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.

Friday 27 September 2013

Let's sit and have a cup of coffee

It's the 27th again and time to sit down, relax and have a well deserved cup of coffee.

Boy it's been busy at work, but I would explain how relieved I am to have an 'inset' day today and not  have to go into work. I would tell you how I have taken on some new jobs in the office, one of which is helping with admissions. It was our Open Evening last night and I suspect that when I go in on Monday it will be crazily busy. We're the only single-sex school in our area so we are greatly oversubscribed each year. 160 places and regularly over 300 applicants.
The cake I made for when Jon came home last weekend has long gone, but I've some rather nice biscuits here, please have a couple, I need to step away from their temptation. I'm still aching a little from the Fitsteps exercise class I took last night, but it is a fun way to keep fit.  It's designed by one of the Strictly Come Dancing professionals and I would ask if you were a fan of the programme. It starts this weekend and I can't wait!
Talking of TV I would ask if you were watching the Great British Bake Off. I love it but can't decide still who I want to win.
We would probably notice that Coco has made herself comfortable on the new quilt and I would tell you how excited I am to be part of Fiona's friendship quilt team. I can't wait to get started. Plus my niece has asked me to make her two children patchwork floor cushions for their Christmas presents. My sewing machine hasn't seen so much action in years!
Where has the time gone? It's been great to catch up with all the news and I guess that now you will be heading off to Abi's to see who else is joining in.
Thanks for visiting!

Monday 23 September 2013

Chevron quilt

It's finished! 
And while I will hastily try to draw your attention away from the imperfections that I know are there, I am really pleased with it.  They all add to the character of it!  But as I hand stitched the last bit of binding to the last edge I was left with one overwhelming feeling ...

... what can I do next?  I am super excited to be joining in with Fiona's Friendship Quilt and can't wait to get started on the first square.  Especially as someone had the brilliant idea of making two of each square, sending one on to its new owner and keeping one yourself to add to your own quilt.  I need to start looking around for some ideas and places to buy some new fabric.  Excuse me, I feel the need for some retail therapy.  I need to make an appointment with Mr Google and Sir YouTube ...

Saturday 21 September 2013

Scavenger Hunt - The Finale

When I found the last picture for Rinda's Scavenger Hunt, there was part of me that wanted to turn cartwheels and run up and down the street punching the air and shouting 'I've finished!' but there was also a part of me that wanted to mope around pouting and mumbling to anyone who cared to ask what was the matter that 'I've finished'.  Because I really enjoy this project.  I look forward to it starting and I love looking through the list knowing that some I can find relatively easily, some are further afield but I have a hunch that I may know where I'll find them and others are 'eureka' moments that you come across when you are least expecting to find something.
Last year I put all my pictures in a little album and I've done the same again this year. 

Cambridge Market/Globe Theatre London/Registry office Bishop's Stortford/ Aeroplane Stansted Airport

Sunset in Ibiza/Coco napping
Funny signs/Tower of London & Tower Bridge

Something out of place/outdoor bench/animal in an aquarium/cloud in the shape of something
Fence/Stained glass mosaic/police vehicle
windmill/candle/local pub/someone fishing
Dinosaur/me doing something creative

So there we are, all done and dusted!  Thank you so much for organising this Rinda, we've all had a fab time hunting these things out and I was so pleased to find all the items this year and not having to use one of the substitutes.  (Last year I was foiled by that pesky unicycle!)
Here's to Scavenger Hunt 2014 - only 9 months to go

Monday 16 September 2013

Simply a Moment in September

A different take on Simply A Moment, which is organised by Alexa,this month.  Over to the furriest member of the family:

I knew something was up when they woke me from my mid afternoon doze.  Have they never heard the expression 'Let sleeping dogs lie'?  I could tell from the excited tone of their voices that we were off on an adventure.  I ran up and down stairs while they muttered something about standing still or they would never get my harness on.  Harness?  Woo Hoo!  The harness means we're going in the car.  If it were just a walk it would be the lead.  I know it's hard to get the straps done up if I refuse to stand still but it's just too exciting to keep all four paws on the ground.  The door's open, I make my bid for freedom.  We're in the car - I'm in the back seat.  It's so unfair, I'm never allowed in the front seat and yet they head for the front every. single. time.  I did make it into the passenger seat of Nanny's mini once while she was folding down the front seat but I was quickly and if I may say, in an undignified manner, ejected and put in the back.
After a little while the car stops and my harness is unclipped from the seat belt holder.  I jump to the ground, give myself a shake and look around.  The Vets!  We're at the vets!  Happy Days!  I love it at the vets.  Come on, hurry up I need to get in there and soak up the admiration from the receptionist.  Honestly, these humans that own me can be very slow sometimes. 
I'm in.  The door's closed and yes, here comes the receptionist.  She's ever so pleased to see me.  I have a little preen.  Yes, I am gorgeous.  Yes, I've had a lovely haircut.  Yes, I am so sweet natured.  Yes, I'm here for my 2 year check up.  What?  Check up?  Does that mean they'll be doing unmentionable things to me to get my temperature?  Does this check up involve needles by any chance?  I look at my humans.  They didn't mention check ups.  They just said 'vets'.  I lose interest in the receptionist and investigate the waiting room.  Sniff all the bags of dog food, have a look at the dog toys on display.  Have a good look in one of those cat carry cases.  No cat in there though.  I love it when I come across one with a cat in it.  I can taunt them because they're in a cage and I'm not!  I can walk around and check things out, they're locked in.
Another person comes down the corridor.  She's wearing a medical coat.  She's got a stethoscope round her neck.  She looks like the lady that put that thermometer in my 'you know where' last time.  If she thinks she can get away with that one again, she's got another think coming. 
It's all going well, there's no temperature taking, a bit of lung and heart listening, she looks into my big brown eyes and my lovely sharp teeth and then out of nowhere comes a syringe.  What's she going to do with that? Ouch.  Excuse me lady but that was my neck you put that in. 
I'm down off the table now and the needle lady takes me off to be weighed.  I'm returned to Nanny who's been waiting for me in the surgery.  Apparently I've put on weight and am now at the optimum weight for my breed.  I have a horrible feeling that this may impact on the quantity of treats I'm allowed.
Simply a Moment - at the vets with Coco.

Sunday 15 September 2013

A week in the life

I've never taken part in a Week in the Life before and my brief experiment in the last 7 days has proved to me that I would be rubbish a doing Project Life. If I can't do a week properly, how would I do a year? I guess it's a matter of training yourself to take photos regularly of your day to day life but when you are doing something of your normal routine, you don't think to take a photo of it!
I'm beginning to sound like a student about to hand in some homework that she knows she should have worked harder on and is trying to think of a believable excuse.  Ahem, I left my Week in the Life on the bus?  The dog ate my Week in the Life?  I saved it on a memory stick and then I dropped the memory stick in a cup of tea?  OK, here goes:

It is very hard to close the kitchen door on Coco's sad little face when we leave for work in the morning and I am sure she spends her time alone plotting naughty things to do on our return.  On Monday she ran all over the sofa, threw the cushions on the floor and started biting one.  She's two.  She should have grown out of such things!  Spent my afternoon finishing off my mini book.
Coco sleeps in the kitchen overnight, but the minute we open that door in the mornings she is out of bed and up the stairs before you can say 'good morning'.  The temperatures had dropped overnight so, much to my husband's dismay, I put the heating on.  The school I work at is also the one that my daughter went to and there are some things in the school canteen that she remembers fondly so if I see them on the counter, I bring one home as a treat.  Vanilla cupcakes today with a mini marshmallow.
Wore a long sleeved sweater today for the first time in ages.  It was my day off so I went into town and tried to resist the pick n mix sweets.  By the time I saw them, I only had a few minutes left on my parking ticket so I didn't have time to indulge.  Wednesday evening out at Chimichanga restaurant with three friends.  My friend who is now officially an author brought us her one and only copy of her book that is now ready to go into proper publication.  Exciting times!  Sheila is about to start a new job at Cambridge University, plus it was Kim's birthday so we got a free bottle of wine to celebrate. 
I wore winter tights and closed in shoes for the first time this autumn on Thursday.  Coco was miffed that we were going out and leaving her home alone - again.  Chilly weather meant lovely comfort food for tea - cottage pie with runner beans from the garden.  I'd decided that it was time to get some exercise again, so I dusted the cobwebs off my trainers and headed to a Zumba class in the evening.  Only it wasn't Zumba, it was a new dance based class called Fitsteps!  Designed by two of the Strictly Come Dancing team.  Hard work but good fun.
Friday the 13th!  P went out to the shops and forgot his wallet so me and Coco had to go to the shops to take it to him.  He was supposed to be going to help me out and save me the time of having to go.  Turns out it took longer than it would have if I'd gone on my own in the first place ... Then home to ironing.  By 6pm after a busy week at work and doing my chores it was definitely 'wine o'clock'.

 I know that I'm not really in the age range that the marketing department at Ready Brek are aiming for but I do love it and it's the perfect breakfast for a chilly morning.  Then off to Waitrose to do the weekly shop.  The dog goes crazy when you walk in with 4 bags of shopping, the smell of food must be so tantalising for her.  So as soon as it was put away we took her out for a walk.  First time I've had to wear my wellies for a while!  P had been to pick some more blackberries and I froze 5 bags of them and cooked the last portion with some apple, ready to make a crumble on Sunday.  Phew - think I deserve a coffee by now.  A nice cup from the Nespresso machine, drunk while reading the magazine that comes with the Saturday newspaper.  We both fancied some Indian food for dinner but didn't feel like a take-away so we 'home cooked' one.  Using a jar of Rogan Josh sauce and some accompaniments from Waitrose.  Yum.
Remember those pesky butterflies?  They are still there, in fact there are a couple more every time I look.  I've suggested 'rounding them up' and putting them in P's new shed to shelter but he's having none of it.  Coffee in my favourite mug and a slice of M&S strawberry and vanilla Swiss roll.  2 for £2 - what a bargain and so delicious!  We were having pot roast beef for lunch and there was a nice variety of veggies to chop up to go in it.  When we are both busy and not taking any notice of Coco, she is prone to doing 'something' to get our attention.  Today she decided to empty all the blankets out of her bed and drag them into the dining room.  This afternoon, full of pot roast and blackberry and apple crumble with custard, we both sat in the lounge and read.  I finished The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton.  The first 'proper' book I've read in a long time (as opposed to kindle reading).  I loved it.  I really would recommend it. 

So that's my week.  If I did it again, I'd remember to take more photos each day and not just of food and drink! 

Thursday 12 September 2013

One photo - twenty words

Abi has challenged us to write a blog post with one photo and 20 words, see hers here

So, here we go
Mexican restaurant.  Celebrating with friends.  Seeing Dany's book in print, congratulating Sheila on her new job, happy birthday to Kim. 
Will you join the challenge too?

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Ibiza in a book

So I have kept my good intentions and finished (almost) the mini book project that Karen taught at the crop on Saturday.  The eagle eyed will notice the lack of Paul Hollywood - although I do still have another Paul in there on some pages

Look - I have a cover.  You can tell it's mine because the layout of the words is different to Karen's.  She kindly calls it 'freestyling' - I call it making a mistake and only realising once the glue has dried.
Inside cover and page one.  You can see that instead of the glamorous Gracia and the celebrity, mine has me and my husband.  And the other side is a photo of the hotel taken from the beach.  Such a pretty location.
Ibiza has a bit of a reputation for being a bit of a hippy hang out still and there are lots of 'Flower Power' themed places and posters about (It's also got a reputation for being clubbing capital of Europe - trust me, we were far, far away from that side of the island!)I digress, the local beer comes in the prettiest bottles, you can just see it in the photo, the glass is coated in a white covering with floral design all over it.  The other photo is sunrise over the bay (we got up early on our last day to catch it).
A photo of 'my' Paul looking over the balcony by reception, just before we headed down to the jetty to catch the water taxi/ferry that you see on the other side of the book.  The lighthouse is on the approach to Ibiza Town harbour.
I grabbed a photo of Paul taking a photo of an interesting bench in Ibiza Town.  It had a sculpture of a famous local priest and historian fixed onto it.  Other side is a self timer shot taken on our hotel balcony!
Back to Ibiza Town and a picture of me and Mick Jagger advertising Pacha nightclub (note the Flower Power symbols in the background!)  We had lunch in a little square at a place called Cafe Tomato and the food was fabulous.  I picked up one of their cards and you can see it sticking out of the pocket behind the photo.  The observant amongst you will see a pretty little circular red, white and gold embellishment.  That was one of the little crafty bits that Deb Turtle kindly shared from her Mum's collection. 
As I photographed this I realised that I have one more photo to add on the left hand page.  The last photo is taken from the walkway between the hotel and the beach, where we often saw baby geckos scampering around in the grasses.  To the right of the photo was the hotel a la carte restaurant where I had the most delicious freshly caught tuna cooked in a yogurt sauces.  Yummy!
So that's it.  My book is very nearly complete.  Project finished and Ibiza recorded nicely!
Now, back to my quilting ...


Sunday 8 September 2013

Back to school

Going back to work has seriously intruded into my blogging time.  We've only been back a week and already we are counting the days to half term!  I normally only work 22 hours a week over 2 full days and 2 half days but I have ended up working every day.  I'd only been back 2 days and I offered to come in and do overtime.  I think they may have put something in the coffee to brainwash us! 
First week back is always the same.  Talks from the Head welcoming everyone back, congratulations on exam results, trying to guess when Ofsted will visit (we are due an inspection), every job given to us secretaries is 'urgent', a fire drill and the inevitable girl who finds it hard to go from a small village primary school with about 100 pupils in total to a large secondary with over 1000 students.  On Wednesday a little face peeped over the counter of reception, bottom lip trembling, tears in the corners of her eyes. "Could you ring my Mum please?"  The receptionist asked why she wanted us to call.  "I don't like it here, I want to go home."  Whilst we all melted inside at her sad face, she was told to go back to class, we were sure that by break time she would have found a new friend to spend time with.  A message was sent to her Head of Year and Form Tutor to let them know that she was a bit 'wobbly' and that a little TLC and gentle friendship encouragement may be needed, but we haven't seen her since so we hope she has settled in a bit now.  One out of 160 new Year 7s isn't bad going I guess.
So, yesterday was the Eclectic Keepsakes crop for September and you may be wondering how many completed projects I came home with.  I mean, I was there about 5 hours so there must be something to show for my time.  Mustn't there? Um.  No.  I had planned to spend the morning of 'free time' to get all my scavenger hunt photos in their mini album.  But then I popped into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and saw these
Wow!  Raspberry cupcakes.  Clearly counting as one of my 5 a day fruit and veg portions.
So a cup of tea and a catch up with Denise, noticing that Eileen was back from Scotland for a visit (the lengths people will go to to come to an EK crop), chatting to Sandie about her recent blog post ...  Open my bags, get the album out along with the photos, start trimming and sticking and then Karen said 'Oh, look what I have got here'
  An airmail package with an Arizona post mark!  Addressed to Karen, Denise and Me.  Happy mail indeed!  A quick photo opportunity and then we eagerly ripped the package apart carefully opened it.  A note from Deb saying that she wished to share some craft goods that had belonged to her Mum.  How sweet is that?  No photo of that note as I think my eyes may have come over a bit blurry at that point.  So we emptied it out to share - goodness there were a lot of things there
We divided everything by three and each went back to our desks with the thoughts of how blogging and crafting has put us in touch with such kind, generous and lovely people.  Which also meant it was time for another cupcake to compose ourselves
How gorgeously pretty are these?  And you know one of the extra benefits of sitting next to Denise?  Chocolate gives her migraines so I 'had' to help her out with the chocolate seashell on top of hers ;-)
So by now it is nearly lunchtime and all I have to show for my morning is 2 empty cake cases, an empty mug, a lovely lot of new crafting embellishments and about 10 scavenger pictures in an album.
Karen had designed a beautiful mini book for us to make in the afternoon.  It really was a work of art and when I have finished it - it will look like this
Actually, mine's not far off that and I do have all my pages inside and I could lie and tell you that this was my finished book
But if you look closely you will see pictures of Karen's daughter meeting the Silver Fox of the Great British Bake Off - Paul Hollywood, and I'd have to admit that this was Karen's original that we were copying!  So imagine this one, without the TV celebrities, and all the little extra tags and inserts and that is what mine looks like.  Each page has a gap at either the top or the side to slide tags, journalling or extra photos into and mine is literally at the 'bare bones' stage.  Cover and insides intact and attached but waiting to have all the extra bits added.  (I hate half finished projects so promise you that I will have my version available very soon.)  (Sunday Lunch may be Sunday Dinner today!)
Back home for a quick shower and change of clothes as friends were coming to pick us up for early evening wine and tapas at a local restaurant.  Followed by watching the catch up version of Strictly Come Dancing.  Overall, a pretty good day!  Hope your weekend is shaping up nicely too! 

Sunday 1 September 2013

Pick your Precious - September

An army kit bag - crammed full of letters.  Letters that start like this

 {My loving angel Val Darling! Thank you darling a million times for another lovely, loving letter, received with much delight this morning}
and end like this
With every ounce of love I have
from your devoted, adoring, ever loving husband}
Every single letter that was exchanged between my Mum and Dad during the war.  The letters tell a story of a chance meeting when my Dad was moved from London and stopped off in Essex en route to his new barracks.  A romance conducted over long distance; infrequent meetings dependent on where he was stationed; planning a wedding for when he was back on leave; waiting for the war to end to take their proper honeymoon.  Plans, hopes and dreams. Long letters; you can see how the ink has weakened in colour between first and last page as his pen emptied. Handwritten and saved for posterity.
I haven't read too many as they are clearly personal and I don't want to intrude into that.   But every now and again I will pull one out and read a few lines.  Glimpses into a world so very different to ours nowadays.
In a strange coincidence, the letter I picked out for this project was postmarked Edinburgh 1944 - whoever would have guessed that my son would end up living in the city where the grandfather he never met, and who he is named after, was stationed for a while almost 70 years ago?

This post is part of Sian's Storytelling Sunday series.  Pop over there and see what other precious items are being shared this month.