Saturday, April 01, 2017

Cookery Calendar Challenge: March

This month I cooked two recipes from James Martin's Masterclass, which is one of the many books I have on, ahem, extended loan from my mum! First up was polenta with wild mushrooms and parmesan. I chose this as I have been keen to try polenta, and also wanting to try and incorporate a few more meat-free dishes into our diet. Unfortunately, I overlooked the fact that I'm not a great fan of mushrooms, and so perhaps this wasn't a wise choice!

I also didn't realise that the cooling time required for the polenta was a lot longer than the cooking time for the mushrooms, as the recipe wasn't clear on how long to cool it for. Having already ended up making it on a night when I just wanted a quick dinner, because the mushrooms needed using, I'm afraid impatience got the better of me and I forged ahead with the frying of the polenta "squares" despite the fact that they were clearly collapsing as I tried to cut them. So, it was not a successful dish but more down to user error than anything wrong with the recipe! The Husband raved about it, and I must admit whilst texturally dubious, the polenta tasted delicious, although I think anything with that much butter and cheese in it would! I want to try and use the polenta again, with proper cooling time, and as there is plenty left in the bag, I may well do!

Next up was tandoori cod steaks. The fillets I got weren't as thick cut as I'd expected, I think cod loin would have been better, but this was a brilliant dish. The spice mixture was easy to make, and I had all of the various ingredients in the cupboard from previous curry recipes. After marinating the fish for a few hours, it cooked under the grill in ten minutes, and was full of flavour. I always enjoy curried fish when I choose it from a menu, and it was great to be able to recreate that style of dish at home. A great way to incorporate more fish into our diets, and a recipe I'll definitely be returning to again.

In a bid to use up some of the polenta, I tried to make these sweet potato fries from the BBC Good Food website this week. Alas, mine turned out dusty, rather than crunchy, so I continue on the hunt for a way to make my home-cooked sweet potato fries taste like the crispy coated ones I have eaten elsewhere! Any suggestions welcome!

The Cookery Calendar Challenge is the wonderful creation of Penny at The Homemade Heart, do use the button below to check out the other posts and see what recipe books people have been dusting off this month.

first things first

The first of April.

Last month was the first month since October when I didn't complete the running challenge I signed up for. Whatever bug I've had seems to have really wiped me out this time, and I decided to stop trying to push myself to carry on with it when my body seems to be in need of some rest. I'm hoping to get back out soon, especially now the weather is nicer, as I always feel good when I've been for a run, but for now I'll try and get back to full health first.

Monday marks The Husband's first day in his new job, having finished at his previous role on Friday. It will be big changes for him, travelling by train, working in a new organisation, taking on a more senior role. It is very exciting but having been in his last job for several years it feels like a major transition. 

For me, life has hit a gentle lull of routine. T and I pass our weeks with regular trips to the library, the swimming pool, walks to the park and visits to my parents and Grandad. Time is flying by and he is looking more and more like a little boy rather than a baby. It's easy to feel that there is nothing new happening, but every week brings changes, a myriad of tiny firsts, that are so small, and happen so quickly, I barely notice them. Then suddenly, I look back, and realise that he is doing so much more, and growing up before my eyes! Here's to noticing the little firsts that April brings, as well as the big ones, and savouring the smallest moments.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

wonderful wednesday #8

Back once again for another Wonderful Wednesday (I started writing that and I got intense flashbacks to this, which has simultaneously embedded itself in my head and made me feel very old indeed). Despite not being able to shake off another bout of the lurgy for nearly 2 weeks now (babies are germ factories it seems) there is plenty of wonderfulness to celebrate.

Baby Bliss: The picture above sums up the past week with my lovely little boy (with double chin artfully cropped out admittedly). He has been a delight this week, endless smiles and giggles, a particular fan, it transpires, of the chorus of Ruby by the Kaiser Chiefs (mostly the aahaahaahaahaaaah bit), still loves balls being thrown and caught with accompanying sound effects, and being swung around and tickled under his chin. He has now taken to eating with gusto, and I am much relieved, and spending increasing amounts of time trying to satiate his ever increasing appetite. We had quite a few weeks where everything was being spat out, and it brings me so much joy to see him enjoying (and swallowing!) food. Sleep has improved a little, or a least 4am starts are now 5am starts since the clocks have gone forward which feels much more humane somehow. This week has been all about the wonderful parts of parenting and I am feeling very lucky, and very in love!

Monday with Millie: On Monday night I took Millie to an obedience class. It is not that she has become particularly disobedient, if anything she is much better at ignoring other dogs when we are out walking, but I had a scary moment a few weeks ago where the lock on her extendable lead somehow failed as she pulled and she shot out into the road. She was absolutely fine but it shook me up, especially as just moments later two cars came whizzing past, and I had one of those what if moments for the rest of the night. Also, I wanted to start trying to make sure she had a bit of one on one time, as she has been so accepting of the massive change to home life in the form of T, and I thought it would be nice for her to get a bit of fussing and undivided attention. So it was, on a beautifully sunny evening, Millie and I were to be found in a field, with her getting lots of treats, praise and cuddles, plenty of fresh air, and I came home feeling very glad indeed for a bit of quality time with my lovely girl.

Family: It has been a real family effort while I've been ill, I actually took a sick day from parenting just over a week ago, and my parents took T for the day, so I could sleep and try to recover a little. I know not many people have that option, and I felt so very lucky to have them so close, so that I could still get a middle of the day cuddle with him, but at the same time give myself a fighting chance of feeling better. Although I'm still feeling grotty, that day was so very much appreciated, and it was good to think he was having a day of being spoilt and doted on by his grandparents rather than coughed at by a bleary eyed mum!

Gardening: For Mother's Day, The Husband bought me a bundle of things for our veg planter, and suggested that we start a tradition of planting some seeds each year on Mother's Day. Initially slightly sceptical at the idea of hard labour on a day I had more traditionally associated with pampering and relaxation, we had lunch at a local garden centre with my family, bought some additional herb pots, pansies and strawberry plants, and then spent a happy two hours in the sunshine sewing seeds, planting herbs, and listening to music while T played in his chair and Millie lay on the lawn. Followed up by a fancy meal at home and some time spent doing my nails, and he had planned a pretty perfect day. I love that every time I come in the front door, or look out the kitchen window I can see the pots we planted up, and hopefully the products of our labours will be a happy reminder of those few hours for the rest of the year. He's cleverer than I give him credit for sometimes!

If you would like to visit some of the others (highly recommended) then Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too: JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartinaIsabelle. 

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

wonderful wednesday #7

Just a quick one, as I have spent rather longer than intended on this month's first things first post, and I'll regret it if I don't get to sleep very soon!! There has been so much wonderful happening in February that I haven't actually done one of these posts for a few weeks. For a longer round up of some of the big things that have been going on, see here, but for today, some small bits of wonderful....

Afternoon Tea: We bought my Grandad an afternoon tea and chocolate making demonstration at a lovely bakery nearby. I happily accompanied him today, and it was a wonderful few hours. The talk and demonstration was really interesting, and the afternoon tea was delicious. T had a wonderful time with his grandparents too, and so a happy afternoon was had by all, except perhaps for The Husband, who was at work.

New Bedding: After the middle of the night bedding changes last week, I splashed out on a spare, spare, set of bedding, as it seems at the moment that two sets is simply not enough! It has been so lovely to clamber into not just freshly washed sheets, but fresh out of the packet sheets.

5 miles: Having not kept on track with my 28 miles in 28 days, I suddenly had 8 miles to run in 2 days before February finished. The upshot was that on Tuesday evening I headed out in torrential rain to do five wet, cold miles, and managed to keep a reasonable pace, and actually smiled most of the way round. I quite enjoyed running in the rain, and it was one of those runs where the music seemed to be exactly right, with each track spurring me on to keep going for just one more song, to the point that I did a lot less walking and a lot more running than I first anticipated.

Surprise visits: I was messaging my close friend in the midst of a tough week, and when she didn't reply to a message I was wondering if I'd overdone the offloading, only for her to appear at the door in the middle of a busy day just to say hi, give me a hug, and chat in person for ten minutes. It was such a lovely surprise, not even long enough for a cuppa, but made me feel very lucky to have such an amazing friend, and much better about my week.

Pancakes: Of course. Specifically, my grandad's pancakes, which we enjoyed yesterday afternoon, are, in my opinion, unbeatable, and I'm convinced fuelled me to do that run. Followed closely by The Husband's savoury pancake, which was waiting for me when I got back from the run. Along with a few more sweet ones for dessert for good measure!

If you would like to visit some of the others (highly recommended) then Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too: JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartinaIsabelle. 

first things first

The first of March.

The first six months of parenthood to our incredible little boy. So at six months old, I wanted to take a minute to celebrate him exactly as he is at the moment, before any more firsts happen and another six months fly by.

He has the most incredible giggle, a real full-on chortle that lights up a room. His favourite thing in the world is Millie, and he quite often bursts out laughing just at the sight of her. He has started to recognise his family, and generally greets those he knows with a toothy grin. His bottom teeth have been through for a while, and we have the first top one emerging at the moment, so there has been plenty of drool, and some funny faces as he gets used to the new addition!

We are just venturing into the world of food, so he doesn't really have any favourites, except to say that if I have spent time peeling, cooking, blending and spooning something he is far less inclined to eat it than when my parents offer him a chew on some pear. When he does humour me, he wants to hold the spoon himself, and occasionally manages to get it somewhere near his mouth.

He got a walker from my parents for Christmas, and he is often to be found moving disconcertingly quickly around the kitchen in his wheels. He likes to make a beeline for anything dangerous, such as a hot oven, drawers open at head height, those kind of things. He also follows the dog around, to try and open drawers, and more recently has taken to sidling up to me and grabbing my cardigan to chew on.

He can sit up now, but mostly prefers to be on his front, and has mastered the art of shuffling backwards, which means he often reverses under the sofa until his bottom prevents him from going any further. He will sleep for ages as long as he is curled up against someone's chest, but when he is awake he has to be on the go, and will get grouchy unless you are moving him around and walking about the place. Nappy changes are becoming an increasingly complex operation, as he doesn't want to lie on his back at all any more, and has taken to strewing the contents of his changing table about. Being showered with cotton wool balls while trying to fasten a nappy around a back to front baby feels like some kind of weird game show and all the things that were conveniently placed nearby are now having to be moved further and further out of reach.

He has absolutely no routine whatsoever, with the exception of having a bath and a book around the same time each evening. Sleep, both at night and during the day, is still largely unpredictable, and he can't bring himself to go to sleep if there is something more interesting going on. No matter how sleepy he is, he will keep himself awake if he gets the impression he might be missing out. He has been droopy-eyed as we have arrived at the library, but the minute the singing session starts he is wide awake and bouncing around again. Christmas Day and my birthday meal both found him awake long past his usual times because he could tell there was fun to be had! He does seem to have moved into his own room without much fuss at all, but I haven't quite brought myself to put away the travel cot from our bedroom yet!

He has just started to join in a bit more when we go out, and has started squealing along to the songs at the library, and also splashing me with alarming gusto in the swimming pool. It is lovely to be at the point where he is starting to interact, as usually when something is new he quietly takes it all in, which meant the first few swimming trips felt a lot like I was moving him around in the water while he looked at me somewhat nonplussed. Now I have no idea what he looks like because he keeps drenching me with water and laughing!

He has a few songs that he definitely likes, mainly the ones that involve lifting him up and down very energetically, and I am anticipating that I will soon have biceps of steel. He found me swinging a sock about disproportionately hilarious yesterday, and after a morning where he had been particularly unsettled, this raucous laughter suddenly broke through at the simple act of sliding a sock around the bed and absolutely made my day. We have lots of songs, a song for getting him dressed (the hokey-cokey), a song for putting socks on (an adapted version of once I caught a fish alive) which we sing a lot, and the theme tune to the crystal maze is a sure fire way to a smile. He likes train noises, which I have just discovered works particularly well for teeth brushing, a very exaggerated version of the ABC song, and my night time concerts tend to include Elbow, Travis, and more recently the full length version of American Pie which I now know word perfectly.

Life as a parent is so all-encompassing. It feels like we talk of little else, and the smallest things take on such huge significance. He has grown so very much, and there is something miraculous about seeing this little person that you have made gradually discover the world before your very eyes. He loves playing with his feet, and studying his hands, all normal, typical baby things, but seeing the gradual transitions up close really bring it home how fascinating human development is.

 I don't find motherhood easy at times, the introvert in me is having to get used to the fact that quiet alone time is a thing of the past unless I very deliberately seek it out, but I do find being his mum the most natural thing in the world. I love the way his head rests on my shoulder, how he wraps his arms around my neck, and that he has started placing his hands on top of mine when I'm doing the actions to songs. As much as the middle of the night waking is tough, I find something so peaceful sitting in the dark stillness as he drifts back off in my arms, and often sit up longer than I need to relishing the quiet bubble and the cuddles as he clings to me in his sleep. I love seeing my close family in new ways, he brings so much joy to those around me, and it is so special to see. Watching The Husband be such an amazing dad is incredible, even if T did utter something that sounded suspiciously like DaDa the other day, which I am trying not to be too perturbed by! Motherhood hasn't made me any better at small talk, or any better at walking into a group of people and making instant friends, but it has made me more confident, more independent, more proactive, and has given me a sense of strength. I would do anything in the world for him, and love him so fiercely it surprises me. 

I think he is going to be mischievous, and a bundle of energy. I expect to need eyes in the back of my head, and lightning reflexes. I already feel that I am wearing new glasses that highlight potential danger everywhere I look, and home seems to suddenly be awash with sharp corners and protruding edges. If his current personality is anything to go by though, he seems to be a very happy, content little boy, loving, giggly, and so very excited by the world, long may it last.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Cookery Calendar Challenge: February

For February, I chose to cook from The Hairy Bikers' Eat For Life, which is the second book in their Hairy Dieters range. I cooked from their third book as part of the Cookery Calendar Challenge last year with mixed results, and although I have used this book a lot before, I had a similar experience this time.

The first recipe I picked was a low-calorie chicken tikka masala. One of the things I like about this series of books is that there are lots of dishes that feel like hearty recipes or treat dishes with small changes to make them healthier. The "fake-aways" are a key feature, and it is good to feel like you can have what might otherwise be junk food without it being incredibly bad for you. This curry was simple, and didn't include too many spices, which some of the other recipes do, so I had in everything I needed. The marinade required a bit of planning ahead, and I served it with naan rather than rice, and it was a great weekend supper. I do enjoy vegetables in curries, which this didn't have, but there are other curry dishes with more of a vegetable based sauce that I will try in the future.

The second dish was sticky chicken with homemade coleslaw. I was less pleased with this one. Again, other than the white cabbage for the coleslaw, all of the ingredients were ones I had in, and I served it with wholewheat wraps and some potato wedges. The coleslaw was enjoyable, really fresh and tasted much lighter for being made with a mixture of yoghurt and mayonnaise. I preferred it to shop-bought, and would make it again, and as the rest of the cabbage is still in the fridge through lack of any other ideas, it might be making a reappearance soon! I was less of a fan of the chicken, although The Husband enjoyed it. I found it to be more of a loose sauce than a sticky glaze, and I don't enjoy chicken thighs as much as chicken breast, so I don't know that I'd be rushing to repeat it. It was a simple sauce, with a good flavour, that I might use in other dishes, but it wasn't quite the effect I was expecting from the description. I notice the blogger I have linked to above seems to have been more successful so I wonder if it might be worth a second attempt at some point.

I said last month that I would also like to include a monthly link to an online recipe, as I use them a lot, and then, typically, I didn't make a specific recipe from the internet this month, but I have used it for inspiration for a few dishes, including homemade raita and a tomato, mozzarella and basil conchiglie. I thought it was appropriate to share this one as it is also by The Hairy Bikers. I used it to make the pie filling, which I then topped with sliced potatoes rather than pastry. I haven't decided on next month's book yet, there are a few I am keen to try, and my friend bought me a tagine with a recipe book as a Christmas present so that will definitely feature in the project at some point. As always, use the link below to see what others have been cooking as part of Penny's brilliant challenge.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

word of the week

Well this is probably more a word of the fortnight, or perhaps even longer! Since I last wrote here it feels like lots and lots has happened, and while I'm not quite sure how February is nearly over, at the same time we seem to have crammed lots in to the shortest month!

The day before my birthday we got the brilliant news that The Husband had successfully been offered a new job. It is a promotion and a move to a new organisation, so it is an incredibly big achievement, and I am amazingly proud. It was a fabulous start to a long weekend of celebrations. We went on a bear hunt on my birthday (although I was sad to read the attraction has closed permanently after Storm Doris), it was a fun way to spend some time as a family, and then we had a lovely meal with my parents and Grandad at night.

We have also been to visit the church where we got married for a lovely mass, and then our wedding venue for a coffee. It felt special to be back and have our little boy with us. Valentine's day included a family 5k run as part of the running challenges I have been doing, and a meal at home.

The last week has also marked six months since our little boy was born, and in fact it turned out to be exactly a year since we told people I was pregnant at my 30th birthday party! After 6 months it's about time I actually decided what to call him on here, so I'm going to go with his initial, T, for want of anything more original! He is now sleeping in his cot in his nursery, and it felt like a big step for him to move out of our room, though a full night's sleep is proving elusive still! We also started the first steps to weaning but it has not been as straightforward as I expected, with lots of mess, and quite a lot of coughing and vomiting. A much thinner apple puree seems to have been more successful the last few days, but still only a morsel at a time! He is full of a cold, and teething too (we have a first top tooth making its appearance), so I'm pretty sure that must be playing part, and writing this I realise that it's less than a week since he first tried any food at all, so perhaps we are not doing too badly really! I didn't really get in to the habit of doing milestone posts when I was pregnant, or since he has been born, but I may yet do a six month one (albeit a little late) as I feel it will be nice to look back in the future and read what he was like at this age, particularly as we looked at his first outfits tonight and were shocked (and a little teary) at how much he has grown already.

My lovely Grandad has had quite a few scans and hospital appointments in recent weeks, and is also recovering from the same cough that seems to have laid most of us low repeatedly since Christmas. He is doing well otherwise, and if he wasn't having any tests we wouldn't know that there was any need for him to be seen, but it is always worrying seeing a loved one going through appointments and scans, especially when it's someone like my Grandad who is always so fit and well. Luckily we have had lots of happy trips too, including a brilliant concert at the Bridgewater Hall with him, and a fabulous night seeing Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl.

This week there have also been surprise visits from my best friend, new bedding purchased and duvet dry cleaning after an early morning vomiting explosion from T, and the usual swimming and library trips. I also managed to catch up with A Year with My Camera reading this weekend, and made some actual notes in a new notebook with pretty pens, which was a fun way to spend half an hour. I realise this has mostly turned into a diary post, but I wanted to spend some time reflecting on everything that has happened recently. This week has been quite tough at times, between the teething, the vomiting, the clean-up operations and the appointments for my Grandad, so it has been a lovely way to end the week realising how much the good stuff far outweighs any of the less positive parts. Having said that, I have just also realised that in order to finish my February challenge I need to do 8 miles in the next 2 days, so perhaps the whirlwind isn't over just yet!!

The Reading Residence

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

wonderful wednesday #6

In true Sesame Street style, this week's Wonderful Wednesday is brought you by the letter C.

CorianderI made a recipe at the weekend that needed coriander, and my parents picked me up a bunch while out shopping. I love coriander and have happily incorporated it into lots of different recipes, including fajitas, chicken and coconut curry, and has also been livening up my lunches. It always makes me feel a little bit fancy having fresh herbs, although I tend to be a little overliberal with my sprinkling, as the picture above attests.

Cuddles: This morning I woke up with a headache, and so, I chose to stay in my pyjamas, and when the baby took a nap I actually followed the sleep when the baby sleeps advice. It was a lovely snooze on the sofa, snuggled under a blanket, with the dog snoring gently by my side, and I woke up feeling all the better for it. The novelty of cuddling a sleeping baby has still not worn off, and I love the evenings where he drifts off in my arms after his bath, all damp hair and smiles in his sleep.

Cake: Obviously, cake is always good, but this week my mum and I baked, and it was the first time I had baked in a while. It was a successful, and simple, orange drizzle cake, and it was lovely to spend an hour baking together, and also having cake to eat at the end of it! 

Comments: Thank you to all of you for lovely comments on my recent posts. I will reply soon, but it is always encouraging to feel like your words are being read. I sometimes worry that perhaps this blog is too superficial and borders on the saccharine at times, so despite venturing briefly into the more serious realm this week, many of your comments served as a reminder that I can make what I want of this little space and it isn't a reflection of a lack of interest in the wider world if I choose to focus on the positive here. 

ClassesI went to a session on weaning run locally, and my mum came along too. It was quite helpful, if only to reassure me that I've been doing the right things so far, and it is exciting to think in a week or so we can start introducing the baby to food. I always sit him in the kitchen when I'm cooking, and generally have to sing and talk my way through every ingredient to stop him getting restless, so I'm looking forward to him being able to have a taste too. He is also at the point now where he seems to be interacting more when I take him to things. He starts bouncing very excitedly when we go the singing and reading session at the library (though I am certain his overenthusiastic rattle waving is going to cause another child an injury). Friday was also the first time I have taken him swimming where he did more than just let me move him around, having discovered the joy of splashing, I spent most of the session wiping water out of my eyes, and having my first experience of show-off parenting as I kept trying to strategically swim nearer to the instructor so that she would notice, and compliment, his first attempts at kicking (it didn't work).

Camera: I know this is becoming a bit of a frequent mention, but I really enjoyed taking part in #1day12pics again on Saturday, and I have also started to take my camera with me just a little more regularly. My parents and I took the dog and the baby to the park yesterday, and we also went out for lunch with my Grandad today, and both times I picked up the camera on the way out, with some encouragement from my mum. I didn't take lots of pictures, but I'm glad I'm starting to carry it with me without feeling pretentious, and that I'm enjoying playing with it and trying to remember what I've learnt.

If you would like to visit some of the others (highly recommended) then Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too: JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartinaIsabelle. 

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

recipe: orange drizzle cake

I thought I'd resume normal service with a recipe, the first time in a long time I've posted one here. This is the result of an afternoon baking with mum yesterday. It started with some oranges that needed using, and developed from a Mary Berry plain fairy cake recipe. We decided to adapt the recipe to make one large cake and flavour it with the orange, and it was such a success that my mum made a second one today using clementines and shared it with the neighbours.

Orange Drizzle Cake

Makes one 12cm round cake. Prep time 15 minutes. Cooking time 45 minutes to 1 hour.


200g self-raising flour
200g caster sugar
200g softened butter
2 tsp baking powder
5 medium eggs
2 oranges
225g icing sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan. Grease the sides and base of a 12cm round cake tin.
  • Combine flour, caster sugar, eggs, butter, and baking powder in a bowl. Add the zest of both oranges and the juice of half an orange to the bowl.
  • Use a whisk to beat the mixture until well combined and pour it into the cake tin.
  • Bake in the oven for between 45 minutes and an hour, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. You may need to cover the top of the cake with tin foil to stop the cake browning too much.
  • While the cake is baking, gradually add the juice of the remaining orange to the sieved icing sugar a teaspoon at a time, stirring until it reaches a suitable consistency for drizzling.
  • Remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, drizzle with the icing.

Monday, February 06, 2017

love each other

(Silent Sigh - Badly Drawn Boy)

I mentioned in my recent Wonderful Wednesday post about struggling to write about bigger issues that are going on in the world, and the fear that comes with entering into public debate about these things. As if to prove my point, even the comments on the post gave differing views on whether to venture into the more serious realm. I'm still uncomfortable with it, but I'm also uncomfortable with not writing something, it seems such a big part of the public consciousness, and consequently, such a big part of my thoughts at the moment that it felt dishonest to keep skipping over the topic when I'm writing here on a more regular basis at the moment.

I guess this is likely to end up as an outpouring of thoughts, rather than anything concrete, so bear with me if you will. I've found the news of what has been happening in America hard to read, as it feels to me, like the start of a major shift in the international political arena, and as such, like the start of increasingly volatile times. That doesn't sit easily with me, I've always found that when there are major international incidents I have to step back a little at first, to stop myself becoming consumed by fear, and constant ponderings of what ifs, and what nexts.

It has been hard to escape in recent weeks, the news, the radio, and blogs too. My gut instinct was, and still is, that many of the decisions that are being made go against what I believe in, what a great many people believe in, and I can understand the outcry and the condemnation. But, I also feel that there are grey areas, things that have mulled around my head since listening to debates on the radio, and that The Husband and I have discussed over dinner, when I was desperate to talk it through with another adult, seeking that shared viewpoint and comfort in voicing thoughts out loud.

There is part of me that thinks that the actions being undertaken were part of the campaign rhetoric, and whilst it is not guaranteed these days that the promises of a campaign will come to fruition when a person takes power, none of these things are a shock, however shocking they might be. They are things that were expected from the speeches, and the headlines, however extreme they were. Which flows backwards to the fact that there was a democratic process and an election success based on that campaign, and those promises. I have an internal struggle with having a respect for the democratic process, yet also seeing the results of that process and them being so at odds with what I would choose. The discussions with The Husband also included the fact that the acting attorney general had been fired, and this was something we had both been troubled by. It felt particularly Orwellian, to immediately remove anyone who presented a challenge, even if it was on the grounds of legality. That, alongside the discussions about alternative facts, make the surge in the sales of 1984  particularly understandable. There is much mention of often-cited examples of those who were democratically elected and then committed horrendous acts once in power, and they are clearly a warning that should be heeded from history that democracy is not infallible and shouldn't be accepted blindly.

The marches have been a clear sign of the depth of feeling, on an international scale. I don't hold with the idea that it is not the right of those outside of the country to protest, though I heard many people asking what impact it could have. What I did find challenging, though, is that there are other places that have bans on immigration from specific countries, and there is not the same level of outcry, perhaps not even the same level of awareness of this. It draws parallels with the disproportionate media responses to atrocities and tragedies that affect the Western world, and that is something that has been a source of much reflection personally. Why is it so much more shocking in this situation, why does it provoke such a heightened, widespread reaction? Is it because we have different expectations of western countries, or because it is closer to home? I don't know the answers, it just made me stop to consider the differing responses, and wonder what it signifies.

As twee as it sounds, my own response is one of hope. One of trying to be positive, of not giving in to fear, and stories like this cheer me immensely. I wrote about it here, and more briefly here and here. It is easy, though, to allow a hopeful, positive response to slide slowly into apathy, and I still feel so small, and insignificant in the scheme of things that it feels incomprehensible that there is a difference I could make. I suppose writing something here, even if it isn't particularly revolutionary or rallying, is a way of being active rather than passive. There are good examples of more practical responses, and a trio of Michelle's have blogged about it from varying viewpoints. Michelle really summed up for me that sense of there being so much to challenge it is hard to know where to start, (and on a personal level, having read her blog for many years, it was wonderful to see her writing again after a long hiatus, albeit for less than wonderful reasons). Michelle speaks in a way I wish I was brave enough, and eloquent enough to, and gives practical advice from a UK perspective. And Michelle says what I am thinking with much more clarity than I can muster.

I know I shall worry when I post this, I know it feels like a huge thing and an inconsequential one simultaneously, but I also feel like I wanted to say something, not to look back and feel that I stayed entirely silent. So, for now, this is my contribution, my tiny attempt to face off the negativity with some words of positivity, and to add another hopeful voice to the many.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

wonderful wednesday #5

Another week, another round of wonderful things. Unbelievably we are already in February, and even more unbelievably I have managed to make it 5 in a row.

Camera Bravery: Another week of A Year With My Camera, and another week where I braved the park. This time with The Husband, dog and baby, and I actually sat on the bench and played with the different settings for a good half an hour while he walked them around. This week was about shutter speed, and I got some action shots that I was quite pleased with! It is lovely to think I am starting to have just the slightest idea about what the myriad of buttons, letters, numbers and options mean.

Good Timing: We had to take our pram to have a screw replaced, and the nearest Mamas and Papas store to us is a bit of a jaunt to the huge shopping complex that is the Trafford Centre. The service was excellent and they had to send it away, providing us with a loan of the same style pram in the interim. On Friday I had a message to say it was ready for collection, and on our way to the store we walked through Selfridges, for a quick gaze at the food hall. Just as we walking past they were reducing lots and lots of the desserts, and resisting the urge to buy them all, we came away with a toblerone cheesecake, a rocky road cheesecake, and a brownie for 80p each. By the time we walked back through after collecting the pram, they had all gone, so we were rather pleased with our little haul, and enjoyed our decadent desserts when we got home that night.

Socialising: I wrote on Friday about what a sociable week we had, and it had continued since, with visits to my mum and stepdad, The Husband's family, my grandad's, and my dad and stepmum's. I have also heard from a few good friends, and it was nice to catch up even if it was via text.

Bloggers: It is a tumultuous time politically at the moment, and my general approach on this blog is to veer away from bigger issues. I often feel like I don't have the right words, or even enough understanding to explore those topics publicly, which may be doing myself a disservice, but I lack the confidence to enter into online debates, despite having deep discussions with The Husband over dinner. I do, though, as I have said previously, find hope in realising that there are others out there feeling the same, and galvanising readers into action. It is always wonderful to know you are not alone in your thoughts, particularly when the world seems increasingly divisive. 

Calming candles: On a slightly more mundane note, I have started to actually use the vast array of candles I have, lighting a Neom relaxation one before bed, whilst also liberally spritzing the scent too (I almost set off The Husband's asthma with my slightly overenthusiastic efforts though, so I have reigned it in a little). I had the first bath I have had in months (I do shower, just to be clear), and I got back from a run to find The Husband had lit candles for me. I don't usually see the appeal of baths, but it was a lovely way to wind down.

Falling numbers: I am now less than half a stone off my pre-baby weight. I realise in the grand scheme of things that this is fairly superficial, and I also realise the secret to contentment does not lie in the scales (you know, that famous saying), but I am keen to be a healthy weight, and to set the right example as a parent in terms of exercise and food choices. I hope by the time my maternity leave is over to be much healthier and fitter, and seeing the beginnings of that both in the number on the scale, and the pace on my runs, is a wonderful thing indeed.

first things first

The first of February.

A month that will bring with it some lovely firsts. My thirty-first birthday. I guess that means I will officially be in my thirties now, rather than just on the cusp of a new decade! It will be my first birthday as a mum, so I'm expecting things to be somewhat more low-key than last year's incredible adventures, but no less special. 

It will also mark the first 6 months of our little boy's life, and my goodness hasn't time flown. This will probably be the month where he has his first taste of food, and, maybe the month where he moves into his nursery. I'd love it to be the month where he sleeps a little longer overnight too, but that might be wishful thinking!

The flower above is the first to appear, this morning, on the potted plant my friend bought me a week or so ago. As I mentioned on instagram, it is clearly not the hyacinth I thought it was! It is still very much appreciated though, and cheered me up when I finally made it downstairs after a long night.

The first run tonight of a new challenge. I didn't manage the 62 I had initially aimed for in January, due to being out of action for nearly two weeks due to the bug the baby and I had. However, I switched to the 31 mile challenge and managed to complete it so I pleased I didn't do my usual trick and write it off the minute I fell behind. This month has two challenges, a 28 miles over the month, and a Valentine's 5k with someone you love, which will definitely include Millie and possibly The Husband and the baby too!

We have had an email from the church where we were married saying that they are having a special service to celebrate marriages, and inviting all those who had their ceremony there to attend. It is the weekend after my birthday, and would be the first time we have visited as a family, so I think we shall put that in the diary, and maybe even continue on to our wedding venue for a bite to eat,

It seems there is lots to look forward to in February, and I hope it is the same for you.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cookery Calendar Challenge: January

It is great to be joining back in with Penny's Cookery Calendar Challenge this year. For January, I decided to revisit the same book I started with last time, Mary Berry's Complete Cookbook. However, this time I decided to go back to basics, and cook some dishes that I am familiar with. I thought it would be interesting to follow a recipe for dishes that I would normally cook without much thought and see if I learnt anything new. As a result, I must apologise, as none of these dishes are particularly inventive, or aesthetically pleasing, but I had fun even so!

First up was spaghetti carbonara, partly because I was already planning to make it so I thought I would lift out the recipe book. I know it is traditionally made with egg, but I usually avoid this and just do a bacon, cream and cheese sauce, because previous attempts have ended up liked scrambled egg pasta. Mary's recipe called for the traditional egg though, and it worked really well. I would not usually put parsley in either, assuming oregano would be the way to go, but it added a nice freshness that stopped it being too rich. A definite winner.

Next up, and I did warn that these dishes were lacking in attractiveness, was shepherd's pie. I would usually make cottage pie, so it was a nice change to use lamb mince, and the addition of Worcestershire sauce was a new one for me. The recipe also recommended discarding the fat once the lamb had browned, which I would not have thought to do, and really helped prevent the dish becoming too oily. This made a lovely Sunday dinner, and received plenty of compliments from Grandad and The Husband.

I actually made a third recipe from the book this month, though I have spared you the picture as I tried and failed to make lasagne look anything other than a sloppy mess. The end result was delicious, but the recipe was the source of much debate. I was surprised that it included celery, and that there were no mushrooms. I also tend to put the pasta on top of the ragu and then top with bechamel, and only put cheese on the very top, but this suggested ragu, then bechamel, then cheese, then pasta for each layer. The Husband was horrified that the top layer was ragu, bechamel and cheese, but without a final layer of pasta, as that is his favourite part. Considering the dish served eight though, I'm sure he had plenty of pasta to be going on with. I noticed that the recipe on the packet of lasagne sheets was very similar, and included celery, and layered the dish in the same way, so I considered this a lesson in the art of a traditional lasagne! The dijon mustard in the bechamel was a new one to me aswell, but it was one of my more successful attempts at white sauce (by which I mean it didn't require a sieve) so I shall again bow to Mary's superior knowledge.

Finally, I thought I might include a link each month to a recipe I have made from the bbc food website. This is always my first port of call when I'm looking for recipes, and so I thought it would be nice to include it here too (I hope Penny doesn't mind me expanding the scope slightly!). This idea has mostly arisen because today I had one of those fortuitous cooking sessions where I found a recipe that made use of all of the bits and pieces I had languishing in the bottom of the fridge. It started as a recipe for sausages and cabbage, but happily made use of the two carrots, soggy celery, leftover parsley and half peeled lemon into the bargain, aswell as the last few crusts from last week's loaf. It was an incredibly flavoursome sausage casserole, with a cabbage pesto (better than it sounds!) and breadcrumbs, and I can heartily recommend it.

Friday, January 27, 2017

word of the week

Another Friday and another word to sum up the last week, which has been a great one. There has been lots of socialising this week. I always make an effort to get out each week to the library baby group, and the swimming pool, but I don't really know anyone at the different sessions, and the introvert in me isn't brilliant at small talk so I tend to throw my energy into singing nursery rhymes!

This week has been full of baby giggles, and he wakes up every morning grinning, which is always a lovely way to start the day. After work friends came to visit, I called to see another friend at the weekend to drop off her birthday present. I wimped out of her party as I was still getting over the last of the cough and would have hated to pass it on, but I'm glad I made the effort to say hello, albeit briefly.

We saw The Husband's parents, and nephews, and then Grandad came over for Sunday dinner, so it felt like a real family weekend. On Monday Mum joined me at the library, and then we nipped to the shops, and it was lovely to have some adult company during the singing! On Wednesday I popped to see some friends and their little boy. They live fairly nearby, so I made the effort to walk the mile and a half, which was a lovely start to the day enjoying the sunshine with the baby. Then the quick visit turned into a whole day, and lunch, and a really good catch up.

Then yesterday included a walk to the park with the baby, Mum and Millie, followed by a lunch out. It was brilliant to sit, do crosswords, drink tea, all with a giggling baby for company. Last night The Husband and I had a delicious meal out, an eight course tasting menu that was a Christmas gift from my grandad. Mum and Mal provided expert babysitting services, and we had a relaxing night out, one of the best meals we've had in ages, and I even had my first glass of prosecco in well over a year. It was a fantastic night, and it was lovely to come home to a sleeping baby, and a sleeping dog, snuggled up with their grandparents after a happy night.

Now it is Friday and the weekend is almost here, ready for lots of family time with The Husband. Today has already included lots of cuddles and laughs, and now the baby is smiling in his sleep on my chest. Later we will go to the library and there will be nursery rhymes, and a story, and I might even brave some small talk!

The Reading Residence

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

wonderful wednesday #4

Another round up of some of the wonderful things going on this week.

Understanding Aperture: Although slightly bizarre, the picture above definitely makes my wonderful list this week. I signed up for Emma's A Year With My Camera project last year, and though I read the emails for the first few weeks I didn't actually pick up my camera and get started. This year I've managed to stick with it, and the above is my attempts at playing with the aperture settings on my camera. Not only am I chuffed that I managed to get the basic effect I was looking for (blurred vs focussed background), I was particularly proud of myself for taking my proper camera to the park, with the baby and the beagle, and actually being brave enough to lift it out in public and take pictures, even with other people around!

Catching Up: I've had quite a sociable week for a woman on maternity leave who knows exactly no other parents on maternity leave! Some friends from work popped by, and it was great to catch up and introduce them to the baby. Today I visited a good friend at 10am, and what started as a cuppa turned into multiple cuppas, and then lunch, and generally a good time. Made even better by getting home and finding flowers, eclairs, pies and pork chops (a random assortment I grant you) left in the kitchen by my Grandad. 

Shepherd's Pie: Firstly, the grammar fiend in me is deliberating whether it is the pie of one shepherd, or many shepherds, but I settled on one hungry one! We had another happy Sunday night where Grandad joined us for Sunday dinner, and another comfort dish, The Husband's choice this time, of shepherd's pie followed by rice pudding. 

Daffodils: The Husband brought me flowers last week, and as well as roses, he also picked up our first bunches of daffodils of the year. They have been a little source of joy all week long, and a lovely hint that spring is on its way soon.

Giggles: Now well and truly over his cough, the baby is back to his lovely, happy self, and has been giggling merrily all week. Current favourites include me saying oh-oh, oh-no, or just opening my mouth very wide and saying ahhhh. Sometimes just opening my mouth wide and not saying a thing. He also likes me pretending to eat his fingers, and loves it even more if I then proclaim that they are delicious. He is in raptures at round and round the garden, and can barely contain himself when he knows the tickles are coming. He still thinks being lifted high up over my head is hilarious. More than once this week I have found myself laughing uproariously, at him laughing uproariously, at me saying oh-oh. It is a wonderful confidence boost spending so much time with someone who thinks you are the funniest person on the planet!

Snoring: Last night I sat on the sofa with the baby fast asleep in my arms, snoring, and the dog stretched out at my side snoring. I needed to put subtitles on the television, and I'm relieved The Husband didn't join in and complete the hat-trick, but it was a pretty lovely sound nonetheless.

If you would like to visit some of the others (highly recommended) then Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too: JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartinaIsabelle. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

word of the week

After a weekend feeling really grotty indeed, I am feeling very appreciative today of the fact that we seem to be improving (and hoping that The Husband doesn't succumb to the same bug!). It has been a lovely week all in all, and there is a lot to be thankful for.

I am grateful to our parents for giving us the gift of a holiday for Christmas, we had a brilliant trip and it was a perfect first holiday as a family of three. I'm also grateful that they looked after Millie while we went, and spoilt her rotten with lots of cuddles and walks. All of the staff at the hotel also earned my utmost gratitude, making us so welcome and relaxed during our first experience of holidaying with a baby.

I had a lovely afternoon out with my grandad yesterday. I am so glad to have him so nearby, and to have the chance for him to see his great-grandson so often, especially as he can make him giggle like no-one else.

Today some work colleagues are popping in to visit, the first time I will see them since I went on maternity leave. It is brilliant of them to come by, and I'm glad I have made good friends over the last few years.

Today our little boy turns 5 months old, and I am increasingly thankful for our happy, wonderful son. He is such a delight, and I love how the simplest of things make him launch into the most joyful laughter. It is so incredible to watch him grow, to see the world through his eyes, and to get to be his mum; I am most thankful for that privilege, and he makes it so easy.

And I am also thankful for my amazing husband. He who finds my lost keys, tapes up my frayed phone charger so it is safe, brings me a cheeseboard and an artfully sliced milky way for supper when I couldn't decide what I wanted, changes endless nappies, lets me lie in on holiday to try and recuperate, sorts out my car insurance, transfers our broadband, switches all of our devices over to the new router and who generally makes this little family work.

I realise it has been a little saccharine this week, so I hope you survived all of that without feeling too nauseated, but after feeling really miserable last weekend and crying to The Husband that I just needed to remember that we would all feel better eventually (slightly melodramatic perhaps?) I'm celebrating the fact that I was right, and that this weekend should be a much healthier, happier one! Thank you, also, to all of you who have visited, and commented, it is always very much appreciated.

The Reading Residence

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

wonderful wednesday #3

There have been all sorts of wonderful things this week so let's get straight on with them.

Happy Holidays: We had a lovely few days away, which was a fabulous Christmas present from my parents. It was our first stay in a hotel with a baby, and it went better than we could have hoped. I am grateful for the kind, welcoming staff, all of whom went out of their way to make life easier, from giving us a large room so that the pram, toys, and various accoutrements of a small baby didn't take up every corner, to seating us in a quiet corner of the restaurant which meant we had two evenings where we managed to have a three course meal while he dozed quietly beside us. A member of staff at breakfast brought over my plate, and asked if she could cuddle the baby, and sat with us, held him and chatted while we both ate. We couldn't have asked for a better experience, and it was lovely to have an extra few days altogether.

Feeling Better: After a few days where it felt like the household had been condemned with the lurgy, things are gradually looking up. The baby (I really need to decide what I'm going to call him on the blog) can now sleep without waking himself up with coughing, and I can move around without leaving a trail of used tissues in my wake. Life suddenly feels much more manageable now that the germs are retreating.

Spa Time: While we were away we used the leisure facilities, which meant lots of family swimming. Having The Husband with me was a revelation, he took the baby in the changing rooms with him, and having two adults in the pool with him meant I actually got to swim a few laps and nip in the steam room, and the sauna, and get changed without signing nursery rhymes the whole time. I love taking the baby swimming, but taking the baby swimming with The Husband was an added bonus! It was also lovely for The Husband to get the chance to go swimming with him for the first time, even if he did manage to get far more giggles than I ever have! I also booked in for a massage, and it was one of the best treatments I have had in a very long time, the therapist was brilliant, and I sat in a dressing gown afterwards, sipping a hot chocolate and feeling very relaxed indeed, it's amazing what a difference an hour can make.

Family Gatherings: We had a family christening at the weekend, and it was lovely to see relatives we hadn't seen in a while. Today was the 10 year anniversary of when my Gran passed away, and we try to mark the day in a positive way by getting together as a family. We went out for lunch, everyone got baby cuddles and it was a lovely way to commemorate an incredibly special person.

Good Books: I finished the brilliant book by Hollie McNish that I can't stop raving about to everyone and immediately handed it to The Husband. I then did that irritating thing of peering over his shoulder as he was trying to read it, desperate to keep track of where he was up to so I could finally have someone to discuss it with. Luckily the next book I started, Bill Bryson's latest, is also brilliant, so it distracted me away from peering over his shoulder, and instead I did the equally irritating thing of chortling loudly every couple of minutes and insisting on reading out whole pages while The Husband was trying to read. I'm looking back and wondering if this week was slightly more wonderful for me than him!

It is wonderful to have had such good family times this week, and also wonderful for us all to be feeling well again. I hope you all have great weeks ahead.

If you would like to visit some of the others (highly recommended) then Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too: JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartinaIsabelle.

Friday, January 13, 2017

word of the week

As I mentioned last week, a weekend full of re-organisation beckoned, and it was a fruitful one. After an early morning trip to Ikea (helped by the lure of a cooked breakfast after a very early wake up courtesy of the baby) we stocked up on storage and got sorting high and low. I will stop wittering on about it, as I also mentioned it at length here but it has really made such a difference. I feel so much better when I open the wardrobe or the kitchen cupboards and everything just seems a little more under control.

Which has been much needed this week, as we have had a baby who has been full of a cough and cold, that I have now started with too. It has been a testing week, our first experience as parents of having a poorly child, but I think we have kept each other sane. The Husband got home last night and went out with the baby for an hour, so I went to bed at 7pm and caught up on some much needed sleep, and felt much better for it. We had a better night last night too, less disturbed, and hopefully before long we will all be feeling well again.

I have tried to be better at blogging too, and I actually wrote a post this week that wasn't part of a link up, which is novel for me. I also joined in with #1day12pics over on instagram, so I feel like in small ways I'm managing to carve a little time out. I'm currently writing this with the laptop balanced on my kneecaps and a baby snoring on my chest!

My running had been getting better too, I was consistently managing less than 15 minute miles, and actually enjoying getting out. This week it has slipped, and I haven't got out with the exception of a quick walk to the library and back for baby group on Monday. I'm trying to be kind to myself and accept that it just isn't a priority this week, but I'm also conscious of making sure I don't get out of the habit for too long and lose my progress.

We have a few days away next week, so if we are not better by then, then I'm sure a few lazy days together relaxing, visiting the spa, and enjoying some extra family time will see us right. Hope you all have a lovely weekend.

The Reading Residence

Thursday, January 12, 2017

take a holiday

For so many months, the prospect of being on maternity leave glowed in the distance, bringing with it the promise of a new baby, and the exciting, but daunting concept of an extended break from my job. The idea, now, of going back to work, is a hard one to fathom, and though I am lucky enough to have a long time before that happens, I know the months will fly, and the fact that we have already had to start looking at nurseries (9 months in advance, seriously!) has brought it home that this current arrangement isn't a permanent one. So, I'm very conscious of making the most of this time, really appreciating how lucky I am to be able to be at home with my little boy, what a privilege it is.

But then, yesterday, I had an appointment, and when I mentioned to the nurse that I was on maternity leave, she said "Oh that's what I could do with, a holiday". It was a reflexive response, she didn't mean any harm by it, and she was really pleasant and chatty. I got on well with her, but the comment has stuck. It was said so quickly, such a throwaway remark that I didn't even respond before we'd moved on to the next point, and besides which, as she was about to do my smear, it wasn't really the right time to have a heated debate about the reality of maternity leave!

Maybe it's because it's been a particularly tough week. My little boy has had a cough, quite a bad one, the cough til he's sick all over himself, and me, and any surrounding surfaces type of cough. I have spent a lot of the last few days sat on the sofa, beneath a sleeping baby, which I agree sounds like bliss. But that sleeping baby kept waking, and crying, and looking at me with eyes that didn't understand why he was hurting, and a bottom lip quivering that I couldn't make better. He kept coughing himself awake overnight, we have had multiple outfit changes (him, me, The Husband) at all hours of the morning, and I have sung whole concerts in the darkness, standing, swaying with my eyes closed trying to soothe his eyes closed. My hand is constantly reaching for his forehead, hunting out the first signs of a temperature, and I am on a repeating cycle of holding him, soothing him, and feeding him, anything as long as I am there for him.

Yesterday, my parents called by and watched him so I could shower without the fear that he was coughing himself sick alone. They stayed while I had a drink and had something to eat. The day before, he would not be put down without crying so lunch was anything I could manage one handed, which turned out to be slices of ham straight from the fridge and biscuits which I stashed in my cardigan pocket. The Husband does bath time each night so I can have a quick rest, yet my ears are always searching for his cries.

Maybe its because the appointment was the first time I'd left the house in 2 days, the first time I'd not been in the same building as my baby for 3 days, and even that was to do a 20 minute run around the block, but it just stung a little. I knew what she meant, that having an extended break from the day job is what lots of people dream of. Honestly, I was excited about that too, and I still appreciate being able to break off from my career for a while yet know I can return to it. I know lots of people would be dealing with a poorly baby and trying to work full time (The Husband for one!). I know that in between the tears, the coughing, the outfit changes, trying to assess how much of a wet nappy is enough of a wet nappy, how much of a wheeze is too much of a wheeze, it is still bliss to sit holding him, snuggled under a blanket, the rise and fall of his chest against mine, his warm breath on my skin.

But this week particularly has not been a holiday. It has been sad, and tiring, and worrisome. And as I lay there last night, rehearsing what I should have said, trying to think up a pithy reply that would have been light hearted but made a point, I remembered something I read on an instagram post this week about sharing the rubbish stuff because usually someone out there understands, or is going through the same thing. So I started writing and thought this was probably a better way to vent than to have imaginary discussions.

As it is, we actually do have a holiday next week. The Husband is off work, and our parents booked a few days away for the three of us. Obviously it won't be a holiday from maternity leave, the parenting doesn't stop, but it will be lovely to do the parenting while someone else cooks the meals and makes the bed, and to have a few extra days as a family. And, when I was at the GPs today (making sure his wheeze wasn't too much of a wheeze) the nurse walked across the waiting room as I was leaving. She asked was everything OK, looked at my poorly, runny nosed baby and said he was gorgeous. I think from my scraped back hair, and weary eyes she could perhaps see that I wasn't having the easiest day, and she managed to make me feel better, as did the GP, by taking a little bit of time, and showing some kindness. And of course someone admiring my little boy always gives me that glow of maternal pride, so I left feeling much happier, and without any more one-sided conversations playing in my head!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

wonderful wednesday #2

So I've made it 2/2 so far and am taking a few minutes to round up some more wonderfulness (is that a word?). We've got a baby with a bad cough at the moment so sleep is a little elusive.  It's the first time he's been poorly and I'm having a little bit of heartbreak seeing him sad, so this burst of positivity is much needed!

Maternity leaveI'm really appreciative of the fact that I can be at home cuddling him and trying my best to make him feel better. We spent yesterday snuggled up on the sofa with lots of naps, though there's no doubts a rule to say he shouldn't be napping all day (I'm discovering parenting has lots of rules, particularly when it comes to sleep). As it is, I know if I was poorly I'd want to spend the day napping on the sofa so I'm enjoying the chance to curl up with him and hold him close. Today he seems a lot a brighter so I'm hoping the extra rest did him some good. I never underestimate how lucky I am to have the time to be home with him at the moment. Soon enough I'll be back to work, so these precious days, and the chance to help him feel better, are very special indeed. 

Organisation: I lived up to the promise of last week, and thanks to the energy and perseverance of The Husband we made the most of the weekend and sorted cupboards, drawers and wardrobes like a couple possessed. It was so good to get my wardrobe reorganised, it had become a mishmash of clothes, some from before I got pregnant, some of those "I'll buy this for when I'm a size smaller" clothes, some maternity clothes, some postpregnancy purchases and a myriad of other things, but I was cycling through about five things at one end of the rail. I got ruthless and now have a wardrobe that makes me very happy when I open it. I've already worn two tops this week I haven't seen in months. We have a new cutlery drawer, new spice racks, reorganised kitchen cupboards, and though the house is still covered in baby paraphernalia I feel like the superficial stuff is much easier to tackle now we are more organised under the surface.

Sunday dinner: I invited Grandad over on Sunday, and made us toad in the hole, onion gravy and something vaguely resembling bubble and squeak. It was lovely to cook us a meal and enjoy his company, and for him to get cuddles with his great-grandson.

#1day12pics: I took part in this over on instagram as part of the first week of A Year With My Camera, and although I used my phone, it was good to take some more photos, and to try and be a little more creative. The project is about getting better at using my real camera, so I do need to try and actually use it, baby steps though!

The Husband: Not that he isn't usually brilliant, but he's been particularly amazing these last few days. As well as giving up his weekend to help me sort through my wardrobes and put up spice racks etc., he has been doing mountains of ironing, keeping the house relatively tidy, and generally doing the lion's share of the work around the house, after working long days, to try and give me a little space to get out on a run, or cook a meal, or write this blog (he did bathtime and read a story while I write this!). It's good to feel like this parenting lark is a team effort.

Dog snores: we bought Millie a blanket from Ikea (I'm honestly not on commission, I just think it's my spiritual home) so that now we are spending much more time in the lounge, she isn't relegated to the floor. She is currently outstretched on her new blanket, feet resting against me, nose twitching as though she is smelling something brilliant in her dreams, and snoring contentedly.

So it appears there has been lots of good stuff despite the poorly baby, I'm already seeing the benefit of this weekly round up of happy things. Here's to a lovely week ahead for you all. 

If you would like to visit some of the others (highly recommended) then Sally is the originator of the idea, you can search for #wonderfulwednesday and these lovely folks all post too: JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl , KerriMimmiMartinaIsabelle.