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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...

Sunday, 28 November 2010

It is all in the planning

These days I don't leave the house without a detailed plan of action. Spontaneity has packed its bags and left in despair; utterly neglected. There are pluses and minuses to this situation. My inner twenty-something (and who over 30 does not have an inner twenty-something dissecting every move?) rages at the loss of life on the whimsy-side. Tall hubby and I walk past a pub with the pushchair in tow and pine for the days when we could have nipped inside and stayed till closing. To stay in a pub 'till closing these days demands military grade forward planning. And becoming sergeant major of the drinks brigade somewhat takes the fun out of it.

However there is much to be said for the boyscout motto 'be prepared'. From day trips to shopping trips; birthdays to Christmas, all are broken down into lists, tasks and detailed plans. Now the list thing is partly down to the fact that if a thought stays in my head for more than two minutes it counts as a minor miracle. Call it prolonged baby-brain or call it the  early onset of Alzheimer's but my memory ain't what it used to be. These days I can walk from the living room to the kitchen and forget why I've opened the fridge. An ideal excuse to nibble a slice of ham perhaps; alas not now the 'healthy eating plan' is in motion.

A real bonus to all this planning is the cost-saving; oh the chancellor would beam with pride if that face of his is capable of such a thing. I've slashed and bashed expenditure to get the most of...ooh everything...for the least money possible. With my trusty list pinned to the fridge by the giant letter A, I can track and chase Xmas goodies, hunting out the best deals and bargains. Inch by inch our Christmas delights accumulate into a fantastic feast that will make the 'healthy eating plan' quake in its boots. Ditto wee boys upcoming birthday party. And it is so much easier to enjoy it all when I know the bank is not broken (well it might have a slight hairline fracture).
The font of all wisdom...

This leads us nicely to the other big plus - stress reduction. With it all broken down to bite sized chunks life is so much easier to manage. Harangued by the demands of two small children the days slip past in a haze not dissimilar to the mild intoxication of the morning after the night before. There is no accounting for the time as it whizzes by - it just goes. But thanks to my new 'be prepared' philosophy Christmas is in the bag. Presents are bought (or made), stocking fillers acquired and Xmas tree goodies await a tree. I can sit and wait to see big grins on Xmas morning with time aplenty to relax and get festive.I don't share this to be smug (honest) but to spread the happy news that the loss of life on a whim comes with perks - its a yin-yang thing.
Christmas all wrapped up with time to spare

So while it is now impossible to head for the closest Italian at 8pm when we've realised too late we need to eat but can't be bothered with cooking we can whip out 'one I prepared earlier' as part of my monthly menu plan - which is almost (if you squint) spontaneous. The best of both worlds? Well it might just be...

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Such fun.

Hey-ho here it is, 38, all bright and shiny new. Birthday glamour has a habit of fading fast but why limit yourself to just one day? The meter only clicks over once a year, let's stretch it out for as long as we can get away with eh? Gone are the days when big tall hubby and I would pack up and abscond from life as we know it for a few days; ideally somewhere sunnier. Traipsing off with wee ones in tow simple doesn't have the same fun-factor. Alas the birthday holiday will have to wait 'till there are a few more years on the clock; then the world can once more be our oyster. But do not despair! Oh no, we may be stuck in Blighty  but there is fun to be had despite the chill.

What a spoilt baby-mama I was this year. What is a birthday without a spot of fizz? My champagne tastes were indulged to the max with a sparking breakfast and presents in bed. Didn't spill a drop - can't say the same about the bacon sarnie crumbs though...Oooh presents - I just love them but what I love the most is the messages, cards texts and facebook posts that show people remember and care enough to say 'happy birthday'. It might be winter but I was all a-glow. Maybe it is just me but post babies the teeniest fleck of sentimentality gets me right in the middle.

Big tall hubby wouldn't let me cook a thing all it was lunch in the pub and dinner too! ;-)

The last time we went to see Seth Lakeman play there was a baby in my belly that kicked up a fuss and made dancing a crazy fantasy. So to go see him again on my actual birthday was a treat beyond all imagining - and I have quite an active imagination. Did I dance? You bet your sweet shiny dancing shoes I did. The first gig for us since toddler girl came on the scene; methinks there will have to be a few more now the genie is out the bottle. What is it with Brighton crowds though? Was I hiding the behind the bar when the dancing ban was issued? The rebel movers and shakers seemed to naturally gather front stage right while the rest of the crowd admired the music while standing stock still. Weird.

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Way back in the day I used to review bands, and in the spirit of me-past I must throw in a good word for the support act. Delta Maid is worth wrapping your ears around if a Scouser Dolly Parton with a roughed up Paloma Faith tingle gets your lobes flapping. She's got an amazing voice, a real country sound with a contemporary edge. If the world loves Duffy there is surely room for this lady on CD racks across the land.

And there is still more to come. Oh yes. We've had a night out, a friendly photo shoot afternoon and a Friday home dinner date with lashings of wine (healthy eating plan? Oh yes, that's next week....)Our adventures in fun-town will continue with a Sunday roast with friends to put the final touch on this year's celebrations. Then and only then will I officially be 38 and ready to rock on with the year. Rock and roll baby, rock and roll...

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Annual review

Some celestial prankster is playing with the fast forward button as yet another year has skipped past with not the blink of an overtired eye. 'Tis the week of the day of my birth once more, another digit to the tally, another wrinkle on the forehead. But this time around I'm feeling older and wiser in a good way - huzzah! The challenge of life on a lemonade purse has turned into just that, not a problem, or a pain (okay sometimes a pain when I see something delectable in a shop window) but a good heartening challenge to met with a frank stare direct to the eyeball. I'm enjoying all this creative practicality; well who knew? My inner lush cowers in submission as I type.

But it isn't just me getting older (well duh!) toddler boy has morphed with a kick and a yell into my wee boy; proper cheeky mouthed rough and tumble boyhood is in full swing. As for baby girl, ah my last little fledgling has bum shuffled up the developmental ladder to official toddler status. So this year when it comes to birthday eve I might just get my indulgent bath as both wee boy and toddler girl are sleeping through (cranky pants illness induced insomnia aside) without a murmur. Such is progress.

Life is a but a dream...

And me and big tall hubby (grammar my dear, grammar) have a night on the town to look forward to; nothing too fancy mind! Tickets are already in the bag for a gig (sadly not guest list, ah those days are truly behind me) and with babysitters lined up (friends are such wonderful beings) for an early start we'll even manage dinner beforehand. Blimey O Riley I must be getting older as the prospect of dinner is just as exciting as a gig - the horror! This crazy past year we've come head to head with the unbelievable havoc that two small children can wreak on life as we know it; yet one fantastic fact as emerged; we love each other's company and relish the opportunities to indulge in it even after sleepless nights, todler tantrums and almost two decades of togetherness. That is no bad thing, no sirree bob.

So bring on the birthday; the celebrations; the extra year on the tally and the enticing promise of another year managing this lemonade purse.

Monday, 8 November 2010

On the flipside part deux

Just as a little addendum to yesterday's post here is the recipe for the squash/pumpkin pasta sauce. Good time of year to do it and it tastes fantastic. I got it from the 'Top 100 pasta sauces' cookbook by Diane Seed.

500g pasta
1.5kg pumpkin or squash cut into thin slices
50g butter
1 leek finely sliced
1 onion finely chopped
1 stick celery finely sliced
300ml chicken stock (may need more or less depending)
Half tsp nutmeg
150ml double cream or 125g fromage frais
70g grated Parmesan

Melt half the butter and gently soften the onion, leek and celery. Add the pumpkin/squash and cook on low heat for about 5 mins. Add enough stock to make it all moist and cover, simmer for about 20 mins. Add more stock and repeat until it is all cooked through and soft. Add salt/pepper to taste and the nutmeg then blend. Return to the pan and add the cream, Parmesan and the rest of the butter stir through and serve up.

Guess what; toddler boy is messing with the breakfast now too - not ketchup thankfully - today he announced he liked his cereal crunchy and would not be having milk. Ah such is the joy of parenting.

These bad boys are a taste sensation with pasta

Sunday, 7 November 2010

On the flipside

Toddler boy has been a dream on the food front. From baguette to broccoli, squash to spaghetti he would eat it if I cooked it. Down the local playgroup I was the annoying mother declaring, "oh mine will eat anything, yes even vegetables", while trying to tone the smugness down from a modest grin to a manageable smile. They are still talking to me so I'm guessing I managed alright; either that or they knew what was coming. If pride comes before a fall I've just tumbled down Everest. Someone has come in the night and swapped my compliant little man for a fussy faced food monster.

These last few weeks toddler boy's taste buds have revolted. All that passes his lips is now subject to the type of scrutiny that has tax evaders quaking. There is no hiding a bean behind a bit of pasta; he'll take it then spit the offending item out. And baby girl likes nothing better than to imitate her big brother; he doesn't eat it then neither will she. Double trouble. So what is off the menu...onions, courgette, mushroom, broccoli, cabbage...the list increases daily...nay hourly. Each and every meal time brings a new revelation and ramps up the horror for my inner chef.

off the menu..arggh

I've resorted to cunning measures to cram the goodness into them whether they like it or not. There is a delicious recipe for pasta sauce made from squash, with onions in there too - it tastes sweet and creamy - the perfect hiding place for veggies heading for toddler lips. Mind you, what works one day won't work the next. Oh I've learnt my lesson; no complacency here thanks.

And it isn't just the food groups he's particular about. Oh no. Let us not forget the grouping of the food on the plate. The potato mustn't touch the stew, beans on the left, fish fingers on the right etc. The ketchup (compulsory with all meals apart from the bowl of cereal in the morning and I fear it is only a matter of days before he demands it there too) has to be pooled neatly in the exact spot on the plate he indicates or all hell breaks loose. I swear a mad dictator could not be more demanding or persnickety. In a bid to allow him some sense of self - going on the premise that this flip in his behaviour is a developmental stage - please, please let it be so - I'm going along with some of this. Plus I do need him to eat something; if all his meals go in the bin with nothing 'till the next meal childhood obesity won't be an issue in this house.

Humbled I head towards another week of kitchen hit'n'miss. If all else fails we'll dig out the baked beans and bulk buy the fish fingers; at least that is two major food groups covered. And now in playgroup I can smile in empathy with the other mums who suffer the whims of toddler appetites; so much easier on the facial muscles. I could probably cut back on the anti-wrinkle cream thanks to this; ah a silver lining.