Monday, 30 November 2009

Last day of November

Can you believe tomorrow's the first day of December!! Not sure if I'm ready for it ;o) but am looking forward to the start of Journal Your Christmas with Shimelle. I'm hoping to have a go at doing the class this year; last year the furthest I got was reading the prompts :o( . Also looking forward to seeing the pages that the other class members make and get some inspiration from them.
Around the house: The fruit for my Christmas cake is soaking overnight ready for me to make the cake tomorrow. I made a beef curry for dinner tonight which was very tasty - even if I say so myself! The second quilt is finished and I'm hoping to make a start on the third one tomorrow (sewing, baking and scrapbooking - I should have a fun day tomorrow!). Watched some TV with the girls tonight but am about ready to have an early night - might take a magazine (passed on by Mum) up with me, haven't done that in a long time! To end off, has anyone else tried these cookies?? I got them today when doing the weekly shop - I didn't taste much Toblerone in them but they were still quite tasty.
PS 26 posts for November has to be my all time record!! To those who drop by each day, thanks for reading them! Hopefully December will be a good month too.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

What a day!

What a day we've had today, winter is certainly on its way. Mind you, we've virtually had the four seasons - we've had heavy rain, strong winds, sunshine and hail, we just need the snow! My computer has been showing the temperature hasn't gone above 8 degrees C. I certainly didn't feel inclined to go outside for any length of time ;o)
The girls, however, were happy to go to movies this afternoon. Although Emily saw New Moon last week, she's been itching to go again. Claire had originally said they'd go on Friday night but then pulled out. Emily was supposed to go with a friend on Saturday but her mum told her she had to finish the book before she could go. So, finally, Emily got to go again this afternoon with Claire. I dropped them off and said I'd pick them up later, then came home to make the binding for the second quilt - which I've just about finished sewing on.
As I was getting ready to go and pick the girls up, I glanced through the front window and couldn't believe my eyes. I called for Jon to come and look because there were two deer on the green outside the house!!
We've never seen deer around here so it was quite a surprise. Jon said he'd actually seen them this morning and forgotten to mention it to me. Naturally I grabbed my camera and went outside to get a photo, trying to be as quiet as possible.
I managed to get a couple of shots but must have disturbed them and they moved off soon after I went out.
How exciting!! We think they probably came from the wood and fields behind the houses and looked quite young (not that I know anything about deer). Hopefully we'll see them again some time.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Some things don't change :o)

You may well remember the photo below from a post earlier this month. Emily loved dressing Wallace up when she was younger and .... she hasn't changed much ;o). Today she decided he needed his coat on because it was cold outside - even though Wallace was inside (where we had the heating on at the time)
Wallace doesn't look too impressed, does he!
. .
Today I have taken a break from sewing, baking, ironing, etc. I've read my magazines, caught up on blogs and looked at new ones. However, I also made my first digital layout!!! The layout came from Jools Gauger who made some available for people doing Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas class. I am a beginner when it comes to adding layers etc. Recently I've been trying my hand at new things when a tutorial shows up on a blog and I'm slowly starting to learn a bit more. Like most things however, once you start you want to learn a bit more ... and a bit more .... ;o)
My first attempt. I used digital papers which I think came from Jessica Sprague's Holidays in Hand free class. I just added some photos from last Christmas and I'll leave it at that for now. You never know, you may just see a few more pages on the blog soon.
Have a relaxing weekend

Friday, 27 November 2009

Could this be ..

the makings of a Christmas journal???
I had a rummage through my stash today and found some Christmas papers that could do with being used up. The idea of a Christmas journal still appeals, so .... could this be the makings of a Christmas Journal for 2009? I'm ever hopeful!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Christmas is coming ...

Yesterday's post didn't happen 1) because I didn't really have much to write and 2) because I wanted to get the binding attached to the quilt ready for me to finish the hand sewing today. By the time I'd finished I was ready for bed! I also thought you are probably getting fed up seeing photos of my sewing ;o)
Today, there is a definite smell of Christmas in our house :o). I decided to make homemade mincemeat - which should then, hopefully, lead to homemade mince pies in December. I picked up a few ingredients after dropping Claire at work and got stuck in as soon as I got home. I've never made my own mincemeat before but had heard it tastes much nicer than shop bought. Following the recipe in the Rachel Allen, Bake cookery book was really straight forward. Rachel's recipe books tend to be the ones I go to when I want to try something new because I've never been disappointed with any of the recipes yet.
I know it doesn't look particularly wonderful but it smelt delicious! I had been keeping used jars and cleaning them out with some home baking/cooking in mind. I was glad I had a few ready to steralise as the mixture filled six assorted jars. I see it also says the mincemeat can be kept for a year.
I thought it might be a good idea to label them so I remember when the mincemeat was made. Now I need to be patient and let it sit for at least a couple of weeks before using it.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Not much to say

Not much to report today. Mondays are when I take Mum to Sainsbury's and we do our weekly grocery shop followed by a coffee and chat in Starbucks :). That part is fine, it's when I get home and then have to unpack it all that I don't like it. When you think about it, first you walk around choosing everything and putting it in your trolley. You get to the checkout and you take it all out your trolley again to go through the checkout. And guess what, you then have to put it all in shopping bags to take home. You unload it from the trolley into the car, from the car into the house and then you have to unpack the bags again! Wow, that's a lot of packing and unpacking!!!
I was ready to take Cloud for a walk after all of that, I needed the fresh air to blow the cobwebs away and to relax a bit. The weather has still been very breezy so I made sure to put on a waterproof, fleece lined jacket. I felt lovely and warm and could enjoy the wind in my face and even the rain we got on our way round.
This afternoon I started another task on my To Do List. I wrote out my Christmas Card List - I thought I had probably made enough cards to cover everyone; haha, way off the mark. I have the same number of cards to make again plus a few! How did I get to have about 80 cards to send out??? Do I know that many people ;o). I even made a start on writing the cards too - I've decided if I write a few each day it won't seem such a huge task and I think it may just work!
I had sent an email to Karen today to tell her I like her Christmas Journals and I am inspired by the fact that this year will be her 4th year of making one. I have thought about this a few times but tend to feel overwhelmed when it comes to making the album up in advance - I like to know what photos and journaling I'm working with when I make layouts. This year I think I'm going to give it a go, I'll get the papers together and see how I get on. If it works out I've no doubt you'll see some photos of the layouts during December. Wish me luck!!
Considering I didn't have much to say, I haven't done too badly ;o). As you will see in the photo below (because I like to have one in each post) I'm now in my pyjamas and I am ready to have an early night. I'm hoping to do more sewing tomorrow as well as the ironing and more card writing. Let's see how much I actually do!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Where did the weekend go!

I had such good intentions of what I was going to do today and didn't actually get much done at all. It started off when I came downstairs for breakfast and there were a few over ripe bananas in the fruit bowl. I knew no one would eat them like that so I made some Banana Loaf. The recipe I used was from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook - I think I'm just going to slowly work my way through all the recipes in the book ;o). This banana loaf was different to the one I used to make in South Africa (which, for some reason, doesn't seem to work as well in the UK - why is that??) in that it used cinnamon and ginger in it. I'm not complaining though, it was very tasty and even Jon had a slice. I used a tin which was slightly smaller than they asked for and I'm not sure if that had anything to do with the fact that it sank a little in the middle?
A slice of the loaf, ready to have with a cup of tea :o)
While waiting for the loaf to cook I thought I would have a look at a few blogs I normally read. Well that was fatal because I hadn't been reading many blogs recently and I ended up spending a lot longer than anticipated on them. It was great to catch up with what everyone was saying and I also got to look at a lot of the Around the World blog posts posted by a group of ladies from Shimelle's Blogging for Scrapbookers class. Great work everyone, it was fun to see the view from your windows and where you scrapbook.
This evening Emily and I went to church as Jon's Bible study home group was taking the service and Jon was playing his guitar - which he did very well. He's been putting in a lot of practice and it paid off. Well done Jon!
We watched The X Factor results show tonight and it was the twins turn to leave. Although they could be fairly entertaining it was definitely time for them to go. Next week will be interesting ...
I'm now ready for bed as tomorrow is another busy day.

Saturday, 21 November 2009


Claire called me to see the sunset yesterday evening and this was the view from our back door. The sky was a real pinky/purple colour and very pretty, luckily my camera was close by :) Today has included some shopping, a Starbucks coffee, blog reading, taking Emily to meet friends and see New Moon (which she tells me was fantastic; far better than Twilight!?) and some sewing.
A sneak peak at the second quilt I'm working on, which I was asked to make by my SIL.
I finished the quilting tonight and tied off all the loose ends - now to square it up and complete the binding. I can hear quilt number 3 calling already ;o)
The girls and I watched The X Factor tonight - we thought Stacey and Joe were the best tonight though also liked Olly and Danyl. Be interesting to see who ends up in the bottom two tomorrow night as the last couple of weeks have been a bit unpredictable. I then watched Private Practice, which I had taped on Sky+, while making Christmas cards. I'm feeling a bit more organised tonight! Long may it last.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend

Friday, 20 November 2009

I've started shopping

This morning Mum, Claire and I went in to Crawley where they had the Christmas decorations up in the Mall.
Claire liked Mr Fox snowboarding :o)
It did make me stop and realise just how close Christmas is and that I do need to start doing some shopping. I did make a start this morning but need to sit down with a list to see who we're buying for this year. It's going to be a tighter year as Jon's been out of work for nearly 6 months now. My wish for the New Year - more jobs on the market! ;o) but that's a whole different subject. Time to get a move on with the quilts and list making.
The weather is looking pretty miserable for the weekend so I think quilt and card making will be on the agenda. Emily is going to see New Moon with friends tomorrow afternoon and can't wait!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Looking back

I was looking back at past posts on my blog and this time last year I was busy posting layouts from the Design Your Life class that I took. This layout is one I posted on Thursday 20/11/08. This layout is about my brother, Robin, who lives in South Africa. He's not very good at keeping in touch so whenever we see activity on his Facebook account, we know he's still ok ;o). I enjoyed looking back at the posts around that time and seeing the layouts I'd made. It feels like ages since I've done scrapbooking and I won't be doing any in the near future as I am still as unorganised as I was last year and not ready for Chirstmas to be so close! Some things don't change! Perhaps it's time I started making To Do lists - whether I would remember to look at them is another matter lol!!
This morning I caught up with the ironing that needed doing and got a few chores done around the house. It was then time to knuckle down to some more sewing. I have a few quilt tops complete but not put together yet. I finished sewing the back for one of the quilts, before taking Emily shopping when she got home from school, and this evening I've finished sandwiching the quilt together and tacking it all in place. Tomorrow I start the actual quilting on it. I still have the binding on the first one to finish but may wait until I've finished quilting this one and do both lots of binding at the same time.
I've also been thinking about my Christmas cards and have decided to go ahead and make them this year. Nothing like putting a little more pressure on myself ;o). I'm keeping them really simple and am hoping I'll be able to assemble them in the evenings while I watch TV.
And on that note, I'll end for today and continue with some more preparation. Have a good evening

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The after photo

I nearly forgot to take the "after" photo and then had to snap it quickly before dinner. The lighting is pretty shocking - my walls are cream, not pink! However, colour correction didn't want to work today so I'm leaving it as it is. As you can probably see, Claire just had her hair trimmed but Emily's is a bit shorter again. It's not the best photo of my girls but, for tonight, it'll have to do. This morning was spent fiddle faffing around and not really getting much done :o( though Jon and I did take the dogs out for a walk before going to one of our local playgroups so I could take some photos for their web page (which Jon is organising). It seems a long time since my days of standing outside playgroups and, I have to admit, I don't mind. I like the age my children are (as I have all the ages) and I'm enjoying seeing them grow more independant and confident.
This afternoon I met up with friends for a coffee at Neros. Didn't have my camera with me though, so no photos. This evening the girls and I have been watching some of the Rachel Allen : Bake programmes we had recorded on Sky+. I always feel like I want to get in the kitchen and do some baking or cooking after watching them. Love Rachel's recipes and still have more I want to try out.
For now though, time to end off for the day and I'll try and remember to take some more photos tomorrow.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Tuesday's day

I had planned on having a day at home today to get on with some sewing and do a bit of housework (ho hum!! Yawn!!). That was until I heard the weather forecaster say we were going to have decent weather today (ie. it would be dry) and then the rain is due back tomorrow. Couldn't waste a good day so I gave my Mum a call and asked if she fancied a trip to our local craft shop (silly question!!) The Craft Barn is in Lingfield which is a 10 or 15 minute drive from us so an easy spur of the moment trip. We spent a decent amount of time having a look around and I got what I had gone for, which always helps!
A cup of coffee round the corner at Joyce's with Best Wishes seemed like a fitting way to end off our trip. We like to pop in here and have a look at all the goodies they have on display. This morning there was a craft class being held at the back of the shop but we couldn't quite see what they were making.
Don't ask me where the afternoon went, it just seemed to disappear. We had a couple of Elders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints knock on the door. Turns out they have a friend who comes from Wartburg, just outside Pietermaritzburg - Jon and I lived in Pietermaritzburg until we moved to the UK. I had been contacted a while ago (through a comment I left on a blog) by a Mum who told me her son was serving his mission in our area. I asked the Elders today if they knew him and it turned out they did and were going to let him know his mum had been in touch with me. I believe his mission finishes next week and he will be on his way home again. We now expect to get a visit from the young man from Wartburg at some stage. It's a small world!
And finally, our evening ended with a trip to Mary, a friend who cuts our hair, for haircuts. Claire and I both had trims but Emily has had hers restyled a bit. This photo was taken before the girls had their hair cut and I'll have to try and get them to let me take another photo tomorrow as an after shot :)

Monday, 16 November 2009

My little visitor

My niece contacted me yesterday afternoon to find out if there was any chance I could look after Alyssa for a while today. What a question!!! Yes please! :o)

Alyssa is such a sweet little girl, still very doll like and such a content baby. Theresa dropped her off just after 11am and I had her for the afternoon. Brought back lots of memories; how did my three end up so big already?? It feels like just the other day they were Alyssa's size.


Mum and Dad popped in to see their youngest great grandchild and have a little hold too.

Emily was delighted that Alyssa was still here when she got home from school and from then on I had to fight to get another hold ;o)
Emily loves having a baby she can hold who is content to lie there and be cuddled.
Theresa and Tyler arrived about 4 o'clock and then stayed for a little while until they were picked up by Will/Daddy. Thank you Theresa for trusting me with Alyssa and I can't wait for the next time :o)

Sunday, 15 November 2009


Michelle and Matthew
Jon and I each got a text this morning from his daughter, Michelle saying "Matthew asked me to marry him!" Hello!!!! You can't send me a text like that, I want to know the details ;o). Needless to say, I was on the phone like a shot to find out more!
Congratulations Michelle and Matthew, we are so happy for you both and also for Joshua! Welcome to the family Matthew!
Exciting times ahead, I'm sure there'll be more to come over the following months

Saturday, 14 November 2009


I was looking for a photo this morning and (seeing as it is so wet and windy) ended up scrolling through old photos and remembering so many different events. Looking back to 2001, which was when I first started taking digital photos, I came across this photo of Emily and me outside Buckingham Palace. We had gone up to London with my SIL to spend a day doing touristy things
With Tower Bridge in the background
Emily with Aunty Merle (love the expression on Emily's face!)
Emily used to love dressing Wallace up - he was so patient ;o)
Emily with some of her classmates (and their siblings) at their teacher's wedding
And then my most recent photo of Emily, holding her new cousin, Alyssa
This reminds me why I take so many photos and why I will continue to do so.
Hugh and Claire beware :o) I can feel another couple of posts coming up.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Busy, busy :)

It's been a good day today :o) . Jon and I went out for breakfast with my friend Helena and her husband Graydon this morning. We went to a pub called The Old Cage in Lingfield where they do a big cooked breakfast with a couple of cups of coffee for £5 - really good value. Anyway, we got there for 9.30 and it was 11.45 before we knew it ;o) You know you've been in good company when time goes that quickly!
When we got home I got on with the quilting and managed to finish by 1 o'clock. I hadn't seen Mum and Dad to have a chat to for a little while so decided to pop down for a coffee. I took the quilt with me so that I could tie off the ends and thread them through. Again, time flew and before I knew it it was nearly 3 and Emily would be coming home soon.
Can I add here that the weather today has been pretty miserable (understatement of the day!) and I'd taken the girls to school this morning but I got a text to say they would walk home. Fortunately they had a drier spell and Emily wasn't soaked by the time she got back. We then popped out to see my SIL for a short while. It felt like I'd done a bit of running around today but it was all good!
I'm now looking forward to sitting down with a cup of Redbush/Rooibos tea and watching last nights episode of Private Practice - have to know what happens next ;o)
I don't have much planned for the weekend but hope to get a chance to post here regardless - it is "life in general" after all!
And because I like to try and have a photo in each post, here's a sneak look at the next quilt waiting to be made - looking forward to getting started on this one now!
Have a lovely weekend xx

Thursday, 12 November 2009

I'd been thinking

For a little while (probably since the day I made the double batch of cupcakes ;o) ) I've been thinking that it's time I started to be a bit more careful about what I eat. I don't want to say I'm going to go on a diet, because that just makes me want to eat all the wrong things!, but rather that I need to start watching what I'm eating and try and make more sensible choices.
This afternoon my SIL phoned from Chicago for a chat and she told me that she has managed to lose some weight and is the lowest she's been in a while. She's also not gone on a diet but is just making changes in her life. She and I have always tended to be about the same weight and have had the same issues. Now I'm proud of her for getting where she is and she is my inspiration to make the changes I've been thinking about.
Tonight, for example, I made oven chips for Emily to have with her meal but decided to do some new potatoes and vegetables to go with my fish (I know, it's still breaded fish but I tell myself that has to be better than battered ;o) - and it was oven cooked, not fried; has to be good for me - haha!!)
Tomorrow is another day. My aim is to have my three meals during the day but to eat fruit if I feel the need to snack between meals - not cupcakes! :o) Wish me luck!! I'm going to need it.
As for the rest of today, a trip to the opticians confirmed what I had already suspected - my prescription for distance has got slightly worse so they need to change my contact lenses. I also need to book another eye test to see whether my glasses will also need changing.
The sewing has gone well and most of the quilting is done. A little bit more to do round the edges tomorrow and then on to the binding. I wish I could show you it properly but I'm afraid you'll have to wait until after Christmas :o(

Keeping busy

The sewing is now in full swing and is keeping me busy :) xx

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Pumpkin Cupcakes - Yum!!

This morning has been fairly productive :) I've done some housework, tidied my desk a bit, done the ironing and two loads of washing. Best of all though are the Pumpkin Cupcakes I made - a double batch because I promised so many people some the next time I made them. If you were one of those people, cupcakes should be coming your way ;0)


120g plain flour

140g castor sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

40g butter (at room temperature)

120ml milk

2 eggs

200g tinned pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 170C, 325F, Gas 5

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until well mixed.

Add the eggs to the mix and beat well (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Add the remaining milk and mix well. Stir in the pumpkin puree by hand until evenly dispersed.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases (I use muffin cases and a muffin tin) until 2/3 full and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces ack when touched. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tra before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

When cupcakes are cold, spoon Cream Cheese Frosting on top and finish with a light sprinkling of cinnamon.


300g icing sugar, sifted

50g butter, at room temperature

125g cream cheese, cold

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy. Don't overbeat as it can quickly become runny.

Recipe from "The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook"

I'd certainly recommend you try these :)


Monday, 9 November 2009

My desk ....

Is it any wonder I'm not achieving much at the moment!!! There's no room to put anything! So, I'm posting this photo to shame myself into tidying up and making some room! I have quilts to make and I need some space ;o). Let's hope by this time tomorrow it looks better. I wish I was a tidy person!!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Rememberance Sunday

Please take the time to remember all who serve or have served in the Forces. We thank them for all they do and have done for all of us. Thank you.