Saturday, 27 June 2015

Next September...

How much of my life do I spend looking ahead? I've worked hard since I was young to not look back and to regret nothing (and guilt, darling; that isn't even in my vocabulary. Je ne regret rien) but I can't stop looking forward.

To the weekend, to the summer holidays, to September, to Christmas..... I feel sometimes that I am so not in the moment; that I'm always looking ahead.

And sometimes I like looking ahead, but other times I don't. This year September will be fun; a new job, a role that suits my abilities and projects galore to do. 2015 = good. But 2016, well, that's a different kettle of fish.

My first little baby will be 18 and ready for university. And I don't know if he'll go far or near. Whether he'll escape to adulthood or stay in his bunk bed for a little longer.

And today we joined other bloggers like Winwick Mum and Jo at Through the Keyhole who have both blogged about Uni spotting. We went to look at a possible place (York) and begin the inevitable run that is adulthood.

Giving birth to a baby was a breeze compared to giving birth to the man and letting him go.....

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Absent again. Please forgive me.

I had a really busy couple of weeks, including good news about September (I have a new role within my current school... I'll tell you more later!) and some racing around getting things done. I have photos that I want to load up, but the camera is hiding on me so they'll go on later. For now, it's time to just say, I have a few quiet weeks ahead of me at last, so a chance to get the blog clean and tidy, perhaps sort a room in the house out and get my memories down on paper ready to go up. For now, I'll leave you with a cute picture. And a couple of questions; have you ever had one of these and are they difficult to care for?

The familiar pet was a rare animal until biologist Israel Aharoni set out to find it.

Friday, 5 June 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

A book club favourite this year;

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was our Bookclub read for April, but I'm only just catching up with reviews and things like that now.

It's a thriller that starts with Rachel who travels by train every day past the row of houses where she used to live with her ex-husband Tom. She is solitary and sad and makes up a story about a young Golden Couple who live near to her old house. She wants what they have, but like so many people looking in to a relationship from outside she doesn't see the reality behind the smile.  When her fantasy wife disappears and then is found dead, believed murdered, she gets involved, desperate to work out what happened. It's like she stalks the dead woman's life, visiting her therapist, her family and even the husband. Rachel has nothing else to do; she's an alcoholic and needs a purpose, because her job, that she travelled to by train every day, has gone and she is so lacking in self confidence.
As the plot develops the characters lives wind together in sometimes unexpected ways.
The book is told first person by Rachel in the present day and Megan who we hear from the past as well as Anna, the woman who has replaced Rachel in her house. Their viewpoints colour our perceptions and give us enough to make decisions about what is happening without letting the cats out of the bag.

It's a book that, like Gone Girl, relies on plot rather than empathy. The characters aren't pretty, not likeable, but the book works in getting you hooked so you have to read on to the end just to see what happens to them all. I can't say much more without letting secrets slip, so I will just have to say that the bookclub readers all (bar one) really enjoyed it and found themselves reading late into the night to find out what happened. Is it realistic? Perhaps not, but it's engrossing. And sometimes an engrossing book is better than a realistic one when it's a cold, dark night and you need to be engrossed.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Still playing with the camera...

I am inordinately proud of my front door. If you remember, last year I painted it and spruced it up a little, but it was still crowded and cluttered, just because my style is slightly cluttered and crowded.
Last week I decided that the summer styling of my door needed something a little more elegant, less in your face. So I cleared the pots away, cleaned the brass and washed the step (still haven't painted the window frames or eaves yet!) and felt rightly pleased with the effect. For about £10 (two cheap marguerites and two pots at £1.25 each) my door has a little more grace and elegance.

 And because a little is good and more must be better, some purely gratuitous shots that I fiddled with using my camera.
 The Painting effect
 Toy Camera 2. My first camera when I was 10 automatically did this. It was a 110 with film on a double ended cassette. Don't tell me, you're too young to remember 110 cameras. At least it wasn't a box brownie!
 Cross effect. At first I was cross because I couldn't see what the effect was.... but look at the sparkle on that front door window! And the flowers!!!

 Ye Olde Fronte Doore. From the Victorian era. (well, 18.59 at least. That's nearly 7 o'clock pm)

 High Def Monochrome. Pointless to show off a red door.

 Cyan filter. As far as I can work out, it's the shade of blue your lips turn when you're choking.

 Schindlers List, red picked out.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Wednesday Wind Up

On a Wednesday, for once and without a gap in between!

What am I reading this week?
I am reading something that isn't Poldark!!! I'm reading Hip Tranquil Chick and contemplating taking up Yoga. Slow yoga, cool yoga, sit in a space and stretch greatly yoga. Not Hot Yoga or Bithram Yoga which seems more like keep fit than yoga. I found Kimberly's site, I'm reading her book but I won't be getting hooked on pink any time soon.

Fiction-wise  I am going to start this book tonight; The Book of You by Claire Kendal.  A psychological thriller perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Before I go to Sleep. That's what the Amazon page says. Well, since I liked both of those, I'm prepared to give this one a go. I shall share results with you next week!

What have I watched this week?
Paddington... again! I needed a film that felt like a warm hug, and Paddington it was. I am still lusting after the house.

Image result for paddington the film house
 I never thought my house needed blossoms up the stairwell.... until now.

Or that blue, yellow and red could work so well in a kitchen. I love the old fashioned kitchen cupboard, the shelf of pans above the cooker and the large family eating table.

Where have I been this week?
 Since last Wednesday? Nowhere really. the weekend was a quiet affair, with a good deal of spring cleaning going on. I did go to Poundstretchers today especially to buy some Zoflora. 

I have bought the hyacinth scented Zoflora and I am going to give my kitchen floor a quick rinse with a capful of Zoflora in a bucket of warm water. It is supposed to smell heavenly. We'll see. This post is not sponsored by Zoflora, by the way, but I might have a spread bet on with my Zoflora-hating son that I can't mention Zoflora more than 5 times in a single post about something that's not specifically Zoflora. I'm not going to count the Zofloras, by the way, but I think I've beaten the challenge.

How has my spending gone this week?
Very well. It's back to school, so as long as I stay off Amazon and Ebay I don't spend a lot. I had to buy a new blusher to replace my completely used up one, and a new magazine arrived for me this week, but aside from that I have tried hard.

What are my WIPs this week?
I passed by our local Barnardo's this week and found this in a small corner, for the ghastly price of £1.49. I considered bargaining to save a little more, but reminded myself that it was in aid of charity after all. So I paid over my money and was about to leave, when the lady called me back and gave me the tapestry frame that had been passed in with it as well. So my WIP this week is a Tree Of Life. Mine looks like this;

I started it on Monday at Craft and Chatter and it is a very therapeutic thing to do. It will be lovely when it is finished. I know, because I did this very same pattern 22 years ago and gave it away. This one is all mine.

Any Other Business?
Yes. Brocante Home is sorted out. Alison has finally made contact with those who have ordered the download off her and apologized. She is struck down by grief for her Mum and the condition that she herself has. She is taking time off to let herself have some space, to think through what she wants to do and to plan for the future. It must be hard to have been a blogger who relies on the site and the downloads for an income. Things have changed over the 8 years I have been blogging; there are so many more of us, the market has really opened up and the cost of many digital items is questioned by the people who buy them. A thing has to be really good value before the hard-earned spondulicks are passed over! I hope Alison finds a workable solution for her sake. And in the meantime I find that I am tidying and cleaning more for fun. I'm reading Simple Abundance, writing my own meditations and beginning again to make lists of things to love, or cherish or enjoy.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Variety is the Spice of Life!

My spices don't go in my spice cupboard; I've tried all sorts to store and have spices to hand, including keeping them on shelves, in a revolving rack and in the drawer of my butcher's block. But all to no avail. They need to  be at hand, but covered so the sun and heat doesn't affect them. Not in the drawer out of sight so I never think to add spices or herbs to my cooking.

YouCopia 18-Bottle Original SpiceStack, Silver Spice Organizer/Rack
I thought I had a solution in the spice rack that I found at Amazon;
YouCopia 18-Bottle Original SpiceStack, Silver Spice Organizer/Rack looks really useful, and it would solve my problems spice wise, but I haven't got the spare spondulicks at the moment, so I needed a similar solution for the total cost of nothing.

Enter a plastic set of drawers I had used for card and sticker storage in the past. With a little pattern making, alphabetising and an investment in some new spices (ground spices lose their pungency after a while and some of my spices were getting on), my spice drawers are ready and waiting for me to make..... sausage paella using cumin and turmeric, a good-sounding apple cake with allspice, pasta sauces a plenty with Italian herbs and many, many more dishes enhanced with a sprinkle of crushed chillies or smooth, smoked sweet paprika. It's right there, next to the cooker and prep surface. Convenient and easy!

Can't wait!! (it's a shame we're having Sainsbury's pizza for tea tonight; eh well, there's always tomorrow!)

Monday, 1 June 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Ah ha! I got VERY organised and not only is all my planning done for June, but in pdf/png format as well! The M- numbers afterwards are the numbers of the recipes in my ditsy recipe file box. Some of them I need to read, others I know virtually by heart and don't actually look at much beyond a peek when I do my shopping list.

And NLFS is Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer. After her appearance on Eurovision I just had to get her book out, and see what recipes I wanted to use.