Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Foods glorious food

Any other 'Oliver!' fans out there?  When I was little I loved that film and learnt the words to the soundtrack which I listened to over and over and over again.  My family must have loved it when I found a new film to like!
So before we all start up in a rousing verse of 'Hot sausage and mustard, while we're in the mood, cold jelly and custard ...' let me share the kind of things are dished up around here at the moment.
Now it's just Paul and me at home we are able to choose our meals according to what we both really like and not take into consideration other family members' likes and dislikes.  I didn't realise how Rachel and Jon's food preferences changed our menu plans!
We love Italy.  We also love Italian food!  So there is a wide variety of pasta shapes in my cupboards and there is often a ragu bubbling away on the stove.  So many different meals you can make by adapting a good, authentic tomato base.

We try to eat fish at least once a week.   Salmon is the most usual but Paul makes a pretty good fish pie and it's real comfort food.  Soft fish in a creamy sauce with a topping of mashed potato just going crispy on the top.  Lovely!I am a keen cook so I tend to make things from scratch, one of the luxuries of working part time. I'm also trying to get in the habit of buying my meat from the local butcher rather than relying on the supermarkets.  It is a bit more expensive but there really is a difference in flavour.
The meal that drives poor Coco mad is roast chicken.  She practically sits at the oven door watching it cook!  The smell must really do something to her taste buds - and as soon as it is out on the carving board, she is there standing as tall as she can, balancing on her back legs and desperate for little bits of meat while you are carving.
We're not huge takeaway fans but probably eat an Indian takeaway about once a month.  We had a phase of having one nearly every Friday and I think it took the edge off it so now it's more of a treat again!
I wish I could menu plan, I bet it would take £s off my food bills but the most I manage is two days in advance.
I've mentioned in previous posts that I am a member of Slimming World and without wishing to sound like an advert for them, it really is an effective system.  I don't really think of it as a 'diet' just a different way of cooking the same foods.  So I've just adapted my favourite recipes and my days of using cubes of butter have gone, I substitute quark for my creamy sauces and there are many more veggies on the table.
When I was little, you could tell which day of the week it was by what we had for dinner.  Leftovers from Sunday lunch on a Monday, chops on a Tuesday, always fish on a Friday.  Now it's very much a matter of what I fancy cooking when I get home from work!  All this talk of food is making me hungry - what' times dinner?

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Looking back

Today's prompt from Cate is for us to look through the archives and see what was happening on this day in the past.  This was a particularly interesting one for me as exactly one year ago today my daughter rang from work to say she had excruciating stomach pains and was coming home early to try and get to the doctor's walk in clinic.  That pain turned out to be appendicitis, so my archive post from one year ago would have been a picture of the inside of our local A&E department at the hospital!  Wow, that was a post I never guessed I'd be writing!

But one year back isn't enough for Cate - we have to delve further into the archives - the stipulation is at least 2 years.  I wonder what we'll find ...
Two years ago I was taking part in a series of posts that Sian had organised where we had to 'Pick your Precious'  Ready to step into that time machine and go back 24 months.  Sit tight - here we go ...

Earlier this week - So it's coming up for sharing something precious for Sian's monthly series of Pick your Precious.  What on earth am I going to choose this month?  Oh, it's lovely driving into work on a sunny day.  Driving down the attractively named 'Pig Lane', past the riding stables, horses gently grazing in the fields, trees just coming out in leaf.  The gardens of the cottages are looking lovely as the first bursts of colour appear in the flower beds. 
Concentrate Deb, you're supposed to be thinking of something precious to share.  Singing along to the music on the cd.  My goodness I'm tuneful today, my version of No Doubt's 'Don't Speak' has never sounded so good.  I could probably audition for The Voice.  But then which team should I join because clearly all four would turn round.  Tom's a bit old, even for me, and whilst I do like Jessie J, I don't think I'm 'street' enough for her.  So, it's between and Danny. You know what?  I think I'm going to go for The song moves on to Maroon 5 as I join the main road for the final part of my journey.  Need to think of something precious.  Pull into parking spot.  Turn off engine.  Remove disc from CD player.  And realise I have found my Precious.
So this month my precious is a compilation cd that my children made me for Mother's Day years ago.  I asked Rachel what year it was and we think it was about 2002.  It's a mix of songs that were in the charts at that time that I loved, some oldies that are classics and some whose titles were appropriate.  It's absolutely priceless to me and guarantees to put a smile on my face and a tune on my lips.  They put a lot of thought and time into getting it absolutely right and it's worth more to me than all my other cds put together.
They shared the design of the case.  Jon did the inside
 And the cover

 Rachel was given the job of the contents list.  I'll just take a photo of that too.  I've set up a backdrop on the bed to take the photo against.  Get off the bed Coco, I'm trying to take a photo.  Yes I know it looks interesting but I just need you to stay with all four paws on the floor for just a moment.  Off.  Get off.  How many times do I have to tell you?  The sooner you get off the bed, the sooner my photo will be taken and you can get back up there. Good Girl.  Now just stay there while I set the cd case in place again.  That's it, balanced perfectly, now let me pick up my camera again.  Hang on a minute, where's that dog gone?

Monday, 4 May 2015

Me on May Bank Holiday Monday

How's this for multi-tasking - I'm linking up with Sian and Cate .  Sharing what I'm up to every Monday AND Blogging every day in May.
Me on Monday? Catching up on blogs and realising it is far easier to type up blog posts on a proper keyboard rather than an ipad.

I love long weekends, (what's not to like?)even though I only work a half day on a Monday there's something nice about not working at all!
So far this weekend has been a load of balls.  Seriously.  Balls.  Everywhere.  From the tennis ball that Coco buried in the garden after misunderstanding the rules of 'fetch', to the sound of leather on willow as the local cricket club started the new season - thereby redirecting us from our normal walkies route across the cricket pitch to get to the local park.  You can, of course, still walk that way but you run a serious risk of head injury if you suddenly hear a thwack of a ball on bat and the sound of one of the fielders (is that the correct term?) running towards you.  We do like to live on the edge round here but when it's the junior team batting you do have to do your own risk assessment.  Where was I?  Ah yes, balls.  Snooker balls.  The husband is obsessed keenly interested in the snooker championships this year.  Every time I go in the lounge he is watching snooker.  'What frame is this' '6' 'is it nearly over then?' 'no' 'how many does it go up to?' '35'
So Monday finds me desperately trying to tidy/de-clutter/hide things I store in our study.  We're having new carpet fitted on Wednesday and the room has to be empty.  Well, let's just say that was a bit of a challenge.  I don't mind de-cluttering but it has to be done on my own terms, in my own time.  I have to wait until I'm in the right frame of mind.  So whilst the husband was watching frames of snooker, I've been framed into de-cluttering.  I must be honest and say I've surprised myself because there was a lot of clutter to go through. 
While escaping from the snooker I also used a bit of computer time to order some make up I had been promising myself.  I had a make up lesson at the Bobbi Brown counter just before my birthday and bought a few bits, but couldn't justify buying everything I liked in one go.  I love the fact that John Lewis deliver for free to our local Waitrose and also the fact that they had an offer on where you get a £5 voucher for orders made in May.  I take this as an omen that the time was right to get the rest of the makeup!  Especially after reading an article on how often you should replace your makeup.  Those use by symbols are there for a reason - who knew that much bacteria could get in a mascara wand?
So this is me on Monday - let's give up a wave to Sian and see who waves back!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Just a quote

Trust that everything happens for a reason,
even when you're not wise enough to see it.
Like most families, we've had ups and downs.  When you're hit by a 'down' sometimes the only thing that gets you through is the belief that there are better things around the corner and that there is a reason why the path you thought you were following has suddenly taken an unexpected route.  Only when things are better can you look back, reflect and see that if that 'blip' had not happened you would not be in the better place that you are now.  You have to trust.  Trust that there is a reason these things have happened and trust that better things are round the corner.  Because they are there waiting!
What's your favourite quote? 

Saturday, 2 May 2015

What's that you're reading?

Todays prompt is to share what I am reading this week.  Am I allowed to include blog reading in this list?  Because to be truthful that does make up a lot of my reading material some days!  Facebook?  Is that considered reading?
I'm reading a book on my Kindle but - to be honest - I'm not really enjoying it.  I only downloaded it because it was 'Deal of the Day' and it's ok for the 79p or whatever I paid for it.  It's called 'The State We're In' by Adele Parks. I'm 67% in so on the homeward straight now. 
It kind of has a predictable story line but maybe it will surprise me in the last chapter!  I think the problem is that I really enjoyed the last few books I read, they were more psychological thrillers - the last one was The Good Girl by Mary Kubica - that really had a twist in the tail!  I've got 'Six Years' by Harlan Coben lined up to read next which comes recommended by my daughter. I do like a good mystery!
As for magazines, there's Slimming World which I buy when I go to weigh in. 
I'm at target weight now so only have to go once a month.  Which means I eat what I want for 3 weeks then scour the pages for new recipes to undo any damage for the 7 days before me and the scales meet again. So far this strategy is working but I do have a weakness for jelly babies which happen to be on special offer at the supermarket at the moment.  It's just so easy to have a pack open on the breakfast bar and dip into it every time I walk past.  I need to stop buying them!

Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine is on subscription and I could easily spend hours getting inspiration or finding new fabric websites to browse.
I can't say that I'm reading many newspapers as we are in the midst of election manifestos at the moment and I know I should maintain an interest but it's been going on for so long now!  So the weekend papers are my choice at the moment, and then truthfully the supplements are being read more than the actual news.

Linking up with Cate - 2 days out of 31 done.  Is it too early to say that I'll still be going strong at the end of the month?  Yes, I thought so too.

Friday, 1 May 2015

My family right now

I'm a regular visitor to Cate's blog and she has started a month long challenge to Blog Every Day in May.  As someone who has been known to neglect her blog from time to time - I thought I would try and join in.  So here we are.  First day of the month will all good intentions firmly in place!  My family right now is todays project so here we are:
Paul - when he was made redundant four years ago it was a bit of a shell shock. But you know that expression that everything happens for a reason, you just can't always see it at the time? Well that was so true. The commute into London was becoming more and more tiring and frustrating, the new owners of his company were more and more demanding and unreasonable and the stress was starting to show on his health. But now he is 'semi-retired, working a couple of days a week doing property inspections of rental properties for a local estate agency.
Rachel - has moved out; having bought a house just down the road with her boyfriend. She works as a PA for a director at a firm of Surveyors in London. Right by the shops of Oxford Street, very handy for lunchtime shopping! 
Jon - he too has moved out and is renting a flat in London with his girlfriend. Trying hard to break into the world of publishing and realising it's a tough environment in which to get a job. But after working first as an intern and then on a temporary contract, he has recently been given a six month contract at a large publishers in the city. Also trying his hand at writing and hoping to get some of his short stories published and recently heard that one  has accepted by a magazine.
Me - still working part time as a school secretary. Channelling my crafting into sewing nowadays instead of scrapbooking and loving it! Currently planning a new kitchen, which started off exciting, then stressful, trying to get everything that we would like sorted, and realising that sticking to a new kitchen budget is not as easy as I thought!
Which leaves us with the final member of the family

Coco - Currently getting used to having two homes. We are sharing custody of her with R so she is here during the week and spending the weekends at her other home! I suspect that she is becoming accustomed to being spoilt rotten whichever home she is in.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Me on the last Monday in April

How did that happen? 4 months of the year gone already, crazy.
Did you have a good weekend? Did it fly by in the blink of an eye? Saturday was a day of finally getting round to those jobs we'd been putting off. For my husband, that final coat of paint on the walls of the study, for me, altering those new lounge curtains.  You see, for a procrastinator like me, the worst thing I could have done was to hang those curtains and pin them up to the right length. So they looked the right length, they looked like they hang nicely and only on closer inspection could you see that there were pins where stitching should be. Would anyone ever really get up that close to inspect them? It was such an effort to take them off the curtain pole, unpick the lining, alter the lining, stitch up the hem and re hang them. But it would have been more of an effort to get the paint roller out and help in the study, so I got the stepladder out and got to work. 
Out to dinner with friends in the evening, and despite a late night, I was still awake at daybreak on Sunday. Thank goodness (for many reasons) I wasn't running in the London Marathon! 
So today, Monday finds me visiting a poorly friend, and taking her some cute mini cupcakes to cheer her up .
Before I go, I'll be giving a wave to Sian and pop over to see what she's up to today. Fancy joining me? Come on, maybe we could pick up a few more cupcakes on the way!