Monday 28 February 2011

Happy birthday to him

How quickly can a weekend go?  We had a really lovely weekend and it just flew by far too fast.  Our son came home on Friday for pre-21st birthday celebrations with the family.  So my Saturday was spent cooking up large pots of chilli con carne for the buffet

P1020296Picking up his cake from WaitroseP1020297  Not to mention baking a Banoffee Pie and a raspberry cheesecake on a coconut biscuit base and making various salads and side dishes.  Then on Sunday it was over to the ‘party’ shop to pick up a centrepiece for the table


And some helium balloons


Then suddenly people started arriving, bottles of wine were opened, food was eaten and of course cake was presented along with sparklers


And a couple of willing helpers to help blow them out while we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’

And all too soon it was over, and today he went back to Sheffield, with a car full of presents – the main one of which was our gift to him of a new guitar

P1020313 And of course I couldn’t let him leave without the obligatory ‘Mum with her son’ photo for a future layout


Friday 25 February 2011

B & W - Hearts

I ♥ hearts

wall decoration in conservatory

(wall decoration in my conservatory)

Thursday 24 February 2011

24 hours and counting

This time tomorrow I will be anxiously waiting at the local train station waiting for the train from Sheffield to arrive.  You know the routine.  Arrive far too early, sit in the car park pretending not to be watching the clock.  Thinking up an excuse not to be sitting in the car because you really want to be on the station platform ready and waiting.  Casually getting out the car, walking towards the ticket office and onwards through to Platform 1.  Glancing nonchalantly at the arrivals board to see if the train is on time.  Staring anxiously into the distance to watch for the first glimpse of the train as it comes round the corner and into view.  That excited little feeling in your stomach as it gets closer.  Stepping backwards as the train draws in, that shudder of noise as the driver puts on the brakes.  A few heartbeats of silence before the doors open and people start to step off the train.  What part of the train will he be on?  Do I look left or right?  And then that wonderful moment when a slightly bedraggled, scruffy, student steps off, lugging a huge holdall (no doubt full of washing) onto the platform.  That wonderful moment when he catches your eye, a big grin comes over his face as he rushes forward and gives you a big hug.  ‘Hi Mum, oh, it’s great to be home.’

And it will be great to have him home too. 

When my daughter was at university she bought me a little book of quotes all about Mums.  She had put little page markers in the pages that she thought were most appropriate.  There’s one that says  ‘Nothing looks as lonely as your mum before she sees you coming up the platform’.   That will be me – this time tomorrow.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

mini book

Embracing Imperfection Week two was to make a mini book using quotes that we downloaded from the website.  For some reason that seemed logical at the time I decided to make my own mini book out of some thin chipboard squares and a couple of silver fasteners I found in a drawer.  Well it seemed a good idea at the time.  I've almost finished it but need to do a little more to the last couple of pages but thought I would share it as far as it has come:
Page 5 & 6 

page 7 & 8
page 1 & 2

page 3 & 4

Now, dear old Blogger is embracing imperfection in it's own sweet way today and refusing to put these pictures in any semblance of the order in which I uploaded them which has a kind of irony about it doesn't it?  And the weather is so poor here today that I have struggled to find anywhere to photograph the pages and in trying to prop the book open, all the pages look different sizes and shapes (they aren't really, honest!)
I want to add some ribbons to the rings on the front cover but need to find some scaps of red ribbon.  And in true imperfect style, I hand wrote the last quote on page 8 because what could be more imperfect than my own handwriting?

Tuesday 22 February 2011

New Cook on the Block

I've discovered a new cook.  She has a cookery programme on Saturday mornings and her name is Lorraine Pascale .  I like her style of cooking and I love the recipes that she cooks.  I especially like the look of her cake shop here . I've tried two or three recipes now from her tv series and I've already started dropping serious hints to the husband about wanting her cookery book for my birthday.  Yes, I do already have two shelves full of cookery books.  No I probably don't NEED another one, but I figure if I cook up a few delicious recipes from her website he may realise that kitchen life as we know it could be so much better if I had it. 
So yesterday I tried her Mini Tiramisu cakes which passed the taste test although I quickly froze 6 so that I can bring them out at the weekend.  Then today I thought that I would use the recipe but adapt it to be chocolate muffins with white chocolate chips.
You know how they say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach?  I'm guessing that the way to a new cookery book is exactly the same!

Monday 21 February 2011

Back to my youth

When you see this photo:
Do you think:
a)  Who on earth is that?
b) awwww ..... I remember him ..... I had that poster .....

Well if you answered 'a' you are obviously much much younger than me and should look away now.
If you answered 'b' then you and I have much in common!  When I was growing up I loved David Cassidy.  Bought Jackie magazine because they always had articles on him and posters to stick on your wall.  DC was a big part of my teenage years. 
I've just finished reading this:
When I read the storyline I knew I had to buy it even though it is pure 'chick lit'.  It's the kind of book you can read in a few sittings but oh how I associated with the characters.  Without giving too much away it starts with a woman in her 40s clearing her mothers house and finding a letter hidden at the back of the wardrobe.  She recognises the self addressed envelope as one she had completed as part of a magazine competition when she was a teenager. 
It then goes back in time to her being that teenager and obsessed with David Cassidy.  Day to day life of a girl growing up in the 70s.  Entering a competition to win the opportunity to meet him.  Going to his final UK concert in White City where a fan died and he then stopped touring. 
So it turns out that she won the competition but her mother hid the letter and she never knew.  In a moment of madness she contacts the magazine to claim her prize after all these years.  
It was a good lighthearted read and I defy anyone out there who grew up in 'love' with DC not to smile as she describes the kind of crazy things a young teenage girl will do just to try and be the perfect girl that her hero will fall in love with! 

Sunday 20 February 2011

Cornbread and casserole

I blogged earlier this week about my surprise package from Deb and of course I am so impatient, I couldn't wait to try it out!
So yesterday, I made a batch of good old British casserole (flavoured with good old Irish Guinness)

and made up a batch of good old American cornbread

And the judges' verdict?
Couldn't wait to try the cornbread once it was warm out of the oven.  Lovely.
Tried another square with a drizzle of honey over the top.  Lovely.
So having decided it was good as a sweet option, I was interested to see how it would go with a savoury dish.  Lovely!  What a versatile food.  I think I need to start a campaign to bring cornmeal over to the UK!
Big thanks and big hugs to Deb Turtle xxx

Friday 18 February 2011

Creative afternoon

Ah, the first day of the school half term.  It really doesn't start until next week but it's a CPD day today for teachers and the secretaries get an extra day today as we don't have to work CPD days. 
So a quick trip over to my nearest Hobbycraft, picked up a 'few' bits and pieces, came home, met a friend of mine for a pub lunch and nice glass of wine then back home to do a bit of sewing.
Last time I went to a crop, Denise and her friend Jane had some rather snazzy bits of equipment that Jane had made for them.  They are called 'thread catchers' but basically it's a portable bin for all the little extra bits that get cut and snipped and discarded while you are busy scrapbooking.  Jane had made theirs out of some rather gorgeous Cath Kidston fabric but in the absence of a CK shop locally, I had to improvise!  I'm still pretty pleased with the end result though:

The top cushion part is weighted down so that it holds to the edge of the table but I've also put a wad of padding in there too so it can also be a kind of pincushion.  No excuse for a messy table now eh?

Thursday 17 February 2011

Surpises on the doorstep ...

Gosh it's been a long day at work.  Glad I'm home.  Key in door, push door open ... oh look there's mail on the mat ....
Strange, I'm not expecting anything through the post.  Wait a moment, it's an air mail package ....
Whatever could it be ....

A gift from Deb!  I mentioned about us not having cornmeal over here and she's sent me some ingredients to make the recipe she mentioned here
And not only that, she sent these

Isn't that a wonderful surprise?
Big thanks from this side of the ocean 'other Deb' !
A wonderful end to the day - I can't stop smiling!

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Imperfection - Take One

"I cling to my imperfection, as the very essence of my being. ~ "
Anatole France

I realised that there was no point in signing up for the Embracing Imperfection class if I didn't grab hold of a bit of imperfection, fling it on a piece of card and try to embrace it - so here is my take on the first week's handout!

This was a photo that was taken on Boxing Day and it's rare to get my sister, daughter and myself in a photo together.  But the lighting was not brilliant and we're not all looking ... well ... perfect but it's a memorable occasion and I wanted to use it on a page.  One thing I struggle with on pages is journalling.  I'm not proud of my handwriting and I feel that it doesn't enhance my pages!  My dad had the most beautiful handwriting and always wrote with a proper fountain pen, he could do beautiful copperplate lettering, but sadly, that is not a trait I inherited!  I've yet to find a pen that I feel totally comfortable with I guess.  But one thing that rang true in the handout was that when I look back on odd scraps of writing from my parents, a note on the front cover of a bookplate or a scribble of a recipe in one of my mum's cookery books, I feel such a surge of love that it doesn't matter how beautiful or scruffy it is.  Just seeing it is a memory of a time when they were here to write things down.  So, as these scrapbooks are likely to become memory keepers of their own, I guess it is only fair to write the occasional handwritten comment myself.  {even if it is so scruffy that no one can decipher it!}  I've restricted my self to facts on this page - but who knows as the course progresses ............

I'm not totally comfortable with using white cardstock as a background but I wanted to keep it kind of simple so I decided to dust down the sewing machine and sew a few lines of stitching to make a border.  And just to help me with the imperfect theme ... the thread tangled and broke about 6" from the end of the 2nd row of stitching.  Thank you sewing machine, much appreciated!  I had a good sort out of coloured flowers that I have and managed to find a flower in every colour that is in our clothing which was a bit of luck and hopefully they will help bring out the colours in the picture against the starkness of the white. 

Sunday 13 February 2011

An imperfect scrapper in an imperfect world

The Embracing Imperfection class started this week, with lots of good ideas for making the most of things that aren't strictly 100% how we would like them to be.  There's an old saying that you 'can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear' - meaning that if something isn't very good to start with there isn't much you can do to improve it, but this class would seem to be proving that it isn't the case in scrapbooking!
Unable to draw a straight line or stick something down in the exact middle of a layout - exaggerate the error and make it look as if asymmetrical was what you intended anyway.  Not got the right colour embellishment?  Pick up lots of similar colours and make it look as if you are showing a variety of hues.  Blurry photos?  More important to document an occasion with whatever you have rather than miss out an important event just because the photos were a bit 'off'.  And a cleverly positioned flower or rub-on can hide a multitude of sins!
Why waste hours making sure that everything is positioned 'just so' when in a few years time the adhesive will probably be giving up and things will be on the move anyway?!  That was a bit of an eye opener, but I guess that it probably is true.
I haven't actually made a layout since opening the first week handout but from what I have read so far, I think that this class is going to be a good one!

Friday 11 February 2011

Black and White - the beer page

It's my nephew's birthday next week, and I needed to get him a card.  We always exchange humourous ones so when I saw this one in Marks and Spencer, I knew it was perfect for a 39 year old ex-rugby player:


As it was in black and white I thought it would do nicely for this week's black and white photo!

Thursday 10 February 2011

Men in uniform

Back in the late 70s I became a huge fan of Tom Selleck.  He was Magnum PI and in my opinion - just gorgeous.  My friend Denise shared my opinion and we have been loyal followers ever since.  With his film roles in 3 Men and a Baby, and TV appearances in Friends (where he looked particularly gorgeous).
Now Denise has been taunting me lately, as he is in a new series that has come over from the States.  Blue Bloods.  Turns out that it is ONLY available on Sky Atlantic over here.  Needless to say, we have digital TV at home, but we subscribe to Virgin Media.  Denise has Sky.  Say no more.
Apparently it's very good.  Apparently he looks magnificent in uniform.  Apparently he looks every bit as good as he did in Friends.  I say 'apparently' as I have only Denise's word to go on as - I can't see the programme :-( 
But a couple of weeks ago, the company that installs the advertising hoardings at bus stops locally changed the poster in the bus shelter right by my house.  And guess what poster they put up in it's place?

We do look rather good together don't we?

Wednesday 9 February 2011

And the winner is ....

I tried to think of an original way of drawing the name of the next person to get 'Pass the Book' but owing to the lack of family pets I had to resort to doing it myself.  Whilst making breakfast this morning, I noticed the colourful Nespresso coffee pods in the jar and thought 'Hey, no one else has drawn coffee pods yet!' so I stuck names on pods and put them in a bowl.  Then I thought 'Wouldn't it be good if I could get a local celebrity to do the draw?' but the only celebrities who live within a 10 mile radius of me are David Beckham and Posh Spice and I can't quite see them pitching up to do a home video this time of the morning.  So, you're stuck with me. 
Now, bear with me a while, as I wondered 'How will they know it isn't a fix?  I know, I'll use the video on my camera'  This was not such a good idea!  Not easy to do on your own so excuse the very poor quality of this clip and unfortunate close ups, facial expressions whilst trying not to laugh and oh yes, the sound quality isn't too good either ... but without further ado - drum roll please ....

Congratulations Cheri, email me with your address and I will get it sent over to you as soon as I can!  How exciting, the book is coming over the ocean!

Tuesday 8 February 2011

4x6 Photo Love

Is anybody else out there taking part in Shimelle's 4 x 6 Photo Love class?  It's FREE {happy dance} so I think you all ought to pop on over here and get scrapping!  The crop that I went to on Saturday has the format of 'doing your own thing' in the morning and doing a class in the afternoon, so I thought it was a great opportunity to do my first page.  The papers in the Sarah' Cards kit this month were such a beautiful colour (look in my wardrobe, you'll see how much I love these tones!)  and I kept thinking that the aqua colour reminded me of something I had seen recently...

When we went to Cologne we came across the original building where the 4711 Eau de Cologne was made and they have a picture of a bottle of it on the side of the building.  I decided that this would suit the papers and Shimelle sketch well and here is the page I ended up with.  It could have had more embellishments on it but I got a bit carried away chatting and eating cupcakes {you know how it is when you put a group of scrapbookers together in the same room!}

Just a final reminder to leave me a comment if you want to be included in the pass the book draw as tomorrow is the last day! 

Monday 7 February 2011

Eclectic Crop

What better way to spend a Saturday?  A day cropping with the Eclectic Ladies. Read Karen's version of the day here! One of the many highlights of the day for me and a recurring question going over and over in my mind on the journey up there is ... what favour cupcake will it be this month?  And once again, Karen did not disappoint ....
So good morning was spent settling down, drinking tea, eating said cupcakes, and having a good chat with my friends Denise and Jane.  Although I'm not sure I should be quite so forgiving of Denise for her post on her blog here where we are referred to as Old Biddies and not Old Buddies!  Good job we both share the same sense of humour eh?
The guest designer was Ann Freeman (gosh, lots of links going on today!)  and she had come up with a lovely double page layout for us using some fab papers.  I even forgive her the cutting out of wiggly bits and picture frames because the finished result was lovely
and here are pages left and right on their own

Ann had used black and white pictures on her version and I have to say that I think that it looks even better that way.  They were lovely papers from Echo Park 'Be Mine' collection.  Check them out - but be prepared to end up buying some! 

Don't forget to leave me a comment if you want to be included in the pass the book draw .......

Sunday 6 February 2011

Storytelling Sunday

When I was at primary school my best friend was a girl called Nicky.  We were in the same class at school and although we were very different, we got on really well together.  Nicky's parents were (in my eyes) quite glamorous.  Her mum owned a small hairdressing salon and her dad was a professional footballer.  He played for a team called Cristal Palace, not that it meant anything to me at the time, it just sounded so wonderful.  They were the very first people I ever knew who had a remote controller to their TV.  Not like we know them to be now, it was connected by a cable but hey - you didn't have to get up to change channel - how high tech was that in the late 60s?  Funny how silly things stick in your mind.
Nicky was allowed to wear really fashionable clothes .  Her mum once crocheted her a turquoise mini dress - I was so in awe of that.  And she had lovely long hair, almost down to her waist.  Not only that but she was allowed to have her ears pierced when she was only about 9.  I was so jealous.  I really wanted pierced ears but my mum was very against it and I had to wait until I was 16 to have it done. 
Anyway, Nicky's older cousin decided he wanted to learn guitar and he went on to form a band and started doing gigs.  I told you she moved in glamorous circles didn't I?  I remember so clearly walking down the road with her, Nicky in her crocheted mini dress and golden earrings, me probably in sensible Clarks sandals and my red hair in pigtails and she was chatting about her cousin Rick.  He'd made a record, if I wanted to buy it, she would give it to him to get him to autograph it and then if he got famous it would be a collectors item.  As if I was going to waste what little pocket money I got on some single from a band I'd never heard of.  The band didn't even have a decent name.  I mean - who's going to be interested in anyone called 'Status Quo'.
If only I had known ......

Saturday 5 February 2011

February B&W

The weather for this weekend was forecast to be horrible and so I used my day off on Wednesday to take this week's black and white photo. I decided to go back to where I grew up to take a photo of the church in which I was Christened and married.

It's a really lovely old church and it hasn't changed too much since I was little.  In fact between 1963 and 1969 I went to school in the church building right next to it and that building looks very similar to the church!  It wasn't the ideal building for a primary school, massively high ceilings, windows very high up so at child level there was little natural light and of course as a historic building it wasn't divided up into classrooms, we just had partitions in between the classes.  The church is REALLY old, built in 1190 and I love the fact that it is still regularly used and well maintained.  My parents and great-grandparents are buried in the churchyard and as I walked down to the grave to place some flowers, I came across an old grave that is normally well hidden
There are a pair of these stone memorials with a smaller one in the middle.  They are memorials to John Watlington, his wife and infant son.  When I was growing up I lived near to a road called Watlington Road but never knew who it was named after.  Turns out he was the vicar at the church in the late 1800s.  His gravestone is inscribed by all manner of celebrations to how wonderful he was and glorifying his life, but I wondered why his wife was only given this particular sentiment that I photographed.  "She did what she could".  After the wonderful send off that her husband had, it seems a bit unfair that it was all they could say about her!

Thursday 3 February 2011

The time has come ...

... and I have to (reluctantly) pass on the book that I adopted from Sian.  It is called 'Inner Excavation' - Explore your self through photography, poetry and mixed media.  There's a picture of it on my post here and I have to say that I have really enjoyed reading it and dipping in and out of the chapters.  Even though I have no great knowledge of poetry I enjoyed learning how to match words with pictures and I feel that I can carry this through when adding journalling to my pages.  Her suggestions for photographing subjects and methods have been really good and I've learnt how to look at subjects in different ways.
So - in the spirit of 'Pass the Book' I'm now supposed to say who this book would appeal to.  Well let the book answer that, here is a paragraph from towards the end.
' The people I have met through art retreats and through my blog - people who started out as 'online friends' who have become deep, real, true friends are my creative circle.  They are the people I turn to when I am stuck or need support or just want to brainstorm the new crazy idea brewing inside of me.  The truth is that they live all around the world, so getting together to create for a day or weekend just doesn't happen as often as I would like.  Perhaps you experience this as well.  Maybe your closest creative friends are a phone call/email away instead of a short drive.'
Does anyone out there associate with that?  Then this book is for you! 
If you would like to be the next adoptee - just leave me a comment here by Wednesday 9th February and I will draw a name the following day.
(of course if no one comments, I could get to keep it forever ........!)

Wednesday 2 February 2011


When I turned on the TV this morning, the news was about parts of Australia bracing itself for a terrible storm. When I turned my phone on this morning and checked Facebook, my friend's daughter who lives near Chicago posted comments about being snowed in. The weather report showed huge amounts of snow falling in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. The local weather report here said that we were to expect bitterly cold weather over the next few days, strong winds and a band of snow/sleet coming across the country.

I went to the shops and right as you come through the doors they had a display of daffodils for sale. They were tight little buds but on an impulse I bought a bunch and put them in a vase on the table in my hallway. I went out for an hour or so and when I came back, as I opened the front door I saw that one little bud had opened up completely while I had been out. There's something about a bright yellow daffodil that makes you smile and I finally believe that spring might be just around the corner.
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