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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Diamond Jubilee Tea Party!

This weekend people have been celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee all over England!

There have been massive celebrations and events over the last four days and we were given an extra bank holiday today, in addition to the normal June holiday yesterday.

I love the Queen and admire her very much and I have loved seeing the way communities have come together to celebrate our nations’ Queen 60th year of reigning as our monarch!

There have been concerts, parades, street parties, picnics, village lunches, commemorative services and gun salutes galore!

For my celebrations, I chose a wonderfully English Tea Party!

When organising things like this, I tend to leap in with a ‘all or nothing’ attitude. I get obsessed with the details, think about little tweaks and improvements even when I’m meant to be concentrating on something else, research the shops and web every couple of days, plan, plan and re-plan.

I started thinking about the tea party in March. The invitations were in the post by the middle of April.

Sadly, this didn’t stop me from becoming overcome by life and convincing myself I had two weeks preparation left … when I actually had just one … πŸ˜›

However, with the help of the wonderful man who is my husband, and the un-ending assistance of my dear friend K, who was staying that weekend, we made it to this point:

I went for a high tea theme of savouries as well as cakes.

I just had to have the traditional cucumber sandwiches and threw in a childhood favourite of Marmite and cress – yum! I was rather pleased with the mini quiches, which is something I’ve wanted to have a go at for a long time.

This wonderful cake stand – complete with coloured dots! – was a wedding present from my friend A and her husband. Doesn’t it look splendid all loaded up with sweet treats?! I was quite pleases with the sponge fancies I made – I decorated them with card-making decorations! πŸ˜‰

A made this scrummy chocolate cupcakes, which embraced the English Jubilee theme hook, line and sinker! Aren’t the decorations so cool?! I had a Big Ben!! πŸ˜€

One of my closest friends, R, baked scones and brought the essential clotted cream and jam to go with them. They were absolutely scrummy and the party would not have been complete without them!

I loved planning and setting up the details of napkins, tea cups and saucers, napkins, flowers, little decorations …

I snagged a beautiful vintage-style table-cloth from Ebay for a bargain price and dissected a wedding candle wreath to add some rose-like elegance to the setting.

All three of my sisters came, so plus my friends K, R, a and myself, we were a comfortable seven round our games-chest-come-coffee-table.

My final little thing was a favour bag, containing each girl’s favourite kind of chocolate – or as near to that as I could come! πŸ˜€

I’m so glad I threw my Jubilee Tea Party and hope that everyone who came had lots of fun!!

What did you English readers do to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee?!!

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?!

Surprise flowers!

I went out to get some wine and a pudding for date night.

I returned to find these sitting on my kitchen table!

Now what lovely man bought these for me?! πŸ˜‰

I’ve heard it said that men are not good at picking the right flowers or the right engagement rings …

My hubby just so happens to be a massive exception to that legend!

This flower L thought I would especially like!

Who couldn’t love this beauty?! I love the interweaving of the petals, the shape and the light and shadow contrasts! Despite not being a “pink girl” I actually think the colour of this flower is magnificent!

I do love taking photos of my flowers and experimenting with my camera!

Now that’s what I call a brilliant start to the weekend!! 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.

The Royal Mile – Edinburgh Part 3

I have read about the Royal Mile in story and history books and tried to imagine what it might be like. I think I based it on the nearest “big city” to where I grew up (it’s just a town really, nothing like a city!), then enlarged it in my town … combined with quite a bit of Bath (a city which features a lot in Jane Austen books/movies) … threw in the tiny amount of London I’d seen … much to my shame added some of the older parts of Washington DC (sorry for offending your sense of English or Scottish nationality … ) … and came up with something vastly different and vastly inferior to the regal and historic reality that is the Royal Mile, Edinburgh!

The Royal Mile begins at Edinburgh Castle and runs downhill, where it ends at Hollyrood House.

We started at the Castle, but didn’t make it all the way down to Hollyrood House. It’s just a mile, right? Trust me, psychology conferences and academic talk take it out of you! πŸ˜‰

The views were amazing and apparently it’s pretty unusual to get such amazing weather in Edinburgh in the spring – must have been saved up especially for us! πŸ˜‰

I especially loved the views from this side of the Castle, as there was so much green and springyness!!

I fell in love with all the daffodils and took many more photos of them than I’ll force upon you! πŸ˜›

But don’t worry, L made sure flowers were not the only local beauty that got caught on my camera! πŸ˜‰

Tonight my hubby and I are going to a whiskey tasting evening (including a 5-course meal – um, you’re meant to fit that much food inhow?!) with some friends. L’s friends clubbed together and bought this and a night’s stay in the inn for us for his 30th – we’ve been looking forward to this generous present for a long time! For those of you who might worry, photos will follow!! πŸ˜›

I am the gratified recipient of a blog award, so a post with the various instructions which come with it shall soon be coming your way … and check your comments, as some of my lovely readers will shortly be given the award as well!! πŸ˜€