Tuesday 31 January 2012

Just one sketch # 5

Oh dear, we were really taken out of our comfort zone for the next prompt on Just One Sketch.  Doing everything we wouldn't normally do.  So I used a photo I wouldn't normally use (I'm more a people kind of girl rather than a 'flora and fauna' type) and used colours I wouldn't normally pick.  So I chose orange.  Not only orange, but orange and yellow. 
It was a good experiment, and I quite like the finished result, but it hasn't convinced me that I need to go out and stock up on orange papers!  
We have had an awful couple of days at work and our school has ended up on national TV for all the wrong reasons.  One of our Year 10 girls was killed whilst crossing a railway track at the weekend and it has really hit the whole school community.  Such a lovely girl, full of potential and with her life ahead of her.  Not the type of girl to go out and get into trouble or be messing about and getting into trouble.  Just a girl who chanced her luck to cross a line she crossed on a daily basis even though the red lights were showing and the gate was closed.   So for those of you with teenage or younger children, take them to one side, give them a big hug and tell them that Aunty Debs says for them to be super careful crossing roads or tracks and that red lights mean 'stop' and they are there for a good reason.  If you could see the notes that the girls are hanging from the tree of remembrance in our courtyard, your heart would break.   

Sunday 29 January 2012

365+1 Week 4

Well, another week of the 365+1 photo challenge has passed and I have this to share
Strangely enough, the one I found most difficult this week was the 'Free Choice' one.  Having become accustomed to being given a word to inspire we were suddenly left to our own devices and allowed to choose something of our own.  I guess the word that summed up my Free Choice day was 'obsessed'.  My daughter has lent me her box sets of Lost and it is compulsive viewing.  I need to have a daily episode (at least!).
Having a somewhat stressful morning in the kitchen today.  7 for Sunday lunch and one of them is my daughter's boyfriend who's a Head Chef in a 2* Michelin restaurant.  It's just like being on Masterchef.  Cooking doesn't get any tougher than this!  Needless to say there are more dishes being served today than on a normal Sunday ;-)

Saturday 28 January 2012

Just one sketch #4

I just want to say how much I am enjoying the class 'Just One Sketch'.  Wednesday's prompt was to go minimalist with the colours on the page.  She referred us to a website called Design Seeds that would help put colours together.   Now, I have to warn you now, going onto this website will seriously affect the amount of time you spend on the Internet - but I know you won't be put off by that will you?
So I started with this picture
And I liked the look of this combination
But it was a bit too pink and purple rather than red and blue, so I looked again and found this
And with that for inspiration, I made this
I wonder what's in store next?

Thursday 26 January 2012

Happy Mail Day

Today was a day that it really felt as if life was trying to give me a sign.  A sign that even on bad days there are nice things out there, and nice people too.  
I'd had a rotten day.  A morning of Excel spreadsheets and questionnaire analysis and number crunching.  Then the newsletter I was involved in producing had some of its articles removed and left me with large spaces to fill.  The day before publication.  And the person proof reading it got very pernickity about things being in bold and things being in italic and things being underlined and wanting to change the style of things just as I thought it was ready to go to print... 18 pages of Publisher needing re-formatting.  
Not to mention the fact that I had had a 'run in' with my son in the morning over his possible forthcoming month of volunteering in Tanzania. I knew that by doing a Masters degree in African Politics, the chance of him wanting to go out there was pretty high, but I was trying hard to push it to the back of my mind.  It's tough to encourage your child to follow their dreams and to take every opportunity offered when in your heart they are still your baby (OK so he's almost 22) and you want to keep them safe and within sight.
So I arrived home to find a package waiting for me and guess what was inside
 A package of goodies from Ruth - Such lovely cards and a gorgeous lilac notebook.  Suddenly the world was a nicer place and I swapped my frown to a smile!
But how typical is this?  I am naturally concerned about my boy travelling off to Tanzania on his own, and all manner of worries are crossing my mind.  So, before dinner, I sat down to watch the six o'clock news and one of the stories there was about a man who died in Tanzania after being stung by a swarm of bees.  My husband turned to me and said 'That could have happened anywhere you know.'  How did he guess what I was thinking?!

Monday 23 January 2012

Just One Sketch 3

It wasn't until I was taking the photo of this layout that I realise my not so  deliberate mistake
This was supposed to be a mirror image of our first layout but then I noticed that I had put the bottom embellishment on the wrong side of the page.  I tried to remove it but, too late, it was stuck fast!  So here is a page dedicated to my nephew's son who is growing up to be such a lovely young man.
The husband is now back from his travels so I suspect I will not be so 'quick off the mark' with the next prompt for this project.  He took one look at the coffee table in the lounge, another at the dining table (still strewn with papers and glues) and said 'You've been having a nice time scrapping then.'  How did he guess?!

Sunday 22 January 2012

365+1 Week 3

Another week of 365+1 photos.  In which I have shared the embarrassment of the overflowing ironing basket and the unhealthy contents of my cupboard.  Not to mention the cute little bundle of fluff that accompanies my daughter when she comes to visit!
My week of solitude comes to an end today as my husband returns from his week in Portugal with my brother in law.  I am hoping that the change of routine and glorious sunshine will bring him home a more more relaxed person.  Sounds like they had a good week of long walks, lunchtime beers overlooking the sea and a couple of rounds of golf.  Now I just need to break it to him that while he was away our son was offered the opportunity to do volunteer work in Tanzania in the summer ...  I have made it absolutely clear to him that this is something he will have to self-finance so it is by no means a done deal yet!  I don't think he realises how expensive flights to Africa are, but he is enjoying looking into the possibility of going, even if it doesn't happen.

Friday 20 January 2012

Just one sketch #2

The 2nd prompt suggested that we turn our sketch round and use the same idea but sideways or upside down. Mine ended up like this
I think I prefer this one to the first one.  What a simple idea but how useful to know!
I had a bit of an 'incident' at work this morning and am nursing a badly bruised and grazed foot.  Our exams office is tiny.  Small enough for one person.  Cramped with two people.  And overcrowded with three.  I work in exams 6 hours a week so it's not normally an issue but when the exams are actually taking place, another member of 'Team Exams' comes in to help out and an extra temporary desk and plastic chair has to be drafted in.  So things are a bit tight to say the least.  It's Year 11 mocks and Year 12 and 13 Public Exams January modules at the moment so three of us in there.  Today while I was standing by the printer,  my colleague pulled out her chair (not a normal office chair, but the temporary one that is typical of those found in schools with thin metal legs) and sat down.  Not realising that when she pulled out the chair, one of the legs went on the top of my foot, and before either of us realised - she sat down ... and she's not a small lady by any means.  Ouch!  It hurt so much but she was so devastated by what had happened I didn't have the heart to tell her how bad it was.  I was wearing opaque tights so we couldn't see the damage but I just got home and looked.  It's not a pretty sight I can tell you!

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Many a true word ...

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.” 
photo source Google images

Sunday 15 January 2012

Just One Sketch

Day one of Just One Sketch has arrived!  Although it arrived with a panic when I couldn't remember how to access the blog that the prompts were going to be on.  Thankfully a quick email rectified that - although I can almost see my report card now 'Deborah needs to pay more attention in class.  Must try harder.'  This class has coincided with my husband being away for the week and so that means I can be as messy as I like and no one is going to moan about wanting to use the desk but they can't because all my craft stuff is on it.  Happy days!  He had the opportunity to go out to Portugal with my brother in law and has gone to rest, relax and recharge his batteries for a week. Lucky thing.
I digress.  Here's my layout for the first day of Just One Sketch

I've been longing to use this photo that was taken on Christmas Day.  My daughter had brought over her puppy's cage with the thought that if she was overwhelmed by all the people and attention or if she got over excited, she could go into her bed and have some quiet time on her own.  However, the children thought the cage was wonderful and ignored all their new presents so they could take it in turns to lock themselves into the dog cage!  Coco couldn't get a look in!

Re yesterday's post and the cheese baker - it's basically a ceramic dish that you can cooked baked brie or baked camembert in.  You take your round of cheese, slice off the top skin, drizzle olive oil over it and insert a few fine slices of garlic in the top.  Sprinkle with herbs if you like and then place in the dish, cover with a lid and put in the oven for about 15 mins.  The cheese inside softens, the flavours of the garlic and herbs get into it and you serve it with crusty bread or bread sticks and it makes like a mini fondue.  Delicious!

Saturday 14 January 2012

365+1 Week 2

Week two of 365+1 had a couple of interesting challenges.
Cosy - My son's hat fitted the bill for this one
Water - Our 'grandpuppy' has her own water and food bowl which she leaves at our house.  She came to visit on Tuesday and gave me inspiration for this prompt
Metallic - what self respecting scrapper wouldn't have a silver dabber in her stash?
Clothing - went into town and found a lovely top in White Stuff knocked down from £39 to £12 - result!
Translucent - view from the window in the Exams office at work (similar to how I imagine prison to look!)  For security purposes we have to have obscured glass in the eye level window panes and security blinds which lock when the office is empty.  No chance of the integrity of exams papers being compromised on our watch!
What's in your fridge - we had friends over for drinks in the evening so wine and beer chilling and a camembert ready for baking in my new cheese baker.
Guilty pleasure - come on, admit it.  I bet I'm not the only one who enjoys licking the left over mixture off the whisk when the cake is ready for the oven.

I love the way Picasa makes it so easy to make collages out of a selection of pictures, one click and it's done.  Perfect for keeping these pictures together at the end of the project.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

A few words for a Tuesday

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh?" he whispered. 
"Yes, Piglet?" 
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you.”

Monday 9 January 2012

Luscious lemon loveliness

I did say that if the lemon dessert that I made yesterday was as lovely as I remembered it being, I would share the recipe so I will be doing just that.  Click on the recipes tag and it should be there! If you are looking for something light and refreshing and simple to make, this is the dessert.  I find that recipes that I get from other people are entered with the name of the person who gave them to me so this is 'Linda's Lemon Pudding'.  Try it and let me know what you think!

Sunday 8 January 2012

Weekly round up

I've noticed that a few other people doing the 365+1 project have made glorious collages of their photos and I just had to scraplift that idea!  I'm already envisioning an album of the year (which also assumes that I will stay the course on this one - I know I can, I'm sure I can, I can, I can, I can ...)
I think this is a better way than posting a random picture on my blog each day so if someone could remind me next week that I need to get the next seven together, that would be greatly appreciated!  
Is everyone having a nice relaxing Sunday?  I've got a very gorgeous looking roast shoulder of lamb in the oven, with crispy roast potatoes, parmesan parsnips, carrots and broccoli.  So if you're in the area, do pop in and I'll set an extra place at the table.  I'm also revisiting an old faithful recipe for a lemon sponge dessert that separates out as it cooks and leaves a sponge topping with a zingy lemon sauce beneath.  If it works as well as it used to, I'll share the recipe tomorrow!  Haven't updated the recipe page of the blog in a long time so this would be a perfect reason to share it.

Saturday 7 January 2012

Project completed

Whilst at the Eclectic Keepsakes crop today I finally did the last layout for the 4x6 Photo Love project that Shimelle ran over 2011.  12 photos on one layout - done and dusted!

Excuse the quality of the photos, but it's that time of day and that time of year!  Only mid afternoon but already having to put the lights on in the house.  
I was so pleased to go to the crop today even though I couldn't stay long as I was still feeling poorly.  Whatever this bug is, it's horrible and I'm fed up with it!  From what I hear from others, it's a two weekly thing so hopefully I am now half way through.
As for those cups I showed in yesterday's post, I am happy to say that I am not the one who has to polish them (there are over 40 prizes awarded and that's a lot of polishing!)  At our school we have a policy of year 8 girls being given one day a year off of timetable to be our 'student receptionist'.  They sit at a desk in the main reception area and sign in visitors, sign for deliveries, get messages to students and generally help out wherever possible.  The day before Senior Presentation Evening is the day that the student receptionists are given the cups to polish.  For some reason, give a 12 year old an opportunity to roll up their sleeves and get dirty and they are happy as a pig in ... clover.  So when I gave them the cups, dusters, rubber gloves and a tin of 'Silvo' their eyes lit up!

Friday 6 January 2012

Hello Spring Term 2012

Back to work yesterday after over two weeks off - oh it's painful!  Quite apart from the fact I was still feeling poorly, it was our Senior Presentation Evening where our ex Year 13 and ex Year 11 are invited back to collect their A level/GCSE certificates and we also award special prizes.  My colleague and I are responsible for the organisation of this and my responsibility lies with putting the right certificates in the right envelopes (oh the stress!  270 students get an envelope each with at least 3 certificates in them ...) and also getting the nominations in for the winners of the prizes.  
It's a pretty important evening in the life of the school and a real celebration of our students' achievements.  So when I saw that the 365+1 theme for the photo of the day was excitement, how could I resist taking a photo of the silver cups and glass trophies that were waiting on my desk to be taken through to the stage?

Wednesday 4 January 2012


I am enjoying being up to date with the 365+1 Challenge - although as we are only at day four, things could easily go downhill once I go back to work!  So I will share my first few days 
If you fancy joining in, details are over here on Suzie's Blog
I've realised that my take on the words has been pretty literal so far so I need to start thinking 'outside of the box' - I mean, you'd hate me to be predictable wouldn't you?
Back to school tomorrow, and believe me, us staff dread it as much as the students do!  I've kind of got into a nice routine here at home, it seems a shame to mess it all up by having to sit in an office all day.  Trying to convince myself that my laryngitis will be bad enough to be sent home but I don't think it will happen.  Also trying to convince myself that it is an excuse to cancel the dentist appointment on Friday but I'm not sure about that either.  
Looking forward to going to the Eclectic Keepsakes crop on Saturday and already wondering what the cupcake flavour for January will be...  There's no guest class this month so I'm planning to work on my 4x6 Photo Love for December which will mean that the whole project is finished.  I have REALLY enjoyed this project and am sad that it has come to an end, but am guessing that Shimelle will have something else to take its place in 2012.  

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Just a thought

source Google images

Monday 2 January 2012

Empty nest syndrome

That could refer to me having both children grown up now but it actually refers to the tiniest bird nest I have ever seen that has suddenly been revealed in the tree in our front garden.
It's been hidden behind the last few leaves but this morning when I pulled up the blinds, I could see this little nest, no more than a few inches tall right in the top branch.  It must either have been built and used by a tiny bird like a wren or something or a bird started to build it and changed it's mind.  Maybe when it was half built, it's partner came along to see how it was getting on and said 'That won't be big enough - good grief, go and find somewhere better for us to bring up our family.'  The tree is covered in little white berries which are disappearing daily as the local birds come and stock up for Winter, won't belong until every branch is bare and that poor little nest is the only thing left on it.

In addition to the two classes I've signed up for this year, I've also joined in the 365+1 challenge over at 365 photos that Sian (From High in the Sky) mentioned a little while back.  It's only day two but I am already still up to date {ask me again on day 366}.  I'm not going to post my pictures on a daily basis but will make a little collection of them once a week, maybe on a Friday.  I like the idea of being given a word and having to think of something to photograph to go with it.  

So the first week of 2012 is not going as well as I would have hoped:  Not only do I have a sore throat and ominous pain in one ear, but I am back to work on Thursday and I have to work from 8.30am - 10pm as it is Senior Presentation Evening and not only that but on Friday I have to have a half hour dentist appointment to make a proper repair to the tooth I broke just before Christmas.  So if you are listening, 2012, please try a little bit harder to bring me good things, you're not doing awfully well at the moment! 

Sunday 1 January 2012

Storytelling Sunday A Fishy Tale

This will have been the first year for ages that we haven't done anything on New Year's Eve.  We used to celebrate lots when we were first married, then the children came along and it was an effort to stay awake up until midnight let alone go out partying.  But then when they were school age we made a group of friends who became our close social circle.  First the mums befriended each other in the school playground while waiting to pick up the children at the end of the day, then our children became friends, then we introduced the husbands to one another and we just all gelled.  We hosted Murder Mystery parties, summer barbecues, went away on holiday together and always, always celebrated New Year, taking it in turns to be the venue.  Adults downstairs, kids running amok and playing together upstairs, no babysitters required!  Then one year we decided to ring the changes and ask grandparents to have the children to stay overnight and we went to a hotel for a New Year Dinner and staying there until the next day.
It had gone well past midnight, we were all slightly merry, not to mention tired and we moved from disco floor to the hotel reception to chat.  Somehow or the other the conversation turned to bodily scars.  I know, weird!  My husband's scarred knee from where he had got gravel in it in a childhood bike related incident started the ball rolling.  I countered that with a not very neatly sewn appendix scar (don't worry, I didn't reveal it to all, they had to use their imagination), someone else had a shoulder scar following an op to fix a dislocated shoulder and so on and so on.  Some random guy walked past and happened to pick up on the conversation and asked if he could join in.  Of course - sit down, show us what you have to share.  At which point he lifted up the leg of his trousers, detached a prosthetic part of his calf and showed us where he had been bitten by a shark whilst scuba diving.  

That lumpy bumpy knee and unattractive appendix didn't seem so ugly after all! What's the weirdest conversation you have overheard?