Saturday, 25 July 2009

Au revoir!

Passports? Check

Bags all packed? Check
Lists all ticked off? Check
House nice and clean for when we come back? Check

(Boyfriend who doesn't understand why the house has to be clean when we're going to be away? Check)

Excitement growing? Check


Thursday, 23 July 2009

Ding! Ding! Next round

So the next big stage in the relationship is coming up....


We've conquered living together (well apart from a few issues around cleaning, watching tv, tidying up....yeah quite a few issues actually...) so now it's time for the holiday together.

To be honest it's easy peasy to live with someone because it's not like we see each other all the time, he's out of the house just after 6am and doesn't come back until nearly 7pm and then there's the computer to play games on, televisions to watch, pictures to cross stitch, blogs to write so even when we're both home we're not in each other's pockets. And there always seems to be something going on on a weekend (which is why there are still things that need doing in the flat) so we don't actually spend that much quality alone alone time together.

Well I'm about to get all the alone time I want with 7 whole days coming up in each other's company.

And not just each other's company...

All his family's company as well...13 of them to be precise.

Yep I'm being serious. All it takes is 3 siblings to have boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and children, throw in a couple of half siblings and a couple of grandparents and you have the recipe for a possibly very chaotic holiday.

Whlist I'm looking forward to getting away, really looking forward to it in fact, I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a certain amount of trepidation that I'm feeling. I get on with everyone in his family really well but I don't know how well I can get on with them for a week. Non-stop. 24-7.

They're great they're just....very....fussy. I'm from a non-fussy family. Everyone does their own thing and gets on with it and there's no great pressure to do anything, everything will just work out. My boyfriend's family are pretty much the complete opposite - everything's a drama and there's a lot of "Well you can do this but you don't have to do it. You don't have to do it at all." (Meaning that if you don't do it you can be almost guaranteed a sulk) This is compounded by the fact that my boyfriend is pretty much a wuss when it comes to his mother. He can stand up in front of judge and jury and argue a case but he absolutely cannot say no to Mummy. It's infuriating. I can't be the one that says no - that'll make me the horrible witch who's stolen her son!

My hope is that in a crowd of 14 people, no-one's going to miss 2 of them if they sneak away for a little bit...

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

What I'm doing this evening...

I have been abandonned by the boyfriend who is staying over night a long way away for work.


So I have been mainly doing the following....

Nursing my cold, which is NOT SWINE FLU! If one more person makes that joke or looks at me as if I've got leprosy, I'm going to deliberately sneeze or cough on them. (Please note: I'm not being cavalier, I don't have a fever which is one of the main swine flu symptoms)

And yes I am too cheap to buy tissues - toilet roll will have to do.

I have begun getting my feet beach ready (4 days to go baby!). Which involves scrubbing all that minging dead skin off them, slathering them in moisturising cream - laughing at the scar on the bottom of my foot that is the result of an ill-advised decision to walk home barefoot in Manchester and a run in with a broken bottle - and then painting my nails. Hate not having painted toenails. The nails on my hands I can cope with but my bare toenails? Bleurgh.

I've got all my clothes out ready for packing. I am a terrible packer. I always pack approximately 10,000 items too many and am determined to be one of those people who rock up with a normal sized suitcase full of brilliant pieces of clothing that work in 14 different ways. Failing that I'm only going for 1 week so can't overpack too much....she says.

Note: I am not taking the ginger furry person in the top right of the picture - although I would love to

Other than that I've been watching telly with my two furballs, we all liked Send in the Dogs - a programme about police dogs. When I was a wee thing the first job I ever wanted to do was be a police dog handler. Strange I know. And I couldn't even tell you why. All I do know is that it was the start of a long-standing obsession with German Shepherd dogs. I just love them and really hope I get the opportunity to own one one day. The programme also featured English Springer Spaniels, a dog my boyfriend's parents own - she's a hilarious character, mainly because she's the biggest wuss going. The difference between her and these drug-sniffing dogs couldn't be bigger.

I don't think it'll be long before we're all in bed where I can hopefully get a decent night's sleep before waking up to this....

Monday, 20 July 2009

The Competition

Yes X-box I see you there.
I see your green malevolent eye glittering at me.

I know your game. I'm on to you.

Yes you do have the ability to completely distract my boyfriend whenever my back is turned. I walk out of the room and within minutes I hear the sound of gunfire and an indistinct 'foreign' voice (I think it's meant to be Russian but I'm never sure).

And yes you have the ability to reduce him to a bit of a drooling wreck, unable to communicate with me when I ask him questions because he's too busy clicking and tapping away on the controller.

And yeah ok when my nephews came round at the weekend you provided a much better distraction for them than I did, further highlighting that I am no longer the cool Auntie I once was when they were younger. And I can't even join in because I can't play those stupid games.

Yeah and the games are stupid. They are silly games that I don't even want to play. I don't want to hear my Call of Duty or become a Hitman, I didn't like Star Wars the film so am definitely not interested in playing it in Lego form and I don't even like watching the Olympics, let alone trying to make some little man do the pole vault by alternatively hitting the X and Y button (or whatever it is I was supposed to do).

Ok....wait....there is Guitar Hero which I do like so I'll let you have that one but it's a pain having to drag the drums out and I prefer the drums to the guitar. And I can't even play it on my own because I don't know how to switch you on properly. And I'm pretty sure that's your fault.

Why don't you have The Sims? I think I'd like that game. Or just something that doesn't involve shooting Germans or Russians or whoever the enemy du jour is. I don't like the shooting games. I get panicky and scream and end of throwing the controller (actually a true story when I tried the one and only time to play Lara Croft on the Playstation).

Well whatever. I know you're after him but you won't win.

....And I bet you can't make carrot cake.

So there.

Friday, 17 July 2009

An open letter to my Lily

Dear Lily

I wrote Fred a letter yesterday and I really didn't want you to feel left out so I thought I'd write to you as well.

You chose us really didn't you? We'd picked Fred already and put him in the cat carrier and while we were deciding who else we'd take, you walked straight over to the carrier, got in it and sat down. Decision made!

But then you cried all the way home and when you eventually came out of the box you absolutely refused to purr. No matter how much we stroked you and fed you and made reassuring noises, you weren't going to budge. It went on like that for the whole next day, I even took the day off work to stay with you both, but then very early on the second morning I snuck downstairs and tickled you while you were asleep and you purred! You let go and then there was no stopping you - you became a non-stop purring machine.

You were fierce though. Fred was a little bit shy but you were mega brave and would take on anything and anyone. Remember the plumber came round to fix the boiler in winter and I found you sitting in his tool box?
You've always enjoyed the element of surprise and loved jumping on our backs or scrambling all the way up to our shoulders from the floor. It was quite funny but only when you were wearing jeans and a jumper. When you did it to me that time when I was just in my pyjamas I didn't laugh so much.

Aah yes those claws of yours. Pretty much everyone who has met you has come away with a scratch as a memento. I tell them that you're not doing it to be nasty, you just have your claws set on default to 'shred'. I've tried to get you to play without claws but so far haven't had much luck.

I think what I like best about you is that you're a bit of a wild one. You don't love being picked up but you're incredibly affectionate when you want to be. I love that whenever a total stranger comes to the flat you give them the biggest welcome, winding around their legs, while Fred just hides. (Although you might want to tone the 'winding' down a little bit - you're going to trip someone up soon.)

And then there's the mental look....whilst Fred tends to just look cute in any picture I take of him, you always seem to have just a little glint in your eye...

You love your brother though! Remember how he was the brave one and looked after you at the beginning? No? Well that's because it only lasted a day before you switched roles. It was so funny when he learned to jump much higher than you and you would sit on the kitchen worktop and yell at him to come down. And it's hilarious when you steal Fred's food and then growl at him when he tries to take it back. You love to be around him as much as possible though...

I'm really looking forward to you coming to stay next week. I know that when I sit at the dining table and write my blogs you will be stretched out in your favourite place, along the back of the sofa, just keeping one mental eye on me...

Lots of love

Your (second) Mummy


Thursday, 16 July 2009

An open letter to my Fred

Dear Fred,

Have I told you how glad I am that you're back? Of course I have, I told you about a gazillion times this weekend when you came to stay. Although you haven't been able to tell us what happened over that 48 hours, it did make me realise one thing...I haven't really told you how I feel about you.

So I thought I'd better write it all down here, just in case anything were ever to happen again.

Remember when we first came to get you? You were in that flat with your 4 brothers and sisters and a rottweiler puppy. We were a bit scared of the puppy but none of you lot seemed to mind and when Mum and I came in you all came running around us, climbing in Mum's bag and jumping on my laces and generally being boisterous. I went to see your Mummy, who was lying on a kitchen work top and told her that we'd come to take away 2 of her babies and that we'd look after them very well. To be honest I think she was relieved.

Remember when you came home for the first time? You came out of the cat carrier and after a little walk around settled down on the floor, purring happily away, but Lily wasn't very happy and was crying a lot. So you woke up and went over to her and took her under the tv cabinet where you both went to sleep until the morning.

Remember those first few weeks when you and Lily wouldn't go to sleep without each other? Even if one of you was really really tired, you wouldn't settle until the other one was ready and then you'd curl up together and sleep for ages and ages and ages and don't sleep together that much anymore but when you do it makes me go all smooshy inside.
Remember when you were so small you fit in my hands? You used to climb up our legs because you weren't big enough to jump anywhere. I used to find it really funny but then that's because I live in jeans. Mum wasn't as appreciative.

Remember when you learnt to jump up on things? And it was all you wanted to do? And you now have an obsession with being as high up as possible, especially when it comes to the kitchen. Do you really think that we're not going to notice you're up there? Actually there have been times when we haven't noticed you up there but you usually give the game away by calling out to us or knocking stuff off the top of the cabinets when it's in your way.

Remember when I moved out? I was pretty upset. I was worried about the fact that I was going to be living with a boy for the first time but I was also really sad to be leaving you behind. I didn't think I was going to get used to not having you guys about. But it turns out that you're here all the time!!

Remember the first time you came to stay? And you were both so scared you didn't want to come out of the carrier? But you were the bravest and came out first, seeking refuge on top of the sofa. Then you realised that that boy that used to come round to Mum's house lived here as well and you were really happy because you love him a lot don't you? Is it because he's a boy as well?

Well it's only been 11 months since you arrived on this planet and a couple of months less than that since you've been living with Mum but we can't imagine life without you. We love you from the tip of your stripy tail (which wasn't stripy when you were little but has developed slowly over time) to the little smudge under your nose (which everyone thinks is a dirty mark but we know better).

So please try and not go running away again. We were more than a little bit sad when you disappeared on us. We appreciate that you are a man now and want to go and do manly things (although not all the manly things because you're missing a few vital 'bits') but remember that you have two Mummies and a sister back at home that can't do without your purring in our ears.
(Although we don't really love it when you wake us up at 3.30am wanting to show us how much you love us. We think it's lovely that you love us so much but just wish that you didn't have to love us that early in the morning or via the medium of kneading at us with your claws.)

Lots of love
Your (second) Mummy

PS Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday when you're coming to stay for a whole week! Hope you're as excited about it as I am.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Sweet & Simple Bakes - Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

How super-organised am I this month?! I've already done the Sweet & Simple Bake. I. am. a. winner.

About a year ago I decided I was going to try and bake something. I seriously had never done any baking, we didn't do home economics at school and Mum wasn't a huge baker so I had no-one to learn from. After years of the most inventive thing I've ever done being chocolate rice crispie buns, I thought that it was time to give it a whirl.

If you'd have told me then that I'd be making carrot cake I'd have laughed in your face.


A colleague was leaving, taking our office down to a merry band of 3 so we thought we'd have a little leaving party. When we were talking about cakes she said that she would like me to bake something (how good did that make me feel?!) so I decided I'd give the carrot cake a whirl, especially seeing as I'm going to be away the last week in July, which is when I usually do the bakes in a last minute rush.

So being the super-organised person I am, I went for it. Only it had to be a special cake because it was a celebration so out came the edible pink glitter and after a few shakes it became a cake that was meant to party.

Find the recipe HERE

As usual it lived up to its name and was incredibly simple to do. I did leave out the walnuts, but only because I forgot to buy them!

I still can't get over the fact that I made a carrot cake!

Sweet & Simple Bakes

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Raspberry and Orange Muffins

When Mum went away at the weekend to my sisters she came back with the biggest punnet of raspberries I've ever seen that she picked herself.

I've never seen so many and had no idea what on earth to do with them so a quick search on Google (what did we do before the internet?!) found these muffins which looked fairly easy to get to grips with.

I decided to cheer myself up on Tuesday night and make them to distract myself from the then missing Fred.

They were really easy to make although didn't rise very much which I think was because I went a little mad with the beaters and over-mixed the batter. They taste wonderful though, the raspberries give them a little tang which makes them great as a breakfast muffin. Or an elevenses muffin. Or an afternoon muffin...


Ingredients (makes about 16 small muffins)
200g self-raising flour
2tsp baking powder
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
3 tbsp milk
Zest of 1 orange
150g lightly crushed raspberries

Preheat the oven to 180c

Stick everything but the raspberries in a bowl and mix up together.

Fold in the crushed raspberries.

Stick in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

What could be simpler?!

The only downside is that I've made way too many. I could have done with halving the ingredients really so I'm currently trying to palm off muffins on everyone I meet.

Now. Just need to find something to do with the rest of the raspberries...

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Update on the little soldier

We went to see Fred this evening to see how he's getting on.

There doesn't seem to be anything physically wrong with him. Mum was a little worried about his back legs but I gave them a thorough rub down and squeeze and he wasn't in pain. Plus he's walking fine and jumping and stretching so there's nothing the matter there.

Plus he's eating and drinking so I don't think there's any need for him to go to the vets who will always find something to charge you an extortionate amount for.

He's definitely out of sorts though and is more than a little bit unhappy. He seems a bit timid and is jumpy if you make sudden movements. And he's very very sleepy. But I think he's coming round slowly. I sat on the floor playing with Lily and the toy mice and he came over and half heartedly had a little jab at one of them so he's still in there, just a little bit subdued.

We've revised our initial thought that someone had taken him in though. He's lost a huge amount of weight, a lot more than I thought would be possible in just 2 days, so he definitely hasn't been fed. It sounds odd but his coat looks a little dull as well and his eyes aren't as sparky as they usually are. I wondered if he's maybe been chased away by a bigger cat and got lost seeing as he's never been out at night before or been too scared to come home until he maybe heard Mum calling him yesterday night.

I guess we'll never know what happened or where he was but none of that really matters I guess now that he's back safe and (almost) sound.

I do have a photo to upload of him but Blogger is being a PAIN and won't let me upload it. Damn you Blogger!!

Now I must take myself to bed to get a decent night's sleep for the first time all week. First I couldn't sleep because he was missing and last night I was so excited that he'd come back. I'm now ready to drop.

Thank you for all your kind wishes and messages, they've really meant a lot.
EDIT: Aha! If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again and stamp you feet and have a little scream and eventually Blogger will let you upload your photos!
Here's the mister as of yesterday:

The Wanderer Returns

He's back!

Got a call at midnight from Mum to say that she had been sat in the living room with Lily when she had suddenly got up and started miaowing and pawing at the kitchen door. Mum opened it and there was a familiar ginger face looking through the cat flap.

She opened the door and in he strolled nonchalantly. "What's up?" (he probably would have said if he was human)

The equivalent of the fatted calf was killed for him (a sachet of Whiskas) but he wasn't actually hungry. Neither was he cold, despite the thundery rainstorms we've had over the past couple of days, he was in fact decidedly warm.

So I think someone had maybe mistakenly thought he was a stray (we'll give them the benefit of the doubt) and brought him up. Possibly they saw the posters that Mum put up yesterday and released him to find his way back home.

What he doesn't realise is that he's never going out again....!

I'm definitely not the most positive of people and I have to admit that after what had happened to Mabel I didn't have a lot of hope, but thank you for all your finger crossing and good luck wishes because it just goes to show that if you remain hopeful and keep looking, you might just get what you wish for...

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

How to know if he's a keeper...

...He comes all the way home from Sheffield at 7pm when he's been out of the house since 6am and immediately goes and gets changed to take you out to go looking for your cat.

...He tramps about fields and streets calling "Fred!" and "Freddie!" in a high-pitched voice and doesn't get embarassed (or if he is doesn't show it).

...He carries on doing the above even when it starts to throw it down with rain.

...He gets the tea ready when you come in because you're too upset to make it and just want to sit on the sofa and cry.

...He helps you make a Missing poster that can be stuck up around the neighbourhood.

...He arranges it so that he can work from home the following day, just in case there's anything else your Mum needs.

...He sits beside you all night when you're sad and weepy and don't want to talk and doesn't ask anything of you but if there's anything else he can do to make you feel better.

...He knows what you're thinking just by looking at you.

(Fred's still missing)

Monday, 6 July 2009

Keep your fingers and toes crossed...

I got news this morning that Fred is missing.

Mum didn't realise until this morning. She thinks that he snuck out of an open window late last night when she went out of the room and she thought he was still upstairs. Although they've been outside they've not been out for that long and don't tend to venture far.

Mum's been round the area calling for him and when the boyfriend gets home we are going to go and have a search for him as well.

I'm trying to remain optimistic but it's a little hard. Less than a year ago we had a kitten called Mabel who went missing in virtually the same circumstances. Just disappeared in to thin air. So it's difficult to not think that the same thing has happened and he isn't going to show up. Mum's let Lily out a few times to see if she can maybe find him but so far there hasn't been a peep.

Whenever I think about it I get a little teary. He's only a baby (well maybe not really but he is only 11 months) and I hate the thought that he's out there somewhere and doesn't know where he is.

So keep your fingers crossed and say a little prayer to any God you might believe in for him to please, please come home.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Not a crease in sight

We went out yesterday to a Garden Party at my old school - how come these things always seemed so much better when you were younger?! Anyway I did still get to drink Pimms and I held a Barn Owl. They are so so soft. I chickened out of holding the buzzard though, I didn't like the look in his eyes...

Oh yeah and there was as book stall and paperbacks were only 50p! Hello. I'm allowed to buy books when they're that cheap, it doesn't really count...

Unfortunately I was a fool and came out without suncream on. Although I do like getting a tan, I'm a bit of a pale Janet and have to smother myself in the factor 1000 to stop myself from burning. Once I turn brown I'm good, it's just those first few weeks of exposure to the sun after winter that my skin doesn't enjoy! So I am now the proud owner of a new kind of sunburn mark - I've had marks where my vest top has been, marks where the straps on my sandals have been, marks where my shorts have been, I've burnt my nose and the tops of my ears but this one is the best one ever....

I have a handbag strap mark.


Who gets a mark like that?!

So Sunday was a day for not venturing out in to the sun. I wanted to bake but I just couldn't muster up the energy. But I knew there was something else I had to do. Something which sat in the corner of the spare bedroom and called to me every time I went in there. I tried to ignore it. I tried to pretend it wasn't there. But it knew that sooner or later I would come to its command.

The ironing.

The ever-growing pile was threatening to topple over. Fred has taken to sitting on it and being King of the Castle. So I got the window open as far as I could (which isn't far when you live in a first floor flat and are playing host to 2 cats who love being outside and won't let the small matter of a 12 foot drop stop them), set up the ironing board and off I went.

It was tough going and a few times I began to falter. I didn't think I could go on. But from deep inside me came an inner strength and I soon began to rise to the challenge. I wasn't going to let it beat me. Never mind the fact that every time I turned around another shirt had manifested from thin air and added to the pile, I wasn't going to give in. It became a personal mission.

I powered through the Hollyoaks omnibus. I powered through the Eastenders omnibus. And I powered through the first set of the Federer v Roddick Final at Wimbledon. But I won.

I have an empty ironing basket for the first time since we moved in.

And my boyfriend has seventeen (seventeen!!!) beautifully ironed shirts.

I have achieved and now can not feel bad about sitting down and doing nothing (except blogging about my triumph).

And wishing Andy Roddick would win.

Another thing that happened today? I said goodbye to The Visitors as Mum came and took them back home. I have forgiven Fred (just about) for what will now be referred to as Crispgate.

They've had a good weekend although I think they've been a little hot at times. I've made sure the kitchen is clean so that I could leave it open and they could go and lie down on the tiles and there was lots of water available and we even had fun with an ice cube yesterday afternoon. I'm sure they'll be happy to go home where they can go and play in the garden but I will still miss them and wish they could stay. How could I not when they look as cute as this?

Friday, 3 July 2009


You know some days where everything that could go wrong does go wrong?

I had one of those today.

I can't even begin to describe the nonsense that went on although it did include the following:
  • A meeting that went on until 5pm. (On a Friday?! Isn't that illegal?)

  • Helping a woman who'd collapsed on the street (well you don't just walk by do you? Unless you happen to be several other residents of Hull who did)
  • Nearly getting run over by a bus (whilst regaling someone with the events of today)

At least I was on my way home though. I took a deep sigh of relief.

And walked in to this scene.....

Now who could possibly be responsible for such a catastrophe? (there's a clue for you there)

Suspect No 1

Suspect No 2

Who do you think is to blame?!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Sweet & Simple Bakes - Chocolate Orange Drizzle Cake

"It's easy" I said to myself.

"All you have to do is bake something each month."

It's actually harder than it sounds! I eagerly go to the Sweet & Simple Bakes page at the beginning of each month to see what I have to attempt and think to myself "Brilliant. I can do that. I'll do that next week."

Or next week....

Or the week after that....

And before you know it you're at the last day for posting and begging your boyfriend to drive you round to the Tesco Metro down the road so that you can oranges and chocolate - two kind of important ingredients for this month's bake. I really wanted to complete this month's bake after the disaster of last month's attempt at lemon curd muffins on the day now called Black Saturday.

Luckily I have a nice boyfriend who obliged and I got my baking mojo on last night in the kitchen.

Et voila! Chocolate Orange Drizzle Cake!

I was surprised how easy this bake was. I'm a little bit scared of loafs having only made one accidentally once before.

However, true to form, it was indeed very simple to make and very sweet to eat!

(Plus I got to go mad with the sprinkles which is always fun)

I was everyone's favourite person in the office today as I brought a slice in for everyone, with one of my colleagues remarking that it was the best thing she'd eaten all week. I'm a bit worried about her diet to be honest...

And they'll be loving me even more tomorrow when they discover that there's more to go around.

For the recipe, stick your cursor over.......HERE!

Looking forward to the next bake!

Sweet & Simple Bakes