Tuesday 31 December 2013

My month in numbers - December

So as December disappears over the horizon taking with it the whole of 2013, it's time for the last month in numbers as organised by Julie Kirk
I normally end with the communal count but as it's the end of the year, let's shake it up a bit and do it first. How many Christmas movies is too many Well, apart from watching Love Actually in the weekend before the big day - and let's face it that's almost compulsory in our house - I saw bits of many a Christmas film but no other whole films. This was due to the discovery of a new channel on the TV called Christmas 24. Non stop, back to back Christmas films. All manner of films, and whilst I didn't actually watch a whole one from start to finish but dipped in and out of various films, it did help get into the Christmas spirit while I was catching up on the ironing or wrapping presents. How many it too many?  Probably a late morning and whole afternoon of films you wouldn't otherwise have chosen to watch if you didn't have a basket full of ironing and a pile of presents to wrap.

How many Christmas events did you attend? - well apart from the actual Christmas Day and Boxing Day, I didn't actually go to many events. My husband's birthday is on the 12th so we had a big meal out with friends then, can I count that as a combined celebration? I did wear a dress with sparkles on it and there were lots of Christmas decorations in the restaurant.  Oh, and we did go to friends on Christmas Eve for wine and 'nibbles'. So I'm going to claim that too. But one of the more unusual events was watching the 6th Form Entertainment on the last day of term.  Historically, the Year 13s organise half hour's worth of sketches for the rest of the school to watch.  Typically they do sketches with them doing impressions of the teachers, and this year there was also a 'promotional video' for the school.  The last item is always musical.  Always something that has been a sensation during the year.  Every year they promise that a)it will be suitable for all age groups and b) the boys will not take their clothes off.  {That film 'The Full Monty' has a lot to answer for - that's all I'm saying.}  I kind of had a feeling that they may not have totally understood the rules when the first few bars of 'Blurred Lines' came over the amplifiers.  A girl, strutting her stuff in black and white  striped leggings and a black and white striped jacket took the part of the male singer and behind her were two rows of 17/18 year old boys dressed only in white t shirts and black rugby shorts. You can see where this is going can't you?  Oh yes, at the end we had her singing at the top of her voice and about 25 boys 'twerking' behind her.  Swiftly followed by 25 boys and one girl getting a telling off in the head's office. 

So what can we count for the last month? We could count the number of chocolates I've eaten but it's going to be too embarrassing so we'll pass over that.  Number of sausage rolls? Now you're just trying to make me feel ashamed.  
For those who enjoy a good pattern in dates, my nephew's son was 10 on 11.12.13.  That's a good one to record isn't it? We had five birthday celebrations. Including one on Christmas Day. 232 candles. 
My son drove 375 miles to come home for Christmas and he's just driven 375 miles back. One half of that sentence makes me happy and the other half makes me sad.  Thankfully we have the annual Keyworth Christmas photo to record the visit. 
So that is it for the last month of 2013.  I only joined into this project mid year so I am looking forward to completing the whole 12 month set in 2014. 
Farewell to December and Happy New Year to all!  

Sunday 29 December 2013

The inbetween time

So it's been kind of busy since I last blogged. There's been much eating and drinking and socialising. We managed to get group shot of the whole of my side of the family
It's been a while since we took a photo of us all together and I think this could be the picture that gets me back into Scrapbooking mode.
It's been so long since I blogged, I have had time to grow some facial hair 

We had a fake New Year last night. Friends of ours who moved to Belgium were visiting locally and the friends they were staying with hosted a Mexican themed evening, complete with moustaches and red flowers for your hair. Oh, and margaritas of course! 
So I've noticed people mentioning intentions to join in projects. Project Life, One little word etc and part of me wants to join in, yet part of me thinks I would fall by the wayside as the weeks progressed. I am keen to make a commitment to something, but what to chose?
In the meantime, I've ordered a jelly roll of fabric to start my next quilting project. Never made a jelly roll quilt before and I can't wait for it to arrive so I can start. Time I turned that dining room back into my crafting space ;-)
So hands up, who's intending to join in a weekly/monthly project? And if you are, tell me what it is so that I might put it on my list of possibles to join in too! 

Sunday 15 December 2013

Simply a Moment in December

The table is strewn with triangles of fabric; a magazine is open at the 'Quilt block of the Month' page. I am close to finishing it, and have learnt several new techniques. I have enjoyed an hour or so of quiet concentration. On the arm of the armchair in the lounge, my iPad springs into life.  Surprised, I rush to see what it is. In total surprise I see that it is a FaceTime call from our daughter.  A rush of love flows through me as I see her face glowing in the freezing temperatures of New York.  I can see the skyscrapers behind her as she explains they are at the top of the Rockefeller Centre.  She says she is sending me photos that they took this morning, during a horse drawn tour of Central Park. 
I can see the pure joy in her face and hear it in her voice.  This is her dream, to visit New York in the snow.  Years of watching Christmas films have sparked this desire, the atmosphere of a winter wonderland. And now she is there, living her dream.  It reminds me of the song "you've got to have a dream, if you don't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?"
The dog, upon hearing her voice and seeing her face, is totally bemused, running to the front door, whimpering and barking.  She misses her 'mum'. We finish the call and go into the kitchen to find a treat to calm her down. 

Simply a Moment is organised by Alexa, pop over to her blog to share more moments this month. 

Friday 13 December 2013

It's a cracker!

What did Father Christmas say to Mother Christmas when she asked him what the weather forecast was? "Looks like rain, dear (reindeer)". 

I think it was last year that my daughter was invited to a party where the dress code was Christmas Jumpers.  Now, we don't really have too many novelty jumpers in our house and she didn't want to go out and spend money on something sh'd only wear once. So she presented me with an old red jumper that she already had and a pair of novelty mittens, and asked if I could turn them into something suitable.  The rest, as they say, is history.  
Today, our school was participating in Save the Children's Christmas Jumper Day and we all had to wear something appropriate.  So guess what was pulled out of the deep, dark, recesses of the wardrobe? 
Yes the clock is ticking towards end of term, tree  is up in reception 
And novelty singing penguins are in the staff room
Sixth form pantomime was this week with rehearsals going on in the hall next to the secretaries office and we all found ourselves humming along to Madness's "welcome to the house of fun" and Shania Twain's "man, I feel like a woman". Both of which get pretty annoying after two solid hours. I'm not sure how they were woven into the story of Cinderella but rumour has it that the performance was hilarious.
Today was the Christmas Fair and when we go back on Monday, we'll be into the final five days. Meanwhile, back at home, cards are written and almost all presents bought. As I have 14 people here to eat on Boxing Day, I probably ought to be making lists of food and drink. I feel too calm, too organised. There's something I've forgotten for sure. But until I remember what it is, I'm going to kid myself into believing that I've no need to panic.  I wonder what it is I've forgotten?  

Wednesday 4 December 2013


Why ... were there only two other people in the post office this morning?  Normally that place is heaving and in the lead up to last posting date I was expecting queues out the door. 
Why ... so some people decide to stop either right at the top or right at the bottom of an escalator?  This is a disaster waiting to happen if I am the person behind them and not able to stop myself from walking into them!
Why ... do traffic lights stay on red for so much longer when you are in a hurry to get somewhere?
Why ... did my daughter send me a link to a grey coat she wanted for Christmas when she really wanted it in black?
Why ... did she remember to tell me this 5 minutes after I finished buying the grey one online?
Why ... do days off go so much quicker than days at work?
Why ... does the dog think that after I have told her 'no she cannot have any of my sandwich' whilst sitting on my left side, I am likely to say 'yes' if she moves to the right?
And lastly
Why ... is there so little fudge left in the tin after my baking session at the weekend?

Sunday 1 December 2013

The last precious

Can you believe that we have had a whole year of sharing our precious things with the monthly meme organised by Sian?  I'm kind of sad and hoping that she has something else in store for us next year - otherwise what will we all do on the first Sunday of the month?
۞ ۞ ۞
When the children were little I bought two little sacks for them to leave by their bed for Santa to fill with little bits and pieces. Their main presents would be waiting downstairs by the tree - he could only bring so much up the stairs!
Thank you Blogger for turning my photo on its side :-s

As the years went by, a kind of tradition evolved.  They would always have a bag of chocolate coins, a Lindt chocolate Father Christmas, some new pyjamas, undies and socks, a book and a couple of other little things.  I did not realise at the time that I was starting a tradition.  Who could have guessed that at age 27 and 23 they would still expect, no - make that 'insist', the little plastic sacks to appear each year. Only now the 'little' bits I put in there cost an awful lot more than they did 20 years ago.  Pyjamas for toddlers are a lot cheaper than those for grown ups!  Those stockings get more expensive every year.  But I am not quite sure who gets the most enjoyment of it - them or me, as I do enjoy a bit of a challenge to make sure they get almost exactly the same things.  It's a lot easier to get stocking fillers for girls.  Nail varnish, eye shadow, bubble bath.  Hard to find the male equivalent! My favourite comparable item this year so far is a nail varnish called 'Red Hot Chili' for my daughter and a grow your own chili pepper kit for my son.  (He's a keen cook and enjoys trying to grow his own ingredients!)
So that's it - 12 Precious Posts written, 12 times I have been round the world in blogs seeing other people's stories.  Three years in total of storytelling on a Sunday.  Sending out a big thank you to Sian for hosting this monthly event and having the idea in the first place.  I'm going to miss this little project and am hoping that she has something else up her sleeve to take its place.  What have you got in store for us for 2014 Sian? 

Saturday 30 November 2013

My month In numbers

November has brought with it the annual family debate; what is the correct temperature for the central heating to be on?  My husband insists it is somewhere between 18 and 20.  Whenever I walk past the thermostat I turn it up to somewhere around 22.  He suggests that if I feel chilly, I should put on a cardigan.  I ignore this and turn the dial a notch.  My ideal temperature in numbers - 22.
50 years of Dr Who this month.  This is the programme I used to watch whilst hiding under the table when the daleks came on.  Oh come on, I was only young, they were very scary.  Even when they showed you how to make one on Blue Peter with egg boxes and tin foil, it didn't make me feel any better.  I remember going to see the film of Dr Who with my mum and desperately wanting a reversible anorak like the one worn by one of the characters. Can't remember anything about the film, but I do remember that anorak! Bearing in mind I was scared of the daleks when they were on a small tv screen, it was a bit of a risk taking me to see them larger than life on a cinema screen. I bet mum made us sit at the end of the row in case I needed to be taken out quickly if it got too terrifying!
Now, anyone that knows me well will know I am maths-phobic. Whoever invented the Excel computer programme is my friend for life as it does all the things my poor little brain can't. So please be impressed that my next number is a percentage.  50% of our family got new jobs this month. 50% of that 50% have already started theirs up in Edinburgh and the other 50% will be starting in the new year in London. That particular one has decided her current work wardrobe is unsuitable for her new role and will need to go shopping between now and then. Handy that the new job is in Oxford Street where the worlds largest Topshop is located eh?
I only went out for 1 meal this month and entertained at home once. I went to a wine tasting and tried 6 different wines. I 'accidentally' forgot that you aren't supposed to drink all the samples but spit them out.  2 friends had birthdays so 106 candles would have been lit.
Number of scrapbook pages made - zero. I feel sure that Karen will be turning up any moment to make me sit on the naughty step or sending me for therapy.  Actually, she is a lovely lady so she's more likely to turn up at my door with a plate of lemon meringue cupcakes and a sympathetic ear to try and work out how she can help me find my mojo.  But I've not been un-creative - I made 2 floor cushions, 1 quilt block for the friendship quilt and 2 samples. One of which does not stand up to close scrutiny.  I'm trying to persuade myself that it's imperfection adds to it's charm ...
 I also made some Christmas bunting with 9 pennants for my desk at work.  Now, I'm not normally one for personalising my work space and my wall has boring worky stuff on it. I did once smuggle a Brad Pitt calendar in but was asked to take it down as it was sending out the 'wrong message' to impressionable young girls. It wasn't just me, my friend's George Clooney one had to go too, not to mention the Johnny Depp edition. There was a lot of huffing and puffing that day, I can tell you.  I really don't think that a close up of Brad in the glory days of Thelma and Louise was going to seriously impact on our Year 10's.  For a start, in their eyes he's ancient! I digress.  Whilst chatting to our librarian she showed me a red snowflake she had made at a crotchet class. I mentioned shamelessly hinted how lovely a string of them would look on the partition between me and reception.  She gave me the snowflake and I pinned it up. Every time she walks past, she says she'll be bringing in more very soon.  I told her it would co ordinate beautifully with my decorations and she's promised to make me more.  So, in a moment of guilt at the thought of someone else spending time making something for my desk, I thought I ought to do something myself.  Ta Da .... 
(bunting on show at home before I take it into work on Monday)

However, I have a sneaky feeling that having introduced a little festive decoration into my work life for the first time ever, it is only a matter if time before tinsel, flashing lights and singing reindeers appear.  
At work we spent 30 mins re-learning the proper use of semi-colons. Honestly, just because we work in a school they are so pernickety about us using proper grammar and punctuation.  I mean, everyone knows the most important way to use one is to make a winky smiley face ;-) English is a really difficult language isn't it? Full of rules, and just when you learn the rules you learn the times that you can break the rules. Anyhow, needless to say we are now throwing semi colons into everything we do; it's become a bit of a contest to see who can get the most in. We're sending quite lengthy emails, just to make our sentences longer to get an extra one in.  Which goes to prove that if you work around children long enough, you will eventually revert to being one! 
Now for the communal count ... Drum roll please ... Number of Christmas cards received - zero
Numer of items on a Christmas list -    (Now I have ' making a list, checking it twice' going round my head) 18 on my 'for other people' list and ummmm 2 on my 'for me list' I clearly need to give this a little more thought!

So that is my Month in Numbers which is linking up to Julie's blog, whose month included women with moustaches and men with sonic screwdrivers.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Let's sit and have a cup of ...

Come in, come in.  Let me take your coat, gloves, hat, scarf ... Let's have a nice hot drink to warm you up.  I've got the gluwein mugs out that we got in Cologne a few years ago when we went to visit the Christmas markets, what shall we have in them? Traditional mulled wine or a cup of tea or coffee - you choose!

I'll be asking you if you've started your Christmas shopping yet, and telling you how I have begun to gather a few bits together.  I printed off address labels for my cards last night and plan to write a few each evening rather than trying to write 40 in one sitting!  That makes it more of a chore than a pleasure.  It may also mean that my handwriting is not illegible by the time I get to the XYZ in the address book!
If you noticed the 'Congratulations' card on the side, I'd tell you how my daughter has just got herself a new job.  Starting in the new year; she's very excited.  She's not the only one changing jobs though,  my son has just started a new job up in Edinburgh.  Seems that it is the norm to not stay in the same job for years on end nowadays.
I'm sure we will start to chat about a theme that has been cropping up a lot in blog posts over the last week or so.  The ups and downs of blogging and crafting.  The feeling of obligation taking over from keeping up with everyone else.  I love reading blogs and I love seeing what people are doing/making/seeing.  Sometimes I check blogs quietly on my phone in my lunch hour - make a mental note to leave a comment when I get home and have more time, and then that thought disappears like a plume of smoke.   So please don't think badly of me if you don't see a comment.  If you're in my favourites then I've definitely visited!  As for what we are all crafting, I guess it's like all things, times change, fashions change, something new comes along.  I remember chatting to my friend in Florida about scrapbooking when I was a newly converted scrapbooker. 'That used to be popular round here' she said,' but not so much now.'  At the time I was amazed, how could something so popular fade away?  But now, for me, I see it.  I still love seeing what other people have done but for me, with half an hour to spare I'm more likely to set the sewing machine up than pull out a box of papers. I knew that Project Life would never be for me because after the initial super keen, filling each pocket of the page weeks, there would be a time when I was scratching around trying to desperately find something to put in for that week.  Trouble is that my life has weeks where we don't really go anywhere amazing or do anything terrific or indeed take many photos and whilst some people are brilliant at making a page out of the ordinary, I know that I am not and that would stall me completely. 
I just know that I love the blogging community, I love my blog friends and would hate it if those people whose lives have crossed mine via blogs just stopped blogging.  So don't stop - OK?!  We all seem to have found each other via Shimelle classes - maybe we all need to find something new to kickstart us into a renewed va-va-voom for blogging! 
So much to discuss but I know that Abi is waiting for you - after all it is she who introduced this meme so I feel guilty about keeping you so long.  Come back soon - no doubt there'll be Christmas Cake to finish up!

Sunday 24 November 2013

5 things to think about at midnight

Once again, I'm borrowing one of Sian's ideas from Blog cos you want to club.
Midnight.  It's a multi faceted time isn't it? It can be a glance at your watch while you are at a friend's house which makes you suddenly say: "oh my goodness, look at the time!" Because you've eaten dinner and opened another bottle of wine and are enjoying good conversation in good company and the time has just flown.
Or to can be a quick look at the clock on the bedside table in the dark of the night. With the thought "oh, look at the time, and I'm still awake" and a million things going round in your brain.
So here we go, 5 things to think about at midnight.
1. It's the first seconds of the new year. Big Ben is chiming, streamers are in the air, people are linking arms to sing Auld Lang Syne, you turn to the person next to you and wish them "happy New Year!" In amongst that moment, I think we are all thinking "what will this new year bring?". There have been midnights like that where I have thought "thank goodness that year is over; that was a tough year. Let's hope this one is better." But thankfully those are outnumbered by those where I have silently given thanks for a year of love and health and friendship, and here's to more of the same.
2. It's the first few seconds of Christmas Day, and I have been known to lie in bed trying to recalculate exactly what time I need to get up in order to start cooking the turkey.  What time to par boil the potatoes and when to put the pudding on to steam.  Also hoping that the oven will be large enough for it to fit in bearing in mind we have 14 people for lunch.
3. Midnight - when your 17 year old child has just passed their driving test and gone out to friends in the car on their own for the first time.  They promised to be home by 12 and although you went to bed at the normal time there is no way you can sleep before you know they are back safely.  Thoughts of 'where are they?' And 'I'd love to ring them to see where they are but can't as they are driving' going round and round in your head.  Then the flash of headlights through the blinds as a car pulls onto the drive.  A slam of a car door, keys in the front door and a sigh of relief.  They've made it home safely.
4. Midnight - the day you are going on holiday. The flight is at 6:00 am, you need to check in at 4:00 am. Taxi is booked for 3:30 am. You've both set your alarm clocks and both set the alarms on your phones. Yet you are still lying there worrying about oversleeping and missing the flight.  No wonder I always sleep so well the first night of my holiday; I've barely slept a wink the night before!
5. Midnight - You went to bed at 10.30; you read for a while and turned out the light. You fell into a deep sleep. You wake up and it's still dark. Convinced it must be about 6am you look at the clock. Midnight? It can't just be midnight, surely you've slept for hours? But now you're wide awake. And mentally thinking about shopping lists and things that need to be done next day at work. Or re-running a conversation you've had that's left you concerned, worried or confused.  Thinking about a tough decision you have to make; what are the consequences of various different scenarios?  Realising that you have to put these thoughts on the back burner as there is nothing you can do in the early hours of the morning and things will look different in the morning.  Listening to someone snoring none too quietly next to you and envying them their sleepiness.  Gently nudging them (and sometimes not too gently ...) to change position and stop the snoring so that both of you can get some well earned rest.
What things cross your mind at midnight?  Do you have any handy hints on how best to turn off those thoughts so that sleep can take over? 

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Always read the small print

It was all going according to plan.  Having been engrossed in the new Patchwork & Quilting magazine I was particularly interested in making the Block of the Month.  The idea would be that after a year I would have 12 issues of the magazine, a whole quilt's worth of blocks and learnt 12 new techniques.  Issue one went reasonably well
I liked the effect it made and learnt how to make "Flying Geese". By the eight one they were almost neat and they did all more or less fit together well.
Filled with confidence and enthusiasm, on Sunday I turned my attention to issue two. A paper pieced Origami style tile.  Sounded interesting and I'd never tried that technique before.  It was only the second issue, it surely would be getting more difficult in small increments each month, saving real challenges for the end of the project.   Issue two would only be slightly more difficult than issue one wouldn't it?  Right? Wrong.  Oh my goodness, it involved printing off patterns, holding the fabric on the reverse of the paper and sewing through the top, switching front to back.  Things did not go well.  My vision of a single bed quilt became scaled down to a cushion cover using only issue one's block.  You made this block in quarters and after two, I needed a break. A few days worth of break. I refused to let it beat me and I planned to spend my day off today trying to figure it out again.  Last night I took the magazine up it bed to read some of the articles I hadn't got round to reading before diving into the sewing part at the end.  And what did I see at the bottom of a page in small font?

More advanced quilters.  Advanced? Six months ago I wasn't even a beginner! No wonder I was finding it hard. But after my cooking club lesson this morning which included a glass of prosecco and grand marnier cocktail, and a half glass each of red and white wine to wash down the food I was ready to take on the world, starting one patchwork block at a time.  I got out my fabric and patterns, I re-read the instructions, focused my eyes on stitching straight along the lines and guess what? Ta da!!!!
Turns out all you need to become an advanced patchwork quilter is alcohol.  Secret's out.  What are you waiting for?  Cheers!  Bring on issue three

Sunday 17 November 2013

Simply a Moment in November

The dining room,quite frankly, looks a mess.  The table is strewn with bits of fabric, discarded patterns and colours in an untidy heap at one end.  A selection of squares and rectangles cut and waiting in piles at the other. A box of threads, an elderly pin cushion and a collection of scissors and rotary cutters surround my trusty Riccar sewing machine.  The ironing board is set up in the lounge; funny how I don't mind using it for sewing projects when I dislike using it for the weekly pile of clothes that need attention! 
The double doors to the longe are open and from my vantage point at the dining room table I can see the rugby on the tv.  Words of encouragement and 'advice' are being shouted from the husband resident sports advisor sitting in the armchair.  We are losing.  The All Blacks seem to have had more chances/luck.  Oblivious to the sporting action, the sleepy dog is dozing in her spot on the sofa.  
A new project is on the go.  A newly published quilting magazine has a section at the end which gives a Block of the Month.  If I buy it and follow it for a year I will end up with twelve 12" squares to put into a sampler quilt.  I have both of the magazines and no blocks made.  Today I intend to put that right and with no other plans for the afternoon, have sorted through fabric and made a start.  This will be a perfect project to compliment the Friendship Quilt organised by Fiona.  I have new fabrics for those squares, so plenty of off cuts for the magazine project.  
The magazine block is more intricate than I thought, it requires a lot of concentration.  But oh, there is 'Simply a Moment' of satisfaction when it all comes together.

Simply a Moment is a meme organised by Alexa - pop over there and see what others are up to this month. 

Friday 15 November 2013

Useful things

Sometimes I get a spooky feeling that someone is reading my mind.  Knowing what I'm thinking even though I've only just thought of it.  How I'm sitting on the sofa realising it's been a week since I last blogged but what have I got to share with my blog friends. Then I notice that Sian  has updated her blog and lo and behold - what to blog about when you've got nothing to blog about! That's more than a coincidence surely?
So now I'm sitting here mulling over what I can share under the heading of

5 Things it is useful to know.

Because we all know useful things, but there must be something obscure that could be shared

For instance.  you've got biro on a white apple laptop or washable wallpaper, or even a handbag.  How would you get it out? Nail varnish remover? No, it'll likely melt the plastic or take the colour out the wallpaper.  Washing liquid? No, won't touch it.  The answer my dear blog friends is a squirt of hairspray.  Unlikely I know but trust me, it works.  I have personal experience on all three counts.  Son's laptop, lounge wallpaper and daughter's Mulberry handbag.  All rescued.

It's also useful to know how to get the bathroom door unlocked from the outside if a) you have accidentally somehow locked it as you closed it whilst you were running a bath and went downstairs to answer a phone call and closed the door to stop the bath loving dog from going in or b) Grandma can't remember how the handle works.  Oh yes, a thin screwdriver (like the ones you get in Christmas crackers) poked into the hole in the handle works a treat. But only if you have the same design of handle that we do obviously!

In our house, it's useful to know that when the dog jumps on your lap, turns to face you, keeps standing on your knees, looking you in the eyes with an unblinking stare, she needs to go out into the garden for an (ahem) comfort break.  This is a very useful thing to know.

It's very useful to know that if you break an egg into a bowl and a bit of shell breaks off and floats around, if you lower a larger bit of shell in there, it will attract the small piece so you can get it out easily instead of chasing it around with a spoon.

It's also useful to know curry stains will come out of a pale shirt if you soak the affected part for a little while in a solution of a little bit of bleach in some hot water.  Neat bleach is a no-no even on white fabric it goes yellow but if you are careful, and keep an eye on things there will be no evidence of your husband's messy eating. 

So that's it.  One blog post written and now the whole of blog land knows that we are a family of messy eaters, careless cooks, who have leaky pens, a desperate dog who also loves a bubble bath and lock their elderly relatives in the bathroom.

Friday 8 November 2013

This week

This week:
  • I've got both patchwork floor cushions up to the hand finishing stage.
  • I discovered that just because a rotary cutter blade isn't sharp enough to cut fabric neatly doesn't mean it doesn't have the capacity to slice a chunk out of your thumb.
  • The dog has been a bit confused by the sounds of fireworks going on around the area.  I don't know how to break the news to her that a full on firework display and bonfire party is planned for tonight over at the cricket field practically next to our house.
  • I put a large amount of scrapbooking paper and card into a storage box and moved it into the utility room.  My husband expressed how happy he was that there was now a large tidy space in the spare bedroom until ...
  • I replaced the space made by the paper tidying with fabric and quilt wadding.
  • Whilst entering data for applicants to our school, I realised that some people don't appreciate that naming your child after your favourite Disney fairy isn't necessarily going to be a good idea by the time she is a teenager.  Especially if she does not turn out to be a delicate, pink loving, ballet dancing girl.
  • I was horrified to learn that the lady who takes the Fitsteps class was ill and her friend - a crazy Zumba fanatic - was taking the class. 
  • I was equally ecstatic when her audio equipment broke after the first routine and we all had to go home early (lucky escape, or what?!)
  • My friend's book was published - and on sale in bookshops worldwide.  So very excited for her - it really is proof that dreams do come true.
  • I bought some Christmas cards.  That's pretty early for me but why put it off when I knew I was going to be buying them anyway?
  • I finished off the quilt square to send to Alexa as part of the Friendship Quilt
It's been a busy old week, and I'm pleased I've finished work, it's now Friday afternoon and the weekend officially starts now!  Have a good weekend everyone!

Sunday 3 November 2013

Storytelling Sunday - November

In the middle of October I shared the story of how I became pen pals with my friend Cindy and this month my precious is a gift she sent me back in the 70s.  I was a keen sewer back then and Cindy sent me this pincushion.

She had picked it up at a craft fair and thought it was fun. I thought it was fun too and I've kept using it all these years. Her hair's a little greyer and thinner nowadays and she's a little faded and worn which just goes to prove that over time pincushions become much like their owners. (Or should that be 'owners become much like their pincushions')

Here she is, modelling the front of the patchwork floor cushion I'm making for my niece's son for Christmas.  I couldn't have done it without her! 

This post is written as part of Sian's Storytelling Sunday. We've only got a couple more chances to share our Precious items, so quickly - pop along to High in The Sky here to see what everyone is sharing this month.

Thursday 31 October 2013

My Month in Numbers - October

"October is crisp days and cool nights, a time to curl up around the dancing flames and sink into a good book."
John Sinor

I couldn't have put it better myself!  Hands up all those who are imagining being curled up in a comfy armchair with a warm blanket around you in your PJs and slippers.  Mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows on a table nearby, a roaring fire in the fireplace, curtains drawn and the muffled sound of the wind swirling round outside? 

Well don't get yourself too comfortable because we need to go out for a drive in my NEW CAR!!!!  Yes, I have a brand new bright red shiny Mini ONE.
I had my last mini for nearly 10 years, I loved it so much I didn't want to part with it but the time had come and now I have a new one to love. 
While we drive around I can tell you that this month we had 4 hours without power at work which resulted in an early end to the day for me at work. Of course I was devastated to have to be at home sewing instead of sitting at my desk,(fortunately my side of town got power back 2 hours before the school side)absoltuely devastated. 
We've only had one birthday this month so it was light on the candle front (no pun intended) 24
There was a storm in this area where they were predicting the end of the world ,doom gloom and terror, flash floods and hurricane winds. It was pretty windy for an hour or so and we had a bit of rain but nothing as dramatic as they said it would be. Although I hear via Facebook that some areas about half an hour away had 55 hours with no power.  My daughter was unable to get into London for work for 2 days due to problems on the train lines (this meant she had to work in the local branch office, which did not please her as all her work was sitting on a desk in London.) The reason for 2 full days of no trains? 240 trees blown onto the lines for the Greater Anglian region alone.   On dog walks we noticed 4 trees that had blown over on the pathways around where we live.

Talking of dogs, someone had a wonderful 2 hours in the mobile dog groomers van

At work I have entered the details of 340 girls who want to come to our school next year.  Sadly we only have 180 places so a lot of them will be disappointed. It also means that I have spent hours inputting 160 files of data for nothing.  Let's not dwell on that eh?
500mg per tablet of the antibiotics I was prescribed for sinusitis.  And if Denise is reading this, step away now, it's the antibiotic that you are REALLY allergic to! I'm pretty sure it won't get beyond the firewall of the computer, but we don't want to take any risks do we?

This Month in Numbers project is organized by Julie Kirk, who suggests a Communal Count each month, this month it was
Letters were thin on the ground this month, 27 were directly addressed to me. If we were including junk mail, it would have been higher. 
Now, as to numbers relating to weather, let's head over to the weather app to see what they predicted for us on the Day Of The Big Storm
98% chance of rain?  29mph winds?  Let's get back into that armchair with a good book and the hot chocolate.

See you in November!

Saturday 26 October 2013

Let's sit and have a cup of tea in October

I feel like this post should come with a health warning, don't come too close, I'm full of cold and sinusitis! A nice cup of tea will go down a treat though so come on in, sit down and let's pour a cup.
Did you remember to put the clocks back last night?  Back to Greenwich Meantime, Summer is most definitely over.
I'm about to have a week's half term holiday and it couldn't have come at a better time.  Apart from the fact that I'm feeling poorly, hopefully the antibiotics will kick in soon and I'll feel better.  The term at school ended in the most horrible way, with a memorial service for a Year 9 student of our who was killed whilst crossing the road a week ago.  The feeling of sadness and loss encompasses the whole school and it is heartbreaking to see the outpouring of grief from her young friends and classmates.
So how will I spend my week off - with weather forecasts for torrential rain, storms and gale force winds on Monday!  Well, I have a couple of new projects to start.  Fabric related!  My niece came over a little while ago and saw my quilts and suggested that for Christmas presents I could make her two children floor cushions with a patchwork cover.  I didn't need to be asked twice!  I sourced some floor cushion pads on the Internet and now they have arrived, the fun begins.  I had already ordered this fabric for Jacob's ...

and I just need to get a couple of other plainer fabrics to add to this little stash.  I think it's great fabric for a 2 year old boy!  So I shall be returning to the fabric shop I discovered last week to do a little retail therapy and get the fabrics for his sister's as well.  Then I think it's safe to say that the dining room will be turned into a sewing room for the rest of the week!
I have to make a bit of a confession.  My scrapbooking mojo has disappeared completely.  I don't know why - maybe I've run out of photographs that I want to use, but then again, there are many clever scrappers out there who manage to make beautiful pages with not a photo in sight!  Or maybe it's just that sewing has taken over a little and once I've done a bit more of that, I'll get back to may pages again.  Do you ever feel like that?  And if you do, how do you get back into it? 
I'll be telling you how much I am enjoying the Friendship Quilt project and how easy it would be for me to rush in and get all 12 squares done, right here, right now!  But I'm trying hard to pace myself and clever Fiona hasn't sent us all the addresses so I can't anyway.  Let's just say that I have been practicing with the next two.  I can't wait to see more of Abi's as they arrive.  Did you see the one Deb Turtle sent her of a tea cup with a little loopy handle?  So clever!  And I know that othere have made a start too as I've seen little hints here and there on blogs and instagram.
Well, I do hope I have not shared too many germs with you along with the cup of tea.  I see that my daughter is gathering her hairdressing equipment together which means that my long overdue hair cut is about to happen.  My hair hasn't been this long for years.  14".  But that's quite long enough, should I go for something a bit shorter again, keep it more or less as it is with just a trim?  Decisions, decisions.  You'll have to wait until next month to find out when we get together again!
This post is part of an idea put together by Abi over at Creating Paper Dreams - please pop over there and see who else is about to put the kettle on for you!

Saturday 19 October 2013

One picture - twenty words

A trip out in the new car ended in a surprise discovery. An Aladdins cave of beautiful fabrics. Patchwork paradise.

Friday 11 October 2013

Going Postal

Has anyone else noticed Julie Kirk going a bit 'postal' recently?  Lots of ideas for using postcards and stamps and anything post related really.  So I thought I would set you a puzzle.  How did a liking for Davy Jones and the TV show The Monkees lead to a 45 year old friendship with a person I've only met three times?
The story starts in 1968, with me at primary school and loving the music of The Monkees.  I loved the TV show so much that I joined their fan club.  I used to get newsletters every now and again and in one edition they were advertising a pen-pal service to link up fans in different countries.  Oh wow.  I knew I wanted to get involved.  I filled in my form.  'What state do you want your pen pal to come from?'  Well the one state I had heard of that sounded glamorous was California, so that was what I wrote.  However, when they wrote back, they said they didn't have anyone in California (what?  No Monkees fans in California - I can't believe it!) but they had someone in Chicago who matched my likes and dislikes.  And so I wrote a letter to a total stranger, explaining how I loved the Monkees, especially Davy Jones, I had a black poodle and I loved  writing stories.  I wrote it on a special air mail letter that was wafer thin paper with little flaps and a striped edge to it.  I took it to the post office and posted it off.
I probably drove the whole family mad wondering when a reply would come, wondering IF a reply would come and who would be reading my letter. A few weeks later I was so excited to see a letter on the side with my name written in an unknown handwriting style.  It had an unusual stamp on it and a return address in Chicago.  It was from a girl called Cindy (I'd never heard of anyone called Cindy before apart from my Sindy doll and it sounded so foreign and exotic).  She was sorry it had taken her a while to reply as she had had an accident and had to have her arm set in plaster so she couldn't write properly.  She had a dog too, and she was just a little bit older, but loved the Monkees.
And so began a long distance friendship.  We've grown up together, each of us got married, had children, gone through the ups and downs that life threw at us.  We went from writing letters, to sending cassette tapes, where we would talk on one side and record our favourite Top Ten music hits on the other.  Then emails and now Facebook messages.  We've met three times.  She came over when we were 20, then we met up when I went to Florida with my family in 1998 and she came over a couple of years ago on her way to join a cruise ship for a European cruise.  All thanks to a chance letter sent into a fan club magazine!
There's been a fair few stamps stuck on letters and postcards and so I hope that this will work in linking up with Julie's theme.  Looking at these stamps, I'm guessing it costs a lot more than 20c to get a letter sent Air Mail from the US to the UK nowadays! 

Thursday 10 October 2013

Power down

A strange thing happened at work today.  At about 11.30 we had a power cut.  It's not something that happens very often because not only are we a school but we are only about half a mile from the local hospital, so we're kind of on a protected circuit.  When the power hadn't come back 5 minutes later, the guys in the IT network office started to get a bit twitchy.  Because the backup computer generator only lasts 10 mins and they only had 5 minutes to close everything down safely or there would be mega problems with loss of data. 
After about half an hour, rumours started to fly.  Parents started coming into school.  They were 'just passing' and wondered if we would be closing early.  Because of course, our whole telephone system crashed and no one could ring up to check.
Delivery drivers came in with tales of the whole town being without power.  Shops closing as their electronic tills couldn't work.  Traffic lights being out of action, roads being gridlocked.  The train station couldn't sell tickets as they are all automated.  The mobile phone networks must have been deluged with extra demand as it was hard to get a signal.  The school manager managed to use the payphone and talk to National Grid.  It could be out for up to four hours.  The canteen manager came to ask how she was expected to cook dinners for over 1000 people. 
Soon the rumours were stating a 24 hour shut down and it was not only our town but 'the whole of the South East of England.'  I guess it's a form of 'Chinese whispers'!
Now it's fairly easy for a teacher to carry on as normal, although any interactive whiteboards etc. were useless, but imagine being a secretary.  How much work can you do with no electricity?  No computer so no typing, no letters, no labels. Can't get on the school's database so can't do any reports, can't add any admission applications, can't even track down students if their parent's turn up with a PE kit that got left at home as we can't check their timetables.  So we tidied.  We sorted paperwork.  We filed.  By lunchtime our desks were pristine.  Never has my desk been so tidy.  And at half past 2 I was sent home!!!  Even once power is resumed it takes an hour and a half to reboot the network which took us past my going home time. 
And the even better news?  When I got home, expecting defrosting freezers and warm fridge - the power had just come back on my side of town.  But it really makes you realize how dependent we are on electricity because whilst we were smugly saying how we could use our mobile phones, what would happen once the batteries ran down? Those of us who grew up in the late 70s reminisced about the way things were during the power cuts back then and how we all soldiered on. 
So whilst it was nice to have an early end to my day, I've got a heck of a lot of work left to get through tomorrow!

Monday 7 October 2013


I'm not sure that I've really got time to go to work at the moment, there's far too many interesting things going on.  I'm absolutely loving my quilting and so excited to be taking part in the Friendship Quilt organized by Fiona.  She sent us the information for the first month and I was fortunate enough to have the day off work on the 2nd of the month.  Abi had chosen the colours of 'neutral with a pop of colour' and I loved the excuse to go browsing for some new fabrics.  I know that Abi is currently at university in Durham where there is a beautiful cathedral and I also know that the church is a big part of Abi's life - so it was perfect for me to do a cathedral window pattern.  I made two squares, one with pink on taupe and one with taupe on pink then drove the family mad by asking which one they thought was best!  This was the one they chose:

So of course, I get to keep the alternative one ;-)
We've now got the colour schemes for everyone else so I know that my next one will be peach.  Which gave me the perfect excuse to go out shopping for more fabric, which was also the perfect excuse to go out in my new car!  I thought I loved my first mini but I really love my new one.

So, I'm jumping ahead of myself - Saturday was the EK crop and the class was taught by Ann Freeman who had designed two lovely layouts for us.  In the morning I 'did my own thing' (drank mugs of tea, ate cake and did a lot of chatting with Jane) and even managed to get a couple of scenic photos of Ibiza onto a layout. 

For the first of Ann's layouts I used a couple of pictures that we took when we went out for a meal after J's graduation.  Photos of him and his sister are rare now so it was lovely to get one of them together as well as one of him and his girlfriend.

Karen had cooked up a storm and provided us with scrummy cupcakes.
Clearly a scrapper needs to keep her sugar levels up to keep the creative energy flowing. 

karen's cakes 2

And so onto the next of Ann's layouts which I used as an opportunity to display a self timer picture of me and Paul.  We always do a self timer picture on hotel balconies when we are on holiday and it always involves about 20 pictures before we get one that we both like! 

I had my performance appraisal at work on Friday and my line manager said that no matter what was going on, and however busy we were, I was always cheerful and everyone always comments on what a positive attitude I have all the time. I think she was a little taken aback when I said that the reason for that was that I didn't work full time and that because I have Wednesdays off, I am never more than two days away from a day out of the office doing something I enjoy (ie not being at work!). I suggested that it might be nice if everyone only worked 2 days then 1 day off then 2 days and then a weekend, but she didn't seem to think the board of governors would agree to it!  Shall we take a vote?  Hands up who thinks that everyone should have an extra day off mid week.  Motion carried, see you all on Wednesday!

Sunday 6 October 2013

Storytelling Sunday - A Level Toys

Act One
Scene One

Three 16 year old friends are sitting around a table in the needlework classroom of a secondary school.  The teacher is telling them the items that they will need to make in the next two years in order to get their A Level: an outfit for themselves comprising of a jacket and at least one other item, an item of children's clothing incorporating hand embroidery and a soft toy. 

The girls search through a Simplicity sewing pattern book for inspiration.  The smallest of the group sees something that takes her eye.  Something that will fulfil the last criteria and give her the opportunity to customise it to show off an extra sewing skill.  In order to make life much more difficult for herself, she decides to make the base of the toy out of cordoroy which will prove very difficult to work with and cause endless frustration trying to line the fabric up with the pile going in the right direction and all stripes of the cord matching exactly.  She will also choose to do hand sewing to make the major part of the toy, trying a technique she has never used before.  Something that seemed a good idea at the time, but will untimately reduce her to tears as the teacher looks at it and says 'No, I can see your stitching.  Unpick it and start again.' 

After finishing the items and passing the exam, they will be packed up and put in the loft.  They will be transported during each future house move and each time she will be quizzed 'Are you sure you want to keep this?' and she will reply 'Yes, I spent HOURS making that, I'm never throwing it away'.  For it does not only represent an exam project, it reminds her of the hours spent in the company of good friends, chatting, laughing, sometimes crying, discussing hopes and dreams for the future.  It holds such memories of two years of growing up from a school girl to a young woman.  And one day, someone will encourage her to bring down that toy and share it as part of Storytelling Sunday.

Monday 30 September 2013

My Month in Numbers - September

Ba de ya - say do you remember
Ba de ya - dancing in September
Ba de ya - never was a cloudy day


Any other fans of Earth Wind and Fire out there? Ah, takes me back to my youth ...
This is yet another great sing-a-long in the car songs, volume up, singing at the top of your voice - no wonder no one ever takes me up on the offer of a lift home anymore.  Talking of cars and let's get the exciting bit out of the way early.  Number of new cars ordered.  ONE.  Excited?  Me?  Pah!  I can't stop smiling!  You see, I have a mini already and I love it.  I'm not one for fancy cars, and really couldn't care less about the gadgets and gizmos but I just love my mini.  It's easy and fun to drive and I love it.  I have loved it since the day I brought it home in 2004 but that's now nearly 10 years ago and I have to face facts that it is going to start costing me money as things wear out and so I have traded it in.  For a shiny red one.
So, let's think what else has been happening.  Three birthdays this month so 152 candles used up. 
Our wedding anniversary was this month.  33 years.  Oh my goodness, unless I was a child bride (I wasn't) that makes me officially very old.  How wedding dresses have changed since then.  1980 was the year of the crinoline style dress with hoops under the skirt which felt really weird to walk in but very elegant I guess. Bit of a challenge getting into a cubicle in the ladies loo at the reception but hey ho! 
I went to one crop this month.  I completed the album containing all 21 items in Rinda's Scavenger Hunt and partially made the mini album which was the class that Karen taught. 2 cup cakes found their way from the kitchen to my mouth.
3 meals out. Mexican, Mediterranean and Indian. Please don't make me count the number of glasses of wine consumed.  It was not a good month for healthy eating/drinking/living. 
1 visit to the vets for Coco's 2nd annual check up.
I finished my 4th quilt.  This could be becoming an obsession.  My husband is wondering when the dining room table will be available to use again as a dining room table and not a place where I do my sewing.
3 days that my son was home visiting.  Which made me very happy. Right up until we got to the point where he said 'well, I guess I ought to leave for the airport now.' When we had dropped him off at the departure, I'm not sure who was 'mithering' the most in the car.  Me or Coco.  Well actually it was Coco, who managed to howl from the airport to the motorway roundabout. I don't know where I picked up the word 'mither' because apparently it's a northern word and I'm definitely not a northerner.  As proved by the first item in the communal count.  (See how I seamlessly linked these two parts together?) 
How far do you live from the first school you attended? 7 miles .  I haven't moved much have I? Just over the county border between being an 'Essex girl' and the Hertfordshire County set. 
And, milk.  How many pints and how much does it cost. Well it's about £1.29 on average for a 4 pint bottle and 89p for a 2 pint.  I tend to buy a 4 pint container over the weekend and then top up with smaller ones during the week.  We got through 32 pints this month.  That's between 3 of us, although my daughter really only uses milk in coffee.  If we had done this when my son was still at home it would have been a lot, lot more!
This post is brought to you via Julie's blog where you will see that her month included cake, massages and potentially radio-active spiders.