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?

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This evening

The last few days we have had beautiful weather! Blue skies, hot sun, light breeze! Lots of sun, but not too hot – just right! πŸ™‚

Right now the evening sun is pouring through my windows!

I love that our main kitchen/dining/living room faces west, and so catches lots of sunlight and golden shadows!

It even makes my crowded little tea shelf appear semi-attractive! πŸ˜‰

As those of you who have read my blog for long will know – I love taking photos of sunlight and shadow – even if that’s my dining room chair!! πŸ˜›

In this light my sun catcher comes into its own and looks beautiful!

Of course, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of my beautiful flowers in the sunlight! πŸ˜‰

Ok, so maybe I’m a little obsessed with this whole sun-and-shadow-photo-thing … !

While blogging and doing craft, I’m enjoying a big old bowl of fresh salad …

… and a little glass of white wine! Mmm πŸ™‚

What are you doing this evening?!

The Silly Hat Competition!

This afternoon my homegroup had a social in the local park. Lots of outdoor game stuff was brought, tins of cakes, flasks of tea and coffee … and hats!!

We were having a competition to see who was wearing the most silly/fun sun hat!! πŸ™‚ Of course, me being me, I had to go all-out for this! πŸ˜› I was going to win that competition!! πŸ™‚

After spending a few days thinking it over now and again, I came up with a plan! I’d started from objects I already had and then boom – the picture leapt into my head …

I started with this hat …

… this monkey …

Β … this cute little key ring …

… this squishy little frog …

… and lots of brightly coloured paper!

What on earth am I hoping to create?!?

Let the fun begin!! πŸ˜‰

Pencil, scissors, glue, stapler, thread, needle – check!

Snip, snip, dab or two of glue … scrunchy, scrunchy, staple right here … snip, snip, thread the needle … stitch, stitch, tie a knot … prick, prick, sigh of frustration … yup, yup, hubby applauds!

The finished product! I had to change monkeys, as the first one was too floppy! This one looks very nervous …! πŸ˜›

Introducing Summer 2011’s latest style in sun hats!!

Yup, I felt like I was ready for the Silliest Hat Competition!! πŸ˜€

We played frisbee, ping-pong, French cricket and rounders – kind of like softball!! I got hot, sticky and red in the face … but oh, it was so much fun! πŸ˜€

Guess what?! I won the SilliestΒ  Sun Hat competition!!! Whoop whoop!! πŸ˜›

Newtown 1 homegroup socials are awesome!! Thanks for such a fun time guys! Wonderful idea!! πŸ™‚

(Notice the N for Newtown and 1 on the icing of the cupcake?! So cute Esther! πŸ™‚ )

What fun thing/s have you been a part of this weekend? Do share!

Afternoon Tea with Lady Fortescue

There's nothing quite like a good cup of tea! Mmm

Growing up, my sisters and I used to play all kinds of imaginary games. The tree in the garden became Robin Hood and his Merry Men’s secret hideaway (or if we were feeling particularly protective of our status as girls, it was Maid Marian and her Merry Women!); the old window-seat in the lounge was sometimes a pirate ship, sometimes a hospital; the amazing dens our Mum helped us make out of the dining-room table, (aka: junk-room – we never ate a meal in there the whole time we lived in that house!) washing racks, massive old bedspreads, chairs, bookcases and lots of clothes pegs, were used for a barge which helped smuggle King Charles II out of England during the Reformation, The Little Princess’ attic bedroom, a shop, sometimes a restaurant, a cave in Swiss Family Robinson, Uncle Jim’s houseboat in Swallows & Amazons and often a treehouse!

I had many favourite toys growing up (one was a little square catalogue from a hardware store, useful in so many games!) but I think the one which was the most consistent favourite with my sisters and I throughout the years, was the dressing-up box! Yup, a huge cardboard box (and I mean huge – it was often used as a boat by J and I when we were 5&3!) filled with all kinds of old clothes. I believe it started with two skirts that my Mum had worn as a teenager, but which on a 3-year-old was a beautiful swirly dress, all the way to the floor. unique find from charity shops, sewing failures and unwanted pass-ons from family and friends all made their way into the dressing-up box … sometimes by accident!! I remember numerous occasions when a lost item of everyday clothing was found buried amongst odd hats and silk skirts with holes in them!

 

Me at about 4, looking very pleased with myself in my favourite "dress" and hat! The red check shirt was NOT dressing-up - you have to love the 80's! πŸ˜›

The games we played with the dressing-up box are far too numerous to list – or even to remember every one! Jane Austen was a staple favourite as we grew older and for quite a number of years we had a passion for The Importance of Being Earnest. This led to tea-parties … Victorian ladies … and the creation of Lady Fortescue!

Lady Fortescue was a lady of high-society, living in a massive Victorian country estate and a luxurious town-house. In one of these two residences, she would throw tea-parties and garden-parties, and even the occasional ball, to entertain her friends. This is where my memory fails me – there was definitely a Lady Glastonbury, I’m pretty sure a Lady Mansfield (maybe?) and although I can see my sister N sitting there, waving one hand as she talked about her husband suffering from gout, while clutching a cup of tea with the other hand, which was encased in a glove which was far too big for her, I cannot remember her Lady’s name!! Oh, Big-something … πŸ˜›

This game was taken everywhere, all the way over to America and back and was played regardless of surrounding or the lack of props – all we needed was our four imaginations and some random story, and we would sit talking for hours on long car-journeys, or waiting in boarding-lounges.

Eventually of course, we grew out of playing this and Lady Fortescue was resigned to the box under my bed, along with the blue gloves she wore to drink tea.

We have never grown out of our fondness for tea-parties though! Now, instead of playing pretend Ladys, we catch up about our real lives. Instead of dressing up in hilarious combinations of clothes, we wear pretty skirts – just an excuse to have fun! πŸ˜‰ And instead of drinking water out of mugs, and pretending it’s tea in fancy cups and saucers, we drink real tea out of real cups and saucers, dug out from under my bed just for special occasions like these!!

And yesterday, in honour of National Sibling Day (hey, any excuse to drink tea, dress up and have fun is a good one, right?! πŸ˜‰ ), I hosted a tea-party for my sisters.

 

"You are invited to a Strawberry and Cream Tea ..."

I loved preparing these napkins!

There were place-setting and a little gift for each of my sisters ...

... a little wall-hanging for J, to match her room ...

... a funny quote about hats for N, who is devoted to wearing hats! ...

... and a little heart-hanging for T, who adores little things! πŸ™‚

L took a photo of us before hiding away, out of harms reach, from girly chatter! πŸ˜‰

This was the first time I got to use this amazing cake-stand, a surprise wedding present from the lovely A!

Shortbread, to go with the strawberries, yum! πŸ˜›

Don't these look good enough to eat?! Well, that's exactly what we did! πŸ˜€ Lovely and juicy!! πŸ˜›

Setting up the table made me realise exactly how much of what lives in my kitchen cupboards is dotty ...

I was so pleased to find these cups and saucers a year ago, which I knew my sisters would love!

You have to have jam and cream on your scone!!

I had a go at cutting some of the scones out with a heart-shaped cutter - fun!

I could easily eat another one of these right now!!

Yummy scrummy!!! πŸ˜›

Meet Keith (L's big rainbow striped teapot) and Marilyn (my small dotty teapot)! They came from our respective houses and now share a shelf in our kitchen - very much at home with each other!! πŸ˜‰

Shortbread, cream and strawberries - this picture-perfect combination just has to be experienced!

T drinking ... um ... tea!! πŸ˜€

My sisters brought me this lovely big bunch of daffodils, which looked so beautiful in the evening sunlight!

Ahh, April!

This was so much fun to plan, create and share with my sisters, who will always be my favourite tea-party companions!! πŸ™‚

What did you and your siblings like playing when you were growing up?

Do you put cream on your scone first, then jam? Or jam first, topped with cream?

For me, I’m a cream-then-jam girl all the way!! Why would you put the jam on first anyway?!? πŸ˜›