Sunday, 28 November 2010

Silent Sunday - Hat Shop in Milan


Silent Sunday

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Pyjama Woman


Every morning, on my way to work,  I drop Tall Daughter off at her school's Breakfast Club.  Almost everyday as we get close to the school car-park we pass another mum walking to the club with her son, who is in TD's class.  And every time we see them the mum is in her pyjamas.  Pink pyjamas (and not particularly nice ones) worn with trainers and since it got colder, a coat over the top of the whole classy ensemble.

This never fails to fascinate me, and I spend the rest of my drive to work wondering about Pyjama Woman and what she does with her day.  Does she work? If so, why isn't she dressed? Does she ever get dressed? Does she have several pair of pink pyjamas in the same scuzzy style or is that the same pair she wears everyday?  Will the pjs break out of the house one day and walk themselves to the school? Is she a test driver for a pyjama company?  Does she have no shame? 

Or am I a total loser with too much time on my hands? No, on second thoughts don't answer that....

Do you walk your children to school whilst wearing pjs? Go on, let me know if you do....I won't tell.

Monday, 22 November 2010

The one where I make a humongous decision


When you're approaching a significant birthday it's not unusual to find yourself thinking about your life - where you are in life, and what you want out of it.
It's been no different for me over the past couple of months.  In fact, it's been a few weeks of intense soul-searching and I've made some surprising discoveries and at least one far-reaching decision.

As I stare down the barrel of my 50th birthday next week, I've found myself thinking about the highs and lows of the past; my current situation and, more importantly I feel, what might happen in the future.
First of all, I've realised that somehow I was born without the additional chromosome needed for maintaining a successful relationship.  Really, it's no joke.  I had my first serious relationship when I was 22, that lasted two years then followed a series of unsuccessful, short-lived relationships with highly unsuitable men.  Then, aged 25 I embarked on a 'relationship' (I use the word loosely) with a commitment-phobe who kept me  dangling (willingly?)  on a string for 9 years. 

Less than 6 months after disentangling myself from him I met my future husband, and he moved in with me a few months later.  We were together for 9 years (are you seeing a pattern here) until he left in January 2003.  That was nearly 8 years ago and I'm still on my own.

Yes, I've had a couple of short lived flings since then but the last one was over 7 years ago.  Blimey.  I shocked myself then when I worked out how long ago it was.  I thought it was only 6 years ago.

Anyhow, I digress.  During the past few days I have realised that I'm not very good at relationships.  I know, you were already ahead of me weren't you? 

As a result, and this is a big step for me, I've decided to give up on the idea of ever having another relationship.  Ever. And do you know what?  It's a huge relief.  That means no more hoping I'm going to meet someone and no more subjecting myself to that modern day torture called Online Dating.
If you're reading this and possibly thinking I'm wallowing in self-pity, I'm not. It's been a revelation for me  and I feel so much better for it.

You might wonder how I can make such a decision.  Well, it's been relatively painless really.  When I looked back over the carnage that is my love life, I realised that the common denominator in each relationship was....erm, me.  And I'm not proud of the fact that I am, and always have been, somewhat of a loner.  I don't really like the idea of living with anyone again, another adult that is.  I like my space, I love my daughters and when's all said and done I'm relatively happy and content with my lot. 

But I've always wondered why I'm still on my own.  Well, it's because if I'm being brutally honest with myself - and I mean really honest - it's because deep down I know it's probably the only long term relationship I can sustain.  Which reminds me of a joke by Woody Allen: Don't knock masturbation - at least it's sex with someone you love :-) 

I'll leave you with a song to listen to. Whenever I hear the song Leave Right Now, by Will Young there's a line in it that always strikes a chord with me:

 'if I lose the highs, as least I'm spared the lows.' 

And that sentiment just about sums it up for me.  Now, about that future?  Bring it on.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Recipe: Bacon, Leek and potato soup

I've mentioned before that I love making soup in the colder months.  There's nothing more cheering than coming back from a long walk with Tess, or from the weekly shop and reheating a pan of homemade soup.  It warms the cockles.

One of my favourite soups to make is Leek and Potato, and this is a slight twist on that with the addition of bacon.  It takes about 25 minutes to make it from scratch, and well worth the effort.

Ingredients: 1oz butter; 1 onion - chopped; 1 leek - cleaned, trimmed and chopped; 1 potato - peeled and cut into small cubes; 4 rashers of streaky bacon; 1/2 pint of vegetable or ham stock; 1/4 pint of milk; salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in the pan (I also added a splash of olive oil to stop the butter burning). Add the onion and leek and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add most of the bacon (I didn't have any streaky, so just used what I had in the fridge)  to the pan keeping some back for garnish and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Then add the potato and cook for 1-2 minutes until the potato is coated in the juices from the other ingredients.

Pour the stock into the pan and bring the mixture to the boil.  Reduce the heat, put the lid on and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potato is tender.

Allow the soup to cool slightly before pureeing - I used a food blender, it's so much quicker and makes a smoother soup.  But if you want it to be a bit more chunky use a hand blender.  Pour the soup back into the pan, add the milk and add some water if too thick.  Check the seasoning - but be careful, the bacon and stock will have added salt so do check it first - then reheat gently.  Meanwhile, cut the remaining bacon into thin strips and fry until crispy.  Serve the soup with the crispy bacon as a garnish.

Delicious!
An easy yet delicious soup to make.  It only made enough for two though, so next time I'll double - or even treble - the ingredients to make more.

This recipe, and many other tasty recipes, can be found in the Good Food, Fast cookbook.  Made by the makers of the Dairy Diary it has recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less.  I've already got post-it notes stuck in several pages for the recipes I want to try next!

Silent Sunday ~ Playmates


Silent Sunday

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Still going: The Big Momma Challenge week 20!


I can hardly believe it's week 20! I think this is the longest I've ever stuck to a healthy eating regime even though it hasn't all been plain sailing.  I've had a few weeks when I've gained weight, and a couple where the weight remained the same.  But overall the trend has been downward, and this week was also a good week with a 3lb loss.  That brings my total weight loss so far to 23lbs, and I'm determined to keep plugging away at it.

I think the reason I'm still going is because this definitely is Not A Diet! It is a new, healthier lifestyle where I can still eat the same things I always eat but I'm more aware of portion control and taking a healthy option where one is available e.g. jacket potato instead of chips; a piece of fruit instead of a biscuit.

Image credit
The next few weeks are going to be tricky due to a weekend away in Milan (and of course I will be trying out all of those delicious Italian foods, it'd be rude not to!), a meal out at a restaurant for my 50th birthday and then not long after that it'll be Christmas but I'm not going to fret about it.  I'm going to enjoy these special occasions - after all, you're only 50 once! I'm not expecting to lose a whole lot of weight during December, but if I can maintain where I am now that would be a big success for me. 

The main thing to remember is that this is a long-term plan.  A couple of hiccups along the way is not the end of the world, in fact it's inevitable - just keep going.  No-one is going to change your weight for you with a magic wand, and you can wish as much as you like that you were a size 10/12/14 again but it won't happen until you decide to make that change. This has to be something you do for yourself.  

If you'd like to join in with the Challenge please leave a comment below and add your blog post to the linky below (please link back to me in your blog post too).  Set yourself a target for the week, and then let us know how you got on at the end of the week.  I'd love to hear about your efforts and successes, and other people can visit your blog to offer support to. 

Good luck! Hope you all had a good week. 








Monday, 15 November 2010

Guest Post: Rosie Scribble ~ Raising a Child Alone



When I first started blogging there were a few blogs that I read on a regular basis, and Rosie Scribble's was one of them.  Like me she is a single parent, and I still read her blog regularly because not only is she a very genuine person, but she writes from the heart.  So I was delighted when she agreed to write a post about being a single parent.  This is Rosie's story.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I’ve always been a single parent, from the very beginning. I went through a pregnancy alone, I gave birth with no family or friends present and afterwards I sat alone in a hospital corridor for several hours: shocked, alone and scared, with no idea what to do or how I could raise a child alone.

I wasn’t married, not even in a long-term relationship, and that proved too much for my strict Catholic parents. They walked away.

So I sat alone in a flat for nine months with no choice but to cope with all the stresses and anxieties pregnancy brings with no-one to share any of it with.

It is incredibly painful to think about, incredibly painful to write about. But the one thing I would want anyone in that dreadful situation to know is that you can do it, even when the odds are against you and you are left feeling like the loneliest person in the world, you can get through it, because I did.

Life since then has not been easy. Being a single parent is often exhausting, over-whelming and the weight of responsibility, with no-one there to help with the care or the decision-making, can feel huge at times. The early days felt traumatic and it took time to recover from those nine months of isolation.

It also took time for a mother-daughter bond to develop, but over time it did as I started to see all the positives of my situation and the little girl I now had in my life.

We’ve come a long way over the last seven years, the two of us. There have been some particularly difficult times as my daughter, nicknamed IJ, has become more aware that our family is different from the majority she sees around her.

Two loving, supportive parents have to be better than one, but IJ has had to accept that she only has me. That’s been hard. I’ve watched her grieve and that was heart-breaking, but she came through it and it has made us closer than ever.

We now have an incredibly tight bond and the pair of us could get through anything. IJ is wonderful, funny, loving and has incredible emotional insight. She is also happy and growing in confidence each day. I am exceptionally proud of her. She has made me who I am today.

Before I had a child I didn’t know how to love, how to nurture or how to mother. My daughter has taught me all that, and so much more. I am incredibly lucky to have her. "

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Kia Venga ~ A love story

 
The Kia Venga
One of the perks of writing this blog is that I get offered some very interesting opportunities, and recently I was asked by Kia Motors UK if I would like to test drive their new super-mini, the Kia Venga, for a week. I was quite looking forward to driving the car but I didn't expect to like it quite as much as I did.  So here, in place of a bog standard review of a car - a la Jeremy Clarkson - is an open letter to the Venga.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Venga,

I'll admit to being taken a little by surprise when we first met.  You were much better looking than I'd expected, very sporty actually, but even so I decided that instead of judging a book by its cover I'd find out what you were like on the inside - and I wasn't disappointed.

The first time you welcomed me inside I was immediately amazed by the visibility - I tried, but failed,  to find a driving blind-spot but it seemed like you had more windows than any other car I'd met, and from inside your side mirrors took on the appearance of Dumbo-sized ears.  Funny, they didn't seem that big on the outside!   And I loved the two sun roofs, they covered nearly the entire roof! 

And if that wasn't enough, I loved your Tardis-like interior - there was plenty of legroom and storage space, five seats and, best of all, your boot was big enough for our greyhound Tessie to sit in comfortably.  How thoughtful of you :-)

If I'm honest there was only one little niggle, and that was the fact that your dashboard wasn't digital - which is what I'm used to - but even that wasn't enough to come between us.  Everyone has their little foibles and compared to some cars I've known, yours were minor.

How could I help but fall in love with your stylish interior and your ability to go for so many miles without using much fuel?  I mean, after a week of us gallivanting around together your gauge had hardly moved at all - how do you do that? 

And don't even get me started on how much room there was in the boot when the back seats were folded right down!

Quite a few people asked about you during the time you were here.  They wanted to know more about you, how we'd met and so on.  I was more than happy to tell them about your muscular wheel-arches, your low emissions and your agility. 

I'll be honest, Venga, I was a little upset - hurt even - when you decided to leave.  I thought we were good together, and my daughters had grown to love you too, so when your driver Dave knocked on my door that day I wasn't prepared to let you go without a fight.

Can I just apologise for the unseemly scuffle with Dave when he tried to take you away, but my pleas for us to stay together seemed to fall on his deaf ears. And I didn't mean to run after you down the road as he drove away with you, but seeing you leave so quickly was so sad.  I felt like we were only just getting to know each other.

I think about you a lot, Venga.  We had some happy times didn't we? I hope to see you again one day.

Much love to you,
notSupermum xx

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Venga comes with Kia's standard 7-year warranty.  More details about this model and others in the Kia range are available on the Kia Motors UK website. If you see the Venga, tell it I said hello :-)

The Big Momma Challenge Week 19

I'm in shape. Round is a shape... isn't it?
~ Author Unknown


I'm sorry for the slight delay in posting - this weekend has been hectic as both of my daughters have been celebrating their birthdays (they were born 3 years and one day apart).

Okay, this has been a very odd week.  I had set myself a challenge to lose 7lbs before we go to Milan at the end of November, so I was completely focused on what I had to go to lose weight this week.  As I've mentioned before I weigh myself everyday - on Thursday morning I was on target for losing at least 1.5lbs - but when I weighed myself on Friday morning I had gained half a pound since last week! 

I have no excuses or idea how this happened - it's not 'that time of the month' etc.  I'm completely flummoxed on this occasion.

Oh well, onwards and upwards as they say. 

I hope everyone had a better week than me, let me know how it went.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Dear So and So...

Dear So and So...

Dear Mr Sissy Houseboy (your choice of name, not mine)
Thanks for contacting me via the dating website but I'm going to have to turn down your offer of a date. Even though my house looks like we've been burgled when we thankfully haven't, your choice of date where 'some sort of housework is involved' doesn't really do it for me.  I'll also pass on your offer of letting you clean my house whilst wearing a pinny. 
Thanks though - nice thought and all that :-)
From someone who is getting ready to delete her profile on the site.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear 3:30am
What is it about you that makes me wake up?  If I wake during the night and can't get back to sleep it's at 3:30am, every time.  It would be fascinating if I wasn't so completely knackered. 
Yours, the one with dark circles under her eyes

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear darling daughters,
I write this as you are both having birthday sleepovers, which is one of the pitfalls of having your birthdays one day apart.  Every year I think it'll be fine, yet every year I wonder why I even considered doing it.  What possessed me to allow 14 hormonal, giggling girls whose motto seems to be "why talk when you can shout" to stay overnight is beyond me.
I'm exhausted already and it's only 8:30pm.  And to my dear Teenager, if you ask me why I'm tired and 'what the big deal is about having a few friends over' again I will scream. Really loudly.
Your catatonic Mum xx 
p.s. Love you both loads xx

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Remembrance

image credit


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

~~~~~~~~~~~

In memory of my Great Uncle Danny, who died in the Battle of Jutland WWI

And my maternal Grandfather who served in Royal Navy and was killed during WWII

For my Dad, who lied about his age in order to join the Merchant Navy during WWII and gained the Italy Star and the Burma Star medals amongst others.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Teenager's Guide to replacing the toilet roll

Question ~ Do you know what this is?


Is it:  a) a toilet roll holder, or
 b) I dunno, why are you picking on me?

If you answered a) then you are clearly a parent.  If your answer was b) then you must be a TEENAGER!  If  so, the following information may be useful to you.



This is an empty - repeat EMPTY - toilet roll. This sort of thing happens when you use the last of the toilet roll. When this happens you must replace it.  How so? I hear you ask.  Well this guide will help you achieve this rite of passage.

Follow these steps very carefully:
  • search the vast caverns of the bathroom for the new toilet rolls. Clue:  they tend to hang around in groups;
  • with extreme care for your safety (wear safety goggles - or your old swimming goggles from the bathroom cupboard - if necessary) take one of the new rolls and proceed to the empty toilet roll holder;
  • carefully remove the empty cardboard inner, and place in a bin.  If you don't know what a 'bin' looks like, ask an adult for advice;
  • now, with a steady hand and watching out for any sharp edges,  hold the new roll to the right hand side of the toilet roll holder and slide it along until it sits on the holder.  For visual assistance please note the following:

This is wrong!


That's what it should look like!

If you have managed to get the toilet roll onto the holder without putting yourself in any danger, give yourself a well earned ten-minute lie down. Well done. You deserve it.  Clearly, your mother is "an evil slavedriver" but you will manage to keep her sane if you can follow simple instructions like these.  Thank you.

Next lesson: How to put dishes into the dishwasher.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Letters to Santa

Once again, the NSPCC are doing their Letters to Santa campaign, and as a longstanding supporter of this brilliant charity I'm more than happy to promote it.  This is what the NSPCC has to say about the campaign:

"Soon, excited children up and down the country will be waiting anxiously by their letterboxes; eagerly awaiting their Letters from Santa, courtesy of the NSPCC

The NSPCC has worked very closely with their representatives in the North Pole over the last few months, and Santa has decided to send personalised letters to every child on the ‘Letters from Santa’ list!

For a suggested donation of £5, a letter will be personalised and placed upon Santa’s sleigh for delivery over the Christmas period to a child (or big kid!) that’s special to you. Every pound is warmly received as it will help the NSPCC continue to provide help and support to vulnerable children.

Each Letter from Santa will make a significant difference to the lives of children - for example £20 donated could enable the NSPCC to answer another five calls to ChildLine.

Letters from Santa with the NSPCC are easy to order, so it couldn't be simpler to support the NSPCC this Christmas

So, please help to put smiles on the faces of the nation’s children this festive season, starting with a magical Letter from Santa himself!"

Sunday, 7 November 2010

My daughters dish out some home truths...


The truth hurts.  I know this because this week my darling daughters have said these little snippets to me.

At the dinner table today:
The Teenager: You're looking much better now Mum, you've lost a lot of weight.
Me: Aww, thanks
The Teenager: Yeah, you're much nicer now as well 'cause you used to be really moody all the time.
Me: Really?
Tall Daughter: Yeah, and grumpy....and always shouting.
Me: Oh.

Driving home from school with Tall Daughter.
Tall Daughter: How old do I have to be to learn to drive Mum?
Me: Well, you can take lessons when you're 17.
TD: Good, I really want to learn so that I can take you to bingo.
Me: What? Bingo?  I don't go to bingo.
TD: No, but you'll be old when I learn to drive, and that's what old people do.

Talking with the Teenager about clothes.
Me:  I saw a lovely dress today in TKMaxx, I'm not sure whether to go back and buy it.
Teenager:  What was it like?
Me:  It was black - not something you'd wear for work though, I thought it'd be nice for going out, it was that type of dress.
The Teenager: For going out? So you'd never wear it then?

Whatever happened to the good old days when children were seen but not heard?   Bring back national service, that's what I say - and what was wrong with sending children up chimneys?  Happy days. 

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Dear So and So...

I'm having a go at this after reading the Dear So-and-So letters of Pants with Names, who has directed me to the originator of the idea Three Bedroom Bungalow.

Dear Teenager,
Please use the allowance I give you each month to buy your own toiletries.  You keep using my shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream and razors and then denying it even though the evidence is usually found in your bedroom. If you buy your own it will save me from having to hide my toiletries around my bedroom to deter your light-fingeredness. And yes, that's a real word *ahem*.

Your hairy, unkempt Mum x
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Tessie,
Yes I think you are very cute but even I don't want to hear you howling in the middle of the night just because you want a doggy treat. Nor do I want to open the living room door for you at 4am, just so you can go and curl up in your favourite armchair.  Just stop it.
Thank you
Your very tired Mum 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Ex-husband,
thank you for calling to let me know you are being made redundant next month.  As pleased as I am to hear that you are looking for a new job, you don't need to call me nearly every day to update me on your progress.  Just let me know when you've got a new job. Oh, and keep sending the cheques.

Your Ex-Wife

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Chris Evans,
I don't like your radio show. I've  tried, believe me, but I just can't get past your juvenile, self-indulgent witterings and I can only stand 2 or 3 minutes of it before reaching for the off button.

From someone who misses the easy-going chat and music of Wogan

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Dear Brother,
Please stop sending me texts and emails asking me to do little jobs for you and then asking why I haven't done them within 30 minutes. I know you spend most of the year away at sea, but I have children, a busy job and a home to run and I don't remember agreeing to be your personal PA. I'll do them when I can, but you're not always at the top of my list.

Your exhausted older Sister

The Big Momma Challenge week 18!

Your body is the baggage you must carry through life. The more excess the baggage, the shorter the trip. ~ Arnold H. Glasgow

Week 18 and I've been a bad girl.  I gained  ¾lb this week, this is largely due to buying and eating some Bourbon Biscuits and their friends Custard Creams.  The biscuits were supposed to be for my daughters *cough* but guess who scoffed most of them?  Yeah, that'd be me then....

No excuses though - I gained weight because I overate. Simple as.

I haven't set myself any targets recently, so I'm going to rectify that right now.  As we go to Milan in 3 weeks my target is to lose 7lbs by then.  That will then bring me to a two stone weight loss which would be great.

How are you getting on with your lifestyle changes?  If, like me, you have gained weight this week don't let it put you off - this is a challenge, so we should expect some downs along with the ups.  Good luck for this week!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Alone again, naturally.

I heard this song on the radio this morning and it reminded me what a great singer/songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan is.  If you've never heard of him you must be a mere whippersnapper as he was very famous in the 70s.  Anyhow, it occurred to me when listening to this song  that if you can listen to these lyrics and not feel moved by them then you, my friend, have a heart of stone.  It's a fantastically sad song. Go on, have a listen - and let me know if you shed a tear.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

My new favourite past-time


At school today we had a visit from a two-man drumming group who originally hail from Senegal in West Africa.  All day long, no matter where we were in school we could hear the fantastic sound of 30+ children drumming and singing, and it was difficult to resist dancing along in the classroom.

Each class took turns to take part in a drumming session, and each child (and adult!)  had their own drum.  This is the second time the drummers have visited our school, and I've also taken part in a different drumming group once before, and I absolutely LOVE IT! 

There's something so exhilarating about drumming and dancing to African music, and as far as I'm concerned if you don't feel your body moving when listening to the rhythmic beat of those drums then you have no rhythm at all!  I'm seriously considering buying my own drum to use at home.

The children all had a fabulous time, and it's got to be one of the best ways of getting rid of any pent up stress - just going for it on the drums, and then dancing with abandon.  What a fantastic day.