Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Snow memories

The snow is being rained away as I type so here are my memories ..

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Parsnip surprise

Here's one I dug up earlier.
I also found lots and lot of Jerusalem artichokes ('nasty little piggies' as my brother and I once christened them after having to eat them), some brussel sprouts disappointingly the size of raisins and all the beans coming up - remember I am testing the planting times of my broad beans ... the ones in at the moment should be resistant to blackfly.
We visited the optometrist today for Scarlett's follow-up eye appointment - we are not free of the eye patches just yet but the end is perhaps a little nearer?
Must go - Christmas cards to write.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

I have found a moment

Scarlett is asleep, my coffee is warm, I need a break from jobs.
We were all up early this morning so I am half way through the housework already. I braved the downpour to trim back the wisteria (a job that has been on my to-do list for the last six weeks), I've planted the crocus bulbs that I was given in November, and I have primed one set of the new shelves in the sitting room.
Moments sometimes slip through your fingers ... Scarlett is awake ... but the sun has come out.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

40 not out ...

... but only just surfacing after numerous viruses hit our little home.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Not more Children's TV ...

Scarlett has flu - we cannot say if it is the pig variety but it is pretty nasty. I am hoping today is a Calpol free day as her temperature seems to have come down (according to my hand-on-forehead temperature reading), either way Day 5 looks like another day in pyjamas with no visitors and no journeys.
I am a little 'up to here' with CBeebies so today I am going to try Nickelodeon Junior (although she has just gone back to bed, having only been up for an hour so maybe I can have some Radio 5 after all).
I did manage two lovely lovely nights away with my friends in Aldeburgh but was collected on Sunday night as Scarlett was too poorly for us to have our little family evening together.
My birthday looms ever closer but I am trying to press ahead with a few little get togethers. I suppose Dan and I could eat 15 cupcakes if we had to?
My Nanny fell last week and broke her hip in three places but they have operated (she is 97) and now they are giving her physio to get her walking so that she can leave hospital and go home.
She is amazing, our very own Super Gran (now that was a programme that didn't drive me nuts).

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Getting dirty on a sunny day

Look at those filthy fingers and see the muddy knees - I have been planting beans this morning and this little person has been trailing me, picking them out of the soil.
All the green tomatoes left on the sagging vines - those that hadn't been turned into chutney - were then picked (with lots of grunting) before she carried these two back to the pram and placed them in her treat pot (fear not, I removed them before they were nibbled).
A busy morning indeed and, as I type, I am pleased to report she has been asleep for 90 minutes.

So, bean planting ... we have planted some broad beans following the folklore that if you plant them around 5 November they will be more resistant to blackfly and less likely to get blight. However, as all my books say plant them in Spring, I am doing a little experiment with half now and half then. I also finished planting the green manure (winter beans) in a couple more beds.
I am definitely more organised this year so the allotment actually looks quite good with most of the beds weeded and our big patch of burgundy chrysanthemums just coming into bloom.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Packing it all in

There is just so much going on at the moment, I can scarcely believe I was feeling a bit bored not so long ago. I am working more and for longer (I even dipped my toe in the swirling waters of pet behaviour counselling for the first time in 27 months) and tomorrow I start an Open University course: Writing Essays. Ideally I'd like to study for an English Language and Literature degree but I am starting with a short course to see if I can fit it all in (I've even made a timetable). Three times this week though I have sat down with my course book only for Scarlett to wake up, the phone to ring .... maybe I will look back at this and just see it as a great excuse for new stationary?
Excitingly I have also had a bit of a social life with a really good friend staying last night, friends over for supper tomorrow night and being whisked away by more friends in two weeks time as the following weekend I will be 40.
There, I've said it out loud.
Can I just go to a health farm instead?

We had some wonderful news last week - Scarlett's lazy eye has improved dramatically with the patches. So much so that we are now just patching until December and then it will all be over (she gets to keep the cute glasses though).

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Six have a really good week in Derbyshire

We have just returned from a week in a cottage in Eyam, Derbyshire with another family. I have only visited Derbyshire once before, and it was quite fleeting, so this was my chance to stay, explore and be overwhelmed.
I now realise Derbyshire is how I picture England when I am away - rolling hills, sheep, large skies, stone walls and little pockets of trees as well as the green, oh so green.

Bakewell ducks

Chatsworth House

Al fresco noodles

Checking the cricket score
PS the blanket is nearly finished, I just have to complete the edging. I will post some photos before I send it to Macmillan.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Being left with a good thing

A few weeks ago my friends and I got together to knit some squares to make a blanket for a cancer patient as part of the Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning. It was a lovely way to spend a day (and a great way to use up odds and ends of wool) but I have to admit I have been feeling a little fed up that not only do I need to sew all 40 of the squares together but, as we were a few shy of 40, I have been knitting square after square after square each evening.

Today I got all the squares out and laid them on the table ...

... and I came over all proud. We have done a really nice thing and, once it is finished, I hope it will keep someone nice and toasty. It was knitted with love and kindness in mind and that is what I hope it brings to its new owner.

Along the way I have learned a (relatively) quick way to join the squares using crochet. You can read the technical stuff here but this is how it looks -

I haven't updated on my weight loss lately - 11 pounds gone. It feels sooo good!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Seasonally affected

a) Woke up to power cut, not a problem but then power went off once more when I was making a much needed cup of tea which was a little annoying - however my friend's house alarm went off when the power did and it took him 15 minutes to stop it. This was at 4am, so can't really complain.
b) We are trying to go out for breakfast on Tuesday mornings so we braved the rain to try this new (independent) cafe that my friends were raving about. Apparently they don't serve breakfast (even though they are open at 8.30am) and the scrambled eggs that I had heard were so nice she only makes for friends .... honestly, that is what she said. So, we were damp and very hungry at 9.30am.
c) I got drenched walking home. So wet I had to strip off in the hallway. Scarlett was wet from the knees down as I have no idea where the cover is for her pram. Any bit of me that was dry soon became sodden when I decided to grab our cat who was sitting hunched up in next door's lavendar. Obviously I did this before I stripped off. The cat, incidentally, ran out of the door back into the rain.
d) All I want to do is eat stodge, even though I am not hungry. I am not eating anymore calories than I am supposed to have but I am not losing weight like I was. So I think this might be a kickback - although it could just be that it is suddenly cold and my body wants to get ready for the change of season.
e) I would quite like to have been pregnant this month (yes, that feeling suprised me too).
f) I had planned to meet my friend for tea, without Scarlett, but I spent so long sorting out Scarlett's clothes and bedroom that I didn't leave enough time to go and get back before Dan went to work so I accidentally enforced a very long day at home with a lunatic daughter who seems to think throwing herself off the furniture is hilarious whilst it has poured with rain.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Up to my armpits in flour and dirt (but not at the same time)

There was a moment today when I thought I felt bored. The moment came after a really busy morning. Firstly the three of us went for a very nice breakfast at Couture (where I came over all wistful about education and pondered going back to college), then Scarlett and I fed the ducks and wandered around Christchurch Park with Mum and Archie. Once home, with Scarlett napping, I thought I would explore the idea of (more) education but was thwarted at the first hurdle - subject - so gave up, felt cross and then diagnosed bored as a long afternoon of very little stretched ahead of me.

Thankfully a little voice in my head reminded me 'only the boring get bored', just in the nick of time. As it was a really lovely day today we headed off to the allotment to check in on the desert landscape.

I love squash so am very excited about this little fellow (and his two small friends).

After we were both covered in dust, dry grass and green algae (from the water trough) along with a thistle scratch or two we headed home to do a spot of baking.

I just love my elderly Good HouseKeeping book. It belonged to my grandfather, so is highly sentimental, but it also offers up the simplest, easiest and (most importantly) reliable recipes.

I'm not going to bang on about the delights of kneading dough or the wonders of seeing your doughy dumplings turn into scones and rolls as I have found a lovely quote that says it all (see below) but look at my rolls proving in the summer sun - all that growth in just ten minutes.

Today I truly embraced being a stay-at-home Mum, perhaps for the first time, and although there was paid work to be done, I found peace in some dough, a baby squash and rolling around on the carpet tickling my little girl.

“Breadbaking is one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells...there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.”M. F. K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

Friday, 4 September 2009

Breathing space

We need a holiday.
I need time to reflect, Dan needs time to think.
We need a change of scene, a break from routine and a chance to appreciate what we have.
I need time to focus on the big things, Dan needs to realise he can't always change them.
Most of all we need time together as a family.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

My niece is here!

Darcy arrived yesterday morning; 6lb 14oz and 51 cm long. Just so cute xx

Friday, 21 August 2009

No more tulips!

This was going to be my first job when we moved into our Victorian-but-made-to-look-modern home three years ago but other, more pressing, jobs and life changing events came along. However, when I realised that people probably thought I liked our little stained glass flowers I decided they needed to go. So much more light!
I can't imagine we will ever afford to have wooden sashes back but we are now wondering whether to have just plain glass in each window - the faux leading is just so not us.
We were back at the hospital this week to have Scarlett's eyes checked - her eye is no better so they have recommended a patch on the good eye for two hours a day over the next two months. It is traumatic. She really can't see out of that eye so becomes distressed and claws at her face like a mad thing. We managed five minutes today with CBeebies as a distraction but, perhaps as a consequence, she has become hyper-sensitive to her glasses which are now more off than on.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Just so much to catch up on

Where have I been and what have I been doing?
Well nothing much, but I haven't been feeling very creative or vocal so I have been to ground for a bit but hey, I'm back (just in time to mention my wedding anniversary tomorrow - five years!)

I had to admit defeat on the bread basket, look at how awful the base is. That would never lie flat. Just so disappointed.

Instead, I have created my very own vase (well, it's an empty jam jar with a crocheted cover) that I will try to photograph before I give it to it's rightful owner.

Scarlett (aka The Loon) is so much fun I can't wait for her to wake up in the mornings - yes honestly. She is chatting away: 'that one', 'veef' (teeth), 'no' (nose) as well as the continual chant of 'dooooh' (dog). Sometimes she makes me laugh so much I think I might forget to breathe. Sometimes I can't believe we have made someone so cute and lovely. Sometimes I look at her and just want to cry.

She's such a little character; she likes nothing more than sitting in a corner reading her books whilst wearing a hat ..

The allotment is keeping us busy and happy. For supper tonight I made a ratatouille using courgettes, tomatoes, onions and garlic grown by us and an aubergine grown by a work colleague. Lovely (and oh so good for the diet - 6 pounds lost so far).

Here are some shots I took today.

This is a globe artichoke - I know, amazing!

She won't thank me for the long white socks if she ever sees this photos when she is older but after the bites her father suffered in this environment they were precautionary!

On the gambling front - not so good. £2 down and looks like it will be £3 in 30 minutes time as Ipswich losing to Crystal Palace TWO nil as I type (the bet was Ipswich to win 3-2 but I have to be realistic).

Monday, 10 August 2009

Five pounds lost

One English: Ipswich lost two - one.
Four imperial: the scales don't lie.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Gambling is a mugs game ...

... or is it? I walk past a bookies at least once a week and am always intrigued by the 'Ipswich to win, 2-1, Counago to score, you win £300' or some such. So this season (which starts in ten minutes, I'm so excited) I am going to place £1 on each of the recommended window bets at Ladbrokes and see how I get on. I will lose no more than 40 something english pounds and I might even win a few bob.
So... Ipswich to beat Coventry, 2-1. Odds 8 to 1. £1 bet placed (and yes, I did need help filling in the form).

Thursday, 6 August 2009

I won't be beaten

During our stay in the West Country, I was avidly crocheting the bread basket from the Rowan Knitting and Crochet Magazine each evening but when it was finished a) it looked awful and b) bled badly when I washed it - more fool me for putting other clothes in.
I am starting again - unfortunately the birthday this is intended for is now only 13 days away ...

Monday, 3 August 2009

Enough is enough

I have been trying to live by the principles of Beyond Chocolate , not worrying about my weight and only eating when I am hungry. I love these principles and they have helped me in many ways but today I stepped on the scales and was sad to see that I weigh as much as I did the day after Scarlett was born fifteen months ago.
I eat too much and don't move around enough - there, I've said it out loud.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

My day so far ....

The thought of going to the allotment first thing was tough when I woke up this morning, but once there it was just wonderful and I was so busy that now I feel very pleased with myself.

Here are (just a few of) our beetroots.

After a period of intense weeding, I found this beauty.

It looks as though we will have a glut of runner beans...

... and will be busy making green tomato chutney if we don't get some sun soon!

Some much-needed fuel once home (and a chance to browse the new Boden catalogue).

Then Scarlett and I walked to Portman Road with one of my favourite roses and laid it at the feet of our local hero who passed away yesterday.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Two things that made me smile today

My favourite rose is in bloom for the second time this year.

Scarlett's first shoes!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Reasons to be working

I have a very good friend who went back to work today, a year after the birth of her baby. She has been quite sad about returning so I have been thinking about working and here is my list of positive things about leaving your baby -

a) You can wear dangly earrings, beaded bracelets and long or short necklaces. I find this so exciting that I am often seen going to work resembling Mr T.

b) Without a baby in the car, you can turn up your music and drive (a little) recklessly.

c) You can have one hot drink, or as many as you fancy, you can drink them whilst hot and you can finish them.

d) Personally, I don't earn much, but I am almost able to cover half of our household bills and that sense of equality feels nice.

Even if you aren't doing a job that you really care about anymore, there will be moments when your brain fires and you start to think like the old you. When that happens, it is so good to see her again.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

For the love of a sausage dog

We used to have a dachshund called Spencer, but over Christmas 2007 he came to a very sudden and sad end.

Over the last few weeks I have been having a bit of a tidy up - only things that are beautiful, useful or very sentimental will remain (as Anthea Turner once said). I have also been round the house with a pad and pen making a list of jobs that need to be done ... anyway, the point is, I have realised just how many sausage dog bits we have....

A handmade Italian beauty, given to me as a birthday present by Hesper. We particularly like his slightly shorter back leg that gives a perfect impression of a dachchund taking a wee.

An Andy Warhol Print, Maurice, bought at the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh.

An (out of work) draught excluder, recently bought on a whim at Plum Green in Hadleigh - elevated off the floor to protect him from our over-zealous terrier.
(I hope you are loving the woodchip wallpaper. Yes, it is top of the list).

Scarlett's first birthday present from James and Lara. Her first word has to be 'dog' as she calls 'doooh' every morning (and then sucks his nose as a thank you).

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Biting insects and spectacles

Whilst picking courgettes and raspberries at 6am Monday morning, Dan was attacked by a swarm of invisible insects that left his leg like this ...

A day later his arm had swollen so much that his watch was acting like a rubber band and his bottom lip had doubled in size - the doctor put him on antibiotics and he has been swallowing painkillers ever since.

I have to keep reminding myself that we live in the UK and not the Tropics.

Neither of us has braved the allotment since and it is the Open Day on Saturday ... I'm praying for torrential rain as our grass must be back at the embarassing stage.

Scarlett has been diagnosed as above average long-sighted so, to prevent her left eye becoming more wobbly than it is already, she is now the proud owner of two pairs of glasses. I have been feeling a little sad for her but today I realised that beyond them is still my little girl and now she can probably see me clearly.