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?

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?!!

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˜€

A family weekend of fun – take 2!

On Saturday my Mum-in-Law, L, KY and I went for a walk and a picnic … we drove down country lanes … we parked on the side of the road … we walked down mud and grass tracks … we explored inside the woodland … we sat and ate yummy food in the sunshine … we had fun! πŸ™‚

And I got to indulge one of my passions …

… and take lots …

… and lots …

… of photos!! πŸ˜€ I was a happy bunny! πŸ˜›

There were hundreds of these bright red, cheerful poppies lining the edges of the fields – don’t they just make you want to smile?!? πŸ™‚

Then there were the trees …

… the breath-taking views …

… beautiful butterflies (yes, I do have a bit of a thing about butterflies! πŸ˜‰ ) …

… oh yes, and the lovely people I was with!! KY was slightly aghast that I was snapping her with her mouth full :P, and L was pointing out how dower the lady on the front of the crisp packet looked … yup, I have a family full of character and originality!! πŸ˜‰

KY went delving through the bushes into the seemingly impenetrable trees and, after a while of hearing her crashing around in the undergrowth, we launches in to the adventure from another spot … and found this little clearing!

There was lots of spreading bracken … some of which came up as high as my ribs! Just imagine what a giant plant that must seem to a little kid!! πŸ˜›

The light filtered and shone through the trees, leave, branches above my head …

It was a lovely, peaceful afternoon …

… full of fun and silliness …

… family and food …

… and the amazingΒ  and awe-inspiring beauty of our surroundings! πŸ™‚

What are some of the beautiful things you have seen this week?

Just Three

My older sister over at Hope Scribbles tagged me, so here goes …

Elisabeth shared three of her favourite Bible verses, so that is what I have to do too – share with you three of my favourite Bible verses …

A few minutes ago I was actually think, “help, this is dreadful, can I only think of one verse?!”

Having thought about it some more, I’m now thinking, “only three?!? Can’t I pick more than that?! Ahhhh!!”

Here is my agonizingly narrowed down selection. Sometimes I really need that reminder that there are so very many treasures in the Bible – more than I will ever be able to discover in my lifetime!! Pretty awesome, huh?!!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,Β  neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55 v 8-9What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us?Β  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who diedβ€”more than that, who was raisedβ€” who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8 v 21-39

Ok, so maybe I cheated a little there, but seriously, I don’t this block of verses can be split up without loosing some of the significance and impact. True promise-griper this one.

For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. – John 3 v16-17

I find verse 17 almost as important to me as verse 16 …

So, I need to pass this here ‘ol tag along … let’s see … ah haΒ  – got it! I am tagging … drum roll please!!! … these three lovely bloggers:

Nicole, who shares her daily joys and struggles at Simple Moments

Lauren, who keeps me smiling over on You Big Eejit

Krista, who writes so eloquently and wisely at Between The Stacks

Nicole, Lauren and Krista: share three of your favourite Bible verses on your blog – yes, i know it’s jolly hard to choose!! πŸ™‚ – then tag three of your blogging friends!

What are some of your favourite Bible verses? Why?

Maybe I’m reading too many books at the same time …

Someone asks you: “How many books are you reading at the moment?”

What would your answer be?

If you said “three”, then you got the same answer as me!

Only I was wrong. I’m actually reading six books right now. Six?!

Yup, six!!

#1 - The Lord of The Rings

This is the book I have been reading the longest for … um, ok, let’s just say it’s rather longer than a year!! πŸ˜› Strictly speaking, L and I are reading this together.

The Christmas after we started going out, L and I stayed with his family for a week and both L and his Mum went down with some yucky sickness bug on Christmas morning – yeah, they were miserable! 😦 Oh yeah, and I was left to myself with a L’s Dad, sister, brother and sister-in-law, all of whom I’d met for the first time only a few days ago … and I helped said sister and sister-in-law cook a massive Christmas dinner, something I’d never done before in my life!! I’m sure the fact that L’s sister (now my sister-in-law!! he he) and I are such good chums is owed to the bonding done that first Christmas over trying to work out how long to roast the turkey for and whether or not the bread sauce was the right consistency!! πŸ˜‰

In an effort to bring some kind of comfort to my bed-ridden boyfriend, I offered to read to him. Out of the three books I had with me, the only one which took L’s fancy was The Hobbit. I was reading it for the first time and was 2/3rds of the way through, but as he already knew the story, I carried on reading it aloud to him as he gradually got back on his feet.

Then L found out that I had never watched or read The Lord of The Rings either! Being an enthusiast of the book from I think it was 11/13, he declared I must read the book before I watched the films. I’ve watched the films of books I love and found them disappointing numerous times, so I agreed.

I had grabbed this old (and now, after numerous journeys in bags, knapsacks and suitcases and falling off the bed when I’ve fallen asleep mid-sentence, even more beaten-up!) copy from a second-hand bookshop for 2.50 -bargin! So the very next time L and I spent a Saturday together, once we’d finished The Hobbit, one wet, rainy and gray January afternoon in 2010, I tucked this weighty volume in my kithen-sink of a bag and prepared to enter the wonderous world of the Hobbits, which I had already fallen in love with through Mr Baggin’s own book.

We have made often slow, sometimes fast and always sporadic progress through the three volumes of the trilogy. We finished the first book a while ago and are about half way through the second.

I’m the one that reads out loud and for some reason, there is nothing that sends to sleep faster!! Especially in the months leading up to our wedding, when I was exhausted all the time, I would maybe get through a whole page before drifting off … !! L teases me that I can fall asleep mid-word and don’t even put the book down and turn the light off before my eyes are shut, but I don’t even realise I’m doing it!! he he πŸ˜›

My aim is to finish it before this next Christmas … let’s see if we manage it!! πŸ˜€

Have you read either The Hobbit or The Lord of The Rings? Or both?! What did you think of them?

#2 - Chasing Darkness

It might come as a surprise to some that I love, really love, reading detective/mystery/crime books!! I guess it all started aged four, when my older sister J and I used to beg every night for “just one more” chapter of The Secret Seven.

We read, were read aloud, or listened on tape to numerous Secret Seven, Famous Five and The Adventure series by Enid Blyton. At one time we heard a couple of The Five Findouters, but they didn’t stick around with us for long and all I can remember from those stories is a red-faced policeman and the writing of a letter in invisible ink – which could only be read once it was ironed! πŸ˜€

When round at church family’s houses I remember seeing bits of a cartoon (we didn’t have tv, just a video-player from when I was … about 8ish I think) about a detective mouse – did any of you watch this cartoon? What was it called?!

We had this cool book that I loved looking at, which was drawn in cartoon-like characters, mostly pictures with just some paragraphs on each page (the kind of book I liked the most until I was 13 and decided I liked reading! πŸ˜› ). It wasn’t until many years later that I realized that it was an educational book, and not just a story … I never connected the characters (called things like Noun, Verb, Adverb …) to the English grammar I loved learning about and I never realised that all the adventures these little detective guys got up to, were each examples and illustrations of the function of the English word-type they were representing … !! πŸ˜› But hey, I realised this before I got to 10 (I think?!) and before that the book did it’s job, as I loved English grammar and it was one of my better subjects in school.

I think the most engaging element of this book for me, was that it was all about detectives rooting out the bad guys, robbers (yup, complete with blue-and-white-stripped tops, black eye-masks and brown sacks over their shoulders!) always trying to get away, but never quite making it and lots of mysterious places, disguises and travels to exotic locations … ! What more could a kid want?! And in a format that made it possible to make up numerous different stories from just one picture!!

Through years of playing so many different types of imaginary games, my sisters and I had two main themes (ok, correct me if I’m wrong here girls! πŸ˜‰ ) that were consistent (with variations) through the years –

1) Old-fashioned: poor miner’s wives after we’d visited an old reconstructed miner’s village; poor families or maid’s of the great house, when we were learning about the Victorians; highwayman and their captives when reading a story about highwayman during the Stuart times; princely heroes, deadly villans (I loved playing the villan and scared my youngest sister so much with my evil chuckle – sorry Lady G …!!) and castles containing fair maidens in distress when we were learning about or reading stories about the times of Knights, Ladies and Castles; Robin Hood I talked about in a previous post; and later, and much more consistently, The Importance of Being Earnest and all Jane Austen novels/films, or variations-there-on.

2) Detectives/Spies/Lawyers:Β  My older sister J and I, at I’m not sure what age, got these little doctors-nurses cases from a very old-fashioned store called Banburys, which to the little girls we were, had absolutely everything on its shelves that anyone could ever want and a great number of things beside (does this till exist anywhere?!). They had little syringes, thermometers, stethoscope, scissors and a little role of bandage, all housed in this little tiny red suitcase with clip-shut closers. Kids loose things, separate things, have multiple purposes for one item.

Those little red cases were secret computers for spies, the holders-of-all-secret-knowledge for detectives, the keepers of the earings-of-power (a pair of gaudy gold-and-bright-green plastic clip-ons that were in a party-bag …) …Most often, spy/detective secret cases, complete with a code-alphabet we got out Mum to write for us,Β  stuck with blue-tack inside the lid. The number of messages we wrote to each other “in code”; the number of times one of us proclaimed “no, you can’t see me, I’m wearing a DISGUISE!!”

At one point we formed this club called the “S6” = The Secret Six, which had four active members – my sisters and I – and two honorary members in the form of our parents. We made badges, created passwords, “solved cases” like a missing toy and even wrote a little news-sheet or two. We had our very own version of The Secret Seven … only for some reason we never came across any adventures quite as exciting as theirs!! πŸ˜›

As we got older, this morphed into playing lawyers defending their clients. I’m not sure what started this transistion, but I do know that unwanted house particulars (my parents were thinking about moving at that time – yes, my sisters, you may laugh at my polite generalization! πŸ˜› ) magazines with lots of pages, and copious “notes” (ie. bank pieces of lined paper with wavy-lines all over them, which we doodled on during our so-called listening-to-clients!). Our friend from our street was Miss Christine French and we had so many complicated cases on the go at one time.

As you get older, games become boring, unsatisfying and you begin the ever-growing longing to do and complete activities that have a grounding in reality; the yearning to interact with real people – not just the Mr Brown and the Mrs Humphries fighting an imaginary battle-turned-law-suit; the Robin Hood defending from injustice the tortured poor you can’t see; the detective following a spy who doesn’t exist.

So now I’m “all grown up”, I fight injustice by learning how to help teenagers help themselves, I fight a very real battle against the things in my life which threaten to overcome me – just without the aid of lawyers – and as the only mystery solving I get to do is working out how to write a 2500 word essay in two days or how to make Β£30 worth of grocery only cost Β£25 – I read detective and crime stories, letting my imagination make them as close to real as I’m going to (thankfully!) get.

What kind of books do you like reading best? Why?