Thursday, 29 November 2007
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?
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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...
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
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 it...so 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...
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
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
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?
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
Went shoe shopping on the weekend for the children, could not get any shoes in their size (apart from flashing trainers which do not count) in first shop, finally managed to buy some we all agreed on in last shop, although when husband tried to have an opinion did tell him to shut up, as couldn't cope with any more democracy in the family. Think he was bit offended, still avoided the shoe equivalent of dodgy pubs (sorry Mat).
Then today saw some clogs in a shop I quite liked, but worried that I just liked them because I haven't seen any decent shoes for ages, and would, as friend H put it; ' Go off them in London because they aren't properly trendy, you just think they are out of shopping deprivation'. Worried if I need a new outfit around Christmas, well I do, but can I afford it? Rather than skulk about primark and matalan and try and create a funky but somehow expensive looking outfit by sheer familiarsation with the stock. But here...there's just the lower end of the market and several next shops, which a local told me I look like I shop in as I'm posh (shamefully rather than being a bit embarassed at being told I was posh was more like shock horror I look like I shop in that horrid shop).
And the cheaper shops, just look well, cheap when they're not bang up to date, but full of nylon and bad seams. The alternative is to go in to town, or Bluewater, trouble is there is no way I can bring self and credit card in those locations without serious damage.
When people talk about downshifting maybe they all know the fact that there's nothing to buy means that you stick to your budget, but also look like an out of date country girl. I even found myself lusting after one of those sleeveless padded vest things the other day, thought it'd be handy nipping in and out of car. Please someone warn me if I ever buy anything in bottle green, wellies, coat or anything, that I used to be cool once...
When I had just one child I just about managed to work three days a week, but truthfully was not managing either my workload or family life as well as I'd have wanted, so I felt obliged to up my work hours to four days. Then I felt out of touch with my baby community, and with doing things with my son, our Friday afternoons were more about the girls chatting then watching our lovelies.
I'd leave Ollie at nursery at eight, then rush to work in an hour of traffic usually to get their for nine. Work through the day, never stopping for lunch, then rush home at five, be in an hour of aggressive traffic (this was through Tottenham, North London), get to the nursery to find son sitting in a corner sucking his thumb. We'd then get home, make a quick dinner, and son would be in bed by seven. And start again the next day. I felt like a clock watcher at work for never putting in the extra hours, and just sad because I wanted to bring up my son, not nineteen year old girls.
It got even harder when I had my second child, after a traumatic birth, difficult first few months - settling down as a four person family, I planned an au pair to look after children. The one I employed despite seeming nice and coming with good references simply could not cope alone with them - I do now its not easy. Then I planned a child minder, again with good references, and set a date to return to work. The child minder could not start for a couple of weeks so my mother in law came over to look after children. The day before my return to work my daughter became very ill with a stomach bug. I could not leave her, and postponed returning to work for a week. She got better through the week, but mother in law caught it and got ill.
After over ten years of living in London, I'd managed to almost avoid crime, my luck ran out that week. According to the police this was because I was vulnerable with two babies, this was hard for me to accept, as I've always prided myself on being strong and tough, and never thought of my self as as a target.
I walked with the children in their buggy through an unfamiliar area on the way from a local eye test to playgroup. This area took me through an estate which definitely had an aura of unwelcome and frankly scariness about it. I think I was then followed up to the high street, and when I got to the Baptist church, to enter the playgroup, two men with balaclavas on rode up to me on bikes, grabbed my bag and started to cycle off. I was so shocked I was shouting that's my bag and give it back. My son saw the whole thing.
The police came quickly, and were very supportive, as were all my friends at the group, who took the children off and looked after them. The biggest problem was not money, I didn't have any, or my cards, I cancelled them, or even my phone, which I again cancelled. It was my car keys which have a bleep y lock on, and the brand of the car, and my house keys. The police dispatched some officers to look after my flat straight away, and my mother in law, who was inside. She was so ill I don't think she totally realised how scary it could have been, which was a relief really.
After the shock, the worst was to come, when my car was taken by RAC on behalf of Norwich Union to have the locks changed. It was crashed in to, and lost by them while they had it, and I love my car, it felt like it had been violated.
I had to try and get to the bottom of new cards, hire car, new car seats for the children, new phone, an also deal with my feelings whilst back at work. It was really really hard, in retrospect I did do some good pieces of work in my three months back, but it came at an emotional cost. At the same time I had the child minder calling me and saying that my daughter was crying and would not settle every day by at least three in the afternoon.
I felt I'd gone from a strong, capable career minded single woman to a sort of neurotic worrier with numerous problems, and to cap it all before I'd gone back to work the Chief Executive had made a point of getting my boss to ask me whether I was serious about going back, or just wanted a little three month project, to avoid paying back my maternity leave. I also felt, and it was suggested to me that unless I did at least a four day week then I would not be taken seriously at my grade.
Here I was insulted at all that, and yet unable to cope in the little three month project I'd ended up going in to. I gave my notice in after a month, but rather then being the wonderful life enhancing decision it should have been I cried. I can see now that this was because I simply could not make any other decision, therefore I hadn't come to terms with it. I cried when I told the childminder I was leaving work, and knew then it would be tough.
That all said, the children have thrived since I left, largely we've eaten better, been healthier and the house is much more of a home then ever before. Apart from the financial side, which we always knew would be tough its worked really well. But the toll on me has been great, don't have the ability to think analytically any more, can't read complex articles and books, not sure I will ever, or in fact could ever get back on the career ladder again, and have forgotten who I am.
I keep wondering what the answers are, and thinking about literature and art that is about staying at home wives. I keep coming back to the song ' Mothers little helper', forgotten artist but written about tranquilisers, and to Hannah Gavron's seminal book about women trapped in a council estate; ' The Captive Wife'. Then I think about all the mothers I knew in the seventies with their obsessions with cleaning rota's ,and perfect houses, and knowing which day you had which dish for dinner. I think even Ann Oakley wrote and researched ' Housewife' when she was in this phase of her life.
I'm struggling to find positive stories about about stay at home mummies, I seem to remember a swathe of mummy chick lit books, have to admit they all seem to blend in to one in the end. The only happy endings I can think of entail the mummy finding a project, a shop to manage, a business; hotel etc to run.
Then there are the examples of the perfect yummy mummies, Paula Yates was one, and Jools Oliver today's. Paula Yates was clearly a great mummy when her children were little, full of fun, creative ideas and love. But was the effort she put in to this too great, so that when she escaped she went too far? What about Jools Oliver, she has nannies, and now her own writing projects, and no doubt others too, and she publicly talks about the loneliness of being on her own with the children most of the time.
The feminist ideas from the seventies of living in co-operatives, or communes and everyone being responsible for the children come to mind, or of good accessible childcare being open long hours. Before I had children I thought these were great, and would enable women to continue to be themselves. I also though making anything accessible to women and children just meant running a creche. Now as a normal anxious mother I can imagine so many horror examples of these, I know they are not the answer, although they may help.
Truthfully the only 2007 thinking around enabling mothers (or fathers with childcare responsibility) seems to be with the New Right' s subtle push on single parents to get them back to work. Even then though this is just focused on childcare, and not on all the many and varied emotions that parents go through.
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
I'm reminded of 'Suth' the student house where I not only met husband but some amazing friends. First year I stayed there I had an upstairs bedroom which was freezing, both because of there being no central heating and also because the window used to blow open in the middle of the night. For a while I had my bed under the window, luckily I was usually drunk as quite often woke up wet and in gale from open window. It was a great window though, could get out of it, and sit on roof, and make rude comments on people below.
Found out the year later that there had been something like 12 chinese men killed in that room in massacre, apparantly an axe was used and the landlord got property cheap as he had to scrub the blood of the walls. Weirdly I wasn't scared of the room, or the house, unlike my friend L's house. L managed to convince all the girls once that Mr Tickle was lurking outside the lounge window scratching on it. They also had a slug problem in their kitchen, and had someone murdered with a paving slab outside their house.
These are the reasons I've picked to live in suburbia I think.
Monday, 12 November 2007
Think this is government policy to give out to all older people this winter. Have to admit was bit jealous, really fancy using £2oo worth of heating just for hell of it. Don't really like wearing slippers and jumpers in the house. Can't remember ever putting one on indoors in London. I asked a mummy at pre-school today how much colder it gets here, she laughed and said much, and that we have snow as we are up the hill. Warmer in town centre with no snow, ? cos seaside air has salt in it and that melts the snow? Not positive that is reason, but colder! What if we have to drink hot drinks to keep warm and buy these blanket things I saw in a catalogue which you put over you to watch tv that have a special front pocket for glasses (sadly reading not wine), or a remote control. Oooh just had better idea, we can just take up drinking whisky or hot rum.
But back to the post office, weirdly it had totally swopped clientele and length of queue with the bank. Everyone in the post office was in their thirties or forties, bar the staff, who are very nice anyway. And everyone seemed to be posting things they had sold on e-bay. Seriously weird. Sometimes I think I am living a total parallel life to all other thirty something's with children. There was another me with a baby in there, although she was braver than I am with the posting of stuff, and managed Finland! I just tell ebay potential purchasers that I don't do abroad. Seems terribly xenophobic now thinking about it, and also rather lazy, why don't I? Could just make up postage costs as woman in post office admitted to doing. Luckily she erred on her side today.
Bumped directly in to Nursery school teacher, who said goodness you're all up early, and looked at daughter eating sweetie necklace for breakfast. Not only do we shop in our pyjamas, at least one of us eats sweets for breakfast.
2. A few weeks ago daughter and I got caught in massive downpour on way to Nursery. I had pack a mac on and was dry. Had forgotten buggy cover and daughter's coat got drenched through. She was crying and even her nappy had got wet. Nursery felt so sorry for her they lent her clothes. But I was ok.
3. At parents evening the teacher was in the middle of explaining how son has difficulties in stopping talking and let others talk. Whilst she was talking I half put my hand up, palm facing her, and interrupted her by saying don't you ever do this? Shocked face, she said no, talk to the hand is a bit rude. I was no no no, I meant put their hands up. Too late though as had already interrupted her.
4. Last week went to pick up son in new coat. One of the teachers admired it, and I admitted it was new. She then looked at daughter who was just wearing a thin jumper and asked her if she was a bit cold. The shame. I explained we had at least come in the car, but why did I put my coat on and not hers? Bad me.
Sunday, 11 November 2007
Never knew suburbia was so hard. Will have to make best front garden in street just to make up. Trouble is husband broke all garden tools last week when digging, seriously broke the spade, fork and a hoe thing. Also I saw a big arch enemy out there this week, a very hairy spider which moved very quickly. The moving ones are the worst, am sort of getting immune to the still ones in the corners. Please don't tell me they move when I'm not looking, have decided they like to live very still, sort of to not be noticed so they can catch things.
Friend from Bexhill had a rat in her kitchen bin last week, she just shut the lid and went to work. That's braver than me, although in some ways bit ineffective as a treatment as rat was still in bin later on. She did not know where it came from and she is in a new apartment. The creatures of the outside world come to all of us, no matter what sort of plaster you have on the walls.
Also loving old Coupling we sky plus'd - the lines are great. Been trying to ponder who is Jeff in my life - don't think we have one - shame!
Saturday, 10 November 2007
Would love to share some great craft ideas for autumnal activities but seem a bit stuck at present. Instead decided to make and freeze some easy veggie sausage rolls, they look great, and always go down really well whenever we have a bit of a party or get together. The best thing is the recipe, and how simple it is.
Easy veggie sausage rolls
1 pack ready made puff pastry
150g pack sosmix
half a red onion - finely chopped
bit of vegetable oil
a little milk
Take the puff pastry out of the fridge about 15 minutes prior to using
Heat the oven to about Gas Mark 6
Oil a baking tray
Make the sosmix according to packet instructions and leave stand for about ten minutes meanwhile...
Fry the red onion in some vegetable oil until soft - about five minutes
Mix the onion in to the sosmix
Roll out the pastry to about 3cm thickness
Put a sausage shape in to the pastry, roll it up, then cut it in to bite sized chunky pieces
Score 2 or 3 lines on top of sos rolls
Brush milk on to sos rolls
Sprinkle poppy seeds on to about half (allowing for people who don't like seeds, aka some children
Put sos rolls on baking tray in oven
Check after about 15 -20 minutes
When golden brown take out of oven, leave a couple of minutes, take off baking tray to cool
Ready to eat hot or cold.
If freezing them to eat later put uncoolked sos rolls on tray in freezer, when frozen pop in freezer bags. Pop back on a greased tray when needed and in pre-heated oven.
I promise you they will go down amazingly well with veggie's and non-veggie's alike.
My other favourite easy buffet ideas are to make a big pot of vegetable soup, have some posh -ish bread ready to have with it, and a selection of cheeses. This is ideal for winter suppers, and can be again prepared in advance and frozen.
I might also make some easy cheese sticks, and some savoury swizzlers, even easier then the sausage roll recipe - just puff pastry strips brushed with marmite and ketchup, twisted up, then cooked in the oven. Can't believe how much I like them for how not healthy they are. I think this winter I'm going to continue to try to make hummus, it never quite works for me, usually just too oily, or too much tahini, or I don't know just not right.
Friday, 9 November 2007
Feeling really stressed today as have two big things on, one involving a trip to Eastbourne, which although local - ish still feels a long way away as trafic always a bit of a nightmare. It also involves me leaving baby Jem with a friend, which is quite new to us. Totally trust my friend but still worried that Jem might have total meltdown as she used to when little. One time we left her for no more than ten minutes with her grandfather. She was just crawling, and just wept and crawled around every room in our flat to look for us. Finally she accepted we weren't there, and grandfather was in charge. Apparantly then she just sat sobbing on his lap.
Very traumatic for both of us, course why I have to remind myself of that today is annoying. She's over two, and it will just be for the morning. Trouble is Jem spent one night away from me when she was born in NICU and has made up for it ever since by being velcro'd to be side (the velcro easily comes off when she wants to play!).
Anyway this afternoon should be loads more fun - we're going to a bouncy castle that makes music, not totally sure what to expect but kids exited about the thought.
Did not get around to making a garden wreath yesterday, watched a film instead with children, drank some lemonade, ate revels and pizza. It was really lovely to totally relax with them, usually too busy trying to get everyone to use cutlery and make a sort -of healthy meal which we eat around the table. Sometimes being 'proper family' and trying to bring them up well is too hard and frankly not a lot of fun.
Thursday, 8 November 2007
Popped in to see friend around the corner, who (also) has damp. She's going to DIY tackle it this weekend, fantastic if they can do it as itll save an absolute fortune. I'm still a little mystified by damp really, how come it sometimes dries out? And why do some people say you can sort it ourself by injecting walls etc, and others that is takes specialists who you pay thousands for? Basically think this is like my Chemistry GCSE conundrum that I never got passed, why do we say water boils at 100% when it NEVER HAS.
Had really weird dream last night involving Colin and Justin, decorating guru's from the telly - it either means I've been watching too much telly, or that I fancy them. Can't believe the latter although they are very nice people so think its time to turn off the telly. In fact I always imagined we would be more of a hippy family who played board games and piano and did not have a telly. Instead the children can sing adverts to us, and I kind of adore my sky plus.
Jobs for today, unfun ones are cleaning the bathroom, [hoovering, and tidying in advance of this afternoon when we've got a new language school coming over to see us. We hosted students a couple of times in the summer, largely it went well, although the last one was not a success at all.
Then I thought I might get some creative inspiration and try and make a seasonal wreath - with found objects. Apparantly you can whip one up with an old coat hanger, some ivy and adornments. Not sure about the adornments or how to fix without florist wire (where does that come from? do you beg florists for it?), anyway have not got any.
Will take a photo and publish if successful...
Wednesday, 7 November 2007
Great, that and washing a bucket of smelly cloth nappies is my fun for this morning, oh and of course waiting for the washing machine repair person to make our washing machine quieter (yes it is an actual fault). Course ringing the company and telling them it was too noisy was about as silly as the time I rang the plumber and told him sometimes I thought the kitchen sink smelled a bit.
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
This weekend we decided to do our lounge floor using the new philosophy...rather than hiring a sander, or buying a carpet or in fact decent wood flooring we decided to use what we had...anything would be better than the bare floor boards in different colours we had before!
We used old white emulsion as an undercoat, then a tin of white floor paint we'd bought ages ago over the top. In my mind now it looks quirky East London, (Hoxton rather than Leyton), with a lovely seaside feel. And it so has the wow factor, everyone who has entered says wow, some in an enthusiastic designer y way, others in a wow, you are a bit weird way...
Either way I love it!
Why do we talk sometimes when we should say nothing. Or is it just me?
Got a bit too much on this week, and starting to feel over whelmed by it, nothing I can really cancel either so just have to try and do it. Had sympathy with man in Eastenders last night who took a tranquiliser to cope (with his mum) although I'd like a sort of week long one really.
Monday, 5 November 2007
Have decided we, or I need some beauty at least once a week, up here at the top of the hill, we're not appreciating the beach or the sea, or even just the gorgousness of Hastings old town. It's definitely the way to keep sane.
Mind you have woken up this morning quite down, even though have lots planned for this week, think its just hard really.
Thursday, 1 November 2007
Bit tough this time of year, or just generally at the moment for me to get motivated. So much we could be doing. Still I think its probably true that your body tells you to slow down when it needs to. What I really need is a long lazy weekend in bed, course what I'll get is a weekend of housework, running round after kids, and attempting some DIY stuff.
Real fire turning in to bit too much of a mission too, means going wood hunting at the weekend, and partner chopping lots of wood. Also apparantly means we need a bigger axe, which just scares me because if we had an accident with it, it would be so much more serious. Probably just bit over paranoia but keep hearing absolutely terrible stories about people nearly cutting their arms off with chainsaws and having to hold their arms on, and walking for miles, and losing lots of blood. Think they must all live in the country so maybe these things don't happen in town.