29 October 2007

bits and bobs

Dom has a new job and as part of the move, we are buying a new car. Yipee!

Wedding DJ is booked. We are able to design our own playlist through an online database. Excellent!

We went to a leaving do on Friday at Detroit Bar in Covent Garden. It has great reviews, but it wasn't my cup of tea, and the drinks' prices were extortionate.

Our work Christmas party this year is a James Bond theme party. We watched Goldfinger on Saturday afternoon to get us in the mood and give us some inspiration but Pussy Galore doesn't wear very nice clothes. I bought a dress pattern to have a stab at making my gown, but as we are busy nearly every weekend until Christmas I don't think I'll have time.

17 October 2007

no contest

Nigella Express on Tuesday and Jamie At Home last night. Watching Nigella is not a nice experience. Some things are OK, like Monday's intense chocolate cookies but others make me feel sick, like the eggy-bread/doughnut concoction.

Jamie, on the other hand, has me salivating with every culinary creation:

Warm salad of roast duck & pumpkin with Asian-style dressing
Roast a duck for 2 hours at 180C, add a roasting tin full of squash, skin on, cut in wedges for the last 45 mins. Toast the squash seeds. Make a dressing from lime juice, olive oil grated chilli, grated garlic and spring onions. Tear the duck meat, put in a bowl with the squash, coriander and mint and dress. Construct the salad, sprinkle with the seeds, more dressing and finely sliced spring onion. Heaven on a plate!

Hearty winter pumpkin soup
Saute roughly chopped onion, celery, carrot (I think) and garlic in a pressure cooker/ large pan, add chopped pumpkin, fill 1 inch from top with chicken stock. Cook for 7 mins (pressure)/ 30 mins (pan). Blend, season. Serve with giant french bread paremesan topped croutons and crispy sage leaves. Easy.

Butternut squash muffins with a frosty top - so simple!

15 October 2007

hawes, yorkshire

An early start deserves a naughty breakfast.


We were on our way to a cottage in the Yorkshire Dales for a long weekend to celebrate my dad's 60th birthday. We surprised him with it on the 11th (his birthday) and then met with him, my mum, my sister Caroline and her boyfriend Jon there Friday lunchtime. We were in the village of Hawes, home of Wensleydale cheese - yum!

After an exploratory walk round the village and a visit to the Ropemakers, Caroline was on kitchen duty and cooked up a hearty moussaka.

On Saturday we walked to Hardraw Force. The countryside is real Postman-Pat-land and very relaxing.

Hardraw Force

We rewarded ourselves with a pub dinner and plenty of beer!

Hawes is home to the Wensleydale Creamery, and I was really looking forward to seeing the cheese being made. I wasn't disappointed, the cheese-makers were hard at work - demand is high - they supply most major supermarkets. There was something close to 20 different cheeses available in the shop to sample - all delicious. We bought one block of traditional and one block flavoured with onion and chive. Yum.

The Wensleydale Creamery

We still had time in the afternoon for a walk, so we drove to the nearby Aysgarth Falls. There are three falls, upper, middle and lower, each one more impressive than the last.

Lower Falls, Aysgarth

I cooked an early dinner so that Caroline and Jon could head home.

Our last stop this morning was the Ribbledale viaduct, part of the Settle to Carlisle railway. An impressive structure indeed.

Ribbledale Viaduct

It really was a good break. The Dales have a lot to offer and the fresh air certainly clears the head. We need to get out walking more often, we've decided. Happy Birthday Dad!

11 October 2007

book...cover / movie...title

Since entering the magical world of Sky+ we have been watching more movies (not films, movies, oh yeah). We record almost anything because we can. We record movies that I have avoided at the cinema and avoided on DVD because of their titles.

Snakes On A Plane - oh I wonder what that's going to be about? Hang on, Samuel L Jackson?! What is this respectable actor playing at in such a ridiculously sounding picture?

Lucky Number Slevin - I don't get it. Is it a horror? Slevin? Is that a word? It sounds like 'seven', so there's a pun in there somewhere, but it has connotations of slaying, killing.

As it turned out, we thought both were really enjoyable films, (oops I mean movies). Possibly better because we were expecting them both to be as bad as their titles, but they weren't.

Isn't it often the way, also, that titles that are full of promise end up lacking in substance? Hmmm. Here endeth the lesson.

10 October 2007

nine bows tied

Nine out of sixty. Need to trim and treat frayed ends. Need more ribbon.

DIY wedding invitations - ribbons tied

09 October 2007

jamie's stroganoff

Dinner last night was inspired by Jamie Oliver's Wild Mushroom and Venison Stroganoff as featured on last week's episode of Jamie At Home.

We used beef instead of venison.

I haven't bought the book yet, but from memory, the recipe went like this:

Coat chunky strips of venison (or beef) in flour and smoked paprika (enough for 2 people), fry in a little butter and olive oil until browned. Remove from pan and, adding a little more oil if necessary, fry 1 finely chopped onion, 2 chopped cloves of garlic, the leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme and your chosen mushrooms (preferably wild) chopped in the same size chunks as the meat. When these have softened slightly, add about 3 tbspns of brandy (make sure the heat is high and take a minute to burn off the alcohol). Then, swirl in 2 tbspns of soured cream and add the meat back to the pan along with about a tbsp of chopped gherkins. Season with salt and pepper (I found it needed quite a bit of salt). Allow to heat for a couple of mins before serving on a bed of fluffy white rice topped with a dollop of sourced cream and a handful of chopped gherkins.

Nice, but perhaps a bit too rich.

Jamie Oliver's Stroganoff

08 October 2007

weekend activities

Dom and I ate at a Loch Fyne seafood restaurant on Friday night which was nice. On Saturday I got to work making the first batch of wedding invitations. This is the part of the wedding preparations that I have most looked forward to. When other little girls were dreaming about their wedding dresses, I was thinking about the handmade stationery!

I made slow progress on Saturday when a quick trip to Bluewater for supplies took 3 hours, but I made up for it on Sunday. Even though I took lots of breaks (to watch poor Lewis Hamilton come off the tracks on the Chinese Grand Prix, to bake banana muffins and to go for my first run since the Great North) I got all the inserts printed, piled and ready for combining together. Tonight I will bind the outer cards with ribbons. I am so proud of them.

Wedding invitations in progress

05 October 2007

next challenge

Completing the GNR put me on such a high it's made me determined to keep pushing and improve my pace. The Runners World website has a huge database of forthcoming events and I found a good few that I will pick my next challenge from.

Every Saturday - Bluewater Time Trials - 4km (2.49 miles)

Sun 28 Oct - Puma Urban Escape, nr Rushmoor - 10km

Sun 28 Oct - Wilmington 10k - 10km

Sun 11 Nov - Grand Union Canal Half Marathon - 13.1m

Sun 2 Dec - Thanet Coastal 10 - 10m

Sun 9 Dec - The Mince Pie 10, East Sussex - 10m

Sun 23 Dec - Saltwell 10k, Gateshead - 10k

01 October 2007

i did it!!

Woohoo! I completed the Great North Run yesterday in 2h 17m 44s which is 10 mins quicker than I have done before - so a personal best! I am so chuffed with myself. It was such a great run, the support along the way was brilliant, as usual, the atmosphere was buzzing, the weather was sunny, but not too hot and I felt so fit I think I could have ran another couple of miles at the end!

I also raised £383.70 for Beating Bowel Cancer, which is fantastic. Thank you everyone for your support.