Thursday, January 31, 2013

swings and no roundabouts

 We managed to find a small gap in the rain (rain, rain, rain) to visit the park this week.  It was just us, a squirrel and a pigeon, maybe because of the looming dark clouds.  Dulcie looks so grown up ever since she got a proper puffy jacket.
Whenever she goes on the swings, Dulcie adopts this hip-hop style slouch with her right arm under the bar.  She likes just watching what's going on and getting the occasional push to keep her moving.  Too cool for school.  Nuff said, end of.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

call off the midlife crisis!

Thanks to my sister's canny research, I can stop worrying about being the same age as Lovejoy.  Ian McShane was born in 1942 and the first ever episode of Lovejoy was broadcast in 1986, making him at least 43 at the time.  Phew!  This means I've still got over a decade before I'm the same age Lovejoy really was at his very youngest.  I think I can handle that.  Sort of.  

Graham turned 43 this week.  Hmm, I feel a new nickname brewing.  Tee hee!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

me and my girl

Here's a quick snap of Dulcie and I for posterity's sake, taken just after I got drenched in the rain.  I'm finding it hard to find the energy to be a very good mum at the moment (that's not to say I'm not a good mum, just maybe not quite the mum I would hope to be able to be) but I still just love having Dulcie around.  She is getting so funny and so stubborn, too.  (Wonder where she gets that from...)  As well as making various animal noises, she can say "Dad", "Mum", "cat", "dog" (sort of) and "twoo", which means owl.  She's still loving to dance and will sing, "Yeah, yeah, yeah," along to pretty much everything.  She knows the actions to lots of the songs we sing and will join in unprompted.  She's still not quite walking solo, but she can fairly get around, shuffling over to the nearest bit of furniture and pulling herself up to standing, usually followed by an excited squeal or a great big giggle.  She's getting to be pretty affectionate (sometimes) which I love.  I'm doing everything I can to turn her into a cuddly type.  She's still not any closer to sleeping in her own bed, but I guess that goes hand in hand with being a cuddly type!  All in all, Dulcie's just a great girl.  But, man oh man, is she hard work :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

the age of lovejoy

I passed a rather pleasant and relaxing weekend at work.  I was told to practise working on repeats, which means getting to watch some classic programmes like Lovejoy.  Mmm!  Nice, slow telly.  However, whille subtitling Lovejoy this weekend, something shocking happened.  The police wanted to question Lovejoy about a crime as he matched the assailant's description in every way... including being in his thirties!  Lovejoy?!  In his thirties?!  This cannot be!  I am in my thirties!  Am I really the same age as Lovejoy?  I think this will be the root of my first proper mid-life crisis.  Mind you, it probably doesn't help that my abiding image of Lovejoy is this clip from Reeves and Mortimer, which does emphasise his deep-set wrinkles rather...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


adjust your set by dropstitch
adjust your set, a photo by dropstitch on Flickr.

In one of my recent clear-outs, I decided to part with a couple of these experimental test card girl embroideries.  I made these on my sewing machine about 2.5 years ago as a precursor to the more colourful and hand-stitched version now available in my shop here.  I never wanted to try to sell these early attempts, but I didn't want to throw them out either.  I also didn't want to try to give them away on my blog for fear nobody would want them and I'd be left red-faced!  So a couple of weeks ago I added them to one of my many bags of random items to take to the charity shop.  (I have been sending a lot of stuff to the charity shop over the last year, but that probably deserves a whole post of its own.  God, where do I come up with such thrilling blog topics?!  Sheesh!)  Anyway, since taking them to the charity shop I have been twinging with regret and a little bit of panic.  I know they'll have a tiny price tag on them (if they even make it as far as the shelf) and I feel like I'll be blushing and anxious every time I go into the shop, which is often, wondering if I'll see them and if they'll sit there unwanted for months on end.  I've been thinking about this so much that recently I made the decision that I would buy them back if I ever did see them on the charity shop's shelves.

That was until I read this post over on My Paper Crane.  Heidi had donated an unwanted hand-drawn plate to her local charity shop (or thrift store as she would call it!) in Pennsylvania.  After seeing it sitting on the shelf with a 25c price tag one time too many, she decided to buy the plate back and bin it... only to discover next time she went in that the plate was gone.  Unsure whether it had been purchased or thrown away, Heidi forgot all about it until she received an excited email from a lucky My Paper Crane fan who had found and purchased the plate (a Heidi Kenney original!) at a flea market in Ohio.  How it got to an Ohio flea market is anyone's guess, but how wonderful that it did!  

Now I've decided to let fate deal with my embroideries.  I think they have my labels on the back of them so maybe one day I'll hear from someone who found them somewhere.  Or maybe I'll randomly become famous and the embroideries will be marked up from 10p to £10,000 and make a fortune for the British Heart Foundation.  That would be good.  Or maybe they've already made their way into a skip...

Monday, January 21, 2013

fruity bowly

 Dulcie can't get enough of beans with toast and cream cheese.  Or bananas.
I can't get enough of oranges suddenly, which can be no bad thing.  I cut them up into exactly eight pieces, give one slice to Dulcie and sook the living daylights out of the other seven, quick stylee... leaving an unphotogenic scene like the one above!

I recently moved our fruit bowl from the worktop to the kitchen table and I think it is making us eat more fruit.  I've also started washing apples etc BEFORE they go in the bowl so they are ready to grab and eat without leaving the comfort of my chair.  All good little changes, I think.

We found our groovy vintage fruit bowl in a Swiss/French charity shop in October.  It turned out my sister had bought the very same bowl in another charity shop just a few weeks before.  It's a Guzzini, don't you know?  There's a much better picture of the same bowl here.  I wish I didn't have to rely on other people's photos to make my life look good...

Friday, January 18, 2013

classy doll

Just dropping by to say, did you see Dot's amazing outfit on last night's EastEnders?  Wow!  I don't think I'd seen her in this blouse before and I am coveting it badly.  Should anyone ever spot one in a charity shop (size 14-ish) please snap it up for me!

Did I just blog four times in 24 hours?  Oh yes, I did!  It is making my (blogging) life so much easier not to round corners on photos.  Had you even noticed?  Probably not.

the bank of baby

 "Hi, my name is Dulcie and I'm wearing a handmade hand-me-down."

"Do I look unhappy about it?"

 There's been a lot of chat on baby blogs lately about living cheaply (or for "free") with a baby/toddler.  It's made me think about how much I spend on Dulcie and has left me drawing the conclusion that... well, either I'm naturally very frugal (read stingy!) or I'm one step ahead of the zeitgeist, man!  None of this chat seems very revolutionary to me, either way.  Almost all of Dulcie's clothes and toys were gifts or hand-me-downs and a lot of what we do buy (which is not much) we buy second hand.  She eats what we eat (admittedly with the occasional convenient baby-specific snack when we're out and about, but making these would save a minimal amount of money and take a maximal amount of time) and definitely does not go through almost £1000-worth of nappies a year, which is apparently (apparently!) the national average.  (If it wasn't weird and inappropriate, I'd show you a picture of her blemish-free bottom right about now.)  We don't attend expensive classes.  Why would we when we can sing in the library or swing in the park for free?  The £2 we very occasionally pay for toddler group (shudder) includes tea and biscuits too, so seems fairly reasonable to me.

Check out this over the shoulder catalogue model pose!

This red cardigan is one that I knitted for my eldest niece eight years ago.  It almost broke me.  I'd class myself as an inexperienced knitter now, but back then I was seriously green, which was why I didn't realise that picking a cabled pattern was maybe not the best idea.  I couldn't tell you how many hours I spent working on this.  Some nights I'd sit and knit for five hours, only to end up with less rows than I had started with when, unravelling to correct a mistake in the previous row, the twisty cable would make the unravelling go out of control.  Oh yes, I worked hard on this cardigan, but I think it was worth it.

Why not get your child hooked on daytime telly?  It's free!  (I joke, but Dulcie does love dancing to the sound of the Pointless column dwindling.  She's also a big fan of the Countdown clock jingle, which is odd because I rarely watch it.)

Anyway, back to this cardigan.  Dulcie is the fifth baby in our family to wear it and still gets compliments on it.  She's only just squeezing into it now (we can't really put the hood up any more) but did you know that most clothes will fit babies for much longer than the three months stated on the label/pattern?  Yes, you probably realised that.

And here's one last picture of Dulcie modelling the 5G cardigan, sitting amidst a fairly typical brand of daily Dulcie mess.  Two of her favourite toys are an empty Roses tin (clever upcycling?!) and the free JoJo Maman Bebe catalogue (pictured).  As I type this, she's playing with a bunch of keys and an old Ferrero Rocher box.  The toys in this picture were all either gifts or bargainous second-hand finds.  Dulcie reads books borrowed from the local library (pictured) and we only buy her the ones that she really loves.  I don't feel bad about spending the occasional few pounds on books for her and it was just too sad watching her look for Not Now Bernard when we finally returned her library copy!  We also buy books from the charity shops if we're not looking for something specific.  Later on we're going to meet some other babies for a singalong in the library and then a quick visit to the local park.  I probably won't have freed a single moth from my purse today unless I happen to need a pint of milk.  I think that is about all I have to say EVER about bringing up a baby on the cheap and I'm sure you could have worked all of this out for yourself, but I will just add that you shouldn't let financial worries put you off having a baby.  If you can cover childcare (financially or in terms of friends/family/time) then I'd say you're pretty much sorted.  Plus you'll never have an evening out again so you'll be saving all the time :)

I'll just wait for the cool crowd to stop doing the old spendy-spendy all the bleedin' time and catch up to my frankly revolutionary thinking, shall I?  Shizzle.

la piscine

How fantastic is this picture my five-year-old nephew Angus drew at school recently?  I hope he doesn't sue me for sharing it without his permission...  I can't believe French children have to do all that curly writing!

I have been craving a swim lately.  Not easy to arrange with a baby in tow, though.  Still, she's a good excuse not to bother shaving my legs :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Gah, I love this sleeping beauty.

Dulcie had a big checkup today to see how she's doing one year past her due date.  Turns out she's doing well (as we suspected) and, barring any problems appearing as she gets older, she has been discharged.  Woo hoo!  Maybe now we can stop worrying (ha!) and start thinking of her as a normal baby.  Maybe :)

I'm loving this chilly weather.  I'll be so sad to pack away the winter woollies come spring/summer.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

excitement on last night's telly box

 Two exciting things appeared on telly last night.  Firstly, Dot is back on Albert Square!  Whoop!  Sadly, this has happened just as I gave up EastEnders once again.  Oh well, never mind.  I'll probably be squeezing in a sneaky episode now and again on nights I'm not working.  Second exciting telly event - Utopia on Channel 4.  Did you see this?  Oooh, it was dark and gruesome (seriously gruesome) but I am hooked already and muchly looking forward to the other five episodes.  If you missed it, it's on again tonight at 10pm on 4seven, but maybe it's best avoided if you are of a particularly nervous disposition...


I'm back with another video for all the people who read this blog purely for Dulcie news.  I don't have much time or brain space for any other type of blogging at the moment.  I can post these videos while Dulcie and I eat breakfast and she's quite happy as long as I let her watch the video over and over again in between bursts of typing.

Here is Dulcie playing the organ and singing along, a technique she has picked up from her father.  I've seen her sing more concentratedly than this (she was a bit distracted by the camera as you can see) but those facial expressions are classic Dulcie at the organ.  Excuse the mucky face and (lack of) outfit - we filmed this just after a very messy dinner last night.

Not much else to report really.  I did my first late shift at work this week and it was horrendous - everything that could go wrong went wrong and I think my brain had pretty much shut down from 10pm onwards, just when I needed it most.  But the good news is that Dulcie and her dad got on just fine without me, so I suppose that is the main thing.  I'm slowly getting used to my new (and increased) medications so Dulcie and I have been getting on OK without my mum's assistance for the last few days.  It's been lovely cold weather so we've been going for long walks and hanging out in the park a lot, going on the swings etc.  The healthy eating side of the resolution has been going pretty well too - not perfect, but good and sustainable, and certainly helped by the freezer bulging with healthy homemade meals to dip into now and again.  I bought some wool to crochet a cardigan (for Dulcie) from, but have yet to make a start.  I'm thinking my lunch breaks this weekend might be the time.  I'll keep you posted.

Better go and have a shower before our water supply gets switched off.  Long story...

Monday, January 14, 2013


Dulcie would have had her first birthday this weekend if she'd been born when expected and it seems like she's changing so fast at the moment.  She is understanding so much and is interested in absolutely everything.  She does a variety of animal noises (and actually has conversations in cat speak with Lola) but the lion sound is her favourite.  She waves for hello and goodbye and shakes her head whenever she hears "no" (or "know"!) or "don't".  She's also taken up dancing and singing, sometimes both at the same time... while playing the organ!  I will have to try to get a video of that.  She also chooses records on her dad's jukebox and rocks out to them.  She's still not quite walking, but is getting pretty close and has managed a few steps completely on her own a few times, as long as she doesn't realise she's doing it.

She loves watching this video of herself.  We've just watched it about ten times because I find it hard to resist her saying, "Adden!"  Talking of finding her hard to resist, I am having to dip my toe into the disciplinary waters.  Now that she understands what "no" means, I have seen her testing the boundaries a few times (already?!) and have had to try out the "Mum said no!" frogmarch.  Better to start as we mean to go on, I suppose, but - oh! - she is so little and cute and impossible to be stern with for long.  And on the subject of being soft, she's still sleeping in our bed every single night, but I've given up stressing about it.  It seems to work for us (for now) so we're adopting Plan B... and looking for a bigger bed :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

chocolate for dieters

Wards by Marcfoto
Wards, a photo by Marcfoto on Flickr.

It may be tacky and predictable, but I'm genuinely loving the way everyone is trying to be good for the new year. I just can't get enough of the conversations about how good we're all going to be and how great we're all going to feel, maybe because I really believe Graham and I are going to do it this year.

You may have been concerned by the picture above, but I'm not actually here to advocate laxatives as a way to lose weight. Eugh. Instead, I'm here with the even more dubious weight-loss plan of eating plenty of chocolate! Interested? Read on...

A few years back Graham and I were fatties but we managed to change our ways and lose a lot of weight - around three stones for me. One of the things that I attributed our success to was the fact that we did allow ourselves fairly regular treats, small but indulgent. I may have wobbled off the straight and narrow since (a bit - I'm still nowhere near as heavy as I was) but we did manage to maintain our healthier lifestyles for a reasonably long time. One of the treats we had on hand was cubes of the most deliciously creamy and boozy dark chocolate squares. We kept a box of them in our freezer and had one with a cuppa most days. They were so indulgent that you didn't need more than one and, even though they were ready to eat within a minute or so, having them in the freezer stopped us grabbing a sneaky extra square like we might have if they'd been in the fridge or cupboard. Also, the large batch I made lasted about a year so they were always on hand.

Today my mum and I spent the day cooking for the freezer (which we defrosted last night) so I was quick off the mark to make a batch of these chocolates to keep our dieting sweet teeth (sweet tooths?) in check this year. The recipe is a simplified version of an already very simple recipe by Thomasina Miers.

You will need:

500g of 75% cocoa dark chocolate
200g of 50% cocoa dark chocolate
400ml of double cream
30g of butter
2 tablespoons of rum/whisky/brandy
A generous pinch of cinnamon
A generous pinch of mixed spice
A small pinch of ground cloves
A small pinch of chilli powder

Here's what you do:

Grease a baking tray (about 30cm by 15cm or slightly bigger) and line it with clingfilm.

Break all the chocolate into a glass bowl.

Heat the cream in a pan with all the spices until it is really hot but not boiling.

Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until melted.

Add the butter and booze.

Pour into the tin and pop in the freezer for one hour.

Tip the chocolate slab onto a chopping board and cut it into small squares before returning to the freezer.

When you need a sweet fix, just take a square from the freezer. You can pop it in your mouth straightaway (it will be chilly but soft and not at all like an ice cube) or leave it to get a bit warmer and squidgier for a few minutes, it's delicious either way.

And that, food lovers, is how I plan to lose weight by eating lots and lots of chocolate. Who's with me?

Friday, January 4, 2013


Edit: Now you can get a Graze box for free too.  Just follow this link (for a limited time) and feel free to send your friends and family there too :)

Just before I left for my first day back at work today, the postman arrived with a Graze box for me, sent by a mysterious benefactor.  I ate one of the four snacks at my desk and it was yum-yum-delicious.  I've since discovered that the mysterious benefactor was my sister and that I'll be getting one of these every Friday!  Whoop!  It is truly the perfect back-to-work present, especially given my health-related new year's resolution.  There are four snacks in each box and I will be working four shifts each week, so I'm hoping that a healthy snack per shift will keep me away from the lure of the vending machine and on the straight and narrow.  I've just been on the website to tell them all about my likes and dislikes, so hopefully the boxes will be full of things I love to eat.  I can't tell you how excited I am about this!  Health food, who'd have thought it?

My first day back went pretty well.  It was good to see the old familiar faces (and the million and one new ones - I think half the workforce has been replaced in my time off!) and I remembered how to use the subtitling software much better than I'd expected.  Dulcie had a lovely afternoon with her granny and even waved me off and blew me a kiss when I left.  I read a bit of my book on the underground and it felt surprisingly normal to be going to work.  I feel good.  I think this working mother malarkey might just work out :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

one sleep until...

Vintage typewriter Streamliner by Remington by vintage19_something

I go back to work tomorrow.  I'm not sure how I feel about it all.  Part of me is looking forward to it - having some change of pace to my days/weeks and feeling closer to normal.  I'm not worried about leaving Dulcie as I'll be working evenings and weekends for the next nine months until her nursery place starts, so her dad will be looking after her.  I am worried about the fact I will hardly ever see her dad until October!  I suppose I am looking forward to seeing my colleagues again.  Well, I should more accurately say that I'm looking forward to having those people in my day-to-day life again, but I think it is the thought of seeing them all initially that is making my stomach go a bit churny.  I've been practising how to respond to typical chat/small talk like a normal person.  I think I am worried that people will say something seemingly standard and, unbeknownst to them, it will touch one of many a raw nerve and make me cry.  I am so scared of bursting into tears in front of people.  I cry a lot these days but I really don't want to cry in front of the people I work with.

Other things I am worried about:

- That my brain is not what it was before I went on maternity leave so I will make silly mistakes and be embarrassed by myself.
- That there have been lots of changes to the office and the way things work and I will be out of the loop and confused.  I don't even know where I am meant to sit any more let alone how to subtitle.
- That I will have one million emails in my inbox.
- That I will have to subtitle the new series of One Born Every Minute as I still can't watch anything about pregnancy/childbirth/babies without crying/having a meltdown.
- That all the time I'm at work is time I'm not with Dulcie and how much time do I have?
- That I won't be able to think of anything to say to anyone since all I can think about is my baby and my heart.

Hmm, I did resolve to be more positive, so in the interest of fairness and balance (and to calm myself down) I will make a similar list of what I am looking forward to about going back to work:

- Lunch breaks where I can not only sit and eat my lunch but can talk to other adults and/or read a book or do some sewing or crochet or anything I fancy!
- Travelling on the underground... where I can read a book or do some sewing or crochet or anything I fancy!
- Walking down the street without pushing a pram ahead of me.
- Reminding myself that I am still the person I was before all this happened.
- Sitting in a chair for extended periods of time without having to engineer a distraction for the other human I'm responsible for.
- Wages!
- Wearing clothes that don't have to have booby access.
- Having something else to think about/a distraction from the loop my thoughts tend to be on.
- Spending time with people I like and also with some people who don't have babies.
- Having Dulcie to come home to.

Goodness, it is going to be strange and scary.  Really I am looking forward to it though.  I think.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

this sort of mess won't be tolerated in 2013 (who am I trying to kid?!)

 How was your Hogmanay?  Ours was predictably quiet.  We ate lots of snacks, drank a wee bit of sparkling wine and watched some telly, going to bed at a fairly respectable 1.00am.  Barring a short mid-evening nap, Dulcie stayed up until 11.59pm, missing out on seeing in the bells by a matter of seconds. I wasn't trying to keep her up (that's probably child abuse for a one-year-old, right?) but she just wouldn't/couldn't drop off.  She spent the evening causing mayhem and crying out of tiredness.  As you can see, she discovered how to take hankies out of the box and swiftly emptied the lot, but she enjoyed it and it did make us laugh.  She also tried to blow my nose for me at one point, which was very sweet.
 Gah, babies are so messy, as these photos from a few nights ago further evidence.
Baby mess might not be so bad in a tidy house, but when you are a messy parent yourself, it can kind of tip things over the edge.  I wonder if I'll ever feel on top of things around here...