Our Christmas

I seem to have spent some time away from the Internet over the Christmas period; completely unintentionally I have not checked my emails since the week before the 25th, nor have I made a dent in the 1,000+ blog posts I have waiting in my Google Reader. It’s been a busy time from last-minute work through to last-minute present buying and as always trying to keep on top of the mountain of housework.

 

Christmas was lovely and quiet. The day itself was spent with Will’s family in a holiday cottage in Wiltshire and then on boxing day we drove home for a massive rib of beef with my parents, brother and his Aussie girlfriend. Despite being more excited about the gifts I’d bought others this year than what I would be receiving (most unlike me) I was a very lucky girl and am now the proud owner of an iPad, a kindle, a full set of Le Creuset saucepans and griddle pans and a deep fat fryer. Plus enough Molton Brown products to keep the whole family clean and smelling beautiful for the whole of 2012.

 

Will came down with either food poisoning or a bug on 26th which has more or less meant we’ve spent the last few days in our pyjamas (there is nothing more moody than my husband when he’s ill) and pre-new years eve I plan on finishing the deep clean of the house I started yesterday. One of my most annoying habits is the fact I can’t think straight unless the house is straight and to help with this I’m trying to start by de-cluttering as much of our unnecessary crap as possible (2 bin bags full so far). The downstairs of the house is also due a re-jig – having had a grand total of zero viewings I’m a lot happier that we’ll be able to live here a good while longer – and I’m going to turn the unused snug into a little study.

 

So that’s been our Christmas perio; sleep, food, a bit of illness and more sleep. How was yours?

Before She Was A Mum

I am really enjoying one of Mother’s Meeting‘s current features: ‘Before She Was a Mum’. It’s so easy to completely forget who you were before baby and fun to look back on your pre-motherhood life.

Mine seemed to involve a lot of going out!

Here I am:

Halloween 2009 – pregnant and I didn’t even know it

Nova Dando’s Fashion Week party with La Roux, 2009

With Naomi in Sven Vath’s DJ booth at Cocoon, matter, Summer 2009

With my brother at Sonar, Barcelona. May 2009

A bit of innocent tattoo licking with Kristin in the flat above The Old Blue Last

Being Paris Hilton at fabric‘s birthday, 2008

MTT: Mushroom, Pea and Tarragon Pot Pies

We get together with some very lovely friends of ours every month or so to eat, drink and laugh. We became friends about the same time Will and I became a couple (so I guess about 8 years ago) and love them to pieces. There’s nothing better than our raucous night full of wine, food, conversation and Guitar Hero (apart from that time we drank the 1982 bottle of red that was older than me. That did not feel good the next day). But these sorts of soulmate friends are bigger than supremely corked wine: they’re for life.

These friends we have (hi, Rupert and Su!) are perfect in every way but one. They are both vegetarians*.

As we’ve been friends for so long I’ve stopped banging on about the whole “but don’t you miss bacon?!” thing, especially since they have started eating fish, and I now enjoy the challenge of meat-free cooking for them. I don’t like to use quorn or other equivalents so try and get my inspiration elsewhere.

Rupert and Su were supposed to come and visit this Friday but didn’t due to poor Elfie getting rushed into hospital (more on that soon) so I found myself with some left over vegetarian ingredients to cook with this week.

Therefore I give you my mushroom, pea and tarragon pie; good enough to eat even if you’re a carnivore and easy enough to add meat to if you can’t face a meatfree meal.

*This is a joke, I don’t have anything against vegetarians. Although, don’t you miss bacon?

MTT: Mushroom, Pea and Tarragon Pot Pies
 
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If you really do need meat, add leftover roast chicken to the pies before the lids go on.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 large onion, sliced and chopped
  • 100g quartered chestnut mushrooms
  • 100g halved and sliced portobello mushrooms
  • 100g peas, fresh or defrosted
  • 80ml double cream
  • a pack of ready made jus-rol puff pastry
  • 1 beaten egg
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C
  2. Fry the onion in a little oil until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5-10 minutes until browned and any liquid has evaporated.
  4. Add the peas, tarragon and cream. Bubble up for a couple of minutes and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cut 2 puff pastry lids according to the size of the dishes you are using, or use 1 larger one (I do this by putting my dishes face down on the pastry and cutting one cm around). Seal the edges with a fork.
  6. If you're quick you can create some fancy pastry art on to put on top (I did an 'A' and 'W' for 'Alice' and 'Will'). I wasn't quick enough in the photographed example and my lids sunk a bit.
  7. Brush with egg and bake for 25-30 minutes, until puffed and golden

16 Weeks Pregnant

 

Week sixteen has again been about a million times brighter than the preceeding weeks. I’d even go as far to say that, aside from a little extra tiredness, I feel normal again. NORMAL. I can cook again, I can clean, I can take Elfie swimming, go shopping and am generally happy. It’s a Christmas miracle!

It’s only now looking back on the last three months that I’ve realized what a complete period of insanity it’s been. That’s a quarter of the year right there that I lost to nausea, exhaustion and generally being a bitch. Poor Will feels even better than I do I think; as much as I always wanted to have another baby the idea to have one so soon originated with him. Althought I was on-board with it I think me telling him constantly “this is all YOUR fault… YOUR stupid idea” took its toll and there will be no more of that nastiness.

There was never a point when I didn’t want to have this baby, but when you’re sobbing  on the floor because you feel so wretchedly ill and bone-tired it’s difficult to remember the reasons why you put yourself through this. I think it was almost worse than last time as I’d already been through it once before; I knew that the horrendousness would last 3 months whereas when I was pregnant with Elfie I kept convincing myself it’d be over ‘soon’. Again I marvel at the body’s capacity to forget and I worry about a potential baby number three now I’ve committed my first trimester experiences to paper (or blog). Right now I don’t think I could face going through it all again, especially not with two kids. I would rather do anything, ANYTHING, than go through that again.

This week has seen a really big work project coming to an end. I have worked my socks off on it since October and I am delighted to now take a few weeks off with Elfie – shopping, doing Christmassy things and napping. However, we have also had some bad news as we found out we have to move house again. Six weeks after moving us in our landlords have decided to sell up for their own financial reasons so we have started looking for a new place. We love this house to death and the long-term plan was always to buy it once our Nottingham house sold and we were more settled business-wise so it’s a shame this has come so soon… We’ve talked through every option available to us and right now purchasing another house just isn’t viable and I’m not prepared to stretch ourselves so much financially before baby comes along. If it’s meant to happen, it will.

Legally we have the house til April, but who wants to move at 8 months pregnant (done this once, it’s not fun). We want to stay in the village so will sit tight until Dream House mk II comes along. Or February, whichever happens sooner, then we’ll expand our search area slightly.

 

In other pregnancy news I now have sinusitis, yet another quirk I knew nothing about before I had Elfie. Apparently this is quite common during pregnancy, who knew? It makes walking when it’s cold pretty unbearable on my poor ears. I also have a touch of heartburn already and cramp in my leg. All a bit annoying, all I would take over exhaustion.

The bump is still nano sized and really only visible after a) I’ve eaten lots of carbs, or b) when my bladder is full. I did buy some maternity jeans last week though as my usual ones give me an interesting muffin top. They’re a little loose but I’m sure I’ll grow into them, and last time I hopefully started wearing maternity jeans at 8 weeks. So that’s an improvement.

I feel a little in pregnancy limbo right now – I don’t look especially pregnant, feel especially pregnant or act especially pregnant. I want to feel the baby kicks!!

Week 14
Week 12
Week 6/8

MTT: Kale and Bacon Hash

Warning: this recipe will change your life.

Ok, it probably won’t, but it might make dinner time more fun a couple of times a month. A version of this appeared in Olive magazine about four years ago and I have never looked back; it’s one of Will’s favourite winter suppers and I love it because it means we get to eat a meal covered in ketchup. Plus, a fried egg for dinner? YES PLEASE.

The Kale season runs from September to February and you can buy it in bags ready chopped and washed from the supermarket. I’ve tried cooking it a few different ways but this is my absolute favourite. You’ll notice that my egg in the photograph is particularly well-done, as I am a dutiful pregnant person I fried both sides to make sure there was no raw yolk. Usually I like either a gooey poached egg or a fried one with a soft yolk.

These mini-roasties are just divine, and in my opinion are the best way to eat potatoes. Plus they take about half the time to cook which is a big bonus.

Kale and Bacon Hash
 
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Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Half a bag of washed kale
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 6 rashers of bacon
  • 2 eggs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Start by tossing the cubed potatoes in approximately half a tablespoon of olive oil, season them and put in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C for around 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
  2. Meanwhile chop the bacon into small pieces (I use a pair of scissors for ease) and heat in a large saucepan in a little more oil on a medium heat.
  3. When the bacon is cooked add the kale and stir well. Put a lid on the saucepan to steam the kale for around 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, poach or fry your eggs.
  5. When the kale is cooked add the potato to the saucepan and stir well.
  6. Serve on a plate, topped with the egg. Add loads of ketchup and enjoy in front of the TV