Tuesday, 31 December 2013


In the blogging world, some events simply cannot pass without a post being written about it. 

The new year is one such event. Whether it's a round up of the year just past or list of resolutions, it just has to be done. For myself, I've done both a round up and a list of resolutions. I'm not even sorry!

Pip is introduced to her first snow.

I return to work, Pip starts nursery and almost immediately catches the toddler plague.

I start my business and Pip turns one.

I struggle to find a parenting/working balance as any sewing can only be done while Pip is asleep. Many things are tried with varying levels of success.. I even had to re-home the chickens, I really miss those girls.

I spend a good deal of this month 'simplfying' in an attempt to reduce my stress levels and regain some the aforementioned parenting/working balance. It helps.

My BFF visits from the Netherlands and I try to convince her to never leave me again. The bitch totally leaves anyway. Next time I'll lock her in the spare room.

Ice creams, paddling pools, Pimms and just generally trying to stay cool. If summer was a month it would've been July.

Went to Wales, almost didn't come back.

September was a quiet one and was spent mainly working.

Got all autumnal with a trip with to Westonbirt Arboretum and for reasons I still don't really understand, I take up running.

After much planning and getting excited about the build up to Christmas, Pip came down with the lurg. Again. Followed swiftly by Dan.

By December we were all plague ridden once more. A trip to Wales to see my family had to be cut short and I spent most of my time dosed up to the eyeballs. Luckily by Christmas all was well again and I intend to keep it that way for as long as possible. 

2013 was definitely a year of lessons for me. Some trials and many errors! Since opening the shop it's been a constant battle to maintain regular sewing time.
As a parent I've discovered that it takes more than sheer will and caffeine alone to keep up with a toddler. Also (as if anyone needed confirmation) I discovered that looking after a child is almost impossible when sick.
And last, but by no mean least, I learnt that you can't wait for the work to be done before you stop and allow yourself to take a break. The work will never be done.
It's taken me a whole year of ignoring this and having it bite me quite rightly on the arse to learn that particular lesson.

And so I'll end this post on something that may cause many of you to roll your eyes. Sorry, but I like resolutions. If you don't I suggest you stop reading.

2014 Resolutions

1. Try and find more time to sew
This one really will be a challenge. As if it wasn't hard enough in 2013, 2014 will be even harder as it appears that Pip is starting to drop her daytime naps. As Gary Barlow would say, "absolutely faaantaastic".

2. Live a little more healthily
Try and keep up with the running, likewise try and eat three proper meals a day instead of grazing on crap, cut down on the caffeine, milk and anything else that leaves me feeling a bit rubbish.

3. Take a break. Give myself a treat. Relax!
This one is the most important. The efforts don't have to be huge or the treats extravagant. A hot bubble bath at the end of the day, a cup of tea by myself in the garden or just choosing to paint my nails instead of doing the washing up. Just a little something, just a little bit more often.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Will this be the last post in which I mention illness in 2013?

When I hit publish on my last post, I must admit I felt a little guilty. Not as a mum, (for once), but as a business owner. Instead of working hard promoting, selling and posting out my wares, I took the selfishly lazy route and played hooky instead. I told myself that I would make up for it next year and that I deserved it as we've both had a tough couple of months. I felt I deserved a well earned rest and what better time to do it than December, when I could enjoy the festive run up to Christmas with my family and eat my weight in cheese.


However, shutting the shop early turned out to be a blessing in disguise. If I hadn't done it when I posted my last update, I would've been forced to less than a week later due to a rather nasty cold which soon turned into a very nasty sinus infection.
December, if I'm honest, has been a bit of a wash out. 

We did end up having a really lovely Christmas though. I finally got shot of the infection after two rounds of antibiotics, just days before Christmas and by that time, simply feeling healthy again was all the gift I needed. 
We spent it with family, I'd lost a little bit of weight over the previous few weeks, but thanks to various Christmas cheeses, managed to find them all again (and a few more to boot) in no time at all.

So while I felt guilty at first for not working over Christmas, it turns out that I didn't have a choice anyway.

Thankfully as it stands, we are all (once again), lurg free. I realise I may have just jinxed this, but I'm standing by it nonetheless. Dan's fine, I'm fine, the wee one is fine. All is fine. We are very lucky, the three of us. Our lives may be far from perfect, but we have so much that others don't. Our health being just one of those things. 

And hey, on the bright side I suppose you were saved from the inane Christmas witterings I threatened you all with in my last post. 

Next year then. Just you wait.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Playing Christmas Hooky

I'm pleased to report that so far, this week has been much kinder to us all. Alessi is better now, finally. We've moved on from last week's disappointments and I've been able to relax a great deal.

The reason for that is simply that I've decided to take an early break. This means closing the shop for Christmas a few weeks sooner than planned, but it'll be worth it.

Our illnesses last week reminded me how important it is to spend time with my family. This year has gone crazily fast. Since I opened the business I've been working hard on that and if I'm being honest, I've missed a lot as a result. I don't mind usually as this is what I love doing and it's by choice. But if any of you follow me on Twitter, you may have picked up on my excitement that Christmas is coming, (26 sleeps people!) and I want to do ALL the festive things with my family.

So as I said, I'll be taking a break from the shop until the new year. That's a whole month to annoy you all with my seasonal witterings. And no, I'm not even slightly religious. That's right, I'm one of those kinds of annoying Christmas people.

You might want to stop following me now.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The Week That Wasn't

This week has been horrendous.

I had big plans and had even arranged for some Alessi free time to focus on work. Then we all came down with some kind of stomach virus. And nothing like last winter's offerings either.
This one has floored us.

Poor Alessi has suffered the most and for the longest. She's a tough little boot though and in between the tears, the sleeping and just generally feeling floopy, she has still managed to crack a smile every now and again.
I chuffing love that kid.

Unfortunately, there have been a multitude of other things that went wrong too. Dan got some disappointing news, I had a whopper of a bill land on the doorstep, no work was done obviously despite having a busy week planned and there were a hundred other mini let-downs that just left us feeling a little battered and sorry for ourselves.

And while Dan and I are both well and ready to go again, poor Alessi still isn't 100%.
Last night she ate her first proper meal in six days. She slept pretty well and didn't end up in our bed for the first time this week, but then again today she still seems to have an upset stomach and has gone back to not eating. I could cry.

There was going to be a Christmas giveaway too. A made to measure Belle dress in a gorgeous wine colour. I really wanted to give someone a Christmas treat and was looking forward to announcing it, but unfortunately that idea has had to be shelved. With Alessi still unwell and with no time to do any sewing there's just no way it'll happen.

So that's us at the moment. I just want Alessi well again. Hopefully that will be very soon now. I miss my goofy little monkey bombing around the place, all crazy hair and smiles. Hopefully next week will be better.

*Crosses fingers*

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Introducing Belle!

I know you will have seen this dress only a couple of posts back. That was when I took the first dress I ever made myself that I'd stupidly stained with ink and gave it a bit of a revamp. I was so pleased with the result that I wondered if I should list it in the shop.

After playing around with various ideas, I decided that this dress, the one that's been sitting right under my nose for the past eight months, is exactly what I've been looking for. I've wanted a signature dress for the shop ever since I opened it. The design I started out with is one of my favourites. It's flattering and although it can be a little time consuming to put together, it's one I have a lot of confidence in.

But I wanted something more from a signature dress. A design that was not only my own, but was relatively simple to put together, that left room to play with different looks and one that, to put it simply, just felt right.

Enter Belle.

Aint she a beaut? I am seriously head over heels in love with this dress. It's simplicity. It's fit that is both comfortable and flattering. It's design flexibility meaning that I will never grow bored of it.
Dear Belle, why oh why did it take me this long to find you?!
And today I ordered fabric to make a few of my own too - god I love my job!

This sunflower Belle can be found in both my Etsy and Folksy shops. However if the colour doesn't take your fancy, it's also available in maroon, teal and orange. How about that?

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Finding a balance

We've shifted down a gear or two over at Casa Bliss lately.

Well I have anyway. The little one continues to live at break neck speed and the bearded one is always on a go slow. But after writing this post a couple of weeks ago I decided enough really was enough.

I've taken up running and am surprisingly enjoying it, although my efforts are currently being scuppered by the weather and the clocks having gone back last weekend. Hey, I said I enjoy it, but not so much that I'm willing to go out in the rain and the dark.

I'm also blogging less often and am twittering less too, the latter is a biggy for me. I love Twitter. So much so I have not one, but two accounts. One I consider my personal account where I tweet family gubbins and my personal views. Then there's my business account (TheDressTree) where I talk shop to my heart's content without fear of boring anyone.
However I just want to focus on the business twitterings for the time being. That's not so say that there won't be any family or personal stuff in there - this is me we're talking about and I am a hopeless oversharer.
It's just one of the many changes I'm making to keep life as simple as possible. As simple as it can be with a part time job, full time business and whirling dervish to look run after anyhow.

There have been other things of course, but I won't bore you with the details of every little change I've made. What's important is that *touch wood* my efforts seem to be paying off. I feel a little calmer these days. A little more able to cope and not stretched to breaking point as I did this time last month. Having to say no to people isn't easy. Neither is convincing myself to sit down in the conservatory and soak in the sun while it's out instead of racing upstairs to take photos of something while the light is good. But little by little, inch by inch I'm feeling as though I'm finding my balance again.

I'll reach my goals eventually, it'll just take a little longer to get there. But at least I'll get there in one piece.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Make Do and Mend - the dress revamp

I was going to post this over the weekend, but couldn't face it after coming down another throat infection. I'm starting to feel better and less sorry for myself now. Thanks to everyone who gave me running tips after my last post too. I actually made it out for twenty minutes of running/walking on Sunday evening and to be honest, it nearly killed me, but I surprised myself by enjoying it so will definitely be making a habit of it.

Anyway, back to the making do and the mending. Last time I fixed our bowing clothes rail with an old bit of wood found in the shed. This time around, it was my tunic dress that got the old fixeroo.
This was the first dress I ever made myself. I made it before I studied dressmaking and hadn't got a clue what I was doing. It was one of my favourite summer dresses and I wore it as much as I could get away with. That was, until I went and got printer ink down the front! No matter how hard I tried, no amount of washing and stain remover was going to shift that bad boy.

So I went rooting about in my crafting cupboard and got creative. With a little bit of lace and some black buttons you would never know it had an ink stain down the front!
I also decided to add bell sleeves as an after thought. I didn't want to wait until next summer to wear this again, but it's too cold for a sleeveless dress and I wanted to be warm. I am SO glad I did this. It gives the dress a 70's vibe that it didn't have before and it's once again, become my favourite item of clothing.

I was also wondering if I ought to make something similar for the shop? What do you think? I might add one as a test run and see how popular it is. Either way, I am definitely making myself some more of these!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

My body is a temple. A neglected one, covered in weeds

I've done it again. I've spread myself too thinly and come down with yet another throat infection. It says something when your toddler, who likes to spend her time licking other children's faces, has a better sickness record than you. Usually I just end up feeling tired and run down, but not enough to grind to a halt completely. Right now though I feel flat out sick. Yesterday was the worst, I ached all over. My hands, feet and oddly, scalp just hurt and I felt like crying. So I took my mopey, achy arse home and slept on the sofa.
The aches have gone today, but I woke up with a painful throat and once again berated myself for not having looked after myself a little more.

And therefore, also once again, I am vowing to take better care of myself and this time I bloody mean it. I've come up with a plan and I hope that by publishing it here, I'll be more inclined to stick to it.
Here we go..

Start running..or maybe yoga
I really do want to take up running, but urgh. It rains so much. Yoga however I can do anytime, indoors, in the dry and more importantly, with Pip. So yeah. One of those.

Eat more often
After giving it some thought I've realised that I usually skip at least one meal every day. WHAT?? I knew my diet wasn't great, but I was genuinely shocked when I realised that this week, there's not been one day that I've eaten properly. And I wonder why I have no energy?!

Put down the coffee
It's not big and it's not clever to run on fumes and caffeine alone. Plus lately I've noticed that I can drink coffee all day with no effect until 6pm then BOOM! Wide awake for the best part of the night. Good going Kim. You flaming genius.

Take time out once a week to just relax
Anyone remember the cider and bubble bath I promised myself the last time I spread myself too thinly? It took me a week to treat myself to the cider and I never found the time for that bath. Relaxation will be made more of a priority. No really.

Here's the thing though. I am utterly crap at looking after myself sometimes. And more often than not, relaxation gets pushed to the bottom of my list of priorities..who has the time right? Well we all do, if we make time for it and we should. It's just that we incorrectly believe that it's not as important as the rest of the things on our to do list.
What I want to know is what do YOU do to relax and unwind? Even if it's only for 10 minutes. Do you make time for yourself or like me, do you just tend to forget? Also do any of you run? How did you get into it? Any tips on that would be greatly appreciated.

These may seem like silly questions, but I really want to make these things a life habit, not just some flash in the pan idea that I'll forget about in a few weeks time so I'd be really interested to hear other people's thoughts.

In the meantime, I'm going to be sat over here with a mug of honey and lemon, trying to pretend it's as good as coffee.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Little Projects

I try to limit myself to one non-work related project at a time.

I never manage it. 

I mean, take now for example. I've got three projects on the go. Is it any wonder that I've spent this past week flitting from one project to another without making much progress on any of them. These are the three things I'm working on by the way..

Another Granny Square Blanket
I bloody love making these and something about these dark and wild nights make me feel antsy if I don't get my crochet hook out. I'm well behind on this one though..it's going to be a Christmas present..shuuush.

Tunic Dress
This was the first item of clothing I ever made myself and a few months ago I went and ruined it when I was changing my printer cartridges and got ink down the front. It's in a really awkward spot and I couldn't hide it with a brooch so I've had to get a little bit creative with the cover up. When it's finished I'll be posting some photos so stay tuned. I'm chuffed to bits with it so far.

I've also decided to make some lockets for the shop and they're actually quite lovely (even if I do say so myself) so I've decided to make a couple for myself too. Weeell. What's the point of making dresses and accessories if you can't occasionally snaffle a little something for yourself eh?

Once I've finished the lockets and dress I think I'm going to have to be more strict with myself and just focus on one thing at a time. Any one who knows me in real life will know how hard this is for me though. Anyone else working on some creative projects at the moment? Tell me about 'em!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

An Autumn Garden and a Clear Mind

I love this time of year. I wait for a sunny day, pull my boots on and tidy the outside ready for the colder months. It's hard work, even with my small garden and I absolutely ache at the end of the day, but it feels wonderful.

Last week when I looked out on to my lawn, I kept seeing all the things that needed doing outside. And then I'd start thinking of all the other things that needed doing inside and my thoughts felt muddled and chaotic.
Then on Sunday evening, I sat in my spot in the conservatory, looked out on to the garden I'd spent all weekend getting winter-ready and felt calm again. Not a lot has changed and those other things that need doing, still need doing. But some how, tidying up the space I like to gaze out on to has made the biggest difference to the way I feel.
Right now, sitting on the sofa in the conservatory watching the world go by outside is my new favourite thing to do. Especially when the sun streams in through the windows and shadows dance along the floor. The conservatory has become my sanctuary these days. To that end I also spent a little time tidying it up and making it a little pretty, fairy lights, glass jar lanterns, the lot. Now even if the sun and dancing shadows make way for dark and gloomy skies, I have something to brighten it (and me) up again.

The other reason I love this time of year, apart from being a chance to declutter, is that it's also a chance to look back on the gardening year gone and take stock. To think about what worked, what didn't and what you might do differently next year.
Personally, I've realised that it might be sensible to knock the homegrown thing on the head for a couple of years. Or at least limit it to the odd pot here and there. I'm thinking of setting the veggie patch to seed and turning it  back into lawn. There was far too much toddler chasing done this year for my liking and next year I expect to have even less time to keep her from mud chomping. I might grow a pumpkin or two just because I love them. Oh and strawberries because, well, I don't have much choice there to be honest. This year's strawbs had little strawberry babies and now I have more than I know what to do with! One season on and I have double the amount I started with. So that's next year's Eton Messes sorted then I guess!

So that's been me lately. Considering how reluctant I was to see the end of summer, I'm well and truly loving autumn right now.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Apple & Blackberry Crumble Recipe

I only ever seem to get the urge to bake around this time of year. When the days become shorter, darker and my body starts screaming at me to eat stodgy foods and hide under a blanket. Who am I to argue?
That said, I am no baker. TV chefs annoy the hell out of me. All of them insisting I use ingredients that add to my weekly food bill, will rarely get used again and then trying to palm off their recipes as easy and simple? Oh please. I miss Delia.

When I bake, and admittedly that isn't often, I use the most simple version of the recipe I can get away with. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but when it does it's a thing of beauty. Well actually that's a lie. No one could ever describe my cooking as a thing of beauty, but it does taste good and that's the important thing.

So without further ado, here is my easy peasy recipe for the autumnal staple, apple and blackberry crumble. Enjoy.

You will need:

Plain flour 120g
Margarine 60g
Sugar 60g

Fruit filling
Apples 300g
Blackberries 115g
Margarine 30g
Sugar 30g

STEP 1: Make The Crumble
Put your plain flour, margarine and sugar in a mixing bowl and rub it altogether with your fingers. Then cook it in the oven for 10 minutes. You don't have to do this bit, but it stops the crumble from going all soggy later when you sprinkle it over the fruit filling.

STEP 2: Make The Fruit Filling
Peel and cut your apples in to chunks. Big ones, little ones, s'up to you. Heat the butter and sugar in a saucepan and add the apples. Cook until tender then mix in the blackberries and cook for another couple of minutes.

STEP 3: Cook The Crumble
Pour the fruit filling into an ovenproof dish, sprinkle the crumble on top and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

See? Very basic. Very quick. Very do-able. And it's freezable too so you don't have to worry wasted leftovers. What's not to love?

Oh and as an aside, the blackberries in this recipe were picked with my darling daughter on one of the last hot summer days. I thought it would be a nice mummy/daughter bonding experience. She hated it. She cried. I was hot. She was hot. I got stung by nettles and the whole affair has probably taken five years off my life due to the stress involved. In short: it's ok to buy frozen blackberries.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

New In The Shop

I'm excited as I've added two new items to the shop just in time for autumn! The first is this cobalt blue dress with white polka dots. 

And the other is this burgundy skirt made with crushed velvet.

I'll be taking some more photos of them both as the light hasn't been great lately - a downside of this time of year unfortunately. In fact I'm working on an idea to make a 'photo corner' type thing in the conservatory. It has ALL the light so it makes sense. More on that to come too.

I hope you're all having a good day. And if not, remember. You cannot underestimate the power of a good hot chocolate. 

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Winter List 2013

It's that time of year again..

Learn to play 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' on the ukelele because I still haven't done it yet
Visit Westonbirt Arboretum. I have to do it every year. It's a thing
Make hot cider
And mulled wine
Make more winter foods, soups, stews, crumbles and pies etc
Try and fix the conservatory roof before the worst of the weather sets in
Prune conservatory plants
Tidy shed
Tidy vegetable patch (weed and mulch)
Cut grass one last time
Wash all windows in house
Wash curtains
Insulate front door
Bleed radiators
Add winter stuff to car
Pull out extra blankets from attic and wash
Make a cover for my hot water bottle. No sniggering at the back please
Make some mittens for Alessi
Make a snood for me
Revamp parka coat
Alter tweed coat
Collect a butt load of conkers. Not for spiders this year, but for Alessi to play with.
Summer clothes back in to the attic, winter stuff back down
Fix granny square blanket. I didn't do it last year and it's a mess
Get organised for Christmas early.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Make Do and Mend

I wrote a post just over a month ago detailing why my penny pinching efforts had come to a screeching halt. The washing machine ended up costing us more than we'd been quoted and that minor car repair I mentioned? Let's just say my savings account took a battering and we now own a new (to us) car. I could cry.

So now not only has the penny pinching got to start up again, but I also need to get a damned sight more creative with ways to not spend any money at all. That's why I'm jumping on the make do and mend bandwagon. It's not just about nostalgia, but in this case, necessity too.
Our house is old and there always seems to be something that needs replacing or fixing in it. My clothes are becoming very tatty, but I can't justify buying a whole new wardrobe either. A good old fashioned 'make do and mend' approach is exactly what I need right now.

Recently we were going to buy one of the those clothes tidy things to the tune of £20. Why? The rail we'd fitted into our make-shift closet was bowing in the middle. Rather than have the weight rip it out of the wall, we thought a clothes tidy would be a good investment. Right now though even a cheap one seems like an extravagance.
So instead of forking out more money, I delved about in the shed and pulled out a piece of wood I'd used to make the old chicken run.

Before, our clothes rail looked like this:

And after cutting, sanding and painting the pole, it now looks like this:

Bish, bash, bosh. Job Done. A small and modest start to my new 'making do' habit, but one I'm proud of nonetheless. As I've said, our house is old and my clothes are tatty so there will be plenty more to come I'm sure.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Children's Non-Slip Socks Tutorial

Actually this DIY is so ridiculously simple that it's more of a tip than a tutorial. 
Alessi has to wear non slip socks at nursery and when she first started we found it really hard to find cheap ones. I knew I could make my own, but just never got around to buying the fabric paint needed. Luckily when we went to Wales a few weeks ago, my Mum was having a craft supplies clear out and had some bottles of fabric paint going spare. Needless to say I snaffled them up! Now Alessi has all the non-slip socks she could need.

To make your own you will need 1) socks and 2) fabric paint. That's it. Then get painting! You don't have to be creative, anything will do. As long as there's enough paint on the soles to give the wearer some traction on slippery services. Dots or zig-zags are perfect - and easy.

Et voila! One tip though. Don't let your toddler 'inspect' your work until it's properly dry, (second sock from left). It won't look quite the same. But you knew that

Friday, 13 September 2013

2013 - Year of the toddler

Last year was The Year of the Slug. This year, rather than slugs, it seemed appropriate to give the pest title to none other than my daughter. She got into everything. Everything. It was hard enough to get things started in the first place what with the late appearance of spring, but really it was the first time she'd been able to explore outside properly since she learnt to walk. So explore it she did.

Plants were trampled on, handfuls of soil were grabbed and thrown into the air. Curious fingers picked and pulled at seedlings and even my mini greenhouse seemed like a good climbing frame.
It got to the point where spending even brief periods of time in the garden with Alessi was becoming stressful rather than fun. I knew I didn't want to spend my time running around after her constantly saying no this and no that. Most of all I wanted the garden to be somewhere I could relax and watch her play and explore to her heart's content. So I gave up. I ditched anything high maintenance and left the garden to it's own devices. Sadly, this meant also having to re-home the chickens. They wanted to roam the garden which I used to let them do during the spring and summer months, but I didn't want Alessi playing in and picking up chicken poo either. Luckily at the same time a friend of ours was looking to get herself some chickens so she took them on and I honestly think they were happier for it. Maybe when Alessi is a little older we'll look to get some more,but for the meantime it was the best thing to do. I do miss them though.

Anyway, back to the veggies. Here's what worked (and what didn't) this year plus tips in blue for my own reference, so that I know what to do differently next year..

  • Pumpkins - plant in the sunniest spot, they love it there
  • Strawberries - hanging baskets are a winner, copper tape will keep the more determined slugs and snails at bay. Will need watering twice daily in hot weather though
  • Salad leaves - don't bother with raised beds, they're too much of a lure for a toddler who likes to play with soil. Sow directly into the veggie patch and don't be precious when it comes to spacing seedlings.

  • Courgettes - move to a sunnier spot and don't accidentally plant one in a hanging basket along with the strawberries. *Ahem*
  • Onions - don't bother. Grow garlic instead.
  • Beetroot - don't bother with these either
  • Spring onions - ..or these
  • Sweet peppers - Start growing early, in February and stagger the seed sowing. Treat for spider mite from day one.
  • Sweet Potatoes - Don't bother trying to grow roots by sitting in water. You'll wait for months for a tiny tap root that will eventually give up and die. These things need a long time to grow so ignore what the online advice says and just chit like you would a regular potato. 

  • Anything grown in the conservatory - Treat for spider mite as soon as the first buds appear. Don't ever try bug spray again! Stick with chemical free solutions and keep spritzing. As soon as signs appear on leaves, cut them off straight away and be brutal if need be. They will grow back. 
  • Nettle plant feed - Making plant food with nettles was a great idea. Leaving it in a bucket to 'brew' and then forgetting about it for FOUR months was not. The stuff stinks after six weeks. Four months and the smell will linger for days.

So that's it. The lesson to be learnt here is Hell hath no fury like a curious toddler interrupted during a game of 'chuck the seedlings'. Next year I might just stick with a paddling pool for her and a giant glass of Pimms for me. Lovely.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Gone To The Dogs

This weekend we once again threw a bunch of stuff in the car and drove down the motorway to visit family. This time it was the turn of Dan's folks, most specifically his mum who was celebrating her birthday with a big family get together at the dog tracks.

I've never been before so I wasn't sure what to expect and if I'm honest I'm a little disappointed we didn't see any Del Trotter types in flat caps and sheep skin jackets.
If anything I saw a lot of bright young things who wouldn't have looked out of place in a John Newman video and a bunch of very fast dogs.

I didn't put any actual bets on. I just played along which was just as well really. The first dog I chose (merely because his name was Sparkle Bluebell) came in last. And it didn't get much better after that.
On this particular race, I went with King Lenny. Who lost. Also, I have no idea what 'tricast' means.
I have to confess I don't really get gambling and if it weren't for the chips, cider and friends, I may have been pretty bored after a race or two.

But there were a lot of people there to talk to and the races were fun if you didn't take them too seriously. To the nutter in the corner who screamed bloody murder while everyone else slowly backed away...I'm looking at you.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

It's Wales baby!

Many of you will know already (because I wouldn't shut up about it), that I went home to Wales last week for a long overdue break. We also nipped up to the Lake District for a wedding beforehand so there was a lot of driving involved. By the time we got home I was sick of being stuck in the car, sick of motorways and sick of listening to Baby Jack on loop to keep Alessi entertained. It was all worth it though.

The weather was a nice surprise. The sun shone the entire time so we were able to do so much more than I'd hoped. I even managed to tick off a few things from my Summer Bucket List.

We went for a ride on the Aberystwyth steam train which runs past my Dad's house. It was lovely to see the valley from a different perspective and Alessi absolutely loved it! You know when dogs hang out of car windows? Well that.

 I see you

 See what I mean? Dog out of a car window. :)

We had chips by the sea. Lots of salt and vinegar of course.

 Apart from having to chuck water to scare off all the pigeons, our chippy lunch was uninterrupted and lovely.

I got to play with Alessi on the beach. Dan hates what passes for sand on Aberystwyth beach, but my gravel loving daughter was like a pig in mud. So 'nuh nuh' to you Mr Bliss.

And my mum took a photo of the three of us so we have a family picture now. Too bad I hate it. This is our take on the awkward family portrait.

But we also got to do some unplanned things too. Dad took me up in a very pink helicopter which I had a good laugh at. It was pretty cloudy, but the view was still breathtaking and the freedom of being able to say "let's go over there...oooh what's that? Let's go have a look" was pretty amazing. Dan kept his feet firmly on the ground with Alessi and before I got in the helicopter, asked if it was ok to marry again if I died.

 The higher we went, the flatter everything looked until it all started to resemble a big, green, patchwork quilt.

 Taking a sneaky picture of me and Dad. He was very amused.

On our last day at Dad's we went down to the 'pebble beach' where we spent a happy hour chucking stones in to the river until it got too hot. Alessi absolutely loved it and cried when we had to leave.

A nappy, wellies, some stones and a river makes for a very happy Pip

The whole weekend was well needed. It made me realise what a country girl I am at heart. As soon as we arrive and I'm allowed to wander about again I start to feel less anxious and more 'me'.
Growing up in this place probably hasn't helped my hermit style ways, but at this point in my life I'm past caring about how outgoing I am - or not as the case may be.
And it was so wonderful to see just how much Alessi loved being outside too. She got upset each time she had to stop playing and come back into the house and hated leaving the river.
That's my girl. 

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