celebrations, drEAming, fEAsting, general chit chat, mEAndering, out and about

on safari…

How lucky were we today with the weather.

We had arranged to meet at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park near Doncaster to celebrate Little L’s third birthday (which is actually Tuesday) and of course my elder daughter and partner’s 1st Wedding Anniversary with as many of the family that could make it – my sister, hubby and daughter, my brother and mum, younger daughter and her partner – twelve of us in all – I think.

If you remember a year ago our elder daughter was married in Scotland near to our cottage on the Castle Kennedy estate where her granddad was once head gardener.  We had a lovely sunny day then and it stayed fine for us today –

Castle Kennedy Gardens

see more pictures here.

I cannot believe it is a year since we were celebrating their marriage and putting on such a big event – at least todays event was more manageable once we had all the family in one place!

We eventually found each other in the Lion car park (thank goodness for mobiles – though I mistakenly rang my sister-in-laws number instead of my brothers – she is in Spain – costly mistake!) and headed for the picnic area taking up 3 picnic tables to have our lunch.  Of course isn’t it always the case that everyone else’s picnic always looks inviting!  My brother had taken a full Sunday lunch for himself (not a roast but an individual Quiche with new potatoes and salad) his cool bag was larger than anyones!


We had all the trimmings as one should for a little girls 3rd birthday with a wild life theme – a pretty flamingo dress, raspberry jelly, a jungle table-cloth, animal paper hats, animal paper plates,

pink flamingo straws,

a monkey and

a monkey chocolate cake with 3 candles.

Given the windy conditions it is a miracle we ever got them alight!

With my family it is difficult snapping a photo of us all together at one time so as usual some of us are missing on this photo and so are the paper hats that everyone was made to wear!

After lunch we followed the trail around the park to see the Leemar…


and my favourites – the Giraffes…



Finally a much needed cup of tea in the Masai cafe to revive our feet and a final wave goodbye to the animals.

And all too soon the end of a perfect day (isn’t life just so exciting when you are only 3!) – after a quick head count to make sure that no-one had been left behind or eaten by a wild animal and a few Polaroid selfie shots with all the family this time – elder daughter and partner then drove off into the sunset to spend their anniversary night in a more romantic setting of a hotel in the dales – needless to say the family will not be joining them – though I did suggest it LOL!


beach cottage, bEAching, drEAming, general chit chat, holidays, mEAndering

home for a rest…

Back home from our two-week holiday and break in Scotland at the cottage – you may have noticed my absence.  The weather in our part of Scotland (the South West corner) has been absolutely glorious – so many hot sunny days and blue skies – who needs to go abroad!

Thank you to everyone for your recent comments on my previous posts –  I was not ignoring you all I have no internet connection at the cottage and so am oblivious to life in the rest of the world. I would normally reply to your comments but time is a bit scarce at the moment as I have a lot of catching up to do both in the house and in blogland so please accept this general acknowledgement.

Whilst we were on holiday (which I will write about in another post) I had my birthday, and also a funeral to attend  – not on the same day but close.  The call to say that OH’s uncle from the Scottish side of the family had unexpectedly passed away came as we were enjoying the first day of our holiday but being close to Kilmarnock (82 miles up the road from our cottage) we decided it would be fairly easy to attend the funeral.

Not everyone gets to go to a funeral on holiday and like most people we had not packed clothes for such an occasion so we had no option but to go in our holiday attire – the best we could do was black jeans each, a suitable top for me and dark t-shirt and jumper for OH and yes as you can imagine we did stand out from the crowd who were quite soberly and traditionally dressed, the men in black suits, white shirts and black ties and the women black dresses or skirts, but the family did not mind rather they were pleased to see us.

The funeral director and staff did however show a look of horror once or twice especially when the announcer called for any family members to enter the crematorium chapel first and we stepped forward – until then it was probably thought we were just passers-by!

Being on holiday for my birthday does mean I have spent a lot of my day today opening cards and presents and answering messages.  So back to the unpacking now as it is work again for me tomorrow.

I will just leave you with a few holiday snaps…


Kipford and Rockcliffe 

Ardwell Walled Gardens

Broadstones Stranraer

Across Agnew Park Stranraer



crEAting, handmade cards

A productive crafternoon…

The weekend before last I made some cards for my friends birthdays partly to save money on bought cards but mostly because handmade cards are so much nicer to receive.

My ‘Art’ cards are based on a concertina theme – almost like a mini artists book.

Autumn Leaves Card

For the one above I incorporated a beautiful photo my hubby took by the lake at Corsock House in Scotland and illustrated a poem about leaves with differing typefaces and some pressed leaves .

Peters card 2

This was a similar theme of Autumn with a pencil sketch I did many years ago of a Beech leaf

again illustrating a poem called ‘O hushed October morning mild’ by Robert Frost.

Butterfly Card 2

The Butterfly card is more on the craft side and made from  butterfly shapes

stamped out with a punch and stuck onto a printed stock paper with a few scattered stick on jewels to add sparkle  and finished with a Happy Birthday stamp.  I have made quite a few of these recently – I almost had a little production line going in my craft room.


This card was made from a  print of a water colour sketch I did of some very pretty Alstoemeria that I received from a friend for my birthday.

I had quite a productive afternoon and great fun exploring new ideas – I just wish I had more time.

You may also like to read

Christmas 2012
Homemade Christmas Cards 2012
celebrations, fEAsting

A week of celebrations…

What a lot of catching up to do when you have been away, I notice that everyone in blogland has been busy writing and posting profusely and it will take me some time to visit you all and catch up on the news – I feel quite out of touch.

I have so much happening at the moment that I couldn’t possibly write about it all but the most pressing thing is our office move tomorrow.

A different room on a different floor with a different view.  Change is always challenging and for us it will mark the end of an era after 7 years in the same place and we are not sure whether we should have a leaving do or a ‘room’ warming in the new place, whichever we decide on we have already got ourselves a stash of chocolate goodies to get us through the day.

Of course there is always one person who decides to be difficult and through her own very selfish actions has made the move a bit of a nightmare.  What a shame the management wouldn’t give her an office space of her own (which we believe to be the reason for the awkwardness) as we also would have welcomed it rather than have to work with someone who is going to complain and be obnoxious all the time like she has been for the last few weeks.

But less of the moaning it is not all doom and gloom as I will continue to share an adjoining desk space with my colleague, who does the same job as me and is a really good work mate, and we will get through this together just as we have weathered everything else over the last 12 years.  They don’t call us Hinge and Bracket for nothing!  We have become inseparable and really have fun working together.

On the brighter side I have managed to fit in quite a bit of partying over the last few days.  Last Thursday night we went to my friend’s daughters 18th birthday celebration, a gathering of close friends and family and it was so nice to relax and chat over a little wine, a few nibbles and some gorgeous cake on a week night.

Birthday Goodies

This was repeated again on Sunday when we attended my Russian niece’s babies 1st Birthday party in Pooh Bear style.  It was a lovely time for all our family to get together, have a good natter and catch up – and just like Tiggers it is what we do best!

Cake Pops

These were the delightful Honey Bee cake pops she had made using yellow chocolate – I didn’t even know you could buy yellow chocolate!  Don’t you just love those wonky grins!  We came away with goodie bags full of jelly beans, dolly mixtures and flying saucers – much more fun than the grown ups parties and I am still humming and singing all those Pooh Bear songs at work this week.

Have a great Wednesday.

crafts, crEAting

60th Birthday Bash…

The Error Horror

Last night we went to a 60th Birthday Party of a dear friend of mine who also happens to be my boss at work!  I was sure I already had a card with 60 on it but when I came to find it in my card box – I was mistaken and to my horror it had a great big 50 on it!!!

The Idea

However, all was not lost as I decided there was nothing to it but to get out my crafting tools and make one.  It has given me chance to use my newly acquired Vintage Numbers stamp set that I bought as a present to myself from Paperchase.  They really are wonderful to use and although I thought pricey at the time the quality of the stamp is very precise and nice to work with.  The set comes with a pad of black ink.

The Task

As I only had 30 minutes to come up with a finished product I had to keep to something very simple.  So after a bit of a play around I settled on stamping the 6 ad 0 different ways on a piece of white card.  I then cropped close in to the print keeping it a good square shape, then mounted this onto black card just slightly bigger to give it a finished edge and then mounted the whole thing centrally onto a bright purple card and voila!

The Finished product

I thought it was quite in keeping both with his party invite which was done in that ‘Ransom Note’ style and the dress code which was ‘Bright’.

The Temptation

I might even be tempted now to buy the vintage letter set when I next find myself in Paperchase (which will be when we visit my mum-in-law in Shrewsbury).  When we have spent a few hours in the care home having had slightly odd and often bizarre conversations with most of the residents – my mum-in-law included, we usually bring ourselves back into the ‘real’ world by spending the last half hour in the town centre browsing in one or two of my favourite shops.

The Realisation

I am already looking forward to using my Christmas Stamp set (from Waterstones) this year for cards and having realised that there is only one week left of September I had better get some ideas set in motion for Christmas pretty soon.

Is anyone else making their own cards for Christmas and how soon do you start?

You might also like to browse

Christmas Crafts

I love to hear all your comments and suggestions if you have the time – have a good day x

drEAming, hEAlth, random thoughts, wellbeing

Busy doing nothing…

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward

Spanish Proverb

Today I hit 21 again!!!  Well a girl can dream can’t she?  I was given the day off work because it is my birthday and after spending the last few weeks on overdrive I decided that I would quite like to do nothing – in fact a whole day of doing nothing, however, the reality is that I was not sure how to do nothing – especially when you have been used to speeding along in the fast lane trying to keep up with all life throws at you – doing nothing seems quite difficult.

 So for today this is as close to nothing as I could manage

  • Sleeping half an hour longer
  • Eating a leisurely breakfast instead of grazing on the go
  • Pottering around the house putting things away – quite a relaxing pastime really especially when still in your dressing gown (no rush to get washed and dressed today)
  • Taking a very long hot shower
  • Making a healthier lunch
  • Sorting out my planner – weeding out the bits and pieces no longer required and updating To Do lists ready for the ‘back to normal’ speed tomorrow
  • Spending a delightful afternoon chatting with friends who popped in to see me with cards and flowers and presents
  • Catching up with a little TV whilst my birthday tea was prepared (and pudding too) – great treat
  • Relaxing on the sofa after being banned from doing any washing up – even better treat!

I had a lovely day and I am feeling much more rested even though I didn’t quite manage to do nothing – all I have to do now is snuggle down in bed with a good book – I could get used to every day being a birthday.

celebrations, fEAsting, recipes

Bake me a cake as fast as you can…

Last Tuesday I baked cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday on Thursday.  The first batch of chocolate ones did not make the grade –  they were hard, dry and quite floury more like a craggy chocolate pudding so I tried a second time with a plain mixture to which I added stewed apple in the middle and sultanas.  On Thursday I added a vanilla frosting topping and an iced decoration courtesy of Sainsbury’s.   This time they were light and extremely delicious – I will definitely make this recipe again.

150g unsalted butter (I used Bertolli Olive Oil spread)

115g caster sugar

1tsp French Almond extract

2 medium free range eggs

140g self raising flour

50g sultanas

100g cooked Bramley Apple sauce

I mainly use Organic and natural products where possible.

To make

Preheat oven to 180C, fan 160C, Gas 4.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add Almond extract, eggs and 1tbsp flour and continue beating until combined.  Add remaining flour and sultanas and fold in.

Place 12 cupcake cases in a tin and fill each halfway with the mixture and a good teaspoon of apple sauce into each and top with remaining mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden.  Leave to cool for a couple of minutes in tin then place on a cooling rack.

On Friday we had those Cheese and Leek Ramekins again.  This time I took a picture of them before they went in the oven and below is the recipe I never got around to posting last time.

Cheesey Leek Ramekins

My advice is to weigh and  prepare all the ingredients before starting to cook.

1tbsp olive oil

500g leeks, finely sliced

3 large eggs beaten

100g wholemeal breadcrumbs

125g mature farmhouse cheddar cheese, grated

1tsp dried tarragon or try it with a few stalks of freshly chopped chives

salt and ground black pepper

1-2 tomatoes sliced to place on top

To make

Heat the oil in a pan and gently cook the leeks for 10 mins.

Mix together the eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese and tarragon or chives.  Add cooked leeks and season mixture.

Spoon mixture into greased ramekin dishes. Place a slice of tomato on top of each. Bake at 200C or Gas 6 for about 15 mins until golden brown.  Leave to stand for a minute or two then run a knife around the edge and turn out.  Serve with a salad.  Can be eaten hot, warm or cold.

These are really good to take to work for lunchtime the next day with a salad.