Friday, 30 May 2014

Talents - What makes me awesome?

I'm pretty sure that I'm not unusual in that when faced with this prompt from #BEDM I baulked and immediately started thinking of all the things I consider myself to be utterly crap at. This list includes:-

  • deadlines
  • knitting
  • victory rolls
  • exercise
  • resisting the urge to eat all the maltesers
  • graciously accepting compliments
But then I thought sod it. It's ok to shout about your talents. I will always shout a little bit louder about my failures than my successes, its just the way I am. But I'm not going to pretend I'm not proud of my baking. I make no apologies for the fact that my carrot cake stands head and shoulders above any other carrot cake I have eaten. Trust me this is extensively tested.

My milkshake might not be anything to write home about but my cupcakes well, they will bring all the boys to the yard. Girls are welcome too. 

So ignore the above list. No-one cares if I'm running late with my hair looking like a bird has nested in it. I'm brining cake with me and am well worth waiting for. Well my cake is.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Wish list

I'm a list maker. I use wunderlist on my tech, but my favourite is obviously a pen and papery list. Bulleted with little stars, beautifully handwritten and space for a big tick when the task is complete. Making me far happier than it really should.

I list everything. From things that area already overdue to books I want to read. Last night in the midst of a healthy eating wobble rather than heading to the kitchen to binge on smudge's left over easter eggs I wrote a list. A muckle long list of all the food I wanted.

It was actually a really useful exercise. It was fun admitting I wanted maltesers, chip butties and jammy donuts. Especially without the guilt of actually eating them.

I use lists to calm me. During Tuesday's pity party listing featured. Two great big lists. One of things that make me smile, one of things that make me cry. The smile list was lots easier to write so I took comfort from that. But mainly I took comfort from the scratchy noise of my pen on the paper and the sense of achievement I always feel filling a page.

Since I'm a list maker extraordinaire it won't come as a surprise to learn I've used goal setting lists for a long time. I love looking back months down the line to see that normally I've done pretty well. At least with the realistic ones!

If writing in a notebook is powerful then maybe putting that writing out into cyberspace will make it supercharged. So my current goals are:-

  • Celebrating Christmas with 2 children this year.
  • Reading 50 books in 2014.
  • Spending my birthday comfortably wearing the size 12 jeans hanging in my wardrobe. 
  • Getting paid for my writing. 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Share the love

Whilst I'm aware that I'm still in the first flush of blogging I am coming to the conclusion that this has the potential to take over my life. In fairness, I am a bit of a pro at obsessions. The reason I don't drink or gamble is my spectacularly addictive personality. So the obsession de jour is blogging. Less spendy than the shoe obsession of '03-'04 but not so good if I'm expected to stop reading and actually live a life.

Making time for the writing is not an issue. I have been scribbling almost everyday for a while. But the reading, how do I make time to read ALL the blogs?

Rather than merrily linking to my entire bloglovin' follow list I thought I'd list just two favourite new finds.

An Armchair By the Sea - Home of the Ninja Book Swap which I am excited to have just signed up for. Bex's seems to have very similar reading tastes to me so I'm looking forward to finding some new favourite books through her. Although I haven't picked up a book in days, what with all my time being spent reading blogs!

Nick King's World -  Adoptive Dad who writes spectacularly about family life. His 3 year old reminds me so much of smudge at that age. Although smudge has never flooded the house with a hose through a cat flap, why do I feel that this sentence needs a yet?

Although I do feel really sad that I haven't mentioned several other blogs. It's making me think that a new page might need to be added with lots of listing...

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Pity Party

I cancelled today. Due to my need to cry at the slightest provocation. I know enough about the tangled mess of my brain to know when to rest. 

So today has mainly consisted of me curled in "my" armchair watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on netflicks. I did some writing. I did some thinking. I mostly did some nothing.

I was working hard. Repairing the sore bits of my brain. Healing.

Tomorrow will be a better day. Tomorrow is a new day.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Bank Holiday Fun

Since smudge learnt to ride her bike we're always on the hunt for decent family cycles. Unfortunately, cycling from home is tough as there are lots of hills in every direction. Canal paths are billiant and when we worked out we could combine a cycle with a trip to the Kelpies all we were waiting for was for the weather and g's shifts to coincide and co-operate.

We parked at the Falkirk Wheel. Thankfully g was driving and he remembered we had the bikes on the roof and didn't attempt to get under the 2m barriers. This post may have been slightly different had I been at the wheel.

The canal paths are really well maintained and great to cycle along.  The canal is obviously thriving as we spotted heron, nesting swans and lots of different types of ducks. Unfortunately, we didn't spot any otters.  Possibly because they heard our approach and ran to escape the din of smudge singing Frozen songs - for 4 miles!

The Kelpies are spectacular. Nothing I have read or watched about them prepared me for the scale of these sculptures. Not only are they huge, they are beautiful. Even on a dull day the panels of steel shine. But when the sun keeked out from behind the clouds, briefly, they glimmered and sparkled in the sun - Twilight Kelpies!

There is plenty of space to walk around and admire them from different angles. So now all I need to do is come back on a beautifully sunny day to see them properly shine and I'd love to see them against a really stormy black sky.

The site has ample bike parking and a coffee & cake and burger stalls.  We didn't have burgers, they did look amazing. But I had a decent coffee and by the speed it was devoured I can only assume that smudge's ice cream worked for her. There appears to be some sort of building going up. So maybe next time we go there'll be a visitor centre or cafe to shelter in if the weather isn't as kind next time.

After a wander and posing for some pictures we got back on our bikes and raced back to the Falkirk Wheel. Why is it that smudge cycles twice as fast on the way home?

One day we might get a photo with all of us in it at the same time!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Best thing about childhood

I grew up in a tiny village right on the coast of the Scottish Borders. Having freedom that makes it sound like I grew up in the 60's. I was the embodiment of a free range child and really did travel miles to and from the beach, to friends houses and to hay stack forts.

I could overload the internet reminiscing about growing up in Coldingham.  But whilst it was a magical part of my childhood it wasn't and isn't the best bit.

These guys are:

My fantastic siblings. I'm the eldest, Shona 2 years younger than me. Selina 2 years younger than her and Stu 2 years younger again.

I am not going to pretend that I didn't spend most of my childhood hating one or all of them. I was often heard screaming "Why couldn't I have been an only child?" Some of our 'scraps' ended in broken furniture, smashed windows and often in bloodshed. The 5 years Shona and I shared a room were particularly interesting, for reference they are called the screaming years.

In all my best early memories they are there:

The year we started unwrapping the Santa presents without parents at 2am. Stu was too little to join in on this one and escaped Mum's get back to bed or Christmas is cancelled lecture/rant.

Challenging Shona to cycle through the greenhouse to test her Wonder Woman eligibility. Not believing she was stupid enough to try. She was, still bears the scars and still is more Wonder Woman that anyone else I know.

Selina, Shona and I waking Stu up with very loud, very drunken dancing and singing to Shania Twain's Man I Feel Like a Woman. All four of us dissolving into giggles when this 6 foot 4"14 year old with beardy bum fluff whined "I'm telling Muuuuum"

As an adult my sisters are two of my closest friends. Stu ran away to Canada. 3 older sisters will have that effect on a man. I adore them and love spending time with them. They get to me in a way that no other person can. They drive me crazy but woe betide anyone who crosses us. I am quite convinced I would get off a murder charge using the "he/she tried to hurt my sister." Or at least have 2 people to help me hide the body and avoid getting caught in the first place.

My siblings are the reason we are adopting again. I have no desire to move back to a tiny village in the middle of nowhere to raise my family, idyllic as it may be. But I will do everything I can to give smudge a sibling. I'm sure she's going to be grateful in 20 years time when they are both adults. Until then I'll stand back with my hands protecting my ears from the screaming wondering what the hell I was thinking.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Healthy Living - Quitting Sugar

I mentioned in a previous post that I'm in the process of quitting sugar. Seeing that todays #BEDM prompt was Healthy Living it seemed a grand idea to give a bit of an update.


Getting here has been less that fun. Headaches, stomach cramps, killer drooth* and irritability. By irritability think of an insomniac, pmt-ing grizzly bear with a hangover and you still aren't close to what my poor husband has had to endure. Then all of a sudden I felt ok, actually not just ok, amazing.

I'm able to get out of bed in the morning without hitting snooze 7 times. I have more energy, I'm not actually doing anything with it but it's nice to have. My tummy has shrunk. I've lost 3lb. So I already look better. Of course that feeling has me standing up just a little bit straighter too. 

The odd thing is that my appetite has shrunk so that I'm having to remember to eat. Now being as that I have used this sentence to mock people horribly in the past I don't make this confession without feeling like a bit of a tit.

Last night when I shared a packet of maltesers with g I did it knowing what I was doing. Fully conscious that this was a treat. I'm not planning to never eat sugar again. I just don't want my entire day dominated by my need to work out where my next fix is coming from.

I even resisted lovely looking cake today. I wonder how long I'll remember that I like the way I feel more than I like cake?

*Drooth - a dry thirsty mouth - we Scots got all the best words!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Date Night

I married a cop. He did, and still does, look spectacularly good in uniform. I'm not allowed to post a picture here, he claims for security reasons. The fact he's a police office doesn't prevent him from telling great big whopping lies!

While the sight of him in dress uniform is definitely a tick in the pros column. A blot in the cons is shift work. It makes a normal social life an administrative nightmare. I have been to countless nights outs, family gatherings and even my little sisters wedding, where our daughter was a flower girl, solo.

The thing that gets me the most about him working shifts is that while couples snuggle up for date night across the land. I'm home alone, well not quite alone. Fighting with a bed hating 8 year old in the early evening and then later bored witless with television scheduling that screams "hey saddo. Everyone else is getting laid tonight."

But this is the rarest and most wonderus of weekends. A weekend off.

So Friday night looms. I have exfoliated, shaved, buffed and moisturised. I plan on feeding my child fish fingers and waffles and incurring her wrath as I wrestle her into bed early. Then I will light a couple of tea lights, whip something I've prepared earlier out of the oven and seduce my darling husband. By falling asleep on the sofa, snoring and dribbling on my own shoulder.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Out of the Comfort Zone

Today's #BEDM requires me to get out of my comfort zone. Since this blog is so shiny and new I haven't really managed to find one of them yet.  But nonetheless I haven't posted any creative writing before so here goes - meet Bert, I think you'll like him...

Bert wasn’t a usual sort of 94 year old. Definitely not the sort of 94 year old found at Sunnyacres retirement complex. It was obvious in his refusal to dress according to the unofficial Sunnyacres colours of beige, dove grey and powder blue. He was a vision in Technicolor, resplendent in his array of multi-coloured cravats. Without his raspberry chinos it just wouldn’t be a high day or holiday. To anyone who might comment on the vibrancy of his attire Bert was quick to reply “Aye, I like colour. If I’m found dead in beige I’ll haunt the sod responsible.”

His refusal to conform ran deep. Rules were a particular flash point. He might have been 94 but he was still in the grip of Peter Pan syndrome.

The majority of Sunnyacres’ staff were unequivocal in their belief that the secret to his ripe old age was down to the sheer amount of whisky in his system, pickling and preserving him. Wendy Baxter was rather more cutting in her justification of his advanced years. Her, oft repeated, belief was “the auld git is powered by spite and a stubborn determination not to do anything expected of him.”

Wendy Baxter required Sunnyacres to run to the regimented order that she had engineered and demanded in all aspects of her life. But for Bert, it would have. Aware that any sign of annoyance would spur him and his cronies on Wendy Baxter maintained her detached, professional, dead eyed smile and convinced herself he was blissfully unaware of her need to reign supreme.

Perfectly marinated in malt he may have been but Bert was proof that you don’t live for close to a century without learning a considerable amount about people. He was able to read Wendy Baxter like a book and liked nothing more than teasing her. Rather like a cat with a mouse.

Sunnyacres was thriving. Wendy Baxter misguidedly insisted her ‘firm and fair’ professional approach, keen eye for detail and methodical manner resulted in the low staff turnover. It was lauded in Board Meetings and Wendy Baxter foresaw a glittering future for herself at head office. She was wrong on both counts.

The real reason was that staff could never bring themselves to leave and risk missing Bert’s next episode. No matter how bad things got under Wendy Baxter the chance to regale families and friends of his exploits was too good an opportunity to pass up. 

The story of the naked protest over the change in laundry detergent was a firm favourite. Bert had insisted that the new brand was leeching the colours from his clothes, adamant that Wendy Baxter was on a mission to destroy the raspberry chinos. It took three au naturel trips into the communal dining hall for Bert to persuade her that it really was worth the 3p extra per wash. 

Another favourite was his police warning after a whisky fuelled attempt to educate the masses on the merits of good fiddle music. He liberated an amp from the store cupboard, positioned it on his window ledge and was having a rare time until the police car pulled up the drive. Wendy Baxter’s biggest grievance wasn’t the police car outside Sunnyacres but that one of the Police Officers left on less than steady legs. Rumour has it that whilst issuing the verbal warning the Officer received a little musical education, without amplification but with whisky flavoured lubrication.

Encountering Bert was never dull so the fact that Bert’s encounter with Death was so quiet, without pomp, ceremony or even a small fanfare was a shock. Bert was found, empty whisky tumbler in hand, eyes closed, looking serene in death. A career in a retirement home has a tendency to make one rather blasé about dead people but Wendy Baxter found the sight of Bert frankly unnerving. She excused herself from the room rather more quickly than was ordinary. Struggling to reconcile the wee man slumped in the chair with her adversary, despite the auld git wearing those bloody pink trousers.

She oversaw the funeral arrangements with none of the relief she had expected and life at Sunnyacres quickly faded to the beige of her wildest dreams. Wendy Baxter felt none of the usual satisfaction from creating order and routine.  She began to fidget, daydream and doodle. The staid routines of her life felt like constraints and she found herself rebelling.

She stared small; black stockings with a navy skirt, then a fish supper eaten in the paper for a Tuesday night tea, moving on to rashly purchasing red curtains for the dayroom. Admittedly hiring the stripper to help celebrate Mavis’ 85th birthday would not be considered a career high.  Resulting in 3 angina attacks, seven cases of dangerously high blood pressure and a minor stroke. But with her newly acquired devil may care attitude Wendy chalked that one down to experience. After-all, Mavis still hadn’t stopped smiling.

Using a good malt whisky she moved further from the beige raising her glass to toast a worthy opponent and absent victor.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


Despite making time most days to write I don't have a set workspace. This is down to my aversion to technology in the creative process. I can't get the words from my head onto a blank computer screen. I need a pen in my hand and to see my scribbles on the page. So almost everything I type comes to life in a notebook.

This method satisfies me in a number of ways. Not least that I find filling notebooks, jotters and random loose pages intensely satisfying in a way that a word.doc could never fulfil.

Then there's the coffee issue. I drink coffee to lubricate and wake up my creative juices. It isn't a major issue when I dribble it or even knock it right over a notebook. But if he catches me with any liquid near his precious mac g will enter orbit. Admittedly, this is less to do with his neuroses and more to do with my clumsiness and pre cons with liquid based technological disasters. 

The biggie for me, and why I'm not in the least ashamed to be sticking to my notebook, is that I can write anywhere. I don't need a power point. I don't even need a flat surface.

When the sun shines I write in the garden. When I'm knackered but have something I need to get out of my head and onto the page I write in bed. I write curled up in my armchair pretending I'm ignoring Hollyoaks. I've been known to write in my breaks at work. I sit at Nana's bureau or the kitchen table and I empty my head onto the page.

When I sit to type I'm conscious of style, grammar, spelling, punctuation and all the other things that help a reader make sense of my ramblings. So while I'm sat between the living room and the kitchen I'm changing, reordering and fairly often laughing at my inventive ways around my inability to spell.

Doing #BEDM has made my newbie blog much meatier, there is actually some content to scroll through. I like this. But what I'm more chuffed with is that all this working out what to post means I'm powering through my purple notebook and it's nearly time to choose a new one... 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Being adventurous

I don't need to chuck myself out of a plane, put on cramp-ons or travel half way around the world to be adventurous. I'm doing it every time I send a post circle letter, go to Cake club or make dinner for friends.

When I got depression I didn't know what has happening for a long time. I was scared of everything. I couldn't sleep properly. I had no faith in myself. The only emotions I seemed able to feel were anger and sob inducing pain.

My world had to become very small so I could cope. I hid. Leaving the house only when I had to and very rarely alone.

I thought I had a strong support network of friends. I'd worked on these friendships and believed these women would be there for me. As I had been for them. They weren't. Even in the midst of a black cloud that descended well before the perceived betrayal it stung. In stinging it got horribly tangled into the depression, it became part of it.

I am now in a happy, healthy place. Better able to cope with the bumps in the road. I've spend a lot of time and devoted a lot of energy to working through, soul searching, analysing and healing.

Like a lot of illnesses, depression does leave scars. Mine are on the inside. My social anxiety is new and I am learning to live around it. I refuse to listen when the scarred bits of myself tell me that there is no point cultivating friendships. That no matter what I give I'm not good enough to receive. I fight the urge to run from the crowded room. I pretend I'm confident because if I don't the tingling in my nose just might progress to tears. I always carry mints in my handbag incase I need to throw up before I arrive.

I'm stubborn and I refuse to let depression change me so fundamentally. I was confident and self assured and downright awesome before. I won't be feeling it on the inside so I'm going to act until I can forget I'm acting.

Monday, 19 May 2014

The best thing about being a grown up

I started writing this post sat in the sunshiny garden, listening to the blackbirds battling with the magpie. I was confidently scribbling that the best thing about being a grown up is the freedom of choice. I know that today there are loads of things I should be doing but I'm a grown up. I can ignore my to do list safe in the knowledge I will live to regret it. All to take full advantage of a rare glimpse of the sun.

But as I was writing I realised that while choice is amazing and a privilege that I am prepared to fight for. It isn't the best bit about being a grown up.

The best bit is getting to be a parent. The magical bit is that this means that at least a small part of me never needs to be grown up. With smudge in tow I am looked at indulgently and with just a little envy as we splash in puddles. If I get observed having a puddle jump when smudge is elsewhere I can see the shaken heads, tutting and people decrying the inadequacies of care in the community.

Parenting is nothing like as simple as puddle jumping, teddy bear picnics and colouring in contests. There are spectacularly hard bits which of course arrive when you are one sleepless night away from clinical insanity.

Then your child does something they haven't done before and you understand how someones heart can burst with pride.

Or they get the giggles. I defy anyone to listen to a small child with a serious case of uncontrollable giggles without ending up with at least a smile on their face.

Or you hear a news report or watch a tv show without a happy ending. The child is the same age as yours or looks vaguely similar and you find yourself standing in their bedroom watching them sleep. Tears pouring down your face. Thanking a God you don't believe in that your child is safe and warm and fast asleep in their bed.

Being a child was easy. I am lucky enough to be able to look back and only remember sunny days. Being a grown up is tough, the sunny days are rarer and need to be nourished, nurtured and cherished. But the fact that I get to try and fill my child's memory with sunny days is awe-inspiring. Challenging, bloody hard work some days but spectacularly good fun to bring to fruition. 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Power Dressing

I knew today was going to be tough. I knew I was going to need to be brave and kick ass powerful in a way that most people won't ever be able to understand.

Most of all I knew that today I needed to paint on a smile and just get on with it.

I did what any self respecting child of the 80's would do and power dressed. I'm proud to say that I left the shoulder pads in the fancy dress section of my wardrobe and stuck to my sane clothes.

I dressed to hide the pain and hurt. To pretend that some of the people who I love the best aren't the same that hurt me the most. To distract from the insensitivity. It didn't work. I still hurt. I cried a bit when I got home. I knew I would.

But I did it all better in gold stilettos, with eyeliner flicks and in a GAP dress that I picked up in the sale for £25. Baby shower chic!

Friday, 16 May 2014

A Day in the Life

So a day in the life. I should probably be keeping the words to a minimum but I never have mastered brevity so this might be a long one...

7am strong black coffee, still too nuclear hot to drink and I'm in the kitchen straining brambles to make a bramble and elderflower jelly to top a cheesecake. I should have had the coffee first. I used a stupidly fine sieve and it took ages.

There is no picture for 8am because at this time on a school day I am running around trying to wash and dress whilst persuading smudge that she does actually need to wear pants every day and trying to find where the sodding hairbrush is this time. This morning it was in the drawer where it should live, which is why it took so long to find it.  Neither of us thought to look there.

9am smudge is at school the dog has been walked and I've got the washing on the line. Am ignoring the big black clouds and going with the metcheck weather app on my phone and crossed fingers.

10am No this wouldn't be me procrastinating. This is me downloading audiobooks so that I can expand my mind whilst I cook.

11am Have escaped the clutches of the computer and made some pastry. Yep I am watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the ipad while I cook. If you have a problem with that I can show you the moves I've learned...

12 noon After a bit of a panic when I realised I forgot to buy or order the ribs I was trying to marinade I'm back from a fast cycle to the butchers with ribs.

1pm Pasty rolled and resting in the fridge again ready for blind baking and becoming a Mississippi mud pie. Yes that is the bottom of my ipad and yes I'm watching another Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No I didn't actually listen to any of the books I downloaded. I watched Buffy and danced to cheesy Friday radio.

2pm Online shop has been delivered and the kitchen is a riot. Check out the amount of fresh ginger I managed to order - rather relieved that fresh ginger freezes well.

3pm Sitting on a wall in the sunshine with an old, tired and smelly mutt waiting for smudge to come out of school.

4pm Smudge is off trying her damnedest to kill herself on roller skates so I'm back in the kitchen again. Marinating a shoulder of pork. I'm slow roasting it overnight for dinner with friends on Saturday.

5pm Still in the kitchen, have probably made enough coleslaw for the entire internet. But with homemade mayonnaise and a special top secret recipe (yeah I'll probably blog about it another day) I'm sure I'll manage to palm it off somehow.

6pm Had of course made way too much pastry so made g and smudge a mince pie for their tea. I'm being angelic so no pastry for me.

There are no photos for 7pm, 8pm and 9pm because I was eating, drinking coffee, bathing a small smelly person and then enjoying sitting down way to much to go find a phone to take a picture of me sitting down. 

10pm Chocolate cupcakes out of the oven. Lined up neatly so that the 12 vanilla cupcakes in the oven can cool beside them.

11pm Pig going into the oven. Night night pig, sleep tight, I know I'm going to!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

A whole new world, well a whole new me at least

I've been keeping very busy the last couple of days. I need distractions. I've decided that enough is enough and that I need to stop ignoring it and do something about my sugar addiction.

I don't use the term addiction lightly. I am not being flippant or glib. I have a huge issue with needing sugar to get through the hour let alone the day. On top of this I binge and secret eat. Not healthy, not clever and not anymore.

So without any real planning I stopped yesterday. I'm on a big health kick, cutting out all sugary things, so my carb intake will hit the floor and I'll probably end up loosing a few pounds. But while fitting into some smaller clothes will be nice this isn't about what I'm going to loose. I'm focusing on all the energy I'll have when I stop using sugar as a crutch. How awesome I'm going to feel when I don't have to beat myself up every time I reach the bottom of a sharing bag on my own. 

There are loads of ways of looking at what I'm gaining. I might go and list them now and hope that it stops me craving cake!

Home Sweet Home

I'm a bit of a homebody. For me one of the best bits about a holiday or even weekend away is coming home, putting my key in the lock and knowing that waiting for me are all my favourite things, all in their allotted places. I love going away, it's just that for me coming home is an integral part of the experience.

I've posted before about Nana's bureau which might be my favourite place. But it might not be, I also love the weird hall bit between my living room and kitchen. The previous owners of our house added a great wrap round extension and there is a odd non-room area between my living room and the end of the kitchen where the table lives. It's too wide to be a corridor but hard to furnish or use because it needs to be kept clear so that ravenous children and husbands have a clear run to the table. On viewing the house I knew instantly what I was going to do with it, it was just a matter of finding book cases that worked in the space.

I was really lucky that the sizes worked perfectly with the very reasonably priced Ikea Expedit. I love that the furniture is all white as it really lightens what could be a dark area. Filling the shelves with books didn't prove to be an issue and I've had to get creative with the space as g is increasing concerned that the weight of still boxed books in our loft might bring down the ceiling.

I also had to accept that I was going to have to sacrifice 4 valuable shelves so that we had somewhere to put all of the pens, pencils, multicoloured papers, glitter glues, stickers and craft gubbins that smudge can't live without. Where could she have picked up this love of stationery???

The whole area was brought to life by the addition of a church pew.

Mind not just any church pew. This is a pew from the church g and I got married in. When the spectacularly beautiful Coldingham Priory was getting a facelift my Mum and Dad gave us one of the reconditioned pews as an anniversary present. It's the perfect place to sit and try to work out what I should read next.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Defining Features

I'm not a fashionista, glamour-puss or style icon. Most days I just about manage to pull myself together and some days I even manage presentable. But if I'm making the effort to get out of my jammies I'll be putting on some form of make up.

This is partially because if I don't smudge asks questions like:-
"Mummy, you look funny. Are you poorly?"or "Why do you look so tired?" On the worst days she sticks to clear statements such as the classic "Your eyes look weird."

In her defence, she probably does have trouble recognising me without a healthy dollop of liquid eyeliner. Eyeliner flicks have been my go to look for a wee while.  Heck for longer than smudge has been alive.

My weapon of choice is the Lancome Artliner. At around £16 a pot it's not cheap but the felt applicator is a dream to use and I do find that one of these lasts way longer than my second choice.

Max Factor's colour X-pert liner is around £7 a pot and has a similar style applicator. However I do feel like I get more flicks from 1 pot of Lancome than I do from 3 pots of Max Factor so I can justify the spendy purchase.  

I need to be standing up to apply it right. I have no idea why, I do most of my make-up and hair sitting down but this makes for wonky flicks. I also pull the strangest faces when I'm applying it, much to smudge's amusement.

I use pictures to experiment with new styles as my Pinterest board will testify and always have a good gentle eye-makeup remover on stand by. I have to say that the best tip I got is that your face isn't symmetrical so don't stress if your flicks don't match perfectly. It's also worth remembering that very few people are going to be inches from your face scrutinising your application. Unless of course you associate with lots of people who have issues respecting your personal space.

Monday, 12 May 2014

I should just stay home

Today's #BEDM prompt is about my walk to work. Which is going to be interesting because I get the bus. I could tell you about the god awful bus journey but shouty, bolded, capital letter posts aren't good for my blood pressure or your eye sight - I hate the bus.

Fancy city folks don't know how good they have it with their modern 21st century buses. If my bus came with a couple of shire horses harnessed to the front I'd class this as an improvement.  At least the smell of horse shit might go some way to mask the heady aroma of burnt rubber, seriously manky upholstery and the rancid body odour of the scary looking passenger who always wants to sit next to me. I hate the bus.

If I'm not talking about the bus I could talk about my route to the bus stop. Unfortunately, I don't actually know that much about it. It passes in a burr as I do a weird joggy, power walky, panty run. Punctuated with swear words as I curse my inability to leave the house in enough time. I'm also ordinarily pretty preoccupied with praying that the newly applied and probably still wet liquid eyeliner isn't migrating down my face in the rain. My umbrella is, of course, staying nice and dry at home.

I think that the above might go some way to explain why the first thing on my 'when I win the lottery shopping list' is a car of my very own.  I like this one.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

World Fair Trade Day

I drink a lot of coffee. I joke that I am fuelled by caffeine only it isn't really funny, just fact. About a year ago I attempted a detox, on day two g stomped into the living room, thrust a cup of coffee into my hand and commanded me to "DRINK". I may have been a little less than lovely due to the needing a coffee-ness of the detox situation.  

At home my go to brand is the Cafedirect range. The whole range is fairtrade and they work directly with smallholders so the taste their coffee leaves in your mouth isn't bitterness at the fact that someone has been shortchanged.

However, despite the fact that I really would prefer my coffee to be ethical, my main reason for choosing Cafedirect is taste. I've tried a few of their coffees and always enjoy them. They are smooth and punchy without any bitterness. I can't always get my favourite Machu Picchu single origin which is just heaven in a cup.  I don't mind that it's rarer, it means finding it is a real treat and is also why a trip up the coffee aisle is undertaken every visit to the shops. This is a coffee so tasty I never want to dilute it with milk so will almost always drink it black.

I'm never stuck because the Medium Roast blend is much easier to get and is still a supremely tasty cup of coffee. The Medium Roast was also the first coffee in the UK to wear the fairtrade badge, a trendsetter.  This is also ever so good black but I'm not so precious with this one so will happily dilute with hot milk and foam.

I tend to buy ground coffee, because I'm not good at getting the quantities of beans to grind right. Also grinding beans prolongs the making stage and what I really enjoy is the drinking.  My favourite method is my trusty stove top percolator, like the one below but considerable less shiny and more dented, bashed and loved.

I drink black coffee in the morning, frothy milky coffees in the afternoon and am banned from drinking coffee after 7.30 in the evening.

*I have not received samples from Cafedirect.  All views are my own.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Procrastination is not a dirty word

Today's #BEDM prompt is motivation. I'm going off topic and refusing to blog about something which just doesn't factor into my life. I use two alarms and an irate 8 year old, terrified of being late for school, just to get my feet on the floor in the morning. 

While procrastination is a subject I am on extremely close terms with. I first learnt the word way back in the mists of time, well high school English class, and instantly knew it was a perfectly precise description of me. I do nothing today that I can put off until tomorrow. While I would dearly like to be different, I'm not. Procrastination is as big a part of me as green eyes or a dirty laugh. I also believe that staring your flaws in the face and accepting them can only be a good thing.

So I'm a procrastinator and proud of it. My desire to delay renders me incredibly well read "just one my chapter and then I'll..." I can pack a suitcase for a holiday in a matter of minutes. It also means my skills with the touche eclat are deft. Constantly staying up late to finish things and being too vain to show off under eye luggage will hone those skills. 

I'm really not sure of the sanity of using Ron Burgandy as a role model but this justification is iron clad.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Local History

I work in a cafe in Lanark and I've lived close to Lanark for 7 years. So when I made a bit of a gaffe recently I couldn't decide whether to be embarrassed or indignant.

My gaffe was to question why few of the local businesses have Wallace in their names. I really should have engaged my brain first but I didn't and it turns out that Lanark is a pretty important place for William Wallace and the statue looking up the high street from St Nicolas church is in fact Wallace.

Lanark is mooted as where Wallace first drew his sword to free his native land killing the English sheriff in 1297. It actually wasn't Wallace appears to have been a bit of a thug killing the English whenever he thought he would get away with it. Lanark is where Wallace met, fell in love with an possibly married, depending on which source you read, Marion Braidfute.

So why is more not made of this? I'm sure that the Lanark museum would tell me all this and more, but I'm a little ashamed to admit I've never really considered this as a way to spend an empty afternoon.

So why do we hide our heritage under a bushel?  Especially when Lanark town centre is on it's knees, desperately needing every penny.  Why are there not massive signs on every paving slap proclaiming "Wallace was here"? William Wallace went from an outlaw to a legitimate freedom fighter in Lanark following the murder of his wife/paramour Marion.  I lived 6 miles from Lanark for 7 years before I found this out.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014


I am a big fan of a gadget. Be it bedecked with an apple logo, kindle shaped, heck even though I am more than capable of reading a map sat nav is mind blowing. But the gadget that I refuse to live without is my Kenwood Chef. It is not glamorous, it isn't even that pretty but wowee my cakes owe everything to this baby.

I'm not going to pretend that I have the patience or indeed the upper body stregth to cream butter and sugar to the pale whippidy goodness that this can and when it comes to mixing colours through icing I could cry with gratitude. Without my Kenwood everything would be iced in white, with lumps where I haven't quite mixed the icing sugar in properly.

But I'm shallow.  I'd ditch my Kenwood in the flick of a perfectly mascaraed eyelash for this object of beauty.

Is there anything more perfect than a Wonder Woman Kitchen Aid? How could my cakes fail to be anything other than fit for a goddess with this? An Amazonian Goddess at that.

The only thing that has stopped me form putting this on the credit card is that this is a custom paint job. Where do you go for a customer paint job on your Kitchen Aid? I also worry that doing a little research and finding out could prove very expensive. Sadly I have enough self-awareness to know that this would be in my kitchen for 30 seconds before I started looking at the kettle, toaster, microwave, dishwasher, cat...

See when you think about it like that, justifying over £60 for an apron actually starts to make sense.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Passion Projects

I want to write. I have done since I first held a pencil. Before smudge came home my plan was to use my evenings in with a small child and a shift working husband to write my bestselling series of novels. They were going to make me richer than J K Rowling. Although I am completely unashamed to plagiarise her kick ass awesome approach to taxation.

Needless to say becoming a parent to a toddler, dealing with social workers and getting completely tangled up in a web of depression, self doubt and anxiety left me feeling like a hollowed out shell of myself and incapable of anything creative.  In brief, I barely picked up a pen in 5 years.

Last year, still crippled with anxiety, I did something brave and went on a creative writing course at Strathclyde University. Despite having now completed both creative writing courses, 40 weeks of study, I am unable to put into words how transformative this was for me. I got a bit of the old me back and it was the bit that writes.  I try to write everyday, even if it's just for half an hour. Somedays I even haul myself out of bed at 6 to write while the house is quiet, admittedly not very often though.

I write this, short stories, a ranty journal and ever so occasionally I fight with stubborn characters and try to bully them into a novel.  I fail spectacularly, throw that notebook in a drawer and sulk with them until the next time. But even when I'm getting frustrated the scratchy noise of my fountain pen on the paper soothes.  The sight of my handwriting filling up a page makes me feel empowered. Whether, I'm workshopping some of my creative writing or just hitting publish on a blog the mere fact that I am sharing some of my words blows me away, I'm invincible.

Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to consider putting myself out there and seeing if I could actually make some pennies doing something I already love.  But not yet.  Right now I'm still practising.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Cinco de Mayo

Hooray today has a name. This is a good thing. Days with names are celebrations and celebrations have accompanying food. I do like days where you have to eat.

So despite having no connections whatsoever to Mexico, even tenuous ones I really have wracked my brain, today we celebrated Cinco de Mayo.

We celebrated with a BBC Good Food Chicken Mole. Partially because I like it but more because the ancho chillies were in a big packet and Chicken Mole is the only recipe I have managed to find which uses them - so far...

I should at this point apologise for using the BBC Good Food website picture. I'm not ashamed to admit that after I've been cooking for what seems like weeks the idea of delaying my dinner longer to take a picture does not compute so I'd eaten most of my tea before the thought even occurred to me - sorry. I've linked the pic so getting clicking if you want the recipe.

It takes a bit of making what with long stewing times and shredding chicken etc. but is well worth the wait and left us with very festive feeling tummies. Even though I am still at a bit of a loss as to what Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of.