Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bad mother and clumsy wife

It really has been a spectacular day for me. Started off by dropping the last jar of homemade marmalade on the kitchen floor at breakfast, smashing said jar and sending shards of glass skittering across the room. In which neither Zachary nor I had anything on our feet! Classy.

While I was getting dressed, Zachary had got hold of my makeup bag which I do let him look through. He had a play with the eyeshadow - for some reason (and I'm not going to disabuse him of this just yet!) he applies it to his nose and chin. I neglected to clean it off and he had a shiny sparkly nose for the rest of the day! We had a pretty good morning with music then some baking and I took the boys to the Westfield Centre in the afternoon for some shopping and play.

By the time I got to the car park, both of them had fallen asleep, and being pretty tired myself, I rested my head back...and dropped off. Only to be woken by a very concerned parking attendant who wanted to make sure we were all right! Very embarrassing!!! When we got home, I needed to cook up some mince and wanted to clean up the kitchen as well. Zachary was happily playing with his playdough, and Leo was playing with...well, a tea bag. Leigh had a new glass tea mug delivered today and there were some individually foil-wrapped sample tea bags included. Leo got hold of one in the front room and I thought 'it'll be okay for him to carrying on chewing's keeping him happy.' Hmmmmm. Turned around first time from washing up, spotted that one tea bag packet had come open and threw it away. Turned around second time to see Leo with tea bag string in one hand, soggy empty tea bag in the other and absolutely plastered in tea leaves (raspberry and rosehip tea, which his mouth smelt of for the rest of the evening!), his mouth, his hands, his clothes and all over the floor! Whooops.

So vacuumed up the mess and gave Leo a rice cake. Much better. Zachary carried on vacuuming for me and doing a good job (he kept turning it off, sighing and saying 'bit hot' before turning it back on again. What a martyr!). Then he came over for a banana - I off-handedly said that he should wait until after dinner, but the banana bunch mysteriously vanished and when I looked round, he was trying to stuff one up the vacuum cleaner hose!! Disaster safely averted, I returned to the washing up and promptly broke the handle off Leigh's new mug. Yes, the lovely glass one which arrived today.

I really should not be let out of the house.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More roofing!

Here's an update photo of the roof - this is the section at the back of the house as seen from the loft window, and the work area. The front of the house now seems to be done, but I think there's a section still needing tiling. It looks a bit awkward to get to, but as we're into week 3 now I'm hoping it doesn't take too much longer. I'm tending to keep out of the garden in the day in case of falling debris and am missing it!

Also had Emma and Rachel over today with Edward and Isabelle and took some more piccies. Here they are with Leo at Rachel's party in March...

and here they are today.

What a lovely bunch of babies. Although something tells me there may be trouble brewing when they all get together!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Feeding children, cleaning bottoms and housework

This seems to have pretty much been my day today. Well, actually that's a bit of a fib to get some sympathy (!) but the first part of the afternoon went like this. After lunch (feeding children), went straight out to ASDA. Fed both children snacks round ASDA to stop them interfering with each other in the trolley (Zachary just can't get far enough away to stop Leo stealing things from him!). Zachary filled his nappy in the car on the way home. Got home, unpacked shopping. Changed Leo's nappy and gave him some milk in the hope he would go to sleep. No joy - for reasons which will become clear later. Changed Zachary's nappy. While doing this, Leo filled his nappy (aha - probably the reason for not dropping off...maybe). When I returned from putting Leo's nappy into the nappy bucket, Zachary was standing by the kitchen bin filling his again. Changed his nappy again, applied cream for his eczema to hands and arms, hung out the washing.

But then played with Playdough, and did other non-titular stuff. Now both boys in bed and I have wine and Maltesers to hand, the prospect of 2 (yes count them, 2) garden fete thingys tomorrow and a BBQ with friends on Sunday. Brilliant!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Plum Tomato and Mustard Seed tart

(picture taken just after it came out of the oven - lots of steam in the photo!)

Leigh went to the BBC Good Food show last week and came back with a recipe card from the British Tomato Growers' Association - this recipe is from the card. Despite the fact that I completely forgot to put in the basil and the recipe doesn't actually give a measurement for baking powder (consequently I was slightly surprised when reading through instruction 3 and had to read it several times before realising it wasn't just my eyes!) [I used about half a tsp] it came out really well and tasted great. Especially the crust - the recipe suggests you can replace the crust with ready made puff pastry for a speedier option...but I say don't! The crust is yummy!

Ingredients :
300g British plum tomatoes
30g butter
10g soft light brown sugar
a good squeeze of lemon juice
1 tsp black mustard seeds (didn't have any in the cupboard so I used normal mustard seeds)
a handful of fresh basil leaves

for the crust :
100f self-raising flour
pinch of dry mustard powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp black mustard seeds
15g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbspn olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tbspn for mixing

1. Grease an 18cm/7" flan tin (I used a pie dish) with some of the butter. Put the rest of the butter into a bowl and mix with the sugar, lemon juice, mustard seeds and season with salt and ground black pepper. Spread this mixture over the base of the tin.

2. Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally. Arrange them cut side down on top of the butter to completely cover the base of the tin. Shred the basil leaves and scatter them on top of the tomatoes.

3. Set the oven to 220C/200C fan/425F/gas 7. Sift the flour, baking powder, mustard and cayenne pepper into a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the mustard seeds, Parmesan and oil. Mix together with a knife and then rub in with fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Bind to a soft but firm dough with the milk.

4. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently until smooth. Roll to a circle about 5mm/ 1/4" thick to fit the top of the tin. Lay it on top of the tomatoes and press down lightly, tucking the edge in around the tomatoes.

5. Bake for 5 minutes until the crust is crisp and golden. Loosed the edge with a knife then turn the tart upside down onto a serving plate. Decorate with basil leaves and serve straight away (mine sat on the oven for over an hour before we ate. It was still great, but I should think the pastry is slightly crisper if you eat straightaway).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Apricot and almond bakewell

I've been wanting to try this recipe out for a while, but was slightly disappointed when I read the recipe again, to see that it uses pre-made pastry. So I cobbled together a sweet shortcrust pastry from one of Delia Smith's recipes in How to Cook Book 1. Unfortunately I failed to weigh the pastry once I'd made it so don't know if I made 400g or not! Also, interestingly, Delia recommends using butter at room temperature for making pastry, whereas I had always believed that it should be chilled. Room temperature butter makes the pastry much softer, and easier to work and roll and still tasted great. The other problem I had was that I don't think my tin was big enough - I think it needed to be deeper as I had an overflow problem (all the bits hacked off before the photo taken!) and still had filling left over! But it worked in the end, just need to invest in a bigger tin...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The roofing work is still progressing and the builder's told us he hopes to be finished by the weekend - hurrah. Then we can organise getting one wall of our bedroom replastered (there's a large damp, mouldy patch from when we had the slipped tiles, which has caused the plaster to crack...and the last occupants put up the curtain rails very badly, so we have an excuse to get all their holes filled in properly!), and finally decorating the bugger. Must get on with curtains...

The builder's asked us to pay half the bill in cash, which is a not inconsiderable amount - certainly more than the £10 I used to withdraw at a time for spending! Went to the bank to sort this out today - when I gave the amount I needed, the cashier looked slightly uneasy and asked why I needed it. Was suddenly seized by the urge to tell her I was leaving my husband and needed the cash to run away with just to see what her reaction would be. Sadly I'm too sensible for such things in reality!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The christening of Isabelle Pinhorn

Lovely christening of our friends' little girl today. The service all went very well, everyone looked brilliant and the lunch was great. Zachary is really starting to get to know our friends well, and be comfortable playing with them without us which is great to see. He had a lot of fun playing the hand game, and 'extreme' row, row, row your boat!

Zachary and Leo were pretty much penned in in the middle of a pew with us and both of them were really well behaved and managed the entire hour and a bit of service without a meltdown. Zachary was hilarious and had me in stitches by the end of the service - some of the ways he found to amuse himself - taking out my hairclips, standing on my lap shouting at some friends sitting a few rows back from us, doing his Sportacus moves on Leigh's lap (yes, in the pew!), bundling onto my lap for a group hug with me and Leo while shouting 'Daddy join in,' and finally during the last hymn while I was carrying him, pointing forcefully to the front of the church and shouting 'stop!' Funny.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Roof work begins in earnest

Today the roof looks quite different. A lot of banging around up there has resulted in us now being slateless! Or at least slateless as far as I can see. So things are moving on and we'll see what happens tomorrow - it's quite exciting really. And in my own sad little way, I rescued a slate from the skip for us to keep. No idea as yet what on earth I'm going to do with it, but it's a piece of history of the house.

Photos taken at lunchtime :

Productive morning

You quite quickly forget how much housework you can get done when there are no children around! A job which can take a good twenty minutes to complete when Zachary is in a helpful mood, can be done in a couple of minutes on my own. So, Zachary at nursery this morning, Leigh out at Good Food Show, Leo is in bed asleep, housework is done (well...some of it! Some I am leaving til tomorrow), cake in the oven and I have time to blog at 11 in the morning!!! It's a crazy, crazy world.

Weather is fab today - can hear the builders on the roof, and am hoping to get out to see some friends this afternoon. Rock and roll.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Leo - sock monster

I was playing on the floor with the boys yesterday. Leo had already removed one of his own socks, when he launched himself at one of Zachary's. Zachary, not happy with this, removed his own sock and hid it behind his back. Leo launches himself at the other foot, which still has a sock on it. So Zachary again removes sock and hides it! Leo launches himself at my sock. There is no stopping him! Mind you, Zachary got his own back later on when he woke Leo up in bed with a very loud rendition of 'Old Donald.' We heard Leo cry over the monitor and then Zachary announced 'Leo crying' very loudly!

On the whole though, the boys are sharing well in the bedroom. We moved Leo in last weekend so they've had nearly a week together. We've had to change the bedtime routine a bit - before moving rooms, Leo had not yet mastered the art of putting himself to sleep at night (ably abetted by us of course, as we've been happily rocking him to sleep for 6 months!). So we combined Leo going into Zachary's room with an attempt at some controlled crying to try and get him to learn to go to sleep on his own. Maybe not the wisest thing to try! But it isn't going too badly - Zachary now comes downstairs for his bedtime story/ies while Leo goes to sleep upstairs and then Z joins him about 20 minutes later. We had about 25 minutes crying the first couple of nights, then a couple of night of about 5 minutes and tonight no crying at all. Which is brilliant. Leo was very tired today though so whether tonight's feat will be repeated is anyone's guess, but I'm happy that it's happened once at least! We found with Zachary (although he was a couple of months older) that the controlled crying worked pretty quickly with him which was surprising. You think you're going to have horrendous nights like the first one for weeks, but then it sorts itself out and they get the hang of the new routine. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

Monday, June 14, 2010

My 2 boys

My sister sent me a lovely picture they took of Leo on his christening day and I have a brilliant double frame just waiting for a pair of portrait-orientated pictures. Most of the ones I take are landscape so this is great. I looked out a picture of Zachary from his christening to go the other side...



Yes, they are different babies!

Give them a couple of years...

I'm starting to get a feel for what it's going to be like in a couple of years' time when Leo is mobile and talking. Thick as thieves with his brother. Up to no good! Yesterday at dinner, Leo started blowing raspberries - not a lot you can do about that as he's only 6 months old. So Zachary starts to copy him and there's a good 15 minutes or so where Leo blows raspberry, Zachary shouts 'again!' and then blows raspberries himself. Sadly Leigh and I are not fit to be parents. We just sat there in stitches watching the pair of them!

I think Leigh's dad got it just about right when he said Leo was going to be Zachary's henchman. He absolutely adores his brother and I'm going to have to keep a close eye!

Had a fairly quiet day today - Leigh's off work for the week and we did try to plan in some outings. Today was intended to be Rufford Country Park, but the weather;s been a bit meh all day and we didn't really fancy walking around in the nearly rain. So instead we went to IKEA this morning and mooched around the house in the afternoon. IKEA was fun - for some reason they've chosen to display some of their sofas in pairs - one on the floor, and one raised on a pedestal directly behind it. To Zachary, this arrangement just looks like stairs! And he climbed them!

Also, work on the roof has finally started - yay! Unfortunately it looks as though one of our chimney stacks is completely beyond repair so that's going and the other was being repointed as we arrived home from IKEA. We now have scaffolding at the back of the house and here it is along with a couple of 'before' shots Leigh took earlier today - the picture of the chimney is the one in question. The rather more worrying thing is that the roofer has told us he's seen some cracks in our flat roof over the kitchen and that the roofy bit of the dormer window for the loft is also not good. Well, that will be a job for next year...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Es Santan Markisa

Leigh chose my first recipe randomly from the Puding book. This translates as 'coconut passion fruit ice' which sounds good for the summer. Using Google translate however, the recipe comes out as :

Indonesian :
Coconut passion fruit ice

4 fruit - ripe passion fruit
1 liter - coconut milk from a half point kelpa
250 grams - sugar
100 ml - water
2 tablespoons of the tomb - lime juice
1 fruit - coconut, fruit dredger
mandarin oranges for garnish
digepuk ice cubes

1. Halve the passion fruit. Take adging fruit, set aside
2. Cook until boiling coconut milk (coconut milk should not be broken jaja). Remove, let cool
3. Cook sugar and water until boiling. Lift then filter. Tam even lime juice. Set aside
4. How to serve: to prepare three or four glasses of fruit-food. Each glass is filled with: sugar aroma of lime, passion fruit, tangerine ice, coconut and coconut milk cooked. Garnished with passion fruit and mandarin oranges. Serve.

Okay, so some of it seems clear and some I can work out, but some of it clearly hasn't translated properly - it's the sort of thing for which you need someone who can speak the language and put things into context. Am still tempted to have a try...although as Leigh pointed out 1 litre of coconut milk is a lot to waste if it all goes hideously wrong! Will have to think on it...

Monday, June 07, 2010


My brother-in-law brought me a recipe book back from holiday. It's all desserts as he knows I like making's from Indonesia, in Indonesian - hence the title 'Puding!' This is going to be exciting. I especially like the picture of the one on the front that looks like a grass jelly. Puding Tape Ketan Hitam Saus Kopyor and some kind of translation software here I come!

It felt a bit like the fox, chicken and grain riddle

I took the boys to Attenborough Nature Reserve this afternoon to feed the ducks. After nearly being mauled by some slightly over-agressive geese we had a drink in the cafe. They've got a little balcony area there which Zachary took his drink out to and sat having a little picnic looking out over the water at the ducks. It really was very sweet.

But then I needed to change Leo. After waiting about five minutes for a man to leave the disabled/baby change toilet (whom I noticed seemed to be neither disabled nor changing a baby - although granted I could be wrong about the first) we descended en masse. So I have Leo up on the changing table, Zachary is messing about in the sink and letting the tap run. I turn it off telling him it's a waste of water and stand with one hand on Leo and one hand keeping the tap turned off. After a small amount of screaming, Zachary moved away from the sink. I turn back to Leo, then see Zachary race ( much as he could in the toilet!) across the room dragging the toilet roll with him. As I clear this up, he goes back to the sink. Turn the tap off, he's back with the toilet roll. Clear up toilet roll, back to the sink...meanwhile what do I do with Leo? It really felt like one of those logic puzzles where everything would slot into place if I got the combination of actions right!!

Answer : should have taken the double buggy!

Leo's Christening

Leo's christening was yesterday and it was a great day. Yes, there was lots to get anxious about (guests arriving, buffet arriving, getting tables and chairs out, finding highchairs then working out how they get up, making sure Leo is fed, worrying about when he's going to nap, then have him fall asleep during the service and while being passed round various family members!), but everything went very smoothly and it was a very special day. The service was lovely, especially as there were so many children around - Zachary had a great time running from relative to relative and dancing with 2 of his girlfriends in the aisle during the hymns!

My mum and her husband were up in the area from Thursday, my dad and his wife from Saturday and also my sister and her family staying with us Saturday night. So it was busy and hectic but so good. And the advantage of having a large family - people to help clear tables and put things away afterwards. Leo's Godfathers (!) in particular were brilliant!

I am a Christian, so having Leo christened is an important step for me. Leigh isn't, but he is very supportive of my faith and was happy for him to be christened, for which I am very thankful. For me, it is a public welcoming of Leo into the life and love of the church, both spiritually and as part of the particular church family I have chosen to be a member of in Long Eaton at Trinity Methodist. My view is very much that Leo will have the freedom to make up his own mind as he gets older as to whether he wishes to become a Christian or not, but I feel it is important that as I have faith, he also has the opportunity to experience it for himself. I hope it will be a positive thing for him and I will certainly do my best to make sure it is, but eventually he will need to decide for himself.

I feel that the christening service is therefore a declaration of our love as parents for Leo, and of God's love for him, and an opportunity for us, and the people we have chosen as Godparents to make promises of support to him, rather than making promises for him.

I've finished - it's safe to look again!

Friday, June 04, 2010

New roof in the making!

We had a couple of slipped tiles on our roof over winter, which resulted in a nice damp patch and some mould in our bedroom, and a visit from a roofer who told us there was wide-spread nail fatigue. This apparently means that the only thing holding our slates on the the weight of the slates! As we've only been in the house a year and a half, it was clearly an issue when we bought it, but nothing was mentioned in the survey. Annoyingly, when we investigated further it turns out that even with a full survey, a detailed examination of the roof is not undertaken, because the surveyors will not go up long ladders. Your roof only gets looked at (well, more than a cursory glance and assessment from street level) if you ask for a specific investigation of it.

Having survived the rest of the winter without killing any passers-by during freak high winds, the roof repair work is finally commencing -yay! Scaffolding went up yesterday,

no activity today, so I expect the builders will be here Monday. Maybe! It's pricey, but not really something we can leave. The funniest thing is that when we told next door what's going on, he decided to have his roof done at the same time - not because he thought it really needed it doing now, but because he was worried about our works affecting his roof. When the roofer went up to survey, he found next door's roof was worse than ours!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

All roofboxed up!

We have been talking about getting a roofbox for a while now. If we go away anywhere, now that we have two children, there is no real room for luggage. Especially if the space eating double buggy is in the boot! Leigh has a company car which he can't change for 3 years now so we looked into other options - ie a roofbox. Been to Halfords 3 times over the last week to try and buy one but there have been parts not in, or men not available to fit it. Yesterday afternoon was looking like a go.

Let me preface the next bit by saying 3 things - firstly, we have found that blackcurrant Fruit Shoots tend to go straight through Zachary. And not just straight through - within an hour of drinking one, his nappy will be completely full with imminent risk of leakage and wet trousers. A doctor friend of ours told us that blackcurrant irritates the bladder and this is why is causes children to wee, and that makes sense to us! Secondly, Leo's weaning is going well but til yesterday he hadn't pooed for about 4 days. I was getting slightly concerned as to quantity when he did finally go. Finally, the boys' behaviour overall during our time at Halfords was brilliant and Zachary was very very good. It could have been a lot more stressful.

So I turn up just after half 3 at Halfords and by 10 to 4 they've made a start on the box. I'm told it'll take half an hour to 40 minutes to complete. I know that Leigh's parents will be visiting this afternoon, but they usually don't arrive until between half 4 and 5 (nearer 5 often) so I'm not too worried and think I can get home in plenty of time.

Zachary and I go to McDonalds for drinks and manage about 20 minutes there - I decide to leave after Zachary keeps sidling up to other families to say hello and begins jumping on the chairs and shouting happily. As we get back to Halfords - it isn't looking good. Neither the box nor the bars are on the roof yet, hell the fixings aren't even on and the chap looks like he's having some difficulty with one of the bits on the car... So we go into the store and buy a gazebo for the garden. As I'm a the checkout, the checkout lady is sighing that she's running around like a headless chicken because there's noone else in the shop and she doesn't know where they are. A quick check out the door confirms, yes, they're all working on my roof box!!!

As it's now been about half an hour I think we'll get in the car to wait out the rest as I don't have the double buggy with me and this is the best way to keep Zachary safe and entertained (CD player). Leo gets restless in the car seat so I sit in the front with him, with Zachary in the passenger seat. This is fine, although there's still no sign of any roof box going on, and then Leo poos. Twice. I don't have the change bag with me.

So I spend the rest of the time we are there (it took over an hour in all), feeling increasingly hot in the car, trying to close off my nose to the stench rising from Leo's nappy, checking down it every few minutes to make sure that nothing's going to come squidging out the top and becoming concerned that Zachary's likely to wee through his nappy anytime. In the middle of all this I get a call from my parents-in-law, who have arrived at the house (early for them) to find us not there. Heck.

But it all works out fine - grandparents go away and come back later, both boys manage to get home and nappies are changed before disaster occurs and the roof box is finally fitted! Hurrah! Now we can go on holiday. Now we need to book a holiday!