Sunday, 24 August 2014

Sunday happies

Some shadows I noticed at work one day.

The days and weeks just seem to slip by. We’ve been in a haze of illness (short lived but nasty and the horrible wondering of who might succumb next...) (the ABO), leaving nursery excitement (BigR), learning to jump and fearlessly bump downstairs (no stair gate can hold her back) (LittleR) and coping with all of these things (me). Here are (some of the things) that are my happies since the last time I posted. Joining in with Gillian.

:: Learning to crochet.
I had a fab day with my friend on the ‘learn to crochet’ workshop. Not only did we put the world to rights and have a very tasty lunch (even with many gluten free options for my friend) I even learnt a new skill.’s a bit ‘loose’ and ‘rustic’ but coming along. Hopefully I’ll get the hang of tension!!!
I‘m a loooooooooong way off the skill level of many fellow bloggers, but you never know one day I might improve enough to be half as good as them. Practice makes perfect. If I’m able to find the time to practice. It’s a priority for me to make time to do this.

:: Actually making a quiche. I followed this recipe from Sue at the Quince Tree’s blog. I even made the pastry. It was quite simple (in the end) and very delicious. I’ll certainly be doing that again. I’ve been trying to cook a bit more so we have some freezer options. The other weekend I made a shepherd’s pie and put two in the freezer as homemade ready meals. Next up some dinners for the girls.

:: Seeing this bee (can you spot him? or her? I know nothing of bees. Do female bees get to leave the hive?) on some very random planting outside Tesco near the A&E dept of the Leeds General Infirmary. He looked very happy. I’ve seen a lot more bees this year.

:: Spending my birthday money on some books. I had a gift voucher from some review work I did ages ago too. I’m loving the Smitten many delicious things to make.

::Attempting some (more) inspiration for Autumn cooking. I’m hoping the couple of hours (don’t get me started on all my leave disappearing for the 2 weeks of 2 hour days BigR has starting school!!) I have when BigR is (briefly) at school and LittleR naps (hahahahahaha) I can get some tasty things going on. Nigel Slater is my go to for this kind of cooking and Hugh’s everyday veg is a great book.

:: Planning for a 5th birthday’s Elsa-tastic.

:: Remembering that even after the most trying day (Is it only my child that moans and whines? Why do I let it get to me?) there is always gin.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


Well here I am finally getting around to answering Leanne's Leibster questions

Random things
  1. I used to be the music editor of the university newspaper. This meant I got free CDs and gig tickets and to hang out with “the stars” on the pretense of interviewing them. Weirdest – Courtney Love. Nicest – Pulp or the Wannadies (remember them?). Most delicious – Blur (bizarrely). Yes it was of an era really wasn’t it.
  2. My grandma used to make us sit down on three different seats if we had to go back in the house when we’d forgotten something.
  3. When my brother was born I asked if he could go back and be swapped for a girl.
  4. As a child I had very short hair. My Mum’s hair is very curly and she said she had no idea how to ‘do’ hair so kept it short. I was only mistaken for a boy once.
  5. I love Brussel sprouts. Yum. A whole cabbage you can eat in one go!
  6. My hair is the longest it has ever been right now.
  7. I don’t like raisins, sultanas or currants at all but I love grapes.
  8. I don’t really like Indian food. Although I love all the spices individually.
  9. All the surgery I’ve ever had has been on my mouth or my teeth.
  10. My feet used to be a 7½ but now they’re a 6. How did that happen? Did shoes suddenly get bigger?
  11. One of my favourite games as a child was playing libraries.

Questions asked...
Which activities can make you lose track of time?
It takes a lot to distract me from my tummy which is very good at telling me the time. A really good book. And since having children, sleeping.

Who is the funniest person you know?
My friend L is the funniest person I know. Her tales of her office and turn of phrase are legendary. She really can spin a hilarious yarn.

What small act of kindness were you shown that you will never forget?
I’ve been very lucky that people have been kind to me a lot. Most recently I was working on a paper and a work colleague brought me a HUGE coffee back from town after her meeting. It was most appreciated.

What can you do today that couldn't do last year?
Crochet!! If you can call my meagre efforts that. But last year I didn’t have a single clue. Even with the power of books and the internet. Now I have loops in yarn and everything!

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
Ooh this is a difficult one. It took me a while to think about this. The one I keep coming back to is Laura Ingalls Wilder. Although she’s a real person I’m talking about the fictionalised version she wrote about in her books. Little House on the Prairie Laura as I like to call her. If you’d asked me 15 years ago I may have said Kay Scarpetta (I loved those books – why oh why did it all go so wrong?). 28 years ago the twins from Sweet Valley High (it’s fine to go ahead and judge me!!). As a child I loved Milly Molly Mandy. I bought a collection of those stories for BigR and she loves me to read them to her almost as much I love reading them!

Name three things that have made you smile this week.
My daughters.
Steve Coogan.
Attempting my first granny square.

What is your favourite sound?
I could say my children laughing (very good – before it descends into screaming over one thing or another) or silence (also very good after a shouty day) or birdsong but I really love music.

If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be and why?
I don’t know if I really want to be anyone else. I quite like being me. Is that a bit of a cop out? If I could swap places with someone it would be Beyonce to see what really happened in that lift (and how much coiffing that hair takes!) or Nigel Slater to see what’s really in his fridge.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A marine biologist. Not one who was interested in dolphins, whales or other marine mammals. Oh no I couldn’t run with the crowd me, I quite fancied working on crustaceans…I thought it was niche enough to get a job. I was wrong. There are few jobs in marine biology even if you don’t want one of the 'obvious' jobs. After my A-levels I changed my focus and ended up in biomedical science and now education research.

What do you see when you close your eyes?
As my Dad would say the inside of my eyelids. Yes what a comedian. I see Colours. I love it when you close your eyes to the sun on a really bright day.

Who was your favourite band or singer when you were sixteen?
The Smiths. I loved The Smiths. I still love The Smiths. Although I enjoy Morrissey’s post Smiths music it was always, always Johnny Marr for me. Those guitar riffs. My parents recently found my Johnny Marr t-shirt in their loft so it now resides safely Mum washed and folded in my wardrobe.

The questions I'm asking...
What is your favourite thing to do on a rainy day?
Skirts or jeans?
Best advice someone has ever given you?
Where would you most like to go in the world?
What super-power would you most like to have and why?
What are you reading at the moment?
What's your favourite place in the world?
What's your pet grammar peeve?
What's your favourite recipe?
What was the last new thing you learnt?
If you were an animal, what would you be?

I'm properly copping out here with nominating...feel free to join in if it takes your fancy!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Catching up - a list

Although it’s only early August there’s been more than a sniff of, dare I say it, Autumn in the air. I love this time of year. It always makes me want to start new things and get more creative. It’s also the ideal opportunity for a good list. I do love a good list (or even a bad list). Sarah wrote eloquently about her use of lists to help her manage things and here of her list of Autumn Loves.

Some time ago I wrote a list of things I would do creatively…
Shall we see how I’ve been progressing?
There’s been some flexibility in the list. I have actually completed some things, completely forgotten about others and added in some new ones.

The things I’ve completed….
:: I did embroider (and frame, twice after a small accident! Maybe I should rename myself Little Miss Whoops?) a panel of 3 owls for LittleRs room. They complement the Matryoshka dolls I did for BigR. Every time I change her nappy she shouts “owls”. It’s very satisfying.

:: I went on a Betty’s cookery course. I did this in November and loved it once again. I’ve made the recipes from that day a few times again since. We particularly enjoy the lamb meatballs and the sausage cassoulet. I’ve actually got another voucher (more birthday delights) to use so am busily looking at the website to see what I fancy doing!

:: Plan the 2014 garden. Well I planted some spring bulbs and even did some seeds. I’ve still got some bedding plants that could do with going in…rather than being left in pots but they’ve not magicked themselves out of said pots yet. The garden is a work in progress as some of our trellis fell down in high winds some months ago. It was used as a separator to divide areas in the garden. We quite like the way it’s opened up the garden but it means that some of the plants need better support in their bed. I bought a couple of stepping stones so the girls don’t trample on the flowers (too much) and the ABO dug them in the other day. So I’ll say I’ve done this but it’ll be on the list for next year too…

:: This wasn’t on the original list but added to it after a trip to the knitting and stitching show in November. I knitted and completed the dog of doom…actually, on reflection, it wasn’t that bad but next time I’ll sew it up as I go to give me encouragement. Little R actually loves it so even though it’s not perfect (I ‘forgot’ to add the tail. It was a bit stubby and short and once stuffed looked a bit rude) it was a job well done. Big R was going to get a similar dog but changed her mind for a ballet cardigan which my friend, S, knitted up for me so she might actually get to wear it before it was too small!!

In progress
:: BigRs applique blanket. I have all the necessary materials including the elusive (in Leeds anyway) bondaweb and a very inexpensive fleece blanket from Ikea in purple (the current colour of choice, unless it suddenly becomes blue to go with the Elsa from Frozen adoration). Now I just need a clear evening and some good TV for the hand sewing!

:: Take BigR to paint pottery. Well we did this on our holidays and we’ll being doing it again (at a local pottery studio that’s opened) at the start of September when BigR has her first birthday party (for those other than family!). I’m a little nervous actually as I’m hoping the invitees will come! BigR is taking it in her stride!

Still to start
:: Embroidered tea towels – once again I have the tea towels and the thread so it’s a case of some inspiration for designs and some motivation to make a start. Sometimes with projects they just need to be considered for a little bit before starting…

:: Photobooks – the photos are there but there’s been no start to these yet. Maybe we’ll do it in time for Christmas presents for Grandparents?

:: Knitting the tea cosy kit S gave to me…this hasn’t even come out of the packet yet…oops…

Added to the list
:: Socks. I learnt to knit in the round earlier this year. Then promptly forgot how to join the circle. Then practiced and remembered. Thanks to YouTube. I’ve taken Christina’s most simple pattern and will be attempting this very soon.

:: Embroidery nameplates for the girls’ bedroom doors. We thought it might be nice for the girls to have their names on their doors. I can’t find any ones I think suit both girls well and aren’t ridiculously expensive anywhere so I’m going for the DIY option. I’m trying to decide on fonts but might just go with my handwriting and some decoration pertinent to them.

:: Skirts for both of the girls. I’ve seen this pattern via Jennifer’s blog. I’ve got new bobbins for my machine. I’ve new needles for my machine. I’ve material, cotton and elastic. I’ve even measured the girls for sizing. Now all I need is to stop procrastinating. Maybe a job for when the ABO is on the late shift.

:: Knitting the hat S bought for me for Christmas! It’s lovely blue and green Aran wool. It’s a very simple pattern and should be fairly quick to do once I get started!! I might even get it finished in time to wear his winter. Maybe I've spoken too soon?

:: Learning to crochet. This was a birthday present. I’d hinted that I’d like to learn but wasn’t sure if I’d be lucky enough to get this as a present or if the day would be free. Anyway my friend S and I are off to learn how to at Baa Ram Ewe at the weekend. I’m excited to learn (another) new skill (I hope I can do it!!) and have a day out with my lovely friend. Then I’ll just have to keep the yarn buying in check and find some time to practice!

Sooooo…plenty to keep me busy there! Wonder if I’ll have anything finished anytime soon? Of course I’m going to have so much extra time when BigR starts school and LittleR naps eh? I know it will be at this point that LittleR decides to stop napping!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The year in books - August

I always knew July would be a difficult reading month. Especially if it was sunny (which it was in these parts). Please, let me get the excuses in first. The ABO and I both have birthdays in July and our anniversary so evenings spent reading might be spent making cakes or wrapping presents or, gasp, going out!!

In July I read most of ‘The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared’ (I cheated and finished it just into August). I really enjoyed the ride this book provided. It was utterly unbelievable and completely ridiculous but all the better for it. I wondered if one man could meet so many characters through history on his journey back to Sweden!  As a translated novel it stands the translation very well and the humour definitely travels.

For August I’ve chosen an Elizabeth Jane Howard novel. I read ‘Odd Girl Out’ a couple of years ago and loved it so after seeing some readers here choosing her novels I thought I’d dig out ‘The Light Years’. If I get through that I’ll return back to a thriller and read the latest Simon Kernick.

Joining in with Laura.

(once again the picture has nothing to do with the post...I love stained glass. Please excuse the building work outside!!!)