Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What's a 'convenient?'

Saw this on a (sadly closed) shop in Long Eaton the other day. Has given me the chance to finally use the cable which downloads photos from my phone to my computer (and hence apologies for the poor quality of the piccie!), and to reflect on these modern times in which it appears than noone is is need of a 'convenient' any longer....

Friday, June 26, 2009


I have a confession to make. I have done something which is wrong and dirty and my entire being resisted it. But I was weak and gave into peer pressure. I have bought a pair of Itsarap trousers from the Ideal World shopping channel. I am shamed.

Let me explain. I am finding that my pregnancy bump is coming along a lot quicker second time around and the maternity clothes have now made an appearance. However last time I was pregnant, I didn't really start getting a bump until October and then gave birth in March. It's June and I need bigger waisted trousers, but apart from one pair of combats, my trouser wear is jeans. (I do have two pairs of sweat pants, but they are for inside days only!).

The weather is too hot for jeans. Especially if you are doing a lot of walking around pushing a buggy. Sweaty gusset is all I'm saying. So I have been on the lookout for some maternity shorts. These do not appear to exist. I have been to Asda and Tesco, neither of which stock any maternity clothes, New Look, Dorothy Perkins and Next, none of which seem to have any shorts. Apparently pregnant women wish to wear denim mini skirts and black leggings with lovely gold zips in the summer, but not shorts.

So I've tried the internet, and my usual shopping places have also been disappointing. I'm looking for light material (ie NOT denim) in a crop trouser sort of length, but am finding very few pairs of these - everything is above the knee (my knees are not pleasant) or made of denim. Bah.

That's the background. Yesterday I found myself strangely drawn to the Itsarap trousers on Ideal World which we saw a bit of at tea time. They looked loose, flowing, easy to manage and apparently fit every size from 6/8 right up to the 20's. The thing which got me though was that they showed a clip of a pregnant woman wearing them proclaiming how light, and comfy and cool they are.

I resisted, I really did. The idea of buying from a shopping channel just seemed wrong somehow - I didn't want to just become one of their statistics! They're called Itsarap. The demonstrators were nearly all middle-aged women. Most of the patterns were hideous. But L persuaded away and I finally cracked today and bought a pair online. I will post a photo.

Forgive me.

This week

Has been generally good but with little pockets of nightmare thrown in to keep us on our toes! Monday saw Zachary refusing to go in the trolley seat at Asda...cue lots of crying and starting to scream. Nearly gave up and went home, but it was the main weekly shop so we had a drink in the cafe and when he had calmed down, tried again and thankfully managed to get round without further incident. Sadly this day also saw another failure of my pledge to not be a mum who opens food she's buying before reaching the checkout in order to give it to her child. Yes...well...that kind of thinking's all very well until you have a screaming toddler in the trolley and are starting to get stares from other shoppers. You will do anything to keep them quiet!!!

Had a weird swimming session again on Tuesday - up till the last couple of weeks, Z has been fine at swimming, no fussing, no crying (not much effort on the kicking either!!!) and generally very happy. Last week he cried through the first half and this week he refused to do anything involving being on his back. I think part of the problem was him spotting the toys as soon as we got in (they usually only come out towards the end of the lesson) and throwing a mard because I wouldn't let him have any. Ho hum.

Wednesday saw 3 bouts of vomiting before 9am. Lovely start to the day. He seemed absolutely fine after that for the rest of the day - no temperature or anything so we reckon it must have been something he ingested rather than a virus. Once it cleared his system he was fine. Oh yes apart from the screaming tantrum just before dinner.

Thursday Z wouldn't eat dinner. But still slept through the night so perhaps he just wasn't hungry.

Today has been lovely (apart from the 5.30am wake-up call) and tomorrow we're off to East Anglia to see my family so am looking forward to that. Hopefully a new week will see us right!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Interesting week

Okay so this week I've had a day which started well and ended up poo, a good day, and a day which started poo and ended up good.

Tuesday started well - had a good morning in town with Zachary who finally seems to be on the mend after 2 weeks of tummy upset and cold. Put him to bed for a snooze but...and here I think I made my fatal mistake...had to wake him up before he was ready so that we could have lunch in time for swimming. Lunch time was a complete disaster - we tried Zachary on sandwiches which he totally rejected and started throwing them around. We thought we'd be strong and not resort to cereal or toast (our fall-backs during illness) so we went swimming with basically no lunch. He cried through the first half of the lesson, then managed to cheer up a bit towards the end. Dinnertime was also a nightmare and he went to bed bawling. Oh dear.

Wednesday was much better though - went into town and got another puncture in my buggy wheel. Leigh'd already tried to fix it twice but I think the inner tube had just given up. Fortunately a kind man at the cycle shop changed the tyre for me and I was ready to go again. Then went to drop off an old game at the charity shop and managed to pick up a copy of Cluedo Super Challenge for 2 quid. Can't go wrong! Rest of the day was great and we went to see the live War of the Worlds in Nottingham in the evening - fantastic! (although Richard Burton's head was slightly disturbing!)

This morning started crap - Zachary was up at 10 to 6 (which sadly seems to be getting a bit of a habit since his last bug), which wasn't too bad until I realised that I'd lost Leigh's wallet last night. I'd been given it in the car to deal with the car park ticket and then it must have dropped off my lap into the road when I got out of the car at home. It wasn't in the car or on the road. Big shit.

Fortunately and quite amazingly our opposite neighbour turned up at about half eight with the wallet! Bizarrely, he'd found it under a tree in his garden - we think a fox must have picked it up (hence the teeth marks) and dropped it on its travels. Thank goodness for honest Long Eatoners. A bottle of homemade elderflower cordial will be making its way over there tomorrow.

The rest of the day has been great too - met a new friend for lunch who also has a 15 month old son, is due to have her second baby on 13th November (I'm due on the 16th) and moved to Long Eaton 6 months ago too. It turns out she runs toddler music classes which is fab because I've been looking for some. Hooray for new friends!


The hanging baskets are coming along a treat. They've gone from this

to this...


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Caple Capsule

We had a gas fire in our middle room taken out a few months ago in preparation for a piano to sit against that wall eventually, which left us with a lovely hole into the chimney breast. Until last week this was covered by an old piano (which unfortunately has now been consigned to the realms of "too expensive to be fixed, and even if we did wouldn't hold its tuning because it's just too old") and until today was graced with some stuck on cardboard

to prevent a certain little adventurer trying to see what's in the wall.

(and if you think he wouldn't try, here he is in the new BBQ

and in the wardrobe at Center Parcs...


A friend of ours has kindly agreed to both brick up the hole and then plaster over the top of it, and suggested (I suspect in jest!) that we put a time capsule in the hole before it's sealed forever. We both took to this idea and put together a little box of goodies. I think we got slightly carried away imagining that the box will lay dormant for hundreds of years (L considered explaining that we're wearing hats in the photos because it was a hot day, not because there's been some kind of ecological breakdown and they're needed all the time...) although more likely is that someone will want to expand a road through the town in a few years' time and the house will come down then!

Anyway, in the spirit of a time capsule, here's a piccie of the stuff we put in it :

So, we have (in no particular order)

- photos of the clan Caple
- postcards of some Royal Mail special issue stamps - a Harry Potter one and a Bejing to London handover for the Olympics one
- a Marple DVD
- a palm cross
- some currency
- front pages of a national (The Times) and local (Nottingham something...!) paper
- first and second class used stamps
- some dice
- example of origami
- example of cross stitch (our respective hobbies)
- a Eurovision heart from our party a couple of weeks ago
- favourite recipes - Christmas cake and elderflower cordial
- a Coca Cola can
- one of my old passports
- a flyer for the next Nottingham Symphony Orchestra concert

I think that's everything! And here is the box safely esconced in the wall, which has now been bricked up. There's no turning back!!!!!

Monday, June 01, 2009

The most helpful baby in the world??

Zachary has developed somewhat of a penchant for putting things into other things...okay, not very descriptive I know! Generally he likes putting stuff into bins (my toiletries mainly), the toilet (his bedtime toy...new t-shirt...), the bath (toilet roll...baby wipes...clothes)...you get the idea.

Here's a few notable highlights from the last week or so...

We had some friends over for a BBQ last weekend in the glorious weather and had a bit of a sit down inside in the afternoon as it was so hot. Zachary was pottering in the kitchen when it all went quiet. Upon further investigation I discovered he had been helpfully putting things into the kitchen bin for me - 1 pair of guest's shoes, L's crocs, my crocs, Z's own shoes, the dustpan and brush and in a fit of optimism, the large kitchen broom. I haven't laughed so hard for a long time!

On a similar vein I was washing up the other night, Z happily playing in the kitchen drawers when I suddenly spotted him dumping every coaster we own into the bin! He could get them in faster than I could get them out. Needless to say, the bin has now been turned to the wall, to hopefully prevent similar events in the future.

Finally, we spent a night at my sister's this weekend before going on for a few days at Center Parcs. Z usually has a good time exploring in new places. I spent most of the time at Center Parcs convinced I had put 2 packets of Kettle Chips into the packing, but only being able to find 1. I finally thought I'd just imagined the whole thing, when I received the following text from my sister on her arrival home after the break

"Just found a bag of Kettle Chips in the washing machine!"

Monday, May 11, 2009

Some finished garden - with apologies for the fact that I clearly couldn't be bothered to move my washing out of the way!

New trellis above the fence -

Completed patio -

Patio also showing the pergola -

And one of my lovely hanging baskets - I think there's a fuschia, some ivy and geranium in there -

Now we just need a barbecue!!! I can almost smell the onions and burgers!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

More garden!

Despite the rain on Monday, work continues apace in the garden and we now have a completed pergola, a new trellis thingy over the fence on the left and a patio coming along nicely.

Here is how things were looking yesterday in the glorious sunshine

and today in the slightly less generous weather! Fortunately clever men knew it would rain today and a helpful shelter was constructed last night so that the patio could still be done in the dry.

I was hoping to take some photos of the various bits and pieces which have been done, but it was difficult to manouvre myself round the wet cement on the patio! Still, looking gret and hopefully one mre day will see it completed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


We're having some renovations done to the garden - it's very exciting, although would be a little more so if the rain hadn't started the very day the patio was due to start being laid!

There's a pergola -type construction which has gone up over the concreted area beyond the shed

and we're having patio slabs laid over the old concrete there. A new lawn is being laid at some point and L will be having a good rummage through the existing plants and shrubs to see what's to be kept and what lovely new plants we need. We've bought a new set of patio furniture already in preparation and I know L has his eye on a fancy BBQ. Hurrah - let's hope we actually get some sun this summer!

Z enjoying the sun last week - you would not believe the struggles we have trying to get him to keep a hat on!

Second time around

I'm pregnant again! I am very excited! We had always said we would start trying again once Z reached 1, but had more in mind it taking a while for me to fall, like it did last time. So we were taken a little by surprise by how quickly things happened this time but really pleased.

Baby is due November, and I've had a bit of nausea this time, but no sickness again so far. We haven't had an official dating scan yet - went for one last week, but I'd got my dates wrong and wasn't as far gone as I'd thought! So sometime November - which has unfortunately put paid to our holiday plans for October. My parents-in-law had booked and paid for all of us (including L's brother) to go to Cyprus for a week in October. Depending on when my official due date is, I could still be okay to fly, but I'd be right on the edge of the permitted time (up to 36 weeks) and I'd be huge by then, so possibly not able to enjoy it as much as at another time. So the holiday's on hold for the time being but with hopes of going sometime 2010 instead.

This does mean that Z won't quite be 2 when the new baby's here and we'll have 2 lots of nappies to deal with! Am hoping that because he'll be a bit younger, hopefully the whole jealousy thing may not be as much a problem and I think it will be good for them to be close in age. One friend did mention to me a possible downside to close ages though - the older child might start coming down to the level of the younger. Hopefully, that'll be something we can spot and deal with if it arises.

In the meantime, mucho happiness here.

Hmmm..maybe they weren't exaggerating

Zachary had his MMR jab 2 weeks ago today. We were warned that it would take about a week to affect him (for some reason the body does nothing with the vaccine for a week and then starts to deal with it) so we were all ready on Tuesday for a miserable little boy. Tuesday came and other than the start of what appeared to be a mild cold and the sightings of another tooth (6th one) there seemed to be no sign of the MMR. Foolishly I thought perhaps Zachary's one of the lucky few. How wrong was I.

Come Friday afternoon he is full fever mode and feeling like he's made of lava! But not too grumpy in himself. Saturday and Sunday however were not good at all. He started off okay both days but soon descended into the land of fever and tiredness. Poor little boy spent much of the weekend in just his nappy cuddling and sleeping on our laps. Mucho application of Calpol and Calprofen helped with the fever but very wakeful nights. Fortunately he didn't have a febrile convulsion or anything scary like that, which are also a possibility when young children get too hot, and seems to be surprisingly common. My friend's little boy had one and I can imagine how frightening it must have been.

Yesterday he seemed much better and was actually prepared to wander around away from the safety of Mummy's lap! But by evening he'd started to get a little warm again - this time we reckon it's the cold starting to hit him though rather than the return of the MMR. Really awful night last night (possibly partly due to being very blocked up) and he's been completely full of cold and feeling sorry for himself today.

So this evening in an attempt to actually get some decent sleep he's had a dose of Calpol, has menthol vapour rub stuff on his chest, and a drop of Olbas Oil on Mr Lion. Fingers crossed.

One interesting thing though - we took his temperature on Saturday to see what was happening and it came out as 39.5C. The directions on the home thermometer said that medical attention should be sought if temp rose above 39C, but we were pretty sure it was all down to the jab and didn't really want to go to the hospital (being Saturday and no GP). Not wanting to just leave it either, I rang NHS Direct and found it a pretty good service.

I went through a kind of call-handler first who I think is there to assess the urgency of the situation ("has he had a fit? is he fitting now? is he choking? etc although if I had been answering yes to any of those we'd have either been in the car by then or waiting for an ambulance!) and then we had a call back from a nurse within an hour. She was very helpful, although you realise just how difficult it is to assess very young children and that you're looking for physical cues and hints as they can't articulate exactly how they feel (for example I had to assess whether I though Z had a headache). She confirmed what we thought, that it was probably just the jab, but also said the fever could last for 3 days so not to go to the doctor until the 4th unless he also starting vomiting, drinking less, or had any other 'unwell' symptoms. She also said that the fever could reach 41C (!) but as long as the calpol etc was still working to reduce temperature after a dose then no cause for alarm. Interestingly she also said Z could have Calpol and Calprofen more or less simultaneously which we hadn't realised. A good experience with them.

Icing sugar is fantastic cover

I thought I'd do a bit of updating this evening as I am sans ironing and realised I left things dangling with my last post! Here is the final cake...

The cake turned out great...the marzipan not so much. The layer cooked inside the cake was fine, but when I came to try and roll out the rest the next day for decoration, a) I couldn't roll it out without it crumbling to pieces and b) it tasted pretty awful and greasy so I think I worked it too much trying to get it into a rollable state. I did persevere and make the apostles for the top of the cake but they mostly headed into the bin and I have discovered that icing sugar hides a lot of sins!

So, keep the cake recipe, ditch the marzipan one. There's another version in the same cookbook which uses an egg white rather than egg yolk in it which I'll try next - and is probably preferable for reasons I'll come on to....

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A potentially small disaster

I decided to make a proper Easter Simnel cake this year - and not just to indulge my love of marzipan! I was going to use the "Easter cake" receipe from the BBC Good Food magazine, although on closer inspection that turned out to be simply some kind of hazelnut cake without the hazelnuts.

So I turned to Rachel Allen and her mother-in-law's Simnel cake. Big heavy old thing this looks to be - similar quantities of stuff to my usual Christmas cake so should be lovely and fruity. Also had a go at the almond paste recipe included in the cake details - hmmmm, looking a bit hard and crumbly at the moment, but I still need to knead it a bit (ran out of icing sugar for that today) so hopefully it'll come together a bit more ready for rolling. I kind of just pressed a layer into the middle of the cake batter for today, but will need to do the top layer and 13 apostles properly tomorrow!

The small disaster? Receipe called for 6 eggs in the cake - after putting it in the oven I discovered I'd only actually used 5. Not sure what effect this will have - cake is cooling in the tin til tomorrow and then we shall see!!! With any luck I might remember to take a picture...

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Little Pony...

As you've never seen them before...here.

Shame I can't work out how to get a picture in my blog...probably illegal though!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Yummy, yummy!

Lemon curd cupcakes! Brilliant - although the real test will be what they're like tomorrow. My buns usually end up either rock hard (if only!) or stodgy from being slightly undercooked on the second day...we shall see!!

From Tesco Food magazine (Spring 2009)
Ingredients :
175g/6 0z very soft unsalted butter
250g/9 oz caster sugar
3 medium eggs at room temp, beaten
250g/9 oz SR flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100ml/4fl oz milk
4 tbsp lemon curd

Icing :
75g/3 oz very soft unsalted butter
125g/4 oz icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon curd
2 tbsp lemon curd to decorate

Method :
1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Put the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, milk and lemo curd into a bowl. Beat with a wooden spoon (or KitchenAid!) until thoroughly combined and smooth.

2. Put paper cases (muffin cases not bun cases as I used - got 20 out of the mixture!) into trays then spoon in the mixture until each case is evenly filled. Cook for 30 minutes or until well risen and springy to the touch (we have fan oven and even with the reduced temp, they were done in 25). Lift out and leave to cool on a wire rack.

3. Make the topping by beating the butter, icing sugar and lemon curd until soft and fluffy then put a swirl on top of each cake. Finish with a small blob of lemon curd.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

UK Games Expo

L's been talking about the UK Games Expo which is in September. Had been slightly ambivalent to be honest but that was before I heard about The Living Dungeon. Apparently it's a cross between The Crystal Maze, Knightmare, Raven and The Adventure Game...OMG if he could have said anything to make me go - that was it!!!

Trouble is, I get really excited about this sort of thing, and then turn out to be really crap at all the challenges!!! Oh well...in a team with people I've never met before and probably never will again. Nothing to lose!

Monday, March 23, 2009

I can hear bells chiming in the distance

Just found out today that 2 of our friends have just got engaged - fantastic news and congratulations to you!!!! You know who you are!


L and I are having a gameathon. The original idea was to play through all the board games L has and rate them as 2-player games. This lasted all of 3 games when it became clear that any document purporting to summarise and rate all these games (over 100 now) would be long and dull - not only to read but to prepare!!! Also we'd have had to play 5 different versions of Monopoly - we got through, I don't know, around 6 dice rolls in Nintendo Monopoly before deciding there was absolutely no way we could face playing any more!

But we're carrying on with the majority of the games, just to play them through and make more use of the games we own rather than buying more (added to which L is on a self-imposed game buying prohibition for Lent). Things have been going well. Then we played Boggle.

1st round - I got more words than L but he beat me on the round with the most annoying 8-letter word in the world. Freshens. Annoying because I got 'freshen' as the time was running out and because 7-letter words get you 5 points, but 8-letter words get 11!! Who thought that was a good idea??!! Also, I got more words than L so, even though I lost the whole game by 1 point, I think I have the moral victory.

L is in the lead on the overall tally. Freshens will haunt me forever.

David Bailey he ain't

I have discovered that I can access the camera on my phone by simply pressing 'up' on the menu button rather than having to go through menus to find it. I found this when I saw that Zachary had been taking random photos of stuff and I wondered how he'd managed to navigate the phone! So, for your delictation, here are some of his efforts (with apologies for the blurriness) :

His foot -

A rather good self-portrait -

Foot again -

And finally the sofa -

(I think I have also now found and deleted all the videos he's made...)

Monday, January 26, 2009


So I'm waiting for a new washing machine to arrive. Our old machine has done us proud for the last 6 years or so only breaking down at Christmas (grrr...) but we decided not to renew the insurance in October and that when it broke again, that would be it. Goodbye Margherita.

Last week, she stopped mid-cycle still full of water. So it's byebye Ariston, hello Bosch! Should be arriving fairly soon.

Had a great Christmas and New Year - had a few bugs and coughs and colds leading up to the season but during the festive fortnight itself we all managed to remain fairly well. Started Playgroups again after new year and Zachary immediately picked up a cold! It's those other children!!

Zachary has now discovered how doors work which is great but also means we have finally had to child-proof all the kitchen cupboards we don't want him in - like the ones containing the bleach...plates and bowls... It came to a head last week when I was trying to cook with Zachary crawling round the kitchen. I was stopping him opening the cupboard I was stood by, had the bin in front of another couple, a chair in front of the sink cupboard and a random stepladder in front of another. Now all he can explore are the cupboard with the baking trays, the one with his plastic bowls and cups in and the cupboard containing a myriad of dried goods.

Last night Zachary's explorations included emptying the plastics cupboard, finding and then trying to kiss his reflection in the patio doors and fishing a potato out of the vegetable basket and trying to eat it!

I'm in the kitchen now..sadly I thought I'd sellotaped up the stuffing box well enough, but FAIL. Just seen Z pouring stuffing in a little pool around him and then swish it across the kitchen floor...

Washing machine just arrived - it's this one. Hurrah! We can be clean again.