Monday, January 31, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook: 31st January 2011

Outside My Window ... blue skies and a briskly cold day after a deep frost last night. 

I am thinking ... about various things I want to get done this afternoon.

From the learning rooms ... Angel has been selected for her school's technology team to take part in an interschool competition in March where they have to complete some kind of product design task.  

I am thankful ... for a break from grey, damp weather.

From the kitchen ... I worked out a new four week menu plan rotation at the weekend, and am
going to try out this mince and sweet potato pie recipe tonight.

I am wearing ... jeans, green and cream striped hooded top, blue handknitted socks.

I am creating ... still my brother's socks and my aran cardigan.

I am going ... to an open morning at Cherub's school about Sounds Write, the method they use for teaching reading.

I am reading ...  The King's Speech by Mark Logue.

I am hoping ... to find a nice pair of red shoes. I want to tick something else off my Day Zero Project list and red shoes would fit my mood nicely (bright and cheerful!).

I am hearing ... Cherub's Winnie-the-Pooh DVD. I hate Disney's Winnie-the-Pooh with a passion. How could anyone give that most English of bears an American accent?

Around the house ... I need to clear out the small set of drawers next to my bed, as I want to put a small desk there instead to give myself a quiet (relatively!) work space.

One of my favourite things ... red (more on that later)

A few plans for the rest of the week ... another nice, quiet week, with nothing much out of the ordinary.

A picture thought I am sharing ... an old picture of Angel and Star I found and scanned recently. I forgot what mad hair Angel used to have - these days it is beaten into submission with straighteners.

Find instructions and links to other daybooks at The Simple Woman

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Alphabet Meme

I am in the mood for a random meme to get myself back in the habit of posting again, and I spotted this one at What's Happening At My House.

A is for Age: 50. A nice round number!

B is for Beer of choice: Anything light and cold, but only in the summer and not often then.

C is for Career: Working towards one, rather to my surprise. I am not a career minded person. I just want to be able to keep busy and active and earn a bit of extra money by working part time (I hope) doing something I enjoy.

D is for favourite Drink: Champagne

E is for Essential item you use every day: Laptop

F is for Favourite song at the moment: No current favourite

G is for favourite Game: Just Dance 2 on the Wii. I'm using it for exercise. It's not pretty, but it's working.

H is for Home town: Leighton Buzzard

I is for Instruments you play: Violin, flute, trombone, piano, organ, recorders, guitar. I also passed Grade 6 on the viola, but haven't played one for years.

J is for favourite Juice: Orange juice, but it has to be with ice.

K is for Kids: Three beautiful girls.

L is for Last kiss: Tevye, I think. We are more a huggy family than a kissy family.

M is for Marriage: 18 years and counting.

N is for full Name: That would defeat the purpose of using pseudonyms, but my Christian names are Kathryn Helen.

O is for Overnight hospital stays: For tonsils and teeth extraction as a child. Since then only when I have had a baby.

P is for Phobias: Heights.

Q is for Quote: "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly." (G.K.Chesterton)

R is for biggest Regret: Being such an obnoxious, awkward teenager.

S if for Sports: Not much, though in my younger days I used to watch a lot of football. Now I like watching gymnastics and athletics, and more or less any sport during the Olympics. Sport every four years is about right for me.

T is for Time you wake up: Too early. Seven o'clock on weekdays, a bit later at weekends if I'm lucky.

U is for colour of Underwear: Usually boring black or white. Occasionally pink.

V is for Vegetable you loves: Parsnips roasted in butter.

W is for Worst Habit: Leaving things until the last minute.

X is for X-rays you've had: I think I had one on my foot when I sprained it badly as a teen. Since then only teeth.

Y is for Yummy food you make: Apple cake probably disappears quicker than anything else.

Z is for Zodiac sign: Libra. Which in theory makes me either very balanced or a chronic ditherer.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Hobbits were Archivists

How cool is that!

The introduction to Lord of the Rings ends with a section titled 'Note on the Shire Records'. I particularly liked this description of some of the hobbits' activities as collecting archivists:

At Great Smials the books were of less interest to Shire-folk, though more important for larger history. None of them was written by Peregrin, but he and his successors collected many manuscripts written by scribes of Gondor: mainly copies or summaries of histories or legends relating to Elendil and his heirs. Only here in the Shire were to be found extensive materials for the history of Nung of Sauron. It was probably at Great Smials that The Tale of Years was put together, with the assistance of material collected by Meriadoc.
I would have inflicted more on you, but typing out the whole section would take too long.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook: 24th January 2011

Outside My Window ... another damp and chilly January evening.

I am thinking ... of nothing more taxing than this blog post. I've done my thinking for the day.

From the learning rooms ... one week into my course and so far the workload is quite easily manageable. I have my first short assignment done - just needs reading over tomorrow before I submit it. Angel got her GCSE mock results back last week and did better than she expected with a mix of As and Bs. Considering she had very little revision time due to exams clashing with the dance show we are all happy. Cherub has started doing a Sounds-Write phonics scheme at school. She is exactly like Angel in that she can break down short words into their sounds and spell them, but can't yet put the same sounds together and read them. Being able to spell words you can't read is just plain odd.

I am thankful ... that, so far at least, it doesn't look as though I have bitten off more than I can chew!

From the kitchen ... potato wedges and haddock in butter sauce (out of a packet, I was feeling lazy).

I am wearing ... dark grey cord trousers, pink sweater and stripy hand-knitted socks. Coincidentally exactly the same as last week.

I am creating ... socks for my brother and an aran cardigan for myself. Also the same as last week.

I am going ... crazy creating schedules for myself. Can I stick to them? 

I am reading ... I have been carrying around Fire Watch by Connie Willis but haven't read any more of it yet. I just downloaded a sample of The King's Speech to my iPad. Tevye and I saw the film last week and loved it (if you haven't seen it, go!). It whetted my interest in finding out more about George VI and his speech therapist Lionel Logue (the book is written by Logue's grandson, Mark).

I am hoping ... the backache which is bothering Tevye goes away.

I am hearing ... not much, just a bit of background noise.

Around the house ... laundry caught up, but housework? Blah. I did manage to reorganise Cherub's toys which were spreading over the sitting room floor as there was nowhere to put them.

One of my favourite things ... watching and listening to Cherub. Four is such an entertaining age.

A few plans for the rest of the week ... Tuesday: looking after Little-Friend-N for a while after school; otherwise pretty much a routine week with nothing extra on the calendar. Nice after a hectic couple of weeks.

A picture thought I am sharing ...
my favourite teenager

Find instructions and links to other daybooks at The Simple Woman

Friday, January 21, 2011

7 Quick Takes: 21st January 2010

1. The photo in my header was taken in the Lake District last February, looking across a rooftop in Grasmere (home of William Wordsworth) to the mountains behind. This is the original before cropping.

2. Reading through a wiki timeline of the history archives this morning I came across this note about St. Lawrence:

"August 6, 258:   St. Lawrence the Deacon, one of the patron saints of archivists, is murdered, purportedly by being burned to death on a giant gridiron. His feast day is honored by archivists the world over by the eating of cold cuts (meats), in honor of the method he died. He protected the sacred books of the Church of Rome (probably including baptismal & marriage registers) from being sezied by the pagan Roman authorities."

3. More on the archive theme ... archivist meets Star Wars geek. Check out this article on the Jedi archives.

4.  Ooh! I want to play! Marathon knitting. I'll have to do this the next time I have a day with lots of time for knitting, though it may not come along for a while. HT: Jenn, who is doing a marathon knit today.

5.Wednesday was One Of Those Days. The final straw after a catalogue of minor disasters during the morning was finding a cucumber literally running around the vegetable drawer in the fridge. Once cucumbers get old enough, all that water has to find a way out ...

6. Cherub has just announced that "eleven and eight make ten". One and one and eight add up to ten (well worked out, Cherub!), and of course, one and one make eleven, so eleven and eight must be ten. Q.E.D.

7. It may be that everyone else in the UK has already discovered this site, but I stumbled across  Voucher Codes for the first time today while looking to see if a restaurant chain had any special offers. Looks as though it could be very useful.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Space Walk

Cherub's topic at school for this half term is space and the solar system, so we have been looking at space stuff at home. We just discovered a wonderful app - if you have a Mac, an iPhone, iTouch or iPad, I highly recommend downloading Solar Walk, which allows you to wander around and explore the solar system with your fingers (or mouse). The graphics are amazing, you can see the position of the planets relative to the sun in real time, turn the planets to see the light and dark sides, zoom in to look at all the planets and their moons. Absolutely spectacular. (And at £1.79 - which I guess is probably $2.99 in the US - a bargain.)

PS. If you are reading on a feed reader, pop over and have a look at my nice new header. I decided it was finally time to move my blog on from its summer look! I also added lists of current reading for myself and Cherub to the sidebar.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook: 17th January 2010

Outside My Window ... a wet January evening, following a (very) wet January day. Cherub is the only person who doesn't mind the weather, as she likes wearing her wellies and paddling in puddles.

I am thinking ... about my new weekly routine. I now have to fit in around 15 hours a week of study. 

From the learning rooms ... last week's study school was excellent. Enthusiastic and supportive tutors, friendly students, interesting sessions, and it was fun to be back in an academic environment. I'm now all fired up and ready to start the real work. 

I am thankful ... for a supportive husband, willing and able to hold the fort while I was away.

From the kitchen ... chicken stir fry tonight. I haven't got my head round the rest of the week yet.

I am wearing ... dark grey cord trousers, pink sweater and stripy hand-knitted socks.

I am creating ... socks for my brother and an aran cardigan for myself. My warm, woolly winter scarf was finished just in time to take with me last week.

I am going ... crazy creating schedules for myself. Can I stick to them? 

I am reading ... Fire Watch by Connie Willis. Read The Tale of Hawthorn House, another of Susan Witteg Albert's Beatrix Potter novels while I was away - light, easy, gentle reading (avoid these books if you are irritated by talking animals and fairies, though).

I am hoping ... I will enjoy the archive course and won't hit overload with the work.

I am hearing ... Newsnight on TV.

Around the house ... housework and laundry needing to be done. Ugh. 

One of my favourite things ... coming home after a trip away and seeing all my favourite people.

A few plans for the rest of the week ... Tuesday: taking Cherub to the farm with some little school friends; Thursday: archive; Friday: out for lunch with Grandma and Cherub; Saturday evening / Sunday afternoon: two performances of the girls' dance show, postponed due to December's snow. 

A picture thought I am sharing ... 

Find instructions and links to other daybooks at The Simple Woman

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Korky Paul Picture Books

Cherub was given The Fish Who Could Wish by John Bush and Korky Paul as one of her Bookstart books. I didn't realise until a trip to the library yesterday that this is just one of a series of picture books illustrated by Korky Paul. I brought home The Dog Who Could Dig, and like The Fish Who Could Wish, it was a hit with Cherub.

Both books have lively text and a slightly quirky story, brought to life by Paul's illustrations. The Fish Who Could Wish has an almost Doctor Seuss-ish feel:

"In the deep blue sea
In the deep of the blue,
Swam a fish who could wish,
And each wish would come true ..."

Unfortunately for the fish, his stream of extravagant wishes ends when he wishes he could be like other fish.

The Dog Who Could Dig is written in rhyme:

"Digger the dog was a bit of a clot
He'd buried his bone and forgotten the spot ..."

Digger digs deeper and deeper for his bone, unearthing unexpected items as he digs, until he finds a mouthwateringly bony dinosaur skeleton.

I think we are going to have to check out some more of the series. I particularly like the sound of Professor Puffendorf's Secret Potions.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook: 10th January

Outside My Window ... January. Cold, grey and damp. As the week goes on it is supposed to change to warmer, grey and damp.

I am thinking ... about what I need to do before I leave for my study school on Wednesday. I'm sure there are things I have forgotten.

From the learning rooms ... Cherub's topic at school this week is the moon. She has been telling me the names of its different shapes - full moon, half moon, and "present" moon.

I am thankful ... that my laptop has been replaced. The new one arrived today, but I am still typing this on the iPad. I can't use the new MacBook or the old iMac at the moment as I am copying 60Gb of files from the old machine to the new one, which is going to take all night. I didn't realise quite how long it would take until after I pressed the start button!

From the kitchen ... baked potatoes and chilli tonight; beef casserole tomorrow; quick and easy stuff from the freezer while I am away.

I am wearing ... jeans, blue long sleeved t-shirt, navy cardigan and blue hand-knitted socks.

I am creating ... a supersoft, chunky aran scarf for myself, the same as one I knit Angel for Christmas, but in light grey (hers is beige). Since last week I also made a pair of grey handwarmers that just need finishing off.

I am going ... to Scotland on Wednesday for a three day study school for my archive course. Back home on Saturday.

I am reading ... between books. Last week I finished The Tale of Holly How and read Memories Before and After The Sound of Music, an autobiography of Agathe von Trapp, the eldest Trapp family daughter (HT: Jenn at Family in Feast and Feria). More Kindle shopping needed.

I am hoping ... for smooth travel this week, and that I make all the train connections.

I am hearing ... the TV.

Around the house ... almost all the Christmas stuff is packed away. I missed the advent wreath and one lone foil star still dangling from the ceiling.

One of my favourite things ... unpacking a new Mac. Take it out of the box, switch it on, and it is ready to go. None of that set-up misery you get with a PC.

A few plans for the rest of the week ... taking Mum to the hospital for physio tomorrow morning and getting my hair cut in the afternoon, then study school for the rest of the week.

A picture thought I am sharing ... again, no new photos until I get them off the camera and on to a computer

Find instructions and links to other daybooks at The Simple Woman

Friday, January 07, 2011

7 Quick Takes: 7th January 2011

1. Last month I upgraded my rather battered MacBook with extra RAM and updated software. Just before Christmas I finally replaced the power cable that was held together with insulating tape. Just after Christmas I spilled coffee over it. Only a little coffee, and most of it missed the computer, but even after extended drying time in the airing cupboard I still couldn't get it to switch on. But ... ta da! ... we checked with the insurance company and our accidental damage cover included liquid spills. They sent a courier to collect the laptop, examined it, issued a death certificate, and a brand new replacement will be arriving on Monday.

2. Meanwhile I have been putting the iPad through its paces as a laptop replacement. When I bought the power cable for the (ex) MacBook I bit the bullet and bought a bluetooth keyboard, fortuitously as it turned out. With the keyboard, I am managing to do almost everything I did on the laptop. Some things are little more clunky and slower, but overall it is working pretty well, at least in the short term.

3. I have now got into reading books on the iPad. I much prefer the Kindle app to Apple's iBooks, both for ease of use and for availability of books. The big plus to iPad reading for me is that it makes it easy to read and knit, without having to try to persuade a book balanced on my knee to stay open at the right page.

4. One thing that I can't do on the iPad is update my blog layout. It really is time to move on from last summer's header, and I want to tweak my sidebar. A nice job lined up for the new laptop.

5. ... But not its main job, which is going to be helping me to study. My archive course starts next week with a three day study school (which means four days away for me due to the travel time to Scotland), then it is time to get stuck into the first module. As it is an online distance learning course, having a reliable computer that I can take with me to whatever quiet space I can find (which may sometimes have to be the library) is a must.

6. This week's discovery while working at the record office was a deed in which one of the parties was a doctor described as a "surgeon and man midwife". I can't remember the exact date, but it was either late seventeenth or early eighteenth century. I imagined that midwives were always women and that male obstetricians didn't come along until much later.

7. Joke of the week, from a friend on Facebook (with apologies to any Aussie readers): What do you call a first class Australian cricketer? Retired.

Visit Conversion Diary for more quick takes.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Thursday Thirteen: Great Englishwomen

Inspired by this article by historian Bettany Hughes listing her choice of the ten greatest Englishwomen - I'm not claiming these are the greatest, and if I did the list again next week it would probably be different, but today I am picking this list of thirteen:

(1) Saint Hilda of Whitby ... abbess of a double monastery (monks and nuns), and the brains behind the Synod of Whitby, which settled that the English Church should follow the customs of Rome rather than the Celtic Church.

(2) Julian of Norwich ... medieval mystic, whose influence spread far beyond her anchoress's cell.

(3) Queen Elizabeth I ... love her or hate her, she ruled as a woman in a man's world for over forty years, in many respects successfully.

(4) Venerable Mary Ward ... a seventeenth century English nun, founder of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Declared Venerable (the first step to sainthood) by Pope Benedict in 2009.

(5) Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough ... the power behind the throne for much of Queen Anne's reign, and also an ancestor of Winston Churchill.

(6) Jane Austen ... one of the greatest of English writers, male or female.

(7) Elizabeth Fry ... Quaker and prison reformer.

(8) Florence Nightingale ... nursing pioneer.

(9) Emmeline Pankhurst ... leader of the Suffragette movement, who fought to win the vote for women.

(10) Charlotte Mason ... determined to give children a "living" education, she had a strong influence on both schools and the training of teachers.

(11) Beatrix Potter ... not just for her children's books, but because she was one of the founder members of the National Trust and saved large tracts of the natural beauty of the Lake District for future generations to enjoy.

(12) Rosalind Franklin ... a pioneering scientist who made the initial discoveries of the structure of DNA.

(13) Margaret Thatcher ... whatever you think of her politics, as the first female prime minister she has to be on the list.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook: 3rd January 2011

Outside My Window ... a cold evening, and a few pathetic damp flakes of snow. A final fling for December's cold and snow - January is forecast to be warmer.

I am thinking ... that I need to kickstart myself and move out of my Christmas and New Year energy slump.

From the learning rooms ... the girls go back to school on Wednesday. Star's first homework project for the new term has been posted on the school website - various drama related tasks, ranging from writing a short biography of a playwright to designing a theatre.

I am thankful ... for lots of family time over Christmas and New Year.

From the kitchen ... yikes! I have completely dropped the ball with menu planning. Must do some tomorrow. I need to go through the freezer and see what is in there that I have forgotten about. I know I have burgers, chicken fillets, meatballs and breaded cod, so they will be on the menu over the next week or two.

I am wearing ... grey cord trousers, grey and purple striped long sleeved t-shirt, hand-knitted bamboo socks (not the best yarn for socks - no stretch!).

I am creating ... things for myself. I knitted a hat over the last couple of days. I have started my aran cardigan - after three false starts trying to get the right mix of needle size and garment size I am six inches into the back - and a pair of chunky mittens. I also need to start a pair of socks for my brother. He got yarn and a promise of knitting for Christmas.

I am going ... to get organised. Ha! How many times do I say that to no effect?

I am reading ... The Tale of Holly How by Susan Wittig Albert (on the Kindle app on my iPad).

I am hoping ... we will soon have a working laptop. I had a minor coffee spill - at least, it looked a minor coffee spill, but the MacBook thought otherwise. Fortunately it was insured, and should be either repaired or replaced over the next couple of weeks.

I am hearing ... Tevye's TV and Star typing on the computer.

Around the house ... still in Christmas mode. I will take the tree and decorations down on Friday, after Twelfth Night.

One of my favourite things ... bargains! Angel, Star and I went shopping today and all managed to find some good stuff in the sales. I got a silky purple dress in Marks and Spencer for £19 reduced from £39, and a cropped jacket in New Look reduced to £5 from £30. I very rarely wear dresses, partly because I find it so hard to find any I like, and even harder to find anything I like that fits.

A few plans for the rest of the week ... Wednesday: orthodontic appointment for Angel, who is very close to the end of her braces phase, then out in the evening for Tevye's office Christmas meal that was postponed due to the snow; Thursday: record office; Friday: out to lunch with my Mum for the first time since her hospital stay; Saturday: First Communion classes start in the morning, in the afternoon Tevye and I are going on a shopping expedition to help him buy clothes (not something either of us relish, but needs must!), then I am playing with the brass band at a golf club in the evening.

A picture thought I am sharing ... none today, as I can't put pictures directly onto the iPad, some Christmas photos are on the MacBook (from where I may never be able to retrieve them - nothing I would be sad to lose, though), and some are still on the camera.

Find instructions and links to other daybooks at The Simple Woman

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Rules of Three

However bad I am at keeping them, I always like to have goals or resolutions for a new year. This year I am going with short and simple, and have come up with three rules of three:

1. Limit my own screen time to three hours a day. (I am thinking of TV or "fun" computer time, not counting study time, necessary stuff like accounts or grocery shopping, or reading books on the iPad).

2. Do "just five minutes" sessions in three rooms every day. (Or, more realistically, most days. Three minutes would fit my theme more neatly, but would be taking short bursts a bit far!)

3. Avoid three S's - snacks, sweets and second-helpings - except on days beginning with an S (I saw a reference on a blog somewhere to The S Plan
Diet, or some such, and this sounded realistic and do-able for me).

Day Zero Project: January 2011 Update

I have checked off two more items from my Day Zero Project list, bringing my total so far to seven:

55. Watch all 3 Lord of the Rings movies in a weekend
I actually watched the extended DVD versions of all three over five evenings, but I'm counting it as the equivalent of a weekend.

64. Write a blog post every day for 1 month
Yes, every single day during December. I'm glad I did this one, as it has got me back into the swing of posting regularly. I'm sure I won't keep up daily posts, but I definitely found that the more I posted, the more I thought of things I wanted to post about.

I have made progress on a few others:

* Watched another classic movie (The Miracle on 34th Street, original version)
* Finished two more pairs of socks - or maybe three? I can't check my notes as the Day Zero Project site is down, a victim of its own success as it exceeded its bandwidth and is having to change servers.
* Read two biographies: (1) So Much to Tell by Valerie Grove, about Kaye Webb, the publisher responsible for Puffin children's books in the sixties and seventies (disappointing, as I didn't find her a very sympathetic character); (2) Boris: the Rise of Boris Johnson by Andrew Gimson
* Read more books to Cherub (again, I can't check my list).

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Knitting Review: 2010

Thanks to Ravelry I know that I completed thirty three knitting projects in 2010:

  • Thirteen pairs of socks
  • Three pairs of mittens
  • Four pairs of fingerless gloves
  • Two hats
  • Two scarves
  • One hooded scarf
  • One snood
  • One shawl
  • Three cardigans (two for Cherub)
  • Two dresses (two for Cherub)
  • One pair of slipper boots

Far more productive than I would have guessed. Can I beat it in 2011? (And should I even try? I should be knitting for pleasure not in some sort of daft competition with myself!)