Wednesday, 30 September 2009

My glamorous 'doing sanding' get-up: Harry and I played on the trampoline this afternoon.(I have always really loved my kids' feet for some reason!) Veggie soup for tea - we needed some carrots for it:
I like the sky at the bottom of our garden
Off to book club now.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Today (I Hate Forms)

I was sitting here filling in tonnes of boring forms, and felt like moaning about them on here instead. I have 4 kids in 4 different settings, so fair enough, there are bound to be a few letters and forms, but why do I have to fill in loads of parent contact froms, health forms, etc etc when they could just use last year's? Also why are online forms so complicated too? I've just done Harry's application for school next year, and what a palava - I couldn't remember my password from 3 years ago (funnily enough), with no way to retrieve it. I also have to fill in a form for it, about our church attendance. There is a box for 'Length and degree of involvement in the life and work of the church'. Ha. Give me a bigger box.

Maybe I would feel more like forms though if I'd had a bit more sleep (though maybe not). Harry woke at about 2am, and I didn't get to sleep till 5.30 ish. Harry has started coughing in the night, and I seem to have pulled muscles down one side of my back, plus my opposite shoulder is playing up again, and I've had a headache pretty much since Saturday morning. Also Lucy is really poorly again and took today off school. We had a nice day though - Lucy and I watched a chick-flick while Harry was at playgroup, then Harry and I had naps this afternoon. Harry came home with a cut on his head from a kid at playgroup, but didn't seem too worried by it.

Actually yesterday, Harry went home with one of his playgroup friends after playgroup, so I had ALL DAY to myself (which I spent talking to Mum on the phone and wallpapering). The Mum who had looked after Harry said I would have been so proud of him - he had beautiful manners and was offering to help her carry things etc! Thank goodness he's not a hooligan all the time!

Right, 3 more forms, and I am done. Come on Helen - you can do it.

Later... Down to one last form now - that can wait till tomorrow. Happy because Scott came home from church meetings (or it might have been his rehearsal as The Wizard of Oz), with the weekly shopping, flowers for me and doughnuts :)

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Mini Books

I made a couple of mini books this week - one for me to keep track of when I borrow and lend books, and the other for a friend from church who is moving back to the States, with the military. This is normally the domain of my craft blog, but I just found out that my 'Books' book got picked for the top five on a craft contest site, so I am pleased!

Primary Presentation

Today was the first and last time all our kids would be in a Primary Presentation at the same time as each other. I thought this quite a noteworthy event, partly because I got to sit through Sacrament Meeting with no kids whatsoever, and WITH my husband - for the first time in 7 1/2 years!
I decided to take some pictures of the kids before church, anyway. They were not in what you might call a good photography session mood... these are the best of about 30 photos:They were however all very good in the presentation, speaking and singing beautifully (though Harry only agreed to go up if he could take with him his big train tied onto a 2 metre length of rope). I really felt the spirit of the presentation strongly (it was about Eternal Families), and felt very joyful and uplifted through all of church.

Friday, 25 September 2009


John just asked me for the chutney recipe... that is a swear word to me at the moment! Chutney seems to be the theme of the last couple of days: I managed to overcook the double batch I made yesterday, and it didn't taste right, so that is now on the compost heap. So I made a new batch today (bearing in mind it took me 2 hours to prepare it all yesterday, never mind the 4 hours of cooking...) and I HAVE TOTALLY BURNT IT. The house now smells even worse than yesterday. I'd put it on to simmer, and then went to do fillering in the bathroom, and forgot about the chutney. Oh dear. I will have to do it again when I have more lemons. Third time lucky! It is going to be the most expensive chutney ever made by the time I do it.
Anyway, it is a very nice chutney, and here is the recipe:

1.5 kg Cooking Apples
500g Onions
500g Sultanas
750g Demerara Sugar (or any sugar)
500ml White Wine Vinegar (or any vinegar 5% aciditiy or above)
Zest & Juice of 2 Lemons
1 Small Chilli
1 tsp ground Ginger
1 tsp ground Allspice
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
Pinch of Ground Cloves
1/2 tsp Salt
8 Peppercorns
1 tbsp of Mustard Seeds

1. Wash, peel, core and chop apples finely.
2. Peel and chop onions finely.
3. Put all ingredients into heavy bottomed pan and bring slowly to the boil. Stir till sugar is dissolved.
4. Simmer very gently, with bubbles barely breaking the surface, until the chutney has thickened, stirring every now and then, and not getting distracted by fillering. It is ready when drawing a spoon across the bottom leaves a definite track. This will take at least 4 hours.
5. Pot into sterilised jars, with plastic lined lids. (Sterilise jars, by washing them then putting in the oven at 160c for a few minutes. Leave them in the oven and use them while still quite warm. Boil the lids or rubber ring seals for 5 mins). Store in cool dry place for at least a month.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

This Week

I was just trying to remember what we have been up to this week...
Saturday, I went to the gym and was back before Scott even woke up! I've said I will try and go once a week from now on - I've been a member since July 08 and have only ever been about 5 or 6 times.
We then took the kids to the £1 cinema to see Night at the Museum 2, which I actually quite enjoyed! I can remember one point sitting in the cinema, and looking at Harry who was being really good, all curled up in his cinema seat, and thinking that at this very moment I am totally happy.

Sunday at church my new calling was announced - Activities Committee. The Activities Chairwoman is pretty organised, and so it should be good working with her. Visiting the ward was someone who used to be a missionary in our ward when I was a teenager. He recognised me, and it was nice to talk to him and his wife.
After church we had the Holmans round for dinner. I am gradually getting round to inviting all the new(ish) members in our ward round for dinner. It's been really good getting to know everyone a bit better. I think our ward is great!

On Monday Jack was ill off school, and so I had to organise swapping my Playgroup duty, so I could stay home with him. It took a while to do, and then I went and forgot to ring the school about Jack, and tell Jack's friend he wouldn't be walking. I always seem to forget something! (Last week I didn't collect Tom after school one day, because I thought he had Football club, but it wasn't on, so they had to ring me {at least I wasn't the only parent who did it!}, then today I actually forgot he had Football club, and had to drive in to drop his kit off for him and leave him a message...) Mum and dad are back from France now (Hurray!), and so had good chats with them on the phone.

Tuesday was Lucy's first ever Young Womens - she got invited to attend early. This means Scott won't be able to do the shopping after his Tuesday night meetings any more. She seemed confident enough about it and had a good time. Also on Tuesday I was ironing when the iron set on fire - with actual flames coming out!

Wednesday morning, I had the urge to make something, so made the book over on my craft blog. Later, after a picnic in the park with one of Harry's playgroup friends, we headed into town to buy a new iron, ironing board, and do the weekly shop.
In the evening Jack had a church friend over for tea. For some reason I doubled the normal quantities (my maths must not be good: 6+1 does not equal 12) so we had tonnes of toad-in-the-hole and veg. I did mini toad in the holes, with half a sausage in each Yorkshire pudding pan - they were well cute! After I dropped Jack's friend home, I picked up his Mum and another Sister to go to an enrichment activity on Chutney making.

I absolutely loved the chutney and have spent all this afternoon making my own! I doubled the quantities, and it seems to have made rather a lot!! Also the house reeks of vinegar, and my hands and eyes are still killing from chopping SO MANY onions, and chillis. Jack said he could smell it before he even got home from school. (Ha ha! my friend has just this minute dropped Tom home from Football for me, and said 'something smells nice'!!)
Spent this morning Visiting Teaching, and my own Visiting Teachers are coming this evening. I really like them coming! I usually forget they are coming though, but at least today I probably won't. The people we visited today had forgotten though (I am naming no names - you know who you are, ha ha!) and so we taught someone in their pyjamas, and someone alse with dripping hair and a towel on their head. I am so happy I am not the only one who forgets things!

Also, when I got in last night, Scott had just booked our flights for America next spring. Eeek! We are going to Salt Lake City for a couple of days (and General Conference), then hiring a car and driving to San Francisco via Bryce, Hoover Dam, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Sequoia (Sp?), Yosemete etc, then heading back to SLC to meet up with John and Hannah again, and fly to New York for a couple of days (and hopefully one day to Washington), before home.
I feel pretty jammy!

Lucy got home from school late today. She said she had to rescue a chicken they found on the pavement, on the way home.
Jack is outside painting the fence at the moment. He is trying to earn some money for a Survival Kit he saw in the Lakeland catalogue. (He looks a bit daft because he's got my old painting clothes on, because all his clothes are too clean.) Tom wanted a job to do too, so he is out raking the garden. Harry is looking a total GRUB and has managed to wear holes in the knees of his trousers (that were fine this morning), and he's just told me his underpants have got 2 holes in (I assume he doesn't mean the leg holes).
I had better clear up the kitchen now... wreckage from the chutney making, and make dinner.
Sorry this is a bit long and boring, and no photos.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Can you guess from the pictures who was at home today? yep, Lucy and Harry (...I do like Jack and Tom too, they just weren't around to have photos taken of them). Lucy has been off school ill the last 2 1/2 days, and has only picked up a bit later on today. She managed to make 3 days worth of mess though since this afternoon - after hearing she might have a new pen friend, she felt inspired to make hand-made paper to use for writing on. This involved tearing up huge amounts of paper/tissue, turning it into a soggy, gluey mess, adding glitter, food colouring and essential oils (house now stinks of Rose Geranium & Lavender), then making a wire frame, covering it in tights, slopping the mixture on, and rolling pin-ing it out. And in about 3 weeks it may have dried out. This kind of thing always reminds me of a Garfield poster my mum used to have that said 'Creativity is not a pretty sight'.
The culprit: Harry spent ages playing with cars today.
Some of the paper-making:
My lovely pickled beetroots finally done!
Scott and Jack playing chess last night.

I was reading a book about Jesus to Harry yesterday...

Harry: 'Don't turn the page, I need to get Bobbin' (his soft toy donkey)

Me: 'Does Bobbin need to learn about Jesus'?'

Harry: 'Nope. Bobbin hasn't got blood in his body. He's got air in. Metal Air'

Sometimes I haven't a clue what is going through this child's head.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Harry has been wearing either blue goggles, or 3 baseball caps at once, for much of today. Once upon a time I might have modified his outfit, but 4 kids down the line, I can cheerfully smile at the other parents on the school run and not mind at all the fact my kid looks a total loony.

Monday, 14 September 2009

I'm really proud of Lucy. She got called in to a meeting before school today and didn't know why - it turns out she has been chosen for the 'Gifted & Talented' programme there. There are a couple of kids from each class who will have extra lessons etc. (She was also told that some of the kids in the programme took GCSE's 2 1/2 years early last year!)
The food theme seems to be continuing...
Harry and his friend Henry were waiting for me at the end of Playgroup today and had obviously been scheming - Henry ended up coming round to play this afternoon. I got more stuff out the garden and Henry saw me grating up the courgette ready for the freezer, and asked me about it, so I decided to make Courgette Loaf with them. They enjoyed it and kept checking the oven window every 5 minutes to see the loaves rising. We sent Henry home with one and he seemed pretty pleased.
I've just got a lot of beetroot to get on with pickling now. At least I will have my year's supply! Noone else really likes it!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Food Blog

Yes, there seems to be a food theme today.
Harry with our biggest carrot so far out the garden. I needed it for the chicken pie, but Harry ate it.The kids love it when we have Chicken Pie for tea, so they can say 'Chick-in Paaa-ey' like they do in the film 'Chicken Run' (Is it a Yorkshire or Lancashire accent?)The 150 scones I made (very hygienically) for the 'Unity in the Community' event tomorrow:

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

My To Do List for Today

*Take Harry and Tom to school and playgroup
*Study the 2nd half of my online Food Hygiene Certificate course (this is truly the most painfully boring thing I have ever done...for eg. a whole check list on how to wash my hands... and I have no idea how detailed the assessment will be at the end, so can't afford to not swot up on every little detail)
*Take the assessment & pass it!
*Get the ingredients for making 150 scones (That is tomorrow's job, and why I need the Hygiene Certificate. They are for a church Unity in the Community thing)
*Tune in the new TV which just arrived. Scott jokingly said that that is a 'pink job', and I need to do it so he can watch the football (or whatever it is) tonight. I also want the TV sorted out so I can be a bad Mum and make all the kids watch TV after school if they get too rowdy, so I can get on with everything else!
*Ring the Planning office and persuade them to come out here and help me narrow down what plan to submit for planning permission for our extension.
*Clear up the house
*Wash lots of bedding (someone had an accident in the night)
*Weed the patio that looks like a jungle
*Pick, cook and pickle my beetroot crop before it all grows woody and revolting
*Pick up my friend's 2 kids from school (and mine), and look after them till she gets back from a funeral
*Make tea
*Make a special card and post it to for my friend's birthday
*Do the ironing
*Pick up a couple of people and go to tonight's quarterly Enrichment activity at church
*Think about what meals to do for the people we invited for dinner tomorrow night, and on Sunday
*Get a gift for a birthday party Scott and I are going to on Saturday night

(or I might just sleep all day, because Harry woke me up far too early this morning...)

Update... 2.08pm and I have cleaned the house, sorted out the new TV, finished the course and taken my assessment. I actually took it twice, but managed to delete the first one by accident at the end, so had to do a whole different test again. Passed it! Got 97% (got something wrong about ventilation systems). Glad I can officially make scones now without making people ill.

10.11pm. Didn't do the beetroot or the patio. Or the ironing. Oh well... bed time!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Haahh.... peace.... all the kids are at school/playgroup and the house is (mainly) tidy. It was meant to be like this yesterday, but I ended up spending the morning at playgroup at the last minute. I went to get my hair cut this morning (for the first time in nearly six months) and it was very relaxing having 2 people blow drying my hair! The hairdresser finished it with staighteners though...I looked like I got sucked through something. I got it back to its normal messy self now.
I had a lovely talk about the Gospel and everything we believe, with a parent from Tom's school last week, that lasted nearly all day. I saw her this morning and she's asked to come over this afternoon again, which'll be nice.
The kids are all enjoying school - Jack is walking on his own now part of the way (another source of anxiety for me to get over!), but I think it will be good for him to be independant from Lucy a bit more. They all enjoyed the England/Slovenia game at Wembley on Saturday - came back late with scarves/flags etc.
Scott and I bought a new telly online last night - we finally got sick of our current arrangement: you can have DVD but with the TV faintly in the background, Freeview when it feels like it, but only about 3 channels, yesterday it was video with no sound, or DVD with the picture all gone green or red. And normal telly isn't worth watching at all. We've watched almost none since we got back from France - just watching odd episodes of the West Wing on DVD. I don't feel too bad about buying a new one - if you could see the motley collection we have had over the years (mainly Ken & Bev's old ones) you'd know what I mean. Scott was looking at some enormous big black shiny monstrosities, and I said what about a small silver one? We are getting a nice smallish silver one. Isn't compromise great!!
Photos of me and Scott for a change, looking old!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Spent a pleasant rest of the afternoon with Harry on the trampoline. He's invented his own sport (I'll call it skampolining - spot the skateboard) It is lovely to watch him so confident and free in his own body. Had a lovely tea and chat at Ben and Anna's :)
Well Tom went back to school on Thursday, and Lucy started secondary school yesterday! She was looking forwards to it, and her day went fine! Jack and Harry start school and playgroup on Monday. Four kids in four different schools...four lots of letters...that's the worst bit. They've been getting on each others nerves a bit, but actually I'm sort of sad they're going back and that we have to get into school mode again.

Lucy asked me to teach her how to iron this week, and she's picked it up pretty quickly and has been ironing a few things every day for me, which is great! We have also been working on a recipe book for the kids - Lucy (thinking ahead somewhat) asked me to write down how to make all the basics, for when she goes to uni. The kids all told me the dinners and puddings they wanted adding to the book, and we've been working on typing them up. I like teaching them that kind of stuff.

I am on my own with Harry this afternoon - Scott has taken Lucy, Jack and Tom to Wembley to see England play Slovenia (I think). I'm nervous about them going, but certainly didn't want to stop them. I took Harry to the sweetshop when they had gone, and saw Ben & Anna, who invited me for tea - hurray! I then got a few bargains at the local charity shop - a spare school jumper for Lucy, a colourful top I love for me, a load of modelling straws for the kids, a real stethoscope (!) and some toy cars and animals - all for the grand total of £2.50
Here are a couple of pictures of Lucy and her friends who called for her, yesterday (and my gorgeous sunflowers):

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Kirsten's Birthday

Dawn rang up yesterday and said Kirsten wanted to come over on her birthday and play with her cousins. They came over this morning and the kids all played outside. They are pretending to surf here! We made some cupcakes for Kirsten