Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Eat that Frog

I have a rather embarrassing self-help book habit. The ones I favour are designed for business people, or are all about organization. I am NOT drawn to the relationship genre. Anyway, over the next month or so I thought I would select my favourites from the category.

This first one I bought at an airport. I can't remember which one, or where I was going, but I remember allowing myself to buy it because buying stuff at airports doesn't count. Like eating standing up. Here it is:

I figure a book is good if one (helpful) thing from it sticks with you. In this case, that one thing is the title of the book -- Eat that Frog! Basically the idea is that you should figure out what the one big task is that you should do each day. The one you are dreading, and that will make a big impact. Do that one thing FIRST. Mum and I talk about our frogs all that time. Today my frog is contacting someone to replace our boiler. I seem to be blogging first instead. Oops.

There's other stuff in the book too, all very concise, common-sense helpful hints about getting your shit done. Love it.

Monday, 28 April 2008


I did indeed joint a chicken. It was successful, though it did demonstrate just how dull my knives are. I have had them for several years, and they are good knives, but they have not been well cared for. Once we get our kitchen done (end June), I will get them professionally sharpened, and never abuse them again.

Anyway, what I should have done was take a photo before jointing, of the jointed pieces, and then of the finished meals. I only have shots of the middle section.

Here it is all jointed up:

The breasts were the most impressive part -- much larger than you get when buying pieces:

Nearest & Dearest marinated these and cooked up a lovely chicken, sweet potato, and green bean meal with a wine sauce. Yummy.

I tackled the dark meat, as I love it. Here it is, looking lovely in our one and only Le Creuset:

I baked it with a barbeque sauce a la Delia. Success.

I then planned to make stock from this carcass:

But it's still sitting in the fridge, waiting for rubbish day. I'm just not that good.

Parenting Bliss

Today will be Foxy's first afternoon at the creche. I stay with him the whole time today, apparently it is not the done thing to just throw them in from the doorway and run :).

I have had a heavenly morning packing up Foxy's first school bag. It's so cute I can hardly stand it:

It has in it nappy supplies, two changes of clothes, and his teddy. I ordered a duplicate so he will have the same teddy at home and at creche. In the past hour I sewed a name tape on it so it won't get lost.

I feel like a proper Mum.

Sunday, 27 April 2008


I have just returned home from a weekend at Mums. I went because Sian was going to Canterbury to celebrate a friend's birthday, and I am not a huge fan of my own company. Mum was supposed to come here, but she was under the weather, so we trecked over. The highlight of the weekend for me was eating burgers while watching Britain's Got Talent. It was the lack of talent that was so entertaining. Our favourite moment was Simon Cowell saying "just drag him off," about a man who was failing to houdini himself out of a mail bag. Priceless.

Anyway, during my visit Mum requested that I get Homestead Mom's blog link back up, which I have done. I like that just about everyone who reads my blog also reads hers. On my visit before last, we had a dinner party and ended up discussing the Homestead. They were surprised that I don't know Homestead Mom personally. I love the internet, what a kick!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Bits & Stuff

Have you been wondering how I got on at WeightWatchers? Well, OK. I lost 1.5 lbs, without dieting so much as allowing myself to get hungry between meals and cutting out alcohol. We'll see if I can loose weight with this casual approach, or if I will need to be a bit more task oriented soon. Slow loss would be just fine with me.

I have been busy & unwell, ergo lack of posting. The unwell part really ticked me off. Whilst trying to switch over to a bottle for Foxy's mid-morning feed, I managed to develop mastitis. I felt unwell for 24 hours, until the antibiotics kicked in. Anyway, I am now officially FED UP to the back teeth with breastfeeding. I am ready to wrap it up, but I see now that it must be a slow process. How tedious.

Because of the whole mastitis malarkey, we had a crazy day on Saturday. Mum and I were booked in for a knife skills class in London that ran from 11 - 2:30. I have the loveliest partner EVER -- Nearest & Dearest came with me to London with Foxy so I could feed the boy right before and after class. What a total star woman she is.

Because of above mentioned class, I can now joint a chicken. I will be doing so later today. Perhaps I will post a picture of my efforts.

Monday, 21 April 2008


About a week ago I had a wave of something new. I felt BORED. Pretty good going for four months I think, and certainly not long lasting. Still, it was there. At the same time, I have work guilt. I have not been taking good care of my PhD students, and I have a few other over-due bits of work that I can't seem to motivate myself to get done during naps or in the evening.

So. I've decided to ease myself back to work. Harry is going to start at the University creche a week from today. He will be going in the afternoons (2 - 5) Mon, Tues, Thurs, & Fri. I am feeling all good about this. I am looking forward to having my office back. My maternity cover has been using it, and it feels like someone has been wearing my clothes. As is every worker's wish, my replacement is not popular, and I am looking forward to catching up on all the gossip.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Buggy Fitness

The other NCT mums have been going to buggy fitness for a few months now. I have resisted. This week I decided it was time. They assured me that it was a laugh, mucking about at the back, jolly stroll through the park, that sort of thing. WELL. There was jogging. There were leg exercises. More jogging. Arm exercises. More jogging. Tummy exercises. Dear lord, but it was a shock to the system. They did admit to lying in order to lure me in. Bastards. I knew something was afoot when I saw the water bottles, evidence of sports bras, and hair up in scrunchies.

Foxy thought it was hilarious. He actually laughed at us from his throne. Charming.

I will be going again next week. I clearly need it.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Family Time

So last week I was in Oxford. I had a lovely time, seeing Mum, my sister and the nieces and nephews, my Mum's allotment, & some of my Mum's friends. I should have lots of lovely pics to share, at least of Foxy playing with his cousins. But I am hopeless at taking photos. All I have is this:

This is my great failing as a blogger, I must improve. Pretty cute though, lounging boy getting the good stuff from Grandma.

Anyway, contrast this with Sunday, when family of Nearest & Dearest came for lunch. Here I am cooking:

Cousins playing:

Family eating (note who is taking the photo):

Foxy with his Uncle:

Foxy's very advanced cousin playing with Grandma:

Anyway. I am so pleased that Foxy will be growing up with aunts, uncles, & cousins on both sides, and grandparents to dote on him. I grew up in a geographically isolated nuclear family; this is better.

Slummy --> Yummy Mummy

It was time for the transformation to begin. I have been looking much like roadkill, or at least a version of myself pulled through a hedge backwards. Last week I was in Oxford visiting Mum while the bathroom was being done, and she suggested some "treatments." In fact, she suggested this during my previous visit as well, but I declined. This time I took the hint.

Looking at self, I decided the quickest improvement could be made by having my hair cut and eyebrows shaped. Vast improvement, thank you mother.

Then, on Sunday, the in-laws and I discussed doing WeightWatchers. I was all gung-ho, but I had also consumed a fair bit of wine. On Monday I thought no, I won't bother. Not yet. On Tuesday I accidently weighed myself. How does one accidently weigh oneself? Well, I wanted to check on Foxy's weight. Usually Nearest & Dearest does the trick of weighing self with and without baby, but she was at work, so I hopped on the scales without thinking.

OH MY GOD. After the birth I lost all my pregnancy weight in about 4 weeks. During that time I was running on adrenaline, not eating properly, and quite nervey. Then I became a calm & confident parent, and convinced myself that I needed to eat like a pig for my milk supply. I have GAINED over 10 pounds. That, together with the fact that I was far from my ideal weight before getting pregnant means that I am in fact HUGE and not happy about it.

I have taken drastic action. I went to WeightWatchers yesterday. I pretended that I hadn't ever been before. Just a bit of baby weight to shift. I have at least 2 stone to loose. This is going to be a long haul. Obviously I will be keeping you updated with my progress.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Foxy Pictures

The Fox loves his teddy bear. It's an extra-special bear picked out by a very discerning South-West London 3-year-old. His Mum knows who I'm talking about :).

Here, the Fox is receiving tuition in style from our long-time friend who lives in Geneva. She has two older boys, and we have her to thank for about half of Foxy's clothes. This is why he looks so damn fine.

This is Foxy's very special rainbow snake -- what could be more appropriate for the first-born into a rainbow family? This came from a very special Israeli friend of ours. I have a terrible habit of planning to write heart-felt thank-you cards, and not getting around to it before the gift-giver is forced to ask me whether or not I received the gift. Yes, we did receive the lovely gifts, and the snake is one of Foxy's favourites now that he can grab at things and pull them around. Many, many thanks!

I believe I am now the only family member still dressing in velour. Looking at this photo, I can see why it is no longer in fashion.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies...

remain my most frequent baking pleasure. I have childish tastes, what can I say. They are delicious, comforting, and remind me of my very happy childhood. The aroma is pure Americana.

I had a problem when I moved to England. Here, baking measurements are done by weight, rather than volume. What to do about the classic Toll House recipe? The real problem was the butter. You can imagine. Mother to the rescue. She measured out all the ingredients, and converted into weight. Here's the Anglicised recipe:

Cream together:
8 oz salted butter (what is up with unsalted butter anyway?)
4 oz caster sugar
4 oz soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence

2 large eggs
& mix well.

Sift together:
12 oz plain flour
1 tsp bicarbinate of soda
1 tsp salt

Add these dry ingredients slowly, mixing as you go.

Finally, stir in 12 oz plain chocolate chunks. I like chopped up Cadbury's Bourneville bars for this.

Cook at 180 C for around 12 mins, rotating half way through.

Warning -- cookie batter puts a strain on hand mixers. It is the best excuse to purchase a Kitchen Aid.

So, I made these last weekend. Perfection, if I do say so myself:

Thursday, 3 April 2008

A New Beginning

It is just about a year to the day that I found out I was pregnant with the Fox; this seems as good a time as any to start a new, public blog.

My intention is to have some general interest posts, as well as the usual baby-obsessed minutia.

Let me know what you think!

Cast On

I have my Nearest & Dearest to thank for this first installment of link love. In preparation for labour, my Nearest & Dearest scouted out some podcasts for me to listen to. She found a knitting podcast called Cast On, which I adore. I did indeed listen to it during early labour, as well as plugging myself into it the night after the Fox was born in order to avoid facing the weird detached empty feeling that came over me. Since then, I have continued to enjoy the podcast during feeding, especially at night (now blessedly rare).

It's a podcast for knitters, but there's a lot of general interest stuff in the shows. I like most of the music, and the host has a lovely voice. Best of all, she just blabs on about her life in west Wales, and it's charming. I love it.

One thing that is really neat is that I discovered that the host of the show, Brenda Dayne, and I have much in common. She is also a transplanted American (ok, I know I was born in England, but did much of my growing up in California), civilly partnered to a British woman. The difference is that she is an expert knitter (obviously), whilst I am an eager but basically crap knitter.

So this week's link is Cast On, where you can download the podcast (62 episodes and counting) and read all about it. Enjoy.