Monday, 30 November 2015

Getting ready for Christmas

We were going to bob down to the Christmas markets in Manchester today but the weather is horrible and the last thing we felt like doing was walking around in the rain. Instead we did a tip run and a quick dart around Middleton for a few bits and bobs.

Back home I got the Christmas cards out and wrote the ones I need to take with me at weekend.
The Christmas gifts that aren't really Christmas gifts were wrapped for my brother's children.
And I bought some gifts that really are just gifts and don't need wrapping for my great niece and nephews, (gets confusing doesn't it). 
Then it was coat on and into the shed to sort out the decorations I wanted for the branch tree. These belonged to my Nanna and must be over 40 years old. No idea how I've ended up with them and I don't usually put them out but this year I'm going to find a place for them. Love the fact that the price per bauble is written on the box.
Then it was down to decorating the tree for tomorrow. What do you think? I've colour co-ordinated it with pinks and purples. Amy and Thomas decorate the Christmas tree and it has no theme whatsoever, so this feels quite grown up!
Looking at the photo I'm thinking maybe another 3 or 4 bunches of baubles just to fill in a couple of spaces. And although the star doesn't show up properly on the photo it does sparkle quite a lot in real life. The vintage baubles match in really well I think. 
In between all this I've done my usual Monday chores, but I have to confess I've not been as thorough as usual, it's been more of a quick lick and a promise. Faffing around held more appeal than the feather duster today. 


Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Fort and Baby has finally got a name

Sunday started with a cooked breakfast again.
And an uninvited guest. She shared a sausage with Sparky so no feeling too sorry for her, she has those sad doggy eyes down to perfection. Notice the jackets on the chairs again!
Then me and Amy left the boys to it and went to The Fort to do some shopping. She chose some boots and a new top for Christmas and bought some presents for friends at school.
Then she stocked up on lip liner, lipstick, concealer, body spray and shampoo. I bought a 99p pack of nail files - last of the big spenders I am. I also picked this up for my brother's step-daughter. We don't do Christmas gifts so this is more of a "just because we're visiting" rather than an official Christmas present if you know what I mean.
And the baby has a name. Wait for it..... Roman Kai. As my niece says it's an acquired taste but they like it and that's the main thing. Mum made me laugh though, she came over all Granny and said "I don't know, whatever next".

Baileys on ice seems to be the way I end most days at the moment. And very nice it is too.


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Easy Saturday

Amy slept out last night and was supposed to be home at 10.30am for our shopping day. She rolled in at 1pm (she had text me), looking shattered and asked would I mind if we went shopping tomorrow instead. That's the thing with teenagers. Their sleeping habits mean you learn to become flexible very quickly.

So, this afternoon I took it easy and indulged myself. 

I watched It's a Wonderful Life. James Stewart always reminds me of my Dad. He couldn't stand watching him with his stuttering ways. I love this film though, it's a classic, and the cake was an added bonus although I should really have made my own scones.

I did a bit of jigsaw which is coming on nicely although the pieces did start to slightly lose their definition after an early evening glass of wine. The spatula is to pick up sections I've made to add to the main picture.
And I sewed another cushion cover.
I also officially managed to get rid of these! More time has been spent on finding keys, cutting keys, labelling keys and trying to get into Number 14 with the wrong keys, than I care to think about over the past few weeks.
So even though the day didn't go to plan, my Saturday ended up being very enjoyable anyway.

And I still have shopping to look forward to tomorrow. 


Friday, 27 November 2015

Dancing Week 2 - Move over baby hippos!

So, dancing, lesson 2. Well there were 5 more people there last night. One couple, 2 friends and a lady who got to partner up with the teacher. If marks were being given out we'd definitely be bottom of the class. It's not so much the dance steps, it's the fact that we're not very light on our feet and we seemed to just plod through the whole session like baby hippos. We did learn to turn and move around the floor when we waltzed and also did a basic cha cha cha step. Marks' feet were a problem though. He's size 11 and they managed to tread on my dainty little 5's a few times last night. But we shall persevere, not least because the worse we were the more we laughed. And laughter is good even if the dancing isn't. 

I sewed the front of cushion 3 today and they should all have been finished by now. I ordered  a cheap pair of red pillowcases from Argos for the backing but when I went to collect them the queue was nearly at the door. Maybe it was something to do with Black Friday? I'll re-order tonight and collect them tomorrow instead.  
The tiling in the kitchen is done and the tenants move in tomorrow. It's been a day of sorting out keys and adding final bits to the tenancy agreement.
A final mop of the floor and that was it. Number 14 is finished!
More bits for the shoebox appeal. It's surprising when you remove the packaging what you can fit into a shoebox. I want to get this back to school early next week so that will be another thing off my list.
I've bought a twinkly star for the top of my branch tree. I'll be decorating this on Tuesday, the first day of December! How on earth have we got to Christmas again so quickly?
We went to Mums tonight. Dancing and a shopping day with Amy tomorrow means our visiting is a bit all over the place at the moment. The bottle of wine we take with us stays consistent though. 

Another weekend ahead of us already. I'm trying to be mindful of everything I'm doing but in all honestly the last few weeks I seem to have just lurched from one thing to another - yet again. It's not a feeling I enjoy and it leaves me feeling out of control. 

I've put the whole day aside for Amy tomorrow though so rather than rushing around trying to fit loads in, it'll just be some leisurely shopping and lunch which I'm looking forward to. And I've decided I'm not taking a list of my own, instead I'm just going to go with her flow and enjoy being with her.

Have a great weekend - again! 


Thursday, 26 November 2015


I made time for a bit of sewing today and did my first cushion cover. The envelope type is so easy, even for me. No zips, no buttons, just sew and go.
I love the little nutcracker soldiers. They remind me of watching Barbie Nutcracker with Amy when she was little. 
The front of the second one is also done. I just need some plain red material for the back.
And the third is cut out, pinned and ready to be sewn.
Treat of the week - a bag of Pontefract Cakes which I've been eating my way through. Not many left now. 
The white chrysanths from last week are still going strong so I just added pink roses for a splash of colour. 
Dancing tonight. Hoping to learn how to move around the floor instead of just going backwards and forwards. 


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

New Arrival and Ready to sew

I must have had sixth sense when I was buying the dungaree set yesterday because my niece went into labour and baby was born just before 11pm last night. As of me posting this, he still has no name. Anyway, she went into hospital, had him and was home again all within 6 hours. Coincidentally he shares the same birthday with his cousin (her sisters little boy), who was 5 yesterday. 

I'm getting on with my Christmas shopping. Amy has given me a list which comprises of a nightshirt, smellies, Lush bathbombs, make-up, books and combat boots. Everything on the list with be a 'surprise' apart from the boots which she'll have to choose and try on. Then they'll get sent to Father Christmas:) Nightshirts aren't very easy to come across but I found this one in BHS which she'll like as she's into checks at the moment, plus a make-up set.
It's ages since I've done any sewing and I had the urge to make some Christmas cushion covers, just to add a bit of colour to the room. I bought the material off the market and I'll be making envelope covers which are easy enough to do.
Thomas brought home a shoebox from school for the Rotary Club and I bought a few bits to go in it while I was in Bury. As well as doing the box we donate to the Salvation Army and either do a food or toy drop off to a local charity. I thank my lucky stars every year that we're in a position to be able to do this.
When the tenants said they wanted to drop some stuff off yesterday I imagined a few boxes of pots and pans. I went up last night and they've set the house up. The suite, dining table, lamps, ornaments, photos and wardrobes are all in place just waiting for them to officially move in. I have to say it looks lovely and they're so excited they've asked if we can bring the signing date forward to this weekend which is fine by us.

And finally, this is just for Rachel. Thomas went to lego therapy today and asked his teacher if he could bring these home so his mum could blog about them to her friend. I must admit I felt a moment of panic that he'd told the teacher what my blog was called and she was sat there scrolling through my life, but he said he didn't because he knows I don't want anybody I know to read it. Which I don't. Funny isn't it, apart from Mum I haven't told any friends or family about it and that's the way I like it. Anyway, Rachel, from Thomas with love :) 


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Baby, Book and Bad Weather

We're off to Cheltenham next weekend to see my brother and family but the main reason for going down is to see my niece's new baby. He's not actually arrived yet, but one way or another he'll definitely be here next week. I couldn't resist this little gruffalo dungaree set for him. 
I also bought Thomas some tops for Robinwood. If I buy 3 t-shirts and 3 long sleeved tops for him each year it's probably as much because as you've all seen he doesn't really wear anything apart from school uniform and PJ bottoms. I like Sainsburys for kids clothes, but the labels they sew in are a pain. There's no way he'd wear this, the label against his skin would drive him batty, so as well as cutting all the white labels out I've also had to unpick the motif label x 3! 
I finished my Gingerbread Cafe book and it all ended very happily with a Christmas Eve wedding and a baby on the way. My next read is a little bit out of my comfort zone. I don't usually go for 'dark' reads but as I keep encouraging Amy to broaden her reading horizons I thought I should do the same. 
And in between shopping, ironing, tidying and cooking I've managed to fit a few more pieces of jigsaw. Actually, it's a jigsaw of many bits at the  moment with lots of googly eyes thrown in for good measure. There's that many colours that after a while it's hard to pick anything out. A bit like going snow blind.
Speaking of which, none of the white stuff materialised and we are now back to wet, damp, soggy weather. 


Monday, 23 November 2015

A place for everything.... maybe not

You know the saying "a place for everything, everything in its place"? Well, this is a 5 minute downstairs sweep, gathering everything up that's been dumped on the mantelpiece, the radiator cover and the top of the microwave over the weekend with the intention of 'putting it away in a minute'. Looking at the pile I'm a major culprit. There are also coats, jackets and scarves hung on the back of every dining room chair leaving the coat hooks in the porch surplus to requirements.
Mark was out first thing this morning so I put the radio on, you can't beat a bit of Smooth FM, and got down to it. I find it so much easier cleaning when there's nobody in the house. I can get twice as much done in half the time. Plus I can sing without him wincing and making sarcastic comments.

I popped to Argos to buy this for Amy for Christmas. She's into smoothies at the moment but we don't have a smoothie maker so she's improvising and mashing soft fruit down with my spud masher which actually works quite well. I suspect it's a passing fad so I've not gone to great expense but I think she'll like it. The best bit is the jug thingy-majiggy which is a drinks bottle/cup so as the label says you just blend and go.
I've tied my branch tree together. I went for the rustic look and used string because that's all I had but I don't think you'll see much of it once its decorated. I wanted the branches a bit more wonky but it wasn't that easy to do so they're pretty much all straight. We usually put our tree up the first weekend in December but we're away in Cheltenham visiting my brother so we'll have to leave it until the following weekend. But I think I'll decorate this before we go. 
The tenants are dropping a van load of their stuff off at Number 14 tomorrow afternoon. They're not allowed to have the keys until the contract is signed but we're happy to let them in so they can get a head start.

It'll be strange not just being able to just pop up there but on the other hand we've both agreed after all the work we've put in we're more than happy to let it go and move on. 

If they're half as happy there as Tom and Joan were they'll be fine.  


Sunday, 22 November 2015

Twixmas Break

I did a full English for breakfast again this morning which I've done for the last 3 or 4 weeks instead of a Sunday lunch. I've decided that as there are only 4 more Sundays until Christmas there'll be no more Sunday roasts at Number 38 so we'll definitely be ready for turkey and all the trimmings when the day arrives.

We've booked a couple of nights away between Christmas and New Year. We're off to Betws Y Coed for a couple of nights in Snowdonia. We've been before, actually it was in 2004 the day after the Boxing Day Tsunami. Good grief that's 11 years ago! It's a beautiful place and I'm really looking forward to re-visiting it, this time with Thomas in tow. 

We keep talking about a holiday home but although I like routine in my life I'm not sure I want to be tied to the same place for weekends away. I much prefer visiting different places and I have to confess staying put and seeing more of the UK appeals to me very much at the moment with what's going on in the world. 

It's been a very quiet day here again today. Nothing much has happened and the only photo worth taking is of the pizza and salads I did for tea. And I've only put this on because I do like a photo or two to add a bit of colour to the blurb. 

Hope you've all enjoyed your weekend. 

*Twixmas -  The term comes from the old English phrase ‘Betwix’– meaning the middle position. Traditionally 'Twixmas' starts on 27th December and continues right through until New Year. 


Saturday, 21 November 2015

Hot Chocolate Weather

It snowed at Number 38 last night. Not a lot but enough for a thin covering to stick to the roofs and trees. Today the sky is blue, the sun is shining but it's blooming freezing. Definitely the weather for a hot chocolate and cinnamon with all the trimmings.
The Christmas Cake got its first dose of whisky. This is a Thomas job. He loves stabbing the holes and injecting the good stuff. Can't believe it's a year since we were last doing this. It's that cold that even Thomas is wearing his dressing gown.
The jigsaw is on the table and I keep mooching over for 10 minutes to fit a piece or two here and there. It's a very colourful and busy puzzle which makes it hard in its own way, but enjoyable all the same.
I've started my Christmas lists. I've done the food, the cards and what I need for decorating the house. The present list remains blank. To be honest it's only Amy and Thomas that are giving me trouble. Nephews and nieces are given money and maybe a small gift to unwrap, Joan will get some new slippers and a box of biscuits or something along those lines, Aunty Edith something similar, Ken a bottle of whisky and Mum had hers a couple of months ago. And that's all we buy for really. I don't even do nephews and nieces when they've turned 18. I'm not sure how Christmas will feel this year with no Tom or Joan sat at the table. Very strange for everybody I expect. 

I'm finishing my day off with a Baileys on ice and a film. Then I'll be snuggling under the covers with the book I started last night. The storyline is rubbish (man/woman/hate/love) but it's worth the read for all the baking that goes on in the cafe. 
In fact the description of pies, cakes and gingerbread made my mouth water that much that I got out of bed and came downstairs for a couple of choc chip cookies myself last night. 


Friday, 20 November 2015

Move over Anton

Well I'm pleased to announce that after our first dancing lesson our feet are still intact, and more importantly so is our marriage. And I can rather proudly say we can now waltz albeit in a straight line backwards and forwards. How to turn and move around the dance floor comes next week. We were the first to arrive and the teacher said the class was very small but even so she was a bit surprised when nobody else turned up. She was excellent though, very patient and down to earth and we had our own private lesson. We are definitely going back next week.

It's been a bit of a nothing day today. I had to pop into Middleton and picked up a couple of things for Christmas. Two apple and cinnamon candles and 2 Christmas tree ornaments for Amy and Thomas which are filled with chocolate coins.
And just in case we forget, I also picked this up.
I'm going to have to get my brain into gear soon for Christmas. I'm even struggling to come up with ideas for stocking fillers this year. All I can think of at the moment is another Diary of a Minecraft Zombie book for Thomas and a Lush Bath bomb for Amy. I'm much more organised on the food front and will be writing up my menu over the weekend. Not that we buy much of anything different to be honest. A couple of cheeses, a starter for Christmas lunch and a home made trifle seem to be our biggest treats. 

I'm cracking on with the jigsaw. The border is done and I've got my little piles ready to work on. This is the puzzle with the picture. It remains to be seen how I'll get on with the picture-less puzzle.
I collected Thomas from school and managed to avoid one of the many downpours of the day. I don't mind a couple of rainy days, sometimes it's nice to have an excuse to cosy up inside, but I'm getting fed up of it now. Anyway, I picked up a Friday treat for him while I was shopping. The tasteless cakes he loves so much and can eat one after the other if I let him.
Amy is out again tonight, staying over at her friends. They're off to the Trafford Centre tomorrow to do some shopping. Which means I get the bathroom all to myself, so I'll be having a long soak with a new book. 

Hope you all have a lovely weekend.


Thursday, 19 November 2015

I'm in the mood for dancing...

I know I shouldn't but every so often I need a break from healthy porridge and prunes for breakfast. 
It was requested last night that could I please 'prepare' the fruit and veg that I buy so that Number 38er's can just go to the fridge and help themselves. Lazy buggers is what I thought, but as the woman of the house I have obliged. Just let one piece of pepper or melon go uneaten!
This is my kitchen bin for food recycling. I'm sure lots of you have been doing this for ages, but it's only just been decreed in Middleton. Anyway, so far this is 3 days worth of waste, although, and I say this rather smugly,there isn't actually any food in there. So far I have recycled teabags, potato peelings, pepper, melon rind, corn cobs and a couple of egg shells. The only food left over from our last 3 meals has been one sausage and the dogs got that. Even on spag bol night I always freeze the sauce that's left, so no waste there either. I don't think I'll throw much more than two bags of 'food' away every week which for a family of 4 doesn't seem too bad. 
I scrapped the star I started yesterday as it wasn't working and made these instead. Some will be for the Nativity set, some will hang on my 'branch tree'. 
We went to see Joan today and took her a cream cake. Apparently she'd been to Blackpool on a day trip on 4th November and we owed the home £30. It's the first we'd heard of it and of course there's no point asking Joan as she can't remember anything. I did try and ask 2 other ladies if they'd enjoyed the trip but they looked at me blankly as well. I can't think why they would take a group of 80+ year olds to Blackpool for a day in November especially as half of them can't really walk. Anyway, we handed the money over and made sure we got a receipt, but we'll be monitoring any future trips and requests for funds.

Right, that's it for today. We're off to our first dancing lesson soon. If ballroom isn't for us, maybe we could try their Boogie Bounce Extreme class! I'll let you know how we get on tomorrow.