Sunday, December 30, 2007

Saturday shopping, Sunday lazing

We've spent the last few days of 2007 flexing our credit cards - M at Maison Martin Margiela and Gieves & Hawkes, myself at DKNY and John Smedley. My usual wardrobe consists of my favourite clothing colours black and white and indigo and charcoal, but pregnancy hormones are drawing me towards a different colour spectrum. I had already bought a vibrant, metallic grey dress and burgundy pink sequin camisole from DKNY for my work Christmas party a week ago, and yesterday I bought clothing in champagne and plum and electric blue. These are the colours that are exciting me now.

We strolled through Hyde Park in the brilliant sunshine and popped into the disorientating Anthony McCall light show in the Serpentine. We cabbed it to Dover Street for macaroni cheese and apple pie at the fabulous Automat American brasserie, before wandering around the quirky and wonderful collections at Dover Street Market.

As evening fell, we made it to Tottenham Court Road and bought a 250 GB Sony HDD and DVD recorder. We then spent the rest of the night at home setting it up and playing around with it, not even bothering to cook - instead we dined on cheese and crackers, clementines and chocolate.

The cheese gave us both nightmares. M's dream revolved around Elton John (don't ask); my own anxious dream was about leaving my newborn baby hungry and dirty all night because I didn't know how to breast feed it or change its nappy. Bizarrely, I also dreamed of Mick Jagger and David Bowie floating contentedly down a canal through busy high street Peckham, surrounded by unconcerned shoppers, and ordering takeout curry from a man in Islamic clothing who waded out into the water to serve them in their gondola.

Now it's nearly lunchtime on a Sunday. We started the day with bulging bacon and tomato ketchup sandwiches, then I spent the morning reading the feel-good novel Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani while M went to the gym. I'm still playing around with the HDD recorder. I'm editing Match Of The Day M recorded last night so we can keep just the Arsenal v. Everton match highlights. I'm editing out the adverts from the Badlands movie we also recorded. And I've put Kiki's Delivery Service on the timer to record while we go out grocery shopping later.

Later tonight, I will cook a hearty beef chilli con carne and we'll eat it with tacos and guacamole. M is planning to make a New York cheesecake. He made a fabulous puff pastry pie with the leftover Christmas goose (above) after Boxing Day. For New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, we will roast a leg of lamb and then serve the remains up in a sheperd's pie.

Hope you're having a good weekend.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas lists

Food we ate...

My wonderful husband cooked the main Christmas Day meal: Roasted Gressingham goose stuffed with whole oranges / potatoes roasted in goose fat / homemade apple sauce / homemade chesnut stuffing / red cabbage with juniper berries / brussels sprouts / black forest gateau from Paul on Old Compton Street / steamed Christmas pudding / cardamom wafer and rose and violet cream chocolates from Liberty / clementines / Shropshire blue, Wensleydale, Double Gloucester and soft goats cheeses with assorted crackers / lots of expensive French red wine, and elderflower cordial for me / beef steaks with fries and a tomato salad on Christmas Eve / whole salmon with French beans, new potatoes, citrus and fennel salad and dill sauce on Boxing Day

Gifts we received...

M: Band Of Brothers DVD box set / Berlin Alexanderplatz DVD box set / vintage hand trowel and fork gardening set / crystal liquor glasses / Malin & Goetz grooming products / Book tokens / pottery
Me: The L Word DVD box set / Satyajit Ray's Abhijan DVD / a cashmere wrap / a National Geographic world atlas / book tokens / Nigella Express cookbook / The Rough Guide To Pregnancy And Birth book / pottery / the incredibly useful reference tome Harden's London Baby Guide

Christmas TV and movies we watched...

Peter And The Wolf / The Snowman, with the original David Bowie introduction / The Simpsons / The Polar Express / Only Fools And Horses / To The Manor Born

Who I missed the most...

My parents. I can't wait to see them again in the New Year.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The weekend

I had intended for the weekend to be a chilled affair in the run up to Christmas but I should have known better.

night, shopping for maternity wear at Top Shop, Benetton and M&S and then meeting up with my husband, who had just returned from the States, for a Korean dinner at Bi-won on Coptic Street.

Saturday, schlepping around central London and battling against the heaving crowds for last minute Christmas gifts - a Casio Exilim camera for a little boy, a 2008 "dear diary", a computer game and a DVD box set for a little girl, wrapping paper and cards from the wonderful treasure trove that is Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road. M still has a bit more shopping to do (my presents I suspect!) but he has Christmas Eve off work. We ate a late lunch of rose apple and chicken stir fry and jungle curry at Busaba Eathai on Wardour Street, then popped into Paul bakery on Old Compton Street to order a black forest gateaux for Christmas. Last minute Christmas food shopping at John Lewis then a much deserved cab home. By this time my back was aching and I was feeling quite uncomfortable - I had to unbutton my (non-maternity) jeans in the taxi. Once home, M cooked us a roast chicken with roast potatoes and wilted spinach and then we settled in to watch Spiderman 3 on DVD.

Sunday, heading to the Southbank to revisit the sensational Painting Of Modern Life at the Hayward, which examines the use and translation of photographic imagery in contemporary painting, and Louise Bourgeois at the Tate Modern. At the Tate, we were transfixed by the delight of a little toddler waddling with squealing joy towards each Bourgeois piece with her arms outstretched. Obviously in thrall of the different shapes and textures, the toddler's excitement was a refreshing counterpart to the artist's own depiction of childhood angst. We stopped for a comfort lunch of chunky handcut chips at Benugo and then a look at Patrick Keiller's The City Of The Future installation/compilation of film footage from London to Shanghai from the years 1896-1909.

On the way home, we stopped off for more groceries for Christmas and then while M cooked us a dinner of Mexican chilli and chicken "lasagne" (made with tortilla layers instead of pasta), I vegged out with uplifting chick flick The Holiday with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. After dinner, we both settled in to watch the disappointing Robert Downey Jr movie A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints.

And now to bed, as I have work tomorrow. Christmas for me will begin from tomorrow evening. Hurrah! Although then I'm back at work on Thursday and Friday. Our wedding, two honeymoons - to India and Japan - and then a trip to New York have used up all my holiday allowance for this year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


... I've discovered Celebrity Baby Blog and Baby Razzi and am now addicted. Did you know Britney Spear's 16 year old sister is pregnant? And so is Lily Allen. Okay, so you all knew. I've not been keeping up with the gossip, I admit it!

Better tear myself away from the computer and go out and finish up my Christmas shopping! M's just returned from a work trip to the US so we met up last night for a Korean meal at Bi-won on Coptic Street. I was laden down with maternity clothes from Top Shop, Benetton and M&S as at 17 weeks many of my existing clothes are on the tight and uncomfortable side (and I no longer want to stretch my designer clothes). This weekend, we're going to try and take it easy. Christmas shopping today in town and then home to cook a roast chicken and watch Spiderman 3 on DVD.

I'm working on Christmas Eve but then my mother-in-law and sister-in-law will join us for Christmas itself at our place. M is cooking roast goose with red cabbage plus chestnut and apple stuffing, which I am really looking forward to as I've never eaten goose before.

Have a lovely Christmas all!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bump or frump

Last week I bought a luxe metallic grey dress and burgundy sequin camisole to wear for the upcoming work Christmas party. I always find DKNY dresses very roomy so I didn't feel the need to buy maternity. However, wearing it made my still easily-disguisable but growing bump look huge. There was no way work wouldn't guess I was pregnant. So the dress became the deciding factor in telling my colleagues that I was pregnant.

I told my immediate boss a few days ago and then a few colleagues, and slowly word trickled out. The company is 150+ though so many people still do not know. That was why I was extremely nervous about the party last night.

Some of us girls traipsed excitedly off to the Virgin Active gym across the road to get changed as there is more space there and lots of all important mirrors, hair dryers and plug sockets for straighteners. There, I pulled my dress on and immediately panicked. I've never been pregnant before and have never had a bump and here I was looking blatantly pregnant in a dress whose shiny metallic fabric glinted under lights and bounced off every curve.

The girls reassured me that I looked fabulously pregnant rather than frumpishly fat. But even looking pregnant made me anxious as it's such a dramatic change to my body and I'm simply not used to it.

I spent the first hour or so at the party feeling very conspicuous. But as the night progressed, I began to feel more and more comfortable about the bump being on show. Last night must have been a real milestone because today is a new day and I feel I can wear a tighter ti-shirt and not try and hide the bump away under layers. Hurrah!

Being publicly pregnant takes some getting used to.

16 weeks + 5 days

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Allow me to introduce...

... Little Planethalder. Now officially 16 weeks and 4 days.

Squint and you'll be able to see him or her a little clearer in all that fuzz.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A few lovely things

... Spending the weekend with my parents in Suffolk and eating lots of cake in celebration of both my mother's and my husband's birthdays
... Watching the glee on M's face as he flicked through the leatherbound edition of Arsenal newspaper cuttings from the last 80 years or so that I got him, amongst other things, for his birthday
... Cooking and eating okra curry with red peppers and black mustard seeds on a cold, wintry night
... Buying a metalic silver dress and sequin burgundy vest from DKNY for our work Christmas party. Just need to buy the push up bra, heels and a new pair of Wolford tights and I'm set
... Wining and dining clients on expenses
... Getting a promotion at work today and my second pay rise of the year - yippeeee!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The house

Here are photos of the Victorian house in North London we are buying... Not our type of decor but we can always change this in good time.

The living room... The front of the living room will be where we relax together and with friends and family. We want to make the back part of the lounge a library, with wall to wall books and a comfy reading chair and tall reading lamp. There is a French door at the back which looks out onto the side of the house - we want to make this strip into a Zen garden of sorts so we can read and look out and be at peace.

The kitchen... We anticipate spending alot of time here. Our current kitchen is so small we've always been reluctant entertaining - perferring to eat out. But this kitchen is big and cosy at the same time and the vendor is leaving his lovely high-tech cooker behind. Finally, space to display all our cookbooks.

The bathroom... Um, may have to paint this all white and tile it but it's fine for immediate use.

The upstairs hallway looking out to the bathroom and then the back bedroom... The whole house is in need of a fresh lick of white paint to lift the place and make it bright and airy. There's a double bedroom to the left and the master bedroom behind. The loft is above and big enough to make another double bedroom or a roomy study if we wish...

The garden with well-established trees and shrubs. M is already looking at gardening books in the bookstores so he can grow vegetables. We would also like to have an apple tree and another fruit tree planted... Or perhaps a "garden studio".

The back of the house... Can you see the space along the side where we want to make a calming Zen space?

I'm so terribly impatient to move into our very own home. For the first time in my life, I've made some rather (wonderfully) conventional choices this year - I got married, I'm about to buy a house... What next I wonder?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cold and rainy days and nights

Random notes from the last week or so: Lusty and disturbing George Baselitz at the Royal Academy / Takeaway fish and chips slathered in vinegar, salt and ketchup / Enjoyable if conventional Brick Lane at the Curzon Soho / Moreish sausage rolls at Konditor & Cook in the Curzon / Huge cheesecakes at Patisserie Valerie on Old Compton Street / One of my favourite comfort dishes of all time, dolsot bibimbap, and other Korean delights, at Bi-Won on Coptic Street / Old romantic movies on cold rainy weeknights - The Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant, James Stewart and Katharine Hepburn, and Indiscreet with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman - while my husband is away on business in Paris / Finishing the absorbing and characterful novel Digging To America by Anne Tyler and starting Kiran Desai's exquisitely written The Inheritance Of Loss / The comprehensive Breaking The Rules exhibition at the British Library on avant garde printing traditions in Europe between 1900 and 1937 / Long, tiring but exhilerating working days as clients rush to launch things before the Christmas and the New Year / Gearing up for the work party season with colleagues and clients / More comfort eating - huge portions of cheesy tacos from Mexicali and baked potatoes with chilli cheese or baked beans and cheese from Spud-U-Like for weekday lunches / Sheltering from the downpour after work with beef rendang and other Indonesian and Malaysian delights at Melati on Peter Street / Happy that my Virgin Active gym membership now entitles me to use any branch in London - now I just need to motivate myself to go more often / Still waiting for all the paperwork to be tied up, but meeting the vendor of our new house and learning how the heating works / Eve Arnold's beautifully evocative and epic photos from China in 1979 at Asia House / Filling and spicy lamb kebabs, bhel puri and vegetable samosas at Asia House's elegant little Cafe T / This weekend's viewing: the gorgeously filmed Seven Years In Tibet last night and later this afternoon perhaps we'll watch John Huston's classic Moby Dick on DVD / Bowls overflowing with blueberries, peaches and clementines / Roast chicken for Sunday dinner later tonight.