Monday, 31 January 2011

Peel Acres, And Will Leanne Ever Find All Those Bottles Behind The Cushions?

Tonight the 11 year old wanted to put on some Jeff Buckley. Therein lay the potential to mine the vein of  Drowned Musicians, seeing as my next immediate thought was "and Brian Jones". I excluded rock-gods-found-in-the-bath, and decided against drawing up a playlist on the basis that Corrie was about to start.

The Heathcliffesque Secret-Not-Lemonade-Drinker Peter Barlow is never quick enough. There are now so many glasses and bottles stuffed hastily behind the cushions; luckily for him nobody ever seems to do a bit of cushion-plumping.

I don't think my handle on current affairs is too hot sometimes. My first reaction to the "Fatwa on May" headline was that James, or possibly Brian, must have done something a little inappropriate. But I suppose that's not too bad, seeing as some of the students I work with are qualifying to arrange holidays for people, yet can't even tell you where the Caribbean is. Or Glasgow. There are strong reactions to the abolition of the educational maintenance allowance, one of which was a 10-strong torrent of commas in one of Lucy Mangan's sentences this weekend. Back in the day, I survived teenage life on the dual-joys of John Peel and a full grant at a uni desperate enough to take my mediocre A'level results. Times are tough for school-leavers these days - needing a sugar daddy in order to pay for a degree are somehow mutually incompatible.


Monday. My head's all over the place, and my legs don't feel connected to the rest of me anymore. A day of too many people, too many different things. Tomorrow my parenting skills (ie lying on the sofa avoiding domestic mundanities, failing to plan menus, random supermarket raids producing more to wear than to eat, and have we mentioned the magazines?) are being put under scrutiny vis a vis why Boy 1 is no longer on the radar of school. Should be interesting....
Meanwhile, I am going to have to face the cold and joyless world that is online grocery ordering. That's usually 45 minutes of looking at miniscule photographic representations of meaningless stuff, and accidentally buying the vegetables by the packet and not individually. Yeah, I really wanted 12 packets of tomatoes that time. In the meantime I have convinced myself that we do actually have enough to concoct dinner tonight... as long as its sardine risotto.

And today's soundtrack is that of the fishtank gurgling, and a pair of 11 year olds demolishing biscuits whilst spying on their friends' mums' facebook. On second thoughts, I'll get that Interpol cd...

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Strange Sunday

By jeez, its a strange morning. Just me and The Pixies (the ones with superb bass, not the ones at the end of the garden). The boys are still asleep. Blogland is quiet too. I'm starting to wonder whether I've slipped into some parallel universe during the night, thinking I'm here all alone at 11.06, when in truth nothing of the sort is actually true. Dreaming that I'd been sacked and had to find somewhere to live in Germany and become a nurse, all by Thursday, was a layer of surrealism too far.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

A Day In The Life...

Various things over the past few days have brought me to revisit what I am doing with my life, what did I think It was all going to be like, etc. So far this morning I have come up with 3 "certainties" that my teenage self decided would definitely happen. 1. To be an Amnesty member, 2. To trace my Dad's family, and 3. That I would live in a 3-storey house. Ok, its not a stucco'd Eaton Square des res, but 3 storey it is (Ten Storey Love Song jingling on the cerebral jukebox), four if you count the cellar. Which is at odds with how to hoover a multi-staired abode. Currently, infrequently. Oh to invest in the technology where a vacuum hose can be pulled from the wall at various points of convenience. Until then, I'd better get down to Argos for one of those dinky car cleaning gadgets. When I was at primary school and we were all looking forward to being grown-up in The Year 2000, wearing silver lame and knocking back food pills, I wanted tv that would let you watch whatever was on that day but when you wanted to watch it. And now we have... but instead of food pills they gave us Gordon Ramsay. Can't have everything, as they say.

The family history has been a doddle. Found the cad who abandoned my dad, but he hadn't died in the 1930's, he died in 1965 in South Kensington. I took a photo of the building he lived in, and had a drink in his local this summer. We've decided to bury the past and not to tell my Dad that it wasn't how he'd been led to believe.

Amnesty soothes my conscience at living in such a barbaric, mad, mad, world. I email and write and annoy dignitaries, but its a small drop in the ocean. And then blog a bit more about buying new earrings...

The rest of my life is largely like it was when I was 17, but with less cider, 100% control over my finances, and without the bulimia, and the suicide attempts my mum and stepfather were prone to.

Meanwhile, the 11 year old is dancing round the kitchen to the Stone Roses.

Friday, 28 January 2011

From New Earrings To Bobbie Gentry

Guilty of yet another detour in the supermarket, I've ended up with more earrings. Dangly and not ones to wear if you were trying to wedge a phone between your ear and a hunched shoulder, their silver wire fiddly configuration reminds me of these:


       Metal Mandalas

Forgetting their name, googling "bendy wire beaded Indian toy" got "DIY budgie playground" and "why cats might like chewing wire". I may need to know those things one day....

These mandala patterns........ 

.......remind me of a Sonia Delaunay painting that stopped me in my tracks at the Tate when I was 17:

And so far this evening we have been playing Deacon Blue. And, blow me down. There's that Bobbie Gentry cover...

Thursday, 27 January 2011

A Postful of Orange

Tonight we have cd's flying out of the cupboard, left right and centre. The rotting joists are dipping even more with the weight teetering next to the cd player.... Why I have not yet become an iPod convert I don't exactly know... maybe something to do with liking to have sleevenotes, cover art, info that comes with cd's, shards of plastic shearing off cheaply assembled cases...

So far we have known and lurved Sawdust (on which lurks a far more listenable version of romeo & juliet and an interesting Shadowplay cover), His'n'Hers, Urban Hymns, and now Electric Landlady. This one's getting all a bit samba-esque, albeit underlined by the tragedy with that speedboat. S'pose if I had an iPod I'd move on swiftly to There's A Man Works Down The Chipshop Swears He's Elvis.

Last night I flicked over to the many-shades-of-tangerine that is Mary Portas' dynamic coiffure. The marvellous Ms Portas was battling on behalf of people allegedly daft enough to buy pieces of furniture too large for their homes. She spoke to a salesman who earned £57k in commission by selling sofas to such people. Amazing.

And then, for a bit of late-night retrorama and pathos, I caught the Ruth Jones being Hattie Jacques thing. It came over pretty well, although ended with sadness and broken vases in a hotel room. However I lurved the delightful styling details du jour, such as this CatherineHolm kitchen ware. I may even be buying the Hattie biog, as long as its packed with Smiths-cover-worthy photos.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

A Random Supermarket Haul

Today I was all a little weary-of-life and abstractly bereft, and also with vague intentions of making a lasagne tonight. So, into the supermarket. For an idle browse/buy session, rather than full-on trolley dash. I love multi-purpose shops - you can go in, pretending you're going to get some cheese, and come out with a fistful of new jewellery and a couple of bags of cushions. Failing that, there's always the Aisle of Interesting Things to peruse, should you fancy a stripey picnic rug, some uber-bright garden candles, or even some snazzy packaging on the boxes of tissues. Visuals, dahling, visuals. Sometimes I rein myself in, and time-and-money-manage myself quite well, with a list. Other times, well, only a random splurge will do.

So, today, me and the empty trolley are loitering around the bargaintastic-plastic-jewellery display. Except there's some daft moo intent on restocking the display. Rather than appear rude, I go off for a bit to see if there's any point considering the black jeans. Only for wearing under dresses, in which case own-brand may be acceptable. Then the school ring, something about forms and the educational psychologist visit next week. Multi-task instinct kicking-in as soon as a phone hits my ear, I find 2 pairs, £8 each. Roaming back to the silly moo still cluttering up my view of the bargaintastic-plastic, I quickly extract a dinky little necklace, multi-coloured and totally tootie frootie in texture. Conscious of the deirdre barlow effect setting in between my chin and my collarbone, I am getting up minutes earlier these days in order to ensure that I wear some sort of necklace arrangement to the World of Work.

And, rolling the trolley s-l-o-w-l-y past the candles, and past the cushions, I hesitate fatally at the kitchen gadgetty bit. NO!!!!! to new things for the kitchen, wait until after the refit... but its 3-for-2, and the 11 year old must be encouraged in his newly-developing foodie interest.... some big fat tongs, brushed aluminium, excellent to have hanging up, even better for heaving slices of cake off plates, a zester just-because-I've-never-had-one and I saw some zest-requiring-recipe the other day, and a y-shaped peeler. Because I want to see if the peel is alphabetty-shaped.

Right then, lasagne. Cheese. Milk? No, enough at home, don't need it, fingers crossed. Extra penne, because I have decided to make my trolley haul look sophisticated, plus lasagne sheets. And oh dear. Then I find all these nice, shiny little rectangular silver tins of spices... and coriander in a jar.... surely having some of these will make me want to cook more? And think how lovely a few of these will look on the shelf...  I get 2, not wanting to be too rash.

And some UK-grown pink-and-white-striped tulips. And, as it turns out, the own-brand jeans don't make my bum look big in this. Although the 11 year-old turned his nose up at the idea of me serving up homemade lasagne...

Sunday, 23 January 2011

"The Cupcake Industry"

Ha! I'm putting my loathing of "The Cupcake Industry" into print! I may have to go into hiding, from teenage girls and domestic goddesses, but hey... Don't get me wrong. Cakes are practically my staple diet. And small cakes are ok but I'd really prefer them to be Fondant Fancies if they have to be individually portioned.

What I really hate about cupcakes is the damn "industry" - the whole aisle in Lakeland devoted to the paraphernalia, the wholesome twee cutesiness, the symbolism... Its all part of that thing that young girls do now, screeching at each other, and hugging, when in fact they've actually only seen each other the day before. I know about this. I work in a college. Its dreadful..... Sociologists will probably put "The Cupcake Industry" in the same chapter as  Cath Kidston,  fake-retro kitchenalia ie mass-produced pastel-coloured tins, skinny lattes, intonation in speech, and Ugg boots.

7 Things - Part Two

For Kim, who has given me my 2nd award. Actually, I could just post lists whenever I felt like it but Kim has actually asked me to do this one! And I am in a fractured-Sunday-afternoon-mood, where I can hide from the kitchen on here and not have to concentrate on anything much...

  1. I do not have a driving licence. Loads of lessons but too inconsistent -  veered between good driving days and totally terrible driving days. Irrational fear of failing the test, but did pass the theory test (2 pairs of shoes to celebrate.) My dream car it would be a black Citroen DS or a cream vintage Jag, but if it had to be a new one it would be a Chrysler Landcruiser because they remind me of the car in the Waltons.
  2. I don't have any siblings but always wanted some.
  3. When I was about 3 I sat under my Grandma's table and put a grapefruit pip in my ear (pretending it was a hearing aid). Cue late night trip to A&E to have it extracted....
  4. I once made a cup of herbal tea for Donna Karan, who was visiting where I used to work.
  5. I drink black tea, or coffee with a really precise amount of milk in. The craze for skinny lattes, etc, is totally passing me by...
  6. The first band I ever saw was Be Bop Deluxe.
  7. I hate "The Cupcake Industry". So twee. Cakes are for slicing...

Friday, 21 January 2011

I Love These!

A new find today, from of all places, my BANK. Well, not them as such. But a 15 minute wait to see a Useless Customer Advisor meant a flick thru the natwest free magazine! Not purely dullsville; there were smatterings of style-stuff, wouldyabelieveit?? So on page 25 were some cute bags..... Envirosax, available thru their own site, and Amazon et al...

Product Details

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Good Yawning, Whoops, I Mean Good Morning...

Had a big, big, January slump last week from Tuesday til Sunday and pretty much stopped doing anything sparkly. The post-new-year thing hits a lot of people - starting January full of renewed va-va-voom, then just running a bit empty after a while - but this time it was down to literature!

We were too early for the dentist on Tuesday afternoon, so killed time in Waterstones - the 11 year-old found 2 books, and it was 3-for-2. I went for a really thick novel with lots of orange on the cover - "One Day" by David Nicholls. I got stuck into it that evening, only putting it down to sleep and go to work, and finished it Thursday night. Ok, it was chick-lit stuff, by a man, but very thought-provoking and cleverly woven together. So, that's Trashsparkle's first ever, official, book recommendation...

The book was ace, but the not-doing-anything-else wasn't - hence the slump. I was reading blogs but there was nothing happening in my mind, no comments firing up, I had nothing to post about... I think the only thing I managed to write was a shopping list. I hibernated on the sofa all day Saturday, flicking channels. Zilch. Not even the 2 Carry On films... then Sunday I began perking up, and wolfed handfuls of Christmas rum truffles all afternoon.

I came home from work on Monday, and picked up some blackboard paint to retouch the tv unit. Then I painted the inside of the front door. All that sofa time over the weekend had me looking at that door in despair; I'd stripped it in the summer, hoping to get a waxed, walnutty effect, but it just looked like a paint-stripped door. Very unfinished. I don't do gloss - too much like hard work. So that is now fully blackboard-painted. With new dark plastic letterbox draught-excluder-thing, and all fine and dandy.

Yesterday I had a spare hour after work, and stood at the sink wondering why we've lived here for nearly 10 years with our window looking onto a dreary brown fence. Out with the cream masonry paint, and one panel is now revamped. Which means more painting today....but the day is shiny and sunny, so It Will Get Done.

I function better if I do little things all the time, so that little regular achievements are being made... Sofa-Time is no good. Just remind me to remember that!

Monday, 17 January 2011

A Fun Award...

.... courtesy of the fab Lizzie at

This is how it goes.  I now take a turn to list 7 things that my blog has hitherto not told you about myself. I then nominate some more lovely bloggers to do likewise....all totally non-compulsory. So, a bit like a chain letter, but without any bad luck looming over those who don't pass it on.

  1. When I was 3, I got thrown out of ballet class for being disruptive
  2. Once upon a time I was going to be a landscape architect
  3. I used to live next door to the Little Georgia cafe, which is pictured in
  4. I have never eaten lychees
  5. I hate salt'n'vinegar crisps
  6. When I was a kid I once got to ride in the driver's cab of a tube train - no, it wasn't Jim'll Fix It; my aunt used to work for them
  7. I used to dream in French while I was staying there on holiday

I am going to pass this award on to Kim at

Sunday, 9 January 2011


Taking advantage of a lovely sunny morning for a spot of snapping, here are a couple more corners at Trashsparkle Towers... The kitchen is black and white, with hits of red and turquoise and bright blue, so that's where the red reindeer ended up! The mugs feed my love for mismatched black and white patterns, 2 of my 1960s melamine chopping boards (I have more stored away!), and the fridge "mood board thing" is full of random bits that catch my eye. I could never be a minimalist.... ;)

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Trashsparkle's Tuneful Times

Having a good vibeful few days....
  • Bought necklaces in Dorothy Perkins to Gorillaz' On Melancholy Hill
  • Saw Blur's 1999 gig on Sky Arts
  • Caught a load of stuff about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - I had so underrated them! The drummer Stan Lynch was so cute I ended up watching most of the Bogdanovich documentary...
  • And toast'n'tea'n'sunshine this morning to Lynsey de Paul; the boys do not approve of this cheesiness, so that could be weaponry for me for when they have been BAD :)
  • Meanwhile we are now playing the Beatles, and the 11 year old is exploring the Paul McCartney-replaced-by-lookalike-conspiracy stories from the sixties...

Thursday, 6 January 2011


Hey ho, it occurred to me that I had posted yonks ago about my new mantelpiece.... here, very belatedly, is said marvel, all fested up. Quite reluctant to take all the sparkly stuff off for another year, but I'm sure there will be plenty of treasures to display on it soon.

Which moves us on to resolutions for 2011:
  1. To put more photos on my blog - and even some of things other than my unfinished house!
  2. To sort out better lighting for my photos. Maybe even do a bit of photoshoppy stuff?
  3. To be a bit more structured with my time. OK, a lot more. Waste less time snoozing on the sofa with magazines, and just generally keep on top on my life.
  4. Keeping on top of my life shall entail seeing friends more, and generally trying to roll out of the house before 3pm.
  5. To make no more resolutions, but I just like odd numbers, so hey...
Happy Resolving

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Quick Fix Decor!

In today's earlier post I demonstrated how rubbish I am at accomplishing tasks requiring planning, measuring, alignment and the use of power tools. Here are some examples of how the house is being temporarily prettied up while I fritter away valuable house-finishing time by lying on the sofa with Elle Decoration. Note the 2 large canvasses on the stairwell almost cover up the unpainted bits...

In a similar vein of hide-it-until-I-fix-it, the pink metallic wrapping paper is hiding some very serious wall-sanding which needs to be done. The mirror is just so cute - green gloss. Who loved it that much before I found it?

My library-cum-dressing-area, or rather the narrow landing!  

Gently Does It

Today I am taking my daily exercise via walking to and from the cooker and the kettle - a day of hard rain, the last day before returning to work, so what could be more essential to one's joie de vivre than pancakes and many cups of tea? And catching up on the luscious crop of fresh posts from all my favourite bloggers. You know who you are.

I am also having a pyjama day due to over-zonking myself on ridulous Destroy-It-Yourself missions yesterday. Man, it was a BAD day. I had two young Lads in to run some tv cabling into son 1 and son 2's rooms - decadent for me, seeing as I grew up with tv not only in a singular quantity, but in black and white, with 3 channels... and you had to get up off the settee (which we modern peeps now call the sofa) to change those very channels. Oh the joy...

The cabling took a very different route to what I had envisaged - too easy to run it up the stairs with the other cables. No, The Lads discovered it could come in via the front bedroom and go through a wall or two. A large Billy had to be emptied and moved to accommodate the cabling. With me all the while pretending that the unfinished state of the house was entirely down to previous occupants and their love of No Nails. The Lads could probably tell from the account details that I have been here for 9 years...

Other than the impromptu bookcase shifting, a blind fell down too. It had already been re-hoiked up 3 times with a good whack of the hammer and much crossing of fingers, but the gaping hole around the fitting said it was finally time to put up the new blind. Purchased last Easter, taken out of packaging* and found to be wider than existing fittings, it had languished on the landing until I could face the effort and inevitable mess of Getting Around To Doing It. Blood, sweat and tears, hitting bedrock, critical mis-measurements, as well as a Tesco delivery, led to an evening which was The Bad Dream Which Would Never End. At a very late hour, the New Blind was unfurled. And found to be too short*. Perhaps that packaging would have been useful...

My muscles ache too much to re-do it today, the giraffe neck from craning up to use the drill is Epic and Ouch.... so bits of hardboard rest against the windowsill to fully complete the blackout function of Too Short New Blind, until I feel gungho enough to put it right.

Monday, 3 January 2011


Hello, and happy new year!

This morning I am feeling like a lop-sided giraffe. I am having difficulty turning my head left. Not really a problem as I do not, and do not ever intend to, cycle anywhere. However it is a bit ouch. Which means time to do the exercises my chiropractor told me to do everyday. But laziness = not doing them everyday = seized up neck = exercises done as emergency measures to alleviate seized up neck... Anyhows, everything today is looking a bit like I've got sea legs/inner ear infection balance malfunction. The laptop is at a really strange angle. Its either that my rotten floor joists really are sinking or else my head must be tilted as a result of this neck thing. Will I get funny looks later in B&Q?

Ah, yes, decluttering. Everyone seems to be doing some. Mostly filing cabinets, aka black holes. I have so far done far less than I wanted to, as I got no further than making a heap of unworn clothes on the bedroom floor before Christmas. I have instead resorted to flicking through magazines looking fruitlessly for pictures of houses with actual stuff crammed into them. Either people who have stuff  hide it well, or actually have a life and don't bother trying to get magazines to feature their homes...

I would post a photo of how the kitchen table looks this morning but a written description is, perhaps, less scary. On said table there are:
  • 3 pairs of school trousers waiting to be mended. They have been there for a very long time
  • A tin of Quality Street containing just the toffees, which evidently no one is going to eat so they may as well be thrown away
  • The christmas cards, to be cut into next year's labels instead of being slung in a carrier bag in the loft and being cut into labels hurriedly on christmas eve
  • A new packet of scissors
  • A tube of toothpaste - for the 11 year old's spot
  • A load of bubble wrap from christmas pressies
  • Last year's calendar
  • One of the kid's christmas stockings
  • Various ipod cables/phone chargers
  • A string of sequins and 2 packets of beads
  • Some plastic bags to go upstairs as bathroom binliners
  • A new packet of thank you cards 
Which proves a) there is far too much inertia at Trashsparkle Towers, and b) I maybe ought to get some of those wonderful Holding Company stair baskets.

On a more positive note, in a bid to have Less Stuff In My Life I have:
  • Cancelled one of my 4, yes, shamefully, 4!!!!, magazine subscriptions. Which is 25% less magazines to take up shelf space, and will mean 25% less time wasted lying on the sofa. In theory...
  • Reduced the price of 2 of the books on my Amazon inventory. To hell with it, they will sell.
  • Considered being more efficient by moving all things "for sale" to boxes under my bed. And then straightening up the deformed billy bookcase, by emptying it, bolting it to the wall, and re-arranging the remaining books and mags. Note, we are merely considering at this stage...
  • Actually put the clothes from the sorted-out heap into a bag. Well, only about a third of the pile, as I was obviously feeling more ruthless the day I created the heap.