Sunday, 31 July 2011

'Interesting' Facts

Cuckoo and Emily have each given me an award recently so I thought I'd do my facts today. I'm thrilled to be thought of, especially by people whose blogs I love reading.  It's a huge mood booster, thanks lovelies!

From Cuckoo:                                   From Emily:

(I like doing these fact things, they make me think about the kind of person that I am and what's important to me.)

So without any further ado....

1.  I am a secret-keeper.  Tell me something in confidence and I won't breathe a word to anyone, ever. I have been told things that I will honestly take to the grave.

2.  I really want to join the WI.  I've been thinking about it a lot recently, especially since reading about Jazz Domino Holly in Mollie Makes.  She is my new hero and if I lived in the area I'd be there each month, with knobs on.  I doubt that my local WI will be much like the Shoreditch Sisters though, unfortunately, but I fantasise that I would give it a new lease of life.  Recruit 'fresh blood', so to speak.

3.  Love and trust are the two most important things in the world to me.  Nothing else really matters, despite my longings for Mulberry handbags, a ride-on lawnmower and a walk-in pantry.

4.  I am terrified of the dentist.  It doesn't help that I have a ridiculously sensitive gag reflex and can't even have an x-ray done of my mouth (those little plastic films that they put in your mouth make me gag instantly).  I have to have root canal treatment soon and my regular dentist has sourced a private practice that will drug me beforehand (so that I don't freak out) and use special equipment (so that I don't gag).  It's the only way I can cope with it, even if I have to remortgage the house/sell a kidney.

5.  I have a terrible temper.  My mum says I 'go off like a bottle of pop':  I do.  On the plus side, I'm not one for sulking or holding a grudge.  I explode, say how I feel and then I am back to normal instantly.  That's just the way I roll (ha!).  Hard for other people to deal with though, I know, so I do try to control it.

6.  I am a bit obsessive about things.  The toilet roll has to be hung properly on the holder (up and over, please), towels have to be folded a certain way and the quilt has to be completely square and level on the bed before I can get in.  I realise that this is odd and probably means I'm a control freak.

7.  I can't balance on games equipment - I am unable to ice- or roller-skate and always fall off when out on a bike ride.  It can be embarrassing, for me and my companion.

8.  I whistle a lot, like an old man, quite elaborately sometimes.  I get it from my Mum, she has always been a whistler.  The husband and I had a whistle-off the other day, we were in stitches.  Try it, it is seriously funny.  (We were whistling 'Whistle While You Work' taking it in turns to whistle a line.  Impossible to whistle when you're laughing.)

9.  I love making people jump, it cracks me up.  I quite often leap out from behind a door/sofa/bed shouting 'BOO!' to make my husband, stepson or dog jump.  I'm going to get punched one day, I know it.

10.  If you've got a bogey on your nose or your knickers tucked in your skirt, I'll let you know.  I always feel compelled to let people know these things (because I'd want to know myself).

The awards have been to all of my favourite bloddies but I'm going to pass this to Kmmms.  I love reading the stories about Kmmms' sweet daughters and I like her writing style.  I'd like to know more about this gal and I think she'd like to play.



Friday, 29 July 2011

A rosy weekend ahead

Such a chilled week, it has been lovely.  Work is quiet as lots of people are on holiday at the moment so I have been enjoying the slight change of pace.  It won't last long, that's for sure.

The husband and I are going into London tomorrow.  It's about an hour on the train for us, so it's no biggie to nip there occasionally.  We're just going for lunch and a bit of a wander - nowhere in particular.  I can, however, practically guarantee that we will make a trip to Liberty.  It's my favourite shop.  Aside from just admiring the gorgeous building I love the homewares, the fashion, the stationery department and the beauty hall. 

I'm also on the lookout for some rose petal jam.  I read in my Leon book that it's good with natural yogurt and it sounds like my kind of thing.  I love flowery flavours: Charbonnel et Walker rose and violet creams are my very favourite chocs, Parma Violet sweets are a guilty pleasure and rose tea a new [but firm] favourite.  In fact, thinking about it, there will be a bit of a rose theme tomorrow - I also want to pick up some Jo Malone rose water and vanilla perfume that I've been coveting for ages.

So my mind is turning to what I might wear.  A nice lunch somewhere with the husband means that I need to make a bit of an effort but I also have to be mindful of potential blazing sunshine/torrential rain and the fact that we will be walking A LOT. 

The only thing I'm certain to be dragging out tomorrow is this handbag:

(Yep, another handbag post.  I told you I'm a bag lady).

It's my Mulberry Lily in oak silky snake print leather (stupid name really, it isn't silky at all).  I bought it earlier in the year and I love it.  It's much smaller than my other handbags and I really like the chain strap.  I feel quite chic when I carry it and it's fab for shopping because, being small, it doesn't get heavy.  The only down side is that I can't take my crochet or a book for the train but that's why man-bags were invented, no?

I have loads of other things to blog about - I've got a crochet hook roll that I am in LOVE with (a rose print!  I think you will all appreciate it too) and so of course I had to get some pretty new hooks.  I've also started [another] crochet project and have a few squares to show you.  I'm quite pleased with them.  I've also got two blog awards to accept (thanks Cuckoo and Emily!) so I'll do all of that early next week. 

Sending lots of love and sunshine your way.



(sorry for the awful title, I made myself cringe too)

Edit:  Just reviewing my post for typos and noticed my fizzog reflected in the shiny buckle on my bag.  Ha!  Note to self to look out for unintentional reflections in future photos... don't want my bloddies catching a glimpse of me in my baggy grey knicks.  Ha! 

Monday, 25 July 2011

Monday Already

Finally relaxing... Another Monday out of the way.  I hate Mondays, I truly hate them.  I don't know why.  It could be because I have a tough teleconference to attend early doors for work every Monday (and man, it's a killer) but I think it's just that I love my weekends so much.  Weekends are so precious to me, there are always so many things I want to do that Mondays just come around too jeffing quickly. I know lots of people feel the same.

This weekend was fab.  I escaped the weeding at home on Saturday morning to go and see my Mum, sister and niece.  I took my scarf to show them (I'm very proud of it, see) and my little niece (who's just two and a half years old) tottered over to me, fingers in her mouth, and shyly asked if I would make her a blanket (I think she was primed by my sister).  Of course I said yes so I am currently looking through my book of 200 Crochet Blocks to find a motif that I can use for the blanket.  I've learnt that I like having a few things on the go at once - just to 'mix things up a bit' - and it will be nice to make something specifically for someone.  And I know that my little niece will love it; she will soon be able to sit through Shrek all the way through (she's still a bit fidgety) and a blanket to snuggle under will soon come in very handy I think! 

The best thing from Saturday though is that I discovered that my sister has decided to learn to crochet!  I'm beyond excited - it means I will have someone IN REAL LIFE to talk to about yarn, crochet patterns, blankets and other pretty things.  Everyone I know is slightly bemused by my interest in crochet and baking (in fact my sis has been ribbing me for being an old lady for yonks now) so I'm utterly thrilled she's going to give it a whirl.  I have already mentioned several of your blogs to her so that she can get reading and inspired.  She laughs at me for blogging, too.  Wonder if she will be blogging herself this time next year?... 

On Saturday afternoon, Andrew and I went to a posh country pub for an early dinner.  There was lots of wine (for me, anyway) and I was zonked out on the sofa, probably dribbling, by 7pm.  Classy. (My own sofa I mean, not one at the pub.  That really would be shameful but alas not improbable where I am concerned, I absolutely cannot handle my booze.  In fact one day, when I know you better, I will tell you the story about when I ended up bathing at the neighbour's house late one Friday evening after a particularly messy lunch in London. My most cringe-worthy memory to date.)  

Sunday was spent reading (addicted to the Peter James 'Roy Grace' series), crocheting, eating pie, reading blogs and getting the washing out of the way.  It finished up with a long dog walk and a glass of sherry.  It really was lovely.

Before I go, I thought I'd tell you about one of my favourite candle brands:  True Grace.   I love scented candles but Miller Harris, Jo Malone and Costes candles are just too special (and expensive) for every day use.  The True Grace candles aren't cheap (£20 each) but they are, in my opinion, easily comparable to the pricier types.  The fig is my favourite.  It smells divine and is perfect for Sunday evening sherries and sofa-surfing.

Four days til the weekend, kids!  



PS Thank you so much for your supportive words about my scarf.  I was so chuffed to get so many comments, I love reading your blogs and am thrilled you pop over to my little neck of the cyberwoods.   Date for sleepover TBC.  Ha! 

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Is it me....

...or is it cold* in here?

I'm trying to look nonchalant but...Yee-ha!!!!  I finished my scarf!  I know that it was a super easy pattern but I am more than a little bit pleased with myself.  Thank you to my fab bloddie Emily for publishing the pattern, it was perfectly clear and simple to follow (although I did accidentally adapt it a tad by making my stripes too big).

Can you tell how chuffed I am?  Look at that cheesy grin - ha!  I couldn't bring myself to do an actual 'Ta-dah' in the title because I felt I had already slightly overdone the build up to the Big Reveal!   But this is a hooooge thing for me - I couldn't crochet a few months ago and now I've been able to make something that is (I think) pretty, soft and wearable!

I know that my stitches aren't super-even all the way through and where I join in a new colour the stitches are a little loose but if you could see what I was producing four months ago, this is a proper leap for me!

I even managed a little scalloped edging!  (There may or may not be one stitch too many on the other end resulting in a slightly uneven finish.  Whatevs - counting is not one of my strong points...)

Here it is, all folded up and in its imperfect glory.  

I absolutely loved making it.  I loved the feel of the yarn and adore the colour combination.  It was so relaxing crocheting in rows and watching the scarf grow quickly.  I know I shouldn't admit to this but I LOVED sewing in the ends.  I found it so peaceful and felt really old-fashioned sitting sewing next to hubby in my little armchair!  The simple things...  It's the first time I have sewn in any ends before and I've heard that so many people hate it - I was dreading it.  The only issue it has now highlighted is that in my inexperience I think I've left the ends on my granny squares too short.  I don't know how I'm going to sew them in, the ends on some of the squares are only an inch or so long.  Grrrr.   Any suggestions or do I have to scrap the squares?

So yes I do have a couple of other projects on the go - my granny blanket and my bunting both need finishing.  But I want to start something else and I'm going to try a little baby blanket.  It's one from a Nicki Trench book and I've bought exactly the yarn that the book recommends in exactly the same colours.  I fancied taking the safe option.  I'll show you the yarn and the pattern when I kick it off.

Oooh, and I'm going to blog about this bag ^^ another day too.  I'm so pleased with it - it was a sale bargain and deserves its own post. 

I'm going to hop in the bath now, I've used my special Penhaligon's Bluebell bath oil and I can smell it wafting down the landing, it's gorgeous.  I'm also reading a Peter James novel which has me absolutely hooked.  It's been a while since I read a proper paperback (I usually read a Kindle) and it's a novelty to be able to take it in the bath.

Sorry for all the exclamation marks.  One of my pet hates is overusing exclamation marks but y'know, I'm excited.  

So there!!!!!!



*I know it was my silly way of casually showcasing my scarf, but I actually really am cold - we took the dog for a walk this evening and I was trussed up in Ugg boots, a hoodie and a little coat too.  Ridiculous for the end of July.  

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Tea Break

Just stopped for a little tea break to say that I've got loads I want to blog about but I'm being strict with myself and am focusing my energies on my scarf.  I'm right at the end - just weaving in the ends and I'm there!  

Be right back.



Thursday, 14 July 2011

Breakfast smoothies, pampered wives and neglected husbands

I'm trying to be healthy and eat more fruit but it mostly makes me gag, so I blend it into a smoothie and all's well.  

Today's lunch was a Power Smoothie with strawberries and yo-gurt (please say yogurt the American way) from a Leon cookbook (my current fave).  It's meant to be a breakfast smoothie - it has oats in it - but the husband and I have found ourselves in a happy little routine (for me) where he brings me coffee and toast in bed every morning.  I am worried that if I suggest a variation to the menu it might suddenly draw his attention to the fact that he is slavishly delivering my breakfast each day (I think he does it on automatic pilot now, being half-asleep first thing) and that might make him stop.  So I struggle on (!) with my toast each morning and have something breakfasty at lunchtime whenever I can.  

Favourite choices for my lunch-breakfast include almond granola with coconut Greek-style yogurt, or thick and creamy full-fat French yogurts (they come in proper little glass or ceramic pots... adore them). Such fun, though, whizzing up a load of stuff in the blender and quite therapeutic if you're having a bad day.

My crochet progress can only be described as manic at the moment.  I'm still working on my scarf (pattern and moral support provided by the lovely Emily at Unravelled).  I have decided to make it as long as I can so that it winds round my neck several times.  I've found a second wind - am totally motivated to finish it.  I will be doing a 'taa-daaa!' very soon indeed - making it my mission to do the BIG REVEAL at the weekend.  Bet you can't wait... (ha!)

I noticed earlier that our favourite bird Cuckoo has given me an award.  Am ridiculously pleased - yayer! So I'll pop on over to her pad, pick it up and be back here with my acceptance 'speech' over the weekend when my life has slowed down.

Must dash - I am on my laptop in bed and the husband has just put my silk sleep mask on.  I think he's trying to make a point.  Not sure that's a good sign for a newly married couple - ha! 



Sunday, 10 July 2011

Favourite shoes and a culinary disaster

Another busy week and jam-packed weekend.  I can't believe how quickly the summer is whizzing by.  I am loving this feeling of being smack bang in the middle of summer, even though it has rained a bit this week.  I am spending as much time as possible outside;  breakfast and tea breaks are spent in the garden and the dog's walks have become longer.

The cleaners have been for the first time this week.  Whilst it was a bit odd to sit and type as they dashed around with hoovers and stood on windowsills (I kept feeling as though I ought to help), it has been so nice to sit down in the evenings and know that there is nothing for us to do.  Well, OK, the ironing pile in the spare room may have reached mountainous proportions but no-one irons stuff these days, right?

So we had J this weekend and it's been kind of fun.  We had vouchers for Pizza Express on Friday night (50% off all main meals - hurrah for having a husband with a voucher fetish) - have you tried the melanzane parmigiana?  OMG it's delish.  That and a glass of pink wine started my weekend off very nicely.  On Saturday we chilled out at home.  I made a lasagna from Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food cookbook.  It took me three [effing] hours to make from start to finish.  I so badly wish I'd taken photos of it because it looked beautiful all golden and bubbly in its big pan, with the big sliced tomatoes and freshly picked basil leaves.  Served up on the plate, though, it could quite easily have passed for a plate of vomit.  It was ridiculously watery (probably because I got over-excited with the food mixer and accidentally pureed the celery and onion that was only meant to be finely chopped).  The cheesy sauce mixed in with the tomato sauce giving the whole thing a kind of pale pink hue and the cubed carrots just added to the overall 'vom' effect.  We still ate it, it tasted quite good, but we all seemed to take it in turns snorting with laughter as we ate.  Good job I'm not sensitive about my inability to cook.

Happily we went out for lunch today and put away huge piles of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.  I took the opportunity to wear a favourite pair of heels and thought I'd show you:

I don't know what those two little lines on my right leg are... do you see them?  Just on the front of my ankle?  I hope they aren't veins.  Do you get varicose veins on the front of your ankles?  I don't notice the front of my ankles generally because I don't pay attention to them but now I'm obsessing slightly (I'm really far too vain (vein, ha!) to take such close up photos of myself, I should know this)... anyway... you can't see the veins (or whatever they are) in this pic:

Love the platform.  Love the heel.  Love the snakeskin effect leather. ( I like a snake effect shoe.  I have these, a pair of court shoes which I shared here, a pair of flat strappy sandals and a pair of flat pointy ballet pumps.)  Also love that they strap firmly onto my feet and feel sturdy-ish (I am useless at walking in heels so not sure why I own so many pairs).

I wore them with a khaki linen jumpsuit that I picked up in Next a little while ago:

I am not sure how I feel about jumpsuits.  I know that they are a bit 80s but I was too young to wear them then, favouring Snoopy sloppy joe sweaters and bleached denim instead.  I like that it's an easy decision of what to wear in the morning and the elasticated waist makes it a good choice for a slap-up lunch date.  But I did feel kind of 'LOOK AT ME!' and I certainly don't like having to strip right off just to go for a wee.  Still, it was cool and comfortable and I like to give these things a whirl. Not sure I'll wear it again.

Off now to catch up on some blog reading before bed.  Have a happy week my lovely blog chums.



Sunday, 3 July 2011

Restoring the spirits

The husband and I have had the weekend to ourselves for the first time in weeks.  We have barely spoken to each other, it has been bliss!  We've spent the whole weekend pottering around the house and sitting in the garden.  It has been very grown-up and civilised (apart from the fact that we may have had slightly more wine than is sensible in the midday sun...).

Our swing seat.: love.
All of our meals have been eaten out on the patio and we brought the radio out to listen to the tennis this afternoon whilst eating garlicky/lemony roast chicken with roast potatoes and salad, all washed down with cold white wine.  Then we had a little nap (yes, a nap!) before walking the dog.  The temperature has dropped a little now and it has been very dark outside for a while - I hope it rains.  In the summer I love to sit in our conservatory with the door open so that I can watch, listen to and smell the rain.  It's so refreshing and calming.  We went to the Maldives for our honeymoon last year and it was the start of the rainy season.  The weather, of course, was beautiful every day but there was a 30 minute shower [downpour] at around 5pm each day.  We had a water bungalow (a hut on stilts in the sea) with doors that opened right up onto our decking.  Every evening before supper, after a boiling hot day in the sun, we would sit coolly and quietly in our little air-conditioned hut with a G&T and watch the rain pelt into that turquoise sea.  It was breathtaking, romantic too, and the memory will stay with me forever. 


I've been doing a bit of tidying and bit of primping.  The living room especially is looking neat and clean:

It hardly ever looks this straight.  There is usually a smelly boy (husband, J or both) lolling on the sofa.  Cushions are thrown on the floor, feet are propped up on the footstool and drinks, crisp packets and magazines are dumped on every available surface.  I love that it's such a welcoming room and that we live in it properly but I do like to see it looking tidy so that I can waft around feeling like a domestic goddess.  

I am in no way a domestic goddess and this has been proven this week by the husband finally agreeing that we can have a cleaner.  I am beyond thrilled but there is a small part of me that feels a bit of a failure too.  We don't have children (apart from J staying once a fortnight) so I feel that I should have plenty of time to clean the house.  Loads of people manage it, after all.  The thing is, we both work full time, often finishing late, and after having walked the dog, eaten supper and cleared up in the evening there's not much time for anything else.  I want to spend my evenings at yoga classes, swimming, having saunas, painting my nails and crocheting, not cleaning!  I'd even, very occasionally, like to get to bed before 10pm.  Now that A has agreed for us to have a cleaner, I'm going to try very hard to use my spare time more effectively.  I've already booked two yoga classes this week and I might even go swimming on Tuesday.  Get me.  


I saw my sister, Sarah, on Friday night - we went to an old friend's wedding reception.  She wasn't going to come but I text-bullied her into it and was so glad I did, we had a fab time!  She hasn't been herself for a while now (she has, amongst other things, suffered from post-natal depression) but she is on the mend and on Friday night she was dazzling!  She had a sparkle again that she hasn't had for a long time - she was chatty, sociable and fun.  I think the world of my sis and I was getting quite worried about her.  We have always been great friends (apart from when we were very small and fought over toys) and spent loads of time together in our drinking/clubbing days.  Friday night was just like old times. I'm so happy that she's back to her old self.  

I found this card the other day when I was sorting through some old papers.  Sis made it for me when she was about 8 or 9 (I would have been 12/13).

Those are little pop-up pigs in the middle there, I used to collect pig paraphernalia.  Isn't it sweet!  Minimalist, yes, but lovely and one of my treasures. 

I am going to have a long shower now and settle down to an episode of Desperate Housewives before bed.  Oh and there's a bowl of strawberries and cream with my name on.