Thank fuck for that

November 30, 2009

Well, NaPoBloMo was tougher than I expected. There were days when I had to self-censor myself and deleted three or four semi-written posts. Days when I had nothing to post but drivel. And days when I posted drivel at 11.58pm! But nevertheless, it is done.

Hurrah. Now I can go back to my usual lacklustre efforts of posting once a week or so. Phew! (On the plus side, it has been good for my self-discipline (ha!) and also good to realise that I can always find something to post about, even when I don't think I can).

My favourite posts from the last thirty days were:

9 November - the photo of my old flat
11 November - music I shouldn't like
17 November - Monkey
23 November - Jedward (this month's finest hour)

And now, if you will excuse me, I must go and play Wizard 101 every waking moment, neglecting all else, until I have satisfied my obsession. I may be some time. Thank you and goodnight :)

Green family conversations, number 94875984773987

November 29, 2009

Alicey: I'm hungry.
Izzy: (laughing) I had dry cheese and crackers earlier.
Alicey: Without the cheese.
Izzy: Yeah... dry cheese and crackers, without the cheese.
Mattgreen: (repeating with incredulity) Dry cheese and crackers, WITHOUT THE CHEESE? So... just dry crackers then?
Izzy: (giggling) Yes!
Mattgreen: Be still my beating tastebud.


November 28, 2009

Generally I'm pretty good at chucking stuff away. When you've moved house as many times as I have (and if you haven't lost count yet, you probably haven't) you get used to cutting down your possessions at regular intervals. But my weak point is food magazines. My favourite two are Good Food and Waitrose Food Illustrated.

A couple of years back Mattgreen started complaining that our coffee table was rammed with back issues of my magazines. I nodded sagely and commented that I really should get round to snipping out the recipes I wanted to make. Time passed. Planets collided. The piles of magazines started creeping onto the floor.

Eventually I agreed to purchase a plastic box to keep my magazines in until I got round to looking through them. Here is the box:

That was a while ago now. Not only have I not got round to sorting through the box, I also haven't stopped buying more magazines. Hence:

(You can just about see the box underneath one of the piles). Sigh.

I can't bear to throw them away (especially as some of the are now about five years old - they're practically antique!) but I just never have time to go through them. In fact many of them (including the latest issue of Good Food, visible on the top of one of the piles) I have never even read.

There's no hope, is there? Sooner or later our house will look like this.

Funny ha ha

November 27, 2009

Isabel told me this joke today:

Q: How do you make Lady Gaga cry?
A: Poke her face

I am catching a train in 58 minutes

November 26, 2009

.. so no time for a proper post today!
I am going to a gig, with grown-up people who don't have children, and I am wearing my lovely new dress, and my shiny red shoes, and it is going to be very fabulous indeed.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

No shit Sherlock

November 25, 2009

I did the Big Personality Test which is part of some research for Child of our Time. The results showed that I scored off the scale on extroversion and highly on neuroticism, and not too well on anything else. Hmm.

(Click on the image to make it bigger)

A question for you.

November 24, 2009

When you hear that someone is the Chair of the Governing Body of a local primary school, do you think that person is:

a) All-powerful, mighty, commanding, dominant, forceful, impressive, dynamic, effective, assertive and in control.


b) A sucker who can't say no and is forever committing to things which are hideously time-consuming and yet strangely unrewarding.

Just wondering!!! Thx!!!


November 23, 2009

So, in case you're living in a cave, last night Jedward got evicted from the X-Factor. I was quite upset about it last night but I've moved on to anger now.

Firstly, the whole 'is it a singing competion?' debate. Clearly it isn't, or otherwise Jedward would've been evicted by Simon in the week they were up against Lucie, especially as he had been so vocal about how bad they were. So Dannii was under no obligation to keep Olly in this week, oh, except for everyone has to kow-tow to Simon Cowell because otherwise they could lose their jobs. Meanwhile Simon does whatever he likes as he's making buckets of cash either way.

I said to Mattgreen, "The production company should just sack Simon Cowell because everyone sucking up to him is really spoiling the show," and Matt said, "It's Simon Cowell's production company". I did not know that. Now I hate him even more. He's such a smarmy knob end.

Secondly, Jedward are such lovely boys. I like their silly haircuts and outfits, their fake American accents and their cute baby faces. They're definitely the best-looking out of the boys this year. But mostly: they work really hard on their choreography, their singing is actually improving and their rapping isn't bad. I would've happily seen them walk away with the whole thing, and now I think it's unlikely they will ever cross our screens again, and I think that's a shame. Did I mention I've voted for them three weeks in a row? A rare show of support considering I merrily watched three series of BB without ever feeling the need to pick up the phone.

And finally - now that Jedward have gone, what is the point of X-Factor? I also only found out yesterday that now everyone sings TWO songs each week - obviously Cowell doesn't want to cut the program length and lose out on advertising revenue! Two abysmal out of tune performances from Lloyd, two painful soul/MOR ballads from Everyone-Hates-Danyl, two bog-standard dull-as-ditchwater efforts from Olly and two of whatever drivel Joe rolls out to great applause. Stacey is the only decent one left and even her dumb blonde, Phoebe from Friends, faux-ditsy attitude is starting to grate on me now. I don't care if she wins or not, though at least she is listenable, whereas the rest of them I couldn't give a rat's crap about.

And I'm sorry, but I can't spare two and a half hours of my weekend for a bunch of acts I don't even like. X-Factor is over for me now. Screw you, Cowell.

Lie-in, Games, Watching films in bed, Takeaway

November 22, 2009

Today was official Team Green Lazy Day. We never have these. We are the busiest people in the cosmiverse, and sometimes that gets annoying, and sometimes I think we should just have a chillout day but we never have time.

Well, this weekend we actually did it. We did all our chores yesterday, so we'd have nothing to get on with today.

Today I have:

Best. Day. Ever.

Art, Food, Culture

November 21, 2009

I had a fabulous day yesterday!

My old mate/ex-boss Andy and I meet up in London from time to time and he treats me to a fancy lunch and we catch up. It is always a pleasure.

Yesterday we decided to go to the Saatchi Gallery to start off with. I don't recall having been before and it was quite fabulous. I went to the Tate Modern last month and the Saatchi absolutely kicks the Tate's arse.

(It doesn't hurt that the Saatchi is literally just off the King's Road, which would be my first port of call if I won the lottery, as it has just about every shop I lust after).

My favourite piece, and the only one all day that inspired me to get my camera out, was this one:

It is made of steel and is a bit M.C. Esher-esque, but also reminds me of that scene in Labyrinth, which is very Esher-esque. We couldn't work out if the steps were all the same way round, i.e. if it was turning would you be able to walk round it continuously? I looked at this piece for a good ten minutes. You could view it from a balcony above as well. Andy commented it would look good in an airport and I agree - the whole concept of infinite travel, plus the just massive scale of the thing - it would be fantastic.

After that we went for lunch at a French restaurant on Brompton Road called Racine. I still don't know exactly how it's pronounced (ray-seen? ray-chine? ra-seen?) but I've just looked it up and it means "root". It was very posh, and I had scallops, roast duck, crème caramel and lots of champagne, and it was extremely fabulous. It was very French indeed and reminded me of the sort of places my parents frequented when they lived in Paris. The food was delicious, and the waiters all had accents.

Then we went for a meander in Hyde Park, and had a look at the Diana fountain, which really was shit (Andy described it as an oval trench and that was about right), and the Albert Memorial, which was pretty spectacular.

And then we went to the pub and had a couple of double G&Ts, and then I hobbled off home in my heels and played Wizard 101 for a couple of hours and then I went to bed.

Oh happy day!

Doggy love-in

November 20, 2009

Mattgreen and I take it in turns to walk Ludo in the mornings. He prefers the park, I prefer the farm. One of the dogs he meets in the park is a small pug called Luggage. Apparently it is named after the Terry Pratchett character because it has short legs and moves quickly. Mattgreen guessed this immediately, because he's a bit of a geek like that.

When Mattgreen first met Luggage's owner, she immediately guessed (correctly) that Ludo is named after the character from Labyrinth, and was apparently pleased not to have the only dog in town named after a character from an obscure fantasy book.

(I know this isn't particularly exciting, but today I am going to London and I may well not be sober enough to post anything by the time I get home...)

Mockney girls

November 19, 2009

It started with Lily Allen, who I've loved since LDN (rhyming 'alfresco' with 'Tesco' had me from the start). I bought her first album and played it to death. When her second came out earlier this year, I bought it as soon as it was released (sadly, a bit of a rarity for me these days).

It had on it an absolute treasure of a song, called Who'd've Known.
It hasn't been released, so I can only find this dodgy video, but it is just so beautiful. I particularly adore the delivery of the line at 1.38, the way you can actually hear her break into a bashful but delighted smile as she sings it. There is just something about the mundanity mixed in with the love's young dream sentiment that just makes me beam everytime I hear it. (Oh and whether you like Lily Allen or not, this version of Chinese by a children's choir is bloody brilliant).

Then just recently I discovered Kate Nash. You may have heard 'Foundations' which is a great song. It has another fabulous line: You said I must eat so many lemons, / 'cause I am so bitter, which made her appeal to me straight away. Now I've listened to the whole album a few times, her ability to transform mundane into meaningful is truly brilliant, plus she really does have a gorgeous voice.

But my favourite song by a mile, and the one which has been stuck in my head for days, is called Birds. Sorry for the crappy video again - it also hasn't been released as a single. The change of tempo at 0.33 where she says 'again' as a sort of afterthought is fab. And the string-of-consciousness verse at 1.19 is really sweet but also such a typical conversation I overhear teenagers having on the train. Love it.

I decided to stop smoking on 26 August 2008

November 18, 2009

Since then I can name every cigarette I've smoked.

21 November 08: standing outside a pub in London, with Charlie. Only managed half a one before I felt sick and put it out.

8 August 09: Mossy's garden in Leeds. I'd looked forward to it for weeks, but it really wasn't that nice.

5 September 09: In my back garden with the other Alice. I was quite drunk and can't really remember feeling strongly either way.

10 November 09
: London, with Gordy, walking along the street. Had to put it out halfway through.

Less than a pack of ten in fifteen months.
I think I'm finally done with smoking.
I can have the occasional cigarette if I want, but it's dawning on me that actually, I don't even like them much when I do.

The best thing about smoking is the feeling that it has made a shite situation marginally less shite, or a great evening marginally greater. Unfortunately, it only works if you smoke regularly, and if you do that, you also have to put up with all the downsides like cost and health issues and setting a bad example to your kids.

I can't believe it's taken me almost twenty years to figure that out.

Day Seventeen in the Blog Every Day House

November 17, 2009

Alice: Mattgreen! Do something funny for me to blog about!
Mattgreen: No.
Alicey: Oh go on!
Mattgreen: No, I'm not your pet monkey.
Alicey: Oh go on, be my pet monkey.
Mattgreen: (pretends to nibble a peanut, then scratches under his arm)
Alicey: Can I video you doing that?
Mattgreen: (sighs) NO.

An award and seven things...

November 16, 2009

Yesterday I got a little award from my friend Alice's blog:

So thanks Alice! I don't totally understand what I'm meant to do (and truth be told I'm not sure that Alice knew either!) so I am just going to choose seven related things to talk about. Alice is as girly as I am when it comes to pretty accessories, so I thought it would be appropriate to talk about SHOES!

I have a few more than seven pairs of shoes *cough* so I have picked out my favourites...

1. These are my Russell & Bromley black boots. I wear them to work and with jeans and they make anything you're wearing look smart and dressy. They're not 'wow' shoes, but it's like wearing makeup that no-one actually comments on but everyone thinks you just look nicer than usual.

2. These are the first pair of Kurt Geigers I ever bought and I looooove them but I so can't walk in them. The heels are just too high for me (I'm 5'8" and grew up in DMs). I save them for tottering around at parties and looking at admiringly.

3. My feet are incredibly narrow (a C width fitting, which probably means nothing to you unless you have children) and I have a high instep so I've always had trouble finding heels that actually fit. Well, narrow-footed people, go to Kurt Geiger. They have an incredible range of shoes with straps, bows, and narrow fittings so finally I can get shoes that I don't fall out of. I bought these on my first trip to Brighton after we moved dahn sahth, and partially so I could wear them to see The Wizard of Oz with Isabel:

4. I tried this pair on around the same time as I bought the red ones, but refused to allow myself the luxury of two pairs. Instead I moaned, whined and mentioned the petrol blue shoes at every opportunity for months on end. Mattgreen eventually bought them for my birthday and I have worn them loads. Love the cone heel, love the double strap, and they are great for work as I can run up and down stairs in them without breaking an ankle.

5. These were a complete impulse buy! They are Uggs in the form of flip flops, which I thought would make great slippers but it turns out only in the summertime. It's too cold to have exposed toes now, so they are back in their box waiting for next year. Mine are pink and white but I can't find a photo online and can't be bothered to go up in the loft, sorry! They are the comfiest flip flops I have ever owned - so much so I have accidentally worn them to work occasionally!

6. These are my most recent Geiger purchase, bought to cheer myself up about something. I can't remember what now, but the shoes are still making me happy. I thought I would risk a slightly higher heel and actually these are far easier to walk in than the purple ones. I quite often wear them round the supermarket to break them in - if I'm in agony by the end of a week's shopping then obviously I'm not done yet :)

7. The last pair on this list I don't actually own yet, but they are on my Christmas list and I am reliably informed that these bad boys are a dead cert. Come to me my pretties!

Dog Blog

November 15, 2009

Today we went to Discover Dogs at Earls Court, because Ludo was representing the Estrela Mountain Dogs again. It was a fun afternoon - if a bit hectic at times! - but the highlight was meeting a couple who were thinking about getting an Estrela.

The bloke had owned a dog before and loved them; his very pretty girlfriend was somewhat hesitant and openly admitted she didn't know anything about them. They both seemed quite keen on Ludo and talked to me for a while about the breed. They asked me about training and what I'd done, and I explained that Ludo had gone for about a year. The girl then asked me, completely straight-faced, whether Ludo had gone on her own or if I'd to go with her to training!

The prospect of rolling up at puppy class like it was a playschool, going, "see you in an hour!" and handing the trainer the lead whilst I went and had a coffee had me in fits of giggles. I imagined my very stern dog trainer trying to handle a dozen wayward puppies single-handedly... hilarious. The very idea of raising such a suggestion cracks me up - I can almost imagine her face of thunder! Not to mention the fact that dog training is more about training the owners than the dogs!

I think the couple will have their work cut out for them dealing with an Estrela - but it'll be worth it. Estrelas are gorgeous dogs and more people should have them!

Just a quickie

November 14, 2009

I haven't got time for a proper post today so I will just leave you with this link, which will have you either rolling with laughter or rolling your eyes. Maybe both.


November 13, 2009

Firstly, Mattgreen's dream has finally come true and he has gone off to play his Vampire card game with a load of other weirdos at the European Championships in Spain. He has been going on about this as long as I've known him, but he has finally done it. So good luck Mattgreen! You can watch his progress tomorrow (and hopefully Sunday) here.

Also, I have found a nice new online game to play called Wizard 101 (thanks Gordy!) It's officially a MMORPG but I think that's a silly name and impossible to pronouce.

Anyway it is fun and quest-based and totally suitable for kids, so Izzy has totally got designs on playing it and Mattgreen has already rolled up an account of his own. My character is Fire-based, Matt's is Death-based and Izzy is planning on Storm-based, so we are all running true to type there...

This is my character:

Her name is Scarlet Firepants. There's a free trial so why not come and have a go?

Birthday menu

November 12, 2009

I told Izzy she could have whatever she wanted to eat on her birthday, and this is what she chose:

Breakfast: Pancakes with maple syrup and Nutella
Lunch: Honey sandwiches
Dinner: Sausage casserole. Cake with custard.

Strange choices for an eight year old don't you think? Anyway, it got me thinking about what I would have on my birthday, as I love birthdays almost as much as I love food.

Breakfast: Eggs Florentine, if we were eating out. If not (as I'm completely incapable of poaching an egg), Belgian waffles.
Lunch: Mozzarella, basil and tomatoes with olive oil. Carrot cake with lots of candles.
Dinner: Risotto, probably butternut squash or seafood and a bottle of Sancerre. Crème brûlée or panna cotta.

Oh bloody hell, I'm starving now! ROLL ON APRIL!!

Music I Shouldn't Really Love

November 11, 2009

I was going to do a post called Music I Really Love, but then I had the idea of doing this post instead, which also has the handy side effect of causing me to lose all credibility in one simple move.

Stars Are Blind by Paris Hilton

When this first came out I was really into the gym, and they played this constantly. It's quite catchy and it's good for running to, so eventually I bought it on iTunes, and it got put on all my Shuffle playlists and somehow it has ended up as my 'most played' song on iTunes - oh the shame! That gym was also responsible for making me like 'Over' by Lindsay Lohan, 'Somebody's Watching Me' by Beatfreakz and 'Slide Along Side' by Shifty so it's probably just as well I changed gym before my taste in music was totally destroyed.

Womanizer by Britney Spears

Not only is it recent Britney (I am way too old to like this song) but also, it's spelled wrong.

A Little Respect by Erasure

Actually, anything by Erasure is pretty embarrassing. In my defence I've loved them since I was about 10 years old. Also, wtf is he wearing in that video? Could he possibly mince any more?

Everytime We Touch by Cascada

Come to think of it, I think I started liking this at that godforsaken gym as well. As a lover of "proper" dance music, I am quite ashamed at how much I like this tune. I just can't help wanting to dance to it, and isn't that supposed to be the point of dance music? Another similar guilty pleasure is 'The Weekend' by Michael Gray, which is also horribly commercialised, but in essence quite a good song.

Fight For This Love by Cheryl Cole

I know, I know, I know. Somebody told me where I could download it for nothing, and I'd heard it on X Factor and thought it was quite catchy, and it turns out it's quite listenable on my ipod on the way to work and... ah. Yeah.

Livin' on a Prayer by Bon Jovi/Sweet Child o' Mine by Guns and Roses

These are not songs you admit to liking. But Mattgreen and I always throw up the horns when they come on Kerrang! And if you don't know what that means, you aren't a true metaller like us ;)

Beep by The Pussycat Dolls

So wrong, but yet so catchy.
I really don't want to like them but I can't help it... I'm quite partial to 'Buttons' as well.

So, there you have it. Feel free to leave scathing insults and/or your own Most Embarrassing Songs in the comments!

Beelzebub balloons

November 10, 2009

My mum gave me a box of streamers, balloons, party poppers etc that she thought I might be able to use for Izzy's Hallowe'en party. A few days before the party I was sorting through the box when I found some balloons with "PRAISE THE LORD" printed on them.

I laughed and said to Mattgreen, "Oh look! Not exactly suitable for a Hallowe'en party..." Matt said, "Oh I don't know. You could always insert the word DARK before LORD".

I don't think the seven-year-olds would've got it, but it made me laugh.

Blast from the past

November 09, 2009

The other day I found some photos of the flat I lived in when Izzy was born. When I left hospital, cradling my precious baby, this was the house I came home to. I'd forgotten just how tiny and totally unsuitable for children it really was. This picture was taken pretty much exactly eight years ago:

(Click to enlarge the pic)

Look at my ancient little telly! I didn't even have a TV until just before Izzy was born - I think my parents gave me that. And that horrible little gas fire. And the wooden airer in the left foreground - every available surface in the flat was constantly covered in washing. We've still got that coffee table but now we have more than a foot of space surrounding it. At the back you can see two huge, ancient computers and great big clunky monitors. I look knackered.


November 08, 2009

I had a post for today. I even typed it up. But I just can't bring myself to put it up here - it's too private. It just seems wrong.

Also, today we had visitors and we were busy and it was fun, and I am typing this on my laptop in bed and I have to work in the morning.

So this is a bit of a cop-out. Sorry. All I can give you is this joke from Mattgreen to keep you going until tomorrow:

Q: Why do firemen have big balls?
A: Because they sell more tickets!


I'm going straight to Hell

November 07, 2009

I'd better preface this with the fact that my memory is crap at the best of times, and downright deluded at the worst, so this story may not be 100% accurate. I told it to Mattgreen the other night and unlike most of my anecdotes, I was amazed to find he hadn't heard it before.

Many, many years ago, when the charts were full of the KLF, Chesney Hawkes and Color Me Badd, I went to Reading Festival. My brother (who's two years younger than me) and I had a tent which our parents bought for us to share. A few scant weeks before I left for Reading, I discovered that my brother wanted to use the tent to go to some dodgy young people's Christian festival called Greenbelt (you would not believe how much googling I had to do to find that link)!

My mother (bless her) had said he couldn't go because I had got my request in first. However, she also said that he could use the communal tent next year, which would thereby prevent me from going to Reading the following year.

So, off I went to Reading with my lovely tent and my trusty marker pen.
One night, while myself and my pal were innocently sleeping in the tent, some dastardly blasphemer came along and cruelly wrote SATAN in three-feet-high letters on the side of the tent. I have no idea why - perhaps they thought it was funny...

In any case, OBVIOUSLY this meant my bro could no longer take the tent to Greenbelt. My mum bought him a new tent, and I set myself to the task of painting flowers all over the Satan inscription. This had the added bonus of making my tent stand out from a mile away in a field full of green.

Here is the lovely Eleanor posing next to my tent in 1992:

How d'you like them apples?

November 06, 2009

I am an extremely fussy person when it comes to apples.

I was talking to my mate Lee-Anne the other day about toffee apples, and I happened to mention that I don't like them because the apples in them are always soft and disgusting.

In fact, I don't like most apples. I like crisp, tart apples. For many years the only apples I would eat were red delicious, and my basic rule was that I only ate apples that were red all over. How Snow White of me.

Anyway - this all changed a few years ago at the Good Food Show where I had the chance to try the most magnificent apple of them all. This apple was nicer than even Red Delicious. It was.... *drum roll* Jazz TM!

Lee-Anne is not impressed with my bourgeois taste in apples. She chastised me for buying apples that were flown halfway around the world. (Sadly I can't argue that - all Jazz come from New Zealand). She bollocked me for buying apples that are trademarked. (I then admitted that I also don't mind Pink Lady... it turns out they're trademarked as well)!

My protestations that Cox's are disgusting fell upon deaf ears.

Tonight I tried to do some research on the internet on trademarked apples, but as I should've probably guessed, there was an awful lot about trademarked Apples and not a lot about apples. Eventually I found a website about apple varieties. Only click on that link if you are (a) bored out of your brain (b) really, really interested in apples.

Interestingly the first link says that Jazz are made by crossing Braeburn (which are ok) with Royal Gala (which are utterly disgusting). How could something so delicious come from something so vile? Only the fruit genetic-engineers know.


November 05, 2009

So, this is why I don't update my blog daily. Nothing happens!
This is my third attempt to try to scrape up something to write about from nothing. My first attempt was a fascinating insight into my calendar for the next two months (don't get overexcited now!) My second was the staggering tale of how I forgot my daughter was at Art Club, and turned up at the school gates an hour early (try to control your amazement!)

Er, that's it really. I walked the dog, I went to work, I made the dinner, I wrote the shopping list. Mattgreen went to work and came home and is doing more work on his laptop. Izzy went to school, wrote some thank you letters and read some Harry Potter. It's all so bloody mundane.

I'm bored shitless, to tell you the truth. When is something exciting going to happen? I may have to start behaving recklessly to see if I can stir things up a bit. My gut feeling is to start with shopping and drunkenness. Maybe together. This could get messy.

Gender stereotyping in action

November 04, 2009

Tonight I went to the house of one of the other parent governors to talk about a newsletter we're writing. As I arrived, his young son stuck his head around the door.

Him: Hello!
Me: Hello! You're in the same class as my little girl, Izzy.
Him: (looking at me closely) Oh! You're Izzy's Mum?
Me: Yes.
Him: Do you work in the office with my Daddy?
Me: No, we're both governors at the school. We've got to talk about some stuff.
Him: (surprised) Oh! I thought only Daddies could be governors!

Russell Brand

November 03, 2009

I love Russell Brand. Well - I love the way he looks and the way he talks - I'm not too bothered about his work. I just think he'd be interesting to talk to. Er, and he'd probably be quite hot in the sack too.

Also, he's got a touch of the Jake Shillingford/Neil Hannon/Morrissey about him, which is almost certainly part of his appeal.

There was a really great interview with him in the Sunday Times this week. I highly recommend it. My favourite paragraph from the interview was:

He hasn’t eaten chocolate for ages. I tell him I love the comfort of chocolate. “Yes, but there’s a regret afterwards. I always think of that Damien Hirst title, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of the Living. The impossibility of post-chocolate in the mind of the pre-chocolate. I am not going to run then eat a Twix — all that stupid running just for one Twix. As I am with chocolate, I am with everything. It’s better to not do it at all, because if I begin I’ll go as far as I can.”

He has a wonderful turn of phrase, don't you think? His summary of what it's like to have an addictive personality is perfect.

It got me thinking about my problem with sugar. Lately my sugar consumption has gone through the roof. I know I should stop, and I'm useless at cutting back on things. I'd rather get rid of all the sugar in the house and go cold turkey. I'm considering it. It'll be torture, but perhaps it'll be worth it. Russell Brand seems to think so.

Ultimate Hallowe'en Party

November 02, 2009

This year Izzy decided she wanted to have a birthday party at home. Although her birthday isn't until November, we decided it'd be fun to have a Hallowe'en party, especially as 31st October fell on a Saturday this year. Being me, I had to organise and plan everything to match the theme. It went really well and everyone had a great time (apparently it was the talk of the playground today - high praise indeed!) so I thought I'd write down what I did in case anyone reading this ever wants to do a Halloween party for kids.

Invitations: We invited about fifteen kids, all aged 7 and 8, and in the end we had twelve acceptances. Twelve is plenty. Ten would've also been fine. We made the invitations by downloading amazing fonts from Fontenstein - we used 'Halloween', 'Batman Beat the hell Outta Me' and 'Blackadder ITC' but there's loads to choose from. I printed one invite per page, then drew ghost shapes round the words and cut them out. (I based my ghost drawing on this picture as it was fairly easy to draw).

Decorations: All the supermarkets have cheap decorations now, and I went round all of them picking up bits and pieces.

I had a load of sparkly cut-out shapes which I could stick on the windows and walls, some balloons, some hairy spiders and web and a glow in the dark skeleton. I also picked up a fabulous spider glitter curtain from Sainsburys for a few quid which looked great.

We obviously had a few pumpkins, which Mattgreen carved. We also made more decorations by cutting spiders/bats/pumpkins out of crepe paper in strings and hanging them round the house. I also got a red light bulb to create an eerie glow - Mattgreen said it made us look like a house of ill repute - so your mileage may vary with that one!

Finally I got a couple of orange & black helium balloons from the party shop and tied them to the front gate - a party just isn't a party without helium balloons.

Food: We had a bit of regular party food - sandwiches, crisps, sausages etc - mixed up with themed stuff. I made green slime jelly - use a bit of milk instead of cold water to get that cloudy effect, then chop it up, add plastic spiders and serve with ice cream.

Mud pies - chocolate Angel Delight, with jelly worms mixed in, then top with crushed up Oreo cookies (this is actually frighteningly realistic) but unfortunately the picture I took didn't come out too well. I made these spider web muffins, which really do look just like the picture. And I served a load of red and green grapes ("eyeballs") in a plastic cauldron. Finally, a drop of food colouring in the bottom of the cups turned lemonade into 'magic potions'.

Cake: I love a good cake, and this was too good an opportunity to miss, so I made a spooky castle cake. One layer was chocolate sponge, the other was vanilla sponge, with chocolate mini rolls for the towers and waffle cones for the turrets. The whole thing was covered with fifteen quid's worth of fondant. Anybody could make a cake like this - it really isn't difficult - just incredibly time consuming. If you've never done it before, it's worth watching tutorials on Youtube to get the hang of rolling out the fondant over the cake. The ghost was to cover up a bit of a cockup, but I think it looks pretty good.

Party bags: Having a party at Hallowe'en makes this incredibly easy. I had loads of Haribo, orange and black lollies from M&S, chocolate skeletons and pumpkins, and a load of plastic tat from Tesco - bouncy balls shaped like eyeballs, plastic spinners, plastic rats and spiders etc.

Games: Virtually every kids party these days has one of those horrible creepy 'entertainer/'magician' type dirty old men who make crappy jokes, do really obvious magic tricks and make balloon rabbits and swords. I hate them, I find them really quite disturbing as well as not at all funny. So I decided I would just run all the games myself, like my Mum did when I was a kid.

Let's not beat about the bush here - this is bloody hard work. However, it was also a LOT of fun, and the kids absolutely had a whale of a time, so I reckon it was worth it.

Anyway, this is what I did:

Mummies - Wrap each other up in toilet roll like a mummy. Get everyone into pairs and give each pair a toilet roll. I ran it twice and awarded prizes for fastest and most attractive. The kids had an impromptu bog roll fight afterwards. It looked like a snowstorm in my front room. All the toilet roll had to be binned afterwards, so don't use Nouvelle like I did - buy some cheap stuff!

Marshmallow eyeballs - White marshmallows painted with foodcolouring like bloodshot eyes - hanging off a string for children to eat without using hands. This was very popular!

Chocolate game - Sit all the children around a tray with a bar of chocolate on it, a knife and fork, a pumpkin mask, a witch's hat and a large dice. Each child takes it in turns to roll the dice, when they get a six they put on the hat and mask and start eating the chocolate with the knife and fork (they have to get it out of its wrapper first). The rest of the circle keep rolling - as soon as another child gets a six, the first child hands over the hat/mask, the other child dresses up and keeps going. Carry on until all the chocolate is gone.

Pin the wart on the witch - Fairly self-explanatory. I downloaded a picture from the internet and laminated it at work, then used sticky labels to show where each blindfolded child placed the wart. There was a prize for the closest guess.

Musical zombies - a variant of musical statues. Make sure they hold their arms ahead of them and groan as they walk around. Very funny.

Pass the parcel - I got a couple of giggle ball pumpkins and wrapped them up, then ran two simultaneous parcels with six children in each group. This worked pretty well and was easier than having one monster parcel.

Make a spider web - by throwing black wool from one child to the next. Simple but incredibly effective - the kids loved this and came up with the idea of lifting the web and throwing the ball underneath it, then going all the way around the circle to create the 'edge' of the web. You can run this with a few kids missing and they can join in partway through. Brilliant.

Hallowe'en corners - Stick a cut-out ghost/witch/pumpkin in the corners of the room. All the children dance around, then when you stop the music, they run to a corner. Call out ghost/witch/pumpkin, everyone in that corner is out. Last person not out gets a prize.

Sleeping black cats - variant of sleeping lions, good when everyone is getting a bit too excited to try to calm things down.

Treasure hunt - Attach spiders made from crepe paper to the ceiling with black thread and blu-tak. Get the kids to pull the spiders off the ceiling, the ones with stickers on the back give children a go at the lucky dip. (This game was incredibly time consuming to prepare and over in seconds. It would be better to hide the spiders in cupboards, under cushions etc, but then you would have a rabid horde of kids tearing your house apart. Approach with caution!) The "lucky dip" was a bucket of cold spaghetti mixed with a can of fruit cocktail and covered with a piece of spiders web print material I got from the local fabric shop. Cut a slit in it and let the children feel around inside for chocolate coins etc. I'm not sure I'd run this again as it got very messy and took ages for everyone to wash their hands, plus of course they all ate the sweets and then weren't hungry at tea time!

I had a few more ideas for games:

Scary objects memory game - put things on a tray, take one away, see if they can remember what's missing (would be better with just three or four children).
Eyeball race - with spoons and ping pong balls decorated to look like eyeballs (would be better if you lived in a bigger house than I do!)
Winking game - Sit the children in a circle and select one child to be the policeman. Send them out of the room while the rest of the children choose one child to be the murderer. Let the policeman back in, the murderer then tries to wink at everyone else in the circle without the policeman noticing. When someone gets winked at, they make a big fuss of dying loudly. This would've been great fun but we ran out of time.

Well, this has turned out to be the longest post ever. Hope it's useful for someone!

P.S. I discovered you can buy sparklers in the shape of children's ages. This was a huge hit! Who doesn't love indoor fireworks?! Definitely the MVP of the party.


November 01, 2009

I've been writing blogs for about a decade - this one goes back five years, then before that I had a blog on pmachine (I still have all the transcripts) and before that I had my old website.

Anyway - lately I haven't been writing as much as I used to. I don't know whether I'm busier, lazier, or don't have as much to write about, but it just isn't happening. So, to try to kick myself up the arse, I've decided to take part in NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month. The deal is I have to put up a new post every day in November.

How hard can it be? Hmm. Ask me again in a fortnight.

In the meantime, here's a picture from the lovely walk we went on today:

I can't wait for winter. I love this time of year. I am off to make butternut squash risotto now, then later we'll snuggle down in front of the fire and play some games. Then once Izzy has gone to bed, Mattgreen and I are going to open a bottle of wine and watch X Factor. Go Jedward!

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