Thursday, 20 November 2014

I Quit, Again. Smoking the Final Frontier

I am a parent. I am a smoker. There I said it! It's out there and there are no take backsies. I am the anti-Christ of the parenting world.

I'm day three into quitting and frankly right now I'd stick my tongue down the throat of any skeevy wino puffing on a limp roll- up just to get to vacuum out the smoke from his lungs. Pathetic isn't it? Day three of mood swings, toddler tantrums, panic attacks and land mines (or as I like to call it Thursday) and I still want to stab all the things.

Strange isn't it? Of all parenting taboos, smoking is the one that seems to make you a pariah, a social outcast, shunned from all things child related. I'm not trying to defend it in any way, because frankly I too find it disgusting, but smoking is probably one of the hardest addictions to hide.

I've never been, what I would have called a "full on" smoker, but I don't think I realised the full extent of my denial until I tried to give up this time.  It doesn't really matter if it is five or fifty, if you can't get through the day without it, you are an addict.  This is not my first time at the giving up rodeo and this bitch has bucked me more than a few times. It's a rodeo that once left town almost four years but slowly crept back into my life.

In my third year of my four year "abstinence" I was kind of a dick. Socially, I could take it or leave it. I'd go out for drinks with friends, smoke a few, and not give it a thought again for weeks. I went from three years of no smoking to becoming a "social smoker".  It drove my husband bat shit crazy. We'd given up together and it tortured him. He was an ass-hat for weeks, he'd really suffered but I really couldn't understand why he was being so dramatic. Yes, the first few days are miserable but I'd sucked it up and all was good. I was strong and self-righteous in my ability to take it or leave it.

When we were trying to get pregnant, I became obsessed and stopped again. I held strong and (with a little help) was knocked up. Being pregnant and around smokers, any smokers, even people who had been near people who smoked made me gag. Hurray! Finally I was on the other side of the fence. I was one of those anti-smokers. I made myself a little crown and sat on my throne of smugness.

Pregnancy came and went rewarding me with a perfect little girl. My little Monkey.  Now fast forward eighteen months. My precious little bundle of joy was no longer little and she sure as shit wasn't joyous. She was a tyrant with a will of steel. I read some where that the correlation between how cute your baby is to how much of a shit head your toddler will become is directly proportional. I was screwed. I know that all toddlers are douche bags and that as mothers they can make you want to throttle them, but I thought I could handle it. It's cute right? I was utterly unprepared for the supersonic switch between ovary exploding cuteness to that of demonic possession.

I fully understand the phrase "driven to drink" now, because at the end of the day I was and still am broken. For the last year, my (now) two and a half year old has managed to hit every button I have with the accuracy of a SWAT sniper. She's even managed to discover some new ones. The kid could make Mother Theresa throw up her arms and say "fuck this shit, pass me the tequila and a smoke before I do something stupid". She got mad skills y'all. I'm so proud.

So there I was this Spring, standing in my garden at the end of the day, drinking a glass of wine and having a smoke, rewarding myself for a job well done. I'd made it to the end of the day and I didn't kill her! Go me. Dumb ass.

One a day, was one of the rules. One a day, what's the harm? One a day, I mean come on, I'd earned it. She'd worked me hard, my nerves were shot and in this day and age, let's face it, everything is bad for you. Screw it, it's only one a day.

My own hypocrisy is quite staggering. I had a list of do's and don'ts, rules to facilitate my emotional crutch, and make no mistake, that is what it is (not was) but is. It's a combustible Binky and an excuse for me to escape for a few minutes to take a breath (ha) and re-group.

But it didn't stay one a day. Even as I sit here, I'm couldn't tell you at what point I made it okay for myself to change the rules. But I guess that's the scary part of addiction, all addictions, as addicts we can work out a way to justify it.

We give ourselves little pep-talks "this is the last time, and then I am done" or "I am so stressed I need it to take the edge off" or my personal favourite "I'm just going to finish pack because I don't want to waste it". Volumes of books could be written by addicts and those in recovery at the excuses they've made to facilitate their own brand of Binky and we could fill the universe with the shame and guilt when we cave in to it.

All addictions by definition are bad for you, with some more deadly than others. It's Russian roulette, a loaded gun that WILL, one way or another, get you in the end. We are grown ass adults and any way you look at it, we know what we signed up for. You pay your money you take your chance.

For one reason or another, this last nine months have been a bloody nightmare. I'm trying to remember when my "one a day" became two, became three, became more. Earlier and earlier I was actually starting to crave. "What the hell is this? This hadn't happened before". My evening "smokey treat" was turning into my lunch time, nap time any time treat. A reward for almost anything, a way to kill time, or escape. It wasn't long before life started revolving around it. Scheduling in my little smokes around laundry, cooking and (I'm ashamed to say) parenting. I tried justifying it in so many ways, but ultimately, I had started smoking again. I wasn't in control any more, it controlled me. To a control freak, nothing is more terrifying than not holding the reigns to our own life.

I don't think I have ever fully appreciated how bloody hard it is to quit smoking, it had never been this hard before. I actually had to have some will power to so this. So, I quit, aaaaand I started again. I was up and down like a fiddlers elbow, going to bed at night, promising faithfully that this was the last one, that tomorrow was going to be The Day. Every morning I decided, I was done that was it. Only nope, I was wrong. I took myself to my wrong cave and was wrong with my wrongness. My ability to take it or leave it had buggered off and taken my will power with it. Panic!

Shit happened. I've been on and off the metaphorical wagon so many times it has my ass is embossed into the upholstery. I rarely said anything to anyone else about quitting, just to cover myself in case I failed. You can't publicly fail if nobody know you are trying right?

So what is different this time? Well I guess, I am sick of giving myself an "out". Shit or get off the pot Missy. Put up or shut up.

I want to do this for me. To prove to myself that I can actually follow through (get it?) on something and stick with it. I trying to stop treating smoking like a reward or a security blanket and learn that there are other ways of getting through the day.

I also understand now that I will always be a smoker. It'll always be my Achilles heel. I know now that every time I go out with friends or have a drink, any time I'm having a shitty day and try to rationalise to myself, "just this one time", I may fall off my finely upholstered wagon. Life is filled with a veritable firing range of triggers and cue's that are going to make me want to light up. If I can get through today, then I can try to do it again tomorrow.

The crawling in my fingers will pass, that the short tempered bitchiness and anger will go (probably) and I will stop thinking about lighting up a "smokey treat" all the time. It doesn't really help me when I am smack in the middle of the emotional claymore of toddler resistance, canine attention seeking and dinner time drama, (the stabbing hour) but writing this and taking ownership of it has helped a bit today. Tomorrow is another day. In the mean time, if you need me I will be busying my fingers with some power knitting and trying to remember that I can do it.

If you have never struggled with addiction, please try to be patient with those who do. If you have found the strength to conquer any addiction, then I take my hat off to you and salute your strength. I don't know you but I am proud of you. To those how have fallen off the wagon once, twice or many times, please keep trying, I can slide on over, there is always room on the chariot for one more. You are not alone.





Monday, 10 November 2014

Wanted, sister wife.

I started writing this while lying in bed feeling like hammered shit. All I was able to think about while trying to horizontally parent my mercurial daughter is - damn, I could use some help.

Like so many, we are a paycheck to paycheck house hold. Luxury items such as daycare and babysitters are just not in our budget. So it gets extra fun when I get sick.

Let me explain. I suffer from a chronic illness, well a few actually, but on the whole my days are manageable. I work hard to stay in shape (sadly that shape is not that of an athletic super model and more that of the Pillsbury Doughboy) to keep my symptoms in check, but there are some things you can't fight, and that is the common cold.

It hit me like a truck, a truck filled with enough mucus to lubricate the world's automotive industry till the end of time. To add insult to injury I also got my period. (Well played mother nature, Bitch!)



So as lay lay there in bed, praying for the sweet release of death, having called my husband to come home from work early, it struck me that I needed a wife.

As a wife and a mother we do it all. Cook, clean, referee, taxi, educate and everything in between. Its bloody hard doing it all, so wouldn't it be awesome if you could outsource some of that shit.  I'm not talking about a cleaner or a house keeper but an actual wife.

Wait, "what the ever loving fuck Zoe?" you may think, but hear me out. I haven't been watching too much TLC (The Learning Channel - there's a misnomer if ever there was one) or any other Mormon related romanticised fiction, but if you think about it, they might be on to something.



What if you, as a wife could choose your own wife? What if you had someone to jump in and share the load, to do all the shit you do? Wouldn't it be great if all wives had, well....a wife.

So let's take religion out of it and break it down into a simple advertisement.

Wanted - Sister Wife.

Qualifications:

1. Patience of Job - You don't have to know who he is, but holy shit do you need his life skills to cut it in this house. Also punctuality, be on time for shit.



2. Know you way around the kitchen. - I'm not talking about where the fridge is, or how to make a stellar cup of tea, (this too is a vital qualification, I'm English so this is important) but to know how to knock out a meal that tastes awesome and will appeal to toddlers and me. The Husband will eat almost anything so long as the basic food group is represented. Meat. We like food in this house, I am shamelessly one of those people who bake and then post pictures of it. Don't judge, instead jump on board the delicious yummy goodness train.

3. Enjoy a drink. - This is not get shit faced on a Tuesday morning (though no judgement, it's 12 o'clock somewhere), but more of a know a decent bottle of wine and make sure there is more than one available.



4. Like my kid - I've seen her make the gayest man in the world's m'ovaries explode so I know she has likeable qualities, but she can also be a little turd, and when the switch gets flipped even I find it hard to like her.

5. Flexibility - As parents we all know that things can change in the blink of the eye. "Best laid plans" and all that. You need to be able to rally in a pinch and take one for the team.

6. Be organised. - I am not. I couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery.

7. Badassery (yes this is a word). - Have my back, even when I am a total asshat. I'm not saying that you shouldn't call me on my shit when I am being a tool, but do it afterwards, and make sure I have wine.

8. Know when to say no. - I don't. Also I need someone to give me shove and push me.

9.  Like doing laundry. - I fucking hate it!




10. Dog person. - Because dogs are awesome. That is all.

11. Live in close proximity. - Logistics and all that. You are no bloody good to me if you live on the other side of country.

12. Have a voice. - This one is important. No shrinking violets please. We are not shouters in this house (with the exception of people under waist height) but I have ADD and tend to get excited and lose track of the point. I can literally be half way through a sentence and forget what I was talking about, and oooh look.. Squirrels.

13. Like doing laundry. - Seriously I cannot stress this one enough.

14. Be crafty. - Not the sneaky kind (though this is also a plus) but I am an illustrator, sewer, knitter and general faffer. It's my crack. You need to be on board with this, and not blink at the cupboards, drawers and other storage containers filled with paraphernalia or judge when I come home with more.

15. Sing. - You don't have to do it well, but if you can bust our some Twinkle Twinkle Little Star while shaking your ass to Billy Idol's Mony Mony or any other 80's awesomeness, then you are a keeper. If you can shamelessly do this in the supermarket then all's the better.

16. Nerdery. - Have intimate knowledge of one or all of the following; Fantasy fiction and films, any and all things Marvel or DC related and computer geekery. (I know nothing but it will give you something to talk to the hubster about). This list is not limited to these items, please feel free to bring your own special brand of crazy to the table. There is always room for more.

17. Sarcasm, swearing and inappropriate poop jokes. - Because shit is just funny.



Recompense :

I offer you, a house filled with love, chaos, laughter, tantrums, snot, and so much more. I will take your kid when you are sick and make you dinner when you are hungry and you can't be arsed. I will reign down fire on anyone who fucks with you and yours and do my best to listen when you just need to have a whinge. I'll hand you a glass of wine at the end of a long shitty day, and knitted mittens on cold ones. I'll pimp out my husband when your computer hands you the blue screen of death or when you need something moved. In short, I got your back.



As I write this though it occurs to me that I already have a wife. A few actually, (take that Mormons) I am pretty damn lucky that almost all of these qualities and a few more are wrapped up in my closest friends. They have keys to my house and know my kitchen as well as I do. They are as un-phased at the husband wandering around in his boxers in the morning as they are at my last minute panic cancellations. They parent my kid as much as I do, and I trust them enough to back almost any call they make. I don't have to share conjugal rights (down side of this is I don't get my bed to myself half the week, Mormons got that one right) but on the whole, I think I've got it pretty good.

Still, I can't help but think that polygamy can't be all that bad, but then I think who else but the awesome dude I married would have me? Nah, I think I am good.



Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Competitive Firsts Can Suck It!

In the world of competitive parenting I have observed so much madness, and this, coming from someone with as much baggage as I do, is no small thing.

There seems to be no end to the one up man-ship and the perpetual pissing contests. Keeping up appearances and maintaining the façade of perfection has become so important that it trumps the actual job of parenting. One of the latest trends is competing for firsts.

Why is everyone in such a rush for our kids to reach those milestones? I take almost a perverse enjoyment out of confounding these 'one-up' parents with my classy whit and repartee.

"Little Laura was potty trained by eighteen months!" Good for you, I say! My kid, stuck her hand down her shitty nappy and shoved it in my face while yelling "look mama, poop".

"Darling Felix can recite the entire works of Shakespeare" - Splendid, more power to you. Mine can bust out a free-style Twinkle Little Star and Row Your Boat mash-up. Eat it Kanye!

"Felicity enjoys Camembert and pate served on the back of mermaid scales." - Delighted to hear it, mine eats worms and boogers.

"Look at Charles is in his matching designer chinos and blazer, we sold a kidney to buy them, but doesn't he look just darling" - Christ alive, you paid how much? Shit my kid looks like a hobo fell into a fancy dress bucket at a charity store.

"Well obviously we enrolled Chelsea in Ballet class at two, one has to get ahead of these things." Say what now? Mine grabs a pole and grinds up and down on that bad boy like her college education depends on it.  *whispers* Don't lose that skill kid, you may need it later.

To be fair, I consider it a win if my kid is covered in food, dirt, markers and smiles at the end of the day. It's not always a given, she is two for craps sake and a fickle little bitch at the best of times, but she hasn't anyone to impress but herself as far as I'm concerned. She's water-proof and won't melt if she gets covered in crap. A bath at the end of the day for a job well done is reward enough. Like her, clothes will wash and if they stain, shit happens. Wrapping your kid in a bubble of perfection and ridiculous standards is going to make for a miserable kid and an ulcer for you.

I've seen these poor kids at the park, restaurants and supermarkets, dressed to perfection, and utterly terrified of getting grubby and ruining their clothes. The looks of sadness and longing as they watch other kids tearing around like hooligans all covered in dirt, scuffed shoes, holes in the knees and having a ball. The poor parents who are convinced the kid has to look the part to make it in the world, hovering around with a wet wipe and some disinfectant for the germs are not helping. Christ, let's all lighten up a tad shall we.

I'm not saying that they shouldn't teach our kids respect for property, to be nice each other, to try, or that personal hygiene is optional, but can we stop using them to compete with each other and feel superior when your kid can take a crap on the toilet before someone else's. It just makes you look like a dick.

It doesn't stop there sadly, another shocking trend is to shame parents too. We have regressed back to high school. It wasn't cool then and it sure as shit ain't now.

You're screwed if you work because you missing the most important years of your kids life. You are not active enough on the PTA, your thank you gifts (this one still wigs me out) or bake sale donation are store bought, clearly you're not invested in your child's future. You are selfish for choosing your career over you kid. Bla bla bla.

If you don't work then clearly you're setting back feminism decades. You clearly have the time to make gifts and are then hated by those who don't or you bought them and are scorned because you should have made them. You're belittled by the working parents who are jealous or scornful and made to feel like you settled for less or inadequate because you are stay at home parent.

Is your kid signed up at 'The' school? Did you breast feed? Is that organic? Do you work? Is your kid exposed to (the dreaded) screen time? Do you use your smart device around your child? Do you drink or smoke? The list is utterly endless. You are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Nothing is off limits any more. Are you pregnant or fat? Should you be eating that? Bottle feeding? Did you even try the breast? The answer to all of these questions is it's none of your bloody business. I'm not saying don't take pride in our loin fruit, or to stop caring about others, but unless you see a kid in very real danger, keep your opinion to yourself. They'll not thank you for it, like you would not thank them for theirs. Don't try to mask it as 'friendly' advice, because if it wasn't solicited all you are doing is making someone feel bad about themselves and question their own judgement.

Kids don't give a crap about what designer clothes they are wearing, you do. Go watch a group of small kids play and listen to how often the subject of fine dining is discussed or if they were breast feed. We train our kids to become what we think society wants. Sure we want them to be better than us, but can we just let them be kids for a while? Can we stop dressing and training them to be mini adults, and can we please not judge the mother who's kid turned up at school looking like a reject from a Bjork video. Probably of all the battles she fought before eight am, this was the one she choose to let her kid win in exchange for getting them to eat breakfast.

It's easy to laugh, and we are all guilty of it, but you'll never know the whole story, so have a quick think to your own "perfect" life and stop making others feel like crap so you can feel superior. And please stop beating yourself up trying to keep up with the rest. If you get a genuine hug and fat booger encrusted kiss at the end of the day, you've done just fine.

I'll hang out with the happy, worm eating, cross dressing toddlers and their slightly relieved parents any day of the week. I have wine.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Apropos of Nothing and Taxes.

Of all the shit I could and should be doing, (making dinner at this moment) I have the unique ability to be doing the exact thing that I shouldn't.

One of the joys of having Avoidant Personality Disorder tendencies means exactly that, I avoid things. Doesn't really matter what it is, but in the mind of the ADD, when you have literally a thousand things buzzing around, the one thing I need to be doing is the one thing I can't. It can be anything from the laundry, (I've washed and rinsed the current load at least four times and still can't quite bring myself to hang it out) opening mail, (I can't even begin to tell you how much anxiety that one gives me) or perhaps making a phone call, but seriously, almost anything can set me off.

At the moment it is my quarterly taxes which are due at the end of the month. So what have I been doing while flagellating myself at the ineptitude of not being able to click a few freaking buttons? Well last Friday I had a sick kid so obviously I baked.

We'd been apple picking last week Monday and had a metric fuck ton of apples to pie, juice, and cake. Naturally this was the perfect excuse for myself and a friend to pool our collective apples and kids and made pies, cake, apple core agrodolce (this is amazing fyi) and apple skin chips. Not a single apple shall be wasted dear friends. Delicious smells, delicious things and cute toddlers happened. What did not happen, was my bloody taxes.

Totally worth it right?
How can you argue with this?

It's super exhausting being that cute.


This week its masks. I've been promising myself I would make a fancy dress box for Monkey, a thing that I have been putting off for ages. Clearly with the clock ticking on the taxes I rode my ass to Etsy and found some patters from this awesome designer Oxeyedaisy and got cracking. There I am up to my eyeballs in embroidery floss and felt making a fox and an owl, when I should be starting fucking taxes or at the very least some prep for Christmas presents and designs for illustrations.

Who needs taxes when you have masks?


"Come on, it's not hard Zoe, pull you head out of your arse and just do it." And yet it all seems so shagging difficult. I talk myself through it, like a mantra;

Rational me: Come on you bloody loser, get off your arse and get behind the computer and log in, it will take 10 mins and you are done.

Crazy me: True, but I just need to finish this fly stitch.

Rational me: Yeah, but it's not going anywhere and if you don't get this shit sorted, you get a fine.

Bargaining me: I am totally gonna do it this evening, I promise.

Rational me: But your med's will have worn off and you will have another excuse.

Denial me: No I won't, I'll totally do the thing, you just watch.

Evening rolled around with an emotionally and physically exhausted me lying on the sofa, spooning the dog, hiding from my judgmental alter ego. I could hear myself softly in the background of my brain taunting me like a smart arse older sibling doing the "told you so" dance.

Do you have any idea how pathetic it is to lie to yourself (especially when you are the worst liar in the world) and know you are doing it, and yet still find a way to believe it.

I've tried post it notes stuck in obvious places until they become part of the furniture. I've tried alarms, rewards and alcohol, (totally a reward too) but unless I am in The Zone shit does not get done.  When I am in The Zone though......shit gets DONE! I am bionic, on fire no less. A whirling dervish of productivity and decisions. Watch out taxes, you are mine! Nothing is impossible. It's just a bloody shame that The Zone is a dick who only shows up at the last damn minute or a week after a deadline. Fuck you Zone, and the horse you rode in on.

The biggest problem with The Zone and personality disorders is that when you are in it, (The Zone) nothing can set you of course. My dining table doubles as my work space which is a dangerous combination. We also, shockingly, have to eat here three times a day.  I will try to eke out a small space to dine, around the pins, pens, paper fabric and other miscellanea that comprise my zone du jour, but I can't possibly tidy my shit away because the phrase "out of sight, out of mind" is taken very literally by those of us who are this way inclined. If I put it away it will never get finished. It's impossible to guess how many unfinished projects there are in my house, all collateral damage from tidying.

I started writing this on Monday. Fate and the flu became besties on Monday (post IKEA run, also fuck you IKEA you germ ridden slut) night as I was hit with the Flu on Tuesday morning. Fully fledged, my skin hurts, whimpering into your pillow flu. The kind that you think you'll never get, the one that other people get and you think are making up, the flu that makes you want to punch yourself in the throat for missing your flu shots three weeks ago, you know the one.

Also on a side note, I totally wrote an awesome blog post in my head whilst sweating and sobbing called The flu and Fibromyalgia are Dicks. but shockingly like all my imaginary blog posts, I can't remember it. It was funny, of this I am sure.

So there I am pleading with my rational self, "see look, I have an actual legitimate excuse to not be doing my taxes" and at the same time thinking WTF Zoe, you are totally dying here and also you were going to make brown butter and bourbon banana bread (it's the shit) and not do your fucking taxes at all you lying cow-bag.

My point is, (in my own convoluted way) apart from the smorgas bord of fucked up-ness I live with daily, avoiding what I need to do (and the point apparently) is the bane of my life. It's funny sometimes but facing the simplest of tasks, emotions or situations can and is a debilitating bloody nightmare.

So here I am, sitting behind my computer on Wednesday evening writing this when I could have done my taxes. This is my commitment to you friend, and you're welcome. Also I am totally sending you the fine from the tax office.



I leave you with the ovary exploding cuteness of apple picking. Autumn at it's finest, because who wants their last sentence to involve taxes.

Yes I know I totally finished with the T word.






Saturday, 11 October 2014

Gonna be published peeps.

For those of you who don't know, I suffer from a veritable smorgasbord of illness', diseases, syndromes and ailments. It took me a long time to make my peace with it and learn that it doesn't define me and it's only in the last year or so that I have been brave enough to come "out of the closet" and write about it.

I'm not a crusader by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have unending sympathy for anyone who suffers from a chronic illness. So what is a chronic illness? Well the list is long, but in short, the definition is a long-lasting condition that can be controlled but not cured.

You may wonder why I am writing about this now as my usual bloggy fare is somewhat lighter, involves lots of instagram photos, some of my latest drawings or a memes of Nicolas Cage. Well the answer is that I wrote something a while ago that changed everything. An essay about me and what it is to be me. In a moment of rare ballsiness, (totally a word) I submitted it to a book that was being compiled by two of my personal blog heroes, the awesomely funny Jessica from Herd Management and the equally hilarious Alyson from The Shitastrophy called Surviving Mental Illness Through Humour.  I sent it, spiralled between self doubt and high-fiving myself and then continued on with my life.

I spend so much of my day trying to manage the symptom du jour, that the last thing I generally want is to write about is how crap it is to live with chronic illness.  The truth is that my life is not crap, it's actually pretty great. Sure, sometimes my body hates me and I'll I have a panic attack over the most ridiculous things (most recent one was they'd moved my bread in my local super market to an alternate reality, so obviously I lost my mind). There are days when you can find my sobbing on the bathroom floor with the door locked (we don't have many doors in our house, so this is a luxury) the washing machine on spin cycle and the fan on, to drown out the screaming tantrum of my daughter. Desperately I'll control my breathing, pull myself together and wash my 'cry' face because on the other side of the door is a toddler who couldn't give a shit about my pain or anxiety as her drama is equally as real and she hasn't had the amount of therapy I've had to learn how to handle it.

Months after writing this essay I'd put it out of my mind. Then last week,in the middle of a really shitty Monday afternoon, I received a surprise email to say that I had been chosen to be part of this amazing project.  Say what now? I'm currently fluctuating between hyperventilating because I am so out of my depth among these giants of Blogland and being utterly humbled that they thought I had something to say, worthy enough to be published. I've seen my name on the list now, next to some stunning writers and bloggers and can't quite believe that there's me, tucked in between them too. 




It's kind of laughable really, I feel a bit like the estranged European cousin. These guys get thousands of hits on their blogs and have an absurd amount of followers on Twitter and Facebook. To date, my freshly minted Twitter has twenty five! I'm still all about the drawing random shit and doing crafty stuff and posting it on Facebook, Cupcaking when I can at The Sleazy Bakeshop (my other blog - this is also returning from it's hiatus), but I will actually be writing about some of the stuff I suffer from on a daily basis and the disasters and trouble it gets me in. Well that is the plan anyway. Now my head cold has got the better of me and wording is hard. I'm off to entertain two toddlers with fresh churro waffles and Thomas the Tank Engine (Toddler #2 imported due to stomach flu parents. We all know stomach flu trumps crappy head cold)




Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Does my ass chaffe?

Why, I'm so glad you asked. It would seem that the universe has taken a hand in things and wants me to get back in the proverbial saddle again. It's somewhat flabby from lack of use, and my fingers and mind seem to have forgotten how to do this whole blog malarkey.

I've started so many of these with "I have been crap and negligent" and this for the most part is true. The reason is simple. I fell out of love with blogging. I forgot how to word. My head was exploding with so much crap that I could hardly find time in the day to breathe let along write shit down.

But I can always find time to draw.


I decided to give myself a break and let it go. I've now reached the promised land of toddler pre-school and finally have some precious time (ten hours a week) for myself to cram full with procrastination, self-doubt and general faffery. 

Getting all artsy up in here.


So this is me, new hair, new attitude and same bullshit. I'm not saying that I will have anything of substance to say, as let's face it, I am about as deep as teaspoon, but I have been known to blast out a wee nugget or two. (See that, I managed to slide in a poo joke.) Giggity - slide. Jesus I am twelve!

Because George.


In the mean time, You will still be getting a tirade of Instagram photos, occasional anecdotes and some exciting news. Before you ask, no I am not, I repeat NOT pregnant! I will be spending the rest of eternity trying to get my blog to look like something that is professional. Cue IT nerd husband.

This will have to keep you going for now as I am on a deadline for other shit, and fuck me social media takes up a butt load of time. I also have twitter (icon to follow) now bitches so get on over there and follow me. While you are at it, get on the old Book of the Face and Instagram (this link is thwarting me but if you look up and right there is a wee icon. Click that shit.)

The end.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The Mother-ship is landing, and this is good.

Holy crap snacks where does the time go?  Every time I sit down to write something I get pulled in another direction.  As I sit here writing this, I am distracted by the fact I need to leave the house in about ten mins to go look at an apartment with my Mum. Yuup, you got it, The Mother Ship is moving to NL.

Aaaaand back.

This is here is the main reason for moving over.


Yeah, this Monkey can work it.

If you had asked me a few years ago how I would feel if she moved over here, I would have thrown back my head and laughed.  Not unlike my pal Nicholas Cage here!


Don't get me wrong, I love her loads, but having her in the same country was not something that was on the cards.

I like my privacy and you could almost accuse me of being anti-social ( know right? Moi?)  I get seriously stabby when people are in my house for more than a few days.  I like it quiet, (I actually snorted tea out of my nose on that one) I like things the way I like them and ambient activity in my peripheral vision drives me crazy.  I will launch into a full fledged panic attack if I am not prepped and ready for any and all activities.  To be fair though, breathing in my general vicinity can make me nuts.  (How the fuck do I have any friends?  Oh, I know, they are all as mental as I am.)

So this week has been no exception.  On Monday, a very PMT me and Mum went to the market. I was a raging bitch from the get go. Trying so hard not to be, and then getting even more pissed off for the amount of energy it was taking to not machete my way through the day.  Best thing about my Mum? On our way out I gave her a blanket apology for any and all forth coming snarkiness for the rest of the day.  She looked at me with a raised eyebrow and said "Meh, what ever"  Cool huh?

So what changed?  Well, I guess this.


She went from being my Mum to a Grandma.  I had to share, and this was good. It used to drive me crazy as she pottered around my house, tiding up and cleaning (WTF was I thinking?)  I have a smallish apartment with no spare room, so any guest has to stay in the living room on the camp bed.  This then involves shit everywhere, raising my stab levels to that of Michael Myers (sans creepy ass mask.)


But it no longer bothers me so much.  Mainly because at this very moment she is mopping my hall floor! Yay. Seriously though, I am not sure at what point it became easier but it did.  I thought that her moving here meant I would see her everyday and we would kill each other.  This actually sounds kind of good now.  She has her space and I have mine.  Monkey can see her when ever she likes, and we have a free over-nighter babysitting.  Score!

The price you pay for living abroad can be a high one.  Especially when you have kids.  Logistically it can be a pain in the ass as holidays are always spent visiting family, and rarely actually visiting somewhere new, but all this changes with her moving here. I am lucky that my parents, though divorced, get on really well.  Dad lives in Norway and so does my brother with his family.  Easy.  So when I mentioned they could do a house swap, and never again have to sleep on the dreaded camp bed of chiropractic shame, it was met with all round enthusiasm.  Gosh I am clever.

So this week, we went house hunting. The possibility of having her down the road is kind of exciting and no longer stressful.  She has learned to really love it here in Den Haag, to get over her fears and picture herself as an independant local.  She has friends, and will no doubt make more, but the best part about her staying this last week, is that I have been able to get some sewing done, some sketching, drink a stupid amount of wine, stay out till an obscene hour of the morning, and have my laundry done.  Cool huh.





So thanks Mum.  You're all right for an old chick and I can't wait to have you on tap all the time. xx


Monday, 5 May 2014

Hello again.

Hello again,  I know I have neglected you of late.  What with the glamour of cupcakes and the sexiness of parenting a toddler there has been so little time actually left over to write, let alone have something coherent to say (not that this has stopped me before.)  So as I lay in bed last night, on the slither of mattress I had been allowed, trying futilely to come up with ways to reclaim at least a partial amount of real estate from the irate squatter wedged between myself and Matt, I realised that I may once more have something to write.

To be fair, I have written many a blog post in bed while chasing that fickle bitch called sleep.  I lay there spinning out endless articulate anecdotes with whit and candour. I am marvellous at 3am.  Truly, I should get some form of literary prize (I would tell you which one if I knew any) for the amount of crap that floats around in my head in the wee small hours.

I know when enlightenment comes, I should write it down. Record it so I can actually capture the genius that is my mental 3am blog post.  But I never do.  This would require moving, putting on glasses, a light and actually writing.  Nah, I'll remember it.  Again and again I go through this dance.

Genius me - "Write the thing Zoe"
Lazy me - "Nah, this thing is too good to forget"
Genius me - "You thought that last time with the thing about the thing in that place that time"
Lazy me - "But this is different, how can I possibly forget the thing, it's hilarious?"

Seriously it goes on like this for a while.

When the time to actually drag my sorry carcass out of bed, all form of intellectual reason have vanished along with any recollection.  My brain has become a sleep deprived pile of mush, and my conversation skills are that of flatulent sea-slug.  I've got nothing.  Like Keyser Soze (The Usual Suspects, watch it,) it is gone.

The Devil does exist.  She is currently napping in the next room.
I trudge through the day trying to recreate fragments, to capture at least a glimmer my 3am epiphany, but anything I have to say now seems glib, retarded, or just makes no sense what so ever.  I even have started referring to myself in the third person. "Mama is doing (insert arbitrary chore here) now," or "Mama would like (insert order to bewildered waitress here) please."  I have lost my ability to communicate in 'adult'.

Such is the dark and weird place I now reside, that I have started drawing shit like this.




Don't get me wrong I do some of my best work when I am totally fucked up, but still.....

Like most parents, I try so very hard to engage my daughter in fun and educational games all morning, squeezing in the loading of the washing machine (hey, what fun) or cleaning of the silver (ha, who am I trying to kid, we ain't got no silver up in this crib,) all in an effort to wear her out so that when that magic time of day comes, I am all ready to go.

Chores done and child fed.  Nap time rolls around with anticipation and dread.  I have approximately an hour and a half (give or take) to knock out something for myself, something that makes me, me.  Be it a commission, a blog post, sewing or just having an hour with my book and a cup of tea, it doesn't matter, anything creative and requiring the use of at least some of my brain cells and will stop my head from exploding like a bloated whale on the beach.  (Oh come on, we have all seen that clip by now.)  The pressure reduces me to a bumbling idiot as I staring blankly at an empty page.  Don't even get me started on fucking Pinterest.  Time sucking whore that it is.


Finally, today I have something to say.  Today, after only an hour of sleep I had inspiration.  I wanted to write a blog post about...........  Well I'm buggered if I can remember.  Something to do with toddlers, sleeping and getting kicked in the tits or head butted in the abdomen.  In the end what have I written?  A post about trying to write a post.  Clever huh? At least I got something down.  Be it gibberish or genius (I go with the latter,) at least I got something down.  It has taken me the better part of the morning to intermittently write this, pausing to walk the dog, go to the store, and ignore the apocalyptic scene that is my laundry.  I have read, re-read this at least ten times.  Maybe it makes sense maybe not. Fuck it who cares.  I got a new blog post out.








Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Sleazy Bake shop, so awesome it got it's own blog

So, you all seemed to love it so much that I have given it. It's own blog.  Separation of Church and State don't you know.  Anyway, either click on the link provided or the nifty little link to the right of your screen. The one that has the cupcake.  Just to be totally clear.



Thanks and see you over there.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Tarte Bourdaloue aka "The slutty exchange student meets Bruce Lee"

To be fair, I was not super excited about this next cupcake.  There didn't seem to be so much special going on.  Li was pumped about finally being able to use the "Rapey Oil", and poaching pears in wine (to be fair, she gets excited about anything to do with wine), but I want my cupcake to ooze sex appeal.  It just didn't look sexy enough for me.  Oh how wrong I was. (Shocker!)

This is apparently what a Tarte Bourdaloue looks like.  Li: "That shit is delicious."
Like a good mix tape, the Robicelli's started off with a corker with the Dom Deluise.  Tarte Bourdaloue seemed to take it down a notch.  Subtlety is not my strong suit, (or in fact any part of my character. Similies such as" brick through a window" are often bandied around when used to describe me) and this cupcake seemed just that.  Subtle. Not that this is a bad thing but......You get my drift. I shall now take my wrong self outside with my wrongness and be so very very wrong.

Li: "When I lived in Chicago I was referred to as "the tornado."  This seems an understatement to me

Moving on.  I was up at the crack of a sparrow's fart to go to the market.  Not a place I love, but I am cheap and shit is cheap there.  And fresh.  And cheap.  Did I mention cheap?  I spent an hour warring with myself at 8.30 am over the shitty weather/nice and warm in side vs cheap fresh groceries.  Cheap won. Granny trolley in hand I set off in the gale force winds.  On the plus side I took the car and not my bike as I am a lazy bitch.  Sorry Friedel.  Two types of fresh pears were purchased.  I have no clue what Anjou or Bosch pears are and frankly trying to describe them to any market trader in my crappy Dutch would be worse than a root canal with out anaesthetic.  (Boom another similie).  So I bought Conference and ("the fat ones") Doyenné du Comice They are French and hard.

After a bit of experimentation we went with the Conference.  (Take that Frenchy)  They were just under ripe and not too juicy.  We then trucked on with our mise-en-place.  Serious stuff this.

As you can see.  Serious face.
The great measurement debate then started as to who had the better cups.  As you can see, Li, beats me in the "other" cup way.

I am a convert to the whole "cup" system.  I am European and I love Metric.  When baking though, bloody hell its a damn sight easier to use cups.  (Note to you other European ignoramuses, this is not a "mug" or a dainty little china cup with saucer, this is an actual unit of measurement. Who thought it up?  Buggered if I know. "'Muhrica!" Thank you Li.  Anyway, it galls me to say it, but it really is easier.)
Li, sporting her silth like black, low and wide. (I could insert many puns, but she scares me)

Me with my, so pretty melamine from the local super market.
Can we also take a moment to notice that Li put on make-up.  I, on the other hand, have not even had a shower.  Keeping it real folks.

Li wanted to think of hers as the Bruce Lee of cups.  I was comfortable with my "Chuck Norris."

Li: "Why are there no jokes about Bruce Lee? Because Bruce Lee is no fucking joke."

It was at this point, (mid mise-en-place) that I needed to parent.

Tired?  Not at all.  This is Bluey.  It is the corner stone of her existence, and clearly the love needed to be spread.

What is the whole point of mise-en-place?  Well, it is to avoid incidents like finding out you have no frosting materials, doing and emergency run to the grocery store in gale force winds, returning and then finding out you don't have enough eggs.  This clearly happens to other people and not a part of this narrative in any way.

Our place is now mise'd so lets get this shit rolling.  Injuries were sustained (it would appear that New York cupcakes are as hostile as New Yorkers.  See what I endure for you people?)  I was stabbed in a random pear incident.  It was traumatic.

Li:  "These cupcakes should come with a safe word. I chose potato."



Li is obsessed with this mini grater.  It is super cute.



Li is so very proud of her salt.  I have no idea why, but I will give it to her.

Li: "I can't be the only one who goes on vacation and brings back salt."  Yes, yes you can.

Pears grated, strained, pressed (sort of) and toweled (with a surprising amount of delicious juice), we added the sugar and mixed that shit.


Surprisingly, it wasn't as juicy as we thought it would be. Next up, we added the "rapey" (giggidy) oil, then mixed in the twice-sieved (yeah, that's how we roll) flour and other gubbings. And finally, the wonderfully yellow-jumpsuited (with black stripes and no cameltoe) egg. We beat those like Bruce Lee beat Chuck Norris in "Way of the Dragon" and then added them to the batter.

Li: "See? No joke!"


We expected this to be sloppy, but no! It was perfection. Into the oven. We are quietly confident.

Half-baked. Like our preparation. But looking amazeballs.
A brief pause, to write this hear blog post to this point and to let the dairy goodness come to a more civilised temperature. (Li, please note the correct use of the "s" in civilised, and not your colonial z, leave the English language alone)

Li:  "Y'all are still pissed we won the Revolution."  Nope, not so much.

Anxiety levels cranked up with the pressure of the frosting.  The cupcakes came out of the oven in all their fruity glory.  We needed to do them justice.  Last week's debacle is still fresh in our minds, and our confidence slightly shaken, we soldiered on with trepidation.

Are you excited?

Butter, marscapone, and cream all added to the bowl, and we beat the living shit out of it.  We beat it like the Americans just beat the Russians at Olympic hockey.  (Li's husband Rene: "Muhrica, pew pew pew" - he is not even American, it's adorable.) It was promising.



It was actually looking how it was supposed to.  1 cup of powdered sugar later..... (Yes we only did a half batch, the cowards that we are.)

"LET THERE BE FROSTING" *insert Händel Hallelujah from the Messiah here*

All hail the frosting bitches!


Creamy, fluffy, buttery goodness.
In the words of Dora the Explorer "We did it"  There was piping, there were roasted, salted, buttery, chopped almonds. There was sliced boozy pears.  It all came together like a dream.  A calorie laden,  love handle making, heart attack inducing, cholesterol bomb of sex.  Make no mistake, this is one slutty cupcake.  It looks like the innocent exchange student who enters your home, all full of promise and innocence.  It turns out to be a nymphomanical party animal and packs a bang like a screen door in a hurricane. This cupcake puts out like a sorority girl at a kegger!  It is a sure thing!  Delivers and then some.



Ours!  Mon dieu!  Ooh lala.  (Li was super surprised that the French actually say this)

The Robicelli's.  

Slightly different presentation, but I think we delivered.

The proof is in the tasting, or in our case, the inhaling.

"Mother of God!"

Li's face says it all.  Yeah, we did it.

I want to thank the Robicelli's for their advice and for also just being super cool.  Li had now peeled herself off the ceiling and is trying to "handle her shit".

It's a work in progress.

In summation;  Yes, this cupcake may look innocent.  You may be inclined to skip over it to the sexier recipes.  I am very glad that we are doing this in order and not cherry picking.  It has to be said that this was not my favourite to look at, but I so very much enjoyed it.  I would really love to tackle the French buttercream frosting but as nobody has yet come forward to sponsor us (I am looking at you KitchenAid,) it will have to wait.  Come on, we are investing the next year of our lives in this.  Yes 2014 is the Year of the Cupcake (and possibly the gym, and the back boob).

Anything you would like to add Li?

"Next week's cupcake is where it's at.  The Car Bomb."

Thank you for reading and see you next week.  Guinness, chocolate, whisky.  A match made in my belly.