Sunday, 30 March 2008

Believe the hype

Woke up to floods of tears this morning as our first student of the year prepared to go home to Tokyo. She's an absolutely lovely girl, and spent lots of time playing with the children, and studying NME television bands, no really, it is research. We'll miss her, but husband made tactical error during teary breakfast of asking four year old Ol if he would miss her. He, of course, said no, just to be silly causing even more sadness. To his credit, he later apologised and I do think, lovely student understood he is just a bit contrary, and does really like her.

Anyway to make amends took Ol upstairs to make a very speedy goodbye card. Am bit of a control freak, like to know exactly where my things are, but horror of horrors my Pritt Stick was missing. Did not want to waste valuable five minutes hunting house for it, so decided to stick things on the card with Copydex. It works, but is amazingly sticky and messy so sent poor student off with gluey wet card. Hope she appreciates the sentiment inside.

Then as its still only about five o'clock in the morning, old time, (am rubbish at this clock changing malarkey) sat down to read a magazine in front of cbeebies. Have got amazingly excited about a new product called Sew Simple. Its a kind of glue you can stick buttons and ribbons on the material with, then wash in the machine. How wonderful, and 21st century if we no longer have to sew buttons on! Course, little bits of white glue might poke out behind buttons and may not be the loveliest look on a dark shirt for example. However, I am deeply excited and want to rush out today to buy some.

Is this all my parents fault for banning ITV and adverts on television when I was younger? What do you think, do missing out on adverts whilst young mean you are more susceptible to them as an adult? Or are some people just suckers for shiny new product and advertisment?

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Celeriac Sickness

Am loving new veggie box scheme it is great, with mostly lovely vegetables. Sadly I had a celeriac in my box again this week, its probably my most hated vegetable and, well this might be why, I have no idea what to do with it. Last weekend I took said celeriac to New Forest with me, and gave it to a friend. Can't tell you they were over the moon about it, but
I know they might give it a try.
Any takers? Or shall I cut it up very small and disguise it from myself and rest of family in a vegetable stew? 'Praps the foxes like them? Although don't really want to encourage their toilet habits in our garden. Least they might scare off the badgers though. Think in a badger versus fox battle, the badger might do it though.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Are you the knitting lady?

Went to lovely Bridge playgroup today, which keeps getting better and better. Added attraction is the building which is a true community centre with a lovely cafe that has good coffee.

Had a quick coffee and true mothers meeting before the group and was chatting to lovely local mummy who suddenly asked me if I was the knitting lady. Got terribly embarrassed but did admit have started knit night with some friends and love it! Even produced my square of lovely green knitting to show all. Square, well rectangle really is just that at the moment, but am planning to transform it in to gorgeous lined pencil case. Then perhaps make my fortune selling them at craft fairs.

We then proceeded to have a long discussion about how you knit a jumper, do you use three needles, or just two and squash up the wool. All going very well, until suddenly got a grip on ourselves and were just oh God! Then we talked about times we had drunk too much and been sick which made us feel much better and cooler and younger. Shame there is not a oh, god, I'm a mummy and drank too much ten years ago group on facebook. I'd definitely be the founder member. Oops, that means I'll have to start it off. Unlikely as need all energy for knitting projects.

Can't wait for next knit night though as is a lovely hobby, even better shared with a glass of wine and some friends!

At end of lovely playgroup after the singing a new woman introduced herself, she was very nice but horror of horrors is in the local Shore Sounds choir and wanted us to learn to sing. Is it possible? Can people learn to sing? Or am I doomed to a life of shame whilst playing Sing Star and leading Sleeping Bunnies at groups? What do you think, can someone who was one of only two children in her primary school to be barred from the choir due to sheer rubbishness at singing learn?

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Homemaker blues

I've been pondering this all day, how come a lovely, albeit usually slightly frugal life spent in domestic land, full of cleaning, childcare, playing and chatting isn't enough. And it really isn't for most of us. We are educated to expect more, and at some point endless chats about what the doggy is doing now, begin to grate on our nerves somewhat. Am utterly unsure about the answer, because when work is combined with bringing up with children, a whole range of new challenges that are less fun (sick children tops that list) rise up.

Suspect the answer in the past was a little gin in the afternoon, or if one had the money a little more nanny time.

So any ideas for new challenges to keep stay at home mummies at the top of the game and on their toes very welcome. And Ol, no this does not mean me learning how to stop you interrupting whilst I am talking.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Top Ten Ways to scent your home

It's almost the end of Easter for another year, we've still got a bit of chocolate to eat, but we've had a lovely time entertaining and being entertained. I've been experimenting with scenting the house, and have now come up with my top ten scenting tips, some work best for summer and some for chilly spring days when you're longing for the sun...

1. Fresh flowers - these need to be really fresh, not from the supermarket - unless they are the specially scented varieties. I've found this spring that the loveliest scent comes from locally grown daffodils. I'm afraid not grown by me, but my local farmers and picked up in vegetable shops. I'm amazed at the difference between these, and the supermarket flowers I used to buy, no going back to plastic wrapped and chilled now.

2. Mid range scent plug ins, the three in one kind are fantastic, and give a continually changing fragrance that freshens the whole house. These are a world away from the old fashioned gel blocks that I remember as a child, and always had a slightly artificial smell.

3. Scented candles, slightly more expensive for a gorgeous natural smell but absolutely worth it in the evenings when you add the scent to a lovely candle lit glow.

4. The smell of a freshly lit wood fire on a cold evening can't be beaten for a warm glow both inside and out. Try experimenting with different kinds of wood for different smells, and burning times.

5. Furniture polish, this is the absolute multi purpose product as it cleans your mirrors and wood, but also adds a lovely retro just cleaned scent to your home. Try lavender wood polish, or old fashioned Brasso for a just cleaned scent.

6. Your own perfume, and bath products always smell gorgeous, both on you, and in the bathroom/bedroom when you've finished using them. As an emergency freshening up measure, try a spritz of perfume in the living room/kitchen.

7. The scent of fresh herbs, why not grow some basil, mint, and oregano by your kitchen window/door. A breeze blowing over them will release their scrummy smell in to the room.

8. Freshly chopped lemons and oranges, of course I'm not suggesting you waste these, but try adding to icing sugar for delicious spring frosting, or feed the children slices and relish the lush citrus scent.

9. Real scrumpy cider, the true smell of vintage summers. Try getting some of the traditional stuff, and well, drinking it to appreciate its delicious scent and taste, oh but watch out, its stronger than you think!

10. Freshly cut grass, a perfect summers scent. Simply fling open your windows when you hear the sound of a mower, and let the grass in. Clearly not the best one if you live in an area without many gardens, or if any of your loved ones suffer from allergies. But perfect for the rest of us, roll on June.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Spicy Squash and Lentil Soup

Made some lovely spicy soup last night, which we all loved even the children. It had the added bonus of being an excellent way to use up the random squash that always appear in vegetable boxes in the autumn and winter, think they're just about out of season now. But it was great, even though I got carried away and froze half of it at lunchtime for another day, so there wasn't quite enough. Which, of course then made brie and crackers (spelt flour for me) essential, therefore negating the healthy effects of the soup.

Anyhow recipe was taken from vegetable box in London a couple of years ago, so I think courtesy of everybody organic and adapted a bit by me..

Spicy Pumpkin and Lentil Soup

One onion - finely chopped
One clove of garlic - crushed
One small red chilli - chopped
About a pint of good quality vegetable stock - try the powdered organic variety
3 or 4 ounces of red lentils, rinsed well under the tap
One pumpkin, small squash or similar - chopped
2 or 3 carrots - chopped
1 lemon
Sunflower oil

Saute the onion in a large saucepan for a few minutes, add the crushed garlic and chopped chili, and fry for another few minutes until softened.
Add the pumpkin type vegetable and carrots and pop the lid on for a few minutes.
Add the vegetable stock and lentils.
Top up with more stock if needed, to make a soup like consistency.
Cook for approximately 20 minutes until vegetables are soft.
Put soup through the blender.
Squeeze the lemon in to the soup.
Season to taste.

Serve, with some lovely crusty bread.

Hope anyone who still has any squash enjoys this, its definitely my favourite soup. Did make noodle and cabbage soup the other day which was nice, but not quite as

After all this healthy living, I went off the supermarket and bought some Easter eggs! Yay!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

About to rain again...

Feel very disorganised today, wanted to take the children to the park this afternoon to burn off some energy but...its freezing and about to rain again. This outside life isn't all its cracked up to be sometimes.

Then have not made soup with lovely vegetables, or lentil thatch (cottage pie thingy) or attempted to eat any of the two cabbages we have. Think I might make a stir fry for tea with some cabbage, and chopped up omelet. Was once in a diet book I think, so should be quite healthy. Cabbage is probably most urgent to eat, as is looking a little rough around the edges.

I've also invited about half of Hastings over to play this Friday afternoon, now sort of regretting it because if the weather is bad am not sure exactly what we might do. Lovely husband has volunteered to do read some books to them, he's actually quite entertaining at it..well, guess he would be as infant teacher. Then, thought we'd have an Easter egg hunt. 'Praps could do it upstairs in making things room if weather stays hideous. Then maybe, um, eating cakes for the rest of the afternoon. Actually just had strike of inspiration, perhaps we can do making Easter chicks. Older ones can make them out of wool and bits, and younger ones can have their parents do it.

Sometimes, I do get slightly carried away with self at how good I am at entertaining when reality is, just leave children out in garden to play, occasionally intervening if things get Bad between them. Rainy day play much trickier.

Final item on to do list is to buy Easter eggs, would like to buy healthy ish ones, with lovely little egg cups, or mugs, but of course they won't be wanted as much as sugar filled, low chocolate ones, so may as well just head off and buy some normal ones, and get a grip on self. Am not really living organic, free range simple life, just think I am in my head.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Wrong Trousers

Just got up this morning as lovely husband went to work, and was delighted to see that Ol had got himself dressed in his nursery uniform. Suspect this was after momumental argument last week, when him and his sister ate two chocolates each off the Easter decorations, then played Playstation and finally took so long to get dressed we were late for nursery. I have now banned morning Playstation, and guess it goes without saying chocolate stealing forever.

So I was really pleased he'd got dressed, without issue or time delay. Then he got up. He'd put his sisters trousers on! Same as his, but age three. They swung above his socks in a satisfying manner! And how we laughed!

Friday, 14 March 2008

Vegetable Overload

I decided to try out a new boxed vegetable scheme this week. It's not organic, but its very local, all the vegetables are picked to order from farms within ten miles of here. I'm very impressed, the vegetables are lovely and seasonal to boot. Plus there were loads of them, plenty enough for a family of four. Of course the problem is, I forgot to cancel the other vegetable box so now we have enough vegetables for a family of eight. And I've been eating so healthily lately, that I'm a little sick of vegetables.

Still am full of new found veggie enthusiasm tonight, and have decided to make a big cauliflower and broccoli cheese tomorrow for lunch, with fresh spinach on the side. Then we can have a squash, carrot and sweetcorn soup to freeze or eat on Sunday. Finally think we'll have healthy dinner of cabbage topped with veggie sausages on Monday night. Jacket potatoes with cottage cheese (for me) and beans and cheese (for the children) for weekday lunches. Might also make our favourite (really) lentil shepherds pie with lots of carrots and oh frozen peas in for Tuesday.

Course all this healthy eating will allow me to go out and have some drinks tomorrow night which I'm really looking forward to. Might even allow myself my favourite vodka and Fanta limon to drink, 'praps not in public though as is a bit teenage! Am in a sick of red wine phase at the moment though, as got a really bad headache from drinking cheap plonk a few months ago. Do think as you get older, wine does need to get better, and actually preferably organic to avoid headaches!

Oh, and search for lovely little puppy continues...we went to see a gorgeous rescue puppy last week, but he was a Staff cross, and too powerful for the children. Also worried about how little Seren would cope with a big dog, so definitely back to the starting place of needing a tiny one...that will be gentle and enjoy playing tea parties. Oh,and that isn't pedigree 'cos we can't afford it.

Get on your bike and get a job...

I've found out about a local ish, well in the same county job, that I could probably do. And it pays decent money. But the downside is its about an hours drive away, and the children would have to re-enter childcare from 8am - 6pm again. I thought long and hard about the job, and how it might be good for me to use some of my skills again, and get some confidence back. But the compromise is the children. I just couldn't do it to them again, even with the best childcare situation in the world, ten hours a day away from home/their parents is just too much when they're this little. Desperately sad the job wasn't in our town, or working from home, or even just a little less high pressured. I struggled to keep up with both family and home and work last time I worked at a good job, and just know I couldn't manage it again.

Still, reminded me of how I used to like work, and strategic thinking and well, just being part of something bigger than our little family. There are ways of improving the community/the world though I guess locally, like working on green issues, and community issues. Am actually feeling amazingly lucky to have this time at home with the children while they are small, even if its sometimes a bit lonely, occasionally a little boring, and always will mean we're a bit broke.

In fact, always a bit broke, but seriously can't even imagine how we used to spend our money pre-children when we had a little bit. Think we actually just used to be amazingly frivolous with it, so its been good to go back to frugal basics in a way. Looking forward to the summer now, when we'll have students so a little extra bit of money. Although we will have to look after them and feed is a really nice way to make a bit of money and introduce the children to people from other countries. Well, actually for them to play with the children for ages without getting bored, or maybe just being too polite to say they are bored!

Roll on summer, have had enough of wind, rain and cold this year.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Make and do easter

We, ok I admit it me really have been really busy making things the last couple of days. I did get caught up in making a giant wall of blocks at playgroup today which all went really well, until a little girl I didn't know put a block in the wrong place. Her mum caught me moving it, then her moving it back, how she laughed! Embarrassing, oh my gosh, yes, I must be the biggest control freak to try and make the children's play aesthetically pleasing.

Yesterday, however I managed to cover a little footstool without any help, which was brilliant, do love it even if I say so myself. Just need to add a couple of little embroidery flowers (can't embroider so will be patches) and it'll be perfect ish. See the photo above.

And then today, got carried away with my own children making an Easter branch tree, have blatantly copied the idea off my friend Claire. Claire, is, of course the scarf maker, and thus genuinely artistic and graceful. Our effort rather less so, but am hoping it epitomises Easter in a sort of new growth, and cute things and chocolate way. What do you think?

Monday, 10 March 2008

50's Housewifery revisited

Found this updated guide to being a good wife on the funny msn life and style blog...
Was scared by comparisons to my life, and that of other stay at home mummies who need to save a few bob to 1955 housewife so have added own 2008 Homemaker to list..

1955: Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return.
2008: Go to the supermarket together and choose a load of your favourite meals to cook at home. Order take out at least once a week.
2008 Homemaker: Have dinner ready, you'll have done online shopping, so as to avoid shopping together in precious weekend 'leisure' time, or doing it on your own whilst herding your sheep, sorry children.

1955: Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking.
2008: Know that you are gorgeous and don't put yourself down, he loves you just the way you are.
2008 Homemaker: Scrub baby sick off your shoulder before leaving the house, and remember to look in the mirror occasionally, not just when husband due home.

1955: Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
2008: Make sure you both take time out to relax together and do things you both love doing.
2008 Homemaker: Throw children at him, with idea of educational game they should play, then dash upstairs to enjoy quiet glass of wine and blogging/magazine reading/making unspecific things.

1955: Your goal: try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquillity where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.
2008: His goal: make sure you share the housework chores as otherwise resentment will build. Better still, if you can afford it, get some help around the house.
2008 Homemaker: Sneak lovely air freshners in the house, so it smells lovely, do housework when absolutely necessary, and try and get lots of things made of Laura Ashley or Kath Kidston fabric from ebay. Not sure why, as mostly men not keen. Impresses women friends though.

1955: Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.
2008: Do lots of social things together, entertaining, going out for meals and getting dressed up. If he stays out all night regularly, consider divorce.
2008 Homemaker: Relish a night off proper family dinner, get a DVD and have night in front of Sound of Music, Grease or High School Musical with pizza. If happens too often, do worry, and discuss with friends over coffees and cake before taking action.

Time to Hole up in the House

The storm of the winter has hit the UK today, our house is feeling the power of the wind, and wobbling a bit at the top. Keep wondering how much we should worry about the wobble in the attic, but am sure its fine, those Victorian builders must have had a special technique to shore the top floor against sea winds. Do not tell me any different please, as then it would mean that out house is considering breaking, and that is a worry of a whole different level.

Been chatting to my friend Claire, about her new website, and her lovely handmade scarves. Am loving her bags the absolute most, but do actually have quite a serious bag fetish which I control on a low level. Website address is if you want to check out the scarves, bags and jewellery. She's a proper designer, which is lovely, and even better I am not intimidated by her gorgeous gear, which is amazing in its own right.

We might have to brave the wind and rain later to go out, rainy day activities will have to be invented and executed in this house. No not, the potato people again!

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Down from London

I'm currently feeling really insecure about my DFL status in town. Not sure how derogatory a term it is to us, DFL's, or how long (for ever?) I will be one. Suspect it may be until I never leave Hastings, and only speak of the town in a glowing light, sort of ignoring or brushing over any negative bits. Course, will never manage that, as have to talk about everything good and bad, so perhaps will be an eternal DFL.

The other thing that bothers me about the DFL category is it just would never happen in London. The best aspect of London for lots of Londoners, is the gathering of people from across the country and the world, who form lots of little communities where it doesn't matter where you came from, just where you are now. The opposite seems to be true outside London, it desperately matters where you come from, and how you can fit in to the existing community.
Any advice/answers to this self fulfilling state would be very much appreciated. Also any ideas on how I can stop my funny city thinking being very humourous to all locals.

And one final note, all DFL's have chosen to reside in another town, so even if settling in can be difficult, the new town is almost always a better place to be than London. I really do like Hastings a lot, the beach, the country park, the old town, the houses, Warrior new friends.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Eurovision here we come....

I'm currently getting very excited about Eurovision, and am planning to have a party. Have not done anything towards organising it, but definitely plan to send themed invitations, and do some decorating. Have been trying to think of Euro food too, bit stuck as it'll probably end up being mostly Eastern European countries in the final again, and not very familiar with food. Well, truth is I did spend four months studying in Prague some time ago, but as a vegetarian I really did mostly eat fried cheese and potatoes, supplemented by the occasional salad from the American cafes. I'm sure Prague has modernised heaps by now, so would not be so tricky, I did put on about two stone though. Course drinking beer everyday could not have helped the weight situation.

Oooh, have just had wonderful idea, Euro drinks! We could have vodka, of course, bison grass vodka - which is delicious with apple juice, Becherovka, which is Czech for a health drink. No promises about the taste, but it is good stuff, and I've even been to the factory in Carlovy Vary, the teacher that took us there got totally blotto on it, and made the coach driver wait for him. If I remember rightly he tried to start a sing song on the way home, but of course a coach load of foreigners did not know the words! There's also absinthe, which is wonderfully European, but only time I drank it, a bunch of us woke up in a hall lying on top of each other, which was a bit squashy. Plus don't know why we decided to do that, so not very responsible drinking. I know the Finns drink black vodka, but not sure about the Danes or Swedes, or in fact former Cold Block countries. Any ideas very welcome!

Sadly lovely husband is away that weekend, so I will have to be Responsible Adult, he's disappointingly not very sad to be missing Eurovision at all though! Can't believe he's watched it with me for every year for last 12 years, and is not deeply concerned to miss it. Perhaps it is truly an acquired taste.

Oh, and have decided to stop moaning about contestants on Song for Europe, and just be glad that Andy Abrahams can actually sing, not convinced about his dancing, and is not very Euro pop, but you never know, votes might actually be about how good the tune is...perhaps we can persuade the rest of Europe he's actually from the Eastern bloc. Or just be very nice to all Europeans we meet between now and end of May so they love us again.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Potty time

Currently in middle of potty training our daughter, we know we left it too late because yesterday she eloquently told her daddy that she would rather have a nappy on as it is easier. Still, has been at least a couple of accidents a day, which do upset her, I'm still counting on a full week and it'll be finished though.

Feeling very tired today, as children woke up a half five again and we managed to squeeze all four of us in a small ish double bed. Trying to sleep while someone plays with your hair, scrapes their toe nails down your shins, and has a fight with their sibling is not easy, and I failed at it today. Did manage to have a night without telly yesterday which was lovely, seriously if it was just me I could get rid of the telly, and just watch Holby City and Eurovision. Could probably watch them on the computer... have already told husband we're not watching telly tonight, am absolutely sick to death of home improvement programmes. Particularly as we just watch them instead of actually improving our home.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Hello London

Went back up to London yesterday to visit friends, had a lovely time and now feel all nostalgic for our old home. Saw my friends Hannah and Kay and their lovely children. Was especially keen to see little Kitty, who I've now known since she was a baby, she's a big walking talking bundle of cuteness, ok, slightly dramatic too, but fab.

Think the thing we all missed the most, apart from our friends that is, is the community cafe. As soon as Horizon in Leytonstone opened the community gathered there, and ate delicious cakes, bagels and lovely coffee. They even remembered how customers had their coffee, which is a fine thing indeed. Have now decided that is what Hastings is missing the most, a decent coffee shop, where we can all meet up after the school run, or go for lunch.

There are a couple of lovely ones in town, but they're too far from most local schools to be true, post school run meeting places. Play dates were arranged in the cafe in Leytonstone, nights out, children's education put to rights, power walking sorted out, and most importantly it gave lots of us the chance to meet up with each other, and with the other members of the community in a relaxed setting. We loved that coffee shop.

Unfortunately we've got a serious problem in Hastings, whereby a new local cafe is about to open up, called the Muts Nuts (spelt wrong). However that's not the problem, they have a British Bulldog emblem, with a Union Jack behind it. It must be racist mustn't it? What a shame though.