Friday, 30 December 2011

12 12s in 2012

Because I love Americans and their self imposed rules, here are my New Year's Resolutions, which are mostly to do with knitting and cooking.  Of course.

12 unread books read (easy peasy, I have about 50 on my shelves at the moment)
12 babygros made (sewn) (easy, lucky Amanda)
12 meals from Nigella's Kitchen book  (easy)
12 pounds lost (see above) (hmm)
12 jumpers knitted (baby, adult, child) (hmm)
12 knitted things for Lucy (not the blanket)
12 knitted things for Hattie  (easy)
12 individual socks (possibly pairs) (not a chance)
12 weeks no yarn buying (except to finish projects, otherwise they become WIPs and part of the problem, not the solution) (consecutive?)
12 patterns used (easy)
12 blog posts a month (hmm)
12 other things (tbd, who can say?)

I've set myself another couple of challenges, such as "Make 12 full sized adult jumpers/cardigans in a year" and "Knit something during the massive waste of money, good lord what were we thinking marvellous celebration of sport that is the Olympics" and "Make 26 things from your Ravelry queue, what do you mean you want to make 100 things, are you insane?", as well as, you know, looking after the girls, cooking, working, Rainbows and training to be a Rainbow leader, Junior Church and housework. 

Good thing I thrive on stress really.

Making things for fun and profit

This year has been a bit of a successful one for making and sewing and creating, and most importantly selling.  I've been making baby gros with lovely things on them for friends for ages but not really doing very much else with them.  My friends love them, their babies tolerate them, and I have fun making them.  Then my friend Amanda opened an online shop, and she is selling them for me.  So far, I have sold two, and I feel as proud as anything.  I am still making them for friends, of course, but getting money for doing something fun is the best thing in the world.

I also started a blanket back in 2009 for Lucy, and she rejected it while I was pregnant with Hattie, saying that it was for the baby.  I have finally finished it, and it is on the baby's bed this evening.  It is lined and everything. 

I am rather pimping this photo out, it has been on facebook, twitter, ravelry and all sorts, but it is a lovely one I think.  I am as proud as proud of my work, the knitting, crocheting, sewing and procreating.

Other things I've made this year have been fish mittens that were too small for me, but perfect for Gaby,

a kitten jumper for my friend Kaili's baby daughter, Posy, which was more of a pain in the bum than it looks, thanks to me having decided to ignore the pattern and knit it in the round,

and Simon's wedding anniversary socks with a triforce and three hearts on the forest green background,

We are nerds, and he loves Zelda, so there you go, synergy.  Because he is sad, he wears them while playing the new Zelda game, which I actually really quite enjoy watching, and helping him complete.  Because I am a bit useless, they were started well before our anniversary on the 4th of August, and were finished well after.

I've made lots and lots of things this year, but I think these four are my personal favourites.

Roll on 2012 and a whole new wardrobe.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Unable to be more interesting than this

Well, Christmas went off without any problems.  I'm glad it's all over now, as it was remarkably stressful, emotionally and physically.  We, as in the girls and I, went to see my parents in Cambridge, which is always amusing - highlights include me getting cystitis, having to ask for help with the children while on antibiotics that didn't work, being told that the reason Hattie isn't walking is because I don't pay her enough attention and coming home. 
The best bit of the day itself was going to church and genuinely enjoying the peace and quiet joy of the service, even given the girls climbing all over us and shouting.  Matthew the vicar made the cardinal error of picking Lucy up for a cuddle and realising that she is deceptively heavy - 2 and a half stone at last weigh in.  The day before was the Christingle service with a Nativity, and that was very lovely and mildly stressful.

Simon did all the cooking on Christmas Day, which earned him massive Brownie points with everyone we know - gosh, imagine, a man! Cooking! How unusual!  It also means that I will be doing all the cooking for the first fortnight of the New Year, which is fine, it'll make a change and I enjoy cooking, so long as I have something interesting to listen to on the wireless and someone else does the washing up.

My brother in law was his usual charmless self, but I must try to be positive or at least vaguely polite about him as he has given us the gift of time together for Christmas, which is really what both of us wanted.  His friend works for the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, and can get good seats cheaply, so Jamie and Jim are treating us to a meal, a night at the opera or ballet and overnight babysitting.  Fantastic and really surprisingly thoughtful of both of them.

The girls, especially Lucy, were utterly spoilt over Christmas, but the excitement has worn off, and apart from being foul at around 4 pm, they are back in their usual routines.  Hattie is being conned into having two day sleeps, which she is very grumpy about, and we are attempting some quiet time with Lucy.  Admittedly, I think I enjoy sitting and listening to a story more than she does, but I'll keep trying at weekends and during holidays.  Hopefully she will be happy to go up to her room and play with her dolls' house by herself soon.  My dad has renovated my dolls' house and the girls are borrowing it for the next 10 or so years; it was my favourite thing, and I am so pleased that we have a house large enough to keep it - it is enormous.

Hattie is almost walking.  God help us all.

I wanted to write a huge post about the wonderful books I'm reading (Magnificent Obsession - eye opening) (Middlemarch - frustrating) and about the mountains of knitting I've managed to finish (masses - including the FLOWER BLANKET) but I'm just too, too tired.  Next time.

Happy belated Christmas.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Getting it off my chest

This time last year I was in Queen Charlotte's, the maternity hospital next to the White City estate, listening to Persuasion, and cuddled up with my tiny little baby.  Hattie was born on the 3rd by elective c-section, weighing in at 7lb 10, just 1 ounce heavier than her sister, and than me when I was born.  Thanks to my gestational diabetes, she was whipped out two weeks early, so she probably would have been massive if I'd been able to have her naturally, as I'd desperately wanted to.

I've been reading a lot about childbirth and babies recently - maybe my body/someone is trying to tell me something - and a lot of it is making me as mad as a wet hen.  The natural birth lobby are up in arms over c-sections, and there are lots of comments from people who didn't have them about how difficult they are to recover from.  The home birth lobby are all in favour of a return to the days when women and babies died in childbirth at home with just the midwife for company - I am exaggerating but out of two people I've known who had home births, the outcomes were utterly gutwrenchingly awful for everyone concerned. 

I've had two pregnancies and two births via c-section and while I didn't really want to be cut open and have my babies pulled out, my body wasn't having it any other way.  I went into labour naturally with Lucy the first time and then, nothing.  The obstetrician I saw when I was expecting Hattie told me bluntly that it wasn't likely that I'd have a natural birth the second time, and I should really consider my options.  My choices were a c-section on that Friday or the following Friday, and at 37 weeks pregnant, massive, stressed, diabetic and chasing a fast-paced toddler, it wasn't a particularly hard decision.  I wish I could have popped the babies out like peas, one after another, but it wasn't for me.  One hundred years ago and I might not have made it through my first labour.

We have the right to choose where and how we give birth; however, we don't always get our own way, and sometimes our bodies do not work.  We are not ill when we are pregnant, and yes, as a species we have been giving birth in the same way forever and a day, but the baby will only fit through the pelvis in one rotation, and sometimes that rotation doesn't happen naturally.  Sometimes it is actually safer for you and for the baby for your pregnancy and birth to be closely monitored and for medical intervention/interference to take place.  And the NCT telling us that the NHS want us to be well behaved and quiet during childbirth - fucking hell.  Tinfoil hat time, chaps.

People to read for two opposing views:

Sunday, 27 November 2011

One Day

I joined an online book club, thinking that I could do with a bit of a challenge, what with my life being so empty and everything.  My friend Ruth has started this blog here, which I read every now and then, and the first virtual meet-up is this evening.  Unfortunately, I'm out tonight, so I thought I'd write a blog post with a review of the book.

I wanted a challenge, and I got one.  I've heard all sorts of opinions about this book, from "Oh my God, it made me cry", to "I flung it in the dustbin and then set fire to it", and so was interested to read it.  The challenge was not in the writing, or the plot, or the characters, it was in finishing the damn thing without heaving it out of the window.  The protagonists are deeply unlikeable for lots of different reasons, and, while I often read things about people I wouldn't have in the house, the writing and the plot are too weak to carry the characters.  It's an easy and light read, I'll give it that, which is good for the brain-dead, but my God, I've never been so cross with myself over literature.  My instinct was that I wouldn't like it, and reading it in the charity shop made me a bit cross, so I don't know why I bothered.  At least I can say that I have read it now, and I am not going to the trouble of watching the film.

For what it's worth, I think he would have had a better book if he'd forgotten he'd written Cold Feet, and missed out the bit that was lifted straight from the telly.  I know you should never waste good material, but bad material can be thrown out. 

The other online book group is more promising - Middlemarch with dovegreyreader.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Mostly about disgusting people

Some days I could just scream and scream and scream, and this is one of them.  I have a proper head cold, all sniffles and snot and headaches but not really ill enough to justify staying in bed for a whole day.  Frustatingly, I caught from the children at school, most of whom have been away in the last couple of weeks. 

My least favourite child is a disgusting ball of snot - today, he spat something out on the carpet; yeuck.  I mentioned him to our childminder - her reaction? I bet he's foreign.  Well, yes, his family is from Sri Lanka, as it happens.  She had once seen an Indian man spit in the streets, and thought of telling him that he should go back to his own country and spit there.  A charming woman.  Can't wait to stop using her.

Today, in more spitting news, the nanny of another child spat on the ground outside our Nursery.  If I see her doing that again, I am going to call her on it, as it is disgusting.  Yeuck, yeuck.  I hate my job sometimes.

What else?  I got a load of Christmas information - lots of money to spend on a night out with my colleagues, I don't THINK so.  I am not going to our Christmas meal as it is just too complicated with the girls schedules, so I will hoy my Secret Santa into the bag and give it a miss.  I could do it if I want to, but I really, really don't. 

Three good things:

I sold a baby grow for a tenner.
My friend has had a baby, and wants a baby grow.
It is nearly Hattie's birthday.  I can't believe it.

Oh golly, I just can't bear it any longer.  I need a new job.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Total fail

I have given up on this NaPloBloMoDo whatsit, mainly because there is only 1 thing I want to write about and I am actually probably not allowed to until the police leave.

Intriguing no?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Stories about socks

I like to knit socks.  I find them meditative and comfy to wear, and because I like to knit them in the car, I like to make very dull socks, with stripes as the only distraction from round and round and round and round.  I like making the heel, especially now I can make them without a pattern, because I am CLEVER and BRILLIANT, not because once you can make a heel, it is a very easy thing to do.

According to my ravelry page, I have made 15 and a half pairs of socks, with another pair cast on but not worked on for a while, as I lost interested under a shower of baby stuff. 

Isn't knitting wonderful?

Honestly, this is the best I can manage tonight, my brain is totally frazzled.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Contains showing off

So.  The work thing.  My colleague, and job share partner, had a word with the Deputy Head and we've all agreed to keep things like they are, mostly because Lisa is furious about being treated any differently and because, well, you know, it works and we don't want to change something good.  What I have done, as a token effort to make small changes, is change the time we prepare fruit and milk, and to go outside and shout to the children that they can come and play inside if they want.  I feel a right wally doing it, but politics is politics.

Gosh.  How very mindless.

That aside, these are my children:

I think they are adorable.  The baby also thinks that she is a wonderful actress; we have had to watch this clip on the itoy about 7 times tonight.  To be fair to her, the bit with her sister is the favourite bit, and she laughs her little head off every time she sees it.

Not much else happening here really.

Monday, 7 November 2011

But we always do it like that

Or, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I am a Nursery teacher in a fairly good school in a pretty challenging part of Ealing - ie it isn't as nice as where we live, but it's hardly Acton, and the kids tend not to have one or other of their parents in jail.  We have an above average proportion of children with English as their second language; to put it into context, I have 25 children in my Nursery class, 4 of them have English as a first language, and 3 others have excellent English, and don't count them as EAL.  The area has gone from being all fields, with a massive brewery in the middle to urban sprawl with no heart or soul, as the land is part owned by Brent and part by Ealing.  We take kids from both boroughs, although we are officially Ealing.  It is, as I say, an interesting mix.

Some of my colleagues have been at the school for over 20 years.  They have seen the changes in the area, as the white working class have mostly been priced out, and have dug their heels in and refused to change anything.  Any inovation is met by my favourite phrase in all the world, the one that makes me want to kill people, "But we always do it like that".  Until today.  Today the Deputy Head, 25 years in the same school, came in to Nursery, realised that I was on my own with a child who was not allowed to be outside (biting) and that Lisa, the Nursery Nurse, was outside on her own with the other children.  I was told that this wasn't right, that she wasn't paid to have the entire class on her own (she is), that I was paid more than her therefore I should have the bulk of the children (I am, and frankly it is a disgrace, she is expected to do lots more than the TAs and she doesn't get much more cash than they do) and that Lisa is PREGNANT and therefore should not be allowed to sit outside and keep an eye on the mixed infants.  I pointed out that it was free choice, the children were allowed to be in or out depending on their inclination and that they had chosen to be outside as it wasn't raining/snowing/miserable.  Apparently, this is not in the Early Years curriculum (it is).  Apparently, free choice should be half the children being allowed to play outside while the other half play inside.  Apparently, free choice means anything but.  We are already told that we don't provide a truly child led curriculum, as every day there are at least two activities that the children more or less have to do - such terrible things as name writing! counting! learning to cut with scissors! drawing! gluing! colouring in! - and now we have to moderate our practice yet again.

Lisa and I discussed this.  She has been in the Nursery for about 10 years.  She knows what she's doing.  She runs the Nursery with a rod of iron.  She has decided that we are doing it just fine; we don't need to change anything, and our DH can just bugger off.  I will be putting this arguement to her tomorrow: we provide a free choice, and while we are subscribed to that, one person needs to be inside and the other outside and sometimes it makes more sense for it to be me, and at other times it will be Lisa.  This arrangement has worked very successfully for the last 10 years at least, and while I can see that there is potential for it to change, it would be a shame to change something that works well for something that may or may not be successful.  Also, with regards to Lisa's pregnancy, should she feel at all uncomfortable, unwell or otherwise distressed about any aspect of her job, I will immediately do all in my power to make sure that she isn't inconvenienced for long; she knows this, and is a bit annoyed that it is being brought up as an issue.  In conclusion,  "but we always do it like that", and f-off.

Good God, I need a new job.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Ain't no party like a Rainbows party

Two posts in one day to make up for missing out yesterday; cheating?  Who gives a damn?
Despite not having really enjoyed Girl Guides when I was a child, I've started helping out at our local-ish Rainbows group.  It's been really good fun, and the week after next I'm going to run the activity myself, and I've got a brilliant penguin based craft thing to do, which I'm hoping will be engaging enough for Lucy and Elsie (3 and nearly 3) and for 20 Rainbows (5 and 6) to enjoy. 

The unit my friend Sarah runs was founded 18 years ago, so we had a party today for the 2 packs in the very nice (expensive) bit of Ealing.  These are, therefore, nice little girls, priviledged, English speakers, at good, often private, schools, and behave as such.  So a couple of tears from the one who always cries, a sulk from the one who always sulks and doesn't like to join in, a lot of shocked faces when told that they have to be quiet and listen to their Rainbow Owl but generally a good time was had by all, even Lucy.

I have a severe headache, however, and had to have a little sleep on the sofa when I just couldn't take it anymore.

Pass the wine.

Sleep deprived

So Friday night Lucy had a bad dream, and the result was that I ended up "sleeping" in her bed for about an hour between 3 and 4am.  I hoped vainly that this might result in her sleeping in a bit, but no such luck, and I was up again at 6:30 with both of them wide awake and ready to play. 

Saturday passed in something of a blur; my sleep deprived state meant that I thought it would be a good idea to take Harriet into Oxford Street to go to John Lewis when it opened. Apart from the inescapable horror of train journies with a very active baby determined to practise standing and shouting at all times, it was very civilised.  Apparently, no one in Ealing gets up before 10, so the train was empty, and although there were slightly more people in town, it was still pretty empty.  I got to both JL and Liberty when they opened, and spent a long time petting the Rowan in both shops, looking for a substitute for something I thought I had plenty of, but which I only had a tiny amount.  In the end, interestingly enough, I've decided to go for a major design change, which will result in the garment either looking fantastic or utterly rubbish.

I bought a small amount of wool for a Paper Dolls jumper, and will start it before the end of the month; my small contribution to Wovember.  I've also decided on the yarn for a Sarah Lund jumper, and found a pattern of sorts that I can make without crying, stamping, throwing or basically being an arse.  Anyway, hopefully I will make a start on both of these next week, after I've cleared the sewing mountain.

We went to Ealing Cricket Club fireworks on Saturday, and guess who had a major, major meltdown, and who thought they were the best thing ever, and MumMumMum look?  Lucy's sleepless night caught up with her, and she was distressed at being kept up past her bedtime, whereas Hattie's two naps of an hour and two hours meant that she was wide awake and very, very excited.  I slung her for the first time in ages.  Let us say that there is a reason that I am not a baby-wearing mamma, and it is that my children seem to be on the larger side of normal. 

Roll on the working week, it's bound to be more relaxing than the weekend.

Friday, 4 November 2011

No time like the present

I've just got a copy of Stephanie Pearl-Mcphee's new book, All Wound Up, and so far have only been able to read the first chapter.  It is all about those people who look at you pityingly and say "I wish I had time to knit", when what they are really saying is "surely, surely you have something better to do with your life?" 

Anyway, I don't have the time or inclination to reproduce SPM's answer to that - basically, she says "Do one" - but I will add that people always have time to do the things they want to do, and if I am saying that I don't have the time to blog, it means that I don't want to write anything.  But I do want to complete this nablopomo whatsit.  Hence this.

I also feel very queasy, which I hope is due to the pizza and not to the bug that has been floating around school for the past couple of weeks.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Total fail

I don't think I have anything nice to say.  So in the best primary school tradition, I'm not going to say anything at all.

Let's hope for a better tomorrow really.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

I can, you know

I have a child in my class who is exactly the same age as Lucy, possibly even to the minute, and I was very worried in case he turned out to be a genius, being able to count, read, sit quietly on the carpet listening to a story, putting his hand up when he wants to ask a question, translate from English to French and put his shoes on the right feet.  Fortunately, Lucy can do all of these things, and he cannot.  He isn't ready for Nursery yet; he needs another month or so; unfortunately for him, we are so oversubscribed that his place would be gone in a flash.  What he can do is scream and scream and scream.  It is heartrending, although less so when he screams and screams and screams until he is sick.  I really hoped I was done with sick for the time being, after my washout of a half term.

Lucy, on the other hand, bounces into Nursery, laughing with joy and hugging all the staff members.  While it's not really been a choice, putting her in a "pre-school", as I've had to go back to work to fund the Waitrose lifestyle, it's been absolutely the best thing for her, and she's really enjoyed herself.

In Wovember news, read this:

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Knitting with one needle

I've been back at work for a month.  Least said, soonest mended.

Half term came and went in a bit of a blur; the girls and Simon were all sick, I was the only strong one with nerves/guts of steel, so spent a lot of time cleaning up and doing the washing.  Fun it wasn't.

I want to do this NaBloPoMo thing - ie write in the blog every day for a month - mostly as a way to get myself doing some more writing and as a way to vent my real frustrations surrounding my job. 

Also, this month I am growing a moustache.  Or only wearing wool.  I forget which.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Tongue in cheek

Continuing the food theme, as it's the most important thing in my life at the moment, I have been doing all sorts of easy cooking this evening.  Nigella Lawson put a tweet up about her no churn Margarita ice cream, and I thought, Monday night, why not?  125ml of lime juice, that's why not.  It went in my eyes, in my hair and all over me, but I think I got just about enough.  Mixed with Gran Marnier, tequila, whipped cream and icing sugar, it's currently in the freezer, waiting for tomorrow night, when I shall have forgotten all about it.  Another one of my school friends asked me if I was making my own tequila; I am a mum of two stroppy little madams, working for a woman I despise, of course I'm not giving up booze.  The unprocessed lot can do one if they think I am. 

So, anyway, with my head full of Margarita ice cream dreams, I flicked through Nigella Express, you know, the one where she appeared on television as a parody of herself, and I hope she is better now, as it broke my heart.  I'm sure she was on some kind of serious medication and no one told her that she was better off being at home, getting better.  Anyway.  I found, on page 94, the recipe for Breakfast Bars, which would be perfect for my suddenly on a massive health kick husband, as all the ingredients are natural and healthy, barring the tin of condensed milk.  Although I find that I could make condensed milk in the kitchen using a saucepan, a thermometer and about a tonne of sugar, so I think it counts as unprocessed.  *glare*

The bars are cooking, the ice cream is freezing, and I've successfully taken my mind off the horror that was returning to work.


Sunday, 2 October 2011


My school friend moved to Canada a while back and is now living a disgustingly healthy life in somewhere idyllic with monumentally breathtakingly beautiful scenery and bears and moose and things like that. I struggle with jealousy issues, especially when it is grey and drizzly here in W13, and even in the beautiful weather we've been having here.

Like, it seems, all Canadians, she is very outdoors-y and is constantly ski-ing, going for long walks with her son in a backpack, and eats only fresh fruit and vegetables. She is participating in a "challenge", and what is it with North Americans and their self imposed challenges? Seriously, the knitters I "know" via Ravelry are always "challenging themselves" not to buy wool, to only knit continental, to make 12 things in 12 minutes, and other crazy things. Can't we just enjoy life and living? Who outside of you and your immediate family cares if you've spent the mortgage money on wool? Have some self control! I have never, ever, committed an emotional purchase and you can tell that from the minimalist lifestyle I advocate and the tidy and disciplined state of my home and yarn stash.

Anyway, she is participating in this challenge here, which actually looks like a GOOD THING, and not really that far removed from what I will grandly call my eating and food philosophy.

Local, fresh, organic where not stupidly expensive, home made and ready meals once in a blue moon.

I will be actively avoiding buying bread for a month, as I make a better loaf than I can buy, and we can slice it thin enough for the Fusspot's sandwiches. I can make butter, but you know, life is just too short. I already make my own jam and it won't kill me to stop buying chocolate for me and the children for a month. I will still be eating sausages, ham and cheese, and buying Petit Filous, as both girls love them, but everything else will be home-made, or at least sourced locally.

To this end, I have spent today making chocolate and hazelnut spread, crab apple jelly and chicken stock, from a boiler hen, £2 from our local butcher. Amazing. I've pureed some pears for Hattie's breakfast tomorrow, and I'm going to make a loaf of bread in a bit.

Last night, we started as we mean to go on by having homemade burgers and chips with a tomato salad. Wonderful, and the fusspot ate a huge amount too. I think I rather spoilt it by eating a hangover busting Scotch egg with two pints of Diet Coke for lunch though...

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Micro-celebrity corner

There is a house on the corner of our road and the one perpendicular to it that was, until relatively recently, owned by an old couple. It was a fairly bog standard, end of terrace Victorian job, with probably 3 or 4 bedrooms and a smallish garden. It was bought about a year ago by a couple with 3 kids, and they gutted it. I remember watching 1960s type fittings being hauled out and dumped on a skip, a loft extension being added, a chimney put, completely without planning permission of any kind, up the side and a totally out of keeping pair of round windows added - because the stairwell is so dark - again, without any sort of planning permission being obtained. We complained about the chimney, as it is ugly and a bit of a fire hazard, ironically enough, but have thought no more about our new neighbours, except that they are clearly thoughtless idiots, with far too much money, and admittedly, a beautiful house.

It turns out that she is Mel thingymebob who was half of Mel and Sue. You know, the one of the telly. Not the one with the specs, the other one. How exciting.

And to make our little corner of West Ealing even more exciting, the house that is now overlooked by the horrible and ugly little round windows is owned by Marijne from Salad. I know! Hollywood has nothing on us.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The sound of one child shouting

Lucy and I are having more and more rows at the moment. She is pushing every single one of my buttons and it is driving me nuts. Tonight's row was about going to bed; I wanted it to happen as soon as possible, she wanted me to read her the stories of her choice from the top shelf, play a game on our bed, let her run around making a lot of noise while the baby slept, go in and see the baby, waking her up if necessary and take her own clothes off as slowly as possible. It ended up with me putting her in bed, in her pyjamas, not reading a story and going downstairs to the sound of shouting.

I like to be in control, and this is absolutely impossible with very young children. I have to keep on telling myself that I have no control over her behaviour, I can only control my reactions to her behaviour. At the moment, these are explosive and shouty, and I end up with severe headaches most evenings. I am trying to be firmer with her, to give her more boundaries, to help her understand that when I say "NO", I mean it, and she is not to keep going on and on and shouting at me.

I think that this is the hardest part of parenthood, this realisation that we have very little control over these tiny things we have brought into the world. They will do as we say, they will learn to be good little citizens with our help, we can threat and cajoule them to do the "right thing" or to do whatever it is that we have asked them to do, but in the end, we cannot control their actions. I have to come to terms with this, otherwise I will get some form of ulcer by the time I'm 40.

Fortunately, at the moment, the rows Lucy and I have can be resolved with a bit of time, a couple of tears, and a lot of cuddles. Tonight, for example, I went back up about an hour later to check on her and she immediately said that she was sorry and that she loved me and could we be friends again. I think I may be doing something right after all.

Some more thoughts about knitting

The dodo socks proved to be too much for me. I've ripped them out and am turning them into a pair of pale blue and grey socks for me, which will be good travel knitting, and probably won't be finished this side of Christmas. The dodos will be made into Andy Warhol-esque blanket squares; ie different coloured dodos on different coloured backgrounds.

Knitting. Actually quite stressful for something that is meant to be fun.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


I have pinched this photo from The Women's Room, a blog I read and have a great deal of time for. But honestly, these are UGLY, whether they are endorsed by Mary Portas or not.

Some of the other shoes on the website are really quite pretty, although they have very daft names.

Some thoughts about knitting

Or why the hell did I decide to make f-ing dodo socks?

For some reason, I just can't make these effing socks do what they're supposed to do; ie look as if they will fit human feet and legs. I got as far as the bodies of the dodos the other night, and they were too tight, too annoying and just WRONG in every way, so I ripped them back and started again. Twice. I am now working on their stupid smug little faces for the third time, and if they don't work out this time, I'm going to either use the pattern to make into a blanket square or swear blind I've never heard of the pattern, or the gone birds project, or even Margaret Atwood. I might even go as far as swearing I'd never even heard of socks.

I don't know. Knitting is supposed to be a fun hobby. Something I do with my hands that isn't smoking, eating or drinking. Something that uses automatic muscle memory. Something that I enjoy. It is turning competitive, at least against myself; I do not have a competitive nature. I hate all forms of sodding sport. This is an endurance race, and if I manage to complete one sock without crying, swearing, shredding an entire ball of sock yarn or killing my loved ones, I will be happy.

Monday, 5 September 2011


So, it is Lucy's birthday next week. She is 3. I can't believe it, blah, blah. Relatives have been asking for present suggestions; I have told them that Lucy really likes real things such as helping with the cooking, helping us to feed her sister, pushing the buggy, going to the supermarket and other things that are important and boring and grown up. Her aunt Esther has bought her a cashtill with proper products to buy and plastic money and a credit card and all sorts. Her grandad has bought her a buggy with a dolly that cries and is really super annoying (he is on a list). Her uncle Tim and aunt Jane have put their names down for a doctor's kit. Her uncle Jamie has asked us what she would like. Here are some emails.

From Simon:

Apparently this is what she really really REALLY wants.,default,pd.html

Her friend has the smaller one and also she's been playing with one in ELC today and Juls couldn't get her away from it. I think there used to be a pink and a blue model but now this is the only one they still sell. And it doesn't look as horrible as the pink one in my view. Maybe you could get Dad to chip in?

The reply:

The link doesn't work? I can read on the link it's a kitchen or something? Hmmm I'd rather not buy her housewife type stuff to be honest, I'd rather buy her something scientific, creative or sporty!

I have a couple of ideas but I think I should keep them a surprise! (Not a 50cc mini-moto I promise!) ;)

I am really quite cross about this. Does he not eat? Does he not realise that his brother, my husband, Lucy's father, a man, does something like 75% of the cooking our house? Has he not realised that most chefs are men? Has he never heard of Heston Blumenthal and the application of science to cooking? Does he not realise that the simple art of feeding your family and yourself is creative, nurturing, scientific, requires maths, complex thought and a degree of imagination? I will allow that it isn't sporty.

I am raising Lucy to be a strong, independently minded person, and to know that she is capable of doing whatever she wants, whenever she wants. Obviously, this isn't actually that hard with Lucy. The problem we have is restraining her from doing whatever she wants, whenever she wants. My sodding brother in law, who at the age of 35 has not realised that if he says what he thinks, he needs to think about what he says, is implying that we are bringing her up with gender stereotypes; what makes me absolutely furious, boiling mad to the point of punching him, is that had either of our girls been born boys, they would have been inundated with Black and Decker mini-workbenches, trains, diggers, tractors, you name it.

Gender stereotyping. It works both ways.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Things to do when your children are asleep

I have cut 200g of rosehips in half, and am making rosehip syrup. It is as interesting as it sounds.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Some things about knitting

Margaret Atwood, who I admire enormously (obviously), is on Twitter. A while back, she announced she was joining ravelry, as she is a knitter. She is also involved in this project:

She mentioned on Twitter, and I wondered whether dodos knitted on socks would count. She messaged me (!) to say that they would indeed count, and so I searched the internet for a suitable picture to translate into a knitting pattern and ended up with the picture at the top of this post.

Anyway, they are going to go on a pair of socks, on the legs. I will use Stephanie Pearl--McPhee's basic pattern but with a short row heel. I think I will use a pale blue as the main colour. I had to buy the yarn as I have no grey sock yarn. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

In other knitting news, the Swedish fish mittens are super easy to make. Hurrah for SpillyJane.

Mostly abou tcooking

Today, as I don't have to look after the girls, I have been doing a mental amount of cooking. I've made three pots of damson jam, which has set to perfection, and a pot and a half of a chocolate sort of fudge spread, which tastes a bit strange. I'm also going to bake a plum cake using the plums Maxine gave me over a week ago; only three of them had gone bad, so that's pretty good.

I've also scalded my finger sterilising a jar. Bum.

Friday, 24 June 2011


Lucy has discovered a revolutionary new way of saving time when using the potty: don't take your knickers off.


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

I've got a bit of time as Harriet is spark out, and Lucy is at Cubs with her father. Hurrah. The house is very, very quiet, except for the last chapter of Unnatural Death on the iplayer, which has just come to a close. Supper is cooked, a roast chicken as they are 2 for tenner at our Farmers' Market. I want to make a teacake later, but it can wait.

Have we been busy? I can't remember, how strange. I know I went on four buses in order to get to St Margarets in order to meet Jane Brocket and buy her new book, which is lovely and I am planning to make a pair of socks from it; the cables look warm and cosy. Harriet and I went into London to meet up with a friend for lunch, which would have been nice had she not decided to stay awake for as long as possible and then have a proper screaming fit because she was exhausted. Silly rabbit.

I taught Junior Church; there were two children. It was a lovely, relaxed session, and we ended up in the Ark, doing some colouring in. Helen the curate is going to be a grandmother at Christmas, so I am going to knit her grandchild a small token. We will get our children into a church school. She's always been so kind and friendly to us and Lucy adores her, so it would be a nice thing to do, I think.

Lucy has potty trained herself, and we haven't had an accident since Sunday. That's only two days, but it's still pretty good. She now loudly announces that she needs a poo, and will often just go and sit on the potty when she needs to, and doesn't want to be prompted all the time, which is brilliant. I went to her parents evening too, she is doing very well indeed.

I honestly can't think of anything else that has happened; more knitting, cleaning, cooking, baking and running around after an increasingly mobile baby.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Catch up

So. We went to Somerset to see Sophie, Daniel and the lovely little Oliver, who is going to be my godson. It was a bit of an adventure; Lyn and I have 3 children under 3 and we were trying to keep them entertained on the journey. Lucy was excellently behaved, except for just before the train pulled into West Ealing, when, of course, it didn't really matter that much anymore.

Sophie seems very calm and relaxed, enjoying being a stay at home mummy. I wish I could be the same sometimes, but I get terribly frustrated with not having an income and furious with having to ask for cash. I do think I've got the best of both worlds, working part-time, although I did feel marginalised at work, and would like to be doing something that's taken more seriously than Nursery. I keep telling myself it won't be like this forever, and I should just live in the moment and enjoy today blah blah blah, but it's difficult being Pollyanna.

Harriet and I managed to get into London to the V&A, to see The Cult of Beauty; Harriet does not like exhibitions. She was alright, and on the verge of sleeping, until I went into the exhibition itself, and then the big noise and the fighting Mummy started. Ah well. It wasn't so special that I had to look at every single piece in total silence, and it was totally rammed - on a Tuesday! Don't these people have jobs? We met up with Hat's godmother and her daughter; Flora, being that bit older, was absolutely fine, just getting a bit bored at the end. Hattie's main objection was that she wanted to go to sleep, and all this noise was stopping her from dropping off, and why wasn't she allowed to have scones and jam and cream, and it's not fair.

We also went to Northampton to see a friend - she is also blessed with a very bossy little girl, so Emma and Lucy bossed each other around fairly happily all afternoon, mostly watching endless Charlie and Lola episodes. Lucy was also very upset and frightened by the dog, although this dog is well trained, lovely and very friendly. Lucy did not approve of her, screaming and crying. In a way, I can see why she is frightened, but I wish she wasn't; it's very tiring, and I played with the dog and cuddled her to show Lucy that she wasn't scarey, but we were having none of it. She tried to pull this stunt with Sophie's cats, but I was having none of that.

I've got another day off today; Simon has taken the girls to Rye House in Hertfordshire, to watch Jamie bugger about on his motorbike, and I've been knitting, sewing and generally not doing very much. I was going to make a blueberry clafoutis, but someone ate the blueberries and I'd have to go outside to get more, and I just can't be bothered. Another time.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Day off

I went to the V&A today, on my own, with no children, and no responsibilities.

V & A 14

There is a very interesting exhibition called "The Cult of Beauty" but, being a Saturday, it was heaving, so I just wandered around aimlessly.

V & A 10

A couple of things fell into my shopping bag - some notelets, a postcard with owls on it and an "L" and an "H" printing blocks. I am planning to buy some ink to show Lucy how to print her name - how could this end badly?

V & A 2

As I was near the Fulham Road, I walked down as far as I could be bothered, went to a delicatessen, Daunt Books, had lunch at Paul, and generally enjoyed myself. I even sat on the top deck of a double decker bus. Twice! How exciting. It's very liberating not having the buggy.

In knitting news, I am making a purple jumper for Lucy. The ungrateful little so and so, having chosen the yarn herself, is now rejecting it. Joining a "stash down!" group on Ravelry has prompted a flurry of yarn buying - mostly Noro too, which quickly becomes super expensive. All because I want to make this:

Ideally, I will make it over the next year or two, thus reducing the expense to acceptable levels.

Friday, 13 May 2011

I made this

Geri lost her husband. We loved him very much indeed. I wanted to do something, so I made her this to celebrate her new life as a rollergirl. She took the pictures, which is why they are better quality than usual.

Embroidery by me 2

It's not bad for a first attempt.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Time on my hands

Specifically, 22 minutes, then I have to go and collect Lucy. Harriet is snoozing - she is sleeping very badly in the day at the moment, and it affected her sleep last night - 2 wake ups, both with great big feeds. I also did a bit of a quick and dirty weigh-in with her - she's 1 stone 1 pound, which is what she was at last month's q&d weigh-in, so either I am hopeless at weighing her, or she isn't gaining weight. Hopefully I can take her to a proper weigh in this week or next and get a more accurate figure; I'm not worried yet, just a bit concerned. I'll probably have to make a bit more of an effort to take her once a fortnight, just to check I'm doing things properly. She's a happy little soul, and looks perfectly pink and fit to me.

What else? We had a very happy Easter at my parents, although they drive me insane with rage every now and then. They regard their grandchildren as somewhat of a chore to be endured, rather than a pleasure to be enjoyed, so too bad for them, they are missing out. Lucy has discovered that she only really likes our church - we went to Linton church on Easter Sunday and she was bored rigid. No one even gave her a biscuit! Actually, the Croydens did not cover themselves with glory at that service. Harriet has recently discovered her "loud" voice, which is trying, and she uses it when things aren't going her way, or she hasn't been fed for half an hour or so. We are going to put her on solids in the next couple of weeks. Can't wait.

I'm re-reading "A Spot of Bother" by Mark Haddon at the moment. It is quite good. I think I'm up to 30 books since January 1st now, not including ebooks - I have come round to the idea of a kindle - not the reality, I'm not buying one - now I've discovered that the Oz books are all available as digital versions for free. I've been wanting to own them for ages, but they are expensive and hard to find, so I've held off buying them; using the wonders of the ibooks iPod app means that I got them instantly and for nothing. They aren't very good, and I feel that L Frank Baum just brushed his bum against a typewriter for the later ones, but it's nice to re-read them after all this time.

The flower blanket was pushed into service last night, despite not yet being finished. It is looking amazing at the moment, I'm so impressed with myself. It doesn't bear too close inspection though, but the errors can't be seen from a trotting horse, so nevermind.

Time's up.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


Good Lord, I'm tired. Harriet is teething. At 4 months. It's not fair. Also, she had her third set of jabs today, so is feeling very sad and sorry for herself, poor little monkey. She keeps grabbing my finger and shoving it in her mouth, and I can feel the little stubs of teeth that are on the point of breaking through. It's meant that she has cried a lot today, and refused to sleep. All she wants is to be cuddled on my shoulder. Being in the sling is not good enough. Being in her chair is not good enough. Being in the Bumbo is not good enough. My shoulders and neck ache like mad; my daughter weighs a good stone. Mary, our Practice Nurse, told me that she was a good size today and that I needed bother going to the Baby Clinic unless I feel like it. So I won't.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

What new things can I write about today? I had a trip into London last week to meet up with my friend and her daughter, and we were very "ladies who lunch" in John Lewis. I was a bit disappointed with JL; I had a look through their patterns, and every single one I wanted was out of stock. So I only bought some fabric to make a buggy sling for Lucy's toy buggy and some cotton to complete Harriet's blanket, as well as some sock yarn for socks for a friend. Bah. I went to Communion today with Harriet; it felt like the right thing to do. We are so blessed in our family, and have nothing to complain about.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

A flurry of posts

So, my Cherry and Almond cake turned out like this: Collapsed cake and my Tea Cake is still absorbing tea at the rate of one sultana an hour, but the muffins came out well, although only one was eaten by each person, which is a bit rubbish. I shall have to have two or three to make up for their reluctance. I went to church by myself this morning, which was liberating in many ways, and also boring, and made sure I got myself into the minutes of the AGM by seconding the re-election of the sidespeople. How terribly exciting. The sermon was terrible; she kept asking us to turn to your partner and discuss the topic, and I know that that is what you do when you haven't got enough material to fill your entire lesson. Rubbish. Charlie and I sat at the back and did a lot of giggling, and also nodded off once or twice. Not much else. Lucy loves her big girl's duvet, and slept through until nearly 10, which is amazing. Harriet woke up at 5:20, so really 4:20, so really in the middle of the night. They have all gone out to a tennis club open day, so I am going to knit in front of the television.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done

Well, I took the girls to Ikea, and it wasn't that bad. Harriet, who is a very good girl, slept through the whole experience, and Lucy, who is often a very good girl, ate an entire Swedish pastry, chose a duvet and pillowcase set, ran riot around the children's department, bossing all the other children around, allowed me to change her nappy without even a pout and came home without any complaints afterwards.

We bought all sorts of things for big girls, and Lucy is so taken with her duvet cover that she refused to come downstairs for lunch and needed a bribe. She was very keen to have a little rest, which would have been ideal at any time save lunchtime, and, of course, as soon as she'd had her lunch, she didn't want another sleep.

I have some photos of Kew and the Orchid Extravaganza. They were beautiful, and a much needed shot of colour during a fairly drab early March.

Orchids at kew

More here:

We have people coming for tea; I am baking a Cherry and Almond Loaf Cake, which smells quite nice. I want to make Chocolate Chip Muffins for tomorrow morning, and a Tea Cake to take to church, for the Bring and Share Lunch. I don't think I'll stay for long, but a token effort is required, and this cake is so, so easy, I can make it before 10 tomorrow, even if I get up at 8.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Stuff and things

Some photos of our holiday:


It was a shame that Ouma had to be in the sick bay for almost the entirity of our holiday, but we managed to see her almost every day, and she spent just enough time with her young great grand-daughters, although I'm sure she'd disagree. The girls are not very restful for a 93 year old; funny that.

I can't be bothered to write reviews for all the books I've read recently, but some highlights are The Morville Hours, which I enjoyed so much that I'm actually going to buy it for myself, along with its companion book, and The Love Verb by Jane Green, which was sentimental drivel, but deserves a mention for the following crass paragraph, quoted verbatim.

"It only happens to fiver per cent of cancer sufferers," Callie says. "Look on the bright side. We always knew I was special. Honestly? I think I'm too good for this earth." As always, she is using humour to deflect the pain.

Seriously. Show, not tell.

What else? Congratulations to Sophie - another lovely little boy to add to her family. We are planning our visit at the moment.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A new venture

So, I got my brand new sewing machine out of its box and opened up the instruction book. After a couple of false starts, I managed to wind a bobbin with green thread, thread the needle, sew three sides of a square piece of fabric and then make a dress for Harriet. The dress is somewhat of a prototype; while it is very beautiful in its own way, it is also not amazingly well finished, and the seams and hems are slightly wonky. I do like it though, and am fairly proud of myself.

I am going into John Lewis on Thursday and will grab some patterns and some more fabric, both for the girls and for myself. Hurrah for yet another new and absorbing hobby.

Friday, 18 March 2011


Well, clearly, nothing has happened since the 8th of February, apart from going to South Africa, reading a whole bunch of books, masses of knitting and sewing, lots of tantrums and tears from all of us, parties and family visits, a couple of horrible bouts of flu and that's it really.

We had a friend visiting with his daughter last weekend; Isabella is the same age as Lucy to within 4 days, and they had great fun tearing around, Harriet watching, desperate to be able to join in.

We went to a party with a lot of 4 year olds and 2 year olds, with a children's party entertainer; all the 4 year olds followed her exactly, almost all the 2 year olds didn't know what was going on but followed the older children, Lucy didn't know what was going on and did her own thing. Typical.

More news, with photos, when we have it.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Book 8 - Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Book 8
Originally uploaded by JuliaCroyden

Hmmm. This is a bit "Major Pettigrew Lives for a Year", and is full of stereotypes and very weak characters. It's also very much "I went to a creative writing class because I was bored and look at my influences". I liked it though, it was a light read.

Re-reading my reviews, I think you'd have to file my tastes under "Likes Most Things".

Friday, 4 February 2011

On top of things?

I've been worrying a lot recently that I'm not on top of things. Having two children is fun but very exhausting, and I'm sort of still recovering from my c-section. It was over two months ago now but every now and then something sort of *pulls* and I get a real pain across my tummy. I got it today; I took Lucy to Sainsburys in West Ealing and walked over the railway bridge and now my scar hurts a bit and I'm shattered. That could also have something to do with having visitors this afternoon - two toddlers and their mums - and a bit of a meltdown from Lucy over eating her supper. She gets so tired in the early evening, but, of course, big girls do not sleep in the afternoon, and when we try to force the issue we get tantrums like you wouldn't believe, so we just have to put up with it. It's becoming easier as she grows up, and doesn't really need the sleep as much. Hopefully she'll be able to cope with a whole day soon. I went in to check on her last night and she was absolutely crashed out and looked so furious at being asleep.

I suppose I am on top of everything - when I start to look into it a bit more closely it turns out that the things I'm not doing are writing in the blog, knitting jumpers, printing out photos, taking photos of Harriet using the camera and reviewing books. So not a lot to worry about really.

Book 7 - Ticky by Stella Gibbons

Book 7
Originally uploaded by JuliaCroyden

Oh I loved this book! Stella Gibbons is delightfully funny and has such a light touch when she writes. It's not as good as Cold Comfort Farm, but has many of the same elements - a world within the world that has its own rules and traditions. It is a charming story about a regiment in Hyde Park that is run by a meglomaniac general and looked after by a tribe of servants who live near to the main camp. They have a Charter which gives them ownership of a Pleasure ground, and the General decides that he needs to expand his rifle range into this area. The servants are furious and decide to fight back. Ticky, the title character, is an officer in the regiment, and a friend to the servants, and he encourages the rebellion.

It's a very easy read again - most of the books I'm reading at the moment can be characterised by their simplicity - and a very quick one. I do love Stella Gibbons, and am looking forward to her books being reprinted later this year.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Book 6

Book 6
Originally uploaded by JuliaCroyden

Another author who has fallen out of fashion, and again, I can see why. It's really quite sentimental stuff, a bit "Duty first Drusilla darling" po-face, but enjoyable enough in a "it's 4 in the morning, I need something that isn't too complicated" way.

The subject matter, a man who is in love in with his uncle's ex-wife, is very modern, and it's interesting - the woman sends her three children to live with their grandmother, and David lives there too, and is friends with the children as quasi contemporaries, not realising that if he marries their mother, he'll become their step-father. All fraught with passion and misunderstanding and sensitivity.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Book 5 - Cheerful Weather for the Wedding

Book 5
Originally uploaded by JuliaCroyden

Another super fast read. I think it took me an evening to finish. It's the story of a girl who is marrying a man she doesn't really love because the man she does really love is, frankly, useless and doesn't tell her he loves her until too.late. Oh noes.

Nothing really happens during the entire novel, but it is beautifully writeen.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Book 4 - A Partisan's Daughter

Book 4
Originally uploaded by JuliaCroyden

Another terrible photograph; what is it with me and photos? I think not using the itoy would be a start.

Anyway, this was another very fast read; not particularly enjoyable as it was difficult to sympathise with either of the characters, especially the man. It's the story of an unappreciated man who feels that his life is slipping away, who meets an Eastern European girl, who has left Tito's Yugoslavia. She tells him stories of her life and they fall in love. It has a sad ending, which is probably more realistic, although it is a shame, and you are never entirely sure whether she's been telling the truth.

After the storm

Originally uploaded by JuliaCroyden

We had a bad Monday last week. My dad came in the morning - he arrived at Heathrow on the 5am flight from Hong Kong, and always comes to us afterwards, which is lovely but wakes me up at 6 every time. I try to make bread for him and we leave coffee and honey out so he can look after himself until we come down. Lucy adores him, which is great, but it means that she is then unable to settle when he goes and wants him back, or wants to go to Ninny and Owl's house, and is generally in a bad, bad mood. So when I announced that we were going to Tippietoes, she went nuts, and ended up hitting me across the face.

After a lot of tears and cuddles, we became friends again, and she did some painting with me. I could bang on about how creative she is and how wonderful it is that she chooses her own colours (demands) and mixes them to create new ones (brown) and how artistic she is (paint everywhere); I will say though that she tidies up after herself, a skill her mother has yet to master. She only got a bit of paint on the floor, and that upset her, so she cleaned it up by herself.

I am far prouder of that than of the paintings.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Out of batteries

I am shattered. *Someone* woke up at 4:30 last night/this morning and shouted "Get up now mummy" until I went to her, and we had a big cuddle on her beanbag with the blanket I made covering both of us. So now I am exhausted. I could've sent Simon, but I was awake anyway having just fed the HatBat, so I went. What a brave little soldier. I've been running on empty all day, and keeping awake using hot chocolate and diet coke.

Sophie and her family came to visit at the weekend, which was lovely. Her little boy, while almost a whole year younger than Lulu, will be in the same school year as her, so Lucy spent a great deal of time bossing him around, while he raced around after her, both of them leaving a trail of destruction. Again, exhausting. Harriet was horribly, horribly sick after they left, probably just bouncing out a whole milk feed, but I was quite worried for a bit. Then in other illness news, Lucy's had conjunctivitis and a hacking cough, and is now on amoxycillin and eye drops. It's like bathing a cat. But less fun.

Apart from that, things are going well, lots of visitors, lots of chocolate cake and lots of cuddles.

Another bird baby gro

Another bird baby gro
Originally uploaded by JuliaCroyden

What a terrible picture. I made this for the soon to be born little girl of a friend of my brother. I hope he likes it; I'm sure the baby will be indifferent. Tim can pretend that he made it if he likes, although I'm not sure that'll wash.

Book 3 - French Leave by PG Wodehouse

Book 3
Originally uploaded by JuliaCroyden

Not a classic Wodehouse, but still very funny, and a light and easy read.

I honestly can't think of anything else to say about it.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Gerald and Elizabeth - Book 2

Book 2
Originally uploaded by JuliaCroyden

This is a "don't judge a book by its cover" moment. Simon calls this one of my "sex books" and it looks like the slushiest form of romantic fiction, but is actually a rather sweet little period piece by D.E. Stevenson. It was a complete contrast to the previous book and had a satisfactorily happy ending.

I enjoyed it, but I can tell why she went out of fashion, and why her stuff isn't being reprinted. Shame though.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Raisin bread and other things

Raisin bread
Originally uploaded by JuliaCroyden

So. I made another loaf of bread, this time one I hadn't made before. It's really very good, and I've managed to eat at least half of it, all by myself. Lucy doesn't really like it, and Simon has been away, so it has been mine, all mine. Yum.

This week, we've been quite busy. I took Lucy to Tippietoes on Monday - the first time since we came back from South Africa, back in May. She was, as usual, exceptionally negative about going (NO MUMMA NO), but had a marvellous time, and really didn't want to leave. Silly girl. Harriet slept peacefully through it, and also through the cafe where we had lunch. I won't be bothering doing that again - one bite from each chip and half a sausage. We'll have lunch back at home next time. I also took her on a magical bus ride around Ealing, which was great fun for her. I didn't enjoy it as much of course, as Lucy insists on being able to do everything by herself and I was so worried about her falling face forward and smashing herself up. She wouldn't consent to be on my lap, or in the buggy, so I had to sit next to her, which occasionally meant leaving Harriet so I could go to the back of the bus.

The rest of this week has been fairly uneventful; lots of lie ins, cooking and general pottering about. I'm making a bacon and flageolet bean soup using the ham stock and a beef and mushroom casserole, both of which required intense preparation, then a large amount of time sitting in the oven or on the hob.

Karen is coming to visit tomorrow, I am looking forward to seeing her and her daughter Emma. Hopefully, we will have a fun day without any shattering tantrums, but we can only wait and see.

Book Review

Book 1
Originally uploaded by JuliaCroyden

I've decided to review, or at least log, every book I'm reading this year.

I love John Irving, although he is very cruel to his poor characters. This book is so terribly sad, but he manages to be funny about grief and the grieving process, something that takes real skill. Making Daniel, the main character, a writer has allowed him to explore the way he writes, which was a little self indulgent, but when you are as good and as popular as JI, you should be allowed to write in the way that you choose.

It's not an easy read, but it's very enjoyable.

An Owl Baby Gro

Originally uploaded by JuliaCroyden

Part 1 of my current owl obsession, this is for a friend's daughter. He lives in Japan, his wife is Japanese, and this is my intepretation of a Japanese Lucky Owl. I think it's really sweet, and will be making one for Harriet and Lucy soon.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

An Exhibition of Challenging Behaviour

Our elder daughter is being somewhat of a ratbag at the moment. She has been suffering on and off for a few weeks with a cold, and on Friday, she was really not well at all, and all she wanted to do was go to bed, where she slept for close to 15 hours. She was also sick, poor little thing, and had a scarily high temperature. Since then, she has been a lot better, but isn't 100%. Even though she seems fine, she's extremely emotionally fragile and is providing us with all sorts of trouble. Today she refused any form of supper, flung yoghurt around and, when I'd finished speaking to her great grandmother, took the phone and threw it at the wall. Fortunately it didn't break, and the plastic casing hasn't cracked, and that was the final straw for today. She's gone to bed now, and seems to be feeling a bit better. I know she's not well though as she is going to bed without any form of a fight.

We went to a Farmers' Market in Palmer's Green today, as a bit of a change. It was quite small, but looks like it has some interesting things. It's been revitalised by the wife of a friend of Simon's, which is why we went. It's a bit of a long way to go every week, but every now and then, it'll be fun to go and see Hannah and Clwyd and their son. I covert their house and garden though, so I don't want to go too often, as I end up horribly, horribly jealous. The only thing I don't love about it is that it is in Palmer's Green, which is very much up and coming.

Harriet is growing very well, and is now over 10 pounds, and gorgeous. I'm very relieved that she slept for ages last night - about 6 hours. Hurrah. Unfortunately, I didn't as she is a very noisy sleeper, and I was also checking that she was still breathing. It's a start though, so I hope that it will become more regular, and eventually we will all start sleeping through the night.

I have some finished objects to show off, but I haven't photographed them yet, so imagine a grey Owls jumper and a teeny baby gro with a lucky Japanese owl on it. I think I'm owl-obsessed at the moment.

Monday, 3 January 2011


Oh gosh, I'm tired. I can barely see and things are waltzing in and out of focus. I think it's something to do with my contact lenses as well as having had a really bad night last night, where Harriet was awake from 4 onwards, as was Lucy, who chatted away to herself for a good hour or so. I threw in the towel at 8 and got up (Bank Holiday lie in cancelled) and let Simon sleep, and we went downstairs to play. Lucy fortunately went back to sleep but the little one was wide awake and alert, and enjoyed watching me cook a chickpea soup and stumble around feeling bleary and blah. She went back to sleep at around 10, when her father and sister surfaced, and I've been sleep-walking for the rest of the day.

We went to Kew for lunch and to see the bulb paintings exhibition in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, which was beautiful. We got told off by a staff member - apparently we were disturbing her nap - there was no one else in the gallery. We had fun at Kew, although Lucy wanted to walk/dawdle around, and Simon finds that very trying - he likes to "get there", whereas I'm happy just to drift around, so she spent a lot of time either on his shoulders or in the buggy, and grumpy about both of these. Harriet slept peacefully throughout the whole trip, and didn't wake up when I wanted to feed her, so I ended up feeding her in the car park of Osterley Tesco. Comfortable.

In other news, the Owls jumper is on the verge of being finished - just 8 more rows of owls to do, and then it's decreases and the neckband. I'm really pleased with it. Snapdragon mitten flip tops next and then some fishy ones that I've been keen to make for ages and ages, and have finally decided are not too hard. I've bought the yarn and everything, and am just waiting for it to arrive. Hopefully I will have a whole range of finished items to show off before the end of the month - Lucy's blanket needs one more square and then it can be sewn up. Finally!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

New Year

First bread of 2011
Originally uploaded by JuliaCroyden

It's good to be home. I've blown the dust off the bread maker - one of my New Year resolutions is to make more bread and use the expensive toy we were given two years ago. Since Lucy started eating bread, we've been buying rubbishy ready sliced because she prefers it. We've been eating it too, and I don't really like it, although some is quite good - the Hovis granary is very good toasted in a fried egg sandwich.

I've made some other resolutions - to read all my unread books by the end of the year, to use a whole lot of stash up (this was a resolution last year, and has been a resounding failure, but I'm hoping that now I have my craft room with all my boxes on display I'll be able to have better access to it) and to maintain my current weight loss, and add a further 10 pounds to it. Ideally I'd like to be under 10 stone by this time next year, but we'll see. It's not something I'm going to obsess over at the moment, when eating is far more important than dieting.

We had Jamie and Jim for New Year's Day. The less said about that that the better. I will write about it when I've calmed down a bit.

Lucy decided that she didn't need a nappy yesterday and wore her knickers instead. After two accidents, we decided that she could wear knickers and a nappy, so honour is satisfied all round. We knew it would happen soon, as she is adamant that she is not a baby and needs to be treated differently from Harriet, but we were hoping that it would be accompanied by a desire to sit on the potty as well. Oh well, it's a step in the right direction.