I just can't help it. Christmas is starting to arrive in our little home.
After thinking I'd got away without catching the dreaded bug that all of my boys had a week or so ago, it hit me…and it hit me hard. I'm finally out of my metaphorical sick bed and am trying to get back into the swing of things.
I never get ill…NEVER…so when I get ill, I get hit really hard and it takes forever to feel better.
I hobbled into the kitchen today, early afternoon and decided to get my baking groove on.
Christmas songs a singing, I made my pastry and made a meagre attempt at a little Christmas boogie. (I'm glad only the Tiny man was there to judge me..)
The smell….oh the smell coming from the kitchen….!
I'm utterly useless at the moment and managed half of a mince pie….what a terrible attempt. Thankfully Hugo was willing to help.
He has ended up having 3.5 so far….he was also witness to the rest of the raw pastry somehow disappearing, but won't tell me where it went…..oh…and I found him with the butter and a spoon….(odd child!)
::and lastly, I know it's annoying blurry, but I had to share this little picture of the pups. They're rather fond of each other.
One thing I'm never going to understand is the speed that tiny animals grow at.
My small, potbellied little puppy has grown into a long, lanky little super model, with ears that hint towards the spaniel.
She is utterly beautiful…butter wouldn't melt…
…but would it?
This beautiful little lady is definitely part Springer (and possibly has springs attached to her feet.)
Luckily she has that face. Just look into those eyes and tell her that she's 'orrible….can't do it? Didn't think so.
No. Don't fear, that angelic face isn't lying. Exuberant she may be, but she really is a bundle of happiness, without a bad bone in her body.
We're whipping her into shape with training lessons (no….not actual whipping…!) and she's the best pup there, despite being the youngest.
^^ Ok, there might be a little bit of bias there, but hey, I'm only human, and her being my furry baby, means I'm allowed to think she's awesome.
It's not all hugs and puppies (although there are many hugs from puppies). She's still weeing a lot, and has been given the nickname "Miss Piddle Paws" by Mr B. Our house can only be described as utterly crazy. I have some people commending me for having the energy for two young children and two energetic dogs (I don't have the energy) and others look at me in sympathy and call me crazy. (I think I probably agree with the latter.)
But this…….THIS is worth it all.
They adore each other. When they're not playing (noisily) together, they're curled up in a puppy pile….a rather adorable puppy pile.
Brrrrr….it's a wee bit chilly, isn't it. I'm embarrassed to admit that we have succumbed and have put on the heating, but with two ill boys in the house, I'm glad we did.
Cake seems to cure everything...except perhaps diabetes…but I'm pretty sure it cures almost anything.
I'm feeling far too festive for the time of year and have some cranberries in the freezer so what's a girl to do?
Well….turns out I didn't have that many cranberries in the freezer, but in a little margarine pot, snuggled next to the cranberries were some red currants.
After a flick through a muffin book for inspiration I saw a muffin recipe which used ground almonds with blueberries. Did I have ground almonds….a quick look in the cupboard told me yes….but not a huge amount. …Oh well, I'll make it work.
Don't they look heavenly?
So…here's the recipe
Cranberry, red currant and almond muffins
90g Cranberries (fresh or frozen are fine)
60g Red currants
225g plain flour
2tsp bicarb of soda
pinch of salt
115g caster sugar
40g ground almonds
6tbsp/90ml sunflower oil
40g flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan oven).
Pop your muffin cases in your tin or grease whatever you're using. (I used my mini cake tin pan, as I wanted teenie little muffins for small boys…and with the theory that if they're half the size then I can have twice as many………!)
Combine the flour, bicarb, salt, sugar and ground almonds together in a mixing bowl.
Beat the eggs together and add the oil and milk to them
Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients and the fruit and loosely combine them together. (Do not over mix. I had a few tiny lumps in my mixture, but believe me…they don't matter.)
Pour/spoon into the cases and sprinkle the flaked almonds on the top
Bake until golden. (20-25 mins)
Eat with a cup of Earl grey and feel smug that they most positively HAVE to be healthy, with all that fruit and nuts in them…!)
They are, quite frankly, scrumptious, with no frills. I'm really not a fan of icing, so these are my ideal kind of cakey goodness.
….Of course what would they be without a cup of the Earl
It's funny how you can miss the everyday little things that in the past you've taken for granted.
For me, recently, it's been coming downstairs in the morning and being able to walk into the kitchen without stepping in some bodily fluid lovingly left for me by a certain little dog.
Not having the house smell either of wee or of disinfectant….there seems to be no middle ground between the two, where there is just no smell.
But by jove I think we've got it.
This morning I came downstairs and did a little dance around the kitchen…NO WEE (or, dare I say it the worse of the two options…)
You see, Mr B and I have had enough. Lucy is 3 months now. That's an entire month of hating the morning with a passion. We started crate training her from day one, which means she's more than comfortable to call the crate her bed. Finally her bladder seems big enough to go through the whole night without a whimper or complaint.
8 hours of blissful sleep and a clean kitchen. I can't really ask for more, can I?
What's more, for various reasons, I've been completely off my morning cup of tea. The Earl and I have missed each other so.
This morning I had an urge to get reacquainted with him and his bergamot goodness. (well, I'm sure coming down to a war zone every morning would put everyone off breakfast)
Quite honestly I've been despairing for the past month as a few things are going to change for us in the near future. I wondered if we'd done the right thing. Whether I've been stretching myself too thin. Puppies are hard work (hello understatement) and with all the changes that are happening, it's hard to not feel bogged under.
With all this going on I've been having to remind myself to have some "me" time.
I've been stocking up on winter warming vegetable soup, which is utter heaven when it's cold and rainy outside.
I've been continuing my granny stripe blanket, which is now big enough to keep me (and my little helper) nice and toasty whilst I hook away.
Getting on top of this one little *by little I mean HUGE* achievement is a big step in the right direction.
I'm sure everything else will slot neatly into place.
Tiny man is in awe of Autumn. He wants nothing more than to run outside and cover himself in leaves.
He picks up sticks, conkers, seeds and presents them to me with an excited "Look!"
He rolls on the ground, relishing the crunch as he throws himself through the leaves.
And when those tiny little fingers are freezing (gloves….what on earth are you thinking) and he's ready to head in, we snuggle up on the sofa, under a blanket with a warm milk for him, a cup of tea for mummy.
I love watching my boys grow up, and Hugo's at that magical age where everything is still new.
There's a chill in the air which makes me incredibly grateful for snuggly coats and scarves.
My boys, however, have no idea what "cold" is. They'd probably be more than happy going outside completely starkers, so long as it got them out to play that 2 minutes quicker than it takes to put a coat and hat on.
Despite the cold, I love Autumn. It's the most obvious season, and there's no uncertainty when it arrives. I like knowing what to expect with my weather. None of this "is it Spring…is it Summer" malarky.
This year I seem to be spending a huge amount of time outside in the rain….wind…more rain…!
This little lady might possibly be the cause.
Golly gosh, I'd forgotten what having a puppy was like. (and in all honesty I much prefer adult dogs, who know where their place is in everyday life.) I do NOT like accidentally standing in poo and having to hop to the sink in order to wash………………<<Yes, this happened…!
Why get a puppy then?
With his self harm we were advised that it was because he needed canine companionship. After the terrible accident that happened with Dennis, we were told only to introduce a younger, female dog. Little Lucy is the result.
Oh, and isn't she beautiful?
We've seen a huge difference in Howard. You might remember that a week or two after adopting Denbo, Howard, whilst stopping chewing his back, legs and tummy, went a little bit odd with his behaviour. Running off and just not listening to anyone. Then…..well….I'd rather not think about the fight they had.
But this time…low and behold, the professionals were right.
Howard is still, completely and utterly Howard. He is incredibly happy with his little sister…….even when she uses him as a pillow…or mattress (yes, good luck with that when she's bigger than you, Howard!)
He's been fantastic teaching her how to act around adult dogs, and turns into a puppy himself, when they play.
"Yes….she can stay…"
And what about me, you ask…? I'm utterly exhausted. I've said it before and I'll say it again…Puppies are MUCH MUCH MUCH harder than babies.
So here I am, having a 10 minute break….in bed…with a cup of coffee (with the children's whole milk, no less) whilst one boy is napping, the other is watching Toy Story 3...
….and the dogs?
….well, I can't hear them, so they'll totally be being good…right?
I'm sure I won't go downstairs and find puppy destruction…