Thursday, 24 October 2013

Pottering and a surprise

We have been home for a week now. There’s a familiar pattern to the days, partially driven by LittleR’s routine and partially by BigR’s time at nursery.
I’ve spent the last couple of days pottering around; searching out some frames for some photos I will get printed, gathering the necessary supplies for my embroidery project, starting a ‘quick’ knitting project which wasn’t on my list, clearing out magazines and papers clipped from magazines/newspapers/other bits (yes, I quite enjoy this, but not the tidying of official paperwork). This has been interspersed with the more necessary domestic duties – a supermarket shop, picking up countless toys and washing sandy/muddy nursery clothing, I’m sure it’s only my child that gets this filthy. I do like a bit of pottering. The ABO went into the loft and retrieved some of BigR's old toys and books for LittleR. He also put up some pictures for LittleRs room that have been sat waiting for a hook for too many months. It felt good to do those small jobs.
The ABO is away  at the moment so I could fall into a spell of eating badly, of ‘not looking after myself in the way I should’. Sometimes this is good. Just to have some toast for tea with the children and then feasting on chocolate later...we all need that sometimes...Generally I am good at preparing food for myself. I like to think of this as a creative activity and I know it's important to look after myself so i can look after the girls. It's fortunate my children will eat a wide variety of things so we often all eat the same meals. What I craved this week has been something hearty and something that perhaps the girls' wouldn't eat. I took inspiration from Sarah’s blog and made chickpea and chorizo stew. I had all the things I needed in the house (onion, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, and paprika) so it was a winning situation. It was even better a day later...

After a day which included a ginormous supermarket shop with a slightly snuffly child I came home to a beautiful surprise.

I love gerberas!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Last day

This is our last evening in Italy. The ABO is at work. The children are asleep. I'm meant to be packing but here I am writing a blog post.

It seems strange that our visits here are over. The ABO still has 2 weeks left in the apartment and then it's back to a hotel for him. 

It's been a strange summer. Not hearing spoken English very often. Standing out obviously as 'the Brits' in a small village. 

It's also been a time where things have slowed down from the pace at home. Where BigR has shown her imagination and 'made' more toys from paper to play with...a shop and all the things she wants to sell...mostly fruit, vegetables and shoes! Where LittleR has taken advantage of a low coffee table to practice standing up.

Now it's almost over, I feel like a character in one of BigR's books - Moon Rabbit

"back to her home, back to her favourite cafe and back to all the things she liked to see and do" 

but we leave knowing, that after months and months and months of difficulty, in April, the ABO should be based 9 miles from our home. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

Attempting to create

In the title of this blog is the word create. Hmmm. I haven't felt very creative recently. Although I spend a lot of time with the pencils, glue and scissors and my 4 year old, I have been very neglectful of more permanent creative times, things that perhaps are for me or our home or for the children. I haven't made littleR anything...yet!! So this is where I'm going to show my planning for creative activities in the coming months. Hopefully, by then, it'll be a habit that I'll be able to continue when I go back to my job.

In no particular order:

:: Embroider 3 panels for LittleR. Owls maybe? I think they would suit LittleR. I completed a set of three matryoshka dolls for BigR. The original idea came from Aimee Ray's Doodle Stitching and also the sublime stitching site. I was pleased with the end result and learnt a lot from the process, including knowing I'll need to reconsider my mounting in future. 

:: Book and attend my Betty's Cookery School course. I had a 'milestone' birthday earlier this year and was lucky enough to get a voucher to attend the school. I've been thinking about 'one pot wonders' and 'winter warmers' all I need to do is work it with the ABO's roster.

:: Plans for the 2014 garden. The garden has just ticked by the last couple of years. A difficult family time and then pregnancy in 2012 and a newborn and our extended breaks in Italy for most of 2013 mean the garden had to take a back seat...but not for 2014. All that promise within the pages of a seed catalogue. I'm sure I can convince my Dad (again) to donate some seedlings from his greenhouse.

:: Make S's tea cosy - my good friend S is a prolific and exceptionally talented knitter. She's encouraged me to try it once more. I have the basics down...I even made a half decent attempt at a shawl that I wore. I'm sure it's a case of practice makes perfect in this case. She bought me a (simple) kit for a tea cosy. I'm going to use it - and then let her  use the finished item being the tea bod she is.

:: Make an appliqué blanket for BigR  and try to use bias binding on the edges. BigR is at that stage where she really enjoys make believe play. I often find little scenes she's created with her toys and an array of tea cups, bowls spoons and clothing. Although I like to encourage the imaginative play I'd prefer it if she'd not use my clothes as floor cloths! The plan here is to appliqué a fleece blanket for her to use. I also thought I could try to bias bind the edges and give my sewing machine an airing.

:: Make photo books for 2012-13 - good gifts for grandparents and a lovely way for us to look at the photos we've taken rather than them being locked away on a hard drive.

:: Embroider tea towels. I was looking through the archives of another new to me blog. Gillian had made some beautifully embroidered tea towels which have inspired me to attempt my own.

:: Take BigR to 'Pots to go' - and have a go myself. BigR recently attended a birthday at 'pots to go' a creative pottery cafe in Harrogate where you can paint pottery. She loved it - and so did I!! Although it would've been bad form to push the children out of the way and have a go myself... I'll be back.

So here are a few creative ideas to be getting on with. Hopefully I'll have lots of finished items to show you soon. 

Saturday, 5 October 2013


I wasn't really a fan of hot drinks. I was more than happy with water, squash and fizzy drinks (or pop as I now call it having spent more of my life in Yorkshire than in my southern roots). Until, that is, I went to university. This is where it began. 
You might think that it was down to lots of late nights and hangovers (and there were some of those) or help to extend study time and give you that extra push to revise some more. 
In effect it was down to three things. 
- I wanted to be social.
- It was cold. 
I couldn't stand the smell, taste or thought of tea. 

Now I take my coffee strong and black (due to a brief spell dairy free diet to help with my asthma - it didn't so I was soon back to cheese, chocolate and ice cream) and prefer a little of something more expensive than lots of cheap instant stuff.

Our best investment was an espresso maker. There's a milk froth attachment for the ABO to have a warm milk added. I'm not an amazing barista so I hesitate to say cappuccino. It's handy for bigR to have a frothy milk too. 
To start the day, its usually instant coffee. It's quick, easy and necessary whilst I make littleR a bottle and corral bigR into breakfast.
Mid morning is my favourite coffee time. If I'm at home I'll fire up the coffee maker. Currently the favourite blend is Taylor's Italian.
I also frequent a very well known chain who make delicious coffee and add two shots as standard (rather than other chains which charge you for the extra shot) or three shots should you got for the larger buzz! I like to watch the people come and go. If I'm alone I can be silent in the hubbub. The children are well catered for too. The local independent coffee bar also has delicious coffee but is in no way child/buggy friendly. So now the weather is cooler and we need to be inside I'm back to my trusty chain.
Afternoon coffee isnt as frequent these days. It boosts me from my sluggishness. More often than not I need it due to a disturbed night with one of the children or my own galloping thoughts.

By far the best thing about our stay in Italy has been the coffee. Coffee bars exist everywhere. They make the most exquisite coffee. I'm a bit of a heathen and have an americano to make the espresso last that moment longer. Coffee time in Italy isn't a time to linger. It's a brief moment to recharge with caffeine and perhaps also partake of a brioche (various flavoured croissants- nutella- divine). 

My coffee love also extends to a love of mugs. You can beat a good mug. The shape, the way it feels full in your hand. That's also part of the coffee experience. Perhaps one day I'll share my mug love too.