Saturday, 29 March 2014

Busy Mum's Pancakes

I love making these at the weekend. Easy and delicious 'American-style pancakes'... or if you're American... 'Pancakes' hehe.

200g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
300ml milk
1 egg

 Whisk it all up! Don't be precious about lumps.

Heat a pan, medium heat, drizzle in a little oil, then wipe it around with kitchen roll.
Once pan is hot, spoon in some mixture. I have a large metal spoon that I use - you don't want to put in too much batter as it will spread out. A large spoonful gave me pancakes approx 12cms in diameter.

You'll notice some bubbles forming.

When the batter has a matt surface to it, flip the pancake over and cook for a few minutes. Check the underside until it's golden brown. Before cooking the next pancake, wipe that kitchen roll of oil around the pan. Do this each time.

Put the oven on low and keep them warm in there, placing a sheet of kitchen roll between every couple of pancakes.

Check out Mickey!

Now for the drizzles!

For the icing one, I just sifted some icing sugar in a bowl and put a spoonful of water in and mixed.
For the peanut butter drizzle, I put half butter and half peanut butter in a cup and microwaved for 15 seconds, them stirred until the lumps melted. If you have a sweet tooth like me, add a little icing sugar. Naughty but nice.
Top with sprinkles! I used chocolate sprinkles on the peanut butter drizzle, and 100s 'n' 1000s on the icing drizzle.

Let the kids decorate their own!
Now enjoy!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

My 'Accidental' Discovery Of Co-Sleeping

The day after he was born, the little lad and I came home from the hospital. I felt a combination of nervousness, relief and excitement. At the hospital, the nurses on the night shift were there to tend to the babies and allow the mothers some well-needed rest (my chosen everything-in-moderation approach to mothering meant I didn't mind the little lad being given a little formula at the start).

The hospital's 4-hour routine meant I was only up once during the first night. The following morning, baby and I got the hang of breastfeeding so from there it was feeding on demand (no more formula, yay!). Like clockwork, I would notice his early signs of hunger at 2 and a half hour intervals. I knew this was where I might find myself becoming increasingly tired as the days went by, and I did, but I was never even close to exhaustion. He was sleeping a lot, in the Moses basket which at nighttime was beside our bed.

One night, after a couple of weeks, I was sat up in bed, baby having his late evening feed. I knew that you could breastfeed lying down and that it was something I wanted to try. With nothing to lose, we gave it a go. He nursed himself to sleep, so with him nestled in the crook of my arm, I closed my eyes. A little while later I was opening my eyes, the first thing in my sights being my baby; safe, secure and close to me. We had both been asleep for a couple of hours. After a few minutes I heard the little lad's grunts of 'I'm stirring now, it's time to feed me'. When he opened his eyes, I was the first thing for him to see, although I felt he knew he was in the safety of my arms when he was stirring.

It felt like the most natural thing in the world, far more reassuring to both of us than a separate sleeping arrangement. Plus it was the best night's sleep I'd had since leaving the hospital and my instinct told me baby was more at ease too. I woke up with a surge of a eureka moment: "This is it! This is what's right for me and my baby!".

Before I gave birth, I was against the idea of a baby in an adult bed, fearing the dangers that are often written about and verbalized. For this reason, I was loath to admit my new-found sleeping habit to others. But I'm lucky enough to have wonderful sisters whom I can confide in, thus I discovered that I'm not the only one who favors what I later learned is referred to as 'co-sleeping'.

Soon I might be hearing the words 'rod for your own back' and I accept that. I accept that others like to give their advice, even when it is not asked for. I accept that everyone believes they know best. I also keep an open mind. 

For now, I choose a wonderful nights sleep for both me and my baby, over hours of pacing and calming him from the side of a cot. The parents who have their babies sleep in a cot will not have the trying 'transition' of removing their child from the adult bed that I am likely to face. But this is the decision I have made and I'm also not one for worrying about what may or may not happen in the future...

... I have made my bed, and WE will lie in it.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Life is Pretty Peachy

I live in a village that has seen many changes over the recent years. Modern buildings are popping up alongside very traditional, quaint stone-built homes. There are many ruins, their stone walls crumbling away and their wooden shutters held together with rusty nails. On the morning dog walk yesterday, I thought I would take some photos. There was one particularly wonky door, ajar, revealing climbing weeds - a tempting invite to a secret garden. As I went to take a closer look, however, I realized it was still a home to someone.

It got me thinking about how times change and the stories my mum tells me about her growing up, my grandma not having a lot of money. But they're not stories of sadness, they're stories of one lady raising her children in the best way she can, not with material things but with love and care.

Then, coincidentally, I read this write up on The Crochet Crowd's website::

"I dedicate this new afghan to my mom. I'm not ashamed to admit that my early years of my childhood, we needed thrift stores and a helping hand. To save money, my mom would cut up our old clothing and make them into quilts. None of the quilts had any rhyme or reason to the colour. They were warm and that's what mattered. We went to bed with extra hot water bottles in the hope they would retain the heat over night as our home was heated with a central fire stove. I firmly believe that growing up in this manner makes me a better person for understanding and being empathetic to others.

When I see afghans where the material is unusual or appears to be old clothing... when the colour doesn't make sense. It lifts my spirit because I know that this was love as a child. Growing up in the way I did makes me extremely grateful for the luxuries and opportunities that have come my way."

It makes me appreciate all that I have (including the iPad used to take pictures and write this blog), but also how trivial our 'problems' are too.

Life is pretty peachy.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Being alone doesn't mean I'm lonely

When I go to a nice little pub, with a book or newspaper under my arm, people often feel the need to come over to join me or invite me to their table. I'm sure they have the best of intentions at heart, but isn't my chosen reading material a clue that I'd like to be left alone? Apparently not.

My dad and I often meet for a pint and a crossword or some kind of mathematical brain teaser. We also have a lovely chat, where we muse at other people's need to be with a group of people, a need we don't possess. I think it's lovely that there are so many people that regularly try to inject some social 'fun' into our lives, but it often feels like we're the only ones who just like some quiet time alone.

Then I read this article...
... and it all made sense.

Here are some points it makes:

> You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.
Yes! Don't get me wrong, it's not that I dislike people, not at all. It's just that it feels like a bit of a waste of both of our time.

> You go to parties -– but not to meet people.
I guess you could say "Why go to a place as social as a party (or in my case, a pub) if you want to be left alone?" and I suppose my answer to that would be "It's not that I need to be completely alone, I just sometimes find idle chit chat a bit draining and I'd rather spend time with 1 or 2 quality friends than a large group of acquaintances."

And here's a point that I truly believed only I 'suffer' from.. in fact I never admitted it to others until I read it here (realizing others do it somehow made it acceptable):

> You screen all your calls -- even from friends.
I can relate to Dembling, who says: "To me, a ringing phone is like having somebody jump out of a closet and go 'BOO!'... I do like having a long, nice phone call with a friend -- as long as it's not jumping out of the sky at me." Now this may sound a little pathetic, but, like the article says, it is like I need to mentally prepare myself and gather the energy for the conversation.

Where am I going with all this? Well, I put myself in the extrovert's shoes;

I see a lonely person who is obviously craving a group of people to sit with. I go over to invite them to our big table. They say 'No thank you.'. They would rather be lonely than sit with me?

I wonder if they feel a sense of rejection every time an introvert turns down their invitation? So, on behalf on all of us oddball introverts, I apologize for snubbing your offer, dear extrovert, but please don't take any offense... It's not you, it's me.

If you enjoyed reading this blog post, you might also like:

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

So Many Projects

I nearly titled this post 'Too Many Projects', but then I don't think there is such a thing as too many... hehe. I have a terrible habit of starting another project before finishing others that I have on the go. I get inspired! I think about what kind of yarn I'd like to use. Then I pick the colours out. I print the pattern, and before I know it I'm getting the crochet hook out! I tell myself  "I'll test it out first, just to see..." And it has already added to the many other unfinished projects.

It's not that I get bored of current ones, not at all. I just get too excited about a new one. However, weaving in ALL those ends does feel like a bit of chore... until today! A blanket (pictured above with Maddie my dog) I started, err, let's just say a 'while' ago, began twisting (the granny square twist!). I wasn't sure how I wanted to remedy it as I still had the idea of turning into a bag like the beautiful one below, crocheted by lizacorrea and designed by Gosyo (for the free pattern PDF click the link under the image).

So, in the meantime I started weaving in the loose ends. I decided to straighten the twisting by surrounding it with smaller individual squares which is working beautifully. Anyway, it's been a gorgeous sunny day, so my dog, the little lad and I have sat in the warmth on my balcony as I weave in some more ends - and I'm enjoying it! This, I believe, is the key. A bit of crochet, then sort out those loose ends as you go. Today it felt so therapeutic - no counting stitches, it was more of a form of meditation. Also, when you leave the ends til last, isn't the finale of "Look! It's finished!" a bit of an anti climax, when it's kind of been finished for a couple of hours already?

Learn to be easy on yourself, don't beat yourself up about not finishing projects quickly - when you're crocheting for your own pleasure anyway - it spoils the fun! I still have a few more rounds I'd like to do on this one, so I better get hookin'. A time will come when you will be in the mood for going back to 'that unfinished blanket' like it did for me today.

So people, let's hear it! Do you have super-human will power and only have one project on the go at any one time? Or do you indulge, like me? Are you a fan of weaving in those loose ends as you go? Or do you wait until all stitches are stitched? Please comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Busy Mum's Breakfast

Every morning, the little lad and I snuggle in bed while he has his liquid breakfast. When he's finished and we've had a few minutes of highly intellectual conversation, I don my fuzzy robe and with babe in one arm I prepare my breakfast.

I first had this idea about 2 weeks ago, when the little lad was 5 weeks old. I'm so glad I discovered this 'lazy cooking' when he was so young. I've done it many times since and it will come in extremely handy on those days in future where he is spending less time asleep, and more time awake and in need of entertainment. I'm pretty sure breakfast preparation is not an exciting spectacle, so the less time spent on it, the better.

This breakfast is relatively healthy but at the same time, indulgent. It's like having a fry-up, but the whole idea is not having to watch over a frying pan, plus we're not cooking in oil - better for the body! Anyway, first get the kettle on (a cup of English tea is a priority). Next, find a small to medium oven dish. Now for the ingredients. You can choose many different items, but I'll just go with what I had this morning.

1/2 tin of tinned tomatoes.
1/2 tin baked beans
1/2 tin sweet corn
2 frankfurters
1 egg
A chunk of cheddar cheese.

Put the toms and beans in the dish. Put it in the oven. Turn the oven on to fan assisted, at 180 degrees Celsius, and set alarm for 10mins. Now the kettle's boiled, make that well-deserved cuppa. You have 10mins to relax with the babe/clear up randomly placed baby-wipes and slurp tea.

Beep beep! Now, chuck the frankfurters (I slice mine up) in the dish, add the sweet corn, stir and crack the egg in. Set alarm for 10mins again. Another spare few minutes! During this time, baby is taking in the scenery, on his way to slumberland, so I spend the time strolling around my apartment, chatting to him.

Beep beep! Plop in some cubed up cheddar, set alarm for 5 mins, wait for 'beep beep'!

My receptacle of choice is a cereal bowl, and a one-handed-friendly spoon delivers the cheesy beany goodness to my belly!

Check out the stringy cheese hanging over the bowl! Yum!

Other potential ingredients
I've used frozen broccoli before (yes fresh is best but we're busy mums and a freezer of good veg is a must, for me anyway.) and that goes in at the start. It tastes great with the toms 'n' cheese!
Mushrooms, fresh or tinned, put in at the start.
Onions, put them in at the start.
Anything else you find that you fancy!
Keep it simple, don't try too hard, you want to save your time for fun kiddy stuff or quiet 'me' time.
Enjoy, x

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Rockin' and a Rollin'!

I became a mother 7 weeks ago.

That's not so long ago, but apparently long enough for my little guy to out-grow most of his clothes. Now I like to think I'm good at maths, but I've started to doubt myself... 7 weeks is less than 3 months, right? Well this 7 week baby-shaped peg is not fitting into these 3 month clothes-shaped holes. A short time for something to grow so quickly and it reflects my increasing fondness for this little guy.

Bye bye tiny baby clothes.. 'til next time

I've never been a 'baby person' and I'm also not one for 'mine's better than yours' playground antics, so I find it sad when I hear other mum's stating they have the cutest baby, especially when they're so blatantly wrong as my little lad is obviously the winner of the cute wars ;-) All jokes aside,  it's incredible how Mother Nature takes over, turning beer-guzzling rock chicks who avoid babies and children, into tea drinking, house-keeping baby-carers who love their new role (Roll? Did someone say roll?! The little lad rolled over for the first time today and I'm very proud, but what makes me happier is that it was witnessed by Daddy, via video call!).

I always knew I wanted a family of my own one day and although I imagined becoming 'motherly', I did want to raise a son who shared my love of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Before I became a parent, my sister was talking about being moved to tears of happiness at 'baby sensory', when her son was clapping to the song "Reach" by S Club. I made a promise to myself that if I ever cry to a song like that, it would be because of my pain of enduring such a naff tune.

I broke that promise.

The little guy was crying. A tired boy. 'Singing?' I thought. Singing could work... so I started with a gentle Smashing Pumpkins track, but then I forgot the words, so tried a few others to no avail, so I moved on to a less cool tune, but at least the lyrics had a nice message; Richard Marx's 'Right Here Waiting'. But then something happened. I started to think about things. Over-think things. "Oceans apart, day after day.." (My husband works away) then the tears started to flow. Crying baby, crying me, and I didn't even get to the nice bit of the song!

When I finally composed myself, the next song to randomly pop in my head (not a proud moment..) was the campfire classic, "Ging Gang Goolie". Worst part of it all? As I rocked the little lad, he smiled softly and drifted to his slumber.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Colour is my Pornography

With my love of crochet, I am often referring to wools and cottons as 'yarn porn'. However, I realize this isn't accurate as there's always a fair amount of feeling up the yarn, usually followed by an orgasmic shudder. So, considering this intimacy, I'm promoting 'yarn porn' to 'yarn foreplay'. The 'look but don't touch' of pornography is now reserved for colour.

As I go about my day, I can't help but be inspired by the colourful things around me (this is a problem - I already have enough unfinished projects filling my cupboards). It could be the transition of greens and yellows to oranges and pinks of a ripening grapefruit. Or the muddy sands being kicked up by the turquoise waters of the Cyprus coastline. Whatever the muse, I nearly always end up picking a selection of yarns to replicate the colours I've seen.

(picture from summer last year)

There's something satisfying about colours when they are placed together in 'rainbow order'. I don't know why (probably because of my mild form of OCD), there's probably some science behind it, but seeing the gradual blending is definitely porn for me.

Lucy from Attic24 demonstrates this beautifully, with her 'Raindow Raindrops Cushion', pictured below (you can find the pattern on her blog, which is well worth a visit - you'll be hooked!).

Even if only 2 or 3 colours are placed in order, they are stunning...

Then there is adding splashes of complementary colour. Reds against greens, oranges against blues and yellows against purples... my preferred choice for my living room decor...

Elephant a gift from my husband after a holiday in Africa :-)

Oil burner a gift from an awesome friend. Unknown fabric.

So as you can tell I've been a colour-combo sponge recently, and since I started writing this post, the above purple/jade gradient inspired a new project (uh-oh, the perils of having a mother who owns a 
yarn shop). I don't know what will be created from these gorgeous colours, but the yarn of choice is DMC's Natura Just Cotton range, great in every way for the Cyprus summer. So I have a few months 
to plan and create, xBBx