Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Craziness!!


Well this is a flying post...

As I said before we have rented out our flat for the festival- I am in full throws of cleaning/ packaging gutting!! As they arrive tomorrow. I have SO SO much stuff! (Accidentally typed SOS there... kind of sums up my day!!)

My Sisters car is in the garage getting fixed and my Dad's car is being used by a work colleague so I have to wait for transportation today! everything is ready to go to get the final things into storage and also the few things I'm taking to my Dad's (although it seems to be growing by the minute!!) So now I am waiting for my Dad to pick me up after he finishes work.

I'm staying at his from tonight but coming back tomorrow to do the finishing touches. Nathan (typical man has not done anything!!... actually he has packed 3 of his boxes!!! truth be told I'm not sure if he has much else excluding clothes in the flat!! Again... I have a lot of stuff!!..Oh dear!)

He is going to move into one of the flats owned by the rugby club for the 3 1/2 weeks we are displaced... it's only 2 mins walk from my Dad's but means that he can go out and not worry about my wrath and my Dad's annoyance if he makes a nose in the wee small hours... which we all know he would!!

So today I've been clearing out every cupboard and cleaning everything from the kitchen sink to the oven (I nearly died accidentally inhaling the oven cleaner fumes!! I really don't advise it!!)

Why is it you always clean your house more when people are coming to stay? Friends/ Relatives... Random Strangers!! I wish my house was this tidy and decluttered all the time... but I guess that would mean parting with all my lovely material possessions.. def not ready to do that!!

I have loads of new posts to update... This past weekend we were in Arran which was brilliant! Loads of photos from there... 203 to be precise but I won't post them all!! Also I made a really tasty few dishes in the last few days... chicken tastic!! As I was trying to clear out the freezer... still not managed it... there are peas and spinach lurking in one of the drawers..oh well!!

Hopefully our new tenants will be happy with our humble abode.

I am not sure what my internet situation will be for the next wee while so hopefully I'll be updating things.

Also had my interview with the another Ad agency and I'm now going back in for a 3rd informal chat next week... it's obviously the way these agencies work!!

Love to everyone!

Jen x

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Steps in the right direction!

Hooray Hooray! We have rented out the flat for the festival!!

The lovely lady, Pamela that I spoke to over the last few days has booked it along with her boyfriend, Brandon. He phoned last night to confirm and we ended up talking on the phone for 30 mins!! They are such a nice couple! I couldn't be happier that they will be in the flat. They even sent a really cute photo of themselves and they look lovely and smiley!

They are coming up from London and she has two stalls in the festival selling silk scarfs, handbags, jackets etc. She usually sells them in the market at Covent Garden. Here is Pamela's website if you want to have a nose- Mac and Pop

She is also looking for someone to work on her second stall from 11-6 every day for the festival- so if anyone knows anyone who is free all of August give me a bell. I would love to have done it but I'm not too sure if that's too close for comfort... them renting a flat from me and then me working for them! Plus I'm away at Emma's wedding for 5 days too.

So positive steps!!

Also the lady from the Ad Agency e-mailed and I am meeting her for a chat next Tuesday... so fingers crossed something comes out of it!!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Fingers Crossed!

Well I had a really positive meeting with another Ad Agency today. I meet with the brother of a lovely lady I babysit for. I have also looked after his boys on occasion too.

Again there is nothing at the moment but he said he prefers to meet with good people so when they do win a pitch or need more staff they can hit the ground running as they have people in mind already.

He wants me to meet his colleague in the Experiential Marketing division next week... they do sampling, events etc. So fingers crossed! He too was really complimentary and said that I am clearly competent and present myself very well... check me!!! So I just need a lucky break!!

We also might have a couple to rent our flat out... she seems pretty positive but is looking over all her options tonight... pray she picks our flat as she wants it for 3 1/2 weeks and that would cover 2 months mortgage payments!! (or our trip to Ireland for Emma H's wedding in August.... holidays are so expensive!!) Pleeeeaaase keep your fingers crossed for me!! ... and your toes too!

Monday, 21 July 2008

A Brighter Day!

It's amazing how a brighter day just lightens your mood!! This was the view outside our flat this morning! We have hardly ever had clear skies recently. So I took myself off (in my MBTs) and did all my errands down Dalry Road... Post Office, Printing Shop, Supermarket, Drycleaners, Photo Printing Shop etc... such a lovely morning!!

I have an informal chat with another Ad Agency tomorrow and I have also been contacted by a recruitment agency regarding another job that I think I'd be really good at...and have the relevant experience... it's with a huge company so I don't know what my chances are... so fingers crossed!!

So I'm feeling positive today! and long may this weather continue as we had off to the West Coast on our long weekend trip this Thursday... I can't wait!!

Christmas Dinner in July!


Do you like my summer time 'Christmas Dinner' spread! Complete with cocktail umbrellas!!

As I mentioned before we are trying to clear our freezer out and I had loads of Marks and Spencers Christmas food still left in there that we never used this past December. The only thing we were missing was a Turkey. So to make it a bit more summery I went and got a free range organic chicken... it was so tasty!

I mixed lemon zest, garlic (from Lily's allotment) and butter together and spread it all over it's skin. I then sqeezed a lemon cut in two over the top and then put the lemons and a garlic bulb in it's cavity- it tasted so so delicious and really fresh and light... and it had to be as we also had-
  • Sage and Onion Sausage stuffing
  • Pigs in Blankets
  • Cranberry and Port Sauce
  • Bread Sauce
  • Red Cabbage with Cranberry
  • Vegetables including Lily and Neil's Potatoes in Butter... yummy!!
and not forgetting the mince pies!!

.... there is now a big space in my freezer and no space in my stomach!! I'll be full till next weekend!!!We had Becky and Dougie (who had just returned from holiday in Spain) round as well as Ramen.. it was a great Sunday night dinner.

Ham, Artichoke and Lemon Pilaf

This recipe was a huge success with Nathan.. as he had made me lunch on Saturday I returned the favour. I love artichokes so thought I'd give this a try.

I made the recipe as it is so for 4 people thinking I could freeze the other 2 portions and Nathan could take it for lunches this week... but no he went back for seconds and thirds.. and so it was gone!! I guess it's okay though if your 6'8" and have been doing rugby fitness training all morning!!
Ham, Artichoke and Lemon Pilaf Recipe

Muffins Galore!

I LOVE muffins... I would eat Starbucks Orange and Cranberry Christmas muffins all year round every day if I could!!

After the delicious salad Nathan made on Saturday we didn't have anything sweet I could just nibble on... and with procrastination of the packing and the tidying taking hold I decided to make some muffins with whatever I could find...
So Raspberry and Chocolate Chip Muffins (I didn't eat the chocolate to quench my craving as it was cooking chocolate- never the same unless it's in a recipe!) and then Nathan asked me to add porridge oats to the blueberry muffins... these tasted okay straight out the oven but they went really hard- really quickly where as the rasp and choc ones stayed moist for ages.. although there weren't many left!! I also took some of the batch to Amber on Saturday night.

So on Sunday when we got up early (both have us have been waking up so early as the sun shines right into our room and right through our cream curtains!!) we had freshly made coffee from the stove and muffins... yummy!! Such a nice Sunday treat!

MUFFIN RECIPE

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Nathan chopping up the Butternut squash that I had peeled for our soup.

Making sure the soup tastes good!

Butternut Squash soup ready to serve! Nathan had some for dinner on Saturday night and then I served some with dinner on Sunday and froze the rest for Nathan to take for work.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP



Weekend at home.. continued!

We also did LOADS of cooking this weekend!!

Some of it was to clear out our freezer and some of it was just pure procrastination!!

We made:

Nathan's Special Chicken, Avocado, Apple and Lemon Dressing Salad
Butternut Squash soup (joint effort!)
Blueberry and Porridge Oat Muffins
Raspberry and Chocolate Muffins
Ham Artichoke and lemon Pilaf
Lemon and Garlic Butter Chicken with the full Christmas Dinner trimmings (all from the freezer!)

All recipes to follow!

Then on Saturday night I went round to Amber's for dinner... David comes to pick up all her things this Thursday as they only have 8 weeks till the weekend!! How time flies! It was a lovely dinner of Chicken fijita salad and then Strawberries and Ice cream... so apart from the ice cream it was really healthy!

So I desperately need to get going on my MBTs to work it all off... although I was packing up so much this weekend and lugging boxes around I'm sure I worked off some of the calories!! (........Surely!)

Nathan kindly made us lunch on Saturday and he cooked this delicious dish straight from his head (which he was gloating about as I always use recipe books!!)

Chicken, Avocado, Apple and Lemon Dressing Salad

Weekend at home!

Nathan and I had such a nice relaxing weekend. We did loads of jobs and got a lot sorted out before we go on our wee break next weekend.

I started doing our inventory or itinerary as I kept calling it!! So if (fingers crossed) we do get any one in the flat we know what we have and what should still be there when they leave... we have or should I say I have SO much stuff!! Our kitchen cupboards are overflowing!!

I also did some framing... taking some inspiration from my friend Heidi and her great blogsite: http://www.heidi-family.blogspot.com/ I got hold of the wallpaper design that we want to eventually use on our bedroom wall and I framed it- along with it's varying colours. Heidi had made a canvas but I was worried this might get torn by any guests. I think they look really nice and will match my quilt. (the wall won't always be lilac!! I hope!! That's one of the next jobs- wallpapering and painting our bedroom.)


I also, again using inspiration from Heidi, ordered some gold letters... they arrived on Saturday morning so I stuck them right up! They are in our bathroom... along with a lovely gold frame of some of our photos from recently.... if you've looked around my blog you probably recognize a few of them!

Nathan was quite shocked when he saw the letters come out the box... I think he thought they'd be a couple of inches high!! But he assures me he really likes them.... I think they are great fun!

Mama Mia!

Friday night I went round to Hillary's lovely new flat... it's so close to my Dad's house and my old neighborhood which is lovely. She cooked me an awesome dinner... mozzarella, big juicy tomatoes and basil to start and then Sea Bass (I think it was Sea Bass... I'll have to check with Hills) A white fish at any rate that tasted like Sea Bass with a Salade Verte dressing on the top- yum! .. so thanks Hills for a lovely supper!!

We then went to the movies to see Mama Mia which I was really looking forward too. To start with I wasn't so sure if the musical thing worked on film... the first scene was a bit too over acted... like they would be on stage.... but then Meryll Streep, Julie Walters and Amanda Seyfried stepped on screen and I loved it from that moment on... I really got into it... and I wasn't the only one... people were singing and dancing in their seats!! Great fun! I'm off to download all the Abba songs onto my i-pod... as I realised I don't have one Abba song on there!!

I have to say- I'd never seen the stage show before but they have really cleverly put all the songs in to tell the story... and Meryll Streep and Pierce Brosnan (of all people!) were great... I think Meryll definitely deserves an award for this! I would highly recommend it. (as long as you like Abba and musicals!)

Friday, 18 July 2008

Festival Let (Hopefully!)

The outside of our flat.

Living Room with the sun streaming in- this looks onto the street.

Our Bedroom.

Our Spare/ Second Bedroom

As I mentioned previously we are hoping to rent out our flat for the Edinburgh festival. In previous years Nathan has easily rented his flat out with people paying the equivalent of a months mortgage for a weeks rent! Ideal! So we thought we'd try and do the same this year.

We have organized to stay with my Dad throughout August (or whenever we have it rented out!) We are away at Emma H's wedding in Ireland so we shouldn't impose too much. I also rented some storage space to keep all our belongings but so far we have not had any interest! Boo!

It seems that accommodation is majorly down this year. Usually you wouldn't be able to get a room/ flat for love nor money but some hotels and guest houses still have vacancies!! I hate this credit crunch! (if that's what it is!)

So I have now put it on the internet advertising the flat and the room only- we could cope with someone in our spare room if it elevated some of the financial pressures!

So here are some photos of the flat... I thought as I was putting them up on the web I should blog them too. So enjoy nosing round the house and if you know anyone who needs accommodation in Edinburgh let me know!!

The Spare Bedroom... the only room that's finished (minus the shelves we are saving for)
I didn't post all these photos in my adverts but I thought it's good to have a nose around!
If we rent it we will move the sofa into the living room and put a double bed in the spare room so the flat could sleep 4-6 people- which is good value for money with the price of festival lets.

Coconut Chicken with Cucumber Salad

This was a big hit with Nathan! (most things are!) but this time the bowl was pretty much licked clean!

This recipe is from (surprise, surprise!) Good Food Magazine Aug edition.

Coconut Chicken with Cucumber Salad

Serves 2 easily doubled- Prep 10 mins- Cook 25 mins.

1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 Skinless Chicken Breasts
3 tbsp Desiccated Coconut
1 tsp Sunflower Oil
1/2 cucmber, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp white wine or rice vinegar

1. Heat oven 200C/ fan 180C. gas 6. Season the egg white. Dip the chicken in the egg, then in the coconut. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 20-25 mins, turning once until the chicken is cooked through.
2. Meanwhile, tip the cucumber slices into a colander, sprinkle with a little salt and leave for 5 minutes to drain. Pat the cucumber slices dry with kitchen paper. In a bowl, mix the onion with the sugar and vinegar, then add the cucumber and serve with the chicken.

I also served a potato salad made with Nathan's parents Charlotte Potatoes from their allotment.

After dinner our friends Ben and Rachel popped by to drop off some cricket kit so I made a quick dessert. It was a really easy Eton mess. I crumbled 4 pre bought merguine nests with strawberries and mixed them with 0% fat free greek yogurt. Then in each bowl I placed the mixture on top of an individual merguine nest and dotted a few wee strawbs on top for decoration! Served with a cup of tea it was perfect and a reasonably healthy treat!

The Royal Mile!


On the way to the concert at the castle we walked up the High Street/ Royal Mile. I love Edinburgh! It is so beautiful- especially on sunny evenings like this!

Leonard Cohen Concert

Wednesday night Nathan got free tickets for Leonard Cohen- I have to admit that at first I was not sure who he was but on investigation I found out I knew his songs- 'Hallelujah' will be known by everyone (especially if you've watched Shrek recently- although it's not a great rendition!) and I knew Suzanne, Bird on a Wire and Dance me to the end of love.

The concert was at the castle which was such an impressive venue. Leonard Cohen is 73 and he had so much energy and passion... and the dirtiest, most brilliant laugh! His voice was so haunting and when he read out his lyrics like poetry their was a chill that went down your spine! Such a good evening!
Nathan gave his 2 other complimentary tickets to Arthur, who he works with and his wife Margaret. They loved it and were singing along to every song! The whole audience was full of old hippies and rockers! Such a great atmosphere!

Brightening up the place!

Well this week has been tough... I still have no full time position on the horizon and it's starting to get me down! I have so much time on my hands but I don't seem to be accomplishing anything! And my money isn't going as far as I need!

I worked Monday for the Ad agency I did some work for back in May/ June it was pretty tiring as I was working until 8 on my feet all day! But at least it was helping the bank balance. All my work at the moment is so sporadic and all PR/ Event management for a few days! I need a new job!!

So Tuesday I walked past the local florist and they had a display similar to this in the window so I decided to treat myself!! They brighten the place up so much!!

We have also decided to try and rent out our flat for the Edinburgh festival so I've been spending a lot of time tidying up and boxing up stuff in the hope that we can rent it out for August- or even just the spare room. The sunflowers have cheered me up no end!!

I have an informal chat with another agency on Tuesday so we'll see what happens...

Thursday, 17 July 2008

MBT follow up!


Well I walked from my flat to my Dad's office yesterday- probably less than a mile and boy do the MBTs work!! You can totally feel the muscles in your thighs and calves working... I even felt my stomach tighten!!

They say to build it up so I did and I am very very glad I did... My hamstrings feel like I've done a big gym class! Excellent!!

I'll be half my size in no time!! (I few pounds would do to start with though!!)

I'll keep you all up to date on the walking progress!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

4 things....

4 Jobs Ive had:
1. Retail Manager Scotland, for LIQUIDe Limited looking after Red Bull
2. Trade Marketing Manager, for LIQUIDe Limited looking after Red Bull
3. National Account Manager for mySmoothie UK
4. Freelance Account Handler for the Union Advertising agency.

4 Movies I've watched more than once:
1. Beaches... and I cry every time- still!
2. Pride and Prejudice- or any Jane Austen- Emma, Sense and Sensibility etc
3. Atonement- watched that loads recently
4. 13 going on 30

4 Places I have lived:
1. Edinburgh, Scotland (for most of my life!)
2. Dundee, Scotland (for University)
3. Jacksonville, Florida
4. Glasgow (for all of 3 months!)

4 Places I have been/visited:
1. Barcelona, Spain
2. New York, USA
3. Dublin, Ireland
4. Sorrento, Itlay

4 Favorite Foods:
1. Nathan's salmon with garlic, ginger, soya sauce and seasame seed recipe! Yum!
2. Really good garlicy homous with warm pitta breads
3. Lobster with garlic butter
4. Steak with thin fries and garlic butter... bit of a garlic butter theme!!! mmm...

4 Places I would like to visit:
1. Rome, Italy (only been for a day and loved what I saw!)
2. Martha's Vineyard
3. New Zealand
4. Thailand/Cambodia

4 Things I am looking forward to this year:
1. Emma H's wedding in Ireland
2. Staying in Cape Cod on our family holiday
3. Finding a full time job!! (finger crossed!)
4. Getting the flat sorted- finishing some decorating.

4 Friends I'm tagging: (if you're in the mood)
1. Heidi
2. Vicki
3. Lark
4. Holly

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Getting Fit!


On Saturday my very kind Mum treated me to a pair of MBTs trainers. My friend Emma H has them and for the last 6 months- a year has gone for long walks with them on and really benefited. She feels that they have really helped her tone up and lose weight and that is something I really need to do right now!

So I'm off for my first walk tomorrow (my legs are still too sore today from the allotment gardening! Who knew gardening was such a workout!!) the lady in the shop says I need to break them in so only half an hours first but I am really determined to get fitter... I have done nothing really since I fell down the stairs last summer. Fair enough excuse whilst I was having physio but no reason to be lazy now!!

More Allotments!


A lot of the allotments are dedicated to growing vegetables with some flowers, like marigolds to encourage bees. I loved this allotment which was just full of poppies and peonies.. so pretty! I bet they attract loads of insects!!

I'd probably fill my allotment with flowers!!

Thinking of flowers I just signed up last week to do another floristry course with Susan at Lily West. It starts in August but as I'm at Emma's wedding I'm only going to do three weeks. She is going to show us how to do wedding flowers! I can't wait!!

Lily and Neil's Allotment


Over the past month or so we have benefited from the produce Lily and Neil grow in their allotment (all the spinach for the spinach recipes I've cooked!) but I had still not seen it until this weekend.

I was so impressed! It is so orderly and there are so many different varieties of vegetables growing there. Red Onions, White Onions, Spinach, Lettuce, Green Beans, Carrots, Courgettes, Strawberries, Apples, Charlotte Potatoes and so many more!!

I think it is such a good hobby and really economic at the moment with all the food prices shooting up! They were originally started around war time to produce vegetables. Lily is keen to put Nathan and I's names down on the list as the land is owned by the council and you just rent it- I don't know if we'd have any time... a lot of the people who have them are already retired.. but the waiting list is 5-7 years so you never know we may be allotment owners one day!!

Neil's green beans (below) are doing really well as are the Charlotte Potatoes that he planted(in the foreground of the above picture) ... we had some in a Potato salad with our BBQ- gorgeous!!

Allotments

Sadly one of Nathan's friend's Dad's past away in the last few weeks. He had an allotment that his wife wishes to keep but as he'd been ill he had not been able to tend to it.

Nathan's Mum, Lily also has an allotment in the same patch so she offered for us to clear it up.

It was actually quite good fun and we had a productive day. Lily and Neil made us all bacon and sausage rolls when we got to their house and I brought a big doggy bag from the afternoon tea the day before for a snack with our cup of tea. Then once we were done Nathan's parents made us a tasty BBQ.

I had such a sense of achievement at the end of the day. I worked on the front part and dug up all the weeds and really tall grasses. I also found a redcurrant bush under other plants and some tiny wee gooseberry bushes. I made a box up of all the fruit and tied some lavender from the allotment together to take round to Margaret. I think she was very appreciative of all the hard work.







Before Neil, Ramen, Lily and Nathan at the bottom of the Allotment.
After Lily and Neil still need to turn the earth over but it has made such a difference already

A bit of my Patch I took out all the weeds and trimmed all the bushes and shrubs.

Neil, Lily, Nathan and I