Menu Plan 31/8 to 6/9

Whoa, where did September come from? This year is disappearing fast.

Last week went well with Chloe in school two days. Although she arrived home claiming that she was starving. She snacked right up to dinner time on both days and then at dinner time she was ready for a full meal. She said she was cold and didn't want sandwiches or anything like that so I was scrabbling late in the day to get a meal together. I think I'll plan on full meals this week, at least we can use any leftovers for lunch the next day if she isn't just as hungry in the evenings once she gets used to the routine.


I have cooked chicken in the fridge and I'll use it to make sweet and sour chicken for Chloe and Robert, they both love it but I'm not a big fan myself so I'll just use some of the chicken to make sandwiches. I'll steam some rice to go with the sweet and sour.


I'll make a pot of Irish stew on Monday night. Chloe will be back to school today and I'll be out and about for the few things in the morning. This way I'll just have to reheat the pot in the evening when Robert gets home from work. I should check actually because he's had a few days off work recently and its bound to have played havoc with his usual call out routine so I'm not really sure at the minute which night he'll be on call.


Chloe will be at school in the morning and then she'll be at my mum's house in the afternoon. My mum goes away on holiday for two weeks on Friday so this will be her last chance to see Chloe for any length of time. Somebody told Robert about a cowboy supper baked potato, basically just a baked potato stuffed with chopped sausage, baked beans and cheese from what I can gather. Anyway, he wants one so I'll make him one tonight.


Chicken and broccoli bake. This is another really easy meal, I can just pop it all in a casserole dish and through it in the oven an hour before we're ready to eat. I'll just steam some potatoes to go with it.


Baked trout with potatoes and vegetables. My freezer levels are running low, but my brother is happy that he can go fishing again. He lost his old fishing partner (in crime) to a lovely new born baby this year and they haven't been able to go quite as often. Robert wants to give fishing a go, so my brother's going to sort him out with a licence and organise a few trips. Plus it'll be good for Robert, I think everyone needs a hobby of sorts outside the home.


Chloe would normally go my mum's house on a Saturday so I'll do pizza and popcorn tonight and let her watch a movie (her choice) as a treat.


I don't really know what I'll be making yet. I'll be going to the market on Saturday morning and with the weather starting to cool off I fancy a nice big Sunday dinner, so I'll pick up a roast of some description, likely pork or beef.


Not a lot this week really. The pizza bases are already part baked and in the freezer and I have a couple of bags of different cookies in the freezer now so I really only have to stick those in the oven when we need them. I'm not sure if I'll be doing anything from scratch as such this week.

World Domination in 7 Easy Steps

I have discovered Sweden's plan for world domination.

It's so simple and yet incredibly cunning that it simply can't fail.

Step 1. The world buys our delectable Swedish chocolate.

Step 2: The world will buy our impeccably designed and yet incredibly comfortable modular furniture.

Step 3: The world will settled themselves into our impeccably designed and yet incredibly comfortable modular furniture with a cup of coffee.

Step 4: The world can't have coffee with out vast quantities of our delectable Swedish chocolate.

Step 5: The world will eat vast quantities of our delectable chocolate whilst sitting in our impeccably designed and yet incredibly comfortable modular furniture.

Step 6: The world will realise that they have eaten too much of our delectable Swedish chocolate and now their roly poly, lardy pudding bums are stuck fast in our impeccably designed and yet incredibly comfortable modular furniture.

Step 7: Take over the world. Mwhahahahahahaha.

You have been warned!!!

What mummy did...

On Chloe's first day of school Mummy was taken to Ikea and treated by Daddy.

He bought me some gorgeous funny little hippo print cotton...

Another lovely cotton covered with little sketchy type people, bunnies, ducks, frogs all going about their business...

A lovely orange striped heavy weight cotton.

This is my favourite, another heavy weight printed orange cotton canvas ...

And on the way out the door I also treated myself. For the sake of complete honest, I actually bought two bags of Dime Bars and two of the Marabou Dime chocolate bars... and a big box of ginger biscuits..... and a bag of cinnamon rolls.... and two packets of the marabou cups.... yes I'm a heffer.

And because he accidentally broke my last lampshade, he treated me to a new one.

Its embroidered with tons of flowers and bees and butterflies and I love it.

Now I'm off to pick up Chloe from her second day at school.

First Day at School. Piece of Cake!

I'm so pleased because Chloe had a brilliant first day at school.

We even managed to start off in the morning on a high note. Normally, she isn't a big fan of breakfast. She'll pick at her food or just have something tiny like half a slice of toast and some juice, but this morning she sat happily and munched through a bowl of weetabix, some strawberries and a glass of apple juice in about 15 minutes.

We managed to get the uniform on without any problems. She didn't grow six inches over night so everything still fit.

And she looked so cute wearing it. She knows it too.

We walked to the school and I was a little concerned because she was really happy the entire way, but as soon as we reached the top of the steps and the P1 courtyard was in front of us she hesitated, just for a split second but it was there. Usually Chloe is the type of kid to run into any situation with both guns blazing and its a very rare sight to see her unsure of herself. On the few occasions its happened before she has went one of two ways. Either she shrugs it off and runs on anyway, or she falls to pieces, wants a hug and refuses to carry on. Thankfully today was a good day.

After a few minutes one of the women from her old daycare arrived with three kids she recognised as friends and they played together for five minutes or so before her new teacher opened the door to their cloakroom and invited them in.

After that I didn't get a look in.

I managed to squeeze past some of the other mums into the cloakroom to give Chloe her little envelope for the snack scheme just in time to hear her teacher ask her name and for Chloe to reply "I'm the butterfly". I took both of us a second to realise that she'd spotted her hanger with her name and a picture of a blue and purple butterfly above it.

She was only in school today for a bit less that 3 hours and she'll start her full days of 3.5 hours tomorrow. We collected her shortly after noon and she talked a mile a minute the whole way home, even making us stop in the street every now and again while she explained something in spite of the heavy rain.

Best of all she's really excited to be going again tomorrow and that she will be able to go every day. I've heard stories of some kids arriving home from school saying about how brilliant it was, but what do you mean I have to go again tomorrow I thought that was it. So its really good that she understands that it isn't a one off thing.

Oh and I'm to tell you that her teacher gave her a spider sticker which says "Very Good Work" because she was able to write her own name on a painting of the three of us. I'm blue, Dad's yellow and Chloe's green but because those things tend to come home in bundles at the end of term, that's all I know about the painting for the minute.

I hope everyone else planning for the first day of school this year have just as good a day.

The child's off to school, finally time for me. Or is it?

Chloe is in bed fast asleep. Her uniform is labelled, ironed and hanging in her room right above her new shoes and she has planned to the last strawberry what she will have for her breakfast tomorrow morning.

Once she's safely off to school, I will rush home with Robert, grab a quick coffee and a cinnamon bagel before jumping in the car and heading to Ikea, who I am told are having a fabric sale (but lets face it even if they'd doubled the price I'd likely still go just to look).

After eight months of spending 24 hours a day with Chloe I have to admit, I'm ready for a little bit of me time. Don't get me wrong the last eight months have been brilliant, a bit of a steep learning curve to begin with and we've hit a rough patches but I've really enjoyed all of my time at home with her every day. But still those couple of hours a day are going to be really appreciated.

Or perhaps I should say were going to be really appreciated because on Friday I have a meeting about a job.

A job I didn't go looking for, apply for or even want. I just received a "we need you" call out of the blue this morning.

Like I said, I wasn't really looking to go back to work, at least not straight away but it's kind of hard to look a gift horse in the mouth.

My shop on Folksy is going quite well, but it would still be nice to have a bit of guaranteed money in the bank every month, you know?

Plus with so many people out of work and looking at the minute, do I really want to turn down a great offer only to find that I may need it in a couple of months.

It really is a great offer too. I'll only have to work an hour or two a day at whichever times suit me which will obviously be while Chloe is at school. I won't need to work any of the school holidays either, so I don't even have to consider childcare fees. I wouldn't even consider the job if it meant Chloe going back to childcare because neither of us wants that.

Oh and did I mention that the company is a five minute walk from home.

Hmm, still thinking though...

I feel absolutely terrible

I have had a thumping headache all day long. It feels a little bit like the flu, but only from the neck up. I don't have any muscle pains or a fever or anything like that, just the blinding headache and my sinuses are killing me.

But that isn't why I feel awful.

I mentioned a while back that I was trying to encourage Chloe to play by herself a bit more and to try and be a little more independent in her play rather than her developing a need for me to lead the way for her. It's been going brilliantly and she savours the hour or two (even more, sometimes I can't get her to come spend time with me) playing in her room, or in the garden. We painted some big letters and numbers on the walls in her room (we'll be redecorating her room soon so I wasn't bothered about painting on the walls) and she enjoys spending a bit of time copying them onto her blackboard.

Today she was playing happily in her room and I was doing a few bits and pieces downstairs when I heard an almighty crash. I think I managed to get from the kitchen, up the stairs to into her bedroom in about four strides, it was that loud.

I opened her bedroom door to be met with the sight of the chest of drawers in her bedroom toppled forward, and kind of resting on the bottom drawer so it hadn't actually fallen the whole way over. All three drawers were fully out and clothes were all were over the floor. Chloe was pressed against the farthest wall in her room with both hands clamped over the crown of her head and she was in complete hysterics. Do you that really deep almost painful sounding crying a child does when they're really hurt.

I panicked, assuming the worst and that the chest had fallen over and cracked her on the head and that she might be bleeding or worse.

I sat down with her and checked her over, trying to calm her down. After I'd established that she wasn't bleeding or cut in any way and I'd managed to calm her to some extent I checked her head properly and there didn't even appear to be any bumps or signs that the chest had hit her.

I'm assuming that she felt the chest move above her and managed to get far enough out of the way as it fell, that either it didn't hit her but she felt the top drawer come to rest above her head or it grazed her. Either way it obviously scared the wits out of her.

I felt really sick at the time. Does that happen to anyone else, when your child cries like that, you feel really nauseous?

Anyway, that isn't the reason I feel terrible.

Once she'd calmed down a little more I asked her what had happened and she told me that she had opened the three drawers looking for something and the chest just fell over on top of her.

A little bit of background, the chest of drawers in Chloe's room is a solid piece of furniture. When it came time that I knew she needed one for her room, I bought the heaviest most solid one I could find rather than a flatpack version because I knew chances were at some stage she may try to climb it. All the weight in this thing is in the chest itself and not in the drawers and I've had all three of the drawers open many times and there has never been any risk of it falling over, its just too heavy.

I feel absolutely terrible today because the next thing I said to her was "are you sure that's what happened?" and every child knows that is mummy code for "are you lying to me?"

She burst into tears again and remained adamant that she had pulled the drawers out and it just fell over, but still I wasn't entirely convinced. I still thought that she had pulled the drawers out and then tried to climb up them or pulled really hard on them or something to make it over balance.

I finally half heartedly accepted her version of events and set about getting the chest of drawers back up off the floor and all the clothes put away.

I lifted the thing back up again and folded all the clothes back into the right drawers. The drawers were still open as sitting on the floor I folded a little blanket she still has, placed it in the bottom drawer and still in the same position pushed the bottom drawer closed.

And I felt the whole thing move....

But I'm not as fast as Chloe....

And I caught that top drawer square on the head.

Needless to say the damn chest is now fixed to the joist in the wall with two 'L' brackets so it isn't going anywhere again.

So now I feel absolutely terrible, which I completely deserve.

And no amount of painkillers will shift this headache. And I deserve that too!

GO handmade - Issue Two

The new issue of GO handmade is up, its only a week late but sure.

Menu Plan 24/8 to 30/8

I'm going back a normal(ish) menu plan this week. With Chloe starting school on Thursday I was to try and take as many variables out of the week as possible.


Beef casserole with potatoes and vegetables. Bob had to go out on a call on Saturday night to a farm shop (he wasn't actually on call but the guy who was had to do a 2am dash to the hospital with his wife when she went into labour). After he finished fixing the alarm the owner gave him a huge silverside which I cooked yesterday but there's still a load left and I'll use some for the casserole.


I'll make stir fry tonight. I have plenty of vegetables in the fridge (none from the garden unfortunately) and I have noodles.


I'll make a curry for Bob and I. Chloe will be at my mum's house this evening and will have dinner there, although I have my mum warned to be on her best behaviour today. I don't want her making a whole fuss over Chloe and then her arriving home hyper or worse, over tired. So it should just be like any normal Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday

Chloe's firs two days of school. Bob has booked the two days off work to be able to take her to school and collect her again. I won't plan an evening meal as such for these two days. A lot of you mentioned before that she'll likely be fairly tired when she gets home so I'll just plan a light lunch and then sandwiches, wraps or something similar in the evening. I'll also make sure I have plenty of snacky things around the house for her to nibble on in between talking a mile a minute about her day.


Again Chloe will be at my mum's house for dinner today. Bob and I will have a late lunch and then something small when Chloe comes home. Then he wants pizza and a movie once she's safely tucked in bed.


I'll roast a chicken either on Saturday night or on Sunday morning. We haven't been to the beach in a few weeks now and I'm hoping for dry weather at the very least, then we can pack up a big picnic and spend the day at the beach.


We'll make some oat and raisin cookies either today or tomorrow. Honestly I want them more for me than anyone else but they do make good snacks too and I'm also planning to make some cupcakes with Chloe on Wednesday morning and she can take some to my mum's house for a little picnic with her friends. We'll still bake together once she's in school but I would imagine
that there won't be just as much time for things like that once the school year gets into full swing with homework and such.

Absolutely Typical

There's me driving everyone in the house completely nuts, watching them like hawks since I cleaned my carpets.

No you can't have a beer in the living room.

No don't get the blackcurrant, get the apple juice instead.

Don't spill.

Watch where you set that.

Put that glass up out of the way.

Do you really need to set the coffee cup right at the edge of the bloody coffee table.

And then I get up off my bum this morning to go to the kitchen, somehow manage to trip over my own two feet and throw half a cup of builder's brew tea all over the carpet.

I'm just glad Chloe wasn't here, because even she would have seen the irony!

I knew I should have went with wood floors.....

Firsts and Lasts

I don't think it has quite sunk in yet that today is Chloe's last Friday as a preschooler. Which also means that we have a total of six last such&suchadays left before she starts school this coming Thursday.

Once Thursday has come and gone it will be seven years before another big change in her life. Seven looooong years before we her last ever Primary School Friday and then she'll be off to secondary school.

It amazes me just how quickly the milestones slow down and grow fewer and farther between.

I still remember when these little changes flew towards and past me, sometimes like machine gun fire, it was difficult to recover from the last one before being hit by the next.

Like the day I could have taken off full pelt, fists in the air for a lap of honour around the block because she'd finally taken a full 8oz at a feed. The first time she slept right through the night without waking. Her first tooth. The day what I thought was colic disappeared forever and I finally realised that my little girl's wind went down rather than up and I'd just been patting the wrong end for the last two weeks.

Her first night away from home. Her first birthday. Her first dentist appointment and her first hair cut. Her first smile, first giggle and of course, her first tantrum.

She tried her new uniform on this morning again because firstly I wanted to be sure that she hadn't mysteriously grown half a foot overnight (it happens) and secondly because I just wanted to see her in it again. Her face lights up when she wears it and she looks so grown up.

So now we're down to her last six days as a preschooler, but there will be many days to come after that. The world isn't coming to an end, just a small part of her life and each of those days to come will be just as special as the last and we're looking forward to each and every last one of them.


Alright, here's the thing. Yesterday I posted that I have already completed, wrapped and labelled all of my Christmas presents for people outside the house.

I may have given the impression that I've been toiling away and now have a huge box filled with dozens of beautifully handmade gifts and I'm thinking now that I should have elaborated on that a little more.

Last year, as much as I said at the time that I was cutting back and having some common sense by the time the New Year rolled around the total amount of presents I had made, bought and gifted ended up being as much as any other year. And if you had visited my home after Christmas you would have been forgiven for confusing my kitchen with the stock room at Marks and Spencer. There were at least ten tins of biscuits and likely more than that but I've blocked them from memory, countless boxes of sweets and chocolates were stashed everywhere. We tried giving the stuff away but everyone else seemed to be in the same boat. It was completely ridiculous and we were still trying to get through the stuff at Easter, in fact there's still a tub of Marksies mint collection chocolates in there that will need to be thrown out.

I swore to myself after last year that this Christmas we would be much more sensible. I told everyone that I would rather they hung on to their money rather than buying sweets and biscuits to give to us and I've reminded the of that since then. It sounds harsh but something along the lines of "don't buy for me because I'm not buying for you", it really does seem to be the only way to get the message across. Plus money's just going to be a lot tighter for everyone this year and I'd hate the thought of someone feeling obliged to buy me present.

So at this particular moment in time I have my whittled down list. So far I have prepared gifts for my mum which are a bag which I showed you the pattern for earlier in the year (although it wound up being teal and I changed the cable design for something more traditional (read more repetitive and quicker to knit) with two short handles instead of the long strap) and another shopping bag (one of the old fashioned mesh market bags with the round plastic handles).

I've made another beanie hat for my brother. He loves the look of knit hats but likes it when I make them for him because I line the hat with t-shirt cotton so its soft against his wee head and I've also made him a phone cosy for his blackberry (its only new so there's no chance of him upgrading as xmas). My dad is getting a phone cosy in his football team's colours (Man City) and a waterproof drawstring bag to go inside his backpack when he's on the motorbike to keep all his bits and pieces dry.

Beyond that I've made simple messenger bags for two aunts, Ann and Eleanor, who have been very good to me and my mum over the years (she wouldn't have been able to go back to work and probably would have lost our home when my dad left had it not been for them) and lastly I've knitted a gorgeous poncho for Ann's youngest daughter (my cousin and Chloe's best friend). She has beautiful red hair and it can be difficult to find clothes for girls that don't have pink in them somewhere so I've went with a nice safe cream with a green flower corsage pinned to the front. I also made her two hair bobbles and a fabric covered hair band from a tutorial I saw on Craft magazine a while back for the same pink reasons.

And that's really about it for dedicated presents. It isn't much really when you think about it and they're all quite simple and quick to make but they are made with love and made specifically for the person they'll be given to.

So that's it really, four bags each taking no more than two hours each, well five if you count the drawstring one, but that took all of half an hour, a couple of phone cosies which took about an hour all in, ok the poncho took a few hours but the hair accessories were whipped up in a few minutes and a hat which took no time.

I've finished the macrame scarf now for Eleanor, one colour in bright red and I made a second one for the shop and I've started a bracelet (which I'll make a few of) and I'll use the beads I received in a destash swap just placing them along the core strands and using the working strands to secure them.

I have to say though, when I look back over the things I've made and realised that it's taken, what, maybe 15 hours all in, 20 if you count the time thinking about what to make for each person I'm kind of disappointed in myself for not managing to be more organised in previous years. There just hasn't been any good excuse for not having things done (Last year was a mad rush to get finished).

Plus it works out well for me having, ok not everything, but a good lot done. I have my public liability insurance in place now, I'm registered as a small business (you have to within three months or they'll come looking for you, kidding the people at the Inland Revenue are lovely) and I'm just about to do my first tax return and now I'm thinking that maybe I should consider doing one of the larger craft fairs at Christmas. I was thinking about looking into St George's Market which is big in the run up to Christmas. The extra money at that time of the year certainly wouldn't hurt either.

Which means of course that now I have to make stock because that dear friends is one of the many, many things that I don't have organised.

And on top of all that I'll soon be adding another string to my bow, one that I'm really looking forward to but more on that soon enough. It'll be worth the wait, don't worry.

Nerd Alert

I'm paying lip service to the old menu plan this week. The temperature is to reach 29C by Wednesday so this week I will be mostly eating salads. Apart from tonight when we had burgers and onions rings followed by big slices of gingerbread with lemon icing. I'll post the recipe for that later in the week (the cake not the burgers).

Right, that's that out of the way.

I'm feeling very good about myself today because I had a very productive weekend. Do you ever get like that, if you take it easy over the weekend and relax you end up a bit depressed and feeling like you wasted all that time come Monday but if you manage to get a couple of things done and dusted you feel great about yourself? Maybe that's just me.

I checked the weather during the week and on seeing that it was to rain cats and dogs over the weekend I rented a big heavy duty steam cleaner for Saturday to tackle my carpets (happy in the knowledge that Chloe no longer spills).

On Saturday morning the weather was, as predicted, rubbish so the husband popped out and collected the steam cleaner. The plan was to set to work as soon as my mum collected Chloe in the afternoon. It rained all morning and the wind blew a gale and then my mum arrived and the clouds parted and the sun shone and the birdies sang their little hearts out. Murphy's out to kick my ass for getting one over on him (Bring. It. On).

So I spent my Saturday afternoon in the sweltering heat, cleaning carpets and sweating like a mad woman. Do you ever remember that advert years ago for women's antiperspirant "They say women don't sweat, they glow. Well I glow buckets"? Yep, that was me on Saturday. It wasn't a pretty sight, clothes glued to my back, hair plastered to my forehead. Meanwhile, Murphy's wet himself laughing, he's on the floor by this stage tears streaming down his face, fists pounding the floor with the hilarity of it all. Don't worry I clipped him round the back of the head with the cleaner just to remind who's boss round here.

I lost roughly a stone that afternoon, but later found it again at the bottom of a tube of Pringles. Balance restored.

Still I sit here now surround by lovely clean carpets. The windows have been open full all weekend and the smell has all but disappeared. Have you ever cleaned your carpets with an industrial steamer because let me tell you, the smell is atrocious.

They smelt perfectly fine before I started, but if anyone has ever knocked over a pint in your living room and you spent a good ten minutes and countless towels making sure you mopped up every last drop, you may have even got down on your knees with that silly Scrubber carpet cleaner thingy the husband thought would be a good idea let me assure you now, you missed a bit.

Because when that scalding hot steam hits that particular spot on the carpet all of a sudden your home will smell like a brewery.

And before you go running off to buy some Shake n Vac, it won't work. Even doing the wee dance won't help either.

On Sunday (shattered and a bit light headed) I decided to take it easy. Sort through a few things, filing, post, tidy up my crafty bits and make sure everything could be easily found. At the bottom of one of my tuff crates I came across a few things I'd started with xmas in mind but hadn't got round to finishing. A couple of knitted things and it was really only the making up that needed doing so I settled myself down to those and once they were finished I was able to wrap and label them using one of Lupin's wrapping paper tutes:)

I hauled out the huge tuff crate which is stashed on top of my wardrobe in the bedroom and went through it, checking the gifts off the list I keep inside and do you know what. Apart from Chloe and the husband (Bob, might as well get that one out of the way while I'm at it) I'm all done.

Sweet or what? I'll admit now that I'm in the middle of a macrame scarflette for my aunt which wasn't on the original list but which she's asked for and I'm planning a couple of pieces of macrame jewellery for stocking fillers as such but apart from that all of my presents for people outside the house are finished. Not only finished but they wrapped and labeled and its only the middle of August.

Now I'll just get myself comfy here against this rather tall concrete wall, pop the blindfold on, light a cigarette, burn tip of nose, lift blindfold slightly, light cigarette and wait for the firing squad.




You done!


Cause so am I. Neener, neener, neener.

How to get Murphy on your side

(without him even knowing it)

A little more than five years ago now I was a bit miffed. Well quite a lot miffed actually.

The husband and I had been trying (unsuccessfully) to get pregnant for just over a year.

Just over a year in earth time, but not GP time. You see had I been an average woman, in that particular calender year I would have tried and failed to get pregnant 13 times. But I'm not an average woman, quite a bit below (or above, never really figured that one out) average so in that particular calender year I tried and failed to get pregnant a mere 10 times.

Silly me.

Now, not being particularly well known for my patience, I hatched a cunning plan to make Murphy's Law work for me.

I sat myself down and thought about it. What are the things a pregnant woman shouldn't do?

Well they're not supposed to fly or at least not before 12 weeks anyway. Ok, so I'll book a holiday, but where to?

Well, pregnant women aren't supposed to drink alcohol either or not copious amounts of it anyway.

They shouldn't really carry heavy things either, so that would be mammoth shopping sprees out too.

They should eat a healthy and balance diet, so nine months worth of burgers smothered in blue cheese would be off the menu.

A four hour horse ride into, oh I don't know say the bottom of the Grand Canyon would probably not be the best idea in the world for a pregnant woman.


Vegas then!

I settled myself down in front of the laptop, bank card at the ready and booked a one week trip to Vegas which was due to fly out in exactly 12 weeks. I wrote down the addresses for completely inappropriate places like Margaritaville and advance booked helicopter flights over the strip.

Twelve weeks later I stepped on a ten hour flight, ten weeks pregnant.

Murphy me old son, you done yourself proud!!!

Sure, it was a bit of a gamble. I could have blown £1100 on a holiday and had nothing to show for it but a few holiday snaps.....


I think it was £1100 well spent, don't you?

Tallships Belfast 2009 - Possibly Part 1

Yes, you heard me right, possibly part one. You see there were two cameras there on Thursday and I've yet to get my hands on the other one. The other one being the one which contains all of the photos of Toots.

Actually, do you know what, I can't be bothered with all that anymore. She hasn't let me call her Toots in months and its getting difficult to remember to call her that here. The other camera contains all the photos of Chloe. As far as she's concerned she's a big girl now and the baby names have got to go. So there you go.

Anyway, where was I....

Yes, well, we arrived in Belfast at 8.40am (much too early) so we had a lovely breakfast (rice krispie squares, brownies and coffee) at Cafe Italia in Hill Street. Obviously Chloe had milk and not coffee, but she really enjoyed the coffee shop because it meant she was able to wave at the bin men. It's become a little ritual for her to stand at the window and wave and smile at the bin men on a Thursday morning and they always smile and wave back. A lovelier bunch of blokes you're unlikely to meet.

After breakfast we walked slowly over to the Odyssey and were lucky enough to be one of the few people already there, meaning that I was able to get nice clean photos of the ships before the crowds started to arrive. Because honestly once the crowds did start to pile in, as I've mentioned before I'm a wee shortarse so the chances of a good photo later in the day went complete out the window.

Now I say nice clean shots with nobody getting in the way, but when I went back and checked the photos later I realised one managed to sneak in. The funny thing is I didn't even notice this guy when I took the photo! I still like it though, one of my favourites if I'm honest.

Chloe's favourite ship was the Bounty. Obviously! Honestly, that child's seen the Spongebob Movie too many times. As far as she was concerned The Bounty just looked like a pirate ship and she was perfectly happy with that. Trust me, there was little point in trying to explain otherwise to her. Pirate Ship, full stop.

Mine was the Mircea. I mean just look at it. It's such a beautiful boat to see. Unfortunately, Chloe was exhausted (as was I) before we managed to make it far enough past the Port of Belfast to see if the Mircea was open to visitors and when we arrived on the dock side we couldn't even see the Bounty because of the crowds around it. Maybe if I'd persevered and given it a bit of the "Mummy Shoulder" we could have made our way through the queues. I must be going soft in my old age.

The obligatory photo of Harland and Wolff or Samson and Goliath if you prefer. It has to be done really, they're what Belfast is best known for.

And, of course I couldn't leave without taking a quick photo of the Human Statue. This guy's fantastic, Chloe almost ran for the hills when she'd been staring at him for a few minute, asking why a statue would have sunglasses, and he bent down and put his hand out for her. You've never seen a child move so fast.

All in told we had a great day. A long, very exhausting day where I spent a fair amount of time emptying the contents of Belfast Harbour out of my silly little shoes, but a great one nonetheless.

We had brioche and candied fruits. I now have a fridge well and truly stocked with salami, cured hams and cheeses.

And I had my paella followed by a maple syrup crepe because nom nom nom.

And, if only because this wouldn't be a true SeetheWoods post without me having a gripe about something.....

Belfast City Council spent seven years and roughly £3 million organising the events surrounding the Tall Ships and just in case anyone from Belfast City Council happens to read this post, I have a little question. Would it really have killed you to have lit a citronella candle or two, because ... wasps ... EVERYWHERE?

We may have to pick Chloe up from her Nana's early tomorrow and head over to Crawfordsburn or somewhere like that to see if we can see them leaving the harbour.

Belfast Tallships (Condensed)

Well I am officially shattered, with a capital SHATTERED. A capital S all on its lonesome just doesn't cover this level of shatteredness(?).

So I will leave you with a couple of photographs from our dizzy day and the promise of a full post tomorrow.

Now I think I may just curl up in front of the tv for an hour and I may even fall asleep there.

Nighty night all.

I need your help

Two weeks from today my little girl will start school.

I mean look at her, she's such a tiny little thing. The thing is though, she just can't wait to get to school. She talks of nothing else, every day "Am I going to school today mummy?". The same question every single morning.

We already have her uniform.

And her shoes...

With the little kitties on the outside of the shoes requested by the school so that she can tell easily which shoe goes with which foot. Well hey didn't have to be kitties, but you get the idea.

So now my little girl has a drawer in her room filled with green polo shirts, royal blue jumpers, grey trousers, skirts and pinafores, not to mention tiny little white socks which amazing reach all the way past her knees, grey tights, new pants and vests and little white airtex t-shirts for PE and toffee soled plimsoles so they don't leave marks on the games hall floor. We have her school bag and her PE bag and I'm in the middle of labeling everything with her name.

We don't' have shorts for PE yet, but it's still quite strange looking into that drawer.

This is my first year doing the school supplies thing, but tell me this. Is it perfectly normally to get annoyed over silly little things when you're trying to get every bought and organised.

Case in point, regarding the PE shorts. I've had a look in a few shops now and I'm just not coming across anything suitable. Just to see if I could get lucky and find a pair I went in to Tesco yesterday. I walked along the aisles of clothes. Passing by the boys clothes I noticed perfect little shorts for a boy's PE kit, nice little navy ones with pale blue stripes up each side and the reverse, pale blue with navy stripes, just the right length and with a bit of room in them for running.

Then I walked around to the girl's side and saw the offerings. One lonely design, a pack of two pairs of shorts. And I mean shorts. One pair white, the other baby pink and they actually had that cutaway scallop at the side which took the sides of the shorts even closer to the child's hips, if such a thing is even possible.

I took one look at them and all I could here in my head was "Hi, Welcome to Hooters. My name is Candi and I'll be your waitress." No daughter of mine will ever be seen dead wearing shorts like that!

Speaking of which, I think my friends and I were the only ones to go to Hooters when it opened in Belfast. From memory they were read the riot act on false advertising and closed shortly thereafter:)

Anyway, back to the point. Is it silly to get annoyed about the fact that shops seem perfectly capable of providing suitable shorts for boys but at the same time they thing that I should be willing to dress my daughter like a cheap slapper? I think not!

So we're nearly ready, bar the shorts.

Toots can't wait and the husband is so proud of her. I mean really proud, you should see the look he gets in his eyes and the little secret smile on his face when she talks about school. Toots just doesn't have any fear about school whatsoever and she looks so grown up now. She's just ready to go and the husband is really happy to see her like that. Ready to take on the world!

I think when we brought her out of daycare way back at the start of the year we were a bit worried that she would get so used to being at home with me by this time that the very thought of school would freak her out a bit, but that just hasn't been the case. I love her so much and I'm so proud of her myself.

Now, the title of this post suggests that I need your help and here's where you come in.

You see everyone thinks this is fantastic, my mum, dad, brother, the husband and I do too. But there's still this tiny little part of me. And I do mean a tiny, little insignificant part of me that needs to freeeeeaaaaak out.

And I mean bouncing off the walls fah-reak-ing out and someone has to come along for the ride.

She's just so.....small!

Seriously, I remember bringing her home from the hospital like a week and a half ago and she would lie with her little face buried in the side of my neck and her legs curled up so that her feet only reached as far as my chest and I would sit with her like that for hours, rubbing my thumbs along the soles of her feet while she slept and rolling her little toes back and forward between my thumb and forefinger while she smiled up at me.

And now I'm supposed to just send her off to school in two weeks when she'll be, what does that work out at, like three and a half weeks old. Really?

I pretty sure I'm entitled to have a mini panic attack of sorts.

So who's in?

Menu Plan and Big Boats

This will be a short little menu plan this week. I'm only planning as far ahead as Wednesday at the minute because I know if I plan any further than that, the plans will just end up being changed.


Baked trout with Parmesan and whole baked tomatoes with crusty bread and a green salad. I still have a freezer full of fish and my brother has already started to add to my freezer stash.


I roasted a chicken on Sunday afternoon so I'll use the leftovers for fajitas tonight. We have Toot's school readiness assessment this afternoon so I don't want to have to do too much on Tuesday afternoon. I can always use any salad from yesterday too.


Toots will be at Nana's house so I'm using the last of the venison for the husband and I'm actually not entirely sure what I'll have to be honest. I haven't went all out eggy for a while so I may have an omelet.

And that will have to do for the menu plan this week. We'll be going to Belfast for the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge on Thursday and I've only recently realised that not only will there be the ships (obviously) and a Guinness World Record attempt to have the largest gathering of people dressed as pirates at Queen's Quay on Saturday but there will also be not one, not even two, but THREE continental markets in Belfast.

I know what I'm like and I'll go completely overboard buying brats and cured hams and who knows what else, so I'll just hold off planning any more meals until I see what ends up in my fridge come Thursday afternoon.

I'll post some photos later in the week of all the lovely grub, oh and the ships too (obviously).

I wonder if I'll spot a certain someone, halfway up a ship's mast ready to nail the best photo of the day:)

I wonder indeed!

I'm really looking forward to a good day out now. Bring on the Hog Roast!

How to Create Simple Banners for Folksy

I've been making a lot of banners for some really lovely shops over on Folksy lately so I thought it was maybe time for a little tutorial.

Banners are really simple to create and honestly there just isn't any reason at all not to have a go at them. Bear in mind that while this tutorial relates to Folksy Banners the same principles apply to Etsy, Coriandr, Firefox and anywhere else you might need a banner or header.

I used photoshop to create my banners just because I happen to have it but you can get exactly the same results using one of the many excellent free photo editing software on offer online such as, gimp and to a certain extent picnik on Flickr. Its just matter of sitting down and playing around with it until you feel confident. Don't worry you won't break it.

If you're a complete photo editing virgin, this tutorial should help to guide you through a simple banner using some very simple techniques and once you have those nailed you can easily progress on to much more complicated things.

Now ever since I developed a bit of an addiction for digital scrapbooking I've became a little bit photo hungry.

I take pictures of absolutely everything I think looks interesting, bits of paper, scraps of fabric, beads, buttons, bits of string, you name I have photos of it. This means that I have quite a large stash of to dip into, if you don't I'm willing to bet that you have things like these lying around your home that you can grab and take a few photos of before playing around with them using your software.

What you always, ALWAYS want to bear in mind is that you can't just go around pilfering from other sites, and you can't just take it upon yourself to use the multitude of free digital scrapbooking supplies to be found online. Someone put a lot of time and effort into creating those and then very kindly gave them away for free, all they ask is that they are kept for personal use only. At the end of the day stealing is stealing is stealing, you wouldn't like it if someone made use of one of your designs so for your own peace of mind and a clear conscience just don't do it.

Don't be that person!

NOBODY like that person!

Right now that, that is out of the way, down to the tutorial.

Start off by establishing what size your banner needs to be, in Folksy's case that would be 920 x 100 pixels. Open a blank document, plain white at that size.

This nice sage(ish) green sheet of paper started out as a photograph of bog standard brown wrapping paper, change the hue, brightness, fiddle with the contrast and voila.

Now this photo is huge and obviously we only need a little bit of it for the banner, so have a quick look at what you have created and pick a bit you particularly like the look of. Then using the crop tool, crop the photo to roughly the size you need for your banner, like I have done above. I've also highlighted the little crop tool and it will look similar to this regardless of the software you happen to be using.

Next copy the cropped photograph. In photoshop press Ctr A to select the entire photo and then Ctr C to copy it. Then paste it over the top of the plain white banner you opened earlier. You'll see from mine above, that my cropped image was a little big. It doesn't really matter and if anything it means that you have a little bit of wiggle room to move the image about over the top of the white banner until you like what you see.

Next you want to add a bit of interest. Not too much though, the point of your shop banner is that it should be eye catching enough to slow browsers down for a second or two but not have so much going on that it casts a shadow over your shop contents.

Above is a photograph of a little leaf shaped sequin which came in a bumper craft activity pack and belongs to Toots. Now as the photo stands at the minute its a bit useless because you don't want all that background in your banner.

All you need to do is use the quick selection tool. Its over there on the left hand side and looks like a stick with a dash line circle at the end. Select that tool and rather than trying to select the item that you want in the photo, its sometimes a lot easier to select the background. This is one of those times because the leaf contrasts pretty well with the background. Just use the tool to move around the background, making sure not to go over the part of the photo you actually want in the end

Once you've selected the background, you'll be able to see a little flashing dotted line around the entire outside of the photo and also around the item that you want. Now you just need to click on "Select" in the tool bar at the top of the screen and then click on "Inverse". Now you're left with nothing but the leaf selected. Now just press Ctr C to copy the leaf and go back to you banner image.

Press Ctr V to paste the leaf onto you banner. Now it looks a little bit flat at the minute, doesn't it.

On the right hand side of your screen you'll see a box titled "effects". Play around with them, see which ones take your fancy. The one I used for the leaf is "soft edge". It looks like a box with a shadow around the bottom and right hand sides. Making sure that the leaf is selected (just click it) click on the effect which takes your fancy and click "apply", try a few if you don't like the effect just click Ctr Z to undo it and try another one.

Now we'll just pop that little leaf over to the far side and paste in another one. Why have one leaf when you can have two after all. Apply the same effect to the second leaf. I turned this leaf around a little because I wanted it to overlap the first. Just float your arrow over the little circle blow the leaf and move your cursor to one side or the other to rotate it in that direction.

And then pop it over to the side as well, fiddle the leaves around a bit until you like the look of them. Then simply select the Horizontal Type Tool and type in the name of your shop (Do Not buy water features from this guy, s'all I'm saying). Play around with the size, colour and font until your happy.

Once you're completely happy with the layout of your new banner click on "layer" in the menu bar at the top of the screen and select "merge visible" which turns all those little overlapping images into one single image for you to use. The just save the image as jpeg somewhere on your computer and upload your brand spankingly new banner.

Go nuts, make dozens, change them to reflect the seasons or your mood, but above all else have fun with it.

And once you get the hang of that, you're more than ready to start fiddling around with all the other features your software package has to offer.

And don't forget to subscribe, you wouldn't want to miss anything! It's very easy to do, trust me.

I'm officially out of ways to entrertain Toots

I could also have called this post "Roll on School Term" but I'll save that for when it gets a lot worse.

But, I hear you ask,

How much worse can it possibly get in you house when you've already let the the child run around (yes out in the garden too) with a pair of purple flowery knickers on her head pretending to be spiderman?

I guess we'll just have to wait and see, won't we!

Menu Plan 3/8 to 9/8

Water, water everywhere, so lets all have a drink! Yep, it's chucking it down in buckets again this week.

Even so, I received a nice surprise this week in the form of an email from Emma Williams, the Managing Editor of the Schmap Guide telling me that one of my photographs from our trip to Belfast Zoo had been chosen for the Top Attractions section.

This one in fact.

If you're not familiar with Schmap you check it out using the link below. Simply put, it's an online map system when you can also run on your phone amongst other things, but instead of a boring bog standard map, in Schmap all of the sites, attractions and places of interest including hotels, restaurants and even events which have been reviewed and also include photographs taken by your average Joe, or Josephine in my case because face it, a professional photographer can make anywhere look like somewhere you'd like to visit. Schmap Guides are available for over 200 worldwide destinations, not just Belfast so why not check out a few local to you.

Anyway, food!

I'm keeping relatively simple this week, although I found out after last week that I do need a basic menu at the very least to keep hold of my sanity.


I'll make a big pot of beef stew. The poor husband was on call all weekend and he barely set foot in the house until well after midnight both nights, plus he's off sorting out cameras today. Cameras which are outside and I've already mentioned that its pouring outside. He's exhausted already and I fully expect him to arrive home soaked through so I'll light the fire for him later too.


Chicken, possibly fajitas or just plain wraps with all the bits and pieces.


Curry tonight. Toots will be at Nana's house for dinner so I'll be able to make the husband a hot curry for a change.


Baked cod with potatoes and vegetables.


Pizza night.


Burgers and onion rings.


Roast chicken, with all the usual bits and pieces.


Strawberry Pavlova. Its in the oven already, the husband will need a bit of Summer by the time he arrives home and that amount of sugar might go some way towards keeping him on his feet.

Madeira cake, I feel like having some nice plain cake around the house for snacking.

Coffee cake. We'll be making coffee cake cupcakes today too. Coffee cake is Toots' absolutely favourite cake and the first thing she asks for every time and seeing as we won't be able to get too far from the house today I told her she could make some.

Actually I should probably go because she's chomping at the bit for that cake.