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Life changing magic

Life changing magic
The Life Changing Magic

On why brave is NOT the new black

Earlier this week twitter was mourning the fact that Steve Hewlett had passed away after a very public encounter with cancer. I'll be honest, I've only caught snippits of the interviews he gave on radio 4. Maybe I should listen more. But what I saw from the tweets and mentions of him was a tribute that his fellow BBC journalist, Nick Robinson had written.

Since becoming public about my current brush with cancer I've received a lot of well wishes, a few comments from people who think I should keep this shit private, and about a billion people calling me brave and strong. Which I know is there way of expressing how they see it, but this isn't how I see it, and is why, when I read this note it really resonated with the way I feel.

Because I'm not brave. Or strong. I'm not fighting a battle. I'm not. I promise you. I'm not doing one tiny thing different to what I hope every single one of you out there would do if you were faced with this too.

Having chemo doesn't make me brave. It's unfeasibly pragmatic for me. It means I've thought about my future and I'm cutting the % of the cancer returning down by a massive chunk. Not bursting into tears* every 5 minutes over this and talking about it openly, doesn't make me strong. It means I need to be talking about this for my sanity and I want to share all this to help and inform people if they should end up in this situation. Or just so they have a better understanding. So they're a bit more informed. And it gives me an outlet which gives Jim a break from my moaning. Of which there has been a lot. Ask him. I'm sure he'll fess up to what a pain in the bum I am. 

If, and God forbid it does, cancer pops up in the lives of any of my friends, I'd be mighty disappointed in them if they chose any other course of action to the one I'm taking. Having treatment is sensible. Nothing more. If they start trying to cure whatever ails them with kale then they can be sure I'll be trying to have them committed for their own good! 

So this is why I've been very careful with the words on my social bios. I've tried to steer clear of using the phrase 'fighting' or 'battling' because I'm not.

I fight with my skinny jeans in the morning. I fight with Flash and Melle over toys and dirty socks and what time they should get their breakfast. I fight with Jim over stupid little things like what belongs in the dishwasher. But sitting on a bed, turning away whilst my nurses stick needles in me, that's not a fight. I can't even face the sight of my own blood! Trust me, I'd be rubbish in a real battle! 

So whilst I'm not trying to offend anyone who has called me brave or strong, I know you probably think what I'm doing is that. I'm just setting the record straight as to why I might wrinkle my nose when you say it my face or brush your social media comment under the rug a little. It's mostly because I thats not how I feel.

I'm just doing exactly what I should be doing to, selfishly, stay alive, only I'm complaining about it a bit too much on social media.

*oddly I've only cried a few times, which quite frankly is a miracle, given I cry at tv ads these days but you try telling your mum you have cancer and not crying. I hope you never have to try!

Why I love my dogs! (Or a reason for some gratuitous dog shots!)

Did you know it's National Love Your Pet Day? I didn't until I stumbled across the # on instagram earlier today. But it seems such a great opportunity to post some photos of my favourite two fur faces, and some of the reasons that I love them. 
They are the worlds greatest cuddlers - sometimes at night I wake up being spooned by a dog, or with one in my arms. 

They force us  to get out into the world. Whether that's just for a trip to the park or for a 10k wander round the peaks. They are always up for a walk. Sometimes they are too up for a walk. 
They give the best kisses. Flash gives kisses on demand. Melle just gives kisses. All the time. 

Melle is an actual shadow. Where we are, he just wants to be. Sitting on the sofa, he's limpit-ed next to us. Going for a wee, following you to the bathroom. Getting a glass of water, sitting at your feet whilst you do. 
Flash actually saved my life. For reals. 100% needs a medal. I'm sure ant and dec should pop by and give him one. 

They love each other at least 90% of the time. And play together so nicely when they want to. My favourite thing is when Melle creeps up on Flash, slyly trying to get him to play, and then Flash eventually gives in and they wrestle

Flash gives hands down the best dirty looks of any living creature I have ever seen. His disgusted 'what are you doing?' face is absolutely brilliant and makes me smile every time. 

Melle is still such a puppy. He has these bursts of crazy that will just have you laughing the minute he starts - whether he's been caught off guard by the fact he. has. a. tail, or has just seem himself in a mirror, or has decided that he wants his belly rubbing and needs to get your attention to do so!  
But mostly I love them because they are just so loving. They give us both the best companionship. But at times when Jim is in India, or away with work elsewhere, they are always here - these two little fur faces are here, to chat to, to cuddle at night, to shout at when they do something stupid. 

I couldn't imagine life without either of them, tell me, why, besides the fact they are all clearly awesome, do you love your pets today?

Printing photos with the Epson XP-960 Expression Photo Printer

One of the big things that I've been wanting to do around the house is bring more of the photos that we take when we're on holidays and out and about on to our walls. We have some awesome artwork up, but not many photos. Unlike our last house which had loads of photos up and not many bits of artwork! 

Which is why, when I was offered the chance to get my hands on an Epson Expression Photo XP-960  I jumped at it. For one, it's a specialist photo printer that prints upto A3 sizes, and two our old home printer has been on the blink for some time and no amount of new cartridges or re-calibration would bring it back to life. So with my aim to get more of our photos on the walls, having a specialist photo printer on hand would be awesome. 
And I have a bit of a secret squirrel project on the go, which will be a bit photo heavy and will be revealed to you next month when it's an appropriate time to do so!

So, on to one of the important things when getting a new printer - how easy is it to set up and how well does it connect to your computer? 
First off, it's a wifi printer which means it can connect to your home wifi and then your computer finds it over the internet, but there are also ports on the from for USB cables and to pop your cameras memory card into the machine too. There's also a phone app you can print from, but I'll be honest, my phone is too full right now to add any more apps so I haven't tried it yet! I found using the laptop the easiest way for me to print as I have access to all my images from there. 

The big thing I noticed that sets the XP-960 apart from the other printers I've had is the fact it has 6 ink cartridges, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black and two news one to my printer repartee Light Cyan and Light Magenta which apparently give improve photo quality. However it affects the print quality - I think you'll agree it's for the better! 
So, on to my printing - I've had these square Ikea Ribba frames hanging about for a while with the intention of filling them with blue themed images from our travels which would compliment the slighty blue walls we have in the spare room

The space for the photo is just under 30cm which is mighty conveniently the width of an A3 piece of paper, which meant that printing to fit the frames was a doddle. Well, once I'd figured out that using the Epson printer app on my laptop, rather than printing from photoshop, gave me the best results anyway.  
And I absolutely love the final effect. The quality of the photos is amazing. The blues are stunning, the other bright colours on the images I chose came out perfectly. And there is so much detail in all the images - this one closest to you here has such detail in the rock formations, and the sea, and they're all there. All the details. I am so impressed. I didn't think I'd get this quality at home! 
Whilst the photos I've printed here are A3, and came from my laptop, I've also had a go at scanning in some old images and printing them on a stack of 6x4 photo paper I had lying about from my last printer, for my secret squirrel project that you can't know about just yet, and they've come out great too. I'm honestly really impressed with all the photos that have come out so far! My big issue is, I printed far more shots than I have frames for and now might have to rotate them! 

So tell me, how do you print and display your photos at home?  

Disclosure - I was sent the Epson XP-960 Expression Photo Printer for the purpose of this review, but the words are all my own!