Wednesday 29 September 2010

An apple a day

keeps the doctor away - or so the saying goes! Maybe I should have bought my husband one of these when we were in Bath - (thank you for all your good wishes, he is bruised and battered but recovering)

Don't they look delicious? Wish I'd gone in and bought one now. They made me think of a story from when I was growing up. My parents had taken me and my sister to Blackpool to see the Blackpool Illuminations. My sister is 8 years older than me and I think I was about 3 0r 4 so she would have been around 11. It was cold up there and while we were waiting for it to get dark and for the lights to be switched on we went to a fun fair. May have been on a pier or something but wherever it was my sister saw a stall selling toffee apples and wanted one. She had been moaning a bit about it being cold and generally having a pre-teen attitude (I of course was being an angelic little pre-school child - although she may tell a different story!)
She kept on about the toffee apples, all the way round and after a while it was agreed that if she was good and better behaved, and stopped going on about the toffee apples, she could have one on the way out. Finally she was allowed to go back to the stall and get her toffee apple. She handed over her money, she chose her apple from the pile. We started walking along the promenade. At which point she noticed that her apple was flat on the bottom. Not perfectly rounded like an apple should be, but where it had been dipped in caramel and turned on it's end to harden, it had obviously gone flat. She went mad. Threw the apple on the floor and made quite a scene about it not being a proper toffee apple as apples aren't flat.
The reason I remember it so well is because as a punishment, my parents took me for tea in a little tea house and she had to wait outside until she finished sulking. In my mind I can remember looking out that window and seeing her kicking her heels around and moping about in the cold while I was inside in the warm having a lovely scone and orange squash. I'm not sure, but I may have given her a few smug smiles through the window.
Funny the little things that bring back memories isn't it?

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Will he be a patient patient?

It's been a funny old day. Started at 7.30am with a trek to hospital with my husband for him to be admitted to have an operation on his shoulder. He hadn't really asked many questions when he went to get the results of his MRI scan, I think he'd been in shock at the words 'key hole surgery' when he was expecting 'pain killing injections'. He'd been even more surprised to hear the appointment date was within 2 weeks. He'd told the people at work that he'd probably be back in the office within 2 days. He gave me 'that' look (you know the one!) when I suggested it might be more like a week.
However, now he is home with stitches and slings and bruising and looks so sleepy and sore, I don't have the heart to say the immortal words - 'I told you so.'

Saturday 25 September 2010

Clean and tidy

We have friends coming over for dinner tonight. This means that I am now officially exhausted due to a) preparing all the food and b) spring cleaning the entire ground floor of the house so that all is neat and tidy for when they arrive. Why do I feel the need to do this? They are good friends and drop in unexpectedly from time to time so know how the house normally looks! But something in me needs to have it all looking freshly springcleaned which has one bonus in that I won't need to do any housework for the next week ;-)
I am taking a bit of a risk tonight and although the main course is a tried and tested recipe, I'm doing a couple of desserts and I've not tried either of them before. Could this be a mistake? The first one is a Nigel Slater recipe for almond, apricot and raspberry cake which I am going to serve dusted with icing sugar with a spoonful of whipped cream by the side. It looks good, but you know how they say 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating'! The other dessert I'm trying is a new Nigella Lawson one for a Lemon Meringue fool. I love lemon. I love meringue. So even if no one else wants this ... all the more for me!!! Basically you mix some lemoncello in with lemon curd, whip some cream and fold most of the lemon mixture through so you get a marbled effect. Break up some meringues, mix it all together and then drizzle a little lemon curd/lemoncello mix over the top. Served in cocktail glasses. Sounds easy peasy but you can't make it more than 3 hours in advance. Bearing in mind it is now 6.30 and I'm still sitting here blogging wearing my jeans and no make up, I'm thinking maybe I ought to be getting a move on.
Bon Appetit - hope you are having a good Saturday night whatever you are doing!

Friday 24 September 2010

That's what Inset days are for ...

... catching up on your May Flaum class! I printed off some photos of our weekend away, these ones are of the Pultney Bridge in Bath. There are only a couple of other bridges like this in the world (apparently!) one of which is the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. The unique thing is that the bridge is lined with shops so when you are walking across it, it feels like you are walking down a normal street, you can't see the river at all. It was a really pretty area of the town and a good place to stop for an ice cream!
Whenever we have an inset day at work, I always have to smile as I remember when my son started school he misheard the teacher and thought it was an Insect Day that they were going to have. This is the same boy who kept telling me about aliens in his work book. The teacher had told them to start each sentence close to the Martians (margins)!

Thursday 23 September 2010

Open Evenings

Tonight is open evening at the school where I work. This means that in the last week, every photocopier in the school has had a queue of people waiting to use it and the laminating machine is on melt down. Teachers' tempers are on a short fuse and everywhere looks unnaturally neat and tidy. The display cabinets are polished and everything inside them is new and perfectly presented. Invitations have been sent out to the parents of all Year 6 girls at the local primaries so they get preferential access to the head's speeches. A lot of Year 5 parents try to sneak in to have a look round a year in advance!
It is a stressful time for all. And my heart goes out to those parents looking round and trying to make a decision. We are expecting around 500 families tonight, and normally over 300 parents actually make appointments after the open evening in order to get the application forms to apply to the school. To put that into perspective, we only have 160 places on offer.
It seems only yesterday that I was an anxious parent and we were so lucky that both our children went to our first choice of schools. So if there is anyone out there nervously completing their forms and chewing their finger nails until decisions are made public in March - good luck, hope you get the school of your choice.
As for me, well my work is done, INSET day tomorrow so a nice long weekend ahead!

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Using that stash week 3

Today has been busy, busy, busy. So much for days "off" work!
Started by baking the yoghurt cake that Mel had on her Melshrecipes blog at 7.30am. Well, I was awake and it seemed like a good idea to use my time wisely! Have to say it is delicious. I used raspberry and cranberry yoghurt and the flavour is so subtle. Check it out and try it, you won't be disappointed!
Then I dropped my daughter at work and popped into Waitrose for a bit of shopping.
Came home, decided to follow a recipe for pork belly with plum sauce that was in one of the Sunday supplements. Rubbed all manner of spices into the pork and put it back in the fridge.
I had made a batch of sloe gin the other day and whilst doing that, came across a recipe for blackberry brandy. So, finding myself with the necessary ingredients, decided to give that a whirl too. It's going to be a boozy Christmas!
Went back into town where my daughter wanted me to be her model for a new hair colour. I had no say in which colour it was and I have to say that I haven't been this red for many a year. No, there will be no photos!
Came home, lunch, packed up a wedding present to send to my penfriend in America's daughter, went to the post office to send it off and then finally got to go through a load of papers to do another May Flaum inspired page. I bought the paper with the birds on back in the Spring and I love it so much I haven't dared cut into it. Feeling reckless and determined to follow the brief of using up stuff we have been holding onto, I used it for the frame of the picture that was taken on our recent trip to Bath.
It'll be good to go back to work tomorrow for a rest!

Tuesday 21 September 2010

What not to do in the staff room

What did I learn today?
  • If you are seen knitting during lunch hour in the staff room, the Textiles teacher might ask you to go in and teach Year 9 girls.

Sorry Mrs House, it's really never going to happen! Me? Teach 13 year olds how to knit? I don't think so. Apparently, no one in D&T can knit right handed and so the girls have to learn from video clips! I'm getting on with my great niece's blanket but the weather has taken aCheck Spelling turn for the worse and when they get back from Portugal, I think it's going to be needed so I am knitting at every opportunity.

Me? Teach? Still makes me chuckle when I try and imagine it. However, she is very persuasive. Last time she wanted me to do something I used to find anonymous little gifts of chocolate in my pigeon hole and in tray on my desk and l eventually caved in. Must be strong. But she knows my weaknesses. And she also teaches cookery. If cupcakes start appearing on my desk - I'm in big trouble. Must be strong. Must not give in.

Monday 20 September 2010

Lessons learned today

  1. The IT guy at work gets it wrong sometimes too (he he he!)
  2. It's still fun trying to do the Guardian crossword with my son via Facebook Chat when he is 150 miles away
  3. It probably isn't a great idea to have a large slice of carrot cake at work on a day when I have my Rosemary Conley weigh-in in the evening
  4. It is no good trying to convince myself that the carrots in said cake are part of my 5 a day and are therefore a healthy option
  5. I have no willpower when it is 11am at work and someone says 'Does anyone want some of my birthday cake?'
  6. Cream cheese in the icing on carrot cake does not contribute to part of my milk allowance for the day
  7. It really is time to put the central heating on in the evenings
  8. No matter what temperature I set the heating onto, my husband will turn it down 2 degrees when he walks past the thermostat as he comes home

Something's missing

... and that something is a certain 20 year old boy. We loaded up the car yesterday and trekked up the A1 to Sheffield with all his belongings. Not the most comfortable of journeys, I don't recommend being in the back seat surrounded by boxes and bags with a guitar resting on one shoulder but when you are the smallest one in the family, you become the one who has to fit into whatever space is left.
The house he is staying in this year must have been wonderful when it was first built. It's a 3 storey Victorian house with sweeping gravel drive, impressive front door with large bay windows either side. But before you get visions of grandeur, remember that it is now STUDENT accommodation! It's been divided up into 18 bedrooms. Yes it is large! 3 flats of 6 bedrooms each. Once you get in through that front door, it loses some of its former glory! Well, quite a lot of it really. But it was clean and simply furnished and within easy walking of uni so he seems very happy there.
I've been a bit preoccupied in the last few days with last minute shopping and cooking all his favourite meals and getting all his washing and ironing up to date, so I've fallen a bit behind with by blog-hopping. Apologies to all for lack of comments, I will be gradually going through what I have missed!
So whilst I was feeling a bit deflated and moping about feeling very 'empty nesty', you can imagine how my spirits lifted to find that the lovely Karen had given me an award. Thanks Karen, it was just what the doctor ordered!

And so I will now pass it onto Amy and Abi . Although I have to say that I would have liked to have passed it onto every one of those friends I have made through blogging - it's so nice to have met you all and I love starting my day with catching up with what everyone has been doing and making.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

The boy is back in town

The day is fast approaching when we have to load up the car and do the 150 mile trek up to Sheffield to take our son back to uni for his final year. It wasn't so bad when it was just a date in the diary, or 'this time next month' or even 'next Sunday'. Now it's this Sunday and it is coming round far too soon.
So for the next challenge over at May Flaum's class I decided to use some photos I took of him when he had first returned from uni for the summer, just before he left for his month in Europe. 'Why are you taking pictures of me looking at my laptop?' 'Can I not even play a guitar without you sneaking up with your camera?' He clearly did not understand my need to just document the fact that he was home! And those photos needed to be made into a layout.
The shaped, patterned card behind the photos was bought ages ago, and was so pretty I never found anything suitable to put on it. So as I am supposed to be using up things I wanted to use but never did, it was ideal to slice in half and follow May's page on telling a story through simple jounalling.
As I look at those photos I realise how much I love coming home to the sound of a guitar playing and how nice it is to put my head round his bedroom door and see him checking things out on his laptop. And how much I'm not going to like coming home to an empty, quiet house and open his bedroom door and see it looking just how it was when I left the house in the morning :-(

Sunday 12 September 2010

Using my stash

I'm a little ashamed to admit that I've been neglecting the May Flaum class that I am taking over at BPS, going back to work has really interrupted my craft sessions,but I fully intend to correct that in the next week.

Today I chose to use a photo I had been meaning to scrap for a long time. It's a picture of the husband and I taken back in June. I like this photo as we both look totally relaxed and neither of us is blinking or pulling a silly face. The challenge that I used for it was to create a page on plain cardstock and use no patterned paper at all. Any patterns had to be created by stickers, stamps or embellishments. I picked out a box of 'bits' from the cupboard and decided that I would only use whatever offcuts I had saved from previous projects in there. I'm not a great stamper or rub-on girl but I liked the finished result using these things to create the pattern on it. Maybe I need to revisit the stamp shelf at the local craft shop .....

Saturday 11 September 2010

From secretary to student

I'm so excited! Not just because Strictly Come Dancing returns tonight and I can insist on someone else cooking dinner on a Saturday night from now until Christmas. Oh come on now. I can't miss a minute of it while popping into the kitchen to give something a stir can I? Sadly this also impacts on our social life and our friends know that we will be unavailable until after the show has finished on a Saturday night. Yes, I know I could record it, but somehow it's not the same!
No, the other reason is because, hopefully, I am going to be learning how to do book binding. I love learning new things and if they are craft related, so much the better. I think the whole paper loving thing must be handed down to me from my dad who was a printer and stationer. Whilst typing up the school newsletter last term I noticed an article from the art department showing books made by the girls in the Gifted and Talented class. They were fantastic and I emailed the art teacher to say how impressed I was and wondered if there was any way that I could learn. She said she was thinking of running an after school class leading up to Christmas and would let me know. When our school librarian left after 25 years of service, they made a book for us all to write in as a farewell gift and it was beautiful. Now I had seen one of the books close up, I was even more impressed.
So I was thrilled when the art teacher came to see me on Friday to tell me that she was probably going to be starting classes in October and I was top of her list. Yay! Back to school never felt so good!

Friday 10 September 2010

A change of image

Phew! I've managed to get another page done from the kit from Eclectic Keepsakes! I loved the papers we were given, the colours were great. I've not been a huge Sassafrass fan in the past but I think I may be convinced that I've misjudged them!

My kids have both changed their looks this summer. My son returned from his European trip with beard and moustache which, everyone has agreed, really suits him. Then a couple of weeks ago my daughter decided that it was time for a new look and had a short hair cut. Her hair hasn't been this short since she was about three! We all think it looks great and despite being short, she can style it in so many different ways. I thought it was good to record how they both looked at the end of Summer 2010 before they decided to make more changes!

Thursday 9 September 2010

Bath Lions

I'm so pleased Denise remembered to bring along my kit from the Eclectic Keepsakes crop that I missed when she came over on Monday, but ever since I've had it, I've been longing to do one of the pages and work is seriously curtailing my crafting activities.

I knew exactly which photos I would use from our weekend away. Everywhere we went in Bath, we saw these decorated lions. Each was individually designed and painted by sponsors and at the end of the month they will be auctioned for charity. Though, what anyone would do with a concrete lion the size of a pony is beyond me! There were 100 of them in all kinds of places and some were real works of art. Unfortunately they were a magnet for small children and I did have to wait a while sometimes to get an uninterrupted photo!

Things I learnt today:

It will always rain when the school arranges for a fire drill

School dinners always sound better on the menu board than they are in real life

Blog checking whilst in the exams office is often interrupted by students wanting to discuss their results. Can't they see I'm busy????

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Technical issues

So what did I learn today

  • If something computery goes wrong, it isn't necessarily caused by me breaking it. It's reassuring if two IT helpdesks and the network manager can't make it work either.

  • After 6 weeks holiday, every teacher assumes that their work is the most urgent on the secretaries' lists

  • Each work minute lasts about 10 normal minutes

  • There is no emergency chocolate left in the office cupboard - aaaahhhhh!!!!

  • Someone ate the last biscuit

  • There is nothing more heartbreaking than a little Year 7 new girl standing at the reception desk with tears in her eyes, bottom lip wobbling and a shaky voice saying she's lost and can't find her friends

  • It is very frustrating for the same Year 11 girl being sent down to the office to be reported for uniform infringements 4 times in one day. When will they learn that nail varnish isn't allowed, nor is makeup, knee length does not mean rolling the waistband of your skirt over and over half a dozen times until you show your undies when you walk and a bright pink scarf is not part of our brown uniform.

  • Year 10 girls believe that sighing loudly and tapping their fingernails on the reception desk will get the attention of one of the 5 secretaries trying desperately hard to catch up on start of term work.

Back to school. Don't you just love it?

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Can you keep a secret?

I suppose we should have been suspicious when our son and daughter offered to take us out for a drink for our anniversary. It's not often that we aren't the ones paying the bill if we go out! We had thoroughly enjoyed our weekend in Bath and taken a leisurely, scenic drive home. Arrived back about 3pm, slightly shattered and looking forward to a relaxing evening, curled up in front of the tv watching the first episode of Bouquet of Barbed Wire.
So we left the house at 6pm to go to the local pub, and had a lovely hour or so just chilling and chatting. I did notice that R & J were sending and receiving a fair amount of texts but hey, that's nothing new. However, there came a point where they seemed keen to drink up and get home. Both of them were suddenly hungry apparently. Still, I guessed they had plans for the evening and we had had our quota of quality family time!
Came home, and now I look back on it, I should have noticed that we didn't have to switch the burglar alarm off, yet I knew we had set it as normal when we left. Kicked our shoes off, went into the kitchen, thinking about whether or not they would offer to cook dinner for us, and then J opened the dining room door and ............SURPRISE!!!! Our closest friends and relatives were in there. I was so shocked. So bemused. Can't begin to remember what I said or did! Apparently the kids had decided on Thursday to ring round and organise something. R had managed to grab hold of my phone without me knowing and got mobile numbers for people. They had cooked all afternoon, hidden the food in the wine chiller in the utility room so the fridge was empty of evidence. J's girlfriend and 2 of R's friends had come into the house as we left to set the table and hide the guests as they arrived.
It was such a lovely evening, and really made our 30th Anniversary so memorable. What lovely family and friends we have. We are truly blessed.

Monday 6 September 2010

Let me take you back ...

It's 3pm on Saturday 6th September 1980.
A young couple starting their married life together. The thirty years in between then and now will be filled with happy times, some sad losses, many great experiences, a few tough periods but mostly good times filled with happy memories. They will become a family when their daughter arrives in 1986 and their son in 1990.
As you can probably guess, the young couple in the photo are me and my husband. Today, on our 30th wedding anniversary we will be travelling back from a long weekend away. But I wanted to schedule a post to celebrate our day.

Sunday 5 September 2010

In search of Mr Darcy

By the time this post is published I will be in Jane Austen country - keeping an eye out in case Colin Firth should appear somewhere dressed as Mr Darcy. You never know, it could happen!
We've never been to Bath before, but those who have been have told us it is a lovely place to visit so we decided to go for a long weekend. Weather forecast is good so I am hopeful that we will be able to get out and about and really explore the area. Rumour has it that there are some excellent tea shops for traditional English afternoon tea!
Hopefully I'll return with a few new photos to use for my layouts in the May Flaum class. Watch this space ...

Saturday 4 September 2010


It is a well known fact that I am an untidy scrapbooker. I like to leave mess and confusion in as many rooms and places as possible when I am in a creative mood. Not for me the isolation of a custom-made craft room - oh no. Not when I can spread myself around. My husband is using this as an excuse for falling behind on the household filing. How do we get so much paperwork that we need to hold onto? The in tray is overflowing and the surface of the desk is covered in ribbons, glue, cutters, inks and photos.

As I have been on school holidays he thought that maybe I could use some of my spare time getting up to date with the filing. 'Can you see to the filing today' he asked nicely. I thought I detected a slight unspoken 'instead of messing about with papers and photos' but I may have been imagining it. So I decided to clear the decks and sort out all the bills, receipts etc ready to go into the appropriate files. They all looked a bit boring and scruffy, and so I decided that they needed tidying up.
I didn't actually get round to putting any papers away, but how pretty do the files look now? I'm not sure this is what he had in mind ...

Friday 3 September 2010

First day of class and how I met my husband

Yesterday was the first day of the May Flaum class that I am taking over at Big Picture Scrapbooking. Anyone else on that one? I decided to follow a layout she had shown using 2 6x4 landscape pictures and came across a couple I wanted to use of my husband and his friend. Said friend is the husband of Denise . Denise and I used to both work for a holiday company back in the late 70s and we became close friends. That travel company has a lot to answer for as it was through them that I met my husband.
I used to work in the private letting department, arranging holidays for people who owned villas abroad and I worked quite closely with a lady called Janet in the Customer Relations department. Janet was always saying how she thought I should meet her cousin and would regularly ask me if I was 'between boyfriends'. After a while, I figured the only way to stop her asking was to let her know when I was single and she threatened to introduce me to this man she felt would be perfect for me. One day my phone rang, I picked it up and it was an internal call from Janet. Or at least it was for a few seconds, then she transferred an external call to me, which was her cousin. Embarrassment all round. Anyhow, we both agreed that to put Janet out of her misery we would meet up for a drink one evening. Neither of us had seen photos of each other, it was a true blind date! It could have gone horribly wrong but as it would happen, Janet was a good judge of character and we have now been married for almost 30 years.
Coincidentally, Denise used to talk to me about this handsome football player she liked and it turned out he was friends with Janet's cousin (who was, by then, my boyfriend) easy enough to let him know she was interested! The top photo in my layout was taken one New Year's Eve when the four of us (by now young married couples!) went to Langtry Manor Hotel in Bournemouth. An amazing hotel with a royal history, a really memorable NYE. The bottom photo was taken a few weeks ago, you may notice a change in hairstyles ;-)

Thursday 2 September 2010

3 things for Thursday

Fortunately no wildlife related things have happened to me today. Although I had to smile at a text message I had from my friend Jill last night. A few weeks ago, she was sitting in her lounge watching tv, looked up and saw a bat on her ceiling! I tried hard to be sympathetic, after all if it had happened to me you would have heard me screaming wherever you live in the world. But I just had this vision of Jill trying to get a bat out of her house singlehandedly and it did make me smile, just a little bit. So last night, she sent me a text to say that she was sitting down eating her dinner and saw that in the corner of the room was a frog! I would have paid good money to see her chasing a frog round her lounge, I'm not sure that it would have been easy to coax a frog out the door without actually touching it. Just one thought though, things often happen in 3s, I wonder what's next? he he he!!
Anyhow, three things I learnt today:

1. If my friend Julia gives me the recipe for her favourite chocolate fudge icing recipe, I will wake up with the single thought going round and round my brain - 'Must make cake, must make cake'

2. As soon as my son surfaces, he will insist on trying new recipe icing for his breakfast

3. Icing will be so scrummy that I really ought to share the recipe: I apologise now for anyone on a diet who feels the need to try this one out ;-)

3 oz Icing Sugar
1 oz cocoa powder
1 1/2 oz butter
2 tablespoons water
2 oz caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Sift icing sugar and cocoa together in bowl.
2 Put all other ingredients in another bowl and microwave until all is melted
3 Pour melted mixture over icing sugar/cocoa and stir quickly until mixed.
4 Try to refrain from putting finger into mixture to see how delicious it is
5 Give into temptation and lick almost empty bowl after covering cake


Wednesday 1 September 2010

Lessons learnt today

1. Nigella's recipes are so far all successful. The Thai Chicken Noodle Soup was voted as 'better than anything you would get in Wagamama's' by my husband. Praise indeed.
2. 3pm is not too early for a glass of rose wine provided you are sitting in your friend's garden with a slice of her homemade victoria sandwich cake filled with whipped cream and raspberry jam
3. The last week of the summer holidays goes past 3 times as fast as the previous 5 weeks

and most important of all -

4. If one of your koi carp dies at the weekend and your husband is given the job of burying it in the garden, he should dig a hole deeper than 2ft or a fox will come into the garden overnight, dig it up, eat half of it and leave the remains in the middle of your lawn