Saturday, 29 January 2011

It's a fishy business

Hello, I hope you are all having a great weekend. We are having a quiet one after last weeks birthday madness. I was absolutely exhausted on Monday and Tuesday, the weekend finally caught up with me and lets just say I wasn't the best company for the first part of last week (way too shouty and short tempered!).

I am currently trying to fight off a throaty/cold bug that seems to be trying to come out, I think the brewing germs may have contributed to my tiredness and grumpiness last week. I have been sipping lemsip to pep myself up a bit and so far they seem to be doing the trick.

We had a little ride over to Wallingford this morning to pick up a couple of fat quarters from Village Fabrics as Daisy is now adamant she wants to make a patchwork cushion for herself. We had a lovely brunch at the Old Post Office and then a mooch around the charity shops, farmers market and the antique centre. Of course we simply couldn't walk past the old fashioned sweet shop without popping in for a few pick and mix and jelly beans. On the way back to the car I popped into one last CS and found a lovely Carlton Ware dish. It is in perfect condition so I had to have it and I think £8.50 wasn't too bad. Do you like it? The photograph is terrible (I blame the light rather than my lack of skill), but it is a lovely mint green colour in real life.

Quilting went well on Monday even though I was so tired, I managed to complete two of my nine patch squares. I have decided for this project that I will hand sew it all. I ordered from Ebay a 1/4 inch seam foot for my sewing machine, so that I will be able to machine stitch my next project. I am really enjoying hand stitching, which has surprised me. I am normally a get it done as quickly as possible sort of person but there is definitely something therapeutic about hand stitching. I am loving the fact that the course allows me two hours of pure crafting and I can pack up at the end of it and leave it until the next week. I do not feel the need to rush which is my normal downfall. Next week we are learning to applique hearts onto the other two patch squares. After the cushion it's my aim to make a quilt for our double bed. I really need to start to think about colours and design. If I am totally honest I really don't have a clue how to design a quilt or how to pick out fabrics. Best not run before I can walk though!

I have had a leisurely hour of crocheting this afternoon, I am determined to get the big ripple finished off and get cracking on my sisters birthday blanket - April 4th is my deadline.

We have a horse riding lesson (Daisy) and homework to contend with tomorrow (both) and I also plan to do a bit of baking. My new recipe of the fortnights is pea and ham soup ala Heston at Waitrose. It sounds divine, I am just hoping it's more successful than my pork strogonoff disaster. I plan on making it for lunch tomorrow and I also fancy baking some chocolate chip cookies, they always go down a treat. Of course there is also the Sunday roast to cook in the evening. I love to cook on Sundays, making dinner every evening often annoys me during the week, but somehow at weekends it's different. I think it is all down to the perception that you have more time at the weekend. I am still on a mission to find more tasty midweek meal ideas that will satisfy two very fussy eaters (AKA Alex and Mr P).

Now onto the fish, (I almost forgot!) Alex decided to buy an aquarium to go in his bedroom with his birthday money. We said no at first to his request but after some thought we decided that fish are pretty harmless and shouldn't be too hard to look after. Mr P used to keep fish in his younger days, so he is fairly knowledgeable about them. We bought our first lot on Friday and so far they seem ok. Mr P decided to buy a few more today, even though you are supposed to wait at least a week before you introduce any more (and I thought I was impatient!). We currently have some platys and guppys and a couple of tank cleaning catfish. I am a definite play it by the book sort of person, so I was rather miffed that Mr P has decided to add more fish before the end of the first week. I have warned him that they will all be dead in a few days because he didn't stick to the rules. He just shakes his head and states that they are "bloody fish for goodness sake they will be just fine". We shall see, I am adamant that we stick to the 10% water changes every few days to help with the build up of harmful ammonia and nitrates. Having researched tropical fish keeping on the Internet there is a lot more to it than I had ever realised. I didn't realise that your filter and the gravel eventually produce bacteria that helps to neutralise the toxins caused by fish poo and wee. Blimey, I am turning into a fish anorak. Here is a rather bad photograph of the tank, see if you can spot any fish - I think they are camera shy!

Just before I go, I must tell you about Pepe and her catnip mouse. We bought her a couple yesterday from the pet shop. She has never had them before so we weren't sure if they would work their magic on her. Both our other cats were totally immune to catnip, it never did a thing for them. Poor old Peps went totally crazy with a capital C! She was like a cat on drugs, rolling all over the floor with her mouse, throwing it up in the air. After the effects had warn off, she had to take herself off to bed for an hour to recover. It was very funny to watch though. Here she is mid crazy mouse killing.

It is my blog anniversary coming up in a few weeks so I think a little give away will be in order - watch this space!

Have a great weekend.

Till next time.


Sunday, 23 January 2011

Busy Whizzy Weekends

Good Evening, another weekend bites the dust and what a busy busy weekend it's been.

Alex had his birthday party yesterday which he shared with his school friend. Today we hosted a family tea party in the birthday boys honour. Combine the parties with an impromptu sleepover for Daisy and her friend last night and I think it is fairly safe to say that I am well and truly knackered and could really do with a weekend to recover from this weekend. Here is the birthday boy on his actual birthday with cake number 1 (from M&S and rather disappointingly dry).

The main party on Saturday went well. My nephew coached 21 six and seven year old boys at football and then it was off to Pizza Express for tea. The pizza part was very chaotic, have you ever tried to keep the noise level of 21 hyped up boys to an acceptable level? Luckily we had an upstairs room in the restaurant to ourselves. I think the boys had a great time, although I was well and truly ready for a large glass of wine by the end of the it all. Here is cake number 2 (made by the lovely Jill AKA the cake lady, her cakes are never dry!) The boys requested a cake with two Barcelona players on the top. They were very pleased with the cake and managed to scoff the players rather swiftly.

Today my morning started at 7.2o am when three sleep deprived youngsters thought it would be a great idea to get up and play on the Wii. The little buggers didn't go to sleep until nearly midnight and unbeknown to me Alex had set his alarm clock to go off at 7am this morning. Daisy and her friend had sneakily moved all their bedding from her room into Alex's room and camped out on his bedroom floor. His room is at the very back of the house and is fairly sound proof. As I couldn't hear them at all after 11pm I naively thought that they had fallen asleep - little did I know it was midnight gone before they went to sleep! I knew there was a very good reason why I HATE sleepovers. Grumpy tired children and me just don't mix.

It was lucky they did wake up early as I had loads of baking to do this morning. I made a tiramisu, a Nigella old fashioned chocolate cake and some meringues all before 9 am. Mr P took Alex off to his football match, whilst I took Daisy for her horse riding lesson. Back home for tidying and tea preparation before my family descending upon us at 4pm. I can safely say that I am really looking forward to a birthday free week this week.

I am off to quilting tomorrow armed with my new fabric stash that I managed to buy on Tuesday. My friend Julia and I headed off to Wallingford in Oxfordshire to a brilliant fabric shop that specialises in quilting fabrics. The shop was so organised and was packed full of the most loveliest of fabrics to choose from. Good job Julia has an eye for colour. She helped me pick out my four fabrics - two prints and two plains, in varying shades that will hopefully be turned into a lovely patchwork cushion cover. I also invested in a cutting board, rotary cutter and ruler, so that I can practise at home all the techniques that I will learn on my course. Here's my fabric stash, do you like my colours. It was the greyest of days when I bought them, so I really felt the need to pick cheery colours that lift my spirits when I look at them.

I managed to complete all three of the tax returns that I have to file last week so I feel free once again, what a lovely feeling. I can enjoy what's left of January now without the worry of horrible tax returns hanging over my head. They always feel like such a burden.

On Saturday afternoon I managed a very sneaky trip over to Great Missenden (before all the party madness kicked off) to visit the little gallery that stock the work of Katie Almond the ceramic/paper artist. I am a very naughty girl! I blew some of my tax return earnings on another one of her jugs. Can you imagine my delight when the owner of the gallery informed me that she will have some more of her work in over the next couple of weeks and in particular some very gorgeous little coffee cups and saucers. So watch this space. Do you like my new jug? It's much taller than the one I got for Christmas. It has an iced lolly on the inside and a Colemans mustard jar on the front along with a walnut cake - very random indeed! I love them both. They are sat on my kitchen window sill for me to admire. I wish I was a clever artist who could produce things that people raved over and admired.

Right it's off to bed for me. I might try and squeeze in a few pages of my book before I hit the land of nod. It the next one in the Lynda La Plante series that I am working my way through. Not my normal sort of read but good none the less.

Till next time.


Tuesday, 18 January 2011

7 Years Old

Tomorrow my baby turns 7. I have real trouble getting my head around the fact that seven years has flown by and my baby is no longer a baby but a funny, independent, lively and very strong willed little boy.

Seven years ago after a wonderfully calm and empowering birth he came into the world to complete our family. I'll be totally honest with you, when I found out I was pregnant for the second time, I secretly yearned for another girl, back then I felt that I knew how girls worked, and a boy seemed like such a scary prospect. It took a good few weeks to get my head around the fact that I was going to have a boy.

Then Alex was born, he was such a joy and he totally changed my perception of boys. He was a dream baby, he slept for hours, took to breastfeeding like he had done it a million times before and he was oh such a cuddly baby. The bond between us was instant and for those first five years of his life he was most definitely a mummy's boy, which after having a daddy's girl first time around was fantastic.

He has grown into a confident, cheeky, football crazy lovely little boy. He drives me nuts at times with his strong will and his burning ambition to do whatever he deems fit but he also makes me laugh so much with his crazy ways and very silly sense of humour. He really is a very special and a very loved little boy who has bought so much our lives.

I have selected a few photographs to show how he has grown over those 7 years and want to wish him a very happy birthday for tomorrow.

The big boy bump a few weeks before he was born.

Daisy meeting Alex for the very first time, she was totally smitten and never
showed an ounce of jealousy towards him.

Alex at 8 weeks, he started to grow a very funky little quiff which just grew taller and taller. At one point he would have given Jedward a run for their money!

My smiling baby at around 7 months.

From lovely baby to crazy toddler.

A first taste of boating in the lakes.

Looking cool as a pirate.

With his big sister in the days when he hero worshipped her. It's such a shame that some things have to change!

The face says it all. His first day in reception, he wasn't overly keen at the thought of going to school but he soon settled in and learnt to love it - particularly play times.

My gorgeous boy. Happy Birthday Son.
Till next time.

Monday, 17 January 2011

I've got the Quilty bug!

Evening, just a little update to let you know how I got on this morning on my quilting course - well it looks very promising indeed and I have a horrible feeling that I am going to be hooked.

The tutor was lovely and the ladies (yes, all ladies of a certain age) seemed very nice and were very welcoming and encouraging. I am going to start off by making a couple of cushion covers which will use blocks and incorporate a couple of appliqued hearts. I am going to go and choose some fabric tomorrow. The tutor explained for this project I will need two plain fabrics and two patterned fabrics and to try to pick a light colour, a medium colour and something a bit darker. I had a go at using the rotary cutter and the measuring mat which did take a bit of getting used to. I was a bit unsure at first but managed to cut some 2 1/2 inch squares and a six inch square reasonably accurately. It doesn't really sound much of an achievement but believe me it was as I was all fingers and thumbs to start with.

I already have a stack of lovely Cath Kidston and Amy Butler fabrics that I could use but I am going to save them until I know what I am doing.

It was a really pleasant way to spend two hours on a Monday and I would definitely recommend taking up a crafting course. It's crafting without the guilt! When I do spend time crafting at home I always end up thinking about all the jobs that I should really be doing and it always ends up making me feel guilty.

Nothing much to report from the weekend, it whizzed by in a flash. We had a trip to Windsor on Saturday afternoon via a little sewing and yarn shop that had been recommended to me. I managed to buy some really reasonably priced yarn that I plan to use for my sisters granny stripe blanket. Her birthday is at the beginning of April so I really need to get my skates on and finish of my big ripple. The ripple has reached a size where it is just right for throwing over your legs and the perfect size for the back of the sofa. I just need to decide whether to make it a little bit bigger, which would be perfect if you were stretched out on the sofa or to leave it at the size of a large lap rug. I might crochet another nine double rows and finish it there. I don't want a blanket that is so big that it gets in the way, I would rather have a size that can be thrown over the back of the sofa, so that you actually get to see its lovely ripply colours. I really can't wait to sew in all of those lovely ends - not!

I tried out a new recipe tonight - pork stragonoff, in theory using up the left over roast pork from Sunday's roast. I only needed to buy some double cream and mushrooms, it sounded easy enough. It was in fact very easy to make but tasted bloody awful. It tasted like left over roast pork in a slightly paprikary sauce - not nice at all. The kids cried, Mr P spat out the meat and even I thought it tasted rank, we ended up ordering in a pizza instead - emergency measures you understand. Has anyone got any good recipe suggestions that use up left over roasted meats that actually make them taste like a whole new dish and not taste like left overs?

Well that's it for tonight. I will update on Wednesday with a little post for Alex's birthday.

Till then.



PS I managed to watch the entire DVD collection of Downton Abbey over the weekend. It was fab, I can't wait for the next series to be screened. I do love a good period drama!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Blog Award

Evening all, just thought I would pop by and thank Pene from Scrap My Midlife Crisis, who several days ago awarded me this lovely blog award.

Now for the tricky part, I need tell you seven things about myself. This is going to be very tricky as I am really very very boring.

1) The only food I truly hate is liquorice, the taste of it makes me heave. I also particularly dislike cauliflower just because it is so white - it's colour literally puts me off eating it.

2) I once went to pick my son up from nursery with a long trail of toilet roll hanging out from the back of my trousers (not sure how or why it got caught up in the back of my knickers - it was clean and luckily not used)! Luckily my friend spotted it before anyone else from nursery did - I had however walked past a group of workmen outside my house who were digging up the road - my GOD the shame still lives with me today.

3)I hate flying and normally have to get a bit pissed on long haul flights to be able to survive them. Without a drink, I usually start to feel a bit panicky and want to get off in mid air.

4)I love Malibu and cokes - I am so stuck back in the 80's its very sad but also very true!

5)I would love to go to Italy and in particular Rome - but not with the kids. It's going to be mine and Mr P's first holiday choice once the kids are old enough to stay home alone.

6)I am not at all into music. I do listen to the radio but I only own about two CD's. I have an IPhone which is loaded with music but its more Mr P's collection of songs and artists rather than my own. I do like Take That though and have tickets to see them in July - Yay.

7)If I had to choose food for my last supper then it would be a prawn cocktail (served on iceberg lettuce with brown bread and butter cut into triangles) followed by my spag bol (but with freshly grated parmesan and not the puke in a tub ala 1980) and a nice sherry trifle for pudding. I told you I was stuck in the 80's! My friend Julia and I often go to a local pub for a retro lunch where we always choose 1980's style food. There is something strangely satisfying about tucking into gammon and pineapple or scampi, chips and peas!

Those 7 boring facts took me about an hour to think up - how sad is that.

I now need to pass this award onto 15 bloggers. Choosing fifteen blogs would probably take me another hour, so if you have managed to read this far then you deserve to receive this award. So please feel free to list seven facts about yourself. Lets hope they are more interesting than mine and they don't take you an hour to think up!

Till next time.



Tuesday, 11 January 2011

After my "I hate January" post yesterday evening, I thought I would add some much needed cheery photographs and a splash of colour.

Here is my big ripple blanket, I reckon I am about half way through nearly. I am really enjoying crocheting this monster and can't wait for it to be finished. It's at that stage where I can snuggle it over my legs as I crochet each row, definitely one for the Winter months. My sister has put in an order for a colourful blanket once this one is finished. I think I might just go for a granny stripe as the ripple pattern is fairly time consuming and rather greedy on the old yarn.

Another ripple pic, the light really is rubbish in the Winter for taking photos, the colour of the ripples in real life is much stronger. Mr P isn't keen he reckons it's way to 70's for his liking!

Do you want to see the rather cute little jug that my MIL gave me for Christmas. I love jugs and have a bit of a collection going on. I saw this in a local gallery and fell in love with its unusualness (is that a real word). It is made by a ceramics artist called Katie Almond, who uses ceramics and paper together. Each piece is a mix of hand painted porcelain and hand drawn pictures on paper that are somehow added to the pieces and then semi-glazed. The attention to detail is fantastic with the inside of the jug decorated to look like a dresser stacked with cups, plates and tea pots. I love the quirkiness of her designs.

A peek at the inside.

I have always loved Mabel Lucie Atwell, I used to have a pop up book of hers when I was a child (oh how I wished I had kept it!) So you can imagine my joy when a friend of mine decided to sell off some of her LMA collection. I had admired and coveted her collection for some time, her collection was a hand-me-down from her mum, who had owned it since she was a child. My friend decided just to keep a few bits from the collection and to sell the rest. Anyone who knows anything about MLA will know that on Ebay or in any antiques shop these pieces go for an absolute bomb. When she offered me a tea plate and saucer for the princely sum of £20, I nearly bit her hand off - what a bargain. The plate and saucer are now on the wall in my kitchen. I love MLA drawings, they always make me smile just because of their innocence. I would love another plate or two but they are just so very expensive

The little rhyme on this plate is "Don't forget - the fairies may like a lift upon the way"
And finally a picture of Ginerella as she has become affectionately known (I think she has forgotten that Pepe is her real name!). Once the children have gone to school she takes up residency on the sofa and woe betide anyone who wants to sit in her spot during the day! She is so different from the bag of nerves we adopted nearly two years ago. Her confidence has grown and she finally seems really happy to be living with us.

We have Alex's 7th birthday next Wednesday to prepare for, he is so excited about it already!
Have a great week.

Monday, 10 January 2011

January Blues

Hello, how are you all on this chilly damp Monday? How on earth has it got to the 10th of January already? This month needs to slow down a lot or I will be in trouble. I have three tax returns to complete before the 31st of Jan, I really do need to pull my finger out and get a move on with them.

I really dislike January with a passion. I think the tax return situation is the biggest reason I dislike this month, combined with the fact that we have to pay a VAT bill, a PAYE bill and a Tax bill within three weeks of each other! Plus we have at least two cold months of Winter left. Roll on the Spring that's what I say!

It been a busy week, busy getting back into the swing of things, trying to catch up with the everyday jobs that always seem to need doing. I would hate to think about how many washing machine loads I have put on since the year began. I haven't done a stitch of crafting this past week but have instead filled my time with book keeping, VAT returns, housework and ironing. At least I am sticking to the "being more organised" part of my 2011 wish list.

It hasn't been all doom and gloom here really, we did go to the Pantomime on Friday. It was Peter Pan starring Phil Mitchell from Eastenders (can't for the life of me remember what the actor is called). We all enjoyed it, though not as much as last years panto. Shane Ritchie was really very funny last year.

Saturday turned into an unexpected lazy day, but it was very much needed. Mr P had to work late morning until early afternoon, so me and the little ones popped out to the local village down the hill from us and went to the library and then on to Costas for a coffee and bacon sarnie. I haven't been to the library since last Easter - how bad is that. I still owed a £10 fine, which I think has probably had something to do with me not being so keen to go. Anyway, I paid my fine and found a Lynda La Plante book that I fancied reading. Oh the luxury of an afternoon laid out on the sofa reading. Daisy chilled out by watching rather too much Disney Channel and Alex and Mr P watched the footie upstairs. I don't think I moved for about three hours - utter bliss. After a busy week it was just what I needed.

Tonight I went on my own to the cinema! I have never been alone to the cinema before. I just had the urge to see The Kings Speech tonight. Mr P wasn't interested in seeing it, so I rang a couple of girl friends to see if they fancied seeing it. They couldn't make it at such short notice so I thought I would go on my own. It was a really good film, Colin Firth was excellent and I am guessing he will be nominated for an Oscar for his role. I must admit the history that surrounds the second world war and that era absolutely fascinates me. It was a real insight into the Queens life with her parents and the history that surrounded Edward VIII abdication. I would definitely recommend going to see it.

I'm off to stitch and bitch tomorrow evening, wow two nights out in a row! I always look forward to going and its lovely to catch up with like minded knitters and crocheters. My quilting course starts next Monday which is very exciting, I just hope it lives up to my expectations.

No pictures tonight I'm afraid. I have been really bad lately and have taken very few photographs. I think the light is so poor at the moment, it sort of puts me off. I promise some pictures next time.

Till then.


Sunday, 2 January 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to you all! I hope you have had a good Christmas, didn't it whizz by in a flash? We have had a very good Christmas here, everyone was well and the little ones have enjoyed the holidays immensely. Here they are on Christmas morning opening their presents.

All gifts were very well received and I think everyone got pretty much all that they wanted. Mr P treated me to a very lovely Pandora bracelet and three lovely glass beads. We had a lovely Christmas day with the in-laws, and then spent Boxing Day with my family. My sister had very exciting news on Christmas morning, her man had popped the big question and had bought her an engagement ring. I'm not sure when the big day will be but sometime in the next year I'm guessing. We were all very pleased for her, she seems to have picked a good un this time

We haven't done an awful lot during the holidays really, lots of time spent indoors playing with new toys and just chilling out. I have managed to make good progress on my big ripple blanket and it has really grown, still a way to go yet but progress none the less.

We did manage a trip to London on New Years Eve and had a pleasant afternoon visiting the V & A and the Science museum. I love the V & A, such a beautiful building, those Victorians certainly knew how to do things in style.

New Years Eve was spent with my sister and her man, we enjoyed a meal and saw the new year in together. Daisy stayed up to midnight for the first time too. She thought it was all very exciting.

I must admit, I am pretty glad to see the back of 2010, it has at times been a difficult year and certainly not one of our best. I haven't made any new year resolutions as such but I would like to make some changes this year that will hopefully make life better. It will be interesting reading this list back in a years time to actually see if any of these have happened.
Wishes for 2011

1) Loose weight and get fit (top of my list every year!)

2) Find a part-time job that will fit around my family and hopefully give me back a sense of purpose and direction. I have loved being a stay at home mum, but I feel it's time now to find a job and rediscover the deeply buried work/career side of me. I do a couple of cleaning jobs which I hate particularly as I know I am capable of doing so much more.

3)Be organised and not leave everything to the last minute all of the time. Being more organised will hopefully free up more time for crafting.

4)Learn a new craft (I have enrolled on a quilting course in January so hopefully that will be it).

5)Spend more time enjoying my family.

6)Find somewhere for our family holiday that doesn't disappoint. I really fancy going to one of the Greek islands but I hate the whole process of trying to find the ideal location and then being disappointed as it invariably doesn't live up to my expectations. Anyone got any holiday recommendations?

7)Find and cook a new recipe each fortnight. I am so bored of cooking the same teas, definitely time to expand the family's taste buds.

So there is my hastily written wish list, whether I achieve any of it only time will tell.

I will leave you with a picture of my smiling little man, who has been a real joy over Christmas. He is so excited about his up and coming birthday in January oh to be 7 again!

and a picture of Daisy sleeping in, we have done lots of this over the holidays, it's going to be a real shock having to get up for school again on Wednesday.

Till next time.