Polly Put the Kettle On

We moved house at the end of February and our new house had the most dilapidated kitchen I’ve ever seen. In fact, it did not have an oven, and the oven delivery/gasman would not install a new oven as he deemed the electrics and wood cladding on all the walls to be a fire hazard. We renovated it in April, making it lovely and modern and safe. And with a new kitchen, I knew we needed a new kettle.

I’ve previously blogged about my tea-drinking addiction (here). We hadn’t had a new kettle in years. And considering the amount of tea I drink, a new kettle was much needed. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am an avid researcher. Whether it is new trainers, coat hooks or a new kettle, I can spend months finding the ‘perfect’ item.


It took about a month, but I found the PERFECT kettle. In. White. It looks modern, and a bit retro, which fits in perfectly with the mid-century modern theme in which we are decorating our house. This bad boy boils water so quickly, you barely have time to get out a mug and a teabag. And it lightly beeps when the water has boiled, which is great as I am always chasing after kids and forgetting that I am trying to make a cup of tea. You can also adjust the temperature so that the water doesn’t have to boil. As you may know, herbal teas require hot rather than boiling water. And I drink a plethora of tea. All this talk of tea, I think I better go put the kettle on.

This blog post is my entry into the Tots100/PartSelect ’Love Your Appliance’ competition.






This appliance gets my seal of approval!

*Due to a few queries, I am updating this post to mention that my kettle is a Bosch Styline Kettle. We bought it from John Lewis as they offer a two-year guarantee with it. It has been reduced to £49.99 (damn). I was wary about noting it before because I did not want it to sound like the fine people at Bosch or John Lewis had secretly paid me for this post. They haven’t. I just really love my kettle. 

Autumnal Musings

This is my poem in honour of my love of Autumn. Emma Tapp, Center Parcs Whinfell Forest’s resident nature expert and Conservation Ranger suggested some inspirations from nature. As we walked home from school this afternoon, the kids and I played outside and enjoyed the abundance of leaves. We were having so much fun, I forgot to take a photo.

Autumn leaves swirling around
Flying through the air, up and down
Like a shower of autumnal love
Raining from the trees above

We throw our arms up in the air
Twirling around, without a care
We stomp and jump hoping for that sound
Oh, that crunch, it is bliss that we’ve found

This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 November Challenge. If I’m chosen, I would like to visit Elveden Forest.

Turkey Day

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I have celebrated each Thanksgiving that I have lived in the UK. This will mark my 12th. We normally celebrate at the weekend, with a big (but simple) dinner with family or friends. I cook a turkey, and we go crazy on cornbread, stuffing, green beans and sweet potatoes. And as a homage to my adopted land, and my British Husband, we have parnsips. For pudding we have pumpkin pie and/or apple pie. 

But this year, I am not in the mood. This year, I don’t feel like all the trimmings. It’s the first time we haven’t invited family or friends. It would be nice to have it just the four of us. But I am not sure I can even be bothered for that. It’s been a busy year, especially with the rigmarole associated with buying a new house, moving and doing renovations. 

Thanksgiving is such a nice time to celebrate what we are thankful for, without the added pressures of gift giving. That is one of the reasons I love it. But I think this year I will be thankful while eating pumpkin pie and save the big meal for Christmas. If there is a Scrooge-equivalent for Thanksgiving, then I’m it. Bah hum-turkey. 

I’m an American…Get Me Out of Here

I sometimes dip into ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here’ on ITV. I don’t tend to really get into UK reality shows featuring D-list celebrities because I usually don’t know who the celebrities are. I will watch, however, if there is a well-known American. But I do enjoy watching the trials on ‘I’m a Celebrity’. I find it interesting to see who is looking for a challenge and who is just hoping to revive their career.
 
Last night, some of the cast were bitching about Alfonso Ribeiro, the ‘loud American’. Some of the other members of the cast seem loud (and obnoxious), but the American is the one labelled as loud in a bad way.
 
 
Why is it so easy to label Americans as loud? Is this our most renowned stereotype? But is it true? It is one of the labels I worry about receiving from non-Americans. Why should I care? Would a British person care if they were perpetually described as ‘cold’ or ‘awkward”? Or are Brits celebrated for their stereotypes? British people are known for their sarcasm, politeness and self-deprecation. Those aren’t negative qualities.
 
Is there an inherent conflict between the British and Americans? Are we frenemies? Do Americans (living in the USA) make fun of British? Now that I think of it, many people in the USA think that British people have teeth like Austin Powers. But most Americans don’t have passports so won’t have been to the UK to judge for themselves. Maybe I’m annoyed that some minor British celebrities were casting aspersions on my entire nationality. They should be well-traveled. They should know better.
 
Or are the British still mad at Americans for gaining our independence? All I know is that some British people are loud and obnoxious. And some Americans are quiet and genteel. 

The Big Chop

This was my son yesterday. Happy and carefree with his lovely hair. I had received pressure from various people, but especially Husband, to cut his hair. I wasn’t fussed that people sometimes mistake him for a girl. 

But I understood where Husband was coming from when he said that Dubz looked messy. So today we took him to a children’s hair salon in South Wimbledon for his first haircut.
Dubz was not impressed with the chair that looked like a car. And even watching In The Night Garden and eating a biscuit could not get him to calm down. He screamed and cried. Husband and I had to hold him down. Oh the trauma. For him and me. For 25 minutes.

I had to keep staring at Dubz in the car, because he looks so different. But a few hours later, I am enjoying seeing his ears and the back of his neck for the first time in ages. I’ll tell you one thing, we are not going for another haircut for at least a year. At least. 

Yes, he looks a bit older than what I am used to. But he is still my baby boy. 

Parent Teacher Chat, Autumn 2013

Last week, Husband and I met with Moozles’ teacher for the first parent teacher chat of Year One. I wasn’t worried about any learning issues. My daughter loves reading and writing. But there have been some behavioural issues. Apparently, my daughter’s class has quite the group of feisty females. My daughter included. Of the 14 girls in Moozles’ class, there are several subgroups. Unfortunately, the head girl in my daughter’s group sometimes ices her out. This has led to my daughter getting frustrated and angry and even biting other children on two occasions. 

I, of course, burst into tears when the teacher told me about the biting (last month). My daughter doesn’t even hit her 18-month old brother, and he is pretty rough. It is difficult not to feel like a failure when you find out your child is acting out. Especially when you have given up employment to devote yourself to raising your children. It made me wonder whether I should get a job before I screw up my kids even more.

I spoke to my daughter and explained to her that biting does not make people want to hang out with you. I have also explained that if someone does not want to play with you, then you should find someone else to play with. This seems to have worked, and things have improved in the past month. But there are still many days when Moozles tells me that her friends have not wanted to play with her so she found someone else to play with. I am happy that she is listening. But there is still a part of me that hurts. Why shouldn’t some of the girls want to play with my daughter? She is sweet and feisty. Yes, she can be a bit weird. But what 5-year old isn’t a bit weird?!

So, I will try to hope that things improve. Until then, Moozles has given up on biting in favour of boxing. Watch out mean girls!


Rub A Dub Dub

I think a before-bedtime bath is a lovely way to wind down and let a child know that the day is over. My five and a half year old had a bath almost every night of her life until two months before her fifth birthday. Then her baby brother started crawling, and all bets were off.

My son wrecks havoc in the bathtub, never sitting. He sometimes squats but mainly walks around and destroys everything in his path. He loves it, though. My daughter will have a bath with her brother once a week, but she does not enjoy the ruckus. She likes to ‘make tea’ and sing songs in the bath. She does not enjoy being pushed around and have toys thrown at her head.

I’ve tried giving them their baths separately, but my son tries to climb in when it’s not his turn. Nine months later, my kids have one bath during the week and one at the weekend. Is it bad to bathe one’s children only twice a week? Am I a monster? How often do you bathe your children?

Moves Like Mary (Berry)

As a Stay-At-Home-Mum, I feel like I should be a able to bake lovely cakes and biscuits. My five year old, Moozles, loves baking. I say baking, but really she likes cracking eggs and mixing everything up. For years I have tried baking, and always fallen short. Earlier this year, a mummy friend gave me her recipe for a lemon drizzle cake. It came out perfectly the first time I made it. This was my first introduction to a Mary Berry recipe. I had watched Mary Berry on The Great British Bake-Off but never knew why she was such a legend. After making the lemon drizzle cake, I bought one of her baking cookbooks. I have made several of the recipes and am almost-always pleased by the results.

 

Being American, I had never eaten a Victoria Sponge cake until I moved to the UK. I’ve always been more of a chocolate cake type of gal. At the weekend I attempted my first Victoria Sponge. It was okay, but not as light and fluffy as I would like. I tried again today. Even though the recipe was in my cookbook, I used this recipe as it gave me the measurements for my six-inch cake pans (btw, success in looks and taste!): 
I am feeling quite proud of myself. So I thought I would share some of my tips for a better bake:
1. Use room temperature butter or margarine.
2. First put in all the dry ingredients, then add wet ingredient last before mixing.
3. Mixing by hand take a bit more time and effort but means you can avoid over-mixing (which leads to a denser cake).
4. Grease cake pans first so that once you’ve mixed the ingredients you can start baking right away.
5. Get used to your oven as your timing might differ from the recipe. I find that I normally have to add an extra five minutes to my bakes.
6. Never open the oven before the very end. Opening the oven cools the temperature which affects how much time the cake requires to be cooked.
 
Happy baking!

Not a Housewife

In the last week, there have been two things that have made me think of this old-fashioned and unwelcomed term of ‘housewife’. Last week, when the police officer was getting my details after the burglary, she asked my occupation. I am not sure what this has to do with being burgled, but I digress. Anyway, I said I didn’t have a job, that I was a ‘Stay At Home Mum’. She wrote ‘housewife’ on her form. I shuddered but didn’t say anything.

Yesterday I read this very articulate and entertaining blog (http://thewhimwhamlife.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/why-i-choose-to-be-stay-at-home-mom.htmlby Bonnie Ilyn, who has a similar dilemma. I wish I knew or could invent an amazing term that would encapsulate what a stay at home parent does but that doesn’t disparage those parents who work part-time or full-time. I used to work part-time when we only had our daughter. And it was hectic. And it doesn’t feel anymore relaxed now that we have two kids and I am at home every day.

I do work. Not in a paid job with colleagues and a boss who respect me. I work for little people who shriek and don’t believe in 9 to 5. I work solely for cuddles and kisses, which are abundant in my house. I won’t list everything I do, because many people do the same if not more. I keep the kids and the house ticking along. And to assuage the guilt of not working, I help out with the PTA. I am not a ‘housewife’. I am the Family Manager. I am the Director of Household. I am the Chief Executive of Domestic Bliss.

Time to update my CV. What is your occupation?

So, I’m just going to…

I feel like my first post should be filled with great insight or stories so hilarious that make you fall off your sofa. I suppose that many of us have this need to interest or amuse. If you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t write a blog. I’m also writing because I had my second child last year, and after a one-year maternity leave I resigned. I haven’t worked since April 2012, but technically I have been unemployed since April 2013. Or rather I am a Stay-at-home Mum, not unemployed. But I am starting to worry that my brain is rapidly deteriorating as all my thoughts seem to focus on my children.

This post is starting to remind me of the first episode of any new show. It has to lay down loads of background, so it’s not that interesting. Forget it, no more background. You’ll catch up in your own time.

Am I the only person who has difficulty remembering words or find that completing a sentence can take minutes? Is it old age? I am 38, surely that is middle-age. Or maybe it is a result of those two children who take up my thoughts and worries (yes, the dreaded baby-brain). Or maybe my mind is so focused on school projects, the PTA and balancing a budget for a family of four on one income that I don’t have time to worry about complete sentences. Yes, that must be it. Maybe I’ll take up Sudoku.