Love of Winter

I could get used to these long dark days.

I’ve always preferred winter to any other season.

There’s something more familiar and cosy about winter that I just don’t get from any other time of the year. I can throw on a jumper and a huge woolly scarf and a decent pair of walking boots, happy in the knowledge that if I tried to rock my four inch heels 12 months of the year I would look like the village idiot. I don’t have to worry about the perfect beach body or shifting that last few pounds, trying to buy something to wear when the shops are filled with clothes that would be more expensive than gold if they were sold by weight.

I love to curl up in front of the fire with a book or some work, a glass of wine or even a big mug of hot chocolate. A blanket wrapped around me even though it isn’t cold inside. Call it my snugly if you like but I just love to have a blanket handy.

I’ve spent the last few nights like this and I’m definitely enjoying the laziness of it all. Yesterday I left work a little early (due to lack of anything interesting to do). I arrived home probably about an hour before sunset. I lit the fire, switched on the laptop and settled down with a big mug of coffee and started to order my groceries online. I was a lot more sensible this year, I didn’t get caught up buying silly things, I just stuck to my list and made sure to order all of my heavy items which will save me having to cart those home be myself.

It took around an hour and by the time I’d finished it was almost completely dark outside. I hadn’t closed the curtains yet and the lights from the Christmas tree were reflected in the glass. The laptop shut down for the evening, the only noise left to listen to was the sound of the fire crackling.

I walked to the kitchen and almost without thinking, lifted the lasagne from the fridge and put it into the oven before switching it on. I went back to the fireplace, added some more peat and upstairs I hung some towels near the radiator for Toot’s bath time.

After checking everything was secured, I pulled on a jumper, lifted my coat and big woolly scarf and headed back out into the cold to collect Toots.

We walked back up the hill together towards home, with the constant sound of traffic no match for the volume of her giggle as we slid on the already frosty ground and she tried to “catch” me with the steam she blew from her mouth.

We arrived home and got rid of the coats and boats, heading straight for the sofa and all those lovely cushions. She immediately grabbed a blanket and curled up with it draped across her knee. Her eyes shone and sparkled and the faintest hint of red could still be seen on the tip of her nose and her cheeks, but still completely happy her smile shone brightest of all.

She asks eagerly if it will snow before Christmas and I hope for her (and me) that it does.

My little apple never fell far from the tree.

And so it begins

Well, actually its been in full swing for a couple of weeks now.

Yes I've been faffing with Photoshop again. Just because I'm not very good with it, doesn't mean its any less addictive.

For some reason every year around the end of November I start to behave like the world will end on 31 December. I have to finish everything I've left to one side the entire year, try every recipe I've been meaning to, have a crack at any new hobby or craft that's caught my eye.

All I wind up doing is maybe finishing one or two projects I've had on the go and create another ten which ill sit until next November.

I've started to make a dinosaur play mat thingy which I found here. I've been at It a couple of weeks now and considering my little sewing machine can't cope with quilting felt I've been doing everything the old fashioned way. I've managed to get the mat finished and the zips pinned in place along with a cave and a couple of trees made, still a fair bit to do though.

I've still working on finishing the last couple of Christmas presents and for some reason they're taking a lot longer than I planned. At this rate mum's getting one glove for Christmas and the Jacko look isn't quite as "in" as it used to be.

The husband was on call yesterday and Toots was happily occupying herself at the kitchen table with a bucket of PVA and enough tissue and crepe paper to make the Woodland Trust cry, so I decided to get a couple of wee DIY bits and pieces done around the house.

I've been putting them off for months, little things. I've been meaning to change the light switches upstairs and had to change a couple of the low voltage bulbs in the bathroom.

I grabbed the husband's tool box and the bits and pieces I needed from the garage and got stuck in.

Well the husband arrived home a couple of hours later. Imagine my surprise when he wasn't grateful that I'd done some things it would save him the bother of having to do. Nope instead he was huffy. A huffy bugger because, again, I'd used his tools.

Apparently I have this.

I've had it for four years and stepped over and around it every day for four years because he put it in the larder.

He told me about it four years ago as well, and if I really strain hard I can almost see a fuzzy black and white picture of it in my head. Almost.

The problem. Four years ago I was pregnant.

I turned into a bit of village idiot when I was pregnant. I was clumsy and forgot almost everything instantly. I'd enough trouble remembering how to do my job and remembering to get dressed before I went there everyday without having to deal with excess information.

So Husband, when you showed me a big silver box and mentioned tools four years ago, I zoned you out and didn't hear anything else.


Do you like the addition of the two packs of sand and glass paper. The reason behind those is that he thinks if I have my own sand paper, I'll stop using his belt and orbital sanders.

Sorry again Husband. Not happening.

WFMW - When being cheap doesn't work

Just putting it out there, but this is one of those times when being cheap really doesn't work.

I decided that I needed to reorganise Toots toys. She has a large wooden toy box downstairs which is a pain in the backside to get anything in and out of and two pop up storage bags in her room filled with toys. Obviously, she only ever plays with the two or three things sitting at the top of each of these boxes and bags.

So the plan was simple. Smaller, lighter boxes which could be brought out one at a time, easily packed up again and another box brought out to keep the toys in even rotation.

Rather than buy made for purpose toy boxes like
Trofast I thought I could make my own using some of the dozens of boxes my office throw out every day and some pretty wrapping paper.

So I bought the paper

And got to work wrapping some of the boxes I brought home from the office.

They look good don't they?

Yeah. Well they don't work. They're flimsy for a start. I should have known they'd never stand a chance against Toots. They've been taped together again more times than I can count in the last couple of weeks and I've finally given up. They may have done a better job if I'd used sturdier, heavier boxes.

Anyway, guess who's saving for

For more WFMW posts, check out Rocks in my Dryer. And if you see or have any great ideas for organising kids toys, please let me know.

Bless her little cotton socks

Doesn't she look so calm and peaceful.

Believe it or not, she snores like a bear.

Just like her dad.

Adventures in digiscrapping

I finally fell in. Head first.

My name is Leanne and I am a hobby addict (without a hope in hell of ever being presented with a chip).

I love new hobbies, especially the creative, crafty hobbies and even more so if there's an "Idiot's Guide to being Crafty and Creative" to go along with the new hobby, because I'm anything but. I can copy things easily but don't ask me to come up with a new idea all by my lonesome, because you'll be waiting a long time.

Anyway, I've been seeing a lot around about digiscrapping and I love me a hobby where I can get my hands on everything I need online and for the novice scrapper you can even get a ton of stuff for free.

Now I happen to be lucky enough to have Photo Shop Elements, but you can download some software perfect for the job online and again you can some free stuff. Also I've heard mention that you can use the photo editing software on Flickr.

I've been nosy about digiscrapping for a while now but decided it was far to addictive for me. I only see the the family from the shoulders up at the best of times, but I decided to have a go for a Christmas present for a friend. She loves to bake and always when its my turn to bake she always asks for the same few recipes over and over so I figured I could try and make some recipe cards.

This is what I came up with

Packages by Marie Stones and June Hill

Packages by Marie Stones and June Hill

And I know, I know there isn't a photo included, but I picked up a bundle of offcuts of mounting boards and card at my local framers and I thought I could have this on one side of the card with a photo of the recipe on the other side, laminate them and hold all the cards together with a keyring I found in a birthday card shop with a huge plastic piece of cake attached.

Cutesy, I know, but I'm really starting to like cutesy. Sometimes I even picture myself in a nice apron.

The post where I just empty my head as quickly as possible and hit publish.

Hi remember me. I've been here before but not in a while.

I'm trying to get everything sorted out and unfortunately this and a couple of other things were pushed to the back burner.

I'm getting really excited now about coming out of work and I just want the next month over and done with. Talk about wishing your life away.

I've had a few days off work and for some reason I've managed to wind up with even less time to get anything done. I just couldn't get past the novelty of being able to spend all day with Toots and not have to worry about being anywhere or being late for anything.

We got up in the mornings and had a lovely cooked breakfast, something normally unheard of on a weekday morning. Normally, Toots has breakfast in daycare and me and the husband share a thermos cup of coffee on the way to work and he has a lunchbox full of cereal and a carton of milk chucked into his bag before we leave the house.

Then we lit the fire (its been 1 - 3C here the last couple of days) and cuddled up in front of it for a couple of hours before making any plans for the day.

We did manage to pinch our car back from my mum (her car is stuck in the garage because of dirty diesel) on Friday so that we could go to the Continental Market in Belfast and we had a great day. We stuffed ourselves with bratwurst, churros, hot chocolate, dutch pancakes, stroopwaffles, Turkish delight and red licorice. Toots got to see Santa (photo to come later) and we both had two rides on the merry-go-round.

We went to the Disney Store (which had obviously had an attack of the "crap we haven't sold anything in monthsitis") and a 'Cast Member' was running around the store frantically slapping discount stickers on everything. Brilliant.

Then we went to Hamleys, a lovely toy shop by the way just in case anyone happens to be passing one, it's the first toy shop I've been into in years without turning into a Potential Murder Suspect. Hamley's Santa wasn't going to be there until 3.30pm and we were far too early but they had an entire display of those little animals, you know the ones, like puppies and bunny rabbits and they stop and make noises and wrinkle their noses or waggle their ears and then scurry off for another few steps before stopping to do it all again, and they were all switched on. There were rabbits, and dogs and cats and giraffes and pigs and a drummer bear and either a hippo or a rhino running all over the place.

Toots had a field day running round after them and turning them over to switch them off. Some of the other kids weren't happy, but hey.

Also they had a full size stuffed lion. Only £300. Bargain if you ask me. Although, I think if I was going to blow £300 on a stuffed toy (and why the hell wouldn't I, I hear you ask) it would have to be Koda the Triceratops. At least for 300 notes that thing bobs it's head and burps. Oh and you get free leaf with it.

We bought an Etch a Sketch. I didn't know they still made those, and they still look exactly the same as they did when I was a kid as well. Not like Mr Potato Head, he's went all big soft parts, and child safe.

Anyhoo, I should go, because I should probably wash and find clothes if a plan on going back to work tomorrow.


Blogger isn't playing ball as far as photos are concerned tonight so I'll be back tomorrow.

My Little Monkey

Loving her first tree climb.

Is it a bad thing that six months ago if she'd done this I would have been standing 3mm away with a net instead of 3 feet away with a camera?

I wish it could be Christmas every day

Well ok maybe not everyday, but I do like Christmas.

And as Toots gets more excited so do I. Actually, I'm probably a lot more excited about it than Toots but we'll not go into that.

I've already started to make room for my colossal Christmas tree. Seriously, that thing is a monster. I completely misjudged just how big it was in the shop (because everything looks smaller in the shop) and would up with an eight foot giant.

The only downside to the tree was that I had a beautiful fairy for the top of the old tree, except the new one was so tall, she was kind of perched on up there, with her head craned to one side against the ceiling and one day the front door was open and a gust of wind caught the living room door and slammed it so hard she took a swan dive off from eight feet and landed on her porcelain face.

She's in a box now with her faced in pieces. I keep her in the hopes that one day I'll find someone to fix her.

Anyway, big ol' tree with a knitted fairy on top which looks remarkably like a toilet paper cover (anyone remember those?)

As well as planning where the monster tree will go (and making room for it), I'm chuffed to say I've almost all my Christmas presents in and ready to be wrapped. Not that we bought much this year, but the vast majority of the knitted presents are ready and with Au Naturale changing hands to B&M who sell a huge amount of kids toys I was able to pick up everything I wanted to get for Toots for around half the money I'd planned to spend (picture me smiling, difficult I know).

Her main present this year is the Vtech Kidzoom Digital Camera

We actually opted for the older version of this camera after reading some reviews and trying a couple of the models in Smyths Toys. The new version is waterproof and because of this the buttons are very difficult to press.

I had finger cramp trying to squeeze the button in because of the blister design so even though it states ages 4 and up I would find it hard to believe that only a child built like the Hulk could manage this camera without it becoming frustrating and Christmas day turning into a screaming match, so the old one it was, which was around £15.00 cheaper than the new version and whilst it isn't waterproof, it's a joy to use (yes I've been playing with it for ages now)

I figure as long as it gets looked after the camera will last for a few years anyway and at £35 I can't really complain about that.

I also picked her up a Dora the Explorer pottery wheel which was £6 in B&M the cheapest I had seen this anywhere else was £15 so another bargain. I also picked up a set of Dora the Explorer instruments for £5.

The husband also picked up a huge Crayola set with six different types of pens and markers to replace the crappy ones she has which stain everything and a mini version of his tool box (which she's fascinated with) except its full of sponge stamps, little cutters (like the scrap booking variety) and patterned rollers to be used with paint.

She'll also get books and I've collected a box load of different coloured paper and three huge packs of different coloured tissue paper (50 sheets for £1) in the factory shop in Bangor which should keep her busy.

I've still to pick up some books but I'll double check with mum what she's already bought in case we wind up with a book overload like last year.

Sorted. And I can't wait.

Last year was a bit much for her. She got too excited opening presents, then tired, then grumpy and then nothing would pacify her, so I think this year she should enjoy it a bit more.

Oh and the husband has dug out his old Itoy and Samba de Amigo for her to play with. Remember the Itoy. Its like the eight track version of Wii.

This can be her....."when I was a girl all my friends got a beautiful new bike (Wii) and all I got was a stupid skateboard made out of a plank of wood and casters* that dad made himself (Itoy)" story.

Sure everyone needs a "hard done by" story.

You should hear some of my dad's.

*Oh here, I've had my wrists slapped. My darling husband has informed me that said skateboard was actually made out of a plank of wood with one of those old metal skates which you wore over your regular shoes screwed to the bottom, not casters. Apparently this was a fantastic idea because you could have two skateboards for one pair of skates. Husband, I apologise.

WFMW - Chocolate Cupcakes

Seriously, who doesn't like chocolate.

I love chocolate.

No. I really love chocolate. And I love cupcakes, so these little babies rock my world.

They're a bit different because they contain buttermilk (or vinegar and milk combined if you can't get buttermilk) so I wouldn't recommend licking the spoon. The batter just tastes weird.

Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/4 cups plain (all purpose) flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp baking soda (bicarb)
1/2 cup (4oz) butter
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180C (350F)

Cream Butter and sugar, add egg and vanilla and beat well.

Alternate adding buttermilk and flour until all is combined.

Line a 12 cup muffin pan and divide batter evenly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes a skewer comes out clean.

Remove to a cooling rack and once cool frost with;

Chocolate buttercream

4oz icing sugar
2oz butter

4 oz dark chocolate melted
(a little milk)

Cream butter and sugar together to make buttercream, add melted chocolate and beat again to combine. Add a little milk if the buttercream seems a little dry or you prefer a messier (nothing wrong with that) frosting.

Chocolate cupcakes definitely work for me. For more great WFMW ideas head on over to Rocks in my Dryer.

Let me explain

To anyone who stops by and reads any of my older posts, I apologise.

I also apologise to anyone who has already had the misfortune to read them.

You see, I started this blog because I always seem to have something to say for myself, and therein lies the problem. I’m a talker not a writer. I don’t pretend to be a writer. I would never take that away from countless people, some of which I have had the pleasure of reading who write beautifully and constantly find ways to keep me addicted and coming back for more.

I love to hear about everyone’s day to day lives and I started this with the intention of following suit, however I am just not up to that calibre and short of spending endless hours learning I’m afraid that anyone wishing to drop by and spend a bit of time in my (admittedly) little corner of the blogosphere will just have to put up with my drivel.

What I would ask is that when you read anything which I have written, please try to imagine me, face to face, hands waving frantically in all directions, a bit red in the face and the pitch of my voice creeping ever higher as I get excited about a topic. In short try to imagine that I’m speaking to you and telling you my little stories of my day to day life.

Hopefully by explaining this I hope to be able to put more of what I want to say down on paper, so to speak, without concerning myself about whether my posts are well written or eloquent.

That would just be asking too much of myself. Besides I think I’ve mentioned before. I’m all about “done” not “perfect”.

With that in my, I give you a photo of me. I had to take this one, because there are so few. It certainly isn’t great but it’ll have to do.

Chapatis - Recipe

I've been absolutely addicted to these lately.

I only learnt how to make them a few weeks ago (shameful I know) but I haven't stopped since. I figured since I'm a very nice person, I'd pass on the world's simplest recipe.

We're having a bit of a potato famine in the SeetheWoods House lately because of price and quality and I've replaced the humble spud with these.

Chapatis (makes 12)

12oz plain or wholemeal flour

1tsp salt


Mix salt with flour in a bowl, add a little water and start to mix with your fingers. You just just enough water so that it comes together in a ball. It should feel similar to play dough, soft but not so soft it sticks to your hands.

You can make the dough and cover until you're ready to use.

When ready, divide the dough into 12 portions, roll into 5-6 inch rounds (or squares or misshapes, I'm not fussy).

Add enough vegetable oil and a small amount of butter (don't worry if the butter burns a bit, it only makes them taste better) to a heavy frying pan and fry each one over a medium/high heat for about 45 seconds to 1 minute per side.

They puff up slightly when they're done. If you're feeling really adventurous you can hold them over a naked gas flame and they puff up to look like little balloons.

They can be kept warm in an oven until you are ready to serve, but I wouldn't recommend letting them cool and reheating.

This is the basic recipe, feel free to play around with it. I almost always add some garlic power or some dried herbs.

They're also good layered in a casserole with chilli and covered with some grated cheese, like a mock lasagna with a kick.

Let me know if you have any other good ideas on how to use these (Have I mentioned I'm addicted).

Just for Fun.

I have been so ill the past couple of days and feeling very down in the dumps, but then an old friend sent me this.

And I laughed so hard it hurt. There truely isn't anything like a 12 year old photo to cheer a person up. Would you check out that school uniform. Its hideous.

Although for once I don't have the worst hair in a photo, which almost never happens.

WFMW - Towers of Fun

Photo Courtesy of mrsmeep on Flickr

This week Shannon of 'Rocks in my Dryer' fame has set us a little task to post about the toys we've bought for our kids. The theme is to cover all the toys we loved and would happily buy again.

It may seem like a bit of a no brainer and every child has probably had a set of will have a set of these at some stage, but I really think they've turned out to be most used, least expensive toy I've bought for Toots so far.

She has two sets of them, one wet which stay beside the bath and one dry which are now scattered all over the house.

The sets I bought were the very basic round cups with a lipped edge so that they can be stacked into a tower. They're also numbered 1 - 8 on the base of the cups.

I bought two sets of the cups on Ebay for £1.00 when I was still pregnant. So far I've used them to teach Toots her colours, numbers, mixing colours (blue + yellow = green etc) stacking the cups, fitting them one inside another, pouring (water in the bath and rice, sand and beans in the dry cups) and loads more that I can't even remember now.

She'll be four in April and she still uses her cups. The largest one is in the kitchen filled with her mini cookie cutters. She keeps one in her bedroom which is filled with hair clips and has hair elastics wrapped around the outside. A couple of the smaller cups are now "teacups" for her doll's tea parties (even though she has a tea set) and the largest one from the second set is still in the bath because it MUST be used to wash her hair. Almost four years use for £2.00 isn't half bad in my book.

But the best thing about these cups is that if they're used for outside play or they just start to look a little grubby, you can chuck them in the dishwasher and they come up like new.

For more great ideas on the best toys to spend your hard earned money on this Christmas (and hopefully to help you avoid the pitfalls of crap toys) head over Rocks in my Dryer.

And if you're interested some of the worst toys Toots has had and reasons why are;
  1. Preschool poster paints - guaranteed to stain, clothes, fabric, wood and skin.

  2. My Little Pony - their hair is like steel wool and they smell of chemicals.

  3. A Barbie (Boo Hisss) - "Why doesn't she have any feet mommy?.

  4. Skipit - because no child has ever looked lonelier (and not that odd bunny blankie thing, I mean the hoop with a rope and a ball at the end so one child can skip all on their own).

    And the latest "for the hell of it" gift received from my brother.

  5. Inflatable pugil sticks. I've mentioned she isn't even four yet. Although the husband and I had great fun with a couple of drinks in us at the weekend knocking the dung out of each other.

Procrastination, Distraction and Just Plain Laziness

Photo Courtesy of Markel

These past few weeks have been a little crazy.

My mind has been on other things. I have little unfinished projects lying all over the house and I add new ones daily. The husband has caught the flu and I'm pretty sure Toots has a dose currently working on her which will probably land sometime around Friday.

I've barely posted (if anybody noticed) and I didn't even manage to get a WFMW post up last week. In all fairness, I'm still very new to this, so you'll have to bear with me while I find my rhythm, or just learn to live with my randomness if no rhythm is ever found.

And don't even get me started on the housework. Getting by doing the bare minimum has been the order of the day for the past week or so. I keep telling myself that it'll all be there tomorrow, but I can't keep doing that forever.

It isn't that I don't have the time to do any of these things, but I've been lazy tired as well lately and it seems I decide to sit down for ten minutes and then get up to do something, only to realise that its 10.00pm and I've wasted another perfectly useless evening.

Still, on a much brighter note I gave my notice to my employer yesterday. Everyone was very nice about the whole thing which made it a lot easier and now I'm in my final wind down. I'll be in the office on 31 December and then off home to learn how to do a completely different job.

Of course, once I'm at home I'll have no excuse, at least none that I can think of.

I'll have to get a wiggle on and get more housework done. I should at least be able to finish some of my little unfinished projects. And there shouldn't be any reason why I can't cook a meal every night, instead of feigning exhaustion and calling for a pizza.

But I will manage to get everything done. Obviously, once I've helped Toots play with all her toys, make buns and had a little nap with her.

Honestly I'll get stuck in, right after the nap.

Preparing to Jump Ship

OK, so there’s a new plan.

I had originally intended to give one months notice before leaving on 31 December 2008. However, there has been a small amount of upheaval and resulting panic in my office the past week.

One of the solicitors decided that she quite fancied leaving and did. No warning, no notice, nada. Just here today, gone tomorrow.

This means that her secretary is now left at a loose end and let’s face it, at the minute, nobody wants to look like they’re just along for the ride when the boss is looking.

So now the subject of secretarial redundancies has come up.

I’m amazed actually that it hasn’t come up sooner than this. A lot of other firms have already made redundancies and I expect there will be a lot more.

Everybody fancies the idea of working on the big high powered legal cases but at the end of the day the property department is the meat and two veg of most companies. The department that brings in a nice steady stream of money every month and if that disappears (which it has) then redundancies have to be expected.

I’ve spoken with my HR Manager and we’ve agreed that if I give my notice now instead of waiting until 1 November December*, she may be able to convince the company to put off considering any further redundancies until the New Year.

It isn’t exactly great and it doesn’t solve the problem that some people will lose their jobs, but in my opinion, I’d rather be made redundant in January than right before Christmas. Of course, maybe that’s just me.

* Error very kindly pointed out by Scifi Dad. This is the real reason I'm jumping ship people, because a girl who can't get her dates right would definitely be the first up for the sack.

The Market's in Town.....Well, Nearly

I’m getting really excited now. The Belfast Continental Market has been confirmed for 20 November to 19 December 2008.

I love me a day of full on eating.

Paella, bratwurst, salami and cabanos, garlic cream mushrooms, hog roast and wild boar, venison and ostrich burgers.

Not to mention the sweets, pastries and desserts.

Bring it on.

I always try to make at least one trip to the Market before Christmas, although I go alone and try to stick to a budget.

This year however, I think Toots is old enough to go. She enjoys mildly spicy food and I think she’ll enjoy herself. Although I might have to do a bit of explaining when she sees the hog roast. She understands pig = pork and cow = beef but I’ve certainly never cooked anything at home with its head still attached so it may take her unawares.

Still, we can actually all go to the Market this year and enjoy ourselves without having to be just as conscious of the pennies.

I will officially be coming out of work to stay at home with Toots and my last working day will be 31 December 2008. I’ve managed to cram in the rest of my paid leave before this so I’ll work until the 23 December and have just over a week off work before returning for one last nice quite last day, without any headaches or hassles.

The husband will stay at home with Toots on 31 December while I go to work. This means that because her day care fees are payable in advance I will be able to give notice to her crèche on Friday 21 November 2008 advising them that her last day in nursery will be 23 December, meaning that at the end of November I will only have to pay for three weeks care instead of four saving me £170.00.

Basically, found money.

I don’t have a credit card or loan to pay the extra money to and although I could make an extra payment to my mortgage company, I just don’t feel like it.

Don’t you judge me!

Besides, because I won’t have any day care to pay at the end of December, I’ll have my last pay cheque, plus Christmas bonus (contracted, can’t by gypped out of it), plus untaken holiday leave should leave me with around £2,500 total. I’ll use this to bolster the bank account for any emergencies that might come up, but that £170 in November is mine, all mine.

And I’m going to use it to treat my family, because it’s been one hell of a long year and they deserve it.

Just 30 days now until I get me some churros and hot chocolate…

Or stuffed crepes……..

Or maybe some Dutch waffles…….

WFMW - Toys up the Nose

Because if it looks like it's small enough to fit up you child's nose, they will probably try to fit it up their nose.

And don't think because it went in easily, it'll come out easily. Oooh no, it'll just works it's way in even deeper.

Toots decided on Monday night to find out if she could in fact fit a small rubber knitting needle topper in the shape of a sheep in her right nostril. Well it looked tiny outside of a human body, but let me tell you that kid looked freaky with one huge nostril.

It's the first time this has happened and I have to admit when they taught us what to do in baby first aid I laughed. Not at the thought that my child would ever be silly enough to stuff something up her nose, but the fact that I could keep my head on straight long enough to deal with.

Still I did, very chuffed with myself too.

Just cover the clear nostril with your thumb, cover their mouth with yours and blow hard.

Next thing you know you're getting hit in the face with a booger covered small rubber sheep.

Hopefully this will come in handy for someone, especially if you live somewhere where you have to pay for all those little visits to the doctor.

For more WFMW ideas head over to Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer.

Because secretaries are rarely given 'garden leave'

It’s always been the same for me.

Whether I move house, move away from an area, grow apart from someone or, in this case, leave work, I always find myself focusing on the negative.

And let me tell you at the minute, work gets a huge thumbs down. Everything is getting on my nerves and at times it feels like some people are purposely going out of their way to wind me up.

The worst thing about this scenario is that my supervisor has talked me into keeping schtum about the fact that I’m leaving. She doesn’t want anyone giving me a hard time about it or trying to come up with (completely unhelpful) solutions to my situation. And they would, I know they would. I would do the same thing so I can understand why she wants me to keep it to myself.

So on 1 December 2008, I’ll hand in my notice and my last day will be 31 December 2008. I had originally booked this day off as part of my leave but decided last week to work it and allow one of the other girls have the day off instead (because I’m nice like that).

But still now I’m stuck in the position of trying to keep up appearances, smile brightly at all the things and people annoying me. It isn’t their fault. Obviously, I’m just annoyed at the fact that now I’ve decided to stay at home with Toots, it’s the only thing in the world that I want to do. I can’t wait but I have to stay here…for two more months, when I’d rather be at home.

So I’m annoyed.

Everything’s annoying me.

Now all I have to do is keep calm and try not to yell “screw you I’m leaving anyway” after a bad day. Childish? Yes. Enjoyable? Absolutely.

Does anybody have a good mantra to stop me from going off on one?

T minus 10

Its ten weeks to Christmas. Why did nobody you tell me? The Christmas Plan went a bit skew whiff.

It’s looking like this will be my last Christmas as a working mum. Woohoo, bring it on. But this does mean that I’m going to have to start being really organised for Christmas. And I mean really, properly, grown up style organised. Not just sitting down at some point in September and making a handful of lists which I either never refer back to or I manage to convince myself that I’ve all the time in the world and still do nothing about the lists.

I’ve been a little better this year because I decided very early on that I would make all the presents I will be giving this year. I normally make some, but over the last few years I’ve noticed that the handmade gifts go down a whole lot better than the shop bought ones, so handmade for all.

I actually checked one of my lists a few nights ago and realised that I still have to knit, one glove, six hats, a hooded scarf, two washcloths and I need to finish a baby blanket all before Christmas (Eek). So I’ve started to knit in the car on the way to and from work. Hopefully this should fix that problem.

This still leaves the issue of baked goods for Christmas presents.

I had thought of giving gifts in a jar to some of my aunts with younger children, but changed my mind because I could well imagine Toots opening a jar containing brownie mix on Christmas morning and immediately wanting to make them even though every oven and burner in my house is filled to capacity and then crying her little heart out and ruining Christmas. Alright, that’s probably a worst case scenario, but still it could happen.

So I’ll be making all the gifts up in full since I have a couple of days off work right before Christmas.

I checked my freezer stash of things I’ve been putting aside for Christmas. Apparently, I either dreamt that I’d put away more things, or I’ve been dipping into the stash without realising it. I had 3lbs of frozen butter and slightly less than 1lb of frozen cream cheese (which actually still works quite well when you beat the living daylights out of it for frosting).

I did my monthly shop at the weekend and Asda had Dromona butter on rollback to £1 for a 1lb block. So I bought eight. Don’t worry, they’ll get used.
I also have around two dozen eggs frozen from an offer at the beginning of the month. For some reason they seem to freeze and defrost a lot better if they’re separated into whites and yolks and then frozen in twos.

But still, normally by now, I’d have already planned what I’m cooking on Christmas day and I haven’t. This means that normally I have my shopping list made and I can start to buy freezable things when I see them on offer, but I haven’t.

Normally, I’ve at least started to buy extra chocolate and peanut butter and pecans for all the cookies which I will make and freeze ahead of time so that I just have to bake when people are coming. But that isn’t done either.

So basically, if I’m completely honest, my plan just didn’t work this year. I didn’t stick to it, I thought I had more time than I actually did and I got sidetracked again and again.

What I need is some help. Do you have any great simple recipes which don’t need a 1001 ingredients, or a way to better organise yourself (bearing in mind that I haven’t been able to get my head round the home management folder yet, so I’m not that bright). What about a pattern for a one hour beanie hat, do you have that, can you point me in the right direction.

I’d appreciate it. A lot. Thanks.
Not technically a true WFMW, although the egg thing kid of qualifies as a tip. For some more ideas from properly grown up organised people head over to Rocks in my Dryer.

Dislocation, Doctors and a Helluva Runny Nose

I have had a day.

A helluva day.

And it all started out so well too.

Toot's spent the night at Nana's after her return from holiday. I had a lovely long lie in. OK, it was only until 8.00am, but I'll take what I can get.

I spent a very pleasant (free) hour on the phone with my mum chittering about my impending SAHM membership.

Then of course the not so pleasant things like cleaning and ironing and what not. All the things which have really fallen by the wayside the last week or so.

11.00am and mum's on the phone.

Toot's was playing with my brother and he was holding her hands and spinning her around. When he put her back on the floor again, she carried right on spinning and twisted her elbow and immediately the entire house exploded due to the incredibly loud screaming coming from the very small child now crying her eyes, clutching her arm in the middle of the room.

Mum put her in the car, came straight to my house and we all headed off for a day in the A&E room, our very first (and I wouldn't bet last) day in the A&E room. Of course, I had an entire bag packed full of toys and drinks and sweets and chocolate. All the really lovely stuff you feed your kids in vast quantities when thy aren't well, or you're feeling guilty about something. I figured we would probably be there for the better part of the day, what with it being a Sunday and all.

I checked her in at the reception and turned to look at mum, carrying toots. Her bum had barely grazed the seat when the triage nurse called us into her office. She cooed over her lovely hair and her pretty smile and gave her some ibuprofen for the obvious pain she was in and then straight away went to get the consultant to have a look and provide a referral. As far as I'm aware the normal course of action is triage, three hour wait, consultant, but hey I'm not complaining.

The consultant took a look, scribbled on a sheet of paper and sent us straight over to the x-ray department, where again my little queue jumper daughter was taken first.

It was awful. The single worst experience in my life. She screamed the place down. She told me it was sore. She told me she didn't like me anymore, that she wanted her nana instead. My heart literally broke in two watching this little quivering, red in the face, pile of curly hair. By this time her entire face was completely covered in tears and boogers and she was FURIOUS that the one thing I hadn't thought to bring was a tissue. Not that she would have let me near her with it anyway.

Four x-rays later and we were handed another scribbled on sheet of paper and sent back to the triage nurse who ushered us into the waiting consultant's office, again ahead of a line of people who were now starting to get a slightly murderous look in their eye.

The consultant explained that her arm wasn't in fact broken as feared and that she merely had a pulled elbow. Very common apparently. And that he'd just pop it back in again.

Quick look around, nope, no sign of anything to knock the kid out with. Considering I'd just endured hell in the x-ray department just trying to get her to move her arm away from her body, I could tell this was not going to go well.

The doctor started to explain all the ins and outs, only half of which I heard. He said that most of the time the elbow pops back in again and in ten minutes it'll be like nothing had ever happened and she'd be right as rain. But. Very occasionally the arm doesn't go back in, in which case toots would have to wear a cast for a week and return five days later for another go.

Have I mentioned I've had a run of bad luck lately.

The consultant wheeled his little stool over, I covered her eyes. My mum burst into tears. Of course, I was already crying like a recently dumped 12 year. The consultant grabbed her arm, she screamed like a banshee, he let go and said "well that should do it".

I swear I've heard plumbers say the exact same thing and they were wrong. I was dubious. To say the least.

We were sent back to the waiting room, both me and my mum in desperate need of an extreme makeover and toots strangely relaxed looking.

We sat down and she starting pointing and shouting about all the really cool vending machines in the waiting room.

Still it didn't register with us two dimwits that this meant her arm was fine. We sat on.

She was waving at people and playing with a dolly I had brought from home.

Still the penny didn't drop.

Fifteen minutes later the consultant reappears and pronounces her to perfectly fine now, we can go home.

A full ten minutes later, having watched her like a hawk, convinced her elbow was just going to fall back out again we went home.

So she's fine, in bed sleeping in fact. She hasn't mentioned it all day either.

It turns out all in told we were only a the hospital for a little under two hours.

So why did it feel like a lifetime?

And why am I still knackered?

WFMW - Vinegar

I recently paid a visit to Makro and managed to pick up 5ltr jugs of white vinegar for £2.00.

Unfortunately I went a bit over the top and bought 4 jugs of the stuff and I seem to have spent the last couple of weeks moving a jug from one end of the kitchen to the other and the husband trips over the other 3 every time he sets foot in the garage.

When I bought the stuff I was convinced there were hundreds of different things I could use vinegar for but now when I lift the jug and I'm faced with making cleaning solution and what not, my mind goes completely blank and I end up setting it back down again without actually using it.

So I'll add some of the uses I have for white vinegar here, while the brain is functioning and hopefully these ideas might be useful to someone else (and maybe they'll motivate me to make some).

And if you know anything else I can use this stuff for, please let me know in the comments. My husband's shins thank you.

1/4 cup added to a load of laundry will keep whites whiter, brighten colours and soften the load without adding any conditioner.

A little added to rinse water stops glassware from spotting.

Use it to clean smears from eye glasses.

Use it to wipe down shower walls and doors to remove soap scum.

Use it to remove old wood glue (hey, I did learn something in CDT).

Vinegar dissolves chewing gum.

Rub wooden chopping boards with baking soda and then spray with undiluted vinegar, leave for a couple of minutes and rinse with warm water to disinfect the board.

Soak a small cloth in a solution of 1/2 liquid soap, cup vinegar and 2 cups of water, wring out the cloth and keep in an airtight container to remove fingerprints and sticky marks from windows without having to do a full clean and without leaving streaks.

I use 1 tsp liquid soap, 1/2 cup white vinegar and 3 cups of water in a spray bottle for everyday cleaning in the kitchen and bathroom.

For more great WFMW posts head back to Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer.

Run it up the flagppole, see if it flies

First of all I just want to say a big thank you to Janmary, Steph at Problem Solvin Mom, and Annie Jones for their comments, kind words and hugs on this post.

One thing that has really surprised me since starting this blog (of sorts) is how much it actually matters and helps that someone, either close to home or on the other side of the world will take the time out of their day, and lets be honest, they're pretty busy days, to stop by to tell you "D'ya know, it'll be alright. You'll figure something out".

I had begun to think I was getting myself in a flap over nothing, obviously I'm the only woman struggling to keep her daughter in good, registered daycare instead of leaving her with just anyone, but it seems none of the other moms dropping their kids off in the morning have batted so much as an eyelid.

I don't imagine I'm the only one in financial diffs as the minute. I was starting to think that asking for an extra £50 a week was nothing, I'm just getting my knickers in a twist. But now people agree with me (not just my mommy, that's her job), it is a large increase and I do have something to worry about and a lot of things to think about.

Perhaps all those other moms are secretly having a fit and I just need to practice my "brace face".

I've wracked my brains all weekend and I've eaten a hell of a lot of chocolate.

Incidentally, can anyone explain to my why when I eat a 57g bar of Galaxy I gain 3lbs. Mystery?

Anyway, brains well and truly wracked and I think I've come up with a solution.

When I spoke to my Office Manager on Friday about this (completely in confidence, she's absolutely lovely, trust I've worked for some completely hateful people over the years), she asked if there was any possibility of me working from home.

Just like that, almost like "it's completely up to you, whatever suits sweetie".

Well, after I picked my jaw up off the floor, I quickly said that I didn't think I could. A lot of my work requires me to be in the office at my desk. Most of it is prep work for court dates, preparing court documents, that kind of thing. Well it turns out I think I may have answered a little too quickly.

You see a lot of that stuff is quite, well, it's boring, so I imagined that I was spending more time on it than I actually was, in truth these things probably amount to around a third of my day. I spent the weekend making lists of absolutely everything I do and *eureka and happy days* at least half of it on an average week I could quite easily do at home.

I work in a very up to date office. All dictations and instructions are digital and most correspondence and documentation leaves the office in email format, so I can actually work online anywhere as though I'm sitting at my own desk.

So now the plan is to work at home two days a week, a Monday and a Wednesday, that way my fee earner doesn't have to do without my presence for more than a day. I'll stay at home on Monday because the woman who works part time is in on a Monday so there'll be a fuller quota of people in the building and a Wednesday because most of the stuff I do that I need to be in the office for is in preparation for the following week so it makes more sense to be there for a block of two days at the end of the week.

This means that I can reduce Toot's hours in daycare to three full days, thereby reducing the cost from £170.00 per week to £105.00

Now all I have to do is sell it to the boss. Hah, small pastry items, easy peasy.

Or does this just sound like a brilliant idea in my own head, because I' know......still freaking out.

Let me know, please, is it actually possible to work at home with small children around?

I've tried the timer trick when I'm busy around the house, of setting a timer for 20 minutes and once the buzzer goes, she gets 20 minutes to talk non-stop and so on and so forth, she kind of gets the idea, but it's a definite learning curve.

Husband for sale, one good owner, full service history included

Do you remember the good old days, like Wednesday?

Wednesday was a lovely day.

Wednesday, I knew where I was going and what I was doing. I had a routine, sure it wasn't a great routine, but it worked for me.

Get up, get dressed, dress kid, drop her at nursery, go to work, come home from work, pick her up from nursery, go home, cook, clean, chill, sleep, wash rinse and repeat.

However, yesterday was a little different, it went, the usual, the usual, the usual, come home from work, pick up the child from nursery, get mugged, go home, freak out........etc.

Now if you ever think about getting mugged, you imagine some shifty looking bloke, probably lurking in dark corners just waiting for you.

It shouldn't come in the form of a relatively innocuous looking sheet of paper containing the emblem of your daughter's nursery and the words........."continually increasing overheads"............."necessary price increase"............."from £120.00 per week to £170.00 per week"........WTF?

Can you wait whilst I pluck £50 notes from thin air, this might take a while, pull up a chair.

Financially we're stretched to our limit as it is and I just can't think of any possible way to afford anywhere between £200 and £250 extra a month. I've been over a thousand different possibilities in my head between last night and this morning and I keep coming back to a single realisation.

I'll have to come out of work.

But can I afford to come out of work?

Can I actually manage to do a good job of looking after my daughter full time, or will I make a complete pigs ear of it?

I just feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. It's blatantly obvious I can't afford the new fees, but at the same time can we actually get by without the extra £300 a month I'm left with after the current fees are paid?

I could try to get a part time job in the evening or at night, but they're so few and far between at the minute and I see little enough of the kid as it is. Do I really want her thinking of mommy as the voice that tells her goodnight over the phone?

I could sell or rent the hubby. He's very good for garden work.

It would be so easy to just stick my head in the sand and hope everything will just work itself out. Maybe the bank manager won't mind my account dropping into the red by £250 every month.

I wish it was Wednesday again.

WFMW - Dustpan and Brush

This week's Works for Me Wednesday is a themed edition on Kitchen Management Tips (excuse me while I actually laugh out loud).

Now I don't have too many kitchen management tips. Usually chaos reigns supreme in my kitchen and somehow things just manage to happen, but one thing that definitely does work for me is a small dustpan and brush.

When we first bought the house, the kitchen consisted of a sink (without a base unit underneath) and the taps had been tied to a hook which had been hammered into the wall to stop the entire sink from falling forward onto the floor (lovely, no?) and a monster of an old fashioned wall unit which had been attached to the wall with hilty nails and both myself and Himself could happily swing from it without any fear of it coming off the wall (great fun to be had).

So when the time came to choose and install our new kitchen I went for the extra wide worktop as this allowed me to keep all my junk equipment out on the counter and still have the full width of a regular counter.

Great idea in theory, but I'm a really messy cook and manage to get crumbs and flour and...well, everything all over the counter.

Sweeping all the debris off the counter with a cloth into the palm of my waiting hand (in true mommy fashion) never worked. I wound up with crumbs and flour all over my clothes from leaning across the counter and most of the stuff I wiped off wound up on the floor, so then I had to brush the floor as well.

So enter the ickle dustpan and brush, which hangs there at the end of the counter, minding it's own business until it's called into action. I use it to sweep down my counter tops and also to sweep my larder shelves before giving them a quick once over with a sponge every now and then and it works great.

For more great kitchen management tips head back to Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer.

And to hell with work, I'll be spending the rest of the day there myself to see if I can't put an end to the madness that is my house kitchen.

And these kids are supposed to be educated?

This leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. In fact, I'm absolutely disgusted by it.

These kids are supposed to be educated. The kind of kids who get to look down on the likes of me because as soon as I had the opportunity to leave school, get a job and help my mum support us, I did. Imagine my cheek.

Some of these kids are eventually going to leave university with the qualifications to put them in positions that matter, positions where they'll be relied upon to use their tiny, backwards little minds to make decisions.

And apparently some of them think it's perfectly acceptable to become rapists and beat women, but obviously only if "she was asking for it".

Personally, I think they should be kicked out of the school. If they already think like the dregs of society then they should never be in a position to become anything more than that.

What galls me is that some idiot thinks that the best way to tackle this problem is a poster leaflet and drinks mat campaign.

Yeah, cause the absolute best time to tell a guy not to go home and beat his girlfriend or that the girl he's gripping by the arm and trying to pull out of the bar, actually means "NO", is when he's shit faced on cheap booze in the Student's Union. Good luck with that one, sure let me know how it goes.

Dinosaurs and My Kid Rocks

A typical morning. I'm semi-organised, I've the lunches made the clothes laid out but we're still running around like headless chickens trying to get out the door.

As we're just about to walk out, me laden down with bags and about to set the alarm, Toots asks if she can take her own breakfast to nursery. I can see the look in her eye which clearly states "I will pitch a hissy if I don't get my way" and figuring it's only a bag of cereal I ask her to go and pick something so we can get going. I drop all the bags, run into the kitchen, grab and baggy and drop her selection into said bag, before lifting all the bags again, child under arm and out the door.

In the car on the way to nursery I can see her fiddling with the bag in the back of the car and at that stage I realise it's a bag of mini shredded wheat, Honey NUT mini shredded wheat.


There's a boy in her age group in nursery with a nut allergy.


I'm going to get lynched for this as soon as they see what's in the bag.

Once we got inside I thought I'd quietly check to see if he was in nursery today. Maybe he's off and there won't be a problem, just this once. Nope, he's here.


I can see Toots, smiling away, telling her friends she's brought her own breakfast this morning and I'm going to have to take it away from her. So I sit her down on my knee and explain that her cereal has nuts and that it could make her friend very ill.

"Very ill" she asks

"Hospital ill" I say.

"OK, well I don't like nuts if they're going to make friend sick, you take them and tell Daddy he has to have them for breakfast".

Such an understanding child for all the age of her, don't you think. No hissy fit, no crying, not even a lip tremble. I was so proud of her.

So Himself's off to work today with mini Honey Nut Shredded Wheat for his breakfast. In a Baco Rainbow dinosaur bag.

Cause dinosaurs ROCK too.

Sparkes and Midnight Zoo Heist

Toot’s isn’t a girly girl. She loves to climb, play in the dirt and she’ll happily pick up any bug/spider/slug/worm that happens to be unlucky enough to cross her path.

It’ll be Halloween on 31 October and I normally like to make toot’s costume for her Halloween party in day care and the small party we have at home for the little uns.

We were in the garden, pulling weeds and getting rid of all the spent vegetable plants, properly mucked up t the eyeballs and I decided to bring up the subject of dressing up to get some ideas (last year she was an octopus).

Me: So Kiddo, Halloween next month?

Toots: Yep.

Me: Any idea what you fancy dressing up as?

Toots: Yep (???)

Me: Well……..?

Toots: I want to be a princess (I beg your pardon), a green princess (a bit more like her), with a crown (holds hand about eight inches above her head) not a hat, with a wand and wings. Big wings not those tiny ones. And …… can it be sparkly.
Me: (Getting back up off the ground after being knocked over with a feather). You want to be a princess.

Toots: A green princess with a crown and a wand and…..

Me: Aha, a princess. (Quick someone call the police somebody’s stolen my daughter and replaced her with a girl).

Toots: Or a Power Ranger, a Jungle Fury Power Ranger and a LION. Can I have a lion, mommy?

Me: We’ll see darling.

Thank frick for that, because I hadn’t a notion how to make a green sparkly princess costume with a crown, not a hat and a wand and wings

I think her costume may have to be a surprise from now on.

Coca Cola - because I burn food

It's an average day.

You're in the kitchen cooking, kids on around your feet, your husband can't find a jacket, cause the wardrobe would be far too sensible a place to look and you're not paying attention.

Suddenly you smell burning and realise in the middle of everything your pan of porridge/rice/stew has burnt solid to the bottom of the pot. You scrape and scrape but it's burnt and black and smells revolting.

Now you could fill the sink, whip out the cleaner and scourer and start scrubbing, but you'll probably wind up giving up half an hour later with sore, wrinkled hands and a pan that looks as bad coming out of the water as it did going in. It's beyond rescue.

You could also just chuck the pan out and buy a new one or make do without, cause you have more.

A far easier and cheaper way to clean it, is to pour in enough Coke to cover the burnt parts and simmer over a low heat for about 15 minutes and just watch all the black yuck float off the bottom of the pan. You may have to rinse and repeat once or twice but it's still a hell of a lot easier than trying to clean it the other way.

This is what works for me and for more WFMW ideas visit Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer.

Sweet Chilli and Pepper Salsa

This recipe has been taken from The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver. It's one of my favourites and it just reminds me of Summer, even on those cold drizzly wet days.

2 roasted red peppers (from a jar)

1/2 red onion
4 large red chillis
1/2 clove garlic
8 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
a bunch of parsley
a bunch of basil
salt and pepper.

The recipe calls for all these ingredients to be finely chopped, mixed together, seasoned and left for hour before serving. Usually I throw all the ingredients except the peppers in a blender and pulse until finely chopped and then add the peppers and give it oe more quick pulse. I've eaten it straight away and it's lovely although it is far better if it gets an hour to rest before serving.

Serve with chips, thinly sliced bread, celery (if you're that way inclined) or anything you fancy.

And for more great game day recipes visit Jenn over at Frugal Upstate.

Redundancy Situation

Something appears to be wrong.

My purse doesn't appear to be functioning correctly.

Is it not my purse's sole function in life to contain money?

There is no money in my purse.

My purse has failed at it's one job in life.

Stupid purse.

Duck and Cover - Toddler Explosion

Not a happy bunny at the thought of leaving the park, even with the prospect of ice cream.

Still she laughed when she saw the video.

Not my 100th post

This is not my 100th post but I’m going to shamelessly pilfer the idea from almost every blog I’ve read and give you 100 facts about me…whether you want them or not.

1. I’ve been bitten by a dog twice, but still love them.

2. I’ve been bitten by a cat once and now I stay well clear.

3. I once accidentally ran through a plate glass door.

4. I skipped the first two months of my second to last year of school.

5. I got caught and my mum gave me the look, which as a mother I would love to have mastered by now, but haven’t.

6. I once ran away from home. I lasted two weeks but called my mum everyday.

7. I fell into a skip (big dumpster with a low side for wheelbarrow access) when I was 14 because I was too busy looking at a boy.

8. I am an occasional smoker and by that I mean I occasionally smoke for four years and quit for two.

9. I wish I hadn’t mentioned that last one because it’s a filthy disgusting habit and I’m weak for not being able to break it.

10. I have a full on girly crush on Mark Harmon.

11. I secretly have a thing for a lot of older men with grey hair, especially if they seem like they’re smarter than me. Weird, I know.

12. I don’t think Sean Connery is attractive.

13. I laugh hysterically in my sleep. It has been recorded on a number of occasions.

14. I play on toots little swing even though I really don’t fit on it.

15. I hate the beach, but love the sea.

16. I’ve passed every mock exam I’ve ever taken with flying colours, but barely made it through the ones that count by the skin of my teeth.

17. I went to a grammar school.

18. I have been hired for jobs based on the fact that I went to a grammar school even though I was ridiculously under qualified.

19. When I first typed grammar I spelt it with an “e”.

20. I can’t drive. I lived five minutes from anywhere I wanted to be growing up and I just never got round to learning.

21. I don’t regret that I can’t drive, I like to walk and I’m used to it. I do know a lot of people who regret (thinking) that they need to drive.

22. I genuinely believe that I could kill a man if he harmed my daughter.

23. I sat by her bed every night for three weeks after she came home from the hospital and slept curled around her during he day.

24. I can’t have any more children.

25. I can’t remember anything for three days after having her and have a lot of photos I have no recollection of.

26. I requested copies of my maternity notes and records through the law firm I worked at when I went back to work but didn’t read them for another eight months.

27. I had nightmares for a month after I read them and cursed my curiosity.

28. I have two tattoos, one tribal symbol on my stomach, which is now very misshapen and a pink flying elephant at the base of my neck. The first was a gift from my husband and the second was a bored Sunday trying to prove to a friend that getting a tattoo doesn’t actually hurt.

29. I prefer the winter. In fact I absolutely love winter.

30. I love scarves and hot chocolate.

31. I have been mistaken for a French woman on more than one occasion because of the scarves and hot chocolate.

32. I am a dyed in the wool 80s rock chick even though I came out of the 80s at age 10.

33. I can’t abide people who say they don’t like something when they have never tried it.

34. I’m that annoying person who will torture you until you try the thing you claim to dislike.

35. I will eat absolutely anything and my friends take advantage of this at every opportunity.

36. I think Carrie Bradshaw is a prude and has no business writing a sex column.

37. I could run my washing machine constantly for a week and still the laundry wouldn’t be finished

38. I hate “perfect”. I am perfectly content with “finished”.

39. I buy lots of moisturiser but always forget to use it.

40. I don’t really like flowers, I prefer greenery.

41. Green is my favourite colour, I used to think it was blue but I was wrong. It has always been green.

42. I call teenage girls who wear nothing but baby pink and white “princess marshmallow”.

43. I think Madonna should seriously consider retirement before she hurts herself.

44. My brother and I hated each other until I moved out and now we’re the best of friends.

45. I find it very hard to believe that I am no longer sixteen.

46. My house is usually chaotic. I think it would be great to have someone come in and do the cleaning but in reality I would probably clean before they got here in case they thought bad things about me.

47. I take hundreds of photos and never print them because I am useless with a camera.

48. I only learnt to knit because I was annoyed nobody knitted anything for toots when she was born.

49. Knitting is the easiest thing in the world; however crochet is the required entrance exam for Mensa.

50. I can’t crochet.

51. This REALLY annoys me.

52. I speed read. I have read every book I own at least three times and I can guarantee it will still sound new the next time I read it.

53. I’m looking out of my living room window wondering when it got dark and if I can get away with not feeding my husband tonight.

54. If I had started a swear box when I was a teenager I could retire by now.

55. I always think I’m a decent stomach flu away from my ideal weight.

56. I don’t get air guitar. If you can’t, don’t. Would you jump out of a plane pretending you had a parachute? No, thought not.

57. Playing with a plastic guitar is not air guitar no matter what Rock Heroes would lead you to believe.

58. People in this country hate white van drivers. I miss my husband’s big white van.

59. Himself and I got married for a free upgrade on a holiday and decided we quite liked the idea of being married about two days before the wedding.

60. My wedding cost £34.00.

61. Had I booked it a month earlier it would have cost £30.

62. I actually do call toots “toots”. It isn’t just a bloggy thing.

63. I never think to make toast for myself, but have to have it if someone else does.

64. I love to light the fire and curl up in front of it, but only do it at Christmas in case the novelty wears off.

65. I love handbags and shoes; they’re a fat girl’s best friends.

66. I am fat.

67. I’m secular humanist. If you had asked me in my teens I would have said I was atheist but I’m much happier now I’m in charge of what I do.

68. I’m an early bird and a night owl.

69. Until I had toots I rarely had more than four hours sleep a night, now six is plenty.

70. I think I should have been born in Spain and plan to retire there. The idea of a siesta appeals to me.

71. I would love to visit Honk Kong but can’t imagine doing it with a child in tow.

72. I quite fancy the idea of writing a cookery book.

73. I am convinced that one day I will win the lottery, hopefully this will be the day I actually spend £1 and do the lottery.

74. I went on honeymoon to Egypt and would go back tomorrow. I think I could spend ten years there and not see everything I want to see.

75. When I went to Las Vegas I thought I could spend a day and visit all the casinos (because I’m an idiot). It took three.

76. I don’t like IPod. Creative is the king of all MP3 players.

77. I won’t eat fish or seafood caught by a trawler.

78. I don’t have any problem with eating cows and chickens since we’re the only ones on the planet that do.

79. Although, I don’t really like meat, if I’m honest. I maybe eat it once a week.

80. I keep a jar of Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) in the fridge and eat I with a spoon straight from the jar.

81. I love Christmas but I’m not bonkers about any of the other holidays.

82. Actually that was a lie. I kind of like Halloween.

83. I would quite like smaller boobs. I think bras fall into three categories; pretty, supportive and the one I where, scaffolding.

84. I don’t wear makeup, but I probably should.

85. I’ve tried the cabbage soup diet….and the colour diet, but I didn’t really understand that one.

86. I spent a lot of my time as a child with my great aunt. She was very old fashioned and a proper lady. Because of this.

87. I never chew gum.

88. I can’t bring myself to cross my legs at the knee, only at the ankle.

89. I can’t let toots out of the house with bare shoulders, even to play in her paddling pool.

90. My great aunt spoiled me rotten and regularly gave me mandarin oranges served on a silver platter. And I’m not kidding.

91. I think cereal is a perfectly acceptable evening meal.

92. I’m very impatient and because of that I’m probably going to post this way before my hundredth post.

93. I might actually post a picture of myself for my hundredth post.

94. I love kid’s movies. My current favourite is “Over the Hedge”.

95. I like Pepsi, not Coke. Full fat, not diet.

96. If I could start every meal with dessert, I would.

97. I hate vacuuming. I was once PMSing and got tangled in the vacuum cable. It kept getting in the way and it made me cry a little. I’ve never gotten over it.

98. My mum’s dog Bruno died just over six months ago and toots still talks about him like he’s in the room. I think this is normal. Kids are supposed to be like that, aren’t they?

99. I’m convinced I can swim even though I haven’t been in a pool in ten years. I might be in for a surprise.

100. Himself and I are the youngest couple on our road. The neighbours loved us until we got married and have barely acknowledged us since.

Scarf Pattern - Adding to the Christmas Stash

I think I'm finally getting on top of these Christmas presents.

We're all agreed as a family this year to only give token gifts to the home as a whole, baked goods, a tin of sweets, that kind of thing, but because I've already finished a few things I'll still give them as presents this year. I've explained that there are already finished and ready to be given and that I don't expect anything in return, so nobody will feel pressured to run out and buy a last minute present.

I picked up this yarn in the January sale last year, it's 70% acrylic and 30% wool, DK weight and it's lovely and soft, perfect for a garment worn next to the skin.

I started the scarf as a plain garter stitch scarf without any real plan of where I would go with it, because of the variegation in the yarn I thought it would be nice enough left plain, but somewhere in the second ball I decided it needed something else.

The pattern is as follows

CO 35 st
k every row until scarf is desired length
begin short row
k 34 st turn leaving 1 stitch on the original needle and k back across 34 st.
k 33 st turn leaving 2 stitches one the original needle and k back across 33 st.
carry on like this knitting one less stitch on each row until the last row.
k 1 st, turn and k 1 stitch.
If you wish to leave the scarf tapering to a point cast off at this stage, otherwise;
(k, p, k) into every stitch on needle.
knit for six more rows and cast off.

I used a pattern from a Nicky Epstien book for the corsage but you can get lovely patterns for these here and here and at Knitting Pattern Central, or feel free to leave the scarf completely unadorned.