Come dine with us….

We don’t do many dinner parties. My minimal cooking ability fell into disgraceful disrepair when I married a man who eats for fuel not pleasure, we also set up home together a long way from anyone we knew and then proceeded to be antisocial (at best) together, again due to location and work etc…. When the children came along I did meet some lovely ladies and started being social locally but the men never really meshed. I was also deeply ashamed of my thrown together kitchen which had 3 different styles of unit. Not ideal to invite someone to your home and then feel you have to apologise for its dilapidation.

So, I’m a shocking cook, a shocking house wife, can’t organise my way out of a paper bag….
The excuses we give ourselves to not make an effort… Shameful!

Just recently though, we have found ourselves in a fabulous social circle, more by luck than judgement to be honest and the amazingly welcoming people who seem to enjoy our company keep inviting us to their lovely homes. Payback is of course a pleasure to provide; but I’m reet rusty on being hostess and have a propensity to burn water.

And a little scared to be fair….

With all bullets to bite, starting somewhere needs to happen. So Friday evening we invited some friends and their daughter to dinner. On the way home we were discussing the coming evening and I said to their little girl “You are coming to ours for dinner but you are going to have to cook it yourself,” the look I got was priceless! “No!” She said, at which point my girl started dancing around in glee “cook it ourself?!” She giggled “Oh! Are we using that grill thing?” “Yes! We are going to have Raclette.”

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One of our fondest memories of our skiing holidays is the Raclette evenings. Friends all sitting around a large table in a chalet in La Clusaz. A roaring fire in the corner, wine flowing, filling our little dishes with food and popping them under the grill, the meat sizzling on the top, more wine, loads of laughter… Lovely!

My husbands favourite part was the Tartiflette, a Haute Savoie dish comprising of potatoes, bacon, onions, Reblochon cheese and cream. (Here’s mine ready for the oven)

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We also had veggies and pickles to cook.

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And a selection of meats; steak, turkey, chicken and salmon (although I ate my salmon raw, I really can’t resist raw salmon!)

It was a really lovely evening with mini pavlovas for pudding, coffee and chocolate to follow. I know I certainly had a great time! I hope our guests did too, even if they did have to cook their own food!

And so, will we be opening our rusty hinged doors to friends again? You betcha!

Granny square rug, not to scale..

Just a quick post to show you the granny square rug I knocked up this afternoon for my dolls house music room. It’s made with a 2mm hook using unsplit embroidery silk. Not 1/12 scale at all but I’m still pleased with the result.

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It’s also made me realise how much better my crochet skill is now, almost a year since I started. My tension is so much better!

Sleepless in…. just about anywhere!

Sleep, the final frontier….

These are the voyages of a mother of two small people, a nearly seven year (ongoing) mission to explore a new world, to seek out a safe and happy life, to boldly go where almost every mother has been before but you just never would have believed them if they had told you; and even if you did your hormones would have made you do it anyway.

My sleep pattern pre kids was so good. I got tired, I lay down, I read a bit, I fell asleep, the alarm went off, I got up. 8+ hours every night happy as larry. During my first pregnancy that all changed. As a hugely preggers lady I could never get comfy, at 38 weeks through to 42 weeks (yes, two weeks late) my bladder had so little space I was up to pee every few hours. Then there were the seemingly endless nights of feeding, in fact, until my son (second baby) started sleeping through the night at about 2ish (it might have been later, it’s all a blur) I was up with one or other of them every night. By the time they were sleeping well my own pattern seemed set in, ruined, insomniac incorporated. It’s been nearly seven years and I can honestly say I might sleep through one night out of seven, maybe, if I’m lucky.

I’m in tune with them still, if they murmur in their sleep, I’m awake. If a door creaks – usually the cat, I’m awake. Smells drifting through the window will wake me. Mr. K.s alarm going off any time from 2.30am – 6am and never at a regular time doesn’t help in the slightest. I just wake. All the time.

And once I’m awake, I’m awake for two, sometimes three hours…

I have mentioned in the past my under active thyroid, when it plays up it scrambles what little brain I have left.  A few years ago I was pleading with my endocrinologist to help me gain back some cognitive thought and clear out the cotton wool that is my prime symptom (there are many others) and he said:

“The thing is Mrs K. I don’t think your thyroid is playing up at all, I think you are chronically sleep deprived.” And just like that, the building blocks of thought connected in my brain and I could see I have an issue. Chronic sleep deprivation… Try and find a way to sleep better he said. Easier said then done quite frankly.

Recently I had an email from a nice PR person saying Hi, did you sleep well last night? I said out loud “Sleep? Remind me what that is?” out loud. So, that means no… They asked me to fill out a questionnaire and perhaps try a sleep accessory, its seems the very lovely people at Silentnight Beds had a few ideas they’d like us lack-of-sleepers to try, I was all for it!

Dutifully, I filled out my questionnaire, explaining my sleep pattern or lack of it and my use of ear plugs now the children are old enough to fetch me if they need me and they sent me a gift to try, to see if sleep accessories can aid sleep.

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Nice huh? and it smells divine! All warm and comforting, just the sort of fragrance you can snuggle into.

So, I’ve been spraying it on my linen for a week and seeing how it goes, making sure I try and get to bed about the same time. I usually have a hot cup of tea as I find this soothes me too, then I will play mind numbing games on my ipad for 20 minutes and settle down to sleep.

As ever, getting to sleep the first time is not a huge issue, I drift off quite fast. But there has been two outcomes of note since I started using the spray. The first being that over a period of seven days, if I wake, I snuggle into the lovely smell and drift back off, even if I have to get out of bed to pee (which always meant in the past I was looking at a long waking period). The smell has become a mental signal for me that I still need to sleep. This is going to prove interesting when the school run commences next week!

I am sleeping longer, 3 nights I slept through to 6.30 without being disturbed at all!

I’m a little fuggy in the mornings; but then I’m NOT USED to sleeping!

Which brings me to the other outcome of note.  Which is a purely personal issue.  The spray doesn’t like me.   It seems I’m ‘intolerant’ of it; something in it’s ingredients has triggered the reaction in my muscles that I usually have for a gluten overload or food poisoning.  I’ve been through my food and drink intake carefully and I can’t lay it at any other door. This saddens me a bit as it does smell dreamy.

But! It has got me thinking… If I can train my mind to recognize another smell as meaning it’s time to sleep, something without the unreadable words in the list of ingredients and keep a spritz bottle beside the bed, perhaps I can achieve the same results?

Gotta be worth a try! Anyone know what I could use? (Mr. K is allergic to lavender btw)

Messing about on the river!

It’s the final week for the Mark Warner Holidays Active Families Challenge. I have been really really really looking forward to this one. No REALLY!!

This week we have been getting active by

Enjoy a splash about -active family in the water

I’d thought about swimming but our local pool won’t allow cameras, which makes perfect sense really. With the current weather, puddle jumping would have been ideal; but what I really really really wanted to do, yes REALLY, was Canadian Canoeing!!

We are very lucky where we live, it’s no distance at all to the Kennet and Avon Canal, miles and miles of tow path to walk and cycle, rich in wild life, many lovely pubs to visit. it’s beautiful and tranquil.  There is a canal museum at Dundas Aqueduct, which along with a rather good Bistro/Cafe called The Angelfish and a very friendly and helpful Boat and Bicycle hire company, which makes for a splendid day out for all ages.

The four of us hired a canoe (£10 for the first hour)  for a bit of a splash about on the river.

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These canoes happily take three adults or two adults and two children, we all had a paddle each, although some of us were more effective with these than others (allegedly).

canal 001Yes, that is a rare photo of yours truly!

canal 008Mr. K passed the camera up front after that, the back of my head is so dull…

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So that is it, what a fun month May has been! I’ve really enjoyed joining in with the #MWactive challenge. We have been out and about with friends, having fun as a family, enjoying spring time what ever the weather! And none of it cost the earth either!

Check out the tag #mwactive on twitter (@kailexness) to catch up on what has been going on this month, you will also find the other bloggers taking part of the challenge through that tag.

Thank you very much to Mark Warner Holidays and to Propellernet for selecting us to take part, I’m really looking forward to a trip to London to visit Profeet! So very exciting!

You know it’s summer when….

The trampoline goes up!

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I. Can. Jump. Hiiiiiiiiggggghhhhheestttt!!!!

Confounding weather….

We had such a busy weekend. It was the school craft sale! I’ve been madly crocheting away at things to sell since February for last Saturday and I sold a few things, which was more than I expected! Sunday was a wash out here, Mr.K managed to rig up a tent to carry on sanding down the rusting heap MGB roadster outside and the little man decided he needed to have his scooter put down to two wheels.

So, by the time my daughter had finished with Gardening Club this evening we all NEEDED to get a blast of spring air and to put in to play our ‘Home Sports Evening’ plan for the Mark Warner Holidays Active Family Challenge!!!

This week is

Week 3 (20th – 26th May)

Get sporty – active family healthy competition!

We had a brief conference about this one. We are (so far) a football free family, I appreciate that might change as the little man gets bigger but Mr.K is totally a petrol head. GP, Moto GP, two or four wheels, he doesn’t seem to care, as long as it’s charging around a circuit and there is (apparently) some skill involved, he’s happy…  I’m happy to keep it like that, so football was out. My daughter would have adored Go Carting, I remember what a speed freak she was on the pedal tractors last year. I’m not sure my nerves could take it!

I asked the small people “What would you like to do for a ‘home sports day?'” and they answered “LETS GO TO THE PARK!” Which is actually a pretty standard answer in this house.

So we went to the park…

There were five of us in the end, the little lady’s best friend and Mummy came too.

They scooted all the way there, the little lady was fastest. She is quite thoughtfully fearless when it comes to speed and has a great sense of balance. Unlike her brother who is cautious and has very little balance (and even less thought so I’m thrilled he is cautious!)Scooting on only two wheels was a first for the little lady’s friend, she did really well testing her balance and getting a feel for it.

All the recent mad sprouting of dandelions have now resulted in lots and lots of dandelion clocks, the race was on to see who could get the most seeds in the air at once! The little lady’s friend won that one…

Then we had, who could balance longest, can we balance better as a team, who can jump highest. Who can push the round-about fastest, who climbs the climbing wall quickest.

Then we had who can whinge the loudest about coming home again…. But that’s just fine because it means they had a good time.

Watch out for the tweets about our activities on twitter (@kailexness) using the tag #mwactive, you will also find the other bloggers taking part of the challenge through that tag.

So next week we ‘Enjoy a splash about ’ with some watery activity…

I must admit, I can wait!

Splish Splash Splosh!

Going for a spin!

Greetings!

Spring has bust out all over hasn’t it! Perfect timing too, as the lovely people at Mark Warner Holidays have asked my family and I to take part in an Activity Challenge.

Each week, they have suggested a theme for us to spend an hour being active together. This week the theme was ‘Go for a Spin’.

We have many ways of spinning here, the little lady wiggles an amazing hoola hoop and is proud of her two wheel scootering prowess, the little man spins a mean fast bowl on wii bowling, its always good to prize the control out of his hand!

As they both had new bicycles for Christmas, and the hints of ‘going around the block’ have been getting really loud since the sunshine came out, it seem the perfect solution! After a brief discussion to map out a route, shorts were put on and legs shaved (only mine though!) and we were off!

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The little lady is a bit of a speed freak… I wonder where she gets that from *innocent face*

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The little man needed a little more pedal power.

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A brief discussion on which was is right… ‘Turn Right!’

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Stabilizers are a hindrance on rutted tracks, too much rear wheel spin meant a little push was necessary!

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But they both refuse to have them taken off, we are working on that.

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We caught up with the little lady to see the ducks and canada geese on the reservoir.

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The little man took a topple into some nettles, he was very brave whist daddy applied an emergency dock leaf.  It’s kind of a rite of passage for childhood, isn’t it… I fell in nettles at Goodrich Castle when I was about 8, do you remember where you fell in nettles? I bet you do….

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And then we were off again!

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With a little more push power for the way home.

2013 027With a well earned treat at the end!

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We had such great fun! So that was week one. Here is what is coming up over May with the Mark Warner Active Family Blogger Challenge.

Week 1 (6th – 12 May)

Go for a spin – active family on wheels (cycling, skating etc.)

Week 2 (13th – 19th May)

Go green – active family in the park (running, ball games etc.)

Week 3 (20th – 26th May)

Enjoy a splash about -active family in the water (swimming, watersports etc.)

Week 4 (27th May – 2nd June)

Get sporty – active family healthy competitions (football, home sports day etc.)

I’ll be tweeting the activities we take part in on twitter (@kailexness) using the tag #mwactive, you will also find the other bloggers taking part of the challenge through that tag.

BUT!Don’t go yet! I’d love you to let me know in the comments what you have been doing recently to get active, or any idea for the future posts on the themes suggested.

It’s spring at last! Lets get out there and get our hearts racing!

Blown Away by Geocaching!

Bit windy today! It certainly was on top of Cold Kitchen Hill in Wiltshire. Today, after a 1 year and 7 day break, we went geocaching again.

 

It was a long slog up to the top of the hill but the view was incredible!

And thankfully we found the cache, the smalls get despondent if we don’t!

and then we found another one on the way back to the car.

Lovely spot. We will return with fishing nets!!

If you’d like to know how to start geocaching visit the groundspeak website and get out there!!

 

Pussycat pussycat, where have you been!!

You know those times when you know something just happened, feel it in your boots but without actually seeing proof you have to shrug and get on with life?

The school my daughter goes to is 5 minutes away by car. It’s a small village school, the parking is terrible. In the mornings they run a stop and drop so we don’t have to park, just drive up and the smalls get out and go in. They can do this in the evening so we park at the top of the hill and charge down a quiet lane to get to school. It’s really steep and has worked wonders on my glutes 😉

Fellow Instgramers will know where I mean as I’ve taken many pictures on the school run.

Thursday night, collecting my girl, I parked up in the usual spot. Turning off the car I heard a funny noise. I was a little early so I was sitting fiddling with my phone as is my wont. I heard the noise again so I got out and looked under the car, nothing there! One of the other Mum’s asked me what I was doing so I explained “I thought I heard a cat, I must be going mad!” School pick up continued and when we got back up the lane there was no noise, no cat, nothing. We came home.

Later that evening my moggy, Pippa, came in soaking wet and fed up, she’s not keen on coming in but it’s been very wet. My husband and I shouted and shouted for our other cat Sophie but she didn’t come. She’s a creature of comfort and is usually in when it rain. Sophie also has a second home 4 doors up the road where she often spends the day curled up in their greenhouse; naturally we thought she must have found a warm spot and fallen asleep, she’s getting a bit scatty with age.

This morning it was pouring with rain, I mean sheets of the stuff, it did all night too. As Friday is not a Nursery day for my son, I let my daughter have the choice of stop and drop or parking and walking. She does like to be walked down to the classroom and taken in so even though we were going to get soaked we opted to park up and walk. I’m sure if you are a Mum doing a school run, you know how it goes.

1) Park Car
2) Wait for traffic to ebb to get out.
3) Get round to nearside then start yelling at the kids to “Unbuckle, get out, don’t forget your coat/bookbag/lunchbox, get a move on, don’t hit your sister, you can do your own zip” whatever…

At this point, although I was being really loud myself, I could here loud and sorrowful mews from the bushes at the side of the road. I called out “Sophie!” but there was no response, so I bustled the smalls off down the lane to school saying “We will have a proper look when we get back.”

On return to the car, my son said, “There’s something under the car Mummy!” and low and behold, the cat, our cat Sophie, stuck her very wet head out from under the car! She was really pleased to see us! I managed to scoop her up by her scruff (shes not that keen on being picked up) and we all got in the car.

She obviously knew she needed to behave because she sat next to my son on the back seat all the way home!

Daft Mog!

The trouble is I have no idea where she hid under the car to manage to ride so far relatively safely, shes completely unharmed. I really hope she doesn’t do it again!

Bluebell Wood

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We are heading off on a round robin of visits this weekend, it occurred to me that I might just need to take my phone. Modern technology is so incredible isn’t it.

So, this is a bit of a test post and a bit of a ‘I love Bluebells post’.

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Now I shall run off to the lap top and see if it works….