This Is Our 2011

And I am ready to lay it to rest. This year has been bittersweet, seeing us giddy and nauseous from the roller coaster ride that 2010 had presented us. Steeling our bellies, and struggling to regain equilibrium and initiate some momentum into our lives as a family. 

Blogging has been a release. A channel where I could focus on harnessing the ever-decreasing circle which had inhabited my mind for the past to years. It has also made me take up writing creatively as i am a passionate believer that everrything hinges on the telling, not the tale itself. 

Baking was an exercise in re-learning that some things are just a process, that you could mess up one component of a process and slow down its completion but these components are fixable, replaceable and afterall, part of the process. I sort of like to apply this concept to life itself, that rather than short, brief moments defining you forever, you’re actually involved in a process and that there is no race. You can see no one chasing you in the wing mirror. All you have is this unreaching horizon of what is the future and all you have tangible in your hands is the now.

Roller derby was a way to make peace with my physical self which at some deep rooted level, I felt had failed me when I was pregnant of the 7th Wonder. My physical self and I can look each other in the eyes now. 

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blog, challenge, Chichester, children, Crazy life stuff, home, home education

Dare I Mention It?

The Seventh Wonder, I am ashamed to admit, does not get to go out very often. It’s a carried on habit of mine, from when she was really ill and us still recovering from the experiences we had. It was only last week that she acquired her first ever winter coat.  
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home, home education

A Rose Is A Rose….

I was expecting life to be a whole lot more different now that I have two teenagers attending college. We almost considered having some sort of celebratory wake to commemorate the end of their home educating era. After all, we are sending off our young like virgin human sacrifices, ripe and ready to be devoured by the big bad world of mainstream education. The sanctity of our family home will be tainted by the outside world and our family dynamics will never be the same again.

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Chichester, children, Crazy life stuff

Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be a plumber


Home maintenance intrigues me. We are forever in perpetual state of needing to fix stuff in our house. Slaveboy is not a great DIY man, and doesn’t insist on proving his manliness that way and for that, I really do thank him.

But not tonight.

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roller derby

Are You Trying Hard Enough?

Well, are you? And if you are, then try harder. You can ALWAYS do better.

I stumbled upon Seth Godin’s bucket-of-icy-cold-water-in-the-face-and-hit-in-the-teeth-with-a-wet-kipper post this morning and it spoke to me. I’ve been a bit lax with my weight training and therefore really hamming up my New Rules of Lifting for Women 6 month program. The last three months of it has seen a dramatic change in my fitness level in the first six weeks followed by just treading water for the next six. I could list a whole host of reasons – root canal, two children starting college, teething baby, visiting Mother, majorly bruised ribs but that all sounds like yada yada yada to me. The truth is, I took my eyes of the ball. Rather than tweaking my diet to see if I can improve it, I’m manipulating it. Rather than pushing my fitness to another challenging level, I’ve been scoping the situation and hedging my bets that I still have some resting time before I need to step it up again. A bit like playing a game of chance where everything hangs on one happening in order to make another possible.

And it’s been alright to teeter like this, because by golly, just look at how well you’ve been doing!!

No. No. No. No. That’s the death knell of progress. Self-congratulatory, back-patting exercise which repeatedly validates that next serving of almond croissant as being a treat you deserve for having worked so hard. I suppose this is where competitiveness gets a lot of flak. To some, competitiveness suggest that you are never good enough, or competitiveness means that crestfallen realisation that you will never be good enough as someone else. And for these very reasons, you see educational institutions avoid engaging their children in competitive activities for fear that it would spiritually crush them and instead, mediocrity is celebrated in its place.

It’s taken me a long time to learn this, but competitiveness has nothing to do with making you feel that you’re not good enough. It has a lot to do with telling you that you can do better. Not better than someone else, but better than what you are today. The sort of better that gets you to finger-grasp near to amazingness. The sort of better that keeps you hungry, stops you from being complacent and drives out the tumbleweed from your mind. And it stops you from being smug. I don’t even have to tell you how annoying little shits smug bastards are.

So the next time I tell you that I am deep squatting 50kg, look impressed for a wee while, then ask me how I’m getting on with nailing those push-ups.

apples, bake

Caramel Apple Cake Squares

I’m feeling incredibly whacked today. This week has been such a roller coaster and both Slaveboy and I are feeling it. Tuesday saw us attending an All Party Parliamentary Group meeting on Home Education at Westminster Palace in London. We’ve had a few momentous events this week anyway, what with Izzy The Rockstar and Firstborn starting college and Lalla starting her first competitive diving class. Instead of spending time revelling in this new phase of our lives, we found ourselves on a train to London, armed with a shoddy cappuccino and powdery chocolate muffin.

I’m not even going to tell you how late the train but it was enough to alter our plans in London. By the time we hit China Town, after a brief but hilarious foray in Soho, Slaveboy had lost the plot and insisted that we just go into the first restaurant we stumbled upon.

It was those roasted ducks hanging upside down in the window, they get him every time.

Our lunch bill came to £42, and that was without any alcohol in the order. I think our lunch order included every other creature in the Animal Kingdom and I even ordered a few dishes I had no idea what they were.

As we were making our way to the Westminster Palace, it struck me how disreputable we both looked – Slaveboy in his cowboy hat and Grateful Dead tee shirt and those who know me outside the blogsphere will agree that I come with a default disreputable look anyway (The Big Issue vendors avoid me, rather than the other way round). We did however comment, as we queued for the security check at Westminster Palace, about how fortuitous it was that we hadn’t bought anything interesting from the interesting shops in Soho. That would’ve been an awkward conversation to have had with the security guard.

I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of the meeting. Those who are interested, I will be posting an entry on this separately at a later date once I verify the details.

I made this for the pop-up stall owned by the Green Earth guys in Chichester.

Caramel Apple Cake Squares
500g caster sugar
25g butter
3 eggs
375ml oil
375g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups diced apples

-Preheat oven to 170C.
-Take 300g of the sugar and caramelise it with 50ml of water until it is dark amber. Take it off the heat and add the diced apples. Stir well and put it back on medium heat, stirring continuously until the caramel melts. Add the butter. Allow to cool.
-Take the remaining 290g of sugar and cream it with the eggs and oil.
-Add the vanilla extract.
-Fold in the flour and bicarbonate of soda.
-Finally, add the caramelised diced apples.
-Place in a square cake tin, around 9inch by 9inch.
-Bake for around 30 minutes, but you might need longer. Use a cocktail stick to check if it is done.
-When hot, use a knife to create slits into the cake. Pour on the caramel top when the cake is still hot.

85g butter
220g dark muscovado sugar
25ml milk

Melt the three ingredients and boil for 2 minutes. Pour on to the hot cake. Allow to set.