Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sunday Scream

See this??

This is me today.

Just sayin'. 

Normal service resumed in due course. 

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Saturday Smiles

Greetings lovely bloglies,

It's so good to catch up with you once again.

This week has flown by.  Work has been as manic as ever, however with restructuring (yet again) hopefully, starting from Monday, the workload will even out across the department and I can feel like I'm providing efficient, quality support again rather than flapping about like a  headless chicken, trying to stay on top of an unmanageable to-do list.

And breathe.

We're chicken-sitting for a few days.  My work colleague is taking his young family away for a few days, so I offered to take in his two young ladies.  They arrived last night and I put them into the coop with Leia who took absolutely no notice whatsoever!  Unfortunately the same could not be said this morning when she emerged from the coop, hissing and spitting and drop kicking everything in sight!  The object of her fury appeared to be the young black chicken with whom she was most displeased.  The chicken in question is beautiful with raven black, shiny feathers.  Both birds are very young and pretty and, as Leia is currently in full moult right now and missing her tail feathers, I can imagine that she was more than a little annoyed at these pretty young things queering her pitch, so to speak!  Things were very noisy this morning I can tell you with all three of them having a very vociferous shouting competition, and the ubiquitous seagulls and crows from over the field sticking their oar in too!  We went shopping to get out of the way!    This evening they're all snuggled up together (well - the hens are!) and all is calm!

Things that made me smile today:-

  • Eggs Benedict for breakfast in our fave High Street pub;
  • Visiting a 'vintage' craft fair in a gorgeous little old building and treating myself to a rhubarb and custard scented soy candle hand poured into a little sundae glass - smells good enough to eat!!
  • Picking up the perfect little gift for a friend - I know she's gonna love it! 
  • Choosing wallpaper and paint together ready to decorate the lounge.  After two years I think it's time that Man and I turned this into OUR home, rather than my place he moved into;
  • Similarly, finding an absolute bargain 'new to us' pair of cream leather sofas in a charity shop which will match the new decor perfectly. Excited!
  • The little girl sitting in the charity book shop, happily reading a story to herself in a loud voice and completely lost in her own world;
  • Black Forest Hot Choccie and Black Forest cake sharing in Costa;
  • The toddler flapping her arms at her reflection in the comedy mirror in the precinct and giggling her little head off!  
  • The amount of interest LM's leather jacket attracts whenever we go anywhere! - I think that deserves a blog post all of it's own!
  • These socks!!

                                  (no they're not mine - someone posted a pic of them on Facebook!

What made YOU smile today?

Happy Saturday to you and yours xx

Monday, 12 November 2012

Weekend Round-Up

Greetings my lovelies!

LM and I went to the Hobbycrafts show at the NEC on Saturday.  We took ourselves over there by train and arrived in good time to fortify ourselves with brekkie at the one of the ubiquitous and (usually) cheap and cheerful Wetherspoons' pubs.  Pah!   We were most put out to see the usually reasonable breakfast prices inflated by 50% of what we usually pay in town.  I decided to go for the continental brekkie of croissants and preserves.  This was my first mistake of the day!  Croissants in my book should be crisp on the outside, and the 'legs' should tear off easily to reveal a soft flaky interior.  I wasn't impressed, therefore, to receive flaccid, obviously microwaved bits of collapsed dough complete with soggy bottoms. I'd taken some tablets, however, and needed to eat as I was feeling a little light headed so ate them anyway, but I've had better I must say.  LM declared his 'large traditional' to be 'ok' but nothing to write home about.  He'd been asked whether he wanted black pudding or a field mushroom.  He ordered black pudding.  He received.... half a tomato!  The coffee wasn't bad though.  Pfft!

ANY... way.  Enough whittering about below par breakusses!!  

So we carried on into the halls to check out the craft porn.  Now then.  Y'know this crafting lark?  Its a gentle pastime isn't it?  Practiced by gentle people who love pretty things.  Yeah right!  You stand between a middle aged woman and a new Pro-marker at your peril!  In fact, the older gals were the worst!  A sniff of a bargain and the pre-sharpened elbows were raised in battle stance like a scorpion under threat! I think the first aisle was the worst as a stash induced feeding frenzy ensued and ravening hoards fell upon sparkly goodies.  By the second and third aisle it had calmed down a little - not much - but it was certainly more bearable and we didn't emerge from stalls feeling like we'd been squeezed along a birth canal to pop out the other side(!).  

These pull along trollies appeared to be really popular.  Great!  Perfect for catching your ankles on and rolling over your corns!   

One of our favourite stalls was the very wondrous Clarity Stamps. Barbara's work amazes me every time I watch her demos and the stamped images really are beautiful. She was there in person and there was quite a crowd gathered to watch her work.  There were some gorgeous but very expensive cross stitch kits and  lots and lots of glittery jewellery stuff which doesn't really float my boat but appears to be very popular. I didn't really go to the show with the intention of buying much,  It was good to window shop and look at new ideas.  There was a great crafter's £1 stall there and I did get some bits and pieces from there, as well as a new black ink pad, some fine nibs for my pro-marker pens and a couple of stamps which were greatly reduced in price.  

As well as the Hobbycrafts show, there was the usual Christmas bits and pieces there too.  We skipped around this bit (not literally mind), but we'd seen much of it before and it seemed a little samey and overpriced to us.  One stall that I couldn't get away from and did much swooning at, however, was the wonderful art work of Glyn Matthews.  Check out his website HERE  His artwork is incredibly evocative and atmospheric.  I particularly fell in love with "One for the Pot" and "Dawn Patrol", but I love the quirkiness of the little cottages too and - well -  all of them really!!  I have to say that the website doesn't really do the pictures justice. They are so different.

Yesterday passed in a blur of shopping and the usual preparations for Monday.  I went into town (unsupervised and without the aid of a safety net) for a while.  Man had gone to see his kids so I took myself off and hibernated in a coffee shop until the shops opened.  I love coffee shop culture and spent a happy 45 mins or so just watching the world go by, taking advantage of the free wifi and partaking of a bacon and brie pannini.  And the most vile cup of coffee known to man.  Amaretto latte.  Why?  Just why?  What possessed me to think that it would even be remotely nice?  It was disgusterous.  Like... like.... ewww vileness personified.  Not decadent and cosmopolitan at all.  Just vom-inducing!

I didn't like it much.


See you soon!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Emotional Wreck

Every time I watch this advert, it makes me cry.  It's the sweetest thing ever!

Disclaimer:  This blog is not sponsored nor has any link to John Lewis.  I just love the video!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Thursday Whitterings

Greetings my lovelies, how the devil are you all?

Its been a busy old day as usual.  I've typed up so many accounts today that when I close my eyes, all I can see is digits!

This evening my work colleagues and I hit the fob-out pad at warp speed and escaped into the cool evening air a little after 5pm.  We had arranged to go for something to eat at a local pub which has Two for One specials.  There were supposed to have been about ten of us altogether, however as is usual in these scenarios, people dropped out during the day until there were just four of us left to dine.  People do make me smile.  This tea time treat had been arranged about a month ago.  The excuses that I can remember hearing at various times during the day were "I have a meeting about my mobile phone", "I'm working from home so won't be able to get there now", "Oh no - I've double booked myself, I don't know how it happened!"(that one was from the woman who had suggested the get together in the first place!), "I've not heard anything since the first invite so didn't think it would still be on, therefore I won't be joining you", and the best and probably most truthful "I forgot". Tee hee.  Ah anyway, it was a nice evening.  The meals only averaged around a fiver each so really not too bad, and after a glass of pink stuff and lots of gossiping, I was home by 7.15.

I do find it easier to go out straight after work.  If I get home and my bum hits my armchair then that's it - I'm done for and will find any excuse not to go out again!

In other news, my little blog has been nominated for an award.  Oh yes it has.

Look see!  Tadahhhh!!

Yes those lovely furry friends over at The Bears have presented it to me because I'm "mad", apparently.  I'm flattered, I think!

Thank you bears!!

On the way back this evening I couldn't believe my eyes when I spotted a house clad in full on festive dress.  Come on now.  Its just not right really is it?   Christmas decorations up by 9 November?    Wrong.  Just wrong.

**Walks away scratching head**

The Saucy Sausage

We're over the hump of the week!  Who's ready to get on the downward slide with me to the weekend then?  Ready?  Wheeeeeeeeee!!


**picks self up and resumes usual air of sophistication**

So tell me something.  Have you had a sausage this week?  No?!  Well then you should!  It's British Sausage Week don'tcha know - cunningly coinciding with the week of Bonfire Night.  More bangers than you can shake a (cocktail) stick at!

Sausages galore
(photo borrowed from the t'interweb with thanks)

So are you a sausage lover, dear reader?   Gone are the days when trays of simple pork sausages graced the  butcher's window.    Each time we visit our butcher he has a new flavour to try; honey and mustard, apple and leek, lamb and mint, pork and black pudding, turkey and sweet chilli and chicken and lemon pepper to name but a few.   Would they be on your hit list to try, or do you prefer a good old fashioned plain pork banger?  I have to say that we don't really eat many as a family, but when we do, the sausage must be of good quality.  Some of the cheaper 'Value' and 'Basics' supermarket brands just taste like chaff to me and I'd rather not buy them at all than deigning to stick my fork into a little wrap of artificial flavourings and sawdust sweepings thank you very much.
One of the freebie supermarket magazines this week had a lovely recipe for roasted sausage bake.  Now oddly enough, I can't stand sausage casserole!  It gives me the creeps. (bad experience with flaccid pink undercooked sausages lurking in a watery tomato sauce = scarred for life).     Bleurgh!   However this is more of a dry roasted dish; warming, filling and very flavoursome indeed!

So - you will need 6 Beautiful Plumptious British Bangers, 3 cloves garlic (crushed), 1/2 a butternut squish, cut into cubes, a good sprinkle of dried rosemary, some olive oil, 1lb of new tatoes, 2 large parsnips cut into cubes, and if you like a bit of a kick to your meal, add some dried chilli flakes too.  (We also added peppers, a few mushrooms and a carrot - cos we're bad ass!).

It's the simplest thing - just basically toss everything together in a roasting pan and bake in the oven until the veg are soft and melting, and the sausage is brown and cooked through.  We par-boiled the potatoes to give them a head start and found that this was needed as otherwise they'd still have been a little bullet like.  Nothing else was required, apart from a little onion marmalade or cranberry sauce perhaps by way of a savoury/sweet contrast.

See you soon!


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Autumn Edition

Hello darlings!

A huge welcome to my new followers - it's great to see you here!  

I think it's about time to partake in a little blogspiration from This Blog once more.

Outside my's dark!  It's the night after Bonfire Night, and as I began writing this blog post it was half past nine in the evening. The whiz bangs were still going off and driving poor Harvey insane.  Is it just me or do they get louder every year?  Last night we were still hearing them at ten to eleven.  It just ain't on!

I am thinking... that I may test drive my new boots tomorrow so that they're nicely broken in for hours of tramping on Saturday!

I am thankful... that at the end of each day I can come home to Peapods, to Lovely Man and to my children.  The house is untidy but warm and cosy and we have ample to eat.  By some people's standards we don't have much - by my standards I'm the richest woman in the world, and I'm grateful for that. 

In the kitchen... the detritus of our evening meal is awaiting the intervention of the washing up fairy.  That'll be me then!

I am wearing... those insane slippers which were featured in my last blog post.  I so wish I could wear them to work.  In fact - I declare tomorrow to be 'Wear your Slippers to Work Day'.  Go on - do it.  Tell em Kimmy said it was ok!

I am creating... crochet ripples!  Yeah still going!!  I alternate between the v.colourful  a la Attic 24 one and the patriotic red white and blue one.  I'm using Lucy's pattern (to be found HERE)   It's a shame mine is, by comparison, an explosion in a mattress factory, but hey - it's rustic!  I shall finish them both at some point.  In 2015 maybe. 

I am going... to challenge myself to get to bed before 12pm this evening!

I am wondering... whether Lovely Man is going to get up this evening.  Every evening he says (without fail) "can you wake me at quarter to nine, darlin'?".  "Yes love", I reply, like the good pretend-wifey I am.   And I do wake him.  And again at half past nine.  Sigh.

I am reading..."Urban Dreams Rural Realities" by Daniel Butler and Bel Crewe. Well actually, that's a lie cos it only arrived from Amazon today and I am yet to begin - but the intention is there!

I am hoping...that my lovely Mommy likes the little pre-Christmas surprise I've planned for her on the 24th!  Ooh shhhhh!!! 

I am looking forward to... stroking lots of crafty things at the Hobbycrafts Fair at the NEC on Saturday. YAY!!  

I am learning...that a positive attitude really does help to make for a better day.

Around the house...**looks around**,  **covers eyes**, **slumps**,  **cries a little**, Yep.  it's still here!!  

I am pondering...  whether I should wash my hair before going to bed or when I get up in the morning.  Sigh.  Life's hard and contains many difficult challenges.  Snigger. 

A favorite quote for today..  I have a terrible habit of thinking that everything is about 'me'.  Not in a diva manner.  Not in a 'hard done to' manner either.  I just over think things too much and end up being far too suspicious of people for my own good, thereby putting up defences and allowing relationships with people to flounder.  I found this quote recently which does actually sum it up quite well.   Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.— Miguel Ruiz

One of my favorite things...  Two actually.  Yup - My new slippers!!! heheheh   You didn't see that one coming did you?! 

A few plans for the rest of the week: dinner with ex-work colleagues, a trip to the Hobbycraft show, more rippling, reading and hibernating.

A peek into my day... well its been a rather gloomy day really with few photographic opportunities so I'm sharing this little gem:-

Love love xxxx

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Snugglesome Sunday - a Weekend Round-up

Hello darlings,

I do hope that you're all having a splendiferously wonderful weekend.

Yesterday would have been my Dad's 72nd birthday - his first one away from us.  This didn't stop us celebrating, however.  We had a family breakfast at a local pub, and then we took a trip down to the lottie where his ashes are buried to spend a few reflective moments.  It had been miserable and raining all morning.  A steady, cold, relentless downpour which dampens the spirits - if you let it of course.  However, in a typical "Peter Kay" moment, as soon as we trooped on to the allotment site, the sun came out, the sky became an incredible Wedgwood blue, and it was truly beautiful.  The huge Norway Spruce pine tree which towers above one of the sheds is absolutely laden with cones and these were illuminated against the clear skies, hanging almost in bunches of long spindle shapes.

It is my personal choice that I'm not keen on laying flowers at a graveside or in remembrance.  I think that it's a complete waste of money and a travesty to lay bunches of flowers which will simply die and rot away.  I'd rather plant something in memory and will get a little acer tree next time I can get to the garden centre.  On this occasion, however,  I took a carved pumpkin instead, set it by the little wishing well which stands above his ashes and lit a candle inside the pumpkin.  He'd have liked that, me old Dad.  He's been gone four months today, and although they say time is a great healer, I don't find it any less painful now than I did at his passing.  I'm sure things will get easier, but for now, "Happy Birthday Pops, I love and miss you more than I ever thought imaginable".

This picture is of Dad, my brother, and me, taken circa 1972.  It's great isn't it?!

After our little ceremony, we went on our usual foray into Stourbridge town to do the weekly shop.  The so-called Farmer's Market is usually there on the first Saturday in the month.  It's a little disappointing really.  There is one stall which sells game and organic meat, another selling veg, a bakery stall, preserves and olives and... hmmmm... that's about it really.  The other stalls feature that ubiquitous, sparkly imported jewellery and tat, and another some cheap and nasty clothes from Chavs-ville.  It's official.  I am a Farmer's Market snob and I care not!

We sought solace for our disappointment at the lack of produce in a local coffee house and bad BAD man treated me to this:-

Black Forest Hot Chocolate - and yes - it was as teeth looseningly (!) uber-sweet as it looks and
utterly gorgeous! and no - I didn't lick the saucer!  (Not whilst anyone was looking anyway ;)  )
By the time we got home it was going dark.  Man went to bed as he hadn't had any sleep since coming off his night shift, and I got on with making dinner - a warming chicken and king prawn Thai green curry, made luxurious with coconut milk and fragrant with lemongrass and coriander.  This is one of my favourite curries.  It always seems to be such a fresh tasting dish packed with lots of veg and the kick of chilli.  Perfect for a yuksome evening.

Advance warning is issued now for the following  G.O.W.* Rant


Later on, we rounded up the cats and made sure that they were safe in KTT's bedroom and battened down the hatches against the BLOODY FIREWORKS!!  GRRR!!! I HATE them with a passion.  Our poor Harvey is beside himself from the first tell tale pop and whistle outside and by the time gatling gun-like repeater air bombs go off he's a quivering wreck. It breaks my heart.  He flattens himself to the floor and stares at us as if to say "make it stop". No amount of encouragement, praise, treats nor diversion tactics help.

I can never help having a little rant about fireworks.  A guy in front of us at Aldi yesterday spent in excess of £90 on them.  £90!!  This is our weekly rent!  And what does he have to show for that money today?  Well, nothing apart from a few blackened spots around his garden, empty cardboard packaging and a considerable dent in his wallet.  They never just happen on November 5 any more do they?  We've been hearing the around here now since mid-October and they are likely to continue for at least another couple of weeks when our large Asian community celebrate Diwali circa 13th.   

Oh.. AND - the stupidest of stupid things is when they're let off during the day.  Why?  Pah!


G.O.W. falls off soap box.


Today has been doings of a domestic nature.  We have given the chicken run and coop a deep clean prior to the cold weather setting in to ensure that our one remaining chucklet, Princess Leia,  is as comfortable as we can make her.  She is now scratching around, ankle deep in fresh woodshavings and barley straw, pecking away at morsels undetectable to the human eye.  She seems a little nonplussed at the moment and is obviously missing her partner in crime.  (Hattie didn't make it.  It was clear when we went up to check yesterday that she was hanging on by a mere thread and put up no fight at all when Man did the necessary to help her on her way.  She's buried now in her favourite corner of the garden where they all dust bathed in the warmer months).. 

It's a raw old coldy cold day today.  Now that the chores of domesticity are more or less done, I intend to snuggle. 

So it's on with the feathery fluffy socks:-

I chose the pink and blue pair.  You needed to know this didn't you and I didn't want to leave you hanging!

And with the insane new slippers!  I am truly THE height of sexiness right now.  Man just doesn't know what to do with himself! 

So, the fetchingly attired feet are well and truly up.  The fruity teabag is well and truly dunked:-

The seasonal vitamin C packed snacks are peeled:-

And the nature-porn mags are prepared for perusing!

Go on - have a Sunday snuggle on me!

* Grumpy Ole Woman signing off!


Friday, 2 November 2012

Friday Catch Up

Happy Friday all!  Ahh there is nothing that I relish more than coming home on Friday evening and completely chilling out knowing that I don't have to go to the dark and gloomy place tomorrow.   I had an invitation to a bonfire evening tonight but to be honest, I've been happy just being home and warm and cosy.  Rock and Roll that's me!!

Another of my chickens is poorly.  We found her this evening still out in the pen sitting in one of the holes they'd dug during the day.  This is unheard of as they put themselves to bed at dusk with amazing regularity and we lock the coop up later on when we also feed the cats.   We've put her into the coop but she wasn't moving much and didn't really acknowledge us.  My guess (and hope for her sake) is that she will have quietly slipped away by morning but if not then it will be a trip to the vets I reckon where I shall pay the princely sum of £29 for her to be humanely put to sleep.  

I'm now wondering whether they've picked up a virus as this is the second one to go downhill in two weeks. The vet said that it was simply old age with the last one (Betty) and that it was cataracts which had made her go blind. The vet kept chickens herself and so I trusted her judgment.   I'm now a bit suspicious of something more viral unless it's just coincidence.  My poor chucklets :(  They been a complete joy and I shall miss them so much.  I don't like the thought of just having the one on her own and will definitely get more but not until the new year now.  The garden is becoming a rather overcrowded pet cemetery.

ANY-ways....  Work is a barmy as ever.  We're undergoing restructure and regrouping in our department after a mammoth effort and billing frenzy for our year end.  This resulted in a bonus pool of £100,000 being made available to all 175 staff.  Amazing eh?!  That should be (tap tap tap).....oohhhh.... around £571 pre-tax each! YAYYYY!!!     Except it's not.  It's pro-rata'd on salary.  So, for example, people on £40k per year come out of it with around £800 pre-stoppages and those of us on a lower salary will receive a  rather more modest average of £300 pre-stoppages.

To receive even a few quid extra in one's pay packet in this current climate of recession, redundancies and gloom and doom is incredible and the company should of course be lauded for it.  I'm truly grateful for any monetary gift which may come my way.  The money I will receive will certainly help out, particularly with Christmas this year as I was beginning to think that we may have to cancel it!   A little anarchic part of me however can't help questioning the fairness of the bonus division.  We all work bloody hard and the firm are always banging on about a being a fair and inclusive employer, so why differentiate on the amount of a bonus paid?  Word at the photocopier (!) reveals that a good many of my colleagues think the same.  When news of the bonus scheme was launched (amid great build up and Hollywood style in-house promo!), everyone's head was up and there was great excitement - until the time that the screen showed how it was to be calculated and giving an example of "if you earn £20,000 THIS is what you could get!".  Half of those excited heads dropped immediately because they're on nowhere near that salary and so the example meant nothing to them.

Now please don't think that I'm an ungrateful wretch!  The extra really will help our family.  I'm just making a little observation here!   My Dad had a delightful saying if ever anyone showed any sign of ungratefulness which went along the lines of  "you'd moan if your arse was stuffed full of five pound notes!"

(With an arse the size of mine though I would have NO cause to moan if that were the case I can assure you - it would probably amount to more than my bonus payment!)  

Have a great weekend!

Working from home

I've taken a precious day of annual leave today.  I've really struggled this week with feeling so yuk and I needed the restorative ...