a girls’ survival guide to camping.

In nine days, yes NINE days, we’re taking a group of over 30 people to Soul Survivor, a Christian youth camp.  Having camped time and time again at Soul Survivor as a teenager myself, I promised all my girls I’d post a girls’ survival guide to camping.

When I told one of my girls I would do it she said that she was used to camping with cadets – then it struck me that expectation of this information may not meet reality.  So here’s my DISCLAIMER! When I call this a girls’ survival guide, I suppose the term ‘survival’ can be quite subjective…!  I am not so fussed about the thickness of sleeping bags or best kind of torch (though wouldn’t a head torch be so cool!?) .  I wouldn’t be able to tell you actually ‘useful’ stuff – but still stuff of great importance – this one’s for the girls.

Survival tip #1:  Flip-flops. 

Easy to slip off when getting in and out of the tent, the classic flip flop is perfect for camping. There’s nothing worse that stuffy hot feet and with these babies you’ll be fresh fresh fresh. And you can get like a gazillion different styles. I have some gold glittery ones, what kind do you have?

If you have pretty plain plastic flip-flops you can also take them with you to the showers…!

Survival tip 2:  Wellies.

Flip flops are a no-no in really wet weather.  I wore some last week when it rained and I tripped over.  No, really.  When it’s wet, the only way is wellies.  You girls have a seriously amazing choice of wellies – Sparkly, flowery, stripy, spotty, you name it.  These used to just be for pre-schoolers but now everyone can release their inner-child.  I have a pair of old green hunters that I’ve had since I was a teenager and though I’ve been tempted by the cute patterned wellies to stray, mine are just too comfy.

So I was thinking that they choice was great, and then I discovered…..The Wedge Welly!! Wellies with a sturdy heel? I’m loving it!

These wellies will be ridiculously expensive so I’d advise maybe stick with Asda’s finest, ha! But a girl can dream, right?

Survival Tip 3:  Dry shampoo.

This has to be a camping girls’ best friend. As much as I will be embracing the cold slightly suspect showers at Soul Survivor, the more I can avoid dipping my whole head under, the better. Plus you have the absence of a hair dryer and that’s a whole other story.

I have this one from Tresemme and it’s great. Some quick sprays into the roots and a good roughing up of the hair and you’re set to go a little while longer before the great washing of the hair.

 

Survival tip #4:  You’re hair can still look great with a little creativity.  Honest.

You could go all Gwen Stefani on us and braid up your hair…

Or you could make use of hairbands, head scarfs and a whole load of clips and grips!

And well, at the end of the day you can always hide bad camping hair in a hat.

If I head to the showers before breakfast, I tend to do this and pop The Husbands brown woolly hat on!

Survival tip #5: Baby wipes.

Since having two babies I’ve become a little obsessed with baby wipes and they can be a life saver at soul survivor.  I confess that when I’m camping my skin care routine involves wiping one of these bad boys over my face when I’ve tucked myself into my sleeping bag.  They can help make you feel a little more awake in the morning and if (please Lord!!) we have warm weather, a baby wipe can freshen you up throughout the day.  It’s pretty much a shower on a cloth!

Survival tip #6: Shades.

They hide dark shadows from lack of sleep and can be used on your head to disguise bad hair.  Sunglasses.

I love aviators but look absolutely ridiculous in them, but if you can pull them off, go for it! I stick with the over-sized variety.

Survival tip #7: Bag

Walking back and forth between ‘base camp’ and main areas carrying your purse, phone, bible, notepad will get a little annoying if you don’t have a lovely big bag to throw it all in.  I’m the number one fan of over-size bags – I’ve not moved on from the ‘changing-bag’ size despite my youngest girl starting school in September.

No photo’s for this one though, because its’ not important – if you have a bag to hold your stuff and you like it then you’re onto a winner.  For my birthday last year I bought a big yellow bag which was nicknamed my ‘sunshine bag’ at last years’ Soul Survivor.  I loved that bag.  until the zip broke…!

Survival tip #8: Head torch……ok just a regular torch then.

When your dying for a wee in the middle of the night you’ll be glad of it trust me.  Those Guy ropes!! Enough said.

Survival tip #9: Hoodies and fuzzy socks.

If you have them take it.  Even on the warmest of weeks, the nights get cold and a hoody over your PJs and fuzzy socks can keep you cosy, and well, you’ll probably need that warmth during the day too.  And who doesn’t look good in a hoody??

Survival tip #10:  Fight the urge to ‘forget’ your anorak!

They’re not the coolest things in the world but if we get rain you’ll be thankful for it by the end of the week I promise.  Staying dry is a lot easier that trying to get dry when you’re camping.  Hey, mine is a sickly shade of lavender.  It was definitely one of those end-of-the-shopping-mission-grab-the-first-one purchases.  But I’ll be sporting it in all its’ purple glory should the rain start.  Who’s with me?!

So there you have it. Ten steps to a truly wonderful camping experience!

You’re going to love every minute.

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It’s al’white. Get it? Ha.

You know you’ve reached a new level of sad in your life when you laugh out loud at your own joke.  Even when it’s not really a joke but a very lame use of words.  And you’re home alone.

I’ve recently been accessorizing myself with white   – with the fashion product that is matt emulsion.  I’ve been sporting it in my hair, speckled over my arms, and if I’m feeling particularly cutting edge, smudged down my forehead and cheeks.

Before now I’ve only used white emulsion as base coats on walls before adding a coat or two of colour.  So it feel’s weird to be piling coat after coat of the white stuff.  It’s a bit like ground hog day.  But I like it.  A lot more forgiving.  And oh my goodness, the room is so much lighter now.  I’ve always always always preferred creams over white for the added warmth but I’m very excited to see how this room shapes up.  Carpet is coming Monday so we’ll have just enough time to bring the house back to normality in time for going away to Soul Survivor camp.

We’re house-swapping in the third week of the summer holidays so we’re all looking forward to slowing down in the very very gorgeous Yorkshire Dales.  This will be the pinnacle of our Summer Staycation (I guess we’re cheating really, because we’re not ‘staying’ at home that week – but you know what I mean) and the girls are loving coming up with ideas for our Summer Staycation List.

Mallorca Schmallorca.

I had my hair cut last week the day before my birthday.  I have not had a lot of luck with hairdressers. Back in 2010 I wrote about some of these hair-nightmares.   This time round was the shortest I’d ever had it cut and ironically it was at the salon that I ended up in at the end of my blog post a couple of years ago.  My regular hair dresser was on holiday so i had a younger girl.  After I’d washed it myself I couldn’t do a thing with it.  Clumps of hair pointed in all directions and all I could do was try to tame it with a hairband.   By yesterday I had had enough.  I had the salon’s number in front of me and I really wanted them to look at my hair, but I bottled it because I would have felt so uncomfortable if the girl had been there.  So I called a different salon and begged them to save my hair.  The owner was so lovely and told me to come over at 6.30.  I got there, sat down and showed her some pictures of what I had been hoping for.  She didn’t say much as she looked through my hair, section by section.  She got a mirror and showed me the back of my hair.  I burst into tears, so horrified at it.  The hairdresser soothed me and told me it would be fine.  She did say that she’d never seen such a bad cut. WHAT ON EARTH??? OF ALL THE HAIRDRESSERS IN THE WORLD, HOW DID I FIND TWO WITHIN A COUPLE OF YEARS THAT MANAGEDTO HACK MY HAIR INTO A MESS THAT HAD THEN HORRIFIED OTHER HAIRDRESSERS?? There were some things the hairdresser could fix, some she couldn’t.  She left the top of my hair to grow but had to cut quite a bit off the sides.  It is super short now but at least its in a definite style that should grow well.

Who knew hair could be so stressful?  What I need is a nice light and white, airy room to calm my nerves…

staycation.

 

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For a short while we were going to Mallorca.  When we decided not to book, although a little, pretty, very disappointed, I reckon we handled it in a very mature way.  Not foot stomping or huffing and puffing.  Our hearts felt right about it so it was all good.  But as the Facebook statuses and pictures begin to appear on my feed, my inner toddler is growling and I feel a tantrum brewing.

But I’m keeping myself in check, and determined to turn this yearning for a holiday around – I need to find the very good (and cheap) in a ‘staycation’.  It’s all about perspective.  Right, come on Heather!  I need to come up with a bucket list – but because its what I want us to do this summer as opposed to before I die (and kick the bucket!), I’ll call it our….”staycation list”.  How original (I did sit with a cup of coffee in hand staring out of the window for five minutes, but came up with nothing).

All I need to do is be organised, And creative.  With the help of pinterest I can do this.  Any genius ideas, please share them! Send me an email if you don’t want to comment (I’ve had a ridiculous amount of people get in contact saying follow the blog but they’re scared to leave a comment, ha!).

Watch this space.

rest.

 

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Life is fast, right?

 

My lower back and legs are slowly getting stronger and I’ve started decreasing the pain medication.  I get to do normal things now, but I know I do too much.  For the life of me I cannot find my ‘in moderation’ button.  So many people that that we do life with and that love us have comment on how much we take on – and they do it with ‘that concerned look’ on their face.  And I’d probably do exactly the same if I wasn’t me, but someone else who knew me…(I’m not even sure how that works – but do you see what I mean?!).  I’ve wrestled with it for so long, uncomfortable with not being able to ‘do less’.  But for now, until I find that ‘in moderation button, I’m coming to peace with my pace.  And being at peace with it means doing what I can to make it work and taking responsibility for myself as well as my family.  So although I can be ‘spirited’ when The Husband tries to tell me what to do (I’m working on that!) I thought he might be onto something yesterday when he suggested I had a morning in bed and just stop.

Chloe woke up at silly o’clock which is now unusual for her now and out of fear of her waking Roo up I told her to jump into bed with us.  I tried to doze but every other minute she was tickling my nose or sticking her fingers in my ears.  By the time they were getting dressed and I’d done their hair I was wide awake, uh! Don’t you just hate it when that happens?? It wasn’t a morning wasted though and I disciplined (!!) myself to ignore all the jobs that needed doing floating around in my head.

If you do life in the fast lane, there has to be a time to stop for a moment – stop everything that ‘needs’ to be done.  For a little while, everything can wait.  These moments (or mornings, or a snatched hour) need to be scheduled in – for me they do anyway or it doesn’t happen and i keep on going and going and going…..!

Stopping can be snuggling back into bed for an hour, picking up an untouched book or a magazine, going for a walk (if you can avoid all the rain!).  Anything.  It reminds you that even you needs a little TLC and at the risk of sounding like a Loreal advert – it reminds you that you’re worth it.  And that in itself lifts you, right? 

In Psalm 46 it says

“Be still and know that I am God…”

Doing can be great.  Trust me I am a doer.  An impulsive doer at that so watch out.  But the way we think, the direction we’re heading in and our focus has the potential to explode when we just stop.  When we’re still.  In the quiet place.

No matter how crazy busy my life is, no matter all I’m trying to do; when I ‘m still, and I look up, and I know that He is God, everything stops.  Because, although I trust that God increases my capacity as he increases my territory, it’s not about how much I do or what I achieve. Thank goodness for that because I’d flat out fail.  But God’s grace is sufficient for me – blimey it more than sufficient for me.

And that’s where I find rest.

White.

Today we got a load of painting done that I would not have been able to do by myself.  A couple of guys in our youth group came over and grafted away so I didn’t have to.  I mean, who can refuse a bit of free child-labour?

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And when I say child labour, I mean child labour.

 

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The white has covered the walls so well.  it makes the radiator look a really mingin’ off white colour so that will need to be remedied soon!  I love using the sponge roller! Pure genius.

Beginning to feel more confident in the idea of keeping the walls white.  I’ll just have to be careful with the lighting but I reckon I can make it work (maybe, possibly, really??)

Despite all the hard work, we’re not done yet. Another couple of coats of paint and the room looking like this is what the next week look like.

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But the TV is accessible, I can still sit on a sofa and with my computer on my lap I can’t really complain that it’s not functional.

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I made something for the wall and I mean made something.  As in from a few planks of wood a few nails and some paint.  Oh yeah.  Well I kind of used a spanner too because I couldn’t find the hammer at first.  I can confirm that it is in fact easier to use a hammer for a hammer’s purpose than using a spanner for a hammer’s purpose.  Fact.

 

 

The very boring blog post about a picture frame.

PRIOR WARNING: This post contains content of very dull info on the redecoration of our living room.  I wasn’t going to write such dullness but I figured it would be nice to look back and think “ooh do you remember how long that took just to decorate one room?”!!!

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

So last week when I got to wander around the shops with my ma we picked up some crazy bargain picture frames – only they were picture frames WITH a pin-board.  Very cool.  The frames were black and straight away I knew I wanted them white and distressed.

I wish I’d taken a photo of it when I bought it for the sake of comparison.

So the first one I used I painted with  regular old satin wood.  It took a few coats to look even but by then it didn’t want to be scuffed up at all.  Uh.  I banged it around a little and I like it but it definitely needs roughing up a bit more.

 

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The pictures are not clear at all.  It makes them look way ‘whiter’ than they really are.  The pinboard section has been bordered with string.

The second one I used spray paint and it was soooooo much quicker.  Plus, because it was a lighter coat, it scuffed up so much easier too.  Perhaps too much, I’m not sure.

 

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I’m gutted that attempt #2 has bubbles in the pin board.  I fought temptation to mess with it with common sense.  I doubt any cork would remain if I had a scalpel in hand.  I’m not feeling the love with the picture frame people either.  But I figure once the pin-board has all sorts pinned onto it you’ll never see the little bubbles.

I learnt way more painting two frames.  I went back to the shop to get a load more and they’d all gone! Boooo!

The ones I do have though definitely have the weathered feel I was looking for and I love the string border on the pin-boards.  I think I just have that on the brain.  In any shop I gravitate to anything in the shade of teal or anything distressed or white.  Well not anything white.  That’d be just silly.  One wall in my living room has now got some paint on.  Granted, it is a base coat to secure the new plaster, but it has paint on it nonetheless.  I think everyone in the house is getting a little tired of everything being out of place so that’s an incentive to try and get the painting done. 

I’ve started distressing the fireplace that we took off to plaster the walls, and we’ve hidden the little bits and pieces we’ve bought for the room in a cupboard until the room is ready for them.

Not long now.

confessions.

Well I’ve broken into my box of Kit-Kat Chunky peanut butter bars, i have swapped all my stuff from my old purse to my new beautiful green one and I have worn my new shorts (funnily enough, they’re green too).  I woke up this morning feeling so much better so that’s a belated birthday gift in itself.

I was reminded today (totally random thought as well) about a conversation I had with a friend when I was, hmmmmm, about 15.  We met when a load of young people descended on my home church to do a weeks youth mission, and she was L.O.U.D.  I’m talking seriously confident and charismatic.  This conversation happened a little while after we met and she admitted that SHE had felt INTIMIDATED about ME.  Yes, I wrote that right.  Now you need to understand that I am way more confident now that I was as a teen.  I was so shy around new people (ok, maybe I’m not that much more confident now because I still feel like a right lemon around people I don’t know).  So it knocked me for six.

I don’t like the idea of anyone being intimidated by me.  I’m so easily intimidated myself, I know how it feels.  So I’m here to remedy this problem – if anyone else was to be so out of their minds as to feel intimidated by me.  You know when you’re nervous of public speaking you’re supposed to picture the audience naked?  Well don’t you dare picture me naked!! The whole point of that is to make them seem less powerful to you and therefore you can find your confidence (isn’t it awful that it always seems to be a battle of power?! ) And there is no better way to make yourself powerless than to throw confessions onto the table.

So for one night only, here are 5 real and raw confessions.

1. I have no idea what people are going on about when they use the word instagram.  I know it’s something to do with photos but after that you’ve lost me.  When it pops up here and there I just nod and smile.

2. I am petrified a teeny weeny bit afraid of old-school posters.  It doesn’t matter where you go, they’re always staring at you.

3. I cannot add up in my head without using my fingers.

4. Some people think I’m really tough for labouring and giving birth twice with only gas and air but truth is I was too out of it  with the gas and air to ask for anything else.

5. When we hadn’t been going to Emmanuel long, one Sunday morning I came back from the toilet and Rob whispered to me that he had told one of the leader’s I’d do a bible reading later on in the church service.  I was so horrified and self conscious I grabbed the car keys and legged it.  Yes and I’m a paid member of staff now.

So there you are.  five reasons why  not to feel at all intimidated by me.