Thursday 31 December 2009

End or Beginning?

Should we be celebrating the End of the old year or the Beginning of the next? I'm never quite sure!
The layout here is probably the last one I shall do in 2009. It's the second page from the crop that I missed in December and I thought it was calling out for an old photo so I searched through my trusty box of photos and found this one of my mum and dad on their wedding day. I think it works well with the papers. The little figurine by the side of it was my mum's so I thought that was appropriate to use.
In local news, 2009's most bizarre traffic holdup must have been yesterday. The M11 was shut for 4 hours due to 50 pigs wandering around on the southbound carriageway! Bacon butties anyone? ;-)
I hope that 2010 brings much happiness and good health to everyone, thank you to my old and new friends for their kind comments here. Big thanks to Shimelle for introducing most of us to each other!
Have a good evening, however you spend it. Looking forward to sharing many more blog posts in the new year!

Wednesday 30 December 2009

10 things for 10 years

Over at Scrappyjacky's she did a blog post about 10 things she has now that she didn't have at the beginning of the decade and I'm inspired to follow suit:

  1. A job. I left work to have a baby in 1986 and manage to evade going back to work until 2000. I did do voluntary work at our children's school but declared at one minute past midnight on Jan 1st 2000 that I would go back to paid employment and by February I was working again.

  2. My little Mini. I love my car. It isn't fancy but I love it! Swapped the VW Polo in 2004 for a silver Mini One. No regrets.

  3. A conservatory. We toyed with the idea for a couple of years, wondering if we would use it much. Now I wonder how we managed without it.

  4. Grown up children. Back in 2000 they were aged 13 and 9 and still technically 'young'. Boy, these last 10 years have seen some changes in them!

  5. A few extra pounds. At 5' 1" I weigh in at 8st 4lb which is absolutely fine but 2 years ago I found myself a stone heavier and enough was enough! I now go to a Rosemary Conley class to keep myself on the straight and narrow as I am easily led astray.

  6. Grey hair. Well hidden grey hair, but grey nonetheless. Highlights are now an essential rather than a fashion statement!

  7. A blog. Who'd have thought it? Not sure I even knew what a blog was back in 2000.

  8. Scrapbooking. Huge thanks to my friend Denise for introducing me to my new hobby

  9. Renewed friendships with old school friends. Friends Reunited was a great thing in the early 2000s, and we had a few school reunions. It was great to meet up with old friends again. Several of those rediscovered friendships are still going strong through the auspices of Facebook now!

  10. More free time. Now the kids are 'off hand' - one at uni and one working my days don't revolve around school pickups etc. My job is only part time so I have more time for me nowadays.
    So that's my ten things, anyone else out there care to join in?

Last month I missed out going to the crop I normally go to in Welwyn Garden City but my friend Denise picked up a kit for me and this afternoon I've made the first layout using the photo of the Fab Family Females that I took on Boxing Day. Photo at top of page!

Monday 28 December 2009

Finally ...

The Belgian page ... First I took the photo with the page laying on the chest of drawers in my bedroom, then I remembered my intention to find more interesting places to photograph my pages and so I quickly took it into the lounge and propped it up behind Santa.
The photos are of us with our friends, sampling 'Frites' with mayonnaise (when in Belgium, do as the Belgians do) and then the Christmas tree and ferris wheel at the Christmas market. Couldn't do a page without St Nicholas in the centre could I? And couldn't do a Brussels page without the Mannekin Pis dressed up in his Santa outfit. The final picture is a group shot outside our friends' house in Waterloo.
Trip to Brussels - Done!

... and relax ....

Well that is it, over for another year! My husband has just left to take his parents back home as they have been here for the last couple of days. Must admit that I am looking forward to having the house to ourselves again, eating up all the left overs and enjoying a bit of quiet time again. This afternoon I am reliably informed that Spurs are on the tv so I anticipate a nice afternoon to shut myself away in the dining room and finally get round to doing a scrapbook page from our visit to Belgium.
In the meantime, here is a picture of the ladies in our family (who said Stepford Wives?) my daughter, niece, my nephew's wife and my sister. Oh, and the little one in the middle is me!

Sunday 27 December 2009

Not such a dancing queen

OK, so to start with I was a reluctant participant on the Playstation Singstar .... But then my darling daughter assured me it would be fun .....
"You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen ......."Still recovering from the festivities and over indulgance, hope everyone had a happy and healthy couple of days, I'll be back properly very soon!

Thursday 24 December 2009


Today was the official decanting of the sloe gin that has been gently brewing/marinating in my kitchen. I do think I deserve a small round of applause for not dipping into it over the last couple of months because trust me, I am easily led into temptation! I shall be giving a little bottle of it to my sister as a little extra gift tomorrow.

I do hope that everyone has a happy Christmas. In amongst all the festivities and happy times there is often a quiet moment when some of us remember those who are no longer around to join in the fun. My parents made a huge effort to ensure that all our Christmases were memorable and their generosity knew no bounds. It is for them that I carry on so many family traditions and by doing so, their spirit is still with us.
It's not often that the husband gets a look in on my blog, so this is a rare appearance by him, but I wanted to raise a glass to all the new people I have met this year (blogwise!) it's been great to discover your amazing blogs and I shall be following your stories and lives in the new year.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Can you guess?

Whilst clambering around in the loft looking for Christmas decorations, I came across this photo. It was taken in about 1963 or 1964 when I was 5 or 6. It shows Class 1 at Churchgate Street Primary School. The school building was originally part of the old church and was the same school that my mum went to back in the late 1920s. When I look at this photo, it looks like it could have been taken back in the war years, it looks so old! The way we are dressed is so telling of those years. Sensible warm coats, Clarks shoes and the boys had to wear shorts until they went up to secondary school.
I wonder if anyone can guess which little girl in this photo is me? It's such a small photo and hasn't scanned that well so I won't be hurt if someone says it's one of the boys in the back row!

Tuesday 22 December 2009

My proper recipe

So, it's the evening of Christmas day. You have stuffed yourself with turkey and all the trimmings, spent the afternoon nibbling on the contents of a festive tin of Quality Street. Family games have been played, a quick walk round the block has been taken and then someone says 'Does anyone want anything for tea?' 'Oh no, I couldn't eat another thing' you reply. Although it would be rude to turn down that nice thin sandwich of home roasted ham, and those kettle crisps add a nice bit of crunch, oh, that cheeseboard looks lovely, I'll just have a few crackers with that lovely brie. You get the picture? So you're full. You couldn't eat another thing. The waistband of your trousers has been unbuttoned for comfort and you swear you won't eat again until New Year.
And then someone brings out the Baileys Cheesecake. With fresh raspberry coulis. Well, maybe I could force down a small slice .....

100g/3½oz butter
250g/8¾oz digestive biscuits, crushed
600g/1lb 5oz Philadelphia cream cheese
1 mini shot of Bailey's
100ml/3½oz icing sugar
300ml/10½oz double cream, whipped
100g/3½oz grated chocolate
To garnish
cocoa powder, to dust
Raspberries, sieved to a smooth sauce with a spoonful of icing sugar to sweeten

1. Melt the butter in a pan and add the crushed digestive biscuits. Mix well until the biscuits have absorbed all the butter.
2. Remove from the heat and press into the bottom of a lined 18cm/7in springform tin. Place in the refrigerator and allow to set for one hour.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Lightly whip the cream cheese then beat in the Bailey's and icing sugar. Fold in the whipped cream and grated chocolate. Chocolate will melt on your fingers, so I tend to hold it with a little foil wrapped around the end. When smooth, spoon evenly onto the biscuit base.
4. Refrigerate and allow to set. Once set, remove and decorate with sieved cocoa powder dusted over the top. Serve with the raspberry coulis

Now you're full!

Monday 21 December 2009

A fun recipe

Mel over at tagged me in a recipe challenge and I will give it some serious thought and do it properly, but in the meantime here is a recipe which will hopefully make you smile!


* 2 cups flour
* 1 stick butter
* 1 cup of water
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1 cup of sugar
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 cup of brown sugar
* Lemon juice
* 4 large eggs

* Nuts
* 2 bottle wine
* 2 cups of dried fruit

Sample the wine to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the wine again.
To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.
Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large
fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point it's
best to make sure the wine is still OK. Try another cup... Just in case.
Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl and chuck in
the cup of dried fruit.

Pick the fruit up off floor. Mix on the turner.. If the fried
druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver.
Sample the wine to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or
something. Check the wine. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.
Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or some fink. Whatever you can find.
Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.
Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the
window. Finish the wine and wipe counter with the cat.
Go to Tesco and buy cake.

Bingle Jells!

Saturday 19 December 2009

and the judges scores are in

A little while ago I mentioned a recipe that Mel had put on her blog. Basically it was for mince pies but insted of pastry top and bottom, you do a pastry bottom, spoonful of mincemeat and then a spoonfull of sponge cake mixture on top. Now I'm not a lover of mince pies but my dear husband is. Once a year he sees the jar of mincemeat in the cupboard and anxiously awaits me saying that I am going to make mince pies. When I told him that this year it would be mince pies with a sponge topping he looked dubious. A pang of disappointment flashed across his face. Trust me, I said, they look delicious. So this afternoon I made Mel's Mince Marvels and the official taster has decreed that they look delicious, they smell delicious and by golly they ARE delicious! Thanks Mel. They came out of the oven just as my son and his girlfriend arrived and they too said that they are fab and better than 'normal' mince pies.
So whilst in a cooking mood I decided to try Delia's Sausage Rolls. You know where you are with Delia Smith, nothing too fancy but she exudes a confidence that makes you convinced that you too can make something that tastes and looks great. I saw her make these on her Christmas cookery programme and liked the idea of the 'easy' flaky pastry that needs no rubbing in of fat to flour. You freeze the butter and then grate it in. No mess, no bits of pastry stuck underneath your fingernails, just perfect pastry. And you know what, it works. It is easy, it is deliciously crispy and flaky and the official taster, who likes sausage rolls as much as he likes mince pies, said that they are fab and that I am to make it again. and again, and again.
That's it, I'm all baked out. Takeaway for tea tonight I think!

Friday 18 December 2009

Last day of term

... and despite waking up to this:we still didn't have a 'snow day'. Yes folks, this is the same back garden that I photographed as part of the round the world blog day in November. Looks prettier in the snow I think!
So today I have drunk hot chocolate, sung carols, eaten far too many chocolate biscuits, watched 6th form entertainment and not much else. But that's the end of school for this year. I think the staff are almost as relieved as the students!

Wednesday 16 December 2009

A day of surprises

Today is my only day off in the week - so that's a good start, right?
Then, having woken to a world looking beautiful in frosty sunlight, the first flakes of snow started falling. So pretty. Feeling more festive already.
Then, I had an email from Robyn over at Made in Brooklyn to tell me that there was an ebook waiting for me here with a code for a free download. How kind!
All plans for the day now scuppered, ebook now downloaded, inspiration flowing. Oh come on, what would you choose - washing 6 weeks worth of student clothing that darling son brought home with him yesterday, followed by a trek into town to brave the supermarkets to fill up the fridge that aforementioned son grazed his way through last night (No raspberry cheesecake brownies left now I'm afraid) or an afternoon in front of the fire with scrapbook supplies making new pages with new ideas from the photos we took of the Christmas Market in Belgium last weekend?

Tuesday 15 December 2009

The countdown begins

My boy is home! it must surely be nearly Christmas if he's home from university! It's so good to have him home again. My husband is looking forward to some 'male' conversation over dinner and someone to discuss the finer aspects of guitar playing with!

Also, school finishes on Friday which is great, ! don't have to go back to work until 4th January - woo hoo! So much work to do in the next few days though, people think it is great to work in a school with all the long holidays but in reality we have to squeeze the normal amount of work into fewer weeks!

Plus - they are forecasting SNOW over the next few days! Wow! Wonder if it will reach us down in Hertfordshire? Wouldn't it be good if we had a snow day for the last day of term ;-)

It's the staff Christmas party on Thursday night, disco night at the local golf club. time for me to call in all my brownie points from picking the husband up after his works parties and get him to do the taxi service!

Sunday 13 December 2009

Raspberry. Cheesecake. Brownies.




I found the recipe for Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies over here at Amy's blog. And I had to give it a try. Oh boy. You have GOT to try them. They are to die for. What's not to like? Brownie at the bottom. Baked Cheesecake on top with raspberries here and there. Yum, Yum, and then more Yum. And the raspberries make it a healthy option - one of your 'five a day' ;-)
So then I go over to Mel's page here and she's making mince pies with a sponge cake topping. How good does that sound? And I don't even like mince pies! But I bet I could force a couple of those little babies down.
I think there's a serious need for a scrapbooking/blog/recipe share/site!

Friday 11 December 2009

An Ode to Christmas

'twas two weeks before Christmas
just fourteen more sleeps
And a feeling of anxiousness
was starting to creep

Lists were appearing
Wherever you went
And the wife had lost count
of the money she'd spent

A feeling of panic
was starting to show
As she realised there were
just 2 weeks to go

'There's so much to do,
Someone help me' she pleaded
But her cries for assistance
All went unheeded

There's turkeys to buy
And mince pies to make
I'll buy them from Tesco
And pretend I did bake

For there's too much for one
Little person to do
So forgive me for cheating
Happy Christmas to you!

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Trimmed tree

And the colour scheme for this year is indeed red, white and silver!

Trimming the tree

Christmas is a big deal in our house. You think that your kids' excitement will wane as they get older but there seems to be no sign of that with our daughter (aged 23). Traditions have to be maintained and she likes everything to be just so.
So when she asked if she could buy a few new bits for the tree, who was I to decline her offer? Now I don't know where she has been, or what she has bought but I just looked in her room and the bed is full of baubles and stars and goodness knows what else. We have a different colour scheme each year and I think that this year it may be deep burgundy, plum, silver and white!
The tree is up and in position, ready to be decorated within an inch of its life. I am on 'loft duty' being the nominated person to brave the outer reaches of the loft space to bring down the lights and decorations. A fair proportion of which will no doubt be rejected as 'too old' 'too tatty' 'not the right colour' or just not part of the vision that she has! I hope she wasn't watching Kirstie Allsop's homemade Christmas programme last night or else we will be searching for glass blowing places to make our own baubles and scavenging in the woodland near us for foliage to make staircase garlands and fireplace displays.
We both have a day off work today, so the plan is shopping this morning and decorating and wrapping this afternoon. Watch this space .....

Monday 7 December 2009

17 revisited

Oh no, after my weekend away I have become late with posting this:
Obviously since my 17th birthday I have become forgetful and unpunctual ;-)
But here are my updated details:

Hair colour - Still auburn in places but more than 50% artificially so nowadays :-(
My hair style is short and wedged at the back and longer in the front
My favourite brand of make up is Mac
My fashionable item is a deep purple tunic dress worn over leggings
My favourite outfit is a blue and turquoise floaty summer dress
I drive a silver Mini
On Saturday I go shopping - not anywhere in particular, Cambridge is a favourite!
On Saturday night I go out with my husband either with friends or have people over to our house for dinner
On Sunday I relax, once a month I go to a scrapbook crop in Welwyn Garden City
Mon - Fri I work at a Secondary school in the Secretaries Office
My best friend is - actually I don't really have a best friend nowadays, my best friend from way back in Denise, I am still friends with Jill who was my best friend when I was 17 and I guess my best friend from the couples that we go out with is Mandy
My favourite place to go is to my sister's holiday home in Praia da Luz in Portugal
My favourite subject is craft work
When I grow up, I'm not sure what I want to be ....
My favourite drink is Champagne or Prosecco
My favourite food is Lamb in any shape or form
My favourite shop is - not sure I have a favourite, John Lewis is great for browsing and has many franchises in it so maybe that
David Essex never proposed to me, but I am happily married to my dear husband - 29 years together!
My favourite actor - Brad Pitt
Favourite Band - changes frequently, I'm listening to The Script a lot at the moment
Favourite TV - Gavin and Stacey
One thing I want to do but cant is conquer my fear of lifts
Most used form of transport is driving
If I had all the money in the world I would buy homes for my children and a couple of nice places abroad for my husband and I to flit from place to place
I wish I could worry about things less and take more time to enjoy the moment rather than trying to be ready for what lies ahead
Still don't play sport!
This fall/Autumn I went to the Italian Lakes
Still don't dress up for Halloween!
I recently saw - haven't been to the cinema for ages, can't remember the last thing!
Reading Santa Montefiori books at the moment, but I love Marian Keyes and Jeffrey Deaver too
Big newspaper story today is another soldier killed in Afghanistan and the imprisonment of 'Foxy Knoxy' in Italy for killing a British girl
Phew! I'm done, sorry I'm late ... be sure to visit Christy . Tell her it's my fault you've been delayed ......

Sunday 6 December 2009

Brussels Christmas Market

We started off here :

The champagne bar at St Pancras station in London - what a way to start off a weekend

We tried the local food and drink

And saw St Nicholas in the Chocolate shops

It was the day before St Nicholas visits the children to give them Christmas Chocolate, so there was a parade

And the stilt walker had to negotiate the street signs!

The famous statue of the Mannaken Pis was wearing his special St Nicholas outfit

At night the tree in the Grand Place was lit up

and when we woke in the morning, St Nicholas had left chocolates in our shoes

All too soon it was time to get back on the train to London

And finish the weekend by having a kir royale with our lunch in a restaurant overlooking the River Thames

A fab weekend, a chocolate lover's paradise (that was my kind of a place to live!) and over 200 beers to sample (we have to return, I'm not sure my husband managed to try them all!)

Saturday 5 December 2009

Absent friends

Well I have posted this in advance so by the time you read this I should be across the channel visiting friends who moved away to Belgium. They moved here in September and we planned this visit with another couple before they left the UK. The weather report isn't good and I suspect that we are currently sheltering from the rain somewhere, possibly eating chocolate or Frites with mayonnaise and I guess the men will be sampling the beer!
There is a Christmas Market going on in Brussels and hopefully I am taking plenty of photos to do some layouts on our return.
It's just a very short visit so I'll be back properly tomorrow - Au revoir!

Thursday 3 December 2009

another train journey

Well, earlier this week I went back in time to 1975 on Shimelle's train and this weekend I am going on another rail journey.
This one starts here and I figure that any trip that starts in a place like that has got to be good! Apparently, if it gets a bit chilly there, the seats are heated and blankets are available. I may never get on the train!

Wednesday 2 December 2009


Ah - December.
The taste of Advent calendar chocolate before breakfast
The whistling of Christmas songs while preparing dinner (apparently that can be quite annoying, I don't know what they mean!)
Rehearsals at work for staff entertainment for pupils' last assembly
Trying hard to find dates that everyone can make to have Christmas dinners with all different friendship groups
Then finding somewhere that caters for meat eaters/vegetarians/teetotallers/people who enjoy a drink/people who want traditional Christmas menu/people who prefer Indian food/people who hate Indian food
The stress of trying to find time to go and brave the Christmas shopping crowds
The stress of 'Will that internet order be delivered in time?'
Blaming the husband for daring to have a birthday on December 12th (I ask you, how silly is that?)
The finals of Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor
Yup - it's that time of year again. How did that happen? Where has this year gone?