Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A Morning in The Garden

Yesterday I had a really happy morning. You won't hear me saying those words very often, I am most definitely not a morning person. But today I was reminded of how a happy morning sets you up for the day ahead

Whilst giving Forrest his breakfast I noticed, as always lately, the birdsong outside. So loud and joyful, it can't help but make me cheerful. I decided that when Forrest went up for his morning nap I would sit outside and drink it in

So when the little fella was safely tucked up in his cot I grabbed my hoodie, a folding chair and a cup of strong, bitter coffee and opened up the patio doors in to the garden. If you can call it a garden (you can't really, not yet. It's still mostly just a mess)

Wilson came along to keep me company

What's that you say? You want a close up of that blossom?

Last year we had swallows nesting in our garage and ladies and gentleman ..... drum roll please .... they are BACK!

I love these birds, they are so quick though that they're really hard to photograph! Luckily these two obliged me by hanging around on the phone line for five minutes. I think the one on the right is a baby

The bird responsible for the most beautiful singing was a thrush. It took me ages to work out - I could hear where it was coming from but I scoured that tree (I even put my glasses on!) and couldn't see a thing. It finally made its way right to the top so I could get a picture

We get tons of woodpigeons hanging around, including some really fat ones. This one was fairly slimline though

There was also a collared dove at the very top of the leylandii (but apparently it was camera shy) and some geese flew over (but they were too quick for me)

I've seen robins, a wren, goldfinches, blue tits, starlings and great tits since we moved here and I'm going to make it my mission to photograph them all. My mum loved feeding and photographing the birds in her garden, I think she'd be pleased that I'm following in her footsteps

I can't wait until the garden is finished so I can sit out there more. And I'm going to start feeding the birds again, my bird table is still at our old house but I'm going to bring it here at the weekend and set it up with some yummy treats for all my little feathered friends

Do you have any interesting birds in your garden?

Friday, 25 April 2014

Friday Round Up

catching up on my reading - preparing meals for forrest - bank holiday traffic, ugh
a bird pooed on forrest's pushchair - pimms in the sun - national eat chocolate day
fancy new cushion - flowers in the hedge bottom - late night supper

instagram - madeupoflittlethings

Another Friday Round Up published on an actual Friday? I know, I know, I'm on a roll!

Last Friday was spent enjoying a family day out in Harrogate, we had a lovely day together. The sun was shining (rare on a bank holiday, non?) and everything was perfect. Until a bird did a poo on Forrest's pushchair, that was not so cool. Thank the lord for baby wipes

We also spent an awful lot of time watching seasons 1 and 2 of Homeland on Netflix. Perpetually late to the party, I'd avoided this like the plague because of a long-held grudge against Damian Lewis (have you seen The Forsyte Saga??) but we're now hooked in, totally and utterly. I've also been watching season 1 of American Horror Story, which Matt says is too weird for him. I kind of see where he's coming from ...

In other news, I'm LOVING weaning Forrest! We began with nervousness on my part and complete confusion on his but after a couple of days we both got the hang of it and he now LOVES his food! He's a proper greedy guts, sometimes he cries between mouthfuls if I'm not quick enough with the next spoonful and his mouth seems to be permanently open, waiting for more. He's tried all kinds of different foods and loves everything. Butternut squash, sweet potato, cauliflower, leeks, peas, carrots, tomatoes, salmon, beef, cod, chicken, cheese, apples, pears, mangoes, banana ... I think he's going to be a really good eater. He seems to prefer food to milk! I've been using his long lunchtime naps to prepare meals from my Annabel Karmel book that I can freeze in portions for him, so far my record is four different meals in an hour and a half

Today it's raining, dull and dreary (although the birds don't seem to have noticed, they're still trilling away out there) so I've just lazed around the house with Forrest, we had a lovely deep bubble bath together before his lunchtime nap and I'm now sitting in the kitchen with my back to the Aga, enjoying the peace and feeling warm and cosy. I was supposed to be taking him to a toddler group today but after some particularly vigorous chiro treatment last night I'm staggering about feeling bruised and battered so I'm opting for rest instead. Today is one of those days which is exactly how I imagined maternity leave would be. I just found a casserole of braising steak and onions in the Aga which I put in yesterday and forgot about, so tonight I need only whip up a batch of buttery mash and dinner is served!

Speaking of buttery mash, this was the week I decided to finally face facts - I haven't lost my baby weight yet and I'm going to need to do something about it. I've never had a problem losing weight before, I've always stuck around the size 8-10 mark and if my clothes started to feel a bit tight I'd just eat smaller portions and cut out chocolate/cheese/McDonalds for a few weeks. I'd naively assumed the extra pounds would fall off once Forrest arrived but I was wrong. My old tricks aren't working and I'm sick of having no clothes that fit me. I still look four months pregnant and I'm still wearing maternity jeans - that's just wrong when my baby is six months old. So next week I start dieting for the first time ever. I can't exercise at the minute as my chiropractor has put me on strict rest so I have to start eating a bit more healthily. Wish me luck!

Finally, I'm sure you'll join me in congratulating my gorgeous blogger buddy Rosie on her engagement! It might be strange to feel so chuffed for someone you've never met but I can't help it - Rosie and Jason are a lovely couple and deserve all the happiness :)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

A Day In Harrogate

Lucky old me spent Good Friday in Harrogate with my little family and I had a whale of a time! Matt is so busy with work at the minute that we are lucky if we see each other for a couple of hours each night and his weekends are spent working on the Great Never Ending House Building Project - established 2008. But as this month has included a four day weekend, I was determined to sidetrack him from work for a least a day and get us all out of the house, doing something together. And luckily for us, Good Friday was glorious in this part of the world

We started the day with dippy eggs and soldiers - a Matt speciality. We love our home-laid eggs soft boiled with toasted granary soldiers smothered in butter, yum! Matt gave the dogs a quick run while I packed my bag with everything Forrest would need for the day and actually remembered my phone AND camera! Well, I forgot them but I remembered them in time to go back and get them, which is almost the same thing, right?

Sadly the bank holiday traffic ensnared us as we got on to the A1 and slowed us up a little so we had to stop at the services to give Forrest his porridge and fruit. Forrest made friends with (read 'eyes at') two lovely old ladies in Costa who cooed and giggled with him whilst I tried to shove porridge into his mouth, resulting in very gooey smiles on his part!

We finally made it to Harrogate and, without meaning to, found ourselves in And So To Bed who were having a huge refurb sale. We were lured in by a gorgeous bed in the window and ended up lying on mattresses and looking at fabric swatches ... I'm not really sure how that happened! 

We wandered around, taking in the beautiful historic buildings and enjoying the lovely sunshine. We weren't the only ones, every patch of grass was filled with people making the most of the gorgeous weather

We popped to my spiritual home, Bettys, to pick up a salad to eat on the grass with a glass of Pimms and let Forrest have a little stretch out. It was the first time he'd felt grass and I think he liked it, he tugged away at it and looked quite intrigued

It made me so happy to spend some time as a family, I think it's maybe the second or third day this year that we'd all been together all day and I just loved it

 The reality of a day out with a baby - feeding on a bench in the street. Thank the lord I'm not breastfeeding any more!!

Matts favourite pic from the day!!

We got home a little later than planned so we hurriedly gave Forrest his tea, bath and bottle and settled him in bed before settling ourselves in front of the TV to watch Homeland on Netflix with a Jack Daniels and Coke

The perfect end to a perfect day!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Friday Round Up

breakfast time - weaning homework - weaning aftermath
beautiful blossom - queen jessie surveys her kingdom - lovely spring evening
no words, too cute - matt's latest masterpiece - 2014 calendar, better late than never

instagram - madeupoflittlethings

Thank the lord it's Friday. This has been a TOUGH week. I used to reserve that statement for weeks which involved driving 1000+ miles, staying in strange hotels, preparing meetings at midnight and negotiating deals involving millions of pounds. But these days a week of nonstop crying from Forrest has the power to bring me to my knees

The little fella is teething and he's not enjoying it. He's also going through a developmental 'leap' which is making him horribly clingy - he screams bloody murder if I go out of sight for a second. He was also showing all the 'signs' (if you believe in that sort of thing, I'm not sure I do) of being ready for weaning except waking in the night. So when he resumed crying at 4am yesterday I decided to get myself together and offer him some solid food at his 11am feed

I hit Sainsburys and armed myself with freezable cube trays, bowls, spoons, baby rice and we were off. First impressions with baby rice weren't brilliant and todays sweet potato wasn't what you'd call a success either. Fingers crossed that tomorrows pear is a turning point

In other news this week, I've started an intensive course of chiropractic to (hopefully) sort out my poor pelvis and tailbone enough that day to day life is a bit more bearable. We can but hope

Making all of the above better is the fact that Spring is finally here. The days are warmer and brighter, the evenings are longer and everything is set to a background track of glorious birdsong. How can anyone fail to be cheered by such a joyful sound? I've been putting Forrest outside the patio doors in his pram for his afternoon nap and I'm quite envious of him, snuggled up warm and cosy and sleeping in such a lovely spot

This week in short - 

The Good

* Spotting a grown man in M&S wearing a Goofy hoodie. Just ... wow. There were no words

The Bad

* Some of the frankly bizarre conversations I've had with Matt over dinner this week, due to extreme over tiredness on both our parts. One included questions such as would you rather ride an emu or a dolphin (??) own a giraffe or a crocodile, and would you rather kiss an otter or a panda? (Matt - 'a panda. It could hug me')

The Ugly

* Lying in bed on Sunday morning and a woodworm dropping out of the beam above us and landing on the duvet. You can imagine the hysteria. Have you ever seen a woodworm? Although we've done battle with them before (a drawback of living in a 1600s house) I've never actually seen one. They're pretty big and have a lot of legs. We call them termites and have sworn death on them before the end of the weekend

How was your week?

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Rachael Reviews - Garmin Nuvi 50 Sat Nav*

Since finding out I was pregnant I've radically changed my driving style. I used to drive around 500 - 1000 miles every week with work and I cut that down dramatically. I also started to schedule my meetings later in the day so I could avoid the rush hour traffic, meaning I could take my journey a little steadier. I gave myself an extra half an hour for every journey and always made sure I stopped when I felt tired rather than pushing on to get to my destination

Since having Forrest I've become even more safety conscious, as you can imagine. So when Tesco Compare asked me to become a Safety and Security Tester, I thought I'd be perfect!

They sent me a Garmin Nuvi 50 sat nav to trial and review, which I tested on a recent shopping trip to Lincoln. The Nuvi 50 comes in at the lower priced end of the market and whilst it doesn't come with the (mostly unnecessary) bells and whistles that a more expensive sat nav would, it's still pretty impressive

Assembling the bracket, plugging in the charger and affixing the device was the work of seconds, as was programming in my destination by postcode - I didn't even need to pick up the instructions 

The sat nav is very user friendly and the mute function is easy to find - a big plus for me as I hate annoying sat nav voices! The unit is lightweight and the screen is extremely touch sensitive, making it easy to navigate the menus

For balance, I've tried to come up with a negative point but I really can't! I'm absolutely delighted with it and have given my work sat nav (which retails at more than double the price) to Matt so I can use this one instead

Overall I'd highly recommend the Garmin Nuvi 50. It may be basic but it's extremely effective and if you're looking for an entry level sat nav you will not be disappointed

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Forrest at 5 months

I can't believe Forrest has been with us for five months now! Well, five and a half months, really. We've come a long way together in that time and I really feel like I know this little guy now. I've learned his little personality, his likes and dislikes, his little quirks and I rarely have those 'dear god, what is WRONG with this child??!!' moments anymore  

We seem to have finally left the days of sleepless nights behind us, although I'm sure they'll be back once teething really sets in. I saw and heard some wonderful things during the wee small hours in the nursery with Forrest (a shooting star, a pheasant having a 4am chat with a blackbird) but I can't say I'll miss them. Everything seems so much easier on a full nights sleep, we've been enjoying this for the past few weeks and on Wednesday night he actually slept from 7pm to 8am - we couldn't believe our eyes!

Shortly after writing this post about instinctive parenting, a little routine started to emerge in our days. I started using a dummy, something I swore I would never do, but Forrest has always seemed to love sucking and I was advised that sucking might help to correct the shape of his head after his birth trauma. The dummy was a godsend and really helped him to settle between feeds, meaning that I was no longer feeding him every couple of hours, mistaking his need to suck for hunger

I also took him to a cranial osteopath who was able to give me some good advice and correct a few of his little niggles, helping him to become more settled and less demanding

Another thing that has helped him become less demanding is more daytime sleep. There were days when he was only sleeping for 40 minutes during the day and we were both suffering for it. Daytime naps became much easier as soon as he was old enough to settle himself and now I try to ensure he gets three hours sleep during the day if possible. He's much happier for it and it hasn't affected his sleep at night, he's still begging to go to bed by 6pm. And he always wakes up happy - every morning we hear him gurgling away to himself on the baby monitor and we creep into the nursery and peer into the cot to be greeted with the biggest, happiest smiles you can imagine - it's the best way to start the day!

He can now roll onto his front, lift himself up on his arms and kick his legs wildly, he just can't quite lift his body off the floor to crawl and he gets incredibly frustrated about that. He's very impatient (I can't imagine where he gets that from) He can also roll continuously to one side to get where he wants to go, meaning I can't take my eyes off him for a minute! He's not brilliant at sitting up unaided yet so whilst introducing him to solid foods is on the cards in about a month, we're not quite ready yet. His favourite thing to do at the minute is suck the big toe of his left foot. He loves that toe!

But the big love of Forrest's life is Matt. He is a true daddy's boy. He saves his biggest smiles for Daddy and on the two occasions Matt has had Forrest to himself all day, he has behaved like an absolute angel (how bloody typical!) We wonder if this is because of the bond they forged immediately after Forrest's birth - he stared unblinking into Matts eyes for what seemed like forever. I've already told Matt that if we have another baby he won't be allowed to look at it for at least 24 hours after the birth!

We both absolutely adore him as you can imagine. It seems only five minutes ago that we brought him home  and I remember not wanting him to grow up, wanting him to stay a little baby forever. But I'm loving watching him grow and change as the weeks roll by. Next stop - weaning. Wish us luck!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Friday Round Up

Just one pic this week ... because it's so cute!

This week has passed in a blur of long walks (in THE SUN of all things!) strong coffee and plans for the future

I did a keep in touch day at work on Wednesday and Matt took the day off work to have a boys day with Forrest. Matt went to the hairdressers, into town to buy some shoes and then to the dry cleaners to pick up his suit and Forrest went along with him. And was as good as gold all day. I'd had a difficult couple of days with him at the start of the week and I was kind of hoping he'd give his Daddy a rough time so Matt could see what I'm up against some days but no, of course he was the model baby. Dammit. We did a proper role swap for the day - I got up early and went to work and Matt got Forrest up, changed him, fed him and played with him in the nursery. I wrote him a rough outline of Forrest's typical day and got home to find each section ticked off neatly. Matt even made dinner, did a load of laundry, washed up and prepared the bottles for the next day. I had to (grudgingly) admit I was impressed!

Matt's also a hero this week for unblocking the shower drain AGAIN after I blocked it with my crazy hair loss. It's getting ridiculous now, I feel like there's hardly enough left to cover my head! And if I had hair envy before I saw Rosie's Boden post (when I saw this post for example) I am absolutely pea green now! Look at it, is it the stuff of dreams or what??

Best things about this week

* Seeing a tiny girl riding a little grey pony through the village, accompanied by her mum and big sister. Literally beaming from ear to ear and wearing a bobble hat cover over her dinky riding hat. Just so cute!

* Blossom, blossom everywhere. Our old house had several old fruit trees in the garden and the blossom was a real pain at this time of year, sweeping down the road in the wind and sticking to our cars on the drive. Now it's someone else's problem I can appreciate how pretty it is!

* Finding a chiropractor who specialises in SPD and is excited to treat me! My SPD symptoms are back and worsening, apparently this is rare after the birth and I am 'a real challenge'. Fab eh??

Worst things about this week

* Matt lost one of his friends in a motorbike accident last month and the funeral was yesterday. It's been hard seeing him so down this week, especially as he's such a positive person usually. I'm really trying to help him through his grief, I just wish there was more I could do

* An explosive, all-the-way-up-the-back poo from Forrest today. It would almost have been easier to take him outside and hose him down than attempt to tackle it with baby wipes

* Headaches. Three really nasty ones. Fingers crossed they leave me alone this weekend

What have you been up to this week?

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

'I feel the need, the need for tweed ...'*

Now that the weather is turning warmer it's time to reluctantly think about packing away the chunky knit cardis, knitted scarves and waterproof winter coats and start thinking about a less heavy duty wardrobe

Being a tweed-o-phile (new word for you there) one of my first ports of call was tweed jackets at Joules. I'm a long time Joules fan, as evidenced by the photos here and here In fact, I started to mentally rifle through my wardrobe whilst writing this post and was quite stunned at how many Joules clothes I own. Dresses, polo shirts, scarves, coats, gloves, hats, boots, hoodies .... you name it, I have it. With a Joules label on. Sadly, it's mostly from my pre-pregnancy days so it may never see the light of day again (damn you, baby weight!)

My Field Coat is a few years old now and if I were looking to update it, I'd be purchasing this one in Hardy Tweed (1) Warm as well as stylish, I've had tons of wear out of my Field Coat. It's equally at home worn for lunch in town, walking the dogs or on the point to point course and people always ask where I got it from. Luckily it's one of the few items that still fits me!

For warmer days, the Parade jacket (3) would be perfect, perhaps with a brightly coloured silk scarf. I have a gorgeous brown herringbone tweed Joules jacket from a few seasons ago, currently languishing at the back of my wardrobe. I may have to replace it as it's a size 10 and runs away screaming when I open the door these days ...

Finally, I love the smart-casual look of a printed shirt and this one (3) has got it all - a hand drawn print, eye-catching colour and a tailored fit. I think it would look beautiful under a tweed jacket

What's on your Spring wish list?

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A day in one of our favourite spots

Way back in our pre-Forrest, pre-pregnancy days, we used to take off occasionally to the Peak District. We'd get up super early, load the dogs into the camper (ah the camper ... those were the days. Before we had to sell everything to raise money for house-building projects ...) and head for the open road with the radio blaring and the windows open to let in a breeze

We'd forgo sweets on the way in order to enjoy a full English at a little cafe in Hope which is dog and muddy boot friendly, before walking to Castleton for a drink at the pub and a wander round the shops. The walk is along public footpaths alongside a deep stream, so the dogs would pop in and out and splash us every time they ran past, making us laugh with their stile-jumping antics

Sometimes we even camped in Hope, sometimes we took friends. My sister and her fiance came with us when she was six months pregnant and I remember insisting that we shouldn't walk too far because it wasn't good for a lady in her condition but really I was thinking more of my own blistered feet! 

Last week Matt had a much needed day off so we packed up the truck and off we went, to show Forrest one of our family traditions. Of course I forgot my camera (I know - and I call myself a blogger) AND my phone so I had to use Matt's iPhone for the following snaps

We started off at the Woodbine Cafe as usual - it is under new ownership but was no less welcoming, there was even a roaring fire. And a chalkboard menu which included a PINT OF TEA. We felt right at home!

When we'd finished our breakfast I gave Forrest a bottle while Matt ploughed his way through a huge slice of carrot cake and ice cream. At 10.30 in the morning. I didn't know whether to be impressed or disgusted. We popped Forrest in the baby carrier and off we went

It was a really dark, dreary sort of day and was threatening rain but that didn't bother the dogs - they were thrilled to be back in the Peaks. And so were we, we got caught in a bit of rain but hey, we had umbrellas!

Remember I mentioned the dogs' stile-jumping antics? This is what I meant ...

There are loads of stiles on this walk so we get to see this a lot! I also like the dry stone walls in this area, they're like huge jigsaws. Wouldn't this make a fab screensaver?

Muddy boots - proof of a good walk. I *may* have got stuck in the mud. And Matt *may* have had a near miss in a slippery patch!

We dried off the dogs and popped them back in the truck so we could head home. think they'd have liked to stay a little longer

We stopped in Hathersage to refuel at a pub with fantastic views. Matt made a friend ...

... and immediately regretted it when he saw the menu

Forrest had his usual - a nice warm bottle of milk, followed by lots of cuddles. And a little flirt with the bar staff. He seemed to enjoy it!

It ended up being a bit of a food marathon. Not only did we have a cooked breakfast (and pudding for one) but we had a cooked meal at the pub on the way home. And pudding (for two) So much for losing my baby weight!

We drove home tired and happy. It was great to spend some quality time together, to give our neglected dogs a happy day and introduce Forrest to one of our little traditions

I'm already looking forward to our next visit!

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