Thursday, 25 August 2011

So long, South Carolina!

Life is not a constant; it ebbs and flows, twists and turns. Ribboning from one stage to the next, ever changing.

It is made up of many separate passages of time: childhood, adolescence, college years, marriage, parenthood, old age, all punctuated by sections of activity and adventure: holidays, careers, friendship.

The current section of our life entitled 'America' has now drawn to a close; the page has turned, a new chapter has been created: 'Home Again'. As yet, we do not know what will be written on the pages of this new passage yet it is this opaqueness to life, the inability to see our futures, that makes it so exciting, makes every day worth waking up to.

However, our pasts are, as always, very present and although our time here in South Carolina has now ended, we will remember it always as a happy period in our lives and have incredible memories to think back on as time rumbles by.

Here are a few things that I shall miss most about living in Greenville, SC:

sunshine and big, blue skies
the warmth on your skin well into November
constant friendliness
supreme street cleanliness
city pride
walking down the street and passing the time of day with strangers
Oprah in the afternoon
driving on the straight, open roads to North Carolina
Five Guys burgers
Chick-fil-A milkshakes
Whole Foods & The Fresh Market
Downtown restaurants
Falls Park and Cleveland Park in ALL seasons
looking out of my windows into the tranquil woodland all around
deers grazing in the garden at dawn and dusk
azaleas and orange day lilies in full bloom 
great steaks and home-cooked appetisers
grilling with friends at the weekend

During our years in SC, we met some incredible people, all of whom, without exception, welcomed us with open arms and treated us as old friends. There are too many special people to mention, plus, you all know who you are!

I hope we will be back one day soon to visit and I know that the area will have both moved forward and stayed the same, just as it should be. As the birthplace of our daughter, I will always keep the city very close to me and I have a Palmetto-shaped hole growing daily in my heart.

Stay 'Southern' Greenville! It is what makes you great and gives you your uniqueness. 

I miss you already.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Until December Mr Bob

So, today I said a temporary goodbye to my beloved dog, Bob, who has to stay at our friend's house here in the US while he waits out his rabies quarantine. He will be flying back to us towards the end of the year.

In honour of the fluffy monster, here are a few of his favourite things and some qualities I will miss the most while we are apart:

Mr Bob likes to run round and round in fields chasing birds and squirrels

He likes to chew bones and baby toys but has never once chewed our furniture

Bob likes to sleep on the bed, but only when there's just one person in it, two people in and he's not a happy bunny

Bob loves leftovers and will wait until he is absolutely sure there are none left for him before he goes to eat his own dinner

He loves a good stroke right deep down under his ears and on his belly. Actually, anywhere's a good spot for Bobble.

He loves a good daytime nap and will alternate between the comfy, warm sofa and the cool floor, especially during the hot summer.

Mr Bob deeply enjoys a walk. It doesn't need to be far or exciting. 

He is crazy and attention seeking, but is also gentle and patient (especially with babies and children)

Bob craves a proper Master in his life and will become your devoted dog-servant if you are.

Bobble loves to chase flies but as yet has failed to catch one in flight.

He loves to ride in the car and will race to jump in the seat beside you.

Bob is good at the vets and is adored by all the nurses there, of course!

Mr Bob will eat almost anything except cucumber. Bananas? He has to be 'in the mood'

Bring him a treat or bone home and he will LOVE you forever

Don't leave doors open in the daytime where it may be possible for him to steal towels or clothes as he will hump them mercilessly all day long.

Mr Bob is my baby, my first-born boy and I will be counting down the days until he is back with us. I know he will be in excellent hands and trust his guardian completely. I know he will have a great time and will grow up and become more independent without me molly-coddling him every day.

But oh!, how my heart is broken. I miss his oatmeal smell, his soft, shaggy blond curls, his yellow-green eyes and inch-long ginger eyelashes. I miss the way he snuggles in for a cuddle and bows his head down in deference to the stroking. I miss the beautiful way he walks, with his bum wiggling behind. I miss his plain gorgeous little Bobble face, framed in a halo of fur like a lion. I miss his long, swaying tail and his little brown paw pads. I miss his brown, wet nose and pink lips.

Bobble and I have been partners since almost the day we arrived in Greenville and without him to walk and play with everyday, my experience here would have been very different. Thanks for the memories! I cannot wait to see you at the airport in December.

Be a good boy x x x 

Thursday, 21 July 2011

A Year, In a Day

This time last year I still hadn't met you, you were just an abstract being in my belly, flailing around and causing me to drop to all fours in agony on the pavement at will as you pushed your head down deep inside...

This time last year I was still Pregnant Clare, I hadn't yet passed over to the Promised Land, the place beyond 40 weeks...motherhood...

This time last year I hadn't laid eyes on your beautiful (large, 9lbs!!!) head, your perfect body, fully functional, complete with fingernails and everything...

This time exactly last year I was strapped up to IV lines and foetal monitors; I slept my last sleep with you on the inside in the hospital bed and waited patiently, watching the hours tick by slowly as the anticipation and excitement built steadily within.

Tomorrow is your First Birthday, already! We have cake and a candle, even a special birthday girl party hat. It's all for us really as you don't understand the significance, it's just another day for you.

When you popped into my life last year you were not what I expected. I never dared to believe there was a real baby in there so when I saw you, you blew my mind and covered me in a fog of disbelief which numbed me. In the first few weeks following, the fog began to clear and I saw you properly for the first time. You, our child, our incredible achievement, borne from me, of us. I saw my past, present and future in you, stretching out well beyond my life on this Earth. 

You complete me in every way. You teach me about myself daily. You are merely 12 months old but already so bright and funny, intelligent and caring.

Where the next 12 months take us, I do not know. I don't dare to dream about the person you will be by then. There surely won't be room in my heart for all the love and admiration...

Happy Birthday to my pigeon pie. You are, without doubt, the BEST! 

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Listography: Top 5 Ice Creams

My Mum doesn't like ice-cream, I think it's the coldness (which kind of rules it out) so she won't appreciate this Listography.

I, on the other hand, have a voracious sweet tooth and adore ice-cream, especially if it has a) chocolate and b) caramel in it. 

Writing this list takes me right back to my childhood and trooping off to the local shop with my friends and cousins to buy ice-creams on that one, magnificent summer's day in the school holidays. 

1) Zzapp!

An enigma in the ice-cream world, I never found these in shops where I lived. Maybe this added to the deliciousness of them, but they only turned up on specific ice-cream vans.

The psychedelic ice-cream colours and the unique flavour which I never really pinned down: toffee? caramel? all add up to my top favourite lolly.

2) Bounty

Bounty runs a close second to a Zzapp and is a relative newcomer to the world of ice creams. The combination of creamy coconut and rich dark chocolate sends me to a higher plane.

3) Snickers


From the same family as Bounty, I love the way all the different elements blend together and you end up with a big, sticky, chocolately mess by the end. 

4) Solero

Perfect on a really hot day when a chocolate lolly wouldn't suffice. The sharp fruity outer layer would dissolve away to leave the luscious ice cream middle!

5) Nobbly Bobbly

This is the husband's contribution to the list, running closely alongside cider lollies (yuk!)

For more trips down ice-cream nostalgia lane, visit Kate Takes 5 and her fab Listography.


Monday, 4 July 2011

Frock It! #10 What To Wear To a Wedding

This week, my head nearly fell off with so many high profile social events going on around the world; I could hardly bear to tear myself away from the computer! Starting from the bottom up, you had footballer Peter Crouch and his model/TV Presenter/WAG Abbey Clancey's wedding, then Kate Moss showing us you can be a bride and still achieve the 'dragged through a hedge backwards' look at her 'Rock n' Roll' nuptials on Friday.

Over the weekend, there was the climax of the Wimbledon championships and finally the Eurotrash wedding of the century of Price Philanderer Albert II of Monaco and his South African swimmer bride Princess Charlene. 

With rumours swirling of the bride trying to flee on no less than 3 separate occasions and new love children running amok, it shows Charlene really does have nerves of steel to go ahead with what soon became the greatest anti-climactic wedding EVER. I have seen more chemistry between a dead dog and a plank of wood than between these two 'lovebirds'. Only time will tell the future of the Grimaldi house...personally, I don't see a happy ending, but hey ho, she certainly looked the part, quite exquisite. 

For my Frock It! post this week, I have chosen to stick to the Monegasque wedding and focus on the happy couple's niece Charlotte Casiraghi.  

I feel like I do a lot of bitchy Frock Its, which is fun, but today I'm playing it straight as I thought Charlotte looked simply sublime.

With her Aunt, Princess Stephanie. Anyone for Botox?
 Obviously she wore Chanel; it is the go-to designer for the Grimaldis. From the label's Spring 2011 couture collection, she looked absolutely the epitome of style and not unlike a pink, padded handbag from the eponymous designer, non?!

With boyfriend, Alex Dellal
Proving elegance and grace runs through her blue-blooded veins, she tops off the outfit with a simple black veiled headpiece which cast subtle shadow across her magnificent cheekbones.

Tres belle, Mademoiselle.

Happy Fourth of July

I hope all my American friends are having a fantabulous Fourth of July weekend.

I was inspired to make this flag cake after seeing it on A Cup of Jo. So, the photos aren't great, but the effect is pretty good and it tastes deeeelicious (trust me, I've had a lot of it).


....and after, da daaaah!

We grilled out with our neighbours and the babies enjoyed a splash around in the paddling pool.

Couldn't you just gobble up those chunky little legs!

 A great start to what I hope will be a lovely week (it's nearly birthday time!!)...

Top up the vino please JP!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Frock It! #9

For this week's Frock It!, I am taking the lead of Mid30sLife and am showing one of my favourite baby outfits.

I was going to wax lyrical about Duchess K of Mid's style overhaul and the two sublime outfits she chose to wear publicly this week; her military-style coat and the ballgirl chic white Temperley dress at SW19 but, it's all too predictable now. She's clearly not going to put a LK Bennett foot wrong anymore, which is good, but it just means endless fawning and that's a bit, well, boring.

Maybe I will digest her Canadian and US outfits over the coming few weeks and do a fully comprehensive one-stop shop Duchess Tour of Duty special where I can hyperbolate and fawn to my heart's content...

So, back to this week and I have chosen a little dress that's a bit different from what you would pick up at your local Mothercare.

My Dad bought this outfit as part of Imogen's Christmas present and it came all the way from 78 Degrees North ie, the Arctic Circle. 

Back last year, my Dad undertook a sailing expedition to the North Pole via Norway (I think) mainly to explore and to view Polar Bears in their natural habitat. He found this great little shop that designs and makes childrenswear.

I adore it's uniqueness and it's Scandinavian simplicity. Imogen has only worn it once as I have no idea how to wash it and am petrified of ruining it, so it hangs up dutifully in the wardrobe and will be a keepsake for her future. Also, I couldn't be arsed had no opportunity to put it on her to take a photo, so, sorry about that, but she does look very cute (obviously). 

Completely unrelated photo!