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! 😉

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! 🙂

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

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

One of my hubby’s favourites!!! 😀

Oh yes, and after all this time, I finally have an album of most of my favourite wedding photos (um, 200 plus of them … ! 😛 ) 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 … 😉

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!! 🙂

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

1 Corinthians 13 v 4-8

Summer!

I promise you I have not completely disappeared … I just took an unplanned break … doing some summer things …

… like sitting with my hubby drinking wine, chatting and enjoying the evening sun coming through our windows …

… witnessing glorious sunsets …

… eating lots of fresh asparagus (between you and me I think L might wake up one morning and find his wife has turned into a stalk of asparagus 😉 ) …

… reading books on the Cathedral Green …

… attending the lovely wedding of lovely friends …

… and taking photos of fresh, juicy, bright red tomatoes! Not really a must-do summer activity, but come on, the colour has got to make you smile, right?! 😉

What are you doing with your summer?

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! 🙂 I had maple, pecan and fudge in a waffle cone – you should try it sometime, it’s yummy! 😛

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! 😀

Celebrating with curry!

This past Saturday we had an evening of celebrating L’s job with friends.

We started off with curry at The Bay Leaf Indian Restaurant – currently L’s favourite curry restaurant around!

YUM!

Yes, my hair does look wiered – I just cut it that day and it looks a bit too neat!! 😉

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! 😉

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 … 😉 ) 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! 😛

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! 😉

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! 😉

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! 🙂

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

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 … 😛

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! 😉

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!! 😀

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! 😀

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! 🙂

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! 😉

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!! 😛

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! 😉

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 🙂

What are you doing this evening?!