Thursday, 28 February 2013

baking cakes!

It was a lovely morning this morning, and after a hideous night with the little girl we decided to spend the morning baking!

I wanted to bake some breakfast muffins (with oodles of fruit and veg in), and the little girl wanted to bake some chocolate cakes with sprinkles and 'proper chocolate sauce' (this means a mixture of real chocolate and double cream).

We started with the chocolate cakes, and the little girl has finally got the hang of this baking thing! She was great at tipping the ingredients in, shoogling the flour through the sieve, and mixing everything up.

I helped her out with licking the spoons etc, after we'd got the mixture into cake cases.

Then we baked them, left them to cool (while we made Mummy's muffins), and then decorated them with proper chocolate sauce, and sweets. Ta da!

They taste good too (giving up chocolate for Lent doesn't include little-girl made buns).

Want to make them yourself? Here's the recipe:

Ivy's Chocolatey buns

1 pear
½ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg
½ cup plain flour
½ cup self raising flour
1 desert spoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon chocolate chips
200g chocolate (we used ½ dark, ½ milk)
2 tablespoons (ish) double cream

Whizz up oil, sugar and egg in a good size bowl.
Add dry ingredients, and pear (peeled, cored, and cut into small chunks), and mix well.
Put into cupcake cases and bake at about 180C for about 15 minutes.
To make the chocolatey topping melt the chocolate and stir in the cream quickly, then use (as soon as you can), blobbing roughly on top of the cooled buns. Then embellish with whatever you can stick on top. The more the better.
Will make about 15 cupcakes.


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

having a blether

Seaside town - nothing to do with the blog, I just like this pic.

Hello all, the little girl and I were at toddlers this morning, and we managed to get there in time for the introductory sing song, for the first time! She requested Sleeping Bunnies, and was rather befuddled when it was a different version than she's used to, but otherwise we knew all the songs, and it's great to start off in good voice! The favourite of the lass who ran the group was The Wheels on the Bus: The wheels go round and round, the wipers go swish swish swish, the horn goes beep beep beep, and the mummies go chatter chatter chatter.

It annoys me that the mummies go chatter chatter chatter, why can't the daddies do that?  Of course, when I lead the singing, the daddies do, but I can see how for toddlers mummies always do go chatter chatter chatter...  

It's fabulous that we are in a position wherein I can work as a full time Mum. We believe it's the best thing for our family, but it does mean that my husband has to work long hours, and I get to have the lion's share of my daily conversation with very young people, so when I get to talk to other grown ups, especially other grown ups in my situation, I grasp the opportunity!

This morning I was talking to other Mums about their families and their hobbies, loft insulation and heating bills, dance classes and gymnastics, and recovering from sprained ankles. In between biscuit negotiations, pirate burglars, and trampoline assistance. It was marvellous. But it did make me think...

I hate having a boss. It really doesn't work for me. I cannot abide being told what to do, so it seems to make sense for me to earn money for myself. The trouble is I have no experience of doing that! I enjoy writing, so we're going to see if I can make a go of that (any idea how?). I'm doing this blog to get practice for the factual stuff, and I'm also working on fiction (set around a place called Chaptershill).

So, what's that got to do with talking? Well, I'm coming to understand that I process ideas, gain inspiration, and maintain sanity through talking things over with people (mainly my long suffering husband, and, for family related stuff, my Mum and my brother - thank you all for maintaining my sanity). The little girl is going to be going to nursery soon, and I'll have more time for writing, but I'll also need to find new places to talk to people. I'm sure I can, but what's the best way to work for yourself, and also have plenty of chances to talk to people? Any ideas?

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

thinking about a cat

Hello all

My cousin (hello Katie) moved house on the same day we did, and is at a similar stage of unpacking, but, she's got chickens! Our little girl LOVES chickens, and we used to go to a lovely garden centre in rainy town at least once a week to say hello to the chickens (and Hamish the guinea pig, and Bob the dog). The little girl even got to feed them sometimes. We don't currently have chickens in our life, but we're thinking we might like a cat.

Kenny and I have both had cats before, but not for a while. We weren't allowed one in our rented house in rainy town, and the Cats Protection in sunny Suffolk didn't have any cats they wanted to inflict our family on. So now is the time!

No dogs, thank you
So, I've been in touch with the local Cat's Protection people, and we're going to be inspected on Thursday! They were even talking about a new cat who might be right for us! We'll see. I'm excited. It would be great to have a new member of the family, and one that doesn't talk back would be an added bonus!

My only real worry is that we don't have a cat flap. I don't fancy putting one in the front door, and the back door is glass. We could of course just open the door for the cat, but have you got any suggestions? Also, any idea how to stop a cat scratching our furniture (and the boy while we're at it)?

Maybe if we get a cat the girls will stop pretending to be yappy dogs all the time? That would definitely be worth it!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

inspired by fat mum slim, and moaning about poo!

Hello all, it's another beautiful, but cold day... but we've seen snowdrops, and daffs, and we're hoping Spring is on the way!

Have you heard about Fat Mum Slim's Photo a Day challenge

This is the sort of thing I love about the internet. Fat Mum Slim is our heroine, Chantelle. She's a real person who lives in Australia with her husband, her daughter, and her dog. With a background in advertising, and working ridiculously long hours she now makes a living writing a blog (and doing other writing and promotional stuff too). Her blog is personable, helpful, funny and uplifting. I mention that she's a real person, because she lets you see that. Which is damned brave if you ask me.

Anyway, Chantelle does a photo a day challenge, which I've been following for the last few months. It's been a good way to get me to stop taking so many photos of my children! I think my children are fantastic, but they are sick of me taking photos of them, and let's face it, a photo or two is OK, but lots is boring. The Fat Mum Slim Challenge involves taking a picture according to the theme of the day (lists are available on her website), and then posting it to Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, and (if you wish) sharing it. There are no prizes, but it's really interesting to see what everyone does with a theme, and it gets you taking pictures your children want to be involved in!  I started sharing my favourite pictures from the month in September 2013 here.  Here's one of my favourites:

On Monday 18th the theme of the day was 'Something you don't like', and I was stuck. There are so many things I don't like! I thought of maybe going for 'the necessity of war', but that seemed rather too pretentious. I thought of going for something like 'whining', but that is actually an important part of the personality of some people I like (and if it went they'd be like Midwich Cuckoos, or Stepford children), so maybe I do like it (and how to photograph it anyway?), and then it came to me – something about the state of pavements: – dropped litter would be up there, but the award would have to go to dog poo.   Really.  Why would you let your dog take a poo on the street and just leave it there?! Obviously it's somewhere that these people walk, so why? Do they leave the poo all over their houses too?  Oh, they probably do don't they?

Litter and dog poo bring out the mini-fascist in me. I recall finding out that in Jersey (or maybe Guernsey?) there's someone who's role is to walk the pavements, checking the overhang of trees. If the tree is found to overhang the pavement too low, the owner is required to cut it back. If they don't, the council do it, and charge them. Brilliant. But not enough for litter and dog poo! For that we should have spot-fines of at least £100 (I doubt it's worth doing for less), with an option to do community service instead (obviously this would involve picking up litter and poo). Now, I'm pretty sure that you could find out which dog a poo belonged to, if you were to put a forensics team on it, so we could bring back dog licenses, take DNA samples, and TRACK THEM DOWN!

Hmm, maybe I shouldn't run the world after all... What drives you mad?.. and what's your solution for it?

I'm sorry, I didn't take a picture of dog poo. I couldn't bring myself to do that one – I didn't like it!  But I'm at my in-laws home today so I should be able to take some pictures of clouds over Arran, when the sun's just right.  Do you do the photo-a-day challenge?  Has it inspired you too?

Saturday, 23 February 2013

talking about my sister

A couple of days ago on the blog I was talking about my Dad, and thinking about him made me realise I'd not talked about my sister either.  Today I'm going to put that right!  She doesn't want me to, but that's probably because she's worried about what I'll say.  She needn't worry - I may not be able to stop myself from teasing her when we're together (bad big sister), but I do think she's awesome.

My sister and the boy in their matching
Christmas jumpers (thanks Mum)
My sister has a different Dad than me (my Mum remarried), and she's 13 years younger. Me and my brother must be pretty boring siblings for her as we're both married with young children, while she is building her career, and not married yet (although she's with a bloke who seems to have finally realised how fabulous she is, and is scoring plenty of Brownie points (where did that expression come from?)), and enjoying going out with her friends, wearing sexy clothes, and turning up at her parents' house for Sunday recovery breakfasts.

When I was her age I was doing pretty much the same thing, so it's a shame we're so far apart in age, as I think we've got a lot in common.

As you can imagine, she's busy, and she still lives in Gods Own County (ie Yorkshire), so we don't see as much of her as we'd like to, but when we do it's great fun. She mucks in  with the kids, and has loads of energy, and she's willing to engage in things that involve crawling about on the floor.

And messing about with the big girl
I hope she and her boyfriend come up and visit us in seaside town before too long. We'll take them out for ice cream, and maybe even go to an island on the ferry... plus she can shop in Big City on the way home. She thinks I judge her, and I do feel a bit motherly toward her – I love her to bits and want her to be happy. But I can remember what I was doing 13 years ago, and therefore judge not, lest I be judged (well, I try not to anyway)!

What's the age gap between you and your siblings? Do you all get to have more in common as you get older?

Friday, 22 February 2013

down the gym!

Hello all, hope you've got good weekends lined up? What are you doing?  This week the big girl started Rainbows, which she really enjoyed, and the boy and the little girl started their respective gym classes.

Seaside town boasts one of Scotland's national Sports Centres, which has stupendous facilities, and lots and lots of classes to go to. The boy started his gym class on Wednesday. He said he wasn't very good at it, but he was totally thrilled about trying, and reckons he's going to get better. I didn't get to see the facilities very well that time, but he told me it was fantastic. He especially loved the air track (an inflated track, with more resistance than a bouncy castle), and the ditch filled with sponges. We were looking at the notice board and saw that boys from the club had came first, second, and third in both the regional, and the national gymnastics competitions, so it just goes to show what some great facilities can do!

This morning it was the little girl's turn for her class. She was very excited as her brother had been telling her all the fun stuff she could play on. When we got there she didn't know what she wanted to do first, and was running about all over the place, but she managed to get a little bit of focus and try out all the things the teacher wanted her to do. Her favourite thing was bouncing on the trampoline, closely followed by a near-vertical slide onto a crash mat after some awesome climbing. I was amazed at how well she managed the balance beam, and I LOVED the air track. For the first time in my life I could see why someone might want to run.

The kids can't wait to go back next week, and neither can I! I'm even thinking that when the little girl starts nursery I might start going to the gym! Er... you might need to remind me of that in a few months.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

...talking about my Dad

Hello all, hope you've got some sunshine today?

When I moved over to 'Oh we do love to be...' from 'Looks like we're moving' I asked if there was anything anyone would like me to blog about. Well I did get some requests. Mostly asking for updates about the house and the kids, which I'm doing along the way, but there was also another one. Someone said that I'd mentioned friends, my brother, and my Mum, as well as Kenny's family, but what about my Dad? They're right, I've not mentioned him much, if at all, but then I've not mentioned my sister much either.

My Dad and I in the '70s
So, why not mention my Dad? Well, my parents divorced when I was a kid, and did 'shared parenting'. This is quite the thing with the British Government now, but then it was quite unusual.  How it worked out was that I'd be alternate school days at each house, and then alternate weekends.  I found it harder than my brother, but I think that's because I had more stuff.

I now speak to my Dad, by 'phone and email, probably more than anyone else in my extended family, but we don't see him as much as the other grandparents. There's nothing malicious or calculated about that, it's just that he doesn't enjoy small children as much as the other grandparents, and it's harder to visit his house with small children than the other grandparents (because the children can't touch much, although that is true for my Mum's house too!).

My Dad, and lots of other family at the
little girl's 2nd birthday party last summer
I'm not sure where I got this idea (probably Dad himself), but I've always thought that Dad was more interested in parenting teenagers than little kids. I'm hoping that when my children grow up a bit he'll find them more interesting (and vice versa), but I do wonder if the man who won't use a webcam, or join Facebook, will have an inkling of what my kids are talking about when they're in their teens. I also wonder if my children will be interested in getting to know this man who doesn't seem very comfortable with them now.

Hopefully at least one of them will appreciate his music, and you never know, one of them might want to learn the ukulele!

I hope they do come closer together as the children get older, because the kids will find him to be a thoughtful, funny, interesting man... as well as being a little bit *ahem* eccentric (which is always good in an Englishman).

Have you got one of the grandparents who's not so involved? I'm thinking divorce makes this more likely, but is that nonsense?

Let me know if there's something else you'd like me to blog about - I'm always open to suggestions.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

...knee deep in stuff!

Having had oodles of rain since moving, the last two days were totally glorious, but today it was back to greyness as usual.  At least it isn't currently raining.  Let's hope the sun comes back soon.  Meanwhile, we have been working like doozers unpacking our stuff, and trying to turn our new house into our home. We've got a lot of lampshades put up, and are starting to decide where to put pictures, but there's still lots of stuff everywhere. Where did all this stuff come from?

We did a major cleanout before we moved house. As you'll recall, I was donating stuff to Barnardos, and feeling really positive about it (the blog post is here).

My Mother-in-Law says that you get rid of stuff before you move, and then get rid of more after – and she's right! I've donated lots of stuff to one of seaside town's charity shops, but still, we have mountains of stuff!

It doesn't help that we've moved to a smaller house, losing space and storage, but I'm even falling out of love with the storage stuff we had before. What is that about?

For example, we bought some emergency bookcases on moving to sunny Suffolk, planning to upgrade them them one day. They've survived 'til now because they were fine, but now they're not!  Suddenly I can't wait to get some built in shelving, so we can pass them to my Dad (of whom more next time).

We also have the red thing (pictured above) – a big Expedit unit from IKEA. In our last house I LOVED the red thing, but now I think it looks messy and cluttered (and smaller). I'm thinking of buying doors for it.

The printer and the clothes horse in the picture have now been moved, so it is better, but really, at the moment, the only rooms I like are the ones where it's easy to hide all the stuff (although they look rubbish in photo's)! I want to get rid of those little tables; they're occasional tables, so mostly they're clutter and occasionally they get used.

What's going on? Am I just suffering from some sort of nesting stress? Or have I caught a dose of minimalism? What do you think of those Expedit inserts? Could I ditch the occasional tables? What could we use instead for the computers, and occasional TV dinners? Any ideas?  Help!  We're drowning in stuff!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

...on half term (part 2)

With the boy suffering from slap cheek, we spent Tuesday morning of half term playing games, making castles, fighting knights and monsters, and making things out of Hama beads, in our Pjs.  And then Granny came to take the children to her house for a change of scene – I still haven't got the hang of the easy, regular time without children, but I'm working on it! I went shopping, and while out Granny called and asked us to join them for tea! Yay! It was lovely to have our tea all together, and Uncle Neil and Auntie Ash were there too!  We all had a good laugh at the way I say bear (just like a regular English person).

Gone bowling
On Wednesday we went out bowling. It's nice to have a bowling alley in the town where we live, but it's a shame it had so many problems. It was £21 for a game for the four of us, but the girls couldn't really play as there wasn't a ramp for the balls (something they could have mentioned). Also, the ball machine would sometimes stop working, which would mean the lady in charge bowled a ball down (taking someone's go), and poked the machine a bit with a metal stick, and it generally started working again.   Also, sometimes the machine at the bottom knocked down skittles at the wrong time, and assigned random points. It was kind of OK, because all these glitches ended up with us getting more points than we would have otherwise (so the boy was happy), but I did feel hard done by (grump)... Me and the boy had fun but the girls were really fed up - they really couldn't play without a ramp, so I took them all out to the famous icecream cafe (there are other cafe's (lots of 'em), but the children reckon there's no point going somewhere else if you know there's one that's awesome) for a yummy lunch (with icecream for pudding – we voted the toffee fudge the best). In the afternoon we did nothing at all, and it was glorious.

Gutted that it was back to school on Thursday, but there you go. It wasn't long until the weekend, our first visitors, and our first trip to the local pool.  

Did you have a good half term?  What did you get up to?

Monday, 18 February 2013

...on half term (part 1)

We had three days off school last week for half term. Kenny didn't have any time off so we were mainly hanging out in seaside town, but we had lots of fun (and just having extra days when you don't have to get ready for school is fun for me!).

Seaside town from the sea!
We had a nice day on Monday, on a day trip with Granny and Grandbob. We travelled on a ferry, and a bus and went to island town! The children loved travelling, and it was a beautiful day. Seaside town looked like somewhere in Switzerland from the island, with the hills topped with snow and the sun shining on the water. We had our lunch in island town and then played on the beach before coming back and going for a treat at the famous icecream shop! Yay! Little girl was tuckered out and fell asleep on the table, while the boy was beginning to get suspiciously rosy cheeks (see below - I think he looks really cute!)...

The next morning it was clear that the boy had got slap cheek (it looked much brighter than in this photo, with a lacy rash, and blotchy patches everywhere)! He didn't feel too bad, but the rash looked awful, and he had a bit of a temperature... apparently it's highly contagious, so the rest of us will have it soon (it's not bad for us, but you shouldn't go near pregnant, or maybe-pregnant women if you have slap cheek). 

Slap cheek is down in the book my English health visitor gave me as one of the common childhood illnesses, but I had never heard of it when I was little, and never come across it until there was a big outbreak of it in rainy town soon before we moved. When did slap cheek become common? Have you come across it?

More about what we got up to in half term next time.  Take care.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

...big kids in seaside town

Hi, hope you've had a glorious day today, we have - sailing boats on the sea and a beautiful sunset.  Anyway, I promised you an update on how the big kids were getting on.

As you'll recall, the big girl had had a really tough time settling in at her new school, and we were having lots of tears and bad dreams. Well, she's still a bit of a wet lettuce (but that's in her nature, bless her), but things are an awful lot better. I had a few chats with her teacher (who is really positive, helpful, and open to ideas; a real breath of fresh air), and she's been given a 'buddy' in her class (although everyone in her class has been really excited about the new girl). Plus I'm going to be going in to help with Maths once a week from next week.

She also got entered into the annual Burns competition (English types – this is an annual cross-Scotland event, in which all children in primary schools learn a Scottish poem (in Scots dialect!), and then recite them to their class, with the best going through to recite their poems to a panel of judges), to learn a three-verse poem in a week! Shevdid incredibly well, and got through to the second round. Here's a video of her practising. She got better at remembering it all and got a certificate of merit. We were really proud of her, and so were her teachers, who awarded her the weekly 'Star Pupil' award, for settling in well.

The boy was proud of his sister, of course, but rather fed up about her getting rewarded for settling in well, when he's settled in better with less fuss! Poor love, being the oldest sucks.

The big girl is going to be starting Rainbows next week, and is starting to feel better about things. I think she'll make new friends soon.

As for the boy, he's doing really well in his class, and really enjoying the topic work they've been doing (Roman's first, and now Minibeasts). He's made no fuss at all about going to a new school (he's an old hat at it having done it before in rainy town), but he is tired out! He had a friend 'round for the first time on Friday, and he's looking forward to starting 'boy's gymnastics' classes at the local sports centre next week.

All the kids are enjoying spending more time with their Granny and Grandbob, but missing their mates from rainy town (and sunny Suffolk!). We've got some of their mates coming to visit next month, so that should be fun, in the meantime we can enjoy discovering all the fun things to do in seaside town.

Did you move house when you were a kid? Do you remember what helped you settle in?

Saturday, 16 February 2013

...hanging out in church halls (part 2)

Hello all

The little girl hanging out with her best pal in rainy town at the toddler group in the church hall.
Last time on the blog I was talking about the joy of hanging out in church halls with toddlers. Do you like that too?  Coincidentally, the lovely Sheila, who ran one of the toddler groups in rainy town was blogging about it  at Life with 4 bairns!  

As you'll recall, we have just moved to seaside town, and we've got five new toddler groups which we could go to, so the little girl and I are trying things out and seeing what suits us... here's the verdict so far:

Monday: There's a lovely toddler group on Mondays, at the Episcopal Church (that's the Anglican one for the English readers). Singing, drawing, healthy snacks, slightly odd woman with a recorder. Lots of fun and very welcoming, but, for us the toys, and clientelle are a bit young. My little girl is always going to be my littlest, but she's two and a half, and likes a bit more to do. We won't be going to this one regularly.

Tuesday: I've not been to the Tuesday toddler group! I'm not going either. It's probably lovely, but it clashes with Rhyme Time at the library. I love Rhyme Time/Baby Bounce/Tot Rock/whatever your library calls it. Books and singing. Can that actually be beaten? Fantastic. It's in the Google calendar.

Wednesday: Upstairs at the church next to the famous ice cream shop (and they're steep stone stairs) there is an absolute gem of a toddler group. Organiser, Jo, was really friendly and helpful, as were the other Mums. There is singing, craft (which was fantastic – Jo is amazing), stuff to play with, books, good snacks, and a good atmosphere. This will be a regular fixture.

Thursday: This was a toddler group in a massive church hall. There were lots of snacks, and the children weren't allowed a cup without a lid. No songs, but lots of things to do. A couple of people spoke to me. The little girl had a good time when she wasn't getting hit. It was a little (ahem) boisterous. I think that if it was for the boy I would go to this, but I won't be going again with the little girl.

Friday: All the Mums I have spoken to have told me that Friday's group is like Thursdays, so I'm not going. Instead I've booked the little girl into a gym class on Fridays. I think she'll love it – she's definitely a climber.

Our week is coming together. I think it's going to be fun. It's definitely different strokes for different folks. What do you like in a toddler group? Next time I'll give you an update on how the big kids are getting on at school since a few people have been asking. See you then.

Friday, 15 February 2013

...hanging out in church halls

Hello all

I have been hanging out in church halls, on and off, all my life.

When I was a little tyke my Mum used to take me to toddler groups, when I was a teenager I went to the rock disco at the Methodist hall (I know – living on the edge!), and since my first child was moving I've been going to toddler groups again... I didn't use them much to start off with, but, when we moved to sunny Suffolk they were a lifeline (special thanks to Val) – something different to do, an opportunity to meet new people, and a chance to have some fun together. Fabulous.

In sunny Suffolk, Monday afternoons and Wednesday mornings were toddler times (plus amazing Baby Bounce on a Tuesday at the library), and when we moved to rainy town me and the girls would go to toddlers every Monday and Friday morning (sometimes Kenny went on Fridays), where we made lots of friends, had a supportive chat (special thanks to Margo), and had lots of fun.

So, the first thing I did in seaside town was look for a toddler group we could go to... I found five! Plus other things to do! My crikey, but we're in the big smoke now!

I figured the best thing to do would be to try them all out, and see how we got on. There's also a Rhyme Time group at the library, and various classes the little girl can do. We've only got a few months before she starts nursery, so we had best get ourselves out there.

Next time I'll let you know how we got on.

Monday, 11 February 2013 a new home!

Hello all

I have been blogging about our experience of moving from rainy town to seaside town since the beginning of 2013 at Looks like we're moving, but now we've moved, and are busy making our brand spanking new house in seaside town into a home.

We are really excited about living in seaside town, because my husband (Kenny) has a new job, which he's already enjoying, we're living near relatives for the first time since we got married, which is great for us, and for the kids, there are lots of things to do here, and the schools get great reviews.  So there are lots of things to love, and to talk about, and this blog will be about living here, about home-making, and about all sorts of other things, no doubt, and I hope you'll keep letting me know what you think.

I would love to hear if there's anything you would like me to write about?  My friend Steve is much more writerly than me, and has a super blog called Shores of Night.  He's been doing a blog roulette.  The idea is that readers suggest things to write about and he picks one somehow.  Seems like a great idea to me, so, any ideas?  Let me know.