Posts from the “home” Category

Freya

Posted on 5 June, 2016

In the space of a week baby Freya has changed our lives immeasurably. As she is our second child the anticipation before her birth was very different. When I was expecting Ewan I was so excited to jump into the unknown that I prepared, nested and imagined for months on end how it would all be. Expecting Freya I didn’t focus on the pregnancy to the same extent. This time I let it happen and watched it unfold rather than anticipating each next step. I will admit that my excitement about the birth was tempered with a large amount of trepidation. As the pregnancy moved on I started to remember what true exhaustion felt like and wondered how I would manage the feeling of depletion and an energetic three year old at the same time. I worried about my patience evaporating and me losing my cool with Ewan and everyone around me.  I worried about  how Steve and I would survive the first few months of complete change that a second child would bring.

I could still worry about all these things but something else happened that I had forgotten all about. I had forgotten what it feels like to feel a rush of love for someone new, our baby girl.  Whispering “I love you “to Freya as I kiss her head I’m left over thrown, lost for a second or two with only her. The weight of those words feel so heavy that sometimes they get caught in my throat. Over the week the realisation sinks in that I will love her forever.  Even when she doesn’t ask for it, want it or need it I will always feel it for her. Like the incessant blue bottle fly who refuses to fly out the window my love will hang in the air, never pausing, never relenting ( although hopefully less annoying!)

I feel this love for Ewan but yet I never stopped to imagine that I could feel it again. Maybe because I couldn’t have imagined it. I couldn’t replicate or dream of this feeling because it’s unimaginable that it would have happened again. It knocked me sideways the first time surely I’d have developed some immunity, some protection against its strength but I have no resistance. I am, once again, over thrown.

I stare at her as her eyes roll with the joy of milk and think she’s complete perfection,just  like her brother before her. The worries, the delusional tiredness, the tensions can wait because this is not a week for those things. This is a week for Freya.

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We need some practice with getting four of us into one picture!

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Easter hunts and disappointments

Posted on 27 March, 2016

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If this Easter has thought me anything it’s that my toddler handles disappointment much better this 32 week pregnant woman!

Saturday’s schedule was all laid out we were going to an Easter hunt with Peter Rabbit. The build up for this hunt was epic. We were reading Peter Rabbit, watching the cartoon, talking about it daily. Ewan had a list of things he wanted to bring with him to show Peter Rabbit ( a carrot and a little rabbit light his cousins sent him!) It was all systems go on Saturday morning!

That was until they cancelled it two hours before hand because of rain!  I was devastated!  stood in the pouring rain declaring that it wasn’t bad enough to cancel. I predicted breaking the heart of our nearly 3 year old. The angst of letting him down was more than my pregnancy hormones could take! Ewan  however took it just fine. “Okay” was pretty much his response. We were convinced he didn’t understand gravity of the situation and explained again. “We’ll do a hunt at home in the garden” we promised hoping to ease the devastation he was clearly feeling somewhere deep deep in his soul. “Okay” was again response. After a beat he checked, “Can I wear my wellies in the garden?” When he got a “yeah sure”  he was as pumped about our homemade hunt as he had been about the other plan.

And so with about a five minute prep we headed into the garden to find some very badly hidden chocolates.

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We got a bout of sunshine (see the weather really wasn’t so bad!) and he was thrilled with his foraging skills!

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The chocolate covered face explains how the rest of the day went.

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My theory is proven again by this mornings venture into making hot cross buns. Last night I hastily read a recipe for hot cross buns and thought that would be a lovely thing for the 3.75 of us to do together on Easter Sunday.

This morning I went again for the big build up. I showed Ewan the recipe in the paper. I made him wait for something to eat because these hot cross buns were going to be amazing and he would need his full appetite to appreciate them. I sang the Hot Cross Bun song on loop. The whole works! Once we started into making them I discovered they have to rise for one hour. Then you shape the dough into buns, then they rise for another hour! Then you bake them for nearly an hour!

I read the recipe out loud. I read it to myself. I read it out loud again while I ran my finger under the words. Finally it sunk in.”Nearly three hours” I exclaimed! “What? These are about 20 cents each in Lidl. How can Lidl afford to charge 20 cent for something that takes three hours to make? They’re only buns, how would they need three hours!” The rant went on. Ewan shrugged his shoulder and said “We have to wait” and off he went.

After one hour of waiting I suggested a walk. It turns out no-one in the house is willing to argue with a hungry pregnant woman so despite bursts of hail stones we set out. While I managed to keep the rant to an internal one at this point I was still in shock at a few insolence of the newspaper not to highlight in giant capitals that these so called buns take three hours to make. Ewan went about his day, finding chocolate where he could. He had forgot we’d even made dough in the morning. By the oven timer finally went the hot cross buns came as a magic surprise to him!

Who would have thought toddlers could be zen? Turns out as long as there’s chocolate somewhere to be found nothing else bears worrying about. He might very well be on to something!

 

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The house of vinegar smells!

Posted on 3 December, 2015

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Surely the world of canning is reserved for wool spinning home schoolers, the frugal and maybe the occasional organic hipster. While that may be true I have added myself to that merry band of canners.

Despite (or maybe because of ) making three different lists I have spent the past two days completing a grand tour of every local supermarket. Lidl and I always been well acquainted but the staff are now becoming suspicious of my frequent visits. When I’m out of one supermarket I’m straight off to Dunnes for the things I couldn’t get in Lidl, then Heatons for the jars I couldn’t get in Dunnes. Last but not least to Aldi for an unexpected cinnamon stick emergency! Turns out Aldi don’t have cinnamon sticks so it was up to  Super Valu to complete the  full supermarket tour!!

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One word of advice would be choose your supply shop wisely, find one giant shop that has everything and save yourself a lot of rainy trips to the supermarket! (Or stick with the 4 ingredient Chilli Jam and make life yummy and simple!)

 

Once I had everything the process itself was very simple. I made three different recipes.

Christmas Ketchup,Christmas Chutney and the aforementioned Chilli Jam.

All from the lovely Nigella. We are definitely on first name terms after this pot bubbling marathon!

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I found the Christmas Ketchup Recipe in the Nigella Christmas book but I couldn’t find it online anywhere. I will admit I wasn’t too disappointed not to share that recipe with you. The end result is good but the recipe needed the most ingredients and required equipment like a mouli and funnel. While I made do with a sterlised tea pot instead of a funnel and a sieve instead of a mouli it caused me much more grief than the other two recipes and so my advise would be stick to either the Christmas chutney or Chilli Jam.

Often things don’t work out for me in the kitchen so I’m relieved to say I can confidently gift all of these I siphoned off a jar of each one for purely scientific reasons and I’m delighted with how the turned out.

The Christmas chutney is Ewan’s favourite. It has significantly  jazzed up his playschool lunches,m they look much less depresing now!

Steve and I have both voted for the chilli jam as our favourite. I will admit that my decision was influenced by the fact that it’s the easiest one to cook, 10 minutes boiling and leave it cool, ta da!

Despite it’s name it’s doesn’t send you gasping for the nearest fire extinguisher, nor would you spread it on your toast. The chillis I picked (the only ones they had in Lidl) were mild so it has welcomed warmth without leaving you short of breath.

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On downside was the house reeked of vinegar for about two days. But after plunging my family into freezing cold temperatures with all the windows open I’m glad to say I think the smell is finally gone and the jars look pretty nifty filled with yumminess even if I do say so myself! I can’t wait to dish these out to friends, family and neighbours!  In case you didn’t get the vibe from the Christmas cards, I’m loving Christmas this year!!

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Best of 100: All that glistens is not golden syrup

Posted on 7 November, 2015

Let’s start with the fact that calmly baking with a toddler is the internet’s biggest lie. So what did I decide to do with a toddler who woke up wired to the moon when I was pressed for time?

Yep, you guessed it bake a recipe that involves a half an hour in the fridge. Time which would be filled by Ewan repeating on loop,”It’s ready, it’s ready now”.

It is pretty hilarious to look at the hundred pictures now. Even though I looked at the photos a few hours after my stress levels went through the roof the pictures are already altering my memory of the event. I say event because that’s what it felt like. All looks calm and measured in the photos, it even looks fun. In real life it was a bloody nightmare. With his enthusiasm he tipped 75g of brown sugar over his head, into the cupboard and all over the ground and the chair he’s standing on. While I went to get the hoover he fueled his sugar high by stealing big clumps of butter to lick and smear everywhere.  It kept going like that until the slightly burnt male specimen made their way out of the oven. I will concede that baking with my little toddler man has occasionally gone well. We can happily make an easy bread and butter pudding together when he’s the right level of tired and I don’t try to photograph it. I have actually enjoyed doing that with him. But yesterday was nothing like our bread and butter pudding evenings!

I fear the odds were against us yesterday morning. As well as the time constraints of the morning I also decided that this would be the right time to take my 100 photos. The more I picked up the camera the greater the opportunities were for Ewan to spread the baking mess far and wide and practice his “wobbling like jelly” moves while standing on a chair . But despite the fact that I wanted a drink at 10:20 in the morning we actually ended up with something edible. And while I desperately struggle for positives in a day that went on to me getting a split lip from an accidental elbow in the mouth all I can think of was at least there were sugary treats to comfort-eat my way through the day!

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He sticks his tongue out when he's concentrating just like his Granny!

He sticks his tongue out when he’s concentrating just like his Granny!

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The high five guy in the middle and the big blobby dude at the end were my favourites!

Steve bought me back these chocolate icing pens from a recent business trip to Seattle. You heat them up in warm water and then squeeze out the coloured chocolate icing. What will these Americans think of next . Squeezable coloured chocolate, well I never!! They are pretty nifty I have to say and great for little hands to manage.

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Steve’s keen sense of smell meant he popped down just as the Gingerbread men came out of the oven and so he also had a dabble with the tasty icing.

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During the lengthy clean up I considered never ever baking again but due to a bad memory and the photo below I’m likely to reconsider. Although next time I’ll leave the camera down so I have some chance of catching dropped bowls!

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BOO!

Posted on 31 October, 2015

When Ewan was six months I started making him a costume. Those of you who’ve been loyally sticking by the blog over the years might remember that my plan was that after going to the effort of making it he would wear it for at least seven years. When I said that I hadn’t accounted for the strong will of a toddler. This year I talked him out of being a pirate by suggesting I would dress up as a pirate and he could be a scary orange monster. It worked but that thin logic is unlikely to hold up next year!

So in honour of the costume’s hay day here are some of it’s best moments!!

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Free time

Posted on 18 September, 2015

Now that Ewan is in playschool two mornings a week I have a total of four and a half hours to myself in the day time! I have admit at first I had no idea what to do with myself.  Before he started I had great plans. I would do crafting projects, I’d blog so much the key board would break. Uncharacteristically, I even toyed with the idea of going swimming!

He has now being going for a month and I have not done any of these things. Not even once. I have done some grocery shopping, made beds, emptied the dishwasher for the millionth time and tidied up toys in preparation for inevitable destruction. But don’t let me fool you into thinking I’m a regular Cinderella, I ain’t. But finding a rhythm of something that I want to do, in a limited time-frame, which is close to home and free hasn’t been as easy as I first thought. My capacity for housework is limited and it’s not something that I want to work on developing so instead I’m flitting around the place. A few days ago I tackled the wood logs lying in our back garden. 5 years ago when we chopped down trees in our garden and stacked the resulting logs with great talk of buying stoves, cutting wood etc. Last year they acted as a table when I photographed cups on top of them and other than that they haven’t been put to use at all.

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So, I’ve started sawing them for firewood (No comments on my technique please!) . I tried to think of this as a meditative task. I told myself that you could imagine monks doing this to help clear the mind but really my only thoughts while doing it was that these better burn for longer than it’s taking me to saw them!

Having given up on the idea that sawing is meditative I took to timing myself instead. This suits my competitive self much better and now I’ve really gotten into it! When I started it was taking me nearly 10 minutes to saw one log. Shameful I know! Now, I can crack that baby in two in just over a minute. Maybe there’s a sawing Olympic I could train for, hmm!

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While it’s good to have fire wood and like any toddler I love being timed I’m still not sure that sawing is sustainable as a relaxing thing to do. So today I turned to food. I was served an amazing breakfast at a friends house last weekend and I realised I never take the time for a leisurely breakfast. Given that morning start at 7 usually I also don’t really feel like it so this lunch time while Ewan was gluing the table at playschool I took to making Eggs arnold/eggs royale (whatever you call it, the one with salmon!) and it was made me drool a little it was that tasty!

I may not have nailed down something structured to do with my time but it turns out messing around with logs and eggs has it’s charms.

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A shocking Tuesday Night

Posted on 8 July, 2015

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It was a Tuesday night like any other. Steve and I lay gently snoring until I woke up to a scratching noise. It was persistent and definitely in our room. This required action. I woke Steve by jabbing him in the shoulder with my index finger. Speaking was a risk as I didn’t want to give up my position. I once read that if a rat bites your neck the best way to get it to remove it’s grip is to light a match, then blow it out and put it to its nose. The reason being that rats don’t like sulphur as so they release their grip! This is possibly the most useless piece of advice I have ever stumbled across. I never carry matches and if my neck is being ravaged by a rat I am certain that I will not have the presence of mind to remember that we keep matches in a tea caddy in the shelf above the washing machine! This advice also has me full convinced that if a rat knows where I am it will immediately attack my neck therefore speaking before we had identified the creature seemed incredibly dangerous. But after poking Steve awake I felt that I needed to say something.

So in the whispered darkness I explain that I’ve heard something rustling. (Rustling is such a great word!). The noise happens, again, and again, and again. Steve and I look up at the same time. Above our heads is the creature that woke us up and is now terrifying the life out of us. A bat. A real life, flying bat, circling our bedroom celling.

Steve screams and runs for the room, turning the light on as he makes his escape. There goes my back up!  The light has the effect sending the bat into a freak attack frenzy. He starts swooping and diving, banging itself into walls then soaring up again. I dive under the covers afraid for my life. If there are two things urban legends have thought me it’s that rats go for the neck while bats get stuck in your hair. Desperately regretting letting my hair grow, I curl myself into a ball and hide under the covers all the while chastising Steve for leaving me in my hour of great need.

With a lot of bravery Steve comes shrieking back into the room, flings open the shutters and opens the window. I don’t see any of this as I’m still struggling to breathe under the covers. But when the shrieking stops I brave a peak. Steve is standing near the window, flashing any passer by’s who happen to be walking by having a staring competition with the half dead bat. He explains that the bat swooped to fly out the window, missed and seems to have knocked himself out.

The bat looked at Steve, I looked at Steve, Steve looked worryingly at the bat. The bat does not make it. The head injury proved fatal.

We barricade the chimney in our bedroom with a pillow. This is not the strongest defence but at 5 in the morning it’s the most we can manage, turn off the light and try desperately to get back to sleep. Not the kind of drama you’d expect, or want, on a Tuesday night!

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Mirror sand pit

Posted on 27 April, 2015

As a  hoarder I have problems throwing anything out. I live by the “you never know when I might need that” principle. This leaves me with shelves of chipped cups and a a hallway which has house a broken microwave and an unserviceable sewing machine  for a few years now. Since I made the toy kitchen from the record player I am now more convinced than ever that everything has a purpose you just have to keep it long enough to find out what it is. (Steve panics when I say things like that and worries that we’ll end up on some hoarders reality tv show!).
About a year ago I put an old Ikea bathroom mirror outside (the hallway was full!) and its wood has been slowly aging while I consider what to do with it!  With our recent pout of good weather I had an idea. With my little helper and measurement at hand we headed off to B and Q.
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They have a free wood cutting service in B and Q so I thought I would save myself the joys of my wobbly sawing and let the machine do the hard work instead. The white hardboard was cut to slide into the frame of the mirror and by pure luck the remainder bit of the hardboard was just enough to cover the top of the sandpit and acts as a lid when it’s not being used.  With my newly cut white hard board and play sand I set about making the old Ikea mirror into a new sandpit.

The mirror we had is no longer available but it’s similar to this one. The joy of changing up Ikea products is that because things slot in you can slot them out just as easily. So I slid out the mirror and slid in the hardboard.

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Add a bag of play sand and there you have it, one new sand pit. Throw in some of his toys and it’s ready to be enjoyed.

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I used the Ikea mirror because that’s what I had but any defunct piece of furniture would do, a drawer, a bedside locker, anything with a lip really. I didn’t really have high hopes of it surviving but it has been over a week now and it’s still a hit, and it even still has some sand left in it. For a cost of 14 euro I’m chuffed.

Day one it was a minor success. He mainly kept getting annoyed at his digger for dropping the sand. Day two was spent explaining that you can’t eat the sand, that the plants don’t want to eat the sand and that the sand is meant to stay in the sand pit not all over the ground. Day three it became a success. He proudly built his own castles, with a special tap at the end and stands back in awe at his creations!

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Some old nails in the wall, whose original purpose is a bit of a mystery, now house his sandy toys when it’s time to close up the building site for the night.

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Where have I been?

Posted on 16 April, 2015

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You might be forgiven for thinking that I have vanished. Well, rest assured I am alive and well.

I would love to say that I have been doing something terribly industrious and important but in truth I’ve been going filling my days with thousands of trips to Fota Wildlife Park  …

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…feeding some hungry kid goats at an open farm….

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On the home front I’ve discovered the wonders of sticking some ginger nuts in with digestives to make a good and crunch crumble!

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When I haven’t been loitering in sunny parks or crumbling I have been crafting my little heart out. My local craft shop Vibes and Scribes have sponsored me to do a crafting blog post. I’m unbelievably thrilled about this. I’m nuts about their shop so when they got in touch I squealed ! After squealing the next obvioius thing to do was to touch with my crafty friend Colette and so the planning and plotting started! I hope to have a finished masterpiece ready really soon, I’m so excited to show you:)

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St Patrick’s Silence

Posted on 18 March, 2015

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As you might have guessed I am a huge St Patrick’s day fan.

Rain,hail or big pregnant belly I have been there at the edge of the Cork parade willing and able to wiggle my way into a good viewing spot. I struggle to understand why some stay away from the parade but I can just about get my head around it if people are busy or bed ridden. Where I  fail miserably in my understanding is the stoic silence that surrounds the parade. This is a celebration, it should be full of whooping, clapping or at a passing comment.

I’m not sure if it was where I was standing or whether my enthusiasm frightens people but this year the response was so lack luster it boarded on eerie. The parade delivered the goods. There were giant robot heads,

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glorious stags,

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 aerial dancers…

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and a giant inflated garden!!

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Not one of them received so much as a clap from the majority. People made these amazing things, people practiced and practiced and barely received a response at all.Up to 60,000 people turned up to line the streets of Cork and from where I was standing you could hear a pin drop!  Not even a muted discussion  was ushered about the delights passing us. I grand you some aspects of the parade may fail to inspire but the tone was so sedate that at one stage it felt like a funeral procession!

When I clapped, or whooped or enthusiastically pointed things out to Ewan, eyes were cast back at me as though I was breaking some sacred vow of silence. Maybe a memo went out to say a new rule of silence must be obeyed. Well I for one will continue to break this strange tradition that seems to have creeped it’s way into the parade.

I will even continue to risk annoying those around me in the hope that next year others will join in and at least give a smiling nod towards the participants. Despite the lone clapping, I had my fun and I’m already awaiting next years parade and as long as it involves being fed some tasty food Ewan is willing to play along too!  Happy belated St Patrick’s day from a blogger who is very happy to have her blog back working again:)

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