Month: August 2014

Photo a Day – week twenty two


Almost a year ago we all ate Key Lime Pie in Florida. My sister made this delicious pie to remind us of our trip. And wow, wow was it ever yum.


Bee rescue.


A few velvety sweet peas and nigella seed pods.


This Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino is worth missing a meal for.


There was a very special moon on Sunday night and I did try to get an evening shot but too blurry. So I caught this early morning one instead.


On a walk with my BFF I spotted this post box. Looks like a VR (Queen Victoria) version but no letters! The other one I found had a V and R either side of the crown. Unique? Not sure but it is different. Excellent route for the walk H!


My favourite annual Fuchsia ‘Thalia’. This is one that we overwintered so free plants! Love that. This fuchsia has an upright habit with the simple flowers and sumptuous foliage and that burgundy red stem. We grow them in pots.


And there we go. Enjoy the week.

Bloom 3.0 – Cornflowers and Salvia


This arrangement was from a few weeks ago but it was so pretty (if I do say so myself!) that I wanted to add it to the collection here.


Along with the cornflower and salvias are clematis stems, nicotiana, knautia seed heads  and matthiola. I treid to keep it loose and airy with longer stems floating above the main body of the arrangement.

Like the colour combination and think it looked great in that tin jug.

Do join in the floral gatherings over here.


When you find something that works, do it!


It sounds so simple but I am the first to admit I don’t take the sensible route most of the time.

I was thinking  about the increase in my regular blog posts over that last few months and wondering how it happened. (Let’s not include the last two weeks….) After a little thought I came up with a few things that seemed to gel at the same time.

  • I found a calm and happy place at the dining room table before the day begins.
  • I discovered what they say about ‘morning pages’ is true.
  • This wonderful blogger mentioned an editorial calendar in this post.
  • I started writing posts ahead of time.

Some things in my life I do like clockwork and it works, routine works. Other things that I try to do like clockwork don’t work and end up very hit and miss. But the routine of getting up, walking Bud, making coffee and sitting down with the laptop is a routine I adore. It’s not a true definition of ‘morning pages’ but close enough for me. ( I Googled the term to see where it came from and seems it was first mentioned in a book called The Artists Way by Julia Cameron.)

The essence of morning pages is that you get up and get straight on with writing. Whatever comes to mind just get it down on paper and do it every day. Like I said my version is a little off the mark but it works so I do it.

Around the same time I started settling myself down each day before the day began I also read the post about an editorial calendar. Something in my head just clicked and then and there I set one up in Microsoft Outlook Calendar that was solely for keeping blog post ideas.

As the weeks went by I found that brainstorming and adding ideas onto the outlook calendar was working. My regular posts increased. Having topics written down also gave me a target to aim for. For example, I knew that on Thursday the following week I was going to post about the last book I’d read so I could take the photos of the book cover ahead of time and make sure they were edited and ready to go.

Some potential posts (this one is a good example) have been moved from week to week for a couple of months now, waiting for me to get my head round the words, but that’s okay because I have the idea of the post noted so I don’t forget to keep working on it. Adding things to the calendar works, so I do it.

The final piece of the puzzle is getting ahead. If I know that I have three posts written and scheduled on a Sunday for the following week I’m winning. I can relax and probably will write a couple more off the cuff during the week. But if there are no posts scheduled I panic and the pressure to write something usually means I don’t write anything.

Just a word on that ‘pressure’ thing I mentioned in the last paragraph. There is no pressure. I write here for me and Gav. Don’t get me wrong I love comments and love seeing that people have visited to say hello. It really does spur you on but I’m not making a living from these words and photos, I am telling our story and keeping a record of things we do and thoughts I have and I love that process in itself. So when I said ‘pressure’ to get posts written I know there is no real pressure it’s all my my noggin’. Okay, rant over.

I am amazed at myself for keeping up this blogging malarkey but I really love it and it was getting my act together, knowing what was working for me and keeping doing that over and over, that was the key to writing more frequently and feeling more satisfied about the process.

So when you discover what works make sure you do it!

A summer list with H


We all know how much I love a list and I added a couple over here recently. From them I drew up a ‘doable’ UK list for H to tick off this summer. I got the idea of a summer list for my niece to do from a project my sister had begun at the start of the summer holidays.


You see my darling, adorable, cute cute niece often claims she has ‘done nothing’ in her hols so my sister began to take a photo each day of whatever fun thing they were doing. This way there is evidence and B can wave her book of fun photos at her daughter if said child should dare to claim she twiddled her thumbs all summer long.


Here is the list – stargaze, go bowling, ride in a boat, make s’more, visit a beach, pick berries, fly a kite, make lollies, feed ducks, visit a museum, eat watermelon, paint rocks, collect seashells, make ice cream sundaes, learn a song on the piano, make pizza from scratch, blow bubbles, ride your bike to the park, have a picnic or 3, make lemonade, get ice cream from the ice cream man, play rounders, make cupcakes, play giant jenga outside, write a story, pick and arrange flowers, listen to music outside, take photos and make a summer album, write letters to Mel and Gav about you Portugal trip, make a flower headdress. Phew!


I knew some of these could be done while my sister’s lot are away and some when H comes round here.


We’re making excellent progress so far.


And learning a little along the way.


Well I’m certainly learning for example don’t leave her alone with the sugar syrup for the lemonade or she’ll try to drink it before dilution…..

But apart from that such fun and a challenge for us grown ups too.

Read 2014 – Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater


Look at me evolving! Another book on the Kindle.

Truth be told I just needed some YA fiction and couldn’t wait for a book to show up so bought it on the Kindle instead. Oh technology I love and loathe you at the same time. But that is another story….

I like Maggie’s style and stories so when I learned that she’d written a book about the continuing story of a couple of characters from the Shiver series I wanted to read it.

I found the direction she took the story interesting and the way she treated these two protagonists, who have flaws galore and serious issues, well done. I did feel like I was inside their heads.

It is essentially a love story and as I was desperate to find out if it all ended happily ever after I read it too fast and it was all done and dusted so quickly but now I know.

All in all not bad.

Bloom 3.0 – Cerinthie, Calendula, Euphorbia and more


I went out and just picked everything I could a couple of days ago and filled three containers with material to arrange.

Here’s a look at everything I collected.


I let them sit awhile then in between rain showers I got started. I thought it would be interesting to snap at each stage as I arranged this first vase full.

I picked that lovely creamy flower pot for the first arrangement and used a pin holder secured in the bottom to hold longer stems.

I added the two euphorbia’s to start off with.


And then the cerinthie.


Using the pin holder makes such a difference to making the arrangement look fuller quicker.

The cornflowers and salvia went in as bride and bridesmaid. (Sarah Raven uses these terms for her arrangements.)



And the calendula as the gatecrasher.


I really love that little pot it always makes a good base for an arrangement. And the blue and yellow look great together.

Here is what was left over.


I didn’t do a step by step for this next arrangement as the rain came down again but here is the finished jug.



And in situ the following day.


I keep saying it but I am loving this summer filled with blooms. And don’t forget to go over here for more flowery inspiration.

Photo a Day – week twenty one


JCB shovels come in three’s apparently…..


I made the most amazing (if I say so myself) chocolate pecan pie from and older version of this book.


The sunflowers are starting to bloom.


On a soggy morning a pretty leaf at the park.


Those courgettes are coming thick and fast. Made risotto this time.


Feeding the ducks and a little dancing too.


We went to see Shrek the Musical! (sorry about the v.bad photo quality.)


And there goes another week.

30 Vegetarian Pizza’s – Quorn Sausage and Olives


The more I try different toppings the more I am learning about combination of flavours. That’s what it’s all about really isn’t it? The endeavor to find the perfect flavours working together.

Years ago, when Gav and I were addicted to Masterchef we looked on with envy as the contestants combined flavours together and made a stunning and delicious dishes. To say that I call myself a ‘cook’ you’d think that I experiment and try new things together all the time but whenever I try to ponder a new twist on a old recipe my head just hurts with all the possible combinations. Maybe I should write ideas down…..

This latest addition to the 30 was Quorn veggie sausages and olives. I’d seen photos of sausage and olive pizza and I adore veggie sausages so wanted to give it a try these two flavours together.


It was all the usual suspects as far as dough (white), sauce (Gav’s) and mozzarella (hard pre-grated.) I grilled the sausages before adding them to the top and used both green and black olives to see which we liked best.

Really liked this one. The sausage works well as a topping and both types of olives tasted fine so would add both again.

There we go number thirteen done, almost halfway there…..

Read 2014 – City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare


I’ve just looked back to see what my review of the fifth novel in this series was like. I was astounded to find that I read the last book in May 2012. No wonder I was hazy on what had happened in that one!

But at last this series is complete.

So was it worth waiting two years for the conclusion? Yes and no. Yes, because I now know the end. No, because I found it all too long and spun out.

One of my favorite characters in the series, who has been developed well as these stories progressed, was Magnus. Maybe because he is ‘older’? In this last book I also thought the introduction of Jules and Emma was well done and does make me want to know more about them. (Lucky for me she will be writing them into a new series…..)

Overall I did enjoy the books and the story and at least I’ve picked up the kindle again!

Bloom 3.0 – Abundance


The week before last I had so many vases of flowers I ran out of places to put them. That is the most wonderful problem to have. I gave some to my Mum and sister and that was a tick on the flower growing

I admit this arrangement was a mis-match and as I began putting flowers in the vase I thought it just wasn’t going to work.


But beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I think it is beautiful even if not quite what I intended. Rich voluptuous colours which match the big blue pot. We have cerinthie, sweet peas, alchemilla, stocks a few last sweet williams and poppies.

This next one did turn out how I wanted. Country, airy, pretty.


The addition of the poppies changes the arrangements completely and I love them even if they are short lived in the vase.


This one has ammi majus, salvia, cornflowers and the poppies. Pretty, pretty.