Month: March 2012

New favourite loaf

The bread maker has been earning its keep nicely over the last two months. But alas, Gav has not baked more that two different types of bread like he promised he would. The wonderful fruit loaf and a white loaf and maybe you can count a half white half wholemeal….

So I decided to get the recipe book that came with the machine and make something different. 

Honey and Sunflower seed bread. It takes a while to bake – 5 hours, but it is worth it. I thought it might be too sweet for sandwiches but in fact the honey replaces the sugar so it actually isn’t sweet at all. I might be tempted to up the honey quantity a bit so you can really taste it.

It was delicious and I will be making it again soon.

I see you little superdog

All he needs is a cape!

The Garden in March

The seasons have changed.  One minute it’s too cold to venture outside to peer at the first bulbs peeking their heads up and the next you’re out there digging.

I love this time of year. New, fresh, bright green.


There are still many things to sort out and tidy up and then the weeding starts all over again but that’s part of the rituals of gardening. Gav has to finish his renovations on the compost bins. You can see it behind the bench in the shot above.

And a bit of rearranging over this side of the garden when that compost bin is moved. The beds in the photo above this one are the ones I’m using for Bloom. I have dug one of those over since taking this picture and it got me inspired to sow more seed and finish the plan.

What with our extended days now the clocks have gone forward there is a definite spring in my step.

Weekly layout – week twelve

Welcome to week twelve. I can’t believe I’ve made it this far but I am so glad I keep plugging away and making a layout a week.

I selected five photos from a trip to New York for this week.

We just love the Staten Island ferry and I thought I cold tell that story. But when I pondered the photos I decided to leave out the Statue of Liberty photo as that thought it detracted from the story which was the ferry ride not the sights along the way. That said though  kept in the view of Manhattan. Love it so.

I pulled out some papers and other goodies.

You can see that I cropped the photos and they fit nicely into a grid format.

I thought a strip of patterned paper would fit somewhere so I punched it ready for use.

Then I tried that strip of paper along with a green piece of Bazzil cardstock in two places on the layout to see which I liked best.

I went with the horizontal version but moved the photos up to the right edge of the paper.

I seem to have a thing going on with orange these days but I blame the colour of the ferry! I knew it was going to be clean and simple bit I needed a couple of extra elements and well as the title. I used a Jenni Bowlin journal block stamped onto a scrap of orange card.

You can see the second impression I made, which was really just to clean the stamp but I liked it better than the blacker image.

I also used a stamp for a circle accent. It’s from a Girls Paparie travel set. And I punched the circle out.

I adhered those accents and wrote my journaling and that was it. Simple, not too much going on but when the background paper is busy I think it still works out fine.

I placed the journaling block and the circle accent in a triangle around the photos. By putting the photos up against the edge of the paper it adds to the graphic quality I think.

There goes another week, another story.


Weekly Layout is a series of blog posts that I am doing every week in 2012. I am walking through the process of putting the page together with a bit of background to why I picked the design and embelishments for the page. I hope to develop my style and push myeslf by taking on this challenge. You can see previous weeks here.

Agatha, Agatha


Here they are then. My recent purchases from Barter Books.

They had a wealth of Agatha Christie’s on their shelves when we went the other week so I grabbed an armful to add to my collection.

I have written about this before but can’t remember when! Basically, when our new bookcase arrived last summer I put all the Christie’s I owned onto a shelf by themselves and they looked so perfect it made me want to have them all so I have been on the quest of finding her novels secondhand ever since. Actually my sister owns most of them but gave them to me in the quest for a perfect collection. So I was thrilled that I found a few gems in Barter books.  

I’ve even made a little list of all the missing titles so I can keep an eye out in our local charity shops.

I love a quest, even a bizarre one.

25 Books – number five

I was out Christmas shopping with my Mum and sister and spotted this book.

As you know I’m a huge Agatha fan and although I don’t usually read biographies and the like I thought this would be really interesting as it was delving into some of the note books she used to plot her novels.

I started it after New Year (my Mum bought if for me for Christmas) and have had a couple of rests reading other books in between. I really enjoyed it. He has the tendency to go on a wee bit for my liking but he made the subject interesting and fed my love of this genre. Because of this book I picked up the Dorothy L Sayers.

It also made me want to do three things.

Read Agatha Christie’s autobiography.  

Go back in time so I could experience first hand the brand new Poirot or the next Marple when they were actually published.

And read all of her books. I have been a fan of Poirot in the main although I did read all the Marples a few years ago. I tended to steer clear of the stand alone books but I really think I should read them. I know a couple like The Pale Horse, which is my sisters favourite and Endless Night are supposed to be brilliant.

And because of that amazing trip to Barter books the collection is growing. More on that delicious pile of books soon.

White Balance

I have been working through the photo course and loving it. Although you do realise that the more you learn the more there is to learn. I might have said that before….

Anyway we got to the week where it was all about white balance. Hmm. I do sort of get it. For instance I understand that some lights we have in our homes cast a very yellow light or some a blue light which affects the colour in the photo.

But trying to set up a custom white balance makes my head ache. We already had a small credit card sized grey card, which although not perfect, apparently seems to work okay when Gav uses it. He took some photographs of my niece the other week and the difference between the auto white balance and the custom white balance was phenomenal. I mean hello decent indoor photography!

So there I was in that great bookshop on holiday last week and I asked Gav to hold up the little grey card so I could attempt to set a custom white balance.

Here he is holding up said card.

And here is the photograph I took after setting my custom WB.

Uh yes, they look much the same don’t they.

That would be because I forgot the final step in the process. Selecting ‘custom’ on the WB menu. Duh! I managed to get to the menu screen, pick the picture I wanted the camera to use as its guide for white balance and then forgot to pick custom.

Rats! Better luck next time eh?

Apart from that little blip I like the photo though because a) you can see the little grey card peeking out of Gav’s pocket so it reminds us of what we were trying to achieve and b) the book he is holding is called ‘Missing Links’. We have a little immature joke running in this family about Darwin’s missing links. I can’t remember the start of the joke but my sister had a hand in it and now when we hear the phrase Missing Links we bursting into fits of laughter. Families are weird, don’t you think?!

We got the reminder though. Even if the WB ‘aint perfect. And it just means I keep on practicing.

From garden to table in 30 minutes

We still have leeks in the garden. I was mulling over the lack of supplies in the fridge – really needed to shop today – when I spotted a pack of Halloumi cheese. We are rather partialled to this wonderful cheese it has a non melting quality that makes it substantial.

Then I remembered a recipe in a great book by Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Meals in Minutes so I grabbed it and found the recipe.

It was for Halloumi with Spiced Leeks and I thought I could adapt it for a pasta accompaniment. So off I went down to the veg patch and dug me up some leeks.

I washed and trimmed them.

Then chopped them up and fried them in olive oil for a few minutes. I added the cubes of cheese, the cumin seeds and let the cheese brown well on each side. Meanwhile I got the pasta cooking.

Before serving I squeezed half a lime over the leek and cheese mix then drained the pasta and added the ‘sauce’.

It was really good and I will definitely try it again maybe with rice instead of pasta.

But the main thing I want to remember about this meal is that without those homegrown leeks it would have never been discovered and how I wish I cooked meals like this more often. Where you just think oh, I’ll cook that because its ready for harvesting in the garden.

That is what growing veg is really all about.

Barter books revisited

Oh this place. Barter Books in Alnwick, Northumberland.

It is an inspiration, a haven, a book lovers dream come true. And I discovered last week not just for picking up great second-hand books. The setting is perfect for snapping photos too.

And yep, you can take dogs into the shop although I think Buddy might have preferred staying in the car.

We bought 13 books between us and it only cost £22.20. And you feel good because they are second hand and you’re doing a little to help the planet.

All in all it’s a win, win, win location.

Moonset Sunrise


Last week we took our annual trip to a pretty little cottage on the coast of Northumberland. Here’s last years photos. (Opens in a new window.)

The Budster decided that he needed an injection of sea air at 6.10am on the first morning of our holiday. I struggled to remain calm at getting up so early while I got ready to head outside.

But bless him he was really doing me a sweet favour because when we go out the door and looked up the little lane what did we see but a wonderful moon. Low down on getting onto the horizon. My photography and/or camera lens don’t do it justice but it was really beautiful. I always think that it looks unreal when it hangs so low in the sky.

Then another treat. Sunrise.

Well I’d missed it by about ten minutes but still managed to get a few photographs. (These are straight out of the camera.) I hadn’t even noticed the flock of birds flying over Dunstanburgh Castle till I took the photos off the camera! Too busy concentrating on that exposure…… Not sure if it is technically correct to underexpose these kinds of shots but I like the results anyway.

So Bud and I headed along the beach and thanks to the amazing celestial bodies I was in a happy mood all day long.