Saturday, 25 April 2015

Imminent Arrival

So it's been a while again, mainly due to being crazily busy followed by even crazier exhaustion! But I thought I'd update where we are now.

The impending arrival of a newborn is such a turbulent time emotionally. You are desperate to meet this little person who has been growing inside you for the last nine months. Especially as for the last few weeks it's been giving you the kind of hefty kicks that remind you of its presence on a regular basis. You are extremely fat and uncomfortable (and need to wee every ten minutes. Seriously.). You are excited to find out if it's a boy or a girl.

But on the other hand there is a sense of trepidation. Admittedly not so much as the first time - you just don't have the time to dwell when you are trying to entertain a toddler all day! But part of you is thinking - will this be alright? Will I cope with labour? Will there be complications? It's something you can't avoid - childbirth is such a momentous event. It probably doesn't help that in my history teacher capacity I have taught a Medivine Through Time course that highlights the stark realities of childbirth and the survival rates up until about a hundred years ago. It makes you all the more appreciative of modern medical advances, and more inclined to scoff at people who go on about the superiority of natural childbirth etc - that would be the nature where 1 in 4 mothers and 1 in 5 infants died would it?

I am prepared to do everything I can to get this little one here safely, and certainly wouldn't rule out any intervention or pain relief I felt necessary. This is probably why I have no birth plan. I don't really think it's something that can be planned for and it feels like setting yourself up to fail. I'm going to go with the flow.

After that outpouring of my thoughts, I thought I'd share some other goings on in our lives.

We have been...

...walking in the memorial park...

...visiting open gardens and finding some fantastic sticks to play with courtesy of Gramps...

...visiting the garden centre and getting excited by fake chickens in the hen houses...

...and then getting to look after real chicks for the weekend, after they hatched in Ed's classroom at school!

We have also been to soft play (he loves these cars so much!).

And I've managed to do a bit of hooking on my ripple blanket in the evenings when I'm not completely shattered from the day's activities!

So to sum up: it's been busy, I'm tired, the baby will be arriving soon by whatever means necessary. And hopefully we have a lovely summer to look forward to as a family of four...


Wednesday, 25 February 2015


It's been an extremely busy few weeks chez Watson. Going back to work after the half term holiday has been a bit hectic and very exhausting as I struggle increasingly with my hips and back while I waddle around school, but I only have five more weeks to go now until mat leave and I'm definitely counting down! Thirty weeks now, I don't know where the time has gone...

In positive news, I was observed twice just before half term and got outstanding both times - I didn't stress too much about or plan for these so it was quite self-affirming when I got such positive feedback. It has taught me to rely on the fact that I am a good teacher who knows what they are doing and I should have confidence in that when I am feeling negative.

On the crafty side, I have been getting on with a few things in between work, looking after little J and collapsing on the sofa. Pocket Pal now looks like this:

I decided to knit the sleeves onto the jumper rather than setting in (as I hate sewing in sleeves!) - the pattern appears to have them coming out at right angles which is rather unusual so I hope it fits J alright in the end. The intarsia is a total mess of loose ends on the back so some rather extensive weaving in is going to have to happen too.

This is how my socks are looking - I haven't knit on these for a while but look forward to getting back to them as the pattern is interesting without being too difficult. I really like the magic cast on - it's so neat and again, will avoid sewing up at the end. I really like trying out new techniques and skills and my first pair of socks was top down so I'm shaking things up a bit with these.


I have also had a go at some more flourless mini muffins - double choc this time. I really liked these, especially after a couple of days when they tasted even better, but J wasn't a fan, I'm not sure why. I will just have to make some more for me!

Hopefully I can finish Pocket Pal in the next few days - I want J to be able to wear it in the next month while the weather is still cold enough. The socks are less urgent, but I don't want them to linger for two years like the last pair! If anyone knows where I can get some cheap sock blockers too, please let me know - all the ones I have seen are extortionate!





Sunday, 8 February 2015

Days out and Evenings In

It's been a few days since a blog post again, but that doesn't mean we haven't been busy - far from it. We have been out and about a few times in the last week, and today we decided to make the most of our National Trust membership and the beautiful winter sunshine for a day out to Packwood House. We didn't go in the house today - we have done that before - but we did go on a guided tour round the yew garden and lake (as well as enjoying a cream tea in the cafe).

The view of the house across the lake is stunning - the lake was still partly frozen.

An amazing skeletal winter tree with one of the follies next to it.


Another of the follies - the Inside Out house. Ed and J went in while I took a rest.

We have also been making Peanut Butter and Banana flourless blender muffins. Extremely easy and much healthier than regular muffins. I found the recipe on Pinterest as I had several old manky bananas that needed using.

In the evenings, I've been quite productive on the knitting front. I finished J's little jumper a while back and decided to power through my second Sunday Swing sock that had been languishing half finished on the needles for two years! Yes, really. I even managed to follow the chart wrong and had to rip back half the foot and I still finished it. Quite proud of my perseverance on that one.

I then proceeded to immediately cast on another sock. I clearly don't learn my lessons. This time it is a toe up sock - the magic cast-on for these is so clever. They are called High Arches by Rhian DrinkWater.

I know I still have my Boxy and my blanket to work on, but the endless stocking stitch was getting to me on Boxy. So I cast on something else too, the Pocket Pal monster jumper from an issue of Simply Knitting. J chose this especially from my magazine so who was I to say no? I decided to use Drops Merino Extrafine - I was taking a chance, but the yarn is buttery soft, if a little badly spun in places. Hoping to get on with this speedily so he can wear it this year. Watch this space!







Sunday, 25 January 2015

Getting Through

Despite my promises to blog more often, I have allowed a week to pass without a post. Sometimes life gets in the way, but I am going to make the effort to post today to catch up with what we have been up to. The last few days have involved the following...

More slow cooking. This sausage casserole was not quite as successful as the Thai curry - despite being on high for 6 hours, some of the veg was still pretty hard and despite my sister's belief that you don't have to brown the sausages, I definitely would next time - they looked quite pale and unappetising.

I currently have a chilli con carne cooking in there - let's hope this one turns out well.

J and I have had tea parties in the lounge...

And baked chocolate chip cookies. I love this recipe - it's one I've had for years and I can't remember where I first wrote it down from, but it always turns out the nicest biscuits.

The smoothie making has continued - J is now very interested in this and helps me to put all the ingredients in...

Frozen strawberries and blueberries, plum, pear and grapes.


Very refreshing and quite thin due to absence of banana.

Mango, blueberries, plum and fruit juice...

Lovely - very sweet from the mango, but a bit over thick.

J's choice - frozen mango, banana and fruit juice...

Very tropical tasting, but again a bit thick. Sometimes you have to be careful with the banana too as it can overpower the other flavours.

I have also been to my friend's surprise baby shower - she is due ten weeks before me, which is quite exciting. It was a lovely afternoon, organised beautifully by her sister.

Unfortunately I nearly didn't make it to the party. On Friday I woke with an excruciating pain just above my belly button that got worse with walking/moving and took my breath away it was so intense. I have been through a C-section, and various ops and don't consider myself to be a total wuss but this pain really bothered me. I think it's natural when it's so close to your growing baby. However, the midwife saw me and said the baby was fine and the doc thinks I may have just torn a muscle. Trying to rest it up as much as possible today.

Chilling out in the evenings has allowed me to finish this audiobook:

I read this as a teenager and don't think I ever appreciated it enough. It is perhaps less 'showy' than Austen's other novels but is so bittersweet and satisfying, I really enjoyed it as an adult listener. Perhaps I can relate to the characters more.

Finally, I've been working on the crochet blanket this week and it now looks like this:


Perhaps not as much as I would have hoped to do by this point, but I'm happy with the colour sequence and at least it is progressing steadily. A few rows here and there will have to suffice at the moment.

Here's hoping for a happy and stress-free week.



Saturday, 17 January 2015

Peace at Last

Lazy Saturday nap time, so I've got a few minutes to sit down and update my blog in peace and quiet. I realise peace and quiet is something that is not going to exist in a few months time with a newborn around the place, so I'm trying to make the most of it now!

It's been a funny few days. Little J has been ill with an ear infection, bless him. Had a horrible Thursday evening when he couldn't go to sleep for more than half an hour without him waking up in pain - suffice to say I spent most of the night running up and downstairs trying to console him, not helped by the fact that Ed was out on a school trip till 11.30pm. So knitting time has been somewhat limited.

In the next half an hour, I plan on finally adding the buttons to and finishing this little jumper. It was knitted so quickly last year, it's shameful that it's taken so long to sew it up. I made a real hatchet job of sewing in the sleeves - there is a reason I am increasingly turning to seamless knitting patterns! I'm not the worst sewer (at least mattress stitch) but lining up sleeves, especially striped ones, I just don't have the patience for. The photo makes it look better than it is in real life.


The buttons I found for it are the right colour but a touch too small, so I'm going to have to reinforce the buttonholes I think - fun!

Smoothie fun has continued with a slightly more tropical theme. This one included frozen mango (I had to make a trip to Sainsburys as Morrisons selection of frozen fruit is somewhat limited), pear, grapes, banana and some orange and raspberry juice. It produced this:

Lovely and sweet, though the blender had a bit more trouble with the frozen mango than the berries I normally use so should have left it on a bit longer.
I have also been experimenting with the slow cooker. I found a recipe on Pinterest for Thai Chicken Soup which didn't require any frying beforehand - just what I was looking for. I don't know if it was because it was American, but the recipe was basically the same as the one I use for Thai curry, so I don't know why it was called a soup. It gave me an idea for timings though, so I threw everything I normally put in my Thai curry in the slow cooker, and because I was home added the chicken partway through and some of the veg at the end.
I was pleasantly surprised, having never had much luck with the slow cooker before - Thai curry is supposed to be runny so thickness wasn't an issue I suppose, but everything cooked beautifully. I have two more meal portions in the freezer ready for work nights too. It would be good to get a little arsenal of recipes together for when baby number two arrives, though most ones I have seen seem to involve some frying/boiling as prep which I would rather avoid if I can. Any hints/tips or recipes would be greatly appreciated!



Thursday, 15 January 2015

Smoothie Experiments

My quest to get my five a day in smoothie form continues, and I have to say I do feel the benefit of them, at least my stomach does!

One of the latest attempts has been this:


Frozen Black Forest Mix, a pear, grapes and some blueberries, topped up with some water. It produced this:

Quite runny without a banana to thicken it but I actually appreciate that thinner consistency sometimes, and very refreshing with the pear and grapes.

Another attempt was this:


The last of the Frozen Black Forest Mix, a banana, grapes and a splash of orange and raspberry juice. This combination produced this:

Much thicker, more milkshakey in consistency, but still decidedly yummy.

I plan to get some frozen mango/pineapple mix to make some more exotic flavoured smoothies soon, just for a change from the berries. It is definitely a fun way to eat your fruit and veg, and better than juice because all the flesh/skin is still in there.

We have been enjoying the fun of Playdoh at our house at the moment - J is obsessed with it and keeps asking us to make 'cakes', 'fried eggs' and 'parrots' for some reason. Any ideas for inventive Playdoh play to expand our horizons?


Work wise I am feeling a lot happier at the moment. I have started a new marking regime that is less labour intensive but actually gives more instant feedback to the kids. I feel like I have got some of my life back, without detrimentally affecting the kids I teach, which is fantastic. Which also means more time to do a bit of knitting in the evening. Boxy is now up to 26cm. Just 14cm more to go before I split for front and back. But worried about that rolling hem though, praying it will be sorted with a bit of blocking come the finish!








Sunday, 11 January 2015

Fun and Games

Thought I'd post a little update of what we've been getting up to in the last few days...

We've been to the Herbert Museum in Coventry enjoying sensory play. It was rainbow themed and we spent time crawling through multicoloured ribbons and fabrics and foam shapes. The Herbert Museum is a lovely resource for the city, we really should make more use of it than we do.

After a Friday morning spent at the library, singing songs at rhyme time and changing books, in the afternoon I decided to reorganise my wardrobe. It was full to overflowing, there was stuff all over the floor, and I knew there was stuff in there I was never wearing because I couldn't see it! I trawled Pinterest for some advice on decluttering, and then got started. I tried to be quite ruthless - even though I'm pregnant and potentially could get down to a size twelve again, I haven't since having J (on the bottom anyway, my hips will never be the same again). I had all these work trousers and work dresses and suits filling the wardrobe that I haven't worn for 2.5 years. They will all be going to the charity shop - there is no point keeping things that might never be worn. I feel much better for having a tidy(ish) wardrobe that I can actually use again.

We have also been to Hatton Country World for a birthday party. Although it was January and freezing and blowing a gale, we, and particularly little J, had a fantastic time meeting the animals and using the soft play area. Of course being pregnant meant Ed had to do all the accompanying on the soft play while I drank tea - bonus!


Finally, in a bid to meet one of my New Year goals and get more fruit and veg into me, I found my old Smoothie 2 Go in the cupboard and have started concocting a fruit smoothie most days. This one was made of frozen Black Forest mix, some blueberries and a banana that were past their best, some oats, a raspberry yoghurt and some milk. It was perhaps a bit overpowered by the yoghurt and a little thick but still yummy. It's quite fun experimenting with flavours.

In craft related news, I have knitted around 22cm of Boxy - still quite a long way to go. I definitely need to plan a smaller project in between to get some more immediate results!


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Raspberry and Banana Muffins

After we returned from visiting the family over the Christmas period, we didn't have a lot of food left in the house, but for some reason I had about five very overripe bananas. When we are at work, we rarely waste bananas as we take them for lunch, but my fruit and veg eating has been pretty abysmal this holiday (as opposed to my After Eight eating which has been first class!) hence the spotty, old bananas.

I hate throwing stuff away though I am probably as guilty of it as anyone, but I wanted to use at least some of these fruits. As it turned out, I found a recipe that also made use of some Coop frozen raspberries that had been hanging around the freezer for far too long. Although the original recipe called for blueberries, I'm happy to substitute where it means using up what's on hand.

Little J and mummy set to mashing bananas, mixing flour and oats and whisking eggs. J loves to help in the kitchen and fortunately this was a recipe that didn't call for perfectly smooth batter - it was pretty much throw everything in and give it a quick stir. I did find a teaspoon in the bowl when I poured the wet ingredients into the dry though - J had obviously lost it when I wasn't looking! They took a bit longer to cook than the recipe stated - I probably did them for another seven minutes in total.

And here is the result.

Tasty, moist, not too sweet, and with the lovely tang from the raspberries (I added a few more than the recipe specified to use up the box). I always find full size muffins a bit difficult to manage though so next time I would probably make them in the bun tin to get a few more smaller ones. They apparently freeze well too which I may have to try as I'm not sure we'll get through them all in a few days - I like cake, but in moderation. They should be handy for popping into my bag to take to work for mid-morning (I know, the dreaded 'w' word, can you believe the holidays are over?).