Monday 28 March 2016

Memorandum Monday

Turning the tables

I thought that as it was a rather special weekend, it may be fun to give Sian's idea of sharing something we've learnt or tried for the first time since our last meeting a bit of a twist.  After all, I've learnt something momentous so it's only fair that you do too. 
So sit down, put your feet up and I'll begin ...

(Putting my feet up and showing off my finished socks)

We've recently been running some e-safety courses at the school where I work, reminding the girls that not everyone tells the truth on the internet.  Be wary of making new 'friends' on Facebook if you don't actually know these people in real life.  It got me thinking about how much you would learn about me if you only knew me on social media. ( I do tell the truth, in case you were wondering!) 
  • If you check out my Instagram account (Debs14) you'll see that I'm owned by a mischievous Cavapoo called Coco, I enjoy cooking and sewing, am partial to a G&T on a Saturday night, and enjoy trying out new crafts. 
  • If we are friends on Facebook, you will see that I will never get on the Bake Off programme as I am probably the messiest cook in town, my summer cocktail of choice is a Margarita or a Mojito, I work as a secretary in a school, I keep fit by letting Coco take me for a walk and going to Fitsteps classes, I enjoy meeting up with old school friends and love spending time with my family.  If you look at my photos you will see that my favourite holiday destinations are Italy and Portugal.  (You'll never see me advertising the fact that I'm at Stansted Airport about to embark on a week's holiday in the sun as I don't think it's wise to advertise the fact that my house will be empty for seven days, but you may see that I am sadly checking into a foreign airport on the day I'm coming home.)
  • On my blog you'll see a mix of all those things, and know that I enjoy joining in with postcard swaps, blog hops, Summertime Scavenger Hunts and friendship quilts. 

You haven't learnt anything new yet have you?  There must be something about me that you don't know, surely?  Well ... there may be one thing ...  On each of the above things you'll probably deduce that I have a husband, grown up 'kids' - a daughter of 29 and a son of 26.  But here's something very exciting that I've known for a little while and figure it's time to share ... I'm going to be a grandmother!  That makes me feel pretty old I can tell you!  My daughter is expecting a baby in September.  We're all very excited and our wish is that the dreaded morning all day sickness nausea would stop so that she could really enjoy the pregnancy.
So that's a fairly big thing to learn, I hope you'll agree!  But it doesn't quite fit the criteria that Sian laid down does it?  I'm supposed to share something that I learnt.  Well, there was one pretty big thing; on Saturday a 16 week scan detected whether the baby is going to be a boy or a girl.  On the scale of learning new things, I think that rates pretty high! So now we know.  What?  You want me to share?  Oh no, I think we've all learnt quite enough for one week, all will be revealed at a later date!

Monday 21 March 2016

Memorandum Monday

Quite a 'feat'

A sock is finished.  Just one.  So the knitting needles are still out ready to make the next one.  I've learnt a lot along the way; from the basics of juggling several knitting needles at once to how to do a Kitchener stitch to close up the gap at the toe.  Now, although this feels like a huge accomplishment, it's also been a bit of a trial run as I can see where I can make many improvements.  The whole process of how it comes together is clearer now and I can see how it all takes shape.  Let me be the first to tell you that mine are nowhere near as neat and precise as Sian's are!  I need to tighten up my tension, or maybe use a smaller needle and I'd like to have a go at using a circular needle to avoid the slight change in tension where I move from the end of one to the beginning of the other.  Look at me, already planning my next pair!  I liked the fact that it didn't take long to make either, when you only have a few stitches on a needle, the rows soon fly by.  And I also liked the way that there weren't huge lengths of stocking stitch to do as I am easily bored! 

So that's what I've learnt since we last met
Liberation Day
In a moment of madness, I signed up for Liberate Your Art 2016.  I loved the postcard exchange that we did a while ago and thought that this sounded fun too.  I do love receiving Happy Mail!  So after signing up, I wondered what the heck I was going to use for the images on my postcards.  I am rubbish at the drawing/painting side of art, but with a bit of imagination wondered if photos of some of my quilts would be appropriate.  Does sewing constitute art?  Plus a few photographs that I'd taken which I quite liked.  I had them printed, wrote my messages on the back and sent them off before I changed my mind.  So what have I learnt this weekend, now that the first ones from other people have started arriving on my doorstep?  I have learnt that there are a lot of very talented people out there and I fear that the poor people who receive my postcards are going to be a bit disappointed!  I'll know better for next year!
But I wanted to also mention something else that caught my eye this weekend. 


One of the blogs that I follow had an interesting discussion post this weekend.  The blog is called 'A Beautiful Mess' and the post is hereIt's about making friends on the internet.  Something that would once upon a time have been considered a bit odd and I'm not sure that my husband always understands how I can have a friend that I've never met. 
But it's very true that before blogging, your group of friends was limited to the people you met in your own locality.  When I was first married, I met the wife of someone I went to school with who happened to move round the corner to us.  We got together for a meal one evening and found out that we had so much in common.  She became a firm friend and my partner in crime as we discovered various crafts that we wanted to learn.  Oh the fun we had at lace making - we were by far the youngest ones there by about 40 years - and I've never met anyone locally since who would have fancied having a go at some obscure craft.  Her husband very thoughtlessly found a job which involved them moving to the New Forest and although she enjoyed going to evening classes with me and spending Sunday mornings at local craft fairs, her loyalties appeared to be with her husband and she moved away. 
The person who introduced me to blogging was my dear friend Denise, her enthusiasm for scrapbooking was contagious and before I knew it, I'd ordered a scrapbooking kit off QVC, bought various cutters, alphas and glue and was signed up to on online class with Shimelle.  The rest, as they say, is history.  I've 'met' so many people through blogging that I would never have met in real life.  And whilst my scrapbooking mojo packed up and left a couple of years ago, I've discovered other crafts along the way that I would never have had the confidence to try without reading blogs of those who have the same interest.  The pile of quilts that is growing in my lounge is testament to that.  I would never have even thought of trying quilting if I hadn't seen the work that Abi showed on her blog.  And through sharing that on my blog, I took part in the Friendship Quilt project, which in turn meant forging more bonds with fellow bloggers. 
There are people whose blogs I love just because of how they write; their personality shines through and you just know that they are people who would be fun to spend time with.  I love the way a little community forms, to support in times of hardship and also sharing the good times.  They are no less friends than those people we know in real life.  Please do have a look at the Beautiful Mess blog post and let me know what you think!

Wednesday 16 March 2016

You're never too old to learn something new

I love to learn new things.  When something takes my eye that I fancy trying, I am a woman on a mission. 
You've probably guessed from my blog that I'm a keen cook.  Which is why I attend a monthly Cookery Club at a local restaurant.  The chef gives demonstrations on a theme and we watch how to make the dishes and then sample them along with a drink that complements the dish.  Today's theme was chocolate.  Which explains how, by 11 am today I had eaten a double chocolate chip cookie, a slice of dark chocolate and almond torte and two different white chocolate baked cheesecakes.  And a glass of sherry.  Only small portions I have to say, but boy did I not need any lunch when I got home! 
And I was keen to get home because, inspired by Sian , I am trying my hand at knitting socks.  She's showcased some amazing works of art on her blog and she makes it sound like it is a relaxing and rewarding pastime.  Whilst I've knitted quite a lot in the past, I've never tried anything quite like a pair of socks.  I asked Sian for recommendations on wools and general advice and made a list of what I wanted that I could pass it on as part of my birthday 'wish list'. 
So, with a ball of self striping wool and 5 double pointed needles I set myself the task of finding an easy pattern suitable for beginners.  Not so easy as you may think - once you start reading them you realise that some involve language that only an experienced knitter will understand.  After an hour or so, I found one that spoke my language, the pattern was printed off and away I went. 
Have you any idea how awkward it feels to be knitting on 4 needles?  Well if you have ever wondered, it feels very awkward to start with.  After three false starts, I was off.  The tension on the needles was very similar to the tension in my shoulders as I concentrated hard on keeping stitches on needles and wool unknotted.  I was just settling into a bit of new found confidence when Coco decided that the only place in the whole house that she wanted to sit was on my lap.  On top of the wool.  By the time I went to bed, 6 rows of ribbing were looking ok. 
I started afresh the next day and was soon knitting back and forth in a happy routine.  Confidence was high, and I was already planning the colours of the next pair.   As I stopped for a coffee I thought I'd read the next bit of the pattern.  Which involved heel flaps.  And gussets.  Slipping stitches, decreasing stitches, picking cast off stitches back on 4 needles, condensing the stitches to 3 needles, then back to four and don't even ask me about the method for doing the toe area. 
Still, I quite liked the look of the tube of knitting that I was achieving and decided that if it all went horribly wrong, maybe I could turn them into ankle warmers and bring back a bit of 80s fashion.

But I'm persevering and I'm half way through my heel flap,  I still don't really understand the next bit on joining bits back and turning the corner but I'm working on the assumption that it will become clearer as I work through it, one stitch at a time.  Failing that, there's always YouTube!  Anybody else out there having a go at something new this year?

Monday 14 March 2016

A Special Memorandum Monday

Sian, over at From High in the Sky is giving us a wave as we celebrate another Memorandum Monday.  'Celebrate?'  I hear you ask.  'It's Monday, what could there be to celebrate?' 

Well, it's a birthday Monday here. We had a gathering of the clans yesterday and had a fab family day.  Our daughter and her fiancĂ© came round and our son and his girlfriend visited and took over my kitchen - they are both very keen cooks and dished up an amazing feast of slow cooked shoulder of lamb with pomegranate, salsa verde, roasted spiced potatoes,  broccoli, green beans and tahini butternut squash.  After a brief interlude we sat in the conservatory enjoying the sunshine, enjoying dessert of lemon posset with homemade shortcake biscuits and fresh raspberries, along with a glass of prosecco.  My ideal dinner, I was in 7th heaven; not only was someone else cooking but it was all of my favourite things. So, nothing there that I experienced for the first time, these were tried and tested favourites.  But, as Marie Antoinette always said -

Let them eat cake!
  It was my son's birthday last weekend but he was in Edinburgh visiting friends so we had a belated birthday celebration for him here on Saturday.  He loves a bit of chocolate cake (who doesn't?) and I tried a new recipe from my newest favouritest baker - good old Mary Berry.  Malted Chocolate cake.  It was fab.  Even fabber than our previous favourite chocolate birthday cake recipe.
And it was thanks to our trusty and reliable Coco to find me something else that was new.  After so much food, we needed to walk off a few calories and there's always one member of the family who is up for a bit of exercise, any time, any day, come rain or shine.  Fortunately it was a day for 'shine' and we set off for the local Country Park.  Where we found that the new bridge that crosses from one side of the lake to the other is  finally open to the public. 
Now, in no way can it compare to the Oresund bridge that was the focus of the recent TV programme; it certainly isn't as long!  (And hopefully unlike that one, there will be no dead bodies found half way across it)
So that's it from me.  I guess the biggest new thing that I've done since I last blogged is get another year older.  Oh, and whilst I'd love you to pop round and have a birthday cuppa with me, I'm afraid there are only crumbs left from the cake!

Monday 7 March 2016

Top of the Pops

It was Mothering Sunday this weekend and that brought a mix of the old and the new. (How fortunate for someone joining in with Sian's Memorandum Monday.) We have a family tradition where my daughter makes my favourite lemon and mascarpone cake for Mother's Day
If you want to try some, better come quick as it won't last long!
And the new? Well, one of my favourite sweets is sherbet lemons, and look what Rachel found for me:

Oh my goodness, this is amazing, I don't know where she found it but I've never seen it locally. 

Moo-ving on ...

A puzzle for you:
Q:   What do my hands and a cow's udder have in common?  (Own up, none of you ever want to shake hands with me now)
A:   They both benefit from this brilliant skin moisturiser.

Have you ever heard of it?  It's called Moo Goo and it is wonderful.  A friend of mine raves about it and a new shop has opened in town who stocks the brand.  Firstly, let's appreciate the packaging - isn't it clever?  It looks like a box of milk.  Then let's consider the all natural products, none of those nasty artificial ingredients or things you could be allergic to.  Apparently it was developed after they discovered a rather brilliant way of keeping cows' udders in tip top condition.  All I can say is that after only 3 days of using it, my hands are soft and smooth as a cow's udder baby's bottom.  There is one drawback though, apart from all the cow related word play, (what heifer am I talking about?) it is irresistible to dogs.  Well maybe not all dogs, but certainly ours is driving me mad. 
So that's it from me, let's give a beautifully moisturised wave to Sian and see what everyone else has tried for the first time since we last met.