Sunday 31 May 2015

Day 31 - Every Day in May

I did I it! Blogged every single day in May! 
Today Cate suggests we celebrate by  sharing a picture of how we celebrate the little things. We all know what that means don't we?
Cake
You can make a cake fit any occasion.  Having a birthday?  Cake.  Wedding? Cake. Passed an exam? Cake.  Baby shower? Cake.  Finished blogging Every Day in May?  Cake.  Although it has to be a virtual cake as I don't have the cooker to bake a real one at the moment! 
 
And maybe 

A glass of something fizzy.  Has anyone else seen the scare-mongering stories going around the internet that there is going to be a prosecco shortage?  Better start stock piling I guess.  Although if everyone did that, it would actually add to the shortage situation.  I actually prefer it to champagne - which is a good thing because prosecco is one heck of a lot cheaper than champagne!  I also love the fact that you can buy these half size bottles because my husband isn't a huge fan of the fizzy stuff and it means I can enjoy a glass (or two) while he has a beer.  Opening a bottle of champagne would feel a little too over the top (whilst ensuring that I ended up under the table)

So that's it - May, finished.  Every single day.  Thanks to Cate for inspiring me to join in and getting me back in the frequent bloggers brigade.
 
What have we got to look forward to in June?  The event that we've all been waiting for maybe?  Rinda's Scavenger Hunt 2015.  I wonder what will be on the list this year that will drive us all crazy?  Remember the year we were all hunting down unicycles?  Or the year we spent our time looking at the sky trying to find a picture in a cloud?  I can't wait to see what is on the list this time.  I do hope you'll be joining in too.  It's so easy to take part.  Either just as a private challenge, on your blog, through the facebook group or the instagram hashtag. 


Saturday 30 May 2015

Social networking

Today the prompt from Cate is this: Sometimes as bloggers we forget to tell people about the other spaces we occupy. Today, tell your readers about your social media spaces, and any other places you can be found.
Now, I have embraced the whole social networking scene right from what was, for me, the beginning.  Friends Reunited.  I loved that site!  It was such fun to contact people I hadn't seen or heard of for years.  It was the first way of reaching out to people and find them easily.  I reconnected with quite a few people from school and it was really lovely to share what we've all been up to in the last forty years.  We can't have been left school that long, can we?  Oh blimey, yes it is that long next year.  How did I get to be so old? 
Anyway, I digress (as is often the way of people of my advanced age)it was a quick hop, skip and a jump to Facebook.  I signed up for that when my daughter's friend went on a gap year after leaving school in 2004.  She said she would post photos of her travels on there and suggested that I join so I could see them too.  I know that Facebook was never really intended for anyone of my generation but we seem to be quite prolific there nowadays.  When they suspended my account for a few weeks due to some internal error a couple of years ago I was ridiculously upset.  I would see a friend who would talk about something that was being shared on there and I felt like a child who's not allowed to join in the fun in the playground. As it seemed impossible to find out how to fix it I ended up making a second account, a day later they admitted their mistake and reinstated my old one!  If you know me on my blog and we're not friends yet on Facebook, please do add me, I'm easy to find, just so long as you remember that my surname is Keyworth.  As their are two accounts, one with the name Deb and one with Debbie please choose the right (original) one!
 
'Join twitter' someone said to me 'it's amazing what's on there' and sure enough I discovered several tweeters (twits?) that I knew and it sure is a good way of finding out if there are problems on the trains!  I'm not much of a tweeter, but regularly check people who do.
'Text messaging is so old fashioned Mum' I was told as one of my children downloaded Whatsapp for me on my phone and the other one set up an account for me.  Now I use it on a daily basis, and it's great to be able to send photos for free.  Plus you get some really cute emojis. If I choose my 'frequently used' you'll see these
 
Does this tell you something about the messages I send?  I love the fact I can set up groups and send one message to several people.
Instagram.  I love Instagram.  It's probably my most checked app on my phone.  Although I do see more plates of food than is necessary for someone on Slimming World, it's such a fab way of photo sharing and I love using it.  That was probably the reason why I was sad when I couldn't access Facebook, as they own Instagram I was locked out of that too.  I think I missed Instagram most!  If you use it too, please befriend me there -  I'm debs14 - I can offer lots of pictures of a cute dog and once Rinda's Scavenger Hunt is underway I will be posting my finds there.
 
But here's the thing.  I like to keep all these things separate.  I don't link any account to any other.  You won't see my blog details on Facebook and I don't tweet about it either.  I don't know why, I just don't share my blog around. I'm more than happy to have people add me as a friend on any of those networks, if you see my name please say hello - but you'll never see a 'on my blog today ...' status update. 
Do you think I should share the blog around?  Do you link everything to every other thing?  Let me know, maybe it's time for change! 

Friday 29 May 2015

Lessons learnt

We're so close to the finishing line of blogging Every day in May now and today Cate has asked us what this month has taught us. Well the most obvious one is that:
  • Once I set my mind to something and commit to doing it by saying it out loud in my blog - I can do it!  I won't say I've found it easy to do, as I have it in mind that I started this blog as a method of sharing scrapbooking work etc and I haven't actually had much crafty 'stuff' to share. 
  • I've also found that I don't need to make a patchwork quilt just to write a blog post!  There are other things to write about and share.
  • I've learnt that it is handy to have prompts and suggestions as to what to write about.  This has kept me on the straight and narrow, even if some days I haven't felt the love for the subject choice.  So I guess I also learnt that ...
  • Sometimes it's good to step out of your comfort zone; it's amazing how you can make a blog post even when you thought you had nothing to say
  • I've also learnt that writing blog posts in advance and then scheduling them to post automatically is a brilliant way to post every day.  You can set aside time when you aren't busy to at least start something off that you can add to later.  It hasn't been hard to set aside time to do that and it has really paid off.
  • But the biggest lesson is that I do still enjoy blogging.  My posts had become few and far between but I think this has kick-started me into being a more frequent blogger and maybe joining back in with some of the memes that I used to enjoy but somehow drifted away from.
I am really pleased I've joined in this month and blogged Every day in May.  I am quite 'chuffed' that I've managed to do it.  Thanks for sharing my month with me.  Just two more days to go!

Thursday 28 May 2015

Collection

Today Cate has asked us to share a blog post on things we collect.  Being a 'born-again de-clutterer' (it'll never last) I don't really have a collection to share with you. 
The only thing closest to something I collect would be my little penguins, but I only have a few and I don't have them on display together anywhere so I'm not sure it counts.  There is of course the infamous penguin who got up to all manner of adventures when I went to the Eclectic Keepsake crops.  He never quite got over his kidnapping though and is happy standing guard in the dining room nowadays.


I am drawn to anything with a picture of a penguin on it and they are my favourite zoo animal.  It's not because I share many characteristics with them, I don't like swimming out of my depth, I wouldn't last long in a cold climate although I do like a nice fish supper.
When I was little I would collect key rings.  I had a huge collection and it was a well known family fact that as soon as we went anywhere that had a gift shop, I would be coming home with a new key ring.  I had a particular liking for anything that had my star sign on so there were quite a few with Pisces fishes.  Is there a connection with that any my later penguin phase I wonder?

Talking of collecting, the work going on in my kitchen means that the rest of the house is collecting dust.  Not sure that I want to encourage that kind of collection though!
Do you have something that you collect?

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Take your daughter to work


Well, would you believe it?  It's day 26 of blogging Every day in May, and I'm still hanging in there!  For today's prompt Cate has asked us to share a memory from childhood and I've really delved back into the past.  Back to when I was about 7 or 8, in the mid 1960s.
My dad owned his own business and as a treat, in the holidays I would sometimes go into work with him.  The company was called South Eastern Stationery and he made and sold many diverse things to companies, mostly office related.  These were the days before computers and printers and photocopiers being common place in an office.  If you wanted headed notepaper, you had to order it from a printers.  None of this designing and printing in house!  There was a whole room of machinery which was mostly printing presses.  I had to keep well out of there!
I would be given my own little 'office' in a spare room and had a desk and chair, telephone and of course I could just go into the store room and pick up all manner of papers and pens.  It was an Aladdin's cave of stationery treasures and how my imagination ran wild in my own little office.
He didn't just sell office supplies though, he had really obscure contracts too.  He did a lot of work for Ferguson who made televisions and record players etc.  One of the contracts was for speaker cabinets and in order to muffle any tinny noise, the speakers had to be filled with a kind of chopped up foam pieces.  So to keep me busy one time, I was given the job of stuffing stockinette bags with foam pieces, then tying the tops to hold it all in so it was ready to go in a speaker cabinet. 
I had a whale of a time although in all truthfulness I probably didn't make too many bags because I discovered that if you ran across the room and jumped into the pile of foam, it was a great feeling.  You sank down into it and then bounced back up, climbed out, ran across the room and did the same thing.  Over and over again. Until it was time to come home.  Dad came in the room, took one look at me and I could tell from his face that something was wrong.
You see, this was the 60s and the fashionable fabric for clothes was something like crimplene.  A really synthetic fabric that attracts other synthetic materials like a magnet.  Especially nylon foam.  I was quite literally covered in foam from head to foot.  My dress had a layer of foam sticking to it and once two synthetic fabrics have stuck together it is very hard to separate them.  Even my legs were covered, due to the fact that I was wearing some lovely thick nylon tights.  Lovely new tights that matched the colour of my lovely new dress.  Dad had taken me to work looking like an advert for a children's fashion shop and brought me home looking like a reject from a toy stuffing company. 
We tried ever so hard to get the foam unstuck from my clothes but it was no good, it refused to budge.  When we got home my Mum was not amused!  Something about brand new dresses and tights being ruined.  And strangely enough, future visits to Dad's work place were confined to the little office.

Monday 25 May 2015

Me on a stressful Monday

My kitchen is being ripped out tomorrow which is why today sees me doing this



 
Emptying every cupboard and shelf, and once the cupboard is bare, removing the door handle so it can be reused on the new units.  Also a show of progress, no handle = one more cupboard or drawer emptied.  15 down and two to go ...
They are literally gutting the room, every tile will be gone, the beams are going and the ceiling being replaced. Apparently the doors into the kitchen will be sealed up to keep the dust contained so we are having to decamp to the dining room for tea/coffee making and microwaved meals.  So my dining room looks like this

It reminds me of the self service breakfast area of a seaside bed and breakfast hotel! Only with less choice! 
Needless to say it's been a weekend of tidying and boxing up.  Decision making - I've not seen that piece of Tupperware for 10 years, do I really need to keep it?  Planning - how many microwave meals can we have before we give in and ring for a takeaway?  De-cluttering - oh I am not good at that! Trying to sneak things into the 'keeping but going up in the loft' box, discovering little treasures at the back of units, a few 'best mum in the world' mugs and things made out of glue, paint and pasta.  Souvenirs from holidays.  Silly things that hold too many memories to discard.
It's nice to have a break in proceedings to give a wave to Sian who suggested meeting up each Monday.  I'd offer you a cup of coffee but I can't remember where I've put the kettle ...


Sunday 24 May 2015

If you know the extension you require, dial it now

Cate has given us a day off today where we can blog anything we want.  Anything.
So as it's half term, I'm going to share a school related secret.  Parents can be annoying.  I'm sure that no one reading this would ever think to ring up their children's school and ask ridiculous questions, or demand to speak to a teacher at 11am.  There's a clue in the name of a teacher, at 11am they will probably be teaching! You wouldn't ring up to make excuses for your child's phone being confiscated because it went off in a lesson 'oh that was only me ringing her to let her know that it will be Grandma picking her up tonight and not me'  Why would you do that?  When you know your child isn't supposed to have her phone switched on in school. Or maybe asking for an extension to the homework deadline because they 'went to the cinema last night and got home late so she was too tired to do it.' Or could we hold up the English exam because their daughter had overslept and wouldn't be able to get into school for 9am.  
 
So with very much tongue in cheek, someone made a spoof memo which read as follows:
 
To help the staff in the office handle their work more efficiently, we are considering the following new phone message:
" Hello, you have reached the automated answering service of your school.  In order to assist you in connecting to the right person, please listen to all the options before making a selection:
  • To lie about why your child is absent - press 1
  • To make excuses for why your child did not do his work - press 2
  • To complain about what we do - press 3
  • To swear at staff members - press 4
  • To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter, on the school website and several emails we sent you - press 5
  • If you want us to raise your child - press 6
  • If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone - press 7
  • To request a different teacher, for the third time this year - press 8
  • To complain about the bus company which is nothing to do with the school - press 9
  • To complain about the choice your child makes in the school canteen - press 0
  • If you realise this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behaviour, class work, homework and that it's not the teacher's fault for your child's lack of effort: Please hang up and have a nice day."
You would be amazed at the calls we get.  Sometimes we just sit back and think 'did she really just say that?' - like the lady who rang to say that she'd noticed from the online canteen payment records that her daughter was choosing to eat pasta and salad every day and could we try to encourage her to eat something different?  or the one whose daughter was in hospital for a minor op and was worrying about it.  Could Mrs X (her favourite teacher) please go to the hospital to reassure her? 
We have 1200 students in our school and 99% of our parents are reasonable, sensible people.  As for the others ...
 

Saturday 23 May 2015

Pinning

Oh Cate, what have you done?  The prompt for today's posting is to share 10 pinners that we follow on Pinterest.  What can I say?
Pinterest and I have had a tempestuous relationship.  We met, fell in love, saw each other nearly every day, sometimes several times a day and then I felt like I needed to take time out.  Time to see other people because Pinterest just became too needy.  Whenever I was on the internet, it was 'Pin me' 'Pin me' and I'd give in, open up Pinterest and ... next thing I knew an hour had passed.  There was only one thing to do, give each other space, see other websites - you know the drill.
So now Cate has put us back together and after the initial 'hey, haven't seen you in ages, come on let's meet up and see how things go' I was reminded how useful I found Pinterest and how fascinating it was to see things that other people had found too (who knew that baking soda could clean up so many things? Got a splinter in your finger?  Baking soda.  Descale your bathroom tiles?  Baking soda.  Un-tarnish silver?  You've got it!)But here's the ground rules Pinterest - there is to be no more spending hours together.  Well, apart from checking out the pinners that Cate's merry band of bloggers have found obviously.
 
I'm going to try to choose a variety of pinners that I don't think you would have found.
  • Well, apart from this one - Julie Kirk. Nearly 2000 pins!  Pop over there and have a look for yourself but don't blame me if you spend the next hour or so browsing because she sure has a great variety of things going on over there.
  • Anybody out there interested in Eurovision?  Well the following young lady, Susanna who is also the daughter of one of my friends, is in the backing group for the Belgian entry tonight.  She is a pinner to look at if you know anyone who is planning a wedding. Lots of hairstyle ideas, bouquets etc.  Make a note of her name, she's a seriously talented singer/songwriter/actress.  
  • My son's girlfriend Sophie has some interesting pins on her boards.  Check out the ideas she had for her mum's wedding cake.  Sophie makes the most amazing cakes! 
  • If you're looking for handy hints, or ideas of things to do with the kids, look no further than Angela
  • Another daughter of a friend is Erica.  Quite a wide variety of pins here and certainly a few places I wouldn't have visited left to my own devices.
Now I was supposed to share 10.  But to be honest, the others that I would have chosen have probably been shared all over the place so I will leave it at 5.  After all, don't forget, me and Pinterest did have a long break up.  We have a lot of catching up to do ...

Friday 22 May 2015

Family favourites

Today I'm back following Cate's list of things to use to Blog Every Day in May.  I love to cook and so sharing a favourite recipe that needs no measuring out, you can just make it up as you go along and doesn't need writing down, isn't a tough thing to do.
It's based around a Mary Berry recipe for 'all in one' chicken but around here it's known as Tray Bake Chicken.
So, for the easiest, tastiest recipe that anyone can adapt.  Feel free to freestyle as you wish but the basic idea is
 
Chicken thighs
Chicken legs
Onion (quartered)
Thick sliced chorizo
Potatoes - peeled and cut into 2" cubes
Garlic
 
Pre heat oven to 180 degrees.  Put all ingredients in a tray, cut up a lemon and squeeze it over everything then throw the squeezed lemon in with it too.  Pour a drizzle of olive oil over everything.
Put tray in oven.
Go and read some blogs for 30 minutes.
Chop up some courgettes and add those to the pan with a handful of olives. 
Put back in oven for about 25 mins.
 
Done!  I tend to serve it with some thin green beans or some broccoli but basically, everything you need is in the pan.  The juices are quite delicious as the oil seeps out of the chorizo while it's cooking and mixes with the lemon juice.
 

Thursday 21 May 2015

Freestyling

In the absence of a 'proper' camera to review - I'm going to freestyle today's Every Day in May post.
Except that left to my own devices I'm not sure what to blog about.  You see the planning of the new kitchen means that my spare time has either been spent shopping, researching or ordering kitchen related things and I haven't had chance to throw myself into anything crafty. 
So I'm going to get my inspiration from Sian who likes a good list and can make a fascinating scrapbook page from things she jots down.  So now my only dilemma is what list I can use.  I could show you my list of things I've had to organise/buy for the above mentioned kitchen but honestly, when I start adding things up it gets a bit worrying so in the interests of my sanity let's not go there!
Let me tell you a bit about my yesterday.  It was my day off so it's a good day to choose:
What I wore - navy and lilac tunic over navy cropped trousers.  Lilac suede ballet pumps which purely coincidentally matched exactly the colour in my tunic.  Don't you love it when that happens?! (I love it because it rarely does happen)
What I saw - the chef from one of our local restaurants doing a demonstration of prosciutto wrapped whole camembert baked in brioche, and lobster 'mac and cheese'.
What I ate - samples of the dishes he cooked (boy oh boy oh boy, were they both delicious) plus a tasting of four English Artisan Cheeses.  If you ever see any of these in a deli - buy them, you won't be disappointed!  College White from the Oxford Cheese Company, Devon Blue from the Ticklemore Cheese Company (worth buying just for the name of the company alone!) Old Winchester from Lyburn Farmhouse and Barkham Blue from the Two Hoots Cheese company.

Don't they serve things beautifully in restaurants? When I offer a cheese board at home it never looks as pretty as this!
I have a confession to make. 
What I did when I got home - In the afternoon I paid for my oven to be professionally cleaned. I've never done that before, always thought it was a bit extravagant but I didn't want to have it installed in the new units in a less than pristine condition and it was somewhat {ahem} unloved. You should see it now! Showroom clean. Needless to say I won't be using it much in the next few weeks. I predict a lot of stir fries. I have to say that it was worth every penny that it cost to have done.  Oven cleaning, right up there with ironing in the list of household chores I don't like!
How would your Wednesday list look?

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Where I work

The prompt for today from Cate was to share your work place.  This did not really inspire me but I am determined to keep up with this whole Blog Every Day in May malarkey!  So here I am -
Let me introduce you to the wonderful world of where I work.
It's a secondary school which is girls only for age 11 - 16 and then a mixed sixth form. We've got about 1200 students and I work in the main office as a secretary. There are several buildings on our site, some date back more than 100 years, then several others that have been added on in between so it's a real random mix of styles.
I'm in the main office along with 5 other ladies. We all work different hours on different days and I do feel pretty lucky that they are a great group of girlies. I thought about photographing my desk, but we have to work in a 'clear desk' environment (quite a challenge for a messy person like me!) and there's not much to photograph! A keyboard, a monitor and a few files, trust me, you aren't missing much!  I'm not sure what the benefits of working in a 'clear desk' environment but the Head went to visit a school where the office was pristine and you can guess the rest ...
Cate suggested we share information about how we personalise our space.  But in a tidy desk, there's no room for personal bits and pieces.  I also think that it would be frowned upon as not being professional.  "Why's that?" you ask, well - Years ago (when we had a different Head) I had a calendar of Brad Pitt on my noticeboard and my colleague next to me had George Clooney.  We were asked to remove them as (and I quote) if the girls come into the office and see them - it gives a bad impression that looks are important. Honestly!  Good job she never ventured into the Head of Art's storeroom then, as she had the same calendar I had except she had scanned it and then photoshopped her own face onto every page so it looked like he was looking at her longingly or standing next to her or - let's just say that some were more inventive than others! So to say my work space is boring is an understatement. 
I don't even have a dedicated crafty workspace at home - if I do sewing I move my sewing machine to the dining room and use the table there.  Since we redecorated the study, that's looking scarily like a clear desk too as we haven't got round to putting pictures etc back on the walls.
So apologies for not having much to say today, and apologies to Cate in advance because I'm going to have to freestyle tomorrow's post as I'm supposed to be reviewing my camera.  I only have a little old point and shoot, I leave the 'proper' photography to my husband and I mainly use my iphone!  I will be back - but don't expect photography tips!

Tuesday 19 May 2015

From the archives

Still joining in with Cate's idea of Blogging Every Day in May and today we are asked to look through the archives again.  If I go to June 2013 I find this, which seems very appropriate as it relates to Cate!


So I was sitting in the pub with Deb, Carrie, Karen, Alison and Denise (whoever would have thought I would be able to start a blog post like that!) and Deb had a 'lightbulb' moment and suggested planning a bloggy baby shower for Cate.  Now, I've never been to a baby shower - they're a new fangled American idea which wasn't around in the olden days when I had my children - so this is very exciting for me! 
The idea is for us to design and make a page or two to put in an album and leave space for Cate to add a photo once her new little girl arrives.  So I have chosen to make a page based on the rhyme 'what are little boys made of? Snips and snails and puppy dog tails.  What are little girls made of?  Sugar and spice and all things nice.'

Cate is known as Purple Crazy Mum so there are a few purple pieces on the layout. A couple of flowers and some glass beads. Oh, and I inked around the edges of the pages with a purple ink.
Cate already has twice as many children as me so I don't think there's any advice I can give that she doesn't already know! However, the first thing people associated with new babies is sleep - or lack of it. My daughter was awful at going off to sleep, my son could fall asleep easily and for long periods of time.  Maybe he was just a sleepy baby, or maybe I learnt from my mistakes first thing round!  One of the best bits of advice I was given was not to rock your baby to sleep in your arms and then lay them down to sleep in their cot.  Because even the most drowsy baby will wake up when you make that move, no matter how careful you are.  I read somewhere that it would be like us falling asleep in a soft, comfortable, warm bed with someone we love close to us, and then waking up and finding yourself alone and asleep in a totally different room.  We wouldn't like it would we?  And neither do babies so if you can get to a routine of putting them to bed, slightly awake in their cot from the early days they get used to that routine and if they wake in the night, you only need to go and comfort them without picking them up.  They learn that their cot is their safe place.

So, that's my one bit of advice and will now share a story of my babyhood.   See, when I was born in 1958, Dads didn't share the whole birthing scenario.  You took your wife to hospital, then waited for a nurse to tell you that your baby was born and you went back to visit.  Babies didn't stay in the ward with their mums either, they were looked after in a nursery and brought to their mum when they needed feeding.  So, apparently Dad had the call to say I had been born and he drove to the hospital with my big sister to come and meet me.  They gave their names to the nurse, along with another dad who arrived at the same time.  The nurse went off to the nursery to fetch the babies and returned with a baby cradled in each arm.  'Urgh, I hope ours isn't the ginger one.' said my sister.  Sigh.  Not the best introduction to the newest member of the family eh?  I do hope that Cate's children are more welcoming to their new sister!

Well, much as it's been great to have you visit, I think it's time to head on over to Deb's blog to see who else in joining in ... (although due to the time difference it may be a little early, so if there is nothing showing up please do return later!)

Monday 18 May 2015

Me on The Monday That I Have to Wear a Sarong to Work

I bet no one else spends a Monday at working dressed like this


Honestly the things I have to do! It's the day where I stand on stage in front of 160 Year 10 girls to demonstrate what is inappropriate clothing for work experience. The idea being that my work colleague is showing how you can misunderstand a situation - "I told Mrs Keyworth that it would be hot in the hall and to dress accordingly and she turned up like this" we then go on to explain how black trousers are fine but black leggings are not, knee length skirts are fine but mini skirts aren't etc. which means that not only am I on stage in a sarong which is held up with one knot but I am also holding up examples of clothing which could, let's be honest, end up a disaster! It's also probably the coldest, wettest and windiest day of May ever so a sarong is totally inappropriate! 
Our weekend flew by. A weekend of searching and finding. Searching for a sink and taps - it shouldn't be so hard should it? But I think we've sorted it and to be honest, I'm a bit bored now and am of the opinion that if it holds water and has a place to drain plates and it's less than £200 it's fine.
Finding that friends who we haven't seen for ages are such good friends that we picked up from where we left off. We first met at ante natal classes 29 years ago and were really close until they moved away about 10 years ago but through the wonders of Facebook we've got back in touch. 
Searching for flip flops that had been put away at the end of summer, and finding them in a bag of umbrellas, how did they end up there?
Searching for an old faithful tiramisu recipe and finding it in a long forgotten Delia Smith book at the back of the bookcase.
Searching for boxes to pack up the contents of the kitchen cabinets and um, not finding anything suitable. Still searching on that one!
How's your weekend looking? I'd give up a wave to Sian, but I'm worried the knot on my sarong mIght come undone if I move too much ;-)

Sunday 17 May 2015

Wise words

Cate has asked us to share a quote today and I've decided to go with one that is dog related:

Saturday 16 May 2015

What are you reading?

That's the question asked by Cate today.
It's kind of topical at the moment too, as the librarian at the school where I work is organising a photo competition to show people reading in unusual places.  Staff have been asked to join in too - so here's me in the dog's bed ...
 
I'm reading Six Years by Harlan Coban.  It's intriguing but my problem is that I've only been reading it before I go to sleep at night and recently I've been so tired by the time I get into bed that I'm only reading a few pages at a time so I don't feel like I'm really getting into the story properly.  I need to either a) go to bed earlier or b) read in the evening rather than watch tv!
 
I'm also reading this month's Good Housekeeping magazine, trying to get inspiration for what to cook this Sunday when my mother in law is here for lunch.  She does like a good traditional dinner and I like to make the effort when she is here because I'm not convinced that she eats that well during the week when she's on her own.  Mind you, at 88, it's amazing that she still manages to cook for herself.  It's the only day of the week that I make a dessert, usually something from the freezer or a yoghurt has to suffice!  So I've got my eyes on a rather delicious looking 'Wimbledon Cup' trifle in the recipe pages.
 
There's also a pile of brochures for kitchen equipment that I'm working my way through.  The new kitchen starts in 2 weeks and I need to order everything else now.  We're not replacing all the equipment but a new gas hob is needed and we're also going to have integrated dishwasher and microwave so the old ones have got to go.  Who knew there was so much choice for sinks and taps?  The shopping list is growing daily.  We're still within budget though - just!
 
I'm starting to think about which books to take with me on my summer holiday in August - do you have a 'must read' book that you think I'll like?  I seem to have got in a routine of reading psychological thrillers so maybe I need to go back to something a bit lighter!
I'm looking forward to browsing blogs to see what others are reading this week.
Over half way through Blogging Every Day in May - I've surprised myself!

Friday 15 May 2015

If I were a millionaire

I bought a lottery ticket on Friday for the Euromillions draw.  I woke up on Saturday with an email from National Lottery telling me that I needed to log into my account as my ticket was a winner.  It had matched one number with one lucky star and I had won ... £6.40.  Not quite enough to change my life!  But supposing it had been a million?  Well ... coincidentally, that's what today's prompt is on the Blog every day in May challenge!
  • I don't want a big country house in the middle of nowhere.  I like where I live and now it's just the two of us, we really don't need anywhere larger. I'd definitely pay off that last bit of mortgage though. I think I'd give our daughter some money to move to a larger house and the same amount to our son to get him on the property ladder.  I've probably spent half my million now haven't I?
  • I'm not one for ostentatious cars and I love my mini which is only a year old and my husband is happy with his new car so I don't think a garage showroom will be seeing my money!
  • We're about to completely refurbish our kitchen so maybe instead of making do with our existing equipment, I'd go mad and buy a new cooker, fridge freezer etc.
  • It wouldn't take me long to decide that I'd give up my job.  I only do 22 hours a week and I could easily put aside the equivalent of 8 years salary to see me to retirement.
  • Thinking about my wardrobe and how I tend to make clothes last as long as possible in order to 'get my money's worth', I would probably have a little retail therapy.
  • I can't think of a better place in which to think about what to spend the rest of the money on than a sunlounger in the sunshine in Italy.  In fact I think I'd take quite a few more trips to Italy!  There's still a lot to see and it will be great to be able to go outside of school holidays as I wouldn't be working at a school!
  • There are a few charities which are dear to me and I would like to think that some of my winnings would be put to good use by donating some to them.
Turns out I don't have very ostentatious desires at all!  It is true to say that I am so fortunate in that I am content with my life as it is and whilst that million would of course be very welcome, I don't think I'd make too many radical changes.
Of course, spending that £6.40 didn't take very long at all!
 

 
 

Thursday 14 May 2015

How to ...

... Tie a sports trainer properly.
Today's prompt from Cate is to write a 'how to ...' post.  I'm not going to lie, I was struggling to know what to do with this one but then on Monday I saw a hint on Facebook which made me realise that if I didn't know how to do it, maybe some other people don't either!
Ok, I know we all know how to tie a shoelace, but on Monday I learnt how to tie my trainers properly and now I'm worried that I was the only person who didn't know this.  Bear with me!
1. So you know that little extra hole there is at the top of a trainer? The one you never use? Turns out it's really there for a reason. And that reason is to stop the heels rubbing or your toe slipping forward and crushing your toenails when/if you run. (If everyone else already knows this I am going to be SO embarrassed)

2. Lace trainer as normal but when you get to the top take the lace and thread it backwards through that hole so it makes a loop. Do the same to the other side
3. Now take the end of the left lace and thread it through the right hand loop, then the same on the other side.
4. Pull both laces as tight as you can so the loop closes down over the lace. Pull down, not up as you need the loop to close completely and tightly.
When it is as firm as possible, tie lace as normal. 
I was so surprised how much firmer this held the trainer in place.  I don't think it's going to make me run marathons but it will certainly help keep my trainers done up in my Fitsteps class tonight.  ( I seem to be the only one in the room who has to stop to re-tie their shoe lace half way through the class)
 
Apologies if you knew this before, and there is a better explanation by video here!


 
Still Blogging Every Day in May with Cate!

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Wordless Wednesday


Joining in with Cate's idea to Blog Every Day in May

Tuesday 12 May 2015

A letter to my daughter

I'm still blogging Every Day in May - 11 days done so far, fingers crossed I can keep going!  Todays prompt is to write a letter to someone and just as Cate is writing to her daughter, I shall write to mine -
Dear R,
I am so pleased that you are in a good phase of your life right now.  It hasn't been an easy journey getting here and you have far more resilience that you give yourself credit for.  I am so proud of the way you have faced your battles and grown in more ways than you realise.
You know that saying about 'kissing a few frogs before you meet your prince?'  Well it turns out it was right doesn't it?  What happened to you a few years ago was horrendous and it is understandable that it has taken you a while to learn to trust and love again.  Everyone's lives move at different speeds and I know you struggle sometimes when you compare where you are with where you see some of your friends. 
You are just beginning to realise that not everyone lives a totally blissful life and that your friends are sometimes putting on a brave face to present a show of perfect relationships.  We all do it.  We all smile and say 'yes I'm fine' even though sometimes we aren't. 
Try not to worry so much!  Easier said than done I know but sometimes you do dwell on the worst case scenario and waste enjoying today by worrying about tomorrow.  You are young - go out there, have fun and deal with tomorrow when it gets here!
You have so many talents that you brush off, I wish you realised how much people admire what you can do. Such determination; when you decide to do something you move mountains to do it.  I have never known you to quit, even when the going has been hard.  You have an inner strength which not everyone has.  You don't realise it and are your own worst critic.  Stop it!  Be as proud of yourself as we are of you.
We have loved you from the moment we saw you and will never stop.

Monday 11 May 2015

Me on the Monday after my sister's birthday

On Monday's Sian invites us to share a picture of what we are doing.  This Monday I'm trying to undo a little bit of the damage of the weekend.  It was a weekend of food and drink. An Indian takeaway with four other friends on Friday night, then to our local pub for Sunday lunch with all my family to celebrate my sister's birthday, then back to ours for cake.
This means that my healthy eating regime is well and truly gone to pot. Although if you have to be naughty, having a slice of Lorraine Pascal's recipe for Malteser cake is the best way to fall off the wagon!
Which is why Monday finds me having this for lunch

Trying to start the week afresh.  Good intentions, funny how often they start on a Monday and then um ... finish Monday night!
'Twas a good weekend though, the sun shone beautifully yesterday afternoon which meant that when everyone came back to our house for birthday cake, we could sit in the garden and relax nicely.  The children all played nicely and I didn't hear any tears or tantrums.  Not even from the adults!  The nieces played beautifully with my mum's old fashioned telephone and set up a school office on the landing.  Paper, pencils, a hole punch and a lined pad saw them engrossed for ages.  The nephews ran off their energy with a rugby ball and Coco kept the troops entertained by her version of fetch.  Which involves a human throwing a tennis ball, Coco haring off round the garden at 90mph running rings round the ball then returning to the human with a quizzical look as if to say 'what happened to that ball?'.
It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday and due to the vast amount of housework that was done in preparation for guests, I have an exceptionally clean and tidy house to start the week in!  Happy days!
 


Sunday 10 May 2015

Things my mother taught me

Sometimes when I am chatting to my kids I stop and listen to myself and hear my Mum.  Comments, expressions, even the way I laugh.  Things that I'm sure I vowed never to say, somehow creep into conversations. How did that happen?

By losing my mum quite suddenly, I think the biggest thing she taught me was to never take it for granted that someone will be there. When bringing up my children I often found myself wondering what advice she would give me when I found myself in a situation where I didn't know which way to turn.  So it's not easy to say which is the biggest lesson she taught me.  She had so many pearls of wisdom, even though they weren't always what I thought I wanted to hear!
She was from a generation where women gave up their jobs when they had children and their job was housekeeper and full time mum.  She would always do the housework in the morning, then without fail, she would get changed, do her hair and put on a bit of lipstick.  Her mantra was 'always look your best'.  I try to remember that but I guarantee that on the days I don't, the days when I don't feel 100% and pop round to the supermarket in my jogging bottoms and fleece, with my hair needing a bit of a wash and face totally devoid of even a swipe of mascara - they're the times I'll bump into a friend.  Usually the kind of person who always looks immaculate, one I haven't seen for a while and one who leaves me wanting to say 'I don't always look like this - you've caught me on a bad day!'. 
I probably adapt this advice in other ways too.  Not just 'looking your best' but trying your best, and trying to find the best in a bad situation.  It can be a tough lesson to put into practice but if you can do it, it does help to have a positive attitude.
     

Saturday 9 May 2015

Top Ten

 
The only reason I started a blog was because I signed up for a scrapbooking class with Shimelle and I needed a blog in which to share pages that I made.  Naturally I toyed with the idea a lot before I actually did it - I mean, come on, who was going to read my ramblings?  Little did I know that starting that blog, this blog, would introduce me to so many lovely people who would end up inspiring me in so many ways.  The whole scrapbooking thing has gone by the by now but the blog keeps blogging!
It's hard to pick the top ten blogs that I follow because there are far more than ten on my following list and I've debated how to display those I choose because I don't want to feel that I am rating them by the order in which I share them!  So I think I'm going to just choose at random.
Obviously I follow Cate's blog. She's the reason I'm blogging every day in May!  My goodness how I've seen Cate's family life change over the years and I really admire how she adapts and copes with changes.  Her blog is full of varied subjects and I have a naturally affinity with her as we share the same birthday!
I've followed and joined in so many projects that have been the brainchild of Sian. She has some fabulous ideas and a way of getting so many people to join in her memes.  I love her style of writing and I imagine that if we weren't divided by the Irish sea, we might just become friends in real life. 
Someone who does live closer to me, yet we've never met is Ruth. Again, her blog is never the same two days running and I love the way she mixes snippets of her life with scrapbooking pages and tales of her family.  A keen sender of 'Happy Mail' she is a thoughtful and genuine person.
Let's hop across the pond for the next blog.  Here we find Deb, my namesake, who is affectionately known as Deb Turtle!  I've been fortunate enough to meet her in real life even though she lives in Arizona and she was every bit as sweet and interesting as her blog led me to believe! Her blog has shared some very different subjects over the years and led to the formation of Team Teal when her mum was fighting cancer.  She's inspired me on many occasion and her love for yoga at the moment makes me wish I had a better sense of balance so that I could experience the peace and relaxation of a yoga class.
If you're looking for a quirky, original style of blog, look no further than Julie. I've joined in with a few of her memes too, although I've fallen off the My Month in Numbers recently.  Her series of 'The Push Up Bra Approach to Blogging' was fantastic and one of those things I could easily read over again.
The youngest blogger that I read is Abi. I am thoroughly enjoying my patchwork and it was Abi who inspired me to have a go.  So, indirectly she's also responsible for my friend Mandy being obsessed with patchwork as she came round to see me one day when I was sewing and she was hooked too! Abi manages to mix a variety of crafting around a busy university life, and also introduced a series of memes like 'One Photo in Twenty Words'.
So while we are discussing sewing I need to share Fiona's blog. Fiona contacted me just over a year ago to ask if I was interested in joining in with a Friendship Quilt and I absolutely loved that project.  She's not just a talented lady with a sewing machine though, pop over and see for yourself.
Have you ever popped over to see Alexa's blog? I love her style of scrapbooking, even though I have never tried digital work myself, seeing her lovely pages makes me wish we had photoshop on our computer!  She was behind the 'Simply a Moment' meme which had us all taking a moment out of a busy day to share the little things that we were seeing, feeling, hearing at that moment. 
I guess many of us Brits have a dream of living in the sunshine in a relaxed, European way of life and I enjoy reading Alison's blog. Life in the Slow lane really does sum up that part of the world. 
I end with my dear friend Denise. Who introduced me to scrapbooking, suggested I take the Shimelle course and made me start my blog.  She's someone who I have to tell off from now and again as she doesn't update her blog as often as she should!  She's so talented with her scrapbooking and card making - to the extent that she demonstrates her work on the TV channel Create & Craft. 
I hope that you may find a couple of new blogs in that list although I suspect that many of these are already on your own reading list.  I found it hard to choose just ten so apologies if I haven't included yours - I tried to choose a variety of blogs working on those updated most recently! I'm looking forward to finding some new ones through reading posts linked to this meme!


Friday 8 May 2015

And I'm feeling good

Nina Simone sums it all up

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin' on by you know how I feel.
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life for me yeah
It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me
 And I'm feeling good
 
Cate's prompt is Where do I go to when I want to feel good? In an ideal world I'd be sitting under a sun umbrella in the sunshine, sipping prosecco and watching the world go by somewhere in Italy.  Lake Garda would do nicely.  There's something so relaxing about it, the world is going about its business, the water is lapping on the shoreline and the pace of life has slowed beautifully.
In reality, although Stansted airport is just 8 miles down the road, I can't just hop on a plane any time I want so where else is my 'happy place' that I can get to easily.  Well, if I have an hour or two to get there I would choose Frinton on Sea or Southwold.  Two very old fashioned, unspoilt places where you can just pack up a picnic, take a blanket to sit on and enjoy the British seaside.  The pace of life is so slow (which is probably why lots of people choose to retire there.  In fact they're both places where I can almost guarantee I'd be referred to as a 'youngster' by the locals)and you can just sit and relax.
If I only have a few minutes to spend on travelling then I am so fortunate to live in a place where the open countryside is literally less than five minutes away.  We have Southern Country Park right behind us and if you venture a little further you are out in open farmland.  No traffic, the only sound is bird song or the bleating of lambs.  A perfect place to clear your head, breath in some good country air and get away from it all.
That's it - I need to step away from the computer and get out and get some of that fresh air.  Where is your feel good place?

Thursday 7 May 2015

Lights, camera, action

I'm not a huge movie fan so this prompt from Cate was not so easy for me.
The first that came to mind was The Talented Mr Ripley.  It's one of the few films I've watched a few times.  Such a clever story line.
There's one film that has become a bit of a tradition to watch and heralds the start of the official Christmas period, and it's Love Actually.  I'm not a huge Hugh Grant fan but there's something about this film that has a feel good factor.
The film that has me imagining I could join in (although let's be honest it could just be the thought of dancing salsa with Patrick Swayze) is Dirty Dancing.  The dancing is so good and it's how I imagine I look when I'm doing salsa at my Fitsteps class on a Thursday night.  (I have a very good imagination)  Actually, let's have a bit of a sing along



Yes, that's exactly how I look at my class - of course it is ☺
The film that still gives me the creeps and meant that I could never buy Rachel a red duffle coat when she was little was Don't look now.  It's looking a bit dated now but when that little character turns round at the end ... goosebumps time.
So for my last choice.  I think I will choose Schindler's List.  What a story.  What a man. 
I'm sure as soon as I click 'publish' I will think of other ones I should have chosen but off the top of my head these are my top five choices.  What would yours be? 



Wednesday 6 May 2015

Foods glorious food


Any other 'Oliver!' fans out there?  When I was little I loved that film and learnt the words to the soundtrack which I listened to over and over and over again.  My family must have loved it when I found a new film to like!
So before we all start up in a rousing verse of 'Hot sausage and mustard, while we're in the mood, cold jelly and custard ...' let me share the kind of things are dished up around here at the moment.
Now it's just Paul and me at home we are able to choose our meals according to what we both really like and not take into consideration other family members' likes and dislikes.  I didn't realise how Rachel and Jon's food preferences changed our menu plans!
We love Italy.  We also love Italian food!  So there is a wide variety of pasta shapes in my cupboards and there is often a ragu bubbling away on the stove.  So many different meals you can make by adapting a good, authentic tomato base.

We try to eat fish at least once a week.   Salmon is the most usual but Paul makes a pretty good fish pie and it's real comfort food.  Soft fish in a creamy sauce with a topping of mashed potato just going crispy on the top.  Lovely!I am a keen cook so I tend to make things from scratch, one of the luxuries of working part time. I'm also trying to get in the habit of buying my meat from the local butcher rather than relying on the supermarkets.  It is a bit more expensive but there really is a difference in flavour.
The meal that drives poor Coco mad is roast chicken.  She practically sits at the oven door watching it cook!  The smell must really do something to her taste buds - and as soon as it is out on the carving board, she is there standing as tall as she can, balancing on her back legs and desperate for little bits of meat while you are carving.
We're not huge takeaway fans but probably eat an Indian takeaway about once a month.  We had a phase of having one nearly every Friday and I think it took the edge off it so now it's more of a treat again!
I wish I could menu plan, I bet it would take £s off my food bills but the most I manage is two days in advance.
I've mentioned in previous posts that I am a member of Slimming World and without wishing to sound like an advert for them, it really is an effective system.  I don't really think of it as a 'diet' just a different way of cooking the same foods.  So I've just adapted my favourite recipes and my days of using cubes of butter have gone, I substitute quark for my creamy sauces and there are many more veggies on the table.
When I was little, you could tell which day of the week it was by what we had for dinner.  Leftovers from Sunday lunch on a Monday, chops on a Tuesday, always fish on a Friday.  Now it's very much a matter of what I fancy cooking when I get home from work!  All this talk of food is making me hungry - what' times dinner?

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Looking back

Today's prompt from Cate is for us to look through the archives and see what was happening on this day in the past.  This was a particularly interesting one for me as exactly one year ago today my daughter rang from work to say she had excruciating stomach pains and was coming home early to try and get to the doctor's walk in clinic.  That pain turned out to be appendicitis, so my archive post from one year ago would have been a picture of the inside of our local A&E department at the hospital!  Wow, that was a post I never guessed I'd be writing!

But one year back isn't enough for Cate - we have to delve further into the archives - the stipulation is at least 2 years.  I wonder what we'll find ...
Two years ago I was taking part in a series of posts that Sian had organised where we had to 'Pick your Precious'  Ready to step into that time machine and go back 24 months.  Sit tight - here we go ...
✾✾✾

Earlier this week - So it's coming up for sharing something precious for Sian's monthly series of Pick your Precious.  What on earth am I going to choose this month?  Oh, it's lovely driving into work on a sunny day.  Driving down the attractively named 'Pig Lane', past the riding stables, horses gently grazing in the fields, trees just coming out in leaf.  The gardens of the cottages are looking lovely as the first bursts of colour appear in the flower beds. 
 
Concentrate Deb, you're supposed to be thinking of something precious to share.  Singing along to the music on the cd.  My goodness I'm tuneful today, my version of No Doubt's 'Don't Speak' has never sounded so good.  I could probably audition for The Voice.  But then which team should I join because clearly all four would turn round.  Tom's a bit old, even for me, and whilst I do like Jessie J, I don't think I'm 'street' enough for her.  So, it's between Will.i.am and Danny. You know what?  I think I'm going to go for Will.i.am. The song moves on to Maroon 5 as I join the main road for the final part of my journey.  Need to think of something precious.  Pull into parking spot.  Turn off engine.  Remove disc from CD player.  And realise I have found my Precious.
 
So this month my precious is a compilation cd that my children made me for Mother's Day years ago.  I asked Rachel what year it was and we think it was about 2002.  It's a mix of songs that were in the charts at that time that I loved, some oldies that are classics and some whose titles were appropriate.  It's absolutely priceless to me and guarantees to put a smile on my face and a tune on my lips.  They put a lot of thought and time into getting it absolutely right and it's worth more to me than all my other cds put together.
They shared the design of the case.  Jon did the inside
 And the cover

 Rachel was given the job of the contents list.  I'll just take a photo of that too.  I've set up a backdrop on the bed to take the photo against.  Get off the bed Coco, I'm trying to take a photo.  Yes I know it looks interesting but I just need you to stay with all four paws on the floor for just a moment.  Off.  Get off.  How many times do I have to tell you?  The sooner you get off the bed, the sooner my photo will be taken and you can get back up there. Good Girl.  Now just stay there while I set the cd case in place again.  That's it, balanced perfectly, now let me pick up my camera again.  Hang on a minute, where's that dog gone?
  Sigh.