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.