Hallow Again…

Where has the year gone?

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Will the kids’ Amazon Prime costumes arrive in time or are they still on a longboat from China?

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I think mine is bottom right, three to the left

Will it be raining on the 31st, meaning the kids’ costumes will be completely hidden under their winter coats?

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So many questions, very few answers.

And yet, each year, we go again with same ol’ routine:

  1. Sort kids’ costumes.
  2. Bring Halloween decorations down from the loft.
  3. Buy more decorations, because nothing really survived from last year.
  4. Change costume idea because the kids’ have seen something better.
  5. Carve half term pumpkins with the kids by myself because the kids get bored after half an hour I’m a control freak.
  6. Re-think kids’ costumes because a few of them want to go as the same thing.
  7. Buy massive tub of sweets for trick or treat visitors me. (Cadbury’s Heroes.)
  8. Revert back to original kids’ costume idea, by which time it’s sold out on eBay, Amazon, everywhere.

Unless you live in America or a certain strip of North West London that totally goes for it under the guidance of their leader Mr Jonathan Ross, it really is just a fabulous excuse to play dress us and have some fun.

And there really is very little to actually scare you. (Unless you count the out of date sweets people try to palm off on your kids.)

So, in the spirit of Halloween, here is a list of super scary things imo:

1. Drop it like it’s hot

I don’t think I know a soul who hasn’t cracked their smartphone screen, even just a tiny bit. For some it’s a weekly occurrence. (You know who you are.) That palpable fear when you drop it and tentatively turn it over to assess the damage…

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2. Where’s the parking angel at?

You’re only going to be 5 minutes… you’ll risk it.  Oh but that that dash back to the car to see if there is a sticky yellow rectangle on your windscreen…

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3. Door Handle Rattlings

When you’re out and about, minding your business, ‘doing’ your business and someone tries the cubicle door handle. Well, it’s enough to make you sh*t yourself…

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4. Non-moving escalators

Stairs? No problem. A non-moving escalator? Huge problem. What if it starts working mid ascent? Or the fact that your brain is concentrating so hard on lifting each foot up to hit the next step? There is just something very unnerving about scaling non-moving escalators.

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5. Sleeping with an open window 

More of a summer problem really when the bedroom windows are open all night. The problem usually occurs around 5 am when you hear that familiar low hummed ‘buzzzzz’ behind the blinds. The bastard has got in…

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6. Fishing for toast

When you toast is stuck and you need a bit of help dislodging it…in the form of a knife. You switch off the toaster. You UNPLUG the toaster. You move the toaster away from the WALL. And yet still, there is that fear of electrocution…

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Don’t worry, I now own some toaster tongs

7. Waste disposals

Similar to the above really. A spoon has managed to slip through the ‘splash guard‘ (yes, I had to look up what it was called) and you immediately switch off the waste disposal, tentatively reaching your hand down into the depths to fish out the mangled spoon. Admit it, you still fear that somehow, like in horror films, the motor will switch back on and saw your hand off.

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8. Keeping it in

When you’re in a ‘quiet’ exercise class – think pilates, yoga – and there are some demanding moves. I know it’s only natural, and some of us are more relaxed about breaking wind in front of others (you know who you are), but for me, I would never be able to go visit that fitness studio again.

9. Go with the flow

When you flush the loo (especially in a friend’s house) and the water level rises…and rises…and rises.  And their loo is carpeted. There is no fear quite like it.

10. Shoplifting

You’ve been browsing, you’ve bought nothing, you KNOW you’ve bought nothing, but when you walk out past those ‘alarm post things’ by the door and that alarm goes off, you STILL feel guilty.

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It wasn’t me

11. Housesitting

When a neighbour gives you a set of spare keys so that you can water their plants while they are away. It’s a simple lock, the alarm panel is literally as you enter and the keys have that handy fob on them that you just tab. You don’t even need to memorise a pin.  And yet when those bleeps sound, it’s panic stations.

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BEEP!BEEP!BEEP!BEEP!

12. Don’t wish too hard

I’m throwing this in because I feel I need validation. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen too many films like ‘Vice Versa’ and ’13 Going on 30′ and ‘What Women Want’. Or maybe that I just have a very vivid imagination? But I have this weird ‘thing’ where I’m at home, maybe in the shower and I imagine I have been granted one wish. Except I don’t just wish for something brilliant – I almost mock the faux-wish and think ‘public place’! And WHAM! I magically end up standing in the middle of Brent Cross, starkers…  Anyone?

And finally, in the spirit of Halloween and 13 being a ‘scary number’ and thinking about my thirteen year old and her best friend...

13. Parenting Fails 

When you take your daughter and her friend out for the day and you’re running down the stairs to catch a train and you all manage to get on when you realise it’s the wrong train. So you all quickly jump off before the doors close. Except for BFF is frozen to the spot. And as you shout in slow motion from the platform, “Getttttttttt offffff thhhhhhhe trrrrraaaaaaiiiinnnnn!”, she doesn’t. And the doors firmly close. And the train pulls away.  I will never ever forget the look on her face, my daughters face, probably my face. Fear not – the friend was a mature 13 years of age, in possession of a mobile phone so within minutes I had every station attendant ready to greet the 14:27 from West Hampstead Thamelink into St Pancras. There were even police officers. It was an emotional reunion. There are still some very kind lovely people in the world.

So, with all those sweets entering your household, one way to stave off temptation is a healthy snack and so don’t throw out the pumpkin seeds from your carvings.

According to Google: ‘Pumpkin seeds are a good source of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc and fatty acids — all of which may help keep your heart healthy. Studies have also shown that pumpkin seed oil may reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels — two important risk factors for heart disease.’

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees. Wash seeds. Dry seeds. Lay them on a roasting tin. Lightly spray with olive oil and add some Herbamare. Give them about half an hour in the oven with some midway shaking (tray not you).

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Yes. The lids look like willies. Grow up.

But beware, they give you wind. ‘Apparently’…

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Prepare to Be Amazed

I was a Brownie. I was a Girl Guide. The whole ethos of ‘be prepared’ definitely made an impact on me, although half the time I think it’s because I just can’t be bothered with the hassle that comes with not being prepared.

Like in the car:

(loud sneeze)

“Mummy!!!! Quick! I need a tissue!!!”

‘Use your sleeve’ some may say but I just don’t need the extra washing so for that reason, tucked in the side door pocket are tissues. Yup, the flat pack of tissues that you think no-one ever buys from Boots. Well I do.

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Like in the kitchen:

If I can make dinner in the morning and have it on a slow cook all day, then when I come through the door late from the kids’ swimming lesson, I don’t need to worry about dinner whilst washing their hair, sorting their homework and unravelling the swimming costumes that have been rolled tighter than a Havana cigar. (* Favourite post-swim recipe at the end of the blog.)

Like on a plane:

Whilst everything goes up into the overhead storage, I keep essentials with me in my seat so that there is little need to stand up (interrupting my prime film viewing). Kindle, iPad, moisturiser, chewing gum (for plane breath) and sucky sweets for the kids upon landing. Oh, and massive cosy scarf that’s been freshly washed. I then mummify myself by wrapping the scarf around as much of my being as possible. I like to imagine other passengers can also see animated flowers wafting off of me as I move around in my seat.

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I actually use Fairy, but their ads don’t have flowers

Like when I go out for the day:

My bag has the usual suspects – keys, wallet, phone, but amongst it all is a Mary Poppins-style bottomless cosmetic bag of wonders, including things like: plasters, stain remover wipes (best things ever), mini perfume atomiser, calpol tablets (kids) and lip balm. In the 80s it was Lipsyl, but today, it’s Eve Lom Kiss Mix.

 

I am what is known as a ‘lip licker‘: yup, it’s a real condition. I always have a pot of this wondrous stuff with me and can’t bear it when people dip their fingers into the pot. For this reason I shove my lips directly into the pot to apply and it seems to deter others from finger-dipping.  (Win-win.)

But my point with this blog (and I don’t want to sound too Carrie Bradshaw), is ‘how organised is too organised’?

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Carrie? Can you help?

I have a friend (no names mentioned but she will know soon enough), who is so insanely organised, that she readies the breakfast stuff for her kids the night before. Bowls are placed on the kitchen table, filled with cereal of choice and then covered, yes, covered, with cling film. It’s “to stop the spiders going in.”

With being prepared, I do get it. I am it. I had to revoke my Costco membership because I was fast becoming their second biggest stockpiler of loo roll. (And the cookie multi-packs.). It was just too dangerous for me to have access to such a place.

A recent trip to Disney indulged every organised bone in my body. Schedules, restaurant bookings, ruck-sack packing for the parks. I was all over it and loved it.  Including ordering disposable ponchos for the ‘wet rides’. Yup, I did that.

Husband is all for being prepared too, although this translates as ‘I’ll leave my coat out on the couch instead of hanging it up, because I’m only going to wear it in the morning.” Oh, ok. I’ll just empty out all of your clothing onto the floor so that you don’t need to ever open a cupboard or drawer ever again. (He’s tempted by this idea, I’m sure.)

And it’s not just my generation – the older generation seem to be on the preparation path. Although in some cases it may be ‘Preparation H‘. So canny is my mother in law, that juices are Nutri Bullet-ed the night before and vitamins are all measured out. I guess she’d be dead by the time she counted them all out in the morning, so fair do’s…

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Only the half of it

My kids are on it too – they see not brushing their teeth in the evening as ‘no big deal’ (whilst I freak out), as the toothpaste is still on the toothbrush for the morning.

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I think the whole point of me wanting to be prepared is an innate sense of not wanting to fail or let someone down. What if my lovely neighbour needed to borrow some sugar or milk …or even sumac?

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Yup. I have that

And if I ever ask if I can come to Costco with you, just say no.


*Post activity dinner where you come through the door too late to fuss with cooking.

Perfect Pot Roast by Ree Drummond, The Frontier Woman.

I cook it all day long in the oven on 100°C with no worries. Leave out the wine and rosemary if you want a ‘lighter’ taste. My family aren’t mash fans so I lightly toast a ciabatta that I’ve sliced in half along the length. Place in a bowl and spoon over the meat and the juices soak into the bread. Am now salivating. Roll on swimming next week.

(I’m midly obsessed with Ree. She’s was a city girl, moved to the country, married a cowboy and now lives on a ranch with her four kids, writing, blogging, cooking and has recently opened a store. I want to go there and meet her. And eat her food. And say yee-har.)