Monday, 29 November 2010

You decide

I love this fact, that you can choose your attitude in each and every moment no matter what the circumstances. It's a useful thing to be reminded of as it can be so easy to get bogged down by things and swept away on a negative tide of thought.

Friday, 26 November 2010

aaaah the ease and love of the thing

Although in my opinion, not the prettiest shoes in the world, i would definately not trade my Ugg boots without a serious fight. They were heaven when i was given them the winter before we moved to Norway, when we lived in a very chilly cottage in Oxfordshire. I didn't take them off unless i could help it and even on occasion considered wearing them to bed, and i really don't think i would have survived my first winter in Oslo without them. However that is precisely when i trashed them as i lacked waterproof snowboots at the time and simply wore my Uggs instead. Sadly they were not happy meeting deep snow, but i couldn't bare to take them off. Now they have come into their own again in a big way with the temperatures well below freezing every day (minus 11 degrees C today) and as i am now 8 and a half months pregnant and having problems getting any other shoe on or off, they are a godsend.

Aaah the ease and comfort of my well worn Uggs! I am still in love despite their lacklustre appearance!Just please can they make a waterproof pair...and soon!

P.S Having written that i couldn't find any waterproof Uggs i thought i better do a quick search and found that they do now do some wonderful ones called the  Women's tall UGG Adirondack. What utter bliss and they look good too! A little more tricky to get on for the heavily pregnant than the classic Ugg boot, which is like a wonderful comfy wooly sock, but waterproof and warm! Heaven!!

The Ministry of Stories and Monster supplies

What a totally fabulous idea. The people responsible for the "We Made This" blog have just launched a project called The Ministry of Stories on Hoxton Street in east London.  The Ministry follows the model of the 826 centres: a writing centre where kids aged 8-18 can get one-to-one tuition with professional writers and other volunteers; with the centres being housed behind fantastical shop fronts designed to fire the kids’ imaginations (and generate income for the writing centres). But in this case the shop is Hoxton Street Monster Supplies – Purveyor of Quality Goods for Monsters of Every Kind.

A sample of what they sell in their Monster Supplies shop

See the blog post from the blog "We Made This"to read more about this wonderful project :

The opening hours are currently Saturdays and Sundays, 11am-5pm so do pop in for a bit of monster magic if you get the chance.

The Ministry found its name, mood, and identity from an old post-war ration book, featuring the Ministry of Food's logo. I love it.

Ways of seeing

Painting The Family at Breakfast Pace in the studio, Bungay, 2003 photographed by his son Peter from the book Sargy Mann: Probably the Best Blind Painter in Peckham

I came across this fascinating article by Tim Adams from the Oberver newspaper last sunday (21/11/10) about the painter Sargy Mann who started to go blind when he was 36 (he's now 73 and completely blind), but has continued to paint and find new ways of seeing the world.

Even before he lost his sight, Sargy Mann was obsessed with ways of seeing. He felt that the eye was an entirely passive collector of visual stimuli, and that "seeing" was a learned activity that went on in different, discrete parts of the brain – the imaginative piecework of collating form, and colour, and light into an understandable vision of the world, one you constantly made up as you went along.

Studio at Lyndhurst Grove, painted in 1983 before he was registered blind

The day after his 68th birthday the ulcer on his cornea perforated causing the eye to collapse; it was the start of total blindness. After some days in hospital Mann returned home, sightless, and wondering what he would do with the rest of his life. He had never been much interested in sculpture, though that was a possibility. He felt his way to his studio by the river, and there the subjects that had most recently been on his mind became insistent: the light and space of Cadaques that he had been planning to paint. "Well, I thought," he recalls, "I have got a ready stretched canvas and all my paint and brushes that I had imagined giving away, so why not have a go?" It was a sunny day, so he put the canvas up on the windowsill outside his studio, carried out his painting trolley to the usual place and started to feel the canvas and imagine his subject: one of the bar scenes he had painstakingly mapped out.

"After a bit I thought: 'Well here goes,' and loaded a brush with ultramarine," he recalls. "What followed was one of the strangest sensations of my life: I 'saw' the canvas turn blue as I put the paint down. Next I put my Schminke magenta, and 'saw' it turn rose. The colour sensation didn't last, it was only there while I was putting the paint down, but it went on happening with different colours…"

Frances Going Downstairs, 2010

He didn't look back. "Once I had started painting blind, there was no stopping me. It just became the new way of doing it. It was difficult, but art had always been difficult, and having a new set of difficulties was no bad thing." It was, he thought, a bit like a deaf composer hearing orchestra parts in his head.

Frances in a Black Coat, 2010

As well as telling Mann's story, the article also looks at work being done by Professor Semir Zeki, a neuroscientist working at University College London, who is a leading authority in the science of how the mind - and particularly artists' minds - "see" or make sense of the world around them. There is also a film that Sargy's son, Peter, made about him in 2006.

A selection of Mann's pictures - both from before and after he went blind - can be found at:
Cafe Above the Sea, 2010
 "I was saying to someone at the private view," he says, "how incredibly lucky I have been. I had about 25 years' apprenticeship for going blind. It was a bugger, but I kept working out how to paint over those 25 years, and my brain kept finding new ways to see the world, if you like." Sargy Mann


Thursday, 25 November 2010

A Moving Tribute

Milly and Lucia

I posted here back in march about an incredible family friend of ours called Milly Douglas Pennant who had Cystic Fibrosis and at the age of 29 years old was on the waiting list for a lung transplant. Tragically Milly died in July still waiting for the transplant. She was the most incredible, courageous and inspiring person and my sister Olivia ( is running the London Marathon in 2011 in her memory and to raise money for The Cystic Fibrosis trust. She wrote such a moving tribute to Milly on her Just Giving page for the marathon that i would like to quote a little here for you.

"Mills died in July. Thinking about it now it seems apt that the brightest spirit I have ever known should leave us in the height of summer in full sunshine. I have known Mills my entire life and have vivid memories of her going back to about the age of two, but I think even if you met her for a minute you wouldn't forget too quickly...she was pretty remarkable.
I remember when I was quite young being asked as home work to write a piece about the person we most admired. Everyone started chatting about their favorite film star. Apart from the fact that I had never heard of half of them I immediately thought of Milly. I never once heard her complain about any aspect of having Cystic Fibrosis. In fact she would make friends and years later they would discover that she had the illness because she was so determined not to let it take over her life......She was a truly courageous fighter with an indomitable spirit and unquenchable optimism. I would feel my own grumbles ashamedly skulk out of the back door in her presence and often when I am feeling negative I will adopt a Milly-esque positivity. Going to visit her earlier this year in hospital I couldn't believe that she even managed to make me giggle as she described a recent 'near death drama'."

Olivia Mann

Please do take a look at Olivia's Just Giving page to read the whole tribute, it is well worth the read.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Aaaah the stupidity

 I adore a bargain and today i found the most wonderful Voksi bag (for the uninitiated a Voksi is an amazing wool lined sleeping bag for a pram to keep your baby warm and toastey in the winter) for almost nothing in a local charity shop.

Yeah i thought to myself a true steal and one more thing off my list to get as i'll now have something to keep the new baby warm this winter if i choose to have him in a pram or just something cosy for him to lie on or wrap him up in, in the house.

We were so lucky when we moved to Norway because we were given an Urban Voksi for Theodore, the latest in the Voksi range,which was a total godsend. Even though we've had to replace it twice (for free, no questions asked) because the original zips broke, they have now redesigned the zips and we have hopefully exchanged the bag for the final time. It's meant though that essentially we've had a whole new bag with better zips for free even though it was purchased over 2 years ago now.

Urban Voksi
Urban Voksi in a pram

BUT having got such a wonderful bargain i'm not sure what i was thinking when i decided to wash the duvet (and not on the delicate cycle as one would obviously do with anything wool) and promptly shrunk it from its former delicious fluffy duvet glory to a severely reduced looking specimen which will no longer fit the cover or perhaps do it's job. I'm SO cross with myself and wonder where i left my brain for those moments when i rammed it into the machine. Its not the first item to have suffered this way and sadly i'm sure it wont be the last, but for now i am greatly mourning the loss of rather a nice Voksi bag and an amazing bargain.

 Any tips about how to get the Voksi back to it's former glory?

Back views

Theodore Autumn 2010

I adore back views of people and of children in particular.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Tricks

We gave Theodore a baby toothbrush when he started teething so that he had something to chomp on and could get used to the feeling of having a toothbrush in his mouth. When he got older it became part of the bedtime routine to try at least to get him to brush his teeth. He loves the taste of the Kingfisher toothpaste....

but it does depends on his mood as to whether we manage to get him to clean any teeth. I figured he would just get there sooner or later as long as we kept going with it. I did start to think that maybe these cool toothbrush holdesr/timers might help.
But i've discovered that it may be as simple as an electric toothbrush! Due to a wisdom tooth coming through i went to the dentist for a check up recently and was told among other things to start using my electric toothbrush again.  Theodore on seeing it immediately wanted to use it and has done ever since, allowing me to get it to clean every inch of his mouth and more as he doesn't want to stop using it. The novelty value may of course wear off quite quickly, but for now it seems to be the answer to the brushing resistance!

There are of course electric toothbrushes designed just for children. But for now Theodore will use mine and we'll just see how he gets on.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Attached in order for freedom

I loved carrying Theodore in a sling from day one and we still carry him in one occasionally, on long walks for example when it isn't practical to bring a pram or when the snow gets too much for the pram in the Norwegian winters, or when he needs to get close and feel safe. It was wonderfully snug and cosy for him when he was a newborn and so practical as he was a baby that rarely slept. It meant that i could cuddle him and still do some things around the house or get out and about with him with no fuss. We didn't have a pram until he was alot older as we'd decided that we wanted to try a sling first and we definately didn't need one for a while. After trying a few different cloth slings we were recommended the Kari Me sling which was actually a dream to use.

I love the fact that it is so easy to use (once you have tied it a few times) and that it packs away into a small pouch when you don't need it. It is versatile in terms of the different positions that you can have your baby/toddler in, you can breastfeed with the baby in the sling and it is so snug and cosy for both you and your baby. 

When Theodore got to about 7 months old he became a little too heavy in the Kari Me sling for me to comfortably carry him around, so i started looking around for another one. Although we were given a metal framed one not long after this which is like a rucksack carrier for babies it was still quite heavy to carry him in and impossible to travel with so i went back to my search. All of the reviews i read raved about the Ergo baby carrier, so after much thought we ordered ours. We haven't looked back.

It was fabulous from day one, so light and easy to use and it took the strain off my shoulders which meant that i could carry him around for hours with no adverse affect or pain. It was brilliant. Infact i still use it occasionally with Theodore, although i think now i would order the new sports version because as it has a higher back. See this review of the improvements.

The Ergo baby carrier can be used from birth, although i think that i will still use the Kari Me with the new baby as it more cocooning for a newborn and i am not convinced that they should be in the above position until they are a little older...

There are of course many slings on the market but the Kari Me and the Ergo are my favourite!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Russian Princess snugness with a baby on board

So now that the snow and ice have arrived in Oslo and the temperatures have dropped to minus 8 degrees C i have finally admitted defeat and unearthed my deliciously warm Russian Princess style hat and snug below the knee down coat, which is like wearing a heavenly but stylish duvet, and wonder why i waited so long (my ugg boots and thick gloves have followed, thank heaven). I feel so warm and toastey as i go about Oslo, but i'm also very aware that i wont be able to do my coat up around my pregnant belly for much longer as it's becoming quite a tight fit and the weather will inevitably get colder. So i'm thinking that either i will need to make do and wear it open with a big thick jumper underneath (hmmm i don't have one of those) and risk getting very cold or i need to invest in a new coat. Not just any coat though as i feel that would be a little pointless to buy a maternity coat just for the next two months. It needs to be one that is versatile enough that i can wear it while pregnant, when the baby is born (as i want to carry him in a sling i need a jacket that will do up around us both) and when i have lost the baby weight. There are several different Mama Jackets on the market which fit the bill and i have listed a few here....see what you think:

Now in its fifth season, the MaM Coat is a great solution for babywearing through the cooler (and wetter!) months. It's suitable for use during pregnancy, for front and back carriers, with all kinds of non-framed carriers and it can also be worn without your little one on board.
Using a babywearing coat makes getting out and about much simpler as you just need to pop your baby in the sling, put the coat on and go. No need for snowsuits and raincovers, no problem with pushchair wheels in wet leaves or snow, and you know exactly how hot or cold your baby is all the time.
hmm but is it warm enough?

Although this jacket is hugely practical i personally don't think that it is massively attractive.


 I love this MaM babywearing tunic which comes in weatherproof fleece. It seems to me to be a very stylish Scandinavian design, and perfect for layering throughout the seasons. It can be used during pregnancy and when carrying a baby on the front or back, or without a baby at all. "A timeless investment piece" and i think my favourite overall.

Made of a wool/cashmere blend in either charcoal grey or wine red, this coat also allows you to wear your baby on your back or front without a large amount of billowing fabric surrounding you. It also doubles up as a maternity coat with an extra pregnancy insert - and can also be used without the supplied insert as a normal jacket when you are not carrying your child. Not too bad.

Another convertible 3-in-one- jacket but this one is insulated with pure Canadian Down which makes me think it will be warm enough for the Scandinavien winter. It can be used not only as a maternity jacket but also when you have had the baby and want to wear him/her in a sling as well as afterwards as a regular coat.

This is another down coat but to be honest i'm not a huge fan of this one because although undoubtedly warm it does actually look like you are wearing a sleeping bag/duvet.

Snug Baby Wearing

This could be amazing under my down coat and a slightly cheaper option than buying a totally new coat.
The Peekaru Original is a fleece vest that zips over a soft baby carrier to keep you and your child warm. It says that it also fits comfortably over all carriers, including Baby Bjorns, Hotslings, Ergos, Mei Tais, and Wraps. It's made from 85% recycled high quality Polartec fleece with each Peekaru Original saving approximately 25 plastic bottles from reaching the landfill. In addition, Polartec fleece holds an Oeko-tex Standard 100 for textile products of all types which pose no risk whatsoever to health. So you can feel good knowing that while you are holding your baby close, you are also helping the environment.

 Again not the most flattering design...?

Failing all of those i do have this amazing MaM cover for the slings i have. I saw it on a man carrying his baby when i first moved to Oslo and literally chased him down the street to find out where he bought it from!! It's 4-season microfibre-fleece lined cover and comes with a detachable fleece hood. It's easy to use around any soft slings including the ergo baby carrier and keeps the baby warm and snug in cold countries like Norway, even if the Mama is less than toastey! You can buy them online or from this wonderful shop in Oslo called Bæreglede on Wessels Gate. They have a whole heap of natural baby things including slings, wool clothes and cloth nappies.

and while i'm listing warm things for the winter i also love these  

 Just sooooo cute.


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The small things in life...

Time to read the sunday papers, what bliss!

‎"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things" Robert Brault

There are a few things that we haven't had time to enjoy since having our son, things like lie ins in the mornings, time to read the papers over breakfast or while drinking tea in a cafe, nights out, time together to do what we'd like at our own pace, time together to talk without interuption. Small things that when they come together in one weekend are really quite huge. Infact it was a really big thing for us to be able to get away together for a whole weekend. It is a first since Theodore was born, partly because we haven't wanted to leave him for so long, partly because it has been so hard to get baby sitting in general and definately for the weekend and in part because Andreas' work has been so crazy that it just hasn't been possible for him to get away. Thankfully everything came together this weekend and we had a blissful weekend away without computers or phones and just saw each other. 

Tønsberg's waterfront at night

We went to a small town by the sea called Tønsberg just an hour and a half outside Oslo. It's is reportedly the oldest town in Norway and here they are building a full replica of one of the original viking boats using traditional methods, ready to sail to the UK for the Olympics in 2012. It's a small but pretty town that i imagine comes fully to life in the summer when all the boats pour into the main waterfront to moor up and enjoy the bars and restaurants there, but it is was absolutely perfect for a two day break away from everything.
Here are a few pictures from our weekend:

I love doors if you hadn't noticed!
8 months pregnant this weekend
A huge thank you to everyone who made this weekend possible!

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