiving the job offer. I feel as though for the last six months I've been trapped in a room and, unable to find the exit, believed I was stuck there forever. Now a door has been revealed and opened, and the time has come to walk through it and meet whatever awaits there. 

Friday, 11 March 2011

#3 A Place in the World

My belief that there's a Kess-shaped hole somewhere out there is beginning to fade. I learned today that I am living in the county with the least available jobs. My mother claims she did warn me, and she probably did although I can't for the life of me remember. What angers me the most is that I'm not even being given the chance to reach my full potential. Because of the demand for jobs, potential employers can afford to be picky, and people like me get pushed to one side because there's always someone with more experience. I can't even get a dawn-shift at Sainsbury's for crying out loud! 

Spud and I both regret going to university. We feel that our time might have been better spent working, because that way rather than getting into debt we would be considerably better off and we might be in securer employment. At the moment I am being exploited at work (although things are improving now) and Spud has been unemployed for nearly a year since completing his studies. Neither of us seem to be able to get a job. We can't seem to find our place in the world - the place where our skills can be put to good use and we are able to progress. 

I am learning not to worry because I know that everything will work out in the end. It's just a matter of waiting patiently and making the best of my current circumstances. 

Thursday, 10 March 2011

#2 View from the Passenger Side

I enjoy driving a lot more now that it's become an everyday thing, but today at work my colleague drove and I got to sit in the passenger seat. We took a route I take pretty regularly, but I was amazed by just how much I noticed, from small things like signs, to big things like a school and hospital that I never knew were there! It was incredible to discover just how much I miss as a driver, and just goes to show how much I concentrate when I drive!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

#1 Slippers

Spud and I splashed out and bought new slippers today! I absolutely adore slippers. I have real problems with my feet so it's a real job trying to find footwear to suit my needs. The thing about slippers is that they don't have fit the bill as they are just for indoor use (i.e. lounging around). So I don't have to be picky when I'm buying slippers. And they're so comfy! 

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

My Pledge for Lent

Recently I've felt very detached from the blogging world. This is partly due to my lack of time for blogging, and also my limited internet usage, which has prevented me from viewing my favourite blogs and leaving comments. Even when I've had the time and motivation to produce a post, it's been a bit of a strain and I haven't had all that much inspiration. 

So I've decided that rather than giving something up, I am going to post something every day in Lent. This could be a complete disaster if I find I don't have that much to say. Or it could be a great opportunity to get back into blogging again, now that I have a little more time. I am even thinking of asking a few people to guest post, although I'm not making any promises just yet. I would also like to start using my camera again, and hope to accompany each post with a picture. 

Anyway, that's all for today. Spud found me a job that involves writing articles and blog posts, so I've promised myself that I'm going to apply before I go to bed!

Banana Ice Cream

Spud found a brilliantly simple ice cream recipe on the Instructables website that I just have to share. All you need is a banana. The more brown a banana is, the less it will taste like banana. 

Firstly, chop the banana and put it in the freezer. 

When frozen, take the banana out and put it in the blender. 

You may wish to add a drop of milk, but don't use too much otherwise the mixture will be too runny. 

I told you it was simple! Spud and I tried this yesterday and the result was a success!

(Nb: Image from

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Time Traveller's Wife

After reading Audrey Niffenegger's second novel, My Fearful Symmetry, my expectations of The Time Traveller's Wife were very high. Having previously watched the film, I knew what to expect from the storyline and didn't expect there to be any surprises. From the very first page I was enthralled. The characters were vivid and leapt right off the page. They became almost real to me, and I found myself caring for them deeply. I was incredibly moved in places, and to the point of tears at times. 

The narrative voice alternates between time traveller, Henry Detamble and his wife, Clare. Henry and Clare meet for the first time when Henry is 36 and Clare is 6. Fourteen years and many meetings later, when Clare is 20 and Henry is 28, they get together. But they are soon to discover that Henry's genetic condition doesn't make married life easy. This is a novel about a  love so strong that it can survive the constraints of time. 

Niffenegger succeeded in making the whole concept of time travel believable, at least in the context of the novel. Her writing style is strong and of a high standard. Never once did I feel the narrative voice waver, or strain for effect. The novel is definitely a page-turner, and will keep the reader away from their own present for many hours at a time! 

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Something I Can Relate To

(The extract opens with a young couple admiring the house of their dreams and envisioning their life there)

'What I feel certain of is,' said Henry, 'that we ought to be living there, now. We oughtn't to wait for things. What's age? You're as old as you'll ever be and so am I. You know,' he said, 'I have a feeling often and often that it's dangerous to wait for things - that if you wait for things they only go further and further away.'
She did not answer that - she looked up at the sky and said, 'Oh dear, I don't want to go home.'
'Exactly - that's the whole trouble - and we oughtn't to go home. We ought to be going back to the house... I'm not even happy. I'm lonely for you Edna - I would give anything to lie down and cry'...and he added limply, 'with my head in your lap and your darling cheek in my hair.'
'But Henry,' she said, coming closer, 'you have faith, haven't you? I mean, you are absolutely certain that we shall have a house like that and everything we want - aren't you?'
'Not enough - that's not enough. I want to be sitting on those very stairs and taking off these very boots this very minute. Don't you? [...]'
'If only we weren't so young...' she said miserably. 'And yet,' she sighed, 'I'm sure I don't feel very young - I feel twenty at least.'

From 'Something Childish but Very Natural' by Katherine Mansfield