Friends and fancy dress :)

On Sunday we went down to the lough to have dinner with Patrice and Stevie, new friends of ours. They live in a mobile home just up from the waters edge, its awesome, their garden literally disappears into Lough Neagh! We arrived a little late so the sun had set and we didn't take any photos until Patrice brought out the sparklers - I was like a child, so excited!

Other events of the evening were brilliant curry, seeing Stevie's baby pictures and sharing dreams of our future homes :)

Even though, due to a 'clocks changing drama' I was late out of bed I think I did OK to get ready for the Pre School Halloween Party! The day was awesome, we had tonnes of fun, 10 hours of party games, slime, sweets and chocolate, brilliant costumes, music, dancing and baking!

I tell you what, I'm glad I don't have an adult party to go to as well because I'm finished! Bath with book then bed LOL

Meet Pumpy!

 Happy Halloween weekend! 

Al and I love Halloween, we spent our 1st one as friends in Plymouth, I was a bat, he was a zombie version of his best friend. It was a great night filled with laughter, shots and music. Next Halloween we were madly in love, living in Ireland in our 1st home together...


Every year since we've got into the spirit and this year is no different, I've planned a Halloween party at work and got my outfit sorted (you'll just have to wait for that!), we've got all sorts of fun and spooky games planned, I can't wait.

At home we were waiting to get a pumpkin for a reasonable price, yesterday at tesco's we found one for 75p! It had so many seeds in it too, I can't believe people throw away the seeds, seems crazy to me. I roasted all the seeds from my works' pumpkins too, with vanilla and brown sugar - the kids loved them :)

Al getting stuck in sorting Pumpy's innards!
In the background is the start of our kitchen jar collection :) 
Thats salt not sugar by the way :)
Mixed in salt then in 180 fan oven. 
Pumpy gets eyebrows...
I'm not sure he likes them lol 
Meet Batty :)
Mix after 20 mins
Mmmm crispy salty pumpkin seeds (about 35mins)

Does anyone eat the pumpkin after? I'm not sure that it'll still be OK after 3 days but I hate to waste food... What do you think?

I hope you all have a brilliant weekend and get into the spooky spirit! xx

Pre School rocks!

I love my job :)

I've had so many jobs over the years, office jobs, crew on yachts, care work, bar/club work, junk mail delivery (sorry), model, health food cafe and horse riding instructor just to name a few!  I've always believed that a job has to work for me and not the other way around. It's too much of my life to spend unhappy - for any amount of money!

Although my job as a pre school room leader is physically, mentally and sometimes emotionally draining, I can't imagine doing anything else. Every day I play, laugh, and be creative in so many ways. 3 year olds are just so much fun, they are old enough to do cool art and craft projects with, to joke with and to read good stories to. I feel very lucky to have found my calling :)

I wish I could take loads of photos to show you all my little friends and the fun we have, but obviously I can't... I will take some picture of the things we've made, Halloween has made this such a great craft month!

We had a stunning Autumn day today, I hope the weather was beautiful wherever you are too xx

My sisters and me :)

I have two sisters, I'm in the middle, which I love :)

On the left is my older sister is Pippa, she is the most wonderful big sister anyone could wish for. She has always been there for me and supported me in everything I did. I hope with all my heart that in the end her journey brings her closer to me and my life in the future, I miss her so much. At the moment she is sailing around the world with her man - an incredible adventure, but so far away!

On the right is Malaika, my beautiful little baby sister (16 so not really a baby anymore lol) she lives in Devon, England. She's just moved out of home for the first time and is loving her first taste of real independence, she's in love and she's happier than ever. I remember how exciting life is at that stage, I had so much fun becoming an adult and 'finding myself' it's wonderful to watch her do the same. I do wish we saw each other more, I miss her brilliantly random sense of humor and unique personality :)

These are some of my favorite pictures of our wedding day, and of all time, I think they capture our friendship so well. I can't wait till we see each other again. I hope hope hope it's soon :)

My 1st 'Happy List'

I love the idea of happy lists, everyone has their own take on them but mine will be about the little things, the things that at the moment are giving me a rush of happiness no matter how small or silly!
  1. Watching 24 on the sofa bed with my man.
  2. My routine of on the weekend baking bread and treats for the coming week.
  3. The feeling of overwhelming love I got when I held a work mates 18 day old baby girl.
  4. Leaning over to kiss my husband when I get in the car after work.
  5. Autumn and everything that comes with it - wind, rain, cold and all!
  6. Seeing my little sister happy (via facebook, she lives in England).
  7. Watching Cara, our cat, sleep peacefully.
  8. The satisfaction of dealing with an issue at work head on before it manifests.
  9. Cadburys fruit and nut chocolate.
  10. Best of all, looking through old iphoto events and laughing my head off, there seems to be some of us goofing around in every album! These are from about 2 years ago, they still make me laugh out loud! 

This last one is my favorite, I don't know what the hell we were doing
 but who cares, it was hilarious!

I loved writing that happy list, in fact writing happy lists is going to be on my next happy list! 
If you've done one recently let me know in the comments I'd love to take a look.

Astra xx

A trip to feed the ducks

A few days ago Al and I went to Hillsbrough park for a walk and to feed the ducks.

Turned out that the ducks were full, totally uninterested in our bread! It had been a lovely sunny morning and the park was most likely packed with families feeding them, still, have you ever known ducks or swans to turn down food? It had quietened down by the time we arrived and the sun was hiding behind the clouds, a perfect Autumn afternoon.

Sometimes we like to try and slow time down, by just stopping for a while and watching the world. We sat on a bench and watched the ducks, the dog walkers, the leaves falling in the wind, the happy children and the ripples on the water. I'm sure we were only sat there for 20 mins but it felt like hours, I love that :)

Bargain Buy!

Hi everyone, I just wanted to say thank you for stopping by, I'm really enjoying writing this blog and I so appreciate the support I've had so far. I cant believe there are people reading this from Australia, Canada, America, Russia, Germany and lots of other countries - it's just so cool! Thank you!

I love love LOVE a bargain and I got an amazing one yesterday :) The hubby and I were in town to buy a bow tie, his work has been nominated for a best new business award NI and the black tie event, which I'm also invited to is this Thursday - exciting stuff! Anyway we saw a new charity shop and naturally went in for a nosey. I love cook books and will have an impressive collection on display in my dream kitchen one day but I won't buy them new on principle so I just keep an eye out in the second hand shops. Problem is I really like the river cottage and jamie oliver books which are really popular and hard to find but patience paid off and there was a practically brand new 'Jamie's America' for £2! RRP £26!!!

Please excuse the mirror photo...
I'm over the moon and have already read half of it and made a sausage Jambalaya, I was missing more than half of the ingredients but I never stick to recipes anyway -  I just use them as a guide and for inspiration. It tasted brilliant even though it doesn't really look like much! We used one of Al's home grown Caribbean scotch bonnets, even though it was a massive pot (will do us for at least 3 meals) one was enough!

While I was in the kitchen I made bread for the week, mostly I make 1 plain and 1 chilli (recipe pictures and how-to at chillininja) but today I just made 2 plain and some experimental rocky road type things for lunch time treats.

Rising nicely in the kitchen
Marshmallow, raisin, coconut, chocolate, rice crispy squares
 The bread is in the oven now and I can just start to smell it mmmmmm. I hope you had a lovely weekend, mine has been very relaxing :)


Dublin city

We had such a crazy Wednesday and Thursday that I won't bore you with the details but to give you an idea it included; our normal 10 hr work days and our new car breaking down, tow ropes, hire cars, calling in favours from friends and late nights.... So the packing and organising was rushed but once we got into the car it was all worth it :)

Driving down we ate sandwiches, chatted about where we are in our life at the moment (so happy), and rocked out to Incubus (science album), also got stuck at roadworks but amused ourselves and some fellow drivers by rolling down the windows and fake rapping to 2pac, full volume - so funny, I really should video it next time lol. After that we just needed 4 illegal u-turns and we were there :)

We stayed in on Friday night with pizza and just caught up with Baz, then Saturday we hit the town...

The Church, a very cool bar as you can see!
As if it wasn't cool enough, Authur Guinness was married here back in the day!

Baz and I 

The boys :)
Waiting for our Nandos, I can only handle the 'lemon herb', I'm such a wimp. Chillininja here dips his 'hot' in more hot sauce, crazy man that he is lol
My favorite bit of the evening, I got to cycle to the next venue! Of which there are no pictures... It was the Brazen head, the oldest pub in Ireland established in 1198 (I think!) pretty impressive hey?
The liffey
"Brick are you just looking at things around the room and saying you love them?"
On Sunday we went to the zoo, everyone had raved about it but we were slightly underwhelmed, I guess after spending time in Africa no zoo will impress. There was a very cute baby gorilla though and we did have a lovely day out.

This weekend was not at all frugal, we didn't go mad and waste any money obviously but for us its important to have these breaks from saving and being too strict. We want to enjoy ourselves and treat ourselves too, especially for a birthday, it's nice to just do what you want to do for the other person and not be worrying constantly how much it'll cost. It was lovely to eat out every day and go out on the town but as we were driving home we both admitted we were glad to be heading back and looking forward to getting back to our wee life, just the two of us, on a journey to a dream...

3 days till road-trip!

Im so excited! This saturday is my lovely husbands 31st Birthday, to celebrate we're going on a road-trip to spend the weekend in his favorite city in the world - Dublin.
As you'll soon come to realise if you follow this blog, we LOVE road-trips, just give us half an excuse and we're off! A really good friend of ours Bazza lives in Dublin so we'll be crashing at his, you gotta love friends who live in cool cities and don't mind you taking up floor space :)

We go to Dublin quite a lot (its only 2 hours on the motorway) but the last time we were there was especially special. It was the week after our wedding and we were on a Galway, Dublin road-trip, we had with us my best friend Aza who came all the way from Australia for my big day after not seeing me for 6 years! And also my Auntie Gail who brought my 2 cousins Lucy and Dan all the way from South Africa. They loved it, Guinness, Jameson and the craic, what's not to love?

Aza looking very serious and Al happy with the quality of the guinness!
Gail and Lucy cheering the irish dancers :)
We're getting all packed and organised this week so on friday we can come home, change and go - hopefully getting there about 9.30. We'll have a flask for tea, chocolate, sandwiches for dinner on the way and lots of good music, essential on a road-trip!

Pictures will follow next week :) Have you ever been to dublin? Do any of you readers live in ireland?


On a little 'enjoying the journey' literal side note, here are some snaps of our car journey to and from Dublin new year 2008... Happy memories :)

My feel good song of the moment

"LA LA LA COMING HOME!!!" I am a terrible singer, I don't care, I sing this at full tilt and it makes me happy happy happy :) "HOME IS WHERE EVER IM WITH YOU!!!"
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