Sunday, 28 April 2013

Bear Birthday

This weekend was daughter's 9th birthday and after wearing ourselves out last year doing an Olympic Party, (and that was with 3 PE teachers helping!) we decided to take the easy option and throw money at her birthday this year.  We invited 8 girls to a Build a Bear Workshop Party followed by lunch at Pizza Hut.  It was easy, stress free and daughter said it was "awesome"!

Daughter chose Paddington Bear:

 while her friends chose a variety of other bears.

They stuffed them, hugged them and dressed them.  

We then trooped along to Pizza Hut where they built their pizzas, ate them and then had unlimited ice-cream factory:

Then it was time for the cake...........

I didn't know what to do this year, so my  hairdresser suggested a pizza cake.  

Great idea!

I didn't have much time last week, so in true, Working Mum style, I had to be organised.  Last Saturday I made the sponge and put it in the freezer, I made the buttercream and put it in the fridge and grated some white chocolate.  Then, on Thursday, after I'd dropped daughter at Brownies, I popped into my local pizza place and begged a box off them, came home, made the decorations and assembled the cake:

 I think she liked it.

Happy 9th Birthday, Izzy!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Cakes and Brakes

So here are the cakes I made for a cupcake demo for year 11 pupils:

Today I thought I would get ahead and prepare everything in advance for daughter's birthday cake before I go to sing at the Bridgewater Hall this afternoon.  Her birthday is on Friday and with Choir rehearsal on Tuesday, another Parents' Evening this Wednesday (I'm sure that's the 37th Parents' Evening I've done this year) and piano lesson and Brownies on Thursday, I just won't have much time during the week.

I baked the cake, which I can freeze, I made the buttercream which is now in the fridge and I decided to check the colours of regal ice I had for the decorations.  I needed two more colours and thought I'd nip to the cake shop and buy them rather than waste time making them.

I hopped into my car, turned it on, took the handbrake off and.............. my car wouldn't move.

Checked again, yes, handbrake is off.  

Car won't move.  

Brakes locked.


Have now booked my car into garage on Tuesday.  Fingers crossed it will manage to get around tomorrow (I'm doing a chocolate course) and Monday (need it to take daughter and friend to choir rehearsals after school).

What else can conspire to make my life even busier than it already is?

Sunday, 14 April 2013

You know all those plates I spin? I dropped one.

Life doesn't get any easier, does it?

Take this weekend.  I had agreed to do a cupcake demo at school on Monday knowing that I had all day Sunday to prepare while hubby took daughter to swimming and riding in the morning and a party in the afternoon.

Then, Manchester City decided to play a match at Wembley and there seems to be some unwritten rule that if your team plays at Wembley you have to go.  So, no hubby on Sunday.

This meant that I had to prepare for demo (about 5 hours work) whilst doing housework, supervising daughter's homework and piano practice and about 4 hours marking all on Saturday so that I could do daughter duty on Sunday. 

Just about doable.

I had arranged my Tesco delivery (with ingredients for cakes) for Saturday morning, but, when I got home from work on Friday I found signs all down my road from the council telling us to park in the next road because they were closing ours for the next two days for resurfing work. 

14 hours notice!!


Too late to cancel Tesco.

Luckily, Tesco managed to deliver early on Saturday before the road was closed, I got all my cake prep done, four lots of washing and ironing, supervised daughter's homework, music theory and piano practice and did 2 hours marking before we went out for dinner with friends.

Then, on Sunday I did swimming lesson, riding lesson, home for quick shower and lunch, then braved the Trafford Centre for the party.  I had to park virtually in Salford Quays, we hiked all the way to the Laser Quest and waited for the other girls from daughter's class.

No one turned up.

"Funny", I thought, "We're not that early".

I asked at reception.

The party had been on Saturday.


Moral of the story:

Mummy can't do everything.


Monday, 8 April 2013

Great British Sewing Bee

I didn't even realised this programme was happening until the day it was on.  Great British Bake Off with fabric and haberdashery!  Fab!

Apparently sewing is making a comeback.  We are snapping up sewing machines by the dozen and a sewing revolution is taking place across Britain.

I used to make my own clothes when I was in sixth form and at university.  Mainly because it was cheaper to make them than buy them, but, when cheap far eastern imports started arriving, it was cheaper to buy them than make them, so I stopped.

I've done cross-stitch for fun and I'm currently making daughter a patchwork quilt.  I occasionally borrow my mum's sewing machine for little projects such as making curtains for daughter's playhouse:

(Remember this?)

and I recently used it to make some bunting, but I haven't made clothes for twenty years.

Now, next year there is yet another of one of daughter's 

"Please send your daughter in a ******* costume" days

and this time it's Victorians.  I thought a quick apron and a mop cap would be pretty easy to do.  I studied them at Quarry Bank Mill to see how to make them and was pretty happy, but then daughter threw this in:

"If you go as a servant the teachers pick on you, if you go as a lady they don't, so I want to be a Victorian lady"

I can see her point, so I've been trying to think how I can concoct a Victorian lady's costume.  I've spent hours watching Long Susan in Ripper Street:

competely missing the story, to study her clothes, but I was struggling.  Then, after watching the Great British Sewing Bee I remembered that I was perfectly capable of following a pattern so a quick trip to Amazon yielded this:

I reckon the one on the bottom right without the ribbon across the bodice, made in a dark fabric and adorned with lace would produce a Victorian lady's dress.

The only trouble is, can I remember how to sew?

Help me, Patrick and May:

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Don't tell anyone but .....

............. yesterday daughter went to friend's house for a sleepover, so .......

.... hubby and I left the house .....

.... after dinner ....


Yes, we went out together!

At the same time!

With each other!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Why I Bank On-line

Blog fodder is like buses.  

Nothing for weeks and then lots comes at once.

This time a rant about incompetent banking.

Lately I have been sorting out our savings accounts. Given the abysmal rates of interest on our accounts I have been opening new accounts on-line and transferring money into them.  Unfortunately, you can't close accounts on-line, so I popped into my local branch of the Halifax.  After queueing for 15 mins I got to the information desk and asked about closing accounts.

"We haven't any appointments to see you now, but you can close accounts at the cash desks", the girl said.

So I queued for another 15 mins to get to a cashier.

I gave the woman a piece of paper on which I had written "close" and the sort codes and account numbers of three accounts I wanted to close.

"Where do you want your balances going?" she asked.

"You can put it in here", I said, passing her a Halifax cash card.

After 5 mins of messing about, trying to get the printer to work and studying my piece of paper she announced:

"I've closed the wrong account.  I've closed this one"

 and she held up the cash card of the one account I didn't want closing!

"Well, open it again" I said.

"Oh, I can't do that, once it's closed it's closed"

I was not a happy bunny.

She then passed me the paperwork to sign to close the account.

I looked at it and said, "If I don't sign this, is the account not closed?"

"No, it's already closed"

What kind of system is that?!

One in which she can close my account before handing me the paperwork to check.

By now I'd been 40 mins in the Halifax and had only paid for an hour in the car park.  

I came home, fuming.

The following day I tried to open a new account in place of the closed one, but on-line I couldn't open a joint one, nor could you request a cash card.  I opened an account in my name and phoned them to request cards for myself and my husband.

"I can do that for you, but not until the account has been open 24 hours, you'll have to ring back tomorrow"

So the next day I rang to request cash cards for both of us.

" We can't issue a card for your husband because it isn't a joint account"

Not what I'd been told the day before.

"Can you change the account to a joint one?"

"No, you have to do that in branch"

Not on your nelly!

"I could put you through to your local branch and you can ask them to send you a form for you and your husband to sign?" she suggested.

"Ok", I conceded.

So she put me through to my local branch:

"Hello?  Hello?  Hello?" the girl at the branch said and promptly hung up on me.

I give up!

This is why I bank on-line:


Thursday, 4 April 2013

TV or not TV?

Last week our TV was possessed.  It decided that whenever we switched it on it would just systematically switch through all the channels available incessantly.  Even if we tried to turn it off (either by the remote or the button on the TV) it would switch itself on again and continue changing channels.  If we tried to watch something we had recorded it switched itself back to TV and continued changing channels.

At the start of the Easter Holidays in the middle of a new series of Masterchef!


Having looked up when we bought it, I found it was four and half years ago, but, thanks to John Lewis and their standard 5 year guarantee on TVs, it was covered.  Unfortunately, with the Easter weekend looming they couldn't collect it until the following week.

We were reduced to watching the little portable in our bedroom.

Then I realised how we watch TV.

We never, ever watch a programme as it airs.

I look in the Radio Times, decide what I want to watch and then record it to watch later at my convenience.

Even if I do watch something "live", I record it and watch it on chase play so that I can pause it if I need to.

BBC programmes we watch via the i-player through the Wii and films and classic series we get from Lovefilm, again via the Wii,.

Even daughter watches her own selection of programmes from CBBC via the i-player, not live.

When did that happen?

So I found myself watching the clock not to miss programmes and then hoping the phone didn't ring to disturb me.  Wasn't that what watching TV used to be like?

Compensation Culture

Easter is the time I order our annual, yes, annual, wine delivery.  I order it all together from Tesco Wine Warehouse, 5% off and free delivery and this time I also had a £5 voucher.

Three cases of red, two rose and one white.


However, I made the fatal mistake of leaving the house when the delivery was due and leaving hubby in charge.

When I returned I took one look at the boxes and said, "That's wrong".

There was a box of French red I hadn't ordered and a box of my rose was missing.

Hubby hadn't thought to check the delivery against the delivery note.

I rang up to explain and ask them to take away the incorrect box and delivery the correct one.

"I can't do that", the man said, "I can refund you the amount for the box of rose"

"And what about the incorrect box?" I asked.

"You can keep that" he said.

"But it isn't the wine I wanted", I said.

"But can you drink it?" he asked.

What really annoyed me was that he seemed to think I should be placated by a free box of wine, instead of apologising for their error and correcting their mistake.

Compensation culture at work!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A nice little walk

Yesterday a friend of mine pointed out that I had been neglecting my blog recently, and that's true.  Since we broke up for Easter I have been chilling, relaxing, baking, seeing friends and doing a few jobs like ordering new mattresses and making some bunting for daughter's playhouse.

Unfortunately, hubby can't relax.  A day without leaving the house is a day wasted to him and by yesterday he was virtually stir crazy.

"Tomorrow we're going for a nice little walk", he announced.

Daughter looked horrified.

I explained that in a family you have to do things that different people want to do and tomorrow we would do what daddy wanted.

So this morning I packed a picnic and we set off.

Did he take us for a walk in a nice sheltered place like a wood or forest?

Of did he take us up along the edge of the Pennines where the biting wind could freeze our faces?

Yes, he took us for "nice little walk" in this:

These are not smiles, these are grimaces:

Luckily, daughter decided to put her brave, explorer face on:

and we set off into the arctic conditions.
(I may be exaggerating for effect)

We walked along part of the Gritstone Trail to the Bowstones:

Daughter wasn't impressed that these stones are about 1000 years old, she thought they hadn't worn well!

We huddled together and picniced in the shelter of a dry stone wall trying to avoid the bitter wind and then, after walking over the moors, hills and the snow drifts:

we eventually landed back at Lyme Park where a well deserved hot chocolate was had by all.

Six miles, frozen faces and ice cubes for toes.

 A nice little walk indeed!