Friday, 17 December 2010

Missing husband, iPhone love and Christmas cards

I have friends married to farmers and they seem to spend most of their summers alone. Being married to a chef is similar, but seasonally different.
Apart from the sorrow of not sharing this lovely time of the year, there are some pluses -
  • I finished work yesterday (for three whole weeks) so I have no need of childcare.
  • As he is barely here he makes no mess.
  • After Christmas we will have more disposable income than usual.
  • Once this is over I will be rewarded with a monumental lie-in, and I will drink tea and read a book.
After a ten week wait, our iPhones arrived. Slightly reduced phone reception aside, I love it. I find the process of typing text messages special, having facebook and twitter at my fingertips is wonderful but dangerous (the Stealth Pooer has struck twice whilst I have been distracted) and it is just so beautiful. Even the charger is downright cool.

There is only one thing bothering me at the moment and that is Christmas cards (although technically that is more than one thing). We have received lots and lots and I am grateful but I have only opened a few. I am avoiding them because I haven't written any. I have a box, or three, on the table with a pen and stamps but a quick glance at my address book last night made me realise I haven't got nearly enough. And that's not taking into account the ones that have been sent by people who I have forgotten about.
So, I have to open the ones we have received, hang them, make a list, buy more, write them and post them - knowing there is no way they will make it in time.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Santa Claus is coming to town ...

.... with Mother Christmas, Frosty the Snowman (with his carrot nose), a tree and a present.
We're all decorated, the shopping is done and Dan is missing much of the time (as all good chefs should be at this time of the year).
PS I've lost 7lbs on my incredibly easy diet. Wow.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The poo on the floor

I thought I would talk a little bit about Audrey (aka D-Dog). She was such a problematic little soul over the summer but has really come good. She is fine when she is left, sleeps at night, walks miles every morning in all weathers and is Scarlett's best friend.
However, she is a stealth pooer. We put her outside, she comes back in, we put on the kettle and there is a poo on the floor by the front door, we are all in the sitting room (or so we think) and there is a poo on the floor, I keep her in the kitchen with me so I can watch her like a hawk, she goes into the garden every fifteen minutes and still there is a POO ON THE FLOOR.
She obviously has some incorrect learning, it is obviously our failing not hers, she obviously finds herself in the wrong place at the right time but honestly .........

Monday, 29 November 2010

Phase One Done

Last week was hard work but I am through it and now I am eating normal food again.
A big sigh of relief all round, I suspect, as I was quite literally a bear with a sore head.
Having taken advice it appears my headaches were so bad as it was more to do with sugar and wheat than caffeine so I am steering well clear and it seems all my cravings seems to have disappeared.
I now notice how many times I popped a dried apricot in my mouth when I passed the cupboard, a piece of chocolate from the fridge door (nice and dark so healthy, right?), finished off Scarlett's buttery toast in the mornings, kept returning to the pan of tomato pasta on the hob.
You get the picture......
Oh, and I'm two and a half pounds lighter.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

One word ....

Was I really so toxic? When I started the extreme Phase One of this diet I didn't think it would make me feel so bad but oh my goodness. One afternoon I even had to go to bed.
I want to know what causes the headaches. A quick search on the internet tells me that either my body is 'getting used to the dramatic reduction in poisons', that the toxins circulate the body on their way out and affect certain areas or that it's all to do with coffee and how it blocks receptors in the brain that can dilate blood vessels causing headaches.
More worryingly I have just found an article on a woman who suffered brain damage following a detox.
That is why you shouldn't do too much research on the internet.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Have I found the answer?

My relationship with food is interesting. I eat plenty but I am rarely happy when I am eating. I care a huge amount about the quality of what goes into my mouth but sometimes I seem unable to control the quantity. I am not obese but I'm not skinny and I've always carried a few extra pounds - sometimes a few extra stone. I'm quite clever, I know all the theories and I have opinions on every diet going so why am I not as slim as I would like to be?
I have a really bright friend who has similar problems. She sent me an e mail today about Zoe Harcombe and the Harcombe Diet. This same friend previously leant me a book called The Diet Delusion - I haven't even started it, but perhaps now I don't need to (yay!).
This diet is based on the theories in that hefty book; they are as follows:
  • In The Diet Delusion, Gary Taubes says the evidence is that weight gain is not a simple calories in = calories out and can't be solved by more self-control or exercise. It's all about insulin causing the body to store fat.
  • Our obesity epidemic is not because we are lazy or eating too much meat but from our increase in the consumption of sugar, white flour and white rice.
  • Taubes also says that fat is constantly going in and out of fat cells but insulin interferes with this movement so the excess fat is stored. This then starves your cells of the background energy that is normally constantly coming out of fat cells and is why you feel hungry and lethargic.
  • People are not fat because they are greedy and lazy but because hunger and lethagy are the symptoms of being sensitive to insulin and hence overweight.
I'll let you know how I get on.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Why I'm having a break from facebook

I'm having a self-imposed break from facebook. I've been enjoying its charms a little too much lately, posting daily status updates and wasting plenty of time reading about other people's lives. And then it happened. I wrote an amusing anecdote, randomly made a friend cross and he/she showed their displeasure with a pointed comment that around 300 people could have read. We've to'd and fro'd a bit, the comment has been removed, but our friendship is in a bit of a state.
I was on facebook in the early days and then one day cancelled my account and left well alone. I found the intimacy too much I suppose. I then started this blog and gradually moved into twitter. Then I returned to facebook (damn them for remembering my login details) and have been having some fun.
But there is a certain section of social networking that I find quite scary - people living every minute of their day through their updates, saying things that are surely not for broadcasting and writing remarks that wouldn't pass the lips if the writer was looking into the eyes of the person it was directed towards.
Here are my own personal rules for twitter, facebook, e mails and this blog:
I try not to write anything too personal about people other than me.
I try not to vent.
I only say what I am confident enough to be overheard saying (I think I have broken this rule once, but I'm only human).
So I will tell you that I am taking some time out from facebook to stop peering into other people's lives but the truth is that I am scared of seeing more comments regarding my recent melee.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

My clever friend

This necklace is designed by my friend Nicky and is in the latest issue of Simply Knitting (although it's crochet).
She would be dangerous if she knew how talented she was.
By the way, I will write properly soon .....

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

My handiwork

The latest issue of The Knitter

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Our first Halloween

Well, Scarlett refused to wear the Scary Red Fairy dress and we had very few callers to the door but we had a great time. We baked cakes, made biscuits, got covered in icing, ate hot dogs and laughed, alot.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Good gourd!

I was given some plants by a friendly family at the allotments earlier in the year but the snails ate most of them (along with pretty much everything else I planted). Only one plant remained, although I wasn't sure if I had a pumpkin or a squash on my hands.
I have looked after it religiously - watering it, sometimes just looking at it and then lifting the one (very precious) fruit off the soil with a combination of cut grass and a cardboard egg tray. 
It was still not ripe before we went on holiday so I have spent many moments in deepest darkest Yorkshire worrying about our first Pumpkin. Would it rot? Would it get nibbled? Or worse, stolen?
I always try to believe in the power of nature - and here it is, perfect and really fleshy. The cut section is roasting in the oven, the seeds are on the windowsill and the rest will be made into soup tomorrow.
Oh, and the wine is long gone.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

A very good cake

I suppose I should be one of those women who love Nigella, but I'm really more of a Nigel fan. Nigel Slater's love of simple food, natural ingredients and eating with the seasons is much more up my street.
So here I share with you just about the nicest cake I have made in ages.

Courgette Cake
Serves 8

200g butter
200g golden caster sugar
2 free range eggs
150g courgettes (about 2 small ones)
A small apple
200g plain flour
A large pinch of salt
Half teaspoon baking powder
Half teaspoon cinnamon
60g walnuts
80g sultanas

Set the oven to 180C / gas mark 4.
Line a loaf tin measuring 20cm x 12cm x 9cm deep.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat the eggs and mix them in, one at a time.
Coarsely grate the courgette and the apple. Wring them out with your fist to remove any excess moisture.
Then add to the mixture.
Gently fold in the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.
Stir in the nuts and fruit.
Transfer to the tin and cook for 60-65 minutes.
Allow to cool in the tim before turning out.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Chicken Pox - how we managed

  • Alternate baths of bicarbonate of soda (two tablespoons) and oats in a muslin (thank goodness for all those Liz Earle cloths).
  • Calpol for the first three days, Piriton Syrup after that.
  • Calamine cream - soooo much easier than the lotion of my childhood.
  • Fireman Sam on the television - apparently there are 29 episodes of the new version and I have only two more to see to have a full house. (My favourite character is Dilys Price for her muddling of simple phrases : "oooh, it's so aromatic out here tonight" and calling a dream catcher "a cream snatcher").
  • Keeping Scarlett in one cotton nightdress for the entire time so that nothing rubbed. I overcame my horror of such slovernly behaviour by thinking it was probably so caked in calamine cream that it was working like a sunsuit.
  • Remembering that it is usually a textbook virus and will start to improve around day 5. Sure enough today, Day Six, she is all scabs and the really nasty spots are purple, not red.

Friday, 24 September 2010

And now I've lost the sofa ...

One word. Chickenpox.
15 blisters counted in the bath tonight; I think Spotty Maldoon will greet us in the morning.
My rest is not going so well. I am a mother above all else so it's OK not going to work but I can't just lie here. My head won't rest either. I feel, oh , fraught, guilty and above all I am worried. If I did this to myself, which seems to be the conscensus of opinion, then how do I stop it happening again? Am I supposed to be having an epiphany whilst I lie on the sofa (or not, as it happens)?
And when will I feel better? When will I be on top of everything again? When will I be able to put my daughter to bed without struggling to catch my breath afterwards?

Thursday, 23 September 2010

I am on the sofa ...

----on Doctor's orders. I have viral myalgia and my first ever sick note for ten days off work.
I have been dragging myself around for the last few weeks (or perhaps months) with headaches, a persistent sore throat, an inability to make simple decisions, aches and pains but yesterday I noticed lumps and bumps in my scalp and neck that I couldn't ignore.
Lymph nodes, apparently.
I have had, or now have, a virus that I can't fight and my body is doing all it can to say STOP.
Of course, I have been ignoring it.
Dan asked me last night if I honestly thought the world would stop spinning if I spent ten days resting.
Hmm, I said.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Barking dogs and the love of a good stitch

I've hardly seen Dan this week, he's working, working or working. Next week looks a little easier, if only as he will be home in the afternoons - not only does he get a break but I can use the time to do dull stuff like tidying up, putting away the washing or answering work e mails. All the things I can't really do when I am in charge of two lunatics and an elderly dog [wouldn't that be a great title for a blog?].

We seem to be a house of bugs and viruses this week. I've had a 24 hour vomiting and aching joint bug, Scarlett has had a cold, Dan now has a sore throat (which I'm now getting) and even Audrey has had, well, a messy bum.

I am trying to introduce Audrey to gentle separations from us during the day. We had a low point over the weekend when I had to leave them for an hour and asked my neighbour if she could hear anything - only to find out that Matisse (grumpy elderly dog) had barked for the full hour. We now seem to have cracked his upsets by letting them have access to the kitchen and sitting room during the short times we are out so that he can settle on the sofa and think I don't know.

I've just read Woolly Wormhead's request for people to tell her how they fell in love with knitting and I've been thinking about how my love started at 6 when my beloved Nanny taught me, became illicit during my school and university years when it was really not very cool and my bags were stashed behind sofas, became very passionate around the year 2000 once it started to become more mainstream and I discovered Rowan and then helped me lose weight  by giving me something to do when I would otherwise have eaten a second helping.
To be honest, my love of knitting and crochet has become more of a dependence nowadays - when my world seems to be closing in on me and I need something repetitive to work in time with my breathing, there it is. I really don't think I could cope without it.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Where to start?

There we were pondering Dan's hearing problems when really he had a bone eating disease (very close to the brain?). He returned to work this week after what turned out to be quite major surgery and I am happy to report that my chirpy husband has returned - I'm not sure I've seen him in the last few months.
Scarlett is almost sleeping through the night again. She is also the proud owner of 20 teeth. Phew. Her Opthamologist tells us her eye has progressed enough for the patch to be needed for just one hour a day. Our Cold Turkey approach to removing the baby bottle in the mornings has not been so successful so the Battle of MeMore (her name for the bottle) continues.
Audrey continues to tip our life upside down. She is almost toilet trained but, like all toddlers, a bouncy period of play can lead to a wee on the floor around the time my brain thinks ' that's a bouncy period of play, she'll need to go out for a wee'. On the plus side she walks beautifully, puts up with all sorts of experiences and we now have her off the lead on the morning walk. The whinging when separated is still a bit of an issue but I'm trying not to let it get me down.
I have finally started knitting a pair of socks. I think that has been on my 'Things to do' list for several years. I am a member of the Natural Dye Studios Sock Club so there was no excuse really. I'm still knitting my massive blanket and I am crocheting another beautiful commissioned shawl but I needed something I could do whilst parenting and I wanted something I couldn't put down - a bit like a good book - and the socks have hit the spot. It's also my first time knitting on 3 (or is it 4?) needles so I've learned a skill at a time when I would have thought I was lacking the capacity to learn something new.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Four legs good

Dan has mastoid surgery today. He has had his tea and toast and is now walking the dogs - although I did see him carrying Audrey out of the door. She has turned out to be a really sweet little dog. She puts up with all sorts of hysterical excitement from Scarlett, walks really well on the lead (for me), is almost toilet trained, sleeps all night (still in the box but not so close to me now) and takes the attentions of other dogs in her stride. She has a few separation issues, but you can't have everything.
[They've just walked in, Audrey has all 4 feet on the floor - a good sign].

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

So now I'm confused ...

I feel confident in saying that we are now sleeping. We haven't had to get up to Scarlett (or Audrey) for three nights and the last two nights there hasn't been a peep from either of them.
Don't let my factual tone fool you - it has been bloody and we have teetered on the edge of irrationality, exhaustion and a breakdown in marital pleasantries.
So, what worked? Well the cardboard box in the bedroom for Audrey was a genius idea and within two nights she was sleeping for 7 to 8 hours. Most importantly she was showing us she could hold her bladder and bowels for 7 to 8 hours. Scarlett was not so simple; we felt that she had recreated an attachment to baby bottles for comfort. We had started giving them to her in the day and during the night, whenever she cried out for 'More' really. [The use of More is not easy to explain, suffice to say it occured from my muddled approach to signing.]
So, we entered a period of cold turkey that was about as easy as having a child come off other addictive substances, I suspect. Anyway, we stuck with it but on Day 2 she woke up with a red face, nappy rash and a mouth she said was 'thore'.
So was it just ANOTHER molar, rather than an addiction to bottles?
Answers on a postcard ....

Thursday, 5 August 2010

It's always good to have a plan

Three quite major things happened to us yesterday.
Firstly, I hit rock bottom, admitted I was struggling with Audrey and sought help (more on that later).
Secondly, our ten year old terrier Matisse got lost during his morning walk and was eventually located via the Dog Warden. We have no idea how this happened, we have joked that he is a bit tired but I suspect he was distracted by something smelly and then couldn't see Dan. Anyway, he was picked up by a very kind lady, about two minutes from our home.
I never had him down as a homing pigeon.
Needless to say the 90 minutes he was missing were the longest and boy did I cry some big tears.
Finally, I was dragged out for a meal on the Lady Florence - we had a great time, lovely food and met some interesting other diners but for quite a while I just sat on deck with my eyes closed, breathing fresh air. Dan then took the sofa shift so I had some proper in-your-own-bed sleep for the first time in 6 nights.
So, back to Audrey. I am lucky to have friends in very high places so when I admitted defeat I e mailed Gwen Bailey. She kindly sent me a long e mail that I read this morning and we are now looking at a way of rearing Audrey that sits nicely alongside the way I rear Scarlett.
Firstly no need for the crate and the (horrendous) ignoring her until she stops screaming and learns that no-one is coming. Instead, it is OK for us to have a large cardboard box by the bed or sofa. We can all get some sleep and Audrey can learn to settle. I'll still hear her move when she needs the toilet so I can maintain the progress we have made in that area.
Secondly, no more worrying about forcing her to be separated from me in the day so that she will cope when I next try to leave her. Instead we are using the childgate and her natural sleep time for her to have increasing periods of time separated from me, but near me. Each day we will practice and gradually increase the time and distance between us.
Here is the outcome of Day One.
We had a really successful 5 minutes. I was keeping close to Audrey whilst distance managing Scarlett who had been let loose on a bubble machine.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Thank you, whoever you were ..

Scarlett is now overlapping molars so is up every night, more than once. Audrey is no better, waking every hour or hour and a half. I am sleeping on the sofa with her near me (but slowly increasing the distance between us) and Dan is upstairs, occasionally sharing our bed with our daughter.
I think we are running almost on empty.
On my way home from work I thought I would return a highchair that has been on the back seat of the car for the last three months to a friend (before delivering a very late birthday present to another friend). I saw this lady looking at me as I was wrestling around in the back of the car and wondered if I had parked in the wrong place. It turns out she reads this blog and recognised me from my photo.
How incredible is that? Incredible in that she recognised me - that photo was taken at Latitude in 2007 when I had been on 8 hours sleep a night for the previous 36 years - and to be honest incredible that anyone other than my friends and family read this.
I think she was pretty amazed by the whole moment, but honestly the pleasure was all mine.
 I almost skipped home - thank you, whoever you were ....

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Out and about

As Audrey hasn't finished her injections yet, she has to stay off the ground and can only run around in our garden. However we need to start gradually exposing her to the big wide world, so yesterday we took a trip to town. Scarlett had books, Audrey had a prime seat and we didn't get anywhere fast as people kept stopping us every few minutes.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

This little beauty can really make some noise when she is left alone. Sleep is something of a treat at the moment (the molar is still slowly and bravely tunneling its way through Scarlett's gum) but last night I was on the sofa with this little grub snuggled alongside me. We had tried putting her in her crate in the kitchen, where she slept so well on her first night, but she had howled and howled. I stumbled around the house with the crate, trying to find a good spot to settle. Eventually, Dan found me, removed Audrey from the crate, put her on my lap and wandered off. Then Scarlett woke up.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Thursday, 22 July 2010

My 100th post

My first post was on Thursday 5 February 2009, I have posted once every ten days - or thereabouts (you do the maths: 78 weeks, 100 posts). I follow lots of blogs and everyone else seems to have a theme, not I.

I have covered topics as diverse as PMT, crochet, toddler taming, baking badly, feeling snowed under and growing vegetables.
I also joined Twitter that day, again, no plan just whatever comes into my head when I remember to update.
Never a trendsetter, always a follower.
'Twas ever thus.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

There's light at the end of this tunnel

My self-imposed break from anything that wasn't crochet, work or Scarlett has left me unsure how to rejoin the world I once knew. There I was pottering around a beach hut in Felixstowe and then spending a week in Cornwall when suddenly I returned to a complex lace shawl to crochet, press releases for three companies to write, a 6 hour marketing workshop to plan and prepare, posters and flyers to distribute for two events, numerous items on a very long work To Do list, a home that seemed continually coated in dust and dog hair, an allotment that was drying to a crisp, a gorgeous daughter turning into an insomniac courtesy of a molar and a deaf husband being told (and hearing) that he needs mastoid surgery.

I know I've been busy as I can't tell you when I last painted my nails and what my toe nails look like.

Three weeks on and I can see the end. Once the workshop is delivered (and I've successfully negotiated my way from Ipswich to Warwick and back again), the shawl has been returned to its rightful owner and I have sent the final posters I'll be back to normal.

But what is normal for me? I do so many different things and am lucky that I am quite good at most of them, but that can be a curse as well as a blessing. I am not the person who focuses on one thing - who has one job or one hobby. I am the person who says 'I can do that', and does it, but ends up pretty frazzled.

This phase is good frazzled though; I'm pleased to report that 150mg of GLA delivered via Evening Primrose Oil is exactly what I needed.

The ratio of three weeks bad, one week good has definitely shifted.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Almost back

The long period of commissioned crochet came to an end today. With Scarlett awake at 4.45am (I know!) I was able to get on a bit earlier than normal and this afternoon was spent in bed listening to the radio whilst sewing, weaving ends and finishing off the final motif.
More another day; tonight I rest and watch TV - I'll have to sit on my hands.

Monday, 14 June 2010

I see no ships

We love our rented beach hut very much.

Friday, 11 June 2010

This one's for Eric

I lost someone this week. I had known him nearly 20 years and we had shared the best of times and worst of times. Over the last year or so, we had found our balance and talked about vegetable growing, sport and life, rather than the business we both cared so passionately about. I will miss him - he made our rabbit's hutch, he was instrumental in me getting an allotment and he drove a car I seem to see everywhere.
I have hidden myself in work this week - it felt right - but now I have a two week self-imposed break and I am hoping the methodical nature of crochet, the activity of digging and weeding as well as a beach hut and the football I love so much will get me through.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Peace and quiet

A whole day ahead and not much more to do than some gardening, washing, crocheting and parenting. I have been a little manic lately so the sun is shining and we have our sun block - if you need me I'll be in the garden.

Monday, 31 May 2010

If you want something done ..

So far this weekend I have
  • Planted tomato, squash, cucumber, courgette and runner bean plants at the allotment (now I am too scared to go up again to check on them as I suspect they have been munched - again).
  • Spent ages watering all my plants without checking the weather forecast.
  • Written up all the client reports that I was ignoring.
  • Cleaned downstairs.
  • Thinned the swede and weeded around the asparagus, carrots and sweetcorn seedlings (oh and the one beetroot!)
  • Crocheted enough flowers to finish the first round of commissions for Nicki.
  • Visited my lovely Nanny.
  • Made some chocolate shortbread.
  • Crocheted a lace motif (on a 2mm hook!)
  • Watched Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (as well as the Grand Prix, England v Japan, caught up on the Chelsea Flower Show and an old Jonathan Creek episode).
  • Had a lovely brunch at this cafe and then popped in to marvel at friends in their caravan during a huge downpour.
  • Entertained my rampant two year old with few confrontations apart from a meltdown of Exorcist proportions in the bath Saturday night when a Postman Pat book was removed from her tight grasp (on previous evenings she has gone to bed with a plastic toilet seat and pink star as they could cope with getting wet).

And there's still a whole day ahead.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

I've created a space

This space has been many things in the three years we have lived here. It has been an empty space, it has been a dressing table for the friends that never seem to come and stay, it has been a table for working from home and a desk for Open University - but now it is a space to create. I have lots of creating to do at the moment so rather than juggle my books, yarn, sewing box etc they can now spread out and stay out.

Dan has looked after Scarlett a bit lately and has been in charge of her wardrobe. Earlier this week he dressed her in a smock top. When I got home he asked me if he was supposed to have got her arms through the plastic loops. Bless.
In a bid to gradually introduce her to the concept of toilet training we have a plastic potty and toilet seat residing in the bathroom. Scarlett loves sitting on the potty but thinks the toilet seat is a steering wheel so it is now known as 'car'.
I'm not sure if she was a bit overtired yesterday but 'car' became such a focus of attachment that it was in the bath, held onto so tightly that I had to wrap the towel over the both of them and then taken to bed and chatted to for over two hours. I sneaked in late to gently remove it from her hand and have since hid it.
The first thing she asked for this morning? 'Mummy'. The second thing ... 'car'.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Once I started ...

... I just couldn't stop (just as well, as I have lots and lots to make).

Friday, 21 May 2010

Wanted: a mind less complex

Just a quick check in - all is well but I have been struggling to keep my head above the water, once again.
It appears I have raging hormones that only give me one happy and bubbly week a month. Perhaps that is why I started to write this blog in the first place - looking back, anytime when I have been ravaged with self-doubt, consumed with immense anxiety, struggling to cope with my beautiful daughter, irrationally angry towards my super-helpful and kind husband, desperate at the thought of another moment in my home or dreaming of a life somewhere else it has coincided with these monthly phases.
I am so embarassed that I have this affliction - I believe and trust in equality and yet I am not equal when I cannot cope for three out of four weeks of each and every month.
As I sit here in a good phase, acknowledging and aware of what has been happening, here are some things I know
a) I put myself under immense pressure - whether adding a monthly book group to my long To Do list, to baking our bread, through to trying to work almost full-time from home with minimal childcare.
b) I don't have a hobby that I can rely on during these 'down' times. I knit, crochet, garden, grow vegetables, read, run and write but all in phases - not exclusively or even daily.
c) I am rubbish at taking time out for me. As a general rule, I don't want to stay away or even be out for a day (although I am going out tomorrow - more about that in another post, no doubt), it just doesn't feel right somehow. Obviously I go to work, try to go to the gym and occasionally go out in the evening but each one of those is preceded by long periods of procrastination and a hope that some minor incident will enable me to cancel.
d) I am an all or nothing type - but maybe that's the nature of this particular beast?

So, what to do? Well, I have been to see the doctor so I have a plan. There is little I can do medically whilst I remain hopeful of another natural pregnancy, but there are things I can do.
And tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Eggs and chickens (and ducks)

I'm not sure which came first, my Dad's crush on Felicity Kendal or our attempt at running a smallholding. In fact, I'm not even sure the two were linked - either way, I was lucky enough to grow up with a goat, some chickens, sheep, a horse, dogs and feral cats. In the midst of this amazing opportunity was an experience that I still struggle to overcome. One day, I cracked an egg into a pan and there was a dead chick (thank god it was dead when you think about it). Since then I have become an egg facist - they need to be really fresh, really cold and are always cracked into a bowl first. I avoid all eggs that I'm not sure about.
So yesterday, when we bumped into our friends at the allotment and they gave us two boxes of eggs from their chickens and ducks, I was already working out how to rehome them as I smiled.
We donated one box to our neighbours in return for last night's supper, which just left three eggs looking for a home ...

... when whipped together with some parsley from the garden, they made the most perfectly fresh and tasty omelette.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Just been to the allotment (twice this week - you can tell I need to be out of the home). All is well although not too many seeds poking their heads through. I don't seem to have lost anymore plants - the last head count was 6 tomatoes, 2 courgettes and a globe artichoke - although a couple of the beans have been slaughtered by the multitude of snails that gravitate towards our plot as they get to live, feed and eat without stumbling on a blue pellet. A neighbour told me that we had just missed a pair of magpies methodically hunting on our plot - don't you just love nature.
This morning I planted some raspberry canes in the garden, we also have lettuces, tomatoes and peas doing well - can you tell I'm a bit obsessed with Alys Fowler? I'd quite like to dress like her too ....!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Wife on a Short Fuse

I had plans for this weekend, not big plans, but the sort of 'little bit of time to myself' kind of plans. Unfortunately none of these had happened when I stomped off to bed at 8pm last night with the really grown up - 'I'm just so bored'. Having humphed and sulked my way through this morning I eventually told the assembled family that I wanted to watch this week's epsiode of the Edible Garden with no interruptions so off I went with my salad (including homegrown lettuce leaves, how authentic). Having improved my malaise slightly I then stomped the dog around the streets for 45 minutes in the hail/sun/rain/wind. I felt better, I was grateful for what I have and even managed to ignore another pile of washing up that had developed in the intervening period. More importantly, things seemed to have improved at home too.
Maybe sometimes it's good to be childish ..

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Two and beyond

Scarlett turned two on Monday. I read a lovely Patrick Gale book once that talked about a mother who, although a bit rubbish in many ways, always spent her child's birthday doing whatever the child wanted. I decided there and then to make that a family tradition (not the being rubbish bit).
Obviously Scarlett isn't able to tell me what she wants to do just yet (and if she could I suspect it would be to spend all day filling her watering can and sitting on the floor next to her, drawing owls and snakes).
So this is what we came up with on her behalf ....

An early start in the garden playing with her new gardening set and bubble machine.

A family cooked breakfast followed by presents (presents and more presents!)

A trip to Baylham Rare Breeds farm and a close encounter with chickens, sheep and goats (and Mummy)

Some new shoes (I am now wondering why on earth I thought this was a good colour for a toddler).

After all the excitement and activity, a snooze occured on the way to Pizza Express so we left her and had a few minutes of adult time before the food arrived.

Dough balls and salad were followed by a pizza and a huge ice cream (that Dan kept trying to eat).

And then home for some drawing (owls and snakes) on her new easel.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Sweet or sour?

Over the last six weeks I have stopped eating sugar and yeast, I have upped my vegetable intake fourfold, I haven't had a drink since December 31 and I have started every day with a cup of hot water and lemon and finished it by religiously writing down everything I have eaten.
I have lost another half stone (add that to the stone I lost between July and November) so I am lighter than I have been in about ten years - before I met my chef, doubled my food intake and then had a baby.
I'm just not sure I feel better though. I'm happier with how I look and more confident. I seem to be less imbalanced and not as keen on chocolate at 4pm but full of energy, with clear skin and no PMT? If only ...
As for the diary filling - someone told me to do it so I do. Sometimes I am barely able to keep my eyes open once I have tidied my way to bed, washed my face, cleaned my teeth, applied eye cream/face cream/heel cream/handcream, filled in the food diary and written my daily diary. At that point, I then try to read my book. Dan (who probably came to bed after me, was in bed before me and has read several pages) then turns out his light and sleeps like a baby.
Last night, I didn't read long enough so I seemed to be awake for ages and then Scarlett started crying in her sleep, then going quiet, then crying in her sleep again. Finally she was awake at 4. Yes 4.
Perhaps today is not the day to best judge if my energy levels have been raised with the new eating regime?

Thursday, 15 April 2010

How to make a small child cry

Scarlett has been talking incessantly about bubbles lately. Bubbles at breakfast, bubbles at lunch and bubbles at teatime. Most notably, bubbles whenever she sees her spotty sleeping bag.
It dawned on me yesterday that bubble is in fact Mr Tumble from Something Special (he wears spots, hence the bedtime bubbles)
This morning I thought it would be fun if we both tried to call for Mr Tumble only, without a television in the bedroom for him to magically appear on, this backfired momentously with lots and lots of tears, screaming and launching onto the floor.
To be honest she didn't really recover all day.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb

We visited the allotment this morning, even the dog came along. We dug, weeded and planted - peas and leeks this week. The sun was shining and everyone was happy so we were there for nearly two hours. A large pile of 'free' woodchips had been put onto the edge of our plot so I met lots of other people as we all took as many as we could as quickly (and politely) as we could. Apparently the Council are also going to be dropping off some compost - the product of our brown bins I suppose - so I'd better pay the annual fee before they terminate our ownership. You'd think I'd pay the bill for something that makes me so happy as soon as it arrives.
Dan reluctantly left for work, he has a low-key wedding party to feed, so Scarlett and I replenished our missing calories and now she is coughing her way through her afternoon nap.
I have mowed the lawn, hung the washing out and washed up so there is nothing much more to do than get started on a knitted dress using the diagram and scribbled notes that I painstakingly drew up last night and keep one eye on Notts Forest v Ipswich.
Oh and stew the homegrown rhubarb, of course.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

I had a lovely day

I'm a little late checking in on my day out in the big smoke - suffice to say, I had a great time. In fact, any spare time I have had since coming home has been spent looking through old patterns, really old patterns, for some inspiration.
Watch this space...
Oh - by the way - sometimes the wool shops that look beautiful and welcoming on their website are not as pretty and kind on the inside.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Bring it on

In preparation for tomorrow's Big Day Out I have finished off a few projects that were stuck in my unimaginative zone. Firstly we have the Dumpling cardie - an absolute favourite present when Scarlett was born, now recreated in a larger size.

The pattern is from Rowan and uses Big Wool - but I cheated with the much cheaper Sirdar Big Softie. In many ways it is better as it is also washable - but it's not very strong and broke several times when I was sewing up.

Next on the list was the Clothkits pinafore dress. I am very in love with this, and thankfully so is Scarlett.

In fact I am quite happy with both and feel ready for inspiration tomorrow - and if I don't get any, then I am happy just to have time to read on the train!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Missing: knitting mojo

I am suffering a creativity block. I can't knit, I can't seem to write and I also can't get excited about anything crafty. I am hoping it is just a phase and I will feel much more chipper when the sun is shining again.
My friend and I are escaping next week to browse around yarn and vintage shops - perhaps I will be all fired up again after that....

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Happy Sunny Mummy Day

(He's flattening a hyacinth bulb, incidentally).
I am a bit new to this Mothers Day business - this only being my second but also married to a chef so unable to play the 'spoil me with a lie-in, fancy lunch and freedom from all jobs' card. When Scarlett's nursery handed me this card on Thursday, I assumed it was an early Easter card (thankfully, they have already realised that I'm a bit daft).

So this morning I was very happy with the compulsory housewife presents - a new apron and my first ever cake tin. You might need sunglasses to view this photo as not only is my apron super bright and lovely but the light reflecting from my hallway is quite startling (in case you need a bit more information here - it was a faded yellow woodchip tunnel until quite recently).

I'm off for tea with the maternal side of the family this afternoon. I have baked a cake and some biscuits using an old favourite.

My grandmother has been trying unsuccessfully to rehome this Kenwood Chef over the last few years. She has tried so many people and avenues, it has almost become a family joke. When I last visited, I realised that she wanted it to have a good home as the last time she used it was the day my grandfather died, 14 years ago; she had made a cake that he never got to eat.

So I took it home, washed it and today it has been very busy. I think I will be making a 97 year old very happy - don't you?

I've also baked some biscuits and I'm now off to find some material to give a pot of homemade jam a little hat.

Oh listen to me.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Why I love living in Suffolk

In the past seven days I think I have experienced the best of Suffolk. There are times when I want to move away, times when I feel a bit embarassed that I have only left to go to University (albeit twice) and times when I wonder whether we will always be here.
But the weather was bright and shiny last week which does, of course, help you love your life a bit more. And then having so much work done at home forced me into the car and out to the places I couldn't walk to.
So, here is Scarlett harassing pigs at Baylham House Rare Breeds and meeting some Spring lambs.

She has absolutely no fear with animals (I wonder where she gets that from) running up to the cows, pigs, goats and cockerels, shouting "ello" and then moving on. As all these animals are used to people feeding them I would not have been surprised to see at least one of them picking her up by her hood and consuming her in one bite.
With our plasterer needing to do that really high and precarious bit on the stairs last Thursday I thought we should ship out; if only to save asking him to move everytime we needed a nappy, slipper, hair clip or whatever else I would not have remembered to bring downstairs.
I kept trying to think of where we should go, who we should see or what we should achieve and then that little voice (I sometimes listen to) said 'but where would you really like to be?'
So we went to Felixstowe, my childhood town, and definitely a favourite place. Scarlett fell asleep on the way there so I read my book, parked in the sunshine, with the windows open - lulled by the gentle sounds of sea and snoring.
We then played and wandered for ages before eating sandwiches in the car, realising we were really late for nursery/work and then hooning up the A14.

The final part of my experience was a long weekend in Aldeburgh with family and friends.

Not on my best form - with Scarlett full of a cold and cough-induced insomnia (typically)- but a walk to Thorpeness, some shopping, good food and a few laughs set me up for this grey, cold week. And our hall looks amazingly bright and airy.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Take one hat

Just £2.99 from H&M