Thursday, 26 February 2015

Prepared

I'm quite often caught out with eggs at Easter. By the time I go to buy some, usually the week before, there aren't many left to choose from. Which is why this year I'm prepared and posting pictures of Easter eggs 5 weeks before the event. I only buy for Amy and Thomas and my nephew and niece who live near us. The two smile ones are for the boys and the butterfly ones are for the girls.
 I used up the last of my material yesterday but have managed to find another 5 pillowcases in the YMCA charity shop. I definitely struck lucky as I've been keeping my eyes open for a couple of weeks now and there's been nothing suitable in any of the shops.

These are some of the dresses I'll be posting tomorrow along with 3 bigger ones that I've made for the 13/14 year olds.

It was prescription day today so this little lot should keep my ticker ticking over nicely for the next 28 days. I really need to make an appointment to have my bloods done. I hate it, but it's a necessary evil.

Mark has a new watch and the strap needed adjusting which meant cutting it. He's done it before but after taking this picture I had to look away. This was definitely a case of measure twice and cut once if no expensive mistakes were to be made. 

And as usual we had our Thursday 'night out in' at Mums. Mark goes armed with a bottle of wine and I get to be the keeper of the car keys. 

xxx


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Whitley Bay

I've finally booked our third night away at Easter. We've decided to visit Whitley Bay. We've struggled a bit with this third stopover. There have been places that we'd like to visit but nowhere suitable to stay and vice versa, places to stay but nothing we've really wanted to do in the area.

There are a lot of boutique hotels out there that would suit me and Mark perfectly, but quite a lot have 'rules' of no children or no children in their own rooms, which I think is a nice way of saying 'no children'. I don't mind doubling up with the kids at Premier Inn rates but there's no way I'm paying for 2 boutique rooms that would see me and Amy in one bedroom and Mark and Thomas in the other.

Anyway, Whitley Bay it is. The main reason being we want to visit St Mary's Lighthouse which you can walk to via the causeway. This break is turning out to be very water orientated. If you feel up to it you can walk the 137 steps to the top or if not stay at the bottom and have a look around the visitor centre and a coffee in the cafe.  I'm not sure if I'll go up, more a fear of heights than the steps, but just in case I'm putting myself in training and my yardstick will be walking up the stairs 11 times non-stop.











Apparently, it's also a great place to see the Northern Lights although we'd have to be extremely lucky to catch them on the one night of the year we happen to be visiting, but you never know. 

I'm not sure what to expect from Whitley to be honest. I've read very mixed reviews but to be honest we don't have any major expectations. As a family we can be quite easily pleased and a bit of sea, sand, a stroll along the prom and fish and chips is just what we fancy on the last day.  I'm sure Whitley won't disappoint.

xxx

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Kennels, Vets and Money

The kennels got back to me yesterday and they do have room for Wendy and Sparky. They will stay for 3 nights in April which will cost £90. They will both need a vaccination for kennel cough which will cost £21 each and Sparky needs his jabs which will cost £61. Total cost £193. Yikes! They'll have to go again in May as well for 4 nights so that'll be another £120. We've never had to pay before, Tom and Joan or Matthew have had them, but from now on we'll have to factor the cost into our trips away.

Anyway, there's no time like the present so Sparky was booked in for his jabs this afternoon. He goes for his next lot in 2 weeks. While there I also bought some flea drops and worming tablets. That was another £20 gone. 

On the way home I bought some chicken for a curry and Amy asked for a Twirl chocolate bar. I only buy chocolate from the £1 shop - usually 3 bars of dairy milk or 5 fudge. One Twirl cost me 63p! I'm so out of touch with some things.

Then I put my cashpoint card in the machine at Tesco and it swallowed it. Somebody was looking down on me though because a Tesco employee immediately appeared out of the security door next to it and asked me if I'd just put a card in. After confirming my name he very kindly handed it back to me. 

Which is just as well as it still has a lot more work to do over the next few days. 

xxx

Monday, 23 February 2015

Back in our routine

Amy and Thomas went back to school today. This time last year we'd been to London to see The Lion King. A year on and neither seemed keen to go anywhere, each preferring their home comforts and for Amy days out with friends, so we stayed put. It's only 5 weeks and 4 days before they break up again for Easter and that will fly by.

There's been a lot of housework done today, but I've found some time to make bias binding straps - 6 in total. It's time consuming but easy enough to do and doesn't cost anything as I just use strips of dress material.  
The house feels ready for another mini de-clutter so this week I'll be sorting through books, toys, clothes etc and taking them round to the local charity shop. This is my first attempt. Thinning the books on my bedside cabinet. My favourite was When in Rome. It was fiction but the story was interwoven with facts about Mario Lanza which I found really interesting.

I also popped out to Asda to buy Thomas some new PJ's but they didn't have any. While I was there I picked up a fitted sheet and this box to keep my scraps of material in. I only noticed the corner was damaged when I was taking a photo but I won't be taking it back. It would cost more in petrol and time than what I paid for it.
I have a 'need to buy' list and a 'need to do' list on the go. The main thing is to find kennels for the dogs. Matthew was going to have them but he's got a new job which means he's can't help out. I've been recommended one by my sister-in-laws friend which looks good and I've e-mailed them to see if the dates we need are available, so I'm just waiting to hear. I'm not that keen on them going in but there's not much I can do about it and at least they have each other so hopefully won't fret too much.

xxx

Friday, 20 February 2015

Cutting...

... Hair... Thomas has had his half term hair cut. He's growing up now and he was very specific as to how he wanted it to look. It's much easier going to the barbers these days. He used to be frightened of the clippers and would only let the barber use scissors, but thankfully he's got over that so as long as there isn't a queue we're pretty much in and out. He still doesn't like the hair gel bit though but it's obviously the barbers piece de resistance as everybody, from young to old gets a dollop on their head and a bit of styling. So Thomas suffers in silence but its straight in the bath to wash it off as soon as we get in.
... Dresses... I've cut 3 dresses out ready for sewing next week. If it's a pillowcase I don't mind doing this as I've really only got to cut out the armholes. But if it's material I find it a bit of a drag. I'm more of a chopper than a cutter which means I have to spend a lot of time straightening edges up. I'm working on my neatness though. They don't take long to sew from this point so I'm hoping to get them done and parcelled up to send by next Friday.
... Melon ... Cut into tiny pieces because me and Amy love it but can't stand juice running down our chins. Two bites or one big chomp and these are gone. No mess melon pieces - perfect.

... It Fine ... The day has been one of appointments, drop offs, pick ups, shopping, Doctors etc. etc. Trying to co-ordinate everybody and everything has meant there's been a lot of clock watching today. 

It's over now though - time to put our feet up. 

xxx













Thursday, 19 February 2015

Half Term Lessons

Amy was in school this morning for a 3 hour science lesson. The first half was biology and the second half physics. She wasn't very happy but as she said at least it wasn't on her birthday and she didn't have to wear uniform. It must be quite common these days because my nephew has also been in his school this week.

This meant that with no in-house babysitter we had to peel Thomas out of his PJ's so that he could come shopping with us, which is such a novelty for him he actually enjoyed it. Lidl purchase of the day was this. I threw the label away before I could check it so I've no idea what it's called but after a quick google I think it might be a succulent called Haworthia. 
I spent half an hour making these cone dresses this afternoon. Imagine arms and a head, (both turning out to be much more fiddly than I thought, but I think I'm getting there), and do you see the possibility of a peg doll?
I've also bought these buttons and might have a go at making some sort of bracelet. 
We're off to Mum's in half an hour and then it'll be PJ's on and an episode of mine and Mark's guilty pleasure - Sons of Anarchy. The only problem with the programme is that the characters are loveble rogues and I get quite attached to them, but they have a habit of dying off fairly regularly and in pretty gruesome circumstances. I really like the storyline but there are times when I'm sat with my hands over my eyes until certain scenes are over.

I've never been good with blood whether it be the real thing or fake much to Mark's amusement.

xxx

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Today has been all about.....

..... opening presents
..... lighting candles
..... cutting cake
..... eating cake
..... visits from Grandparents, cousins and big brother with little brother making us laugh as usual.
..... cards, money and gift vouchers

Happy 15th Birthday Amy 

xxx

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Growing Up

I was up early this morning and by 9am Amy's cake was in the oven. While it was cooling I nipped into Middleton. I wanted to buy her a jumper and something from Thomas. She loves these soft fluffy jumpers and I think she'll like the bracelet.
When I got back I got down to some cake decorating. It was easy enough to do. Jam in the middle, on top and sides. Roll the icing out, cover the cake and trim. Open packets and decorate. Then add candles. I think it looks pretty OK, even if I do say so myself and the chocolate triangles will be a good guide for cutting. It's under wraps now until tomorrow.

Once again I managed to make a mess, but as I'm the one who clears it up along with all the mess other people make it doesn't bother me too much. Mother's mantra of 'tidy as we go' seems to have deserted me recently.
Amy and her friend got ready here for her birthday lunch. I did a double take when they came downstairs. Gone were the leggings, t-shirt and converse; dresses and heels were the order of the day. They both looked lovely and had gone to a lot of effort with hair and make-up. She went to the Red Hot World Buffet in Manchester with 2 girls and one boy. She had me laughing the other day about the boy. The teacher had called him over-dramatic and this was in a drama lesson and was nothing to do with his acting! Mark took them and picked them up and by the sounds of it they had a great time. Oh to be a teenager again. I wouldn't do anything different, I'd just do more of it.

The girls were stuffed when the got back but managed to squeeze in a pancake each. Thomas managed to eat 8 although they weren't massive. No fancy toppings this year just sugar and lemon.
 Of course, Thomas wanted to see a pancake being tossed and Mark did the honours.  

And much to Thomas' delight, because it was his pancake, he managed to catch it. What a hero!


xxx


Monday, 16 February 2015

Birthday Preps

It's Amy's birthday on Wednesday and she put her birthday cake request in this morning. She wants a homemade Victoria sandwich with strawberry jam but no cream and for the icing she wants that "lovely white stuff that you roll out". I added a few daisies and some chocolate triangles to the basket as well for decoration. 
She's sleeping at her friends tonight so I took the chance of her being out to wrap some gifts. She's only got a few bits and pieces to open as she's going for something to eat with her friends and will be getting birthday money. There's a book, a reed diffuser, some chocolate and sweets.
I just used tissue paper for wrapping and made some flowers and fans to pretty it all up.
Now, I'm going to share something with you. This is the state my table gets into when I'm doing anything crafty. I just can't seem to keep tidy and spread over whatever available space there is.
We went to see Joan this afternoon and took some chocolate eclairs for her. She seems to have her own seat which is next to the man who also loves sweets. He was struggling with his dentures again and took them out several times to suck the toffee off them. She was sat with a little group of people and I offered them all a sweet. Needless to say it went quiet for a good 10 minutes. Personally, I think these care homes are missing a trick. If I had one there would be no drugs administered, just bags of toffee constantly on offer and I would bulk buy steradent.

xxx









Sunday, 15 February 2015

Beer Tasting

Mark went on a beer tasting session today with Matthew, so there was no Sunday lunch to cook. Instead we all sat down to a big breakfast. It was an 'official' session, Matthew bought it him for Christmas and they were both really looking forward to it. 

After dropping him at the station I came home and sat down to paint the pegs which arrived yesterday. They're a bit different than the ones used for hanging washing out, in that they have flat bottoms so they can stand up. They also come with a little holder. There were 10 in the pack and they cost me £1.95.
 The first job was to paint them. I used to love painting with Amy and Thomas when they were little but it was just me and myself today and I gave them 2 coats simply because I was enjoying it so much!
Then I painted the bases. I've seen some pictures where people have painted shoes onto the stands but I'm not that artistic so I've painted them to match the colour of the material I'm going to use for their dresses.
 I read a tip that using clear nail polish would add shine but it didn't work very well so for a bit of extra sparkle I stuck on some 'jewels' that I've had in the craft box for years.

Then I cut some pieces of material ready for the next part. I'm just waiting for the pipe cleaners and beads to arrive now. The heads will be the hardest part. I have no idea what their faces will end up looking like, but all I can do is give it my best shot. At the very worst I'll have some pretty pegs for my washing.
I got a text from Mark at 4pm to say what a fantastic afternoon they'd had. As well as the tasting, they were given a talk and there were platters of cheese, meats and bread on offer, no doubt to help soak up some of the alcohol. 

However, the official 'can you pick me up' phone call didn't come until 7pm so they'd obviously carried out their own tasting experiments. I'm not complaining though. Mark has done so much sorting out for his mum and dad since Christmas that he deserves an afternoon off duty. 

xxx

Friday, 13 February 2015

Grade A Students

I started the day with my usual bowl of porridge and added a few blueberries left over from the punnet I bought yesterday. Generally the day goes downhill from here food wise but as long as I've had my morning oats I feel quite virtuous and if I've added fruit then I'm nothing less than a Saint.

This morning I had an e-mail from the lady who organises the Dress Charity. It simply said, "I have received the dresses, they are lovely, thank you very much". She has a degree in textiles and over 40 years of sewing experience and her one-liner felt like the equivalent of getting an A off the teacher. Mind you, I expect she'd be far too polite to say "The dresses are carp, please don't bother sending any more". In a bid to up the 'frilly' stakes, I've had a go at making a fabric flower. Here is my prototype which I'm happy to admit is still a work in progress!
I popped into Middleton and picked up a couple of things for my next project. The pegs should be here early next week and I'll have to order some pipe cleaners and wooden beads on line as I couldn't find any in the shops.

Thomas came home with his school report last night. This one was much more personalised than usual and made enjoyable reading. However, the teacher had forgotten to grade him for his effort and behaviour in class. Now we all know Thomas can't abide loose ends so this morning as well as his book bag, lunch box and water bottle, he had his report with him which he gave back to her so she could get his mark. Thankfully, he got A's otherwise we could have had a melt down on our hands as he really does put 100% effort in and his behaviour is excellent.

So me and my boy are both Grade A students today. 

xxx





Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Peg Dolls

Most weeks I usually buy a bit of something for Amy when I'm in Bury and this week she got a body spray and a bar of chocolate. I leave them on her bed for her to find when she gets in from school and goes upstairs to change out of her uniform. 
Thomas doesn't get left out but he prefers treats than can be downloaded to the Xbox. They cost a fair bit more than the couple of pounds I spend on Amy so he doesn't get them every week but he might be in line for something tonight especially as two certificates came through the post today from his maths and English teachers.
 My 'Bury Bargains' this week were 3 plant pots for £1 and 3 ramekin dishes also for £1. Plus I found 3 metres of elastic on the indoor market for 50p.
I had a mooch around the charity shops but couldn't see any suitable dress material. I did notice that the shops are more expensive than the ones in Middleton so I think I'll just stick to my local ones. 

I'm toying with the idea of making some peg dollies to send with the dresses but I couldn't find any old fashioned pegs. I think I'll have to go on line and have a look. If I was a little girl I'd quite like to receive one of these and I wouldn't mind having a go at making some as another faffing around project.
                               

If I do find some pegs I'll share my doll making efforts with you and although I have a sneaky suspicion they won't end up looking anything like this, I'm sure my attempts will brighten up your day.

xxx

                                             








Monday, 9 February 2015

Mugged for a phone

Thomas asked me to bake some cookies last week which I promised him I would do, but I forgot. Anyway, these will be waiting for him when he gets in from school tonight. The recipe is from BBC Good Food and they have the same texture and taste as Millie's Cookies. I got 20 out of the mixture which is a steal considering how much the real ones cost.
The only person who seems to be taking any notice of the points raised at the family meeting is Thomas. He's appeared twice now with an empty toilet roll in his hand to tell me quite seriously that "somebody has broken the rules". He wants to be a policeman when he grows up and I think he'll make a mighty fine one.

I managed to post the dresses today and I cut out another one for a teenager so it's all ready to sew in the week.

Tomorrow night I'm meeting up with two friends for a meal. Over the weekend one of them had an early morning phone call from her son, who is in his early 20's. He'd been mugged and had his phone stolen. He ended up in A&E with facial injuries and smashed teeth. She took him to the emergency dentist yesterday and they took x-rays but they can't do anything for at least a week as his jaw and face are too badly swollen. She's having a bit of a time at the moment and is feeling thoroughly fed up.

Anyway, when she arrives tomorrow night the wine will be waiting for her, the floor will be all hers and we won't be saying a word until she gets everything off her chest.

xxx









Saturday, 7 February 2015

Trying to Post Dresses

Over the past week I have really got caught up with making these little dresses. Each one still takes me quite a while to complete but I get there in the end. Working in from the left the 1st one is from a duvet set I already had, the 2nd, 4th & 5th were from pillowcases that cost 49p each and the owl material was left over from my quilt. There's also the one I made out of Tom's pillowcase, but I missed this off the photo. So, very little outlay for a good cause and a great deal of personal enjoyment. 
I took them to the local post office this morning. There was one cashier working and a woman at the till who seemed to be emptying her piggy bank. I was 5th in the queue so after 10 minutes of waiting and her showing no signs of finishing any time soon I gave up and came home. I'll try again on Monday when I drop Thomas off at school. 

Tom is treating us all to a meal out tonight. Matthew and Sophie are coming along as well so it'll be nice for us all to be together. Mum is coming down to babysit Thomas and even though we won't be back late she'll stay over and have lunch with us tomorrow. As she said when I invited her 'it would be rude not to'. 

I have just ironed 12 shirts plus everything else that was in the ironing pile, so I'm going to find something nice to do for myself now. 

xx






Thursday, 5 February 2015

Loving Lidl....

... For their scrummy bakery section. I treated myself to a vanilla crown today. Highly recommended.
.... For their flowers. They're such a good price I pop a bunch in the trolley most weeks, unless I buy their big white lilies which last much longer. Today's choice was Alstremeria, more commonly known, (although not to me), as Peruvian Lily or Lily of the Incas.
.... For their random items that bring a smile to my face and very occasionally catch my eye like this lovely set of little vases. I thought I might be able to put a tea light in them but the necks are just a smidgen too small.
Then the guilt kicked in. It all felt a bit "It's all about me", so on the way to school I popped into the newsagents and picked up these two cutie pies for Amy and Thomas. 
Yes, I know they each get a big cookie on Thursdays, but it's surprising how much guilt can be eradicated by a chocolate chicken.

Joan has settled in nicely in her new home. We went to see her this afternoon and she was sat in the lounge wide awake taking in everything that was going on around her. Tom took her some chocolate eclairs which she shared with the man sat next to her. Every time he had one he  took his teeth out and was sat there with his toffee paper in one hand and his dentures in the other. Bless them. Anyway, no hint of upset or being confused or wanting to come home which makes everything so much easier for us all.

xxx