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Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter baking

My mum always made a Simnel cake at Easter, from an early age I was taught the meaning of the different parts of the Simnel cake, and why there had to be exactly eleven marzipan balls on the top. This year I'd not felt inspired to carry on the tradition, but at the request of my family on Friday the baking started. Awake at 6am, I clambered out of bed and began.

By the afternoon Ellie was explaining to me the meaning of the cake, it's funny how these traditions pass down.

Though I might make cakes I've always said I can't do puddings. Ellie however has no such inhibition's. Inspired by a TV cooking programme earlier the week she announced she was going to make Easter pavlova complete with crystallized lemon.

By Saturday the creation was complete, and looked amazing.

Where I am cautious my daughter just goes for it (like her Dad) and I love that. Whilst Easter is not about cooking it certainly added to the celebration on Easter day.


Saturday, 30 March 2013

musical youth

when i was seven years old my dad got promoted. the promotion involved us moving from yorkshire to manchester. there he managed a team of people and within his team was an avid record buyer. periodically he would arrive home with a pile of records. like a kid in a sweet shop i would listen to the new sounds coming from the stereo and thumb through the pile of borrowed albums getting lost in the sounds and the images. i have no idea who this team member was but he certainly added fuel to the musical tastes of our household. from fleetwood mac to the saturday night fever soundtrack. from don mclean to abba. from billy joel to chic. we listened to (and recorded) them all. i had quite a wide musical knowledge by the age of nine. by the age of twelve i had my own music taste which sat very squarely with duran duran. i was an ardent fan who would watch or listen to any interview, bought magazines with them on the cover, wore the t-shirts and saw them live. i listened to them talk about their musical influences and vividly remember listening to john taylor talk about nile rodgers and bernard edwards of chic. talking to fellow duranies, i realised i was the only one who knew who chic were let alone what they sounded like. of all the tapes that dad recorded during that period there is one that was well loved, one that endured beyond all others, one that found its way into many of my cars. the a side was billy joel the stranger, the b side was chic c'est chic.

the memories hold so strong with the music and that tape that i still have it even though it now looks like this; unplayable, even in the old tape deck of my car.

at the end of a long day yesterday i sat down to find something to watch to unwind. i came across this documentary called nile rodgers: the hitmaker. i smiled when the first person on screen after nile rodgers was john taylor. i urge you to watch it. i guarantee if you think you don't know any chic music you will find that you do, and as chris stein of blondie says "the base line of good times became the foundation for modern hip hop." not bad for a band that started out as a disco outfit. have a listen and try and keep still, i dare you. 


Thursday, 28 March 2013

this morning

this song was the last track i heard on the radio before leaving for work. falling down the rabbit hole that is you tube i found emeli singing it acoustically. i love her voice, her record our version of events was without doubt one of my favourite records of last year. have a listen or if you perfer the original find it here.


Monday, 25 March 2013

weekend snapshot


saturday; snow, driving, appointment, culture, lunch with a friend, driving, filming family, dinner with more friends, wine, home.
sunday; wind, slept late, clean skin, bare face, holiday hair, warm house, washing, reading, friends for dinner, film, popcorn, clean bedding, sleep.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

ted talks

i remember watching this ted talk a couple of years ago, it's one of those talks that sticks with you, well it did with me. this week i received an email in my inbox which included a link to this very same talk. i watched it all again, with a smile. it reminded me again that our job in the creative process is to turn up and do the work. have a look, see what you think.


Thursday, 21 March 2013

a date with daniel

as i sit in the passport photo booth i realise how tired i am only by the images staring back at me. as i put my shopping into the boot of my car i realise how dirty it is only when the dirt rubs off onto my bags. as i sit at my desk eating my sandwich i realise my taste buds are tantalised only by the thought of a glass of my favourite chablis.

my mind and my life are full. tonight is the first night i have had to myself with nothing planned for what seems like weeks, in reality, two but it feels much longer. what am i planning on doing? ironing, my least favourite household chore. why am i planning on doing it? to get ahead of myself. the being booked up starts again tomorrow. 

this routine is all too readily repeated. so there are strategies. the wine has been bought and is chilling. skyfall has been selected as the film of choice to get me through the ironing pile. as a treat, flowers have been selected and displayed to arouse my visual eye. reeds have been turned to release aromatic oils in one room and scented candles have been lit in another. 

sometimes an evening of silently getting on with what needs to be done is all that is needed to make you feel better.*

happy thursday friends.


*as long as it's done with a glass of wine and daniel craig on the telly.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Life like a movie

This week is one of my busiest weeks at work in several months. Don't get me wrong, my work is never quiet, but this week it has ramped up to new levels. Today and tomorrow I'm working in London, rather than just 10 minutes down the road.

This morning the taxi arrived to get me to the station (I don't have time to get the bus) and as I walked to the taxi Ellie carried on down the road to walk with a friend to school. Today was lent charity day at school, so she actually walked off in a Crocodile onesie rather than school uniform. I looked wistfully back as I stepped in the taxi trying to get my work head in place. I felt like a scene from the movie 'I don't know how she does it' juggling two very different worlds. This sense became even stronger as at the station I stopped off to buy cakes that could look suitably homemade for the school cake sale on Friday that I will not have time to make.

But there the similarity between movie world and real world stops, as I'm not juggling as much stuff as Sarah Jessica Parker, and this doesn't happen every day.
Today within the dashing I've somehow seen God calling to me. Before I left this morning I read my bible for a whole 3 minutes. As I put it down I heard the whisper 'is that all the time you have for me today' , it's a question that's hung in the air all day. In the middle of one of the talks I heard today the slide came up in the middle of it which just said 'Slow down'. The conference was about education- in the middle of it I was nudged again about slowing down, of living differently, which so far has been the theme of the year.

At the end of the day back from London I was back into work, but I had to walk due to car issues. The cold air was refreshing, the space welcome.
Tomorrow morning the taxi is arriving again and I will stumble out of the door, thankful this is temporary,  and only wishing I had Sarah Jessica Parkers shoes.


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

eclectic weekend

this weekend i went fund raising for comic relief, was taken bird watching and baked a cake. just an average weekend. although it wasn't, i had travelled and spent it with friends and family, the shorthand of familiarity means it doesn't matter if you never get to the end of your stories or if multi-tasking too many tasks means the kitchen sink overflows. there is always laughter and lots of it.

this weekend started at jane and petes taking a group of kids out onto the rainy streets to do something funny for money and ended at my brothers celebrating st patricks day with a guinness inspired menu including a guinness and chocolate cake, i would highly recommend it. in-between there was a lot of socialising with friends and spending time with my nieces who are quickly becoming twitchers of the highest order. chatting to my brother i told him one of the funny for money things the kids had done was imaginary double dutch whilst wearing morph suits, that caught his imagination and we laughed heartily about it. pete filmed it so perhaps it can find it's way onto here but in the meantime here is the video i was shown as we were chatting, i knew the track but had never seen the promo, enjoy.


Monday, 18 March 2013

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

todays internal jukebox

in the shower this morning i started singing. as usual the song came out of nowhere. it's a song i don't know all the words to so i started out humming it first inserting words as they came to me. under running water i realised i had heard this song a few days earlier. saturday to be exact. saturday morning i was in a car with two of my nieces and my two nephews, from behind me the voice of my six year old niece could be heard, i turned round and smiled when i realised what she was singing. i smiled even wider when she couldn't pronounce ventriloquy. the thing about having young nieces and nephews is that it's a great excuse to watch all the family films long since forgotten about and to explore more recent releases. i was first introduced to tangled by my other two nieces but now all four of them share the love of it. i have to admit to it being a guilty pleasure for me too. the other film that is still on the song radar for them is nativity. yes, i know it's march. but when you hear your two and a half year old nephew coming downstairs from his bath time with his grandma heading towards snuggling up with his granddad singing sparkle and shine to himself, well, your heart would melt too. it being march, i can't quite bring myself to post the video oh why not? everyone needs a bit of mid week sparkle and shine whatever time of year don't they? 

happy wednesday everyone.


Monday, 11 March 2013

same time, different day.

yesterday i slept late. i awoke from my final doze with a start. i had dreamt a friend i was walking along a path with had lost her footing and fallen, i could see her lifeless body way below what appeared to be a rickety path through a rundown house, it was her house, i turned and shouted for her husband. at that point i woke up. it was not the best start to the day. not least of all because i never remember my dreams; if they are all like this, i'm glad. 

this morning i woke before my alarm went off. on a work day i'm always glad when that happens, it makes for a gentler start to the day. i read and then dozed. finally getting up i saw sunshine and bright blue sky but snow on the ground. having dozed too long i decided i didn't have time to get my camera. finally showered, dressed and ready to go i went to get my coat. passing the french doors in my lounge i was stopped in my tracks. birdsong. unusually loud birdsong. i took the time to look out the window but no birds were in view; an invisible choir beautifully singing to an invisible audience.

tonight i took the time to get my camera. today was an unexpected cold day for march, sunshine and snow flurries all day. the evening light might be different to this morning, indeed every day it is different. but the sun will rise again tomorrow and we get the chance to wonder anew again.

what a difference a day makes.


Sunday, 10 March 2013

snapshot of this week


this week has been busy. a work colleague welcomed his forth child into the world prematurely. mother and baby are now home and doing well but for our small team the work load doubled resulting in work days moving at warp speed

outside of work the choir i am part of had our first ever gig. we are a new choir who have only ever performed previously for friends and family. with our ranks being depleted due to illness and holidays we were understandably nervous but practices and rehearsals paid off. as we stood on stage behind a dark heavy curtain awaiting our announcement, i couldn't help but notice part of the curtain was held together with safety pins. that calmed me, knowing the audience saw a beautiful curtain, they didn't know it was held together with pins. i mentally pinned my safety pins on and put my nerves to one side. the announcement was made, the curtain opened, the lights shone so bright we couldn't see the faces of the audience, the piano started and we sung. and sung well. and quickly. it felt like i had entered warp speed again. if you had told me at the start of the year i'd be performing a queen medley that included bohemian rhapsody publicly i wouldn't have believed you but not only did we do that but we enjoyed it too.

making it to the weekend there was no time to relax. yesterday saw an early start as we headed to wales to see mum to celebrate mothers day. the weather might not have played ball but aside from grey skies and cold temperatures it was good to be together; to spend time and eat and chat together. oh, and if you can find any eighty-six year old dessert wine or if you have a family member who is friends with a wine connoisseur who is not only happy to share it with them but with you, i can highly recommend it. it finished off our mothers day meal perfectly.


Friday, 8 March 2013


At the start of this year I was challenged by various blog posts to think about a word for the year, of how I would want to define this year ahead. I decided at the time it would be dependence, as too often I'm too independent, trying to get everything done on my own without sharing my life around me with the people who love me.
It was one of those things that meant a lot in January, but by March it seems to have slightly faded from the forefront of my mind.
At work we have to change details for certain things every month, and at the beginning of February as I  sat and pondered what to use the word 'rest' came into my head. This was prompted by starting to think how I could live differently on a Sunday, and the importance of building in a rest day where life was lived differently.
Through February I have tried to make Sunday different, sometimes with more success than others, and have noticed how quickly I can fill time with lots of things to do, but actually the space to be slow and push the lists to one side has been releasing. Sunday is now longed for at the end of the week, the anticipation of being able to stop, as if I now have permission to do this guilt free.
Last Friday being the 1 March I had to reset my words, and I starred into space sitting at my desk not knowing what to put. Until February I've never thought of it being something significant or something that could have meaning, its always just been a job to do, but typing in rest every morning for February had reminded me of where I was trying to get to.

So on the 1 March I pondered, then the word 'peace' came into my mind. I thought I'd go for it, though at the time did not feel the need for the prompt of peace.
Last  Saturday I drove my husband's car into our drive wall. No one was hurt, apart from the car which is now looking very battered. Fortunately my other half has been very generous about the damage that has been done, but it knocked me.
At work one of my closest friends has not been well, that has left a noticeable gap. By Tuesday stress levels were rising, Wednesday family stuff felt overwhelming and by Thursday I was wondering if I would ever manage to put anything on this blog again as I wouldn't have anything to say.
Yet my readings the last two days have reminded me to rely on God, to be dependent. To-day as I typed in peace I realised how apt that word was looking for March.
So words. This week I have realised the importance of them, and how picking one word for a week, a month or even a year can remind you of where you want  to be and give you encouragement to get there.

And this week the winter early morning light has been a gift at the start of each day, as Em said spring is coming.

Happy weekend


Monday, 4 March 2013

it's coming

this weekend i noticed buds and flowers and enjoyed the sunshine. tonight was the first night i left my office later and didn't have to use my headlights. spring, it's coming, can you see it too?