Saturday, 4 November 2017

An almost, sort of, kind of scrapbooking

I've made no secret of the fact that my scrapbooking days are (I think) behind me but there's a little piece of scrapbooking love that remains with me.  It's regenerated in the form of making photobooks.  It's taken me a while but I have finally finished the photobooks for both Rachel and Jon's weddings.  I spent so much time on these and am really pleased with the way they turned out.

I used Photobox for them and am, as always, really impressed with the quality of the finished product. I won't bore you with a full reveal but here's a few to give a flavour of what a wonderful summer we had.

A beautiful day, in a beautiful location and (I may be a bit biased here) a beautiful bride.  We were so lucky that we were able to have the ceremony under a pergola beside a lake in the grounds of a fab Manor House.

In the evening we had a 'Magic Mirror' with props instead of a Photo Booth, it was a fun idea and loads of people used it so they have some great fun memories of people being very silly!

Wedding two

Jon's legal ceremony took place in London, just down the road from where he lives.  And with the formalities over we then spent the next week preparing the next venue for the celebration with all family and friends.  That involved erecting a large marquee, decorating it and keeping our fingers firmly crossed for another day of nice weather.

Totally unconventional - just like the bride and groom - we were sitting on straw bales which were covered with patchwork quilts made by Sophie's grandmother, with Sophie's brother conducting the ceremony, bride and groom both writing their own vows and Rachel doing a reading from Sophie's favourite series of books, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.

And I mean, who doesn't have a mariachi band performing at their wedding reception?

Monday, 30 October 2017

Accidentally walking in a winter wonderland

We went shopping for spring flowering bulbs this morning.  Ended up in a Christmas grotto at the garden centre and bought a couple of new tree decorations.  So much for 'not buying anything towards Christmas until at least November.'
 But that's it for now - not one card or roll of wrapping will find itself in my shopping basket for at least a couple of days 😉

At the weekend our paper included this supplement

Do you listen to podcasts?  My son introduced them to me a while ago when 'Serial' was top of the charts.  I like a true crime story, especially one that isn't straightforward.  I was hooked.  Then last year I listened to 'S-Town' which certainly took some odd twists and turns.  I kind of forgot to download any after that, until I had a phase of having trouble getting off to sleep at nights.  I didn't want to disturb P by having a light on to read so I thought I would try listening to something through headphones instead.  

I discovered that some radio programmes do a podcast version and I've got hooked. It's nothing heavy - in fact a couple of them ensure that it is not a reading light that keeps P awake, but me chuckling to myself - he of course can't hear what is making me laugh as I've got headphones on and apparently it can be quite annoying to wonder what on earth I'm laughing about.  But I have to say it is a great way to fall asleep (I quite often have to listen to the same podcast a couple of times as I am so relaxed I fall asleep before the end of it and have to rewind to hear the second half!)

My podcast lists are a real mix of genres 

Since reading the Sunday supplement I've downloaded 'Dirty John' and I think it's going to be a good one!  Anyone else out there a podcast fan?  I'd welcome any good suggestions!

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Sorting out your drawers ...

... or

how wearing your lucky knickers can put a spring in your step.

We had a training day at work yesterday.  I was not looking forward to it as experience has shown that Inset Day speakers have a tendency to focus on teaching related topics which have zero interest to the secretarial staff from the office.  There were two talks that were compulsory for everyone to attend.  Then we were free to escape back to the office and get on with our normal work.  We reluctantly took our seats.

The first talk was entitled 'The Art of Being Brilliant'.  And despite being very dubious about it, the talk actually was brilliant.  The guy who took the course was funny, engaging and had some excellent fun ideas on positive psychology. 

He assured us that we would feel much more brilliant if we could walk into work like this clip  from YouTube from the film 500 days of summer.   Walking into work with a smile and positive attitude is contagious and if we all gave it a go, you just might all find the day went a little better.

There are 5 working days in the week, all exactly the same.  Why do Mondays feel worse than Fridays?  If you spend Monday feeling 'blurgh' it just makes the day seem longer and the weekend further away.  And if one person in the office is feeling 'burgh' it's almost guaranteed to affect the way everyone else feels.  We also spend too much time waiting for the thing that is going to make us happier.  Saving things for that moment when everything falls into place and we think that life will suddenly become brilliant.  Just suppose that this is your brilliant time.  Suppose we can make this actual point in life a little bit more brilliant than we think it is.  If we can recreate that Friday feeling on a Monday, the whole week will feel better.  So, with that in mind...

open your knicker drawer.

We all have different kinds of knickers.  Don't we?  Average kind of day to day knickers, those we save for best - to wear under our favourite going out clothes, and those ones which have seen better days, nothing stylish at all just comfortable and do the job they're meant to do. Pick up those knickers.  And throw them away.  They don't make you feel good, and you may even be a little bit ashamed of them.  When Monday comes, open your knicker drawer. Pick out a pair of your posh pants.  Those ones which make you feel a bit special, they're newer than the old ones, probably a nicer colour or fabric, possibly trimmed with lace or ribbon.  Now get dressed and ready for work.  Do you have a little instant 'feel better' factor going on?  You walk with a bit of a swagger, you know you look good underneath those ordinary work clothes.  If you went to the loo and accidentally walked out the door with the hem of your skirt tucked in your knickers, you wouldn't be quite so ashamed.  What's the point of keeping a pair of lucky knickers just for best, why not make today a little more special and wear them now.  

We're on half term holiday this week, but I just know that when we are all back in the office the following week, we're all going to be looking at each other and wondering if we've all done as he suggested!

Friday, 29 September 2017

End of the hunt

It's time for the big reveal!  The final photos for the Scavenger Hunt organised by Mary-Lou are ready to be shown.  I've already shared quite a few on the list, you can see them  here and here.  So what was left to capture?

No 2 - Bubbles

No 6
A Pipe - actually a whole shop full of pipes.  A lucky find last week when we were in Rome.

No 7
Inside - The Colosseum 

No 12 - I know I've already done this one but we have had 3 wedding celebrations this summer so I can't use one and not the others!

The legal ceremony and then a week later, the big celebration for friends and family.

No 13 - a replacement for the one I already used - how could I not use this one taken in the Vatican City?

No 16 - OK I know he isn't officially a baby any more but he's our 'baby' of the family so I'm using artistic licence to claim this one!

And finally 
No 20 Something found underground.  I'm not that impressed by what I found for this one but I refused to be beaten so here are some radishes from the garden.

It's been fun joining in this hunt - and hope that Mary-Lou is already thinking of things to add to the list for next year!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Missing on Monday

I wasn't around to do my normal Monday post this week.  Do you want a hint as to where I was?

An early celebration for my husband's 'big' birthday this year.  It's rather inconvenient that he has a birthday in December when there is so much else going on so we decided to have a weekend away before the weather became a bit more unpredictable.  He's always wanted to go to Rome; I've been once before in the 70s when I wasn't really old enough to appreciate it!

He's spent a lot of time researching places of interest (there are so many that we had to narrow it down considerably to fit in with the 3 days we had) and every day I would come home from work to find him sitting with a coffee in the conservatory with a table full of maps and guide books in front of him.  While I joked about it, the research was well worth it as we really did pack in an awful lot.  That research had also included the best coffee shops or gelato shops so when we found our energy flagging, we were able to go and refresh ourselves in some fabulous places.  Not fancy pants tourist places but places off the beaten track that are used by the locals.  

We're not really ones for guided tours but several people had recommended that we do that because otherwise there would be so much that you would look at, but not really understand the history or significance.  So he booked us on two tours.  The Vatican City and the Colosseum, Forum and Palatine Hill.  Both were for three hours.  But oh how glad we were we had booked them as we learnt so much from both amazing guides who clearly loved their subject and loved their city.  The guide who showed us the Sistine Chapel was amazing and had we gone on our own, there is no way that we would have enjoyed the experience as much as we did.  And, as a huge plus - no queues at all!  That was a huge benefit of being part of a tour.  

Growth mindset quote of the week

“The ability to learn is not fixed, but is a skill that continues to grow.”

A good thing to have in mind especially in view of those big birthdays we both have coming up in the next 6 months.  You're never too old to learn something new!

Monday, 18 September 2017

The signs are there

It's coming.  The clues are all around us.  On entering our local Tesco at the weekend, we immediately saw a mountain of selection tins of chocolates - begging us to take them home.  What is it about selection tins that you don't think of at other times of year?  They are a sure sign that Christmas is (according the the shops) on its way. 

 Of course with 2 tins on offer for £7 we kindly liberated a couple of tins and have given them a good home.  Hidden away in the spare bedroom to keep us away from temptation.  Because I know that the minute that seal is opened, just one little chocolate covered fudge will never be enough and I'll be back in Tesco buying more.  Those damn marketing people know me so well ...

So what else has happened since we last met? Well, I  did get going on the binding on the quilt.  It's not quite finished because as soon as I pick it up to do the hand stitching in the evenings and lay it on my lap, Coco appears, jumps up and makes herself comfortable on it.

The growth mindset sentence of the week at work is

"Embrace challenge; persist in the face of setbacks.”

My greatest challenge this weekend?  It was the first Fitsteps exercise class of the new term after 6 weeks summer break.  Turns out going for long dog walks doesn't keep you quite as fit as a full on dance class.  Setbacks?  Could not remember any of the routines all the way through so ended up facing in the wrong direction more than once.  But persistence pays off and we all ended the class on a high note.

Have a good week!

Monday, 11 September 2017

Time for change

It feels like summer has packed its bags and vacated its room ready for autumn to take up residence.  In fact, it feels like autumn has turned up early and has been told to go and find a seat somewhere, have a drink and wait until everything is ready for it.  I know that in England we can sometimes have all four seasons in the space of 24 hours, but it really does feel autumnal these days.  Autumn needs to look in its diary and realise that it isn't officially expected for another couple of weeks!

Sunday was a prime example - we woke up to fog, I spent at least an hour wondering if I could get away with surreptitiously putting the heating back on, then the sun broke through and all was well again.  It's hard to know what to wear at this time of year isn't it?  I'm having a wardrobe crisis at the moment which is not being helped by Facebook.  Those who use the app will know that every morning it shows you a post from that day at some point in the past.  This date 5 years ago, 7 years ago etc.  The main thing I notice from this is that I am still wearing the same clothes now that I was then - I had suspected it was time to make room in my wardrobe for a few new bits and there's the proof!  I don't know whether or not the imminent arrival of my 60th birthday next year is linked in any way but I'm determined to update my style a bit.  I've started following a couple of new 'fashion for the over 50s' blogs and Instagram feeds for inspiration and am on a mission to keep up to date.  We've had a few new shops open in town, we already had Fat Face and White Stuff and I have to be honest and say that my wardrobe is top heavy with things I've bought from them over the last few years.  Then Joules opened its doors and a few striped sweatshirts joined the wardrobe along with some of their lovely colourful scarves.  Hot on Joules' heels was Mint Velvet, not a label I'd bought before but as if fate was sending me a message my niece got a part time job there and I had the perfect excuse for going in for a browse.  It coincided with their end of summer sale which also coincided with me buying a pair of trousers and a top.   Time for a proper wardrobe stock take I think.

So, what else has been going on?  Well, back in the spring I started making a new quilt - this weekend I finally got around to putting all the layers together.
Just need to get around to making some binding to edge it all off nicely and it'll be ready for those autumn evenings.

What's the most embarrassing thing that happened to me this week?  I was quite literally floored by a blueberry.  It was the first full week back at work and we always have a fire drill first week of term.  One of the jobs that the secretaries have to do in a fire drill is to take all the registers out to the field to make sure that all students are accounted for.  I bundled a pile of registers into a bag and went out the door of the office.  Next thing I knew I was falling down, knee first, followed by wrist and bent fingers.  Crashed out on the floor in front of tens, no make that hundreds, of students in the main corridor.  The good news was that I had the perfect excuse to stay in the warm, dry office instead of hanging around in the chilly air over at the school sports field.  Bad news was I had a seriously bruised hand which swelled ominously at the base of my fingers where I had bent them back as I hit the deck.  It was kind of ironic that this meant that on the following day which was our wedding anniversary, I couldn't get my wedding ring on - it was the first time ever in 37 years that I hadn't been able to wear my ring!  Once the corridor was quiet and empty I went out to see what I had slipped on and there it was, a very squished blueberry - who'd have thought such an innocent fruit could cause so much pain!

Just before I go I wanted to share something with you, something to think about as we start a new week.  Our school is very keen on students learning Positive Mindset.  We have many motivational messages posted around the school like 'if plans A and B didn't work, the alphabet has 24 other letters in it' - I think it's a great idea, teaching people how to turn a negative into a positive, sometimes the best way to learn something is to make a few mistakes along the way, the important thing is not to give up.  So we have a weekly statement and I thought it may be nice to share them with you, sometimes it's just something to make you stop and think about for a minute.  This week's offering is 

“Your effort and attitude determine everything.”

So with that in mind, I'm going to get those scissors out, cut up that binding, sew it on the quilt and get that project finished!