Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt: June

I mentioned previously that I'd discovered Kathy at Postcards from the PP was running a Photo Scavenger Hunt and I was planning to participate this month

Kathy set us quite a challenging list in June and I'm sorry to admit that I haven't fulfilled all my photo finding obligations. Some of the categories were just too hard so I'll admit failure before we start but promise to try harder next month!

Something with your town's name on it
I live in Epsom, Surrey, England.
This category should have been super-duper easy. The TV cameras arrived in early June ready for the famous Epsom Derby (a house race for those of you who don't know).
Epsom is transformed for 2 days a year from a cosy commuter town nestled between the London suburbs and the rolling countryside into a crazy cosmopolitan metropolis*. I trotted into the centre of Epsom on Derby day with my camera ready to snap snap snap. But this year it was as if the recession had hit all the festivities, or I totally missed them.
So the closest I've got to showing you Derby fever Epsom-style is a road sign, how frustrating.

An elephant
This is one of my son's little friends who was found trundling through the garden bushes in search of a waterhole to quench his thirst in the mid-summer sun.

Architectural design
Another Epsom shot. The clock tower in the market square. I love this building.

Doh - I meant to take this shot last night, we had Gruyère and leek tart. I even planned the menu for the week so I could take the shot and now its all gone (yes it was really quite tasty). Disappointing. Again I apologise.

Tree branches

A farm animal
Oh the velvety ears look sooooo soft

Something beginning with z...
This is the last box on the Sampler I made for my son's birth, it now hangs in his bedroom

The view right outside my front door
Yes my house is a little strange, we don't step out onto a road. We are hidden away between the houses. It really does feel like I've stepped into my own little world when I close the gate, no one can see me and people regularly can't find me! Mowa-ha-ha-ha

Looking forward to July's challenge.. I think my report card for this month would state "7/12 Rebecca should try harder"

* potential for slight exaggeration here!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

CyberMummy 11: What a Fabulous Day

I got home late last night from the CyberMummy 11 conference slightly tipsy from the delicious free wine, over excited about my new friends and dragging my mountain of freebies in new canvas shopping bags.

What a wonderful day full of great experiences

I met a former Prime Minister's Wife (@SarahBrownUK) who gave a fabulous speech about parenting and how she and Gordon continued to put their children first when they were living at No. 10. She shared some cheeky stories about her little ones which had the audience roaring with laughter. What a thoroughly lovely lady.

The CyberMummy 11 organisers had arranged a great selection of speakers. I learnt about writing from a published author, photography from an accomplished photographer, internet presence from a professional web developer and how to reach a blog-life-balance from a time management expert. I'm planning to put their helpful advice into practice so watch out for some changes to this blog :)

This along with informative and comical speeches from Lord Richard Allen (Facebook Director) and Rachel Johnson (Editor of The Lady) meant that CyberMummy 11 was a truly fabulous day out.

Whilst the talks were great this was shadowed by the inspirational bloggers I met, there really are some fabulous people out there, sharing some amazing life experiences. Keep it up ladies.

The fun has even continued today as I had the joy of delving into the Goodie Bags and wow were they a treat. Luxury Bath treats from Champney, Cars The Movie from Disney, Johnson's Baby Wipes and and and the list goes on, I'll be dishing out some of these treats to friends as there is simply too much for one family.

So all that is left to say is "where do I sign up for CyberMummy 12?"

Friday, 24 June 2011

CyberMummy Here I Come

Well I'm like a kid on Christmas Eve. But tomorrow I won't be opening presents, drinking champagne or eating too much rich food....no tomorrow is the CyberMummy conference

I'm incredibly excited

I've become a lot more confident about myself since becoming a Mummy. When I might shy away or be almost embarrassed about myself or something I've achieved previously I'm much more "this is me" now and you can take me or leave me. I don't know if this is a result of motherhood in that I simply don't have the time to fret anymore or if this is because the arrival of the little man has put me in a position where I HAVE to make new friends.

None of my close friends live nearby, in fact the closest is about 1hr15mins away so when motherhood loomed I knew I needed a bunch of friends nearby who were going through the same life change. It really was the first time since University (and that was a few years ago) where I've been flung into a situation where the plan is to make friends. And I'm pleased to say I succeeded, I have a lovely group of Mummies nearby.

I wonder if this has increased my confidence or maybe being a Mummy has just made me more interested in other people and everything else is a by-product. Well whatever the reason I'm not complaining.

So to continue my strive to meet like minded and not-so-like minded people and stay in contact I'm looking forward to not only the sessions tomorrow but also the breaks when I can chat chat chat. I've even made some businesscards (although I'd maybe prefer to call these name cards as I certainly don't like to think of my little blog as a business).

They are a bit fun, a bit crafty and quite girlie but I love them. I'm corporate Monday-Friday so my weekends and blog are a time for fun. I've only made a few so hoping to hand these to special people I meet on the day and hope they stay in touch.

I'm off now to check the agenda, organise my travel and pack my bag for the day.... I'll share the conference with you soon

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Finally Finishing - My Little House

I think I've mentioned before that I really struggle to finish projects.

I truly love the excitement of a new project. Getting the right tools out, shopping for the necessary materials, planning my development, these seduce me every time. Once the initial new project excitement wears off I really have to press myself to keep going.

That new project excitement usually lasts right up until the very last stage. This means that I'm usually left with lots of 90% complete projects requiring that one last push to complete. I even leave the projects in view so I see them regularly, and every time I see them I feel a little disappointment in myself for not having the commitment to complete the project. I do find this quite embarrassing, why cant I be more disciplined to commit to finishing what I start, this cant be a particularly good personality trait. This challenge doesn't stay at home either, I suffer at work too but there I have managers and annual pay reviews to spur me on, maybe I need to ask hubby to take up this role at home??? what an idea!

Does anyone else suffer with this? Do you also have an embarrassing pile of UFOs??? (UnFinished Objects?)

I found this little house in a magazine late last year and just had to have a go at it. It's so cute. I diligently completed the detailed stitch work on all 4 sides some time ago and it has been sat in this state for months.

At the weekend I put dinner into cook and had 30 minutes spare, and I got this project finished. It only took 30 minutes to do the final stage but I have been sitting on it for months, pathetic I know. I even made a little internal bag of rice so this is weighted at the bottom.

Now that it is finished I'm really pleased with the result. However, I'm really not sure where to put it right now, T is becoming more and more mobile, and being 9months old EVERYTHING is destined to be tested on his 4 little teeth. Not sure how the stitching would survive the rugged biting and tugging they will be subjected to. Maybe my cute little house will be destined for a cupboard until the biting phase is over.

Do you have any tips for avoiding the growing pile of UFOs? or do I just need to be harsher with myself and not allow the starting of new projects until the previous one is finished? All thoughts gratefully received

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Pistachio Cake Recipe

I think I am something of an anomaly; I enjoy my commute to work. When I was on maternity leave recently I remember talking to my husband and friends about the things I missed from pre-baby days, they were generally shocked when I put my commute above lie-ins and the ability to read the Sunday papers.

My commute is nothing special, and it is longer than most of my colleagues. Door-to-door its about 1hour 15 minutes and consists foot, train and tube, and it's one of my favourite parts of the day. Not many people really understand but I enjoy my commute so much because it is MY time to do with as I will, how many people have the luxury of 2hours a day to indulge ?? Sometimes I read, other times I choose to work, occasionally there is crochet and regularly there is music or podcasts. But my commute home on a Tuesday is reserved for reading Stylist.

Stylist is one of the free magazines given out in London each week. It covers the classic girly articles on fashion and makeup but mixes in some intelligent articles on topical issues which I can regularly relate to. If you aren't lucky enough to live in a city where it is distributed you can read online for free here.

Well one of the pages I'm always keen to read is "Gourmet on the Go" which regularly features scrummy looking food that doesn't require hours of preparation. A few weeks ago this is where I spotted the rather yummy pistachio cake. As promised here is the recipe

200g ground pistachios
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
150g unsalted butter
225g self-raising flour
185g caster sugar
3 eggs
125ml thick yoghurt

- preheat oven to 180 degrees C / gas mark 6
- line 20cm cake tin with baking paper

1. Blend ground pistachios, cardamom, butter, flour and sugar in a food mixer
2. Combine above with the eggs and yoghurt in a mixing bowl
3. Pour mixture into a cake tin and bake in the oven for 1 hour. Cover the cake with foil halfway through cooking then allow to cool on a rack.

Let me know if you make this.


Sunday, 12 June 2011

Pistachio Cake

I was looking for something to bake this weekend, no particular reason, just fancied some cake. I stumbled across a recipe for pistachio cake in a magazine, I've heard of walnut or almond cake but never pistachio so thought I'd give it a try.

The result was a rather vibrant green colour and a strangely gloopy mixture due to yoghurt being included in the ingredients. I don't bake a huge amount but I've never cooked a cake with yoghurt before.

I was a little dubious as to what would emerge from my oven, but when the timer pinged it looked good, in fact it had even split into a cute little smile.

Thoroughly enjoyed testing it for you....lovely.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

When all you can do is beg

There are some things which I am certainly not too proud to do

  • the photo copying at work

  • sniffing my baby’s bottom to see if there is anything I need to action

  • re-cleaning tables in restaurants before we sit down as I know T will attempt to put the whole table in his mouth at some point over dinner. (I like to make sure it has seen antibacterial some point recently)

but most recently I added begging to the list and I don’t care because it came through.

As you know I took a bit of a cyber break when T was born. Just couldn’t fit blogging into my already chaotic world, but now T is 8 months old, I’m back at work and we are into a very good bedtime routine* I have a little more time on my hands and blogging was top of my list.

It was therefore only recently whilst blog-surfing that I discovered the Cyber Mummy conference taking place in London on 25th June, got very excited….went to register and was quickly deflated to discover it was sold out and there was a waiting list. There was nothing for it but to beg, offered to work at the event in exchange for a ticket; handing out badges, stewarding, anything which would mean I can go to a couple of the talks. I want to be a better blogger.

Well, I’ve just heard back from the organisers and

The lady from CyberMummy....she say yes

(insert own cheesy Spanish accent)

(apologies to anyone who wasnt in England in the '80s to experience the Del Monte ads)

I’m so excited.

Looking forward to meeting lots more yummy cyber mummies.

Are you going? Let me know…looking forward to meeting you

* clearly I have jinxed the next few nights by writing this

Monday, 6 June 2011

Here comes the rain

Hello, I'm British and I'm obsessed with the weather. It's been gloriously sunny here for weeks, it's been absolutely fabulous. But today the rain has come and I'm thrilled for 2 reasons

1. The waterbutt will get refilled, it was getting quite low and I've got quite an array of veg growing

2. I can finally wear my wellies. I bought these months ago and I've not had the chance to give them a test drive.

So bye for now, I'm taking T to the park so I can jump in puddles like a toddler.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

The Surrey County Show

I had the pleasure of attending the Surrey County Show at the weekend. This is a totally British institution where we congregate in the middle of a field to look at livestock and judge who has the best cow, chicken, goat etc. I do find it all strange and fascinating in equal measure.

We walk around with our cider (or ice cream in my case), in our wellies which have never seen a wet field and nod along with judges as they praise the straight back of a sheep, or the stance of a pigmy goat. When, lets be honest we won't look at a sheep again until the event next year. Hands up, I was nodding along with everyone else and loved it, its nice to be a country-bumpkin for the day when you're a city girl through and through

There were some amazing livestock specimens and some of the sheep I could happily have climbed into the pens and had a cuddle, they really did look that fluffy and warm.

There was even the opportunity for a little retail therapy

But then as with all great British days out the clouds rolled in and we all bolted. I'm pleased to say that we managed to get everyone inside the car before the heavens really opened and gave the fields the watering that the farmers wished for more than any gold medal.

So tell me reader, is this a traditionally English affair or do these events happen all over the world?

Ahoy There

It's been a while but I certainly haven't forgotten you and I hope you haven't forgotten me either.

I've been itching to get back to blogging for a while now. I've taken some time to make sure this is something I'm willing to commit to again and after hours of thought and deliberation the conclusion is - YES.

I'm back and it feels great

I've been up to so much that I want to share with you. There have been...county shows.....baking extravaganzas....crafting....and of course I need to introduce you properly to my little man.

So for now I will wave farewell and I'll see you back here very soon. Watch this space