Goals and triumphs

Can you believe it – it’s the last day? Of my enormous assignment for myself, to do 101 challenges in 1001 days.

I feel a little bit giddy, to be honest.

Even though there are no bright lights and I have not (yet) sipped a single swig of champagne.

In fact, for all intents and purposes, it’s a normal day: the frost lies crisp and white upon the ground, the trees stand still in a windless sky, the computer softly buzzes while I write and simultaneously shovel copious amounts of chocolate into my mouth and the puppy and I argue over who is actually typing on the keyboard.

Ah, yes, the puppy… Our new family member… I’ll introduce you to her properly later.

There are no banners drooping in the still, crisp air; no party hats sitting on dandruff free hair (this is not an advertisement; but we do use Head and Shoulders); nor have there been any clinking glasses, well, unless you count the ones precariously balanced in the dishwasher this morning.

But worry not. For tonight I will celebrate on the last of our 33 date nights. I’ve already marked it off. I fear I may just celebrate a little too much to be allowed to be left in control of machinery and other potentially perilous objects.

So what am I celebrating, exactly?

The Highlights:

  • Becoming really good friends with Tilly Bud, The Laughing Housewife my partner in crime during the challenge.
  • The murder mystery dinner (we had such a lot of fun especially as I was picked out as having had an affair with the murderer, which led to me being, shockingly, pulled up to waltz with him, in front of an audience of over 100 people – all German people can waltz (except my husband, which is the main reason we fit together so perfectly – I can’t waltz either. I have an excuse though not being German), but not knowing I wasn’t an authentic German participant – I had to play an Italian – the poor unsuspecting bloke had no idea what he was in for i.e. severely trampled feet and a hysterically laughing dance partner (there were over 100 people watching)).
  • Making sure every single month – without fail – that Reini and I went on a date and made time for each other.
  • The Eurovision Party.
  • Watching 101 films. Watching films as a challenge means you can indulge yourself whenever you want and you don’t start to feel like a couch potato.
  • Writing the first draft of my first book in NaNoWriMo.
  • Trying new restaurants. I liked this challenge so much, I upped it from 10 in the first year to a total of 30 and I’m happy to say that I achieved this goal.
  • Going on a bonding trip with Lori to a spa!
  • Going to a wild west show – I really didn’t expect it to be so much fun and all of the kids really loved it too.
  • Going to Linderhof Castle – beautiful.
  • Taking Akasha to ballet. I only planned, originally, to give her a bash at it but as it turns out – she’s a proper full on little ballerina!
  • Planting bushes in the garden. I have actually managed to grow something. OK I have also managed to kill several things but I succeeded in growing a few bushes!!!! I suspect I have found attached to myself half a green thumb. It might not be exactly in the thumb position but who cares? It’s half a green thumb!!
  • On the theme of planting – finally I have a longed for pampas grass in the middle of the garden. In the spirit of honesty – the first one did die. But I soldiered on replanting. The second one is still alive, but we’re not through her first winter yet.
  • My 40th birthday party. I totally loved it. But I do admit, I did go a little bit mad in organizing it. What with fancy dress and preparing 1000s of canapés and an art area for the kids and stilts and space hoppers and  a trampoline and bubbles and a piñata and and and… And then a massive storm came and excited the Scottish visitors  and drowned and tore down both the marquee and the carefully arranged tables. Aden had a full meltdown because, apparently, I had promised in a true British optimistic, weather-woman spirit that, no, it would not rain, when questioned (without reading any meteorological charts or anything!) and in contrast it poured.
  • Resolving the pet question. We bought a puppy. A half-baked thing to do considering I’d not long had my third burnout. But she’s also been my salvation: going for walks, having cuddles, throwing a ball and then attempting to wrestle it back out of her mouth again. On top of that, she’s been an incredible asset for each of the kids for which I will be eternally grateful.
  • I finally found support for my family. I’ve saved the best until last haven’t I? Last month my son was granted a Sozialpädagoge. He’s highly trained to work with autistic and ADHD kids and comes to the house and takes Aden out, two afternoons a week, and undertakes different challenges with him on a one-on-one basis. At the moment he’s working on helping him concentrate and gain confidence through various activities like climbing, potholing, swimming, and geocaching. And the local council have offered to pay for this support for the next two years. Sensational!

I did not finish all of my challenges. I expected far too much of myself and I realized quite early on that my wish to complete the whole assignment was nowhere near attainable. But that was OK. The idea for me was to have goals to aim for. Considering my burnout and how long it’s taken me to recover I do feel that I’ve done quite well. Moreover, although it was added pressure, I also feel that the enterprise helped with my recovery because I had a huge selection of entertaining tasks that I had personally chosen, to focus on.

Saying that, there have also been a few ‘lowlights’.

The Lowlights:

  • I wanted to turn our office into an inspiring place to work (instead of a dumping ground) – I did so, I even put plants in there. The plants, of course, died and the office now looks worse than it did before. 😦
  • I didn’t write a letter to myself to be opened in 10 years. I wanted to do this around my 40th to open then on my 50th but around my 40th I was so busy hosting a Spanish student and going to choir concerts and ballet performances and doctors appointments and preparing 1000s of canapés and collecting egg boxes (for the art area of the party) and eating my way through shop bought puddings so I could reuse the little bowls they came in for my own canapés, that I just didn’t have time. I would have loved to have known what I would have said in that letter to myself.
  • Reading three German novels. I failed here appallingly.  I started one with my dictionary in hand and my translator husband lying next to me but he ended up snoring and I ended up dropping the dictionary and following him to slumberland. N.B. Not snoring: the official line is I don’t snore!
  • Losing control of the 101 list. I couldn’t seem to keep control of the numbers and the letters on my page. At times my list would merrily head towards 101, while at others it would stop counting at the end of one section and then restart at the start of the next from 1?!? Then at other times my list would utilize the letters of the alphabet abandoning any kind of numerical system whatsoever. At first, I was infuriated and spent hours – OK – minutes trying to fix it and shaking a frustrated fist at the screen and yelling at my page, comments like; “Why are you doing this to me?” and “Who gave this computer free will?” Then my husband pointed out that actually, I’m just completely untalented when it comes to dealing with html.
  • Learning how to make a photobook. I attempted this challenge sometime after we returned from France. I thought it would be lovely to have our favourite French photos compiled into a book that could be kept  to be poured through by grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. After quite a struggle (remember my html experience) I managed to effectively put a photobook together online. I wanted to order it and then I saw the price of the masterpiece I had created, had a small fit and then decided to opt for a different company and a less glossy keepsake. I deleted the file, as you do, and rushed off to pick up a small person from somewhere. Then my husband accidentally destroyed the contents of our computer including addresses, kept emails, MY BOOK (luckily I had gone against his wishes and printed the whole thing off), important work he had done and our photos which hadn’t yet been backed up. Oops!
  • Archery. For some reason I had a romantic notion in my head of taking a bow and pointing an arrow and releasing it off into the atmosphere… It would spin and twirl and then land itself on the exact, precise, on the nose particle that I had, a few mere seconds before, deciphered. What actually happened was: the arrow dropped to my feet, I had trouble ‘springing’ the arrow, the arrow couldn’t even find the haystack and the kids then hit every single target. I have discovered I have a deep dislike for archery. I felt like I did that time at school when I accidentally threw the discus into my screaming team mates or those days I could not throw the javelin any further than a meter. Or those endless lessons when I spent the whole double period trying to just hit the damned shuttlecock with the badminton racket – I’d drop the shuttlecock down towards the racket which was placed directly underneath the-said-cock and then I’d hit up the way and I’d miss every single time. I scratched my head quite a lot in those days (but I’m fairly sure that’s not the reason I buy Head and Shoulders in bulk every time I see it on special offer).

So, the gist of the story is: I’ve really, really, really enjoyed the challenge. I’m a little bit sad that it’s over but on the other hand I’m extremely pleased that despite being ill, I’ve continued to plod on through.

Today is no exception, I’m planning to finish off my Freerice challenge: I’ve donated 84,680 grains of rice so far and I’m hoping to reach 100,000 by the end of the day. I’ll have click-ache!! Plus I’m off out with Reini for the last of our 33 scheduled ‘date nights’.

A lot can happen in 1001 days and some of the goals lose their appeal or their importance as life evolves. But there are a few tasks from my list that I would very much still like to do:

The New List?:

      • Make soap with the kids (I’ve even bought the ingredients but the kids are rarely all here at the same time).
      • Try belly dancing (I need to get fit first).
      • Take a pottery course (hopefully my pot won’t slide to the ground like my arrow did 😉 ).
      • Publish my book (I need to edit it first!).
      • Write a children’s story.
      • Cook a goose (my foodie section was my most successful section but I didn’t manage this one, I am a bit intimidated about cooking a goose properly, especially because I have no idea how it’s supposed to taste).
      • Go to Insel Mainau.
      • Go to Herrenchiemsee.
      • Go to Poland (this year we went to Hungary instead but I would love to do a city break in Poland).
      • Do car boot sales with the kids.
      • Write up my recipes.
      • Floating (I have vouchers now – I just haven’t been able to ‘fit it in’).
      • And put up that picture frame – why have I not done this? I do admit I did have pictures printed off at one point, but in the wrong size, deary me).

Thank you so much for all of your support. Luckily I’d also gone against my husband’s wishes and periodically uploaded photos to Facebook so here are a few visual reminders of the last 1001 days/143 weeks/33 months. Enjoy!

First 101 update of the year

I can honestly say, in terms of my 101 goals, January 2012 has been my worst month by far.

I’ve achieved one new restaurant, a new sushi place that has just opened up locally. It can easily be described in three words. Yummy. Scrumptious. And de-lic-ious.

I’ve been keeping up with my dates with my husband. Yay.

And I’ve added a couple of new films to my belt:

  • The Hangover 2 (repetition of Hangover 1 – if you liked the first one that much then just go and watch it again)
  • The Debt (brilliant, of course, with the wonderful Helen Mirren)
  • Under the Tuscan Sun (OK chick flick)
  • Hanna (we keep watching odd films?!? This is definitely one of them, but it kept me)
  • Just Go with It (I went with it – I like Jennifer, I’m not normally too keen on Adam Sandler, but I liked this one, even though it’s totally predictable)

I had one big achievement (well, really the start of one) to tell you about.


Except this morning, despite her not feeling quite so well, I sent her to school. She’d had a couple of days off just two weeks ago, so I erred on the optimistic side, she can’t be ill again already.


I had to pick her up this morning after she vomited during maths.

As you may gather, I’m one of the more popular parents…

Despite my neglectfulness in terms of Lori’s health, I have managed to encourage her to value her (what I think is gifted) artwork and start a portfolio.

She asked me to post one of her latest pieces, for your opinions:

Lastly, one of our 101ers has set a competition to help him complete his challenges. Could you be the winner? Check it out!

The Thrill of Anticipation

I am excited.

Really excited.

I mean excited excited.

NO!! Not that kind of excited!

Deary me!

If you’ve been pouring-over inspecting spellbound by paying any attention at all to my 101 list, then you will know that I have a burning desire to take part in a Murder Mystery Dinner.

And my wish ladies and gents…

… Is about to come true.

Did I mention that I’m excited?

Just a teensy-weensy bit?

So much so that I’m even dreaming about it now:

Last night I received a little piece of paper whilst sitting at the dinner table stating: “Killer”.

Thrown into the forefront of the production, with the flow of the apéritif, I began to feel quite proud as my tongue loosened (strangely in English, although I had been expecting a German masterpiece).

Then I ballsed-it-all-up during the first murder. Doing an impression of stabbing another guest (plain for all to see) at ‘The Sicilian Wedding’. Who then, in turn, dramatically fell to the floor.

Luckily I woke up before further embellishing on my own disaster-piece.

So my big break the big day is THIS Saturday. We are invited to have paid an extortionate amount of money to attend a Sicilian Wedding.

We can dress up. 🙂

Like proper wedding guests.

And the whole thing will take place around us. The drama won’t finish until we can successfully discover the killer.

Plus included in the price is a three course slap up dinner. And an apéritif. But I guess we have to pay extra for glugging back the wine.

Did I tell you yet, that I’m excited?

Squeezing it all in

“Mama, guess what I’m thinking, it starts with pffff… pffff… pffff…!”

Is how my week began.

“Fish? Flipper? Fin? Frog?”

Sat on the loo, surrounded by water, I took some inspiration.

Solemn head shakes proved my inabilities as a mind reader.

I thought further afield.

“Fun? Fire? Feather? Film?”

To more shakes.

After a few more desperate attempts including, “Feet?” and “Fly?” I gave up.


It really set the pointer for the week. Indeed, it describes my life. I live in a state of constant confusion.

In my disorganised over-stretched totally bloody knackered flustered condition, I have failed miserably and am therefore bringing you my 101 challenges update two whole weeks late.

I’m sure you’ll forgive me when you learn I have actually achieved quite a lot. Especially considering my current somewhat overwrought status. (But then again I have used up four full weeks instead of two?!?)

I’ve been marching on with the film challenge. I’ve watched True Grit (a thumbs up for that one), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (who can’t resist a bit of Johnny Depp?), Igor (fortunately, I slept through the middle bit, but I’m still counting it, after putting up with the torment, yes, it’s that bad), Treasure of Silver Lake (1962) and Winnetou 1. You’re probably thinking what? with the last two. They’re old German westerns and inspired by the fact that we took the kids to a live wild west show (that and my husband sees this challenge as a way to relive his childhood).

I’ve also been to three new restaurants, one as a date-night with a friend and the other two as stop offs to just-eat-something, while running backwards on this old merry-go-round I call life.

I’ve fitted in guinea-pigging my family with four fatifying new recipes including: banana muffins and cheats raspberry ice cream (from my new ‘Give yourself a heart attack’ recipe book).

And talking of food, I’ve landed myself another new challenge. Preparing a healthy playtime snack one Friday at Aden’s school. When asked yesterday at the parents meeting, I put my hand up, offering my help. “I could knock up a few simple muesli bars…” I looked around at all the other heads-and-hands-pointing-firmly-downwards parents, a little taken aback at their unwillingness to assist. All became clear when the teacher enthusiastically oohed and aahed and signed me up with my own blood to provide a healthy snack on my own for, oh, about 100 people. Gulp.

(None of those other mothers showed me the slightest bit of sympathy. They more looked at me with that death-stare expression: ‘you baked your own bed’…)

Excitingly, I also found someone I have not yet eaten sushi with. So ecstatic was I, I dragged the poor woman out of her house that very evening (no chance to back out on me ;-)). We had a delightful time and I think she’s now a convert.

I’ve also squeezed in going to the pool once and the gym twice. I am officially a gym failure. I suspect Michael, the gym master, hates me now.

Fantastically, we have a few new 101ers. Some are typing up their lists as you read this. Others are still to be *officially* added (by me anyway).

But please give a warm welcome to these two newcomers:


One of my challenges is to achieve 50,000 hits on my blog. Now it’s a ridiculous pipedream very tall order but this week the figure loomed rather nearer. I still can’t believe it but this post received a whopping 566 hits. I have had face ache all week, I can tell you.

Thank you!!

The haves and the have-nots

I haven’t so much to report in the form of challenge achievements. Despite the fact that we’re enjoying the summer holidays and I should technically have time on my hands.

It actually appears that time is like sand and flows freely through the cracks it finds in between my fingers.

I still have not managed to:

  • Write up the story instalments from Lori and my spa trip in June
  • Go back to the gym
  • Go swimming even though we’ve had temperatures for many consecutive days of over 30°C
  • Try any new restaurants
  • Work on my book
  • Visit any castles/palaces/museums on my list
  • Find an affordable wine I really like

You may now wish to shake me/slap me/tut at me but I’ll be honest with you and explain that I have been sleeping/attending appointments/dreaming of boring a hole in my own head to alleviate an evil and unrelenting migraine. Finally, I’m free of it. It turns out that at one of those appointments, I was given a medicine which has excruciating headaches as a side-effect. I am thinking of throwing the medicine packet back at the chemist – I had to pay 36 Euro’s for the damn thing – and demanding a refund. Or, I could just stamp on the pills to avoid passing them on to some other poor unsuspecting bugger.

Although not on my list, I have managed to book a little holiday in the south of France for us. 😀 .

And I’ve been to the dentist who joked merrily about “checking my wisdom.” I don’t think it was funnier in German. Though I did give him a nervous, obliging laugh. Turns out my wisdom is still intact. (I laughed quite deliriously at that point).

I also now have three children having their teeth pulled into order by shiny braces, rather than just one.

Which led me to learning how to make mango lassi, that counts as a new recipe, right?

In celebration of a mouthful of metal, we went for brunch. Not my wisest move. I know, despite my apparent wisdom. Picture: dribbling, dissection of food, ouches, non-understandable conversation…

I could have picked a new restaurant to help with my challenges, but I failed miserably by instead opting for a revisit. Sometimes though, it’s good to return to where you know the food is much and reasonable. The toilets are handy and clean. The service is quick.

Akasha loves the breakfast there. Hot chocolate. Bread, butter and nutella. And a biscuit for a little extra sugar.

Sat opposite me, ear-to-ear in nutella, with a little extra dab on her nose, for that face paint effect, previously red dress smeared brown. She noticed two tiny-little tomato seeds fall from my loaded bread, onto my white top. She rolled her eyes and gushed, “Mama, what are you like?”

I’ve watched another film. Johnny English attempted to distract me from my migraine. I do like Rowan Atkinson and can’t believe we’ve had this DVD in the house for years and I’d never managed to see it. All the way through I expected to recognize a scene and admit I had viewed it previously. But no, I got right to the very end without any such realization.

I decided after the last update to take on the challenge of finding 101 101ers to join our group. It’s a big challenge so I am/have enlisted the help of all challengers!!

And you know what? It’s going really well!!

Please welcome:

Silly wrong but vivid right

Thoughts from me

Vicrace Design

And also a very special mention to the-gingerbread-house.co.uk who actually joined us a while ago. (Sorry again that I’m late).

Now I’m off to watch my sons circus performance, supposedly he’s brilliant at standing on a ball and simultaneously juggling.

Keys – check. Three sisters – check. Hankies (potential proud moment) – check.

Ahoy there me challengees!

Challenge success

Home grown tomatoes
Home grown tomatoes

Phew. I was starting to think that the summer holidays weren’t going well in terms of challenges.

Then I sat down and looked at what I’ve actually done in the last two weeks and I discovered:

Doesn't look anything like radishes
Doesn't look anything like radishes
  • I have posted eight articles
  • I have three new countries: Luxembourg, Mexico and Northern Mariana Islands (I tell you, if I could do a tour of the countries on my flag counter, I really would)
  • I can tick off ‘Grow vegetables and eat them’ because my incredible gardening skills have provided us with: celery, apple, cucumber, tomatoes, and radish beetroot
  • I have been to a crap restaurant
  • Tried a new recipe
  • I took the children on a boat trip on the Danube (and it was really lovely)
  • I’ve added some new challenges

Rubbish restaurant

Crap restaurant
Crap restaurant

After our boat trip, we walked and walked and walked until we reached town. With one clueless optimistic person in high heels. Before walking and walking and walking back to the car, I thought I’d give the blistered one a chance to put her feet up and the unable-to-be-worn-down ones, the opportunity to refuel. After some debating, which included which restaurant had the best shade/ultimate view/comfiest seats/space for five together/least cigarette smoke blowing around – we picked the wrong restaurant. We used the facilities without having to hand over a body part. Then took a pew.

We perused the menu and I decided to have a crêpe. As did my son. Only when he ordered it, we were told that that item on their minuscule menu would not be available until September!?!

So I picked a ‘red and white’, so-called because of its mixture of red berries and white ice cream and frozen yoghurt.

I awaited my fresh and delicious dessert.

I am still waiting.

Apparently, they don’t have any berries and they’re all out of frozen yoghurt.

So I had a coffee.

And shook my head.

New challenges

I’ve been trailing through the internet and going through brochures I’ve collected from all over the place, and discussed it all with the kids and this is what we’ve come up with:

  • A trip to Sensapolis
  • Making soap together
  • Going to the University’s Botanic Gardens (which I had actually thought were closed to the public)
  • Attending a live performance of a Wild West Show (with real horses/stuntmen etc)
  • Visiting a stone age/bronze age museum
  • I also decided I will attempt to teach Akasha to play chess (I know she’s only four, but she keeps asking)

The boat trip

View from the boat
View from the boat

It only took an hour but I think we all really enjoyed it. It was informative and child friendly, but in answer to your question Perfecting Motherhood, no, there was not a loo on board. But three out of four children managed to pee on the grass. And one out of three children succeeded in urinating on her shoes. We’re high achievers in this family, you know.

Missed opportunity

The challenge that Tilly and I truly missed when writing up our initial lists must be this one:

  • Form a group of 101 101ers (2/101)

Because in the last couple of weeks another 3 challengers have joined our group:

Ebony Delights
Manchester Meanders
and Manchester’s Artistic Son

And had we added that challenge, it would now look like this:

  • Form a group of 101 101ers (12/101)

Perhaps we should add it anyway, Tilly?

date-Up part 2

Just to let you know – we went to the restaurant and the food was delicious.

But those darn fruit flies followed me there!

One even stole my wine! I spotted him mischievously paddling about with a snide look on his face which said, “Ha! I’ll be having that!”

Luckily for me, I had only a couple of sips left in the glass.

He looked rather merry as we prepared to leave. Between you and me, I don’t think he’d just been swimming. I reckon he’d swallowed a few rather large gulps, too. Admittedly, some wine did remain in the glass, but you have to consider his size.

As we left the restaurant I waved the intoxicated little bugger a cheerful goodbye and stood up to find I’d been sitting on a wasp the whole time.

And I’d killed it. Dead.

I think, I am not really your typical insect friend.

Birthdays, weddings and challenges

According to Tilly Bud we’re on week 16 of our challenge and I can’t quite believe how large a part of my life my 101 challenges have become. I’m also pleased to announce that as of this week, I have completed twelve tasks in total!!

The last fortnight has been particularly busy: we’ve thrown a rather large joint birthday party (my eldest daughter and I) and I’ve also been to Scotland to attend a wedding, with my youngest daughter.

Through visiting various restaurants in Scotland (four to be precise) and numerous invites from friends, (and the fact that I’m specifically enjoying this task :-D) I have decided to up my restaurant challenge: from 10 to 30.



I hope.

An ecstatic me also received two whole cookery books as birthday presents.

And a floatation voucher.

And while in Scotland I rampaged through carefully selected a few choice items from a discount Le Creuset shop which my bewildered extremely lovely friend introduced me to.

The choice items included a new cooking apron.

I kept having problems with the tie on my old one landing in the toilet.

Don’t ask.

And a small Le Creuset pan. 🙂

To make up for those lovely restaurant visits I have finally been back to gym.


Plus, after trying erm… several, I have found a wine I like. However, I can’t decide whether to put it on my ‘would buy again’ list as I suspect that I cannot afford it. (A generous friend bought it.)


Check out the other 101ers. They’re all listed on the side of my page.

Another week

I can honestly brag about this week.

So, of course, I’m going to. 😀

If you read A little teaser you’ll already know that Lori and I went off to a spa meaning I nailed two of my challenges in one.

I can hear you all chirping, “Who’s a clever girl then!!”

Chirp on.

I didn’t do my facial there because I am too skint/tight/afraid of people plucking my eyebrows/.*

*Delete as you see appropriate.

But staying in the hotel meant I tried another restaurant. If you were standing in front of me, I’d high five you right now. But you’re not, so you’ll just have to imagine it.

To top that, I took Joni out for lunch. An opportunity to try out another new restaurant but no, we returned to our favourite sushi bar, one of our favourite haunts. I could attempt to fool you here and tell you that I took her there and introduced her to sushi, as is one of my tasks. But I already told you that it was ‘one of our favourite haunts’ so I kind of gave myself away there.

Actually, the sushi challenge is pretty hard. Turns out I’ve tried out my home-made sushi on most of my friends. Or already dragged them into our sushi bar. So I may have to find some new friends first.

Anyway, talking of food, I’m now off to a restaurant with my husband as our date for this month.

How are the other 101ers doing?