Beautiful Babies & Birthday Suits

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You must’ve been a beautiful baby

‘Cause baby look at you now.’

-Johnny Mercer

Birthdays are special days and I am delighted to celebrate John’s birthday with him today. Finding each other later in our lives, it’s only the second one that I been able to share with him and I’m grateful and happy to be able to be able to say Happy Birthday to my darling husband. When trying to decide which picture to use today, I asked him if he minded if I used the one above where he’s wearing only a curious look and his birthday suit. Easy going as always, he was fine with appearing naked in my blog. Today we’ll have a special lunch out in Padstow, a pretty little port town we both enjoy and a birthday cookout later in the evening with a carrot cake I’m making for dessert. I’ll be back with a few pictures of the day, but for now…here’s a few more of the beautiful baby who grew into a wonderful man.

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My Birthday boy in 2009

A Room Of One’s Own – Week 11 – Update

Can you believe we have been living with dust and disruption for 11 weeks? So far no one’s gotten snappish, grouchy, or stroppy as John would say. Stroppy and cross are popular expressions here and might be used in this way,

” Don’t get cross with me….”  Or  ” Someone’s being a bit stroppy…”  which might translate to ” Boy are you a grouch!”

All remains peaceful here despite my tendency to be messy one day and tidy the next. I’m generally a bit scattered with my stuff, but in fairness I don’t have a study to tuck it away into like John although his study has some of my things that arrived on this day stored in there too. My boxes are everywhere and so are our clothes, which are currently scattered throughout the study, guest room and the attic (loft) since we’ve vacated our bedroom during the renovation. Enough of this housekeeping chatter…here are the pictures from this week.

You can see a change in the pictures for today in that the wardrobe (closet) that John built last week is no longer there. We decided it didn’t look right once the bedroom lost a few feet to the corridor (hallway) so he shifted it back to the original space before the work began. It’s about the same length only now it’s slightly more narrow. It’s plenty deep enough and will be able to hold his chest of drawers, but it will run the length of the wall now.

This closet repositioning means we have had to change in the style of the new bed we had picked out because the closet takes up a bit of the bedside table space. We found a perfect remedy for this online this morning and I love the new bed frame we picked out.

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Look to the left of John’s elbow (sorry for the bad picture) to see the closet he put in and then ripped out.

It’s one mirrored door and one solid one off to the left.

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Here’s another view. (Sorry about the post being in the way)

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This is the corridor (hallway) that took some of the bedroom width with it.

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John putting up the plasterboard (sheetrock)

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Rebuilding the wardrobe (closet)

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Looking down the corridor (door to bedroom on left)

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Just so you don’t think all I do is sit at my computer…that’s me giving the house a coat of paint last Saturday

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John caught me with painting with my tongue sticking out (necessary for concentration)

Stop by on Sunday to see a little birthday blog I have planned for John if you get a minute. I’ll be baking his cake tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who sent me a carrot cake recipe, I’ll post the results after his birthday on Sunday.

Birthday Greetings From Cornwall

Karen Walrond over at Chookooloonks has a sweet post today about her husband, Marcus.  As you can see by my title, today is his birthday.

You may be asking, ” Sooooo what does that have to do with you Elizabeth? ” You’d be right to wonder because it’s not as if I know him personally, in fact I only know about him through Karen’s stories and the lovely images of family life that show up in her blog from time to time. What I do know about Marcus….is that he’s Cornish and seeing how he’s so far from his roots in Cornwall, I thought I’d put together a few images of my new life here to remind him of where his began.

Happy Birthday Marcus!

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A full English breakfast.

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The Cornish Flag

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Tell Me A Story Tuesdays – The Revolution

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Sister Teresa had a gruesome collection of toy doll heads that she had collected from students this year. In the beginning she had not realized there was a problem developing until two of her students had gotten into a fight over a missing head. The doll’s head was later located in the accused child’s book bag tucked into a pair of rolled up socks.

In order to stop the fighting, she settled the dispute by taking possession of the head. Taking it out of the hand of the boy who was shouting the loudest, she walked over to the bulletin board and stepped up onto the small step ladder. At 4’10” she frequently ran into trouble when trying to reach the top of the chalk board or upper levels of the storage cabinets where other teachers liked to hide the confiscated collection of items that children should have left at home.

She reached up into the corner of the bulletin board, where she had several long stickpins, and moved one over to the top center, pushed the pin in and stuck the toy doll head firmly down over the big metal pin head. The head stuck out at a slight downward tilt so that from where the students sat in the classroom, it looked as if it were a head on a stake. It didn’t help that it was directly above the written book reports they had turned in last week.

Evan Anderson had written his report on the French Revolution mostly because he wanted to build a guillotine in his grandfather’s workshop for his class presentation. Because of the no-tolerance policy with having knives at school, he was forced to modify it a bit making the blade from cardboard,which he painted silver with some of his mother’s eye shadow. Evan had stolen one of his cousin’s dolls to to use as a victim and he’d taken the one wearing a big pouffy dress so the doll would look more like the pictures in the book he’d read. He’d even dipped her blond hair into flour so she’d look more like Marie Antoinette and less like Malibu Barbie in a party dress. Evan watched as Sister T stuck the head on the pin and positioned it right over the picture of the guillotine he’d drawn on the cover of his book report. He snickered quietly, thinking that it really was true what Riley Watkins said about Sister T being too spacey to see what was right in front of her.

All last week since the first fake beheading, heads had been rolling up and down the aisles between the desks. Evan and Riley, along with Scott and Justin, had been practically bouncing them off each other and still she had not caught them.

Even though his school report had been the reason for bringing the doll that day, it was Sister T who had inspired the game of rolling the heads and as of yesterday, the formation of the Rolling Heads Gang of Four, the name they christened themselves with over peanut butter sandwiches and juice boxes in the cafeteria. Of course his little brother Eddie, started moaning about why couldn’t he be a member too, but Evan had shut him up; ” You gotta be a 5th grader, ” saying them over and over in what soon sounded like a chant. Eddie had started to cry and said he was going to tell their mother about it when she got home, but Evan figured he would forget all about it by then.

His mom had been working so many late shifts down at the Handy Pantry it seemed like she was never home until just before bedtime. He wished sometimes that she could be there waiting for them after school like Riley’s mom.  When they’d moved here from Michigan to be closer to his grandparents after his dad died, he thought they would do more things together, but with his grandparents getting older it seemed like whenever she asked for a little help watching the boys there was always some reason why they couldn’t do it. He was getting kind of tired of hearing the same old response;  ” Roberta,” they’d say, ” we really love those boys, but we’ve already raised our kids and we’ve got things to do.”

He felt sorry for his mom when he wasn’t busy feeling sorry for himself. Whenever he began to feel too sad, he’d get angry instead and it wasn’t too long before he’d developed a reputation at the private school where he spent his days. Sacred Heart was considered the best school in Hattiesburg and it didn’t seem to matter that they weren’t Catholic as long as the tuition checks kept coming. That was one thing his grandparents did insist on doing. It was tradition in the Anderson family that children living in Hattiesburg had to go to Sacred Heart. Their dad had gone there for all of his 12 years of education before joining the Army and running off to see the world. Evan was beginning to see why the Army had seemed so appealing. Hattiesburg was pretty small and he missed the friends he’d left up north.

He would rather have gone to the elementary school that was walking distance if you cut through the woods from the red brick apartment complex where they lived. He halfway thought that if he made enough trouble, the school might kick him out and he could go to public school with some of the friends he’d made closer to home.

Sister T had a thing she always said whenever the class got too rowdy or wouldn’t stop talking. Sometimes she’d add things to it like, “If you all don’t get in your seats, or If I have to repeat myself one more time,” but the ending never changed and after a while the class would mouth the words silently as she said them, ” Heads are going to roll!”

After the first head went up as an example, Evan lost what was left of his self- control. Whenever he heard her beginning the heads are going to roll threat, he’d signal the other members of the Gang of Four and the head rolling would begin. As much as Sister Teresa tried to maintain classroom discipline without being heavy handed, she knew no one was taking her seriously. Still, she kept collecting the heads as they rolled down the aisle and putting them on stick pins in neat rows across the bulletin board.

She didn’t think much about her collection of heads as they multiplied until one day when she turned to face the board she suddenly thought, there was something so gruesome, so perverse looking about those dismembered heads that she was going to have to find a new expression to use when dealing with those disrupting her class. She had not let her students see it yet, but sometimes she caught herself choking back a little giggle whenever  ” Heads are going to roll ” slipped out.  She’d need to give it some thought to come up with just the right thing, but she’d had enough of the “head games” these kids were playing. It was time to end the revolution.

Thanks to David Engel for the topic suggestion that I used for this week’s TMAST and also Gaelikaa who helped me finish the story with her sentence. I’ve highlighted in their sentences in bold so you can see what the inspiration was for this weeks story.

Gaelikaa has a story of her own this week so head over here to take a look. I also want to thank Karen for her topic sentences.

Judy Harper joined me again in writing a story for TMAST. Her story can be found on her blog here.

Please take a look at the pictures for next week’s TMAST and offer up suggestions for topic sentences based on the photographs. Thanks for reading and commenting and please consider writing along with me next week.

Additionally, I want to thank each of you who leave a comment especially on TMAST days. These little stories are fun to write and are the seeds I hope for the bigger stories and real work I imagine for my writing future.

Remedial Bread Slicing 101

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”

~ Robert Browning

I am not sure there is a food group I love as much as I do bread, I can eat it in almost all forms, but I think I like a simple slice of toast with butter and jam best of all. I’m used to buying hearty multigrain breads loaded with bits of heathy things that are prone to sticking in the teeth. Unless traveling where bread is unsliced, I almost always buy mine already cut into pieces perfectly shaped for the toaster. In this house, John prefers to buy his bread in long loaves untouched by the baker’s steel. He does a nice job with cutting his own gauging the width based on his mood and appetite. Since his loaves do not come with a sticker on the side listing ingredients along with the all important (to me) fat and calorie content, I have tended to have a different bread in the house which has been previously referred to as my bread. This weekend, they were out of  “my bread” so John came home with extra loaves of  “his bread.” In the past, I’ve had little experience with slicing my own and it seems I’ve been making a bit of a mess of it. John commented on it in a funny sort of way yesterday. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I worked a bit harder this morning trying to keep it on a straight line. Below are the results…

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At a glance it doesn’t look too bad baring the hole in one slice and the missing edge of the other. The loaf itself looks reasonably straight, but see it as it really is below…

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Tips on technique would be greatly appreciated.

A Room Of One’s Own – Week 9 & 10 – Update

I skipped last week’s update so I wanted to post a few pictures or “piccies” as they are frequently called here. Brits seem to have fondness for adding “ies” to words I wouldn’t normally consider changing in this way, such as rellies for relatives and wellies for Wellingtons the rubber boots we sometimes wear on our walks. Putting the language lesson aside for now, let me show you what John has been working on over the last two weeks.

When I posted the last update the new master bath still looked like this.

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The pictures below show the most recent developments and how close it is to completion.

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John tiled everything including the window ledge and all around.

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Thankfully, this shower is larger than the current one in the family bathroom which has a shower and a separate tub.

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These are typical shower fixtures for here where you can control the temperature independently from the water pressure. I still haven’t mastered this very well yet and ouch can be frequently heard when I’m washing up. I will not have this kind in my tub/shower combination.

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The wall is tiled even into the exit where the door will be into the master bedroom.

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Testing the toilet and sink placement… (not permanent yet) the hardwood floor will go down first.

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View of the layout from the shower (No wasted space)

In addition to all of this work, John painted part of the outside of the house (The master bedroom and ceiling multiple times to get a good coat of white.) and began knocking out parts of the fireplace so he can install a small woodburning stove. The one below is the one we’ll have in a few weeks. These are cute little mini ones compared to the ones I’m used to in America. I’m still deciding on paint colors and what I’ll need in the way of furniture. I’ve made some decicions, but this post is running a bit long so I’ll share that with you later.

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Calling All Master Bakers

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I have a funny story to tell you about the photograph above, but first I have a request. My husband John has a birthday coming up in a few weeks and I need the very best carrot cake recipe you have. If  you’ve got one that others rave about then I want a chance to bake for him. So please send me your favorite and let me give it a try.

Now about that story…. A few months ago, John and I had been out for a little walk and decided to stop by the pub before walking home. As is my way, I had my camera with me and although I don’t usually take pictures that aim quite so directly  into someone’s home, I’m afraid I did that day. Walking by a charming 200 year old cottage that I frequently pass on my runs and walks, I saw the carrots in the picture above hanging in the kitchen window. No one was around and it wasn’t like I was peeping in or anything plus the road is very close to the cottage. Because it’s so close, I was walking only a couple of feet from the window making it easy to snap two discreet pictures very quickly. I didn’t see anyone and I thought no one saw me. Remember now, we live in a village with about 500 people and sometimes I bump into people at the pub who might recognize me. Usually it’s because they know me now since I’ve been here off and on for the last 19 months and I’m pretty friendly and not at all shy. Well, a few weeks go by and John and I are in the pub on a Saturday afternoon and I go up to the bar to get a refill for John and to say hello to my favorite bartender Roger who you see below.

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While I’m at the bar, a man who is buying drinks for his daughter and wife turns to me and says something along the line of, ” You’re not  from here are you?”  Okay, I can’t remember exactly what he said, but in the course of our conversation I find out where he’s from because I can tell he’s not a local. It turns out he and his wife are staying temporarily with his daughter and her partner in that sweet little cottage I think of as Carrot Cottage even though it’s really named after a flower not a vegetable. His daughter was new to the village so I had not had a chance to meet her yet. Going over to the table I introduced myself and asked her about the carrots I saw hanging in the window a few weeks earlier. Since I’m living in a country with different customs as well as expressions that can get you into trouble such as, ” Stop being such a pain in my fanny ” because words may have a totally different meaning, I assume this hanging your carrots thing must be unique to the UK.

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As I’m describing what I saw that day she said, ” Did you have a camera with you?”  ” Well…yes,” I say thinking, ” uh oh.” She said I thought I saw someone out there taking pictures and told my partner Colin, (not his real name)  “I think there’s a woman out there taking pictures of your carrots!” As she said this, I felt kind of silly, but only for a moment. I mean, I think I managed to get a really nice picture of a bunch of carrots. Thank goodness their windows were so clean. It turns out the carrots on a string had no meaning other than he’d just washed them and was giving them a chance to air dry.  I haven’t seen them since, but I always do a quick glance at the window whenever I go by now. I thought I might print out the photograph so that it is in a greeting card form and leave it behind for them with a personal note and maybe a little carrot cake for two.

Remember….John’s birthday is fast approaching so please send me those carrot cake recipes. If you leave your recipe in the comment section we can all have a chance to sample some versions different from the ones we normally use. Everyone except me…I don’t have a carrot cake recipe of my own yet.