About Me

My photo
I live in Kent with my husband, toddler Tilly (henceforth known as Monkey) and another baby due in November. We have two cats, Duncan and Lady Macbeth, and four chickens who kindly lay us eggs daily. We live in the picturesque seaside town of Broadstairs. I enjoy reading, knitting and cooking. I'm trying to be a bit 'greener' (not sure how successfully), and to be a gentle parent. Extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping don't freak me out, we use cloth nappies and try to follow some of the ideals of Attachment Parenting. If that sounds as if I know what I'm doing, I don't! I am also a psychotherapist with an interest in Focusing-oriented therapy, and I have a small private practice in the area.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Book Sharing Monday

Can we join Book Sharing Monday?! Before I do, these fantastic personalised bookplates arrived today from Etsy. You can't see very clearly but the image is of The Owl and The Pussycat. They are just gorgeous and I can't wait to put them in the Monkey's books. You can find Oiseaux here.

And our first bookshare is Splat the Cat, by Rob Scotton. I've chosen it because it is the first book that the Monkey has connected with. She squeals with delight when she turns the pages and sees Splat. I think it's because Splat bears more than a passing resemblance to our own Lady Macbeth (see top photo).

The story is about Splat's first day at school. He is very nervous and doesn't want to go, but he gets there in the end, bringing his friend Seymour the mouse. At school Splat learns that cats are AMAZING, they climb trees, drink milk and... chase mice!! Oh no, poor Seymour! You'll have to read the book to see how Seymour saves the day.

Splat's tail wiggled wildly with worry!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Tassajara Bread!

Following on from my previous breadmaking efforts, today saw me with the luxury of a day at home with DH to keep an eye on the Monkey, the perfect opportunity for my first attempt at the full Tassajara yeasted bread recipe. It's time and labour intensive but oh my! We've just had the first taste of a warm loaf with butter and organic jam and it is absolutely delicious. Much, much lighter than the bread I made with the Hovis recipe and the fast-acting yeast. I won't go into all of the details, but here's a few photos of the process. With this method you make a 'sponge' first by stirring some of the flour into the warm water, sweetening (I used molasses) and powdered milk. That mixture is left to rise:

You then fold in the salt, oil and the rest of the flour, turn it onto a floured board and begin to knead. Into the airing cupboard again...

It was amazing kneading this bread, it felt like a living creature!

For this recipe I used Doves Barn organic flour (about half and half wholemeal and white). Voila! Two loaves (1 x 1lb tin and 1 x 2lb tin) and six Monkey-sized poppy-seeded rolls.

Friday, 24 April 2009

From the Monkey House this week

With the sunny weather the Monkey at last gets to wear some clothes that were bought for her as a newborn, like this cute floral romper she has at last grown into (just checking her emails here in the pic)

Monkey has had a bit of a cold this week, the increased mucus has meant a few projectile vomiting incidents. And a lot more washing. If only she could mop the floor as well...

We walked to the duck pond and met these two, who were very vocal. Babe LOVES the ducks and goes "Ooooooohhhh" (in the manner of a rather camp queen) when we get there. Getting out of the house each day is an absolute must, especially now that she is even more of a handful. Cupboard doors are starting to get opened, there are hands in the cats' bowls, curiosity about the stairs and her new favourite pastime: emptying the contents of bags. 
It's been a pretty uneventful week; DH has been working long hours and I've just cottoned on to the fact that Monkey and I won't see very much of him at all during the week once we've moved to Broadstairs. Making new friends and sourcing a reliable babysitter will be a priority for me, even if it's just to go to a class or see a friend one evening a week. A couple of weekends ago we were walking down the High Street in Broadstairs, passing by the craft and wool shop, I gave DH a little nudge and wink (thinking, here I shall be spending some time and money!). Imagine my surprise when, a few shops farther down, I spy a brand new yarn shop! Selling Manos and Noro, would you believe? I've taken it to be A Sign that we are destined to live there. We are in limbo regarding our onward move. We've not heard any bad news, the house is still under offer and the estate agents are no longer marketing it, but we've heard nothing more about the owners' intentions, whether they've found another house to buy or are reconsidering the house they originally wanted to buy. Part of me wants to be creating Mood Boards for room ideas and sourcing new furniture on eBay, another part of me just doesn't want to believe it will happen in case it all goes wrong. Until we know more I suppose that's the safest option.
Signing off now... I rejoined Slimming World this week and as a Friday night treat there are diet friendly sausages, chips and beans in the oven!

Saturday, 18 April 2009


I've just spent Saturday evening cataloging my books on Library Thing (you can see my library in the sidebar on the right, and Monkey's too). DH was watching 'The Bucket List' which wasn't really grabbing my attention so I grabbed my laptop and squirreled away. I've really enjoyed it, and it's surprising to see how my book purchases in the last 2 years or so have been heavily weighted towards non-fiction. I always used to be a novel kind of a gal and now I just can't find the time to get into them. Understandably there are lots of parenting books, and my collection of craft/ knitting books is steadily growing. But I do so want to read a novel, a whole one, cover to cover, that would be soooo nice! Preferably on a beach. The only other hiatus I took from novel reading was after I finished my first degree in English Lit. Having been required to read between 2 and 5 novels a week for 3 years (light stuff, you know, like Homer's Iliad) I needed a break, although in actual fact I didn't really give up novels, I just switched to reading lighter stuff, lots of crime fiction writers like Sue Grafton and Patricia Cornwell. These are authors I still enjoy occasionally but I don't devour them anymore like I used to, too much violence and darkness.
I know a lot of my blog friends are equally passionate about books and it's something I can't wait to pass on to the Monkey. I haven't kept any books from my childhood and I really regret that now. Not that I know where I could have kept them all. I remember at primary school we used to have a book club of sorts. Every term a small catalogue would be handed out, we would place our order and bring in the money to pay the teacher. We never knew when the books would be coming, they would just suddenly be there one afternoon after we came in from playtime, sitting on the teacher's desk waiting to be distributed. I can recall the delicious agony of having to wait for my book until after story time, craning my neck to look at the titles and find my own book amongst the precariously balanced tower. 
Do you have a Desert Island book? On Desert Island Discs you get given the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare, but what else couldn't you live without? What could sustain you as you await rescue? I haven't got an answer to that myself yet, I think I'll go and trawl my shelves right now and see if there's a book I couldn't live without...

Friday, 17 April 2009


Tidy home, Tidy Mind? I found some lovely wicker baskets on special offer today, so now the Monkey's toys look much neater and she has a basket for her books.

For a while I've had the urge to bake my own bread, and this week my first loaf was created! I ordered the Tassajara Bread Book after seeing it on Soulemama's blog, however I haven't used the recipe yet because the measurements are all in American cups which have totally baffled me (so, American cups aren't the same as UK cups?). My first loaf was simply made from the recipe on the back of the Hovis wholemeal bread flour packet. I added a sprinkling of powdered milk and used molasses as the sweetener (from the Tassajara method). The loaf tasted great, here's Monkey having a nibble:

DH also liked it, and asked why we buy our bread from the shop?! It sounds silly but I didn't expect it to taste like Real Bread! But it definitely did. I made another loaf yesterday, it doesn't take much time at all, as long as I have a bit of baby-free time to do the kneading. I'm not sure how long it keeps for though? I found the loaves a bit cake-y tasting and heavy, not sure if they needed more kneading or a slight alteration to the recipe, but I look forward to trying the full Tassajara method when I have more time available next week.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

My little garden

Last week I went to the garden centre and bought the beginnings of a little garden! I got some herbs (parsley, rocket, coriander and lemon thyme), a couple of tomato plants, a beetroot plant and a couple of strawberry plants. I potted most of them up but now they are sitting on the patio and I don't know what to do with them next!? I also bought some seeds which are indoors doing rather less successfully, although I have got a few tomato seedlings growing. I also cleared the front garden, removing 3 huge bags of dried leaves, and planted some flowers in a pot. Our beautiful magnolia tree was blooming last week, perfect timing for selling the house, the flowers have all dropped now though.
House-wise, things aren't looking quite as bleak as we'd feared. Our vendors are actively looking for another house to buy, and we just need to be patient and give them time. We have a couple of potential buyers for our house and a few offers on the table. We should be living beside the sea at some point in the summer, whether in the new house or temporarily in the holiday cottage. DH has booked time off for Folk Week in August, which we are looking forward to (not that we are particularly folk-y people but it's supposed to be great fun!). 
Lots of thanks to Daisie Davies, who sent Tilly and I a lovely package this morning containing some of her fab pegs- you can see more at her Folksy shop. We love them! And finally, warmest congratulations to Sarah and her family at Carried Family on the much anticipated birth of baby Rowan Hannah. Welcome to the world, Rowan!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Update, Easter Weekend

It has been a weekend of highs and lows. Good Friday was wonderful, the sun was shining in the Thanet micro-climate (the weather always seems to improve as we drive down) and we went straight to the house for another viewing and to talk with the owners. The house was even lovelier than we remembered, we took lots of photos and sat by the pool (did I mention the pool?!) while their children swam. Things seemed really positive, we were discussing what they would take and leave behind, and we left to walk down to the sea-front for some lunch. Fast-forward to Saturday afternoon, and a phone-call which left our spirits dampened. The vendors had been due to discuss terms and come to an agreement on a price for the home they wanted to buy, which had all sounded rather like a 'done deal', but when DH spoke with them they told us they had been unwilling to pay the amount that had been asked, considering how much work needed to be done on the house. So it seems they no longer want to buy the house, which also means they may no longer want to sell theirs! It's all very much up in the air and they are going to discuss their options over the weekend. She said it wasn't necessarily bad news for us as they could find another property or even move out and rent until they found something. But it does feel like a kick in the teeth, and I am wondering if they really want to move? On the one hand they *seemed* very happy in the house and have done a LOT of work on it, on the other hand, they have four children, two of their girls share a room and their baby has the tiniest box-room which barely fits a cot in it. So they do need more space. Oh I guess it's silly to speculate, it's just so difficult being in limbo and having to wait until after the Bank Holiday for more news. I am trying to be philosophical about it. There are of course Other Houses out there. And nothing bad has happened. Our lives are good and we are still happy, healthy and fortunate people, it's just a 'potential' something that may not come to fruition. 

Oh, and if we get the house we will have room in the garden for CHICKENS!!!!

Farm Pics

Tilly, Shelley and I went to the farm last week. I was hoping to see some lambs and we weren't disappointed. They were very cute. I was fascinated watching the lambs interact with the ewe. She didn't seem to want to feed them; the lambs were running about trying to get to the teats but the ewe just wouldn't stand still. What was that about?! I know the feeling though, having spent most of the weekend with a teething babe latched-on, I sometimes wish I could do the same! 
How gorgeous is this pot-bellied pig? I was so pleased when s/he wandered over for a close-up.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Hold on to your hats!

I am floating on a cloud of excitement-anxiety-adrenaline-disbelief! For a while now we have had a plan to leave sunny Sidcup and move to the Kent coast permanently at some point in the future. It seems that the future is now! DH and I viewed, and fell in love with, a house last Saturday, made an offer on the spot and then spent the next few days panicking and rushing around trying to get our house on the market. Fast-forward to today and we have an approved mortgage AND an offer on our house. Fingers, toes and everything crossed that...
My little girl will be brought up by the seaside; 
We will be within walking distance of the beautiful Viking Bay (and, more importantly, Morelli's ice cream parlour);
Duncan and Lady Macbeth will no longer be persecuted by the evil-est ginger cat that ever there was.


Thursday, 2 April 2009

March In Review

March In Review
Original idea courtesy of Mon at Holistic Mama

Summary (3 sentence max)
A reminder of how quickly things change, enjoying the first rays of spring sunshine, baking and crocheting and getting out and about much more with the Monkey.

Learning new games that make the babe laugh (like 'Round and Round the Garden', which is apparently hilarious)

Struggling to control my weight.

Witnessing the Monkey's discovery of solid food.

An Insight/ Thought
I need to make more time for self-care, starting with regular massage.

Website/ blog find
I'm still undecided whether this is a Good Thing or not, but I've been Twittering.

Words (quote/ reading/ book recommendation/ 1 sentence review/ anything word-related)
Amigurumi- just because it's a great word.

Note to Self:
Read more, squirrel* less.

Favourite Tip/ Idea from Web
Helpful crochet tutorials from YouTube

Slice of home (a photo of a tiny corner of your home, or objects, that represent something about this month)
See photo above this post. This is a slice of our neighbourhood: meet Mancat, a beautiful ginger puss with (look closely now) a man's face. And not just any man: yes, it's Michael Gambon's face! Mancat has his own song, sung to the tune of Born Free:
"Mancat... a cat with a man's face
Looks down from a high place...
Mancat... "

* squirreling is how DH refers to the night-time hours I spend aimlessly Twittering, Facebooking, blogsurfing and otherwise occupying myself on the computer when the Monkey has gone to bed.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

DANGER: Etsy ahead

Oh wow, go and look at these. Just divine.

Fresh air and fantastic food

Poor Lady Macbeth got bit on the bum. Cue trip to the vets yesterday for anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. She perked up today though; here she is in action:

Monkey in the garden

Before I begin, I need assistance with some blog etiquette: when replying to a comment someone has left on your blog do you reply underneath the comment or do you go to their blog and write a message?

So, we've had a lovely day today. Monkey and I went with a neighbour to a playgroup in a local church. It was a nice group with lots of space and a nice safe baby area, and lots for toddlers to do/ play/ craft. I was expecting there to be a waiting list but they had spaces for Under 1s so Monkey and I are 'in'. We met another neighbour there and walked back through the park together, having a good natter. Her baby is just a few months younger than Tilly; she uses reusable nappies and from our conversation I gathered that we shared similar views on parenting. It's always good to meet likeminded people, I can sometimes be a bit snobby and careful about the people I chose to connect with. Not 'class' snobby but intellectual snobbery I s'pose, I just can't stand 'chavvy' people. Sorry! 

This afternoon I baked some apple & cinammon muffins, delicious! We ventured into the garden for the first time since Winter (!) and Monkey sat on the lawn watching the cats running around playing. Er, so how on earth does one stop a baby from putting twigs, stones, grass etc in her mouth?! I became quite inspired to do 'something' in the garden; I've got a couple of pots and I think I might plant some herbs. I tend to have the kiss of death where plants are concerned (or rather, the Cats of Death) but hopefully I can give life to something green!!! Yesterday we had a delivery from Abel & Cole, mainly because they had an offer of a free mixed fruit & veg box. I ordered some other bits and pieces and was not let down. Their eggs were fantastic and made lovely yellowy scrambled eggs, I had a lovely loaf of stoneground wholemeal bread and some of their homemade homous. I also ordered a whole chicken which was a complete revelation. It was only a pound or so more than the 'woodland' variety chicken I usually buy in Sainsburys or Tesco (free range are sooooo expensive), but when I cooked it this evening there was so much meat on it I couldn't believe it! I swear I got more meat from one breast than I usually get from the whole of a supermarket bird. I will be able to make two more meals from the meat and then stock for soup. Okay, that's the end of my Abel & Cole plug!
I blogged previously about my weight and yesterday I went to see a homeopath with a view to getting some help. I have a very limited understanding of how homeopathy works and have never seen one before. The consultation itself was 2 hours long and incredibly thorough. I was surprised that rather than focus on the health or body aspects of the problem our conversation centered mainly on the psychological: my hopes, fears, fantasies about how I look, how I want to look, what stops me from feeling confident in myself and in my skin. I felt like I'd been through the mill when I left, but quite hopeful that when she sends my treatment it will be of help.