Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Tying the knot

John and I are getting married.....we have had one attempt at this before and it just was not possible to get all the paperwork arranged in time for our ceremony in Hong Kong, so we 'committed' to each other in the garden of a friend and had a wonderful party.
This time, we are cutting it fine again! We hope to be able to arrange the paperwork in time to visit the local registry office while my parents are here in England. The last week of October is the target. I will keep you posted.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

impromptu party

Emily and some friends went out for pizza at lunchtime on her birthday then came back to our place for Banoffee pie...made by moi! Hannah had been swimming with her girlfriend and so we had 6 rather screechy young women in the house. They tucked into cake and drinks and as I was cooking dinner and most of them were making plans to be collected by parents it came to pass that they were all staying for said dinner!! Adam arrived home in time to quickly change and go out with Ben, who got some of the girls a titter as he is 'so fit'!! In the end Adam and I both ate from the meal, Japanese curry and it was great. So Em ended up having a party and it was a very nice day.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Emily is 13

Tomorrow our youngest, Emily will be 13. We will have three teenagers in the house! I am not sure if saying this here will put a hex on us, but they are for the most part not neaderthol-like; messy, yes very, noisy, sometimes, all like loud sometimes tuneless music, don't like doing chores, argue, but they are lovely people, with opinions and ideas and dreams and plans and all have a good sense of humour! They talk to us about their lives and I for one don't feel as if I have no idea what is going on all the time!

No big plans for the birthday girl as we took her and a friend to Thorpe Park last weekend She has asked for Japanese curry and a banoffee pie for her birthday dinner and will be having lunch with some girl friends in Pizza Express tomorrow. Cool.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

More scraps

I love charity shops. More than antique shops! I was in the St Catherine's Hospice place the other day and noticed some glass storage jars. I like glass, because I like to see what is in them and it makes a food cupboard look more exciting if you can see orange lentils and brown sultanas and different shaped pasta. So I bought four! At £4.50 for the lot that is good value; one new one can cost more! Today I went to collect them and was having a further poke around. I look for jackets, shoes, bags, jewelry and in the curtains/fabric piles. Today I found a bag of tiny hexagon pieces stitched into flowers. They are beautiful colours and about 1/4 of the size of my pieces at home. The fabric is for soft furnishings, curtains etc and some of them are stunning. I snapped them up and counted about 35 of them when I got back to the office. Many are missing the centres and as the material is quite heavy, finishing this off might be more of a challenge than usual. But I have had an idea that these little pieces could form a centre piece for a larger quilt....mmmm

I also bought a great little mulberry coloured jacket that fits snugly and is a little feminine! All for £10.50. I love to get a bargain!

Julie and Julia and Liz?

John and I went to see the film about the American Chef, Julia Child and her passion for food and cooking. It was funny and warming, although Meryl Streep seems to have mastered only one facet of Julia Child's personality....there must have been more to her than portrayed. BUT, the feeling I had when we left was one of slight envy. Only in that Julie Powell found her life's work, her passion, her calling through something that she liked to do, which was cooking. I told John how I was feeling and he rather sagely said, 'well, find yours...'
I would if I could. I love writing, but what about? Me is not very thrilling and having tried, (I did the NaNoWriMo National Novel Writing Month - challenge a few years ago) to write stories, found that hard. I love quilting, cooking, gardening and speaking Japanese. So how do I do what I love to make a living?

Plod on!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Japan Matsuri 2009

This year marks 150 years of trade/relations between Japan and the UK and to celebrate, a festival (matsuri) was held in Spitalfields in London on Saturday. Emily and Hannah have hand made yukatas (summer kimonos - beautifully made by their grandmother) so they decided to wear them. Unfortunately for Hannah, her best friend's birthday party clashed time-wise, so in the end, Emily, her friend Caity and I went up to the city. Caity borrowed Hannah's yukata and they looked great. It was my first time to tie them into one and coincidentally, Mum S had called from Yokohama the night before. She gave me lots of advice about how to do it, but it is easier said than done! Anyway, you can see the result here.

Fab festival. So many stalls selling things like tako yaki, kara-age, dorayaki, beer, sake, was wonderful. Caity now says her favourite food is tako yaki! It was however, CROWDED, in true festival tradition. There were lots of performers and performances and noise.

I loved being able to talk in Japanese and to eat the food and have an ice cold beer with my brother who joined us.

The girls were constantly being asked to pose for photos and were interviewed by one TV crew...pity we don't know which one!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Autumn Bliss

The air and light change subtly through the seasons and now in the mornings the sun hangs lower over the neighbours fence. The air is colder, and seems more sharp. Of course leaves are changing colour, more of a giveaway, but it is those tiny changes that I love best.
The first two winters here were hard. I hated the long dark days and the period when the ground was frozen and nothing grew. It is different now. We have had a great crop of fruit and veg this year and the soil, plants and trees now need to rest. I have planted up strawberry runners to over-winter, some fuschias and have taken seeds from sweet peas, and other annuals for next year.
In the long nights I want to sew and cook and read. A friend and I are going to start a sewing circle, just two of us! I want to learn to crochet so that I can make one of those lovely multi coloured rugs that my granny used to make... I also want to finish the quilts and use the sewing machine. It had its first run this week and behaved like a very old lady! Stopping and starting and dithering over stitches. By the end we got the motor really revving, so are hoping the next attempt will be better. Having said that it was a bit stop and go, I did get to downsize a double duvet cover for Em's new bed!!
Finally, the Autumn Bliss raspberry canes are providing fruit daily. I freeze them as I pick them so that we can make a vibrant dessert from them when things look a bit grey!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

End of August

One of the tasks I had set during August was to get Hannah's room painted. Both girls complain that their rooms do not feel like their own, so it was time to make a mark.
Hannah chose green, a pale one for three walls and a darker one for one. It is almost a macha colour (green tea). The result was calming and as I did all the painting and it is the second room I have ever painted, it was pleasing to me too. I did learn how NOT to do certain things. Every day after work while the light was still good I painted. It was all done before the last weekend in the month.
We then scooted up to Whitley Bay for a long weekend. We took turns driving up on Friday night, but after 5 hours on the road we stopped at Scotch Corner for the night. The Scotch Corner Hotel has always appealed to John, but I have to say...well. First of all we were in the bowels of the hotel, the room was smelly with mold and the bed hard. The view was of a Biffa skipp overflowing with rubbish! We had a good laugh at it all but did wake fresher than if we had been on the road til midnight and they do a good breakfast.

I went out for coffee with John's mum when we got to the house and then had to have a rest! Not that she is hard going, but the night was going to be long....we went to a 50th birthday party of one of John's school mates.
Out in the country, located beside a pub(!), the house was lovely. The food was delivered by a fish and chip van and we had to line up and place our orders. Dessert was an ice-cream van, so we had 99's with sauce!
It was fun, with lots of dancing and drinking and some of us were a little delicate the next day.

On the Sunday we took John's parents out for lunch in the Scottish border country at a town called Yetholm We had a delicious shoulder of lamb with red cabbage, carrots and mashed pototoes, at the pub shown in the link here, but the meal would have fed two. John and I then took to the hills and climbed one of the crags to work off some of the calories. It was lovely up there, two of us, sky above and only the odd munching sheep around.
Back to EG on Monday, again both of us driving and just in time to move some of Hannah's furniture back into her room.

It was a brilliant month, we saw so many friends but we had lots of time together as well.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

What happened to August? 2

After Devon, the girls left for three weeks in Japan. They flew to Narita alone for the first time. A good experience for them both. We did not hear much from them, which is great, as they were having a wonderful time. Their father took them to Kyoto for a few days, a lovely but hot city to visit in the summer.
While they were away, John and I had a really blissful period with just the two of us. (Adam was around, but mostly out.) It is the longest we have been alone together since we met....makes you wonder how we decided that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together with fleeting visits, emails and on line chatting!!

Anyway, August...

We met up with some of John's FCO friends in London. First time for me to meet the people he started his career with. A fun and liquid night.

Then we had friends around for a barbeque. Just four of us, but again, good food, wine and company.

We drove to Nottinghamshire for a weekend. (pics to follow when the camera comes back from Spain. It is there with Hannah at present). Lunch with a friend from LA then a joint 50th and 21st birthday party for a mother and son, Valerie and Greg, friends from Hong Kong. I met some of John's friends that he had promised were lovely and they were!

We spent the next day by a canal watching narrow boats coming through locks. What a life. I was on-line that night checking out narrow boat holidays!

Then back to EG and work....

Friday, 11 September 2009

What happened to August? 1

It whizzed past, but we had a great month. A week in Devon started wet, but ended in sunshine and waves. The surf is good there. We also went fishing, John, Emily and I went while Hannah went off with her friend to the beach. The mackerel fishing was fun but only John was successful. Em caught one only to have it leap off the hook as she reeled it in. We had the fish for breakfast! Devon is hilly and quaint and there seems to be a lot of farm between villages. The north coast is national park and is stunning. Hope you like these pictures.
More to follow.