Friday, 25 April 2014

Inspired and normality:: Days15 - 29

Well I'm definitely feeling more Spring-like...I've shaken off my boots but not yet embraced bare feet. It's still cool enough for me to wear my black opaque tights to work (I have no idea what I'll wear when it's too hot) but I've been busy. Preparing for teaching. Preparing a book chapter. Cooking. Eating. Trying to appreciate the small things that make the everyday stand out. There's a certain rhythm to these 101 days posts. I'm still finding new things to enjoy but my family; my garden and food play a huge part in these.

Day 15
There's nothing better than a good sing song on the way to nursery and with the schools being off there's less people travelling to work and the journey takes less time. We walk from the car park singing 'Heads, shoulders knees and toes' with LittleR now joining in and pointing to her head and toes.

The delicious first (and second, third) bite of a hazelnut croissant!!


A trip to Temple Newsam Home Farm. We saw some piglets born that morning! Little R learnt to ‘Moo’

Day 17
Whilst the ABO works, the girls and I take a trip into Leeds for afternoon tea at Browns. Town on a Saturday afternoon is not a place I’d normally go with two small children, this was to celebrate my good friend leaving work to start maternity leave. We have a private room, which is lucky as LittleR is teething and not happy in or out of the buggy, with food or not and just wants to perfect her tablecloth pulling technique. Fortunately BigR spends the time playing with the table decorations and eating her body weight in cake (a girl after my own heart). We cause havoc, strike fear into a pregnant woman’s heart, eat cake and leave!

Day 18
As the weather is so lovely we take a trip once again to Harlow Carr. There’s always something new to see in the gardens and something to buy in the book shop. I am restrained and BigR receives Little Miss Chatterbox and the Frog Prince.
In the afternoon we all play football in the garden. It’s lovely!

Day 19
Birdsong. At the hospital I’m attached to there’s a huge amount of birdsong. I’m amazed that in such an urban environment I can hear such beautiful birdsong. I’m constantly trying to decipher the different sounds and use the RSPB site as a guide.

Day 20
After a very productive meal planning exercise from the ABO and myself…we have a large number of children’s frozen meals. Curry, macaroni cheese, fishcakes. I take a great deal of satisfaction seeing them all lined up in the kitchen like this!!

Day 21
Today we found out that BigR has got a place at our local (we live opposite) and oversubscribed school. She’s very excited that at playtime she’ll be able to see if we’re in or out!! I’m not sure how I feel now her place is confirmed. I think September will be a time of adjustments as we won’t have the flexibility we’ve had for the last 5 years. But it does mean we’ll get to spend time with LittleR only which will also be good.

Day 22
I have a child free morning and spend it dashing to the supermarket and Ikea and tidying. I come away with a magazine, some fancy frilly daffodils and only 2 items from Ikea not on my list.  This is a miracle. Things seem to plop into my yellow bag in there.I've bought some fabric to make BigR (and potentially LittleR and eventually me) a skirt. I'm going to use the tutorial Jennifer found.
My parents arrive from Essex with a huge bag full of chocolate eggs and bunnies. They’ve bought up the Lindt section of their local supermarket. Not that I’m complaining really!
They take BigR for a sleepover and we find we have more time at their usual bedtime which is usually filled with ‘I need a wee/drink/covers sorting/book/itchy foot scratched’ so we fill it instead with a glass of wine and a recording of Masterchef.

Day 23
Today (more than any other day) I remember my brother. It’s been two years since he died. I cannot believe where the time has gone.
To ‘celebrate’ being one child down for a time and to cheer me up we have a burger in town. It is delicious!!!! I decline my usual milkshake and got for chips instead. Good choice.

LittleR is so excited to see BigR again when my parents drop her off. She is cheering and stamps her feet. I love to see their relationship developing. It’s not long until the shouting starts again though as BigR is a bit too heavy handed!

Day 24
LittleR is a musical genius and has worked out how to play the harmonica. She plays it and dances in front of MTV!!

Day 25
We spend Easter day quite quietly at the park for an early morning walk, in the garden and then in front of the TV with various football matches after a lovely roast chicken dinner. I am too busy and stressed to take photos (putting one small child in bed whilst timing veg and Yorkshire puddings!) but relax afterwards. I even carve out some time to read!

Day 26
Whilst the ABO works, I dash to the supermarket before my friend arrives. We take the girls to have their feet measured and only one needs shoes. The Big one doesn’t make a fuss and enjoys a babyccino as a reward. Phew! My biggest one loves shoes. Whilst LittleR sleeps, I make pizza dough, pizza tomato sauce and our lunches.

In the afternoon we head to the local garden centre where I buy a blueberry plant and some ericaceous compost under CJ’s instruction. There are a few flowers on the plant so maybe we’ll get a couple of blueberries later. I’m prepared to wait until next year for a harvest. I’ve quite a few plans for the garden this year (which I will blog about eventually) and we suddenly had an idea…of perhaps growing our fruit and veg in the front garden. Food for thought so to speak….

Day 27
After an early start and some tantrums (from the Big one) there is exemplary behaviour so we go for a pizza at our local Pizza Express. The wait as usual here is long but BigR loves the colouring and the stickers and hat you get on arrival. I love that I don’t have to cook this one!

Day 28
The University reopens and our post Easter routine starts again. After work, I wander the house returning items to their rightful places and creating collections of things to move up or down stairs. I find umpteen clips to go back to the hair gubbins box. Very satisfying.

Day 29

As I drive to work…to my role in another city. I spy a photo opportunity. This imposing building is Lister Mill it was once the largest silk mill in the world and is now flats as part of a regeneration project in Bradford.

We have a midweek meal of pork chops. We’re trying to use up freezer items before they become too burnt/forgotten. The ABO makes mash potato in the day. I cheat and use Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire puddings (hey don’t judge me I’m not a Yorkshire lass!) but it’s delicious even if I say so myself. 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Nice and spicy 101 days :: 8-14


I’m loving the longer days. The early evening sun that means that I can pop outside when the girls are in bed. Collect the washing off the line. Take a quick look around the garden whilst the pasta cooks. Make plans to dig, sow and plant.

Plans are afoot, decisions have been made and things move onwards. I’ve had some leave approved for June. We find out about schools next week (eek), my parents are up for another visit and I shall be enjoying an ’extra’ day off after the bank holiday as the university still has a closure on some Tuesdays after bank holidays.

So here’s some more of my 101 days countdown.

Day 8

:: Bringing home LittleR’s nursery profile book to look at all the things she’s been up to whilst we’ve been at work.

:: Asking where’s LittleR gone and looking round and seeing she’s up the stairs! This little girl has no fear!! I’m sure she was a mountaineer in a previous life with the amount of climbing she does!!

Day 9

:: Seeing BigR and LittleR enjoy the (surprisingly and gratifyingly quiet) soft play centre. Last time we went LittleR couldn’t walk and BigR didn’t have the upper arm strength to use the monkey bars.

:: My parents arrive for a weekend visit, and take BigR to their place (a little holiday home) for a ‘sleepover’.

Day 10

:: A delicious family meal out.

:: The camellia finally in flower.

Day 11

:: Taking both Rs swimming. LittleR hasn’t been swimming before and she was a little nonplussed about the other people in her, slightly colder than usual, bath! She got the hang of it eventually and splashed away whilst clinging to me or the ABO. 

:: Giving the ABO 45 minutes of quiet during the football but taking BigR away to do some baking the result being a very delicious apple cake.

Day 12

:: Making (and eating) jambalaya….haven’t made this meal in a while and it really is delicious. I used to make this with Cajun spice but here was always something not quite right about it. Anyway my discovery of Bart’s Creole spice made it, in my mind, a more authentic taste.

It’s very easy and quick. On this day I didn’t have anything other than green peppers so it is overwhelmingly green.

I knew we were hungry and this made 3 meals (one for the freezer) with seconds for the ABO and myself. I browned chopped chicken breast (2) and half a chorizo sausage together for 10 mins then removed to a plate. In the chicken/chorizo pan I fried off 3 sticks of celery and 2 green peppers, after 5 mins I returned the meat to the pan add 2-3 teaspoons of creole spice, a big tin of tomatoes, rice and 400ml of chicken stock. 

Stirring well until brought the boil, this is turned down to a simmer for about 20 mins…or until the rice is cooked and the liquid has been absorbed. Sometimes, I need to add a bit more liquid depending on the type of rice I have used and how much I’ve thrown in.

Day 13

:: Meeting the ABO for lunch before he collected the girls.
:: Finishing another good book! And choosing the next....hmmm...

Day 14

:: The light through a stained glass window in the Leeds General Infirmary.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

A year in books :: April

Well I seem to have my reading mojo back.
This has been a really good prompt for me to get back into reading and I’m enjoying it thoroughly.
So March included The Snow Child, Raven Black, Tales from the Secret Footballer and The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. Phew! I don’t know how I did it.

I loved the Snow Child – recommended by so many bloggers but especially Sarah. The descriptions of the inhospitable Alaskan winters and the hope that the child brings to Mabel and Jack in times of despair I found incredibly moving.

How had I not come across Ann Cleeves before? I’ve not been watching Shetland on TV (but I’ll be catching up on iplayer when I’ve read the books!) but I thoroughly enjoyed the first book. The close, small community where everyone knows everyone else’s business and the prejudice against those that are outsiders even though they’re from within. Gripping stuff. So much so I’ve now bought the remaining 4 books for my kindle and will be attacking (unfortunate turn of phrase given the subject!!) one of those in April. 

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox was read almost in one sitting with the majority overnight as I listened to a small child cough. Incidentally, the small child was asleep….but I wasn’t! Was I waiting for her to wake up so I could administer calpol or just so I could read? Anyway…another amazing story. This took me back to my GCSE RE class where every Christmas we would make cards for the long term in-patients at the local psychiatric hospital. In the last year we went to visit the patients and hand out the (much appreciated) cards and presents. It was the first time that I’d realised many of the elderly patients had been ‘locked up’ for so many years on extremely flimsy (by modern standards) reasons, many for having epilepsy for example. Anyway I’ll be returning to Maggie O’Farrell again very soon! 

My final book of the month was Tales from the Secret Footballer. An easy read that you can dip in and out of. The author is extremely scathing of how football is and how it didn’t help him with his (and others) mental health issues. An interesting read. And yes I did spend the next hour attempting to finds out who it is. The ABO and I have narrowed it down but we don’t know for sure….yet. 

So I’m not expecting April to anywhere near as prolific as March. Now the ABO is at home and not away I might spend some of my evening talking to him rather than only reading. I’m starting with the second on the Ann Cleeves Shetland series and moving on to another crime favourite Lynda La Plante…how I missed an Anna Travis novel Wad published I don’t know.

Joining in with Laura at circleofpinetrees

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

101 days :: 1-7

Day 1

  • The ABO being back home…and now based locally!
  • A new notebook
  • LittleR feeding everyone soggy toast at breakfast time

Day 2

  • Lunch with the ABO
  • Big R retrieving a card for me from her nursery drawer

Day 3

  • Being out in the garden…making headway on the weeding and enjoying the sunshine.
  • Planting seeds (with muddy feet)

  • BigR collecting my weeds into a large flower pot

Day 4

  • Homemade and bought Mother’s Day cards and gifts
  • Beautiful tulips and daffodils
  • Chicken, lemon and thyme risotto…yum yum

Day 5

  • R staying in bed until 5.55am! A result!!
  • Coffee on the way to work
  • The lighter evenings
  • Primroses in huge pots at work

Day 6

  • New books – including 100 knitted and crochet flowers…all the more reason to learn to crochet now!
  • Sunshine after fog
  • Handbag organiser…where have you been all my life?
  • Ticking off long awaited jobs on my list

Day 7

  • Sandwiches made for me - why do sandwiches made by someone else always taste better?
  • Completing a piece of work!!