Saturday, 25 September 2010

A few random thoughts on this week

Why is it that I'm too busy working during the week to read any blogs, but when I try to read them at the weekend "service is unavailable"!?

Why can my hairdresser give Izzy french plaits in three minutes when I just turn her into a haystack in half an hour of trying?

Why do Next sell shoes for little girls with heels?

And who buys them?

Who was it that signed up for something I recommended which resulted in my receiving a thank you hamper of goodies at work yesterday?

Why do six year olds need six lots of homework a week, plus recorder practice and learning lines for assembly?

Why do things run like clockwork when my husband is away, but not when he's at home?

Why don't shoes come in shoe boxes anymore when you need the boxes for harvest festival?

Why did our friend not tell anyone he was getting married on Thursday, in Thailand?

Why do Boden always sell out of size 12?

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Hmmmm?


Thursday, 23 September 2010

TGFT!

A little while ago I completed a questionnaire for Tesco regarding my internet shopping and delivery. In the suggestions box I asked for them to develop an app so that I could do my grocery shopping on my i-touch.

Guess what?

The Tesco Shopping App has been launched!!

I'm a PC and the Tesco app was my idea!



Monday, 20 September 2010

More tea, vicar?

So, daughter joined the Year 2 Drama Club at school.

Their first production?

The Harvest Festival Assembly.

Daughter came home very upset that she was allocated the part of Villager 1 with only one line to speak. I said the usual stuff:

"You have to start small"

"Do it well and you'll get more lines next time"

"Maybe you'll have more to say in the Nativity"

Well, the very next day, as I was taking daughter into school, I bumped into the teacher in charge of Drama Club looking quite flustered.

"The boy playing the vicar has pulled out!" she said.

Seeing my opportunity to make my daughter happy, and having my feminist head on, I jumped in:

"Couldn't Izzy play a female vicar?" I asked.

"Well, if you think she's got the confidence" she said.

I didn't mention that daughter has got up and entertained the whole congregation at our church on more than one occasion, I just said, "I think so".

"Well, if you're sure, try it with her and see" she said, and thrust the script in my hand.

When we got home I realised what I'd done.

Two pages of dialogue, the biggest part in the assembly and we've got ten days to learn it.

Why did I open my big mouth?

Saturday, 18 September 2010

That'll teach me!

As you know, my MIL has a habit of turning up on Saturday mornings expecting coffee and cake while I'm busy unpacking the shopping and doing five lots of washing. Well, this morning it was my birthday; I had Tesco deliver yesterday and I did most of the washing yesterday evening so that I could enjoy my day. I had breakfast in bed, opened my presents and cards and then waved hubby off to work leaving me and daughter free to enjoy ourselves. One thing I did not want to do was entertain MIL!

Knowing the time she normally calls, I packed daughter into the car and went to collect a parcel from the Sorting Office.

"Hmmmm, need to waste some more time", I thought.

So I took daughter into the local "village" to try out one of the coffee shops. ( I say, "village", it's called a village but is a little group of shops in the suburbs, it was probably a village at one time.) One milkshake, one cup of tea and two slices of Bakewell Tart later I thought it safe to return home.

On opening the door I saw a birthday card on the mat.

"Mission accomplished" I thought.

Then I saw the handwriting.

My brother.

He had driven 30 miles to come and see me with his card and I'd missed him.

Half an hour later MIL turned up.

That'll teach me!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Maple Syrup & Pecan Cupcakes

It's my birthday on Saturday and there is a tradition in my department that the birthday boy/girl provides cake for the rest of the department. Of course my department have come to expect something stupendous from me given my reputation for cupcakes so I have to deliver.

The pressure, the pressure.........

This year I thought I would go for an Autumn theme and toyed with blackberries and hazelnuts but then I saw these:


at Lindy's Cakes.

"That's it!" I thought, "Maple Syrup cakes with Autumn Maple Leaves"

So I ordered the cutters and set about researching recipes. Pretty soon I found a cake recipe, but finding a recipe for the buttercream/frosting, oh my word!!

I found recipes using egg whites, recipes using egg yolks, recipes with comments saying that the quantities are all wrong and one that used meringue powder (what on earth is meringue powder?). I eventually found a recipe that looked suitable at Baking Bites, but the recipe was in cups! Not even sure if the site was using US or Canadian cups! After googling conversion sites and trying to find out how many UK ounces to a cup I discovered that it depended on the ingredient being measures since cups is volume and ounces is weight (or mass if you want to be pedantic).

Aaaargh!!

I just want to make maple syrup flavoured buttercream!!

Last night I made the cakes.

Disaaaaaaster!

The cakes overflowed and then baked with rock hard crusts and virtually nothing underneath (I thought there was too much baking powder in the recipe). In the bin they went and I returned to my old faithful victoria sponge recipe with added maple syrup and pecans.

Tonight I made the buttercream (my usual recipe with added maple syrup) and decorated them.

Here are the results:



I just hope my department appreciate them!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Well, fancy that!

Checking out the new "stats" thingy on blogger , I found that a particular site had visited my blog quite a bit in the last couple of weeks.

"What's this 'Playpennies', then?" I thought, clicked on the link and blow me, there's a review of my blog!!


And there was me thinking I was getting left behind in this blogging lark by all the new talent!

Think I might carry on a bit longer, now.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Selfish not to share

Last night I watched "Casino Royale", again.

I just had to share:


Is it wrong to watch Bond films just for this?

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Mini Masterchef

Ever since she could wield a spoon I've been encouraging daughter to join in with cooking. However, a lot of "children's" cookery involves baking and then decorating, which is great for a creative outlet ...............

Remember the biscuit bears?


And the Valentines Cupcakes that won her a prize in English Mum's Valentine Bakeoff?


......... but does tend to involve a lot of fat and sugar.

Now, I've always talked to her about the nutritional benefits of her food and she knows what's good for muscle, bone and immune systems, but she hasn't made much more than fresh fruit kebabs and the said cakes and biscuits. I wanted to enable her to cook healthy, nutritious meals, but wasn't sure how to begin.

Luckily, the BBC Good Food magazine (my cooking Bible) has been doing series of little pull out pages called "We love to cook" taking one ingredient per month and creating three recipes suitable for children aged 3 - 6, 5 - 9 and 8 - 14. I've been cutting them out and keeping them, waiting for an appropriate time to introduce them to her.

I needn't have worried, after a summer of being addicted to "Celebrity Masterchef" (and correctly predicting the winner), daughter announced "I want to cook like that!" so I quickly whipped out the recipes and away she went!

After making the Strawberry Jellies (from powdered gelatine) she started to suggest her own versions with different fruits and juices!

Then she moved on to Cheesy Courgette Pizza and talked about other combinations of toppings.

Her next offering is Sweet & Sticky Chicken Noodles - yum.

I think I've unleashed a Mini Masterchef!

(If you have any budding Masterchefs at home, and would like to try some, the "We love to cook" recipes are available here )

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

New Term, New Horizons

Can't believe I've only been back at school for a week. I feel like I haven't had a minute to myself. I've already got one Parents' Evening under my belt (introductory information evening), done my lunch duty (library this term) and manned my stall at the First Year Clubs Fair (couldn't compete with the Pets' Club chinchilla, though).

Choir rehearsals have resumed and we've added two more concerts in December giving us five concerts over four weeks at the busiest time of the year. Think I'll just live off caffeine for December.

Daughter has flung herself into Year 2 with gusto and announced that she wants to go to lots of lunchtimes clubs.

On Monday she signed up for Recorder Club (need a recorder and a music book).

On Tuesday she signed up for Craft Club (need a 1litre juice carton and a Pringles tin).

Today she signed up for Drama club (need a costume for the Harvest Festival Assembly).

I didn't think I could take much more so I asked her what else she was planning on joining.

"Well, Friday is 'What's in the News Club' " she said

"What about Thursday?" asked husband.

"Oh, that's just Football, I won't do that" she replied.

Husband's face was a picture!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

The secret of our marriage? GSOH

On our anniversary last month my MIL came round to give us a card and her usual lecture. The one about how we were too young to get married when we did. Or rather, her son was too young to get married (we were 23). Then she turned to me and said:

"If it wasn't working, would you stick it out?"

"What do you mean?" chipped in husband, "We've been sticking it out for 17 years!"

(Husband and I rolled about laughing; I don't think she saw the funny side!)

Friday, 3 September 2010

Free Food Time!

As you know, I can't pass up the chance of free food and now is just one of those times.

It's blackberry picking time!

Our hedgerows are currently teeming with juicy blackberries, so get out there!

I thought this year I would perform a public service and show the blackberry virgins (so to speak) what to do with their bounty so that they can have delicious blackberry based food all winter.

You will need
  • a tub to collect your blackberries
  • a colander
  • kitchen roll
  • trays (baking or otherwise)
  • freezer bags
and here's what you do:


1 Hit the hedgerows and collect a tub full of juicy blackberries
(they should come away easily when you give them a little twist):


2 Wash the blackberries a few at a time in a colander:


3 Gently roll the blackberries on kitchen roll to absorb some of the excess moisture:

4 Spread the blackberries out on trays and place in the freezer for 3 - 4 hours:

5 Remove from freezer, transfer to freezer bags and return to freezer:



You now have individually frozen blackberries which you can use a few at a time for such delights as Apple and Blackberry Crumbles and Pies, Blackberry and Apple Crumble Cake, Blackberry Muffins, Blackberry and Apple Jam, Blackberry and Raspberry Smoothie, Blackberry and Hazelnut Scones, Nigella's Anglo-Italian Trifle or my favourite, the delicious Blackberry and Almond Meringue Cake!

Enjoy!


Thursday, 2 September 2010

Part 10 - Ta Dah!

The last part of our house renovation was to hang the photograph that I had put into a box four years ago and vowed not to open until it was to be rehung in the hall as the last act of renovating the house.

And that's precisely what we did two weeks ago.

Here it is:


Worth the wait.

I can't believe that the inside of the house is finally finished.

Next job - redecorate daughter's bedroom!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Part 9 - Hall, Stairs and Landing

And finally (apart from some new flooring in the downstairs loo),

from Easter 2009 to Autumn 2010

the big one ......

The Hall, Stairs and Landing!

This involved a new front door and frame, completely replastering the whole area, stripping and sanding the newel posts and base boards (took me six months), new spindles and hand rails, ten new interior doors, new radiator and finally painting and varnishing everything!

Before:

(Remember the scary axminster?
)


And now......

come in, come in.......



(Took me six days to varnish those doors)

(That's the staircase that took me six months)


(I've painted six of those doors on both sides - phew!)


Then, all that was left was the symbolic last act.

The thing that I had kept under wraps for four years to be the grand finale ...............