Thursday, 31 January 2013

Miscellaneous catchup....

So many little things to mention...

* O had been asking for a 'just him' sleepover for a while and we did that Monday night. He had asked specifically to be in the middle of our bed. He was brilliant, good as gold (as the saying goes) and it was lovely waking up with my precious little boy in my bed even if I did have to get up with him at 6am! When we got up, with a very serious face, he asked "Grandma, who is that sleeping in your bed?" I said "it's Granddad, didn't it look like him?" "No" he said "he should have his glasses on!".

* FriendK popped by for a flying visit on Wednesday. We used to do such a lot together when our children were school age but lifestyle changes meant we went off in totally different directions and see each other rarely now, however, that may change as she is working towards retirement later this year so will be around a bit more and we should be able to arrange to do things together.

* Daughter owned a half of a mini kiln that she bought with a friend and stored and used it at the friend's house as she has a very suitable outbuilding for messy clay work. Well the routines for both daughter and her friend changed making craft time together difficult to fit in. Daughter had almost no use of it for the last three years and her friend has gone to classes and done so much clay work with her children that they are more than ready to upgrade to a bigger kiln. So the sensible thing was for daughter to buy out her friend but of course she has no space for it.........guess what is now set up in our shed ;-)

* Party last Saturday night for a friend of Hubby's who has reached 60. They are friends from bowling so our table quickly grew with other bowling friends pulling up chairs. We gave FriendB a lift there and back. It was a very cold night and there was still a lot of snow on the ground but driving home was when the rain started and it was heavy most of the night so all our snow was washed away by morning.

* Only one night out for me this week and that was to our usual pub in Felixstowe where 7 of us had dinner at our usual round table. Also had FriendN contacting me this week to arrange meeting for lunch, we haven't met up for over a year so definitely overdue and as he has recently retired he's keen to catchup.

* Seems all of a sudden O has outgrown all his knitwear so Daughter asked if I wanted a bit of knitting to do. Found this unisex pattern on Ravelry and O told me his favourite colour is "all of them" :-)  So popped into town this morning and bought a multicoloured chunky wool and some 6.5mm circular needles. I always prefer to support the small independent shop, which is where I bought the wool, needles and buttons but they didn't have the double-pointed size I needed so we drove to our only other shop that sells wool and more (it's a Franklin's, is that part if a chain?) but they didn't have the size needed either so came home and ordered them online. Had to pay post and packing which has made them seem expensive but actually is cheaper compared to the fuel and parking costs of going into town again.

* I've been trying to arrange a birthday meal out for Hubby but our children are never in the same place at the same time! So we need to have an evening meal with our son and his fiancée the Saturday before and another celebration as lunch with our daughter and children on his actual birthday, so far he doesn't know about either. I still haven't got a clue what to get him and he hasn't come up with any suggestions either. Only got till valentine's day so not long arrrggghhhh

Monday, 28 January 2013

Real life baking...

I loved watching the Great British Bake Off and have enjoyed even more the Comic Relief version that has just been on. I think it is far more inspiring for me, the average home cook, to watch someone who is not really into baking but is willing to give it a go, sometimes with accidents of burning or falling apart pastry cases or similar but still managing to end up with tasty edible cookies and cakes.

Of course in real life there are accidents and mistakes so watching professionals or very talented and well practiced amateurs in a masterchef type competition often puts me off a bit, as if managing to reach their standard would be beyond me so better not to try. Also there is the issue of what I cook I eat and unnecessary calories 'should not' be my regular friend.

However, I am baking almost daily just now, there were raisin rockbun/cookies on Thursday, spicy apple rockbun/cookies on Friday (I say cookies as they taste like rock buns but spread a bit too much in the oven so looked like cookies), then it was a huge chocolate cake on Sunday mmmm. The main excuse for  all this is the kitchen revamp is getting nearer and I'll be without a proper kitchen for I don’t know how long, plus I'm moving over from gas to electric so even when it is ready to use I'll need playing with a convection oven and induction hob time before throwing ingredients together becomes just instinct again.

I so hate change and we still have lots of choosing, deciding, and designing tweeks to do but I've managed with a broken oven for far too long (everything has to cook on gas mark 9) and my DIY hubby can't just replace the cooker :-)
Hey we could end up really healthy with salads and fresh fruit so that's a very big bonus.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Mmmm stew.....

I've my huge 15 pint saucepan on the hob with beef stew that has bubbled there most of the day and dumplings on top too. I've had to share some of it with Daughter and R who needed to eat early then rush off to R's dance lesson. I'd fed E and O even earlier but E's veggy so she didn't get any stew! Hubby and I will have ours a little later but it smells so yummy that I'm even taking up a bit of time sitting here writing about it mmmmmmm.

Ingredients plus other groceries were here thanks to Ocado :-)
We have done online shopping a few times with Sainsbury, however Hubby has always done the shopping because he enjoys it and since our local Asda was built he loves taking a walk there to buy and get fresh air and exercise. So the shopping list only grows long with less important needs or heavy to carry items.

Sainsbury online has been fine, however this time Hubby had been emailed a code for £20 off our first Ocado order so yes please and thank you very much!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Almost too late....

I've always had problems achieving foot comfort (know I'm not alone there) and boots especially cause problems so taking a chance and ordering off ebay I checked that they could be returned hassle free if they didn't fit.

They arrived, waterproof, two zips for ease of on and off-ness, thick warm fleece lining, good grippy soles, AND THEY FIT :o) !!!

Of course the snow is rapidly melting away now!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Soup success...

So many days of snow now and so many days of the children playing out and really appreciating a hot lunch that my freezer is now lacking in pizzas, quiches and sausage rolls!

Today Daughter was meeting friends at my local park and parked here and walked down with E and O in the sledge. Before they set off they spent a little while getting their clothing right for an arctic expedition, extra socks on socks, salopettes over trousers, doubled up gloves and hats and coats over tshirts and jumpers layers, O needed help getting out of the door hahaha. R stayed in the warm with us. Hubby, of course, had already done another morning of drive and road snow clearing and gritting.

Our winter sports team were obviously having a great time as they were gone for more than two hours. So hot lunch.....I threw into a saucepan a can of chopped tomatoes and about a third of a bag of frozen chopped onion (my saviour from painful streaming eyes) four cans of cold water, two handfuls of pearl barley (all that was left) and three vegetable stock cubes and boiled then simmered for an hour, it was effortless, very tasty, everyone enjoyed it and I actually made just the right quantity! I amazed myself hahaha

Friday, 18 January 2013

Lone Ranger...

Up this morning about 8am and Hubby was already up and outside as we'd had a bit more snow overnight. By 8:30am he had shovelled, cleared and gritted our road from our drive (which is the very top of our Close and top of the hill) all the way down to the junction where we join the through road that's a bus route. He told me that three other neighbours had done some of the clearing with him which is great.

And tonight he walked down the Close before he went to bed, just to check if it needed any more shovelling or gritting. What a treasure eh?

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Local weather report....

Very local in fact as I haven't left the house hahaha
This was yesterday afternoon

As you can see not too much on the ground at this point. What is there was from the snow showers on Monday and the children came over as it had all but gone out of their garden so managed to play with what was left here and after the throwing and screaming and arguing subsided together they made some little snow creatures.

A snuggle with wheat bags and water bottle and some computer time for them to get a good warm through then late lunch and they went home.

Thankfully just in time for this bad weather we now have a council provided grit bin in the close and Hubby went out around 10pm last night to spread some grit on our road. We live in a small close but it's uphill and has two bends so icy roads can be quite hazardous. 

Now I've the waiting game to see how the weather is during today so I can decide if there might be a problem going out tonight.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Stupid statuses......

The first thing I have to say is that actually I really like Facebook and the other popular social networks, but by now you've guessed that the rest of this post is a bit of a rant about how some people use them, sorry I'm sure you've heard this so many times before but......

The most recent status to make me cringe started with "Now let's see how many actually read my posts....." then went on to request "let's start a friendship ring...." telling each reader to add their name in the comments and copy and paste the status to their own, and ended with the threat "I'll be watching....."!!!! My comment to this was "Surely fb is already a friendship ring, so this is a daft request!"

Also can't stand the "I love my mother/father/brother/sister/daughter/son/dog/cat/axalotle  and if you love yours too then copy and paste..." If I do then I'm sad too and if I don't then will the people I care about present and past really believe I don't?

Hey ho whinge over. There are other statuses that are a bit daft but I'm a grown up with freedom of choice to read or ignore or join in, so enough said......unless you want to add something?

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Are you coming out to play?.....

A few of my neighbours are regular theatre goers so the conversation often comes up during coffee morning and they know that I haven't been myself for a very long time as it's really not Hubby's thing. Yesterday Trish knocked and armed with the Colchester Mercury brochure and a list said "These are the ones we have booked and there are three of us so room in the car for one more. I've also asked them to reserve a seat beside ours for each one so if you want to come to any or all of them with us just ring up and pay".

How lovely and thoughtful :-)

There were six plays on the list between mid March and end of October and four of them are Mondays which even that far ahead I could safely commit myself to. So I have theatre dates to look forward to <<big grin>>

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Completed the year....

Coffee mornings here for our neighbours started on the first Monday in February and every month since, so yesterday's made it a full year. 8 adults and 2 children with a granny on childcare duties. Others had already given their apologies as they were suffering with this grotty winter virus. Erica and Ann still brought biscuits even though I keep saying we have a stockpile and Erica brought a large jar of coffee too. I really appreciate that.

While they were here someone started discussing my jug collection. Not sure I've ever mentioned my collection here before, so some photos.....

Kitchen windowsill

Dinning room

Under the stairs

Even in the bathroom


Sunday, 6 January 2013

Another post about reluctant shopping.....

This time it was E that needed to just get out from being stuck in unwell for too many days. She is still a bit bunged up and still coughing but definitely on the mend so fresh air was a good thing especially as it's still so mild.

Now anyone that knows me knows my dislike of shopping, the dragging from shop to shop looking for what you might like but not really need, the changing rooms, the queues at the tills and making the decisions to buy this or that or both is no fun for my addled head and aching back! However that's what E really wanted to do. (see how I said 'however' to try and sound a bit positive and didn't use the negative 'but').

Anyone who knows E knows what a great shopper she usually is. She is the sort of shopper that has an idea of what she wants to buy and likes to check out all the shops to get the best for her money but never dithers she either likes it or doesn't.......but not this time, guess it was her head still foggy with her cold. So we dragged from shop to shop umming and arring and leaving empty handed. Poor girl she so wanted to spend her money but came home with just one little bag holding her solar powered dancing bear.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Not the full Range....

R who was now totally fed up of living with a sick family who could do little with her came here. Hubby went and got her. She had money to spend so after lunch we went shopping. R is not really a shopper so it wasn't long spent in Next and she did find two pairs of trousers in the sale, tried them on and bought both. I have to say I was not impressed with the amount of stock actually on sale, just a couple of rails with all the children's sizes mixed together. Also this Next is a very new store and the changing rooms were piled with stock boxes and the lighting was really dim!

R has also decided she fancies trying her hand at macrame. She loves house plants and wants their bathroom to be more of a jungle. Daughter suggested they have a collection of pots in some sort of hanging from the ceiling arrangement as they have very little shelf space. I already have some basic macrame equipment but it's not here, it's loaned to a friend and I can get it all back next week. Meanwhile R wanted to go to the Range to buy the needed bits for herself, in fact very little is needed as any string/wool/twine/thread can be used and really the only important equipment is a solid board that is soft enough for pins to go in. We searched the arts and crafts section thoroughly and found nothing so asked a member of staff who had never heard of macrame.......she said "we don't have that in yet, we are always so slow at getting new stuff in, maybe try again in a few weeks" I smiled and told her it wasn't a new craft it became very popular in the UK in the 1960's. She didn't know what to say as I guess she wasn't born till the 1990's :-)

At home I managed to find my bobbin lace board and a few old books and gathered together string, tape measure and scissors but by this time R was deeply engrossed in Sponge Bob cartoons. I'll blog if she ever gets this craft underway but as a child who prefers instant gratification we could be waiting a while.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Boxed and lofted.....

All the festivities are done now and the tree and decorations are all boxed and stored safely till December comes around again. The cards are ready to be recycled except for those that have been specially made for us and those with notes in, I keep those along with my lists of what I bought for who and the who bought me what list. I have read again letters from the few friends that send the 'round robin' type annual report and updated my address book with any births, marriages, divorces and deaths. I love hearing their news and keeping a mental picture of their lives, without these updates I would probably think of their adult children as perpetual toddlers if that was the last time we actually met! I hope they enjoy the letter I send.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Playing our tune....

Daughter's birthday followed the same pattern it always does and I love it and really look forward to it and I believe she does too.

We arrange for the children to be entertained by granddad or M or both and Daughter and I have the day together just us, shopping in the sales for whatever she chooses and sitting chatting over lunch and afternoon tea. When we get home all together it's usually a takeaway dinner.

This year Daughter, M and all three children were unwell with coughs and streaming noses of varying degrees. O stayed with M at their house and the girls came to be with granddad and Daughter and I went to town on a grey very drizzly day.

Thankfully Daughter wasn't coughing too much and we had quite a successful shop, lovely lunch and tea break using up the whole 5 hours we put on the car park ticket.

Poorly people meant nobody seemed to have the enthusiasm for takeaway so I threw stuff in the oven and they all managed to nibble their way through it while slouched on the sofas in front of the tv. This was of course followed by birthday cake (that O and M bought) with candles and singing and then they all went home for an early night.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Very short walk....

Actually made it out of the house for a while yesterday. I really do like being curled up in the warm reading, knitting or doing whatever inside when outside is cold and wet and days like yesterday when the sun is shining brightly makes it all the prettier to look out at but doesn't always make me feel I have to get out.........but thankfully Daughter and O had other ideas. Daughter was desperate to get some fresh air and nobody else in her house apart from O wanted to join them so she rang us and after our lunch out we went.

Unfortunately by this time the sun had lost any of its warmth and O was too tired to walk far so a short walk through some small local wooded areas at the pace of a tired three year old was just enough to blow some cobwebs away and make a healthy start to the new year. It was lovely and glad I went.

Also I cleared the washing box (three loads) and cleaned out a now nearly empty fridge.
And not because of today's activities but guess it was more a build up over the festivities I actually went to bed at 10pm which for this nocturnal bird is very rare indeed :-)

Tuesday, 1 January 2013



I don't feel the need to reflect on the year just gone, I've blogged anything of note, I've learned from various events but most importantly I've created and stored lots of memories and I hope I've added to the memories of others.

We celebrated the turn of year with neighbours and friends P&A and a Chinese takeaway yummy. Midnight and our street had lots of people outside shouting greetings above the bang and whizz of lots of fireworks. A really lovely evening.

The year ahead for me must always hold hopes and dreams and a promise that I will always do my best at whatever I choose to do. I've holidays to research and look forward to as Brother-in-law A wants us to go to Venice with him and SisterS and her hubbyK want us to holiday with them again in August. As for the rest I would like to eat a bit less and move a bit more so maybe I'd comfortably enjoy a bit more of whatever we do but no special goals, just hoping to have fun.

Say hi when you pass through and let me know how 2013 shapes up for you.