Word of the week: Birthday

An easy choice of word for this week as it's my birthday today. 


As with most birthdays these days it's one I'm stretching out for as long as I can, and at least for a couple of weeks. At 48 years young it's the kind of pace I can keep up with! 

This week has been about the birthday run-up and making sure MOH has deciphered those big hints as I hoped. It's been a week of increased happy post too, which is always nice.  

Tonight we're heading into Blackheath for a meal to celebrate and for once I didn't have a list of places to choose from. Not sure why, but perhaps that's a sign of a contented lot, who knows.  

It's unlikely that MOH will have sorted out a cake, and in all fairness we were out last night and he's been at work so he's had little time to plan and make a masterpiece. There has been cake though as I made a rhubarb cake on Monday - with rhubarb from the garden - but I may make a chocolate cake later today, as birthdays should be celebrated with chocolate and not rhubarb. Well in my book anyway.  

And MOH is planning to make chocolate mousse at the weekend, and after chocolate cake that's the next best way to eat chocolate, so that's really not a bad thing at all. I hope you've all had a great week too, even if it hasn't been your birthday!

The Reading Residence

This weekend so far...

I escaped from the office at 3pm on Friday. Something my work calendar plans for each week, but also something that rarely happens. Boy, it was good to have a bit of post-office freedom!  On the way home though I had a whole set of tasks to undertake in readiness for the weekend. Most of these were based around our local parade of shops at Blackheath Standard, which is a fab row of shops with (almost) everything you could want. (Don't ask me what's missing as I'm not sure I could answer that right now). 

Anyway, cash extracted from the machine and pickled cornichons purchased from M&S (I had a fancy for some tartare sauce with our home cooked fish and chips - and I don't do the bottled sort ever since I discovered how easy it is to make a passable tartare sauce!) I set off for the florist. I wanted a bouquet for my mother-in-law to mark her "diamond" birthday celebrations taking place on Saturday. While the florist added a water bubble to the bouquet I was off to the opticians to collect my contact lenses and up to the pharmacy to check to see if they had my prescription from the local doctors. They did and did I want to wait while they made it up? Well, I still needed to go to the butchers (for eggs) and the green grocers, as well as retune to the florists and pick up the bouquet, so I said I'd pop back after I'd do e the rest of my shopping. Into the butchers, for half a dozen eggs and a quick chat. Off to the green grocers for some oranges, lemons, apples and carrots (an odd combination I know - but now they're open until 19:30 weekdays it's easy to pick up some proper veg (not swathed in plastic) on the way home from work). Beautiful bouquet collected and I'm back in the pharmacy waiting for my prescription.  Phew. I thought I'd been clever by slipping my debit card into my pocket as I knew I was loaded up carrying things, but I forgot I'd need to sign the form and put my tablets somewhere so the forward planning of not delving/opening my handbag while balancing a shopping bag and a bouquet of flowers didn't really come off, but the young male shop assistant seemed perfectly ok holding the flowers while I did!  And they are lovely:

Back home, achieving all of this and feeling virtuous and it was only 4:15pm so time for a cuppa to reward and recuperate. Then I realised I'd forgotten the potatoes for chips for tea. Doh! A quick text to MOH providing instructions on size, make and quantity and I was back to my cuppa. 

During the week my next batch of weaved baskets to finish organising the kitchen cupboards had arrived so I set about remembering where I needed those for!

With them all in place - I'll share pictures of them in place separately - and the dishwasher emptied I could start on a sourdough loaf for Saturday's breakfast and now that I have my food processor unpacked I thought I'd make a cake too. I'd had my eye on a lemon and yogurt cake from The Ordinary Cook (see here: http://theordinarycook.co.uk/2013/10/20/lemon-and-yoghurt-cake/) so I started on that. By the time I got to the bit of whipping thee egg whites to stiff peaks MOH was home (with potato) and could help out as I'd stupidly opted to do this by hand!

The cake was baking, the chips were ready to go in the oven, the homemade tartare sauce was made. It was wine o'clock!  I'd had a very productive few hours, which was just as well as Saturday morning was going to start busy too!

We weren't disappointed. MOH was up and out by 8:30 for his usual ten-miler on his bike. I was up and doing 35 minutes of the current fitness DVD (Slim in 6, disk 1) alongside cooking the sourdough from yesterday. Yes, even during a home DVD fitness session there was some multi-tasking going on!  Exercise and breakfast completed it was then a race to get ready and out. Our goal was lunch in Amersham (about 55miles away) at 1:30pm. Somehow we didn't end up leaving til midday and the satnav predicted a journey time of 1 hour 17 minutes with the traffic situation on the M25 looking "flexible" - thankfully it went our way and we arrived a good twenty minutes before our deadline. Phew. 

Lunch was in honour of my mother-in-law's diamond birthday and was a lovely, relaxing occasion with great food being served by Gilbeys in Amersham. I had goats cheese with beetroot panna cotta to start, belly porcetta with the most divine crackling as a main and a creamy, lemon tart for dessert.  It was a great small restaurant which served amazing food that was very reasonably priced - definitely go if you're in the area (here's a link to their menu http://www.gilbeygroup.com/restaurants/gilbeys-old-amersham/food-wine/a-la-carte-menu/). 

After a short walk back to my sister-in-law's we really weren't fit for much else than an afternoon on the sofas, with more tea, red wine and later olives. A great way to spend an afternoon. Having all decided to give the local firework display a miss earlier in the afternoon, as the evenings weather set in we were all grateful! The evening consisted of some Strictly Come Dancing, lots of cheese and some more red wine. By 11pm I was pretty much done...

Now we're home again after a breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon and are bracing ourselves to head out into the garden to check the fence damage first-hand (it seems to be leaning more than before) and to put the terracotta pots away or swathe them in bubblewrap now that the weather has taken a more autumnal turn. Then it's back indoors for more moving things around in preparation for phase 2.  All this with the thought of Barbados in our minds, as that's only six weeks away!  Eek!

Family lunch

So, my third meal "out" in five days... This time a family lunch in honour of my eldest niece's twentieth birthday. The impromptu invite came last weekend and prompted some last minute(ish) shopping research, including questions on the colour of her new bedroom (they moved house in May).  Cream and duck egg was the answer. 

It was a great answer as that meant this worked:


Much of my communication with niece #1 is by Twitter. She's just back from a second summer at Camp America, finishing this year's camp with a Roadtrip across the country - lucky girl. Anyway, I told her to expect a delivery...

It arrived last Thursday, the day before her birthday (what a clever Auntie I am!):

I'm sure everything for lunch is under control, despite this Facebook post:

I'm reading that as the cook has a hangover, not the nine she's cooking for! 

Lunch was good - roast gammon, roast chicken and all the trimmings, followed by cheesecake and a small slice of banoffee pie!  And it was great to get everyone together in what turned out to be a pre-runner to our family Christmas (although we'll be in a different location).  There were many stories shared from recent travels to the US, although my mum is suffering with her hearing following the flight so we've spent the afternoon shouting when she can't hear us. And jumping when she speaks at a louder volume than normal!

Families, hey!