Saturday, 31 December 2011

My 2011 Mosaic

My 2011 Mosaic, originally uploaded by 77belle.
A selection of 2011 including Betsy, the garden, some textile work and a family holiday in Lanzarote!

Happy New Year - Here comes 2012

Christmas has come and gone in a flash, as things worked out it was for the best that Dave's Dad stayed at home, on Boxing day I didn't feel all that great and the day after I had an upset stomach which lasted a few days. Thankfully I'm fully recovered just in time, today is my Birthday! Yesterday it was Rachel's Birthday and she celebrated in style in Sydney, she's had an eventful time since she arrived to stay with Mark, involving a lost wallet and a car break down, but thankfully everything turned out well due to the kindness of a farmer who towed them and a lovely family that loaned them a car until they could hire a car. We've spoken a couple of times since she's been in Australia and yesterday she called so we could wish her Happy Birthday. It was Becky's Birthday too, we were due to go out for dinner with her and James but because I was ill we had to cancel! So that's our Birthday Month Over!

Again this year I'm not going to make any resolutions as they only get broken. Things have changed this year we have our new addition BETSY, she has only been with us for 3 months and our lives have been turned upside down, I'm not complaining I wouldn't have it any other way. In May I had to give up going to the Gym after my back problems, but I think Betsy is now giving me all the exercise I need, lots of walking!

2012 is promising to be an exciting year with the Material  Girls-Bridging Waters exhibition taking place. I have also been offered a place in an exhibition which will be at a venue in London in 2013, I will have to start work on my pieces during this year, I'm very excited and a bit scared about this project. BUT I'm always up for a challenge and this will stretch me, it is just what I need. I will post more about it during the coming months.

I'd like to wish everyone who ventures here a Happy Healthy and Creative New Year!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Dinners over

Hope everyone is having a great day! Dinners over and I'm sitting with Betsy on my lap reading a book on my new toy. Yep! Santa left me a Kindle!!!! It's our first Christmas day on our own since we married in 1978(yes I was a child bride, cough). The reason we're on our own is Dave's Dad decided not to come to us this year as our chairs are too low and he was worried about sleeping in a strange bed. The problem started a week ago he had a fall when he was staying with his other son, he was put on the train and sent home, ever since he's been suffering with his back. So we're doing meals on wheels, the problem being he doesn't live around the corner it's almost a 40 mile round trip, I hope wasn't expecting hot gravy....... I'm sure everything will work out fine it just means that Dave is trekking back and forth, and we may have to have a few Chinese take aways in the new year as our stock of plastic dishes are disappearing fast.I don't blame him for staying at home there is no place like home when your not 100%. Tomorrow James and Becky are here with us for the day, so that will be good,Rachel is having an interesting time in Australia but more on that in the next post.Best get back to my reading and probably time for a g&t.....

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas

We were delivering Christmas presents today so we decided that Betsy should meet Louis my brothers English Springer Spaniel. Betsy was straight in, made friends with Louis and took over his toy box! Typical woman she had him wrapped around her paw in a few minutes.

Hello, What this?

I know your bigger than me but.......

I'm a woman and I know how to get my own way!

 I want to say a big thank you to everyone that reads and comments on my blog.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The rush of last weekend is over, as planned Rachel came to us on Sunday and Becky and James joined us for a lunch which included home made Soda bread, if I say so myself was a great success I'd never made it before but I'll be making it again over the holidays, it was perfect with homemade Leek and Potato soup. It was easy to make, I used a Creuset casserole (the only wedding present that I use on a regular basis after almost 34 years!), look at Purple Podded Peas blog for the recipe. That wasn't all we had for lunch as Rachel does eat fish on the odd occasion we had Salmon en croute and a Heston Blumenthal Black Forest Buche (don't be too impressed the only thing I made was the bread and the soup, but I do take credit for the menu and the defrosting and popping in the oven at the right times) And no smoke alarms went off!

Ready to pop into very hot Creuset

Done and Ready for the Butter!!!!!
After lunch we gave Rachel her Christmas and Birthday presents, we'd already given her a Kindle so she had time to load on her books for her holiday! For my birthday Rachel had looked through a suitcase of photographs I took from my Mum's house when we were sorting out. While we were  in France during the summer Rachel stayed here a few nights and sorted and scanned  photo's of my Mum and Dad from when they were young up until their 25th Wedding Anniversary, my Dad died a few years after that, Rachel never met him. She included photo's of my Nan and my Grandparents, and photo's of my brother and me when we were young. I don’t think I have to tell you there were a few tears! She'd taken such trouble to sort the photos and have them printed into a book, it's volume one, there are so many photos left, I've not opened the case since I brought it home, I don’t think I can at the moment. When the time is right I'll make volume two and three, maybe something for the new year!

Monday we were up at 5.00 am, even before Betsy! It took me 2 hours to drive around the M25 to Heathrow airport, we'd allowed lots of time.  When Rachel had checked her bags we grabbed breakfast before she went through security, we said goodbye and she disappeared through the doors and I started my journey home. The return journey only took 1 1/2 hours, I phoned Rachel when I got home and she'd just taken her seat on the plane. At 0.38 the following morning she text to say she was at Singapore Airport and was waiting to reboard for the next leg of the journey, at 11am yesterday she text to say she was with Mark and in his apartment ( I've seen a photo it looks beautiful overlooking the water at Kirribilli, Sydney) and going out for dinner. Dave heard from her this morning she's spent the day on the beach and they were going food shopping. Mark has arranged for them to go camping over Christmas. Looking out of the window here this morning, it's wet it's dull and I wish I could spend the day on the beach.

Friday James is 30, Becky has some lovely things arranged for him during the day, in the evening we are going to theirs for a family celebration. Then it's all systems go for Christmas... I do feel a bit at a loss this year, everything is done shopping etc, just need to wrap the rest of the presents. Still not 100% sure what Dave's Dad is doing, I think it's a matter of watch this space. I've had an idea Karen Ruane is leaving the frozen North to spend Christmas with her daughter, just a few roads away from Dave's Dad so maybe..............

Saturday, 17 December 2011

See I can make a cake from Scratch......but I wouldn't eat it......

Last Saturday Dave celebrated his 60th birthday Rachel, James and Becky came out with us for a meal at The Cricketers, Clavering, Essex, the meal was lovely, I'd ordered a  birthday cake which was brought out with candles and the waiters and waitresses singing "Happy Birthday", much to Dave's embarrassment, he doesn't like a fuss, I think secretly he enjoyed it.  I'd booked us  rooms for the night so the wine flowed, the following morning breakfast was served by Jamie Oliver's Dad!!! Rachel had a potato cake with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, one of Jamie's recipes while the rest of us tucked into a full English Breakfast. I know it wasn't my birthday but I had to treat myself to a cookery book, a few weeks ago I sorted out my cookery books and got rid of the ones I never use, time to start collecting again!

Betsy got to spend the night back with her Mum and Grandma, she came home exhausted. While she was there she had a trim, she looked smart...... well for 5 minutes anyway.

This week has been no end of lunches the Material Girls on Tuesday and then ERTF had a meeting with yet another lunch! Thursday evening the trainer  Joan that Betsy and I go to every week came to visit us at home. When out for a walk Betsy pulls on her lead and barks at people other dogs and isn't that brilliant with cars buses etc. Joan came in the evening so Dave could come along too.  We spent a bit of time at home talking about Betsy's behaviour indoors which is quite good. Then we went for a walk, lots of stopping and starting again and Joan showed us how to correct her when she's pulling.  I have to say that we have been out walking since and she's so much better. Joan gave me a recipe for a 'Liver Cake' Betsy loves it, I made it today and she's really enjoyed it.  It's just liver, eggs and flour with a dash of garlic powder, put into a dish baked in the oven on a low heat. It can be frozen, Joan uses it as a treat. I think this time I over did the garlic but at least it will keep away the vampires when we're out walking in the dark. Looks yummy doesn't it?

Not a Cake I'd Eat!

Tonight we are putting up the Christmas decorations, no tree this year, there will only be the two of us and maybe Dave's Dad, he's still not sure what he's doing...... Tomorrow James, Becky and Rachel are coming for lunch, we'll be giving Rachel her Christmas and Birthday presents then it will be up very early on Monday. I'll be driving Rachel to Heathrow and she'll be off to Sydney. Apparently the weather isn't so good there at the moment lots of rain? At least it wont be as cold there, as it is here we had a bit of snow today but it's not settled.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

December Celebrations

This month is certainly whipping through, just enough time for a quick catch up, I really should be writing Christmas cards and doing the ironing so this is a delaying tactic!

We have some big birthday celebrations this month (our family all have December birthdays) Dave turns 60 on Saturday, we have a family meal arranged, in fact it's been all family meals recently!  On the 23rd James will be 30, he doesn't want to celebrate,  I think something will be arranged not sure what yet. Next Sunday will be another get together, we will be giving Rachel her presents,  she won't be here for Christmas or her birthday or New Year, lucky girl will be on a beach somewhere near Sydney, Australia!! I'm not envious AT ALL!! It does mean that I wont be cooking vegetarian options on Christmas day,  I'll be roasting potatoes in goose fat and putting pancetta on the brussel sprouts.

I have been getting some textile work done, still can't show it yet not until the first exhibition is up and running. Ok, just to prove I've been doing something, I've been using romeo, for those that may not know what that is, it's a soluble film that can be stitched through. There's always that moment when it goes in the water that I think will it all just come apart and hours of work be wasted, Thankfully that didn't happen.... not this time anyway. Am I the only one that thinks that?

Betsy watching the swans coming out of the water
Betsy will be six months old on the 27th, she's a real character, she loves her walks at the weekend when we take her into the woods or by the ponds. Last Saturday all the ducks and geese were on the path as we passed by and on the return the two swans and the cygnet started to get very interested in us and came out of the water, we decided not to hang around and made a quick exit.

Have I mentioned the obedience training?  We attend a class for an hour every Monday, this week she was a little star and didn't put a paw out of place, sitting and laying down on command (not too much barking at the other dogs). I did have to laugh, this week there were a few new pups and owners, one lady said to me ' OMG this is such hard work',  I was so relieved when she said that, for the first couple of weeks I  left there  feeling absolutely exhausted. It felt as though I was never going to get it right, but it seems to be coming together. Having said that Betsy still pulls when we walk her and wants to play with everyone, (people and dogs) that we come across when out for a walk, so the trainer is going to come here one evening next week for a one to one session, Dave can join in too (that should be a laugh). We are getting there.

Must dash things to do and someone needs to be taken out for a walk........