Wednesday, 25 December 2013

It's Christmasss!

Merry Christmas to one and all!

From the land of the dead or incredibly pale... and from the crazed cats.
It's time for a bit of festive cheer so enjoy yourself it's nearly the end of the year!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

It's the end! Of this year's NaNoWriMo attempt that is...

After a few weeks of crawling along tapping out a few hundred words at the occasional stolen moment on a couple of half formed and part baked novel ideas I've decided to call it a day on my NaNoWriMo attempts for 2013.

I've decided to take the opinion that any words written this month are wins considering the tiny amount I managed to write in the last three or four months prior to this one.  Ok, it's difficult if not impossible to write with a newborn but I thought that after a few months things might get easier but it seems that I'm not quite organised enough to crack the writing regularly thing just yet.

So for now I'm going to have to write 2013 off as my least productive NaNoWriMo attempt so far but there will be other years and who knows maybe in the future I'll be able to persuade my son to write his own novel with me.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Not now NaNoWriMo.

I've only managed to crawl forwards a few hundred words from where I was the other day, so it seems like the momentum of my new story has proved short lived.

After reviewing my record over the last few weeks it doesn't look like I'll manage to write anything significant over the remainder of the month if I keep up my current form and to be honest it's hard enough just keeping my head above water at the moment.

I had thought that it wouldn't be too hard to write with a baby but I feel rude if I contemplate writing whilst my son is awake and when he's asleep I need to sleep myself, do housework or just relax from trying to stop the crying! (Ok, he doesn't cry all the time but when he does it's emotionally draining...)

 I've decided that I'll see what I can do over the next week and then make my mind up about whether I'm continuing with NaNoWriMo or not. Nearly everyone else I know who does NaNoWriMo as well as a full time job have given up so I wouldn't be in bad company if I did but part of me wants to carry on and have something to do other than housework and cat/child wrangling.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Yet another NaNoWriMo update.

So I decided to bite the bullet and put my previous story on hold and start the other one which has been plaguing my mind. It kept interrupting my train of thoughts then butting in when I wanted to write the other one.

I don't think either story is great but I'm feeling a bit better now I've encapsulated the start of my other story in a file.

As I'm finding it hard to write anything due to time, energy and Paul stealing my laptop in the evenings to play Minecraft I'm counting the extra thousand words this has given me.  For all I know the two stories could merge into one at some point.

Ok, it's not likely but some words written are better than having no words written!

I'm still woefully behind and think that it would take some kind of miracle for me to catch up to where my word count should be this year let alone win NaNoWriMo. Then again no one would ever get anywhere if they had that attitude all the time would they?  Wish me luck! I'll need it going forward.

Monday, 11 November 2013

NaNoWriMo the saga continues...

So despite it being slow going I've decided to carry on plugging away at this prose based challenge and keep trying to hammer a few words out as I sit next to the Moses basket and my son sleeps.

Unfortunately the young do not have all that predictable or useful sleep patterns. At least my son doesn't seem to! I have to be prepared for one of his few 15 minute naps and then leap upon the opportunity. Squandering it by making a drink will doom the writing session to the likelihood of the child awakening and demanding sustenance or the onset of the procrastination ogre.

So progress has been made, about 800 words which isn't bad considering but it's not going to help me meet any sort of deadlines I may have had. I am starting to think about giving up this year as a bad job.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Further tales of woe from the NaNoWriMo front line.

So after my blog post the other day I've had a bit of a word with myself and tried a bit harder to hammer some words out.

I've found that it helped to remove some of the word count pressure from myself and am now starting to approach the 2,000 word mark.  Sometimes you have to remind yourself that if you haven't written for a while you will be rusty and anything you get down is better than nothing.

Now if only I could convince myself of that then I'd be laughing!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Carnation tin Chocolate Fudge recipe.

I was going through my cupboard looking for something to eat and I saw a recipe on the side of a tin of Carnation Condensed Milk.  Obviously it seemed like a brilliant idea to make some Chocolate Fudge and not at all like procrastination from my novel....

...suffice to say it was very tasty.  (The baby was annoyed with me for baking mind.)

If you would also like to make this fudge the recipe can be found here. 

You can also you make this recipe using supermarket own brand condensed milk if you wish to boycott Nestle or save a few pennies on your budget. (I made a second batch with ASDA chocolate and condensed milk which also tasted good.) I ended up giving most of this fudge away for Christmas, the bits that didn't disappear down my gullet that is. Heh heh heh!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Another NaNoWriMo update.

So another few days have elapsed and I've only just managed to crawl forward a few hundred more words so I've finally passed 1,000 words but am way behind my 11,667 word target at this point .

I'm not sure if this is more to do with the fact that I'm not keen on the story I'm writing or because I have no sort of peer pressure to keep me moving forwards.  In previous years I've posted about my writing on Facebook and updated my status on a daily basis about my word count but this year I haven't done that. (More fool me!)

To be honest it doesn't help that whenever Dylan's asleep I feel like sleeping myself and half the time I do because my night time sleep is so fractured at the moment. Maybe I ought to revise my word count target to 25,000 words... or less!

Monday, 4 November 2013

NaNoWriMo update.

So it's taken me a while but I've finally got around to starting one of my novel ideas.

It's very slow going as I have to wait until the baby is asleep before writing but I'm making more progress than I did last month even if I am miles behind where I was this time last year.

I just need to remind myself that this year isn't the same as last year I can't get up early to write before work or write on lunch breaks,  scribble ideas down on the bus and get my head down to do some serious writing in the evenings as there is no time before work anymore or travelling to work let alone free time in the evenings!

I've looked on a forum for people writing with babies and some people are doing amazingly which makes me feel a bit lazy but thankfully there are a few other parents on there in the same boat as me.

I'm still hoping that I'll be able to catch up to where I need to be but as I've only written 812 words and I should have written 6,667 to hit my 50,000 word target by the end of the month it looks unlikely.

Friday, 1 November 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013.

For the last two Novembers I've challenged myself to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where I neglect housework, stave off watching much TV, ignore Paul and the cats to attempt to write 50,000 words in a month.

This year I didn't think I was going to do NaNoWriMo after finding out about my changed circumstances and failing to write a short story in June but I've been talked around and am currently trying to work out a story idea to launch into.

Obviously this will be hard work finding time and energy around breastfeeding a baby but what is life without challenges?

Wish me luck I think that I'm going to need it!

Monday, 14 October 2013

George and Mary's tomato chutney recipe.

This year has been the first year ever that me and Paul have successfully grown tomatoes.  Maybe this is because we got our tomato plant from Paul's Grandad George or maybe this is because we weren't too invested in whether they produced tomatoes or not.  We're not sure but the fact of the matter is they grew.

They grew large enough to produce tomatoes, lots of them...

The biggest problem was the fact that we had lots of tomatoes which were mainly green and not ripening very fast.  We didn't know what to do with them, then we had a brain wave we'd ask Paul's Grandad George and Nannan Mary if they had a recipe and thankfully they did. So they passed on his recipe for Green Tomato Chutney to us which we decided to try.

To make Green Tomato Chutney you need the following ingredients:

5lb Green Tomatoes
1lb Onions
1/2oz Peppercorns
1oz Salt
1lb Sugar
2 pints Vinegar
1/2lb Raisins
1/2lb Sultanas

The instructions advise to slice the tomatoes and chop the onions and mix together in a basin with the peppercorns and salt. Allow this to stand overnight

Next day boil up the sugar in the vinegar, then add the raisins (which may be chopped) and the sultanas.

Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes and onions, and simmer until thick.

So when we followed this recipe with some slight variations such as we used a could of red tomatoes as well as many green tomatoes to make 5lb weight. We also left the tomatoes and onions to stand for a few days instead of overnight, the only other thing that we did differently was to use mixed fruit as this was the only thing available in the local shop.  (Unfortunately this meant that  we had to pick out the candied peel which I don't recommend as this is really time consuming.)

The rest of the recipe we followed as instructed and the resulting chutney is very nice; however, the vinegar boiling stage smells like sick and I kind of burnt the pot I made this in... Still it made 3 generous jars full of chutney which helped stop us from wasting the tomatoes and I may one day scrape the burntness from the bottom of that pot. (In a million years probably.)

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The alien has escaped! (Aka - the baby's been born.)

As you may have noticed I've been pregnant for a while now and this has meant that I've been busy making preparations for my new arrival.Unfortunately this has left me with less time and energy for blogging...

My due date was the 24th September which felt like ages away but at two minutes past seven today I gave birth (with the help of Paul, midwives, a doctor and a plunger) to a healthy baby boy! As you'd expect I'm tired, and sore but happy. 

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Recent events!

You may have noticed a slight lull in my blog writing recently and this is mainly due to the third trimester of my pregnancy catching up with me.  It turns out being gianormous is challenging for a clumsy person, tiring and downright uncomfortable. (The less said about that the better!)

So recently I took a week and a bit off work to start preparing for my new arrival, this involved sorting out some of my impending arrival's things.
It also included tending to the tomatoes in my garden.
As well as going on a road trip over to Jodrell Bank to see Sigur Ros with Paul.

Today has also been my last day at work this year before a few more days holiday and the commencement of my maternity leave.  It felt like it would be ages before the Sigur Ros gig and leaving work to have my baby at the start of the year and now it's all come to fruition.  Where has the time gone?

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

More maternity dresses...

Whilst sorting shopping for my impending new arrival my Step Mum stumbled upon this rather nice navy blue and white heart shaped polkadot dress and decided to treat me.
It's very cute and fits well so obviously I'm pleased with it and hope to put up a picture of me wearing it soon! Here is the Red Herring Maternity dress I got from Paul's sister for my birthday which is lovely, light and lose perfect for sweltering summer days!

This is the Red Herring Maternity Dress my Mum bought for my birthday.
This is a bit smaller and has a lining so it's nicer on warm but not roasting days, it makes me feel a bit like a 50s lady in a stylish rather than oppressed sort of way.

These dresses along with the ones in my previous posts and a few loose fitting/ larger pre-pregancy dresses have been my wardrobe for the past month and a half as I try not to burst into flames at the mearest glimpse of sunshine!  I hope this was worth the nosey!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Midsummer maternity wear.

I follow a few different blogs and my reading tastes could be considered a tad eccentric as I enjoy food blogs, art blogs and lifestyle blogs.  Recently I've enjoyed a few posts about summer clothes, this one from Domestic Sluttery is lovely.

However, considering my current ever expanding planet likeness all the featured dresses would be a bit impractical.  Thankfully I've been lucky enough to find and in a couple of cases been given maternity dresses to stop me from melting in jeans or looking absolutely blimp like in my pre-pregancy wardrobe. (Although I am still wearing a select few items from this...)  My first maternity dress came from a company called Dotty Miss which is run by a friend of mine.
It's a lovely vintage style dress in a size 14 with a pretty pattern on and pockets on the sides.  Technically it hasn't been designed as a maternity dress but it has the room for me to carry on growing into it for the rest of the summer.

Sadly, for public decency/ hygiene reasons I couldn't just wear this dress all summer so I relented and bought myself a maternity dress from H&M for my recent jaunt around London and for dancing in.  I tried on a red dress as I normally love red but the block of colour didn't really do anything for me, then I tried this nice blue and white patterned dress that reminded me of china tea cups.
MAMA Dress

MAMA Dress - from H&M
This is me in the dress at How Does it Feel to be Loved.

The picture is courtesy of my friend Heather and obviously I made a few different hairstyle, make up, pose and accessory decisions to the model above.  It's a nice dress though and perfect for a summers day or an evening dancing.  

I've also been lucky enough to get a nice new maternity dress from Paul's sister Gemma for my birthday, which I wore on the day when I went for afternoon tea with my Mum. We then went shopping and my Mum bought me another lovely dress from the Red Herring maternity range in Debenhams Last time I looked in Debenhams there were hardly any maternity dresses and most were navy blue which wasn't what I wanted; however, this time there was a selection.  I tried on 3 dresses in the end although about 5 caught my eye and I took home the one that suited me best.  The moral of this story? Don't over look somewhere if it doesn't have something you fancy the first time you go in it might surprise you in the future! (I'll be popping pictures of these dresses up as soon as I get Paul to take a picture of me in them as they don't appear to be on the website...)

I hope this helps some other people in my boat looking for something nice to wear whilst no longer having a waist this summer.  There are still clothes out there for us! Sadly there aren't many but we won't be wearing maternity clothes forever so we just need a few things to wear in the sun/ imaginary heat that we feel when everyone else is freezing and the skies are overcast.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Tea based exploration.

When I was out and about the other month I picked up a leaflet for a Yorkshire Tea Trail and as I'm partial to a nice cup of tea I put the leaflet in my bag for further inspection. 

On looking at the trail it became apparent there were a lot of places that I hadn't been for a cuppa but also that Sheffield and Huddersfield were completely overlooked.

I think it would be a fun challenge to take on this tea trail but I also think that it may be necessary to create my own tea trail for nice places to have a cuppa in Yorkshire and Derbyshire which haven't made the list. Anyone have any suggestions about where I should start?

Friday, 31 May 2013

One whole month!

So I started off this month with the aim of writing one blog post every day for a month and whilst I knew that it would be a challenge I launched into it anyway. It turned out that even with all the topics already road planned out for the month that this was a difficult thing to do.  I had technology problems, trouble thinking what to write for some of the topics and in the end will power problems.

Sadly in the end I didn't manage to hit my goal of writing 31 blog posts this May as the will to write them dwindled mid month and I became unable to keep up by the end of the month.  Despite being unable to complete the challenge I'm not writing the month off as an utter failure as I did learn some important lessons!  The first one is that it's ok to write about topics that are outside of your comfort zone every so often or are a bit different to what you'd normally blog about.  While I'm not sure I'd have ever blogged about my morning commute, my first job, a day in my life, advice I'd give my 13 year old self or what's in my fridge normally I now know what I'd put and that these are not topics I want to return to in the future.

It's also helped to remind me about things I enjoy writing about like books, food, travel and music.  This has prompted me to think about blogging more about these topics in the future.  It had also been good to be a part of the #BEDM group on twitter and visit the blogs of other participants who I might not otherwise have stumbled upon.

There's due to be another challenge in November but I'm not sure that I'll be able to try again then or to post coherent blog posts due to my next big challenge appearing in late September... That as well as November being the month of Nanowrimo!  Still I'll be interested to see how other bloggers approach the topics that are set for #BEDN.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Music Love. Blog Everyday in May.

Nearly everyone who knows me also knows that I love music and that it's impossible for me to name my top 5 albums!  This is partly because I have a memory like a sieve but also because I've been lucky enough to hear lots of music when I wrote for the music section of the Huddersfield Student newspaper. Some great... some not so great...

As a child born in the 80s most of the music my parents played was Queen, ABBA, UB40, Eurythmics, Roxy Music and Human League with a bit of Madonna and Kylie thrown in there for good measure. Queen and ABBA seemed to be played most though...  As I got older I had a small pop phase before being introduced to Belle and Sebastian, The Magnetic Fields and The White Stripes as a teenager. At a similar time I also discovered The Smiths.  Something in this music spoke to me, I'm not sure what. 
I think with The Smiths it was a recognition in the music that there were other people out there that were shy, cynical and a tad melancholy.  With Belle and Sebastian I enjoyed the melodies and the fact that this beautiful sounding band were self deprecating too.  That and their witty songs full of humour, jangly guitars and barbs.

My first experience of the Magnetic Fields was through their album 69 Love Songs and I enjoyed the heartbreaking sweetness of some of their songs juxtaposed with the silliness of Chicken with It's Head Cut Off.
The White Stripes were great for their seeming simplicity and some of their foot stomping tunes like Hotel Yorba.  They also had great style and the rock n roll aggression resonated in the angry young woman in me.
Another band I discovered at a similar time was The Pixies, a band who are the right kind of mental for me with their surf-punk fusion.  I must admit I still have debates about which of album of theirs I like best Doolittle or Surfer Rosa... I used to maintain it was Surfer Rosa in arguments but I'm not sure if it's age or my hormones that are swaying me to Doolittle more.

Over the years I've grown to know and love many more bands like Sons and Daughters, The Long Blondes, Camera Obscura, McLuskey, Monkey Swallows the Universe, Allo Darlin, Slow Club, Flaming Lips and of course Arcade Fire. I could wax lyrical about all these bands forever and a day... I think that may have to be another blog post or ten for another day!  So there you have it I can't choose just 5 favourite albums out of my hundreds of cds but I can pick 5 influential bands!

Friday, 24 May 2013

What's in your fridge? Blog Everyday in May.

This is one of the more unusual topics of blog every day in May. This what lies inside mine and Paul's fridge today.

It mainly seems to be a combination of beverages, cheeses (paneer, hallomi, dairylea & cheshire) & sauces. As well as some other ingredients for cooking like harissa paste, tomato puree & garlic.

So this is what's currently in my fridge I hope it's of interest, is it like yours?

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Compliments. Blog Everyday in May.

I'm one of those people who struggle to accept compliments, they're very nice to receive but there's a rubbish part of my brain that doesn't think I deserve them. Sometimes another part of my brain warps things further and turns them into backhanded compliments.  Why this happens is a mystery to me!

Yet somehow this goes out the window when people compliment something I've made or an idea I've had! If someone compliments my sweet making,baking or writing I'm over the moon. I probably wouldn't hear if someone said you've made a delicious cake shame you look like you've been pulled through a hedge backwards... all I'd hear would be the cake bit. My favourite compliments have been when people say they like my novel idea and want to read the finished article or when someone compliments my writing when I've had an article or a recipe published.

So if you want to get into my good books now you know exactly what to say!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

13 year old you! Blog Everyday in May.

I don't have any photographs of me as a 13 year old and definitely none that are uploaded on to my computer! If I met my 13 year old self and this didn't cause a rift in both time and space it would be very tempting to try to offer some advice.  The thing is I expect it would be hard to know where to start!

I think the main thing I would tell my past self would be not to worry so much about fitting in and being normal.  I gave it ago once and ended up ignored and bored.  I'd also try to explain that there's a reason you don't fit in with the people your hanging around with it's because they're not the people who you need to be friends with.  Try to stick with the more artistic and bookish people they are your kind, they understand that you read to escape school not to be rude to anyone.  (They also have the best computer games!)

Another piece of advice I'd give is that worrying about getting more confident won't help you get anymore confident it actually seems to have the opposite effect!  I also used to get upset that no boys seemed to like me but this was really the last thing I should've been worrying about... it was just that I was a shy little thing with no clue that reading books hunched up in a corner wearing baggy clothes wasn't going to make me attractive. Seems obvious now but that took me a few years to figure out.

I'd also be tempted to give myself a couple of other pieces of advice like don't worry so much about school. Although might help to focus a bit more in class and stop reading till the early hours...

The last thing I'd do would be to tell myself that my parents are human and make mistakes just like everyone else.  Another obvious point but it was something I didn't get as a screaming banshee of a teenager. It's also something I hope that my unborn son realises when he meets me, that we're all doing the best we can with the knowledge that we've acquired.

I wonder what advice my 39 year old self will have for me in another 13 years?

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Dream Job. Blog Everyday in May.

When I was a small child I changed what my dream job was several times a day I went from wanting to be a fighter pilot to a pig farmer and artist to an actress a pop singer to a film director... the list goes on and the possibilities seemed endless! As I got older I put some of these dreams aside as they seemed impossible or I got bored of them and other dream jobs replaced them. When I was a teenager I went from wanting to be an actress to an artist to a film director before giving film making ago and realising that I'm not very good at it.  At the same time I experimented with writing and found I wasn't as bad as I'd imagined... After leaving college I didn't think about a dream job as such I just focused on getting a job.  Once secure in that I started to think about writing again and another silly idea of mine forming a band.

I didn't stay in that job forever and ended up going to university and experimenting with different writing styles and different career paths.  I even flirted with music journalism and sub-edited the music section of my student rag!  Then after uni I threw that experience away and went into one admin job then another and fantasised about training up to become a journalist or writing a novel.  Now I've got a few friends who are journalists so I'm not entirely sure if that's the dream... I still day dream about making a living writing about my travels, gigs I've seen, books I've read and recipes I've created. As well as maybe something to do with dancing, twiddling stringed instruments and crafting things.   Really I want to be a renaissance woman!
Truth be told I still don't really know what I want to do with my life and as I probably won't retire for another 40 years I've still got to time to try my hand at becoming a successful music journalist, travel writer, novelist and/or food columnist. One career per decade wouldn't be bad would it? So that's when I've done sitting at my desk writing letters by day I come home and write blogs and stories by night. There's no fairy godmothers out there... ... might end up a Jacqueline of all trades but I should have fun in the process!