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My kitchen

My kitchen

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

New Toybox!

One final thing!
Elliot's Christmas present arrived today...a little late, but well worth it.
We've been looking for a toybox for ages and discovered this one at 'Vertbaudet'.. (in the sale now at only £10.50!)
Am very pleased with it, and thought I would share it with you!

Christmas catch up!

We've had a busy, but lovely few days celebrating Christmas with parents, brothers and sisters, cousin and in-laws. Its wonderful having a house full of people, but also exhausting and so far the last couple of days we've been chilling at home and trying to catch up on the washing, restocking the fridge etc! Yesterday we had planned an 'open house', to catch up with friends, but cancelled a few days before because of the weather. Actually when it came to it, we probably could have gone ahead with it,as the snow has at last melted away.

My Auntie, a New Zealander, sent some beautiful Paua shell tree decorations as a Xmas present, and so I've included some photos of them on a branch my mum decorated. I just love the colours of the paua shell (hope I've spelt that right). My husband and I are off to London tomorrrow for a night away. My Xmas present to him was tickets to see Bill Bailey, and so we've got a night on our own (leaving the children with my parents).
Anyway, enjoy the last few days of 2010 and may I wish you all a Happy New Year ! x

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


A good friend of mine, who has a fantastic blog (The Seventy Tree), blogged about 'Seven' this morning.
The idea is that you reveal 7 new and interesting facts about yourself and then forward your post...also sharing your seven favourite blogs.
So here goes!

1) I have a fear of flying and once hired a car from Scotland and drove home, because I wouldn't get back on the plane.
2)My great, great, great, great, great Grandfather, was apparently King Edward VII (down an illigitmate line!)
3) I would love to live in New Zealand one day or have a house in France.
4) My favourite season is the summer.
5) I am a bit obsessed with cleaning and like to have a tidy house!
6) I play the flute and piano
7) My closest friends are men!

My seven blogs! The Seventy Tree, French Essence, Little Bear Studio, Fabulously French, All things French, Small Acorns My French Country home

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Snowed in...

The snow this year has been beautiful, but I've had enough of it!!
Living in the countryside has its downside and this morning I am pondering whether to get in the car and risk a drive to the supermarket. Once I reach the main road I know it will be clear, but its negotiating the ice in the lane that is the tricky bit. Only a few days to Christmas, and I haven't finished my Xmas shopping, am running out of food and we are also very low on heating oil! This morning we allowed the central heating to come on for just an hour or so (just to warm the house through), but already at 10am the house is cold and I am wrapped up in jumpers and snuggled next to a portable electric heater. I have already warned the relatives coming for Christmas that they need to bring their thermals! Yesterday we blocked up the fire place (it seems to suck any heat up the chimmney) and put a curtain over the inside of the front door. Its made a little difference.
Anyway, wherever you are this Christmas I hope its a warm and cosy one. Vicki (from French Essence) commented that there are many people struggling to travel and get home to loved ones for Christmas) and so despite the snow, I feel fortunate that I'm with my family already.
Happy Christmas from Devon x

Friday, 10 December 2010

Getting there slowly

My little one is teething and feeling very sorry for himself. He was up half the night and I'm feeling slightly worse for wear too. Still in between his cat naps today I've started to put up a few decorations. The tree is yet to come, (next weekends project!) when I'm hoping little Elliot will be feeling a little happier and will enjoy lights and tinsel. Happy decorating!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

First snow in the kitchen garden

For days now, most of the Uk has been covered in a white blanket. But not us. We have just had cold, grey and miserable weather. But today I opened my curtains to the first snow of Winter...only about 2cms (if that!), but enough to get my daughter excited and my husband panicing about whether the trains would be running.
At 7am my daughter was running around the garden making footprints and I was busy in the kitchen listening to the local radio station. I don't often listen to the radio, but the local station becomes the hub for snow news, announcing school closures and transport problems.
To my daughters disappointment, her school wasn't on the 'closed' list. The school bus however didn't turn up and my husbands train was late. Its funny how unprepared we are in the Uk for snow. In parts of the world it takes metres of snow to cause chaos and yet here....a cm or two.
I went out and took a few photos this morning of our house and garden in the snow. We live in a victorian cottage (built in 1893) with a large walled garden, that was originally the gardeners cottage to a local manor house. The garden orignally would have been a kitchen garden, full of fruit and vegetables. We still have some fruit trees and grow some vegetables, but the garden now is mostly lawned with shrubs and trees.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

My mums Advent tree

Every year my mum makes an Advent tree for my daughter. Like an Advent calendar, you have a little surprise to open on each day in December. My mum decorates a branch with baubles and hangs chocolate coins on, one for each day until Christmas. It has become a real favourite in our family and this year she made for a young friend of ours. I know what kind of Advent calendar I'd prefer!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Reflections on grief

My heart goes out to the New Zealanders who today have lost loved ones in the greymouth mine. After the heart warming end to the Chilean disaster, I think everyone had hoped for a similar happy ending, but sadly this appears not to be the case.
The sad news from New Zealand about the lost miners has taken me back 11 years to the Russian submarine disaster in the Barents sea. On August 12th 2000, 118 men died after explosions onboard the vessel. I had a Ukrainian boyfriend at the time and my links with Eastern Europe at the time, brought the disaster closer to me.

I was in France at the time of the tragedy, staying in a small village called Taize, which is in Southern Burgundy. Taize is the home of a community of monks and it has become a place of pilgrimage, attracting over 5000 young people every week in the summer months. I have visited the village several times, camping out for a week at a time. Young people are put into groups, from different nations and together you meet everyday, talk, share discussions, pray and help with the running of the village.
I don't consider myself religious. I don't particularly have a faith...and would probably say that I am 'agnostic' in my beliefs. I believe there might be something there...but am also swayed by science.
My thoughts have turned to Taize again this morning as I was in the large church there when I heard the terrible news about the Kursk. If there is a God, he was there that day with me, ... with the candles and the music and the many people from all across the world sitting and praying together. It was comforting for me at the time and I hope that wherever the New Zealand families are today, I hope that they feel some comfort in that people from across the world will be thinking of them in their grief.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Friday flowers

Its miserable here today :-( Gales, wet, windy....just yuck! I was a summer baby and I love the sun, and hate the cold.
Thought I would post a summery photo today. Wish i could transport myself to Southern France, where I would like to stroll along cobbled streets, past coloured shuttered windows, and laden window boxes filled with geraniums. This picture I actually took in Northern Spain, but you get where I'm coming from! Have a lovely weekend x

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Boats, boas and a bit of blogging

Its a staying indoors day! Its grey, wet and windy and I'm missing the sun. Still I thought I would catch up on a bit of blogging...I haven't blogged in over a week and have missed it.
Its been a busy few days and I'm starting to wonder when I ever had the time to go to work! Am very much enjoying my maternity leave but I think come May (when I'm due to go back), I'll be ready.
The past weekend was busy - the highlight being my sisters birthday. On Sat night she held a murder mystery night which was great fun...I was Lady Diamante and dressed for the occasion in a black 1920's dress with feather boa. We had 1920's music playing in the background on an old gramophone and the table was set to capture the scene on board a ship travelling from Southampton to NY. I seemed to loose track of the plot, in between feeding Elliot and producing the lasagnes, but was relieved to hear by the end that I wasn't the murderer.
We will have another big family celebration in February as my brother has just announced his engagement to the lovely Clare. Its very exciting and I now have another excuse to go and buy another dress!
Well I must get on. Housework calls and at some point I need to start thinking about Christmas. Where does the time go?!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Beaucoup de jolies choses!

Am getting into this blogging business! Suddenly finding myself checking out my 'dashboard' in addition to the regular facebook and email accounts. Am loving discovering new lovely things and am rekindling my love of all things French. Have even booked a holiday to Southern Brittany for next August!
I discovered a great blog yesterday - 'Secret garden cottage' - so many images and pretty things. You can find the link in my blog list.
The only disadvantage to all this, is that I suddenly want to go shopping! Mmmnn, not good when trying to survive on maternity pay! x

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Happy Halloween!

We've had a busy, but lovely few days, catching up with friends and family. Jess enjoyed a halloween sleepover with friends and Stephen and I got all creative, making props for their halloween pass the parcel. Its amazing what a peeled tomato can do when placed in a 'chamber of horrors' themed shoe box! We also got through a weeks worth or toilet roll, playing wrap the mummy!
The picture is of our fire place - we have some wonderful autumnal shrubs in the garden and so I've been practicing my flower arranging skills! (practice still needed I think!)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Bears on a chair

I have in the past collected teddy bears and decided this week to unearth some of my bears. A few of them are now sat happily on a small antique chair in my living room. Am inspired by a friend of mine, Kerry, who has created some beautiful prints of bears and I have to buy one to go in my little boys bedroom. Check out the seventy tree in my blog list and also Draffin bears for lots of lovely things!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Up the garden path

Its been a wonderful autumnal weekend here in Devon. My in-laws visited yesterday and we went for a short walk around the lanes. My Mother in law took a real delight in pushing the buggy, whilst my father in law, enjoyed the hedgerows - excitedly pointing out the sloe berries, and holly trees laden with fruit.
We enjoyed a lovely sunday lunch cooked by mum and devoured the apple crumble made from the gardens apples. What Sundays should be all about!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

To ipod or not?

I am a techno phobe! I don't keep updated with the latest technology and am suddenly becoming aware that the world is overtaking me! (My 13 year old daughter will vouch for this!)
This afternoon I went to Honiton, our local town. Its famous for its antique shops but as I have discovered they are impossible to navigate with a pushchair! So much for the disability and discrimination act!
Anyway, I decided not to waste the trip and went to purchase the latest Aha music album ( I won't go on about how excited I am going to see them in concert next month!). Into WHsmiths to search for the music section....but no. There is no music section, and to my dismay, there is nowhere in Honiton that sells music. (Tesco's do apparently, but that would be another journey and with a 6 week old due for a feed, not on my list of options).

The realisation that music is now more easily accessible online has hit home. Is it now time for this thirty something to brave the world of ipods?! I like physically having a CD, and physically looking at a photo in an album. I'm not sure I am ready for ipods, ipads or i-phones?! Both my husband and daughter have husband has over 5000 tracks on his?! and maybe now is the time for me to join them and keep up with the world before I get left behind? Any thoughts?!
And don't get me on to my mobile phone! I have only just moved on from my 'brick'!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Baby blue pretty things

The birth of our little Elliot has also bought lots of lovely pressies! I'm still in the process of writing thankyou notes and must say a huge thankyou to my friend Sarah, who made Elliot this gorgeous slate heart decoration. I think she cut the slate herself. I love it! My daughter also bought a heart to go on Elliots wall, again very simple, but fits in perfectly with Elliots powder blue room.
The lavender came from out of our garden yesterday. Am still deciding whether the scent reminds me of France...or of old ladies! The jug- 'Beer Jug' comes from Beer in East Devon and was given to me by work colleagues when I finished working in the village. Made by Paul and Linda Wilson, it came from the marine house in Beer ( Its one of my favourites.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Our DIY wedding!

I recently recieved some new wedding photos. Thought I would share some as I was very proud of what we achieved (and on a tight budget!) The dress was by designer Ronald Joyce, but bought it on Ebay for 1/10th of the price that shops would retail it at! My mum made the cake and we just decorated it simply with white icing and fresh flowers.
We had our reception in the garden at home. We managed to buy a marquee (much cheaper than hiring!) and furnished it with clusters of hay bales, saving the cost of hiring tables and chairs. For each group of bales we added a picnic basket, which included the wine, glasses, napkins, a few nibbles (e.g breadsticks) and a few pressies for the children to keep them amused.
More pictures in earlier 2009 posts!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Finding myself

Life with a minute my day is filled and hectic and yet a few hours later, it is quiet and empty. Little Elliot is asleep and I am pondering the months ahead. I can see how important it is to keep busy whilst on maternity leave and more importantly to get out and be stimulated by adult conversation!
I also see this time as an opportunity to fulfil some of the many things that I have on my 'List of things to do before I die'. I have a sudden desire to be creative and long to walk along a beach, collect sea glass and then transform it into something amazing. I also want to write my book. I have the story and have even scribbled a few chapters. And run. I want to run a half marathon and attempt an epic walk. Maybe I should get out the pushchair and start paving the lanes of East Devon!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Out with the sugar!

Elliot is now nearly a month old and slowly I am beginning to feel normal again. The last week has been really tough and my hormones have been going berzerk. Tears have flowed and I have felt very low, wishing for my old life back and what I see as normality. Its strange, but even the house has felt different and unfamiliar. The rooms have been taken up with blankets, pushchairs and sterilisers and I am not used to seeing my house from the small hours of the night. September is spider month...and they're an awful lot of large spiders that scurry across the floor in the middle of the night!

Yesterday I felt was a turning point and I went out with my sister for lunch. Other than nipping to the shops for nappies or infacol, this was my first real day out and it was lovely to see that normality can resume, even with a little man in tow. We enjoyed lunch at Double locks and sat beside the canal, Elliots first 'alfresco' meal.

I have also been watching my diet very carefully in the last week to try and balance out my hormones. I read a fascinating book a few years ago by Patrick Holford, about the links between diet, hormones and blood sugar levels. Prior to becoming pregnant I ate very little carbs and watched the sugar content in everything I ate (even choosing low sugar fruits over those high in sugars and drinking decaffinated drinks). I was surprised to read that 10 raisins has the same sugar content as a whole punnet of strawberries.

My moods completely changed, I had more energy, I lost weight and I rarely felt low.

Once pregnant however, I suddenly discovered I craved sugar and could eat what I wanted! Jacket potatoes, digestive biscuits and ice cream were my particular favourites!..and my moods felt balanced.

After giving birth I continued to eat these tasty treats, but it was very evident in the last few weeks that I've started to feel low again. Hormones have been all over the place and so about a week ago, I decided to get back on to my low carb/ low sugar routine. No wine, small amounts of carbs, ..and I try to divide my plate into four ( 1/4 protein, 1/4 carbs, 1/2 vegetables),

Yesterday my mood changed and this morning I'm appreciating the sunshine. I haven't shed a tear for 48 hours now and I'm looking forward to the week ahead. I find it amazing how influential my diet impacts on how I feel, but it really has made a difference.

Research now suggests that it is sugar, not fat, that is the cause of obesity and the increasing levels of diabetes in our western society ..and I truely believe this is the case.

My top 10 fav foods for maintaining balanced hormones and blood sugar levels!

  • Humus (protein)

  • Seeded wholegrain bread ( nutty / brown) - Lower carbs

  • New potatoes (far less carbs than roast or jackets as they are dug up sooner)

  • Wholegrain brown rice / wholewheat pasta

  • Berries ( strawberries, raspberries, blueberries etc!)

  • Meat / fish

  • Decaf coffee / Fruit teas (decaf tea is not great!)

  • Gin and slimline tonic! ( far less sugar than a glass of wine!)

  • Nuts

  • Lots of veg ( trying to avoid large amounts of the starch and high carb potatoes, carrots, ...root veg)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


Since my last blog we have welcomed a new addition to our family. Little 'Elliot' was born three weeks ago, seven pounds six ounces. Now a family of four, it has been an exciting but exhausting time! I am now familiar with the rubbish that is on the tv in the early hours...and have been burning up my pregnancy weight, walking up and down the stairs trying to alleviate colic. Elliot is however very beautiful and has brought real joy to our lives.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Dreaming of the sun

Poppies and onions in Brittany, France

Am developing a real interest in photography and am starting to put a collection of some of my favourite pics (that I've taken) up on here. I love France and the mediterranean and most of these were taken whilst holidaying there.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Last minute thoughts

I have reached the turning point! My bump that I have enjoyed seeing grow and change is a bulbous balloon and I am now struggling with everyday tasks. Standing up for more than ten minutes causes my hips to give way and the pain in my pelvis and lower back is unbearable. I don't remember being so immobile with Jess (my first child) but I suppose I was younger and fitter 13 years ago! I don't think I have craved exercise before but I long to be able to go for a walk, run upstairs and even stand at the sink and wash up without needing to rest half way through the dishes! It has made me determined that once our little baby is born, I will get fit and healthy again. Lands End to John O'Groats here I come! ( I have always wanted to walk this!!)

September has always been a time for change and new adventures. Even as a child the excitement of returning to school after the long summer break was thrilling and something to look forward to. I can still remember how it felt to have new shoes, a new bag and pencil case and be returning to a new classroom and teacher. The joy of my new 'material possessions' back then is something I crave now. I have replaced the pencil tin with my pair of size 12 jeans which I long to be able to get back into. I look forward to walking down the road with my new pushchair and long to get the moses basket out of the box and make the up the bed for our little bundle.
And yet these thoughts make me feel guilty. I feel slightly shallow that I am so looking forward to using these new material things. They seem so irrelevant compared to the precious and beautiful new life that will shortly join us. I cannot quantify how much this little baby will mean to me (and us as a family) and we long to meet him.
But I suppose it is also a reflection of todays society and maybe me as an individual, that has succombed to the allure and image of material possessions?

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Last weekend we were visited by our kiwi relatives who came in fine form with humour, stories of their travels and the usual bottles of fine kiwi plonk. As a family 'en masse', we like our wine, but there are certain family and friends which allow you to drink more than you probably should! (I on the other hand refrained...and behaved with my bottles of fake non-alcoholic beer..not so much fun I hasten to add!). We enjoyed several lovely evenings and meals with the ultimate party on saturday night. I became chief photographer for the evening and have evidence of the drunken barn dancing in the garden, and my fathers spontaneous Egyptian sound and light show! (This in itself needs photos to be believed and involved my father dressed up as pharoah at the top of the garden, with garden cane framed pyramids...lit by candles, a booming soundtrack and a bonfire finale!
This week has been a little more subdued and with the bump increasing in size I have been taking it easy. My daughter has had friends around and they enjoyed a morning in the local woods, filming their re-enaction of Harry Potter. This is the second scene they have now filmed...and with the current timetable, filming will probably be complete in about 2030. To give them credit though, they have done a brilliant job, obtained costumes, written scripts and learnt their lines...and I look forward to seeing the final some point!
My daughter has now headed off into Cornwall for a camping trip with her dad and so I am now pacing the house, awaiting the arrival of bump. In truth, I am pacing the house, looking at the clumps of dust gathered on the floor, staring at the pile of ironing, checking the empty fridge incase some food should materialise and contemplating repainting the kitchen! Frustration has set in, but lack of energy and movement prevent me from achieving my perfect nest! Probably just as well!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Time on my hands

Am into my second week of maternity leave and despite having a list of things I had planned to do (Learn french, write my book, paint the landing, learn how to make mosaics..and generally nest!), I haven't the energy or will power to do any it! Todays highlight will be the delivery of my sainsburys shopping, probably followed by a few home improvement programmes and 'A place in the sun'.
Am missing the sun terribly at the moment. I am normally sprawled out in the garden the moment the sun appears, but pregnancy hormones and a warning by my optician that I have a UV sun spot on one of my eyes has made me rethink. I have even worn suncream this goes against my beliefs, but I know I should be more careful!
Four weeks left now until I have baby number two! I have now reached the point where I wish the stork would just deliver a nice little parcel at the top of the garden. If only it was that simple! Still its all very exciting (if terrifying!) and I know once he's here that all will be well again.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Bun in the oven!

Spring has finally sprung after the coldest winter I have ever remembered. I dislike winter at the best of times, but am even more relieved this year to see the sun and temperatures start to rise. Roll on the summer!
Since I last wrote on here lots has happened, but my biggest news is that I am expecting a baby in August (another reasion for the summer to hurry up!). Its very exciting and I now have an ever increasing bump which seems to grow larger by the day (am now 21 weeks pregnant).
I also seem to have an increasing list of jobs that i need to get done before the baby arrives and so as the weather is lovely today I might get outside and spring clean the windows! (the nesting instinct has kicked in early...much to my husbands disapproval!)