Friday, 31 December 2010

A budding career as a chocolatier

The patience of a saint but it was worth it because look what we made :q

Thank you very much to Auntie Katie for supplying everything except the child.

The chocolates are a little present for the Stephs and co. with whom we will be seeing in the New Year tonight. Steph decided that she didn't want any hassle, a laid back, lazy New Year. She has got in a caterer (just for our two families, how decadent/lazy is that?!) and we are going to watch films while our combined pack of mini-beasts tear themselves and everything around them to pieces, comfortably tucked away in their own rooms.

I've mentioned before that I love Steph, right?

Happy New Year, I'll be thinking of you all in your different time zones!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

The best present of all: Wrigglesworth

Who needs toys when you have a baby brother?

A rock'n'roll Cwizmus

I used to love Christmas as a kid. As an adult I am increasingly ambivalent. This Christmas was hectic. I didn't manage to do any reading at all. I think if I could slow the whole thing down, next year might be more enjoyable. Also next year Wrigglesworth will hopefully not be keeping us up half the night.

Anyway, in the spirit of my blog, here is a list of reasons why Christmas was cheerful this year.

1. We had a little mini present opening en famille at home on Christmas morning.
2. I saw people I hadn't seen for far too long and introduced them to Wrigglesworth.
3. I caught up on friend time with Katie.
4. Wrigglesworth learned to roll and roll and roll. And got his first tooth (looks cute but actually not sure that the accompanying crying, rock, rock, rocking, and sore nipples are worth it!)
5. My mum's Christmas pudding. The best.
6. My dad's homemade presents.

Needless to say, both mini-beasts were spoiled rotten. However, despite a huge pile of lovely, thoughtful presents, the Monster's favourite acquisition on Christmas day was a toy boat she found and adopted, one previous owner (her cousin, Armand). It's currently sitting on the naughty shelf (an idea I stole from Mogantosh), along with several other favoured items. The excitement of Christmas has led to a rather severe outbreak of naughtiness.

[I have interspersed some of my rubbish photos. Some much better ones, taken by our official Christmas photographer, Katie, will follow as soon as I transfer them onto my computer.]

Friday, 24 December 2010

A Christmas message from the Monster

If you're wondering why they both keep looking off to the left, The Jungle Book is on the tv but as they were both sat so companionably and calmly together it seemed like a good moment.


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Great nana

Yesterday was momentous. Wrigglesworth met his great nana. In the last couple of years the onset of old age has hit my nana hard, which has been difficult for all of us. She has been always such an active, lively and independent individual and the last couple of times I've seen her she's seemed a bit lost in the world. But as soon as I handed Owen over to her (well, she sort of grabbed him as soon as she laid eyes on him) she lit up and he lit up and it was lovely.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Bex's Bookshelves: The Day of the Scorpion, by Paul Scott

I admire Paul Scott's writing. It is crystal clear. He has a way of dissecting human desires, motivations and emotions that seems so obvious, if only you had the clearness of vision and the precision and economy of expression to see and write as he does. Yet his characters and the stories that intertwine them are gripping and moving. And the state of India in those turbulent years leading up to the end of British colonial rule and the effect the transition had on all those involved is complex and fascinating.

That's quite enough adjectives for one review so I shall stop there.

Belle Maman

It was all going so well...


(before anyone calls the gendarmes in a panic, I have no intention of going anywhere near her in the shower)

Monday, 20 December 2010

Le crapaud dans le trou

I just made Toad in the Hole with red wine and onion sauce for the beaux parents. I thought it was yum (thank you Nigel Slater). The Monster thought it was yum (phew, there is some English in there somewhere...). My beau père thought it was yum (but then he's a bit like his son, I could serve him marmite coated banana skins and he'd say it was delicious). My belle maman... hmmm, said it was very filling. In the same way that papa and fils will happily scoff down anything I make with delight I get the impression that I will never make anything that is altogether pleasing to the belle maman. Especially if it is pleasing to papa and fils. Am I being over-sensitive? Probably. But I think there is a lot of truth to that old adage about the stomach being the way to a man's heart, the natural consequence of which is that the kitchen becomes the unacknowledged battleground for the male stomach/heart between any females hoping to stake a claim there.

How old-fashioned does that sound? Sometimes instinct laughs in the face of feminism.

I didn't get a picture of my toad. So here's another toad I like just as much.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Greedy Bird Baking Enterprise #15 Pear and Ginger Upside down Pudding

Yum. And yum again. And even miam.

I know I made this so I should sit back modestly and let others tell me how damn good it is and you'll have to take my word for it that they did but I'm also going to tell you myself: it's really most very delicious. The Monster helped with positioning the pears and cleaning the cooking utensils afterwards. With her tongue.

I wanted to get a photo of the Monster enjoying her pudding. She wanted me to take a picture of her spoon.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Little town

I was just going into the wine shop when the post lady was coming out, she stopped me and said she had a parcel for me. She ran back to her van and brought it to me in the wine shop.

Then I had a nice chat to the man that owns the wine shop who has a little boy the same age as the Monster. We compared their routes in the market, he gets a pain au roquefort from Mimi, the Monster gets a coque or pain au chocolat.

Then I went to the market and had chats with all the lovely stall holders. They all asked me where the Monster was. They all came cooing around Wrigglesworth who obliged by being his charming smiley self.

I may not have many friends here but I feel very much part of my neighbourhood. Sometimes I think I must be mad to even think about leaving...

p.s. I in no way consider myself to be belle (although I do like books), and the fella is not a beast. Although I always quite fancied the Beast in the Disney film and found it rather disappointing when he changed back into a man.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Lazy housecleaning tips #4

Don't, I repeat, DO NOT invite your beaux parents to stay.

Sadly a piece of my own good advice that I failed to heed. They arrive tomorrow. I am up to my arms in rubber gloves, little moutons of dust balls (which sounds cute but isn't) and toxic smelling cleaning liquids of various kinds. And the thing about "looks clean" as opposed to "is clean" is that after a while the "is actually dirty" underneath begins to rear it's ugly head so that "looks clean", even when some proper scrubbing is applied, looks more like "not had a proper clean in years".

However, with the fella away until Saturday this week I am not wholly adverse to the inlaws arriving as there will be two extra laps on which to sit while books are read, two extra pairs of legs to run around after hyperactive little legs, two extra pairs of arms to provide Wrigglesworth's generous daily quota of cuddles and to wrangle the Monster into bed.

[Picture shown not actual representation of author. And the fella never cleans the car either.]

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Down and out in Paris and London... and Béziers

Today Fanf and I have been together five years. That's starting to sound like a proper relationship. In that time we have moved countries twice, visited Sweden, Finland, Senegal, Canada, Spain... and Belgium, gone into co-production on two mini-beasts, bought a house and failed to do the decent thing and get married.

So there we are, five years of completely indecent, utterly enchanting, swooningly romantic, incontrovertibly brilliant togetherness. Liberally interspersed with some moments of poo stinky rubbishness, just to make the moments of light shine that little bit brighter.

We are celebrating tonight by being at opposite ends of the country. Anyway, the date is unimportant, it's the time between the dates that matters.

Monday, 13 December 2010

My mini singing me

I know it makes me seem like something of a narcissist, but I love it when the Monster loves the things I love. She has recently starting singing. In fact this post is inspired by her spontaneous rendition of Row, row, row your boat for Uncle Dan yesterday. The version I have captured on film is not quite as good, as she is now increasingly just skipping to her favourite bit, the Merrilys (or melilee). However there is also a burst of Hawoleen, hawoleen from the Nightmare Before Christmas, her current musical and film obsession (I have the CD and the DVD, it's a little bit my obsession too). She's already watched it nearly as many times as I have. So that's quite a lot.

You might not find the melilees and hawoleens as funny as I do (do try and ignore the slightly delirious cackle coming from behind the camera) but hopefully the Monster will provide you with a little moment of cheer.

I should also note that much as the Monster loves singing, she generally hates me joining in. If I so much as open my mouth to sing along with Jack's song I get a stern look, an angry little finger pointed in my direction and strict instructions to "Top!"

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Oh Tannenbaum, oh Tannenbaum

Decorated (and currently only knocked over once) by the Monster*.

* I say "by the Monster", a certain papa had great difficulty allowing the Monster free creative reign. Turns out he has very tender aesthetic sensibilities when it comes to Christmas trees. And Duplo farms.

Nay-oh, Nay-ay-ay-oh, Nao came and we all loved her

I'm back.

Actually I haven't been away. Or done anything different to usual. I've just done it with Nao. It was so nice to have a giggle, and a natter and some chocolate and some wine. And Nao was so lovely and easy to have around, just slotting in with the ridiculous rhythms and demands of the mini-beasts, making us pea soup and being an excellent reader of books. Matilda was most perturbed last night when Nao's toothbrush had gone and she could no longer put it in her toothbrush glass next to her own brush.

We love Nao. She is our friend and there art we all happy.

Looking at photos of boats on Nao's Blackberry.

Sitting on the floor, "Comme Nao".

Going on a Bear Hunt.

Playing Sophie and crocodile try to drink from the same glass. The funniest game ever.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Arrrgghhhh, but aaahhhhh

Tired. Tired. And more tired. The mini-beasts are in cahoots and are waking in shifts during the night.

Wrigglesworth is teething. I presume, given the amount of crying that's going on, that he's about to shoot forth sabre-tooth tiger like fangs.

The Monster is discovering the power of no.

I am discovering that however much chocolate there is, it is never enough.

BUT... Nao is arriving today. HOORAY. For me. Not sure her little Christmas jaunt to Beziers will be as relaxing as she might have hoped...

Monday, 6 December 2010

Festive RTBC: Christmas without the shopping

It has been decided this year in the Canteau family that the only presents to be given will be by each set of parents to their children. No adult presents, no presents from aunts and uncles, no presents between cousins or brothers and sisters. If this sounds bah humbug to you it sounds ahh bliss to me. I love Christmas but the presents are by far my least favourite part. Unless you do what my dad has done this year and make your presents for everybody (requiring time, talent and inspiration), it all becomes rather impersonal, just a question of ticking people off your list. If I can, I like to take time to really think about what I would like to give someone; birthdays are the ideal time to offer such meaningful presents. (Although I have been a bit rubbish even about this since the mini-beasts.) Christmas, in my experience, just ends up being a scrum of wrapping paper, cardboard boxes and reams of environmentally unfriendly packaging. The presents seem rather pointless. Especially in an age where most people have what they want and children have more than they want and far more than they need (within my own socio-economic group that is... except for me and the fella, we don't, so any presents you fancy giving us, go ahead ;).

I prefer to think of Christmas as the perfect time to catch up. On sleep, on long rambling chats, on reading, on gluttony (not that gluttony and I are ever strangers for very long), on just being with people. And the time to do fun festive things like sing carols, decorate the tree, rewatch old black and white screwball comedies, make mulled wine or go out walking in the cold to see the Christmas lights.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

New hair

... or more accurately, rather less of the old hair. RTBC or RTBM? I'm ambivalent. I was aiming for footloose, devil may care hair. When I left the hairdressers it was more shaggy mushroom on a dank forest floor hair. My self-image is not very high at the moment and I was somehow imagining I'd be transformed but I'm still me, with my baggy eyes, sallow skin, shoplifters clothes and post child-birth body.

The fella seems to think this is just fine. And I suppose it is.

[Photo carefully taken from a slightly elevated angle to hide the double chin.]

Friday, 3 December 2010

Friday in photo (and a few words)

This photo makes me laugh quite a lot. And then not so much when I consider how such innocent little sibling altercations will no doubt progress to less innocent ones.

It's a bit of a cheat today as this photo is from Wednesday but sore gums plus a sudden desire by the Monster to finally cooperate with the whole toilet training enterprise at 2.30am conspired to give me a rather sleepless night. And the continuation of sore gums has likewise conspired to keep my arms mostly full of things other than a camera today.

Thursday, 2 December 2010


Lest I forget, some examples of the Monster's initial foray into the wonderful world of words that make me chuckle. She mixes both languages freely, making it difficult for anyone but her parents to understand her. And sometimes we only pretend.

Dod: "dog", one of her first ever words. She can pronounce it correctly now but I'm not sure she ever will.

Mi-keat: "music" or "musique", only not really either of them.

lippy: "slippers", there is no actual lippy in the house.

Tompot: "compote"

C'est Matilda: She wants to do whatever it is you're doing herself.

Carotte (pronounced à la française): "carrot" or "orange" (the colour) as in "What colour is Action Man's car?" "Carotte".

Brock-ee: "broccoli"

de l'eau can: "watering can"

J'ai mal où: Literally "I am hurting where" (for when she is hurting anywhere), which she has starting saying, we think, because we are continually asking her "Tu as mal où?" (where does it hurt?) I don't know if this comes across in English but it's funny in French.

Mini: "fini" (finished), for example, 5 minutes after going to bed, "C'est mini bed."

I looooove: "I love you".

And finally the use of "pas" in front of anything she doesn't want to do or doesn't agree with:

Pas bed.
Pas stop it.
Pas poo stinky. (when accused, usually quite correctly, of being a bit smelly)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Are your kids this cute?

As this post is for the fella in his lonely hotel room somewhere, the answer is, YES! The Monster did blow you a lovely big kiss but for some reason (which I'm sure has nothing to do with me...) it has been cut off the end of the film. I couldn't quite bear to post the film without the kiss, so here, just for you, un gros bisou de ta Matild'amour.

Happy Advent

In the true spirit of Christmas we have a Kinder Surprise Advent calendar (thank you nana) filled with sugar-happy Kinder chocolate. Nary a baby Jee in sight. I asked the Monster if she could find the number 1, she found the number 11 and proceeded to try and open the door telling me she had found two 1's.

I know a proper chocoholic shouldn't really like Kinder chocolate. But then I've never really been very proper. Kinder Chocolate is delish. And the good people at Ferrero, who would not lie, tell me it's full of milk and therefore very good for me.