Wednesday, August 30

Birthday Breakfast

Happy Birthday to me!
(Photo taken with my fab-tastic new camera). Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 28

Sunday Scribblings: Monster

The Cake Monster lives in my house. He is four feet tall, covered in pink, fluffy hair, and carries an oversized sequinned handbag in the shape of a cupcake (to keep his supply of lemon and poppy seed muffins in).

As his name suggests, he is rather partial to the odd fondant fancy or Victoria sponge. His love of cakes also means that he is rather on the... ahem... cuddly side. In fact, it's been getting more and more difficult for his very close friend Mr Muffin Monster to cuddle him recently, especially since he discovered the delights of the organic dark chocolate brownie.

He lives in the kitchen, in a special monster hole behind the cooker where he gets maximum exposure to any cake fumes that might be disseminating from the oven. He's made his hidey hole quite cosy. He's put up pictures of his favourite cakes (cherry bakewell, cream horn and coffee and walnut) from Monster Cake Monthly. He's very houseproud and can often be found giving his collection of novelty ceramic gateaux a good going over with a feather duster.

Although he's quite a homely monster, he always ventures out of the hidey hole whenever he feels there is a cake situation in the household.

When I'm feeling down, he creeps up behind me and whispers in my ear. "You know what'd make you feel a bit better, don't you? A nice bit of cake. What about a bit of passion cake? Go on love, it's your favourite."

He's there on PMT days, encouraging me to satisfy my sugar craving with a slice of pecan pie, a flapjack or something equally guaranteed to give an instant high. "Come on chick, let your hormones loose on this apple strudel."

If friends are coming for a cuppa, out he'll come. "Ooo, you haven't seen them for ages. And you know how mad they are for a lovely lemon drizzle."

There is only one cake he does not like - the iced bun. At the mere mention of that-which-shall-not-be-named (as he refers to it), he explodes into a violent rage, which is very out of character for one so generally soppy "It's not a chuffin' cake," he screeches, "it's a ruddy bread roll! A ruddy bread roll with a bit of blinkin' icing on it. A tarted-up bap, that's all it is."

And we must never, ever mention the D.I.E.T. word in his company again. I won't go in to details about what happened last time, but let's just say that I've never seen anyone actually set fire to a picture of Carol Vordeman before.

See more, and probably much more sensible, Sunday Scribblings.

Thursday, August 24

I'm in shock

I've just had a goodbye presentation/speech-type thing at work and I got absolutely loads of presents.

Time for a list...

  • Four bottles of real ale
  • A box of G&B chocs
  • Make-up bag from Accesorise
  • Two groovy bookmarks
  • A really posh pink pen
  • A carrot and walnut cake
  • Retro flask
  • Cupcake cookbook
  • A glittery corsage
  • Box of Neale’s Yard goodies
  • Cool wine bottle stopper

    All wrapped in pink sparkly paper in flowery, glittery bags.

    And they made me a poster of some cupcakes with my head on them, which I will attempt to scan in later.

    Aw, I feel all fuzzy.
  • Tuesday, August 22

    My first Haiku

    I stumbled across One Deep Breath today, so I thought I'd have a go at writing a haiku. I have never, ever written a poem before, so apologies in advance.

    This week's theme is music.

    Drum roll please...

    The song that wakes me
    Gets into my head all day
    My personal soundtrack

    Er, needs work, I think.

    Friday, August 18

    Sunday Scribblings: The Inner Life of Pets

    (Evil) Zebedee’s story

    The smelly, hyperactive one gets all the attention these days. She’s so needy with her constant running, jumping, sniffing, panting, licking, barking, growling and drooling.

    But they don’t know who’s really the boss. Look at this photograph – they made that kennel just for her, even put her name on it just to rub it in. But I’ve taken it over as my evil headquarters – all it took was a few scratches on the nose. She’s such a wimp.

    I love it when they go out – especially when they take that smelly, hyperactive thing with them.

    As soon as the door shuts, I retrieve my papers from their secret hiding place (strategically and cunningly placed just inside the velcro opening at the back of the pink velvet chair).

    I call the boys round. There’s Naughty Cat (effeminate but with a wicked mastermind), Naughty Cat’s brother (looks just like me, only smaller and a lot less evil), Evil Cat (all black, all evil), Nasty Cat (big scary ginger tom with his… er.. big scary ginger manhood still intact), Friendly Cat (outwardly purry yet inwardly depraved) and his nemeses Unfriendly Cat (looks the same, not as friendly, just as depraved).

    We spread the papers all over the dining room table – and get on with planning mankind’s destruction. There are maps of the world, with little red stickers on the bits we’ll take over first.

    There are the plans for the giant cat food factories that we’ll build when the revolution comes, producing an endless supply of delicious delights for cats everywhere. Never again will we have to wait until for ‘Friday treat’ time to get a bowl of tuna.

    Those that have been bad to us in the past will work in the factories.

    That grumpy neighbour who shouts at me when I’m using my favourite toilet (the one with lots of flowers in)? He’s in the tuna gutting department.

    The girl who picks me up when I’m trying to sleep? She’s assistant chicken mincer.

    That small, crying child that tries to stroke me backwards? He’s in canning.

    And that smelly, hyperactive thing – she’s the one-woman fish-innards clean-up team.

    Bouncy Cat, such a pretty boy with his small head, big green eyes and ever-swishing tail, acts as a decoy. If they come home early, they’ll always stop to pet him (they are *so* obvious), giving me the chance to swiftly put everything away, disperse the gang and be innocently curled up, purring away on my pink throne, by the time they open the lounge door.

    Little do they know that I, with my evil genius, will soon be leader of all the world. Evil Zebedee’s Empire is just a whisker away.

    More pet tales here.

    Thursday, August 17

    Presents I would like for my birthday

    Only 13 days to go - you're probably wondering what to get me.

    This camera
    All these lovely books
    Aveda things
    Neal's Yard things
    This coat
    A new puppy/kitten/bunny/baby
    World peas

    Mooncup Moments

    When the Mooncup comes out, I go a bit bonkers. This is a summary of last night's events:

  • Fell over the step going into my kitchen. Fell over it again 10 minutes later.
  • Lost my glass of wine, then found it in the garden.
  • Sobbed for 15 minutes at the thought of the having the dog put to sleep when she's old (she has just turned one).
  • Turned on the water butt to fill the watering can. Forgot about it. Remembered 15 minutes later. Water butt now almost empty. Collected rainwater now in drain.
  • Made a banana bread and forgot to put a) the sugar and b) the spices in it.

    No wonder they used to isolate menstruating women in ye olden dayes.
  • Monday, August 14

    Philomena cakes

    To brighten up this gloomy August day.

    James, have you eaten them all yet?

    Happy to combat the SAD

    I’m feeling really optimistic. Usually at this time of year, I feel a sense of dread starting to creep into my soul, as the air gets chillier and the darkness arrives a little bit earlier every day.

    I try to cheer myself up with thoughts of fairy lights and furry coats, woolly hats and winter walks, but when the clocks go back and the darkness arrives, its oversized suitcase of rain, cold and gloom packed for its five-month visit, the SAD sets in.

    But this year, I won’t have to wake up before the sun even thinks about stirring.
    I won’t have to travel to work in the dark, then sit in an office until it gets dark again.
    I won’t have to walk the dog at 6.30am on icy January mornings.

    I’m going to spend time outside when it’s light and work at home when it’s dark.
    I’m going to work in cafes with my laptop, nursing giant mugs of herbal teas.
    I’m going to take the dog to deserted beaches and mountains when most people are at work.

    I’m abandoning a ‘career’ and a really good wage. I am choosing to be financially poor, but I’m also choosing freedom, flexibility, creativity, control – spiritually rich, I think they call it.

    Eeek. I can’t wait.

    Sunday, August 13

    Sunday Scribblings: Who else can I still be?

    My biggest dream is quite a simple one. I would like to be a mother. Well it should be simple and for most people it is. But because of my PCOS, I don't know if this will ever be a possibility for me. I pretend not to care, I avoid talking about it. When people ask me if I'm thinking about having babies, I say "Euch, no." If I'm totally honest, it breaks my heart every single day. It never goes away. Friends announcing pregnancies, women walking down the street nursing their bumps with a contented smile, mums in the park with their toddlers on little bikes and their babies in cute pushchairs - some days, it seems as if someone has put them there as a constant reminder that it might never be me.

    On a hopeful day, my attitude changes. I truly believe that it will happen one day. I will have my babies - three or four of them. We'll live in a house by the sea, just me and my family. A house that's filled with the smell of cakes baking, music always playing, paintings by the family covering the walls, dogs on the sofa, vegetables growing in the garden. Just me and my family in our little house by the sea.

    More hopes, dreams and Sunday Scribblings here.

    Wednesday, August 9

    I'm addicted

    To the MoneySavingExpert site. I especially love the forums where people post tips on all sorts of frugality. There's even a board for Green and Ethical money saving.

    Have a look.

    (She says, about to leave the office to go and join a very expensive gym).

    Monday, August 7

    50 things to do instead of watching TV (or shopping)

    I was just sitting here thinking, as I often do, about my whole anti-TV/consumerist, pro-simplicity/downshifting philosophy. I'm interested in creative, simple living and, as I was playing around with ideas in my notebook, I felt compelled to write a list. I challenged myself to find 50. Here goes...

    1. Go to the cinema - it's all about the experience
    2. Go for a walk somewhere beautiful
    3. Cook a meal for someone you love
    4. Pop into your neighbour's house for a chat
    5. Get lost in your favourite book
    6. Invite a friend around for afternoon tea
    7. Plant some seeds - watch them grow
    8. Bake a cake
    9. Write a letter to someone you haven't seen for ages - everyone loves getting post
    10. Lie on some grass, stare at the sky, let your mind wander (not recommended if it's raining)
    11. Listen to some live music
    12. Walk your dog - if you haven't got one, borrow one
    13. Go to the library and get lost among the shelves
    14. Have a picnic in the park
    15. Go to a museum
    16. Do a yoga class
    17. Go for a bike ride
    18. Put a CD on and actually listen to the words - someone's spent a lot of time on them
    19. Look at old photos and laugh at your dubious fashion sense
    20. Doodle
    21. Invent a new flavour soup (all you need is stock, your favourite veggies and whatever else takes your fancy)
    22. Visit a beach, paddle in the sea
    23. Phone someone you haven't spoken to in ages
    24. Dance around your kitchen to your favourite song (naked if you want - but make sure the curtains are closed)
    25. Play a board game
    26. Do rude things with someone yummy
    27. Grab some friends and have an impromptu game of rounders/football/other sporty-type activities
    28. Paint a picture - it doesn't have to be 'good', just create!
    29. Give your mind a workout a la Carol Vordeman with Sudoku
    30. Take photographs of things that make you smile
    31. Try your hand at knitting - start with a scarf for someone's pet
    32. Soak in the bath with a cuppa and your favourite magazine
    33. Go out for a pint - just the one, mind, don't want any nasty hangovers going on
    34. Grab a sketchbook and a pen and see where your imagination takes you
    35. Look at art
    36. Write a list of your favourite things - read it when you feel sad
    37. Catch some live comedy and smile until your face hurts
    38. Perform a random act of kindness
    39. Watch some live sport - cheer lots and loudly, even if it's just the under-16s local footy team
    40. Grow some vegetables
    41. Pick a comedy programme from Radio 4 and listen again - Little Britain started on there, don't ya know
    42. Try a fitness class you've never done before
    43. Read the newspaper from cover to cover (even the business bits)
    44. Go to the theatre
    45. Sign up for an evening class - our council offers everything from sculpture to Spanish
    46. Get an atlas and plan your dream holiday
    47. Bake a loaf of home-made bread - so satisfying and 100% nicer than anything from the shops
    48. Give someone you know a really big hug
    49. Sit still, in silence and just be
    50. Start a blog - make sure it's a bit more interesting than this one

    Friday, August 4

    I've entered a little competition

    You had to write a 100-word story, based on the image below. I won't win or owt, but I enjoyed taking part. My entry is inspired by Barry Island, where I took The Blod for a walk last night.

    Drum roll please...

    Gwyn met Dilys on a wet bank holiday in Barry Island, 1951. They shared salty chips on the seafront before the last bus home. They married a year later, their honeymoon baby concieved during a romantic rendezvous in a four-berth in Fontygary. A decade went and three more children came. Annual family Butlin’s breaks were all bonnie babies and knobbly knees, swapped for PacMan and the pirate ship by the ’80s when grandchildren arrived. In their seventies, their looks fading and motors slowing down, Gwyn and Dilys still show signs of their former sparkle – just like their beloved beachside town.

    Some loveliness for Friday


    Wednesday, August 2

    Tuesday, August 1

    The day I met The Hoff

    Spinsterella mentioned The Greatest Day of Our Lives in this post, so I felt compelled to share this beautiful experience with the blogosphere.

    After working at this glamorous location for the summer, a group of us had been travelling across the states on Amtrak. We’d been all the way from Washington DC to LA, stopping off at Chicago (windy), Memphis (Elvisy), New Orleans (jazzy) and some rubbish town near the Grand Canyon (scary).

    At the LA hostel, everyone had a story about what celebs they’d been spotting around the city.

    Some people had seen Jamie Lee Curtis shopping for vintage clothing in Venice Beach.

    Scottish Tony who worked at the pizza place had seen Madonna jogging passed the Hollywood sign, just seconds before Jill Dando rocked up to do a bit of filming for Holiday ’96.

    There was even a mention of Arnie-spotting through the window some posey gym in Santa Monica.

    We had been in LA for three days and, apart from going to watch the filming of a pilot sit-com staring some very dubious quasi-celebs, our time had been devoid of superstars.

    But all that was about to change. We were walking along Venice beach and bumped into two blokes from our hostel, looking rather pleased with themselves.

    “We’ve just seen David Hasselhoff wrestling a plastic alligator,” they said.

    It was 1995. Baywatch was big. We didn’t mess around with the details – we were off, racing up the beach to catch the action. It took us about ten minutes before we could see the famous yellow truck in the distance. We ran faster, desperate to see the bronzed Adonis in action.

    We got there just as they were packing up. The truck was there. The plastic alligator was flopped on the sand, looking like one of those novelty children’s lilos favoured in the pools of Benidorm.


    But then he appeared from behind the yellow truck: resplendent in his red shorts, mirkin poking out of the top of his whiter-than-white shirt. It was The Hoff.

    He looked like a man on a mission – to go home. He didn’t want to be bothered signing things and being nice to people and grinning for photographs.

    He didn’t have a choice. We pounced on him, ushered him toward the truck and got the shot – us, the Baywatch truck and The Hoff.

    He wasn’t happy. As soon as the shutter went off, he was in the yellow truck, charging up the beach – probably on his way to his mam’s for his tea.

    About two years later, my housemate was channel hopping and there was an episode of Baywatch on. Just as I entered the room, Mitch was doing the Big Daddy Splash on a very ferocious-looking croc.

    Looked much more realistic on the telly.

    (The next instalment of the Miss Meep Does America series of blog posts will describe The Day Someone I Knew Wanked Over Me on the Chicago to New York Sleeper – it’s a favourite tale that makes for very interesting dinner party conversations.)