Thursday, September 29, 2011

Heart Quilt

Linds at Rocking Chair Reflections held a giveaway ... and I won!

Look what arrived in the post yesterday:

Isn't it beautiful! It looks even better in real life then in the photo. Linds is a very talented lady. And look how well it goes with my red curtains:

Cherub is also very taken with the quilt and has found her own use for it. Magic carpet. The blur is Cherub in flight.

And the icing on the cake is that Linds and I are going to meet for lunch next week.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Changing Seasons

I am trying to record the changing seasons by taking a picture of the same patch of countryside each month - one of my Day Zero Project ideas. Here are three months of a cornfield (wheat) I pass on the train, all taken on sunny days.




Monday, September 26, 2011

This Week: 26th September

The weather ... the forecast is for an autumn heateave this week so I made the mistake of wearing sandals and not bothering with a coat this morning. It rained and I now have wet toes.

I am wearing ... dark grey trousers, purple t-shirt, purple cardigan and black sandals.

I am reading ... Selling Sparrows by Judy Wright, a local history book I picked up in the library on Saturday. Utterly fascinating as it puts flesh on the bones of the type of records I see at work everyday - it is an account of the prosecution of three local men in 1849 for poaching and wounding a police constable, which became something of a cause celebre at the time, and their subsequent transportation to Australia. Very thoroughly researched, with lots of background detail.

I am creating ... still the Dangerous Socks for Boys (almost done) and Jordan vest.

I am listening ... to Breakfast at Tiffanys by Deep Blue Something (which I discovered through Shazam - clever iPhone app that "tags" music playing in the vicinity and identifies it for you), and The Firebird Suite by Stravinsky which I am trying to get head round musically as it is on the programme for my next orchestra concert.

I am watching ... Downtown Abbey, Who Do You Think You Are, Dragon's Den, Outnumbered. Have got behind with Doctor Who

I am enjoying ... eating more healthily. I have cut right down on sugar and refined starches, and bumped the amount of fruit and veg I eat right up.

I am planning schedules to fit all my coursework in for this term.

Learning notes ... Angel seems to be handling the adjustment to the significantly heavier workload for Sixth Form well so far. She had to give a PowerPoint presentation on art deco this morning as part of her product design coursework, which took a lot of preparation over the weekend.

Cherub ... Is into doing autumny things. See picture below.

On the calendar ... Tuesday: grade 4 ballet exam for Star; Thursday: Jewish New Year;Saturday: going out for dinner to celebrate our next door but one neighbours' thirtieth wedding anniversary; Sunday: a three hour band practice (yikes!), and various neighbours are coming for tea to welcome our new next door but one neighbours (the other side!). I love that we live in such a friendly road.

On the menu ...
Monday: honey mustard chicken and pasta
Tuesday: grilled lamb steaks with roasted root veggies
Wednesday: mince and sweet potato pie
Thursday: crockpot BBQ chicken with rice and green veg
Friday: fish??
Saturday: eating out. Probably pizza for the girls
Sunday: roast chicken

A picture from last week ... An autumn picture created by Cherub and my brother yesterday. A bit difficult to display with the weight of all those conkers!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

7 Quick Takes: September 23rd

1. I think I have a solution to my want to blog / not much time to blog dilemna - blogging on the train using Blogpress. It's a nice app which does what it says on the tin - let's you post quickly and easily from a phone or iPad to a Blogger blog.

2. The new routine is working out. Everyone manages to be in the right place at the right time. One minor hiccup is that due to a timetabling glitch Angel can't get the bus home from school on alternate Thursdays so one of us has to drive over and collect her.

3. Angel loves the independence of Sixth Form. So long as they are there for lessons, they can come and go as they please - not that it makes much difference to her as she relies on the bus so can't arrive late or leave early, but she likes knowing that she is allowed the extra freedom. She also likes being able to wander out to the local shop in her free time (most days she has at least one free hour on her timetable).

4. Another thing I like about Blogpress is that it lets me save drafts either offline or online, so when I don't finish a post on the train I can pick it up again on the laptop later. Or in this case, the next day.

5. Facebook. Lots and lots of kerfuffle on Facebook about all the changes. My view so far is that I don't like Facebook deciding on "top stories" for me - why would it think that I want to see myself wishing a friend a happy birthday as my top story for the next few hours? - but Lissa taught me how to detopstorify, along with coining a new word. I found seeing everything my friends liked or commented on in my feed a bit overwhelming, but with a bit of judicious editing of settings I think I have that fixed. The ticker that has been getting people excited hasn't appeared on my Facebook page yet. So far I can live with the changes. I was happy with the way things were before and can see nothing in the new order than benefits me, but after a bit of initial inconvenience I don't think it will bother me much.

6. Cherub was hugely excited this afternoon to discover that all she had to do to move text on the iMac screen up and down was stroke her fingers along the mouse in the direction she wanted it to go. Love technology!

7.  I have a cold. It has spent the entire week morphing from a sore throat with a slight cough to a nasty cough with a slight sore throat. It is getting irritating.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

School Reunion

On Sunday I went to a school reunion, the first in thirty three years. I went to a selective, highly academic girls' school, which in those days was funded under the direct grant system - somewhere between a private and a state school, in that the fees payable were based on income, with about 10-15% having their places fully paid by the government. These days it is a fully fee paying school, still selective and geared to high academic achievement.

About half the members of our year made it to the reunion, and it was fascinating hearing what people had done since they left school. Two things particularly struck us. Firstly, that most of us had changed direction one or more times, with varied careers that often bore little relation to what we set out to do when we left school - careers which included motherhood for the great majority of us, for which our schooling gave us no preparation whatsoever. Secondly, it brought home to us how academically snobbish the school was (and I imagine still is) and how many people had their self esteem severely knocked by being judged as "not university material". I think all of these had subsequently proved the school wrong by acquiring degrees and discovering they were far more capable than the school had given them credit for, but there was clearly far too much pigeonholing of girls by the school's perception of ability (often inaccurate). I think for a number of people the reunion was an opportunity to confront and put to bed some not too happy memories.

Something else I realised was how narrow our social circles tended to be. Only one of my close friends was at the reunion, and I found myself having interesting conversations with people I don't remember ever speaking to in seven years at that school. With hindsight I am surprised I didn't have more contact with people outside my immediate friendship group. I get the impression that Angel and Star have much wider social circles than we did.

Overall the reunion brought back a mixed set of memories and made me glad that Angel and Star are at a very different type of school - one that aims to help its students achieve the very best they can, whatever their ability, rather than one that sets an extremely high bar and then dismisses as failures those who don't reach it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This Week: 19th September

The weather ... average September weather. Not too hot, not too cold. Some sun, some rain.

I am wearing ... work clothes. Grey trousers, purple top, purple cardigan, black and silver flower necklace (bought for £2 in Boots), black boots (new for this autumn / winter, bought for rather more than £2 in Marks and Spencer - good buy though, as
they are super comfy and will get lots of wear), and a lightweight beige coat.

I am reading ... No Such Thing as Society by Andy McSmith, about Britain in the 1980s. I am on a modern history kick at the moment.

I am creating ... half way through my second Dangerous Sock, and almost done with the Jordan vest top (which I won't be likely to wear until next summer anyway). Next I need to get focused on finishing two cardigans and a sweater that are all three-quarters done but have been hibernating for some time. Mistress of the art of the almost-finished project, I am.

I am hearing ... school kids chattering on the train.

I am watching ... Downtown Abbey. The new series started on Sunday.

I am enjoying ... the new term time routine.

I am planning ... a short trip to the south coast at half term.

Learning notes ... my latest archive course module started yesterday. This is on sources and skills for local and family history. This is much more familiar territory for me than the first two modules, and I am looking forward to it.

Cherub ... is loving her new class at school. It is a bit more structured than last year's Reception Class, and the balance of structured activities and play seems just right for her so far.

On the calendar ... extra pre-exam dance classes for Star (she has a ballet exam next week and modern and tap exams in October); an information evening at Star's school tonight (Tuesday) which we may not be able to make due to a ballet class; a trip out for a family meal to celebrate my mother's 84th birthday tomorrow; going to London with Tevye to visit his parents' grave on Sunday - paying respects to the dead around the time of the New Year is a Jewish tradition - which we will combine with dropping in to see an old friend.

On the menu ...
Tuesday: burgers and corn on the cob
Wednesday: eating out
Thursday: beef stew with crusty bread
Friday: fish of some sort
Saturday: vegetable soup
Sunday: roast chicken

A picture from last week ... (actually from Dundee the week before)

Monday, September 12, 2011

This Week: 12th September 2011

The weather... high winds as the remnants of Hurricane Katia hits the UK. Not a hurricane any more, but enough to bring down a large tree branch in the office car park this morning.

I am wearing... black jeans, pink v-neck sweater

I am reading... back to finishing off The Forever Young Diet and Lifestyle by James and Joan O'Keefe, after reading The Tale of Applebeck Orchard by Susan Witteg Albert on the train to and from Dundee last week.

I am creating... skew socks, light green Jordan vest top, and dangerous socks for boys for my brother's birthday. I am kind of irritated with myself for finishing one skew sock and then starting a completely different pair instead of knitting the second.

I am hearing... Dragons Den on TV.

I am watching... Who Do You Think You Are?, Doctor Who, Outnumbered and Dragons Den. I am not a big TV watcher and it is unusual for me to be watching so many series.

I am enjoying ... 74% cocoa chocolate and red wine. As recommended by The Forever Young Diet and Lifestyle. Those are the sort of recommendations I am happy to follow. I am also generally managing to eat a healthier diet, so I am not just cherry picking the best bits.

I am planning ... I think I have the new routines more or less sorted, but still have a bit more menu planning to finish.

Learning notes ... happiness all round. I loved the study school last week and am looking forward to starting my next archives module next week (with just a little trepidation about work load!). All three girls are very happy with their new schools and classes. Angel is delighted with her A level choices so far, even though she had to spend 12 hours yesterday finishing her summer task for product design ready to hand in today (a 1500 word essay on the Bauhaus movement and two design tasks requiring 3 A3 design sheets for each). Star has settled in quickly at her new school, and Cherub is loving Year One.

Cherub ... came home today thrilled that she did SCIENCE (experimenting to see whether things dissolved in water or not) and LITERACY ("weading" and "witing" - apparently Cherub does the 3 Ws not the 3 Rs!). The capitals represent the importance with which she announced this.

On the calendar ... a normal week! Usual work / school / dancing / swimming / music rehearsals. Busy, but good. I hope. We may have a cousin of Tevye's from South Africa visiting later in the week, and on Sunday I am going to London for a school reunion, the first for my year since we left school 33 years ago.

On the menu...
Monday - baked potatoes and chilli
Tuesday - lime and thyme chicken with sweet potatoes and green veg
Wednesday - burgers, corn on the cob and vegetable kebabs
Thursday - lazy chicken and potatoes, green veg
Friday - tuna fish cakes, salad
Saturday - leek and potato soup
Sunday - roast beef

A picture from last week...

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Some pictures of Tarragona in Spain - originally the Roman port of Tarraco, with Roman remains designated a world heritage site.

The cathedral - undergoing restoration so we couldn't go inside

Part of the medieval market place

The Roman forum

Typical street in the old city

Roman city wall

Statue of a human tower (a famous feature of the fiesta in Tarragona)

Being given a little help by Tevye

Monday, September 05, 2011

This Week: 5th September 2011

The weather... Ugh. After two glorious late summer days last week it is now wet, grey and miserable.

I am wearing... jeans, blue floral tunic top and navy cardigan.

I am reading... The Forever Young Diet and Lifestyle by James and Joan O'Keefe. A free Kindle download (mentioned some time ago by Willa, I think?) that I am hoping will inspire me to eat more healthily and exercise regularly. September and January are always my optimistic, new start months.

I am creating... skew socks (my third pair - I love this pattern!) and a light green Jordan vest top.

I am hearing... Tevye watching TV and Angel tapping on the keyboard.

I am watching... Who Do You Think You Are?, Doctor Who and Outnumbered. And there is a new series of Downtown Abbey to look forward to, starting on September 18th.

I am enjoying ... watermelon and peanut butter. Not together.

I am planning ... menus, study time, new routines.

Learning notes ... back to school this week. Angel and Star start tomorrow and Cherub on Wednesday. I am going to Dundee for part two of the study school I attended in January (leaving Wednesday, back Saturday) and will start the third module of my course on September 19th.

Cherub ... is besotted with the Rainbow Magic books. We are on book nine - Abigail the Breeze Fairy  - while also taking a simultaneous detour to book sixty as Cherub found her namesake Naomi the Netball Fairy in the library.

On the calendar ... school, dance classes for Star, swimming lesson and a birthday party for Cherub, study school for me, dance school prizegiving on Sunday. Eek.

On the menu... muddling through!

A picture from last week...  Minnie Mouse meets Roman wall

Friday, September 02, 2011

7 Quick Takes: 2nd September 2011

1. I haven't been a lazy blogger, I have been away - we got back on Tuesday from two weeks enjoying the sun in Spain. Apparently the UK has had its coldest summer for eighteen years, which means it hasn't felt as though we have had a summer at all. That two weeks of warmth will carry me through to next summer (if we get one next year, that is!). Photos to come later.

2. Ironically we have come back to a spell of gorgeous late summer weather. High 70s predicted today!

3. I hit the ground running when we got home as I went back to work on Wednesday. My brain had switched itself off to the extent that I struggled to remember the key code for the office door and entered a batch of reference numbers wrong before I managed to get back into gear.

4. The laundry is caught up. Most suitcases are emptied. Phew!

5. Cherub fell in love with the water while we were away thanks to the confidence building properties of an inflatable ring, and with immaculately good timing she had a first swimming lesson yesterday. She was a bit nervous beforehand (as she always is with anything new), but absolutely loved it. A friend from school was in the same class, along with two girls she knew from playgroup, so all was good.

6. The girls go back to school next week - Angel and Star on Tuesday (though Angel doesn't actually start classes until Thursday) and Cherub on Wednesday. Much excited anticipation as they are looking forward to starting their new schools and classes.

7. Last but not least, Angel got her GCSE exam results while we are away. (If you don't know the English exam system but are a Harry Potter enthusiast, think OWLS without the magic.)  One A*, five As, two Bs and three Cs, which we are all happy with (C and above are effectively pass grades) - perhaps the best achievements were the B for biology and Cs for physics and chemistry, given that the science teaching she has had over the past three years has been almost entirely poor or non-existent, and she taught herself half the course from revision guides.

Read more quick takes at Conversion Diary