Friday, 28 August 2009

watching the clouds race by.....

Early morning, sat in a large window overlooking the Irish sea. On a clear day I can see Anglesey. No such luck today. Instead I get to watch clouds of all shades of grey and white rush past. I can hear the wind hammering against the house, and the white horses are racing for the shore.

Great British Holiday. Don't you just love it?

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Happy Birthday to a boy that's 9!!!

This is my number 2 son (that's birth order, not preference)

He was born 9 years ago today at 10.30 at night. I didn't get a lot of sleep that night; not just because the hormones of what is potentially one of the most magical things I have ever done were rampaging around, but also because I had the Goblet of Fire as pain control and I had to finish it.

This is my sensible son, very practical, physical and even tempered (unless it's a game and he loses. That's when the monster appears.) He's more of a were-wolf than a vampire, and really more of the hero than the monster. Good at maths, smiley, just very cute.

G force and a BBQ at his Grandmas. What a way to celebrate!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

It's still August....

So why does my heart feel like September?

My Mum gave me some nectarines and pears today, from France, where she has been on her holidays.
I was going to photograph them this afternoon and only just now got the camera out. It's seven o'clock, and as I tried to get the light to be... well, light enough, it occurred to me that the evenings of long golden sunlight are fading fast.

Only 3 weeks until school. Half a holiday gone......

We shopped today for pens and pencils, new pencil cases and a mobile phone. Moving on, always moving on. You have to buy now because come September the aisles are full of Halloween stuff.... and all too soon Christmas. The dreaded C word. I don't remember summer's lease having this short a date when I was young. Perhaps I need to slow down.

Connected to slowing down, in a manner of speaking, I got this today. Economy Gastronomy. The series is running on BBC2 at the moment and, since I enjoyed last week's episode and recognised a style of cooking I try to do (make one meal stretch for three) I got the book. It's not bad. The big basis is that you have a bedrock recipe eg a minced beef ragu and use it, either that week or frozen into another week, for at least two tumbledown recipes. I try to do this, but call it Main Meal and Resurrection food. Last night's TV meal was a beef daube that became a pasta sauce and pasties. I will be trying that one for sure, I have a thing going with pasties at the moment.

The programme's aim is to cut food bills down. Since last night's family spent £ 330 A WEEK on food, there was a lot of cutting that could be done. Me, I try and keep the food down below £100.... am I starving my kids?

No ready meals, no instant dial takeaway, no every body eats alone and different. It's like a return to (hateful phrase) 'Family Values', which is long overdue. In my house there are two choices for dinner; take it or leave it. Oh, apart from if it's pesto pasta, which I don't like, and then I'm happy to make myself something else. Who said hypocrite?

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

A New Organiser....

A new organised me? I don't think so. As anyone who has ever taken part in a swap with me knows, I do not make deadlines. I don't altogether know what day it is most times. And I can't tell you what the kids are up to today, let alone tomorrow or next week.
But I love organising things; filofax, notebooks, diaries. Part of my problem is the quest for the perfect organising tool. It doesn't exist, I know that, but I still seek the best diary, calender, folder or filing system. Perhaps, like the Holy Grail, it can only be claimed by somebody truly pure in heart. Oh, well, counts me out. I only want to get organised to make more time for myself. Actually, if I don't bother getting organised and just don't care, I'll have loads of time. Might try that approach this year.

But until I really can't be bothered, I'll keep searching.

My current organiser is a pocket filofax. I had a pretty poppy covered one, but it got damaged and the ringbinder in the middle fell out. Yesterday in Chester I priced up a new one. £20 at least for a mock leather or a canvas bound pictorial one! They were OK, but just not me. Think again, try again.

I replaced the old binding with the outer cover of a favourite notebook, pretty much just by brute force and by using my thumbnails. It seems to have worked. I don't think it will last forever, but it will last until it falls off and by then I will either have moved on to the next all-singing, all-dancing organisational tool, or just get another cover to replace this one with.

And the cost of my new, suits-me-so-well filofax? Well, assuming that I already had the full value out of the notebook (and I did)


A truly frugal little exercise.
And my whole handbag coordinates, don't you think?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Chester, Chester, I love Chester.

DH has taken a day off work today and we went out.

Chester is a lovely old city near to us. It has half-timbered shops and roman ruins. It has lovely shops, a park that has clean benches and a definite feel of respectable gentility about it. I'd love to show you a load of photos but I didn't take any. Just google Chester, UK and you get the picture.

And it has a pasty shop.

I love pasties. My childhood is full of memories of eating cornish pasties at the side of tourist attractions in Devon and Cornwall and drinking milk straight from the bottle with my brothers. I think my Mum even has photos of us sat in a row, with bottles and half-dead pasties really clearly visible.

I love pasties as a food memory, and today as I counted up the points (about 8 to 10) and ate on regardless (no points on chocolate today) it occurred to me that I have never tried to recreate a pasty in my own kitchen. They are, like a lot of things, something which every self-respecting wife could make at one time and we have delegated responsibility for to a professional. Baby care being another.

I think part of the reason I like the blogging world is because I read about people who have claimed their skills back. Crochet, knitting, sewing, gardening, decorating, childcare, animal husbandry, forestry, there is an army of bloggers out there who can do all these things.... and I love that. I am not green fingered. I will never knit a sock. But I know that I can do things and that I don't need to automatically look for the professional to do it for me.
That I don't need to spend £20 on a new Filofax, thank you very much, especially since the old one has LITERALLY fallen apart, leaving me with a ring-binder middle that I can.... hopefully.... fit into a new cover. A Polka dot red cover. A unique cover. My filofax. My way.

And no professional in sight.

Pictures to follow later this week.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

A late Spring Cleaning was called for....

I am no domestic Superwoman. I manage a little dusting and as little vacuuming as I can as much as I can.... which is strange, since I appreciate a clean and sparkling house as much as the next woman.... I'm just not sure I should need to do the work.

But this week has been almost spring-like in my cleaning. I find myself pulling out and sorting cupboards, drawers, bags and the bottom of settees with a zeal that is frightening (I am NOT nest building, I will never need to nest build again)

There was the strange case of the loo in the daytime (Mr K never noticed that the walls had changed colour until later that evening; at which point he asked me what time that night I had managed to do the painting; normal service will be resumed as soon as possible)

The kitchen has had a good wipe over and the living room had a corner cleared. But of all my work this week the one I am most proud of is my bedroom.

I love my bedroom; it is possibly my favourite room in the house. Everything in it is chosen for its meaning or its beauty, a lot of them were gifts or inherited and I don't think I could easily part with them. Except if someone offered to buy me a loft appartment in New York and I needed to buy bigger closets there. I'd manage that, somehow.

The bedhead, wardrobes and chests of drawers were bought before we married and delivered 3 weeks after the ceremony. They take me back to the days of living out of a suitcase in our own house, sitting on deck chairs and watching black and white TV. Happy days!

The ottoman was Mr K's uncles; we inherited it off him last year. It's filled, of course, with spare bedding, including the blanket I crocheted. I will, eventually, paint it a softer colour, possibly white or pink, but the sage green does for now

The pram was The Princess' first dolls pram. She got it when she was about 18 months. It's such a cute little wicker one, I had to keep it. It has my own Teddy, Toby and some of my dolls from childhood. Yes, they are Sasha dolls, including a naked one. She is awaiting clothes.

The dried flower picture is frommy wedding bouquet. My Mum arranged for it to be dried and framed. I love it; it was red roses and white freesias. It smelled so good the day after the wedding, that it seemed a shame to go on honeymoon. But, Florence beckoned (I am a Room with a View fan) so, off we went.

My bedside table has some of my favourite books and a whole load of Persephone Classics. It was lovely today to see them featured in the Mail on Sunday. I love their elegant (cerebral, the paper described them as,) covers. They go with blue, pink, yellow and green. Truly adaptable books, suit any room scheme!

The dolls (bought) are me and the Princess; the black cat I made at 11 in needlework lessons in school. I made a whole family; Mum, Dad and little kitten with a matchbox suitcase and a set of clothes. I fiddled every Wednesday for a term to make everything the cool cat needs. Unfortunately, I also played with them for years. Black Kitten is the only bit left.

The dressing table is a tall chest of drawers. I love a busy table; this one is packed with everything I need to keep me looking human. The lace doily was handmade by Mr K's grandmother; the crystal clock was our 15th anniversary present off my parents, the crystal pots were gleaned from charity shops and family whenever I got the chance.

And, finally, on the door are these little Bunnies. I made them for Mr K and me when we were two. His name's Peter, Peter rabbit, see? I used to joke that we would call the kids Jessica and Roger, with Stuart (known as Stu)as an alternative. No, we didn't. I loved fiddling with Fimo. I must get some out. Fimo hearts sounds like fun.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Summer holidays were made for....

Building tents.

We raided the garage for bamboo and wood, nicked every blanket out of the living room (can you tell I like red?) and set to work with nothing more than masking tape and wool.

We have every kind of tent I could think of;
the teepee,

the Indian summer tent (canopy only; I don't have enough white sheets to make all four sides. Princess not happy with this.)

and a traditional triangular tent with my comfiest red blanket as the roof.

And me? I don't get a tent, only a parasol that I had to buy myself, with a glass of blackcurrant (the sun's not over the yardarm yet) and a couple of magazines for company.

I predict that we are here for tea and into the night. Can't think how to do a campfire safely, and I haven't got any marshmallows so s'mores are out, but we might make do with tomato soup and burgers if it gets cold.

Ans when your tent gets boring/ cold/ too sunny, what do you do?

Move in with your brother.

Civilisation has nothing to offer more fair...

Than a decent toilet with a good flush and soft toilet roll.

For the past 8 years, since we moved in, the toilet downstairs (the 'guest' toilet) has been a nightmare vision of dirty cream loo and stained basin, peeling striped vinyl walpaper and a light the hideousness of which defies description. And I'm good with words.

I know, I know, I could have decorated around the brown-stained sanitary ware, but my heart always sank when I went in there. Which strikes me as wrong.
Even if it is the smallest room in the house it should be a warm, welcoming and above all clean place.

So, this summer we replaced the broken toilet. Plain white, neat, smooth and no ledges in the bowl to cause bad staining. Then in July I stripped the walls. The wallpaper had been put on over some cheap and tacky white paint which peeled off in places so they were white and patchy now, still not calm inducing. I needed to paper, but didn't feel inclined so I stuck on a coat of yellow paint. Still not good enough.

Then yesterday I went for it. two coats of Apple Grove and Ahoy bathroom and kitchen paints. It's thick paint; two coats has covered my white and plaster patchwork walls, and the rest is obvious. I am now the proud owner of a restful, relatively tidy cloakroom.

It has everything the modern cloakroom needs.
Chi chi soap, handmade in Northumberland.

Reading matter for those in need of inspiration.

A spider plant to remove all the air-borne toxins.

And space on the wall for a picture, as yet unchosen. I want to use my poster of this, but the Princess seems to feel it's inappropriate for a bathroom. What do you think?

You are all cordially invited to drop by anytime you need the facilities.

Job done.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Yes, there are six children in the house.

So far this afternoon I have connected up the new modem (computer still not working; only my laptop. That's MY laptop; they can't use it), decided on a green and cream theme for my downstairs loo, posted replies to all the blogs I've read today and had three cups of tea. There are six children in my care. Look at the lunch they had... count them... SIX!!!

They are so good and lovely I may possibly get a chance to read a book.... or is that too optimistic?

They're friends who live for most of the year in Abu Dhabi and only come back in the summer.

The ages match mine almost exactly, one 11, one 9 and one 6, while the genders match, too.

And every summer we meet up it is as if the last year has never happened. They play together. They eat with gusto. And they part for the next 12 months quite happy with their friendship.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

We had to buy new uniform.

Lots of uniform. I never knew when we had 3 that it would involve so much time in the summer searching for trousers to fit, a skirt that passes Her rigorous level of approval and so many shirts that the thought of how many name tapes I have to sew in already makes my index finger sore, even though I haven't threaded the needle yet.
But we did make it to the Build A Bear Workshop for a little window shopping, and BHS for afternoon tea. Scone, strawberry jam and clotted cream. Yum.