Gratituesday: Good golly Miss Molly

My arm is bruised, and itchy, and AWESOME. This is why:

Photos by Alex Heart at Blue Lotus Tattoo.

Photos by Alex Heart at Blue Lotus Tattoo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had a great time (yes really) getting the tattoo and my tattooist for this piece, Alex Heart at Blue Lotus Tattoo in Albany, is just fantastic. She committed to the insane linework on the piece because as she said, the detail on it is what makes it special. I agree. It makes me so happy every time I look at it. I’m so grateful both to Alex for taking it on, and to the amazing Molly Crabapple for giving me permission to have one of her artworks tattooed (and being so very cheerful and friendly about it).

Long weekend

This weekend (as anyone out watching the Kiwis at various stages of the Five Levels of Drinking will also know) was Waitangi Day here in NZ. I took a couple of extra days off to give myself a five day weekend, and did…well, whatever I wanted. I got a good amount of work done on my Flamingo Dress for the 15 in 2015 challenge, finished hemming a pair of trousers that have been sitting around unfinished for over a year, watched some good TV (and some bad TV), had brunch with friends, and relaxed. Taking a break is always something to be grateful for, taking one that didn’t get filled up with chores goes double.

Of course, that just means my room is in desperate need of a tidy but…sewing!

One year

I’ve been with the Best Beloved for a year now, and I’m grateful for him every single day. We celebrated by going to see Kingsman: The Secret Service because what could be more romantic than watching Colin Firth kill a whole bunch of people. It’s a very funny movie, I recommend it. It’s also nice to see Mark Strong not having to play the bad guy for once.

The little things:

Lush Ultra Balm and Dream Cream, tea tree oil, Miss Victory Violet, hand stitching with silk thread (I find it satisfying, but then I’m weird), figuring out how a pattern fits together, Gretchen Hirsch, the library (who have so many awesome sewing books), snuggles, staying off Facebook, tea, Burger Fuel (and Burger Fuel vouchers), Caro Emerald.

How about you? What are you thankful for this week?

Mid-week joy: Magic. It’s a thing.

Happy Wednesday, everyone! The sun is out, the sky is blue, there’s not a cloud to spoil the view but the forecast is for rain the rest of the week so I plan to enjoy it while I can. The sun, not the rain.

Yep, I started talking about the weather again. You can take the girl out of England…

Now, where was I? Oh yes. Magic! And miracles! And the law of attraction! Whatever you choose to call it, and however you choose to work with the Universe, it’s pretty damn special when it works.

Over on my Pinterest, I’ve got an Affirmation Dream Board. The idea is (based on some Danielle LaPorte thinking) that you pin images and write underneath them an affirmation (an ‘I am’ type, present tense statement of what you want to attract into your life).

I’ll admit, I hadn’t updated it for a while. And by a while I mean not for months and months. Then today I was looking through it and some of my other boards for a secret project about which all will be revealed very soon.

And I found this:

Best Beloved pin

I pinned this long before my Best Beloved and I started the tentative movements towards each other. Way before I started calling him my Best Beloved. But there it is. I’m working on the second part- but definitely getting there.

I guess what I’m trying to say, for today’s mid-week joy, is that these things can and do work. You can and will bring more good things into your life. If I can do it, anyone can.

Monsterful Monday du Soleil

First up, Cirque du Soleil. Sweet Jesus. Their show ‘Totem’ is currently in Auckland, and the fun and games of getting across a raceway in the pouring rain to the Grand Chapiteau (when I say fun and games I mean wet muddy feet and, well, pouring rain) were completely worth it. It’s absolutely astonishing what the performers in Cirque can do. The aerials (especially the double act on a stationery trapeze) were a big highlight for me, but then aerials always are. And can we just talk about the pair whose finale to their act involved one of them balancing upside down with ONE SHOULDER ON HER PARTNER’S FOOT?! If you want to see what complete trust looks like, watch any of the acts with more than one person. Holy wow.

I went with my Best Beloved’s best friend, and getting to know her better and share that experience with her was an added bonus. If you’re in Auckland, or if you get the chance to see one of their shows- GO. We were lucky and got discounted tickets through Grab One,  but when they come back I would happily pay full price. And talk about inspiration for getting better at acro! And at adding sequins and sparkles to costumes…

The rest of the weekend was extremely relaxing which was good because next weekend is a big campaign game weekend, and will therefore be not even a little bit relaxing. My Best Beloved, as usual, was wonderful, letting me nap whenever I needed to, including napping on him, and giving lots of snuggles.

The two back issues of Things and Ink that I ordered arrived over the weekend, and were definitely worth it. The Art issue in particular had some really beautiful tattoos, and the writing throughout is good and fascinating. Also I now want to make an appointment with Tracy D at Kings Cross Tattoo next time I’m in the UK. This art nouveau flamingo is one of hers and I. Am. In. Love. I mean come ON- ART NOUVEAU FLAMINGO. I’d love to meet whoever has it so I can shake their hand and admire it in person. For now I’ll content myself with a subscription to the magazine, and poring over every glorious page, as well as getting super excited for Nursey No Mercy doing my next piece. It’s going to be special.

Finally, meditation. I’ve been using my tarot deck for my daily meditation practice and it’s getting me such beautiful results that on Wednesday I’m going to share how I do it, just for you. A little different from the usual set of links, but still bringing you some joy for the middle of the week. I hope you’ll join me- and join in.

The Little Things

Mongolian Barbecue at Gengis Khan (how can you not love a place where you can have as much as you want, and get your delicious Mongolian barbecue meat (mint-marinated lamb! SO GOOD) with a side of mac and cheese?), new shoes that don’t let the rain in, getting creative in a different way from usual, borrowing patterns from kindly fellow sewers, having a set of ab exercises to work on for acro, lighter mornings (so much easier to wake up in time to meditate when you’re as fundamentally lazy as I am), the Parlour, Avengers Assemble, Angelique Houtkamp, text conversations, having a view of the ocean from each of the offices I work at during the week, awesome work colleagues, good advice, and, as usual, tea.

Tired-but-happy Tuesday

Sorry folks but you’ll have to wait until next week for the Suit of Pentacles. I was at a convention all weekend, including running two games, and I am still wiped out. It was a resounding success (well done to my dear friend Anna), something I suspected when my one-card pull for the weekend was the Three of Staves/Wands- successful cumulation of enterprises.

Anyway, so tired. So I’ll keep this short and sweet and grateful:

Things I’m thankful for right now: the Best Beloved (who took very good care of me this weekend) tea, a warm bed, early nights, newbies having a good time in my games, laughing with friends, enthusiasm, healing, moving forward, the borrowing of a deliciously warm and snuggly fleece-lined cloak from my best beloved, shenanigans with my friends, meeting new people, Pin Up Girl’s Erin dress, snuggling, shoulder/neck/head rubs, spontaneous Bohemian Rhapsody, loom band bracelets, the Parlour, SARK, recharged Kindle with new Francesca Lia Block goodness, friendly bus drivers, the Post-Punk Kitchen, having limbo music stuck in my head, big strong men cringing away from me because I had an open tub of glitter, knitting, taking a round off to set up for a game and more importantly nap, paneer makhani at the end of a long weekend, getting portrait photos with my man, seeing people play roles I’d written and it being just how I’d imagined, and delicious sleeeeeeep. 

And finally, a snapshot of what one of my flatmates is like:

*Flatmate W runs up behind me.*

“Ellen! Ellen! Ellen!”

*I turn around from where I have been walking with the Best Beloved.*

“Yes?”

“[Best Beloved] was looking for you.” *grins*

“You, sir, are a helper!”

What doing a handstand on someone’s knees taught me about self esteem

It happened less than 6 hours after I had arrived in Auckland. There I was, in track pants and a t-shirt, trying to stabilise my core while I balanced upside down, my ‘base’ holding my shoulders up and me steadying myself on her knees while my Best Beloved spotted for us, telling me to tuck my stomach in, move my legs back, keep my arms straight. 

The move was called a low candle, and I was at my first ever session of acrobatics. My wonderful friend Anna C turns out to also be a fantastic teacher (a Princess of Cups? Most certainly). She has absolute faith in the newbies and, I gather, is usually the one grabbing them and throwing them in at the deep end.

Acro really works your core muscles, as well as a whole range of other muscles, often one set at a time. It’s an amazing workout, and (as I discovered) huge amounts of fun. But there’s one thing you need, more than anything else, to do it.

Confidence.

“Can you do a handstand?” asked Anna.

“Um…I haven’t in a long time.” I reply.

“But do you think you could?” she continues.

Then my Best Beloved goes on to demonstrate, with her basing him (she’s at least a foot shorter than he is), how to get up into the first move of a Pretzel by doing a handstand so your ass lands on your base’s feet, and then you walk over into a sitting position held up on their legs. Yes really.

“Do you think you could?”

You see, throughout the session Anna and the Best Beloved would both tell me I had been doing things right- I had balanced upside down, successfully leaned back almost horizontal into a Low Table. And yet, when I came out of moves I found that they were saying “yes you can!”, but I was saying “No, I can’t.”

“Do you THINK you could?”

You know the old saying, I’m sure: If you think you can, or think you can’t, you are probably right.

I know there are two things I need to strengthen to get good at acro. My core muscles (seriously, I could feel them shaking in that Low Table, though I was holding a tough position), and my confidence. Knowing you’re capable of something is well over half the battle. It was the doubts that brought me back down onto the mat, each and every time.

Oh, but I did do two successful moves- a sideways plank (being held up on Anna’s feet, one under my thigh and one under my shoulder, while I was told “and now look glamourous”. I was just excited to do it.

And a Flying Woman, where my Best Beloved hoisted me up into the air over his head, in a position much like the figurehead of a ship. And then walked off the mat and around the wooden gym floor with me. None of what came out of my mouth at that point was the truth. That was the fear talking.

And you know what? I’m going to keep going to Acro. And the fear is going to shut the hell up. 

Monsterful Monday: I shall call him Squishy

Best Beloved

Another weekend with the Best Beloved has come and gone far too quickly, but has left me with plenty to be grateful for. Obviously, snuggling was high on the agenda, but we also got out and about for some great food- Sweet Mother’s Kitchen, where we enjoyed curly fries (obviously), a prawn po boy (for me), a Big Easy burger (for him- and they’re not kidding about the big!), plus milkshakes (the ‘salty dawg’ salted caramel had me sipping compulsively, he had passionfruit (to make a change from banana chocolate); and Strawberry Fare where we and some friends had a tough time narrowing down the dessert options. There was mooching in Arty Bee’s secondhand bookstore (“What would you like to do this weekend?” I ask him, “Arty Bees?” he says with a hopeful smile), strolling around hand in hand, and lots of great conversation. One of the things that keeps surprising me with more joy is how much the Best Beloved and I think alike. There’s a saying that love is holding hands and facing in the same direction, and I definitely think we are- which is a huge thing to be grateful for.

Just keep knitting, just keep knitting…

Like any good crafter I have a few different projects on the go, and I’m slowly getting them finished. I’ve been bringing a little bag with polyfil, sock yarn, needles and a crochet hook to work which has resulted in my getting a few more hexipuffs knitted for my Beekeeper’s Quilt– that really is going to be a huge achievement when I finally finish it (though my flatmate has asked to be allowed to roll around on the un-assembled pile of puffs before I sew it together). I don’t call them hexipuffs most of the time, though. I call them squishies. Because I am Dory from Finding Nemo.

I’ve also got the secret birthday/gift projects still on the go and those are working up a lot faster- but it’s hardly surprising as those don’t involve making over 300 teeny stuffed knitted hexagons out of sock yarn (but the finished result is going to be SO worth it.).

Big steps forward

Or what I hope will be. I’m so grateful I’ve got the chance to sell off my stash at the Social Wool Fair. I’ve had big bags of yarn sitting around waiting for me to find a way to get them out of my possession and into new loving yarny homes, along with a pile of books of patterns I know I’m not going to knit from again, which need new owners, so I’m excited for this weekend. The Best Beloved has promised to text me regularly with “no, put it down, you don’t need it, you’re selling yarn remember?”- what can I say? He’s supportive of the de-cluttering process, which is really lovely. Also…the Social Wool Fair has baking! Resisting all the yarn means I’ll deserve some cake, right?

Special mentions:

So far, I have not caught my flatmate’s strep throat (so she successfully kept her germs contained)- she also won a ticket to the premiere of ‘What We Do In the Shadows‘ by being awesome at crafting, so yay for her! Getting excited about going to a special screening of said film the next night with a Q&A after with Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. And the ticket comes with a bottle of ‘Delicious Necks’ beer- can’t wait! Tasty sushi, lots of blankets on the bed, mini-skeins of sock yarn just big enough for a couple of squishies (if like me you have no attention span getting to change colours often is really good…shiny!…), the Tiny Owl Knits forum on Ravelry, my Five Minute Journal, meditation, having almost a full roster of players for the Saturday night flagship game I’m co-GMing at the Chimera LARP convention (and a full roster for the Sunday morning game), finishing sewing projects, and knowing that I’ll be seeing the Best Beloved every fortnight between now and August.

How about you? What’s giving you warm fuzzies this week?

 

Friday Five: Five ways to stay warm this winter (Southern hemisphere ftw!)

It’s freaking cold. I do not approve. I read a lot of blogs and content from you lucky Northern Hemisphere peeps about summer and stuff to do when it’s warm and getting outside. It’s great, and come November you’d better believe I’ll be putting those ideas into practice, but right now the idea of frolicking outside is, much of the time, for crazy people. It’s cold, it’s dark, I do not want to get out of bed in the morning because as soon as I put a part of a limb outside my duvet-and-all-the-blankets cocoon, I am reminded that the rest of the world is not as warm as my bed. At work, lots of people are bringing in hot water bottles and one woman even has an electric blanket draped over her chair (to be fair, it’s yet another bad thing at my work that the heating is currently buggered). So to stay positive, and to get a bit Southern Hemisphere Represent (yo) up in here, I give you five great things to do to stay warm.

Hot water bottle

An oldie, but a goodie- especially as it’s an excellent excuse to make yourself a funky hot water bottle cover. “No, that’s definitely MY hottie, look, it’s got up to look like a penguin. Or if waterfowl aren’t your thing, perhaps you’d prefer a Hot Water TARDIS? Or how about a simple beginner’s cozy?

Thermals!

From flanelette bed sheets to merino leggings, thermals are all kinds of awesome. I only discovered them after moving to New Zealand- winter sheets, in particular, were a revelation being used as I was to freezing in cotton sheets until they warmed up. Best of all, they allow me to continue to wear some of my favourite dresses throughout the year, meaning I can have a smaller wardrobe of clothes (very useful when you’re trying to declutter).

A muff

So toasty warm, so vintage, the muff- also known as a smitten- is a super-elegant way to keep your hands warm…and if you’re a giant sap you can also use it to hold hands with your beloved when you’re out and about. I have a purple faux fur one, and it always adds a little vintage super-spy strut to my step when I wear it. If you’re in Wellington and sew, I’d highly recommend the Dreamstress School of Sewing- and this winter the lovely Leimomi is running a Make a Muff class. Or you could always knit/crochet one like this Tiny Violet Hand Puff from Tiny Owl Knits (can you even? Gorgeous). Or you could just find one from Etsy. I mean, this winter wonderland one is rather over the top, but how about something like this 1940s/50s style one– wear it with a vintage dress and imagine you’re an extra in White Christmas. Of course, that pin-up style isn’t everyone’s thing, which brings me on to the other kind of muff (no, not that kind of muff):

Ear muffs!

A couple of years back, I was part of a team for the 48 hour film festival, taking on the role of props chinchilla (this is what happens when I mishear what someone says). While out grabbing things for the film, a friend and I stumbled upon sets of furry earmuffs. On a whim, we bought them. It turned out to be one of the best decisions we made that day. There was already a chill in the air, but after 3 or 4 hours outside in a nature reserve, we were seriously freezing- the earmuffs proved to be an absolute life saver. And there are so many different styles! From Nordic embroidered ones to Hayao Miyazaki-inspired soot sprite ear muffs,  to full on Katamari Damacy ones, there’s bound to be a pair out there to suit you. 

Snuggling

Well obviously. What can I say? The Best Beloved is visiting this weekend, and I plan to take full advantage of it (it helps that he runs hot). If you’re in a relationship (or even if you have a friend who is as cold this winter as you are), snuggles are the best and winter is an excellent excuse for them. Not that you need an excuse.

What about you? What are you favourite ways to stay warm?