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      A week in the life on an eclectic home

      27th November

      Weeks are rushing by, we are coming up to my favourite time of year,  the baking run up to Christmas and I have no time to be ill, dam this rotten bug that has had me bed ridden and not myself this week.  As Lady Macbeth said, I'm misquoting here, "Out dam bug, out!"

      The weekend was full of fun and frivolity with two wonderful and very different bloggers, pop over to two of my favourite women in Oxfordshire the twisted yarn and  in the nicki of time to see my posts on Blogfest please do pop over to the two posts earlier this week, Blogfest,  Blogfest, the day and  Blogfest, the speakers fascinating stuff and thank you to those who are contributing to the discussions too.  Nerves permitting as a direst result of Blog fest I am going to be tweaking the blog somewhat, some of you may notice my background has changed and I have moved my Twitter feed up to the side bar, please follow there to and help me learn about this social platform, any advice from you on Twitter?  I have also added a side bar for my Instagram, you can click on a picture to enlarge it and see the caption too, I tend to post on Instagram different pictures everyday. Are you on Instagram too?

      A great day out meeting and listening to inspirational women and the odd man
      Doughty's are wholesale fabric sellers that travel all around the country selling their wares every week.  Some of the material I had seen in a local fabric shop for double the price.  Needless to say I bought far more meters than I needed to but oh so exciting.  Just feast your eyes.  Maybe they will be visiting somewhere near you soon too.

      Doughty's fabrics in a local village hall

      Until I was a married woman some oh so odd twenty plus years ago I hade never made a Christmas pudding or cake.  Our home was always filled with Scandinavian makes and any English treats we wanted were shop bought.  Marrying an English man who loves to cook my culinary senses were sent into over load and we now have our Christmas pudding tradition and along with many partake in Stir up Sunday.  The last Sunday before Advent when families come together to make the pudding with everyone in the house whether involved in the baking or not, taking a turn to stir the pudding and make a wish.  You do need to begin the night before you make it as the dried fruit needs over night soaking, but its worth it.  We use good old British Delia Smith

      Stir up Sunday Christmas pudding

      Despite having unseasonably mild weather we had a good frost covering this week too.  The only reason I am happy about this is that I can now go foraging for sloes and begin making sloe gin, yummy!  Do any of you have sloe gin or other alcoholic beverage recipes you care to share with me?  It's the season coming up...

      We've had our first frost

      On a mid week night we decided to open some fizz with the mother in law, decadent and wonderful.  Bliss

      Mid week tipple

      I visited a primary school last week and noticed the below display board and was truly shocked at how much sugar was contained in some of these items.  Pardon the pun but it's food for thought.  I have been toying with trying to go sugar free and even bought a book a few months back but it seems so hard.  Have any of you tried to eliminate sugar from your diet? If so how did you go about it and did you notice any benefits?

      Shocking amount of sugar

      Sharing with you my five photos from this week and cheekily the last one from last week and linking in with the lovely Amy  Do pop over and see what others are sharing.  I love all your comments and sometimes it takes me a day or two to reply, but reply I will as I love the questions and discussions that can evolve. 

        Hope you are all keeping happily busy  
      Remember from Tuesday, December 1st, I will be posting daily as is my tradition. 
      I would love you to join in with me

Blogfest 2015 ~ the speakers

25th November

Blogfest this year was worth the visit, not quite what I expected it to be, but a gem nevertheless.  To see the first instalment of my view on Mumsnet Blogfest see here   

What a line up of great women and a couple of men.  It was a pure treat listening to quick witted literally people, it created a buzz and an excitement for me. 

Those that stood out for me and snippets of wisdom that they shared can be found below.  Needless to say if Blogfest next year has another great line up of speakers, I'll be there for that even if I'm not blogging...

The morning panel were discussing motherhood and creativity and can women have it all.

Meera Syal CBE shared her personal views, some snippets: 

...let's take away the blame and guilt of motherhood...

...if you can afford decent childcare your options are different...

...when you become a mother there is forever a sense that part of you is elsewhere, how many men feel that?...

but my favourite that she came out with was from an old Punjabi saying,

...The loss of a sense of self scares many women - but when a child is born, both a mother and child are born

Bridget Christie, was truly funny and had much to say.  She spoke about the difficulty of organising life, work, children and that men are never asked how will they manage when a child is born to them. Her recounts of morning chaos before school and work resonated with the entire audience. Snippets from her included

...I pretend I don't have children so I can concentrate on my creativity...

...I wrote my book between the hours of midnight and 4 am...

...don't be grateful to your other half all the time...

Margaret Atwood http://margaretatwood.ca/
Margaret Atwood on live link with fellow panellists
She was there by live video link, Toronto her time it was 4.45 am, she looked good on it.  Cold with lots of layers on and a hot mug of something to keep her awake, but she had pearls of wisdom to give and I found her totally endearing.  Every time Meera or Bridget said something slightly controversial she would put her hand to her face, half covering it and give a girlish giggle.  She seemed such a fun person.  Intense but fun.  The link was not totally successful and we missed much of what she said, but having a husband who was great at home life helped her continue her writing when her daughter was born.  As a grandparent she says there are four magical words she loves to say when handing her grandchild back...

...your child is wet...  

The general consensus of this panel was yes, women can have it all, though not necessarily at the same time.  Me, I think we have so many balls to juggle in the air that we can only really focus on one or two at best and the others have to quietly manage themselves until it's their turn to be those balls up in the air and having our attention.  What are your thoughts?  Can women have it all?  How do you achieve this?

The second speaker session was titled THINK BOMB and here we were treated to three powerful speakers.  Sandi Toksvig OBE, Val McDermid and David Baddiel.

Sandi was quite convincing in her sincerity to
make life more equal for all

Sandi an excellent speaker and such a focussed woman's spoke about her vision for the political party that she co-founded, The Women’s Equality Party. But she first began with

...all lecterns are designed for tall men to say important things.  They are not designed for women...

She promptly stood behind the lectern where we could not see her, before delivering her speech from the side of the lectern.

She opened up with talking about the footsie 100 and that in the top 100 companies 17 CEO's were called John and 8 were women.  She reiterated the point, not that there are more men CEO's and the number is hugely one sided but that women are outnumbered just by men called John !!!  She said

...We should not be smug about the state of the rights of women in the UK...

and that

...The only way to get people to pay attention is to hurt them at the ballot box...

Her statistics about Egypt were goose bump sad.

Val McDermid
Val McDermid talked about how she is a 'miserable git' if she is not creating and that it is creative people that push the boundaries of life and all around it, memorable words from her for me were 

...we are hard wired for story telling.  It makes sense of the world we live in...

...Creativity is challenge. It's a slap in the face to people who say 'know your place' ...

David sharing some of his tweets

David Baddiel was hilarious and based his talk on twitter and the reactions one gets from followers, both the positive and the negative.  He stated that usually he ignores negative comments but that occasionally they get the better of him and a tirade begins, he can't help himself  

...146 retweets.  For a comedian, that's like laughs...

I do tweet very very occasionally but everyone on this Blogfest was implying it was the way of the future.  I have not grasped this yet and my head is spinning.  Do you tweet?  If so, why, how often and what do you get from it?  If not, why not?

The last session was chaired by the amazing Fi Glover.  The minute she spoke I was transported into my car or my kitchen where her dulcet tones come through the radio on a daily basis.  Here 'live' she was more colourful and cheeky than radio permits.  She came across as strong, lively, interesting, interested and knowledgeable.  After today she would be on my wish list to invite to a dinner party.  I've become a Fi Glover fan.  Who would you love to invite to a dinner party and why?

On the sofa she was joined by the emotional Shappi Khorsandi, Abby Boid, fellow blogger, Lucy Cavendish (I've read her coloum for years) and Robert Crampton.  Here the panel were to discuss:  Giving it away:  the public stories of our private lives.  What an interesting topic and one that affect all of us who either blog, belong to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any or the other hundreds of social media apps.  what we put 'out there' on the web, will stay there forever, once that send button is hit, it can not be retracted.  It's hard for us at adults sometimes to know how much or how little to share, what chance have the next generation who have grown up with all this public sharing.  This topic can divide families and hurt our friend and we need to be careful. 

Shappi was honest and open and has fallen foul of sharing too much in public, especially it seems
Shappi, great stand up with gritty raw emotion
when she was in the middle of a divorce.  Her son this year has written to Father Christmas with a list of about 8 items number 6 being please could mummy just put her phone down and not tweet anymore.  He added a Postscript to his letter saying PS Number 6 is the one I want most...

Robert clarified his view of public sharing statin that

....If the joke's on you, it's okay to share it

Lucy who has been until recently writing a column for year and many of us have had our adult lives growing up and watching her son change from a toddler into the young man he is today eel that sharing is a natural instinct and that...

...We need to share, don't we? Mumsnet is great for finding out if you're the only mother with a 12yr old who vapes

Applying this to myself, my family think I share too much and would prefer me to include them in any of my posts on social media.  I however use this all as documentation for the future and so try very hard to find a line where I can share some of them without compromising their privacy too.  it's a hard line to find but increasingly in this world one we will have to find.

What are your views on sharing in public?  I like to keep my posts and other social media light and positive as life can be too hard and depressing.  I am not trying to hide this fact, none of us have perfect lives, but I think sharing the happy times might make the world a more smiley place.

The day ended with three blogging awards handed out, with best writer being presented by none other than Lionel Shriver.  It really was a star studded day.  Being surrounded by all these blogging women and high profile people made the day inspirational and totally worthwhile.  I love blogging but it is hard work and terribly time consuming.  What do I do, carry on as is, or embrace the next steps, only time will tell.

Ending the day with cocktails and a overly stuffed goody bag to take away, I couldn't help but stop and look at all the wall art on this fabulous venue as we left for home.

Cocktails in jars

Blogfest goody bag

One of many paintings on the venue walls

A rather odd piece of wall art

  ♥  Have you ever been to a blogging convention or any venue to boost you social media? ♥

Blogfest 2015

24th November

Approaching the 3rd anniversary of this blog and I'm at a slight loss as to why I am still blogging. 
A great day out with highly motivated and interesting,
inspiring women
Taking the bull by the horns so to speak I bought a ticket to this years Blogfest hosted by Mumsnet, in the hope I could be reinvigorated and could find my blogging purpose.

I know why I began but I am not sure why I am continuing, so what did Blogfest do for me?

It made me realise I am a contradiction, I am a small fish in an ever enlarging sea of the internet.  There are so many passionate women (and men) out there writing wonderful posts about all sorts of things they have a burning desire to share that in actual fact it is overwhelming. 

Blogfest was smoothly run, time management was fantastic and apart from one hiccup, although quite major, we could not really hear the live link from Canada of the wonderfully talented Margaret Attwood, the day seemed to go without glitch.  But what did I learn?

There is so much to share that I am dividing the post into two, Blogfest ~ the speakers

The day was divided up into 9 slots, nine!! Lots to learn and take in.  There were 3 'breakout' sessions where we could choose in advance what we would like to learn more about, I chose 10 things to learn from Buzzfeed, Building your brand and How to be a YouTube sensation.  So, what did I learn?

The buzzfeed session blew my mind away in the speed of delivery by Digital Mums, co founder, Kathryn Tyler.  She is a font of knowledge but the time slot we had there was not enough time but to gloss over this huge subject.  I came away still not really knowing what buzzfeed was or really how to use it other than I should and that I should have a buzzfeed button on this blog and allow people to share my post with their own buzzfeed.  As said I'm overwhelmed and need to look into this further...

That said, looking over my copious notes I made in this session, maybe I did learn more, but just need to digest it further and supplement it as said.  Do you use BUZZFEED?  What advice or experiences have you had, please share and help me.  

The second breakout session was branding and this I was excited to attend.  Jude Brooks, ex Tesco marketing director was presenting.  Yet another highly qualified speaker who helps people connect through digital marketing communication.  She came well prepared with slides galore but it was so aimed at BIG brands that I lost a lot in translation.  She spoke much of the guru, Simon Sinek and the 'golden circle' but more importantly towards the end of her talk she mentioned his work on 'start with why'.  Be clear, she said about why you are blogging, be clear why you are sharing this particular post and be clear why you have this purpose.  What did I learn in this session?  Be more focused, more strategic and schedule more, what do you think?  She also stated that our blogs were already a brand and that we should start thinking like one, I guess I have much to learn and am learning...

Why, remember why you do things ~ Jude Brooks

YouTube sensation was the last break out session and by far the most practical and best of the day.  Having never considered making video tutorials before this Blogfest, Kate Rushworth, from YouTube took the session and held our hand from showing us videos that did not work and why to showing similar ones that did work.  It was a practical session full of facts and statistics yet practical both for the beginner and intermediate.  Having never thought about a video tutorial, it is now on my periphery vision, who knows, maybe one day...  Have you watched or created video tutorials, what do you think of them, should I give it a go, would it be useful?

Tomorrow I share with you anecdotes of some of the great speakers throughout the day.
How do you schedule your posts, on a specific day, time of day?  How do you work out what to post?  Lets start a discussion...  and if you don't blog, what would you like to see and how do you know when there is a new post? 
All feed back really appreciated, I'm trying to find my feet...

Scandinavian baking Mor Monsen

Mor Monsen
14th November

The weather is damp and despite the
fact it's unseasonably mild my mind at this time of year always turns to comfort food. The loss of a friend this week and now with the added horror of Paris and other countries suffering their own inhuman madness I need comfort and to hold my loved ones dear.

This week I harked back to my childhood culinary delights which were peppered with both Asian and Scandinavian food, we never knew which flavours would grace our plates from one day to the next. But this week as I often do,  I turned to my maternal side and baked for the first time Mor Monsen. This was a cake my mormor made all the time, never needing  to look up the recipe. It's an old traditional Norwegian stable. Try it. 

Mor Monsen

300 g butter
300 g sugar
300 g plain flour
1 ts baking powder
5 eggs
juice and rind of 1 lemon
Beat butter and sugar until light and flufffy. 

Add the eggs one at the time. 

Add flour, baking powder, juice and rind of lemon. 

Put the mixture in a small roasting tin (30x40cm) lined with baking paper. 

Pre baking, Mor Monsen

Sprinkle with chopped almonds, raisins and sugar. Bake on 175 degrees for 20-25 min

A moist sponge cake with a hint of lemon and a flavoursome topping

I am joining in with  Amy  today for five on Friday, despite the fact I'm posting on a Saturday.  I have five words that I am going to try and work on this week: compassion, companionship,  positivity, health and happiness.