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Numbers, numbers,numbers

Posted on 31 March, 2014

I tried to take a selfie but got distracted by a rugby match

Yesterday was Mother’s Day here and naturally enough I was thinking about my mum and how I don’t tell her often enough that I love her, need her and my world would be lost without her.

I’ve also been thinking recently about what it means to be valued as a mum and where that validation comes from. As a stay at home mum I find I’m struggling with the job title.

I bumped into someone I hadn’t seen in years last week and he asked if I was up to anything other than “the obvious”, as he pointed towards Ewan in the pram. I couldn’t stop spilling out words about the blog and running a small etsy shop. I felt desperate for him to know that I was doing more than “the obvious”.

My reaction has been nagging me since. I have been thinking about why I have the blog and why I have the shop. I often say that it’s so I have something happening outside of caring for Ewan. When I met him I felt it was more about having something to tell people, I haven’t gone back to work but I have a blog!!

The reality is caring for Ewan is my full time job, the rest is squeezed in. It is nearly half one o’clock on Sunday night. The house is asleep but I’m sitting up typing.

If it was only about having a something for myself outside of Ewan, I would be in bed. I would spend my spare time doing something crafty, I would read, I would exercise, I would take photographs, take a long bath, read a magazine, study something, take a class or do any of a range of “me time” things that are on offer.

One reason is probably be validation. Validation that my choices are right, validation that I’m interesting and that I can take a nice photograph occasionally.

The validation script is meant to go something like this.

The numbers on the blog are going up,so people are engaging with my writing and pictures, so I made the right choice. Someone bought something from my shop, so they like my taste, so I made the right choice. Someone has published my post, so I wrote something worthy of publishing, so I’ve made the right choice.

When your at work you’ve different sources of external validation, employers, clients and colleagues.

But for me I’ve never been very good at receiving validation no matter what form it came in. Someone once said that my boss could tell me I was a fantastic employee and the company would fall down without me but I would dismiss the compliment in a heart beat. I would query the tone in which it was said, did she mean I had been a highly valued employ until recently? Did she mean the company would fall down without me because I’m over stepping my brief?

It is similar with blogging. I dismiss numbers because they are only numbers. Many of the numbers are robots scanning the internet and so they don’t count anyway. People buy my things because every once in a while I get lucky.

What I’m having to remind myself is that none of that matters and no amount of numbers or sales will make me feel validated. If less people look at the blog on a Monday then a Tuesday (which they do) does that mean Monday I’ve made the wrong choices but Tuesday it’s all good?

When I joined twitter recently the first thing I noticed was that people unfollowed me. Regardless of the fact that the number was going up I wanted to try and figure out how many people had unfollowed me! It is absolute madness.

If I hinge my validation on numbers I’ll be a crumbling mess with repetitive strain injury in my thumbs within a few months.

Yesterday Mum made it all so much clearer.

She said  “I saw Ewan painting on the blog, He looks so happy, you’re doing a wonderful job”.

And there it was, as simple as that. I’m happy, that is my validation.

I write until well after my bed time because I like doing it. I like sorting through the day, the week, in my head and sharing it with you.  I take photographs in the freezing cold because I like to take up my camera. I buy vintage items because I like them and I love looking for them. I decide to make an epic mess with Ewan painting because it might be fun.

Ewan is happy. If I worked full time I bet he’d be just as happy. But I know I have made the right choice for me because I am happy. Together our family of three is happy.

Sometimes it’s absolutely exhausting. Simple tasks are heart breakingly hard and those are the days that I look more and more at the numbers of the blog. How many people looked today? Did anyone like the post on facebook?

But no matter what the numbers say my day is still going to go one way or another.

All of the number checking on blogger, google analytics, instagram, facebook, twitter has nothing to do with why I started a blog but I’ve made the blog about these things in my own mind.

There is nothing wrong with looking for validation. I need people, I need feedback, I need to know that I’m not rambling in a vacuum, I like when people “like” my post. But by checking the numbers constantly I have taken the fun from something that gave me so much joy to start with.

I have tried not looking but it doesn’t work.

So I’m starting a trial.

I’m going old school. Back to my old Nokia phone and turning off my iphone for a month. I will still promote the blog on facebook and twitter but I won’t have it to hand first thing in the morning, when walking and trying to steer the pram, while the kettle boils, while my laptop starts up etc.

I will miss instagram but I can still look on the laptop I just won’t be able to post pictures.

It’s back to black for me. I’m looking forward to trying to keep my eyes and mind where I want them to be and not getting lulled towards a maze of numbers.

I’ll let you know how the dark ages goes for me. I’m excited and strangely a little nervous!

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Nothing fancy

Posted on 28 March, 2014

Today’s post is nothing fancy, no flights, no markets, no hectic schedule, it’s just home.

As well as making a mess we spent some time in the glass house, where some of my seeds are starting to make an appearance…

We made some pumping tunes…
and I admired the flowers we bought for a neighbour.
This weekend will be following the low-key trend (hopefully).  I plan to get some of the Berlin stock up in the shop, go swimming, meet a friend for lunch and enjoying my first Mother’s day!
I hope you have a lovely weekend. See you Monday:)

Berlin Flea Markets

Posted on 27 March, 2014

When Steve and I came back from New Zealand I slowly realised that other people tire about tales of being away a lot sooner than I do.

However I’ve decided not to learn from that lesson and I’m continuing to talk about Berlin!

So last Sunday I took in four flea markets.

The first was Mauerpark. I had read that this was very touristy, busy and by all accounts over priced. Nevertheless, it was hearing about the wonders of Mauerpark that drew me to Berlin in the first place so on I went.

flohmarkt am mauerpark

I arrived shortly after opening and I was glad I did. Stalls were still setting up, all was calm and some traders offered me “morning prices”.

Mum asked how the flea markets are different from car boot sales. I would say first of all it’s on solid ground, not a blade of grass in sight.

Secondly, their stalls have rain cover.

flohmarkt am mauerpark, berlin

Thirdly, everything is categorized and displayed together, enamel with enamel, coat hooks with coat hooks

flohmarkt am mauerpark, mauerpark flea market, berlin
…phones with phones, cameras with cameras!
flohmarkt am mauerpark, mauerpark flea market, berlin
This might seem like a small thing but it’s big when you are coming from car boot sales where everything is everywhere, sellers are trying to keep their things dry under a plastic sheet on the ground and cardboard boxes disintegrate.
Don’t get me wrong I love a car boot sale as much as the next thrifter but I did love an insight into how organised things can be.
Of course it’s easier to categorize things when you have huge quantities of items. Berlin has a population of 3.5 million and judging from the rate money was exchanging hands I’d guess a thriving thrift economy.
flohmarkt am mauerpark, mauerpark flea market, berlin

Fourthly I’d say flea markets are more expensive. They all were free entry but they definitely charge more than your average car boot trader.

As I left Mauerpark I was greeted by waves and waves of people coming towards the market and I was relieved I had done my shopping early.

Without a google map for this market I managed to ask three Germans who didn’t speak English for directions. But they were all kind enough to engage with me in hand gestures, I found it. It’s very very close to Mauerpark as long as you head in the right direction!
arkonaplatz flea market, arkonaplatz flohmarkt, berlin
This flea market was my favourite. It was the smallest I went to but it had a lovely atmosphere. It’s held in a  park square and there’s a playground to the side so there were lots of families but also some serious hagglers. I had no idea what they were saying but they looked very happy with their purchases while the sellers looked on bemused!
As I arrived people were unpacking, this opens two hours later than Mauerpark. Parents were bickering with their children about who would get the next load from the van, women were telling their husbands to hang things higher and take things down, people were settling in on the couches they had brought with them with their thermos and coffee.
arkonaplatz flea market, arkonaplatz flohmarkt, berlin
If I had a van this writing desk would have come with me and I would have picked up one of those industrial size E’s in the background too, but as good as my suitcase was a writing desk was beyond it’s limits.
arkonaplatz flea market, arkonaplatz flohmarkt, berlin
 It was a nice relaxed market with plenty of retro finds, car boot sale type feeling about it.
arkonaplatz flea market, arkonaplatz flohmarkt, berlin
arkonaplatz flea market, arkonaplatz flohmarkt, berlin
Next up was the Kunstmarkt Straße des 17. Juni. This is the oldest flea market in Berlin, it’s been running since 1973.
kunstmarkt strabe des 17 Juni, berlin, flea market
This market felt more geared towards antiques. A ceramic biscuit tin caught my eye and I asked the seller how much it was she said €160. I was informed as she took it from my hands that it was for collectors and is from the 1920’s. It was lovely but I was out of my depth.
kunstmarkt strabe des 17 Juni, berlin, flea market, oldest flea market in Berlin
In saying that it was here that I the enamel rack I love so much, so for that reason alone I would say it’s worth a trip!
Last but not least was Nowoelln Flowmarkt, which is a nice market lining the river. By the time I got here (about 4 o’clock) many people were closing up . After three flea markets, and trips over and back across East Berlin my main reason for picking this marker was the foodstalls. I had read that if you love street food you should go here. Luckily some of the food stalls were still open and so I ate my way through this market. I’m afraid I was too concentrated on getting some food to take any photographs but I snapped this tree on my walk back by the river.
It one last flick through say goodbye to my thrifting adventure:)

I’m delighted that I went, thrilled with my Berlin finds and chuffed to be at home with my two men again!

No more waiting!

Posted on 26 March, 2014

After much pressure I am going straight to the thrift finds from the Berlin adventures. But I will come back to tell you about the flea markets tomorrow!

But for the moment I do agree to give you a break and show you some of the vintage finds. I couldn’t get everything in one picture regardless of the amount of stacking I did so here is the majority of the finds.

Okay, here we go,

I only had a small shaft of light to work with so each items had to take turns in the spot light:)
Large spinning top…
a coffee grinder…
….a brass pot warmer…
a super cute red enamel coffee pot…
a pretty green plate…
A retro thermos, it’s deep inside so it’s ideal for stews/ curries or anything warming… enamel wall rack (you don’t know how many times I’ve looked at these on Etsy,
I was soooo thrilled to find one)…
A lovely 60 year old tin that received nice compliments from Berlin airport security staff. The little brass pig was in the tin as I went through the airport scanner it caused much confusion…
… a red enamel jug with a super straight spout!…
…a white enamel tea pot that’s nearly 100 years old…
A lovely little wooden house display. I bought the wooden town pieces separately but they fit perfectly ..
In the thrift shop on Saturday I found this ….
A green wooden spice rack and a bright red coffee filter holder…
I love the detail on  both of these…
…the sweetest children’s cooking set!!
…knitted clothes hangers
…and much more.

It will take me some time to get everything ready for the shop but I will be updating the shop as I go.

If you have your eye on something and just can’t wait then please don’t be shy and email me I’d love to hear from you:)

This week I’m sharing with Sir Thrift Alot, A living space, Ivy and Elephants, Me and My Shadow and  We Call it Junkin!

Phew I need some tea!

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Thrift Adventures in Berlin

Posted on 25 March, 2014

Oh where to start!

Berlin was busy, daunting, thrilling and fun.

If I was to going again I would definitely stay for longer (I arrived at midday on Saturday and I flew out Monday morning) and I would leave time for wandering.

As it was the only wandering was with a print out of a Google map and a thrift destination.

I had printed out 8 Google map routes (not very environmentally friendly but I didn’t want to have to pay mobile phone roaming charges!).

I always hate walking a large map. Maps are great to spread out on a kitchen table and get your bearings but fussing and folding a map in the rain in no fun. I also don’t like winging it and hoping I’ll find places.

This is what the map at the information points looks like!

So I felt much more confident with my sheet of paper telling me when to turn left, what direction U-Bahn (underground train) I wanted, what station was closest and what way to head once I left the station.

Once I landed I used my trusty print out map to get to the accommodation .

I rented this apartment through Air BnB. I loved it! It was close to the flea markets, a bakery, restaurants and  very handy for lots of U-Bahn stations.  It was also bright, spacious and so much more comfortable than a hostel or hotel.

I was so in awe of the beautiful ceiling height and wide floor boards that I spent much of my time there just staring around me. It made me want to go home, throw most of our things out and paint everything white!

Once I overcame my awe of the apartment I hit the thrift shops. The plan was visit two big thrift shops on the afternoon Saturday and the flea markets Sunday and leave Monday with a suitcase full of vintage home ware!

So first up was a thrift shop at Alexanderplatz this has textiles but no home ware as such. But I did pick up the cutest dungarees for Ewan (more on these later).

Plus it was on route to the LARGEST THRIFT SHOP in EUROPE ( emphasis added!).

I was so excited to get in and start sifting through the shelves that I forgot to take a picture of the outside but here is a photo of the Humana thrift shop from a journal. It gives you an idea of the size of it.

humana thrift shop, berlin, largest thrift shop in europe
In the clothes department there was everything you could imagine for men, women and children. Impressively, it is organised by decade, style, material and colour!
There was a great vintage shop in Waterford when I was growing up called Orange. This was like 100 Oranges in one! The majority of the 5 floors are devoted to vintage clothing from every decade with everything you could imagine.
I was focused on my home ware mission so I didn’t get elbow deep into clothes but here are a few pictures I snapped on route to the home ware.
I mistook this mannequin for a person, twice!
humana thrift shop, berlin, largest thrift shop in europe
These coloured knits made me smile.
humana thrift shop, berlin, largest thrift shop in europe
humana thrift shop, berlin, largest thrift shop in europe
( I just noticed now that I wasn’t the only person to photograph the stairs!)
In the home ware department it wasn’t as large as I had hoped. It was about eight book shelves worth and a separate textile section. There were some beautiful bedding and some big bright retro curtains but they were just too big to bring home.
That being said I did pick up a few small but lovely things. Here’s is a little sneak peek.
At this point I was worrying!
I was panicking a little thing that I would have traveled all the way to Berlin only to find a few small items.
I need not have worried because the next day I was about to have my eyes opened to the world of large flea markets.

For now it is dinner time so I’ll come back tomorrow and tell you all about the four flea markets I choose in Berlin and most importantly show you some vintage finds!!

I hope you have a lovely evening. See you tomorrow:)

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Staying home

Posted on 20 March, 2014

I’m trying to save my thrifty pennies for the trip to Berlin so this week has involved a lot of staying in (excluding St Patrick’s day of course!) and staying out of second hand shops, antique shops and flea markets!

I’m not sure it’s entirely logical to stay away from potential vintage goodies here so that I can buy things 1,963 kilometres away but logical or not it’ll be an adventure!

Staying away from shops means trying to entertain Ewan at home. The best excitement for him is being outside. It wins hands down every time! I don’t even have to be entertaining. The passing birds, planes and sirens are enough to make him happy and curious!

It has also kept my idle hands busy. The garden is still a mess but now it’s a mess with seeds in it.  I’m starting off some seeds in the glass house and hoping to have amazing things to show you by summer! Fingers crossed.
There is nothing major to report yet on the 100 bluebells but I’ll keep you posted!

Despite the fact that it’s the first day of spring the weather is a mixed bag so here is how we have been keeping ourselves entertained when the rain or cold have driven us inside.

At this point in time everything is new to him and he is taking it all in so much more than before. Sometimes I feel pressure to show him so many new things as I can,to find a new activity, to join a new group but choosing to stay close to home for a few days has made me figure out that a basin of water and a splash around is fun!
I know a time will come when he’ll think these things are ridiculous but for the moment I get to enjoy him enjoying something new and if I’m honest I think the bubbles were mainly for my own benefit! Even at the tender age of 31 I still love them and I kept blowing bubbles long after Ewan had crawled away. They are cheap and so cheerful, what’s not to love!

Plans ahead

Posted on 19 March, 2014

So far I have spent my days thrifting and I have found all my stock close to home. It’s a slow but rewarding process. This is getting harder to do. The older Ewan gets the less he is inclined to be wheeled from shop to shop and I think that’s fair enough. When he was younger he would get the sleep he needed and I would go to every charity shop in walking distance in the process.

Now this just won’t work for us. I’m still using my Sunday mornings for car boot sales but I’ve decided to experiment further afield too. I’m going to where the streets are filled with vintage wonders (or at least that’s how I imagine it!) So if you are in Berlin this weekend you’ll find me prowling the markets for vintage home-ware treasures.

I’ll be leaving my two men behind and even though it’s only a weekend I know I’m going to miss them.
I have no idea if the trip will yield any good returns but I’m feeling adventurous and hopeful!

I have been so busy planning that I have forgotten to share with you some vintage successes from two car boot sales last weekend but in unprecedented fit of organisation they are in the shop already!

After talking about how I have been searching for Hornsea I then find this blue and white Hornsea beauty.

It turns out that Hornsea pottery is just like buses you wait and wait then two arrive at once.
Another unexpected find are these mushroom glasses.
 I had a set of these years ago! But between various house moves and being clumsy the disappeared over the years. They bought a smile to my face to see their bright cheeriness again.
When I look at the lovely vintage finds I have found here in Cork I wonder what Berlin will have to offer. Time will tell and I will share it all with you once I’m home.
In the mean time my little man has woken up so there’s a window for extra snuggle time. I need to stock up and much as I can before Friday.
If you’ve an Berlin travel tips I’d love to hear them:)

Napping update…

Posted on 18 March, 2014

For you avid readers you may remember a stressful day where Ewan decided to crawl around his cot, climb up and fall down repeatedly which resulted in much frustration all round. Well while he is napping I thought I would give you an update.

Ewan is still crawling around his cot but we do get to napping eventually.

Here are a few things we tried:

– Waiting longer before lying him down for a nap.
Results: Over tired,no napping, no fun for the rest of the day/evening
– Going in as soon as he got up and laying him back down again.
Results: Hilarious game for Ewan.
– Waiting to see if he would lie down again once he had finished crawling and walking around the cot.
Results: Tears, panic, no napping
– Putting a quilt on the floor for him to lie down on the ground instead of his cot
Results: Crawling, pulling himself up on something, giddiness, over-tired, no napping
– Using a stern “No” when he started to crawl around and laying him down again in a “serious
business” type fashion
Results: Hilarious game for Ewan
– Putting him in his night time sleeping bag to evoke happy sleepy time feelings
Results: Crawling, standing, tears, no napping.

However, we have gotten back to napping through a melting pot of all the things above with some extra stimulation thrown in. It goes like this.

Option 1. Up to the bedroom, close the shutters together, nappy change, into the sleeping bag with a blanket on top, sleepy looking Ewan sucks his fingers and it looks hopeful. We leave, he gets up and crawls around the cot, we wait for a few minutes and listen on the monitor. He starts to get frustrated because he can’t lie down again once he is up. We go in, lay him down, he looks sleepy. We leave, he gets up. Repeat to a varying degree. This morning it was once, last week it was 6-10 times, then he sleeps. Da, da!

Option 2. We go out. I show him everything, we meet people, he crawls and crawls to expend some energy. He sleeps in the pram or on a friends couch. This is risky and has only a 50% success rate.

Option 3: We go to a St Patrick’s day parade, followed by his grandparents babysitting. There is an excitement overload and he naps instantly. This is wonderful but has the disadvantage of only being an annual event!
Overall, I think the biggest success is that I’m taking it all a little less seriously. We haven’t nailed the magic solution and I’m pretty sure once this napping road bump is overcome there’ll be another but we are learning.
Ewan is learning we are annoyingly persistent and we are learning the meaning of patience! Eventually it does happen, he does nap and he wakes up brighter and ready for the next adventure.

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The Parade

Posted on 17 March, 2014

So we took Ewan to his first St Patrick’s day parade.
He was far more interested in the other children than the parade itself but there were some parts he definitely enjoyed.

Being held by his granddad…

…touching other people’s hats, changing hats himself, touching people’s hair and playing with their unguarded handbags…

… being held by Daddy
… and being lifted up and down!
For the grown ups there was a wave from Michael Flatley…
cork st patricks day parade, ireland
…a giant child and dinosaur.
floats, cork st patricks day parade, ireland
cork st patricks day parade, ireland 2014
A huge gramophone provided the music…
cork st patricks day parade, ireland
… while a dragon danced in the street
cork st patricks day parade, ireland

All in all it was a lovely day with only a splattering of rain.


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