Tuesday, August 24

Motivate me

Hello lovely people.

It's less than two months until I run the Cardiff Half Marathon to raise money for the Hardship Fund at Welsh Refugee Council.

I am slightly flabby, very unfit and pushing 35.

Oh dear.

Your money could help a creaky-kneed jogger to get fit enough to complete the course without collapsing. Just £10 will get her in her trainers and running on the old railway track, instead of slumped on the sofa with a cuppa and some cake. £20 could even see her wrapped up in a giant piece of tin foil with a big smile on her face at the end.

You can sponsor me here.

Please give anything you can to give me the motivation to get training. I don't think strolling around the park with the dog really counts.

You will be rewarded with good karma and feel-good vibes all day long.

Thanks in advance.


Saturday, August 21

The Meep Harvest Festival

When we moved into our house 2 years ago, we inherited a jungle of a garden with an enormous fig tree. Last year, I made fig and port sorbet, but never got much further as I was getting to grips with the whole newborn/toddler combo.

This year, I have been so excited watching the figs ripen and couldn't wait to crack on with some fig-related cooking. And first of all, fig jam. In fact, the first batch of jam I have ever made. Ever. And it tastes yum-diddly-umtious.

I've also been tackling those unharvested courgettes and have made some marrow chutney. And now it's hedgerow harvest time, we have gone apple and blackberry bonkers. I have a tart in the oven, a crumble in the fridge and the most amazing-looking kilner jar of blackberry vodka doing its thing on the kitchen worktop. Next up, rose hip syrup. I love August.

Monday, August 16

Muslim for a day

Although I don't follow any particular religion, I like a bit of pick 'n' mixing fom them all. I take a sprinkling of mindfullness from Buddhism, add a handful of Pagan seasonal festivals, a dollop of world peace from Baha'i, a dash of vegetarianism from the Hindus and Seikhs and a sprinkle of singing from the Welsh chapels to taste.

But 15 years of catholic education put me off organised religion for life. I'm a humanist instead. I believe in kindness, equality, empathy, gratitude and general mumpetness - all the good stuff that you get from religion, but without the divine power stuff.

Despite this, I find religion absolutely fascinating.

My friend H is I suppose what you'd call a reformed Muslim - brought up as a Muslim, he fell spectacularly off the wagon in his uni days and now, at the ripe old age of thirtysomething has gone back to his Islamic ways.

As it's Ramadan at the moment, H is fasting. No food or water from sunrise to sunset. Every single day. For 30 days. Cripes.

Curious about all things religious, I was cross examining him about it last week. Why do it? What's it all about? How on earth do they manage it? Don't they feel ill? He explained the idea of Ramadan being a time for reflection, thinking of those who are hungry every single day, the feel-good factor when you taste that first bit of food after sunset. He thinks that everyone should give it a try for just one day.

So, as an exercise in self-control, empathy and gratitude, I said I'd do it. And today was the day. My usual Monday morning involves a huge bowl of porridge with nuts and seeds and all kinds of yummies thrown in. There'd be lots of fruit for snacking, a nice big houmous/avocado sandwich at lunchtime and the obligatory little sweet treat at about 2pm. Today - nothing. Just me and the sound of my hungry belly.

At first, it wasn't too bad. By lunchtime, I was struggling a bit. By the time I was preparing the girls a delicious bowl of pasta pesto and green veggies for their tea, I was salivating. By 7.30, I was ready to start chomping on Blod.

At 8.40pm, the fast was over. I lit a candle, served up a simple sweet potato curry and rice, turned off the I-Pod and ate in silence by candlelight. It was calm, peaceful and all about the food. I appreciated every single mouthful.

Amen to that.

Sunday, August 15

Good things, bad things

Bad thing: Feeling like my life is one big chaotic mess, with no time to do anything, and doing everything that I can fit in really badly.

Good thing: Sweet things from my big girl remind me that the chaos doesn't matter: "I like you and you like me - but who is the loveliest?"

Bad thing: My new haircut is a disaster, making me feel even more minging than I did before.

Good thing: I managed to run (with a smidge of walking on the really steep bits) 3 miles last night.

Bad thing: I despise my haggered face and post-baby body shape.

Good thing: But I met a lovely young man this week who thought I was 27.

Bad thing: Still having dilemma about whether to send G to school in September (it's full-time every day for the nursery class here - she's only three!) and sick of every other person telling me she's bored with me at home and "she needs it".

Good thing: A neighbour saying "you're such a fab mum", just at the right moment.

Bad thing: Impending redundancy from part-time job.

Good thing: But have interview for another, much groovier one on Thursday.

And amidst all the chaos, there is always chai, books, baths and cake.

Happier blogging will resume shortly.

Monday, August 9

Things I would like for my birthday

I am turning - gulp - 35 in a few weeks. You're probably wondering what to buy me. Here's a handy list to help you make up your mind.

Anything from my Amazon wishlist, especially some vegan cookery books
A big huge cake (carrot, of course)
A flash for my camera
Subscription to a photography magazine
Voucher for a go in the Harrogate baths
Some cute hair clips
My fave Montezumas Orange and Geranium chocolate
Theatre vouchers
Goodies from Neal's Yard
Another baby (just casually slipping that one on the end of the list there... la, la, la...)

Sunday, August 1

Mothers and Daughters

Phew, after eight weeks of trying to fit in looking after two tinies, working, freelancing and completing my photography project, I've done it.

10 images of Mothers and Daughters are here.

This project's really suffered from my lack of technical knowledge, especially photographing in low light, but I'm generally happy with it (although, met up with the rest of the people on my course yesterday and their stuff was waaaay better than mine).

Need another project now. Any ideas?