Sunday, 31 January 2010



We really did go birdwatching today....well we tried.  Went armed with borrowed binoculars and bird spotters reference book to a local reservoir.  It was freezing, and so we were tempted into the barn there, to make our own toad houses and get stuck in with some various other crafting stuff on offer.

We have promised ourselves to give it another shot when the weather warms up.

So when we got back home, I remembered these birds made from wood/vintage wall paper that I bought last year from Ladies & Gentlemen.  I thought they might look good on my twig (you may have already seen this as a Jingle Bell tree at Christmas, and a glass heart tree....wait till Easter comes around!).

They are all now perched happily on the playroom shelf.  Not quite as exciting as the real thing....but dare I say it a little prettier?

Friday, 29 January 2010

Cake sale woes

We were late for the cake sale at school today....every last one had gone by our arrival. 
Even the much despised shop bought Mr Kipling's a big no no at our school to bring a shop bought cake to a cake sale. Although I do engage in such practices myself.....I trot out the working mum excuse, or even worse engage my parents in the cake making and then pass the results off as my own. There, I said it. 

Well I digress.  Yoyo immediately burst into tears about the lack of cakes......this is very unlike her, so in a moment of desperation I announced we would make some cakes together when we got home. 

So without further ado this is my recipe for cooking with children.  Photos very kindly provided by The Queen of Clean.


Take equal measures of tolerance and patience....

Turn one (or if preferred two), blind eyes depending on potential for spillage.....


Add in one stock phrase, to be repeated throughout process.  

My current favourite is 'Hang on a minute!'

Finally, and this is the crucial ingredient......mix in endless amounts of enthusiasm.

Have a fantastic weekend :)

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


There are many reasons I love my husband.........but his Toad in the Hole is high up on the list.

It's his signature dish.

Would you just take a look....!?  Fabulous.  We call it just 'Toad' here, in an attempt to have a little inside joke.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

This carefully edited version of my life.....

I had dinner last week with some good friends who also read my blog.  We were laughing as they shared they thought I presented a 'carefully edited version of my life'.

Anyone who knows me will recognise the above scene......goldfish bowl could do with a clean out, crumbs on the counter, cartons of apple juice struggling to find their way back to the fridge.

So this post is in the interest of 'keeping it real'.  Because we can't all be living the Chez Larsson dream can we?  And I'm sure I'm not the only blogger who will sweep the toys and mess away before they take a photograph.

So for one time it is, the reality.  Taken just minutes ago and waiting for me to sort out.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Weekend photos


Just a few random pictures from around the house today.  I'm not doing the 365 photo project, but trying to make time to just capture everyday moments.

  • The bunny in the last photo Yoyo and I made yesterday.  I wasn't feeling well so sitting in my chair and quietly stitching this was about all I could manage.
  • Croissants this morning - a little indulgent but marked the weekend.....a change from the usual endless rounds of frantically made peanut butter on toast we're used to.
  • The tulips - don't you love this stage where they come to the end of their life and start to go bendy? Had to capture it.
  • And the robot picture at the top.......just made me smile.  It was one of the few non-lego gifts that littlest one got on his birthday on Monday.
Hope you all had a good weekend, most of yesterday was written off here with me feeling poorly and having to go to bed.  For some insane reason I thought it would be an ideal chance for me to learn to was drifting in and out of sleep watching endless crochet tutorials on youtube.  Didn't achieve much quite frankly - although I am now an expert on starting the first round of a granny square.  Just can't seem to make it any further.

Any must have crochet let me know.  I'm feeling a little lost!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Another trunk


Littlest one's birthday turned into a bit of a Legofest.  You know when you mention to a couple of people that Lego may be a good idea.......and then you jump on the Lego bandwagon yourself?  You get the picture. Oodles of the stuff.

I wanted to show you the treasure chest where we store the Lego.  This trunk came from a photography studio in London where the Queen of Clean used to work a long time ago.  He rescued this trunk from being put in the skip....can you believe anyone would consider throwing such a lovely thing away?  I quizzed him on what this trunk was used for and he replied 'anything and everything', but when pushed admitted lights and cables for location shoots.  It all sounds terribly glam....but I don't think it really was.  I remember him working long, long hours and never having a chance to eat.

But back onto the point in hand.  This trunk has been with us for years and has been used as a side table downstairs.  Since we put wood flooring downstairs, this trunk has been banished upstairs to littlest one's room as we didn't want the metal underneath to scratch the floor.  Actually I'm not worried about scratches at all......but I guess you know who is!

So this box stores lego...mainly The Queen of Clean's old childhood lego.  And the odd stray Barbie leg, a ha that's where they got to! But now, since littlest one's birthday we have lots more to add to the collection.  I'm pondering on being super organised and keeping new/old lego separate....but I think that may cause stress.  Which is always best avoided Chez Whoops-a-daisy.

That is Rose sat on the trunk in the top picture, she is growing just too fast.

And please be assured... this is the last trunk post.  I have no more such containers with long and slightly romantic stories attached to them.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

This trunk

I was going to post something profound about the three little bottoms perched on this trunk.

But as I thought about it, I started thinking about the trunk itself.   Not that in any way the trunk is more important than the people sat on it, I assure you.

This trunk was in an antique shop that was a couple of doors down from a house I shared whilst I was at University.  I walked past it every day for months and thought, when I have my own home, I want a trunk like that.  I thought a lot about that trunk on my long walk up a hill to lectures, and the home it would eventually fill.  I then saw the price tag.  It wasn't pretty or achievable on a student budget.  So my Mum agreed to buy it for my 21st birthday.

So one afternoon The Queen of Clean and I went in to buy the trunk and carry it to my student room.  I think my housemates thought I'd lost the plot.  It wasn't every 21 year old girls dream really now was it, some old trunk from the shop over the road?  It was so heavy and we had to lug it up the stairs on these little decorative handles that dug into my hands.  So there it sat for the remainder of the year, in pride of place underneath a 'Titanic' poster.  It was the 90's......Kate & Leo where the height of fashion back then.  I promise.  Or perhaps it was just me.......

So later that year when we bought our first home, this trunk became our TV stand.  And I had no idea that just a couple of years later it would be a toy chest for my firstborn.  Or fast forward now 12 years later it would have those three adorable bottoms perched on it playing Wii. 

So this trunk is very important to me.....because when I reflect at how things have turned out, perhaps not as originally planned, I want to go back to that 21 year old me contemplating the trunk and let her know that the trunk is definitely a good purchase and that her home and life will be all that she wishes it could be.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Style resolutions 2010

A blog I read regularly, Tea for Joy has challenged readers to post their style resolutions for 2010.  So after some consideration - here we are:-
  • I want to appreciate the opportunity for every corner of my home.  Like my kitchen windowsill above.  I want every corner to reflect who I am, and things I love.  A tall order perhaps...but there are so many corners that you overlook or just accept as being unchangeable.  I want to challenge that this year.
  • I will finally learn the art of displaying a group of pictures on the wall.  I have seen so many beautiful examples of this on flickr photo groups and other blogs, magazines.  I think perhaps I am building this up into something more than it is......and I just need to be brave and do it.
  • I want to devote more time (please someone tell me where to find just slips away from me) to crafting.  I desperately want to learn to crochet to create some of the beautiful granny square cushions I have seen and adore like this one below from Emma Lamb.

  • Our main project for 2010 will be the bathroom we started to dismantle 18 months ago when we moved here, and ran out of budget for.  I will find the funds to tackle this and create a functional, but beautiful bathroom.  On a shoestring.
So there you have it.  My style resolutions for 2010.

The cake

There is much excitement here this morning.

It is littlest one's birthday and Ga (Grandpa) has just delivered the much talked about cake.  Littlest one had spotted this cake on the internet about 6 months ago and has mentioned it at least weekly since then. 

And here it all it's dessicated coconut glory.


Littlest one was so overwhelmed he hid when it was delivered!  Did I mention before my skillful delegation of all children's birthday cakes to my parents?  The fabulous Garlie and Ga (aka Granny and Grandpa).  I highly recommend this strategy to all parents.


For now this cake is safely hidden under the laundry basket, from our inquisitive kittens, until its unveiling this afternoon at a very small tea party.

Littlest one and I have a day to for now we are off to have some fun!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Sprigs, hats and kitten paws

Realised I hadn't posted three beautiful things for a while, and after an eventful and rather stressful afternoon I thought it might induce some much needed calm!

So without further delay, they are:-

1.  This little sprig of fir tree in the jam jar on the left was gathered on a family walk on Saturday morning.  Poor Yoyo was really struggling to make it back home and it had started to snow again - we kept her spirits up by asking her to look for the 'Christmas tree' so Mummy could put it in a jam jar. 

The plot worked, she kept walking (and stopped whining) and she is very proud of her little sprig.

2. The constant and ever changing display of hats and gloves drying on the radiator.

3.  Rose the kitten plays with my toes this morning as they hang over the edge of the bed.  She doesn't use her claws, just her soft paw pads.  I take this as a sign of feline affection, although I am doubtful that is her intention.

Aaahhh, that's better....feeling calm.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

And where is Disneytown?

 Imagine my surprise when this weekend, The Queen of Clean announced he was going to tackle some unscheduled decorating.  Usually these things are negotiated weeks in advance.  I was of course, delighted.

We had months ago bought this map of the world mural for our playroom, but never started the mammoth task of putting it up.  So this weekend we did it (aswell as painting another wall and some shelves, and finishing the skirting board in this room).

I cannot recommend this particular mural - I understand now why it is cheaper than all the others!  It was a complete pain to line up (it consists of 8 pieces) and midway through I had to ply The Queen of Clean with Pinot Grigio to get him to carry on.  The children were so excited and littlest one here kept asking, 'And where is Disneytown?' I tried to explain the various Disney locations (and the cost implications - we'll be camping in the UK again this year) but it was rather lost on him.

There is still much to do in this room - we have got to decide whether to paint the pine bookcases that line two walls of this room (40 shelves in total!) white or leave them as is.  After today I'm leaning towards leaving them......... We also need to build a boxed in piece of skirting to hide the pipes under the radiator, and edit the contents of all the shelves.  So much rubbish.

So for now, here is the little corner where I am sitting right now!  We are going to replace this chair (borrowed from our dining set) with a bentwood vintage chair when I can find one or one of these.

The two shelves above the computer The Queen of Clean built for me after I saw something similar on the Pottery Barn website.  They have a little ledge at the front so you can use them to display pictures with no risk of them falling off.  I found out a couple of weeks after these were built that you can get exactly the same thing from Ikea for about £5!  (so naturally I got some more for my bathroom).  These ones though are a little wider which means I can display vases and toys etc.

As the room is finished I will show you more, but here is this little corner for the moment.

What do you think?

Friday, 8 January 2010

Normalising the absurd

This morning whilst I was in the bath, I realised that I'd stepped in without properly 'seeing' this little scene of Barbie dolls in various stages of amputation, along with their plastic owl sidekicks.

In our home there are lots of these little absurd scenes that the children have abandoned mid play.  I love to take a minute when I discover them to work out what the storyline was.

I just dread to think the plot of the above..............

In addition - please be aware that the Queen of Clean almost begged me not to post this picture.  It's the taps not being shiny that is making him uncomfortable!  You see this bathroom really is quite grim.  Half the tiles are missing from the walls, and there is no bath panel.  We started renovating immediately we moved in, and before we realised the budget had to be spent on some more essential double glazing.

So we have kind of given up in this room on the shiny tap thing.  Just so you're clear ;-)

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Shortcut Susie

I realise that I have forgotten to introduce you to Shortcut Susie.  This is the Queen of Clean's nickname for me.  Shortcut Susie because I like to do things the easiest way, while he is somewhat of a perfectionist.

Shortcut Susie appears at home mainly (although the nickname is now sometimes used at work - how mortifying!).  She assists me particularly when cooking (I cannot follow a recipe), tidying and always when trying to understand something.

The reason I have chosen this photo along with this post, is that I am proud that Shortcut Susie didn't have a hand in it.  We have an SLR camera, but Susie talks me out of using it most of the time. 

'Can you be bothered to take a light reading?'
'What about the shutter speed, what's an F stop?'
'Is the camera charged, bet you can't find the battery charger...'
'This is just too much effort, get your phone and we'll take a quick snap'

But one of my resolutions which didn't make it into my resolutions post is to learn how to use the SLR.  So tonight I picked it up, and I actually listened to the Queen of Clean (whose first job was as a photographer's assistant in London so he does know his stuff) and asked questions.  This particular shot is my own work.  All the Queen of Clean did was hold a lamp at an angle to cast the shadow from the tree branches on to the print at the back. 

Don't worry about Shortcut Susie feeling left out......she's about to help me tidy the kitchen.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

One of those days

I've not had a great day today.  The highlight was probably heading outside to get these pictures.

It was a combination really of trying to look after the kids (schools closed due to snow), and work from home.  There was lots of me asking the kids to calm down, and lots of the kids asking me to help colour in/build a lego house/pour apple juice (no not in that cup, in this cup).

It came to a head when I snapped at Yoyo for helping herself to a gherkin out of the fridge.  Of all the things to get uptight about, a gherkin.

And as I type this I am almost reluctant to publish it.  To admit that I have those days where things go wrong and I snap at my offspring over gherkins.  But I am sure I am not alone.  So for that reason I will post this, and fingers crossed we will all have a better day tomorrow!

Monday, 4 January 2010

The Sofa Saga

So as you may know the sofa collapsed on Christmas Eve.   Whilst at the time it was mildly amusing and we tried very hard not to mind, smugly thinking what jolly festive spirits we were not to worry about such a catastrophe...... now it's seriously annoying me.

We attempted a repair which has shifted the break further along the frame if that's possible.  Essentially the middle of the sofa is now sitting on the floor if anyone parks themselves on it.

So we have two choices (sorry actually three if I count the unmentionable one in):-
  1. Purchase the above Halo sofa that I have wanted for ages on credit (currently 30% off in Jan sale)
  2. Attempt another repair until I have saved up for sofa above (but price will have gone up)
  3. Borrow my Mum & Dad's spare sofa they have kindly offered (this is actually the unmentionable option - M&D I love you dearly but I am not a Multiyork floral kind of gal, sorry)
 What the heck should we do? 1, 2 or 3?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Icy faces, patience and mulled wine

My three beautiful things for today are these:-

1. Yoyo finds it hilarious if I de-ice the car by drawing faces with the ice scraper.  I indulge her this morning as we're not in a rush, and she squeals with laughter whilst waiting inside the car.

2.  The kindness and patience of an optician who understands implicitly that my daughter is desperate to wear glasses but doesn't actually need them.  She allows her to try several pairs on and gives her a thorough eye test.  Yoyo works her myopic desires out of her system.

3.  The Queen of Clean hands me a glass of warm mulled wine as I type this post.  I love this man.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

A ramble about a bar stool

I had a good find today outside a charity shop, a little pine table (well that's what I thought it was) for £3.95.  I couldn't resist it - even though I had driven to town in my Ford KA and it was going to be a squeeze to get it in.

We have rejigged our furniture in the lounge and there was nowhere for anyone to rest a cup of tea if they were sat in our leather chair.  Since the sofa collapsed on Christmas Eve this leather chair is really the prime seat in the house, and we had been discussing the need for a side table for a few days.

So I bought it home, very triumphant with my find.  The Queen of Clean (who incidentally was cleaning the kitchen sink at the time) asked me why I had bought a bar stool.  Oh no said I, it's definitely a table.  Well, after much debate and googling the Ikea name stamped on the underneath we established yes, it was indeed a bar stool.

But quite frankly who cares.


Here it is before, in all it's ikea rubberwood bar stool glory.  I took exceptionally bad pictures today so the black and white is an attempt to disguise my lack of focus.


And here we after 3 coats of white satinwood (could probably do with another tomorrow) and the legs sawn down.

This little table/bar stool has made me very happy this evening.

Friday, 1 January 2010


I'm not great at goal setting, and don't usually make any formal New Year resolutions.

So I'll keep it simple.

Okay I'm not a party ring girl, but I took this picture yesterday and I thought the plate was pretty.

And I'm sure the message is not lost in the candy coloured biscuits and vintage plate; I need to lose weight.

I took this photo yesterday on a walk with my brood - you can just spy them over the fence playing on the last remaining snowman.

We decided yesterday that we don't do this enough and will be walking (even if it's just into town) at least every weekend.  This should help with the first resolution above, but also its great to make the time to do this as a family.

I have another fantasy list of resolutions including crochet, elaborate mortgage overpayments and highbrow novel reading.  But I'm realistic and know these will probably not make their way off the notepad.  So if I can achieve the two I've publically set myself here, I'll be pleased.

Best of luck with any goals you set yourselves this year.


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