Monday, 28 February 2011

Magpie Monday - Getting a Head Start

Me and My Shadow

Part of my plan for my daughter's 20th birthday dinner party involves buying 2nd hand tableware from our local charity shops. It occurred to me that doing this all in one go was going to be difficult, if only for the sheer weight of the items I intend to purchase. For this reason, I decided to try and make life a little easier for myself and get a head start.



I had a lovely afternoon foraging through the china and brought several pieces. I never quite settled on a colour scheme so after consultation with the birthday girl we have decided on a 'rainbow' theme. This is very in keeping with her personality and does mean I can get away with just about any mix and match combination.

So far I have been particularly pleased with this heavy glass bowl.


I think it must have been used for floating candles because there was a dullness to the interior with limescale deposits from the water but it cleaned up a treat. I can imagine filling it with Ivy's favourite sweets for her birthday (did I mention that she is a big kid at heart!) At £1.50 it was cheaper than a plastic one.

My next bargain shouldn't be included in a Magpie Monday post because I bought them new from Wilkinsons. However, at 25p for two glass champagne flutes I can't resist giving them a mention. They were Valentines Day merchandise reduced to clear from £3.50 to £1.75 to £1 to 50p and finally to 25p. It was definitely a case of being in the right place at the right time. I bought three sets of two at 25p each. A total  of six champagne flutes for 75p! Certainly enough for a rainbow toast to Ivy.


My mum has told me that her local charity shop sells china for 20p an item so provided everyone is fit and well (I have one daughter off school today with a cold and a snotty, grumpy baby boy) I am planning on a visit. Lunch with my mum and a leisurely explore of the Charity shops of Wrexham sounds like a lovely way to spend a day.

Holiday Parks 4U

Several years ago, we made a plan to visit the Eden Project in Cornwall. It was a long way to travel so we needed to think about accommodation. We were on a fairly tight budget. After exploring our options, we decided to make a whole week of it and booked ourselves in at John Fowlers Holiday Park at Widemouth Bay. We got a really good deal and it meant we had plenty of time to enjoy other attractions of the area. One of our favourite days out was to a lovely Monkey Sanctuary in Looe.

We also embraced the whole Holiday Park culture with the kids taking part in (and winning) the Foxy Club talent contest and dancing competition....and then there was the Foxy Bingo!

I am not a lover of Bingo. I find the whole jumping up and shouting 'HOUSE' thing a bit intimidating. But we were on holiday. We were embracing the holiday park culture. We played bingo.

I was amazed by the amount of bingo cards some people bought to play at the same time. I would struggle to keep track of more than one. You could tell the seasoned bingoers because they had the special bingo pens that stamp the called number with one smooth fluid action. We were huddled round our shared game cards with feverish concentration and one scratchy biro between us. Our technique worked. We won loads of times throughout the course of the week and came away from that holiday with a car laden with plush Foxy toys.

The Eden Project was an amazing place to visit, the Monkey Sanctuary was delightful and the Cornish beaches were breathtakingly beautiful. On top of that there was the clotted cream, the fudge and the vegetarian Cornish Pasties. It was an unforgettable holiday with the whole experience of caravan living and the Foxy Club fun contributing to the special memories.

I would definitely consider staying in a Holiday Park again and a perfect place to find exactly what you are looking for is the Holiday Parks 4U website. There are reviews of a variety of different holiday parks (including John Fowlers) in the UK and abroad. As well as the site reviews, there are some painfully honest (and not always complimentary!) reviews from real customers that make interesting reading. I would always rather have exposure to negative opinions as well as the glossy brochure versions. It enables you to keep realistic expectations and avoids disappointment.

If you are considering a Holiday Park for a family break or like I did as a cost effective solution to the need for accommodation when visiting distant attractions, http://www.holidayparks4u.co.uk/  is a great place to start.


[This post is submitted as an entry to the Holiday Parks 4U CyberMummy Ticket Competition]

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Anniversary Party

My weekend was not without stress. A missing wallet, a missing husband (?!) and a potty accident all contributed to us being an hour late starting our anniversary party. I was beginning to regret my decision to make it an alcohol free celebration. I really could have done with a stiff drink!

My mum had brought along her trademark veggie sausage/cheese rolls and fairy cakes and my sister had made calorie dripping banoffee pies. Along with all the food I'd been busy preparing, we had quite an impressive buffet.  It was lovely to see everyone tucking in.

I'm not sure what was different about our karaoke system set up this time compared with other occasions but it was quite difficult to hear the backing track when you were up on stage. This resulted in the most tuneless performances ever. Nobody minded. There was lots of dancing and fun and I for one thoroughly enjoyed myself.

My little girl had a blast; running around with helium balloons, dancing, singing and eating cake.  As we left at the end of the evening, she turned around to look back at the hall, waved and said "Bye, bye dance"

I had enough left overs to keep everyone happy snacking today and enough helium for another party. I'm not sure I'm ready for another one just yet, but soon...

Silent Sunday - When the Party's Over



Silent Sunday

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Anniversary Cake

It was all going so well. The madeira cake looked and smelled like madeira cake should look and smell. I actually managed to slice it horizontally without wobbling so I had two roughly similar sized pieces between which I could spread the jam and buttercream. The ivory fondant icing rolled out beautifully and covered the cake creating a blank canvas on which I could work.

The plan was to do a design that represented the ballroom dancing that my husband and I love and around which my wedding anniversary party was based. It seemed like a fairly foolproof idea to do a step pattern using little cut out feet, arrows and numbers.

I bought ready to roll black icing to make the cut out footprints. I asked daughter Ivy to draw a footprint on a piece of card that I could  use a template. Dozens of footprints later, I had everything from hobnail boots to something resembling a fancy blown glass vase. I actually used the very first footprint she drew but modified it to make it less symmetrical so there was a discernible difference between the left and right foot.

Using the template to cut out my feet was a mission. The black icing was much harder to work with than the ivory had been but  I managed a reasonably good looking pattern, although I doubt it bears any resemblance to any dance in the known universe.

The next stage was to add arrows, numbers and a little bit of musical notation just to make it absolutely clear  that this was about dance (and not just that someone with dirty feet had walked over a cake).

This is where the problems began.

I mixed up my black glace icing ready for piping. It was far from black. Purple, even dark purple, but not black. I kept adding the food colouring in the hope that It would miraculously achieve the desired hue, all the time wondering at what point this mixture would be considered too toxic for human consumption.

It was about now that it was pointed out to me that my black food colouring had actually passed its sell by date in May 2010. Maybe that was why it was struggling to be what it said on the bottle!

I desperately needed a plan B.

I wondered if the ready roll fondant icing could somehow be watered down to piping consistency. It was worth a try. Amazingly it worked really well but I had only managed to make a very small amount. It would have been completely lost in my icing bag.

The same person that had highlighted the dubious freshness of my food colouring suggested that I make an icing bag out of greaseproof paper. I vaguely remembered how to do that and after a bit of experimentation I was ready to go.

It was far from ideal but sometimes you have to make the best of what you've got.

The cake is not perfect but I am quite proud of my efforts and hope that if nothing else, it will be eaten and enjoyed!


Friday, 25 February 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy From the Heart


ONE
Daughter Ivy is home from Uni. I am really glad that she has settled into life away from home,  but I absolutely love it when she comes back.

TWO
I have been doing some cooking for my family party at the weekend to celebrate my first wedding anniversary. I have made sultana cake, rich chocolate cake, lemon drizzle cake, madeira cake and mini scones. Everything has turned out really well and is wrapped and in the freezer ready and waiting.

I can't wait for the party. I feel blessed to have such a lovely family and enjoy the occasions when we can all be together. I am hoping for a time of great food and great entertainment. I can guarantee a time of great company.

THREE
Daughter Liberty took this picture:


I absolutely love the Clan of the Cave Bear series of books and it made me very happy to see that a new instalment is due to be released next month. I have many happy hours of re-reading to look forward to in preparation.

It also made very happy that my daughter knew I would be excited by this and made the effort to take the photo to show me.




Thursday, 24 February 2011

Five Things I Want My Children to Know About Me

The Friday Club

1) I make mistakes. Lots of them. Being the grown up doesn't automatically make me right.

2) I always wanted children. Becoming a mum gave me a great feeling of completeness.

3) Just because I like a bargain and refuse to spend money I don't have doesn't mean I won't pay the extra for the designer glasses you want or the outfit that isn't in the sale. I am glad that you are respectful of my values but  I like to spoil you sometimes too.

4) I feel truly blessed to have six such wonderful children in my life and I am so proud of all your achievements. I might be the embarrassing mum that cries buckets when you sing on stage or lose your first baby tooth but it is only because I love you all so much.

5) I would die for you - but would prefer it if you didn't ask me to prove it!


Open Mic Night

Ivy is home from Uni and last night, she and sister Taylor took part in an Open Mic Night at a local pub.

They have participated before and Taylor, having stood in for the regular drummer one time, is something of a minor celebrity.

Usually when they are doing their thing, I am at home looking after the babies and have to wait for a report as to how they got on. I can usually tell by the sparkle in their eyes and the volume of their voices  how well things went.

Last night, my eldest daughter and her boyfriend came round to babysit so I could witness it all first hand. They joked how as CRB checked, first aid trained professionals with lots of experience working with children, they were highly qualified babysitters. However highly qualified they might be, the rate of pay on offer remains as one Chinese takeaway. They seemed happy enough with that.


I don't remember the last time I spent an evening in a pub. I've done the "quick drink before moving on to something else" thing but a whole evening in one pub felt quite alien. We found a table far enough away from the speakers so we wouldn't be completely deafened and got the drinks in. As the pub got busier it did get very hot and airless but at least with the smoking ban in force, what little air there was remained breathable.



I love listening to live music. It doesn't really matter how many bad notes there are, or if the tone of someone's voice is a little harsh or if the harmonies aren't exactly spot on. I love the feeling of being immersed in sound, feeling the vibrations of it through the floor and your beer glass. Best of all I love when the sound resonates internally - the feel of the music beating inside your body. The volume wasn't pumped up loud enough to achieve that (the elderly residents of the sheltered housing across the road may have had something to complain about if it had) but it still created an experience beyond listening to a recorded tune on the CD player.

When it was my girls' turn to play, I was once again amazed that I had produced these confident and fearless young ladies. They played an eclectic mix of songs from Disney's "I Just Can't Wait to be King" to Florence and the Machine's "A Kiss with a Fist". I loved every second.



If I'm honest, their performance was far from flawless. Ivy has a habit of apologising if she makes a mistake on the guitar. If she carried on, no one would even notice but saying "Sorry about that" mid song makes it obvious even to the musically undiscerning. Taylor has an amazing smile and when she uses it during a performance she can connect effortlessly with her with audience. However, she mostly pulls her 'concentrating face' or looks glum.

Criticisms aside, my girls rocked out, filling me with pride and entertaining a pub full of patrons. 

I had a fantastic evening and my highly qualified baby sitters did a great job of taking care of my little ones in my absence. 

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

"Fame - the reprise" and a cake plan

This Saturday, I am having a party to celebrate my 1st Wedding Anniversary.

It is only a family party, but with our family that does mean something like thirty people without trying too hard. Now, I could just about squeeze everybody into my house - I've done it before - but I really wanted room to dance, so we have hired a hall.

The last time we hired this hall for a party, we had it all day and were able to set up the night before. This time, we only have four hours so in order to achieve the quick in and out, it won't be possible to take all the equipment that my girls need in order to perform live as 'the band'. Our answer is to use karaoke instead.

I have created a Karaoke song list with about three different contemporary songs for each of the dance styles that I want represented. We have Waltzes, Cha Cha Cha and Rumba tracks, Rock 'n Roll, Quicksteps and Rhythm Foxtrots. All I need now is for my ever willing family to sign up to sing something off the playlist. My brother in law and my daughter's boyfriend were quick to jump in for some Rock 'n' Roll  and my parents have delighted me by volunteering to perform a favourite song of theirs 'Sway' as well as the song they performed at my wedding 'Love and Marriage'. My dad will probably have everyone in tears if he is brave enough to do a solo rendition of Edelweiss as he has indicated he might.

Love and Marriage performed at my Wedding last year
I have a niece who is something of a musical theatre diva so I hope she will be willing to entertain us all with one of her show stopping performances. Then there is the moment we will have all been waiting for.

My lovely sister threw all caution to the wind last year to sing Fame at my wedding. It is incredibly hard to sing but she battled on through the high notes and gave a performance I will NEVER forget. One of the reasons I'll never forget it (try as hard as I might!) is because the whole thing was caught on video. It was our intention to imitate the Flash Mob phenomena by casually congregating, pulling off a perfectly synchronised dance routine, then casually dispersing. It didn't quite work that way but it was a lot of fun. This Saturday, we are gearing up for "Fame - the reprise". I hope someone has the video rolling again.

As well as planning the music, I am also busy planning and preparing the food. I love the challenge of catering for large numbers. I am not being terribly experimental this time, choosing tried and tested favourites and keeping everything as simple as possible. This leaves me with time and energy to make a Celebration Cake.

My wedding cake was a beautiful three tiered black and ivory masterpiece that tasted as gorgeous as it looked. Needless to say, it wasn't me that made it!


I have already made a madeira cake and now I need to think about how to decorate it to make it the centrepiece of my buffet offerings. My husband has given me a couple of pretty good suggestions but  I'm not sure I have the skill to pull it off. Disaster or triumph - it will still be something to blog about!

The Gallery - Week 47 - Expressions

If there is one thing my camera is good at, it's catching expressions. I have a whole spectrum of them: serene, bemused, disdainful, joyous, disgusted.....  Many of these have not exactly delighted the subject of the photograph and I have been threatened with acts of unthinkable horror as punishment for letting any of them see the light of day. So how to choose one for this week's gallery?

When I was reviewing the My Carry Potty, I took a series of photographs that I ended up not using. As the whole potty training thing is still a big preoccupation, it is from this collection that I have selected my contribution.




Tuesday, 22 February 2011

21st Century Films - Movie Meme #1

Metal Mummy has created a Movie Buff's Movie Meme.

I am a bit out of my depth here because I rarely go to the cinema, and I rarely watch films these days. It is far too nice to start watching them and then just let my eyes close and drift off. My husband is even worse than me. The amount of films we haven't watched together is just silly.

My lack of expertise in the field aside, I still enjoy participating and I do think that this is a really good idea for a meme. I am hoping to get enough inspiration from reading other people's contributions to keep me awake next time I sit down for a movie night.

After careful thought and much brain wracking, I have come up with my contribution to this week's prompt.

The film that characterises the 21st Century for me is the genre defining, touchingly tender, relentlessly funny, Rom-Zom-Com gore fest that is Shaun of the Dead (2004). Discerning audiences demand characters of substance, believable relationships, honest dialogue and intelligence. Shaun of the Dead has all four AND zombies. Can't be faulted.


Quote: (spoken by Shaun's mum in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse):
"It's been a funny sort of day, hasn't it?"

Nuby Giveaway Winner - drumroll please....

Thank you to everyone who entered my Nuby Giveaway to win a Twisty Bugz Teether, Feeding Bowl and Spoons.

 There can only be one winner and.....

video

... Lorna.peppiatt @ellielucky


Nuby UK are currently running a promotion on their facebook page to win £100s worth of Nuby products.

Simply 'Like' Nuby UK's facebook page for a chance to win.



5 Things that Make me Feel Good

I have been tagged by Mummy Beadzoid to take part in this blog hop. You are supposed to reveal 5 secret passions that make you feel good. I'm not sure how secret my passions are but they certainly all make me feel good.

1) Wearing Nail Varnish. I have a rainbow of different colour nail varnishes. I can get quite passionate about a particular shade. These days, I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to my nails. Even if I do go so far as to make the time to apply varnish, it gets chipped so easily during the course of a normal day's housework that it makes me wonder why I bothered. This week I am booking myself in for a manicure at our local beauty salon as a half term treat and somebody else can do the washing up.

I Love Angel Nails by Max Factor 
2) Running on the Treadmill. I never, ever thought I'd include that in a list of things that makes me feel good but it is actually true. Running on the treadmill makes me feel good.  Since joining the gym with my daughter a few months ago, my fitness and stamina have improved dramatically. Don't get me wrong, I am no fitness fanatic. I only do about 10 minutes of running but that is enough to get my heart beating and so the sheen of sweat begins to pool in the small of my back, which I find strangely pleasant.

3) Having a Relaxing (undisturbed) Bath. Lots of steam, lots of indulgent bath products, Norah Jones CD, no restriction on time, confident that someone else is keeping an ear out for the babies so I don't have to. Lovely.

4) Flowers. Being presented with a big bouquet of flowers always makes me feel good but I also love growing flowers in my garden. Evolution has worked so hard to make flowers beautiful, the least I can do is allow them to work their feel good magic on me.

Vibrantly coloured fuchsias take centre stage in my garden

5) My Iron Fist Zombie Stompers. Definitely a case of love at first sight with these shoes. I walked down the aisle in them on my wedding and sank into the soft grass in them for the wedding photos.  I love everything about them - the insane colours and zombie inspired pattern, the elegant black bow, the sexy, impractical heel. I especially love the fact that with my first husband who was the same height as me, I always felt self conscious wearing heels that made me taller than him. My new husband is 6' 5''. This gives me plenty of scope to wear whatever silly heels I desire. I still mostly wear my DMs for comfort and practicality but just sometimes, that which does not necessarily make my feet feel particularly good makes the rest of me feel amazing.


Your turn now...


Monday, 21 February 2011

Magpie Monday - A Plan for Ivy's Birthday

I bought two really nice men's casual shirts from the charity shop this week for £1 each but that is not the subject for my Magpie Monday post. Instead, I am writing about a plan I have.

I have always admired my daughter Ivy's quirky sense of style. That's her posing in the middle of this family photo taken on Brighton beach in 2008.


Ivy is going to be 20 years old next month. She is not a one for big parties. No doubt she will celebrate in ways that I will turn a maternal blind eye to with her friends at University, but when she's home, her birthday will be marked with a family dinner with all her favourite food.

To make this party a bit more personal and a fun, I have a plan.

I saw an old friend a while back and she explained that her teenage daughter was at a party. The format of the party was that a bunch of girls were let loose in Primark with a £10 budget. Their mission was to put together a complete outfit that would later be modelled with fashion show flourish and the clothes themselves could be taken home as an elaborate 'party bag'.

I have decided to modify this idea for Ivy. I will let her loose in the local charity shops with a budget (yet to be decided!) Her mission is to stamp her style on ALL the dinner guests with an outfit or accessory chosen by her.  I expect she will enlist her sisters to help. I might extend the theme by having all the table ware as charity shop finds too. This means that I get to go with her on the forage and won't miss out. It could be a lot of fun and will certainly provide interesting photo opportunities as well as supporting the good work that the charity jobs do.

As a bonus, it will certainly provide me with good material for a future Magpie Monday!

"I did exactly what it said in the recipe..."

My mum said that she couldn't imagine it happening. But it happened. My husband made me a cake for our anniversary.

Not just any cake.

A heart shaped chocolate cake with chocolate fudge icing studded with bite sized pieces of vanilla fudge, presented on a silver heart shaped board and in a white cardboard cake box tied with silver ribbon.

OK, so he hadn't left it in the oven for long enough so the liquid middle sank in leaving a surprisingly pretty heart shaped hollow, which he tried to disguise - hence the bite sized fudge studding - but I enjoyed every gooey, globby crumb and drip.

"I did exactly what it said in the recipe..."

As well as my beautiful undercooked cake, he gave me ivory roses like the ones that had made up my wedding bouquet and diamond earrings. I could not have felt more spoilt.


I was delighted by all the lovely wishes from blogger friends, reduced to tears by the song my daughter Ivy wrote for us and slightly concerned that the world would not be ready for what my sister had unleashed on it.

My girls have a regular babysitting booking every Sunday night while my husband and I have our ballroom dancing lesson. This time, they extended their duty to enable us to have a post lesson takeaway curry and champagne without the worry of the baby trying to pinch the naan bread.We toasted our first year of married life together to round off a lovely day.


Joan

On this day in 1910, a baby girl was born who would grow up to have a baby girl of her own. There is a huge amount of material to write about in that alone - how she left her home in Gloucester at sixteen to work in the tea rooms of Bristol railway station, how she met a shy and handsome railway guard and fell in love, how her premature baby (described as looking like a skinned rabbit) had to fight for its tiny life.

That skinned rabbit grew up to be my mum.

The wonderful lady, known to everybody as Joan, was my nan.

Nan died in 2008 at the age of 98. She was a tiny little woman but she left a very big hole in our family. I miss the endless stories that she would tell about her life - stories that would loop  around and start again. I miss her big heart and the huge amount of love she had for each and every one of her great grandchildren.

Just before she died, I took my newborn baby daughter to meet her.  It was hard to see the once vibrant lady reduced to a little more than a bag of bones but her eyes sparkled when she gazed at the latest addition to the family. Although the contrast between one so close to death and one so new to life is very stark, I love the photographs that were taken of them together and I share them here in honour of her birthday.







My nan's last words before she let go of life, spoken to her son, were "Put me on the stairlift, John". We like to think that she had seen her Stairway to Heaven, her handsome husband (who had died some 30 years before) would have been waiting for her at the top and she wanted the quickest way up.



Happy Birthday, Nan.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Paper

My daughter Ivy surprised me and reduced me to floods of tears by writing a song for my wedding anniversary and posting a badly out of synch video on youtube of her performing it. I had to ask her to provide me with the words because she sings like she talks - incomprehensibly! Reading the words made me laugh at her gentle humour and had me on the verge of tears again in the way she managed to summarise my life in a few verses and a chorus.


Paper

My favourite love story’s true,
And began somewhen ‘round 1982,
Well, that’s just a guess,
Makes it rhyme, more or less.

What I think makes it great,
That despite it happened real late,
This love’s stood the test of time,
Even taking 20 years ain’t a crime.

I should take the time to explain,
That sailing wasn’t always so plain,
He was in love but she married another,
To four daughters she became a mother.

They went their separate ways,
Finding a way to spend their days,
Life ticking by ‘til 2005,
When things really came alive.

Reunited, with the flame burning at last,
And things began to happen real fast,
Whirlwind trips, late night chats on MSN,
Dreaming of the time when…

They could live together,
They could make a life together,
They could walk the broken road together,
And finally be together.

In a new house, a new home,
Happiness, wide spread and well known,
The only obstacle that was left,
Officialising the rid of that cleft.

Then in that merry old 2008,
Came a baby girl, 14 days late,
A pregnancy habit set in daily,
Doing the crossword in the Maily.

2010 saw two happy events take place,
A February wedding with snow, how ace?!
A summer baby boy – the first of his kind,
With five older sisters? Pray for his mind!

Now one year on from February 20th,
It’s time to celebrate with,
Cake and dancing, watching out Hinstock Hall,
The clan’s here to party for Paula and Paul.

He’ll get the paper for her crossword,
She’ll love him no matter how absurd,
He’ll get the paper, she’ll always love,
He’ll get the paper, she’ll always love.

My favourite love story’s true,
It began somewhen in 1982,
2011 now, their first anniversary,
This love story’s ‘bout Mummy and Daddy

: )

Remembering a wedding day

A year ago today I married husband number two. I was five months pregnant but a carefully chosen dress and a large bouquet disguised that fact until I the moment I announced it during the after dinner speeches.

My bouquet of ivory roses

We had our marriage ceremony and our reception in a rural pub. Their license to perform weddings was due to expire imminently and they had no intention of renewing, so ours was the last wedding ceremony to be held there.

Arriving at the venue

We had had a few technical difficulties surrounding the legal part of the marriage owing to the fact that my husband's divorce was issued  in Switzerland, written in French and operating under a slightly different system to the English one. It was touch and go as to whether we would get it all sorted out before the day we had chosen and booked for the wedding so it was a great relief to actually pull it all off.

The Wedding Vows

I had another worrying issue in the fact that I left buying my wedding dress until the last minute on account of my rapidly expanding waistline. I took a chance on ordering a made to measure dress from a Bridal company in China. The website showed glowing testimonials and beautiful designs at a fraction of the price you would expect to pay here. As the day loomed closer and there was still no sign of my dress, despite it being well beyond their promised lead time, I started to panic a bit. We tried to contact the Company but without success. Eventually, I had to write it off to experience and did what I should have done in the first place. I was lucky enough to find a dress that made me feel like a princess, within budget, from a proper local shop.  (My dress from China did eventually turn up about two months after I had said "I Will" and was not a patch on the dress I wore in terms of quality and finish.)

Despite the difficulties in the run up to the wedding, we had an amazing day with family and friends, full of tears and laughter. I wear my wedding ring with pride, happy to have put the bad bits of an old life behind me and starting over as Mrs Virgo.

Liberty's fireman boyfriend was in charge of the confetti cannons

My daughters and niece provided the entertainment for the reception, including the music for the First Dance. They were amazing.

Our wonderful "in house" band

During the night, it snowed. We woke to a magical white world. Many of our guests came back to our house in the morning for a breakfast and croissants and coffee which culminated in a crazy snowball fight.

A white wonderland
I used a quote by Oscar Wilde in my wedding speech (I know it isn't entirely traditional for the bride to make a speech but I did have an important announcement to make!).



I am so glad that in my life I have allowed hope to triumph.

Fill in the Blanks

I have been challenged from Inside the Wendy House to 'fill in the blanks'.

I am... thinking I should probably wait until I'm not feeling so tired and grumpy before filling in my blanks!

The bravest thing I've ever done... is rock climbing in the Clifton Gorge, Bristol. Hated every torturtous second of it but got to the top.

I feel prettiest... when I see myself in my beautiful children.

Something that keeps me awake at night... apart from the obvious of the babies demanding milk/potty/cuddles is when I fall out with my husband over something silly. It doesn't happen often but when it does the disharmony hits me hard in the ability to sleep department.

My favourite meal is... Christmas dinner. We are a family of vegetarians so not turkey. It is usually a pie that I have spent weeks planning with lots of accompanying vegetables prepared with a little more care and served with a little more attention to detail. We hardly ever make it as far as the Christmas pudding because we are all so full up.

The way to my heart is... incision through chest, crack open rib cage.

I would like to be... more effective and better organised so I have more time for the things I want to do without neglecting the things I really should do.

I tag Liberty Falls Down, Ivy in the Corner, Taylor the "not a boy" and Not Met Meg (because nepotism is my favourite 'ism') and one of my favourite mummy bloggers and fellow veggie We Don't Eat Anything With a Face to Fill in the Blanks:

I am...
The bravest thing I've ever done...
I feel prettiest...
Something that keeps me awake at night...
My favourite meal is...
The way to my heart is...
I would like to be...

What will your answers reveal about you?

Silent Sunday - Wedding Anniversary

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Dear So and So... Online Shopping

Dear So and So...

Dear Tesco

Thanks for the tempting offer on kids clothes ordered online this week. My little boy always needs new things - he's growing so fast.

Yours with a little bit of excited anticipation and a twitching credit card,
New Customer

* * *

Dear Tesco Website

You are actually not that easy to navigate. If there wasn't a bargain to be had I would have left by now.

Getting slightly frustrated and annoyed now,
Jaded Customer

* * *


Dear Power Cut

Did you have to strike in the middle of my online shopping with Tesco. It was a bit like when the fire alarm went off in Asda and everyone had to evacuate the store. At least this time I could make myself a coffee while I waited...  until I remembered no electricity= no kettle. Curses.

Desperately in need of caffeine,
Powerless

* * *

Dear Shopping Basket

I am impressed that you still had my selections in you once power was re-established, given the abrupt interruption to our session together.

Relieved to not have to start this whole process from scratch,
Returning Customer

* * *

Dear Kids Clothes

Do you have to be so cute?

Questioning the necessity to order six pairs of trousers, even if they are all so cute,
Voice of Reason

* * *

Dear Credit Card

Don't worry, there's an extra £10 discount to come off that total yet.

With reality of having to part with actual money sinking in,
Checking out Customer

* * *

Dear Courier Service

Please hurry - I want my shopping NOW.

Impatiently,
Mum of rapidly growing boy

My first, my latest and my favourite

This post, written for We Don't Eat Anything with a Face's bloghop, probably says rather too much about what I like to cook and what I like to eat.

My first cookery book was Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course.

Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course
You will see by the lack of a cover and the general state of it that it has been well used over the years. It is one of the few cookery books that I have kept which isn't vegetarian. It falls open at the page for Fruit Crumble and the food stains on that particular page hold the history of many a delicious, warming pudding.

Fruit Crumble
My latest cookery book is the deliciously illustrated Muffins Galore by Catherine Atkinson.


I have yet to cook anything from the pages of this gorgeous book but I have leafed through it quite extensively, with much salivation. Just looking is a Calorie free indulgence.


My favourite cookbook, and probably the reason why I have yet to try anything from my latest acquisition, is Muffin Magic by Susannah Blake.


For me, this book demystified the art of muffin making and as you can probably see by the pink post-it strips marking the pages, is responsible for several new family favourites. I love that  the book supports the Battery Hen Welfare Trust. Having kept chickens for a while, I really appreciate what lovely creatures they are and I find it heartbreaking the way they are treated for the benefit of the human demand for cheap eggs and meat.

The espresso muffin recipe is a firm favourite with my caffeine addicted student daughter. She is coming home for a visit soon so there will definitely be a batch of these in the oven to mark the occasion.


So that's it - my first, my latest and my favourite cookery books. I leave you with a picture of the results of a mammoth baking session that qualifies why Muffin Magic earns the accolade of 'favourite' amongst a shelf bowing under the weight of contenders.




Friday, 18 February 2011

Living with a feisty, independent, nearly 3 year old...

I don't know what possessed me to think that letting her spread her own butter was a good idea. [Note to self - MUCH closer supervision required next time!]


At least the Utterly Butterly was 'better than half price' in Morrisons

Certainly a thorough job...

... and she was rather proud of her work.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful

I have been feeling unaccountably melancholy this week. It might be my hormones or the fact that I'm still disappointed to have not received flowers on Valentines day (that makes me very shallow considering everything my husband does for me). I am all too aware how melancholy can spiral into Depression so I am very grateful for this excuse to remind myself of the many reasons to be cheerful and choose my three most cheering ones.

ONE
I may not have received flowers for Valentines day but the appearance of these snowdrops in my garden was a very cheery sight. Spring will surely follow.


TWO
My little girl is getting quite the expert with her potty in the wee department. We even risked going out to lunch wearing panties and had no embarrassing situations. We took her My Carry Potty with us just in case! Now if she'd only get over her reluctance to poo it would all be good.


THREE
My parents came to visit today. My two little ones adore their nana and grandad and are building such a wonderful relationship with them. We had a little practise session on the karaoke because my mum and dad will be performing three songs at my anniversary party in a little over a week. It was simply lovely to hear them singing some favourite songs together and I can't wait for their actual performance now. It will be a real treat. My mum is such a good sport these days that she posed for a 'snout pout' photograph for a competition that my sister encouraged her to  enter. Looking at the 'snout pout' photograph certainly encourages my melancholy to take a back seat to cheeriness!





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