November 

November has dawned grey and drizzly. I have a cold. And yet…ai feel very content this morning. 

A lovely friend who drives to school has taken Jessica so that I don’t have to go out in the pouring rain, and she will keep nice and dry. Alice has fallen asleep on her changing mat and is making soft little squeaks in her sleep. It is still pouring, but the kettle is boiling and I feel cosy.

I have housework to do, but first I am going to finish off a Christmas gift I am crocheting. I can’t wait to share photos with you, but as I think some of the intended recipients visit here from time to time, I’ll have to keep them secret for now.

We had the happiest of Halloweens. Gentle, lovely fun. Jessica wore my costume from when I was little. 

I want to write properly later about how we do halloween, how we keep it simple and sweet, how some handmade decorations mean a lot to me. But for now I just want to capture this cosy feeling on the page.

I love it when each new month arrives. They ech have their own flavour, they each have their own charms. I feel rich today as I have my new housekeeping budget for the month, and my maternity pay arrived today too. It is nice to feel rich even if you aren’t! 

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Early Mornings

The last week or so, Alice has taken to waking between 4:00 and 4:30 for a feed. Sometimes it takes an hour to feed her and settle her back down…and my lovely husband gets up at 5:50 so oftentimes I am finding that my day has started that early as there is no time to get back to proper sleep. Sometimes I doze for a while until a bit before 7:00, but days like today, although I am tired as coming down with something, I am wide awake.

It isn’t all bad though. Hearing soft little breaths coming from the rocking crib next to me is lovely, contented little sighs in her sleep make it all worthwhile. It is velvety dark as I write, I can smell the heating coming on, that hint in the air which reminds me of ironing. Carl has his breakfast first then comes up for a shower, and when he comes he brings me a cup of tea. It is such a happy little luxury, sitting in bed in the cosy darkness with radio 4 quietly on, drinking tea.

Poor Jessica has a cough which is disturbing her nights, it makes it so hard for her to get to sleep. The doctor said it is viral and could take weeks to go, to keep her warm and give her warm drinks when she coughs to help suppress it. I have ordered her an insulated drinks bottle which I hope arrives quickly. I am worried about how she is going to cope with school while she has the cough. It lasted until spring last year, and every time I picked her up from preschool they would comment on how tired she had been. It took her well over an hour to get to sleep last night, and then she was awake in the night too.

She had her first sick day from school yesterday, so we could get to the doctor. She snuggled under a blanket and had a gentle day with me. Consequently, today feels like Monday when it is really Tuesday!

Tonight is parents evening at school…although they recommend children go to bed at 7:00 our appointment is at 7:20. It is after 8:00 that she is finally falling asleep with this cough, so I am hoping that the later bedtime won’t make too much difference this evening.

Spooky Fun at Cressing Temple Barns

Today started well, then became a little bumpy before evening out nicely and ending pleasantly.

Jessica slept over at her Nanny’s house, so after Carl went to work it was just Alice and I here at home. I made fresh coffee and ate granola in the light of a beeswax candle with some gentle classical music playing on the background.

Jessica came home proudly bearing some cakes she had made. It is always so good to see her after she has had a night away.

After that it all got a bit bumpy. We had tickets for a spooky family fun day at Cressing Temple Barns which started at 11:00. By 12:00 with one thing and another we hadn’t left. It startes to rain. The pushchair wouldn’t fit in Mum’s boot. I banged my head strapping Alice’s car seat in…and she cried the whole way there.

When we got there I needed to feed her so we stopped in the tea shop. Jessica was impatient to get going and was terrifically grumpy and I had had enough. In the end Mum took Jessica to get started while I finslished feeding and settling Alice.

When I booked the tickets I thought ¬£14 a child was quite expensive, but there was a lot to see and do and I think it was good value. There was a room with snakes and spiders, a fire eater (who ended up doing a dance instead as it was too windy), a man blowing giant bubbles, a puppet show, a ‘zombie disco’, face painting, and a slime-making workshop. Oh, and a pumpkin patch to choose a pumpkon from to take home.

I was freezing and tired and a bit fed up from earlier, but Jessica had a wonderful time, and Mum managed to find me not only a cup of tea but a cup of Earl Grey tea!

While we were waiting for face painting (over half an hour as there were only two ladies doing it. They were very nice ladies and did a fantastic job, but I don’t understand why children’s events never have enough face painters!) Jessica amused herself using a bale of hay to make a bed for some mini pumpkins. I love seeing her devise little games to amuse herself.

The slime making workshop was very good, and we now have a tub of yellow slime with purple glitter! I thought they were very brave running the workshops for 34 children at a time! It was fascinating watching it change from liquid to viscous slime.

Aside from the attractions and entertainments put on especially for the day, the barns and grounds themselves are utterly beautiful. While I was watching the puppet show, and watching the children watch the puppet show, I was wondering if similar entertainments took place here hundreds of years ago.

We were lucky in that there were only a couple of showers of rain, but oh my it was cold. With the dazzling autumn sunshine it was very beautiful, and the skies were stunning.

And now I am under a blanket working on crochet Christmas presents and sipping tea. Jessica is fast asleep, and I think I won’t be far behind her.

An Autumn Curry of Butternut and Lentils

I’ve had tonight’s dinner simmering in my mind for a few days now. Two different recipes made previously had left orphans of half an onion sliced into half-moons, and half a butternut squash.

Mildly curried was a given, but initially I was pondering upon a soup. When I needed to come up with something for dinner tonight, it gently metamorphosised into curry. A warming gentle curry for a cold autumn evening.

I softened the orphaned onion in some oil, just a smidge. Then I added some diced chicken thighs, and a handful of red lentils. I stirred them with the end of the jar of mild curry powder (probably a tablespoon or so) and a pinch of dried chilli flakes.

When they had had a good stir and got to know each other in the pot, I added the half butternut squash, peeled and diced. Then in went a tiny tin of coconut cream, a stock pot (a kind of jellied stock cube) and the whole thing was topped up with water from the kettle and set to simmer slow and low.

It s bubbling away right now, and when it is finished, I’ll add in a handful of baby spinach to wilt.

Had I the other half of the onion to use, I would have fried it until crispy then used as a garnish. I was going to make the quick River Cottage flatbreads, but Alice has awoken so that plan is abandoned in favour of rice. (In this season of my life, frozen bags of rice are if not a lifesaver, certainly a dinnersaver).

My New Hobby

I have a new hobby which is bringing me a lit of pleasure. I don’t know what to call it, so I will show it to you instead.

A few weeks ago we started eating our meals with a lit candle. Then I added a few conkers which we had found on our walk to school. Then came a bud vase with a particularly pretty oak twig.

Last week I bought a tray to sit my treasures on and contain them a bit, and I love it even more.

I bought one of the squash (39p in Aldi!) and the chrysanths especially for the display, but evetything else has been snipped from the garden, found on walks, or given to us (grandma gave the girls a baby pumpkin each).

I take off a few dead flowes here, add a pine cone there…it is just as and when, with no plan on mind, and it comes together very pleasingly indeed.

I don’t know what yo would call this exactly, but I love doing it. Here is another photo taken at breakfast time.

I treated myself to Wolfy’s spiced pear porridge, and there is darjeeling in my beloved autumn mug. Mum sewed the little felt pumpkin brooch for Jessica, and just behind my mug is some more work from her needle…a velvet acorn and oak leaf.

Now I have shared my autumnal kitchen table with you, it is time for me to eat my porridge.

Have a lovely autumn Monday,

Love

Mimi

Xxx

Apple Day 2018

Last night when we came home from an impromptu Turkish takeaway at a friends house it was bone chillingly cold. The kind of evening when a hot water bottle is welcome and hot tea is a necessity.

As a result we prepared for the cold when we got ready to go to Apple Day at Lathcoats Farm this morning. Laden with coats and blankets for the girls we stepped out of door…into glorious autumn sunshine!

We had such a lovely day…it is one of my favourite days of the year. I didn’t enter the baking competition this year as our oven thermostat is wonky (in the blink of an eye it can reach 300 oC) and I had my hands too full with Alice to try for the longest apple peel.

Mum came with us for the first time in years. We had to park in the overflow carpark which was in fact an orchard! You could smell the apples. New this year was a pumpkin patch. I so wanted to recreate my favourite photo of Jessica, taken on apple day four years ago, nestled in amongst a pile of pumpkins. Alice was having none of it as you can see.

However I did manage a few nice photos…

Jessica and Carl won apples on the William Tell stall by shooting apple picture targets with arrows, and Jessica painted using apple halves.

We enjoyed ice creams and later on a much needed cup of tea. We tasted apples and came home with quite a few…Jonagored, Lord Lambourne, Festival, and Chivers Delight to name only a few. I love the names of the different apple varieties.

We came away with an enormous nobbly pumpkin, chosen by Jessica.

Alice fed and snoozed through much of the day. I was feeding her on a hay bale when the photographer asked if she could snap us…I was happy to say yes.

I have so many appley recipes I want to try…hassleback baked apples, apple crumble pie, apple dumplings….

Wishing you a happy apple day,

Love,

Mimi

Xxx

Quarters and Halves

And so it is that this week holds two milestones for our little family.

Tuesday saw Alice become twelve weeks old…at three months she is somehow a quarter of a year old. It seems an entire lifetime since I heard her first cry as she was lifted from me, and yet it could have been last week.

Today is a non-pupil day at Jessica’s school, and so she has completed her first half term. We have parents evening in a fortnight, so we will hear how she is doing, but the important thing is that she is happy.

My girls are changing day by day before my eyes. Alice is getting bigger, she has finally passed Jessica’s birthweight and is just under ten pounds. She holds her head up well, she gurgles and coos and babbles away to us. She loves music. Yesterday she played with a toy for the first time. She was laying on her changing mat with her soft toy pumpkin hanging above it. She batted it with her hand, smiled as she watched it spin, then batted it again several times.

Jessica is growing so tall, she seems all arms and legs and her eyes are just huge in her face. Taming her hair for school is a daily challenge for me! She loves to have a candle burning at mealtimes, adores Alice, and pretends to be puppy Chase from Paw Patrol (she watches it rarely but it is a great favourite).

I feel so blessed to have these girls of mine.