This has been the crappiest year EVER and it's not over yet.
Oh and the wedding is off (for now.)
This has been the crappiest year EVER and it's not over yet.
Oh and the wedding is off (for now.)
Well... OK, maybe I don't actually FEAR yeast as an abstract concept, but as far back as I can remember I have avoided any recipe including the pesky little fungus. I know just where it all began - like so many other things in life it was at school. I loathed Home Ec lessons. I'm really not sure why. I think it might have been because I knew other things were going to be expected of me once the thorny issue of options came up, so I didn't see it as having any relevance to me. Plus I was still sulking because they wouldn't let me continue doing woodwork, which seemed much more practical to me. (I was wrong. I've needed to whip up plenty of gastronomical creations since, but never ONCE have I been required to make a box.)
So I rebelled in the only way open to me. I did as few practicals as humanly possible and even then I did them grudgingly and under protest. I think I managed to keep it down to about four in two years. One of them was bread rolls.
I don't recall if my water was too hot or too cold, but since we'd been instructed to put the kettle on just for a bit and get it from there I'm willing to bet I left it on a bit too long and scalded that yeast to death right there and then. My rolls were doomed from the start. Whilst everyone else's transformed into large snowy white rounds, mine stubbornly remained greyish little pebble-like things. I ended up staying on after school to put them in the oven, an exercise in futility if ever there was one.
Well after that, more so even than the fact I didn't DO cooking, beyond opening a tin of spaghetti hoops and making toast, I certainly didn't DO yeast.
Over the years I began to DO cooking, as a necessity and a way to avoid starving myself and my children mainly. These days I like to think I'm pretty good at it. Mr Jaded might beg to differ on that one but as I keep telling him, the Moroccan chicken incident ought to be blamed squarely on Chicken Tonight, not me. Still I would not touch yeast with a bargepole.
That all changed when I got a breadmachine. I managed not to kill the yeast in that and an actual, risen loaf came out. But have you ever eaten bread out of a bread machine? It tastes weird, right? Eventually I realised that it just might be cooking it in the machine that made it that way, so started baking it in the oven instead and it's GORGEOUS. I've been doing all sorts. Fruit loaves, crusty rolls, chelsea buns - they've all come out great. There's no stopping me now. My phobia is well and truly cured.
I must go now, I need to roll out the croissants I'm halfway through making. ;)
Sophie has discovered Barbie in a big way.
I'm not quite sure how this happened. I was planning on her having altogether more worthy role models, women who had done extraordinary things, shown tremendous bravery etc. rather than an imaginary plastic bimbo with an unfeasible figure. But once the genie was out of the bottle there was just no putting it back.
Sophie now demands that we only address her as Fairy Princess Sophie Barbie.
Sure, I had Sindy dolls as a kid, but I used to cut off their hair and dress them in action man clothes, making paper palm trees as backdrops and sewing them little sleeping bags. So I'm a bit bemused because I really don't know where she gets her pink-sparkly-girly streak from. It sure as hell isn't from me and my eldest daughter appears to have remained untouched by this affliction. Sophie seems to have received the dose that was designated for the three of us and, if I'm completely honest, I'm starting now to enjoy living vicariously through her. Personally I could never get away with wearing head to toe pink, even as a child, or pretending to be a fairy (unless the fairy in question happened to be Mavis Cruet.) But Sophie can get away with it all and then some. She has a pretty little face, long hair and she already knows how to bat her eyelashes. Daddy is firmly wrapped round her little finger as are all the other men in her life, i.e. her brothers and grandad.
Daddy decided it would be nice to get Sophie some Barbie DVDs. Now, for those of you who've never seen one let me tell you, you can only filter out those annoyingly catchy songs for so long before they burrow right deep down inside your consciousness until one day you find you're ACTUALLY SINGING THEM! And then your curiosity is kind of piqued and so you want to know what these songs are actually about. And what I found was a mixed bag. Yes, Barbie is a fairy in all these films, or a mermaid, or either IS a princess or ends up as one. But you know what? Along the way she actually demonstrates some brains and some bravery and espouses the value of concepts like generosity, kindness and friendship. Maybe she's not such an entirely terrible role model after all.
Altogether now.... and sing! "I feel connected..... protected.....it's like you're sitting right with me all the tiiiiiime....."
There must be something in the water.
After a six year engagement we have finally decided to actually get married. Most people assume we are already married. I think this is something to do with all the children. In reality they are the reason we are NOT yet married; every time we began to seriously think about it before I got pregnant!
That will not be happening this time.
In a fit of some hitherto unmanifested numerical compulsive disorder, Mr Jaded (see, no wonder people think we're married!) insisted he wished to get hitched on 09/09/09. I told him I can't get married on a Wednesday in September, the kids have school. Oh go on, he said, it would make it so much easier to remember our anniversary. I said I'd have it engraved on something for him, like his ring, or his forehead maybe. ;o)
We compromised. We get married at Coventry register office (in the pic on this post) on 07/08/09. He gets his easy to remember date, I get an August wedding.
Sophie is smart for a just turned two year old.
She asked for a biscuit. I gave her one. Having got lucky the first time she decided to up the stakes and demanded two!
"OK," I said. I took the biscuit back and, turning round slightly so she couldn't see, broke it in half. I turned back round, handed the pieces to her and said, brightly "There, two biscuits!"
She examined them intently, frowning. Then she fixed me with a baleful glare and announced the verdict.
"That's one!" she said, her voice loaded with barely disguised contempt.
I gave in. I gave her another biscuit for being so clever.
She paused momentarily then gazed up at me.
I decided I needed a break.
It hasn't been the best of times, in many ways, and things began to get on top of me. I was feeling burnt out, I had very little left to give. The germ of an idea sprouted in my mind.
We would go away for a weekend. It would be a surprise for Mr J too, organised by me.
I began to look for a nice hotel.
Shortly afterwards I decided to phone the bank and arrange a second mortgage.
None of them were quite right. We've stayed in B+Bs and little places before, and decided WE DON'T LIKE THEM! We were always much too aware that we were staying in someone's house and didn't like the feeling of trying to be on our best behaviour - not that we're loutish or anything, but hey, it's hard to relax if you're worrying about whether your late night tv habit is keeping your hosts awake, or whether you're going to accidentally splatter ketchup across their supernaturally white linen tablecloth. So I was looking for somewhere big enough to be fairly impersonal and anonymous, preferably with room service, and a swimming pool.... but some tiny amount of character too. I mean, I didn't just want to go and stay at a national hotel chain (albeit that we have done that before just to get away from the kids. We slept, A LOT, we woke up, we swam, we went back to the room, we ordered dinner up, we watched some crap tv in companiable silence and we went back to sleep. It was fantastic.)
But this time I wanted something a tiny bit more special. And I tell you this, it's hard to find, unless you want to take out a small loan to pay for it.
As I searched through the same lists of hotels for the millionth time hoping that something that fitted the bill and didn't cost more than a week's wage had magically appeared in the five minutes I had been away from the computer making a coffee, and my brain went into an almost-terminal spasm, I idly began clicking on links to hotels ANYWHERE. That was when it occurred to me that it might be an excellent idea to go abroad instead.
OK, there was the matter of whether my Mother in Law would appreciate the idea of babysitting whilst we actually left the country.... hmm, oh and I didn't have a valid passport. That would bump up the cost. And where would we go? Mr Jaded is very well travelled... it seems almost every time I mention going somewhere he's already been there.
It was when I saw flights to Amsterdam for 4p!!!!! that I made my mind up.
So then I began searching for a hotel in Amsterdam. And THAT is even harder than finding one in this country. I read review after review. They were all either;
A. At the airport
B. In the suburbs miles from the city
C. VERY expensive!
C. Had reviews saying things like, " Glad I didn't bring my cat, wouldn't have been able to swing it!", "Staff rude, surly and uninterested," and "Vomit on blanket from previous occupant - took two days to get it changed!"
FINALLY, I found one.
By this time my original idea had morphed into going away for Mr J's birthday. Now Mr J REALLY doesn't like the cold, so I began to wonder about the idea of taking him to Amsterdam in the late spring. I mean, it might be OK, but by the same token it might snow for all I know. I don't know quite what I was thinking, but I began to look into a longer break in two places, a few days somewhere warmish followed by a quick blast to the Netherlands. Well it had to be Spain, didn't it, of all the places I considered it was by far the cheapest. I found a hotel, all inclusive, with a heated pool and a sea view. It was CHEAP and the reviews were OK. Granted, it might be full of Spanish grannies at that time of year but who cares?
So I'd found the lot. Flights, hotels, everything.
And then I realised that his passport had run out, so my hand was forced - I could tell him or forget it. I told him. He thought it was a good idea.
We should've just left it there, I shouldn't have done any more idle browsing, but I did... and I discovered how cheaply it is possible to rent a villa.
To cut the story slightly short, a weekend away has turned into a week in a Spanish villa. I have now become obsessed with webcams and weather reports, legroom, insurance, exchange rates, car hire details, airport parking, the frequency of unprovoked shark attacks in the Med (v. rare in case you were wondering) and the likelihood of encountering scorpions/large spiders/poisonous centipedes (not so rare, alas.)
There is so much to sort out. I will need a holiday to recover. I should've just stayed at home and hidden in the bedroom.
Oh and if anyone wants to know where looks to me like by far the best bet for accommodation in the Dam... ask nicely and I shall tell you!
November is NaNoWriMo!
For the uninitiated, which I was until the beginning of THIS month, that's National Novel Writing Month. It's more international than national, but apparently InaNoWriMo just doesn't have the same ring to it.
Kicking off on the 1st of November, the goal is to write 50,000 words by the 30th. Yes, 50,000 words. A small novel. That's 1667 (approx.) words a day, every day. Or 11669 words, in one mammoth session each week. It's up to you. You don't edit it (that's saved for December) and yes, you'll type some crap, but 50,000 words is the goal, which I am assured is do-able.
October is officially planning month, if you're sensible.
I have signed up for this lunacy. I am supposed to be planning. Instead my life has become a long round of procrastination. I sit down to begin planning and instead I surf the net for two hours. Suddenly the washing up seems much more urgent than it ever has before and of course, there's always a thick layer of dog hair to be removed from the carpets - one of the downsides of owning a pet labrador. Children need feeding, wiping, reading to and wrestling to bed. But of course, these are all activities of old. Most of them are even things that I am, in fact, SUPPOSED to be doing.
Apart from these everyday jobs, more novel ones of less dubious value have begun suggesting themselves. Alphabetising the books and then changing my mind and arranging them in order of size. Changing my mind again and rearranging them by subject matter. Cleaning the drips off the side of the liquid soap bottle, removing gunk from the overflow, polishing the leaves of plants. Refilling all the salt cellers, pepper mills and ketchup bottles. Removing dirt from the screws in furniture with a cocktail stick. Never before in the field of human endeavour have so many things been so pointlessly cleaned using a toothbrush.
The world will not stop turning if I do not do these things but I feel compelled. Because it stops me from having to sit and face the terrifying prospect of what I have signed up for next month! I am half hoping that I will sit bolt upright in the middle of the night, shout "Eureka!", grab a notepad and start scribbling down the plot I have just come up with in a lucid dream. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M GOING TO WRITE ABOUT! But I'm sure (I hope) I will figure it out.
It's probably just as well actually that I'm doing all this cleaning now, because somehow I don't think much will be getting done in November....
The police and some other agencies have a big initiative on in this area at the moment concerning various issues and problems. There were several police officers, neighbourhood wardens and members of staff outside school this morning handing out information of some type.
On my way out of school I was accosted by the headteacher.
"Good morning! Can I give you one of these?" she asked in an extremely cheery manner. This was a bit unexpected since we were standing out in a monsoon. Although, she DID have an umbrella. I didn't. I had water running in rivulets down my forehead and dripping from my nose. I didn't feel cheerful and I wanted to get home, fast.
I looked down. She was waving a leaflet at me, about the law on kids' car seats. I noticed she had a fistful of others which she was probably planning to palm off on me. I looked up again and smiled in what I hoped was a reassuring way.
"No, it's ok, we've got all the right car seats thank you." (We do.)
She narrowed one eye slightly, as if to say, "Are you quite sure?!" Then she said,
"Are you quite sure?!"
She smiled expectantly. My reassuring smile started to feel like more of a lunatic grin. Talking to her seems to instantly regress me to slightly left of gauche.
And then, when I should've stopped talking, I made a fatal mistake and filled in a brief silence with a vaguely maniacal sounding, "We don't drive to school anyway!"
She raised one eyebrow then changed her mind and just outright frowned.
"I know THAT!"
Then she turned to the next parent and smiled widely.
I live directly across the road from the school. This lady has stood outside the school gates every day for the last four years and watched me battle my way down the steps and across the road with various combinations of children, pushchairs and other assorted paraphernalia. She knows perfectly well I don't drive to school and I know that she knows.
I should've just taken the leaflet.
Do not buy anything from JML. Ever, no matter how much it seems like "a good idea" at the time.
Do not buy it even if it is in the poundshop. There is a reason it is in the poundshop. NO-ONE ELSE WAS STUPID ENOUGH TO BUY IT!!