Sunday, 4 December 2016

December - Week 1

We went into Manchester this week, Mark to do something with watches, me to pick up my picture from the gallery. While he was doing his thing I had a walk around the Christmas Markets. There's a lot of food, a lot of drink and a lot of over-priced bits and bobs. I did toy with the idea of buying one of these but decided not to.
Instead I bought macarons and pecans. 
This is the picture I bought. 'Midnight Caller'. Art is very personal thing isn't it. I was reading an article the other day about what some people consider definite no-no's in their house and for one person it was pictures. We have 14 which I expect to the person doing the interview would be considered naff and the equivalent of Hilda Ogden's 'muriel' and 3 flying ducks. But I likes what I likes and I liked this. 
Mark and Amy went to London on Tuesday and I don't mind admitting I wanted to go with them. Never mind, I dutifully smiled and waved them off like a good wife and mother does although I didn't think it was necessary for them to text me to say they were having tea and cake in Fortnums and then later on burgers in Byron's. Talk about rubbing salt into the wound. Amy bought my Christmas present while she was there. She's brilliant at keeping secrets and there's no way she'll spill the beans about what it is, so I shall have to wait patiently until Christmas Day to find out. 
Mark was under instructions not to bring me anything back this time, but he did buy me a 'Lidl' something when we went shopping this week. These truffles are delicious and I would 100% recommend you pop a box in your trolley if you find yourself in the store. 
The weather has been freezing this week with lots of frosty starts to the mornings. I made the effort to rake up the last of the leaves and apart from emptying a couple of pots the garden has been put to bed until spring. 
It's been the sort of weather that has made me want to take long soaks in the bath then snuggle down in front of the tele in my fluffy socks and dressing gown drinking hot chocolate and eating homemade cake, so I have done :) Nothing fancy looking about this lemon drizzle but it tastes delicious. 
On 1st December Advent Calendars were opened, the Advent candle was lit and the Christmas mugs bought in the January sales were dug out from the back of the cupboard.
And this little chap arrived at our house. As there are no longer any believers at Number 38 this 'Elf on the Shelf' won't be reporting back any misdemeanours to FC. I find the idea of him watching children and snitching on them a bit spooky actually, but if it works for parents then who am I to judge. He'll be getting up to mischief every day but apart from buying him I admit I will be putting no effort into this at all and have shamelessly copied some superb ideas of the 'net. 
Amy and Thomas have named him Christopher and from their reactions to what he gets up to you're obviously never too old for an Elf to come and stay. So far he's made a mess in my kitchen making snow angels in the flour.
'Personally' decorated some cookies
And set up a zip wire in the lounge in a bid to steal chocolate from the advent calendars, which he didn't succeed in doing....this time.
However, he's obviously a determined Elf because we woke up this morning to find he'd eaten Day 19 of Amy and Thomas' calendars. The other toys in the house are obviously not used to this kind of naughty behaviour and decided to take matters into their own hands. I'm not totally convinced he's learnt his lesson.
Thomas' school is taking part in the Key 103 toy collection this year so I bought this for him to take in. When I was in St Anne's a store was collecting toys for Rock FM so I popped a couple in their box as well. Next week I'll be making our annual donation to The Salvation Army and putting together some things for the food bank. 
I'm going to try some crochet on a quilt in the New Year and thought I'd have a go at The Hungry Caterpillar. The circles took no time at all to hook up and even though I'm not doing any sewing until after Christmas I might cut some material this week. 
Thank you to everybody who commented on the circle problem I was having with the dresden. I'm never going to be able to sew it on the machine so will hand sew it on as suggested. I also found a really good tip for making a circle. All you do is cut a template, a piece of material slightly bigger, pop it into a piece of tinfoil, fold the foil in to make a circle and then iron both sides and hey presto you have a nice circle with a hem. 
Amy went on the hunt for a job this week and struck lucky - ish. She was offered weekend work in a bagel cafe until they realised she's only 16. Apparently she's not allowed to work there until she's 18 because it involves using sharp knives and hot equipment such as coffee makers and ovens. Give me strength. We're raising a generation of namby pamby kids as it is but when they're not allowed to cut bread or boil a kettle until they're 18 I do wonder what world I'm living in.

And look who's come to stay. Dropped off at 10am this morning she's with us until 4pm tomorrow afternoon. Sophie has gone Christmas shopping to Chester with her Mum and they're staying overnight. Matthew took his lads out last night for their Christmas do so is probably still suffering from the effects of that. My sister says I'm too soft. If her grandchildren sleep over she has them from 6pm and returns them by 10am the following morning, although she does have 3 at once. Maybe she's right. I love having Sienna but her 'sleepovers' are certainly marathons :)
Sophie's Mum brought us this so I'll be trying a tipple later on. 
We're off out with Sienna now for some fresh air and then to see the Christmas twinkles at Housing Units, so I'll say goodbye for now and see you all next weekend. 


Sunday, 27 November 2016

November - Week 4

At the risk of becoming repetitive there has been more quilting going on here this week along with some hand sewing. A little girl...
... and a teddy bear.
Both ended up 'in bed' on this quilt top. I came across the design on the 'net and thought it was too adorable not to have a go at making. The quilt itself was easy to do, the girl and teddy took me out of my comfort zone, but I think they turned out OK.
I also have another quilting skill under my belt - a dresden. This is one of those designs that looks really effective without being too hard to do. I'm having a problem finishing it off though. I need a circle for the centre and after several attempts I'm not sure I can pull it off, so if any experienced quilters have an easy way of doing one please let me know. I was going to iron it before I took a photo but Sienna woke up so I didn't have time.
There was just one session of physio this week. Thomas spent a full hour in the gym and took a special liking to the rowing machine. It doesn't actually do anything for his leg but he wanted a go and the physiotherapist is very obliging.
Sienna stayed with us Thursday evening. Sophie had a training day at work and even though she's on maternity leave she wanted to take part. I think the pull was adult conversation and drinks with colleagues at the end of the day. We've also been booked in to babysit New Year's Eve which is fine by us as we don't go out. Here she is in her chair helping me to peel carrots. She loves being high up so she can see what's going on. 
I've done a little bit of baking this week. A simple Victoria sandwich always goes down a treat. 
As does a chocolate cake. I only make half cakes these days as one slice each seems to be enough for us. It's just a 4oz mixture baked in one tin and cut in half. 
And this is one of those 'simple' meals we have at Number 38 where everybody has a variation on it. Good old sausage and mash. Mark has to have onions. Amy doesn't like them. I don't eat sausages so it's soup for me. And Thomas, as everybody knows, loves sausages but only with chips or waffles. Why keep things simple when they can be complicated!
I'd run out of reading material so picked up a couple of books in Bury. The Jenny Colgan one is the third in a series and is a really easy, loose ends tied up neatly, feel good read. 
And this is for Thomas for Christmas. He loves facts and figures and it's full of interesting snippets about animals and why they do the things they do. 
Mark and Amy are off to London on Tuesday. She's wanted to go with him for ages but the days have never been right for her. This time it's fallen in her favour. 
There was a Year 6 SATS meeting at school this week. They do really with their results and are obviously keen to keep this up because all Year 6 pupils were sent home with these revision books on Friday. Personally I think too much emphasis is put on primary school exams but Thomas seems to be taking it all in his stride. In fairness to the school the Year 6 teachers and the Headteacher put in a lot of effort in their own time and as from next week will be holding classes before and after school for anybody who wants to attend for that extra boost. 
Mum came round yesterday for our annual Christmas Cake making event. I've been using a Mary Berry recipe for a few years now and it's lovely, especially when it's had a good dose of whiskey added to it. 
I love this tradition even though it can get a bit messy. We'd only been at the table 5 minutes and there was flour and mixed spices all over the place.
The grand finale is when everybody stirs in their portion of fruit and makes a wish. As soon as that's done Amy and Thomas wander off leaving me and Mum to tidy up.
Something happened on Thursday that made me a bit goosebumpy regarding Amy. A student at her college stabbed two other students in the chest and back in an argument about a girl! For the safety of all the students college went into lockdown and when they were finally allowed home they were told not to return until Monday. In a way I'm relieved it was an argument rather than somebody just going on a rampage. When Amy rang she was on her way home so it was all over and done with, otherwsie I'd have been sat here panicking about what was actually happening. 

Anyway, moving on to something a little more light-hearted. Next time I blog it will be 3rd December! We usually put our tree up next weekend but I think I'm going to hold out for another week this year. 

I'm also psyching myself up to do a daily 12 Days of Christmas blog but my 12 Days will start on 14th and finish on 25th. I like to look back and see what we got up to in the run up to the big event so a bit of daily blogging will take place this month.

And that's it for this week. Thank you for dropping by, I love having visitors and I shall see you all in December. 


Sunday, 20 November 2016

November - Week 3

It was an early start at Number 38 on Monday and Thursday as Thomas had to be in the gym for 8.30am which meant we were up a lot earlier than usual. He was certainly put through his paces and had a good session on the walking machine, the treadmill and a mini trampoline. Have to admit my heart was in my mouth when that was brought out. Thomas does not have a good relationship with trampolines.
Think this was his favourite piece of equipment though.
Back home he ate his breakfast, changed into his uniform and I dropped him off at school.  Then it was home again to start my cleaning rota. Amy doesn't go into college until lunchtime so she's started to help me which is a big bonus timewise.

I wasn't expecting the material I'd ordered for the quilt until later in the week so was really happy when it arrived in the post Monday lunchtime.
I spent some time in the afternoon and evening cutting 72 half hexagons and sewing them to black strips.
I expected to be working on this for at least a couple of weeks but it's amazing how simple it is to do and how quickly it comes together and by Wednesday it was pretty much finished. On the MSQC tutorial a solid colour border was added so I just need to decide on a colour and it's done. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of making this quilt and can't quite believe I've actually done it.
This week I finally managed a trip to The Range. They have lots of lovely things on display but there was nothing I really needed. I'd gone specifically to see if I could find a tablecloth and napkins and although I didn't have any luck I did buy this table runner for £1.99 which I'll cut and make into 4 napkins.
I also picked up this cute little reindeer for Amy's tree decoration - an annual tradition that's been going since her first Christmas. 
We've had another clear out, this time it was some of Mark's things. His photography hobby has been taken over by boating, so rather than let the equipment gather dust any longer, he's selling it. No doubt he'll fill the space created with something else. 
I'm also trying to keep on top of my money. I start off with good intentions every month but lose my way pretty quickly so I'm making an extra effort this time and so far I seem to be doing OK. The Tesco voucher was a nice surprise. We only buy petrol and a few top up bits every now and then but I think a few points have come from things we've needed for the van.
Number 10, our regular haunt for coffee when we're in Bury. 
      Image result for number 10 coffee shop bury
There was plenty of material left over to make another quilt or two so I've started another one. Considering I'm supposed to have put the crochet and sewing away until after Christmas there's a surprising amount of it going on!
The weather has been wet, windy and cold this week and we even woke up to a smattering of snow Friday morning. Typically on the coldest day of the year Thomas was wearing PJ's to school for Children in Need. Life would be so much easier in the mornings if PJ's were the norm. No buttons, no ties and no zips to faff around with. 
This weekend we've been away in the van. Mark set it all up on Thursday so we were able to pick Thomas up from school Friday and set off straight away. It was a bit nippy when we arrived but within an hour we were sat down and tucking into homemade pasties.
We went to another site this time, still over on the Fylde coast but at the windmill end. 
The weather was cold but mostly dry and we ventured out Saturday for a walk. We wanted to go on the pier but they'd cordoned it off because it was slippy so we got no further than the cafe where it was hot drinks for me and Mark and a gingerbread man for Thomas. 
No matter how cold it was, Thomas still preferred to go without a coat even though he had it with him. 
I also managed a bit of shopping without the boys and chose Amy a couple of bath bombs for Christmas. 
It might have been cold outside but we were toasty warm in the van and I spent a lovely Saturday afternoon adding to the crochet squares for the blanket. 
Back home and reality sets in pretty quickly with bedding to be washed, ironing to be done and packed lunches to make. But I'm not complaining. Those couple of days we manage to get away can set me up for weeks so it's all good. 

Hope you've all had a good week and are staying warm. 

Thanks for dropping by, it's always lovely to hear from you.