Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year's Eve 2011 - My 100th Post.

Hello beautiful people.

Ooh I'm so cross - I had prepared a long post ready to add some minor ramblings to this evening, only to find that it has vanished into the ether.  How very frustrating.

Ah well, no use crying over spilt milk. 

Our New Year's Eve has been a quiet one spent with loved ones.  My parents came 'round for supper.  We had prepared Yuk Sung in our new food processor.  It was SO easy we'll definitely do it again. 

Quick recipe for you!

3 large chicken boobies.. erm... breasts
2 bunches spring onions
4 carrots
2 onions
2 cloves garlic
1inch piece of ginger - peeled.
2 packets of stir fry sauce (Aldi do a fabulous spring onion and ginger one for about 30p per packet).
Soy sauce
Iceberg or Little Gem Lettuce, separated into single leaves.

Whack the chicken into a food processor and mince finely  (I mean mince the chicken.  Not walk in an effeminate way around the kitchen).

Once chicken is well and truly mincerated, remove from the processor and stir fry in a large wok until you're happy that it's cooked through.

Whilst the chicken is frying, using the same knife blade in the processor, whizz up the onions, spring onions, garlic, ginger and carrots.  Again, allow the veg to be chopped very finely.

Remove lid from processor and wince a little as the pungent garlic and oniony fumes dissolve the retinas from your eyeballs.  Stir fry the paste, then add the chicken, stir until the mixture is well combined, add the sauces, soy sauce, and seasoning to your taste.   Serve piled onto lettuce leaves which can then be wrapped around the meaty filling, scoff and enjoy.  Yummers!!  N.B.  You could of course add chillis if you like them but we had to leave them out this time as we were cooking for the oldies!  bless em!

Just call me Delia.

Actually don't.  I'd prefer Nigella.  Thanks.

After the 'rents left, Paula popped for 30mins respite from a party she was at down the road.  My daughter is out with her boyfriend at a local pub with his family.  So it's just me, ma boy and wondrous man.  I'm blogging, they're wii-ing!   I've never been much for New Year celebrations really.  I always find them a little flat and, sometimes a little over-emotional.  This quiet family time is suiting me just fine this evening.

2011 has been good.  Incredibly fast mind you - hasn't it fled by?! - but good.  The only downsides have been work related frustrations and exasperations, and minor health niggles which both need to be addressed in the New Year. I know that on a personal level, (discounting the births of my two beautiful babes), I'm the happiest and most content I've been in the whole of my adult life. I know that I live in a house filled completely with love, respect and understanding. That means more to me than anything.  We don't have much money but we have a truly blessed life.  To have someone tell me on a very regular basis that they love me and love our life means far more than having money in the bank.

And so to 2012.  I'm hoping for more of the same.  I don't 'do' resolutions apart from the one that's rolled out every year like a cheap carpet - the one where I state that this will be the year I lose weight once and for all.   

Instead of resolutions, I'm making promises to myself and setting challenges.

1.  This will be the year I lose weight once and for all (!)
2.  I will find a new job.  One that is satisfying and worthwhile and not one that is mind numbingly boring and thankless and saps my spirit and stamps over my soul.
3.  I will find more time to be creative.  I want to make soap.  I want to make those dear little teacup candles.
4.  I will remember my friends' birthdays and will post their cards and gifts on time.  This is HUGE!  I am crap!
5.  I will try very hard to be as frugal as possible.
6.  I will learn something new, whether this is at a night class or by distance learning.
7.  I will end 2012 with a perfectly tidy bedroom and will have absolutley NO clothesies lining the circumference of the room as I will have completed declutteration of the place by then!!
8.  I will continue to teach myself the Pagan way and will continue to follow my solitary path in my own quiet way,
9.  I really REAAAAAAAAAAALLY want to do some volunteer work at something like Shelter or Foodbank or similar.

That will do for now I think!

My loves - tis nearly upon us. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog posts this year.  I look forward to sharing more silliness with you next year.

 May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2012.  Love and Light.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Of Besties and Fun and Games

Hello Lovelies

Thank you to all 91 of you who dropped by to view my little blog yesterday.   I'm having real issues with Blogger lately.  Many people can't leave comments - even if they wanted to(!) and Blogger itself tells me that my browser no longer supports 'Blogger' and that I may encounter problems posting.  The only way I can post is via Google Chrome.  It therefore seems that I may have to move my little blog to another host at some point as I'm a bit of a technophobe and don't really understand what I need to do. It's very frustrating.

Anyway, moving on.  I've had a lovely day today.  My best friend text me earlier this morning to see if I fancied popping out for a coffee.  Well - it would be rude not to eh?!  We went to our usual little Garden Centre coffee shop and sat with a 'mini breakfast' and a large coffee and gassed away a good couple of hours.  It was absolutely blissful!

Paula and I met around 12 years ago when our eldest girls were at school.  We had both signed up for the Parent Teacher Association and didn't know each other prior to the first meeting.  Paula, in her inimitable style, walked into the staffroom, thrust a bright green D&G plimsoll with bright pink laces at me and said - "I can't undo ruddy knots - can you help?"  We've been best mates ever since.

We lived in each other's pockets in the early years, particularly when our littlies were at pre-school; more often than not we would drop them off at school then go out on an adventure somewhere or other, even when we had promised that 'today we absolutely and definitely should get some housework done'.   We've laughed, cried, partied, been on Thelma and Louise road trips, drunk endless cups of coffee in each other's kitchens, shared confidences, sold candles, wrapped three million presents for Santa's grotto, sorted jumble, dressed up in the most ridiculous outfits known to man, sung on stage in front of 100 people at a candle product launch, hunted for mice in the PTA shed, moaning our heads off at the damage done by such a small rodent, then, upon finding it, saying "awwwwww bless"!!  and promptly released it into the field outside the shed only for it to no-doubt return shortly afterwards.

We've both gone through sticky marriage break-ups but have both come out the other side of them and have  both in turn found our forever loves.   We might go for a couple of weeks at a time without communicating but when we do get in touch we can yap for hours and hours without a break.

I miss her a lot as we both work full time and don't get to spend as much time together as we used to but today has just underlined how strong our friendship is and probably (hopefully) always will be.

Love you matey!!

This afternoon lovely man and I went to my parents for late lunch/early dinner.  We had a great time being plied with homemade lasagne and knickerbocker glories and then played a couple of games before we came home.  If you're into playing games with the fam., then these two are brilliant fun!   Motor Mouth (which is like an electronic version of Give Us a Clue, and Say What  - remember the electronic 'Simon' game?  well this one is similar but you have to rearrange a mixed up phrase or lyric by moving coloured balls in to the correct order - check them out - I can thoroughly recommend them!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

No Turkey Required

Hello darlings

Christmas is such a ridiculously over-indulgent time isn't it?  We've managed to avoid food overload this year and were more than satisfied with one decent meal on Christmas Day at around 3pm and then a couple of sweet treats of a chocolate nature as we watched tv in the evening.   If we're at home, that's the norm for us though.  We may have something like a bacon sarnie if we get up early enough at the weekends, but tend to eat our main meal around 5.30 and that's enough for us.

My son and my other half are real carnivores and for them, a meal is not a meal unless at least a third of the plate is covered with meat!  I can honestly take it or leave it and my daughter would live off jacket potatoes if she could.  Indeed I was a vegetarian for a number of years in my youth and quite often still choose the veggie options if I'm eating out.

One of my very favourite veggie recipes at the moment, which is perfect for these cool winter evenings, is a vegetable tagine.  It's a hearty winter vegetable stew, flavoured with just the right amount of warming spice, yet not too hot so as to blow your head off. 

I found this recipe in one of my Slimming World cook books and they suggest to look out for a Moroccan spice mix called Ras -El- Hanout to replace the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and turmeric.  I'd never heard of it before but found a packet of the spice in the 'world foods' aisle and I have to say it's A.Mazing!  Such a fragrant mix of spices which actually includes ground rose petals.  I would certainly recommend that you give it a try if you don't have it in your spice rack.  It usually comprises Black Pepper, Coriander, Ginger, Paprika, Allspice, Cardamom, Mace, Nutmeg, Turmeric, Cayenne, Cloves and Rose Petals although I would hazard a guess that each proprietory brand has it's own special mixture and having done a bit of Google investigating, the mixture can comprise between ten and one hundred different spices!  Lliterally translated, Ras El Hanout means "top of the shop" and can also be used as a marinade when added to a couple of tablespoons of oil and rubbed into fish or meat.

Anyways - here's the tagine recipe - You can adapt the veggies to your own preference, but here's what I use:-

2 x large Carrots
1/2 a medium Butternut Squash
2 x Sweet Potatoes
2 x average sized normal Potatoes
Tin of chopped Tomatoes
1 large Onion
2 x garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon finely grated root ginger
1/2 teaspoon of artificial sweetener or sugar
1 teaspoons each of ground coriander, turmeric and dried chilli flakes
2 teaspoons each of ground cumin and ground cinnamon
Salt and Black Pepper
250ml vegetable stock

**if you do manage to find the ras el hanout, then use one and a half teaspoons of the spice, but you can then leave out the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and turmeric.

Chop the veggies into bite size pieces.  Literally stick everything into a large pan, bring to the boil, cover, and simmer until the veggies are tender - or to your taste, the butternut squash may take a little longer but the stew will not suffer for extra cooking time. (Indeed it's as is usual with spiced recipes - this improves over time and is even more wondrous next day!).   Season to your taste and serve with couscous or rice.  You could sprinkle over some fresh chopped coriander if you like.  I also like a big blob of natural yoghurt on the top of it too.  YUM!!

This is a wonderful meal on it's own but for the ardent carnivores amongst us it could also be used as a tasty side dish alongside your haunch of venison or suckling pig!!


N.B.  I've been advised that the commenting malarkey is a bit hit and miss right now - and here I was thinking you'd all deserted me!!    I'm not sure why this should be - I've tweaked the settings and hopefully this has rectified the problem but if not - then I'm not sure what else to do. Answers on ... erm... well - it'll have to be a postcard I guess!!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

It's ....Tuesday!

Imaginative blog title eh?!  Yup - I thought so!

I do hope all of my lovely readers, followers, lurkers and blogging buddies have had the most peaceful, restful and cosy of festive periods.

I relish the period of calm between Christmas and New Year. I know that some people find it flat and uneventful but I'm happy with that.   I'm lucky to say that I don't have to go back to work for another whole, blessed, scrumptious week.  Whilst I have much decluttering planned (for our bedroom in particular) for the latter part of the week, I'm using the next couple of days to simply hibernate. It's a time to recharge and regroup.  Both my body and my spirit crave some homely, snuggly down time and I'm going to enjoy it without one ounce of guilt.  So there!  I'm going to camp on the sofa tomorrow and read Jamie, Sophie, the Hairy Bikers and Nigel from cover to cover!

I was thoroughly spoilt at Christmas and the man has been banned from buying me ANYTHING for the next twelve months at least!  

My favourite gifts, however, were these:-

This charm bracelet holds lots of gorgeous little Wiccan charms.  It jangles delightfully so any operations of a stealthy nature are well and truly thwarted whilst wearing it!

I was absolutely delighted to receive this little lady  - particularly as she was the very witchy doll I had missed out on in THIS post!  Him indoors is a sneaky devil!!!

Harvey's present was to run riot through the discarded paper!

The Kissing Ball referred to in a previous post
 We had a foray into town this afternoon as I had to go to the opticians to order new specs.  We didn't really need anything else (apart from something technical to do with the kids' new televisions - which I helpfully left to him indoors!) and so our purchases today amounted to:-

Some marg reduced to 49p for 500g in the Co-op - perfect for our baking.

and some fresh cranberries - two packs for a quid - not quite sure what we'll do with those but we'll freeze them down initially and look for nice recipes in which to use them.  Any ideas peeps?

Last of the big spenders we are!! 

Did you find anything of worth in the sales?

See you soon!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Solstice Blues and Winter Greens

Hello Bloglies

It's Christmas Eve Eve!!  

Unfortunately I've spent the last couple of days in the worst pain I've ever experienced having had both an infection in my mouth and an abscess.  It felt like someone was stabbing a red hot skewer down my ear.  Although it's still throbbing then it's nowhere near as violent a pain as it was so the anti-biotics must be starting to kick in.  What a way to spend Winter Solstice - I was hardly in celebrating mood I can tell you.

However, in an attempt to take my mind off the pain, the Hooligan and I went for a yomp over the fields in THE most glorious sunshine and beneath crystal clear blue skies.  It was a truly beautiful day.   My posh new (early and very unexpected Christmas present) walking boots have been well and truly christened as the tracks are currently extremely muddy and in some places it was like walking through a particularly glutinous porridge!  Yuk!  My boots did me proud though and my feet remained dry and toasty.  I now have absolutely no excuse not to get out there in any weather! 

Whilst out there I gathered some greenery from the hedgerows in my foraging bag.  I already had a feed sack half full with holly which Charl had appropriated for me earlier this week and so, when I got back from my yomp, I was ready to create my kissing ball to hang outside the front door. 

I haven't attempted one of these previously, and as I'm not the most talented of people where anything remotely creative is concerned, I hadn't a clue where to begin!   I scoured the t'interweb for ideas and after watching a couple of You Tube tutorials I gave it a go.

Whilst the florists amongst you will probably be shuddering in horror, I'm actually quite pleased with my efforts.  A few hydrangea heads from the front garden were added as last minute fillers and a spritz of silver paint has given it a 'frosty' look.  It took sooooo much stuff to fill the ball of oasis though and it's surprisingly heavy.  In the gloom of the late afternoon, I had to nip out into the garden and the field again to pick more ivy sprigs, and leylandii fronds.

I've been trying to take a decent pic all day - but by contrast today's weather has been howling winds and lashing rain and the kissing ball is looking rather like it's been snogged to death.   "Rustic" I think we'll call it.  Yes.  Truly "Rustic".

Enjoy your evenings!!!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Frugal (ish) Pigs in Blankets

My lot absolutely love pigs in blankets (for the uninitiated - cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon) - a traditional accompaniment to Christmas dinner.

For some reason, they always seem to be ridiculously expensive.  The cheapest tray I found on Saturday was in Aldi in the chiller section - at £1.99 for what was, in effect, 12 diddly sausages with a scant bit of bacon clinging on for dear life but guaranteed to shrink away to lardon size once cooked.  Well to be honest - I wasn't feeling the love!   A little further up the chiller were a couple of packs of sausages which had been reduced to around 40p for 12 and a pack of streaky bacon for £1.29.

Bit of a no brainer really.

Here they are, prepared, wrapped, adorned lovingly with sage leaves and frozen down ready for C-word lunch (and probably C-word supper too as there will be plenty of leftovers,) and far more economical than the ready prepared ones. 

Monday, 19 December 2011

"Oh I Wish I'd Looked After Me Teeth"

Many moons ago Pam Ayres was a real favourite of mine and her ode to not-so-pearly-whites has always stuck in my head.

Well - I have looked after them.... I guess to get to aged 44 with only one filling is a plus these days... but in the last 3 or 4 years they've really started to deteriorate. And I'm absolutely terrified of dentists. Unfortunately I've had 2 teeth break off in the last couple of months and I've had to do something about it. Friday saw me shaking like a shaking thing in the dentist's chair, where I had:-

A scale and polish
6 injections
4 fillings
2 extractions.

My mouth is soooo sore and I'm feeling very un-festive right now. But at least it's done now and I can say that I put my brave girl pants on and went through with it.

Still ruddy hurt tho. And I still cried my eyes out like a big baby when I saw my Mum who'd come to pick me up from my ordeal.

And I still hate dentists.

So there.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Oh Christmas Tree!! (photo heavy!)

Shall we take a look at the Christmas tree then?

Looks fairly innocuous doesn't it?

Shall we take a closer look to see what's nestling in it's black tinsely branches?  Oh go on then!!


Jack Skellington!  Sally's in there too somewhere!

Well - you know how rock'n'roll we are right?!

SID!!  You're such a diva!!

Aww hello Witchy lady - don't be sad - it's nearly Christmas!!

Yummy red and black beaded hearts, silver sprayed cones and sparkly snowflakes

My favourite little acorn - this was from Liberty's don't cha know!

As was this black heart.  Probably the only things in the whole shop I could afford but hey - I think I made a good choice!

And beneath the tree live the snowman family.....aww they's very cute!  Assorted woolly cuddlies.  I have a bit of a thing about snowmen! 

And my adorable ickle penguin which hopped in to my basket when I wasn't looking whilst I was doing very important business shopping at the floristry warehouse.  Tsk. 

How cute?!

I love green cloaked Santas.  And the little tin one was a prezzie from a dear friend some years ago. 

Do you change your Yuletide colour theme year upon year?  Or do you tend to stick with the same colours and treasured ornaments? 

Enquiring minds wanna know!!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Bad BAD Blogger

Oh my poor little neglected blog, sitting on the shelf getting all careworn and dusty.  How I've missed you whilst I've been up to me ear'oles in Ferrero bliddy Rochers and Lindor choccies!    Never mind - I have returned - armed with a feather duster (a special sparkly one in keeping with the season) to dust off your corners and a tray of mince pies by way of a peace offering.

Whilst it is of course a good thing that my little business has had some interest on the lead up to Christmas, it's verrrry hard to fit much else in to my evenings when I work full time as this is the only time I can create the bouquets - which take up to around 3 hours each.  The kitchen table has been bowed down with my card making crafty stuff for the last three weeks yet I haven't had a chance to make a single one!  

Ah well - needs must when the devil holds yer purse strings eh folks?

We're off out for a family meal shortly at a local hostelry but I shall be back tomorrow with a few festive fripperies to share with you.

Have a wonderful X-Factor free Saturday evening!! ;)

Working from home

I've taken a precious day of annual leave today.  I've really struggled this week with feeling so yuk and I needed the restorative ...