Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Love the Christmas web

I found out about the Portable North Pole from a friend on Facebook - you enter the details of your child (or anyone you like) and they get a personalised message from Santa, and it's completely free!

Here's a link to Logan's video. The jury is out on whether it'll cure his fear of Santa...

And I found this Tunnock's snowball game via Twitter. I love the Christmas internet.

Now I am 2 (months)

Happy 2-month birthday Ella Betsy! My beautiful, cheeky little pixie x

Cake of the day #6: chocolate and walnut brownie at Emporium Tearoom

I was so excited at introducing Mum to the Emporium Tearoom on Fortis Green Road that I forgot to take a picture of the cake, whoops! We had a delicious lunch, chunky vegetable soup with a mature cheddar and homemade chutney sandwich - perfect on a wintry day like today. The brownie was yummy, and mum had a tasty carrot cake too.

The On The Wall art collective have an exhibition on at the tearoom at the moment, their second, on the theme of Love, Peace, Happiness. Each piece, by members of the group and other local artists, sits in a box frame and every one costs £60. I've got my eye on this one by Sandy Thornton.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

We spent a lovely family weekend in Durham, which is blanketed in snow at the moment. It was quite exciting travelling north on the train and waiting for the first white fields (just north of York). Ella saw her first snow!

Dad had organised a visit to the Tanfield Railway Santa special - you take the steam train, powered by magic coal of course, to the North Pole, where little ones get a present from Santa and grown ups get a mince pie and sherry :).

The snow made it really magical, and it ran as usual (the car park was closed so we had to park at the 'North Pole', but I don't think Logan noticed!). Logan was nonplussed by Santa, but he loved his present (a cuddly owl that he christened Tallulah) and he was thrilled with the train ride.

A really lovely Christmassy trip out.

Logan built a snowman with Grandad - with freshly picked carrot arms instead of a nose.

After a really nice catch up over lunch with my aunts, uncles and cousins, Mum drove us back to London yesterday through blizzards and traffic jams. It's so cold that there's still Yorkshire snow on the roof of the car 24 hours on - the only snow in north London (so far)!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Cake of the day #5: Banana cake

One cake wasn't enough today! I was trying to be good but by the time I'd viewed a flat, had a late lunch at Crocodile Antiques and fed Ella it was too late to head home before going back out to pick up Logan from nursery, and too cold to hang around outside, so I just had to find shelter in a cafe.

Feast, on Muswell Hill Broadway, is a deli with a cafe next door. They'd run out of brownies (disappointing) but I had a very tasty banana cake and orange juice instead.

Getting creative

I don't know what it is - days at home with no one to talk to (not counting Ella, who can't talk back!), or shows like Kirstie's Homemade Home - but I've been itching to get creative in the last few weeks.

I'm determined to make some Christmas presents this year, instead of buying everything. I've always wanted to make a patchwork quilt - Rosie Brown Boutique in Muswell Hill now sells packs of material squares and all the bits you need - but I think I might start smaller with some lavender bags like the ones on Kirstie's programme tonight. I bought some pretty wool to knit with too, so I'll keep you posted on my crafty progress!

My main creative outlet so far has been writing. I haven't written stories in years, but I bought myself a lovely notebook a few months ago and yesterday I started writing. I don't have any grand plans, I've no idea what the plot is, but I'm enjoying having the time to scribble a few pages while Ella is snoozing, and just enjoying creating something new.

I made my first ever tart from scratch tonight, very proud! Admittedly rustic (don't think it would pass muster with Michel Roux Jr) but tasty anyway (recipe here at Abel and Cole).

And I concocted an apple and plum pie with the leftover pastry. Now that's the kind of creative thinking I like.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Cake(s) of the day #4: Fabulous Bakin' Boys

After last night's indulgence I was having a 'good' day today - healthy breakfast, soup with brown bread for lunch. And then I collected a parcel from the post office. I've been carrying the slip for it around with me for a couple of weeks, and today was the first day I managed to get up and out of the flat in time to collect it (the depot closes at 12.30 - yes, okay, still not that early but it takes a lot of effort to get two of us dressed these days!).

I had no idea what it was, so imagine my delight when I opened the box to discover a whole host of baked goodies from Fabulous Bakin' Boys, to apologise for a box of jamless jam flapjacks I bought Logan for halloween last month.

And to top it all off, Abel & Cole delivered a complimentary mini mince pie with the veg box this afternoon. I'm clearly not meant to diet. I've managed to hold out all day but there's a cherry muffin in there with my name on it...

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Cake of the day #3: Belgian chocolate brownie, salted caramel and pecans

AKA the one from the latest M&S ad campaign. Delicious - all chocolate cake should come with a side order of salted caramel, it's divine.

And yes, I had half a cake. But we had half fat creme fraiche instead of cream, so I was allowed.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Cake of the day #2: scone at Maison Blanc

I was going to take a brisk woodland walk today, instead of heading into Muswell for cake, but events (and toddlers) conspired against me so I found myself in Maison Blanc on the Broadway.

I was tempted by their amazing patisserie but eventually settled on a scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam, which seemed more satisfying. The scone was lovely and light, although not warmed the way I like them, but the clotted cream was too cold, so it wouldn't spread or stick to the scone - I do like my clotted cream sticky! It still tasted great though.

I was more excited about the tea - Jasmine Silver Needle white tea, which is beautifully fragrant. I love white tea and it's nice to see it on the menu. Not a bad cream tea for £4.50.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Cake of the day #1: plum sponge, Emporium tea room

I've never been one to turn down a slice of cake - afternoon tea is one of my favourite pastimes, after all - but since I had Ella I've been eating an awful lot more of it (hey, I'm breastfeeding, I'm allowed). So I've decided to justify continued cake bingeing by introducing a new blog feature. Hopefully it'll last as long as I decide I don't need to diet!

Today's inaugural cake is plum sponge, from the Emporium tea room on Fortis Green Road, Muswell Hill. It was really moist and sweet (almost too sweet, I'm not sure it needed the sugar crust - although I still ate it all!) and was washed down nicely with a pot of English breakfast tea.

Mismatched vintage china, Cath Kidston-style tablecloths, tea - and coffee - from Muswell institution W. Martyn and a selection of English staples - beans on toast, egg and soldiers, toasted teacake and crumpets - as well as more substantial lunch specials, accompanied by a '40s-era soundtrack, make Emporium a great destination for those seeking some homely comfort on a cold autumn day.

The walls are adorned with pieces by local artists, many of whom will take personalised commissions - I'm tempted by this Brigitte Herrod drawing. The shop also sells a nice mix of vintage tableware and cutesy gifts (I bought some great Christmas cake cases for £1.50).

They run craft workshops here too - knitting, sewing, storytelling, cream tea baking :) - and will host children's parties or hen nights. A birthday craft day might be in order soon.

Life's for sharing ad campaign

I know they're advertising, and I don't think they'd make me buy a T-Mobile phone, but I do love the musical 'events' they keep staging.

The latest one, at Heathrow terminal 5, brought a tear to my eye (I'm blaming the hormones). Just joyful!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Anyone want a flat?

Another day, another post - must be something in the water! Ella isn't keen on sleeping in her moses basket at the moment but she's passed out on my knee so I'll try to type round her.

As well as dealing with a newborn (and her errant brother) we're trying to sell our flat at the moment and find a bigger place. We were hoping to have moved by the time Ella arrived, but the market was so slow over the summer that we haven't had much interest on our flat. We've just switched agents (feel like I've done a deal with the devil!) so if anyone wants a delightful two-bed flat for the bargainous (for Muswell Hill) price of £225,000 please take it!

Because we haven't had many viewings so far I'd sort of forgotten about the other half of the deal - that we have to find somewhere to move to. We looked at some places over the summer and pretty much settled on Catford - affordable 3-bed houses, good commute - but since the prices have dropped we can afford to look in a couple of other areas too - Plumstead/Thamesmead, Edmonton, there's even a flat in East Finchley. It feels a bit like starting all over again - I don't think I've been to Plumstead or Edmonton before, so we need to do a recce and decide whether they feel right.

The main problem is fitting viewings in with the kids. When we looked previously we 'offloaded' Logan on grandparents, but that's not an option with a little one. Unfortunately some estate agents aren't insured to travel with babies (crazy!) so we may be spending the foreseeable future tramping round between houses. At least we'll get to know the area...

Monday, 15 November 2010

And the world turns

So it's been a while since I blogged, again! This year has just flown by, the older you get yada yada.

So much can change in a couple of months. Las time I posted I had a growing belly and another month at work and bam! Here I am, two months through my maternity leave already and a new 6-week-old little being who relies solely on me for sustenance.

Second time around, newborns are so much easier. I'm not saying I'm not tired and occasionally emotional but a lot of the hard work - nappies, baths, dressing - comes naturally the second time. I'm definitely appreciating how straightforward newborns are - as long as you feed them and change them and help them to sleep, they're pretty amenable, and portable!

I still have moments that overwhelm me, but if I compare this time with Ella to how ill I was with Logan (no mastitis this time, phew), I'm pretty lucky. I think about friends who have coped with very ill babies, or coped on their own, and I realise actually I have nothing to complain about.

So what if Ella won't settle to sleep in the afternoon? Or if she's up four times in the night (which is rare for her, she's an ace nighttime sleeper)? This baby stage is so short. Before I know it she'll be sitting up, crawling, eating solids... I'm determined to appreciate every sleep-deprived second.