Two years!!!

At the end of our honeymoon I turned to my new husband and said, in slightly disbelieving-excitement “Do you realise we’ve been married for a whole week?!?

The ring goes on!!

This morning before he headed off for work, L and I looked at each other and said together “We’ve been married for two years!!!

So happy and oh yeah – the kiss was about to come! πŸ˜‰

The time has gone so quickly it seems impossible that we’re celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary already!

Isn’t the black-and-white with the one bit of colour wonderful?!

Being Mrs M, waking up next to L every morning and enjoying more hugs in one day then I used to get in a month is now so natural, so right that I find myself amazed that it’s only been two years!

It’s wierd the way passing time leaves you feeling that way.

We were both so glad that so many of our family, friends and church-family were there to celebrate our marriage with us!

Nana and I on my wedding day!

My sisters and I – love you!!

I love how happy we are! πŸ™‚

I put the socks and converses on after we got to the park and saw a long-cherished dream realised!! πŸ˜€

It was so much fun taking these photos on the swings!!!

One of my hubby’s favourites!!! πŸ˜€

Oh yes, and after all this time, I finally have an album of most of my favourite wedding photos (um, 200 plus of them … ! πŸ˜› ) and tomorrow am going to give my best friend R her completed chief-bridesmaid gift … let’s just say that I wasn’t the most organized bride in history … πŸ˜‰

I’m nearly out of photo storage space on my blog and haven’t yet decided what to do about it (any tips?!) so used photos of our wedding that we’re already stored on here – complete with the captions I added March last year!

Happy 2nd anniversary L!! πŸ™‚

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantΒ or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;Β  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.Β Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never ends.

1 Corinthians 13 v 4-8

August-in-a-blog-post …

… or something that attempts to sum up what’s happened in my month!

My August got overtaken with illness. Yup, it’s me that’s ill. It’s a long-term thing – been around for too long and not going away anytime in the near future. Some days are better than others and August has been a collection of mostly bad days. Life has been a struggle and finding the energy for the every-day essentials has been flakey, so my blog has sort of slipped …

I wanted to tell you because my blog and the blogging community I’ve found online has become very important to me. I love sharing my photos and life with whoever is reading these pages and getting to “meet” some of you fellow-bloggers and share my passions with you has been an amazing experience! Even though I have not been commenting on your blogs, I’ve been keeping in touch with what is going on in your lives, praying for you when you’ve had tough times and loving all the photos, recipes and fun! So I guess it’s my turn to ask for the prayers and/or thoughts. Not something that comes easily to me, but even though I don’t post as regularly as I want to, I’m not giving up!

Here are a few other things that happened in August …

I cooked a fish meal for the first time! I baked salmon in foil parcels with a sauce of chilli, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and oyster sauce, and lots of spring onion, red pepper and fresh coriander (cilantro). I served it with rice and green vegetables and it seemed to be a success! πŸ™‚

One of L’s cousins got married in a country manor house in Shropshire! The staircase used for the bride’s entrance was amazing! They handed out homemade dried-rose confetti and had a beautifully done afternoon tea for the first part of the reception! The couple was obviously happy, despite it pouring with rain most of the day and the bride’s vintage-style lace dress was pretty. There were some photos of L and I taken, but my father-in-law still has these! πŸ˜‰

My youngest sister had her 21st birthday!! Eeeek! Makes me feel old … πŸ˜‰ I had a lot of fun planning and creating a special gift for her. T has quite a number of pen-friends and writing letters and keeping in touch with them is important to her. I found a Jane Austen-style writing desk which I painted with her favourite flower – daisys! I also covered a box with old stamps from around the world (I love Ebay! πŸ˜› ) and filled it with notepaper and cards. My other two sisters had informed me that T was very set on having cards with 21 on them … so the card, some of the wrapping paper and a key-ring made sure she wouldn’t forget how old she was turning!! πŸ˜‰ My sisters and I have had this tradition of giving each other number badges for big birthdays and this year I got to buy the badge – I’ve been assured it will be pinned on her bag for a while! πŸ™‚

Just this past week we had some good friends of ours round for supper. E and S got married just 7 months after L and I did and L and E had lived in the same houses for 6 years and have been in a prayer-triplet together with another guy for nearly as long … so yeah, they go way back. They have had us round for dinner twice and we really wanted to have them round to our house – once we could find a date that worked for both couples, that is! πŸ˜‰

I kind of went a bit over-board on the cooking front … not at all common forΒ  me πŸ˜‰ I like to cook something which is ready ahead of time and just needs putting in the oven, so I baked Chicken, Leek and Cider Pie. It comes from this amazing pie recipe book that my sisters gave me for my birthday last year. I decided to replace the whole chicken and homemade stock with chicken pieces and chicken stock cubes and made a classic mistake – the recipe called for a chicken weighing 1.5kg so, of course, I bought 1.5kg of thigh fillets … let’s just say that not counting in the weight difference for a whole chicken made a massive quantity of filling! πŸ˜‰

Apart from that little slip-up, everyone seemed to enjoy the individual pies, sweet potato wedges and vegetables. For pudding we had lemon-curd biscuits, fresh fruit and homemade ice-cream. I’d been wanting to have a go at making my own ice-cream in ages and I found this recipe that just need me to whip up condensed milk, double cream and vanilla, then put it in the freezer and forget about it … until pudding time! πŸ™‚ So simple!

A few weeks ago L surprised me with this gorgeous bouquet of flowers – he knows how to make me smile! πŸ˜€

I hope to be writing again soon!

What has happened in your August?

Perfect afternoon!

The last two days we have been enjoying the nicest weather we’ve had since about May – blue skies, fluffy clouds, just the right strength of sun, cool breeze … perfect!

So L and I took advantage of it this afternoon and went walking!

We walked down through town to The Quay.

You can hire canoes to go up the river, or bikes to take on the tow-path … or you can walk up the paths, like we did. But first we stopped at a little place called The Jolly Roger’s Tea Room to but some scrummy ice creams which we munched on as we walked! πŸ™‚ I had maple, pecan and fudge in a waffle cone – you should try it sometime, it’s yummy! πŸ˜›

The river is beautiful, especially in this weather and I love having a piece of countryside so close to town!

Doubles Locks is a locally famous pub which is very popular as a walking and cycling destination. We sat under the magnificent cedar trees outside and enjoyed a chilled pint of beer/cider – ah!

There were lots of people there, enjoying the sun, the space and the good food and drink – it was nice and cheerful!

We had some fun messing around for a bit before starting off on the walk home …

We were quite tired by then and had sore feet by the time we got home again, but it was so worth it!! I haven’t enjoyed a Saturday afternoon so much in too long, and I got to spend it all with my lovely hubby! πŸ˜€

The Big Brisket Adventure

Last week I was – surprise, surprise! – in the reduced section of the supermarket!

I was on the lookout to for something special to cook for L that date night, as he’s pretty stressed about an interview on Thursday.

They had loads of reduced beef joints and I spied this one:

I’d heard somewhere that brisket could taste amazing and as it was a couple of pounds cheaper than the other cuts, that sealed the bargain for me! πŸ˜‰

After searching the internet and my cookery books for recipe suggestions, I took a few ideas from each of the recipes that sounded the best – and the easiest! – and combined them to make my own Brisket Concoction!

I started with onions and carrots …

… and chopped them up with a good number of garlic cloves. This was about 2pm in the afternoon.

Now I should have browned the beef, put to one side, browned the vegetables, then combined. However, I had to get to an appointment and was running late (hardly ever happens … πŸ˜‰ ) so I loaded the whole lot into my one and only prized LeCruset casserole dish, in one go, and browned the beef and the veggies, together with some chopped bacon – smelled good!

Next came the magic ingredient of ale, along with (cubed) beef stock, butter, brown sugar, tomato puree, plenty of herbs and an ingredient that I spent ten minutes popping round the corner to get:

Worcestershire Sauce!

I don’t know if it’s available in America, but I wouldn’t cook a stew, pie or beef joint without it – I even put it in my salad sometimes for an added zing! πŸ˜›

I let this bubble away and mix for a few minutes, before covering tightly with foil and shoving in the 160 C oven.

Then I dashed out the door and hoped the oven wouldn’t blow up while I was gone …

When I returned over two hours later I was grateful to find the apartment block still standing and the beef still simmering happily away in the oven – phew! πŸ˜‰

I think it was somewhere close to 6:30pm that I hauled this weighty dish out of the oven, when I removed the beef and covered with foil to keep warm and rest.

Boys and girls, please don’t try this at home …

At this point I intended to turn on the ring under the casserole dish full of sauce … after 7 or so minutes of not understanding why the sauce wasn’t starting to bubble, and why there was a sizzling sound, but no see-able action … I realized I’d turned on the wrong ring and was actually frying the bottom of the beef to a near crisp …

Personally I’ll try and skip that step next time! πŸ˜‰

Eventually I got the vegetables and sauce that the beef was cooked in bubbling away and thickened with some cornstarch.

I was absolutely thrilled to discover that my beef turned out exactly as all the recipes said it would – it wasn’t so much as carving as pulling melting bits off with a fork! Wow!!

I served the brisket with a generous helping of sauce, new potatoes and fresh vegetables.

I have to say, that sauce was delicious!! My best gravy yet! πŸ™‚

Oh yeah, and I got another three meals out of the rest of the beef so, I’m happy!! πŸ˜‰

Winning in inches

I’ve missed being around and posting here. I’ve missed sharing my photos, thoughts and laughs. I’ve missed you guys.

Right now I don’t have the head space for a full post, so here’s some thoughts that I’ve been finding helpful.

Victory is won not in miles bit in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more.

Louis L’Amour

Jesus will keep you strong until the end so that there will be no wrong in you on the day our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.

1 Corinthians 1 v 8

God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure He will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again.

Philippians 1 v 6


Smoothies with my Sisters

I was very happy that my Mum came too, but I couldn’t resist using this tongue-twister of a title! πŸ˜‰

We met in town this afternoon and went window shopping. My family lives in a little way away from town, so they generally have a few important things they’ve been storing up to do for a while … and I find myself, as someone who lives in the centre of town, as the guide! πŸ™‚

The ultimate goal was a smoothie bar … it took us a while to end up there and N and T were keen to get their smoothies in their hands – I think I did quite a funny, even if not accurate, imitation of a smoothie calling to T’s tummy! πŸ˜› I do love having fun with my sisters! πŸ˜€

Two of my three sisters have various food allergies, so a little smoothie bar is a great place where these can be easily and deliciously catered for – “I’ll have one of those and skip the yogurt”, “I’ll have this one but with apple instead of orange juice”. They were all yummy, but I think T’s choice of a Pineapple Passion was definitely the best!

N is one of those amazingly blessed people who can put on absolutely any hat (and I mean absolutely any!), no matter how hideous that hat, and look stunningly gorgeous in it! For many years the wedding hat sections of clothes stores has had an irresistable draw about itΒ  … N always comes out tops, but it doesn’t stop the rest of us from trying on all the fancy hats too!! πŸ˜€ It’s a tradition of ours!

I thought that the raincoat was a particularly elegant part of the outfit, wouldn’t you say?! πŸ˜‰

As I said, I love having fun with my sisters!

Thank you my dears!! πŸ˜€

Bluebell woods

Last weekend L and I were visiting his parents.

We had a lovely, relaxed weekend being looked after, fed delicious food, poured tasty wine and getting to go for some glorious drives and walks through some beautiful English countryside!

Sounds like a pretty good weekend to me! πŸ™‚

On Sunday afternoon, when we had an unexpected burst of clear sky and sunshine, L, my Mum-in-law and myself went in search ofΒ  some bluebell woods …

… and we found them! So beautiful!!

After a few weeks of heavy rain, massive puddles on the pavements, grey views from the windows, wet socks after grocery shopping and that heavy feeling that comes with a constant half-light, it was so freeing to be out in the country, with blue, lightly cloudy skies, warm sunshine, fresh air, birds singing, grass and wildlife sounds all around.

Ahh …

A wood full of bluebells – for me, the photos say it all!

Contentment.