Monday, 25 April 2011


Have you ever been bought a pot grown miniature rose for a gift, loved it and tended it and then had it die on you after only a few weeks?  It's happened to me a few times, leaving me feeling guilty for managing to kill my gift... until I discovered the secret...
They actually crowd several small bush miniatures into the pot for the maximum number of flowers, the ppoor things are massively overcrowded in those pots, so no wonder they flower and die!

I discovered this last summer.  My sister had been staying with her children and bought me a gorgeous yellow miniature rose bush.  After a few weeks it started to die so I thought I would try re-potting.  I discovered that there were five plants in the pot.  I was too late to save three of them, but the other two, in their own individual pots, trimmed back and cared for, are still thriving today.

Big C knows I love flowers, he knows that I prefer them alive, and he knows that I have discovered the miniature rose secret...

so look what I got for our anniversary:

Not just a pot of roses, but eight beautiful red miniature rose plants!

Long live roses!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Losing Control

Sorry, I deleted this post because I'm too ashamed of my temper.

Monday, 18 April 2011


Clothes are the bane of my life.  I hate shopping for them.  I hate when they don't fit.  I'm not all that fond of washing, drying, ironing and folding them either.  I am, however, relatively cheap with my clothing requirements!

When I was little I remember that we had a system - every Spring and Autumn we would all (me and two sisters) bring our clothes through to mum's bedroom, and she would bring out a suitcase and a couple of bags of clothes from the attic.  These consisted of clothes that were suitable for the upcoming season and hand-me-downs from cousins.  All these things were either new to the family or hadn't been seen for six months, so it was like getting a whole bunch of new clothes!  We would try things on and put things that fit into our heap, and then take them back to our room and arrange them in our wardrobe and drawers.  After that mum would check to see what we were short of.  We would then, in turn or in pairs, sit next to her with the catalogue, she would turn the pages and write a list for each of us of the things that we liked.  She was then able to fill any gaps in our wardrobes from the catalogue knowing that she was buying to our taste.  We would also sometimes get good clothes for a bargain from charity shops.  I'm not certain that my memory of this system is entirely accurate (mum'll let me know when she reads this post), but I think it's good, and so back to how I manage my clothing now...

I have a list of what clothes I think I need in any given season.  Bear in mind here that I'm an outdoorsy stay-at-home-mum living in Scotland, so would have different requirements to people who go out to work every day in a smart office requirement and live in warmer climates.  Here's the list:

  • underwear - 4 bras, 2 pale coloured and 2 dark coloured, so that there's always one of each type to wear when one is in the wash.  10 pairs of pants.  10 pairs of socks (varying thicknesses depending on season).  I hate tights, but tend to have a black pair and a nude pair on standby, and usually a thick pair for the winter. 
  • tops - 8 in various styles - t-shirts, long sleeved, vest tops, blouses/shirts, smarter tops etc. for wearing separately, layering and so on.  More thick, long sleeved in the winter, more vest tops in the summer, but not exclusively as I like to layer.
  • bottoms - a comfy skirt, a dress (not at the moment as I'm breastfeeding!), a smart skirt or pair of trousers for going out/looking nice, about 3 pairs of more comfortable pairs of trousers/jeans.
  • Jumpers/sweaters - about 7, some thinner ones and a couple of thicker ones for the Summer, big thick woolly or fleecy ones for winter, a couple of smarter ones etc.
  • Messy wear - a couple of pairs of trousers/tops/jumpers suitable for walking the dog and messing about in the garden (I'm actually not very good at remembering to put these on, so my other clothes get quite a rough ride).
  • Active wear - trousers, shorts, wicking tops, microfleeces etc for jogging, exercise bike, cycling, exercise DVD and hillwalking (ha ha, I may get around to all this again one day!)
  • Nightwear - a couple of pairs of PJs for trekking up and down for night feeds.  I like to get them in co-ordinating colours so that it doesn't matter which top goes with which bottoms, but in reality I'll just as often be wearing an old t-shirt and joggers combo.
  • Coats - a lightweight waterproof for dog walking, a good waterproof for hillwalking and really wet dog walking, a warm or fleece jacket (or 2), a smarter jacket.
  • Shoes - trainers for exercise, trainers for everyday wear/dog walks, walking boots, wellies, old trainers for garden, comfortable sandals for Summer, flip-flops/crocs for around the house, smart boots, smart shoes.
Every 3 months I get all my clothes out and have a sort through into the following categories:
  • worn out - these then go to the repair pile, the rag bag or the bin.
  • "let's face it I will never fit in this again" or "I might fit in it again, but life has moved on and I probably wouldn't wear it" - these go to the charity shop or to the rag bag for reworking.
  • "I might fit in this again one day" - these go back in the bag
  • wrong season - back in the bag
  • correct season and it fits! - I then choose clothes from this heap to fit my list (preferably different ones than I had in my drawers for the last 3 months).  
In this way I feel as though I have a whole new wardrobe four times a year, when actually I'm just re-discovering clothes that have been packed away for a while.  I then only buy clothes when a gap appears in my stockpile (I seem to wear out trousers very quickly), when I change size, or if I see or think of a particular item that I'd really like.

Please comment and tell me how you arrange your wardrobe affairs...

Thursday, 14 April 2011

An easy and tasty lunch with friends

Some friends were coming for lunch.  

There wasn't much in the fridge (a lettuce, some cheddar, half a ball of mozzarella, half a tin of tomatoes and some bacon).  

I was out swimming with the little ones during the morning and then needed to head home to feed one and settle the other for a nap, so no time to roam around the supermarket.  

Instead we hopped out at the local co-op, grabbed some milk, some cherry tomatoes, a baguette and half a cucumber and then made our way home.  

While Little C sat chatting in his cot (not napping) I stuck Daisy in the sling and got busy.  Using the contents of my store cupboard I prepared a "tea-cup fruit loaf" (recipe below), and while it was at the cooling stage before going in the oven, made eight french bread pizzas and some salad.

Result - a yummy lunch with next to zero effort, to which the lovely Gemma, Louise and Steve added some crisps, some more bread, tuna etc.  Daisy and Little C did me proud and were duly admired and I had a lovely restful, sociable afternoon.

Tea Cup Fruit Loaf:
 - 1 cup sultanas, 1 cup raisins, 1/2 cup currants, 1/2 cup soft brown sugar, 1/4 cup soft sunflower spread, 1/2 cup cold tea, 1/2 cup apple juice, 2 cups self-raising flour, 1tsp mixed spice.
  • Put all the ingredients except the flour and spice into a pan and warm over a low heat until the fat has melted.  Then bring to the boil and bubble for two minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool until lukewarm.
  • Mix in the flour and spice and then tip into a lined loaf tin.
  • Bake in the oven at 180 degrees C for 1 and 1/4 hours.
  • Turn out from the tin, remove the greaseproof paper.
  • Serve sliced, warm or cooled and with or without butter.
For the French bread pizzas (vegetarian):
 - 1 baguette, lump of Cheddar cheese, half a ball of Mozzarella cheese, 1tsp Herbes de Provence, 1/2 can of chopped tomatoes.
  • Bubble the tinned tomatoes over a high heat for five minutes to reduce.
  • Chop the baguette into quarters and then cut each piece in half lengthwise.  Arrange cut side upwards on a baking tray.
  • Grate a chunk of Cheddar cheese and roughly chopped half a ball of mozzarella.
  • Spread the tomatoes onto the bread, sprinkle with the cheese and then a sprinkle of Herbes de Provence.
  • When friends arrive, put in the hot oven (hot because you're making the fruit loaf) for five or ten minutes and serve!
For the salad:
 - Romaine lettuce (allow 1 leaf per person), a handful of cherry tomatoes, about 10cm of cucumber, a spring onion per person, 1tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • Chop the lettuce leaves and then rinse and drain.
  • Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and then slice (about 1/2cm thick).
  • Trim the spring onions and cut into pieces about 2cm each.
  • Mix the spring onion, cucumber, lettuce and cherry tomatoes and sprinkle with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Long time... what's going on with me?

Ok, so no pics with this post because otherwise it'll be another week before I post it.  A quick precis of how we're doing here.  Over the last few weeks: 

  • Daisy has been feeding a lot and has piled on the weight.  She is most definitely not a newborn any more but a solid little girl.
  • I've had a lot of help.  In the first week after the birth my parents-in-law were here until the Thursday, the following Tuesday my sister-in-law arrived until the Saturday, then Big C had a week of holiday and two weeks Paternity Leave, then my mum came up for two weeks.  
  • This has been great as it's meant Little C getting plenty of attention and having time to adjust to little sister, I haven't had to worry too much about dog-walking, laundry or ironing and have had cups of tea on tap.  
  • It has meant though that the lack of normal routine and handfuls of late nights has built into a heap of over-tiredness for Little C so that his daytime naps and settling to sleep at night are all over the place - a bit of a concern since he's going to need  to move into a "big boy bed" and new bedroom in a couple of weeks so that Daisy can have the cot.  Being tired also has a big impact on his behaviour.  He's a smashing little boy, but can be a little trying when he's tired!
  • Anyway, this is now day 3 of managing two of them on my own and while the housework has pretty much been abandoned (sorry Fly Lady - I will find time again soon!) I have managed the laundry and to get dinner done each day.  Part of the success I think is making sure that I get washed and dressed and that the children are dressed before 8am.  That way we are ready for the day.  I'm lucky that Little C is just at a stage of increasing independence, so he's quite happy to play pretty much on his own in the garden for an hour while I feed Daisy in the kitchen.
  • Today as been a breakthrough because I have successfully been able to put Daisy down for an hour in her bouncy chair!  Up until now, any time I put her down in the chair or her bed (even when she was sound asleep) she would wake up after no more than 15 minutes and scream the place down, so she's spent most of the last couple of days in arms or in the sling.  I also think we might be ready to try putting her to bed at around 8pm rather than 10pm, so will try that tonight.
So there we are.  As you can see - at the moment it's absolutely all about the children.  Speaking of which, Little C has now been chatting in his cot for an hour and is clearly not going to sleep despite being very tired, so I'll get him up, give him some lunch and try again in an hour.