Friday, 31 December 2010


I always like to reflect and look back at this point in the year, while there is space to.  To note what has happened & been done in the past year.  I know the 1st of January is a somewhat arbitary date to start a year, I also try reflect and realign at the beginning of Autumn & the Summer Solstice.  But New Year is traditional & there is a holiday to boot. 

I gave up the notion of Resolutions many years ago as it seemed to be done simply because it was the done thing.  I would list all the things that I should/ought/must do.  Possibly do them a couple of times then drift off onto something more interesting.  Usually another craft project or something involving tea...

For a few years instead I have listed my hopes & dreams for the coming year.  Then at this time of year review what happened.  And laugh myself silly at the disparity.  The unexpected pregnancy for example.

For the last couple of years I have discoved the notion of a Word for the year.  There are a few people out in blogland who have written about this.  Christine Kane has a list of word possibilities which I find useful.  So now I need to decide what word I want to carry me through this year.  My last year's word I finally chose in about March, so as you can see I am totally on the ball with this stuff! 

I chose delight.  I made a banner which hangs at the end of the bed.  My hope with this choice was to notice the minutae of my life and enjoy it, to be present in the fleeting moments, of my children growning.
So, do I continue with this or move to another word.  I wonder if any of us are truely are present all the time, there always seems so much planning and sorting that needs to be done.  Starting this blog has helped focus my attention to the incredible beauty around me.  But I still manage to beat myself up for my failings.  I look at my 'delight' banner and use it to give myself a hard time when I am not feeling the delight!  oh the irony.

Oh, what I hold in my hand.  To remember, Enjoy & cherish.
So, whilst I am pondering my dreams and desires for this unfolding year, I wish you all the very best & Happy New Year. xxx

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Christmas in summary

Christmas eve sledging

Christmas Day walk.  Lovely snow walk as the light fell

Christmas display

My favourite decoration surrounded by a sea of children's decorating.
 I somewhat failed to take many pictures.  Christmas was a lovely smorgasbord of family, feasting and unwrapping.  Obviously there was wrapping up and frantic getting ready first. 

And now its the pause before the next breath.  The next meyhem and start the new year.  Not that New Year really 'happens' for us any more.  But the day after New Years Day I have a eight year old turning Nine. NINE.  Oh boy.  We have all been poorly too, one way or another so nothing is organised yet.  I have persuaded her that later on in January will be better.  I hope she bought it.  She wants her first sleep over so we really need to garner our strength for that one!

I am now in the list making & reviewing & planning, that gets me through the post christmas blues.  I love lists!  I also enjoy the reflective time after the craziness.  Before breathing in the next year & all its possibilities.  Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Solstice Sunrise

With the level of poorliness in our house at the moment, we weren't going to venture too far for this morning's solstice sunrise.  I have been sewing solstice mitts as a winter warmer gift for the children.  So this morning, after what should have been the longest night, but was spent with a sucession of small children lying beside me since 5am, we got up at seven.  To give the gifts.

They were well recieved, which was a nice suprise, as I wasn't sure if they would be loved.  Luckily they were delighted with their new winter warmers.

My brother dropped in briefly to pick up his lovely camera, as he, young and single as he is, was off to Stonehenge for the full-on experience.  We all went 3 years ago and it was wonderful.  I was dancing my socks off in the centre circle of the stones & thought 'I wonder if this was an ancient fertility ritual.'  One moon later and I was unexpectedly pregnant.  Beloved husband hasn't let us go again!  Seriously though, it was a fantastic experience to be allowed into the centre circle & a great atmostphere.  Maybe next year, winter bugs permitting.

So this year, we decided to stay local, to our 'top of the world' spot.  Baby Roo could tell that something was up, as he was all excited but not knowing why.  Getting a pressie bought a big grin to his face,'berday!' (birthday).  There is something adventure like about getting up before dawn and going out.  Unless you have to go to work of course!  So there was a real sense of excitement as we made our way through the gloomy snow.

To have mince pies & decaff coffee & juice.  Sitting on a yoga mat looking out over a frozen world.  Tintin spotted a deer in the field below us, carefully picking its way through the snow. Wonderful.

The sun failed to make an appearance so 8.04am passed us by with a barely imperceptible lighting of the skys. 
We got cold quite quickly so after about twenty minutes we came down & went to our community cafe for breakfast.  This has just started up in the last few weeks at the small hall 3 mornings a week and I just love it.  I hope it continues.

Best porridge ever, apparently

 Happy Solstice to you all.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Moussaka madness

Today I decided to make Moussaka for the first time.  We ate the most wonderful one in Kefalonia where our hotelier Stavos's Mamma made it.  She seemed to spend most of her time in the kitchen so really I should have been warned.
I went for the vegetarian option with green lentils.  I thought, 'oh it will be like making lasagne'.  

Luckily, I thought I'd get a headstart and make it early to get it in the slow cooker before tackling the ever expanding Christmas To Do list.  Thank goodness I did because it took me all ruddy day to make it.  And I chose the recipe from an alleged 'easy' book which usually delivers on its promise.  Unusually for me I had read the ingredient list and had everything, but I didn't read the instructions. 

First: cook onions & garlic, add lentils, tomatoes & tasty stuff.  Cook for ONE hour.  Yep, failed to read this bit.
Second: slice & soak Aubergines (eggplant if any Northern Americans are reading) in salt for 3 minutes.
Third: peel potatoes & boil whole.
Fourth: chop mushrooms.  skipped this stage as Tintin doesn't like them & I was bored by now.
Fifth: wash Aubergines, pat dry (harump) and fry the living daylights out of them.
Six: Are you still here??  Layer aubergines, lentil mix a couple of times. 
Seven: slice potatoes on top.  Oh what, they boiled into mush?  Just wing it and pretend you can cut the moosh and attempt to get them on top.

I was soo p**d off by now, I was ready to pretend it was a casserole & serve it with rice.  Sadly I had announced my intentions so had to soldier on.

Eight: melt mountain of butter with token smattering of flour. 
Nine: Warm milk in yet another pan.
Ten: Add milk to butter melt.  Forget to stir like crazy. Strain through sieve and start again.  Stir like crazy.
Eleven: Realise this recipe doesn't put cheese in the sauce that I so adore.  Its why I wanted to make it in the first place.  Grate cheese and add it anyway.
Twelve: separate 2 Eggs. put whites aside to make peppermint creams with kids/husband to knock over side* (*delete as you see fit)
Thirteen: Still with me. Shhesh. I wasn't.  At this stage I was getting seriously grumpy. Also Bini announces that she's poorly and starts being sick.  Not in the kitchen I hasten to add. One less  for dinner.  Anyway, add the wretched eggs to the cooling sauce,
Fourteen: Pour the sauce on top of the moussaka and throw it in the oven in disgust.
Fifteen: Get husband to trudge through the snow to buy some garlic bread because I was fed up of cooking.
Sixteen: Go nuture ailing babe.

At this point for the first time in my ahem illustrious cooking career that I was hoping for negative reviews.  I DO NOT WANT TO MAKE THIS AGAIN!
Oh My.  It looked and tasted Wonderful.  It played to rave reviews, even the difficult audience of 'I don't think I'll like this, Mummy.'  Dammit.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Packing by an 8 year old

Packing for a night away at Granny & Grandads whilst Mummy & Daddy party the night away...

Fancy tiered skirt - check
Barbie denim jacket - check
Bear in homemade headscarf - check

Tooth brush - no
Pyjamas - no
knickers - no
socks - no.

Needless to say, I had to repack & make sure that everything was there for Granny to look after them.  And so very grateful to the Grandparents for a lovely 24 hours as grownups.  Our first time.  In nearly 9 years.  They have been to stay at their Grandparents but normally when I was giving birth to another one!  It was Roo's first night away & we both missed each other.  He has needed more attention at bedtime this week which I have happily given.

We had a good party, even considering the fact that it should have been Aileen's birthday.  We partied hard and long and loud.  Just as she would have done herself.  One of my best bits though was at the B&B the next morning, eating a leisurely breakfast with 4 other friends.  Between us we would have had 9 children but there we were, just us, talking grownup stuff.  Bliss.

Needless to say that by the time we got back home I was missing my babies desperately & keen to go fetch them.  The Grandparents seemed inordinately glad to see us too!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Sewing through grief

This week I have been sewing up things made from the ribbons that decorated the hall for a dear friend's funeral back in the summer.  We have a party tomorrow night to celebrate/commemorate what should have been her 41st birthday.  As the ribbons are all I have that link to her I have been trying to make some gifts for her 3 children & husband.  They were my husband's best friends at school who then went on to fall in love & get married.  To my mind they were always an item.  It breaks my heart to think that it is just M without Aileen. 

So stitching has been bittersweet this week.  I have enjoyed trying to make things using this ribbon, whilst wishing from the depth of my heart that I didn't have to.  I have spent the week thinking about her.  In my head she is still very vibrantly alive.  She was a real shining star, my friend Aileen.  And I miss that I won't be able to talk to her again.  Although they lived in New York, facebook kept us all in touch.  She used to post funny & cryptic updates on her status which sometimes infuriated me that I didn't know what they meant.  She had lots of friends, would talk to anyone & everyone, got angry with injustice or irritating people.  She had an infectious laugh & smile.  Knew how to apply perfect lipstick.  Showed me how to pluck my eyebrows many years ago.  Loved being a Mum.  Arranged the most outrageous parties & gatherings.  Put people together.  A baby is due this week from her matchmaking another lovely couple.
She is missed by so many.  Damn that driver for not seeing her Vespa.

Husband & Aileen early 1990's. A year before I met him.  He looks like a kid! Wasn't she Beautiful.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Wish Granted!

oh yes, my friends.  We got some.  It came at last. 
This stuff.  This was quite alot for us here.

The school had the common decency to close its doors for the day.  Husband stayed home.  So we got properly down to a serious snow day. 

Some attempts at toboganning but the snow wasn't really right for it.  Either that or our feed sack with a pillow stuffed in it wasn't up to its usual skills.  We also don't have much in the way of slopes round here. 
A couple of snowmen.  Throwing snowballs.  Lighting the fire.  Chestnuts & an old movie. Soup & bread.  Christmas tree down from the loft & decorated.  Phew. 
Thankyou Universe!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

We want some snow!

Yep.  While the rest of blog land and the UK is covered in the chilly white stuff, this is the best we could manage.  And I believe this little cutie involved some serious scouring of the whole garden.  Bless my kids, they make the best of what they have.
Waaaaah.  We want a snow day! 

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

My turn at the craft table.

The date crept up on me unexpectedly.  I said yes to organising the craft table at toddler group ages ago & then suddenly it was here!

Lots of rushing around but I managed to get there eventually.  We were making christmas trees from green paper plates, with glitter, stickers & a badly cut out gold star.  I think the kids had fun.  We got covered in glitter anyway.

'oh, are we making hats today?'  I got that at least twice! Ahh well.  Hopefully it won't be my turn for a while yet!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

On top of the world!

Today we went for a walk to the place that has been declared 'the top of the world' by our children.  It goes to show just how flat it is around here!

It was so extemely cold.
We had tea & coffee at the top to try to warm up.
That & jump around like a dizzy gazelle, whilst trying out a borrowed camera.  Yes, I finally got a photo of me on this blog.  My beloved husband finally got round the other side of the camera for me.

Vintage at the Village Hall

Yippee.  Its Vintage & its near me!  Just hope Roo will let me enjoy it properly.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

First one done!

My dear sister gave me 24 hours notice that they were coming to stay on Monday.  I had to clean the house & make safe for crawling baby again & finish her advent calendar.  Obviously priority went to the tidy up. 

Then mad sewing into the night.  It all went horribly wrong about 11pm when I discovered that I cannot, in fact, quilt at all.  I don't know why this should have come as a surprise as I don't quilt, I just assumed that it would be easy. 

Note to self: If I ever get round to making that dream quilt I will just be a topper & ship it out to an expert that doesn't cobble & bobble.

I decided to back it with blanket to give some weight & back that to make it look finished.  I sewed the blanket on with the buttons then the backing & turned through.  I felt really smug with myself at this point.  Then top stitch.  Which is where the party ended.  Looked awful.  Had to undo seams several times until I gave up & went to bed in disgust.   In the end I realised I'd just have to do subtle hand stitches to make it hold together & not look too bobbley.

Which meant that I had to give it to them before I had finished it, & then sit sewing it with them in the evening!  Luckily they were delighted.  My sweet sister was beside herself, which was exactly the response I had been hoping for.  Not expecting the same from my brother but hopefully he'll appreciate his.  He has the advantage of the second hanging with me having, in theory, learnt from some mistakes.  By the time I get to our one I'll have it down pat!

The photos really didn't come out very well, the light was really poor, not to mention my photography skills.  Want a close up?

The wooden ornaments hang on the buttons.  That's the plan anyhow.   Yeehaa. I got one finished!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Cough cough

We are all a bit poorly in Keepapi Cottage.  So we have made some homemade cough medicine.  Made using a recipe given to me from a New Forest witch. 
Basically you cut up an onion, some fresh thyme chopped on top, then cover it in honey.  After several hours a clear liquid appears that you strain off & use as cough medicine.  Tastes OK & the kids like it.  Jury is out as to its efficacy, but it feels good enough. 
In case you were in any doubt as to what we look like right now...

I think I love these labels more than the medicine!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Nature's pavement art

Does this mean its late autumn now?  Which means it will be Advent very shortly. Oh my.

I/We have three advent calendar hangings in a state of almost ready to be finished. Ha! Which means they totally aren't finished.  Trees & pockets are sewn on.  Now needing buttons to hang the decorations on and Finishing.  My problem is that I am not sure how to finish them off to make a nice hanging. 

This is actually a metaphor for many of my projects.  I am fantastic at starting things.  Not so good at finishing things.  I think I need another Santa elf who comes along behind my whirlwind of ideas & completes & makes good.  Any offers?!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Surely she can't be that old

My sweet 8 year old girl & I went to her new school open evening.  I got all nostalgic & sad that First school is in its final year.  It only seems a couple of years ago that we were deciding what first school to go to.  Now she's all bigger & not my little-girl anymore.  I really see the changes in her body preparing her for adolescence.  I try not to get all bitter sweet about it but dammit, its all getting away from me.  I really need to remember my word for the year - Delight - and enjoy what is.  My sweet baby is growing into a young girl, soon to be a girl-woman.  That is the way things go, and its OK.  She will always be my precious first born, whatever age she is.

Saturday, 13 November 2010


My evenings have turned into a sweatshop.  Sewing up number pockets & other parts.  My beloved has been helping.  I managed to persuaded him that as the advent calendars were from us, he might like to play too.  He bought it, bless him.  I let him listen to Blondie rather than make him listen to my crafty podcasts! 
I could really get used to having a santa's elf.  So much fun to have someone else doing the ironing part!

Friday, 12 November 2010

School in pajamas!

This week the school had a bedtime story session to coincide with the travelling book fair.  We had to go back to the school early evening, with the kids in pajamas & slippers to listen to various stories in different rooms.  It was really sweet to see all the kids & teachers in dressing gowns all excited at the novelty of being in school in night attire. 

I am currently sewing up a storm attempting these advent calendars.  I forgot to mention that I am letting myself off the hook by buying some small wooden decorations for the pockets.  Just concentrating on the hangings this year.  Maybe I will make some decorations for next year.  For now this is keeping me busy!

Thankyou for all your lovely comments recently.  I get ludicrously excited at each and every one!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Down to the woods today

We have been down in the woods recently.  Making faerie houses. 

 It was lovely to be in the woods together & enjoying a flask of hot chocolate & apple flap jacks.  A few fights as usual but I managed to subvert the energy to fun play.  Felt quite proud of myself in that moment.

We had so much fun that we went back the next day to check if the houses were still standing & to take pictures with a charged up camera.  Daddy even joined us later.
While the kids were playing we laid on our back and watched the canopy & the leaves falling

Our littlest friends enjoyed themselves too.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Advent preparations

Am I allowed to say Christmas yet?  I think I need to.  I had the mad idea on about 2nd November that this year was going to be the year I made a fabric advent calendar.  Not such a mad idea really.  Been wanting to do this for an age.  And better do it before the kids get too old to enjoy it. 
No, the mad idea was the brainwave that I should also make one for my sister's family and brother's family as their christmas present.  Genius.  Shall I make things simple for myself? A basic hanging with pockets perhaps.  oh no, I need to make a textile christmas tree with decorations added each day.  Three of them.  Oh goodness, I also have my best friend's kid who is my godson.  Maybe four.  Somebody stop me.  I need help!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Henna Heaven

As Bini has been studying India & Divali at school along with Mendhi art, we took that as an excuse to get ourselves inked up.
We followed the henna recipe according to Amanda Soule Blake's book, The Creative Family.  After making up the paste we used a ziploc bag with a tiny tiny bit cut off the corner.  It worked quite well.  The actual paste didn't mark as well as she was hoping but it was fun while it lasted.

I think next time we will do this when it is warmer.  It was rather chilly waiting for it to dry!

Tintin was not keen on getting himself marked but wanted to try some of the designing.  So I was his canvas, as well as Bini's.  Both my arms were filled!

I noticed one of the mothers I know at swimming lesson today kept looking at my arms which I got quite paranoid about until I remembered I still had faint outlines of monsters and other oddness on them!  I did explain to her what it was.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Feeling flat, Feeling elated

Today, I started driving away from our favourite baby group & thought, 'hmmm this doesn't feel right.'  No.  A completely flat tyre makes the car feel odd.  Sigh. 
Luckily for me, my knight in shining armour was working in the office today just down the road & came out to change it for me.  Even standing on the brace I was unable to undo the bolts.  I think  I am going to get hold of a long bar to create a better lever in case it happens again further from home.
The tyre people sorted it out in a short while & we are roadworthy once again.  Roo slept through the whole event at the tyre place.

Although it was annoying, it was an oddly life affirming incident & learning opportunity.  On finding it, I went to my mobile phone - no signal.  At that point, some of the ladies came out from the toddler group & loaned me a decent mobile to call my husband.  The sun was shining.  More people came out & checked I was OK.  Husband comes out & Roo is excited to unexpectedly see Daddy, as am I.  We/He changes the tyre & I made sure I got my hands dirty to remind myself what to do next time.  Learning opportunity number one.  Need longer lever.   Learning opportunity number two.  Yet more people come to check on me.

I go to the tyre place & the lovely men there sorted it out in a trice.  (I know these guys fairly well as they gave us the tractor tyres for the allotment & we have been going there for quite a few years.  Not on first name terms or anything but they know my face.)   Off we go home in time for lunch & continue Roo's nap.

What I took from this all was that people are basically really nice!  I actually felt rather lucky.

A day at the park

A couple of times in half term we made the trip to a special play park.  The playpark is by the river which makes the swings & slide superfluous for this little boy.  Lots of friends waiting to play by the water.  He got into trouble for eating all the fig rolls & feeding the pastry part to the ducks.  We went hungry whilst his feathered friends feasted!

A little brother to teach how its done.  The big sister ran off with her friends we saw there.

What a wonderful park!  We have to remember we live by here.  How blessed we are.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Building & Sewing

Today I finally helped with the building work (after stealing some sewing time of course).  Barrowing 1.2 cubic metres of hardcore rubble in our recently aquired hole at the back of the house. 
Obviously I did the hard work loading the barrow & my minion/husband waltzed it round & emptied it. 

We had some help/hinderance as you can see.  They didn't stay long prefering to run around the garden /building site chasing each other.  Its funny, we tried to make the lawn as large as we could given the space available, & yet its only when something is plonked in the middle that they really run around in the garden.

I also managed to make some trousers for Tintin which are almost finished.  They would have sewn up in a trice but I decided to make things harder for myself by creating cuffs & a pocket from an old necktie.  I never appreciated just how much fabric it must take to make one little tie.  I am now off to deconstruct as many as I can find.  I am sure there is a wealth of making possibilities waiting for me.