Friday 29 December 2017

Finally succumbing to the sales

I'm sure I'm not the only one whose email inbox is full of fantastic sale offers from any website I may have ordered from online over the last year.  Special codes, extra discounts on the discounts, free postage and packing ...

I can't tell you how many things I've almost bought.  How many things I've clicked on, added to a basket and then never gone through to actually buy.  I think at the back of my mind I knew they would just be impulse buys that I was just buying because they were at a greatly discounted price.  But there was one thing that I had seen on the website and fallen for.  Something that I knew I would get a lot of use out of, and would never, ever have paid full price for.  It was from a brand which has a shop in our home town.  And my niece works there.  So when I popped into town yesterday and popped into the shop, it really was just to say 'hi' to her.  Or was it? πŸ˜‰

'We've got some great things in the sale' she said. 

'I know, I've been looking on line'. 

'Some things that were 25% off have just been marked down again to 50%'


Next thing I knew I was walking out with this little beauty in my hand ...

And inside it was the softest, warmest sweater that you can imagine.  I just love the colour.  I mean, it was still expensive, but not as over the top pricey as it was when it was full price.

If they keep reducing prices, I may have to pop in and say hi to Kirsty again ...

Wednesday 27 December 2017

The one where we got more snow

The house is strangely quiet.

Both 'kids' are at their in-laws.  Paul's just taken his mum home and it's just me and the dog.  It feels like it's a long time since we didn't have anyone else around.  

After the fiasco with Paul's birthday celebration that had to be cancelled due to snow, I should have known that I should expect the unexpected.  This is what happens when I try to be organised.  The universe is trying to tell me that the more I try to be organised, the more fate will step in to pull the rug from my feet.

The first glitch to my well rehearsed and organised timetable for Christmas Day was very welcome indeed.  We hadn't expected to see Jon and Sophie on Christmas Day as they were spending the day with her family but they were super organised and ended up travelling an hour before they thought they would, so decided to pop in and see us on their way.  So my time plan went totally to pot, a bottle of bubbly was opened to celebrate, I forgot to keep an eye on my timetable and dinner ended up being a fair bit later than expected but who cares when it meant we could have the whole family together on Christmas Day - if only for an hour!  And we got to do our annual whole family group shot

Ninety years between the oldest and the youngest - quite an achievement! 

You can imagine who was the centre of attention for the whole day - he was so good but totally unaware of why he suddenly had all these new toys to play with!  

Boxing Day we were all together again, and that meant family games 

By the look on everyone's faces, I'm not sure that I was describing what was written on my clue card very well!  In the evening, Rachel, James and Leo left to stay the evening with his sister as they were spending today with his family.  I'm hoping they'll be able to travel back as planned this evening as when we looked out the window this morning we saw this

More snow!  It seems to be stopping now but it's been snowing constantly for about 6 hours. One member of the family couldn't wait to get out in it

But again, the unexpected happened and Sophie and Jon's plans were put back and they ended up staying here until after lunch instead of leaving straight after breakfast.  They were desperate to get a good snowy walk in before they left as when it snowed last time, they got very little where they live in London.  Of course, being unprepared for this weather they didn't have any suitable clothing so I had to quickly go in the garage and find spare wellies, warm waterproof coats, hats and gloves. 

I think fate is trying to tell me that my new year's resolution should be to stop trying to be organised, because the minute I think I know what's happening, something crops up to prove me wrong! 

Thursday 21 December 2017

Counting down

I thought I'd share a photo of the few decorations that Leo hasn't seen fit to rearrange on my tree 😬 We've had him here most days this week for one reason or another and he's certainly kept us on our toes.  At almost 16 months he's a bit too little to understand what's coming, but I know that he will be very excited when he sees all those boxes that he's got to play with.  The new toys will be enjoyed later but boy, does he love a box!

I've been sorting out the presents this afternoon and out of the loft came the good old faithful Santa sacks.  They are 30 years old now and I was tempted to get some new ones that were a little more classy but there are so many memories attached to these that I didn't have the heart to replace them.  

The shops in town have all started their sales which is a) annoying if you've bought something for someone full price and it's now 50% off and b) tempting ...  I'm sure everywhere used to wait at least until Boxing Day didn't they?  I've been waiting to replace a few things in my wardrobe in anticipation of my early retirement next year (not going to be needing those boring black trousers, sensible tops and jackets any more!) and several times I've almost clicked on 'add to basket'.  I can't see me getting past the next few days without buying something ... I mean, come on, 50% off ...

So tomorrow will see me getting up early and heading off to Tesco to stock up on vegetables for the big day and the ever growing list of things I need to finish off dishes that I've prepared in advance and frozen.  I keep reminding myself it's only for two days and we don't have hoards of people coming this year!  

Is everyone else organised and prepared?  And why do I think that I'm too organised, there must be something that I've forgotten?

Sunday 17 December 2017

It's a wrap

I wish I was better at keeping to my good intentions.  In so many aspects of my life!  

Last year, as always, I found myself the day before Christmas frantically wrapping up gifts, hoping that the sellotape would last until the final one was done, running out of gift tags and enthusiasm.  'Next year' I declared 'I will wrap presents as I buy them.'  {ahem} Well, that hadn't happened, and whilst the rolls of paper and matching tags were bought early on, while all the stores were doing their 'buy 3 for the price of 2' offers, no cellophane paper was removed from the rolls despite the occasional present buying bought.  I did make a start on wrapping last week when I was meeting up with someone who I wouldn't see again before Christmas but the pile of packages was growing and enthusiasm to wrap was diminishing.

Today we woke to freezing fog.  We were having no visitors for lunch and I decided to take scissors to paper and make a start. 

Has anyone else noticed how long it takes to wrap presents?  I know I was trying to cook a full on roast beef dinner in between gifts but it took me the whole morning.  First tags were written in best handwriting, with a meaningful message, the final ones were a little less legible and a little shorter in comment.  But hey, I'm nearly done πŸ˜€ Just a few more to do and then I can just get to grips with prettying them up with ribbons and bows.  It also makes me realise that I have actually finished all present buying - with a week to spare!  

The school that I work at finishes on Tuesday lunchtime πŸŽ…πŸŽ‰πŸŽ„which gives us a full two weeks off work.  Strange to think that if I stick to my plans to leave sometime after my 60th birthday, I won't have too many more months to work - ever.  It feels like a big decision and I really can't decide when to go.  I won't go on my actual birthday, and when you work in a school you kind of feel like to you need to leave at some meaningful time like the beginning of the Easter holidays, or May half term and it's really weird to think that once I've made my decision, that's it!  There'll be no excuse for not blogging more regularly then, will there?  

Monday 11 December 2017

The best laid plans ...

When I last blogged I was fully organised for a family gathering to celebrate a big birthday.  How easily plans can be destroyed.  Because although I had a fridge full of food and drink, balloons and banners ready, the weather fairies had a cunning plan to teach me a lesson ...

it snowed.

And we all know what that means in the UK.  The world as we know it stops turning.  At first it was all fun and games

Especially if you are an over-excited dog.  It took about half an hour to defrost her paws once we got home but she had the best time over the park.

Then one by one various strands of the day started to unravel.  Paul's mum, who is almost 91, did not want to travel.  The thought of leaving the warmth and safety of her house was not appealing (and to be honest, we wondered what the journey may be like).  

Then my son phoned to say that there was a signal failure on the train line and all trains between London and our area were cancelled.  So there was no way for him and his wife to get here.  They sold their car when they moved to London as a) there's nowhere to park it where they live and b) public transport is so much better in and around the city (it's just when you try to travel to the outer reaches of icy Hertfordshire in December you have problems!)

I normally make all family birthday cakes myself but on this occasion I thought 'No, I'll order a personalised one as it's a special birthday'.  It needed to be picked up Sunday morning.  My daughter offered to go and get it for me.  She then rang to say they couldn't even get their car off the driveway.  I'm not particularly confident at snow driving so I asked Paul to take me down the town.  It was a bit tricky getting out of our cul-de-sac but we felt that surely it would be better once we got onto a road which had had a bit more traffic on it.  How wrong we were.  We got about 1/4 mile from home and decided it was a stupid idea and there was no urgency to get the cake especially as his actual birthday isn't until Tuesday.  So we pulled into a side road to turn round.  Or should I say, try to turn round.  The car was having none of it.  We were well and truly stuck.  Two families who were walking down the hill kindly offered to give us a push and Paul and I changed places so he could get out and help and I would be in the driving seat.  Let me tell you now that trying to drive wearing wellington boots is not a good idea.  There was a quite a bit of wheel spinning, a few false starts but then I was slowly moving - to the applause of our good samaritans - but with very little control over the steering.  Then it was decision time.  Do I risk stopping to allow Paul back into the car and driving seat or do I try to keep going slowly and get home?  I decided to see if I could at least keep it going around the roundabout which leads to the estate where we live and once round that I found a clear patch of road which had been sheltered from snow by an overhanging tree.  Hazard lights on, I waited and shortly afterwards I saw the figure of Paul walking tentatively on the icy pavements.  Once we had our experienced bad weather driver back in the driving seat we were on our way again and all was ok until we tried to get back onto our drive.  The snow had drifted up onto the pavement and we simply could not get the car up the kerb.  We were now literally outside our own house but blocking the road!  A quick trip to get shovels out the shed and we were digging ourselves back home.  An hour after we set off - and we had barely travelled a mile!

It certainly wasn't the way the day was mapped out but at least we know we'll never forget the time we tried to celebrate Paul's big birthday!  Fortunately our daughter and family live within easy walking distance of us so we did manage to have a partial celebration. And there was certainly more than enough food and drink!

Saturday 9 December 2017

How big is big?

On Tuesday my husband will be celebrating his 'big' birthday
Doesn't seem that long ago that we were considering 40 to be the 'big' one, now look what we've got to!

We're having a family gathering tomorrow for Sunday lunch so I've been busy today cooking everything that can be made in advance.  I feel like I've not sat down since breakfast but it is good to know that tomorrow I can relax, have a glass or two before lunch and know that everything just needs reheating.  Catering for our clan isn't as easy as it was - our grandson has milk and soya intolerance and egg allergy so we have to be careful of how we cook things.  I've made a lovely big beef casserole that we'll have with lots of veggies and I've got a fab recipe for egg free brownies that are made with oat milk, honestly you'd never know they were a 'healthy option'!  I'm trying a new dessert for the grown ups - the birthday boy saw a recipe in this month's Waitrose magazine for a forest fruit trifle with an Eton mess topping.  It's currently chilling in the fridge and looking rather delicious.  The custard part of it is made using condensed milk along with normal milk and tastes  

But the littlest one in the family isn't the only one in the family who is needing special catering.  His mum has had to watch what she eats as she was breastfeeding and if he couldn't have cows milk, then she couldn't either and she also gradually cut down on the amount of red meat she was eating until she stopped all together and now she is practically vegan! Fortunately my son recommended a lovely red lentil dahl recipe that cooks in coconut milk and has spinach leaves added right at the end so that's going to be made in advance too.  I do like entertaining when I can feel organised in the kitchen!

The weather forecast is getting progressively more ominous and it looks like snow is on its way overnight and during the morning.  It would be nice if we had a good crisp covering of snow and could go out on a long winter dog walk in the afternoon to walk off all the calories!  And boy I have some calories to lose.  I've been out to dinner three times in the last 4 days. And I have not been particularly careful in choosing something 'healthy'.  Let's not kid ourselves, I haven't been healthy at all.  We went up to London on Wednesday,; we were a little early for our table so had a drink at The Grocer.  Inside it was packed - lots of Christmas meals being enjoyed - so we took our drinks and sat outside, in comfy chairs with blankets and patio heaters around us.  Seemed very strange to be drinking outside on a freezing December evening.  

Then we went onto Hawksmoor for a lovely steak dinner - not to mention the best ever triple cooked chips.  We went with our friends M & R.  When I moan about my husband having a birthday so close to Christmas, it's not as bad as M's.  Christmas Day.  Must be the worst day of the year to have a birthday.  They have a tradition where her husband cooks lobster the day before her birthday as a special meal, and Hawksmoor serve lobster so we just brought her 60th celebrations forward a little bit.

Just to bring this food and drink edition of the blog to an end, we went to a local Indian restaurant last night with friends and the restaurant has just opened up a Gin Palace in what used to be their bar area. I have found a new favourite gin.  Pinkster.  O.M.G.  it was devine.  Served with fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint.  Wow.  Don't take my word for it, if you get the chance, try it!


Monday 4 December 2017

Let the magic begin

A certain young man met a certain famous old gentleman at the weekend.  Their first proper meeting, although the older of the two did visit the younger last year but he was far too young to understand what was going on.  Hopefully this year will be more magical as their little family start to make their own Christmas traditions.

We have a lovely English Heritage property close to where we live, Audley House, and they have a miniature railway for children.  This time of year it becomes the Santa Express, which goes deep into the woods of Audley End Estate until you find Father Christmas in his Winter Wonderland.  Little boys and girls who are on the 'nice' list, are given a present.  Fortunately our young man met the criteria and has a new toy to bring home with him.  It's lovely to take a break from the commercialism of Christmas and see the magic through the eyes of a child.  I know he's far too young to remember this in years to come but I know that it's stored deep in the memory banks of his mum and dad!

Taking a break in the midst of being busy has been on my mind recently.  When I was at school, and studying for my O level (GCSE) in Domestic Science Cookery we used to have to make a time plan for everything that we cooked.  Part of that time plan had to include 5 minutes tidying up time every 20 minutes or so.  Not just so that we weren't working in total chaos, but just so that we had built a little break into a strict timetable so that if we did find ourselves running behind, we could forget that we were supposed to be washing up and had time to catch up.  It's not such a bad idea to build into all parts of our lives is it?  We make ourselves think that there is so much we 'have' to get done, and wind ourselves up into a big ball of stress because there's still so much to do, but if we had built some relaxing time into our 'to do' lists the whole relaxation thing would feel like a compulsory part of our day!

We have a very busy time coming up, we are either out for dinner or hosting dinners at home for 5 out of the next 8 days.  My waistline is going to pay for this!  I blame the husband who has his 60th on the 12th and seems to be extending his celebrations into most of the week before the actual day.  It will be lovely but I am pleased that after 3 days eating out in a row, we have an evening free before the big family get together at home.  It would have been easy to fill that free evening but I just knew that it would then mean that I had a lot of preparation for the next day to get done by a certain time before getting ready to go out.  I was surprised to hear myself saying 'actually, we really want to see you, but could we perhaps make it the week after his birthday?' and spreading it out. 

It's not only Father Christmas that has important lists to be making at this time of year, but I have a few I need to get starting too - that's this afternoon sorted then!

Sunday 26 November 2017

It's been a while

I've become one of those annoying intermittent bloggers - you know the kind.  Updates and blog posts on a regular basis then suddenly tumbleweeds rolling around through blogland for weeks.  I'd like to say it was because I was taking part in exciting things and travelling the world but I'm not one to lie.  

There's been a lot of counting of blessings in amongst the day to day business.  Feeling thankful that I am here to do the things that become part of the average day.  Enjoying crisp frosty mornings

Long leisurely walks with the dog

Spending Wednesdays looking after this little rascal

And saving lots of money on Black Friday by not buying anything from the dozens of emails that I had from websites advertising huge discounts.  (To be truthful, we are thinking of buying a small chest freezer to put in the utility room for extra food storage and I've been monitoring prices over the last week of so and guess what?  The price on Friday was no different to that at the beginning of the week, except on Friday it had a big sash across the photo saying it was a Black Friday discount price.  I did not buy it on principle!)

I've felt quite subdued on learning that a lady whose two daughters are the same age as my 'children' had died.  I'd last seen her at the beginning of the year; her younger daughter is getting married next spring and as I was at that time involved in all the planning of our family weddings we had a good chat about wedding dress shopping, the problems in choosing a venue, and mother of the bride outfits.  How sad that she is not going to be there for her daughter's big day.  I did not know at the time - although she did - that she had pancreatic cancer.  So her excitement at making plans must have been tinged with knowing that although she could be involved in the planning of the event she probably would not be there to see the actual day.  It is so sad that sometimes it takes hearing such news to give you a shake and tell you to appreciate all the little things you take for granted.

This weekend we had all 7 of us around the table for Sunday lunch, daughter, son in law, grandson, son and daughter in law, all chatting and laughing and it was so lovely to have that lovely family feeling.

It's hard work getting a full on traditional English Sunday roast on the table, thank goodness I had help with the carving of the joint

Saturday 4 November 2017

An almost, sort of, kind of scrapbooking

I've made no secret of the fact that my scrapbooking days are (I think) behind me but there's a little piece of scrapbooking love that remains with me.  It's regenerated in the form of making photobooks.  It's taken me a while but I have finally finished the photobooks for both Rachel and Jon's weddings.  I spent so much time on these and am really pleased with the way they turned out.

I used Photobox for them and am, as always, really impressed with the quality of the finished product. I won't bore you with a full reveal but here's a few to give a flavour of what a wonderful summer we had.

A beautiful day, in a beautiful location and (I may be a bit biased here) a beautiful bride.  We were so lucky that we were able to have the ceremony under a pergola beside a lake in the grounds of a fab Manor House.

In the evening we had a 'Magic Mirror' with props instead of a Photo Booth, it was a fun idea and loads of people used it so they have some great fun memories of people being very silly!

Wedding two

Jon's legal ceremony took place in London, just down the road from where he lives.  And with the formalities over we then spent the next week preparing the next venue for the celebration with all family and friends.  That involved erecting a large marquee, decorating it and keeping our fingers firmly crossed for another day of nice weather.

Totally unconventional - just like the bride and groom - we were sitting on straw bales which were covered with patchwork quilts made by Sophie's grandmother, with Sophie's brother conducting the ceremony, bride and groom both writing their own vows and Rachel doing a reading from Sophie's favourite series of books, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.

And I mean, who doesn't have a mariachi band performing at their wedding reception?

Monday 30 October 2017

Accidentally walking in a winter wonderland

We went shopping for spring flowering bulbs this morning.  Ended up in a Christmas grotto at the garden centre and bought a couple of new tree decorations.  So much for 'not buying anything towards Christmas until at least November.'
 But that's it for now - not one card or roll of wrapping will find itself in my shopping basket for at least a couple of days πŸ˜‰

At the weekend our paper included this supplement

Do you listen to podcasts?  My son introduced them to me a while ago when 'Serial' was top of the charts.  I like a true crime story, especially one that isn't straightforward.  I was hooked.  Then last year I listened to 'S-Town' which certainly took some odd twists and turns.  I kind of forgot to download any after that, until I had a phase of having trouble getting off to sleep at nights.  I didn't want to disturb P by having a light on to read so I thought I would try listening to something through headphones instead.  

I discovered that some radio programmes do a podcast version and I've got hooked. It's nothing heavy - in fact a couple of them ensure that it is not a reading light that keeps P awake, but me chuckling to myself - he of course can't hear what is making me laugh as I've got headphones on and apparently it can be quite annoying to wonder what on earth I'm laughing about.  But I have to say it is a great way to fall asleep (I quite often have to listen to the same podcast a couple of times as I am so relaxed I fall asleep before the end of it and have to rewind to hear the second half!)

My podcast lists are a real mix of genres 

Since reading the Sunday supplement I've downloaded 'Dirty John' and I think it's going to be a good one!  Anyone else out there a podcast fan?  I'd welcome any good suggestions!

Saturday 21 October 2017

Sorting out your drawers ...

... or

how wearing your lucky knickers can put a spring in your step.

We had a training day at work yesterday.  I was not looking forward to it as experience has shown that Inset Day speakers have a tendency to focus on teaching related topics which have zero interest to the secretarial staff from the office.  There were two talks that were compulsory for everyone to attend.  Then we were free to escape back to the office and get on with our normal work.  We reluctantly took our seats.

The first talk was entitled 'The Art of Being Brilliant'.  And despite being very dubious about it, the talk actually was brilliant.  The guy who took the course was funny, engaging and had some excellent fun ideas on positive psychology. 

He assured us that we would feel much more brilliant if we could walk into work like this clip  from YouTube from the film 500 days of summer.   Walking into work with a smile and positive attitude is contagious and if we all gave it a go, you just might all find the day went a little better.

There are 5 working days in the week, all exactly the same.  Why do Mondays feel worse than Fridays?  If you spend Monday feeling 'blurgh' it just makes the day seem longer and the weekend further away.  And if one person in the office is feeling 'burgh' it's almost guaranteed to affect the way everyone else feels.  We also spend too much time waiting for the thing that is going to make us happier.  Saving things for that moment when everything falls into place and we think that life will suddenly become brilliant.  Just suppose that this is your brilliant time.  Suppose we can make this actual point in life a little bit more brilliant than we think it is.  If we can recreate that Friday feeling on a Monday, the whole week will feel better.  So, with that in mind...

open your knicker drawer.

We all have different kinds of knickers.  Don't we?  Average kind of day to day knickers, those we save for best - to wear under our favourite going out clothes, and those ones which have seen better days, nothing stylish at all just comfortable and do the job they're meant to do. Pick up those knickers.  And throw them away.  They don't make you feel good, and you may even be a little bit ashamed of them.  When Monday comes, open your knicker drawer. Pick out a pair of your posh pants.  Those ones which make you feel a bit special, they're newer than the old ones, probably a nicer colour or fabric, possibly trimmed with lace or ribbon.  Now get dressed and ready for work.  Do you have a little instant 'feel better' factor going on?  You walk with a bit of a swagger, you know you look good underneath those ordinary work clothes.  If you went to the loo and accidentally walked out the door with the hem of your skirt tucked in your knickers, you wouldn't be quite so ashamed.  What's the point of keeping a pair of lucky knickers just for best, why not make today a little more special and wear them now.  

We're on half term holiday this week, but I just know that when we are all back in the office the following week, we're all going to be looking at each other and wondering if we've all done as he suggested!

Friday 29 September 2017

End of the hunt

It's time for the big reveal!  The final photos for the Scavenger Hunt organised by Mary-Lou are ready to be shown.  I've already shared quite a few on the list, you can see them  here and here.  So what was left to capture?

No 2 - Bubbles

No 6
A Pipe - actually a whole shop full of pipes.  A lucky find last week when we were in Rome.

No 7
Inside - The Colosseum 

No 12 - I know I've already done this one but we have had 3 wedding celebrations this summer so I can't use one and not the others!

The legal ceremony and then a week later, the big celebration for friends and family.

No 13 - a replacement for the one I already used - how could I not use this one taken in the Vatican City?

No 16 - OK I know he isn't officially a baby any more but he's our 'baby' of the family so I'm using artistic licence to claim this one!

And finally 
No 20 Something found underground.  I'm not that impressed by what I found for this one but I refused to be beaten so here are some radishes from the garden.

It's been fun joining in this hunt - and hope that Mary-Lou is already thinking of things to add to the list for next year!

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Missing on Monday

I wasn't around to do my normal Monday post this week.  Do you want a hint as to where I was?

An early celebration for my husband's 'big' birthday this year.  It's rather inconvenient that he has a birthday in December when there is so much else going on so we decided to have a weekend away before the weather became a bit more unpredictable.  He's always wanted to go to Rome; I've been once before in the 70s when I wasn't really old enough to appreciate it!

He's spent a lot of time researching places of interest (there are so many that we had to narrow it down considerably to fit in with the 3 days we had) and every day I would come home from work to find him sitting with a coffee in the conservatory with a table full of maps and guide books in front of him.  While I joked about it, the research was well worth it as we really did pack in an awful lot.  That research had also included the best coffee shops or gelato shops so when we found our energy flagging, we were able to go and refresh ourselves in some fabulous places.  Not fancy pants tourist places but places off the beaten track that are used by the locals.  

We're not really ones for guided tours but several people had recommended that we do that because otherwise there would be so much that you would look at, but not really understand the history or significance.  So he booked us on two tours.  The Vatican City and the Colosseum, Forum and Palatine Hill.  Both were for three hours.  But oh how glad we were we had booked them as we learnt so much from both amazing guides who clearly loved their subject and loved their city.  The guide who showed us the Sistine Chapel was amazing and had we gone on our own, there is no way that we would have enjoyed the experience as much as we did.  And, as a huge plus - no queues at all!  That was a huge benefit of being part of a tour.  

Growth mindset quote of the week

“The ability to learn is not fixed, but is a skill that continues to grow.”

A good thing to have in mind especially in view of those big birthdays we both have coming up in the next 6 months.  You're never too old to learn something new!

Monday 18 September 2017

The signs are there

It's coming.  The clues are all around us.  On entering our local Tesco at the weekend, we immediately saw a mountain of selection tins of chocolates - begging us to take them home.  What is it about selection tins that you don't think of at other times of year?  They are a sure sign that Christmas is (according the the shops) on its way. 

 Of course with 2 tins on offer for £7 we kindly liberated a couple of tins and have given them a good home.  Hidden away in the spare bedroom to keep us away from temptation.  Because I know that the minute that seal is opened, just one little chocolate covered fudge will never be enough and I'll be back in Tesco buying more.  Those damn marketing people know me so well ...

So what else has happened since we last met? Well, I  did get going on the binding on the quilt.  It's not quite finished because as soon as I pick it up to do the hand stitching in the evenings and lay it on my lap, Coco appears, jumps up and makes herself comfortable on it.

The growth mindset sentence of the week at work is

"Embrace challenge; persist in the face of setbacks.”

My greatest challenge this weekend?  It was the first Fitsteps exercise class of the new term after 6 weeks summer break.  Turns out going for long dog walks doesn't keep you quite as fit as a full on dance class.  Setbacks?  Could not remember any of the routines all the way through so ended up facing in the wrong direction more than once.  But persistence pays off and we all ended the class on a high note.

Have a good week!

Monday 11 September 2017

Time for change

It feels like summer has packed its bags and vacated its room ready for autumn to take up residence.  In fact, it feels like autumn has turned up early and has been told to go and find a seat somewhere, have a drink and wait until everything is ready for it.  I know that in England we can sometimes have all four seasons in the space of 24 hours, but it really does feel autumnal these days.  Autumn needs to look in its diary and realise that it isn't officially expected for another couple of weeks!

Sunday was a prime example - we woke up to fog, I spent at least an hour wondering if I could get away with surreptitiously putting the heating back on, then the sun broke through and all was well again.  It's hard to know what to wear at this time of year isn't it?  I'm having a wardrobe crisis at the moment which is not being helped by Facebook.  Those who use the app will know that every morning it shows you a post from that day at some point in the past.  This date 5 years ago, 7 years ago etc.  The main thing I notice from this is that I am still wearing the same clothes now that I was then - I had suspected it was time to make room in my wardrobe for a few new bits and there's the proof!  I don't know whether or not the imminent arrival of my 60th birthday next year is linked in any way but I'm determined to update my style a bit.  I've started following a couple of new 'fashion for the over 50s' blogs and Instagram feeds for inspiration and am on a mission to keep up to date.  We've had a few new shops open in town, we already had Fat Face and White Stuff and I have to be honest and say that my wardrobe is top heavy with things I've bought from them over the last few years.  Then Joules opened its doors and a few striped sweatshirts joined the wardrobe along with some of their lovely colourful scarves.  Hot on Joules' heels was Mint Velvet, not a label I'd bought before but as if fate was sending me a message my niece got a part time job there and I had the perfect excuse for going in for a browse.  It coincided with their end of summer sale which also coincided with me buying a pair of trousers and a top.   Time for a proper wardrobe stock take I think.

So, what else has been going on?  Well, back in the spring I started making a new quilt - this weekend I finally got around to putting all the layers together.
Just need to get around to making some binding to edge it all off nicely and it'll be ready for those autumn evenings.

What's the most embarrassing thing that happened to me this week?  I was quite literally floored by a blueberry.  It was the first full week back at work and we always have a fire drill first week of term.  One of the jobs that the secretaries have to do in a fire drill is to take all the registers out to the field to make sure that all students are accounted for.  I bundled a pile of registers into a bag and went out the door of the office.  Next thing I knew I was falling down, knee first, followed by wrist and bent fingers.  Crashed out on the floor in front of tens, no make that hundreds, of students in the main corridor.  The good news was that I had the perfect excuse to stay in the warm, dry office instead of hanging around in the chilly air over at the school sports field.  Bad news was I had a seriously bruised hand which swelled ominously at the base of my fingers where I had bent them back as I hit the deck.  It was kind of ironic that this meant that on the following day which was our wedding anniversary, I couldn't get my wedding ring on - it was the first time ever in 37 years that I hadn't been able to wear my ring!  Once the corridor was quiet and empty I went out to see what I had slipped on and there it was, a very squished blueberry - who'd have thought such an innocent fruit could cause so much pain!

Just before I go I wanted to share something with you, something to think about as we start a new week.  Our school is very keen on students learning Positive Mindset.  We have many motivational messages posted around the school like 'if plans A and B didn't work, the alphabet has 24 other letters in it' - I think it's a great idea, teaching people how to turn a negative into a positive, sometimes the best way to learn something is to make a few mistakes along the way, the important thing is not to give up.  So we have a weekly statement and I thought it may be nice to share them with you, sometimes it's just something to make you stop and think about for a minute.  This week's offering is 

“Your effort and attitude determine everything.”

So with that in mind, I'm going to get those scissors out, cut up that binding, sew it on the quilt and get that project finished!

Monday 4 September 2017

Is this what normal is?

I know you'll find this hard to believe, but we didn't have a wedding this weekend.  Who'd have thought?  It was a normal weekend.  Doing normal things.  Like the 'big weekly shop' and having Paul's mum over for Sunday lunch.  Ironing.  Lots of ironing because apparently the ironing fairies don't pop in and help you out when you're busy doing other things.  How mean of them!  

So what else happened this week?  Well, after his early party on Monday, Leo's birthday was on Tuesday.  Where has that year gone?  Oh my goodness, they say that time flies as you get older and it's certainly true.  Or maybe it's just that a heck of a lot has been crammed into these last 12 months?  

Jon and Sophie went off on their honeymoon Tuesday - they've always gone for the budget option on holidays up to now.  Camping, hostels, air bnb, inter railing etc.  They've had some fabulous times and experiences but have never really treated themselves to a bit of luxury.  So they are making up for lost time by going to a very swish hotel in Bali.  I don't think they have ever stayed somewhere that sculpts your towels into swans when you come back from dinner, or turn back the bed covers.  Certainly they've never had a private villa with its own pool.  I've been tracking their Instagram adventures and it looks like they are well and truly making the most of their time there and really experiencing the environment.  There have been photos of temples and statues, processions, forests and rice fields.  Not to mention monkeys and trying the delights of coffee made with beans which have passed through mongoose.  That last one made me shudder a little bit, but Jon does love to try the local delicacies and most of all, unusual coffees!

Wednesday was spent doing my childminding duties for that little one year old rascal.  It wasn't very nice weather so all my normal ploys to get him to have a little sleep - long walks in the buggy - couldn't be put into place so it was a long day!  In the evening I went to a farewell dinner with my workmates to say goodbye to the person who used to be my boss at work.  I'd said to Paul as I left that I doubted I'd be very long, but then we all got talking, and laughing and remembering funny things that had happened in the office over the years and I finally arrived home just before midnight.

Then back to work on Friday for a training day.  I was not looking forward to it until the teacher in charge of Food Technology sent me a Facebook message to tell me that she was making lemon curd muffins to bring in for break.  My absolute favourite.  Suddenly things didn't seem too bad.  

Whilst it has been amazing to have such a busy and exciting time over the summer, I do have to say that  'normal' is feeling quite good.  And just as I've got used to normal, it'll be time for a little Italian adventure at the end of the month!

Tuesday 29 August 2017

What a weekend!

We certainly can't say that this summer has been uneventful over here in Deb's World.  Last week I shared photos of the legal part of our son's wedding - this week I can share photos of the celebration that they held for family and friends.  There was a Mexican theme to this one (they are not the most conventional of couples!) and Sophie's mum managed to track down a Mariachi band and arranged for them to come onto the dance floor after Jon and Sophie had done the official wedding 'first dance'.  They had absolutely no idea what was coming and these photos capture the total shock on their faces as the band came into the marquee

After getting everyone up on the dance floor to some absolute classic sounds, they took the party outside to entertain those who were sitting on hay bales.  I don't think many people can say they have experienced being serenaded by a mariachi band with the sun setting behind them - what memories!

And of course there would be no traditional wedding cake - they had a multi coloured jelly 'cake' (can't begin to explain the concerns about removing jellies from moulds onto a glass display stand in the heat)

Can you believe that we had such brilliant weather for both weddings?  Oh my goodness, England does not have a good reputation for reliable summer sunshine and we have had a particularly bad spell of weather this month but we were so lucky.

You'd have thought that was enough celebrating for one weekend wouldn't you?  Oh no, we still had a birthday party to go to.  A day early as his first birthday is actually today but as it was a Bank Holiday weekend, it seemed the perfect time to wish Leo a very happy birthday.
His mum made him a beautiful cake
And after spending hours making it and moulding that lovely lion for the centre piece - his first reaction was to pull off the lion's head and eat it.

Jon and Sophie popped in to say hello before going home to pack for their honeymoon and were desperate for him to open their present a day early.  It was a play tunnel that connected onto a pop up tent.  He loved it.

I can see him having a lot of fun in there!

So that's it - all the celebrations over, what a 12 months it has been!  I think it's now time to let life settle and get back to normal - although I can't quite remember what 'normal' feels like!