Thursday, 31 October 2013

Welcome to Laura

... to Laura @ Shine the Divine

image from google

BlogtoberFest Day 31: Ending and Beginning

The 'ending' is the end of BlogtoberFest for this year.  It is the first time I have joined in with this and I have surprised myself, both by managing to post every day for 31 days and also just how much I have enjoyed the whole thing.  I've gained four new followers which is lovely, read lots of new blogs and am now following a few more plus I've had lots of comments which is always appreciated.  I don't know if I will continue to post every day - part of me wants to but ... life will probably get in the way, so I'll see how it goes.
Many thanks to Shells for organising BlogtoberFest 2013.
The 'beginning' is this:
I've made a start on my garden.  I met up with Joy at the Lakeside Garden Centre yesterday where I bought all these goodies:  The three ceramic pots and the plants which (from left to right) are Euonymous Alatus, Pieris Japonica 'Katsura', Fuchsia 'Madame Cornelissen and in front is a Raspberry 'Autumn Bliss'. I also bought three bags of potting compost and some rooting liquid (as Joy explained how to take some cuttings of cotoneaster which my sister has in abundance in her garden!).  We had pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread for lunch and I got to meet Wanda!  Thanks for your help and advice, Joy.
It was raining when I got back yesterday so I didn't pot them until this morning and they are now sitting on the deck near the back wall of the house so I will be able to see them from the living room.  From the dining room I can see the pots of bulbs and the raspberry canes.
I'm excited about it although my sister didn't seem to be too impressed.  I think I may have taken the edge off of my birthday present.  The clue was her response to my text telling her what I'd bought - "All before your birthday? What are you like?!"  So I'm now busy planning what I want next ... hope she's feeling wealthy!!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 30: October Scavenger Hunt

I'm joining in with Greenthumb's Photo Scavenger Hunt - many thanks to her for organising this every month.

orange - a munchkin pumpkin bought on a shopping trip to Sainsburys

2 - part of a hopscotch grid in a school playground

flower - Gypsophila, included in the bouquet I was given recently

rubbish - the result of DIY waiting to go to the skip

emotion - the tears of a clown, my Pierrot doll

flight - one of the hangliders at Westbury White Horse

homemade - my sister's latest crochet project, a child's blanket

black and white - the panda Ced had as a baby so
it's now 74 years old!

coffee time - with a Danish pastry and a good book

balloon - this one flew over my house low enough for me to
 talk to the occupants who wanted to know where they were!

weather cock - on the top of Hilperton Church

fridge magnet - lots of them at my sister's home

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 29: Keeping Busy

I've been a busy bee so far today.  I had an early start to babysit Tinks and Tweenie until their mum finished work at 8:00am and then back home to tidy round a bit and then up to my sister's house to take the rest of the photos I needed for Greenthumb's scavenger hunt. While I was there I took some pics of the last bits of colour in her garden.

Then off to the bank to deposit all the coins I'd collected.  First the first time ever, every bag contained the correct amount and no counterfeit coins!  I'm going to use the money to replace the missing dining room door; not only will a replacement door make it easier to heat the space but it will also stop cooking smells spreading throughout the house.

Next, shopping in Sainsburys which took longer than I'd planned because I kept chatting to people I know!

Then back home for a coffee and Danish pastry before I get on with the main task for today - bulk cooking for the freezer.  I cooked chilli and bolognaise sauce yesterday and today I'm cooking lentil and vegetable soup, shepherd's pies, cauliflower cheese and chicken curries.  I always keep plenty of choice in the freezer but in the run up to Christmas it is a necessity if I want to eat well - every night from mid November until Dec 22nd I am either playing with the Trowbridge band, playing at school performances with my school bands or singing with one of the choirs I belong to and I simply won't have time to cook anything.  Hence the preparation!

If I have time later I will carry on scanning some of my mum's photographs of our childhood.  At some stage I also need to reprogramme the timer for the central heating but I don't quite understand how it works so my BIL may get a pathetic plea for help!

I'm off to meet up with Joy tomorrow which I'm really looking forward to.  We're meeting at the Lakeside Garden Centre at Crockerton near Warminster so fingers crossed that the weather stays dry so that I can get some photos of the lake.  I'm hoping to buy some pots if they are reasonably priced.  

Monday, 28 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 28: A Night at the Theatre

Last night, despite the appalling weather conditions, I went to Salisbury City Hall to see Sandi Toksvig on stage in her touring show, My Valentine.

image from Google
I'd decided that going to the theatre was one type of activity I was happy to do alone, so a few weeks ago I bought a ticket and off I went.  It's a nice straight run from home to Salisbury and usually takes about an hour but yesterday the rain had left lots of surface water so it took me about 80 minutes to get there, not too bad considering.  I did have a few anxious moments about whether to go or not but in the end decided to get on with it and I'm so glad I did.
I know that she's not everyone's cup of tea but I've always liked her humour and I'm so glad I went.  I laughed so much my sides ached. It was a brilliant evening and I'll definitely go and see her again one day.
The drive home was much worse (took about 100 minutes) but I arrived back safe and sound and very much cheered up.
Today, the effects of the storm can be seen everywhere.  My home is fine, no damage at all but there are lots of damaged trees around with fallen branches across the roads.  There is a power cut on my side of town so I'm writing this post at a friend's house and next I'm off to the library and then to do a bit of shopping.  Hopefully the power will be back on by the time I get home.  Hope you are all safe and weren't too badly hit by the storm.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 26: Sorting Photos

Please can anyone suggest a workable system for organising photos?  What do all you photographers do?

As a result of unpacking all the boxes I have found thousands of photos (prints).  This is no exaggeration.  Ced was a keen photographer, as am I, and we used to have our own darkroom where we churned out literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of prints over the years.   And don't even ask how many images are on the computer as a result of embracing the digital age!  I also currently have all my mum's family photos of our childhood to scan as well.  It really is a massive, but necessary task.  I'll feel better for getting it done, I can enjoy the images and, by getting rid of the bulk of the prints, will clear a load of 'needed for other things' space.
I don't plan to keep the majority of prints as they never get looked at.  The best/favourite photos will be framed and put on the wall but the rest I plan to scan and display via a digital photo frame and then pass the original prints on to family and friends who may want them.  My problem is that I have never found a reliable system for sorting the digital images.  Is it better to sort by subject matter or by date?  I know there is no 'right' answer and that it really boils down to what works for me, but it would be helpful to hear what others do.  I've tried to get this sorted a few times in the past but have never found a good system.  Also, what do you do about backing up copies of the digital images, please?
It'll be a good job for the cold winter evenings and I plan to get started when term starts again on November 6th.  Until then I'm having a break and recharging the batteries.

Friday, 25 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 25: Skywatch Friday

Taken earlier this morning from the dining room.  

Linking with Skywatch Friday

Thursday, 24 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 24: Look After the Pennies ...

... and the pounds will look after themselves.  That's the saying, isn't it?  Well it has certainly proved to be true for me.

For years I've always saved all the 1p, 2p and 5p coins in my purse, saving until the money box was full and then treating myself with whatever amount I'd managed to save, usually about £100 each time.  This practice took a back seat during Ced's illness - I still saved a bit but didn't get round to spending the savings.  As the illness progressed a lot of our possessions,  including money boxes I'd forgotten about,  had to be packed away and stored to make room for the increasing amounts of hospital equipment we needed.  

I've now unpacked what I believe to be all of the money boxes - I didn't realise I had quite so many! When I emptied them, this was the pile of coins (the wooden bowl is 14 inches in diameter) -

All I have to do now is count it and bag it up to take to the bank.  I'll let you know what the final total is - it's earmarked for either a new bread maker or a replacement dining room door as the original one was removed by the previous owners.

Update:  the grand total is £162.50!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 22: Dufflebobble Crafters

Well tonight is the first meeting of the local Dufflebobble Crafts and I've chosen my project, with help from Joy.  I'm going to do some hexagon patchwork using these fabrics, chosen at the last minute yesterday!

I've printed out some templates but haven't actually cut any hexies out yet, which serves me right for leaving it to the last minute! I'm hoping to end up with either a patchwork bag or a cushion.  We'll see how it goes!

Linking with Ruby Tuesday Too.

Monday, 21 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 21: Monday Mellow Yellows

One of the flowers in the bouquet I was given yesterday.

Linking with Monday Mellow Yellows

Saturday, 19 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 19: Weekly Snippets

I only have time for a quick post today.  It's the band memorial concert tonight with a final practice for the children this morning.   Unfortunately, it is also the carnival procession tonight and because the roads close at 6:00pm I will need to leave home at 5:30pm for a concert that doesn't start until 7:30pm.  Not too happy about that as the church is bound to be cold!
It has been a week of concerts.  I have formed a new band in my Thursday school and they performed in their assembly for the first time. They were very nervous but did really well, I was so proud of them.  They all definitely have more confidence than I did at their age (7 - 10 years old).
It is 'Evaluate your life day' today, something I seem to have been doing continuously lately.  I won't bore you with the details but I've come to the conclusion that I still have to work on getting the correct balance in my life, which covers all aspects, from time spent working/not working, time spent with adults/with children, time spent socialising/time spent on my own ... etc.  I know there is no easy answer but have come to realise that for a lot of these things, time is the only solution.  Either circumstances will change over time or my attitude, as I get used to living without Ced in my life, will change.  That all sounds a bit garbled so I hope you can follow my meaning!
Got to go, I've just seen the time and I need to open the hall on the other side of town for this morning's practice session.  Hope you all have a good day.

Friday, 18 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 18: Skywatch Friday

Late afternoon, the view from my dining room on a grey, cloudy day as the light is failing.  This is the best of a bad bunch!
Linking with Skywatch Friday

Thursday, 17 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 17: Little Details

I'm linking today with Carolyn over at Mess, Muddle and Fun to join in with her Messy Little Details meme, where she invites others to share images of the small things that catch their eye - a detail, a colour, a texture.  Also with Kim at Little by Little to join in with her Little Things Thursday meme.

I'm sharing an image of one of the many additions to my key ring.  It's part of an antique pistol - the hammer action of a flintlock to be more precise and I love the curving shape and the detailing on it.  Most of all, I love it because it belonged to Ced and he used to always keep it on his key ring.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 16: W... W... W... Wednesdays

I'm joining in with a meme organised by MizB @ shouldbereading. To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: 'A Perfectly Good Man' by Patricia Gale.  I've only just read the first three pages so don't have an opinion on it yet.

Recently finished: I joined in with the Dewey 24hour read-a-thon last weekend and managed to finish one book ('Sworn to Silence' by Linda Castillo) and complete another ('Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn).  'Gone Girl' wasn't quite what I was expecting but still enjoyable although I was disappointed by the ending. I can't go in to details as it may spoil the book for someone else!

Reading next: I'm going to read 'Glow' by Jessica Maria Tuccellli which the blurb on the back of the book describes as a tale of family secrets spanning a century.  This one was recommended by my sister and, as we share very similar tastes in books, it should be good!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 15: Planning the Garden 1

This post is a plea for ideas.  Just so you know!

I have an idea in my head about what I want in the garden re the hard landscaping but it is the actual planting ideas that I need help/pointing in the right direction. I am not a gardener, that was Ced's domain, so anything I plant needs to be fairly low maintenance, i.e. hack it back prune it once a year and able to survive for a while if I forget to water it!

It won't be a neat and formal garden, more the wild and slightly overgrown look and I plan to mix the vegetables in with the flowers and shrubs.  In my mind this looks beautiful and artistic but as for what it'll really look like ... we'll wait and see.

I walked round my sister's huge garden on Saturday morning and we made a list of what I like so she will sort out some cuttings to get me started.  Here's what I have the choice of (all photos are from Google):




winter jasmine
Himalayan honeysuckle
summer jasmine

The only one I'm really sure will end up in the garden is the Himalayan honeysuckle as this will give the height needed to block out a street lamp. The plan is to keep the others to a reasonable size but these would be the biggest plants I'd want as the garden is on the small side.

What I'm looking for are ideas for smaller shrubs that keep a good shape, require minimum maintenance and are up to about 3ft max height.  Also ground cover planting that is controllable and doesn't take over.   I prefer red, purple and white flowers and I'm not too fond of variegated leaves.  Ornamental grasses are also a possibility.  Anything planted needs to be edible and/or photogenic or it's out!!!

The majority of the planting will be into the ground but there will also be plenty of scope for container planting.  Part of the garden behind the garage doesn't get much direct sun but the rest has the sunshine throughout the afternoon and evening.  The small patch of garden at the front of the house gets the sunshine in the morning.

So over to you.  Any ideas please? 

Monday, 14 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 14: Staverton Sewing Bee

A leaflet has just come through the door advertising the start of a weekly sewing bee in the village.  I've been thinking about joining one of these as a way of getting to meet some different people but the ones I have seen have either been daytime or too far away.
I have no excuse with this one as it is to be held in the village hall which is about five minutes walk from my home.  It will be on a Tuesday evening, so it doesn't clash with anything else I have planned and it is only £3 a time so is not too expensive.
In the past I haven't really  been a clubby sort of person, but ... my life is different now and this is an easy and cheap alternative to sitting at home alone and will be doing something I enjoy.  So I'm going to give it a try. Two things helped me make up my mind. Firstly,  the sewing bee is called 'Dufflebobble Crafts' which is such a brilliant name and secondly, on the leaflet they ask 'do you quilt, embroider, dress-make or upcycle your PJs or do you create masterpieces with knickers?' - I just have to go to see if anyone does actually create masterpieces with knickers! Sorry, strange sense of humour, I know. Also, there is a mention of cake!!
It starts next week so between now and then I have to sort out a project to take.  I don't want to take my sewing machine so am looking for a hand sewing project and one that is easy to carry around.  Any ideas?

Saturday, 12 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 12: Dewey 24hr Read-a-Thon

Today sees the start of the Dewey 24hr read-a-thon and unfortunately I'm slightly late starting as I have just got back from band, so I'm just logging in and registering that I have started.  I'll be updating this post throughout the 24 hours.
Hour 1: Introductory Questionnaire
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?  Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Glow by Jessica Maria Tuccelli
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Oranges, cheese straws, scones
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I'm a peripatetic music teacher who is also an  avid reader.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?  This is my second read-a-thon and this time I am better organised with a wide variety of books and lots of snacks.

After 4hrs 30mins: Reading Status
Books Read since last update: Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo (147 - 374)
Pages Read since last update: 227
Total Pages Read: 227
Foods Consumed since last update: 2 mugs of coffee + chicken curry
Books Started: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Books Finished: 1
Total time read: 270 mins (out of a possible 270 mins)

After 9hrs: Reading Status
Books Read since last update: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (1 - 167)
Pages Read since last update: 167
Total Pages Read: 394
Foods Consumed since last update: 2 mugs of coffee, cheese straws, Snickers bar
Books Started: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Books Finished: 1
Total time read: 520 mins (out of a possible 540 mins)

After 16hrs: Reading Status
Books Read since last update: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (up to 189)
Pages Read since last update: 22
Total Pages Read: 416
Foods Consumed since last update: nothing - had to get some sleep!!
Books Started: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Books Finished: 1
Total time read: 610 mins (out of a possible 960 mins)

After 20hrs 30mins: Reading Status
Books Read since last update: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (189 - 337)
Pages Read since last update:148
Total Pages Read: 564
Foods Consumed since last update: coffee, toast with marmite, egg custard tart
Books Started: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Books Finished: 1
Total time read: 880 mins (out of a possible 1230 mins)
After 24hrs: Reading Status
Books Read since last update: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (338 - 466)
Pages Read since last update:128
Total Pages Read: 692
Foods Consumed since last update: coffee, cheese straws
Books Started: none
Books Finished: 2
Total time read: 1090 mins (out of a possible 1440 mins)
After 24hrs:  End of event summary
  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?  About 11:30pm, I just couldn't stay awake.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I wouldn't necessarily recommend any of the books I read this year - they were chosen to be undemanding reads
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? not really. 
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? The cheerleaders were very good.
  5. How many books did you read?  I read 2 books.
  6. What were the names of the books you read? Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  8. Which did you enjoy least? I enjoyed both of them
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? N/A
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Yes I'll do it again as a reader.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Thursday, 10 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 10: The Simple Woman's Daybook 10th October 2013


Outside my window ... there is sunshine and a beautiful blue sky, but a cold autumnal wind.

I am thinking ... about Christmas and what to buy everyone.  Sorry to mention the 'C' word! 

I am thankful ... so many things.  My new life is heading in the right direction and I'm happy with a lot of the decisions I have made lately.  I am thankful that very gradually, some aspects of daily life are getting easier and a sort of contentment is settling in.

In the kitchen ... I am preparing spaghetti bolognaise to share with Julie and Lauren when they come round later this evening.

I am wearing ... red and white, skirt and jumper.

I am creating ... worksheets for next week's lessons.

I am going ... to phone my niece later.  She handed in her notice today following some unpleasantness at work and I want to see how she is.

I am wondering ... whether to try the 5/2 diet plan, where you fast for two days a week.  I've read the book and in theory it sounds good but not sure how well I'll cope with the fasting.  I'm more interested in it as some people have mentioned that it improves their pain control and that's one aspect of life I need to sort out.

I am reading ... 'Sworn to Silence' by Linda Castillo.  I've only just started it but so far it is good.

I am hoping ... that the weather stays fine for the weekend.  I want to go on a photo walk with friends.

I am looking forward to ... seeing Sandi Toksvig at the end of the month. 

I am learning ... that time is a great healer.  Slowly, slowly, life is more bearable and I am looking to the future with some enjoyment.  

Around the house ... it is very quiet.  All I can hear is the tapping of the keys on the laptop and the hum of its fan.

I am pondering ... nothing in particular. 

One of my favourite things ... sitting at the dining room table, hot cup of coffee in hand and just watching the changing sky through the French doors.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Teaching tomorrow and band practice on Saturday.  A photo walk on Sunday, weather permitting.  Some housework and catching up on paperwork.

A peek into my day ... Had a long chat with Laura who popped in to see me this morning and then I've been teaching at my Thursday school all afternoon.  They had a special assembly so the normal timetable was messed up but everyone had a lesson or sorts.  Tonight, Julie and Lauren are coming round for a meal and to help me sort out some things to sell at the next car boot sale.

A favourite quote for today ...

image from Google

Linking with The Simple Woman's Daybook

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 8: Decluttering

Maybe I'm naive but I didn't expect decluttering the house to be such an emotional experience.  Time consuming, but not emotional!  I've now opened all of the boxes and have decided on the things I am definitely going to keep, all of which I have found a place for and it is put away and being used, or will be used.  Opening all the boxes brought to light so many things I'd forgotten about, it's surprising how quickly we forget isn't it. That was stage 1.

Stage 2 will take a lot more time, maybe a year or longer.  I have the living room, dining room, kitchen and master bedroom reasonably tidy and sorted but this is what's left to do ...

I can't even face photographing the state of the garage!

It may look a mess but it is sorted to a degree, honestly!!  I do know where everything is now.  Most of it will be sold at car boot sales or on eBay and there is a lot of Ced's stuff which needs to go to specialist dealers, such as the meccano, coins and medals. That's the stuff that will take the time to sell and get the right price. 

It is the decision making that is the emotional challenge.  I'm fine when I comes to my own possessions and even the things we bought together.  If I still like it or I need to use it then it stays, if not it goes.  Easy decision.  The problem starts with Ced's things, his treasures.  Some of his things I love and I'll keep but I have no real interest in most of it. That's the sensible side of my brain in action.  However, actually making myself get on with disposing of his possessions is another game all together and it feels like I'm putting him out of my life.  Intellectually, I know that is fanciful and completely untrue.  I'll always have the memories and I can photograph everything that goes. But.  It's hard.

Julie and Lauren are coming to tea on Thursday and after the meal we plan to sort out some things ready for the first sale.  I'm also going to show Julie how to sell on eBay as she's never done it before but wants to learn. I'm concentrating on the room in the final photo.  This currently houses the freezer, washing machine and tumble dryer and was used by the previous owners as a sort of utility room.  I plan to change it back to its original use so it will be my study and this is where I'll keep my piano and other instruments and also the computer and printer.  This is the carrot to make me get on with the decluttering.  If I want the study back, then I need to sell things as that's how I plan to finance it. I'm not setting myself a timescale but I'll let you know how I get on.

Monday, 7 October 2013

BlogtoberFest Day 7: Car Boot Sale Bargains

Yesterday morning dawned all misty with the promise of a beautiful sunny day. And where was I?  Up at 6:00am, dressed, fed and sitting in the middle of a field helping my friend Julie to sell her goodies at a car boot sale.

I've done it once before and enjoyed myself.  The plan was for me to also sell some of my goodies but I'd had such a bad week I hadn't found the time to sort anything out - that'll be for next time.  Julie had a good morning, sold plenty of things and made about £60.  Of course we'll never make our fortunes doing this as we both succumbed to the temptations around us.  Here are my bargain buys:

Two small enamel dishes - £0 (Julie was going to sell them but donated them to me - I did offer to pay!) and a Union Jack bone china mug - £1.

A Lyons C clarinet - £18.  This may not seem like much of a bargain but I plan to resell this - they retail for approx £160 new and second hand usually sell for between £50 - £90 so I should make a healthy profit.  I'll wait to sell until the next time I'm due to take on new pupils in my schools and will then advertise it in the school newsletters. 

Brand new rowing boat print - 50p. This is to go in the family bathroom once I get it framed.  I actually bought this at the previous boot sale a few weeks ago - it was for sale on the stall opposite and it kept catching my eye so I asked the price.  At 50p it was too good to miss and I didn't even have to leave the stall to buy it as the very kind man brought it over to me!

We also indulged in some very yummy bacon rolls which we enjoyed sitting in the warm sun.  I've had plenty of fresh air and have to admit that I feel much better.  Now all I have to do is sort out my own things to sell.  Watch this space!!