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 a.maze.ing.  

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!

Cheers!

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˜‰
πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„

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!

Monday, 21 August 2017

Wedding number two

What's better than a wedding in the family?

Two weddings in the family!

Our son got married on Saturday in the first of two celebrations.  This one was the legal ceremony

 

that was held at Clissold House which is very close to where they live in London.  It was a lovely ceremony and, as you can see, the bride and groom were amazingly happy and smiley all day!  We went on for a fab lunch in Hackney and it really was a wonderful day.  I feel so incredibly fortunate to know that both my 'kids' have found partners who fit so well into our family and make them so happy.

The best bit about the wedding?  The fact that we get to do it all over again next week!  That's when the marquee celebration for all friends and family will be there.  The land it is on isn't licensed for weddings - hence the legal ceremony at a registry office this weekend.  So Paul was roped in (excuse the pun) to put up the structure yesterday as it has to have time for guy ropes and poles to be adjusted to make sure it doesn't collapse while we are all having our dinner!  But please don't imagine a typical romantic styled wedding marquee with white canvas and twinkly lights - that's so not them, oh no, this is more a festival feel location - fancy wedding chairs?  Forget that and picture hay bales covered in quilts.  Oh, and did I mention the Mexican theme?  Remember me stressing about making Rachel's wedding cake and being thankful I wasn't going to be responsible for Jon's?  Well I have just been talked into helping out with it - only this time it isn't actually made of cake ... watch this space!  They are both quite unconventional and the day is going to be quite unlike your normal wedding party.  

Which seems a good point at which to end this blog post as, according to my to-do list for today, I have a piΓ±ata to fill with sweets.






Monday, 7 August 2017

Through the keyhole

Remember that tv show where they showed you round the inside of someone's house and you had to guess who lived there?  Well, as I typed 'what does a hornet look like' into a well known search engine, I wondered what people would think of me if they just looked at my recent search history.  Trust me, it is completely random! 

Why was I looking for hornets? (although I was not really looking for them, we suspected we had one in our conservatory) My husband is not bothered by any flying insects.  I, on the other hand, am a wasp magnet and they will find me wherever I happen to be, and no amount of flapping around with my arms will get rid of them.  Apparently, this is lesson one in the how to avoid wasps manual.  Flapping gets them all riled up and makes you more attractive to their vicious little stinging machines.  'Just ignore it, it will go away' says the husband.  'Easier said than done' I yell as I run off in the opposite direction.  He calmly stays where he is, waits for the stripy enemy to land and with a flick of the thumb and middle finger, swats it into submission.  So, when he appeared perplexed by an unwanted visitor in the conservatory last night, I knew it was time to really worry.  He's never phased by anything like that so when he said, close the door and don't let Coco out here, I knew it was more than just a wasp.  It was still there this morning, twitching it's stripy body and flickering its wings.  Once we had formally identified it (neither of us like to kill any insect and prefer to simply re-home them elsewhere) the step ladder and rolled up newspaper was moved into position and a few minutes later we were hornet-less.  Now we can all relax.

Talking of ladders, last night I was also looking for this


It's known at the 'milk ladder' and is a method for introducing milk into a baby's diet when milk intolerance is suspected.  At the end of last year, Leo was failing to put on weight and certain evidence in the nappy department (I won't go into details, some people may be reading this while eating their breakfast) suggested he had either allergies or intolerances to something that Rachel was eating which was coming through in her milk.  The likely culprits were either egg, milk or soya so she's been on a restricted diet and he's come on in leaps and bounds.  About 3 months ago they had to challenge the egg aspect and give him some cake which had cooked egg in it.  He had a bad reaction, so much so that he now has an epipen just in case he is accidentally given something that has egg in it.  She's introduced soya into her diet and that hasn't had any bad effects. The next thing to challenge was milk and he's started on a 12 step programme to introduce egg.  First thing is malted milk biscuits (which he loved) then digestive biscuits (which he loved) and tomorrow he can try mini muffins or cupcakes so I've been searching for egg free recipes.  If there is anyone out there who know of a good recipe, let me know!  

Another recent search was for this
Rachel had a couple of hydrangea heads in her wedding bouquet which led me to eye up the shrub we have in our garden but I wasn't sure if we would ruin the plant by cutting some to bring indoors.  Some flowers prefer to be left where nature intended.  Fortunately, all seems ok and I love the way these look in the dining room.

Other recent searches include Lyme disease (hypochondriac in me suspected a random insect bite on husband's leg) Wedding readings (R is doing a reading at J's wedding and still hasn't decide which one to do) Online take away menu for our local Thai restaurant, (friends came over on Saturday night) Lightroom tutorials (just downloaded the programme on the computer and tendonitis exercises.  This gives an impression of a limping, hungry, health worried, speech giver who plans to take pictures of her dinner at her son's wedding.  What does your history say about you?   


Thursday, 3 August 2017

There under false pretences

I did something I never thought I would have to do yesterday, which resulted in a shopping trip today to buy something I wouldn't normally buy.  Yesterday I found myself ringing up a local physiotherapy practice to book in for a ...

Sports therapy massage.

Yes.  Me. The most un-sporty person I know.  Turns out the sports masseur is on holiday but before I had chance to put the phone down, I found myself being booked in with an osteopath.  That morning.

On arrival I thought I was bound to be discovered as a fraud and marched out with a 'you've never seen the inside of a sports hall, go on, be off with you' but I meekly took my clipboard with questionnaire attached to it, rated my pain between 0 and 10 and circled an outline of a body to show where it hurt.  

Before the ink from my signature was dry I was called into the treatment room and asked to describe why I was there.  I wasn't limping, bleeding or bandaged and there was no obvious injury on show.  Because, in my unprofessional opinion, I am suffering with 'flip flop ankle'.  Happens from time to time when I'm on holiday and living in flip flops all the time or if I've been walking the dog in flat soled shoes with no cushioning in the foot.  A lady I work with snapped her achilles tendon a couple of years ago and I wondered if that was preceded by an incident of flip flop ankle so thought I should get it checked out as I cannot get out of bed without ouches, groans, limps and moaning about excruciating pain.  After an hour or so of walking around it goes completely but apparently this can be a bit annoying, so I was marched (delicately) to the physio. 

Now, it hadn't crossed my mind that the examination may include looking in depth at my feet and I'm not a great one for having my feet touched - especially by strangers.  I felt ridiculously proud to be told that I had 'good arches' only to then be told that he could feel a real tightening of the muscles there which may mean plantar fasciitis is about to start.  That sounded much worse than flip flop ankle.  Further examination of my calf confirmed that the muscles which lead to the achilles from there are really tight too and he wanted to concentrate on deep tissue massage there.  Whilst doing that he mentioned that he also liked to include acupuncture in treatment as it speeded up healing and was good for pain relief.  Would I be willing to have a few needles put in, just for a minute.  My brain screamed 'no' but my mouth said something along the lines of 'if you think it will help, then that's fine'.  Stupid mouth, it should wait for the brain to catch up sometimes.  A 'few' apparently means two rows of three down each calf and four around the edge of the achilles tendon.  TEN.  On each leg.  Well, the thinking about it was worth than the actual doing it and a minute isn't that long is it?  

So I'm trying not to wear completely flat, uncushioned soles but obviously need something suitable for walking other than my tatty 10 year old trainers so today I've been out to buy some smarter lightweight trainers.


 

They are extremely comfortable, with memory foam insoles and it's like walking on a springy mattress.  Let's hope my ankles appreciate them.  We're off to Rome in September and there's a lot of walking to be done, I need to be fixed by then.  It'd be awful if I had to be seated in a bar somewhere for a couple of hours every lunchtime while my feet recovered wouldn't it?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The Hunt goes on

So here we go with the next batch of Scavenger Hunt photos in the challenge set by Mary-Lou 

1 Fuzzy




8 Rust or derelict



9 Kite or balloon



12 Wedding



18 Fan



22 Dial



So that leaves me with just 6 to find, of course it means that they are not the easiest ones but things like 'pipe' or 'inside' which makes me want to think outside the box - but I know I will get there by the end of the time scale!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Farewell to Sanditon

I've finished it! 
Now, I'm not going to lie.  At the beginning I wasn't sure I was going to like it.  It took me ages to get into the Jane Austen style of writing and at times I found myself quite impatient with her.  So many commas and long winded sentences.

Ironically, the point at which I found myself relaxing into the story and looking forward to the next chapter was at a point in the story where a group of visitors to Sanditon left the resort to visit somewhere else.  As the plot gathered speed and a few twists and turns appeared I felt myself mellowing to the style of writing.  But it may have also been because the 'other lady' had an easier style to her narrative.  I was wondering who she was and a little google research suggests it was Marie Dobbs. Apparently early works by Jane Austen were attributed merely to 'A lady' rather than naming her properly and this is why the actual name of the person finishing the book is kept secret.  Anyway, it's done - all pages read and I'm ready now for any probing questions and homework Julie and Ruth may wish to send my way!  

So the first week of the summer holidays has gone in the blink of an eye.  The days have been full and we're another week closer to wedding number two.  I've sewn all the table runners for this one now and on Saturday Rachel and I went to the UK hen do for people who didn't go to the overseas rave up.  Sophie's mum had found photos of her growing up and we all chose a photo to replicate so the afternoon could be themed as Sophie growing up.  This led to Rachel looking a bit like Britney Spears in the infamous school uniform and me looking scarily like Harry Enfield's character 'Kevin'.  It was a fun afternoon which included having to make a wedding dress out of 4 rolls of toilet paper.  Hopefully, the real thing will be slightly classier πŸ˜‰ not to mention a little more hardwearing if she should spill anything down it!  






Monday, 24 July 2017

The week after the week before

I'm exhausted.  Proper 'just need to sit down for a moment and close my eyes' exhausted.  

What with the emotional lead up to the wedding, followed by the brilliant day itself and then a little house guest coming to stay.  This picture of him sums it up nicely.


R&J weren't going to have a honeymoon, but at the very last minute they wondered if perhaps we may have L for a couple of nights so they could have a 'mini moon'.  But if you're going abroad, it's silly to just go for 2 days isn't it?  And so his reservation was amended to Wednesday to Saturday.  While mummy and daddy were posting Instagram pictures of champagne glasses clinking in classy restaurants in Palma, or views from their sun loungers at exclusive beach resorts, we were sitting at the dining table at home, slightly spattered with chicken casserole and trying to convince a small grandson that he really didn't need to hand any of his dinner over to an optimistic dog who had set up residence by the side of his high chair.

He is a little pocket rocket.  From the moment his eyes open in the morning until they reluctantly close at night, he's on the go - every. single. minute.  At that stage where he desperately wants to walk but doesn't quite have the balance skills but boy is he fast at the 100m coffee table cruise event.  Now, we're not as young as we were and we don't have those same energy supplies so we ended up feeling absolutely exhausted. In a lovely way, but boy did we collapse in the armchair once his mum and dad had come to pick him up!  Swiftly followed by a 'isn't Carluccio's doing a free G&T with every main course this weekend?' last minute table booking for that evening.

All of this is really leading up to me ashamedly admitting that I haven't finished reading Sanditon.  The spirit has been willing, but my tired little eyelids are weak.  I normally read every night before going to sleep but it's just not happened recently.  I have got as far as 'the other lady' taking over the story after Jane dying and I don't know if it's because I've got used to the style of writing or not, but the chapters seem a little easier to read now.  The sentences not quite so convoluted and certainly a lot less commas being used!  There's a fair amount of 'eye candy' appearing on the scene for our heroine to admire although I'm not sure a seaside resort aimed at the injured or infirm is the best place for a young lady to find true love.  

So, one wedding over and a brief interlude before the next one arrives.  This week's task involves making table runners for 13 wedding tables.  I can never say I'm bored can I?


Monday, 17 July 2017

Wedding

Spoiler alert - this post could quite possibly be all about the wedding.  Actually, who am I kidding?  It will be all about the wedding.  Did it go well?  I'll let this photo of Rachel give you a hint


I have never seen her so happy!  100% can't stop smiling happy.  The day was just perfect, I can't think of a thing that we would have changed.  It was a little bit cloudy, but warm enough to have the ceremony outside.  

Which is a bit of a novelty here, I've never been to an outside ceremony before and none of their friends had been married outside so it made the day even more special than it already was.

The cake which had stressed me out so much looked fine


And the happy couple/trio had the most amazing day of their lives


As you can imagine, Leo managed at times to steal the show - when he came down the aisle in the arms of the chief bridesmaid with a sign saying 'Daddy, just wait until you see Mummy'.  Not to mention when he went up to the ceremony table to have his photo taken with them after they had signed the register. And the time that he showed impeccable timing in cuteness.  He had been a little overwhelmed by the noise and amount of people in the room when we first sat down for the meal and someone had taken him just outside the room until it quietened down.  When his name was mentioned in the Father of the Bride speech, she stepped back into the room with him, he grinned at everyone and gave a little wave.  One of those totally unscripted brilliant moments.  What a superstar he is.  

We are still on a wedding high, and my Facebook pages are full of tags from people who have uploaded photos. So I'm spending much of my day just refreshing my feed!   Normal Monday morning service will resume as soon as possible!