Sunday, 30 December 2007

New Years' Eve's Eve

Twas the night before the bells rang out for another year, and all was quiet in the house bar from the family crooning their way through Blue Suede Shoes, ooh ooh. Am loving new Singstar game, have almost convinced self that can sing now as don't only score tone deaf. Sometimes score amateur and once wannabe, that's got to be good, eh?

We've got friends C and S coming to stay tomorrow night, excited already. Have decided drink of choice this New Year will be Stolly vodka and champagne like birthday. Am wannabe popstar or footballers wife if nothing else. Will be better than last year anyway where decided drink of coice would be fizzy white mixed with orange juice. Thought it would not give hangover as contained juice. Was extremely extremely wrong as could not even eat delicious dinner at lunchtime next day. Might as well have had battery acid to drink, bad move.

This time New Year will be sophisticated and merry, have lots of nibbles and games to play, and will not break anything. Time before last M broke C and S's living room window pane, just by shutting it. Trouble is their house is made from olden days material and the windows are as thin as ice, and henceforth replacement had to be obtained from Windsor or Portsmouth or somewhere very Far.

This year we will play mostly Pictionary, which I bought myself as a present during the summer. Obviously hoping game will not become slightly risque as last time played C and S. S had been told to draw diver, quite what possessed him to draw a ladies hand warmer, or muff I don't know. Think that might have been also the time we laughed so loudly that we woke up all the children. P'raps it was the fault of the fizzy wine.

This year we will obviously not laugh too loudly, and definitely not in the garden, as upset neighbours by laughing couple of months ago. The laughing itself was not the problem apparantly, it was that it just kept going.

This year we will eat delicious hand made pizza's thanks Jamie Oliver and M, and crisps, and not forget to eat and get too merry, then will definitely make a tall man go round the block with a lump of coal, first footer style y. Can't remember if you're allowed to talk to the man, or invite them in, perhaps not. Might upset the spell.

Anyhow a very happy New Year Everyone, here's to a wonderful 2008.

Bedtime creeping in to the afternoon

Children have decided to be as annoying as possible in the last few days, they are actually plotting amongst themselves of ways to get us riled. Daughter J has not sat and stayed at the tea table for days, choosing instead to either lie on the floor and cry, or to play batting legs under the table. Have tried time out but she seems to enjoy that too, think that we'll get no sense out of her until end of season.

Son, keeps an 0rderly bedroom whilst getting dressed, but the time it takes is getting longer and longer, may be some sort of dressing OCD. He also needs to discuss each step with me at lenghth, e.g. ' Look at these jeans mummy, I've worn these before, where did you get them from? What pants to they go with etc etc'. I've taken to deliberately staying late in bed so am close to dressing action but so can roll over and shut eyes between each bout of questions.

Oh and daughter loves her home-made dolls house, but is busy squirrelling half the actual house in there when we're not looking. After they went to bed yesterday, even before medicinal Pinot Grigio retrieved a glass of juice, some marbles from the marble run, some chocolate money, a giant dolly, and a satsuma.

Possibly we all need to actually do something, has just occurred to me that halfway decent mummy would consider that children going mad out of boredom and should be taken on Outings. As am aspiring halfway decent mummy will take them on outing today, does the supermarket count?

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Christmas Pudding Ice Cream

Lovely Seasonal Ice-cream


100g of sugar
little water
half a packet, about 200g of luxury mixed fruit
about a cup or mug full of brandy
one teaspoon mixed spice
one teaspoon of cinnamon
one 500g carton of custard
300ml of single or double cream

Preparation time - overnight soaking, ten minutes preparation, then six to eight hours of freezing (start this at least one day ahead)

Put a suitable freezer proof container in the freezer
Soak dried fruit in enought brandy to cover, pop plate on top, and leave overnight
Melt the sugar and little water gently over a medium heat
Add mixed spice and cinnamon and take off the heat
Combine custard, cream and fruit mixture in a large bowl

Take container out of freezer, and add mixture to it.
Freeze for about six hours, won't be end of world if you forget exact timings, then mix well together with a fork to ensure all ingredients blended across pudding
In about six hours, or sooner if you can't wait, remove from freezer and spoon small portions in to individual bowls to serve
Add a crunchy plain biscuit, like biscotti or even chocolate chip to the bowls and eat!

Hope you enjoy, makes a lovely alternative to a heavier pudding, and is simply divine.

Crisp and Bright Day

We've woken up to a glorious winter's day, wonderful light and the whole street seems infused with crisp and bright images and shadows. Developed a new plan last night, that is to create a workspace to make art and craft. Spent some time pondering on where best to place this, to place this. Was very tempted to use children's playroom as they mostly use it as a toy dumping ground. On the occasions they are not watching telly, and not dancing to music or not playing in the garden, or not playing sleeping in beds, they do use it though. Course it is also handy dumping ground we can shut door on for random toys.

Anyhow after considerable thought, have decided to use the room with the most light, and sea view as art room, actually not art room that implies we'll actually make art, lets call it hmm, DIY room?, craft room?, study (unlikely will do any of that), I know MY Room. How exciting, to have lovely room of own! Now even more pleased with idea. Basically we have to turf ourselves out of our bedroom to do this, and re-create a bedroom in the loft. There's a slight flaw with this plan, in that although loft room is mostly finished, it has no heating, hence plan might fall at first hint of cold!

So today need to go out and source (love that word) some thick curtain material, and some lovely things. Trouble is, unless go to credit card (which will not do!), only have £20 from Nanny Nora, and another £20 Marks and Spencers voucher to do all this. Will we manage???

Watch this space!

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Stuart's 35th birthday

I'm usually one to shy way from strong emotions, both in everyday life and in this blog.

However today I want to write about Stuart Jarvis, my brother in law. Stuart was killed in February this year by a drunk driver near the house he shared with his partner V and her/their two gorgeous bright teenage daughters. We've all been filled by sadness today, and by memories. Stuart was a good man, he loved all his family, his parents, grandparents, his true partner in life V and the girls, and his brother, and niece and nephew and his friends. He won't ever see this house in Hastings, we moved here, then finally exchanged on the house whilst up in Wales after his death. He'll never see his girls go to college, have their first boyfriends, challenge his authority as a father (although they always did a bit of that, they've been too young to be truly naughty). He'll never go to his gran's funeral, he hasn't outlived his parents, and he'll never see our children grow up. We'll never know if he would have had finally found his calling in gardening, we'll never have a Christmas or a birthday with him again.

Our children will always know him, know of Uncle Stu, with his dogs Harry and Buster, and his lively family, his crazy van with different coloured doors, the presents he and his family bought them, the toy dog Buster, the train kit, the mini car, and the too small collection of photos. They will always know that adults can be sad, can cry, and can miss someone so much. That adults can still remember and will always look after them. But Uncle Stu will never see any of the children; either ours or the girls settle down, maybe marry, maybe have children. He'll never again take them swimming or camping, or to parties.

And we're missing our brother, Stu who could always be relied on to look after M and me. When we bought this house he was so proud of us for moving out of the city, for giving the children the best start in life, and for owning an actual house. He was proud of us for doing everything for the children, and for looking after them well, even if he did not totally approve of them being vegetarian, he'd always blamed his parents for giving him bad teeth for being vegetarian when he was little. Nothing to do with not always brushing them himself of course!

Stuart was never in to careers, or really into modern living, he adored his family, he loved his friends and he lived life with passion. He was a musician, playing in a local Welsh band for years, he loved punk music, and parties, and drinking, and the countryside. When I think of Stuart at his best, it was with V and the girls in their house in a field, by woods and a stream. Although he lived in both London and Bristol, it was Wales that held his heart, and the mountains. He showed V and the girls all the places he loved, the beautiful places his parents had shared with him whilst as child. He'd just begun gardening whilst back in Wales, and it suited him, outdoors lifestyle working hard and being with nature.

So Stuart, tonight's for you, you would have been 35 today, your mum remembers well giving birth to you, and how hard it was and how much she loved you, your dad remembers it all, and is dedicating a website to you, where we can all write our letters to you, V and the girls miss you so so much, a bit of life has gone for all of us. None of us will ever be the same without you, but none of us would have been without you in our lives. Al and Ellie are supporting the family, and missing you, as are Wolfy and Lisa, and Rowan, and so many many other of your fantastic friends.

You would have been amazed and proud of everyone, and pleased that we're all drawing together at this time, and trying to look after each other.

Stuart - cheers, this one's for you, god bless and sleep well.

The best Winter Ice Cream ever

We've had a lovely Christmas, very quiet, and full of family times. With heaps of yummy food. My favourite foods so far have been the home made horseradish mustard, thanks J, and homemade Christmas pudding, thanks E and A!

However, am also loving two things I made, if that's not terribly rude. First favourite was winter salad, which was a bag of salad jazzed up with home made garlic croutons (fried wholemeal bread chunky cubes in olive oil and garlic) and crumbled Danish blue. Second favourite was ice cream Christmas pudding, this was very easy to make but absolutely delicious.

Will upload recipe later.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Christmas Loveliness

I'm enjoying the run up to Christmas in the country, oh alright L and any other geographers out there, Christmas in a rural yet urbanised environment. Just back from immensely hectic drip to town, incorporating search for my perfect four slice toaster (not available here), and a trip to the supermarket.

The supermarket had everything we needed, except Pritt Stick, and as is not food stuff can live without it in nexty two days. But the main loveliness of the shop was the people, it was very very busy, aisles back to back with people, trolleys, buggy's and shelf stackers but everyone was making space for each other, chatting and smiling. Never happened in London. Well was busy but everyone miserable and trying to ram each other out of the way with their trolley's. Also shop assistants in London, mostly hated customers, and customers hated them. Everyone very jolly in this rural yet urbanised environment, and wish everyone a happy Christmas.

The decorations on our road are also nearly all lovely, sort of subtle gold or silver lights, and even some actually classy moving reindeers, yes it is possible. Love it.

Plus two different people this year have made us some amazing home made goodies. I'm absolutely delighted with them, and love how pretty they look. One couple have made us a home-made Christmas pudding, complete in a ceramic bowl, with gorgeous Christmas fabric on top, and some apple chutney. A new local friend here has made us some lemon curd, have not had this for years, and am excited to try it again, some horseradish sauce, and for the children two spinning tops. Absolutely brilliant!

Course, I know feel a little bad as all the people who made these amazing things work, and I just loll about the house watching Sonic Underground, course, am also Incredibly Busy providing good role model of lolling about mummy for the children. Will not be surprised if they tell teachers etc mummies just drink coffees and hide in the kitchen whilst children entertain themselves. Not too bad though, as long as Jem doesn't remember time I asked her to stop lying on the floor having tantrum 'cos mummy had to finish mixing the gin and tonic's. That was a very good Friday afternoon mummies meeting!

Anyway, am signing off for now, as need to go and find some church clothes to wear to the Carol Service this afternoon, and to finish off getting ready for Christmas.

Have a lovely one, everyone.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Things I simply can't understand

I've been pondering this for a long time, for some reason there are many things I just can't get, no matter how many times people tell me, or patiently explain.

1. Water does not actually boil at 100%. This is a fallacy, because it never has. My physics teacher made the mistake of telling me this, and I've never quite got over the ability of the age of enlightenment, or science to just 'pretend'.
2. Long division, I was stuck on this at primary school, and never made it back.
3. At school, again, that 3 times 3 is not 6, goodness knows why I couldn't understand this but bore the shame of being at the bottom of the times table ladder for a whole year because of this. And I wasn't in the colouring worksheets only set.
4. Why anyone would drink gin and tonic without ice and a slice of lemon, or preferably lime. It perfects the drink in to a sublime experience.
5. Meat sausages, who in their right mind would eat this, bit of minced up gristle (what is that anyway?) and ground ears. No thanks.
6. Blood - how can more be pumped in to you when your own is going out, and it works? Mystery.
7. Fantasy novels - what's the point of giant turtles that people live on, penned by people with beards (nothing against beards though per so, obviously would not want to actually have one when seventy - or sooner. Fortunately they don't run in my family, so think will be ok for that one.
8. School uniforms - again, what's the point, they're not actually cheaper, children find their own 'uniform' of belonging anyway, and they are usually made of nasty nylon with stay press trouser creases.
9. How to make a fire, that actually works, despite having lovely log burner, have to enlist help of others - hello, neighbours, to make it have flames.
10. Semolina - eyes in a pudding anyone?
11. Why chocolate custard is a good thing, when all it is actually is runny blamonge, which is just made out of afore mentioned ground up ears and bones (oh, alright gelatine).
12. Why you have to look out of the rear window backwards when reversing. Going backwards is just hard all together.
13. Those maths puzzles where a man digs a road for ten hours with a brick, then his friend helps then they go to the cafe, how much do you owe them?

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Wet Windows

We've got really wet windows this time of year, understand why it happens with old sash windows, particularly in bedrooms where we breathe in our sleep, (well I'm hoping that's what the children do at night rather than run downstairs and watch snooker), but why does it happen in our newer windows in our living room? May simply just be 'cos they are damp, but blowed if I can figure out how to sort that out. Living room windows do face sea, and when stormy weather comes in from the sea, rain actually penetrates the windows.

We're not alone in this in Hastings, really barmy, did not know windows were sometimes permeable. P'raps it would not happen in my now fantasy ideal new home, which would be in the suburbs, Blacklands its called here, with fake pillars outside, and little bay trees with classy little fairy lights on them for Christmas decorations. It'd also have a separate little den, which would be very cosy, and heating would only be on for five minutes to warm up whole house. It also would not get very dirty as paint and plaster would not fall off the walls, and there would be no dirty fire. This cleanliness of house would mean we could have a very pale cream carpet throughout the house, which would never get cat hairs on. No one would ever drink coffee, apart from on the designer breakfast bar to minimise spills, and no one would ever ever drink blackcurrant squash (rots teeth anyway) and certainly not red wine.

I'd also have amusing neighbours who would drop in with wondeful anecdotes about their delightful children and gorgeous husbands and partners. Of course I would have a gay neighbour who would be the most amusing, in a real stereotypical way. He could sit in my kitchen with a bottle of designer water, and discuss his favourite type of fabric box with me.

And of course in my fantasy new house I would be dressed almost all in Boden, with a couple of a darling little bargains picked up whilst in East London. And no one would ever accidentally poo in their slipper (aka daughter couple of days ago), sick up bourbon biscuits in their hair (again daughter couple of weeks ago), or have horrid snot coming out of nose (Ol this morning). Oh and finally ironing would be done by Lady Who Does. And husband would never break anything, and make the absolute ideal gin and tonic.

Please can I click my heels three times and go there. You can all be in the suburban sit com too, just with no dirty noses or bottoms please.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Lily Allen is having a baby

Firstly, please can I just say Lily, congratulations on your pregnancy, best of luck with it, and enjoy it

However, I can't believe it, Lily's only 22, and likes to party. As seasoned mother of two am worried she doesn't know what she is getting in to, at least nine months, plus breastfeeding time of not partying. Plus for us broke types, hardly ever going out again, even if the baby settles for someone else, you just don't feel the same.

However on the plus side her body is bound to snap straight back in to shape, she'll be more connected with her children, i.e. get their music, love High School Musical, know what they should wear etc.

Plus most thirty something mummies I know find it hard to get time to dye their hair, regardless of salon or home dye. Course again on the plus Lily Allen having baby side is the fact that our mothers all did it in their twenties and we've turned out great.

Also my friend H who is a bit younger, ok eight years younger than me has boundless energy, and even walks up the Evil Mountain she also lives on pushing sometimes two children in buggy's.

However on the down side of having children earlier can be witnessed by poor old Britney Spears, she sadly has not stopped her partying and crazy lifestyle for the children's sake. However it seems that after her break with Justin T, she was already on the road to being troubled, might actually be that being young is no regard. Can't believe am discussing Justin T as a stabilising feature, wonder if Cam finds him one, or have they split up now? Think they might have 'cos he wants children and she doesn't. Oh wonderful idea, he should get back with B and then he can have hers.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Top Ten Tips to make a House a Home

At this time of year, we all want to be able to walk in from the cold, to a warm, cosy den that feels welcoming and homely. However its not that easy to create a home from possessions, until quite recently, well about four years ago we did not have a homely space, rather a place we lived in. For me, the changes we've made to make our place a home seem so simple, but we just didn't use to spend enough time in our home, or in fact care enough.

So here are my Top Ten Tips, feel free to comment, add your own etc.

1. Mirrors, artwork and personal photos up on the walls. Actually putting up hooks, and drilling in to the walls, gives a real sense of permanence. Mirrors in particular if carefully placed, make a room more inviting, seem larger, or reflect the best bits. Most tenants will be allowed to put things up too, so no excused. The only thing I would recommend doing is investing in a clever DIY device that checks there's no wires or pipes where you want to drill. Sory don't know name of thing, so bound to be embarrassing asking for it in ironmongers, well alright B & Q.

2. Soft lighting in living areas, and bedrooms. I've only recently begain to see the benefits of this, but its so much more softer and cosier to have several small table, standard or wall lights on, rather than one cold harsh light. Even nicer is my friend K's idea where she has permanent fairy lights, the classy kind, rather than multi coloured Santa's placed around her house.

3.Display your treasures, whether these are your snowdome collection, as in American friend L's flats in London which always looked amazing, or your collection of rocks from the beach, even your CD's and DVD's can look cool and inviting when stored well on open shelves. The only exception to this I would say is possibly scary dollies that are very expensive. I just don't know how these can ever make a home look inviting, what if they turned alive, and winked at you? It's well worth spending some time and thought on the best way to display your collections though, as say Wade animals could look cool and funky under a glass topped storage coffee table, but fussy in a mahogany cabinet (and need lots of dusting).

4. Soft furnishings that actually match or at least complement each other, from sofa throws, to cushions, to curtains and blinds. I've also recently discovered that curtains are not intrinsically uncool as I thought for the last ten years. Rather they serve a very useful purpose in the cold, to keep the warmth in, and can look v. cosy/and or cool. However net curtains are always always wrong, real lace can look beautiful, as can floaty fabric, just not ever ever nets!

5. Beds need more than a duvet thrown over two pillows to look inviting. Again, can't believe how long it took me to get this one. Think I worked this out from visiting friend C's house, which is the cosiest and most comfortable house I know, may, in fact, steal all her ideas. Duvets are fine, but need the addition of blankets, or an extra quilt, and all beds should have four cushions at least. Bedrooms should also have chairs in, ideally with some lovely cushion on that complements the bedding.

6. Carpets are not necessary for a homely feeling, but some rugs, and bits of carpet are. However carpets do add to a space as long as clean and newish, but not if make you stressed with worrying about them. Rugs are great, but sadly, at least for me, do seem to need a lot of vacuuming. And I'm not keen on that. Necessary on a cold wooden floor though, so add a sense of warmth to a room, and actual warmth to put your feet on. Cats also like to sleep on them.

7.Real fires are amazing for adding homely factor, if not possible, good gas/electric ones can be brilliant at adding a focus to a room. Amazingly even really cool looking ones add a sense of homeliness, course the actual warmth is a Good Thing too.

8. Have tea and coffee making stuff, ideally of course an amazing Gaggia machine, but for the rest of us a cafetiere will do out on the side. This means that people who come to your house feel more welcome to help out by making the drinks as they don't need to search the cupboards for bits. Two real benefits here, one guests feel welcome (sorry family and close friends you just have to make drinks due to my sheer bad hostessing skills) enought to make drinks, and two you get help in making people comfortable.

9. Go in rooms and really look at them, it might be a room can be made a little more homely with the addition of a few books on a bedside table for guests, or a scarf draped over a handle, or even a little homemade fairy on a hook. This even included the hall, and its worth remembering the design edict that everything should be beautiful or useful or both, if not chuck it!

10. Keep stacks of basics like toilet roll, and soap and towels accessible in bathrooms. Lovely to see extra supplies of things, and gives a sense of luxury, even if they'll get used anyway so not luxury at all really.

And finally, once you've done all the above, relax and love your house, make it little gifts, and buy it little gifts.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Newspaper Paper Chains

We've made some, and they are great! Even got two year daughter involved by doing the colouring in! Of course they're not classy, but frugal yes, and environmentally friendly yes, as long as we recycle them I guess!

Been a busy day making actually, made a couple of Christmas wreaths, aforementioned paper chains, and did some more cards. Ol loving Christmas cards at nursery, its so great! He's delighted with every one he receives, like a real affirmation of friendship. It did make me think, we should all be the same with them, it's lovely to think of friends and family and Christmas and lovely to think they're thinking of you. It's what its all about after all, rather than feeling cross about long lists of cards to write, we should just send the ones to all the people we want to think about, and like, and all those who have helped us this year.

Here endeth the moral.


Fantastic news - lovely husband has done most of the ironing, he missed a little pile of unironed clothes we had, but fantastic! Now we have the luxury of actually looking in our wardrobes and having clothes, its all good!

Saw my friend S at the weekend, she tells me my blog is mostly about how cold I am, could not argue with her, and was tempted to start today, with a gosh I'm chilly rant, Instead I'll leave you the readers to guess how chilly I am, and its very!

Got lots of lovely Christmassy things done this weekend, just have to make a little food now, which is fun on on, bit on stressful side when have to share the rolling pin with pre-schoolers, also worry they're sort of intrinsictly dirty and will make everyone ill with their help. That's a bit mean isn't it? But really, left to their own devices they'd wipe their noses on the carpets, not least the oven gloves.

Off to the post office and library today, very Shopping with Mother, then might pop to the greengrocers and the stationers. If I was a decent houseperson like in the fifties, then I would also be getting some Things from the Ironmongers to finish off the dolls house lovely husband is making. But sadly, had DIY ears last night when he explained what we needed so actually have no idea what so ever. I do remember we need a marker pen, but I disagreed, and think we should paint the detail on.

Christmas tree is collecting many ornaments every day Ol goes to nursery, and they are great, only little problem is they are sort of Super Sized, especially as we've only got a teeny potted tree. Do love the tree though, and all our decorations.

Haven't mentioned frugal living lately, we're still busy making do and mending. This weekend husband went wood gathering, and we have enough wood, all chopped up with an axe too, but sadly not the giant one he craves, ready for us to satisfy our primal urge to burn over the holidays. I've also been slighty obsessed with getting some velvet curtains, checking out prices for new (not possible) and on e-bay, (could be possible but all the ones I loved went for at least sixty). I then remembered our local bargain paper; 'Friday - Ads', everything in here is for sale within about a ten mile radius, and often amazingly cheap. Picked up some lovely dusky rose velvet curtains, that although lined, don't quite reach the floor for twenty pounds. Totally love them, they keep living room warm from draughts, and match the furniture. Sadly don't match the paintings of grapes/and/or peacocks on our bay window - done by previous owners.

Still do at least give a grown up feel to the room.

I'm also working on making some curtains to keep the heat in our loft room. K has some great ideas how to do this, best one I think is putting baton at the bottom, and sort of folding them up like blinds. Just have to get some lovely thick fabric now. Do have some old curtains around, made out of lovely thick cotton, but don't think there is enough to cover both windows, and the loft hatches. Should learn to use sewing machine. Will learn how to use sewing machine if its the last thing I do this winter. Dreading needle threading though.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Christmas at the Table

My Homemade Christmas Door Wreath, like the original scary fox knocker?? Gives an extra touch, well at least in Halloween.

Had a busy Friday, went to an alleged Christmas party at a local playgroup. The playgroup is run by, not sure exactly but either Sure Start or the Council. As a rule the playgroup is distinguished by the fact that the fun was sucked out of it years ago. Storytime is incredible, the story is read by someone who struggles to read, and to top it off, usually picks an incredibly glum story about bullying, or similar. Now I know I think two year olds can be quite bright, but its fair to say they never understand, so sort of compete to get in the way of everyone else at the front.
The least jolly bit is probably the singing, in which only a certain selection of old boring tunes are allowed, and for some reason we all sing them like we're being forced to. My favourite tune of misery is the Grand Old Duke of York, to which no one marches, there's not much action, no rythym, and most certainly no fun. Songs like Sleeping Bunnies and Jingle Jangle Scarecrow are ruled out, as the words not being known, or allowing the children to laugh.
Friday's party entailed this kind of fun, the more children were excited about it, and even put their party clothes on, when we got there it was the same bike circling misery in the concret yard, without even usual distracting art activity, as table was set with fruit and dips. After about half an hour or miserable cycling, and hopping about, they sat down and ate fruit, or for some, mostly bread sticks then it was time for a song.
Sadly, no one had thought about Christmas carols, so claimed they did not know most of them. Still we struggled through a limited grim set before going home. And this is where it was a party for the children, because they got a card and a present. All was forgiven, by them at least.
In the afternoon my friend K and little one (who had not enjoyed earlier party) came over. We wandered about a bit, then settled down to make wreaths, mine as above. Really enjoyed it, althoough did have a sense of K and I being more of a touch of bonkers stay at home mummies when two other part time working mummies came over, and were quite alarmed to see us quietly making things.
Still, afternoons like that make me love our house, even if its falling to bits, and the five children got out every toy and spread them out carefully with a space of about two inches between each, thus ensuring whole house covered in toys. Best thing about this house, is there is room for grown ups to chat and laugh, children to play toys, older more grumpy ones, you know who you are Ol, to watch Sonic X, and little ones to ride about in buggy's. Also have enough greenery in the garden to make million wreaths. Did stop at one today though, as could not bear any in house, in case they attracted fruit flies.
Wonderful cold weekend weather today, ideal for getting up ladder and looking at roof and side of house to see where leak comes in in rainy weather.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

70's Lunch

We keep running out of basic food like cheese, and houmus, and bread. We can buy lovely bread locally, but yummy cheese and houmus involves long walk home, up massive hill. Hence have not been eating much of it.

Instead have been eating more tinned stuff than ever before, its kind of good as its quick and cheap, but definitely lacking in vegetables and sometimes you can taste the salt heaps in it

Today the children ate alphabetti spaghetti for lunch (can that really be nutritious in any way? Don't answer that please. I ate vegetable raviolo, which I think at least has some protein in it.

Then for pudding we had tinned pineappe with carton custard. Was v. yummy and quick and easy but do feel bit of guilt about it. They do know what McDonalds is, what sweets they like, and have even seen a Pot Noodle (of course not eaten one).

Trying to decide how bad a parent at feeding my children I am. Course I tend not, well nearly ever to go for oven ready food, like chips and stuff. But they do eat non-organic biscuits, sometimes with no nutritional value like bourbons, or is there calcium in them? When I first became vegetarian at 13 bourbons were one of my staple foods, so I must have needed them.

Have never fed children kebabs, or chicken type take away, or very rarely gelatine sweets. Hideous conversations about gelatine sweets make them a problem anyway, as have told children there are ground up bones from cows in them, wish had not been so graphic, as now they love gelatine, and hate it, 'cos after all what child likes idea of ground bones. There is a fairly high chance they will turn in to mini Goths I think. Luckily have old wisdom tooth necklace, I made after having mine out saved for them, so they will be Super Cool. Can just see them Hanging Round Camden, though hopefully not with Amy Winehouse or her children, just with maybe Johnathan Ross' children, they seem alright.

Will just decide am not a shocker of a parent, they never had Ribena or diluted red wine in their bottles after all. But just having a slack day, and at least have left house today.

Lots to do before Christmas, so again in interests of random historical novel to be published about life of suburban housewife and wannabe writer in 2007 will share:

  1. Pay £5.83 which we owe for 2006 council tax, not sure why, or if they ever told us today, but random bills always appearing and everytime I query them they turn out correct.
  2. Make Christmas wreath for front door out of ivy, and possibly holly berries if can be arsed to go to woods, or can source some from far away place, like garden.
  3. Change sheets in spare room, and in fact whole of house.
  4. Dust upstairs office type room, have not done this for well ever, but is not like we really use it much.
  5. Make office type room in to my making stuff hideaway and, make stuff in it, e.g. pretend crafty bird cage, K and I started last week.
  6. Finish making Christmas cards, think some of them look little, well rubbish, will need to add some buttons or something on them, def less classy than well me at present.
  7. Write and send aforementioned cards
  8. Post Christmas presents to far away friends and family, think have almost bought them all now.
  9. Finish wrapping Christmas present, prefably before posting to said friends and family.
  10. Remember to water tree every day otherwise it will be like City Tree that died before Christmas last year, was v. sad and told children would be better here in country as Country Trees more healthy, and have not travelled all way from Norway, ours is from Westfield, about four miles away so therefore must be healthy and fresh. This is because All Local Things are Great, and will reduce carbon footprint, stop global warming, help the little people, bring money in the local ecomomy, not support multinationals, and um, be our friends?
  11. Make some sausage rolls, and a Christmas cake, latter not fruit but just decorated sponge I think.
  12. Make some Christmas ice cream
  13. Buy some food.
  14. Make some ice
  15. Do some ironing, has been three weeks now, and pile is getting out of hand, looks comfy place for Baby Jesus to be born in.
  16. Get or make couple more stockings, from somewhere or other...
  17. Go and see Ol's nativity - can't wait for this one, he has four lines! My son a star, though would be v.v. proud if he was Joseph, although can't remember Joseph saying much, as he was Srong Silent Type.
  18. Cut Ol's hair, and sew button on his shirt before 17.
  19. Buy more sweeties for J's advent calender, totally run out now.
  20. Have Artists Date (doing, well would like to do The Artists Way by Julia Cameron) once a week. Next one to fabric shop I think. Important to do this one Without Children as they do Impair Creativity by simply being cute, sometimes, but always, needing things, like nose wipes, drinks, toys, mess etc etc.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

TV Shows - Christmas Specials time

We watched My Family -Christmas special last night, a re run from maybe last year. Very funny and started to get me in to the spirit, do love my family. Can't really believe that proper actors do sitcoms, and love the grumpiness of the family, definitely reminds me of my own, and sort of my ideal family.

One of my friends said she'd always wondered who watched my family and just can't imagine how its funny!I think its great, although shame Kris Marshall has left and even more of a shame he's doing those quite smug BT adverts on telly. That family sort of makes me sick, just too much, and perfect in a modern way. Yuck!

Been thinking about telly a lot lately, really would like to not ever watch it. Really enjoy Holby City, normally have lovely glass of Chardonnay and catch up with bestest show on telly every Tuesday. Don't actually like anything else, although seem to get sucked in to telly land quite regularly in the evening.

Going to turn new leaf over from today, and only watch decent things, like the news, and well of course Holby. But not the one show, not the soaps, and definitely not the best of anything, or top 100 anything, or anything we sky plus.

The exception here is of course X factor finals which I absolutely have to watch, and am actually a bit excited about (do I need to get a life?). I want Rhydian's album, but I want Same Difference to win I think, as it'll be their big break. I have many opinions in X factor, but don't want to say them in case come across as slightly demented for caring too much. Might cry again to it.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Changing Fever

Right, am totally obeying own saving money tips this week, have now changed gas and electricity to a (hopefully) much cheaper company, and earned £40 worth of wine - from Sadly not yet recieved it but sure it is on its way!

Then have just changed home insurance saving a £14 a month, which is loads -I guess about £168 a year, new policy only costs £19 a month and seems to be exactly the same level of cover as old one. Think we'd just stayed with old one because our old flat in London's lease was tied to one particular insurance company. Used, which was very easy to use and sort of entered your details in to the company's websites making it super quick.

Feel a little like I have been quoted happy, but not by those people in the advert, in whose care my lovely little blue car was crashed. Still bitter about it and a year on, they were supposed to just be changing my lock!

Decorated the house yesterday afternoon which was lots of hard work, but managed to sort of achieve a colour scheme. Well I've decided silver and white are primary colours in living roon so have banned gold, but just in here, and all other colours are present. Tried to hide all red baubles too but Ol put them up whilst was in kitchen then felt little churlish to ditch all his decorations (of which he was very proud of ) just to kind of have a scheme.

Oh, one of the other exciting things that happened this weekend was that we visited local pub. My first time, it was fun, sort of very local but with Great Juke Box, and only about five customers, so getting served was speedy. Drank beer out of the bottle though, so not sure if will be allowed back. Also played Abba.

Did not play shove ha' penny though, and will never play it.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Frugal and Crafty Wrapping Paper and Cards

As I'm a make and do - ey person have decided to make own wrapping paper, and cards this year. The plan is that they will be more stylish than I can find in the local shops - garish, cheap paper with jolly Santa's on anyone? (Gosh, I miss Paperchase!).

But no matter, the children and I are as classy as Paperchase. It's been raining for the last three days so we've made a good start sorting out these bits and bobs.

Button jar - over the years, I've kept spare buttons that come with clothes but rarely used them. I'm afraid they were all in the little plastic bags and in all different locations around the house, from jewellery box, to sewing bag, to drawer of junk in kitchen. Have now put them in a nice old Bon Maman jar and they look lovely, and more importantly are available for craft and sewing if needed.

Fabric box- I just realised a couple of months ago, that throwing old fabric, clothes, pillow cases etc in the rubbish was a total waste. They either needed recycling, taking to charity shops if in ok condition, or kept to be re- used for something else. As I've only been doing this for a couple of months, I've re-used some old t-shirts as cleaning cloths, they're really good at messy jobs like blacking the fire as can just throw them out afterwards. Anyway I've put the few bits I do have in my fabric box, plus I've got quite a few tiny samples of fabric to think about, possible new carpets, possible curtains, but definitely good for craft projects whilst I think about it. Just need to buy some pinking shears today.

Ribbon box - I've been saving all little bits of ribbon, exactly as I remember my grandma used to, which is very satisfying. These have come from wrapped pyjamas, presents, chocolates, even an old tie from blouse, and a tie from a picnic blanket plus I bought a couple of metres in a local bargain shop. It was very lovely curling them up and placing them in a tin, course, I banned children from touching them, as they wanted to play dancing, no really I did let them but then banned them.

I've also collected these supplies;

brown paper for wrapping,
blank card and envelopes
double sided tape
normal tape
hole punch
Christmas stampers (v. cheap from tchibo last year)
teeny hole punches, heart and star
crayons, felt tips and paints
PVA glue
Glue stick
Little pictures cut out from magazines (usually by me am afraid sort of occupies my hands whilst watching telly)
Some wire, think its galvanised
Little jar of cloves

I need some pinking shears, will try and get some today, also something to cut the wire with as it really hurts my hands and doesn't seem to cut with scissors. Helpful husband told me the thing I needed but afraid I promptly forgot, and suspect thing is in depths of Scary Understairs Cupboard, am not joking it even has pictures of monsters painted on wall by previous owners in glow in the dark paint, and it smells, plus we've put so much in it that scary things like the saw fall on your head in there.

Don't have a precise plan for all my craft supplies, but feel rather like Hunter S Thomson's preparations for a party, see Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas whereby accumulating the things (drugs and alcohol in his case, sticky back tape in mine) is half the fun.

However these are the first two of my projects.

Ribbon Cards
  • Take two postcard sized pieces of card and punch two holes on the left hand side
  • Thread some ribbon through the both pieces of card from the front
  • Leave the ribbon a little loose to enable card to open, tie up ribbon in pretty bow at back
  • Cut out shape of tree or star in unexpected fabric, think tartan, children's rabbits etc
  • Stick this on the front with glue stick
  • Voila, a classy home made card!
Wapping Paper
  • Cut a wrapping paper sized sheet from some brown paper
  • Use stampers or a homemade stamper (cut potato in half and carve out shape, think simple though, like a stars, circles, tree shapes.
  • Stamp all over the paper in festive colours if non festive stamper, or if festive stamper try using non festive colours, just use your favourites (no not black Ol!)
  • Let it dry, and you have some unique, recyclable (unlike shiny wrap) strong wrapping paper as classy as you are!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

My recipe for cauliflower curry

Decided to make a lovely curry last night - have a recipe for chickpea and aubergine curry. Sadly had neither ingredient, nor any proper spices so decided to use instincts. The curry was gorgeous yesterday with rice and naan and even better today with jacket potato's and a little creme fraiche (ate the rest of it yesterday for breakfast with mince pies and clementines - probably best breakfast in world).

Anyway, here's my recipe:

Cauliflower and Squash Curry (cos that was what was in the fridge)

One cauliflower - cut in to chunks
One butternut squash - cut in to chunks
Three small carrots - sliced
One medium sized potato -cut in to chunks
One large onion - finely chopped
One fresh tomato - chopped
One drained tin of tomatoes
A big handful of red lentils, well washed
A good squeeze tomato puree
About a big cup full of water
One garlic clove  - finely chopped
3 teaspoons of curry powder (korma)
1 teaspoon of ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil

Use a really big heavy bottomed saucepan
Fry the onion in the oil until softened, about five minutes
Add the garlic and ginger, and fry gently for about a minute
Add the curry powder and stir vigourously for about another minute
Add each vegetable in turn, stirring well after each one is added
Add the water and the lentils
Bring to the boil
Add the tomato puree and sugar
Cook gently for about fifteen to twenty minutes
Add the salt to taste (and pepper if you fancy)
Check the vegetables are cooked by popping a fork in to see if they are nice and soft.

Either serve straight away with rice, jacket potato's, naan, with a little yoghurt or creme fraiche or pop lid on pan and reheat later.

In terms of good for you - ness, this recipe scores quite highly combining fairly low fat, with fresh vegetables, and protein in form of lentils, and yoghut.

More crafts please

Terribly stormy day today, actually has been all week - this is definitely different weather than I know. I have experienced rain before but this type just goes on for years, and gets one very wet, I don't know why its more wet than other rain though? And it comes through closed windows.

Anyway, we'll have to stay in this afternoon because I've run out of dry clothes, nursery run got me soaked each way, and am experiencing a sort of housework melt down at the moment. Doing some things, like tidying up really well, but there is a sort of underlying grubbiness about the house (e.g. definitely don't want to look under the sofa just in case), and for some reason washing system just not working. Ol has had to go without school shirt for two days, just t shirt under jumper, looked v. Miami Vice cool actually because of some kind of aversion I've had to washing white clothes. Mind you, as usual in our family, he made us seem even weirder in his own way. His teacher asked him if he had anything special to wear to the nativity play (he's a narrator, am v. excited about it), and he told her he would be wearing his birthday suit. I know what he meant (his party outfit) but teachers had to nod in a supportive manner to him. Almost as bad as the time his trackie bottoms fell down in gym class, and teacher took me aside and told me he did not have any pants on. Sort of wannabe Britney Spears.

Mind you great excitement in our house night before last, as 2 year old J managed to use the potty for first time, obviously has not happened since, and was just fluke but was like a party atmosphere. Could not quite muster up enough enthusiasm to cheer like rest of family, 'cos hate the carrying potty round bit, and washing. Oh and potties, oh, and anything to do with toilets.

Also had a blocked toilet yesterday, when plumber came up made big point of blaming it on cheap loo paper, but think he thought we were bit snobby as he says was definitely not too blame as his wife raves about shop cheap loo paper came from. That is as maybe, but its 3 ply, with pink flowers on. What was I thinking?

Other slatternly behaviour from me, has caused fruit flies in the house, think it was from the delightful oranges with cloves in, with developed an attractive white bloom, ok mould, and did not get taken down for days afterwards. Flies keep diving in to drinks to die, hopefully this will kill them all off, but in meantime is a danger I might drink one. And I would not like that.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Mountain of Hill

Our house of tattiness is up the biggest hill in Hastings, can't believe I did not realise that before we bought it. We drove to all the viewings then at home, just looked at proximity to sea and lovely old town on map. Forgot the effort entailed in climbing hill with buggy and pre-schooler. Locals say they get used to it, and quite like it because it keeps them fit. Does this mean that I am just extraordinarily lazy, and so are my children? Probably, but it is a major issue for us, puts us off going to see the sea, which is after all the point of living by the seaside.

Shamed myself on Sat by asking a woman if she was off the telly, she was, then asking her, if she was preggers again (she was obviously v. much with baby), then to make matters worse told her the gap between her babies was not very much. Can I shut my mouth ever? Perhaps if used energy hill climbing would not have so much energy to just be social reject.

Oh, well did go to lovely new coffee shop n Saturday as well, ate really yummy cheese straw, might have a go at making them, was sort of chewy with edam type taste. Then found some great Christmas baubles in art shop, basically round with decoupaged heads on them. Was particularly keen on Bille Piper one. Might have a go at making them too, quite fancying idea of Dr Who smiling down at me from Christmas tree (yet to be acquired). Oh, and cloves in oranges decorations grew white mould and attracted small flies, not greatly seasonally cheerful.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Too Old for Sweeties

The children spent their penny collections yesterday on sweeties, out of sheer childishness I decided to have my own sweeties too. I got a packet of my faves - Tooty Frooties, J had white mice, and Ol had loads of lollies.

I managed to not eat any until I got home, which I thought was quite good, Jem ate all hers before she'd left the shop. Then we got caught in a gale, got very wet, ran in and got changed. I settled in the living room with my copy of the Saturday Guardian, which I love and my sweeties. So hungry to eat them that I crunched the first one, and cracked my tooth, leaving wobbly bit at the back, just stuck to my gums. So sad, and worse because I had to tell loads of people, nhs direct, receptionist, emergency dentist etc. how I'd done it. Almost wished I had had a binge drinking episode so could say was hard and tough.

Sweeties must have an age whereby you can't eat them a bit like the wearing of short skirts, or alcopops. And I have reached all these sell by ages. Actually short skirts and alcopops don't bother me, last time I tried an alcopop it hurt my teeth with its sweetness, and have not worn a short skirt since, well can't remember, so at least ten years ago I think. Oh once wore short dress on holiday in Corfu about nine years ago. Had sort of permanent red face, my version of a tan before I discovered decent fake stuff, and fat knees, and hair that was far too short. Basically I looked like a slightly taller version of Ann Widdecombe. So that was the last time.

Emergency dentist was very good actually, had an appointment within an hour of ringing today, yesterday bizarrely nhs direct told me I could not see a dentist and had to buy some sort of chewing gum to make my own filling. Course as ex-nhs member of staff I ignored their advice and just rang again today. Did not like idea of making own fillings out of chewing gum, even if it did contain cloves.

Dentist just gave me a painkilling injection, then pulled out bit of tooth. Was bit gross as was quite big and had some blood at end. Nearly asked if I could keep it but managed to restrain self. Have still got own wisdom tooth somewhere that I made in to a necklace and actually wore around neck when at college. Was not even properly a goth. Actually may have been an Emo in today's terms, but not really sure what that means. Probably never made it to a teen cult due to taste in music veering towards the S Club 7 or Wham types. Am loving Same Difference at present, will buy their album definitely if they make one.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Glamourisation of the role of Housewife or Homemaker

Are we in danger of making believe that the role of housewife is full of faux vintage fabric, enamel washing up boxes and gorgeous little button tins? The trend towards vintage shops, beautiful home goods, gorgeous fabrics, and cute aprons has grown dramatically over the last ten years. so much so that housewife fashion if you like, is even stocked in tents, and sleeping bags, I guess designed to introduce our daughters, and younger women to the trend. Don't get me wrong I'm a sucker for the gorgeous bits, for the spotty oil cloths, for the modern yet floral cushions but are we thinking about this really?

Ultimately we're harking back to the era of our childhoods', or even a little further to the era of our mothers. We're following the old media guides, from story books, to Bewitched to The Good Life's guide to what being a housewife is. It means popping out to the shops, with a happy chatty toddler, making do with what you've got, knitting, making things out of fabric for the house, from tableware to duvets. It also brings up the glamour of the role, the lady of the house potters about in the day shopping, having coffee with friends, chatting to work men then after the children are fed and bathed getting changed to a glamorous outfit, or taking the daily pinny off and popping a bit of lipstick on for the return of the man of the house.

Nothing wrong with all those things, but were they real in the past or are they real now? Middle class ladies probably did not have to make and do during the late fifties and sixties, they genuinely either made a choice to do ladylike sewing or they got a local lady to do it for them? Working class ladies I'm sure weren't all about stopping at seven for a nice little drinkie, and I'm not sure it was all about floral patterns, I seem to remember a lot of hard wearing denim and cord, at least in the seventies. Did any of our mothers really live like Samantha in Bewitched, the housewifely bit not the magic bit? And were toddlers really so much better behaved? Perhaps as we had the Fear of When Your Father gets home, and a smack. But really, were they? Or were they just like that in public?

And what are we doing today, making this role appear too glamorous? I recall some research a couple of years ago which said the generation under mine, the twentysomethings of today have largely decided they can't or don't want to Have It All. That they will be happy to accept staying at home with the children, or even after they're married for footballers wives. And their does seem to be a rush of women in their twenties in the public eye getting married and having babies young. Obviously this is the ideal biological time, well if you miss out on teenage motherhood, but its so different to my expectations when I was younger, and many of my generation. We planned on careers, on meeting great partners, in very sense of the word, marrying or not, having children or not, but after we'd sorted out our careers. Most of us have done that, and some of us have gone back to work, some haven't stopped but we haven't got the ideology behind all this. We're too bright, too educated to be John Bowlby, Attachment theory followers, we're too bright to know our precious children can do without us, we're too bright to stay at home all the time.

So what choices have we but to glamorise the role, put a little sugar on top, make our own lives a little nicer by surrounding ourselves in the lovely? And what image does this give our to other younger women, and to ourselves? That the role of housewife/homemaker is an important one, or a trivial one where its more important to have the right fabric, and could go on to say pram, baby bag, etc. etc. than what? Than just making do?

Really life is better with more glamour, but is all this glamour just on the surface? Are we really ditching the pinny at seven and reaching for the lippy and gin and tonic?

10 Things I love about you (the country)

1. People are really genuinely nice, even aforementioned teenagers.
2. The health food shops are very well stocked.
3. We can decorate the house for free with beautiful greenery and flowers brought in from the garden.
4. We have a nice big and safe garden, I don't worry about a crackhead person suffering from needing drugs/money leaping over the fence, then in to our garden whilst being pursued by a police helicopter. (It's happened to two different townies I know).
5. There are wild beasties such as badgers and foxes wandering about.
6. There are lovely walks where you can't hear any cars, or even better, see any sky scrapers (always disappointed in Victoria Park and Hampstead Heath for above reasons).
7. It takes ages to get anywhere so you have to make your own amusement, pudding parties anyone?
8. We can dress up really really warm and not get on the tube and think we will die of heat stroke.
9. We never have to get on the tube at rush hour again, particularly not whilst pregnant.
10. Fresh fruit and vegetables, although English, no giant peppers here, is local and just picked. Have to admit to missing amazing Turkish greengrocers, that may or may not have been a front for heroin running in to the country. You really could buy an aubergine all night in Haringey.

10 Things I hate about you (the country)

1. Creatures, spiders, beetles, mice, worms, evil ladybirds, slugs, snails, ants, sort of badgers as they might have attacked friend C's cat, although they are quite exciting to have around as proper Wild Things.
2. Everyone drives everywhere, specially in hilly towns so you never get to bump in to people and chat.
3. The buses are really expensive, £2 for a single in to town, which is about a mile and a half. Pricier than a Paris am sure.
4. It's proper cold so you have to wear a Proper Coat and boots, no messing about with drapey shawls or denim jackets.
5. You can't buy hummus, olives and pitta with vine ripened tomatoes from the corner shop for a quick supper.
6. You can't buy MAC makeup within a 30 mile (at least) radius.
7. There is a lot of dog doodah in the marked footpaths and streets, and a lot of big and small dogs.
8. There are teenagers, some pregnant, some just drunk, some actually quite nice (not quite sure what Ken has done with them in London), p'raps they just can't be out for fear of losing mobiles and trainers to Muggers.
9. Sometimes nipping out for a drink means a long walk in the cold and rain.
10. It's a long way from anywhere, apart from more country.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Decent clothes from charity shops and car boot sales

I've been thinking a lot about how being frugal for me, at least, really can't mean that the whole family look too scruffy. Although I admire the sort of Brighton free range children look with scruffy hair, too short trousers, red socks and organic clothes I know I'm a bit too straight laced to get the children to dress like that, and at 35 years old I'm a bit too old to look gorgeous in jumble shop and any old fair trade clothes. I need to spend quite a while planning outfits as I get older, and making sure clothes are flattering. Same goes for make up really, did have a bad day on Monday without any on, but really does make me look closer to forty.

I also have to admit to being a bit against the sort of hippy free range woman look that I know a lot of women in London particularly get in to when they are older and with children. I personally think some of the inspiration for the look simply comes from not having much money, wearing out all decent pre-children clothes and just not putting yourself first enough, basically letting them rush your clothes planning by annoyingly demanding breakfast, nappy changes, face washes etc. This is probably why it takes my family now about three hours to get ready in the morning and even then we're hardly the most glamorous family on the street.

However, I do think there are some tips that are useful for pulling together family dressing on a budget.

1. Accept all hand me downs, my children generally love wearing clothes from older friends. And buy gender neutral clothes if possible.

2. Browse charity shops regularly, do look out for brand labels you know, and like, for example I bought Ol some lovely Gap jeans in a local shop. Be selective about clothes, although there is a place for cheap children's clothes in their wardrobe, I think cheap second hand clothes tend to look a bit scruffy and are simply not good enough for a second use. Interestingly I read the other day that some charity shops are refusing cheap clothes, as they just take up shop space, and can only sell for pennies as they were so cheap in the first place.

3. Use car boot sales, but be very selective, its worth having a quick look at the family and their car/goods first to see if they are Like Us. I know this seems a bit snobby but its really depressing shuffling through aforementioned piles of cheap clothes, or worse fake designer. n.b. this is not to say that families don't buy designer clothes for their children, I think they just give away the best bits, or sell it on e-bay. When you are looking for clothes, as before, check the labels, it just makes life a little easier.

4. Shoes, I wish I had a tip to buy cheap shoes but I'm afraid I believe proper well fitting shoes are a lifetime investment that needs to be done. The tips I can pass on are the following; if there is a sale on in the shoe shop, do check with staff to see if they happen to have your children's size, once only this happened to us, but we did get some great girls boots for £15, just buy one proper pair of shoes for your children each at a time, they can usually manage on this plus some wellies (definitely bought cheaply as only worn for a little time), and some canvas shoes or converse in the summer.

5. Look in cheap shops for women's clothing, and some basics like men's t shirts. I'd like to recommend buying socks and underwear in cheaper shops but find it a false economy as they're just not nice enough, and don't quite work properly. Cheaper shops can be great for nightwear though, and one season only fashion bits, little tops, dresses, and skirts. It's always best to go in at the very start of each season though as the best bits, linen trousers for £8 etc. sell out very quickly.

6. Look in nearly new designer shops for women's clothes. This can be fantastic value and some of my most unusual but lovely clothes have some from these. Our local ones had some brand new black Uggs last winter that my friend S picked up for £30. Think monsoon skirts, vintage jackets, and racks and racks of lovely handbags.

7. In the country, as I've learnt this year, it is worth stocking up when visiting favourite shops, Hennes for example, or a decent department store for underwear. Our local Marks has an extremely limited knicker selection which is a bit of a shame, I think they market to the older lady brigade down here given the size of coverage the pants give you.

8. Again, when in the country, use decent catalogues, I'm a bit of a fan of the French ones for clothes for me and the children, but wait until they send you a really good offer, e.g. 40% off your order, or £20 off or so on. You can spread payments out with catalogues, or just pay them off straight away with a debit card. I think you only tend to save money with offers, so if you refrain from shopping until they get a bit keen its worth the wait. You can also tend to get some more unusual bits that you don't find on the high street.

9. Mend clothes, I know this sounds obvious for some people but I seriously never used to do it. It only takes a minute to mend a tear of rip on a seam, or replace a button. And clothes really do look as good as new ( if on a seam) if you do this.

10. Use some stain removers, look at tips on the internet for specific stains, but I have to admit to using washing up liquid for greasy stains, and an old block of Vanish for everything else, oh, and I also, predictably I guess have something for red wine. Again, this is probably a bit obvious but am sure I'm not the only one to have thrown loved clothes away in the past due to a little stain.

11. Buy quality where its needed, e.g. shoes, swim arm bands, baby nappies, but save on not needed quality, cheap t-shirts, seasonal little dresses and shorts etc.

12. Any guide to saving money, should include make your own, you can buy some really fab fabrics for decent prices, and there are still patterns out there to make clothes. I wish I could say this is something I use, but afraid am not skilled in sewing and cutting enough. However friends who make and knit do have some fab pieces for decent amounts of money.

13. Keep your eyes out for a bargain, whilst in the supermarket, browsing shops, jumble sales etc.

14. And finally, something I learnt this summer, school uniforms in the colour and style you need sell out very quickly. You do actually need to buy them in July for the whole year, God parents were right on this one, otherwise your offspring will be in clothes much too big or small for them for whole year and you will spend pointless and boring hours searching through every bit of uniform you see in the shops for the right size/colour/size. n.b. this also applies to black plimsolls down here, but can't work out how to get that right, you don't know what size and width they are going to be in advance do you?

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Christmas Decorations

How soon is too soon? I think the local enthusiastic opinion is to go for it in a subtle way as soon as the town lights are on, last Thursday here.

I've got my autumnal wreaths up at the moment, but am quite aware that even with the addition on an apple they may appear to be Christmassy. They're going a bit floppy anyway, I thought that the leaves would just fade to golden colours and look beautiful, 'fraid that was my usual over-optimistic thinking. They will be fit for nothing better than a bird's nest by the end of this month.

Still have some lovely flowers both from the garden, and some from friends that are looking quite nice indoors. Think garden ones might bring insects with them though. Wood definitely bring in the Outside. There was even a snail in the car at the weekend.

Can't see the sea today, too much fog or mist of rain clouds. Glad we don't live in the West, it must rain more there.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Important Things I have Learnt (this weekend)

1. Even meat eaters largely think pork hot dogs are gross, they have opinions on meat too.
2. No matter what you say, largely meat eaters, think gelatine is fine.
3. My look-e-likie is Lisa Tarbuck, apparantly, and apparantly I am also funny like her.
4. People should not tell me any stories about their sick animals with badger bites, and how they subsequently smelt without expecting me not to be retching before they have got to the point.
5. Foxes make bad smells.
6. I have fat cheeks, hence would find it difficult to find a diving mask that did not let in water - luckily can't really swim so should be ok.
7. Orange peel can't just be left on the side for a couple of weeks, then be expected to be a fire lighter, the mould is a bit off putting. There must be Another Way.
8. Move over open fires, chestnuts can be roasted on top of woodburners, and even afore mentioned meat eaters who usually eschew nuts like them.
8. Everyone loves a bit of Stilton at midnight.
9. Not everyone loves dancing on dance mats in front of other people.
10. I must try to not tell everyone how obsessive I am about coffee then they will never make it for me.
11. I think it would be ok to keep a jar of instant coffee in the house, as some people like it.
12. I am probably a make and do person.
13. I am a fan of Cath Kidston.
14. Children do get tired, and can go to bed a bit early, or late without Dire Consequences.
15. I like drinking champagne and vodka with orangina.
16. Eating cheese stops me from having a hangover.
17. Take water and snacks on long walks as we all get tired and thirsty, and there are no corner shops in Fields and Woods.
18. I love my new Ugg style sort of O'Neills boots, as mentioned in earlier blog.
19. It's cold in November
20. Everyone loves the seaside.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Unpleasantness of Cleavage Showing

Have discovered two unpleasant things about cleavage today, not sure why only just discovered them, more exposure to countryside or children perhaps.
The first is mine, when its cold having cold cleaveage is hideous.
The second is K's, your child insisting on putting cars down your cleavage is equally as hideous, particularly if its cold, or if they try and retrieve them.

Dressing Routines

It's a normal cold but bit sunny day here at the top of the hill, and I thought I would stay in this afternoon and do housework, as usual for a Friday. Have spied some Cheerio's under the sofa, and am sure have not have any for weeks. Also got friends and new baby coming to stay this weekend, so think best to make house marginally clean.

Ran out of clean pants for son today, (he had to wear swimming ones, again, oops). which reminded me of his obsessive dressing in the morning. Left to his own devices he takes about an hour to get dressed, and seems to enjoy it. Think my procrastination has rubbed off on him, The best bit of it is the check, check, check, part. His routine is as follows;

Get to his bedroom, look at something, toy, book, even chairs - comes to tell me about object, e.g.'mummy my chair is great for reaching tall things'.

Take off all his clothes, bar his vest

Go to use the bathroom

Come and tell me he has used bathroom

Encouraged, slightly impatiently by me, to return to his room and get dressed

Returns to bedroom, perfects chucking pyjamas on to the top bunkbed, this can take time, and involves climbing up to bed for another go if not in perfect position, not sure what that is but seems to involve being too far to reach without climbing up

Slightly more impatient urging by me to get dressed

Chooses some pants, some socks, and (on non school days) a top that matches his pants and socks, then trousers which match all of the above. This can take some time, depending how many clothes are actually clean and in his wardrobe

Puts all clothes on chair

Counts them down on to pile on floor, saying pants, check, socks, check, t-shirt, check, jeans, check

Then remembers would quite like a belt so still in vest comes to find me to find belt

I say he does not need one impatiently by now, or I'll get one later

Gets dressed, in specific order which Can Not be Altered, although does change from day to day.

Comes to find me to have outfit admired.

Any ideas for future careers anyone??

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Slummy Mummy

Still have not cleaned up cat poo in front garden, but its ok as its disguised by all the mud.

Mouldy Door

Just spied mould on the bottom of the kitchen door, guess its linked to the wood rotting, linked to the rising damp, then linked to the concrete floor. Can I just pretend I don't know the reason and replace the door frame, rather then getting diggers (poss called builders?) to take up concrete floor.
Same goes for flaking paint in on kitchen wall, on living room window, bedroom window, and playroom wall. Maybe I need a sort of house lobotomy where the worst problems become non existent because my brain can't see them. Or I could take a tip from the children and shut my eyes, that will make them disappear.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Bus Journey from Hell

Must remind self that have gone off buses for a reason, just got one home from town centre, bus was packed, I had two children, buggy, loads of shopping and two balloons on sticks. Gave up seat to pregnant lady, but after about ten minutes noticed she looked squashed, realised daughter was clutching lady's knee with dirty hands, and son was repeatedly bashing her in the face with his balloon. Buggy was also squashing her in to the corner, she did not look very happy. Did apologise for all of it, but she said she did not mind she was just glad of a seat. Good God, how nice are some people! I'd be weeping about my lot, or deciding my children would be perfectly behaved just because I'd tell them to be.

Then older ladies started to argue about how many bags they had, and who could move back further or something. Was quite entertaining so listened to them instead. Bus driver so jolly he laughed all way home about weight of his over crowded bus, and made cheery comments. Bet he listens to Steve Wright in the bloody afternoon too.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Killer Ladybirds have Got My Curtains - window dressing that is..

Oh My God. Just went to drew the curtains and looked up at the wire, thought oh how lovely, someone has wrapped some beads around the corner of the wire. Then, why would anyone, apart from me that is do that, I guess I could say its the sort of decorating I do come up with.

Then I realised it was the killer ladybirds. A whole gang of them, at least fifteen, why are they there? Is my house too damp (the bay window does have Damp)? How can I make them go? Decided to close curtains and wait for Long Suffering Husband 'just make them go'.

But how hideous, what are they doing? I read earlier in the year about them, apparantly they've come from Nowhere, or Somewhere Abroad, and are eating all our little cute English ladybirds. It's something like the red squirrel/grey squirrel story, evil American grey wins over cuter English red. But they were not beetles really and did not breed in my curtains. God God God, how to deal with creatures this house brings up.

I saw a fox wandering up the road last night, cute, but poos in the garden so not keen anymore on lovely urban foxes. Also one ate my friend H in London's lovely white Birkenstocks once, so not friendly, also looked at her mum, can't remember why last bit wrong but was Bad.

We had a lovely valuation lady today, our house has gone up to Band D council tax which we're appealing against. She was very nice, but it is very complicated, I think we should win though as we only have 3 bedrooms, unlike our neighbours who are rightly D because they have decent extensions and attic conversations that are more than 3 foot long, and for an actual purpose.

Very unsure about purpose of our attic conversion, as its off master bedroom, and is just sort of full of bookshelves. Possibly just a reading room thing with no heating and no floor. It's useful for putting things in but then so are actual attic's. This one does have two windows, and does somehow serve to suck all the heat out of our bedroom in to it, and straight out the windows. So that's useful in the summer, bloody frezing now though.

Oh, and in terms of to do list - have done these tasks so far this week:

  • Nearly all massive three week pile of ironing

  • Vacuumed house, and mopped all the floors

  • Bathroom cleaned, although not by me am afraid to say

  • Made four winter garden wreaths - photo to follow, one is alright if slightly too Christmassy for time of year, did try to tie apples to it to make it more autumnal but they fell off and was worried that local children might steal them aka apple theft, although probably would be community service by me as better for them than the sweets and fizzy pop I normally see them with.

  • Made and frozen soup and veggie sausage rolls

  • Shopping online completed

  • Bought some new sheets but forgot pillows which was why I went out..

  • Went to son's parents evening, which went well apart from him leaning over on the table and bumping his head on it, then five minutes later daughter did the same. Teacher then asked what the problem with our family was, course I could tell her it was Husband who was extremely clumsy, luckily he was there to look sort of clumsy.

  • Decoupaged a little Ikea stool, with bits of pictures that I like, its sort of funky but also a bit strange. Think I will do another one tonight for the children's playroom, have cut out bits from magazines that I like already. It will be a bit girlie but will be able to do another one for Ol from more 'cool' things when we collect some more grown up magazines. Can't believe how gendered they both are. And I've worked hard to make sure they weren't, I do think its partly age related though, daughter is in to Bob the Builder and Dora and little children things, and son in to computer things, suspect he would be keen on Power rangers and cartoon things we let him watch them, but do try to avoid violence.

  • Sorted out children's playroom, and their toys - just need to buy new inner bag for bean bag too now.

  • Dusted whole house, except for afore mentioned attic room which has A Lot of Shelves.

  • Oh, and went to new and really not very comfortable playgroup with daughter this morning. Parents quite deprived and sitting on table facing away from children. All the children there came and played with me and friend K because we looked at them, and sat on the floor. It was really a bit sad, but probably good for parents as they got to chat (they all seemed to know each other), and ok for children to be out with other children. Think quite a few smoked so probably good for children to be out from smoky environments too, n.b. Hastings has one of the largest populations of smokers in the South East,and more surprisingly people here, even with children actually smoke in their houses. Did not know anyone really did that anymore. Also the community centre housing group was very depressing with breeze blocked walls and obligatory scent of bleach. At least it was clean though I guess. One of first playgroup experiences was Cheeky Monkey's in Leytonstone which we all grew to love, but first time we went with little babies were so scared of the dirty old carpets on the floor, had to put babies on muslin sheets, and think were too alarmed by whole place to drink tea. Mind you once did get children a beaker of juice and found lots of mould inside. Is that ok for them?

Think that is all of excitement for last two days, bar usual dinner making, and washing, and drying, and sorting children out. Latter three all made far worse this morning by daughter coming in our bed after putting hand down her nappy. Woke up to bad smell in my face which was her hand. Very hideous.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Rainy Night

Last night it was raining so hard, and the rain storm appeared to be coming down the hill, rather than from the sea as usual that we discovered some new problems. Putting the children to bed I noticed a really chilly draft sort of coming through the sash window. Wasn't sure how to resolve it really, well other than get PVC windows, but decided to fix curtain to window frame with clothes pegs in the end. It did seem to keep the wind out. Really did not know sash windows could be so holey.

Then came downstairs and found rain creeping in under kitchen door. We knew the door did not fit very well, but to have a door actually lettting rain in was not expected. Could not think of solution to that one so went in to living room instead, with lovely warm fire and glass of wine and watched 24.

In effort to be frugal we signed up to one of those DVD by post schemes, but as we don't want to pay any money, we feel we have to watch DVD's really quickly when they come in the post. Is bit of a shame really as think 24 is beginning to be a bit much for me, really fancied just sitting last night. 24 is amazing really, but so brutal and disturbing am not sure its actually good for me. Spent hours awake in bed last night worrying about, goodness knows what really and sure it was because was so hyped up from watching 24 before bed. When I was pregnant we watched another series, and I managed to get such bad toothache I thought something was really wrong, dentist said I was just stressed and grinding my teeth in bed, due to watching 24.

I think I've answered my own question really, need to stop watching 24 probably altogether but definitely before going to sleep. Do not want to drive self any more mad than already am. Going to try a week without telly soon, just need to convince rest of family...

Finding some cloves and oranges

Mission for today is to find some cloves and oranges, stay calm all day (not always easy), and try to see the sea. Can't believe we live next to sea, less then two miles away and have not seen it up close for days, bit like living in London, and not going in to town for weeks. Or is it just that we get so caught up in trivial day to day life that we forget to do the things for us, that we really love?

Also have an urge to try and make some Christmas presents, hence the oranges. Last time Ol made them they went rotten though - not sure why. Just hope it doesn't happen before Christmas this time, also still need to think about wreath thingy for door. It's a beautiful albeit cold day today so perfect for getting on and out.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

My to do list

In the interests of being open, and sharing the excitement that is suburban housewifery I have decided to compose today's, well this week's to do list on line.

1. Freeze spicy pumpkin and lentil soup.
2. Go to Ol's parents evening tomorrow, remember not to discuss personal feelings about phonics, or make any hand gestures. Try to talk about friends - i.e. does he have any?Think of diplomatic way to ask if he annoys the teachers by talking too much, about Sonic hedgehog, or just generally, remember to let teacher talk first though.
3. Make some paper snowflakes to decorate windows with.
4. Clean up cat poo in front garden, and consider buying £4.99 fake cat with glassy eyes from betterware catalogue to scare away cats, ? will it work with badgers too?
5. Vacuum the floor, best do today as is sort of health and safety issue.
6. Make some wintery things with children, oranges with cloves in, and maybe that winter wreath (have left it so long it can be combination of autumn and Christmas.
7. Do some ironing, might be nice to achieve this in next two weeks, as getting bit silly. Even son complaining that he has only got fluffy jumpers in his drawers.
8. Do some dusting, various locations.
9. Tidy playroom and sort out children's toys.
10. Tiday attic room and sort out dust up there.

That's about it for the list, just had a real Anthea moment, she would say stop writing about it and get on with I shall, first with the various dusting. Do other people write to-do lists in order, or tackle them in order, hmm not sure, well I am v. good at prioritising, have read 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, though can't remember any of them. Oh, touch paper only once is a Very Important One.

Will report back later in week so see how I get on, tempted to delete ironing but that would be cheating...


Been thinking about birthday today, am thirty five on Wednesday, discovered last night by browsing amazon there is a new condition in America that I probably have, either it starts at thirty or thirty five depending on which book you buy. It's called peri-menopausal and as far as I can work out simply from skim reading the comments basically you get it (but only in America?) before you are menopausal. I think is makes you grumpy, have PMT in a bad way, and be forgetful.

I must have it, as can be very grumpy. Got grumpy yesterday with cat for sitting on warm bit of blanket and making me feel bad if I stole it from her, and have got sort of low level grumpiness with self and husband for still not painting over crazy peacock/grapes design thing over living room bay window. Oh, and also grumpy as car not been cleaned, not sure who I expect to clean it but would like magic cleaning men like in London. We used to go to a drive through valet and clean place in clapton, it was wonderful, loads of men - about ten I think used to polish, clean, vacuum and clean outside of car. Afterwards it had no mould in, or little spiders and smelt nice. There was also a sort of comforting mafioso air about it, as the working men dashed about cleaning cars, and the Big Man checked them all and was the only one in charge of the money.

Also grumpy as husband has lost my birthday present in the post, yes that may seem unfair but it is actually his fault. He bought something on e-bay, but got it sent to London. The nice people in London forwarded it to Hastings, but unfortunately to our old temp address we only used for a month. Somewhere on the A21 it disappeared, possibly cos nice Londoners did not put any additional postage on it, still bit grumpy about it.

Friday, 16 November 2007

25 ways to save money

I think we're not alone in feeling the pinch at present, everyone I know is thinking about how to save money, make more money and make the best of the money they have. So here are my 25 top ways to save money, all but one of which I use myself, the latter I can credit my friend H with.

1. Avoid turning on the central heating in the house, by wearing thermal vests (children), cardigans or jumpers and slippers (all).

2. Use woodburner, or open fire whenever possible, and burn found wood collected from the ground on country walks (you may need to take an axe/saw with you, so might be worth taking whole family so police are not called.

3. Keep old linen, curtains, etc and re-use. If you move house, curtains you went off can suddently have a new lease of life in new window with a new room. Or creative types can make up children's costumes out of these, or even new cushions.

4. Using up the ends of paint pots by painting old furniture, handed down chairs, children's tables etc. Of course this is not to be recommended on real antiques but is great to add a chic factor to yellow pine and Ikea bits.

5. Order a weekly vegetable box, either from an organic company, or locally our PCT organises a scheme, and plan meals based around contents of box. This way you get to eat (mostly) healthily and have some inspiration for meal planning. I use cranks cookbook, and index of other less worthy volumes to find things to do with more unusual vegetables (have to admit have never yet cooked the celeriac though).

6. Buy economy tissues for the children to use, they use so many that although they are not recycled it is less waste as they're so thin.

7. Make cupcakes and birthday cakes from scrach rather then buying, also taste far better, even if for me anyway sometimes look a bit flat/burnt/plain weird.

8. Re-discover basic cleaning products, you'll be amazed at actually how much better they can be than the more modern developed products, i.e. use cream cleanser with scrubber (sponge not you) for the bathroom instead of specific bathroom cleanser, and own brand antibacterial cleanser for everything else.

9. Rather than buying expensive flowers, use what you have, whether they are beautiful flowers growing in the garden, or bits and pieces of seasonal green. A selection of charity shop, and collected vases will help display these to best effect.

10. Family fun nights - try football crazy nights, with finger rolls topped with cheese, and red pepper cut in to St. George's flag, if you support England, or make up your own flag recipes depending who your family support. Try X Factor nights, get some soft drinks in, darken the lights and join in with the voting, and singing if you know the songs. And of course there is always the seminal Eurovision pary night, which is my favourite - think Euro pop, stringing and making paper Euro flags around the room, betting on your favourites, or picking countries out of a hat, downloading the songs to sing along, and even digging out old video's of previous years' competitions to watch after the show.

11. Make your own popcorn - simply buy from health food ships, heat some oil up in a lidded saucepan, add enough corn to cover the base well, put lid on, shake every little while and listen for the pops. When they have died down, its probably ready. Add some butter and salt or sugar and enjoy.

12. De-clutter areas of your house every couple of months, e.g. bookshelves, DVD's, toys, wardrobes etc, and either sell on e-bay/amazon or store to have a car boot sale every couple of years, or more often if you have lots of bits. Generally speaking you can usually make more on ebay or amazon (for books) if items can be posted.

13. Do the obvious and right things, turn off lights when leaving a room, and replace used bulbs with energy efficient ones.

14. Give and recieve hand me down clothes for your children, so expensive to have to buy all new, and appreciated by everyone.

15. Buy or borrow a tent and go on camping holidays, you'll be amazed at how civilised they are nowadays, mostly with nice loos and showers, and you can take all your own things, and have yummy local salads/grilled prawns and fresh bread to eat.

16. Use the local library for books and DVD's rather than buying them. Apart from particular favourites which can then be bought most are only read/watched once anyway. Some boroughs now rent children's DVD's for free (although not East Sussex).

17. Buy some items locally, or from local markets, bread is usually much nicer straight from the bakers, and not much more expensive (hence more likely to be used than horrid cheap bread), free range eggs are only 70p per half dozen from our local shops, about half the price of supermarket ones, and in the country, like here, fresh milk from local farms is again reasonably priced in local shops.

18. Bulk buy certain items in cheaper Northern and Scandinavian supermarkets, much cheaper for decent pasta, tins of tomato's, bottled water (if you use it on days out), some cheese, although hard to tell if veggie, big cartons of yoghurt, cartons of juice, and my favourite 55% fruit jam at half the major supermarket price for red coloured jammy sugar (or 35% fruit jam in other words).

19.Cut children's hair at home, this needs a steady hand, but once you buy a pair of good scissors and they have basic- ish hair you won't look back. n.b. ignore all friends who say son looks like his hair is the shape of pudding basin. When they are young the children look adorable with pudding basin heads and they don't mind.

20. Avoid takeaways and eating out. The best way I find to resist temptation is to quickly make and easy dinner like noodles or jacket potato's or even cheese on toast.

21. Rather than buy frozen pizza, make your own, with either a quick and easy scone base, or proper dough base, much healthier, and you can easily add your favourite toppings, always mushroom and black olive in this house, with occasional bit of pepper, and frozen spinach.

22. Hang washing on line, and clothes horses rather than use dryer, since we got rid of our dryer we have saved lots of electricity, and have had to be more organised...

23. Invite your friends over for drinks, cheaper than the pub, comfortable chairs, you get to choose your own music. Note to self, hide husbands' 'Mother is a witch and she burned at the stake' punk music before next time we have drinks party, only get out if people staying too late, as makes them go home.

24. Hang out in the kitchen when using the oven, its much warmer, obviously making sure slippers are worn.

25. Use real nappies, and this bit is friend's tip, pop wipes in nappy bucket too, they can also be re-used and apparantly come out of washing machine nice and soft. Would not recommend using these for wiping noses though, even if this does save on tissues and hence give fund for coffees and cakes out.

Would be interested in hearing other ideas.....

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Shoes - is it an addiction?

Spent all night dreaming about shoes, and worrying I don't know what's even in the shops at the moment. Got a wondeful shoe fix this morning from the net, decided to just look up all my favourite shops and browse on line. There are some wonderful low heeled T-bar shoes, sort of forties styles in great colours chocolate brown, turquoise, moss etc. There are also the cutest little canvas pumps, although I think I'm too old for these, and probably too much cankle shows.

I'm not sure what the frugal answer to wanting to shoe shop is, second hand shops, and e bay won't do it, I need the latest lovely shoes. Well, the trouble is I probably don't need them, unless I start doing something more exciting that trolling playgroups and the streets with the children. I really want them. Possibly the frugal answer is to sell things of equal value then I can buy them. That way I guess I'd get rid of more junk, and only have a teensy pair of shoes in the way. But should I be buying them or paying off my credit card? I think I know the answer so in the meantime should scout around for bits and bobs to e-bay and at least make a bit of cash.

Last time I went shoe shopping I bought two pairs of shoes at once, that felt like an amazing extravagence as they were similar but they were, and are fantastic and I wear both occasionally so shoes really are an investment. Particularly now all my pre-children shoes don't fit me, I've gone up to massive size eight, so don't have much shoe choice in my wardrobe.

Of course I'd be fascinated to know what is a normal amount of shoes for a woman to have, husband thinksI have loads, but of course he is wrong.

Ok for purposes of sharing, I have;

One pair of winter boots, O'Neills sort of Ugg types that I love

One pair of brown mid heeled ankle boots, handy for smartening up trousers

One pair of Converse ankle pumps, everyday wear when its warmer

One pair of white Birkenstocks, again essential - more so since friend C found out you can wash them in machine - no washing powder though.

One pair of Havianas - again summer essentials

One pair of flat moss green pumps - handy for smart ish events

One pair of jewelled flip flops - not much use, flop off feet

One pair of encased toe green wedges - good for work etc

One pair of green sandle wedges - lovely in the summer with denim

One pair of flowery Boden wellies - great for the country, these don't count as shoes either as were a present

One pair of proper ish trainers, well used, and occasionally used at the moment.

That's not much at all is it - and its obvious what I'm missing at the moment - party shoes! Must sell some things and buy some.

Will canvas friends and see if I'm in the normal amount of shoe variety, or deprived. Think am deprived actually. But is that the addiction talking?