Sunday, 23 September 2012

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Thrifty finds

I've always been partial to a good rummage in a charity shop. Rifling through old postcards, finding old, much loved copies of favourite books and spotting the clothing gems. All fantastic ways to spend an afternoon.

Now that I'm on maternity leave, and have the excuse of shopping for a baby that seems to grow overnight, I'm frequenting my local charity shops much more regularly. I get to shop for bargains and stop for tea and cake sometimes and Baby I gets cooed over by all the old lady volunteers. Win-win surely?! 

This week I had one of those moments in a charity shop where you spot something and have to grab it asfastasyoucanjustincasesomeoneelseseesit. Three vintage puzzles just waiting to be bought. Yes, yes, I know that Baby I has only just developed the coordination to pick up a toy and put it in her mouth without bashing herself on the head (mostly...) but she'll grow into them. I couldn't just leave them there! 

I love them, especially the little faces of the bus passengers! 

I also picked up a sweet cotton top - a tad large for Baby I at the moment but she'll grow into it! I thought it was older than it was when I saw the embroidery but it's actually quite new.

Off to an NCT Nearly New Sale tomorrow so I'll be doing some more rummaging for bargains. Elbows at the ready!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Cerulean Blue

The sky was a brilliant blue this morning - proper September sunshine.

I wandered in the garden, chatting to bebe, showing her the flowers, hanging out the washing and despairing at what the slugs have done to my courgette plants...booo!

All in all, a much better start to the week than last Monday when I was bleary-eyed through lack of sleep with a poorly, sneezy baby girl to look after.

Baby yoga tomorrow! Come on legs, get bending!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

4 months

 Dear Baby I,

Today you are 4 months old. One third of a year. 124 days. It feels like we've only known you for a split second, but also that you've always been here. Our little packet of baby.

Working the parachute pant look...!

 At 4 months, you are...
...smiling at the faces that you know (and even those that you don't, you little charmer!) The best smiles of the day are always first thing in the morning. It's a good start to the day.
...burbling away in your own little language - aguuu, giving yourself a bubbly beard and little baby sighs seem to be your favourite sounds at the moment.
...kicking your legs. It's no wonder you have to sleep a lot, the amount you wriggle around. Kicking in the bath always makes you smile, as does kicking your legs when you have some (danger! danger!) nappy free time.
...sucking your thumb. You've been doing this since you were about 4 weeks old. Currently, the left thumb tastes best.
...chewing anything you can get your hands on - toys/car seat straps/mummy's arm/daddy's hand/blanket. Your gums are getting rather hard and you've been grinding your jaw...uh oh! Teeth!
...getting heavier and longer every day. You're about 65cm long now and I'm betting on you being 13lb 5oz when we get you weighed tomorrow.
...getting oh so strong. You've got less of a marionette head wobble going on now and your current favourite trick is to launch yourself backwards when you're being held whilst crying. You like standing up in short bursts, but then you get jelly legs again and flop back down.
...rocking the washable nappies now that your thighs have chunked up a bit!
...getting much stronger at pushing your head up when you're on your front. And then you flop and lie there sucking your thumb. You'll get there I'm sure!
...perfecting the bottom lip tremble that means that we will do anything we can to make you smile again. I'm sure that bottom lip pout will be used to good effect when we hit toddlerdom.
...oh so close to giving us a giggle - we're settling for the open mouthed 'ha!' at the moment!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Maypoles and Teatowels: Mellor Ware

Image from here

Image from here

These charmingly quirky illustrations adorning tea-sets, tea towels, trinket boxes and more are by Lianne Mellor, aka Mellor Ware. There seems to be an inherent British-ness to Lianne's work - it's reminiscent of the stories of Fantastic Mr Fox, The Wind in the Willows and one of my childhood favourites, Little Grey Rabbit by Alison Uttley. 

I came across Mellor Ware this morning after reading a tweet from Liberty about 'Best of British' designers. That's what I like about Twitter - being introduced to such a diverse wealth of crafts/people/books/fashion in such an immediate way.

Mellor Ware's website is here.

Monday, 10 September 2012


After having discovered a recipe for plum and orange jam in an old Delicious magazine, I hunted down some in-season super cheap plums and set to work. I'm not the world's most experienced jam maker - I've only made marmalade a few times and a vat of raspberry jam, so I wasn't sure how this would turn out or how easy it would be. Turns out the hardest thing was trying to make it in between baby naps! (Quelle surprise...should've made it on a day when I wasn't home alone!)

The recipe doesn't seem to be on the Delicious website, but it's dead easy - quartered slices of orange are cooked down in orange and lime juice until soft. You then add a pile of stoned, roughly chopped plums and cook until mushy. Pour in the sugar, bring to the boil and simmer until it reaches setting point. The recipe recommended using a proper jam thermometer, but I settled for the much simpler dollop-of-jam-on-a-plate-in-the-fridge-does-it-go-wrinkly? approach! And I've got to say, it tastes pretty darn good! (The recipe also called for ground cardamom seeds but I'm not a fan so decided to forgo those).

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Ludlow Food Festival

I'm a bit of a food lover. I don't just love eating it (although that's the best bit, surely?!), I love the whole cookery process - planning what to eat, wandering round the supermarket (or sometimes madly dashing whilst trying to pacify a crying baby...), trying out new ingredients, and watching other people enjoy what I've made.

Today we went to the Ludlow Food Festival and I could indulge the foodie in me...big time. As we walked through the market square into the castle grounds, we were following our noses - sausages sizzling, ready to be put in a bun and smothered in ketchup. Paper thin crepes drenched in lemon juice and sugar. Pig roast, meltingly tender, with crunchy crackling and chunky apple sauce. Too much choice! You know that thing about not going to the supermarket when you're hungry? Yeah... don't arrive at a food festival when it's lunchtime and you haven't eaten since you got up with the baby at 7am. We dithered and we dallied, until finally joining the long queue for the pig roast - everyone else having made the same choice as us! I wolfed mine down in a most unladylike manner, ending up with greasy fingers but a very contented smile! Ahhh, the sun was shining, the baby was snoozing on my front, and I was full of good food...the stress of finding a parking space had been worth it!

On entering the main marquee, we were hit by the sweet tang of cider in the air. Unfortunately, breastfeeding and pints of beer don't mix, otherwise I definitely would've been tasting what the local breweries had to offer! I instead settled for an apple, raspberry and mint juice which was refreshingly cool - much needed in a hot, busy tent when you've got a hot water bottle/baby strapped to your front. We wandered around the different stalls eyeing up smoked cheeses, beautifully decorated chocolates (that's them there in the photo...oh my!), huge slabs of cake and punnets of ripe fruit. I loved the look of the handmade butter, and the butter and whey in the churn. Honeycomb ice-cream, from a local ice-cream maker, was deliciously smooth and crunchy in equal measure.

The food festival, although having its main base in the grounds of the castle, spreads across the rest of the town. There are popular sausage, ale and bread trails (maybe next year!) that you can pay to try, and many other stalls dotted through the narrow lanes. I love the restrained splendour of Ludlow. It's full of beautiful Georgian houses with wonky 12 pane windows, Tudor wooden framed black and white buildings and the wonderfully vintage looking shop fronts such as the butchers and the bakers on the market square, yet it feels so unassuming. I definitely need to explore it some more.

I'll definitely head back to the festival next year...but perhaps on the Sunday when it's a little quieter (so I can elbow my way towards the food samples a little more easily!)

Friday, 7 September 2012


It's very odd going from a job that keeps you busybusybusy with numerous tasks to do to being at home with baby - still busybusybusy with lots to do, but busy in a very different way. I've decided to make myself a list of 'tasks' each month. A list of craft projects that remain unfinished, books that need to be read, places to be visited and food to try cooking. I'm hoping that it will focus me on attempting some of them in the evenings, instead of flopping on the sofa. (I'll still do that a bit though, sometimes it's just necessary!)

  • Sort out my 600+ photos from holiday. Done!
  • Finish my labour blanket - so called because I started it the day before I went into labour, and carried on with it between contractions! (Mad!) Unfortunately it hasn't been touched since!
  • Make a dress for baby girl - I've got the fabric, the pattern, the baby to wear it...just haven't done the hard bit yet!
  • Make red onion marmalade - this was on last year's September list, whoops! I want to give some if it away as Christmas presents, and it's always best when it's left for a few months before eating so I need to get a wriggle on.
  • Dribble bibs - Baby I seems to be a bit of a dribble machine at the moment, and I'm bored of all the cutesy pastel bibs so I want to make some out of bright, patterned fabric...she'll be the envy of all her baby chums!
  • Visit Ludlow for the Food Festival. I've wanted to go to this for a few years. My Grandma used to live in Ludlow and we visited all her old haunts in the Spring when I was heavily pregnant. I'm looking forward to going back in a less waddley state and being able to show Baby where her Great Great Great Grandad lived, and where her Great Grandma used to buy her sweets! 

I've been a bit busy...

Somehow, I've managed to neglect this place for a year. A whole year! Whoops.

I have had good reason though...

Baby I was born in the middle of May and we're absolutely besotted. She's not that little tiny thing any more though!

She's a smiling, kicking, rolling, dribbling (oh the dribble! How can one little person make so much?!) girl! Nearly 1/3 of a year old. I always thought it was just one of those things that people said - "Oh they grow so fast" - but it's so true. Doesn't seem 5 minutes since she was a tiny little scrunched up newborn.

Suffice to say, much of last year's September plans list didn't happen:

  • Make a new batch of red onion marmalade, as we are (eek!) nearly at the end of our last jar! Morning sickness and hot vinegar are not a good combination.
  • Find some new batch cooking recipes to try out. (We are big fans of batch cooking during term time as it requires no brain power at the end of a long day!) Suggestions welcome! Batch cooking did happen - once I was on maternity leave!
  • Visit Upton House and Gardens (it's been on my day out wish list for a while!) I want to go and coo over the kitchen garden! Nope, still haven't been there!
  • Speaking of gardens, I need to plant Swiss Chard, Spinach and more salad leaves.  No gardening happened because we bought our first house this year (nothing like keeping yourself busy eh?!) but I have big plans...for 2013 maybe!
  • Go searching for sloes and bung them all in the freezer 'til I can make gin!  Pregnancy and gin are not the greatest bedfellows. Maybe this year!
  • Hunt down this book in my local library and read it - I find I forget to read during term time - I get to bed and it's Zzzzzz before I even pick up my book!  Well I can't say anything has changed with regards to the going to bed and falling asleep before picking up my book - but I have been ploughing my way through a mountain of virtual books during the numerous night feeds thanks to the kindle app on my phone. I'll have to add Year of the Flood to that list!
So, my September resolution is to try and keep this a little more up to date (that won't be hard, the rate I was blogging before. Ha!) so I may as well start as I mean to go on!