Saturday 31 March 2012

Week 13

Really?  Thirteen weeks of the year gone already?  Surely not ...
It always surprises me when the word of the day is spookily appropriate.  I especially loved the day that the word 'humour' came up as my friend had posted a relevant picture on her Facebook profile!  Also today's prompt was 'games' and my son is at Wembley watching the rugby between Harlequins and Saracens, and it's on the tv so I was able to take a picture.  If you look carefully you MAY be able to see him in the crowd ;-) 
So, first day of the school Easter holidays and guess what?  The sun has stopped shining.  It's quite chilly today and I believe that things may get worse as the week goes on.  Hey ho.  Not to mention the petrol 'shortage' that is causing panic buying, suspect that could curtail a lot of planned trips further afield!
Storytelling Sunday tomorrow and I think I have something to share.  Pop back tomorrow to find out!  We'll all be linking up over at Sian's so make sure you pop over there to see all the stories from start to finish!  

Friday 30 March 2012

Time flies ...

We have finally broken up for Easter and boy it feels like it's been a long time coming!  This is a really busy term for secondary schools as once we return in mid-April we will hit the ground running in the lead up to the public exam period.  So we really do need our two weeks off!  

So this week I tried another recipe from the blog hop at the weekend.  This time I tried the recipe that the Not So Small One posted on Sian's blog:
It really was a delicious - yet healthy - dish and one that I will definitely be trying again.  The frozen potato wedges I used were a version that had cracked black pepper on them and the whole dish was fantastic.  If you like anything 'bolognesey', this is a dish for you!  
I feel like I've been neglecting my blog with scrapping pages recently but truth be told, I haven't had much time for crafting.  However, all those excuses end here.  Two weeks off - there's no reason why I shouldn't be creative.  And rumour has it, this gorgeous weather that we have been enjoying over the last couple of weeks is about to end, so all that sitting around in the swing chair in the garden will be coming to an abrupt end!
Have a great weekend everyone.  It's storytelling Sunday over at Sian's again and I'm desperately trying to think of a story to tell.  Will you be joining in too?

Monday 26 March 2012

Tea time treat

Couldn't wait to try out one of the new recipes that I found at the blog hop on Saturday.
Deb Turtle's Ham and Cheese Quiche Bites.  Pretty tasty for Sunday night supper.
Still warm from the oven ... Yum!

Sunday 25 March 2012

The morning after the day before...

That Deb Turtle really knows how to throw a party!  What a great event it was and what wonderful cooks and hostesses we have amongst us.  Thank you Deb for arranging it, I know that I have discovered some new recipes that I am looking forward to trying.
But after a world wide party like that, it was a real shock to the system for us Brits to move onto British Summertime this morning - we lost an hour as we put the clocks forward so one less hour in bed :-(
But despite that, I have managed to put together my week of pictures for 365+1

Thanks again Deb for a great blog hop yesterday.  My plans for this morning include brewing a nice cup of coffee and sitting here copying out the recipes so that I have them ready for the next time I feel a cooking session coming on!

Saturday 24 March 2012

Deb Turtle blog hop

Well isn't this a great way to spend a Saturday!  I'm so pleased you arrived here safely, and whether you came via Jacky  or Deb's blog  or just an accidental visit - please step inside and join the party.  If you came via Jacky, she's got a fab new kitchen so I'm afraid mine will seem a bit tatty by comparison!  Anyhow, you've had a couple of hours on the motorway, you must be tired and thirsty, come in and join me for a glass of wine and welcome to my home!
I hope you're feeling hungry, as I've cooked my favourite dish, slow roasted shoulder of lamb with a garnish of pomegranate seeds and mint.  It's as delicious served with hot accompaniments or with salad and shhhh don't tell anyone but it's super-easy to make.  My recipe is a variation on Nigella Lawson's, but before I share the details, take a look and have a little sample taste and tell me what you think
To serve 6 - 8 as a main course
1 shoulder of lamb (approx 2 1/2 kg)
4 shallots, halved
6 cloves of garlic
I carrot peeled and halved
500ml boiling water
Sprinkle of sea salt
Seeds of a pomegranate and small handful of chopped mint leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 170 degrees/Gas mark 3
On the hob, brown the lamb, fat side down in a large roasting tin just until the skin is browned along the middle.  Set this aside while you briefly fry the onion/carrot/garlic.  
Sprinkle them with salt and then put the lamb (fat side up this time) on top of them and pour the boiling water around it.  Cover the pan with foil and put in the oven.

Now you more or less forget about it for five hours, just checking it now and again to see if you need to top up with a little more water.  I top it up at least once during the time. 
About half an hour before you want to eat, take the meat out of the oven and let it rest on a carving board.
Then take two forks and just shred the meat into a serving dish. It will totally fall away from the bone, there will be no carving involved!  Scatter pomegranate seeds and mint on top and serve.  What could be easier?

I hate to hurry you along but Ginger will be waiting for you, over at and you have quite a journey ahead of you, all the way to Canada.  How lucky that Stansted Airport is just 20 minutes drive from here!  Be sure to pop into World of Duty Free when you are there and see my son doing his weekend job in 'Wines and Spirits'!

A recap of all participants:

Drinks/AppetizersDeb @ PaperTurtle –
Rinda @ Gallo Organico –
Beverly @ BE glorious -
Soups/SaladsAlison @ Life in the Slow Lane –
Fiona @ Staring at the Sea –
Amy @ Over at our Place -
Side/Main DishesThe “Not So” Small One @ From High in the Sky –
Jacky @ Scrappy Jacky -
Deb @ Deb’s World –
Ginger @ Ginger’s Life of Spice -
Karen @ Tales from the Scrapheap -
Karen @ Random Reflections -
Ruth @ Everyday Life of a Suburban SAHM -
DessertsStephanie @ La Dolce Vita -
Ruth @ Chatty Crafty Arty Pig -
Margaret @ Finnegan Begin Again –
Becca @ La Jolie Fleur Rouge -
Rhona @ Life in General -
Cheri @ Scrap Dreams -
Carrie @ Rosalind Revival –  {dessert/drink wrap-around…}

Friday 23 March 2012

Hello friday

I've been waiting all week for Friday to arrive because that means that tomorrow is Deb Turtle's party! So make sure you pop back tomorrow ready to eat, drink and be merry! I'll see you then x

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Spring has sprung

Today has been the kind of day that makes you feel like the weather has turned a corner and that the bad, cold weather is behind us.  Of course, living in England makes you realise that you rarely get two days the same so tomorrow could be a whole other story!  But for today ...
the sun was shining, the sky was blue, the clouds were fluffy, and the plants were all coming into bloom.  This is Springtime Britain at its best.  I spent an hour or so in the garden this afternoon, pruning shrubs here and there, pulling up weeds that have outstayed their welcome and gently cleared around flowers which are just coming into petal.  The photo is of the flowering cherry tree that we have in our back garden.  It's branches are completely covered in pale pink blossom and it looks so pretty.  But the little flowers last only a little while and already the grass beneath the tree has a light covering of pink confetti where they are being blown away by the breeze. 
Isn't it amazing how a little bit of warmth and sunshine can lift your mood and make you feel so much better?  Let's hope this lasts a little longer!

Sunday 18 March 2012

Mothering Sunday

There's a vast difference between daughters and sons in this house.  My daughter loves to spoil people and make a fuss of them.  She puts much thought into gifts for birthdays, Christmas and Mother's/Father's Days and lovingly wraps them, choosing cards with totally appropriate wording in them - a true believer that it is 'more fun to give than to receive' (although she does love to 'receive' too!).  When her friend invited her to her Hen Weekend and she found out that it meant she would be travelling home on Mothering Sunday and wouldn't be back until the evening she was upset that it may 'spoil' my day.  So she came and spent last weekend with me, cooked lunch, arrived with gifts and card and we celebrated early.
My son, on the other hand, will quite possibly forget that it is Mothering Sunday until he returns home from his early morning shift working at the airport.  I am sure that his sister has harassed him prior to going on her holiday to make sure a card has been purchased!
So to all you mums out there, I hope that you are being showered with love and appreciation in whatever way your children find to show such things!  
I've become lazy at publishing my 365+1 photos on a daily basis but I have been taking them and here is this week's collage

Saturday 17 March 2012

Words of Wisdom

My daughter is away on a friend's hen weekend in Tenerife and so we have little Coco to stay for the weekend.  She's been at home with R's boyfriend for the first two days but we offered to have her so he could play rugby/watch rugby/go out with friends without having to worry about getting home to walk or feed the dog.  Plus I love having her here, so any excuse!  
Last night, bedtime was a bit of an issue.  R had sent her here with her old bed which is a soft fluffy padded one as they are trying to wean her away from sleeping in her cage overnight as she is getting to big to be in there.  So before bedtime, I brought the bed into the lounge so she could maybe settle into it nice and early.  No chance.  She took one look at it, stood in it, sniffed it a lot, got out of it and then tipped it upside down and tried to rip it apart.  Then I remembered that this is the reason they stopped using it in the first place and replaced it with a rigid plastic one which fitted in her cage!  Clearly, no sleeping was going to be done in this little bed.  
She loves to lie in our suede bean bag in the lounge and so I decided to bring that upstairs into our daughter's old bedroom, with the plan that I would sleep in that bed for the night and she would be in the same room on the bean bag.  (I was a bit worried that she may try and rip that to pieces if left in a room on her own and then eat the contents of the polystyrene beads!)  Needless to say, the beanbag was left untouched and I woke to the soft touch of a little furry paw on my shoulder laying on the bed next to me.  When I was growing up I loved the Charlie Brown cartoons and it immediately made me think of this one, happiness really is a warm puppy!

Sunday 11 March 2012

Busy doing nothing

I have high hopes for the next week.  Not only do I have a birthday, but it ends with Mothering Sunday.  My daughter always makes a big fuss of both days and on the years where the two days coincide, I do feel a bit cheated out of my 2nd special day!  For this year though, she won't be here for Mothering Sunday as she will be on a Hen Weekend in Tenerife so my celebrations have been brought forward. ( Will be interesting to see if my son 'steps up to the plate' in her absence next week ... I'm not holding my breath. ) Yesterday he was going through his diary and said 'Oh.  It's your birthday on Wednesday.  Guess I'd better go into town on Tuesday.'  Nothing like leaving it to the last minute eh?  So anyway, today my daughter, her partner and the puppy are coming over to cook a special lunch and I will be celebrating a week early.  Husband is currently tidying up kitchen in preparation (R's partner is a professional chef, and I feel my kitchen/equipment/cleanliness of oven is woefully inadequate).  
Meanwhile, upstairs in the study I have done my collage of 365+1 Week 10 pictures

Saturday 10 March 2012

Makeover queen

I've had a little cheat on the the Just One Sketch front.  You see, I'm struggling with making a page without a photo in it.  When I went to the crop last weekend, I saw what Karen had done for her version of that and,{promise me that you won't tell on me} I think I'm going to do a variation of her idea.  But before that, I have skipped ahead to the last prompt.  These two pictures of R's puppy were just crying out to be used on a layout so without further ado ...
We've got a bit of page filling going on, a bit of roundness, and a mirror image of the original sketch.  I have really enjoyed this class and am determined to find something for the missing layout.  
Am happy to report that the Ofsted inspection went exceptionally well; outstanding in all areas and our Art faculty are going to be used as an example of good practice for other schools in our area.  Most importantly, the head was so happy, she bought every member of staff a cake for break time the next day.  She knows the way to our hearts!

Thursday 8 March 2012

Many kinds of stress

The atmosphere was a little fraught at work today.  It doesn't help that Ofsted are visiting.  For some reason this visit has coincided with the whole school being polished from top to bottom and fresh flowers appearing in places that don't normally have floral displays.  Teachers are looking exceptionally smart and there's an air of quiet anticipation around the place.  As we've had a couple of really good visits, this is just a short inspection concentrating on one subject.  Art.  You can tell who the head of the art faculty is, she's the one with a nervous twitch and a frozen smile on her face.  Art displays around the whole school have been revamped and I suspect that the art technician has been busy sharpening pencils and scrubbing paint pots until well into the early hours.
Now add to the mix the fact that today was results day for January A and AS level modules.  I think I've seen every emotion going today from shrieks of joy to tears of despair.  The exams office is a kind of sanctuary where we usher the students in, close the door, mop up tears and hand out tissues.  Give wise advice and send them on their way with either reassurance or a re-take form!  Fortunately the majority of students are happy with their results but there are always a few for whom it's a bit of a wake up call that come exams period you really do have to curtail your social life and put in the extra hours.  
All in all, it was quite nice to get today over and done with and for normal service to resume tomorrow.  I'm even hoping to get a layout done for one of the last Just One Sketch prompts.  I think there may be a puppy involved!

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Week 9

Believe it or not I am still keeping up with 365+1.  You want proof?  Here it is ...
I found that some of the prompts last week were hard to find inspiration for, but I'm happier with the ones we had so far this week.
It's my day off today and it's well timed as Ofsted are in today.  They'll still be in when I go back tomorrow but the first day of an Ofsted inspection is always the worst!  Their inspectors must think that all schools smell of polish and fresh flowers as believe me, our cleaners have been working their little socks off since we had 'the call'.  I bet everyone is dressed in their Sunday best to make a good impression! There'll be freshly made chocolate chip cookies in the staff room at lunchtime today I bet ...
So to share some good news here, regular readers will know that my husband was made redundant last year and had been unsuccessful in finding another job.  At 54, he felt that he was 'on the scrapheap'.  However, on March 1st he started a new venture and is now self employed and offering various services to a local estate agent.  He is doing inspection visits of rental properties, measuring sale properties and producing floor plans for their website and photographing sale properties.  It's not full time and it won't bring in anything like his past salary but he is busy and happy to be out there doing something again.  They have 3 local branches and they seem to have a lot of work to pass his way at the moment.  So who knows how it will pan out but for the moment, things are looking a lot brighter in that direction.
My niece gave birth to a baby boy on Saturday.  Yesterday I went round to meet my great-nephew for the first time and will warn you in advance, their may be several layouts of baby Jacob in the near future!
It was my son's 22nd birthday on Monday.  Twenty two.  Where have the years gone?  Seems hardly any time at all since I was holding him as a new born baby.
Right - off to check what my photo prompt is for today!

Monday 5 March 2012

Busy days

Saturday ended up being quite a busy day.   I'd been feeling really poorly in the last few weeks and a course of antibiotics had cured the sinus problems but caused stomach related ones!  I was pretty annoyed because it was the Eclectic Keepsakes crop on Saturday and I could already see my chances of getting there getting slimmer by the minute.  I hadn't wished to tempt fate by preparing my bags and photos and had already set contingency plans in place to get my hands on the kit which I had seen in a sneaky peek and knew I was going to love!
Friday night had ended in the knowledge that my niece had finally gone into labour - almost a week late - and I was so disappointed to check my phone on Saturday morning and see there was no text message from my sister with news.  However, I obviously woke up too early as by half past seven there was a message to say that a new addition to our family had arrived.  I rushed into town to buy a congratulations card and a gift for baby Jacob, along with a present for his big sister just so she didn't feel left out.  Came home and thought 'You know what? I'm going to go to the crop.  Even if I only stay for an hour or so, it'll be good to get out do something creative'.  So I flung a few bits and bobs into a bag, picked up my trusty tote and pointed the car in a Colchesterly direction.  45 minutes later and I'm sitting in a hall full of lovely ladies, gossiping with Denise and doing another one of my Just One Sketch layouts.
It probably ought to have a bit more layering going on but in my haste to leave the house, I left behind a lot of bits and pieces I ought to have packed!  
Then it was time for the layout in the kit that Karen C had designed.  Oh it's pretty.  Oh it's adaptable.  And oh how I love these papers ...
Look how clever those polaroid frames are.  See the contrasting types of bunting.  And the delicate doilies.  Not to mention a tiny bit of 'bling' on the heart.  This was exactly 'what the doctor ordered' to make me feel better again.  The papers are from the My Mind's Eye - Be Happy range.  Far be it from me to encourage you to go shopping or to suggest that a scrapbooker may need to part with some hard earned pennies on new papers, but let's just say that if you do - you won't be disappointed ;-)

Sunday 4 March 2012

Storytelling Sunday - Needle in a haystack

Busy day here, so a short story for a change!  It's my son's 22nd birthday tomorrow so I'm telling a story relating to one of his birthday parties back in primary school.  Must have been about 8 I guess and we had gone to the local Indoor Adventure Playground for his party.  This was newly opened and had an enormous ball pond that the boys were having a wonderful time in.
photo: Google images
So I'm sitting in the cafe area, enjoying a coffee and a read of a magazine, safe in the knowledge that the boys were being supervised by the staff in the actual play area (adults not allowed in!)  Suddenly my son's best friend appeared at my side, in tears. 

Me: Oh Sam, whatever is the matter?
Sam: My wobbly tooth's come out.
Me:  Well, I'll make sure I tell your mum so that she can leave a note for the tooth fairy tonight.
Sam: {sobbing} The tooth fairy might not believe me, can you come in the ball pond and help me find it?  

Needless to say, Sam went home with a slice of birthday cake and a goody bag, but no tooth!