Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Great news

After being told last June that my job was going to be cut, and having been through a 90 day consultation process, changes, missed launch dates for revised plans, the new consultation was issued yesterday and my post is safe! I know with the current state of the NHS this is a minor win in the battle rather than a major victory but it feels so good. It was very unexpected, the message about my job had been consistent all the way through - there would be no Programme Manager post in any of the scenarios they were considering.

I drove home last night with my music blaring in the car (Florence and the Machine - Dog Days are over seemed very apt) and the windows down, and, after a bit of celebratory tea and toast - I know how to live, started doing a layout for the first time in ages.

And I can't wait to get home tonight to finish it off! It's taking a while to sink in about the job, hoping it does soon and I can get a good night's sleep.

Long weekend coming, dinner with the family on Monday, then a short week and then Claire's house warming party on the 29th. Things are looking shiny :)

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Happy Birthday Sharon

It's my Sister in Law's birthday this week, and I'm ahead of the game for a change. This is the card I've made for her:

Lots and lots of textures and layers in there - it was great fun to make. With a bit of luck I'll even post it in time.

I spent last Sunday with my Mum, watching films and relaxing with some lunch and cake. I used

my new camera to take these, I'm pleased with the results, they're nice and clear and sharp, though I've found indoors I've had to turn off the automatic flash as it's just too much.

The cake was scrummy, filled with fresh strawberries, cream and strawberry jam, using Deb's recipe (and Dove's Farm Self Raising Gluten Free flour).

Shame the weather's gone all grey again but it does feel like spring is here. I'm hoping to get out and take some pictures of a big patch of crocuses after work to do a scrap booking page, light permitting.

Monday, 4 April 2011


We all do it, make excuses for things we don't want to do, or more likely, fear. For me and scrapping my stumbling block has always been the quality of photos I take, I never seem to get the right shot - it's badly lit, blurry, too small. But the thing with excuses is generally people can see right through them. We let ourselves off whatever it is we find difficult or challenging by finding ways that indicate it's not our fault. In this case, it's the camera's fault. Honest. You're not fooled, right? In part this isn't completely untrue, my little Samsung Digital 10Mp compact does a pretty good job, but it's a bit unpredictable in low light - sometimes good, sometimes awful, and the zoom isn't much to write home about. Photos taken of artists on a stage could be of anyone from from Abba to Led Zeppellin. Though anyone who knows me would realise that my attendance of a Led Zep concert is just a teensy bit unlikely. So, I've gone for an upgrade, to another member of the Samsung famiy, a WB600 Bridge camera. A bridge is somewhere between a compact and a fancy schmansy SLR (see why it's called a bridge huh?). So, you can point and click but once you get a bit more adept you can mess with the manual settings. Having the tools is all very well, of course, but I'm aware that the camera isn't really the whole and entire cause of my failure to reach the David Baileyesque levels of image capture. So I'm signed up to one of Cheryl's online workshops - which can be found here: http://feelgoodphotos.com/ to learn some basic techniques. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm never going to be one of those people with a hulking great DSLR and a trunk full of lenses, though all power to you if you are. I just want to look at my pictures and not feel myself making excuses for them. Even if it's just to myself.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Crafting juices flowing

I've had a minor rediscovery of my crafting mojo over the last few weeks so here goes some of the bits I've created.

Add Image

There are a few more cards to add up once I've taken the photos. I'm also making a start on this year's Christmas cars after seeing a fabulous DIY Snowman punch by Martha Stewart. I love 'production line' card making, you have to concentrate but it doesn't stretch you too much mentally and you end up with a nice output of stuff to show for it.

I had my birthday last week, and it was a really nice day. I got taken to lunch by Phil at the Magic Mushroom. Had a gorgeous lunch starting with squid in a sweet chili and coconut sauce which was divine. We both then had the pork steak with apple veloute, red cabbage and I had dauphinoise, my current favourite way to eat potatoes. We'd mentioned it was my birthday and they brought this gorgeous plate out for my dessert. Then I went to Sugar and Spice and treated myself to a bag full of crafting loveliness and a great chat with Marion and Rick. Loads of fun.

Lots of birthdays this week, best get on and make some cards!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Gaby returns

At 3am on Tuesday morning I was woken up by Gaby, jumping on the bed and letting out a constant stream of meows. He was thinner, but uninjured by his expedition to who knows where. Since then he's been quite clingy, wanting to be around me lots and very, very vocal though that's now settling down a bit as he gets over his scare.

It's great having him back, this morning he was playing with his brothers who really seemed to miss him. Whilst he was gone Luce, the most unsociable one of my ginger boys had been looking for cuddles and spent much more time with me. Now I'm getting ignored as per (except when I have the bag of chicken and cheese cat treats in my hand) and all is right with the world :)

This weekend I'm off to see a friend's new home and we're going out for lunch, can't wait. I've been making lots of cards lately, I must post them up here sometime soon.

Only one more week to go before a fortnight's break. Only thing formally booked so far is a day trip to France with Caroline who will be staying for a couple of days. Excellent! Will also be doing some crafting with Michelle, who's a complete virgin so I'm hoping to turn her to the dark side. It would be great to have a local friend to scrap and cardmake with.

Happy Friday everyone.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Missing Kitten

My 7 month old kitten Gaby has now been absent since Thursday. For those who don't do the whole pet thing this probably won't seem like a big deal. For those who do see their furry friends as loved and cherished members of the family, you'll know how I'm feeling right now. Today I'm going to drive round again, and then I'm going to distribute some posters to my neighbors in the hope he's just gotten stuck in someone's garage or shed.

This is Gaby.
If you live in the Thurrock/Grays/Tilbury area, please keep an eye out for him?

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Crafting and Cake

I bought this new mould from Ebay, not sure what inspired it but I think it was needing to perk myself up with a small but fun purchase. Knowing I had a crafting weekend coming up with two classes at Sugar and Spice that seemed like the best time to give the new mould an airing. The company who produce them, the originally named Silicone Moulds very helpfully provide recipes to fit so I gave their Spiced Apple Cake a go and I was really pleased with the result:

I swapped out the flour for Dove's Farm GF and it worked a treat, the cake was spicy without being over powering, and lovely and moist. Three people asked for the recipe, so I'm guessing they liked it! The mould performed excellently, and I'm now lusting after these two

I've also done some papercrafting, feeling creative again, and I'm really pleased about that too. Lots of annual leave coming up in which to do said crafting following the change in rules at work about carrying over holiday.

Happy crafting everyone. x

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Review - My Gluten Free Christmas

I'm normally the only Christmas Fairy in the Village, the one carrying the flag for the festive season and all things jolly. But not this year. With work problems and uncertainty on my mind and some confusion with a close friend it was a very quiet Yuletide for me this year. Next year I will do better.

Anyway, I thought as an aide memoire to myself and perhaps of interest to others, I thought I'd sum up my experience of gluten free products this Christmas.

Once again my thanks go out to Marks and Spencers for making much of their Christmas stuff gluten free, including cocktail sausages, ALL their stuffings and also this year going that further step and using GF stuffing in things like their turkey crowns. Rock on. They also had Christmas cake and mince pies available, and have significantly extended their range of everyday GF products to include brownies, toffee pecan squares, rolls and bread.

Whilst this is all fabulous, the products themselves aren't exactly great. I don't mean the stuffings etc which aren't specifically aimed at use Coeliacs and wheat intolerants. I mean the specific niche products. The rolls are horribly crumbly and dry, the toffee pecan square use polenta as the base and it's gritty. The brownies are nice enough, but as most GF peeps will tell you it's very easy to make a wheat free brownie, hard to get wrong and usually our only offered option in cafes etc. The pastry on the mince pies is tough and not very tasty, there's not much filling and it feels like you get a couple of raisins/sultanas and very little else. It's a real shame because their stance on GF products is one to be applauded and encouraged. I hope they continue on and improve the recipes. My biggest disappointment - their slow cooked pork belly squares in the party range had wheat in them. My favourite item - the Gammon Stuffed Turkey Crown with a bacon lattice. Wow. Fabulous. Moist, easy to carve, and a joy to look at.

Tesco's had the usual Christmas cake, mince pies and christmas puddings in their range and from what I could see, not much else. They did have packs of two individual puddings, which is very handy. They did finally have some of their party range as wheat free recipes, which is great. Party food in supermarkets is historically heavy on the wheat so I feel like I miss out. I had some chinese chicken skewers and stuffed potato skins which were ok. I do have to seriously recommend their new, fresh bread and baps. They are amazing, moist, don't need toasting, don't crumble to bits when you cut into them. Consistent supply appears to be a bit of an issue.

Sainsburys had similar stock to Tesco's in the Christmas range but the quality of their mince pies is fantastic. A complete revelation and highly yummy. I knew in the back of my mind that Sainsbury's baked GF goods are the best around, somehow I just didn't manage to get there and thought M&S would have to be at least as good. Next time I'll know better.

So, there you go. My small window onto the Supermarket offerings for us gluten free'rs this year - Sainsburys for pastry, Tescos for bread and some party foods and M&S for meat products.

I'd love to hear if you've got any opinions on GF products you've tried over the festive season.