Tag Archives: Blogroll

A Saturday Steal and a bit of creativity

24 Apr

This is posted in conjuntion with Camille’s Saturday Steals over at Archives of our Lives.


I’ve got a bit of a thing for funky hairclips at the moment, but as we’re meant to be saving for our holiday I haven’t been able to buy any.

However, when I was down in Devon I was inspired by one of my niece’s hairclips, which had been made for her by one of their family friends.


I soon realised that it would be super easy to make, so I got to work!

First, I cut out two flower templates one slightly bigger than the other, and pinned them to scraps of coloured felt and cut them out.


Then I pinned the small flower to the bigger flower and sewed round the edge to join the two together using contrasting cotton.


Then I positioned a colourful button in the middle of the flower and a hair-clip at the back and sewed on the button and the clip with the same thread to make everything secure.




…and it only cost  around 60p to make. A steal!


The art of feeding boys

11 Mar


No, I haven’t fallen off the edge of a cliff – but I have been cooking!

I’ve been thinking about getting this cookbook for a while…


If you’re a blogger and you haven’t heard of The Pioneer Woman, where have you been? If you aren’t a blogger and you haven’t heard of The Pioneer Woman, you should definitely go and check her site out!

Anyway, Amanda over at Growth Chart Moments blogged about one of PW’s recipes the other day and it pushed me over the edge into buying the book (AND I had an Amazon voucher so it was free, which might have had something to do with it!).

Even if you don’t ever buy this book go and check out PW’s recipe pages. She makes everything so simple but it tastes SO GOOD!


So, after getting inspiration from Amanda I decided to make Chicken Pot Pie.

On a side note, this recipe uses left over chicken. In my house we very rarely have left over chicken because we’re not a ‘roast’ kind of household. In my parents house growing up we have delicious roasts every Sunday, but because we have been on such a tight budget for the first two years of marriage we just never got into the habit. SO – we bought and roasted our very own chicken (actually Josh did it and I made ‘helpful’ comments) – our very own growth chart moment!!

Josh was out watching rugby the day that I cooked and, because we had already frozen our chicken before we roasted it I knew that I wouldn’t be able to reheat the pie once it had been cooked, so I told Josh to bring back some men from the rugby to help us eat it.

There is something very satisfying about feeding blokes who don’t feed themselves. These just-out-of –uni-still-eating-pasta-men tend to go into raptures about your food in ways that other people don’t. Very satisfying!
After we had eaten the pie (and had trifle for pudding) the boys took me out to try and teach me to play snooker.
Lets just say – I think they enjoyed my food more than I enjoyed their entertainment!!

SO, in short – go and check out the recipe for Chicken Pot Pie because it is super easy and very very very very yummy.

Over and out.

(And one more!) Introducing Camille

15 Aug

Surprise! I’m still on holiday and we have one more surprise special, late entry guest post for today. I am honoured to welcome Camille from Archives of our Lives. I have been following Camille’s blog for a while and am totally hooked. You should definitely go over and check it out. Anyway, here’s Camille (normal blogging will resume when I decide to come back to reality)

When My Parents Told Me I Could be Anything, I Decided I’d Like to be British..


Hi!  My name is Camille.  I write regularly over at Archives of Our Lives, and I’ll be running amok {though some would call it “guest posting”} here at Dreaming of the Country today.  I am both flattered and terrified to write on this blog—flattered, because I have a deep respect for Rachel and most everything British; terrified, because I worry that I’ll come off as just another bumbling American idiot who eats too many hamburgers and has no respect for cross-cultural boundaries.  {In my defense, while I am a bumbling idiot, I nevertheless do try to respect my boundaries.  God save the queen!  [Wait—was that disrespectful?  See what I mean?  I never know…]}

It’s true, though: I am fascinated with England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.  I’ve been to England twice, Scotland once, and dream of the day I can see Ireland and Wales.  When I was a little girl {or should I say, “wee lass”}, my favourite movies were “Secret Garden” and “A Little Princess.”  Later, I became obsessed with Pride and Prejudice, and everything else Jane Austen wrote.  My fondest desire in life was to be sent away to England for boarding school.  [This was very disappointing to my parents, who tried to make me feel guilty about my dream: “Don’t you want to live at home with your family?  Wouldn’t you miss us?  What about Christmas—wouldn’t you be sad to live in England over Christmas?  You wouldn’t get your presents!” I was not to be deterred, though—I knew my calling in life was to be British.  It was all I really wanted.  {I suppose I’ve never been very sentimental.}]

The summer after I graduated from high school, I was at last able to take a trip to the Motherland.

I was in heaven.

camille 2(Here’s a snapshot of my scrapbook, which I completed fervently upon returning home from my holiday.  I’m nothing if not passionate about my travels.)

I spent three solid weeks there, trekking o’er hill and dale to see every sight I could.  I tried to see it all—London, Bath, the Lake District; Stonehenge, Pemberly, and castles galore.  I made notes of quirky British phrases, like “wheelie bins” {garbage cans}, “wee tinkle” {quick phone call}, and “I take exception to that” {that offends me}.  I packed way too much, of course—but it was my first international trip, and I had no idea what to expect.  I prepared for everything…

 camille 3

everything except a broken camera.  I spent three weeks taking hundreds of photographs that never saw the light of day.  (This was before digital cameras were as popular, mind you; I wasted at least ten rolls of film, with very little to show for it.)  When I got home and developed the film, I was crushed.  Each and every photo had a giant black blob right in the middle of it. Can you imagine?  It was a trip of a lifetime, and I had only ten or so salvageable pictures to remember it?  Pathetic.

Luckily for me, I have been a writing aficionado from a very young age.  At the end of each day of my trip, I spent hours documenting the day’s events in my journal.  I jotted down every pound and pence I spent and what I spent it on; I wrote down names of cities, towns, and villages to remember; and by the time I got to London (the last leg of my trip), I started writing down things I’d learned while “living” in England.

My faithful journal keeping was the only thing that saved the memories of my first trip across the Atlantic; I’ll be forever grateful for paying myself such an enormous favour.

Here are a few of my life lessons, from the eyes of a 17 year-old girl:

Day 1: The farther you get from London, the nicer the locals are.

Day 2: Don’t spend too much money in one place—it’s depressing later.

Day 5: BLACK PUDDING IS MADE OF DRIED PIGS’ BLOOD!!!  But it actually tastes pretty good.

Day 7: When travelling, one should always pack as lightly as one can.  Seriously.

Day 9: I can make friends with people if I really have to.

Day 12: Buying food at international grocery stores is addictive.  [Marks and Spencers, anyone?]

Day 15: The British Lord Nelson defeated the French once and for all in 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar [why I cared to remember this, I’ll never know…].

Day 16: I can miss my family and still be independent.

The trip taught me a lot about life, people, and—most unexpectedly—myself.  I firmly believe that traveling is the best education a girl can give herself—far better than any college degree.  There are just some things that can only be learned from life experiences…

…college never taught me to double-check my camera before a three-week vacation.  May you never have to learn that lesson the way I did.

Introducing Thomas

14 Aug

My last guest blogger of this week is Thomas from The Week that Was. I met Thomas at University. Unfourtunatley he has left Aberystwyth now, so blogging has made it easier for us to keep up with each others goings-on. Thomas is lovely and his blog is great, especially as he keeps me on my toes challenging me with his campaigning efforts for various charities. Go and check it out!

If you’re anything like me, you would have checked your blog feeds/roll/subscriptions (however you actually check your blogs) and became excited when you saw that Rachel has updated her blog. Sorry to disappoint, but she hasn’t. Instead, Thomas of The Week that Was has, so you’ll have to make do with him I’m afraid.

When I was asked to be the guest blogger I instantly said yes, and then the realisation dawned. I’d have to write something. And it’d have to be good. Suddenly the art of blogging, because let’s face it, it is an art, was suddenly foreign. I’m quite happy drawing my childlike pictures (to run with the art metaphor) and admiring the Vincent Van Goghs of the blogging world, but then to be commissioned to actually create something good is a tad bit scary.

But what to write about? Lasagne recipes? No, I cheat with sauces in a jar. Churches? No, stuffchristianslike.blogspot.com does it too well already. Blogs? A bit too meta, and Rachel’s done it before. Jobs? Ah, I have a few funny anecdotes about them.

Recently I’ve been job hunting. I already have a job, as a youth worker, but that’s only for 12 hours a week. So I need to something else with my time, and I don’t fancy taking up knitting. One place was the Daily Echo jobsite. The Daily Echo, for international readers (i.e. Northerners/ Welsh and Americans), is a Pulitzer Prize winning local newspaper. I entered my details. Part-time, please. Within 10 miles of Southampton, please. And the first five were full time posts in Canada. Now, there is a small village in the New Forest called Canada, but I don’t think they have much need for a refrigeration/air-conditioning mechanic. The requirement that the applicants must be passport holders makes me dubious as well. Another job listed was a receptionist, and it quite clearly stated that the salary was £7.50. Okay pay? Not really. £7.50 per annum. Refreshments are provided though, the advert cheerfully insisted.

I’ve found some possible jobs to apply for but the all leave me with multiple dilemmas. You’ll have to read my blog for that though…

Introducing Keith

13 Aug

I am pleased to welcome a very special guest to Dreaming of the Country today.

Meet Keith

Funny Face Keith

Keith is my big brother and that’s why I can get away with posting pictures like this of him. It’s a little sister’s prerogative to be annoying after all.

Keith is a great brother, and he’s also a great pastor of a church in North London. Josh and I were so pleased that Keith agreed to conduct our wedding for us, and he delivered one of the best wedding sermons I have ever heard. I’m not just saying that because I’m biased (or because it included eating KFC in the middle of a wedding service), but because I can still remember every point clearly, and all the advice was great.

Anyway…over to Keith…

I guess we all judge success differently: some of us are much harder on ourselves than others, some have greater aims than others. But in the blogging world how do you know ‘you’ve arrived’? I reckon it’s when you’re invited to write a guest entry on your little sisters blog. If you follow Rachel’s blog closely you will no doubt be aware that there is quite a long list of things that she has promised to blog on at some point – but never seems to get round to it. So when a recent entry had a reference to the sermon I gave at their wedding, with the promise of a future blog on the topic – I thought I’d get in there first. This fast food guide to marriage can be read alongside Mrs. M’s Marriage Tips.

 Keith eating KFC

1) Fish and Chips – Feelings and Choices: Love is a choice and not just a feeling. Love means that I will choose to act a certain way even if I don’t feel like it.

2) Burger King – Bedtime Kiss: There is a verse in the Bible that says we should not let the sun go down while we’re still angry. In a marriage it is important to say sorry, and to put things right quickly – certainly by bedtime at the latest. Going to bed with your relationship right is more important than winning the argument.

3) Pizza Hut – Practical Help: Marriage is a partnership in which both partners must play their part – and this doesn’t involve watching TV while your partner does all the cooking, cleaning and ironing!

4) KFC – Kindness, Forgiveness, Compassion: Be Kind – may seem an obvious piece of advice but how often when we open our mouths do we forget? When Jesus had compassion it led to action, and when we see each other in need it should spur us to action. A marriage (or any other relationship) without forgiveness is never going to work, because we all make mistakes and we need to be ready to forgive and to be forgiven.

Well – Rach and Josh – congratulations on 2 years. Good to know that after more than 17544 hours you remember something I said. Thanks for inviting me to write, and if anyone is interested, drop in and feed the fish at www.milkandnosugar.blogspot.com

Introducing Chloe

12 Aug

A big welcome to my second guest blogger this week – Chloe from My Happy Ending. I’ll let her introduce herself properly, but just to say that Chole and I have been ‘blogging buddies’ for a while now, and she’s great! You should go and check out her blog NOW! (Well after reading this post of course).

Hello! This is not Rachel… My name (or at least my blog pseudonym) is Chloe. Rachel asked me to write a guest post for Dreaming of the Country, so here I am. When she e-mailed me and asked to write for her blog, at first I was excited and answered YES. Of course! I love her blog and love writing… so why not?

But then I realized it wasn’t as easy as I thought… At least not for me. Questions started to come up. Questions like: What’s the topic? What do I write about? What if I write about this? No, too boring. And about this? No, this is lethal… Hum. What if I made mistakes? What if people don’t like my guest post? What would she like I write about? No idea.

Ooh, stress, stress, stress. Questions, questions, questions.

Anyway. The day has come and I don’t have any good post. Sorry!

But I’ll try to write one. I promise.

So, first I think I should introduce myself properly, don’t you think?

*Cough, cough* Hi everyone!! I’m Chloe, from… (Surprise!!!) SPAIN. Everyone thinks Spain is a beautiful country: sun, beach, holidays… But the truth is: IT IS!! Except for holidays… I’ve not been on holidays for two years! This is my first summer holiday in two years… (sob, sniff, hiccup, sob, sniff, hiccup…) Too sad.

Okay, I said I’m from Spain. Why am I writing in English? My mother tongue is Spanish, but I love English, so I try to write in English whenever possible. So you may find some mistakes… Sorry!! I do my best!

I found Rachel’s blog some months ago, and I’ve been reading it ever since. Humm… I don’t remember how I found it… (maybe I’m a terrible gossip and enjoy running from one blog to another in order to know a little bit about other people’s lives… or maybe I was bored and started to look for something good to read on the internet and wanted to know A LITTLE BIT ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES…) In conclusion: Maybe (but just MAYBE) I’m a terrible gossip.

Want to know more about me? Okay…I write for my own blog, My Happy Ending. I write about Jimmy (my boyfriend), our relationship, my ups and downs, life in general, and my cute pet, Stitch… Oh Stitch. He is a super pet! Do you want to know what kind of animal he is? Well… he is… (Surprise!!!) a FERRET! Yep, a ferret. Not a dog, nor a cat, nor a hamster. A ferret. Why? Don’t know. I like ferrets. 🙂 As simple as that (No, he doesn’t stink!! He’s not a skunk!)

As I said before, I don’t remember how I found Rachel’s blog, but it was probably while I was reading Confessions of a Young Married Couple (I say “probably” because I was reading that blog all the time, and thanks to all the comments I found there, I could meet great blogs like this and great people like Rachel). And once I found it, I was hooked! I loved her honesty and sincerity. AND HER PICTURES! I think Rachel is a great photographer. Love Love LOVE them!

I mean, look at them!

Ox-Eyed Daisy


I love how natural she is about anything.


And really LOVE her (*cough*love*cough*) story. Yes I confess: I’m an incurable romantic!!! She’s living my dream!!


(My dream is to get a job, buy a house and marry the love of my life, Jimmy.Right now, I’m unemployed, don’t own a house, and am not married to Jimmy… Unfortunately. Not yet. Great!! I’m a disaster. The only goal I’ve reached is a college degree in Translation and Interpreting. That’s all. Meanwhile, I’m earning some money working as a private English, French or Spanish teacher at home.)

So when I found her blog, I had to write a comment and introduce myself! And then she found my blog, and that’s how we met! 🙂 (not in person… obviously!! She lives in UK and I live in Spain… And fortunately, we haven’t met in person… because then she would realize how uncool I am…)

So if you see some comments written by someone called Chloe, you already know who Chloe is. That strange Spanish girl who writes in English, has a ferret and is waiting to share her life with her boyfriend. And with her readers!!

Introducing Jerry

11 Aug

Welcome to my first guest bloggers of the week! I would like to introduce my good friend Jerry (from jerryhcooke fame), and his girlfriend Fawn.

Jerry is one of the reasons that all of you have to put up with me happy snapping almost everything. We went through school together and I spent many happy hours stealing his camera equipment and going and taking photos of nature, before actually deciding to buy my own. Pretty much all the equipment I have bought has been vetted by Jerry first!

Anyway, Jerry is a vlogger rather than a blogger and has a great youtube channel here. He also took some AMAZING pictures of our wedding which you can view on his flickr page here.

He lives in St Ives, which is probably in one of the most beautiful places on earth (although don’t let Josh hear me say Cornwall is beautiful!).

Enough of my waffling…enjoy!


28 Jul

I’ve been a bit remiss about updating my blogroll lately, but why not check out some of the new links that I have added today…

Domestic Goddess in Training
A Chronicle of my world travels
My random little thoughts
A Mid-Westerner in Mid Wales