Wednesday, 25 November 2015

An unwanted guest

We have a mouse.  I say 'mouse' because although I know they don't live solitary lives, I don't like to think we have a family of them.  He's in the garage and he's a cheeky little thing.  The first we knew of his existence was a hole appearing in the bag of Coco's food.  Now, if Coco had been out there and got hold of that bag, there is no way that she could have made such a small neat hole, she'd have been head first in the top, so we knew it was a mouse.

So the mouse traps came out.  I don't like the thought of killing anything, even an unwanted mouse, so we have a humane trap which just captures them.  It's like a black square tube, slightly angled at one end.  You paste peanut butter on the end, the mouse comes in, the tube overbalances and a door shuts behind the mouse.  You know there's something in there, because the trap is lying on it's side.  With a happy mouse covered in peanut butter inside.

The first morning, we came down and the tube was on its side.  My husband was summoned, well, actually I screamed 'get in the garage now, we've caught it!'  He picked up the trap, took it to the nearby field and opened it.  But it was empty.  The peanut butter was gone so we knew the mouse had been in there, but how on earth had it got out?

The second morning, the tube is on its side again.  Again, nothing inside.  Very curious.

The third morning, the tube is on its side and as he picked it up, my husband said 'there's definitely something in there this time' and took it over the field.  It trotted off in a peanut butter haze and we reset the trap in case he'd left his brother behind.

The fourth morning, tube is on its side, something inside it but as my husband picked it up, the door flipped open and the mouse ran out, into the safety of the far corner of the garage.

It has not been seen since. 

Our garage is integral to our house and we have to walk through it to get to the utility room where the washing machine is.  Needless to say, I will not be doing much washing until that trap is on its side again! And you've never seen me park my car and run into the house so fast. Now, does anyone have a cat I could borrow? 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Me on a frosty Monday

Well the temperature certainly dropped this weekend and it's not much warmer today as I wave to Sian and her merry band of Mondayers.

It was a Saturday where a light dusting of snow turned to torrential rain which dried up and let to a 'meh' kind of afternoon.   The kind of day that gives us Brits lots to talk about!
It was a Saturday evening of having our daughter and her boyfriend over for dinner as a farewell before they went off on holiday to Mauritius.  They didn't really get much of a holiday last year as although they had a relaxing week in my sister's holiday home in Portugal booked, Rachel got appendicitis 2 weeks before they were due to fly out.  Although they still got to go away, it was a very different type of holiday to that which they had planned - more of a convalescence!  So this year they decided to 'push the boat out'!  Lucky things.

It was a Sunday of waking up to the first real frost of the year, of finishing off that quilt, having a traditional Sunday roast and making a batch of vanilla fudge.  That was prompted in a most unusual way.  You see, at work I have been asking for ages if I could have a second monitor screen linked up to my computer.  It makes life so much easier if you are working with two documents at a time and despite the fact that we had two computers in our office not being used due to people leaving and not being replaced apparently it was not possible to 'borrow' one of the screens.  So I said to the Network Manager that if he arranged for me to have a 2nd monitor, I would give him some homemade vanilla fudge.  When I came back from lunch - I had two screens.  Who knew that homemade fudge could be a bartering tool?  Now what else do I need? ...
It was a Sunday of catching up on TV we had missed, of trying a new pudding recipe for dinner.  Individual panettone bread and butter puddings.  The husband reckons they were the best pudding I've ever made.  Which made me feel a little guilty as they were so easy to put together.  Just slice up half a panettone and cut into squares and fill two large ramekin dishes.  Make a custard with 2 eggs, caster sugar, vanilla extract and milk, then pour that over the panettone.  Leave to soak in for as long as it takes (half an hour?) then put in oven at 160 degrees for 15 - 20 mins.  Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and sit back and wait for the compliments!
So here we are at Monday again - and another Monday off (must remember that I'm back in the old routine from next Monday onwards).  Paul suggested a  shopping trip to Cambridge so I was in my boots and coat with the car keys ready before he had time to change his mind.  It was pleasantly busy without being crowded and we got a few early Christmas presents so all was good.  I loved this sign by a small stall selling very fancy cupcakes:
"You can't buy happiness, but you CAN buy cupcakes ...
and that's kinda the same thing"

Well it's freezing outside, which feels even colder when I look at the photo of the infinity pool by the beach that my daughter's boyfriend has just posted on Instagram.  How's Monday looking in your part of the world?

Monday, 16 November 2015

Me on a mid November Monday

It's Monday and we all know what that means - time to give a wave to Sian and the rest of the Me on Mondayers.

It was a weekend that was full of shocking news. Where views of Paris were on every news report and the world mourned so many lives lost.
We had a very busy weekend, full of food and drink, friends and family.  Our weekend started on Friday night with a meal out with friends. It was ironic that as we sat and enjoyed a meal in a restaurant which specialises in French food, horrific things were happening in Paris.  I couldn't believe what I read when I saw the news the next day. 
Saturday was a very 'social' day - we were invited over to our neighbours for a cup of tea in the afternoon.  I had met and got on well with the wife of the couple who live diagonally across from us but the husbands hadn't met properly so it was really nice to go over and see them as a couple.  She is a very talented lady and a brilliant quilter so needless to say we had lots to chat about and I learned a lot in just a couple of hours.  Then onto friends for an Indian takeaway - two late nights on the row!
Our daughter had invited us over for Sunday lunch and our son and his girlfriend came up too so that was lovely, not only to have someone else cooking Sunday lunch but to have everyone together again.  I don't think we've ever had a long weekend with so much eating and drinking - but it was really lovely.
How fortunate then that I have an unexpected (but very welcome) Monday off work.  (I'm really not busy at the moment but in a couple of weeks time it's going to be crazy so it makes sense for me to 'bank' a few hours and then make the time up when there is more to do) Of course I'm using it wisely - there's a quilt to be finished and after learning so many hints and tips at the weekend, I'm itching to get it done:

Be prepared though for a future Me on Monday post which sees me moaning about having to work a whole day on a Monday as payback for not working this morning!
How's your Monday looking?  Hope it's a good one wherever you are and however you're spending it.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Me on Monday

Hello!  How quickly these Mondays are rolling around!  It seems like only yesterday I was giving up a wave to Sian and yet here we are again. 

It was a wet and soggy weekend around these parts but what better excuse to give my new boots an outing on Saturday? These were what some may call an impulse buy or as I like to think of it, a perfect example of not realising how much you need a new pair of boots until they call to you from across the road.  You see, last Wednesday I'd popped into town to buy some white thread and a zip.  As I came out of the shop I looked across the road and saw a new display in a small independent clothes shop.  Now, I do like to support local shops so I went over for a proper look and noticed that they were also selling a few styles of shoes and boots.  One pair in particular caught my eye ... I went inside ... the pair on the display was a size 4 ... which is my size ... I tried them on ... they fitted perfectly.  It was clearly the universe telling me that these boots were meant to be mine.  With a quick swipe of a credit card, they were mine!

I'd bought my first ever copy of The Simple Things and there was a recipe for Danish Dream Cake.  So once I'd come home from taking my new boots on their first jaunt into town, I got baking.  It's like a very soft vanilla sponge on the bottom with a coconut flapjack type of topping.  It's getting the thumbs up around here!

Then of course it was Remembrance Sunday for a time of quiet reflection.  Grandma here for lunch - dog returning from her walk caked in mud and soggy leaves - and trying to work out why the programmer on our central heating system doesn't seem to like us wanting hot water and heating at the same time.  I predict an engineer's visit in the near future.  We've tried all the normal things, giving it a stern look, tapping it gently, putting the hoover nozzle up close to it to suck out any dust, blowing on it and even shouting 'why won't you work?' but nothing will convince it that hot water and hot radiators are a good thing. Thank goodness the weather is so mild.

And how does this Monday find me?
Pleasantly surprised by finding this in the mail ...

A premium bond win of £25 - just in time for Christmas, lovely!
Today it is really blustery; thankfully the central heating is behaving itself but I mustn't get too comfortable, I'm about to go out and meet a friend for afternoon tea.  Maybe those boots will be seeing their second trip into town.
See you again next week?  Same time?  Same place!

Monday, 2 November 2015

Me on a Monday in November

It's so foggy out there this morning that I'm not sure Sian will see me waving hello and joining in with Me on Monday, but I'll give up a wave anyway.
What a glorious Autumnal weekend we had. Bright and dry and sunny right up until Sunday late afternoon when the fog rolled in.
I got lots of sewing done and my sister's surprise Christmas present quilt is now complete. I'm pleased with it and I hope she will like it.  We had some lovely long dog walks in the countryside; scuffing through the fallen leaves and appreciating the beautiful colours.  I know we moan about our weather over here, but without it our seasons would not be the same.  I do like the fact that we have very different seasons through the year.
The fog set in about 5pm here and we had already planned to go to see the fireworks in a nearby town.  So we set off with our warm mulled wine in our flask and wrapped up warm in winter coats and boots.  The display was fantastic despite the fog, although a few of the fireworks went up so high, it was hard to see them through the cloud and mist but they still lit up the sky with beautiful colours.
On Thursday I had decided to get a new hair style.  I'd become bored with my bob and had considered something drastic for a little while now.  I decided that the time had come, so went into the salon with the brave words 'I want to go a lot shorter'.  We had a discussion about what my idea of 'a lot shorter' was compared to that of the guy who cuts my hair.  Turns out his idea of 'short' is very short and we had to go through a process of negotiation!  However, I'm pleased I've been brave although it still takes me by surprise every time I catch sight of my reflection.  Washing it was fun too, I'm certainly not going to be using so much shampoo!  You can guess what my 'Me on Monday' photo is going to be can't you?
(I couldn't work out what the white splodges are on my lips in the photo, turns out that when I was using the hairspray I stood too close to the mirror and I have a covering all over it!)
So yes, this morning saw me returning to work after a lovely relaxing week of Half Term holiday.  Why is it that half terms go by so fast?  After a few hours at my desk it felt like I hadn't been away at all!   

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

What's happening in my world

Earlier this week Rinda wrote an interesting post which was a variation on a meme that she found hereAs I'm home this week there is no excuse for not doing a blog post or two so thought I would join in with the idea.  
 1.  What’s the title of the last book you read? 
I have just finished the last in a trilogy of books written by Jonathan Holt.  They are fabulous!  It's hard to recommend books to people because everyone has their own taste so whilst I feel like shouting from the rooftops that everyone should read these three books I do realise that they may not be everyone's cup of tea.  In order of reading, they are The Abomination - (this may have a different title in some places) The Abduction,and The Traitor.  It's rare that my husband and I both enjoy the same book but he is hooked on these too!  They are mysteries set in Venice and a lot of the activity is linked to US military bases there.  There's a bit of political background going on without it being heavy going.  I'm not spoiling anything by telling that the Carnivia part of the titles refers to a website which has been set up by one of the characters where you can enter the world of Carnivia, which is a realistic copy of Venice, but are completely anonymous.  Needless to say, this gives people the opportunity to lead a double life, to lead a lifestyle or join groups which would be frowned upon or not be permitted in 'real life'. We're talking murders, Masonic groups, kidnapping, a bit of romance and a lot of intrigue. 
2.     What is the last thing you cooked at home? 
A friend of mine came for coffee yesterday and brought with her a large bag of windfall apples from the tree in her garden.  I've just peeled and chopped them all and part-cooked them ready to freeze for future apple crumbles.  While they were stewing I made a batch of sultana scones.  I'm looking forward to having one with a coffee after I've finished here!

3.      What is your favorite thing about Fall? 
The colours in the gardens and parks.  The leaves are so beautiful. 
4.     Share one thing that challenged you at some point over the last week.
Good job I wasn't doing this last week after the infamous excel melt down incident!  This week I've been trying to get my head around quantities of fabric needed to complete the quilt I'm making for my sister's Christmas present.  I'm not following a pattern, and adapted a quilt square I'd used before in a larger size and let's just say that there have been a few 'oh no, I'm not sure I've got enough of that fabric' moments!  However, with a bit of economical cutting, I've got all 16 squares cut and sewn now and I feel like I'm on the right track again.  But there was a moment ... Here's the work in progress, one more row to add before borders, binding and backing commence! 
5.     List three hobbies that you actively pursue or want to pursue. 
Sewing.  It's my number one craft at the moment.  Cooking.  I just love cooking, trying out new recipes and planning dinners.  Mandalas.  I got into these when I was doing the Summer of Colour and then lost the impetus, but it's something I definitely want to get back into doing.
6.      What is the most recent sporting event  you watched? 
The rugby.  I drew Australia in the sweepstake at work is in the final so I feel like I have a vested interest even though poor old England were wiped out in the very early stages.
7.     Besides watching "live TV," what service do you use to watch TV or films (netflix, on demand, etc.)?
We don't have Netflix or anything like that so if it's not on live tv or 'catch up', I don't see it!
8.     Have you started Christmas shopping yet? 
Yes.  It's early for me but I have a couple of presents that need to go overseas and I decided that I must be more organised this year rather than queuing at the post office on the last posting date.
9.      Do you have any upcoming trips?
No.  I have a few ideas of things I'd like to do next year but will wait until the New Year to actually book anything.
10.    Do you remember your dreams? 
Yes.  Vividly.  Colours, conversations - everything.  Not every day, but when I do recall them they are crystal clear.
So that's what's happening in my world; if you fancy joining in copy and paste the list and jump right in!
1.     What’s the title of the last book you read?
2.     What is the last thing you cooked at home? 
3.      What is your favorite thing about Fall? 
4.     Share one thing that challenged you at some point over the last week.
5.     List three hobbies that you actively pursue or want to pursue. 
6.      What is the most recent sporting event  you watched? 
7.     Besides watching "live TV," what service do you use to watch TV or films (netflix, on demand, etc.)?
8.     Have you started Christmas shopping yet? 
9.      Do you have any upcoming trips?
10.    Do you remember your dreams? 


Monday, 26 October 2015

Me on a half term Monday

Well Hello Monday, come on in and let's give a big old Monday wave to Sian and the rest of the Me on Monday-ers.  What's that?  I seem remarkably perky for a Monday, could it have anything to do with it being half term?  No work for me today! 
Saturday found me test driving a new floor map (what a glamorous life I lead) and really cracking on with my quilt. Having done all the cutting and matching, the squares started to come together quickly and I'm reaching the part that I love, when you can see what it's going to look like
A final job for the day was to make sure all our clocks were altered so that when we woke on Sunday they were correct for going back an hour.  No chores for me on Sunday though. We were invited to our son's for lunch.
What a treat, someone else cooking Sunday lunch!  It was a really lovely day and great to have the family all together.  Even Coco came, although she missed the photo shoot as she was on Squirrel Watch in another room. She loved the fact that she could stand up at the window sill and have a brilliant view of the garden and people walking by.
So before I tell you what I'm up to today, let me share a story which happened last week and made me feel every one of my 57 years.  You see one of my jobs is to compile the school newsletter which I actually quite enjoy even though getting people to write articles is sometimes like getting blood out of that proverbial stone.  Some of our Sixth Formers are participating in the Dragon's Apprentice Challenge and had written me an article.  They are given a set amount of money and have a year to generate as much money from that starter to finance any charity events they organise.  So they wrote me an article.  The first group are raising money for the YMCA.  The second, YCT a counselling service for young people.  The third - and I quote - is:
Age Concern -  a meeting place for the over 55's. It provides elderly people with great venue to meet new people, enjoy good, hot food and participate in a variety of activities.
Hang on a minute.  Over 55 qualifies as Age Concern? Over 55 = elderly?  Oh my goodness. How old did that make me feel?  No matter how carefully you highlight those silver strands in your hair, no matter how tastefully on trend you may try and dress, those pesky Sixth Formers apparently classify you as 'elderly'!  There's a thought to start the week on. 
So today marks the start of a week away from work and I have a caffeine filled day in store.  A friend who is a teacher coming over for coffee this morning and this afternoon meeting up with a group of friends at CafĂ© Nero in town.
And a lot of quilt sewing in between.  In fact I can't think of a better way of spending a Monday, not being at work, meeting friends and doing something crafty.  A pretty good start to the week off.  Hope your Monday holds good things too!