London, baking and no yeast

Me on the London Eye showing how bad I am at taking a selfie. No pouts here…oh no sirree!

I cannot believe that I wrote a whole post the other day and totally forgot to mention that me and the kids had been down to London the other weekend. We went down to celebrate two birthdays: my darling daughter’s and my lovely friend Raymond’s. It was a great weekend – exhausting, but worth it. We arrived on the Friday night and met Raymond and others at a restaurant in Greenwich for dinner. The next day me and the kids met another friend, Richard, for lunch in Ping Pong in Soho (after sitting for several hours atop a tourist bus…it was a good tour, but too long). Then the four of us went to Madame Tussaud’s (the girl’s choice, I wouldn’t have bothered). It was alright, the kids enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t go back.

Here’s me taking a break with Han…he’s not much of a conversationalist!

Anyway, after all that we got back to our hotel about 6pm exhausted. We had a hour to chill out and get ready before heading to a pub in Blackheath (gorgeous place btw) for Raymond’s party. It was an excellent party and I would like to thank Raymond and  George for inviting me and the kids and for buying us dinner and for the party. I had a ball. Drank way too much wine and was dancing and singing all night! Thank you both.

On the Sunday, we had a quick shot on the London Eye (well it wasn’t quick cos we had to queue for an hour before we got on it and it’s very slow), which was good in the sense it was a lovely day and you could see for miles across the city. It’s worth doing once. It didn’t open til 11am so after the ride, we got a taxi up to Euston station to get our train back.

Sigh. Apparently there had been a derailment on the west coast line somewhere near Carlisle so our train back to Glasgow wasn’t running properly. We were advised to go to King’s Cross where we would get a train back to Glasgow. This proved to be false and we ended up on a train to Edinburgh. Then it was a two hour trip back home. We were knackered, but so glad to see our dogs who were staying with a friend who is a dog walker. She very kindly dropped them off for us. I really missed them.

It was a whirlwind of a weekend, but really good. Thoroughly enjoyed it…apart from the odd whinging from the kids that is!

Gratuitous shot of Casper with his doggy.

So I have decided to try and do a month of no buying things I don’t need. This will be horrendous for me because I have a bit of a book buying addiction (mainly with the help of Amazon). However, I have hundreds of books (literally) and I really don’t need any more. So, here’s my pledge to not buy anything I don’t need until April at the earliest. And I will not buy anything I don’t need by trying to persuade the sensible part of me that I really do need it…I don’t! That is what I will be asking myself: do you really need it? No, then put it back!

I will also try to stick tightly to a meal plan. I meal plan every week but you are lucky if I stick to half of what’s written. It’s just that I get to the day a certain meal is lined up for then decide I fancy something else. Not for this month. Nope, I will stick to it. Started tonight…made pizza for dinner. However, I didn’t have any yeast and I cannot find a shop in this area that has any yeast left. Every teensy bit of yeast has been snapped up by folk wanting to make bread because there was no bread in the shops over the last few days because of the snow. A small, annoyed part of me wonders how many of them actually made bread and how many of them just took the yeast just in case and have no intention of ever using it. I have a bread maker and I do make bread, so was a little put out (‘toys out the pram’ put out) when I was unable to buy yeast. Anyway, I made the pizza with a soda bread base…it doesn’t work that well as a base for pizza. Just letting you know. First cooking disaster of the year. Sigh.

Over the last few days I also made a massive pot of lentil soup (love it!) and banana muffin cake (I couldn’t find the muffin tins…the place is still in chaos as the extension is still not completely finished…so I made it as a cake), which the boy ate most of!

Right, I am going to end this here. I still have to iron school uniforms for tomorrow cos the kids are back at school! Yippee! Til next time.

Dawn xxx

 

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National Butterscotch Pudding Day – September 19

butterscotch dayToday is National Butterscotch Pudding Day in America! Celebrate by making your own butterscotch pudding from these recipes. If Butterscotch isn’t your flavour of pudding, what is? I still love sponge cake and custard, but my fave pudding is rhubarb crumble and custard.

 

Dawn x

Ballet, piano and Bette Davis

Well, I’ve gone and voted and once I got to the ballot box I was under no doubt  which way I was voting. The last couple of weeks have been both exhilarating and a bit scary. Independence is a huge step and today is historic. Am waiting with bated breath to see what happens when they announce the result tomorrow.

This week has been overtaken with the Referendum. You just couldn’t get away from it. However, apart from that we’ve seen a few things happening. The boy had a really bad ear infection recently and it’s now cleared up. He also started piano lessons last week and seems to like them…so far. The girl is still in love with ballet. I bought a ballet exercise DVD so we can do something together (the boy and I have piano) plus it will hopefully get me fitter. Over the last five years I’ve put on more than a stone in weight. I don’t eat any more than I did before and I certainly am busier than ever. I think it’s the fact that I’m over 40 and have a sedentary job. Sigh. Anyway, ballet here we come!! Am sure a few plies will sort out my thighs!

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Hubby celebrated his 51st birthday last week too. Me and the kids took him out a local Chinese restaurant for a meal and various members of the family visited with presents or sent cards. On his actual birthday, I made him a special meal for every meal time. The kids insisted on having pancakes for breakfast, I made veggie tortillas (from The Fussy Eater’s Cookbook by Tana Ramsay) for lunch and we had Hungarian Ghoulash for dinner…yum. There was also birthday cake and custard…lovely.

Bette Davis 1

Am currently reading Bette Davis’ The Lonely Life and it’s excellent. Her voice and strong opinions ring through the book and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. As you know I am a huge fan. All About Eve is in my top ten all time films…she’s fabulous in that. Other fave Bette films include Now Voyager and Jezebel.

Bette Davis 2

While I greatly admire Ms Davis, what else rings through the book is her absolute determination to get to the top no matter the cost. I think she was used to getting her own way. She was a strong woman who didn’t put up with rubbish. Some may call her a bitch. I think she had to be to pursue her dreams. Anyway, she’s very inspiring and her book is full of great stories and truths.

What else has been happening? I took the plunge and bought myself a new sewing machine. My machine was secondhand when my parents gave it to me when I was 11 or 12, so it’s at least 30 years old! It’s not reliable. I’m hoping a new one will be so that I can get on with sewing.

Right, that’s it for this week. I am going to finish up here for now. Until next time!

Dawn xx

 

 

 

 

 

Cake-a-licious!!

I have decided to do a Monday cake of the day purely for two reasons: I love cake and it amuses me. As I’ve missed this week’s Monday, here it is for this week only on a Tuesday.

So here’s my first one…I give you Chocolate Cake
chocolate cake

If you would like to share with me your favourite cake, please send me a message or send the info plus a jpg of your cake (the crazier the better!) and I’ll put it on this blog. Here’s my email address (I forgot to add it earlier!!): d-a-nelson@tiscali.co.uk

Dawn xx

Getting back into writing and cracking at the cooker

A view from Carrick Castle - I felt we all  needed a bit of sunshine today so here you go!

A view from Carrick Castle – I felt we all needed a bit of sunshine today so here you go!

Hello, how are you? Or should I say: How do you do? Was listening to Radio 2 yesterday and one of the guests has just written a tongue-in-cheek book on etiquette and how to behave with the hoi polloi. Was quite interesting. Anyway, what’s been happening in your world this week? I’ve been busy, but don’t feel I’ve really achieved much…it’s been one of those weeks!!

Woke up on Monday morning with a really painful right hip. I don’t know what caused it but it was really debilitating. Managed to get dressed okay, but when it came time to leave I had to get the boy to pull my slippers off because I couldn’t bend to reach them. I was walking like an old woman and every time I moved a bolt of pain screeched up my hip and made me jolt with agony. I felt like I’d been stabbed. Anyway, I was lucky, by teatime everything had eased off. However, I’ve been having twinges all week since. I don’t know whether it’s been the way I’ve been sleeping or linked to the cold virus that’s been annoying me for the last couple of weeks too. Sigh. Thank goodness I’m mobile again. Such an unpleasant experience. Poor people who have to live with pain all the time.

Still working on the room. I need to get a cupboard for there and then I’ll be finished. It’s looking a lot better than before, so I can start using it again. Now I have the space and the time I’m getting back into writing. Did my work plan last night and today I’ll start planning the next bit of the two books I’m writing.

I have a quiet-ish weekend ahead, so am also planning to do a bit of baking. Haven’t baked bread for ages and I really prefer home cooked cakes and biscuits to bought, so I may just put my CD player on and get cracking at the cooker!!

Right I need to go. Til next time.

Dawn xxxx

We were like two drowned rats

Drowned Rat look from redbubble.com

My friend and I went for a walk along the country roads around our village and this ^ (image from redbubble.com) is kind of what we ended up looking like. We should have known: it had been raining heavily earlier, but it was just a little drizzly when we dropped the kids off at school and set out. It takes about an hour-and-a-quarter to walk the route and about half an hour into it the rain came down in buckets. We walked on. It wasn’t cold, just wet, so it wasn’t that unpleasant to keep walking. We eventually made it back to the village…dripping wet. I went home and had a hot shower, a cup of tea and a little bit of pumpkin bread. Life was even better after that. I’m glad we did it cos I need the exercise and we blethered all the way round and it was nice.

This afternoon, I went to another friend’s house and we had tea and cake (oops! but it was nice!) and did a bit of crafting and chatted. It was a lovely afternoon and I’m looking forward to hosting the next crafting afternoon (crafternoon??) next month. I took a pair of socks I’ve been knitting for ages…this is the first time in more than a year that I’ve picked them up. I’ve knitted one-and-a-half. Maybe I’ll get round to finally finishing them.

Had a bit of a bread maker disaster this evening. I was doing the dishes when I smelled burning. I turned around and there was smoke coming out the bread maker. Turns out I had put too much yeast in it, it mooshed over the top of the tin on to the heated wire thingies (don’t know the technical term) and it started to burn. I turned it off immediately and cleaned it out. Tomorrow I’ll make another one. Ref bread…still haven’t got back to my sour dough making, been too busy lately. I need to start it again cos I love sour dough. Yum.

Right, am going to leave it here as I have demands from my daughter for tucking in duty. Until next time.
Dawn xxx

Sour Dough disaster and wanting my house back

Okay, so confession time. That pic I used in my last post was purely to jazz up my post. Sorry if you thought I’d made it, I didn’t mean to give that impression. That wasn’t actually the bread I made from the sour dough. The bread I made turned out fine, however, the sour dough didn’t. It smelled of cheese and the bread smelled a little bit of cheese, so I ditched both (even though the bread looked lovely). I am planning to start my sour dough again this week, which gets me on to the reason why I’ve not managed to do it yet…

…we are having our radiators and boiler replaced. And it’s awful!! Not only has the weather suddenly got colder (thank God for our portable gas heater – the one we bought last year when the old boiler wouldn’t work properly for months), but my house looks as if someone has grabbed it, turned it upside down and given it a good shake. There are things everywhere and everywhere I go there’s mess and chaos and it’s doing my head in.

On the plus side, the boy has recovered a small cache of little soldiers, cars and assorted socks that we think he posted down the back of various radiators when he was younger. We also emptied our under stairs cupboard to give the workmen access to our gas supply and found quite a few things we forgot we had (including cooking utensils!).

Because we’ve not been able to access the kitchen properly, we’ve been living on bought in food (Gregg’s, our local Chinese takeaway, the chippie and tonight it’s probably going to be the curry house). I feel bloated and yucky and can’t wait for them to finish…hopefully today. I miss my kitchen.

Oblivion

Okay, what else has happened this week? Well I’ve been catching up on movies that a friend of my husband has been lending us: Oblivion (starring Tom Cruise) and Olympus Has Fallen (Gerard Butler). Firstly Oblivion – I loved it. It was beautifully done and exciting in bits and really a great movie. I kind of guessed the ending, but that didn’t matter. I would definitely watch this again. 9/10

Olympus Has Fallen – the boy fae Paisley has done well for himself and he’s great in this. I think there’s something really attractive about Gerard and he’s a pretty good actor. However, the film was really American Cheese and by that I mean: oh the Americans are attacked and save the world AGAIN! And there were lots of shots of the American flag falling in tatters to a woosh of music and then being raised again and cheesy lines galore. It was okay, but I wouldn’t buy it for the collection. 7/10

adele blanc-sec

Movies on Sky. Someone a short while ago mentioned a French movie about a female archaeologist who goes on adventures…I think it was my friend Tracy. Anyway, Sky showed The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec recently so I recorded it and watched just over half of it last night. Anyone who knows French film will know what I mean when I say it is very French farce, but it’s enjoyable farce and Louise Bourgoin is excellent in the title roll.

Talking of French things, I’ve also been watching the second series of Hard which is about a mother who suddenly finds herself in charge of her husband’s business after he dies. The problem is that he made naughty movies. Definitely not one for the kids, but it’s hysterically funny. And I love the relationship between Sophie and Roy. I watched some of that last night too (when the kids were in bed).

So that was me watching quite a lot of subtitled French tv and film last night. Hubby was out with some friends and the kids were in bed and I had peace to watch them. About 9.45pm, I decided I’d had enough and wanted to catch the last bit of Elementary (which I also love watching). I’d seen it before, but that’s not why I’m telling you this: I had been watching French programmes for so long (with subtitles in English) that when watching Elementary, I forgot it was in English and found myself looking for subtitles and wondering what was wrong with the programme. How silly!! I’m putting it down to being tired and fed up of living in a guddle.

Anyway, on that note. I’m away to do something useful (probably ironing cos I lead such an exciting life!). Until next time.

Dawn xxx

A right busy old week and making sour dough

sour dough bread

Am feeling a bit tired after a busy old week chez moi. Hubby and I went to see Eminem at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow on Tuesday night. He was brilliant, but I’m at that age when a night out after a working day just drains me. Then I had a meeting with my publisher and two others the following night and didn’t get back in til after 9. Still it was a good meeting…it’s looking like DarkIsle 3 may be published in November. I hope so!

Anyway, feeling tired as I am this week I’ve not done any writing. So this weekend I am planning to get lots of rest and lots of reading (for pleasure) and writing (also for pleasure… I’m working on a sequel to Dusting Down Alcudia and I have an idea for a children’s book that’s been rattling about my head for a good couple of years).

Today I’m trying to make sour dough. Fingers crossed it worked, but I missed a couple of days feeding the sour dough starter and am not sure if it’s going to work or not. The kitchen smells a bit odd due to the starter. We’ll see what happens. It’s currently proving…not very well going by the look of it. I’m all inspired thanks to the wonderful bread my friend John made a couple of weeks ago. His bread looked fab.

Dawn xxxx

Do all boys have an allergy to soap and water?

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What is it with boys and showering?? Are they all the same? Yesterday I had an argument with the boy about going for a shower. He refused to have one and before I knew it, he had gone and gotten himself dressed for school. This is from the boy who takes ages to get dressed (normally) and can never get the buttons done on his shirt because “I can’t do it!”. Well I know now what I always knew and that is: he can do it and he can do it quickly. He had a shower this morning – I forced him into it for two reasons: 1) I don’t want him thinking he can get away without washing and 2) he soaked our bed last night – he sleeps really deeply and often doesn’t feel himself peeing. Last night, around 3.45am I suddenly woke up, realised he was in beside me and his dad and then…well…you know how you just know something isn’t right? I tentatively put out a hand and patted around about the boy. The bed seemed dry. I patted his legs and bingo! He was wet. So, I got him up, cleaned and changed and put him back in his own bed. Then I had to wake hubby – who was working today – and strip our bed. No wonder we are both tired today!!!

Yesterday, spent a happy day in Glasgow with my friend Tracy looking at fabric and notions in Mandor’s store near Sauchiehall Street. It was raining on and off yesterday, but that didn’t stop us oohing and ahhing at all the lovely things the store had. Then we walked down Sauchiehall St in search of some lunch. We headed down the bottom end of the street and dropped into Dino’s restaurant for a fry up. Dino’s doesn’t look at all fancy from the outside, but is a traditional Italian restaurant that does great pizzas and pasta. I love it because the food’s good and decor doesn’t look like it’s changed since the 70s. The staff are really nice too. We had a full breakfast with tea and it was lovely. We’d been too early for pizza, but the food was good anyway.

After Dino’s, Lakeland called. Based within Buchanan Galleries, the store is one of my favourites. I know there are folk out there who won’t understand why, but if you love cooking and home-making, Lakeland’s the place for you. Picked up some rennet to give cheesemaking a go. We’ll see what happens with that!! They also have a nice range of kitchen utensils, which neither I nor Tracy could resist coohing over. It’s great having a friend who loves all that stuff too!!

On the writing front, I am about the point where I am going to publish my book for adults on Amazon as a Kindle book. I will also look at doing it in other formats too. The book is called Dusting Down Alcudia, it’s an adventure story about a female archeologist who goes treasure hunting on Mallorca. It’s inspired by a holiday hubby and I had many years ago before our two kids came along. Watch this space for more information – I am planning to put up the first chapter for you to read. While Dusting Down Alcudia is not 50 Shades, there is a bit of romance going on there…nuff said!

Right, am off to put another washing out on this lovely sunny day we are (unusually) having today and start on the housework I was supposed to do yesterday!

Until next time!

Dawn xxx

PS images are some shots I took of the garden this morning.

Chocolate, GB Sewing Bee and Game of Thrones…Heaven!

Easter 2013

This house has been Choc-tastic this week with the amount of yummy Easter Eggs the kids have been given. Hubby and I also gave each other one and mine is now finished (it was  Munchies egg with two packets of Munchies, a lovely choc egg and a mug – it was delicious and calorific but I enjoyed every bite!!). I’ve been rationing the kids. The girl has been known to eat sweets until she is sick (at my parents’ house…thanks mum!!) plus I don’t want them overloading on sugar, so they still have quite a bit of the chocolate left. In saying that, it’s only Wednesday and they should have some left.

So how’s your Easter been? Hubby and I were both off Friday – Monday this week, so it was nice to have everyone around. We didn’t do much, but it was nice just to pootle around the house and have a bit of family time. We took the offspring up to Geilston Gardens to do the annual Easter Egg hunt…it was really cold, but the gardens were still beautiful and we had a lovely time following the clues so our two could get their eggs in the end.

Yesterday, we had a gang of kids round getting their pictures taken for something I’m doing at work. The house was heaving with kids and adults, but it was fun.

Today, the girl has already left for a sleepover, the boy is playing a game and I’m catching up on writing (DI3 draft is away to my publisher), housework (mound of ironing waiting to be done…sigh. You know how much I “love” ironing) and other stuff. The girl has put in a few orders for dresses for her dolls. I made one already – I would have shown it but she’s away to her sleepover with doll and dress – and have a few more to do. I may start another one tonight, depends on how I get on today. I’m wanting to start re-editing my book for adults today. Am keen to get that away.

Did anyone see the Great British Sewing Bee programme last night? Myself and my friend watched it in our own homes, but commented via text on the various things that were being made. We both thought the older lady was a pretty good sewer and felt poor Michelle, who was a bit ambitious about using silk for a reversible dress,  shouldn’t have been put out. She seemed to me to be a better seamstress than the two men.  Anyway, there was nothing made last night that I can truly say I liked, although I quite liked the car fabric and the green dress fabric. Roll on next week, I say. I enjoyed the programme and as a novice sewer myself thought the tips were quite good. We shall see if it holds my attention.

Talking of telly, did anyone see the first episode of the new series of Game of Thrones on Monday night? I just love Game of Thrones. The first episode was a bit tame, but the previous series’ first episodes were the same, they are mainly there to set the scene for what comes after. Just invested in a complete set of the books so far, but am worried that if I read past book 2, I’ll be spoiling the tv programme for myself. Dilemma dilemma. Hey, if that’s the worst thing I’ve to worry about, I’m doing okay! Anyway, am looking forward to the rest of the series. Tyrion Lannister is still my fave character!!

Also back is Castle AND a new series of The Big Bang Theory starts soon! This is great because there has been a dearth of good tv programmes recently and I haven’t been watching an awful lot of it. Just Elementary and reruns of Poirot (although I think I’ve now seen every episode at least twice by now). I suppose it’s a good thing that I’m not the telly addict I once was…means I get on with other stuff.

The other thing I’ve been doing is making bread in my new bread maker. Just bought a cheap one out of Argos, but it makes really nice bread. Don’t get me wrong, I do prefer to make bread by hand (now that I have finally learned how to do it after years of making bricks!!), but I often don’t have the time or inclination. The bread maker means I can just bung some ingredients into the maker and just leave it…excellent. This means we have fresh bread more often…double excellent. Thank you little sister for being the first in the family to buy a bread maker and sing its praises thus encouraging our mum and then me to buy one for ourselves!!!

Right am off. Until next time and Happy Easter!!

Dawn xxx