19

Our First Meeting Proved Fruitful!

Today we held the first Keighley Clandestine Cake Club meeting!  (You can read all about my involvement HERE)

The event was held at Cobbles and Clay in Haworth, Keighley. It’s a gorgeous pottery painting café on the historic and very pretty cobbled Main Street. In their stunningly beautiful café and secret garden they serve real ‘no junk-no gunk’ food, individually prepared and brought to you on our own painted crockery! It is definitely one of my most favourite cafes in the area!

The events always have a theme and today it was ‘Fruity’. As it was the first meeting I wanted to keep things simple, but with lots of scope for variety.

We had nine cakes to taste and share!

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I had planned to make a lime drizzle and blueberry cake, although at the last-minute I added some lemon juice, to make more of a citrus drizzle! The cake turned out larger than expected, but it tasted nice!

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Caroline made a Tennessee Peach loaf cake. Laced with Jack Daniels it was delicious, and pleasantly pungent. I loved the mint garnish so much! The cake was so moist and tasty, maybe that was from the ‘splash’ of alcohol?! How big that splash was is anyone’s guess!

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Rachel made a dairy-free lemon drizzle cake using dairy-free fat and soya milk. It tasted just like a cake made with dairy products, which I found really interesting. It was lovely, Rachel did a great job. I LOVE lemon drizzle. It looked really pretty and rustic, just as Mary Berry would have liked!

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Amy made a banana, cherry, honey and white chocolate cake. It was fabulous. Apparently a banana loaf is a staple in her household, so on this occasion she thought of adding more fruit… and chocolate! The gorgeous handmade bunting and lovely cake label with punched out hearts finished the cake off nicely.

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Annette made two cakes, a tropical gateaux and a black forest gateaux. Both cakes were really tasty. Everyone especially LOVED the black forest! The piped cream on the top made it look very spectacular! The tropical cake was topped with a dusting of gorgeous smelling cinnamon. Annette explained that it was like a carrot cake, but without carrots…The cake was made with pineapple instead!

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Louise made a courgette, lemon and poppy-seed cake. I love courgette so was very intrigued to try this one!  The poppy seeds added crunch and the cake was great! I also loved the handmade cake label. It was so artistic!  Louise had made it by downloading mini bunting and sticking onto a recycled card.

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Tracey made a parrot cake. I’d never heard of a parrot cake before, but it was gorgeous! Topped with cream cheese and orange icing, it contained walnuts, pecans, mango and passion fruit. Tracey would have definitely won the prize for the fruitiest cake, had there been one!

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Jenny made a banana cake with chocolate ganache. She had been concerned about how long the cake had taken to cook (1hour 45 minutes!) but it was perfect. I especially loved the ganache, I unexpectedly took a mouthful of that alone during the tasting and it was divine! I do love chocolate and cream though!

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The event was a success. We tasted all the cakes, drank tea, chatted and then at the end, we all took pieces of each others cake home! The great thing about cake club is there is no judging or competition. It is simply just a gathering of bakers, sharing their homemade creations!

Here is the Keighley Clandestine Cake Club photograph!

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On my return home, there was a small boy who was waiting by the door, desperate the try some of the cakes!
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If you like baking, why not see if there’s a local Clandestine Cake Club near you?

Our next event will be held in September, the theme will be Colours.

If you would like to join our club, or for more information please email me m_crowther@ymail.com

4

It’s Happening!

It’s happening. I am going back to work late September, and Dave will be exiting his work through compulsory redundancy at exactly the same time.

Lucky for us, he has been granted ‘Garden Leave’ which means he will be paid for a few months whilst he is off work, before his redundancy is paid out. This is of course great news.

Dave is very happy and excited about becoming a stay at home Daddy for a while, and I am really excited for him.

Not many Daddies get this type of opportunity and I am really proud of him and the way he’s dealt with the redundancy news, he is a man that does not like change!

I remember being heavily pregnant with Gabriel and finishing work to start Maternity Leave. It was a great time in my life, because as much as I do love my job, I loved being at home both pottering around waiting for Gabriel to arrive, and also being kept busy when both Babies have been born.

I remember that excitement, that amazing feeling of not having to go to work every day! Life’s pace slowed down and I found I looked at everything differently. I did however have a slightly different experience awaiting Willow’s birth due to suffering with severe SPD, but I won’t dwell on that too much! It was still a special time in our lives, and despite all the pain, it was a time to treasure.

I know Dave will do a great job of caring for the children. He’s a real hands-on Daddy and is far better at playing games or being creative with them than I am! Don’t get me wrong, I love a good dance and a sing-song, a spot of baking or painting, but I aren’t too keen on driving cars around the room for hours on end, if I’m totally honest.

But, I’ve learnt that that is okay.

Dave & I play to our strengths and we compliment each other with our parenting. We do not always agree, and sometimes we become very frustrated with each other, but we’ve had two years to create our ways and means of doing things. It doesn’t always go to plan- like when you find the remote control in the washing machine for example (today’s hilarity) but we do generally, have a good system!

In all seriousness, I do have worries though. Of course, I am scared that I will lose my bond with the Children as their main carer. I know I will always be their Mummy, and this is only for a few months, but it is still hard.

I am the one they run to when they are hurt, poorly or tired. I selfishly don’t want that to change, but I know realistically, it might.

I worry I will miss important milestones. I know it’s only a few months but I may miss Willow’s first steps or new words. I might miss Gabriel’s developments too, and I am scared this will upset me.

I am going to have to stop breastfeeding during the day, it just is not feasible to express at work. (although they are very accommodating!) This makes me really sad. I know I have done well, but I had planned to carry on for longer. But, I will continue to feed Willow in a morning and on a night hopefully.

I also have concerns about the cooking, cleaning and other household chores. I think it’s hard to expect Dave to just instinctively know what needs doing and when, but I also know that when it comes to it, I may become rather frustrated if things aren’t done just the way I like them!

The saving grace is that it is Dave that will take my place. We are not having to put both Children in Nursery, thus avoiding extortionate costs and strict timeliness schedules. That’s what we have achieved here, and that’s a great positive.

I will be able to leave for work, and return from work at times that suit me, and I know that is something I should be grateful for.

I will also be completing my post graduate qualification on my return, so as well as working flexi-time, I will also be entitled to one day a week study leave at home. I also have forty days annual leave, meaning I will only realistically only be at work 3-4 days a week, so we will get plenty of extra time as a Family, that is not just weekends.

Despite my reservations about the house work, and my relationship with the Children I am looking forward to it. I know many Women work, and I am not the only person to have mixed feelings about changes like this. But there is still
guilt. It’s self imposed, but it’s there.

I like to talk to adults, I like to use my brain and I like to be able to help others. I like my job and I like to make a difference.

Doing nothing is not for me, but working full time is not either. However I do think Families should just do what is best for them. I do not judge anyone,
I am just hoping for a happy medium for myself!

So for now, I shall savour the last couple of months of my Maternity Leave. My special time with the Children! We have lots planned and I intend to enjoy it.

I’ve had over two years off from work in the last few years. Now it’s Dave’s turn.

Follow our journey! Eek!!!!

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3

Big change! A Very Special Guest Post from Daddy

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It looks an increasing possibility that I’m going to be made redundant, after working all my adult life so far for Direct Line; in its various guises.

The reality of the situation is that this has come at the best possible time that it could for our family. Michelle needs to return to work in order to continue with her post-graduate studies, so rather than spend an obscene amount of money with childcare, I’m going to be a stay at home Dad!

This going to be a bigger challenge than starting another corporate job would ever be. I know I can facilitate meetings and talk office-speak on conference calls but can I interest, educate and entertain two children everyday, for weeks on end?

I’m naturally negative, so I’ll start with what I’m looking forward to.

I will get to spend every day with my children, how many men get this opportunity?

I will also have the opportunity to see and help them learn to walk, learn to talk and develop as people.

As a working dad I feel I’ve missed out on loads with Gabriel. Michelle sends me photographs and videos but it’s not the same as being there. It gets to the weekend and it takes until Saturday afternoon to catch up with their development over the week, and become best mates with them again. Then, before you know it it’s Sunday night and it’s over!

I’ll get to share in jokes with the Children and really understand what they like doing. I’m also hoping that I will understand how better to handle tantrums, and instinctively know how to look after them like Michelle can; she can recognise from their cries or body language what they want.

It’s going to be very hard work. I’m under no illusions and there will be some tough frustrating days, especially when they are Ill or the weather is bad

But corporate life drags you down and whilst it can be exciting and interesting, it can also suck the life and joy out of you. It’s mundane and predictable.

From a personal point of view I’m very nervous about having to socialise in the world the children inhabit. I imagine it to be a very Mums dominated world. We don’t live in a cosmopolitan big city but a small northern town. I anticipate playgroups and other activities to be run by Mums and I am nervous as a Dad that I may become isolated or that a Dads regular presence may be disruptive or awkward to female social groups, or worse uneven unwanted or unwelcome!

This is all of course at this point supposition. I’ve worked in female dominated workplaces and enjoyed it (some women even like talking football these days apparently!) there may of course be lots of other Dads at home during the day. I never have been, so I don’t know.

It’s going to be a big change for us all and it’s going to be a big challenge for the Crowtherclan. But I hope it’s something that when I’m an old man, I can look back proudly on and enjoy the strong relationship I’ve built with kids when they were little and how life offered me a chance to do something different for a short while or long time.

The bottom line is that I love my children and the chance to spend more time with them is too good an opportunity to pass up because it’s unconventional or I’m nervous, so I intend to enjoy it!

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11

Brave ?

Since I signed up for the #MMSkydive and subsequently jumped, I have repeatedly heard the same response when I have told others all about it.

‘You are so brave!’

‘You’re braver than me, I’d never jump from a plane’

As much as this is flattering to hear I find it hard to compute.

Don’t get me wrong, I was scared before I jumped out the plane, but for me the jump was to help build awareness of The Lullaby Trust, to help highlight the devastating effect of SIDS and of course, it was another way of extending Matilda Mae’s memory and legacy.

Although challenging, doing a skydive didn’t to me feel like I was putting my life at risk. Thousands of people skydive every day, and there is a reserve parachute. The media is not filled with news of injuries or deaths from the sport because actually, it is quite controlled.

However, there is an unknown, and that is what is scary. Not knowing how your body will react, what it will feel like and the anticipation of loving or hating the experience is quite nerve-racking! But despite this, all the comments made me think about both the concept of bravery, and about the people whom I consider to be brave, and why that is.

You see for me, I am no braver than anyone else. I think that sometimes the smaller choices we make, dealing with the cards our life has handed us or the actions we take can often be much scarier than jumping out of a plane. Some people have a fear of heights, some afraid of spiders, others may fearful of taking risks, or leaving a routine by making huge changes. I also have acquaintances who claim they have no fears, but I know this to be untrue. It’s suspect that they fear to admit what they are scared of!

We all fear and we are all brave because in life, we have to live our lives and we have to cope.

The heroes in my life are not the high achievers, the winners or the dare-devils. My heroes are those who have had to deal with the worst imaginable. Those who have tragically lost loved ones, those who have acted selflessly when times have been ridiculously hard and those who have carried on when they felt like they could not. They are the bravest among us!

Interestingly, the bravest thing I think I’ve ever done is something that not one person has called me brave for doing. Scary moments, stressful situations and bravery do not always need to be a white knuckle ride, dealing with a change or facing a huge fear. Sometimes, bravery means just following your heart and ignoring your head, conquering your dreams or knowing yourself well enough to fight for what you want from life.

It was my Husband who reminded me of this.

“What do you think is the bravest thing I’ve ever done?” I asked.

“Meeting me!” He laughed.

At first, I thought he was being rather egotistical but then I realised (and it doesn’t happen often) actually, he was probably right!

It was 2008 and I was in a steady relationship with my ex partner. Having spent the best part of four years living together without any firm plans for our future I realised that I just wasn’t happy anymore. So I packed my things and left. I was twenty-six years old and knew I that I wanted something else. I wanted to have a fairy-tale love story, a Wedding and to hopefully have children.

I’d alway thought speed dating sounded fun, but knew the reality of it wouldn’t be, so that was out! So I joined Match.com ‘s free month trial.

It would be fun I told myself, give me something to do on an evening and almost certainly (well, I hoped) would give me a confidence boost! On the second day of the trial I stumbled across a photo and profile of a person I thought I’d get along with. Something about the way he’d written about himself made me want to contact him to tease him! Sounds a bit odd, but I did just that. Turns out we got on great. We chatted on instant messenger for about three hours that night (and the same the next two nights..)

He then asked if I’d like to meet him for a drink.

‘I’m really busy for the next few weeks’ I typed and ‘Oh, I’ve got gig tickets that night’ I fibbed later when he asked again the next day.

I was terrified! As silly as it sounds I did not join a dating website so I could physically meet someone! I had never been on a blind date before, and would have run a mile if someone had even suggested such a thing to me! I wanted to just cancel the trial and run, but something told me to go for it; as cliché as it sounds, to give fate a chance!

So I did. I told him a few days later it was a yes.

We arranged to meet that Friday night. He had suggested my favourite bar in Leeds which I was pleased with; it was somewhere I knew where both the toilets AND the exits were!

I finished work early and headed home to get ready. I purchased some new clothes along with a bottle of Pinot Grigio to give me Dutch courage!

Turns out, drinking a whole bottle of wine on an empty stomach coupled with adrenaline and a stressful taxi journey isn’t the ideal aperitif to the perfect date! I was pretty drunk when I arrived and to be honest most of the night is pretty hazy.

I do remember though, being the most scared I have ever been in that taxi.

My stomach did somersaults and the ten minute journey felt like a twelve-hour one. I think looking back, I knew how important the evening was going to be.

It was to be the evening I met my Husband.

I was physically shaking as I climbed out of the taxi, my palms sweated and my fingers fidgeted as I tried desperately to make sure I looked at least like a half decent drunk.

It was scarier than my driving test, scarier than starting a new job, scarier than any public speaking and much scarier than a skydive! I was out of my comfort zone, I was allowing myself to be vulnerable and I was worried if I’m honest, that I was going to be rejected. I almost didn’t turn up. I typed so many unsent, ‘Sorry I can’t make it tonight’ texts, all because I was worried about what people would think, whether the time was right to get into another relationship or simply, whether it was a waste of both time and Pinot Grigio.

But, I am immensely proud of myself for turning up that night, for being brave. That bravery changed my life. Exactly one year after that night, to the hour Dave asked me to marry him; and nine months later we exchanged Marriage vows.

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Be brave, and put yourself out of your comfort zone. Sometimes it pays off!

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

JOIN US!
Sign up for the #MMSKYDIVE2014 and jump from a plane! We are looking for fellow Bloggers to join our team. Email me crowtherclan@ymail.com for more information.

4

7 Months

Dear Willow

You are well into your seventh month!

You have put on weight! Now weighing 16lbs 3oz you are starting to resemble a small toddler!

You may be small, but you are strong. You have a very tight grip!

You can say Dada, Hiya and Peppa!

You have a tooth! Just one, but it’s there and it assists you with your toast eating.

You roll about, bun shuffle and drag yourself across the floor, but have not quite mastered crawling… yet! We don’t think it will be long though.

You laugh and smile over most things now, you are a very happy little girl!

You love to sit in your high chair, eating. It’s your favourite place to be.

You love your food. You eat almost as much as Gabriel!

You love fruit.

You still get up at least twice in the night for milk, you love to be held and to have cuddles so much, sometimes I think you pretend you want milk just so you can have a cuddle!

You love to play with everything you should not!

You grab everything.

And I mean everything.

Hair, jewellery, food, clothing, skin. You want it, and you want it NOW!

You are so determined, you usually get it!

You love being in water. The bath, a swimming pool or just a paddle, you enjoy them all.

You still like to breastfeed, although your attention span I getting the better of you when our in public, you like to watch people and have a huge fear of missing out on something!

You like to wiggle about

You like it when I sing to you, especially when it’s Hickory Dickory Dock!

You like to scream

You love to shout

You like lights and shiny items.

You sit and watch us dancing and singing with Gabriel, you look very serious and un amused! It’s very funny!

You love ice-cream, and eat a cone of it, often before anyone else has finished.

You sit and watch Peppa Pig and Baby Jake, you laugh along with us.

You love to see Gabriel when you’ve woken up; you always have a smile for him!

You work a crowd, and in the doctor’s surgery last week, six different people told me you were beautiful.

You are a Daddy’s girl. You look around for him, all the time.

You look so much like me that it sometimes I find it strange to look at you! I love that though.

You still like to ‘worm’ into the bed, your feeding pillow or in our arms. You love to get comfy and settled, you actually fall asleep very easily!

We are looking forward to seeing you on the move!

You are growing into a very pretty little girl.

Love from Mummy & Daddy x

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