Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Wedding

Now you may not have heard this, but there's a Royal wedding that's going to happen soon.

I know, I know, I'm sorry to spring it on you, it's not like it's being mentioned every five seconds or anything.

Actually I'm saying all this, and being terribly sarcastic, but it has kind of snuck up on me to be honest. I blogged about how excited I was back in February and suddenly the time is almost here and I'm left feeling a little bit panicky about the whole thing.

My tea party plans are coming along very nicely. A list has been made. People have been invited. I have all kinds of plans going on, but I'm just freaking out a tiny bit about how it's all going to come together.

The menu so far includes:
Lemon cupcakes
Elderflower and Lemon cake
Banana and Honey teabread
Union Jack battenburg cake (yes you heard right, if I pull it off it will be immense)
Mini sausage rolls
Cucumber sandwiches (with the crusts cut off of course)
Coronation chicken

I should probably point out that there's only going to be about 8 of us there. I think it's safe to say that doggie bags will be put into action. And believe me this list is heavily condensed, there were all kinds of other things on there but the realisation that I am just one person has meant that cuts had to be made.

Thursday has been blocked out as a baking day (apart from a hair appointment in the afternoon - I really am like a Lady who Lunches) and by then I will have a strict plan of action. I won't lie, there might even be timings on there - an itinerary isn't an itinerary without some timings on there.

And lets not forget about the decorating. I have all manner of Union Jack goodness going on and Thursday night will be spent festooning the house with all the tat I have. And remember I had the bright idea of collecting those commemorative mugs? Wait til you see what I have now...

Yes your eyes do not deceive you. My collection has grown somewhat larger than the last time you saw it. And this is pretty much entirely down to the immense kindness of one person. That person would be Lucy who sent me possibly the most amazing package ever with some brilliant charity shop finds. It was totally unexpected and more than I can put into words overwhelming. 

I have mugs commemorating  Charles' and Diana's wedding, mugs commemorating Fergie's and Andrew's wedding, mugs commemorating the Queen's Silver and Golden Jubilees, a mug commemorating the Silver Jubilee of King George V and a mug commemorating the coronation of Edward VIII and most importantly mugs commemorating the engagement and the wedding of one Prince William and one Kate Middleton.

Technically, technically, I have more mugs than I will have guests but I will be finding a use for them all, believe me.

And now I must go and panic about how I'm actually going to get this all done...

How the hell are they coping with organising the actual wedding?!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Easter 2011 Review

Easter's a bit of a funny old holiday really isn't it? It's kind of like Christmas but kind isn't. I know that I should feel uncomfortable celebrating Christmas because I don't really believe in the guy whose birthday we're celebrating but nonetheless I get on with it. Easter however definitely does make me feel a little awkward. I feel that in a way, Easter must mean more to Christians than Christmas because you're talking about Jesus rising from the dying for our sins and then, you know, rising from the flippin' dead - a much bigger deal. I feel like sitting at home and eating chocolate is completely missing the point.

But this is not a post about religious philosophizing (mostly because it took me about 20 attempts to write 'philosophizing' and I'm still not sure I got it right.)

Easter Sunday saw me de-camp to my Mum's house. We were going to be playing host to my brother and sister-in-law and my youngest nephew and niece. Happy days. Mum had decided to just do a buffet kind of lunch, her house is pretty small and it would be nigh on impossible to fit everyone around the table. I decided to make my own little offering and got myself in the kitchen.

For some time now I've been obsessed with the thought of making my own sausage rolls and Lorraine Pascal's Baking Made Easy came up with the goods. And she aint joking, this really is easy. I know this won't be a big deal for all you culinary competent people out there but this was a huge achievement for me and I did a celebratory dance around the kitchen when I took them out of the oven.

I decided I was clearly on a roll (geddit?! On a roll. Man I crack myself up.) and tried my hand at the Mini Egg Tiffin that was featured over on The Goddess's Kitchen. Oh. my. god. So good. So so good that I might have made two because I knew that one wasn't going to be enough. You know what I love about this? How bloody easy it is. As in, no baking required. And yet it looks bloody fabulous. A little like my sausage rolls. I know that Jesus went to all the effort of rising from the dead, but I'm afraid I took the easy route in the kitchen.

I set up an Easter egg hunt for my nephew. One that had a false start when Fred and Lily decided that they would hold their own Easter egg hunt. They were surprisingly good. Cue gathering all the mini eggs back in and opening another packet to replace the ones that had already been found and licked or batted across the house.

I remember how much I loved Easter egg hunts around the house when I was a kid. Hey I won't lie, I'd still like to do one now. Watching my little nephew's face as he went round the house gathering up all the eggs made my cold heart melt a little bit. Hearing him go "Oh LOOK!" when he found another one was lovely. And we even hid some foil wrapped eggs in the garden seeing as the weather was so nice. And bless his little heart, he shared them with us and each of us got our very own egg.

The rest of the day was spent playing in the garden, games of football and skittles and a particularly hilarious game of hide and seek where our wires all got crossed and we all ended up hiding from each other. There was lots of smooching and cuddling of my niece, who is now 6 months old and at the best age ever. There was lots of smiling and lots of kicking and lots of blowing raspberries, which is the funniest thing I've ever seen a baby do.

And there was also lots of eating...

Salad and home-made coleslaw and sausage rolls and garlic bread and sticky chicken wings. And meringues and cream and strawberries and mini egg tiffin. We ate until we nearly exploded.

We weren't the only ones to get in on the Easter action. Fred and Lily enjoyed themselves too. Mum had collected some twigs from the fields nearby and painted some eggs and had a very cute Easter tree thing going on with little ribbons tied round.

However Fred felt like it was missing a little something...

I'm not entirely sure which of us got in more trouble; Fred for knocking the whole thing over or me for taking photos of him instead of stopping him.

All in all, whether I should be 'celebrating' it or not, I declare Easter 2011 a winner.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Sounds of Good Friday

- The sound of a beeping car horn at 5.40am

- The sound of the fog horns on the docks in the early morning mist

- The rustle of the plastic bag as I cleared up the dead Blackbird I found outside the back door

- The sound of the hoover as I cleaned all of the house

- The scrub of the sponge on the hob as I got busy with the cream cleaner

- The hiss of the steam coming out of the iron whilst...

- ...The Archers played in the background

- The grumbling yowl of Maggie as she stretched her full length out on my bed

- The sound of my flip flops slapping against my feet as I walked to the shops

- The beep of the checkouts as I filled my basket

- The sound of a meat cleaver in the butchers as I bought the sausages to go in the sausage rolls I plan to make today

- The flutter of the birds in the garden as I pegged washing out on the line...

- ...And the distant roar of the fans at the KC Stadium watching the Hull KR/Hull FC Superleague derby match.

- The sizzle of the prawns in the pan as I made myself a stir fry for dinner

- The dripping of the tap as I lay, wallowing in the bath, reading my book

- The sound of a boiling kettle in the kitchen as I made my last cup of tea of the day

- The tiny creak of the bed as I settled in underneath freshly, line-dried sheets to go to sleep

It was a good day.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Feeling Stitchy: April Stitch-a-long - Finished!

And so I have finally finished my second ever little piece of embroidery. I am feeling mighty pleased with both it and myself. She is such a pretty little dancey lady.

Just in case anyone is interested in the breakdown of the things I've done for this piece then this post is going to be full of lovely information. If embroidery's not your thing then you might want to come back another day.

All the colours I've used are DMC threads. The name's of the stitches might not be right because I'm not an expert at these kinds of things. I have a little book called The Embroidery Stitch Bible - and indeed it is, it's jam packed full of stitches with handy little diagrams. I've used this piece to practice some new stitches - you never know when these things might come in useful.

The umbrella - Red- 606,  Yellow - 726, Orange - 741, Purple - 209, Green - 704, Blue - 798, Pink - 3806, Grey (umbrella handle) - 414.

Stitches used - Back stitch to outline, Brick stitch to fill in, Stem stitch for the umbrella handle.

The coat and dress - Blue - 3843, Purple (stripes) - 3839, Yellow - 744.

Stitches used - Coat outlined in back stitch. Lapels, pockets and buttons in satin stitch and dress in brick stitch.

The hair - Dark brown - 434, Medium brown - 436, Light brown - 437

Stitches used - Chain stitch. This was time consuming but oh so oh so worth it because I think I love her hair the most of all. I was initially just going  to do it all one colour but thought I would be brave and try something a bit different. There wasn't any particular method, I just stuck a lighter brown in whenever I felt like it but I was really pleased with the overall effect.

From beginning to end.

The rain was done in a loopy kind of stitch, for which I have no idea what the name is. I don't even know how I know to do it, it must have sunk into my brain as a result of reading too many stitchy type blogs.

The flowers were also cool but I can't get a decent enough picture of them close up to show the detail, but I used a stitch I've never done before called a Herringbone Stitch which was great for the leaves, it is being stored in the memory bank in case I embroider flowers in the future.

So there we have it. I've no idea what I'm going to do with her. I've got some tutorials saved so I can properly frame her in the hoop she's in now and I guess I'll get some ribbon and string her up somewhere and look at her and feel proud of myself.

A huge thank you needs to go to Feeling Stitchy for hosting the April Stitch-a-long - the pattern for this month was free and can be found here.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Feeling Stitchy: April Stitch-a-long

Ever since I did my first little bit of embroidery for a Christmas present last year, I have been itching to give it another go. But finding time has been difficult and selecting the right project has been even harder so I've been left to daydream for the beginning of 2011.

But then Feeling Stitchy started doing stitch-a-longs. I figured that this could be my chance to get my needle on and I was desperate to join in but couldn't find the time. I had already decided that April was the month I would go for it. As luck would have it this month's pattern was absolutely beautiful so I grabbed a nice cloth napkin I had lying around, borrowed Dorothy's washable pen and set about tracing like a mad woman.

This is where a lightbox would come in handy, instead of squinting at a piece of fabric and lifting it up occasionally to work out where you were supposed to be drawing whilst not moving the picture underneath, you could have a much less stressful time, but such is life. I did the best I could do and tried not to freak out too much when a few lines weren't in the right places. I have to constantly remind myself that this is supposed to be artistic, I can do what I like, it doesn't matter if that raindrop is 2cm to the left or not.

What is most enjoyable about this kind of embroidery is that once the pattern had been traced, I was on my own to do what I wanted with it. This is still a little daunting for me, I struggle artistically, I'm not great at thinking things up on my own and choosing my own colours. I think that's why cross stitch appeals to me, everything is so much more ordered. Here, not only do I have to think about colours but I also have an unthinkably large amount of stitches on offer to me. It's almost too much!

But I knew straight away that I wanted to the umbrella to be a rainbow coloured one. It just seemed obvious to me, I couldn't have done it any other way. So after a quick consult of the embroidery thread box of dreams I was well on my way.

When I finished the umbrella (staying up far too late one night to do so because I was totally unable to put it down) I sat and stared at it for a good 10 minutes straight, feeling pretty damn pleased with myself because I thought it was so beautiful.

After that I was on my way and the process really took hold for me. Raindrops were completely as single big loopy stitches, secured at the bottom with one little stitch. I am sure there's a technical name for this stitch but I'll be damned if I know what it is.

Her jacket presented me with the opportunity to stick a new kind of stitch in so I went for some satin stitch on her lapels, buttons and pockets. Although I love that turquoise colour, I figured the coat would be too overpowering if it was all that colour (I think the umbrella needs to be the focal point) so I held myself back and just did a few simple stripes in purple.

I figured her dress had to be done in yellow because this is a springy kind of pattern - she is experiencing an April shower after all, and what could be more spring-like than a lovely lemon yellow dress?

I am absolutely loving watching this piece take form. I have been religiously taking photos as she progresses so I can compare them properly when I'm all done. And I have been a good girl and have been adding my photos to Feeling Stitchy's Embroidery pool on Flickr so they could see what people were up to with the pattern.

And this led to me becoming a famous person, when one of my photos was featured in a progress post on Feeling Stitchy earlier in the week. Fame! Amazing. There was my stuff on a real life blog about stitchy stuff. Amazeballs. That photo has now had over 150 views on Flickr which is, you know, freaking brilliant, it makes me feel popular and loved and I love a bit of that.

I've been beavering away on this when I can and will be taking more pictures (obvs) as I go along, ready to share with you in a later post when I'm all finished and will have officially completed my first little embroidery hanging to go on a wall somewhere. I have been keeping a track of the colours I've used along the way, just in case anyone would like to know (I'm pretty much a huge DMC whore you know) and I'll be including those in the final post.

Hurray for embroidery!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Duck Babies: One Week On

Gah. I have so much that I want to blog about but I don't seem able to find the time at the moment. I'll be honest, a lot of my blogging is done during work hours in those spare 5 minutes that I find throughout the day. (I don't beat myself up too much, do you know how much time some people spend taking fag breaks? I counted up 1 hour the other day - 1 whole hour of not doing work and giving yourself cancer instead. Well done.) However I've been a bit of an idiot. I kind of forgot that I'm not here the last week in April because I was a smug git and took the 3 days off between Easter and the Royal Wedding thinking I was acesome for getting 11 days off work for the price of 3. Whilst this is indeed brilliant, it's not so brilliant if you suddenly realise that you've lost a week's worth of work and you have two pieces of work that have to be done by the beginning of May. Cue panic. So there haven't been any spare 5 minutes during the day to get my thoughts together and my internet at home is so bad it's practically non-existent. Hence the lack of blogging.

Anyway. Whatevs.

This week I have mostly been spending my lunch breaks (and before work. Ok and after work) checking on my duck babies. I am protective of them it borders on the insane. There have been moments where I have panicked, seeing only a few babies on their own but I am pleased to report that all duck babies are present and accounted for and Mummy Duck is doing a pretty good job.

I feel bad for her though, because these guys are wilful little so-and-sos. They are seriously mega independent. They're not scared of anything, they're not phased by anything, they are happy to try and strike it out on their own. Whilst this is good it makes me nervous, I'd feel much happier if they just stayed on the lake away from people, but no, these guys like to go walkabouts...

I totally get why they call it goose-stepping now!

They march about like a little duck baby army, on the prowl for who knows what. I'm guessing food because their main hobbies appear to be eating and looking for things to eat.

It's hard to get all 10 of them in one picture. Mainly because they have a habit of spreading out and not keeping together which causes me great amounts of stress, why can't they just stick together if they're going to go wandering off? (Anyone else get the feeling I'm going to be the world's most over-protective mother?) But also because there always tends to be one guy who's left behind. I've decided it's the same one, it just has to be, I have nicknamed him Runty but I don't know if he is or not, he doesn't appear to be smaller than the rest of them, just more stupid.

Any time the duck babies are off on an adventure together you can hear an ear-piercing cheeping coming from the lake. Guaranteed it's Runty, who somehow didn't get the message about the family outing and decided to stay on the lake but then freaks out when he can't find anyone so swims about screaming for everyone to come back to him. They eventually come back to him or he finds them wherever they are on the lake and it all turns out well in the end but it does leave me worried for him sometimes.

Sometimes I go to the lake and there will only be a couple of babies and no sign of Mum and Dad and that kind of makes me want to reach for my phone immediately and call the RSPCA and get them to perform Duck Rescue 2011 but I try and remain calm. Mum Duck knows what she's doing, she'll come back.

If I get a little worried about them, like I did last night when there were 5 duck babies but no sign of anyone else anywhere, I went down to watch over them for a little while and reassure them (or realistically myself) that Mum and Dad will be back soon.

I would love to tell you that this story ends well but this is nature we're dealing with and, to be honest, she's kind of a bitch.

As of today there's only two duck babies remaining. We found the body of one close by but the other 7 are nowhere to be seen. Mum and Dad are near to the remaining babies but don't seem to be taking too much interest in them.

I know that these things happen and I have no idea how on earth seven of those duck babies have disappeared, the possibilities are endless and mostly unpalatable so I'm focusing very much on not thinking about them.

But I guess I should be happy I had a good week of duck babies in my life.

Damn you nature. Damn you!!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Yarn Fairy doth cometh

Oh my goodness that yarn fairy got well mad at me the other day. She said to me “It’s all good and well telling people about the yarn that you got for your birthday but you kind of forgot about the other yarn I got for you.”

I was muchly embarrassed because she is of course correct.

She did get me yarn a while ago and I did forget to tell people about it.

Sorry yarn fairy.

So yeah as you might remember I was telling you that the yarn fairy takes many forms. In the fair month of March (I know I know I should have mentioned this before now) I received a package in the post from the far off isle of America and inside this package was all manner of excitement from my good friend Miss American Girl.

Taking centre stage of all this excitement was a gift from the yarn fairy. It just so happens that when American Girl and American Boy took a new year trip to South America, they bumped into the yarn fairy in Argentina of all places and she asked them if they’d send some special wool to me.

You know what they have in Argentina? Motherfreaking alpacas. And the yarn fairy had selected some special skeins of alpaca wool to be sent to me as soon as conveniently possible.

They were special for a couple of reasons – 1. They were from far away and 2. They were my first ever skeins of wool. Normally the wool I buy is some little acrylic number that’s been nicely wound and packaged up for me in a lovely factory somewhere and it has a label on it that tells me what it is. This was just a huge pile of soft squishy yarn.

I had no idea how you go about making a skein into a ball. I left it in a bag for a while in the hope that it would figure itself out but for some reason it just lay there being all....skeiny. Eventually, with some advice from Mooncalf, and the aid of two dining room chairs, I figured out how you wind yarn. Turns out that yarn fairy wanted me to work for my special yarn package. Winding wool is really hard when you’ve never done it before. The first skein took hours (yes really) and involved multiple temper tantrums and hissy fits and at least one unconquerable knot.

However as time got on I got to be a bit more of an expert at it and I soon had my time knocked down (but it wasn’t exactly quick, I must be missing a trick somewhere) and could do a ball without having a nervous breakdown, although it should be noted that you can develop a bit of a bad back standing over two chairs and winding up.

The pay off was more than splendiferous though and I now have some lovely jubbly alpaca wool just begging to be made into something. The only thing is...I have no idea what to do with it. It’s much thinner than anything I’ve worked with before. I’ve been a double knit baby up until now but a quick trip to my local yarn shop to compare with some of their balls has revealed to me that this yarn is like a 3ply. A.k.a. super fine.

I don’t think a blanket would really be suitable and anyway did I or did I not say that I wanted to branch out with my crocheting this year? (I did, for the record) So I’m currently looking for a project suitable for my alpaca wool – I’m thinking maybe a shawl of some description? Anyone got any thoughts?

So apologies yarn fairy for forgetting to tell people about my special Argentinian wool. Do you forgive me?

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Duck babies

It’s been a long time since Duck Rescue 2009 (some would say as long as 2 years) but since then I’ve been fairly proprietorial of the lake and any feathered creatures that may reside on it.

That’s why I was so excited about the baby moorhens last year and I spent quite a lot of time checking up on them and making sure that they were well, watching them grow up into big boy and big girl moorhens. I was even there to capture their first experiences of snow and ice.

Alas last year there were no mallard babies. Just the moorhens, and whilst I was happy to watch over them, they were kind of ugly and weird looking and I missed the cute fluffy black and yellowness that you get with ducklings. I wondered if it maybe wouldn’t happen, maybe the Mallards knew that the lake wasn’t a good place to have babies?

It was sad thought.

For some reason I woke up on Friday in an outrageously good mood. Don’t get me wrong, all Fridays are good and I would like to extend my thanks to whoever gave them to us, but for some reason on this Friday I woke up and felt good.

Maybe it was the weather, I think it might be physically impossible to be in a bad mood at this time of year. It’s not too hot so you can’t get in a tizz with yourself and everywhere is just colourful and bursting with life. I’ll stop there because I’m starting to not really sound like myself and instead like someone rather annoying.

Whatever it was it was great to feel that way and at lunchtime I decided I would celebrate this Friday by going and getting a sandwich from my favourite place in town and sitting in Queen’s Gardens and reading my book and eating it. This sounds idyllic and for the most part it is – you just need to have the ability to block out the sight of pasty white man chests everywhere and have eyes in the back of your head to watch out for footballs coming at you from all angles (Queen’s Gardens is right next to a sixth form college).

I ate my sandwich, read some of my latest classic (Wuthering Heights baby!) and felt happy with myself.

But actually. I didn’t know happiness until the moment I turned around to face the lake and saw....

Motherfreaking ducklings!!

Not 1, not 2, not 5, not 7 but TEN of them. Fluffy. Yellow. Ducklings. And they have a Mum and a Dad. A perfect little duck family. Possibly a Mormon duck family judging by the number of offspring (I need to stop obsessing about Mormons).

These guys are amazing. Not only are they cute but they are independent little blighters, perfectly happy to go swimming off on their own, never straying too far away from Mum, but happy enough to grub about on their own and tackle some stray bread that was floating about.

I squeaked. I clapped my hands. I took photos (yes the water really is that green. I have no idea why, they only cleaned them out a couple of months ago). I rang people to let them know. I told everyone I came across in the building when I got back into work. It’s safe to say they made me happy.

But you do realise that this now means I have assumed responsibility of them. Those ducks are MY ducks and I will be keeping an overly close eye on them for the rest of spring, counting them daily and getting antsy whenever loud young people come too close to them. And I’m going to have the RSPCA on speed dial just in case.

Happy Spring everyone.

Friday, 8 April 2011

The Haul

My friends and family have done me proud this year and I could smoosh all their little faces if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m not good with touching people. Instead I will awkwardly pat them on the arm and say thank you.

I now have in my life a whole load of books – I have fiction, I have non-fiction, I have books about stitching and books about baking. I am booked out.

My love for the Royal Wedding has resulted in some unbelievably amazing presents – a whole load of Union Jack themed goodness for decorating the house for the big day and a mug and plate to commemorate the big day. (Man this tea party’s going to be good. Even if I am the only one there.)

And I finally, finally, have some decent trainers to go running in, instead of the 3 year old pair I was tramping about in. These, along with some busting tunes means that I will be back pounding the streets before you know it. Sorry Hull.

I will be able to ice like the best of them thanks to Dorothy who got me the most beautiful icing kit – expect pictures of beautiful (and more realistically not so beautiful) cupcakes and cakes as I get to grips with this bad boy.

My family and friends have heard my desperate pleas to buy clothes that fit me and I am now ready to shop – really looking forward to this – goodbye baggy work trousers! Hello....just....things that fit!

The people at work massively surprised me and got me a present, I wasn’t expecting anything at all. This is far far more than the usual bottle of wine or gift set from Lush (both of which I’d be bloody thrilled with mind you) they’d got me something really beautiful – a box which is more than just a box, it’s a box for secret things and you have to pull bits and slide things out to reveal two secret compartments. It’s so beautiful I felt quite overwhelmed to tell you the truth.

But that wasn’t all you know.

I was visited by the yarn fairy.

On Saturday morning there was a knock at the door. (It wasn’t the Yarn Fairy herself, but the Postman acting as a proxy.) I looked at the package and knew that I probably shouldn’t open it – it had my name on it but I haven’t bought anything for myself recently, why would the postman be bringing me things? Perhaps I should wait for 2 days and open it on the Monday on the actual day of my birth. But then I gave myself permission to open it because I had been off work ill and needed cheering up and also I figured that as I was going out that night it was technically sort of my birthday on Saturday as well (there’s always a means to justify something you know you shouldn’t do I find). As I opened the package my heart stopped a little bit. The Yarn Fairy had come.

Just look at what she brought me. Look at it all! Just look. Feast your eyes on the colours until you swoon with delight. I debated reaching for my hook to immediately begin rippling but decided to hold back. Just for now.

Now you may not know this but the Yarn Fairy does not reveal her true identity but instead manifests as all kinds of people. She appears as a different person to different people, it’s all very magical. My Yarn Fairy took the form of Heather from Little Tin Bird and I think we should all take a moment to sit back and marvel at the wonder that is her.

But that Yarn Fairy wasn’t done there you know. She visited me again on Monday – this time appearing to me as an old friend of my Mum’s and my Culture Friend (who I haven’t been cultured with lately, we should rectify that). And because the Yarn Fairy is so clever and wise, she arranged it so that the wool that my Mum’s friend gave me was not only pretty much the same yarn as Heather’s but also came in colours that could work pretty well with them.

And then, just for a bit of something different, she made sure that Culture Friend got me the softest, most amazingest wool ever. I might not even crochet with it, I might just keep it in my pocket and rub it on my face whenever I get stressed out. I’m only half joking here, it is like softer than all those similes about things being soft.

So not only can I now officially begin work on my ripple blanket and achieve one of my Not Really Resolutions, but I can start looking around for something else to crochet up, preferably something I can rub on my face frequently.

In short. Best haul of presents in a very long time. God I love birthdays. And nice people.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Weekend Review

Apologies for my brief absence, I was busy with all manner of birthday things and Mother’s Day things and then I got kind of a wanky comment on my Birthday Glut post that made me not really feel like blogging for a couple of days. (But I am taking it as a positive – if you start to get mean Anonymous comments I think that means your blog is getting out there and being seen by more people. But really, why would you take the time out of your life to be a bitch to someone you don’t even know? Just click on that little cross on the top right hand of the page and move on with your life.)


A lot happened this weekend. I try to steer away from “This is what I did this weekend” posts but I’m making an exception because it was kind of awesome.

Saturday was all kinds of awesome. As I said before, there’s a lot of birthdays this time of year (cue the song Summer Lovin’), and luckily enough for me my friend was born the day before me. This means that we get to do birthday nights out together which is always fun because a) it means at least one other person is definitely going to come out so you won’t be a total failure and b) you actually can end up looking very popular because two sets of friends come out, no-one needs to know that half of those people don’t know you.

It was your standard excellent night out – lots of drinking and even more dancing. Not cool dancing where you sway and pout your lips and try to look sexy, but dancing like you are slightly deranged. Maybe throwing in a few sub-standard street moves. Basically having a laugh. Not enough people are fun on a night out I’ve decided. I mean we’re all coupled off now – I say let’s make the most of it – we’re not out to pull, some poor unfortunate has already decided they love us, let’s make fools of ourselves! It’s not a mantra that many of my friends follow through to the degree that I do but at least I enjoy myself.

The Person knows how to have fun. That’s why I love him. He doesn’t care either so I had at least one person to be silly with. It’s ridiculous that he lives so far away you know.

I danced so much that my poor thighs haven’t let me hear the end of it since. Why go to the gym when you can just dance in heels? Seriously, best work out ever, although it has been a struggle going down stairs for the past few days.

Sunday was time to go into dutiful daughter mode. That is incredibly difficult when you’re pretty sure your head is going to explode and your poor body is at pains to remind you that you’re only a couple of day off 28 and can’t behave like the weirdo that you did the night before. I spent the day in the kitchen, making stuff for the Mother’s Day dinner round at Mum’s. I figured it was easier to make it at mine and then transport it over to be heated up.

On the menu? Curry shepherd’s pie with chilli and mango chutney mash. It’s freaking lovely and I could eat it all day every day. And I also made a rhubarb cheesecake which was so delicious that I thought I had died and gone to rhubarb heaven. I love these dishes because I now know that they taste very good and impress people and yet are so easy to make you can do it when extremely hungover. (I should develop a symbol in my recipe folder that denotes meals that can be made when hungover – perhaps it would take the form of a wine glass or a party hat.) Anyway most importantly maximum Best Daughter in the World points were earned and that’s all that matters right? Oh yeah and Mum had a good day blah blah blah.

Monday was the day that this person turned one whole year older. 28. Who’d have thunk it? There were presents and cards - Fred even put himself in a gift bag for me, such a lovely boy.

Unfortunately I soon realised that my expert planning skills had failed me somewhat and I hadn’t planned to do anything for my actual birthday. Other than take the day off work there was nothing lined up. There was the opportunity for me to go to Hornsea for the day with my Mum and her friend but I just couldn’t face doing it....

“What did you do for your 28th birthday?”

“Oh I went to Hornsea with my 65 year old mother and her friend.”

I just couldn’t I’m afraid so I went home and did a whole lot of nothing, which was actually kind of nice. I felt like I should have been doing something much more spectacular and I think it felt odd because what with using up annual leave and having to take time off sick I’ve been sitting at home quite a bit lately, but it was nice nonetheless. Then it was back to Mum’s for birthday risotto and leftover rhubarb cheesecake. Win.

I got a rather splendiferous haul of presents which I do want to talk to you about but fear I have bored you enough already.

If only all weekends could be this good.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Project 365: A look back at March

Hurray! I am officially a quarter of the way through the year – this both pleases and horrifies me. Pleases in the sense that I can feel a sense of achievement at keeping up with taking a photo every day and horrifies in the sense that...you know...it’s April already.

This month hasn’t been too bad actually, I’ve accepted that some days, it’s going to be kind of rubbish photo but sometimes my life really isn’t that interesting. Unbelievable I’m sure, but true.

Anyway, the round up of this month’s photos follows:

02/03 – My bed – I love this picture of my bed in all its fairy-lit and crocheted goodness. Sometimes there is nothing better than getting in your own bed – this feels strange in a way because I’d been away at my Mum’s all week with the house to myself, it’s not like I needed peace, I had a whole house, but I needed my bed.

14/03 – Sunny morning – I love this photo because even though it was crazily cold that day, frost on the cars and sparkling pavements, it did feel like Spring – if only because it’s properly daylight now when I’m walking to work. I just think it’s beautiful.

16/03 – Major fog – And this was a mere 2 days after the beautiful morning in the above picture. How can 2 mornings, so close together be so different? This fog was pretty full on, I could hear the fog horns from my bedroom in the dead of night and they’re a long long way away and this fog didn’t really clear all day. I have to confess that I caught the bus in to work this morning because the fog kind of scared me and I didn’t want to walk through the park. I know. I’m ridiculous.

20/03 – Mr X Stitch stand at the Stitch & Craft exhibition – Also known as The Best Weekend Ever. I got to meet real life famous people in the form of Mr X Stitch and Emily Peacock and I helped other people cross stitch, it was brilliant.

25/03 – Drunk – This makes me laugh whenever I see it. It reminds of being with The Person for the first time in a month, it reminds me of sunny days sitting in the park and mostly it’s just hilarious. I have to almost admire someone who can pass out like that and still keep their can upright.

28/03 – Maud – Look at her gorgeous little face. And how much of a sunny/spring/summer/awesomeness mood is there about it? This was the first day of the year that I hung my washing out on the line which I felt was a worthy occasion to mark (ok, so it didn’t really get warm enough to properly dry it, but the sentiment was there). Maud was very happy because she loves the outdoors and wants everyone else to love it too – she chatters away to you when you go outside and likes to hang about and keep an eye on what you’re doing.


I’m ready for April – how many photos of blossom is considered too many photos of blossom?....

Friday, 1 April 2011

The Birthday Glut

I think I’m going to start a new tradition. As surely as day follows night and daffodils will bloom and David Cameron will have a big smug face then I am going to complain about my birthday. It’s just going to happen. I can try and fight it and keep quiet but the Selfish Brat won’t let me.

Really I’m not complaining about my birthday – I’m complaining about the fact that everyone else was born at the same time.

Seriously, you ask anyone and I would put money on it that they will know at least one person who was born at the end of March/beginning of April. I don’t know what it’s about but it’s kind of a fact. As in a fact that’s not really a fact, it’s just something that I’m saying is a fact. I could do research but that’s just taking things a step too far isn’t it?

Last year I got the hump because stupid Easter fell on the day of my birthday. I was most disgruntled about it and wrote a post about it on my old blog. (This is worth another look, if only to read the last comment which came at the end of January, so only 8.5 months late, and entirely managed to miss the massive tongue in cheek nature of the post. I almost deleted it when it came through but felt it had to stay there because it only highlighted the idiocy of  Mr/Mrs Anonymous)
This year Easter has left me well and truly alone although Mother’s Day has raised its ugly head, falling on the day before my birthday. I don’t mind being nice to my Mum for the day, although she may have to accept that I’ll be doing it with more than a trace of a hangover, having gone out the night before to celebrate my birthday.

It’s just so freaking expensive, that’s what’s annoying about it. After being paid on 21st March I promptly had to buy for:

- Youngest nephew – March 24th
- Dorothy – March 27th
- Middle nephew – April 1st
- Friend’s birthday and Mother’s Day – April 3rd
- Brother-in-law – April 4th (same day as me. I ask you, would it have killed her to fall in love with someone who wasn’t born on the same day as her sister? Some people are just so selfish.)
- Eldest nephew – April 5th

Surely there’s some kind of human rights violation going on here? Seven presents?! There must be some archaic law that states that you only have to pay for a certain number of presents within a certain period of time?

By the time my birthday comes around I will of course be ridiculously over-excited (what age does that stop by the way?) but also sad because I know that not only will I have the post-birthday come-down, but I won’t be able to buy anything to cheer myself up until April 21st and the next payday.

I was talking about having all these birthdays at this time of year and someone suggested that I don’t buy for some of the people – I explained that as all but two of the presents were for family this wasn’t the best idea. But then I thought, maybe next year I could put all those names in a hat and then draw a couple out and those are the only people I buy for that year. I could be on to something here...