Month: February 2011

Sea, sand and sunshine

It’s half term. I did a brave thing today and took my seven year old niece to the seaside. An hour and a half journey to get there. I picked Filey for this first momentous trip. A smaller town and seaside resort on the east coast.

I had a flask of coffee – a must for trips to beaches.

Hats, gloves, scarves and waterproofs – a must for trips to beaches in the UK.

The big camera – a must for aunts going to beaches with nieces.

I knew that taking the big (canon 550DSLR) camera was a mistake. First of all I don’t really know what I’m doing with it. And second my subjects get really fed up with me messing about with all the settings trying to get a decent shot.

(As reference for myself in an attempt to learn I’m putting the details of the photo here too. Shutter speed 1/500 sec, aperture f6.3. ISO which was set on automatic was 100.)

So glad her Mother put those wellies in the bag!

I expected her to be bored and that I’d struggle to keep her happy and I was right! Although to be honest she was very good. Just a bit bored by the whole 20 minutes we spent on the beach.

(Settings – Shutter speed 1/800 sec, aperture f5.)

It was a lovely day, the beach wasn’t too busy and hardly any wind. We collected shells for a while and she danced along the edge of the water while I stomped about muttering to myself about my lack of photography skills. Because the sun was bright I had trouble guaging by looking at the tiny screen whether or not I had the right exposure etc on the pictures I’d taken. So I swung the dials around hoping for the best.

We went for lolly’s after that.


(Settings – Shutter speed 1/800 sec, aperture f22, auto ISO 2500)

And I pulled that damn camera out again hoping to get a few more shots. H was intrigued by the pitch and put golf course and standing up on the railings. Making me take a shot of her half hanging through the rails just to show Nana – as if my Mother trusts me to look after her as it is………

We also spotted a metal dectectorist sweeping the machine along the rock pools just under the pavement. I wonder what he was looking for?

We made it to around two hours actually at the seaside which on reflection I was pleased with. This was the first time we’d spent as much time as that together on our own. A good day and a few half decent pictures.

London mini book

Last July Gav and I went to London for the weekend. I planned to make a mini scrapbook of the trip and collected lots of memorabilia and ephemera to go into the book.

One of the pieces I loved the most was the map from the British Museum.

It was black and white, simple and stylish and had my favourite, a Lewes chessmen figure, on the front of the map.

The only problem was that it was a little too big to fit into the size of book I decided to make. Then I had a brainwave. Why not use the map to cover the back page of the mini book? Oh! I was pleased with myself for thinking of that one, oh yes I was.

I, being my father’s daughter, am a little bit stingy and hate the thought of buying minibook covers when I have lots of cardboard lying about from packaging and stuff. So I usually construct the covers of my minibooks from saved cardboard packaging. 

I covered the front with Basic Grey Archaic, Primitive paper and letters from a very old sheet of Tim Holtz card stock and then set about covering the back of the book with my lovely British Museum map.


I try to make the corners meet by mitreing them. Hmmm… almost worked.

Here are the front and back covers. You can see that I covered up the brown cardboard with more of the map turned on its side for vareity.

I printed the titles on photo paper and made two pocket’s for the other pieces of memorabilia like tube and theatre tickets.


The small photographs I printed at home and adhered in blocks with a margin between each one. For the tabs I punched two cardstock circles from matching orange Bazill card and sandwiched them between the page to make the tabs. The journalling was printed on kraft cardstock.    


I just adore this idea of moulding the memorabilia right into the fabric of the scrapbook. I love that it was the actual map we used as we wandered around that day with creases and folds from being kept in my pocket.

I’ll definately use this idea on other books in the future.

Four down, twenty two to go

I have read my first four books of the year. If I keep this up I’ll reach my target in no time.

Of course I don’t have a job so I can read all day. Not that I would I’m far too busy cleaning….

Anyway, I reached for a comforting, possibly the wrong word choice there, book for my first of the year. Oh no I hear you cry. Oh yes. The latest Sookie Stackhouse – Charlaine Harris – Dead in the Family.

Like all of her books in this series – I haven’t read the other series she writes – this is an enjoyable, fun romp about in the sometimes strange, sometimes normal world of Bon Temps. It has a darker side like most vampire\demon stories but Ms Harris combines the outrageous goings on well with Sookie’s normal part of life and is just a great read. I love Sookie and her get on with it in the face of certain doom attitude. I also like Eric. Charlaine certainly worked her magic on me there I thought I’d always like Bill better.

I also watch the True Blood T.V show but really the two are soooooo different. I sit cringing at the T.V sometimes and wondering how an author can let her story world get mangled up so much. And the amount of sex and violence are often a bit much for me.

I also read  The Understudy by David Nicholls. At the other end of the literary scale this was the story of Stephen McQueen would be actor who mostly got cast as corpses in T.V police dramas.

This was a recommendation but now I can’t remember where I read about it!

It was also very enjoyable and funny. The cover said it was laugh out loud and indeed I did. I thought it was similar to a Tony Parsons read. I guess I do tend to veer towards women writers and it’s good to look at romance from a mans perspective now and then. 


My third book was City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. I found this through the ‘Goodreads’ web site. It’s a US site and has a handy feature where by you can look at a book you like and it will list similar genres themes etc. City of Bones came up through putting Twilight as the book I liked. I should have guessed that it would be a teen read from that starting point but it was another enjoyable story. Not so much vampires as demons in general and it is the first of a series of (so far) four books.

A tale about Clary a fifteen year old living in New York. She discovers a whole other world living right along side her chock full of demons which she begins to see, even though she shouldn’t be able to. Throw in forbidden love and there you have it.  

The fourth book was Down to Earth by Melanie Rose. It caught my attention at the checkout in the supermarket. Damn. You aren’t supposed to fall for those tricks are you? Or maybe it was because I have the same name as the author. Whatever the reason at £2 it ended up on the conveyor belt and on the pile to read.

I feel a bit harsh saying that all I can really say about it was that ‘it read’. I was okay but I wouldn’t recommend it. To be honest it got to the point where I was having trouble buying the unfortunate circumstances the protagonist found herself in. From the blurb I knew it wasn’t a simple romance since the heroine vanished of the face of the earth for 6 years then suddenly reappeared but it ended up being more normal than perhaps I was hoping.

So that is four done and dusted. Onwards to number five.

First day diet blues

Here I am again. I could not begin to count the number times I’ve started a diet in my adult life. By my age I really should have either got a grip and stopped being a pig or just accepted that I love food and eat too much. But I can’t do either of those things so here I am once more.

For the past fifteen years I have done Weight Watchers on my own and occasionally I joined a meeting. I like the points system. Don’t know about these new points plus things I stick to my old books where an apple is 1pt etc. This time around we are doing a five week stretch in an attempt to loose a few pounds before Gavs week off work. The idea being we loose a few so we can put them back on. Yes, I know that’s not the idea, is very unhealthy yadda yadda, but it is what we do and there is no way around it.

It got to about 4pm today and my belly was a rumbling and then I ate dinner which was my stand by Pasta Bake. Very easy and delicious courgette and red peppers added to a basic tomato sauce add a few olives and mix the sauce into the pasta. Sprinkle with grated cheddar – how much depends on if you are on a diet or not. I used 45g for this whole dish. And bake for about 20 minutes at 200c -fan oven.  


But I was still hungry and over on my points, when it dawned on me. You can’t really eat that much when on a diet. Why oh why can’t I just control myself and not put it all back on again?

On the bright side it’s only five weeks and I know from experience that I get motivated for a while which makes it easier and of course the old belly shrinks so you get fuller faster – yay.

Oh! such joys to look forward to.

Stale bread?

No problem.

Make bread and Butter Pudding.

Take said bread 6 slices, enough butter to butter the bread and the dish, 3 eggs, 50g currants, 25g candied peel, 50g caster sugar, 100ml milk, 50ml cream, zest of half a lemon and nutmeg to grate.

Butter the slices of bread and arrange half of them in the bottom of the dish. I used a 12x6inch Emma Bridgewater baking dish.

Sprinkle over the peel and half the currants and half the zest. Arrange the rest of the bread on top with the currants and the final zest.

Beat the eggs and add the mild and cream mixing well. The add the sugar and stir. Pour over the bread.

Take your time, you want to evenly distribute the egg mix and soak all the bread.

Grate over the nutmeg and bake at 180C fan for 30-40 minutes. You want a nice and crunchy top. Voila! Recipe from Delia Smith’s Compete Cookery Course.