Posts in blogging
Blogging, 9 Years On

Last week marked the 9th year that I have been blogging. I started the blog as a way to keep in touch with my family in America as I was pregnant with Ellis.  With each season of my life, the blog changed and morphed - from documenting our early days in parenthood, to exploring my creativity, to being a crochet blog full of patterns and tutorials, to being a portfolio of my broad work, a promotional tool, to becoming a task on the to-do list of the thing I "should", but didn't necessarily want to, do.

Its that last evolution that I found myself in recently.  Dutifully I would write "Blog" on my daily task list, never quite making eye contact with it and hoping inspiration would strike so that it would feel less like a chore.  From the sparseness of posts the last few months, you can see how successful that was. 

There is a certain irony to the burden that blogging became - I purposefully  have never taken on sponsored content precisely because I never wanted the blog to feel like work - but it still did.  My head was filled with all of the shoulds "You should set up a regular schedule" "You should analyse your traffic to see what your most popular posts are" "You should create how-tos and tutorials to bring traffic" etc etc.  All of those things are undoubtably true, but the truth is having 100s of thousands of visitors a month is great, but it is nothing if you just can't face getting yourself to the computer to write.

And so, I took some time off.  I laid in bed and drank tea. I planned our veg garden. I baked up a storm. I played Uno with the kids. I hung out with friends. I worked 9-4 three days a week and only did work that would fit in that time. I spent endless hours watching swimming lessons. I spent A LOT of time on Instagram. I even let my domain expire, thinking I would just quietly let Slugs pass into the night.

And then yesterday, I stumbled across one of my favourite Mary Oliver quotes:

"Instructions for living a life. 
Pay attention. 
Be astonished. 
Tell about it." 
— Mary Oliver

I used to cite this as my blog mission's statement - forgotten somehow in endless redesigns. With its rediscovery, I found myself back at my desk thinking of all of the stories I want to tell and the love letters to my family I want to write. 

In the last 9 years, blogging has changed beyond anything I could have imagined.  In those early days, most of the blogs I read told stories of our families or shared our makes with other like-minded folks.  We have moved into a world of aspirational lifestyles, DIYs and curated feeds - things I love, but very different from the personal tales of life that used to fill my reader. And as much as I love to read them, I have come to recognise that those kinds are posts are not something I do particularly well or enjoy creating.

They say that comparison is the thief of joy - and for me this is so painfully true.  Not because I get wrapped up in what other people have or are doing, but because I feel like there are things I "should" be doing. I try for awhile, then get so fed up, everything stops.

I feel like I should end this post with announcing grand plans of what is to come in this space for the next 9 years, but the truth is, I have no idea. There will be posts or there won't. There will be photos. There will probably be pie and gardens and the adventures of three not so little people. And making, always making.

Technical Problems

20130910-IMG_2915 I have been told that many of you struggle to follow my blog feed.  I am dreadfully sorry about that - it seems that the demise of Google Reader combined with the switch I made from Typepad left me with a broken feed.  Don't worry  though, its still here, you just may beed to resubscribe using bloglovin, feedly or this feed:

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Today I Am

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 - planning meals from this beauitful book.  Gorgeous photography? Ireland? A whole chapter on potatoes?  It is as if the authour looked into my heart and wrote a cookbook just for me.

- Listening to The Civil Wars. 

- Working on some examples for tomorrow's beginner class. There is a tremendous amount of interest in these workshops, and I promise I will be releasing more dates very very soon.

- Making little brooch kits for the class participants to take away.

- Cleaning the house, lest someon break a leg on the Lego-tastrophe that is happening in the livingroom right now.

- Working out meterage/yardage on my hat patterns with the help of my kitchen scales and Joanne

- Taking my ever-so-handsome-but-refuses-to-pose-for-the-camera dude out on a lunch date.  I've promised all the cake he can eat if he lets me work this morning.  

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Thank you to everyone who has nomited Slugs in the MAD Blogging Awards.  I really appreciate all of the support for the blog.  Is it wrong that I *really* want to win in the Craft category because I have always wanted a Kitchen Aid mixer?  So what if I can't really bake, it would look sooooo awesome in photos!! (my god, I am THAT shallow).  Anwyay,there is still time to nominate here.

External Validation

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Last night, I walked home from the train station with an enormous skip in my step and small tears in my eyes.  Silly probably.  The magic that is a smart phone meant that as I was wrangling the two kiddos off the train, an email popped into my phone informing me the above photo is going to be in the 2011 Ideal Homes Calendar.

Its a small thing.  Just a wee competition that a blog reader, Mairi, had sent me.  I submitted my photo and stood back and waited. I didn't have any hope at all that I would make it through.  I watched as other photos rolled in...amazing views of lochs and mountains, stunning seascapes, snow-covered hillsides, gorgeous old buildings.  Even at the end of the public voting, coming in 8th of almost 300 didn't fill me with much hope.  My photo was of my neighbour's laundry...but I was wrong.

Its the first time in a long while that I've had a success that is mine.  In the world of small children, the sucesses that are celebrated are often those that actually have very little to do with me; a baby's first crawl, a boy's first soccer lesson. So much of motherhood is about facilitating other people's triumphs and fading quietly to the back.  It can get lonely back there.

This success is mine and I am so pleased and proud...but to say that my children had nothing to do with it is not entirely true.  

On that particular day, Georgia was inconsolable and wouldn't sleep.  I'd taken her out for a walk in the fields in her pushchair with the camera.  As we headed back, still not asleep, I stopped and caught a glimpse of the man's laundry against the hills.  Snap. 

And the rest is an Ideal Homes calendar.  

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mairi, for letting me know!!

 

Edited to say: Just heard back from the competition organisers.  It'll be the month of February and apparently they loved my photo and I was just pipped to the post!!!  Wow oh wow!! 

Things I Know

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- Strawberries will not jam if they are too wet.  Even washing them can upset the delicate balance of water to pectin (lets not get into weeks of rain). Leaving them to dry for a few hours after washing is often necessary.  Particularly sodden berries often require the addition of rhubarb, raspberries, or apple pectin.

- "Once begun is half done" only applies in certain circumstances.  Exclusions include but are not limited to:

     - The washing...starting is the easy part

     - Picking up little tiny pieces of Playmobil.  This is the task that NEVER ends.

- The correct way to hand-wash dishes is to wash cutlery first, then glasses and cups, moving on to plates and bowls, then pots.  This is to ensure that things that go IN your mouth are washed with the cleanest water.  The position of glasses and cutlery may be reversed if and only if dinner was particularly greasy and may hamper the sparkling shine.

- Having babies that sleep through the night does not make one a better parent, only a better rested one.

- Being at home all day with small children can be like being pecked to death by ducks, whilst at the same time being the most wonderful and amazing thing one ever does.  Yesterday's work included playing circus as Ellis "tightrope walked" on the low walls all the way to town.

- On days where the pecking outweighs the wonder, the magical combination of wine + hot bath + crazy-loud African pop can turn it all around.

- Clean sheets straight off the line are worth doing laundry for. 

- Toys are essentially pointless.  Cats, camping gear and sticks are all one really needs.

- The kinds of friends that one wants coming round to the house are the kind one doesn't feel the need to clean for.

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What We've Been Up To
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So its been a week without you.  How are you, dear blog?  Well?  I bet you've had sunshine and the like, haven't you...admit it.

We've had rain. Rain. Rain and more Rain.  My laundry is actually rotting.  In my life, it never occurred to me that laundry could rot.  But it can.  And it stinks to high heaven as it does it.  We are all ever so slightly stinky (when we actually have clothes to wear).

Other things:

- I cut my own fringe (aka bangs).  Its cute.  I like it.  I'll show you some time.

- Georgia can roll.  Both ways. And kind of scoot around.  I forgot to appreciate immobile babies while I had one.

- Ellis' capacity for mischief only seems to increase with age.  Why didn't anyone warn me? 

- The rain is causing my garden to rot as well.  On the plus side, the slugs are happy and leaving my kitchen alone.

- I bought a fantastic new cookbook.  Its the Veganomicon.  I wanted something I could just pick up and be able to eat just about everything.  I made the fudgey wudgy blueberry brownies. They were astoundingly good, but the Not-ella...it deserves its own post!

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- I also made this awesome vegan mac 'n' cheese, as suggested by Ami.  Oh my it was soooo good.  In fact, I liked the cheese sauce so much, I made it tonight for the white sauce in lasagne, but with nutmeg and garlic. It too was a hit.  Thanks, Ami!

- We took the kids swimming at the weekend [Rant about out of town leisure centres with no buses on a Sunday has been deleted].  Ellis played for 2 hours, then slept for 3!  Georgia loved the pool too.  But I have to say, everytime I go, I always miss freshwater swimming out of doors.

- I have been knitting up a storm.  So many things have been on and off the needles this week.  I promise a bit of a show and tell tomorrow...

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The World According to Ellis

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Ellis: "My friends are going to America with me and Santa to drive in a fire engine putting out fires".

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Ellis, in tears: "Mama, make the rain stop"

Mama: "I can't"

Ellis: "But you said you were the boss!" and starts sobbing.

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Ellis: "When I grow up, I'm going to get big, big, bigger like you.  And have superpowers."

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Ellis, seeing a driving instructor in a car: "That's my driving instruction.  I have two driving instructions."

Mama: "Oh, yeah?"

Ellis: "Yes.  I'm taking my test tomorrow."

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Ellis, at 5am "Mama, wake up. Its Sunnytime.  Its not dark, because you have to get up. 'Cause its sunny"

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Ellis: "Grammy lives on an airplane...with a dinosaur"

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After being in the bath for 20 minutes: "I need to get out.  My back and my feet are getting wet"

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Daddy: "How many legs do you have?"

Ellis: "Two, Three, Four, Five"

Daddy: "You don't have 5 legs"

Ellis: "I do because I'm a octopus"

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Unintended Consequences
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Six weeks ago, I gave up dairy to see if it helped with Georgia's fussiness.

At first, I honestly didn't know what to eat. My meal plan was largely built around cheese...halloumi salad, broccoli cheese muffins, mexican, tortellini. not to mention coffee.  With Milk.  A lot of milk.  Those first few days were really hard.  I was hungry all the time.  I was afraid to eat out, for fear of not being able to reliably find anything I COULD eat.  I bought and tried every kind of alternative milk product on the market.  As soy is often linked to dairy allergies, that was out.  And black coffee is not for me.

A few weeks on, I was getting in the swing of it.  I had found that coconut milk makes a tasty coffee and my meal plan has a definite Mediterranean feel to it. At the same time, we realised that part of Georgia's grumpiness was that she wasn't getting enough sleep and couldn't be awake for more than an hour and twenty minutes at a time.  

The transformation was astounding.  Georgia went from a fussy wee thing to an extremely happy chilled out little girl.  Wanting to see if it was the sleep or the dairy that was improving her mood, I added a generous handful of cheese to my dinner one evening.

The next morning, unsurprisingly, Georgia woke up a rather unsettled little girl. Dairy was definitely out for her. Rather more surprisingly was that I also woke up with terrible stomach cramps. I felt sluggish and awful all day.   I realised it wasn't the first time I felt like this.  In fact, MOST mornings, prior to giving up dairy, I woke up with stomach pains. I just thought it was 'one of those things'. It seems that dairy is out for me too.

When embarking on this 'experiment', that is all it was.  A few weeks, months, maybe a year until I could happily eat dairy again. However, it seems that my future is now dairy free.  

It amazes me that something I have eaten every day of my life can be so bad for me.  And of course, its in everything, so not only am I not eating dairy, but things like cakes, chocolate and the like almost all have milk in them. And many of the non-dairy alternatives are filled with chemical alternatives that I do not particularly want to eat. So my consumption of those things is essentially non existent.  In fact, I only have a few teaspoons of sugar a day now (in said cup of coffee).  Most of all, I feel great!  Fewer mood swings, more energy.  

Unintended consequences, but we are all better for it.

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The photo above is of one of the s'mores we made at the weekend with homemade graham crackers.  Yes, it has milk in it.  Yes, I ate one.  Yes, we all paid for it. But they WERE good.  

Friday I'm in Love

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With:

- My new old veg rack found in a moment of thrifting bliss

- The way pears look in my fruit bowl

- Roasted veg

- A pile of fabric that's going to be something...

Have a lovely weekend. I know I have mentioned it before, but if you haven't already, please make a donation to support the Hadrian's Walkers who head out to walk the bredth of Britain in support of parents who have lost children.

Happy 4th of July!!

Strawberries A Go-Go

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mmmmm

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It seems that my blog readership extends far beyond the world of the internet...my strawberries appear to have read Tuesday's post about their lack of compliance and decided to  hold up their end of the gardening bargain.

And so the berries are here. While I have visions of jam and homemade crumpets, the boys just sit in the garden and eat what they can.  I'll get my time...

(I promise not to mention strawberries again for awhile)

 

Shivering With Anticipation

Many of you have something to answer for...I've seen your blog posts.  I have had the conversations.  I know you've been picking berries, making pie, cooking jam, whilst we wait

shiver with anticipation

And wait

And wait

I've written about the microclimate before.  Its cold in my back garden.  It rains a lot.  While everyone else is making ice cream, I am usually still eating soup. 

You know what, I don't usually mind THAT much. I like the cold.  I don't mind the rain.  I love the moodiness of my chosen homeland. Except for this time of year when there is the horrible lag between other's tales of strawberry jammy-ness and my own green fruit.

But, soon we will be having our breakfasts straight off the plants...if the children and birds don't get them first.

Photography :: In The Moment
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Above and beyond most things, I strive to be fully present in my everyday life.  When I am with my children, talking to Kevin, spending time with my friends, I continually try to be completely with them. 

Its not something that comes naturally to me.  I like to think about 6000 things at once.  I drift off easily into day dreams.  I make endless mental lists about all of the OTHER things I should be doing. I can spend days and weeks convinced that 'right now' is not worth paying any attention to.

On Saturday, I was the photographer at a friend's wedding. I spent the day capturing one of the most lovely ceremonies I have ever attended (There was not a dry eye in the house).  As I snapped away, it occurred to me that I was fully there in the moment, watching the group, noticing the small details.  Being the photographer for such an important life event meant that I needed to be completely present to ensure that the beauty and love and wonder of the day was captured for my lovely friends.

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Everytime I look through the eyepiece, I am forced to really inspect what is happening.  I gather the visual elements--the colours, the light, the objects-- that make that moment and then 'click'. The moment is caught. And then there is a new moment.  Another piece of the puzzle that needs to be captured and remembered, and on it goes.

Its this presence, this mindfulness, that I love about photography.  The way it forces me to really look at my life.  To SEE my children and capture their journey through the days.  It brings me more deeply into my own world, into the details that make up the seasons, the ages, the events. 

And I loved Saturday. I loved bringing my love for photography to beloved friends.  I loved looking for the details that made up their day.  In fact, just writing about it makes me a bit breathless. I came home afterwards, so fulfilled and happy...giddy even.

And to top it off, I was able to get some great pictures as well. 

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"Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever... it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything."

Aaron Siskind

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Hopefully, I will be able to share with you some of the better pictures taken on Saturday once my friend's return from their honeymoon!!

Rock in this Pocket

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And I'd like to remind you
Of something small
That the rock in this pocket
Could cause your fall

- Suzanne Vega

Do you end up with thousands of stones in your pockets too?  I am continually being handed one or two as we make our way through the days.

Some are thrown in the river for the satisfying 'plonk' they make as they hit the Forth River.

Some are kept to be used in the bath.

Some are used as props in elaborate construction games.

Some go through the wash, highlighting that not all materials are meant to be 'stonewashed'

And some get painted...just because.

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On Today's List
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Today, I will:

- Finish another Milo baby vest (in gorgeous baby bamboo) for an 11pound (!) newborn baby boy

- Then, I will sew with someOsbourne and Little samples of their new Quentin Blake line of fabric (not yet released, but my sister in law worked there as a graphic designer)

- Whilst listening to one of the sons of O&L announce devastating cuts to the public sector and welfare state in the Emergency Budget and feel depressed by the fact that, as usual, millionaires run the country and make decisions for those of us who aren't

- After that, I may well play a variety of songs to cheer me up, including:

     - Laura Marling's Alas I Can Not Swim

     - Crooked Still's Lovesick Redstick Blues and The Golden Vanity

- On top of all that, I am going to sit outside and soak up as much sunshine as is humanly possible whilst wearing SPF 50 and ignoring all but essential housework.

Today

Its a hard life, but someone has to do it...

What are you doing today?

Motherhood

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Nothing has surprised me more about being a mother of two children than the love Ellis has for his baby sister.

From the minute she was born, he has done nothing but dote upon her.  She is the first thing he asks for in the morning and the only required kiss at night.

The other day, we were at playgroup.  Whilst I sat with a few friends with Georgia on my lap, Ellis came tearing across the room.  "My baby! My Georgia!" He cried.  He ran up to her and gave her a cuddle.  He then tore back across the room to his friends. "Come see my Georgia!  That's my baby" he said as he dragged his gaggle of 3 year olds over to us.

You know that scene in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas where the Grinch's heart went up a couple sizes?

I didn't know it was possible to love two little people so much...and then to see the two of them fall in love as well...almost too much for a mama to bear.

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Where I Find Inspiration

For Day 4 of Creativity Boot Camp, our word was 'heavy metal'.

heavy metal

heavy metal

We were also asked to take our cameras out and look for inspiration in our outside world. As I don't drive, my path takes me along the same long road over the bridge and through the leafy road along the river. Walking everywhere, especially when accompanied by a toddler means that I have many an opportunity to take inspiration along the way. Combined with the garden and the parks in our village, I realised that the vast majority of my inspiration comes from the things I see everyday and the time I have to reflect when we are walking and both children are content.

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1. Every morning, I head out for a few minutes in the garden with my coffee.  I love those quiet moments, checking the peas, strawberries, pumpkins and other veg.  Summer is such an amazing time and I love to see what is happeneing and gather my thoughts for the day.

2. As we wander down the street, we pass a red phone box.  A RED PHONE BOX.  I love photographing this stalwart of British design. It remains one of those visual cues that reminds me that I am somewhere special.

3. The river. As it changes with the seasons and the tide. Crossing it on foot everyday gives a sense of adventure to going out...like the village is surrounded by a moat.  Crossing it in the other direction means we are almost home.  And while its ecosystem may not be thriving, the colours, textures, openness and wildlife that inhabit its sluggish waters are all a wonderful breathing space from the business of everyday life.   

4. Puddles.  There is one particularly low dip along our journey.  Usually filled with water.  Always jumped in.  Often photographed.

5. & 10. Stirling is a university town.  While this brings some vibrancy to the city, it also brings a lot of rental and unkempt housing.  As we wander a long the road, we walk past a range of overgrown gardens.  These two are my favourite.  5. has this HUGE posy bush that I look at longingly every time I pass, often taking pictures when they finally bloom.  10. has a red front door that matches the red poppies growing amongst the gravel and rubbish. I love finding beauty in unusual places.  I love the contrasts of it.  I love the unexpectedness. 

6, 7, 11. Red Shoes.  OK.  These are not in the natural world, but red shoes have the amazing ability to make any ground shot interesting.  Plus they make me unbelievably happy.

8 & 9. after the slightly run down rental housing, we come to a row of villas.  They all have beautiful gardens, mature trees and sit above the river, looking out over the fields.  As I walk through this section, I always feel incredibly calm (and slightly jealous).

12. The Abbey.  Through every season, the abbey is the background to our lives and photographs.

Of course, I still get inspiration from the web, from my friends, from books and from other desperate sources, but as I walked with my camera yesterday, I realised that living life at pavement level plays a big role in my own creativity.  It is my time to think, to observe and to reflect...rare gifts in the world of mothering small children. That time to pull it all together probably plays a bigger role than any one thing, even my red shoes.

Where do you find inspiration?

What We Are Up To

It seems that the days are just flying by in that new baby haze of busyness.  We wake up and then woosh, its bedtime.

But of course, its not all new baby centred...we are getting back into the groove of being ourselves, not just Georgia's mother, brother and father.

Ellis has a new obsession with bubbles...they MUST be blown everyday. I am heading off to the grocery story this afternoon to buy the ingredients for this bubble recipe, as we are going through a couple of pints a week!!!

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He also talks all of the time. From the moment he opens his eyes in the morning, until he collapses at the end of the day.  I have to admit that I love talking with him and listening to the things that come out of his little brain. His current obsession is with 'sunnytime'.  This time of year, it never gets dark, so Ellis is CONVINCED he can stay up as long as he wants to, "But I can't go to bed, mama!  Its Sunnytime!"

He also continues to be ever so slightly mad, and spent much of yesterday like this:

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Kevin continues to work away and his may be the only person in Britain looking forward to Big Brother (please note: I didn't marry him for his taste in TV).

I have decided to go to boot camp and get my creativity charged up, not least because I have to take photographs for a wedding in a few weeks and want to do everything I can to take good pictures for my friends. There may be random photos popping up on the blog, like my interpretation of yesterday's theme picnic:


Picnicking, 3 Year Old Style

I have really started cooking again.  Being dairy free really forces me to think about what we are eating and is getting me out of the rut of eating the same things every week.

I am also off to collect some elderflower for cordial fritters.  I have been eyeing the bushes in the park every day for the last week and I think they are about to pop!

Oh and look away now, if you are in any way squeamish. This is the living logic of why this blog is called Slugs on the Refrigerator. This beast was on our countertop to greet us on Monday morning.

enormous slug

And yes, I am still afraid of slugs.

The Cafe of My Dreams

Come close...I have something to tell you.  Its my favourite secret daydream, so don't tell anyone.

I have always wanted to own a cafe.


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Something unique.  With handmade cakes served on mismatched china.  Tea served in old cups and saucers.  Opulent deserts.  Local ingredients. Old school jazz playing in the background. Customers who linger (and eat copious amounts of food whilst there, keeping me in business).

However, as I have no capital for investment, no business experience, no professional cooking qualifications, a relative disdain for Health and Safety...oh, and having never even worked in a cafe, this dream has remained a comfortably distant but delicious daydream.

Which is fine, because I spent this afternoon in the physical embodiment of the cafe of my dreams.

Whilst visiting Tantie, we wandered down to the Bruntsfield area of Edinburgh and had coffee and cake in the utterly delightful Chocolate Tree cafe. It is heartbreakingly perfect--down to the Ella Fitzgerald playing in the background and the gorgeous confections served on vintage china.

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The coffee machine sits on an old mirrored dressing table. The seating and the tables are all mismatched and vintage.  What must be a life-sized copy of the Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel hangs along one wall. THe wallpaper is mismatched, flocked and floral. There must have been 7 or 8 different kinds of hot chocolate alone, not to mention teas and coffees galore. There are two cases of sweets, one full of the most gorgeous black, brown and ivory chocolate gems, the other laid out with cakes that the gods must have dreamt up.

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However, unfortunately, most of the cafe's wares were unavailable to me.  For I, like others, have had to go dairy and soy free to help my little girl's little tummy. 

You can imagine my drool when Kevin tucked into a latte and a berry chocolate truffle cake with cream (which I may have INSISTED he ordered, so I could lick his spoon). Even though he was forced into ordering it, he said it was perfect...with the tart berries cutting through the thick, claggy, rich chocolate cake and cream base.  I bet you can hear my "oooh" and "ahhh" as Tantie devoured a strawberry cheescake with a nut base.  I am sure you can picture my face as they drank their lovely milky, frothy coffees.

And I am sure you can imagine what will be in my dreams tonight...

Some Visitors and Some Favourites

Yesterday, a number of visitors arrived here on South Street. And so the next few days are going to be spent in the company of one Grandpa from London and 3 lovely ladies visiting for a makeover from Pembrokeshire before they go back to their rightful owners.

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So whilst I knit away and Ellis chats away endlessly to his grandfather, here is a bit of a Blog-iversary review of my favourite posts over the last year to keep you entertained.

On Motherhood

At Least I Can Spell Equanimity On my struggle to remain cool, calm and collected in the face of toddlerdom and motherhood.

The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day One of my favourite posts about a truly awful day, in rhyme.

If I Run On the overwhelming desire to run away from responsibility


On Creativity

Internal Wisdom Probably my favourite post of all time and something I need to come back to time and again.

A Room of Our Own On the struggle to create as a mother of small children.

Quick This one really sums up so much of why I make anything...just to feel like I have something to show for a day.

Craft Therapy Ooh, my whip up post...goodness was I excited when Kath posted this!


On Expat Living

Things You Lose That You Can't Get Back

Take Me Out To The Ball Game Becoming more American than I ever was in America.


On Gardening

Small Miracles by Default Ah yes, gardening...which I love so much but am SOOOOO lazy!

Enjoy!! I'll be back on Saturday with the winner of the giveaway. I have absolutely loved reading everything you are grateful for and I am truly humbled by all of your lovely comments about the blog!! If you haven't entered there is still time.

Blogging and Making Excuses
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Several months ago, I began receiving hostile emails related to the blog.  They were from the same person, someone I may or may not know, criticising pretty much everything about the blog and my life, but generally that I was "fake" and that I wrote about "stupid things". At about the same time, I was also openly criticised on another blog for being smug.

I lost a lot of sleep over these incidences, but had generally moved on after a couple of breaks from this space and limiting my interaction on discussions about blogging as a medium.

As I approach one year of Slugs on the Refrigerator, I have been thinking...Did I ever answer the questions those critics raised? Am I fake? Is this space what I want for it to be?

Overwhelmingly, I come back to the fact that it IS... though it is not without some hesitation. I admit to using the blog as a motivation to find "bloggable moments" in my own life and sometimes have questioned whether that is right or wrong.

::I have often hurried up making something with the express idea of finishing it so I can show you all. 

::I use this space as an excuse to take pictures of yarn and food and my feet...things I would NEVER do if I didn't have this space. 

::I have looked at my own life through bloggy spectacles and relayed the bits of my day that would be best suited to this space and fit with the "flow".

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While, not all of it is rosy and pink, I am aware that a lot of it is. I clear away the mess at the edges because, well, it is just my personality.  I don't write about my awful days (on the whole) because in those situations, I don't really want to talk to any one.  In those moments where I shout at Ellis or Kevin, where I behave badly, or where I do something incredibly stupid, the immediate audience of 3 is enough...I don't need any other witnesses.

But even more than that, I am acutely aware of my responsibility to Kevin and Ellis in keeping this blog.  I have to ask myself, what do I want sent out into the world about my family?  When Ellis is older and googles his name, what stories will be there about him and our relationship?  While slightly embarrassing him with stories of his mischief is one thing, writing out the darkest moments of our life is something else entirely.  These moments are not what make us mother and son, they are part of it, but only small drips on overwhelming sea of love and they do not need to be immortalised.

In my experience, the negatives are easy to remember. Like so many girls, growing up I was told by a number of voices from a number of directions about how overweight/unattractive/underachieving I was...and it still haunts me today. As a parent, I control this space and I say it will not be a place where I document any thoughts of that kind.  My job is to love Ellis unconditionally and while, like everyone, I have my moments with him, I never want there to be anything but evidence of my love for him circulating in the world, because that is what I feel is the most important thing I can give him.

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Of course, I have also shared some of the darker moments, but not without incredible internal effort.  Each time I have done so, I have had to ask myself why I am doing it and if I am doing good or doing future harm by pressing "publish" at the beginning of the day. Often posts fail that test and delete is pushed instead.

And so, I think that documenting the good, pretty and funny and creating moments in my life for those things are the bit that I like best about blogging.  Its about making excuses, living intentionally and making those intentions visible and tangible.

::I love to write and take pictures and keeping a blog is my excuse to do so. By having it public it means I am accountable for not only what I say, but also saying something

::We try to live a life full of meaning and purpose. I believe that its all in the details and I don't want to sleep walk through it all. Making our own cheese and bread, growing some of our own food, choosing handmade over mass produced are all small ways of ensuring that we are thinking about what we are doing with our resources of time and money. By looking at my life through that lens via the blog, it helps keep me focussed on that goal (or feel ever so slightly guilty when we order pizza ;)

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:: But above all, we, I, want to build a family, a home and a life that has creativity and love at its centre. While it may come as second nature to many, it doesn't always to us.  But by having this space to come to, I am forced to ask myself where and how I have done that today, and if I haven't then how am I going to tomorrow.

Making excuses doesn't feel like a bad thing, but I am awar eit is about balance.  Most days, the collective history of Slugs on the Refrigerator reflects the person I am. Somedays, it reflects a person far distant from the one I am acting like. No one is the best version of themselves everyday.  But above all, it is a mark in the sand.  A point to return to...sometimes striving towards, sometimes surpassing, but fundamentally me.

And so, as is so often the case, my response to my critics comes long after the conflict is over. 

But then, it was probably never about them in the first place.