Tag Archives: birthdays

Drops in the desert and depression awareness week *waves pom-poms*

I really, really must break my blogging drought.

I’d like to break it with something pithy, witty or maybe a useful tute or recipe.

I fear this is unlikely…

I would like to share this link the wonderful Rachel from Growing Things and Making Things left in a comment. I genuinely think watching Henri has got me through recently – I regard it as medicinal. We’ve all started soundtracking any gloomy moments, I caught Zeph doing it while regarding his toothbrush this morning. Brilliant.


It was  a brilliant week away – new foods were tried, museums and galleries visited. Plenty of bus and tube travel racked up – a fair amount of mooching. Nitro ice-cream was eaten. Zeph and I saw this;


Steve, J and Ida got to hang around on the Southbank in the rain waiting for us. Ida and Zeph threw tantrums. Ida sat down a lot.

I had some amazing cakes made for my birthday;

Lemon,strawberry and peppermint. Together – fantabulous. Honestly – you’re going to hear Heston chatting about them pretty soon I think…

In other news – did you know it’s depression week? – well more accurately, depression awareness week. For once I’m way ahead of the game. In case you’re not and you’d like to be more so this is a great link:


Depression touches all of us, I mean – you know more than five people right? – it is serious yet not the end of the world. There is help if you need it, as usual there could be more. Worst of all is the shame associated with all mental illness.

Speaking out and sharing is what scares the shame spectre away.

I live with depression, I suspect I will all my life. I am capable, strong and resourceful, my life has moments of immense joy and frequent flashes of happiness which I treasure.

I medicate and apply structures and routines that help me. I am grateful to still have my life, I value it. Depression is one part of me, it is not all that I am but I see no reason to be ashamed of it or hide that aspect of me.

The garden is looking beautiful, lots of fresh green and blossom. The showers mean everything is gleaming. The clematis that has clambered up the eucalyptus is turning its palest pink flowers to face the brief shards of sunshine. It twines serenely through the wind thrashed branches. My washed out bunting flaps wildly, we’re all waiting for sunnier days.

I’m sure they’ll be here soon.



more small things

Walking to school this morning Zeph was highly satisfied with the frosted grass and his icy puffs of breath. Despite freezing my toes off I had to agree that I liked the seasonal snap as well although my too tender heart bleeds for all the drooping blossom and withered spring flowers.

Ida is still in her commanding birthday mood. She had a brilliant array of presents so we’ve had a happy couple of days playing with new playdough, concocting a stream of lurid teaparties and many, many games of snap and pairs.

She’s also done brilliantly well for clothes over the last month which means on family outings we all look slightly mismatched. A princess amidst scarecrows.

We had a happy afternoon icing cupcakes and the big, minutely described , birthday cake.

I was especially amused by the way we had to sing happy Birthday to each of us through out the day, so nobody felt left out.

I spent today sorting through fabrics and beads. My stock is at very low levels as I did so well on the christmas markets. At night my head is buzzing with new ideas but it’s hard carving out the time to really get stuff done ( I’m pretty sure that’ll sound familar to everyone…)

My sister bought me this much lusted after spice drawer set a few b’days ago. (she does the BEST presents.) I’ve had it in my kitchen where you couldn’t really see it and it never really worked for my spices which always seem to end up in jamjars… So I retrieved  it, gave it a wash and filled those china drawers with delicously clinking beads.

I pass it many times a day and quite a few of those times I stop to look in one of those drawers and it cheers me. Immensely.

Small, round Beautiful Things.


Tomorrow Ida is three.

I do get absurdly sentimental around their birthdays, it seems to highlight how fast time moves and quickly they change. Part of my open heart plans is embracing change. I suppose I fear losing something dear  but surely love is never lost?

She is wildly excited but slightly confused about how time works. Last week, slightly worn by the “is it my birthday now?” question, I made a chart for her to cross off the day at bedtime – to help her count down to the big day. Of course she marched into the kitchen the next day with black marker pen all over her hands convinced she’d conquered time by crossing off ALL the boxes to move the schedule along a bit.

What touched me most was how powerful she must feel, to control her world so easily. I wish she could hold on to that but I suppose I’m one of the people squishing it out of her with all my rules and health and safety rules about knife juggling, stair surfing and road crossing.

Having tea with my friend this morning, Ida roared her disapproval over coat putting on time and N made me laugh by observing that life with a toddler is like living with a very small, ferocious T Rex.

 I find it really unnerving  seeing the less lovely sides of my everydayness parroted back to me. It’s true – I say; “Right now” and “I’m starting to feel CROSS..” and “This is not acceptable” all in those growling menacing tones through my teeth….

Yesterday Zeph asked what Jesus’s middle name was.

because apparently I say Jesus H Christ.

I didn’t even know I did.


Anyway back to the birthday prep. Today we shopped for Ida’s birthday tea which she is allowed, according to tradition, to choose. We may have to tinker with that one as she’s picked;

Olives, sausages on sticks, avocado, beetroot, mussels, anchovies, bread and vinegar to dip it in, iced gems, a pineapple and a tray of assorted samosas and pakoras.

Nothing wrong with the choices – just not sure it all hangs together.

We also bought things to decorate the cake with. This year it will be yellow with dolly mixtures, chocolate buttons and marshmallows on… and star candles. I may seem grossly indulgent but I am very charmed by her calm certainty and her clear vision.

I’ve sewn her a fairy skirt and silver butterfly wings and Zeph has dipped into his savings to buy her a drinking cup with a meerkat at the bottom and I just went out to Asda (always a fearful prospect late at night with all the lost wandering the aisles – blank eyed, hair buzzing with static under the fluorescent lights) and purchase two very shiny foil helium balloons which now hover, bursting with promise, over the table laid for breakfast. Walking home through the dark clutching them firmly I felt stuffed with joy and excitement myself.

Balloons, the birthday banner, a small but happy pile of presents, a tiny pink hyacinth by her plate and pain de chocolat for breakfast. I can’t wait to see her face all lit up and happy.

Buttons, bobblehats, hungry caterpillars and demonic toddlers.

Mittens, before the paint incident.

It has been one hell of a day. It started with Ida refusing to get up and dressed. When I’d forced her into her clothes I ran downstairs to make sandwiches with one hand and toast with the other while shouting at Zeph to brush his hair and put some socks on (what the hell is it with the damn socks?) He went up to find some and called for me. Arriving back in the bedroom I found Ida totally naked, standing with her hands on her hips in the middle of our bed which she had just done an enormous pee on. Defiantly I suspect.

Not a promising start to the day which has also included Ida painting the cat’s tail, a wall, her face and hair, unravelling my crochet entirely, opening the washing machine mid cycle and flooding the kitchen. How did she do this? It’s impossible. (This is what I was muttering, down on my hands and knees.)

On the way out to get Zeph I found  the front door lock broken and I couldn’t lock up. I had to leave the house open which actually I do by accident quite a lot (shhh, don’t tell Steve…) The locksmith just left – the locking bit was banjaxed. £193.00 ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY THREE POUNDS!!!

We are balanced on the edge of penury. I had to look for loose change for Zeph’s swimming money on monday. Bugger bugger bugger.

On a more cheerful note – look at these spectacular buttons;

I’m going to need another look to soothe my nerves;

Aren’t they lovely? They are all safely in my button box and it warms the cockles of my heart.

There was heaps of loveliness in the trug which I can’t wait to start wafting about in my garden with. Grow courgettes – grow.

Some chocolate bugs which got hoovered up pretty quickly by the small people, some lovely bits and bobs for beautifying cupcakes. A gorgeous fat bundle of cottony patterned goodness.


Maybe top of my favourites is this scrumptious lady. Hatz is ludicrously clever with her hands. She is the doyenne of dollshouse miniature yumminess. Look out for her Etsy shop – I’m nagging…

She used to make dolls – She gave Ida one for her birthday and I’d take a photo of it now if I could prize it out of her sleeping hands. Those teeny tiny buttons are left over from doll making.

I also managed to finish Ida’s bobble hat, (family, avert your eyes, your xmas gifts are now secured.)

Look – a knitted item that is NOT rectangular. Whoo hoo! Zeph wants a bobble hat with cat ears. Hmmm.

She looks like such a hipster in this picture. That’s pasta sauce all round her mush. 

It was from a pattern for an adult hat but I used sock yarn and only 4mm needles. Is this why it’s so small?

I want to try a baby hat next as there’s some new family arrivals expected. Do summer babies still need hats? Maybe I should try bootees?

So finally in my BT round up (self soothing at it’s best – it’s only money…) Check out this amazing fabric my Mum bought for me to make a dress for Ida;


It’s true, your eyes do not deceive you. See, how can I stay riled? Although at one point today I did wonder if I could make something for myself out of it instead. Does a demon deserve this?

Perhaps..she is my darling demon after all.


Burnt into the retina of my mind’s eye today is the beauty of nearly emerged liquid green leaves against a grey looming rain cloud. The trees seemed to glow. It made me think of faerie glamour. I tried to capture it with my feeble camera but…

I had a brilliant morning in the park with some friends and my lovely pickles,

Steve brought home a box of cakes for my new stand, we all scramble to put them on, the strawberry whoopie pies barely make it past Idas eager hands.

We feel like the teacup at the top looks sad when it’s empty, a packet of mini party rings comes to the rescue.

It’ s hard to put into words how happy my cakestand makes me. I’m a total sucker for retro china and am unable to leave a pretty teacup on its own on a charity bric-a-brac shelf much to Steve’s annoyance. I also have a fatal weakness for cake stands. I had a blue glass one that was my Granny’s but it met with Zeph and a fatal accident last summer. I’m usually incredibly laid back about china smashage, after all it’s almost always my hands it’s slipped from but I genuinely shed tears over that one. So I am hugely satisfied with my gift. Granny would have loved it. Well actually she wouldn’t have as she was a magpie for new and shiny and modern but she’d have been glad I liked it.

Eating out

The house is full of the soapy scent of white lilies. The roses from my mother’s day bunch are long gone but the lilies are gloriously open and wafting their distinct fairy liquid odour everywhere.

Steve and the kids took me out to lunch for my birthday today. There was much giggling and teasing as we set off in the morning sun. Hints of an all we could eat breakfast at Asda were followed by a protracted tease about a Cheltenham Happy Meal while we sat upstairs at the front of the bus, peering into gardens happily. After a bit of joyful shop mooching we arrived at my favourite Turkish restaurant, Grille Restaurant on Winchcombe Street.

 I love this place – I have only ever had delicious food – there are loads of amazing lamb dishes – its beautiful – the people are really friendly and laid back, we’ve eaten here when it’s been absolutely packed and when we’ve been the only people eating, the service is always friendly and the kids are always welcomed. I’ve sat and breastfed through a meal here lots of times and the last time I did it was packed and the waiter still found time to thoughtfully place a tall glass of water by my hand. “thirsty work” he said with a cheerful smile. In the winter they light a fire in here;

but today it was decked out in colourful easter finery;

We had a long leisurely lunch, the kids were impeccably behaved and ridiculously indulged by the lovely staff. We lingered over coffees, Steves favourite vice;


and emerged, blinking, into the startling sunshine. I love eating out with the kids. We can’t afford to do it loads, frankly that’s a good job, we’re lucky this place isn’t just down the road from us because we’d be here every night and completely bankrupt. Everyone’s up for trying new food, which is also one of the things I like most about Steve, particularly when I know he grew up in a home where the onion is outlawed and veg can only be cooked in a pressure cooker… 

Back home I was presented with my fabulous, thoughtful presents, two books of poetry I really wanted, this AMAZING cakestand, thanks to  a bit of jiggery-pokery between Steve and N, her mysterious “popping in” is explained – I had hoped but….

Eclairs anyone? Zeph extracts a promise to try making choux pastry in the holiday. The present they were really waiting for was;

“Share?…”  Ida insisted on giving the pusscat a kiss before it’s head was struck off. Her tenderheartedness didn’t stop her tucking into an ear with relish. I love all my beautiful things. Tomorrow doesn’t seem so bad.

Green shoots

God I’m an ungrateful cow. My lovely family just went all out for a happy laid back gardenish day with lovely presents and loads of great food.

Dreading it you say? Honestly the self absorption of some people!

It was the most beautiful sunny day – I got some amazing yarn, a rotary cutter, a book on crochet I actually understand – and a GLUE GUN! seriously – whoop. Alice is a little concerned. “What the hell were you thinking Mum?” She’s remembering the time I nearly burnt the school down with the one in the art department. That was  a long time ago.

The garden is fertilely, greenly, soul warmingly GERT lush.

Our seeds are peeping through in a promising way;

Sweetpeas and courgettes…


and lupins!  Which were sneaked into  a shopping basket by Zeph. I don’t like lupins but as Zeph pointed out, several vociferous times, this is a family garden…

My darling family even oohed at my fancy slabwork. Even though I could see it physically pained my Dad. He arrived with enough biscuity partyware to keep us stocked until Beltane..and a sack of rice. Just in case.

Ida and I lay on the ground and tried to see where the clematis ends in the tree. We peered hopefully at the fat peony buds but I think it’ll be a while yet. There are rustling mysteries being whisked about the house and we’re going out for lunch tomorrow but I don’t know where..it’s a surprise. The bathroom is clean as I felt shamed into scrubbing it which leaves me feeling virtuous and about to curl up with my new wool and the crochet book. A million wishes for beautiful things for you all blown out there like dandelion seeds.

Woodlouse whispering

Gah – my mood did not match the glorious weather today which was a shame, for me and everyone who has had to bear the brunt of my gloom.

Luckily my kids, though sympathetic, are impervious to moping and have had a great afternoon grubbing about in the garden. We planted out stuff, sprinkled seeds and watered the earth between the slabs trying to help it all settle but in reality just leaving muddy puddles.

I also made brownies with some “help”. Zeph was brisk – “I don’t know why a person would keep on sighing when they are melting chocolate which is the best thing ever.”

Beautiful things today;

Ida insists on kissing each clump of violas as we plant them. I think she thinks we’re tucking them in.

I catch her later holding a woodlouse very carefully in her hand and murmuring gently to it. “What are you saying to him darling?” “Stories..”

Zeph is pleased about the holidays and his pirate costume for the b’day party he’s going to tomorrow. When I go in for a goodnight kiss he’s laid out the costume carefully and is reading the programme from the fox show.

I’ve hung up the birthday bunting. I’m ambivalent but who can fail to find bunting cheerful?

I make resolutions. I congratulate myself on small things completed and accomplished. I watch the children sleeping. I am mean to Steve and he is kind. Tomorrow is a new day.



I think families are pretty amazing. Infuriating, suffocating, unreasonable sometimes traumatic and damaging but then sometimes – just amazing. Had a really happy family day today and am reminded to count my blessings. (and the silver teaspoons once they’re gone…only joking guys)

(What do you mean Asda teaspoons, 38p for 4, aren’t sterling silver?)

My daughter has had another wonderful, centre-of-attention, lots of chocolate kind of day and has gone to sleep troubled only by the thought there may be a dinosaur under the cot. I wish that was the extent of my night time worrying.


and this is what happens when you turn your back…

Beautiful Ida

beautiful Ida - 11th of Jan, two years ago

 It’s true – I’m maudlin and emotional – and I swear to any deity you prefer I’ve not touched a drop of gin. It’s Ida’s birthday tomorrow and I’m feeling sentimental. It was just such a miserable pregnancy and after several heartbreaking miscarriages after we had Zeph  I was so amazingly relieved to finally have her safely in my arms.

Of course every child is a life-changing miracle to their parents but I still find myself pole-axed by the actual physical presence of my children. It was a kind of life I never really envisioned for myself and I’m still surprised by the fact of it. *Surprised and overwhelmingly glad – I should make clear!

As were many of my nearest and dearest – I’m pretty sure many of them were watching out in case I ate Zeph like a hormonally haywire hamster.

Spent today making a big cake covered in dolly mixtures for Ida and Reuben tomorrow, (they’re sharing a party as Reuben was three on the 7th) and various foody things. The house is disco-fied with lots of fairy lights and the glitterball in place. The playlist is done and ready and I’ve hoovered the stairs. The table is pushed back to enable enough room for as much energetic dancing as wanted. They may helicopter with impunity.

I wanted to get as much done as possible as I’m going swimming with Ida tomorrow and then to the baby singsong session at the library before the big disco party. I still haven’t finished the dress but have the rest of the week to do it. Is it dreadful that we have bought her very little? We don’t do huge presents but try to do something special and she’s so little …and then at the last second I have a dreadful urge to buy every ludicrously overpriced consumer crazy toy in a five-mile radius and wrap them in miles of shiny paper. ..it does pass though.

Since her favourite plaything from Christmas is the inner tube from some wrapping paper and a couple of ping-pong balls to slide down it I think we’ll be okay. 

possibly the proudest big brother in the world

looking at these pictures makes me freak out about how quickly time is passing. .

ah me… wonder if we have any gin….

Off to wash up before bed – got to keep the roll going.