Monday, 20 December 2010

Happy Birthday Sally

Sally's birthday was on the 12th (I had convinced myself that it was the 17th for some reason, but heyho), so I knew her pressie would be a wee bit late and of course because it was sent during the snow it meant that it took even longer, even with it being recorded delivery.

Anyway Sally has received it and loves it, so I'm showing it off. I started making the necklace during the Summer holidays, but with the arthritis in my thumbs so bad I knew I couldn't finish it and asked a friend to complete it for me. I also made the little hanging bag and bought the little tin because it just screamed Sally to me.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Winter Wonderland

Well snow started early this year for the UK and of course this Country being as backward as it is was totally unprepared for it even though they'd been warned for a couple of weeks. Everything, including airports, has ground to a halt. I can't see where the pavement and road separate from each other or my front garden.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Happy Halloween

I hope everyone has a wonderful time trick or treating tonight and that the weather in the UK is dry.

As for me, I'm enjoying sunning myself on holiday and Marion will trick or treat on her Granny & Grandad's room later on this evening.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Feeling Brighter

Yes I'm not so fed up today. The weekend I really felt miserable and that just made me feel tired, plus the fact that my darling little daughter decided that being as destructive as possible was the way to go. I fell up the stairs at one point because of all the junk she'd put there and then wondered why I yelled at her when asking nicely several times got me nowhere.

I then plonked myself in the chair, put the television on and watched all the wonderful films that were on. Free Willy, Calamity Jane (my all time favourite film), Pearl Harbour, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Free Willy 3 - seems ITV 3 forgot that there was a number 2 in between. So it was a wonderful selection over both days and I certainly didn't budge apart from to cook meals.

Yesterday I went in to do the Mock Assessment for the User Fundamentals, which only took me about 15 minutes to do. The mock got checked through to make sure I'd done it all ok and it was such a long winded process. The paper said to make ...2 news folders, which I did and then screen print showing those two folders and then print it. I did that. Then it said to copy some files into these new files and save, which I did. When it came to checking it, she told me that she wanted a screen print of the files in the new folders - but it never said that because at the time of the screen print there was nothing in those folders.

I decided when it came to doing the Assessment I would just do it the way she wanted it doing, even if it did cost me marks. I was also a bit peeved because they'd managed to lose my spreadsheets assessment from last week and I was half expecting to go in today and have to do it over again. Thankfully that wasn't the case, they found it and marked both papers yesterday.

That means that the 3 modules I did, the last one being a required element, I passed, so I will have a City & Guilds Certificate winging its way to me soon :)

Today I went onto Level 1 Wordprocessing, database and desktop publishing. I decided not to do more on spreadsheets, it's not really something I can see myself doing in the future and desktop publishing sounds more up my street. I found out after that I could have chosen web design or a couple of others, but they weren't given to me as an option to start with.

As you can see in the photo that my Christmas Cactus are starting to bud and bloom. This one is usually the last one to come out in November time, but I found it blooming away this morning when I went to open the curtains in the dining room.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Depressing Week

Well so far it has been a very stressful and depressing week. On Monday I went to my WP/IT course and did the spreadsheet test and then worked my way through the next module called User Fundamentals, which is basically all about health and safety using a pc and copying/pasting and moving files and folders and yes there is a mock test and then a real test at the end of that too. It's the mock test for me tomorrow.

When I got back in on Monday just after lunchtime I decided to phone the CSA to find out why they had so far ignored my letters and exactly what their intentions are to get the child maintenance payments. Hmm I got nowhere basically and as far as I'm concerned they are more than happy for him to get away with it scot free. When I asked why they hadn't even had the decency to reply to my letter from the beginning of September, all I got was "well yes I see that we should have replied, but we have nothing to go on". No that's about right because you're doing nothing to chase him, I'm doing all the chasing and I feel a bit like a cat who is chasing its tail.

So I had a good cry after I put the phone down. I'm just so frustrated by it all.

It has put me off stitching or anything really, I have no enthusiasm for anything anymore :( Plus I've managed to lose 2 pairs of scissors, they're nowhere in the house, I've ransacked it and I can only think that I threw them out by accident. I don't have any spare cash lying around to purchase a new pair and I just can't be doing with the big seamstress pair to snip my threads.

I think I'm stuck in a BAH HUMBUG rut.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Sunday Recipes

Fig & Frangipane Tart

375g pack ready rolled short crust pastry
100g (3 1/2oz) butter
100g (3 1/2oz) caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
100g (3 1/2oz) ground almonds
8 fresh figs, halved
200g (7oz) raspberries
3tbsp icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C (for fan assisted) gas 7.
Unroll the pastry onto a floured work surface and roll a little thinner. Line a 33cm x 12cm (13in x 4 1/2 in) rectangular fluted loose bottom flan tin with the pastry, then place baking parchment on top. Fill this with baking beans and bake 'blind' for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and bake in the oven for a further 5 minutes, then remove from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 200C/180C/gas 6.

In a bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, then the ground almonds and combine until you have a soft paste. Spoon the paste into the pastry case and place the figs on top, then bake for 20-25 minutes until the paste is set and golden and the pastry crisp.

Place the raspberries in a sieve over a pan and push them through the sieve with a spoon, then stir in the sugar. Place the pan on the hob and heat for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is a jam consistency. Drizzle the sauce over the tart and serve.

Instead of figs, you can spread the pastry case with raspberry jam and then add the frangipane topping, back and drizzle with icing. You could use apricots or pears instead of figs.

Each Sunday I am going to put a recipe or two on my blog to share with you all. This one has been taken from The Mail on Saturday Weekend Magazine. I hope you will enjoy them and perhaps even make them and I would love to see your finishes on your blogs.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Gift From Sally

It was my birthday yesterday and Sally sent me this wonderful needlecase. Isn't it beautiful? I LOVE IT. All that work that went into it, the smaller they are the more work that goes into them.

Sally has some much nicer photos on her blog. I got in too late last night to get a decent photo and today is a really miserable, rainy day.

When I got back in this afternoon there was another card waiting for me from my Cousin. I will get him back next year.

The outside:

The inside:

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Happy Birthday to ME

Yes it's my Birthday today and it has been an interesting one. Firstly I hardly got any sleep as my darling little daughter decided to come into my bed at around 2am and then for the rest of the night ground her teeth, even managing to argue the odds with me when I asked her to stop it for the umpteenth time.

When we got up all she said was 'morning Mummy' and then tried to go back to sleep. Five minutes later I heard a gasp and 'Happy Birthday Mummy, I've got something for you' and then ran downstairs and back up with a card and out popped a £5 note (Mum had sent it up for her to put in my card as they hadn't had time in the holidays to buy me a present). Mum phoned to wish me a happy birthday and then we were heading out to school armed with her goodies for the Harvest Show.

These are her cakes. The only thing I did to help her was to put them in and take them out the oven and she did everything else herself. We'd bought a cheat kit for her to make cakes for my birthday and she took the decorations from that to put on her cakes for the show. Unfortunately she didn't get anything for them or any of the other items she put in and she's said that from now on she's going to stick to the horticultural shows where she's got more chance of winning a prize for her efforts.

I bought the flowers for myself as a treat.

On Facebook I joined a Birthday Skein Swap and one of the cards that I opened had this frog on it. Let's hope it's the only frog that appears in this stitching household!!!

These are all the wonderful skeins that I received and not one of them is a duplicate :)

I also received the most wonderful gift from Sally, but I didn't get a great picture of it, so I will blog tomorrow about it (and rightfully it deserves its own entry because it is stunning).

Unfortunately my darling little girl is poorly with a full blown cold :( I hope she gets over it quickly, it's never nice to have a cold, but for a child it is even worse.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Good News, Bad News

I've been having a few problems with my boiler in that the stupid thing doesn't want to work all the time and it's something I can ill afford with the winter weather that will soon be upon us, so I called British Gas and took out their boiler service insurance. At just a little extra charge I also included the cover of the fire service and they included the radiators, electricity, sinks, drains and outside drains.

The boiler, which has given me many a headache, passed without a problem and the fire passed too. Great I'm covered and if anything goes wrong or I have to hit that reset button, I can call them anytime to come and fix it. They've introduced a new thing that comes in effect on Friday that if you call by 1pm they will come out the same the day - great news for the elderly.

Then came the bad news, there's a gas leak in the meter cupboard outside, so the gas has been switched off and I'm patiently waiting for Transco to come and fix it. They have to be here within 4 hours and it's already been 2, I'm just hoping that if they're still here at 3pm that I don't have to stick around as I have to collect Marion from school.

Still it could have cost me money and apart from the monthly direct debits, I've not had to fork out for anything, except I just need to purchase a Carbon Monoxide Detector for peace of mind.

I haven't got anywhere stitching wise, not even a little piece that is no bigger than 45 X 45 stitches. Maybe I should start next year's Halloween stuff now and I may be part way there when it comes round again!!!

Last night Marion told me that she's not got me anything for my Birthday, unlike last year, so I should just take all her pocket money so I can have something. I told her not to be daft and that she can buy me a present when we're on holiday, I can wait that long, it's just over 3 weeks to go now. Silly thing, most of my birthdays nowadays are spent racing around doing things for her. Next year better all be about me though, that's the big 4-0. I'm not bothered about a party or anything like that, just maybe a nice meal somewhere and that will satisfy me.

Off to pick up a needle and thread and do a little stitching while I wait for Transco to turn up.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

My Autumn Wall

I haven't any WIP's or finishes to show so I thought, with Autumn officially starting tomorrow, I would put up my Autumnal and halloweeny stitching. There are a couple missing, but I think they might be in the loft with the halloween stuff.

We won't be around for halloween this year, so no decorating like we normally do, but I do still have to carve a pumpkin for the School Autumn Show next Thursday (which happens to be my birthday). Unfortunately I haven't seen any pumpkins in the shops this year and normally you're falling over the big displays of them by now. Fingers crossed we have one in time for the show. If not, it will be a butternut squash instead.

It was swimming again today, which went better than last week, but the TA for the other group still had no clue. The driver told her Council regulations mean that kids can't sit next to the emergency exit door, she hadn't a clue where it was and caused chaos apparently (it's at the back of the bus on the right hand side as you face the front. All she needed to do was put an adult by that door and everything would have been sorted, but no it wasn't that simple) and of course because I'm obviously the sensible one who knows what they're doing he moaned at me.

A couple of weeks ago in Lincoln a packed bus/coach full of teenage kids ended up in a serious accident with 2 of them still in critical condition in hospital. One of those teenage kids had grabbed the emergency exit handle and the door opened taking that teenager and another out onto the motorway and causing the bus/coach to crash. That bus driver has now had his licence revoked and is being prosecuted for something that wasn't even his fault.

Wednesday is always a hectic day. It's Brownies tonight and it's my turn to take and collect the girls, not that it bothers me. So as it's one of those out, in, out, in 4 times days I think I will be doing a small autumn piece and hopefully I will get it completed before I go to bed.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Lookie, Lookie

I came home to this wonderful little parcel on my doormat and inside JCS Ornament Preview issue and the JCS Ornament Issue. There are a few in the preview issue that I definitely want to stitch, especially the Brittercup design. I've not really looked at the ornament issue yet, but there were a couple I fancied and hope that I get to stitch this year.

I also ordered 3 GAST in avocado, pumpkin pie and tomato, which are for a Just Nan humbug.

I've been at my word processing course this morning, I did the mock test and did well enough to do the actual test, but something happened at the end where they give you an exam number and so I couldn't do it today. Never mind, I can do it another day.

Marion has been to her first football practise after school and the team already have 3 matches booked with more pending. So if a wife/girlfriend is a football widow, what do you call the Mum?

No big plans for the weekend, just tidying up the mess the child created, washing and ironing and then hopefully lots of stitching.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Congratulations Marion

I've just had a phone call from Mum telling me that Dartford Library called this afternoon to congratulate Marion on achieving level 3 in the Space Hop Summer reading programme, she was one of just handful to have read all 6 books and she's won a £5 book token.

Very proud of her :)

I've not been stitching much, not at all in fact, but Becky is an extremely talented lady and she is organising The Great Pumpkin Challenge. Sally has just mentioned in her blog that she has joined it too. I read it on Becky's blog yesterday when I was admiring all her wonderful stitching and I thought about taking part too, it might get me motivated and get my act together to actually produce some stitching.

I did dig out an Autumnal chart last night which has a pumpkin on it that I had kitted up 2 years ago, so I might just get started on it tonight while I'm waiting on some beads turning up to finish off the winter humbug.

It's getting cold here now, blustery and wintery and I've just heard that we're possibly to expect frost over the next few days. So it looks like I'll be out there taking the apples off the trees, picking any veg that's still out there and bringing in the gerbera plants into the kitchen until Mum brings up the fleece to wrap around them over the winter. Hope it's not too wet to do that tomorrow.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


Can anyone tell me how I add a couple of tabs at the top of my blog please? Also how I get myself another separate blog - it won't seem to work whatever I'm doing.

Thank you to Sally for helping. Unfortunately it will only let me have 1 tab, which is the existing page, so I've deleted it as I wanted a couple of them.

It doesn't seem to want to let me do another blog either, so I've given up on that idea.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Pear and Blackberry Pie

I saw this recipe in the Saturday paper the other day, so decided to write it up on my blog. I have a few more to write up, so you can enjoy some British recipes :)

8 firm, ripe pears
Juice of 1 lemon
100g (3 1/2 oz) caster sugar (very fine sugar, but not the powdered kind for those of you abroad) plus 1 tbsp
2 tsp ground cinnamon
200g (7 oz) blackberries
375g readymade shortcrust pasty
1 egg white

Preheat the oven to 90 C/170C fan/gas 5. Peel, core and quarter the pears. Place them in a bowl and toss in the lemon juice to prevent the fruit from browning. Sprinkle the caster sugar and the ground cinnamon on top.

Pile the pears with the blackberries into a large 1.5 ltr (2 3/4 pint) pie dish and pour over any lemon juice left in the bowl.

Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface until large enough to drape over the pie dish. Trim a 1cm (1/2 inch) strip of pastry and press onto the rim of the dish. Brush with water and then drape the pastry over the top. Crimp the edge of the pastry and cut a cross in the top. Beat the egg white with a fork and brush over the top. Sprinkle the top with the last 1tbsp. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until golden brown.

Cooking apples such as Bramley's make a great alternative to pears.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Good Luck Wishes Needed Please

Please wish Marion good luck for today. She's got to go into hospital and have a couple of teeth extracted under general anaesthetic and she's a little bit scared and nervous.

I can honestly say that I'm a little scared and nervous too.

We will let you know how things go when we get back.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Winter Humbug

I haven't actually done must stitching since I started this piece, but this is how far I've got. Now I have the 2 pinks I needed, I can make a start to the over 1 hearts. I may even finish it soon.

Next week I intend on getting back into my blackwork Japanese Lady, Lisa stitches on her blackwork on a Monday, so I intend on doing mine as a stitch-along with her. Remember I had to order a new kit so I could carry on because I'd lost my chart and threads? Well I found it on Friday, on my desk (which is where I had thought it was, but couldn't find it) when I was clearing away some papers. So strange that it appeared, but never mind, I won't run out of thread!!

Monday, 30 August 2010

8 Today


Lots of love, hugs and kisses

Mum, Dad and I took her to Bakewell for the day and it couldn't have been nicer weather, especially for Bank Holiday Monday. We went into Byways Tea Rooms and we had breakfast and then we wandered around the market area, Marion buying herself some sweets with her birthday money and then she was itching to feed the ducks, so she went into the Co-Op with Mum to get a loaf and then we walked round to the ducks. The first lot didn't seem all that interested, so we went further up and as soon as they saw her, they started swimming over. She dropped a piece of bread on to the back of one of the geese and then told it to turn around and get it and it just did as it was told!!

This swan was just following us up and down the river, not eating anything, just happily swimming along.

Marion then asked me if she could take some photos with my camera, so I said yes. I must admit I nearly had a heart attack when she got close to the water with it, thinking it was going in for sure, but she just wanted to take a photo of the fish and I think she's taken a great photo.

She then waited patiently for this little duckling to swim close enough so she could take a photo.

We then had another wander around, Mum and I popped into Wye Needlecraft Shop to get a couple of DMC's I needed and I was going to get the 3 GAST that I wanted for the Owl humbug ornament, but they were in such a mess you had to look at each one individually and it took forever. There was no order to them, they just looked like a pile of threads had been thrown at the hooks. Not one of the colours I wanted was there anyway, so we left the shop having only bought 2 DMC threads. I'll need to place an order with Down Sunshine Lane (it'll be cheaper that way too).

We then headed back to the same Tea Rooms again and had some afternoon tea and the owner of the place gave her £3 for her birthday. He told her that he could have gone out and bought a pack of maltesers or something, but thought it would be nicer for her to get whatever she wanted instead.

After that we took a slow walk back to the car and came home. We were all exhausted.

This is her with her Birthday cake that she made and decorated with my Mum.

This is the cake, she wanted a fox, so she got a fox. She painted the rainbow herself and then designed on paper what she wanted where and Mum did the rest. It is certainly a yummy cake.

A good day was had by all, even if it did get spoiled a little by her ignorant father when he phoned in the afternoon. I didn't answer my phone all that quickly and when I did he wasn't at all amused that we were out (did he expect us to stay at home and do nothing?). Marion wasn't all that communicative when she spoke to him and then he had a go at me demanding I stop her calling him Mark. That's her choice and that's what I told him, so off he went into one of his sulks. He doesn't deserve to be called Dad, he never does anything for her, apart from upset and annoy her when he does show his face. He ignores her for months at a time and then he expects everything to just run along smoothly his way; well she's getting older and the meaning of her name is 'honest, decisive and knows her own mind' - this is certainly true of Marion, once she's made up her mind, she won't change it for anyone. He hates that!!!!!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Kiwi Fruit

These are two of my mini kiwi fruits on the bush. This year there are 80 of them. They were really tasty last year, so hopefully even better this year. For next year I must get some more canes or a wigwam for it to hang onto and maybe the fruits will be bigger.

When I went downstairs yesterday morning this scary looking postcard was on the mat and I just wondered who on earth would send such a postcard. Turns out that my 7 year old daughter sent it from Broadstairs when she was there last week with Mum and Dad. Typical of Marion really, strange little child!!!

I'm supposed to be cleaning and tidying the house and err, well because I've felt so crappy recently I haven't done anything apart from feel sorry for myself really and err well they come back on Friday. Oh dear, looks like I need to find a couple of big boxes and chuck everything in them, stick them in the loft and then slowly sort through everything when she goes back to school!!

It's her Birthday on Monday, yes Bank Holiday Monday and my little baby will be 8 years old. Not a birthday card has fallen onto the mat for her (I'm talking about from the paternal side of her family). I can't believe the time has flown by so quickly.

When I was in Mansfield yesterday getting a birthday card for her (because I've not seen a thing that takes my fancy to make a nice one) I saw lots and lots of Christmas Cards on sale in 4 of the card shops I went into. That time of year is here once more.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

WIP Update

Well when you read blogs from Sally or Barb and other crafters, you see lots of wip's photos and sometimes finishes too. Well because I have felt so crap this week, apart from a little on the gift I'm stitching, I've really only done a little more on the humbug.

I must admit I'm quite enjoying stitching this, I love the colours I've chosen for it and I can't wait to see what it looks like when it's all made up. Because I've enjoyed this one so much, I intend on purchasing the other 3 humbugs in the set.

Yesterday I did take a look at my kitted up Jeanette Douglas Northern Lights and thought I might make a start to it. I just couldn't seem to get my head around it, so I decided I'd leave it for another day when I'm feeling more like myself. I don't like feeling like this, it's depressing (I know how Sally feels). I'm really looking forward to our holiday in October, it can't come round soon enough now as far as I'm concerned.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Christmas Ornament Finish

I found this little design in an old issue of Cross Stitch Card Shop and decided to change a few bits and make it into an ornament. I used beads for the berries and used a variegated metallic thread, aswell as silver. I stitched the design twice and then made it into an ornament, attaching some red ribbon for hanging.

Here's what I got started on, on Saturday after a couple of hours trying to work out the Rhodes Heart in the centre. I very nearly gave up because it just didn't want to go right. Still this is how I left it after a couple of hours working on it.

On Sunday I did a little bit of stitching on something I'm going to give as a gift to someone who reads my blog, so no WIP's or finished photos until they've received it at a much later stage.

On Monday I woke up with a headache, took some tablets and then sat quietly willing it to just go away and leave me alone. No such luck. I had to return a parcel, so I went to the post office and by the time I got home (only out 15 minutes) I felt so sick and my head was pounding. I know that it's a hormonal thing, it's been happening for just over 2 years now, about a week before I'm due on.

I can handle a headache, I've been suffering with headaches and migraines since I was a little girl, but these just floor me. I'm feeling a lot better today, just absolutely exhausted. I went into Mansfield to pay a bill and I was only out for 1 1/2 hours and I felt completely drained when I got back. I haven't done any stitching since Sunday, I was going to do my blackwork Japanese Lady on Monday, Lisa does her blackwork on a Monday, so I thought we could encourage each other to make faster progress if we did a stitch-a-long. I wonder how she's doing on hers?

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Brings a Whole New Meaning

To trampolining. Here's Rascal, he was sound asleep in the middle of Marion's trampoline.

Unfortunately just as I was taking the photo there was a loud bang and he got a fright.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Joints and Pains and Old Age

OK so I'm only 38, 39 next month, but my thumbs are very sore indeed. Arthritis is most likely what it is and I can find out when I visit the doctor in four weeks time. First appointment they could give me and unless I want to fight and argue for an emergency appointment on a daily basis, it's going to have to be that long.

So I popped along to Holland & Barrett and found that the glocosomine tablets were less than half price. Yay, thank goodness because they're normally £21.99 and I got them for £9.99 for 120 tablets (I'm going back in on Monday to stock up and I can always give them to Mum if they don't work for me) and also some glucosomine gel, which I can rub on the affected area up to six times a day.

My thumb isn't as sore as it was this morning, after one application of the gel and the tablets will take around 4 weeks to really start feeling the benefits.

Last night I did do some stitching, a small design I found in a magazine and I've changed it slightly, adding some beads and I'm doing the same design again and going to make it into an ornament. I'm almost finished it tonight, but I'm tired now.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Another Little Finish

Another little finish. Yay. I wanted something Christmassy and I wanted something quick, so I looked at some of my JCS Ornament magazines and found a few things I fancied, but couldn't be bothered to find fabric for (being the lazy mare that I am!) and then came across an old copy of Cross Stitch Card Shop (err off the top of my head I think that was it) and the freebie gift was still attached to it, so I thought that would be perfect.

This Mickey Mouse is that freebie. I just need to iron it and then finish it off as a card.

I was browsing ebay and came across a seller that has some lovely fabrics at very reasonable prices. These are the two I bought. I was thinking Halloween items with the orange one and Christmas with the stripe one.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

First of Many

Marion and I are turning into a younger version of Tom and Barbara Good from The Good Life (oh boy she loves that one) and we're growing lots of our vegetables - if the slugs and snails would just move away, we'd have plenty more veg too.

This is the first crop picked off one of the courgette plants. I cut and froze one and the other we had with our dinner this evening. Usually Marion can't stand courgettes, she prefers the french beans, but tonight she tried a bit and then asked for more. Home grown are so much nicer than shop bought I think. Even if you don't have a big garden, just get a container and plant them, that's all I've done.