Sunday 21 December 2014

Christmas Club

Good intentions.  They're great aren't they?  I'm going to do all my Christmas wrapping as soon as I get the presents home this year.  Didn't happen.  I'll empty the freezer in November so I can bake well in advance this year.  Didn't happen.  I'll get all my shopping done well before the week before Christmas this year.  Didn't happen.  I'm going to join in all of Sian's Christmas Club Sundays.  No, that didn't happen either.  Of course my default setting for when plans go wrong is naturally to blame it on the husband.  Especially if I can get away with him not knowing I'm blaming him for something I haven't done. So the reason I missed last week was his fault.  No, really, it was his fault.  After all, it was his birthday.  Tradition dictates that the Sunday closest to his birthday we have a mini Christmas with all the family round and he gets to choose the menu.  So last Sunday went in a whirl of cooking and clearing up and decorating tables and welcoming visitors.  Glass of prosecco for the cook?  Don't mind if I do.  Long dog walk in the afternoon?  Who can resist those big puppy dog eyes?  Trying out a new game and getting hooked on Bananagrams.  As I wearily closed my eyes at bedtime I suddenly realised the day had gone and I hadn't shared a story. 
My mum loved Christmas. If ever there was a Mrs Santa Claus, it was her.  Christmas was a magical time in our house.  She would spend weeks cooking in advance, because everyone had to have their favourite things to eat.  Presents were thoughtfully chosen, she must have listened so hard to the slightest hint of conversations where people would mention something that they had seen that they liked.  There was a year where I saw a lovely knitting pattern in her magazine for a cable knit jumper and mentioned how much I loved it.  This was just a short while before Christmas, and she then must have rushed out to buy wool the next day, and secretly start knitting as soon as I'd gone up to bed in the evenings to get it done in time.  How she managed that I do not know as she wasn't the fastest knitter in the world and it was a tricky wool to work with especially in the evenings when the light isn't so good. 
She was also a crossword fanatic.  Every day she challenged herself to do a crossword and was so good at getting those cryptic clues.  So she introduced a new family tradition.  She would give crossword style hints on gift tags so you had to have a guess at what it was before you opened it.  Let's just say that some clues were more cryptic than others.  Some had to be explained even after you'd opened the present!  She particularly like anagrams and to this day I think of my Kenwood Gourmet food processor as my Gemtour as the clue for that was 'Something to help make the picnic you take on a Gem Tour'
So silly me.  I decided to pick up the baton of this tradition.  When she passed away in December 1977 it seemed an ideal way to keep her in our thoughts on Christmas morning.  Her clues always brought laughter as we tried to work them out.  But oh mum.  I never realised how hard it is to come up with something original.  I did not inherit your cryptic brain.  Although I have inherited the ability to totally confuse people with what I think is a blindingly obvious clue!
Thank you Sian for giving us all an excuse to walk down memory lane with our family stories, they've been such fun to read. 

Monday 8 December 2014

Me on Monday

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ...
Oh yes, that's Me on Monday, decorating the tree.  Under careful supervision from Rachel and a certain fluffy dog nestling in her bean bag, wondering what's causing all the changes to the house. 
What a weekend it was.  We kicked off proceedings on Friday, meeting up with Denise and Himself for a fab Indian meal.  Saturday was a 'Support Local Shops' day in town so we popped into town, taking advantage of free car parking for the day, did a bit of Christmas shopping, then popped into a little Italian deli/coffee shop for a rather delicious coffee and slice of cake.  A bit of Christmas wrapping in the afternoon, taking Coco to the groomers, a meet up for a drink with some old school friends early evening, then back home to have friends round for drinks later.  Writing it down, it does seem as if I spent rather a lot of time eating or drinking ...  Now I come to think of it, Sunday was a bit foody too.  Sausage roll making, practising gluten free recipes (my god daughter has just been diagnosed as being allergic) ready for Christmas visitors, cooking Sunday lunch, getting involved with a podcast my son has recommended (Serial.  Is anyone else listening to it?  I think I am hooked!)and then the shock horror elimination of Pixie Lott from Strictly.  Lots of muttering under the breath following that.  I was sure she was going to win! 
So, here we are with a week of December under our belt.  This is a week of meals out with ex work mates, meals out with friends and husband's birthday on Friday.  Maybe I'll give Slimming World a miss this week ;-)
Let's give a big, glittery, sparkly Christmas wave to Sian, who had the idea of Me on Monday.  Actually, don't just wave - join in, we'd all love to hear what you're up to today!

Sunday 7 December 2014

Christmas Club 2014

There's an amusing photo doing the rounds of social media.  It's of a rather guilty looking dog with a Christmas tree laying flat on the floor behind it.  The caption is 'Oh great, you're here.  The Christmas tree just fainted.'   I saw it and suddenly had inspiration for my Christmas Club post!
At Christmas we ...
... always had chocolate coins and novelties hung on the tree along with all the decorations.  The idea was that we could find one each per day to eat in the lead up to Christmas.  By December 24th it was hard to find that last one hidden deep within the innermost branches.  We always had a real tree, so you had to brave the prickles to reach them - well worth any pain or injury inflicted in my mind! But Mum didn't just hide little treats for me and my sister, there was always a couple of sugar mice hidden in there for the dog to have on Christmas Eve too. 
Well, one year Mum clearly didn't hide those mice as well as she thought.  The dog wandered into the dining room while we were having dinner and we noticed rather a lot of pine needles the fur along her back.  Not to mention the top of her head, and there was a little self satisfied spring in her step as she licked her lips and laid down in front of the fire.
Our suspicions aroused, we went to investigate - and when we opened the door to the sitting room, the tree was on its side, baubles all over the floor, tinsel pulled off and no sign of any sugar mice.  And as we were standing there, assessing the damage and marvelling at how hard she must have tugged on those mice to pull a 6ft tree over on top of her, we heard the padding of paws, turned round and there she was with an innocent look in her eyes as if to say 'What?  Me? I know nothing about it.'
Come share a Christmas story over at Sian's. It'll put you in the mood for mince pies and mulled wine!

Monday 1 December 2014

Me on Monday

The first Monday in December and I'm watching Denise on my iPad 
What a superstar she is, calmly demonstrating for Kanban Crafts. It seems so strange to see someone you know on TV and I can't believe how cool calm and collected she is. If it were me I'd have spilt the glue, dropped the glitter, put everything on crooked and got all tongue tied. 

The last weekend of November went by on fast forward. There was a bit of Christmas shopping, menu for Boxing Day was decided, a new Christmas mug was bought, hair was cut and coloured, sausage rolls were made, and eaten, Strictly Come Dancing was watched, meetings with a friend's daughter who was home from Hong Kong for a weekend were made, To Do lists were written, dogs were walked, banana and walnut loaves were made and suddenly December was here!

Me on Monday - giving a big wave to Sian who had the original idea of sharing what we are up to in a Monday.

Friday 28 November 2014

Time for one last cup of tea

As we get together for the last cup of tea in Abi's idea to get together over a cuppa once a month, I thought I'd get the best china out and have a 'proper' cup of tea. 
It's been such fun to go round the world via cups, mugs and wine glasses, catching up on news, sharing ideas and admiring crafty work.  But as the saying goes 'all good things must come to an end' and I think we can all agree that Abi has more than enough on her plate in her final year of university! 
Today we seem to be experiencing the madness that has come over here from the US that goes under the name of 'Black Friday'.  While I was at work this morning, I received over 20 emails on my phone all from companies inviting me to take advantage of savings if I buy before midnight tonight.  I can't think of anything I desperately need so I am quietly deleting them so that I am not tempted to buy something that I don't need just because it's got a good discount! 
I am still of the feeling that Christmas shouldn't start before December 1st; what do you think?  Our tree doesn't go up until the weekend after my husband's birthday - 12 December.  I can't imagine having it in the lounge for over a month, 2 weeks is about right for me! 
As I pour another cup (one cup is never enough when you normally have tea in a mug!)we would sit with our feet curled beneath us, a quilt over our lap and an optimistic dog close by hoping for a crumb or two from a biscuit.  I would ask if you could help me in a search.  I am making a quilt for my daughter, one that can cover the seat on a sofa once she moves into a new home.  One that Coco can curl up on without ruining the furniture.  I've found two pieces of fabric, one black with white paw prints on it and one white with black bones on it - yes, there is a dog theme!  She only wants it in black, white and grey and I am now struggling to find a couple of other fabrics that have a dog related design on it.  Do any of you sewing ladies have ideas of where I might find some?  Mr Google is not helping much at the moment!
You see, this is what is lovely about sharing a cup of tea; likeminded people sharing news, views and ideas.  Abi's idea has been brilliant and I've loved getting to know more about everyone.  I'm a firm believer that as one chapter closes, another begins and I am sure that 2015 will bring other memes that we can all join in with.  Ideas anyone?!

Monday 24 November 2014

Me on Monday

Much of this weekend was spent with me brushing up my domestic goddess skills. I seemed to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. A special request for another cherry ring cake was made, honestly you'd have thought they'd have had enough of them by now but apparently not. I also practised a recipe we learnt at this month's cookery club, chicken satay as a little starter before dinner. So simple, so delicious. Fancy having a go? Poach a chicken breast in stock for about 10-15 mins. Let it cool then cut into small cubes to add to a cocktails stick. Mix equal quantities of crunchy peanut butter with sweet chilli dipping sauce. Add a sprinkle of coriander and then thin it down with boiled water. I did 2tbs PB/ chilli sauce and about 3tbs water. Pour over chicken and leave to marinate.
More domestic duties this Monday, always made better by multi tasking and catching up on programmes you've recorded while standing behind a hot ironing board.

That's the view from my ironing board, dog resting (it's hard work protecting the house all day) and Lewis on the TV.
The skies opened this weekend, it was a welly wearing, raincoat wearing, starting the Christmas present buying, bathing a muddy dog 3 times in 2 days, turning up the central heating, watching a huge puddle develop on the patio, staying indoors as much as possible kind of weekend. Wintery weather has officially arrived!
So that's me on this chilly Monday, giving up a big wave to Sian and hoping she soon feels better.

Monday 17 November 2014

Me on Monday

These Monday's are coming around quickly aren't they? 
Here is a snap of what I was doing first thing this morning
Remember the Dress a Girl around the World project I mentioned a while back? Well I made the body of the dress ages ago and it was just waiting for the pocket to be added and as we all know, it's the finishing off bits that get left behind until someone finds your UFO (unfinished object) and says "are you ever going to send that off?" So here I am, when my finished dress, ready to put it in a bag to hand over to the teacher in charge of the project - finally!
So, it was a busy old weekend here. Pockets were made, and sewn on, threads were snipped, rugby was watched, as was football, Indian take aways were eaten with friends, a few Christmas presents were bought, a new living room floor lamp was ordered, a moving around of furniture in the lounge was discussed, and hours of Internet searching took place to find a new chair to put in the space that the reshuffle would make, and finally much relief was felt when the voting on Strictly Come Dancing was announced. 
Giving up a big wave to Sian whose idea it was to share our photos on Mondays.

Monday 10 November 2014

Catching two birds with one stone

Catching up with Abi's idea of One photo and Twenty words:
My son's quirky t-shirts make the hated job of ironing more bearable  The Queen wearing a moustache? Must be Movember!

Which also ticks the box for Me on Monday. Half day working, then catching up on chores.  Oh but I dislike ironing.  You spend hours doing it, then a few days later there's another batch waiting.  
Nothing very exciting on the agenda here this weekend. It was a Tesco shopping, big Sunday lunch cooking, book reading, buying a top in the Joules 25% off sale, turning the central hearing up a notch on Saturday, then switching it back down again on Sunday,dog walking over the park followed by dog bathing as soon as she was home and everyone running for cover before she shakes the water off kind of weekend. 

The younger members of the families are nursing sore throats and earaches, so I am keeping my distance before they share the germs around. Hope everyone is well in your household. Now let's all pop over and give a big wave to Sian while we find out why she spent the weekend in protective clothing!

Monday 3 November 2014

Hey ho, hey ho

It's off to work we go ... So with that image of 7 dwarfs on their way to work in the mines, little old me went back to work after half term.  It seemed like I had been away a long time and spent all morning just dealing with emails.  Back in the old routine! 
How's your Monday?  I'm trying to stop myself from doing this ...
... too often.  We only had one batch of trick or treaters round on Friday and we had a surplus of sweets.  I don't seem to be able to resist taking something out of the bowl every time I walk past it!
The weekend was literally a 'game of two halves' here.  Saturday was glorious and Sunday was cold, wet and miserable.  Once again we extended the weekend by starting it on Friday with a lovely day in sunny Cambridge, receiving another friendship quilt block, amusing the postman by receiving a package for my son labelled 'To the Master of Everything and Fool to no one' and then it was a weekend of trying out a new Italian restaurant in town, drinks at friends to christen their new conservatory, trying to decide on paint colours for redecorating the dining room, eating left over halloween sweets, cooking a full on roast beef Sunday lunch with all the trimmings, snoozing in the armchair after dinner while the men of the family watched the football (Spurs won, so happy faces in our household), being relieved that the right person got voted off Strictly Come Dancing, reading books and mentally preparing myself for returning to work after 10 days off.
So that's Me on Monday.  An idea from Sian.  Pop over to see her and try and work out why someone who's the same height as me is going shopping for extra long jeans!

Monday 27 October 2014

Me on Monday

What's the worst way to start a half term holiday?  With a 9.15am dentist appointment.  What was I thinking?  I don't like dentists and that dislike goes back a long way.  In fact the first time I ever remember really getting told off related to the dentist. 
When I was little, the local dentist operated out of an old house near to where we lived.  The ground floor was a surgery and he lived upstairs.  It was old and it was cold and it was creepy.  He had an assistant called 'Miss Lawrence'.  She wore a long white lab coat and had crepe soled sensible shoes that squeaked on the linoleum as she walked down the hallway to take you from the waiting room to the surgery.  You sat there in the silent waiting room and you heard the squeak, squeak, squeak of her approaching.  The door would open and you would hear 'Deborah ...'  She was Scottish and she pronounced it 'Dee Bore Ah' it still gives me the creeps!  The dentist, Mr Holdsworth, was (in a small girl's eyes) ancient and scary.  He didn't really speak to you and just called things out to Miss Lawrence as he poked around in your mouth with a very sharp instrument.  His policy towards teeth was 'if in doubt - fill it' and therefore all the local children ended up with a lot of fillings!  It wasn't until I got married and moved out of town that I discovered that most other dentists gave injections to numb your mouth when they did treatments - we had to 'grin and bear it' at our surgery.  
So how did I get into trouble?  Well, my mum used to have a small wallhanging in the kitchen that you could write on and then wipe off and she used to use it as a memo board/shopping list.  I can still see it, there was a Mabel Lucy Attwell picture and a short poem:
When you're going shopping
You really should insist
That when you're running short of things
They're put down on this list.
'Twill save a lot of time in town
If everything is jotted down.
Well, one day I saw something awful written on that board.  Can't remember the date but it was something like 3 April - Dentist.  Now I knew that I would NOT want to spend the 3rd of April at the dentist so I changed it.  I added a '1' to the front so it said 13 April - Dentist.  So when Miss Lawrence rang Mum on the 4th of April to find out why we hadn't turned up, my little freckled face glowed bright red as I had to admit what I'd done.  Oh boy was I in trouble! REAL trouble because not only had I embarrassed my mum, she said I would have to apologise in person to Mr Holdsworth myself.  Talk to that scary man?  That big man with the deep scary voice and the pointy sharp things?  I was so scared.  Fortunately Miss Lawrence saw the funny side of it but I learnt a valuable lesson that day, no matter how scared you are of the dentist, you do HAVE to go! Anyhow, I've escaped unscathed from my appointment and don't have to go through that stress for another 6 months so all is good.  But talking of scary things ...

It's halloween this week and the lady who runs my Fitsteps class has decided we should dress up for a spooky exercise class - so I've been thinking about what I'm going to wear and my Me on Monday photo looks like this  
Not sure how long the hat will stay on but it's a start!
We managed to extend our weekend again by starting on Friday night with a family gathering with my sister and brother in law so it was a homemade curry night, sorting out who's going where for Christmas, quilt sewing, Strictly Come Dancing watching, extra hour in bed as we left British Summer Time for Greenwich Mean Time, delicious Sunday lunch at a friend's house, sorting out problems with the TV and saying goodbye to our neighbours opposite as they prepared to move out today. 
Me on Monday - a brilliant idea from Sian

Monday 20 October 2014

Me on Monday

It was a homes and gardens projects weekend here. A plan to cut the lawn for the last time this year was scuppered when the lawn mower decided that it had had enough, fizzled and died. A plan to redecorate the downstairs toilet (2 years after the first 'shall we redo the loo' thought was voiced) ended up with a couple of trips to the local Homebase store. It was a wallpaper ordering, paint purchasing,  lawnmower buying, wallpaper stripping, tile removing, patchwork quilt squares cutting, dog walking, slow roast shoulder of pork cooking, panettone bread and butter pudding baking kind of weekend. 

So I've done my half day at work, and have to go back again later for 'safeguarding' training (which always upsets me when we have to discuss true case studies of at risk children) and just to make this Monday even less enjoyable, I have an afternoon with this ...

Because I cannot put off the evil task of clearing the ironing pile any longer. Unless I look to see if there's a puppy that's in need of a walk ... 

How's your Monday shaping up? I think that instead of just waving to Sian who organised the Me on Monday idea, I'm going to pop round and visit to see if any of her secret recipe fudge/tablet is left.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Bake off memories and a recipe

I'm already missing the Great British Bake Off (for those outside the UK, it's a cookery programme with 12 amateur cooks being challenged to bake cakes, breads and pastries with one person being sent home at the end of each week).  My English teacher at school always told us to never use 'nice' in a story.  We always had to find another word, but 'nice' exactly sums up the ethos of the programme.  There's no back-biting, no one saying anything unpleasant about the other contestants and the worst controversy was somone removing an icecream out of a freezer or using someone else's custard!
So because I am missing it, I've been baking myself.  Let me share what I've been making - my version of Mary Berry's cherry cake.  I can't use her recipe because her cake tin is way bigger than mine and if you do try it, you will end up with an overflowing tin and enough mixture to make a dozen cupcakes too.  Mine involves a 21cm ring tin and it ends up looking like this:
Are you ready?  Then rifle through your cupboards and get your ingredients out:
200g glace cherries
180g self raising flour
100g Stork margarine or similar (Mary will, of course be using butter!)
100g caster sugar
25g ground almonds
2 large eggs
1 lemon
120g icing sugar
Pre-heat your oven to 180C and prepare your tin.  You need to grease the inside of your tin.  As I'm on Slimming World at the moment (yes you are still allowed cake!) I have cans of Fry Light for cooking and they are fab to grease cake tins as you can get a good light spray all over. Just be careful to use the sunflower one or the olive oil one.  BBQ or garlic flavour will not enhance your cake!
Rinse your cherries under water and dry.  Put about 4 aside for decoration and cut the others into quarters.  Put them in a bowl with a tablespoon of flour and make sure they are all coated.  Mary would tell you that this stops them sinking through the cake mixture and all ending up in one end of the cake.
Cream the margarine and sugar together until the mixture is soft, then add the eggs, almonds, flour and grated rind of the lemon.  It will be quite a firm mixture but don't worry, that's how it should be.  Stir in the chopped cherries.  Spoon the mixture into the tin, spread it evenly and put in oven for about 30 mins.  Check it at 25 mins just in case your oven cooks hotter than mine.  At this point you can crouch on the floor, peering into the oven door, watching it gently brown, just like they do in the programme.  If it's golden brown all over, firm to touch and a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean, it's done. 
Don't be too keen to remove it from the tin.  Ring cakes need to be treated with respect, or they will refuse to come out in one piece and you're left with a cake of two halves.  (What makes you think this is the voice of experience talking?) So let it cool down for about 5 - 10 mins, gently run a knife around the outer and the inner edge, then cross your fingers, hold your breath and turn it out onto a cooling tray.  And breathe.  It's out and ready to cool down to decorate.
Have you waited until the cake is quite cool?  OK, you're ready to go.  Mix the juice of the lemon into the icing sugar and gently pour the icing over the cooled cake, letting it drip down the sides.  Remember where you put those reserved cherries?  Go and get them, cut them in half and add around the top. 
Stand back and admire your finished work of art.  Can you wait until the icing is properly set?  No, me neither, let's put the kettle on and while the tea's brewing we'll have a slice.  Thank goodness Paul Hollywood can't see the state of my kitchen, he'd be giving me the glare.  You know the one. 

Monday 13 October 2014

Me on Monday - Take Two

Don't you just love blogger? You start a post, you save a post, you edit a post, you save the edits, you open the post again and it's gone.  So, with gritted teeth and a determined smile I bring you Me on Monday - again.

Monday sees two of the family with clean, freshly styled fur. There's me
And there's you know who 

It's really horrible here today, rain, rain and oh look, it's still raining.  How was your weekend? Ours was relaxed. We were out Friday night until 1am and I'm far too old for late nights/early mornings, it took ages to get my act together on Saturday. But then there were hair cuts, shopping trips, Strictly Come Dancing watching, debates about whether or not Donny Osmond has had Botox (probably) and if he either dyes his hair or wears a wig (definitely one, possibly the other), lazy Sunday lunches with prosecco, choosing a design for the next friendship quilt block, making it, realising it was slightly too small and having to make another, and finishing my book. (Until you're mine by Samantha Hayes. Wow! What a page turner!)

Giving a big wave to Sian who had the great idea to share Me on Monday posts. Are you doing one too? Why not? Pah! That's no excuse. Stop what you're doing, take a quick photo, share it on your blog and join in. In the famous words of Take That 'it only takes a minute ...'

Friday 10 October 2014

One photo and twenty words

Me wearing trainers and joggers on a Thursday night means I've run out of excuses not to go to Fitsteps.
Giving a wave to Abi who organised this monthly meme, along with my apologies for being a day late!

Monday 6 October 2014

Topless in a car park

Also known as Me on Monday, the brain child of Sian.
It's Monday:
Yes I was topless in a car park.
Yes it was chilly.
Yes it was for a good reason.

I don't know if it's the same where you live but in this area women are called for breast screening every 3 years once you get to 50.  There is a specialist hospital north of here that sends mobile units out to local hospitals. They park in the car park and inside it's a fully functioning x ray department.  We did have a light hearted discussion at work where I said that as they have building works going on there at the moment, I hoped I wouldn't accidentally wander into a workman's porta cabin to strip off! Do you see the notice on the side of the door asking gentlemen to stay outside? That's a clue that I was in the right place!

Did you have a good weekend? Autumn arrived here for sure this weekend. Saturday was cold, wet and miserable but yesterday was bright and sunny although certainly there was a chill in the air. For us it was a Turn the central heating on, crack on with the sewing of the new quilt, buy some spring flowering bulbs to plant, discover evidence of a mouse in the garage, Strictly Come Dancing watching, son discovering a puncture in his car tyre, too much football on the tv kind of weekend.

Pop over to Sian and see what she has been up to. Better still - share a Me on Monday post too!

Monday 29 September 2014

Me on Monday ~16

I had a parcel delivered today. An order that I made on Friday has arrived super-quick. if I'd known it was being delivered today I'd have left work much earlier and driven home much quicker!  As you can see, my photo for today's Me on Monday involves much stroking of lovely fabric ready to make a new quilt. 

As the evenings have got a little darker a little quicker, and the temperatures have dropped a little lower and my fingers have crept a little closer to the central heating controls, the quilts that I keep in the lounge are getting a lot of use.  I like to snuggle underneath one in the evenings, so does my daughter and the dog seems to think that anything soft is fair game as a cushion for her.  So I saw this lovely fabric over at Hulu Crafts website and next thing you know, an order had been made
How was your weekend?  We had a really relaxing time and it was nice not to have anything in particular to do.  It really was a furniture shop browsing, new doormat buying, staircase painting, homemade Thai green curry cooking, Strictly Come Dancing watching, new quilt planning, falling asleep after Sunday lunch kind of couple of days. 
And here we are at Monday again, giving up a wave to Sian, whose idea 'Me on Monday' was originally. 

Sunday 28 September 2014

Let's sit and have a cup of tea

Do come in, sit down and make yourself comfortable.  Kettle's just boiled and there's some cake in the tin, let's have a slice - or two! Funny how I'm inspired to do more cake baking at the time of The Great British Bake Off, and yes, this is Mary Berry's cherry ring cake.

As you can see, the dining table/craft table is a bit messy which shows that there is a new project underway!  Let me explain ... Part of my job is to help compile the school newsletter.  This term's edition is an interesting one as the students who went on overseas trips in the summer holidays write up their experiences.  There are two big trips: one to our partner school in Uganda and one to Cambodia.  Both are life changing experiences as the sixth formers help in schools and orphanages, build houses, help dig wells and all manner of things to help improve the lives of those who live in the villages where they stay.  One of the teachers who went with them to Cambodia is a textiles teacher and she wrote an article for the newsletter about a charity project she is working on with her Year 10 Textiles students.  They are making dresses for Dress a girl around the world and their dresses will be going to the village in Cambodia where our students stayed this summer. 
Can you imagine only having one dress?  Can you imagine the pride you would feel when wearing that dress?  How very special that dress would be to you?  We take so much for granted don't we?  In their words - Imagine a world where every girl owned at least one dress.  Imagine if that dress were made by you.  Please do click on the link and read about the work that is being done. 
I hardly need tell you what my project is do I?  I am going to be making a dress to give to the teacher organising the project because I love to think of how happy receiving that dress will make a girl somewhere in Cambodia. I've made the basic dress, now I just need to make a pretty pocket.  I'm thinking white with a red frill along the top, what do you think?

Linking up with Abi to share a cup of tea on the 27th of each month. Yes, I'm a day late!

Friday 26 September 2014

2014 Scavenger Hunt Round Up

It's over.  The last day of the 2014 Scavenger Hunt organised by Rinda has passed and it's time to count the days until the next one share the photos that we took.
I really enjoy this project, and it really adds something to days out and holidays.  There's real mixed emotions at taking the last photo.  Yay!  I've got them all. Oh no, now I haven't got any more to find. 
So in the words from The Sound of Music, 'let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start ...'

Now this town sign allows me slightly because there should be an apostrophe between the p and the s. How could the town council get it wrong?!  I was so happy to find this gnome because I am on the side of the team that finds them a bit creepy but this one seems ok.  We had stopped for a coffee at a restaurant on the banks of Lake Garda, and as we went inside to pay I saw this little guy in a water feature in the corner.  I think the waiters were a little bemused by me getting excited and exclaiming to my husband 'Look at that - quick, where's the camera , they've got a gnome!'

A few weeks in and even my husband is pointing things out to me (he was the one that spotted birds on a wire.  That was a tricky one around here as we have our cables buried underground, you have to go out into the countryside to find overhead wires.  Fortunately we had a willing dog eager to venture out on dog walks until we found what we were looking for.  However, having a dog with you does make the taking of the photo tricky as the sight of her tends to make birds fly off into the trees.  A group of tourists was always going to be do-able when on holiday and I snapped a group who were disembarking from a boat trip around Lake Garda.

Racks of postcards seem to be the same the world over.  I liked this Italian selection as there were a range of sizes.  Panoramic postcards are popular over there rather than the traditional size.  The urban landscape was taken on a weekend in Edinburgh.  Such a lovely place.

 Back to local dog walks for the rural landscape.  I love the fact that literally 5 minutes walk from my front door, I am in the countryside. This view across the fields towards the local church never ceases to bring me pleasure.  My daughter was the model for the tattoo picture.  She has a few discrete designs and I think this one of the first letter of her name is quite sweet. 

The photobomb caused me some grief so when this little girl popped up in a photo I was taking of a lamp post and jetty light, I was pretty pleased.  I loved this little bakery that we found in the resort of Garda. 

Some photos that I found I was really happy with.  This gramophone horn that we saw in a shop window in Edinburgh is one of my favourites.  The little mascot I found in the hotel at Gatwick airport I'm not really happy with.  So I may call into play an alternative for that one!

When the hunt started, sunrise was at an awfully early hour, so I held on for a while to take this one.  Trouble is, when you wake up early one morning, the first thought isn't normally 'quick, grab your camera, let's open the front door and take a picture of the sun rise'!  The parade that I took was the parade of cars taking place in the Gumball Rally.

 You don't realise how the list is burning into your memory until a chance conversation with a new member of staff goes something like this
'So where did you work before you came here?'
'I was a tutor for children whose families worked in a circus in Australia during the day and a circus performer at night.'
'Can you juggle?'

A sign in another language was an easy one to tick off in Italy!
Back to Edinburgh for the next couple.  A beautiful waterfall, I wish you could hear just how pretty the water sounded as it cascaded down.  Then back into town to cross the bridge and take a picture of a lamp post


Now, just to prove that painted buses can be the same in two totally different locations: One from Verona and one from Edinburgh! I think there must be a company somewhere in Europe that has a monopoly on painted tour buses! 

Oops, got a little out of sequence there!  Back to Verona, for an Italian public garden. Such a pretty, relaxing spot in the centre of the city.  Europe certainly knows how to do public gardens well.  Uh oh.  There's me in a hat.  Wearing sunglasses, on a sunlounger under a parasol - must be me in Summer!
And finally because I really wasn't happy with that mascot, I'm adding a pretty little bird house.
 And that's it.  Scavenger Hunt 2014 officially over.  Thank you so much Rinda, for organising this.  All that's left to say is - please promise to do it again next year!

Monday 22 September 2014

Me on Monday ~ 15

Mondays sure are coming round quickly aren't they? This weekend has had a real autumn feel to it; sunny but with a chill in the air. Dew on the grass in the mornings and the leaves are starting to fall from the trees.  Lights are getting switched on a little earlier every day and I'm monitoring the weather reports ready to switch on that heating the minute we go into single figures.

Was your weekend good? Ours started with a night out on Friday - I like extending the weekend by adding a Friday night into the mix! It was a celebrating a friend's 60th birthday, Indian meal eating, daddy-long-legs chasing, making a dress for charity (more of that in a future blog post), waking up at 2am by thunder storms, having Jon help cook Sunday lunch again, lazy Sunday kind of weekend.

And Monday finds me ...

Working from home!  The whole school computer system crashed this morning and we could literally do nothing - no internet, no emails, no Word, Excel or Publisher.  So after a coffee and a couple of hours making my desk the tidiest it's ever been, finding things I thought I'd lost, reorganising the pin board behind me and shredding stuff I may regret in the future - I suggested that as I had a fully functional Microsoft Office package on the laptop at home, along with full internet access, I would probably be more productive going home for the morning.  It also meant I was able to multi task and try out one of the recipes I learnt at cookery club last week, broccoli and stilton soup.  Don't turn your nose up like that - it's absolutely lovely! 

So this is me, giving a big wave to Sian, who's had a bit of a cowgirl kind of weekend.  Why not pop over to see her and admire those boots of hers? 


Monday 15 September 2014

Me on Monday ~ 14

Hi there! I'm back to give a big wave to everyone while joining in with Sian's Me on Monday idea.  I missed last week but if I had joined in, my photo would have shown ice packs, paracetamol and ibuprofen gel. I twisted my back awkwardly and next thing I knew I was in loads of pain.  So from now on I must remember that the others taking part in Fitsteps classes are probably 20 years younger than  and I don't have to try and keep up with any frantic Zumba moves. I must also remember that an oven pan containing 2 half shoulders of lamb slow braising with 2 litres of stock will be heavier than I may have anticipated when putting in and out of the oven to baste. Furthermore, when lifting an overflowing   washing basket, you should not try and twist to get through a half open door. You will get away with two of those things but the last one will 'break the camel's back'.

There are many lovely things about having Jon back, not least the fact that he loves to cook (let's not mention his lack of loving clearing up after himself). So this weekend has seen me enjoying meals that I haven't had to cook myself "you get the ingredients Mum, and I'll cook." It's a deal! There's also been a lot of garden clearing - although I've had to have many coffee breaks due to not having a fully functioning back and not wishing to undo all the good work of resting for a few days. That's my story and I'm sticking to it ;-) there's been dog walking, sloe berry picking, book reading*, clothes altering and finishing Season 4 of Breaking Bad.

Which brings us to Me on Monday.  Can you spot the clue in my outfit that tells you that temperature have dropped in the mornings around her?

Ah yes, the first sign of autumn in the office. When necklaces are replaced by cotton scarves.

*The Midwife's Confession. Have you read it? If not, I really recommend it. So many secrets to unravel!