Monday, 30 March 2015

Me on Monday - 30 March

There is an old proverb which goes along the lines of 'you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs' - in other words, in order to achieve something it's inevitable that something gets destroyed.  So let's call the tidying and reorganising of the study my weekend omelette and the chaos and clutter that has been made by decluttering is definitely my broken eggs. 'Let's get rid of that old bookcase' says my husband, 'let's get something lower and more streamlined, it will make the room look bigger and anyway (wait for it) that bookcase is only full of your old things we never look at.'  Ahem.  That bookcase is/was full of a lot of my things with one whole shelf dedicated to scrapbooking albums, books that I have read but don't want to get rid of, the kids' school record files and assorted maps and tourist guides of places we have been.  The shelf that he claims responsibility for is full of files of paperwork, bank details and that like.  So of course everything had to be removed from the shelves and that means that the floors of the study and the landing outside it are now covered in piles of 'rubbish', 'recycling', 'charity shop' and 'to go in the new storage unit' (yet to be bought, so that could be there a while!)  What a load of random things we've found tucked away in between all the books and albums.  Most of which, I do have to begrudgingly agree, is rubbish - and a lifetime's supply of jiffy bags that are obviously too good to throw away and can be reused.  Seriously, if you ever see me in the newsagents buying a new padded envelope, drag me away and give me a good talking to.  I've found a new place for the albums, been ruthless about the books, and found a new home for school days mementoes.  Files of paperwork have been rehomed in an existing cupboard and it's been a good project - apart from the mess that it has caused!
It's been the first weekend of it being just the two of us, with Rachel moved into her new home.  It's been a weekend of tidying and clearing and following the arrival of a quote for a new kitchen, a weekend of planning and choosing and decisions.  Brochure browsing (so many brochures!), perusing Pinterest, and sourcing sinks.  Worktop wondering, colour choosing and trying not to think about how much it will cost! 
 So here we are at Monday again,

 Popping into Waitrose on the way home from work
And ...
Realising I hadn't changed the clock in my car when we went to British summertime yesterday

 This time I managed to remember how do it without going back to the car dealership for help! The year before that I drove around for 6 months with the wrong time showing as I couldn't work out how to change it and it seemed easier to just spend 6 months waiting for it to change back again! 
Me on Monday as suggested by Sian

Monday, 23 March 2015

Me on Monday - 23 March

Oh hello! Thanks for popping by and seeing what Me on Monday looks like this week.  It's a bit like this 

Trying to get my layout sorted for my quilt.  I've just ordered my backing fabric and binding.  Now I shall be stalking the postman!  I'm itching to get it put together as my weekend held quite a bit of sewing
Also a bit of paper folding. I had seen a great idea on Julie's blog for origami bookmarks and although I do own some 'proper' bookmarks, I can never find one when I need it so I immediately made one to put in the latest book that I'm reading.  I find myself using old receipts, scraps of envelopes, tissues and anything else that is flat (I do draw the line at food items though - unlike some people!) Then I thought how they would be useful for marking pages in cookery books so you can easily find your recipe without going through the index. Especially in recipe books that are so old and well thumbed that the index pages are no longer actually attached to the book!  These are going to be so useful!

We started the weekend on Friday, with a lovely Indian meal out at a local restaurant with the lovely Denise and 'himself'. Good food, good company, a great start to a couple of days off.  Rumour has it that our son was on ITV News at Six. He's working in an office which is near the ITV studios and they were talking to people out in the street about the eclipse.  Unfortunately we didn't know he'd had a few minutes of national fame, and missed it, but his poor Grandma nearly fell off her chair when she suddently saw her grandson on the television! 
Sunday involved dog walks and selfie fails
It took a few goes to get us all in the picture and one of us not checking out trees for squirrels and pigeons (Coco's arch enemies. Her mission is to scare every single one out of our local area. It's not working).
The last weekend of Rachel living at home so she cooked for us Saturday night and we had a few of her favourites for Sunday lunch. Needless to say she has left packing up clothes and toiletries until the last possible minute so there was a fair bit of suitcase and box packing going on.  Then in a moment of madness she suggested that I might like to learn how to put highlights in her hair.  We've often joked about how annoying it must be for her to know how to do it for other people but then having to pay for someone else to do it to her hair.  I was a very willing student but after the initial enthusiasm of 'you can easily learn how to do this Mum', she seemed a little nervous to actually be sitting in the kitchen with a gown round her shoulders, a pile of foils by her side and me with a brush full of bleach in my hands.  At this point I would like to say that I have watched the hairdresser do this many a time and thought it looked quite straightforward ... however ... it's not as easy as it looks!  There's combs in one hand, foils in another, switch the comb for the bleach brush, keep the hair tight, don't get it near the scalp, keep a clean line, fold the foil nicely.  I was mighty nervous but she seemed quite confident in my ability and that confidence rubbed off.   After a nerve wracking 20 mins I sent my client up to the bathroom to wash her hair and reveal the results.  Fortunately, it looked good!  Then she said 'how do you fancy cutting it too?' Oh yes!  I was fired up.  It was a bit like when you're little and you give your Barbie doll a new look, but with 'Barbie' giving instructions, and comments like 'oh my goodness, I can't believe I'm actually letting you do this'.  I probably took about 2" off all round and she did genuinely seem very happy.  Don't think I'm quite ready to give up the day job yet though!
And that's it for another week. Giving a Monday wave to Sian

Monday, 16 March 2015

Me on Monday - 16 March

 Well that was a weekend and a half! A weekend that reminds me how incredibly blessed I am. A weekend where I was made to feel so special and so loved.  A weekend that took me by surprise. A birthday weekend. Obviously that wasn't the surprise, I have had 57 years to get used to the fact that 14 March is my birthday, but I thought I had a quiet evening in with a nice Thai take away planned. Maybe a glass of prosecco to toast the occasion. I thought it would be just me, Paul and Rachel, oh and Coco. Wrong on all counts! 
I was banned from the kitchen, in hindsight I realise now it was so I didn't see the contents of the fridge! Because in the afternoon, Jon turned up unexpectedly and then they announced that Rachel and Jon were cooking a special birthday meal and their partners were coming too.  The menu was all my favourite things: goats cheese and caramelised onion tart followed by slow roast honey glazed lamb, celeriac, potato and smoked cheese mash, with glazed carrots. A brief rest before carrying on with lemon meringue pie and then chocolate birthday cake. 
While they were causing chaos in my kitchen cooking up a storm, I was instructed to put my feet up and enjoy a mojito 

Which distracted me from the fact that Rachel was decorating the dining room 
Birthday banner. Check. Paper chains. Check. Personalised placemats. Check. Part bags of sweets. Check. Birthday balloon. Check.

While Jon was carving the meat 
To make this 
I was totally surprised by it all, so much thought had gone into it all. I am so grateful.
Of course, the following day was Mothers Day, so they were in charge of mealtimes again and I can honestly say that I have never been so pampered over a whole weekend.
So today's Me on Monday sees me doing this 
Dismantling paper chains and tissue paper pom poms.
And drinking tea from my Mother's Day present from Rachel

I do love an Emma Bridgewater mug.  I never knew you could get them personalised!  So that's it.  All over for another year!  Let's give a quick wave to Sian who had the idea for Me on Monday.  There's been birthday celebrations in her family too.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Me on Monday - 9 March

After a weekend when it really felt like Spring had sprung, this is Me on Monday ...

Getting used to my new glasses.  I've reached that stage where I need to wear them all the time now so I decided to treat myself to some new frames.
It was a real mix of a weekend. Bulk cooking to fill mother in law's freezer, visits to the accountant and realising his office is right in the heart of 'The only way is Essex' land (seriously, day trips to Brentwood and organised tours of Amy Childs' salon, Gemma Collins' boutique and all the nightspots they feature on TV) trying a new recipe on Saturday night and discovering a new spice mix on the way, Ras en Hanout anyone?  If you like Moroccan flavours you have to give it a try.  Long dog walks in the sunshine, and even mowing the lawn for the first time this year.
Can I sneak in a little something that happened on Friday as an 'almost the weekend' event? I received my last postcard from Sian's postcard exchange
All the way from Beverly in the US. Isn't it lovely?  My collection is complete! 
Back to the weekend proper -
Sunday was mostly spent at a quilting exhibition at Duxford, near Cambridge.  I think I read somewhere in the terms and conditions of entry that it was compulsory to buy something before you were allowed home; my story and I'm sticking to it. I now have a batch of new fabrics to play with 
I have never seen so many fabrics in one place. Duxford is an Imperial War Museum dedicated to aircraft and the exhibition was held in an aircraft hangar.  Oh, the choice. It would have been very easy to spend serious amounts of money, I was very restrained!  I also bought a kit to make a textured paper pieced picture (wish me luck!)it all seemed quite straightforward while the lady who designed them explained it to us but now I've got it home ... oh well, I will keep you informed!  Maybe the new glasses will make everything clearer ;-)
Giving a big wave to Sian who arranged the Me on Monday meme.  I'd love to see what you're up to today too - why not join in?

Monday, 2 March 2015

Me on Monday - 2 March

Mmmmm birthday cake ...

oops, caught in the act ...
We had an early birthday celebration weekend over here for my son and just because you get to be 25 doesn't mean you're too old for your mum to cook you a birthday cake.  Covered in your favourite sweet things, Cadbury finger biscuits, fudge squares, M&Ms and Galaxy counters. It was lovely to see him, he had to come home in advance of the big day as he's off to Paris for a few days with his girlfriend for his actual birthday and one of his presents was Euros for spending in France.  I hope he spends them wisely, if he dares to come back with a beret, a stripey t shirt and a string of onions ...
So after a stressful morning at work, I think I deserve a bit of chocoholic sustenance. Oh yes, it's the day that primary school children hear which secondary school they've been allocated.  I had over 120 letters ready to be posted out to unsuccessful applicants.  I think my phone's going to be ringing off the hook tomorrow.  Must remember to take cake energy food into work for elevenses.
The weekend was busy, there was lots of cooking to be done to make sure that the birthday boy got some of his favourite foods for dinner, presents to wrap, kitchen brochures to be scrutinised, rugby to be watched (bad result), football cup finals to be watched (even worse result),dogs to be walked, then dogs to be bathed. 
Well, that's the first March Me on Monday - let's give a wave to Sian She's telling tales of astronauts, expanding gardens and librarian tendancies! 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Me on Monday - 23 February

Ta dah! It's done! This is Me on Monday, having just done the final stitch in my Friendship Quilt.  I've been wanting to put it all together ever since the last square arrived but couldn't decide how to do it.  In my normal style, I did a bit of Youtube quilt tutorial watching, then a bit more, then just one more, then returned to the one I first saw which involved doing a bit of sashing with some colour corner blocks to tie it all together.  I do love it, and I really want to thank everyone who contributed to it, I can't put into words how much I've enjoyed taking part in this and can't wait to see everyone's finished works of art. 
I realised two things while doing the binding.  I love using striped 'ticking' fabric to finish off quilts.  No matter how patterned the rest of the quilt is, a subtle stripe really finishes things off.  I also realised that when it comes to binding, my favourite part is the corners.  I love mitres.  They scared me a bit when I did the binding on my first quilt but now I love them.  They're a bit fiddly but what can I say?  Stripey fabric and mitred corners - made to go together!

I found some tape which said 'handmade with ♥' and thought it would be fun to send a little strip of it with each square I sent off. Whilst attaching the backing to the front I suddenly remembered that I hadn't put any on my own quilt.  A quick bit of zig zagging and it was the finishing touch.

It's the first day back at work here after the half term week break and it's hard to get back in the swing of things.  Thank goodness Monday is only half a day for me!
How was your weekend?  Mine was pretty busy with decorating again.  Our daughter is having furniture delivered in her new home and wanted to get all the painting done in the rooms before it arrived.  Although she and her partner had put one coat of paint on all walls last weekend, some of them needed a second coat and he wasn't able to come down this weekend.   R was determined to get all the painting finished so we popped round in the afternoon to help and that was Saturday sorted.  Then she needed some lights put up on the wall, and a bathroom cabinet fitted, a mirror hung on the wall etc.  Of course they haven't got their own electric drill so it was a case of 'Dad, could you pop round and help?' Which briefly translates to 'can you come and do it?'.  Someone had offered them a spare double bed for free and that had arrived so Sunday I went round to help her build that too.  Two women.  A dismantled double bed with ornate metal frame in many pieces.  No instructions.  It felt like quite an achievement when we got it done and I do feel now that my work is done.  Whatever isn't done now, they can do themselves - It's all down to them now!
So with tired arms and an aching back I'm giving up a wave to Sian who suggested that we all share photos of what we're doing each Monday.  Hope you are going to join in too!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Putting it all together

A little over a year ago,  Fiona  contacted me to ask if I'd be interested in joining in a patchwork quilt sharing project.  The idea was to get 12 people to each send one square, every month to the next person on the list.  Would I like to join in?  Yes I would! Oh my goodness, I was ridiculously excited to be included and I was so enthusiastic, on most months I had the next square ready to send on before the clock struck midnight on the first day of the next month!  I loved the fact that everyone had chosen a different colour scheme and it was fun to look through my fabrics, or use it as an excuse to buy more, to find something that I thought fitted the brief. 
On the month that it was my turn to receive my squares I practically stalked my postman, and was super excited whenever a package arrived that looked like it could have a six and a half inch patchwork square inside.  Then there was the official taking of a photo to put on instagram before I lovingly looked it over and admired the handiwork.
I received my last square a little while ago and I've been trying to think of how to put it all together.  With a week off work for half term holidays, I decided it was time to stop procrastinating and actually get the sewing machine back out.  There was slight moment of terror when I could not find all the squares.  A half hour of panic, pulling the bookcase apart and generally causing havoc and mayhem everywhere I thought it could be.  I'd been carefully storing them all in a jiffy bag on top of some cookery books in the dining room bookcase but one was missing!  By sheer fluke, I opened a folder that I use for storing all the recipes I get from the Cookery Club I go to at a local restaurant and there it was, safely still in its envelope. 
I decided to do a simple sashing to join them up, and found a remnant of some off white calico which gave a nice soft background to the squares.  Everyone had interpreted the colour scheme 'Spring colours' slightly differently and at first I wondered how it would all work with squares ranging from the very pastel, to quite bright, with all hues in between, but when I looked more carefully, I could see that there was continuity there and I hope you'll agree that they do look rather fabulous now they are all sewn together.
I decided to pick out the pale blue as the corner square for the sashing and it does seem to have work well.  Months ago when I was at a local store I saw the softest, prettiest cuddlesoft plush fabric and knew that I was going to use it for the backing.  The photo doesn't do it justice, so if you are ever in the area and fancy popping in to stroke it to see what I mean, you'll be very welcome!
I felt quite emotional sewing this all together, it seems so strange that people from all over the world have contributed to my quilt.  And apologies to Denise for all the Snapchat pictures I've sent her as it has progressed, she'll probably get the sack from work for looking at her phone too often!  But I so loved working with these lovely squares; there were some from America, one from Australia, one from Spain and one from Ireland amongst them.  People who've been quilting for a while and people who haven't quilted before.  A hand sewn one and even (wait for it) one from Alexa who had designed and printed her own fabric!  Oh yes!  As I worked them into my pattern, it was lovely to think that I was touching fabric that had been worked on by people I have never met in real life (except Denise!)but who have become friends though blogging. 
I can't wait to get this finished, although I know that once I sew that last stitch I will sigh with a little feeling of 'oh, that's over now'.  But oh the memories of sending and receiving these little squares of fabric, and the friendship that got the ball rolling.  The thought that all over the world, a little square of fabric from me will become part of 11 other Friendship Quilts; it's a lovely thing.  Thank you SO much Fiona for organising it.  I can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with for their squares, and I promise to share the final quilt once that last stitch has been made.