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
 
 
laurensflashbackbadge1

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
 
laurensflashbackbadge1

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




 
+

 
=
 
a very happy & restored me!