Monday 31 December 2018

Me on Monday

The last Monday of 2018!

Well, it's been an eventful, exhausting but exciting week since I last blogged.  Seeing Christmas through the eyes of a 2 year old is magical, I didn't realise just how much Leo would understand this year but boy he has embraced Christmas spirit with both hands and is was just so lovely to watch.

So my Me on Monday photo will actually be 'Me on last Tuesday' - just before our guests arrived we managed a civilised photo

Paul's mum didn't feel up to joining us on Christmas Day but we convinced her she'd feel better for going out and having some company on Boxing Day.  Plus we had the added incentive of having her meet baby Rosie for the first time.  Of course there had to be a family photo to mark the occasion.

91 years difference between the oldest and the youngest in this photo!  We were right, as soon as she saw the baby she visibly looked brighter and better.  Not to mention the fun of  watching big brother Leo running around like a whirling dervish.

I do hope that everyone had a good Christmas, it was so lovely to have everyone here together and I am incredibly thankful for the family that I am blessed with.  

So today marks the last day of the year and we will be seeing 2019 in with some friends who are coming over for a take away Indian meal accompanied by champagne for when Big Ben strikes 12.  

It's been a funny old year.  If I were on a reality tv show they would probably describe it as a rollercoaster ride!  It had some amazing highs and some devastating lows.  There was a family holiday to Center Parts in January, that big birthday in March, news of Rachel's pregnancy in April, a weekend in Bologna, retirement in May, news that our son and daughter in law were moving closer to home in June, a fabulous week at Lake Garda in July, a weekend in Suffolk in September, the stress of R's pregnancy related illness in October, Rosie's safe arrival in November and here we are at December.  

You'll notice that August is missing in that list and I hinted at problems in this post. We should have been looking forward to another grandchild in February but our daughter in law miscarried in August.  It was totally heartbreaking and was so very hard to deal with, even though statistics tell you that it happens to something like 1 in 4 women, if you are that 1 it is devastating.  

I don't want to leave this post on a low point, and as I said in that post in August, life isn't just about good things, everyone has a good old mix of fortunes, and the strength of friends and family support carries us through the bad times ready to embrace better things when that tide has turned.  

Thank you for visiting my blog this year, for your comments and support.  I'm intending to be a better blogger next year and planning to join in some new regular blog subjects so watch this space!  

Happy New Year!

Saturday 29 December 2018

Housework dodging

My husband thought I was joking when I said I wanted a jigsaw puzzle for Christmas (and a jigsaw roll up mat to keep little toddler fingers off my hard work) but I really fancied having something that I could spend an hour or so here and there while having a coffee.

I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying putting it together!  It's been so many years since I did a jigsaw (Leo's Peppa Pig puzzle doesn't count!) This is how far I've got

And this is what it should look like when finished

The picture is a map of the United Kingdom with drawings of landmarks to show the different cities.  So it's actually a bit educational too - I have such bad geographical knowledge so I'm learning a lot about where the different landmarks are.  Who knew England had so many castles?  And they all look very similar ...

But it's so compulsive.  Did I say I wanted it to do a bit here and there whenever I walked past it on the table?  I lied.  I spent an hour non stop this morning and only had a break because it was lunchtime.

There'll be very little hoovering done over the next few days 😉

Monday 24 December 2018

Me on Monday

The Christmas Eve edition

I bet I'm not the only person who's been searching the internet for cooking times for turkey this morning!

And yes, that is an excel spreadsheet showing exact times for everything that needs to be cooked - it seems a bit excessive but without a timetable things have been known to get horribly delayed or even worse, totally forgotten about.  You open the fridge a day or two after Christmas and find some speciality side dish you picked up in the supermarket and forgot to cook!  

So we picked this little beauty up just after 8am this morning.  We are lucky enough to have  an excellent butchers in town, he's a bit more expensive than supermarket meat but I've learnt that it is well worth every extra penny.  The turkeys are from a local farm and the quality is amazing.

We went to friends last night for their annual pre Christmas get together.  They had suggested getting there for 5pm for drinks and nibbles and we thought we'd probably be home by about 8.  We all had such a good time, I was quite surprised when I looked at my watch and saw it was 11pm!  

Today's plan is to relax and prepare for tomorrow.  I hope that everyone has a healthy and peaceful Christmas, let's try not to stress too much over cooking a perfect dinner, but enjoy time spent with those we love.  Happy Christmas!

Friday 21 December 2018

A tale of two tops

Up until a couple of years ago I had managed to avoid buying Christmas jumpers of any kind.  Then suddenly, they became a trend.  There were charity days of 'wear your Christmas jumper to work' and even Save the Children hosted an official Christmas Jumper Day.

Then I retired and I discovered that the Zumba class I now go to uses any excuse for a themed class and of course Christmas is a perfect reason!  But the jumper I bought for work wasn't quite appropriate for an hour of dancing

Can you imagine how hot you'd get in that?  I also didn't fancy buying a fancy dress elf costume to wear - although I am the right height for that kind of thing 😉. I wasn't sure what to wear for a festive hour of exercise.

Whilst shopping in Tesco last week I saw they had 25% all festive clothing and look what jumped into my trolley

Ho Ho Ho - pour the prosecco!  

Perfect!  Nice and roomy for a bit of salsa and belly dancing.  I may even wear it for a pre Christmas drink with friends at the weekend but with a nice pair of black trousers rather than Zumba leggings!

The grey jumper got an outing this morning as I took Leo to the Wiggle Wiggle Christmas party.   I've never seen him so excited - he had the time of his life.  And I burnt off as many calories trying to keep up with him as I did the day before at Zumba!

Have you succumbed to Christmas clothing this year?  There are some lovely pieces out there and I'm very tempted to buy something a little bit more classy to put away to wear next year.

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Trend setting

Well who would've thought it?  I actually seem to have inadvertently bought something today that is ahead of the game.

I found myself on the Pantone Colour of the Year 2019 webpage this afternoon and was immediately taken by the colour they have chosen, Living Coral.  I also loved the colour palette that they are recommending as being on trend for the new year.

Rewind a few hours to me browsing round the shops in town.  Knowing that my mother in law will be gifting me some money for Christmas I headed for White Stuff where they have their pre Christmas 50% sale.  A few weeks ago I had bought a navy cord skirt with colourful motifs sewn into it.  

'I've got lots of things I could wear with that' I thought.  However ... once home I realised that I don't.  I have one top that goes well with it but the other things I thought of either weren't the right colour or the right length to wear with a skirt.  The motifs are bold and pastel colours don't look right for it.  I knew exactly what I was looking for.  

I had seen this top

but at £42 it seemed quite overpriced - don't you agree?  It's only made of cotton jersey, no fancy fabric.  But today with £42 crossed out and £19 written in red on the label I did not hesitate to buy it.

And now look - it is so similar to the Living Coral colour!

I have mentioned in the past that I've been trying to introduce new colours and styles to my wardrobe now I don't have to stick to an office place dress code.  I've found a few new blogs that I follow and one in particular is Jodie's Touch of Style.  She has a fun format where she takes one look and styles it between herself (over 50) her step mum (over 70) and her mum (over 80).  I've definitely been more brave in my colours and mixing and matching patterns since reading her blog.  Obviously, being based in the US some of the trends are not in our UK shops but it's good to pick out a few pointers.  There's also Gail at Is This Mutton?  It wasn't until I'd been reading her blog for a while that I realised that she lives in the next County to me - I wonder if we've ever passed in crowd and not realised?  One blog I really love and whole heartedly recommend is UK based Midlife Chic - it's so interesting, lifestyle and fashion.  Nikki has been involved in the fashion industry for years and works alongside brands whose target audience is 'midlifers'.    She gives an honest opinion of styles, tries on the clothes and shows you what they look like on a 'real woman' - if you have an interest in fashion please do head over and check them out.

Monday 17 December 2018

Me on Monday

The one where I am ready to pick up the pace for the next week

We had an unexpected day to ourselves yesterday, just Paul, me and Coco.  It couldn't have come at a better time.

We had been out the night before with four other couples for our annual Christmas get together; it was nice to wear my new glittery dress and slap on some make up.

What you can't see in this photo is how horrible my left eye looked in real life.  I woke up Friday morning and the area of my eye between the bridge of my nose and the pupil was completely bloodshot.  How did that happen?  I have no idea.  How typical though, the day before we were going out for a big Christmas meal.  An early morning visit to the pharmacist for a bottle of Brolene eye drops was hastily added to my agenda and fortunately it had started to recover by Saturday evening.

When Paul's mum called to say she wasn't feeling up to a trip out to see us for Sunday lunch we kitted ourselves ourselves out in walking boots and coats and took Coco for a lovely long walk.  There had been a frost overnight and the sun was rising in the sky, melting the frost and making a slight haze just above ground level.  Beautiful.

Came home, put a lovely shoulder of pork in the oven to roast and went upstairs armed with tape and scissors to continue wrapping presents.  All too often I find myself doing this the day before Christmas Eve and it stresses me out because with all good intentions, it's a job that takes longer than you think it will.  But I am happy to say that every present that I have bought is now wrapped and now all I have to do is 'pretty them up' with a bit of ribbon and bows.

I've also now updated my 'to do' lists, my 'to cook' lists and my 'to buy' lists, all carefully fitted in around helping out with Leo this week.  I may (no, I cannot lie, I did) have a little post lunch nap and feel so much better for a day of just doing what I want to do rather than running around after everyone else and while that feels a little selfish to say, I think a little bit of self care will see me better able to help everyone else in the long run.

So where does Me on Monday find me today?  All geared up ready for a trip to a nearby garden centre to take Leo and his mum and sister to visit Santa.  I think we are all a little bit excited!  

One week to go ladies - how are your preparations going?

Monday 10 December 2018

Me on Monday

The one in which my husband almost ages 6 years overnight

Well, we finally got the tree up and today's Me on Monday looks a bit like this

We had a busy weekend which ended up with an early birthday celebration for my husband. Our son came over and so did our daughter and her family coming out for their first 'proper' outing with baby Rosie.  

The birthday boy got to choose the menu so I cooked lasagne, garlic bread, caprese salad with avocado, and red onion, baby tomatoes, olive and red pepper salad.  Choice of two desserts: panettone bread and butter pudding and apple tarte tatin with ice cream.  Not to mention cake.  I was doing so well, everyone enjoyed dinner and mid afternoon we had a coffee and the obligatory birthday cake with the traditional song followed by the blowing out of the candles.  I had bought two candles, one number 6 and one number 1.  Only I hadn't.  I had bought one number 6 and one number 7.  Ooops!  A slight alteration helped by a sharp knife cutting off the end of the 7 and the proper age was reinstated!  

After an exhausting week helping out with baby Rosie and that little rascal of a big brother, I was so looking forward to going out on Friday evening.  A new restaurant has opened up in town and they were having a special pre-opening evening.  Tickets were available via an email 'lucky dip' and we were lucky enough to get an invitation.  It is a Thai restaurant called the Giggling Squid.  There was much wine to drink and so many samples of their starter/canape menu.  All for free!  The food was fabulous, my favourite was the salt and pepper squid with sweet chilli sauce.  Or was it the chicken satay sticks?  Or maybe the duck rolls with hoi sin sauce?  Don't make me choose - it was all lovely!

Saturday was spent putting up the tree and getting back on top of all the things I've been neglecting while I've been round at Rachel's.  We decided that as I had been busy in the kitchen preparing for the Sunday birthday lunch I had earned a night off in the kitchen and we had an Indian takeaway.  I have definitely eaten well in the last three days and may have to be a little more cautious over the next week, bearing in mind all the Christmas over indulging that is just around the corner.

So what does this week hold?  Well it is the pre-school Christmas party this morning so I am anticipating much glittery craftiness and maybe a special snack table of tasty treats for anyone under the age of 3.  This is Leo's last session in Tree Tots, after Christmas he will be going there on his own rather than have mummy/nanny staying with him.  I wonder how that will go down?  It's another 'first' for them to tick off his growing up list.  Seems hardly any time at all since I was dropping his mum off for that first solo visit. How 30 years can fly! 

Wednesday 5 December 2018

November - a sentence a day

When you come downstairs in the morning and see that the roof of the conservatory looks like this
you can tell there has been a heavy frost overnight!  

Welcome to November

Day 1 What a wet and miserable start to a new month, definitely a day for staying wrapped up warm indoors

Day 2 Actually started to make plans for meeting up with friends before Christmas - our friends who moved to Belgium 7 years ago will be back so our 'old' routine of a group get together can be reinstated this year!

Day 3 'Children', partners and grandchild all dropped in early afternoon, friends over for a meal in the evening - busy, busy day.

Day 4 No rest for the wicked - family Sunday lunch!

Day 5 Guy Fawkes night - although most people had their firework displays over the weekend - we had a very unhappy dog who did not like all the bangs and crashes.

Day 6 Leo had an appointment at the allergy clinic and the consultant thinks that the skin prick tests shows that maybe his allergy to eggs is reducing - Fingers crossed.

Day 7 I know it isn't exciting but it's a job I've been putting off for ages so probably needs recording - I defrosted my chest freezer - now feeling very virtuous!

Day 8 Met up with the girls I used to work with - I miss the girls but not the office politics!

Day 9 Another day, another meet up with old workmates, this time for morning coffee with people who left about 4 years ago.

Day 10 Curry night - our friends have just returned from a 'round the world' trip; their photographs were fabulous - it was clearly a trip of a lifetime.

Day 11 Remembrance Sunday, fortunately the torrential rain stopped and the sun came out in time for all the memorial services all over the country - went to see Bohemian Rhapsody in our local cinema in the evening.

Day 12 Paul has been going through his wardrobe and sorted out a lot of things he no longer wears so we popped into town in the morning to drop four bags of clothing at a charity shop then treated ourselves to lunch out at a local tea shop.

Day 13 Felt in a baking mood this morning so got the cake tins out and made a chocolate sponge cake with jam and vanilla butter cream in the middle.

Day 14 Went with R to take Leo for his blood test, he didn't even flinch when they inserted the needle, what a brave boy 💙

Day 15 A day to catch up on my chores and do a bit of internet Christmas shopping.

Day 16 Treated myself to a manicure - the last one had stayed looking lovely for 5 weeks, the girl at our local salon does the best gel manicures.

Day 17 Have ticked a few more to do things off my leading up to Christmas list - cards are now bought, I got them from a 'pop up' charity shop where 100% of the proceeds will go to the charities rather than buy from a high street shop where only a small amount goes to the actual charity.

Day 18 Preparing myself for the next few days - stocking food cupboards with things a 2 year old will enjoy!

Day 19 Day went by in a blur, can't remember what went on!

Day 20 My little house guest arrived for his stay at nanny's while his mum goes into hospital to have his baby sister.

Day 21 Baby Rosie arrived safely!

Day 22 Took Leo to meet his little sister, fortunately he seemed very impressed.

Day 23 Rosie and her mum came home from hospital - we returned Leo to his family. (In the interests of full disclosure, a bottle of wine was opened within minutes of returning home to a quiet house!)

Day 24 Caught up on all the things I should have done while we had Leo staying here.

Day 25 Our first Sunday on our own for months - seemed slightly weird just setting the table for two!

Day 26 Ordered my Christmas turkey from the butcher, had my normal dilemma about the size I need and came home wondering if 7 - 8kg will be enough; it happens every year and we've never yet run out of turkey by the end of Boxing Day.

Day 27 Popped into town to do a little bit of Christmas shopping; I'm trying to buy more from local independent shops this year if possible.

Day 28 Hairdressers for a cut and colour, came out feeling years younger - they say having grandchildren keep you young - they lied 😉

Day 29 Went to a different Zumba class to my normal Tuesday one - why is it that getting myself out of the house to go to an exercise class is such an effort?  I know when I get there  I will thoroughly enjoy it so it shouldn't feel like a chore.

Day 30 Actually wrote my Christmas cards - now I just need to wrap my gifts that are going overseas and go to the Post Office to buy the stamps; am trying so hard to be organised this year!

Farewell November ... time to start the Christmas countdown

Monday 3 December 2018

Me on Monday

Let's start with Me on Saturday shall we?

If you ever hear me thinking about having a perm, please remind me of this photo!  

We went to a murder mystery dinner on Saturday and to add to the fun, we decided to dress up a bit.  The story was set in a theatre and so we embraced our inner 'luvvies' and dressed a little more flamboyantly than we normally would!  It was such a fun evening, none of us guessed who the murderer was although my character was under suspicion for much of the dinner.  

Anyway, the wig is off, my hair is washed and styled normally and Monday sees me in jeans and trainers scrabbling around on the floor of the local pre-school group with my little partner in crime, Leo.  His mummy is far from being fit enough to join in the fun (12 days after having a caesarean!) so I am doing the honours.  It's going to be a busy week trying to help out now my son in law has to go back to work.  R can't drive for six weeks, even if she felt able to, so there will be much going back and forth helping out with getting Leo to and from the childminder and taking him to pre school and his 'wiggle wiggle' song class.  I have a feeling I'm going to be very tired by the end of the week!  Fortunately we have had an invitation to a new Thai restaurant which is opening in town this weekend.  So we will be off to 'The Giggling Squid' on Friday evening and I think I'll have earned a nice glass of something chilled and food that someone else has cooked!

I am trying hard to be organised for Christmas in between all the helping out.  Cards are now written, I have a lot of presents bought, turkey is ordered and I have about half a dozen list of things to do and when to do them.  And in the midst of all that, Paul has a birthday next week!  

Me on Monday afternoon will not be so smiley - I have a dentist appointment and yes, I know it is just for a check up but that won't stop me fretting about it.  Send positive thoughts my way - please!