Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Ten on Tuesday

A last-minute entry, linking up with the lovely ten-on-tuesday-ers: here, here and here.
1. Westboy was incredibly irritating last week. It turns out he was coming down with the D&V bug that's going round (a hideous double-whammy, where you think you're better and then it strikes again. Evil). And worse than a D&V bug? A D&V bug and a cough. So every time he coughed I thought he was going to vomit. I was very proud of my brainwave to tempt him to drink dioralyte by disguising it as a fruit shoot. They actually taste similarly grim. His choice of entertainment while lying on the sofa sobbing was Fred Dibnah's railway documentaries. I would honestly have prefered hours of 'beebies.

2. I found this lovely nativity set. We used it on crèche on Sunday, abandoning our usual strategy of using the same theme as the adults. (Judgement?? Hmmm... Let's skip to Christmas, right?!). I love this Russian-doll-style nativity set too.

3. Westbaby is walking & had his feet measured for the first time. Yikes, he's a toddler. That happened fast. 

4. My etsy shop is up and running!!! woooooooooooooooohooooooooooooooooo!!! I've had a lovely response to it, and it's been on my to do list for over a year, so just getting it done is wonderful. (...and in time for Christmas, so if you're looking for a gift for your sister, friend, mum, etc. head over and take a look... need to improve my self-promotion skills). I think I could lose myself in Etsy for several days, -so much beautiful stuff to see.

5. My current media fixes are Radio 6 during the day, Rev. & Strictly while washing up, Glee when tidying toys away, and the latest Lisa Hannigan album while driving (maybe not a great choice, given that one track is called 'Safe Travels (Don't Die)' and another 'Sleep'. Might need to stick another CD in the car...).

6. I've started doing my weekly food shop online. It's only marginally less stressful than Asda in a hailstorm with no suitable trolley and two small boys, as something always seems to go wrong at the payment stage. But at least I haven't ended up with 600 kilograms of onions, yet, which is always a possibility when you can't see what you're buying.
7. Autumn mirror (soon to be replaced by Christmas decorations, so better blog it before it's gone...)

8. Westbaby is like an Andrex puppy with thumbs. Any toilet roll he gets hold of ends up unrolled and shredded.
9. I'm ashamed to admit this, but I am incredibly excited about our new house-related purchase. A dehumidifier. I am fed up of wiping condensation off windows and mould from walls. And it's utterly fascinating, and really quite gross, seeing how much moisture it's able to suck out of the air in a fairly short amount of time.

10. Right, well, I'm used to the kind of writing where numerous academics pick apart every last punctuation mark and make you wait several years before what you've written goes public, so just hitting a 'publish' button is very unnerving, but here it goes....

Friday, 2 December 2011

Gruffalo Bread

This is Westboy's interpretation of the Gruffalo, depicted in bread rolls:

I'm not entirely sure which is the mouse, fox, owl, snake, & Gruffalo, or even why he thought it was Gruffalo bread (apart from having read the Gruffalo lots recently), but I like it... and it's more appetising than roasted fox, owl ice-cream, scrambled snake and Gruffalo crumble!


[It's the basic white bread recipe again, but with a shorter baking time, -about 18 minutes]


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A very speedy ten on a slightly hassled Tuesday...

1. Bullet point blogging. Awesome. I'm too tired to fully form thoughts & blog posts. And sentences too, it seems.

2. I had a lovely 45 minute web chat with my brother in Brisbane at 3am last night, so maybe being up with insomniac babies does have advantages...???

3. Westboy has started saying "I'm very tidy". What he means is "I'm very tired". Yes, I'm very tidy too.

4. Me: "It's Mummy and Daddy's anniversary on Sunday. Seven years ago we got married". Westboy: "Oh no!"

5. ...And I spent it puking. Annual expensive-dinner-out thoroughly derailed.

6. I'd really hoped to get my Etsy shop up and running over the weekend, but due to '5' it didn't happen. Hopefully sometime this week I'll get it all sorted.

7. It's the last Inspired@Oomoo craft evening before Christmas this Saturday (26th November). 6-9pm at the lovely Oomoo cafe on Smithdown Road. A wonderfully chilled way to get some present shopping done and spend time drinking coffee & eating cake with friends.

8. I bought a pack of mini Weetabix last week. I'm sure it's partly because I love their current tv ad. A family are eating breakfast together, comparing what the day has in store for them. Boy. Dad. Toddler. (Why's Mum left out??? I think I have a Mums-are-underrated complex). Anyway, I've started mentally editing my days into the Weetabix format.

9. I'm a clothes hoarder. I've recently lost some weight, so I've been delving into the back of my wardrobe and have discovered a whole load of clothes that I'd forgotten about. It's great! Like going shopping without spending any money.

10. This is amazing (both for the scarf-wearing inspiration, and the editing)


Friday, 18 November 2011


I've been taking product photos and getting my Etsy shop ready this week (in the snatches of time when the boys are both asleep!). I'm looking forward to launching it soon, but here's a preview...

...So exciting!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Spicy Butternut Soup & Crusty White Bread

Time for some food I think!

And to honour the title of this blog, some bread. 


In our house homemade bread is usually an accompaniment to soup (because that's the only way to convince Tom that a bowl of liquidised vegetables is in fact a meal...).

This is definitely my 'soup of the season'. I discovered it while flicking through magazines, waiting for a haircut (I think it was in Good Housekeeping). It's a perfect Autumn soup. Mildly spicy, velvety smooth, and downright delicious! 

The bread was made roughly to Nigella's basic white loaf recipe from 'How to be a Domestic Goddess'. I went through a phase of saving and freezing potato water (water that potatoes have been boiled in, -apparently it keeps the bread fresher for longer). However, I realised that this was an unnecessary eccentricity, given that loaves rarely make it through to the following day.

The recipe goes something like this: 500g strong white flour, 1 sachet fast action yeast, 1/2 tbsp salt, 1tbsp sunflower oil (Nigella says butter, but I need it to be dairy-free), and about 300ml warm water. I dissolve the salt in the water and mix the oil in too. Stir the yeast and flour, then add as much of the liquid as is needed to just form a dough. Knead in a mixer for 4 minutes (or about 15 mins by hand). Cover with oiled cling film and allow to rise for an hour, until doubled in size. Knock the dough back, form it into a ball, and place on a floured baking sheet or in a loaf tin. Cover this with the cling film and prove for half an hour. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 220C. Remove the cling film, slash the top of the loaf, and bake for 25-35 minutes, until there's a hollow sound when you tap the bottom of the loaf. 

For the soup: roast a butternut squash with a little oil until soft (this can be done as unpeeled slices, or peeled and diced). I usually do this in with the baking bread, but it doesn't take quite as long to cook, so make sure it doesn't burn. Heat a little oil in a large pan, and add (chopped) a large onion, small red chilli, garlic clove, large potato, carrot, 1tsp ground coriander, and a bay leaf. Cook gently for about 20 minutes until soft. Stir it occasionally. Add the roasted squash flesh, along with a 400ml tin of coconut milk, 1 litre vegetable stock, and plenty of seasoning. Leave to bubble for a few minutes, then discard the bay leaf (remember to do this, unlike me! I had to do some emergency sieving to remove the flecks of green from the soup). Give the soup a quick whiz with a stick blender. I overdid the chilli the first time, and it was fairly fiery despite having fished out as much as I could see. This time, I overcompensated, and would've liked a little more spice. 

I kept some of the roasted butternut squash aside for Westbaby, and both boys devoured the bread.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1. I'm still not sure whether this is a blog, or a very public diary that no-one knows about. This says that introverts need space to reflect and process their thoughts each day, and suggests writing a blog as way to achieve this. Well, I'm definitely an introvert, and I certainly need space to reflect, but I'm still a bit apprehensive about shouting my thoughts to a roomful of strangers. Or even people I know. Or maybe especially people I know.

2. I've just spent a week at my Mum & Dad's with Westboy and Westbaby, while our kitchen floor was ripped out, damp-proofed and replaced. Westboy missed Daddy so much. One night he woke and could only be resettled by a facetime call. They ended up both falling asleep face-to-face across a wi-fi connection. Very cute & really quite bizarre.

3. At my parents', Westbaby slept in my old cot, and Westboy slept in my old bed. Surreal.

4. I went to a couple of toddler groups while I was away. I've never met so many nannies! It was a bit of a culture shock.

5. This week Westbaby slept for 4 hours in the night. That's no big achievement for most nearly-10-month olds, but both of my boys have been appalling at sleeping. Westboy woke every hour or two until around his second birthday, and Westbaby seems to be heading down a similar route.... I don't talk to many people about how my boys sleep anymore. It mostly just attracts unsolicited advice, of the "have you tried..." variety. I've either tried it, have a good reason why I'm not going to try it, or simply lack the energy to try it. And anyway, it's a bit boring hearing about someone else's sleep, or lack of sleep, isn't it?!

6. I need to teach my boys to catch spiders. As.Soon.As.Possible. Tom won't, so I had to catch an enormous one that was guarding the stairs. [shudder]

7. I love this. I'm trying to work out which one to start with...

8. At church, we try to cover to the same theme in crèche as the main preach, in some form or other. I'm leading on Sunday, and it's on 'Beasts' in Revelation. Yikes! How do you tackle that one with a bunch of 0-3 year olds?!

9. Westboy has started calling me "muddy". He has difficulty with some speech sounds and has been referred for speech therapy. He had been calling me "baddy", so this is a heart-melting improvement :-)

10. We made this amazing stuff. Westboy played with it for ages. It's 1 scoop of baby oil mixed with 5 scoops of plain flour (the scoop I used was 1/4 US cup, because I didn't have much oil, but that made plenty for some good playing). It makes a silky smooth crumble mix, that holds together like moon sand, so you can sculpt and build sandcastles, cakes, ramps, ...and whatever else your imagination chooses. We mixed it in an ice cream tub, and played with it on a tray, using measuring spoons, silicone cupcake cases, and a car. It smells nice and moisturises your hands too (I hate how playdough smells and dries my skin out!). To keep Westbaby occupied, I sprinkled some flour on the floor, and we drew in it and enjoyed exploring the texture of it. Then they both took it in turns to help me clean up (ha ha ha!)

[Yeah, our floor is covered with black plastic. It's just until other bits of floor are dry enough to lay laminate. It's a pain, but worked well for drawing flour pictures!]

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Autumn flashback

It's been beautifully autumnal this week (in that lovely golden-leaves-and-blue-skies way, not the soggy-rainy-cold type of autumnal that we often expect). 

I've had the song 'Autumn Days' buzzing round my head. We sang it in assembly when I was at primary school, but I remember it was banned, because everyone used to sing "be-dooby-doo-doo" at the end of the chorus.  

Well, that might not actually be the reason why we stopped singing it. It could've been the end of Autumn.  Or teachers deciding that more specifically Christian songs with deeper theological truths would be more appropriate for our times of collective worship... 

...but that's the reason I remember.

While I was visiting Mum & Dad's, I found some art I did at school. Most of it is homeworks from year 7, so I was 11 years old (except the 'quilled' tree, which is from when I was about age 9, I think).

Here's a little autumn medley of recent photos, old art, and with an imaginary soundtrack of "Autumn Days"... 

Autumn days, when the grass is jewelled
And the silk inside a chestnut shell
Jet planes meeting in the air to be refuelled
All these things I love so well
So I mustn’t forget
No, I mustn’t forget
To say a great big thank you
I mustn’t forget.


Monday, 31 October 2011

Hello Monday

Hello School House [where I grew up]
Hello Autumn walks & acorns