Monday, 27 January 2014

A Fashion Post

Not your normal fashion post I have to admit, if you clicked over here expecting some photos of very well put together outfits and links to fashion houses and chic boutiques I'd recommend you click away now!

I have mentioned before that I do not have one fashionable bone in my body, I just don't get it! I can't do it! I may see something in a shop window or catalogue and buy it, I have to buy the whole outfit as I can't seem to put things together very well. The phrase "capsule wardrobe" is completely lost on me. How do you mix and match very few items to create many different looks?

If I buy an outfit I wear it, often without looking in a mirror; I am the mum who gets out of the car outside school and then realises that I've come out in very mismatched items, always ill fitting (either too small or too big but never just right!). The outfit is pretty much always teamed with socks (I love socks) or flip flops in Summer, and comfy shoes, occasionally slippers! I have a penchant for leggings (I know I know) matched with ankle boots, given that I'm a little top heavy I probably look a little like Max Wall!
I have slightly different hair!
I was prompted to write this, it's not a cry for help, I'm past caring, when I stepped out of the car at school last week and realised that the sweater I had on was badly faded (and not evenly faded) and the trousers were too short. Sadly I teamed them with suede espadrilles which didn't match at all, luckily I had left off the socks that day - I arrived at school, where the playground has plenty of glamorous mums, and realised how dreadful I looked - this may be bad enough but I'd been at work all day in that outfit!!

I am also an ebay addict too, most of my clothes come from there, I love a bargain although it's debateable how much of a bargain it is when it doesn't fit or doesn't suit you (I wear it anyway!) Just last week I was browsing the bikinis online (new I should add not second hand- eugh!) and came across an expensive range being sold at knock down prices, I find it hard to buy swimsuits as my top and bottom are completely different sizes. Anyway this particular range is available separately and comes in bra sizes - perfect for me. I sought advice from the Little Miss Fashionista (who isn't much better than me it has to be said). She looked at the picture, she looked at me then back at the picture, then gravely shook her head, she then went on, obviously trying to make me feel better "it would look lovely on Dee though!" Dee is a young, glamorous mum from the playground!

My best friend has sneaked into my bedroom before now and thrown clothes away, my much maligned rugby shirt no less - I know it was spattered with paint but had lots more wear in it I'm sure. She has also taken me shopping and asked the assistant to not let me out of the changing room until I was wearing a new outfit. She proceeded to throw things into the cubicle until she was satisfied I looked ok! She did once insist I went for a bra fitting, much to my embarrassment! In the cubicle I went and, as I stood naked apart from my knickers, waiting for the assistant to return, all the fire alarms went off and the tannoy announced that we had to evacuate the building!
 My friend is still convinced I pressed the alarm!

On our last holiday, the unforgettable trip to Cuba, I had dieted for some weeks and lost around 10lb, just enough  - not my pre baby weight but looking good I thought! Because of this I treated myself to a new bikini from a shop specialising in designs for the slightly top-heavy lady. The navy two piece was gorgeous and had jewels stitched on, I wasn't sure if I was a blingy type of person but, given the weight loss I thought it looked great. I wore it all the time, and on the day we went pony trekking I had it on under my T-shirt. Sadly what no one told me until I saw the photos was that all you could see through the T-shirt were the jewels! I looked like I either had far too many nipples or maybe leprosy! I doubt I'll wear it again.......

So please bare with me if I post very few pictures of myself, but I think you'll recognise me should we ever bump into each other in the street! I guess you'll probably cross over to the other side if you see me but hey ho you won't be the first!

As a footnote (ha ha) I do have one very understated but chic and glamorous item in my wardrobe, well two actually. I think you'll agree that this ebay find is just right, perfectly ok to wear with anything, dress them up or down, you can never go wrong with sparkly shoes can you??

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Back on the treadmill

I'm back from my few days away with a girlfriend, well I've actually been back a while now I don't want to give the impression we were away for nearly two weeks -
however fabulous that would be!
Every January we go for 3 nights (and nearly 4 days if we stretch it to capacity) and it is wonderful. We have discussed the optimum time for a pampering break and my friend, who lives a very adult life, not too short of cash and with only one child who flew the nest many years ago, feels that 3 nights is just perfect. I on the other hand am lobbying for a 3 week break!

We left home on Tuesday after the school run and leisurely drove to the bypass (about 10 miles), where we stopped for coffee! Then on to a hotel, (very gorgeous hotel) for lunch, and then on to our spa (now known as our "secure unit") In previous years we've changed the set routine at the spa to suit us and arrived in time for lunch, however this year we were informed that if we arrived before the 3pm check in we would be charged an additional £75, and that wouldn't include the lunch!!

On arrival at the asylum spa and donned dressing gowns as quick as a flash; that is the only time I ever move as-quick-as-a-flash! From there on in it was a short break filled with reading, quiet rooms, prosecco in tumblers (in the bedroom), fab food, saunas and massages - along with heaps of chatter!
 A wonderful time, and on the third day we booked our 2015 break, something to look forward to for next year, whatever this year throws at me I know there is something lovely planned
 (...must start saving....)
We started talking about a spa break around 25 years ago, my friend was a young mum with a toddler and I was unmarried (although living with my boyfriend) and working hard to pay the mortgage on our first house. I think we even got as far as getting a brochure (no internet then) but the prices were far beyond our reach, maybe one day we said.
Well the years rolled by and I got married, she made my wedding dress and both she and her daughter accompanied me up the aisle as bridesmaids, life moved on and 3 children arrived for me (much to everyone's surprise, including me).
Then when Little Miss was 8 months old The Builder surprised me with a couple of days away, but not with him (he knows what I like!). I was told to pack for 2 nights away and wait to be picked up the following day. I phoned my friend in a panic, he doesn't seem to realise that we may have a problem, I'm still fully breast feeding the baby!
She calmed me down but denied all knowledge of the trip. The next morning as I waited with my overnight bag she arrived to pick me up,
she'd planned the whole thing with the Builder and off we went.
He had to try to feed the baby with formula and a bottle! I spent a good few hours at the hotel hiding in the bathroom with a breast pump, those melons needing deflating regularly! I was a little sad that the whole trip spelled the end of feeding the baby myself, I knew she was my last and I'd struggled to feed the two boys but I did start to feel human again.
We said "we must do this again" and over the past 10 year I think we've been away about 7 times, only for 2 or 3 days at a time but I love it so much, quality time with a good friend is worth a lot.
So now I'm home and back to work and the daily routine which just now seems full of mock A level exams, some GCSE exams, the usual school stuff and lots and lots of indoor cricket. Both boys belong to 2 cricket training groups which operate on alternate Sunday evenings, they also play (with The Builder) in a Sunday morning indoor league so lazy Sundays just don't happen in this house. That's on top of the club training sessions and number 1 son's coaching course and all the pre season County training and meetings. Oh I do love cricket.......
On top of that The Builder is nearing the end of a big project which means we have no money, we will have in due course but right now we have ZERO,
so that would be a great time to go on holiday right?
The next few weeks see 2 school trips to get organised for, quite exciting but also a worry given our past experiences - you have to read back to understand why I worry so much.
And as we're split into 3 groups I will worry more as it's one thing encountering a series of disasters as a family but quite another when you're all apart!
Number 1 son is off on a college trip to New York and Washington on February 12th, for 5 days to study politics and history.
He's just a politics student but by the looks of the itinerary they have plenty of free time to wander round and get lost! He has certainly inherited from me the wandering off gene, so gawd help us! On February 13th number 2 son goes off to Sri Lanka on a cricket (surprise surprise!) tour with his school for 10 days, and we've opted to go along.
So for the first time in a very long time we've booked a holiday (to shadow the tour) for 2 adults 1 child - oh how easy that will be!
However we're away for 10 days leaving number 1 son home alone for 5 days- unless he invites friends to stay - oh crikey it gets worse! Party central.......
So I still have airport parking, visas, money (we have none) insurance etc etc to arrange as well as go to work and try to keep this house in order, it's just not going to run smoothly of that I am sure.
So just to reiterate that, and if you haven't read the previous holiday disaster posts, please avoid Sri Lanka for those dates, actually avoid it for the whole of February to be on the safe side! Apologies in advance if you've already booked......

Sunday, 12 January 2014

A Bun Fight and other January Happenings

I thought I would do a bit of a catch up post as so many things have been happening and
 I have no time to blog - no change there then!
 I really enjoyed the free time I had over Christmas and really relaxed, in fact I believe I practically vegetated! My ideal state of dress is a dressing gown although most days I do actually have to get dressed, I do a pretty good job at hiding my true inner self, a lazy slob who would enjoy laying around all day, in comfy clothes
(as my Grandma would have said clothes "on the slack side"- meaning loose fitting)
Over the Christmas break I caught up on many a missed post from some of my favourite bloggers, met several new ones, albeit virtually, and generally mooched around the internet.
Sadly that break came to an end and back to school and work we went, and that treadmill we're on began to turn rapidly again.

Friday was our book group Christmas dinner evening, at bit late obviously! We had originally arranged this for December but events conspired against us and we had to postpone to January. For a change we held our dinner at one of the members houses and hired a chef and waitress, it sounds extravagant but as it was local we didn't need taxis (just accommodating husbands), we took our own drinks and a couple of members supplied a selection of deserts.
 It was therefore less expensive than a restaurant and taxi.
 It proved to be a superb evening and the food was exceptional, even the deserts! We had our usual vote on the best, most memorable and most forgettable books of the year;  always fun after a few drinks as there are always a few books you cannot recall ever having heard of let alone read.
This years favourite was Pompeii by Robert Harris although strangely it was also top of the list for "the one I couldn't finish" - it almost split the group in half.

the glass we all wanted to have our wine in!
 It's an uphill battle now we're back to the grind, ballet started (termly fees and new uniform required), gymnastics started (termly fees due), counting down to the cricket tour (final payment and kit to sort), the start of county cricket training for both (hooray) boys and kit to order and pay for; added to that we have a birthday for a special Little Miss who turns 11 on the 13th - which always seems like the day after Boxing Day to me!

I've been chasing around like the proverbial trying to get organised and buy her a present or two.
This year we had arranged a surprise for her which happened on Saturday, something she'd wanted to do for some time - she had her ears pierced. I know thoughts differ on this but we figured as she approaches High School maybe the time was right. Little tiny sparkly studs now sit on those tiny ear lobes, very pretty but very scary when I saw her leaping around at today's mini party, where she managed to catch them on the sofa and pull one right out!
We had a family tea out yesterday after the ear appointment, both boys had to loiter around the streets of Norwich while the piercing was done despite them wanting to watch! (would there be blood, screaming, fainting maybe?) and today she has friends at home for a cupcake decorating party.
 I feel I have reached a point where, and I probably shouldn't admit this out loud, I really don't want to host another sleepover, organise another party or even host friends for tea - am I a bad mother? Probably!
I had the idea for a cake decorating party a while ago after visiting a cafe where classes were held, Little Miss was keen to go to the city centre venue with a couple of friends. However given my very slap-dash style of parenting when I eventually telephoned the café the next available date was in March - a bit of a long wait when your birthday is in January!
I can do that I thought to myself, how hard can it be? All memories of previous parties for the boys (or should I say scrum downs) were momentarily forgotten and off I went on my journey of random planning and invitation by text message!
I spent most of yesterday making cupcakes for them to decorate as well as the birthday cake. As per family tradition I make all the children's birthday cakes, to their own design. Now I'm no artist and I think they take great pleasure in coming up with increasingly difficult designs, the most memorable one was from Number 1 son when he was about 8, he wanted a cake to look like himself whilst wearing a diving mask and snorkel!! I did manage it, and here is the proof!
A perfect likeness!
This year I was given the spec - a gymnast on a beam! Well you probably have some elaborate ideas on how that should look but there is always a cheats way round things if you search the internet long enough! I came up with this....
I think it does the job, in silhouette, along with the winners gold medal; Number 1 son did ask why there was a giant "H" in the middle but then he is very short sighted! I iced her name on at the top and she seems quite pleased with it - unlike those invited to today's party who were only allowed to look at it as she explained it would not be cut until her actual birthday tomorrow! And I didn't bother with party bags either..... slap-dash I tell you!

The party started at 12 o'clock with parents told to collect at 4pm, just about long enough I thought to ice and decorate a couple of cakes - wrong! I gave them all two cakes each along with piping bags full of buttercream in various colours and lots of different types of decorations. I turned my back to wash up for about 2 minutes and found they'd finished them! So in the end they each did 4 and the boys had to judge the best, they made some super cakes I must admit, and enjoyed it too.
Sadly the decorating only took up about 20 minutes so there was a bit of time to kill, they ended up playing a board game - how very civilised!
I can't believe she's gone from this

and this

to this

those 11 years have gone in a flash, and always accompanied by Tigger!
I have a feeling I no longer have a baby!
On Tuesday I'm off for a few days away with my best friend, we go every year for a bit of pampering; our very own "secure unit" if you will. I'll be home on Friday but will probably manage a bit of blog reading while away. I aim to be spending most of the week laying around, being escorted to treatments or meals -
unfortunately my friend will insist we dress for dinner but apart from that it'll all be good.
And for those wanting a picture of the "haircut of nightmares" it's a bit like this....

don't tell him though, as he seems happy enough with it!
Take care and have a good week, I'll be in the "quiet room" wearing a dressing gown!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

An Emergency Hairdresser

We had an emergency today, not a big one you understand but one which managed to have both me and the builder quaking in our boots for a little while this afternoon.
Number 2 son has hair like Harry Potter, only lighter! It grows in the shape of a mop and is thick, whatever we do to it, it remains mop shaped! He wants it cut, but preferably without leaving the confines of his bed or being more than a metre away from the x-box controller. This obviously presents a problem but being the slap-dash parents we are we often let the little things in life slide - we weren't always slap-dash but after being either side of 50
 (only one of us is the right side of 50!) and after 3 children all of whom can be demanding in their own way, we try to give up stressing over the "little" things.

Very similar, only darker!

So despite having 3 weeks off over Christmas he still didn't manage to get himself a haircut; he is approaching 15 and we do use the little salon in the village which is within walking distance; but as we didn't man handle him through the door his hair has remained mop-like!
It'll do we thought, I was probably going to get round to sorting something out this coming weekend, I've just got to ease myself back into the normal work/school routine this week
 (only for this 1 week though, I'm away next week  - yipee ).
But at work today an email arrived from number 2 son's school, he's off on a big cricket tour in February (we should be joining him too) and they will be taking photos of the players for the official tour brochure on January the 8th, lunchtime. Ok I thought, I must sort that haircut, wait, what date? Tomorrow!!
Oh crikey (or words to that effect) I thought, that leaves tonight, and he gets off the school bus at 6pm. A haircut was looking unlikely, I could do it myself maybe, I am experienced after all.....
(my experience is at the end of that post!)
Luckily my boss was out all day so I googled a few barbers and hairdressers and made a few calls, sadly none were open late tonight. I phoned The Builder, we both discussed the options, a raging & upset son, with mop hair or we pull out all the stops to find someone who could handle scissors. A Facebook call went out but little response, then the builder phoned me back (thank goodness for bosses on long business lunches!) he had found a free newspaper on the site he's on just now, and therein was an advert. Not a glossy ad I'm afraid just one of those "Hair by Jane" types, a mobile hairdresser from up the road. No photos or pictures, just a telephone number. And apologies to hairdressers called Jane, I don't wish to cast aspersions!
A call was made, she may be free, she would call back later.
We had no other options, mobile Jane or no one it would have to be, number 2 son was reluctant, we encouraged him with lots of "the ad says she's qualified" , "it'll be fine, don't worry"
and some "what could possibly go wrong?".......

He googled a photo of the type of thing he liked and mobile Jane arrived. Well she hurled herself through the door more like and wandered about making comments about the house, "how many bedrooms do you have here", "are you attached to next door then?"
"What would you say your fuel bills are like here ,...roughly?"
 Then proceeded to tell me all about her life, with little regard to the photo of the hairstyle we had up on the laptop
(did I mention my new laptop?)
I could see it start to go wrong with the pointed over the ear cuts, a Dr Spock look alike! and then the didn't need to be straight did it? And the fringe, well she did really well to get that shape without the use of a pudding basin.
I had to stay smiley and positive looking as number 2 son sunk further into the kitchen chair. Mobile Jane explained she was fully registered and qualified (originally we thought that must be a good thing) and lots of people these days aren't you know, we were lucky to find her!
We bid her goodbye and paid the full £10.
So what does it look like now, I couldn't possibly photograph  the end result, but I'm going down to the salon in the village to book an appointment for next week; and tomorrow we'll have to wax it to within an inch of its life, well the bits that are long enough anyway!
So we were lucky to find mobile Jane at such short notice, hopefully we'll lose her just as quickly!

Friday, 3 January 2014

Happy New Year to you too

Well here we are in 2014 and here I sit tapping away on my red laptop! That was a surprise Christmas gift, that sentence could have so easily have read "here I am waiting to use my new door handles" or "here I am waiting to use my new microwave" or even " here I am waiting to jump from  plane" - all gifts I've received in the past!

But a laptop it is and I'm over the moon. I can blog from anywhere in the house, not just my tiny, chilly, paper strewn office tucked out of the way. It also makes it slightly more comfortable to type from the squishy sofa, not least because my rear end present one almighty bruise!! When we exchanged gifts with my sister in law I was the lucky recipient of perfume,  the builder however received a selection of Beano comics and some football programmes from the 1970's . Yes a little bit random but he  is very hard to buy for and they were spread all over the floor and read from cover to cover for the rest of the afternoon! Therein lies the problem; spread all over the floor, shiny magazines..... I leapt up to answer the phone (leapt  may be an exaggeration given the amount of food I've stuffed in) and proceeded to skid across the floor and bump down on the ground and leg of the sofa. I'd like to say gracefully landed but sadly in was very definitely an earth shaking moment!
And now most of my rear end is lovely shade of dark purple, as was readily pointed out more than once I'm lucky not to break a hip given my age!!! Yes I did hit them!
(Luckily for you I have no photo!)
Who knew they could be so dangerous?!
How did you spend your New Years Eve? Or as the native Norfolk-ians say "Old Years Night"
Many moons ago we used to host a party with much celebrating and wine and chatting and wine and nibbles and wine......., however since we became parents the difficulties of babysitters, taxis and overriding tiredness seemed to have put paid to anything other than nodding off on the sofa and shuffling off to bed at 5 past midnight! But as the children are older we accepted a party invitation this year and off we trotted dressed in sparkles (not The Builder) to see in 2014 with friends. It was a lovely evening despite the 45 minute drive to get there, we played some silly games and watched the fireworks both in London (On the TV) and in their village.
Building the tallest tower using only spaghetti and jelly babies!
More difficult for the children as they ate most of the jelly babies!
It reminded me we must be more social in future!
We left Number 1 son at home with 3 mates and some beer, there appears to be more empty bottles than the amount of full ones we left for them???
They did manage to remain the polite young men their parents had taught them to be though, they made me smile as they staggered to the door the following day; 6' tall 17/18 year old boys; very unsteady and with bloodshot eyes, all saying "thank you for having me" and "I've had a lovely time, thank you Mrs Cricket". Ahh bless them!
Between Christmas and New Year we got together with some old friends for a family evening, we always used to spend an evening with them sans kids where the booze flowed and the conversation always became risqué - however that was a few years ago and  this time we all had our children with us and we shared some games and some memories. Despite feeling very middle aged it was a lovely evening, I do love my friends. Charades with teenagers was funny in a different way, who knew a shrug of the shoulders and a curled lip could signify so much?
I don't make resolutions as a rule expect from the usual, I will lose a stone in weight and start taking regular exercise, but this year I feel I need to go back to basics in the kitchen. I always thought I was a fairly competent cook, I've enjoyed cooking for friends over the years and as you may except have prepared many a cricket tea but I seem to have lost it just lately! I need to pull myself into line and stop over or undercooking everything I touch - there's nothing complicated about it I just need to pay a little more attention to what I'm doing and stop being distracted (although I can see a little red laptop-shaped distraction looming large!) This Christmas I managed to over cook the turkey, over cook the pudding (Nigella's steamed chocolate pud) despite a hand written note in the cookery book from last Christmas reminding me not to overcook it! I've overcooked a joint of beef and under cooked a joint of pork!
It really is laziness, I need to weigh and time everything and go back to basics - I vaguely remember telling myself this last year though so it my be all forgotten before January is done.
I have loved looking around blogland and catching up on past posts, partly because I have more time to do so right now. I know time will be short again soon, cricket practice started again this evening and everyone will be back to school and work on Monday or Tuesday (I really must look up which day they start school/college!) - it's going to be hard to get up and at 'em!
So Happy New Year to everyone, I'm overwhelmed by the fact that I actually have "followers" but it has been so nice to get to know you all.
I hope 2014 brings you the best of everything.