Friday, 27 May 2016

Seven Quick Takes, Episode 14: in which I am forced to type standing up

Hello Hello! It's SQTday, so... off we go!

1. I'm typing this standing up. This is not due to some new health-thing. It's because I piled all of the junk on my desk onto the chair in a vain attempt to locate my library card, and now I'll have to tidy up before I can sit down again. Given my desk is where all of the odd homeless objects in the whole house go to lurk, the process may take hours, and then it wouldn't be Friday any more, would it?

2.You know how parents hide snacks out of reach so their kids can't get them? (Yes. Yes, you do). We're applying the same approach to our strawberries this year.

 Haha, slugs. I'd like to see you try.

3. This book re-emerged from wherever it's been hiding for the last few years and it made me laugh A LOT.

Dad bought it for Mam in the latter stages of her first pregnancy. Looking at some parts of the story, it's hard to believe Mr Greedy isn't just a pregnant woman.

"I woke up at six o'clock. It was my tummy who woke up first. The rest of me was fast asleep"...

Anyone who's had a case of the third-trimester early morning munchies should be able to identify.

4. Since last Friday, we've all been in various stages of being ill and/or recovering. There appears to be light at the end of the tunnel, but... bleeeerrrrggg.

5. Library fines are embrassing, right? (Yes, I forgot to renew my books on time. AGAIN.)
Unless... what if those (collective) fines make the difference between a library staying open and being shut for budget reduction purposes? People of the UK, unite! Renew your books late! SAVE THE LIBRARIES! ;-)

(On a serious note, our county council is having to shut 35 libraries to meet budget targets. THIRTY-FIVE. So there'll be more unemployed librarians, and more unemployed books. This makes me Very Sad. Even my late return fees - 75p so far this year - can't do much to help that).

6. Three day weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ah, the possibilities... we probably won't do anything exciting, but the fact that we could makes all the difference.

7. Ze husband has just informed me that we won't be going clubbing tonight. Shame, I was looking forward to wearing my four-year-old's maxi skirt as a dress. With pink eyeshadow. And glittery lipstick. Or whatever you're supposed to do these days. Ah well, maybe next week.

Linking up with Kelly for 7QT. Go! Read! Be happy!


Thursday, 26 May 2016

Five Favourites: Weight Loss Tips

We've all been there, right? The scales don't say what we want them to, and, well, it's a bit irritating. Thankfully, here are five easy, quick, and mostly painless ways to shed a few of those extra pounds!

1. Pregnant? Go and have the baby. (Please remember I said mostly painless). You may have to wait a few months, but I can assure you, the results will be spectacular.

2. Step off the scales, put down the baby, step back onto the scales. See? A good few pounds lost in under thirty seconds. Fast, effective, and safe. Unless you put the baby down in a snake pit, whirlpool or tiger enclosure, in which case a little extra weight is the least of your worries.

3. Repeat step 2, this time with the toddler hanging off your leg.

4. Remove any and all baby-related gunk from your clothing. Empty your pockets of Kleenex, Lego, coins, keys, half-eaten pieces of toast, etc. You may also want to check your bra for cracker crumbs at this point.

5. Run downstairs to stop the toddler feeding Hama beads, hair elastics or similar to the baby. Repeat step 4 with any junk accumulated in the process. Heck, just take your clothes off. No one's watching.

There, now, doesn't that feel better?

Have fun, and embrace the wobble. (Or the Womble, if that's what floats your boat. I'm not judging).  

Linking up with Bonnie for Five Favourites.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Hymns of the Week: Corpus Christi, Year C

This Sunday is Corpus Christi, so anything along the lines of bread/body/wine/blood is good here. My plan is:

Entrance: All Creatures of our God and King
Offertory: In Bread we Bring You, Lord
Communion: I am the Bread of Life
Recessional: How Great Thou Art

I was also considering "One Bread, One Body", but it's quite hard to sing and I don't feel enough of our parishioners know it well enough to carry it. Maybe another time, if I get chance to go over it with the choir beforehand...

The Year of Finishing Projects, ep. 4: Superhero cape!

I haven't had much time for making things of late, but les gnenfants and I were at a loose end yesterday afternoon, and we had the car, so we went to the fabric shop in search of something sparkly to make a superhero/princess/fairy/witch cape/cloak for their cousin's birthday next week. 

We found this fabric:

Not only was it exactly what we were looking for, it was also a roll-end remnant, and, wonder of wonders, the way the fabric is constructed meant I only needed to hem ONE EDGE. One edge, people!

I folded the top over twice and sewed it down using a zigzag stitch (the fabric is stretchy, a straight stitch wouldn't have worked as well) to make a casing, then sewed a tube from the offcuts and turned it to make a tie strip, which I then threaded through the casing. A couple of stitches to hold the ties in place, and voili voilou*... one superhero cape!

Cape/cloak kindly modelled by M, who is about a foot shorter than the intended recipient.
In real life, she does not have facial hair OR a hat the size of Mars. She is also a foot shorter than the intended recipient.

*voili voilou: an "voila", which I am currently refusing to use because I can't find the accents on my new keyboard, and that word without the accent on the a BURNS MY EYES.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Seven Quick Takes, Episode 13: In which I actually talk about organs, for once

Happy Friday, t'internets!
1. Given that this blog is purportedly about playing the organ (well, sort of, sometimes), I feel I should disclose the fact that I now have a key to the church organ loft!!! What does this mean? Well, it means I've graduated to the Big Organ, not the little electric one at the front of church. I like this. No-one will be able to see me, and I can pretend I'm playing on my own. WIN. 

2. Also on an organ note, if you're not on the organ donor register, please rectify this. Now.If you're in the UK, the link is here.
(OK, that was a slightly random segue, but it's important, people! Spare parts for humans are harder to come by than spare parts for 28-year-old food processors. Ask me how I know...)

3. We finally watched the Lego movie on Sunday evening (it's on Amazon Prime at the moment), so we've all been singing this all week: 

Two of our children have three-syllable names, so there have been a few new versions of the song, too... 
Incidentally, if anyone has any suggestions for family-friendly stuff that's free to watch on Prime, please let me know!

4. R is currently running around the living room going "aaaaaamem, aaaaaaaamem, aaaaamem". I'd love to know what's going on in his head.
(N.B. for "living room", read "whole downstairs part of our house excluding the 12 sqft of kitchen". We wouldn't want to give people the wrong impression).

5. The legend that is Fr. Bruno Clifton is running an ultra-marathon again this year to raise money for the Dominican training fund. Please support him if you can:
He's also made a series of vlogs about everything that goes into training for an ultra-marathon - if you're a runner, they're definitely worth a look: . Go Bruno!

6. Since I'm on a YouTube kick today, have a motet to brighten up your Friday!


(I'm trying to get our church choir to sing this in a few weeks' time. Main reason? The organ part is SO MUCH EASIER than the Mozart Ave Verum.)

7. In true 7QT style, it's taken me five hours to get up to no. 7. That's what you get for trying to write a blog post while the small people are actually awake ;-)

Happy weekend!

Linking up with Kelly for 7QT. You know what to do.  

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Five Favourites: New Baby Gifts

Happy Wednesday, the internets!

I've had a couple of weeks off from Five Favourites whilst work things got a bit more settled, but the translatory-stuff is going pretty well, so here we go again!

Ze Husband and I are just at that stage in life where all of our friends are starting to have babies (we got a bit of a head start), which is pretty amazing, since now everyone else *needs* to be in bed by 10 pm too, so social events are getting earlier/more family-friendly/etc. Also, pregnancy is a whole different kettle of fish if two or three of your best friends are pregnant at the same time (between the multiple pregnant women, new babies, two obstetricians and an anesthetist, I think we pretty much terrified the menfolk at our last big get-together).

(Returns three hours later) So, yes, where were we?  

New baby presents! I'm thinking outside the box here - baby clothes are lovely, yes, but they grow out of them SO FAST, and by the time you're on your second/third/fourth/ninth, you probably have a pretty decent supply.

1. Steak.
Yes, I said steak.
The baby has milk, nappies and parents that love it. The parents... well, the parents don't know what's hit them, and a little treat for them might be just what the doctor ordered. New mothers need plenty of iron, right? ;-)
We buy mail-order meat for special occasions from I have been assured that the steak is awesome.

2. Something useful... BEFORE the baby comes.
This one is pretty good for first babies, especially if you know the parents and their tastes quite well. Get something they'll need, but a nice version - funky muslin squares, or exciting nappy cream (yes, that's a Thing), or a really soft blanket... you get the picture.

3. Time. If you live close enough and know the family well enough, offering to come and cuddle the baby for a bit whilst the parents do something else, then making sure they take you up on it instead of being "polite", would be a nice idea.

4. A reading light. If you have a tiny baby sleeping next to your bed, reading after small-person-lights-out is a no-no. Reliable sources inform me that most babies won't react to a clip-on book light type thing. I'm in the process of acquiring one myself, so I'll keep you posted.

5. Cake. Can't go wrong with cake. Unless you feed it directly to the new baby, in which case yes, you can go wrong. Step awaaaaay from the baby.

Linking up with Bonnie for Five Favo(u)rites.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Hymns of the Week: Trinity Sunday Year C/First Communions


Ok, I'm going to try and stop sneezing long enough to post this week's hymns...
It's First Communions here, so I had a list of hymns the children all know from the catechists at school *stops typing to rub eyes*, some of which aren't in my "usual" rotation, but I can't just play Holst and Vaughan Williams arrangements...
*goes to wake husband up for work* (keeping it real here...)

Entrance: Here I am, Lord
Offertory: All that I am
Communion: This is my Body
Recessional: Shine, Jesus, Shine

Otherwise, it's Trinity Sunday, so another chance to get the Holy Spirit-y hymns out...

Friday, 13 May 2016

Seven Quick Takes, Episode 12: in which there are unexpected flowers

It's Friday ... it's 7.30... it's still Number One... it's... Seven Quick Takes.
Anyone having grown up in the UK in the 1990s will understand where that came from. If not, I apologise.


1. Look!

Our sprout plant flowered. We had no idea it would do that (well, we suspected it might flower, but we assumed they'd be pretty discreet things). We didn't harvest it this winter because we hoped the sprouts might get a little bit bigger... but they never did.

2. It's the BBC Young Musician final this weekend. This is Kind Of A Big Deal in music-geek land over here, and even more so this year because a friend of my sister's is on it. If you can get iPlayer, watch the semi-final - even if classical music "isn't your thing". Look for the girl with the saxophone. She'll have you hooked from the first note. Also, I think she's going to do some pretty great things for classical sax playing, which is a definite good point in my books.

3.  Shoes! (again. Ahem.)

The postman has been giving me funny looks this week - I've been ebay shopping, and we've had quite a few parcels. Having had three children since I last really went shopping for summer clothes, I've had to renew my stocks... and pass a lot of things I really loved on to my much slimmer sister. I hope she likes them too, then I'll still get to see them from time to time.

4. Es is attempting to crawl... we've not had a crawling baby since we've lived in this house (R was a shuffler), so some baby-proofing may be required over the next few weeks. Hmmmmm.

5. We planted a tomato plant outside this year. If you know anything about the northern UK climate, you will realise how ridiculously optimistic this is. Also, given the state of said tomato plant after R "helped" me with it, I will be absolutely amazed if we get any fruit off it.

6. Mx went and wrote a WORD! on her OWN! Anyone guess what it is? (Tip: try sounding it out. This is what happens when you learn to read phonetically...)

7. On that note, nap time is almost over and Mx is requesting baked beans for snack time, so I need to go and talk some sense into her. Also, it's 3pm and I still haven't brushed my hair today. Oh well.

Happy weekend, the internets!

Linking up with Kelly for 7QT.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Hymns of the Week: Pentecost Sunday, Year C

Entrance: Come Holy Ghost, Creator, Come (this one has the advantage of being easy...)
Offertory: Come Down, O Love Divine
Communion: Be still, for the presence of the Lord
Recessional: Walk in the Light (this one is on my list of hymns I don't usually play because they make me giggle - but the kids like it, and the other option, God's Spirit Is In My Heart, is no.1 on the giggle-list, so best avoided!)

Friday, 6 May 2016

The Scandal of Boaty McBoatface

The National Environmental Research Council announced today that their new research ship, which was supposed to be named by public vote, will be named RRS Sir David Attenborough - a name which came fourth in the polls. Number one on the list, by a loooong way, was Boaty McBoatface.

Now, I love David Attenborough as much as the next middle-class vaugely-intellectual British person. But HE'S NOT BOATY McBOATFACE!

The establishment's objection to BMcBF appears to be based on people finding the name "silly". I don't think it's silly at all, and the refusal to use the name chosen by the population at large shows a singular disrespect for public opinion.

The naming poll, in itself, was a huge success in publicity terms. At the outset, I don't think the people at NERC* had any idea quite how much public awareness the poll would raise. A naming poll for a research ship isn't the kind of thing that gets millions of visitors. But once BMcBF was on the scene? Heck, yes.

People got attached to the idea of Boaty McBoatface. It (I want to call it "he", but I know ships are meant to be "she", so I'm going for gender-neutral) epitomised the British spirit of refusing to take anything seriously (see Boris Johnson? Yep, that's what I'm talking about. We actually ELECTED him). Boaty McBoatface was going to get itself noticed. We'd have been queueing out the door of Waterstones to buy the latest installment of The Adventures of Boaty McBoatface. Children would have pestered their parents for Boaty McBoatface lunchboxes. Parents would have named their offspring after it (ok, ok, maybe not, but you get the gist...)

And now what do we have? A research ship with a quite-nice-but-forgettable name. Apparently, as a concession to public opinion, one of the research vessels onboard will be named Boaty McBoatface, but it just doesn't work - it's a SUBMARINE, for crying out loud. Subby McSubface, maybe. But the BMcBF name was destined for greater things.

*say "Nerk", not enn-ee-aarr-see. I know this stuff, my dad worked for them for years. Also, Nerk expresses the way I feel about this issue in a far more satisfactory way

Seven Quick Takes, Episode 11: Appliance-mageddon

Friday = 7QT. I'm running a bit late this week. I blame the rotary calcination kilns (don't ask. PLEASE don't ask).

In the space of a month, nearly all of our domestic appliances have broken. I'm not sure we're quite up to seven, but we shall see...

1. First came the microwave, which started billowing smoke. It's been relegated to the garage, and we haven't replaced it yet - I'm enjoying the extra counter space. We might get a new one when (and if) we have a bigger kitchen.

2. After the microwave, the food processor. Our food processor is 28 years old - my grandad bought it for my parents to help them puree food for small people, and, after a few years languishing at the back of a cupboard, it came to live with me when I left home. It was still going strong up until two weeks ago, when the bowl *jumped* off the draining rack and broke. I'm going to try and track down spare parts for it, but I'm not sure they still make them. Fingers crossed.

3. Next casualty: the toaster. My children, budding scientists, recently discovered that if you yank the lever on a toaster up and down enough times, it breaks. Obviously, experiments need to be repeated in order to produce valid results, so they checked their findings on the second lever. Results confirmed.

4. The worst by far was the washing machine. In any family with more than one child (scratch that, one child can create quite enough laundry on its own), a broken washing machine is the stuff of nightmares. Yesterday morning, Mx somehow managed to open the door whilst the machine was running, breaking the door lock mechanism - and if the door won't lock, the machine refuses to work. We had the engineer out this morning, and £110 later, it was fixed. It was touch and go for a while because the machine is French and they weren't sure they had the right parts, but St. Whoever-Deals-With-Washing-Machines was obviously looking out for us, and it turned out right in the end.

5. The kettle, the vacuum and the freezer are still working. Long may that continue... the oven, hotplates and fridge belong to the landlord, so they don't seem to have been affected by whatever plague is carrying off the other appliances we've been a bit more careful about keeping the small people away from them. Hey, I can't blame imaginary appliance plagues for everything.

6. If there is a patron saint of domestic appliances, please can somebody tell me who it is? I'm not sure my nerves could stand it if anything else gave out on me (without going all Mrs Bennet about it... oh, my poor nerves!)

7. In other news, I made apple, parsnip and nettle (yes, those nettles) compote this week. Sounds disgusting, looks disgusting, tastes... pretty good! Les gn'enfants loved it. Proof that parsnips are actually fine if you try and forget they're supposed to be vegetables (can you tell I don't like parsnips much?)

On that note, happy weekend! I promise to have something more interesting to write about next week. Promise.

Linking up with Kelly for 7QT. Link link link, linky linky link.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Five Favourites: Hymns to Mary

Why yes, this is a Catholic blog. Hadn't you noticed? ;-)

It's the first Wednesday in May, so for this week's Five Favourites, I thought I'd do hymns to Our Lady.

Just before we get started, a note to any non-Catholic readers out there:

We pray to Our Lady, we venerate Our Lady, but worship is reserved for God alone. We can come to Jesus through Mary, like the disciples at Cana. She, the mother of God Incarnate, is a privileged intercessor - in a nutshell, Jesus listens to his mother. He listens to us, too, of course. But His Mother... she's special. She has the direct line, so to speak. Prayer to Mary is also a way of humbling ourselves. If you want to ask someone big and powerful and awesome and beyond our comprehension for something, what do you do? Do you go straight to him? Or do you ask the person who knows him best of all, who enjoys special favour, to help you? Sure, you can talk to The Boss too, but a word in His Mother's ear won't go amiss.

(Steps down from soap box and puts said box back in the cupboard where the small people can't get to it.)

So, without further ado... (and that was rather a lot of ado, wasn't it?)

1. Immaculate Mary, AKA the Lourdes Hymn.It's gorgeous, there are words in pretty much every language, and it even gets a bit political in later verses. I do like it when hymns get political.

2. As I Kneel Before You. This one takes me back to primary school assemblies, sitting on the floor in the hall and chewing the ends of my hair (bad habit, but I kicked it about 24 years ago). I can almost smell the slightly odd sent of climbing ropes and of school lunches cooking in the background. It's also responsible for a fair bit of my (extremely limited) Latin vocabulary.

3. Holy Virgin, by God's Decree. It's all about the music with this one. The words get a bit odd in places where they've tried to fit them in (You undertook/God's plan to embrace? What?), but it still works.

4. Daily, Daily, Sing to Mary. This one doesn't have the wistful tone of some of the others - it's more of a celebratory hymn. It's not my absolute favourite, but it's somewhere in the top ten, and it's a good contrast to the others.

5. Couronnée d'Etoiles. Sorry, but we're half'n'half around here, I couldn't just stick to English hymns! Just listen to it. There are some pretty terrible recordings on the internet, and done badly it's horrendous, but done properly? Shivers down the spine. Oh yes.

(Please ignore the slightly weird visuals. Also, funny story: the recording sounded strangely familiar. Turns out I was actually in the choir. It's a small world).

6. (Because I Just. Can't. Stop at five): Je Vous Salue Marie. Just the French words of the Hail Mary, set to music. It's beautiful.

I did think about putting a Magnificat or two on the list, but they're hymns with Mary, rather than to Mary... and I probably have enough favourites for a whole 'nother post! 

Linking up with Bonnie for Five Favourites - go on over!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Why I don't plan meals

"Thou shalt plan meals" is, quite clearly, one of the ten commandments of the mummy-blogosphere. I've tried, people. I've tried. But I just can't do it. Here's why:

  • Sometimes I just don't FEEL like eating what I planned, and since les gnenfants will probably complain about whatever I feed them, I'm going to make something I want to eat. So there.
  • If I don't have a plan, I can base meals around whatever I find reduced at the supermarket. Hooray for yellow stickers
  • The veg box can sometimes throw a spanner in the works - like if we have even more parsnips than usual to use up. 
  • And then there's THIS issue... 



Am I the only one whose husband has a totally unpredictable appetite? We need to set up a support group, peoples!

No husbands were harmed in the making of this post.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Hymns of the Week: Ascension/7th Sunday of Easter, Year C

I still haven't quite got my head around what is and isn't transferred to Sunday here, so I have two hymn lists for this week, and if we do celebrate Ascension this weekend, I'll combine my favourite bits of both.


Entrance: At the Name of Jesus
Offertory: Take our Bread
Communion: I am the Bread of Life
Recessional: Alleluia, Sing to Jesus (I have a feeling I've played this a lot recently. Ah well.)


Entrance: Come Down, O Love Divine
Offertory: Take our Bread
Communion: One Bread, One Body
Recessional: My Soul is filled with Joy (Magnificat)

Incidentally, I'm still not sure how I feel about Ascension being transferred (if, in fact, it is). I understand some of the reasons for doing it - it's not easy for everyone to get to Mass during the week, and it's important for everyone to celebrate these feasts. On the other hand, it does seem to be "cheating" a bit, and we no longer have to make a special effort to get to mass on the day itself (or the vigil). Ho hum.