Tuesday, 31 August 2010

It’s A Bit Chilli…..!

After the disappointment of rain stopping play on Saturday, it was wonderful to wake up to glorious sunshine yesterday. We set off to nearby Woburn Sands & a certain garden centre that was hosting a Chilli Festival. 

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Lee & I went on our own as both boys turned their noses up at what was on offer, preferring to lure of the skate park & X-Box!! To be honest, it was lovely to be just the two of us for a change!

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The place was buzzing!!

These guys were very enthusiastic in belting out a medley of well known Mexican tunes…



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There was a huge display of Chilli plants, of all varieties & plenty of staff to answer our questions on how to get the best results with our crops!

There were chilli’s there I’d never even seen before…

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     …& best of all we got to taste them!!

2010Aug30 005These were  a few I recognised…

Jalapenos, Hungarian Hot Wax & Scotch Bonnets, all of which I grew earlier this year on my kitchen windowsill, with varying degrees of success!!

So, armed with all our new found information, I’m hoping for a better crop next year!

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Of course Lee, ever the exhibitionist, almost found himself drafted into the band…I was quite impressed with what he can do with his maracas!!!



We are both lovers of Mexican food & generally, the hotter the better, so the fact that there was a chef on site, preparing food to taste was an opportunity to see just how hot we could go!!  There were big burly guys there, going bright red after sampling the medium hot dish, so I was quite proud to keep my end up & not flinch at a mouthful of ‘Scotch Bonnet' & tomato chutney!!  Lee went on to try some others …

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…the last of which did actually leave his lips numb!!! Perfect!!

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Inspired, he hunted out a jar of Chilli puree made from the hottest Chilli on the planet!! The jar carried a warning not to allow it to be given to children, the elderly, or anyone with a heart condition!!  I’m looking forward to adding that to a few of our favourite dishes very soon!!

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Then it was time for a bit of browsing around the award winning Food Hall…

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…we got to taste a bit of local cheese that could have been made especially for me!!…


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   …& it was just a good thing that 
   these lovelies were behind glass!!


After selecting a few more Chilli related goodies, a tray of pansies for my winter pots, we even managed to find a couple of Christmas gifts in the fabulous main shop! It’s never to early when you see the perfect thing is it!!! 2010Aug30 057Then it was off into Woburn itself for a good old mooch!! 

Woburn is such a pretty place, little more than a village, but so pretty & it has a lovely selection of shops. We spent ages in the antique fair & then headed into the Black Horse pub for some ‘refreshments’!!

2010Aug30 050 All very civilised & made even more enjoyable for being sans boys!! I love ‘em to bits but every now & then it’s good to just please ourselves!! It’s actually quite nice to think that very soon we may be able to get the odd evening out without having to budget double the cost for a sitter!

2010Aug30 051As we sat there, enjoying the ambiance of a real grown up pub, we tried to remember our last night out together!!! We came to the conclusion it was for our last anniversary…September 6th 2009!!!! How sad is that?!!!

Anyway I digress!!!  We headed back to the car, passing this fabulous old post box, still in use!!

We took the scenic route back through the villages  & past Woburn Abbey to home! The boys were fine & pretty much as we’d left them, skating & X-Boxing!!

I wound up my Bank Holiday Monday by preparing for….yes you’ve guessed it…

It all kicks off tomorrow, & I’m ready to roll! My mini album has it’s covers, is bound & decorated. All it’s pages are prepped & in situ! All I have to do now is look out for those little lessons daily & commit them to paper for posterity!! I will be blogging my pages as I complete them, so do check in & see how I’m doing!!!

To get things started…here’s my  album cover…

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I’m off now to cut the boys hair & get labels sewn into new uniform!!!

Thanks for dropping by…come back soon! : )

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Bank Holiday Weather, My Favourite Day & an Award…!

We awoke this morning to glorious sunshine & as it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, I had hoped that we would get out & about. While we drank a leisurely coffee, made & brought back to bed by my lovely hubby, he scrolled through a list of local events online…whatever did we do before i-phones?!!!

We selected one or two options & I jumped in the shower, while hubby went off to wake the boys & let them know our plans. This is where it all went pear-shaped!!!

The British weather sure knows how to play a game…I should have known that a Bank Holiday weekend could almost be guaranteed to be wet…& sure enough, before we’d even finished breakfast the sun had disappeared behind some very threatening clouds! We took the decision to take a literal rain check on the options for a day out…all had been outdoor events & why spend good money just to huddle under umbrella’s while standing ankle deep in mud?!!

There was one weather highlight though……

…a rainbow never fails to bring a smile to my face!

So what have I done with my day instead?  Attempted to make a dent in the ironing?  No…I’ve had a lovely time at my scrap desk, preparing my album cover & pages for ‘Learn Something New Every Day’…4 days & counting!!!

Tonight is the cut off for the latest challenge over at ‘These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things’…this time ‘My Favourite Day’ & coincidentally that would be today, or rather Saturday’s in general & here is my LO…

Apart from the occasional scrap related trip out for me, Saturdays are our family day…the day when we don’t have to watch the clock, but just enjoy the day & each others company.  Sometimes we may have a day out planned, other times we are all at home, pottering around doing our own thing!  But whatever we do, it’s the best day of the week!!

Finally, the lovely Denise, over at ‘Dens Crafty Diary’ has kindly passed on an award to me, along with some very kind words, so THANK YOU Denise!!!

August28CThe rules say that I must say Thanks to the sender, post the award on my blog , tell you three things about myself & pass the award on to five more people. So, with the first two done, here are three bits of trivia about me…

1. I am completely deaf in my left ear. It was picked up at primary school but there was nothing to be done, so I just live with it. It is surprisingly common & I guess you don’t miss what you’ve never known!

2. I’m a closet Trekkie!!! In fact Nathan was nearly called Tiberius (which is what the ‘T’ in James T Kirk stands for)…it was all on the toss of a coin!! I was under the influence of Morphine, post C-section at the time, but it was a close call!!! 

3. I am a huge Marilyn Monroe fan…she has fascinated me all my life. She died when I was three but her films have kept her legend alive & I now own many on VHS/DVD along with a small library’s worth of books…in fact my scrap room walls are adorned with my favourite Black & White shots of her… a true icon!

And a picture that I love….

a maze ing

This was taken on Fathers Day back in 2008 & was one of those photo’s that just turned out perfectly!  We were in a timber maze in a local park & I was lucky to get them all to do want I wanted while I snapped away! I’ve scrapped it twice, once as part of a double LO with other photo’s taken that day, entitled ‘A-Maze-ing’ & on a one photo single LO called ‘My Guys’. How often do I manage to get all three of my guys in a photo together & all smiling?…very rarely!!!! 

I just love it!!!

So, who am I going to pass this award on to?  Well, I’ll  choose from those Blogger chums who I don’t think have already received it from someone else & pass it onto…

1 . Karen…my good friend, scrap buddy & travel companion. Multi talented scrapper, photographer & anything else you care to mention!!! Do visit her blog ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ for a chuckle & some inspiration!

2. Sian…at ‘High In The Sky’…another talented scrapper & amazing storyteller. Her blog should be syndicated, it’s such a delight to read!

3. Jocelyn… a very dear stateside blogging chum who shares her wonderful creations & day to day life on her blog ‘Simply Me’…do pop over & check out her wonderful attitude to life!

4. Mel…who is celebrating her first anniversary of blogging with a giveaway over at ‘I Speak Melsh’…well worth checking out!

5. Mary Lou, another stateside blogging chum who’s blog is just wonderful! She is currently preparing for her daughters wedding & sharing everything! Sigh!!
Do pop over & be inspired yourself at ‘House Of Whimsy’.

So that’s it for now, thanks for dropping by & come back soon!!  : )

Friday, 27 August 2010

It’s Countdown Time Again!…..

This time next week my boys will be back at school, although whoever thought that Friday was a good day to start a new term obviously thinks differently to me!!! My boys are diligently crossing off the days on the calendar & trying to cram as much into their last week of freedom as they can! While I’m scratching my head & wondering where the summer holidays went…the last five weeks have just evaporated without a trace!!!

Uniforms have been dug out of wardrobes…trousers checked for length ( Alex has grown a whole 2” since July!!)…shoes tried for fit & both boys need new!!  So once the Bank Holiday weekend is over we will be hitting Clarks to brave the rush, for school shoes & trainers for both ( Bye bye ££££’s)….New bags have already been bought, chosen for ‘coolness’ by them & practicality by us…we did manage a compromise after some serious haggling!  

In addition to all these back-to-school preparations, I also have a count down to something… the 1st of September see’s the start of Shimelles ‘Learn Something New Every Day’ class.

I signed up last year & even bought the gorgeous accompanying kit, but as things transpired I didn’t get to take part at all!! So everything has been pulled out, dusted off & is ready to roll for 2010! I am hoping to get all my prep done before everything kicks off so there will be no reason not to keep up!  Do pop over & check it out here….Shimelles classes are such great value & there is so much inspiration & so many new friends to be made in the forum!

Now, in my last post I mentioned that I had received a rather lovely parcel….what could it be? I hear you ask!!!! 

P1030822-2Well, it had winged its way to me from the lovely Sian, from ‘High In The Sky’ & was, of course, the first book chosen for ‘Pass The Book’. It came beautifully wrapped & inscribed, along with a gorgeous note card that just begs to be included in a LO….so I’ll probably include it in the LO planned to commemorate my time with this wonderful book!

P1040076Aptly titled ‘Where Women Create -book of inspiration’ it is a wonderful read, as much for the voyeuristic peek into the lifestyles of all the creative women featured, as for the actual creatively inspiring projects, hints, tips & anecdotes. I now have serious craft-space envy, but have managed to glean some useable ideas for implementing in my own humble craft space!!!

Thank you so much for sharing this book, Sian!  I will hang on to it for just a little longer, but will be offering it up for random selection & the next adoptee soon…keep watching this space!!

Thank you so much for stopping by & I hope all my UK visitors enjoy a wonderful (& hopefully dry & sunny!!) Bank Holiday weekend. Blessings to all!! : )

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Pussycat, Pussycat where have you been…..

I’ve been to London to visit the queen….but I’m sorry to report that she wasn’t at home!! It’s amazing, but we’ve been back from London for a whole week…& at last I find a moment to sit down to share our adventures with you!

L I must explain that although I HAVE been blog hopping since we’ve been back, I have been using my new toy! My lovely new laptop PC, which was a birthday present from Lee! The only snag so far is that I have yet to install a photo editing programme, so I’ve had to wait until now, when I can escape to my scrap-space & post using my fully established desktop PC!!

As an aside, he also included with my laptop, a Cath Kidston soft sleeve in the red spot design, which I was just as thrilled with as the laptop itself!! The boys added to my present with a new external hard-drive, which has a one whole ‘terrabite’ of storage…apparently room for about a gazillion photo’s!! That’ll do me just fine!!!

So…before I go any further, I would like to say  HUGE Thank You to everyone who took the time to leave such kind words & birthday wishes! Although I feel I have been totally spoiled with wonderful gifts from family & friends, I was totally unprepared for the number of emails, facebook messages & forum messages on the various websites I frequent, not to mention the actual cards that came through the letterbox! I am blessed indeed! Thank You everyone!

Now, back to the actual trip!

Firstly the flat…we were lucky enough to have the use of a friend of Lee’s London flat. They were at Coventry Poly together & unlike Lee, his friend went on to become a Multi Millionaire!!!! The flat is where he lives while he’s in town on business & as he wasn’t there last week, he very kindly offered it to us. It is very conveniently situated in a very salubrious part of town, just off Sloane Street, & occupies the second floor of a beautiful Regency Mews House. I’m sure you’ll understand why I don’t feel it’s right that I give you a complete photographic ‘guided tour’ but here are some highlights!


The entrance hall had under-floor lighting… my boys just loved this!





They also loved that there was a full size pool table in the open-plan living room & spent every moment that we were ‘in’ honing their cue skills!

London2 London4 I was particularly impressed with the en-suite bathrooms…Jacuzzi baths, built in TV screens & these illuminated shower screens…the light filaments are actually sandwiched within the glass of the screens! The showerheads were huge & adjustable from light rainfall to full power!!

Our first day was a damp one, so we headed off for a bit of retail therapy! First stop Covent Garden & Shelton Street…A skateboard shop for Nathan & for me…Cath Kidston! I had had the new magazine through & wanted to get the new ‘Day’ bag (which is the ‘bucket’ bag revamped) in the khaki spot design! 

After lunch & a bit of time watching the street performers (which totally freak Alex out BTW, so hence no photo’s of them to share!) it was off to Harrods & the toy department for Alex’s birthday presents..he has a passion for Lego & the X-Box game ‘Halo’ & Harrods stock the whole range of Lego Halo vehicles, so he picked out two, which took him an age but he enjoyed every moment! 

We stopped by the Food Halls on our way out, to pick up some Lola Cupcakes, in lieu of birthday cakes, for the next day! Alex & Nathan chose Oreo, Lee chose peanut butter & I went for Red Velvet.


I would like to say that they were as delicious as they look, but they were disappointingly dry!

Our actual birthday dawned dry & sunny…Yay!  After a lovely breakfast of fresh croissants & pain au chocolat, we opened the cards that had arrived prior to our leaving home. Then we set off to the South Bank & wandered a bit…until Alex became a bit agitated with the crowds & we found a quiet spot to enjoy an ice cream! Then it was time for the Duck Tour!

I have been wanting to take the boys on this tour for years! It’s a sightseeing tour in a yellow amphibian ‘bus’…after half an hour driving around it takes you down a slipway & into the Thames for another half hour on the water!! I could not wait to see the boys faces as we went into the river!








The vehicles sit VERY low in the water & the sides are open so there was much squealing & merriment as river water splashed in whenever we crossed other boats wakes!


Alex absorbed all the information the guide gave out about how these vehicles were developed to take part in the Normandy Landings &  explained that the sides were low so that the rescued soldiers could climb in easily!

Once back on terra-firma we headed back to Covent Garden, this time to my favourite bit…Neals Yard…






I love this colourful square, hidden away, & in the sunshine it is especially enjoyable! We had some lunch here & just soaked up the sunshine & the ambiance until the boys boredom threshold was breached!!

A bit more retail therapy followed, buying ultra cool ‘skate’ shoes for Alex & then we took a detour past Pineapple Dance Studio…London6

Back in the day, when I worked at Harrods, I used to attend Aerobics classes at Pineapple. Nowadays, I love the TV show & would have loved to have met Louis Spence, but sadly he wasn’t in!! Nathan stopped to watch the dancers for a bit & then it was on to the ‘The Forbidden Planet’ on Shaftsbury Avenue…Mecca for any Sci-Fi buffs, which Lee & Alex are!!  Another Halo vehicle was added to Alex’s collection before we headed off to Piccadilly Circus & the Trocadero!  Here I left my menfolk to amuse themselves on the gaming floor, while I headed off to Regent Street for a bit of window shopping!

 London11We rounded our day off at The Rainforest Cafe…


…yes! This is Lee, sitting at the bar!








We ate our meal, overlooked by this chap, who sporadically burst into life, swinging his arms & screeching…it made me jump every time!


Then it was back to the flat for coffee & cupcakes (yes those dry ones!!) & to watch a little TV on the biggest wall mounted screen I have seen outside of a cinema!! All in all a very enjoyable birthday!

Our final day was another dull & damp one! So pac-a-macs & brollies at the ready, we set off along Brompton Road to the Science Museum, only to discover that the best bit, the interactive experiments floor, was closed for refurbishment! So we ‘did’ the other three floors & then stopped for tea & sticky buns before popping next door to the Natural History Museum.

This was actually a fleeting visit as the queues were enormous, especially for the Dinosaur room & Alex was finding it difficult to cope, so we made our way to trusty ol’ McDonalds for lunch (!!!) & then returned Alex to the flat & the comfort of an X-Box game, while Lee, Nathan & I struck out again to check out Harvey Nichols refurbished Food Hall & a wander around my old haunts!

I love all the cobbled Mews, tucked away, & crossing over into Hyde Park to the serpentine. Strolling along Sloane Street, down to Sloane Square & along the Kings Road!  London7

There is a new sight to see too…Barclays have set up a cycle hire scheme, where banks of bikes, like this one in the Kings Road, are available to hire, very much like coin operated shopping trolleys, & then you return them to another ‘bank’ near your destination! It fascinated me, but I can’t help wondering how long it will be before all those bikes go missing!!! Am I just an old cynic?!!

So, that is just about it!  We returned home on Thursday evening to a mountain of post behind the front door…so many cards for both Alex & I that our sideboard is groaning!!  We ordered a takeaway & set to opening the presents we hadn’t taken with us to London! My good friend Karen had given me a wonderful package of goodies, including a book, entitled ‘Porn for women of a certain age’ which has kept me giggling ever since! I will share some of it’s contents with you in the near future! My M-I-L had sent a lovely cheque for me to book a spa day, so I have been thoroughly spoiled!!!!

I will close there…thank you so much if you’ve hung in thus far!!! You can guess that I will be working on getting my laptop up to speed asap…so it won’t be so long before I post again! I hope everyone is keeping well…I did receive a fabulous parcel yesterday…nothing to do with birthdays!!!…I will share more about that with you next time!!

Bye for now…:)

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Travel Companions reunited!…

Hard to believe, but in the seven weeks since we' returned from our Chicago trip, Karen, Hilary & myself have not all been together at the same time! So it was lovely to have the excuse of Hilary’s birthday to put that to rights! Hilary’s daughter was the catalyst, inviting us to join a group of family & friends at Hilary’s favourite restaurant ‘Yuva’ in Bassingbourne. I know I’ve said this before, but if you are local enough to pay them a visit, you will not be disappointed!!! Anyhow. I digress!!…

Another good thing to come out of this invitation was that my creative mojo got a kick up the backside, as I wanted to make a card for Hilary, using the butterflies in a similar fashion to a recent LO of mine that she had commented favourably on!! So this is what I put together…

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I think she liked it!!!

The evening was just lovely, we got to meet one of Hilary’s daughters & her boyfriend, along with several other of Hilary’s friends whose names we had heard before & can now put faces to! The birthday girl was radiant & much jollity ensued! The restaurant provided a celebration dessert, complete with an amazing indoor Roman candle!!!

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They also presented her with a bottle of wine to take home….all in all it was a very enjoyable evening, with, of course, more than a few reminiscences of our recent shared trip!!

There was even some discussion on where our next adventure might take us…Seattle? Texas? Boston?  The possibilities are endless…whoever suggested that  scrapbooking is a boring hobby?!!!


7Aug2010 015 There was one mishap to report…before the evening had even got under way!!! I had baked a batch of chocolate cupcakes, so that I could take one as a token birthday cake for Hilary. I was all ready to go, wearing a new white sprigged dress (worn for the first time, as it, at last, fits me properly!!!), & as I was early, I sat down on the sofa….MISTAKE!!! The boys had each had a cupcake & there were cake crumbs & frosting right where I sat!!!! So my lovely new, pretty, girly dress is in the wash before it’s even been properly worn!! I had to throw on something very quickly, but hey, the night wasn’t about my clothes & it didn’t spoil the fun at all!!


7Aug2010 011 To finish, I would like to share a photo with you that brings a lump to my throat every time I look at it!!!  Over at Dixie Pieces this month, they are setting a series of photographic challenges & the first was ‘catch lights’…to explore the available light in your home & capture someone with that little spark of light in their eyes.

I ran off dozens of shots of Alex as he lay on the floor, engrossed in an X-Box game, & when I uploaded them, out of all off them, I got this one… it may not be technically perfect  & the lighting is certainly ‘off’ but just look at how this boy is turning into a young man…I know I’ve asked this before, but where did my baby boy go? I think I blinked & he grew up!!!!!

So, I’m off now to commence packing for our three days in London! We have so much planned & we are going to be proper tourists!!! With both Alex & I celebrating our birthdays on Wednesday, that days activities are entirely our choice…no complaints allowed from the other parties involved!!!  I almost certainly won’t be posting again until our return, so I hope everyone has a good week ahead & I’ll be back soon…older &… errr…wiser???!

Thanks so much for stopping by! : )  

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

There are Perks?…!!!

I cannot believe that a whole week has passed  since I last posted!  We haven’t been far or done anything spectacular, but the days have been well filled with little spare time to surf the net or Blog-hop, so apologies if you thought I’d gone AWOL!!

I’ve been managing to get to the gym as usual this week & have completed 40 lengths of the pool each time…but was disappointed at weigh in this morning to have maintained!  But I’ve had a week like that before, with no apparent reason & the following week showed a good loss, so I won’t be falling off the wagon just yet!! 

A-Team-Poster-Quad-800x600We did go, as a family, to see the movie remake of ‘The A-Team’ last Friday. As a fan of the original series in the 80’s, I have been quite happy for me boys to watch the re-runs on Sky, as, although there is a lot of fighting & explosions, no-one is ever seen to be killed!! 

The new movie is true to that…even though you know that no-one would survive the kind of  bedlam portrayed, you just don’t see bodies or body parts!!  A terrific plot, great special effects & I embarrassed my boys more than once by laughing out loud at ‘Mad Murdoch’s antics!!

We rehashed the film over a meal at Pizza Hut & I am proud to say that I stuck to my daily points allowance & still managed to enjoy a very tasty Chicken Arrabiata, followed by an equally delicious (mini) slice of cheesecake & coffee!!

You may have noticed my countdown ticker in the sidebar…the big FIVE-0 looms ever closer!!  My (older) sister sent me an email this week, which I think she took great delight in!!  It consisted of the following list, which I just had to share with you! They all made me giggle, but #17 just made me laugh out loud!!

  The perks of reaching 50

Kidnappers are not very interested in you.

2. In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first

3. No
one expects you to run--anywhere.

4. People call at
9 PM and ask,"did I wake you?"

People no longer view you as a hypochondriac

6. There is nothing left to learn the hard way.

Things you buy now won't wear out.

8. You can eat supper at
4 PM.

You can live without sex but not your glasses.

10. You get into heated arguments about pension plans.

11. You
no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.

12. You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the    room.

You sing along with elevator music.

14. Your
eyes won't get much worse.

Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.

16. Your
joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service.

Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.

18. Your
supply of brain cells is finally down to manageable size.

You can't remember who sent you this list.

20....And you notice
these are all in Big Print for your convenience.

I have nothing scrappy to add this time around…& in all likeliness, won’t be scrapping much over the coming week!  We have a three day visit to London planned to celebrate my 50th &, of course, Alex’s 14th birthday, so preparations are afoot, booking restaurants, excursions & planning what needs to be taken with us! 

I’m away to my bed now, Hubby is already there, having endured rather nasty root canal surgery this morning. He’s dosed up with pain relief & is hoping for a good nights sleep!

Thanks for stopping by…I hope you are all surviving the school holidays thus far!!  I hope to be back before another week has passed!! : )