Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside #MySundayPhoto

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Whilst I was quite happy lazing around on the settee yesterday after a really busy morning at work at the library, it seemed such a shame when the sun was out and the sky was blue. Living in this part of the country we’re really lucky as the nearest beach is less than half an hour away in the car. We decided on a walk along the front in Seaton and were rewarded by a lovely view of the sun setting behind the cliffs. Far nicer than an afternoon with our feet up doing nothing!

 

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A-Z Foodie Challenge – G is for Goat’s Cheese

Apologies that it’s been a while – life don’t half get in the way of fun!

“G” was indeed for Goat’s Cheese and, as she was first off the mark, I’m starting with Frances and her gorgeous looking creation which she says is a firm family favourite. It has crumbled hard goats cheese, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, spinach, mushrooms and cream all mixed together between layers of filo pastry. Looks delicious doesn’t it?

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Makes my mouth water just looking at it!

As I’m usually a firm follower of recipes and patterns and don’t end up making a lot using my own brainpower (shame on me!) I thought I’d try something different this time. Having never used goat’s cheese before I was at a bit of a loss, but decided that it sounded like it would go very well with bacon (easy guess work really as most things do!). I placed the sliced up goat’s cheese between 2 layers of back bacon and wrapped it in shortcrust pastry, popped it in the oven for 20 minutes with fingers firmly crossed that the cheese wouldn’t burst out from its casing. I have to say I was pretty pleased with the results. I ate my version hot straight away (well why wouldn’t you?!) and Kev has one cold in his packed lunch today so no doubt I’ll hear how that went later on (even more finger crossing!).

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As for Linda…..she’s eaten her goat’s cheese!! And why not?! Read her whole “confession” on her blog.

Next month we have hazelnuts to experiment with…..

 

 

Please Titivate My Wreath!

When we visited, nan asked me what I was up to craft-wise at the moment and I told her I had an idea for making wreaths for next Christmas and showed her some pictures of them on my iPad. “Oooooh” she said and off she disappears into her amazing “cupboard of all things” and comes back with her Christmas wreath. “Can you do anything with this?” she said, “A bit of titivating or brightening up?” (thank goodness it was titvating and not pimping or I’d have been really worried!).

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To be honest it didn’t really need a lot doing to it,did it? It was a bit bent out of shape but, before you could say “holly berries”, it was in the back of the car and coming down to Devon with us.

Knowing mum and dad were going back up to check on nan mid-January I didn’t have a lot of time to do much but decided, after a bit of bending and tweaking, that a bit of glittery Stick2015-01-21les every now and then would add sparkle when the sun (hopefully!) catches them.

After that I added a red ribbon to the top (as a means to hanging the wreath) which had been taken from a panatone we’d been given at work (waste not, want not!) and our lovely green sparkly “Merry Christmas” sign, which is one of my favourite ornaments each year – but then this is for nan isn’t it?!  A couple of robins nestling amongst the pine needles and it was all ready for the trip back up to the Midlands. I managed to buy a wreath protector case from Betterware online so, hopefully, it will get there in one piece!

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A Cosy New Year – Hurray!

Admittedly we haven’t done as much to the “new” house as we would have wished but, as with our old house, it will all come in it’s own good time. Having said that, the place is considerably nicer than it was when we moved in (thankfully!) and is feeling truly like home.

This January we’ve hit the sales! Since we decorated the front room, got rid of the carpet and fireplace it’s been feeling as if it’s been missing a focal point so we thought we’d put things right with a “pretend” fire. I know it’s not as good as the real thing and we did consider re-opening the chimney and putting in a wood burning stove, but I had such a bad reaction to the one in the place we stayed in Cornwall a few years back that it wasn’t worth the risk of paying of paying out so much money and finding we (or I) didn’t get on with it. We decided we definitely needed a rug too as the large space in the middle of the room needed “pulling together”.

With that in mind we pondered around the shops, looked at catalogues and online and have ended up transforming from this when we moved in (sorry the telly’s on!) …..

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To this… IMG_4699

 

 

 

 

And, then as of this year, to this….

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Even though we haven’t actually had the fire switched on, other than the flame effect and I know it’s psychological, evenings feel so much more toasty now!

 

Are Good Deeds A Good Idea?!

Nan started this one off….. When we visited her last week she was STILL talking about the time, two Christmases ago now, when she went shopping in her local shop to buy biscuits for her carers. The lady who was helping her reach them down from the shelf took the biscuits and other things she’d picked up to the counter while she picked up one final item. When nan got to the counter and got her purse out to pay she was told that she owed nothing as the man in the queue before her had paid for all of her shopping as his good deed of the day.

As this event, given she’s still talking about it 2 years later, obviously meant so much to nan, I thought perhaps it would be a good idea to try and do as a kind of new year’s resolution?

I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions as a whole. I’ve Googled some lovely definitions of them though –

“A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement or something slightly nice, such as opening doors for people beginning from New Year’s Day.” (Ahhh, can you imagine spending the whole year hanging out by doors in the hope you can open them for someone?! Slightly nice!)

or

a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year: “Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?” “Yes, I’m going to eat more healthily and give up smoking.

If you ask me these should, on the whole, be redefined as a brilliant idea at the time (especially if you’ve had a new year’s bevvie or two) that might well set you up for a fall either sooner or later and make you feel worse about yourself and/or fatter/unfitter/smoke-ier when you comfort eat/sit watching tv/smoke to get over your remorse! (All power to those who do make resolutions and manage to stick to them though!)

Anyway, I decided that I would try doing a good deed every day.

How long do you think I lasted?

Well, someone took the mickey on day 5 which made me feel exceptionally bad tempered. However, that instance might have been classed more as a favour rather than as a good deed as I was specifically asked to do it, rather than finding something nice to do and doing it off my own back. So really it wasn’t my fault when a further 4 caveats were added to the favour after I’d agreed to do it, leaving me feeling pretty put upon and generally growly rather than light, fluffy and full of favourfulfillingfluffiness (yes, that is a thing).

However, that grumpiness carried on to yesterday when my good deed was “Didn’t have a hissy fit when the ignorant man in the queue at the bank pushed in front of me even though he and the cashier knew I was there first and despite the fact that I was trying to get to work on time when he was obviously just dossing around and had nothing better to do than stand behind me in the queue or, as it happened, blatantly push in front of me completely underminining the purpose of having a queue “. It’s not going so well is it?! It’s just as well I was such a rubbish Brownie as doing a good deed every day at the age of under 10 years old may just have set me up for a lifetime of therapy!

Then there are the people who don’t actually want you to do a good deed for them. A few years ago now I was in a local shop and the lady in front of me was 2p short for her shopping. The guy behind the counter was obviously not going to help her, just sitting there staring at her and she was getting flustered and trying to find an item to return to the shelf, so I stepped in and handed over the 2p, as I’m sure most of us would. She was grateful, he was very grunty and I felt pleased I could help. However, next time I went back there he handed 2p over to me as the lady had gone back and given him the money to give back to me. Perhaps it was just her very good manners that made her do it, but it left me feeling a little sad that she felt the need to do it.

One of my friends posted the following on Facebook recently, and I’ve seen it posted before on other peoples pages in the past too:-

“To start this year off in a loving way I’m participating in this Pay-It-Forward initiative: The first five people who comment on this status with “I’m in”, will receive a surprise from me at some point in this calendar year – anything from a book, a ticket, a visit, something home grown or made, a postcard, absolutely any surprise! There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy. …These five people must make the same offer in their FB status and distribute their own joy. Simply copy this text onto your profile, so we can form a web of connection and kindness. Let’s do more nice and loving things for each other in 2015,without any reason other than to make each other smile and to show that we think of each other. Here’s to a more enjoyable, more friendly and love filled year.”

It’s a really lovely idea and I wish I’d got there within the first 5 people to have a go…which left me wondering how you’d feel if the first 5 people weren’t those that you’d have chosen if you’d wanted to do nice things for 5 people? Or what if these people went back on their word and didn’t make the same offer on their own page? The Pay It Forward idea is great though – did you see the film about it?

So, rather than have a complete nervous breakdown before the third week of the year by trying to do good deeds, I’d like to think that I’m the kind of person who would do a good deed anyhow if it needed doing (ie picking up the woman out of the road outside the pub on 4th January when lots of other people were walking straight past, assuming I guess that she had been drinking when in fact she’d turned her ankle stepping in a pothole) or when I felt like doing something nice for someone. Hopefully that way I’ll be making some people out there happier this year, making myself feel a bit better at the same time and not risking my health by feeling obliged to go into my daughter’s room to tidy it as I can’t think of anything else good deed-y to do today! Although, perhaps the advice I’m giving you in the photo below could be my classed as my good deed of the day?!

 

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Hoot-at-nanny! #MySundayPhoto

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Happy New Year!

Having seen in 2015 watching Jools’ wonderful Hootenanny, we’ve also been up to the Midlands to Hoot At Nanny…..although it wasn’t actually necessary this time because, due to a vehicle fire holding us up on the M5, she was looking out of the window waiting for us to arrive!

Unfortunately we don’t get up to see nan as much as we’d like to, so we really have to make the most of the time we have up there when we do get to go. I have to say that packing a bag to keep a lady in her 80’s and a teenager amused for a few hours is more challenging than travelling with a baby or toddler at times! Mum had given me strict instructions NOT to take my crochet with me. I’m “learning” how to do it, with a lot of struggling, and mum said that nan was past being able to do it so not to bother her with it. Sadly I “forgot” these instructions and took it anyway, just to give her a laugh at my feeble attempts and a chuckle at the Kids Learning the Crochet book that Linda had borrowed from the library for me. However, the second I took it out of my bag nan had it away and was adding to the end of it and then, being a very tough taskmaster, undid most of what I had already done, to what she called a nice section. Was too afraid to tell her that this “nice section” had been the part that Linda had crocheted for me when my 10 original stitches turned into 6! So 10 out of 10 from nan for Linda!! I was told that I should go back to chain stitch and not try running before I could walk….perhaps mum was right and I should have left it at home after all!!

Much of the rest of the time was spent going through crafty bits that my mother-in-law had bought me for Christmas (brilliant present – a little Aladdin’s cave of goodies in a bag!) and nan’s own box of crafts so that she could make a new year’s card for my parents. She’s not able to go to the shops any more and felt bad that she had received cards and couldn’t send any. Holly was a whiz at helping with this and even Kev lent a hand with designing the inside of the card – a real joint effort! The photo is of nan sealing up the card. Such a shame it didn’t turn out better but it was quite dimpsy by the time we finished! By the way, that’s my iPad on nan’s lap….she used it to lean on to write the card and then tried to fit the pen into the “handy little holder” on the front….I think I’ll manage to get the camera lens clean again!!!

Hope that everyone has a wonderful year in 2015, full of fun and adventures that I can read about! I’m so glad that we’ve been up to see nan as the days we do manage to spend with her stay in our collective memories as fun times.

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