Thanks for checking this out...

Ta muchly for visiting. Here you will find musings, ramblings and a few statements of fact. They say women can have it all, motherhood, careers and crazy social lives. But what if we don't want it all? What if we want some of it sometimes and other bits not so often? Here I'll mix and match as the whims and energy levels take me. Your tuppence worth is always welcome!

The mask...

The mask...
Life is for loving and living no matter what it involves...

Friday, 29 October 2010

Parkin for when it's parky

Sometimes life just likes to slap you about the face a bit, like a tanked up landlady at the Queen Vic it assumes you need taking down a peg or two when in fact that is the last thing you need. The weather has turned wintry and the park has turned into the last place on earth you want to visit. Beautiful autumn colours on the trees? Well yes they are but it is also freeeeeezing. Call me difficult but I just can't concentrate on the finer points of decaying foliage when my fingers are falling off. Now don't get me wrong I'm quite partial to a bit of the outdoors even when  it has turned a tad nippy in the air, but the play park is something quite different. Toddler boy loves to climb and swing and whizz about without any help from me, Channeling his inner gibbon. Baby girl is swiftly approaching toddler status too and likes nothing more than a clamber up the slide to the tree house where she'll happily sit...ooh for hours if allowed while I stand guard slowly turning into a snow woman. There is no action for the grown up. If I'm going to be outside then at least let's keep moving.

So you'd think it would be quite a relief to have an excuse to stay in for a few days. Alas not. Not when the excuse is two wee ones with nasty buglings oozing out of their noses, spraying forth in coughs and splutters and generally turning them into balls of frothing overtired temper-tots. Ah yes for with the bugs comes sleeplessness. And if they don't sleep, we don't sleep. Housebound, germ-ridden and frazzled; that's us. There is only so much Cbeebies a woman can take, while it seems small ones have an unlimited capacity for the TV twaddle.

Events were ripe for an intervention. In the time honoured tradition of frazzled mothers the world over I sought solace in the kitchen. At the very least it is warm in there. We would bake! It was a cunning plan, keep them busy, cosy warm and produce goodies to bribe them with at a later date. And that is when I found the Parkin recipe. If life was going to administer a few slaps then I'd slap it right back - wallop. Take that evil fictional pub landlady.Armed with only a mixing bowl I defeated the bad mood and ushered in contentment. Ah.Que smiles all round.

Parkin, a great taste of Yorkshire. This recipe came from a Yorkshire man too, James Martin. And as a Brucie Bonus it has hardly any butter and only 1 egg so squeezes into the 'healthy eating' regime too. Okay, I am turning a blind eye to the sugar and syrup but I've had no sleep, for days sugar is essential to my ability to function at any level approaching human...

225g self raising flour
115g caster sugar
2 tsp ground ginger ( I like to add a couple of tsp of mixed spice too)
1 tsp bicarb of soda
55g butter
115g golden syrup
1 egg
200ml milk

Preheat oven to gas mark 2 and grease an 8inch cake tin.
Melt butter and syrup in a pan on a low heat. Add to flour, caster sugar, ginger and bicarb of soda and mix well.
Whisk the egg into the milk and add to mix. Stir all up and put in cake tin.
Bake for 1 hour. Eat!
A ginger taste sensation

Boosted by the success of the parkin we've spent the rest of the week baking flapjacks, peanut butter cookies and lemon drizzle cake. Now as a germ free family we have lots of things to take to the park and nibble to fend off the chill. Of course it would be rude to indulge in cake without a coffee but rather than queue with the yummies for a frothy latte I'm kitted out with a big flask of the hardcore black stuff.

Caffeine, cake and kiddies gone crazy...bring it on.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

A liitle off the middle

If it isn't complicated enough trying to keep two small ones and big tall hubby well fed and chirpy without bringing down the wrath of Cameron and Co. on the state of our finances we've added a little extra challenge. Keeps things fresh doesn't it? And what is this challenge? To cook while doing the downward dog? Nope. Shopping only while wearing fluffy slipper booties and a smile? Nah. Although I do love my slipper booties and see no shame in sharing them with the world. See...

Cosy winter tootsie warmers
This is something we never ever do. Ever.

Shh and I'll whisper Well I say diet, it is more of a cutting down exercise, trimming off the fat as it were. That dreaded phrase 'portion control' is coming into my kitchen on hushed feet. What torture is this? Actually portion control is fab, saves a fortune so long as we don't snackeroo. So far so good. No, it isn't a diet. Sensible eating fits the bill nicely. If you call it a diet all you want to do is eat. Munch, crunch, chew and nibble. So it is most definitely not a diet. The D word is banned henceforth.

Now you'd think eating less would cost less but not so. 'Tis probably why only the rich and famous can afford to be thin as age advances along with the waistline. This being sensible lark takes time and effort and its toll on the coffers. Wee ones need their food and their fat. Big ones need to reign it all in while they still have the chance. So we're juggling to avoid the jiggling. Thank heavens for booze I say! Cutting down on the nightly medicinal vino (the balm of most mothers post bed time) helps boost the purchase of 'healthier options'. I'm amazed anyone can afford to be veggie, it tots up.

Let's give it a few weeks and see how it goes, once I find a recipe that actually tastes as good as a full fat version then I'll whip it up here in a flash. Hope it isn't a long wait!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Ta very much garden of Eden

If the Good Book is to be believed dear old Eve was tempted by the delights of the humble apple way back before temptation was even a word. And who can blame her? Well we can all blame her apparently but let us brush that aside. Round, luscious, juicy with a rosy red glow (no we're not still talking about Eve) who could resist the delights of that little fruit?

I for one would have snapped up the serpents offer and taken a big old bite. Which is why the annual Apple Festival at Middle Farm in Sussex is a true delight. Apple-fest to us regulars (get me, regular, I've been the last two years) is a big bucket of appley-fun. And the copious quantities of cider on offer only adds to the joy. Cider, now there is wonder. Apparently the true drink of England predating even our beloved beer. While it may conjure images of aggro-teens escaping the boundaries of the local park after one too many special K, or the street crazies lounging on benches with 5 gallon jugs of the supermarket own brand gut rot, cider is in fact a noble taste sensation that has graced the tables of kings (I think- hic).

Welcome to the home of the good sup cider

So I'm happy with the bars and bands on offer. Oh yes live music graces not one but two stages with hay bales galore for a true country-knees up vibe. What is a dance without straw in your hair I ask you? Hubby has the short straw (no pun intended) of designated driver but compensates with hog roasts and pork sausages so he's happy. Actually so am I, the hog roast is a proper whole pig spit roasted on site and worth the 20 minute queue. Granny joins me in the festivities with a sip or two of the 'grown's up apple juice' and the wee ones have the best deal of all with a funfair, farm animals, fluffy bunnies and a play park to enjoy, washed down with lashing of freshly pressed apple juice. Lest we forget there is also ice cream, cake and toffee apples on offer to ensure they have enough sugar energy to make the most of all the entertainment on offer.

The market stalls proffer rosy balls of apple delight, all locally grown age old varieties your supermarkets rarely provide at a mere £1.99 a kilo which isn't a bad deal at all. Then you have the cheese, pork pies, sausages, chutneys and jams. All local produce and all delicious to the last. If it has apple in it you'll find it here. Cream of the crop for sure.

Temptation in a box

My mission as this blog states is to satisfy hearts, minds and tummies on a budget. With under 12's going in for free it cost a mere £20 for us to get in, plus a little extra for the fun stuff inside (not to mention the bar bill) but it is worth every penny. This mini festival hits every spot for all the family and is the perfect practice run for a great big summer festival which is the aim next year. Of course we'll be hitting the apples again too.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Strength in numbers

Six adults, six children and one large cottage complete with heated indoor pool. It sounds like a fair deal on paper. One adult per child and six of the ankle biters to amuse each other would surely mean adult supervision could be kept to a minimum. The pre-hol dream was of lazing by the pool with a glass of vino sharing banter with like minded pals. Alas not fair reader. Take those six children and multiply the effort per child by ten and you're just hovering in the right ball park. Not that you would want to go into that ball park - 'tis chaos in there. Us poor adults were run ragged day after day as the mini-us ramped up the energy levels with the sheer excitement of seeing each other every single day combined with the unknown delight of their very own swimming pool, right in the middle of the house. A small miracle before their very wide eyes.

It took two days of constant group vigilance to end the game of 'bounce on the big bed furthest from the grown ups'. While we've all indulged in a bed bounce now and then this game had the edge and that edge came in the form of clothes flinging - all over the room. In the end we conceded vigilance was not enough and wedged the door closed with a chair. That did the trick.God love 'em.

Do not be deterred though, a group holiday has its perks. First and foremost we got to hang out with friends for a whole week, sharing the pain of tiny-tots crazy hour and the fuzzy glow of witnessing group baby hugs and toddler love-ins. Plus the grown ups sank more than a few bottles of vino, local ales and fruity ciders each evening resulting in our own group hugs - love-ins however were strictly a private affair. And we got to play Pictionary!Oh yes we know how to rock. It's a game that needs at least four semi tipsy (or ideally totally trollied) players and in an increasingly baby-centric social circle it is hard, nay almost impossible to get the right conditions to play. So what a treat it was to whip out the board and sharpen those pencils. I mock ye not. And I didn't even win.

Purse-wise a group hol is a top idea too. 'Tis way cheaper than B&B's or hotels and probably on a par with camping without the wet weather worries or hassle of pitching. Economical and social - a match made in heaven. Not to forget the built in babysitting service. Priceless.

Not having children of school age helped too, we snuck off post summer hols and shaved a fortune off the rental price. Ah bring back the 70's when you could whisk kids out of school any time you liked. If this double dip recession continues I foresee my small ones having bouts of flu around Oct time requiring a full week off school to recover. Honest headmistress, they have a temperature of 39 (this global warming business has helped enormously with the late break - in T-shirts on the beach in Oct? Oh yes).

Is a group holiday with multiple wee ones a good idea? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes. I'll just remember to wedge the door shut on the first day next time. 

Sunday, 10 October 2010

123, easy as N.C.T

It is every parents nightmare. Perhaps nightmare is too strong a word. Shall we go with bankbusting horrorfest? Yes, lets. Not one but two small ones suddenly spurt upwards and all those lovingly selected wardrobe items that once made them look like Jo-Jo-Mama models now make them look like tiny Frankensteins. It is freaky the speed with which those limbs extend, maybe it is all the reaching for the choccy in the top cupboard, surely biology alone can't be responsible?

Whether it was the chocolate (rationed I promise) or the mere fact of growing up I had to face facts, toddler boy and baby girl no longer fitted their clothes. Not just one or two items, no nothing so simple as that, every item of clothing from 'big boy pants' to frilly frocks refused to cover the cracks and meet at the seams. In a matter of days I struggled to dress my wee ones in anything that didn't look like I'd stole it from a leprechaun. Urgent action was called for.

In the nick of time a friend spread the word - the skint parents holy grail an N.C.T sale was in the offing. Relief was at hand. Not only was it a chance to update their wardrobes in one fell swoop, but thrown into the bargain was a chance to natter with the ladies and lunch back at the friends where all the small ones could run wild in their too small clothes together. With a glass (or several) of wine for the grown ups what was not to like in that plan?

Bunfights at dawn or 10.30am to be precise. An N.C.T sale is a unique event for the uninitiated. Ordinarily polite mummies let loose their inner hoodie to smash and grab with gay abandon When you see a smile translate as 'get your hands off'. The annointed (read N.C.T members) get first dibs and make merry while us mere mortals queue in desperate anticipation.

But I knew it was going to be a good day. On the way a lost French man was much relieved when I informed him he'd picked one of the few streets left in Brighton with free parking. Spreading the joy is a joyful thing. Surfing the streets on smiles it only get better at the station when a lovely man gave me a free latte because the person he'd made it for changed their mind. Giving a mother of two small ones free coffee is akin to saving them from a fire, especially at 9am on a Sunday morning (lie-in? What is that? A dim memory that's what) and his karma will surely shine.

Even the ticket man on the train was a sweetie, giving toddler boy not one but two 'tickets' for him and the friend he was on the way to visit. And he had a self confessed hangover. Another destined for good karma central methinks.

It was then I decided to go with the flow of the day. I would not engage in a bun fight over a pair of tights. I would not grab and dash and glower to get that top or those pants. No. This N.C.T sale would see a serene me, gliding round the hall, collecting charming items in a leisurely fashion, while like a swan under the calm was a frantic paddling. Totting up, planning ahead and weighing the value. Such fun.

I ended the day £50 down and the wee ones were fully (and funky) wardrobed up. The karma did not fail us and both toddler boy and baby girl can once more leave the house in clothes that fit and will hopefully continue to do so for many months to come. The N.C.T is surely a wonderful thing. And wine with lunch too? What sort of crazy bliss is that?!