Sunday, 29 April 2012

Last day of a week in the life

Well that week flew by!  Here are my last pictures
I wouldn't normally bring work home with me but I am responsible for the school newsletter and it goes to print this week so needed proof reading.  My line manager is an ex English teacher so is red hot on grammar and spelling and it has to go to her when I think it is ready.  She then takes her red pen and picks up all the silly things I've missed!  It's 22 pages long this half term and I've been looking at the articles so much now that I need to have a fresh pair of eyes so decided to check it at my leisure.
 I don't normally go shopping on a Sunday as there is a part of me that thinks Sundays should be days of relaxation and homely things.  But we have a lot of birthdays in the next week and I suddenly realised there was one I had forgotten and needed an emergency dash to buy something I can get in the post tomorrow.  We have friends who moved to Belgium and their Sunday laws are really strict.  No shops open and you are not allowed to do anything which may be considered a nuisance to your neighbours.  No lawn-mowing and no barbecues!  
Tried out a new recipe for dinner which called for 100ml of red wine in the sauce.  Someone once told me that you should never cook with a wine that you wouldn't use to drink with your meal.  So in the interests of quality control, I needed to open the bottle early and have a little taster.  Happy to report the wine passed the stringent testing needed :-)
And here's the finished dish.  Lamb casserole with roasted garlic and rosemary dumplings.  Absolutely delicious and just what we needed on a cold, wet, blustery day like today.  
Now I need to decide what to do with the photos I have taken in order to complete the project.  Suggestions anyone?

Saturday, 28 April 2012

365+1 and a Friday in the week in the life

First of all, my collage for 365+1 
Symbolic - my first unaccompanied outing with the satnav.  Only went 10 miles and I still managed to get lost!  Apparently if you are going out into the wilds of the countryside it is better to type in an address rather than a postcode.  I will know for next time!
Cross - St George's Day meant that Google provided a nice cross on a shield for me to use.
Tower - Does a wooden lighthouse tower qualify?
Powerful - Good old Mr Muscle, the only cleaner that I've found that really works on the oven!
Tradition - the school I work in dates back to 1910 and we have boards around the main hall that list every Head girl  and every Head teacher in the last 102 years.
Art - Does my interpretation of 'boot' in 'Draw Something' count?
Homemade - A really chunky Aran jumper that I made in my knitting phase!
And so onto my day
We had little Coco come to sleep over last night as her mummy and daddy went to a wedding and were out all day and late into the night.  So at 7.30am this morning I was on 'walkies' 

I like to save reading the Saturday paper and supplement until we stop for a coffee midmorning on a Saturday, part of our weekend routine.
Pizza for lunch.  Sun-dried tomato, mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes and basil pesto.
Is anyone else hooked on 'The Voice' on a Saturday night?  Can't wait for tonight's episode.  The first public vote.  I'm enjoying this so much more than X Factor.
Happy weekend everybody!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Friday of a week in the life

This week is flying by.  And I thought I'd show my photos in a different way today

  • I was sitting at my desk this morning and noticed that the way in which my computer mouse was laying at the edge of the mouse mat made quite a comical face. It made me smile anyway,  I think I may slowly be going crazy!
  • When I had my bath this morning, I noticed something glittery in the bottom of the bathtub.  It was a  metal 18 - the kind of thing you find in table confetti.  But as my daughter is 25 and son is 22, it's been a long time since we had 18th birthday celebrations in our house.  So where had it come from?  Had those bath ducks been having a party when we go out?  Has penguin been leading them astray again?
  • The road home from work is a really pretty one.  The road in which our school is situation is one of the most sought after in town and house prices are significantly higher than anywhere else locally.  Looks so nice this time of year when the gardens are starting to come into colour.
  • Is anyone else out there hooked on 'draw something'?  I am a dreadful artist and it's so hard to do something using your finger on a phone screen but I absolutely love it.  Me and Deb Turtle are quite the 'draw something divas' and I love the fact that you can have contact with people in so many ways nowadays.
I'm still chuckling over Amy's idea yesterday of filling my Brad Pitt mug with brads for the next crop!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

A day in the office

You won't believe this.  When we woke up this morning it wasn't raining!
A whole day in the office today:
Does this sight take you back to  your school days?  That feeling of anxiety as the invigilator says 'You may now turn over your papers'?  Exams start very soon at our school and the hall is already set up.  Gives me the chills when I go in there and it's empty and silent.
But a nice cup of coffee in my office mug cheers me up.  I love how the drips from the water where I have washed up make it look like he has sweat dripping off his brow!
Back in the main office, working on an article on some recent Duke of Edinburgh trips to Bangor and the Yorkshire Dales for the school newsletter, I looked up and guess what?  Rain.
On my return to the exams office in the afternoon I was looking for some information on the students who have special arrangements in their exams and realised that I probably need to give the notice board a good tidy up.  One of those jobs you just keep putting of for another day!
My office day for my Week in the Life project. Done.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

My day off in a week in the life

Ah, Wednesday.  How I look forward to you.  My day off from work.  A day to myself.  To do whatever I want - well that's the theory!  As it happens I've been running errands for other people, ferrying my son places and puppy sitting:
View from my kitchen window first thing this morning.  This drought we are having is awful!  We've had drizzle, light rain, heavy rain, thunderstorms and hailstones today.  
A different supermarket today!  I prefer Waitrose to the others in town and a big bonus is that it is in the centre of town and offers 90 minutes free car parking so plenty of time to go into town, whizz round the other shops and still pop in to buy the groceries you wanted too.  They had their 'Dine in for £10' offer on today.  So I got tomorrow's dinner: a shoulder of pork in honey and mustard glaze, new potatoes, wickedly delicious chocolate and black cherry dessert and a bottle of red wine.  All for £10.  Result!!!
Popped round to my daughter's to pick up the puppy and bring her to my house for the afternoon.  This is the little face I had looking at me while I was eating my lunch.  How could I resist ... she had a little extra lunchtime snack as well {don't tell her mummy}
My son is studying for his masters degree in African Politics in London and today he had an exam for the module he is taking in Swahili.  So I was dropping him off at the station at 9.30 and picking him up again at 2pm.  It's not the prettiest of places.
For tonight's tea I am making homemade minestrone soup.  We will have soda bread to go with it.  Soda bread is my current favourite, I love the dense texture of it and it will go perfectly with the soup.  So that's my day in pictures.  And yes.  It's STILL raining - argh!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Tuesday in pictures

I started off with several pictures and then totally forgot to take more as my Tuesday progressed.  The day didn't get off to a good start, we overslept and so I had to drink my cup of tea in record time
 Added these to my packed lunch - I always have good intentions the day after my Rosemary Conley class weigh in ...
 View in my wing mirror before leaving for work.  Rain.  Again.  So much for the drought we are supposed to be having.
 When I'm in the exams office, I have to work in possibly the most narrow desk area in the whole school.
 And what is the last thing you feel like doing after a day at work?  Going to the supermarket.

But I did stick to my good intentions for healthy eating, salmon, rice and a selection of green vegetables with carrots.
Tonight is the night that my husband plays badminton followed by a trip to the pub to put the world to rights with his badminton buddies.  Which means that I have total control over the tv viewing.  Catching up with last night's episode of One Tree Hill is on the agenda for tonight!

Monday, 23 April 2012

A new start

I happened upon the Ali Edwards' class Week in the Life over at Big Picture Classses and thought it might be fun to keep a diary for a week of what should be an average week.
I only work from 8.30 - 12.30 on a Monday and I had a really productive morning which meant the time flew by.  We have our final listings for the new students joining us in September and I've been entering their details on the system so we can start processing them.  160 girls.  That's a lot of computer inputting!
So as soon as I left work I went over to my daughter's house to pick up her puppy.  She started a new job this morning and I offered to go and walk little Coco so she didn't have to worry about coming home in her lunch hour on her first day.  Having got a degree in Business & Marketing and working for a year in the city for a large media consultancy, then having a total career change and working in hairdressing for 3 years, she's now gone back to the business world and is PA to an Architect in a local company.  Coco treats our house like a 2nd home, but is not impressed when I do things on the computer instead of playing with her
Tonight will be my Rosemary Conley class, don't think I'll be photographing me strutting my stuff in the local community centre!  But a quick look on the scales tells me that I may have put on a pound instead of taking one off ...

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Unusual jobs

Last night I discovered something which has to be one of the most unusual jobs ever - and one which I would never, ever be able to do.  We had been invited to the Radisson Blu Hotel at Stansted Airport for a combined big birthday and big wedding anniversary meal.  Delicious meal by the way 
 Realised I had cut the bottom half of the menu off the photo so here's a picture of the missing part - my most favourite dessert, lemon flan.  With a scoop of lemon sorbet.  Sadly, taking the photo was my second thought after it was placed in front of me.  The first one was to dive in and eat a bit of the flan ...
One very unusual feature at this hotel is in the bar area.  They have a wine tower and inside it is a gymnast whose job it is to acrobat her way around the tower and the more expensive a bottle of wine, the higher up the tower it is for her to fetch.  
My photo doesn't do it justice so I will include a youtube clip so you can see her in all her glory
I wonder what the job description looks like ...

Saturday, 21 April 2012

112 down and 254 to go

Well, after a weekend of crafting I had a very unproductive week scrapbooking-wise.  Going back to work after the Easter break seriously curtailed my available time to do the last layout I had planned.  But I have kept up with my 365+1 photos
Tree - the same tree I took for day 58.  Back then it was just bare branches and since then we've had beautiful pink blossom and now it is almost in full leaf.
Small - Possibly the smallest blueberry muffins in town.  When I was queuing up for my school dinner, I saw this on the cake section and knew I had to buy it.  Purely for artistic reasons of course ;-)
Alive - contrary to popular belief, the orchid that I have taken into the intensive care unit (aka the bathroom windowsill) is still alive
Bold - colourful embroidery on a top that I found discarded in my daughter's old wardrobe
Entrance - welcome to my home!  Gosh, that letterbox could do with a polish.
Precious - Saturday mid-morning time.  A cup of coffee, a kit kat and the supplement out of the Saturday newspaper
Flag - I felt sure that with this being the Olympic year in the UK that I would see flags everywhere and yet the only one I could find that day was a really old one that was screwed up and hiding in the tin in which we keep pens in the study.  I couldn't think of a way to display it artistically and then penguin made a suggestion ...

Monday, 16 April 2012

365+1 Week 15

After a busy weekend doing Shimelle's online crop, I'm a little late posting my week at 365+1
but I am still keeping up:
Petals - One of my favourite plants in the garden this time of year is the hellebore, and we have several of these dotted around the garden, some with green petals and some with this lovely dusky pink.  They last for ages too, if you see some in the garden centre, buy one - you won't be disappointed!
Clutter - I've sized this one small as possible so you cannot see the true disorder of the intray in our study.  
Coiled - See that old fabric covered wire on our old family heirloom phone?  How many teenage hours did I spend coiling that round my fingers while gossiping on the phone to friends?  The tales that cord could tell!
Shocking - Our weather!  Just look at the puddles on my patio.  Easter school holidays and it poured down - blah!
Lots and lots - of chocolate.  The Easter Bunny was busy this year.
Tender - My niece's children.  Big sister Sophie and Baby bro Jacob (or Dayshub as she calls him) 
Elegant - When I was looking for a dress to wear for our son's graduation last year, I happened to be in Chelmsford on a day when the Debenhams there had a 50% sale on their designer styles.  This Betty Jackson dress screamed "Buy me" at me as I walked past.  How could I resist?
I still have a layout that I want to complete from yesterday's challenges so once I've got the boring bits out the way ie washing/ironing/going to my Rosemary Conley class/food shopping I intend to use up a couple of photos I've been dying to put in a layout.  Let's see how I manage to get the Queen of Hearts and Buzz Lightyear on the same page ...

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Hidden words

The next challenge on Shimelle's page that took my fancy was to make a layout with an envelope to have some hidden journalling.
Now, anyone that knows me will tell you that I am a worrier.  There's always something for me to have to worry about.  I have a daughter for whom the description 'drama queen' was invented and whose first reaction to anything happening is to pick up the phone and share the drama with mum.  I have a son at the other end of the spectrum whose life is somewhat of a mystery to me.  I guess that's boys for you, why on earth would you want to let your mum know what you are up to?  So both children can be a cause of anxiety for very different reasons!  One because I do know what's happening and one because I don't! So this summer my son is off to Africa for a month.  On his own.  Doing volunteer work near Kilimanjaro.  Won't know where he's staying until he gets there.  Won't know what he's doing until he gets there.  It's going to be a very long four weeks in our household I can tell you!  What a perfect subject for a bit of hidden journalling
I don't know what I've done with the brightness on this photo but can only assure you that the envelope flap is nowhere near as stark in real life!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Dinner was a little late tonight

... and it's totally Shimelle's fault!  I kind of got involved in the next challenge here  where we had to take inspiration from this layout
So I thought back to the promise I made to my niece's baby, Jacob, when I promised him a layout of his own.  One where he was the centre of attention and big sister Sophie wasn't trying to get in the limelight.  Great-aunt Deb will never go back on her word Jacob, here's your layout
So the things I copied were the contrast edges on the sides, the butterflies made from the same paper as the background and the embellishments at the top left of the photo.  I didn't have a panoramic photo so I've tried to fill the space with some simple lettering and date.  Hope you approve Jacob.  

My grey and yellow challenge

I knew for a fact that I would not be able to complete every one of the challenges going on this weekend at Shimelle's but I couldn't wait to start the fourth challenge that she had set here  as I had been wanting to use a little more of the grey papers that I had got last month.  So when I saw that this challenge requested that you use grey, yellow and another colour, plus the fact that Shimelle had used purple in her sample
I knew this was one for me!  I had a copy of the photo I had used in the International Blog Hop Party hosted by Deb over at Paperturtle back in March (see the post here).  She asked that we include a photo of us at our front door, as if welcoming guests into our house and seeing as I was wearing a purple dress in the picture, it was begging to be the photo that I used.  Here's my version:
Can't wait for the next challenge to appear ...

Friday, 13 April 2012

Online crop

It's started already!  The online crop has begun here at
I loved the page that we were supposed to be getting inspiration from and knew exactly how I wanted to interpret it!
and my interpretation
What a good job I had spent part of Tuesday organising my papers, as I was able to immediately go to the 'pink' pile and find something suitable.
The elements I have 'scraplifted' are the colour, The framing round the picture, the side elements, the journaling tags top and bottom centre and the flowers, butterflies and bird.  Now I look at the original again and see mine next to it,  I think I may pop back and add a couple of jewels or pearls here and there to add a bit of 'bling' but on the whole I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out. 
An excellent way to spend a damp, dreary, wet, Friday afternoon.  Are you joining in too?

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

10 things I plan to do today

I wonder how many will actually get done?

  1. Go to Sainsburys to replenish my food cupboards, something nice and healthy for tea tonight I think, to make up for all the chocolate I've consumed since Sunday.
  2. Do some ironing.  I was totally up to date on Friday and would love to keep it to manageable quantities!
  3. Go into town to meet up with a group of friends and an ex-work colleague who retired last year.  Coffee at Cafe Nero.
  4. Browse the summer clothes collections in M&S and Next on my way back to the car park.  Just window shopping of course ;-)
  5. Admire the new paint on the kitchen walls - this one is dependant on the husband doing the promised decorating while I am out ...
  6. Watch another episode of Lost.  I'm at the end of Season 4 and my daughter is handing over Season 5 tomorrow.  I'm totally engrossed and confused in equal measures.
  7. Stalk the postman to see if my Photobox order of photos ready for Shimelle's online crop at the weekend is delivered today.
  8. Try and get my scrapbook supplies into some semblance of order ready for online crop mentioned in No. 7 (in reality this will involve me getting things in a worse mess than they are already and getting sidetracked by pretty papers, glitter and sparkly things)
  9. Cook a healthy dinner.  Salmon with sweet chilli dipping sauce and new potatoes and green beans I think.  Step away from the chocolate for dessert ...
  10. An hour (or two) of internet/pinterest/blog watching while the husband is out with his badminton buddies
So that's my plan - what are you up to today?

Monday, 9 April 2012

Chocolate overload

I think it's time for me to 'step away from the chocolate'.  I need to hide the bits that are left as I am eating it just because it's there now!  It's been a busy weekend.  As well as having everyone here for dinner yesterday we also had my mother in law staying for a little while as this is the first wedding anniversary since losing her husband and it didn't feel right for her to be on her own, especially as it is over the Easter period.  My husband's just left to take her home and I must say it is nice to have the house to myself for a little while!  She's becoming increasingly hard of hearing and is too proud to admit it so there's been much repeating of things and the tv volume is twice as loud as normal!  We have heard many of the old stories and reminiscences as you can imagine, but that's one more milestone passed.
I am pleased to say that the pork yesterday was amazing and the leftovers that we had with new potatoes and salad for lunch were every bit as delicious.  It was a total hit, so if you ever find yourself with a huge hunk of pork, do give it a try.  I also tried out another new recipe which was a variation on Key Lime Pie that was tasty but so simple and will be on my next dinner party menu for sure!  So as you can tell, much eating and drinking has gone on and I need to get myself on the straight and narrow again - soon before straight and narrow turns into curvaceous and wide!
Another week of 365+1 has happened 
Some quite diverse titles here which got me photographing old teddies, ancient costume jewellery, guitar pedals, wedding hair accessories, swarovski crystals, hand cream and green peppers!  
And whilst we have been relaxing, eating and drinking, our daughter's boyfriend's twin brother has flown out to Morocco to take place in the Marathon des Sables which is six days of back to back marathons across the Sahara Dessert.  
The expression 'Rather you than me' has never been more apt.  

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Overnight sensation

Fist of all - happy Easter to everyone!  Hope you have a lovely weekend.  I managed to hold out until 10.30am before a piece of chocolate passed my lips - that has to be a record.  Normally I cannot wait to get my hands on my Easter egg.  
Today we have both 'children' home, along with their partners, dog and also my mother in law.  So I ordered a nice shoulder of pork on the bone to make a change from the normal Easter lamb.  My husband picked it up from the butcher and I did notice that the bag looked a little larger and heavier than I was expecting.  I had left the size up to the butcher, just telling him I needed it for 7 people.  So yesterday afternoon I thought I would start to plan my timings for dinner and weighed it.  4kg.  That's a big bit of pork.  But the recipe I was planning to use only uses 2kg.  Do I double cooking time?  Can't be too careful with pork.  Much trawling of  the Internet ensued and nowhere could I find timings for what I now felt to be half a pig.  Gave myself a mental slap on the forehead and realised the easiest thing to do would be to ask the advice of my daughter's boyfriend.  I mean, he's a professional chef, if anyone knew it would be him.  So his advice was to cook it overnight.  Low and slow and the meat will fall off the bones and melt in your mouth apparently.  Overnight.  That's a long time.  But having asked advice I couldn't very well ignore it could I?  
So Percy Pig has been in the oven since 11pm last night.  Basting in a mix of apple juice and vegetable stock.  Sitting on a bed of carrots, garlic and celery.  I woke twice in the night and had to pop downstairs to check on him.  First of all at 2am I thought I couldn't hear the fan from the oven and was convinced it had broken. Sneak downstairs. All was fine.  At 5am I had a bad dream that I went downstairs in the morning and it had shrivelled up like a lump of coal.  Sneaked downstairs.  Still looked the same size and extremely succulent.  It's now mid day and it looks amazing.  My personal chef knew what he was talking about after all!  

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Next weekend

I just noticed that Shimelle is showing a new event on her blog here ...
Although I have two weeks off work for the Easter holidays, and no excuses for not doing something creative, I feel I need some inspiration and this looks like it may fit the bill completely.  Anybody else out there planning to pop along and see what is happening?
Hope to see you there!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

O.S.O and a caramel pear tart

Those of you who visit Abi's blog  will know that O.S.O stands for Operation Speak Out.
A day where we take the time to comment on every blog we read.  Yes.  Every one.  Even if it's just a word or two.  Just to let someone know we've visited.  Because although you can go through your statistics and see how many people view compared to how many comment, it is kind of nice to see for yourself isn't it?  So what can I use to entice you to come by and stay a little while?  How about the recipe that won the taste test on Tuesday and will be the dessert tonight when we have friends round for dinner?  It's so simple I'm almost ashamed to share it but here goes:

1 pack of ready made puff pastry
1 tin of Caramel Condensed milk or Dulce de Leche
2 ripe pears

Pre heat oven to 200 degrees/Gas 6 (?)
Cut out 4 rounds from the pastry, you will need it to be the length of the pear plus about 2 inches.  The pear will sit in the middle with an inch rim all round.
Place pastry circles on baking tin.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of caramel into the centre of the pastry circle and spread out to within an inch of the edge.
Cut pear in half and take out core.
Place pear on chopping board and carefully cut slices into it ALMOST up to the stalk.
Place pear on top of caramel and gently fan out the slices.
Glaze the pastry rim with beaten egg and cook for about 20 mins until pastry is golden and pear is cooked through.

Serve with either double cream or ice cream.  Or in the case of my husband - both.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Brothers and Sisters

I thought it was about time I got a page together to celebrate the arrival of the newest member of our extended family.  Baby Jacob arrived a month ago and I still hadn't made a layout to document it.  I popped in to visit him and his big sister yesterday and whilst he obviously couldn't say anything I could tell from the look in his eye that he was not happy that he hadn't shown up on my blog yet.  Sorry Jacob, but I've made up for it now.
Yes I know you are having to share the limelight with that big sister of yours but you both look so adorable in this photo I couldn't resist using it for your first layout.  I promise that it won't be long before I do one with you on your own centre stage!
The weather here in the UK has taken a distinct turn for the worse and I can't believe that just one week ago we were sitting out in the garden enjoying the sunshine.  Ah, the joys of living in the UK!  
We are having friends over for dinner on Thursday night and I've run out of ideas for desserts so have spent today 'test driving' a couple of new ones.  Both of them look good but I need to put them through the taste test tonight before I make a decision.  The husband can't believe his luck, not only a home cooked dessert on a Tuesday night, but having to sample two to give me his opinion! 

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Storytelling Sunday - Say Cheese!

I was sorting through the box of old photos looking for inspiration for Storytelling Sunday and I came across these:
And it really made me smile because I can so clearly remember how much I loved going into photo booths when I was little.  I wasn't often allowed in alone so the middle strip is a bit of a speciality!  When I was growing up, we would always go on holiday with my Aunt and Uncle and my two cousins and the lady in the first strip here is my Auntie Babs.  I suspect that on this occasion everyone else ignored my pleas to go into the booth 'just one more time'.  I really was a Daddy's girl and the strip on the right is a rarity as I must have really pestered him as he HATED having his photo taken and going in a photo booth would have been bottom of his list of things he wanted to do!  I really love the memories that these three silly strips of photos have brought back to me.  

Storytelling Sunday.  The perfect opportunity for a trip down memory lane.