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!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Is this what normal is?

I know you'll find this hard to believe, but we didn't have a wedding this weekend.  Who'd have thought?  It was a normal weekend.  Doing normal things.  Like the 'big weekly shop' and having Paul's mum over for Sunday lunch.  Ironing.  Lots of ironing because apparently the ironing fairies don't pop in and help you out when you're busy doing other things.  How mean of them!  

So what else happened this week?  Well, after his early party on Monday, Leo's birthday was on Tuesday.  Where has that year gone?  Oh my goodness, they say that time flies as you get older and it's certainly true.  Or maybe it's just that a heck of a lot has been crammed into these last 12 months?  

Jon and Sophie went off on their honeymoon Tuesday - they've always gone for the budget option on holidays up to now.  Camping, hostels, air bnb, inter railing etc.  They've had some fabulous times and experiences but have never really treated themselves to a bit of luxury.  So they are making up for lost time by going to a very swish hotel in Bali.  I don't think they have ever stayed somewhere that sculpts your towels into swans when you come back from dinner, or turn back the bed covers.  Certainly they've never had a private villa with its own pool.  I've been tracking their Instagram adventures and it looks like they are well and truly making the most of their time there and really experiencing the environment.  There have been photos of temples and statues, processions, forests and rice fields.  Not to mention monkeys and trying the delights of coffee made with beans which have passed through mongoose.  That last one made me shudder a little bit, but Jon does love to try the local delicacies and most of all, unusual coffees!

Wednesday was spent doing my childminding duties for that little one year old rascal.  It wasn't very nice weather so all my normal ploys to get him to have a little sleep - long walks in the buggy - couldn't be put into place so it was a long day!  In the evening I went to a farewell dinner with my workmates to say goodbye to the person who used to be my boss at work.  I'd said to Paul as I left that I doubted I'd be very long, but then we all got talking, and laughing and remembering funny things that had happened in the office over the years and I finally arrived home just before midnight.

Then back to work on Friday for a training day.  I was not looking forward to it until the teacher in charge of Food Technology sent me a Facebook message to tell me that she was making lemon curd muffins to bring in for break.  My absolute favourite.  Suddenly things didn't seem too bad.  

Whilst it has been amazing to have such a busy and exciting time over the summer, I do have to say that  'normal' is feeling quite good.  And just as I've got used to normal, it'll be time for a little Italian adventure at the end of the month!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

What a weekend!

We certainly can't say that this summer has been uneventful over here in Deb's World.  Last week I shared photos of the legal part of our son's wedding - this week I can share photos of the celebration that they held for family and friends.  There was a Mexican theme to this one (they are not the most conventional of couples!) and Sophie's mum managed to track down a Mariachi band and arranged for them to come onto the dance floor after Jon and Sophie had done the official wedding 'first dance'.  They had absolutely no idea what was coming and these photos capture the total shock on their faces as the band came into the marquee

After getting everyone up on the dance floor to some absolute classic sounds, they took the party outside to entertain those who were sitting on hay bales.  I don't think many people can say they have experienced being serenaded by a mariachi band with the sun setting behind them - what memories!

And of course there would be no traditional wedding cake - they had a multi coloured jelly 'cake' (can't begin to explain the concerns about removing jellies from moulds onto a glass display stand in the heat)

Can you believe that we had such brilliant weather for both weddings?  Oh my goodness, England does not have a good reputation for reliable summer sunshine and we have had a particularly bad spell of weather this month but we were so lucky.

You'd have thought that was enough celebrating for one weekend wouldn't you?  Oh no, we still had a birthday party to go to.  A day early as his first birthday is actually today but as it was a Bank Holiday weekend, it seemed the perfect time to wish Leo a very happy birthday.
His mum made him a beautiful cake
And after spending hours making it and moulding that lovely lion for the centre piece - his first reaction was to pull off the lion's head and eat it.

Jon and Sophie popped in to say hello before going home to pack for their honeymoon and were desperate for him to open their present a day early.  It was a play tunnel that connected onto a pop up tent.  He loved it.


I can see him having a lot of fun in there!


So that's it - all the celebrations over, what a 12 months it has been!  I think it's now time to let life settle and get back to normal - although I can't quite remember what 'normal' feels like!