Saturday, 28 July 2007

Pay It Forward

I need to post this. I signed on at Shropshire Girl over (well over) a week ago, then had Liverpool's 800th to celebrate, and a whole host of other goings on so forgot to honour the next part of the agreement; I have to offer the same thing. So here it is (copied from Alison, who copied from Tracy....) ;

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week… LOL… but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

Ok, peeps, the chase is on. I am offering three hand-painted boxes, subject indefinite but probably winter themed because I like painting houses in the snow. Think Mary Engelbreit and you have my style so..... ready, steady.... go! Who wants them?

Friday, 27 July 2007

What would you least like your child to do on the first night of the Holiday?

How about break her arm and need it in plaster for ...... six weeks? Yip, that's right, the whole holidays. Call it divine retribution for attending the HP launch party if you like (If you're that way inclined) but my daughter has indeed managed to get herself a greenstick fracture of the radius that means I can spend my hols looking after a plaster. You know, don't get it wet, don't get sand in it, don't let her stick anything down it...

I mean, you cannot be serious. I can barely look after myself & three kids let alone a plaster cast that can't even recognise its own name! It's better than a puppy, but only just.

There are advantages, though (Pollyanna, again) My Princess and I have spent more time together but unfortunately in hospital this week than for a while before. I have finally seen inside an X ray room, twice (boring) and in an effort to make her less completely freaked by this heavy & horrible plaster that someone slapped on her on Saturday (he was a really nice guy, but no little girl imagines something wet, white and slimy on her right hand. That's an adolescent dream, surely?) we had to get a doll that we may/may not care about and slap a plaster on her. Little Sarah (poor doll) has a broken arm and a broken leg, is dosed up on calpol, calprofen and ex-lax (it was the only empty medicine box I would trust the Princess with) and needed a full wardrobe including matching jimjams before she was allowed to accompany us to the hospital on Tuesday (for a replacement back slab after the Princess fell into the deepest & dirtiest puddle I have ever seen at a party on Monday) and then came with us on Thursday for the proper plastering, fortunately light weight but unfortunately not the lovely pink dream I had been hoping for.

The Princess is unfussed by this, has learnt to sleep carefully, has lost her swelling & most of the pain and now uses her hand just as per usual. I did keep her off the climbing frame at the playground, but otherwise it's business as usual. That is, until we go to Wales.

Wales is a seaside holiday.

We swim in the water.

We build sandcastles.

We climb on historic and probably irreplaceable castle walls.

We don't usually have a plaster to consider.

Fortunately, the hospital deal with lots of people like us. One quick web visit and we were sorted with a Limbo, a waterproof plastic cover that is a lot classier than the plastic bag and sellotape I had been envisioning. It cost about £8.00 but if it means that the beach is back on track and swimming not an impossibility, then it will be worth it. In the mean time, this weekend it must be Daddy's turn to watch the arm...... no, hang on, he was watching her last Friday when it happened.... oh, blow, perhaps I'll just keep an eye on her, too. Honey? Honey? Don't let her play with the play dough..... you know she loves sticking it in small places.. no, not the water slide... wait let me........

See you all next week. I'm the grey haired lady who twitches when somebody mentions water. Wonder if I'll feel better after a bottle of wine....
Also apologies to everyone out there.... I want to comment on so many posts but my machine is playing silly buggers....

Friday, 20 July 2007

How long is a summer holiday?

Here I have to admit that the summer holidays always have me reaching for my purse and spending on some books, new or second hand, that I will read. The benefit of being a teacher is that I always get 6 weeks off to read (house work, well, that's not absolutely necessary, is it?) Of course, in these days of children it is a little more problematic with desperate voices crying "I want my tea, Mummy!" but that's what God invented crisps for, the ultimate serve yourself food. And the older they get the more likely they are to sit and read too. Time and money spent on books is never wasted.

My list this year is, I regret to say, longer than I anticipated. For the past couple of months I have been reading the blurb on the back of books, the reviews in the papers and looking at other people's bookshelves to see what I fancied and then looking out at shops (both full & charity) to find the right combination of brains, sex and sloppy romance to keep me reading this year. I think I now have my complete list; 12 (13, 14 or more) books that I will begin to read and keep going through until I finish. Wish me luck, folks, this may be a long haul.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Duh, first choice for every potterite who has been holding out for the last (!) book ever (and if you believe that you haven't read the last sentence. You just know it could be the first sentence of the next book in three years time when she feels the need for Harry or money.) Got it on Friday, half way through already & I have spoken to my DH as well (Yes, I did say something to him last night. I think it was "This is a really exciting bit; don't interrupt.")

2. The House at Riverton.
A Richard & Judy summer read. I don't watch the programme, but I generally find their book choices are really readable, not too highbrow nor too 'trash appeal' for me (No, Jordan's latest bonkbuster is not on this list.) This one promises me a mystery and a love story & goes from 1924 to the present. Could be good.

3. Getting rid of Matthew
Ditto R&J read. Sounded like fun, so it fell into my basket.

4. The Book Thief
I have wanted to read this ever since I picked it up in hardback & I have looked out for the paperback. A little girl, the holocaust, a book thief, and the author uses Death as a narrator. I don't know if I will like it as much as I hope too (disappointed expectations are all too common) but Oh! If it could be my magical read this summer, I would love it. You know, that book that captures the feel of a season even if content, etc are nothing to do with your life. I have very few magical books, but when a book makes it to my list, it's there for life.

5. The Thirteenth Apostle
I like a bit of heresy now and again. This book was written by an ex-lay brother of a monastic order who has 'issues' with the Catholic church (Who doesn't? But that's another and more private story. Suffice to say that I liked John Paul II and the rottweiler leaves me cold) so a new book promising me secrets that will shake the foundations of the church always makes me laugh. What secrets can there be left? I'll read this & find out, then put it away & get on with life.

6. Bad Food Britain
When did we lose our food culture? Probably when we started believing the rumours circulated by other countries that we were not very good cooks. Not fancy, yes; not pretentious, yes, but we were good at what we liked and that, after all is what food should be; a pleasure. I'll read this book and find out whether she agrees with the neo-organics or locavores as I've heard them called who try not to shop at supermarkets. Like the idea, never have mastered the practice.

7. Trains and Buttered Toast
A volume of Betjeman's essays. I have never read any of his prose, only his poetry but it appealed to me for pure nostalgia and may well be read as I imbibe fresh darjeeling and thinly sliced fingers of toast. Or perhaps just as I scoff a giant bag of Doritos. I have class.

8. Big Babies
A polemic on the state of modern adults. We want it all and we want it now...

9. A Hopeless Romantic
Pure cheap chick lit. The M&M's of my reading list. they look pretty but you know they won't do me any good.

10. The School For Husbands
Ditto chick lit that cries out for a decent bottle of red wine and a night sans better half.

11. The Last Testament
We (DH and I) read this author's first book last year and enjoyed it. This is actually in His pile, but I know I will nick it when I need a rumbustious adventure that also threatens to 'shake the foundations' of something. Can't remember what, though.

12. Visibility
By the man who wrote 'Messiah', whose second book was as good, whose third book, 'Vodka' was good.... but different. Good thing or bad thing? I don't know, if authors try something different they can get slammed for altering the magic mix, but stay the same too long and people cry 'Formula!' (think Katie Price; two novels to her name and already she's found her magic formula. Was that the sound of a sick bag being passed around? Ladies, ladies, let us not impugne the literary skills of a ........ no, can't think of a word polite enough. As Ma always said if I can't say anything nice, I won't say anything. But if the government were really serious about falling standards they'd ban books like this) Back to Boris, a decent writer who has served his time & got in a few decent books along the way; I'm guessing that whether this fits the mould or shatters it it will be a good read. Again, this officially lives in DH's pile, but I'm very adaptable. The only 'man's writer' I have never been able to get is Wilbur Smith.

13. Sovereign
A period romp? Detective novel? Historical saga? I don't know, but I enjoyed the previous novel and I can nick this from DH, too.

All to be read between now and the 1st September in locations as varied as my garden (! Some hope!) Wales, Cheltenham, Chester, Warrington & York. Never travel without a book. I keep meaning to write a diary, then I shall always have something sensational to read, but as I don't travel by train, I suppose the books will do. What's on your reading list this year? Have I missed off any must-reads? My DH has his birthday & we have our anniversary between now & Christmas so I am always looking out for more suggestions....

I will, of course, add Amazon links at some stage... but I need to make something to eat for a little girl who has a sad story to tell you all tomorrow... and you will laugh, I tell you, laugh......

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

(Don't speak too loudly.....)

(But it's actually sunny here today)
We have a birthday party here for JW tomorrow..... 7 seven year olds and I need an even break...... some sunshine & the ability to go outside to play would be ideal... failing that, a trained children's entertainer....
We are entering the misty zone known as School Holidays the day after..... blogging will be a little known thing, I expect, and very much bottom of my to do pile; days out, t shirts to decorate, two glorious weeks in Wales and Cheltenham, a house to tidy with my little helpers and a host of friends to catch up with in the real world; I will try and post when I can and of course, try and grab some time to keep up with my virtual friends, but if I am an even rarer person than now, I apologise. Six glorious weeks!

PS; Harry Potter tomorrow night; I will be at Borders from 7 til 10 with three very excited children & a fazed father. He doesn't get the lure of Potter, but I love him anyway. And the new book? Well, I think I get to go back for midnight especially to collect our pre-ordered copy; greater love has no Mummy than this; that she is prepared to enter the scrum for her children. Good luck to any other Potterites out there; when will you read yours? And do you read the last page first just in case you get run over by a juggernaut?

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

I have fallen in love.

Her name is Chloe or Cathy or Claude or Gina. She is 33 cm tall. She has a lot of friends who are like her; good at shopping, fond of gossip, into fashion in a soft, non-threatening way and above all good at acting her age (5+)

She doesn't wear cropped tops covered with spangles that show off her midriff and chest, she doesn't wear lycra so tight that you can see every crease in her bottom. She doesn't have her hair dyed or wear pierced ears or pile make up onto her face so that her eyes are half shut in a state of weariness because she is *sigh* so bored.

She has a wardrobe that will take her from the playground to the schoolroom to the family party or church on a Sunday. She has a raincoat, a warm jacket, a ballet outfit and a pretty dress and cardigan. She doesn't have a pregnant friend or a boyfriend or an incessant desire to be an imaginary princess. She is happy in herself... bien dans sa peur, again.

Is this possibly because she is French?

Mon Dieu! Even their dolls have more style than ours!

And the point of this post; Why do we give our pre-teen daughters over-sexualised dolls, heavily made-up and sporting outfits that would not disgrace a streetwalker when we really want them to stay young as long as possible and to enjoy what is fast becoming an incredibly short childhood? I hate Bratz dolls, I dread the day that the Princess asks for one of their twisted and bored faces to enter this house. I put up with Barbie within limits because, until now, I have only found either baby dolls or Barbies available in the shops. Is this because they're all that's available or all we ask for? And why can the rest of Europe manage to have proper little girl dolls when we rush from baby to Barbie in a circle of life that ignores the time that children need to just be children? I very rarely find a 'child' doll that I can dress to look like the Princess, just in jeans and a t-shirt or a pretty dress. I hate having to cast her as an adult... which is what we do with just the choice of being a baby's Mummy or being a teenage friend to Barbie. Can't she just be her age?

These dolls are made by Corolle. They are available in France, for those who travel abroad, but there are sources in this country where you can get them. Prices vary, so it's worth shopping around, but the dolls are about £30 to £40 and the clothes somewhere between £13 to £17.

My dream for Santa to bring is a pair of dolls (Santa's relations went to France this June!) with a little suitcase for each doll, with a little teddy bear each, a nightdress or PJ's, a couple of tops, trousers, skirts (hey! what do you know they match the Princess' new winter skirt & pinafore perfectly!) a poncho, bags, ballet and sports kit, the whole kit & caboodle. Santa's little elves are going to be very busy... and Santa will need to keep getting Marie Claire Idees just for the instructions for the dolls clothes.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

I love Domesticali's New category of things;

"small elements of my home that I do not detest and that I have photographed so as to eliminate all traces of dirt and detritus".

I love reading all the blogs on my list. I love reading all the house books that I can lay my hands on, ripping them to pieces and sticking them into my inspiration books. I won't get into how much more time I have to actually do things around my house if I don't go on t'internet and how much more money I would have available if I didn't have this programmed need to buy buy buy .....

I admire the true homemakers, I really do. I have a hankering to have a successful business, clean house and a family who can find matching socks without looking in three different places and finally finding the match half way behind the sofa cushion where it's been for three weeks so that I have to wash it before they can wear it and they either have to wear it wet, in which case I worry about pneumonia, or start again on the quest for a pair with another singleton. I have been known to tell them that as long as they can justify the relationship, they can wear the socks; Buzz Lightyear goes with Zurg, Star Wars and Dr Who are both Sci-fi, both socks originally were white and now have a faint pink tinge, you know what I mean.

Until quite recently my own house has been in a nasty case of crap-itus. Every surface, every cupboard, every shelf full to busting and no where safe to sit and relax. I did post some pictures when I started this blog of the "Toy Room" (from hell). I must post the pictures that show what it looks like now..... I am nearly proud. Just labels.... but I digress. What I mean to say is that there were no corners of my home I loved. Well, perhaps the bed, but only if I were in it, and not to look at which I think made it a bit of a one night fling, as in one night I'll get out of you and make you into a boudoir (french for sulking room.... what's romantic about that?) but until then I'll fling everything around. So when I read Domesticali's title for a new category of place, "small elements of my home that I do not detest and that I have photographed so as to eliminate all traces of dirt and detritus". it stuck a real chord with me. There are elements of my home that I do not detest, there really are, and I should celebrate them. Tomorrow if the weather is good I can take better pictures, but for now here is my new favourite place.

My spice cupboard. I did a Simple Abundance on it. I emptied it, I threw away anything that could protest about being thrown away, I stocked up on new and spicy spices, I transferred herbs etc into little and pretty pots, but most crazily of all, I lined it with a flowery wallpaper (50p a roll in B&Q's sale) and made it into its own little boudoir.

I want to line the shelves with lace, simply because I want some shelves to line with lace and these are the least public shelves I have. No one uses them but me, no one else has a reason to.

This is my little oasis of calm and tranquility and, a week later, it is still tidy, I still smile when I open the door and I still enjoy using the spices. With thanks and apologies to Domesticali, one of my heroes, I would love to nick your category. For the domestically dyslexic (and I think I am), it has to be one of the best ways to explain how we feel.

By the way, Happy 4th of July to all the Americans.... I'd ask you over to a tea party but if you come from Boston, it would be a waste of good tea (!) Have a good Independence day & it's nice to see our American Cousins in good party form!