Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Friday 1 April

To my big boy

You're nine today. Your last year in single figures, yet so close to double figures. And that's just as you are right now - so grown-up in one way, yet so small still in other ways.

You have changed so much since I wrote your birthday letter last year. You still like big words and you still talk a lot. You like being in charge but you are also the most generous person I could wish for. You've not changed there at all. But you only have another three months left at primary school before you'll follow your big sister to Middle School in September. Last year, I thought it impossible that you could ever seem ready to make that move. In the course of this school year though, you have changed, grown, matured, and you're ready now for a new challenge. Ready to leave the safety of that small, familiar school behind, which you have known for such a long time. Ready to take another step towards the big, wide world and ready to become that little bit more independent yet again.

Every so often I am reminded that parenthood is all about raising your child to become an independent person. But when I feel your hand in mine in the morning when we cross the road to the bus stop, I am secretly glad that you still need me to hold that hand sometimes.

Happy birthday klein mannetje

Mamma xxx

Wednesday 30 March

I have felt a bit out of sorts for a few days. Without going into too much detail, I have been trying to sort out hormonal troubles for a while now, without much luck. Last week I got started on a possible new solution, but this comes with side-effects which, I've been told, can take about 3 months to settle down. Well, let me tell you, it's not what my already haywire hormones needed. I shouted at the radio to shut up, I was rather rude to a cold-caller on the phone and I bawled my eyes out over my keyboard at the loneliness of working from home. I didn't feel like doing anything that I normally enjoy, and on top of it all, I was tired beyond belief. In short, everything was wrong with the world.

Things seemed a bit brighter today though. Not the weather - after more than a week of glorious sunshine, blossom, tiny, almost transparent green leaves appearing and being able to sit outside at lunchtime - we had grey, overcast skies today with very miserable drizzle in the afternoon. The sort of drizzle that totally fog up your glasses when you're out and about. But my mood was improved - not sure if it was the early night, but I just feel a bit better and more myself again. Thank goodness.

Lots of progress on the building of which this one is the best:

All the floor joists are in, and apparently the floor boards for the first floor are in too, but I haven't seen them yet. Putting the floor joists in was a team effort, L, who is doing an internship at work, came to stay with us at the weekend and quickly got roped in, plus me, B., his son and his dad, all with a job to do. It was fun - it felt like something out of the film Witness.

My highlight of last week was teaching S. from work to knit. She'd said a few times that she wanted to learn and last week we had time for a quick coffee at Starbucks, so I brought my knitting needles and yarn, and within half an hour she'd knitted a row.

The following day she'd done another row without any errors, and I even caught her doing a few sneaky stitches behind the computer. She told me on Monday that it's now almost a square - looking forward to seeing it tomorrow. I realised I'd never taught anyone to knit before, apart from I. who keeps showing a passing interest.

On the knitting front, I have almost finished my Cairn hat, just a few more rows. N. said the pattern looks like a spiderweb. I'd like to make the matching mittens too, I think they'll probably go faster than the hat.
I'm still working on I's peace sign granny cushion. Six and a half squares done, two and a half to go. And the back. She's going to get a couple of squares wrapped up for her birthday with an IOU, and I'll have to be strict with myself to finish it off, as I'm not enjoying it that much - it doesn't help that the pattern is so complicated that you can't work on it when there are distractions.

O and I made marmalade last weekend... Six or seven jars, I had a sore thumb from cutting up I don't know how many kumquats (too sour to eat, so in they went) and oranges.

It took ages to get it to set and when I left B's place on Sunday, it was still too warm to be able to tell if it was set properly, but B. had it for breakfast on Monday and said it was very good. Will have to get a photo of the jars later this week.

Lots happening this week, tomorrow I'm going for a school lunch at N's school as they're doing a Mother's Day lunch (roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, hungry already!), it's N's 9th birthday on Friday, tomorrow B's coming over to bring over the table-tennis table that I managed to buy on eBay for their birthdays, on Tuesday I. will be 12 (where did that time go!) and on Wednesday I've got a day off work to go on a school trip with N. to a Hands on Heritage site - we'll be doing activities such as weaving, spinning, dyeing, pottery and breadmaking. I think putting me in charge of a group of Year 3s and 4s might not be such a good idea - I'll be far too busy with all the activities to keep an eye on my charges ;-)

I'll leave you with a photo of N. rolling around in the wool that arrived in the post the other day. That's my boy!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday 21 March

Spring, it's officially Spring today! (or was it yesterday?) Not that Spring is my favourite season or that I'd ever be able to choose a favourite season. I even like winter. Before Christmas, when you have all the dark days in November, there is nothing better than to light the fire and have the candles burning on the mantelpiece. As soon as the festivities are out of the way, the days noticeably start to get longer and snowdrops begin to appear. It makes up for the seemingly endless days of dreary, grey weather.

Talking of Spring, we had a lovely sunny weekend. After N's swimming lesson, where to my surprise and delight I spotted two other women knitting, we drove to Bury St. Edmunds for our fortnightly treat of lunch at M&S. We even eat the same thing every time: I. has egg and watercress sandwiches, N. has a bacon roll, I have ham and mustard dressing sandwiches, all followed by a fruit scone. Afterwards we wandered over the market, getting some fruit and veg, and then it was back to the park for our first icecream of the year in our usual spot:

We didn't stay long though, as the sunny weather was calling me to the garden. On our way back to the car I had to stop to take a photo of the cathedral spire looking pretty through the still bare tree branches:

Back home N. and I spent a couple of hours pottering about in the garden. I'd given him a job which made him feel quite important and which he was doing quite well, until he decided to add water to the mix... What is it with boys and mud?
It was even sunny enough to have our first cup of tea at the picnic table - or so we thought! There was a bit of shivering going on and by the time I got to B.'s house, it was well and truly chilly again. Spring's here but Winter hasn't quite left us yet.

Quite a lot of progress on the building project. B. surprised us all and was outside measuring at 6 on Saturday morning (he's notorious for getting up in the mornings) and by the time I got to his place on Saturday evening, the two end walls were up. By the time I went back home again on Sunday afternoon, this is what it looked like:

And he did a bit more after I left, even getting a few floor-joists in. I'm hoping to get to see it for myself tomorrow evening. What I like about a building project is how doing something seemingly small, can totally change its character. It looks so different now from when there was just the brick walls, and once the gables go up (hopefully in the next couple of weeks), it'll look very different again.
It was great being outdoors all day, originally neither of us thought I could do much - I'm happy to do general labouring stuff, but the real building work I leave to the expert. But when I got back from my bike ride, he asked me to hold a post while he attached them, and it ended up being teamwork. Good fun.

The cat very much enjoys a new structure to explore too:

He climbed up the ladder you can see in the previous photo, walked all the way across to the other end of the building, walked along this ridge, turned around and came down again, without falling, on one of the cross-battens (not the right word but I sometimes forget the right jargon...)
We've also already found him once underneath the concrete floor - he's one of the most curious cats I've ever known.

Something that made me happy this week:
I've already used the photo of I. and N. eating icecream in the park, so I can't use that, but this came pretty close:

Knitting my Cairn hat outside in the sunshine

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday 16 March

Much as I have enjoyed doing the Simple Woman's Daybook, I've felt for a few weeks it's time for a change. I may return to it at some point, but for now I'm not enjoying it as much as I should do. After all, blog writing should be fun, right?
For an online group I've been a member of for several years, we kept a diary for a week. We all said we had such ordinary lives and we do, but when you keep a diary, you notice that actually, something interesting happens almost every day.
I really enjoyed writing that journal, and thought I'd try to post here more often with just little snippets of everyday life. We'll see how it goes!

The weekend was all about food...

Cheese fondue with cheese that B. brought back from his ski trip in France in February

Served with a crunchy rocket salad, inspired by reading Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries, my new favourite cookbook. He writes well, he makes me laugh, he has very simple recipes, I love the photos. I got it from the library but I suspect I won't be able to resist temptation and soon head over to Amazon to get my own copy!

And rhubarb pie for afters. My rhubarb plant has survived years of neglect, in fact, it seems to thrive on neglect and would get huge if a certain almost 9 year old didn't like rhubarb quite so much and didn't regularly come into the kitchen with armfuls of rhubarb stems! The pie here had the first rhubarb of the season and is made with a layer of almond paste on top of sweet pastry.

I've been preoccupied with cooking with leftovers and fruit that's about to hit the compost bin. I noticed that I throw away far too much - often a case of eating something else than what I had planned, or only needing a small amount of something and ending up with the rest in the fridge, not knowing what to do with it. Last Sunday I made hummus with an opened can of chickpeas, which I've had for lunch a couple of times this week, we have homemade yoghurt in the fridge, and I've been baking rolls with a mediterranean flavour (tomatoes and olives):

It took a lot of willpower not to touch them when they first came out of the oven - the whole house smelt of freshly baked bread and nothing more mouth-watering than that...

I had an unexpected few hours with almost 12 year old I. on Saturday. They were with J. all weekend but I happened to be home on Saturday and I thought she'd enjoy coming to town with me rather than go to the pool to watch N. during his swimming lesson. It was only a few hours but it was lovely to have some time together and as a treat we had a coffee at Thornton's cafe.

The weekend was for getting back to the building project too. The brickwork was finished last Friday and the brickie had left quite a lot of mess behind. So we had a good tidy-up around and B. has now got started on the woodwork. It's been a few months since we stacked all the bricks out and there was virtually no progress over the winter, so it feels good to get going again.

Have been busy knitting and crocheting too.

This is the hideous, sorry, colourful colour combination that I. requested for her birthday. It actually hurts my eyes working on it. I thought 4 squares would be enough but it doesn't quite cover the cushion pad, so now I have to make 9. I made a calculation error and thought I had to do 6. You can see why I didn't take Maths beyond age 16, can't you? As it's a surprise, I can only work on it when she's not around, which makes for slow progress.
I also finally started on Cairn and am really enjoying that - my favourite project out of all of them right now and the one with the least priority... isn't that always the case?
I'm having a battle of wills with a dishcloth for my monthly swap. I was halfway through the first one with a lovely lace pattern, but it just didn't grab me. Started on a brickwork pattern, loved it, but the edges are very messy. Started again and the edges are still untidy. Argh! I'm giving it one more go with a different border, hoping it will look right...

Something that made me happy this week:
On Mondays we do our weekly shop, then have a coffee at Costa before we drive to the pool for a swim. We normally have 45 minutes or so till the pool opens, and this week I'd treated the kids to a magazine. They both sat there happily reading, while I was happily knitting. We didn't really talk, we were just busy relaxing. Lovely.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Monday 7 March

First of all, thank you for all the comments on my last post. We had a lovely time, very relaxing, just as I'd hoped it would be. And we've already booked the same cottage for next year again :-)
Because we had no internet connection, I'm really behind on blog reading - I will catch up at some point!
I'd like to reply to you all individually, but sometimes the comments won't let me reply, and I haven't quite worked out why that is yet. I do appreciate all comments though, and love reading them!

Onto the daybook. As I haven't done one for a few weeks, I wondered if maybe the format was getting a bit stale. But if I've not seen another idea which I like as much, and it does keep me posting. I think I'll look back at it one day and will see it as a nice memento of what my life was like.

So, without further ado!

Outside my window... the sun is shining. And it's supposed to stay like this all day, in contrast to Saturday which started the same way but by lunchtime it was grey, drizzly and ever so cold. A reminder that although Spring's almost here, Winter's not quite left yet.

I am thinking... that it's probably almost time to start sewing some seeds again. I've started saving old yoghurt pots and I'm specially looking forward to having nasturtiums again - they are so easy to grow and look so cheerful. What I liked about them was all the different colours orange they had. I might have a look around and see if I can find some other colours or varieties, along with the traditional colours again.

I am thankful for... having lots of things which we take for granted, but are luxuries in other countries. I watched the first part of Famous, Rich and in the Slums last Thursday. For those of you not in the UK: every two years we have a big fundraising event in the UK called Red Nose Day. It started 25 years ago and lots of people all over the country do silly things to raise money for charity, mostly for under-developed countries in Africa but also for causes back in the UK. In the run-up to Red Nose Day, on 18 March this year, there are usually several documentaries showing us what has been done with the money that was raised. In Famous, Rich and in the Slums four celebrities go to Africa and live in the slums to experience for themselves what poverty really means. It was a real eye-opener. Yes, you do know a lot of what goes on, but I think it is good that it gets shown from time to time. It makes you feel humble that in this part of the world, it's normal for most people to have an education, to have clean water, to have a warm house, to have food at the end of the day.

From the kitchen... parsnip and lemon soup in the slow cooker, banana teabread with some very old leftover bananas, homemade yoghurt. Not sure about the soup - I don't like root vegetables that much, apart from leeks (do they count as a root vegetable?), but I keep on trying anyway.

I am wearing... my newest bestest most favouritest cardigan. Every year in Lyme Regis my dad buys me a present, usually earrings. This year he'd bought a pair of earrings before we went, and once we were there, we spotted a shop with Weird Fish clothing. I knew of Weird Fish, dad had never heard of them - it's not something I'd splash out on for myself, mostly because of budgettary restraints! He saw a nice sweater for himself and the shop window also had a cornflower blue cardigan - one of my favourite colours. It fitted perfectly, his Dutch credit card worked, and since then, I've worn this cardigan almost every single day. I've already told him I want another one next year ;-)

I am creating... so many things. I eat sleep drink knitting and crochet at the moment. Most days I wish I could craft all day, and my mind is overflowing with ideas. I am knitting my usual monthly dishcloth. I was knitting a pair of 'plain vanilla' socks but had to unravel as they were a bit on the wide side, so need to cast on again with fewer stitches. I am knitting Ysolda's Cairn hat and mittens. I am working on the Shale Baby Blanket by Brooklyn Tweed (I love his patterns - he is so talented!). I am making a very brightly coloured cushion for I's upcoming birthday, in bright pink and bright orange (nothing like a 12 year old's taste!), consisting of peace sign granny squares. A few people have asked me to knit something for them. If I could have super powers, I'd make the day last twice as long.

I am going... to have a hot chocolate drink and a hot water bottle and be off to bed when I've finished writing this post and finished working.

I am reading... Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskill. I've not been able to settle on a book lately, where you get totally captivated and can't stop reading it. Maybe it's lack of time, usually I read for fifteen minutes or so in bed but often I'm very tired and just want to go to sleep. I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on holidays and although that was good, I thought the love story was a bit predictable.

I am hoping... for a cheese fondue this weekend.

I am hearing... bird song every time I step out of the back door. The birds definitely think it's Spring time and seem to be enjoying the sunny day too!

Around the house... lots of little bunches of flowers hand picked by N. (daffodils, little bluebell type flowers), a bunch of white tulips which were discounted at Tesco last week and are still going strong, and several pots with bulbs which I planted up this weekend - no idea what they are, I think daffodils!

One of my favourite things... is setting the alarm on my radio alarm clock, then setting the radio to Sleep, turning the light off and snuggling under the duvet with my feet on my hot water bottle, knowing that I won't have to get out of bed for another seven hours. Bliss.

A few plans for the rest of the week... just an ordinary week with usual activities: work, library, afterschool clubs. I do have to pick up a table tennis table that I managed to buy on Ebay for the children's upcoming birthday - not sure how I'm going to store that until their birthday without them noticing...

A picture for thought I'm sharing...

One which I meant to include in my last post - possibly my favourite one, although it is hard to choose a favourite!

Instructions for the Simple Woman's Daybook can be found here.

Friday, March 4, 2011

An impression of Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis 2011



(guess what he's getting for his upcoming 9th birthday...)


Colour on the inevitable grey February days



Spending time with my favourite people

Meeting old friends


and views, always the stunning views

Back again next year....