Oh we have been having such fun (said through gritted teeth) with our bathroom renovations. You can read about them over at Fat Dormouse, so I won’t reiterate them here (so much for keeping that blog for food related posts and this one for “life” – the two have mixed and crossed over again. Perhaps I really ought to just have one blog. It would make life easier!)


We put all our woes in an email to the workman and sent it off on Sunday, thinking he would read it & maybe phone us to discuss it. It was “pinged back” as undeliverable yesterday afternoon – so I imagine it was too big a document, as I’d included photos etc. Last night Mr FD converted it to a PDF folder & sent it again. But it’s not very likely he’ll have had tiome to read it and “digest” it.


Here’s the rub.

A, the workman, usually comes on a Wednesday (about the only day he does come. No wonder it’s taken 6 bloody weeks!) and I’m usually here when he arrives. Today I really don’t want to face him, because of our compaints – he is a kind of friend, as I see him socially, and I’m very nervous about criticising him and making him cross – even though I know we’re in the right and we’re payng what seems like vast amounts of money for him to do the job!!!

So I was planning on leaving home earlier to go to Roanne, where I work today…even though it would mean hanging round in a café for an hour. How daft is that?

Then last night, I was watching Gareth Malone’s “Best Choir in Britain” (for non UK readers this is a TV programme where a very sweet choir bloke

(who I think is rather cute!)

puts amateur choirs through their paces to win a competition. Lots of emotion, and weeping, hard work, challenges and “journeys” – you know the stuff.) Last night he gave each choir a song to sing that was outside their comfort zone and challenged their weaknesses. “You need to face your fears head-on”, he advised “That way they won’t frighten you any longer” (or words to that effect.)

On my wall there is a plaque that I designed about three years ago when I went on a wonderful weekend workshop back in Oct 2013 (You can read about it here but will need to scroll down to find it) which also challenges me a little:

dareIt’s not because things are difficult that we don’t dare to do them:

it’s because we don’t dare that things are difficult.

I need to dare more. I often say “I don’t do challenges”. Well, this may only be a small challenge but I’m going to do it. I’m going to stay here until my usual leaving time. I’m going to speak to A and explain – calmly, politely and reasonably – why we’re not happy, & talk about what might be done to put things right. I am going to dare to do what I don’t want to do!

And because he is, I believe, a reasonable bloke, he won’t wreak havoc in the house in revenge, and he won’t do the things I have imagined in the dark of the night when I can’t sleep, such as let the cats out so they run away, or steal our belongings, or hack into our computers (Yes, I am getting too worked up and irrational over this) In fact, he may have read the email and be worried himself about facing me, thinking “well, she is a person I see socially, and I don’t want to have her upset…”

I’m not very brave.

But today, I am going to dare…(and the weasels can go hang!)

Advent Challenge

Kezzie mentioned the Bible Society’s Advent Challenge – which, bizarrely starts on 1st December, rather than on the first Sunday of Advent (but, hey, who cares about tiny things like the Church calendar?!) (actually, I’m not as bothered as I probably should be!) – and I thought I would join in too.

I have alwys found 40 Acts a great way to work through Lent, so I hope that this will be a similarly challenging way to experience Advent. Here is a link if you’d like to join in too.

We all get swept up in the preparations for Christmas, and, even if we are fully committed to being frugal and non-consumeristic (which I’m not!) I guess it’s easy to sometimes lose focus on what the celebrations are, in essence, about: God’s amazing generosity in reaching down to bridge the gap between heaven and earth, and showing us the way we should be living, a life full of love, joy, generosity and kindness towards our neighbours.

As the angels sang: Peace on earth, and goodwill towards all. That is what it’s about. That is why I’m taking the Advent Challenge.

Are you up for it too? You don’t need to be “religious” to do it. Just to care about other people (It being the Bible Society, there is a Biblical slant on it, but you can ignore that if it doesn’t float your boat)



A shout out for the Butcher in Carrefour!

(which may seem like a bizarre title for a post, but read on…)

As you may know, as I’ve mentioned it a bit recently, I feed the poor cats who live near the HLM housing in our village. They came to my notice when we were looking for George (still no sign. Sad face) because there is one who looks very like George, but also because it was obvious that there was someone else feeding them, who perhaps didn’t have much money, as the cats would often have plain pasta or mashed potato in the big plates that were put out by the kennel/ rabbit hutch affair. Now we’re not rolling in readies, but I can certainly afford a couple of tins of cat food and a bag of croquettes each week, so I started feeding the cats a couple of times a week, with cat food, and rejected cat food (from our fussy beasts) and any scraps we had.

Yesterday evening I went out to see the cats at about 6.30 when we got back from work and they were SO happy to see me! They were flocking to see me – usually they won’t come near until the food is down & I have retreated some distance away, but last night I was tripping over them. They were very hungry. Sadly I only had one can of food, mixed with biscuits, which didn’t go very far. I was able to fill up the croquette tray as well, but I felt a bit guilty that I hadn’t brought more food.

So this morning I went to Carrefour to buy some more food to give them tonight, and I had a thought about buying a cheap cut of meat for them. So I went to the boucherie counter, and thought maybe he has some scraps…So I explained that I fed the stray cats and asked if he had any scraps of meat or fat I could have. He gave me what must have been about 3 kg of scraps – mostly solid fat, but also with bits of meat hanging off as well – completely free! I bought some liver too – relatively cheap, at 1.45€ for 2 big slices – which I’ve cooked up for their dinner tonight. The scraps were all cut up, and put in the slow cooker with some water and some rice – once the meat is cooked, I will put it in the freezer, so there’s a good supply of meaty goodness to mix with the possibly not-so-meaty- goodness of the cat food! I cooked the liver, and then put water in the pan, and cooked up some pasta to soak up the juices that were left. With a tin of food this should make a banquet fit for a Poor Cat! (or 10) Pomme was very interested as I was cutting up the liver, and may have received quite a few snippets!

So a big fat dormouse shout out to the generous butcher !

I am very sure that the Poor Cats will be very, VERY grateful!

img_0044I’ve named this cat Nikki, after the cat that my nan used to have. I’m slowly naming them all – there’s Red (the George look-alike), Nikki, Sophie (looks like a Sophie-cat we used to have), Barney, Smudge, Gobbolino, Binkie and Patch. There are still more, but they’re not named yet.

Pretty envelopes…and 45 down, 155 to go!

If you’re a calligrapher, or enjoy papercreft and drawing, you really ought to know about this blog: The Postman’s Knock

I love it for the inspiration, and the easy to follow tutorials. Today I wrote a couple of Thank You notes to people who had sent me birthday presents. They were really appreciated, as my birthday was rather low-key this year. Mr FD “gave” me a couple of boxes of tiles for the bathroom (every spare euro is being spent on this renovation. I do hope it’s worth it!!) and the cats gave me some chocolates….but that was it, apart from these two lovely presents, & some money. Also going towards tiles!!

Anyway I wrote the letters, and then decided to decorate the envelopes, so I knew where to turn for a tutorial on envelope art. Lindsay has many different ideas, but I went with the lace pattern…I was reasonably happy with how these turned out (click on the photo for more detail):


to my sister, who sent some beautiful tiger-eye earrings


and my friend who sent two lovely pairs of cosy bedsocks.

I think I prefer the first, which is my “riff” on Lindsay’s tutorial, but I think they have both worked quite well.

I told you about my commission to make the Bishop’s Christmas cards this year…all 200 of them! I’m getting on quite well, having completed 45 of them. Only another 155 left to do:


I hope he approves – I couldn’t find any backing paper of the type his assistant approved, so went instead for quite a lot of the red starry paper, which isn’t quite so “elegant”. I also have noted that I really need to be more careful when cutting the backing paper – a lot of them were just a bit wobbley, which meant I had to use more “bling strips” to hide the wobbley edges!

I have used up all the cream ready-folded cards that I bought, but managed to find some more cream card which I had in my stash; I’ve folded this over and so can get on with making another 25 cards today. I personally preferred the red card that I used to make these cards:

img_0036as I felt it was more Christmas-sy, but the Bishop veto-ed it, as being too dark to write on. The other paler colours available weren’t (in my opinion) at all Christmas-sy, so I went for cream. Which meant the parchment paper with “Joy…” on didn’t stand out so much.

Anyway, time to find a Kermode &Mayo film review podcast that I haven’t heard, and get paper-cutting and glueing!!