BEDM: Special Talents

This was another prompt I have been dragging my feet over. BorderlineStraggler reckons I have just reached my 1/3 way through slump, but I think I am struggling so much with this one because it is hard not to write something that seems arrogant. I know the things I love doing do impress other people, but to me these are things that have been inspired by others, or I find myself jumping to show people how they can do something just as easily. I love sharing my skills, so I never really see them as all that.... special. For me it is hard to know what things are my special talents when it is all about context. For example, I work in participatory arts where the focus of my people's talents and enthusiasm is about running engaging interesting sessions. My ability to make a decent spreadsheet is seen as unusual, I run the risk cries of "burn the witch!" every time I pop in conditional formatting, turn off gridlines, or run a mail merge. But when I worked at Oxford, my limited knowledge of excel was below standard for the kind of work I had to do. I went on courses, pestered colleagues to show me what they were doing, and embraced the ideals of fake it till you make it - blustering through any bits I was unsure on and then furiously googling the answer in private. 

Nowadays my circumstances mean my most often mentioned work based special talents lie in my kick ass admin skills, my frankly beautiful forms and elegant processes. I am super proud of how I use these to improve my projects at work, but sometimes it'd be nice to have a slightly cooler special talent, like being able to hoop with fire like Katie, play the saxaphone like Dave, speak three languages like EmmaLou, ride a daredevil bike like Caroline, or take beautiful pictures like BorderlineStraggler. For now I shall content myself with being able to make a damn fine process, bake a cracking brownie, and make the cutest leather notebooks.


BEDM: A day in the life

I am really excited about this prompt today as I am going to have a very 'bloggable' day. There will be early train rides to Manchester, a conference, more trains, the premier of my friends' film, followed by dinner and drinks! Phew. I will be posting a photo an hour via instagram which will magically appear in my feed here >

If you are on instagram come check out my day @ratsasbigascats


7 am #adayinthelife #BEDM

A photo posted by @ratsasbigascats on



8am: train times. #adayinthelife #BEDM

A photo posted by @ratsasbigascats on


9am: getting my research on #adayinthelife #BEDM

A photo posted by @ratsasbigascats on


10am:Tiny break from proper work #adayinthelife #BEDM

A photo posted by @ratsasbigascats on


11am: The Whitworth branding is divine. Now shhhh its conference time #adayinthelife #BEDM

A photo posted by @ratsasbigascats on


12am:gorgeous location and weather for today's conference #adayinthelife #BEDM

A photo posted by @ratsasbigascats on


2pm: breakout session time #adayinthelife #BEDM

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3pm: catching up on some "urgent" calls during a conference break #adayinthelife #BEDM

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6pm: train again. Lots of hot drinks to get warmed up #adayinthelife #BEDM

A photo posted by @ratsasbigascats on

A photo posted by @ratsasbigascats on

10pm: dinner might help #adayinthelife #BEDM

A photo posted by @ratsasbigascats on


BEDM: Home Sweet Home

BorderlineStraggler and I are renovating our first home. We were committed renters until an inheritance meant we were able to think about buying. This was never in our plan, having lived in Oxford for years where there was no chance we could ever afford to buy a house we'd written off buying as something other people did. The beauty of moving from the dreaming spires to a tiny city on the border of Wales was that, along with lack of deli's, few late night brownie and ice cream opportunities, and no French restaurants, the house prices were actually reasonable. With some fancy work from our brilliant mortgage advisor, just a little under a year ago we bought our first house. After years of having bemoaned our ability to Change Things in the many houses we've lived in, it turned out once you could do anything, it meant you had to do everything!

Our renovation to-do list is still epic, but alongside huge things like having the basement converted into amazing studio space, or getting a new roof, we have found joy in the little improvements, like building the perfect cookbook shelf in the kitchen:

or finally painting that chair I've had for over a decade

Or replacing the disgusting string on our kitchen airer for something a little more stylish

Our home is far from finished, but I am loving having dirty, painty hands, and seeing the details I have been dreaming about for years come to life. You can expect a lot of house-y things on the ol'blog in the coming months years. I hope you enjoy watching our home, sweet home, appear. 


BEDM: Share the Blog Love

I started reading The Black Apple's blog back in 2008. I had only recently discovered blogs and I was smitten. I loved her aesthetic, her tone of voice, and the things she made were perfect - just the right amount of whimsy for me. I desperately wanted some of her work but I couldn't afford the beautiful dolls, or really stretch to the international shipping on a print. I did eventually buy myself a little piece of The Black Apple world. I have two prints and they have lived on everyone of my desks. Telephone girl still makes me smile, and if I could I would visit a house in the woods immediately. But almost more than the prints I was in love with the packaging. I kept the envelope for years, before finally making it the cover for my 50 words 50 images project at college, where it stood as an example of the kind of crafty business owner I longed to be.

The Black Apple's career has changed a lot over the last few years, becoming a successful children;s book author and illustrator. Her blog has changed a lot too. Posts are few and far between, and I often long for the days of her long posts which I would sit down and enjoy with a cup of tea. Nothing could cheer me up faster from stressful meeting at work than losing myself in her Christmas posts from years gone by. And then I sort of moved on there were other blog girls, I had my heart stolen by business blogs, and lifestyle blogs and the occasional art school blog. But recently I have found myself at a loose end, desperate for the cosy familiarity of her 2008 so I wandered over to that candy striped corner of the internet and was so saddened to find that Emily had removed these older archives from her blog. Nothing earlier than 2008.

But we all know that nothing is ever really gone from the internet and the wonderful Way Back When machine leapt to the rescue and provided me with her full Archives right back to the beginning in April 2006. My stressed out self can once again enjoy this little corner of history.


Audio Adventures:

Rivers of London wasn't the first audio book I bought (audible tells me it was my 5th...) but it was the first one I really got properly sucked into. So much so that 5 days later I bought the sequel and similarly devoured that! Set in London, this series follows PC Peter Grant as he finds himself dragged into the magical underbelly of London when trying to take a witness statement from a witness who is undeniably dead.

The book is a perfect balance of pace and character, with the magical world being so well crafted that it is entirely believable. Though the book is told from Peter's perspective the supporting characters are fully realised characters which I find sometimes doesn't happen in first person narrative. This isn't the longest audio book at a smidge over 9 hours, but I found myself walking incredibly slowly to work to try and eek out a few extra minutes listening, or offering to do both the cooking and the washing up as an excuse to hear more of where the story would go. And a lot of that is down to the wonderful job that Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does of narrating the book. He does a great range of believable accents for the different characters in the book which is rarer than you would hope for in audio books, and his Peter Grant is perfect. 

Too perfect in fact. 

Having devoured the first two books in days I faced an interminable wait until 'Whispers Underground' was released. I was so excited that the day it came out I rushed down to Waterstone's, bought a copy and settled down for the next instalment of my favourite wizard detective. And failed. I tried to read those first few chapters at least 5 times before I gave up. What was the problem? Had Aaronvitch lost his spark? Was the magic police finally too unbelievable? No, none of these. I couldn't get the voice right in my head! Like having your proper Sherlock, the only proper Peter Grant was the one as read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. 

And that was the moment I truly fell in love with audio books as their own thing, rather than as a hands-free alternative to reading. When the voice in my head wasn't as good as the voice in my ears I knew I was lost to the wonderful world filled with Audio Adventures. 

So if the idea of Magic, crime, and the most perfect reading voice intrigues you I highly recommend the Rovers of London series. I am pretty sure Rivers of London is my favourite, followed very closely by Moon over Soho, but they are all wonderful. 

ps Today should be BEDM: Cinco de Mayo, but I couldn't get myself event slightly excited by it. However if you want some Mexican themed blogging you can check our my post from last year here


BEDM: Guilty pleasures

I was very tempted not to do this post prompt. I disagree with the idea of a guilty pleasure*. The things I love may not be your cup of tea but I tend to fall in love with things pretty hard and trying to persuade me that I shouldn't enjoy them will generally only make me a)spend longer convincing you of their awesomeness or b)a parting of ways until my love affair has fizzled out. Honestly I spend more time on category a which sadly often leads to the other person invoking category b.....

This quote by Eames is one which resonates deeply with me. 5 years ago I was working at a huge university, spending my evenings away wishing I was one of those crafty women who spent their lives creating things and then blogging about them, never really taking my own crafty pursuits seriously. I went to evening courses, I had flirted with so many different techniques and crafts that I was able to whip up a handmade gift when needed, and I had run a stall at a fairly disastrous craft fair.But I hadn't ever taking it seriously.

Until one day I did.

I discovered that crafting was something you could do a degree in and my life changed! I applied to a BA in Contemporary Applied Arts, got in, moved to Hereford, and worked really REALLY hard to get a first. I took the things that gave me pleasure seriously and now I am in the lucky position of working in the Arts, using my degree to help support the lives of isolated older people.

So don't ever dismiss something as a guilty pleasure, if it is important to you and you enjoy it, take it seriously. You deserve it. Who knows where it may lead you.

*This being said I am deep in the throws of love affairs with the following things:

  • RuPaul's Drag Race
  • White glass writing pens
  • Re watching the West Wing (the UK election seems so blah that we need a little drama in our politics!)
  • my Audio Adventures

BEDM: Self care sunday

Today I am in very much need of a self care Sunday. It is a very busy time at work and I am having that dreadful thing when you can't even turn off your brain to sleep. Rather than tying myself to the computer writing blogs as planned I have been taking having a very lazy day.

My self care Sunday involved baking, friends, and tea:


BEDM: Adventure

My first Adventure was Paris.

My very best EmmaLou first took me there is 2006. I was 24, and about to marry a man I had met only a few months before. It was in the Summer of Love when my life changed completely. We stayed in a real life working Paris fire station, I learnt about pop-out light switches, had my first bikini wax (conducted entirely in French, translated by EmmaLou in a situation so awkward we still laugh about it), I visited my first tabac, saw the Eiffel tower, went to the louvre and didn't see the Mona Lisa, and I bought the comfiest pair of knickers I have ever owned.

The most exciting thing about the trip was how spur of the moment it was. I didn't know EmmaLou all that well, but she was going to Paris and I had never been. In fact the whole summer could be described as spur of the moment. I fell in love in a stripey-jumpered moment. I danced too many nights away, and spent many mornings trying to type quietly so as not to awaken my hangover. I lay on the floor between speakers, learning about music and developing an enormous Patti Smith crush. I spent the most perfect hour sat in the gardens of the Barbican, planning a brand new life. Most of my life had been spent worrying about what other people would think, what would make them happy, without really taking any time to think about what made me happy. That summer taught me that the best things in life come from the adventures that happen when you make that spur of the moment decision, if it feels right, it probably is. And if it doesn't work out, just make another decision, try a different path. Perhaps this adventure didn't work out, but the perfect one is probably just another spur of the moment decision away.


BEDM: Introduce Yourself

Picture courtesy of BorderlineStraggler

Sometimes at work I find myself being surprised at a previous bout of efficiency on my part that makes the day run a little more smoothly. At these times I always find myself congratulating Past Penny. At the moment this blog feels like something Past Penny did and not me now which make me really blue. I loved blogging and I miss it.

Enter #BEDM

Blog Every Day in May is a challenge run by Rosalium, and this year I am attempting it...again. Day one is Introduce Yourself, so as it has been so long I am going to introduce Present Penny & her Rats as Big as Cats.

I work as a project manager at an arts centre in Herefordshire running an arts programme mainly aimed at older people. It is an exciting, tiring, challenging job that I love most of the time. Due to the client group I work with I can't really share much of my day to day job here, but for me it has been the perfect combination of my creative side and my project management experience. My favourite days are when I can make a process not only efficient but also beautiful (my forms are a riot of cheerful, colourful joy).

Outside of work I am renovating my first house with BorderlineStraggler, attempting a 50 books challenge, and slowly making my way back to a crafty life after Art School stole all my creativity! This blog follows those adventures as I make my way in the world. You can expect lots of craft, musings on life, the occasional book review, and maybe even a tutorial here and there.


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