Friday 31 December 2010

Goodbye 2010, it was nice knowing you

(Image courtesy of Google images!)
Oh my, it's almost here!  The end of another year.  It's funny how celebrating New Year changes as you get older and your circumstances change. 
Before we were married we would go to a party or a disco, then when we were newly weds we decided to do something different and booked in for a weekend at Langtry Manor in Bournemouth with our good friends Denise and Peter.  It was an amazing New Years Eve.  The hotel has such history, it was built in 1877 for King Edward VII for his mistress Lillie Langtry.
Then the children came along and we celebrated quietly at home, desperately trying to stay awake for Big Ben's chimes.  As the children got to school age I made friends with other mums and we gradually introduced the husbands and a new little social group evolved.  We would then take it in turns to host New Year's Eve and the adults would party downstairs and the kids would all be playing together upstairs - it worked well. 
Then the kids became teenagers and started making their own plans for NYE, one of the other couples separated, another had a late addition to their family and so for one reason or another - that routine stopped.
My husband was then introduced to the husband of another friend and he started playing badminton with him and another couple of guys and a new circle of friends evolved.  Fortunately, us wives already knew each other and got on well too.  We were invited to join them for their NYE and so another phase was entered!  We started actually going out for NYE again!  
My friend's daughter married a guy who manages a new Italian restaurant in town and although they are not offering an official 'party night' we are going there for a meal tonight.  They are designing a new menu for one night only and I have no idea what is on it, but I am sure it will be good. 
So - may I just wish everyone a Happy & Healthy New Year.  It's been great getting to know everyone in 2010 and I look forward to many more fascinating blog posts in 2011.
Cheers!!!

Tuesday 28 December 2010

And there it was gone ...

Digital Scrapbooking at WiddlyTinks.com
Scrapbooking Photo Tinks by WiddlyTinks.com
Got a lot of clearing up to do, got a lot of leftovers eating to do, got a lot of 'finding new places for new gifts' to do, got a lot of blog catching up to do ....
So in the mean time, a photo from Christmas Eve in Deb's World!

Friday 24 December 2010

He's on his way!

And at the time of checking this website here he was in New Zealand!  Anyone with little children might like to log onto that website nearer bedtime because when he's on his way - you better get to sleep as soon as you can!
All is calm, peaceful and under control in Deb's World today, the kids are visiting my in laws with my husband and I am left alone to do finishing touches and prepare tables etc.  Later on we will have a carrot peeling frenzy and anything else that can be done in advance.  Tonight we are visiting friends, the husband of which has just returned from a climbing expedition to Everest base camp so I suspect there will be many tales to be told.  Not my idea of a holiday ie no beach, no sun, no gourmet meals cooked for me and more to the point, no proper toilets or en suite facilities! 
So I wish you all a very happy Christmas, however you celebrate it and whoever you celebrate it with.  Take lots of photos to post in the new year, there must surely be some project we can all join in to share them.  Anybody any suggestions?!

Thursday 23 December 2010

Sing-a-long

Dashing through the snow
In a silver Mini car
O'er the ice we go
Sainsbury's not too far

Finished buying food
and gifts are nicely wrapped
Just a bit more cooking to do
and then I can collapse

Oh

Jingle Bells
Batman smells
Robin's flown away
The batmobile has lost one wheel
and can't go on it's way .....

It's either hysteria, too much Christmas spirt {hic} or reliving my son's silly versions of carols when he was little.  You decide ....

Wednesday 22 December 2010

A fine line

When you take your average mum at this time of year you will find that there is a very fine line between quiet busy-ness and silent hysteria.  We're up to our neck in cooking, preparing the house for guests, shopping, wrapping - not to mention the mundane washing, ironing, and feeding the family in the days leading up to the big event.
I was bordering on the latter yesterday but now my presents are wrapped and labelled, the cake is iced, there is sufficient food for Christmas Day and if I were to slip on the ice and be confined to the sofa being fed peeled grapes by Dr McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) himself, Christmas would happen.
The husband's contribution to the festivities has consisted of 3 hours of shopping in Cambridge where he bought his parent's presents and a couple of little stocking fillers for the kids.  He has written 12 cards for his family members (after I had bought them, printed off the address labels and stuck on stamps).  That's it.  So this morning when he enquired as to my activities today - cook cherry ring cake, make chocolate biscuit cake, go to Sainsburys for last minute veggies, get all washing and ironing up to date, take my friend to her physio apt (she has trapped a nerve in her spine and is walking hobbling around like an 80 year old), pick her up, cook dinner, deliver gifts and cards to my nephew, then deliver gifts to my niece ........ he then said
"do you think you could wrap up Mum & Dad's presents for me - I'm running out of time"
If a middle aged wife should fall in a frenzied heap and no one is around to see, would it make a sound?
Yes it would, it would be a muffled growliness interspersed with hysterical laughter!

On a lighter note, I made a few of these gorgeous triangular boxes that Mel  recently showed in a tutorial - they are so cute - well worth the time making them!  If you look carefully you will see a tiny silver bell in amongst the ribbon, my signature note for all special presents this year!

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Stress levels rising

I had plans for today.  Pop into town to get a bit more food shopping from Waitrose, 12 noon go to the salon for my Shellac manicure (the most amazing manicure ever, the last one lasted 4 weeks and had only just started to chip then) come home, ice cake and wrap presents.
However. 
The son asked if he could use a bit of paper and tags to wrap presents for his girlfriend's family.  I said yes.  So he has picked the nicest paper that I had, you know, the stuff I was saving for 'special' presents, used up all the co ordinating labels and left me with about 3" of sellotape.  I just looked out the window and it is snowing - again - and I don't think I can be bothered to put on boots, coat, gloves and get in the car just to get sellotape.  But I do want to get these gifts wrapped .....
I came home from Waitrose with an £80 bill, how did that happen?  The same way the food levels in the fridge are dropping since the son returned home.  I had forgotten how hungry boys can get and how often they need to eat! 
So, having typed this post and drunk a cup of tea and revived my sugar levels with a slice of birthday cake left from my nephew's wife's party on Sunday, I think I am going to brave the elements and get some more tape.  If I get these gifts wrapped that will be another tick on the list done and it's a time consuming job too.  Then tomorrow I can deliver them/hide them/put them in a santa sack {delete as appropriate} and move onto icing that cake. 
Seems that for every one item I cross off that list, another two take it's place.  Ho Ho Ho.

Monday 20 December 2010

Christmas Club - The Chinese Bracelet

Forgive me, it's Christmas and I am running very behind schedule!  Firstly, thanks to all the kind comments about the book, I just wish we had touchy feely blog posts as you would have been able to feel how soft the leather was on that book spine .....  I digress ...

The Chinese Bracelet Christmas.

When my daughter was young, she was obsessed by people who had a foreign accent and loved to try and copy them.  There was a memorable phase in her life where she was equally obsessed with 'Neighbours' and 'Flying Doctors' (or Flying Gockers as she called them).  She would allocate everyone characters and we had to talk like that for a whole dinner time, my mum used to find this hysterical and was often pulled up on her impersonation of Helen Daniels 'It isn't that funny Nan, just talk like her, try it again'.  And of course The Husband was totally bemused and could only say 'G'day Auntie Madge'.
About this time, the daughter was at play school (about 4 years old) and came home one day totally excited about a new girl who had started.  The girl was called Sylvie-Ann and she was Chinese.  (You can see what is coming here can't you?)  Not only that, but she didn't know many English words, so we now had a whole new made up language to practise over dinner.  But best of all was Sylvie-Ann's bracelet.  The daughter was obsessed with all things Sylvie-Ann, and she had a lovely silver charm bracelet.  All I heard about was Sylvie-Ann's bracelet and how the daughter was going to ask Father Christmas for one exactly the same.  Now, F. C's chief elf was slightly concerned about this request and needed more details.  'I don't need to tell you what it looks like Mum, I've drawn a picture of it in the letter to Father Christmas that we made at play school today and Miss has sent them off for us'.  I considered the possibility of inviting Sylvie-Ann for tea but as her mum spoke even less English than she did, I didn't think this was an option.  It was getting closer to Christmas and I still hadn't seen this bracelet.  I tried scouring the crowds of 4 year olds coming out of playschool to catch sight of the bracelet, but it was winter and all arms and wrists were covered up with winter coats and gloves.
Then we had a morning where mums could go in and watch a little play and I realised this was my only chance.  I was dragged across the classroom to a rather bewildered little Chinese girl who had her wrist grabbed by the daughter and the bracelet in all it's glory was revealed.  It was lovely.  Clearly not from England.  Delicate silver links had wonderful chinese symbols hanging from them.  There were little animal charms including beautiful tiny elephants.
Now Santa's elf did her best and on Christmas morning, a little silver charm bracelet was unwrapped.  There were no chinese symbols and certainly no elephants but there was a ballerina, a ballet shoe, a rabbit, and a letter 'R' - all things appropriate to the daughter.  The husband and I held our breath ... she loved it!  It was not only as good as Sylvie-Ann's it was better - phew!  Every photo taken that Christmas day has the daughter proudly displaying her wrist - which has led to some strangely posed pictures.  I really must get round to scanning them into the computer!

Saturday 18 December 2010

♥The Book ♥

 After 4 intense classes, 4 hours of folding,cutting, glueing, sewing and pressing , drum roll please ....

Ladies, I would like to introduce you to 'The Book'

 Please note the carefully folded sections which have been lovingly sewn together. 
 May I draw your attention to the exquisite silk 'head band' keeping it all neat and tidy.
 Hey there 'The Book' - are you ready for your close up?

Hold the front page!

I so enjoyed making this, and I am trying to get the teacher to run the class again so I can maybe make a couple of smaller books that I might feel able to pass onto someone else. 
Would make a good give-away right?!  However, this little baby is staying right with it's Mama!

Friday 17 December 2010

The new guy at work


The lady I work with in the exams office thought I needed cheering up so she brought her puppy into work today.  Look how gorgeous he is!  His name is Alfie and he is a 'Westiepoo', a cross between a Westie and a poodle.  He is so gorgeous.  Mean old Sheila said I had to give him back though and wouldn't let me take him home.  Spoilsport.
If you look to the left of the photo you will see that Brad Pitt is looking rather concerned that he may have a rival for my affection.  Sorry to disappoint you Brad, but this little guy is rather special.

Last day of school today for me.  And you know what is the best thing about the last day of school? 
It's the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL .........


Thursday 16 December 2010

An unexpected benefit of Facebook

Between the hours of 11pm Tuesday and 1pm Wednesday I had a particularly stressful time. 
My daughter had gone for a drink with friends at the local pub and returned home in a very bad way.  Not drunk - absolutely manic and out of control.  It would appear someone had spiked her drink.  She had walked home with a friend and been absolutely fine, but 10 mins inside the house and she was totally wild.  So very, very scary to witness. 
Wednesday lunchtime I had a phone call from my son.  Absolutely distraught.  He had received an email from the university to say that they suspected him of plagiarism in 2 essays he had just handed in.  He literally could not talk coherently.  All I heard was snatches of comments like 'this is so serious' 'they could kick me out'  'I could have wasted 3 years of hard work'  and most importantly 'I haven't done anything wrong'.  He had a meeting on 21 January.  Clearly he could not wait that long.  He rang and pestered and someone took pity on this poor emotional boy and he saw the Director of Politics.  Where it quickly became evident that the problem was that he had referenced some quotes incorrectly.  They discussed his options as he had made a mistake - ignorance is no defence!  A mistake that he will not make again I hasten to add!  So he has to lose some points but in consideration of the other possibilities ie not getting any marks for either essay were far worse.  A harsh lesson to learn.
I had posted status reports on Facebook that eluded to trouble but I didn't think that either offspring would want their troubles publicised by their mum so kept things brief.  I have been totally stunned by the amount of comments, calls, texts and kind words of concern that this has generated - and although my husband sometimes makes scathing comments when I say something about someone on Facebook, like 'is it a real friend or a Facebook friend' - I have to say that my Facebook friends have shown such concern, it's really touching.
So please excuse my absence this week, it's not been the best week of my year!

Sunday 12 December 2010

Christmas Club Sunday

The year was 1973.  It was December.  I was in the fifth year at school, still having a bit of a crush on David Cassidy, not to mention David Essex and begging my mum to let me have a pair of platform boots to wear for school.  Of course they fitted into the school uniform criteria!  On the whole, I loved my school days, I had a close group of friends to go around with and we were footloose and fancy free. 
It was only a matter of months until we took our O levels and moved up to the Sixth Form where, and this was the main reason for staying on at school, all the gorgeous guys were.  Oh how we giggled and hung around the edges of the rugby pitch to cheer them on in matches {I didn't understand the rules at all}.  How we spent hours perfecting that layered shaggy hair cut, with the top very short and the rest about shoulder length.  Saturdays were spent walking through the Town Park to the town where we would spend hours going through the racks of Chelsea Girl, trying clothes on that we had no intention of buying. 
I can really remember the fact that on the day we had Christmas Dinner at school the 5th formers were allowed to have lunch with the Sixth Form (be still my beating heart) as there were too many people having lunch that day for us to sit in with the rest of the school.  And of course we were far too mature to be mixing with those youngsters! 
In the 6th form block there were two levels, the upper one was closed off by concertina style doors and the lunch was in the lower area.  That day we had really gone to town with our Miners eyeshadow and Rimmell lipstick.  Our skirts were hitched up to an appropriate height, and we were being as 'cool' as we possibly could be.  We collected our Christmas dinner and toyed with it as we waited for the 6th formers to arrive.  All of a sudden, the concertina doors opened and all the sixth formers were standing there.  They paused while someone put some new single on the record player.   The volume was turned up to maximum and those ear shattering words of Noddy Holder's reverberated around the room, 'IT'S CHRISTMAS .....' and that is where I was when I first heard that song 37 years ago.  Who'd have believed Slade's Greatest Hit would still be playing all these years later.  Do you remember where you were when you first heard it?

Wednesday 8 December 2010

It's a learning curve

It wasn't until I started this new post that I realise that Sunday's Cristmas blog post was my 500th.  That's a lot of ramblings from my part of the world!
Has anyone else noticed how quickly time is marching on as the big day gets closer?  I was so organised (or so I thought) and now I'm finding myself making lists and not getting much crossed off.  Going to work is a bit of a stumbling block and now we have only 7 school days left until we break up and still so much to do, it's manic!
Part of my performance management review said that for CPD I had to learn Photoshop.  I've been badgering the person who is the only one with Photoshop on her computer ever since and last week she finally cracked and said that yes it was time for me to have my lessons - big happy dance around the office!  She had a project that needed doing and said I could help.  I had wheeled my chair down the corridor and was sitting next to her before she had time to put down the phone.  We had to design a poster for the upcoming Christmas Concert and also make tickets.  It was GREAT!  finding an image and then manipulating it, adding layers, changing fonts, the time flew until the phone rang and someone from the main office asked 'Is Deb still down there with you?  She's been gone ages'  Ages?  I don't call an hour and a half ages ....  It was such fun and I loved doing it.
Then last night was the final night of our book binding class.  The books are finished {sigh} we left them in the press overnight and the teacher is going to be presenting us with them at the end of school next Friday when all the staff get together for mulled wine and mince pies after the students have gone home.  I wonder if she has arranged for the local news team to come and cover the story ........
So it's been a busy time of learning new things and I have loved it.  And it just goes to show that the old saying isn't true - you can teach an old dog new tricks ;-)

Sunday 5 December 2010

Christmas Club

I missed the first of the Christmas Sunday posts due to me being totally disorganised in the lead up to my trip to Germany and not scheduling a post - but am back on track today!

My mum loved Christmas and did everything possible to ensure that our Christmases were happy and memorable.  It was her favourite time of year and she loved to cook and entertain and find the perfect gift.  It was a cruel twist of fate that she passed away the week before Christmas in 1997, but even though she was so ill leading up to then, she still had all her presents wrapped and labels written.
She was a great crossword puzzler, she always did a crossword every day and her ability to decipher anagrams and cryptic clues was legendary.  So when she did the labels for her Christmas presents, they always gave a slight hint as to what was inside.  Some were more cryptic than others and even once you had opened the present, you still weren't clear what the tag was all about!  This is a tradition that I have carried on with my family, sometimes the clues are better than others and sometimes there is much groaning when they realise the hint I was trying to give. But oh does it make Christmas wrapping take a long time,  trying to think of something witty or puzzling to put on the tag.  Clues like 'I hope you think this present is out of this world' went on the bottle of 'Alien' perfume that I wrapped for my daughter yesterday.  You get the idea?!!

Friday 3 December 2010

If you want to get ahead ...

Get a hat!


It gets pretty busy at the Christmas markets, and it seems that people who travel in larger groups have found cute ways of finding each other in the crowds!  I particularly like the Father Christmas going down the chimney hats.
So, tonight is the Christmas 'Do' at work.  We are going to the members cocktail bar of a local restaurant for a hot buffet meal and a 70s disco.  It should be fun and I look forward to trying a few new cocktails!  Thankfully it's Friday night so no school tomorrow.  The Christmas crop I was supposed to be going to tomorrow has had to be cancelled :-( the weather in that area has been awful which is such a shame. 
However, the weather up in Sheffield is even worse than here.  My son just rang and said that the snow is up to the top of the tyres on his car!  They walked to uni yesterday and by the time they came home their jeans were wet up to their knees - he says he has never seen snow like it.  It was pretty to start with but after a few days the novelty wears off.  My daughter stayed overnight at a friend's house on Wednesday and it snowed so much in the night that although the main roads were gritted and ok to drive on, she couldn't get off the drive to get onto the road, it took 3 guys to push her onto the road.  And she only has a little Mini!
Still, there is nothing us Brits like more than a good old moan about the weather - too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry .... always a good conversation starter 'So, what is the weather like where you live?' ....

Wednesday 1 December 2010

In need of TLC

I've been to the dentist today.  I don't like going to the dentist at the best of times but when I went for my check up last time, something showed up on the xray that needed attention.  To say I was apprehensive is an understatement, this is a new dentist (my previous one has been struck off for 9 months as he was found guilty of malpractice but that is another story) so he was an unknown quantity.  He was very kind, and very sympathetic to me owning up to my fear, but work needed doing and no amount of pathetic sad eyed looks and trembling lips was going to stop him revving up the drill, blinding me with that overhead light and rolling up his sleeves to get stuck in.  I heard the snap of the latex gloves as he prepared the tray of torture  implements  dental equipment.  Half a terrifying hour later and I was back in the car, with the left side of my face numb and a look of startled terrror still in my eyes.
Then I went into town to pick up my new glasses.  I am now so incredibly old that I need varifocals - oh the shame.  I had been forever putting my glasses on and off in shops that I had to admit defeat and get some new lenses.  I don't need to wear them all the time but I feel like I'm heading in that direction.  These are taking a little bit of getting used to and I am spending much time doing sweeping glances to find the right focal spot for whatever I am doing.
Having picked up the new glasses, I headed off to the local electrical shop as the microwave gave one last gasp and died last night.  To be honest, in microwave years it's probably as old as me so we have had our monies worth out of it.  So I'm in the shop, face numb (probably dribbling), trying to adjust my new glasses so I could see the 'chip and pin' machine to pay for it, what a state.

So to get myself into a more serene state of mind, let me share a few pictures of the stained glass windows in Cologne cathedral with you -
Stained glass windows - Cologne Cathedral

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Auf Wiedersehen Cologne

It's official - it's nearly Christmas!  I didn't believe it until we went to Germany for the weekend but now I am well and truly in the Christmas mood.
The markets there were fantastic, there are several of them and each has a different theme.  I'm struggling to catch up with getting back to work, filling up empty fridges, emptying full laundry baskets and unpacking suitcases so for now I will just pass on a few clips of our visit.
 How enormous is this cathedral?!  Absolutely huge, what an amazing piece of architecture.  The main markets were around here.
 The market stalls had some lovely gifts for sale, these little pottery houses are typical of the buildings in this area.


It got a bit chilly walking around, we had to keep stopping for Gluhwein to warm us up ;-) 
Each market had it's own style of mug and you could either return the mug when you had finished your drink and get your deposit back or keep the mug as a souvenir.  Needless to say, our baggage allowance doubled under the weight of mugs and mulled wine glasses!  {apologies for the strange face being pulled by our friend Richard, sometimes the gluhwein was hotter than you were expecting and if you took a mouthful without testing it ......well, the face says it all}
chocolate ;-)
so a trip to the chocolate museum was a must.  Just look at this fancy chocolate fountain - yum!
It was SO cold while we were out there, about -6 degrees and it started snowing heavily on the morning we were coming home.  I was a little concerned that our flight may be delayed or cancelled, but when it arrived at Koln/Bonn airport, they had an 'elephant' to spray de-icer on the wings. 

So that's a very quick resume of what I've been up to over the weekend, trust me, there will be more to share in days to come.  Don't say you weren't warned!

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Who'd have known ...

Well no wonder my blog has been looking so old fashioned and boring, there's a whole new setting I didn't know about!  You all kept that pretty quiet.  Fancy!
Be prepared for some mind blowing, spectacular  new look posts.
I may change colour
I may change backgrounds
I'll still be boring you with links to places I am going , like this
And who knows, maybe my photos will all become clickable! 
Thanks for the suggestions about papers, I shall be browsing the internet to check up on your ideas.
And of course I shall be trying to add some Deb type hearts ♥

Suggestions welcomed





Excuse the duplicate photos from yesterday, a few people commented that I should post larger photos so I have gone from 'small' to 'medium' uploads. Also, can anyone tell me why sometimes blogger lets you click on photos and enlarge them and sometimes it doesn't? Yesterday is a perfect example, I upload two photos at the same time, on the first one it let you click and enlarge and on the second it didn't? I tend to do my posts just through the 'new post' tab on the blog, is there another way to do it? I know some people manage to get all manner of fancy stuff on their posts like scoring through words to make it look like you have typed something and then changed your mind, and Deb over at Paper Turtle gets all kinds of pretty shapes on hers like hearts and things. How do you do that? I can only get bold or italic going on?


Now when it comes to scrapbooking - I'm the kind of gal who loves instructions to follow. That's why I like the subscription kits, lots of pretty papers that someone has co-ordinated and suggestions for layouts.
Where I live we have no shops that sell scrapbook paper. I know - hard to believe, in a town of 38,000 people, I can't be the only person scrapbooking can I? There's a shop about 10 miles away and a stationery store that stocks basic cardstock about 5 miles away but nowhere you can browse through displays of pretty papers. So I have to internet search or rely on kits.
As I mentioned on Sunday, we're off to a Christmas Market this weekend and naturally, many photos will be taken and many will be scrapbooked! So I need some nice paper to use for the pages. Last year we went to Brussels for their Christmas market and I used a selection of Websters papers which I loved but I'm hoping for a different kind of look for this year's pages.
Does anyone out there in blog land have any suggestions for any nice new collections that would suit a Christmas market theme? Any ideas gratefully received!

Monday 22 November 2010

The one with some layouts


Ladies -
May I introduce you to 'My Mate Mandy's Marvellous Margarita Mix'
and also 'Fab Funky Flowers & Family Foto Frames'


These were the layouts we did at the crop yesterday and I love them both! We learnt some new ways of making flowers that were simple but oh so effective - although at one point there was a small issue of my fingertips being firmly glued between the 2nd and 3rd layers of the petals on the largest flower. Who knew Glossy Accents was so strong?

We also made our own little photo frames with some fancy cutting machine - please don't ask me what it was called as I was so worried about a) breaking it b) ruining my paper and c) getting my hand caught between the rollers that I forgot to ask what it was.

See the circle background on the first page? That was made by cutting an 8" circle of pretty pink paper and then carefully using a corner punch to go round the edge, making sure you lined it up properly each time so the pattern was continuous. A little tricky but it made a lovely pattern and even if you use a corner punch that doesn't exactly line up when you get to the last one in the circle, it's hidden by embellishment.

All in all, a lovely day spent crafting and chatting to my lovely friend Denise. Plus I finally have something crafty to show you!

Sunday 21 November 2010

A confession, an apology and a warning

Firstly, forgive me Shimelle, I have fallen by the wayside. Normally I throw myself wholeheartedly into Shimelle's classes and I absolutely loved Something out of Nothing and Blogging for Scrapbookers. I'm even a past participant of Journal your Christmas and My Journey. But this time I got a certain part in and just fizzled out. I am sure that I will get back to the latest class, but for some strange reason, some of the prompts I haven't even opened: the class hasn't captured my enthusiasm in the same way that the others have.
Secondly, I have been a bad blogger. Been 5 days since I last blogged. So please accept my apologies for not commenting on my favourite blogs but I simply haven't been travelling round blogland like I normally do. This is going to change! I have been at a crop all day today and have two fab layouts to share that were designed by Sue at Crafty Stash. But the lighting's not good enough to photograph tonight so that's a job for tomorrow.
Finally, here's your 'one week warning' fellow bloggers! There is likely to be an excess of photographic posts after next weekend so be prepared. We're off to Germany to visit a Christmas Market and I think it's safe to say that the camera will be out in force!
So there you go, three big 'sorries' to everyone, I'll be back on track soon - honest!

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Strictly too much spare time ...

There are five of us in the main office at work, and two of us work part time. Now I'm not saying that the other three are jealous of me and Dany but they don't always seem to put much feeling into their 'Have a nice day off tomorrow' comments when we walk out the door on a Tuesday. I'm sure they don't begrudge us discussing what we've done and where we've been when we come back in on a Thursday. Well, pretty sure anyway.
Dany fills her day with shopping, dog walking, meeting up with friends etc etc and I fill mine much the same but substitute 'craft related work' for dog walking. The other thing Dany and I share is a love for Strictly Come Dancing. First thing Monday morning as we take off our coats and wait for the computers to fire up we discuss the latest person to be voted off, whether or not they deserved it, the other's performances and who should be next to go.
So anyway, next week is Dany's birthday and I wanted to make her something a bit different rather than just a card. Then I got the idea to make her a birthday glitter ball like the one off Strictly. It started life as a Christmas bauble, but I think it's turned into a pretty original birthday greeting!


Monday 15 November 2010

Quizzes

The reunion quiz night last night was such fun. The pub landlord said there were too many of us to all be on the same team so we had to split into 3 teams so names went into a hat and we all changed places. Needless to say, none of us won and thank goodness for that! If one of our teams had come first, the other two would never have heard the end of it.
The 'boys' were all fired up after the magnificent rugby match on Saturday. That was the reason so many of them were back in town, they always get together for the big England rugby matches and go to Twickenham together. My in depth knowledge of trashy TV shows proved worthy despite their derision, and in the end it was a sporty round that caused our failure! I was quite relieved at that as I was famous for being the most unsporty person in the class so no one expected me to participate in that round! Winning or losing was not the reason to be there though and it was such fun to see everyone again.
Photos were taken at the end of the evening and hopefully I will receive a couple via email later so will post at a later date. Not sure of the quality though, it's a very small, traditional, old fashioned pub and the lighting was not brilliant and (how do I say this nicely?) there were 16 of us and some are a little larger than they were when they were the hunks of the school rugby team, we were a little squashed together to get everyone in the viewfinder ;-)

Thursday 11 November 2010

1976

Ah - 1976. What a memorable year. I turned 18 in 1976, which to put into context, was also the year that Emma Bunton of the Spice Girls was born. How old does that make me feel?! The band U2 were formed. We used to boogie on down to Abba's Dancing Queen, and the video for Bohemian Rhapsody was just amazing. Rod Stewart was strutting his stuff to Tonight's the night and Leo Sayer made us 'Feel like Dancing'. If you wanted to be scared out of your wits, you'd have gone to see The Omen at the cinema (I'm a scaredy cat so I didn't) but I was a Robert Redford fan so I was more interested in All the President's Men. We all fell in love with the Muppets. A lot of the fashions we had are enjoying a revival at the moment which is a bit bizarre and we were enjoying a wonderfully hot summer.

On Sunday I will be taking a trip down memory lane and revisiting 1976. A group of people I was at 6th form with are getting together for a quiz night at a pub we used to go to in our youth. We meet up now and again and whilst the females are still looking youthful and svelte and seeming as time has stood still ;-) the males have slightly less hair and rather more waistline!
But it's weird how after a while we all fall back into the ways we were back in the 70s. The old 'pecking order' creeps back in and the banter is flying back and forth just like we were 6th formers again.
Well, 52 year old sixth formers really! Now there's an image!

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Absentees

Dear fellow bloggers,
My apologies for being AWOL for the last few days; it's been a bit hectic! First of all, my son is back from uni for a week so I am grabbing precious mum time with him before he heads back on Friday. He's decided that he wants to apply for a PGCE course to become a secondary school teacher so I have been going through all the application paperwork with him, and giving opinion on his personal statement. He's had the opportunity to go and observe a teacher in the local Grammar school too so that has taken up two of his days.
Return of son = much washing and ironing. When he was younger and living at home, the pile of ironing would fill me with despair, but I'm kind of enjoying having his clothes in the basket again. (did I really just say that??? The words 'enjoy' and 'ironing' in the same sentence?)
Tonight we have my sister and brother in law over for dinner. You know the expression 'chalk and cheese' - that's us. I am Mrs Messy, she is Mrs Neat. I am Mrs Disorganised, she is Mrs Streamlined. I am Mrs I-hate-housework, she is Mrs Hoover-and-dust-every-day. So, inviting her over for dinner requires much hoovering/dusting/clearing up before their arrival. Plus the opportunity to spend my day off making a mess in the kitchen! Chocolate brownie cupcakes baking in the oven at the moment and I now need to get started on an alternative dessert 'Orange Boodle Fool'.
Am I excused? I promise normal service will be resumed!

Sunday 7 November 2010

The morning after ....

What a busy day! All day at the Eclectic Keepsakes crop - home - dinner - then the Celebrating Blog Friendships party all night!
Firstly, a huge thank you to all who commented on my Blog hop post yesterday, I was overwhelmed when I looked this morning! I haven't had time to look at any of the contributions to the party yet. I could have skimmed through them last night but I was tired and wanted to have time to read everyone's posts properly so the plan is to go to Sainsburys in a moment, buy the ingredients for beef stew for lunch, put that in the oven then position myself in front of the computer for a while. The husband thinks it's stew for dinner as it's one of his favourites, but really it's because once it's in the oven I can have two hours uninterrupted blog hopping time ;-)
So yesterday I was at the crop and got loads done. A page with two pictures of my kids. I like to document them frequently as they both like to change their images from time to time and it's nice to see them in various 'looks'.
Then the last of the pictures I want to use from our 30th
Please note the exceptionally pretty butterfly strip in the centre of this, how gorgeous is that? I was lucky enough to be sitting close to 'the other Karen' (the crop is run by two Karens!) and she lent me a new border punch that she had. It's so lovely and the bonus of it is that you also get lots of little butterflies and stars from the paper that gets cut out of the strip. Bonus! I also got to use a rather beautiful heart punch which was perfect for a centre decoration.
Then there was just time to make a card:

See the little butterflies? they are the off cuts from the border that is in the previous photo!
Then onto the real business of the day, the tags:

These are 90% finished but need a bit of hand stitching in places. They are so pretty and I think they would adapt well to being made into cards or embellishments on layouts.
You see now why I was too tired to blog hop comment properly last night! However, I am fresh and ready to go today so am anxious to get to the shops so I can get going properly - gotta go!!!

Saturday 6 November 2010

Celebrating Blog Friendships!

A year? Has it really been a year? Well in honour of the occasion, I would like to share a poem (I can almost hear my family sighing, oh no, not another one of her poems ....)

I can't believe it was a year
Since Shimelle gathered us all here
With lots of ideas to improve our blogs
She really is a clever clogs

Choosing colours, fonts - a new design
Our blogs are looking mighty fine
With prompts arriving every day
Our blogs were changing in every way

One by one I found new places
To check out blogs with friendly faces
Scrapbookers who made me laugh out loud
Bloggers are such a friendly crowd

I learnt to follow many new trends
But mostly I discovered new blog friends
Such talented, artistic, friendly gals
So a huge thank you to the lovely Shimelle!





Now may I share a few photos: of old friends that I see more of now that I have taken up scrapbooking




I even got to meet Shimelle herself:


But most of all, I got to 'meet' all you guys! So many friendly, clever, crafty people. You have encouraged me with your comments, inspired me with your amazing work, amused me with your funny stories, and fascinated me with insights into your lives. Thank you so much for popping in to see me and for letting me pop over and see you! Just one thing left to do before I pass you over to Jo I need to pass on another letter for your collection. And my contribution to the puzzle is E . Come on, we need to get going!

Friday 5 November 2010

Busy busy days and party nights

Only one more sleep until the Eclectic Keepsakes Crop on Saturday! Our guest designer is Wendy McKee. Now I have to hold my hands up and say I hadn't heard of Wendy before, so I had a little google investigation and came across this blog. Now I don't know if this is the right person, but after looking at the blog, I really hope it is!
There are several things I enjoy about these crops - the chance to sit down, spread out and get some layouts done in the morning. Although, rumour has it that Karen who co-hosts the crop has the saying that if something strays onto her side of the table, it becomes hers! Anyone who knows the mess that I can single handedly create on a craft table will appreciate how concerned I was to find myself sharing her table one month. I haven't got that much equipment, I can't afford to donate it to anyone else!
Karen also realises that in order to be creative, one's sugar levels need to be maintained at all times. Therefore a generous supply of iced cupcakes are provided as well as cups of assorted sweets to nibble on while scrapping!
Then when everyone has had their lunch, a guest designer has a project for us to work on in the afternoon. We've done some lovely things since the crop started, and I've learned a lot. Wendy's class is called 'Tagging Along' so I am expecting to learn new ways to decorate elaborate gift tags, but I could be quite wrong! Then of course we have the Reunion Party in the evening - it's an action packed day!

Thursday 4 November 2010

A balanced diet (edited version)

The weather was bright and sunny on Sunday and the husband and I went for a nice walk in the countryside right by where we live. I suggested that we took a bag with us, in case there were any sloes left in the hedgerow as, apparently, sloe gin tastes different when made with early sloes, in comparison to those later in the season. So having made some with the early ones, it was only right and proper in the interests of consumer comparisons that we made some with a later crop. We were in luck, along the edge of the cricket field next to our house, the hedges still had some mature sloes. We brought them home, put them in a bowl of water to rinse them clean and then I laid them out on some kitchen roll to dry out. How surprised was I to find this little fellow clinging onto a sloe for dear life? Isn't he cute? So tiny, less than the size of your small fingernail. But still not a thing I wanted in my sloe gin so the husband was given the job of taking him out into the garden to find a new home. So whilst on a food theme, I want to show you these cookies that I made yesterday on my day off. Cranberry cookies from a recipe I copied off someones blog at the weekend. But I checked a fair few blogs and can't remember whose it was? Does anyone out there recognise these? Because I have to say they are delicious and I would like to send credit where credit is due!


I have a sneaky feeling it may have been a 'British Blog' because the quantities are all in grams rather than cups. They have porridge oats and dried cranberries in them which in my mind makes them a healthy snack and certainly one of my 'five a day'. Whoever shared the recipe, a huge thank you, these are going to be made again and again!

It was Ruth! She was the one who posted these delicious cookies. Do try them, they really are winners. Thanks to those who recongnised them so that I could edit this to tell everyone where to find them!

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Magic feathers

It's not often I notice a status update from my son on Facebook that makes me want to 'copy and paste' but today he posted this - "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Philip K. Dick. I've not heard that quote before but it made me smile, and think of the Disney animation where Dumbo has his magic feather that he believes will make him fly.
Then I came to think there are so many occasions in life where you believe something is making you do something when in effect, you are doing it all yourself. Like a small child learning to walk, who has the lightest of grasp on your fingertip yet when they realise they have let go, they fall over. Then one day they let go and just keep walking. They didn't need that fingertip after all! Like me learning to swim when I was in my late 20s. Without that small piece of polystyrene float in front of me, I would surely sink. I watch the students at the school I work in going into exams with good luck charms, and I know that whenever I am in a situation where I need a little emotional back up - like when the Husband was in hospital recently - I always put on a gold necklace that my parents gave me and I also know I spend a lot of time touching it when I have an anxious moment. We believe that these things are getting us through a difficult time or helping us achieve something, when really we have the strength to do it all by ourselves.
Guess we all have our 'magic feathers' in some way or another.

Sunday 31 October 2010

Happy Halloween and end of Blogtoberfest

Wow! I can't believe I managed to stick to my post a day for Blogtoberfest, but here we are on October 31st! I thought it appropriate to post a photo that I took on my new iphone while we were in Cambridge yesterday. Cambridge is such an atmospheric city and the old town is full of alleyways and cobbled streets and there were a group of students down by the river who were selling tickets for a Spooky Halloween walk through the city at night. They had decorated a part of the riverside with a fake graveyard with ghosts and skeletons and lots of carved pumpkins.
Cambridge university is so famous that the town is always full of tourists, not to mention students and it was hard to get a photo without people in it!
I feel sure that there are some wonderful Halloween blogposts to view, and we waved goodbye to British Summertime in the early hours of this morning so we have all had to put our clocks forward an hour, and I have an hour's less blogwatching to do so I had better get going ....

Saturday 30 October 2010

Curry night

I've scheduled this post in advance because I think I'll be a bit pushed for time to do it on the day! But with only 2 days left of Blogtoberfest, I can't fall at the last fence!
We have a group of friends coming over for a curry night tonight. Each couple takes it in turns to host it, and instead of cooking we order a take away and share the cost of the meal. It's a good way of getting together without someone having to slave over a hot stove all day! We have so many Indian restaurants actually in our town - most of which deliver - but there is one a bit further away that is worth getting in the car to collect the food! So the food will be courtesy of The Mountbatten . It used to be a pub but it changed hands a couple of years ago and it's a really nice Indian restaurant. So I've spent all Friday cleaning up the house and tidying up so that me and the husband can have a nice day out tomorrow before our friends arrive. I've polished and hoovered and put the extra leaf in the table so it extends to fit everyone comfortably (that's not so easy to do singlehandedly I can tell you!). I've even set the table! I love different napkins that fit the theme of the food that I'm serving and I was thrilled to find these Indian inspired ones recently:
So hopefully by the time you read this I will be enjoying some Autumn sunshine in Cambridge. It's a really lovely place to wander around and only half an hour up the motorway. The poor old husband has had a stressy week at work, he could do with a nice day chilling, followed by a few beers and a takeaway with friends in the evening!

Friday 29 October 2010

Dear Deb

It's hard to write a letter to yourself but that's the only way we are going to get through the prompt from Shimelle, so sit down, relax and listen. Do as you are told for once!
You have a tendency to think that it is still your responsibility to sort out all that needs sorting in your children's lives. It really isn't! They are grown up now and are more than capable of dealing with things. If they ask for help, then they know you will only be too willing to give it, but you really do need to wait for that request before acting! You know already that J is possibly more capable than you are at dealing with anything that fate throws his way, and you often don't hear about things until he has them sorted but you need to take a step back when R needs something so she can learn that her first reaction should be to deal with it rather than yell for Mum.
You worry too much. But you know that already don't you? How much time have you wasted worrying about things that may not happen, and in fact didn't happen. Stop with the 'what if ...?'s. Learn to deal with things as and when they are needed.
You really ought to learn how to say 'no' more often. There is only so much work you can fit into the hours you are contracted to do and you will only run yourself ragged if you take on too many extras.
You are possibly the most untidiest mother in the county. You have good intentions to be tidier but get carried away with some project or the other and the lounge becomes full of knitting paraphernalia and the dining table has the sewing machine left on it for days on end and the sight of the kitchen after a cooking marathon looks like an explosion in a flour and currant factory. It's no wonder the kids bedrooms are untidy, they are genetically programmed to leave things on every possible surface. You can't moan at them if you aren't setting a good example.

I don't want you to think I am having a go at you Deb, because all these bad things evolve from good points in your nature. You take your role as a Mum seriously, and have done since those first hours in the maternity ward. It was your job to keep them safe and well and now it is time to give them the responsibility for doing that for themselves. Teaching them independence is just another part of helping them learn. You worry because your family is so very precious to you and you feel like you have to have a plan ready for if bad things happen. You just need to get some perspective on this! You take on more things because you feel that if someone asks for help, it is only right and proper that you should shoulder some of their burden. You hate to let people down. But it isn't a help if you have so much to do, you can't do it all properly or it makes you stressed. You are a real home-body and love to be creative and make and do things for those you love. Maybe you need to tackle one project at a time rather than take over the whole house! You believe that it is more important to have good food than a tidy kitchen and so long as everything is clean, what does it matter that the saucepans haven't all been put away and the surface is full of bottles of spices and herbs.
And so what if the hoovering and ironing hasn't been done, this Shimelle prompt had to be finished. Get your priorities right!
Dx

Thursday 28 October 2010

Advice - but will they take it?

I found it hard to think of FAQ about me, I'm a bit of an open book and I don't think I leave much for people to wonder about! But I liked the idea of advice for the kids. Not sure how much longer I can refer to them as 'kids' .....



So anyway, my list of advice is probably a bit different to how it would have been if I had done this while they were young as they have now had over 20 years of me giving advice verbally! Some of the comments are particular to our household and may refer back to incidents that have happened in the past! Like 'don't keep your phone on silent'. How annoying is it when you are trying to contact them and they don't hear their phone? OK, if they are in the cinema or somewhere like that but when they have fallen asleep on the train and missed getting off at the right station and you are waiting for them there in a freezing cold car on a snowy night at nearly midnight - if the phone had been on 'noise', it may have woken them up and stopped the need for a 30 minute dash up the motorway as it was the last train home and the next stop after ours was 30 miles away. Grrrr......
I'm hoping that when you click on the photo you will be able to read the journalling, if not I will have to edit this post and add the words at the bottom. Sometimes Blogger plays the game and sometimes it doesn't so I never assume that the photo will enlarge when you click on it!

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Numbers

The prompt for using numbers was too good an opportunity to do what will be the last layout from our trip to Bath for our 30th Anniversary. Being such a big number, it was obvious to me that I had to use that for the basis of the layout! I thought of quite a few numbers I could have used but I didn't want to clutter up the page so have used the basics. I liked this idea for making a page where it is hard to think of journalling though and I can see that it would be a good layout to use in the future.
I appreciate that I have done this out of sequence and that the alphabet one should have come first but I was 'tweaking' the wording and then realised I had missed a letter out - doh!

Fun food

Fancy a ham sandwich?

Or maybe donuts are more your thing

I'm a bit of a chocolate cake kind of girl myself.
How much fun is this jewellry? All found on the Punky Allsorts webpage. I think I can see me buying a few fun Christmas presents from here!

Tuesday 26 October 2010

I have a plan

I loved all the ideas in Shimelle's second prompt today. I never use up the numbers in a page of alphabets except maybe to use in a date format so counting up things and making that the focus of the page is such a good idea and may be something I use in a layout to show more of our trip to Bath for our 30th anniversary.

But I also like the idea of using the alphabet within the block of journalling, and I think that this will work really well with the ideas I jotted down yesterday re advice for my children. I will have to re-write it a bit so that it fits in well but that doesn't matter because my writing was so illegible in places that it really needs a bit of work done on it before I even think of putting it on a page!

I shall leave you with a photo of something that I bought in town this morning. Look how shiny and new it is .... And compare it to the phone I spent most of my teenage years chatting on - how times change eh?

Monday 25 October 2010

Half term - day one

Oh how lovely to not have to get up and go out to work this morning! Plus, it is the first day of Shimelle's new class so a good reason to turn on the computer and see what she has in store for us.
The first thing I saw was 'open your notebook'. Ermmmm, I didn't go out and buy a notebook. It's the first day of class and I don't even have the essentials. Check the forum and what's on one of the posts? Mel's beautiful new brand spanking new notebook. All empty and ready to use. I don't even have a new pen! This is not a good start! I will have to have a little look around and see what I can find.
The first day is a bit of a question and answer session but I was really taken by the page of observations that were shown as a list of instructions handed down from mother to child. I may take this idea and play with it. I lost my mum 13 years ago and even now at the grand old age of 52 I have days when I would love to be able to ask her questions, I find some random article saved in a box in the loft and wonder 'why did you keep this?', I look in the old box of photos and wonder who some of the people are. So I think my project for today will be a take on this idea. My children are grown up so they know my advice on many things (don't get me wrong, they don't often ask for it!) so I am going to think of the things I may not have passed onto them just yet.

Sunday 24 October 2010

A blogpost of two halves

So pleased you found me after your visit to Jo aka Curly Scrapper!

First the recipe:
(don't know the official name of it but I got it from a lady at work so I will call it

'Chris' Chicken Casserole'


4 chicken thigh fillets and 2 chicken breasts ( I like a mix of cuts, but you can use 4 breasts) cut each into half so you end up with large chunks
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 onion (sliced)
250g new potatoes (at least - I always throw in a few more!)
2 tbs plain flour
150mls (quarter of a pint) chicken stock
300 mls (half a pint) Pressed apple juice - the cloudy one NOT the clear one
4 leeks (thickly sliced)
125g frozen peas (defrosted)
2 tsp mint jelly
salt and pepper

Pre heat oven to Gas 4, 350F or 180C


1. Heat oil in pan, add chicken and cook until browned

2. Add sliced onion and potatoes (cut potatoes in half if they are large) Cover and cook 5 mins

3. Stir in flour, add apple juice, stock and half the mint jelly

4. Bring to boil, add leeks. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Transfer to casserole dish and cook in oven for 50 mins

6. After 50 mins, add peas and rest of mint jelly, cook for another 10 mins.

This isn't fancy but a great stand by for if you have people round for dinner as it all cooks together in advance so you can have a tidy kitchen for when your guests arrive! I normally serve it with slices of rustic bread so people can mop up the sauce at the end (trust me, they will want to!) and roasted baby carrots.


Well at the risk of making people turn vegetarian, I shall now tell my embarrassing food story.

Because I work part time, I do try and be organised with my food shopping. Buying food on my days off so that when I get home from work I don't have to go to the supermarket on the way home. Where I live, we have 3 of the major supermarkets in various ends of town so I can incorporate a food shop into any retail therapy I choose to do on my day off ;-)
So, one day I came home from work with plans to roast a chicken for dinner. Quickly looked inside chicken to make sure there were no giblets in a plastic bag inside it, put it in a roasting tin and went about preparing all the veggies to go with it.
Had organised for chicken to be ready at 7pm which is the time my husband gets home. Sure enough, his car appears on the drive just as the timer goes off on the cooker. Got the chicken out the oven, put it on a carving board and noticed something coming out of the rear end. Something brown and unpleasant looking. Something that had hard, chalky lumps inside it. It looked gross. Husband walks in, sniffing the air like something out of a Bisto advert, aaahhhh roast chicken .... At which point I picked up the roasted chicken, put it back in the roasting tin and said 'don't take your shoes off, you have to take me back to the supermarket with this chicken, it's disgusting'. He had a brief look and agreed, something was wrong with this chicken.
So we drive through town to Waitrose, he drops me at the door and I march into the store , wearing oven gloves, carrying my roasting tin with cooked chicken in front of me. I caused a bit of a stir. It's not often you see someone carrying cooked food into a supermarket. I placed the tin on the customer service desk and said 'There is something horrible oozing out of this chicken'. The lady looked and agreed she had never seen anything like it but it looked like the chicken had not been cleaned properly and this had been its last meal (yuk). Other customers at the desk all looked into the tin and agreed they had never seen anything like it. A manager was called. He apologised profusely, this certainly was not up to the standard that Waitrose expected from its suppliers, a full refund was in order and a choice of something else for my dinner as compensation. By now I had quite an audience of people wondering why I had brought a freshly cooked chicken to the Customer service desk. Did I still have the packaging? Well actually I did, I had picked it up before we left the house. The manager scanned it through the till. I'm sure I saw a smirk cross his face. I'm sure his mouth twitched with the beginnings of a snigger. 'I'm sorry madam, but I can't offer you a refund after all' 'Why is that?' 'Because the chicken was bought in Tesco'.
Exit one red faced customer, bearing a warm chicken in a roasting tin, back to the car park. 'What happened?' asked husband. 'Don't ask, just take me to Tesco'.....

So without further ado, I'm going to hand you over Diane . It's a bit of a journey from chilly old England, but I could do with some Australian sunshine and I can't wait to meet that lovely puppy she just got. Come on, let's go!

Saturday 23 October 2010

Winter draws on

Signs that Winter is approaching
  1. The husband reminds me that Winter doesn't officially start until 21 Dec whenever I moan about how I hate being cold in Winter
  2. A can of de-icer appears beside the front door so that it can be grabbed easily by the first one out in the morning
  3. No one moans about having casserole more than once a week
  4. I am woken by the sound of the radiators warming up rather than my alarm clock
  5. The thicker duvet is put on the bed - 1st night last night and it felt like drifting off to sleep in a cloud. Well, in a cloud next to a rhinoceros with sinusitis actually (the husband snores)
  6. The daughter's Ugg boots have come out of hibernation
  7. The husband is moaning about lack of socks caused by the daughter preferring his socks to hers inside said Ugg boots
  8. The laundry basket is full of opaque tights
  9. Saturday night social life revolves around Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor
  10. I start to whistle Christmas tunes whilst cooking dinner. Apparently this is very annoying although I fail to see why.

Friday 22 October 2010

Think pink

Today was a charity fundraising day at school for Breast Cancer research. We were all asked to wear pink and donate a pound. I knew this was happening, we'd spoken about it earlier in the week, joking about how easy it would be for our head of lower sixth who always wears pink. Even if it is just a pink flower on a label, or pink necklace - she always wears pink somewhere.
So anyway, it's 5 past 8, I'm dressed and in my shoes and I open the cupboard to find my coat. When the whole 'pink' thing hits me. It's dress in pink day and I'm dressed in autumnal colours. There is a strange man from the insulating company in my bedroom, dragging huge rolls of insulating 'stuff' through the loft hatch, and I simply don't have time to choose something suitable. Plus I don't think I have any pink winter clothes! So I'm trying hard to strip off into black trousers and a plain black top while he is up in the loft out of sight and before he returns down the ladder and my daughter is throwing all manner of pink things through the bedroom door to accessorise. In the end I went for a bright pink pashmina type scarf which I wrapped round my neck, ran downstairs and out the door.
It wasn't until I caught sight of my reflection in the full length mirror in the ladies loos at work that I realised that in my 'quick change' I had managed to get white deoderant marks all over my nice black top! Not the best start to the day. But hey, good news, it is half term now and I have a whole week off and a new Shimelle class starting soon :-)

Thursday 21 October 2010

Blogging for Scrapbookers Alumni party!

I noticed this invitation over at Jo's blog.
It's for a reunion party of those of us who participated in Shimelle's class Blogging for Scrapbookers last year.
So I'm passing the word round as it would be great to all 'meet up' again.
I'm sure there will be cocktails and buffet food, and there will have to be cupcakes!
RSVP to Jo, details on her blog.

See you there!

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Bookbinding update

Our books are now looking like books! We printed our front sheet, stuck that in and then made the inner pages that join the book insides to the cover, put it in the press and then then glued it all together along what will be the spine. But most importantly, we chose our patterned papers for the cover!
For those of you with an interest in book binding and a tendency to click on blog links that include shopping pages - be warned, there is a shopping opportunity on it's way. First of all, let me show you the paper I have chosen here, then the link to the shop which is Shepherds Falkiners in London. Our art teacher had chosen some beautiful hand made papers and it was so hard to choose, but I liked this one as it had an oriental feel to it and the flowers match the leather I have picked for the spine. I've added black pages for the front and back inside cover pages.
So when I left school this afternoon, my book was all glued up and being left to dry with a heavy weight on top and in half term, the teacher is taking them all away to use an industrial cutting machine to slice the pages to make sure they are all perfectly cut.
I somehow think that it is unlikely that I am going to ever hand this book over to anyone else!

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Weatherwatch

I'm sitting in bed typing up today's Blogtoberfest entry on my daughter's laptop. The morning news and weather is on the tv and apparently we are in for a chilly day. It's still dark outside even though it is 7am and the heating woke me up when it switched on this morning. It really is Autumn. I love the colours of autumn, I love the bright sunny days when you go out for a walk, wrapped up warm. What I don't like is the dark mornings and short daylight hours. Everything seems to be more of an effort. I go to a Rosemary Conley exercise class on a Monday evening and it is so hard to drag myself out of the armchair to strip off into gym gear and dance around in the local community centre. I always feel virtuous when I get home but it would be so easy to cry off and say 'I'll miss this week, but work doubly hard next week'. That's a slippery slope!
But it's week two of the bookbinding course today and I'm looking forward to seeing what the teacher has in store for us today. After last week's experience I am sure she will keep any pretty paper and soft leather hidden away if she wants us to get any work done!

Monday 18 October 2010

Story tales

I noticed quite a few names I already knew when I signed up for the new class over at Shimelle's. It looks an interesting class and I'm looking forward to it starting. It coincides with the start of half term which is lucky as I will be able to give it my full attention. Well, for the first week anyway!
Have you signed up too?

Sunday 17 October 2010

Secret Santa


We've all been talking about Christmas in the office this week, partly because we've been trying to organise the work's Christmas 'do' and partly because once we get back after next week's half term, the Christmas term will be upon us. We always do a Secret Santa present giving, and one of the ladies in the finance office normally prints off the labels for the tags for us to pull out of the draw. She is super busy at the moment so in a moment of madness I said I'd do them this year. I emailed everyone of the school 'Support Staff' list to ask who wanted to take part and then I watched in amazement as my inbox filled up with names of people to be 'tagged'. TWENTY THREE! I hadn't realised there were so many of us! There are various secretarial offices around the school and I hadn't actually counted everyone up. So now I have 23 tags to make. And just to make life harder for myself, before I knew how many were involved, I said that I would make everyone's slightly different. Silly, silly, silly! So here's a pic of where I'm at. Only four finished so far but I've cut all the basic tag shapes and cut out pretty patterned corners. Punched the holes where the twine will go. And printed off name labels to stick on the back. How cute is this font that I downloaded? It's called JS_Snowbiz and each letter is inside a little snowman character. Some are juggling, some are wearing silly hats, some are singing or bending over, 26 different little snowmen. So now I have until Thursday to get them all finished. There'll not be much housework done around here this week ;-) {any excuse}
Update on the meal last night, it was delicious! The boy done good! If anyone wants to try (or talk their man into trying) the recipe is here. And the mix of two types of potatoes with feta cheese was wonderful. He's still glowing with pride, and looking forward to next week's choice. As am I ;-)

Saturday 16 October 2010

Mr K in the kitchen

At the beginning of the year, I tried to instigate a new rule for Saturday nights, either we went out for a meal, went to friends or if we were home, my husband would cook.
At first he was keen, and a good sprinkling of compliments whilst eating encouraged him to keep doing it. Comments like 'I cook 6 days a week, it's only fair I have a day off' kept him feeling like it really was only right and proper for him to tackle the cooker on a Saturday.
But recently, for one reason or another, the routine has been broken and I can't remember the last time he took control of the kitchen. So when Jamie Oliver started his 30 Minute Meals programme and it all looks so simple and tasty, a seed of an idea started to germinate in my brain. The episode where he does piri-piri chicken with a mixture of sweet and ordinary potatoes with a salad was on the tv and we were both saying how good it looked. 'I reckon you could do that' I dropped into the conversation. Then I 'accidentally' printed the recipe off the website and left it on the desk. Today I happened to buy all the ingredients needed when I went to Tesco. Then I casually mentioned that as Strictly Come Dancing was on tonight, it might be nice if he did dinner while it was on the tv. Before he knew what he was saying, he'd agreed to it!
I'm so looking forward to having my dinner cooked for me again, how many episodes in the new Jamie Series?......

Friday 15 October 2010

Feeling Fruity

Not too much to blog about today, so I thought I would show you how nicely my sloe gin and blackberry brandy are coming along. Aren't the colours of these beautiful? And look how plump and gorgeous those blackberries have become, they must have really soaked up the brandy. Far too good to throw away when the drink is matured and I have to strain them off. Any suggestions as to what I can make with them, I think they are going to be pretty alcoholic!
On Wednesday my daughter decided that my hairstyle was 'boring' and 'old fashioned' which meant the scissors were sharpened and I was in for a make over! We got home from me having 4" chopped off the front and she decided that a new hair cut needed a new hair colour so she was standing over me as I prepared lamb shanks for tea putting in 3 different tones of colour we must have looked a strange sight, me cooking at the stove and her following me round with foils and hair dye.
I've updated my profile pic, did anyone notice the difference?!!!

Thursday 14 October 2010

Hot stuff

Does anybody else out there think that different drinks takes better out of certain mugs? We have a variety of mugs in our house ranging from bone china to more chunky ones. I have one little green mug in particular that no one else in the house dares to use for fear of having something happen to it. It's a mug I bought in a craft shop in Bournemouth nearly 30 years ago and to me, that mug was born to have milky coffee in it. If ever I am feeling poorly, that is the mug I turn to for comfort. It's not the prettiest mug in the house, but it's my favourite.

This year when the January sales were on, we bought a Nespresso coffee machine. The coffee from it is superb, the best home made coffee. But the spout that the coffee comes out of is fairly low and some mugs simply don't fit underneath it. I had bought 2 lovely slim, short, white Sophie Conran mugs from Portmeirion but I've been looking for some more. So today I popped into a new shop that has opened in town. The Steamer Trading Cook Shop. I spent ages looking round the lovely homeware and kitchen equipment downstairs and then noticed that there was an upstairs too. There were 2 walls filled with mugs. And in the middle of them all, were some lovely Emma Bridgewater mugs, duck egg blue, just 3" tall and 3" in diameter with 'white coffee' written in white along the inside and outside of the rim. They called out to me - "Buy me" I walked round the store some more, picked up a few other mugs but they weren't the right size, they didn't feel right in my hand. And in my mind, I could hear the blue ones "Me ... pick me ... take me home" And so I did, I bought two and as soon as I got home, I plugged in the machine, washed up the new mugs, and had a cup of coffee. They were a good choice. I think they are destined to be some of my favourites!

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Self portrait Blogtoberfest day

Well Tinniegirl has decreed that today should be a day where self portraits are the focus of the day. Just thought I would explain why I have suddenly inflicted a picture of myself on you for today!


So now we have that over and done with, let me give you an update on the book binding - the class has been organised by the school as part of a well-being programme - offering up the school services to staff at the end of the day so there were only 6 of us there. The papers for the covers are beautiful and we have leather for covering the spines ... but that is some weeks away! Our first job was to choose the leather covering and we all just stood there for a while stroking the silky smooth skins. Picking one up, then putting it down, then choosing another and then going back to the first one - until the teacher saw that we could easily spend the whole hour that way and made us make a decision so we could start on the real work. At this point I think she realised that 6 members of staff could be more trouble than a class of 30 teenage girls!

Our first job was to cut up our papers, fold them into sections and start sewing them together. We have brought them home to complete as homework. (which is what I am doing in my self portrait!) The hour flew by and I think we were all disappointed to have to stop and come home! We learnt a neat trick to make sure you don't pull your thread out of the eye of the needle by unfurling the strands of the thread and twisting the needle through it, so clever. As an example of adults being as troublesome as kids, the person opposite me cut off enough of the waxed thread to do her sewing at home, wound it round 2 fingers to make it tidy, did it too tight, couldn't get it off her fingers, fingers started going bright red and looking a tiny bit swollen, had to have it cut off !

Back to School

Well I was typing up an article for our school newsletter I saw that the art department had run a bookbinding course for our gifted and talented girls. The finished books were beautiful and I said to the art teacher that if she ever did another course, could I sneak in and join in?
So I was thrilled when she told me that they were offering it as an after school activity and staff could sign up. My name was first on the list she put up in the staff room! I have been ticking off the days and after school today is the first class. I'm not sure what is involved, but pretty paper seems to be part of our kit {happy days!} and I am hopeful that if a Year 8 girl can manage it, surely I can give it a go.
Excuse the quality of the picture I've added, I tried to photograph the online version of the newsletter to give you an idea of what I'm doing and it's not been terribly successful. Maybe I need to sign up for a photography course too!
I'll let you know how I get on tomorrow.