Saturday, 26 January 2008

Not eggs-actly Easter yet though, is it?

But despite that, Tesco and every other shop that sells food seems to be stacked to the rafters with chocolate. Not necessarily a bad thing, obviously. HOWEVER. I do feel a little bit sorry for all those people who are still detoxing from the Christmas festivities and are now faced with shelves groaning under the weight of every single make and style of foil wrapped delight you could imagine, when all they actually want to do is buy a pint of milk. That doesn't include me. Detoxing in this household involves a bit less wine and a squeeze of lemon in a big glass of water when I remember.

I am trying to be a bit thrifty this week because it has been such a long month and seems a VERY long time since I was paid any wages. As a result, instead of buying the large pack of chocolate mini eggs, I just bought the small cardboard tube for 55p. Clever, I think you'll agree. And whilst in Tesco and backing away from the largest chocolate bunny I have ever seen, I fell into the clothes aisle. Everyone knows that supermarket clothes are the cheaper option, don' they? Obviously being poor I was very good, and just settled upon this scarf for £5.

I am not really a silky scarf type of girl but I wore it to work today, to cheer up an otherwise rubbish Saturday, and even my 21 year old secretary said I looked 'well cool' which I think was a massive achievement. I was quite anxious I resembled an air hostess (nothing wrong with that, but not the look I was going for, I hasten to add) but she assured me scarves are 'well in'. What a result. Come to think of it they do sell it in red as well...

I am quite keen to buy some new beads and other jewellery bits and pieces come payday as supplies are running short, but have been waiting until my payslip lands on my desk before I dare. Therefore I was really chuffed to get home from work and find a parcel waiting for me. I ordered some supplies from Etsy a billion years ago and have to confess I had given up all hope. It was worth the wait though, I'm really pleased with them, especially the turquoise beads.

The photo doesn't really do them justice, but I assure you they are lovely! One day, if you're good, you will see them in my shop! (not long now, promise!)

I am now set to have a very lovely Sunday, of reading the papers, making jewellery, baking yet MORE ginger cake (the orders are flooding in, darn it!) and generally relaxing. Oh, and we are having boiled eggs for breakfast, as is our Sunday tradition.

Normal eggs, obviously...........

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

A host, of golden daffodils (well a jug actually)

I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;Beside the lake, beneath the trees,Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:Ten thousand saw I at a glance,Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thoughtWhat wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;And then my heart with pleasure fills,And dances with the daffodils.
By William Wordsworth (1770-1850).

I had to learn that at school- that and 'The Jabberwocky'. Quite pleased I haven't got one of those on my lounge windowsill though...

Saturday, 19 January 2008

The Friday Night Project

Yesterday I had a request for two pairs of earrings for a girl at work to match her red and pink outfits. Its been a while since I have made any jewellery and as I sat with my box of tricks last night I remembered how therapeutic the whole experience is. I love sitting with hundreds of shiny beads in front of me, deciding which size and colour looks best, and in which combination.

I got a bit carried away and ended up making several pairs, one of which I have been modelling today. I wear quite a lot of black to work, mainly because it is easy and doesn't take much brain power early in the morning, when quite frankly I am not at my best. These earrings are a new design and I quite like them as they are a bit normal to the ones I normally make...what do you think? All feedback gratefully received, especially if I am going to set up the Etsy shop! (work in progress)

These ones are a more standard design but still look pretty, I think. Hopefully Kerri will like them.

I have been to work day and it has been manically busy, which is great, but it's been so grey and horrible outside! I hear tomorrow is going to be the same. I do hate wet grey Sundays, especially when I have been sat in an office all day on the Saturday. I think some cooking may be in order tomorrow. Mum has made the ginger cake from previous posts today and I popped in to see her and Dad on the way home from work. The cake looked and smelled fabulous. I don't think I can force any more ginger cake upon the work lot so may have to try something new tomorrow. I am quite tempted by Nancys (Philosophyoflists) cherry marble cake but think it looks a bit beyond me..she has more patience than me! It must come from having children!

I forgot to show you the incredibly girlie heart earrings. I was just playing around really, with some new beads - I bet Barbie would love them!

Hope you are all enjoying your weekend so far...

Monday, 14 January 2008

Awards Night

The lovely Tracy at Pinkpurl gave me an award! Hurrah! I feel very clever and special indeed. Unfortunately I now have to share 7 weird facts about myself (that is part of the deal, apparently) So here goes...
1) I love seafood and shellfish, but the mere thought of tinned fish makes me gag. I am sure I would be 2 stone lighter if only I liked tinned tuna. Every diet I have ever attempted seems to recommend it. Yuck. It smells of cat food, seriously.
2) Everyone thinks my hair colour is natural. It isn't. SHHHH!!! (not sure how normal it is to have such a serious amount of grey hair at my age, but it's not the end of the world, worse things could happen)
3) When I first met my husband I didn't like him. He does know that. Thankfully he grew on me. I like him a lot now.
4) My husband and I got together, moved in together and got married within six months. We scared a lot of people, but I think they have recovered, mostly. We have just celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary. I realise we have a long way to go, but I am looking forward to every moment.
5) I work as an estate agent, but trained as a Nursery Nurse. No one EVER sets out to be an estate agent. Why would you? Having said that, I do love my job.
6) I have secret ambitions to open my own shop one day, which would be a bookshop come florists come coffee shop. With a few arty crafty bits and pieces thrown in for good measure.
7) I quite fancy Simon Cowell. But it's ok, because my sister in law does too.(Nic, if I have to suffer I'm bringing you down with me) I can't believe I told you all that. Now THAT is weird.
Tracy, I may now need counselling after that little lot, but feel I can sleep safely in my bed for getting it off my chest. Phew. Now, the best bit is that I get to pass the award on, so to 4 of my favourite fellow bloggers (can you hear the manic laughter?!) here you are...your blogs always cheer me up and make me smile!
I am rubbish on computers (that is fact number 8) and therefore instead of clicking on these as links (no idea how to do that) you shall have to look under my list of favourite blogs where you will find those lovely ladies listed above. I look forward to your weird facts.Heeheehee...

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Piece of cake...

Weekends go far too quickly, don't they? Rob bought these lovely hyacinths for me yesterday on out trip into town to try and find Seville oranges so I could make some marmalade. No luck whatsoever unfortunately. Still, the flowers make up for it. There were two great big bunches, and as a result they are scattered throughout the house. The sweetie jar above worked better than any vases I had because it was a bit shorter...and the ones in the bathroom had to make do with a jam jar.

I did a post a couple of weeks ago on the lovely sticky ginger cake, and had several requests for the recipe. I made some more today and then felt guilty for not sharing it sooner. Recipes are just a pain to type out though, aren't they? I am quite impatient and rubbish at copying things. Here you are though...(I expect you all to make it and want photographic evidence!)

Sticky Ginger Cake


250g self raising flour

ground ginger-2 level teaspoons

ground cinnamon- half a teaspoon

bicarb soda- a level teaspoon

a pinch of salt (oops-forgot that today!)

golden syrup- 200g (nobody said this was good for your new year diet,did they?)

butter- 125g

syrup from the ginger jar-2 tablespoons

stem ginger in syrup-3 lumps-about 55g-diced up

sultanas-about 2 heaped tablespoons

dark muscavado sugar-125g

large eggs-2


-You will need a square tin measuring approx 20-22cm, lined with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.

-Set the oven to 180 C or gas mark 4.

-Sift the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, bicarb and salt.

-melt the golden and ginger syrups withthe butter in a small pan. Add the diced ginger, sugar and sultanas and let it bubble gently for a minute, make sure you stir it gently as well to stop the fruit sticking.

-whisk the eggs and milk together in a bowl

-remove the butter and syrup mixture from the heat and stir into the flour mixture with a big spoon.

-add the milk and eggs and stir really well. There should be no traces of flour.

-the mixture will be quite sloppy, but sloppy is good!

-pour into the lined tin and bake for 35-40 mins. I tend to cover the top of the cake after about 25 minutes with a square of greaproof to stop it browning too much. The cake is done when a skewer comes out clean....

Leave it to cool in the tin, and then carefully lift it out, unwrap the greaseproof and cut into squares. It tastes fabulous a couple of days later as it gets stickier. Rob loves it warmed through with a dollop of custard on top. Keep it wrapped up in greaseproof paper inside a layer of tinfoil. Enjoy!

I hope some of you attempt it, it is really good, and great for lunchboxes! (although I will understand if you don't want to waste it on childrens' lunchboxes. They might not like the bits of ginger either)

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Green Fingers

Our front garden has been, up until now less than inspiring. Covered in gravel with a sad looking tree in the middle it didn't add much to the house, and looked rather like a giant litter tray. Although thankfully, the neighbourhood cats didn't agree!

On Chistmas Day Mum and Dad came for lunch and Dad stood looking out of the window and suggested that we could probably do something to liven it up at some stage. I don't think he, my Mum or Rob were expecting the gardening books to come out, along with pens and paper whilst we designed a new herb garden...

So here we are, a couple of weeks later and the garden is now beyond recognition. I cannot take once ounce of credit for though, unfortunately, and only have my gardener to thank!

This is the half way stage, and gives you an idea what it was like before...Dad built the wooden frames and bought them up to the house, drilling them together to form the framework. Very clever Mum and I will hire him out for a small charge...

Today we went plant shopping, which is my next favourite type of shopping after clothes, books and food. So we now have a fabulous tree in the middle, and are slowly starting to fill the beds up with lavenders, thyme, rosemary and bulbs. Once the plants become more established and the weather gets warmer I am going to buy some Sage, Bay and and other herbs and fill the beds a little more.

The man himself, hard at work! I would have helped but I have hurt my shoulder. Plus someone had to take the photos, obviously. There are four sections which are filled with bark chippings so I can reach the beds more easily once they start to fill up a bit more.

And here it is, the finished garden! I will take more pictures as it starts to fill up. I think once everything starts to grow it will look less 'new' and start to look as if it has always looked like that. Plus I will be able to cook things without muttering about how Tesco don't sell Sage, and instead trot out of the front door in my apron with a big pair of scissors! How fantastic is that?
Thanks Dad, you are fabulous xxxx

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Full of beans

Is it really Sunday again already? I was feeling so smug at not having to back to work until last Wednesday, and having a nice short week. I also forgot I had to work yesterday, and now here we are again. A day of ironing shirts and tops. Cleaning the bathroom. Doing the washing. Does anybody else have an obscene number of tea towels? I counted 15. And there are definitely more squirrelled away in the cupboard. How weird.

I have begun my spring cleaning early (in the hope it will tempt Spring to hurry up). I made ginger cake this afternoon and hadn't realised I had run our of ground ginger. Not helpful. It was only when I started to sort through my jars of herbs and spices that I realised 6 of them were out of date...and not just by a matter of weeks, we are talking YEARS. Shameful behaviour, I am sure you will agree.
I am now feeling very smug though, because I emptied two kitchen cupboards, cleaned them, LINED them (oh yes!) and examined, tutted and then chucked things in the bin. I recycled the spice and herb jars and composted the contents. I am not sure if that was the best idea I have ever had, and now have visions of paprika and cardoman scented compost in the could be worse...

I have re-stocked the cupboards and treated myself to 2 new plants, fresh thyme to replace the jar of dusty dry thyme, and jasmine to go in the lounge.

I haven't got a photo of the ginger cake because it is safely wrapped up in layers of greaseproof and foil to try and promote 'stickiness'. I do however, have these fellas, who are also ginger flavoured although they like to keep it quiet in case anyone fancies a nibble...

My Mum and Dad bought them as a Christmas present, as I am quite partial to the odd gingerbread man. I am struggling to eat these though. I will have to remember to have a go at making some next Christmas and icing little hats like these ones have. Cute eh?

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Is it really 2008? Where did that go, then?

We have had a great couple of days, being thoroughly spoiled at my brothers in laws (does that make any sense?) it was quite the family occassion, and lots of champagne and yummy food was consumed by all.

Me and my Mum. Hmm, I suspect you don't need to be Columbo to work out that this was taken several glasses of vino down the line..the ruffled hair and shiny chin don't help to conceal my slightly daft expression. I also appear to have developed a shiny left boob...interesting. At least Oscar and George didn't appear to mind too much...

Baring in mind they were surrounded by 20 0dd fairly loud, tipsy 'grown ups' I think they did remarkably well. I only wish we had slept as well last night!

Husband on left, brother on right...

Come on then, hands up how many people were playing golf at 1am this morning...That's my Mums birthday present sorted. Rob was quite into it as well...

Ooh, the concentration! (slightly hindered)

I can't say I have much in the way of exciting resolutions for this coming year, apart from those I am keeping close to my heart. Other than that,

* No alcohol again. Ever. No really.

* No more chocolate. Ever. (heehee)

* More exercise (possibly a walk to the shop where they stock wine and Lindt chocolate)

* Open my Etsy shop at long last!

* Grow some weird stuff at the allotment. (I don't mean illegal weird stuff, more odd varieties of beans, etc.)

* Celebrate being 30 - we decided last night that we are going to hire a VW camper van for the week and be hippies.

* Continue to be very happy with my lot.

Happy New Year. xxx