A day in my life

A year ago yesterday, I did the A Beautiful Mess exercise to take a photo every hour to document my day. That particular day last year was a little more interesting than my day this year but I thought it’d be a nice idea to do the same thing this year (and the year after and so on and so on), just to document the changing years. Last year both kids were on half term break and we had a day trip to Hampton Court Palace, this year Boy Lacer had a teacher training day but Girl Lacer was still at school. Also, whereas last year I didn’t have any shifts that day, this year I had five hours worth and I can’t really show you what I work on. Anyway, here’s my day, it was considerably longer than last year’s.


Ugh my feet look horrible, not as horrible as my TMJ though, which keeps waking me up


I did manage to get back to sleep thankfully, here I am sorting my clothes for the day, going for a goth German kids storybook look (minus my great big white hammocks of a bra)


Filling in some school paperwork, I love how you can do a lot of it online now.


Okay, I may ‘love’ filling in paperwork online but it’s a bit embarrassing when the teacher (an IT teacher to boot) emails you back to say the form didn’t fill in, so trying again (I did, after four attempts, get there eventually)


Heading to the shops


Heading back from the shops


Reading a link from Twitter and eating some Graze beef jerky


My bed is my office and my studio, just tidying it up a bit


Doing some EPP, working on the Diamond Hex quilt


I’d written, last month I think, that I tend to prepare one set of shapes and then sew them on before cutting out more fabric, I’ve just started to prepare all the shapes for a diamond now before sewing it together, it somehow feels quicker that way.


Doing some housework (loading the dishwasher) but not feeling brilliant, so having a quick sit down.


My actual 5.07pm photo is a photo of Boy Lacer but here’s one of him shortly afterwards in disguise.


The kids’ tea, I know, not particularly healthy.


Starting work for the day (god I need to use some hand moisturiser or something).


Coffee to keep me going.


One of the benefits of working from home and having a job where if no work is coming in at that very moment, I have nothing to do, means that I can sometimes pick up some embroidery and do a few stitches, whilst waiting for more work to arrive. (Embroidery pattern by Sublime Stitching)


Another drink


Another quiet patch means more embroidery.


Bed time! Whilst brushing the crumbs out of the bed, I snagged my hand on a needle, oops, even worse, when I got into bed, I found another one!

Down Station

Down StationDown Station by Simon Morden

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The beginning of Down Station is really good, a group of tube workers are working underground after the tube is closed for the night, when a series of loud noises and then the power going off, alerts them that something is very wrong. And when the fires start, they have to flee for their lives. A group of them make it to the exit, to discover that there’s still no escape, when suddenly beyond the exit door is the sea. The group make it through to discover a strange, almost empty land and when they do meet people, can they be trusted?

There is always a danger for me, with books that are based in both real and fantasy worlds, that I may not like the fantasy world very much and yep, it took me quite a while to get into the fantasy world aspect of it, so the middle dragged a bit but it definitely picked up towards the end! And although I did find the story a bit annoyingly moralistic, it can definitely be commended for the diversity of the main characters. The book ends with lots of unanswered questions, I am looking forward to the next one, as I think the next one has been set up to be even more exciting.

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5 things I liked this week -27.5.16

1. The joy of a decent night’s sleep! My TMJ has been preventing me from sleeping properly but thanks to the power of modern pharmaceuticals my jaw no longer feels like I’ve just been violently punched and now feels like it was violently punched a few days ago, which is a massive improvement!*
2. A bit shallow I know but I have a massive girl crush on the character of Elise in The Tunnel, we’re catching up with it (so no spoilers!) but she gives me massive hair envy, especially when she has her hair up in a bun (I’m currently growing my hair out from a pretty short cut, it’s currently just past my ears now and I now look slightly less middle aged, thank god, but it will be a long time before I can put my hair up in a bun again).

Picture credit

And whilst we’re on the subject of The Tunnel, isn’t Stephen Dillane’s character Karl, such the reincarnation of Stannis (yes I know it’s the same actor)? Both with their roving eyes.
3. Finishing something! I really enjoyed Lisa Congdon’s Sketchbook exploration class on Creativebug.
4. Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations Popping Candy Shell ice cream, which is quite new I think and absolutely delicious! They’re quite difficult to find though and have only had the one (which is probably quite good, thinking about it) from my local Co-op. I love the Marvellous Creations Popping Candy chocolate bars, they’re my go to chocolate bar of choice normally (although I’m currently trying to avoid them, as they’re a bit chewy) and the chocolate bar in ice cream form is even better! The outer chocolate shell has popping candy and inside is a vanilla and raspberry ice cream with the odd jelly bean. My favourite bit has to be the raspberryness actually, raspberry is not normally a flavour I readily associate with ice cream but it’s really nice, it’s made me think I need more raspberry ice cream in my life and not necessarily with added jelly beans and popping candy.
5. Graze have an online store! Obviously Graze have always had an online store, they’re an online subscription business but they’ve now also got a store where you can buy exactly what you want, in multipacks / large bags. I used to have a Graze subscription but gave it up in a money saving exercise (something the kids still ask me about, when we’d have it back again) but being able to bulk buy just my favourite snacks, with none of the risk of a week of meh snacks, Graze, I’m back baby! My favourite Graze snacks are their beef jerky (which is weird, as the idea of any other beef jerky leaves me cold) and their thai tom yum soup, now one of those snacks is good for my TMJ and one of them is really, really bad …. But anyway, I did a bit of a stock up, my kids are now happy healthy snack bunnies and I’ve got something that will hopefully keep me away from the chocolate.

*Edited to add: (as I always write my 5 things blog posts over the week, as I think of the things I like), the power of modern pharmaceuticals didn’t last long, as I’m now back to a few hours of broken sleep a night, oh well, the sleep was nice whilst it lasted, TMJ sucks, well it would, if sucking too much wasn’t also bad for your jaw.

On the menu: more easy baking



As last week’s muffins didn’t really hit the spot (I was right, some were thrown away), I had another go with another Pinterest recipe and this time the result was a lot more successful. These are Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins from Money Saving Mom and they were rather nice. The recipe calls for either butter or olive oil, I used olive oil, so you can taste that a little and they do taste slightly virtuous but not in an overwhelming “why can’t I just eat a proper cake?” way. You can’t even really tell there’s oats in there either, the muffins are really light and fluffy. I predict with 100% certainty that none of these will get thrown away!

Lisa Congdon’s Sketchbook Explorations


I’ve been, on and very off, since last February, doing Lisa Congdon’s Sketchbook Exploration class, over on Creativebug.


Don’t take the length of time this class has taken me, as a bad thing, well it is a bad thing for me personally, that I obviously didn’t feel I could devote more time to this, as this class has been brilliant. I love Lisa’s work and it has been fantastic learning from her.


The class is very much about learning to play with your sketchbook, it’s split into four sections, the first section is watercolour backgrounds and line drawing. Lisa talks you through an example (the spider web like picture above) but she also encourages you to try the technique with your own ideas (which I did with the two raindrop pictures).


The second section looks at using collage with your line drawings, above is the worked example and below is my idea.


The third section looks at layered abstract drawing with brush and gel pens, thanks for introducing me to tombow pens Lisa, you’ve started an addiction!

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The final section looks at mixed media on paper, something to have up on your wall and this is what I’ve had a lot of fun making this afternoon. I followed Lisa’s example but also added some embroidery, as she did suggest also using what you know. I know it sounds a bit big headed but I am really pleased with the result!


And some close ups.



Doing this class over three and a half months and looking back at my earlier pictures, I can see that I’ve grown a bit in skill and confidence, I still have a long way to go yet though, never stop learning! I just need to remember to keep playing in my sketchbook!

5 things I liked this week -20.5.16

1. The lovely nurses at an outpatient’s procedure, it was the sort of procedure which is way up there on the list of things you don’t want doctors doing to you but the nurses were so nice and friendly and welcoming and reassuring, that they put me instantly at ease. Also of note, as usual most of the nurses were (from their accents) not originally from the UK and I would like to wheel any of the anti-immigrant bigots into that theatre and see if they still have the same views. I’m sure that there isn’t some NHS hiring policy that only hires people from overseas and that there isn’t legions of unemployed British health care workers because all the health care jobs have been taken by immigrants, as this article shows, there’s currently a chronic shortfall in nurses. I just wish that all the bigots out there would actually take a moment to sit down and actually think what the world would be like, on a practical level if they can’t handle the morality, if they got their way.

2.This article by Ruby Tandoh on the whole clean eating thing, she says a lot of good things like.

Remember above all that you will be nourished not only by the food you eat, but by the pleasure you take in it.

3. I’m pretty sure I’ve said here before, that I try not to show pictures etc of my kids here because I want them to be old enough to decide for themselves whether they want to be on social media and I’m pretty sure I’ve also said, that when my kids got to an age when they were using social media, I may, if it’s relevant, start putting pictures etc up here. Anyway, Girl Lacer has a friend who likes making films, she’s been in one before, a few years back and this week she was in another, both films were about zombies, so you can really see how her friend is growing up into being a filmmaker with a lot of potential. People go on about kids today being just glued to their screens and yes that does happen, the internet has also really given the same kids a chance to explore their creativity. If anyone likes zombie films made by talented 12 year olds, the video is here.

4. I love following what Space X is doing, so I love this clip of their recently landed rocket.

5. I love this article from The Guardian We’re living in an age full of possibilities. So why do so many of us feel like losers?. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds switching on the news these days a bit butt-clenching, things are happening that feel like history book happening, we have so much potential opportunity these days, yet it seems the more opportunity there is, the more nut jobs seem to spring up to try and deny it or even worse deny it and hoard it all to themselves. I’m sure that we, as a species, could get through the problems we’re facing right now but we seem to be perversely attracted to the very leaders who are more likely to increase the problems rather than solve them. We can’t separate ourselves, as either individuals or countries and hope that it’s all going to go away.


On the menu: It’s back!!!

My cooking mojo that is, well, sort of, I still don’t feel like doing anything hideously complicated. I obviously have been cooking, I have kids to feed but, well, thank goodness for school dinners. I can get away with sandwiches most nights and when it’s not sandwiches, it’s something like pasta, which means it’s still sandwiches for Boy Lacer, as he’s not keen on most of my cooking, unless it’s a sandwich or a cake. But I haven’t been cooking anything from a recipe for ages, that was until Girl Lacer had yet another international food thing on at school and whenever it’s international anything, Girl Lacer digs deep into her slightly Welsh ancestry (we do have Welsh ancestors and her grandad lives in Wales now but she could just as equally claim French ancestry or Irish, as we have a bit of that in our families too) and she gets me to make Bara Brith (which I blogged about when I first made it here and it’s still delicious and yes I was right, it is better going for seperate bags of dried fruit instead of a mixed bag because that way you can avoid the orange peel). When I make Bara Brith I always use an adapted version of Paul Hollywood’s recipe and I really do need to make it more often, as it’s a lovely cake for only 50g of sugar and no fat (if you don’t count the egg), it’s dead easy to make too. Anyway, I ended up making Bara Brith twice, as due to me misunderstanding Girl Lacer, I thought she needed the Bara Brith on one Friday when it turned out she actually needed it for the Friday after, never mind, that meant Bara Brith for us! So, anyway, going back to an old favourite, sort of cleared the rust off my cooking mojo a bit, so I’m going to try and cook a bit more, although this will not last long, as I (hopefully, if it isn’t cancelled) have surgery next month and although I’ll apparently be able to ‘cook a light meal’, I won’t be back up to full strength for at least 4 months.

Also to add to everything, my TMJ has flared up, last time I had a major flare up (about two years ago), it was months on painkillers, I only managed to get better by going on a soft food diet for nearly a month, I remember virtually living off rice pudding, which isn’t healthy! I don’t want to spend that long on painkillers again, so I’m going to have to try and stick to soft food again, to see if I can give my jaw a rest but living off soft food does sort of put a dampner on any cooking plans too. Anyway.



I spotted the recipe for brown sugar muffins on Pinterest and it looked really nice, I’m not going to link to it though, as I’m about to be a bit critical, so being a bit critical and linking to the recipe feels a bit mean, so I won’t link. The idea of brown sugar muffins is really nice, like you’re getting down to the pure cakey-ness, without any of the distraction from the icing or fancy flavourings but the thing is, when you do that, you’ve got to make sure the cake is really good and, well, these aren’t. These are stodgy, bland (a good, plain cake, should ideally never be called that) and they’ve got too much baking powder in, as you can taste it, yuck. They are edible but they somehow have that taste of pretty much everything I made in cookery classes at school (whether it was cake or soup, everything I made at school always had that certain taste) and I don’t think these are one of those cakes that’s going to improve with time, so although some of these cakes have been /will be eaten, I think quite a few are going to end up in the bin.