Wednesday, 30 November 2016

I Just Got Used To It Being 2016!

Well last night was probably the coldest of the winter so far, and Teen Two was so excited to see the lake at the top of our road frozen, he phoned me to tell me as he walked to college!
I really loved the fact he wanted to share that exciting news with me, isn't it great living in a day when technology allows that?
The above is a library photo, so it wasn't quite as frozen as that this morning...
...when I passed it later the ice was still just about visible, but the birds had found some water to finally settle on.
Today is of course.....a very exciting day....the day before December!
The Teens LOVE December!
It brings so many good things into our lives, treats, parties at church, get togethers at home, the end of term, meeting up with family we haven't seen for ages, and of course THE BIG DAY and the ending of the year.
Even Teen Two said " I cant believe its almost December...I just got used to it being 2016!"
Oh how I know that feeling!

I had to nip into town for a few things and saw this poncho/wrap reduced to a fiver!
I bought two on the off chance that Teen One might like one as well... and if not her then I was sure one of my friends would like it for walking out in the woods.
As it turns out Teen One took a fancy to it.
Great bargain that's for sure!
I called into Tesco on the way home to take a look at the trees, not really expecting to come out with one...but that is just what I did!
Having seen it set up, it looked really nice, much better than ones I had seen at The Range yesterday and way cheaper....just £45.
I hope the Teens will forgive me!
I don't usually make myself "proper" lunch when I am alone, but in the supermarket car park someone had dropped a pack of avocados.
Noone was insight so I couldn't reunite them, so I brought them home instead!
Toasted malted bread, with avocado and poached egg...what a decadent treat!
With a quiet afternoon ahead of me, I decided to re-do the Christmas had set...ish...
and whilst I prefer soft set, it was a little too soft, and also lacking in fruit I thought.
So I added a packet of dried apricots and let it boil away...
...its much richer in colour and I am pretty sure will set well, it made one and a half less jars than before, so has reduced considerably and that's probably all I needed to do on Monday.
I then had the syrupy mixture I had taken out of the pan on Monday, to think about using up...there was no way I was going to throw it away....but what to do with it?
I then had the bright idea of adding it to a cup of coffee....and what a revelation that was!
It was soooo delicious, I had to have another cup straight off!
I don't enjoy sugar in my coffee, but do like flavoured syrups when I am out having a Costa etc....
well why no one has thought of this one before is beyond me!
Cranberry and Orange flavoured coffee is right up there believe me.....
...or maybe don't!
I gave some to Hubby when he came home...he thought it was awful!!
And he likes sugar in his coffee, so it wasn't the sweetness he objected to, he thought the sharpness of the orange was not a good combination with the however...well you know what I think....
these two dinky bottles can be my  secret treat!
Although I might have to share them with Teen One...she thought her drink was "OK."
With only one day to go until the Advent season is upon us, it was time to put out the annual treats for the Teens....firstly the advent them each evening to count down the days till the BIG DAY....
...they are thick and fun ones this year...we bought them in Tiger.....we have long since stopped having one for the Teens to take turns as one or the other of them would get engrossed in the evening activities and forget to blow it this way if one forgets the other doesn't have to be short changed!
This  one above is Teen Two's.....
...and this is Teen One's.
Tomorrow morning will  see the other Teen Treat start...never too old for Advent Calendars!
Teen Two rang on his way home from college to say the pond was still frozen, and was it ok to stay and play with it for a while...he has always loved breaking up ice!
So, aside from a brief break to help a pensioner catch her little dog who had runaway, he spent a happy hour or so at the top of the road, breaking ice...and bringing home a souvenir!
It looked like a sheet of glass and of course could cut like glass, so I was glad he had gloves on!
We have left it by the wall and expect it to still be intact in the morning.
Tomorrow will no doubt see the boxes of deccies come down and I will as usual think to myself
"Is it really a year since we last did this!"

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Daring To Break With Tradition!

This is Teen One's last week on her school placement, so my last opportunity to surprise Teen Two with a special brekkie....this time I chose the hot chocolate option with the meal deal....what a cute cup and what a happy Teen Two!
It's great to be able to start his morning off with a surprise!
I have offered to buy Teen One a drive thru brekkie on the way to school, but she hasn't taken me up on the offer yet.
Once home I made some soup to take to our family friend, and this time I added extra thai her request ( I did ask if she would like it spicier) and I have to say, it was too much for me...I hope it was ok for her!
I called into Lidl's on the way and picked up some of their brioche with roasted red pepper and cream cheese toppings....hope they enjoy them, I know we do!
When I gave her the sticky date loaf as well she said "wow... I was going to say, don't bring me soup this week, make me a cake instead, I haven't had homemade cake in ages...but thought it was too cheeky!" So needless to say she was delighted with my gift.
We managed to chat for a couple of hours without drawing breath ( no surprise to anyone who knows us!) and also catch up with what the builders have been doing in the week...its slow but steady progress.
She has told them she wants the kitchen habitable before Christmas....don't you just love it when you can give workmen ultimatums!
Not something you can give to a Hubby!
This winter I have noticed a really chilly draught coming through from the conservatory to the living room, so on my way home I called in to The Range to buy a draught excluder....this little chap will also cheer the place up...and probably the nearest I will get to owning a Radley item!
I looked round the Christmas section whilst there and was quite giddy with the choice!
So many lovely things and for every colour option!
Not that we need any decorations but its always nice to have a look.
I am trying to persuade everyone to make the switch from a real tree to an artificial one....the Teens aren't that keen and Teen Two said " you mean a fake tree??!"
Its more the ending of a tradition than the change of tree that they aren't keen on, we have traditionally chosen the tree together and they have helped carry it home since they were old enough to walk...but they are getting so expensive, it seems silly for a few weeks....not to mention the hassle real trees bring.
Dare I break with tradition I wonder!
Back home, there was just enough time to do a bit of housework before cooking dinner....smoked cod risotto....which the Teens thought look very bright and cheerful!

Monday, 28 November 2016

Why Do I Always Go Off Piste!

It was lovely to see the sunshine today, even if it was freezing cold!
Teen Two and I went to see my Monday Recycled Teenager as usual, and in Morrisons saw these crumpets...ideal for Christmas Day brekkie I thought!
One of the highlights of these otherwise mundane trips to the supermarket, for Teen Two, is picking something from the hot deli!
Today he chose a gammon rack, which I must say smelt wonderful as he was munching it in the car!
He gave me a little taster...mmm was it sweet and succulent!
He must get this passion for stripping meat bones till they are clean, from his great maternal grandmother, as his dad leaves more meat on than he takes off if he ever has the misfortune to be presented with a bone with his meal!
Teen Two has the leg of the roast chicken, and yesterday you would have thought the bones had been through the dishwasher!
This afternoon I decided to try and make some festive marmalade using the pile of oranges I bought last week.
This pretty bubbly froth filled the house with the most wonderful aroma!
Even Teen Two came out to ask what the lovely smell was!
I have bottled up five jars, but am not convinced it is going to set...tomorrow will be the telling point.
I was using a basic recipe and then adding some cranberries, but the recipe said three pints of water, which seemed way too much to me, so I only added two and then still thought it looked too much, so took out a who knows if the sugar ratio ended up correct!
If not, it can all go back in the pan and I will add some more fruit, as basically I think that's what it was lacking if I am honest.
I just can't follow a recipe precisely can I...always going off piste!
I also made the sticky date cake from last week....this time using the right ratio of dates, and the wholemeal flour I was lacking last week.
I made a little sample loaf and as you can see have been sampling it already and its definitely better for having the wholemeal flour.
These two are destined as presents tomorrow, Hubby hopes to visit the Teddy Bear Man and I hope to visit our family friend who had the op, again.
Whilst I was busy in the kitchen, I asked Teen Two to vacuum downstairs for me....he did a way more thorough job than I had out the fireplace ( which only holds decorative stuff in the dining room) of the occasional debris which falls down the chimney...which is something I have to do regularly...but it wasn't something I had expected him to notice needed doing!
Such a good lad!
His dad and his sister would have happily done exactly as I asked...but he is the only one who notices the things I haven't asked and does them anyway.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Blue Potatoes? Whatever Next!

Today being Sunday it was  as you know, church first thing... know the next bit...
...roast dinner followed by...
Rummikub and Scrabble of course...
...although I did manage to get in a spot of knitting... and it wasn't socks!
Although I am DESPERATE to get on with the second sock, I really really have to get something made for the new baby due soon.
Quite why a middle aged woman who has been knitting for 45 years had to unpick a simple garter stitch baby jacket, not once but twice, is beyond belief!
Milly's new sleeping place is on the wall cabinet, I have been trying to dissuade her, but today finally gave up and moved the couple of ornaments that were there, so she has more space to snuggle up...crazy cat!
Teen One and I saw these crisps reduced in Tesco the other week...and they just had to be tried!
They are made from naturally blue potatoes!
I wasn't prepared for the deep blue I must say!
I also wasn't prepared for how nice they were!
A slightly different texture to regular crisps....only slightly, but enough for me to prefer them.
They were lightly salted, which made them even better, I don't like the usual heavily salted crisps and don't bother having them  as a rule ( Pringles excluded!)
Whether I would pay the full £2 a bag is debatable...I like more for my money if I am honest, but they were certainly worth the experience and not to say the look on Grandma's face when we handed them round!
She refused to try one at first, but once she plucked up the courage was smitten as well!
I made a swiss roll first thing this morning, I couldn't make my mind up what to fill it with, ginger preserve or lemon did both! One side had ginger...
...and the other half had the lemon curd...mind you it didn't make it any easier for the family, they all had trouble deciding which side to choose!

Saturday, 26 November 2016

A Little Mystery

Today we were up early to drive down to Bournemouth, an annual trek to get the Sunday school prizes.
Hubby and I have been making this journey for at least 35years and of course for the past  16-18years we have had the Teens with us, at their various stages of developments.
I have spent hours wondering round the local ELC to keep Teen Two amused whilst Hubby scoured through the bookshelves, matching books to names.
We have gone beach combing in the freezing cold, spent hours at the local water pump play area, kicked through the leaves of a nearby Country Park, but now....
...we just need to ply them with food!
A visit to Pizza Hut has become the new tradition, much easier!
Whilst we waited for the food to arrive we enjoyed a game of Uno...
... enjoying the seaview
Teen Two ordered an Oreo milkshake, which looked disturbingly like a cockroach smoothie from
"I'm A Celebrity!"
We then hit the local galleries and were mesmerised by a set of 3D paintings that appeared to move as you moved....very peculiar...and very clever!
On our way back to the car, we passed a cupcake café...with a window full of tempting delights...
which we decided we wouldn't pass by (like I said...we just need to ply them with food these days!)
It worked out cheaper to buy 6, so we went for Rocky Road, Ferrer Rocher,
Mince Pie, Battenburg, Gingerbread, Cherry Bakewell.
The worst part about this day out, is returning to the car has the most incredibly steep steps ever!
This is one third of it, by the time we get to the top our legs are like lead and we are completely out of breath!
I spent the journey to and from Bournemouth with my latest addiction with me...
the downside to knitting with DPN's in a car is its easy to drop a stitch off the end without realising!
I had got on so well with the knitting that I was pretty sure I was ready for the toe shaping...only one way to find out...try it on!
Not sure what passing motorists thought!
Part of our journey home is through the New Forest, we decided to  make a detour off the main road and drive through the Forest, in search of the famous ponies...and it didn't take long to find some...
...they are very used to visitors and it was funny to see how as soon as they heard the sound of a window being wound down, they came straight over!
Sadly we had no food for them.
This one stayed by the car for ages...we wondered if he was enjoying the heat from the bonnet maybe.
We enjoyed a quiet half hour or so, listening to the neighing and munching of the scrubland... well as the antics of this cheeky robin.
Sadly the light was fading fast on an over cast day so not ideal for capturing wildlife pictures.
We returned home to a little mystery...
yesterday I ordered a book on Ebay...I had looked at the same book on Amazon and put it in my "basket" but didn't actually pay for it, as I noticed it was going to cost me £2.99 standard postage and was fairly sure I could get it free P&P on Ebay.
I paid for the Ebay order and deleted the Amazon order.
Today this arrives!
Having checked my Amazon order history, it was not on the list...weird or what!
I must say, WHOEVER sent it, it came very quickly as I only ordered it 4pm last night!
Maybe the Ebay seller has a Prime account and buys things via Amazon, and that way doesn't have to keep stock themselves? No idea!
With a pot of tea made and the woodburner lit, its time to sit back and relax for a bit, with those scrummy cupcakes!