Thursday, 30 January 2014

We Like to Read: Oh No, GEORGE!

Oh No, GEORGE! by Chris Haughton (he of A Bit Lost fame) is our current favourite. The word 'George' is now in my toddler's vocabulary (although it sounds more like jshhhjjjjjj) as she likes to request it at least once a day. 

George is a dog. Quite a normal dog really, (apart from the whole talking thing), as when he's left alone in the house, he sees things he likes and can't quite resist them. Hence the nam-nam-nam-ing (that's what George does to the cake, in 20-month-old speak) of the chocolate cake and other atrocities. But it's not all bad. When Harris (George's owner) returns home, George is suitably reproached and tries to make it up to him. They then go out on a walk (which is surely what George needed to do at the start of the book?!) and George shows his new level of self-control. Well, nearly.

The illustrations in this book are very bold and very orange. Unlike any illustrations we've come across before - they're reminiscent of old pixelated computer game graphics. It's the eyes that get me though - they look so simple, yet are so spot on with conveying the intrigue, guilt, or wild manic excitement on George's face. 

This book is a great one to read aloud (plus I can't help but do a gruff dog voice for George) - I can see it's going to be a firm favourite in our house for a while.

'Shh! We have a plan' by Chris Haughton is coming out in Feb - judging by the snippets on his website (see more here) it's one to check out. Those colours!

(This book is like the modern, canine version of Joyce Grenfell's 'George! DON'T do that...')

Joining in with Tigerlilly Quinn's We Like to Read series.


Sunday, 26 January 2014



This strip of paper has been stuck down on our living room floor all week, ready to be scribbled on whenever the mood strikes. She scribbles away, and when I ask her what she's drawing, she tells me it's a cat, a lion, a baby or a fish. I guess they could be if you squint your eyes a bit...
(Plus, check out that hurdling pose! Making her mama - and her Grandad no doubt - smile!)

Joining in over at Practising Simplicity.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

This Week: January #4

I've felt productive this week. Feeling on top of things, positive, getting things done before deadlines - and I even managed to make time to read my book (speaking of which, I'm NEVER going to get it finished before February!) and slob out on the sofa eating too much chocolate and these marmalade muffins. Plus we had an Ikea delivery on Saturday morning so are now the proud owners of a new armchair and reading lamp, plus a frame for the wordy map in the last pics. Anything that features Jane Austen, cream teas, cider and bacon can't be bad, eh?!

Last Sunday was glorious - blue skies and bright sun. Thought we'd head up to the hills. Lovely morning out. Make the most of the sunshine. Nope, the toddler-shaped one had other ideas. After much toddler whinging and trying to distract with sticks/dogs/chasing, we gave up and headed to the natural play area. Where she promptly face planted into the mud. We went home. Ah well, I snapped a few nice pics, plus she loved seeing all the dogs out for a walk. Positive thinking and all that.

This week has also seen the introduction of the p.o.t.t.y. In no way being used for its intended use yet (it's mostly either storage or a seat for teddy) but we'll see how we go. She thinks it's a funny thing to sit on at the moment. Any tips are gratefully received for when we do start!

With lots of indoor time to escape the rain, we've been drawing lots of meows, raarrrs and baybeees. We've been trying to make the most of the dry patches between showers too - a quick dash around the garden never fails to cheer up any toddler grumps. Watching the cars, spotting newly springing snowdrops, and enjoying the winter sun that makes the next door flats look quite lovely.

This has been a good food week too - Nigel Slater's Simple Thai noodle soup was definitely one to repeat, as was the Mexican dinner of spicy beef and homemade guacamole.

On the playlist this week: Wanderlust by Wild Beasts and All Points by James Vincent McMorrow. Lovely stuff.

Have a great weekend all.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Watch the Birdie: the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

With a girl who is ever keen to watch the birds 'namnamnam' all the food up outside, it seems perfect timing that it is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend.

We don't tend to get many birds in our garden due to the ever-present neighbourhood cats, but I'm hoping the friendly felines might make an exception over the weekend and let the birds in. I'm also hoping to spot something slightly more exotic than the blackbirds and seagulls we normally get. (I'm thinking blue tits or goldfinches, not parrots or flamingoes...).

I've been a bit slack at putting food out for the birds recently - they tend to get our leftover lunch crusts, but I have recently remembered to restock the bird feeder. Last year I made some lard bird feeders to hang up (like these) - and have just found the bag of bird seed I'd bought, so the birds might be getting a food treat soon.

If you fancy taking part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, all you need to do is register on the RSPB website, and then spend an hour of your weekend watching the garden and recording the birds you see.

Happy birdwatching!

Image from here.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Thinking of summer - Sarah Raven seed giveaway

In my most recent post for the Sarah Raven blog 'Garlic and Sapphire', I wrote about my gardening resolutions for the year. Some points on my list were jobs that desperately need doing (like sorting out the veg beds), some are pipe dreams (I am in want of a shed) and some are lovely garden things that I want to do more of (like eating outside in the summer).

After joining in with Nature in the Home so much last summer, one addition I want to make to our garden is flowers. I want to fill our garden up with blooms so that I can regularly have jugs of flowers on the table and posies by the bed. While we are very fortunate that our garden already contains lots of well-established flowering plants, lots of them aren't very 'me'. I want less shrubs, and more flowers for cutting. A more relaxed feel to the garden.

After mentioning that I had my eye on the 'Butterfly Flower Mix' seeds on the Sarah Raven site, I was very excited to receive an email from the Sarah Raven team asking if I'd like to be sent a pack - yes please! The Butterfly Flower Mix contains Echium vulgare, otherwise known as Viper's Bugloss; Linaria 'Canon Went'; and Verbena Bonariensis. It's the Verbena I'm most excited about growing - I love the colour, and the airy arrangement of flowerheads and stems. Floral yet architectural.

The Sarah Raven team sent me two packs so I'm going to to give one away to one of you lovely lot...so if you fancy attracting lots of bees and butterflies to your garden, make sure you follow this blog via Google Friend Connect, and leave me a comment telling me your favourite flowers to grow - I need more inspiration of what to plant in our garden! The giveaway closes next Wednesday 29th January at midnight.

Sorry, UK readers only. I'll announce the winner next Thursday, and will send the seeds out by 2nd class post. Happy gardening!

Image from here.

******I've just numbered your comments and popped them in a random number generator - a packet of seeds will be winging their way to PinkCatJo! Email me your address to sittinginthekitchensinkblog@gmail.com and I'll get them in the post!******

Monday, 20 January 2014

20 months

Dear my favourite girl,

I know I always say it, but this past month has flown by. What with Christmas celebrations and travelling round the country, it doesn't feel like two seconds since I was considering how grown up 19 months sounded. And now we're at 20 months. That feels really grown up. In your twenties. Your 2nd birthday growing ever closer.

At 20 months old you are...

Loving: baby (it's often one of your first words when you wake, and you love to drag her round the house with you. She's well loved), peeling your own satsumas, twinkle twinkle little star (it's enjoyed a recent renaissance), cheese (a perennial favourite that one), saying your own name (that was a very exciting day - you were so pleased with yourself), watching the birds from the window, seeing dogs and cats when we're out for a walk, carrying heavy things, eating risotto, helping to unload the dishwasher, horses, putting your shoes on, climbing up the attic stairs, running, veg fritters and fried eggs, sitting on the potty (just for fun at the moment, nothing productive!!), blueberries, drawing 'meows' (just scribbles, I don't have an art prodigy!), making mummy draw babies, wearing your wellies, roast dinners, poking things with sticks.

Not liking: Going in the pushchair when you want to walk, having sticky things on your hands, having to share toys, being made to wear a bib when you decide they are horrible. 

Favourite words: mama, dada, down, deddy, baybeeee, gone, bah (bunny), baa (sheep), brmmm, shoes, keys, cheese, zip, drink, swing, zzzz (bee buzz), raa raa (the noisy lion, but has come to mean all things tv!), round and round, maooo (cow), bubub (bubbles), bang!, ball, bowl, tea, tree, buhbeees (blueberries), dihdih (digger), titch, stih (sticker), nee-nah, train, choochoo, meeoowwww, nee-nah, sheeee (sleep), bee bees (blueberries), big (spoon), grrrr (yes!), mohhhh (no), jeeee (green, or any other colour), mehmar (grandma), dar (star) 

Sunday, 19 January 2014



This is my budding ornithologist. While at Grandma and Grandad's last weekend, she discovered she could climb up onto the old Church pew that lives by the back window. From here she had a clear vantage point from which to watch the seagulls, pigeons, robins and blue tits that flew down to eat up the bird seed and crusts (and even weetabix after one no-mummy-I'm-not-so-hungry morning!)

Since we've been home, we've been watching the birds from our living room window. The many cats that live in our area tend to scare away many of the visiting birds, but a few brave blackbirds have been pecking at our crusts and crumbs.

My favourite part of this bird watching? The 'nam nam nam' noise she makes when she sees the birds eating. Sweet!

This photo reveals how much of a window-cleaning slattern I am - it's filthy! Ugh. All the better for reflecting that sweet reflection though, and if you look closely, you can see her lip print - to show just how close she tries to get to those birds! 

Linking up with the 52 Project over at Practising Simplicity.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

This Week: January #3

This week hasn't been the easiest. I can't put my finger on the reason why, but everything has just felt a bit blah. I'm sure the weather doesn't help, and nor does the early-waking cold-y toddler, the forgotten lunches, the freelancing deadlines and growing damp patches on bedroom walls.

With all the blah, my camera lay forlorn and forgotten about in the cupboard for a few days. I took no 'proper' photos between the Saturday afternoon river snap and Thursday. Unheard of! My camera is obviously a good mood barometer.

But enough of the down-in-the-dumps. Friday I shook it off and got cooking. Guaranteed to cheer me up. Butternut squash roasted with rosemary - originally destined for soup, it ended up getting thrown into risotto tonight with chorizo and a pinch of chilli flakes for good measure. Blueberry cakes were on the menu too. My little one wasn't so keen to help me stir up the mix it seemed, and was more interested in sticking her fingers in the margarine and making herself turn upside down. Each to their own. A slight variation on this recipe, as we only had one egg and had to replace the soured cream with yoghurt. A tad sink-y due to the missing egg, but they taste good.

It's that time of year again too - marmalade season. 2kg of Sevilles came back from the greengrocers with us yesterday and we (I persuaded R to help me - the lure of homemade marmalade was too much to resist) spent this evening chopping, and chopping some more. We developed marmalader's elbow I think. Tomorrow night will be the boiling up, and filling the house with the gloriously orange perfume. I just hope I have enough jars...

Sifting through a stack of old postcards and pictures in our local charity shop perked up my Friday too - yellowed holiday postcards from the '70s, photos of ancient Greek temples and the card correspondence between one local lady and her friend. I had to bring home a few, including this card with a small corner of wallpaper sellotaped on for the reader's perusal.

Tomorrow is destined for sunshine so we're heading out somewhere for a wander. A week of crafting and more cooking awaits I think.

Hope you're having a lovely weekend.

Friday, 17 January 2014

The Year in Books: January

Pictured is today's nap time view...

I often write about the picture books we read in our house, but very rarely, despite my best intentions, have I got further than briefly mentioning any books that are piled on my bedside table.

The last time I wrote about books was the summer - I rather optimistically came back from the library with a stack of books, with the aim of taking a few on holiday. Of course, you can guess what happened: I managed to read half a book on holiday, while the others languished in a stack, taunting me, until they were returned to the library (with a few fines to pay...). While I still love browsing the shelves in the library, I fear unless I know I'll read it straight away, I can't max out my library card on lovely tomes anymore.

I recently decided I'd try to read every night - even if it's just a page or two - so I can get back into books properly and work my way through my current want-to-read list. And as if by fate, I then read Laura's blog post about trying to read a book a month. I, and many other bibliophiles, asked if we could jump on her book-reading band-wagon: she said yes! Laura has created a link-up so that we can share books we have read and would recommend (or not...) to others, plus a Pinterest board that makes me want to create floor-to-ceiling-shelves in every room of my house.

The Goldfinch is my current reading material (along with many others it seems - I keep seeing it mentioned!) With elegant and enthralling prose, it makes me wish I could spend every evening curled up reading it. I will keep schtum about the subject matter and events until next month - hopefully I will have finished it by then so I can share my thoughts.

After The Goldfinch, I have a few other books waiting in line that have recently caught my eye:
* Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
* Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
* Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe
* The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy (that was one of my summer library finds that I never finished) * Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell

Any others I should add to my list?

See you in February for (no doubt) lots of cooing about The Goldfinch, plus deliberations about what I'll be reading next.

Saturday, 11 January 2014


Concentrating face. Trying hard to put her shoes on. At least they're on the right feet...this time!


Joining in over at Practising Simplicity.

Friday, 10 January 2014

This Week: January#2

Back to normal routine this week. It's been good. Catching up with friends, visiting the library, pottering round the charity shops, visiting the park - plus squeezing in a little freelancing, which is an exciting way to start the new year.

There's been a lot of clearing out and reorganising going on in our house. The kitchen has been blitzed (so much so that we often can't remember where the marmite/baking trays/flour now lives) and next up is the dining room. I made a start on the recipe books at the start of the year and finally (it's only taken me two years...) sorted out the stack of ripped out recipes I've been hoarding. In doing so, we've rediscovered some old favourites and found some new recipes to try. The perfect nudge to get us out of the meal-planning rut we seem to have got into. This week we tried a fragrant and chilli-laden Vietnamese beef pho; the perfect dinner for a damp, cold day.

I said here that I wanted to make/find more time for creativity. This week I started as I mean to go on.
Some evenings I left the laptop unopened and the TV off and instead wielded a glue gun, chopped up paper, planned other projects and felt productive. These paper covered tins are destined to be a pen pot in the hallway, a make up brush holder and container for some paperwhites. I'm now eyeing up the contents of our tins cupboard...

Snail mail has been making a reappearance this week too. I got out of the habit of sending letters by the end of last year, but after being given lots of lovely notecards for Christmas (including the lovely owls above) I have no excuse.

Soundtrack to the week: The dark, moody Daughter. Hearing their 6music session played again on the radio this week has made me re-listen to the whole album.

Hope your week has been good to you.

Sunday, 5 January 2014


This girl is growing up. She likes to peel her satsuma herself now. (And then moments after this photo was taken, hold it aloft, shout "bang!" and then hurl it on the table... She did eat it, once it had lost its ball-like status and reverted to being a satsuma).

Here we are again. I wasn't sure if I was going to take part this year, or if I was going to share the weekly photos, but I can't resist joining in. Last year, taking the weekly portrait allowed me to capture all the stages in her development from baby to toddler. This year I want to try and capture the different aspects of her character. Her likes and dislikes. What she can, and can't yet, do. Catch a glimpse of the little girl she is rapidly turning into.

Joining in over at Practising Simplicity.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

This Week: January #1

A changed format of my This Week posts for the new year. Keeping the photo-diary nature, but adding in a few extras. Those little things that I want to share but don't warrant an entire blog post of their own. Including what we're reading, watching, eating...and anything else that catches my eye.

This week has been that funny limbo between the busyness of Christmas and the return to our normal playgroup/music/swimming routine. Cabin fever has set in this week - the torrential downpours have meant going outside has been very unappealing. So lots of books have been read, lots of colouring in has been done, and, of course, lots of playing with baybeeee. Plus clip clopping on the new giant pink horse she had for Christmas. Our tidyings and sortings meant we've rediscovered some forgotten things, including the Barbie fridge magnets that graced my student fridge nearly ten years ago. They're pretty popular already.

New Year's Eve was a quiet one. Nice dinner, G&Ts, and in bed by 11pm. The giant fireworks display that was going on somewhere close made sure we did technically see in the New Year though. We caught up on the last series of Sherlock in preparation for the new series of Sherlock on New Year's Day. Fast moving, funny and full of such clever ideas - we're big fans.

We've had a change in toddler sleeping patterns this week, much to our surprise and relief. Naps seem to be getting a tad longer and mornings have been later. I squeezed in a few reading moments while I was awake and she still slept (very bizarre!).

A brief break in the rain on Thursday meant we dived outside to make the most of the garden to catch up on some jobs and collect dried beans (me) and poke things with sticks (her).

Friday was back to rain, but we didn't care as we had a big slab of slow roast beef brisket that needed cooking for 6 hours.  This is the second time we've cooked this over Christmas. The first time for a family Christmas gathering, and then again for a dinner with friends last night. We broke out the Sipsmith gin (again...) and played Trivial Pursuit until the small hours.

With two of us around to share toddler distraction duties, I've been able to catch up on a few iPlayer programmes this week too. The Unbelievable Truth never fails to make me laugh, Alex Horne Presents the Horne Section features a new favourite comedy carol, and Michael Rosen talking about baby talk on Word of Mouth was so interesting. It's fascinating how naturally and unconsciously we change our voices to talk to babies. It's making me want to re-read the speech chapters in David Crystal's How Language Works.

Hope your week has been a lovely one.