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 !!