Saturday, 20 January 2018

Random thoughts

But actually, it would seem that I'm not so good at 'random' as I thought.  

I've been given the incentive to get the creative mojo back as the Art department at the school in which I work have introduced a Thursday afternoon 'Arty Party' for staff after the students have gone home at 3.40pm.  You can go along and do anything creative that you want, use their equipment and make things.  Anything you want.  So I've got to grips with my 'Tipsy Tumbler' quilt and used my time to square up the few blocks that I'd made.

This afternoon I threaded up my sewing machine and got to work making some more blocks so that I could start laying out the rows. 

In a random pattern.  Random.  Should be easy - right?  No pattern to follow, just lay them down.  

So why do I want to find a way of having one of each base colour in each row.  A straight one in the middle of one pointing to the left and one to the right.  It's taking everything I've got to not worry if I have two of the same colour next to each other.  (That's not going to happen, I know that for sure). I didn't realise that I was so bothered about things being equal.  But it's a good way to spend a dreary afternoon, I think it's going to be a very quick dog walk today, not that she cares if it's raining or not!

We have no plans for tonight which is kind of nice.  I feel like just cooking a nice meal, opening a bottle of wine and seeing if there's a film we can watch on the tv.  We went to the cinema on Thursday and saw 'Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri'.  I'd read great reviews about it but it wasn't as great as I was expecting - it reminded me of 'Fargo'.  I think I'd set my expectations too high!  However, we did see the trailer for the new Tom Hanks film with Meryl Streep - The Post and both agreed that we'd like to see that next time.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Relaxing can be very exhausting!

There's been a bit of a delay in writing a post but we've just returned from a long weekend relaxing in the middle of Woburn Forest.  It wasn't our first visit to a Centre Parcs resort but it had been a while since we last went - about 17 years I think!  It has also been a while since we had a family holiday, last time we had two teenagers with us, now those teenagers are both married.  It was absolutely wonderful to spend four days with them and their 'other halves' not to mention our grandson and the dog.

I think it's a good sign that we all came home exhausted - there were lots of walks

 Some of us got messy in the craft den

There was swimming for some, relaxing rides in a rubber ring going round the lazy river for others, and the braver ones amongst us went down the wild water rapids - best done at night apparently when the ride takes you out of the pool area into the cold open air and then bursting back inside again.  I offered to babysit while they did that one!

There was crazy golf

 More long walks with twinkly lights decorating the trees that lined the path back to the lodge

Football games to be watched on the big screen while playing pool in the Sports Bar (happy men in the party - my husband and son are Tottenham Hotspur supporters and my son in law supports Liverpool and both teams won over the weekend) and ten pin bowling to be played.

All in all a fabulously successful weekend, but we're going to need a few days to get over it!

Friday, 5 January 2018

Quick project

I've been itching to get back into sewing since Christmas and today was my first chance to dust off the sewing machine, cut up some fabric and make something.

But first I had to do a half day at work and then come home and dismantle Christmas!  It's always a bit sad to un-decorate the tree and pack everything up but it is kind of nice to give the carpet a good vacuum where the tree has been, put the furniture back where it belongs and dust up all the glitter that's fallen off cards and decorations.

I'm still waiting for the tumbler template to arrive for me to get going on my quilt but I came across a pattern for a quick tote bag here and I decided to give it a go.  It really did live up to it's description of being quick to make and here's the proof

I'm pleased with how it turned out and I think I will have a go at making it in a larger size.  Now we have to pay to be given a plastic bag in the shops I seem to be starting a collection of re-usable bags - although I am prone to leaving them either at home or in the car!  But this one is a perfect size for when you just have a few things and is easily made from a fat quarter of fabric.  If you have an hour to spare and a bit of fabric - why not give it a go too!

Our Art faculty at the school where I work is starting a new after school project too, an 'Arty Party' for staff to go and spend an hour after school finishes on a Thursday.  Any kind of creative project can be worked on and I think I'm going to join in when it starts.  Last time I did anything like that was when they did book binding lessons and it was really good fun.  I am sure I will be able to find something to take with me to work on!

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Starting off with good intentions

2017 was one heck of a year for us.  So much going on, and so many distractions.  If things go to plan, 2018 is going to see some changes.  I'm going to be 60 in March 😳 and I've said all along that I plan to give up work this year.  Clearly I need to decide when to actually go! I've worked at the school since 2001 and it will be very strange to leave but I honestly feel the time is right.  I only work part time so it will be less of a shock to the system than it would be if I worked 5 days a week.  Everyone keeps saying to me 'so when are you going to resign?' and I've been unable to actually choose a time.  But the weird thing is that I woke on New Year's Eve with a clear thought in my mind.  Something somewhere in the universe was telling me that I should go in May.  I can't explain how it was, but I woke up knowing that May half term is when I will leave.  Now I have that thought in my mind, I feel strangely confident that it's the right decision.  

So how will I fill my time?  I don't want to find myself just frittering my days away, I need some structure to my week and I am worried that I will miss learning new things and meeting new people.  Obviously we will continue to look after Leo one day a week but I want to get back into doing more creative things.

My son and daughter in law bought me a set of patchwork charm squares and a book on quilting for Christmas and that has spurred me into action! 

I thought it would be nice to make a quilt where the charm squares they bought me are the major focus and have found a fun quilt called 'Tipsy Tumblers' on the Missouri Quilt company channel on Youtube.  So I've ordered myself some background fabric and a tumbler template and can't wait to get the sewing machine out again.

The other thing that I fancy trying, and this is something I have never done before, is some kind of ceramic painting or pottery.  Again, the universe seemed to be reading my mind and when browsing Facebook the other day a sponsored advert came up for a local pottery class.  It's as if it were meant to be!

My next project is to find a location for a long weekend away with some friends to celebrate the BIG birthday.  We used to go away with them for a few days every year, quite often to a Christmas market somewhere in Europe but got out of the habit a couple of years ago.  They'll be on holiday for my actual birthday so we're going to postpone our celebration with them.  Two locations are currently on the consideration list - 1. Ghent in Belgium.  Which is easy to get to as we can get the Eurostar to Brussels and then an onward train to Ghent. and 2. Bologna in Italy.  Again, easy to get to as Stansted Airport is about 10 minutes drive from us and a couple of budget airlines fly to Bologna.  Two very different places, I wonder which one we'll choose - Belgian chocolate and beer versus pasta and prosecco ...

Friday, 29 December 2017

Finally succumbing to the sales

I'm sure I'm not the only one whose email inbox is full of fantastic sale offers from any website I may have ordered from online over the last year.  Special codes, extra discounts on the discounts, free postage and packing ...

I can't tell you how many things I've almost bought.  How many things I've clicked on, added to a basket and then never gone through to actually buy.  I think at the back of my mind I knew they would just be impulse buys that I was just buying because they were at a greatly discounted price.  But there was one thing that I had seen on the website and fallen for.  Something that I knew I would get a lot of use out of, and would never, ever have paid full price for.  It was from a brand which has a shop in our home town.  And my niece works there.  So when I popped into town yesterday and popped into the shop, it really was just to say 'hi' to her.  Or was it? 😉

'We've got some great things in the sale' she said. 

'I know, I've been looking on line'. 

'Some things that were 25% off have just been marked down again to 50%'


Next thing I knew I was walking out with this little beauty in my hand ...

And inside it was the softest, warmest sweater that you can imagine.  I just love the colour.  I mean, it was still expensive, but not as over the top pricey as it was when it was full price.

If they keep reducing prices, I may have to pop in and say hi to Kirsty again ...

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

The one where we got more snow

The house is strangely quiet.

Both 'kids' are at their in-laws.  Paul's just taken his mum home and it's just me and the dog.  It feels like it's a long time since we didn't have anyone else around.  

After the fiasco with Paul's birthday celebration that had to be cancelled due to snow, I should have known that I should expect the unexpected.  This is what happens when I try to be organised.  The universe is trying to tell me that the more I try to be organised, the more fate will step in to pull the rug from my feet.

The first glitch to my well rehearsed and organised timetable for Christmas Day was very welcome indeed.  We hadn't expected to see Jon and Sophie on Christmas Day as they were spending the day with her family but they were super organised and ended up travelling an hour before they thought they would, so decided to pop in and see us on their way.  So my time plan went totally to pot, a bottle of bubbly was opened to celebrate, I forgot to keep an eye on my timetable and dinner ended up being a fair bit later than expected but who cares when it meant we could have the whole family together on Christmas Day - if only for an hour!  And we got to do our annual whole family group shot

Ninety years between the oldest and the youngest - quite an achievement! 

You can imagine who was the centre of attention for the whole day - he was so good but totally unaware of why he suddenly had all these new toys to play with!  

Boxing Day we were all together again, and that meant family games 

By the look on everyone's faces, I'm not sure that I was describing what was written on my clue card very well!  In the evening, Rachel, James and Leo left to stay the evening with his sister as they were spending today with his family.  I'm hoping they'll be able to travel back as planned this evening as when we looked out the window this morning we saw this

More snow!  It seems to be stopping now but it's been snowing constantly for about 6 hours. One member of the family couldn't wait to get out in it

But again, the unexpected happened and Sophie and Jon's plans were put back and they ended up staying here until after lunch instead of leaving straight after breakfast.  They were desperate to get a good snowy walk in before they left as when it snowed last time, they got very little where they live in London.  Of course, being unprepared for this weather they didn't have any suitable clothing so I had to quickly go in the garage and find spare wellies, warm waterproof coats, hats and gloves. 

I think fate is trying to tell me that my new year's resolution should be to stop trying to be organised, because the minute I think I know what's happening, something crops up to prove me wrong! 

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Counting down

I thought I'd share a photo of the few decorations that Leo hasn't seen fit to rearrange on my tree 😬 We've had him here most days this week for one reason or another and he's certainly kept us on our toes.  At almost 16 months he's a bit too little to understand what's coming, but I know that he will be very excited when he sees all those boxes that he's got to play with.  The new toys will be enjoyed later but boy, does he love a box!

I've been sorting out the presents this afternoon and out of the loft came the good old faithful Santa sacks.  They are 30 years old now and I was tempted to get some new ones that were a little more classy but there are so many memories attached to these that I didn't have the heart to replace them.  

The shops in town have all started their sales which is a) annoying if you've bought something for someone full price and it's now 50% off and b) tempting ...  I'm sure everywhere used to wait at least until Boxing Day didn't they?  I've been waiting to replace a few things in my wardrobe in anticipation of my early retirement next year (not going to be needing those boring black trousers, sensible tops and jackets any more!) and several times I've almost clicked on 'add to basket'.  I can't see me getting past the next few days without buying something ... I mean, come on, 50% off ...

So tomorrow will see me getting up early and heading off to Tesco to stock up on vegetables for the big day and the ever growing list of things I need to finish off dishes that I've prepared in advance and frozen.  I keep reminding myself it's only for two days and we don't have hoards of people coming this year!  

Is everyone else organised and prepared?  And why do I think that I'm too organised, there must be something that I've forgotten?