Sunday, 30 December 2012

There are worse things ...

... than being ill over Christmas . Coming downstairs after having been ill for several days is one of them . There's greasy KFC bucket , empty thankfully, sitting by the back door. Not many of their 5 a day in that.

The starched white tablecloth that adorned the Christmas table is now unrecognisably stained , but nobody knows where the washing machine is located . The grocery delivery that I had the foresight to order to arrive on the 29th is sitting in disarray on various kitchen worktops. Thankfully the ice cream was put away in the freezer ... no wait ... the empty tubs are in the living room.

The Christmas tree looks droopy , unloved and unlit. The cat seems to have resorted to eating the bread that was put out on Christmas Day for the birds. The fridge is empty.

Think I may just go back to bed.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Clinical Trials

You know those drug company ads you hear on the radio , favoured by the permanently skint or overdrawn students, asking for volunteers for clinical trials to test new cold remedies ? I have a suggestion for them. If they want to target their audience more precisely just wait until Christmas when all they need do is round up a few hundred Mums who'll have been staving of the germs right up to the finishing line of Christmas day only to succumb on Boxing Day to the mother of all lurgies which will wipe them out until New Years Day and possibly beyond.

They'll be upstairs in a darkened room sweating it out , abandoned and feverish. Not even a boxful of Lemsip washed down with a swig of Baileys will wipe the smile of this virus. That reminds me of this brilliant sketch ...

I've finally surfaced from my sick bed and will now be venturing downstairs to see what sort of bomb has gone off. Sense of humour .. if not well-being , is gradually returning.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

'Twas the Week Before Christmas ...

... and all through the house
were a pile of wet trainers
and the cat's half-chewed mouse.

Version One

Five sleeps until Christmas and the presents are carefully wrapped awaiting eager opening on Christmas morning when I'll waft through the house in my silky, chiffon, Christmas, Nicole Fahri outfit ( size 8 ) with a glass of Bolly spiced with freshly squeezed clementine juice in my manicured hand, as my husband bastes the organic goose and my teenagers help to wash up the lobster ravioli dishes from last night's impossibly hip little spontaneous gathering of beautiful people .

Version Two

Five sleeps until Christmas and the smell of last night's oven chips is still clinging to the untouched pile of laundry in the kitchen whilst I , on my hand and knees , attempt to scrub the cat's pee out of the hallway carpet with my husband's toothbrush. The teenagers are annihilating another gang of blood-thirsty zombies on the X Box and I'm still in my grubby fleece PJs , the ones with a hole in the arse.

I'll let you choose which one is true. I have though just read the first few pages of January's Ideal Flipping Perfect Home magazine though, as I sluttishly ate the last of the Quality Street toffee pennies in bed for breakfast this morning. Their editor tells me that in her little world "All is calm , all is bright " and that she's about to traipse out into the forest at 6.30 am for a brisk and frosty dawn walk , treading on a pristine sheet of fresh snow. I'm wondering if her address reads No 1. LaLa Avenue.

OK , now she's crunching along under bare trees, where high above her, clusters of berried mistletoe fill the branches. Later on , page 25 in fact, she's closing her front door , shutting out the noise and finding that instantly all is calm. La La Avenue must be located in a parallel universe far, far from humanity.

I'm wondering if there's a handy hints column on the back page with homely tips on how to remove the smell of cat's pee from seagrass carpet. Now that would be useful.

Friday, 14 December 2012

I'm so in love with my Cameo

I've been Christmas crafting now the boys have broken up from school and college and there are no more school runs or homework to worry about . Lunch is a moveable feast and the X Box is their guilty pleasure ( and mine ... not playing on it but letting them ) . Some of the Christmas chocolate has been broken open, countered by the occasional satsuma and we're already on our second tub of brandy butter .

I used to make the mistake of leaving all the goodies until Christmas day and beyond but it makes more sense to spread the carbohydrate love around a little earlier and enjoy it all for longer. So whilst youngest son has been downstairs massacring the global zombie population and eldest has been upstairs facebooking for England , I've been tucked away creating little items of loveliness such as this ...

and these .... my Christmas cards

and this .....

All made with my Cameo. Is there anything this wonder machine can't do ? I bought the frosted glass vinyl and the transfer paper from Crafts U Love , which makes projects like these a breeze. I don't think the photo above does it justice. I bought the hurricane lamp vase and candle from Homebase for £5 . The addition of the deer and some star trees transform it into a delightful gift but I'm not sure I can part with it now.

I love the  " Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night " phrase but hadn't realised , as it's adhered to my craft room window , that Santa will only be able to read  " thgin doog a lla ot dna lla ot samtsirhC yrreM" as he flies by . Hey ho ho ho .... or should that be oh oh oh ?

Thursday, 29 November 2012

This Cake is to Die For

Courtesy of The Hummingbird Cafe's Cake Days cookbook, I attempted a boozy chocolate cake for my son's 18th , made with Guinness. Oh Boy .

I can vouch for keeping it in the fridge so that it takes on an almost fudge like consistency.

Chocolate Guinness Cake

250ml Guinness
250g unsalted butter
80g cocoa powder
400g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
140ml buttermilk
280g plain flour
2 tspm bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

50g unsalted butter
300g icing sugar
125g soft cream cheese
cocoa powder for dusting

  • Oven Gas Mark 3 or 170 C / 325 F
  • Pour the Guinness into a saucepan with the butter and melt
  • Remove from heat and stir in cocoa and sugar
  • Mix eggs , vanilla and buttermilk in a separate bowl then add to the pan
  • Sift remaining dry ingredients and place in a  mixer bowl
  • Add contents of saucepan and using the paddle attachment or a hand held whisk , mix on slow speed
  • Pour batter into 9" springform cake tin - I baked mine for 45 mins but keep an eye on it after 30'
  • For the frosting just mix everything together until smooth
  • Smother your cake in the stuff ( I actually made double quantity ) 
  • Sprinkle with cocoa powder then refridgerate
My son confessed to not really liking cakes ( can he really be my son ?)  but loved this one. Maybe the alcoholic content helped. I was tempted to bung the empty Guinness bottle in the middle for a laugh - maybe next time and there will SO be a next time. I'm off for a slice now .

The photo doesn't show off the cake to its best advantage but it shows off my lovely boy's gorgeous smile and who cares what the cake looks like - the proof of the pudding and all that.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


It would be tempting to do the schmalzy " Now that you're a man ... " type blog entry to celebrate my eldest son's 18th birthday but as that's not my style , I offer you my alternative take - on the theme of survival.

I'm A Mother , Get Me Out of Here

18 helpful hints on how to survive motherhood from birth to 18 :

1. Forget the Pre-Nup agreement with your other half. When you're pregnant with Number One,  get a lawyer to draw up an infallible list of sleeping entitlement and chore assignment.

2. Assume , if you have boys, that they will hate all ball sports . That way if they use the goalposts as monkey bars during their first footie match or score a try ( for the other side ) in their first rugby match you will not be disappointed. Thank your lucky stars that you will not be standing on the touchline, or whatever it's called, shouting like a fishwife.

3. Buy 3 of every item of school uniform because the first 2 will be lost within a week of starting school. On that note , buy iron in name-tapes. No-one likes a martyr.

4. Buy all alcohol by the case. Cheaper in the long run . Let's face it , a bottle of wine never goes off and it will save draining the last dregs, in a moment of desperation,  of a bottle of that ill-advised holiday purchase of a bottle of  Limoncello.

5. Keep Packets of Nurofen by the bedside ( see above )

6. Assume that if you get ill , your husband / partner will too and his symptoms will be far worse than yours and doubtless warrant a week's bed-rest whilst you soldier on.

7. Hide all bottles of food colouring. They will prove irresistible to curious boys . I can still picture that day at the school gates, watching my son's entire class emerge wearing green stained shirts with the sound of " Mrs F ... can I have a word " from the class teacher ringing in my ears.

8. Keep all old tea towels. At some stage in your son's dramatic acting career he will be cast as a shepherd in he Nativity play and you will not want to fashion a suitable head-dress , with less than 24 hours notice, from your favourite Cath Kidston. Know also that if given a toy sheep to hold as a prop , your son will attempt to BBQ it on the orange cellophane Nativity fire, around which your angelic shepherd will be seated.

9. Parents Evening - I'd really rather not go there .... literally.

10. Don't bother choosing nice carpet. You won't see it for the next few years . It will be buried under a pile of primary coloured plastic and lego bricks ( on the subject of the latter, always wear slippers when negotiating a lego strewn floor - ever stepped on a brick in bare feet ? You'll know what I mean ) . If you must have a floor covering - choose the natural fibre stuff that can hide a crushed packet of digestives with ease although bear in mind that vomit removal requires a toothpick .

11. Birthday parties - someone will always cry or be sick or both. Don't book clowns they're just too weird and preferably hold them some place other than your home.

12. Learn to love your washing machine . You will spend more time in its company than your husband - maybe no bad thing and possibly better company. Whilst you make one sweater last for three outings all other members of your family will seemingly change their outfits twice a day. Buy industrial quantities of washing powder and not the liquid capsules which your naughty boy will sneak into school for amusement value  ( " Mrs F .. can I have a word " )

13. When crossing school playgrounds, walk quickly and if you hear the words " Mrs F .... can I have a word ? " feign deafness and run very fast.

14. Exam revision - it won't happen. You can draw up revision timetables to your heart's content but they will remain pristine and untouched for the duration of exam week and thereafter.

15. Homework - see above . Also , buy shares in CGP. Parents will know what this stands for although I'm darned if I do even after all these years and I've read a few in my time . Understand that comments such as " Why can't you help him with his Physics homework - you did it for A Level "  aimed at your spouse will fall on deaf ears and you will have to become an expert on Kinetic Energy and Wave Theory regardless.

16. Avoid anything to do with the PTA unless you believe that the school will be so pitifully grateful for your Christmas Fair / Book Sale / Quiz NIght help that they cannot possibly entertain the idea of expelling your child from school for minor misdemeanors such as bringing bottle of green food colouring into school .

17. Smoking . It will happen. Your teenager might even take it up too.

18. Enjoy the ride . Thankfully it doesn't last forever . When they reach eighteen you will just about have got used to whatever fresh new hell presents itself along the way and then they'll leave home and you won't know what to do with yourself apart from drain the last of the dregs of that bottle of Limoncello and maybe sew in a few name-tapes for old times' sake.

Happy Birthday Love

Thursday, 22 November 2012


Funny how trends come and go. A decade ago I wouldn't have been seen dead with a pot of glitter in my hand but now I can't get enough of it. Maybe it's an antidote to the economic gloom and dark nights or maybe I'm just transported back to my childhood when Christmas came accompanied by a healthy dollop of the stuff. Christmas cards and advent calendars would be festooned with it . I can even remember the smell of it in its little glass red rubber- stoppered phial , that and the aroma of 'gloy' which would be used to transform the toilet roll tube choir boys with the ping-pong heads. Happy days.

I was therefore more than happy to spend an evening surrounded by the stuff last night at Attic - my favourite shop's Christmas shopping evening. If Santa's reading this - one of everything please. In fact , better still, I may just dispatch the boys there one weekend to choose for me. Even if you blundered around the shop blindfold ( not suggesting that they do of course ) - whatever you laid your hands on would be beautiful. The knitted tree in the background came from Next but the other lovelies are all from Attic.

I remember my mother having an ancient tin of christmas cake decorations which came out year after year which included plaster santa figures and bottle brush trees just like the ones below. If we were lucky they'd still be encrusted with the previous year's icing which we would nibble. I don't think salmonella had been invented back then.

Thursday, 15 November 2012


Welcome to a new feature on my blog ... WILT .

This is a FLA ( four letter abbreviation ) for the phrase ... What I've Learnt Today

WILT for Thursday 15th November

If I lived on the moon I would weigh about 1/6 of what I weigh on earth ... in Newtons or something. Therefore I am moving to the moon. Unfortunately my mass according to my son's GCSE revision book would remain the same. My mass is the 'stuff' I'm made of , in my case fat , lard , marshmallow and the 4 mini mince pies I had for lunch. This is not a compelling enough argument to persuade me to move to the moon although it would enforce a rather strict diet regime as there would be no Dominos Pizza delivery service or fish and chip shops. Presumably I would have to eat moon dust and leftover NASA space probes.

I am 'helping' youngest son to revise Physics. I could re-write that last sentence as shouting at youngest son for making me speed read the CGP revision book for Physics GCSE because he should know this by now hence the word 'revision'.

I am running on empty after an exhausting week of helping other people's children ( other than my own ) to pass their exams. The next formula I must learn is Work Done ( Joules ) = Force x Distance. I will be calculating this as the work done in lifting a large glass of red wine from the table to my mouth , a distance of some 20cms. I Have no idea how many Joules this might involve and nor do I care at this stage.

Anyone else surviving exam week ?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Sneak Peek

For those of you coming to Eastbourne or are just plain nosy , here is a tantalisingly small sneak peek of the layout I'll be sharing with you. Well I wouldn't want to give too much away now would I ?

I must still be in my Farrow and Ball phase but I may just add a pop of colour between now and the weekend just to break out of my comfort zone. It's still a work in progress so anything could appear .. or disappear from it in the next couple of days . At some stage of course I'll just have to start sticking things down. Hope you like.

Friday, 26 October 2012

My Happy Thoughts - A Pop-Up Book

How on earth did this project come about ? Well, if you go on over to UK Scrappers you’ll see there’s a cybercrop underway and ( never one to resist a challenge ) I decided to buy the mystery kit and see what might happen. Once the Pandora’s Box had been opened, for some unfathomable reason, the contents shrieked “POP - UP “ at me and there was no going back !  And so began to story of “ My Happy Thoughts “

The papers were quite graphic and yet I was feeling in a sort of misty mellow fruitfulness ( apologies to Keats ) kind of mood. There was one paper at least that was brambly and Autumnal and that was my inspiration. A collection of my favourite happy quotes and thoughts forested from my collection sprung to mind and so the concept was born.

Where the pop-up idea came from, I have no idea but I’ve always been fascinated by paper engineering and the cleverness of it all. I can’t claim any credit for my clumsy attempts but I had a go.

Armed with a pair of scherenschnitte scissors that I’d bought in Switzerland on holiday where they have perfected the art over the centuries and some black cardstock, I started to fashion a few trees, a woodland cottage and a little window that reminded me of Hansel and Grettel’s cottage. 

I didn’t ever think I was going to finish it in time for the submission deadline as I could have gone on forever but mercifully I was limited by the contents of the kit. I’m happy to report that I used absolutely everything. 

It’s a little whimsical which is not really my style but its nice to break out of your comfort zone now and then.

You know how you get so far into a project and then you think ... my goodness I wish I’d never started this ? WEll, I have to admit like feeling like this when I was about half way through . I couldn’t see a way out of it , I had to keep going . Admittedly now I’ve finished it , I’m mightily glad I stuck with it as it’s kept me out of mischief for at least a week.

Incidentally, the title alone was a little ironic , especially as I was going through hell and back with eldest teen at the time although as my introductory page explains ... 

“ ... happy thoughts ... to get you through the tough times “

Might as well put it to the test. I’m still smiling, so it looks like it night have worked. And anyway there’s nothing guaranteed to make you laugh more than dealing with a teen-related crisis whilst grappling with the mechanics of a pop-up plastic pennant. Kind of puts life in perspective !

Hope you like it . 

And here is kitten Jack helping out !

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Procrastination and De-cluttering ...

... sounds like the name of a crusty old tax accountant's firm and well may it . They're both as appealing . At the beginning of the year I downloaded a calendar which suggests daily de-cluttering deeds. In January it was a God-send , by February it was becoming a slight irritation and by March, a downright nag.

To make matters worse , I'd subscribed to the  email updates which would chastise me daily with a reminder as to how nice could have been if only I'd followed their advice.

Time for a spot of procrastination. It runs in our family . The boys are masters at the art but only with regards to homework. How was I supposed to clear out my 'hutch'  (which apparently is a dresser or something in US Speak and not a home for bunnies ) when I didn't have one ? Why would anyone want to de-lint their dusters when you could buy those disposable jobs from the supermarkets. There's something weirdly satisfying but also alarming about the way they gather up a year's dust in a matter of seconds.

It is now October and my hutches remain uncleared, my dusters are still lint-laden and my 'basement' ( do all American homes have to have these or something and is there a law against building a house without one ? ) remains untouched. Time to bin the calendar or better still hit the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the daily digests ? I did the latter . They made the mistake of asking me why I wished to unsubscribe and so I did but the little box with space for a short sentence was woefully inadequate and so my response got sent half way through my rant which must have been puzzling for them as if I'd been stuck down mid- sentence by an errant broom falling from a still-cluttered cupboard.

My mother , God rest her soul , had a strange habit which she used to inflict on my sister and I , on a seasonal basis. With the benefit of hindsight , I now realise that this was an early manifestation of the madness which was raging inside her. We would come home from school and find , in the middle of our bedroom floors, the entire contents of every piece of furniture from wardrobes to bedside tables , bookshelves and desks. You name it . it had been emptied. Books, clothes, toys ( and later make-up , tights and go-gos or whatever was the rage back in the 60's ) would be piled up in a bonfire-like structure in the centre of the room. A sacrificial mound of 'stuff ' . We would heave a heavy sigh , shed a tear or two and then spend the rest of the evening setting about the task of returning every last item to its respectful place.

I like to think of it fondly now as the invention of de-cluttering which was only to become a national obsession in the 90's when we all ran out of space , following the Thatcher boom years of consumerism. No doubt a post-grad student has written a thesis about the phenomenon. We will probably find it has been categorised as an Olympic sport by 2016 with the Americans as potential gold medal winners .   My Mum was always ahead of her years.

So , the calendar is still magnetised to the fridge,  the pile of ironing I did last week is still at the bottom of the stairs and my husband's 'manpile' of pocket detritus is still splayed across the kitchen worktops . Some things never change.

Today's entry for the 20th October reads " Clear out your reference files . Best done whilst watching the TV or with Music. "  I would edit this to " best done with a bottle of wine " but then they may never get cleared out , more like wiped out or binned. So . I have no idea what they mean by 'reference' files. Hurrah another de-clutter free day.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Little Rolls of Loveliness

They come in many different colours, they breed like rabbits ... well at £2 a pop they're very affordable so my collection is growing exponentially and they're called Washi Tapes.

Trouble is you can't hide them in a drawer or put them in a box, you have to display them beautifully so that they're only ever an arm's length away. I came across this today and it screamed BUY ME as I laid eyes on it .

Want to see it unwrapped ?

Want to see it filled ?

It is THE perfect size and holds 40 rolls which now means of course that I won't be able to buy any more, unless of course my lovely embossed tin container finds a mate and starts breeding like a rabbit !

You can find them here online or better still pay them a visit . I guarantee you will be entranced by every item in the shop . I defy anyone to cross the threshold and come away empty handed !

The Interior Designers of the Bird World

The Bower Bird was brought to my attention by a book I saw for sale in a local shop ( that's worthy of a whole new post ) . Intrigued, I had to go and investigate and found this video on You Tube. Oh my word , if you have a minute it's really worth a viewing. I won't spoil the surprise but suffice to say , this bird has style and what a sweetheart ... all that effort .

Monday, 8 October 2012

To all my Blog readers ...

.... apart from those who are spamming my blog , apologies but I've had to disable comments as I seem to have been hi-jacked by a flow of anonymous cowards who have bee posting comments and clogging up my blog . I don't know who any of these people are and I've now deleted them but presumably the low-lifes just go round blanket posting on blogs worldwide in order to promote their companies. Desperate measure and rather pathetic on their part. I do hope they all go out of business very soon and then comment enabling will resume.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Feed Burner

I've no idea what it means but it sounds very dramatic. Maybe it's something to do with calories or some agricultural procedure that involves setting light to cornfields.

There's a whole lexicon of jargon out there which makes me feel, rather inadequately, that I might be missing out on something fabulously clever or life enhancing or empowering.

As I write this , I'm staring at a word in the "Post Settings" column which simply says Permalink. I'm tempted to click on it and see if it transports me to a reassuring place where everything joins together nicely and forever. I just did and now I'm confused as I have to choose between Automatic or Custom . Who knows what might irrevocably happen if I make the wrong choice.

Slightly more sinister is the little screen that pops up and let's me know that someone or something out there wants to 'use my location' I'm not sure whether to be worried that my whereabouts are about to be exposed.

And then there's the cosy and inviting message that talks about cookies as if it knows my weakness.

Serves me right for entering blogland blissfully unaware of the perils and pitfalls that would bombard me along the way. But I'm about to put all that right by attending something called Blogfest in a trendy bar in London some time in November - no I'm not withholding the date and location intentionally - I just can't remember the details. Lots of very clever people will be there who can enlighten me on Burnt Location Cookies and Permafrost Post Settings.... hopefully.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The C Word

Yes it's that time of year again. No sooner has the credit card cooled down from the excess of Autumn term's new uniform and school shoes, along comes a whole new shopping opportunity beginning with C.

I'm not mentioning it by name , you all know what I'm talking about. Is it me or has it all become too much, too soon ? I used to be a big fan of the whole shebang but age has made me cynical .

So , this year it's going to be different . I'll be making my own C cards in very limited numbers ( always promised , never actually managed ). I shall be dispensing with the gluttonous trolley loads of C food ( with the exception of the wine of course ) that start piling up from the1st December and booking a local eatery instead for the day itself. I will also be turning down all C related invitations , especially those including reference to the word 'party' , with the exception of those with small amounts of true friends and/or involving alcohol. I will be refusing to be sucked into the whole C shopping fiasco, choosing instead to shop wisely online for immediate family only.

This is my plan. Whether I stick to it remains to be seen . Check back on december 26th and see if I managed to see it through.

What will you be doing differently this year ? I'd love to hear.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Back in the saddle

Feels like ages since I've designed a class so it's good to be working the grey matter again and putting together a class for our crop retreat at Eastbourne.

Thought I'd whet your appetite and give you a sneak peek of a few of the items I'll be using . This isn't a definitive snap of everything but just a smattering of some of the detail ... wouldn't want to give too much away now would I ?

Talking of saddles , just brushing up the finishing touches to my outfit for the 'Wild West" Saturday night . If anyone has a pair of leather chaps they could lend ?

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Another Year ...

... as the title of my blog proclaims ... yet another year has bitten the dust . I said goodbye to my 53rd year yesterday and waved my 54th year over the threshold.

Hmmm .... 54 - not a bad number I suppose and being a mathematician made me think up the following :

2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10 = 54

There are 54 cards in a pack of playing cards ( including the jokers)

There are 54 squares on a Rubik's cube

Monday, 24 September 2012

Ally Pally Haul

I always love seeing what others have bought , so I thought I'd share a pic of what I picked up at the Scrapbooking show at Alexandra Palace on Saturday. Apologies for the rubbish photo but it's so dull outside today and I hate using flash.

An eclectic little pile . I was tickled pink to find the McGill tab punch which I've been hunting for years ( and reduced ) at Scrapshed's stand ! Bought the holly punch as it was only £1 , form the Everything a Pound stand -  can never resist a bargain.

You can just see the duck egg blue ( my all time favourite colour ) cardstock peeking out top left corner - 50 sheets of A4 for only £3 another bargain.

Not many papers to choose from but did find a few lovelies on Sugar and Spice's stand. Arrow stamps reduced to £7.50 courtesy of Scrapshed , my favourite charcoal chalk ink for a pound and a woodgrain Kaisercraft stamp for £2.99 .

Also delighted to find the new metalic Distress Stains on Artistic Stamper's stand plus the embossing dabber.

Also bought a roll of Prima washi tape ( can never have enough ) , a hexagon template and some heart shaped gems and chandelier drops. Lord only knows what I'll use them on but you never know when you might need one.

With a name like Gin and Tonic , I also had to buy the Indigo Blu gilding flakes and the Flitter Glu to stick them to the paper from Samuel Taylor's stand. I may use these at a class I'm doing in November.

Can't show you the rest as it's for the Advent Swap we do at our crop - so that would be giving the game away.

All in all a lovely day out , all the lovelier for being able to share the day with my buddies Kate and Emma and rounded off with our Gin and Tonic ritual out on the terrace admiring the skyline of London in the Autumn sunshine.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Work is so much lovelier ...

... when you have beautiful stationery on your desk . With this sentiment in mind, I felt justified in spending a teensy amount of money - well, teensy relative to the joy they will bring.

When they arrived this morning, my day was instantly brightened and I almost expected them to fly out of the packaging.

If you're coveting them already, you can buy them from an online eBay store called The Journal Shop . I may have to go there in person, as they're only in Ealing, and see for myself how beautiful their notebooks would look alongside my feathered friends.

Friday, 14 September 2012


... as the Americans call it or Stay at Home Mum as we Brits prefer . That's what I am . I'm trying to think of an alternative translation of those initials. Maybe - Sanity Altering Hateful Menopause might be more appropriate.

So, the dust has settled on the unpacked holiday suitcases, the flip- flops have been consigned to the cupboard under the stairs until next year and the school term is in full ( ish ) swing. That means one thing ... homework and lots of it. I know a lot more about the negative effects of tourism on the human geography of the Inca Trail in Maccu Picchu than I did last night and I also now realise that not sending in the rugby kit on a Wednesday was a BIG no-no. I have been conscripted to bake cakes for the Autumn Fair next weekend ( hurrah ) but have had to stump up a large wodge of cash for a French trip next Spring term ( boo ) .

School life has a momentum all of its own, punctuated by lesson-free half terms, peppered with the odd piano lesson or latest free-time whim and  sleep-in weekends. Talking of which, my new most hated newspaper article is the one where childless couples talk of Saturday Brunch at the Savoy and lazy Sunday lunches at Boutique hotels, followed by labrador walks and country pubs before heading home to London to park their Porsche in their Mayfair Mews. Don't these people realise what they're missing ? What self-respecting Sunday night would be complete without a search for the elusive PE kit that's festering in the bottom of a muddy sports bag , a row about undone homework and a scrabble for an empty shoebox and a green ( must be green ) pipe-cleaner required for Monday morning's art class ?

So my new acronym for SAHM could be ... Sunday Always Heralds Mayhem.

Monday, 3 September 2012

College Boy

Well , he started this morning . I'd like to say it went without a hitch . He diligently set his alarm last night for 8 O Clock  .... shame it was 8 pm instead of 8 am. I was tempted to let him find out the hard way but couldn't allow myself to let him sleep in and be late. So here he is , setting off to a whole new world. If he was nervous , he didn't show it . My big boy now . And the bonus is ... I didn't have to sew in a single name tape

Sunday, 2 September 2012

This cake , in numbers ...

850 : Grams of sugar in recipe

8 :        Hours to make

:       Freshly laundered, white, school shirts smeared with chocolate accidentally whilst making, thereby requiring re-laundering

4:        Attempts to soften frosting to usable consistency after refrigerating

700 : Approximate calories per ( small ) slice

15 :    New swear words invented during preparation

3 :       Trips to supermarket to purchase forgotten ingredients

133 : Page number of Hummingbird Bakery " Cake Days" cookery book containing recipe      so that you can rip it from the book and discard forever

1 :      Layer dropped on kitchen floor whilst removing from oven

9 :      Minutes taken to devour

10 :     Reasons ( see above) to  never, ever, ever attempt to make this cake

Thursday, 30 August 2012

V Proud Mummy

My eldest passed ALL of his GCSEs - have to allow myself a quick boast here ....

We've been on tenterhooks all summer but at last the dreaded envelope arrived last Friday when we were away on holiday . Had to wait until he phoned us , en route home from Switzerland , with the news.

2 A's  , 3 B's and 4 C's  . Over the moon !!  

This was no easy feat for him as he's struggled at school from day one and has spent the last
4 years at a Special School where the teachers , finally , were able to give him the support and assistance he needed. It's been one hell of an uphill climb but the mountain was worth conquering and now he can admire the view from the top .

Well Done my love.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Holiday Deja Vu

I'm pretty sure I could just cut and paste my holiday review each year as it tends to be identical and it goes something like .....

Laundry , packing, more laundry , drive , drive, drive, are we there yet ? arrive , eat too much, drink too much, more packing, drive ,drive,drive, are we home yet , unpacking, more laundry and so it goes .

Although this year we had a whole new layer of holiday hell - Chicken pox , or as I now know what that is in Swiss German - Windpocken . Youngest son went down with it on day 3. Most of my holiday spenders went on the Swiss equivalent of calamine lotion and antihistamine ... oh and we spent the best part of the week in solitary confinement playing cards and doing jigsaw puzzles. It was the one occasion in my life when I found myself praying for the distraction of an X Box for my poor boy.

The scenery remained achingly beautiful and the lake water just as icy as it ever was - a good antidote for the itching . Although I then had to go in too and at one point , thought I'd died of the cold. The lake is fed from melted water from the glaciers of the Eiger and Jungfrau - enough said.

Still, it could have been worse , I could have gone down with it too . Now I come to mention it , I do have a rather itchy spot on my back .

Monday, 13 August 2012

Last day ...

... of the Olympics , so in my attempt to continue our "Olympics for Free' quest , we travelled up to London and walked along the Thames to Tower Bridge. The pathway was rammed but everyone was very jolly and it all felt very cosmopolitan. The Olympics 'feeling' was almost palpable .

It was good night to be up in town , rewarded by a spectacular ( oops ... a bit of Olympic hyperbole creeping in there ) view of Tower Bridge with its illuminated Olympic Rings.

So a quiet night on the telly tonight , back to normal , whatever that is.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Go Wiggo

We went to see Bradley Wiggins win his Gold Medal today and what a great way to see the Olympics ... for free ! Quite extraordinary seeing him ride by so close.
A great day for Great Britain.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

A ticket at last ?

No, not Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket ( but might as well be given their elusiveness ) but a ticket for the Closing Ceremony. In fact, not just one but four ... I'm on the website now and can hardly believe my luck ... but wait ... what is this ... only Band A available ?  ..... hang on , let me check the price ... £1500 per ticket ?  ...... so the four of us can go to the ball and it will only cost us .... £6000 ?????

Maybe not.

It's high time I posted some layouts

In spite of the  red wine , newly invented cocktails ( did we really coin the phrase Manka Wan*** ??? for the mango / vodka based tipple you plied us with Emma ? ) ,  frequent snack and meal breaks and endless giggling , we did manage to get a bunch of layouts finished at Emma's this weekend. I'm amazed we ever get any scrapping done at all . It is pure joy to spend time with these lovely ladies .... and Kate , you definitely won the tennis ... hands down or should I say bottoms up ?

Until September then ...