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31.10.11

Clutter Cr*p!

What's the point in saving it all?
All this junk?
"I might need it someday"
Yeah, but you might not.

I'm at home everyday. Every. Day.
Surrounded by baskets of this. Baskets of that.
Plastic boxes of more this. Bags of more that.
The stuff will stay there, until we sort again. And just move it, to another bag, box or basket.
The clutter is slowly getting to me.
Nothing has a home.
Or the things that do have a home, find themselves driven out by more crap taking over.
I feel a stress and weight on my shoulders. I know exactly what causes some of it.
The clutter.
Cluttering my space. Closing in on us.
Making a small space even smaller.

The loft is full of it. In an ideal world, all I want in the loft is a Christmas tree and Christmas decorations.
And suitcases, awaiting another family holiday.

Why do we keep it all?

Do I really need another bowl?
Another vase?
Another candle?
Another basket? To home more crap.
More clutter.

I have candles which I don't burn.
Why not?
Really...why not?
I seem to have an OCD type feeling when it comes to some of these candles. I just don't want to burn them. I don't want them to melt down.
Either burn them, or throw them away!

Books!
Unread books.
Books we have read. But won't read again.

I looked round today, and realised, that if anything happened to me, or us, this "stuff" would go.
To the charity shops, to the tip. Meaning nothing to anyone else.

I look at the photos.
On our walls.
On our window sills.
On my digital photo frame.
One day, these images won't mean anything to anyone.
Someone's not going to care.
We will be nobody's.

I look at the canvas I have of the boys on the wall. Charles is 2 years and one month. Harry is just 1 week.
Its so special to me. Really really special and everytime I look at it I can't believe these two beautiful boys are mine. Came from me.
Part of me and part of their daddy.
But when we're gone.
What happens to the canvas?
Will one of the boys want it?
Will he proudly place it on his wall?
Will they fight over it? Both wanting to keep this special memory.
This special object?

Where's the black bin bag?

30.10.11

Halloween Hypocrites

I'm not a fan of Halloween, well its not Halloween I have a problem with...its Trick or Treating.
Particularly parents/children who knock at any house.

As a 26 year old even I feel uncomfortable and anxious at having groups of people, be it innocent children or troublesome teens, knocking on my door, especially when the evenings are so dark! I can't begin to imagine how scary it can feel for vulnerable adults and the elderly.

I also hate "trick or treat". Why should I have eggs thrown at my house/car or have my house/car/garden trashed just because I choose to not give children sweets?
And why do most children now expect money if sweets have run out?

It can take us a while to get Charles to sleep, and I'm sure other parents can sympathise with this, so for him to be woken by children asking for sweets would be extremely irritating.

And the other thing that gets me, is that if children are going to go trick or treating, at least put effort in. A great costume, face paint etc...A 99p mask or witches hat along with normal clothes really doesn't earn you the right to ask for a reward.

When I was a little girl we were taught, at home and at school that we do not take sweets from strangers. We do not approach strangers. And so on.
The message was so strong that a policeman would come in every year and drum the message into us.

Yet one this one day every year, hundreds of parents send their children out to knock on strangers houses and beg for sweets.
I don't even get the argument that people will only go/tell their children to only go to a house which is decorated for Halloween.
Maybe I am too over-sensitive about it but surely this is a great time for a Paedophile to encourage children to his/her house and befriend them (even if the parents go too)?

We have bought Pumpkins this year and will do so if the boys want to BUT they will never be allowed to go trick or treating.
A Halloween party, yes they can go to that.
But begging for sweets, no way.

Hint-of-Christmas Cakes

You just know Christmas is on its way when supermarkets have displays units dotted around the store in every available space full of chocolates, cakes and nuts.
Mmmm nuts (steady!!)
I think there should be a law that every house, at Christmas time, should have a bowl of assorted nuts somewhere. Accompanied with a nutcracker of course.

Cinnamon and apple candles.
Ooooo the smell of Christmas.
Everyone knows the smell of Christmas, and most love it.
The smell of mince pies, Christmas Cakes and Christmas puddings but in simple candle form. 0 calories! Who can complain?! (Of course I am not suggesting eating these candles)

Using some ingredients I just happened to have around and some mixed spice seasoning my mum no longer needed and passed on to me, I set about making some "hint-of-christmas cakes".
They smell like Christmas.
They taste like Christmas.
But they aren't Christmas cakes so its not like you're celebrating Christmas early ;-)

You will need....
125g butter
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
125g self raising flour
2 teaspoons of mixed spice seasoning
1 Bramley Apple
Raisins (handful of)
Chopped hazelnuts (handful of)
1 teaspoon of Golden Syrup

In a saucepan cook one Bramley apple (cubed and cooked in 1 teaspoon of demerera sugar and a tiny bit of water)
Once the apple chunks are soft, add a handful of raisins, and golden syrup.
Stir and leave to cool.

Add butter and sugar to a bowl and mix. Then add 1 egg and some flour, mix, add the 2nd egg and some flour, mix, then fold and mix the rest of the flour.
Add the mixed spice and mix again.
Add a handful (I used approx 50g) of chopped hazelnuts. Mix.
Then add the apple mixture and stir.

Transfer the mixture into cake cases (I was able to make 16) and then place in a preheated oven, 180 degrees, for 22 minutes (fan assisted oven)

Once cooked, eat warm (although they can seem a tiny bit soggy due to the apple) or leave to fully cool down.

These are so yummy that my husband, who is not a fan of apples, even ate one as did Charles! (He normally only takes one bite or just eats half.)
They are moist, have plenty of flavours which really go together well. Plus a variety of textures.

MERRY HINT-OF CHRISTMAS!

Please excuse the lack of photos. My netbook has died (RIP)

25.10.11

DIY Christening Reception Activities

Charles' Christening was a small affair, to keep family happy, and this is now a regret of mine. Although at the time Charles was only a week or so off from being six months and his other friends were younger so it seemed pointless in way.

We have six children coming to Harrys Christening. Not only so that Charles has some friends there to keep him company but also because we have formed strong relationships with their parents. 3 of Harrys Godparents happen to have children and these children are friends with Charles so they have to be there anyway.

I had planned to make them all a party bag. But with 4 or 5 birthday partys in the space of 3 months we're all sick of tripping up over small plastic toys.
I wanted to do something though to keep the children entertained and to keep them from getting bored and fed up. If the weather was guaranteed to be warm and sunny [its November, of course it wont be warm and sunny] then I would be hiring a bouncy castle to keep them happy but as this would be a risky choice.
I saw some activity packs at a garden centre at the weekend that were only 99p. Included were colouring sheets and crayons. Bargain packs and it would cost me just under £6 for the packs.
But, as frugal as I am and not wanting the children to lose the pencils and ignore the pieces of paper or leaving scrunched up paper on the floor.

So, back to plan A [the real reason we went to the garden centre was to buy just crayons]. Off I surfed to eBay and bought a job lot of crayons. 10 packs of 4 crayons for £2.49.
I will put half/three quarters of these in a tub on a table along with some homemade colouring sheets. The rest of the crayons left at home for Charles another day.

So a saving of £3.50 plus whatever money I’d of paid in Diesel to get to the garden centre. Also missing out on the aggravation of taking a toddler and baby out in the car, transport them around the garden centre just to get something I can make myself.

So, there we are. DIY activity packs.
Inexpensive and simple.
And the money I’ve saved can go towards new shoes ingredients to make some yummy treats for the children.

Oaty AppleBerry Crumble

We had to take Charles to an appointment this morning and on the way home I checked my phone for Facebook updates. A friend said she'd just popped an apple crumble in the oven. Immediately I fancied some Apple Crumble.
Once I had a little play with the boys, sorted Harrys nap and feed and got him to sleep I set to work on the crumble.

I love crumbles which have an oaty topping. We visited Pizza Hut a week and a half ago and I ordered what I expected to be an Apple Crumble with an Oaty topping but was left disappointed! Two tiny chunks of apple and a sponge topping. Shame on you Pizza Hut!
Since then I've had the craving for an Oaty Crumble.

Heres how I made my Oaty AppleBerry Crumble:

Ingredients:
Fruity base:
2fl oz water
2 Bramley Apples
Strawberries
Blueberries (I took mine from a pack of Sainsburys frozen Strawberry and Blueberry mix)
2 teaspoons of Golden Syrup
2 tablespoons of demerera sugar

Cook the apples along with the water and sugar. Once the apples start to get soft, add the strawberries and blueberries. Mix. Add the golden syrup and continue to mix until the apples are almost like a mush.

Then spoon into a oven proof bowl. Level out the top then prepare and add the topping.


Topping
1tbl spoon demerera sugar
150g oats
30g butter
100g crumble mix 
1 teaspoon of golden syrup

On a low heat, stir the oats, sugar and butter then add half of the crumble mix.
Stir until the oat start to brown then add to the top of the fruity base.
Level out then add the rest of the crumble mix. Then drizzle 1 teaspoon of golden syrup to the top of the crumble.

Place in the oven, preheated, at 180 degrees, for 25 minutes.

Then serve with cream....[I have no cream, damn!]....and enjoy!

24.10.11

Music Therapy

I was tagged me in a meme which originated over at MAD Blog Winner Mammywoo's blog.
Mammywoo explained how music played such a big part in her life. Have a read of what she had to say about it.
Our mission, if we choose to accept is:

If you would like to have a go, just pick;
3 beautiful songs.
3 different bands.
3 sets of lyrics that touch you in anyway you want to show.

Ok my first choice is sort of rebelling against the rules. Its not a beautiful song, the lyrics don't touch me but the song makes me feel happy.
We were introduced to it when we holidayed in Lanzarote in April this year. I was 27/28 weeks pregnant. It was a very last minute holiday [booked Tuesday, there on the Thursday] but it was the last chance we would spend quality time as a family of three before we became a family of four.
Every night, after dinner, we would attend the mini disco, giving Charles the chance to let loose and dance until he couldn't dance anymore.
There was the usual Superman, Hokey Kokey and so on....
Then there were the Spanish songs, we searched all of them when we got home but not knowing the song names and guessing the lyrics we struggled.
One in particular was a favourite of ours though and we were delighted when we found it.
As we played it Charles' eyes lit up, butterflies fluttered in my tummy and we all started moving.
I recorded the song on my phone and every now and then will play it to Charles, as well as watching the video on youtube and he runs around singing "Lanzarote again! Go to Lanzarote again! yaaaaay" as well as dancing. I'm not ashamed to admit that I now know all the dance moves and headed over to a translation site to see what the man is saying. Its not at all interesting, he's just telling us which moves to make.
Still to this day I get butterflies when I hear it. And it brings tears to my eyes.
It was when we got back from holiday that it hit me that I was having another baby and at the time, before, whilst on holiday and when we got back, I had feelings of guilt about being pregnant, about "ruining" life for Charles and this song took me away from those feelings.
I bring you.......Chu Chu Ua.

Second song is the classic that is, Bryan Adams: Everything I Do, I Do It For You.
This brings two memories for me. The most recent being my wedding reception. I had my first dance with my husband then second dance with my dad. I expected people to join in with the second dance but they didn't, they just stood and watched. It made it even more special actually. We danced to this song. I've had an odd relationship with my dad but at this moment I felt closer than ever.
My first memory of this song causes feeling on embarressment but also joy.
We had been to a birthday party at McDonalds. We got home and had an hour or so until we had to go to bed so we put my Bryan Adams single on, I grabbed my dolls and teddies and lined them up on the sofa, my brother collected his tennis racket and handed me the handle from a skipping rope.
We were on stage.
We sang, mimed, played the guitar, danced and basically rocked out for around 30 minutes....unaware that my dad had set up the video camera in the unstairs cupboard and had it aimed at us the whole time.
My brother takes it all quite seriously. He plays his guitar with such concentration.
I got very annoyed with my dolls and teddies for falling over every now and then. And kept picking at the plaster on my knee from a recent tumble over.
I then noticed the camera. *SHOWOFF ALERT* I put more effort into my singing. More effort into my danxing. Even though I was putting my all into it in the first place. Then.....once my brother ran off and I thought the filming had stopped......I picked my nose.
To this day the film humiliates me but the memories of us being a happy family back then makes me so happy.
This song helps to pause the horrible memories from when my dad left us.
I think this was one of the first songs where I actually listened to the words and realised how powerful lyrics can be.
Look into my eyes - you will see
What you mean to me
Search your heart - search your soul
And when you find me there you'll search no more

Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for
You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for
You know it's true
Everything I do - I do it for you

Look into your heart - you will find
There's nothin' there to hide
Take me as I am - take my life
I would give it all - I would sacrifice

Don't tell me it's not worth fightin' for
I can't help it - there's nothin' I want more
Ya know it's true
Everything I do - I do it for you

There's no love - like your love
And no other - could give more love
There's nowhere - unless you're there
All the time - all the way

Oh - you can't tell me it's not worth tryin' for
I can't help it - there's nothin' I want more
I would fight for you - I'd lie for you
Walk the wire for you - yeah I'd die for you

Ya know it's true
Everything I do - I do it for you

And my third choice. Well it had to be didn't it.......Ricky Martin. Vuelve.
I've mentioned before about how much I love this man and this song.
I could list every single song by Ricky Martin. This one though is my ultimate favourite. Its a Spanish song, and the title of one of my favourite albums of his. The video is equally as amazing as the song. I walked down the aisle on my wedding day to Private Emotion. And was lucky enough to see at Earls Court around 10 years ago! [Being afraid of heights has its benefits, our seats were changed from stupidly high up to around 10 rows back from the left of the stage, where noone else appeared to be seated. Also happened to be the place Ricky Martin went off stage for outfit changes!) My dream was to hear him perform this song live, especially as I was going through a tough time when we saw him, and my dream came true.
I used to listen to this song all the time back then. It made me feel happy, comforted, made me relax. It always felt like a great big hug. And it still does.