Monday, 21 December 2009

Christmas booboos

Booboos is how Michela calls my breasts. She knows the words breast and booby but prefers booboos, which is one of the first words she uttered to ask for a drink (perhaps because she couldn't say the words breast or boobie?).

When I was a child, I used the word 'boo' to indicate drink. I was bottlefed, so no breast link there, although it's curious as I grew up in Italy while my daughter is growing up in England and knows very little Italian (despite good intentions, the 'bilingual project' has failed miserably).

Last week we went to a Christmas Carol Service for the staff of the University of Cambridge and realised that there is a breastfeeding carol.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

The words of this carol are from a poem by Christina Rossetti called In The Bleak Midwinter (read more about by clicking here). Michela was asleep during the service, so she didn't catch the reference. She loves hearing about baby Jesus as it is a baby with two loving parents, which is easy to relate to, although her birth didn't involve an ox, donkey nor any sheep. As all toddlers, Michela is fascinated by animals and she loves looking at illustrations where the baby Jesus is surrounded by all sort of animals, one book even includes a family of chickens.

I'm signing off with a charity initiative involving a stunning calendar, which, like the glamorous painting by Tamara de Lempicka shown above, displays beautiful breastfeeding mums. I have mentioned the calendar before, it's in aid of Rugby Breastfeeding Cafe, which is run by volunteers. See a slideshow of the pics by clicking here.

Happy Xmas to you all....

Friday, 18 December 2009

Snowmens sans frontieres...

The winner of the December 09 challenge (with hat and sans hat)

 The December 2009 winner (detail) and the snowmen from the January 2009 challenge (English snowman at the back)

Forfeit victory to the Italian contender
Yesterday evening the snow started falling again and it continued overnight so by morning there was a thick blanket in the back garden. The snowmam challenge was on so the two contenders stepped out with pint-sized referee Michela in tow.

The English and Italian contenders made a start but the English contender did a Paula Radcliffe (I can't make a snowman with this kind of snow). The Italian contender completed the challenge by building a snowman against a tree. There was hissing and spitting from the English side who awarded nul points to the snowman as it was not free standing. However, the referee awarded a forfeit victory to the Italian contender.

This is the second victory for Italy as the previous snowman challenge in January 2009 was won by the Italian on the grounds of endurance. The English snowman didn't last due to shoddy workmanship. The Italian contender generously revealed the secret behind the two victories: 'Snow must be compatted and worked bit by bit, simply rolling won't produce a good, sturdy snowman.'

Can you produce a better snowman? The e-challenge is still on... Send your pics to membersfeedback at and I will upload them.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Snow, wall of shame and a heartwarming story

Today it snowed while we were walking in central Cambridge.

The magic was short lived. When we came out from the library, the sun had reappeared and an icy wind blew on us all the way back home.

Snow aside, we have a white mountain in our lounge, which I call the wall of shame. Behind the white sheet there is a solid wall of cardboard boxes full of stuff we couldn't fit in the garage. We are lucky we did find a house to rent with a garage, but even covered, our wall of shame is a bit of an eyesore. I stuck a poster on it and a few Xmas decorations but it still looks like a mess. I'm hoping this is a temporary arrangement but who knows if we will ever find a house to buy...

The mess underneath is Michela's collection of toys and books. We have piles in all rooms. The grownup place we planned pre-birth never happened. Ultimately the toys have won the war. I am becoming addicted to crates, especially lidded ones.

Lastly, the moving story. I was sent this link through a forum and it is such a heartwarming tale, perfect for the festive season (or indeed all year round)! The headline says it all: Nursing Moses: Moms step in after infant's mother dies. Before you click on it, have some hankies ready!

SNOW UPDATE: my partner stepped out the front door onto a blanket of snow. It must have started snowing when we were snug inside with our curtains drawn. Just looked out into our snowy garden, it is still snowing....

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Eat your heart out, Jamie Oliver

Tonight I watched Jamie Oliver make American pancakes with his daughters and found it hilarious that he didn't know the secret of making real American pancakes. The pancakes he made were as thin as Scotch pancakes (sometimes called dropped scones).

I have been making American pancakes for years and the secret is in the baking powder. If you want a thick, fluffy American pancake you need to use American or Canadian baking powder as it is stronger than the British one. Years ago, I asked a friend to get me some and the results were spectacular. I have been making some mean blueberries pancakes, stacks of thick ones!

I'm not sure the photo shows how thick they really are. I top my pancakes with maple syrup as I find the American syrup too sweet, but in this instance you're looking at toffee sauce.

If you can buy American or Canadian powder online or through a friend, you will notice the difference. I'm currently using the aptly named Canadian Magic baking powder and the recipe sent to me by Peter, a Canadian friend, in the mid-90s.

If there is any interest, I will post the full recipe.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Christmas in Cambridge

We are settling down well in Cambridge thanks to my volunteering and the friendly locals. The city is so beautiful and there is lots to do with a toddler! I have posted about cheap days out on Ecothrifter, click here for toddler-taming, fun ideas.

What I like most is that it's such a walkable city and there are plenty of free attractions suitable for families. Walking the streets when it's dark is quite magical with the fab Xmas lights and carol singing everywhere we go. I was quite tempted to go to the Kings' College Carol event on Christmas eve, but then found out that you have to get there before 9am and queue for hours! Too crazy for us...

Sales are already on!

This is a truly Credit Crunch Crimbo if the January's sales are already on! From sofas to shoes, sales are spreading like wildfire....

Here are few links for you - Happy Shopping




New voucher code live till 13.12.09 (midnight)! The code is SECRETSANTA50 and entitles the customer to 50% off selected products on this page.

Mini Barratts


I got lots of emails about offers but these are the best deals so far! If you know of any great sales, please leave a comment below..

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