Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Long distance family life

Big J and I do most things via email now and the odd Facebook call. It is a bit disconcerting that we are so efficient at not being together!
It helps though that I know the places he talks about and where things are.
When he visits my brother he sees this if he looks up outside bro's flat:

and this

the view down from bro's balcony...36 floors up!

And the workmen across the way on their bamboo scaffolding....note the hard hats!

If he goes to the markets he will see one of the butcher's stalls:

or he might fancy a snack of sticky rice and pork, (these are truely declicious):

The fishmongers has loads of live fish, I frequently bought our fish in this market, but road works are making it hard to get to....for now:

On a clear day the washing is hung outside to dry:

So, as most of these things are not far from Big J and he sees the building with the washing on his way to the MTR (subway), it is nice to be able to share these images.

There is much, much more to Hong Kong though. On the days when the hustle bustle is too much, one can escape.

I will leave those shots for another day.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Crochet motifs

This is one of the fab books I bought while I was away. 'Kagibari de amu Kawaii motif (and) komono', or Cute/pretty motifs and little things to make(actually knit) with a crochet hook....mmm...bit lost in translation that one! I love it though. Some of the samller motifs lend themselves to fine yarn and Sophie Degard type objects. I am thinking of something lacey with a lovely fine baby lace I have in my stash as day.....

My Lent blanket is motif number 5. It took a while to grasp it, but it does look a bit more interesting than a regular granny square.

For anyone wondering about the outcome of the mummy meltdown on Saturday, a long chat to Big J on Sunday and to granny from Japan lifted the mood, and then we went to IKEA and wore ourselves out looking at all the STUFF. A great day out for the three of us. Love those girlies.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Lent blanket

For the first time EVER, I am loving what I am working on. I have no colour fear/paranoia. The Lent blanket started with one ball of CROFTER yarn in blues and greens which dictated the other colours.

There is another 'jolly green giant' green as well. I am happy. What do you think?

Crochet camera strap

I started this on the flight out to Hong Kong and finished it the first jet lagged night! The strap on the camera is hard plastic and hurt the back of my neck so I made this sort of 'hippy chick' cover. Very comfy, but the girls were quick to return the camera to me if they borrowed it.
Too much like MUM.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Did you hear the band snapping?

The rubber band that coils around all the stuff inside me has been very, very stretched of late. Deadlines, distressed patients, piles and piles of ops to book and visits from outside surgeons to arrange. Work rarely comes home with me. I leave it there until I sit at my desk the next morning but it does drain my energy levels at times. At the same time, home is stressy. And youngest came to me again in tears this morning. It is time we did something about this. The problem is that am I her mum and probably too close to see things how they are. To cut a long story short, my attempts to help resulted in her anger and frustration that it was not what she wanted. 'I don't know' is the usual reaction. She wants help, she hates the suggestions, she does not know what to do.

It snapped then, that band of restraint. I got angry. With myself, with my children, with everything and everyone. It is hard to be the one that they rely on, but reviled at the same time. I had plans for today, for me, for us, but I have spent the day in youngest's room, helping her get it the way she wants it. I hate being interfering and yet I interfere. I hate being the enemy, yet I push. I would like to wrap them both up and keep them safe, but then I get cross and that must not feel safe to them at all.

At the root of all this is the feeling that as a mum I have a never ending supply of 'there,there's, of hugs, of Pollyanna like positivity. Fact is, it is not a constant supply. I get run down and cannot give as much.

Fortunately days like today are rare. We all feel a bit bruised, but I am hoping that this is part of the process of life and growing young adults.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

40 days and 40 squares

I have decided to make a square a day for Lent and then sew them into a blanket to give to one of the local hospices/charities, if they will take it.
My friend Anne is going to join me and is going to knit her 40.

I have chosen the motif and colours and have been practicing the motif. It is from a Japanese book and it is the first time that I have used the symbols for crochet over worded instructions. Handy that the girls can help out when I am struggling with one of the few words in the book.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


Up with the owls this morning, it was still dark, but the body clock was perky. Given the date I thought pancakes would be in order, but Em made herself some congee.

A rice 'soup' with, in her case, soya beans and a fish stock flavour.

So I had gluten free, sugar free blueberry pancakes with yoghurt. Not quite the naughty version, but good.

I am thinking of what to do for Lent. I am not religious, but do enjoy to challenge myself to do something for the duration. This year it is not about ME; this year, I want to do something that will benefit someone else, maybe a charity. Thinking caps on today - the deadline is looming.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Home again home again

24 hours ago I was readying to leave Big J in North Point to come home with the girls and now here we are.

It was a fabulous holiday and we did loads of things with both our girls, together, with each of them and we had time for just the two of us as well, not to mention seeing family and friends. I confess I am feeling sad now and happy too.

I am going to have a cuppa and look at my lovely new Japanese crochet books that I bought while there....that is all I bought!! I am going to think about the time we had and over the next few days will post a bit about it.

I also had time to actually crochet something practical and as Han says, 'very you, Mum'! So watch this space for another rare TA DAH from moi.

Monday, 13 February 2012

When a girl can't get to Hong Kong

She and her daughter do the next best thing.

First a trip to the V&A to see the spider silk cape
It was beautiful, really detailed and the loveliest colour.

I am not a big spider fan and Em and I had a giggle about why humans have opted for silk worms over anachrids for their luxury fibres. Simples.

As we used to every year in primary school in Japan

1. Get a bunch of silkworm babies

2. Put them on a mulberry leaf, (won't last long though, voracious eaters and you can actually hear them munching -they get through branches of the stuff)

3. Feed them till they are the size of chipolatas

4. Watch them weave their silk cocoons

During the weeks it takes to get from 1 to 4 they barely move and even when the moths hatch, they do not fly. Easy!

But take even one spider and you have to deal with legs (way too many), the tendancy to run in exactly the opposite direction than expected, usually towards you.....sticky bits of web, not to mention the fact that it might get cross and bite.

Silkworms win really, but having said that, the spider's web may be the answer to all sorts of medical and engineering questions, so well done Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley for showing the world not only its beauty but versatility I say!

The V&A is big and tiring and the solution to that is bus it towards Leceister Square and CHINA TOWN. The plan was to have Japanese food, but we watched a Chinese woman hand making dumplings in her cafe and that was it. Soup, spring rolls and delicious dumplings. Soul food.

Then crowds in the street as the lanterns used for the Chinese New Year celebrations come down and for a mere £1.00 anyone can have one. Em has one in her room now.

And the best bit of all?

We are good to go tonight. Fingers crossed, we will get there this time.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

No go

1:30 in the morning and Em and I have just arrived home from Heathrow. We were not allowed to fly, despite being at the departure gate and our bags on board. There is a discrepancy in Em's UK passport and while we have been told that she can travel, the airline would not take the risk of being turned away at the other end. Something we had verified beforehand, but the airline did not agree. Hannah also had her Japanese one with her so she has gone on her own. It was a very hard thing to do to let her go, because I hate my girls being away from me, but she is going to Big J and other family and friends and she is no longer a child.
Big J and I are crushed. This short week of family time has probably been thwarted completely. We are looking into getting an emergency travel document, but we have to get data and permission from Japan first.
At this hour nothing seems clear. A cup of tea and bed and sleep I hope. With sleep with luck there will be some clarity of mind in the morning.

What a bitter, bitter blow. Tears were shed in the bus home.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

One more sleep

and SO MUCH TO DO. Lists lie around all over the place. I am a fortunate soul as I have had the opportunity to travel a lot in my life and I usually approach it calmly. Not this week. I am SO excited.

Can't wait to see Big J xx
Can't wait to see Bro
Can't wait to see Sis in law
Can't wait to see Baby AVA ELOISE

and Jill and Fiona and Becky and Andrew and all the lovely people we know.

I love the push and shove feeling of Hong Kong, the mix of nationalities, the pencil like buildings, the Harbour, the islands, the food, the nooks and crannies where old Hong Kong plods alongside new Hong Kong. It is a wonderful place.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

It's heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeereee!

My new baby. All the way from Hong Kong. I have been tracking its journey on line and today it got here just after lunch.

It is far from easy for me to understand the workings of it yet, the instruction manual is on a CD. I think I am going to have to download bits of it and swat up. But I am happy, happy, happy. Big J has heard me talking about this for MONTHS and finally I took the plunge.

The house is currently festooned with drying laundry so does not lend itself to a photoshoot....but here is something lovely...

My freind Celia B made these for me. Disappearing nine-patch. The back of one is an old linen table napkin that is more than 100 years old.

That's what friends are for

Yesterday at work, something really unpleasant happened. It upset me a lot. I love, love, love, my job and think that it is a priviledge to be in a place where so much goes on for people who are often facing the results of catastrophic burns, facial injuries, loss of limbs and cancer. Not everyone has such big issues, we do get lumps and bumps too. I am proud of my work and put everything into it when I am there. I think I am good at it too.
Then as I said, something unpleasant happened. It shook me up and after the event I burst into tears. (This I do NOT do at work). People were kind, but in the end I traipsed over to the canteen where my three friends were having lunch. They are the best. A tissue, a glass of water and a hug and in no time at all, everyone was laughing.

Thanks girls - you are great.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Recipe for slow cooker cake

Here you go - the promised recipe - we used gluten free flour and to be honest I thought it would have been better with a different fruit. Pears, apples or apricots even. Raspberries are probably best. The peaches - from a tin - were a little bland. But the texture is lovely and it makes a great dessert.

Have a go and see for yourselves.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Slow cooker peach caramel cake

Easy as pie, looks yummy. Will post the link once we have all passed judgement.

Tattoo shoes

How cool are these? Bowl-Head (aka youngest) bought a pair of white trainers to decorate and she has come up with these amazing tattoo shoes. She is very talented.


We knew it was coming and just to confirm it, snow shovels were being sold all over town. Even the dry cleaners' sells them! But we did not buy one, no, we just ignored the fad and then woke to the scrape, scrape, scrape of the neighbours all scratching away. It was glorious this morning. Deep and powdery, but it is melting fast. My teenage daughters are on the green with their mates having a snow ball fight and riding sledges. Love that they are not too hormonal/above it all to just be kids.

There is a chook roasting in the oven. There is a tray of bird seed on the snow for our little feathered friends. I am going to make a cake in the SLOW COOKER...

Adam and I are going to walk to the shops. I love walking in snow almost as much as I like walking on beaches.

We talked to Big J in Hong Kong this morning and I took the laptop to the kitchen door to show him this:

The trees and bushes are lovely

and this is the bush that all the sparrows like to congregate in:

The house is warm and life is good.

Enjoy your snow if you have it.

Friday, 3 February 2012

It's on its way

I have taken the plunge and bought myself something long wanted. It is on its way now from the other side of the world. Just hoping like mad it gets to me before I get there (NEXT WEEK!!!!)....only one week to go before we head off to Hong Kong. I am really hoping that it helps my blog, among other things.
I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Birthday rooster

Someone nice at work, who keeps hens, is having a birthday and this little bloke is heading her way.