Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas Snack Plate {Flashback Friday}

To my husband, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without:

A snack plate!!
 
 
The above photo is from Christmas 2010 - the first Christmas day I spent with my inlaws. One of Matts family traditions is a 'snack plate'... this entails a selection of favourite savouries such as mini cheddars, chip sticks, peanuts and bacon frazzles. This plate is usually presented after Christmas dinner and is nibbled on for the remainder of the afternoon/evening.
 
I had honestly never seen anything quite like it before!! I'm sure it will become part of our Christmas traditions too... (in fact, only last evening M showed me his secret stash of frazzles & chip sticks!)  
 
 

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Friday, 14 December 2012

Friends? {Flashback Friday}

Todays post is possibly controversial... some of my readers will be thinking "why is she wasting time writing about her.."

In the early hours of this morning I woke up sobbing from my dream. I was deep in dreamland reminiscing from my university days. A lot of these years were spent with a girl whom I thought of as a very close friend: we lived together, we spent many nights out together, we holidayed together, we did the food shopping together, we watched hollyoaks EVERY night together, basically we pretty much lived in each others pockets for 4 solid years. The day we left our student house to return home we stood on the doorway in each others arms sobbing our hearts out.

From then we kept in close contact via email or phone and tried to see each other as often as we could - at least once every 6 weeks.

It was no question that she was to be a bridesmaid at our wedding - until, about 13 months ago she dropped a bomb shell on me. Our friendship was "hardwork", she no longer "needed to be friends with me", "we were friends at university as she didn't click with anyone else" etc etc...

Needless to say, she wasn't present at our wedding.

The past 13 months have flown by in a whirlwind of events. This doesn't mean I found it really hard to begin with. I struggled to see how I would get through my wedding day without my 'best friend' beside me; I didnt want to continue looking at bridesmaid dresses or planning the hen do without her there. Thank goodness I learnt who my real friends were and was very lucky to be supported by them all.


Christmas 2006

Summer 2008

V Festival 2008

Holiday in Greece 2009

July 2011


Life moves on - in the period that we haven't spoken, I have bought a house & got married. Two of the biggest moments of my life so far. It's just sad that someone who I thought would be there through 'thick and thin' isn't/wasn't.

I'll never understand how a 7 year friendship can just be thrown away like that.

I guess our dreams all have meanings of some descriptions, whatever their rhyme or reasons.

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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Christmas Meme

I have been tagged in a Christmas Meme by Lauren and as I love all things Christmas, how could I resist?!
 
The meme was first thought up by Makeup Pixi3
 
Q1. What's your favourite thing about Christmas?

Everything from 1st December! I love rummaging through the decorations that have been packed away for almost 11months and rediscovering all of the treasures I had forgotten about; putting the decorations up whilst listening to Christmas music; burning the Christmassy candle that gives off a looooovely smell; making & cooking sausage rolls and mince pies; seeing all of the lit up houses on my drive home from work... all of it! What's not to like?!


Q2. What's your favourite make up look for the festive season?
 
I'm pretty rubbish when it comes down to makeup and just stick with the same look most of the time.. I like to add in a bit of sparkle over Christmas though. I also normally paint my nails in a festive colour such as red or gold!


Q3. Real or fake tree?

This year we have both! As we moved from a top floor flat to our house, we have a 'skinny' real tree that my Mum lent to us when we were in the flat and we haven't yet got round to replacing in our lounge, and this year we have a real tree in a pot outside the front of our house with white twinkly lights in. We might be brave and have a real one indoors next year (shh... dont tell Matt!) having an issue with OCD though, I'd be constantly hoovering up the needles! We have a real one at work which I decorate also.
 

Q4. Giving presents or receiving them?
 
How can anyone answer this other than with 'both' ?! I love to really think about what people would appreciate and to see their faces when they open their presents, but it's also always lovely to have presents too. I appreciate the simplest of things too - things that I would like/need but don't like spending money on myself.


Q5. Do you open your presents Christmas morning or evening?

As a family we have always opened our main presents in the morning but would quite often have little 'surprise' presents throughout the day too. I could never wait until the evening to open them all - especially as a child, you'd never want to go to bed, you'd want to play with all your new presents!


Q6. Handmade Christmas cards or bought?

Bought sadly! I'd love to be able to say I had the time or the patience to make them though! We had our wedding invites handmade by a family friend and they were beautiful. Maybe one year!


Q7. What's your favourite Christmas film?

 
Hmmm... Home Alone is one of the favourites & always signifies the start of the festive period. I am yet to see 'It's a wonderful life' - that is one of the things I wanted to do this year. My favourite is probably Buddy.


Q8. What's your favourite Christmas food?
 
This is the hardest question of them all! I do love the dinner but then it's not *that* much different to a Sunday roast. The leftovers are always amazing! Nibbling on cold stuffing with cranberry sauce, crackers, and cheeeeeeeeeeese, freshly cooked gammon ham!! mmmm! Making me hungry thinking about it all!


I tag April and Milly



Tuesday, 11 December 2012

1903

This past week my Dad has been scanning old photos and emailing them to the family - I think he found an old box of photos as he was getting the Christmas decorations down from the loft!!

Having never really shown a great interest in our family tree, and not having the chance to meet many of my Dads family (sadly they had passed away before I was born), I was in awe of these photographs of my paternal grandparents as teenagers and on their honeymoon, of my father and paternal Aunts & Uncle as children growing up, and even more so of my great grandparents & great great grandparents!

It was remarkable to see the family genes through the generations too.

This is a photo of my great-great-grandparents from 1903:

 
 

I think it's incredibly fascinating to see the clothes they wore, the cars they drove and the houses they lived in. Look at my great-great-grandmothers skinny waist!!

This photograph was taken the year my great-nanny was born. She passed away in 2001 at an incredible age!

Will definately be asking my Dad to document everything he knows so that I can pass down to my children in years to come.

Friday, 7 December 2012

6 months {Flashback Friday}

It's hard to believe that this Sunday will be our 6 month anniversary of our Wedding Day! Those past 6 months have flashed past in a whirlwind.

This time a year ago I was beginning to panic about all the things that needed doing in the lead up to the big day and worrying that 6 months wasn't enough time to do it all!



Happy 6 month anniversary Mr W,
all my love, Mrs W xxx
 
 
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Friday, 30 November 2012

Christmas Traditions {Flashback Friday}

As a child our family Christmas's were always magical and I am fortunate to have very fond memories of them.

Christmas Eve would be spent delivering presents to family & friends, calling in on people, eating mince pies & listening to Christmas songs.

When we got home, Mum would lay the table and make it all pretty ready for Christmas lunch. She would make place name settings, fold the paper napkins into crowns and get out the best crystal & silver. My job was always chief cutlery polisher!

Christmas Eve dinner was always a treat as we were allowed it on our lap trays due to the table being laid for the next day - something that we weren't normally allowed to do!

My brother & I would go to bed early in the hope that it would mean Father Christmas would come sooner. (obviously not before we left a mince pie, carrot & sherry for dad  Father Christmas & Rudolph)

When we woke up on Christmas morning our stockings would be filled by our bed and every year my brother & I would either go in his bed or mine & open them with excitement. This was a condition our parents set us - we could get up when we liked as long as we opened our stockings together before waking them up!! Mum some how always managed to find the best things to put in stockings, definately one of my favourite parts to Christmas!

Once we had opened our stocking presents, we would go downstairs to find that Dad had switched on all of the Christmas lights and put on the cheesy Christmas CD and was in the process of pouring "Bucks Fizz" (or orange juice for us kids!).

We would then take it in turns to open our present sacks (these were the presents from Father Christmas). If we both had something that looked a very similar size & shape we would race to open it first so we could tell the other one what it was! haha..

After opening the presents from Father Christmas we would usually have breakfast before all sitting around the Christmas tree and opening the presents to & from each other, and also from our extended family.

When we had got dressed, Dad and us would go out to visit my Great Nan in her home whilst Mum prepared Christmas dinner. We all wore Santa hats and Dad would dress up as Father Christmas - something all the old people loved!

Another family tradition we had was a Frosty The Snowman that sat on the table on Christmas Day. Inside him were gifts that my Dad would go out & by for me, my brother & my mum.  I loved this.. Sadly though Frosty passed away a few years later so we had to change the tradition to making our own crackers or "table presents" instead.

Usually in the afternoon grandparents, Aunts, Uncles & cousins would come round to our house for a buffet tea after a lovely long wintery walk with our dog Sadie.

Just when we thought that the day was over and we were bathed and wearing our new pyjamas, we'd go to bed & find another little present on our pillows! Quite often this was a book, or a CD - perhaps a secret incentive to go to bed from our presents?!

Since my parents divorced & we have got older Christmas has differed - our first Christmas without Dad there we thought we'd do something different so instead we enjoyed Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day we had a big fry up!

Last year Matt & I had only lived in our first house for 6 days so we decided we wanted to spend Christmas there on our own - again very different. We spoiled ourselves and enjoyed lots of champagne & beef wellington!

This year we are spending the time split between my Mums & Matts Mums, but we are introducing something that will hopefully become a new tradition of going for a long walk wrapped up & calling into a pub on Christmas Eve afternoon.

I don't have many photos to hand, but below are a couple I do have. Look at the dodgy haircuts & decor!

My brother & I - no idea what year unfortunately!

My cousins, brother, Nan & Uncle (and me in the pink!)

My grandad, eldest cousin & me!
 
 

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Thursday, 22 November 2012

#WhatAreYouThankfulFor

In celebration of Thanksgiving Day 2012, I thought I would make a list of some of the many things I am thankful for:

- my truly incredible parents: of course without them, I wouldn't be here. I will be forever thankful to them for all of the love, support & encouragement they give me every day.

- my super fantastical husband: my soul mate & best friend. To him I am thankful for making me the happiest girl alive, particularly on 9th June 2012. I am thankful for all of things that he is and does. Without him, I would be nothing.

- my family and new (offical) inlaws: thankful to each and everyone of them for all of the things they do. Some of who travelled a few thousand miles to share our wedding day with us this year.

- my friends: "you win some, you lose some" 2012 has proved that those you thought were there through the good, the bad & the ugly simply aren't, and probably never were. It has also been a year of building solid friendships. I am thankful to my friends who all provide me with a fantastic network of support, love & fun. In particular, I am also thankful to have finally met a long standing friend Lauren recently

- my cousin: we may be millions (ok...thousands!) of miles apart geographically, but we find ways of being in contact practically 24/7 - I am so thankful of that bond we share.

- a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food on the table: through this recession, I am so thankful and proud to be able to live in such a lovely & cosy home that we can call our own... to have clothes on my back and food on the table.

- my job: ok, it's not my dream job (what's that?!) but I am an employee, and I am so very thankful to have been able to hold down a job through this financial mess we live in.

-  music Robbie Williams: I am thankful for Robbie Williams!! To put it simply.

- every new day: I am thankful for every day that I wake up

- my health: (touch wood) so far in my life I have had great health and have never had any procedures or been on any medication - long may this continue!

- the troops: I am thankful for the incredible job our troops do.

Happy Thanksgiving 2012


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Documenting Life..

A couple of weeks ago whilst at my Mums house I randomly decided to have a look through my Nans (Mums Mum) collection of  'Dairy Diaries'.
 
 
 
 
My lovely Nan passed away in January of 2005 and this was the first time since she died that I have looked through them. She had bought and used a 'dairy diary' for many many years, going as far back as when I was born... From memory, I think these diarys were bought from the milkman?!
 
It was so lovely to have a read through them and it brought back some amazing (and not-so-amazing) memories for me. Some of her entries were painful - in particular her final few months as at the time my parents were getting divorced and she often wrote about that, but a lot of them were reminders to me of all the little things that made her our special Nan. "baked chocolate brownies for Sarah today"... "had the family round for a Sunday roast" .... "went to pick up Sarah from the train station on her way home from University"
 
One thing that really stood out for me, was her penultimate entry (her final entry just so happened to be simply "had steak for dinner" which really makes me smile, as though she knew it would ber her 'last supper' so she quite rightly treated herself!!) but, the day previously had an entry "Sarah called on her way back to University" - although it may not sound like a big deal, to me it is. I like the fact that my Nan felt that conversation was worthy of being noted in her diary. I like the fact that we had that conversation, even though, unknowingly, that would be the last time we would speak. More than anything, I am so grateful that I ended that conversation with "I love you very much".
 
Some days my Nan would simply write "Walked Dudley" (her dog) or "baked cherry buns" - but reading through each year, day by day, is a very special reminder of my Nans life. I am thankful that my Nan wrote these diaries and gave us all something to look back on.
 
I hope that in time, my blog will become a similar tool for myself and my family to look back on too - a record of events, or days that could otherwise be lost in our memories.  

Friday, 9 November 2012

Memphis, TN {Flashback Friday}

One of the members of my family I am closest to lives on the other side of the big pond in Memphis, Tennessee. My cousin Milly.

This doesn't stop us emailing/whatsapp/facetiming/facebooking/tweeting each other almost every day though! The wonders of modern technology!

Our relationship grew to it's closest when Milly asked me to be her bridesmaid in November 2006. At the time I was at university and a very poor student! I was extremely fortunate in that my Dad paid for my flights & I was able to stay with the family while I was out there for the 10 days.

While we were over there it was Halloween (and boy do the Americans celebrate that!), Milly's husband-to-be Roberts Birthday, and there were also numerous 'Bridesmaid Luncheons' and 'Rehearsal Dinners' to attend, so it was a very full on & exciting trip. I had the best time 'hanging' out with my cousin and family, helping her prepare for her big day!

Being married myself now, it was interesting to see the differences between an English wedding & an American one.

It's hard to believe that was 6 years ago! So much has happened in those 6 years. Milly & Robert now have a 4 year old daughter Britton, who was my flower girl, and a 1 year old son Parker. We have also been lucky enough to see each other twice since their wedding - something we must keep this up despite the high flight costs.



 
There are usually tears when we have to say goodbye to each other!!
 
Happy 6th Wedding Anniversary Milly & Robert xox
 
 
 
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Thursday, 8 November 2012

Advent Tradition..

I know it is still only the 8th November and I still have another 23 sleeps before I can start using these, but... it's all about being prepared at Christmas time!
 
As a family growing up we had lots of traditions that I look back on with very fond memories. One of which being the chocolate advent calendar. Although I am now 27, this is a tradition my Mum has insisted on keeping and still likes to buy them for us.
 
Whilst visiting her last weekend we popped to the supermarket to see what selection they had. Being truly spoilt I only really like the Cadburys/Thorntons/Galaxy/Lindt ones. Unfortunately the particular store we were in only had Peppa Pig, Thomas the Tank Engine or some other childrens cartoon character!
 
Insisting that she buys us *something* I suggested that Matt & I start a new tradition in our home, to have material re-useable advent calendars. Originally I was only going to buy one that we could share, but then I decided that I would buy two so that we could pass them on to our children in years to come.
 
So Mum bought us lots of goodies to fill the pockets with which included Lindt Bells & Bears, Cadburys Buttons and Chocolate Coins.
 
The calendars arrived whilst I have been off sick this week, so of course I just had to see what they will look like on the back of the kitchen door!
 
They are now safely packed away again & I am looking forward to filling them up on the 30th November ready for the countdown to Christmas!

 
NB: I have no idea why the number '4' is back to front...?!?

Friday, 2 November 2012

Halloween {Flashback Friday}

With no children, no family and not really knowing our neighbours yet (don't we sound like recluses!) we decided we'd go out for dinner this year on Halloween.

In previous years I have dressed up whilst I was at uni, and I have a vague recollection of going to someones birthday/halloween party when I was younger, other than that it has never really been a big thing for me.

I do like the idea of having a party at home for children, so perhaps that is something we may do with ours one day..

My flashback Friday photo is from Halloween 2008. At the time, my Dad ran a pub in Wales and I took a few of my uni friends over there for the weekend to dress up & have fun.


You can tell I was a student... my outfit involved ripping a pair of tights & shaping a black bin liner into a dress!


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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

To have and to hold

Before I begin this post, I don't claim to be the perfect wife and nor do I wish to come across as a preaching know-it-all kind; this is merely a post of my thoughts and opinions!
 
Browsing Facebook yesterday I noticed another victim of adultery. A young couple with small children fallen victim to the stereotyped "he can't keep it in his pants" scenario.
 
It saddens me that this particular couple have only been married for around 6 months... (not that it is ANY of my business) but I wondered what went through their minds on their wedding day as they read out their vows?
 
We had a non-religious civil ceremony, but our vows were a variation of the traditional:
 
I _____, take you ______, to be my wedded wife/husband. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish 'till death do us part.
 
This is a promise made to each other, a legal binding. Surely you have to feel and believe in the words you are speaking?
 
I am not so naive to not realise that some marriages just do not work; but surely you owe it to each other to be honest and try to work things through?
 
If you're not happy; you're not happy. But why commit adultery and cause so much more hurt than is necessary? Think before you act - let your partner know you're not happy and you can't go on as you are.
 
"it takes two" - I appreciate all of that, I really do. Again though, TALK! Talk it through with your wife/husband about how & why you feel as you do.
 
I personally believe it is so important to remember the vows you read and promised on your wedding day. There are going to be good days, some bad days & some ugly days, but together you can get through them. There will be times of sickness & bad health, but together you work through them. To me, that's what a marriage is all about - working together.



Friday, 26 October 2012

Home {Flashback Friday}

This weekend a year ago, we were allowed to view inside what was to be our first bought home together.
 
We had been a little bit crazy, putting down a £500 deposit and starting the ball rolling with solicitors and paperwork, before we'd even seen the outside of our soon-to-be-home - let alone see the layout inside!!
 
You can read about that day here Make a House a Home (sneaky photo taken a couple of weeks later, over a fence as we weren't able to actually walk round to the house as it was fenced off by the builders)

I'm so glad we were a little bit crazy that day because I absolutely adore our first home together and we have already created lots of happy memories there.
 
It's hard to believe that we will have been living there a year on 19th December - time sure flies!
 
This is the photo of us just before we went inside for the first time:

 
 
 
I've linked this up to Flashback Friday
 
 
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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

My Week That Was.. Annual Leave

Today I returned to work after having 10 lovely days off. I'll be honest, I could quite easily become a lady of leisure, or at least a part time one!

We had a lovely long week of visiting family & friends, and also relaxing at home.

Saturday: M played golf with some work colleagues whilst I had a very long layin & caught up with TV programmes I'd recorded. I also got the food shopping and housework done out of the way. When M came home we relaxed on the sofa for the rest of the afternoon & evening ... a very lazy day for me!
 
Sunday: We woke up early as M wanted to watch the Grand Prix live (the things I do....) once that was finished with we spontaneously decided we'd drive over to Cambridge for coffee and a mooch about in the sunshine. I hadn't realised Cambridge was quite so close to us, at around 40 minutes. It had lots and lots of lovely shops too, so we plan to do our Christmas shopping there. M had a little bit of work to do in the afternoon so I decided to make some chocolate bonfire cupcakes! In the evening we cooked a delicious roast pork dinner.

Beautiful Sunny Cambridge
 
Chocolate Cupcakes - in the making


Monday: M had an appointment first thing Monday morning so we got up early & headed out the door with plans to spend the night at my Mums house then return home to ours on Tuesday. After M's appointment we visited my auntie who has since returned to Kaula Lumpur where my Uncle is working. It was nice to catch up with her as I have been a bad niece and not seen her since our wedding. Next stop was lunch with the mother in law - we decided to try a new Italian which turned out to be really nice.

Monday afternoon was spent with the very lovely Lauren . Very random (stalkery) story but Lauren and I have been 'online friends' for at least 6 or 7 years. Neither of us can quite remember how long. Lauren went to the same High School as a lot of my Middle School friends, so although we never actually went to school together, we had lots of friends in common. We became myspace/facebook/twitter (& now whatsapp!!) friends, chatting about alsorts and realised we had quite a lot in common. Over the years we have become closer and I have no idea why we left it until now to meet in person! I think both of us were pretty apprehensive about meeting, both almost cancelling on the other in the morning! I'm so glad we did meet though, Lauren is soooo lovely and I really wish we had gone to school together as I am positive we'd have been friends. I also got to meet her equally gorgeous boys too, who were so very well behaved and a total credit to Lauren. I hope we get to see more of each other now we have broken the ice!

Monday evening we enjoyed a lovely chicken & red wine slow cooked meal at my Mums.

Tuesday: We had planned on going to Essex for the day (guilty pleasure... please don't judge!!) to do a tour of the TOWIE boutique shops. Unfortunately the weather was pretty bad though so we didnt fancy walking around getting wet. Instead we stayed in our home town and went out for brunch with Matts mum to the 'Lighthouse Cafe' which is a known cafe in town for great breakfasts! I ashamedly had never been before.. it was well worth a visit. I also bumped into one of my old school friends & her baby in there, so that was an added bonus. After brunch we went for a lovely long walk along the seafront as the sun had decided to come out. We had planned on going back home at some point that day but decided to spend the night at Matts mums so that we could see the nephews and family, which we did.

Wednesday: Wednesday morning we took our 8 & 4 year old nephews to school in the rain and wind - that was an adventure! Something I guess I better get used to in time! It was nice to see their classrooms and teachers, and I think they enjoyed it too. After breakfast back at Matts mums we made our way home... after unpacking and doing the laundry, we spent the afternoon & evening on the sofa!
 
Lots of this was done this week : )
 
Thursday: We had no plans for Thursday.. we decided to head into our local town for coffee and to pick up a couple of presents to take over to my Dads the following day. We also stumbled upon our seriously bad taste cheesy Christmas jumpers which we are both super pleased about. We missed out on buying them last year as we left it too late. Thursday afternoon was spent tidying/cleaning/clearing/sorting out at home, we also packed for our weekend trip away.

Friday: Friday morning we got up early and left the house just after 8am to head to Wales to visit my Dad for lunch. We were having a great trip until we got to Reading services junction and got held up in an accident, we had to sit in standstill tailbacks for over an hour which set us back on our trip. We eventually arrived at my Dads around 1pm. Dad had made us lunch of jacket potatoes with a leek, bacon & creme fraiche filling, it was yummy! It was lovely to catch up with him, albeit a super quick visit. Friday evening we headed to Bristol to spend the evening & night with one of my great school friends Sarah & her husband. We enjoyed a chinese takeaway & drinks with them.

Saturday: After a lovely breakfast with Sarah & Mark we headed back down the M4 to Reading, our next destination. My university friend & ex-housemate Suzanna lives here with her boyfriend Tom (& giant house rabbit Eric!) a lunch date with 5 of us uni girls had been arranged since March. We usually try to meet twice a year in various places. Our last one was in London where we had decided we'd invite the boys along to our next one. So 10 of us girls & boys plus a 10month old baby girl went for a mexican lunch. It was lovely and so nice to catch up with everyone. Since we had last met, two of us had got married, one had had a baby (she couldnt come to the previous meet), others had had fantastic holidays to share with us so it was great to hear everyones news. It was also really lovely for all of our husbands/boyfriends/partners to meet too! They may be lucky enough to be invited along to the next one too!
 
Becca, Me, Suzanna


Sunday: Sunday morning after breakfast we went for a walk along the Thames to blow away the cobwebs! We then spent the afternoon in a pub watching football - well the boys did, Suzanna & I tested out the ciders and chatted away. In the evening we had a delicious roast duck with all the works and relaxed watching The American Pie, The Reunion film.
 
Suzannas infamous skin-on-roast-potatoes
 
Monday: Matt & I left Reading around 10am and headed back for home. After food shopping & laundry we spent my last afternoon of annual leave on the sofa and were in bed by 8pm shattered!
 
Matt & Eric

Eric

What a fantastic week! Sadly for me, M is off for the rest of this week too whilst I slave away at my desk. The downside of having different amounts of annual leave to take. Boo!!


Saturday, 13 October 2012

Chicken & Butternut Squash Stew {Recipe}

Last weekend we had my Mum & partner over for lunch. Trying to think of something different, yet simple to cook, I searched online for chicken slow cooker recipes.

I found: Chicken & Butternut Squash Stew on the BBC Food website.

It really was very simple, relatively cheap & tasty! We served it with mash & brocolli, and used chicken breast instead of thigh (as that's what we had in the freezer!)

Ingredients

  • 100g/3½oz plain flour
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 500g/1lb 2oz boneless, skinless chicken thigh, chopped into 2.5cm/1in pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 chillies, finely chopped
  • 175ml/6fl oz white wine
  • ½ butternut squash, peeled, chopped into 2.5cm/1in pieces
  • 300ml/10fl oz chicken stock
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 tbsp crème fraîche
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • small handful chopped fresh parsley

Preparation method

  1. Sprinkle the flour onto a plate.
  2. Heat half of the oil in a frying pan, dredge the chicken pieces in the flour and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until browned all over. (You may need to brown the chicken in batches.) Tip the browned chicken into the slow cooker.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for five minutes, then add the garlic and chilli and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and continue to cook for another few minutes, or until the volume of the liquid is reduced by half.
  4. Tip the onion mixture into the slow cooker.
  5. Add the butternut squash, chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves to the slow cooker. Stir everything together, pressing down so that everything is covered in liquid. Cook for 8-10 hours on low.
  6. About 30 minutes before serving, stir in the crème fraîche and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a further 30 minutes, then stir in the parsley.

  7.  
 
 
 
 

Friday, 12 October 2012

Holiday {Flashback Friday}

As soon as the clock strikes 5pm this afternoon, I am officially on Annual Leave and won't be back in the office until Tuesday 23rd October.

This will be the first Annual Leave I have taken since we got back from honeymoon on June 27th, so it made me think back to our lovely week in the Egyptian sun!

We stayed at the Sensatori Resort in Sharm-El-Sheikh. I was a bit worried about going in all honesty as I had stupidly read trip advisor reviews after booking the honeymoon (!!) We hadn't intended on booking it the day that we did, it was a spur of the moment booking. The reviews moaned about tiles misplaced, Egyptian belly, lack of hygiene etc etc. Wanting something pretty-close-to-perfect for our honeymoon, I came close to trying to either cancel or change our booking.

However as time passed we got wrapped up in last minute wedding prep and decided to go along with our choice - I'm so glad we did!!

Despite Matt spending one day with severe Egyptian belly, and having to visit the onsite doctor to be put on several drips (very scary!!), we had the most amazing week together. We did nothing but sunbathe, eat & drink! We didn't even leave the resort once in the whole 7 days we were there. The week absolutely flew by but we came back feeling completely relaxed, which was what we wanted.

All of those little things people moaned about on trip advisor went un-noticed by us. If tiles missing from the bottom of the swimming pool are all they have to complain about - then I think they're doing pretty well!

Drinks were brought to us all day long as we laid by the pool; nothing was too much trouble for the pool boys & staff of the hotel.

We both agreed that although we would definately go back to the resort, there are too many other places in the world we'd also like to visit, so probably wouldn't go back there anytime soon.



 
 
I'm linking this post up to flashback friday
 
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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

In My Bag I Put..

Today was one of those days where I receive a reminder of a special moment in my life..

Summer of 2009, the day that Matt first said the words "I love you".

We were on Lowestoft beach - one of the places we often went to when we met up on lunchbreaks 'back in the day'. This is not physically possible now due to our new jobs so I always think of them as great memories.

That particular evening we had decided to go for a walk after dinner and Matt took me down near the shoreline and told me how happy he was, and that.... he loved me! It was really rather special.

Before we left the beach, I picked up a shell. I now keep this shell in an inside pocket of my handbag as a reminder of that moment in our relationship.

My Mum bought me a new handbag for my Birthday this year, so when I did the transfer of contents from my old bag to new one, of course the shell was moved safely too.

It's not a particularly beautiful shell, but to me, it holds a lovely memory.


Friday, 5 October 2012

Chocolate & Caramel {Foodie Photo Friday}

I know my last weeks post was also a sponge, but how could I resist showcasing this absolutely amazing cake my friend made for me as a belated birthday cake?!

I used to work with her 6 years ago, hadn't seen her since, but she is now seeing one of my school friends, so we all met up on Sunday. After an equally amazing roast dinner, I was presented with this cake!! It was so so thoughtful of her.

A 3 tiered chocolate & caramel extravaganza:

First Meeting {Flashback Friday}

This weeks Flashback Friday theme is 'First Meeting' and it has been suggested I blog about mine & Matt's first meeting.

As many people found out on our Wedding Day (thanks to Matts speech!), we didn't quite meet in the way that we  I had told people that we had originally!

You see, a lot has changed in the last 3 & 1/2 years in terms of social media and the way that we use the internet (can you see where this is going yet...?!)

Back in spring of 2009, the term 'internet dating' was still a taboo subject. A place where 'desperate' people met who were incapble of meeting people in real life situations.

Although I had my doubts & concerns about meeting strangers from online, I was very careful & cautious of who I struck up conversation with. Yes, you are bound to receive messages from the opposite sex who are looking for nothing other than the predicted, and yes you will see people who have possibly not left their house for the past 50 years, or who haven't had a real life conversation since they were 10, but, you will also meet like minded people who enjoy similar things to you & have a similar outlook on life.

I came out of a long (ish) relationship when I finished university and decided it felt right to move back home to Suffolk and move in with my Mum until I had established what & where my life was headed. Unfortunately for me I graduated right at the beginning of the recession so jobs & mortgages were something of the impossible. I was fortunate to find a temp job that paid ok and made local friends that I could socialise with in the evenings and weekends.

I spent about 10 months going out every Friday and/or Saturday night to the local pubs and winebars, and although I enjoyed spending time with my new found friends, and also seeing school friends I'd lost touch with, I would see the same faces every single week (they probably thought that about me too!)

Around this time too, I had also lost quite a bit of weight so was feeling positive & confident in myself. Perhaps thats what gave me the push to start meeting 'strangers' who I had spoken to online!

After meeting one guy from Peterborough, and having a really nice day out with him, we decided the distance was too great and left it at that. A month or so of 'weirdo' messages past and I was beginning to give up hope of meeting someone. Until.... (neither of us can sadly remember who sent the first message!) we got talking! Really sadly the first few days are a blur and I can't remember how long we messaged for before we gave each other our phone numbers or anything like that - although I do remember we'd both agreed that through previous experiences it was better to meet sooner than to 'waste' time having an online relationship to then find that in person you don't get on! The more I spoke to him, the more I found out we had things in common: both of my parents worked with his mum in M&S years ago; we knew friends in common; he lived at home with his mum about a 5 min drive from my mums house; and the weirdest connection was that he used to go out with my old next door neighbour, who's dad was my doctor! So there were plenty of connections which made me feel safe & made me realise he is a 'real' person!

We agreed to meet up on 10th June 2009 (hence why we chose our wedding date as 9th June 2012). From previous experiences, I didn't like being the person who had to get out of the car first when it was time to go home as I felt like it was down to me whether I gave a kiss or not... so, I offered to pick him up & drive to Norwich for our first date!

That evening, our "first meeting" we went to a couple of pubs and spent the evening talking like old friends, no awkwardness at all. I can remember leaving the last pub on the walk back to the car, and him putting his arm out for me to loop arms with him, which made my heart bounce around in my chest!!

We talked all the way home too, and although it was getting late & it was a week night I really didn't want the evening to end! When we arrived outside his house, I pulled over & he kissed me on the cheek. He had already text me by the time I had got home (5mins away....hehehe) saying what a lovely evening he'd had, and that he hoped we could do it again sometime soon.

9 months later we moved into a rented flat together
14 months later we got engaged
30 months later we bought our first house together
36 months later we got married




August 2009 - the first photo I have of us together


June 2012 - our wedding day

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Last minute plans

When I say last minute, I mean 3 days notice! To us, that is last minute!!

To those that know us, they will know that we are super organised. That's how we plan our life.. we like to have a plan. Don't get me wrong, we're not regimental about it, but we like to know in advance what we are doing so can have a rough plan & be able to put aside money where necessary. It works for us.

We meal plan, we budget plan, we holiday plan and we forward plan (I'm sure all of these may change once children are involved!)

Up until 8am this morning our plan for this weekend was as follows:

Friday evening:
Gym followed by slow cooker chicken stroganoff

Saturday:
Matt work in the morning, followed by a haircut
Food shopping/butcher
PJ/duvet afternoon & evening (something we haven't done in a LONG time)

Sunday:
Go to Norwich to collect our wedding album & prints first thing
Matt go to the driving range & have a golf lesson at lunchtime
Lazy Sunday afternoon

Everything changed at 8am this morning when I received a text from my Mum asking what our plans were for this weekend as she was "going through a phase of really missing my family". So of course how could I deny her spending time with the child that lives closest to her? My brother lives down on the South Coast - not somewhere you can visit for the day!

So now our Sunday plans have changed to incorporate my Mum & partner coming to visit, which will be lovely. This, however, throws our 'plans' out of the window. We hadn't 'planned' on having guests to feed on Sunday. What can we cook? Do we go out to eat? Can we afford to do that with our annual leave week coming up? How do we fit it in around Matts golf lesson that is already booked?!

We decided the easiest option was to cook something at home. We are going to make a 'Chicken and Butternut Squash Stew' in the slow cooker, which I found on the BBC food website. We've never made it before, but hope that it is tasty!





We'll also suggest going out for a walk somewhere either before or after lunch. Although we have been in our house 10 months, we haven't done a great deal of venturing out around the local area. It's beginning to feel really autumnal outside, so I'm looking forward to getting wrapped up and going exploring!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Comfort

It's Monday, it's raining. I am tired, I have a cold & I have eczema on my eyelid - all familiar signs of me doing too much, not taking enough 'time out' and feeling a little run down.

Tonight I will be fixing that.

This morning I prepared & made one of my favourite comfort meals. It's something that my Mum used to make when I was little, and one of the things I used to make quite a bit whilst I was at university and missing home.

I warn you, it's not very attractive, or glam, and infact my husband calls it a "deconstructed cottage pie" !!

On Saturday the postman delivered a package for me. When I opened it, it was a book from a very thoughtful & lovely friend who had picked up on a comment I had made to her in a previous conversation about never understanding how men work!! I have been wanting to find time to sit down & have a read of it all weekend but didn't get the chance.

When the clock strikes 5pm this afternoon, my evening will consist of:

Racing home (as safely as possible!)
Removing make-up/washing face
Putting on pj's
Heating & serving bowls of said dinner
Curling up on the sofa with a throw over me
Eating said dinner
Spending the rest of the evening on the sofa with my nose buried in said book

If that doesn't sort me out back to scratch, I don't know what will!

Thank you Lauren for my fabulous Birthday present xxx




 
+

 
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a very happy & restored me!

Friday, 28 September 2012

27

Thanks (very much) to the leap year, this year my Birthday fell on a Monday. This was the last year I will ever spend my Birthday at work, I made a vow to book it as holiday every year after. This is because after having spent an amazing weekend with my husband and family, I walked into work on Monday morning to my boss being in a foul mood & putting a dampner on my Birthday day immediately.

Having said that, my wonderful husband definately resolved that by taking me out for a delicious mexican/latin american meal followed by a trip to the local theatre to watch the touring production of Grease.





I have watched the film many, many, many (many, many, many) times before, seen the show in London, and I also played Frenchie in the school production about 10 years ago! It's safe to say it is one of my all time favourites! I was a bit worried about whether Matt would enjoy it but he was soon tapping his toes & joining in with the clapping!

One of the other highlights of the weekend was my first every 'wife' card, I loved seeing that in print!






Tiered Sponge {Foodie Photo Friday}

For my first attempt at linking up to Foodie Photo Friday, I have decided to use a photo of this rather yummy sponge cake my mother in law made. I really wanted her to make one as our wedding cake, but at the time she didn't have the confidence. I think it look pretty amazing though! Definately tasted it too!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Crazy Kitchen

I want...

I have been tagged by the lovely Lauren (Real Houswife of Suffolk) in a new meme - bare with me, this is my first attempt at a tag/meme/linky !!

In Laurens words: "The concept is to basically write the things you want. From simple things to the more ridiculous. Anything goes"

I want...

1. A job that I enjoy and get satisfaction from
2. A healthy and happy family
3. All of my family that live away to all live within an hour of me so I can visit more often
4. Another sunny all inclusive holiday with my husband before we have children
5. More time to be able to spend with those that I love
6. To be able to lose weight without falling at the first hurdle
7. To enjoy the gym (!!!)
8. Children of our own, when the time is right
9. To be able to control my OCD over cleaning/things being in the "right" place
10. To not be such a "moodymoosewife" too often
11. Nicer shaped fingers that aren't splodgy at the top and then end in a point at my fingernails
12. To go out for dinner and not put on 28lbs just by looking at the menu
13. An endless supply of pink fizz
14. To relive our wedding day
15. Local friends that can pop round for a cup of tea
16. My student loan debt to disappear
17. Permanent gel nails
18. To be taller
19. A memory bank of all of my favourite memories so far
20. My life as it is... I love it!


I tag my cousin Milly and anybody else who would like to join in!

Daddy's Girl.. {Flashback Friday}

This time last week I was completely oblivious to the fact that my husband and Dad had been having secret conversations and had planned for my Dad to be sitting on our sofa when I got home from work!

Insignificant to some, but to me this was amazing and truly special!

You see my Dad lives in Wales, a whole 231 miles away from me. He has lived there for almost 10 years, since my parents divorced and I don't get to see him anywhere near as much as I'd like to.

I appreciate relationships & marriages don't always work, but I never like to see children suffer from their parents breakdowns. One of our neighbours is a single Dad (I don't know any details) but I always love to watch when his young daughter, who can only be primary school age, comes to visit. He has her stay over at least 2 or 3 nights during the week and at the weekends too, it is so lovely to watch them play and bond together, sharing Daddy and Daughter time.

My situation is slightly different in that I was 18, at university, when my parents split up. It wasn't a case of going to visit him after school, it was a trip at weekends from university in Portsmouth. At the time I was geographically a lot closer & it was easier to visit my Dad from there. Once university finished though, I moved back "home" to where I grew up in Suffolk and the geographical distance between me & Dad grew again. It became ever more difficult to visit him whilst I was looking for work - lack of money for petrol and waiting around for interviews.

Since then I have only managed to see him a maximum of 3-4 times a year. A far cry from the first 18 years of my life where I saw him every evening and every weekend.

I would give anything to have my Dad living closer to us, but understand why he is there for work and that he is now settled and loves the little village he lives in.

As silly as it sounds I really loved doing "normal" things with Dad last weekend like drinking tea & reading the papers at home! Things you'd take for granted living in a family home all together.

We had a lovely evening on the Friday - Matt made a yummy chilli which we enjoyed with a bottle of champagne given to us on our wedding day, and lots of wine! We ended up chatting round the table in to the evening.

Saturday Matt had to work so Dad and I went out for a lazy breakfast and then headed to a garden centre as he wanted to buy me some bits for the garden for my birthday. Wandering around the garden centre Dad taught me lots about the different bulbs and plants - when to plant, how much sun they like, how often to water, how deep to plant them. It was so nice to hear him talk about his hobby and to pass on his knowledge! We then went back to our house, drank tea, relaxed, read the papers and waited for Matt to come home.

Before we took him back to the train station we decided to go for a drink in a pub garden by the river as the sun had come out.

I was really sad to leave him at the station, luckily I had sunglasses on!

It really was a perfect 24 hours. I love my Dad xxxxx



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 I'm linking this up with Flashback Friday:


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