Tuesday, 29 April 2008

To weedkill or not...

I decided last week, that against my better judgement the only way to sort the shameful front garden was to nuke it all with spray weed killer, and start from fresh. Felt very bad about it, as as far as I know my dad, who's a good and decent sort of chap and gardener has never used chemicals. All our vegetables and fruit from the garden were naturally organic and lovely.

Then L, Mr Unorganic came over, his advice was to weed kill it with a spray. He told me that he used to multi task having a fag in his Chiswick garden with a quick spray of the weeds on his patio. This idea was reinfored in my head when I read a gardening book which said weedkill, weedkill, weedkill.

We got all ready to do the deed, but then it kept raining. After the rain stopped I looked again at the garden, it had turned in to a really lovely wild meadow of a front garden, with white daisies, poppies, bluebells, white blue bells and other things I can't name. It looks lovely, even with the weeds. So now I just can't do it, and instead resorted to the old fashioned way yesterday of just pulling out weeds that I could identify.

Photo to follow....

And any ideas on what to do next, i.e. how to get rid of all the grass/weeds without killing the flowers please?

Friday, 25 April 2008

I can see clearly now..

Today's a national holiday in tattyhouse, not only have we decided to take a day off playgroups, and coffee meetings, and going out our windows are being cleaned as we speak. Brian, the window cleaner is busy at work, and the children, have never ever seen windows being cleaned. Of course that makes us the most slovenly household in the street, imagine never having them cleaned!

Somehow getting a window cleaner has always seemed such a grown up and impossible task that lovely husband and I have never managed it in our five years of owning property. I think I once convinced Mat to clean the first floor windows of our London flat. Once!

The windows at the back of tattyhouse had never been cleaned I don't think, so am very excited about being able to see properly out of the guest bedroom, and bathroom. All this and a nice young man up a ladder!

Window cleaning will forever be a yearly holiday from this moment on..

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Slimy Thick bits of Black Mucus

The slugs are back outside, just waiting for their chance to pounce on the cat, and leap in through the cat flap.

Knitted Monsters and Missing Cases

I've been busy knitting some funky monsters, to give away as presents, and possibly to sell. I've realised that a lot of my crafty makes suffer by, well being made by me, and hence have a tendency to look a touch too home-made. As a consequence I've been really really trying to get my current monster right.

Trouble is I keep knitting whilst talking, watching telly, or looking after the children. So now I've ended up with four legs, and three arms, all slightly different lengths, and with a row or two different in their red and green stripes. It's driven me so mad now, that I'm really bored with knitting them, and really sick of stripes. Apparently this is why people follow patterns/or know how to unpick stitches. There simply must be an easier way.

Then last night we had a gigantic drama, which helped distract me from knitting again.

I'm calling it the Case of the Missing Nintendo DS.

One of our students was positive his had been lost/stolen and that he had not taken it out during the day, and even worse that he'd searched his entire room and could only blame his best friend. His best friend made matters worse by having borrowed an identical model from a friend. A very big stand off in German occurred, tears, me trying to help look in their room, and finally a call to their teacher as he was so upset. Then about two hours later, the students appear in the lounge all smiles, the Nintendo was in his case all along. Hot Bratwurst!

I let off some steam by knitting again, mistake, now have more arms, tempted to just attach the blooming things, but fed up with too handmade label have given self and am aspiring to boutique level.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Naughty Boys

Firstly can I just say a big hello and welcome to everyone who has started blogging recently, and who this little blog might have inspired. Am seriously flattered that people might enjoy this so much, and realise its just me, and normal stuff so that they start their own. So hello Hannah, Zoe, Jennie, iflutterby, Lanny Lee, Brax and everyone else. What a brilliant community of writers/diarists we're becoming in this country!

So, I'm currently mummy to four children, two of my own, and two students from Germany. The German boys are very young to be staying here with the family, they are eleven and twelve! Needless to say this is presenting its own challenges, I've yet to convince them to have a shower.

However this is only their third day here, so am sure this is not unusual for teenage boys. In addition they have admitted that we are a funny family, when quizzed about it they said nice too. But that might have been because they were scared my me and my questions. They were also very naughty yesterday. They told us over dinner they'd pushed a girl in the sea and she cried. Sadly lovely husband and I failed our first parenting of teenagers experience by laughing. But was seriously impressed with the boys teachers'. Apparently the teachers told them to tidy their room after school, then came over to check.

Probably the funniest bit of the teachers' visit was one of the boys busied himself making a friendship bracelet for wet girl which impressed them no end. Also they walked around the house, chatted etc, all with their scarily efficient looking backpacks on.

Hate to make any jokes about the efficiency...but to say the German students' tour bus comes on time everyday, so much so we could set our watches by it.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Bloggers Block

It has been the longest time since I wrote on here, I've been suffering from a kind of bloggers block whereby everything I nearly write seems trite, stupid and a bit pointless. I have resolved this in my head by the realisation that actually everything I do is a bit pointless, and in fact I have been described as pointless in the past. Think it might have had something to do with over-admiring self in the mirror or saying useless things.

But now, aha, I have this blog to write my useless things, and here they are, the things I've been worrying about but not writing about for fear of appearing a touch pointless.

1. How can I kill the front garden, without weedkiller. This was last weeks' worry, then the garden crept up on me with its annual lovely display of flowers, so now am worrying that I can't do anything to it as its wrong to kill living plants. It's kind of pretty if you blur out the weeds in a Monet esque way. Also just had a highly cool compliment from random double glazing sales person who wanted to know if our as yet unopened poppies were, in fact, Venus fly killers. Sadly I disabused him, then told him did not want any double glazing.

2. Still deeply concerned about what fabric shoes to buy this summer. I even tried on some of those teenage canvas pumps, but unfortunately I looked too old. Then tried plain white, but they were not quite right. Finally I looked at a pair of Babychams, delighted that there is a Babycham brand in the world, so would have loved them. But..they also made me look too try hard young. So now back at square one, perhaps I either don't get any or...new possibility just get some super comfy Clarks shoes, which I think are trendy. Others may just think I am appropriately dressed for my age though. Damn middle age!

3. When and whether the slugs will come back this year - it may be the case that we've solved the house slug problem but will the garden one be as gross. It puts me off walking in the garden first thing, and definitely at night time. It may also be that the slugs are just lying dormant under the house waiting for the right weather to jump up to the kitchen and steal the cat's food.

4. My hair, I accidentally went to the Wrong Hairdressers, don't ask! But it is really bad, and the layers are just basically like I'm growing out a fringe so am forced to wear clips all the time. It's really hideous, and my fault because I should not have been so frugal with the cost, as I was slightly delighted with the cost at only six pounds. But now it looks rubbish, least I have dyed it so it doesn't look like my roots are showing and rubbish. Just rubbish.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

End of the Weekend

Well the weekend is almost over, its been lovely. We've cooked, baked, seen the sea, done some shopping, lots of playing with the children and finally drank some margaritas. Quite a classically idyllic weekend really, just really really wish we had a dishwasher. With four adults and four children in the house this weekend we've really noticed the amount of washing up to be done.

I've also finished my knitted pencil case, which I love. Am delighted to report that Ol also likes it, and is very proud of me for making it, he has been showing it off for me. However, and they're always seems to be issues in prototypes to be ironed out, I've hand sewn the sides together with cotton and it looks a little, well hand made is the kindest description. Sewn by a blind seven year old with no thumbs would be the meanest. Still am in learning about crafts stage so feel can forgive self and next time remember to sew in a straight line and use a thread that actually, well matches.

Lovely husband also made something this weekend, a delicious meringue, cream, chocolate and fruit dessert that I'm highly impressed with. Honestly together we're turning in to such a pair of homebodies. I think we bored ourselves a little with our comfy cosiness and hence had to buy a bottle of tequila last night to make cocktails with. I was even tempted to do shots, but as luckily I resisted have been able to function, to a certain low level of playing only today.

Well, onwards and upwards, and looking forward to another week of holiday at home, as darling husband off work for Spring Break. Can't wait to think what ill thought of craft plans next week will bring!

Friday, 11 April 2008

New Chair

I've had my first experience of re-upholstering a chair, and I can confirm, that as preciously thought its actually quite hard. I managed and am really pleased with the way the chair (an ex-free cycled chair) looks. However I forgot to put the upholstery tacks on in an exact straight line. This would have looked much neater, and less home made. I also got a bit confused as to how to attach fabric to itself, so have to admit I invented a new technique called staple gun everything. It worked brilliantly, but sadly does not look fantastic on the visible fabric, rather a little like someone has made a chair out of sticky back plastic and staples. But woke up in the night, and suddenly remembered the answer, sewing! So I'll be getting on with that this weekend. Plus having lovely H and children up for the weekend, so will ask for her advice.

We've also managed to decorate the ex-playroom, which now looks like a lovely spare room. Again, just need to finish it off. K came up with lovely idea of framing some fabric offcuts and popping them up on the chimney breast. Might need to source some students to stay in the room too, oh, and remember not to play Sing Star after eleven is it is guaranteed to wake up the whole house. Course it is the best thing we have this year, and whole household likes nothing better than a little Papa Don't Preach, although am banning humming along from now on.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Appropriate and non-embarassing expressions of surprise/delight

I've been over using the word Crikey lately. My friend L says I must not use it anymore as I sound annoyingly posh, think I agree with him so need a new word. L uses Gosh, which as a secondary teacher he says even the cool kids use in a sort of ironic way. I partly agree with him, but definitely think both L and I are too old to be the same as the cool kids, and are in danger of being a touch too camp. ( Sorry L !).

So the search is on for a new non offensive statement of surprise. At different times in my life I've used ruder words but as I spend most of my time with children, they are absolutely wrong. I also used to use God a lot, but have decided to stop as don't actually want kids to repeat it all the time. One friend's mum uses bugger a lot, which is another tricky one, course its very appropriate at moments, but not really a little wrong when a two year old repeats it, (although not that they have yet...)

I annoy myself immensely when I say goodness, and now gosh and crikey are out, think I might just be left with one I learnt off an American in Prague, ' Hot dog!'. Failing that, I'll just go straight to Bloody Hell.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

5 Important Things to Find Out

We've had a lovely day today, I painted an old pub table light blue, in a sort of aspirational Scumble Goose way whilst lovely husband painted the skirting boards (boring boring boring) and feature chimney breast. Love the new painting, and the new room is looking like it'll be great. We've decided to amend our house (again), and have moved the playroom upstairs.

The playroom and my making things room are now combined, which surprisingly I really like. It reminds me of days gone by where the lady of the house sits sewing, with children around her feet. Or in our case, one child trying to play Playstation and kill Dr Robotnik, and the other drawing endless circles. Am suspecting there is some educational value in circles, but not sure what it is so encourage the lovely shapes in a supportive but unclear manner.

We then tried a little shopping with mother, just me and Ol. We had an absolutely lovely time spending over two hours choosing ice cream and cereal, and discussing our favourite olives and crisps. I truly think my work in producing a discerning consumer is done, well almost, apart from taste in cheap jam and biscuits. Still, saves some money off the shopping. I also bought some strong, not sure why, flour and yeast and thought in a moment of 'what can we do' this school holiday we'd maybe try making some bread.

Anyway on to my days' discoveries;
  1. There can't be any point to decaffeinated coffee, if it actually does not have caffeine in it. Why not simply have a cocoa or glass of water?
  2. If you paint a dark colour on a bumpy badly plastered wall it really really really shows up the lumps. The reverse is true for people and clothes.
  3. Dried cat food is much much cheaper in the pet shop. I can't believe I've had a cat for eight years and have only just found this out. Also the pet shop is nice and clean, and does not smell bad. They all seem to have some ears for dogs around though, on the counter in our local one's case.
  4. If you change from margarine to butter, and eat cheese when you fancy it, with occasional crisps nights you will go up a dress size.
  5. Carpet cleaner, the spray kind works miracles on dodgy dark stains on the stairs.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Guilt free blogging and knitting (almost)

I've been wondering, a bit like the characters in Me too, where the time has gone. It seems incredible that by the end of each day, despite being at home most of the day I struggle to think of non-essential tasks I've undetaken. Perhaps its just that with a house, two small children under five, home-cooking and occasionally having a coffee there just isn't enough time in the day to do much else. I seem to remember in my mother's day, the housewives kept very clean homes, played with the children, did the shopping and again, had the occasional coffee with friends.

Perhaps its just that our generation have higher expectations, I really do think I can keep a clean - ish house, look after the children, do the cooking and washing (and very occasionally my version of ironing) plus write my blog, think about writing a book, make crafts for the home, do some knitting, speak to real people occasionally, and take the children out on a variety of educational and fun activities and outings. I guess I do manage all of those things, but in a quite haphazard way, and perhaps not as often as I'd like. For example, thoughts about a book, are just that, not even written plans...

Oh, and now I need to plan out a front garden, think about border planting in the back garden, discourage cats from 'using' our garden, and make a weekly plan for dinner. Am tired out already, so think its time for a little cbeebies, oh where did the time go today?

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

The unbearable lightness of me...

I keep waking up at night, or struggling to go to sleep because I'm worrying. I'd like to say I'm pondering issues of world poverty, or even our mortgage or family but I'm afraid I'm far too trivial and pointless for that.

I've been mostly worrying about:

1. What type of canvas shoes I should buy when my Converse finally have to be binned. I want white lace ups but worry that they would make my size 8 feet look too big, and of course that within a morning they'd be covered in unmentionable yuckiness.

2. Where we should shelve our books, currently, they are in three different locations; our bedroom, the bathroom, and a few in the living room. The best shelves are in our bedroom (no can't move them, don't ask for goodness sake) but it would be nice to have some books more visible. Plus can't be bothered to dust the bedroom enough and would get bit fusty after a while. Particularly since we can't open the windows as we've yet to make darling little blinds so have madly stapled fabric on to velux windows.

3. What should be done with my last piece of knitting which was a knit one, purl one attempt but has suffered greatly from my sieve brain forgetting which one I needed to do next. Thought perhaps I might knit little mats to go on bedside tables, but then worried they might look a little, well crap, without any decoration. Also that I might be going a bit knit crazy, and house would start to resemble that of Ugly Betty's.

4. Toe varnish - both my usual stand by nail varnish's for my toes, apricot and a sort of deep blush just aren't right anymore. Am too old for black or purple so where next. Can't afford a French polish pedicure, or even ever justify it being always quite broke so where next in nail colour? Actually thinking this is the light of day, I'm wondering whether a pale rose pink or a hot turquoise might be the ones for summer, what do you think?

5. Being cold, then children/cat/students being cold.

6. Whether we drink too much.

7. That we should all eat more fruit, have to admit am only really keen on Marks and Spencer's prepared fruit salads, just never want proper fruit that involves peeling or knives. But is M&S fruit as good for you? I'd doubt it, but it is also an absolute waste of money, when you can prepare it yourself. But its nice. And my head argument goes on and on and on.

8. That the children are in the right nursery, despite them being happy, learning things and loving school, I just have to worry about this about once a week. Suspect it will always be thus, and will be worrying about this until they're in work, then will worry about that for them.

9. Ageing - big one this, and no stopping it. Do my hands look like old ladies' hands? What about my neck, and horror of horrors my feet? Also worry about my skin, is it losing its elasticity? Did it have enough? Am I getting those skin tags on my thighs (once had one on chest after having daughter, kindly doctor chopped it off but said there may be more coming..)

10. The weedy front garden. Do our neighbours dread looking it it, and think we are desperately lazy? And probably how can we make it nice, should we gravel, stone it, weed and plant it, grass it over, pave it? There are so many options it makes my head spin, and the truth is I simply don't know what the best thing to do is...what is we grass it over and the weeds all live in the grass, what if we weed it, then they all come straight back, and what plants should we plant anyway? My friend K told me her version of what she'd do, but would feel that I'd be copying if we did it, plus think it'd look a bit too sophisticated for us.