Sunday, 30 November 2014

Fancy Meal and The Reality

Thomas has been asking for ages if he can make a 'fancy meal' for us. When I've asked what he means by 'fancy' he's replied "you know like on the films when they have a banquet and the table is full of food. I want beef, turkey, lots of cakes on those high plates with big bunches of grapes. Oh and candles and those fancy pieces of paper at the side". I think he means serviettes. 

Over the past couple of weeks I've managed to lower his expectations and last night was "The Fancy Meal Night". 

Fancy meal - Line caught fish platter with a seafood dressing and artisan bread. Reality - prawns & salmon from the freezer, 1000 island dressing (homemade) and bread rolls with bits on from Lidl.

Setting the table
Thomas and Mark making their seafood dressing
 The fancy end product
Main course:
Fancy meal -  Hand carved crackling pork served on a platter. Reality - pork joint from Iceland put on a tin foiled covered tray which Mark cut at the table.
Fancy meal - A tower of chocolate sponge layered with cream and cherries and topped with chocolate shavings. Reality - Gateaux (£2 from Iceland if anybody is interested and it was massive). 
Cheese and crackers with grapes - I didn't bother to think of anything fancy for this. The reality was Thomas would probably be fed up of eating by this point and be back on the x-box. However, it was more refined than I'd imagined and the men decided to play chess. Thomas knows all the moves and is now beginning to think a step ahead.
The dress code was also fancy. I put on my sparkly top, Amy wore a dress and Mark and Thomas wore shirts and ties. There is a distinct lack of ties in the house. Thomas wore Mark's funeral tie and Mark wore Thomas' Christmas tie. It's covered with snowflakes and says HO HO HO.

Anyway, we had our fancy meal at Number 38 last night and it was lovely.


Friday, 28 November 2014

Poppy and Fillings

My poppy arrived last night, which I was really excited about as I'd received an e-mail a couple of weeks ago saying it would be delivered January/February.

Thankfully, mine has survived the journey and arrived intact. I feel sorry for those who have received broken poppies. If mine had been damaged the offer of a replacement just wouldn't have felt the same. I'd have wanted the actual one that was part of the display.

Anyway, I've posted a few pictures below.

 The box that it arrived in, with the certificate and a booklet about the charities that the money is being donated to.
 You have to assemble the poppy yourself. Not sure if you can see but the poppy has mud on it and the stem has rusted from being out in the weather. I think this makes it even more special than receiving a sparkling clean one.
 It's really hard to get a good shot of it made up.
 I just need to find something to display it in now

I had my two fillings done today. I've not had any dental work done for years and it's the injection part that I'm not keen on. Thankfully, it wasn't half as bad as I thought it would be, in fact after she'd administered the numbing cream I didn't really feel a thing.

The whole thing was supposed to take 20 minutes but actually took 35. This was because the cavity was deeper than she thought and much deeper than any she'd seen for a long time, according to her. In fact, mid-procedure there was a 3 way discussion between myself, the dentist and the dental nurse on whether to remove the tooth completely. I was all for it but they decided to fill it and see how it goes. 

I've been advised to take painkillers due to the fact that I had 4 hands in my mouth for so long pulling, tugging and pushing at me. Up to now I've not taken any as I'm still numb but I have the paracetamol on stand-by just in case.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Poorly Amy

Amy has been off school today with a streaming cold and temperature. She announced last night she felt ill and sure enough a full blown cold and temperature has materialised. She's spent most of the day dozing and cuddling up to Sparky and Wendy drinking tea, blowing her nose and sniffing vapour rub neat from the jar. She's wrapped herself in a big fluffy cardigan and quilt but is still cold. The proof that she is indeed ill is that she said to me 'Mum, I haven't brushed my hair today and you know what, I don't even care what I look like'. 
I went to Bury this morning and bought myself a self healing cutting mat from The Works. I have also ordered a ruler and a cutting tool that according to the rules of patchwork every self-respecting quilter must have. In the meantime, I will continue to improvise and use Thomas' school ruler and a pair of scissors.

I also bought these 2 gift sets. The TT racing one is for Mark's cousin who is a bike fanatic and has been to the TT races a fair few times and the explorer one is for Mark's Dad. 

Mum's Christmas present also arrived today. She quite often complains that she feels hemmed in and bored over winter. She enjoys gardening and pottering outside during the better weather but struggles to keep occupied when the nights draw in. So, I've bought her this cushion tapestry kit. She enjoys doing crafty things but is put off because she doesn't actually want the end product if that makes sense. However, I really like this, so I'm giving it to her for Christmas and I will tell her that when she's completed it she can give it back to me.

I can't believe the big day is only 4 weeks away. I've got most things but I'll have to get a wiggle on and get all those little bits and pieces sorted out over the next couple of weeks.


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Oodles of Poodle

Sparky had his fur cut today. He has a 6th sense about such things and whereas a call of walkies and a jangle of the lead usually has him jumping around like a lunatic, today he just hung his head low and slunk off into a corner. I literally had to drag him out of the house and push him into the car where he whined for the whole journey. 

Anyway here's his 'before shot'. He definitely has oodles of poodle in this photo don't you think?

And here's his 'after shot'. The remit is always the same, "short back and sides, no fluffy bits and definitely no pom poms (the only exception being his tail - after all every doggie should have a tail to be proud of), oh, and don't forget to muzzle him". Apparently, he has a nasty habit of whipping his head round and nipping fingers when his legs are being trimmed.
It should have cost me £37 and for this he gets a wash and shampoo, a cut and his nails clipped. Because I'm a VIP member (I think everybody is!), I get 25% off plus I had a 10% discount voucher which they also took. So, I only ended up paying £24.97.  

I will get the difference out of the bank and put it in my 'save the difference pot' which I started a couple of weeks ago. I've snaffled this piggy bank from Thomas who will probably snaffle it back again when when I'm not looking and it's full of money!


Monday, 24 November 2014

Seeing Stars

Yesterday I tried to make another star. Within 10 minutes I'd changed the task to simply sewing squares of material together. There was no way in between making breakfast, constantly letting the dogs in and out, peeling veg for the Sunday roast, ironing, applying cold sore cream to Thomas' lip every hour, having to go to Argos to buy a new quilt for Amy (thank you Wendy), etc etc that I'd have been able to concentrate on anything more technical. 

So in between all the daily goings on that come with a family at home on a Sunday, I sat and sewed 60 pieces of material together to make the blocks that I need.
Easy enough, so you would think. But not for me. With the constant interruptions I kept sewing the wrong pieces of material together and I forgot on more than one occasion to sew them pattern to pattern. 

In the end I had to 'draw a plan' so that I knew where I was up to and what I was supposed to be sewing.
But I persevered and I now have a pile of blocks that should make 11 more stars.

And here is star number 2. Achieved in a calm manner, with time to think it all through and with no interruptions. I have come to the conclusion that quilting is best done during the week when I am on my own. 
When there is time to sit quietly, enjoy the moment and have the added bonus of looking up to see these beautiful lilies that Mark bought for me. 


Saturday, 22 November 2014

First patchwork attempt

I have never tried patchwork before but having caught up with a few blogs, Tess at Driftwood you are my inspiration, I came over all inspired to give it a go.

Sewing has never been my forte, in fact I'm pretty bad at it, but Mum pointed me in the direction of Missouri Star Quilt Company tutorials and I decided this star wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility, although Mum had her doubts and said I should start with a basic block design.

Anyway, on Friday Mark took me to Hobbycraft where I picked up these charm packs. I bought 3 and there are 40 pieces in each, each one measuring 5x5 inches. I've no idea if that is a standard size and amount?
Back home and out came the sewing machine. 20 minutes later having followed the manual I had cotton on my spool and the machine was threaded.

I then spent another 20 minutes faffing around trying to get the tension and stitch size sorted out. If I'd not bought the charm packs and just cut up an old shirt instead I'd have given up at this point, but the thought of wasted money spurred me on.  And I'm so glad it did.
Because after a full day of sewing, cutting, re-threading the machine and ironing...... 
.....I have produced this. My first every piece of patchwork.
I am ridiculously proud of myself. It's not perfect by any means but for a first attempt I think it's pretty darn good. 
I'm not sure if I will continue with my single quilt ambition though! It would take approximately 28 stars to create one, so I might just make another 3 and settle for a nice lap quilt. But who knows? As Mark says one a week would take 6 months. In days gone by it wasn't unheard of for people to spend years on a quilt. 

And to all you quilters who create such wonderful pieces, I take my hat off to you. It's not as easy as it looks this 'sewing a few pieces of material together', but it's certainly very self-satisfying. 


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Cakes and Teeth

It seems to have been all cakes and baking here at Number 38 lately.

Thomas' birthday kicked it off. I bought a £4 basic iced cake from Tesco then ordered this Minecraft cake topper for £2.50. 
 The following day we made Christmas Cake which Mum always comes down to do with us. Amy and Thomas made the cake under 
Mum's supervision. She can be slightly OCD about certain things so my job was to keep Mum sane and remind her it was all good fun even though there was flour and sugar all over the table and we had to fish the shell out of the cracked eggs. I'm not sure why she comes to be honest. It looks as though she's going through hell when she's here. But it wouldn't be the same withoug her!

 I choose a Mary Berry recipe and 4.5 hours later this was the end result. Not sure if it feels a bit dry but.....
 We have 6 weeks to, in Thomas' words 'stab and inject' alcohol into it. 
 Meanwhile, Amy made these chocolate and banana swirls in food tech this week. I wouldn't have minded trying one but the rule of the house is anything made at school doesn't get eaten. Now who's being OCD I hear you say. But after Amy's description of how it takes ages to find any properly cleaned utensils I feel justified in feeding the bin rather than us.

 She did however, rustle some cakes up at home and we had no problem eating these.
 We are busy filling a shoe box at the moment that Thomas brought home from school. They cost £1 each (the money goes towards postage costs) and you can put bits and pieces in which then get sent to children abroad. Ours will be for a boy aged 8/9. 
 We have become addicted to UNO.  Thomas got the cards for his birthday and we've played every night. We've progressed from happily slapping any card we can down to tactical playing and it has become quite competitive. We love it.
 Remember Thomas' camping trip? Here he is with his rucksack on. Can you see the frying pan Matthew tied to the bottom. The picture is a bit blurred due to the fact that it was so heavy Thomas couldn't stand still and kept staggering around. Thankfully he only had to carry it to the boot of the car.
I went to the dentist yesterday. I've not had anything done for years so was really shocked to learn I've got to have 2 fillings. Apparently from the x-rays taken I've got two small holes underneath two already filled teeth. Of course they are not on the same side, that would be too easy, so I will have to have injections on both sides of my mouth.  I'm really not looking forward to it and I'm half toying with the idea of cancelling as I'm not in any pain. Plus it's going to cost me an eye watering £200 to have them done!Talk about adding insult to injury.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Catch Up

It's ages since I've posted on here. There's no particular reason for the absence, although my laptop has given up the ghost and it just seemed easier not to blog than faff around with batteries etc. Plus the break has felt a little bit like being on school holiday and not having to do homework! 

So, what's been happening? Well, the camping trip went well, apart from the fact that Mark forgot his sleeping bag and spent the night shivering under a thin quilt that was only thrown in the car at the last minute 'just in case'. Thomas had a whale of a time and built his fire and managed to catch a fish.

Mark's mum is still not home. As time goes on she seems more settled where she is but is on a slow decline. There are questions as to whether carers could actually look after her properly if she did come home, so lots to think about for Mark and his Dad. 

Mark's Dad has yet another chest infection and is beginning to look 'old'. Having said that both him and Joan are made of stern stuff and will probably outlive us and the cockroaches.

We have been to Harry Potter studios in Watford which is fantastic and I highly recommend a visit, we passed on Halloween this year as neither Amy or Thomas seemed interested, did Bonfire Night which was brilliant as we upgraded our firework choice and there were plenty of big bangs, celebrated Thomas' birthday yesterday (9 years old) and Mum is coming down this afternoon for our annual Christmas cake making session.

So, all is well. We are plodding on with daily life and I feel ready to start over with my on-line diary.

Hope you have all been well. xx