Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Made It 2013

If you are not interested in knitting, crochet or sewing, LOOK AWAY NOW.

I've made a lot of things this year.  Lots of bloody baby grows for a start, as well as two skirts for me, numerous things for the children, accessories, jumpers, massive blankets, everything.  Except I haven't made some of the things I wanted to make.  I didn't manage to knit from stash every time; in fact, the stash grew exponentially, and is still growing.  Stuff I did make from stash didn't take as much as I thought I would need - I made a lovely cowl last night; less than a ball of Rowan Big Wool used, now what do I do with the rest?  I didn't knit from the queue much.  I got a few things done, but mostly  I made stuff I wanted to wear or give away, sneakily adding them to the queue just before casting on.

Some photos:

Noah's welcome to the world blanket.

A skirt for me - measure twice, cut once, use a safety pin to hold in the extra three inches of fabric.

Handmade Hallowe'en.

A dress for Lucy.

Lucy's birthday blanket.  

A dress made from fabric chosen by Lucy.  It looked much better than I thought it would.

The smallest socks I can be bothered to make.

Cape Town socks, pts 1 and 2.

Cape Town socks, pt 3.  The purple shrunk like a bugger (non-machine sock yarn - WHY?), so they now belong to Lucy.

Simon's socks.

Emotionally distant, solves crimes by itself.

Conspicuous by their absence: a welcome to the world handmade gift for baby Robin (the blanket I was working on was just too annoying, so I am going to give it to Lucy for her 6th birthday, and make him something else); Christmas knitting (my family apart from my daughters and husband do not deserve handmade stuff); Hattie's Birthday Owl Blanket (suffered from being addictive to make, so was put away, half finished, in February and not resurrected until after her birthday); anything for Simon apart from socks (tall men do not get knitted for - thirty inches of grey knitting is boring).

There are more photos on my Ravelry page, which can be found here: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/sljuls?set=2013n&view=thumbnail

And for those of you who read this far (good Lord, why?), and aren't on Ravelry, there are photos on my flickr page here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/juliaclare/

Sunday, 29 December 2013


Last Sunday of the year.  Last pair of photos of the girls of the year.  Funny.

I'll be doing it again next year; I know how pleased this must make you.  I was going to write a long thing about how much the children have grown, and all they've learned, and all I've learned from being their mother, but really, who can be bothered to do all that naval gazing, much less write it all down.  My children have taught me lots of things, and I hope that next year will be as much fun and as much chaos as this year has been.  Indulge me; I've put the first pictures from this year here too, just for contrast.

January: Lucy in her onesie, watching Tangled.
December: Lucy the big girl angel, very well behaved and beautiful.

January: Hattie in a rare moment of contemplation.
December: The grumpiest angel in the whole church.  She was very good during the Christingle, but resented wearing the halo, and discarded it as soon as possible.

I don't really think there's anymore to add to this.

Portraits of my children once a week, every week, in 2013.  And on and on and on, until they beg me to stop.

Saturday, 28 December 2013


It's been a funny sort of Christmas.  The children are having a great time, as is my husband; I am full of snot, and suffering from a very unpleasant tummy bug of some description.  I thought it was an extreme reaction to pseudoephrine, but after all this time, it can't possibly be; I haven't eaten properly for 4 days, and certainly can't face alcohol, so it's a great start to the New Year diet.

We've been trying to do family things, as it's so rare for us both to be off; yesterday, we went to see Frozen, which was fantastic.  It would be nice, just once, please, for a change, to have heroines with realistic body shapes, but apart from that, the film was lovely, the children absolutely loved it, and I may have cried a couple of times during the film, particularly at the sisters falling out bit.  Hattie, who hasn't been to the cinema before, sat on my lap for the duration, and was very excited, scared, happy, devastated and happy again at various points in the film.  She cried and cried and cried at the sad bit, but as it's immediately followed by the happy ending, got a bit confused.  She absolutely loved it, as did Lucy, and it was very refreshing to see two girls sorted things out for themselves, with the love interest just there to do the grunt work.

We were supposed to go down to Brighton today to see Simon's aunt; the family have gone, I'm here on my own, utterly shattered and completely broken after getting up, taking a wash out, putting another wash on, then making tea and toast.  I think I might just be forced to sit in front of the TV and crochet some more owls.  

Friday, 27 December 2013

Read it 2013

It's unlikely that I'll read anything else this year. Maybe an Agatha Christie or two, or perhaps I'll start "The Goldfinch". Anyway, here is the list of all the books I've read this year, with illuminating short reviews.

The Wild Places, Robert MacFarlane – gorgeous in every way
Bones are Forever, Kathy Reichs - rubbish
Tea Classified, Jane Pettigrew & Bruce Richardson - not very well written and too long
Falling Angels, Tracey Chevalier - too long
The Cleaner of Chatres, Salley Vickers – a bit soppy
The Testament of Mary, Colm Toibin – thought-provoking
The Labours of Hercules, Agatha Christie – proper Christmas reading
Tigers in Red Weather, Lisa Klaussmann – not sure what it wants to be
Wildwood, Roger Deakin – devastating and illuminating
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Jeannette Winterson – devastating, poor woman
Where D'You Go, Bernadette?, Maria Semple – loses its way towards the end
Mountains of the Mind, Robert MacFarlane – gorgeous, I love him
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn – gripping, but not good
Sense and Sensibility, Joanna Trolloppe – bad in every way
The Secret Scripture, Sebastian Barry – very Irish
The Book of Summer, Emliya Hall – not very good
The Patchwork Marriage, Jane Green – predictable
Casting Off, Elizabeth Jane Howard – super
Confusion, Elizabeth Jane Howard – super
Marking Time, Elizabeth Jane Howard – super
The Bad Cook, Esther Walker – supper
Lifesaving for Beginners, Ciara Geraghty – poor
The Sorrows of an American, Siri Hustvedt – desperate
Sparkling Cyanide, Agatha Christie – strangely comforting
Frost at Morning, Richmal Crompton – can’t remember (damns with faint praise)
The Novel in the Viola, Natasha Solomons – poor
The Morville Hours, Katherine Swift – incredibly reassuring
No One Has Sex on a Tuesday, Tracy Bloom – how did this get published?The Light Years, Elizabeth Jane Howard – super (I love her)
The Private Patient, PD James – satisfyingly horrible
Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle, Dervla Murphy – brilliant
Starlight, Stella Gibbons – not as funny as CCF, but good
The Dud Avocado, Elaine Dundy – can’t believe I’ve not read it before
American Gods, Neil Gaiman – funny and horrible
The Newlyweds, Nell Freudenberger – good, but a bit depressing
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson – pretentious
Vacant Possession, Hilary Mantel – desolate
The Gardens of Good Hope, Marian Cran – very much of its time
Dodger, Terry Pratchett – easy to read and funny
Hedge Britannia, Hugh Barker – leafy
Ines of My Soul, Isabel Allende – conquistador-y
Middlemarch, George Eliot – well worth an occasional re-read
The Rose Labyrinth, Titania Hardie – very bad indeed
Otter Country, Miriam Darlington - glorious
Raising Girls, Steve Biddulph - disappointing
In One Person, John Irving – riveting
Dead Heading, Catherine Aird – funny and satisfyingly gory

48 books. Not bad at all.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013


Term is finished, and I have a stinker of a Christmas cold, just in time for tomorrow.  Massive doses of Lemsip, vitamin c and paracetamol are called for; along with hot toddies, hot chocolate, mince pies and hibernating.  We're back from a couple of days in the ancestral village, and now locking ourselves in the house until Boxing Day; the cranberry sauce is cooking, the turkey is brining itself, the chestnuts are being heated up in chicken stock, and the turkey giblets are being turned into stock for the gravy tomorrow.  All is domestic bliss.  For the moment.

From our "travels":

A cafe has opened up opposite my parents' house, and we took the girls there the other day after feeding the ducks.  A babyccino each and a large slice of cake stopped all moaning and tantrums. It's a real gift to the village, even though it does feel funny paying for coffee and being able to see into your front room.  

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.

Sunday, 15 December 2013


Not waving, drowning.  Ofsted, the end of term, the Nursery Christmas Concert, Christmas, the Nursery children, my own children, pantomimes, Rainbows, swimming lessons, parties.  It's all getting on top of me a bit.

Still, I had a fun morning with Hattie on Friday.

She was very annoyed with me when she discovered the milk froth on her nose thirty minutes later.  Bad mother.

We decorated our tree.  

We went to a pantomime at the local theatre; it was good, but the best bit was watching the Rainbows and Brownies getting very stuck in to booing, cheering and shouting "Behind You!" a lot.  Lovely.  Lucy was a bit emotional - tired, grumpy, hot and generally under the weather afterwards, so soft hearted mother bought the teddy from Tiger.  An extraordinary shop.  Lucy loves it, has christened it "Hope" and carries it around everywhere; something she's not really done before.

Roll on Friday.  Please.

Portraits of my children once a week, every week, in 2013.

Sunday, 8 December 2013


I can't believe that it's nearly the end of the year.

We've just been away for 24 hours in Dusseldorf, just the two of us, which is the first time we've been so far away from the children together.  It was lovely, even though I was missing my little ratbags by this morning.  My parents were looking after them, and while they said that the girls had been very good, they were in no hurry to stay.  So we played a bit, we tidied a bit and we watched a bit of Tree Fu Tom.

Big world magic GO!

A portrait of my children once a week, every week, in 2013.

Sunday, 1 December 2013


Another day, another trip to Whipsnade.  It's Hat's birthday on Tuesday, so this was her treat.  She's going to three; I can't quite believe it.

A portrait of my children once a week, every week, in 2013.