Spot the “deliberate” mistake

When I saw this on Pinterest I knew that I had to write something about it. It is an error that I see on a regular basis and drives me up the wall.

To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong spelling mistake

Spot the deliberate mistake Source: mevesdropping.tumblr.com

If you can’t see what’s wrong in that sentence, please go and look up the word “loose” in a dictionary. Off the top of my head I will say it is an adjective and means the opposite of tight. It is not a verb! “Lose”, please note that there is only one ‘o’, is the verb that the creator was looking for.

As an English Language graduate and owner of two copies of “Eats, shoots and leaves“, I am horrified by the number of errors such as this that I see every day. And not just in casual writing, on Twitter and blogs, but in newspapers and magazines. Whoever does the editing for most of the monthly glossy magazines needs a course in grammar, let me tell you that. And don’t get me started on the television. I shout at the television when people get things wrong.

But how did the situation get so bad? I know it seems like a cop-out to blame schools but education is a big issue. I was lucky when I was at school in that we had spelling tests, we were taught how to use an apostrophe, we were taught what nouns, verbs and adjectives were. I’m not sure how much of this is taught in schools now. But what I learnt is still nowhere near sufficient.

My degree was split between English Language and French and I always found French grammar particularly difficult. I could only remember rules by remembering examples. But when I went to university and started studying English Language as a subject everything became much clearer. How on earth was I meant to learn the grammar of another language when I didn’t have a clue about the grammar of my own language?

So for me, the solution to the chronic issue of bad spelling and grammar lies in education and teaching children how to do things the right way. And whilst that will not rescue the current generation it might do a little to preserve the English language in the future.

What do you think about the current state of grammar and spelling in the UK? Do you think education should be improved or is it just how the English Language is evolving?

Average Josephine x

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Taking a battering

What many people don’t know about me is that my blog isn’t the first thing I’ve tried writing. When I was younger I was a voracious writer. By the age of fifteen I’d written two stories which were long enough to be described as books. Don’t get me wrong, they were melodramatic crap (I was a teenager, enough said), but to have written that sheer volume of words is, in my book, pretty impressive. All I wanted to do was to be a writer, to be able to spend my life moulding words for a living.

But as I got older and the pressures of life and the prospect of having to get a “real job” loomed, my writing was the one thing that fell by the wayside. A lot of it was due to the fact that as my poor depressed brain got sicker and sicker, my confidence dropped lower and lower until I had so little faith in myself as a person, let alone as a writer, I couldn’t face this thing I loved becoming one more thing I failed at.

And then nearly half a lifetime later, I discovered Twitter and through that the world of blogging. It took a couple of false starts before I started this blog and although it doesn’t have the biggest readership in the world, I am so grateful for each reader and each comment I get. I might never reach my dream of being a professional writer but having an outlet and a way to express myself is invaluable.

So when nearly two weeks ago, someone accused me of stealing copy for having offered to blog for a brand they had already covered (despite the fact that it was for a new and totally different product) and responding to two Twitter-wide tweets for bloggers, the little confidence I had gained was pretty much obliterated.

But the thing I have come to realise is that when faced with such baseless accusations, it shows much more about the person making the accusation than it does about you. Whether this blogger was worried that she’d lifted some copy or just generally insecure and worried that another blogger might produce a better post than her on a similar subject, I don’t know but unless someone has lifted copy directly from your blog, my vote would be to not accuse people, especially when you’re not aware of all the facts. It creates a lot of bad feeling and could do long-term damage to your credibility as a blogger.

As for me, I’m still very hurt, angry and upset. I’m even more upset that the issue has caused some serious damage to a long-term friendship which may well be irreparable. I’m not the sort of person to have a million and one friends so to have one take our friendship so lightly is something that hurts immensely. And the blogger? Well, time will tell what happens but it’s one time I really hope that Lady Gaga was right:

Lady Gaga "Karma" quote

Average Josephine x

A rose by any other name

Every now and again, life gives you a really nice surprise. For me, life managed this feat on Friday when I was feeling pretty low so news that I’d won something was just what I needed to pick my mood up from somewhere near rock bottom.

The competition I’d won was The Beauty Shortlist’s 7 days of beauty, which closed on Valentine’s day (less said about that date the better) and I’d won the first day’s prize, a candle from Jonathan Ward London in their most romantic of fragrances, Josephine’s Rose. If I was going to try one of their candles, this is the one I would have bought, being an avid rose fan, frequently wearing Jo Malone’s Red Roses perfume, using Ren’s Moroccan Rose Otto bath oil and body scrub, so I was especially thrilled when I won.

jonathan ward josephine's rose

Josephine's Rose, available from http://www.jonathanwardlondon.com

The candle duly arrived the next day and from the moment I opened the parcel, I knew I was in for a treat. Scented candles can sometimes be insufficiently scented to actually fragrance a room when burnt but this would never be a problem with this candle; it scents the room when unlit, the fragrance is so powerful.

The wax is made from organic soy and beeswax and so burns very cleanly with no black smoke and despite the fact that the candle isn’t larger than most of the glass housed candles on the market, it has two wicks to help ensure that all of the wax is burnt and you don’t end up with that annoying rim around the edge which just gets wasted once the candle burns down.

The glass the candle is housed in is hand blown Italian crystal glass and from the box to the care label on the bottom of the candle itself, everything is beautifully presented. And as for the scent, oh my word, it is amazing! A blend of four different roses plus cassis, it is an intensely heady scent  which is able to fragrance most of the house, let alone a single room.

If you read Jonathan’s blog, you can see how someone can develop such intensely powerful fragrances. For so many companies, scented candles are an “add-on”  product to enhance a range but whilst Jonathan is developing a range of fragrance diffusers, the candles are clearly the main event. His fragrances are developed in a similar way to perfumes, with top, middle and base notes, and if you read the issues he has had getting the diffusers exactly how he wants them, you know that hours of love, care and attention have been poured into every single one of his candles.

So I would like to say a massive thank you to Beauty Shortlist, Jonathan Ward and Wizard PR as I am loving my candle and am looking forward to trying some of the other fragrances soon.

Average Josephine x

Papered over

As I have mentioned before, I am moving back to my lovely little two bedroom flat after an extended stay with my parents (three years… rather too extended). And as I have been away for so long, and when I was there I was rather losing my marbles, I’m embarking on a project.

I’m redecorating my whole flat.

This project is going to take me a while as when there’s only one of you there is a limit as to how much you can get done in a weekend and also, I can’t quite afford to do the whole lot all in one go! So month by month I’m going to do bits and pieces and you will be able to see how it is going.

One of the most fun bits about redcorating is the hours you can spend, poring over paint charts and wallpaper samples. There is so much out there from the weird (do you want holographic pin up girls greeting you first thing in the morning?) to the fun and the frankly rather fabulous. I often think I should be locked in a padded room and with this wallpaper I can be, what more do you want?!

But I will confess to falling in love with a Farrow and Ball wallpaper called Lotus but unfortunately as F&B print to order, they have a minimum order quantity of 3 rolls of paper. As I think I’m only going to need one roll and this paper does cost a whopping £88 per roll, I might have to give it a pass on this occasion!

So in its place I have managed to find a couple of other wallpapers which I do love but are slightly less ruinously expensive! None of them are from anywhere exciting (Laura Ashley and John Lewis) but they go with the furniture and curtains and would do just enough to perk up my office.

'Coco' wallpaper from Laura Ashley

'Coco' wallpaper from Laura Ashley

'Gardenia' wallpaper by Harlequin

'Gardenia' wallpaper by Harlequin

There is the small issue that I will need to learn to hang wallpaper in order to do this but hey, how hard can it be?!
I’m really looking forward to my redecorating as it will give me a chance to turn a place where I was so miserable into somewhere I love living as well as giving me back the independence I have lacked for so long.
So, which wallpaper do you prefer? Or have you seen any others I might like? I’m open to suggestions!
Average Josephine x

Domestic Sluttery

To my mind there are two types of women: the domestic goddesses (and not in the tongue in cheek Nigella sort of domestic goddess sense) and those who believe that only dull women have immaculate houses…

I am the latter and the phrase “domestic sluttery” was designed for women like me. Luckily though, there is a website by the same name and Domestic Sluttery is in a league of its own.

Subtitled “the home and lifestyle blog for women who have better things to do” this site has a bit of everything and as such appeals to pretty much everyone. There are some regular posts, including “the boy and his poison” which, normally posted on a Friday, are a good start to the weekend as they often include a rather funky, and probably pretty lethal, cocktail recipe.

The site has a number of writers which means there is always something new to read and as they all have subtly different styles there is no risk of suffering from overload.

Domestic Sluttery has also gone mainstream with an eponymously titled book having been released on 1 November last year. It seems to be pretty popular as well, currently ranked 11 in Amazon’s Style and Decor category. Having flicked through the book before I gave it to a friend as a Christmas present, I can attest that it is just as good as the blog and well worth the price tag of £14.99 (or £8.49 if you shop on Amazon).

Domestic Sluttery

Domestic Sluttery

So if you haven’t checked out the blog, it’s well worth a look, although beware, it is addicitive and you can spend some serious time reading their wonderful and slightly sarcastic posts.

What are your favourite websites and blogs? Let me know in the comments box and I’ll try and review one next week!

Average Josephine

Just keep pinning…

Being a chronic insomniac, I have a lot of time where I don’t want to be doing anything that will involve my brain too much and keep me awake but lying in your bed when you can’t sleep is torture!

One of my default activities when I’m awake at 1am is to play freecell, one of the card games that comes as standard with virtually every version of Windows still in current usage. It’s not particularly taxing but the repetition of moving cards around is sometimes enough to make me drop off.  Although the fact that I’ve played about 5,000 games in a year does say something about the level of my insomnia…

But the other thing I have discovered which keeps me somewhere near sane (not entirely sure I can claim to ever have been totally sane) is one of the newer social media networks on the block…

Pinterest

For anyone who has yet to discover Pinterest, it allows you to create a virtual pinboard of images from the internet, pretty much any image you want, and organise them onto different boards. All the images are then available to repin and are categorised in to Art, Design, Home Decor etc.

Whilst in abstract it sounds spectacularly uninteresting, it’s actually a bit like a tube of Pringles. One you pop, you can’t stop! Or in this case, once you pin

I have ten boards and one of my favourite categories to explore is Home Decor as I’m moving into my flat in the near future (I’m getting there but procrastination is my favourite trick!) and want to do some redecorating. One of things I have discovered is that in an ideal world I want a really big, white, country style kitchen. I think I must have over 50 pictures of those alone.

But here are some of my favourite other pins which include a gorgous chair from Graham and Green, crafty ideas and what looks like the most incredible cake ever…

Recipe for home made lemon sugar body scrub

Recipe for home made lemon sugar body scrub

Graham and Green pink velvet slipper chair for one's boudoir...
Graham and Green pink velvet slipper chair for one’s boudoir…
Whimsical Bakehouse cake

Whimsical Bakehouse topsy turvy cake

What do you do when you can’t sleep? And if you have ventured into the world of Pinterest, what are your favourite pins?

Average Josephine x

Finding yourself…

I feel sometimes like I have failed at life.

When I was younger I had a set idea of the woman I was going to become.  I would go to university, have a successful professional career as an accountant or a lawyer or something similarly prestigious, meet a wonderful man, get married and maybe have a couple of kids plus the obligatory dog.

By the age of 31, I thought I would have at least reached the getting married part of this plan but with one thing and another, it’s not quite worked out that way.

I have a career, albeit one I’m not really sure I want. I am an exam qualified accountant, all that stands between me and the three letters that signify six years of hard work is a mountain of paperwork and whilst it seems ridiculous to let so much hard work go to waste, I do wonder whether accountancy is the right career for me.  Whilst part of me loves the rules and structure that it has, the lack of freedom and creativity is a bit stifling.  After all, creativity within accounting tends to be frowned upon…

So a successful career, that’s definitely not a checked box on the list.

As for being married, well having been single for nearly six years, that isn’t looking likely in the near future. And bizarrely this bit doesn’t bother me that much. I have stages where I want a relationship but to be honest, if I live on my own for the rest of my life, I’ll be OK with that.  I have my cats and my friends, two adorable nephews who I’ll get to be the crazy aunt with and that’s enough.

So whilst the married box isn’t checked, I’m kind of OK with that.  And the kids box we’ll be leaving unchecked as well. It doesn’t make me feel less of a woman but I can’t help but feel that other people are disappointed in me for not settling down and having a family and having a conventional life.

The biggest issue I have had over the past few years though is that I haven’t been happy.  I’ve been the opposite of happy for the most part and the fact that I have put so much pressure on myself to find this perfect version of myself hasn’t helped but I have never understood why.

"Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself" George Bernard Shaw. Photo: Samantha Hadadi

"Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself" George Bernard Shaw. Photo: Samantha Hadadi

But when I saw this quote by George Bernard Shaw I started to realize exactly why I keep failing at these expectations I have set.  I set these ideals according to my parents’ expectations of me when I scarcely knew who I was, let alone who I would become. I’m never going to find this “perfect version of myself because she doesn’t exist; she never has.

My life is mine to create and whilst I admit there have been some twists and turns I didn’t anticipate and would rather have been skipped, they have helped create the woman I am today.

We all come into this life as a blank canvas. Nature and nurture help determine what the picture looks like but eventually the only person who determines whether the picture is a true work of art is ourselves.

A little too much of my life has been this:

Edvard Munch "the scream" Source: Wikipedia

Edvard Munch "the scream" Source: Wikipedia

I guess we will have to see what the final artwork looks like…

If your life was a picture, which picture would it be?

Average Josephine x