Monday, 13 October 2014

Pictures in the house

This is the newest picture to join the house. Most of our pictures have a water or beach theme. We've just painted the stairs and landing a duck egg blue- and the background on this picture brings the colour together with what will be the new carpet colour (beige of some description). I wasn't too sure when the colour went on the wall- as it looked a bit different when on a large expanse! It's brighter than I was expecting. But now we've been living with it for a while- it's made the place look a lot brighter and cheerier! We've got another 2 pictures to put up on the stair wall. One is a harbour scene made printed like a collage- I'll add a photo when the walls have had a final overcoat! We borrowed a special ladder to do the bits we couldn't reach- and now need to add a second coat. But for now it looks done!

Last year we spent the weekend in Derby for our anniversary. There was a craft fair going on in Bakewell and the artist was selling lots of pictures. We both picked the same ones out for a short list and this one was our favourite. We were going to buy a smaller one- but decided to splash out and get this one. This is waterside based aswell!

Another little plaque hanging in the kitchen.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The Lagasse Girls

When you have to give up gluten, either for yourself or a family member, you may think you have to say good-bye to all of the comforting foods you love. It's hard enough adopting a new way of eating, but the idea of giving up your favorite fried chicken, mac 'n' cheese, or oatmeal raisin cookies is downright unfair and intimidating (and if your kids are the ones diagnosed, it can be even more difficult!). It's a story Jilly and Jessie Lagasse know well.

With a father famous for his bold Creole cuisine, Jilly and Jessie grew up loving rich foods full of big flavor. When they learned they both had to eliminate gluten, the Lagasse girls made it their mission to demonstrate that "gluten-free" doesn't have to mean "flavor-free." After years of gluten-free eating and experimentation, they're here to help you re-create classic recipes and all-time favorites made without gluten—without sacrificing any of the signature flavors that make them so irresistible.

Using everyday ingredients you can find at most grocery stores, Jilly and Jessie share recipes for breakfasts, lunches (including hearty salads and soups), appetizers, mains, and, of course, scrumptious desserts. With dairy-free and quick-and-easy options as well, Jilly and Jessie make gluten-free eating simple and extraordinarily delicious—whether you're cooking for one or two, hosting a family get-together, or feeding the whole Little League team.

My review

I've been looking for a book like this for ages. One of my friends needs to eat gluten free and I needed some inspiration to plan nice meals for her rather than always resorting to shop bought snack type meals.

I love the lists of things to use and some of the meal ideas are definately joining our '52 new recipe' challenge this year. I will have a lovely source to choose new ideas from. 

I think I'm going to get her a copy of this book aswell.

Monday, 6 October 2014

It's Monday- what are you reading?

Pop over to The Book Journey to see what everyone is reading this week.

It's our anniversary today- and although my husband hates all the books around the house he bought me a copy of The Gone Girl. I'd said that I fancied going to see the film and he was listening and went to get me a copy of the book! I've read that the film is very true to the book- so maybe I need to leave the film for a few days until I've had the chance to read the book first.

Burn- James Patterson.

Detective Michael Bennett finally returns to New York City - and to the most unsettling, horrific case of his career.

At last, Detective Michael Bennett and his family are coming home to New York City. Thanks to Bennett, the ruthless crime lord whose vengeful mission forced the Bennett family into hiding has been brought down for good.

Back in the city that never sleeps, Bennett takes over a chaotic Outreach Squad in Harlem, where he receives an unusual call: a man claims to have seen a group of well-dressed men holding a bizarre party in a condemned building. With no clear crime or evidence, Bennett dismisses the report. 

But when a charred body is found in that very same building, he is forced to take the caller seriously - and is drawn into an underground criminal world of terrifying depravity.


I still want to read the latest James Patterson- in the hope that it finds him on top form again. I don't like his partnership with some authors and some of the series seem a little tired now. But on the whole I enjoy the Michael Bennett series. I actually didn't enjoy the last book in this series- I don't tend to be that keen on the gangland stories so much. I did really enjoy this one with his return to NY. He'd upset his new boss previously and finds himself put in charge of a unit investigating all the crimes no one else wants to look at with a team of detectives who also come out of the pool that no one else wants! He makes an impression on them and starts to motivate them to be the police force they want to be. They want to solve the crimes and make a difference. Alongside this he is assigned to a series of jewellery heists with other crimes being wrapped in!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

You had me at Bonjour- Jennifer Bohnet

his was a real feel good book about a woman wanting to take a Shirley Valentine break after her husband decides that he is isn't going to unpack his case after their holiday. He's going to move in with his girlfriend.

After she is made redundant she decides that she wants to escape the rat race whilst she decides what she wants to do with the rest of her life. She moves into an appartment and introduces herself to the other residents and enrols in some French lessons. After a slow and quite lonely start she starts to make friends and experience some of the luxury events going on within touring distance of the South of France. She attends parties, music Festivals and the Monaco Grand Prix. 

The cast of characters are a charming mix - and her best friend and daughter come out to visit and add different dynamics to the burgeoning relationships.

Needing a way to support herself she starts to write articles about her adventures and they prove very popular.

Will she want to return to the Uk at the end of the year- or will she try adventures further afield.

This would make a perfect beach read and I really enjoyed the book. I will look out for more by this author.

Pieces of You- Ella Harper

A really special book. You fall in love with the main characters in the first few pages- but then things unfurl and you begin to wonder what will happen next. I read reviews that said that it is best to leap into this book without reading the blurb and I think that's true. It takes you on a real journey where you really care about what the outcome is going to be for them both.

The extended family and friends are well rounded and you can just imagine the relationships with the under the surface tensions they all have. Ade comes back from Australia after an extended break from his entire family. Her friend and her husband tell Lucy how they always held Lucy and Luke up as having the perfect relationship everyone aspires to. Their love shines like a beacon and makes everyone aspire to achieve same.

I would highly recommend this book and thank Harper CollinsUk, Avon and Netgalley for the chance to read and review it.

I loved her writing style and couldn't wait to read more. I will definately look out for more by this author.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Carys Jones

Another great find from Carina Uk- through Net Galley. I absolutely loved these books by Carys Jones.

Aiden Connelly’s first case will be one he’ll never forget.

Lawyer Aiden Connelly has traded the frenzy of Chicago for a slower pace in sleepy Avalon – and his first case appears to be as open-and-shut as he could hope for. Hired to defend a local ex-beauty queen accused of murdering her husband, he’s confident that he’ll have the case closed in record time. But below the surface lurks a darker truth…

Suddenly, a quiet backwater has transformed into a dangerous pressure cooker. In a town where everyone knows everyone, gathering evidence should be easy… but the harder Aiden searches, the more he appreciates how tangled this net of loyalties is. And as he digs deeper, Aiden begins to realise that his very first case in Avalon could be the beginning of his undoing…

My review on Good Reads
Lawyer Aiden escapes the stress of Chicago to give his wife and children a small town life in Avalon. His first case seems to be an open and shut murder case. Brandy has admitted murdering her husband- a town hero who played football.

His boss isn't keen when Aiden says that he wants to investigate further. He isn't convinced that Brandy is guilty. But has Brandy woven him into her web- as the town seems to think she's capable of.

When his wife is threatened by the grieving father- Aiden wonders what he has got them all into. By this stage he is convinced of her innocence and does not want to see her face the gas chamber.

It was a great book- keeping me reading almost in one sitting. I will definately look out for more by this author.

Aiden Connelly is just settling in to life in Avalon following the shocking revelations of his first case. But it seems he can't escape the ghosts of his past. His new case involves the Sheriff's millionaire brother, Samuel Fern, and the paternity of one of his sons. 

When the truth threatens to tear about not just one family but two Aiden must ask himself how far he is willing to go to protect the people he loves.

In the second book we return to Avalon and Aiden is given his second case to investigate for his new company. It is a paternity suit and lots of the characters from the first book return.

When his wife keeps getting threatening messages delivered, Aiden thinks she's started a campaign to get them to move back to Chicago and doesn't believe her. He wants them to settle into small town life- and they start to watch the local football team games. His daughter loves the atmosphere. But is he ignoring a real threat to his family- is he as committed as he should be to their new life or is part of his heart in Chicago?

When he returns to see Brandy- the girl he got released from her murder charge in the first book , is he ever going to be able to forget his true feelings and move on.

I loved the description of the parties at his bosses house- they sounded like good fun!

I will definately read more from this author and have already bought her book Prime Deception. She's a new favourite author to add to my list.

Many thanks to the publisher Carina Uk and Net Galley for a copy of this book

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Chocolate Garden

The Chocolate Garden- Ava Miles
This was a lovely read. A romance set in a small town in America- with a singer/song writer added into the mix. It is part of a series - but I read this one as a stand alone without feeling that I missed any of the back story. That said I am now keen to read other books by this author.

Tammy has escaped from an abusive marriage and is still healing her wounds at her brothers wonderful house. She has designed him a wonderful garden- and at his wedding she picks up several orders. Her brothers friend is keen to have a garden planted at his house nearby and quietly is keen to get to know her better aswell.

When there is a break in at her brothers house whilst he is away on tour she moves into John Parker's house to make the children feel safe. She designs his garden and a team has planted a lot of it. Then she decides she is going to plant him a 'Chocolate garden'- where all the plants are either chocolate colour or linked in some way. It all sounded wonderfully delicious and I'd love to find some of the plants and see if they can live in the UK!

This wasn't just a simple love story- there was the break in story to add a bit of drama and the images from the gardens added plenty of lovely pictures in my mind. The additions of a charming story about the chocolate fairies keeping her children safe at night whilst they are making their chocolate was a lovely touch and you could just picture the magic in her little girls mind.

The cover on this one is simply gorgeous- and would definately had me reaching for it in a real life bookstore. I still pick a lot of my books visually!

I received a copy of this book from the publishers Aspendawn through Net Galley- with many thanks.

I would highly recommend this one.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

From Notting Hill with Four Weddings Actually

I really loved every page of this book.It drew me in and kept me reading in every spare second I could find.

Scarlett is getting married and isn't sure where she wants to hold her reception, where she's going to find the perfect dress and even why she has reservations about the best man.

She runs a business/charity that helps people find lost relatives and those who can afford to pay help support a childrens home in New York. Scarlett is extremely proud of both.

One of her best friends Oscar- begins to plan his own wedding with a Shakespearean/fairy theme- and the actual day is such a spectacular that she begins to worry about her own again.

There are several new characters introduced including Gabi- and Scarlett weaves her personal brand of magic around them- improving their lives and introducing them to others.

I enjoyed all the wedding preparations and was hoping that Scarlett was going to get her perfect day- and love the whole day that Sean had organised for her.

Looking forward to the next one in the series now!

Many thanks to Little Brown Book Group Uk and New Galley for the chance to read this book. It rates up there as one of my favourites this year and I would highly recommend it.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Birthday celebrations


It was recently one of those BIG birthdays and we'd decided to have a weekend close to Guy's brother- so that we could enjoy a weekend away but also try to get to see the new grand niece- Scarlett Morgan.

We stopped in Ross on Wye for a picnic and had some beautiful weather. It really was a perfect weekend.

We'd booked a guest house in Symonds Yat where Guy went canoeing with his brother earlier in the year. Apparently they had planned to book me a trip canoeing- but I vetoed that!

The guest house had stunning views over the river and we could watch people on the river- and I actually wondered whether I could have managed a few hours canoeing! My reservations come from not even being able to row a rowing boat and not wanting to end up IN the river.

 We went to the top of Symonds yat- and this walkway goes across the road. It was a really pretty place.
 The views around- apparently you can see three counties from the vantage point. They have some RSPB staff at the top- as some falcons are nesting nearby,
 When we got back we went for a pleasure cruise on one of the pretty boats just by the guest house. We had a tub of ice cream sitting outside The Saracens Head whilst we were waiting.
Ian and Jane drove over to join us for a meal at The Saracen's Head. It was a bit more expensive than we are used to- but the food was absolutely stunning and the staff were really great. The manager was very friendly and chatty. Ian chose the cheeseboard - which looked very tasty and we did all get to share!

 At the end of the evening- Ian disappeared for a moment and came back with a game of scrabble! Apparently this pub has a games cupboard and the people in this section were playing cards and other games. It is absolutely years since I played scrabble and it's not my forte- but it was fun.

The next morning we decided to visit the butterfly farm. I was in a bit of a panic as we were due at Ian and Jane's at 1.30 and the ferry man suggested it was quite a walk. I get into a panic lately if I don't know where I am walking- something I need to work on- as I've stopped wanting to just walk!!!!!!! The ferry man had said that we needed to walk across 2 fields and we hadn't come across them. We stopped to ask someone- and it turned out that we were standing RIGHT outside!

We were there at the same time as  pack of cubs- and they were having a whale of a time feeding them and having the butterflies land on them.
 This was the ferryman on the way back. They move the ferry across the river using these ropes across the river.
                                                                          Guy on the ferry

We arrived at Ian and Jane's just a little after 1.30 and just before Rebecca and Ricky with baby Scarlett. Ian and Jane had done a lovely birthday lunch for us- complete with a helium balloon and pressies and cake.
Scarlett is a real sweetie- she felt so tiny. But she's about the weight my two were- so they must have been around the same size- they were a little bit 'taller'. I had her when she started to get hungry! Remember those days!

The second night we'd booked at The Yew Tree in Longhope. I'd booked the cheapest room I could find- so we weren't sure what to expect really. It was a very simple but nice and clean room and I think the bathroom was nicer than the first place.

 The next morning- after breakfast we decided to visit Croome Park on the way home. It's a recent addition to the National Trust family (in the 2000's) and they have lots of rennovations going on. They had to raise 4.5 million as a condition on taking on a long lease.

We got home and then got ready to go over to mum and dad's for a meal. Mum had decorated the house and got me a balloon!

                                                                Me and my balloon

 I tried pulled pork for the first time- but after all the food I'd eaten over the weekend I really struggled with this. It was a burger with pulled pork with barbecue sauce. It was delicious and may try it again when I haven't eaten all weekend!
                        Lemon meringue sundae was delicious and I'd definately try this one again!
                                               My delicious white chocolate birthday cake.

Amy made American pancakes with bacon and maple syrup on my birthday. Again- just one would probably have been enough!

One of my oldest school friends sent me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers- they had little crystals in the roses. It was a lovely surprise!!!!!!!

I also had this lovely bouquet from Jean and Graham- another surprise! She said she remembered writing my 7th birthday card. I used to love going to her house- and she also used to make me lemon meringues and crumbles!

                     Beckie bought me this lovely orchid- I need to make sure that I look after it.
 we went for our traditional Chinese buffet- Emma's favourite place. This was the sushi counter- we were the first people in.

Aswell as the lovely birthday lunch- Ian and Jane bought me this pretty clock and a huge box of Thorntons!

Amy bought me this pretty bracelet and a keyring with my date of Birth on
  I had these two books off Guy- the recipe book looks very tasty and the other one is the houses of the National Trust which might give us some ideas of the next places to visit.
Susan bought me lots of 50 items- I'd wanted a 50 mug!! There is a pretty black bracelet with a 50 charm and a survival kit which is cute!

    Adele bought me a lovely bookbandz diary and a crystal necklace. Two of my favourite things. I am lucky!
  Di sent me one of these infinity angel bracelets which I have had my eye on for a while!

I had a lovely heron for the garden when we visited Croome park- and he looks great in the one corner!

Then last night my friend Karen came round with Luke and Natalie. They'd bought a little hamper- with 2 great books, some panda socks , some of my favourite kiddies sweets and a bottle of Kava AND a ticket to go and see Paul Nicholas in a show! We had a chinese takeaway- so the rest of the week I think we need to go back to basic rations!

All in all it's not so bad being 50!