Saturday, 31 January 2009

Men We Shouldn't Fancy But Do: Eddie Izzard

I was watching the Jonathon Ross show last night (I know, naughty boy but I do find him amusingly outrageous sometimes) and he was interviewing Eddie Izzard.

Now, I've always like Eddie - yeah, we're on first name terms now - but mainly because of his comedic abilities. But on the show last night he was so damn sexy! Did anyone see him? His voice, the way he carries himself, his manner is all very sexual. And all this even when he described himself as a 'card carrying transvestite'.....

OK, is it just me or does anyone else find him sexy? Or have I just been on my own for too long? Anyway, I offer you the following scenario.

You are waiting for him to pick you up on a date. The doorbell goes and when you open the door Eddie is standing there wearing the same dress as you. Do you:

a) Slam the door in his face,

b) Go upstairs and change, or

c) Go out on the date anyway and laugh about it.

Can't wait to hear your responses!

The Sisterhood Award

I have been sent an award by Tawny who always leaves the nicest comments on my blog (and other too). Tawny is a glass half-full type of gal, and she sounds like she has her life pretty much as she wants it. Thanks so much for this - from one sister to another!

As always, there are certain rules that go along with receiving this. Here are the rules for the recipients:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.
Not sure if I will manage to nominate ten blogs, but here goes with my list:
Oooh, I managed to do ten! All of these blogs are entertaining, inspirational and thought-provoking. Through these blogs I have met some wonderful 'sisters' who all go to make up this amazing blogosphere. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do.
Btw, Tawny - I've been trying to leave messages on your blog but it doesn't seem to be working. Not sure if it's me!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

An American Apology


I was very pleased to receive this email earlier today.

Dear World,

We, the United States of America, your top quality supplier of the ideals of liberty and democracy, would like to apologize for our 2001-2009 interruption in service.

The technical fault that led to this eight-year service outage has been located, and the software responsible was replaced November 4. Early tests of the newly installed program indicate that we are now operating correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional on January 20, 2009.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the outage. We look forward to resuming full service and hope to improve in years to come.

We thank you for your patience and understanding,

Sincerely,
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Well USA, all I can say is thank you for the apology, but can you ensure that when this new model has run its course (and assuming it doesn't have any malfunctions during service) that you take care to replace it with a similar model. Thank you.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

My music: John Mayer

I thought I'd share some of my favourite music with you, 'cause I just know you are busting for me to share it!

I have to say right here that I am a huge music fan, always have been. And I love all different types of music too.....except jazz. Particularly trad jazz. Nay, nay and thrice nay. I once had a boyfriend who loved it and every Thursday we would go to a old style pub, with trad jazz musicians playing to nodding fans in a smoke filled room. My only excuse for this aberration of taste was that I was young and in love but those long Thursday evenings probably secured my dislike of trad jazz, and I avoid it now at all costs.

But as I say, I have quite an eclectic musical taste ranging from rock to blues, to soul and pop, some classical stuff and everything in between, plus a whole load of other music which is hard to classify.

One of my current favourites is John Mayer, and for anyone who hasn't heard of him (and I don't think he's as well known here in the UK as he is in America) he is a brilliant rock musician. For anyone who has heard of him you may know him because of his succession of famous girlfriends (Jessica Simpson, Cameron Diaz and his current on-off girlfriend Jennifer Aniston). But rest assured despite his high profile love life he is a serious and seriously good musician. I first got to know his music when my brother gave me one of his early CDs. Since then I have followed his career and then last year I went to see him play live in Manchester. Let me tell you first of all that he is amazingly good live, and not only that but he's not bad to look at either! I thought I'd share one of my favourite tracks of his, Daughters. I just love the lyrics to this.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

I've been tagged!

One of my favourite bloggers - Kayleigh from Fashionably Later - has tagged me.

The Rules: 1. Go to the 4th folder in your computer where you store your pictures.2. Pick the 4th picture in that folder.3. Explain the picture.4. Tag 4 people to do the same! So, here goes:


This is one of a series of photos of our regular summer visitors. Every year a pair of housemartins come back to our front porch and use the nest they made a few years ago. We always enjoy having them back to visit, although it does mean I spend a few weeks cleaning up bird poop off the front door step.
The chicks in the photo have about a week before they get ready to fly away. That's something we always look forward to, finding out if they have flown to their new homes or if they are still making a racket in the porch - those chicks can be noisy!
Occasionally we see the chicks hopping around in the driveway and sitting on the fence before flying back to the nest. They usually have a few of these little outings before making the flight to their new home.
Below is a later photo of the chicks making that maiden flight - they flew to the telephone wire outside one of our bedroom windows, where they sat for a while before flying away. They looked so cute and fluffy and they were a bit wobbly on the wire, and I felt like a proud mum watching them making their way into the world.


The four people I am tagging are That Girl at 39 and Counting; Cybill at Working it Out; Ladybird World Mother and Jane at Workthatwardrobe. I look forward to seeing your photos!
Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, 19 January 2009

The Single Life: Part 1


Sometime last week I wrote about some odd dreams I had been having and asked for help in deciphering them. The reasons for the dreams were not too difficult to figure out, but I was struggling to understand why particular men featured in them. Anyhow, amongst the comments Tessa asked if I had thought of dating again and I replied "I had a date 5 years ago and it was a disaster. I haven't bothered since." But that isn't strictly the case. The truth is that dating hasn't bothered with me.

My reply to Tessa's question has been on my mind for the past few days, and I can honestly say that not only have I not been on a date for 5 years but I haven't been asked out on one either. I can't remember the last time I met a man I was interested in, or who was interested in me. I have met men who were friendly, pleasant and occasionally good company - but that's all.

To be honest I was a little unprepared for the suggestion of dating again, because it's something I have relegated to Things I Have Done In The Past. It's not something I do now, and the actual thought of it is slightly unsettling.

My love life has never been the most successful aspect of my life - I'm appallingly bad at picking men, and I don't see that as some sort of 'loveable flaw' it's just a fact that I get it wrong more often than not. My lovely Mum used to half-joking/half-seriously suggest that she should choose my next partner and considering she was happily married to Dad for 53 years I think she would have made a better stab at it than me.

Quite recently I was talking to a friend of mine who asked me whether I felt ready for a new relationship. I remember saying that that part of my life was like having a room in your house that you no longer use. You know it's there, but the door is firmly closed and the fear of what I might find in that room prevents me from going in there again. It's a much safer option to keep going the way I am, which to be honest if fine as it is. Yes, of course it's lonely sometimes but at least I know how to deal with that now.

I think this is a topic I will come back to again because I'm not even clear in my own head about this and it's really quite difficult to make sense of the whole thing. Bear with me. Please!


Picture from here

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Having A Craft Moment

Sorry if you have clicked on this post expecting something about embroidery, scrapbooking or how to make a full scale model of the Titanic out of matchsticks. No, it's not that type of craft moment I've been having.

Yesterday a friend called round and as I was starting to cook dinner for us, I look into the fridge for an ingredient but couldn't remember what I was looking for. My friend said "Are you having a craft moment?"

Craft?

"Yeah, Can't-Remember-A-F*cking-Thing."

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Alert: Dream Analyst with a strong constitution required!

I have always had vivid and bizarre dreams since I was a little girl and I can still remember some of my dreams from when I was as young as 7 or 8 - and in detail too. And every couple of days I will announce at breakfast that 'I had the weirdest dream last night.....' before catching a glimpse of my daughters' synchronised eye rolling.
Yes, it's fair to say that I'm used to odd dreams, recurring dreams and dreams based around a single theme. Not so long ago I was having a series of dreams about setting off on long journeys only to be thwarted in my travel plans and never quite reaching my destination. The insightful La Belette Rouge very kindly decoded these dreams and suggested I may be experiencing some sort of frustration with life or perhaps with unfulfilled ambition. As soon as I read it I knew she was right. The dreams stopped immediately and I set about making some necessary changes.
When I say 'the dreams stopped' I mean of course that those dreams stopped, because I continued on having weird and sometimes wonderful dreams as per usual.

Now, brace yourselves folks because there's no easy way to say this. For the last 10 nights I have been having the most vivid and, how should I phrase this...erm, provocative dreams. Are you catching my drift here? Don't make me spell it out. (Three letter word ending in x. No, it's not fox, box or sox. Although the last one could be pretty close. Ahem)

Now, the first couple of dreams were just fine and dandy. George Clooney made an early appearance (yum!) followed by John Mayer. I saw John Mayer in concert last year and thought he was very easy on the eye at the time but hadn't really given it much thought since. OK, so far so good.

Then came a succession of ex-boyfriends. Hmmm.....some more welcome in my dreams than others, but OK I could see the logic of how my sleeping brain might be working.

Then came last night's dream. I dreamt I was in flagrante delicto with an ex-neighbour of mine. I haven't seen this man for more than 12 years, and he's 70 if he's a day. Oh. My. God! What is going on? And in the dream - which I am mentally trying to exorcise even as I write - I was totally enraptured by him. I woke up this morning feeling quite disturbed. If I hadn't been planning to have a shower I would have jumped in one anyway to stop myself feeling so grubby. Urgh!

I'm almost tempted not to sleep tonight. I may well make myself some strong espressos and sit upright in a chair so as not to fall asleep. I mean, who is going to be next? Oh, I can't even contemplate. Someone please decipher these dreams and put me out of my misery.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

OMG someone thinks I'm cool! Quick, tell my daughters!


I've recently received a really cool award from the lovely Antonella of Living Abroad. Grazie!
I'm not sure if the rule is to pass on it so I hope I don't get into trouble with the Blog Police if I sent one of these to the fabulously unique Audi of Fashion for Nerds. Now she really is cool.....

Sunday, 11 January 2009

My Mum's recipe for Scouse


People who come from the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Liverpool are called Scousers, and the word scouse comes from a stew traditionally eaten by the residents of the city. Originally called Lobskaus or Lobscouse it was a stew eaten by Scandinavian sailors who, in the early 1800s when Liverpool was a very busy port, brought their recipes with them and before long it was adopted by the locals. Its beauty was that it was a cheap yet tasty and filling meal, and could be adapted to suit what you had in the larder. The recipe was popular with the large Irish immigrant families who were settling in Liverpool and it could feed everyone on a small budget.

It is a thick stew - not dissimilar to Irish stew although scouse has fewer ingredients - yet there is no thickening agent added. The only thickening is from the odd melted potato from the very slow cooking. In fact, it's considered a good scouse if you can stand your spoon up in the bowl.

Lamb was often used, but we always had brisket in our family - but that was in the days when brisket was a cheap cut of meat. Not so much these days! I still like to use it though as it has its own unique flavour, but if it's not available I use good quality beef suitable for stewing. There is another version called 'blind scouse' which is the same recipe minus the meat. Blind scouse was on the menu when the housekeeping didn't stretch to buying any meat, but nowadays it can be offered as a veggie alternative.
Every family in Liverpool has its own version of this dish, and of course I always use my Mum's - with the addition of the Worcestershire sauce. Generations of Scousers have been raised on bowls of scouse - and I'm just surprised the Beatles didn't write a song about it.
You'll notice from the recipe that there are no amounts: you just use whatever you have in, judging the amounts by the number of people you are feeding. It wouldn't normally have as much meat (as per my photo) but I had bought more meat than usual.

As a Scouser I'd like to pass on a very special recipe to you. It's my daughters' favourite and tastes great on a cold day, with some buttered crusty bread. Even better, serve it with red cabbage (a traditional accompaniment). Fiona Beckett has a great recipe for red cabbage on her blog The Frugal Cook.

My Mum's recipe for Scouse

Beef - cut into cubes (brisket, stewing steak or any cut of beef suitable for a stew)
Onions - sliced, not too thinly
Carrots - cut any way you like
Potatoes (I prefer red Desiree or Orla)
stock using 2 beef stock cubes (I use Oxo)
vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

In small batches brown the meat in vegetable oil taking them out when browned and placing in a dish. When all meat is browned fry the onions in the pan, incorporating some of the nice crusty brown bits at the bottom of the pan.

When the onions are soft and translucent return the meat and its juices to the pan, along with the carrots. Add with enough beef stock to cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Dice and add the potatoes, adding more water if necessary. Season well with lots of pepper. Simmer until the vegetable are very tender. At the end of the cooking time I add a splash of Worcestershire sauce, but this would not be a traditional ingredient, I just like the added flavour.
Serve very hot.

This dish tastes even better if made a day ahead.  Once cooked leave overnight in a covered pan and reheat the next day, and by then the flavours will have melded together and the gravy will be thicker and even tastier.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Theology for 9 year olds

Today when we driving home from my daughter's dance class we had an interesting conversation about God. I think it was prompted by a TV programme we had watched about The Diary of Anne Frank and my 9 year old had asked about Judaism.

Small daughter: Which religion am I?
Me: You were baptised as a Christian.
SD: And does that mean I have to believe in God?
Me: Well, Christians do believe in God, yes.
SD: But Dad doesn't believe in God and he's a Christian.
Me: Well he was brought up as a Christian but now he doesn't believe in God anymore. That's his choice.
SD: So what does that make him then?
Me: A raving heathen, as my old nan would have said.
SD: Oh, ok. But I do believe in God.....although I'd like to make some changes.
Me: Hmm...what changes would they be?
SD: Well, I think God is actually a woman......
Me: I see
SD: ....and she's called Wendy.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

And the award goes to....


The very lovely Kayleigh from Fashionably Later has bestowed an award on my humble little blog. If you haven't checked out her blog then get over there pronto! She is a stay-at-home mum who is having lots of fun finding her style again, and seems to be Target's best customer. Now I'm not familiar with Target but they seem to have some lovely clothes! Kayleigh is also one of life's nice people, and I always get the feeling that if we lived in the same town we would be friends. Thanks for the award Kayleigh!

So, as required I have to include the following text:

"Blogs who receive this award are "exceedingly charming," says it's authors. This award is a fine one because it focuses not on the glory and fanfare of blogging, but in the PROXIMITY to one another through this online-world. "This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY--nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into into the body of their award."

And so I have to pass the baton onto 8 more bloggers. Hmmm......OK here goes:

Antonella from Living Abroad is Italian and lives in the UK. I've only recently discovered her blog but now I'm a regular visitor. Ciao bella!

Cybill at Sorting It Out frequently makes me snort with laughter, and that's not pretty. Check out her post called The Faux Pas Before Christmas and you'll see what I mean.
Mom or Mum Wars is a great blog, and I'm hoping she's going to get back in the saddle and do more posts! Did you hear that Mom/Mum? We want more of you!
Darla from Bayside to Mountainside has a very eclectic blog with everything from book reviews (she reads a lot) to crafts to recipes. And Darla is an absolute sweetheart too.
Tessa Scoffs is my haiku writing blogging twin,and I'm delighted to pass on this award to her. Nepotism rules!
A Confused Take That Fan frequently makes me laugh, and deserves all the accolades available to her.
The Diary of a Yummy Mummy follows the everyday tale of a mum who still wants killer heels and sexy dresses and a new baby too!
Tara at Sticky Fingers writes beautifully about family life. And she knows a thing or two about big boobs too.
If you haven't read any of these blogs I urge you to take a look - you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Being a single parent

Being a single parent has its highs and lows. For the past 6 years I have been the lone parent to my two lovely girls and somehow we have managed not only to survive, but to thrive. And I say that with some level of pride.

There is no denying the loneliness and isolation being a single parent brings. I have become an expert as making money stretch, have got used to not having much of a social life and can manage to do most small DIY jobs around the house on my own. I know that once the girls are in bed by 8.30pm the front door gets locked because there will be no spontaneous trips to buy milk/a takeaway/visit a friend.

I make all of the decisions for the family, attend all of the girls' school events on my own, arrange and attend parents' evening meetings alone, doctors and dental appointments are organised by me. Their father - my ex-husband - sees them every so often, when it suits him. He did recently decide to have the girls to stay with him once every two weeks but somehow, unsurprisingly, this arrangement has fallen by the wayside.

But being a single parent also has its benefits too.

We have learned that time spent together is more important than money; that we have to stick together and support each other if we are to make the best of this family unit; that good friends are hard to find and you have to work hard to keep them; that those same friends are worth their weight in gold when times get tough. We have learned some of the more important values. Money is great - of course it is! - but even when it's limited you can still have a good quality of life based on fun, friendship and family. And I think that will stand my girls in good stead for when they're older.

But there is no doubt that being a single parent is a tough gig. Nobody can prepare you for it. I would compare it to becoming a parent for the first time. You can read as many books as you like about it, watch TV programs and observe your friends with their children but nothing - absolutely nothing - prepares you for the shock of the real thing. When my eldest daughter was born I was amazed that the hospital allowed us to take her home. Without supervision! Nobody checked if we could cope - and as all new parents do we struggled at first.

It's a similar thing being a lone parent. Once you realise that you are it - the buck stops with you and you alone, then it's a bit of a shocker to be honest.

Lone parents are also the butt of all society's worries about the breakdown of family life. Single mums are encouraged to go to work, yet married mums are encouraged to stay at home.

Why am I writing about this now? Because I've come in for a lot of criticism just recently from my ex-husband who called me an 'unfit mother'. No, not because I need to lose weight (although that's also true!) but because I had shouted at my eldest daughter. Hands up any mums who have never shouted at their children, especially pre-adolescent ones?

The situation escalated to a preposterous level where he threatened to call in Social Services. It has been very unpleasant and upsetting and all completely unnecessary.

I've spent the past two or three weeks feeling hurt, angry, stressed and vulnerable. But do you know what? I refuse to be cowed. My motto has always been "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger" and it applies now more than ever.

Forgive me for being self-indulgent in this post, but I felt I wanted to say something about this odd situation I have found myself in recently. I can't (and don't wish to) go into more detail, but I feel better for getting something down in writing.

I'm not looking for sympathy, far from it. I think on the whole I have a pretty nice life. But, if you could find it in your heart to just bear this post in mind next time you read another newspaper article about a bad single mother, then that would be just wonderful. Thank you.