Friday 31 January 2014

My Month in Numbers

Whats the strangest thing anyone said to you this month? Mine has got to be the comment "Oh Debbie, you're looking very Irish today." Irish? Is that a compliment or an insult? I know I'm small but did I have the look of a leprechaun about me? And the teacher who said it is Welsh, so it's not as if she saw me as a kindred spirit. And before you ask, I can assure you that I was NOT doing Riverdance round the staff room either.  So anyway, here I am, not being Irish, sharing my Month in Numbers as part of Julie's meme
January has not been the best month, with post-Christmas slumps, the numbers on the scales looking a little higher than they did in December, and oh my goodness, it seemed to take a very long time for payday to come round again.  So, in an effort to get everyone in a good frame of mind for surviving a VERY LONG month let me share my absolute, most favourite song at the moment.


Everyone feeling upbeat now?  Those of  us looking and feeling Irish Riverdancing around the lounge?  Good, let's get down to the numbers ...
We had one lovely Christening this month. My great nephew was the star of the show and despite everyone's predictions, not one tear was shed. He looked pretty bemused when he ended up having a bit of a hair wash in the middle of the church but nothing that a whole bag of few chocolate buttons didn't put right afterwards.
We had a birthday too.  Just the one. But quite a big one, I think you'll agree. My mother in law celebrated 87 years; quite an achievement.  An on the subject of old ladies (ahem) I passed my driving test 38 years ago today. Let's not dwell on that length of time. 
The local river turned into a huge bubble bath this month.  Really.  Honestly, I know it's hard to believe but it's true. A mild chemical spillage in the local river meant there was a 16ft high wall of foam along the riverbank. I guess we now officially have the cleanest, shiniest fish in Hertfordshire. I can tell you can't believe me so check out the report of it in the local paper!
I've been busy sewing and I now have all 20 blocks ready for my quilt. Now if someone could just tell me how to join them together I'll be very happy. I've got to that 'really want to get it finished' stage. Swiftly followed by the 'Help! someone tell me what to do next' stage.
At school, we used to all bring in a cake on our individual birthdays but this ended up with us having cake almost every other week (I didn't see this as a problem but some other people did) and so now, once every half term the people who have birthdays in those 6 weeks get together and we have cakes on one day.  This week we had the choice of baked cheesecake, carrot cake, coffee cake, chocolate cake or fresh fruit skewers.  Over the course of two days I think I may have managed to try a tiny little bit of all 5 items (there was enough cake for a second round of 'left overs' the next day!) 
Now Julie suggested that the communal count should be the price of bread.  Which should be easy, right? But we're not huge bread eaters here. I do have a bread maker and have phases where I use it regularly at weekends but on the whole we rarely eat a whole loaf during the week.  So we tend to buy one of those small sized whole meal loaves, the ones that cost about 85p. Now, how many 'new' things did I try?  Well.  I tried some new recipes - the most requested 'please make that again' one was biscotti.  But I also found a great oven baked risotto recipe that does away with all that stirring and adding a spoonful of stock every five minutes. The other thing I tried was a sports therapy massage.  Don't be taken in by the relaxing sound of the word 'massage'. My goodness there were moments when it was pretty painful.  Apparently my knee problem isn't in my knee, but the muscles that go down the back of the knee from the thigh to the calf.  We discovered this when the answer to 'does this hurt?' as she pressed and prodded all around my knee changed from 'no' to 'aaaarghhhh'. Hopefully the pain I went through over the following 90 mins will mean that it gradually gets better now.  Watch this space!

Monday 27 January 2014

Let's sit and have a cup of tea

Come in, come in.  The kettle's just boiled and I've got the mugs out ready. I see you looking at the one I've set out for myself.
It was a Christmas present from Coco.  Apparently I am officially the best Nanny and puppy hugger in the world!  Do you fancy some homemade biscotti?  I'd never made it before but it has been a great hit, especially with all who love pistachio nuts and cranberries.  If you're interested, I can give you the recipe.
I would ask you if you came to me by any route that brought you past the river.  There was some kind of chemical spillage at the weekend and a large stretch of the river turned into one gigantic foam bubble bath!   Quite a surprise to people who live in homes that back onto the riverside I would think.  Thankfully it was harmless to fish.
We would have to clear the table in the dining room before we could sit down.  The sewing machine is still in good use.  I've made 14 of the 20 squares I need for the quilt I am making and I'm now impatient to get onto the next part.  The only problem is that I have never made a quilt like this before which needs 'sashing' and I'm a little concerned about how to approach it. I will be asking you for your opinion and advice!
If you had read my previous blog post, I am sure you will be asking me how my breaking up with 'meh' was going.  I would tell you how I was convinced that 'meh' had followed me to school on Friday and listened to me listening to the calls on the 'absence line'.  That way he would have heard that a virus was going round the school, and I'm sure that he rang up that virus and asked it to visit me on Saturday so that I felt drained of energy and just a bit 'bleurgh' all day.  He's also been in cahoots with my knee which has got progressively more painful.  So much so that I have booked an appointment with a sports massage therapist on Wednesday.  Hard to keep away from 'meh' when you can't begin to drive anywhere much or sit comfortably for any length of time.   Just be aware 'meh' that in the words of Taylor Swift 'we are never, ever, ever, getting back together' and I'm not giving up without a fight! The weird thing is that I climb stairs like an elderly woman with arthritis yet I can still do my hour long Fitsteps class fine.   This is a strange injury!   Have you heard of Fitsteps?  Do check out their website here and if you decide to have a go yourself, let me know what you think. 
I would tell you about the Christening that we went to yesterday.  My great nephew was the star of the show and it was lovely to see all the family.  He was such a good boy.
As normally happens when you spend any time with a Brit at this time of year (any time of year actually!) we will discuss the weather and when we thought we may get our first snow fall.  Although the temperature has dropped, I don't think it's forecast for the near future.  Who knows?  At least in this area we have escaped the flooding that other places have had.  No flooding, just a 16 feet high wall of foam!
It's time for you to brave the elements and pop back to Abi's where I know there's a warm welcome waiting for you.  I'll help you back into your coat/hat/gloves and Coco will definitely be around to say goodbye.  Same time next month?  It's a date!

Wednesday 22 January 2014

January Meh

I did smile when I read Deb's post about possibly choosing 'meh' as her One Little Word for the year.  And although I really hoped her year wouldn't be full of 'meh', I could really see where she was coming from!  Quite apart from a 'Can't be bothered' definition, it could also mean 'it's not perfect, but it will do'. I have to say that January is feeling a bit 'meh' over here in Deb's World too.  I keep finding all manner of good reasons excuses for not doing things or going places.  It's very easy to curl up in the winter sunshine in the conservatory with a good book and forget how excited you were to start that quilt at the beginning of the month.   The sewing machine giving you 'come hither' glances every time you walk past it and you totally ignoring it.  The pile of finished quilt blocks not growing with each passing day.   Very, very easy to sit and read a new cookery book rather than getting into the kitchen and actually cooking some new recipe you like the look of.  Anybody else out there feeling where I'm coming from?
I had to go on a training course on Monday.  I wasn't looking forward to it.  As I walked over to the room where it was being held, I had already decided it was not going to be worthwhile or interesting.  I had a pile of work on my desk that needed doing and 3 hours of learning the finer points of something I already knew how to do was quite frankly - annoying.  To rub salt into the wound, the heating in the room was not working properly and anyone that knows me, will know that I do not 'do' cold well!  First off, the whiteboard won't work - and then we had problems linking the laptops to the network.  I think a few of my internal sighs may actually become audible!  'So we'll start with the basics' the trainer said 'NO' my brain screamed 'Don't do that, we've already done that before, we're here for advanced report training, we don't need basic, we know basic, I'm cold, I'm bored, I don't want to be here.' And so passed the longest 180 minutes that a Monday morning ever held.  180 long, cold, boring minutes. I finish at 12.30 on a Monday and I practically ran out that door, jumped in my car and rushed home.  'How did it go?'  asked my husband. 'Well, that's 3 hours of my life I'm never going to get back.' I replied.  And then I thought.  How true that statement is.  My 'meh' feelings are wasting precious days.  We're 3/4 through January and what do I have to show for it?  So my dear 'meh', that's it.  I'm breaking up with you.  It's not you, it's me.  I've got things to do, places to go and people to see.  You're holding me back and I think it's best for both of us if we go our separate ways.  You'll find someone else.  
So, dear blog, you and I are going to be seeing more of each other.  Quality time spent in each other's company.  Hey look, I've even done another zoom in, zoom out picture combination to join in with Helena:

I do love orchids, they're my type of a house plant.  They flower even when you neglect them, rumour has it that they thrive the more you neglect them.  They don't ask for lots of water, just some good light and moisture in the air and they are happy.  This is a new one that I was given for Christmas.  I love the waxy feel of the petals and the elegance of their shape and form.  This one is happy brightening up the windowsill in my shower room. I mean, come on, how can I look at that and still feel 'meh'?

Friday 17 January 2014

Simply a Moment - January

I have been sitting in one position for too long.  As I go to stand up, my knee complains and makes me wonder if it is going to give way beneath me.  It's been hurting for a while now, on and off.  I'm hoping it's not 'old age' showing its first signs and more likely an injury that's been aggravated by over enthusiastic dancing at my 'Fitsteps' class last night.  My posture is bad, I know that for a fact. Sitting at work I perch on the end of my chair rather than sitting back properly with my spine supported.

I'm 'in charge' of Awards evening this year. 130 students being presented with a book or trophies in acknowledgement of achievement.  400 guests. 1 person collecting nominations, printing congratulations letters, invitations to parents and VIPs, ensuring that 70 books have the right names printed on their book plates and ready to be presented in the right order.  Sixty silver trophies shining and glass awards polished.  One person to organise it (along with all their normal work) - me.  It's normally a job I share but this year I'm on my own and the enormity of the task feels overwhelming.  I've spent a lot of time in denial that it can be done by one person, but I need to change my mind set from an 'it can't be done' to 'let's see if it can be done'.

So today I have broken the job down and made a timescale of what needs to be done and when to do it.  Rather than one huge undertaking, it feels a bit more manageable. I feel as though I have clawed back a little bit of control.  I know when my busiest times will be and having it written down chronologically makes me feel more confident that this just might be do-able. But I have been sitting down, tense and in a bad position for far too long and whilst I now have a beautifully organised spreadsheet, and a slightly happier frame of mind, my knee is regretting that final cha-cha-cha last night.

Simply a moment of my working life - recorded in conjunction with Alexa's blog.

Thursday 9 January 2014

One photo & Twenty Words

A Mexican meal, Mandy's marvelous margaritas and a magnificent moustache. 
Not so much Salvador Dali, but more like Hercules Poirot! 
Linking up with Abi over at Creating Paper Dreams who has organised the fun meme of posting one photo and accompanying it with just 20 words.  It's a quick, fun project - why not join in too? 

Saturday 4 January 2014

Welcoming in the new

So after we helped 2013 pack its bags and left it at the departure gate, we rushed round to 'Arrivals' to welcome in 2014. We didn't do anything exciting, just had a nice meal with a bottle of wine and watched New Year's Eve TV. Even managed to stay awake for Jules Holland, Big Ben chiming the hour and the fireworks. This week has been lovely, to just pootle around, doing not very much but relaxing, sewing and reading. Boy, is going back to work next week going to be tough!
We're not great at hitting the New Year sales but our daughter had been saving for the Mulberry sale and managed to get an exceptionally expensive handbag at 25% off! which just made it very expensive. She did the same last year and has used that bag every single day so if you divide up the amount spent by the times used, actually it was a very good buy! I was less extravagant but found a lovely dress in Phase Eight that was reduced by £40 and as I have a family christening to attend at the end of this month I very happily brought it home.
I was keen to start a new quilt project and ordered some lovely fabric for a full size quilt for my son's bedroom. My husband and I were going out on ... And as we drove up the road I saw the postman.
Stop the car!
What? Why?
I think he may have my fabric in his bag.
How can you tell?
I just can. Park up and wait and see.
Sure enough, as he got to our house, he rang the bell and was just about to leave a 'sorry I missed you' card when I jumped out the car, ran across the road and explained that the parcel was for me.  Happy days.


40 jelly roll strips of lovely fabric in gorgeous colours. Naturally I couldn't wait to get working on it and I have been trying to do a couple of blocks a day.
As we have moved into another month, it's been time to start another block for the Friendship Quilt. This one will be heading off to Alison in Spain.  I already knew what fabric I was going to be using but hadn't found a pattern to use.  However, now I am the proud owner of a few quilting magazines, it wasn't too hard to find inspiration! I wish I knew how to easily adapt a 12" pattern to a 6" one - does anyone out there have any ideas?  I spent yesterday happily sewing and hope to be able to get to the Post Office early next week to send it off.  I won't share it here until she's received it. Nope, not even on Instagram!
Along with many others, we have noticed that we have both put on a few pounds over the holidays and I need to stop baking and dig out a few more healthy eating recipes.  So why then have I invited friends over for dinner next weekend? Maybe after a week of no treats we will have earned a night off. I'm trying to convince myself that the menu I've planned is quite 'light' - whether it is or not is up for discussion. I spent this morning doing a trial run of the dessert I'm planning.  Individual cheesecakes that are made in muffin tins, with an Oreo cookie as a base.  I'll be serving them with a coulis made from mixed fruits so surely that cancels out any calories ;-)  I'll let you know the verdict after we've had the trial ones tonight.
So we have officially reached the New Year TV programming and I am so happy to know that Sherlock is back - so now we all know how he didn't die in that fall!  Plus the new series (that has just finished in the US) of Greys Anatomy starts again this coming week, and also Revenge.  I have my evenings sorted!
It's time to finish blogging and help to pack up the Christmas decorations for another year.  I thought I may try an idea of Helena's that I've noticed a few others are taking part in. Zoom in, zoom out. So I will leave you with a last glimpse of our Christmas tree, and the first 'selfie' of the year with my reflection zoomed into a bauble.