Wednesday 30 December 2015

prepare to take next year by storm day and wishing you a happy new year

today is "prepare to take next year by storm day"
the weather is responding with yet another storm.
the cats are too frightened by the wind to go outside.
my preparing seems to be mostly drinking cups of tea and looking in despair at the mess in the study, where everything has been dumped for the last 2 weeks, in a "quick fling it in there and shut the door" style.....

I'm not mentally ready for next year anyway, unless I can plan to hibernate, which probably wouldn't be popular with the family by dinner time...... 
Instead I shall content myself with reflecting on Christmas, the children don't like to be photographed, so here's a cat with his new catnip fish,.

We took advantage of a brief respite from the rain and went to the beach yesterday,  where I contented myself with playing with sticks and bits of Christmas tree which had been washed up the the crazy high tides, and E and J flew the Christmas kites and E began his new "career" as teenage film director. If only he was as enthusiastic about revising for his exams he has in January as he is about learning to use film editing software...........

Tomorrow we're going for a day trip to Cumbria to check on my mother in law, she's now got a flat to live in whilst her house dries out after the floods, and we need to make sure that the dryers are doing their best, and that the house is secure after the latest storms. I'm not sure I'll be back in time to write a happy new year post, or write a wonderful thoughtful reflective post about 2015 (ok I'll be honest, I'm not ever going to try and write one of those!) or make a gorgeous photographic mosaic (no - not going to do that either!) so instead this;

I wish you all the very best for a wonderful New Year, may 2016 bring you happy times, friendship, love, joy, good health, and cake. 

I also want to thank you for all your friendship, visits, comments, emails, and posts to read this year. You make me a better person and for that I thank you. 

now if you need me I'll either be trying to convince someone that learning about antibiotics and friction and chemical reactions really is worthwhile, or I'll be in a cave of duvets and quilts.

Thursday 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, 

filled with family, friendship, love, peace and joy, 

and a little bit of elf magic x

Sunday 20 December 2015


I'm not a great fan of televised awards ceremonies and certainly wouldn't normally watch one about sport, but tonight's BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 includes as one of the nominees Lucy Bronze, the women's international footballer who scored for England in the World Cup and inspired a nation of girls to participate in sport.  So what you may say, but you see when Lucy's family used to live on our street, and now live on the next street to us, and you know that Lucy's mum is Miss K's maths teacher, and that Lucy went to the same school as E and Miss K the you'll realise that the whole town is rooting for her. She's totally the underdog, amongst a cast including Mo Farah and Any Murray but we be watching and will  #votelucy !

watch this video, her mum is so proud!

Friday 18 December 2015

five on friday - the festive version.

Five random things from the last week, all with a vague festive theme. joining in Amy's five on Friday.

1. Snowdrifts of cream and ice cream - Miss K's birthday celebrations.

 2. Real Snowdrifts! The perfect visitor at the guide and ranger Christmas weekend away, a four hour blizzard which left huge amounts of perfect snowman making snow, and then stopped just before all the adults got into a total panic about being snowed in, in the middle of nowhere with 16 guides and rangers, and not enough food for a prolonged stay..... Truly magical.

3. Of the many crafts provided over the weekend this was the one I was most surprised by. Take one polystyrene ball, a bag of sequins and the tiniest pins in the world and sit and poke them in. Mesmerizing, addictive, fiddly, frustrating (I dropped oh so many sequins), controversial (everyone else turned their sequins so the curved side moulded around the ball, but I liked the sticking out look....), exactly the perfect craft when you know you have a billion things to do, but you're in a farm house in the middle of nowhere, with a blanket of snow covering everything and no wifi and so what you do is just sit and chat and select the next sequin!

4. In contrast to the bauble, this was the quickest craft ever, take one bunch of holly, add a ribbon and a tangle of Christmas beads, and loop over the outside lamp instead of a wreath on the door. 

5. Holy toast.  Just because.

Happy Friday. I am so glad you're here. Hope everyone has a lovely weekend. 

Tuesday 15 December 2015

bird feeder therapy

I won't lie. life is a bit chaotic here right now. it's the time of year when there are more activities than there is enough time or energy. add in the two birthdays and the flooding of my mum-in-law and I have to admit I have never ever been so ill prepared for the day that is only 10 days away....... We still have to organize visits to family, and family, buy gifts and food and as of half an hour ago I hadn't written a single card. I've now written two.... In the face of too much too do, and no idea where to start I have been doing what works best. Making a mug of tea and a slice of cinnamon toast, and looking out of the window.....

We have a bird feeding station just at the edge of the patio, and this is my kitchen window view. There is nothing more mesmerizing than watching the visitors coming for breakfast, lunch and perhaps a little afternoon snack.  We frequently get a good variety of finches and tits and small garden birds, and occasionally some local enterprising pheasant who is not content to sit underneath and catch the dropped seed, but balances precariously and helps herself!

I was contacted a few months ago by Mill Race Garden Centre  who offered me a voucher for their online store which sells a wide variety of things for your garden needs. I've been attempting to shop locally more often, instead of using big multi national online stores, but it's not easy when local doesn't always provide what you need, or it's too heavy to walk up very big hill with..... When I realised that local doesn't always  have to mean local to me, but can just mean supporting a real store or small business that just happens to deliver then I felt like I'd reached a good compromise.  Whilst reading Mill Race Garden Centre's useful blog post about caring for your garden in winter I decide to buy some bird food. I found a wide range of bird feeding products to keep my kitchen window viewing supplied all winter, delivery was fast and the birds are delighted with their feasts, especially the berry suet treats which despite looking shockingly pink are clearly very delicious, as that's the feeder I have to fill up most often!

So come on, is it just me that stares out the window, when there's too much to do?  Does anyone else have a pheasant who comes to tea, or a pigeon that eats so much seed we have affectionately named him FP - short for fat pigeon....... and am I the only one who can't get a single decent photograph of the birds who actually come to the feeder, despite hundreds of attempts?........

Mill Race Garden Centre provided me with a voucher to purchase these items. Thoughts and words are my own.

Monday 7 December 2015

random things of the week

When the skies are grey and the rain is pouring down sometimes you have to create your own light.

Create cosiness benefits all the family, even though I did tell the cat that this table runner really is Not a nice table quilt for him to sleep on. He is in disgrace now as he's licked a sore patch on his leg and his wearing the cone of shame, so he can't jump onto the table. 
I suppose it would be cruel to keep it on permanently to stop him getting on the table.....

The storms here this weekend cancelled the Christmas market stalls and brought down the town Christmas tree. Nothing compared to the flooding in Cumbria, I've been watching in horror at the amount of water and the damage it's causing. J's mum had to leave her house on Saturday as the water started to come in, we have no idea how high it got, she's hoping to go back in today and look. We can't drive there to find out for ourselves as the roads are closed and the main bridge through her town is currently closed while it assessed for damage. The rumours on twitter last night that it had collapsed are thankfully untrue.

On a lighter note I found myself this weekend saying the one thing to my son that I thought I never would.

"make sure you take off all your make up before you go to bed"!

Tuesday 1 December 2015


According to my calendar this Thursday is "get excited about Christmas day". Both of the teenagers have birthdays before Christmas and those are definitely the focus of excitement right now! I might get involved with "panic shopping day" but it's more likely to be a frantic hunt for a gluten free pudding than an online present buying spree...
I do love December, the birthday parties and family visits, and cake and fairy lights and the smell of cinnamon and cloves and boxes of oranges. 
and at the end of the month the most exciting day of all? 
"prepare to take the following year by storm day" !

Happy December everyone x

Sunday 29 November 2015

weekending and party planning

I've spent the weekend writing clues.
clues and puzzles and riddles, and codes and ciphers.

morse code, and polybius ciphers, dingbats and skip codes, ottendorf ciphers and date ciphers, scytales and riddles.

A complex indoor treasure hunt birthday party in the making. followed by Lots of party food.
teenage boys need Lots of party food apparently.
and ice cream.
lots of ice cream.

The teenage girl has requested a dvd, ice cream and pizza party. Much Easier.

It's been wild wet and windy here this weekend, planning cosy colourful parties is so much better than going out!

Monday 16 November 2015

there are no words


Friday 13 November 2015

gloomy weather crafting

It's been wonderfully foggy and grey and gloomy lately. Also quite wet. Not great for getting the last shots of the autumn colours, but perfect for gloomy foggy walks.

Gloomy weather also is perfect quilting weather, creating cosiness is the perfect antidote to winter grumps, and when the skies are a multitude of greys then creating colour becomes important too.

The log cabin scrap quilt that I started here suddenly started to take shape once I'd finished my star quilt, and at this size was a perfect lap quilt, but I had some logs left so it was always going to get bigger.....

First I change a few blocks in the bottom right corner, as I wasn't convinced of the colours, and then I added some more rows at the side and the top.

I'm yet to decide on the colours for the top left, hence the gap. Yellows and oranges perhaps?  Or Back from green into blues again. I'm thinking probably the latter.
I'm enormously impatient to finish it now, and cuddle up in it's warm brightness on the sofa with some dvds and popcorn. 

Also bringing colour on this gloomy day. 
Gluten free doughnuts! 
All the way from London.  

Hope you have a lovely weekend, 
I'm waiting for Miss K to get home from school and then that pink doughnut's time is up! 

joining in with Silverpebble's  making winter and Jennifer's Winter project

Wednesday 11 November 2015

the poppies

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, 
row on row.

That mark our place, 
and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard a mid the guns below.

We are the Dead,.
Short Days ago We lived,
felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, 
and now we lie in Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you from failing hands we throw the torch,
be yours to hold it high.

If you break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep
though poppies grow in Flanders fields.

 John McCrae (1872-1918)

Sunday 1 November 2015

Happy November

Goodbye October, I can't say I'll miss you. You were rather too full of doctors appointments for a child with unexplained stomach pain, and opticians and meetings and migraines and damp. I did love the blue skies at the start of the month, and the grey fog is very melodramatic and makes for wonderful spider webs with water droplets, and I did eat an awful lot of cake and have a wonderful weekend away with a friend, but you're still not my favourite month. Sorry....

So November what will you bring?

 I'm happy about "parsnip appreciation day", although I certainly don't want the children to start appreciating them, they're the one vegetable I don't insist they eat, the parsnips are mine, all mine.....
I can admit that I'll "get excited about fireworks day", we're lucky enough to be able to watch a public display from just outside the house, it's at the bottom of the hill, we get a great view, and can stand with steaming mugs of soup and watch and ooh and ahh to our hearts delight, 
Most of all I'm looking forward to "don't worry about anything day"
Happy November, I hope it's kind to you. 
What are you looking forward to?

Wednesday 28 October 2015

a random ten

a random ten, inspired by Annie

1. I feel as if we are living in a cloud. It is Very wet, very grey and very very foggy which makes it hard to see past the end of the car, which makes driving difficult....

2. So far I have gone out three times in the car already, and I have at least two more trips to make. Sometimes I don't go out in the car for days and days on end. Those are the days I like best......

3. It is also very muddy. And someone with little white but not clean paws is in disgrace. I sent the photo to J who suggested we might be having kitten curry for dinner. Luckily for the disgraced cat in question I had already planned tonight's dinner.....

4. I made cookies. It is Leanne's fault. I read about them about an hour ago, and now there are two trays of cookies in the kitchen. I used Doves Farm gluten free flour and gluten free certified oats, and they are thin and crispy and probably won't last very long.

5. I'm taking E back to the opticians later. This will be the 4th lesson in "how to fit contact lenses."
Oh it looks so easy and really really it isn't. He wants some for sport lessons occasionally and for youth theatre (curse you English teacher who doesn't like to see children in glasses in his productions..........) but he really can't get the hang of it. 
The impossibly long and curly eyelashes aren't helping. They keep getting in the way....
If only I had those, and he had my almost non existent short and straight eyelashes....

6. I messed up ordering tickets for the world record attempt of most witches.
Now I only have to make two costumes.......  Every mistake has a silver lining........

7. We're planning on going to the Woodhorn Museum tomorrow to see the Weeping Window installation of poppies from the WW1 Centenary.  All the pictures I have seen are incredibly dramatic.

8. I bought some tortilla chips from the supermarkets earlier. I've been buying the same ones for months, and they used to be gluten free but now I see the label says "not suitable for wheat allergy sufferers due to manufacturing methods" The ingredients are maize and oil and salt for goodness sake. Presumably they're made on a line that also produces wheat products. I looked up on their website and their more expensive tortilla chips manage to be gluten free - they also cost twice as much and have more salt on them.......... grrrrrrr. makes me so cross. It's bad enough that there's gluten in so many things anyway, and then when manufacturers change the production so you have to check every time you buy something...... oh and pay more. ok rant over.

9. J is going to London next month for a meeting. I have convinced him that he has to go to Selfridges foodhall and buy gluten free donuts. When you spend too much time on instagram you learn that such things exist and where they can be obtained from.

10. The Coffee lady has got me addicted to Chai tea. Oh the irony..........

Friday 23 October 2015

Starry Starry Night

Starry Night Quilt. November 2013-October 2015.

Hurray, I just got in under the two year time window! Although a good part of the latter part of this time was putting off the actual quilting of it, and then finding a solution to the endlessly snapping threads that were driving me mad.

Anyway enough of that that. You want to see photos right. The problem is that photographing the largest quilt in the world is not easy. I enlisted a friend. We went out into the woods. One person really can't hold it on their own. We tried a self timer on the camera, and I nearly fell off the wall we were balancing on, and nettles stung me through my jeans. You have to really want a photograph to put up with nettle stings in my world.......... 

Then I balanced it on my head and pretended to be a giant ghost.

We tried out some props, but I really couldn't bring myself to drape it over the rather mucky but lovely vintage tractor........

so we retreated back inside for me more tea and I just draped it on the sofa instead.......

in reality though it's easiest to photograph quilts in their natural environment.

on the bed.

details of the rest of the quilt story can be found here, here, here and here!

Thursday 1 October 2015


Hello October. 
You are Miss K's favourite month. 
Well apart from December, but then that has Christmas and birthdays and so it wins.....
Miss K loves you because of Halloween. Even at nearly 17 she loves it. Spiders and pumpkins and decorations and this year we'll be joining in with a Guiness world record attempt for the most people dressed as witches in one place.
 I'm less keen on Halloween personally, although I suppose I can make soup of out the pumpkins so it's not all bad.....

I am looking forward to be proud of yourself day, I'm happy to join in with  feed some ducks day
but most of all I'm excited for duvet day.

Happy October everyone.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

autumn equinox - thermos to the rescue

the first day of autumn.

crisp blue skies, crunchy fallen leaves, conkers, apples, and blackberries.

or if you live in the North East of England it would appear that actually what you get is grey skies, Lots of rain, mist, fog, damp, wind, cold feet, and soggy socks....... (oh and spiders, so many spiders.)

also you get a rather grumpy teenager who has an extremely heavy bag and a long walk to school, and is in need of a little comfort by lunchtime.

The 6th form common room serves a variety of hot food and drinks, but the teenager can't eat the food as none of it is gluten free and despite my best efforts she doesn't like tea........

I asked her what she would actually like to have at school, and the answer was quite definitive.

Soup, or soup, or soup, or soup, or hot chocolate.

so a flask then.
we have several flasks already, but they were all proving to have something wrong with them;
too big, too small, too leaky, doesn't keep anything hot, too untrendy..........

teenagers really are quite fussy.....

anyway I think we have the solution.

thermos travel mug. this one is bright red, it hasn't leaked, it keeps the soup hot enough it's nice to drink out of (although for thick soup it's better to take the lid off and use it more like a cup than a travel cup) and because it's steel it doesn't have any glass in like the ones we used to take on picnics when we were children and then find that it had smashed on the way and there was glass Everywhere.....

on the one chance I've had to use it it kept my tea nice and warm, it fit in the cup holder of the car neatly and I didn't spill tea everywhere when I drove J to the station at a horribly early time of the morning, always a bonus! ( I didn't need to use the little hook provided on the lid for my teabag, as I always make my tea in a teapot and then pour it in, but it's cute if you like that kind of thing, and you're not sceptical of teabags with strings......)

apparently it will also keep drinks cold for 9 hours without the outside of the flask sweating, can't vouch for this yet, but should we ever go anywhere hot ever again I'll test it out.

thermos kindly provided me with this product, they have a range of designs (all BPA free) in a back to school range, designed for younger children through to university students in need off coffee to keep them awake.

oh and if you have any great soup recipes do let me know, so far there has been a lot of carrots.

Friday 18 September 2015

five excuses

five truly rubbish excuses why I've not posted for 18 days.

  1. I was decorating banister rails; sanding, undercoating, glossing, swearing when the gloss had drips in, and more swearing when the masking tape that was protecting the carpet pulls off a layer of gloss paint from the base of the railings.....
  2. urmm.... no nothing, no more excuses,     well I suppose I did go and choose some paint samples for the walls, at the moment it's a toss up between chalk white and sail white. no-one except me can tell the difference between the samples I painted on the walls, and someone else said they liked the colour the wall already was better than the new choices........... I am wondering why I thought it was a good idea to decorate the hall at all.........
  3. I've finally managed to buy E a pair of school trousers that are long enough, he's only been back 2 weeks, so it's not that bad surely.... and I did have to drive 20 miles to collect them, and sit in the store's cafe drinking tea until I got a cheerful email telling me my order was ready to collect. 
  4. I baked the nicest blackberry crumble in the whole world and then ate so much that I couldn't move from the sofa for hours. 
  5. I was abducted by aliens and therefore couldn't take any decent photos or doing anything that might actually be worth writing about?   this is as good as excuse as any in reality............ 
I can imagine this being marked at school. E for effort. Must try harder..........

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Hello September

Hello September. Gosh you got here quick. I'm not quite ready for early mornings, and school bags, and making sandwiches, and uniforms just get, so if you'd like to go away for a few more weeks that would be fine. I'll have extra August.  I'm not ready, we still need to buy school trousers, and I have no idea whether the school ties are in a safe place. I'm not at all sure about anything on your list September, there is no chance of me remembering passwords, I write them in a secret place......... but I'm happy to try notice small things day,  it would be gracious to celebrate be lovely to everyone day and who can resist be thankful for pineapples day!

Do you have fun plans for September? Are you excited by new stationary, or dismayed by the lack of autumn flowers in your garden? Does anyone else think this summer went really fast, or was that just me?

Thursday 27 August 2015

scrap quilting part 3

I've run out of white fabric for the log cabin scrap project, and I was in the mood for something quicker and less intricate than the hand pieced hexagons .

1 1/2 inch strips to the rescue. Too narrow for the log cabin. Random lengths and an eclectic mix of colours. I just joined a few of the same colour and shape together, and then sewed it to another few of a different colour. When I had a few joined I made another section and then another, and joined a few of those together.

A couple of hours of chaotic piecing whilst everyone else in the house was still sleeping.

There is no plan for the them, but if I'm storing them somewhere it might as well be on my wall.

They make me smile when I walk into my room.

Sunday 23 August 2015

holiday round up

Thank you for all the lovely comments on Friday's post, feeling much more like myself now.  
Last night's mojitos might have helped.
So how about a speedy round up of the hols? With a truly random selection of pics.

We had a truly wonderful trip. It was Very Hot at times.
 It was quite an effort to not end up looking like a boiled lobster. 
This one was very tasty btw. E liked it too. Miss K pronounced it too spiky to eat.

E discovered a passion for donuts. We did find some gluten free donuts in Trader Joes, they were quite tasty, but not very photogenic...... 

This is Jackson,  New Hampshire. Very Pretty. Natural pools of water for paddling and splashing. Water is a bit theme throughout the trip. I think my family might be partly aquatic, they sought out water wherever we went. Also in the area a mountain side thrills park. Water slides, giant airbags to jump onto, cable car rides, mountain coasters. Thrill seeking children Loved it.... I watched mostly....

Rockport, MA. Frequently used as a film set, most recently "The Proposal" with Sandra Bullock, where it pretends to be a town in Alaska. I've never been to Alaska but I doubt it is quite that hot there. Or as picture book pretty.
We lived there nearly 20 years ago, it's barely changed, and I still love it just as much. 
It was liked going on holiday and coming home, all at the same time.

The Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC. The Mall in Washington is filled with monuments and statues and sculptures and water features. Truly Beautiful. Especially at night.  Also along the Mall more museums than you could ever hope to visit in a lifetime. We saw the biggest diamond ever, touched a piece of the moon, read the fading lettering of the Declaration of Independence, wanted to read all the books at Thomas Jefferson's library, learnt about  evolution, and how toilets work in space, sat in the Botanic gardens, and dipped our toes in fountains and pools, collected tiny pieces of driftwood from the river banks, and walked 1 1/2 miles of the 17 miles of corridors in the Pentagon, and went to the zoo.

Back to reality now, I need to email one of  Miss K's teachers and tell him I've put the letters about next terms text books, and syllabus in a safe place, (probably the recycling.........) and please will he email me another copy of them.
I remember her handing them to me, who knows what happened to them after that............
we saw a t-shirt on holiday that said "nothing is truly lost until your mother can't find it" 
perhaps it should say on the back, "unless it's her fault it's lost"

Friday 21 August 2015

feeling like it's Friday

feeling a bit flat today. Friday feeling? maybe. post holiday slump? probably. GCSE results stress? definitely. (she did ok). overwhelming mountain of laundry glaring at me? let's just pretend that's not there shall we.........

how about some holiday photos instead? from our favourite place of the whole trip.

take one privately owned disused granite quarry, allow it to fill it with water from a natural underground spring and you have the most amazing swimming spot I could possibly imagine.

deep clean water as far as the eye can see.
so so deep.

a giant telegraph pole to play on, in case bobbing about in the water gets boring.

and for the thrill seekers, endless rocks to leap off from terrifying heights, often whilst playing with a bat and ball at the same time, guaranteed to give mothers of said thrill seekers endless anxst and potential heart attacks........ 

I can't bring myself to publish a photograph of the highest jump, you'll think I'm a terrible and irresponsible person and never come back here.......

let's just focus back on that tranquil clear water shall we............