Tuesday, 30 April 2013

My baby is 3 today!

I can't believe it! Where did the time go? He's 3 already!

I did it - I got the bunting finished in time!

His big brother and I had to wake him this morning (isn't it typical that on a morning when you want them to be awake early they decide to sleep in!), so we sang a round of Happy Birthday to wake him up. His brother was convinced that he looked bigger today now that he is 3!

Big brother taking charge of the present opening!

After school drop-off, we headed home to make a birthday cake.

Eating the ingredients. Who knew he liked dark chocolate?

Uh oh! He's breaking the eggs for me. There may be a few crunchy bits in this cake!

Oops! The egg squirted!

Mmmmmm, stir it all up

We have a few friends coming over for a birthday tea after school today, so hopefully they will enjoy his creation - a giant brownie cake!

Here it is, the finished cake
And here is his birthday present from us - a lovely cheapo, plastic playhouse to add to all the other plastic toys littered around the garden - and he loves it!

The sun came out later on when his friends arrived, and they all had a wail of a time in the garden before tea.

We had to do a few rounds of candle-blowing until everyone had had a go, and the cake was well and truly covered in spit!

I think our little man enjoyed his day :)

Monday, 29 April 2013

Signs of Spring

I find it so uplifting to see the garden coming back to life after what feels like the longest winter ever! This morning I popped outside to check on our fruit trees that we had planted last autumn and to take a few pictures.

They are all in bud and some with blossom. None seem to have suffered from the cold weather. We have apples, pears, plums, damsons and a mulberry tree. Fingers crossed we will have some fruit this year (and lots of crumbles!)

The rhubarb has also suddenly sprung into action. A week ago, it was just starting to push through the pile of compost I had dumped on it. Today it looks like I may have to start picking this week!

Last weekend, the boys and I went to the garden centre to buy some seeds and compost. They both picked out all the vegetables they would like to grow, and I added in some flowers too. We went home and started planting!

We have a strange conservatory-thing on the side of our house. There is no access from inside the house, so you have to walk all the way around the outside to get into it, which is a bit bizarre. Consequently we don't really use it.

It has the wicker furniture in it that we brought from the Breeze House in our old garden, but we just never go in there. Until now! It now has some growbags with tomato and cucumber plants, and LOADS of seeds planted.

So far we have planted carrots, peppers, chillis, courgettes, sweetcorn, red onions, broad beans, peas, pumpkins, mint, parsley, basil, sweetpeas and lupins! We still have more peas, beans, carrots and spring onions to plant, but plan to sow these directly in the ground later in the summer.

The big one enjoyed the whole process immensely, and even wrote some of the name tags.

The ones we planted last week are just starting to show signs of life...


I have since read that carrots do not like being transplanted as it can damage the root, and should be sown directly into the ground. Oh well, we will just have to look forward to having lots of mutant carrots!

Little one has shown very little interest in the whole planting/growing thing, but hopefully he will become more involved with the harvesting/eating process!

This is the spot we have ear-marked for planting our veggies once the seedlings are big enough. We need to move the sorry-looking rhodedendrons first though and prepare the ground a bit.

I think some will have to be grown in pots though, due to the sheer volume - we got rather carried away!

I'm off to wilf around some veggie and allotment websites!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Latest creation

Hoping to get it finished in time for little one's 3rd birthday next week.

Happy Birthday bunting. Just waiting for some red bias binding to arrive from eBay to finish it.

I'm quite pleased with the zigzagging of the felt letters onto the flags, as this is the first time I've ever done any zigzagging & it was pretty tricky going around the letters!

I'm pretty chuffed with how narrow I got my hemming too!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Read it and weep!

Shortly after moving here I was invited to join a local book club by one of the lovely mums I met in the village. She was hosting the book club meeting that night and invited me to come along even though I had not read the book. It turned out that out of 5 people only one had actually finished the book and 2 others were only a couple of chapters in. I've come to realise that the book club meetings consist of 4 hours of chat, wine drinking and cheese eating and approximately 15mins of book discussion!

Last night it was my turn to host book club. So I dutifully toddled off to Waitrose to select some fine cheese and crackers (I don't know some of the book clubbers very well, so wanted to make a good impression!). Packed the boys of to bed as soon as possible so that I could give the downstairs a once over (did I mention I wanted to make a good impression??).

I needn't have worried. I forget what a nice bunch they are. All mums of primary school age children from the village. All very down to earth and welcoming. All came with wine and snacks. All enjoyed the cheese. 

For once, we had all read the book. And for the first time (since I've been going - this was my 4th meeting) we had a long discussion about it. 

If you're interested, the book was The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. I can recommend it. http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Snow-Child-Eowyn Ivey/dp/0755380533/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366914234&sr=8-1&keywords=The+snow+child

Eventually got to bed about 12.30am - 2 hours after my usual bedtime. I was not feeling top notch this morning. The morning school run felt a lot more arduous than normal. I'm not sure all this reading is good for my health!

Early night tonight methinks!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Goodbye socks!

I resisted it yesterday, but today I took one step towards summer - I removed my socks, painted my toenails and fished my trusty Birkenstocks out from the back of the wardrobe.
Here come the toes!

I'm praying that this is the end of the cold weather, and we can finally start leaving the house without coats, boots etc.

It's still pretty cold INSIDE the house (takes a good few days of really hot weather before the inside temperature is anywhere near the outside temperature!), but at least it is warm outside.

Yesterday after school, the boys played for over an hour in the garden. It was so lovely to hear their yells and squeals as they bounced on the trampoline and climbed on the climbing frame, with no coats or wellies in sight.

Enjoy the sun while it lasts!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Living in an old property

When we started house hunting for a place up here, we had a list as long as your arm of requirements - at least 4 bedroom, big garden, not on a busy road but not too remote, village location, good school nearby, big kitchen, annexe/outbuilding for husband's gym and music equipment etc etc. We quickly realised that in order to get the size garden we wanted, we needed to buy an old property. We viewed some beautiful new-build properties, which had the ideal living space but a garden no bigger than a handkerchief! Once we had seen a few old houses there was no going back for me - I'd fallen hook, line and sinker for "period features"!

We must have seen about 30 properties before we saw this one, and were starting to think we'd have to majorly compromise on some of our requirements. This house is enormous (no stealth boasting here!) and is what basically sold it to us. As well as the spaciousness of the house, it has lots of garden, a converted stable block (for husband's stuff) and also a barn thrown in for good measure (the barn which caused MAJOR issues during the purchase, but that's another story!). It is Grade II listed, but we naively thought that wouldn't be an issue, as the previous owners had already done all the renovating and updating, and we wouldn't want to make any changes which would involve Listed Building consent.

We moved in at the end of January 2012 and approx. 2 days later the cold weather and snow descended on us. We quickly discovered the realities of living in a big, old house. It does have central heating, but it is oil fired so therefore expensive to run (and us being 2 tight accountants, we are too mean to have it on much!). The house has its original sash windows, which are beautiful, but very cold and draughty. The glass is so thin that any heat from the central heating is going straight out the window! When the heating is on, parts of the house warm up nicely. I say parts, as the downstairs hallway, drawing room and our bedroom never feel warm even with the heating going full pelt all day! However, as soon as the heating goes off, the house immediately feels cold. Thankfully we have 2 wood burners and an aga. The aga is on 24hrs (being our only source of cooking) and keeps the kitchen, playroom and living room fairly warm all day. The wood burner gets lit in the evening when the boys have gone to bed, and we are still lighting it every night even though it is nearly May! I won't tell you how much we have forked out on logs since we moved in! As sod's law would have it, we have just experience the coldest winter and spring since records began!

We are gradually getting the windows renovated - draught proofed and fully functioning (some were nailed shut or painted shut and others had huge gaps). We have also had the loft fully insulated for free by those kind people from British Gas. We are going to look into getting some secondary glazing and also maybe a more efficient and eco-friendy way of heating the house such as ground-source heating. But for now, we are making use of the thick, heavy curtains left by our predecessors, and lighting the fire every night! Roll on summer, when we'll be smugly enjoying our lovely cool rooms while the rest of the country sweats in their new builds!

My First Blog Post - Introducing Me!

Well, here I am, writing my very first blog. Feels strange to be addressing an anonymous audience, so bear with me!

A bit about me....

* I am currently a full-time stay-at-home-mum to two boys aged 5 and a half and almost 3
* I am a chartered accountant but stopped work when I had my first son
* I relocated to a small village in Northampstonshire in January 2012 due to my husband's job

I have only recently discovered the world of blogging. It has always been something I have heard and read about but never really thought much about. Recently I have stumbled across a few blogs whilst rummaging around the internet and have become totally hooked. I had no idea there were so many people, many just like me, out there sharing their day to day lives, hopes and dreams. I'm already a prolific Facebooker, and love the slightly voyeuristic element of reading people's status updates, looking at their holiday snaps and now reading their blogs!

I hope this will be the start of a beautiful friendship, and I look forward to sharing more details of my life in the countryside with 2 small boys.

Off to wilf my life away....