Friday, 31 January 2014

Word Of The Week : Week Five

So, Word of the Week.
I'm joining in with The Reading Residence's  word of the week Linky.  Lots going on over the past couple of weeks, but a theme running through was challenge.

chal·lenge   (chăl′ənj)
a. A call to engage in a contest, fight, or competition: a challenge to a duel.
b. An act or statement of defiance; a call to confrontation: a challenge to the government's authority.
2. A demand for explanation or justification; a calling into question: a challenge to a theory.
3. A sentry's call to an unknown party for proper identification.
4. A test of one's abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking: a career that offers a challenge.
5. A claim that a vote is invalid or that a voter is unqualified.
6. Law A formal objection to the inclusion of a prospective juror in a jury.
7. Immunology The induction or evaluation of an immune response in an organism by administration of a specific antigen to which it has been sensitized.

challenge (ˈtʃælɪndʒ)
vb (mainly tr)
1. to invite or summon (someone to do something, esp to take part in a contest)
2. (also intr) to call (something) into question; dispute
3. to make demands on; stimulate: the job challenges his ingenuity.
4. (Military) to order (a person) to halt and be identified or to give a password
5. (Law) law to make formal objection to (a juror or jury)
6. to lay claim to (attention, etc)
7. (Hunting) hunting (intr) (of a hound) to cry out on first encountering the scent of a quarry
8. (Veterinary Science) to inject (an experimental animal immunized with a test substance) with disease microorganisms to test for immunity to the disease
9. a call to engage in a fight, argument, or contest
10. a questioning of a statement or fact; a demand for justification or explanation
11. a demanding or stimulating situation, career, object, etc
12. (Military) a demand by a sentry, watchman, etc, for identification or a password
13. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) US an assertion that a person is not entitled to vote or that a vote is invalid
14. (Law) law a formal objection to a person selected to serve on a jury (challenge to the polls) or to the whole body of jurors (challenge to the array)
[C13: from Old French chalenge, from Latin calumniacalumny

{Sourced here}

Being a parent is never going to be easy - neither is being a woman, or being disabled.  But sometimes it feels as though everything is a fight, and I'm always on the losing side.  I want to be a part of things, but it's just so hard.  So I've been challenged, and been challenging this lasdt little while.  Hopefully things are on more of an even keel now, so I can leave the distress and confusion behind and get on with living this life instead.

The Reading Residence

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

handknit heaven : my gorgeous blanket

A few months back, I decided to treat myself to some nice wool to make myself a blanket, and coincidentally spotted that Black Sheep Wools had Rowan colourscape in the sale - perfect.  But, as you do, I dithered before putting the order and the colourway I wanted had been sold out.  Of course.  I choose two others instead, and then found a couple of skeins of each on eBay, and snaffled those up too.  As I'm sure the knitterly amongst you are well aware, it never hurts to have an extra skein (or two) just in case.  This being my life, my order was eaten by Royal Mail, but got sorted in the end - thank you, Sara and co of Black Sheep Wools!


Colourscape (spelled with a U in the middle as Rowan is a uk company - woohoo!) is  classed as chunky which seems to mean different things to different people.  As I wanted a proper size blanket that would cover my toes as well as my nose if I was snuggled up, I figured I was going to be using either an 8mm hook (if crocheting) or 8mm tips for my beloved knitpro circs - perfect reason to buy both then, right?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

how to make : mincemeat streusel

A couple of years ago I had a slice of something delicious - I imagined it was what you'd get if stewed fruit, pastry and crumble somehow had a baby together.  I was (fairly) reliably informed that it was called streusel, and while I've tried to replicate it a few times, I've never been able to make the crumbly topping to be the right kind of consistency.  

I was pondering this a couple of weeks back, and the little voice in my head said what about cornflour?  It gives shortbread that kind of dry crumbly-ness, got to be worth a try...  So I did.  Yum.

Monday, 27 January 2014


I'm sorry - sometimes I get knocked for six.  
This quote pretty much sums it up :
"Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living."
Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

versatile blogger award. mine mine mine mine mine

Very pleased to be nominated by Mr Boos mum over at Premmeditations for a Versatile Blogger Award, and on a bit of a roll today - a day when I have officially
Got Things Done
 (it happens so rarely that I have officially rewarded myself with permission to use those capitals),
so have written the post
(and those capitals too)


Cos I'm just that good.

Here's how it goes - seven random facts about myself, then nominate some other blogging wonders (have also officially temporarily assigned myself the title Blogging Wonder, hence the 'other' bit)
 (me thinks me needs more sleep and less coffee)
(and less 'officially's)

So, seven random facts about myself...

Fact #1 
Seventeen years ago, I sold four 1kg bars of Cadburys Dairy Milk to Mr Motivator.

Fact #2
I can't have anything between my toes - flip flops that have that bit that goes between your big toe and the rest of your toes - that is my idea of torture - I cringe just thinking about it.

Fact #3
I won a brand new car through one of those 'enter your name here and you might win a car, a holiday, a watch or an air freshener' type prize draw.  Unfortunately I was nine.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

how to make mincemeat

This is another experimental recipe, but oh so yummy!  While I say experimental, what I mean is that I made it last year (January) and it was eaten over Christmas, so technically that might mean it was experimental last year - but I'm sharing it now with the added bonus of knowing how it will turn out in eleven months time ... have I lost you yet?

Although it might seem like a bit of a palava, making mincemeat, it will pay off next christmas, I promise.  One of the big advantages is that you can vary your ingredients to suit your tastes - if you're a big fan of the fudge-like texture of dried pears, chop a pack of those up and add them in.  If you prefer lots of apple, put more in.  If you're not keen on prunes, leave them out.  Your mincemeat, your rules.  

Traditional recipes usually include suet, sugar and alcohol, but not this one.  Suet makes the mincemeat taste kind of greasy to me, and because of Smiler's meds alcohol is a no go area.  The fruit juice (replacing the water and brown sugar) means you can alter the flavour a little, and the pomegranate juice tastes all mulled wine-y but - as with everything else here, feel free to switch and swap things in and out.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Siblings {January}

So, Siblings : a family portrait project  has been organised by ten of the blogger supermums, to take a photo of their children (each family, all together), on the 10th of each month.  
A lovely idea, to chronicle their relationship over the course of a year - my lot are a fair bit older than some of theirs, and photos are often kinda tricky with Smiler, but I'm going to give it a go.  I mean, it's got a pretty badge and everything ...
dear beautiful

So here goes - late for January, but hey - rules are made to be wriggled around.  At least that seems to be the case in my house.

I'm planning to approach it a little differently, and show you a few photos instead of one.  I often love the outtakes as much as the film, because they're real, and honest.  I'm no amazing photographer, and my kids don't know I write this yet, but hopefully someday they might like to troll through the archives and sneak a peek at the barely controlled chaos!

silent Sunday : 12th January 2014



Friday, 10 January 2014

Word of the Week : Week Two

My word of the week is 'conclusions'.
It's all about how quickly people can jump to them.

con·clu·sion   (kn-klzhn)

1. The close or last part; the end or finish.
2. The result or outcome of an act or process.
3. A judgment or decision reached after deliberation. See Synonyms at decision.
4. A final arrangement or settlement, as of a treaty.
5. Abbr. con. Law The close of a plea or deed.
6. Logic
a. The proposition that must follow from the major and minor premises in a syllogism.
b. The proposition concluded from one or more premises; a deduction.

I actually have a favourite jumping to conclusions quote :
 "I didn't jump to conclusions, I took a teeny tiny step, and there conclusions were".


I hit something on route to the floor this week, and now, a couple of days later, I look like this :

I know.

I feel a bit sorry for Mr Manley - being 6'2" and walking around holding hands with someone whose face looks like that - well, as you can imagine, he has been the unfortunate recipient of more than just a couple of nasty looks!

I have been approached in women's toilets twice, offering information and advice and help for me to find a safer situation.

Much like when he accidentally shut my hand in the kitchen door and all but chopped off one of my fingers, many people seem to have jumped to the conclusion that I must be being abused by my husband.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

this is what matters

I held my breath, waiting until that electronic tone sounded loudly in my ear, unsure - or maybe just unwilling to accept that she'd hung up.  I resisted the white hot angry urge to throw it out of the window or to the floor or against the wall - anywhere, anywhere to get it as far away from me as possible.  I oh-so-carefully put the phone down on the kitchen worksurface, and he was next to me already. 

As his long arms wrapped tightly around me I could suddenly feel myself shaking, and I breathed deeply, trying to let go, but just shook more.  One hand smoothing my hair, the other stroking my back, his voice against my ear:
"What she's forgetting is that she was only my family by chance.  You are my family because I chose you."


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

what I want

You might not want to hear this.

You might not believe me.

You might think I'm a horrible selfish person.

But here it is :

I love my son very much.

And sometimes, I want him to shut up and leave me alone and behave like a normal twelve year old.
(And yes, I did just use the n word)

I want to snuggle in bed with my husband on a Saturday morning, giggling under the covers, trying to be quiet so the kids don't hear us over the TV.

I want to stand under the hot steamy shower at the gym without feeling like I should hurriedly rinse my hair so I can check my phone.

I want to not know which ward at the children's hospital is for what, to not know consultants names, specialties and secretaries phone numbers off by heart.

I want to go out for a meal with my family, choose what I'd like to have, and eat it at my leisure, concentrating only on my own plate and the conversation.

Maybe I am a horrible selfish person.

But I'm telling the truth.

Friday, 3 January 2014

working to scale : traybake recipe

I don't have photos of the recipe itself (coconut and banana traybake), partly because it was an experimental recipe that Petal and I made earlier this week, and partly because as we were experimenting with the equipment as much as the food I knew I wouldn't be able to keep track of everything!

But I have, however, got something else loosely connected that I'd like to share - we call it working to scale, and it provides a formula for a basic traybake which you can then adapt to your hearts content.  {I have another for cupcakes - watch this space!}


So, first up, you need to weigh your eggs.  I used four eggs, which weighed 256g.  I tend to round down a little if the number is ungainly, since the weight includes the egg shells, which won't (intentionally) be making their way into the mixture!


Thursday, 2 January 2014

the post christmas post

You know when you look around a couple of days after christmas and realise that you've been wearing your dressing gown far too much, there's no fresh fruit in the kitchen, the only people whose voices you've heard you either gave birth to or are sleeping with, and you haven't stepped out of the front door in three days?

No ... me neither.

Petal not especially looking forward to getting out, but fortunately waving a camera around soon brought a smile to her face, though I'm not quite sure what Noah was grinning at - maybe three solid days of sugar had had some kind of effect...  Smiler, however, was very pleased to have been trusted with the important task of being in charge of the shipping list!


Wednesday, 1 January 2014