Thursday, 26 May 2011

Precious people

Today I decided to get brave and try to add pictures to my blog. I figured a photo page would be good so I could update it as necessary - of course only time will tell if this will work long term.
Anyway, I did it!! I was a bit scared as the last time I tried to do something design-wise I managed to change all my settings and spent the next hour re-doing all my work. Anyway, its done and I have not been beaten. I hate not being able to do something and will generally consult my other best friend "Google" until I get the answers I need.

The reason for the photo page is simple.

People in our lives are too precious and we definitely don't take the time we should to enjoy our moments with each other. I have lost my Dad, mum, step dad and best friend in the last 5 years and have just realised how few pictures I have of our times together. The memories become a little faded round the edges and I hate that, so I have decided to start snapping more and enjoying the times we share with those we love so much, again and again and again. It also means we get to share those special times with each other .
That's the joy of pictures.

The emotions I felt when looking back and choosing photos were exactly as they had been on the day they were taken - allowing me to relive some truly funny and special times.

The other thing of course is that  looking back at the kids pictures also made me realise how quickly time flies (and how old I am getting.... :(  )

Unfortunately I don't have pictures of all of my wonderful family (Why?????  who knows?) and I now have a mission to get them. I will have to beg, borrow, steal or snap to complete my collection to date. I am lucky enough to have a big family in South Africa, and while its too far away for my liking, the Internet makes the world a much smaller place, so I will be able to get some through the wonderful world of email.

To every special person in my life........ I dont tell you often enough or strongly enough, but thank you for being part of my world.
I am blessed to have you all and I love you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, 23 May 2011

Faking it ?????

Someone asked me why I used pseudonyms for the people I mention in my blog, and I have to say I couldn't really think of a great answer.
My original thoughts were that it might protect people, but from whom or what? Now I am not so sure. My husband, children, family and friends have been mentioned, all under pseudonyms but would they prefer to be called by their born names I have to ask. Its almost like I am writing about fake people if I don't use their names, but is that what I want to do? I am proud of my life and the people in it and would never write anything derogatory anyway, and if anyone I know reads my blog, they will know who I am talking about anyway. Maybe they would like the world to see how important they are to me, which is why they have been mentioned anyway?

So -- what is the answer? Do I continue to write with the pretence of made-up people, or change the way I do it and hold my nearest and dearest up in all their glories for all to see?
I think I know but what says you?

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

I need my holiday !!

A new week. The exams that Tiddles had to sit last week (SATs) are over - thank god, I mean do 10 and 11 year olds really need the pressure of a full week of timetabled exams? I think not, the teachers should be able to use their daily assessments of these kids to formulate the information they need. But that's another story!! Tiddles is letting off plenty of steam after the grind of last week and so she should. I must say I will be pleased to see the summer holidays this year.

Anyway, the pressure is now transferred straight over to The Dodga who sits another GSCE exam next week and these then continue until end of June. YIPPPEEEE .....NOT!!
We battle on with trying to encourage revision and homework as priority, but when you are 15 and in your first serious relationship with a girl, the priority is clearly not with school stuff.

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3
I have yet to find a psuedonmym for the special lady in my sons life but I will keep thinking.
She is a very lovely girl, she laughs with him a lot which is great, the house is always full of giggles and squeals -- yes they are just being silly, I have checked !! She also fits in wonderfully with the rest of us. Tiddles thinks she is the best thing since sliced bread and honestly, she is a good role model for her to have chosen.
Well, the upshot is that they asked us if she could come on holiday with us this year.
My instant, no thought required answer? ABSOLUTELY NOT - you are 15, what if you aren't together by then? where will she sleep? etc etc.
Having then talked it over in much detail with M Man, we then decided that actually maybe it wasn't such a bad idea, providing there were conditions attached, (she will share a room with Tiddles, there will be no sneaking about into bedrooms in the dead of the night etc, we will be a family of 5, not 3 plus 2 etc etc). We figured taking her with us and having a potentially really great time was far better than going without her and The Dodga having a face like a slapped butt all week, with his attention focused solely on sending 100 texts a day and racing back to the hotel at every opportunity to access facebook on the free WiFi in case she has posted on his wall.
So, we go away this summer with 5 of us in tow. Actually, I am really looking forward to it. She hasn't been on holiday before and cant remember her only experience of flying as a very small child, so its quite an honour that her parents have entrusted her to us. She is as excited about the airport as the holiday, and Tiddles is very happy to be having a 'big sister' coming with us.

The obvious plus side also, is that it is now a major incentive for The Dodga to organise himself in terms of revision and homework etc or THE DEAL IS OFF...... Harsh I hear you cry, -- not really.
"Earning good things in life makes you appreciate them more, and if they want nice holidays etc when they have flown the nest and are having to pay for their own, they will have to be earning, and good jobs don't come unless you work hard at school. "
Here endeth the lesson for today.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Ready, Steady, Cook !

It was our anniversary (16 very full years) and Maintenance Man and I had arranged to go out for a very posh meal with our best friends next door, Lady List and Music Man. Their anniversary falls 9 days after ours (2 years for them now  -- yes ok they are much younger than us) and we planned to celebrate together. Last year we went to London together for the weekend which was amazing, but they have just had their first, very gorgeous baby, so this year was going to be at home.
Anyway, life can be a little cruel at times and their car decided to fail its MOT (talk about bad timing for them), and so we decided that going out and spending money needlessly was silly.
So, what were our options? chinese takeaway? hmmm not really; someone cook? hmmm ok, could do; then it was suggested that we do Ready, Steady, Cook.
For those that don't know or cant remember, this was a TV show where the contestant is given a sum of money and told to bring any 5 items of food to the TV chef who will then create a magnificent meal using these and a few store cupboard ingredients.
Now Maintenance Man makes a mean spaghetti bolognaise and great porridge (if you like eating concrete, which he does), but does not profess to be a chef, and I can cook family meals, but again I am certainly no chef. On the other hand, Music Man is a very good cook and Lady List has obviously cooked with some strange and wonderful ingredients as she is vegetarian. So it was decided the 2 teams would be boys V girls and Lady List and I would buy the ingredients for the main dish to be cooked by the boys, they would buy the desert ingredients to be cooked by the girls.
Budget - £10 per bag, all ingredients to remain top secret until the moment of cooking.
I must admit I was a little nervous to begin with, I mean what if it all goes horribly wrong? What if, what if? After a small chat with myself, and the reminder that we are with our best friends so it would even matter, (the phone muber for the chinese takeaway is readily available), I was looking forward to doing something different and exciting.

Bags on kitchen counter, music and stopwatch at the ready, what's in the first bag for the boys to create their masterpiece?

Avocado; haloumi cheese; Stilton cheese; pine nuts; filo pastry; tin of pears; mushrooms; asparagus.
After much discussion between the boys and choosing the staple store cupboard additions they needed,  they decided on their menu and set to work. Maintenance Man was doing very well, chopping, greasing, making dressing, and Music Man had his serious face on while focusing on the transformation that was to unfold in the kitchen. Trying to ignore the silly remarks being made by us girls (now having had plenty of liquid refreshment) and the random photo taking, they worked their magic. And magic it was ! Not only did they provide us with a wonderful main dish but they went one better and managed a starter as well. (Show -offs.)
 Maintenance Man showing off his chopping skills - and not a tear was shed with those onions.

 Asparagus preparation by Music Man - note the precision lining up of the spears before trimming !

 Wonderful starter of sliced pear and avocado with boiled egg and salad leaves, topped with toasted pine
  nuts and drizzled with Maintenenace Man's secret dressing.

The secret (very delicious) dressing.

Main course - Filo pastry filled with Stilton and mushroom, accompanied by asparagus spears gently nestled under a blanket of grilled haloumi cheese and a cheese sauce, with boiled rice.

I am not even joking when I say this was absolutely so delicious and how they did all that in 45 mins is beyond me.

Anyway, we ate the first 2 courses and then it was time to reveal the ingredients for us girls to conjour up something for dessert. Not forgetting that we had by this time, had 1 or 2 (or a little more) glasses of wine.

The ingredients in our bag were:
Chocolate; ginger nut biscuits; cream; Drambuie; ice cream; strawberries and a pomegranate.

Well, the biscuits led the way to a cheesecake base, with a layer of strawberries which we then coated with the whipped cream, melted chocolate and Drambuie mix and topped it all with the remaining strawberries and the pomegranate flesh.
 Ice cream - yummy at least we don't have to make that.

 Are you sure we should put ALL this Drambuie in?  Lady List looking slightly worried.

A wee dram of Passion-berry Pie.

I know not nearly as inspiring as the boys, but we were very full, a little tiddly and anyway we only had 30 minutes (well that's my excuse anyway).

We had the best evening, we laughed, we had wonderful food in fantastic company and we ate dishes not tried before and all for £20. Where else can you do that?

Everyone should try a Ready, Steady, Cook party -- I am looking forward to doing it again .xxxxxxxxxxx