Kevin Smith's Blog

Day 140 - happy birthday

Monday, 17 January 2011

Do you know what? 2011 has been pretty cracking so far. I've just had an awesome weekend celebrating Ida's first birthday and I've got so much exciting work flooding in that I'm beaming from ear to ear. So, let's deal with Ida's birthday first...

Ida, quite obviously, doesn't have clue that she'd been on the planet for 12 months. Of course, that didn't stop us celebrating and the little poppet was showered with gifts and cards from our friends and family. Here's a card from her Uncle Ed, who also happens to be her Godfather, which particularly caught our eye:

Leave your suggestions for what the yellow balloon represents in the comments box.

Gemma and me bought her a shopping trolley complete with plastic groceries. Here she is in action, purchasing an orange:

I'm particularly impressed with all the plastic fruit and veg that came with the trolley. Here's everything I reckon we can grow at home (or on the allotment) - start them young and all that:

I'm less impressed with the sausages - again, any comments are very welcome.

And of course, every birthday girl needs a cake. I did my best and whipped up a chocolate sponge (*1) which Gemma decorated with chocolate buttons. I'd love to show you a picture but unfortunately the icing got stuck to the cake-tin lid, which somewhat buggered the overall effect. Never mind, it tasted good, we all sang Happy Birthday and the icing rescue job didn't turn out too badly in the end.

Now, onto work. I can hardly believe how exciting January has been. I've been inundated with work but the thing that's really got me chuffed is a commission from The Guardian's Weekend magazine. I'm not exactly sure when it will be published, although 'February' has be spoken about, but I'll let you know when it's in print. And even better than that, I've been booked to appear at Harvest at Jimmy's on 10 and 11 September. The festival looks SO cool and I'm beyond thrilled to be a part of it. 

I think 2011 is going to be a very good year.

Until next time...

Oh, one more thing. My very dear friend James Grimsey has just proposed to his beautiful girlfriend, Becca, and she said yes. Hurrah! The proposal is an epic tale of snow, aviation, galantry and bacon sandwiches and I'm sure it will be made into a motion picture in the blink of an eye. The date's set for August 2012 and I'm to be an usher - I can't wait. Here is the lovely couple:

*1 I used my Grandma's recipe which I found it lurking in my filing cabinet on a hand-written letter to my mum - she'd have been thrilled, I'm sure

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Day 129 - resolutions

Thursday, 06 January 2011

So, here we are. 2011 is upon us and, like every year, I've got a list of resolutions that will transform me into a better, healthier and generally more attractive man. Are you ready for them? Here goes...

  1. Drink less. I'm not talking about tea, coffee, juice or squash, but alcohol. I'm trying to stay dry on weekdays with a smidgen of success. There's no point in setting myself unrealistic goals and, as such, I've survived the last few days on two G&Ts and a small glass of white wine (the wine was a bit of a downfall, but I had to open it for a recipe and it seemed a shame not to give it a try).
  2. Cook healthy food. By this I mean low-calorie and/or fat-free grub. Gemma's determined to shed a few pounds and, as I do the majority of our cooking, it's up to me to be supportive and not dish up 'bad' food (in other words anything that risks being slightly tasty). I'm doing okay so far and managed to sneak  sausages and the above mentioned wine in to last night's tea, while still dishing up a low-point meal (all Weight Watchers will be familiar with this phrase).
  3. Give up on my hair. I've got a feeling I might need to shave the whole lot off this year. The locks on my left temple are receding at an alarming rate and I think taking the clippers to my barnet  may be the only way forward. Neil Hepworth is going to tell me when I've reached the point of no return, although I'm guessing I'll need a few weeks to pluck up the courage.
  4. Blog more. My blog posts dwindled to virtually nothing at the end of last year (not helped by 'Day 100 - #GWnews') and the trend will not continue. I'm also determined to read more gardening blogs. After all, we're all in this together and it's about time I properly subscribed to a few of the better ones.
I've not a thing to report about the garden - it currently looks very dreary and the patio is littered with discarded 'greenery' from the Christmas decorations (I must put in some effort and move it all to the compost heap). Things are looking a little brighter in the houseplant department though. I've managed to keep a Marks and Spencer orchid alive and it's sending up a second flower spike, I've got a lovely winter cherry on the kitchen windowsill (I know many people think they're hideous but my granny always had one at Christmas time and I'm hell bent on continuing the tradition) and I've an amaryllis in full flower:

To be honest the amaryllis is a bit of a disappointment as it's verging on 'peach' (if you're not familiar with my views on peach, take a look here). It was meant to be bright red, which I suppose teaches me a lesson for buying it from Aldi for two quid.

Okay, that's it for today. I've got to collect Ida from nursery, it's pouring with rain and the rain cover for her buggy is in the car (which Gemma has taken to work). I need to fashion a waterproof covering sharpish - reckon I'll get funny looks if I use a black sack? Or maybe I could nick one off another pram in the nursery 'buggy park'.

Until next time...

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Kevin Smith | Garden Media Writer and Editor

On 31 August 2010 I quit my full-time job as the Commissioning Editor at Gardeners' World Magazine to be a stay-at-home dad  and to try and scratch a living as a freelance garden journalist. It's often said that a 'life change' is good, but can I cut it with the yummy mummys? Will I manage to get a single shred of work done? Will Ida (she's the gorgeous little girl who's the cause of all this) like gardening as much as me? Who knows, we're going to find out...