Friday, 29 April 2011

Book Review - The Slap - Finished It Friday

Book 1/100 - 100 books to read before I'm 40

`Once in a while a novel comes along that reminds me why I love to read: The Slap is such a book... Honestly, one of the three or four truly great novels of the new millennium.'
--John Boyne
Or maybe not! This book had all the plaudits possible - I should have known not to trust the hype.

The premise of the book is that at a family barbecue an unruly 4 year old is slapped by one of the guests. This action sets of series of events and supposedly tears a family apart.

The story started well enough - I was intrigued who it was that slapped the child. It wasn't who I thought it would be. I hadn't warmed to the initial character and thought if it was him, then I would have no sympathy with him. My problem was that I didn't like any of the characters and there were a lot of them. Even at the end of the book (which is lengthy at nearly 500 pages) there were still new characters being introduced - unnecessarily, I thought. They didn't add anything to the story but then again by about 3/4 of the way through there was no story.

I wasn't sure what the author was trying to do with this book - even the one character that you were made to believe was 'The Nice One' disappointed in the end.

I also struggled with the child - he was meant to be a young 4 year old. I have a 4 year old and even on her misbehaving days, she had outgrown the behaviour of this child by the time she was 18 months old.

I will not be rushing to read any more of Christos Tsiolkas' books - I give this 2 out of 5 stars at best.

This is my entry for this week's Finished Friday project hosted by Cara of Freckles Family. Each week we are encouraged to show and tell what we have completed during the week. I am hoping over the next few weeks to be able to submit more if my 9week old daughter allows!

I am also adding this to my task list of reading 100 books before I am 40 - This is number 1 on the list since I published my tasks - I've got a LOT of work to do!
Freckles Family

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Gallery - Green -Cake

As a rule I have shied away from talking about my cakes on this blog, preferring to keep cakes and family separate. My time on maternity leave though has made me realise how much I love what I do - I am now baking and cooking again and loving it and this week am attempting my first celebration cake for 4 months for my nephew's christening on Sunday.

I have been having a conversation with Kate and Jen on Twitter this morning and discussed bringing the cake to the Casa Costello blog. This doesn't mean that my girls are any less important to me but does feel that I am no longer leading a double life.

The cake pictured is one from a couple of years ago - I loved how the bride had chosen a different colour scheme from the norm and this cake, although simple, remains one of my favourites.

I have also included this picture as my entry for Tara Cain's Gallery this week - The theme is green in honour of the wonderful lush countryside that the UK has at the moment. Please visit the other entries, there are some crackers!

So that's the plan for the blog - more cake...its never a bad thing!

Tara Beatrice - The First 2 Months

How quickly the weeks have flown by - Our tiny girl is now not so tiny (but still very petite!). She is a lovely addition to our family and we are enjoying her so much.

Tara's arrival has had a huge effect on the blog - I want to be able to remember these early days and months with her - I always said I would make sure I enjoyed my time with her and this continues to be the case. I'm really enjoying posting much more frequently while I can and the contact I am having with other bloggers.

Tara must think we are on one constant holiday - so far we have been away in our caravan, which was a huge success and had a trip to Centre Parcs, which was great too. The weekend Tara turned 9 weeks saw us on our second caravan trip to The Lakes - another lovely weekend.

The weather seems to be consistent with my tradition of having a glorious summer when I have babies - April has been sunny and roasting - all good practice for when we go to France in the summer.

Last week saw the dreaded injections - as usual, Dermot came to hold Tara - even after 3 children I am still a wimp! We had the usual sore legs and a little bit grumpy that evening which resulted in Tara's first taste of Calpol - oh how quickly they get to like that taste!

Today is Tara's 6 week check (at 9 weeks and 3 days!) - Looking forward to seeing what she weighs - we have moved onto some 3-6 month clothes this weekend - Tara is long and skinny and I like her to have lots of room. We will NOT be needing to buy any 3-6 months clothes - we could open a shop with her sister's hand-me-downs.

The best bit of the past 2 months is seeing how Millie and Violet are with their new sister - Millie still cannot walk past her without kissing her or talking to her and Tara rewards them both by gurgling and smiling at them - she definitely knows them!

We are still giving Tara Colief drops in her bottles - she is so good that we started to think maybe she didn't need them anymore so reduced the drops - by the next day we realised she does still need them!

Shortly we are going to have to think about moving her out of her Moses basket - she has grown so much. She is no trouble at night though and has been sleeping through til 7am ish for about a week now - how lucky are we? I think we will try to get at least a couple more weeks out of the Moses basket - its lovely having her with us!

The photographs above were taken this weekend (Easter weekend) at Holgates caravan park.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Listography - My Wedding

There's a wedding going on this week, you know? You might have heard a slight rumour - some people called William and Kate. In years to come we will all look back on our blogs and know exactly what we were doing the week of the royal wedding. I have to admit I am looking forward to watching some of it - I doubt I will get to see what the wedding cake is like (even the rumoured McVities wedding cake) but we will see her dress over and over again.

To keep the wedding theme going, Kate from KateTakes5 has dedicated this week's Listography to 5 things I would change about my wedding.

I thought this was going to be an impossible one for me as I have always spluttered about how I wouldn't change a thing about my (our) wedding but when I dug deep I have found some. So here goes...

1. I would make my own wedding cake - you saw that coming didn't you? Our wedding cake was made by my Auntie and was fab. I didn't start making celebration cakes until we had been married for 6 months. I understand now though how disappointed she was that we didn't choose something wacky while we had the chance.

2. I wouldn't dye my hair the week before - This was not the best time to discover I am seriously allergic to hair dye - Picture the scene...swollen head, face and neck, lots of antibiotics and the threat of steroids that would make me put on weight when I had dieted for a year to fit in my wedding dress. Not to be recommended!

3. I would make sure I ate some of the evening buffet! I am still thinking about that nearly 11 years on.

4. I would get married sooner - Aw! Having said that, my husband was only 22 when we got married - any earlier and he would have been wearing his school uniform!

5. We wouldn't have gone to Acapulco for our honeymoon - we didn't have the most successful honeymoon. I was jet-lagged for the first week and Derm got food poisoning for the entire second week. Therefore the reason that we go no further than France on our holidays now.

There are things that we did though that I would definitely recommend. So here is a list of 5 things to make sure you do at your wedding...

1. When people talk about their weddings, they always say how fast it went and that there was loads of things they don't remember - I have one friend who has no recollection of her entire evening do! I made sure from the start of the day that I took in every tiny detail and it worked, I remember it all - I was knackered by the end of the day but it was fab!

2. I really appreciated the time spent alone with my Dad just before we left for church - we chatted and were very relaxed. The car journey was lovely too. We lost Dad 2 years ago this week and those memories are so special.

3. We got married at 12pm - We wanted to fill the day as much as poss and we did! I didn't want to 'waste' most of the day getting ready - I wanted to be married for most of it!

4. We got married on a Friday - it saves a blinkin fortune!

5. We did loads of crafty bits ourselves - it took ages but we planned well in advance and we had loads of quirky personal elements at our wedding.

What would you recommend for the ideal wedding? What would you change about yours - hopefully not your choice of husband! Join in by visiting Kate's blog

Thursday, 21 April 2011

When your ears bleed - Reasons to be cheerful

HI Everyone,

How these weeks are flying by - I so look forward to Reasons to be cheerful day. What a chance to look back at the past 7 days and think how lucky I am.

Reason to be Cheerful 1: Yet another trip
By the time this is posted I will be away yet again in our van - we had this trip booked before Tara was born so we are only an hour away (burglars don't even bother -the house has got cover!) We have been to this site many times before so are expecting a thoroughly relaxing weekend.

Reason to be Cheerful 2: Sleep
I don't want to speak too soon but Baby T has slept through the night for the past 3 nights!!! (that deserves 3 exclamation marks, right?) She had her injections on Monday, which wasn't too nice and could be the reason for the sleep but I'm not complaining.

Reason to be Cheerful 3: The Violin
My eldest daughter is lucky enough to get free violin lesson in year 4 & 5 funded through the Schools Music Service. She already plays the flute so we haven't really given her much attention for the violin, knowing the service could be withdrawn at any time. In fact, I have been known to ask her not to practice the violin saying it makes your ears bleed (Ok, I know I'll never win Mother of the Year!). It seems thought that she has been doing rather well, quietly (can you be quiet with a violin?) - She is 1 of 2 in her class to be chosen to join a string group organised by the council and it absolutely delighted. I suppose I'd better let her practice now!

That's it for now - I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend and look forward to reading everyone's Reasons to be Cheerful when I return (I managed to comment on everyone's last week which was an absolute pleasure as there are some lovely cheerful people out there!)

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Gallery - All 3!

Here's how it goes...
You want to record your comings & goings.
You start a blog.
You take more pictures.
You buy a posh camera.
Your husband starts taking pictures of fruit.

...and now I'm taking pictures of people taking pictures of fruit!

I have 2 more blogs... My cakey/foodie blog aims to tell the story behind my cake orders. They are not always my best cakes or best photos but have the best stories - This was for a couple ruled by their 4 dogs. They are both gaming mad (the groom is holding an x-box controller) and play poker every week.

Aardvark Cakes

This is my newest blog but still very special as I tracking our progress as we turn from a family of 4 into a party of 5 on our caravan travels - We are having great fun so far. This is what we look like when we are set up!

Five Go Caravanning

This is a post for this week's Gallery - visit the other posts to see what other people's blogs mean to them

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Q & A

I have been tagged by Penny from AResidence in answering the following questions. I believe the original MeMe was started by Kerry Jean Lister and has got thousands (well, maybe I exaggerate slightly) of bloggers involved.

According to the Guardian (which is where the original interviews that this meme is based on come from) the results put you into 1 of 3 categories - just a note! I pay my way at the bar!!

a. ‘KNOB’ b. ‘nice person’ c. ‘I’d go for a pint with youers’ (yours?)

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Anyone that can get rid of creepy crawlies.

When were you happiest?
Can't choose just once - Wedding Day, Birth of my 3 children and the day my Dad got his MBE.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
When I told the milkman, my Mum wasn't in and she was stood behind me - I was 23 at the time.

Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
That 23 foot white tin box that sits on my drive that we tow behind the car and sleep in when we've got a perfectly good 5 bedroom house! But I love it!

What is your most treasured possession?
Wedding ring and my Dad's wedding ring - I love wedding rings!

Where would you like to live?
Galway, West Coast of Ireland.

What’s your favourite smell?
Burning Wood. And Jo Malone, Orange Blossom.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Julia Roberts - I'm sure she'll be ringing me later to arrange.

What is your favourite book?
Anne of Green Gables or Erich Segal, Doctors (no-one has ever heard of it!)

What is your most unappealing habit?
Picking my baby's nose - we all do it right?

What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
It used to be Wonder Woman but now I'm really not sure (Jane, you have put me off!) - Perhaps a Rubiks Cube - I like to stand out.

What is your earliest memory?
Moving house, going calling on a neighbour's house asking to play out with her son. Turned out the son was actually a labrador - he was never that good at playing off ground tick!

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Doing nothing - I don't get to do it enough.

What do you owe your parents?
Probably a whole lot of apologies for those teenage years.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Again, probably my parents for those teenage years and my children for not playing with them often enough.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My husband - Aw!

What does love feel like?
A really cozy blanket that you want everyone to experience.

What was the best kiss of your life?
The one at the altar as we proclaimed married and the one I gave each of my 3 girls as they were born.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Oh my god and Bloody Hell. You know when your daughters say it that its your fault!

What is the worst job you’ve done?
Assistant Manager at McDonalds - be nice to those people, they've probably got really sore legs, been working all hours and have had some chav giving them lip about waiting more than 30 seconds for a burger "with none of that shit on".

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I probably would have started blogging earlier.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
The day at the end of term when the school reports were handed out. Still feel terror in my belly!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My business, Aardvark Cakes - I still can't believe I do that for a living.

When did you last cry, and why?
I cry all the time - any TV programme - I know I was watching DIY SOS last night so I can pretty much guarantee it was then.

How do you relax?
Caravanning, having a brew and a read with a cake - I'm easily pleased.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
More time with my husband and more parties!

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Don't be grumpy and fill every day as much as I can - and I do. And take more photos - I know I've used this one before.

I am tagging Cara at FrecklesFamily, Marion at ToddlerinTow, Beth at PlasticRosaries, Stella at MsMac - Please join in if you like.

Tracks of my years - Billy Joel - Piano Man

I've been wanting to include music on my blog for a long time as music is a massive part of my life - both listening and playing the flute and piano. When I saw Jen's blog hop from Mum in the Madhouse, I knew I wanted to join in. I've got tons of songs that mean something to me but this is one that keeps popping up throughout the years.

I first started being a Billy Joel fan in my early teens but was very conscious that it wasn't that trendy to be a Billy fan so kept it hidden under my obsession for the Goss brothers (to be fair Matt & Luke looked a lot better on my bedroom wall!)

I have played the piano since I was seven and wanted to play like Billy (a bit more practice would have probably helped!) - In my mid teens I went to see my first concert with friends and it was Billy. It was a fabulous weekend and the highlight was him singing Piano Man. Sadly, one of my best friends who was with us on the trip passed away last year so this song reminds me of him too.

When, we had our first daughter we had the mad notion when she was 7 weeks to take a trip to Galway, Ireland. We stayed in the fabulous Radisson where they had a piano man twice a week (you can see where this is going?) We have been several times since and every time his finale is Billy's Piano Man with everyone joining in - normally after quite a few drinkies!

When we had daughter number 2, our first trip out alone as a couple again was to see Billy in Manchester - it was a really romantic night out and is said to be possibly Billy's last concert in the UK.

I'm sure this song will crop up time & time again throughout my life - daughter number 3 has happily listened along to it today and I for one will never look at my watch at 9 o'clock on a Saturday without thinking of this tune!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Listography - 5 things people will say about me at my funeral


Week 2 of Listography for me and one that is slightly harder than last week - 5 things that I would like people to say about me at my funeral. I cannot decide whether these are serious or not but these are the first things that sprung to mind...

1. 'I told you she was ill'

2. 'I've never seen so many people at a funeral, she must have been a celeb.'

3. 'What a slim coffin' ... a person can always dream!

4. 'She was the best cake maker ever'

5. 'She organised the world's best wake before she went'

God knows where Kate gets her ideas from for these Lists but they are great fun - why not join in?

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Reasons to be Cheerful

A bit late with this post for this week but no less cheerful. I will be making a special effort to get round the other Reasons to be Cheerful posts as the lovely Mich from Mummy From The Heart is on a well deserved break.

Reason To Be Cheerful 1: The return from holiday

We have just arrived back from yet another break away, this time to Center Parcs in the Lake District. Yes, I know I'm like the Judith Chalmers of the blogging world! We had a really fabulous week, one of the best visits we have ever had to CP ... and we've been lots! The week went very quickly and the kids were a treat. Baby T slept so well and even had a dip in the pool (this was really to keep her sisters happy). Having said all this though, there is nothing like the feeling of getting home to your own house (which is normally tidy when we go away - tidying up for the burglars?) I love my home and am very lucky to live where I do. When you first arrive home you don't tend to see all the messy bits or bits that bug you before you went...and before you unpack the suitcases!

Reason To Be Cheerful 2: Friends

We were very pleased to be joined on this trip away by the lovely Cara from Freckles Family - our children are like brothers and sisters (well, maybe they don't argue quite as much but you get what I mean). It is a really easy relationship and Cara and I have been friends for 20 years this year - amazingly, this is the first time in that time we have been away together - all good practice for Cybermummy! The photo above is of my 2 eldest children (the 2 on the outside) and Cara's youngest 2 - I love how smiley they are.

Reason To Be Cheerful 3: I'm an Iron Maiden

I was delighted to receive a message from Mich this week informing me that I have won an iron in her recent blog competition - I know everyone always says it but I really never win anything - It is even more welcome as my iron is on the blink and there is LOTS of holiday ironing to be completed. People who know me well know I love a good iron and iron EVERYTHING - yes, even pyjamas, baby vests and bedding - don't shout at me!

Bit of a recap from last week: We went to see The Wizard of Oz in Liverpool - I'm still trying to make my mind up about it really. There were some bits that were really good like the singing and dance sketches. I did struggle to make out the words in the first half though as the sound quality was poor so this spoiled it a bit. Sarah-Jane Honeywell was good as was Bobby Davro but his jokes and impressions were a little dated - I will take a little more time to make my mind up on this one. Its coming on tour soon though so you could make your own mind up.

Thats it for this week - looking forward to catching up with the rest of the Reasons to be cheerful gang tomorrow.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy with a Heart

I am also joining in this week with Maxabella Loves's Blog Hop - Grateful For - looking forward to joining up with some Australian bloggers to see what is making their week that little bit more chirpy.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Gallery - Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Baby T will be having her first swim!

Post Edit: Since I first posted this (but couldn't publish it because I was in the deep dark depths of the Lake District) Baby T has had her first swim. She absolutely loved it - I wouldn't say she's ready for her 100m badge yet but she definitely seems as comfortable in the water as her sisters.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Listography - Laminated List


I cannot bring myself to use words for most of these as I am 37 and surely should be past this list by now! Needless to say some of these would seriously not have to speak!

For the reason for this post read here - Her laminated list is sooo much cooler than mine!


Thursday, 7 April 2011

There are so many Reasons to be Cheerful

Week 3 of joining in Michelle from Mummy From The Heart's blog hop and I'm loving it. However small, when something nice happens during the week I automatically think, there's a reason to be cheerful. Try it, you might like it!

Reasons To Be Cheerful 1: A bit of a recap

We did it - we went on our first caravan trip as a family of 5 and it was a huge success. I wrote about it here.

Reason to be Cheerful 2: Half Term & Time with the children

I decided to embrace the time off with my children rather than thinking, 'Oh my god, how am I going to keep the 2 older girls entertained and look after Baby T' - so far so good!
We had a spur of the moment trip to see my sister in Leeds yesterday which felt rather brave as we live 50 miles away but it was great. The girls love seeing their cousins and we arrived back home at 11pm after a lovely afternoon (and a good feed!)
My MIL looked after Baby T this afternoon while I took M & V to the cinema to watch Hop - They loved it and once I had stopped thinking about payng a small fortune for popcorn and sweets, I loved it too.
Tomorrow, we are off to a soft play area with some friends that we met at V's nursery.
M has had some good news tonight and is very pleased to be moving up a lane at swimming club - she has worked hard this month and we are really pleased it has paid off for her.

Reason to be Cheerful 3: The Theatre again!

Ooh we are turning into luvvies! We don't visit the theatre for months and then twice in a fortnight - On Saturday we are going to see The Wizard of Oz at the Royal Court in Liverpool - This is V's favourite and I can't wait to see her face.

Reason to be Cheerful 4: The Blanket

We received a wonderful present of a knitted blanket for Baby T from my wonderful friend, Cara. Pics with Baby T to follow but needless to say it is absolutely gorgeous, must have taken forever to knit and we are very lucky. Here is the blanket without the recipient.

Reason to be Cheerful 5: Another Holiday

Yes, we are going away again - My husband could only have 2 days away from work when Tara arrived so we planned for a holiday at Centre Parcs. We are very excited!

Reason to be Cheerful 6: The Countdown to 40

Now I have published this list, I have an renewed enthusiasm for getting things done.
Progress so far includes:
Doing very well at drinking G & T's - To be fair this isn't the hardest item on my list but you need to start smal! I now like the taste and feel rather grown up!
Gardening - Time willing, I intend on planting some lily bulbs in the next 2 weeks. We have had an acknowledgement from the allotments saying they have received our application and expect we will get a plot within the next 2 years!
The Reading Challenge - Our weekend away helped me to find my reading mojo - I am now reading The Slap and quite enjoying it - My To-read list is growing - Any book suggestions are very welcome!

For the rest of the countdown to 40 list click here.

A long post, I know - It will probably be very short next week but I hope you all have a good week and look forward to reading your reasons to be cheerful.