polka dot dress outfit

5 Things You Can Probably Do That I Can’t

Now that I’ve made myself sound a bit strange with my admission that I’m in serious danger of becoming a recluse, I thought I’d make myself sound even MORE weird, with this list of things that you can probably do that I can’t.

I briefly alluded to the existence of this list in my “Redheads Can’t Wear Pink” post, and I think some people assumed the list in question was redhead-specific. Of course, there’s really nothing redheads can’t do that other people can, so actually, this one is just about ME, and although there are thousands of things I can’t do, I’m talking here about the ordinary, everyday things – the kind of things most people do without even thinking about, but which remain elusive to me, even after years of trying. You won’t be surprised to know that I can’t wrestle alligators, for instance, or perform brain surgery, but you might be surprised to learn that I can’t…

what shoes to wear with a polka dot dress01.

Any time I attempt to clean a window, say, or a mirror, I can guarantee it will end up looking much, much worse than when I started. Like, it’ll start out with just a tiny smudge in the centre, and by the time I’m done with it, the whole THING will be a smudge. Seriously, I’ve lost entire days to the removal of one tiny smudge on a mirror. There I’ll be, walking by it, all innocence, when suddenly I’ll see it: THE SMUDGE. (Er, if you could imagine some horror-movie sound effects here, that would help make this point a bit more interesting, and bit LESS like an entire paragraph about cleaning glass…) “Hmm,” I’ll think to myself, “That mirror needs a clean. I’ll just give it a quick wipe over…”

Fast-forward to three hours later. I’m STILL in front of that mirror, and it’s STILL smudged, but now there are multiple smudges, and also a large collection of streaks, most of which have been caused by my ineffective attempts to try and clean it. I’ll also be wild-eyed and close to tears, and talking about how I’m going to RIP THIS MIRROR RIGHT OFF THE WALL AND THROW IT OUT OF THE WINDOW. Which… wait! Is that a smudge on the WINDOW?! And then the whole thing starts again. Entire days have been lost in this manner. I hate myself.

(P.S. Yes, I have read all of the advice about cleaning glass: the newspaper, and the vinegar, and all of the other many, many tried-and-true, idiot-proof ways to clean glass. I’ve even had my mum come round to try to teach me her ways. I. Just. Can’t. Do. It. It’s one of the great tragedies of my life that I’m completely obsessive about keeping things clean, but I’m not very good at actually cleaning them…)


Seriously, putting a duvet inside its cover must surely be one of the biggest tests of a person’s patience there is? I bet it’s part of the NASA entrance test or something. They’ll be all, “OK, so you understand quantum physics, and a bunch of clever astronaut stuff, but let’s just see if you can put this duvet inside its cover!” It will come as no surprise to any of you that I wouldn’t get into NASA. Because I always end up with MYSELF inside the duvet cover, while the duvet itself sits on the bedroom floor, all smug.

Again, various people have tried to teach me how to do this, and, again, they have all failed. I’m fairly sure that if I ever get to heaven, I’ll be standing at the gates, and St Peter will say, “Well done, Amber, you’ve reached the final stage. Now, in order to get through these gates, I’m going to need you to neatly place this duvet inside its cover…” And then I’ll drop straight down to hell. (Where I will ALSO be required to spend all my time changing duvet covers, come to think of it…)


I realise this one will make me sound even stranger than I normally sound, but I am terrified of driving on motorways, or any road where the traffic is moving really fast, and changing lanes all the time. I have literally come close to having a panic attack when attempting to do this, and I have NO IDEA how people do without thinking they’re about to meet their fiery death.


I drink wine. It just needs to be poured and drunk, and so that’s pretty much all I know how to do when it comes to alcoholic beverages. Terry makes great cocktails, but often when we have guests round, that particular task falls to me (Terry will be fulfilling the role of “entertainer”. I, meanwhile, get the role of “hired help”…), and that’s why most people leave our house drunk. Yes, we have those little measuring cup things. No, I don’t know where they are. At our house-warming party last year, I cheerfully provided people with such strong measures of vodka that my brother-in-law had to step in and take over before I actually killed someone.

My ineptitude with drinks also extends to hot beverages. You know when a bunch of people come into your house, and you ask them if they’d like a tea or coffee, and they all say “YES, PLEASE!” and then hit you with complicated drinks orders, involving half a spoonful of coffee, with three-quarters of a spoonful of sugar, and milk, but only if its a super-special type of milk you don’t have? That makes me want to cry. (Specifically, it makes me want to cry, “Just make it yourself, if you’re going to be THAT fussy about it!”)

Even when the orders themselves aren’t complicated, I can never remember who wanted milk/who didn’t, and who wanted sugar/how many, so the first thirty minutes of any conversation between Terry and our guests is always peppered with endless interruptions from me, saying, “Sorry, what did you all want again?” I’d have been a rubbish barista/cocktail waitress, that’s for damn sure.

(*It’s just occurred to me that what I SHOULD do is just put the milk and sugar on a tray, and let people help themselves. Coming up with solutions like this is probably another thing you can do, but I can’t…)

(Would it be weird for me to get out a notepad on these occasions, like an ACTUAL waitress? Yes. Yes it would, Amber…)


Like, if you were to say to me, “Oh, it’s about 500 metres away,” for instance, that would mean absolutely nothing to me. I know what a metre is, obviously: I just can’t for the life of me visualise what 500 of them would look like, all laid out together. I’m better with miles, because I guess they have more context to me – as in, I can think to myself, “OK, that’s like the distance from here to the main street/London/America/whatever,” but any other unit of measurement is totally lost to me.

Confusingly, where I live, people will often use units I have no knowledge of whatsoever: so, I grew up with the metric system, for instance, but people always seem to be giving me distances in yards, and I’m just like, “WHAT IS THAT I CAN’T EVEN.” (See also: people who give prices in “old money”and are all, “Yeah, it cost me five bob!” THE HELL?! What is a “bob”? Why are you talking like that? Have we gone back in time? Whhhhyyy?)


Honestly, guessing people’s ages is a truly horrible thing to do, and if I was Queen, I would totally make it illegal, not even joking. Terry has a really annoying habit, though, whereby, any time we find ourselves interacting with young children, he’ll be all, “What age do you think Auntie Amber is?!” (Even if I am not the child’s auntie, interestingly…), and no amount of me kicking him in the shin, fixing him with a death glare, and hissing, “I WILL KIIIIIILLLLLL YOOOOOOUUUUUUU!” has made him stop this.

And, of course, little kids are absolutely useless at guessing ages, so they’ll cheerfully estimate mine as being anything from 5 to 500 (I’m going to just go ahead and assume that this is, indeed, because little kids are useless at this, and NOT because I actually look like I could be 500 years old…), which is hilarious, but also occasionally awkward.

The fact is, though, I can’t really criticise them for it, because I’m not much better, and if anyone ever asks me what age I think they are (Which happens bizarrely often, actually. WHY DO PEOPLE DO THIS TO ME? It’s such a weird thing to ask someone! Seriously, isn’t that a weird thing to ask someone? Like, don’t you already KNOW what age you are?), I will have absolutely NO IDEA at all. Seriously, most people could be either 20 or 60 as far as I’m concerned, and neither would particularly surprise me.


I’m taking about walls here, by the the way, not, like, watercolours and landscapes or whatever, although it has to be said, I can’t do that either. Seriously, though, who can’t paint a wall? Er, this girl, that’s who. I learned this fact during our recent kitchen/downstairs remodel, during which I painted the entire house white, and then Terry had to do it all again. One day, just after I’d done the hall, my parents came round for a look at the kitchen, and when my mum stepped into the hallway, she said, “Oh my, you’ve really done… a job!” Says it all, really, doesn’t it?


I’d like to think I COULD probably follow instructions if I really tried… so maybe it’s just trying to follow instructions I’m bad at? All I know is that, if something comes with instructions, I will normally take them out of the box, glance at them, think, “Nah, not even going there!” and then try to work out how to use the thing myself, rather than just taking the few minutes it would require to quickly read through the instructions. I have no idea why I do this.


I was born without the Nail Polish Application gene that so many women seem to have. More than that, I can’t even shape my nails properly, let alone paint them: I like to keep them short (I love the look of long nails, but can’t stand the feel of them!), which you’d think would make it relatively easy to keep them nice and neat, but nope, can’t do it – mine always look like I’ve taken a hacksaw to them or something. Why can’t I perform this simple task that millions of people (probably) do every day? I have no idea – as my strangely misshapen nails prove.


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books by Amber Eve
  • Catherine


    I can’t cook very well and I am always deeply respectfu of anyone who can. I always consider them to be proper grown-ups, whilst I stay a child for ever.

    December 4, 2014
    • Rachel


      Me too. I’m moving back to my parents as they are retiring and heading off in the caravan so I get the house 🙂 and my mum has decided she needs to show me how to cook. I keep telling her one day I will win the lottery and hire a chef so I don’t need cooking lessons. Apparently my plan is ridiculous!

      December 4, 2014
  • I can’t drive at all so you kick my bottom at motorway driving, that’s for sure.

    People look at me in shock when I say I can’t drive, but I’ve lived in cities for 18 of the 35 years I’ve been alive so never really needed to!

    Also duvet bag confused me because I had no idea duvets had bags and I thought there was a vital piece of household management I was missing. Then I realised you probably meant duvet cover? Right? I haven’t got duvets wrong?

    December 4, 2014
      • I’m glad you said you’ve changed it, otherwise my comment would make no sense 😀

        December 4, 2014
    • That confused me too! I’ve always called it a duvet cover (if that’s what’s we’re talking about) but maybe it’s something else… I get you on the ankle boots though, the styles can walk a fine line between right and wrong so easily

      December 4, 2014
    • Can we start an “adults who don’t drive” club??? I’m 33 and have tried to learn but have given up. That is something normal people can do that I cannot.

      December 4, 2014
    • I am terrified of driving too, not just on the freeway but even in a deserted car park, people have tried to reason with me, teach me, show me, yell at me etc, nothing works lol

      December 5, 2014
    • I can’t drive, either. Or ride a bike.

      December 5, 2014
  • I’m a terrible driver (*cough* 8 tests *cough*), but especially on the motorway. In fact, I HATE driving during rush hour in general. If Retro Chick is right about duvet covers, I’m with you there. I think it’s a dark art.

    December 4, 2014
  • Ohh, drinks :)) I drink black coffee or with a drop of milk, so making coffee for guests is quite a struggle. If hubby doesn’t step in, they get an almost black coffee because I don’t want to add to much sugar or to much milk and ruin a beautiful coffee… that’s my opinion, they probably think is very bitter.

    I also understand your fear of motorways. Luckily, hubby is a great driver (he learned to drive when he was 7-8 years old), so he has this task every time.

    And, the last one, I can’t wear flats. It’s pretty similar to what you’ve described with the low-heels. I had 2 pairs of flats and it was a nightmare to wear them. Even if I have to walk for hours, I prefer shoes with 3″-4″ heels (or trainers).

    Anca @ ancaslifestyle | UK

    December 4, 2014
  • I’m with you on the cleaning glass thing! My partner has to do it because I suck.

    When my family get together we actually do write down everyone’s tea/coffee orders, otherwise the whole process takes forever, so I don’t think it would be to weird. 🙂

    December 4, 2014
  • Completely agree with cleaning glass, I’m crap at it! What’s the big secret? x

    December 4, 2014
  • Anne


    I hate cleaning glass too. I briefly worked as a house cleaner and once when we were doing an end of tenancy clean I was asked to do the bathroom. I spent over an hour trying to clean a God damn shower door that still had smudges on it when it was checked over. I almost cried at the thought of having to clean it again! Needless to say I left that job shortly after!

    December 4, 2014
  • I hate the motorway too! It’s all so fast and scary. People are so confident. I even have friends who cite motorway driving as their favourite. I steer clear if I can x

    December 4, 2014
  • I am absolutely terrified of driving on motorways too! Actually that extends to dual carriageways. To the extent that when my boyfriend recently told me part of our journey involved 30 seconds of a dual carriageway I threw a wobbly, nearly cried and then pulled over and insisted he take over. Something I can’t do that you probably can: change from 5th gear to 4th – I always go into 2nd and the car lurches sickeningly and some idiot behind will beep incessantly because the whole situation doesn’t make me feel like quite enough of a failure at life without a mad beeping soundtrack.

    December 4, 2014
  • Fiona


    I hate motorway driving too, particularly at night. Duvet covers ARE difficult – I’d be ok getting into heaven if it was a single, might manage a double but a king would send me straight to hell. I can’t gift wrap. And I’ve a feeling my daughter has worked out the whole Santa thing because she has specifically requested beautifully wrapped gifts! It’s a test!

    December 4, 2014
  • I love that you share your “weaknesses” (i find so called character fkaws ti be tge most interesting) as well as your beautiful photos and wardrobe. It makes you seem real, and that you aren’t trying to fake a perfect blog life. I might have to steal this idea for a list later (crediting and linking you of course if I ever get back to blogging and making the post)

    December 4, 2014
  • This post made me laugh from beginning to end! I love that you’re able to make fun of yourself in such a light hearted way and allow us (your readers) to relate to you! I’m equally awkward I doubt that I have enough space on the pages of my blog to offer explanations. I’ll leave that to my imaginary therapist sessions.
    You’re such a joy! Keep writing and I’ll keep on reading (:

    December 4, 2014
  • Jaynie


    The duvet thing. Story of my life. Up until last month, I ended up inside them every. single. time. despite my best efforts. I say up until last month because last month I bought a new duvet cover from H&M, and some brilliant designer had the ingenuity to put little hand shaped holes at the top corners, so you can reach through the cover to your duvet and pull it up, rather than having to shove it in from the bottom opening, thus circumventing all risk that you might mistakenly insert yourself instead. I am still not over being pleased by that little design feature.

    I’m also prone to mistakenly over-peppering food (to the extent that if I’m cooking at my parents’ house, and they see me with the pepper mill, they instinctively warn me to go easy with it) even though I’m a pretty good cook normally. As you are with alcohol, so am I with pepper, I guess. Some kind of culinary selective perceptual blindness?

    And I can’t hold my pen properly (imagine if some claw-fisted alien were trying to hold a pen, and that’s pretty much it), although I lately learned that’s actually a symptom of something called dyspraxia, which is like dyslexia, but with your body instead of with words — so I suppose there is a chance I can forgive myself for that inability!

    December 4, 2014
      • Jaynie


        Well, I wish you much luck in your duvet cover hunting endeavours. Mind you, it’d probably be pretty easy to DIY a similar solution with an old duvet cover, a seam ripper, a needle and some thread, now that the secret is out, but I am quite happy mine did the work for me!

        I normally handwrite my notes for class, so un-learning is not such an issue, but I can see what you mean. If we’ve had a long break between classes, I do get used to just typing, and holding a pen after that can feel very unnatural, even by my standards!

        December 5, 2014
  • Karlie


    We always have a DIY coffee bar. There is no way for me to keep orders straight.

    December 4, 2014
  • Bex Miller


    My kryptonite is clingfilm… I just can’t get it to stick to anything! I have to summon someone else in the house to do it for me haha 😀 It just falls off everything I try to put it on xx

    December 4, 2014
  • I cannot make omelettes. 9/10 times it will end in tears… or close to it.

    And you are 100% right, I hate driving on the Garden State Pwky. If anyone tries to get me on the Turnpike it’s an immediate ‘nope’. It is terrifying driving with cars at 80mph changing lanes. Just. Nope.

    December 4, 2014
  • Amber I love your picks on what you can’t do… I’m completely rubbish at making drinks – not hot drinks, but drink-drinks. I haven’t a flippin clue what to do when I’m asked for a gin & tonic (how much of each)?! or anything like that – I can pour a beer, that’s IT!

    I want to see a post about you CAN do that no-one else can, I can think of a couple of things I can do like that (parallel park any car into any space, for example). Please write it, I want to read those, too!

    Catherine x

    December 4, 2014
  • Stacey


    I’m assuming that motorways are the same thing as American interstates? Where there’s 4+ lanes of traffic, and merging, all while going at some bat out of hell speed? Because if so, then I refuse (REFUSE!!!) to drive on those. I actually refuse to be a passenger too, because my phobia is so bad. I don’t get how everyone driving 70+MPH is so calm when there’s so many cars coming from every direction! I live outside Seattle (beautiful city, awful traffic!) and the last time I was on I-5 (which is Hell.) I looked at the car merging into the lane next to me. I was the passenger, but my car was easily going 70 mph, this guy is keeping up with me and when I looked over HE’S DRIVING WITH HIS KNEE! Because he was texting! Since then, I have found backroads to get wherever I’m going that will avoid the interstate. It doesn’t add much more time and it’s much more peaceful.

    One thing that I cannot do that it seems that literally everyone else can: Slice cake/pie. I can BAKE it no problem. But when it comes time to serve it, every piece comes out all wobbly and uneven. One person will get this massive slice and the next person will get this tiny sliver. Then I’ll spend ages trying to even them out and patch them together. I’ve gotten to where I’ll have to call someone else in to serve my dessert for me. It’s really embarrassing.

    December 4, 2014
  • tanya


    I could also join the “over 30 but can’t drive club”. Other thing I can’t do is swim. Like, at all. I had professionals try and get me relaxed, but I get really terrified of the possibility I’d sink so I just stay away from water. Which I regret, I’m sure it’s fun. And it gets me some wierd looks from people, as if swimming is the most natural thing that all people should be able to do without an effort.

    December 5, 2014
  • Steffi


    I can’t for my life clean glass. I’ve tried all the tricks and techniques out there. I just can’t do it. 🙂

    December 5, 2014
  • Maria


    I can’t take selfies. I know it’s probably the stupidest thing one can’t do, but still, when I see other people selfies and they all look so effortlessly good, and then I try to take some photos of myself… And miserably fail. Like, I could be taking dozens and still manage to look horrible in ALL of them! And it’s not a low self-esteem problem either, because if I ask to others if a photo of myself looks good,
    they always tell me “Wow, how come you always look so… ‘Wonky’ in photos?”, or “Woah, cancel this selfie, your nose looks 3 sizes bigger!”. So, yeah, I couldn’t take (or get taken) a decent photo of myself even if my life depended on it!

    December 5, 2014
  • I stumbled upon your blog after admiring your glorious style on Pose, and expected more of the same here … but was pleasantly surprised by your cheeky commentary and wit. I found myself laughing out loud with you as you shared your weaknesses. I, too, hate cleaning glass. Microfiber cloth seems to help some, but admittedly I only clean my vanity when company might have to see my master bath. My kryptonite is washing dishes. I hate dishes. It’s a waste of my life. I’m a bit of a germaphobe, and I feel like the water is never hot enough to make them truly sanitary. Heloise helped by suggesting you fill the sink with really hot water and soap, and let them soak as the water cools. Anyway, thanks for the thought-provoking entry and a much needed chuckle! Best wishes with your domestic difficulties!

    December 9, 2014
  • Louise


    My friends, family and anyone I tell thinks I’m really strange that I don’t go on the motorway, don’t like changing lanes and really can’t drive above 40mph. You can get anywhere in a roads granted it might take me all day for an hours journey but at least I’ll be alive when I get there.

    December 11, 2014
  • Selina


    Duvets and motorways are evil. Enough said

    January 7, 2015
  • Sarah


    I can’t walk in kitten heels. Anything else is fine, but kitten heels just throw me. Also, using our washing machine – I can use other people’s just fine, but our’s is still a mystery to me…

    June 15, 2015