Just being ME

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happy halloween ...

For Lynda from Hedgerow Hollow, a picture of my ceramic pumpkin and for Michele from Cowboys & Custard a glimpse of some of my treasured Cornishware!


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just like mum used to make four ...

I could eat Yorkshire Pudding until the cows come home, and J loves it too, Toad in the Hole is one of our favourite meals and so easy to make.

First brown off a pack of good quality chipolatas in a non-stick roasting dish in the oven, then add a little extra oil and heat until really hot (about 200 degrees c) and then add the batter mix. I always make the batter mix a few hours earlier to give it a chance to stand, this is a tip that has been passed down through the family. The batter is made by placing 4oz plain flour into a mixing bowl and then stirring in half a pint of semi-skimmed milk, once mixed together, beat in two large eggs and a pinch of salt, I find doing it this way I get no lumps in my batter and mixing by hand is sufficient.

I do follow recipe ingredients quite carefully, but I always estimate the times my recipes take to cook, temperatures vary and only you know the ferocity of your oven but I cook mine at about 180 degrees c until the batter is cooked through and golden brown.

We just have ours with a little extra gravy and baked beans, you really do not need anything else, it is very filling!

This is for Sara @ Farming Friends who recently wrote about British Sausage Week, she too likes Toad in the Hole, a good job really as she is from Yorkshire!



My presents

My cards

... families are like fudge, mostly sweet with a few nuts!

... a true friend stabs you in the front!

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my birthday ...

For my oldest friend Fiona who I know regularly looks into my blog, the posts Evening Out, Birthday Weekend and Birthday are for you, so that you can catch up on birthday events!

I promise today's post will be the last you hear on the subject of the B word, I just wanted to thank everyone for their lovely cards and to show them off, before they go into the blue box to be recycled. I always leave my cards up on show for at least a fortnight and don't care if dust settles around them, it is a very good excuse not to do the housework as thoroughly as I usually do.

Thanks to my family who gave me money, which always comes in handy doesn't it, and to Steve and Stella for the lovely floral shopper by Two's Company Inc, Laura for the turtle (say no to plastic) bag with information on how to adopt a turtle/Matthew Rice seed tin (all beautifully wrapped), Irene my friend from work who bought me books on Australia (for our planned trip in the near future) and a lovely latte mug which has come to very good use over the weekend, J's mum for the lovely illuminated flowers and of course thanks to my best friend of all J who bought me a beautiful bracelet. No more mention until next year!

This evening we walked down to the beach front to see the annual firework display put on by the local Lions Club, admission is free and the fireworks are great. No photos as I wanted to concentrate on the fireworks and not on taking the photos!


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birthday weekend ...

Well where do I start, I had such a great weekend.

On Saturday afternoon J and I went into Worthing to search for a birthday present, I had asked for a silver bracelet with black stones and it didn’t take long before we discovered one in Zoo Jewellers, who specialise in silver jewellery, it wasn’t expensive but pretty much what I had envisaged finding, so I am a very happy bunny! Before coming home we had a coffee in Macaris on the seafront, a family run business going back decades, I remember being taken there as a kid in the 1970s by my granny and grandad. J wanted us to have a meal out together in the evening so we decided to walk down to our local sit down Chinese. Prawn crackers, salt & chilli prawns and ribs for starters, followed by beef in black pepper sauce and a Thai chilli duck dish, boiled and egg-fried rice. You won’t believe that I am on a healthy eating campaign but promise to get back on the straight and narrow during the week, luckily we were walking home to burn off just an iota of the calories.

This was a great scene, Ben Stiller's character at an ex-girlfriends wedding sitting on the 'singles' table!

On Sunday the weather wasn’t very kind to us, but we decided to hop on the train into Brighton, even though it was tipping it down with rain, we didn’t let it dampen our spirits and after a brisk walk down from the station we had a quick look around the shops before going on to the Odeon cinema, but first visiting Ben & Jerry’s in the foyer where we both had delicious waffle and ice-cream, and then in to the matinee to see The Heartbreak Kid with Ben Stiller, we did enjoy the film and laughed many times throughout, but both came to the conclusion that no other Ben Stiller film could quite top Meet The Fockers!

Did you know that you can buy Ben & Jerry's Waffle Cone flavour room spray? zero calories. I was reading an article, apparently one of their waffle cones with a single scoop of ice-cream has as much saturated fat as a portion of ribs, can you believe that, better never have another one ever again!


evening out ...

I had a good catch up with friends this evening, Fiona, Helene, Jackie C, Jackie R and Valerie, we meet up every so often and have done for many years, usually to celebrate our birthdays.

I booked for us to go to Meze-Meze, a Greek restaurant close to where I live, it only opened recently and has been furbished in a very modern, contemporary style. None of us had eaten there before so we didn’t really know what to expect, I think it matched all our expectations. We all decided not to have a starter and headed straight for the main meals listed on the menu, examples being Keftedes (crispy beef and mint meatballs), Moussaka (mince, aubergine, courgette, potato, covered in bechamel sauce), Kleftiko (slow roasted lamb) and Stifado (braised beef in red wine). For desserts included Rizogalo (rice pudding sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with honey), Baklava (filo pastry with nuts and spices topped with honey syrup), Kalobrama (traditional almond cake), followed by coffees, I tried the Greek coffee which I must say is an acquired taste, I wouldn’t have it again, but at least I can say I have tried it. Lovely little Greek biscuits containing nuts and laced with cinnamon came along with the coffees and I took along some mints and Fiona bought some great Halloween cupcakes, and when the bill arrived there was a piece of turkish delight each too, needless to say we were all pretty full by the end of the meal. The evening was rounded off with a verse of Happy Birthday!

Thanks to all for a great evening and for the lovely cards I received.

Fiona, my photos were rubbish, I didn't get the flash right!


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the town of shoreham ...

These are some pictures of Shoreham, taken from the footbridge, which is a short distance from where we live. The weather was so glorious last Sunday that J and I took advantage, downed tools and got on our bikes. Our local councils have recently built a great cycle path along the coast which runs alongside the footpath, so now there is no excuse not to use pedal power. I like Shoreham and in recent months regeneration has been taking place with a large new development of town and riverside houses, the opening of trendy bars and coffee houses, a contemporary florist and gift shops. Shoreham is only a small town but its rising popularity may be due to an overspill from nearby Brighton and Hove as I believe properties are getting harder and harder to find there and the market price is proving too expensive for a lot of buyers.

Before returning home we grabbed a take-away coffee and pastry and cycled back towards the beach were we stopped for a while before getting back to the daily grind.

wear it pink day ...

Breast Cancer Campaign is asking everyone in the UK to wear it pink on Friday 26th October and donate £2 each, so the charity can continue researching the cure for breast cancer.

Wear it pink is the biggest event during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and since its launch the event has raised £6.6 million. This year, with our help the charity are looking forward to the most successful wear it pink ever, so join the pink mania and take part in the original and best pink day.

To take part, don an item of pink of your choice. It can be done discreet or daring as you like. The important thing is to have fun and enjoy yourself on wear it pink day while raising vital funds.

I shall be wearing it pink at work tomorrow, I hope you have something pink you can wear, even if you cannot make a donation, just wear pink, it is a great colour after all!


the new face of cadbury is a gorilla ...

Cadbury's new advertising campaign for Dairy Milk has precious little to do with chocolate but it will get everyone talking. A man in a gorilla suit hammering on a drum kit to Phil Collins' hit 'In The Air Tonight'. You are either going to love it or hate it, I like it and it makes me and J smile, and now that I have discovered it online I won't have to wait to see it on the TV!

Click on the link below to watch it and let me know what you think?



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a lovely mug ...

I am a mug of tea sort of girl, not a cup and saucer one.

What pretty mugs these are, my recent bargain buy from Ponden Mill. I very rarely buy new kitchen china, everything I have bought over the years is still going strong and I am a stickler for getting wear out of things and will only throw anything away if chipped, but I couldn't resist these for £2.99 for the set of four.

My perfect brew:
Use a good quality teabag.
Teabags must be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Always use freshly drawn boiling water, not water boiled more than once.
Allow the teabag to brew.
Add milk last.

I shall be off now to make myself a nice cuppa in one of my new chintzy mugs, lovely!

Oooh, just opened up one of my kitchen cupboards and there was a house spider looking up at me, it did make me jump, luckily it seemed a bit dozy so I coaxed it into a plastic jug and managed to get it out in the garden, although I have read, that as soon as you put them out it doesn't take them long to find their way back in again!

Why is there more house spiders racing around your skirting boards at this time of year, well it's because they are males looking for a mate, this is fact!


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fruit scones ...

Seeing as we are basking in glorious sunshine at the moment, I have been taking up outdoor pursuits today, but I did have time to bake some fruit scones! They are really easy to do when time is of the essence, just slip down to your local supermarket, look in the freezer cabinet for Aunt Bessies, bring home and bake until golden brown. I know fruit scones are easy to knock up, but these are great for a standby, they are best left to cool down as when warm they are a bit crumbly and tend to fall apart when you butter them. I like them as they don't taste of too much bicarb like a lot of the shop bought ones do.

the power of schmooze award ...

Marie of Wild Rose has very kindly nominated me for this award, I do feel very honoured as I only took up a blog a few months ago. I must admit I was really surprised when I received my first comment (which was from Judith of Everything in the Garden’s Rosy) as you tend to think that no-one will ever discover you, and of course once someone does, it starts the ball rolling and now I have the start of a great circle of friends on both ‘the home is where the heart is’ and ‘this is my patch’. I really enjoy reading other postings, so far from Canada, the USA and of course the UK and thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on mine, please keep looking in as I have so much to add over the coming weeks, but please bear with me as I must keep up with other commitments which are also important to me.

This award is for people 'who effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way'.

My nominations for The Power of Schmooze Award are purely from comments left on ‘the home is where the heart is’, and they are:

Joanna from Higglety Pigglety
Lynn from Gigibird
Stella from Bitter Sweet Sympathy
Noreen and Margaret from The Homely Year
Nicola, Heather, Samantha and Katherine from Four Friends and a Blog

and a special thank you award goes of course to Marie of Wild Rose, this is starting to sound like the Oscars!

Of course I appreciate reading all comments and thank everyone for their interesting thoughts and I look forward to reading more and don’t forget you could be in line for an award in the very near future?

Please see the links in my sidebar to visit friends in blogosphere!


gunwharf quays ...

Today we had a great day out, we travelled down to Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth. I am sure this will be familiar to other couples out there, but today me and J actually spent some time doing something together as a couple, and on a week day! We both have separate hobbies and different places of work, so it sometimes seems we spend more time apart doing our own thing, then we actually spend together.

The two pictures above are of the Spinnaker Tower, we took these when we visited late last year, the 2nd photo is whilst standing over the glass floor looking down.

On the journey down we stopped at McDonalds in Arundel for a latte and then drove on to Portsmouth where we had a good mooch around the shops and the harbour area. We didn't go in and up the Spinnaker Tower this time, as we now want to wait until they have the external lift working (can you believe technology can send a man to the moon but cannot get a lift to work) to get great views when ascending up to the viewing platforms, maybe next time?

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We had a cappuchino each late morning in the Spinnaker Tower cafe and then for a late lunch we had a great set buffet meal in the chinese, The Water Margin, which is great value for money as you can have starters, main meal and desserts all for a set price of £6.90 each, there is a selection of at least 30 dishes, I hasten to add we needed no more food for the rest of the day.


the great storm ...

In the early hours of October 16th 1987, winds peaked at more than 120 mph, killing 18 people, damaging buildings and felling 15 million trees in the south-east of England.

During the night I can remember waking and thinking how rough it was sounding outside but I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams what was really going on. I suppose my first inkling that the weather must have been quite bad was we had no power in the morning, this sounds really stupid now, but I remember panicking because I wasn’t going to be able to wash and dry my hair for work! It wasn’t until I was driving in, along the coast road that I was starting to notice there was something really quite different about the journey that day, there was a lot of debris around, fallen trees, leaning traffic light and lamp posts, boats washed up from the shingle onto the road from the beach and when driving through the town my eye being drawn to one of the popular steak houses of the time which had all of its windows blown out, I remember starting to feel a bit preturbed about what I was seeing and arriving at work feeling quite unerved, not being able to quite comprehend what I had seen. I remember during my lunch hour going around to my mum’s house and both of us going out in the car to have a look at some of the storm damage, we saw many unbelievable sights and we realised then how many people's lives had been changed out of the blue by the verocity of the storm. As a family we were fortunate and suffered no damage whatsoever.

One lovely memory from October 1987 was the birth of my lovely niece Laura who will be twenty on the 19th. I asked Stella her mum about the experience and she reminded me of that fact that when she was waiting for the arrival of Laura in Southlands Hospital, the maternity ward had no windows, they had blown out in the storm (in fact the strongest gust of 100 knots was measured at Shoreham on the Sussex coast, which is where the hospital is situated).

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just like mum used to make three ...

How to make chunky Chicken Casserole
Place chicken pieces in a casserole dish, I just de-skin chicken thighs, for a casserole I prefer using these to breast meat, then add a chopped onion and chunky carrots, meanwhile in approx half a pint of boiling water add two chicken Oxo cubes, add this to the ingredients along with some mixed herbs and lots of black pepper, then cook in oven until chicken is cooked through. I always make my casseroles the previous day as I believe they always taste better the next. To reheat I just place on the hob after reserving some of the stock to use to mix the cornflour with (or if I remember to buy them, I use thickening granules which you can just sprinkle in), bring up to the boil and then add the cornflour mix to thicken, at this stage I add the peas and a homemade dumpling mix and then finish off cooking in the oven. Serve with new potatoes.


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kenwood, streptocarpus and sylvac bunny ...

My mum bought this Kenwood mixer from a car boot sale, it was in good as new condition. My mum became ill and couldn't use it anymore, so she gave it to me, if it is well looked after it will last for ever. I remember my granny had one of the original models in her kitchen back in the 1960s.

The Streptocarpus below originally came from a cutting which my step-dad bought at a jumble sale, the ladies on the stall didn't know what it was, but he did!

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Rain has stopped play at the moment, so I am going great guns with my housework, of course finding some spare moments to take some photos too.

As promised for Joanna at Higglety Pigglety, with whom I have recently been swapping correspondence with, two of the subjects being mixers and plants. I mentioned I may post photos of mine, so here they are.

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... not a good day for bunny rabbits!


Two items from my Poole pottery collection

colours of autumn ...

Many of the blogs I have been looking through just lately have been showing lovely photos of everything Autumn, the majority being of fallen bronzed leaves and lovely copper coloured trees. After work today more jobs to do inside, so alas no time to get outside in the lovely sunshine, but I did have a spare moment to take these photos of my most Autumn inspired knick knacks from around the home.

S Hancock & Sons 'Titian Ware'

The season of the year between summer and winter, strictly lasting from the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice, and considered to be from September to November in the northern hemisphere and from March to May in the southern.


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just like mum used to make two ...

Looks a bit messy drizzling down the sides but I'm in good company, as this is how Nigella likes her fruit crumble to look!

The name Shepherds Pie does not appear to be old, first appearing in the 19th century, the first known mention being in 1885, although the dish itself must be much older.

How to make delicious Shepherds Pie

The first step is to dilute two meat Oxo cubes in a mug of boiling water, then in a saucepan sauté an onion in a little oil until soft, then add the lambs mince (on this occasion I used Welsh Hill lamb mince 'matured for fuller flavour') and fry off, once browned bring off the heat and add a good heaped dessertspoon of flour, this is the thickening agent, then slowly stir in the stock, a good splash of Worcestershire sauce, a squeeze of tomato ketchup and lots of ground black pepper, no salt as this is already in the stock cubes. Place mince into a dish and cover with lots of creamy mashed potato, I fluff mine into peaks so it goes lovely and crispy when baked and then to finish off with lots of ground black pepper. I remember my 'Granny G' used to do a fancy lattice pattern on hers and put little knobs of butter on the top, what do you do?

You may prefer the look of Delias!

Have you heard of Gobble Pie which uses minced turkey?


looks like he's been thinking pink too ...

Bless ...!

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i've been thinking pink today ...

... whilst doing chores, about how many pink items I had around the house, these are just a few of them!


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perfume ...

The modern perfumier has a choice of some 3,000 ingredients, including around 50 completely synthetic chemicals. The average perfume consists of at least 50 of these elements. The elements are grouped into 14 distinctive odour families, which are then split into a further three categories, known as notes. The notes used to create the perfect perfume come from these three categories and are blended with three basic rules in mind:

Head Notes: Head notes are the 'in your face' impact of the perfume and generally create the impression before evaporating within about 15 minutes.

Heart Notes: Heart notes make up the lingering body of the perfume which create the lasting memory and are known to hang around for perhaps three or four hours after the head notes have evaporated.

Base Notes: These provide the under-body of the perfume. They enrich and enhance the other notes, while lingering for a further four to five hours following the evaporation of the heart notes.

The skill of the perfumier is to select and blend these notes to make the beautiful music that becomes the perfume we will all want to buy.

I don't know about you but I am always hard pushed to find a perfume which smells nice on me, especially from the top perfume houses. We travel a fair bit these days but I have got to the stage where I don't bother going into duty free, with some of the aromas I have tested I think I would do better dousing myself with household disinfectant. My favourite perfumes are floral and citrus based and I long to find one which I know I can wear, maybe they should go easy on the head notes and let the heart notes come through a little more, as it is true that perfume does smell better once you have worn it on your person for a while.

I do like a couple of Body Shop ones, although being from the economy end of the market, the scent does disappear after a short while, so constant spraying is a necessity, they are Moonflower which I think has been discontinued, and Citrella which was a limited edition, the original I bought over in Cologne but my last bottle I bought on ebay, although I think it has now been rebranded as Zestini.

Do you have a favourite perfume?


barnaby the singing bear ...

Do you remember Barnaby?

Barnaby the bear was a character created by Olga Pouchine. Originally a french series, the English version, transmitted in 1973 had voices provided by Colin Jeavons, Charles Collingwood, Gwenllian Owen and Percy Edwards. The story tells of Barnaby's life with the circus.

I remember loving this as a kid and was really pleased to discover a snippet taken from the series on You Tube. I can't find many people who actually remember the programme, which I think is really weird as I remember it so well, I have always thought of Barnaby as being so cute.

Click on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyy2lEsuIHk to watch Barnaby singing his famous tune whilst doing numerous circus tricks, rather like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time, so clever!