Saturday, October 22, 2011


My first baby is 13 today.

I can still remember his birthday very clearly.  I spent most of the day before on my hands and knees cleaning the cupboards of the tiny cottage that we were in the process of moving into.  That night I went home to finish packing the old house and went in to labour about 2am.  4 days later I came out of hospital to the new house where John had made my bed, and arranged an arm chair and coffee table in the tiny lounge in the middle of all the boxes.  I spent 4 months ignoring advice to 'put him down' and cuddled him, fed him, played with him.  Then I went back to work part-time, and then after 18 months there was another baby in that tiny house.

I've always been sorry that I didn't get more time with him before I had to go back to work.  Now I struggle with the thought of going back and Smallest is 3 and a half!   I can honestly say that despite the usual dramas and issues, he is proving to be a thoroughly likeable young man, with a good sense of humour and an inquiring mind.  I am certain that one day he will be a very good catch for some young lady.

His birthday has been better than he was anticipating - long story involving wifi, phone bills, and staying up too late - so he was delighted when we gave him the book he had asked for rather than the promised phone bill, tied with a ribbon.  I managed to fool him for a wee while and then gave him the iPod Touch that he had been asking for for over a year!  He was so surprised and delighted!  "Mum, you rock!".    I do.

I had previously said that 12 would be the last birthday for homemade cakes, but started to feel guilty as they really are so easy.  So I had a think about what might be suitable for a teenage boy.  He had no particular idea so I googled.  I came up with Rainbow cakes but thought they might be a bit too girly and decided to use shades of blue instead.

No 2 boy helped to divvy up the mixture into 4 bowls and then add increasing amounts of blue food colouring.  We did 2 cakes at at time, cooled them, trimmed them flat so as to avoid the old 'Leaning Tower of Pisa' effect and stuck them in the freezer over night.  All good so far...  Today was a whole other story!  It has been very warm so when I was making my buttercream, the butter melted, separated and would not cooperate.  It has been in the freezer since 4pm and is still runny!  This meant I had to race to Woolies and buy some of that revolting tinned frosting (apoplogies to those of you that like it...!).  I slapped it in between the layers and all over the outside, crossing my fingers tightly that it would work and not just be some lame-looking white cake!  Thankfully all turned out well in the end and he was suitable impressed.

After a very laid back day of playing with his new iPod, reading his book and a (very) small amount of housework, we headed out for dinner.  One of the wee ones happened to mention it was Archie's birthday so when the drinks came, his was in one of those fancy flashing cocktail glasses, and at the end they brought sparklers in his dessert!  We were really delighted for him as being the oldest has a lot of downsides with so many younger sibs vying for, what should be, your attention.   And mostly getting it.

Anyway, he had a great day and is off to the football with his Dad WITHOUT brothers tomorrow, I hope he feels special.  I am feeling a whole lot older that I did with my tiny baby 13 years ago.  I hadn't a clue but was deliriously happy.  I still haven't a clue and am now just mostly fairly delirious!

Happy Birthday to my lovely Archie.  xx

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Muffins - Fast and Fantastic

The title of my post is actually the name of a book by Susan Reimer, unsurprisingly about making great muffins quickly!

Susan is the wife of one of Husband's colleagues from Edinburgh and we always laughed that this little book had sold more copies than those of all the academics put together (until a little one about Star Wars obviously...!).  I just found mine again in a box in the garage at the weekend and spent Saturday evening half watching a film and half reading the intro and Notes on Muffin Making.  Susan came to the UK from North America and was thrown by the different use of weight and volume, different types of flour and different temperatures so she experimented until she got what she wanted.  These experiments often made their way to New College and Dr Reimer's office was the place to be in the morning.

I never really got on with my oven in the UK, not sure why, and have various scribbles in my copy to adjust times, temps etc.  There are all kinds of notes from Susan herself to adjust this if using that etc, which all helps.  This afternoon we went with the Summer Fruit Muffins and they turned out to be even lighter and fluffier than any I've made recently.  I managed to make enough for everyone for afternoon tea, then enough for packed lunches tomorrow.  I guess I'll be making more in the morning!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another Scarf...

Just wanted to pop in and show you that I have managed a wee bit of hooky lately.  I'm working away on my latest Granny Square but it is slow progress when you are using 4 ply wool and a 3.5 hook.

Anyway, the lovely teacher who received this scarf, handed me a bag of the most scrumptious wool at the kid's Sports Day and asked if I could make her a Winter scarf, so here it is.  I can't find the label but it was a wool cashmere mix - I think... and is super soft.  Again, the usual, unimaginative UK Tr Crochet stitch, but I think it looked ok and I have just received a message to say she loves it!

Not the best photo but I was taking it as I was running out the door to pick Smallest Boy up from Pre-school.  I was told off by a friend recently for not taking photos of everything I make so made the effort to remember!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Oct Hols and 10 things...

Wow these holidays have flown by.  We have one day left then the weekend and back to school.  No INSET/Pupil Free days this term, just straight back to business - pheew!  I do love my Mondays to myself.

Since we last spoke there has been the usual beach action, a visit to Newcastle Museum, a good spring-clean, we survived the first week without Husband, hanging out with friends and a trip to watch Mary Poppins in Sydney.  If you live locally, own a small girl, love musicals and haven't been you really should try to get hold of some tickets.  It was fabulous.  It was Miss M's rather belated birthday present but well worth the wait.  We watched the film again the next day and she decided that the play was definitely her favourite.

I received an email earlier in the week from Cheryl at NUMBER FIVE to invite me to share in a wee link up to share with you 10 Things You Didn't Want To Know About Me...  Well, in the interests of general nosiness, here goes.

1.  I'm a fast food Nazi.  My children have been successfully brainwashed to dislike the Golden Arches and their unpleasant friends.  I can whip up a healthy pasta dish in 15 mins so why bother wasting money on food that doesn't fill them?

2.  I cried until my 20 week scan when I found out we were having no5!  People started to avoid me when they saw me coming!  I was all set to start applying for my Masters and was devastated.  His was the hardest labour, I had terrible mastitis, until I begged my GP for the drugs I had found online that she had to then order specially, but I am SO glad to have him!

3.  I get extremely cranky if I don't get enough sleep.  Unfortunately Smallest still thinks that it is his responsibility to climb in and "keep [me] comfy" at 2.30am.

4.  I am a Boys Mummy.  Obviously I have a daughter and I am a girl, but I find boys a whole lot easier to understand and deal with.

5.  I am hopelessly untidy and love having 5 slaves to tidy up for me!  Bribery and corruption works every time.

6.  Since having children my brain has turned to mince.

7.  I regularly fall asleep on the sofa and miss the last crucial 5-10mins of tv programs.  Thankfully we now have a T-Box which has a rewind function.

8.  Since I got my lovely DSLR camera nearly a year ago, I have taken to date 7422 photos.

9.  I really don't understand Twitter.

10.  I am very easily distracted and have far too many WIPs, books and projects currently on the go.

There.  Now I am to ask 5 of you to join me, so over to you

Jules at Little Woolie
Emma at Emma Varnam's Blog
Janette at The Green Dragonfly
Louise at Tea at Weasel's
Kylie at Blue Teacups