Monday, 27 July 2009

Work; it's a Four-Letter Word

Remember last week when I said that D.I.E.T. was the yuckiest word in the English language? I may have been wrong. I'm wondering whether W.O.R.K. might be worse. And what about if you start W.O.R.K. while you're on a D.I.E.T. (especially a D.I.E.T. that isn't going too well)?

Well, guess what? I've come to the end of my maternity leave; today I started back to work. I'm now officially a working mum. Whoop-dee-doo! Luckily, I have a job that allows me to work from home and it's just for 21 hours a week, hours which can be done at any time of day or night. So, if the urge takes me to do some work at 1.30am (as if that's likely!) here in my rather impressive office (ha!), I can.

Today I was able to fit in four hours while DC napped and also when hubby kindly took the little chap out for a walk; hopefully DC will continue his daily naps for the forseeable future, thus allowing me to cram in a little work here and there. I had thought originally about putting him in nursery one day a week and it may yet still come to that, but the nursery I wanted him to go to has had a couple of suspected cases of swine flu and, being the over-protective mother that I am, I decided I'd rather keep him at home for the time being. I may come to regret this decision when the work is piling up. Wish me luck!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Kitchen Kapers

Not content with having the house decorated (which reminds me, I never did get round to posting about the finished nursery and the upside down wallpaper in our bedroom), and new carpet laid (if it ever arrives), we are now about to have a new kitchen fitted. But, as you all know, you can't make an omlette without breaking eggs and a new kitchen going in, means an old kitchen coming out.

I'll be so pleased to see the back of this old kitchen. It was in the house when I first lived here, so I think it's at least ten years old. The style isn't really to our taste - the wooden work surface is fine (although is definitely starting to show its age), but it's the 'orange pine' door fronts and shelves that I will be really glad to get rid of. And the layout of the kitchen doesn't work for us now - hubby thinks that breakfast bars are for young people, and we no longer fall in to that category as the thought of perching on bar stools fills us with dread and the need for ibuprofen to ease the aches and pains. Having said that, I will be a little sad to see the end of the breakfast bar for two very different reasons. One - it was the scene of many a drunken gathering prior to some even more drunken nights out in Reading; it was the bar on which many a Pink Lady was mixed and at which many a Pink Lady was consumed. Two - it has now become a very handy changing table (hygienists amongst you may not wish to consider that sentence for too long.) Oh, how my life has changed.

A friend of ours, who is a kitchen fitter by trade, is going to put in our new kitchen in his spare time, which basically means at the weekend. He predicts it will take him two weekends to get it done, starting on 1 August. So we've now started taking the old kitchen out, bit by bit. First to go were two open corner shelf units - sooooo glad to see the back of them! Followed by the glass-fronted wall cabinet and three other wall cabinets. We put all but two of these units on the path at the front of our house with 'Free to a Good Home' labels, and they all went! We were so pleased about this as it firstly meant hubby didn't have to take them to the tip, and secondly it means they will be being used rather than dumped at the tip, and that is good for our recycling karma.
Then it was the turn of the breakfast bar to be taken to pieces, swiftly followed by several of the base units. And that was how hubby and I spent our Saturday afternoon - in destructive mode.

This afternoon Tim delivered the new kitchen in its flat-pack form, so we are now living in a house with three lengths of work surface on the landing, kick boards propped on the stairs and a lot of boxed cabinets leaning against the wall in the kitchen. The contents of the old kitchen cupboards are in boxes in the middle room, and we are living with just a small portion of the original kitchen in situ. Tim says we'll be without a kitchen sink for a week, which will present a small challenge, but at least there's a sink (albeit the size of a tea cup) in the understairs loo.

Looks like a fine excuse for eating out rather a lot in the next couple of weeks...

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Three Go Off To Dorset-shire

At the weekend DC, hubby & I went to visit our friends G.Rachel and G.Gordon in deepest, darkest Dorset-shire. We toddled down on Friday, taking the long route via Devizes and Sherborne. We had wondered about Devizes as a possible future home, but on closer viewing decided against it. Sherborne, on the other hand, would be a definite possibility except that it would take International Businessman approx 2.5 hours to get to London on the train, and that's a bit too far, even though he doesn't have to go that often. Pity as it seemed like a really lovely place. Ho hum.
And totally by accident, we also passed through Great Cheverell which some of you may recognise from Relocation, Relocation as the place where a mother and daughter bought and renovated this pub. (Looks like they should have used some stronger glue on the 'E', unless it's a northern pub known as Th'Bell.)

Look at the colour of that sky. We drove through some atrocious weather on the way to Dorset and while the weather wasn't perfect over the weekend, it wasn't half as bad as it was on the drive down.

We spent a great deal of our time in Dorset relaxing and eating the delicious food prepared by G.Rachel. It was lovely to see them both again as the last time we'd been to visit was in December, when I was six months pregnant. DC was on his bestest, most charming behaviour although the change of scenery, not to mention his first time in his pop-up cot, meant that he woke up at 5am the first morning and 6am the next. Not his fault though, dear little chap. And no possibility of ever being mad at him when you're on the receiving end of the first smile of the day. He just gives you the biggest grin and waves his arms up and down in excitement when you go in to get him out of his cot in the morning. Ahhhh.

On Saturday afternoon we took a trip to Abbotsbury where G.Rachel & G.Gordon are (hopefully, gazumping aside - yes, even in these economic times gazumping is apparently still happening) in the process of buying a house.

Such a pretty little village, with plenty of tea rooms - always a bonus - and a picture perfect view of the sea as you walk round the corner by the church.

All too soon it was time for us to say our farewells and wend our way home. Hopefully it won't be another seven months til we see our dear friends again.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Magazine Update Number II

Here's an update on the number of mags in our house as of today.

Number in the crate outside: 34 (no change)

Number on the table: 59 (5 less than last week; can almost see my new Laura Ashley oilcloth underneath the piles now - yay!)

Number dotted around the house: 5 (2 more than last week)

Number of magazines that have left the building: 4 (1 given to friends, 3 sold on Ebay - makes me feel much better about buying magazines if I can then sell them on and recoup some of the money; Hello seems very popular with overseas Ebayers, so much so that they are willing to pay more than I did for them originally!)

Number of new magazines that have entered the building: 2. Oopsy. But, in my defence, the Waterstone's Books Quarterly is free to Waterstone's card holders, of which I am one.
Total number of magazines in the house: 104 (3 less than last week. Yay!)

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The 'D' Word


Vilest word in the English language - D.I.E.T.

Hubby & I have decided to go on one. Well, since there are two of us I suppose we have decided to go on two, but let's not split hairs (much as I enjoy the splitting of hairs as a past time.)

I had the crazy idea that if I was to share this news with you, dear readers, then perhaps it would be more difficult to give up/succumb to temptation/scoff the entire contents of the treat cupboard in one go. There now, doesn't that give you some idea of what this household is like? We have a 'treat' cupboard. In actual fact it is merely one shelf within a cupboard, but it's a mighty big shelf and it's stocked to the gunnels with all manner of fine foods. Mostly the fine type that are covered in chocolate. Or whose main ingredients are sugar and fat. Can you spot the tub of choc mini rolls from M&S, the millionaire's shortbread from Waitrose, the Bonne Maman madeleines, the Vimto bonbons (urrrggghhh, they belong to hubby), the jar of white and milk choc spread, the box of maple syrup cookies from Canada, and the silver biscuit tin (inherited from my Gran and always known as 'tin biscuit' for some reason), which is currently home to Nice cream biscuits, jammy dodgers and homemade shortbread biscuits. And there are plenty more 'treats' hiding at the back.

Now, hubby & I have got ourselves into the situation of needing to embark on the D-word due to the fact that of an evening we have a habit of saying to each other 'Shall we have something from the treat cupboard?' We also have a habit of partaking in afternoon tea, and also having a dessert after dinner. And when we make a habit of indulging of all three habits in one day, well that's when the pounds are piled on, the buttons start straining and the wobbly bits are so large they need their own seat on public transport.

So, the deal is that we can only have one of these a day. It's either afternoon tea, or dessert or something from the treat cupboard in the evening. NOT ALL THREE, as has oft been the case.

We have a few events coming up which will act as marker posts along the dieting highway. On 1 August we are going to a wedding, on 10 October another wedding and on 30 October we're off on our hols. So the plan is to see how much we can lose for each of these occasions.
On Monday I weighed XXstone and 1lb (not going to let you in on what the XX stands for, although perhaps I should replace it with XL?!). Let's see what I weigh on the morning of 1 August, just 17 days away...

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Hither and thither

Enough magazine talk, what else has been going on in my little world? Well, the other Sunday we had a family outing to Hampton Court to meet some friends for a picnic. We didn't 'do' the house or the maze or the parts of the garden that you have to pay for (cheapskates, eh?!), we simply made ourselves at home on the grass in the freebie section and had a very enjoyable few hours chatting and eating. Oh, and I made a little visit to the souvenir shop.

International businessman has been in meetings in Swindon for the last two Tuesdays so DC & I have hitched a lift in the international businesscar and toddled onwards to Bristol to visit the grandparents. And on the way back to fetch IB from his meetings, DC & I have made a couple of sneaky trips to the outlet village where a fool and her credit card are soon parted. Garden chair from John Lewis, check. Babygros from Next, check. Baby vests from Gap, check. Chocolate mini rolls from M&S, check. Yes sirreee, even the choc mini rolls are available at knockdown prices! I was rather tempted by the offer of 9kilos of Mini Eggs for £10 in the Cadbury Factory Shop, but just about managed to resist. 9 kilos! That's more than DC weighs, and he's a hefty lump.

On Saturday we had a family outing to Witney and Chipping Norton as part of our quest for the perfect place to live. It was our third trip to Chipping Norton, which is currently top of the list of possible locations. We quite liked Witney, but thought it might be a little too busy for us, although we did manage to visit on the day of the local fete/dog show so that might have had something to do with it (clearly everyone was hiding when I took this photo.) Chipping Norton was as lovely as usual. And then on the way home we drove through Burford, which is just the prettiest little place. For some reason we've managed to drive through Burford at least two or three times but have never actually stopped, but even the brief glimpses through car windows have made me want to live there. And I think hubby agrees.

This Sunday, DC & I took a stroll round Henley while hubby worked hard at his allotment. We walked along by the river, neatly sidestepping the many and varied tourists in town for the Regatta/Festival,stopped for coffee and a cake in our favourite cafe, Hot Gossip (here's DC getting comfy on the sofa - fear not I only propped him there for a minute while I made up his bottle),made a detour to the new Laura Ashley shop, popped in to the Oxfam Book Shop, toddled along to Boots and Monsoon, then over the road to the new Maison Blanc patisserie/boulangerie where a couple of fancy cakes slipped in to my hands, and then ended the afternoon in the new wool shop where I was forced to buy the ingredients to make a cushion cover from undyed wool straight from New Zealand.

On Monday, poor little DC had his third lot of jabs but before taking him to the nurse I made a return trip to Laura Ashley and bought some new oil cloth for the kitchen table. I also got hold of a half-price 60cm remnant that I thought I might be able to make in to something (bunting perhaps), although no doubt it will simply join the pile of other 'craft' projects which have yet to be finished, or even started. And, in case you were worrying/wondering, DC coped admirably with his jabs - he didn't even cry when the needle went in for the first one, and even after the third he only cried for the shortest time and before long he was smiling again. Brave little bear.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Magazine Update Number I

Things are improving on the magazine front. Looks like talking about my problem is helping to solve it. Tee hee.

Here's an update on the number of mags in our house as of today.

Number in the crate outside: 34 (no change)

Number on the table: 64 (4 less than last week, making it so much easier to eat our dinner off the table)

Number dotted around the house: 3 (2 less than last week)

Number of magazines that have left the building: 6 (4 given to friends, 2 sold on Ebay, would you believe?!)

Number of new magazines that have entered the building: 3. Oopsy.
Total number of magazines in the house: 104 (3 less than last week. Yay!)

By the way, I calculated how much the mags had cost me (before I bought the latest 3). It was actually less than I had feared - 100.70 (not including the mags in the crate outside since most of those had arrived via gift subscriptions.) Now, I'm not saying that it's a small amount of money, but it's certainly less than I thought it might have been. Phew.

Oh dear, I have another problem

Let's put the magazine issue aside for a moment and move on to what could, in some ways, be seen to be an ever bigger problem. Now, I admit that I have had some of my magazines for quite a while (2005 copies of Wanderlust which I was keeping as I thought they might be useful for holiday research), but this is even more serious.

Like many of you who are making the best effort to be 'green', I keep my plastic carrier bags so I can re-use them (as rubbish bags, nappy bags, for return trips to the supermarket, etc, etc) and I also keep paper bags for the same reason. There's an ulterior motive for keeping paper bags too - they nearly always look really nice! It seems that it's the 'fancier' shops who use paper bags, and perhaps my thinking is that if I re-use them when out and about, people will be impressed by how fancy I am. Ha! Except it would seem that I don't re-use my paper bags, I just keep them. And that, dear readers, is the problem. Look and learn, and let this be a lesson to you all...

The other evening I needed some thick paper to wrap a parcel so I reached down my 'bag of bags' from its resting place on top of the fridge-freezer and pulled out this little beauty.
It's from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York - now that's a bit fancy, isn't it? As I was about to take the scissors to it, I noticed there was a receipt still attached at the top. Now, being a curious type I decided to have a little look at the receipt to see what it was I had bought when last at the Museum. Three books, apparently. I couldn't remember buying them, and in fact couldn't even remember going to the Met the last time hubby & I were in NY (last May, for a whole month - yay!) That was when I had a little peek at the date.

September 29th.



That's last century.

That's 17 years ago.

That's when I was still at university.

That's just unbelievable.

As my friend Liz said when I told her, 'Some people have been born, been to school and left again in the time you've had that bag.'

It also means that I have packed up and taken that bag with me everytime I've moved since then. And that means I have packed it up not once, not twice, not even three times, but TEN times.

Is there any hope for me? Hubby thinks not.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Variations on a Theme

In the hope that talking about your problems can help solve them, I've decided to continue with the theme of my magazine addiction and you, dear readers, can be my therapist. I've collected all the magazines from around the house and put them on the kitchen table so that the scale of my problem can be really appreciated.

So here you are - my entire magazine collection. Sort of. Minus the one outside that I was reading over breakfast, and the one upstairs on the edge of the bath, and the one under the pram, and the one on my bedside table and the one on the floor in the living room. And the entire crate of 34 Conde Nast Traveller and Wanderlusts dating from 2005 & 2006 that hubby is constantly moaning about.But aside from those, here is my collection. My name is Wifey and I'm a Magazine Addict. There, I said it. Except that when I was reading Country Homes and Interiors this morning over breakfast, I was thinking to myself 'Hmmm, this magazine is lovely, I really should buy it more often.'

So, here are the magazines broken down pile by pile, starting from top left.

Top Row
Mother & Baby: 4 issues from September, October and November 2008. Such is my problem I managed to buy two copies of the Sept issue, and the Nov issue is still wrapped in cellophane with its free gifts (might become a collector's item in years to come if I keep it in this pristine condition...)
Pregnancy and Birth: 4 issues, Aug-Nov 2008
Prima Baby & Pregnancy: 2 issues, Oct & Nov 2008, with Nov still being wrapped in cellophane
Pregnancy, Baby & You: 3 issues, Aug-Oct 2008
Parenting & Pregnancy: 3 issues, Oct-Dec 2008
Can you see a theme developing there? Although I was pregnant from July-March, I clearly got bored of reading (or not reading, as is mostly the case) the same old thing in these pregnancy mags and by around Oct/Nov, with four months still to go, had given up on them.
Grazia: 1 issue, 13 Oct 2008

Middle Row
Easy Living: 1 issue, June 2009
Woman & Home: 11 issues, Sept 2008-July 2009 (all donated by my mother-in-law)
Selection of 5 magazines bought to take in to hospital when giving birth to DC, including Country Living, Hello & Period Living
Hello: 6 issues, 28 Oct 2008-29 June 2009 (mostly donated by my mum)
Ideal Home: 1 issue, July 2009
Wanderlust: 3 issues, Nov 2006, March & April 2007
Conde Nast Traveller: 1 issue, Nov 2008

Bottom Row
8 catalogues, inc IKEA, M&S, Mamas & Papas, John Lewis
Marie Claire: 1 issue, May 2009
Good Housekeeping: 9 issues, July 2008-May 2009 (all donated by my m-in-l)
Junior: 1 issue, July 2009
Source: 1 issue, May/June 2009 (at least this is a freebie mag, from Waitrose)
Real Homes: 1 issue, Jan 2009
M&S magazine: 1 issue June 2009 (again, a freebie)
Country Life: 1 issue, 27 May 2009

That's a total of 68 on the kitchen table, plus 34 in the crate and five dotted around the house. Making a grand total of 107 magazines. I'm wondering whether to add up how much I've spent on them. Shall I, or is it too scary? I know I've been given quite a few of these and I also had a subscription to Traveller mag, but still, there's a lot of money been spent on these mags that could (possibly) have been better used elsewhere. If I do add up how much I've spent, perhaps it will help cure my addiction. What shall I do?!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Hello! Hello!

Help; magazines are taking over our home and it's all my fault. I'm a sucker for magazines; I get a strange buzz when I buy a new one but then it inevitably just ends up joining the other magazines that currently reside at our house. And then my mum gives me her copies of Hello once she's finished with them, and hubby's mum gives me her copies of Good Housekeeping and Woman & Home - well, I'm not going to say no to free magazines, am I? Now, let's make one thing clear - I'm not collecting magazines in the way that some people collect stamps. Once I've read a magazine, I almost always then pass it on for someone else to enjoy, or else pop it in the recycling. But, until they're read, the magazines continue to pile up round and about, like one of those houses on 'Life of Grime' where people collect empty egg boxes and yoghurt pots and live in one square foot of space.

So, let's take a little tour around the house, shall we? Here we are in the living room - this is the little table next to 'my' chair.
I've just counted 14 magazines/catalogues in this pile, including at least three copies of Hello, one of Junior (purchased because it has an article on how to bring up boys), one of Country Life, one of Ideal Home and one of Country Living, plus the Mamas and Papas Spring/Summer catalogue and the M&S Home catalogue. The oldest mag in this pile dates from March 2009, and there are in fact three mags here that I bought to take in to hospital when I was giving birth to DC.

Let's turn round 180 degrees and what do we find? This huge cupboard.

And what's inside?This pile of 21 magazines, consisting mainly of Good Housekeeping and Woman & Home dating back as far as July 2008, but also including the IKEA and John Lewis home catalogues (did I mention I can't resist the catalogues that shops give out? Hours of fun drooling over all those things we can't afford/haven't got room for.)

Turn your head a little more, and what's that in the corner, peeking out from behind the sofa?
Ooo, it's a basket full of magazines. But lo! This one is mostly filled with hubby's copies of 'Gardeners' World' and 'Grow Your Own' (dating back as far as September 2006) and only a handful of my mags (including a Hello from October 2008 - Madonna & Guy split!) so I don't feel too bad about that; and it looks like hubby has a collection of much older mags than me so maybe he's the one with the problem...

Let's go in to the hallway (please excuse the delightful-looking underlay - we haven't yet decided on the new carpet.)
Mind you don't trip over the pram with the emergency 'what if I get stuck in a queue/lift/traffic jam/kidnap situation and haven't got my book with me' copy of Good Housekeeping, dating from June 2008.

Take a walk into the next room with me. What's that leaning against my soon-to-be desk?
A bag. And what's inside the bag? Yep, you guessed it.This time we have some Hellos (there's a surprise), along with various birth/pregnancy/parenting titles, Easy Living (a purchase sanctioned by hubby as it had a 15% off Cath Kidston voucher which we only later discovered wasn't valid for wallpaper, which was the only thing we wanted - grrr), Country Living and Good Housekeeping.

Now, what's under the stairs? Oh yes, it's the downstairs loo. And what does every loo need? Reading material (can also come in handy if the loo roll runs out.) Just two mags here - Wanderlust from April/May 2007 and Grow Your Own from August 2006. I probably could do with replacing or at least supplementing these - you wouldn't want to be stuck in here with this rather paltry selection.

Now, come on through to the kitchen. What's that on the table, apart from all the mess/laptop/cafetiere/teddy bear?
Oooo, it's a copy of Hello dating back to, wait for it, 23 December 2008. At least I'm actually reading this issue and, lucky me, I'm just discovering how fashion designer Roberto Cavalli and family, as well as Simon Cowell & Sinitta, are planning to spend their Christmasses (Simon & Sinitta were off to his luxury villa in Barbados, in case you were wondering; the Cavalli family look as if they were going to indulge in a little more plastic surgery.)

Now, come on up the stairs, and what's this on the edge of the bath (near my rather glamorous shower cap?)Hello! And a surprisingly recent copy - 22 June 2009 no less. This one is also in the process of being read and I'm happy to discover that Madonna has been successful in collecting, oops, I mean adopting, another child.

So, there you have it. If you hear of a worldwide shortage of newsprint, just drop me an email and I'll come straight to the rescue. Perhaps you could leave me a comment to let me know I'm not the only one who does this. Or a comment recommending where I can go for help. Magazine Addicts Anonymous perchance?

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Exactly a Year (and 2 Days) Ago Today

'Twas exactly 367 days ago today (can't believe we missed the actual year anniversary - hubby mentioned it the day before, but the day itself slipped by unnoticed) that we find out I was expecting this little bundle of joy, seen here practising for his modelling portfolio, not.

Have I told you the tale of how hubby & I were waiting to board a plane to Australia exactly 367 days ago when I came over all peculiar? We had checked in and hubby had wandered off to have a look at the shops to kill time; when he came back he found me in a blubbering heap, sobbing that I couldn't get on the plane - I absolutely could not bear the thought of flying, especially for such a length of time. Qantas were very understanding and offered to book us on a later flight, but that didn't help me feel any better so we had to wait while our bags were unloaded from the plane (apologies to all those passengers left sitting out on the tarmac) and then come up with a plan of what on earth we were going to do now we were no longer flying off for what was supposed to be the last six weeks or so of our seven-month trip. Luckily our good friends Rachel & Gordon came to the rescue, picked us up from the airport and offered us a bed for the night. And just before they arrived to collect us, I nipped in to Boots at Heathrow and bought a couple of pregnancy testing kits to see if perhaps it was some sort of hormonal thing which had caused my meltdown. Off we toddled to Old Windsor where I made use of the facilities to do what it is you have to do with the pregnancy sticks and the rest, as they say, is history!

So, DC has pretty much been on our minds for a whole year now. Weird really, especially since I never wanted children, but I, indeed we, wouldn't be without him now. Lovely little, funny little, scrumptious little chap that he is.