Monday, 22 February 2010

Labour saving tea?

Back to work today was a bit of a shock to the system!
I thought I would be organised and make a lamb tagine when I got in from work using the lamb I remembered to take out of the freezer and a jar of sauce: result.
An hour in the oven:
and there looks like there is plenty for tea tomorrow too - yippee!

Problem is - I think it will take me all week to clean the pot!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

project 365 week 7

A great mix of rest and play this week as it has been half term.
Let's see, what have I been up to?
So nice to kick back and take it easy!
February half term!
Monday - day 46/365
Lazy morning, meeting my sister for lunch and then finally got to finish the ironing!

Tuesday - 47/365
Pancakes for Lent. Thought about what to give up - more of a re-aligning, focusing. I am going to give up channel hopping. I gave up TV the other year. It nearly killed me - although the fruits of this sacrifice were amazing. Am hoping to still achieve great things to satisfy and fulfil in the gaps left without channel hopping time these next 40 days.

Wednesday - 48/365
A really lazy day!
You wouldn't believe that this cute kitten, Tudur, woke me up at 3 am with a thud on the door and lay on top of me purring, would you? When I ignored him, he biffed me on the head repeatedly. The discussions about this went on til 4.30 am. He won. I got up and he ran downstairs and hid. When I found him, I shut him in the kitchen and slept peacefully. We became friends again, later and we have had a lovely chilled day. Tonight, he will sleep in the kitchen. He has cooked his goose with freedom of the house at night. I guess I win.

Thursday - 49/365
A day of discovery. My sister and I met with a lady who told me a little more of my history. Amazing what has been hidden, secret all these years. A great day of surprises! More to be revealed!

Friday - 50/365
I love the way this little elephant is making a run for it in the snowy rain at the zoo, when I visited today!

Saturday - 51/365
Scrapbooking Day with friends from church. I got a chance to use my new photo cutters that my niece sent me from Boston, for Christmas. Thank you Rachel - and thanks to Diana who helped me learn how to use them - and the all important see through guides... that I nearly threw away! Oops.

Sunday - 52/365
Snow joke! Woke up to snow - the slushy and crunchy kind, so it was definitely a day for wearing wellies to walk/skid to church! I love my wellies!

Back to work tomorrow!
How long 'til Easter?

Friday, 19 February 2010

Going to the Zoo!

I finally went to the Zoo today!!I have lived here for 5 years and this is my first time to visit here, can you believe? I think I had seen some zoos in the past that just seemed to be caged animals and a bit cruel, so it didn't seem to be anything I would want to do - and they are not a cheap day out, either, are they?
Those are my excuses.
My reasons for going are that I have learned that this zoo is one of, if not the best zoo and high on conservation of animals.
I also learned that I can become a member!
No, not a resident!
An annual membership fee and I can go as often as I wish.
I thought about it last year, but my friend Rachel said I needed to get better first as it is quite a trek round and therefore not a good mix with post viral fatigue!
Over the last few months I have been building up my walking and now I have a job too, funding my membership made this a viable option.
So, today was my first trip to this zoo.
I have been looking forward to it all week.
Well for months really, since Rachel first started telling me about it.
As the snow started falling in quite big flakes this morning, I wondered at the wisdom of going. It soon turned to rain.
Off I went.
I didn't need to follow the signs or the map though, as I was personally escorted around by my friend Rachel and baby Daniel. This family go very regularly, so I just chose the animals I wanted to see today and off we went as they knew the way.
The luxury of it all.
I was like a child in a sweet shop.
We saw monkeys, red pandas, okapis, butterflies, giraffe, elephant, tigers to name a few.
Oh and lunch and coffee and cake too! (No surprise there!)
The photos of the animals aren't the best as it has been snowing and raining today, here! In the UK that combination makes photos a bit grey and dull or too dark.
I loved the tigers but it was hard to get a good picture through the wires but as Rachel said, better the wires be there! That's for sure!

The elephants braved the outdoors whilst the giraffes made a run for it from the snow!The rhino were already safe inside.
Thank you Rachel, for a lovely day.
I will go again soon.
Who will come too?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Wednesday already?

When I was growing up, Wednesday was a big landmark day in our house. When I mustered enough coordination to stagger downstairs for school, still blearyeyed from sleep, my mum would say: "Cheer up, it's Wednesday."
Wednesday, signified that there was then only Thursday and Friday to go before the weekend.
It made Wednesday, then not seem so bad.
Today, is Wednesday but it is also half term week so I find myself saying I can't believe it is Wednesday already!
Wednesday, is probably thinking: "Come on, give me a break! You can't have it both ways!"
It has been a good day though.
For a Wednesday.
I finished reading my book, Water for Elephants and loved it, loved it, loved it. You will either have to buy it, buy it, buy it and read it for yourself - or wait for my review on the next Turn the page Tuesday to hear more about it.
I went for a walk in the drizzly rain and the bitterly cold wind.
No wonder Tudur has stayed in for most of the day!
I came home and made some more of these:

using some of these ingredients:

and the recipe is from this book: BAKE, by Rachel Allen.

The last time I made some, you may remember,was when the girly chicks came round to do some "bitch and stitch" on our banners. The remaining half, I reluctantly took the following day to church for our bring and share lunch....
I took them...
but I didn't share any of them.
I kept them in the tin.
I bought them back home again.
And ate them the next few days.
They were delicious.
I wonder how I will do at sharing them with the girly chicks tomorrow?
If there are any left.
These white chocolate and peanut butter blondies - are very moreish.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Pastels and Pancakes.

Today is day 2 of my half term break.
Loving It!
Met up for lunch and shopping with my friend Canev, who came to see me today.
We did afternoon tea too.
I re-confirmed my suspicions that the reason I like vanilla slice is because of the layer of icing on the top.
I did eat all of it, just to make sure!

I came home and had fun with my new pack of pastels.

Remember my thoughts on Sunday, Valentines Day?
the line from a hymn, If with His love He befriend me has been tumbling through my mind and heart these last few days.
So I did this.

Then I made and ate pancakes!
With lemon and sugar.

I suppose, tomorrow will bring my next challenge.
What to give up for Lent?

Monday, 15 February 2010

Whoop for Half Term!

Yep I did it!
I survived a whole half term in my new job - loving it, bit tired in the evenings it has to be said - but it is a great milestone to reach for me, nonetheless.
So now, to celebrate this milestone, I have a whole week off!
Today, there was lots of time for lazing in bed for ages with coffee and my book!
Lunch out with my big sister at a lovely cafe in my city. We both chose eggs florentine. Sisters! Delicious!
Then back home for some creative arty farty painting fun.

I did this to celebrate Chinese New Year - 2010 is the Year of the Tiger and the celebrations for the next few days began yesterday on Valentines Day, so I sneaked in a few red and gold hearts into my painting! I painted in acrylic and added the gold with a gold marker pen for the finishing touches.
I even did some ironing too!
A great day!
More of the same or similar, tomorrow I think.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Week 6 of 365

The last week before half term break!
39/365 - Monday
Got the ironing out ready but too tired...

40/365 - Tuesday
still there...

41/365 - Wednesday
Desperate measures. I ironed a few things to wear, to keep me clean and tidy at work these next few days. 3 outfits and 3 more sleeps to go.

42/365 - Thursday
Bin night. My re-cycling challenge.
The bin men have nicked 2 of my glass recycling bags. Now I have no recycling bag.
I put my empty glasses in my own bag with a friendly note.... Let's see what happens...

43/365 - Friday
My delivery challenge. I left my shopping purchases behind in the store. They tried to deliver it today whilst I was at work.

Oh, and the bin men... took my bag... and didn't leave me anything in return.
Bag Nickers.
44/365 - Saturday
Admitted defeat and put the ironing away. It is half term next week and have a new pile of ironing now to add to the pile.

45/365 - Sunday
Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day!
This has been my table decoration:

This morning at church we sang the amazing hymn:
"Praise to The Lord, the Almighty the King of creation"
A brilliant hymn written by Joachim Neander (1650-80) and translated by Catherine Winkworth (1827-78)

The last few lines of one of the verses to this hymn seemed particularly poignant to me this morning, Valentines Day:

"Ponder Anew,
What The Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend Thee."

I think I had previously sung the words If to the end He befriend thee.
I really really liked this translation today...

To ponder anew, think afresh, gain fresh understanding, to look with new perspective.
Fresh insight.
I love the word ponder too.
Probably because I am a bit of a natural day dreamer!
Pondering was good enough for Mary, though, wasn't it when she pondered on all the things that were spoken to her with the birth of Jesus.

It was this line that I really liked today:
If with His love...
It reminded me of His loving kindness that draws us close to Him.
The freshness of Him befriending me, drawing alongside to be a friend with Luci.
It has such a simple, a lovely childlike quality don't you think?
Friendship works both ways doesn't it?
He chooses to befriend me and I choose to befriend Him.
I am glad we are friends.

The rest of the day has been great too.
Yummy food and great friends.
9 of us this time:

A meal with Abbie and Tim, Emily and Jamie, Anna, Jenny, Ralph, Beefy and last but not least - me!
A brilliant chance to use my New plates.
I snuck in a mini bag of malteasers and magic stars into each napkin bag and tied them with raffia!

The meal was, as usual, a collection of amazing contributions from each of us.
We had this yummy Moroccan salad for a starter with bread from Abbie and Tim.

Then we had the Beef Burgundy with baked potatoes and sugar snap peas.
Apple and Blackberry crumble, yummy lemon pudding,chocolate gateau was all delicious too. Thanks Beefy and Jenny.
The meal was all washed down nicely with some rather nice red wine! Thanks Ralph and Emily and Jamie.
We rounded off the meal with tea and coffee and ginger shortbread.
Thanks too, Ralph and Tim and Beefy for doing all the washing up!!!
you guys are great.
This smiley face, Ralph, :-) is for you - as I know you didn't know how to write one earlier today - and apparently can't do one on your blackberry.
:-) or should that be :-(
Thanks friends.
Thanks for the food and the laughter.
It has been a good day.
Thank You God for being my friend and Thank You for my friends too.
Happy Valentines Day, bloggy friends.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

That Lovin' Feelin'

You got That Lovin' Feelin'?
Or do you see it as a huge marketing thing?
Those of us with a partner spend a fortune and those of us without save a fortune!

Typically, Valentines Day here in the UK tends to be very much for those wishing to declare undying love, secretly or for already existing couples and the marrieds.
Quite exclusively, it has to be said.
Very different from the USA, I think.
No buying Valentines for friends or children buying them for classmates.
Nope. Just the boyfriends/girlfriends/partners/husbands/wives.
Traditional cupid stuff.
As you know, I am a bit of a rule breaker and love any excuse to get friends together!
This year I am planning, with the groovy girlie chicks, a yummy Valentines meal for our friends and husbands.
There should be 10 of us if everyone comes.
We asked more but some have other dates, it seems!
I am really looking forward to it - and excited to use all my new plates and bowls I now have.
I collected the rest of them today!
I had some money for Christmas to get some more of my chosen tableware I have been collecting these last few months. Sophie Conran in the Portmeirion range.
I love it!
I had some for my birthday after I ditched my old Denby at China Search and I went shopping the other weekend with my friend Tanya to get some more with my Christmas spending money.
I made my lovely purchases and opted to get it from customer collections later in the day after we had done more shopping.
A great idea, we thought... except that we were so busy gabbing and shopping elsewhere that we simply forgot the time.
When we realised the time and battled the car park and traffic to get round to customer collections... yes you have guessed it... they were closed.
Too late.
They had all my shopping.
I came home empty handed.
(Well, almost!)

became my new challenge!
I managed to arrange for them to deliver it.
It arrived...yesterday - when I was at work!
A little frustrating as they said it would be either Friday or Monday. In a way, I had hoped for Monday as I am off work next week.
So I picked it up from the local parcel depot this morning!
It will be great to use it tomorrow, though!

Of course, Tudur was on hand to help with the unpacking!
He was just as excited as I was and jumped right in to help!

Once it was all unpacked and washed and put away, I got everything ready for the slow cooker - Beef Burgundy.
I used a recipe from this Fix it and Forget it.

A fabulous slow cooker book.
I also borrowed one of the girly chicks slow cookers as we need 2.
Friends will bring things to go with it - either savoury or a yummy sweet.
We will accept any food or flowers, wine or chocolates, most gratefully.
Will take photos and post them soon.
Happy Valentines Day, tomorrow!

Monday, 8 February 2010

My Musings On A Monday!

At my local church yesterday, we had our monthly all age service and it wasn't me leading it!
My minister graciously offered to lead it for me this month - and I said yes please!
It was really lovely to take part without leading it for a change.

One of the things to do was this:
A Life Audit Bookmark.
The Bible reflection passages were Matthew 22:34-40, Matthew 28:16-20, Hebrews 11:6

1. What are/should be the priorities in my life. What do I spend most of my time doing?
2. As I reflect on my life - how much of it relies on my faith? ie: that God would play His part?
3. How much time do I spend building up relationships with others?
4. When you were young, what did you enjoy doing? Are you still doing this now?
5. How much have I grown in my love and knowledge of God in this last year?
6. When did you last laugh?
7. Of your list of things to do before you die, how many have you done?
8. What am i holding onto, that I really need to give away?
9. If you are a Christian, if a friend/colleague asked - what does it mean - what would you say?
10. What was your last piece of good news and how did you share it?
11. What am I most looking forward to in the next year?
12. when i die what would I like people to say about me and how am I going to make this happen?

Here are some of my thoughts I would like to share with you:

1. My priorities in life and what I spend most of my time doing at the moment are to continue to get into the groove of being back at work full time in my new job, sleep, food, friends, family, rest and time for God within that.

2. My faith continues to be central to my life but at each twist and turn in my life journey, I often find myself with fresh and new challenges. I have to grab hold of what I have learned and been taught with the last leap of faith as I begin to venture into the new. Without the past I would just stand still and not leapfrog into the future, I suspect.

3. I love my friends and making new ones but really need to grow in developing the new friendships I am making to see them deepen. I need to invest time into these.

4. I used to love being creative and music and swimming. Looking at my creativity is like a breath of fresh air - so need to re-fill my lungs and start singing and swimming again next.

5. I really felt that I grew in my love and knowledge of God this last year. It hasn't been the easiest year with being ill, job hunting, weird relationship, but God has once again proved Himself faithful and brought me through each of these.

6. I last laughed yesterday and today - the book, Water for Elephants is very funny. (I cried yesterday too. Chick flicks do it every time. oh, a hug too did it.)

7. I actually don't have a list, but then again I do have lots of things I dream of. The list is huge, growing and loads to be crossed off!

8. Well, I just got rid of all my Denby but I suspect the things I am holding onto are in my heart, rather than them being real and actual objects. so, things of the heart probably are fear of the unknown - in terms of taking risks for the new opportunities- trusting others.

9. I think I would be happy describing my faith - it would be very personal thoughts and I hope they could see reality in what I share.

10. Last piece of good news would probably be my new job. I texted, phoned, emailed and facebooked it! And shared it in bloggyland too!

11. I think I am most looking forward to discovering more about the word change and flourish for me this year. deep stuff I know.

12. I have no idea on this one. I hope that people will remember my love for God, my smile and hospitality and that I lived life, loved and laughed.

What about you?
I'd love to hear!
Leave your comments here:-)

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Week 5 of 365

Quite a productive week, making more of dent in tidying and sorting at work and finding my feet. Have seen some friends and had friends round too, which is an improvement on purely coming home and collapsing on the sofa in a heap!
It has only taken me 5 weeks!
Here are my photos for the week:
Monday 1st February 32/365
The start of the new month and a new page in my calender of cats! I also watched a mr. bond movie - Casino Royale - with one of my friends,Ike, who was repeatedly biffed on the head by Tudur! Sorry Ike. I think he thought it was rude to snooze whilst watching such a great movie?

Tuesday 33/365
I met up with one of my friends after work to eat a yummy carvery, forgot my camera, so took this photo instead! (Well it is nearly Valentine's Day, isn't it!)

I transformed my Christmas wreath, having retrieved it from hanging outside on my front door. I threaded another heart decoration with twine to hang in the centre. I think it looks fab, so wanted to show you!
Another of my hanging hearts in my hallway. (bit of a heart theme this month!)

Thursday. 35/365
The girlie chicks night. Too busy eating cake to take a photo of the cake, so took this one instead. I love my friends. and I love cake.
This bit of the banner was done by the amazing Emily. Great patchwork! and great coconut and banana cake too Emily!

Friday. 36/365
Cooked food for friends in my slow cooker and took it round to them after work. Yummy beef with potatoes, carrots, red pepper, sweet potato, parsnip, onion and stock and ketchup. Yummy. I even remembered to take my camera, but forgot to take a photo and left it in my bag all the time! (It was Friday!)
So, I took this one of the slow cooker pot after I washed it all clean!

Happy memories, all the same and it was lovely to see Rachel and Mike and Jacob and Daniel! Thanks for letting me eat with you!
Saturday. 37/365
Time to relax, bake, sew, tea and cake and time to read my book.

Survival for the week ahead. Some Fresh Fruit and Vegetables.Bliss.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Saturday Sew and So

So Today, Saturday, Abbie and Jen and I did some more sewing on these banners that we are working on for our church.

We had Fun!

We have been a bit frustrated that when we meet on a Thursday night, we seem to get so little sewing done. Also, we did start them ages ago and really want to get them finished by Easter if we can.
So, it was good to have a good few hours to sew and chat and mess around with fabrics and ideas.

Quite a productive day!

Here is how the 2 banners are looking now :-)

Of course there was lots of time for tea and cake and chocolate bread!

I also made these Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies!

I used a yummy recipe from my Rachel Allen book called: BAKE!
There are just a few left to take to our bring and share tomorrow at church for lunch. If I manage to bring any, I will feel very virtuous. If I manage to share any, it will be quite a miracle.