Plans and optimism

Thank you all for letting me be so self-indulgent here recently. I’ve been alternating between miserable and happy like a weathervane in a buffetting storm, and it must be quite hard for some of you to keep up. Today alone I’ve veered at least three times!

However, I’ve come to an important conclusion. January and February are stupid months to try to change my eating habits, and so I’m postponing my conscious dieting until March. I shall keep on trying to exercise more, and I’ll think more about what I eat, trying to get more fruit and veg into my diet, but I’m not calorie counting or anything until March.

I’ve decided that the fewer things I have to stress about in my life the better. There are several things which I can’t do anything about, but those that I can, I will. And dieting is one of those.

Speaking of exercise, did I mention that I went on a (for me) long walk at the weekend? I’m hoping to have another long walk this weekend, so long as the weather isn’t filthy. Eventually I’ll build up to jogging, but one step at a time. Perhaps that’s something else I’ll get to in March!

January though, is just for me. And spring cleaning. I made a good start today, and with my three free days next week I’ll press on some more. February will be a planning month, I think, easing myself into productivity, then hopefully by March I’ll be back in full flow.

Also, by the end of March my sister-in-law will be half way through her pregnancy, and then I will be thinking about crafting for my new niece or nephew!

Plans for the weekend? A little exercise, some visiting relatives and croissants for breakfast – sounds good to me!

An appeal for Motherly Solidarity

I need some support from my sister Mummies out there. You know who you are, the ones who have so many things to remember that you routinely forget everything!

Daddies don’t seem to have these problems. In my experience, daddies seem to be able to focus on one thing at a time, even with screaming children around. I don’t have that ability to screen all but one thing out, so I’m regularly multi-tasking and¬†multi-thinking. Now this is not always a bad thing. I can, for example, knit, follow a conversation (or ten!) on Twitter, watch the television and mediate an argument between my children, all at the same time. But oftentimes (I love that Americanism!) I will forget seemingly basic and sometimes important things in sorting through the maelstrom which is my mind.

We all know (and love, hopefully!) ladies who forget to eat lunch when they’re so caught up with everything else there is to do. We’ve all experienced that feeling of dashing off to the post office/bank¬† etc only to discover on arriving that we’ve left the parcel/bank book etc at home. And we’ve all brushed our teeth or washed our face or shampooed our hair twice because we can’t remember doing it the first time.

(I really hope I’m not alone in this, otherwise I may have serious problems which need addressing!)

This afternoon was a case in point, and one which made me rush to my laptop to record it before the extraordinary and mundane of my everyday life wipes it from my recollection for ever. I had a lovely, lazy morning, knitting and catching up on my tv programmes on my laptop. I headed off for a shower after sitting on my bed for the longest time (bliss!), but with a hundred and one things whizzing through my brain. I’m a typical gemini with a butterfly brain which doesn’t help much either. Anyway, after shampooing my hair (whilst thinking about dyeing yarn, shopping for some sensible clothes, cleaning the bathroom, washing the windows, Christmas, knitting patterns and ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ – I think fast!) I found myself staring at the shampoo with no clear recollection as to whether I’d actually used it already. On replaying the couple of minutes just passed, I decided that I was fairly definite I had shampooed, so I moved on to conditioner. Which passed uneventfully. Body wash was, however, another case entirely. I’d just started to squeeze the bottle into my hand when Handsome started his scales. I was paying so much attention to whether he was in tune that it was only when the suds started dripping down the side of my face I realised that I was shampooing my hair again…with the Oil of Olay Moisturising Body Wash. So of course I had to condition my hair again (I have the cleanest and softest hair in Cardiff now, by the way). Then, after shaving one leg I felt the need to dash off and make a quick comment to Handsome about his violin playing. It was only when I was finishing drying and thinking about what I should wear that it occurred to me that I’d not shaved the other leg!

All in all, not a good afternoon for the purposes of convincing me that I am compos mentis. I plan on a quiet time for the remainder of the day, including a leisurely trip to Marks and Spencers for the aforementioned sensible clothes, some more knitting and possibly a little time lying down in a darkened room.

I’m going to pay for this later…

Can’t sleep. There are too many thoughts whistling round my brain, and, being rather like Winnie the Pooh in this respect, I seem to have severely limited capacity for thoughts at the moment. Probably not aided by the lack of sleep, but there we go.

So, do I now, having been awake since before 4am, have an easy, relaxing day and hope that I don’t wear myself out still further, or do I aim for ultimate productivity in the hopes that I’ll sleep well with the knowledge of several good jobs done?

Optimistically, I’m aiming for the latter. I think I’ll write a list, and see how many of the things I’d dearly love to get done I can then cross off. Realistically, I can see myself crashing by lunchtime! What’s a girl to do?! Other than wish for superhuman powers!

Yesterday was not a good day. Which would have aided the insomnia. The part where I spent time with my parents was lovely, and Dad’s doing some excellent work as a huge favour to me which I hope to share with you soon! But then after lunch I had another appointment with my rheumatology consultant about the recurring problems in my hands and arms. I waited an hour and a half to see him, only to be told that he’s basically out of ideas and won’t be investigating the source of the problem any more. And that I should go to my GP, once my consultant has written to him, to discuss pain management. Oh, and apparently a simple letter from one side of Cardiff to the other could take several weeks to arrive. Funny that, when all my consultant wants to say is “hey, I’m done, passing the buck to you as I have easier cases to treat” (not that I’m at all annoyed!). So, I think I might just mosey on down to the GP sooner rather than later and ask to be referred to a neurologist, given that every HCP for the past eleven months has told me that this is obviously a problem in my nerves.

Anyway, this did not add to my good humour. As a result, I wasted most of my evening in procrastination on the internet rather than in actual achievement, which is probably a good part of the reason that I couldn’t sleep. As well as the fact that I procrastinated until way nearer midnight than I should have done. So, my brain was so wired from¬†leaping from one webpage to another that the four hours sleep I did get were very fractured. Thank God I don’t have to drive anywhere today!

So tired!

I’m really looking forward to next year, at some point during which I am DETERMINED to go on a holiday which involves no shopping, cooking or cleaning, and lots of idleness, lolling about and doing very little (in between sumptuous meals prepared by someone other than myself or GG).

This summer seems to have been very tiring. OK, it took a fair bit of work to get the flat ready to put on the market, but that’s about all I’ve been busy with. Since Thursday evening, I’ve had about one evening’s worth of work to do to finish a scarf which I’m desperate to finish so that I can begin another pattern that’s fermenting in my brain, but I just can’t summon the energy. I’m a quarter of the way through that one evening’s worth of work, but it’s taken me three days! I’ve made some jam, visited family, been on an underwear shopping mercy mission with a good friend and looked for new houses on the internet, and now I’m all exhausted again!

Still, I’ve nothing left to do for the evening. Three hours or so until bedtime. I’m thinking that a few episodes of Bones would be a very good idea, and a couple of solid hours on the scarf should see me very much nearer to the end of it than I am now. I’m just longing to show it to you!

Ho hum, I’ll not get anywhere by staying here, so I’ll be offski!


Long time…

Oh my goodness, it has been nearly three months since I last posted. I am still alive, and still have all of my fingers and (most of) my mental faculties.

Life seems to have been very busy! The summer term passed me by in a flash, and all of a sudden my children are home for seven weeks. There was actual real live sunshine, and so I cut back on my internet time in order to get out in it! And I’ve been doing a lot of crafting, most of it knitting.

Most significantly (in my life, at least), we’ve finally managed to get our flat on the market, and are now keeping our fingers crossed that someone else will come along and love it as much as we did nine and a half years ago when we put our offer in to buy it! I’ve got a list of potential houses to buy, and so if and when we get an offer on the flat, we are ready to leap into action and organise viewings straight away!

I hope to find time to be back in touch with you all a little more now. The medical problem with my hands hasn’t gone away, I’m just trying to manage it in such a way that I actually get to type a little more. And, thank God I can still knit! So I can keep myself very busy with that in between brief spurts of typing!

I hope you’re all well, and enjoying summer (or winter, if you’re the wrong way round!).

Signing off, for now.

A stalwart defender

This short story was inspired by something I see every day, most times that I leave the house in daylight.

I should introduce myself. I am¬†reasonably tall, dark and (according to my wife!) handsome. My wife and I have been together for a couple of years now, and we live in a small place in the suburbs of the big city. It’s not much, but it was a self-build project (I’m handy like that) and the wife has made it cosy and inviting inside. I always look forward to getting home at the end of a long day. Up with the lark, that’s me, and then out for most of the day. You know, the original ‘hunter-gatherer’ type, working hard all day to provide for the family. It feels like I’m on the go all day, just trying to keep the family fed, although of course my wife does her bit as well. She’s a bit tied up at the moment –¬†we’re¬†expecting additions to the family, you see, so she’s home more often than not now. I’m definitely a family man, and I’d do anything to protect the clan, and the home. And that’s what led me to tell you a little of our story.

Our home is cheek by jowl with this block of flats. The people who live there are quiet though, and don’t bother us. Actually, they have helped us out in the past when times have been a bit hard, by giving us food fairly regularly. We’re really grateful for that, it’s helped us get through many a fallow time.¬†Everything was fine until a few months ago. I was out and about, conducting my normal daily business (as you do) when I noticed this fellow in one of the flats giving me the evil eye. I thought I’d have a second look, and would you know it! As I went nearer, he came right at me! I backed off and thought about this for a bit (whilst keeping the flat in sight – it was a bit near to home to be letting him completely out of my sight). I decided to go up to the window, quietly, and see if he was still around. Maybe I’d been mistaken. I might have imagined it. You know how it is when you have a million other things on your mind, especially with a new arrival expected any day. I slid past the flat, and there he was! Mirroring my movements, from the inside of the flat, it really shook me. I didn’t want to tell the wife, as she has enough on her plate, but I really needed to sort this bloke out. He looked a bit like me – a decent size, and dark too, but¬†far more sinister if truth be told.

I couldn’t have this bloke, whoever he was, threatening the wife and family home, so I decided my only option was to pluck up the courage and chase him off. It might turn a bit nasty, I thought, but if he was like most of the other bullies I’ve come across, he’d be scared off pretty quickly. So I stood still for a bit, the flat in my sights and talked the talk to myself. Then, I flew at the place I’d seen this threatening looking bloke, and gave him my best shot. But blow me, he came straight back at me and hit me just as I threw one at him. Again and again I gave it to him, and each time he retaliated at the exact same moment. I kept it up for a while, but after a bit my head was hurting, my muscles were tired and, if I’m honest, my ego was bruised. I limped away, vowing that I’d be back and I’d beat him next time.

I’ve been back every day since then, and every day we’ve been even. Out of the corner of my eye I notice that he retreats at the exact same time I do, and when I’m a little distance away from the flats I can’t even see him. But he is always there when I arrive. I can’t worry the wife, this is a man’s work and though I might not be the brightest bulb in the box, I’m damned if I will give up my responsibility for protecting me and mine. It’s a tiring situation, but I’m determined not to give in, so I’ll be back. And I’ll keep going back every day until that big, smug, vicious thing leaves for good.

I forgot, I didn’t tell you my name. How rude of me. I’m Mr Crow, and the wife and I live in the birch tree by this block of flats. Third nest from the top left. But I’d appreciate it if you’d wait a while before visiting, or at least give us some notice, as we’re expecting the chicks to hatch any day now.

Oriental pork with rice

I slow roasted a pork joint at the weekend, and it positively fell apart afterwards – I mean it – I literally carved it with a spoon! Anyway, when I had the pile of shredded pork in front of me, it reminded me so much of¬† shredded duck at the Chinese restaurant (to look at) that I decided that I should make a Chinese-y meal with it. I wasn’t in the mood for a roast dinner anyway, so this was ideal. (If anyone wants to know how I roasted the pork joint to produce this result, drop me a comment and I’ll post the recipe another day).

Oriental Pork


  • Roast pork, shredded
  • One onion, finely sliced
  • Garlic (puree or 1 crushed clove)
  • Chilli powder
  • One chicken stock cube, crumbled
  • Dried herbs (I used mixed dried herbs with an additional sprinkling of sage)
  • Chinese 5 spice (you’d find it in the same supermarket display as the other herbs and spices, probably near the barbeque rubs and meat marinade spices
  • Red or yellow capsicum pepper, finely sliced
  • One 400g tin of chopped tomatoes


  • Fry the pork and onions in a very little amount of oil, or a couple of sprays of spray oil (the pork should be fried as the fat in the meat will have made it a little greasy, and this seals the flavour in well). Once the onions are softened, add the garlic and fry until the pork is sealed (it will look dryer).
  • Mix in¬†the chilli powder, stock cube, herbs and chinese five spice one by one, stirring well to coat the meat and sliced onions.
  • Add the sliced pepper, and then after a good stir add the tinned tomatoes (you might need a tin and a half/two tins depending on how many portions you are making, so that the sauce remains liquidy). Simmer on a very low heat so that the sauce doesn’t dry out whilst you are cooking rice, noodles or mashed potato, season to taste and serve.

Pinch, punch, first of the month, no return!

How did that rhyme start? Was it just a way to make people remember that the month had changed?? In which case, someone needs to give me a substantial injury on the first day of a new year, as I regularly write the old year on letters and cheques for months into a new year!

Anyway, I just wanted to come online and say hooray! and hurrah! In a very visually metaphorically way, I woke up this morning to a glorious blue sky and warm sunshine! It really feels like a turning point between the oh so long winter and the coming spring. I’m so…lifted up by such a nice start to the month. I know that there’ll probably be more wet, cold and windy days to come before we properly get into spring, but at least I can feel it coming now!

Huge earthquake in Chile and Pacific tsunami risk

I switched the news on this morning to see that a massive earthquake of 8.8 magnitude¬†hit Chile earlier today. So far¬†sixty four¬†people are confirmed to have died, but I’d imagine this number will grow as communications are restored in the coming hours and days. There are tsunami fears across the pacific region, so eyes will be anxiously watching the coasts for a while. There is also the worry of possible aftershocks which I suppose would further damage already unstable buildings.

It feels like these natural disasters are getting more frequent. Maybe it’s just that, as an adult I take more notice or remember more of these events. But it really seems that every few weeks or months¬†there’s something else happening in the world which is causing huge distress and loss of life.

As much as we complain about the weather here in Britain, it almost feels like we have a trade off in that we don’t have the reliable summers or settled winters, but neither do we suffer the unpredictability of seismic activity through earthquakes or volcanoes. Compared to many other parts of the world, we don’t have the drastically severe weather events such as the hurricanes, downpours of rain causing landslides and flooding on a nationwide scale, or drought. Yes, we’ve had a few serious floods over the past few years, but there we are lucky that we are rich enough as a nation to recover from them. In Britain we don’t suffer the sort of huge calamities which rob people of their homes and the capacity to rebuild their lives thereafter, and for that I am profoundly thankful.¬†I only hope and pray that the people in Chile will be spared great loss of life, and that a recovery from this event can be effected quickly.

A little bit of nothing

Today has been a bitty sort of a day. I had a dental appointment this morning which upset my normal routine so I’ve not really settled to anything productive since.

That dental appointment was extremely irritating, unfortunately. After some…not great dental work done in my teens, I had to have two bridges fitted in my twenties. A little while ago, one of the bridges came out, and over the last few days the other one hasn’t felt too secure. So I took myself to the dentist, am now set to have a few more visits and a bill of ¬£177 at the end of it all! Ouch! Isn’t it always the way, just when you think you’re getting on your feet financially, some other expense comes along to upset the apple cart. Plus, my washing machine has been playing silly whatsits recently, so I’m really hoping that it won’t pack up completely any time soon!

I’m giving my friend her Shawl of Happiness this evening, and I’m hoping she’ll be happy with it. I’ll also give her her bonus present that I made, and then I will show you what that was tomorrow. I’ve shown both the shawl and the other thing to my friends at knitting group and to my parents, and I had a most gratifying response!

Handsome’s jumper is nearly done. I’ve just got to sew the pieces together and knit the collar, do a little bit of embellishing and hopefully it’ll be done by the time I go to bed tomorrow! Then I think I’ll move on to something for me. I have a poncho on the needles, so I’ll do a few days on that, then I want to knit an Ishbel shawl with my Araucania Multy yarn from Machelle¬†(to clear room in my stash so that I can buy some of her yummy cashmere and cashmere/wool blend laceweight yarns!). After that, I think it’ll be another jumper for me, although I don’t know which pattern yet. I’ve narrowed it down to about five!

I’ve been thinking about Kadeea’s Apple and Cinnamon cake constantly, since she posted about it on Wednesday. I guess that this is what Lent is all about, it’s not supposed to be easy, but I really am looking forward to getting my baking things out again in April! However, given that I’ve got two birthday cakes to make in April (my darling sons have their birthdays only seventeen days apart!) by May I’m sure I’ll be sick of the sight of cake batter!

Another thing (or lots of things) I’ve been thinking about are Ellie‘s stitch markers. Ellie (who I met in my Thursday night knitting group) and I seem to have quite a lot in common, including liking all the same sorts of crafts. She, however, is much more talented than I with her crafting, especially her beadwork, and has an Etsy shop where she sells, amongst other things, her own designs of jewellery and sets of beaded stitch markers. Having seen so many really boring plain plastic stitch markers in use, it’s lovely to see such pretty ones available from her. I’m sure¬†they would make any knitting project more interesting! I’ll ask her permission to post a couple of pictures of them, as I have my definite favourites! (Oh, and it pays me to be nice to her as she often gives me a lift to and from the knit meetups!)