Thursday, 3 December 2015

The year in books :: December

Another month goes by but the reading bug has returned. Once again I have no idea why. Most probably it’s to do with the engaging books I have read rather than any great change in circumstance.
The first book I read in November was Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling). I love this series of books. I love the characters Cormoron Strike and Robin Ellacott and the journeys they take ‘fighting crime’. This one kept me guessing (even if I guessed right) and it was the right mixture of scray gore with sensible storytelling. Cannot wait until the next one!

The second book I read is by an old favourite author, Ian Rankin. This, the 20th Rebus book, ‘Only Dogs in the Wild’ was another ‘unputdownable’ read. The characters he’s created in Rebus, Clarke and Cafferty along with relative newcomer Fox sustain any story. This story brings together two old rivals in Rebus and Cafferty and mixes the old and the new in their lives. A really good Rebus read.

For this month of December I’m going to try again at the Kate Atkinson novel ‘A God in Ruins’ and possibly an Agatha Christie I’ve found in the depths of my kindle. You never know what's going to happen though best laid plans and all that!

Joining in with Laura.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

That difficult bit in the middle

I keep thinking I should blog. I have a list of bloggable things. Then an inertia overtakes me and I don’t. I’ve been reading blogs but I haven’t been commenting as much as I would like either (again)….meaning I will catch up with it but I’m fighting a losing battle on what seems like all fronts at the moment. It’s a busy time at the moment work is busy (this is a good thing, I really don’t like being idle) and of course there’s life stuff to keep up with.
LittlestR has relapsed so it’s been a bit of a fraught time. We’re back on track again (I hope), for now, but I can’t help thinking (and knowing) this is only the beginning. This is not helpful to the getting yourself out of the inertia. But enough of this navel gazing tedium. I’m boring myself with my woe is me excuses…
So of course it’s not all doom and gloom. There have been plenty of bright moments over the last 40 odd days…here of just some of them.

Day 38 – We took advantage of the enforced INSET day at the start of half term and went to Yorkshire Wildlife Park. It’s a great day out and ticks all our boxes. It’s not a too arduous journey, there’s plenty to see (and lots of new things too), plenty of places to have a picnic, you’re outside walking round so getting some fresh air and there’s an ice cream stop. Since we last visited they’ve taken in some more polar bears.

Day 42 – Half term passed in a blur really. I took a day off work and spent it day with BigR. As a surprise I booked into our local pottery painting café. We had great fun working on our items. BigR painted a plate (she drew some dolphins) and I painted a pen pot and then we both did a Christmas decoration. (They’re now adorning the tree…more on that later….) In my mind's eye there would be seed pods on a mottled background. Next time I';ll sue a finer brush. The pot now sits atop our microwave. 

Day 45 – Madly I let BigR choose a little gift in The Works. She chose a fairy door….and so her fairy, Verbena, was born. Verbena visited every day for 4 days until she ran out of fairy dust (read I just couldn’t think of anything else to say in response to the weight of pictures and offerings left at the door). She’s due to make a comeback soon.

Day 46- I couldn't leave these strawberries in the shop. They were destined to become more jam. And as Sarah pointed out on Instagram Lancashire grown to Yorkshire made.

Day 53 – The weather was so poor we stayed at home and watched a new film…The Jungle Book. We had popcorn. It was great fun.

Day 59 – BigR once again showed her creative side and made a Hama Bead Pudsey Bear. I failed a little on my part by sticking the ironing paper to the creation. Iron too hot? Not concentrating? Still I redeemed myself with a sponge cake.

I also admired my mittens that my very talented friend Sarah made me. They combined well with the floor of the Leeds General Infirmary. 

Day 62 – Enthused by watching Rick Stein eating moussaka I made us one (to be eaten the next day). I started it at 7pm one night when the girls had gone to bed. Around 8pm I wondered why I thought it was a good idea as there were pots and trays everywhere and my béchamel wasn’t thickening. When I’d finished though and I’d cleared up I was really pleased. There’s something I love about pottering around in the kitchen making something to have for another day and being that organised! I’ve spent a lot of time slumped in front of the TV lately, a bit too tired to be bothered doing anything, so this really helped with that inertia fug. Plus when we ate it, it was delicious.

Day 63 – Finally I made the arms for the knitted dolls I’m (still) making. Eventually they’ll be two dolls. Eventually.
I really rather liked how the French flags reflected in my wine and almost matched my knitting.

Day 70 – Sometimes I really love my job. Today was one of those days. I was assessing a session where the students were teaching. I’ve learned so many things from these sessions over the years. Today I learnt (amongst other things) how to make an origami tulip. Brilliant.

Day 74 – The weather was atrocious and the ABO is working the next few weekends so we both ventured into the loft to get the Christmas decorations out. The tree is now up…(perhaps a little early for some) and adorned in a way only a 6 year old and almost 3 year old want to decorate! I added the decorations we made at the pottery painting place and am working on moving some of the baubles around…so we have  them a bit more evenly distributed.

Day 75 - I'd seen the recipe for these Red Velvet Snowflakes in a magazine and in my carefully planned world I'd prepared and chilled the dough. I was a little skeptical about how this would go as the dough was supremely sticky. Anyway, in my head this was going to be a joyous, child friendly baking activity. Cut to an hour later where I'd used another 50-100g of flour so I could roll the dough out and  spent the majority of that time trying to stop two small children fighting or burning themselves whilst covered in flour - we were finally were ready to cut the cookies. Things I have learnt, only cook with one child at a time. Never expect it is easy to roll anything out between two sheets of baking paper. Red Velvet snowflakes are fine as stocking, snowmen and tress and stars. Anyway they taste nice even if I couldn't be bothered to ice them after all that shenanigans!

So with a background of illness combined with busyness we’ve had some really good moments. I’m planning to visit and comment on everyone’s blogs this week. I hope you’ll bear with me.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

The year in books :: November

It's been a strange couple of months. It's been a busy time so my reading has suffered, or so I thought.  Too tired at the end of the day to muster any enthusiasm for fiction I've been reading through my recipe books or a magazine. I surprised myself with the number titles I looked at. Craft books (gaining more inspiration and adding to the ever lengthening list of potential makes) and food books (the new Nigella, to name one)  have been the staple (as well the numerous children's stories/school books I've read/listened to) until recently...
I charged my kindle and found a book had been delivered that I was waiting fact now we're into November there's another waiting.
So, I'm currently reading Robert Galbraith - Career of Evil. It's the third in the series with Cormoran Strike at the centre and so far, so good. Still to come in November is one of my favourite authors, Ian Rankin. He has a new Rebus book out now and waiting for me on my kindle (along with loads of others!!) that'll be November I think. Here's hoping I can keep up with the reading...

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The first 35 days...

Is it really over a month since I last posted? I've been reading but life stuff has kept me away from blogging and commenting. I want this to change and it will. I missed the year in books link up...(but then again I've not read many novels in the last month) but I will post about all my other reading in November...
In other news I've actually been quite good at remembering to write down one (or six) lovely things for the last 35 days (not including's not done yet) between all the normal life stuff cleaning, cooking,everyone having an illness of some sort, the sort of inertia you just have to give into...or become overwhelmed.

Rather than bore everyone to tears with the randomly repeating subject matter (food and children) of every individual day here are the highlights...

Day 1 - Kids say the funniest things - LittlestR and me in the lift. "Quick man! Get in! Lift doors closing!" and as the doors opened "Out now man - don't hurt yourself - mind your fingers". He was very bemused. (Obviously not as good as BigR shouting when in a public loo "There's a lady doing a pooh" or better than that my friend's child (in the same loo) asking "Mummy why have you got a hairy bottom?")

Day 3 - Books Books and more books. I got lots of second hand craft books from Amazon. Some I'd wanted for ages....they've given me so much inspiration now I just need to get on with it!! I'm going for a face cloth in this one...primarily as I ahve all I need ot get on with it!

Day 10 Wonderful day out at YSP - seeing Wave and also the Rob Ryan exhibition. I love his papercuts.

LittleR loves the semi naked rabbits... "Mummy look the rabbit has no pants on"

Day 13 - Unlucky for some but not us. We had a wonderful child free day together, starting in Leeds (after nursery drop off) with a spot of shopping (a skirt for me - which reminds me of one I had 25 years ago!) and ending with a really lovely lunch here. It was brilliant and just what we needed.

Day 20 - I love it when the girls are able to play nicely together (by that I mean without arguing and without covering the house in pen/paint/glue)...the toys were having biscuits with their tea...Biggest girl obviously leads the play but now Littlest really tries to join in too.

Day 23 - I had my hair cut. I had 30cm cut off. I like it when I have a hair cut that you can't not notice.

Day 24 - I was going to make a cake but didn't have enough butter (Doh!) and couldn't go out as the girls were in I hatched a plan for a challah. It was very yum!

Day 27 - I made the bestest (even if I say so myself) beef stew. I think it was the mushrooms that did it (or the half bottle of very nice wine that went in it as well!!). I love my Le Cruset shallow casserole now I've gotten used to cooking in it. I want some more cast iron cookware!

Day 31 - We had a most excellent day out at Fountains Abbey. I've got family membership of the National trust and even though there are loads of places to go in Yorkshire we always end up here. mostly because it opens at 10am (I'm looking at you Beningborough Hall at 11am!!!) and does the most excellent cakes (cheese scones and fat rascals) and lunches! There's an excellent circular walk around the abbey and foundations so you don't have to turn round at any point and decide to come back. It was a beautiful Autumnal day and LittleR was free to run round until she couldn't walk any more. It really is the best exercise to push a toddler up a massive hill in a buggy.

Day 32 - sometimes it really is about the little things. Our peg bag went to the great peg bag graveyard in the sky the other week. The ABO had a fit of pique on the muddy grass with our overfilled old peg bag and promptly threw it in the bin and transferred the pegs to a (now very exclusive) carrier bag. I had grand plans to make my own but as I've a HUGE list of things to make and am no where nearer to completing them let alone adding a new on to the list I went to the next best place. Etsy. Behold my new and very jolly oil cloth peg bag from KTCreates4u.

Day 33 - The ABO is on the early shift this week. Sometimes he's back at lunchtime (after leaving at 4.30am) but it's a busy week and today he wasn't back until after 5pm. The girls and I had a lovely day together, I was able not to be a shouty mummy. It was fab. We fed the ducks (in the rain) at Golden Acre Park, jumped in some muddy puddles and then went out for lunch to Pizza Express for a treat. In the afternoon the girls played beautifully (a miracle for me not to act as referee), then watched Frozen with popcorn and I made some (as yet untried) chilli jam. Don't worry it all went down hill the next day, but hey, I was non-shouty for an entire day and it was really noticeable - well to me at least!

Here's hoping I blog again in the next 35 days! Its going to be an interesting couple of weeks as we've got half term to look forward to! I'm also looking forward to commenting on your blogs too.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Optimism on another 100 days

I thought a good way to continue on my Autumnal optimistic outlook was to have another go at 100 days project. (We've had a bit of a shaky week as the ABO walked in on a burglar early on Sunday when getting up for work. Anyway we're all fine and we're doing our best to put it behind us). I did this last year in the run up to the Tour de France start in Yorkshire which ended on my birthday weekend.

Serendipitously, 100 days from today is Christmas day. Which is a good end point.  So, the plan is to try and find at least one happy thing in my day every day for 100 days. I'm hoping focussing on positive things will give me some perspective and make me appreciate the big and the small. I'll pop in here and update every now and again.

Monday, 14 September 2015

The year in books :: September

Once again I’m a bit late this month. It’s been steady progress for me reading wise …
Firstly I read Tana French’s ‘The Secret Place’. I’m now waiting for her to write a new book. I enjoyed this but perhaps not as much as some of her other work. The story is set in a boarding school so with the overtones of Mallory Towers in my head I set off on the journey. This time we revisit Frank Mackey through his daughter Holly - who attends the school where the unsolved murder has occurred. I found the story and excellent read but I was a little bit disappointed with the ending. Just a little. Just me?

Secondly I read the second book from Tony Parsons in his new guise as a crime writer. I enjoyed it. It wasn’t too taxing with too many plot twists and turns to remember, the story trundled onwards interspersed with the development of his main character Max Wolfe. I think this series was set to be a trilogy but I imagine that if they sell well there could be more.

For September I plan to read The Magpies – Mark Edwards and a huge number of craft books as I’ve just ordered 5 from Amazon’s second hand bookshop!!

Joining in again with Laura

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

La Rentree

Did you know that the French (and the Italians) have a word for this time of year? La Rentree (il rientro) is the autumnal time for going back to school. In these countries it's more than just the return to school. Often it's the return to work after the extended summer holiday (that they still seem to have for 2 weeks in August in Italy where every man woman and child seems to go on holiday and everything closes!).

I think it's a good word to describe this time of year. BigR returned to school on Monday (with labelled uniform!) and we start to settle into that autumn routine. It's a time for birthdays and for plans. And for stationery of course. It's a time when I feel relentlessly positive, a fresh start, a new moment. even the darkening evenings don't squash my perky mood

I'm more than ready for Autumn. We had a really good summer but this Autumn feels like a new year. LittleR is much better and things can continue in more of an even keel. 

I've been making plans:

  • things to do (places to go - I want to see the poppy exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park)
  • things I'd like to do in the house (including sorting through the epic number of toys and actually getting some out of the house, probably under the cloak of darkness), 
  • things I'd like to make (food and crafty stuff)
  • things which need to be done (replace a window - ugh!)
So my newest plan is to make a shawl for myself and knitted dolls for the girls from a most excellent book by Jane Bull

I've bought the wool for all the projects....and am itching to get going. 

I've already gotten in a knot with the biggest Titus skein. I'm also totally confused by the pattern. Turn the work 90 degrees clockwise and knit into itself? Might as well be in gibberish! Ah well I'll get there eventually. It's a good job Autumn and Winter last a long time!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Eleven Random things

  • This is an exercise in procrastination. I’m very good at these things. The more pressing something is, the better my ability to avoid it becomes. I should be writing a teaching session about Quality Improvement for undergraduate healthcare professionals but I’m not. I have 2 days at work before I need to do it. Not feeling the fear yet.

  • Whilst I was queuing (for a substandard university) coffee. A woman rushed in and apologised for being rude to one of the coffee shop servers the day before. She couldn’t stop herself from explaining how terrible her day had been and how awful she’d felt afterward and how she’d not slept properly because she’d been so awful. I wonder what she said. Then she had to apologise for holding up the queue. I think she was apologised out after that.

  • I’m feeling the start of Autumn. It’s definitely dark when the ABO gets up on earlies (4.20am today – ugh). There’s a nip to the air and the back to school stuff is in the shops. I love this time of year. It seems like the New Year to me, time to make lists and get stuff done. I feel energised and ready to buy new stationery. There’s nothing like a new pen and a notebook to get the creative juices flowing. At least that’s my excuse (see point 1!).

  • The start of Autumn also means I’ve got birthday preparation anxiety. BigR is 6 in a couple of weeks. I’ve ordered bits and bobs for the cake. It’s a ‘Frozen’ theme. Again. For ease the party will be done for us in a nightmarish soft play place a couple of weeks later. She’ll love it. In fact her social life is better than mine with no less than 3 parties that weekend. Will my nerves take it? She’s written a (long) list of things she’d like for her birthday including sparkly shoes (check), hello kitty stuff (check), a unicorn beanie boo (The eyes on beanie boos. is it just me? Hmm I’m not sure about them) and a real mermaid that swims (unlikely!).

  • We (using the royal we here, the ABO did the graft) redecorated BigRs room. I bought the paint and chose the curtains (and helped clear out the junk!). She’s overjoyed to now have an ‘Elsa room’. We’re lamenting over ever painting the room pink as it was blue before she was born.

  • There’s nothing like DIY and specifically flat pack furniture to bring out the worst in me. It’s one of the few things we argue have discussions about! Usually because we've hjad some 'Chuckle brothers' type moving shenanigans (to me, to you) before we get to the assembly! We’re quite good at flat pack stuff but the new bed frame almost defeated us. If Ikea made normal bed sizes we’d have bought it there. Still the instructions said it would take 50 minutes. There were 4 main pieces and the slats. Three hours later we were still trying to stick it together. The old bed base had been rained on so there wasn’t even the option to give up. Finally, it was done and with a little time before bedtime.

  • Apart from one room our entire house is now blue or green.

  • I’ve gone all retro and am reliving my youth making friendship bracelets. Bizarrely, when my friend saw the one I made for BigR she wanted one! I’m much better at doing them now than I was 25 years ago!

  • I’ve been enjoying digestive biscuits smothered in cream cheese topped with strawberries. Yum!

  • I’ve come across a Japanese word which I really relate to ‘tsundoku’. The act of buying books and letting them pile up unread. I really need to read the books I have on my kindle before buying any more!

  • I managed to grow a carrot. And some apples. Obviously we’re now self-sufficient with 5 apples, 2 carrots and a couple of radishes. Still there’s some tomatoes to come. If they ever ripen!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The year in books :: August

So the summer continues apace. July was a good reading month for me in both volume and quality.

I loved Tana French's 'Broken Harbour' - I really like her characterisations. So much so I've ordered The Secret Place for this August's reading (....I know, I know I'm a bit late...I may have started it). I'm also planning to read The Magpies by Mark Edwards, I'm just not feeling Kate Atkinson yet!

I read the fabulous 'I let you go' by Clare Mackintosh. A first book from a new author and a brilliant thriller (and part of the Richard and Judy book club- that might put some people off - not the reason I read it but it wouldn't put me off).
For me, this was as good as 'The girl on the train'. I loved it. It kept me guessing and the end wasn't a let down! What more can you ask for?

My third book this month was 'Bad Mother' (Esther Walker). I really love her blog Recipe Rifle and her other writing so it was opportune I saw this when browsing kindle books, it's just so easy to click 'download now'. She writes honestly about her experience(s) with her young children and with humour (and a bit of swearing). It was worth the 99p!

As a change to normal bedtime shenanigans, we're trying out chapter books for BigR. The first being 'Charlotte's Web'. Now, it's as good as I remember but....I've read ahead and I don't remember the denouement being as heartbreaking. Maybe not the best thing for bedtime!! The next one I think we'll go for is 'Stig of the Dump'.

I've been reading some of my birthday presents too. Of course these are food related. I was lucky enough to receive Diane Henry's 'Cook Simple', Rachel Allen's 'All Things Sweet' and the River Cottage Preserving book. Plenty for me to try out soon.

Joining in with Laura

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Normality, preserves and a miracle

And so. One long exhale. I like to start writing as if we were mid conversation or that comfortable ease of good friends meeting up after a long absence. It’s been a strange few months but we’re getting there. BigR finished her first year in school – how did that happen? We managed to get away on holiday and it was the break (or as much of a break as it can be with small children) we needed.  LittleR has been back to nursery and I’m back to work. Normality strikes. I’ve been craving it but now it’s here it’s a little odd. We’re living with the shadow of the illness; it lurks there and we carry on as usual waiting for crisis. I’m sure the waiting will become normal too.

July was busy month. Birthdays (mine and the ABO…who reached that milestone), holidays, school ending, hospital visits and what seemed like endless rain!

I’ve been using my new (birthday) dish – I’m not used to cast iron cooking and as such I’m managing to stick stuff to it every time…I’m sure I’ll learn eventually! Its current home is on the worktop as it’s too big to go in the cupboard. Maybe I should rationalise some of my other cookware? Even then I would need to chuck out every other pan we have – it’s a big casserole!

In other news I made jam. Nothing exotic. Plain old strawberry. It set! It tastes nice! I call it – “a success”!

I’ve been reading a lot. But I should save that for my 'The year in books' post.

Never one to be left out, BigR is in competition with her sister for hospital appointments. We’re now a ground and tree nut free family. It took 5 years and 8 months for her to have a (big) reaction but now I’m panicking what’s in her food! I’m sure I’ll relax about it soon!

The garden survived our holidays but the torrential rain since we came back made mowing the lawn difficult. In the end I had to cut it when it was wet. Took ages and made me cross but now looks more passable.

The clematis (who shares its name with LittleR) has been resurrected! I have no idea why after growing well and producing one flower it went brown and crispy or why it suddenly decided to regrow. In any event, I’m a happy girl.

(I hope to catch up with all your posts in the coming days.)

Friday, 3 July 2015

The year in books :: July

Yes, I finally finished The Apologist. I actually really enjoyed it. The premise being that Mark, the lead character feel he needs to atone for all the bad things he's done in his life (from giving a restaurant a bad review to how badly he treated his first girlfriend) and his apologies are so heartfelt he's recruited by the United Nations as their chief apologist....

This month I also starting reading the next in the Tana French series of books "Broken Harbour". Although that'll be extended into July it's looking good so far. I really enjoy her characterisations and I'm intrigued to know whodunit!!

I decided I'd save the new Kate Atkinson until we (hopefully) go on holiday and also have another Rachel Abbott "Stranger Child" and a set of three short stories by Simon Kernick to keep me quiet this month....obviously this is subject to change on my whim!!! I migth also get the last Tan French book too. Need to have plenty of reading matter to choose form on holidays.

Last month, I also said I'd be talking about other things I have been reading. Well, for work I've been working my way through "Transformative dimensions of adult learning" and "Learning as Transformation" both by Jack Mezirow. It's as accessible as it sounds, although the concepts are interesting I'm finding the book itself tough going!
More to my taste is my bedtime leafing through Tender vol I (Nigel Slater) and Hugh FW's Everyday Veg. The cauliflower and chickpea curry looks very good (and doesn't involve the oven on these hot days!).

An aside - (whilst browsing for new books on my kindle the other day I was delighted to see the new Robert Galbraith book is out in October. It'll be here in no time!! That's October sorted then!)

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Ten things :: June

Here we are at the end of the month. I'm counting down to our (hopeful) holiday, the end of the school year and the end of the medication for LittleR. Hopefully normal life and nursery can resume soon. I need to be more positive I think.

:: It's exhausting trying to work in the evenings when you've managed a 2 year old's flighty temperament particularly when the work you're trying to do is as riveting as mine. Actually, the work is really interesting but I've reached the end of the line and need a break. I'm hoping to get one solid publication done before our holiday. That's the aim anyway.

:: The British Summer is here. I think it actually might be too hot. Well, we're experiencing 2 days of 28-30C in Leeds then, I expect it'll rain and normal service will be resumed.

:: I cannot believe it's nearly the end of the school year. We have sought and obtained a green T shirt (more difficult than it sounds) for BigRs class sports day tomorrow afternoon. It seems they position the parents in the direct sun. For hours on end whilst small people 'throw long pointy sticks' ("what's that called again Mummy?"..."Javelin?") I'll look forward to that then!

:: To make sure we make the most of the weather, we had another BBQ yesterday. In the last 3-4 years we've had maybe 3 BBQs but decided earlier this year to invest in a gas BBQ. Now there's no stopping us. I think this is the 4th BBQ in 2 months! I made some burgers and bought some sausages - standard BBQ fare.The ABO has plans for doing a whole fish now!

:: The garden is looking pretty good even if I say so myself. It could do with a bit more planning rather than chucking it in and seeing what happens (aka hoping for the best!) but most of it is looking pretty good so far. Let's hope it can continue into the later summer.

:: Somewhat disappointing is this year's strawberry haul. I'm not sure what's happened but lots of the strawberries have turned white and hard rather than ripening. We shared the only one suitable for human consumption yesterday. Fingers crossed for a few more. Still our peas and runner beans are looking good. And then there's a late show for the sunflowers, no buds yet but I'm still hopeful!! And of course we still have some apples on the tree.

:: One major success (for me at least) was the fact I grew a radish! Yes just the one but it was peppery and delicious. There are potentially some others on the way - possibly even enough for a salad!  I've tried radishes for the last 2 years and finally appear to have gotten somewhere.

:: There have been a few sweet treats. My parents visited and brought treats from Betty's.
I have made a cherry cake and rocky road (how easy is rocky road? -I'd assumed it was a dark art!). Now I'm planning my birthday cake. Hmmm...what to make?

:: I treated myself to some supermarket peonies. Finally, I found some on offer. I love how they take ages to open and unfurl and then are suitable blousy and frilly.

:: We took the girls to Abbey House Museum one Saturday afternoon. It's a great place to look round, particularly if the weather's bad and the cafe's open. They have one area set up as a Victorian street then the rest of the museum is devoted to toys and games from throughout the ages. Of course the girls' favourite part is where they can make pretend tea parties...of course they can't do this at home because they don't own any cups/plates/jugs/coffee pots or play food.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

In my head

There are lots of things in my head at the moment. Some of which are easily shared, some not so. It's still hard living with a background of worry. I'm working on papers and research plans in the evenings to make up time for not being in the office work. But...

:: The sun has been shining which has improved my mood (and the girls too) no end. We go outside to play at least twice a day. I attempt to stop the smallest girl picking every flower in the garden and mostly act as umpire (well football season is finished...) over who wants what toy...

:: The garden has taken shape nicely, quite by chance one bed is full of only purple, and blue and white flowers. Anyone would think I'd planned it that way - it's just a fluke. I'm usually of the mindset of shove it in and see if it grows!! I'm loving this allium - wonder what it'll look like when it's fully open?

:: I'm wondering why on earth a Nobel prize winner would be such a fool and say what he did and then pass his gaff off as a 'joke'. There's plenty of people not laughing. Sexism is alive and well and in a lab near you. It's nearly 20 years since I started my PhD - you'd have thought things might have changed but I know that the 'leaky pipeline' is alive and well and no thanks in 2015 to a man who  makes comments like that. I could go on but I may spontaneously combust.

:: I've been baking. Tonight there's a cherry cake in the oven. Earlier this week I made scones. I think I may have found a super scone recipe (better than Mary Berry's) here. I think it's the use of strong flour that makes the difference. Very yummy even though I didn't have any clotted cream.

:: I'm struggling to think that in a month it'll be the school holidays an BigR will have completed her first year at school! How did that happen? We're having to plan her birthday party now as she's 6 the week everyone returns to school and the invitations need to go out! Eek.

:: I went for a lovely day out with a friend, her new baby and LittleR to Harlow Carr. We had a delicious (birthday) cake in the Betty's cafe there and a super walk and put the world to rights. The alliums were beautiful...

I love the meconopsis - fancy this in my garden next year...

:: One of the clematis I've been growing has suddenly turned brown and crispy. I'm very sad. I've plants with the name of both my children in the garden and neither are up to much this year. Maybe I'll just buy a new one!!

:: I joined the bandwagon and got the Orla Kiely jars. Not used them yet but they're there...ready...

::  I'm planning the ABO's birthday. It's a significant one that ends in a zero. He did so well with mine a couple of years ago I've got to get it right. It doesn't help we'll (hopefully -small child depending) actually be on holiday for it so some of the gifts need to be light enough to tarvel with. Maybe I should make a list?!