Pumpkin Carving Fun Times

We carved our pumpkins this morning!

IMG_3002

I’m not sure how long pumpkins last after carved but I distinctly remember blue mould one year so we decided to hold off until the day before halloween.

IMG_3010

This is the face Sandy wanted on his pumpkin.

IMG_3017

And here he is stirring the pumpkin guts.

Seeing as it’s #throwbackthursday and all….

10584084_899661300058822_6159351019268496538_n

Year old Sandy carving away, a year to the day.

IMG_3023

“Smile please Sandy”

*pumpkin face*

IMG_3029

You wouldn’t know from her face but Roslyn had slept only three minutes since 5am (it was then 9am) and was pretty ratty.

IMG_3039

Nothing shoving your mitt into a pumpkin carcass couldn’t right though.

IMG_3041

She also ate some of the innards (not the seeds, don’t call social services) and quite enjoyed them. So I am going to make some baby friendly (aka helen unfriendly as they have no sugar) muffins with the flesh later. Recipe to follow.

IMG_3051

So here they are, two happy kids and their happy pumpkins.

IMG_3054

Roslyn be like, “et voila!”

IMG_3056

As I said to Jamie yesterday, they are still young enough to enjoy the cutesy halloween rather than the gruesome, so we’ll be rocking that til it’s old.

IMG_3058

Doesn’t mean she can’t try to put a spell on you though… ooooooooh!

IMG_3070

Sandy loved that the pumpkin had eyes.

IMG_3078

IMG_3084

IMG_3090

IMG_3093

And it wouldn’t be a halloween post without cute pictures of babies in outfits. Oh wait I forgot to take a picture of her in it. Tomorrow, promise.

IMG_3099

Meanwhile, Sandy was so over the whole pumpkin thing and had helped himself to some “circle pop”.

IMG_3100

Have a fab halloween tomorrow and check back in a couple of days for some pictures and also recipes for what to do with the leftover pumpkin flesh and seeds!

IMG_3101

BOO!

50th Birthday Black Glitter Invititations

My aunt Lib is turning 50 soon and commissioned me to make the invites for her party for her. We looked at Pinterest for ideas of what she was wanting and I made a prototype involving black paper and a gold string of glitter lights. I think it turned out quite well and was a really effective design so here’s a quick how to.

IMG_2995

Take a piece of card and cut it into a gentle curve. Use this to draw on three lines with gold pen at the top of the card for the strings of lights. I made one line across on its own then two crossing lines below.

For the glitter balls take the eraser end of a pencil and dip it carefully in pva glue and dot on the gold lines. Sprinkle with ultra fine glitter and shake off the excess.

Finally for the writing I did a big 50 based on the times new roman font.

IMG_2997

They were a big hit with lib who loved that they were handmade and each one slightly different.

IMG_2998

On friendship, and loyalty

Recently there something a character on the wire (of all places) said which is sticking in my mind. That in life the best you get is your family, and one or two friends who are like family, that’s it.

There’s a lot of pressure to have friends. It starts early, and I am guilty of promoting it. I love seeing sandy interacting with his peers. His buddies Laila, Rohan and Cate are great pals for him to learn from and with. And this sort of friendship is pure, it’s innocent and honest and lovely. They both like playing, so they do. That’s all.

Harking back to another TV show I remember Jerry Seinfeld doing a bit about how when you are a child you are friends on the flimsiest of bases:

“Of course when you’re a kid, you can be friends with anybody. Remember when you were a little kid what were the qualifications? If someone’s in front of my house NOW, That’s my friend, they’re my friend. That’s it. Are you a grown up.? No. Great! Come on in. Jump up and down on my bed. And if you have anything in common at all, You like Cherry Soda? I like Cherry Soda! We’ll be best friends!”

And that’s what’s so pure about children’s friendships.

But somewhere along the line friendship goes from enjoying the world with people you know to something territorial, and discerning, and a facet of your own self worth. I remember in the later years of primary school having a new girl join the class. My best friend and I became friends with her. I began to lose my best friend to her. Three is so far from a magic number. There was a falling out, I don’t even remember why. I clearly remember her saying “Helen, you are a bitch, and you know it!” All I can think now is that I didn’t know it. I was 8. I barely even knew the word bitch. Simpler times I guess, and – rightly – I was somewhat sheltered. The new girl teamed up with the resident bully and, in order to get back in the fold and any facetime with my best friend, I found myself running laps round the playing fields by way of punishment. My mum recently told me she spent the summer around that time in hell worrying about how I’d been hurt. I remember at the time being shocked at how angry my mum was about it, but I didn’t know any better, I’d never experienced the mean side of friendship before.

From then on friendship has been anything but simple, and usually fraught with distress. I went to high school and met a girl in the first week. My peers from my primary school decided we should all introduce our new friends to each other, but they didn’t like my new friend. She was uncool, apparently. I was then in the perpetual schism of high school friendships, the choice between people you like and people who are liked. I could choose to have friends and be picked on or have acquaintances and try and slip past unnoticed. I tried both and ended up moving through groups of friends often, never making any real friends. I was disposable to everyone I met, and as the years passed I was disposed of many times. It hurt, and I found it so odd that one small disagreement could render you an enemy in someone else’s eyes, forever. And what’s more, that person would go out of their way to continue to make your life hell.

I’ve never understood the idea that someone could be a real friend to someone else. That you could utterly depend on that person, that they would put the same amount of effort in as I did to the relationship. I constantly found myself picking up the slack, giving far more than I received and being dropped when it suited them.

A few years ago I gave up on the idea of friendship as I had hoped I would have it. I realised that people come and go, and there is nothing I could do to stop them. I decided to no longer invest too much in relationships with anyone other than my family, lest I be let down. To this day I still do this. I let myself be friends with people but I don’t expect much. Perhaps I expected too much before? Sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s just me, or if loyalty just doesn’t exist anymore.

I would do anything for someone I loved. And to this day there is only one person in my life I have been friends with who I wouldn’t help out, irrespective of the past or how close we are now. I’m fiercely loyal, because if not, then what kind of person does that make me? The kind of person who would willingly throw away years – even lifetimes – of shared history over something trivial, or momentary, or temporary? Nobody is perfect, yet it seems we are expected to be when it comes to friends. You mess up once, or aren’t as caring as you possibly could be, and someone will drop you without a second thought, wrapped up in their own hurt and unable – unwilling – to consider your reasons. So I try to be forgiving, I try to give the benefit of the doubt, and I try to not take things personally. I want to be a good friend, and I know I can be a great one. But there are so many people out there still stuck in high school that the idea of trusting anyone is a horrible minefield. A risk really not worth taking. It’s a sad state of affairs but that’s the way it is. I have got friends, some very good friends, and people I can confide in, but I think I’ve been too damaged by past experience to ever fully trust another person. But try me. Please do. Pleasantly surprise me. I’d love to see loyalty exist. I don’t want to sit and fear what will happen to my children as they grow up, at the hands of their peers.

And after all is said and done I feel so grateful for my family. The ones I could trust no matter what. That thick blood. It is what keeps me going. Those people who want me, well, I’d do anything for them. I hope they know they are never unwanted.

Stuart and Dad’s Birthday Party

Ok so by necessity this one is going to be a veeeeery picture heavy post. But with two good reasons, 1/ I have NO TIME because I’m spending every moment of joint napdom (Roslyn’s in my arms, before you get all excited and think I’ve cracked this mothering lark or something) reading, reading reading for my phd, and 2/ ok I actually do have some spare minutes but I have a little inspiration to other scattered blog ideas so I’m going to pop this little photo album out there into the blogosphere and then go do just that.

IMG_2795

IMG_2799

IMG_2803

IMG_2807

Roslyn loves parties. It’s the hustle and bustle. She soaks it all up.

IMG_2810

IMG_2811

Three guesses who blew out the candle on dad and Stuart’s cake before they got a chance?

IMG_2812

Yup. Hasty relight by Tate.

IMG_2816

IMG_2820

And then he got in about it.

IMG_2830

IMG_2837

Sandy learned to say rainbow.

IMG_2839

IMG_2840

It’s never too young to be musical.

IMG_2843

IMG_2850

IMG_2853

Stuart got a sought after home projector planetarium from everyone.

IMG_2861

IMG_2866

And sandy was used as a present passing servant.

IMG_2867

IMG_2868

IMG_2873

IMG_2880

IMG_2881

IMG_2887

IMG_2892

IMG_2895

IMG_2902

Sandy is the king of dancing right now. He hears music and demands of you “dance, dance” then does his famous moves. If you are lucky I will capture these in stills and make a handy dance routine blog post. SO LUCKY.

IMG_2911

IMG_2912

IMG_2914

IMG_2915

IMG_2920

IMG_2926

IMG_2936

IMG_2937

IMG_2945

IMG_2955

IMG_2959

IMG_2967

IMG_2968

IMG_2974

Anyhow, we had a nice little afternoon of presents, cake and sausages and mash for dinner. Next up, me and fran’s birthday!

Smarties Rainbow Pinata Cake

MORE CAKE!

IMG_2827

I was inspired by a birthday cake my friend Vicki had for her son’s birthday which held a bunch of mini smarties inside and decided to try it out for my dad and Stuart’s joint party this weekend. I’ve since learned that it is called a piñata cake, so here’s how I made this one.

IMG_2803

I baked up a sponge cake mix and split it in two, making one vanilla, one chocolate. I then baked them and cut each in half so I would have four layers, but of course you could go as simple as you like and just make one simple vanilla sponge of two layers.

(Here’s the simplest sponge: 250g butter & 250g sugar whisked & 4 eggs whisked & 1tsp vanilla; fold in 250g flour and bake at 180)

Then I assembled the first three layers of sponge with vanilla buttercream in each layer. Before adding the last layer of sponge take a circular cutter and cut right through the centre of the cake to leave a hole. Fill the hole with mini smarties.

tumblr_ndmsv0DAyE1qcjh8ho1_400

Then add the final layer of cake. Ice the outside (I used chocolate buttercream) and decorate.

To decorate I got normal sized smarties and did this wavy pattern which really looked fab. It took 4 sharing bags of smarties to have enough of all the colours to do this.

tumblr_ndmtbfP1p31qcjh8ho1_400

And… Ta da! When you cut open the cake the piñata of mini smarties bursts! It’s a great showstopper!

tumblr_ndna0wZRsg1qcjh8ho1_400

IMG_2826

IMG_2829

And of course loved by the little ones, sandy couldn’t keep his mitts off it!

And Roslyn loved helping me bake it!

IMG_2777

IMG_2780

Little Reminders

I’m at my most hormonal in the evenings it seems. When my babies fall asleep and I can let go of the stresses of the day and remember just how happy I am. I think back to the dark days of before and smile because, while there are constant challenges, I’m living in domestic bliss. I lie with Roslyn and stroke her tiny little hand as she feeds into a milk coma.

“Look at her chubby little fingers!” I say to Stuart.

“Look at her smooshy little sucky face”

“She’s so beautiful I can’t even believe it”

“She smells so good”

“And that boy…” Stuart pipes in, “…that boy”

“He’s perfect”

“He’s so funny”

“I love him so much”

It’s always when the calm of bedtime descends, and the oxytocin of a milk let down is released, that I get soporific and over emotional about my babies. But there are other times too, times when little reminders of their presence in our lives stand out from the chaos and the mess. Small scenes which shimmer with life and happiness, amazing amounts of adoration from the ordinary.

IMG_2754

The fact that our cutlery drawer has a whole section dedicated to baby spoons.

IMG_2756

Little versions of our shoes, thrown haphazardly onto the rack alongside ours.

IMG_2757

Tractors and planes and bath books, cluttering the floor of the shower.

IMG_2758

Hand prints on glass.

IMG_2761

Their sounds.

IMG_2762

IMG_2763

Impromptu art, happily emblazoned atop lists.

IMG_2765

Toys left in situ, waiting.

IMG_2766

Little socks.

IMG_2769

Such are the little reminders that live all around my home, telling me that it’s okay to be upset right now, because the love is right there waiting. Babies may not settle and toddlers may thrash on the floor and mothers may lose their cool and shout or scream or rush out the room lest they suffocate from responsibility. But after all is done of a day the little reminders of the good stuff remain.

IMG_2768

It’s easy to get bogged down in the bad. And similarly it’s easy to idealise the good. But it is in the consistency of everyday life, the satisfactory, the normal, the routine, where comfort lies.

IMG_2747

In the calm after the storm I look for little reminders that things are fine, and I know we are all going to be okay.

IMG_2752

Garden: August, September AND October 2014

Yep so my monthly garden updates have somehow become quarterly. Oh well, it’s for the best as things are winding down, both seasonally and because I am back to university too.

IMG_2718

We enjoyed our Indian summer and now things have cooled a bit more. Roslyn’s been using her snowsuit for time in the swing.

IMG_2723

I’ve cleared a lot out of the veg garden and it looks pretty shabby now. We do still have some things on the grow though, this MASSIVE courgette I happened upon for example.

IMG_2724

There are leeks, beetroot and carrots too.

IMG_2727

But yeah, it’s generally gone a bit scabby looking so I can’t wait to work the ground a bit in preparation for next year.

IMG_2729

We still have colour though in the borders.

IMG_2734

And the strawberries are shooting off all over the place providing new plants for next year when I finally get the strawberry barrel made.

IMG_2736

The good news is we’ve finally come to some sort of conclusion about the side of the garden here. The land is somewhat level and cleared so the plan is to turn the 7 foot length from the hut towards the lawn to gravel. We will buy a bulk bag of it at some point and do this. Then the remaining patch right next to the lawn will become my veg garden extension where I hope to put my potatoes. The gravelled bit will eventually host a greenhouse, finances willing. And there will be a gravelled path on the right to the hut for the lawnmower.

IMG_2738

As for the rest of the garden we’ve not done much. It’s nice to not have to mow the lawn every week now.

IMG_2744

I’ve put away the loungers and barbecue and will sort the rest of the summer things for winter shortly. It’s going to be a busy six months for me study wise so I need to get the garden into low maintenance mode ASAP!

IMG_1785

Aside from that I’ve been harvesting and preserving the produce including carrots.

IMG_1786

Rhubarb

IMG_1787

(Rhubarb and ginger compote, freezer ready for crumble making in a hurry)

IMG_1792

And courgettes. The big one outside awaits so I’m trying to think of something worthy of it to make… Any ideas?

Yep, so the to do list for the rest of the year is:

Plant bulbs (I got a massive pack of daffodils from Aldi, and hope to put some in the new bed I made at the front, sorry for the lack of a photo!)

Finish tidying up the edge of the lawn at the side of the garden and add a sleeper to make it a raised bed behind.

Make a new bed here too and plant bulbs and perennials.

Weed EVERYWHERE

SHARK!

Happy birthday to my dear husband. Ok his birthday was like a week ago but it’s taken a little while between tantruming toddlers and screaming babies to get this post up so, hip hip hooray, he’s 33 today! (Technically, yes, yes he is).

IMG_2441

We celebrated by going to deep sea world for some fishy adventures.

IMG_2444

Crappest mum of the year award alert: I may or may not have bonked Roslyn’s head on the helmet slightly. I suck. But I just can’t resist a touristy looking photo opportunity. I know, it’s one of my failings. Pobody’s nerfect.

IMG_2451

IMG_2463

She wasn’t too sad about it though and all the lights and fish made up for it.

IMG_2476

I’ve not been to deep sea world in years. I think it was in primary school actually. Basically the star attraction is the conveyor belt trip round an underground pool with fish and sharks, it’s pretty neat.

IMG_2485

Me: SHAAARK!!!

IMG_2486

Sandy: CARK! CARK!!

IMG_2493

I’m pretty sure sandy preferred the moving pathway to the mahoosive fish tank full of snappy fish all around him.

IMG_2498

IMG_2500

Side note: I LOVE these babies!

IMG_2506

Ooh a big ‘un!

IMG_2520

IMG_2528

Mr Ray.

IMG_2530

IMG_2533

All in all it was pretty fun down there, but it’s a very pricey excursion at £27 for two adults.

IMG_2556

IMG_2561

They do have more fish and reptiles upstairs to enjoy too.

IMG_2572

IMG_2579

IMG_2585

IMG_2589

IMG_2604

Any birthday treat wouldn’t be complete without ice cream.

IMG_2622

Oh and there are also seals. And for the toddler in your entourage, ramps to run up and down.

IMG_2623

Happy birthday husbando, love from your three best buds.

Transport Museum & the Return of Grumpy Sandy

IMG_2269

We’ve been waiting a while to go to the transport museum. I wanted to go when Stuart was there because I thought sandy would have his little lovely mind blown with all the vehicles inside. Also I didn’t want to waste a nice day by being indoors, so we’ve been waiting for a while a wet one.

IMG_2272

IMG_2282

IMG_2287

As it turns out, while sandy was quite happy to see the neenawneenaw car and the choo choo up high, he wasn’t in the best of moods.

IMG_2298

Still, we made a go of it, as you do when there’s nothing else for it.

IMG_2313

IMG_2315

IMG_2324

“Hasseys”

IMG_2344

This pose was all the rage in the 18th C.

IMG_2347

Rozzie had a blast as you can see.

IMG_2356

IMG_2360

Whereas the highlight for sandy was getting his “wuv oo heart” sweets, dropping them on the floor, then eating them off the floor.

IMG_2365

All he wanted to do was climb on the exhibits, so we compromised with climbing on this window frame type area where he did some yoga to impress random onlookers.

IMG_2385

Of course, that was nothing compared to the all out toddler stereotype of a sprawled on the floor, kicking and screaming tantrum; performed because we wouldn’t let him reclimb the stairs.

There came that moment when onlookers go from staring at your mentalist meat bag thrashing about on the floor to watching for your reaction to said ongoings. We chose general bemusement, so as to widely disappoint our audience and Stuart popped his little angry bod over his shoulder and we went on to pastures new.

IMG_2401

IMG_2407

IMG_2409

The trip ended with more placatory snacks while I grabbed some postcards in the shop and then another fit of rage from the sandman because, even though I bought him a die cast tractor too, he wasn’t allowed to play with it in the middle of the very busy walkway. Super duper.

Ah well, you can’t win them all. Something’s up with the boy, he’s been so out of sorts. I suppose I can only be grateful that for the last three months he’s been an utter dream. My money’s on his last four teeth coming in. Molars. So you know how that goes.

First Food

IMG_2414

The time has come. Weaning time. Well, actually the time came several weeks ago when Roslyn stole a fig from my hands and started gnawing it. I was waiting til 6 months and all that but, well, who could say no that face?

IMG_2416

In all seriousness I did want to wait til 6 months. With sandy I weaned early. I was desperate due to his lack of sleep and willing to try anything. For your information, it made not a blind bit of difference. So this time I decided I would wait. But she’s 5 months now and has always had such a tricky tummy. So much wind, seeming on and off intolerances to something and lots of tensing up. So we decided to try her on a few tastes to see if it helps any.

IMG_2417

As you can see, she LOVED it.

Further efforts have gone down better and she’s been enjoying it and I think a bit less windy so here we go, food fun awaits my little lady!