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Had one of the weirdest dreams last night, a real humdinger! Usually my dreams are quite intense to begin which end up with me sitting up in bed talking in my sleep and flapping my arms around. Yes, if you ever want a panic attack in the middle of the night, sleep next to me.

Anyway, I digress. So the dream started off with me receiving a cloth cheque through the post addressed to my mom but sent to me and the note that was attached to it (also made of cloth, kind of like calico) informed me that my mom had won a prize and would be receiving £32.00 per week for the next 10 weeks due to winning an advertising competition. Seeing as this was all wrong and that the cheque should have gone to my mom directly, hubby and I decided to go to the advertising company to inform them of this horrendous mistake and try to find out what we can do to solve this.

We got to the office (in an instant, I like dream travelling) it seemed to be the standard government type building, square and depressed. Walking into the building were a group of people, all dressed in black looking serious and importantly chatting to each other while milling around. I whispered to R ‘they’re evil’ and then sat down and waited to be called into the office of the big honcho.

When we were finally called, we walked into an office with the worst carpet ever, 70’s type feel with the light greasy coating that all office carpets usually get when not cleaned to often. The big honcho ended up being a woman who held a baby covered in a terrible red rash, almost like huge boils. She was incredibly helpful, but in that slimy fake way. I picked the baby up and quietly rocked it to sleep while explaining that my mother’s prize money either needed to be sent to her directly or addressed to us so that we can collect everything and pass it on to her when we see her (which, in real life, is February 09 woohooo) Creepy lady agreed, I put the baby down, folded the cloth cheque and preceded to leave the office but no matter how many stairs and levels I climbed down I always ended up on the second floor. Finally realised that in order to leave I needed to make a run for the fire exits and ran down endless corridors, making many turns before seeing the light of the afternoon. Made it outside and slowly woke up to the alarm.

Hmmmm, maybe I ate too much Candy Corn?

And for news in the real world, our laptop has done the final dance of death and we’re currently in negotiation with the bank account to see if we can purchase another one.  Is it a bad thing  that I want one in a nice  pretty colour?

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It has been a busy couple of days here at the other monkey house, the smell of baking has been overwhelming.  Various things needed to be baked this week. Rocky road bars made for a work Halloween charity sale, lemon cake baked for a friend, and chocolate fudge brownies made for a Halloween party last night.

I do love going to a house where you are guaranteed to have at least 4 different desserts at the end of the evening.  I must say the pumpkin cheesecake was my favourite and luckily we managed to bring some home with us as well.

The most important thing of all is that I was introduced to the very addictive candy corn!  Yummy!  How do Americans restrain themselves from eating it all the time?

I was going to write a post about slow-cooking as I made a delicious steak, ale and cheese pie the other weekend to celebrate the new season coming but, unfortunately the pictures were deleted, ahem.  Will post it another time as I am sure that more pies, stews and casseroles will be made here at the other monkey house in the coming weeks.

Wow, November already.

Fabric…

For another project.  Yes, my to-do list is growing and growing.  Now I just have to sit down and do something rather than accumulate stuff.

Temptation

I have been looking forward to the Knitting and Stitching Show since my friend M pointed it out and said that we just had to go.  We promptly bought our tickets and then spent many days emailing each other with many exclamation marks dotted between ‘excited’ and ‘can’t wait’.

The show was held at Alexandra Palace which had the most beautiful views, a grand staircase leading to the entrance and was filled with many happy crafters.  To be honest, has anyone met an unhappy crafter yet?

I came away with my head filled with ideas and hankering after more tools, fabrics and yarns to make more things.  Luckily I went with 2 friends and no partners or else the testosterone might have put a dampener on our spending and gabbing and cooing over the most beautiful yarns and fabrics under one roof.  Next year, I’ll better prepared and go with bigger bags and more cash.   Here is my loot and no, I can’t wait to begin the winter projects either.

We’ll start with the small but essentially cute needleholders which ensure that my knitting won’t unravel itself.  Although, to be honest, the way the jersey is going right now, the stitches might as well just walk themselves out the door.

These are two magnetic needleholders.  The whale has a lovely design over its body and will be going to live in my Mom’s sewing box while Mr Froggie will just have to make himself at home with me. 

Found this wonderful stall that sold easy-to-sew skirts that provide the instructions, lining, thread as well as a zipper with the cloth.  All-in-one, what a fantastic idea!

The leaf button will be joining the cherry-red yarn to soon become a scarf/cowl for me, inspiration taken from Flint Knits.

And finally, the happiness bubbled over when we turned a corner and saw a huge pile of yarn on sale.  Imagine a hill of yarn with a lot of murmuring ladies anxiously gathering all the wool they can.

The wool pictured above will be turning into a lovely soft fleecy blanket, hopefully 20 balls of yarn will cover it as I couldn’t carry anymore home with me.

If you haven’t managed to get round there this year, I highly recommend that you try next year, well worth the tired feet.

Hope everyone had a wonderful sunshine weekend.

Ridiculous O’Clock

To some people 5am is a great time in the day, if you are the only one around at the time you get some ‘quiet time’ to get all the niggly bits done, things that need no distraction.  Ever since I was a tiny baby, sleep and I were best friends.  My mom used to tell me stories of how she had to wake me up in order to feed me and I still remember the time as a teenager that I managed to sleep for 16 hours, bliss!  I love my bed and my bed loves me should have been tattoed on my forehead.

Unfortunately, as I got older the time to sleep became less.  My mom leaves for work at 6am due to living about an hour’s drive from Johannesburg and traffic being as jam-packed as possible.  When I started Uni, I had to catch a lift with her and so my mornings started at about 5.30am, my idea of personal punishment.  Now, I live about 12 hours flight from my mom and I have developed a new personal alarm clock, caffeine.  About a year ago I was struggling with sleep and dear R suggested that I cut out caffeine as this might help me, which worked like a treat.  I always drank rooibos tea when I was younger and switched to this permanently.  Recently I have discovered that if I drink any sort of caffeine, I wake up in the early hours of the morning, instantly.  Not even a gradual wakening but an instant, eyes wide open with thoughts rushing through my head instantly- type of thing.  Very irritating to say the least. 

Luckily most restaurants stock decaffeinated drinks and usually this should not be a problem for me but, we’ve been going out for the last couple of days and I have a feeling that someone ran out of de-caff and thought that I wouldn’t notice, ha!  I think I should take every person’s number down that has given me a hot drink and if it causes me to wake up, I’ll call them so we can share the experience together.

Anyway, enough about that, as I am up I might as well be doing something useful like looking at my favourite blogs and watching Pride and Prejudice.

A thatched cottage.

If I had to say ‘thatched cottage’, it might make you think of a lovely old English cottage with roses in the garden and a gorgeous tabby cat gently cleaning his paws in the calm sunshine.  Unfortunately, ‘thatched cottage’ describes my hairstyle today.  If you look under the dictionary, it will say “frumpy, frizzy unmanageable curls”.

Looking at my hair this morning in the unflattering light was just the last straw (haha) to a frazzled mind.  I used to have incredibly short hair which was easy to style.  Foolishly I have decided to grow it again and fervently promised to long-suffering husband to embrace the curliness of my hair.  It was either that, or he would haul out the prenup and remind me that the small text at the bottom refers to my hair and that ‘you will be calm when growing it’ was set in bold text for a reason.

I have been searching in vain for a hairstyle to appeal to me but I seem to be struggling with finding celebrities out there with curly hairstyles that look natural and fabulous.  I need to find a picture that I can give to my hairdresser as an example without her shaking her head sadly at me.  This will be my mission this week, find one picture of a curly haired celebrity with a style that I would like to emulate.

OK, pessimistic moan over.  If anyone has seen any optimism for sale lately, let me know, wouldya?

Well, hello September!  Time really does fly when you get older.  When I was younger I remember having to wait forever for my parents to finish watching the news before we could watch our programmes, anyone remember Party of Five

This past week at work has felt like swimming in the deep end of an endless pool.  My brain was tired and stressed and I found myself snapping at my husband for breathing to deeply and not whipping up meals on demand.  Me on PMS, never a good thing.  Luckily my manager is one of those understanding types and gave me the day off as TOIL (time off in lieu).  Yes, I toiled therefore I deserved TOIL.

The first thing I did was naturally write out a long mental list of things that needed to be done, house cleaning and washing being top of the list and I had to pull myself together and realise that this is a day for me, I could do anything that struck my fancy.  I was built with the guilt gene buried deep in my brain so this has been hard to do but so far I have;

  • slept in later than usual
  • had breakfast in bed reading blogs
  • played with the cat
  • went shopping and ended up buying some styling creme that will hopefully tame my curly hair
  • aimlessly wandered around a material store
  • nosed around Zara and drooled over a cherry red sweater with the cutest buttons on the sleeves
  • drifted around Marks and Spencer with the older generation and bought some dinner for tonight
  • came home and baked banana loaf

I think that banana loaf is one of the five fruit and veg that you should try and eat a day, it’s more-ish, cake-like and has enough bananas in it to make you feel slightly healthier after having a slice.

My recipe for this loaf came from an old cookbook called ‘Come, Cook with Mary’, it was given to me by one of my mother’s friends, who had it passed down to her from her sister who sadly passed away about 10 years ago.  Our local church in my hometown used to have all the ladies send in their favourite recipes and bind them into a cookbook, which went on sale to raise funds for the church and community.  This is one of those cookbooks, splattered with flour, oil and enthusiasm.  Most of the recipe titles begin with a persons name like, ‘Aunt Jane’s Genoa Cakes’, never mind that we have no idea who ‘Aunt Jane’ is.  But this is the book you come to when you want something familiar and comfortable to nibble on, and the banana loaf is the essence of being at home when the wind and rain come knocking on your door.

BANANA LOAF

2 cups (240 g) flour
1 cup (120g) caster sugar
120g butter
2 eggs
3 ripe mashed bananas
65ml water
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb of soda
pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 160C
Cream the butter and sugar together.  Stir in the bananas and beat well.  Beat in the eggs one by one.  Add flour and salt and stir in well.  Dissolve the bicard into the water and stir into the batter, then add the baking powder.
Pour into a well-greased loaf tin and bake for about 50 minutes.  Let cool a little in the tin before turning out.

Serve with a cup of coffee and you are good to go.