Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tidy loft, tidy mind?

I have been needing to sort out our top bedroom for ages. The bed was still out from our last set of visitors (mid-May), there were pictures to be hung lying around and a huge pile of 'things to put away' at the bottom of the stairs. Leigh is out this evening so it is the perfect opportunity.

So, I've put the bed away and tidied the pictures into a stack (not hung them though...). I've emptied and sorted out 6 or 7 Crafty Creatives boxes and put aside some bits I think my friend will be able to use. A lot of the bits in the craft boxes I can see myself using, but some are a bit too random. My friend likes dabbling in crafty stuff too so I've sorted out some bits she might like. Put away a stack of birthday cards (from January...) - I'm trying now to only keep a maximum of 5 cards each year, that is particularly special or pretty ones. I'm still going to have to get rid of them eventually but whilst there's room in my box of special things I can keep going! I put away books, tried to sort the craft drawers in the desk but gave up and just ended up shoving a load of bits in the top drawer. So that will need going through again.

I looked in the loft cupboard - this is a project for another day (videos needing to be turned into DVDs lurk in there are the back somewhere behind cots and old computer game consoles) but there are 2 rather large stacks of empty boxes in there and we seem to just accumulate more and more. Boxes from appliances, computer stuff, kitchen stuff, board games, Crafty Creatives... I thought it would be a good idea to just put them all in the bedroom and get Leigh to look at them with me and decide if we could get rid of any. When I had nearly covered the floor and there were still boxes in the cupboard I gave up!

But, one other great thing - I refound some dinosaur material I asked my Mum to get for me. A while ago now she made quilts for the boys' beds and Zachary's had a great dinosaur fabric on it. The daughter of a friend of ours is mad about dinosaurs and has a dice game which is crying out for a drawstring bag! So I asked Mum if she could get me any more of the fabric and she did - which I then put in the loft and have spent the time since then trying to ignore it because I couldn't see, let alone reach my sewing machine. I was very organised tonight though, got the tiding out of the way and made a drawstring bag for the game and another little bag from the material. I decided to use ribbon for the handles of the bag rather than make them from the material itself (which is what I have been doing in the past when I've made these bags) but I couldn't for the life of me remember how I fixed them on properly with all the hemming and stuff. So it's a bit of a cobble - artisan I think is the word!

Here are the fronts (well...either side could be the front really!)

And the backs. I hope she likes them!

Big screens have more fun

Welcome to the newest member of our family - my lovely red 3DS XL. I don't play a huge amount of computer games really, but I've been caught up in the latest Professor Layton and the new Animal Crossing games recently (and tempted by Luigi's Mansion 2...) and have been using Leigh's old 3DS (he migrated to XL a while ago) to play them. Leigh was concerned that my screen was too small and bought me a fab red XL. Very sleek, lovely big screen!!!

Only problem is - more space for the boys to be jabbing their fingers when I'm trying to play!!!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bag of tricks

My handbag was feeling a bit heavy today so I thought I'd have a clear out. Blimey it's been a while. When I'm out and about with the boys I tend to gather things in my bag - the various bits of detritus they leave the house with and then have nowhere to put it...stuff collected in other places...so I though for the delight and entertainment of you dear reader, I'd have a clear out tonight.

Here is my bag (although I hasten to add I do have a proper handbag for work - this is my weekend bag...)

and here is what I poured out of it (along with an inordinate amount of sand....)

which consisted of -

  • First aid kit
  • Purse
  • Mobile phone
  • Baby wipes - new pack, I suspect most of the additional weight lies at this door!
  • Umbrella
  • Dvds for posting
  • Another purse – full of shoppng cards
  • 2 lots of pirate bubbles - I think from a party about 6 weeks ago
  • 2 blue inhalers - Leigh!
  • Toy golf ball - ?????
  • Yellow plastic scissors - from the front of a craft magazine one of the boys had last month
  • Small tub Vaseline
  • 14 pens and pencils - ooooops!
  • Gullivers theme parks blue wristband
  • Black eye pencil - used to create pirate scars and facial hair for the party mentioned above!
  • Pink hair band - mine
  • Paracetomol - of course!
  • Ladybird mobile phone
  • Toy story phone with magic screen - another jot from the front of a magazine
  • Small white wolf - thank you Kinder eggs
  • Small plastic bag with safety pins in - my brain can almost remember why these are in my bag but the information is proving ridiculously elusive
  • 12p
  • Used battery - we seem to get through a surprisingly large number of batteries what with Wii remote controllers, Tag readers and the like. I tend to just sling them in my bag and then attempt retrieval on the weekly trip to Asda!
  • D20 with a d12 inside - one of Zachary's

It's much lighter on refill!

Friday, June 21, 2013

New chef on the block

I think I have blogged about Cooking with Hugo before, but I can't be bothered to find the link now so I'll explain again! It's a cookery class designed for 2-4 year olds and run by 2 mums in Long Eaton and it is fab! They used to just run sessions on a Tuesday, which became impossible for me to attend with Leo once I went back to work and I was very disappointed. But for the month of June they have been running Friday classes as well and I have been taking Leo.

Teresa and Louise set the room up for the children - we start with a song, say hello to Hugo the dinosaur (who's a cheeky scamp and usually hiding or napping!) and then see what we're making and the ingredients. It's all designed so that the children can more or less do everything themselves and the dish can be prepared and baked all within the hour session. Teresa and Louise do a fab job measuring out all the ingredients so it's just a case of tipping things into the bowl and mixing, or rolling or sprinkling. And they provide a snack and drink while the dish is being cooked and another fun activity - we had play dough last week and made nature weavings this week.

So here are some pics of Leo - there are also some on their Facebook page. There is a website but there's not much on there.

Leo making his rhubarb cookies last week

... potato, pea and pesto tart this week 

And with his nature weaving - super dude!

Thursday, June 20, 2013


A very good friend of ours  has been dabbling in zentangles - which is a way of producing art through the use of structured pattern and design. It is said to help focus the mind, and Leigh has been trying it out as well.

This morning Zachary had a try too and I think got the hang of what he was trying to do (although I've just noticed a spooky ghostly face in the middle! Not deliberate I'm sure!)

They're so attractive - I'm thinking I might never have to buy notecards again!

Food adventures

I have long been an advocate of the cheese and jam sandwich (red leicester and raspberry jam being the ultimate combo) but this has divided my family and friends into 2 camps - love it or hate it.

Leo has been a lover of cheese and jam for a while and has now concocted his own interpretation - dairylea, jam and ham. Hmmmmm. I blame myself for this but am choosing to view it as a variation on the bacon, brie and cranberry sauce sandwich! Not sure it will take off though...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Coconut Oat Crunchies

Thank you Mary-Anne for your most delicious biscuits!

This is the second time we've baked these - the first time Leigh took inspiration from the blog entry which accompanies the recipe and made it fit our store cupboard as we had neither coconut butter nor agave nectar! He used regular butter and golden syrup instead and they worked just fine.

We then discovered that we have a tub of coconut oil in the cupboard which is pretty much coconut butter, and having been shopping recently, there was also agave syrup in the cupboard! Hurrah. So I have used her suggested ingredients this time and they are yummy!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

New Stuff

New exercising -

I've been aware for some time now that I don't do enough exercise but have failed to do anything positive to put it right! I've been blaming lack of time on going back to work, but that's a lie! Leigh however has inspired me to get involved in the NHS Couch to 5K programme - he's been trying to get out for a half hour walk at lunchtimes to get fresh air and some exercise and then started the programme. Essentially it aims to take you from couch potato to being able to run 5K (or for 30 mins) in 9 weeks. Yes 9! I've caught the bug and have just run Week 3 for the third time - week 4 next and that looks hard. Although Leigh's just about to start Week 5...not looking forward to that one.

To fit the runs in I've been getting up to go before breakfast and although it's a bit of a pain, once I'm out of the house it's actually been quite enjoyable (albeit exhausting!) and it seems to make me feel more positive about the day ahead. Every time I move up a week I think I'm not going to manage it, but I have done so far. Week 4 here I come!

New biscuits -

Next biscuits being tried from Miranda's book - twirly whirly ones. They were quite straightforward to make, but needed two lots of 1 hour chilling so time consuming. But they look far better than I thought they would...

ready for oven

and ready to eat!

New hair -

Highlights and a fringe - woo hoo!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Gill and Steve

Zachary, Leo and I gate-crashed an afternoon soiree on Saturday! Well, I'm making it sound a bit more glam that it was, but we did arrived un-ticketed.

On our way home from shopping we passed (in the car) a house with bunting outside, and I could see through a gate people standing behind a table in front of a garage. 'Ooooo yard sale' I thought, and as it wasn't too far away, took the boys on their scooters a bit later to check it out. It turned out to be "Gill's Spring Fund-Raiser 2013" in aid of the Canaan Trust, a local homelessness charity. There was afternoon tea complete with scones, a garden full of tables and chairs, a raffle and a cake stall. Lovely - just my kind of thing.

So we bought cakes, sat down to have them and I left to get tea, and then the faux pas just kept on coming. I bamboozled the girl serving tea by declaring I didn't have a ticket and she looked very confused as to pricing arrangements. But it was all right - a man I assume was Steve flew in and saved the day by charging me the £4 ticket fee.

The raffle man asked us 'so you know Gill and Steve then?' and slightly flustered I had to admit we didn't and had just walked in off the street (really starting to wonder whether this was a good idea!). He was very nice though and pleased we had come.

Leo kept showing his tummy to the cake stall ladies.

Zachary ate the chocolate muffin and then loudly declared in respect of the frosting 'I've finished - I don't like the slimy bit on the cake.'

We left shortly after. Haven't heard yet about the raffle...Zachary spent the whole afternoon though asking when it was going to be drawn. He's still waiting for a phone call!!!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Coconut Jammy Thumbprints

Leigh bought me a new baking book this week - "Biscuit" by Miranda Gore-Browne, another lovely lady from the Great British Bake-Off. She baked some lovely biscuits her year and iced them beautifully.

Anyway, we're having a bash at working through the book because the pictures just look soooo delicious. Leigh tried the chocolate biscuits with a Rolo in the middle with the boys, and Leo and I tried the coconut jammy thumbprints today. Well, I tried them - Leo helped weigh out ingredients and by the time we got to the bit that's supposed to be great for children (putting a thumbprint in the dough), he'd moved on to a Chupa Chups lolly which made his tongue go black (deliberately I hasten to add!)!

But the biscuits were lovely and straightforward, although I think I underbaked slightly. The biscuits are slightly chewy and I think they're supposed to be a bit more crisp. Hey ho. Still very yummy though!