Sunday, 17 April 2011

High Hopes

For some reason this year I've got the gardening bug. This is after years of living with my mother, who is an amazing gardener, but not feeling tempted to have a go myself.

I'm starting small, with a teny flower bed. I've planted some small rose bushes (so small you can't see them in the pics), some cornflowers and poppies and I've put some daffodils and lilies that were in pots into the ground too. I'm also going to try to train a honeysuckle to climb a trellis and cover the wall I hate!

PJ is gallantly sharing the garden with me, carrying on planting his veggies and herbs and keeping the grass looking lovely. He had some real sucesses last year, especially his pet favourite, the chillies. This year I've asked him to grow more so I can make more of the jam that was so popular at Christmas! He's also nurturing some sunflower seedlings for me which will go in between the cornflowers and poppies.

Here's hoping we've got green fingers!

I've just been reading a great post about Hoarding clothes on one of my favourite blogs, Rock My Wedding. Inspired to comment I thought I would repost here... My name is Lucy and I am a horder and an Ebay addict.

My shape has changed massively since I got married nearly two years ago, mostly due to having a baby a year ago. Pre baby I had had fairly consistently been a size 12/14 and had lots of clothes that I got out every year with the change of the seasons.

Post baby I was a size 18, with no clothes that fit and had almost no money (the only draw back of maternity leave). Not only could I not afford to invest in new clothes, at a time when you really need to feel good about yourself, it seemed a waste as I wanted to loose the weight.

So I bought myself some basic bits and pieces to 'get me through' the first few weeks on Ebay and although I was going for the things at the cheaper end of the scale I was surprised at how much some pieces with the right title, ie. good brand, BNWT (brand new with tags), went for.

I have dabbled in selling bits and pieces before. I even bought a dress for my brother's wedding, days before the event, and sold it on (on Ebay) at a profit. Many of the sellers dispatch goods quicker than any commercial outlet! (This is key to good feedback and your long term success). Anyway before I returned to work, size 16, I cleared out my wardrobe.

I didn't discard everything that was size 12/14, I still hope to get there one day but I had to admit some of it was simply no longer my style or practical for my new lifestyle. I didn't make a packet, and previously I would have taken it to the charity shop, but it did make a sizable contribution to my return to work clothes budget at a time when I was struggling.

My top tips would be

  • Use the advanced completed searches to price it right (that includes weighing the item and getting a postage estimate from the Royal Mail website so you don’t underestimate this and loose money).

  • Take several good photos (use a mannequin if possible).

  • Add loads of detail to the description; style, dimensions, fabric content.

  • Be friendly and helpful if someone contacts you with questions.

  • Post the goods ASAP.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Feeling Smug

Smug because I have fixed my shoes! Since Bambino was born I have hardly worn heels at all but a few weeks ago I went to a friend's baby shower in my posh frock, threw these shoes on the passenger seat as I was leaving the house (don't drive in big heels) and as I was changing into them at the other at the end a button popped off, into the road, never to be seen again. Drat! So I had to wear my driving shoes, which fortunately were not too shabby, my new sensible mummy shoes actually!

But tomorrow is my birthday and PJ and I are going out to dinner. I even have a new posh frock! So today I set about mending the shoes, two new buttons in hand. But I didn't have the type of thick black elastic that had been there previously. I was just about to resign myself to wearing my sensible mummy shoes to dinner or digging out my silver sandals (too cold). Then, looking around the study in desperation I saw that one of my old college folders had the same type of elastic on it. Bingo! Bit of needlework and we're in business. Hope I don't fall and break my neck from lack of practice!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

What's Cooking This Week - Mother's Day

Last week

There was one ‘new to me’ dish on the menu last week

Honey mustard chicken pot with parsnips: It was really nice and as many other people on the site commented it benefited from being left to bubble a bit longer, which in this house, where Bambino’s bedtime routine needs to be negotiated, is a good thing!

This week

Second week back at work = two days this time = boring menu

Mediterranean Chicken & Potato Stew

Nasi Goreng

Hot-smoked salmon with creamy pasta & pine nuts

Spaghetti bolognaise

Stuffed chicken breasts and tomato butter beans

All tried and tested, a couple are even from my Student Cookbook and have been made many, many times before! The Spaghetti Bolognaise is actually sitting in the freezer, ready prepared by moi!

But… Today I invited my mum and mother in law and respective families to Mother's Day (my first!) lunch and I’m very pleased with how it went. I love roast dinners (being cooked for me!) but I sometimes find it very stressful, trying to get all elements of the meal together at the same time. So the dish I went for today was the perfect compromise.

Roast red wine lamb with Italian beans: I’ve cooked this just for the two of us before. Parts of it are a bit involved, like putting the roasting pan on the hob after you’ve roasted the lamb and set it aside. But you can get around it; I just poured the meat juices straight into the gravy, tasted fine to me. It’s good to marinate the lamb the day before and to get the beans started by frying the rosemary and tomatoes then adding the beans, just saved a few precious moments on the day.


Lemon meringue ice cream cake: Yummy, yummy, yummy. Takes 5-10 minutes to make and can be made well in advance. Thinking of making one to have in the freezer, except that I would probably eat it long before we had any guests!

Double chocolate cheesecake: Another easy peasy dessert. My PJ loves cheesecake and he seemed fairly impressed so thumbs up all round!

I wanted to give my lady guests a little extra something to take home with them so I made these Cookie Dough Truffles. They are really simple to make. I have tried making sweets before and failed because I refuse to buy a sugar themometre (I don’t know why). These could not be easier and they are so tasty. I had some little cellophane bags and this recipe made enough truffles to make eight presents so the rest have gone in the freezer! Did I mention that I LOVE my freezer?

My Bambino is nearly one year old! Watch out for a party planning post coming this way!