Jul 26

Back to work, neglected blog

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It’s been over a month since I last posted, largely because had little brain time to think about blogging.

I’m enjoying my return to work but due to a massive new project and extra responsibilities my job has taken a larger chunk of my life than the allotted 3 days a week. Fair dos, it’s interesting and exciting and I’m not complaining, but I am looking forward to the day when things have settled down.

So here’s a catch up, starting with No. 3 with my June mosaic meaning I’ve completed half the PAD project for 2011.

I’ve also kept to no. 4 and managed at least one PAD challenge every month. This is my June Scavenger Hunt. Check out the link if you want an explanation of what each photo represents. I doubt I’d have completed over 200 days of photos without the monthly hunt and other challenges, they are great inspiration for dull days. I also learnt about a photography trick this month called cross processing.

What else? Let’s see.

The June mosaic has evidence of No. 28, we’re working on a plan for October for No. 19, and I have started on the sling for No. 31, although this has rather stalled with lack of time. Must complete this task, especially as Rachel has completed her pregnancy challenge and produced the beautiful Polly Delphine.

The June PAD mosaic also has two shots for No. 51. Matt took Rhys to see Titchy Tiny Science at the Cheltenham Science Festival, a children’s show all about vibration and sound, while Meredith and I ate cake and drank tea in the cafe tent. The weather was truly atrocious. We then had a break for Rhys to attend a birthday party before we raced back to Cheltenham Town Hall to visit the stalls and learn about magnets, the heart at the Blood Bar, nuclear power, heat sensors, Jenner’s fight against small pox, and a bicycling skeleton. I can’t recommend the festival strongly enough and I hope that next year, when I am no longer attached at the hip to a small baby, I’ll be able to attend a few more of the events myself.

I’m yet to complete No. 78 but Matt has taken up bread challenge again, this time using fresh yeast. Every time I eat home made bread I question why I continue to buy crappy sliced stuff from supermarkets. I think we should return to having an emergency toast/toasted cheese loaf in the freezer and proper stuff for the rest of the time.

Oh and if I can track down my Gran’s old recipe once more, I’ll steal some of the yeast to spread on toast and make some more of her ginger beer…

I spent some of the weekend working on the dull No. 80 and now my hands are dry and sore. Sigh.

Meredith has started having a banana for breakfast every morning so No. 85 is no longer much of a challenge. Indeed, Rhys has been seen with a banana in his hand on a few occasions recently, there is hope for that child yet.

And finally, I got a call up from the National Blood Service this week so I’m sure that No. 94 won’t be too long, iron levels permitting.

And that’s my round up for June and for half way through July. I promise not to leave it so long, not least because I have a list of nonMission related things I want to blog about in my head….

Jun 5

30-Day Book Challenge – Days 25-27

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Day 25 – Favourite book you read in school

This has to be To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. A book that leaves a very deep impression on most of its readers, I would think. It is a perfect story, making difficult subjects accessible to young readers without patronising or protecting.

It is just as good as an adult read – I was shocked that Matt was never made to read this at school and after much badgering, he picked up my copy. “It’s quite good, isn’t it?” he said, surprised. Yes, dear, it is.

Day 26 – Favourite nonfiction book

Tricky – there are lots of books I like to read that aren’t fiction – cook books by Leon, Nigella or Nigel, or text books (I’ve got a fondness for my old Ritter, Rang and Dale Pharmacology text book).

I’ve chosen this book as it’s nice to have something contemplative around and because it’s a book that I associate with good people I know both personally and as the progressive movement that has shaped British society.  Quaker Faith and Practice is a religious book written for the Society of Friends by members of the Society of Friends.

The red book covers the procedures and practices of British Quakers, how Meetings are organised and so on, which is a bit dull if you’re not a Friend or at least a regular attender. So unless you have a particular interest in these things, I recommend heading to the chapter entitled Advices and Queries. It gives a strong insight into what drives Quakers individually and as a religious organisation.

I also like the chapter Faithful Lives which gives testament regarding Society members over the years and others that discuss caring for one another, relationships and so on. Anyway, if your curiosity has been pricked and you’d like some thought provoking reading, much of the book is available free online.

Day 27 – Favourite fiction book

This is the same as Day 1. Odd that.

May 24

30-Day Book Challenge catch-up

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Due to not particularly extenuating circumstances, I’ve got behind on the Challenge so here’s the catch-up post.

Day 12 – Book that is most like your life


Day 13 – Book whose main character is most like me

Well, obviously I’m a 21st century version of Harriet Vane.

*waits for laughter to stop*

Ok, I suspect our life at present is pretty much summed up in any of the  Calvin and Hobbes strips and the character most like me is probably Calvin’s Mom. She’s so ubiquitous to her son she doesn’t even have a name in the cartoon strip, you only get glimpses of the woman behind the mom. She’s a stay at home US mom and I’m a working from home UK mum but there are more similarities than differences in our homes. You can see her trying to create time for her own interests in the chaos of her family life and how her temper is stretched too thin by Calvin’s antics.

It was when we caught Rhys crashing his cars that it really hit how accurate Bill Watterston’s portrayal of a small boy and his stuffed tiger is. We can only hope that his reception class teacher is as formidable as Miss Wormwood.

Day 14 – Book whose main character you want to marry

Back to being Harriet Vane.

Obviously the only fictional man I would want to marry is Lord Peter Wimsey, the gentleman detective created by Dorothy L Sayers. He is considerate, intelligent, rational and has views on the role of women in society years ahead of his early 20th century roots. He is rich and generous with his money, he can afford enough staff to allow Harriet’s career to continue after they have children. He is perfect, never more so when he escapes to the countryside with his new wife in Busman’s Honeymoon.

For all that, I’d happily ignore the fact that actually I don’t fancy tall thin blond blokes who talk as if they have a mouth full of marbles. Any passing resemblance between Matt and Wolverine is entirely coincidental.

Day 15 – First “chapter book” you can remember reading as a child

I don’t remember which was my first chapter book but it was almost certainly an Enid Blyton story. I remember my Dad’s passion for gold ingots in Five On A Treasure Island and looking forward to finding out what happened next. I know we read the Famous Five series often enough that by the time he started to read it to my sister I was able to quote whole chunks of the text.

It’s hard to imagine being able to create a series of books now where children solve mysteries in apparently ordinary settings, like the Famous Five or the Secret Seven. Children have so little autonomy and independence that people are now criticised for letting their child walk to school unaccompanied, let alone camping and hiking alone for days. The likelihood of uncovering treasure or a spy ring in a soft play centre seems fairly small.

May 19

30-Day Book Challenge – Day 10 – A book that changed your life

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Matt would probably argue that Nigel Slater’s Real Food changed his life more than mine but that’s ok.

Matt doesn’t have an enormous appetite but does like good quality food. When we first met he said he couldn’t cook anything other than fried eggs, burgers and student spag bol. That’s ok, me and the friend who I shared a flat with were both enthusiastic cooks so it wasn’t such a big deal.

We got married and moved to our own flat, I did the cooking. I like cooking, I like baking, but it does get a bit tedious when you are the sole provider for the meal at the end of the day. You end up turning to fast solutions and repeating safe recipes; the joy of cooking can be lost among a sea of pasta and pesto.

When I fell pregnant in January 2006, I couldn’t think about food. If you put a meal in front of me, I would happily nosh it down but if I tried to think about choosing or cooking food, I was immediately couking. And then there was the phobia I developed about opening the bottom of the fridge, which combined with an inability to make decisions and cancel the veg box order, meant that we had a growing pile of rotting root veg that needed using up.

The Christmas before, in a hope I could encourage Matt to share the cooking even occasionally, I bought him Real Food. I think it was on the the third day of me suggesting potato waffles for dinner that Matt opened up the book. After fetching a toaster from Woolworths – our grill wasn’t up to the job of producing urgent quantities of buttery toast for a grouchy upduffed woman with carb cravings – he went shopping.

I don’t know if what he cooked that day actually came from Good Food or whether Nigel Slater was just the inspiration but the Thai fishcakes and green curry, cooked from scratch, were certainly a revelation. And I mean scratch, there was Matt making green curry paste in the food processor. Hell, I didn’t know he knew we had a food processor.

It proved to me that Matt can do whatever he sets his mind to and do it well. And that this ability to apply his skills to new tasks could no doubt be transferred to cleaning the bathroom…

By the following Christmas, Matt had two new roles – Daddy and Chef, cooking roast turkey for 12.  Matt is now the roast chicken dinner maestro – his roast potatoes are divine (thanks Nigel!) –  the one who rummages through the cupboard and freezer when I’m weary of being a mummy and comes up with noodles and stir fry shellfish or Tom Yum soup.

Not being responsible for every meal means that when I do cook, I mostly enjoy it. And if we’re doing something slightly more complicated we can share the task. I still do the meal planning and Matt still pops his head around the corner and asks if we have any of the one item we don’t have any of, but generally it feels like the burden of meal provision has been lifted.

So, there you are, Nigel Slater changed my life.

Feb 16

Quick Mission update

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13.  I’ve just signed up for information on the upcoming release of Olympic tickets.

We live within a few hours of London and Rhys will be 5, almost 6 that summer, old enough to retain at least a  few memories. And as London-lovers, it seems a shame not to attend such a huge event in at least some capacity.

I remember being quite unsure that hosting the Olympics was a Good Thing for London – memories of the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games fiasco came to mind – but now it’s so close, I am hopeful it will be brilliant. Talking to Matt last night about signing up for tickets and possibly visiting the Olympic Village really unleashed my excitement about 2012.

Rhys is enjoying his preschool gymnastics – because it’s part of the much larger Rowan Gymnastics Club the children have miniature gym equipment including a low beam, bar and wedge for learning to tumble.  It’s great watching the children’s faces as their teacher demonstrates cartwheels and tumbles before the class starts.

I have no expectation that Rhys will be an Olympic gymnast one day but if watching a gymnastic event or other competition in 2012 inspires him and his peers to keep active in one form or another it will be a great legacy.

100. Another six items donated away. Mostly small puzzles that we have done and won’t ever do again. There is something very satisfying about getting rid of stuff, oh yes. I should focus more on that sensation.

We rearranged the living room and dining room on Sunday, including the games pile. While there was boxes and clutter everywhere, Matt stopped to show Rhys the chess set and explain a few of the rules. Rhys looked fascinated and has asked about it since; he really likes the idea of board games even if he doesn’t have the patience for the rules yet.

Feb 11

Who says romance is dead?

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Originally uploaded by Zeb2007

Matt brough home a Bravia TV last week and has hunted down the Bravia adverts – the bouncy balls and the Play Doh bunnies in NYC.

I really want a Bravia bunny, he once had to restrain me in John Lewis Oxford Street to stop me sneaking a giant display one home. It was just sitting unwanted in a corner and looked like it needed someone to rescue it.

The bunny advert makes me cry. It’s just perfect.

It’s as romantic as we’re going to get this St Valentine’s Day because Matt has a very early start for a business trip on the 15th.

We’ve never been big celebrators of Valentine’s anyway, except the year Matt proposed. We had a lovely meal at Live Bait and then he proposed… at Farringdon tube station. On the banks of the Circle Line.

Who says romance is dead?

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Feb 2

PAD January 2011 and a quick Mission update

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PAD January 2011
Originally uploaded by Zeb2007


On a more positive note, I successfully completed my first PAD month and here is the evidence.

I’m stupidly excited at having a mosaic for January 2011. I hope I’ll have at least 11 more to add to this blog and perhaps beyond.

There’s not much update on the other tasks though.

No. 25 – Well, Matt bought a copy of the book as we couldn’t sit on the library copy forever but my reading is at an all time low. I need to invest some time to this book and a few others.

No. 37 – Um yes, I need to actually work at that one. No. 60 is going fairly well though, I mostly manage six portions a day at the moment, so I suppose that’s something.

Of course, no. 86 isn’t helping no. 37 because we’ve made leftover bananas into muffins (see Rhys in the mosiac) and also banana honey cake (which is way too good to share wtih children).

No. 87 – The Onya veg bags have had several trips to the greengrocers now and damn useful they are too. Here’s what Onya Weigh look like for anyone who wants to see what they are.

And that’s pretty much me for up to the end of January and into the very start of February…

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