It’s My Birthday Too…

 

So, today’s my birthday.  And Mother’s Day.  Obviously, on an occasion like this, I would normally be stuffing my face with plenty of cake, prosecco and lard.  However, I’ve been following Slimming World since January, after seeing a photo of myself at a wedding where I resembled an elephant on a big night out.

I’ve lost almost two stone so am now more Garfield than Mrs Large.  But, as I’ve still got a way to go before I’m Minnie, I celebrated my big day with a slice of Slimming World Lemon Couscous Cake.   It actually tastes really good and is Syn free.  (Yes, it’s a tweak to all you SW fanatics out there, but I don’t care.  If you’re not a SW fanatic, just enjoy.)  Plus, it’s super easy to make.

I topped it off with a spoonful of fat-free Lemon Curd and a swirl of raspberry jam.  Tastes just like a Victoria Sponge…(try telling HWW that!)

Lemon Couscous Cake

4oz Couscous
2 Eggs
2 Lemons (Juiced) Rind Optional
3 tbsp Granulated Sweetener
1 Tub (250g) Quark or Fat-free Yoghurt
1 tsp Baking Powder
—————–

Cover the couscous in boiling water. Cover and leave to stand for 5 mins and fluff with a fork.

Whisk the eggs separately.

Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.

Bake in a greased loaf tin at 180C for 40 – 45 mins. Once cooked stick a clean knife in and check the inside is cook. The knife should come out fairly clean – No gooey mixure stuck to it.

Enjoy whilst thinking of how much you hate chocolate and wouldn’t eat a pizza if someone paid you. [What, is that actually a job?? – Ed]

Happy Birthday, indeed.

 

Wednesday Week

Not much writing going on in the Barbed Words house.  My week can pretty much be summed up as:

Packing.  Work.  Packing.  Coffee.  Packing.  Packing.  Coffee.  Taking child to doctors.  Tea.  Iced Bun.  Chemists.  Going to charity shop.  Gardening.  Gin and tonic.  Pasta.  Packing.  Coffee.  Packing.  Charity shop.  eBay.  Tea.  Gardening.  Pizza.   Top Gear.  Top Gun.  Driving 200 miles to drop off some crap valued possessions.  Wine.  Packing.

Repeat a few more times and that’s about it.  What a marvellous week.

Yet again, the only bit of writing I managed was the Six Word Story Challenge.  The prompt word was Dark.  Lots of stories about scary places, coffins and death.  My entry:

Bugger. The bloody bulb’s gone again.

Keeping it real, man.

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Last conversation at school before I headed off for the joy that is the half-term break:

‘Miss, I’ve squashed my banana.’

‘That’s a shame, Harry.’

‘Not my banana, Miss, an actual edible one.’

‘Well, thank you for clarifying that…’

What I Go to School For

Although in Rome, I enjoyed the life of a lady who lunches (or drinks cappuccino, at least), once back in England I needed to find work.  As I have children, I wanted a job which offers flexible hours and time off in the holidays [Sure your poor work ethic didn’t have anything to do with it??  Ed.  Shut your face – Me].

Therefore, like 70% of the mums I know, I’ve ended up working in a school.  Apparently, 1.5 million part-time workers are over-qualified for their jobs, with women worst affected. This totally applies to me.  Even if I did full-time hours, my job would still pay less than half what I was earning fourteen years ago before having kids. Moral of the story?? DON’T TAKE A CAREER BREAK!!  Or, at least don’t something that changes so drastically over the years that you can’t go back.

Anyway, part of my job is supervising the library.  And the students that use it.  So my day involves conversations like this:

‘Miss, Josh has drawn a penis on my book.’

‘Josh, don’t draw in Harry’s book.’

‘Miss, Harry’s lying!  I didn’t draw a penis.’

‘Miss, look, here’s the penis.’

‘Yes, I can see it, thank you, Harry.  Can’t you just rub it out?’

‘I haven’t got a rubber, Miss, so I can’t rub the penis out.’

‘Right, here’s a rubber.  Just rub it out please.’

‘Miss!  I’ve rubbed the penis out but you can still see it.   He’s ruined my book with a penis.’

‘Harry, it’s fine.  You can hardly see it.’

‘Miss, I didn’t even draw that penis.’

‘He did, Miss, he drew the penis.’

‘I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR ANYONE ELSE SAY THE WORD PENIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’

‘Miss?’

‘WHAT?’

‘You said penis.’

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Another Six Words

Another busy week and another week of not writing much.  But I did manage to enter the Six Word Story Challenge again.  So a total of six words written in seven days.  Go me!

The theme this week was ‘Horror’.  My entry summed up a terrifying experience that I’m sure we’ve all been through:

The stubborn turd refused to flush.

Ok, I might not have taken it quite as seriously as other entrants but I did get three votes…

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Getting Lazier with Six Word Stories…

Hmmm, I seem to have lapsed into blog silence since the A-Z Challenge.  Things are a tad stressful at the moment – we’re about to move for the third time in a year.  There’s too much to do.  Too much to think about.  And blogging is one of those things that’s very easy to drop when times are busy.

But, according to Ally Bean, “In personal blogging, quality of post is less important that the fact that you managed to show up again, against the odds, and write something.”

Is that true??   Is quantity preferable to quality?   I’m not so sure.  I tend to stop following bloggers or tweeters (?) who post all the time.   Especially if they’re really just posting sales pitches for their products.

But, in the interest of posting slightly more often, I think I need more challenges.  So here’s the first one.  I’m starting off easy with Sometimes Stellar Storyteller Six Word Story Challenge.  SIX WORDS??!!  Even someone as lazy as me can manage that.   The theme of this week’s challenge is ‘Paranoia’.  My entry is:

Mice watch me.  They’re CIA spies…

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I’ll let you know if I win… (which I won’t).  I was going to use pigeon spies but I just really wanted to post this picture.  So mice it was.

Ok, that was a nice break but now it’s back to stressing.

 

 

 

V is for Victoria Wood as Seen by Me

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I felt genuinely upset by the death of Victoria Wood last week. Other recent celebrity deaths, such as David Bowie or Alan Rickman, have also saddened me but Victoria’s shocked me. I think it’s because of how young she was and that she was regularly in my living room (via the TV, sadly not actually sitting on my sofa – or settee, as she would probably have said) growing up and so I felt like I knew her. Or at least I connected with her humour, her intelligence and her on-screen personality – and the fact that she wasn’t a skinny minny. I probably knew her better, or saw more of her, than many of my distant relatives, so when she died, it almost felt like a member of my extended family dying.

When someone we know, be it in person or a celebrity, dies, not only do we grieve for them, it reminds us of our own mortality. It makes us question our lives: ‘What am I doing? Have I achieved everything I want to? Or am I wasting my time?’

This really hit me when Prince also died last week. I wasn’t a huge Prince fan, although I liked all his 80s music, but I adored 1999. It was a huge song at parties when I was a teenager, when we’d scream out the lyrics, thinking how far away 1999 was and how successful and happy we’d be then. And now 1999 is 17 years in the past and life is moving so quickly and where does all the time go and WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!! (Sorry, yesterday’s post is still with me…)  I confess to shedding a little tear when 1999 came on the radio the day after Prince’s death.

We’ve gone through a boom time in the last twenty or thirty years, when TV, movies and music (and internet) have exploded, resulting in a lot more celebrities than in our parents’ or grandparents’ eras. But as we get older, we don’t tend to follow young music or know the names of young actors or Youtubers, so our body of celebrities that we know and love will keep getting smaller and smaller. And our outpouring of grief will probably continue to grow larger and larger as we feel the need to share our grief with others on social media.

For many people, this sharing of grief can help them deal with their own feelings; they want to feel that others are going through the same thing. Personally, I don’t need to read what other celebrities have said in 140 characters or less to know how I feel about someone’s death. In fact, it does sometimes feel like a race for celebs to get their vacuous and repetitive, ‘Wow, what a legend. The world is a poorer place today!’ tweets out there as quickly as possible for fear that the Daily Mail will run an article on how unfeeling they are.

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Anyway, less of lesser celebs – back to Victoria.

Her clever and sublime way with words was easily on a par with Alan Bennett, beautifully observed and down to earth. I probably quote her at least once a month – I just have to hear the words Grouting, Woman’s Weekly or Hostess Trolley to burst into song, and I can’t say the name Kimberley unless it’s in a strong Northern accent. (I also do a pretty good Mrs Overall impersonation when drunk, which is improving with each passing year…) My husband still won’t eat prawns, thanks to Victoria, “Don’t have the prawns, they hang around sewage outlet pipes treading water with their mouths open.”

Quotes and songs have been all over the internet but here are some of my picks:

“I once went to one of those parties where everyone throws their car keys into the middle of the room. I don’t know who got my moped, but I drove that Peugeot for years.”

“People think I hate sex. I don’t. I just don’t like things that stop you seeing the television properly.”

“Jogging is for people who aren’t intelligent enough to watch television.”

“All my friends started getting boyfriends, but I didn’t want a boyfriend, I wanted a thirteen-colour biro.

She wrote some fabulous characters, such as Kitty, played by Patricia Routledge. Northern and proud of it, she speaks as she finds: “My three rules for a long life are regular exercise, hobbies and a complete avoidance of midget gems. I’m not one for dance classes, feeling if God had wanted us to wear leotards he would have painted us purple.”

But I think my favourite line was Victoria talking about the Pencil Test:

“They said that if you could hold a pencil under your boob, you needed a bra. Me, I could hold a whole branch of W.H. Smiths.”

I could relate to that, just as I could relate to Victoria’s warmth, wit and intellect, all of which seemed attainable for us ordinary folks.

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It seems appropriate to finish with a song.  Obviously it’s going to be Let’s Do It, but first, to say goodbye to Victoria, here are the poignant lyrics she wrote to the Dinnerladies theme tune.   Oh dear, this is going to set me off again…

Getting up, getting out, getting on, getting going,
Wears away at the dreams that you hold in your heart,
All the scared little choices you make without knowing,
Take away from the thing that you had at the start.

Day by day, drops of water wear the stone away,
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…

All the dreams that you had when it all lay before you,
All the plans that you made, all the things you would do,
All the schemes that you knew time would bring to fruition,
Did they happen? Not so far, at least not to you.

Day by day, drops of water wear the stone away,
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…

 

This is today’s post for the #atozchallenge.  Four to go…

I is for Innovative Ideas to Make a Living

A friend* and I are always discussing ways to make enough money so that we can give up work.   From writing educational books or inventing apps to running a coffee shop or baking cupcakes, we’ve been through hundreds of ideas.  But her latest idea sounds like the easiest one.

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Yep, these are definitely my legs (if they were wearing woolly tights and a pair of slippers. And the carpet needed hoovering…)

Apparently,men people will pay for used/worn/preloved tights.  All you need to do is bulk-buy packs of tights for 50p each, wear them for ten minutes, then list them on eBay with a slightly saucy photo for £5 each and wait for the bids to come rolling in.

The only down side is that it’s a bit distasteful and not the sort of thing to discuss at PTA socials.

‘So, what you do you for a living, Barb?’

‘I sell my used tights on eBay.’

‘Sorry, I think I spotted someone I know across the room.’

Hmmm, back to the drawing board.   But if you really do have have any legitimate, less seedy, money-making ideas, please feel free to share 🙂

*She may have to be downgraded from ‘friend’ to ‘acquaintance’ after revealing that she only likes hanging out with me because I make her feel thin…