Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Good old bank holidays..............rain, and then more rain and finally today the sun shone.........Hooray!

It's been a busy old weekend, we had the scouting centenary family camp near Oxford on Saturday which was great fun although I'm surprised the tent didn't float off down the forest! There were loads of activities for the kids to do, a great BBQ in the evening and despite the weather and the cold (boy was it COLD!!) everyone had a great time.

We were camping with two other families we know so after the children had gone to bed (remarkably early for our children - I think they just wanted to be warm!) we opened the wine and six of us sat huddled in the porch of our tent and kept the other campers awake until the wee small hours.

I'm not yet in the "blogging" frame of mind so although I took the camera I didn't actually take any photos. Ian and I took part in the crate stacking which involves being harnessed and climbing crates together until they collapse. It was like watching two old people helping each other onto a bus. Ian was particularly upset because I fell off first and then proceeded to swing into his stack and kick him off - shame!

The tent is now in the garden drying off from it's first outing this year, actually it's nearly as big as the garden, looks like some sort of weird air raid shelter!...........

So, we were all excited about camping again this year and promptly went to the local camping store and looked at new tents - Ian was suffering from severe "tent envy" whilst we were away. Does anyone have any suggestions about a good tent to buy, needless to say "gadget man" is attracted to the sort that pop out of the bag in five seconds flat but I'm looking for one with ensuite facilities and a walk in wardrobe!

Today Jack decided he wanted to be a "red indian" or native American - I'm not sure what you call them now. So we made a head-dress complete with feathers, loaded him up with bow and arrows and we were all set..............that is until he announced he needed a tipi to make his life complete! Off we go into town to buy the bamboo canes and came home and built this.......

Now I was pretty pleased with this effort. Needless to say the children sat in it for five minutes, got bored and bogged off, leaving me to complain about the youth of today and how I would have sat in it for hours blah, blah blah!

Tomorrow my sister arrives for a few days so I probably won't be near the computer for a while. We'll catch up soon!

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Well, let's start off with a lovely pic of some peonies (I think!) that a friend gave me last week. They're only just beginning to open and they are the most gorgeous colour.

It's been a weird week and I have been a bit slack in posting, the time just seems to have gone. On Monday K had her first session on her own at pre-school. She was pretty excited about the whole thing and went along quite happily. I thought that seeing as she's number 2 it wouldn't affect me as much as taking my first born along for the first time. How wrong I was!

She was fine about being left because we know one of the helpers there and she distracted her nicely. So I walked out of the door without my baby, leaving her in the hands of others, and I felt totally bereft. Apart from the odd few hours where friends look after her, or the stays at Grandma's we are never apart and boy-oh-boy did I miss her! It was the strangest, saddest feeling as I walked home alone without my chatty little companion.

The house was silent and what did I do? Instead of making the most of my time alone and sewing or reading I hoovered the stairs like a woman possessed! Now, hoovering is my least favourite pastime and we have a lot of stairs (we live in a very tall, thin house - not a big house!) so I don't know what I was thinking about. It was a sort therapy and did take my mind off the silence for an hour or so.

I was so excited when I went to collect K and when I turned up she looked happy scooting about outside. Her face lit up when she saw me and she ran into my arms. Needless to say my eyes filled immediately and I gave her the biggest hug possible.

Let me add that I am not an "earth mother" type. My children drive me crazy quite a lot of the time and I do find myself running and hiding in certain parts of the house at times, desperate to be alone. I also look forward to the post 8pm part of the day when I can turn my child friendly brain off and switch into adult mode. However I find the letting go bit really hard. I think it's the fact that a new phase is starting in my childrens' lives, they do grow up so fast and I don't think there'll be any more babies to fill the space. I hope I'm not turning into a sad old woman who lives her own life through her children and has nothing else!

Enough, enough I hear you cry! On a more positive note look what I got out of the shed for the first time in 3 years.............

I am a new woman - with two wheels! It's been walk to school week and J takes these things very seriously. We always walk apart from Wednesdays when K and I go to baby gym in the car. In no uncertain terms I was told we COULD NOT take the car because of the damage we would be doing to the environment. So, out came the bike complete with throne for K. I've never taken either of them on it before, I always leave it to Ian, I was a bit nervous of falling over. Anyway I did it and I am completely hooked. I've been cycling all over town, give me any excuse and I'm off. J follows me on his scooter (we've still to get him on a bike!) and we're off. We get to school in half the time, it's fab!!! Of course being totally over ambitious I overdid it a bit the first time out and halfway up a big (not that big to be fair!) hill I thought "actually I'm a bit hot and a bit tired!" but had to carry on regardless.

Bit of a long, drawn out post that one, I will try to get some nice pics for the next one. I'll finish with this one of a little picture I did for K.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Yummy cake recipe

As promised here's the cake recipe. Unfortunately I sent the last one off without taking a photo so we'll have to do with a photo of the tiny magazine cutting I've got in my recipe book. I have to get into the photo taking habit! I also should add that my cake looks nothing like the picture but it tastes delicious so who cares?


225g/8oz caster sugar

225g/8oz butter

4 medium eggs lightly beaten

grated zest and juice of 2 limes

250g/9oz sifted sr flour with pinch of salt

200g/7oz raspberries

For syrup

8tbsp lime juice & grated zest 1 lime

140g/5oz caster sugar (I never use this much, normally 1-2 tbsp)


1. Pre-heat oven to 180/gas 4

2. Cream butter & sugar until fluffy

3. Beat in eggs gradually, adding a little flour towards end

4. Fold in rest of flour

5. Beat in lime zest and enough juice to make mixture fall from spoon when tapped

6. Fold in 3/4 raspberries and pour into buttered 20cm/8" square tin (I always use greaseprrof on bottom to prevent disasters!)

7. Scatter rest of raspberries on top

8. Bake for approx 1 hour - use skewer to test it's cooked through

9. Make syrup by gently heating lime zest, juice & sugar in small pan until sugar has started to dissolve. Do not allow to bubble

10. Prick cake all over with skewer and pour juice on

Voila! One gorgeous cake with little effort, which is just my sort of baking! This one always seems to turn out ok, even though my mixture curdles, as it does with every cake I bake.

It looks lovely and tastes even better.

Let me know how it turns out.........

Friday, 18 May 2007

I can hear music.............

.............well, not quite!

Look what we got yesterday! A local church was getting rid of pianos so we couldn't resist. My friend who plays the piano could not believe that I wanted the painted piano, but I love it, it's the colour of vanilla ice-cream, and it goes so well in our playroom.

Not one of us can play an instrument or read music but you've got to start somewhere! J was totally disinterested until it arrived and now he and K are fighting over it (surprise, surprise!). I'm hoping it might spark a bit of interest in him and encourage him to learn to play something. I never learnt as a child and I regret it now. My friend Helen has lent me a book for children (about my level) to have a go with, so who knows - move over Liberace (I know he's long gone but he's the only pianist I could think of!)

Anyway, it's a great addition to the house, it took a bit of furniture rearranging and squashing things into already overloaded rooms but it looks like it's been there for years. I just want to get on it and have a go, but as soon as my bottom hits the chair I have two extra little pairs of hands to "help" me!

As a thank you to the church and Helen who organised the whole thing I made some cakes tonight for the tea dance. No.1 the plain old victoria sponge was a total disaster, all flat and pasty looking. I'm hoping with lots of strawberries and whipped cream and a generous smattering of sugar on top it will look edible. No. 2 a lovely raspberry and lime zest cake seems to be foolproof even with my hit and miss baking skills. I'll post the recipe shortly.

Lastly thanks to everybody who's left such lovely comments so far. It nice to think I'm not just wittering on to myself as usual!

Thursday, 17 May 2007

The simple things.........

I picked these from the garden, can't afford real "shop flowers" but actually these look really cute I think. They're K's favourite colour so they certainly bring a bit of cheer to a bleak day.

Yesterday I felt so much better. K and I decided to collect J from school in the pouring rain. So, we donned wellies, raincoats and K got to use her frog umbrella. As I walked along behind and watched her splash in puddles and really enjoy herself my heart just lifted. It was one of those moments you have as a mum when you see things through your childrens' eyes and realise what a great place the world is (does that sound a bit schmaltzy??)

I made some great bread (recipe from vintagepretty.org) before J came home. Normally my bread involves a lot of swearing, sweating and not much success. However, even if I say so myself, this one was a triumph. We sat at the kitchen table and ate it still warm, with butter and mackerel pate (Sainsbury's not home-made!). K declared it "dishlishush" - praise indeed! As we were sitting there the sun broke through the clouds and poured into the room, a very simple and heartwarming 15 minutes full of catch-up and chats about life, it doesn't happen often enough. Of course there was the usual cup of tea accompanying it. Whenever I have a spare minute I make a cup of tea, don't drink half of them, but it's a habit. Still I suppose it's better than drugs, gambling etc.! Bit of a rock and roll lifestyle I lead, eh!

Just had to put this photo in. Love the shoes, they clomp up and down the stairs (terribly dangerous I know) and round the kitchen, normally pushing a shopping trolley laden down with bits gathered from around the house and other general detritus.

Thought I'd sneak in a picture of my favourite cupboard. I know it's not a corner of my home but it'll do. I love it, you can squash so much into it. I spend so much time when I'm sure I could be doing something much more worthwhile decanting pasta into glass jars that no-one sees because they're in this cupboard. But sometimes I just open the doors and stare into this cupboard like a lunatic, probably need to get out more really!

Tomorrow I've something new to show you, here's a hint, not too difficult really!

By the way if there are spelling, grammatical etc.mistakes through this blog I apologise, I have no idea how to use spell check so I just publish it and hope for the best!

Check out my list, I've added a few more delicious blogs to it.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Under the weather........

Yes, I know we needed some rain, but a little bit of sunshine would be welcome again!

It's been a mixed weekend. Ian has been away cycling around Wales for two days. As he left on Friday I started feeling a bit off colour, by Saturday morning I was well and truly stricken. So, stuck in the house with two bored children, pouring rain outside and aching all over. There was only one thing for it - a visit to the dvd shop! Three dvds later and we were all feeling better! I watched one called "Friends with Money" starring Jennifer Aniston and really enjoyed it.

We also managed a trip to the local coffee shop where the children flung themselves and biscuit crumbs around for a while, whilst I enjoyed a lovely cup of coffee. The owner is very understanding!

On Sunday I decided to pull myself together and actually play with my children, so out came the paints, glitter etc., and this is what they produced.........

J's clown (looks a bit like Daddy actually- notice the monobrow)

K's er.. ummm "thing" - notice the choccie biscuit, great artists need sustenance you know!

We then went swimming and came home and I fell gratefully into an armchair. Today Ian took a day off work and I have stayed in bed until now, something I don't normally do. What is it about us women, we seem to carry on until we drop, when actually sometimes we should just stop and say "you know what, the world will not grind to a halt if I'm out of it for a while", so I'm back off to bed with a good book, a cup of tea and some nice white toast loaded with butter.......

Before I go I should really tag 4 others, but everone I read has already been done, so I've only got 2 - pathetic eh! Here goes...........




Thursday, 10 May 2007

7 weird things about me

Well to limit it to seven may be difficult, ask my partner Ian and he'll tell you there's nothing normal!

Here goes......

1. I'm never ever on time. Every clock in our house is set fast but all at different times so I never actually know what time it is. I'm always very optimistic about how long it'll take me to get anywhere, which invariably leads to me swearing at whoever is in the vicinity because I can't find my way/parking space/car keys/bag etc.

2. I can't stand orange juice with bits in - "hairy bits" as my daughter refers to them. Same with yoghurts with strawberries in, I'm always a bit suspicious that they may be dead spiders!

3. I've watched the film "Truly, Madly, Deeply" about 100 times and know it word for word. If only Alan Rickman would recite poetry to me!

4. I never have any money in my purse, even for little things like newspapers. I find myself scrabbling about down the sides of sofas and leaving iou's in the childrens' money boxes in order to buy a pint of milk.

5. I'm obsessed with food portions. I cannot let Ian have a bigger portion than me, so after I've dished up I normally take a bit extra off his plate and stuff it in my mouth before he spots me, just in case!

6. I am so hopelessly disorganised that I am unable to do anything without a list, even so far as leaving notes in the kitchen to remind me to eat something that's in the fridge. Many's a time that I've discovered a mouldy piece of cheese/fish/ham etc. languishing in there!

7. I have a complete inability to follow instructions whether written, pictorial or verbal. My brain seems to say "can't be bothered" and switches off. Is this as a result of my 6+ years as a stay-at-home mum or simply an age thing?

So there you go, a bit about me and my weirdness.

What do I do now. Am I supposed to tag other people, please could somebody let me know?

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Car Boot Joy!

What a great weekend! The weather managed to stay dry for two bbq's, so we ate ourselves silly and drank just a little bit too much and all in all it was lovely. We saw friends, the children played until late and tired themselves out brilliantly.

Saturday morning we went to the art gallery at our local museum which is holding an exhibition of the local schools' artwork. Jack had a picture on display as part of his school's project. He was so proud, and because for once in our lives we were organised and got there early, we also saw the grand opening by the mayor and Jack had his picture taken for the local paper. It was just one of those days that turned out to be perfect without us trying too hard, if you know what I mean?

Sunday is car boot day. I went down to the one I go to regularly and was a bit disappointed (still managed to spend though!). Then a good friend, Andrea called to ask me to go to a new one with her. I went along with 60p in my purse promising not to buy any more "tat" (Ian's word for my treasures). What a treat was in store! There were goodies galore. I had to borrow from Andrea - what a pal! And here's what I got..........

Some lovely trim

A really cute tin

Some gorgeous linen embroidered napkins

A whole load of vintage childrens books

And a big piece of gorgeous fabric.

WHOOPEEEEE !!!! - What more can I say???????

By the way, I've been tagged. What do I have to do? Help!

Friday, 4 May 2007


One of the things that's really been a surprise to me since I started looking at blogs was how inspiring they would be. I think I went into it all with a slightly scathing attitude, why would anybody want to write about themselves and who would be interested? It's been a real eye opener, there is such a sense of community about the whole thing, there are so many links between the blogs and people are genuinely interested in what other people are doing.

I think one of the most amazing things is that it's such a positive thing to do, the comments you receive are so encouraging and helpful. The world we seem to live in, as the media reports it, can appear a depressing place, especially if you have small children. I do worry sometimes about what sort of a place we've brought them into and what the future holds. However I am a positive person who deep down has always believed in the good of people and I think blogging has sort of proven that. The generosity of fellow bloggers towards each other and the way in which people care about each other makes me feel optimistic towards the future.

The other great thing about blogs is that it's reawakened my creative spirit which has been hiding behind sleepless nights, nappies and housework for too long. Reading about other peoples lives and how they fit it all in has inspired me to get creating again. So with this in mind I made this...........................
With a bit of jigging about with the lining it all went together pretty well, another bag to add to my collection!

This was a project from a book many others have recommended, there are loads of things to make and thankfully most are quite straightforward. For some reason I don't seem able tio follow written instructions very well, and I always seem to pick a bad moment to start making things. I tell myself it'll only take 1/2 an hour, I'll squeeze it in before bathtime whilst the kids play, knowing full well it's a 2 hour project and I'll just HAVE to finish it, which ends in my screeching at the children and turning into the wicked crafting witch. Am I the only one?

Another book I must recommend is this, it's great for novice embroiderers like me, very simple and easy to follow.

I can't wait to start on some projects out of this one.

Here's hoping for a sunny bank holiday weekend!

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

The garden beckons

The sun has been shining for days now so the time has come to venture into the garden and try to do something creative with it. We only have a small garden, typical of a terraced house but I think it could be lovely. Only 3 weeks ago it was a compete tip, all the grass had gone and it was full of broken toys (no pics unfortunately so I can't do the garden makeover before and after shots!)
Then a man came with wheelbarrow loads of topsoil and rolls of turf and transformed it in a day. Okay, we're not quite ready for Chelsea yet but believe me it's a vast improvement....

Now all I need to do is add some plants. I've been and made a few purchases but to be quite honest I'm clueless when it comes to plants. I mean I watch Gardener's World but that's mainly so I can admire Monty's big hands! You can just see some of the perennials I've planted, they're not looking too thrilling at the moment, but I have great hopes. Any tips for great plants would be gratefully received. My problem is that I'm just too impatient and gardening is one of those things that takes time. So I'm trying to train myself into not going out there every five minute to see if anything has grown yet.

More successful have been my meagre selection of pots, here's a peek.........

I think auriculas are one of my favourite flowers. This little one had been ignored all year but when I moved it to it's new spot it suddenly gave me all these gorgeous flowers. I will be nuturing it from now on!

Geraniums are another favourite so I can't wait for these little lovelies to blossom.

Does anybody know what these are? I bought them years ago from a garden centre and they have flowered faithfully year on year but I don't have a clue what they are. (Note the space hopper in the background, sort of spoils the effect!)

Finally I have planted a few pots of various salad leaves. I'm always totally over excited when anything sprouts, I come over all evangelical and drag the children over to see my efforts. Needless to say they're a bit nonplussed about the tiny seedlings, but I love them!

I had a bit of time today whilst Kitty slept to firstly sit in the garden and read my new books, hence I now have minor sunburn - why do I never learn? I also managed to make a new cover for my car boot deckchair so I now have somewhere to laze on those hazy summer afternoons, glass of Pimm's in hand (who am I kidding?).

Don't you just love the feeling that summer is on it's way?