Sunday 30 September 2012

My month in numbers

What's that?  September's nearly over?  It can't be.  Today?  The last day is today?  What?  So that means I can take part in My Month in Numbers.  I've never joined in this project before, but there's a first time for everything!  Julie Kirk gave me the idea here on her blog 

1 - farewell meal with Jon, 1 family gathering with Paul's cousins and 1 quiz night
2 - trips to the vet with Rachel's dog, 2 meals out with friends, 2 bottles of wine won in a raffle
3 - days in Peak District and 3 friends or relatives having birthdays
5 - times I didn’t win the lottery 
24 - the day Jon moved to Edinburgh
25 - pounds won on the premium bonds

32 - number of years wedding anniversary we celebrated
40 - the number of years I have known the ex school-friends I did the quiz night with
About 16 - the age me and the ex school-friends feel when we get together
50 - number of years wedding anniversary celebrations for Paul's cousin and husband
360 - the number of miles between us and Jon now he's moved to Scotland

Wednesday 26 September 2012

A tale of two cushions

or maybe I should have used the title 'How me and Coco fell out this morning'.

Today is my niece's birthday and despite buying her present about a month ago, I suddenly remembered I hadn't wrapped it up until late last night.  My niece is an extremely artistic girl.  Has a degree in Art from Winchester University.  Works as an interior designer.  Presents that she gives are wrapped beautifully, with coordinating ribbons, feathers, beads and bells.  Paper and labels carefully chosen.  Clearly a roll of cheap paper from the 'Open 24 hours Tesco' was not going to be suitable.  So what does a scrapper do in this kind of situation?  She Googles 'how to make a gift box' and comes up with this:
I've never had a go at making fancy boxes before but it was good fun and pretty easy.  All I needed was a 12 x 12 piece of cardstock.  That wasn't going to be a problem was it? :-)
Then I found a piece of patterned paper with cupcakes on it, cut one out, mounted it on a piece of white card, added a gem to the centre and we were good to go.  Much more fun than popping out to Tesco late at night in the rain too!
Anyhow, the story about me and Coco involves the cushion on which I photographed the box this morning.  It's a lovely cushion covered on one side with satin, and the other side with a beautiful long heather coloured fur.  I had photographed the present before taking it round to her house and left the cushion on the bed. So I'm on the phone in the study and I can hear madam prowling around in my bedroom.  It all went quiet and I stupidly assumed she had settled herself down for a mid morning nap.  As I was finishing my call, she poked her head round the study door.  Around her mouth and all over the hair on her chin was beautiful heather coloured fluff.  As I went to investigate further, I noticed she was chewing.  Chewing beautiful heather coloured fluff.  I fished that out of her mouth {yuk} and went into the bedroom.  The cushion is laying on the floor and my bed has a fine covering of heather fluff with a few large clumps by the pillows.  Fortunately she has thinned out the fluff evenly and it's not obvious that some areas have much less than others but needless to say she is not in my good books.
Does she look sorry to you?

Monday 24 September 2012

Hello Monday

Hello Monday - and today is the day that my son will be saying 'Hello Scotland'.  Cue sad motherly face.
Hello Monday - it's a short week at work as teachers have a CPD day on Friday and support staff (i.e. me) and students don't have to go in. Cue happy face.
Hello Monday - Our friends who moved to Belgium are visiting this area this week and I am out to dinner tonight with the wives from our old group of friends.  Ladies night at a lovely restaurant in town.  Tables of 4 ladies get two courses for £12.50 offer.  Cue happy purse!
Hello Monday - I've been suffering from a very painful back for the last few days.  I am hoping that this week will see the exercises working and being back to 'normal' again.  Cue crossed fingers.
Hello Monday - It's Open Evening at work on Thursday.  There's bound to be tons of extra 'urgent' work coming through the office.  Cue cross face.
Hello Monday - Coco's mum is back from her holiday and is around to resume early morning walkies.  Cue extra time in bed in the morning. 
Hello Monday - I see you've brought chillier weather along with you.  Guess that mean's it's officially Autumn.  Cue warmer clothes!

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Scavenger Hunt - the finale

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I've REALLY enjoyed Rinda's scavenger hunt!  To the extent that I was quite disappointed when I had snapped my last picture.  All I can say is - roll on next year!
This year I made a mini-album with my pictures and to display them all in one place I've created these two collages:

A huge thank you to Rinda  for organising this!

Monday 17 September 2012

Hello Monday

Hello Monday - I'm a little late this week, it's very nearly Tuesday!
Hello Monday - Once again our family is 'one in, one out'.  Daughter flies out to Spain tomorrow and as soon as she comes home, Son disappears off to the wilds of Scotland
Hello Monday - The end of this week sees the official end of Summer
Hello Monday - A few days left to tweak my post to celebrate Rinda's Scavenger Hunt photos
Hello Monday - Coco is not happy to see the suitcase out again, she's already got her 'Take me with you' face on.
Hello Monday - Celebrity Masterchef is nearing the end, and I still can't decide who I want to win.
Hello Monday - Today there were lots of changes at work.  I'm not sure I like all of them.

Sunday 16 September 2012

How do you say Goodbye in Flemish?*

We've got a little bit of Belgium going on here today.  It's the last Sunday that the four of us will be home together for lunch before our son moves up to Edinburgh.  We asked him where he wanted to go and he chose a relatively new restaurant which has opened in town, Le Belgique 
I love the logo, for some reason it tickles my funny bone, it's got a bit of the Inspector Poirot about it.
I'm trying to pretend to myself that him moving up to Scotland is a bit like when he went to university.  A temporary move and he'll be home for reading week and ends of semesters.  But it isn't.  We all know that whilst the location is only guaranteed for the two weeks of his girlfriend's Masters course, he isn't going to be moving back home again.  But that's right and how things should be and I know he's excited to be finally living with his girlfriend properly.  {And I've already checked the Easyjet website to find prices of flights at half term ;-)}
I think a few pages of photos of his experiences in Tanzania are in order!  I don't need to think about what I will be using for the next layouts I do. 
I can't remember the last time the four of us went out for a meal together, but I know for sure I'll be making the most of this one!  It's going to be a while before it happens again.

*Dag ziens

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Wednesday round up

That little Coco is fast becoming a cheeky little whatsit -it's my day off from work today and  I was 'busy' sorting out my scavenger pictures on the computer when I suddenly thought that it had gone quiet and that I wasn't aware of her prowling around.  Looked downstairs for her, but she was nowhere to be seen, so then I came back upstairs and opened the door to my bedroom,  just a little ...
She's brought one of her toys up with her (little white sheep at end of bed), rearranged the cushions and settled herself down for an afternoon nap!
I need to get myself organised to do a bit more scrapbooking but am busy following the decluttering routine.  I didn't have to bother with the time spent 'cleaning the ceiling fan', no need for those in deepest, darkest Hertfordshire!  
So as I had time to spare, I got into cooking mode down in the kitchen.  Currently roasting a joint of pork belly for tonight's tea whilst also cooking a beef casserole for reheating tomorrow.  But I've also started off a batch of raspberry gin which I've never made before.  We spent the afternoon at P's cousin's house on Sunday and his wife makes all manner of fruit based spirit drinks and having tried a few (hic!) I decided that raspberry gin was my favourite.  I normally make a batch of sloe gin ready for Christmas, but last year either it was a bad year for sloes or everyone else picked them before I went out.  So, before the shops could empty themselves of raspberries I decided to try something different.  Then my son asked if I could make a lemon cake - and as he's only got two weeks left at home, how could I say no?  Then I thought that maybe I could make some cupcakes for my daughter ...
Day off?  Feels like I've been pretty busy to me!   

Monday 10 September 2012

Hello Monday

Hello Monday - It's my first full week at work, please be gentle with me
Hello Monday - The house is still looking suspiciously tidy despite the Organised Housewife giving us the weekend off!
Hello Monday  - I'm not sure that I really like the upgraded Microsoft 2010 system we've now got at work, everything I could do quickly now takes twice as long
Hello Monday  - Coco seems to have finally finished coughing
Hello Monday  - I'm toying with the idea of joining in a new fitness class this week - having had the summer being exercise free, do you think I'm up to it? 
Hello Monday  - there seems to be a distinct Autumnal feel in the air despite the sunshine.  Has summer gone for good?
Hello Monday - I sampled someone's Raspberry Gin yesterday, I'm thinking that I need to make some for myself.
Hello Monday - I'm going to try and get out of my weekday meals boredom and do something a bit different at least once a week.  Today's recipe is baked marrow with a tomato and mince stuffing.  I'm also planning a vegetarian day once a week. 

Saturday 8 September 2012

Catching up

Amazing how a few days away can make it take a long time to get back in the old routine and catch up on what you've missed!  I've been updating my LNED printables:
Plus, I have caught up on the challenges and suggestions on the Organised Housewife 20 Days decluttering and tidying site.  My house has never looked so clean and tidy (in places).  I like the fact that we are only doing bits of a room each day as tackling the whole kitchen in one day would have put me off completely!  But I have to say that it is a really worthwhile project for me and I have already changed a few of my routines which are leading to a much simpler way of doing my housework.
Going back to work was hard.  Six weeks off sounds great but it's oh so hard to return after all that time and after a day, my head was reeling, my shoulders had that tense muscular ache in them, and my empty academic diary was starting to fill up.  Still, only six weeks until our half term week off .....
Enjoy the sunshine this weekend!

Thursday 6 September 2012

Fame at last

My husband and I just spent three days in the Peak District as a pre-anniversary treat and a last few days away before I had to go back to school today.  On the way we stopped off at a place that caught our eye on the map 
Seems like my husband's family originate from the Nottingham area!
We had a lovely break, lots of fresh air and sunshine and beautiful scenery.  I've missed catching up on everyone's blogs but am looking forward to seeing what you've all been up to while I've been away.  
First day back to school for me today, and after 6 weeks holiday, I can tell you that it comes very hard to be back in the office.  Plus we had a fire drill this afternoon, thank goodness it was dry, warm and sunny!  I'd like to share a poem that a friend of mine posted on Facebook:

Twas the night before school when all through the town, 
teachers were groaning, it was a disturbing sound. 
By 10 they were washed and tucked up in bed, 
where memories of children filled them with dread. 
New pencils, new folders, new registers too.
 New classes, new grey hairs, their anxieties grew. 
The parents just giggled when they learned of this fright,
 you've had 6 weeks off, they're all yours. Goodnight

Sunday 2 September 2012

Storytelling Sunday - It's contagious

It's storytelling Sunday over at Sian's again and she's suggested 'Too Cool for School' as a theme.  Well back in the 60s when I was at Primary School, I don't think that 'cool' had been invented! My story today relates to something that happened when I was about nine.
I loved school, couldn't wait to get there in the morning and volunteered for anything (my proudest moment was being noninated the person responsible for collecting the silver milk bottle tops off our playtime bottle of milk. My job was flattening them down to send off to Blue Peter as they were collecting them to raise money for a guide dog).  So it came as a bit of a surprise to my mum when one night I sobbed my way to bed saying that I was not going to go to school the next day.  I was tucked up in bed, given a glass of warm milk and gentle questioning as to what had happened.  I didn't want to talk about it.  I just wasn't going in the next day.  Or ever again really.  I finally fell asleep, woke up the next morning and agreed to get dressed but I was NOT going to school.  Had breakfast, brushed teeth, had my glorious ginger hair put into fashionable bunches above my ears, pretty ribbon tied round them,{the bunches, not my ears} cardigan put on and sensible Clarks sandals buckled up.  But I wasn't going to go to school.  Mum explained that I had to go and that whatever it was that had happened, could be sorted out.  A firm grasp of my wrist and I was propelled through the door and dragged reluctantly up the road.  Probably moaning all the way, it must have been a long journey for poor mum.
Arriving at the school, I held onto the gate and reminded mum that I wasn't going to go in.  Mrs Bishop (my teacher) came out to the playground to see what the fuss was about.  For a small girl, I had a remarkably loud cry!  Mrs Bishop and Mum unprised my fingers from the gate and took me into the school  where we all sat on chairs while they tried to figure out what the problem was.  Mrs Bishop could think of nothing that had happened the day before and nothing was worrying me about the work. 
After a while I had to admit to what the problem was.  I didn't want to catch a broken leg.  Well, I mean you wouldn't, would you?  A broken leg would have meant I couldn't go to the playground with my friend Nicky, I wouldn't be able to go on stage with the recorder group, and I certainly wouldn't be able to stand up for handbell practice.  What would I do at playtime if I couldn't hang upside down by my knees on the play equipment?  No, I absolutely did not want to catch a broken leg.
You see, back in the 60s, boys didn't wear long trousers until they went up to secondary school at age 11.  No matter what the weather was, they wore shorts.  With long socks in the winter and short ones in the summer.  So when the boy I sat next to in class fell off his bike and broke his leg, his plaster cast was not covered at all and I had convinced myself that if my skinny little bare leg touched against his plaster cast, then I would catch his broken leg.  I'm pretty sure I saw mum and Mrs Bishop share an amused grin as they assured me that it couldn't happen, but just to keep me happy, Mrs Bishop would suggest that he sat at a different desk on his own so that he could stretch his poor broken leg out.  Happy in the knowledge that my legs were safe, I skipped along to class. Giving Robert H a wide berth as I passed his desk - just in case! 

Saturday 1 September 2012

It's begun

Not only Shimelle's Learn Something New Every Day but my new regime.  Ahead of schedule I might add!  
But first, Shimelle asked us what our last big adventure was - well my interpretation of that question is this 
We had no idea how much having children was going to change our lives and what an amazing adventure it has been and continues to be.
Today I also learnt that provided I don't spend too long on de-cluttering, it's not the chore I make it out to be.  In our bedroom we have a bay window and the whole width of that window has a 9 drawer chest of drawers built into it.  As time has gone by, the top of the unit has become a 'his and hers' area.  His half has a photo frame on it and his wallet, and my half has had 3 jewellery boxes, various envelopes with scrapbooking embellishments in them, last year's diary {why?}, the instructions for my kindle, a pair of sunglasses, random old receipts, old birthday cards, a pile of safety pins etc etc.  Well, my mission for today was to combine the contents of the jewellery boxes and find new homes for the other rubbish items.  All was going well, I had been ruthless - and anything not worn in the last year or two had been put in a bin liner.  At this point I should stress that I love jewellery and never leave the house without earrings, ring and bracelet.  Much of my jewellery is costume jewellery which I mix and match with my 'good stuff'.  I had condensed things down amazingly.  And then I got to the stuff that held memories.  Things given to me by my mum, jewellery that I had for my 21st and 18th birthdays, and just cheap old things that I loved when I was growing up.  Macaroni necklaces that the kids made me in playschool, you know the kind of thing.  Time marched on.  Memories came flooding back.  Not much was getting thrown away.  So it was time to stop.  I had done well and that part of our bedroom now looks like this
 Of course I should have taken a before photo for you to fully appreciate how much stuff has been discarded but suffice it to say that I have to keep going in there to have a look at how tidy it looks in there.  I'm exhausted, must be time for lunch ...