May 25th, 2011 by Lisa

Like Clair, I am not being put off by a lack of a theme. Today: random food witterings. Since my gorgeous weekend at Mamaheaven, I have been thinking about improving our diet – since having Jenny we have slipped rather into the fishfingers and oven chips mode; she’s 17 months now and the excuse doesn’t really cut it any more. After scoffing all the chocolate, to get it out of the way, I have been sprouting seeds on the windowsill in a special seed-sprouty jar, and adding spirulina to random fruit smoothies. I made spelt pastry! (All of which is aided by my campaign to use up things from the cupboard, pre-move.) I took some books from the library, most useful of which has been the Accidental Vegetarian, from which I have tried 4 or 5 recipes so far. Just this morning I discovered, serendipitously, that it is national vegetarian week: coincidentally, I haven’t cooked meat since last Thursday.

So far this week: gnocchi with rosemary ragu (7/10 – would have been better with a bit of bacon); fried halloumi with vinaigrette, brown rice and steamed greens (8/10); Italian bean stew (8/10); blueberry pancakes, which oddly contained cottage cheese (8/10). Scores mine as I suspect my carnivorous family might score slightly lower – though the kids really loved the halloumi and they always like a beany stew. I am going to make aubergine chilli tonight then head to yoga…

(Garden notes)

March 13th, 2011 by Lisa

Today we sowed one square of block-sown peas and one of broad beans, in the front bed which has been manured. In modules: cucumber, pumpkin, tromboncino squash, shiso, aubergines – two types, cavolo nero. The garden has been well-tidied and swept, and there is a new cover on the greenhouse.


March 3rd, 2011 by Lisa

I ordered some, um, kits from Clothkits in their January sale – cutting and paper patterns is the bit of learning to sew I am most intimidated by, so I thought these would let me practise sewing a bit before I had to do any of that. And here is Jenny in a pretty green pinny; I had to make buttonholes and most exciting of all figured out how to sew on a button using my machine. Given that my usual approach to an off button is to ignore the garment for several months before sliding it into a charity bag, this could change my life!

One mystery remains, which doesn’t appear to be solved in any of my newly bought books: I asked Earthenwitch, who muttered something about folding it tightly or chopping a bit off. (I am considering demoting her from sewing guru, to be honest.) You know when you need to make a hem on a flarey thing, like the skirt of this here pinafore? So the foldy up hemmy bit is wider than the skirty bit to which it is destined to be attached? What does one do with the excess material? The underside of this dress must never be looked at by anybody who knows, because I just sort of made some creasey tucky bits and sewed over them hard.

The back of it is here.

Kneading and ritting

February 17th, 2011 by Lisa

(Or, yarn along from small things – where you post what you are reading and knitting with, I hope, no requirement to be able to do both simultaneously.)

Books and needles

The small dull-blue pretty thing on gorgeous wooden needles will one day in the distant future, I hope, be a river shawl. I cast it on approximately 800 years ago, its leisureliness caused by being a pattern that requires attention, ie I can’t do it in front of the telly. The long, long grey thing at the front will one day be a shrug for me. I love the yarn (Rowan lima, all sort of braidedy plaity instead of twisted, soft and cuddly and yum); I can do the pattern with my eyes closed* after so many many miles of it. However, as it is so very long now, it is hardly portable, so the very bright ball of Noro towards the back there is about to start being turned into small, portable, socks. This represents a paradigm shift for me as I have scoffed at the idea of knitting socks: Karen, I apologise.

Reading-wise: a large pile of sewing and knitting magazines – I basically went into Hobbycraft and bought one of each in a bid to work out which are me and long-term stop wasting money on magazines full of patterns for old-lady cardies. Time will tell whether it works. “The shipping news”, which I started before (like, 10 years ago) and hated so gave up.  I then watched and adored the film, so I am giving it a second chance. And “delusions of gender” which is fascinating, such that I keep reading bits out to anybody who will pay attention. (Jenny is very interested.)

*I can’t really, I can’t even do it and read: I can do it while listening to and keeping half an eye on a television programme. Cameron doesn’t mind at all when I make him rewind because I forgot to pay attention for a bit. No not at all.


February 14th, 2011 by Lisa

This is my First Proper Thing made with the sewing machine, apart from a couple of scrunchies. I followed the instructions in this oddly titled pamphlet (“I can’t believe I’m sewing!”) for a baby blanket, but added a layer of wadding, batting, whatever you call it, between cotton and fleece. For extra pouffiness (or, as I believe one would say if one knew what one was talking about, loftiness. Or just “loft”. Have yet to learn to speak sewing.) Hence it being a “quinket”; not quite quilt – although I did sew along the edges of the squares in a quilty fashion, the edges were just turned over not bound with scary bias  binding – not quite blanket.

Top Ten Tuesday: things I could do without

February 8th, 2011 by Lisa

Or, an excuse for a great big whinge about trivial annoyances (from Sluiter Nation)

1. Cameron being away all the time. It’s either feast or famine here; we are in a famine just now. My ideal would be for him to be away one or maybe two nights a week (if he’s here all the time I never get to watch “my programmes” – currently Glee, Lewis and Baking Made Easy – and I never spend an evening reading in peace. If he’s away all the time the house gradually goes to pieces and I go with it.) Actually, my ideal is for him to get home from work nice and early, be here until the children are all in bed, and then go out. A couple of times a week.

2. Cameron visiting interesting and exotic places and staying in lovely hotels where nobody (I assume!) wakes him up four times a night, demands to have their covers put back on, wants a drink of water, or sneaks in and warms their feet on him. And yes I know about the jetlag and the meetings and the public speaking and the flights and the airports and and and, and yes this one is pure envy. But I haven’t been anywhere for 5 years.

3. School runs in any weather apart from pleasantly warm, blue skies, light breeze.

4. Trial by ballet on a Wednesday.

5. Tedious manuscripts.

6. Dog owners who don’t pick up after their dogs (I am going to have to go and wash Tamsin’s scooter when I have typed this).

7. Trying to sell the house.

8. Clearing under the highchair after every single meal

9. Tamsin and Jenny playing a plastic saxophone/recorder duet behind me as I try to deal with #5.

10. Sleepless nights.

A song by Tamsin

February 7th, 2011 by Lisa

Go to sleep Jenny-wrenny
Jenny go to sleep
Shut your eyes
(repeat at random for ages)
There’s a plastic beeeeeach
And it has plastic on
And frolicks in the ocean in a land called honalee
(repeat lines about Jenny going to sleep until your mother wants to weep)

From baby to toddler

February 1st, 2011 by Lisa

She walks! Only a couple of metres unaided, and very wobbly at that, but give her a little finger to hold and she can do the full length of the house. She is safe up and down stairs (though I still have kittens if she tries to combine the two, walking and stairs). She climbs on anything that is left accessible, favourite being the wobbly old wooden chair in the kitchen.

She talks! Nana (banana); mama (me); gong-gong-gong (no idea); uh-oh (I have thrown my dinner/the clean washing on the floor); gak-gak (the noise a duck makes)

She plays! She rocks a baby doll and bangs drums. Favourite is anything that has beepy tunes and/or flashy lights:  no waldorf child, this. She disappears upstairs for hours with the big girls: they play Barbies, I have no idea what she does.

She points! Most forcefully, we are left in no doubt that what she needs is That Thing There.

She doesn’t sleep! She eats on a pattern best known to herself! When she does, she loves minestrone soup, bananas, shepherds pie, and thinks egg is weird.

Meet me Monday

January 25th, 2011 by Lisa

I’m all about the memes just now – so am joining in with the “for the love of blogging” week-long project (probably: you know me, am unlikely to manage all week) hosted at Sluiter Nation. Which means that, ahem, yesterday I was supposed to introduce myself.
I can’t believe a soul will read this who doesn’t already know me: how blogging has changed since those halcyon days of blogrolls and webrings! I’ve been here and previously here since 2002, on and off. Very on to  begin with: I was child-poor time-rich and we were living abroad. I got tired of writing variations on the same emails to lots of different people (yes we had email in those days, cheeky – but not skype, no) so I had a bit of a look about to see if I could figure out a way to share our adventures online. And discovered blogs.
We’ve been back in Blighty since the end of 2004 and in the interim years have become child-rich time-poor; also and sadly it must be said that Chester, nice as it is, is significantly less exciting than Tokyo so I don’t find myself with daily adventures to share. I still like my blog but I don’t have a niche these days: I can’t be a mummy blogger because everybody else does that better (plus I have no Philosophy beyond doing what has to be done) – yet frankly, what else do I do. So sporadic wittering is what it is all about. The archives are fun though, I promise 🙂
This .me.uk site has been a work in progress for several years now but what can I say – see note above about time. I do have one other linked page up and running, which is my reading list.

Saturday, three children no husband

January 22nd, 2011 by Lisa

(who left for China at an exceedingly unnecessary 4 am, just as I settled the baby back to sleep for the I-don’t-know-how-manyth time)

6.30 – M awake: the tooth fairy has been (hooray!) but not replied to her note (boo!) go back to bed it is still night time {brief argument about why Tamsin is in my bed but asleep and whether the baby is still asleep – answer she was until you came down}.
7.00 – give up, all downstairs for breakfast and telly.
8.00 – Jenny has a rather lovely toy, a “discovery cylinder” – basically a portable hidey hole that she is supposed to put soft stuffed shapes in and out of. Just retrieved my car key, an old shrivelled bit of cucumber and 4 raisins.
9.00 – come on come on come on we have things to do! Co-op (croissants, paper, blueberries, cash); market (ice cream, bacon, steak, bread, tea cakes no we don’t need fairy cakes today; yes they are very pretty; yes I see them); home to put ice cream in freezer; costa coffee (where I remembered I had forgotten to eat breakfast myself so had some toast, what an excellent scheme). I can’t imagine what possessed me to think that would be a pleasant and civilised start to the weekend: not only was the only available paper the Mail (eurgh), the children hoovered their babyccinos in record time then set about being slightly too loud for the poor chap at the next table who clearly did like a civilised start to his weekend. They weren’t bad, they were just not operating at coffee-shop volume. Hobbycraft, where some sort of financial shift in the time-space continuum ensures I never come out without spending 20 quid, despite only needing some elastic. Tumbletots for Tamsin: I did actually read a bit of my paper, Jenny ate cereal and practised walking (just a few steps at a time, from chair to table to chair to table to chair…), Maggie read and coloured. Rather relaxing actually, despite the squawking recorders in the next room.
12.00 – home, exhausted. J asleep, girls have a plan: let’s play with barbies all afternoon! Which means their bedroom will look like a barbie bomb has gone off (and for some reason the bathroom is invariably flooded) but on the bright side I have peace and quiet which I feel I have earnt.
1.30 – I seem to have spent an hour on the PC without even opening the manuscript I intended to finish today. Microwaved leftover takeaway for me (momentarily glad C is away so I don’t have to share!); boiled eggs and soldiers for the big girls. J still asleep.
3.30 – dishwasher unloaded/filled; pots washed; laundry on tumbledrier on clean laundry folded ironing done; kitchen wiped down and swept (only because I had the news quiz on – otherwise wouldn’t have bothered as I am planning to have the kids make tea); Jenny’s entire breakfast and lunch picked up off the floor. Nice cup of tea with paper…3, 2, 1 Muuum!
5.00 – have finally opened up that word file, although I don’t have to listen very carefully to hear the wine plaintively calling my name from the fridge. When Cameron is about, we often don’t drink at all apart from at weekends (and there is a Wednesday ballet exclusion clause if necessary). When he is away I mostly have one glass around teatime every evening.
8.00 – One baby asleep (which is fortunate, as daddy has put her to bed since early December – wasn’t at all sure I could remember how); two big girls in bed in a reasonably barbieless bedroom; one manuscript near-as-damnit finished. One glass of wine drunk; homemade pizzas consumed. Washing dishes can wait until tomorrow. I am off duty!