Friday, 28 December 2007

More bottle caps

a few more photos of my experiments. you can see some of them how the background paper has changed colour due to soaking up the liquid laquer.

i've done about 30 more which are drying......

all i have to do now if find some way and somewhere to sell them.

here's a slideshow of the ones that are dry so far

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Baa Humbug even more than before

it's almost 6.30am and i'm awake! Grrrrrr! i eventually turned my laptop off about half past midnight - which means 6 hours of disturbed sleep. Oh i'm going to be the biggest grouch today! i heard on the radio that 6 out of 10 people will be asleep by 4.22pm on Christmas Day and this year i think i might be one of them!

i've made a sweet honey and lemon drink to try and ease the pain but now my nose is starting to run as well. the pain is worse than when i went to bed last night (or technically earlier this morning).

i was going to starting saying about how i wished my anorexic demons would go away so i could have a cough sweet with out worrying about calories but i've just remembered we used to have some numbing throat spray so once i've finished my drink i'll go hunt that down and maybe i might be able to get back to sleep!

Monday, 24 December 2007

A Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

We went into london on saturday to see Handel's Messiah at St Martin's in the field and before hand had lunch at Ye Old Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street, which was very quiet for a saturday but being in the business district they probably get a lot more trade on weekdays.

then we headed to Hyde Park to see the Winter Wonderland, with it's German Market Stalls and fun fair. well i was a tad disappointed - there was far more fun fair than German Market, and even then most of the market wasn't even German!! but we sampled some german mulled wine and had a wonder around.

we then headed to Harrods to show David the sights (in other words mum dragged him round the jewellery section!!).

before going to the cafe in the crypt for dinner at St Martin's.
and a quick look at the Trafalgar square christmas tree before going home after the recital.

All i want for not a cold virus and sore throat!!!!

just went things were hard enough, i woke up this morning feeling like i'd swallowed a fish bone or a razor blade! but i haven't been near either of those items in ages - the first, a few weeks, the latter over a year!! added to that a headache, sneezing (which has just started) and feeling even more drained than i already do and i have a very unwelcome christmas gift to myself!
doesn't help when i'm feeling low anyway. but can't be helped so will just mean extra effort in being "ok" - or the perfect excuse to not be "ok".

i've got a huge supply of bottle top to keep me occupied, however i've just realised i've run out of 3D varnish. but i still have to take the plastic seals out of the latest lot i picked up from the pub today. my magnetic strip arrived from ebay, i was at least able to make shane's into a magnet and get that wrapped and delivered before christmas.

i cut up some magazines and gave some images a trial go. i was quite pleased with the way they worked out really.
i took some more photos of my lanterns the other night as well, once i'd cleaned them up, put new candles in and then managed to get them all lit! one of those things i think is it worth the effort - but then i think, well, it's handmade, personal and saving electricity.

Friday, 21 December 2007

The Best GP Surgery

ok, time to take a big step here. i'm going to take the risk of blogging about my mental state and personal life. mum if you are reading this, don't be worried, i'm ok. read to the end of the post and you'll see.

i made a snap decision to get an emergency appointment today before my emotions took even more of a hold than they already are. My GP it seemed is away think week and although i knew the duty GP i don't know her as well as i do the Nurse Practitioner who was also there this afternoon.

So i asked to see Janet the nurse practitioner instead. and i'm so glad i did. she helped me to see a few things more clearly. firstly just accept the digi box from mum gratefully and don't read anything more into it. she reminded me of the generous trait in my personality and how much i enjoy giving things to others, and how when i do that i don't look for things in return. so thats what i'm going to tell mum tonight.

she told me how far i'd come in the 8/9 years i'd known her. in the past i would have been seeing her for stitches not a chat. and that would have been only a couple of years ago. she said how my thinking had matured and the way i deal with my feelings and depression.

i went in there booked myself in, hid in a corner in the waiting room away from other people and sat there with tears rolling down my face. Janet agreed that perhaps i should have made an appointment earlier but we recognised that the whole running away from help is part of the demons inside of me. she booked me in with my GP for monday morning there and then.

the news is always going on about improvements needed for GP surgeries, the news today is saying about longer hours for those who work/have family life to sort etc. now i know i don't fall into those categories but my surgery has saved my life quite literally several times over the past 10 years. the receptionists are so wonderful and have looked after me on many occasion. i've had my GP turn up at my house when i've been in trouble. they open til 6.30pm and start at 8.30am.

i wish there was some way i could show recognition of all they've done. christmas cards and edible christmas treats or a summer edible treat just aren't enough. they've gone above and beyond for me and i have no doubts that i wouldn't be alive today if it wasn't for them.

ok i'm going to stop now before the tears start again. another reason i realised seeing Janet was the right thing to do and also how i had changed. normally i would have left in tears too but today i left feeling mentally stronger than when i went in.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

75 Questions Swap

I typed my questions long before the sign up deadline and partners were assigned, but after printing them out to send to my partners today i thought i'd add my own questions to my blog.

1. How did your parents' chose your name? It was name they both agreed on that could be shortened to an equally nice name - Jennifer to Jenny or Jen
2. What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Turn on my laptop
3. What’s the last thing you do at night? turn off my light/TV/Laptop depending which i have on.
4. What couldn’t you live without? My mum, she mean the world to me.
5. What animals/wildlife visit your garden? Lots of birds (blackbirds, bluetits, sparrows, great tits, long tailed tits, coal tits, starlings, sparrow hawk, wood pigeon, collared doves - i could go on forever!) squirrels, rats (well there used to be......) we even had a field mouse once, we used to have hedgehogs but i haven't seen any evidence of them recently.
6. What’s the time right now? 16:07
7. Which room of the house are you in? The lounge/dinning room
8. Describe what you can hear at the moment? The TV
9. What’s the temperature outside at the moment? according to the latest online guide 4 Degrees C
10. What are you having for dinner tonight? flat mushroom topped with parsnip and beetroot, corn on the cob and red cabbage.
11. Have you researched you family history at all? i've started on mum's side of the family and got back to the mid 1800's.
12. Do you drive a car? yes, i passed 2 years ago - so my details with be on those records that the government lost in the USA!!
13. How many people live in your town/village? 1810 people in 2001 so probably about 1900 to 2000 now.
14. Do you get on with your neighbours? we have lovely neighbours on both sides of us.
15. Have you ever written a love letter? no i don't think so, certainly not in my adult life so far.
16. Do you have any tattoos? yes, 2 butterflies both on my back
17. How big is the biggest television in your house? 32 inch widescreen quite old, not flat screen or plasma tho....
18. How many computers do you have in your house? hmmm perhaps i should publish this on my blog, although if anyone were to try and burgal us they'd have to get past me first as i'm always home!!
19. What’s your favourite shop? i don't think i reallt have one - anywhere i can find a bargin i guess.
20. Who do you live with? my mum and step-dad
21. If you could live anywhere in the world where would that be? in an ideal world on the coast of a remote part of scotland with enough land for keeping chickens and growing veg, with access to the sea for crab fishing!
22. Who would be you 5 fantasy dinner party guests and why? Judi Dench - because she is my favourite actress. Richard Hammond - just because you need some eyecandy somewhere!! Gordon Ramsay - because he's some i admire for his hard work (and he's more eyecandy!). My Auntie Susan - because i never got to meet her and My Uncle David for the same reason.
23. What’s the biggest competition you’ve ever won? (including things like the lottery) when i was about 7 i won a competition in a pony magazine, i had to draw what i wanted for christmas, so i drew a horse (not exactly brain science for a competition for a pony magazine!) and won a set of books. last year i won £20 worth of Yo Sushi! vouchers for completing feedback on their restaurants.
24. Have you ever been ill either on or after a fair ground ride? yes, i was about 15 and it was a grown up faster version of the cups and saucers ride. i was violently ill but i did manage to make it to a tree on the edge of the field out of sight!!
25. If you could give someone special a treat or present to say thank you (no money limit) what would you do and who for and why? i asked this question because i am searching for ideas! so i don't have an answer to that one!
26. Which is the most untidy room in your house? my bedroom by far - the rest of the house is almost spotless, the only other place there is clutter is on the dinning room table but thats mainly my crap/art!
27. Have you ever been critically ill? yes but not a happy story to tell and something i have moved on from and want to leave behind.
28. If you have ever been on TV, what programme was it? (even if you were just in the audience) i was on channel 5's The Wright Stuff in February 2006, in the audience of Ready Steady Cook (BBC2) with Nan in January 2007 and on BBc1's The One Show just a couple of weeks ago.
29. Have you got any family heirlooms or antiques? in one short word - No!
30. What’s your favourite item of clothing you own and why do you like it? my shawl i bought in Scotland, its huge and i can wrap myself up in it o keep warm.
31. When did you last throw out something from your wardrobe and what was it? it was a pink polar/turtle neck which had different colour pinks and black stripes on the front - but it really irritated my neck so i decided it had to go to the charity shop with other stuff i was getting rid of.
32. What’s the most expensive restaurant you’ve ever been to? probably The Grill at Down Hall Hotel in the edge of the village. nice for a treat (and when you have a 25% discount voucher!!) but not our scene really, too fancy.
33. Have you ever written and sent a fan mail letter to a celebrity? yes, quite a few. i received hand signed letters and postcards from Judi Dench, Dawn French and Cathy Shipton (duffy in Casualty)
34. Do you keep all your swap letters and mail? yes, i have a huge folder and don't know what to do as the folder is full!
35. How many channels can you get in your TV? in my room just the 5, but down stairs we have freeview, so its something like 40.
36. Which website do you visit the most? probably hotmail for my emails
37. How many places have you lived in? just the 2. here and in sussex.
38. Is there something you do the same each day? (e.g., what you eat, order you do things in) i eat the same breakfast at about the same time. i have an earl grey tea after eating my lunch. and i have a hot chocolate before i go to bed.
39. Do you share your bed with anyone/anything? i have a double bed, half of which i sleep in with a teddy and the other half is what i like to call "work in progress" basically bits of paper and stuff that i've picked up or need to use currently.
40. What’s your swap bot feedback rating? 5.0
41. Have you ever had to give a low rating? after several emails and PM's and still no response i sadly have to give my first 1 the other day.
42. How many hours sleep do you get a night? on average i think about 8
43. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever eaten? tripe - and i won't be doing it again.
44. What were you hoping for, for Christmas this year? (Did you get it?) there's nothing i really want or need.
45. Have you ever broken a bone, if so how? nope, never broken one.
46. Do you pay attention to/ believe the weather forecast? sometimes, depends how bother i am about what the whether might be like.
47. When you think about the area you live in, what is the most famous thing that people might know about? probably Stansted Airport.
48. Do you like your job? N/A
49. Do you have any toys from your childhood still? yes, they are in a box in the loft. mum kept them for when/if i ever have children.
50. If you could teach your children (even if you don’t have any yet) one thing what would it be? accept other people for who they are and what they believe.
51. What’s your worst habit? biting the skin around my finger nails
52. How far away is your nearest post office? 10 minute walk into the village
53. Which trait do you think is most important for a person’s personality? loyalty
54. What makes you really really angry? people who are racist, homophobic and don't accept other people's views and opinions
55. What makes you proud? my mum and step dad for sticking together over the last few years despite all our troubles
56. I was watching a documentary about the Queen last night (the person not the film!) and it was showing her latest tour of the USA. Some of the pronunciation and language used by the Americans made me giggle where it is different to things in Britain. What language differences make you giggle? Tomato is the one that comes to my mind right now.
57. What do you hope the New Year will bring? thats to far ahead for me to think about right now.
58. Will you make any New Year’s Resolutions? (And keep them?) no, because i know they won't last
59. Have you ever broken the law? (whether you have been caught or not) i think the only think i've done is have the odd drag of a spliff at a party.
60. If you could change one thing about the way you look what would it be? i would love to be slightly taller
61. If you could live forever would you want to? only if i could have my family with me too
62. If you could choose one person to live forever with you who would it be? my mum
63. What’s the one thing you regret buying because you never or hardly ever use it? probably my ipod
64. Who do you miss and wish you could see more of? my nan, we speak on the phone but i wish we lived closer.
65. What colour is your bedroom? lilac
66. What’s your favourite room in your house? i don't think i really have one. i like the lounge/dinning room because it's the largest i guess.
67. Have you ever been on a diet? hmmm best i don't answer that one!
68. How many Christmas lights have you put up this year? None!! i created eco-friendly candle lanterns for outside and we haven't got a christmas tree up yet, but mum might change that with a week to go.
69. What’s the most expensive Christmas present you bought this year and who’s it for? shhhh i can't say that just incase they read my blog!! (well you never know!)
70. If you could have one superpower what would it be? the power to fly like superman, so i could visit friends and family across the world
71. What’s your favourite gadget that you own? does my laptop count as a gadget?
72. If you could trace your family tree back who would you like to be related to? (no boundaries) either someone clever or who did something good for the world, like Einstein or Mother Teresa
73. What’s the scariest thing you have ever done or that has ever happened to you? probably my car accident, although i don't remember too much about it.
74. If you became prime minister or president of your country what would be the first law you would change or introduce? No more plastic bags!!!
75. Finally, are you fed up with answering questions yet??!! typing them yes, i just hope its easier by hand when my partners questions arrive!!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

bottle top/cap photos

here are the rest of the bottle cap photos, now that my camera has a fully charged battery. although the magnetic strip hasn't arrived yet so i still can't finish them!

this is for a swap partner who likes earthy reds and browns:
then i made one each for me, mum and david which i will turn into magnetic bull dog clips for the fridge. i have the mini bulldog clips and some bostik glue so i will to that in a second and then when the magnetic strip arrives i will stick that to the other side of the bull dog clip.

this is for a friend, and i plan to turn these into one long magnet:

i managed to get the plastic seal off of some of them today by placing them on our electric cooker home and then using tweezers and the craft knife to get it off. it made it easier but it still didn't leave a perfectly clean finish. i'm going to give some pictures a go in a few of them tonight. i had another couple of swap partners assigned today, so i am just about to look at their profiles to get some ideas. its a match box swap so the match box will be designed around their profiles too.

A productive day

mum's work are having a buffet style christmas lunch tomorrow so i offered to make some bits for her to take in. she'd already bought some mini quiches (although half of those went with david to a railway meeting as a last minute thought), so i thought i'd do some "healthier" mince pies. healthier in the sense that i used filo pastry instead of short crust, and didn't use butter to stick the filo layers together. so there are now 32 mince pies (although some are parcels, as i was experimenting a bit) and then i used the rest of the filo by inventing some filo tiramisu baskets.

Filo Mince Pies
  • pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C
  • cut sheets of filo into squares just bigger than the size of a muffin/fairy cake tin. layer 4 squares at different angles, brushing with egg white (or milk or melted butter if feeling indulgent), in between each layer, and place in patty tins to make baskets.
  • place a teaspoon of mincemeat in each basket and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • meanwhile mix icing sugar and brandy to create a smooth icing and drizzle over mince pie tarts.
  • then dust with icing sugar.

this was my end result:

The Tiramisu Tarts were quite an experiment, i wasn't sure whether to have the mascarpone fresh or baked, or how to get the coffee in there. so in the end this seemed to be the best method:

Tiramisu Tarts

  • preheat oven to 180 Degrees C
  • layer 4 squares filo (just bigger than holes of patty tin in size) at different angles and use to line patty tins
  • mix mascarpone with vanilla pod seeds and masarla and a little icing sugar (all done to taste, no measurements)
  • mix coffee granules with hot water to create a smooth paste.
  • spread a little of the paste into the bottom of the uncooked filo baskets
  • place a teaspoon of the mascarpone mixture in the baskets
  • bake in the oven for about 15 mins until the filo is golden and the mascarpone had a slight golden crust.
  • remove from oven and dust with cocoa powder.

this is what the end result looked like:

so all in all today, 32 mince pie tarts and 9 tiramisu tarts:

quite a productive day all in all as well as having to go out to get some more mincemeat (despite mum assuring me one jar would be enough!), and coming home with a pair of tracksuit bottoms, a tube of bostik glue, a 4m length of christmas ribbon, and a jar of mincemeat!

Monday, 17 December 2007

Bottle top/cap crafts

i decided to try something new using beer bottle caps. some people use them to make sculptures, some decorate with little items and some stick paper/photos is the middle.

cutting out photos seemed too fiddly to me so i decided to paint the inside. but the have a plastic seal glued to the inside which is a bugger to get out. i tried it with 2 of them using tweezers and a craft knife, but it just didn't leave a smooth surface.

so i left it in for the rest, which then gave me a ring round the edge to paint as a border.

i've ordered some self adhesive magnetic strip and will stick that to the back when it arrives. it was being posted first class today, so should be here soon.

so i've painted them and then varnished with an acrylic varnish. i managed to get photos of 2 of them before the battery on my camera died.....

this one is for a swap partner who listed cupcakes as something she liked in her profile:

and this one is for someone who likes paw prints and the colour green (the paw is actually done in green!):

i'll post photos of the rest when they're taken onc my battery's recharged!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Private swap from Christina

i received a large jiffy bag from the postman the other day. as usual i had completely orgotten about any swaps and packages that i should be expecting.

but then i had another problem, when i tried to see who it was from, on the outside i couldn't!!
so i opened it up to find lots and lots of tea and crystal light from Christina in America.
i had seen eggnog tea advertised on the web some time ago and had mentioned this in my swap-bot profile. Christina happened to glance at my profile and saw this and contacted me.
so i got her address too and in return sent her a sheet of stickers of characters that she mentioned she like in her profile. but then when the tea arrived i was amazed. i was expecting a few bags of each but no..................
20 tea bags, 20 sachets of crystal light honey and lemon, 2 handmade cat coasters and a little letter in a very pretty card.
so i shall be sending another something, a little larger this time in return for this wonderful package.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

my non electric christmas lights

well i finally got them finished and eventually found that the best way to hold the candles in place was simply blue tac. putting coloured stones, like you find in vases with fake flowers made the lanterns very heavy. sticking a drawing pin to the bottom of the jars didn't work - i simply couldn't stick metal to glass. so in the end i opted for blue tac.

the candles seem to burn for about 5 hours, but with 10 lanterns, my 40 candles aren't going to last long! i've used 2 nights worth already, so i might have to find some more cheap candles somewhere..... i wonder if tescos' do value ones?

anyway i sent david out into the cold to take some photos once they were all lit. so here they are:

I shouldn't be awake this early!!

ok so it's not actually that early at 8.20am but when you only got home at 2.10am - it is!! but my body just doesn't seem to want to sleep past 8am these days, no matter what day of the week.

so, yes i did babysit last night, a few crocodile tears as the mum was leaving, but the mum, H, was running late, so when H went downstairs i decided i would too - after all the children had seen me and knew i was there so if they woke up it wouldn't be a shock. H had said the girl, L, (who turned 3 in september) could call on her mobile and say happy birthday to the the person she was going to see, but explained that L would have to wait a bit until she had got there.

H then quietly said to me that if L insisted to make the to let her do so. so about 10 minutes after H left i heard footsteps on the baby monitor and by the time i had walked the corridors of this large house i was about to meet L at the top of the stairs. she asked to make the call but i explained that H wouldn't be there yet and that i would let her know when the time was right to make the call. suprisingly easily L got back into bed, well compared to other nights it was a piece of cake. i went back downstairs and thought i'd leave it and if she got up again insisting to call H then i would get the number and to it. but you know what - i didn't hear another peep - well not an awake peep, she was coughing in her sleep but when i went upstairs to check the coughing (i thought i was T i could hear on the monitor at first) it didn't seem to be waking her, so i left her to sleep and by 1 am was almost asleep myself.

at about 1.30am the phone rang and it was H and her husband E. E said they would be about 15 minutes, so a quick stroll around the house to keep me awake, as it is quite spooky in the front part of the house which dates back 400 years and also quite cold despite the heating. i had finished my christmas cards, read the radio times, attempted the cross word and there was little on TV to keep my mind awake. but they did arrive home just after 1.45am, we had a quick chat and i came home with £70 in my pocket.

some of that money was for last night, so in total that £80 for 10 hours work (3 thursday night and 7 last night) i'm sure H said she was going to pay me £7 an hour but then as it was extra late last night i think i deserved it!! still not sure whether the money justifies how it makes me feel - stressed with a sceaming child and shattered the next day. but H didn't have any more dates for the moment to i can relax for a week or so i think....... i think that last statement actually shows how i feel doesn't it..........oh dear.......but my inability to say "no" just seems to kick in. i think i need to learn how too again, i always had that problem at school.

well after 6 hours sleep i am going to be such a grouch today, i bet! maybe if i start to doze during the day i might let myself have a nap. but this morning there's a farmer's market i want to go to. it's a fairly new one and not one i've been to before, so i'd like to have a look. it starts at 10am so an hour at least yet before i need to get going.

Friday, 14 December 2007

A very busy week

no, i haven't fallen down a rabbit hole and gone missing. it's just been a very busy week, and i don't think it's going to end there! i'll go through it day by day starting last thursday:

Thursday 6th - babysitting got home about midnight but at least managed to get peter's christmas card order sorted - 25 cards, not bad in one evening!

Friday 7th - did food shopping all on my own this week, nan and grandpa arrived 3pm, sat showing off my laptop to them, watched my starring peformance together when having dinner.

Saturday 8th - weather crap so stuck indoors, peter picked up his cards, offered us a trip to london to see Handel's Messiah @ St Martin's in the Field (going just before xmas), went out to Van Haage's garden centre in the afternoon just to get out the house, not soon enough in my books but by that time i'd had enough so when we got home at 5pm i escaped the house and went down to the pub with my diary.

Sunday 9th - left home 10am to go to Tryst on the Green for a family lunch with Alison, Joan and others from that side of the family. got there just after 12pm, not bad as the weather was horrible so the spray on the motorways was bad, i'd stopped for petrol and stopped for a 5 min break at Clacket Lane services, and i managed to take a "detour" as i got close to my destination but again that was only about 10 minutes of the 2 hours.

lunch lasted 4 hours and by the time we'd finished sadly it was a bit late for me to go back to their house especially if i wanted to get home for dinner. and its quite a good job i did as driving conditions were still bad with spray and after i passed through the tunnel i hit the tail of a queue from an accident which then delayed me by about 45 mins. so it was near on a 3 hour drive home.

whilst i was out nan and grandpa had gone home.

monday 10th - needless to say after the weekend i was shattered and spent monday half asleep!

tuesday 11th - i don't actually remember what i did, still half asleep i think. mum had her work christmas event so a quiet night in.

wednesday 12th - emotional rollercoaster of a day, ended up driving to meet mum for lunch as i needed to see her, then took my time getting home, got back about 4pm. had the evening to myself as mum and david went to the local panto. settled down to a dinner of mussels, something to keep my fingers and mind occupied!

thursday 13th (last night) - popped into town in the morning still on my hunt for coloured sand, and still no luck. i was it for my "green" christmas lights - homemade candle lanterns not electric lights outside this year! i'll try and take some photos later when its dark tonight.
babysat again - screaming tantrum lasted about 15 minutes this time. she's starting to learn that screaming the house down isn't going to stop mummy going out and i'm not going to give in and let her go downstairs or call her mumy back - i feel so mean and nasty but a 3 year old needs to learn she's not ging to get her own way. she got 20 mins of TV on her parents' bed and then a story anyway. the TV was mummy's compromise, not cartoons tho as only analogue TV upstairs due to renovation works, so it was nice and boring for her! and the quick story was just to make sure on my part and to be fair she hadn't had one earlier, but then to be honest she didn't really deserve one. so i read through the book quickly and put little emotion into it cos i was tired and pissed off by this time! but i was home by 10.30pm as the father had been away on business and got home before the mother.

but i could be going through all that again tonight! the mother phoned to check all was ok, and asked me if i was free tonight, as she had been invited out again during the course of the evening. My mum is right though, i need to work outwhether i need the stress though, as nice as £7 an hour is - is it worth the stress?

well at least i don't have to worry about getting up early or anything like that. todays plans include the post office, which will mean a huge queue at this time of year. but i have ebay items to send out and a postcard to send out for a swap-bot partner. her mother had cleared out her postcard collection when she moved out of home, so she's trying to rebuild it.
and then when mum gets home about 4pm today, as she's been on earlies this week, its off to do the food shopping at tescos.

why does this time of year have to be so stressful and tiring??!!

Friday, 7 December 2007

My five minutes of fame on BBC1

it was tonight!! i sat there with my heart racing, my body shaking with nerves and excitement, but it was a really good edit.

as i expected not too much from all the filming we did but it was really well put together.

if you didn't catch it have a look here and you can watch it online!!

The Sticker Works!!

So the answer to the question of the sticker on our letter box was finally answered yesterday. i was sitting on the sofa eatin lunch when i spotted someone walking down the front path. i carried on watching as i wasn't expecting anyone. the man got half way down the path looked up at the front door, then turned around and walked back up the path!

i was slightly confused at first, but the i noticed the bundle of things in his hands and the rucksack on his back. they looked like those supposed charity clothes collections - the ones that they normally sell for profit and give a tiny bit to charity.

maybe the Indian woman wasn't just being rude after all, maybe she didn't understand what the sticker said?

Our council is acually quite helpful when it comes to stopping junk mail, but i'd like to knows the law/rules on ignoring the sticker if there are any.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Funny Ransom Note Swap

this has to be my favourite swap so far i think, but a lot of that is down to the wit and humor of my partners too. This was the description for the swap:

It's simple, view your partners profile and write them a funny ransom note (that would suit them) using magazine letter cut outs.

so this was is what i sent to one partner, CraftyDez, whose main hobby/craft is fimo or polymer clay as they call it in the USA:

My other partner to send to, NonVenomous, collects giants microbes:

from susiqz i received this:

however i am pleased to report that i paid the ransom and Ragedy Ann is now safe and sound.

And from halfwaythere:

this one really made laugh. when i opened it and read the note i thought it was nice that she had based it around the fact i was from the UK (she's in the USA) but then i looked at the photo.....i initially read the note to mean that "the queen gets it!" as in harm the queen, but then i looked at the photo and saw that she meant that the queen gets my glue stick! i haven't laughed that much in ages - a very clever ransom note!

Monday, 3 December 2007

Christmas and Greetings cards

i've finally managed to get some Christmas cards made. these are one offs and unique however i have ordered 50 more prints, as i have an order of 25 already, and am hoping mum will take some into work and get some interest there, and maybe some more orders.

i have added some slide shows of the cards in the options on the right hand side of the blog.

the "christmas card examples" are all for sale at the moment, as are the "General Greetings Cards". i will update these as and when they sell.

the other slide show is off the prints and designs that are available to order. they are show there without the text on them, and before they are mounted onto the cards.

if you wish to buy or order any cards, please contact me. They are priced at £1.30 each or 10 for £12. these prices include postage and packing.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Help me finish my list.

this is my do do list from the "help me finish my list" swap on swap-bot with ideas from my received letters as well. i dounbt i'll ever complete all the things, but you never know! red text means its in progress and it will have a strikethrough when completed.

  • Go horse riding on a beach
  • Write a book
  • Catch my own crab for dinner
  • Try more different vegetables
  • Try more different fruits
  • Sell my greetings cards
  • Go fishing
  • Go kite surfing
  • Research my family tree
  • Audition for a reality TV show
  • Learn to ride a motorbike
  • View a house that’s for sale that i could never ever afford
  • Work on a farm
  • Go camping
  • Have a professional photo shoot at a studio
  • Go back packing
  • Make a time capsule
  • At out at a fine dining/celebrity restaurant
  • Take afternoon tea at a posh London like the Ritz
  • Go speed dating or to a singles night
  • Travel abroad outside of Europe
  • Go to a health/beauty parlour
  • Try equine assisted therapy
  • Go Ice Skating
  • Be on TV
  • Get a video camera and make a mini movie
  • Write a fan mail letter to someone famous that i admire
  • Stay up all night (stay awake for 24 hours)
  • Get a part in an amateur dramatics production
  • Do a sponsored event for charity
  • Sing in public
  • Take my Nan shopping
  • Join a group/activity in my local area
  • Join our local health walk
  • Gain a certificate in something (anything!)
  • Have a picnic
  • Go rock pooling
  • Clear out my old clothes that i don’t wear
  • Go to a quiz night
  • Help/befriend a person less able than myself
  • Drive something other than a normal car like a tank or racing car
  • Go back to a place i went to as a child and relive old memories
  • Read to a group of children
  • Make a smoothie with tofu
  • Have a family photo session
  • read a 1984 again
  • read another great british classic novel

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

i wish bluewater was closer to home!

i met nan at bluewater shopping centre today. i drove down with no problems, i left at 9am, stopped for petrol and was there by 9.45am! nan's coach didn't get in until 10.45am, so i stopped at Asda then drove onto Bluewater. i was inside bluewater by 10.15am.

nan was held up a bit by the major road works around the A2 junction but was only about 10 mins behind the scheduled time of arrival.

anyway we did a lap of the ground floor, went to John Lewis "The Place to Eat" for lunch (coped fine with a feta, olive and pepper salad with balsamic syrup and a fruit salad after) then did a lap of the upper mall finishing with a drink at a cafe before nan's coach arrived ready to go home at 4pm.

we got to john lewis restaurant early fo a drink and had a look at the family history bits i had found on her father's line of the family. nan had also spoken to her brother to compare what the remembered. Uncle arthur recalls his father being one of 9 children, 3 of whom died very young, and their parents' (so nan's paternal grandparents) died before nan was born. she had the name of the 6 who lived past childhood, and i was able to match them up to the census records i had found for 1901, 1891, 1881 and 1871. from those census records i could them tell nan the names of 2 of the siblings who didn't make it past childhood. i only have rough estimates of years of birth at the moment and i haven't found the name or birth of the 3 child who died young, although nan and uncle arthur have been led to believe that their father (who was the youngest of the nine) was named after the other child who died young.

so these are the rough birth dates i have so far:

Ellen (who called herself Nell, but was down as Susan E on one census) - 1877
William - 1880
Edith - 1881 - died young, before the 1891 census
ernest - 1883
henry (known as harry by nan) - 1890
thomas - 1891 - died young before the 1901 census
mabel - 1893
arthur - 1896

looking at the dates again there is a large gap in time between ernest and henry, so maybe i'll look at births in those years for the surname, plus i know that by the 1881 census they were living in southwark in london and had left plymouth in devon. as ellen was born in plymouth but william was born in southwark as were the rest of the children.

i was also able to tell nan that her grandfather and grandmother on the paternal side were named william H, born c.1854 and Susan E, born c.1855. i have also found william H as a child in the 1851 census in devon but his father was already dead as it shows his mother as a widow aged 44.

phew. so that was my lovel day at bluewater but as soon as i drove out of the carpark i hit solid traffic. it then took me 2 hours to drive the normally 10 minute route to get to the Dartford tunnel. according to 106.2 Heart FM they had closed it down to 1 lane at junction 30 the other side of the tunnel because they were doing "emergency repairs", but it caused 12 miles of queues. nan's coach drive told them that the road was erroding and subsiding which was what the emergency repairs were! once the radio said they had reoppened the road you could tell the difference and it was just a case of clearing the backlog through the tunnel which then moved within about 20 minutes.

the other side of the tunnel it was clear. so i decided to make a quick pit stop at Thurrock services, called mum and asked her to sort my dinner (yes i actually trusted someone else to prepare my food for a second time in one day!) and said i'd be 30 minutes. she reckoned more like an hour.

i was home in 35 minutes and very glad to be home too!

have said all that i wouldn't have missed my day with nan for the world. my 5 hours with her was certainly worth the hour travel there and the 3 hours journey home! and because of that i actaully don't feel stressed by the bad end to the day.

but now i really must get some sleep.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

A Mystery Solved!

from my research i noticed that my grandfather's grandfather died reasonably young, aged 34, in 1911. by this time his children were only about 5 or 6 (i can't remember without looking it up). but on the phone tonight nan mentioned that she remembered that grandpa's grandfather had died falling off a roof at the bottom of West Street in Brighton.

this then rang bells of someone dying early and when i checked who it was all the details slotted into place! Another mystery solved!

A Great Genealogy Resource

Mum asked a collegue at work about their family history research, as she knew that the lady and her husband had done quite a lot already.

The husband passed on a list of useful websites and this morning i've started working my way through them.

i've started with this one:

it contains scanner images of the birth, marriage and death indexes.

a great resource thats seem to be working well so far. their search system seems to be bringing up most of my names, but even if it doesn't you can look through the whole index if you know the year and quarter - the only problem is you have to work out what page number it is on!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Family Tree

Yesterday Mum and I went to Epping Library to have a half hour taster session on The website contains details or Census records, birth, marriage and death records, military records etc. however although you can see the basic name and details on the website you can't see any further details without paying a fee. for an annual subscription the fee is £80.

on her lunch time walk, when returning some maps to the library on day mum spotted a leaflet about this family history taster session and convinced me to phone and book one of the half hour slots, and i'm so glad she did!

it turns out that Essex county council has somehow got free access to the website and all the detailed information on it including images of the records at every Essex Library.

as the man was showing us how the website worked and what it had to offer, we used some of the details that i have from a family tree that a solicitor in sussex did for Grandpa a few years back. We entered the name of Grandpa's grandfather and found him! we were able to tell it was him as all the brothers and sisters listed matched those listed on my family tree, with a few extra added on! so now i have birth years for them and also know the name's and birth year's of their parents - which is grandpa's great grandparents!

mum and i were getting so excited when a woman from the library came over to tell the man that our half our was almost up. frustrating i know, but such a boost and kick start. he also gave us tips of drawing a family tree, one being; use a roll of wallpaper, as it's big and easy to transport. which is what i didn when i came home. i also went back to the ancestry website to see what information i could access from home. it is only basic names and years but i was able to find some years of deaths which also provided a couple of middle names. for example on the details i already had there was a Queenie A L Taylor. i put those details into the deaths search narrowing my search to england. i didn't even need to narrow it to sussex as in the list there was only one person of that name listed with those initials and that person died in sussex, which is where the person on my tree was last listed as living. on the website she was listed as Queenie Agnes L Taylor - so now i have a middle name for her as well!

i have nothing to do today, apart from maybe try and take some more photos for my christmas cards (as only 3 out of the dozen or so that i've tried look any good) so i can spend all day with the family tree finding out as many basic names and birth years as i can so that when i go to an essex library i have something to work from.

i can't wait to get going, i just hope my enthusiam and motivation for this can last.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

The beeb are coming!

i didn't post about if before now because things kept changing and it seemed like it was going to be impossible to arrange a mutually convenient time.

Of an evening we've started watching The One Show on BBC1 at 7pm. A few weeks back they did a series on the brain and whether you had a male of female brain (regardless of your gender) and which brain was better at which type of things such as spacial awareness and map reading etc. As part of that they had a quiz to do online, so one morning i decided to check my brain out (according them i have a female brain) but while i was looking round their website i noticed a bit that asked for your views on certain topics and one of them was junkmail. this was very soon after my "bad day" so that was fresh in my mind and i emailed them telling them about that.

i didn't think anything more of if but the a couple of weeks later got a call from a researcher at the BBC. he originally wanted to come with the presenter Justin on the 29th, but obviously i knew i was in Kent that day. i did say i might beable to get back for early Wednesday morning, but after more thought i decided that wasn't sensible. after telling them that i was expecting them to say never mind, we've got other people we can interview/film. but no, he then suggested the tuesday the next week, the 6th and passed my details onto another collegue who was coming this way.

it then seemed like it was all going to fall through again when she called to say she couldn't make that day, but she did have yet nother collegue who was in Essex the week after. so thats where we are. however i was almost thinking that it wasn't going to happen again as i hadn't heard from this latest researcher. but she called at 7.30pm last night to see if it would be ok to come at 2pm not 1pm. which to be honest works better for me regarding lunch anyway!

so all i have to do in the next 6 hours is tidy the dining room tables, decide what to wear and make myself look presentable, which will take 6 hours alone! had better get started then.....

Friday, 9 November 2007

The Maths on my plastic, metal and glass recycling....

ok, so in the last post I worked out from my clubcard points (about 160 green points) that in the last quarter i've taken 640 items to the recycling centre!!

because its 4 items per point....

that means 640 items on 3 months.....

thats 213 per month....

thats 53 items a week....

thats a rough estimation of 7.6 items per day!

A further thought on plastic bags and shopping

well, it's friday which mean the weekly grocery shopping at Tescos.

i was trying to work out the cheapest way of buying the citrus fruit i like (large clementine/mandarins). they have the offer of 2 nets for £2 which usually give 8 - 10 fruit. but then there's the value citrus fruit net for £1.29. but then i thought about buying them loose and am going to look into the cost of that.

however one of the things that put me off buying loose is those stupid little clear plastic bags, great for lining the bathroom bin but we really don't need any more at the moment. then i thought about how many of those i use each week for the shopping. Pears, brocolli are two other we buy loose and also sometimes tomatoes. they provide paper bags for the mushrooms so that the mushrooms don't sweat - so why not use them for other veg - although the paper bags do have a plastic insert. i mean is it purely so the checkout people can see whats in them? if so what is the difficulty in peeking into the top of a paper bag.

however many young checkout teenagers don't even know what the fruit and veg are! i read on the BBC Food message board about one teenager asking a customer to confirm that what was in the bag was a leek! i can understand with the new exotic fruit and veg they may not know what they are (although surely if you work in a shop you should know the products they stock). for example plantains, moolis, eddoes, pomelos are some that i have had to explain to the person on the checkout.

anyway i'm getting side tracked, the point of my post was that today when i go to tescos i am NOT going to use any of those silly plastic bags for the loose fruit. but then i was thinking "how am i going to put the fruit loose in the trolley without it getting bruised and rolling around. so i think my plan is to put a basket on top on my trolley, or i may find a box home here to put in the trolley so they are separate. i think that makes more sense them i can simply take them home in that too.

maybe one day i'll have to guts to leave ALL the packaging at the checkout when i do the shopping......not in the near future i fear though. and anyway if they stop all the packaging how am i going to get my green clubcard points at the recycling centre? which of course then turn into vouchers which i am saving for a big treat i think rather than spend them on little things. In this last quarters statement i got about 160 green points which is all from the recycling centre at tescos. now its 4 items per point so thats 640 items!!!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Should we ban plastic bags? - The Wright Stuff topic

one of the talking points on The Wright Stuff today was "should we ban plastic bags?"

in my opinion - Yes! they had the lady in devon on the phone who got her village to ban them, the first village/town in the UK to do so. it turns out that she had been in hawaii which due to its location and ocean currents collects all the worlds waste on its beaches. the tourist beaches are cleaned regularly but the more secluded location are only cleaned once a year which results in 4ft (!!!!!) of plastic (mainly, as it doesn't degrade) lining the beaches. they now even have their own cloth bag design

one viewer sent in a text saying that they would miss plastic bags as they are good for cleaning up their dogs mess. well surely something like the cornstarch bags that they used in the village in devon would work just as well.

the only time we use plastic carrier bags is to line the bins. but we are almost at the end of our supply now that we have stopped gainig them from shops. the only time i ever get one is if i'm in a hurry or am distracted and don't realised that the sales assistant has put the item in a bag etc. the reason i think thats it taken so long to use up our "collection" is that now we have the 3 wheelie bins (brown for food waste - which is put in double lined envelopes that we recycle, green for other paper/card, black for non recyclables and i take glass, plastic, tins and cans to tescos recycling centre when i'm passing to get my green points!) we only have 1 maybe 2 carrier bags of rubbish per week.

i have a cloth bag and a plastic Bag For Life in my handbag, and if its only one item, like a net of oranges etc i will just carry it out of the shop after paying. i mean why do you need a carrier bag for one item??!!

it makes me wonder, having seen our own collection that we built up over the years, what people do with all their carrier bags that i see them taking their weekly shopping home in. before we started using our Bags For Life and Bag for Life wine carrier for our shopping we used our old carrier bags until they fell apart.

Lidls have been selling their plastic bags for a while i believe but as they are not one of the biggest supermarkets i think this seems to have gone unnoticed, as on today's Wright Stuff they mention how a major supermarket was going to start charging for their carrier bags, i think it was Marks and Spencer. Yet when you go to Lidls you see most people leaving with either cardboard boxes, which i recall my grandparents doing when i was younger or with their items loose in their trolley.

In April Sainsbury's banned carrier bags for a day.

Tescos recently took away their carrier bags from their checkouts and left it to the checkout assistant to give them out. i don't know if they are told how many to give out etc, but all you have to do is find an assistant who it having a bad day and doesn't care and once again you have more carrier bags given out than you need.

At the beginning of October there was an online petition to ban carrier bags, this was the governments response.

i would love to know what people do with all their carrier bags! please let me know!

Monday, 5 November 2007

A final day in Kent

well, having survived on my own for 2 days and despite feeling lonely i then didn't want to come home. after a final farewell to the other guests and including plucking up the courage to ask for a photo with Richard (came out a bit blurred but i felt rude asing for it to be taken again), i left and headed back into Whistable. i wondered round the town for a bit, picked up an electric coffee which for £3.45 as our old one has finally given up the ghost.

I had hoped to go to the East Quay shellfish bar for lunch, but it turned out that they only opened Thurdays, Fridays and Saturdays. so i thought maybe Wheelers again for a nicefish soup maybe..... but the don't open at all on Wednesdays. so i hunted high and low for somewhere for fish soup. Went into Birdies as they had Lobster Bisque on their menu - except they didn't have any that day.

so eventually i gave up as it was getting late, and settled for a Jacket potato and salad at The Whistlestop. great value at £3.10 but then again it was a basic (but very pleasant) place that did OAP deals for midweek lunches.

by the time i'd finished lunch and got back to the car it was about 3pm, so it was then time to drive straight to Bluewater. i had a wonder round all the shops, stopped at M&S to pick up a snack and a cup of tea, which i they managed to spill down me. then to dinner at Loch Fyne, where i really faniced a shellfish platter, however on their menu they didn't have the half platter like i had when i had lunch at the Loch Fyne restaurant on Loch Fyne. plus it what a lot more money that i would normally spend. but i sill have enough of the money that mum gave me (that grandpa gave to her) which was my budget for my meals, so i decided to have blow it and have a "last supper". the staff where suprised when i ordered it and said i could take anything i didn't eat home with me, as long as it was then eaten the next day it would be fine.

i was kind of pissed off the way the staff kept checking on me, i just wanted to enjoy my meal in piece but because of their fussing it was kind of spoiled. and the thing is what people don't think about is when you are presented with a shellfish platter how much of it you can't practially eat. think of a whole crab - how much of that is shell and how much is meat?

anyway i got my platter which included a whole crab, 3 squat lobster, 4 oysters, 3 langoustine, 3 crevettes (giant prawns), a ramekin of marinated squid and baby octopus, about 30 shell-on prawns and a bowl of cooked mussels and clams. and needless to say i wasn't going to waste it and once i'd got ride of all the shells, heads and skin etc i finished the lot, but then i didn't have anything else with my meal other than slice of bread either.

after dinner i drove the rest of the way home and was home by 9pm, as by that time the traffic was flowing easily. over all a good experience, if a little lonely. but then if i hadn't have gone i would never have met Richard Briers!

Halloween taken to extremes!

Something i found on the BBC News website:

i'm with the elephants! mine are in the garage stored in the dark and cool, waiting to be eaten!

L-R: my mini pumkin i grew this year, a 99p bargin from tescos and a home-grown that was for sale on mum's route home from work - again £1

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Another Day in Kent

Dinner last night at Wheelers was nice, however i didn't feel as happy with it as i expected to. i don't think that was due to the food though. i had a £10 mixed seafood platter (crab meat, shell on prawns, shell off prawns, a crevette, brown shrimps, crayfish, 2 whole baby octopus, mussels, smoked mussels, cockles) with a slice of bread. even through i was still hungry after (i mean room for a dessert, not that the main course wasn't enough as a main course), mentally i just didn't feel like it, so i forgot the cheese and biscuit, picked up a grapefruit at a local somerfield and headed back to the B&B. i think my mood was due to sheer exhaustion because i woke this morning feling a lot better.

Well, it's been a mixed day. Breakfast was a bowl of mixed fruit (fresh, stewed and dried) (pears, prunes, apricots, melon, grapefruit, cranberries, raisins, figs, crytalized ginger) and a slice of toast. My day got all the more exciting at breakfast when Richard Briers walked in with hs wife and sat down to breakfast. i was suddenly filled with this nervous excitement. i felt like i wanted to jump up and down and tell the world but the most i could do was text mum. being a big fan of The Good Life and also Monach of the Glen i recognised him instantly.

i wanted to ask for a photo, and had plenty of opportunity when i stood talking to him and his wife for a good 5 minutes outside our rooms (they are opposite me) after breakfast. but i don't want to be rude or intrude. i'm sure with his level of fame he gets asked a lot but they are here on their own break visiting friends, not here for a photo shoot. so i didn't ask this morning, however i hope i get the chance tomorrow because if i don't do it i will kick myself.

so anyway, after my brief visit to Herne Bay yesterday and discovering there didn't seem to be much there (apart from the place i found for lunch) i asked Linda and Hugh the B&B owners for suggestions. Linda said Broadstairs was a lot prettier and would only take about 30 minutes to get to. so that's where i went. i wondered along the beach there and then through the town, then headed back to Herne Bay for lunch.

Lunch was something i've been wanting to try for a long time but have only know to be available in London and not in the parts of London that i normally go to either - Stewed eels, mash and liquor. the liquor didn't really have much flavour other than the flour they add to the liquid from the eels, and the colour comes from the parsley, but the flavour from that didn't come through. i enjoyed it nevertheless, i just wish the fish was easier to eat, i still can't eat the skin like some people do and there are the odd little bones that detatch themselves from the main spine.

After lunch i headed back along the coast stopping at Reculver Roman fort and villa and then into Canterbury town centre. i wanted to find a farmers market shop, The Goods Shed. i was convinced it was next to Canterbury East station, but no - it was next to Canterbury West. so i walked across town but found a wholefoods store on the way (i had put this on my list of places to visit in town but i left the list in the car!) and bought a big spaghetti squash for £1.50.

i found The Goods Shed, but didn't see anything i felt i had to buy, so i stopped at the cafe for a pear and ginger juice. on my way back into the town centre i spotted my restaurant i'd booked for dinner. After a wander through the town centre to by a lip balm for my poor chapped lips (i think the sea breeze got to them) i stopped for a cuppa and to warm up. i found a M&S Kitchen, a new franchise that M&S seem to have started. apparently this is their trial branch, the only one so far.

then i got the crowded bus back to the car and drove to a car park closer to the restaurant, Cafe Belge. They advertise "mussel 50 different ways", and i went there especially for the mussels. in the end i chose them with tomato, garlic, celery and onion. 1kg pot mussels, a small white crusty bagette and a side salad (i had the salad instead of the frites) just the perfect end to a lovely day and great value for money at £9.95. the service there was lovely and friendly and attentive too and although i booked i don't think i really needed to midweek.

now though i feel like i don't want to go home. i still have a day left though, which i think will be the morning and lunch in whitstable and then the afternoon/evening at Bluewater for a spot of retail therapy, not that i have any plans to buy anything so i might watch a film instead maybe. who knows, lets see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Picnic Hamper part 2

i decided to finish the salad, melba toasts and tiramisu this morning as i wasn't sure if they would keep over night.

so after waking at 6.30am and sewing the fake leather to line the basket, when i heard mum and david awake i went downstairs and started on the tiramisu. i followed the recipe, using marsala instead of amaretto, put then in the glasses i'd bought especially, to a photo and put it in the fridge door as that was the only place in the fridge that they would fit.

i then started on the salad, i put the spinach and watercress in the bowl, the water was boiling for the eggs, i went to put the salad leaves back in the fridge, opened the door and one of the tiramisu glasses fell out and smashed at my feet.

needless to say there were lots of tears, and it had all been going so well. anyway once i had calmed down and david had cleared up the mess for me i realised i still had enough of everything to make more. i think i was just annoyed more that they wouldn't look nice because the glasses would be different, but nevertheless i made another once, so the crisis was averted.

i then boiled, peeled and halved the quail's eggs, added them to the salad leaves, cook the pancetta and added that to the salad when cooled as it couldn't fit through the neck of the bottle i had out for the dressing. made the dressing and thought i was finished - but them remembered the melba toast. i decided to use a coulpe of pitta breads. so put them in the toasted so they opened up, cut them in half, toasted lightly again and then cut into pieces whilst still warm. then i truely was finished!

i packed it all into the basket (thank goodness it fitted!) and presented mum and david with their lunch.

feedback when i spoke to them at lunch time was that it was lovely, david prefered the port and stilton pate whereas mum prefered the fish one. david was starting the salad when i was on the phone to mum so i don't know her thoughts on it yet, and when i spoke to them later i forgot to ask about the pudding, but there weren't any complaints so i guess it went down ok.

Hello from Whistable!

well i made it!

i got to faversham at about 12 midday, except i thought it was 1pm and lunch time because i had forgotten to change the clock in my car and on my phone....oopps! so anyway i just had a little more time to kill, which didn't turn out to be such a bad thing as it took me a while to find somewhere suitable for lunch.

by the time i'd had lunch at a coffee shop near a craft centre which i found when i popped into a farm shop. i bought a very ripe kaki (to keep my poor confused brain going until lunch!) and a guava, something i haven't tried before, and i have to say won't be trying again!

by the time i'd had a bowl of tomato and coriander soup for lunch and a cuppa it was half 2 and time to start looking for the B&B, which wasn't that hard to find.

my room is lovely and cozy with views over the sea looking right over to southend. with an ensuite shower and toilet it's all i need.

after being show my room, meeting the dogs and the cat then dumping my bags, coats and laptop i decided to drive through whitstable town centre to find where i'm booked for dinner tonight, which i again found with no problem but i still have quite worked out where i'm going to park. so then i headed onto Herne Bay. doesn't seem to be all that much there, however i did find a pie and mash place, so i'm going to head back there for lunch tomorrow to have some stewed eels and maybe mash, depending how breakfast goes in the morning.

i've got about half hour now until i think i need to leave to find dinner in time. time to blog about part 2 of the picnic hamper i think!

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Picnic Hamper part 1

well i've made half of it, and so far it all seems to have been successful.
so far i've made the Smoked Mackerel and Avocado Pâté. That was pretty straightforward, although the supposed Tescos Finest Smoked Mackerel Fillets still had about ten bones in each. it said they were hand filleted on the packed - well in which case they need to employ some new staff and sack the current ones!!

i chose the Finest ones because the packet size was smaller. the weight on it was less than 200g where as the smallest normal pack was about 220g and i would have only needed half of that. so after taking the skin off and bones out, i flaked it in large chunks. i had already blended the cream cheese, lemon juice and avocado so that when i added the mackerel i could simply pulse that so that the flakes didn't break up too much. i've put it in the ramekins and covered them with foil and they are now in the fridge. i'm just hoping the colour of the avocado doesn't spoil too much.

the Port and Stilton Pâté was also fairly straightforward, however when finished the colour wasn't good, but maybe that will change once it's set. but it tasted fine despite it's looks...

i made them whilst my pastry for the quice was cooking and i think i may have solved the issue of last time, which was that it just didn't seem to cook through.
but then when david noticed i had the grill tray in the small oven still he explained that when it is in grill mode the heat comes from only the top but when in oven mode it comes from the bottom too and the grill tray was probably blocking the heat coming from the bottom which is why it wasn't cooking through on the bottom.

so i took the grill tray out and within 10-15 minutes is was cooked through perfectly!

i also cooked the mushrooms and bacon out more this time to get rid of more of the liquid, then i added the rocket to wilt and then drained the lot on kitchen paper to make sure all of the water was released, whisked the egg and milk, added the cooked and cooled filling ingredients put back in the oven at a lower temperature for 40 minutes
seems to have worked. the pastry seems crisper than a bought quiche, but maybe thats because it has to sit on shop shelves for a while.

so still to make tomorrow morning is the salad, the melba toasts and the tiramisu