Category: Little Musings

Help! I’m Turning into a Couch Potato

Before the start of the new year, my husband and I decided to treat ourselves and we bought a new smart TV.  We buy all of our appliances from Woolacotts in Bude.  This isn’t a sponsored post, by the way, we’re just really pleased with their customer service, so if you live in Cornwall or Devon and need to purchase any appliances, do head over, I’m sure they’ll be as good as our local one.

Ben, our ever-helpful salesman from Woolacotts helped us choose a Sony Bravia smart TV.  When I mentioned that we wanted to subscribe to Netflix, he shook his head and said “Oh you don’t need Netflix” and introduced us to an app called KODI.  Apparently this app will allow you to streamline all kinds of TV shows and movies, even new movies or ones that hasn’t even been shown in movie theatres yet.  Is it legal?  Yes, it is.  To quote entertainmentbox.com.

Kodi is a piece of streaming software designed to display on a range of devices, and that means it’s perfectly legal.

I know that it sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t.  There are times when the movie you want to watch won’t be available for streaming.  But we don’t have any problems with that, especially when it means not having to pay for subscription!

So yep, my #wotw is TV.  And yes, I’ve also officially been turned into a couch potato.  To be fair though, I do watch while doing chores, especially ironing and yes, gasp, I know, I’m probably the only one who still irons.  Posted this photo on my Instagram account a few days ago:

And all the comments I received was that apparently, ironing is an extinct chore.   I can’t do without ironing, one of my small-joys is having freshly laundered and ironed sheets.  Love it too much to want to give it up.

And meet my TV partner:  Doc.

Now excuse since I have to catch up with my Grey’s Anatomy viewing.  I want to watch that episode where Derek Shepherd – McDreamy dies.

The Reading Residence

Word of the Week: 2016

This is might be considered a belated post, since we’re well into 2017 now.  Strange, but usually when the start of a new year has begun, it takes me awhile to get used to writing whatever new year we’re in, but not this year.  I think I’m used to it already.

The beginning of 2016 was a difficult time for us as a family.  We were going through the process of selling our home and buying a house we’ve fallen in love with.  If you’ve been reading my blog for some time now, you might remember that all that fell apart late March. The whole experience traumatised us, not only because house-buying-selling in England as everyone knows (well at least the ones who’ve gone through it) is a pain in the neck.  But mostly it was because of the incompetence of our solicitor and the Cornwall council but I won’t get into the details, that’s all in the past now.  Good-bye 2016, I am so over you.

The year improved as we found a different house, moved in, licked our wounds clean and eventually settled in our new home.  This year our little family has also managed to form new-significant relationships with special people, that definitely was a bonus and almost made up for our harrowing experience earlier in 2016.

While we or I don’t have any grand plans this year, my only wish is that there would be continued good health in our little family, my family back home and my extended family here in England.

My word of the week, although it isn’t a word, but a number is 2016.

What is yours?

The Reading Residence

Did Christmas Really Happen?

I know it’s only the second week of the new year and already the Christmas season seems like a thing of the past already – that is so 2016!  Already I have tulips on my mantelpiece already which really makes me happy.  In spite the dreary days and cold weather, dare I say it? I think spring might just be on its way.

Of course, I see evidence that it did happen.  I still have a Christmas tapestry given to me by my in-laws which we put in the landing upstairs, still lying on the floor, waiting to be put away in the box.  I keep forgetting!  And since the weather has been really bad lately, I’ve kept a couple of fairy lights and strung them over our bookcase in the living room.  In the late-afternoon, when it’s really depressing and I’m sitting in our lounge glaring at our fire that won’t work again, I switch the fairy lights on and it cheers me up instantly.  It’s all about the small joys people 😉

And we actually still have what T calls a “chocolate” corner, which really should be a “sweets” corner since we also have candy cane left-overs which we used to decorate the tree with and the chocolate!  There are only  a  few left now, but I sometimes wonder if it’s somehow a “magic” corner, because no matter how little there are left, and no matter how much T and the Historian eats them (they both love sweets), there’s always some left over!

January here in England is not for the faint-hearted.  I think you have to be made of sterner stuff to let it not get to you.  But my skin is getting thicker now, calloused even.  I won’t lie and say it’s not affecting me or my mood, but I’m getting better at this dealing-with-awful-winter-days.  I get on with it, or as my dear mother-in-law once told me “You just plod on”.  So here I am plodding on… get on with January!

What about you?

Are you ready for spring too?

Of Mad Men and Talks of Home

How many times have we heard that?  Or read it?  It’s a lovely saying isn’t it, comforting even.  For the longest time though, every time I mention home, I always mean, my home-country, where I’m from.  When I say “I’m going home” or “I want to go home”, it usually means back to the Phil, when in truth, I haven’t lived there since 2007.

Ever since we’ve had T, my husband and I planned that once she finishes primary school, we’d head back to live there.  If my husband had his way, he’d stick to the plan, or even make it happen tomorrow if he could.

It just doesn’t work that way, does it?  We’re thinking of his parents, they are getting older and we wouldn’t want to leave them.  And then because of current events, we are having to re-think our plans.

A few nights ago, feeling disheartened with the way things are also turning out in England and work-wise, he turned to me and said “Fancy living in some other country in Europe, say France?”  I replied, “Can’t.  We don’t speak French.  I don’t think we can survive with the little French words we know”.

The truth is, ever since a mad man has been elected to the highest office in my country, the desire to go home is slowly being dampened.  That little flame is diminishing bit by bit as I read the latest news online, although my husband thinks he isn’t a mad man and calls him a “fraud”, a jokester.  Sadly, I think he is right.  And because of this clown, I don’t think of my birth-country as home anymore.

Why would I want to live in a place where I won’t feel safe, where I won’t feel my husband and daughter will be safe? And to quote my favourite actress, Meryl Streep who has been in the limelight lately because of her speech in the recent Golden Globe awards:

And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.

Meryl Streep

Sadly, this is the world we live in right now.  I don’t think there is a place safer in this world where we can move to, to ensure the safety of our daughter, digging the deepest hole in the ground won’t do to hide from the bullies in the world.

My home is my family.  At the moment, it is this cold detached 400-year-old house by the coast where I’m finding out its walls get mouldy in the winter and the fires won’t work all the time.  Indeed, home is where the heart is.  In my home, no bullies are allowed.  And I also like what TS Elliot wrote …

Home is where one starts from.

Indeed it is.

Where is home to you?

Hello January, Hello 2017

Lots of people go mad in January.  Not as many as in May, of course. Nor June. But January is your third most common month of madness.

Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Kanary

And so Christmas and the New Year has come and gone.  I don’t know about you, but it always feels like it happens in a bit of a blur, like a photograph taken in motion, a fusion of colours and memories, over and done with, until the next Christmas.  Hope everyone has had a lovely time, albeit the madness.

Ah January, hello you, broody-grey-skies and cold, you.  It’s the time of the year where everything seems to happen in slow-motion, especially the days and all the noises, the ticking of the clock, a phone ringing in an empty house is amplified, as if the sound is in your head.  No, I haven’t gone bonkers, at least, I don’t think so.  But that’s how I feel at the moment.  The Historian has gone off and dropped my cousin at the University of Reading.  He also has a meeting tomorrow, so it’s just me, Doc and Boots bumbling along together in this cold-bleak January day.  T comes home later, only then will the house awaken.

Back to Basics

I’ve also decided to go back to basics with this whole blogging business.  Last year, I thought I’d give it a go and try to make it more “commercial”, whatever that means.  I fell in a rabbit hole of blogging groups and learning about DAs, and pumping up your stats and all that and the more I did it, the more I felt that every fibre in me was protesting, so I’m done with that now.  Don’t get me wrong though, while I loved the community and the bloggers behind them, in the end, it just became too much for me.

I guess it also comes down to personality.  I’ve always been a solo person.  I like doing my own thing and I’ve also been blogging on and off for more than a decade now.  Does anyone remember blogspot?  I guess that also shows my age…

I’m going back to writing the way I want, because I have this need to write.

I’m not going to be a hypocrite though and say that I’m going to stop accepting sponsored and collaborative posts.  If they come and it’s a good fit with Little Steps, I will say yes.  I’ve learned though to be choosy on what projects and fees to accept.  At the moment, admittedly most of the time, I decline the offers especially when it is too low.

Dear PRs, I do value my time and what I do and write in this little blog of mine.  No, I won’t just accept your offer, even though you all act as if I should be thrilled with the fact that you’ve gotten in touch.  Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way and no, I don’t accept follow-links.  Thank you for getting in touch with Little Steps.

I’m still going to join a few linkies like #countrykids, mostly because I’m friends with the blogger who runs it.  I have a couple of other favourites too like #animaltales and #wotw.  Linkies I’ve been joining in the past couple of years, I do enjoy linking-up with these lovely bloggers.

That’s what 2017 holds for me – going back to the basics, finding my voice again, being authentic.  I wish I could declare that I have big dreams or plans for 2017.  But I don’t.  Like most frustrated writers, I still have that unwritten novel in my head, countless short-stories to edit and write, poems screaming to be written.  I’m afraid I have forsaken my muse.  I’m ready to go down on my knees and plead with her/him – so mote it be.

Any big plans for 2017?

The Story Behind some of our Christmas Decorations

I got this idea of buying a special Christmas tree decoration each year and allowing T to choose it from one of my oldest blogger friend Kate of Did That Just Happen Blog.  She did it with her son who is all grown up now and is in University.  Today she has a Christmas tree filled with wonderful memories!  I love that idea.

We started when T was three-years-old, I wish I had started when she was one.  But better late than never.

This was her first ever special decoration, we got it in a National Trust property where she also met her first Tudor Father Christmas, you can read all about it here.

In 2014, we spent Christmas with my in-laws at Woburn Sands.  While there we visited Frosts Garden centre to specifically choose a special Christmas tree ornament, luckily they were on sale.  T choose a vintage Father Christmas and Christmas Reindeer:

This is made of glass and is very delicate.  I used to decorate our kitchen in the old house, so of course, I also did it this year, especially since it’s the first room you’ll see once you step in our front-door.

I’ve decorated it with a garland and hang some of my glass baubles including the vintage Father Christmas.  Not clear on the photo is the vintage Christmas reindeer seen on the left side.

And of course, also decorated the mantel shelf above the kitchen fire.

Yes, I also have Christmas crockery, some of them were given to me by my lovely in-laws.  They know how much I love anything to do with Christmas.

And this was last year’s special choice:  Mr. and Mrs. Clause kissing.

And this year’s choice was a very sparkly penguin.  T said her Christmas rabbit needed a friend.  She bought that when we picked up our tree from the tree farm and that is why, when you have a small child, it’s impossible to have a “theme” going on in your Christmas tree.  I think all parents with young children have the “everything-and-anything-goes-theme”.

Now for my favourite Christmas tree ornaments:

I have a thing for glass Christmas ornaments, especially baubles.  I blame my mother for this, yes, she loves them too.  I couldn’t sleep last night, so I had the iPad in bed and was browsing through M&S’ website and was drooling over their Christmas decors which were on sale.  I told my husband about it this morning and he laughed and teased me and called it “Dean’s Christmas Porn” and then told me to just buy the blimming baubles, so I went online to purchase them and of course, they’re all gone.  Story of my life.

And I adore this little breakable Father Christmas, also vintage-looking.

I also love this angel ornament which I bought when we visited St. Michael’s mount in Penzance more than a few years ago.  I have this feeling though that it isn’t really a Christmas decoration, but is actually the Archangel Michael who supposedly appeared before local fishermen on the mount in the 5th century.  I don’t really care, I love seeing it up there on our tree.

And then there’s this tacky Christmas fire-guard my husband bought in Trelawney, a garden centre nearby.  There’s a little story attached to this one.  The Historian bought this fireguard not for this house, but for another house which had an open-fire and two wood-burning stoves.  We were supposed to move into it early this year.  We were all packed and about to exchange when the house-sale fell through.  If you’ve been following me for some time now, you  may have just read about the whole fiasco in past posts.

When we moved in our present home, my husband looked at our gas-fire and said, I’m still using that blimming Christmas fire guard  even if you all point and laugh.  To be fair, nobody is pointing and laughing, but yep it’s out and is staying there all through out the Christmas season, whether I have a say or not.

What about you?

Do you do this tradition?  Or have one of your own?

Saying Goodbye to Chats with Mums and Dads

When I first started the series four years ago, I primarily did it because I was curious about how other parents managed this whole parenthood business.  I needed some advice, T was barely two-years-old and I didn’t really have any close mum friends back then.  I wanted to know other parents’ thoughts and their opinions.

The first year, I began featuring my friends who were based all over the world, most of them weren’t even bloggers.  It was only during the middle of 2013 when I started interviewing parent bloggers, and my first one was a Chat with a Dad: The Secret Father.  (Do scroll down to read his interview).  I didn’t feature only UK bloggers, but reached out to parent bloggers from all over the globe as well.  Do have a little nosey around and read each post when you have the time.

I hate goodbyes, who doesn’t?  I just feel that the series has come to its natural end.  Paulo Coelho was so right when he wrote:

It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.

But before I forget I’d like to say thank you to all of those who have been featured, my friends and of course to past bloggers who went on this little series of mine, even though I’m really just a little unknown blogger.  THANK YOU!  

I’m not going to delete the series from my blog, so it will still be here if anyone would be interested in reading them.  You’ll find lots of inspiring quotes about parenthood and how parents cope.  I know I did, though some bloggers I just found out aren’t even blogging anymore, and some are not just that active either, but still definitely worth a read!

I love what Pieter, a parent blogger from South Africa wrote (Click on Ah Dad below for full interview)

But being away from them, and feeling that gigantic hole in my heart as I sit on a plane, that is the one thing crappy thing about being a dad. You know those moments when you realise part of your essence is missing”

Or what Katie Kirby of Hurrah for Gin said when asked “If you could give yourself advice about motherhood, before becoming one what would it be? (scroll down and click on Hurrah for Gin to read full interview)

I wish I could tell myself to enjoy the early days and cuddles without worrying, they go so quickly! When I see people with tiny babies sleeping on their chests I feel sad that I ever thought it was more important to get them to nap in a basket”

2013

Kala Barba Court

Maria Mambo

Asanempoka

Melissa Queyquep

Cristina Delakovias

The Secret Father

Surprise Mama

Pecora Nera

Sonya Cisco

Motherhood is an Art

The Adventures of Sonny and Luca

Mom Solo

2014

Hurrah for Gin

Life as a Widower

3 Children and It

Mutterings of a Fool

Did That Just Happen?

Ah Dad

My Toddler Rules

Daddy Space

The Vanilla Housewife

Jogging Dad

Life in the Wylde West

Slouching Towards Thatcham

2015

Circus Queen (Now called Beautiful Tribe)

Chasing Wilderness

Mummy Tries

Snoozing on the Sofa

Solo Mama

One Dad 3 Girls

Space for the Butterflies

Northern Dad

Free Range Chick

Living in the Langhe

Wild About Here

Goodbye Pert Breasts

2016

The Comeback Mum

One Good Dad

Coombe Mill

Danny UK, the Bearded Blogger

Chasing Esme

Looking for the Postman

PODcast

M & M’s Daddy

Five Little Doves

Man VS Pink

Absolutely Prabulous

OMG It’s A Girl

A big thank you to those who’ve followed the series through out all the years!

All About the Cold

I knew when we first moved in our new home that it would be colder than in our old house where it was always snug and cozy.  In the winter, friends who’d visit would always comment on how warm our house was as soon as they entered.  We lived in a terraced house back then, that’s why.  Now we live in a detached house with no neighbours.  In spite the central heating, and two fires in the kitchen and living room, I’m still cold all the bloody time.  To be fair though, both fires aren’t on all the time.  We only put them on when we’re using the rooms.  What’s the point in wasting the fire if there isn’t anyone in?  Sometimes I think we only heat the rooms for our pets.  Thank goodness for wooly socks.  I love them.

In spite the cold, T still complains that she’s feeling warm.  What’s it with these kids?  When it’s cold, they complain about being warm.  I can understand when they’re running around like loonies, of course all that energy burnt will keep them warm, but at night?  Apparently, T isn’t the only one, a few  of my mum friends commented that their little ones are exactly the same.

And speaking of the cold, I’m noticing mold have started to show up in some of our walls and ceilings.  I try to wipe them off as soon as I notice them, but before long, they are there again.  Sigh.

***

I think I’m slowly getting into the Christmas spirit.  We’re going away in the first weekend of December, so my husband said that it would be okay to start decorating this weekend.  Normally, I’d do the dance of joy, but he was surprised when all he got was an “Oh okay”.

I’m hoping to be able to drop by our favourite garden centre after T’s ballet on Saturday.  They have a fabulous Christmas display and items.   I’m sure that will do the trick.

What about you?

Any exciting plans this week?

The Reading Residence

Five Christmas Gift Ideas for the Book Worm

I once did a “Five Valentine’s Gift Suggestions for the Book Worm“, since it’s almost Christmas, and  I’m trying to get myself into a festive mood, I decided to pen another one for the gift-giving season.  Let’s see if this will get me into the Chrissmassy mood.

I’m starting my list with books.  After all, it is a list for the book lovers.  It’s no secret how much I love beautifully made books, especially once with lovely illustrations.  I’m slowly building up my Folio Books Collection, they are all a dream.

 Hansel and Gretel, by the Brothers Grim

If you follow me over at Instagram, you’d probably noticed I posted a photo of this book already.  Sadly, I don’t have it … yet.  It’s a bit pricey at £250 but if you’re a book collector, I think it is so much worth it.  It’s not advisable though to buy it for your child, or maybe for older kids who know how to take care of books.

This beautifully illustrated book has 12 colourful plates reproduced from the copy of the first edition and text is printed on Caxton  wove paper.  I think it’s absolutely beautiful.  When I’m gone, I won’t be able to leave T a lot of money (unless I win the lottery), nor expensive jewellery (a few trinkets perhaps).  Rest assured though that she will have lovely books to hopefully, leave to her children too.

I Am” Sylvia Plath Necklace

While I’m not a big fan of words in a necklace (Is there even a term for that?), I do love this Sylvia Plath one.  For those who love poetry, or if you like Plath like I do, you might want to have this on your list.  It’s a quotation from her first novel “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart.  I am. I am. I am”.  It’s solid brass with 9 ct gold plating and can be extended if you prefer a longer necklace.  This book was like a bible to me when I was a teenager, her words will always be special.

I’ve had this on my list for the longest time and it’s always out of stock, luckily it seems to be on stock at the moment.

sylvia_plath

Alice in Wonderland White Rabbit Lampshade

I love anything book-inspired, though admittedly don’t really have much of it.  Would love to have this White Rabbit lampshade.  For the price of £115, I’m just glad they included the cushion cover!

alice_in_wonderland_lamp

I do have a white wicker chair already.  All I need is that lovely lamp and cushion.

Wool Blanket

And of course, imagine being curled up in that arm-chair with this lovely soft Kilnsey Wool British made blanket wrapped around your legs in a chilly winter evening, kids asleep upstairs, with the Alice in Wonderland lamp on, giving you just the right amount to read your book, at the same time casting a lovely ambience in the room.  Now that’s what I call bliss.

Wool Blanket

Go Away I’m Reading Mug

And lastly, what’s a gift idea list without including a mug, right?  Priced at £8.99 – this lovely bone china mug is perfect for coffee, tea or hot chocolate, curled up in that white arm-chair (pictured above), legs wrapped in that wooly blanket, with your favourite book and the world outside, can disappear even for just a while.  And if anyone disturbs you, just point to your mug.  No need for words.

Remember, some times even book lovers like a variety of presents, not just books, but that won’t apply if you’re buying them Folio books. But then again, that’s just me.

Did you see anything you like from my list?

Are You feeling “Christmassy” yet?

I’m not.

Is “Christmassy” even a word?

Yesterday, as we got into the car to take T to her gymnastics class, Christmas songs filled the air.  I looked at my husband, and he said “Don’t look at me.  Blame her!” pointing at T who was busy mucking about with her friend in the car.”  Apparently, the-not-so-little-one has managed to find the Christmas CD which was part of her Now That’s What I call Disney CD which I thought I had hidden away.

Off we went as the song “Jingle Bells” blasted through the car, with me gritting my teeth, thank goodness, her new gym club isn’t that far from where we live.  I don’t think I’d survive the car ride if it were longer that 20 mins without turning into the Grinch.

I’m not just feeling the Christmas vibe just yet, which is a bit unusual, because I’m someone who loves and embraces everything about Christmas.  My husband recently brought all our decors from the shed because the boxes were being nibbled by mice.  If I were my “normal” self, I’d take this as a signal that it was okay to start decking the house with Christmas garlands with the husband protesting in the background and reminding me that “We agreed the first of December, remember?!”  And of course, I’d completely ignore him.

Nope, not feeling Christmassy yet.  In spite the Christmas adverts being shown on TV.  I finally saw the controversial John Lewis Christmas ad and found it really cute.  It didn’t upset or annoy me at all. But I did understand why some parents might be bothered about it.  If T asked me, I’d say. “The trampoline was from Santa, but he didn’t have time to set-it-up so  he asked the Dad to do it for him.  After all, he still has loads of presents to deliver all over the world right?” And she would believe me.

My mum sent me a photo of her beautiful Christmas tree.  Again, normally I’d feel really envious but I just admired it from afar and didn’t have the urge to go and pester my husband to get one before the agreed dates.

We’ve decided that it’s okay to decorate the house in the first of December.  We also have this Christmas tradition every year, where we go to a Christmas tree farm and choose a special tree.  But this happens usually on the second week of December.

What about you?

When do you start decorating your house and putting up your tree?

The Reading Residence