Cooking mama

On Saturday I was hoping to be able to do a blog post about a fabulous family day out – but a stinking headache for me first thing (not a hangover may I add – no, honestly!) and an evil wasp sting on the husband mid morning meant a day at home instead.

So in the afternoon I made apple crumble ready for Sunday lunch with the parentals today – and one to pop in the freezer (domestic goddess that I am!). I had ‘help’ from the odd numbered children (whilst children 2 and 4 played Minecraft and slept respectively – to be honest the first would induce the second for me, but children seem to LOVE it!)

Baking 1

The 4 year old was chief ‘rub-er in-er’ – and as you can see was VERY proud!  And, surprisingly, she did a really good job.  Usually she gets bored before all the butter has been rubbed in – but not on this occasion.

The eldest did all of the weighing.  I’d told her the ‘half fat to flour’ rule – and that the sugar needed to be the same as the fat.  Now the fat wasn’t the 150g I’d suggested – but 163g – so we even had a bit of a maths lesson at the same time!

Baking 2

 

I assisted with the apple peeling (or we may still have been doing it whilst making the Christmas cake later in the Autumn!!)

Baking 3

 

They were very chuffed with their finished results (so much so they were dancing about and the photo is blurred!)

 

Baking 4

So no exciting day out to report – but 2 very excited girls who very much enjoyed cooking with me (and a husband was was visibly shocked I’d done actual cooking with the children when he got up from his post traumatic nap!)

We had happy customers at lunchtime today when the crumble went down very well with Nanny and Grandad too!

 

 

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Great Grandparents

I am very fortunate that I still have a Grandmother around – my Mum’s Mum – and also an ‘honorary’ one!  

The honorary Grandma is actually my best friend’s Grandma – but she’s been in my life for almost 30 years – and she thinks of me as one of her own grandchildren.  One of my favourite memories of her and Grandad (who sadly passed away last year) was the ‘post A levels’ holiday my BFF and I went on with them to a camp site on the west coast of France.  

Back when we were 18 and carefree!
Back when we were 18 and carefree!

We had our own mobile home – but spent lots of time with G&G as they are just such fun.  Grandad would go and fetch the croissants for us every morning – but rather than leave them on the step whilst we did the teenage thing of sleeping in, he would construct a tower from tables and chairs and balance them on the top so we could see them when we opened the caravan curtains!!  

Honorary Grandparents
Honorary Grandparents

And then there was the infamous night of the ‘bad moule’ – where I was throwing up what looked like concrete and Grandma was convinced this was to do with dodgy shellfish (not the 2 litres of French white wine my 18 year old self had drunk!!)

Grandma helping me home on 'bad moule' night
Grandma helping me home on ‘bad moule’ night

When we got back to the UK – and got our results – Grandma took great pleasure in shouting out of her door that her Grandaughters had got 8 A levels between them!!   One of my kids’ highlights of this summer was actually going up and down on Grandma’s stairlift!!

Stairlift

Both honorary Grandma and my Nan are the same age (and spookily went to the same school in Birmingham as girls, although didn’t know each other) – which means they were both about the same age as my eldest daughter at the outbreak of World War 2. When the children have done projects about World War 2 and evacuees they were able to talk to my Nan all about it – as she was evacuated from inner city Birmingham to Burton upon Trent.  She talks of going into school in her best coat, with a tag around her neck and her gas mask and being sent off to a school in Burton where local families could come and pick who they wanted.  I don’t think it was a particularly enjoyable experience for Nan – and she came back to Brum as soon as she could as she missed her family so much.  How amazing that someone can talk about what happened to her when it’s a topic you read about in the history books or see in films – and how lucky my kids are to be able to talk to these ladies with such interesting history.  

Nan and Grandad (who sadly died in his early 50s – and yet seemed like such an ‘old man’ to me back then) met, married and went on to have my Mum and 4 other children – so even more kids than me!  But no washing machine / dishwasher / fridge / car – it was a much more physically demanding role than for me now. Seeing Nan in her warden controlled flat now, eating her M&S meals as it saves cooking for just her – I can’t imagine her running a house with all of those kids in those conditions – she must have been such a strong woman (even at just over five foot tall).

When I was expecting baby number 4 my consultant wanted to induce me (apparently it’s risky with number 4 or more to go overdue – and I’d had to be induced with 2 of the other 3 anyway, with the other one being a week late when he came of his own accord, so induction was likely to be on the cards at some point).  It was November 2011 – so the fact I have massive number OCD meant I wanted 11th November (what a cool date of birth would that have been?) – but he was already fully booked for c-sections.  So instead we went for November 9th – my Nan’s 83rd birthday – what an exciting present for her – her 9th great grandchild (to add to the 12 grandchildren). As she pointed out – at least we’d remember it when she’s gone (always glass half full, that’s Nan!!)

83 years difference - to the day!
83 years difference – to the day!

My parents do a lot for Nan as geographically they are the closest of her children – and when they’re away I take on the mantle of ‘milk deliverer and bill payer’.  Nan always says ‘you don’t need to come, you’ve got so much to do with the kids and business’ – but I know how much it means to her – and I know how much it would mean to some of my friends who no longer have their Nans to go and visit. So a (china) mug of tea and an egg custard at Nan’s little flat it is! 

4 generations
4 generations (one with really bad fluid retention in her legs having just given birth……..)

Mama, I’m a big ‘blogger’ now!

This afternoon I had to buy an emergency pair of shoes (Superdry blue flip flops, very comfortable and quite substantial for a basic flip flop) due to the other new pair of shoes I was wearing (Next gorgeous sparkly pumps) for the first time were rubbing at the back on both feet.

This afternoon I also had to photograph the shoes whilst sitting on a shopping centre toilet as I knew I wanted to blog about this. 

Shoes

I think I now qualify as a proper blogger……….

Crazy golf fun times **

We have had a fabulous summer – a few weeks at home catching up with friends and family – and then a fortnight of ‘just’ the 6 of us in Portugal.  Now there are just a few days left before the end of the summer holidays – and the start of new school terms, and new schools for 3 of the 4 kids – which will no doubt garner a load more blog posts!

One thing we ‘have’ to do every time we are at this particular resort in Portugal is play crazy golf. I loathe this ridiculous game with a passion. I find it neither ‘crazy’ nor ‘golf’ and you can guarantee it will descend into at least one of the family members having a huge strop.  This time I nominated myself scorer to reduce the risk of it being me stropping off.

We all played beautifully until we got to hole 4 – then the 11 year old stropped off…….

It wasn’t much later when the 2 year old had a melt down – and this resulted in my favourite photo of the entire holiday – and therefore this had to be my entry for this week’s ‘The Gallery’ post.

Georgia - crazy golf strop

Definitely one to keep for her 18th birthday!! 

** This should most definitely be read in an ‘ironic’ font.

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Books – books and more books

I love reading.  I always have, from Enid Blyton’s Five and Seven (Famous and Secret respectively), through Sweet Valley High and Judy Blume (I could probably still find the rude bits in ‘Forever’) to the deeply condescending entitled ‘chick lit’ genre of more recent years – interspersed with a ‘critically acclaimed’ to justify the grammar school education!

A fortnight’s holiday used to mean a suitcase full of paperbacks – but 4 kids and a Kindle has reduced the excess baggage charges (book-wise anyway – although the space this year was replaced with gin – see comment re holidaying with 4 children…..)

I swore for a long time that I wouldn’t succumb to the new fangled Kindle – in the manner of my 85 year old Grandmother – but once I’d tried it, I confess to being a convert.  It does hurt marginally more when you drop it on your face when you fall asleep reading – but that is probably one of the few cons (the other being when you aren’t allowed to read it on take off and landing on flights – but could read a normal book!!)

I do feel slightly guilty for not using my local library so much nowadays – although my children more than make up for that!  My Dad was never allowed to borrow books from the library as a child in the 40s / 50s as my Nan reckoned the books there had germs – but I have let my kids run the risk!

I have never joined a ‘book club’ but quite often my Facebook feed will end up in a pseudo-bookclub chat – as I have a lot of friends who like to read (this definitely says something about my circle of friends – in a good way!) And one of these friends suggested I should blog about books – so here we are (this is the second time I’ve taken up one of her content suggestions for this blog – the other was periods – this should be less messy!)

So – henceforth – I plan to do a short(ish – longer than Twitter – shorter than a magazine) book review when I finish a book – and I would really welcome your comments both on the books I review – and suggestions for what I might like based on my reading history – I am always looking for recommendations (I often rely on Viv Groskop in her monthly review column for Red Magazine – but there’s always scope for more!)

We’ve been on holiday for the last fortnight – so this is peak reading weeks for me – so I thought I’d kick off with a brief review of what I’ve read – and this should also give you an insight into what I like (and don’t!)

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Secret History
I struggled through The Goldfinch – another of Ms Tartt’s tomes (I read it on Kindle and nearly passed out when I saw the size of the hardback that someone else was reading!) – last year, enjoying the different style of writing – but struggling with the content and waffly-ness of it at times – and at the start of The Secret History was concerned it was going to be the same.  From the outset you know that a certain event is going to happen – and I found the build up to that a bit drawn out – but once that was done, I enjoyed it much more (guess I’m just impatient?!)  I have to say I didn’t particularly like any of the characters in the story (American University students) which always makes a book more of a struggle if you couldn’t really care about any of them – however, I enjoyed the Latin / Greek references (back to that grammar school education again!) – but it definitely wasn’t an easy read.  At least I can tick a ‘critically acclaimed’ off the list – and I wasn’t beaten by it!

Little Lies by Liane Moriaty (seemingly called Big Little Lies in the USA!)
Little lies

This was a Red Magazine recommendation – and I have really enjoyed some of her other works (What Alice Forgot, The Husband’s Secret) so I downloaded it immediately.  This was a great break from The Secret History – and I devoured it in a day (and night – holiday insomnia has it’s perks!)  She writes well, from the aspects of lots of different characters, and her topics (family life, suburban Sydney – where I lived for a while) are really relevant to me.  Although I’d like to think the PTA events at the schools my kids go to aren’t quite so scary!!  Interestingly, like The Secret History – you know that a certain event is going to happen in this book too – but I didn’t feel I needed to get to that point to enjoy the book. 

The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriaty
Hypnotists Love Story
I downloaded this after checking the authors history and what I had and hadn’t already read. It was lovely – another easy read – but not too cheesy.  Again – set in Sydney – which brings back fond memories.  I would have poo pooed the ‘hypnotist’ element of it historically – but with recent experiences I was not so cynical – which probably meant I enjoyed it more!

New Beginnings by Fern Britton
New Beginnings
I have to confess to loving Fern a little bit.  Who cares that she lost weight with a gastric band and advertised Ryvita at the same time – I always think she would be a fabulous mate who you could have a real laugh (*drink*) with (and Phil could cook dinner for us all!) – and her stint on Strictly Come Dancing a couple of years ago made me love her even more (I hold her sparkly dress on the Strictly tour totally responsible for the one I had made for my 40th party!!)  I’ve read lots of Fern’s books – mostly set in Cornwall – and they’ve been a good easy read (particularly as I’m normally reading at home whilst trying to get small kids to sleep – so can’t concentrate on anything too mentally taxing in between demands for milk / water / nappies changed / extra blankets / aircon on / the toilet etc etc) This one isn’t set in Cornwall – and I think is her debut novel – it’s set in the world of TV – so I guess sticking to what she knew.  It’s about a 40 something mother – so lots to empathise with.  As with a lot of Fern’s books, it left me wanting to know what happened to all of the characters next – which I think is the sign of a good read!

Tickled Pink by Christina Jones

Tickled Pink
This was an Amazon Prime Kindle library suggestion (I only recently found out that our Prime membership entitled us to b borrow Kindle library books for free – and no risk of germs from this library either!!) and my Kindle knows me well it would appear!  Initially I was a bit confused by all of the different characters (although admittedly this may have been compounded by the Portuguese Vinho Verde I was knocking back!) – but I soon settled into it.  It’s a total rollercoaster and therefore not predictable – which I enjoyed.  You really get for the sleepy English village in which it’s set – I’d quite like to visit it now!

So there you have it – my Summer 2014 reading list! It’s 6 weeks before I go away again – so I doubt there’ll be another book review until then – but I look forward to everyone else’s suggestions and comments.  In the style of Strictly ‘Keep Reading!’

 

At home with The Prices (sort of!)

When I started blogging I was ** quite excited ** that I would be able to link up with The Gallery on Sticky FIngers – but then Tara and her family were on holiday so it was ‘on a break’ – but hoorah, they’re back – and this is my first ever gallery entry!!

So – At Home with The Prices – sort of – as we’re actually on holiday in Portugal.  It also isn’t all of The Prices – as the husband is behind the camera – but it’s pretty rare for me to be in a photo with all 4 kids.  Thankfully child number 3 is protecting my topless modesty.  It is not the best photo in terms of composition, none of us look stunning – but it totally sums up family fun in the pool on holiday!

P1010565

Right – back in the pool I go (after I’ve poured a glass of wine as it’s past 11am) – got to love family holidays!!

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Whilst this Price is usually right – other prices aren’t…….

I love the fact that people are enjoying my blog – the other night I had a text message from a friend saying how much she was loving and empathising with  it, and then another friend suggested a topic – so here it is PERIODS!

Immediately all of the male readers have closed the browser and scuttled off to the hills!!  Do not fear – this is not to be a graphic description of my menstrual cycle – I’ll leave that to people far more eloquent than I – the fabulous Caitlin Moran describing it in her new book ‘How to Build a Girl’ and even more vividly during her recent tour.  The tales of mooncup woes whilst at Richard Curtis and Emma Freud’s house, or whilst interviewing the achingly gorgeous Benedict Cumberbatch will remain with me forever.

No – this is about the fact that sanitary products have VAT charged on them as they are deemed ‘non essential items’.  Now there are obviously different types of sanitary wear (this is a weak pun based on the fact I have to use the phrase sanitary ware in the day job – meaning toilets, sinks and the like – and I always have a slightly pathetic giggle at it!).  Currently I find myself for a couple of days a month requiring the use of a couple of types simultaneously to avoid any Ms Moran type leakages (TMI!!).  So much so that I had to summon the 11 year old to get me replacements during my last ‘visit from the painters’.  This lead to the 4 year old (trying to emulate her absent big sister) bursting into the toilet yesterday,, when I was innocently having a wee, to ask if I needed her to get me ‘one of those nappy things you wear?’.  I am hoping this doesn’t get repeated at school (I haven’t needed Tena Ladies since the 4th child was born!!)

So – back to VAT (the dull accountant in me leaps for joy!).  Tampons and sanitary towels are deemed luxury items and therefore we – half the population, including many children – are being taxed just for being female!  The VAT is admittedly at a reduced rate of 5% (before 2001 it was the full whack of 17.5% – now 20% – so at least it’s had some reduction) – and in the big scheme of things 5% on an annual spend of maybe £100 is only a medium glass of sauvignon blanc – but it’s the principle of the matter!!

Exotic meats and sugar flowers  are all deemed ‘essential’ and therefore there is no vat charged on them!!  So perhaps the HMRC list isn’t as extensive as the Waitrose ‘essential’ list – Ardennes pate and parmesan being my particular favourite essentials – but I am fairly certain I could live without consuming exotic meat or sugar flowers every month – but would struggle to cope without tampons or towels (and there is no way I’m ever trying a mooncup)!! There is a petition you can sign if you feel strongly about this too:  Stop Taxing Periods. Period.

Crocodile

And this is the article that prompted the blog request:  We Need to Talk About Periods

So yes –  this Price is usually right, but the price of sanitary products isn’t!!

A Daisy shaped hole (for 6 sleeps)

This week the eldest has gone on International Guide Camp.  There are 800 Guides there from all over the world – their field has girls from Denmark, Hong Kong and Australia  and the location of this exotic camp – is 2 miles up the road!!  This is actually a great plan (mostly for the husband – who would be even more stressed if she was in another country) for her first trip away – and the fact that she’s with her lovely Guide pack friends – and that the leaders are 2 Mums from the village that I know and trust – means all in all, it’s fine.  Honestly….

 Price Family November 2013-6127

But….

It just feels weird with one of us missing and there ‘only’ being 5 of us.

Price Family November 2013-6090

Admittedly the bickering is loads less (she and her brother know exactly which buttons to press to wind each other up) but she’s my right hand woman.  She is BRILLIANT with her little sisters, and helps me so much with them.  I also keep seeing things (loom band models on Facebook, news stories about One Direction) that I want to share with her – and I can’t.  I can’t even text her or email her as it was a strict NO PHONES rule.  She’s now 11 and spending time with her is (mostly!) a joy.  Going shopping with just her is now a fun trip (throw in the other 3 and it all gets a bit stressful still!) and I really enjoy her company.

Yes – we still have our moments:

Getting her to wash her hair and music practice being the key areas for ‘discussion’.  Recently I was helping her with her aural for her Grade 2 piano exam.  One section involves identifying whether a piece of music is in 2 or 3 time – so basically a march or a waltz.  She watches Strictly – surely she should be able to hear this?  But seemingly not.  It all got a bit heated and I ranted ‘SURELY YOU CAN HEAR IT’S A F*CKING MARCH’ – which pretty much sums up why despite having my Grade 8 I have never been a piano teacher………

But most of the time I am super proud of my kind, caring, beautiful, clever, thoughtful, talented (she did pass the piano exam!) and loving first born.

Thankfully the no phones means she can’t read this and be mortified!!

Every night at bedtime the 4 year old asks ‘How many sleeps until we can get Daisy back?’ – and I think we all feel the same.  Roll on Saturday morning when we can pick her up (and no doubt by Saturday lunchtime I’ll have moaned at her at least once – so will need to re read this post!!)

On the Tolkien Trail……….

As the front of my blog says, I am a Brummie Mummy and my husband is a proud Brummie too!   In fact when we had to complete the forms to get married in St Lucia we had to fill in the place of birth of our parents:

Birmingham, Birmingham, Birmingham, Birmingham.

Our 3 daughters all have Birmingham on their birth certificates – but our son has Redditch.  We’re hoping this doesn’t cause him a complex in later life!

A decade ago we moved to a village just outside the sprawl of England’s second city (in fact, my parents used to come on Sunday school outings here when they were kids as it was the ‘countryside’)  – but we’re still within striking distance (and sometimes hearing distance depending on the direction of the wind) of the motorway network and thus the infamous spaghetti junction and can be in ‘town’ within half an hour.

This gives us a wealth of places to visit within an hour of leaving the house – but often you don’t take advantage of what’s right on the doorstep.

Last week we went to Sarehole Mill – and all 4 kids enjoyed it (this is a feat in itself!).  The older ones enjoyed learning about Tolkien who lived nearby as a child and there was plenty to keep the little 2 entertained (fishing game, brass rubbings) And, the favourite thing for them all, was watching the water mill in action.  The mill is operational on Wednesdays and Sundays through the summer – and it definitely adds to the experience. It’s free for the kids to get in, and was £3 for me.  There were also craft activities for a small charge on Wednesday – and so the kids all made farm animals!! We had lunch across the road at ‘The Hungry Hobbit’ (a friendly greasy spoon, with great bacon sandwiches and scrambled egg or beans on toast) – although we could have had cake at the mill itself.

Sarehole Mill 1 Sarehole Mill 2

There are other Tolkien sites to visit in and around the city on the Tolkien Trail – so they’re also on the hit list for the holidays.  Given the big 2 have read the books and seen the films, it helps bring it all even more to life. Now – if we could just plan a trip to New Zealand to see where the films were made……………