Life Update: What Have I Done?

I’ve had a slightly longer break from work than anticipated; but don’t worry, there’s nothing sinister afoot. I’m not ill, the dog didn’t die, I’ve not had a drastic facelift that meant I needed to hide behind bandages for a month. I was just absolutely shattered before Christmas and then the school holidays (aka “the great relentless abyss of no childcare”) completely finished me off.

I won’t harp on about Christmas not being a holiday – you can read this post from the same time last year and just update the kids’ ages – but it’s safe to say that having a four and two year old is as much work (possibly more) than having a three and a one year old. At least toddlers (generally) haven’t discovered eye-rolling and chat-back. At least toddlers are vaguely amused by wrapping paper, empty boxes and the jangly bell from a Lindt bunny tied to the end of a piece of ribbon. Fast-forward a year and the children now want painting games on the iPad and festive biscuit-decorating sessions.

Anyway, to cut a long and fairly pedestrian story short, I decided to take a few casual days off when school started back last week so that I actually had more than twenty seconds to myself. It was great. On the first of the two child-free days (there were four school days in total but Ted only goes to nursery part time) I stayed in bed looking for second hand velvet sofas on eBay and browsing for vintage rugs on Vinterior. On the second child-free day, which – alas – wasn’t consecutive – I went to Bath in the morning with Mr AMR, had some lunch and then sorted out the shoes and boots in the utility room. Bliss.

So that covers the two days last week when I actually had some proper time off: what of the rest of the “holiday”? What an earth have I been up to, seeing as though I’ve been on a self-imposed social media ban which theoretically should free up about nine hours a day? Here’s a run-down: brace positions, people, it’s a wild ride.

I learnt how to use the scanner thing at Sainsbury’s. Have you used these supermarket handheld beepy scanner things? I’m not talking about the self checkout tills, which are so useless and stress-inducing they make me want to chew off my own feet, I’m referring to the handsets that you pick up at the start of your shop and take around with you, zapping barcodes as you go, so that at the end of your shop you can just pay and go.

No unloading the trolley at the till only to pack it up again and then unload it into the boot of your car.  (Sounds such a ridiculous waste of time when you write it down.) No watching helplessly as your bottle of Malbec slowly rolls along the conveyor belt, straight off the end and then smashes on the floor. No performance anxiety as you try to pack your bags in front of the people waiting in the queue behind you – the pressure as you feel them judging your packing speed and dexterity! The shame as you fumble to retrieve your bag-for-life from the floor! The panic as a loose lime you’ve reached for rolls away, escaping your grasp. You can feel your audience’s eyes trained upon you – they wince as you pack heavy potatoes on top of squishy cherry tomatoes, they breathe an audible sigh of relief when you realise that the milk is leaking and ask if someone could possibly get you another.

“JANET! JANET! Six litres of full fat on checkout nine! The woman’s got a leaky one!”

None of that when you use the handheld scanner. Utter genius, it is. Although I have to say, don’t let your kids mess about with it. I almost paid for eight giant boxes of dishwasher tablets and a “Pressure King” pressure cooker.

I saved over £290 on curtain tie-backs. Yes, you heard me – £290! The one from Samuel & Sons that matched my tasselled curtain (photo above) would have been £300 inc VAT and I managed to get an (admittedly much plainer) version without the tassel but with all the same tying-back abilities in the Laura Ashley sale. Eight quid! The fact that it took me around ninety-five man hours to research alternative tie-backs is by the by. I’m pretty sure my labour costs were more than the original tie-back…

I made Yorkshire Puddings properly for the first time and they were immense. Quite literally. I put a bit too much batter into each tin and they rose to just about fill the top oven. I think one of them was almost ten inches tall. Who cares, though – more is more when it comes to Yorkshire Puddings, surely? It’s the only part of a roast dinner I’m actually bothered about. Next year at Christmas I might just make myself a giant Yorkshire and fill it with gravy. Bit of al dente broccoli. Scrap of turkey and a dollop of cranberry and I’m done.

I took the stair gate off and now Mr Bear the cat is an omnipresent menace. Honestly, life was easier when he was confined to the ground floor. Now that he has free run of the house he sneaks up on you when you’re in the shower, jumps onto your back when you’re sitting on the loo and pounces on the kids’ feet in bed. He’s having an absolute whale of a time. Although I caught him pointing his claws in the direction of my velvet upholstered Soho Home bed the other day and so the gate might have to be resurrected. It’s been so nice without it though – just walking down the stairs, freely, without having to wrestle with the lock and then risk breaking my neck tripping over the frame. We could have taken it down about a year ago if it wasn’t for the cat and his penchant for creeping about the place and using furniture to sharpen his nails…

I did a self-imposed social media ban. Which I’ve already mentioned, but it’s worth saying again: I didn’t look at any social media from the 21st of December until the other day. Amazingly, my screen time didn’t go down, but that’s because I used all of the social media time trawling the internet for furniture bargains. I reckon if you squished all of the time together, I spent a full day and night searching for stuff on Vinterior – the scrolling started to make me feel seasick! (By the way, if you want to get £50 off your first order over £500 with them use RUTHCRILLY in the code box. This isn’t a special affiliate setup – anyone who orders with them can get a code.)

Why the social media ban? I just wanted a quiet and relaxing Christmas (HA!) and to properly stop thinking about work for a couple of weeks. The thing is that I have a perpetual internal monologue as I go about my day – I almost narrate my own existence – and because of this I’m always tempted to write down every thought that I’ve had, or record every action. Quite often little things I’ve done can form the basis for a post here on A Model Recommends, or I’ll jot down a thought that will then become a bigger idea which then requires a longer sit-down with pen and paper to elaborate, and unless I absolutely switch off, one hundred percent, the temptation is always there to quickly write a caption or draft a blog post.

So I moved all of my social media apps to a different page of the iPhone menu so that they weren’t staring me in the face when I opened my phone and then I just sort of forgot about them. I can highly recommend it, at least every once in a while. I actually think I have an OK relationship with social media – I’m definitely not addicted and can easily detach myself – but still. A digital cleanse felt pretty good!

Now I’m finding it quite hard to get back to work, however – I’m dragging myself very slowly into 2020, like a giant, jumper-wearing slug. I have been setting myself absurdly basic tasks so that my brain doesn’t go into shock;

email the sofa-fixing man about fixing the sofa, ask him to fix the sofa and how much it would be to fix the sofa. Can he even fix the sofa?

How are you finding the New Year? Did you set any resolutions or do you have a masterplan for 2020? Mine is to try and be more organised with work so that I don’t feel so stressed – plan my content and commitments in advance so that I know what I need to get done, rather than just fitting in tasks at the last minute or late at night. 2020 is the year of the new, streamlined me!

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19 Comments

  1. January 16, 2020 / 12:03 pm

    You have just put the biggest smile on my face this morning. I love your style of writing, you have a way with words that always makes me smile…..even when you are talking about the mundane things in life, you can make us rise above it and laugh about it…..next time that lime rolls off on me, I’m not going to panic about the queue behind me (and even if I do, which is more likely) I’m going to smile and give you a nod! Glad you (sort of) had a rest over Christmas and New Year! Even more glad you’re back though xx

  2. Nicki
    January 16, 2020 / 7:28 am

    Nice to have you back Ruth. If you have mastered the gun scanner in Sainsbury’s you are ready to move on to the phone version . No cumbersome scanner to juggle with bags and phone (if you are like me and have your list in your phone). Life changing indeed! I’m writing this without glasses at 7:30 am so apologies if it is unreadable

    • January 16, 2020 / 5:10 pm

      NO WAY! Is this for Sainsburys?!

      • Nicki
        January 20, 2020 / 1:54 pm

        Yes it is

  3. January 15, 2020 / 2:12 pm

    Bonne année 2020! So nice to hear from you! The only resolution I have is to finish my book. By the way, what happened to the one you were writing about 2/3 years ago? Please carry on recommending books:-)

    • January 16, 2020 / 5:13 pm

      Trying to get it published! x

  4. Gillian Pidler
    January 15, 2020 / 1:25 pm

    I must have missed the bit about a social break, I was thinking about you the other day and missing your witty posts, so I’m glad to see all is good in Crilly world.
    I find myself going on social less and less to be honest although I do love a good lost hour or so on Twitter, wetting myself at the posts & even more at the comments!! FB just seems to get on my tits lately and I’m sure I’m probably missing something vital on there but I don’t really care!
    We’ve had a busy start to the new year with having our kitchen floor screeded and new vinyl laid, new skirtings etc which Dad and me did together. Also lost some amazing neighbours which has been so sad as they’re more friends, but we’ll stay in touch, they’ve moved to Italy!! The dream!! And I have to say our new neighbours seem very nice, we’ve met the guy but not his wife yet. But after I put a card through their door welcoming them and introducing ourselves, we returned home the other day to a lovely card from them and a huge box of Malteasers so I think we’re going to get on just great!!
    Anyway it’s great to have you back and I feel your pain with Mr Bear and the soft furnishings! Our boy ruined our new curtains in the first week! Good job we love him so much.

    • January 16, 2020 / 5:14 pm

      Argh! CATS!!! Sorry to hear about your neighbours, though I am sure they will be enjoying better weather than in the UK so good luck to them! : )
      xx

  5. Susannah
    January 15, 2020 / 10:18 am

    What a breath of fresh air your blog is, how I have missed it. Thank you and for great content over on the Nightfeed app.

    • January 15, 2020 / 11:44 am

      Thank you, that’s so kind x

  6. Corrina
    January 15, 2020 / 8:24 am

    Great to hear from you again Ruth. It’s great to give social media and work a proper break. It’s been hot, dry and smoky here in Aus… but a pretty good Christmas with the fam. Bring on 2020. And some rain. C

    • January 15, 2020 / 11:44 am

      Ah yes, tough times over there, I’m so sorry x

    • susannah
      January 15, 2020 / 9:30 pm

      Yes, rain here in Sydney. I have never been so happy for it to rain in the middle of summer :)

  7. January 15, 2020 / 6:52 am

    I am sure I’m not the only one rejoicing in my head: Yay! Ruth is back!! It’s 10:45pm in California and just before turning out the light, I thought, hey, I’ll just look on AMR… And very glad I did. ;)

    I missed your internet presence, Ruth, but I’m so glad you made time for yourself and your family. Blessings to you all in 2020!

  8. Noe Pierce
    January 14, 2020 / 10:52 pm

    Happy new year Ruth! Good to see you back – been wondering what had happened to you x

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