Thursday, 24 September 2015

Wednesday Wind Up

Thursday throw up. Doesn't have the same ring but is probably what I do most weeks; throw up my Wednesday Wind up onto the computer in a rush in between sorting out the weekend and finishing off the day.

What am I reading this week?
The Book of You was unsettling but a good read. I quite liked the ending (no spoilers!!!) but all the way through I was like, why doesn't she just go to the Police????

And I have begun The Book of Lost and Found. It's good so far, but I have only just started it. A tale of ballet dancers and hidden family secrets.

What have I watched this week?
We are watching The Following on Pick (I think). It was on Atlantic originally so we couldn't get it, but now I am very happily watching a saga of serial killers based on Edgar Allen Poe, and enjoying watching it with my big boys. At some point I find I'm looking at them and thinking that they are old enough to watch the same TV that we do. Life was easier when they watched Thomas and Friends. And I knew the words of every episode we had because, hey, we watched them every. blooming. day.

Where have I been this week?
Ask me next week. Beyond Next, for a new watch to keep playtime short and sharp, and my Mothers, I haven't been....

No, actually, I am forgetting. On Monday I went to the WI quiz night. I love the quiz evening, a monthly chance to play questions. Last year we won the North West fun quiz and that was a nice feeling. But I wonder if our quiz mistress hasn't taken it a bit seriously, because she had us separate into 'serious' quiz team and 'fun' quizzers so that we could train for the re-match in January. Cue sad faces from us seriousities because we actually quiz just for fun, and just happen to be good at it. So we did both, one for training and one for fun (so our scores didn't count) and that was even more fun. And then I came home to watch University Challenge and Only Connect. I love Quiz Mondays.

And on Tuesday I took my Mum to the WI in Rainhill, where they had their show of work on. Mum is going to join, so once a month I am going to take her again. Double WI ness.

How has my spending gone this week?
Well! I didn't need to pay for a printer service after all, when Mr Mister got me a set of toner parcels and said "Come on, let's go into the garage and get dirty". Well, I don't get invitations like that too often, so I said yes, and ended up seeing rather too much of a naked printer. Did you know that there are a lot of pieces in a printer that come out? And can be replaced? And that it is perfectly possible for a middle aged mother to do the service on the printer herself, even if she was hoping for something rather more shades of grey than cyan, magenta and the other colour....

What are my WIPs this week?
Oh, yes!!!! Wow baby!! Woo hoo! I am on the way to making TWO blankets at once, sort of following Cherry Heart and Black Sheep Wools' pattern. It's an accident, and really only because I have the Stylecraft colourway and will be following exactly the instructions as a sort of spiritual exercise (you know it's hard for me not to meddle with a pattern) but I needed to express myself as well, and I liked the bit I did on Wednesday and the next part doesn't come out until Tuesday so I thought what the hell, and went for it. I have no pictures, but I will get plenty to put up next week. I hope.

Any Other Business?
I am going to Yarndale.
I am going to Yarndale.
I am going to Yarndale.

And if you're going, then that's brilliant; how will I recognise you? I'll be the very excited one rushing around, stroking the yarn and having a ball. I'll be there on Saturday afternoon, and perhaps Sunday, although that rather depends on whether Sarah can handle two days.

Monday, 21 September 2015

The Best Things in Wales are Red

Jo (Through the Keyhole) knows me so well. I bet most of you did as well. The shelves did not linger in a garage waiting for me to feel inspired, they were done, dusted and in place in time for Downton Abbey last night (no spoilers!)

And like an amazing Welsh Dragon, it stands in my dining room, ready to be populated with my best bits of fripperies. Love it, absolutely love it.
Eye candy warning; there are some pictures coming up!

So it will sit here and wait until the shops and garden centres stock up their fairiest of fairy lights, when I will get me some white corded lights (as many and as long as possible) to string up, Nigella-style, and indulge my inner whimsy with decorating the shelves with many happy memories and cards, postcards, mugs, jars and other detritus of a life lived happily.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Dresser-ing up the house.

It took me ages to find the post I needed. I am a really bad recorder of things sometimes. I thought I'd blogged about my welsh dresser (bargain £60 at Oxfam) but it transpires I never have. Or at least not with pictures and much joy.
But I found a post with a bad picture of it here;
My Best Friend for Afternoon Tea

You can just see it in the background of the last photo. That's my dresser. It was in my dining room until Mr Mister told me it was golden pine and not mahogany and, ergo, did not match. I moved it to the garage and left it there, mourning my lost storage and especially the loss of a living style I was seeking (cottage kitsch; I love it!) And it stayed there. For. Years.
 And I wrote my planning list every year including "Paint dresser"
And every year the list entry remained unticked.

But this year a little fire has entered my belly. Or I've found my house mojo at last. For last Sunday in a golden autumn afternoon of sunshine and printer failure (I had to clean the inside, fit more parts and still admit to failure) I grabbed a paintbrush and had me a touch of therapeutic painting. The paint is the same shade I used for the door (we had a pot left over) and the handles came off the old drawer unit from Sarah's bedroom so total cost of the transformation is zero. A win.

I've only painted the base and I have to sand and paint the shelves (on my list, and won't take me years to do; I need the full Welsh Dresser hit this year, I really do) but I am really pleased with the effect so far.

I've left the top a plain wood, just sanded and not varnished. I can't decide whether it needs waxing. I can't wait to get the shelves and get my red, white and blue china up there. Imagine a shelf of willow pattern saucers and cups. Bliss.

But it still has to be useful as well as beautiful, so I took a few minutes yesterday to Brocante my dresser (as in Vintage Housekeeping from Brocante Home) and to make it pretty inside and out.

I used the same old tablecloth I lined my kitchen shelves with back in May and lined my cupboard base and the drawers. I'm sourcing baskets for storage inside, and a hessian bag for some Special Christmas Stuff.

I have more stuff inside (think two boxes of crackers for a start) but this morning is too dark for a decent photograph. I'm thinking you will see more of it as the year goes by.
Already I am trying to decide what sort of fairy lights would suit it best, how early is too early to string them up (answer; no time is too early. They can go up as soon as I buy them and stay up all year long) and whether I use green tinsel and red gingham ribbon along the edges or the back of the shelves.

If this afternoon cracks a sunny smile, I may well dive out to the garage and finish the job. Quiet Sundays are made of this.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Wednesday Wind Up; tired is a state of mind, and my mind is really powerful.

Another week passes and it's Tuesday night as I write this, watching Iron Man III (one of my favourite Christmas movies) and wishing it were possible either to go to bed at 8.30 or to take a drink of tea and feel suddenly wide awake for 3 hours before crashing to bed again. I think the sudden darkening of evenings and an overflow of issues to do with work at both school and home are pressing on me. I am not my happy Pollyanna. I need to sleep well, and soon.

What am I reading this week?
I finished Issy Bradley and it was still good at the end. I like it when a book that starts well ends well. So I moved on;

The Book of You It's weird, but good, about a woman who is being stalked (and by stalked I mean in actual danger) by a man she walks with. Clarissa was doped and date raped by Rafe, and now she wants to keep away from him, but he doesn't want to leave her alone. She can't get treated seriously by the police so a charity advises her to keep a record, and she begins to write The Book of You.

What have I watched this week?
I'm holding out for Sunday at 9pm. When this beauty returns for the last series. Downton Abbey
Now I know it's Autumn and Winter soon. Aside from that, I am still loving the Chase. Apparently I scream "Go Large or Go Home!!" when the time to make a choice comes.

Where have I been this week?
No where. I spent my weekend with a hand shoved into the inner workings of a printer trying to clear out a yellow toner explosion. I failed. And now I am wanting to get a printer service done on the blasted thing to make sure that it will still work for Mr Mr. He uses a printer daily, and it's been nearly a week since we messed up on this one....

How has my spending gone this week?
So far, not bad. But I will be paying for the service, and I am saving for Yarndale so next week.....

What are my WIPs this week?
I'm using up some autumn shades of wool on a cushion that matches my blanket. Or two cushions. It depends how much spare wool I have.

Any Other Business?
Yarndale! I'm getting excited. I'm taking Sarah and staying over in Keighley. We want to have a meal on the Saturday (I can't decide between Fish and Chips or a Chinese?)  and then on Sunday we will either re-visit Yarndale or find something else fun to do in the area. I think Sarah fancies quad bikes.... but a nice tea shop might just buy her off.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness; Autumn Ripple Ta Daah!

I cannot believe that a month ago I hadn't even planned to make a new blanket this year. I had my bedroom granny square blanket sitting doing NOTHING and was planning just to sidle slowly down into Christmas crafting.

And then I got a bug; not an illness bug, but an inspiration bug. You remember this picture above? And I sent for the wool? And I started and sat for HOURS just hooking happily along in the car, by the beach and EVERYWHERE???

And I never said, but my big fear was that when the holiday was over the half-finished blanket would sit unloved and alone while I got on with teaching and tutoring and life.

How wrong was I? I mean, I haven't sat and crocheted all day at school. They don't pay me enough to do that. They really don't. But I would do a quick row while I sipped my morning chai, or watching the footy, or even Great British Bake Off was perused whilst my hook slipped effortlessly in and out.

And then I sat for a couple of evenings with my border colours and just slogged along, a couple of rows of blue treble, a red treble, a blue treble, a mix and match red/blue double crochet border.

Tonight I watched The Chase as I sewed in the final few ends and then, in the dying sunlight of a lovely Thursday, I took my blanket porn.

And I looked.

And it was good. Very.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Wednesday Wind up... I am nearly there!

What am I reading this week?

I'm reading a strange book called A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray. Well, I say strange, but I mean good. I picked it up as a recommendation from Waterstones or Richard and Judy, one of my summer reading list that I am still working my way through. I didn't realise that it was about the Mormons, not in Utah but in Lancashire and that I would be picturing the places in the novel as I read. Queens Drive? Yes, I drive there every day. Preston, Southport, check. Been there. But the setting is actually immaterial to the story. Issy Bradley dies of meningitis and her family have to deal with this in however they can.  For Dad, that's the certain sure knowledge that they will meet again in heaven. For the others, that knowledge is not so certain, and neither is their attitude to the Mormon faith. It's a first novel, but I hope it won't be the last. I have really enjoyed it. I know more about Mormonism, and though I would never want to join, I can understand why they do what they do a little more.

What have I watched this week?
This is going to sound so old-school and cardigan-wearing. I have been watching Smiley's People [1982] [DVD] starring Alec Guinness. I sort-of remember watching Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy but I can't remember watching this follow up. We taped it off BBC4 in the early summer and it is really good. The cast list is one of those "which classic actor isn't in this?" ones. And I had forgotten quite how low, slow and mesmeric Alec Guinness' voice could be. Classic old school spy. Moscow Rules. (that's an in-joke, there)

Where have I been this week?
To work. And to Starbucks. And to Aldi. But in my mind I've been to New York and Amsterdam (thank you, Goldfinch) and to Hamburg in the 70's (Smiley) and Nova (Guardians of the Galaxy). Thank God for an active imagination.

How has my spending gone this week?
Like, really. I got a head start on Christmas gifts to make, so I had to buy the products I needed. It does mean that a good afternoon in the kitchen should see me clear of the small gifts for friends and family. I had a brainwave, and I will post about that sometime.
And I got a new Filofax. You know I like Filofax, don't you? I need to show you my new one, it is so cute. And totally suitable for this time of year.

What are my WIPs this week?
My Autumn ripple is actually all done except the border. Another two rows and it will be done. A decent sunny/light afternoon and I shall take the glamour shots and do the big reveal.
And I'm joining in with the CAL at Black Sheep Wools. You can read more about it here. I've ordered my wool pack, I went for the Stylecraft because I liked the colours better. I know I could make a blanket all my own, but I quite fancied the idea of joining in an online crochet party. I can get my pattern every week, do some new stitches and by November.... wallop! a new blanket.

Any Other Business?
Not yet. I'll be back with better next week. School has started and I'm settling in to my new role, teaching 6 of the best and brightest. Ish. Ok, so they're 6 of the children who really need one to one or small group support to get them to achieve. I'm hoping my Year 6's won't be intimidated by the Year 4 who can run rings around them mathematically and needs emotional rather than academic support. I feel like Hostess Barbie at the end of Toy Story 2 by 1.30. My face aches from smiling.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Meal Planning Monday; Back to School Blues and September's meals sorted

There are parts of the year that are fun, fun, fun, and parts that are both good and bad. I find September is balanced on a knife edge. I like the start of a new school year, the renewal of intentions, the creation of fresh new pages of plans and the planning for life ahead through to Christmas, but I also dread the start of new things; new classes, new people to relate to, new timetables and new pressures. Yes, I know, I'm classically conflicted. Very Dickensian; it's the best of times and the worst of times, the most exciting and the most nerve racking, the happiest and the saddest.
So last week I sat and planned my month worth of meals. I do a month at a time to save me sucking the end of my pencil more than once a month.

Here are the meals we will be eating this month Chez Nous. (I've included the days already gone by for archive reasons)

1;  Baked Aromatic Chicken
2; Lasagne and broccoli
3; Salmon with tomato pasta
4; Hotdogs and chips/ Peter to choose our meal
5; Meal at Ma's and Pa's
6; Bastichio (baked pasta) from Mum's Know Best p132
7; Meatballs and pasta
8; Chicken Bake
9; Great Sausage Casserole with mashed potato MKB
10; Minced Pie MKB
11; Frikadellen and chips/Paella
12; Maryland Chicken from Mum's Know Best p 206
13; Sausage Plait from Mum's Know Best p136
14; Noodle stir fry with bacon
15; Sausages and cheese pie MKB
16; Chicken and red pepper bake
17; Chilli con carne MKB p19
18; Home made pizza/Paella (again!)
19; Roast chicken with gnocchi roastinis
20; Roast beef MKB 150
21; Baked Ham, cabbage and mash MKB70
22; Pan Haggerty & bacon MKB98
23; Great sausage casserole with pasta MKB
24; Cottage pie with cheesy mash MKB127
25; Pie and chips/ Peter to choose
26; Yarndale!!!!
27; Probably fish and chips
28; Breakfast @ night
29; Mince and dumplings MKB
30; Fish pie

I'm using the Hairy Bikers' cook book ,Mums Know Best: The Hairy Bikers' Family Cookbook, as my inspiration. It's one of the most useful cookbooks for a family I have, because so many of the recipes have been given by actual families so you know they work. Next month, I'm not going to be able to plan from the book I'd like to because it doesn't come out until the 8th October. It's Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food to link with her new TV series. I've pre-ordered it from Amazon, so hopefully I'll get it as soon as possible. I will probably re-read some other Nigella classics before then.

And I'm trying to reclaim my inner baker. Sarah the Princess is the usual baker in the house, but I feel like I only get to do the donkey work of main meals while she makes the light and fluffy treats, so this month I am grabbing my apron and wooden spoon and staking my claim to be a proper Mum with proper baking going on!

Again inspired by The Hairy Bikers, I am planning to make
Lemon Drizzle Cake
Millionaire's Shortbread
Welsh Cakes, and
Treacle Tart.

I'll try to take pictures and post them.... if the products last long enough! And I won't be posting my meal plans again until the first Monday of October.....

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The Chase is back!!!

Series 9 of The Chase has started and I am really delighted to see it on, for reasons I cannot go into here.

But I'm gutted; there's a new chaser, called The Vixen. Her first show is tomorrow.

This woman has my dream job! Can I write and complain?