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.