This is a story about the man and me. It's a little story, but it's a special one to me, and one I hope I will always remember. And so I think it's time to write it down. It is a story of two mouses.
It began innocuously, as these things usually do. One November evening back in 2012 found the two of us pounding the walkway around Ikea looking for shelves. The man had just moved into a new flat and the last few evenings had found us both to-ing and fro-ing in a van, loading and unloading boxes, and slotting various miscellaneous bits of wood into other miscellaneous bits of wood in the hope that it would turn into furniture.
So that November evening as we trudged around the store, we were both feeling a bit world-weary. We rounded a corner and ran into a harassed-looking couple who were disputing the merits of one storage solution over another with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. A small girl hopped around their feet desperately trying to get their attention, chattering away.
The more she was ignored, the louder she became. And she repeated at ever-higher volume in a piping little voice: "I have TWO mouses!"
And indeed she did! Clutched one in each fist, were two little soft toys. Their noses poked out of her little hands, and their tails dangled behind them and she waved them around ever more excitedly.
"I have TWO mouses!"
It was as though she couldn't quite believe her luck. Not just one soft, mouse-toy, but two! One grey, and one white. And how I laughed! This little girl cheered me up tremendously! I have no idea if she eventually managed to engage her parents' notice, or if she was going to be allowed to keep her two mouses. I sincerely hope she did. But I remember her sheer glee at the prospect and it still makes me giggle.
We spent the rest of the evening exclaiming to each other "I have TWO mouses!" at intervals, and chortling to ourselves. We abandoned Ikea, the man resigning himself to a trip the following day when he had more energy, and headed home.
A few days later, I was back at the man's flat again. He had indeed acquired and assembled some shelving and his place was starting to look like a home. His return visit to Ikea had proved profitable.
But it also turned out to be profitable for me too. As nestled in a camping chair - no sofa yet - waiting for me were two soft toy mouses. One grey, one white.
I have TWO mouses.
Two mouses has become our phrase, like a touchstone. It crops up all the time and never fails to make me grin like the little girl, never fails to make me think of the man. And I can cuddle my two little mouses and smile to myself.
There have been other pairs of mouses too. I've got two lovely mouse buttons waiting for the right craft project. And I found a great card with two mouses on it. Then there are the mouses you see in these pictures. They have a little story too...
Recently the man bought a car. He'd been chewing over the idea for a while, and eventually found what he want. And as a surprise he added me to the insurance, which was a lovely gesture as I don't have a car at the moment, and I do really enjoy driving. He claims he only did it so that he didn't have to do all the driving, but I know better!
I thought I could get him a car accessory as a little thank you, but somehow I couldn't picture the man with a fluffy steering wheel cover. Frankly I can't picture myself with a fluffy steering wheel cover. Ditto fluffy dice to dangle from the rear-view mirror.
Then it hit me: not dice. Mice! I could give him two mouses to hang up in the car. I did a bit of research (as in, I opened up google) and quickly found a knitting pattern to make cute little mouses. I began knitting one afternoon, and by bed time I had made two mouses with lovely long pink tails t hang in the car.
I experimented a bit, and soon realised that hanging the mouses up by their tails looked a bit cruel. So when I gave them to the man, I included a little note to explain that they would be perfectly happy curled up in any available mouse-hole in the car ready for road trips. I named them Carrie and Roadie. Because cars go on roads. Hopefully.
Carrie and Roadie sit quick happily in the front of the car and so far they seem to have enjoyed riding around. But they best thing is...
Now he has TWO mouses too.
P.S. If you want to knit your own mouses, you can find the pattern here on Craftsy. There are lots available but I liked these the best :D
Both the man and I spent Christmas day with our respective families which was lovely, but we added an extra Christmas of our own to the calendar too, for us to exchange gifts, have a Christmas dinner and spend it together.
Dinner was really the man's domain. I suppose the very fact that I had time to take the pictures shows you how much input I had into the meal. And even though I have photographic evidence of the roast being created, I still find it a little bit magical how he can take all the components of the meal, and a couple of hours later, without writing anything down or scheduling timings or doing any faffing about whatsoever...he has made a whole roast.
It's magic. And it works every time. He also did a chicken for New Year, and he's made a roast for the past two weekends too. In fact, the very first time he ever cooked for me, he made a roast. Each one delicious, no stress, and he usually manages to find me a glass of wine and a cup of tea. I like to have both. Meanwhile, I do something mundane like chop carrots into wobbly, slightly apologetic batons.
While I am by no means a great cook, I enjoy cooking and feel I'm reasonably competent. But the man definitely has the edge on me. Anyone who can create a feast during the adverts of a couple of episodes of Downton Abbey deserves considerable acclaim in my opinion.
Brussels sprouts were required, naturally. Neither of use actively dislike them, but we don't normally opt to have them either. However, there are certain times when sprouts are not optional. This was one of them.
Ah, this is my one contribution. I was raised in Yorkshire, so I make the eponymous Yorkshire Puddings. I quite like them. Nom nom nom. But fair to say, the rest is all him. I hope one day he will teach me and I will prove an apt student and can learn the art of 'casually knocking together an entire Sunday dinner without thinking'. But for now, I help where I can and marvel; he's a bit of a wonder.
We tend to find that the leftovers will dish up another couple of meals. I think we've had a home-cooked roast 4 times in the last 3 weeks, and each time we have turned the remaining elements into a stir-fry, chucking everything into a wok and tossing it with sauce, a bit of veg and some noodles. At times, this has lead to some quite unusual food fusions, with Yorkshire-meets-the-east sir fry involving Teriyaki sauce and the odd mouthful of Yorkshire pudding.
Seriously, it's good!
P.S. Also you haven't truly had roast potatoes until you've had the man's roast potatoes. He nails it. Every time. Fluffy and crunchy.
It's been a busy week! Lots going on at school, and every single evening was spent out of the house. Therefore this weekend finds me catching up on paperwork for Guides, sorting out admin, frantically baking for a cake sale tomorrow and attempting to get in a bit of crafty goodness in the gaps. It keeps me sane.
So by mid-afternoon a break was very much called for. I decided to make hot chocolate. The kind of hot chocolate I could wrap my hands around and sit back with. The kind of hot chocolate that would afford me a little while to daydream. Today was the day I was going to make Gingerbread Hot Chocolate.
Gingerbread Hot Chocolate is just normal hot chocolate with added home-made gingerbread syrup (and added capital letters for importance). I used the recipe here from A Beautiful Mess to make the syrup. But I used Galaxy hot chocolate made with milk for the drink. Topped, of course, with marshmallows and white chocolate chips, and a dusting of cocoa powder. It's been very cold and the marshmallows help to insulate the hot chocolate.
The Lindor Lindt chocolates don't do anything, they just taste nice. Interesting fact: if you drop them, they don't bounce. They just sort of sit there and roll a little bit in a way that looks strangely anti-physics. Secondary fact: I've done enough not-very-interesting things today in order for that to seem interesting.
So hear's to Gingerbread Hot Chocolate, best eaten with a spoon. This is a beautifully indulgent drink for January, and when Saturday means ploughing through a lengthy to-do list, it's nice to have a little bit of chocolately luxury and warming, spiced ginger.
P.S. Another bemusing fact about Lindor Lindts is that strange melty stuff in the middle. It's solid but melty, and velvety smooth in a way that normal chocolate isn't. What do they do to it? Why is it so perfect?
New Year’s day found the man and I hopping in the car,
hoping the grey, threatening clouds weren't heralding rain, and heading off for
a day out.The man had suggested a visit
to the Bluebell railway, and it turned out to be a great idea!
The Bluebell Railway is a preserved section of track which
runs regularly scheduled steam trains from Sheffield park through Horsted
Keynes, Kingscote and up to East Grinstead.We got tickets for a return journey (Third class) and then had an hour
to amuse ourselves at the Sheffield park station before our train.
Amusing ourselves was incredibly easy: there is a shed full
of steam engines that are either partially or fully restored, and huge amounts
of information.They are restored almost
entirely by volunteer enthusiasts who could be seen tinkering around with bits
and pieces of train, and I enjoyed peering into the workshop.The engines themselves have a striking
industrial beauty and I couldn't help but feel infused with visions of the
romance of train travel under steam. The station was lovely with so many period
details to admire and point out.
When our train arrived, we had time to get a quick cup of
tea for the journey, and then selected our carriage.Apparently 3rd class travel means
comfortable, squishy sofa-style seats upholstered in gloriously patterned
material.And leg room to spare. It felt
It was lovely to sit back and relax in the relative opulence of bygone days, and gaze at the world rolling past, marvelling at the steam snagging on the branches of the trees, caught like so many tufts of wool. We rode all the way up the line to East Grinstead where we had a brief pause to hop out and visit the stationary buffet car. Having nobbled a nice cup of tea and a generous wedge of Victoria Sponge cake for the journey back, we re-boarded our train
We rounded off with a visit to the Sheffield Park museum to find out a bit about the history of the line both when it was used as part of the National Rail Network, and since its days of preservation.
And then we tried on some excellent hats.
A most triumphant way to see in the new year.
P.S. I think I'm going to start a little series of fun days out that we we have. I'd like to be able to look back on the collection at some point in the future. So I have tagged this post the first in the series Great Dates 2015.
I have lived in London now for well over 5 years, but somehow had never been to Kew Gardens. When I discovered they break out with all the twinkly lights at Christmas, it seemed that this would be as good a time as any to make that first visit and so the man and I got tickets for the very end of December. Christmas at Kew is a mile-long trail through the gardens, and is an incredibly festive and beautiful experience.
We made a brief start on the trail, before deciding that was a silly thing to do without some mulled wine. So we nipped back to the start, loaded up with that particular genial beverage and began the yuletide wander through the gardens.
We came across fountains that danced to music, bathed in light while snowflakes hurried across the lake and the house. We found chandeliers suspended from low-slung boughs, a twinkling grotto filled with mistletoe for a secret smooch, and striking botanical sculptures glowing in the night. The temperature was freezing, but we were well wrapped up, and all of Kew seemed to radiate warmth.
About half way round, we paused to indulge in a marshmallow break. The Marshmallowists were out in force displaying their wares; Christmas pudding flavour? Vibrant orange mango? Actually we both plumped (or flumped?) for blueberry and gin marshmallows, and with our prizes safely skewered we embraced the heat of the braziers more than willingly and toasted our marshmallows to perfection! These were the BEST marshmallows I've ever had: none of your insipid sugary nonsense thankyou-very-much, these confections were soft and smooth and fluffy and had such full, incredible flavour. I will be seeking out the Marshmallowists in future!
We followed the snowflakes winding deeper into the gardens. We saw fire-jugglers and stilt walkers, tellers of tall tales and trees embellished with magic. Christmas at Kew was one of those evenings that more than exceeded my expectations and hopes. I found it absolutely enchanting.
I hope to be able to come back to Christmas at Kew in future years, and I would love to explore the gardens in more detail and be able to appreciate the plants and flowers more fully. But for a spellbinding, twinkly, oh-so-festive evening, I don't think this could be easily beaten.
Point towards the light!
P.S. I find it tough to get the white balance and focus right on night-time photos. I enjoyed taking my camera out (although very cold on the fingers!) but I could definitely use more practice with night photography!
Happy New Year! I'm a few days behind, but as today was the official back-to-school day, this somehow feels more like the start of a new year than 1st January does. I've had fun looking back through my photos from 2014 which record some wonderful moments, and these are some of my favourites.
I found it hard to pick a few pictures for this post: I felt like I could spend this year blogging my favourite photos from 2014... But ultimately that seems counter-productive. On the plus side, it makes me feel ever more motivated towards photography!
So in summary, 2014 has been the year of trying a bigger range of crafts, from paper piecing patchwork pillow cases, to stitching a giant map onto canvas. Which is still a work in progress.
2014 is also the year of the pointing-at-nothing selfie.
In 2014 I attended the weddings of two of my closest friends; I was honoured to be asked to be the photographer at the first, and a bridesmaid at the second.
2014 was the year of the Grand Holiday, where the man and I threw caution to the winds and spent two glorious weeks exploring the Caribbean.
2014 was also the year that my wonderful family treated me to Afternoon Tea at the Ritz.
It's been a year of adventures with friends in London, the year of the camera-on-the-ground angle, and the year of coming back to scrapbook the results at home. 2014 is clearly the year I realise that hand-cut titles are the best, tiny pegs go with everything, and that white backgrounds make things pop.
2014 was the year of strengthening new friendships, spending time together and being inspired to volunteer more with Girlguiding.
And while I know I have blogged this photo more than once before, I think it's quite possibly my favourite of the year. (But I can't claim to have taken it!)
Now it's time to look forward into the new year! And I have plans for this little blog. I've got a new scrapbooking class in the works, some craft projects to both work on and
share and with any luck, I will collect photos galore from London and from some of the travelling I plan on doing in 2015.
I also think I've shifted the focus of this blog somewhat; I can't legitimately call this a purely scrapbooking blog. It's not been a conscious decision, but I have started to really enjoy sharing more photography,
more of London, and more of other crafty exploits outside scrapbooking. And by writing about and photographing a
wider range of things, I can post more regularly, as well as documenting my
memories more coherently. In many ways,
perhaps my blog has become my scrapbook for when life is full and busy and I
haven’t quite got time to grab some pretty paper and scissors.
The New Year is also a time for resolutions. I do love to
set goals, make lists and tick things off, but given I’m still working on my
list of Things to Do Before I’m 30, that is my priority. However, I do have 3 ambitions for 2015:
A little one:
Lose the last 5 pounds. It’s been almost 2
years since I set out to be a bit healthier and lose weight. Four stone later,
I’m almost there. Actually, given that I ate A LOT over Christmas, it’s now slightly
more than 5 pounds. But with any luck,
this will be done by half term.
A regular one:
I've set myself a photography goal for the
year. I’m going to explain this in more detail another time, and share my
progress in monthly updates, but I find that my love for photography just keeps
growing, and having a specific project is very motivating, so I’m feeling
pretty inspired to keep getting my camera out.
A big one:
More than anything, I would like to live with the man. Which is unfortunately
easier said than done due to red tape and the many terms and conditions that come with our current respective flat situations. (Long
story, it’s been a longer discussion and we still don’t know the answer!).
However, on the bright side we should be in a position to start looking for our
first house to buy together by the end of the year. One of the biggest adventures yet!
Time to welcome the new year then: here we go with 2015!
P.S. I'm on the look-out for a good list-making app. Does anyone use one that they would recommend? If it has a way for me to tick things off with a satisfying flourish, so much the better!