Saturday 27 November 2010

The Versatile Blogger - c'est moi!

Jen kindly gave me this award, THANKS JEN! I have spent most of my blogging time this evening trying to work out how to add the button to my post. I have only managed to copy the picture. Anyone got time to tell me how on earth to add a button to a blog?
Anyhooo ... onto the conditions of the award.
1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
Jen, my lovely, supportive friend, thank you so much. I wish you lived just around the corner.
2. Share seven things about yourself.
  • I was a vegetarian for 22 years until I was about five months pregnant and then remember saying to Andrew, whilst walking around the supermarket, that I needed "roast chicken and NOW". I still eat good quality meat and feel better for it.
  • I am majorly clumsy and am always bumping into things and dropping things. I find this funny. Hubby not so much ...
  • I speak fluent German.
  • Kindness and empathy are hugely important to me both in myself and others.
  • I adore Brussels sprouts and once as a student ate a whole pound of them, steamed, with butter and black pepper. Just writing that makes me want to do it again.
  • I love to wear big, clumpy shoes. I just can't do heels but at 5'10", I figure I don't have to.
  • Music is a source of solace and inspiration to me and it can bring me down if it's the wrong music at the wrong time. If it's the right music I can conquer anything.
3. Pass the award onto twelve bloggers you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic.
OK, here we go, hold onto your knickers:
Amanda at FeltFinland
Hannah at HomeBaked
Mary Beth at Salt and Chocolate
Sarah at Green Clogs
Sarah at Blue Garter
Penny at A Sweet Grace
Nicole at Frontier Dreams
Calamity Jane at Apron Strings
Andrew at Big Swifty
I admit some of these blogs are not "new" to me but I do rely on these voices to inform and uplift me all the time.
I hope they add some new voices to your days too.

Friday 26 November 2010

Taking the D to Brum

We are just back from five days in Birmingham (nicknamed Brum for those of you unaware and confused by my cryptic title).
It was a first for all of us having never really got to know this lovely city before.
And it really is such a lovely, multi-cultural, friendly, lively city.
I really was so very impressed most especially at the fantastic, friendly service in all the cafes and restaurants. People spoke to me and engaged with Frank.
It is sadly not always the case elsewhere.
We had such a good time, stayed in an apartment in the Chinese Quarter and spent lots of time at the Frankfurt Christmas market that is there every year.
Andrew and I did what we call "divide and conquer", which involves us taking turns spending days or half days with Frank. It seems to work for us and then we get alone time in a coffee shop and a gallery or just mooching around.
Day one saw Frank and I at the Sealife Centre where his treat was this rather fetching shark on a stick! I try hard to get as many wooden and natural toys as I can but, c'mon, he's four and a half, sometimes a shark on a stick is just what is needed!!
At the market there was a cute little roundabout, which the boy had to ride three times and still kept chanting "Again, again, again, again" but at two quid a go we had to stop there.
At no point did he smile for me on this thing as he was so engrossed in driving that engine.

On our last day we went back to the BMAG (Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery) to show Frank the activities for children. We had both visited it on our alone days and want him to find some of the joy and beauty that we do in art.
Brimingham has the most amazing collection of art by the Pre-Raphaelites. Oh my, it was lovely.
It also boasts an Edwardian Tea Room, which is no bad thing ...
And then there was this amazing, just amazing, tactile, warm wooden puzzle of the Modigliani portrait above.

I loved this so much. Frank did it three times and had to be dragged away.

And then back home Frank and I had so enjoyed the pretzels we'd eaten we decided to make some of our own, leaving out the poaching them in water first (as I nearly set fire to the house last week making bagels and not remembering that a tea towel placed on the oven top next to an open flame WILL CATCH FIRE - I've lost a little poaching mojo).
And onto the BIG D.
We had such a varied time with it all with Frank's number being so bloody random that I sometimes wonder if it isn't all a great big social experiment. His fingers are increasingly reluctant to bleed and I loathe pricking him four or five times every meal time. It's so crap and whilst I am on forced-jolly-auto-pilot, there is a part of me still screaming that I hate it and it's not right or fair.
My poor beautiful, brave, brave boy.
I find that wearing.
One night I slept so little and was up four times in the night that when it got to my alone day I spent it in the art gallery and then
bought a DVD and some yummy hummous and salady bits and lay on the sofa half asleep for the afternoon. Oh, and some chocolate.
Is it bad to go all the way to Birmingham to lie on a sofa for a couple of hours?
I will be back tomorrow with my response to Jen's kind award (Thanks, lovely Jen!!) and seven things about me that you might not know.
You already know that I use the words "salady bits" ...

Friday 19 November 2010

Two Things To Make You Smile

First smile comes from our winner today of this priceless book (ahem).

Frank picked all the names from a cereal bowl this morning whilst I was pricking his finger so I am afraid I didn't get any photos but the lucky person is : Amanda from Felt Finland!!!!

Hooray for Amanda!

Can you e.mail me your address (I think you already have my e.mail address) and I will get your prize into the post next week.

The second smile is a humdinger, so brace yourselves, it's a bit of a story.
I am pleased that my hedgehog house and fuzzy bra have brought smiles to you all and add now this tale from yesterday evening:
Picture the scene of an English pub, let's call it The Fat Cat (for that is its name!), on a Thursday evening. It is busy with a youngish clientele, mostly late twenties and early thirties, good beer and great chunky wooden tables.
At one of the tables every two weeks or so I meet with a group of fabulous crafty and creative women and we sit knitting and sewing. Sometimes we have a brief like the knitted bras and sometimes we just get on with our individual projects. On any given evening a mixture of both is going on, such as yesterday evening.
So we women sit chatting, knitting and sewing and are joined by two guys wondering what we are up to. They are pleasant enough and trying to be charming but clearly have had a beer or two.
None of us are phased by this, we are there to be together and are happy to show people what we are doing if they show an interest.
So, after a few minutes of chat the first guy starts to ask what we are all doing. He is probably in his early to mid-thirties and is well-dressed and well-spoken and has a confident air about him.
So, around the table we go sharing our projects.
He has no idea what is about to hit him ...
Polly shows him the Waldorf doll she is making for her daughter. This evening she is weaving in the hair.
He admires it and moves onto me and Rosie.
We are both knitting; me a lacy scarf and Rosie a pullover for a doll for her little girl.
He asks "pertinent" questions about speed of knitting and whether I could knit a whole toilet in a week.
Then he moves on to Natasha and asks her what she is sewing.
"A vagina" she responds without missing a beat.
He blinks a couple of times and says "Sorry?" so she lifts her lovely silk and cotton work of art and shows it to him.
For the first time in half an hour of pleasant but tipsy rambling he is struck dumb.
Natasha explains that we are all going to contribute a piece of work for a huge quilt being pieced together in London to raise awareness of Female Genital Mutilation. He blinks a few more times and seems suddenly less tipsy.
Go figure.
Then he says he'd like to contribute in some way, even financially, to the work on FGM Awareness.
He heads off back to the bar leaving us all smiling about what he will think when he wakes up in the morning.
"I had the weirdest dream last night, mate. I dreamt I saw these women in the pub making vaginas! I must drink less."
He gave me my biggest smile of the week!
When a man walks unprepared into the Land of the Women who knows what might happen.
I wonder if he'll be there next week or if we've put him off popping out to his local for beer?!
I am taking a few days off from this screen. I love it so much I am not getting much else done. Back next Thursday with tales of cheeky monkey four year olds (Meri you were so right with your comment a week or so back about "dethroning the king") and German Christmas Markets.
Much love to all and a happy weekend!
Here is something to speed you on your way courtesy of Armstrong and Miller, two very fine performers.

Wednesday 17 November 2010


A good friend of mine is a homeopath and makes natural skin remedies.
She is a great inspiration to me in how she lives and works and has kindly given me the opportunity to sell some of my handmade, upcycled stuff at the Christmas Open Evenings in her home.
The first one was this evening and we spent the afternoon setting up. My little bits and bobs looked so lovely in her pretty home and I don't really mind if they sell or not, I am just so pleased to be putting my work out there.
I gave up teaching a year ago now to be at home caring for Frank, and have not regretted that for one moment.
However, I do miss making a little money for my family.
Maybe this is a way to do that?
Next stop an etsy shop, eh? (Joy and Peace bunting)

( Lavender hearts with vintage buttons and lavender dream pillows)

I will keep you posted about how it all goes.
Being creative in this way is healing me so much after the shock of Frank's diagnosis.
Who would have thought that some answers can lie in recycled materials and local lavender?!

Tuesday 16 November 2010


OK, so in tidying up my heaving bookshelves I found I had two copies of this cute book.
It would make a fun gift for someone over the festive season and so I offer to here today.
It's cute and stylish and full of great images and ideas for living more mindfully of our environment.
Just leave a comment by the end of Thursday this week and names will go in a hat for my random number generator (otherwise known as Frank) to pick one out.
I'll declare the winner Friday once I hit the computer.
Good Luck!
Thanks for you comments on the hedgehog house!
Frank and I went out there after supper this evening with a torch but couldn't see anything yet. Apparently during the Winter they snore loudly so we might get audible proof sometime soon!

Monday 15 November 2010


So, it's mid-November and many of you are slogging your way through a month of posting every day. My thoughts are with you a lot over this and I am in awe of anyone that can do it.
For a little light relief I offer you a perfectly formed example of English Whimsy!
Brace yourselves for ..... drum roll .....
THE HEDGEHOG HOUSE!!!! I kid you not. We had considered chickens for a long time but decided that a) as Frank is a bit scared of them at the moment and b) Mr Muffinmoon doesn't eat eggs that we might be better off with a hedgehog.
OK, so it won't help us with omelettes or cakes or even company but how seriously COOL is it to have a hedgehog house in your garden?

And it only cost us Mr Muffinmoon's time as he is a master at cobbling things together from bits of wood lying around. We figured the hedgehog wouldn't mind so much whether Martha Stewart had been in to decorate.

It sits awaiting an owner towards the back of the garden and in the shade of our neighbour's oak tree.
We have covered it in soil and leaves and hope to report back with evening sightings of our hedgehog.
Happy Hedgehog Monday to you all!

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Yummy Granola Goodness

So here it is, my favourite recipe for granola.
I don't like my granola too sweet and this one delivers on that.
I like lots of seeds but not really dried fruit in granola.
It delivers there too.
I always tend to follow this one to the letter but have used walnuts instead of the almonds when that was all I had in the house. I also have never had almond extract but just use vanilla alone.
I offer you the recipe as it is written in the book and will just mention that my favourite way of eating it is with stewed apples, natural yoghurt, granola on top and a drizzle of maple syrup. There's no better way of starting the day( aside from a great BG from Frank, that floats my boat too!).
Maple Butter Nut Granola

Makes 8 cups

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup each of sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon nut butter (I use almond butter as I have it in stock)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Pre-heat oven to 325F / 190C
In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients.
In a small pan melt the butter; add maple syrup and nut butter and stir to blend.
Remove from heat and add extracts.
Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and fold in.
Spread on a baking sheet and bake until dry and golden, turning the granola every 15 minutes or so. (I find it takes no more than 45 minutes as it can catch and be too "toasty" if left longer).
Allow to cool and store in an airtight jar.


I haven't worked out the carbs yet as Frank will happily help me make it but looks horrified at the prospect of having to actually eat it!


Thank you all so very much for your wonderful comments on my rambling post yesterday.
You are all fab.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

D-Blog Day - Six from muffinmoon

Having dried my eyes from reading everyone else's six things they'd like people to know I feel ready to add mine and I apologise to anyone, friends and family alike, for the language I might use.
What I'd like you to know about Frank's Diabetes:
1. I did nothing to bring it on, Andrew did nothing and Frank most certainly did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DESERVE THIS. (So, to the woman who asked me just over two years ago, Frank having been diagnosed barely two weeks before, "So, when did you stop breast feeding?" I now say "Oh, just f*@k off". At the time I blathered something about auto-immune issues).
2. Frank's diagnosis robbed me of a feeling that I could cope with anything. I now know I can't. I can deal with diabetes most days really well but can't be allowed to operate any heavy machinery anymore as I am too sleep deprived and carb-fixated. It steals your bounce and makes mortality a constant companion. I will never let Frank know how hard I still find it. He needs to be free to just be a child.
3. Frank can eat anything as long as it is measured and accounted for by me or Andrew. We let him eat and he eats well. Sugary sweets wouldn't have been much on the menu for him without diabetes and that hasn't changed. Please stop bemoaning in front of him how awful it must be for him that he can't have sweets.
4. Frank will not grow out of it nor will it get "easier". It is for life and it is chronic and it is different every bloody day. Sympathise and try to empathise. It is hard and having people look me in the eye and really see me is important. Don't fob me off with insincerity.
5. Parents of a diabetic child often feel judged by others for whom Type 2 diabetes is much more understood. Type 1 is not the same. Insulin is vital to keep Frank alive. He developed diabetes when he was just two years old and had not lead a debauched life!
6. Having a child with diabetes makes everyday life an intense experience. The highs are very high and the lows plain awful. But it makes you realise your strength. You find that you are after all made of gritty stuff.
And a quick number seven:
Do not piss off a parent of a Type 1 child. They are sleep-deprived, insulin wielding bundles of emotion and have enough drugs on them to fell a horse.
Be nice!
(It is late here in England and I have only just come to my computer and found it is Diabetes Blog Day. I couldn't not post, this stuff means too much, though I fear I may have rambled on weirdly.
Tomorrow I will post the granola recipe but for tonight I want to send a big cyber hug to all you D-parents and I want you to know how much you mean to me, how much you help me and how if I ever come to your town I will be looking you up and calling in for a face to face chat and a real hug in place of that cyber one. )

Saturday 6 November 2010

Our week

A photo-heavy post of our week.
This is my transparent attempt to appease you all as I have had such a busy week that I haven't posted.
And most of you are posting EVERY DAY.
So, I unashamedly offer photos of my pretty little boy in lieu of actual writing.
Ahem ...
This was our week: walnut boats on a rainy afternoon balance biking in Castle park

feeding the ducks

making granola (again, as Mama has a granola habit)

being eaten by sofa cushions and calling "Mum, take my photo! The sofa is eating me!"

making gingerbread men, some with raisins in the most painful places
I am building up to a giveaway and some recipes soon.
Happy Weekend to you all!