Friday, 5 March 2021

Photo Scavenger Hunt :: March 2021 #1 ... Signs of Spring

Hi there everyone πŸ˜ƒ

I can’t quite believe it’s March already and will very soon be a full year before we hit our first lockdown ... who would have imagined the year we’ve had, though it does seem now that we really can see a tiny chunk of light at the end of the tunnel 🀞🀞🀞

A new month and it’s time for the next of Kate’s weekly photo scavenger hunt challenges for March over on I live, I love, I craft, I am me.

This week we can choose from either ‘signs of spring’ or ‘signs of autumn’.

Having had our first proper venture out into the garden last week I decided I would definitely opt for spring ... as I am beginning to get the sense now that it is most definitely in the air.

Whilst we have been treated to this beautiful and unexpected clump of crocuses ...
... one of the first signs of spring for us is what happens in our tiniest strip of garden border, amongst the concrete, out front.

We currently have snowdrops, tiny yellow daffs and the brightest splashes of colour from a variety of different coloured primulas ...

It's definitely time to get the jetwash out for one of the first gardening jobs of the year ... but I leave that one to Matin πŸ˜€


Monday, 1 March 2021

The Reading Corner :: February 2021

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

It was very much looking like there would be no 'Reading Corner' post for February ... but I managed to sneak just one read in ... right at the very end of the month ...

The Book of Two Ways 
Jodi Picoult

Now this was something totally different to what I’ve been reading lately, very interesting and extremely thought provoking.

It’s been a while since I’ve read one of Jodi Picoults books but I’ve always enjoyed them and the deep messages that they share.

This was one I had for my birthday back in November and it had sat on the bedside table for a good few weeks before I felt ready to dive in.

The main character started out as an Egyptologist. Circumstances interrupted her initial path and she ended up acting as a death doula, someone who pretty much is there to help the terminally ill to prepare for the inevitable. Having just recently lost my dad I was interested to see what this really entailed and how it would be woven into the tale, as it sounded like something that could be pretty worthwhile.

The book started off with a lot of technical stuff ... about Egyptology and The actual ‘Book of Two Ways’ and then Quantum physics and the theory that we could all be living an infinite number of lives in different universes, depending upon the paths we choose. I ploughed on through and we were soon back in the present day finding out more about the value of the death doula.

There were some really interesting questions raised ... When facing death what goes through your mind ... is it missed opportunities? What might have been had we chosen different paths? Is anything really meant to be? Would it be good to be able to go back and pick up an old thread to see where it might lead?

One paragraph which really struck a chord, and I know it’s because of dad, was the description of how a body actually dies ... from spending lots of time with dad over the last month or so it certainly felt a pretty accurate description.

It was one of those books which jumped about a bit from a time point of view but it was easy to follow and I couldn’t put it down, once I’d got past the technical stuff, which was intrinsic to the plot. I couldn’t wait to find out how things ended for everyone.

I really enjoyed it and was quite sad when it came to an end 😊


Friday, 26 February 2021

Photo Scavenger Hunt :: February 2021 #4 ... Delicious

Hi there everyone πŸ˜ƒ

It’s Friday which means it’s time for the weekly link up hosted by Kate over at I live, I love, I craft, I am me.

The word for this week is ... Delicious πŸ˜‹ 

I have been browsing back through old photos and was struggling to come up with something for today so was thinking that I might have to give it a miss ... but then, this morning I was presented with two options.

Firstly ... one of our favourite breakfasts. We call them ‘flip-dibby-dovers’ also known as breakfast quesadillas ...

Not long after we’d finished eating and I was just having a read before getting back into the housework then my lovely friend Jo turned up with these from Only Rosie’s ... 

... which most definitely fit the Bill for this week’s word πŸ˜ƒ


Monday, 22 February 2021

Random Ramblings :: A Lockdown Valentines

Hi there everyone πŸ˜ƒ

For the last few years we’ve tried to do something special on Valentine’s Day. Last year we had a short break in Windsor, in 2019 we had a day out at Clumber Park and in 2018 we went out for lunch and did some antique shop mooching.

This year was a bit different ... with no excursions on the cards ... though we did have a go at something new.

Remember the Art Class in a Box I treated myself to with my Christmas money ...

Well ... last week I finally unboxed it all and had a good look at what was included ...

Then Martin and I had our first go at painting since leaving school many moons ago ... 
We completed a practice tutorial and both of us really enjoyed having a go ...

We didn’t have anything planned for Valentine’s Day other than a meal for two for £15 from Tesco. The weather was a bit rubbish so we decided to have a go at the first of the projects in the kit ...

It was a moonlit forest and we started with a colour washed sky, with a lifted moon ...

We then added a smattering of stars and a pine forest before finishing with a final colourwash in the foreground ...

After peeling away the Washi tape we were both quite impressed with our efforts, though they were a little different ...

I was so excited that I commandeered a frame from the lounge just to see what it looked like ...

I think I might just be a little bit hooked and am already imagining this year's Christmas cards.

We’d both really enjoyed having a go ... it was a really relaxing way to spend an hour or so and we are both really looking forward to having a go at the next project ... which looks a bit trickier. I couldn’t resist having another play though ... just with a simple graded wash background with some hydrangea flowers from the garden that I pressed last autumn ...

Our Tesco meal for two wasn’t quite as planned ... our starter, our main, one of our sides and our dessert were all substituted πŸ™ˆ. I have to say though ... whoever had been picking and packing didn’t do badly at all.

Our starter should have been a Smoked Salmon and Watercress Tartlet and we ended up with Smoked Salmon Sliced Crescents ...

Our main should have been Pesto & Parmigiana Breaded Chicken, accompanied by Leeks, Petit Pois & Cabbage and Dauphinoise Potatoes. We actually ended up with Chicken Parmigiana, Petit Pois, Leeks & Pancetta ... we did get the Dauphinoise ...

for dessert we should have been eating Millionaire’s Tarts ... we actually ended up with Chocolate & Orange Cake Slices ...

The prosecco was as it should have been.

Overall it was all very tasty and hardly any effort to put together at all.

We spent our evening watching Dancing on Ice, wondering what on Earth they will do if anyone else drops out, followed by Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Oh ... and this little fella appeared ...

An all together fairly relaxing kind of day πŸ’œ


Friday, 19 February 2021

Photo Scavenger Hunt :: February #3 ... Unexpected

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

I can't quite believe it's Friday again already and time to link up with Kate's photo scavenger hunt over on I live, I love, I Craft, I am me.

The word for inspiration this week is ... unexpected.

I decided to both keep it simple this week and go with something new ...
I'm not sure if you will have seen the blog post about the 'Art Class in a Box' I treated myself to with some Christmas money ... but this is my first creation and to say the outcome was 'unexpected' is an understatement!

I will be blogging more about our dining room table art session, but for someone who has always considered themselves to be totally useless at art of the painting kind I was pretty chuffed with how it turned out πŸ˜€


Monday, 15 February 2021

Creating :: The Crochet Blanket Ta-dah

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

It's been a good while since I've done a totally crafty post and this one has certainly been a long time coming.

Inspired by Attic 24's Harmony Blanket I started this project in June 2017 and I am so pleased to finally be able to say 'Ta-dah'.

My epic journey started off with a hunt through my yarn stash which seemed to be turning into quite a collection, with no real plans for using any of it, to see if I had enough already to make my own version of Lucy's Harmony Blanket.

After a good play I managed to find 13 colours which I felt could blend together well and decided to give it a go ...

I started out fairly full of enthusiasm and by November of 2017 had got all my squares up to the third row and it was looking good ...

In May 2018 I was still plodding on and the blanket accompanied me to my first local craft morning ...

By the time I'd got all of the squares up to the fifth row it was April 2019 ...

I decided I would try something new and have a go using the join as you go method for the final row of all of the squares and there was lots of laying out on the dining room table ...

... until I found a design I was happy with ... deciding to go with a kind of a colourwash ...

The join as you go method for linking the squares together worked an absolute treat ...

... and in what seemed like no time at all they were all joined together ...

... and looking very neat ...

I opted for a fairly simple, but wide, border, using my favourite of the blanket colours ...

I did make a bit of a 'schoolgirl error' with my border ... completing it in the same size hook as I had used for the squares. Whilst all started out well ... as I completed more rows of the border it did tighten up so made the blanket difficult to lay totally flat without the corners curling up. I understand that if I'd used a bit of a larger hook I may have been able to avoid this.

The blanket then sat in a bag by the sofa until last week when I decided that it was time to darn in the ends and finally ... nearly four years from starting out I had my 'Ta-dah' moment. I now have myself a hand made crocheted throw and I have to say I am quite proud of it ...

I'm not quite sure what my plans are for it but I do know that I love it and it is really snuggly when curled up on the sofa watching TV ... especially on these seriously cold nights we've been having of late. 

I'm not sure what my next crochet project will be ... but whatever it is ... I hope it doesn't take as long to finish as this one did πŸ˜€


Friday, 12 February 2021

Photo Scavenger Hunt :: February 2021 #2 ... Starts with a 'W'

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

The theme for this week's photo scavenger hunt, hosted by Kate over on I live, I love, I craft, I am me is ... Starts with a 'W'.

For me this was definitely cause to take a trip down memory lane and remember the lovely boy that was William ... the loveliest bundle of white fluff that decided he wanted to move in with us, even though he had a very good home of his own, with his twin brother Harry, across the road.

We didn't feed him, but we couldn't help but love him and it got to the point where really he just used to head for home for breakfast and dinner ... we did feel a bit guilty at times but the neighbours didn't seem to mind and we would often get a knock on our front door from a kindly passer by asking us to let 'our' cat in as he was crying his heart out on the doorstep.

Sadly William is no more but Martin and I still have very fond memories of him. His twin, Harry, did visit occasionally, mainly when his owners were on holiday, but now they have moved so we don't see him either ... that's not to say the garden is totally feline free πŸ˜€

Apologies that the pictures aren't that great but they do really show his character ... he was literally into everything ...

If you want to read a bit more about William he was the subject of my 2nd ever blog post, which you can read here 🐱


Monday, 8 February 2021

The Reading Corner :: January 2021

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

I've decided, in the absence of much else to blog about at the moment, to continue with my monthly 'Reading Corner' posts ... hopefully it will motivate me to keep reading ...

Bad Luck and Trouble
Lee Child

Well I started the year off as I ended it ... with the next in the Jack Reacher series.

I have to say though, that I did re-watch the Jack Reacher film on TV and whilst I already knew that I would struggle a bit with Tom Cruise in the role ... he is is just too short... I was surprised at how different the film was from the book One Shot, upon which it was based.

The title of this one definitely seemed to resonate with how Jack normally ended up and it sounded a bit different, with Jack being tasked to get the old team together to investigate a very dodgy looking death of one of their colleagues.

It was good to meet up with some of the old team ... some of whom had appeared in previous tales and some that were new. Whoever had decided to ‘mess with the special investigators’ clearly didn't know what they were taking on with Jack ... especially when supported by some of the best of his old team.

As the tale unfolded and more of the old team met similar sorry ends Jack became even more determined to get to the bottom of whatever they’d been working on and how they’d ended up back together. It was only a matter of time before the mystery was solved, the day was saved and the bad guys got what was coming to them .... though this time Jack certainly did cut it very fine indeed.

Nothing to lose
Lee Child

Another Jack Reacher ... the 12th in the series ... and another great read ... I was over halfway through and still had no real clue as to what was really going on in the aptly named town of Despair.

Having been kicked out for no real reason whatsoever Jack's curiosity knew no bounds and he was just not going to be happy until he found out exactly what was going on.

As usual Jack got into plenty of scrapes along the way, had a bit of a swift liaison with a strong female character and upset plenty of the locals but somehow his brain worked out all of the threads and ensured a truly explosive ending before heading off on his way again.


Friday, 5 February 2021

Photo Scavenger Hunt :: February 2021#1... Lovely Memory

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

The photo scavenger hunt hosted by Kate over on I live, I love, I craft, I am me is continuing through February on a weekly basis, and will do so until our lives get back to a bit more like normal. This is great for me as I tend to post a lot about trips out and holidays so it will be good to have a prompt to get me thinking about other things, whilst we can't really get out and about much.

This week's prompt is ... Lovely Memory ... and whilst I had a lot of pictures to choose from there was always only going to be one subject ...

Sadly we lost dad a week or so ago, after a fairly short illness, and whilst I will always remember the rotten time he had of it over the last few months ... I will also remember all of the lovely times that we had ...

This photo is from September 2019, when mum and dad came and joined us on our holiday on the Isle of Wight for a week. It was at The Needles on one of the windiest days ever and we just had the best of times. ...

You may not be able to see much of The Needles, just tiny little bit to the right of Martin's shoulder, but you can certainly see how windy it was. It's one of my favourite photos of us all and will always bring back lovely memories of dad, the Isle of Wight and all of the lovely times that we spent together 😊


Monday, 1 February 2021

Random Ramblings :: A Virtual Dinner Party

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

For as many years as I’ve been left home, and that is approximately just under 40 years, our favourite Saturday nights have regularly been spent dining in with our good friends Jackie and Phil.

Lots of things have changed over the years ... where we’ve lived and the facilities (and funds) we’ve had available, partners coming and going (for me πŸ™ˆ) and babies being born, growing up and leaving home (for Jackie and Phil).

What has never changed is that we’ve always loved cooking for each other ... pushing the boat out a bit, trying out new recipes ... not always turning out quite as planned ... but always having the most relaxing of evenings eating, drinking, maybe playing boards games and generally just chewing the fat.

Of course, the added bonus for the last 20 plus years is that we live within walking distance of each other ... which may or may not have led to the odd Sunday morning feeling just a little delicate.

It is one of the things that I have missed over the course of the last year ... lockdowns and timing meaning we’ve only really managed the odd doorstep catch up and just one bit of a day out.

It was with a bit of trepidation that I suggested a virtual dinner party for last Saturday night ... not really sure how successful it would be ... but we had a bit of a practice run with the technology and decided to give it a go ...

We decided it would work better if we all ate the same thing and decided on a fairly straightforward menu, which wouldn't need lots of getting up and down from the table.

Jackie made and dropped off the starter ... Smoked salmon with prawns, horseradish cream and a lime vinaigrette ... all I needed to do was to finish plating it up and pop the sourdough baguette in the oven.

We laid the table ...
... dressed for dinner ...

... and met for cocktails, which Jackie had ordered from an on line company, at 7.00pm ...
A quick chat and we both popped our bread in the oven ...

I think the starter was probably the first I’ve eaten in about a year and it was scrummy. It’s a BBC Good Food recipe, which you can find here if you fancy giving it a go ...

We had a bit of a break and a cocktail top up before diving into our main course, which was salmon-en- croute (bought pre-made I have to confess), dauphinoise potatoes and broccoli ...

Another break and chat about all and sundry, including garden planting plans for this year before finishing with dessert.

I had made a ginger Tiramissu and it was just the job ... very light and very, very gingery. All we had to do to serve it was to dust with cocoa powder and icing sugar ...

Before we knew it the clock had sped round to 11.00pm and we couldn’t quite believe we’d been on line for about 4 hours.

It worked really well. Whilst not the same as sitting across the table from each other and hugging on the doorstep before walking home it had still been a really lovely night and something that I can definitely see us doing again as it’s not looking like we will be able to get together properly any time soon.

I think the key to it working so well, as well as us all being the best of friends of course, was eating the same menu and planning our timings ahead ... that way our courses were all ready at the same time and it did kind of feel like we were eating together.

To top it all on Sunday morning we woke up to snow ... we were heading over to mum and dad’s and I had to keep getting Martin to pull in so I could capture a few pictures of normally drab looking spots which were totally transformed ...