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 know....so 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 www.showyourworkings.wordpress.com 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 (http://sweetsimplebakesrecipes.blogspot.com/2009/01/banana-and-chocolate-bread.html). 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 University....it 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 http://sweetandsimplebakes.blogspot.com/ , 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 !!