Thursday, 17 December 2009

Happy Birthday to Meeeeee !!!

I was 39 on Monday and had an amazing birthday. Everyone treated me like royalty, we went out for a meal (very rare in this family), I had wonderful presents....all in all a fabulous day.

I got my results for my earthquakes, volcanoes and Tsunamis course - I passed !! So I can relax for Christmas now, and continue my study of archaeological science in the New Year.

Virtully all of my christmas shopping is done - I'm hoping to get a Soap am=nd Glory set at Boots tomorrow reduced from £50 to £20 to someone vey special to me. *blushes. And I've done so well with Tesco points over this past few weeks that I'm on target to get £1,200 of voucers towards my degree in Februry. SO happy about this !!

Perhaps I should offer to teach a BA (Hons) in Clubcard collecting - although I know people are are far better than me at it !!


Thursday, 3 December 2009

A good day !!

Let me count the ways in which today was a good day -

* I used my Tesco vouchers to pay for 4 seats at the panto for the day before Lucy's birthday, value over £100. Sheila Ferguson is in it (oh yes she is !!) as well as Jonathan Wilkes. We can't wait !!

* I also used my Tesco points to pay for my next Open University course (Geology, seeing as you asked) in FULL, value £360. It's such a relief to me to have the next stage of my degree paid for.

* I was lucky enough to hear about some codes that I could use online at Marks& Spencers and the Body Shop and have done some amazing shops today - about £400 worth of Christmas presents for about £40. The picture above is of Cranbery Feet Hugs (£20) - snuggly slippers that have a sachet you take out, microwave for 30 seconds and replace for toasty feet. Cost from the Body Shop? FREE!!

I would recommend anyone to look into collecting Tesco clubcard points. Over the years Tesco have given us a free cruise for all four of us for two weeks, short breaks, jewellery, gifts, Open University courses, language courses, days out ......and pizza !!


Friday, 20 November 2009


Devastating floods have hit the UK (which makes me feel guilty for almost making light of our weather here). Hundreds of people have had to be rescued, many are reported lost....the scenes are absolutely terrible.

The armed forces have been called out, rescue services have been out all night, bridges have heart goes out to those affected.


Monday, 16 November 2009

English weather......... something that we all like to complain about. Trust me - most conversations we have includes an element of weather - 'it's too hot !', 'it's too cold!', 'roll on summer!'.

But I think we're truly lucky not to have the weather - and events - that some countries endure. True - we hve flooding from time to time which can be totally deestating, but I'm thinking about the fires, earthquakes etc that destroy whole areas.

In my degree course I've just been studying geological events such as volcanoes and tsunamis, and I've never been so thankful to live in the UK. The photo below is of Chaiten volcano in Chile, taken during a lightning storm as it erupted in 2008. Breathtakingly beautiful, but destructive as hell.

I really don't know how people live in areas which are prone to seismic events without dying of a stress related heart attack !! Seriously - I'd make myself so ill worying about it all the time.

So kudos to those who live in more 'dangerous' areas - I'm happy in safe old England :-)


Thursday, 5 November 2009

Squirrels, squirrels everywhere

Had to share this clip that I found on the Soap Queen website - just perfect for today's weather !! You wouldn't believe how much fun Jorge and Henry would have with that number of squirrels; even one makes them tear over the garden for hours !

Feeling really down today as a few days of feeling ill ended up with me at the emergency doctors last night, where I was diagnosed as having strep throat and laryngitis. Typical. I multi task all the time, even when I'm ill !!

I can hardly swallow, and am on liquids for a while - so none of the chicken pie that I'd made for Dave ! I'll make Gray - my Dad (Happy Birthday Gray !!) his bday cake next week; he knows it's worth waiting for.


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Half empty nest syndrome

Lucy has gone on her week's visit to the Outdoor Education Centre and I miss her so much already.

I cried so much yesterday when I took her to school - the other mums must think I'm mad, as they were all only too happy to 'get rid' of their kids for a while. It was lovely to see how excited she is though - she was doing her happy dance for ages whilst waiting for the bus to load her suitcase I know that she'll be okay - it's me I'm feeling sorry for - a week without my baby.

Dave had his birthday last Friday - 47 this time although still claiming to be 29. We made him a chocolate birthday cake (amongst other things !) and used the same '2' and '9' candles that we've been using for the past 18 years !!! It's a family tradition now.

My dad's birthday is this Thursday - 5th November - so will need to do even more baking for him. Not being a fan of chocolate I think I'll do him a Rum and Raisin Cake, I just don't know how I'd decorate that !!


Thursday, 22 October 2009

Remember me?'s me - the disappearing blogger. I got too busy ( etc) so I kind of sort of forgot to blog. But I tattoed 'MUST DO BETTER' on my forehead so hopefully I'll remember from now on !!

It's so cold here - autumn has really set in. Sadly, the central heating isn't working so we're waiting for an engineer to come out tomorrow to fix it. So in the meantime I'm modelling countless layers, socks, cardigans, dressing gowns - none of which are husband approved (quote - 'Mickey, take a pictoure of your Mum looking like that to post on her blog so people can see what she really looks like.' CHEEK!!!!).

Good news - we finally booked a holiday for next year !! Two weeks all inclusive at a beach club in Ibiza. Really can't wait. Dave is desperate for a holiday with everything that's going on at work and with his Mum.

More good news - I passed my last course on oceanography !!! I'm currently working on two more - Earthquakes/volcanoes/tsunamis and archaeology.

Bad news - Dave's Mum is getting worse. By worse I mean, more frustrating, more annoying, harder work, less able to look after herself, more able to refuse point blank to do anything to help herself but still expect everyone to do everything for her. I know how heartless I sound, but it's unbelieveable how much trouble she's causing, to the point of accusing my husband and his sisters of wanting her to 'pop her clogs' to get her money. My sisters-in-law are running themselves ragged trying to look after her as well as their own kids, and their own lives. Dave is doing so much for her that we hardly see him sometimes.

More bad news (for me) - Lucy is going off to camp in two weeks. My baby is going on the annual school trip to an outward bound centre and I'm dreading it. Dreading saying goodbye, dreading waking up while she's gone and not seeing her, dreading her not being there at 3.15pm. Basically dreading everything about it.

Does anyone have any spare valium please ??


Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Back to school

My two girls are back at school and college now. It seems so quiet without them - the cat and dog keep searching the bedrooms to see where they're hiding !!

It's been a busy few weeks again. Obviously they were both at home for seven weeks(twelve for Mickey), during which time Dave also took two weeks off. We went on various day trips such as West Midlands Safri Park and Llandudno and generally enjoyed our little 'staycation'. Micky had two weeks on a work placement that she earned on a school project, she also had her GCSE results through - 22 GCSE's !!!!!!!! She was featured in the local papers and on TV. Well done gorgeous girl !!

Lucy - my gorgeous ten year old went back to school today into year six - the final year of primary. My baby is growing up !! I'm really, really going to miss having her with me.

We've had horrible roadworks all over our road for a few weeks now with no immediate end in sight. The worst part is that the changes to our road are only going to make things worse - it's being done as part of the safety plans for Lucy's school but it's a terrible idea.

And I've spent about ten days being ill - we thought it might have been swine flu but I think it was just the regular kind. So I'm feeling pretty sorry for myself still :-(

So back to my studying too now.

Archaeology, volcanoes, tsunamis and earthquakes !!


Thursday, 6 August 2009

I PASSED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ipassed my OU course - I'm now Clare Bills Cert NatSci (open).

I get letters after my name !!!! I have a university certificate !!!!!!

ME !!!!!!!

Oh I'm celebrating tonight !!!!


Three weeks later......

I know...I'm terrible - no blogging for three weeks !!! But in my defence, it's been one hell of a three weeks !!

I've had a bad back/shoulder/neck all week, to the point where I had to sleep (well..sort of) in the spare bed as the agony I felt everytime I moved affected poor Dave. I've waddled like a pregnant duck all week :-(

I had to finish my OU degree course - Exploring our Blue Planet. The girls are off school for the long summer holiday. Dave's Mum is taking up everyone's time since Norman died. The exhaust fell off Dave's car (and took two days to sort out). His car also had to go in for a couple of days for other stuff, namely a horrible clicking noise that sounded just like the indicator was on constantly. And finally - my piece de resistance - my freezer broke !!!

I lost about £250 worth of food, including loads of home made meals that I'd prepared. The worst part was that I hadn't actually been in the freezer for days, as I was using all fresh food from the fridge, so when Mickey opened the freezer last Thursday while we were out at a trivia quiz, the smell was sickening - literally. The poor girl was ill as hell because of the smell. I took all the food down to the local tip and the smell is still in my car. It reeks !!!!

On the bright side (HA !!!!!) my results for my first science course - the biggie - are due today/tomorrow, so the waiting wll finally be over. I took delivery of a massive Tesco order last night so I'm again fully stocked on cooking/baking doo-dahs.

And I'm planning a baking day !!!!

Dave is off work for two glorious weeks from Friday, so we're really hoping for some quality family time. Fingers crossed !!


Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Menu plan

After the success of my last menu plan, I created another on, which I'm again doing well at keeping to. It has to be said however, that a couple of days at the weekend were not adhered to as I was pretty full of a cold (but I still managed to go to work, thank god !!). And yes - it started a while ago, but this is the first chance I've had to blog in agaes !!

Monday 6th July
Beef and mushroom soup, fresh rolls followed by strawberry and ice cream pancakes

Tuesday 7th July
All day breakfast

Wednesday 8th July
Chicken in red wine, creamy mashed potatoes

Thursday 9th July
Home made pizza – bbq chicken and cheese and tomato with jacket potatoes and salad, followed by banana and white chocolate muffins

Friday 10th July
Lasagne, jacket potatoes, peas

Saturday 11th July
Chicken, mushroom and bacon pie with chips and peas

Sunday 12th July
Home-made meatballs with tomato sauce and spaghetti

Monday 13th July
Steak pie, potato wedges and veg

Tuesday 14th July
Shepherd’s pie

Wednesday 15th July
St James Beef, mashed potatoes (and a big plate of chips for my nephew who's joining us!)

Thursday 16th July
Beans on toast, followed by pancakes or home made cake

Friday 17th July
Chicken casserole, creamy mashed potatoes

Saturday 18th July
Bacon sandwiches

Sunday 19th July
Home-made meatballs with tomato sauce and spaghetti

Monday 20th July
Toad in the hole, potatoes and beans

Tuesday 21st July
Duck breasts with Italian roast potatoes

Wednesday 22nd July
Burger, chips and peas

Thursday 23rd July
Spaghetti bolognaise

Friday 24th July
Sausage and mash

Saturday 25th July
Honey and mustard pork steaks, potato wedges

Sunday 26th July
Tuna salad nicoise

Monday 27th July
Mushroom and Madeira soup, fresh rolls, followed by pancakes or cakes

Life here is still manic. Studying hard (but loving every second of it, chasing up insurance that's still owing from my daughter's collapsed wardrobes in December, family stuff, work stuff, baking stuff (all those muffins for the wedding this weeken). All in all - manic, manic, manic.

Lucy finishes school this week, Mickey starts her two week work placement in two weeks, and my final assessment for this oceanography course is due on 31st July.

Well, at least no-one can say our lives are boring !!


Friday, 3 July 2009

Bad blogger !! (

I just haven't had time to blog this week !! I didn't even have time to make the Chocolate Orange cake on Sweet and Simple Bakes, which has devastated my husband. It's just been one of those weeks where time simply disappears.

On the bright side, I've enjoyed my study this week - whether farming milkfish in an intense polyculture system in artificial ponds, or salmon in sea lochs is more environmentally friendly.

On the down side -I hve to work Saturday AND Sunday this week !! They're short staffed so it's all hands to the (beer) pumps. The problem is that it gets so hot behind the bar because of all the electricity, and lets be honest - the first 4 hours of each day aren't 'bar-maiding', they're 'cleaner' jobs, albeit in a really nice blouse and skirt. The best dressed cleaner you'll ever see. :-)

Scrubbing out drip trays that no-one else seems to notice, scrubbing the bar sink that is congealed with dead lemon slices, washing and drying tea towels, scrubbing out the'll notice the recurring 'scrubbing' theme here.

Let's hope (for my sake) that the weather forecasts are right for once when they say it's cooling down !!


Tuesday, 30 June 2009

I did it !! I stuck to my menu plan !!

I'm so proud - I stuck to my 10 day menu plan except for when circumstances were beyond our control. We've just had a wonderful tea of home made pizza - cheese and tomato for Lucy and bbq chicken for everyone else.

I've also made two huge bowls of salad for the next couple of days. Mickey and I love the salad boxes from Morrisons where you help yourself, so last time I bought one I made a note of what was in the nicest ones. So I have two lovely big boxes waiting for us in the fridge, and a massive tuna pasta salad on its way to join them !!

Now to plan the next 10 days !!


Monday, 29 June 2009

To univerity, or not to university.....that is the question

After the excitement, came a couple of bad days - I've been ill all weekend!!

Sickness and general 'knackered-ness' really hit me - so bad that I couldn't go to work, so I spent most of the weekend in bed.

I've been looking at doing my degree at my local university instead of with the Open University. It's got a fabulous science department, and the course for the BSc Geoscience looks amazing. I just don't know if I dare to do it though. I'm terrified of feeling out of place, surrounded by teenagers. I have to admit it would be a fabulous opportunity though.

And good news - my Mum loved my bag !! She saw the japanese knot bag that I made a couple of weeks ago and loved it, wanted one ! So I have to find a nice fat quarter to suit her now.

Wish me luck xx

Friday, 26 June 2009

My Prom Queen

Doesn't she look amazing ? I'm so proud of her - she looked fabulous and she enjoyed every second of her night.

My baby - all grown up !!

I fetched her and her friends from the prom, and got home at about 1.30am so I'm exhausted - I need a decent night's sleep before I work at the pub tomorrow. I don't want to fall asleep at the bar !


Thursday, 25 June 2009

Two admissions....

Admission 1

I've made two batches of Rum and Raisin slices and one batch of Cherry slics using the same basic recipe. All in less than twenty four hours - the recipe is that good !!! But I've been a good girl and shared them all with my Mum and Mum-in-law.

Admission 2

I've never been great at recycling. I know it's important, I know what a difference it can make, but round here we only have recycling boxes for glass/tins, garden waste and normal waste. But my moter-in-law this week told us that a new system is starting wth five different collection boxes, and if you use them incorrectly you get fined.

First of all, where the hell am I going to put five recycling boxes????? Second, I'm worried about how much time it will take to sort out. I need to look at it as a challenge, and get the kids all excited about reducing 'normal' waste as much as possible and filling the other boxes, but I'm still worried about doing it right (OK, I'm a worrier, about anything and everything).

The Rubbish Diet is really inspiring, about how Mrs Average reduced her household waste to well....not a lot. Let's hope that my houshold can a least get on the right tracks with recycling !


Wednesday, 24 June 2009

I'm very happy to report.....

that the Rum and Raisin slices recipe works just as well when I leave out the rum and raisins and substitute glace cherries !!!

*huge smiles*


Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Rum and Raisin Slices

PLEASE !!! Go to the Caked Crusader's blog to see her amazing recipe for Rum and Raisin Slices.

She advises soaking the raisins in rum for 36 hours, but me being me left them in for just 8. And the cake was still amazing. The demerara sugar topping gave a lovely crunch, and the raisins were so soft and juicy........and the cake kind of, sort of.......isn't there anymore.

Except a few crumbs.


My menu plan...and I'm actually sticking to it !!

Ok, so there's a little repetition in there (2 chicken pies, 2 lasagnes), but I had to do some batch cooking because of work/study commitments. But I'm sticking to the plan !! It's great to be able to look at my menu each night and see if I need to defrost anything, or start preparations.

There's always - always - some baking around for puddings, or there's usually ice cream in the freezer and of course fresh fruit.

And I have to say - I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself right now !!

Tuesday 16th
Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Pie
Wednesday 17th
Jacket potatoes stuffed with cheese and bacon
Thursday 18th
Steak and onion pie, gravy and creamy mashed potatoes
Friday 19th
Spaghetti Bolognaise
Saturday 20th
Lasagne, jacket potatoes, salad
Sunday 21st
Monday 22nd
Chips, burger, peas
Tuesday 23rd
Chicken in red wine with creamy mashed potatoes
Wednesday 24th
Spicy Chicken Pasties with potato wedges and beans
Thursday 25th
Shepherd’s pie, peas and carrots
Friday 26th
Bacon sandwiches
Saturday 27th
Chicken, bacon and mushroom pie with mashed potatoes
Sunday 28th
Lasagne, jacket potatoes, side salad
Monday 29th
Bacon wrapped chicken breasts, Italian roast potatoes and peas
Tuesday 30th
Home-made pizza

Monday, 22 June 2009

Mauled by a Mountain Lion?

I was horrified to read on the headline 'I have been mauled' on Our Simple Life , this morning. Having seen that line, I rushed to her blog to read about how some deadly american wild animal had savaged the poor woman.

The savage, ferocious beast was........ a rooster !!!!!

She has some birds with 'attitude', and this one certainly made his feelings felt !!! Now that I've stopped crying with laughter, I've resolved to get some photos of my battle wounds from the lesser-known-greater-spotted-English-mad-cat (latin name chasus anything that movus and destroyus wallpaperus).

We had a lovely weekend. Work seemed to fly by this week, nine hours of cleaning the bar, serving customers and gernerally being a nice bar maid has never gone so quick !! We were actually pretty slow, so rather than be bored I helped the chef with preparations for the evening's wedding. I really hate being bored. I even refilled every salt and pepper pot rather than stand doing nothing !!

Fathers' Day was great. Dave was treated like a king for the day (I what's new *grins), and was given a whle batch of Neiman Marcus cookies made with Cadbury's Orange Chocolate from a recipe on The Goddess' Kitchen. So much better than yet another pair of socks !! He also had his favourite lasagne for dinner, and I'd even pre-cooked the lasagne sheets so that there were no tiny hard bits of pasta anywhere in there !! I'm too good to that man *winks

Friday, 19 June 2009

My baby

A lot of my posts lately have involved Mickey. But I wanted to say something about my other baby-girl, my ten year old , Lucy.

Lucy has so much more confidence than I ever had as a child, and she has the most amazing wit !! So often she'll say something so dry and exactly right, that she has everyone in stitches. She's definitely the sporty one in the family and is the most supple girl I've ever seen - she can almost turn herself inside out ! She loves having mummy-cuddles, and will happily curl up on my lap for most of the evening.

Her sense of humour is fantastic, she can see the funny side of most things, which will stand her in good stead for the rest of her life, and she's even a big achiever at school too. She is two or three levels ahead of the other children in her class and has worked at high school level for quite a while.

She's my creative kid.....she knits with me, cooks with me and loves to help me make our famous muffins. We even have a 'Christmas Project' blog (did I mention that she can do HTML programming?) which keeps a record of how we're attempting to make as many Christmas presents as possible this year.

She's funny, she's gorgeous, and she's my baby.

Love you Lucy .


I finally made the bag !!!

I found a pattern for a japanese knot bag on the website which I've been really keen to try making. I bought a lovely fat quarter a few weeks ago, a cartoon strip design based on office workers in those pods that you get in call centres, but I just hadn't had the time!

I used some plain black cotton to line the bag and I have to say I'm really, really proud of it !! It may not be perfect, but it's perfect for me. It's ideal for when I go shopping as I can have it on my arm and not have to worry about my bag being pinched from the trolley. It's perfect for my purse, phone and keys and would actually hold more if needed.

The design is great - the short 'arm' slips over the long 'arm' effectively fastening the bag so that no-one can get their hand in to pilfer. Then the long arm slips over your wrist so that you still have your hands free. Isn't that amazing ?

I forced myself to go shopping at the supermarket last night just to prove how wonderful it was. I strutted my stuff around Sainsbury's and lost count of the number of times I said to Mickey.....'look at my bag !!!!'.


Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Congratulations Mickey !!!!!!!!!

My gorgeous daughter got one of the summer jobs on offer on the 'Step-Up' program, and she's over the moon !!

She'll spend two weeks at one of the top accountancy firms in the UK, which will look fantastic on her CV. All of the other jobs on offer were 6 weeks, but Mickey said, 'quality, not quantity'......she was really impressed with the director of the company who acted as a mentor on the program. When she told him that she was studying performing arts at college, he mentioned that his best friends held the Stagecoach franchises around here, so he'd see what he could do about any vacancies they might have for her !!! One very happy girl there !

One very happy mum here too - one of the teachers at tonight's presentation has asked me to make cakes for her daugher's wedding in July ! She's always loved my baking when I've sent it in to the school and now has asked me to make 200 mixed muffins. I can't tell you how proud I am !!


Mickey's big night

Tonight we're all going to a drinks and canapes reception at the Moat House Hotel, to celebrate the end of the Step-Up program that Mickey and her friends have participated in at school.

They all took part in various full day activities over the course of the past year, all of which are designed to develop their creativity, team work skills and general life skills. Of 24 pupils that started, only 12 remain. Of those 12, 6 will be offered summer jobs this evening with the companies involved in the program. Mickey has a really good chance of getting one of these, so fingers crossed for her.

At only 16, she's amazing. She's leaving school with 22 GCSE's, and knows exactlyw hat she wantst o do with her life, which is much more than I ever did !!

Love you Mickey xxxxxxxxxxx

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Just a little chicken......

I bought a frozen chicken from Sainsburys - and wanted to make it stretch.

So I took off all the meat, used a third of it in a Chicken and Bacon Pasta salad, with some grilled streaky bacon rashers that I'd bought reduced and some italian salad dressing. The rest I mixed with some more of the bacon, crumbled up, sliced value mushrooms, peas and carrots that I purposely did extra yesterday, and a nice helping of madeira sauce. I used this to fill two pies, using homemade shortcrust pastry. Absolutely delicious !!!!

Today turned out to be a lot busier than I expected !!

* Washed all my bedding and dried outside to make the most of the lovely weather
* Washed everything else from the washing baskets
* Cleaned through
* Ironed a LOT of clothes
* Made two chicken pies
* Made Chicken and Bacon Pasta Salad
* Made Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Salad with the extra pasta I'd cooked
* Watched two programmes from my OU course on DVD (The Blue Planet)and made all my notes
* Spent a few hours studying the course texts
* Chauffered my daughter and her friend
* Chased insurance companies about Dave's car insurance

And this on a supossedly quiet day !! lol.


A mixed week....but today some good news !!

We all had a great time on our days out last week. Wednesday we went to the cinema to watch Night At The Museum 2 - highly recommended !! On Friday we went to Rhyl - a 2 hour drive (only 1 and 1/2 hours if I drive *blush*) but well worth it. Lovely weather, lovely company, and loads of seagulls to tease Mickey with !!

However Thursday was spent at Norman's funeral. I worried a great deal about how Lucy at 10 years old would react to a cremation. Let's face it - the practicalities of burning someone's body are hard to face. But she was far better than I expected, although I'm sure we're due for some more questions soon. The service itself seemed so impersonal - the vicar was almost just reading out a CV ....'Norman worked at ERF...........(long wait).......Norman liked football...........) I actually got quite upset at the idea of a man living his life to the age of 76 and this was the best that they could say about him.

Anyway.......onto brighter things. I've won a giveaway !!!! I'm not known for my ability to win things so I'm over the moon to have opened my inbox this morning to find an email from Karon from Dream Country Chat (link on my sidebar) to say that I'd won her heart of the home giveaway!! She makes the most amazing things......all of them beautiful, all of them useful, and I'd be proud to own any of them. So thank you Karon, and I can't wait to see your beautiful home featured in 'Your Home' magazine.


Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Chester Zoo

We spent a lovely day at Chester Zoo yesterday, and were lucky enough that it didn't rain on us !!

It was the first time we've been in years, and it's changed so much that we hardly recognised it. What made this is it really special though, was that Dave was with us. Usually the girls and I go on our own, but he's booked the week off and we're planning on day trips - weather permitting !!

After lots of fruitless visits over the years to the Spirit of the Jaguar - a huge complex with fountains, waterfalls and jungle-esque plantings - I finally saw the jaguar. It absolutely took my breath away. Then, after we moved to their outdoor 'home'......we realised that there were actually two !! And to top it off......we also managed to see the black panther !!

We managed to get so much closer to a lot of the animals than ever before - the elephants, lions, rhinos, jaguars......all came so much nearer.

I must admit to getting upset at how sad some of the animals looked - you could see it in their eyes.

Apart from that sadness, it was a lovely place to visit, and Dave made us all laugh when he realised that the last time he came to Chester Zoo, Lucy was tiny, and in a pushchair !!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Daughter dedication !!

It was Mickey's 16th birthday on Friday, and she's managed to spread the celebrations over the whole weekend too !!

On Friday we spent the day together, then went out for a meal at the local carvery. On Saturday we awoke to torrential rains - and we'd been planning a barbecue !! We talked it over and decided that in true British spirit we'd go ahead with the barbie, so Dave donned his wellies, hat and big waterproof coat and set up a big umbrella to protect the barbecue, and proceeded to cook almost 60 burgers and sausages. I was just as busy in the kitchen, making Chicken and Bacon Pasta Salad, Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Salad, my gorgeous Chocolate Muffins, tomato salad, and preparing all the usual bbq extras.

I also tried an archive recipe from Sweet and Simple Bakes - their Banana and Chocolate Loaf ( Having used all my dark chocolate in the muffins, I substituted white chocolate and the results were gorgeous. It all disappeared at lightning speed, so it was obviously very popular. Thanks for that Maria and Rosie !!

The party must have gone well, judging by how long it laster - 7 hours !!

Today Mickey took her friends to a lovely chinese restaurant and then went shopping to walk off some of the food.

I'm so glad that she had such a wonderful birthday (days, lol).

She deserves every second.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

16 years on.....

It's my daughter's 16th birthday tomorrow. I can't believe that that tiny, beautiful baby girl has grown into a 16 year old not-so-tiny-but-still-my-baby-and-still-beautiful-girl.

She's having a lazy day with me tomorrow, then her birthday bbq on Saturday, then a meal at a local chinese restaurant with friends on Sunday. We're just hoping that the weather stays nice for the bbq !!

She's amazing - just like my 10 year old. Both full of life and full of fun, and so, so clever and funny. I really enjoy spending time with my babies.

She's finished school now, and has embarked on her long 13 week holiday before college starts.

I'm so very, very proud of her.


Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Time to celebrate - I finished my course !!!!

After nine months of hard slog, I've finally finished my Exploring Science course with the Open was so much harder than I expected !!! I have to wait until August for the results. I was told that the course should take 16-18 hours a week - it took me a lot more, as I was basically studying school hours. Dropping Lucy off at school, and then studying until it was time to pick her up again.

Now I have to start on my next course, Life in Our Oceans. It actually started two weeks ago, but is much easier than the last course, and it's a subject that I'm desperate to start. This is one of the two Level One courses that I had my heart set on.

So last night, I celebrated the end of my course. I had a glass of sherry in my garden !!! That's more alcohol than I've had in months !! lol.


Rest in Peace Norman

Dave's stepdad had passed away, he was basically unconscious for his last few days, and was so frail.....he lost his battle.

Dave's mum is coming for tea tonight, the family are trying to keep her as occupied as possible and we're all taking it in turns to be with her. So tonight we're having a roast chicken dinner with apple or rhubarb crumble. I'm making both, as Dave loves one, and Mickey loves the other.

Lucy took the news of Norman's death far worse than we'd imagined. I guess you can never tell how someone is going to react. Now we just have to wait for the funeral.

RIP Norman. xx

Monday, 1 June 2009

Sweet and simple bakes - Lemon curd muffins

For the first time, I've actually joined in with Sweet and Simple Bakes , instead of just drooling over the pictures and the recipes !!

The idea is simple - each month all members bake the same recipe, chosen by the two lovely ladies behind the site, and we all post our results at the same time. This month the recipe was Lemon Curd Muffins.

First of all, may I point out that actually reading the recipe in full helps??? I made the mistake of stirring the 12 tsps of lemon curd stated into the cake batter *blushes* when it actually said to put a teaspoon in the centre of each cake to give a juicy pocket of curd. Oh well....I did both, lol, and it was of no detriment to the cakes. They were gorgeous !! The lemon curd and sugar topping gave a wonderful crunch and texture to the cakes.

Now I can't wait to see what's next on the list for June !!


Friday, 29 May 2009

A mixed day today

I'm due to make roughly 40 muffins today - my friends at work tasted tham once, and have been demanding them ever since, so hopefully, tomorrow will be the day. Except that I have a stonking headache (again) so am probably going to try to sleep it off first.

Dave's stepdad's doctor met with his mum yesterday - they've warned her to prepare, Norman won't be with us for long. It's horrible - it feels as if we're all in limbo. Norman is now off the drip, hasn't eaten for days, he's just on oxygen. The poor, poor man.

The girls have gone to spend the day shopping today. They're having a real girlie day, lunch out, lots of bus rides.....Lucy was so excited this morning !!!!! It's strange to see my babies so grown up.

I finished the left front of my cream knitted shrug last night - using the Big Softie wool and 10mm needles - oh god I love this wool !!! NEVER has anything knitted up so fast !!

I'm off to order some material for the dressmaking that I'm starting again, and then I think it's off to bed to try to banish my flaming headache !


Wednesday, 27 May 2009

I think we need another batch.......

Erm……those cookies didn’t last long *blushes*.

Ok, while I brush crumbs off my top, I’ll update about non cookie orientated news. Dave’s stepdad is still in hospital, still not looking good. His mum is near to a nervous breakdown I think, and the entire family is trying to help.

I’ve finished the most enormous, most difficult assignment yet on my degree. 18 pages long !!! I posted it yesterday, and felt a huge wave of relief as I handed it over. I only have to do the last 15 questions on the interactive assignment now, then this course is actually finished. My next course has already started, but it’s not to a set timetable like the last one, so I can easily catch up on that. It’s the Life in our Oceans course, one I’ve been looking forward to enormously.

The girls are off for half term this week, and we’re just taking things pretty easy. I was hoping to goa nd see a film with Dave tonight(we’ve been trying to go on Orange Wednesday to save money, but Norman’s illness has restricted us). But flaming football is on so Dave wants to watch that instead.

MEN !!!!


Perservering with pancakes

Originally posted on May 19, 2009

Dave’s stepdad came home yesterday, but already there are complications. He’s in so much pain all the time, he’s being sick and refusing to eat so he can’t take his steroid tablets. Dave’s mum is absolutely frantic with worry, which meant Dave being down there at 6 o’clock this morning.

On the bright side (and we try to look for ANY bright side at the moment, lol) I did some sewing this weekend !! Ok, I only turned up trousers for Mickey and Dave, and adjusted a pair for myself, but it was heaven to get out my sewing machine and realise that it still works. I’m now planning on making a few things for Mickey’s birthday (shhhhhh !! don’t tell her !!).

My study at the moment is scary. I’m basically spending the entire school day, every day, working on my final assignment for this science course, I can’t believe how much there is to do on it. If I’m not studying I feel guilty. I have to actually be productive or I feel as guilty as hell – last night Mickey made me lie down for a bit and just switch off. Not easy, but I managed an hour curled up on the sofa. Now back to the study again !

I think that Dave and Mickey have finally got over their pancakes with strawberries and ice cream phase. After making them at 10 pm for the last two nights (life is crazy for us so we’re eating at crazy times) I think it’s finally safe to put away the pancake pan for a while. It’s amazing that something so simple is so loved ! Yesterday I bought a huge joint of beef from Sainsburys – last night we had roast beef in gravy on baguettes with chips. Tonight is the turn of a good old fashioned roast dinner, complete with yorkie puds !!

And NO pancakes !!


The most amazing cookies ever

I’ve just made the most amazing batch of cookies, using a recope from the Goddess’s Kitchen

They’re crunchy but chewy at the same time – as soon as we get my damn camera working, I’ll post some pictures – they look and taste just like the Millie’s cookies that we all love, but cost a damn sight less than £5 for 15 !!!

The Goddess’s Kitchen has some beautiful recipes. Her posts in the run-up to Christmas really inspired me to make more of my christmas presents this year – if they only look half as good as hers, I’ll be happy.


Yet another busy week

Originally posted on May 15, 2009

Lots happening this week !!

Dave’s stepfather is coming out of hospital on Monday. They don’t know how long he’s got, but they’re getting support fpr him at home with home-helps , Macmillan nurse visits and meals on wheels.

Lots of baking and cooking – St James Beef, Red Onion Chutney Sausage Rolls, Beef casserole, barbecue chicken amongst others.

I tried a recipe for Rosemary and Raisin bread from ‘A Year in Bread’, and Mickey absolutely loved it !! She ate most of it the same day, just sliced and buttered. It turned out very similar to the picture on the website (which is a huge surprise to me, lol) and worked well even in the bread machine.

I am generally awful at yeast based breads, and much prefer working with batter based ones, but this is definitely a ‘make again’. The cheese and onion bread I also tried didn’t turn out so well *blushes. I’ve just made a dozen chocolate muffins for our mechanic to say thank you for finally finding out how to stop my car alarm going off all the time, and tonight I need to make strawberry and white chocolate muffins to take out with us, as the girls and I are going to Mum’s caravan in Wem for the day – hopefully for a barbecue !!!

I caught up with an old friend this week, who I lost contact with over a very big upset in the past. We really cleared the air, and feel so much better for it. We’re now catching up on what’s been happening in our lives, which is taking quite a while, lol . What can I say – we’re busy women !!


Good news.....

Originally posted on May 11, 2009

The first parcel of wool has arrived !!!

I ordered some some from ebay which arrived this morning. It’s ‘Ruffled Ribon’ which knits up like silk, so I’m planning to make a scarf for one of the girls for Christmas with it. Yes, it’s onlyMay, but given our financial standing at the moment I’m trying to collect presents all year round so that we won’t be hit with a huge bill in December.

I’ve also received some Prima dressmaking patterns that I bought from ebay. I used to do a lot of sewing and hope to take that up again. As ever, being in the middle of a seriously heavy study session I’m aching to be creative !

I also discovered a wonderful wool called Big Softy by Sirdar. It knits up on 10mm needles and is available in some gorgeous colours – I think it works out at 9 stitches to 4 inches on a tension square. That’s huge !! lol. I should have no problem knitting something with that !! I’ll order some along with a pattern book at the weekend.

Yesterday we got about 100 plants in the garden – we filled the front borders and also created a new border in the back garden along where we buried Lucy-cat. Still loads more to plant, but we ran out of time ! I had to finish the gardening so that I could get tea ready – bacon wrapped chicken breasts, italian roast potatoes, vegetables…..and then my famous pancakes with ice cream and strawberries !!

Lucky, lucky Dave !


Bad news

Originally posted on May 11, 2009

Dave’s stepfather has been diagnosed with both brain cancer and lung cancer. He was taken ill a couple of weeks ago, nothing major, just feeling a bit dizzy, off his feet a bit. Now he’s in hospital with a very grim prognosis.

Dave’s mum has tremors, which is similar to Parkinson’s disease. Norman was her carer, so the whole family has to step in a bit to help out. It's horrible seeing them both so frail. The next few months/years are going to be so, so tricky and horrible for everyone.

Assignment submitted!!

Originally posted on April 29, 2009

I got my assignment done, but not completely. I had to miss off a question because I was ill on Monday and not exactly fully recovered yestetrday so my mind was functioning at full speed. Quantum physics needs TOTAL brain capacity, lol. Still - I should get a decent mark.

I’ve just been to Sainsbury’s (even remembered to take my bags for life – very proud of myself) and stocked up on baking ingredients. Often, after I’ve been really pushing my studying because of a deadline, I’ll feel an enormous urge to have what a friend and I call an ‘apron day’. Just catching up on little bits of housework and cleaning that I’ve left because of study pressure. These days usually always end in a baking marathon, so I’m now well prepared !!!

Mickey and I are going to see a friend of hers in the play ‘Maggie May’ tonight so it will be lovely to get out for the evening. Next Wednesday, Dave and I are actually going out . TOGETHER !!!! AS A COUPLE !!!! Ok, so it’s a movie then the pub, but at least it’s a date with the gorgeous man I married. Those are very few and far between these days.


A long wait ......

Originally posted on April 26, 2009

Quite a while since my last post, but we’ve been pretty busy !

We decided that the loss of Lucy cat left too big a gap in our lives, so last week we adopted a cat from the RSPCA. His name is Henry, and was taken to the RSPCA by a woman who found him in the road having been crushed by a car. His front legs were totally crushed, but have been rebuilt with a series of metal pins, which led to the kennel maids at the home calling him Metal Mickey !!!

He’s amazing. He’s three years old and looks just like the Felix cat in the adverts, black and white and gorgeous. You'd never know he’d had such terrible injuries – he acts like a normal cat. He climbs everywhere, chases everything and generally has a wonderful time. He made himself at home with us right away, and its as if he’s always been here.

Seeing him playing reminds me of how Lucy-cat used to be when she was a kitten. It’s really painful at times to see him doing things that she used to do, we still miss her so much.

Work and study are still busy for me. Another long hard day at the pub yesterday but at least we didn’t need any police cars to sort out the kids party this week !!

We had a lovely day today – badminton, then Dave took the girls and Jorge around the local park for a swim in thepond and a very long walk, the swim in the pond leaving Jorge in need of a lovely bath !! After that we had a bbq, and then finally planted three lovely fruit trees in the garden. I’ve waited SO long for that !!

Let’s hope the rest of the week goes as well…..I have to get a big assignment in for midnight on Tuesday…fingers crossed that I make it !!!

Monkey Forest

Originally posted on April 15, 2009

My sister has taken the girls to the Monkey Forest at Trentham today – I’ve had a phone call from them to say that apparently they timed it really well, they’re inundated with baby monkeys !! It’s a lovely place to visit, but there’s loads of walking with not many seats along the way, so perhaps not suitable for those who need to take regular breaks.

Photos to follow !!

Praise Indeed

Originally posted on April 11, 2009

I came home from work at about 6.30 tonight, absolutely shattered !! It’s always a long day at the pub, usually really busy with no-one else serving at the bar. If I sit down when I get home, when I stand again, even if it’s only after 5 minutes, my feet hurt sooo much – I’m nearly in tears. I do love the job though – some of the people there are wonderful.

Debs at work offered today to call me next time she’s making her bath bombs etc, so that I can see how she does them – I can’t wait !! She brought me a lip salve today, scented only with essential oils – oh my god….it was amazing. I have to learn how to make them !!

I also took in the batch of chocolate muffins. To say they were popular was an understatement, with a couple of people advising me to sell them to the pub for their menu. I bake for enjoyment, lol…but it was lovely to be the recipient of such praise !!

Bath bombs galore

Originally posted on April 10, 2009

The bath bomb kit came yesterday morning, so Lucy and I spent a lovely couple of hours using it. It was a bit of trial and error at first, for instance I had to add more colour powder than I thought I’d need, as the bombs were virtually colourless after adding the amounts described in the instructions. But they turned out lovely !!

We did ‘ball’ shaped ones and hearts, some had flowers added to them and looked gorgeous. We left them to dry overnight, and I’ll place them in little plastic bags that self seal later today, to preserve the scent. We chose Almond Milk and Honey, andthe entire house now smells like almond slices, lol.

Last night I ebayed and bought some more frangrances – Strawberry Jam Doughnut, Peanut Butter Cookei, Melon, and finally Baby Powder. I’ve also bought a lip balm kit and a couple of flavours for that.

I fully recommend anyone to try the bath bombs. Try looking at ‘Estheticals’ on ebay. Fantastic service and great prices.

All quiet

Originally posted on April 10, 2009

Mickey is at the cinema with her friends to see ‘Fast and Furious’, Dave and Lucy are at the museum, so it’s just me and Jorge at the moment. It’s times like this when I really miss Lucy-cat.

We all did a load of cleaning today, had everything done by 10.30am, including all the bedding in the washer, so I’m looking forward to a relatively peaceful day – I might make a start on my next assignment though – quantum physics !!!

When I looked at the book, and went through it as a sort of first skim, I thought, yep, that’s hard. Then when someone reminded me that it’s actually ‘quantum physics’ it scared the living daylights out of me !! lol. If anyone had told me a few years ago that I’d be studying that, as part of a BSc in Geoscience, I’d have sent for the men in white coats for them.

My pass rate at the moment is averaging 57%. Not great, but considering the fact that it’s the first science I’ve done in years, I’m pretty happy with it. I was told that the course I’m doing is the equivalent of doing four ‘A’ levels in nine months. I was even happier with my 57% after I heard that.

I’m making some of my chocolate muffins later today, to take into work tomorrow. There’s a lovely lady there called Gaynor, who has been absolutely fabulous in the last few weeks when I’ve been upset about Lucy-cat and the family ‘issues’. So it’s my way of saying thank you. The muffins are amazing, so easy to make, and totally delicious. Even nicer served warm so that the chocolate pieces are still melting !!


Another busy weekend

Originally posted on April 7, 2009

I’ve almost finished this assignment – I’m now even dreaming about geology !!! It really is fascinating stuff though, and I’m still happy that I made the right choice.

Mickey is at her friend’s house today, and Lucy is busy in the laptop – no doubt doing even more HTML programming – unbelievable for a ten year old !!

The weekend was predictably busy – ours always are !! It included -

A long nine hour shift (no breaks) at the pub for me
Erecting a six foot fence along our shared boundary with next door
Cleaning through
Six loads of washing and drying
Washing all the windows – we have a big five bed house…lots of windows !!
Mowing the lawn
Sowing pots of oregano, basil and chives
Sewing cress with Lucy – she and Dave love it on their sandwiches
Dropping off Easter presents for our nieces/great-nieces
All in all, a typical weekend at our house.


Cookies and Cheese Bread

Originally posted on April 3, 2009

After a hard morning studying radioactive half lives (my life is sooooooooo glamourous !!) I needed to bake !!

Mickey made a batch of Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies – the nearest thing we’ve found to Millie’s Cookies which are absolute cookie heaven. One thing that I find makes cookie baking so much easier is to use the re-usable baking paper to line the baking sheets with. It only cost me about £4 for 4 huge sheets which I cut to size, and I’ve never, ever had one thing stick on them. Fabulous.


3 oz butter
3 oz granulated sugar
3 oz brown sugar
Few drops vanilla essence
1 beaten egg
6 oz self-raising flour, sifted
A pinch of salt
2 oz nuts, chopped (optional)
2 – 4 oz chocolate chips


1: Pre-heat oven to 350 F/ Gas Mark 4/ 180 C
2: Stick some greaseproof paper on two baking trays
3: Cream the butter with sugars and vanilla essence in a bowl until pale and fluffy
4: Beat the egg in
5: Fold in the sifted flour and salt
6: Add the nuts and chocolate in then mix it all round with your spoon
7: Drop spoonfuls of mixture onto baking trays, allowing room for cookies to spread whilst baking
8: Pop trays in the oven for 11 minutes AND NOT A MINUTE LONGER, ELSE THEY’LL BE CRUNCHY BISCUITS
9: Cool your cookies on the trays for about a minute, before placing them onto a wire rack to cool down properly.

I then made, for the first time, a Cheese Bread recipe from Rachel Allen’s ‘Bake’. OK, it was supposed to be Cheese and Bacon but considering that I made it in that mad hour while tea was also being prepared, I think I’m allowed to leave out one of the ingredients.

The bread was gorgeous. Really easy to make it’s a batter type bread rather than a dough. Fair enough – I’ll definitely add the bacon lardons next time for a bit extra taste and texture but I’m more than happy with the loaf as it turned out. Dave will be enjoying some today for lunch, as sandwiches filled with york ham, sliced vine tomatoes and mustard. Lucky man !!!!!

Lucy Cat

Originally posted March 31, 2009

I opened up this blog which I started in January, because I felt the need to post. My gorgeous cat died on Sunday at the grand old age of 18. I can’t believe she’s gone – I keep expecting her to walk in my office, ‘purrrrrp’ at me and jump on my desk to kindly warm my keyboard for me with her bottom.

She was healthy to the end, I think her body just gave up on her. She died cuddled in my arms, after the girls and I took it in turns to be with her 24/7

Lucy cat – you’re really going to be missed baby. Love you.



January 9, 2009 — Clare The photo below is of the town of Duras, near Bergerac in the South of France. We spent a wonderful week there in 2007, and hope to return in a couple of years. It’s one of those pics that just bring the memories flooding back.

The house is close to Bergerac, in a town called Montignac. I’ve never been to such a lovely place – we were also blessed with incredible weather while we were there, so we got to enjoy the swimming pool too !

We hope to go back in a couple of years, after Mickey has finished college. Our friends who went with us last time are already clamouring for a return visit !!