Friday, 29 April 2011

Easter

I decided to try my hand at a little easter decorating. This is my easter tree which anybody who is anybody has these days. Basically, fake pussy willow branches with blown eggs hanging off them. Pointless? Yes. Pretty? Yes and cheaper than buying bunches of flowers each week.

 

I can't take credit for the beautifully painted eggs, they are in fact Lakeland's egg wraps. After I had blown the eggs, (all six of them courtesy of a big carbonara cooked by Craig) you put them in a plastic 'sleeve' then dunk them in boiling water for 30seconds where they shrink and turn out like this. With six designs to choose from and twenty four in a pack, worth every over priced penny.


This next decoration was a willpower disaster. One Kilner jar filled with three large bags of Cadbury's mini-eggs topped with a couple of furry chicks. Time spent on the mantlepiece? Three days... shameful and not helpful to the morbid obesity crisis raging in our house. Sadly for the girls I may never attempt that idea again.


Here is a smaller less disastrous version. Lots of design blogs seemed to have pottery Easter bunnies filled with eggs and fake grass. This was the best that I could do. It doesn't quite look like the classy 'Pottery Barn' candy dish but I love these vintage finds from eBay. 


I have probably mentioned the Easter bonnet before, here it is before going off to nursery to be 'judged'. I misguidedly thought that it was brilliant and we may be in with a shot at the coveted prize but Craig informed that he saw much better ones made 'from scratch'- miaow. Having seen some of the other 'toddlers' Easter creations I may just throw in the towel now, that's the competitive spirit.



After sleeping most of the day on Easter Sunday (following a night shift) I got up to quickly knock this up before Freya got up. She is still too young to do this herself before you think I am a killjoy. Then, we set about creating her Easter egg hunt.


Firstly, to select the prize. I do love Lindt chocolate.


Using a scan of one of the pictures from my vintage picture blocks, we sorted the very simple instructions. I love vintage images like this, they border on scary but remain saccharine sweet, clever.


We told Freya that the Easter bunny had left her something in the garden, thankgod for sunshine.


Et voila... I only had to substitute one egg that got found and then sucked by Moomin.



The golden bunny was tucked in with our seed potatoes.


Nanny came down to catch the last of the hunt and a glass of wine in the sun. You can just see Craig in the rear of the shot fettling with our bank holiday project, that's for another post though.


The long weekend was finished off perfectly with a picnic in the park with Nicola and Elodie. Unfortunately, Nick was away in France grafting on the holiday home while we munched rillette sandwiches and cakes off colourful plastic plates in the park.


All in all a great Easter, made all the more wonderful by preceding the next bank holiday weekend for the Royal Wedding. The girls have loved having Craig around and Freya has come on in leaps and bounds, literally. She is climbing up vertical ladders, climbing onto the roundabout and holding on in what looks like 3G conditions. Glad she's not a ponce.
 

Still loving macro mode on the camera, incidentally.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Running.

After I said that I was going to find time to do a run ... I did. There is a low point of the day, when the kids have just gone to bed, the ringing in your ears stops and the pace finally slows down. I always feel exhausted and need to have a restorative glass of wine. When the slump hit on tuesday, I dusted off the running tights and t-shirt, put my sports bra on- my boobs promptly exited over the side and under my arms (must buy one three sizes bigger) and headed down to the gym. It was very hard, my maximal heart rate was 170bpm and my arms were aching in what I can only imagine is an angina-y type way. Cooling down I couldn't get my heart rate below one hundred but we all start somewhere.


Currently, I am running five minutes then walking five and so on as per the instructions in my 'marathon class' book. It's basically a book that is adapted from a university module taught in one of the universities in America. Basically, they issued the applicants with a mini plan that would get them up to jogging for thirty minutes then they all started at a similar level. Then, they did four runs a week, one short, two medium and one long. The theory side was split up into physiology of running and the psychological aspects behind the mental training required to run a marathon. A really well rounded programme. I have done it once before to get me through two half marathons. Here is a shot of me, Sharon D and Dian, my Milton Keynes half marathon chums. This was the Preston 10K which we used as a warm up.


It gives me a confidence to know that following this plan, everyone who took the course achieved their goal, even older people, those in remission from cancer and some who had never run before.

It felt good to be at the gym. Treadmills have come a long way in three years. The one that I chose had a TV screen, ipod dock and a fan. Totally unnecessary as distance running is a bit about hardship and escapism not technology but I am shallow and did like the fan. The changing rooms were classy and clean. The only shame is that the sauna closes at nine which is too early for me to catch it, maybe if I get a baby sitter sometime I will be able to partake and burst some capillaries on my face.

When I returned home, I felt about ten years younger and so much better than if I had had that glass of wine. Just need to keep it up as there are so many demands on my time I don't know what to do first mostly. The weather has been so good I have started my garden bench project and want to get that finished so I may need to skip the gym just for this week... is that a slippery slope?


Here it is in it's old and busted state. I hope to have a lovely 'make do and mend' vintage inspired bench soon.

With the money I saved on a new bench, I have spied some things that I could treat myself to as a reward for continued gym attendance...




In unrelated matters, Freya made us smile today. Craig had sprayed me with a hose whilst watering the garden, I shouted "Oh Craig!", five minutes later Craig got Freya and she repeated the sentiment "Oh Craig"... I guess you had to be there but it was amusing to us, her looking so grown up in her new shades hollering her dad's name. Maybe my dad describing his Jeep as driving like 'Shit on a blanket' rather than the proverbial 'Shit off a shovel' will raise a chuckle. Must go to think about upcoming plans to get Olympic tickets.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Girls.

It seems a shame to always write about Freya when Edie is doing some really interesting things at the moment. Edie is now rolling from back to front and back again, she actually laughs whenever tickled under her arms and she is really having a good stab at talking. Craig is also impressed by her new found ability to eat. Gone are the days when we would smear food on the roof her mouth, now she comes at you for the food and chews it off the spoon, 'like parents, like daughter'. She seems to be thriving, moving into 6-9 month clothes already and I think she is probably teething.

 
It just feels like a real shame for her because when Freya was this age I was sat with her helping her to sit up but Edie just gets laid down on a blanket or put in a ring while I try and contain the whirling dervish. This is her current parking place in the garden under a gently swishing bush with a few trinkets tied in the branches.



However, she has got the advantage of having a mini role model and you can see the hero worship already.

One of the lovely things about Edie's age is her total appreciation and enjoyment of toys that you give her. She beams when in the presence of Sophie la giraffe or her new best friend 'Chat le Blanc'.


Don't ask me why all our toys have french names it just happened that way. Freya is much more hard work as she develops her own personality and enjoys exerting her will and negotiating.

Freya's toilet training has been a dream. She is now continent for days on end and it is usually my fault when we have accidents because I haven't seen the signs. The signs are pretty obvious... she sits and chants "don't wee, don't wee, don't wee" under her breath. I think the repeated prompting to toilet is driving us all a bit crazy. Freya trumped at the table the other day, I said "what do we say when we trump?" she replied "do you need a poo?". Unfortunately, that is what we say when she trumps, I was hoping for a "pardon me".

Freya has developed a real love of nature apart from constantly picking flowers in the park, much to my embarressment, here is a daffodil that succumbed while I was looking the other way on one of our walks.


Included in this shot is farmer Giles, a little figure that goes all over with Freya at the moment. You are guarranteed to get a smile out her if you cross your eyes these days. She has really enjoyed gardening and was helping her dad plant pea plants at the weekend.

Freya's take on the world is still amusing. We were insect watching the garden when we saw a bee on the Lilac tree, I said "he's taking a bit of a rest" she frowned and moved away "don't spit on my vest". And quite randomly the other day she saw a picture of a pig and asked where it's necklace was. I discovered one of her books that included farm animals with flower necklaces on a few days later. She maybe quirky but she's always right.

She has a pair of navy striped leggings that aunty Becky said made her look like Burgular Bill. She now wants "Burgular Bill legs" all the time now. She also has a particular love of her fleece, it is a bit like a comfort blanket. The fleece can be seen in these photos taken to show daddy what happens when mummy has to deal with the internet shop delivery on her own. At least it's only Nivea.





She is becoming more adventurous in the playground. She runs across the chain bridge and flies up the steps to the slide now. Hopefully she will be fearless like her cousin Aimee who we learned tonight has a plaster cast on for a fractured wrist. When we went to a 'Go Ape' in Grizedale, Aimee was desperate to go on the high wires but sadly, was too short.


I am hoping that Freya will have mastered peddling her tricycle by the time we all go away together in summer. I bought her a new bell for her second hand trike to get her interested. I may just attempt this as well. bicycle-bucket-tutorial.

Nursery is going really well, she loves her keyworker (sounds like an inmate) Briony and the feeling seems to be mutual. We pay a crazy amount of money for this childcare and still I get homework. At easter there is an easter egg hunt and an easter bonnet competition. Easter bonnet -check.

 

I actually cheated and this is a shop bought kit which me and aunty Becky put together one afternoon at nanny's. It is pimped somewhat with extra bits bought for my Easter decorations. Unfortunately, there is a garden party for the upcoming royal nuptials which I have to make a king or queen costume. Thank heaven I bought this book recently.


Ah well, it gives me an outlet for my creativity.

I can't talk about the Chambers girls without mentioning Moomin. Unfortunately, she seems to have fallen to the back of our list of priorities. Her walks are nowhere near as good as they used to be now that our walks are short enough for Freya to manage. I was considering 'outsourcing' and getting a dog walker in for a couple of days a week just to improve things for her- but funds won't allow at the moment. She still has a grand old time getting covered in crap on our daily bimbles round the park.

 
She never wants to stay in during the day, she is too busy eating bird seed off the floor. We have made an attempt to attract more birds to the garden this year, successfully, I might add but the downside is that Moomin is hoovering up fallen bird feed all day.

It's got so late again. I am off to bed to read this and work out where I can get the energy to go for a run from.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Together Again.

With families living so far apart these days, getting together is a rare and precious occurrence. We have just had a great mother's day weekend with Mum, Dad, Becky, Steve, Sally and the kids. 

It started out that Becky was going to bob down one weekend. Due to 'set' nursery days, I basically fulfill all my 25 contracted work hours between Wednesday night and Sunday day. When Becky said that she would be catching the train down on Thursday, there was nothingelse for it but to book a week of annual leave. I never thought that Steve would come up for a weekend, knowing that it is a long journey from Chislehurst especially during peak times on Friday. Happily, they all made the journey.

I spent Thursday furiously cleaning while mum took care of Edie and Freya went to nursery. I spent three hours cleaning what we call the 'pigroom'. The 'pigroom' was a term we used to use in 'The Barn', our house when we were younger. I think it was becasue it was the kids sitting room and mum had pictures of pigs on the wall and the name just stuck. The new pigroom is our breakfast room. It gets a lot of wear and tear. I ended up scrubbing the floors, washing the doorstops, painting the walls and making some Easter decorations. It was worth it in the end as it looked lovely and clean and we spent most of our weekend hanging out in here, eating and drinking tea.

 
About tea... Craig, Steve and Becky are prolific tea drinkers and I enjoy the odd second cup. There was only one thing for it, buy a large teapot for the upcoming festivities. My total joy at anything retro these days lead me to buy a shiny, brown ten cuppa teapot ("Just like Aunty Mabel"). It only cost six quid and unlike various others I have bought over the years, it didn't piss tea all over the table, it poured like a dream, finally, 'function over form'. The money I 'saved' on a teapot went on a Cath Kidston tea cosie, I am in denial how much I paid for it but I love it and she does make things to last. Here is a picture of my excessively hardworking teapot. I quickly made the pot rest using a granite placemat and my liquid chalk pen after the pot left a heat mark on it's maiden brew sat on my kitchen table.


Thursday evening was relaxed with a few bottles of wine, a spaghetti carbonara and discussions of infidelity (no one you know). Poor Becky had been here mere moments when she was faced with a pile of washing to hang out. We finally got to bed after three am. Craig discussed the idea of 'throwing a sicky' but being a contractor and not paid for sickness tends to motivate Craig to go work.

I intended to do a bit cooking on Friday and some last minute cleaning, however, when you already have one guest and two small children, all that goes out of the window. The raspberry sorbet or 'rocking horse shit' as we call it, would have to wait. Steve and Sally arrived after we had settled the kids and polished off a chinese. We had a few drinks in the kitchen, amusing Cameron and Aimee with the odd photo that popped up on our 'slideshow' screen saver. Craig in drag went down a storm.


Aimee disappeared up to nanny and grandad's to stay the night while Cam stayed at ours for the first night. Ice cold martinis were served in front of the log fire whilst we all caught up. Late on in the evening Craig came in to admit that he had eaten a load of 'white chocolate shavings' off the kitchen side which turned out to be the candle that I had trimmed earlier. Perfect start to the weekend, shame it was nearly three when we went to bed.

Saturday was quite leisurely. We sat round drinking tea while the kids chased about, up to nanny and grandad's and out with the dogs.






 
Preparing a Sunday lunch for ten was a little stressful because Craig was tied up in the kitchen and I felt frazzled trying to keep the kids amused and set the table. Note to self... get silverware polished before big Mother's day meal. Once we were all sat down, the stress abated, however, I was on my knees after dinner so Craig kindly put me to bed while everyone rushed about putting small children to bed and washing up. I awoke to 'Ironman 2' and some prosecco.

 
Supper involved cheese and biscuits and I fannied around trying to put some goat's cheese, caramelised red onion chutney and rocket tarts together. I bought this brilliant invention from Lakeland after a friend had recommended it and I love using it. It's the little wooden dibber that makes the tarts so easy, you just dump little splodges of pastry in and the dibber does the rest.

 
I would have been quicker getting them ready if I hadn't been attempting a gluten-free shortcrust pastry. I had just finished mixing up three different types of flour, potato, rice and tapioca (as per Phil Vickery's instructions) when I discovered I didn't have any cooking margarine... bollocks. Oh well, 'Flour Mix A' would have to go into buttermilk muffins in the morning. 


Sunday involved more relaxed sitting round sipping tea, I did a little bit of baking. We sent all our mother's day cards up to nanny by Cameron-mail.


I got a two beautiful bunches of flowers, one from Craig and one from the girls. Craig's bouquet was absolutely gorgeous, just like you would see in a magazine, unfortunately they smelt like a nursing home managing to smell of urine and musty furniture at the same time.


Sally got a beautiful card from Aimee, whose verse really made us all smile.

 
I didn't manage to get out of my dressing gown before the southern 'chapter' of the family departed in their rather flash, electric sliding door Mazda. We managed to get a nice group photo before they left which I usually forget to do. Me and Becky are still in pyjamas but you can't have everything.


The rest of the day was whiled away with a walk in the park with nanny and all the dogs. Freya managed to bag herself a new toy that we wrestled out from between some rocks.


I think of this as the earth achieving equilibrium seeing as how we lost Edie's tiger in the park a few days before.

 
Back to earth with a bump. Monday has involved a coil insertion for me (ouch), vaccinations for Edie (ouch, ouch, ouch) and the loss of our beloved aunty Becky (going home, not dying) who Freya has become really attached to. They even bunked in together last night.

 
Life returns to normal.