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Learning to dress myself again…

Posted on 29 October, 2014

18 months ago I had a baby and 9 months before that my body started to change. Today my body is different to how it was. I have a wardrobe filled with cute vintage dresses and I fit into about half of them. The other half I keep in hope or stubbornness I’m not sure.

But in a way this is an opportunity. I have been wearing the same kind of thing for a decade or longer. Only now have I started to think that I could wear something else. Steering myself away from a particular style is harder than you’d think. My body gravitates to knee length dresses with a pinched waist and full (ish) skirt and my eye skips past the rest of the clothing in the shop and making it do otherwise has been tricky.

But as cling is no longer my thing and boyfriend baggy clothes make me look swamped  I started to look towards more structured clothes. After much debate I bought this Zara jump suit. I am so far from being a jumpsuit person that I can never remember what they are called and I keep telling people I bought a cat suit!

Armed with a curling thongs I decided I was going to commit to the jump suit!

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I’m not one for styling so I went for practicality, flat shoes so I can walk and a kimono because I feel naked without some kind of cardigan on at all times. This kimono has escaped  being placed in a bag for the charity shop many times over the years. I felt that it’s time was coming, at some point it would prove a good investment and now about 8 years later I was proven right!
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I am also not one for make up. I’m so pale that I often have a blueish hue but that’s what my skin looks like. Pretending it’s another colour or painting it a different colour doesn’t make sense to me .  For me I’m more concerned about learning to stand for a photograph than I am about what colour I look like in the end. Even at the age of 32 I still haven’t quiet got the hang of what to do with myself and my arms when I’m being photographed so I end up making scared faces …

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or doing some inexplicable hand gesture!

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But nevertheless it was fun to dress up and try something new. My new shape isn’t foreign or alien it’s just different to what I had and different to what I’m used to. It has taken me 18 months to realise that battling with the same zips every month is not helpful and the time has come to try something new and get excited about clothes again and jump into something new:)
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Three Reasons I know I’m not parenting in America

Posted on 25 October, 2014

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I am always pretty aware that I’m in Ireland. It can be hard to forget the simple fact of where you are but sometimes I read so many American blogs and articles that I think, yes things are like that here too. Well, this week has reminded me I am definitely not parenting in America!

Here’s why:

1) Earlier this week I rang a child care centre that we are thinking of sending Ewan for an afternoon a week next year. I was advised by other parents that I should enroll him now. I decided to ring and ask about going to visit the place before we enroll him. At the time that seemed reasonable, responsible even. Asking to visit the center got a reaction of  complete silence followed by her echoing what I had just said. ” So you’d like to visit, here, to see the place, you’d like to come here, before you enroll him to see the place”. As she spoke it was clear she wasn’t against the idea she was just completely thrown by the fact that I wanted to come and look at the place. I got the feeling no one had ever asked before. I said I was happy to call whenever suited them, again she didn’t dislike the idea but she just wasn’t sure how it would all work out. She took my number and said she’d ask other staff what they thought and get back to me. I haven’t heard back from them yet. Compare this to the American bloggers Joanna Goddard  post about  8 questions to ask potential care givers.

If, as Joanna suggested,  I had asked  her “Have you ever had a philosophical difference with parents you’ve worked for?” I  think she would have recommended that I see a doctor or she may have needed one herself!

2)  My suspicions that Ireland isn’t America have been compounded by Halloween.  On the other side of the Atlantic the blogosphere and instagram accounts are lined with homemade costume creations from the sublime to the ridiculous. Here the idea of a homemade costume stuns people to silence (again) and generally confuses people.  Yesterday Ewan and I went to the parent and toddler group in fancy dress for their Halloween party. The thirty something children were all dressed in impressive shop bought costumes. (Things have changed from the days of black sacks and a hat).  I dressed Ewan in the same costume I made for him last year. The group are really friendly and his costume was complimented.  That was until I mentioned that I had made it. The responses of anyone I told was the same “YOU MADE IT!” It was not that they were impressed it was more that they couldn’t believe what I had said.  It was as if I had declared that I bathe him in special milk sourced and imported from South African organic goat herders.

One woman’s immediate reaction was “What? YOU MADE IT! How many children do you have again?”

“One” I answered.

“Ahhhh! ” She said as an enlightened look came over her face. The world made sense again.

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3) The third reason I’m fully aware that I’m not parenting in America came about when I read a great article about How American parenting is killing American marriage. (The article is worth a read and talks about one of my pet hates “Baby on Board” signs!). The premise of the article is that “Nothing in life is allowed to be more important than our children, and we must never speak a disloyal word about our relationships with our offspring.” and therefore marriages and relationships suffer. Initially, this seemed plausible to me but when I thought about it friends and strangers alike are never afraid to say when their children are being eejits, driving them to despair and generally waging psychological warfare against them and their partner. Instead of Irish parenting ruining a marriage sometimes it sounds like the craziness of raising children brings partners huddling together against the next unforeseen hurricane. Irish parents have more of a “don’t leave me alone with them” attitude than a “don’t take me away from them” attitude that the article suggests.

On mature reflection I am 100% confident that I am not in America. Now that that’s cleared up I am off to enjoy the bank holiday weekend!

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Chocolate, Orange and Polenta Gluten Free Cake

Posted on 22 October, 2014

Yesterday I made a chocolate, orange and polenta gluten free cake. It doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, does it?  The world of people who don’t eat gluten seems to be growing and growing so I’m adapting and trying to broaden my horizons. Plus cake is always, always a good idea.

I had never used Polenta before and I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. Wikipedia kindly advised me that it’s a cornmeal boiled into a porridge. That doesn’t sound like a taste explosion but it was very cheap and  with chocolate and orange how could I go too far wrong.

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I got the recipe from Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals book. I can’t find her recipe online and I don’t want to run the risk of being attacked by her publishing company so if you’re keen buy the book or there is a different, more elaborate recipe for the same kind of thing here.

Aside from just wanting cake I had a secondary motif for my baking enthusiasm.

I also wanted an excuse to play with my aperture settings on my camera. I recently read a great blog post about getting to grips with the basics of photography. I am a fan of  Capture by Lucy’s  but this post in particular got me revved up to take out my camera and explore more. And never was there a more tempting subject than chocolate cake!

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I have learnt bits and pieces from the DIY and food styling workshops but without practice or giving myself time I seem to forget it and my patience for exploring my manual setting drops.  Well after reading her post I decided it was time to go off-piste again!

 

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Last night I photographed it by the fire with side plates and it was all a bit naff. This morning I revisited it and decided on cheery cake pictures but I wasn’t too pleased with those either. (I can be quiet the Goldilocks!)  I wanted to focus on dropping the aperture numbers, getting small details and blurring the background. I also wanted to play with the darkness of chocolate  a little so I decided to go for moody cake pictures instead!

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Sometimes I genuinely get unashamedly pleased with photos and will show them to Steve in a “look what I took” kind of way. I’m not as thrilled with these but I am proud of them and delighted to have spent so long playing with my camera. I took very mediocre shots last night but instead of leaving it at that I came back to it this morning.

Along with writing more this is one of the best gifts I have given by starting the blog. I love taking photographs and taking time to do, review it, sometimes to be unhappy with them, to start again, and to make something that I’m pleased with when it’s finished. I love sitting down to write a blog post and give it enough time to revisit it before you see it. I plan that you’ll see a lot more of these slow-process type blog posts in the future.

As for the cake itself if I had written this post last night I would have said it was very gritty. I thought maybe the polenta I bought was too coarse or the orange peel was not fine enough. However today these problems seem to have fixed themselves. The texture is still a little different from a flour based cake but the grittiness of yesterday is gone ( I’ll need a baker to explain how and why that happened!). So today’s verdict is that the cake is pretty darn good. It even got a “oh this is very special” from one of it’s recipients. So I’ll take that.

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Etsy lows

Posted on 20 October, 2014

 

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Like many things in life when all is well you don’t question it. So when my Etsy shop was doing really well I went with it. I added items to the shop, I bought like vintage was going out of fashion. I wrapped, packed and ran to the post office.

But when I did some maths I realised that the effort that goes into it hasn’t yet resulted in any profit. This gave me quiet the kick in the teeth. I felt that because I was busy I must be in profit. When I added up the price of boxes, packaging materials, business cards, under priced postage, the trip to Berlin to find treasures, Etsy costs, Paypal costs, Facebook promotion ( I will never do that again!), the cost of the items themselves, it just doesn’t add up. I had some big expenses that didn’t pay off. For example, early on I was eager and I had postcards made of a photograph I had taken. They turned out to be a mistake. I love them but there is no market for them (or none on Etsy anyway). Although my mum did buy some! Thanks Mum.

On November the 11th the shop will be open a year and so far it doesn’t look like I am going to break even. I had never hoped to be in profit in the first year but I had hoped, and even presumed, that I wouldn’t be at a loss. that was until I sat down and did the maths.

So to try and get things in order before November I put some of the prices up. Unfortunately everything then grounded to a halt. Sales stopped, I went for 14 days without selling anything. I even thought the shop might be broken! Even the numbers of people viewing items dropped.  Instead of continuing to list new items I stopped too.

After a month of thinking what am I going to do in the future with the shop  I am still no closer to a decision but I have decided one thing.

I really believe that you get out of things what you put into it and for a few weeks I had given up. I didn’t want to check the statistics of the shop, I definitely didn’t want to list items, I didn’t want to know anything about it. Well, it turns out that just made me feel worse about it so now I’ve moved to Plan B.

Plan B is to put more effort into the shop. The first part of this is to keep listing new items. My shelves are lined with things that I haven’t listed in the shop so EVERYTHING is going up. I know you’ve heard that before but this time I’ve used block capitals so this is now super serious!

If I’m still at a loss by the end of 2014 then I will think again but at least I will know that I have really tried. So keep your eyes peeled on the shop because I have got my serious game face on and things are going to get real around here! Urrgghhh!!!

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(Well, maybe not too serious!)

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Even blogs have birthdays!

Posted on 15 October, 2014

collage 2It is exactly one year  since I wrote my first blog post. It has been a whirlwind of 222 posts, 773 comments (!!!) and some emails from readers that have meant the world to me!

Nearly everyone says that time flies but honestly if you said I started the blog four years ago I’d believe you. It’s not that time has dragged it’s just that so much has happened in the last year that it seems impossible that it was only 365 days.

On the 15th of October 2013 I was on maternity leave with a six month old baby thinking about what returning to work would be like. Ewan wasn’t crawling, he started trying out mushy apple and he slept happily in the buggy when I went thrifting. Now he talks and walks all day long, naps once, hates thrifting in shops but loves a good car boot sale and he has totally nailed eating.

As for me this past year has seen a lot of changes I went to my first ever book launch, I gave up a permanent pensionable job to become a stay at home mum, The Journal published one of my articles, I was nominated for the Irish blog awards (thank you!!) ,I set up an Etsy shop, I gave up my smart phone, I developed an obsession with Arklow Pottery, did a radio interview on a national radio station, stripped off for the camera, attended two amazing DIY workshops, went on a thrifting adventure to Berlin, found my first Hornsea pottery,  shared the ups and downs of being a first time mum , I even tried my hand at food stylingand generally researched, photographed and typed my way through every single nap time !

I absolutely love blogging not just because it forces me off the couch to do something more stimulating but for the sheer fun of it. I value having a space of my own and I am both surprised and honoured that so many of you actually read it!

 

I’ve  also found loads of great blogs by the mere fact of being online more . I’m particularly besotted with some fantastic Irish blogs out there. They spur me to up my game and to keep trying. I’m full of ideas of what I want to see happen with the blog and I really hope you stick with me for the next year of blogging.

I’d love to hear what you’d like to see over the next year, drop me a line at annmarie@thriftyamos.com or leave a comment. It would be great to hear from you.

 

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32 today

Posted on 13 October, 2014

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Happy birthday to me! I’m not one of these people that shy away from their birthday, oh no! I am 32 and proud!

Generally birthday discussions, reminders and overall enthusiasm start in the birthday season,which begins on the 13th of September, exactly one month before the actual day.

So in keeping with the over the top nature of my birthday celebrations this year the festivities were spread out over three day and a half days.

Rolled into these days there has been a mini pizza party, three cakes, a birthday balloon, a particular excellent array of presents, glorious autumn sunshine, a Cork city bus tour,a treasure hunt, a dinner party, an epic game of “Who am I?”, a breakfast in Tara’s tea rooms, Steve teaching Ewan to say birthday (although he forgot his cue and said truck instead) and even a few tears thrown in as I got over whelmed by feeling so freaking lucky to have the best people ever as part of my life!

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Image from Cork City Bus Tours

Planning an open top bus tour in Ireland in October might not seem like the smartest idea but the Cork sunshine pulled an absolute blinder and kept us nice and toasty. I picked the Cork city bus tour because I wanted to do something the little people (I mean children, not short friends) might enjoy as well and it worked! The kids got into it and the grown ups nattered giddily .

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I have a bit of a thing about details on buildings, arches, carvings,stonework and all that lovely stuff that makes older buildings stand apart from the rest.  The double decker bus was the perfect way to spot the details and get a look at the city in a way you don’t get to see from the ground. Plus being driven around in the sunshine is pretty fun in itself!

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I wish I could relay some fascinating facts about Cork city but basically we chatted our way through the entire tour. It was a recorded tour so we were only rude to the tape not an actual person.

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When the tour finished we headed home for more tea, cake, dinner, booze  and hours and hours of more chats.IMG_7482IMG_7477

All in all I would highly recommend making a major fuss of yourself on your birthday, it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!x

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