Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Great Debate

I'm getting into pre-spring mode

Whilst out for dinner the other evening, with friends, we got talking about my challenges for 2014. Or more specifically we got to talking about two of my challenges.

1. the re-reading of books from our school days


2. old movies

Between us we were of various age groups and therefore came up with a whole host of different titles.

Most of us were in our 50's and came up with

To Kill A Mocking Bird - Harper Lee
Lord of The Flies - William Golding
The Water Babies - Charles Kingsley
Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriett Beacher Stowe
Animal Farm - George Orwell
1984 - George Orwell
To Sir with Love - ER Braithwaite
War of the Worlds - HG Wells
The Diary of Anne Frank - Anne Frank
Carries War - Nina Bawden
Tom Browns School Days - Thomas Hughes

One lady is approaching her 60's and came up with 

Cider with Rosie - Laurie Lee
Kestrel for a Nave - Barry Hines
Goodbye Mr. Chips - James Hilton
Far from the Maddening Crowd - Thomas Hardy

The younger generations came up with

Of Mice & Men - John Steinbeck (two of mine did this one at GCSE)
The Color Purple - Alice Walker  (My daughter had this for her GCSE)
Educating Rita - Willy Russell (one of my son's had this one)
Goodnight Mr. Tom - Michelle Magorian

Quite a list I thought especially after partaking of an alcoholic beverage.  Of course some also threw in the old classics of the Bronte's, Austen, Dickens and Shakespeare

Then of course we got on to the old films.  Now to me an old film is something from the 40 & 50's As I'm.a 60's child I don't like to think of that as being that old. As you can imagine that sparked yet another debate of what were the best films.

Titles they came up with were:-

Kind Hearts & Coronets
In the Heat of the Night
Whistle down the Wind
Saturday Night/Sunday Morning
Imitation of Life 
Love Story
To Sir With Love (featured again)
A Taste of Honey
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane
Rosemary's Baby
Rebel without a Cause
One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest
The Omen
The King & I
Westside Story
Goodbye Mr. Chips (again)
From Here to Eternity
The Long Good Friday

The lists went on and on....... 

My conclusion from all of this was that although my challenges for 2014 in my mind were to watch OLD films, by which I mean those from the 40's, 50's and 60's and to read some of the books listed above that the possibilities for future challenges are endless.  I'm so glad that Jo at Through the Keyhole had the bright idea last year to watch an old film a month as it's really got the thought processes going as to what other challenges could lay a head.

So what I would like to know is did any of you read a book at school that's not listed above if so what was it.  And if any of you have an all time must see films from yesteryear I'd  love to know what it is.

Hope you're having a good week one and all. 


Saturday, 18 January 2014

Chocolate Loaf Cake

I don't often get the baking bug these days, especially now the children have mostly grown and flown, but I just got a sudden urge today to make my Chocolate Loaf Cake.

This is a recipe I adapted years ago from another.

To start with you will need 

4oz of soft brown sugar
8oz of plain flour
3oz butter or margarine
A pinch of salt
1tsp of baking powder
1tsp of cocoa powder
generous dsp of nuttella 
dark chocolate chocolate chips
1 egg
150ml (1/4 pint) of milk

Start by heating your oven to 170c/325f/gas mark 3

Place the butter and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until melted and blended, stirring. Remove the pan from the heat and cool gently.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt into a bowl.
Beat the egg and mix together with the milk
Add the milk/egg to the dry ingredients.
Add a generous dsp of nuttella 
mix well

stir in 
chocolate chip

Pour into a prepared tin and bake in the oven for approximately one hour or until golden brown.

This is especially nice with a cup of tea


warmed through and topped with custard


if you're feeling really naughty warmed through, covered with hot chocolate sauce and served with a scoop of 

ice cream.



Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Another Year Older


This weekend saw me turn another year older but not necessarily any wiser

I received some lovely gifts from family and friends including my lovely flowers, lots of DVD's to help with my challenge, bits and bobs for my den and some gorgeous perfume.

This little bag was made by my colleague Jacqui who was my Poppy making partner last year. It's just right for keeping my crochet projects in and has little pockets inside to hold all my bits and pieces. 

I had a great day, had a lie in and bought a cup of tea in bed so I could read my book for a little longer. We went off out for brunch took the three 4 paws out for a walk around the village but it was bitterly cold so it was a quick retreat back home where they soon settled down for an afternoon snooze.

The day was rounded off with a takeaway, DVD and a glass of wine or two,

and of course lots of lovely hooky time, starting to join together my 'Returning Home from Afghanistan' Afghan.

Meanwhile in The Willows garden things are starting to grow again. The Winter Honeysuckle is coming into bloom and my Daffodils shoots are appearing around the garden.  

I know we are still officially still in Winter but at least it's beginning to feel like Spring is just around the corner. 

Hope you are having a good week whatever you may be doing.


Sunday, 5 January 2014

Let the challenges begin

So Christmas is over for another year and some of us have already returned to work following the Christmas break.  I have been fortunate to have had two weeks away from my desk, a time to spend with family and a time to re- charge my batteries.  In my last post I talked about the challenges I have set myself for this year and as today is my last day of R & R before I return to work tomorrow I thought I best get started with my challenges.

Challenge One - To watch an old film
at least one per month.

Challenge One is to watch an old film at least one per month.  I started with 'The Story of Esther Costello' (1957).  I remembered watching this film over 30 years ago.  It tells the story of Esther Costello who after an explosion is left unable to hear or see.  She is taken under the wing of  Margaret Landi played by Joan Crawford, and with a lot of love and care is taught to communicate using sign language. The Esther Costello Foundation is soon created and monies come flooding in to help other deaf, blind children. What starts out to be in aid of a good cause soon becomes of  interest to Ms Landi's philanthropist husband. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Monsarrat published in 1953 and again in 2011.

Challenge Two - To read a book
we had to read at school and didn't
necessarily enjoy.
Challenge Two - Is to read a book we had to read at school.  Most of which I didn't enjoy at the time and so I am hoping that some 35 years on that with age I will appreciate them more, although I think I may struggle with my nemesis 'Lord of the Flies'.  But to begin with I decided to go for Harper Lee's  'To Kill A Mocking Bird' 

I am now half way through and I can report I am really enjoying this book so I'm hoping that will bode well for my future readings. 

Challenge Three - Innocence Big Knits
for Age UK 2014
Challenge Three - Is to take part in the Innocence Big Knit for Age UK 2014.  I have challenged myself to make at least two per month. So far I have been able to make a good start by making 10. The photo is when I had knitted the first seven.
Challenge Four - To make at least one
Poppy per week for this years Remembrance

Challenge Four will be to make at least one Poppy per week in readiness for this years remembrance day and this year will also mark the centenary of the beginning of the first world war.

Challenge Five - To read 13 of the 26 books
currently on my
'to be read shelf' by the end of June.

Challenge Five my final challenge will be to work my way through my 'Yet to be read' shelf of books which currently has 26 books residing on it.  I have challenged myself to read at least 13 of them by the end of June.
From this selection I have started reading Kate Morton's 'The Secret Keeper'. I won't go into what this one is about until I have finished it and will add to my blog Tea & Biscuits & a Good Book.
And finally I have started a new project for 2014.  There will be in excess of 300 squares in this blanket and later in the year I will let you know who this is going to be for.  At the moment it is a secret.....

So there we are a New Year and my challenges have begun.
What challenges or resolutions have you set for yourself for 2014.

Have a good week one and all


Friday, 3 January 2014

Happy New Year, first Ta Dah 2014 and New Year's Challenges

First of all I just want to wish all of you a Happy New Year and hope that 2014 will be a good year for you. Everyone has now returned home which just leaves me, D and number 3 at home.  I have been enjoying my last few days of leave before returning to work on Monday.  I have really enjoyed my time off to get together with family and a chance to re-charge my batteries.  It also gave me the best opportunity to get a wriggle on with my Autumn Leaves blanket which had been on the back burner for a couple of months whilst I got other bits and pieces completed in time for Christmas. 

Almost a ta dah moment

Adding the finishing touches
Ta Dah my first completed project for 2014 is?

My Autumn Leaves Blanket!!!!

Blocking out has begun

The Home Coming From Afghanistan Afghan is still in process. Today is day 81. Having realised how long it took me to put the Autumn Leaves Blanket together I thought it may be an idea to start and block out and join together number 2's Afghan.

This New Year I decided I would take a leaf out of Jo at Through the Keyhole book and set my self some challenges for 2014.  Resolutions don't work for me as I know I just won't keep them.  

So for my first challenge I have decided to pick up where Jo left off. Last year Jo challenged herself to watch one old film per month.  I love old films and have quite a collection but not necessarily a lot of time to watch them.  That is all going to change for 2014.  I will watch a minimum of one old film per month and list here which film or films I have managed to watch.

Challenge two is going to read some of those books we had to read at school which at the time I detested.  I am hoping that some 30 years later that I will now appreciate some of those books.

Challenge three will be to make some of the mini hats for the innocent campaign for Age UK.  I missed the deadline for 2013 but will endeavor to make at least two per month.

Challenge four will be to make at least one Poppy per week in readiness for this years remembrance day and this year will also mark the centenary of the beginning of the first world war.

Challenge five my final challenge will be to work my way through my 'Yet to be read' shelf of books which currently has 26 books residing on it.  I have challenged myself to read at least 13 of them by the end of June.

I am looking forward to getting started with my challenges and will update you all as to my progress. What resolutions or challenges have you set for yourself for 2014?

Ok better get started with my challenges.