Sunday 30 June 2013

My Month in Numbers - June

Any excuse to share one of my most favourite and most summery sing a long in the car songs - oh how I love this track from Jamiroquai - 7 Days in Sunny June

What a great way to start this round up of what the month held for me - although I have to warn you, I will now be singing through the whole of the post.  Don't say you weren't warned. What's that - you want to join in?  Brilliant, let's play the video all over again ... Wait a moment though, Come on JK what do you mean 'Seven days in sunny June' we haven't had seven days of sunshine this month!
But what have we had - 
We had 70 million 500 and 27 wasps swarm around the windows of our office at school.  Give or take a wasp here and there.  You see I'm not a huge wasp lover so when I heard my colleague shout out 'Oh my goodness, shut the windows NOW, just look at all those wasps',  I was out my seat faster than ever seen before. If there had been a competition between me, Usain Bolt and Mo Farrah in jumping out of your seat and running to the furthest point of the office, I would have won, no question.  There's something intimidating about looking out of a window and seeing a swarm of wasps outside with them flying into the glass.  And me wondering if they all surged forward at exactly the same instant, would the 103 year old wooden window frame be able to hold them back? Last year we had a swarm of bees and that was quite different - that was like a black cloud of bees heading towards the building but they swooped upwards at the last minute and flew over the roof.  These nasty, vicious wasps wanted to be indoors, they were flying into the windows, they wanted to be stinging any secretary they could find.  And I'm only little, they'd pick the weakest one off first wouldn't they?  Neurotic?  Moi?
Phew, let's think of something a bit nicer
1 Good Samaritan act - when taking my trolley back to the trolley park in the car park I found a ladies handbag hanging from the handle of the trolley in front of mine.  It's owner was nowhere to be seen and I was at that dilemma point, do I look inside for clues to the owner?  This appealed to the 'Miss Marple' in me but a quick look was no good, there was no phone in there for me to call someone in their address book and say 'Hey, when you see xxxx can you tell her that I've handed her bag into Sainsburys.' So I just had to hand it in and hope that the owner retraced their steps to the last place they used it and was reunited.
1 friend with a birthday.  Another 55 candles bite the dust.  (memo to self, find more younger friends, their ages are wreaking havoc with my month in numbers totals and in danger of causing a wax candle shortage)
Husband away for 6 days cycling trip along the Rhein. No one is admitting to the number of German beers consumed.  
3 meals out with friends. And 2 of those were with people I hadn't actually seen in person for nearly 2 years.  Texting, emailing and phone calls are all very well, but there's something really nice about sitting down face to face with a nice meal and a bottle of wine.
1 dog grooming visit for the hairiest member of the family. 

1 crop. Where I ate 2 scrummy cupcakes and made 2 layouts.
15 photos found for Rinda's Scavenger Hunt. However, I've now exhausted all the ones I know that I can get relatively easily and we're down to the nitty gritty.  Why can you never find a dinosaur when you need one?
1 new drama series that I am loving.  Anyone else watching The Returned?  Oh wow, it's a bit spooky. And as it is in French with subtitles I like to count it as educational too. 
1 tv series that I was enjoying that has come to an end.  When my friend told me that I needed to start watching Nashville I was initially resistant. 
'I don't like Country and Western music. '
 'Have you ever actually listened to much country music?' 
 'No, but I don't like Dolly Parton.' 
 'It's not all like Dolly Parton.' 
'I don't like Johnny Cash' 
 'It's not at all like Johnny Cash.  Give it a chance.  Ignore the music, just watch it for the story line.' 
'OK but if it's all country music singing, I won't like it'    
 Well of course it wasn't all singing and shhhh don't tell her but I've actually downloaded 4 of the tracks from the soundtrack cd.  Turns out country music has changed a bit since I last listened to it.   And it finished on a real 'hold your breath' moment.  Please tell me there is a second series.
1 tv series that I should not watch whilst eating dinner.  Hannibal.  The casting for this is superb and of course we all knew from episode one that anyone whose name is Dr Lecter and who enjoys cooking with 'locally sourced and fresh ingredients' is someone to stay well away from.  Liver casserole with fava beans and a nice chianti anyone?  
So that was June - and the counting is all part of the series organised by the inspring Julie Kirk.  She of Push Up Bra blogging.  You know the one?  Has an etsy shop?  Manages to overhear weird and wonderful random conversations?  Have a click here and see what Month in Numbers is all about.  Better still, go back through your diary and see what the month held for you.  You may be surprised what you find in your vital statistics!

Saturday 29 June 2013

One month in

Well the great summertime Scavenger Hunt 2013 organised by Rinda is well underway! Today she has posted the first 'linky' for people to show their pictures.  Be sure to check it out on Rinda's blog.  And I have to say that at this moment in time I've been quite fortunate in finding a fair few of them.  However, we all know what that means in reality.  I've ticked off all the easily accessible ones and now am left with those that will either need a little bit of thinking outside the box or lucky finds.
I've put the ones I have found together as a set in Flickr.  You can find them here  and I've also made sure that when I have shown any of them in a blog post I have added a tag of  Scavenger Hunt 2013.
I think the one that made me smile the most at finding was my take on the Police car. 

One thing that I am enjoying this year and which is a sign of how times change in a short space of a year, is that people are adding photos via Instagram, the phone app that lets up upload pictures and link them with a hashtag.  It's a fun, instant way of seeing something and one of my favourite apps at the moment.  I also love the 'Beautiful Mess' app which lets you easily add text and graphics to pictures. 
This is such a fun project and I'm so pleased that it is becoming a popular annual event.  It must be hard for Rinda to know what to include.  Something that is 'easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy' in England may be as rare as hen's teeth in the US.  For example, one year the hunt included an outside washing line.  Something which almost every English household will have within 10 feet of their back door.  Yet apparently quite the rarity in the sunshine states of America.  Who knew?
But I think that the thing that has had us all in a quandary has been the picture in the clouds.  A brilliant, inspirational idea.  How we are all commenting on this one.  Either people have wall to wall blue sky (a la Arizona heat for Deb Turtle) {trying hard not to be too jealous of this dilemma} or we have wall to wall cloud cover with no blue bits in between to make a picture.  But when that cloud does break up, I reckon the streets of England are full of people walking around looking up at the sky and tripping over in the street trying to make out a shape in the clouds.  And how many of us have watched a shape forming, had an absolutely brilliant thought as to what it looks like and then by the time you scrabble around in your handbag, find your phone, put the phone into camera mode, point it at the sky and ... it's gone.  A sudden gust of wind has dispersed that beautifully formed picture of a horse/unicorn/teddy bear and it now just looks like - well, a cloud. 
One thing we must remember though is to always have your camera or phone to hand with batteries charged, you never know when a photo opportunity will present itself.  Take this morning, driving into town on the way to the supermarket.  Stuck in a queue of traffic, I saw three American wartime Jeeps parked outside the church.  With American servicemen in the driving seats and women dressed in authentic 1940s clothing and hairstyles.  Totally out of place - right?  A perfect scavenger photo - right? Let me tell you that shouting out, no don't move on, wait a minute I need to get a photo, where is my phone, why isn't it in the pocket I normally put it in, oh there it is, quick turn on the camera, does not work.  When the traffic lights turn green, the cars behind will not understand the whole 'need to get a scavenger hunt photo' concept.  And so another missed opportunity to chalk up to experience - but a lesson learnt.  Do not put phone in handbag while a passenger in a car.  You never know when you will need it! 

Thursday 27 June 2013

Let's sit and have a cup of tea

Oh my goodness, I'm running late - I'm so sorry!  I'm pleased we agreed to meet up in town at this tea shop as it meant I could just leave work and run down the hill to meet you.  It's a great little tea shop isn't it?  It's run by a girl who used to go to the school I work at.  Such a lovely, vintage feel to the place.  That lemon drizzle cake looks lovely, do you fancy a slice?

And as the tea arrives - I will cradle my cup in my hands and tell you how busy we are at work.  When you tell someone you work in a school, I guarantee that the first thing they will say is 'how lovely to get those long summer holidays'.  I will agree, but tell you that they come at a price.  You have to get 6 weeks worth of work done before you break up so that when you come in on the first Monday in September, you can hit the ground running.

I will explain that although I work part time, I am going to have to be working overtime hours in the next month.  One of the ladies I work with had an accident playing netball last week and we heard on Tuesday that she has actually ruptured her achilles tendon.  Ouch!  This is why I try to avoid exercise, it's not always good for your health.  Or maybe just a reminder that netball is left to the under 35s and you should never volunteer to join a Mums team!  Either way, it means it is all hands on deck as she is off work now for at least 6 weeks so realistically won't be back until after the summer holidays.  Poor thing, although we are joking about how convenient it is that this has happened just as Wimbledon begins, I think we all agree that enforced rest with your leg in plaster and your foot forced into a downward point is no laughing matter.

I'd show you a picture of Coco - looking beautiful after the dog groomer's visit yesterday
I do love the 'beautiful mess' photo app, have you got it?  Take a good look at that clean tidy dog, because she is a terror for running in the flower beds, getting mud and petals all over here, this time next week she'll be scruffy again.  Talking of Coco, I had better get back home and take her for her walk or she will be sulking in the kitchen.  She'll be pleased tomorrow as my husband will be back from his 6 days of cycling along the Rhein in Germany and she'll have company all day.  This means I can get around to that mini book that I was planning to make about his trip - I do hope he's got some good photos for me!

Thanks for joining me, and thanks to Abi for organising this meme.  See you again next month!

Sunday 23 June 2013

Scavenging via Instagram

What did we do before cameras had phones?  I think it's fair to say that I rarely venture out without my phone but frequently leave my camera behind.  Which is great because it means that I have been able to snap a few scavenger hunt photos that I would otherwise have missed.  I've been pretty lucky really and when least expecting it I have found

A tower.  Believe it or not, this building used to be my primary school! It was turned into a private home in the 1970s but had been a school up until then.  It dates back to 1850 apparently - I know for a fact that my grandmother, my mother and I all went there.  And now it's up for sale again.  When I looked at this website, I couldn't believe how it has changed since I sat there learning my 'times tables'. Anyhow, the square structure on the roof is definitely the picture I will be using for my 'Tower'.
A funny sign.  Looks as if however you are feeling, you need to pop into this cafe for a cup of coffee.
These candles look good enough to eat!  The Laura Ashely shop in town is closing down so of course I had to pop in for a last browse.
A cloud in the shape of something.  Boy am I struggling with this one!  And because I think you need quite some imagination to see what I am seeing, I've added a few pointers.  I think it looks like the profile of a face.  But now I'm wondering if it is more like a cow standing sideways.  I think I may be revisiting this one!
Now I know the prompt said police car or fire truck and this quite clearly doesn't come into either of those.  I saw it chained to a lamp post outside the supermarket on Friday and it made me smile.  Is this for chasing criminals who are not looking to get a quick get away?  I need to check to see the rights and wrongs of photographing police cars, I don't want to get taken away in the interests of my scavenging!
And finally, an animal in an aquarium.  Just look at this little cutie sunbathing under his heat lamp!  I say 'little cutie' but I'm not sure that I would want to actually reach in and give him a cuddle.  I prefer my pets with soft fluffy fur on!
So that is 15 done now and whilst part of me is standing back with a warm satisfied glow, I know that I am now left with a few that may cause a few issues. 

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Scavenger Hunt progress

Anyone fancy a trip down the local pub?  Any excuse to grab another photo for the scavenger hunt!
Does this look familiar to anyone?  This is the pub we went to when Deb, Carrie and Alison came over and it has been shut for about a month for renovations.  I went there last night with friends and it is totally re-vamped in there.  It looks the same from the outside but the inside has gone quite trendy.

I don't know if anyone else is doing the same as me for the hunt photos but I am taking anything I see that fits a category and then at the end of the hunt, if I have more than one photo for any one item, I shall choose my favourite.  Which is a roundabout way of saying that I don't really like my 'theatre' photo.
It is our local theatre and they have a wide variety of productions going on there.  It's where I went to see the Strictly Come Dancing show a few months ago.  I was chatting to someone at work and said I was going there to take a photo on my day off and the Head of Art overheard and assumed that I was going to look at the Art Exam exhibition the school has going on in one of the galleries.  She was so happy that I was going I didn't have the heart to tell her my real reason.  It's an unusual place in that there are the studios where shows are performed, there's art gallery space and there's also a local museum.  See, Cecil Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia in South Africa was born in my town and there is a museum wing dedicated to him there too.  It's not as attractive a building that I would have hoped to include! There was a poster advertising a skeleton of an archeological find in the foyer and I was grinning as I said to my husband "Look, I can tick off Dinosaur too" at which point he guided me away and said 'Deb, it's a horse'. 
And finally a picture of me with a crafting tool. I am excitedly starting my next quilt and it seemed an ideal picture to show the kind of crafts that I am enjoying at this point of the hunt.
I do have some instagram pictures that I've found too and need to find out how I can get them onto my blog, ideas anyone?

Saturday 15 June 2013

Simply a Moment in June

The wind is rustling through the trees and the sound it makes reminds me of a rough sea breaking on the coastline.  The clouds are getting darker and there is a chill in the air.  I walk along the gravel pathway, and I think about the footsteps of the people who have trodden the same path for more than a quarter of a century.  I turn left at the end of the path and continue through the churchyard.  As the path continues the grass becomes slightly longer and as I walk I notice gravestones of local families, parents and grandparents of friends I went to school with,until I reach my destination.

For this weekend marks two special dates for me, Sunday is not only Father's Day but would have been my mum's birthday too.  I set about tidying away the old flowers and cut the grass around the graveside. Replacing the flowers with two new posies. 
It would be very easy to dwell on my loss at times like this, but the wording on the plaque catches my eye.  It begins 'Treasured Memories' and that is what I try to do.  Celebrate the love and memories that I had and be thankful that I had them in my life for as long as I did.  I am totally on my own here, but if anyone were to walk past, they would see a woman talking to herself. I like to use this quiet time 'chatting' to Mum & Dad, telling them our news, asking them to watch over us and sharing any worries that I have.  There is an intense feeling of peace in this place and as I continue with my tidying, the sun breaks through the clouds and a shaft of sunlight falls upon the roses.  It's as if it were a sign that my words have been heard.  It is a simple moment of peace and I straighten up, say my last farewells, tell them I love them one more time and give silent thanks that I was blessed in having two such wonderful people in my life.
This post is written in conjunction with a series of posts by Alexa.  Time to share a simple moment in our busy lives.  Be sure to pop by there and see who else is joining in.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Lost in translation

A friend of mine posted this photo on Facebook today, and I shared it as I thought it would be great if you found it and used it for Rinda's scavenger picture for an unintentionally funny sign
It amused me because the red sign obviously refers to the fact that the road is under maintenance and the cats eyes have been taken out.  The fact that it's next to the sign for a vets made it funny.

However ... turns out that they don't have 'cats eyes' in their roads in America and some of my Facebook friends thought it was horrific!  Apparently George Bernard Shaw said that the USA and England were 'two nations divided by a common language' and I guess it's true. So for my American friends who think I have a cruel sense of humour here's the story of the Cat's Eye !

And I'm still on the hunt for my own funny sign.  I did drive out to a nearby village which is called 'Ugley' at the weekend as I know that there is a Women's Group there called the Ugley Women's Institute but it turns out they don't advertise themselves in any signage!

Monday 10 June 2013

Hello Monday

  • Hello to meeting up with a friend I haven't seen for far too long.  We only live about 10 miles from one another but it seems to take forever to find a date that we are both free.
  • Hello to waving off our daughter for a short trip to Spain.  If I say 'The Only Way is Marbs' - I think the UK bloggers who have heard of TOWIE will know where she is off to.  It's a friend's hen weekend and much planning has been going on.  Not to mention fake tans, fake nails and fake eyelashes! 
  • Hello to hopefully tracking down another Scavenger Hunt photo.  I had a successful weekend:
Coco is always up for a nap so that was an easy one.  I also have an alternative of this that I put on Instagram, I'm not sure which will make it to the final 'cut'!  Then on Saturday my husband and I were in the car and I had a sudden brainwave that there was an old windmill in one of the villages near us. It was built in 1787 so it's a wonder that there is anything left but it looks remarkably well preserved!  Then I was out on a dog walk and discovered that there were quite a few people out fishing - how very convenient.  But hard to take a decent photo on a phone camera with a dog pulling on the lead.
  • Hello to another busy week at work.  Trying to organise 160 five minute long meetings for the new girls joining us in September.  It's a logistical nightmare!
  • Hello to being able to finally share the news about my work colleague who has not only appointed an agent, but has signed publishing deals in the UK, Italy, Germany and Holland.  So exciting!  Her book will be out in print by November, needless to say there will be a book signing event in the office.

Saturday 8 June 2013

Scavenging again

I was so excited when Rinda announced the subjects for the Scavenger Hunt recently and mentally tried to think of places that I could find the things on the list - and there are only a few that made me think 'where on earth am I going to find THAT?'.  But as we all know, the most unlikely things can turn up when you least expect it so cameras at the ready girls!
So I thought I would share the first 3 that I have captured

 Stained glass.  This is the frame of a mirror that we bought on a weekend away to the beautiful seaside town of Southwold.  I love the colours in the different types of glass and it's one of my favourite decorations in the home.
 Oh yes, the outside bench was not a problem at all, and it gives me chance to show that quilt again!  (Thank you for your kind comments on it.  The fabrics came from Pelenna Patchworks and I was so impressed with their service and quality of fabric)
 Now for a civic building, I wasn't sure which to choose.  You see our town is a town of two halves.  It is a really historic town, so a lot of the buildings look like this - which is the registry office.  You register births, marriages and deaths here and if you want a civil service for your wedding, this is the place you come!
But there is also a modern side to the town, and these are the Council offices.  Now, which photo should I choose for the scavenger hunt?  Decisions, decisions!
Is anyone else likely to put any of their pictures on Instagram?  I noticed that Amy had an adorable picture of someone fishing there this morning with the hashtag #summerscavengerhunt2013.  Should we choose the same if we decide to show any photos that way? Or should we each choose our own # title so Amy can keep hers seperate for herself?  What are your ideas?

Wednesday 5 June 2013

New projects

I hadn't realised how much I missed sewing until I actually dusted down the sewing machine and ordered some fabric!  My husband has finally finished the shed / summerhouse project and the patio at the end of the garden is looking much better for it.  He painted up the old bench and it is quite a feature there now.  But we all know that wooden benches aren't the most comfortable seats in the world so what that bench was crying out for was ... a patchwork quilt.
I've been so admiring of the quilts that Abi makes and after watching her video on the evolution of a quilt I was inspired.  I found an amazing website selling 'Layer Cakes' of co-ordinating fabrics.  There was a set in hot pinks and blues and lime greens and turquoise and before you could say 'Paypal', I had sent off my order. 
Now I'm not saying that I was obsessed with getting this quilt made or that all housework got neglected and dinners were made with not much thought behind them.  All I'm saying is that two days later it was finished.

The reverse
The only other thing I would say is that this is not going to be the last quilt I make, I enjoyed doing it so much!

I also think that a photo of the quilt in situ on the bench outside is going to make it into my Scavenger hunt photos.


Tuesday 4 June 2013

Left to my own devices

I always arrive at the EK crop with more 'stuff' than I intend.  You see the first half of the day is where we do our own thing, and the second half is a taught class.  Every month I think to my self - this time I am going to travel light.  I will pick two photos max, get some ideas for a layout, gather the papers I need and a few embellishments, a sheet of alphas and my bag of essentials like glue, cutting board, paper cutter etc.  And every month I end up taking ALL my alphas, a big box of plain cardstock, a large variety of patterned papers and the last 20 photos I had printed.  I stumble through the door, overloaded and don't use half of what I've taken.  It's a bit like taking hand luggage only on a short flight.  Too much 'just in case' bits get thrown in at the last minute.

I knew that I wanted to use this photo of Coco sunbathing and that it fitted perfectly with the papers I recieved in the last Scrapagogo kit.  I love the peach/blue/grey combination.  We had moved all our conservatory furniture out into the garden on the day we had a new carpet fitted and Coco took up residence on the sofa in the sunshine.  What a princess that dog is. 

I also wanted to do a layout from when Rachel ran the 10k Race for Life.  The colours for this race are predominantly hot pink so that helped me decide on cardstock.  I'm trying to get out of the habit of always using a plain background sheet.  I also managed to use a button and a cut out of a bird on a branch that was part of my 'swap of small things' package.

Meanwhile, great excitement as Rinda announces this year's Scavenger Hunt! Pop on over there and join in, you won't regret it.

Monday 3 June 2013

The EK June crop

Saturday was the June crop at Eclectic Keepsakes and I was especially looking forward to it as I haven't done much scrapbooking lately.  My inner crafting goddess has been channelling her energies into sewing - but more of that another day.  So the sun is shining, I'm singing along to an old  Killers CD that I found in the door of the car as I drive along (I am word perfect on Mr Brightside) and of course there is one thing on my mind.  What cupcake flavours will there be today? Because Karen has inadvertently made life doubly difficult for herself by offering a choice of two cupcakes for each crop.  Which means that we all have to have one of each.  Of course we do.  This month Karen had made Guinness with vanilla butter cream and blueberry with rose water.  Both were delicious, in totally different ways the Guinness ones were amazingly rich and did not really taste of Guinness at all and the blueberry ones were light and delicate, a perfect alternative.
The class in the afternoon was taught by Denise and was very typical of the lovely pages that she designs.

It was a lovely, relaxing afternoon and the layout was very calming to make although it did reduce Ann to tears.  Not over the complexity of the layout but she had chosen a lovely photo of her with her nan and when she started writing the hidden jounalling on the little tag that sits beneath the photo it got all the emotions going.  I love the little wooden embellishments that Denise included and also the little 'dew drops' that were scattered on the page. 
Another lovely day, eating lovely cakes and making lovely pages.  Lovely.

Sunday 2 June 2013

Pick your precious

I was trying to figure out what to pick for my precious this month and then when I was writing the post for Cate's Baby Shower, I suddenly knew what to choose.  I'm sure everyone knows that this is part of the monthly project organised by Sian, but just in case - pop over here and see who else is taking part!

This is a silver locket that used to be in my mum's jewellery box.  I never saw her wear it, and there is no chain attached but it was something that I loved to look at when I was little and was allowed to rummage through her jewellery.

In it you will see a photo of little Deb and little Gillian.  There's also a lock of hair.   Now, I don't know whose hair it is or why there is only one person's curl but the detective in me has looked at the evidence and has come to the conclusion that it's my sister's.  You see my hair was as straight as the proverbial poker, hers had a slight curl at the ends.  At that age my hair was horrible  ginger and my sister's was brown and clearly mine isn't the sample found in the locket.  I wonder if somewhere along the line, my lock of hair got lost or if an inquisitive young girl may have removed the evidence of just how ginger she was.
You see my mum would always tell me that I had lovely coloured hair (well she would, wouldn't she? a) she was my mum and b) she had the same colour!  But I just wanted to be the same as everyone else.  I didn't want people commenting on how lovely it shone in the sunshine or how glossy it was.  I wanted to be mousey brown.  She told me that as years went by, it would change and darken and she was right.  By the time I was a teenager it was what you call auburn.  I still wanted to colour it.  But my mum told me (and I think she was stretching the truth somewhat) that ginger hair did not take hair dye well and it may end up orange.  Orange?!  I didn't want to risk that so I kept my auburn hair and as I matured I grew into liking being different to everyone else.  So what did mother nature do to get her own back on me for moaning about it for years on end?  Just as I grew proud of it, she started to turn some of those auburn hairs grey.  I shouldn't have complained should I?  Thank goodness for highlights!