Thursday, 25 October 2012

Our London Break

Because of my new little business has been keeping me busy every day, we have not had chance to go away this year as a family.

Now things have quietened down at work we thought we would take the children to London for a few days.

I did some research and got a great deal for 2 days at Legoland and a night in a hotel.

So we spent two very happy days wandering around Legoland.  It was a bit dull and damp, but quite mild there, but the best part was because it is October and not all schools are on holidays this week there were no queues!  Most things we just walked straight on which makes things much easier!

We left Legoland and headed to stay with our best friends for a night and had the chance to meet their beautiful new miracle baby boy -ahhhh so broody now!

Wednesday we headed into London by train for a lovely day or mooching around the Natural History Museum  (which has a fantastic restaurant by the way), followed by seeing the sights on an open topped bus, then heading to Covent Garden to drop our stuff off at the hotel, then head into Leicester Square for dinner.

I worked for some time in Covent Garden, so it was great to go back and see the old places again and do all the touristy things I never got round to doing whilst I was there.

But my favourite day has to be today.  We had booked the London Eye as my son was desperate to have a go. It was a bit misty but fine.  But when we nipped into the new Jubilee toilets by the Eye, the lady in there said that the Queen was coming later that morning to officially open the Jubilee Gardens. So we waited 10 minutes and then she and her entourage arrived!

We were amazed.  I have never seen the Queen and then there she was.  Soooo excited!

Photo: Added bonus when walking around London  - the Queen!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

A Simple Sunday

I usually work on a Sunday at the Tea Rooms.  Today I had someone in working but I needed to be close by in case we got really busy.  Turns out I wasn't needed afterall.

I had a lovely family day at home instead.

This was my Simple Sunday.......

  • Giving the bedrooms and bathrooms a good clean - there is satisfaction in getting a job done and seeing a tidy room. 

  • Sitting with the children doing their reading and writing.
  • Stepping out of the back door to pick our apples to make into an apple crumble
  • The weather still just about warm enough to hang out the washing. 
  • Making a Roast dinner for my family 
  • Watching the children play nicely together (this is quite rare!)
  • Children in the bath.  Pyjamas warming by the log burner.  
  • Ironing whilst watching Darling Buds of May.  
  • Now sitting in the kitchen catching up on things I need to do for the week. 

Satisfaction in simple things. 

Sunday, 16 September 2012

At the Country Show

Every year our village holds a Country Show.  It is a wonderful event and has been running for 161 years.  It  has all the usual ploughing, horse events and the main ring hosts displays of working dogs, falconry and so much more.

We love it.  This years show was held last Saturday.  It was a beautiful day and so sunny all day.

As well as the other displays, there is also the produce and home crafts marquee.  This year I thought I would have a go and put some things in the baking section.

I decided to enter seven things then spent a couple of slightly stressful days baking - it turns out that I am really bad at making jam tarts! Plus my first attempt at a lemon cake looked decidedly unappetizing.

I stuck at it and by Saturday morning I had all my entries ready.  My husband had also entered the 'Man in the Kitchen' competition and made a beautiful Victoria sponge.

When we returned later that day after judging, we were amazed to see that husband had won first prize for his cake and I had won 3 Firsts, 1 Second and a Third, meaning we both won a trophy!

This is us very surprised with our spoils!

I think we might have annoyed some of the older locals who win every year - he he he!

It made a wonderful day even better!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

My charity shop bargain

A lovely friend and I went for a mooch around the local charity shops this week.

I am usually terrible at finding anything in charity shops - I see the wracks of things and my mind goes blank - I just can't see anything decent in amongst all the stuff.  Perhaps it is something that needs practice!

But, this time, the first shop I went into I saw a long dress on the rail, pulled it out and there was the most beautiful 40's style Monsoon dress.  It was a size 10.  I tried it on and it fitted like a glove - yeah (the healthy eating is working)!  Not sure when I am going to wear it, but I love it!

I also picked up a really nice light jacket to wear now the days are getting cooler.

After that, I couldn't find a single decent thing, but it didn't matter.

Next time I wear it, I will take a photo.  Now to get hubby to take me somewhere fancy so I put on my new frock!   (I love that word).

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


Now, I am a girl that was bought up in the country and I like all of natures little beasties.  I am fine with spiders and snakes and all those other things that make some people shudder.

But, I have a real problem with earwigs.  I just don't like the little blighters.

They seem to get everywhere!  I always seem to find them in my washing when it is hanging on the line - how do they get up there?!? - can these pesky little devils now fly or are they hitching a ride on a passing bird?

And if I don't shake my washing enough before I bring it in, then they snuggle down in my clean laundry waiting to surprise me - I found one happily ensconced in my knickers this morning.  Not what I wanted to see at 6.00am.

I am sure they have a purpose in this world but I would be very grateful if they could go and do their business elsewhere thank you very much.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Little green eyed monster

Ok, I am jealous.  I know I shouldn't be, but I am.

My little boy had a couple of friends round to play today, and I dropped them home afterwards (I hadn't been to their house before) and I was taken aback by how fantastic their house is.

It is the kind of house you would pay good money to look round and come away thinking 'if only'.

The parents are absolutely lovely and I know it must take a lot of upkeep to look after such an old house, but I still couldn't help myself thinking about what it must be like to live there.

I have also recently become friends with another couple who have moved to the village.  They are possibly the nicest and most generous people I have met.  They recently moved into the 'big house' in the village, complete with pool, tennis court and everything else.

Again, I know I shouldn't be jealous, but I am a little bit.  And I know it is just my ego talking, but I wonder what they will think when they come round to our little bungalow with its woodchip wallpaper and scruffy old furniture.

In fact, I am sure they will say nothing, it is just me being silly.

I love my little house really.  I love that is so ugly and tiny from the front, then when you walk in, it opens up to a lovely family home.  It is relatively cheap to look after and was a bargain when we bought it.

Perhaps it is just me and my Jane Austen/Pride and Prejudice fantasies about living in the Manor House and floating around in a lovely dress, reciting poetry.

But I am certain that neither friend does that anyway.

In fact, who does?!?!?

Time to put away my silly thoughts, and enjoy the house I am lucky enough to own.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Dublin Bound

Tonight I am busy packing and getting everything ready for a weekend in Dublin.  I am so, so ,so excited! 

Hubby and I are going over for a friends wedding.  We lived over there for 5 years so I can't wait to meet up with old friends and visit some of our old haunts.

One of our favourite places. 

Another favourite. 

Oh, and another.  

Where we are headed tomorrow evening.  

A place to be avoided! 

It is rather ironic that all my favourite places are pubs but I am now a non-drinker.  

'Pint of Rock Shandy please Barman'.  

Can't wait!!!!!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Cleaning, cleaning cleaning Part 3

Well I had my home kitchen assessment today.  This is so I can bake cakes at home to take into the tea room.

All went well.  I got 4 stars.  I would have got 5 but I needed the official paperwork and not just my cleaning schedule.

I had spent much of yesterday evening cleaning and making sure every surface was spick and span.

I thought the inspector would go through every cupboard and check my oven etc.  But no.  He didn't even open the fridge -  I could have had a dead dog in there for all he knew! I almost felt a bit miffed that he didn't marvel at my beautiful cupboards!

Oh well, I am pleased with the outcome.

I shall go and gaze joyfully at my perfectly organised cupboards instead.

Little things please little minds.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning Part 2

After spending all day and much of the evening cleaning and scrubbing every surface and nook and cranny in the kitchen, and polishing the oven so it looked like new ready for the Environmental Health chappy to come round and assess my kitchen, I had a phone call an hour before his arrival -

'Sorry I can't make it'


Ho hum, at least I have a tidy kitchen and a spotless oven.

It is rescheduled for Wednesday morning.

I wonder if I can keep everyone out of the kitchen until then ;)

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.

I had a call at lunchtime today from the Environmental Health to organise a home visit to assess my kitchen - I want to be able to bake cakes for work at home and have to have my kitchen certified.  I was expecting it would be in a couple of weeks, but no, he asked if he could come tomorrow!

My little brain was going 'say no, say no, delay it till next week'.

Mouth said 'Sure, tomorrow is fine'.


Cue manic cleaning of kitchen.

It is not that my kitchen is dirty, but if someone is going to be poking in every cupboard and draw and assessing my kitchen, it has got to be pretty darn clean.

I have spent all day cleaning - the room has been scrubbed and wiped, polished and buffed.  Just the floor to do which I will finish tomorrow after the munchkins have had breakfast.

Then it is just fingers crossed I haven't forgotten anything!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Dishwashers and this and that

Husband is still set on a dishwasher.  I am against.  I can't justify spending all that money.  I will see how long I can hold out.  Thank you so much for your comments on the last post - I like to hear what other people do!

We had a sunny day here today - hurrah!!! 

The rain has briefly stopped.
Part of my Tea Room flooded! 

So I managed to get down to the allotment for some much needed weeding.  The little plot has been doing us proud at the moment.  We are eating our own potatoes, peas, beans, kale and there are plenty of strawberries.  I gain so much pleasure from putting a meal on the table the consists of mainly our own produce.  Simple pleasures.

I haven't managed to work out how to get the photos off my phone, so here is a picture of last year pickings. 

Another thing which is making me happy, is that we have made our first repayment on our mortgage.  It is only a little step, but it feels good to have made that first step. 

I have been reading Rhonda's Down to Earth blog and this post really hit a chord.  She just makes so much sense.  I really must be more content with what I have and to appreciate every day - too often I find myself wishing away the time or getting angry at the children (this seems to happen far too often!).  

Simple pleasures are the most valuable. 

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Dishwasher Dilemma

Last Thursday I merrily went to open the dishwasher to get out a knife to make a sandwich  - and the door wouldn't budge.  I gave it a couple of good tugs and nothing.  Then I got my husband to have a go - still nothing.  So we heaved and jiggled it, banged it and budged it - still nothing.  Then we thought we would leave it till the morning and perhaps it would sort itself out.

Every so often we would walk past and give it a sneaky tug, as if perhaps it was just playing with us and if we snuck up on it, it would be caught unawares.

Of course, the door remained firmly closed, with all our cutlery inside.

These were the only knives we had left.

A Tombilboo childrens knife or a cleaver - try eating with those!

We had to admit defeat and call in the repair man who had to break open the door.

So now I have a dilemma - to fix our dishwasher we need a new door which will cost £250+, or buy a new machine.

In theory we should fix ours, but it is old and not very good and probably uses loads of water (am I just trying to make myself feel better!).  A new one would be far more ecological.

But my main dilemma is do we really need a dishwasher at all?  Is it a luxury or a necessity?  Washing up is not that much of a chore and I am certain I could spend my money on something far more important. We hardly used the last one, so I don't really want to replace it.

I am happy to do without, but hubby is not so sure.

Do you do without?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A Magical Evening

My husband and I have begun a tradition of each year going to see Shakespeare at the open air theatre near Stamford.

This year was Twelfth Night.  I never studied Shakespeare at school and had never seen any plays, so I feel it is high time to make up for it, and it was just magical.
Tolethorpe Hall Grounds

The theater is set at Tolethorpe Hall and they have built the open air stage amongst the trees (the audience have the luxury of having a covered seating area).
It is just beautiful and there is something quite magical about watching the play as dusk falls and it gradually turns to evening, all the while hearing birds and seeing them fly over head.  Even watching a play in the rain seems to add a unique spin on it.

I am already looking forward to seeing next years performance.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

I am joining in with Astra's Happiness Revolution.  It is a lovely idea, each month you write down 10 things which are making you happy.  So here are mine this month. 

  1. My husband's very good friend visiting us.  He and hubby lived together all through uni but moving has meant that we haven't seen him for a year - it makes me so happy to see that laughing and messing about together. 
  2. Having my own business - my little Tea Room.
  3. My flower beds are looking beautiful. 
  4. Seeing the confidence of my son grow each time he gets on his bike (he has only been riding for a couple of weeks)
  5. Sitting in the kitchen and looking out of our big windows and watching the sunset (which is what I am doing right now!)
  6. Climbing Snowdon next week with my husband, sister and brother in law. 
  7. Things growing on the allotment.  
  8. Planning a camping trip.
  9. A WEEKEND IN DUBLIN with no children - ok, so it is not until July, but I am so excited about it! 
  10. Matt. 

Friday, 18 May 2012


I just want to say thank you to all those who took the time to comment about the tea room I will be opening very soon.  (I am trying not to think about how many days it is or I might just have a little panic attack).

You all gave me some great ideas.  There will definitely be homemade cakes - as well as the old favourites, I am looking forward to playing around with what I am growing in my allotment - at the moment, lots of rhubarb.

I am just looking at soy milk (the one I tried curdled for a flat white coffee, but it seemed ok for a cappuccino).  The current menu is very bread heavy, so I am going to try a few salads and lighter things.  Definitely put in more choice for vegetarians and a vegan choice - since becoming vegetarian I am very aware of how meat dominates most menus and it is usually a cheese sandwich or a veggie lasagne for non-meat eaters.  There is never anything suitable for vegans.

Mrs Accidental - that is a great idea about the colouring paper and pencils.

SFT - I completely agree about the menus, they must be clean.  And clean toilets are a must.  My job next weekend is to decorate them.

Lisa - thanks so much for commenting.  Funny you should mention not liking drinking out of clear cups, I had a customer come in the same day and say the same thing.  I have been out and bought a few mugs as I think a lot of people prefer to drink out of mugs.

Kay - if you could point me in the direction of some good vegan/gluten free cake recipes, I would be very grateful.

Thank you also Fostermummy, Jane and Chris, Phillipa Jayne, Sandra, Dannie,  Datacreata (The Peacock Tea Room looks fantastic!), Lissy Lou, Keeping it Simple and Mrs No Spend.  I really appreciate your comments.

You are always welcome to come and have a free cup of tea with me!!!

This is my little place.  It is only small, but I have big plans. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Exciting Changes

I have been a bit absent of late - I have 'written' lots of Blog posts in my head, but have not had chance to type them up.

The reason my mind has been elsewhere, is that from the beginning of next month I will be running my own tea room.  I have been working in a little tea room in the village since last year, as an opportunity has come up for me to take it over.

Not exactly what I had in mind in my career plan, but it could be good.

So I have been doing lots of planning and thinking about menus and advertising and all the other stuff I hadn't originally thought about - there was me thinking it would just be baking a few extra cakes.

I want to make this the best I can, so I would love some input - do you ever go to tea rooms/cafes etc?  What do you like/dislike about them?  What do you like to see on the menu?    And anything else you can think of that could perhaps help me.

Tonight I am going to be designing the new menu (in between a bit of blog reading).

This is not my tea room, but love the look of it......

Friday, 27 April 2012

Japan and home again

Yesterday I spent a lovely afternoon in Japan, then got home in time for tea. 

Peace and quiet.

This is the lovely Japanese Meditation Gardens which are just down the road from where I live.  It seems rather odd to find this little gem tucked away in a Nottinghamshire village.  

There wasn't a soul around, so I just sat and listened to the bird song.  

A rare treat to just sit and think and do nothing, before heading home to the usual noise and demands of everyday life. 

Ahhhhhh, so relaxed. 

P.S  Thanks for all the messages left on the last post, in fact on all the posts.  I don't always have time to reply, but I read them all and I am very touched that people take time to comment. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Sad news from the Duck Maternity Ward

We found our poor wild duck dead today.

Pretty Mrs Duck sitting by the bluebells

We thought she might be poorly as she normally comes over and feeds when we go outside, but she had not left her nest for a couple of days.  We put water and food next to her, but she didn't seem interested.

This morning we saw her up and about under the apple trees so thought she might be better.  Then sadly at lunchtime we looked out of the window and saw she was dead.

We were unsure what to do with the nest (partly as it is illegal to move eggs).  We had a look at the eggs and I don't think any were viable (we shone a torch through them and there was no sign of life) I think they might have got cold early on when she first got poorly.

Part of me wanted to try and save the eggs, but it is not for me to do.  This is part of nature.

The children were ever so sad and were struggling with the concept of death.

A sad day in our little garden.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

April budget has all gone to pot

It is only the 14th April and already my budget for food for the month has nearly run out.  Ooops.  I have £19 to last me until May.

We have had a very sociable couple of weeks which seems to have eaten all my money.

We had my sister and her family to stay - all of whom eat different things and prefer branded stuff (they came to the wrong house here then!).  We then had an Easter party for 20 people, a dinner party for friends last night, husbands family coming for lunch today and we are out again for dinner tonight.

So my poor food pot is looking very empty.

I am not really complaining as it has been lovely to catch up with so many people.

I shall just have to make the most of what is in the cupboards and freezer. Plus work our way through the stash of Easter eggs that we have been given - I didn't think I would say this, but I think I have gone off chocolate!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Tuesday Morning Quote

'The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it'.

Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Friday, 6 April 2012

The Happiness Revolution!

I am joining in with the lovely Astra's Happiness Revolution.  Have a look at her blog here.

Just think of 10 things that are making you happy this month, write them down and grab the banner above for your post! Lets forget about the negatives for a minute, turn off the news and give some attention to all the good things in our lives!

The 10 things making me happy these days are:

  1. Having lovely friends over today for an Easter Egg hunt.
  2. Watching the season change and Spring arriving with a flourish of blossom and new green leaves. 
  3. Watching the birds in the garden, especially the blue tits busily building a nest. 
  4. Mrs Duck nesting in the garden and her now sitting on her clutch of 16 eggs - I hope they all hatch! 
  5. Listening to the children laugh. 
  6. My lovely house - it makes me very happy to live here. 
  7. My family and my in-laws - I am so lucky to have such a wonderful family. 
  8. Meeting a freinds new baby today and having lots of baby cuddles. 
  9. Veggies growing at the allotment - I spied the asparagus growing - my favourite vegetable.
  10. My husband.  My best friend and the person who makes me laugh most in the world. 
Happy Easter to everyone.  

Monday, 2 April 2012

Duck News

My blog seems to have been taken over by the wild ducks living in my garden.

Whilst hanging out the washing yesterday morning I heard Mrs Duck scratching around under the shrubs by the shed.

Looking closer, this is what I spied.........

I counted 12 beautiful pale blue duck eggs this morning.  

So happy! 

I am going to have to construct a fence of some kind to protect her and her eggs as we are holding an Easter Egg hunt in the garden on Friday and we have twelve under 5's coming for the day.  Mmmmm could be trouble! 

Thursday, 29 March 2012

My week round up

It has been a week of worry and joy and lots of tears of relief.

My little boy Tom (5) went in to hospital for another operation as part of his cleft lip repair.  I have been really careful to make sure he knows exactly what is going on so that there are no surprises. I didn't want to hide anything from him.  I used words that he could understand and weren't too medical - so it was magic cream to go on his hand and magic sleeping medicine for the anesthetic (can you tell he is a Harry Potter fan).

I was nervous about this operation as it would be the first one where he is completely aware of what is going on (the other were done when he was much younger), but I needn't have worried  - he was amazing!

There was no fear or complaints from him.  I think he loved the whole experience.  He really enjoys being in hospital and being with doctors and nurses. Even when he woke up after the op, there were no tears, he was just hungry and did so well eating and drinking after, the nurses and surgeon were happy to send us home that night (thank goodness, trying to sleep in hospital on a childrens ward is nearly impossible).

I am so proud of my little boy and am so very thankful to live in a country with free health care.

I think Tom is going to grow up to be either a Doctor or a hypochondriac just so he can get back into hospital!

So we are now home and lots of jelly and ice cream are being consumed and all is pretty much back to normal.

Last night I was also very pleased to grade for my next belt at Aikido and I am now Green Belt - whoop!!!  I am one step closer to being a Black Belt.  I get so much pleasure from Aikido training as it is something I can really see progress on.  I have been going twice a week since last summer and I am amazed at how far I have come.

Now I am just working out my spending for March - I know I have gone over on the food, but not by much.  I have been pretty careful with my personal spending.  The big expenses this month were car and house insurance so I will post about that later when I don't have two munchkins sitting on my lap, one of which is playing a harmonica very badly (I thought getting up early would give me a moment of peace - no chance!).

Lastly, a huge hello to my new followers, I feel so honored to have you here with me.

Hope all have a great weekend.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

A Perfect Birthday Weekend

Today I am 36 years old.

So far I have had the perfect birthday weekend.


Last night hubby and I went to see Bear Grylls Live.

We had the best seats in the house.  I have always admired Bear, aside from the fact I would happily run off with him (just joking if you are reading this Matt! not really joking) , he is just a really nice guy and has achieved so much in his life.  

This morning I was bought breakfast in bed by my little girl, then I got to have second breakfast with my wonderful family.  

Today was spent at a wonderful and completely inspiring free-machining workshop at Hope and Elvis.  I had a blast and made loads of things.

This is part of it.  The plan is to make a big family quilt, showing things from our family life.

Our back garden, complete with chicken.


The duck-ducks

On returning home, I found that my husband had laid out a lovely birthday tea and his old school friend who is visiting had baked me a cake.  They have now disappeared off to the pub, so I am going to settle down with a blanket, birthday cake, a pot of tea and the new Twilight film (shhh Twilight is one of my guilty pleasures).  

Tomorrow we have a family picnic planned. 

In the words of Rapunzel in Tangled 'This is the BEST DAY EVER!'

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Duck that thinks it's a dog

I am so pleased that the wild ducks are now returning daily.  Each morning when I come into the kitchen, they are waiting at the backdoor.

I can't tell you how much joy I get from these three little ducks, being able to sit and watch them waddle around the garden, or splash in the kids tray of water.

It is rather like having three puppies in the garden though.  Where ever we go in the garden, we seem to have a trail of ducks waddling behind, if we sit at the table outside, they will come and lay down near our feet.  Mrs Duck now spends much of her day asleep on the doormat at the back door in between the debris of discarded kids wellies and shoes.

I really feel so lucky to have my little Duck-Dogs come and visit every day.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

My Weekend

A quick post about my favourite things this weekend....

Blue skies and sunny days - warm enough to sit outside in T-shirts.

Meeting my gorgeous new nephew for the first time and that feeling of holding a new born baby.  Ahhhhhh

Fireman Charity Car Wash at the end of my lane - most entertaining ;)

Empty ironing basket

Spending time with my extended family in the garden. 

A quiet Sunday night in listening to husband play the guitar.  

Hope you all had a good weekend.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

My March Happy List

My March Happy List 


After reading Astra's wonderful Blog and her Happy List, I thought I would write mine too.  It is always wonderful to take a moment to think about what makes me happy or what I am grateful for.  

So here goes are my 10 things that make me happy in March....

  1. The return of the wild ducks to the garden.  I could endlessly sit and watch them waddle around the garden and quack when they decide it is lunch.  
  2. Seeing my son ride his bike on his own today and then seeing the joy and pride on his face - I could have cried!
  3. Spring flowers everywhere.  
  4. Being surrounded by very kind and generous neighbours (who also put up with our household of noisy children and even noisier chickens).
  5. The days feeling warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the sun on my face.
  6. The evenings still cold enough to justify lighting the woodburner, so I can snuggle with my hubby on the sofa. 
  7. Reading inspirational blogs and feeling that I am moving towards something too. 
  8. The feeling of new possibilities opening up.  
  9. My birthday weekend coming up soon - my last birthday was spent at my Grandfathers funeral.  This year I am determined to do something nice, so I have booked tickets to see Bear Grylls Live (maybe not everyones cup of tea, but he is defiantly at the top of my laminated List ;), then the next day spending the day at a sewing workshop with a lovely friend.  
  10. My wonderful family (although they can drive me slightly potty at times, I adore them and they certainly do make me happy)

P.S  Hello and a huge welcome to my new followers.  It is good to have you along.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Friday Night Takeaway

Really felt like picking up a Chinese takeway tonight.  The little devil on my shoulder was saying "it's Friday, you haven't had a takeaway in ages,you deserve it, there is enough in the pot, it is only a little takeaway".

Was very, very tempted, especially after looking in the fridge and not seeing much except half an old cabbage and a couple of peppers.

Then I decided I should not be so lazy and just get on and cook something.  So after looking at the internet for inspiration and raiding the cupboards, tonight's veggie/vegan feast was....

Singapore noodles
Salt and Pepper Tofu
Chinese Braised Red Cabbage

Plus there is still plenty leftover for tomorrow.

I also found a couple of Chinese Fortune Cookies tucked at the back of the cupboard.

My Fortune for tonight -

'Speculations will turn out well'.  

Sounds promising!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Mrs Duck and her fellas have returned

Last year we had three very unxepected visitors to our garden - Beyonce the Duck and her two fellas.   We were surprised they stayed as we only have a small garden and no pond, but they seemed to like it.

This is Beyonce relaxing in the garden. 

I was so happy to look out of my window this morning to see that they have returned and are again tapping at the back door looking for some food.  

This morning.  

Last year they got so comfortable around us, that if the back door was open , they would all wander in and settle down until we fed them, which was lovely, but ducks don't half poo a lot! 

Hope they stay all summer! 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Go Confidently in the Direction of your Dreams

'Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined.  
As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler'  
Henry David Thoreau 

This is my favourite quote and one which has always meant a lot, it is one which I have taken different meanings from as I have grown older.  The original line appeared in Thoreau's book, Walden and is much longer but over time it has been condensed to the above.  

I had this pinned up over my desk at college and it gave me comfort to think that, yes, I was following my dreams.  

Now it is more about the need to simplify my life.  I have always felt the need to own 'stuff''.  If I saw a book I wanted, well I just went on Amazon.  The same with music, DVD's, well pretty much anything.  

Now more than ever I feel compelled to clear, to get rid of all the stuff I have been boxing up and carting from house to house.  

I am becoming more aware that the more we own, the more effort it takes to look after it, the more complicated it is.  I used to think that I would be 'happy' if I lived in a bigger house - but why?  It would just mean more cleaning, more worries about looking after it.  

Perhaps that is why I love camping so much.  With camping, life suddenly gets reduced to the essentials - a bed, a cup, a plate, a saucepan and a tent (although going with the kids, it is certainly much more than that!).  I feel more relaxed when there is less around me.  

Perhaps one day I will live in a cabin in the woods like Thoreau.  

Monday, 5 March 2012

Where to go?

This year's summer holiday to France has been postponed until next year.  The couple we were going with have discovered she is pregnant and due shortly after our holiday, so we have all decided it will be best to put it off until next summer.  A shame but a very happy reason for postponing.

But the good thing is, we now have £800 in the holiday pot and can now think about somewhere else to go.

I would like to hire a cottage in this country for a few days, but not sure where.  I would love to be either near the sea or next to a nice stream.  And somewhere peaceful which we can explore.

Anybody got any suggestions?

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Saturday Night and New Possibilities

First of all, thank you for the encouraging messages in response to my last post, but more of that later.

For now, I am enjoying a quiet Saturday night in.  It has been a busy day, starting off with a Guide Bake Sale to raise money for our unit.  Lots of my girls turned up and all had baked cakes, which were delicious and I bought far too many.  I am so, so proud of all my girls and feel so honoured to spend time with them.

Following that, I dashed off to work, but I am now relaxing at home with my lovely hubby watching Lord of the Rings whilst I do my new favourite thing - reading blogs!

Now, back to my dream job.  I finally realised that I had to at least ask, or forever regret it.  So, I emailed (I am not brave enough to phone!), and they sent a really nice email back, saying that although they don't need anyone at the moment, that may change and that if I want to go down and help out I can - that way I can get experience and it can fit in around my work for the time being,    So, pretty positive.  What I would like to do is start going down to the centre regularly and learn to canoe with a view to train to teach it.  I am a qualified archery instructor, so hoping I might be able to use that too.

But, something else might be on the cards.  This is all very up in the air and it might not happen, but my friend who runs the tea room where I work might be giving it up, and I am seriously thinking about taking it over.  I need to go through the books and see if it would be worth it, but it could be really good.

New exciting possibilities!  

Enjoy your weekend everyone. xx

Tuesday, 28 February 2012


I know you shouldn't have regrets in life, but I do.

One that has been bothering me for the last year relates to my dream job and just how I messed up my opportunity.

I have always liked outdoor activities and working with kids, so I approached the local activity centre (I take my Guides there regularly), and asked if they need anyone and if they would give me a chance.  They said yes - hooray!  But the centre didn't open for another couple of months and to begin with it would be unpaid.  But I needed money coming in so in that time I got my part time job.  Then the time passed and because I was now working I was not available for the activity centre and somehow my opportunity somehow disappeared, and I was too much of a wus to pursue it.

It almost makes me feel sick to think of the opportunities I have thrown away.  Sometimes it is hard to weigh up the need to earn money to support my family and the desire to go for your dream job.

I guess it is easier to do what you don't want to do, then it doesn't matter if you fail, than to pursue what you do, and face the possibility of failure at that.  How much of a coward am I?

So the question is, what do I do?  Do I explain, ask for another chance, or not try and always have this sinking feeling in the bottom of my stomach that I have missed out on something wonderful.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Making money

So the first part of this journey to mortgage freedom is saving money, the next is making some extra money to go into the pot. There is not much coming in, so anything I can do to supplement this is a bonus.

I have been thinking about this a lot, and trying to work out what 'skills' I have (I use the word skills very lightly!). Turns out not that many.

But I have come up with a few things.

First of all,

Earn More - At the moment I have a little part time job which fits in nicely around the children.  I am working in a tea room - certainly not what I imagined I would end up doing!  It is not exactly the career I thought I would have, but for the time being, it is money coming in and it is very handy - the tea room is on a plant nursery in the village.  The people I work for are lovely and have become good friends, so really I shouldn't complain.

The wages aren't going to change, but I am going to try and get some extra shifts here and there.

Sell more drawings/paintings. - My work has always sold quite well, but it has to be out there and not piled up in my shed.  So the aim is to get into more galleries and shops.  I have 2 exhibitions planned for this year and I want to get in touch with more.   Just selling one drawing a month would be £150-£200+ extra.  Imagine if I could sell more than that!

My first exhibition

Ebay/Amazon -  Continue clearing and try and sell some things.  Hubby has some books from his archaeology days which could fetch a bit.  I don't think I can make much from this, but it is worth a go.

Other Art related activities - I studied Animation for 4 years in Dublin, but life, children, responsibilities meant that I didn't pursue it.  Whilst it may be a bit late now, I have been thinking about designing characters and doing illustrations.   Possibly doing some designs for Phoenix Cards or illustrating a book.  These are just ideas that have been rolling around in my mind.

Short of selling a kidney, I can't think of anything else.

Anyone got any other ideas?

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Listography - Things that make me happy and up date my List

I have been enjoying perusing Kate's blog here and love the idea of the Listography.

This week's is Things that make me happy.....

  1.  Climbing into freshly washed and ironed sheets.  They have to be white cotton and there must be an upper sheet tucked in tightly.  Mmmmmmmm
  2. Listening to my little ones play and chatter.  Makes me smile every time. 
  3. Sitting in a cafe with a good cup of coffee and an unputdownable book, even better if hubby is there too (and some cake).  
  4. Walking bare foot on the grass.  
  5. Being by the sea - any season, any time - just as long as I can watch the waves and smell the sea.  
These make me smile just thinking about them.  

Last night I got to tick off one of my 101 Challenges -  A Night at the Opera.

Yesterday evening I spent a wonderful evening watching Opera North perform Madam Butterfly.  I have never been to the opera and was not sure what I would make of it.    First half I was thinking that I was not quite sold on it, but by the end, blimey, I was hooked.  I was all weepy and emotional.  I was completely blown away by the cast, they were amazing.  

I will definatly go again.  

Hope you are all having a good weekend full of things that make you happy. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Laundry Gloop and a Thank You

Just wanted to say thank you to all those who commented on yesterday's post.  It really did help.  Sometimes all I need is a good cry - I guess it kind of gets all the built up emotions out.  So after a good weep I settled down to read my favourite blogs (I think this might be getting a little addictive).  So a big thank you.

The other thing I wanted to mention is my new favourite thing  - Laundry Gloop!

I was browsing the Frugaldom Forum and came across this recipe for Laundry Gloop

This is taken from the forum:-

1 Bar of soap, grated 
1 cup of washing soda 
2 litres water 
few drops of essential oil 

Boil the water in a big stock pot or similar, dissolve the soda crystals and soap in it, add the fragrance and then dilute to at least 5 litres. 

You can store this in whatever bottles you prefer. I recycle 7.5 litre containers with wide screwtop lids, but a lidded bucket would also be ideal. 

I make 2 lots, one has a few drops of blue dye in it to help 'whiten' whites. 

FRUGAL TIP: I've been using this diluted to 7 litres and it works really well. I use the 'natural extracts' soap, which is a natural, antobacterial vegetable soap with tea tree & lavender extracts, so no need to add in extra essential oil unless you prefer a stronger scent. 

So at the weekend I made a big bucket load.  

I have always had a problem with shop bought washing powder.  Apart from the ever rising price, it is always so heavily scented that it sets my husband's asthma off.  So thought this would be a good scent free alternative. 

I used Simple Soap which is fragrance free, then added some Tea Tree Oil.  So 6 Litres of the stuff came to a grand total of £1.  (75p for the soap and about 25p for a cup of washing soda).  

But the best thing of all - IT WORKS!  And at the risk of sounding like an advert, even on the filthy kids clothes.  Plus it makes me feel good that there is one more thing I don't have to be dependent on the big manufacturers or supermarkets for. 

Happy me :)

Feeling a bit teary...

I got my little man's operation date through today.  It is next month.

Little Man with his first, very special smile. :)

Little Man T was born with a cleft lip and palate and had his first op at 8 weeks and two more since then.  This next one will be to close a hole through his gum, into his nose.   He will have to stay in for a couple of days.

His plastic surgeon and maxillofacial surgeon are just wonderful, and I know he will be in safe hands, but it makes me feel all emotional to think about my little boy going under the knife again.

This is my gorgeous little man now (excuse the snotty nose!)

I am sitting here feeling so sad and the only thing I want right now is a hug from my Mum and for her to say it will be alright - and that is the one thing I will never have.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Spring and Impossible Requests

A huge hello to my new followers - I really am so honored to have you along.  

Sunday was a lovely day here.  It finally felt like Spring is on it's way.  It was warm enough for us all to spend the day out in the garden.

Hubby and I have been talking about sorting out the garden.  We have a smallish garden which is perfectly functional, but a bit boring, so we decided to move things around and make a new herb bed and get rid of all the tatty gravel under the apple trees.

We also thought about adding some things for the children - a climbing frame or a slide - things they can enjoy whilst they are still young enough.  So in the spirit of getting them to join in, over lunch in the garden we asked what would they like in their garden?......

Little Miss O - 'PINK GRASS'.

Little Man T - 'A WATERFALL'

Me - '.......Errrrrrmmmm........Anything else?....'

Them - 'NO!!!!'

Mmmmm, anyone know where I can get pink grass?!?!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

An empty bin

Ok, so hubby and I have noticed a strange and very wonderful bonus since beginning our new frugalness and becoming a veggie household - our bin is nearly empty.

I have always been aware of how much we throw away, and have tried to reduce it, but we could still manage to fill a wheelie bin every 2 weeks - sometimes having to chuck a bag in our lovely neighbour's bin, when our lid wouldn't close.

Then today I realised that the bag in our kitchen bin is the same bag from last Friday, and it is not even close to being full.  Our wheelie bin is still completely empty.  And to be honest, I don't know how.   The recycling bin is also nearly empty.

What are we no longer throwing away? 

Is is just that we are no longer buying 'stuff'?  

I don't know, but I am very pleased about it!