A-Z of me: D

Hello chaps and chapesses!

D is for Dogs.

In the great universal philosophical battle between cat people and dog people, I’m definitely a dog person.  It’s not that I don’t like cats – a few of my friends have got cats and they’re lovely – it’s just that we always had dogs as family pets when I was growing up, and I just bloody love them.

Technically, my first pet dog was a Scottie called Bonnie.  When I was very little, we lived in a caravan on some land next door to my grandparents for a few months while our house was being built.  In the meantime, Bonnie stayed with my grandparents rather than deign to slum it in the caravan with us.  When we moved in to the house, she took every opportunity to run back to my grandparents’ house next door, so in the end they kept her.  That was when I was about two or three.

When I was four, we got Chelsea.  She was a West Highland Terrier (which, FYI, is not the same as a Scottie dog), and we called her Chelsea Bun as a fun and affectionate nickname.  She was part of the family for my entire childhood.  I can remember one Easter when I was about seven or eight, where we’d gone on holiday in our caravan and brought Chelsea with us.  I’d been sharing my Easter eggs with her all evening, until we were both sick.  I was heartbroken when we eventually had to take her to be put down at the grand old age of fourteen.

After Chelsea shuffled off her mortal coil, Mum and Dad got a King Charles Cavalier spaniel called Dougal.  They loved him to bits, and I thought he was lovely, but as they got him while I was away at uni, I always thought of him as very much my parents’ dog rather than mine.

As you probably know, the dog in my life at the moment is a cheeky young scamp called Toby.  He’s a rescue dog, and he’s lived with us for almost two years now.  He’s a cross breed, and we think there’s a bit of labrador, whippet and terrier in there – he basically looks like a labrador puppy, even though he’s about five or six and going grey.

He has his moments, but generally he’s a lovely little bundle of cuteness, and I absolutely love him to bits.  I don’t have any photos of Bonnie or Chelsea or Dougal, but I do have one or two snaps of Toby Le Rone…..

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Where do you stand on the cats vs. dogs debate?

Photo an hour

Hello chaps and chapesses!

On Saturday I took part in the #photoanhour challenge hosted by Jane from Is That You Darling.  This happens once a month, but this is the first time I’ve taken part.  I think it’s quite a fun way to have a nosey at how people spend their weekends, so I think I might do this again next month.  Are you excited?  Yay!

Quick disclaimer – I took all these pics on my phone, so sorry about the rubbish quality.

Anyway, this is what my Saturday looked like:

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9am: Honey and banana on toast.  The breakfast of kings.

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10am: I gave the house a light dust and polish.  I am not a person who enjoys cleaning, so I thought it would be good to get it out of the way early.

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11am: I finally got properly dressed after a long shower that involved leg-shaving, face-masking and eyebrow-plucking.  I decided it would be a specs and stripes kind of day.

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12pm:  Vegetable soup and a leftover mini naan for lunch.  Yum.

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1pm:  I ventured to Sainsbury’s.  On a Saturday.  I thought it would be hell and stress, but it wasn’t actually that busy.

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2pm:  Ham and cheese toastie, with a healthy blob of salad cream.  Because sometimes one lunch isn’t enough.

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3pm:  Catching up on some blogging while Graeme watched middle-aged men shouting about football on Sky.

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4pm:  Chilling with my book.  I was reading The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, and took this pic just after reading a bit that had nearly made me cry.  She’s good, that Jojo.

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5pm:  We took Toby on a doggy play date with our friends and their pooch, Poppy. We went for a stroll around the old Iron Age hillfort near Oswestry

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6pm:  Pizza o’clock!

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7pm:  A bit of  Saturday night TV.  This is The Chase – I’d never seen it before, and I found this lady a bit scary.

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8pm:  A blurry shot of Toby getting spoiled because he’s at someone else’s house.

How was your Saturday?


Recipe: Carrot cupcakes

Hello chaps and chapesses!

Carrot cake has never been one of my favourites.  It’s not something I normally go for, as I usually prefer something sweeter or more chocolatey.  It’s not that I don’t like carrot cake, it just doesn’t really excite me like other cakes do.  (Yes, I get excited about cake.  It’s one of life’s pleasures.)

This week though, we somehow ended up with loads of carrots in the fridge, and as there’s only so much carrot soup a girl can eat, I thought I’d make some carrot cupcakes for Graeme to take into work.

I’ve made them before, but not for a couple of years, and I’d forgotten how wet the batter is.  I fretted a bit, worrying about soggy bottoms and the like, but I stuck to the recipe, said a little prayer to the baking gods, and they turned out beautifully.

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I’d also forgotten how much I love cream cheese frosting.  Seriously.  It’s nothing fancy, just cream cheese beaten with icing sugar, but I could happily sit and eat it with a spoon straight from the bowl.  Well, I say ‘could’….

Here’s what you’ll need:
2 eggs

150ml sunflower oil

175g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tsp mixed spice

2 medium carrots

zest of 1 orange

200g self raising flour

300g cream cheese

50g icing sugar

 

And here’s how to do it:

Preheat the oven to 180C / gas mark 4.  Put pretty paper cases in a cupcake tin.

Beat the oil, sugar and eggs together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  This will take a few minutes.

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Gently fold in the flour, mixed spice, vanilla extract and orange zest.

Grate the carrots into the bowl, and mix everything together well.

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Put the mixture into the paper cases.  It’ll be quite a wet batter (read: high risk of dripping), so do this carefully.

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Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until well risen and golden brown.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and icing sugar together until well mixed.  Resist the urge to eat large spoonfuls of it from the bowl.

Let the cakes cool completely before topping with frosting.

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Enjoy with a large cup of tea.

Do you like carrot cake?  Are you a fan of vegetable-inspired cakes, or are you more of a straight-up-sugar and chocolate kind of person?


52 lists: The things that bring me comfort

Hello chaps and chapesses!

Here are a few of the things that bring me comfort when I’m feeling slightly lacklustre:

1.  Cwtches with Graeme.

2.  Having a cup of tea made for me.

3.  Girl chat.

4.  Messing about with Toby.

5.  Watching a classic kids’ movie, like Beauty and the Beast.

6.  Baking something sweet.

7.  Knowing that what goes around comes around.

The 52 Lists project was the really rather wonderful idea of Emma.

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A-Z of me: C

Hello chaps and chapesses!

C is for Chester.

I’ve got a very soft spot for Chester.  It’s a gorgeous little city with a friendly atmosphere, a lot of history, and a unique character.  Everyone I know who’s been there loves it.

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The main reason why I’m so enamoured with it is because it’s the city where I really ‘grew up’.  Although I was raised in the South Wales countryside, Chester is where I went to university, and it’s where I learned to be a grown up.  What I mean is, Chester is the first place where I could really do what I wanted, when I wanted, without having to answer to anybody.  It represents a time when I started to feel really free, and that’s why it’s so special to me.

I think that when you go to university away from home, there’s something really special about that place.  It’s the first place where you get to really be who you want to be, away from your family and all the people who’ve known you through school.  It’s a fresh start, and you’re in control of pretty much every aspect of your life for the first time.  That’s what Chester means to me – it’s not just that twee little city where I did my degree, it’s the place where I learned who I am, and where I got to be fully myself, not having to answer to anyone.  Call me cheesy, but it’s true.

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The closer I got to the end of my degree, the more strongly I felt that Chester was where I wanted to be.  I got a full time job at the university, found a house-share just outside the city centre, and made a little life for myself.  I lived there for a total of about 6 years, give or take, and the only reason I left was to move in with Graeme.  Even now, we’re still only a 15 minute drive away, and I’d like to think that one day we can live there again.

Have you ever been to Chester?  What do you think of it?  If you went to university, do you know what I mean about the town being special?

27 things

Hello chaps and chapesses!

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I thought about doing one of those ’27 things about me’ posts on my 27th birthday, but like the old biddy I secretly am, I forgot.  My birthday was in June, and we’re now in September, so technically, I’m now 27-and-a-quarter.  So, because this is a bit late, here are 27 and a quarter things you may not have known about me:

1.  I give blood regularly.

2.  I’m on the Anthony Nolan Trust register.

3.  Accents fascinate me.  If I mimic your accent, I’m not mocking you, I’m just showing appreciation.

4.  I believe that what goes around comes around.

5.  I always thought James Bond was cheesy and stupid.  Then Daniel Craig got involved and I had to reconsider my position.

6.  I make a jolly good cup of tea.

7.  I know all the words to the Elephant Love Medley from Moulin Rouge.

8.  I think eyeballs are gross.  They’re all squishy and they have jelly stuff on them.

9.  I don’t like seafood.  Sushi is fine, but I can’t be doing with straight-up, no-messing seafood.  I think it has something to do with my childhood love of The Little Mermaid.

10.  Language is important to me.

11.  I go through food phases, where my favourite food changes periodically.  I’m currently on a chorizo phase.

12.  I prefer cold weather to hot weather.

13.  My dog is the cheekiest, most mischievous little scamp around, but he’s a cutie and I love him to bits.

14.  My boyfriend could be described in the same terms as my dog.

15.  I’m only in my twenties, but my love of tea, baking, making soup and watching Strictly Come Dancing makes me a bit of an old woman.

16.  I lived in Canada for a year, and it was fantastic.

17.  I speak three languages, and I’d like to get up to five eventually.

18.  I’m glad I never have to go back to school.  Or uni.  I love to learn, but I don’t miss the pressure of assessments and deadlines.

19.  I read my horoscope every day, out of habit.

20.  I look like my dad.

21.  I love wearing pretty shoes, but I kind of hate how big my feet are.

22.  My favourite places in the world are Paris, Llansteffan and Chester.

23.  I hate being short-sighted, but I’m too much of a wuss to seriously consider laser eye surgery.

24.  I’m terrified of losing my marbles when I get old.

25.  I have an incorrigible sweet tooth.

26.  I’ve never seen The Goonies.

27.  I love pic n mix.

27 1/4.  …especially sour cola bottles.

52 lists: My weekday morning routine

Hello chaps and chapesses!

Those of you that know me in real life know that I’m not a morning person.  I hate getting out of bed, and struggle to function until I’ve had a shower and some breakfast.  Once I’m up and about I’m usually fine, it’s the commitment to actually leaving my warm, comfy pillow and duvet that I struggle with.

Here’s how my weekday mornings usually go these days:

1.  First alarm goes off at 6.25am.  Graeme gets up.  I press snooze.

2.  Second alarm goes off at 6.40am.  I press snooze again.

3.  I get up when I hear Graeme switch off the shower, normally around 6.45am.

4.  I find my way downstairs in my slippers and dressing gown. I say good morning to Toby and let him out.

5.  I put the kettle on.  While it’s boiling, I give Toby his breakfast.

6.  I make a cup of tea for Graeme in his travel mug, so he can drink it on the way to work.

7.  Graeme leaves about 7am.  I plod back upstairs to have a shower.

8.  After a shower, I put in my contact lenses, moisturise, and take my vitamins.

9.  I get dressed, and do my hair and make up.

10.  I go downstairs and put the TV on so I can watch the news while having breakfast.

11.  I get Toby in and tell him to stay in his bed.  As soon as I leave the room he gets up to wander around the kitchen.  I make him get back in his bed.  He stays there.

12.  I have breakfast.  It’s normally toast, sometimes porridge, rarely cereal.  Always with a small cup of tea.

13.  I put my dishes next to the sink and go upstairs to brush my teeth.

14.  I grab my lunch and water bottle from the fridge, lock the back door and say bye to Toby.

15.  I make sure I’ve got everything I need (lunch, water, handbag, sometimes my work laptop, sometimes my gym bag) and leave the house.

16.  If everything has gone to plan, I leave about 8am, so that I miss the school buses on my drive to work.

The 52 Lists project was the really rather wonderful idea of Emma.

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