Monday 24 February 2020

Bright spots in subdued days

It is fair to say that we will all be pleased once Wednesday has been and we have said our goodbyes to Paul's mum.  It seems to be hanging over us at the moment, life is not back to normal, nor is the sadness as raw as it was 2 weeks ago.  Arrangements are all done and we are just waiting now for the funeral day to be here.

So in amongst those cloudy days, it is lovely to have a few spots of sunshine shining through - that really is a metaphor as we have had some very cold and dreary days recently and very little sunshine.  As I type this I can hear the rain lashing at the window!

The last week has had two particularly bright spots of sunshine.  On Friday I went to Cambridge to meet up with Ruth (and her lovely son) from This West London Life.  We've met once before, after following each other's blogs for quite a few years, and this year Ruth brought someone new to meet me

Tilly the Cavachon - who is every bit as adorable as her Instagram stories lead you to believe!  Coco was pretty miffed when we got home, suspiciously sniffing us and realising we had been spending time with ... another dog!  How could we?  Next time you'll come too Coco, we promise!

The other happy get together was with my sister and her husband, and my cousin and her partner.  We try to take it in turns to host Sunday lunches about 4 times a year and this was my turn.  I did have a 'slight' panic when told that my cousin's partner has been informed he needs to follow a Keto diet to get him out of pre-diabetic glucose levels, but with a bit of research, tweaking a few recipes and cooking lots of low carb veggies, I really shouldn't have worried - no one went hungry!

Those two events have really lifted my spirits, and next weekend we will once again have a full dinner table - our son turns 30 at the beginning of March - how can my youngest be that age - I must be getting old!

Tuesday 18 February 2020

Labour of Love recipe swap and blog hop

It is a well documented fact that I have a sweet tooth, so it felt like fate when Leslie invited me to join her for Tasty Tuesday and share a favourite sweet treat in her Labour of Love recipe swap and blog hop.  Whether you have arrived here from Leslie's blog or if you are a regular reader - welcome!  I hope you like the sound of what I'm sharing and please do let me know if you decide to give it a try yourself ...

I would like to share with you probably the easiest and tastiest lemon meringue pie you will ever try.  You don't have to take my word for it, I found it in Mary Berry's 'Absolute Favourites' cookery book so if it's alright with the UK's queen of baking, it's alright for me!  It doesn't even need many ingredients

It wasn't until after I'd started making it that I realised that I had missed one vital ingredient out of the photo shoot so let's not forget what makes the meringue super tasty 

Ready to get cooking?

You need a round ceramic tart dish about 9" wide and about 1½" deep.  Pre heat your oven to 190 degrees celcius or 170 degrees Celsius Fan  (374 F or 338 F Fan) or Gas 5.

  • Melt 75g (3oz) butter, then crush 175g (6oz) digestive biscuits and mix the two together
  • Press the mixture into the flan dish, bringing the crumbs up around the sides of the dish and flat in the middle - what could be easier?
  • Pour a tin of condensed milk into a bowl, then add 3 egg yolks.  Put the egg whites in a separate  mixing bowl ready to make the meringue. 
  • Add the rind of 2 lemons, then the juice.  The mix will thicken slightly, then pour into the biscuit lined dish.
  • At this point I normally take the opportunity to scrape round the sides of the bowl to sample the lemon filling 😉 (It's a tough job but someone has to do it)
  • Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then add 175g (6oz) caster sugar, a teaspoon at a time (don't be impatient at this stage and bung it all in, the gradual additions are important to the quality of the meringue at the end!)
  • Spoon the meringue over the surface of the filling, making small swirls. 
  • Put in oven for 15 - 20 mins until the meringue is pale golden, crispy on the outside and like a cloud inside.
  • Avoid any temptation to dive right in and eat the whole thing straight away (this is the hardest bit) leave for 30 mins to allow the filling to firm up as it cools.

That's it.  You can make it up to 6 hours before you need it (as if I can wait 6 hours after this has come out of the oven!)

Please do try this, it really is so simple and makes a great dessert if you have people over for dinner, I guarantee it will get a 'wow' reaction as you bring it to the table. 

Especially if I am one of your guests!

Are you ready for some more sweet treats?  Be sure to pop by all the bloggers taking part in this blog hop:  Next on the list is Juhli - I wonder what sweet treat she has in store for us?

Juhli Newkirk
Danielle Park
Amy Johnson
Marilyn Lesniak
Penny Struebig
Anne Green
Laura Bambrick

And last but not least, the lady who is hosting the blog hop - thanks Leslie!

Leslie Clingan

Monday 10 February 2020

One photo - Twenty words

I am so close to completing my 'Wonderful World' Christmas jigsaw map; and have discovered a lot of famous landmarks!

Friday 7 February 2020

Do you believe in fate?

There have been far too many 'coincidences' going on around here for me not to believe in fate at the moment.

I'll share the last couple with you.  Paul had lent Jon his electric drill as he wanted to put up some shelves and a new bathroom cabinet and why buy your own drill when you can borrow Dad's?  With the revamp of our spare bedroom, Paul needed it back (we also find that if you don't reclaim things you lend out to sons and daughters, you rarely ever get them back!) so Jon offered to pop it in on Sunday afternoon.  It seemed silly to come over here just to return the drill so I offered Sunday lunch as well - any excuse to have extra time with baby Max!  They decided that as they were here, they would go and visit Paul's mum and on the way there, bumped into Rachel and her family who had decided to include a visit with a Sunday afternoon walk.

On Tuesday, Jon rang to say they had childcare dilemmas on Thursday; Sophie had to go into London for a meeting in advance of her returning to work.  Her mum couldn't look after Max as she is a nanny and the other child she looks after on a Thursday had dreadful conjunctivitis.  He was working from home that day but had a dentist apt where we live in the afternoon.  So we agreed that he would work from home here while I looked after Max.

On Thursday morning we had a call after breakfast from the care home to say that Paul's mum had passed away in her sleep about 5am.  I called Rachel in the hope I could contact her before she arrived at work and she was just about to go and visit Alma before work as she just had a feeling that she should go.  So I was able to stop her from arriving there and being told the news by the care home staff.  She came straight round here, and five minutes later Jon arrived.  

So while it is sad that she is gone, she had declined so much in the last week and no one wanted her to suffer.  To pass in her sleep, at 93 really was the best thing for her.  In the last couple of days she had mostly slept and woke after vivid dreams of family members who had died years before so I am hoping that as she closed her eyes for the last time, they were all waiting for her in that final dream.

Coincidence that all grandchildren and great grandchildren got to visit her on Sunday - which was the last day that she was fully awake and aware of who people were?  Coincidence that both our children were here yesterday to comfort and support Paul?  Life has a strange way of working out sometimes doesn't it?

Monday 3 February 2020

Sentence a Day January 2020

2020 - Welcome to the first month of the new year - new decade!  

Condensing each day into one sentence and ending with a video clip of one second of each day  - a true modern day diary!

Day 1 Hour long dog walk to start the day, then catching up on chores and arranging a couple of social events for later this month

Day 2 Childminding day - highlight of the day for Leo? Finding a big box in the garage which became an aeroplane, boat, car, treasure chest ... even better, Nanny is only 5' 1" so she fits in too!

Day 3 Decided to be brave and go for something a bit different at the hairdressers, when you've been poorly isn't it lovely to go and be pampered for a couple of hours?

Also had friends over for drinks in the evening to compensate for not seeing them on New Years Eve 

Day 4 Went into town and picked up some travel brochures to help choose this year's holiday destination - even with the whole internet to browse, it is still nice to actually flick through a brochure

Day 5 What a treat!  Invited to Rachel's for Sunday lunch; Jon and family came too and it was so lovely to see all the grandchildren at the same time 💗

Day 6 Trying to be more organised with weekly meal plans and trying new recipes - tonight we had smoked haddock risotto with poached egg on top - absolutely delicious

Day 7 Rachel and her family have asked us to go on holiday with them so in June we will be off to Sagres in Portugal; still undecided about where to go for our 40th anniversary in September #prettysureitwillbeItaly

Day 8 Paul went into hospital for a minor operation so a quiet day spent at home 

Day 9 Visited local care homes as we think Paul's 93 year old mum is now finding it too difficult to live at home on her own, followed by the first Zumba of the new year!  

Day 10 Another fall has meant that MIL has moved into a care home near us today, she is just too frail to stay on her own any longer, even though it is hard it is totally the right decision all round.

Day 11 Lunch out with Paul, Jon and the gorgeous baby Max at Giggling Squid

Day 12 Went over to M-I-L's house to pack a bag with a few more bits for her, I think a gradual move is easier for everyone

Day 13 Bought a new tankini swimsuit ready for my holiday - the label said it had 'magic shaping' but I'm not convinced that I can totally rely on the design making me look ok by the pool, I may have to try a bit harder at Zumba to strengthen all the wobbly bits!

Day 14 Our childminding day and I'd promised Leo we could make a cake together - I have a reputation of being messy in the kitchen and I think that Leo may have inherited that trait

Day 15 Tackled a job that I have been putting off for months - thoroughly cleaning the wooden Venetian blinds in the kitchen, they're 7 feet wide and in a bay window so quite a task to do properly. 

Day 16 Zumba class - lots of exercises with resistance bands, I think my arms are going to ache tomorrow

Day 17 Damp and drizzly day so tackled some jobs at home that I've been putting off for ages, like cleaning and polishing all my winter shoes and boots (thank goodness I don't have that many!)

Day 18 Started decorating the back bedroom - it hasn't been decorated for years, it's not going to be a quick fix.

Day 19 More decorating, visited M-I-L who seems to be getting frailer by the day, she slept for most of our time there.

Day 20 Appointment at the dentist - my least favourite place but thankfully x-rays confirmed no work to be done.  Also anniversary of losing my dad 31 years ago, it sounds such a long time.

Day 21 Childminding day, Rosie is now walking so that brings new challenges - nothing is safe!

Day 22 Painted the skirting boards and ordered the new blinds for the spare bedroom/study

Day 23 Went for a meal with friends to our favourite Indian restaurant, chicken shashlik was delicious

Day 24 Helped Rachel take Rosie for a blood test, went to visit M-I-L in the care home for her 93rd birthday

Day 25 Went to see a Beatles tribute band in a local music venue

Day 26 Had Rachel and family over for Sunday lunch, cooked my favourite dessert - lemon meringue pie

Day 27 Decorating finished - carpet arriving tomorrow!

Day 28 Childminding day, new carpet fitted - I guess that tomorrow will involve moving furniture back in.

Day 29 Our wine supplies looked a bit depleted after Christmas so we enjoyed going to Majestic Wines and spending a £75 voucher I had received for renewing a magazine subscription.

Day 30 Should have gone out for a meal with three friends but due to illness it ended up being a table for two, we still had a good evening though.

Day 31 Brexit - Britain left the EU at 11pm, I voted for us to remain so feeling a bit sad today, over the friends for drinks in the evening to drown our sorrows.

Ending with my normal 1 Second Every Day video 

and asking if you are joining in too!  Official date for posting is later, but I like to start my new month with a round up of the previous one so I'm early to the party.
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Sunday 2 February 2020

You know you're all grown up when ...

... your 'ta dah' list starts with something relating to housework!  

This is my reverse bucket list, not want I want to have done by the end of the year, but what I actually achieved.  Ready for January's contribution?

This month I did a job which I had not only put off for most of last year, but had even tried to delegate to Paul (who also put it off for a year) - it involves wooden Venetian blinds.  A large bay window full of them.  7 feet of wood slats just for the main part of the window then two narrower ones each side.  Made more difficult by the fact that in order to reach them, you have to lean over/kneel on the sink and work surface beneath the window.  

But what a feeling of accomplishment when I had finished the last slat, and when I opened them the next morning and the early morning sun caught the clean and polished wood, it was worth every moment.  Now please be my witnesses when I say I will never leave it so long without cleaning them properly again!  

Something much nicer than housework next - Arranging our June holiday and buying two new tankini swimsuits.  Last year I left it too late to buy anything nice for round the pool and anything I liked was out of stock in my size, well it was August when I started looking so it's hardly surprising I suppose.  I wasn't going to be caught out this year, there's definitely lots to choose from in January!  Now I just need to keep this shape and size for the next 6 months - step away from the chocolate ... as although the label insists one of them has 'magic shaping' there's only so much magic one piece of lycra can do 🤣

I have also added some new recipes to my tried and tested file.  I have a subscription to Delicious magazine and intend to try at least 6 new recipes from each months' magazine and put those we like into a file for those 'what on earth can we have for dinner tonight?' moments.  This month we have also stuck to our good intentions to help save the planet and managed to reduce the amount of red meat that we've eaten and keep to weekly meal plans to avoid food waste.  

Finally a 'ta dah' moment that other people might just call 'a night out with friends'.  I participated in a social event I would probably normally have turned down. You can read all about it here  when I went to a place I don't feel comfortable in, to listen to a band I don't like.  

I know it might not seem much but every little 'ta dah' counts I reckon!