Today is the day: Thurs 31st July 2014

I went to Kent today for a work meeting. It is a fairly long drive to Kent from the outskirts of Birmingham, but I coped marvellously on the way thanks to coffee and the near arctic conditions of my colleague’s car due to his supercharged air-con. Fast forward several hours, a productive meeting and a bellyful of Motorway Services noodles to that awful moment when you wake yourself up with a flop of the neck and snorty grunt and realise that 1. You are not at home. 2. You have nodded off in your colleague’s car for five minutes with your face smeared against the window.

To compensate for the noodle lunch, I decided I would go all out health for tea with marrowghetti. Yes, that’s correct, I am the idiot that got conned into believing that you can substitute MARROW for SPAGHETTI.

Here’s the thing: YOU CAN’T. For two reasons:

1. You are required to chop the marrow into linguine style strands. Oh do get a grip. Who in their right mind has the time or patience to chop a marrow into faux spaghetti? Not me my friends, NOT ME.

2. Your fridge is in fact the fridge to defeat all fridges because it can freeze things. Even big things like a marrow. The marrow is the latest in a long line of vegetables that have frozen solid at the bottom of said fridge over the last three days. Here is a frozen lemon (also required for the marrowghetti, because we all know lemon is central ingredient of spaghetti).

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Frozen lemon?!? The only time a lemon should be frozen is when its middle has been scooped out and replaced with lemon sorbet and it is being offered on a cheap dessert menu somewhere in Spain where one is holidaying.

Anyway, the lemon was defrosted rapidly over a pan of boiling water (top tip if ever you needed one eh?). But a frozen marrow, required to be chopped into linguine-style strands? Fail. See below – hacked up marrow. Cannot be passed off as spaghetti.

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Actually the dish itself, despite looking like a right old dog’s dinner, was rather tasty. I was pleasantly surprised. And to build on that positive, we were lucky enough to make good time on the journey back from Kent, and so I was able to pick Blake up from Nursery. I don’t normally do the pick up, so it was a complete surprise for Blake and a total delight for me that when I arrived he threw down the toys he was playing with, charged across the room and threw himself into my arms exclaiming MUMMY, YOU’RE HERE! I LOVE YOU MUMMY. And for that reason I will take the frozen lemon, the marrowghetti, the embarrassing of oneself in front of one’s colleagues, and say that today has been a good day.

dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

We interrupt this blog to bring you a recipe: Mon 28th July 2014

Even after nearly 10 years together, I am still amazed when I stop and watch James at work in the Kitchen. He has an ease and a creativity, an understanding of flavours, a quiet confidence and flexibility that I, as I pore over recipes and measure out quantities and fret, will never have.

Tonight, he has rustled up (and I really mean rustled – flung this and that and the other at a pan) a completely divine Peppercorn Sauce. James has regularly been told that he should write down the recipes for the sauces, dressings, marinades etc that he creates, and he never does, but I thought NO MORE! Seeing as I am sharing all kinds of rubbish with you at the moment, I thought you might like something of value – a recipe for a really decent Peppercorn Sauce.

So after much questioning here it is. Please do let me know if you like this sort of thing, because if you do I’ll try and capture a few more of his recipes and share.

James’ PepperPHWOAR Sauce

Start with Peppercorns (SHOCKING). Ideally you want green peppercorns in brine. Drain a small handful/large sprinkle of them, and chuck them in a pan.

Finally chop a small onion and add to the pan too.

Add about a quarter bottle of cheap red. Slosh.

Bubble bubble until almost all of the booze has gone.

In the meantime, make up some boeuf stock – half a pint of water with two stock cubes and a bayleaf. If you can flavour with celery and carrot too, ALL THE BETTER.

Bubble bubble.

Whack in a shot of Brandy *hic* and 2 teaspoons of both tomato paste and red currant jelly.

BUBBLE LIKE A TROOPER UNTIL IT IS THICK.

Wang in some celery salt and cumin to taste (James is nervous about this, but the cumin really gave it a certain je ne sais what, so take it steady and taste until you get what suits you.)

Stir in about 200ml of double cream (must be double) SLOSH SLOSH SLOSH, a few good pinches of salt and a sprinkle of Rosemary.

Stir stir STIR.

Slow simmer until saucy.

Here is a picture of my plate at the end of this meal, to illustrate how tasty this sauce was. Had I not been with my in-laws and still desperately trying to maintain a shred of decorum, I’d have licked the plate.

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dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

A poem for Kate

My lovely friend Kate gets married today *excited* . Yesterday as I was driving to the hotel where I’m staying, this poem popped into my head – so I thought I’d share it.

Kate and Neil – have a wonderful, beautiful day xx

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The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice.

Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was, after all, his cage.

Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur.

The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur’s cage with kind words and loving thoughts.

I like this Dinosaur thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.

Although he is fierce he is also tender and he is funny.

He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now.

I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur, thought the Dinosaur.

She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice.

She is also a free spirit which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.

But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.

He is also overly fond of things.

Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of things?

But her mind skips from here to there so quickly thought the Dinosaur.

She is also uncommonly keen on shopping.

Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping?

I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for things, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.

For they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual.

I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping, thought the Dinosaur.

For she fills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises. Besides,

I am not unkeen on shopping either.

Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old.

Look at them.

Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs.

And that, my friends, is how it is with love.

Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together.

For the sun is warm.

And the world is a beautiful place

dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

Packing

Is there a course you can go on to learn to pack a suitcase? A handy e-learning suite? A set of flashcards with the essential steps to take? Or is it in fact, as I have long suspected, a secret ninja skill only possessed by an elite few?
Because I SIMPLY CANNOT DO IT.
I fail at every aspect of it: knowing what to take, knowing how much to take, knowing how to organise it.
It is a friend’s Wedding this weekend, down/over/across (?) Ipswich way, and I will be away for two nights and then go on to James’ parents in Ross on Wye (where Blake will be while I’m away) for a further two nights. This requires me to pack for myself and my child for FOUR nights. Which in my book basically requires shoving the house and all of its contents into two suitcases whilst my child sleeps, swearing under my breath and inevitably falling over multiple times before retiring to bed in the early hours in a foul mood without achieving a great deal, only to start again a few hours later.
And that is before we even start on the folding. SUCH A DILEMMA! Does one fold or does one roll ones clothes? Does one place heavy items at the bottom and pad underwear and socks around them? Where where WHERE for the love of all that is good does one’s hair dryer go? One’s child’s nightlight? The million nappies and wipes? The emergency stock of Calpol, and Calamine (because we’re all on permanent pox alert at the moment aren’t we?), and the iPhone charger and Kindle charger and GOOD GRIEF I ALMOST FORGOT THE SWIM NAPPIES AND MY DEODORANT.
I was bad at this before I had a child. I remember rocking up at James’ parents house to stay for a week’s holiday early in our relationship and unloading a black bin bag full of shoes to the sound of his Dad’s laughter. And carting a suitcase that was basically as tall as me on the train to Sheffield for a ONE NIGHT University reunion. When my friend picked us up from the Station, we had to drive back to where we were staying with the suitcase hanging precariously out of the window.
Now I have a child, it is nothing short of traumatic. I am in a blind panic, alternating between writing this, staring at the pile of unsorted washing in the spare room, and roaming round the garden muttering I CAN’T DO IT I CAN’T DO IT.

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dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

Going grey

Well. You all went nuts for spots! It has outperformed all my other blogs in terms of views by a clear mile. If I’d have known I’d have written about spots sooner. Perhaps it is time to write an appearance mini-series, also known as The Shallow Chronicles. First spots, now grey hair!
Which I have, in disturbingly increasing quantities. RAPIDLY GREYING HAIR as my hairdresser once referred to it, which sent me running for the nearest off-license faster than the speed of sound to cry into a Gin bottle.
I was quite sure all was well. My Mum started turning grey in her teens, but everyone reassured me that as I take after my Dad’s auburn colouring the grey thing wouldn’t happen. ALL LIES. When I fell pregnant I decided not to colour my hair for a while and I watched as a crop of grey hairs appeared along my hairline. I’ve been colouring my hair for years you see, so I had no idea I was greying. At the age of 27! The double whammy of mousey roots combined with a hint *lots* of grey. And there’s really not a fat lot to be done.
My Mum’s hair is amazing. She is petite and her hair is completely white, styled into a chic little crop, and she is always immaculately dressed. She should really be spending her days in Paris, wearing floor-length gowns and elbow-length gloves, drinking tiny cups of coffee and being fabulous.
I on the other hand appear to be a throwback from the dark ages, when someone in the family had one too many and mated with a giant. I lumber around like a donkey on Valium, struggling to co-ordinate limbs that are just too long for my brain to manage. I trip over thin air. I am not chic and so going grey will not be so easily styled out.
I’m going somewhere with this! Just bear with me before you decide I am a horrible, shallow wretch and disown me. This grey hair of mine is the sign that I am growing older, and as I have aged my life has expanded. I have made firm, lifelong friends. I have studied a subject I adore. I met and married James. We had Blake. We bought our lovely home. So when I do decide to grow up and stop dying my hair bright red (it’s bound to be scaring some of the birds off) I will have to just get on with it and remember that we are all ruled by time. If going grey is one of my body’s ways of marking that, on reflection that is not such a bad thing. And to ease the transition, there is always a hat – for whom amongst us does not love a giant in a Fedora?

dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

Today is the day: Fri 18th July 2014

1. People tell me there was an impressive storm last night. I don’t know. I slept through it.
2. Watching the stale milk split gloriously in your first cup of tea of the day some two hours after using the same milk to make your child’s ginormous bowl of porridge for Breakfast.
In conclusion, I am a disaster.

Blake seems fine by the way – wolfed the porridge and then conquered this mountain with Uncle Mark.

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dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

Spots

What is it with spots? I started today, daubing on my makeup, thinking that actually the Week Of Misery I am subjecting myself to (no sugar, limited meat and dairy, limited caffeine = less of a bloater or that’s the theory) was actually HOLY MOLY reaping dividends. I thought my skin looked not too shabby.
But then over the course of the day, a thing appeared on my chin. It appears to be competing in size with Mount Snowdon. It is literally weighing my face down, making me slack jawed and in danger of face-planting into my roasted Aubergine with Bulgar *sobs* dinner.
And what is one to do with a truly terrifying spot? I am concerned it may have its own personality by tomorrow morning.
Dabbing on some facemask and leaving it overnight? Tricky considering my only option is a Superdrug Mudd mask circa 1998.
My Mum told me during my teenage years that aftershave was the way to go, so I merrily sloshed a load on a particularly nasty blighter on my forehead (before I had the fringe) and ended up with a chemical burn. And let me tell you, no amount of Seventeen make up will cover one of those up for you.
Sudacrem? Not so appealing given Blake’s recent bout of nappy rash.
Toothpaste! There us definitely a thing about whacking some toothpaste on it and leaving for a while. Toothpaste shall be my remedy!

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Note out of control fringe. Will take kitchen scissors to it while toothpasting.

dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

The little things

I fear I am becoming an arse.
We moved into our home about a year ago. It is a great love story, this house and us. It is like fate gave us a handshake, a thumbs up and bunged us a tenner. Whilst it is not a very big house, with just one bathroom, a wee little box room that Blake calls home and one reception room, it is beautiful. The couple who lived here before renovated it so so well. It is stylish and elegant and exactly what I would have done with it myself had I any artistic talent or vision (Not so. Cannot draw a pencil).
It took three days from a drab, discouraged me viewing it for the first time having just had a purchase that was four fifths complete fall through; to having an offer accepted. Even Blake loved it on sight and shuffled around happily opening cupboards and trying to slam them only for this to fail because they are those slow closing hinges that prevent little fingers getting trapped (You see? THE DREAM HOUSE).
All that was needed when we moved in in a blaze of glory 2 months later with a cheap bottle of Pinot and a takeaway Dominos, was the addition of a few furnishings here and there. Which was carried out successfully because even I can gift wrap a fabulous present that someone else put all the work into.
I adore this home of ours. But what I have noticed creeping into my consciousness over the past few months is a need to add to it with little things. I am always intrigued by those houses that have the little things – the designer candle burning on the mantelpiece, the fancies in the bathroom, the coffee table books adorning the lounge and the sundry little touches that pull it all together. And this is what I covet, on a part-time working Mum’s budget. Because once our sweet little home’s mortgage has been paid, and our energy provider has ripped us off, and I have stockpiled nappies and wipes and expensive pouches of fruit puree because they are the only way to get fruit into my toddler, I am left with limited resources for such fun. Please don’t think this is a winge about money – I choose to be a part-time worker in the full knowledge that this means I must bypass certain things for the here and now. Where I turn into a total arse is in my botched attempts to fabricate these little things when ultimately I AM ONLY KIDDING MYSELF.

The texts I read at University during my English Lit degree are proudly displayed on the bookshelves in the Lounge. No-one need see my Kindle, which is bulging at the seams with terrible chick lit and Phillipa Gregory’s back catalogue.

I leave fancy cookbooks, which I learn about through food blogs and subsequently request as gifts, tactically placed around the Kitchen if I am expecting visitors. NO-ONE CARES.

I pilfered all of the Molton Brown miniatures from the hotel James took me to on my 30th. If we have guests staying with us, I arrange them on the towels I leave out for them and hope against hope they won’t actually use them, because then what will I do?

I once refilled a Molton Brown bottle, which was a Birthday gift several years ago, with Aldi’s knock off version of the same.

I signed up for the My Waitrose card purely for the free tea and the free copy of The Times, which I display on our beautiful (inherited) dinner table over the weekend but never actually get further than a cursory flick through.

I order the mini Boden catalogue. The majority of Blake’s clothes are purchased in batches each quarter when Sainsburys run their 25% off Tu promo, but I still leave the catalogue out around the house.

I’m sure I’m not far off melting down all of Blake’s white wax crayons (why do they make white ones?! To go with all the black A4 paper we buy for our Children to scribble on?), with a bit of vanilla extract and refilling my lovely Seychelles candle from The White Company which was also a gift but has now burnt down to the end of the wick, rather like my patience with myself.
I am not disparaging lovely candles and fancy soap and people with great cookbooks. I am just bewildered by my need to try and fabricate them in such foolish fashion. Our lovely house is home to a toddler who has a sandpit, two massive train tracks and a Little Tikes car. Whilst it is lovely, it also has to be functional, so why I have my knickers in such a twist is beyond me, but there you have it. I AM SUCH AN ARSE.

dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

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Today is the day: Fri 11th July 2014

I was given a freebie volumising shampoo and masque treatment for my hair recently. Despite having hair thicker than boat rope, this morning seemed like the prime time to give it a whirl (I’m tired ok? I cannot be held responsible for any decisions I make). It’s really very effective. I will look like Toad from Super Mario Brothers for the rest of the day.

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dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

Today is the day: Weds 9th July 2014

I am desperately tired. Blake is waking in the night. Not for long, and not onthehoureveryhour, but enough to disturb us. James has not had a day off work since we returned from holiday on June 15th, so I am full time mummy-daycare at the moment. This cannot be helped and is lovely but nonetheless draining when your child’s favourite games are 1. chase me 2. dodge the heavy toys I chuck at you 3. fathom how to deal with this super tantrum. And of course James is completely exhausted so I cannot settle in the evenings until I know he is home safe and have mopped his brow and applied cold compresses to his forehead and chanted manically ‘THIS TOO SHALL PASS’ in an encouraging manner. And then we were up until 1am on Tuesday morning thanks to the pissing fridge-freezer giving up the ghost (see Thought for the Day).
It is like walking through a fog, this tiredness. Like l had a thimbleful of wine for breakfast and am on the deck of a ship battling through turbulent seas, desperately searching for a vending machine that will dispense Diet Coke and a hug. I fear I may resort to chewing Berocca.
Here is a list of ridiculous things I have done today in my dazed state:
1. Missed my mouth entirely and tipped a huge forkful of greasy potato down my front
2. Driven my car into a kerb on four separate occasions
3. Taken three attempts to park said car
4. Uttered these words: “By making this effortless, we will drive down customer effort, which will reduce customer dissatisfaction. This will make customers much more satisfied.”
5. Overshared. Horrifically.
6. Screeched loudly as I walked into a paper football decoration hanging from the ceiling
7. Called my child ‘babes’
8. Forgotten to flip the switch on the taps that diverts the water to the shower and drenched myself trying to run Blake a bath.
I know I am not alone. It is part of life to be tired, and I know you will especially be feeling it if you are working nights, or a parent, or an insomniac or any other number of things. I know. I just wanted to be the voice of camaraderie, so you know that you are not the only one sucking it up and marching on. Me, myself and I sympathise from the bottom of our palpitating, caffeine flooded hearts.

dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused