Friday, February 29, 2008

Hummingbird Cupcakes

Had another culinary adventure this morning - off to Norwich this weekend to see my sister (she was going to come to Ipswich but we're taking the opportunity to get out of the house while we still can - I know L's going a bit stir crazy now so a change of environs is called for!) so I thought I'd make some cakes to take with us.

L has a great cupcake book which I has used before successfully (apple and cinnamon swirl cupcakes) even though all the measurements are in US. There is a conversion guide in the book, but fortunately we've also got "cup" sized measuring pot things so could follow the recipe without too much messing about. The Hummingbird cupcakes were fairly straightforward to make (although I'm saying this not having yet tried one!) and there's just the cream cheese frosting to go on. Here's a piccie so far...


Was intrigued by the combination of ingredients - banana, pecans and pineapple are apparently what make up a hummingbird cake. Had a quick trawl through the interwebs...but it appears there is no definitive explanation as to how it got its name, although seems to be incredibly popular. The most suggested explanation appears to be to do with the sweetness of the ingredients and the sweetness of a hummingbird's diet. There is another suggestion that it was because people hummed while they made it... I am more dubious about that one! Southern Living magazine Feb 1978 is credited with its first appearance and there are numerous websites displaying the recipe now - also found a very interesting site called Food Timeline which you can email for free with any questions about food history. Here's the entry for hummingbird cake.

Also cooking related - watched the final of Masterchef last night. Agreed whole-heartedly with the judges' decision to award the prize to James. Started me wondering though how much time the contestants actually have between rounds of the competition and final and whether, for example, they have a few days to perfect the recipes they produce themselves in the kitchens. Found this blog from Ben, the cheese shop guy who got to the final last year (you have to scroll about half way down to get to the Masterchef stuff). Quite an interesting read, and although there is some time for them to prepare, it does also sound as though the tests come fairly quickly on top of each other.

And just in case you're wondering about the other 2 finalists, I've also located the blogs of Hannah and Steven.

Some sound advice

"If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the things is cats."

Lemony Snicket
The Wide Window

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lost Abilities

Bought some tasty cheese on Monday - double Gloucester with onions and chives. Yum. Been enjoying this on the final few crackers left over from Christmas, but (and sadly I suspect this is not baby related), I appear to have lost the ability to eat crackers, or anything else even vaguely crumbly come to that) without showering my chest and boob area with crumbs. Right down the front of my bra. Very annoying - perhaps I should stop wearing all those boobtastic tops...

Out in town today and saw a car from a local driving school called "L ABILITY." I managed to read it as "LIABILITY" - not too far off???


I'm starting to get a little concerned about my emotional state as the pregnancy draws to a close. I had thought I was doing quite well - no frequent mood swings or massive hormonal outbursts (except perhaps for new year's eve, ahem) - although that's my view and L may well say something different... I would say that I am not usually someone to let my emotions get the better of me - not crying at my own wedding is something which is often mentioned by L! (although a good film can get me going)

But the last couple of days have been weird - watched Ballet Shoes from Christmas and got really weepy during a couple of bits because I thought certain things were going to happen (they didn't in the end) and then yesterday got weepy (although not so bad) during The Strictly Come Dancing story when they did the round up of all the past winners at the end. Yes really. This is not good.

It has happened randomly before - I think it was after my first year at uni and I didn't have a TV in my room there so I was deprived of watching all the usual crap I like (the TV room was awful and the only thing I ever managed to see on a regular basis was ER as it seemed to be football all the way otherwise!). Got home at the end of the year and I remember watching a really awful game show at home, the player won the big prize and was over the moon - I was so happy for them I was sobbing for some time. Goodness knows what I'll be like when the baby's born...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

An observation

There are at least 3 shops in town which have their maternity/baby sections upstairs. I realise they're probably not the most used parts of the shops, but given who their main shoppers are going to be, only one has a lift, the other 2 have escalators up (well, one of them has, the other you can access if you go in through the next door shopping centre entrance which has an escalator) but not down. Stairs are equally as difficult each way for me and if you're trying to manage a pushchair and numerous other small children as well... not the most convenient!

Organ Donation

Saw this entry and information on one of my friend's blogs and I think it's so important it's worth repeating here. Have been a blood donor now for a good few years - ever since me and another girl were dragged down to the Blood Donation centre in Nottingham by another friend at uni...who then couldn't give blood herself because her iron levels were too low!

Obviously can't give blood at the moment because of the bump (and for 9 months after birth) L has a chance of catching me up as otherwise I'm way ahead of him for donations!!

But I've always been happy with the idea of donating my organs, should anything happen to me and have had several conversations with L about it. It suppose you could say it's a bit morbid to think about, but I'm sure that dealing with death and Wills at work on a daily basis has made me more aware of the issues and that the earlier you sort them out and the clearer you are with your wishes, the easier it can be for families dealing with horrible decisions at a horrible time.

Here's the link if you're not strongly anti... Thanks Niles.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Another Monday...

another ante-natal check up. All seems to be in order - blood pressure, weight and baby's heartbeat all fine. Baby lying with back to my left side and head well down so in a good position. As I have no ongoing health issues, no appointment needed next week and scarily the next one the midwife booked me in for is on 10th March. My due date is 8th March. I could be with baby by the time it comes round! That is a scary thought indeed, but also quite exciting! Other than that pregnancy wise things have been quiet - the ice cravings have waned (although whether that's just the psychological impact of knowing that I am taking iron supplements combined with the effect of the article I read...who's to say?) but the Braxton Hicks contractions have been working up a storm in my tummy. No sign of the real thing yet. I need to get to the weekend for two reasons anyway - do not want baby's birthday to be 29th Feb (apologies to anyone out there whose birthday is leap day and they love it!) and L's mum's in Lanzarote until Thursday.

Basket of spring flowers arrived unexpectedly from my mother this morning ...


...and she is apparently sending on some more carrycot sheets she has been fashioning from other bigger sheets. Also, she's finally had broadband set up and now has email! This has taken some years to accomplish.

Today has also seen the cleaning of the bathroom, making of another batch of yummy yoghurt and am now settling down to watch Ballet Shoes which we recorded at Christmas. Richard Griffiths is so huge. Saw him in The History Boys last week (also recorded from Christmas)...just as huge.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Just a quickie

Just trying to squeeze in a quick blog while L gets dinner ready - I'm supposed to be looking at Alhambra expansions on the Geek, and I've got a tab opened up for it ready.... Played 3 games this afternoon - I did abysmally at Alhambra...even Dirk beat me! I could blame it on starting to feel quite queasy during the afternoon - but that appears to have been down to lack of a proper lunch (I thought I could manage on a cheese scone and pear after my lovely scrambled eggs and mushrooms breakfast - but sadly it was not to be) - toast and marmalade has sorted me out! Pork chops and lemon sponge pudding for dinner - I love having a husband who cooks!!!

Car Park Machines

In a stunning display of lack of forethought and planning today paid for a £2.80 car park ticket with a £20 note. Yes the machine accepted notes in payment of fees. No the machine did not give out notes in change...I have very heavy pockets!

On another note, this appears to be my 200th Blog!! Hurrah!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Pregnancy update

We have been taking a few pictures of the progress of the bump (although not regularly) and here we go...

August 4th (approx 9 weeks)


October 27th (approx 21 weeks)


December 1st (approx 26 weeks)


December 16th (approx 28 weeks)


December 25th (approx 29 weeks - yes I am being forced to do the washing up!)


January 23rd (approx 33 weeks - note the washing up theme!)


...and finally today! 38 weeks tomorrow...


Not long to go now.

My husband is skiving work, sitting by me readingg

The electricity man has been and gone (and completed a very nifty and efficient removal of our old "spinning wheel of death" meter and replaced with new digital meter), and the health visitor has also visited. Left some useful leaflets and an NHS book called "Birth to Five" which looks as though it will be really helpful. Apparently I should have also received the "Pregnancy" volume from the midwife...but no show on that!

The health visitor will basically take over looking after us and the baby once the midwife's remit finishes at about 10 days. Health visitors are all trained nurses, and will be looking after us until our child starts school, at which point a school nurse takes over. There appears to be somewhat of a shortage of health visitors in the area, so we won't get many fixed visits after the first few months, but she emphasised that they're only a phone call away and will always come out and see us if we need help. That is very reassuring! I had thought she would want to look round the house, check where the baby's going to sleep etc, but she didn't - just took some basic details and brief medical histories for each of us and our respective sides of the family.

Had last ante-natal Parent Craft class last night which was pretty good and covered a wide selection of topics - induced labour, forceps, ventouse...all those nice things, but also bathing and putting baby to bed, a bit on breast feeding and we finally watched a video called "the Social Baby" demonstrating how babies are ready to communicate and be social right from birth. Oh so looking forward to meeting my little one now!

Also had an exciting parcel delivery this morning - 10 Kinsey Millhone books and 2 surprise matinee jackets from friends in Nottingham. Fantastic! Sadly this means that Don Quixote may need to be shelved for now - I'm only about 80 pages through this weighty tome. I thought I would be all literate and clever by reading it after it's closely referred to in The Shakespeare Secret (also recently read), and I have had a copy for many years now "meaning to get round to reading it" but....haven't really got into the swing of it yet, so I'll have to try and return to it between Kinsey, Dr Who and the Series of Unfortunate Events books which I'm also working through!

Finally, just been out to the shop to get out of the house for today and bought a KitKat for each of us to have with a mug of tea - L has just found the holy grail of the KitKat world - a completely chocolate finger. Mmmmmm.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Today's round up

Was just about to start blogging when there came a knock at the door - a deaf Polish girl trying to sell me a drawing. I didn't buy one. Ho hum, only another half hour to fill to Diagnosis Murder. L's been finding things for me to do - this morning I dismantled the old office chair (as BT have sent him a new exciting one - all mod cons and bells and whistles) and counted out the components of his newly arrived game Hero Quest. Only one piece missing as expected (it's a second hand game).

Have also been to Mothercare this morning and bought what will hopefully be the final part of our armoury (at least until we know what sex the baby is and how big it is) - a baby bath! All now washed and clean. We also got sidetracked at the baby clothes again and bought another sleepsuit - the excuse being that it is another one without feet so can be used at the hospital...

This afternoon I'm planning to sort out some kind of labour timetable chart (?) so that L has a ready reckoner of when he needs to be taking me into hospital. The midwives keep saying don't come in too early, but I guess that once things start, it might be difficult to stay at home, because we will just want to know what's going on in there! Last ante-natal Parent Craft class tonight as well.

Tomorrow's looking exciting - man from British Gas is coming to change the electricity meter (as the old one is now at the end of its life), and health visitor also due for an ante-natal check. I have no idea what to expect from that - the title "health visitor" still seems to conjure up negative associations, although my cousin's wife reckons that they're completely different now and she got on really well with hers.

That's it for now - time for a quick Hanjie methinks. Okay, that sounds more dirty than it actually is...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ice cravings

Having another lazy day today - catching up with some TV on BBC's iPlayer, which is great - although I have had some problems with it stopping while it continues to download - watched Masterchef from last night (which we missed due to a tryout of L's new games San Juan and the Carcassonne Traders and Builders expansion - little pig meeples, but an abysmal performance by me as I completely ignored the farmer effect and L scored a whopping 220-odd!), and am in the middle of Being Human, which was a one-off pilot on BBC3. I'm enjoying it, although only 15 minutes in and waiting for another blockage to clear. May have to restart it and fast-forward to where I got to. This afternoon am planning to re-pack my hospital bag (since it appears that the hospital do in fact have towels which I can use and that will save some room in the first already too-full bag...) - oh the excitement!!!

Had another ante-natal class yesterday - this time on breathing and relaxation. As well as learning breathing and relaxation techniques for getting me through the contractions, we also discussed good posture and positions for me to try to get the baby in the right position (ie head down and its back on my left side) and the head to engage. Have been trying a few out this morning, but the sitting backwards over a chair is now starting to get a bit achy - not to mention the bump is pretty squashed against the chair back!

I had previously thought that I hadn't really had any cravings during the pregnancy, but am now starting to wonder if in fact ice was/is one. It's only been noticeable the last few weeks, but I now have to have ice in my drinks (sometimes having a glass of water to get to the ice...) and I rarely let it melt completely before having a crunch. Someone at work mentioned they'd had a similar craving, and I had a bit of a trawl on the internet to see if there was any particular mention of it and found this article. Interestingly, the last 2 blood tests I had showed I was slightly anaemic so perhaps there is something to it?? On Pregaday tablets now to hopefully sort out my iron levels so will wait and see if this has any affect on the ice situation.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Approaching geekdom...

I am slightly worried about my general geekness status. It started badly with borrowing Doctor Who books from one of my friends, I have also been indulging in the many and various graphic novels L has bought over the years, and have more than a passing acquaintance with various superhero backstories and lore, not to mention a lot of things murder mystery related and a bit of Star Trek...Mario...Nintendo/Wii-related stuff...

It is not getting any better and is in fact now extending to board games - L mocked me for "using the word 'meeple' in general parlance" (see the blog about Carcassonne...) - and I'll leave it up to you to make your own minds up about his use of the word 'parlance' (!) - and this afternoon when we couldn't resolve a token retrieval query in Thebes, I suggested (yes, me) looking it up on The Geek.

Whooopsie. Although I will probably not get too concerned until I reach the point that I can identify the Star Trek episode (from any one of the series except Enterprise) from a ten second or so excerpt. And recite the entire plot of the episode. You know who you are.

Blogs of Note

Having a look at another one today - some people do indeed have too much time on their hands...

Balloon Fashion show

78 points!

Played Carcassonne with the Inns and Cathedrals expansion last night. L worked out quickly that getting a cathedral into a rival's city which they are unlikely to finish is a good sabotage move as a partially completed city with a cathedral scores no points at the end (whereas a partially completed city without a cathedral does).

Within the first few tiles of the game we were fighting over supremacy in a new city and desperately trying to make sure that our two bits of cities joined up to share the points. I managed somehow to block out Leigh's third meeple, which left me with 3 men and him with 2 in the city. He gave up trying to muscle in on the pointage action and instead tried desperately to sabotage my plans by adding a cathedrals and other big city pieces in an attempt to make the city unfinishable. But he was foiled! Marvel at the wonder of the 78 point city!!! See the cathedral! See the shield pieces!


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Funny, But No: Rejected Valentine's cards

Idly looking through the first "Blog of Note" on the Blogger homepage - Shoebox Blog - came across this ...


Well, after the last thrilling installment, you may (or may not) be pleased to learn that the brownies did in fact turn out pretty nice (despite a lack of choc chips in them!) and even better smothered in custard! They are now all gone...


A couple of busy days just gone - cleaned the oven on Thursday and then went out for a Valentines Day lunch the The Vanilla Pod in town. Delicious - I had Welsh rarebit followed by Guiness braised beef and L had tomato and sweet pepper soup followed by sea bass. Yum, but sadly no room for pudding.

Spent most of the afternoon reading (The Shakespeare Secret and a brilliant graphic novel version of The Big Four (V Day present) - I have now ordered the rest of the series!) and then dozing and sadly drooling on the sofa....

Had another ante-natal class in the evening - much shorter this time, just a quick look round the delivery suites and the maternity ward at Ipswich hospital. There are 3 wards servicing the needs of birthing and post birth mothers and babies and we had a look round the quiet one. Strangely made me more nervous than the 2 hour step by step description of labour and birth we had last week!

Yesterday went over to see my cousin's wife in St Neots and collect some baby bits from her - including a huge bag of clothes! We shall not be wanting for vests...but a fun afternoon ahead sorting those out. Meanwhile, L's board game empire is slowly expanding with a Ticket to Ride - Switzerland expansion, Carcasonne Inns and Cathedrals expansion and a new game called Elasund arriving this week. Tackled Elasund and Ticket to ride last night - both pretty good, although all I dreamt about last night was bloody board games! We were playing Elasund in every dream I had that I can remember! L thinks this is a good sign...I'm not so sure.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fishy ambition

Felt completely sapped of energy yesterday - didn't really do much other than sit on the sofa, finish my Doctor Who book, and watch crap on TV! Went out to post some letters in the afternoon, but that was it for venturing out - and spent all day in jogging bottoms...lovely and comfy.

Today much better - got out into town and sat for a while in Starbucks enjoying a cup of tea and a cake! Wrapped the Valentine's day presents and made sure that we're booked up for lunch tomorrow and that the Mother's Day flowers I thought I had ordered yesterday were in fact ordered! Watched the end of "Shall We Dance" this afternoon (lovely, lovely) and have just made brownies. Unfortunately it appears that of the 3 recipes I have for brownies, I've used the wrong one, so they may in fact be vile. Oh well.

So that's been my exciting day - except to say that I spent a happy hour this morning looking at the Wikipedia entries for some of my favourite TV programmes - Quantum Leap, The Crystal Maze, Knightmare... and following a link for Hugo Myatt (Treguard to the uninitiated) turned up an interesting fact... he apparently has a burning ambition (note that, not just any old ambition, but a burning one!) to one day play Captain Haddock, whom he resembles. Yes.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Spreading the load

I have a list of jobs to do while I'm on maternity leave and I've been trying to spread them out across the weeks. Today's tasks included cleaning the bathroom, shortening the curtains in L's work room and phoning the health visitor. All done.

Also met one of my old school friends for lunch in town - it was great to have the time to do that and to catch up with her. Then appointment with the midwife who seemed to cock up taking some blood from me leaving me with a lovely bruise on my arm!

Now watching the third "Who do you think you are" we have saved on the Vision box from last year... It's Griff Rhys Jones looking at old railway records at the moment. He met up with a "railway enthusiast" to glean some more information - oh dear. Now I don't like to stereotype, but if I just say that the enthusiast was wearing slightly too short trousers, white socks, had very thick glasses and was carrying a clipboard (I kid you not)...well, I'll just leave the rest to your imaginations...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Long time, no see

It has really been an age since I last blogged and so much has happened - particularly pregnancy-wise. Last time I blogged, L and I knew, but we had decided to wait until the all important 12-week scan (confirming that it was in fact a baby inside and not just trapped wind...) before letting everyone know. It was really difficult keeping it quiet - especially from family, but we felt happier knowing that we had at least got to 12 weeks, up until when, miscarriages can still be quite usual as there is little the medics can do to prevent them. What also made it particularly hard was that during that first 12 week slot, we had various family "dos" (my sister's wedding...L's 30th birthday party...L's aunt's 50th birthday party...) at which nothing could be said and we had to come up with various sneaky plans and reasonings as to why I wasn't drinking at any of them!!!

But 12 weeks safely came and went and the first scan showed no problems. Told everyone, then the next big stage was the 20-week scan. By this time we had spent a couple of weeks in Florida (!) and I was getting worried that I wasn't big enough and hadn't felt (or at least hadn't recognised anything I had felt) as being the baby moving around. But the scan was again absolutely fine, all measurements safely within the average brackets. It was really amazing how much could be seen on the scan - they can check length of bones, positioning and shape of the main organs and also the chambers and major blood vessels of the heart! Was really quite incredible.

And now, somehow we've made it to 36 weeks! I'm on maternity leave from work (which quite frankly couldn't come quick enough after Christmas...tiredness really starting to hit me), L has started working from home, we've had the first couple of ante-natal classes (I am still trying to work out whether the 2 hours of explaining labour has reassured or terrified me further...!), I've been to see my friend from high school who had a baby in September and feel better now I know that she is coping and still seems normal (!) and I feel absolutely huge! Definitely beached whale territory.

Physically, finding things much more difficult - I am getting out of breath incredibly quickly, which isn't helped by the fact that the little one keeps wanting to stretch its legs out just underneath my ribcage (!) and can no longer put on socks, knickers or trousers without sitting down! Getting in and out of bed...the the sofa....also proving to be a challenge on occasions, and I seem completely incapable of sitting in one position for more than about 20 minutes at a time. L is being incredibly patient (although am slightly concerned at some of the things about "mummy" he has been whispering to the bump!).

The nursery is now almost ready as well - we have most of the big things we need now (like somewhere for the baby to sleep and a car seat to get it home from the hospital!) but we've tried to hold back from buying too many clothes until we know whether it's a boy or a girl and how big it is! I have been steadily washing through everything we have so far - and we're going to try the Mothercare Smart Nappy (which has disposable and washable liners) so have been washing those as well. I think we're nearly ready?????!

Midwife appointment tomorrow and then a tour of the hospital maternity ward on Thursday in the antenatal class. And hopefully plenty of time to now catch up with some blogging!

Oh, and other than that, L has become obssessed with board games - spends a lot of time on "the Geek"! Fortunately so far he has been choosing games which I actually stand a chance of matching/beating him at. Thank you!!! See what we did last weekend...