Thursday, 26 November 2009

There's something on your shoulder...

Erm, excuse me, you have something on your shoulder.

Yes, I know, it's snot. Not mine I might add, but the silvery trails of my cold-ridden son. He has taken to burying his head in my shoulder/chest and leaving snot trails. Delightful, expecially when someone points it out. I must remember to change before I go out....

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A crafty Christmas

Although it seems I may have been inspired by last weekend's crafty activities, I have actually already been dabbling with a little Christmas craft over the past few months.

It all started with my usual plunge into festive-ness around October, when the first Christmas magazines appear on the supermarket shelves. Oh, so tempting.... One or two inevitably find themselves at the bottom of the trolley, I'm such a sucker for marketing. Anyhow, these inspired me to get crafty (and thrifty this Dec as the ol' maternity money has disappeared) and make my own cards. I don't know how many hours vaporised as I delved into a world of my own. M looked on with interest and I'm sure he was itching to get gluey fingers too (don't you love the peely fingers you end up with when using that all purpose glue?...oh, the joy!). The result? Well, I have about 30 INDIVIDUAL (yes, I KNOW!) handmade Christmas cards to send out this year!!!! And that was by the beginning of Nov.

The second crafty Christmas task I took on this year was to make Christmas stockings for us all. I found a gorgeous little sewing shop, run by paper-skinned old ladies. A treasure-trove of sewing delights. I bought some felt and various threads, needles etc. I also went to JL haberdashery dept to get some other bits, again a delightful place you could spend a whole afternoon pottering about in (although they'd probably think I was a shoplifter). All in all it actually probably cost me the same as buying the damn stockings, but that is missing the point. Obviously JJ will delight in receiving his stocking, perhaps not this year, but in years to come, and M and I now have somewhere to put all those little pressies you invariably end up buying each other. The first one is made and I have to say I've impressed myself with my craftyness.

I must take a photo of the finished stockings and post them, that's if I get round to actually finishing the others.......

Enjoy some craftyness this December.

Sunday, 22 November 2009


Oh, I love curry....mmmmmm. We have something of a soft spot, well obsession really, for curries. They have to be authentic and, more often than not, homemade. It is easier than it sounds, believe me. You simply have to invest in a little retail therapy (yes, hard I know!) stocking up on basic spices then you are good to go! All good Indian cookery books usually give you a list of store cupboard ingredients you need, so it's not difficult to get a list together. Once you have these basic ingredients then shopping for each curry is easy, you just need meat and some fresh ginger/coriander usually.

My bible, and it literally is a bible, is Madhur Jaffery's Curry Bible. She is an amazing woman if you think about it. Not only did she overcome the being-a-woman thing, but also racist prejudice, to have had so many TV programmes exclusively about Indian cusine shown by the BBC in the 70's/80's. Wow. This was before the Delia explosion too remember (but not Fanny Craddock, so you understand what she was up against...).

Anyhow, this book contains a plethora of delicious dishes. You will salivate as you read it and have to go out immediately to get the ingredients for a number of different recipies! It also contains masses of vegetable and pulse dishes, all too often overlooked. Rice and bread recipies are included too. It should keep you going for a good number of years as it is a thick book! Go out and get it now, or, even better, put it on your Christmas list!

Another author I have to mention is Anjum Anand, who recently did some TV series for the BBC. She has a number of books out and her take on Indian cooking is a health-conscious one - something we will all be looking for in January no doubt.... Reading her introductions you will understand why she chose this route and it is without loss of flavour/richness in her recipies too. Another for the Christmas list.

Enjoy your spice-laden culinary journey!

Christmas Fun?

A weekend of Christmas fayres..... Luckily JJ seemed to have overcome his whingey baby syndrome on Saturday so the day out at Wimpole Hall Christmas Craft Fayre went very well. The fayre showed off the best of the region's local craftsmen/women, from wooden toy crafts to watercolour paintings, christmas nicknacks and decorations to cakes and snacks, pottery to glassware. It was lovely to see so many independent crafts people under one sodden roof. Obviously being the UK it bucketed it down in the morning, but the lovely people at Wimpole had been expected this and organised for some lovely marquees and even lovelier heating! What fun. The kids were entertained with a puppet show and puppet-making. What a great idea. JJ is too little for this at the moment, but had he been older he would have loved it.

Did we buy anything I hear you ask? Well, no, apart from a pork-pie to fortify the appetite created by looking at all the lovely goodies on offer.

Today we stayed more locally and went to Harpenden Farmers' Market. An amazing market held every 4th Sunday of the month - well worth a visit if you've never been. It was the Christmas market this month as it is the last one before christmas, obviously. It was great; fired up the spirits and made us feel very Christmassy. We made room for a delicious Bassingthorpe Beef burger as we ambled around. Did we buy anything? Well apart from some lamb shanks for our curry tonight and some sausages, no, but I could've spent a fortune on Christmas goodies (including some beautiful hand-made wreaths and wicker baskets). As I'm on maternity leave I don't have a fortune, so that's not possible, shame!

To finish I would like to say how fantastic these fayres/markets were - we came away with a glow in our hearts (and bellies). So what happenned to the St Albans Christmas Fayre/turning-on of the lights last weekend? What a shambles. The market seemed cheap and the fairground rides/stalls nasty and sadly the event seemed to bring out some 'interesting' people. And if you hung around for the lights to go on (as we sadly did) then you would have been truely disappointed. Whoever employed the lighting technicians should hang their heads in shame. They came on sporadically in patches, some not at all, and there were no cheers whatsoever. Actually it was all rather embarassing, luckily I wasn't the one who had employed the lighting guys.....

Friday, 20 November 2009

Whingey Baby

So, JJ is teething. Great. That means that I have been subjected to 'whingey baby' syndrome all day, so much so that I now have a headache. He seemed to enjoy the toddler group this morning but didn't sleep enough after lunch. This transformed him into whingey baby and nothing will pacify for long. One minute he is fine, the next he transforms, then back again, etc. No rhyme or reason, why?

Teething gel helped a little (it was also good for my mouth ulcer!) but this was short lived. The trip to the car wash provided him with a little more sleep but then whingey baby arrived not long after he woke up. Sadly I invested in a second-hand noisy toy over the weekend which passifies whingey baby for an instant but has resulted in said headache (oh, and the underlying whine all afternoon).

Sadly, I have recently employed the help of his 'dum dum', which he only used to have during nap times and at night, during the day as this seems to comfort him and give him something to chew on. It's that age old "I always said that my child would never use a dummy" quandry. Well, I have and he seems to like it. I'll have to deal with the consequences at a later date.

Another thing, does anyone else's child grind their teeth at this age? Since his top ones have started to come through he has been doing it. It must provide pressure to relieve some of the pain, or is it just something he can now do with teeth at top and bottom? Another question on the learning curve...

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

So, why the blog?

Finally I have some time at the computer (yes, it has been too long!). Baby JJ is asleep and I have tidied up before making the so-needed-coffee and attacking the question - why am I writing this blog?

Good question. I need and outlet to the 'bringing up a baby' learning curve I have found myself on and a chance to discuss things with others. And yes, I know there are already hundreds of thousands of people out there all doing the same. Does that mean I can't too?

Each day brings new things to deal with, so you are constantly trying to catch up; hindsight is such a great thing. Here's some background: married to gorgeous husband M, living in suburbia, baby JJ born, now 8 months, still on mat leave. Life has changed quite a bit....

However, I have to say that I am really enjoying time at home with baby JJ, especially as he seems to be coming along in leaps and bounds at the moment. I remember someone saying they became really interesting from 6 months and now I can appreciate that, not that he wasn't interesting before 6 month, don't get me wrong, but obviously being less able to do things was a restriction. Now the increased vocalisation and 'wanting to be on the move' means I have to keep an eye on him all the time. Why is it that, no matter how many cushions you put around them, they always seem to manoeuvre themselves into a position where they have nothing to fall back on and inevitably do fall and cry? See photo above

Well, right in front of my eye the above has happenned. Typical! Stay still please JJ. I can see that the relative peace and tranquility of having a static baby is about to be shattered. It is clear that it won't be long before he's crawling. Watch this space (and the loss on my sanity).

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Mummy's Learning Curve Number 1: Create a Blog

What was I thinking? 8 month old baby, house in a mess....guess what, I'll create a Blog....

Not the best idea in the world. It has taken me numerous hours to sort out once the little one's been in bed (oh, and fed husband and tidied up in mean time, as you do).

I guess I just need a little more time to think about the content....?