Friday, 18 April 2014

Cartoon Moment # 4

Another gem from my book in the loo. What can I say....except that I totally excel at this!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A Little Sting

I enjoyed a deliciously decadent afternoon recently - it started with a fashion show, a cocktail and afternoon tea and progressed to prosecco and funny, deep conversations over pizza later. A really good day, which was all the more special because a) it was with good friends and b) not the way I normally punch in a Saturday. Maybe if I spent every Saturday quaffing pear bellinis, I'd be like just so over it and it would be sooooo boring....I doubt it, mind you, but maybe.

From time to time, one of us would proclaim out of the blue, "Check us out sitting here at 4 o'clock on a Saturday! Right now, I'd be doing the ironing/ cooking the dinner / pushing swings." Then we'd all laugh and nod and agree how we could so easily get used to this.

 Later, we pottered down the road, bumping into a few familiar faces, and then sat outside and sipped prosecco in the late afternoon sunshine, under patio heaters obvs - it IS Ireland after all.  When a mutual friend walked past and saw our little group, she came over to say hello, and when we started chatting she laughingly said something to me without thinking - just a careless comment, but it drained the pleasure from the moment and took the sparkle off my afternoon.

It was nothing really, a remark without malice, probably prompted by her more typical Saturday and the fact that we usually only catch up on Facebook these days. 'Are you ever at home with those kids?' she said breezily and then went on to chat about other things, but the truth is, I felt winded, kicked in the stomach, even though I know she meant no harm.

In that moment, it didn't matter that I was feeling a little fragile about our eldest going on her first school trip, or the three loads of laundry I'd ploughed through that morning, along with the guilt fuelled pasta prepared dish for the boys' dinner, and the bread and butter pudding for dessert.

It didn't matter that I've chosen to be at home full time with the children, and that it can all get a bit much sometimes, and actually I was really looking forward to a carefree day with friends. At that moment, I just felt like a crappy, selfish mother and the sparkle of the day all but evaporated.

I really had only myself to blame. My mum always told me that I'm too sensitive, I take too much to heart and I read too much into things.  I also realise that Facebook can create only a partial image of one's life - for me, Facebook is generally a happy place, and I tend to post the happy, fun or interesting stuff going on, while the boring, the grumpy, or the humdrum...not so much. Of course, there's plenty of that going on too....but I suppose sometimes it may not look that way.

 But why did I care? Why didn't I laugh it off, secure in the fact that I'm with my children more than most, in their faces more than they'd like, and that a break does us all the power of good. And anyway, weren't they enjoying quality time with their Da?

Because I think it touched on that insecurity  way down inside that so many of us share-the worry that we're just not doing a good enough job. Whether we're working full time, part time or are at home with the kids, we all make compromises. Personally, I've never met a mammy who's declared 'Everything's perfect! I've got the whole work and family thing totally sussed!' And thank God for that, because we'd all know she was lying through her teeth anyway.

 Circumstances, personalities, finances - along the way we make different lifestyle choices, but I honestly believe that ultimately, we all want the same thing - to meet everyone's needs as best as we can, and just keep the whole bloody show on the road. If someone falls off we scoop them up, but we keep right on moving. We keep 'er lit and we do our best every single day, because that's just what mammies do.

Of course some days are easier  than others, and some days we might make a right old mess of it, but thankfully we're in it for the long haul. And if we get a chance to take a break, for an hour, an afternoon, or a weekend then I think it's perfectly acceptable to grab it with both hands, and often a necessity if one's sanity is at stake.

And besides, once in a while, I find that it's lovely not to be Mammy and just be me, and forget about all the lists and responsibilities, as an afternoon slips into an evening, unshaped by bath and bedtime routines. Inevitably, I laugh and relax, my batteries recharge, and after a while, I start to feel a little yearning to be home again amidst my tribe.
So the next time someone makes a  remark, simply because they're having a different sort of day, or they're at a different stage of raising children, or they simply have an image on Facebook  that's a little more glossy than reality, I'll do my best not to let it fan those embers of mummy guilt. Instead, I'll just be grateful that I'm lucky enough to be getting a break, safe in the knowledge that I'll be making  lunches and wiping bums again soon enough!

Laters Lovelies xxx

Monday, 14 April 2014

Shoe of the Week #6

Strictly speaking, I know that this week's 'Shoe of the Week'  is a boot not a shoe, but let's just run with it.

I also realise that it's pretty late in the season to be reviewing a boot at Easter BUT there's bargains to be had out there peeps, and Autumn will roll round before you know it, and stress not cos I'll get to the sandals soon enough if you bear with.

I've been looking out for a daytime knee high black boot for a while and first spotted these chunky beauties on my friend Zoe who rocks them with skirts, leggings or skinny jeans. She also told me that they're incredibly comfortable, which is a great bonus given that they look so fab too.

 To be honest with you, I was sold when I saw the diamante stud strap which can be worn to the front or back, or not at all if you prefer. (AS IF-I'm a sucker for all things sparkly myself!). She told me that they're made by Daniel, and she bought them in ROJO so I popped onto their website and they were on sale! Normally £169, they were £99, which is pretty darn good for leather knee highs so all delighted with myself, I ordered them.

Alas, it was not meant to be. The boots arrived and excitedly I pulled them on, and they were a perfect fit, a match made in heaven....until I tried to get the zip up to the top. I almost cried, because they look like bloody wellies on the girl in that picture, and yet I could barely get them zipped up-we're talking muffin tops on my calves here-SO not a good look. I was gutted-to find the perfect boot AND find them on sale,only to be foiled by overly sturdy calves.( There's a country and western song in that, I'm sure of it.)

But if you love them AND your calves are a tad less well nourished than mine, then you're in luck cos they're still on sale, and no, I'm not saying that through gritted teeth AT ALL.  
 Later lovelies xxxx

Friday, 11 April 2014

It's a Rocky Old Road...

Cutting up the marshmallows...or, unlike me, you could just remember to buy the wee ones.
Broken ginger nuts...no jokes allowed.

Melt the chocolate-and sneakily lick the spoon.
Cut up the crunchies...no nibbling.

His sole reason for helping-craping the bowl.

Post licking the bowl .
Pop in the fridge for an hour or so.

Stick the kettle on and get stuck in.
You literally cannot beat a really good high quality Rocky Road. Honestly,  I never thought I'd say this, but it even gives my favourite traybake in the entire world-the caramel square- a run for its money.
 Easy peasy, no cooking, loved by everyone-it's the absolute bomb. There are various recipes out there-ones with cherries and raisins and nuts but IMHO this one is the best. Shamefully stolen from my bloggy buddy Sarah Miles' foodie website What Would Nigella Do? it's decadent and delicious-the only problem being that it disappears far too quickly.
Top tip-make sure to use good quality chocolate-none of that chocolate flavoured brown crap also known as 'Cooking Chocolate' allowed -it must be Cadbury's or similar. (It's paramount you agree with me on this, otherwise we simply can't be friends anymore...yes, I take my chocolate that seriously).
Now I think of it, it's perfect for using up leftover Easter eggs-last year we had 11!
Here's the recipe-let me know what you think.

Rocky Roads
  • 450g milk chocolate
  • 150g ginger biscuits, broken up haphazardly
  • 100g small marshmallows
  • 2 x 40g Crunchie bars, cut into 1cm chunks

How to make it

Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment.
Place the milk chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt slowly. Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and allow the chocolate to cool to just above room temperature, otherwise it will melt the marshmallows.
Stir in the other ingredients and press into the prepared tin. Place in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours or until set, then cut into squares and serve!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Cartoon Moment #3

Dude-Good Work! Another classic from my bathroom book that's just plain funny....They'd better not try this one round here!

PS Thanks for all the lovely comments here on the blog, on Twitter and on Facebook about my 'bit of a buzzkill'  post the other day. Your honesty and warmth means a great deal, and it was lovely to hear that I wasn't alone in feeling a bit inadequate at times. 
I do wonder sometimes if I'm too honest- I know some would say I am- but I've usually found that in life, when I risk the embarrassment and put something out there, I get tenfold back in return. Sometimes people even say that they feel exactly the same, and as those old BT ads used to say "It's good to talk."
Later lovelies xx

Monday, 7 April 2014

Is It Just Me?

 Do you ever get times when you just can't see the wood for the trees?
 When life seems so busy, a bit like those roundabouts when you were a kid, and suddenly it was going too fast, and you were feeling a bit panicky and dizzy but you didn't know how to make it slow down, and besides, everyone else didn't seem to notice, and you didn't want to make a fuss or have them laugh at you?
 Or was that was just me?

Well, for all sorts of reasons, I'm feeling a bit like that right now. Most of the time, I think that I manage to juggle it all...not necessarily with aplomb, you understand, but I usually keep all the the balls in the air...just about. (Roundabouts, now juggling- it's all about the metaphors today!)

Family life can get overwhelming at times- trying to meet everyone's needs, physical, practical and emotional is hard, and some days no matter what I do, I seem to get it wrong. I lose my temper while doing the homeworks. I only half listen to a meandering story from a child about school. I let the youngest watch TV for way too long. I ignore the fact that there is no way any child has had five servings of fruit and vegetables today, never mind seven but stick on a pizza anyway.

 Lists run endlessly through my head of all the things that need done today, tomorrow , yesterday, and instead of staying in that moment or enjoying a joke, I'm already skipping ahead to making lunches, putting on a wash or planning tomorrow's dinner.

And that just the mummy stuff. The other reel playing at the same time is the blog/ writing thing, which I try to squeeze in before 1130am when nursery finishes, between unpacking the dishwasher, and putting on a wash. Never mind if there's a phonecall, an unexpected visitor, or an orthodontic appointment because then I get nothing done at all. And yet, whether I do or i don't, why does it matter to me? Would anyone even notice if I didn't post anything for a month or a year? And even if they did, would they care? (I'm definitely getting a distinct whiff of self pity right now, but I'm actually trying to be pragmatic!)

 I look at my blog and it's grown and mushroomed, but not like others out there who have a niche, a USP, a marketable angle, a purpose. I'm crap at promotion and social media. The truth is that I SHOULD be sending out press releases about the MADS, tweeting about it, hooking up with other blogs , embracing Instagram, and Pinterest and Google + because apparently the most successful bloggers spend as much time promoting their blog as they do writing it. Whatevs.

But that's just not me. It's not why I started it, it's not why I write it, it's not what I enjoy. So why don't I just accept that and move on? Why do I tell myself that my reasons for blogging aren't good enough? That I'm not good enough. That it doesn't make any money so why bother. People write blogs for all kinds of reasons, but everyone likes to see their blog statistics and followers grow because we all want to be popular, don't we?

And yet to not care can be wonderfully liberating and there's a freedom in writing just for the sake of it, without censure or feeling the need to impress, or to be the best. Still,  for it to work at all, a blog needs to be up to date-some people post every single day, while I just about manage a few times a week, and, let's face it, you're only as good as your last post

I've also been trying to develop my writing into fiction over the last few months, which really means trying to make it to class, usually without my homework done, occasionally producing something pretty crap and always feeling out of my depth. The blog and the class- doing both but neither particularly well- I'm truly the Queen of Mediocre.

Part of the problem, and maybe you recognize this too, is that I try to squeeze too much in. Every pocket of time must be filled and utilized efficiently. That lull before the school run? Perfect for cleaning the bathroom, folding clothes or editing a blog post. Watching TV after the kids are in bed? I'll be doing a Tesco shop, answering emails, or tinkering with my blog. Driving anywhere? I'll be making appointments, answering phonecalls or just running through lists in my head. Its endless and exhausting and it leaves no time for just being still. I sometimes think that I might have forgotten how.

When did this happen? When I was younger I read endlessly, every chance I got, tearing my way through book after book. When did I put down the book and pick up the iPad ? Yes, it's true that much of the lack of time is down to where I'm at right now -the responsibilities, concerns and practicalities of running a a busy household are indisputable, but many are also habits I've formed, lists I've made, criteria I've set over time in my own head.

 And you know what? I don't know that anything I do will ever be good enough for that task master in there. I always end up failing anyway. Yeah, you may have written something worth reading, but sure you haven't made a home cooked meal all week or tackled that ironing pile. Or, so you made two shepherd pies and cleared out three wardrobes but hey, you haven't written a word or phoned a friend or said a prayer.

 So what's the point of trying to do it all? Maybe its time to set some of this shit down? To take a step back, and then just go sit outside in the sun. To wake up and smell the coffee, but then to sip over it slowly instead of gulping it back.

So there you go-I've bared my soul to you this Monday morning. And honestly, just doing that much has helped, even though it makes no difference really because I still don't know what to do. But maybe that's enough for now...and thanks for listening.
Later, lovelies xx

Friday, 4 April 2014

Shoe of the Week

Sooooooooo, you know all that ebaying (verb- to ebay) that I've been doing lately?
Well, understandably, I decided to treat myself to a new pair of heels, and Peeps, sensible they are not! But trust me, what they lack in practicality, they more that make up for in utter fabulousness.

I first spotted these beauties by Carvela in the House of Fraser just before Christmas. Actually, it was my BFF Maria who clocked them first -one minute she was chatting away, the next she was just standing, open mouthed, pointing at them silently. To her credit,  I think she knew at a glance that they had my name written all over them AND they were 20% off at the time.
As I lifted them up with a trembling hand, I remember feeling quite faint and it took all the strength I had not to buy them right there, without even trying them on, but then my sensible head rushed in shouting that there were still presents to buy,  and even with the discount they were still £80, and didn't I have more party shoes than parties to go to, and unbelievably, showing remarkable restraint I walked away, crying inside.

Fast forward to last week, and as I perused my usual shoe porn sites, while simultaneously catching up on the goings on in Albert Square, what should pop up only the one that got away! With 50% discount! Well, I'm only human after all, and given the fact that they were now a steal at £50 AND I'd just flogged my entire wardrobe on ebay AND I have a Holy Communion fast approaching, I knew it would have been an absolute sin not to.

Cast your eye for a moment over these little pieces of heaven- the glinting, golden, almost shy sparkle of them, the elegant, yet quietly sexy peep toe, that subtle hidden platform. If Cinderella were a real person and living in 2014, she'd totally be rocking these babies to the ball.

And yet, they're not a one night wonder either, because these multitasking beauties will work equally well on a girls' night out, with skinny jeans and a dressy top, OR with a cocktail dress for a Christmas party OR, and let's just pause for effect here, all the way to the MAD Blog Awards in London in September!  (Did I possibly mention before that I'm a finalist in two categories and could really, really do with your votes?.... Seamless, eh!)

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realise what an absolute steal they were- I'd even go as far as to say that adding them to my shoe stable has actually saved me money.
(Did you see what I just did there? That, my friends, is Master Level Shoe Logic.....I know I made it look easy but it takes years of practice, so don't try it at home.)

And if you do fancy a pair yourself, and quite honestly, how could you not, check them out here.
Happy Weekend Lovelies , Emma xx