Monday, 30 May 2016

Wine Tasting Evening

My friend saw a wine tasting evening advertised and said shall we give it a try, seeing as it was something new to experience I thought why not.  At £5 per person entry to be honest I went in with low expectations, but it was a very pleasant evening for the price.  The money raised was for charity too, so it’s nice to know your doing your bit (however small) to help so I was quite surprised with the value for money, I had a lovely selection of cheese and crackers and more than enough wine.

We were each given a chart to record our comments for appearance, nose and taste.  This is when I felt quite out of my depth, I tend to stick to one wine (Barefoot Rose) that I like these days and rarely venture away from it.  It has a great taste and is very sweet so sampling very dry wines was a real shock for my taste buds!

It’s recommended to give the wine in your glass a swirl first to let the air in with the aim of intensifying the smell.  To be honest my nose must not have been up to much, whilst everyone smelt a hint of this or that I just smelt the alcohol!  It was a real struggle to think up a suitable comment for my chart.  Even so we had a giggle, its just nice to get the girls together it doesn’t really matter what our plans are.

The cheese selection was appetising and looked the part.  It helps to have a nibble on a plain cracker between tastings to re-set your palate I think the speaker said!  We sampled eight different wines (with just a little bit in your glass, a few mouthfuls not enough to go crazy!) but at the end you could help yourself to a glass or two as well picking out the ones you preferred the most after completing the eight.

I am a philistine when it comes to wine, but I do feel slightly better educated for taking part in this evening.  From now on wine nights with the girls will involve swirling our wine around our glasses first and perhaps a quick sniff to make a stab at the possible aroma’s. 

Friday, 27 May 2016

Time to pursue a hobby

As the boys are getting older I am finding a bit more ME time.  It’s quite a revelation really after years of focusing entirely on the needs of two little people.  I have enjoyed catching up with friends; we had a wine tasting last night and the murder mystery a week ago.  

I also quite fancy pursuing a hobby, previously I had considered blogging that, but sometimes with deadlines and commitments it feels like more of a job, so it’s not quite as relaxing as it used to be.  With a long to do list, sometimes I find myself getting distracted with other things, because it seems too much like “work!” although that’s why I started this blog to have a break from the bigger more established one. 

My mum has a craft room now in her retirement and she is often making cards or her latest project is jewellery!  I do feel inspired when I go in there though surrounded by all her supplies and work in progress, but hubbie would go mad if I spent a fortune. Even though we have more free time we do not have more disposable income yet.  We still have many more years left to pay on our mortgage, more the pity!  I was thinking though of looking at art supplies online and found a complete bargain on The Works website, only £10!

I did art at college and was quite fond of it; my reasons for picking the subject though were a bit dubious at first I had a thing for a guy doing art and was looking for any excuse to drop environmental science.  But I was pleased with what I developed for my art presentation and actually received top marks!  Quite an achievement given the initial lack of passion in the subject…

Hubbie is also feeling the need to do something else with his time and is applying for the Coastguard; I think that’s very noble of him to want to help such an important cause.  Fingers crossed his application and interview goes well, he has met the team and seems to fit in well, so it should be a breeze for him.  He is also blogging quite regularly himself too over at Hubby Helps.

It’s important to have a hobby as it gives you a balanced lifestyle, apparently if you have a hobby you have more purpose in your life and can live longer, well this NHS article said so which is all the reinforcement I need, well that and I do feel happier when I am having time to relax and unwind without thinking about work!

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Murder Mystery Evening at Hallmark Birmingham

Part of our night away was a Murder Mystery event.  My friend booked us all in to the Hallmark Birmingham, it was a real steal the price really, per couple it was just over £110 and that included dinner with the entertainment, a nights stay and a tasty cooked breakfast the following day.  We even had executive rooms, which were quite big and had dressing gowns to use.  You really could not ask for more at that price (although hubbie would have liked slightly more dinner, but then he is a glutton!).

If you’re a bit dubious about trying something new like a Murder Mystery, it’s worth attending one when it’s not going to break the bank.  It was a bit different to what I am used to that I will admit.  The idea is whilst your eating dinner you question the cast who are floating around the room, one tends to eat on your table but they do move around so you can quiz them all.

It took my head some getting used to the fact that they are in character, one actor was very abrupt (if not rude!) – he got murdered off later and I wasn’t completely surprised because he could rub you up the wrong way!  Not that it’s any excuse for murder mind you!  

After the show we talked to him and he was a lovely guy, so please remember they are playing a role and their personality might be completely different.  It can be hard to think about what to ask them too, I was more inclined to ask about their romantic inclinations but it could be a crime for power, revenge or passion.  Clues make their way on to a board as the evening progresses so you can try and narrow down the culprit.  I picked the wrong one, but I am pleased I was along the right lines (of sorts!).

I won’t give away too much as I think they stick with the same format and it might ruin it for someone else.  But seriously for the price I do recommend booking the event with Hallmark Birmingham.  There was a "security guard" frisking the guests and judging by the look on my friend's face you can see it was quite thorough!!!

I thought you might appreciate some pictures of the food if your thinking of booking.

The soup was lovely.

The pudding - usually my favourite thing dessert but I don't like Creme Brulee normally so it was just okay, but the biscuit was nice.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Meeting the Kittens

We visited an old friend the other day, sometimes life gets in the way and you can neglect your friendships when you’re both busy and have lots to juggle.  But I am glad we have found time to spend together again, when we get together we tend to pick up as if it was only a day ago – so I will make more effort from now on.  Finding the time and nurturing those friendships that really mean something is a focus for me.

This is our first visit to her house as we usually tend to entertain at ours or meet out socially, she had such a beautiful garden.  It was a lovely space, very green and peaceful.  No noisy (or nosey!) neighbours, a warm suntrap and much to the boys excitement we had a chance to meet her new little kittens, which were gorgeous.  My friend gave the boys two ice lollies each so is even more well liked than before, plus with the kittens there for the next few weeks the boys want to revisit to see how they are doing (and try and continue with their quest to take one home I think!).
I must admit part of me was tempted.  Although hubbie had put his foot down, but just look at them…

Tiny little faces and paws

Inquisitive eyes watching

My youngest handling Shadow (yes he has named him already, even though daddy is saying NO!) with such tenderness

I get its probably not a good idea to get another pet, our dog would not be overly keen I don’t think.  But when you see little baby animals they lure you in with their adorable ways.

Apart from the kittens we have been inspired in other ways, I have taken away some ideas for our garden.  It’s time we made it more appealing.  My friend spends a lot of time outdoors and has made her garden such a welcoming area.

I really liked the kissing statues.

Eviction Orders: One Grey Squirrel

We have a squirrel, nice yes you would think a little bit of nature to enjoy watching as it collects nuts and quietly gets on with its life.  Until you see it scrambling up the side of your house, intent on mischief and who knows what… I guess one small mercy it wasn’t a rat, but hubbie says its just like a rat with a bushy tail, but I regardless continued to admire it alongside my two boys.  Mind you I soon had my mind changed on the matter…

Yes squirrels should not be allowed to get too comfortable, a quick google search revealed they could cause carnage inside your house… so when it climbed into a vent we had a moment of sheer panic!  Would it at that very moment by munching on electrical cables, causing thousands of pounds of damage, trashing the place just to satisfy its urge to chew...

Fortunately for us it appears the vent did not go through to the house itself, it was just left over from when we had a bathroom taken out.  So said squirrel could get a bit of shelter and not enter the house itself… (yet!) although they can if inclined eat through plasterboard so I did not want to rest on my laurels!  I mean the squirrel no harm but I would rather it picked out another place to call its own, an obvious choice like a tree!

Seriously squirrel friend stick to the trees or roam in the farmers field, but do not start tucking into everything in my attic with those sharp teeth that keep growing!  Use something else to trim them, leave my poor house alone.  Look for seeds, hide your nuts, don’t try and be a modern squirrel that prefers a house for its home.

Apparently if you have a squirrel problem chicken wire is good, metal is a bit tough on their teeth, so I might have to fortify our house with that!  We had enough issues with woodworm I am not adding a squirrel to our list of renovation woes.  Begone little squirrel live outdoors, live peacefully just please keep a wide berth from my house!  My attic has enough problems without adding you to the long list.  Plus you wouldn't just stay in the attic, without a ceiling you could make the most of the 1st floor.  What impressed me though was their ability to hang onto the side of a house, but even so I do not want my new guest to stay.

We also sometimes have a sheep hop over the wall to munch on the greener grass by our house, I guess we better get used to the fact our new home draws more animals generally!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Cake & Cocktails

We went away overnight on Friday, it meant the boys had a chance to spend some quality time with their grandparents and we could remember what its like to go out as a couple.  We are blessed to have our boys but it was nice to let our hair down for once and remember that we actually quite like each others company when we haven’t got a little ones butting in when we attempt any form of conversation.

It meant hubbie and I could re-connect.  Couple time is important, I never realised how much until the fact I was always putting the kids first started to compromise what we had.  Its tricky relationships with kids, because you’re always (even unintentionally) taking sides or disagreeing about what is the best approach for whatever the kids are up too.  A united effort is best; otherwise they will play you off against each other and it’s not fun!

So off we headed to Birmingham with our good friends in tow, because as important as that couple time is, we also like seeing our dear friends.  Minus kids we can actually enjoy a good chat, without one of us leaving to check the kids are okay or get them more drinks/snacks/break up an argument/find something for them to do as they are “bored”.

The weekend was filled with cocktails, cake and lots of laughter.  I feel like I have finally found “the friends” – often friends come and go, but this pair seem to stick around, we have common interests (yes they do stretch beyond cake and wine I promise!) and we help each other through any parenting challenges we regularly have, mixed up with a sprinkle of gossip, not malicious, just matter of fact – its good to keep abreast of what goes on where you live!  Mainly so you don’t put your foot in it and offend someone.

First pit stop was needed at Dobbies Garden Center they have the best cake!  Forget inspiring gardeners they are all about filling me with calories there.

We watched the latest X-Men film, I love a good bit of action, although when the bad guy got chatty it got a bit boring, other than that I would definitely recommend it, I really like seeing super human powers.  It would be great to have my own, but as much as I stare at an object it NEVER budges at all.

Lunch at Bills, they do some lovely cocktails and we had a fabulous spot outside under a patio heater (they even had blankets draped on the back of the chair if you wanted to get cosy – that’s considerate!).

The evening entertainment was a murder mystery, this is the first time we have tried one of these, so I think that might merit a post of its own!  Yes I very much enjoyed our 24 hours of freedom.  There is talk amongst the friends partners our next gathering might be one of those Zombie experiences, but I am not sure I am brave enough for that… but for these friends I would give it a go if they really wanted to, life is about trying new things after all.  As it is for now we have a sedate cheese and wine evening to look forward to next...

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Our Philosophy

Love & Karma that’s my philosophy - be kind and it will boomerang back at you one way or another!  I can’t be doing with drama and politics I want an easy life, but a good life nonetheless.

I want to be a tolerant person, to think of others alongside myself, it’s all too easy to be caught up in your own problems and not look at what others around you are dealing with. I want to reach out and be there for those I love and not focus on just ME!  I want to develop that side of things and hope that this blog will help my quest to becoming a better person.

I want to try and be a better wife, but that is often questionable… we have our moments, usually because we are overtired, overworked and generally skint most of the time!  Money does not buy happiness but it certainly takes the edge off when paying the bills, of which there are sadly many.  I think of all the fun we could be having if we didn’t have to give it to the bank in interest charges instead! Although we have a game plan to keep chipping away at it, one month at a time, treading water, staying afloat. 

Regardless we do our little bit to help even with finances so tight, we always buy a raffle ticket if we have change in our pocket, unwanted items often make their way to the charity shop instead of being sold and I have signed up on the organ register.  The last part especially was always something I wanted to do and believed strongly in, although I can’t bare parting with my eyes and heart, but the rest goes with my blessing if needed to help someone if heaven forbid my time was over.

We have a charmed life really; it has turned out quite satisfactory, we are happy with our (small) circle of friends, 2.4 children and happen to be close to my parents.  It helps that they are good people, the kids can be a bit of a challenge but the less said about them the better!  We love the little ankle biters but oh my do they run rings round us.  But we do our bit as parents, encourage their interests, widen their horizons and support their decisions (well some of them!).

I had a friend who died far too young but I always remember he was a huge fan of the phrase hakuna matata, which means no worries, and he lived by that, till the last he did not dwell.  He lived for the moment and who knows when that moment will be our last. So I want to make my time here mean something even if it’s just amongst my little community.