Saturday, 30 March 2013

Lazy Saturday pics

Sandals, cinnamon toast, Lilly the cat and art

Alligators and Frozen Yoghurt

Today was a good day with a walk on the prairie observing the wildlife (which did involve rather a lot of gators sunning themselves at the water's edge

With a lovely tub of frozen yoghurt (and loads of toppings!) to revive us after our hike

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Cool Florida

Yes, I do believe Florida is a cool place to be as it has a lot going for it.  But I seem to have brought the British weather me as the sunshine state is currently experiencing some near record low temperatures for the time of year.  Today we visited the coastline of North East Florida but our beachwear today was jeans and fleecy tops as we walked in the bracing air.


Monday, 25 March 2013

Sussex lifestyle in Florida

I'm currently visiting relatives in the USA so posts will have a different feel this week - I'll mostly be sharing some of my favourite photos and letting the pictures speak for themselves...

Monday, 18 March 2013

Sunburst Squash

I mentioned just over a week ago that the Sunburst Squash was one of my best performers in the garden last year.  Well this picture was taken 8 days after planting and looks as though it could be a bit of a winner this year too....

This picture is already out of date as measuring the plants today, they are already 16cm tall.  They need to stay in the house for a little while yet though as are far too tender to brave the great outdoors for the moment!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Afternoon Tea

Something the English always do well is afternoon tea.  Its been a bit of a wet and grey week-end but it was made cheerful by meeting up with the girls at a country hotel for afternoon tea.

We were there for almost 3 hours just chatting, eating delightful sandwiches, cake and scones with jam and clotted cream and fresh strawberries.  We also drank quite a lot of tea!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Spring Beauty in a Basket

Today I must have been in the right place at the right time as I had just popped into the local Co-op store for some bread and milk, and noticed this little basket at the front of the store on the "reduced items" shelf

bargain basket

Reduced from £10 to £2.50, it was a basket filled with ivy, narcissi and some pink/yellow flowers (which I think may by cyclamen but I'm not too sure!).  All quite healthy looking plants though.  At the moment they are providing a cheery welcome in the hallway by the front door.  Soon, they'll go on the other side of the front door outside and as they are all plants that will be happy in the shade, hopefully they will flourish in our north facing front garden.

The basket was also decorated with a rustic wicker heart and a gingham ribbon.  So, with the 3 plants, the basket, the heart and the ribbon this was a pretty good deal for £2.50 as I avidly recycle and reinvent things so all of these items will be put to future use somewhere else!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Yet More Snow

We woke up on Monday morning to little bits of floaty snow in the air but as the day went on, the little floaty bits got bigger and came down faster.  The wind picked up and blew them around in swirls.  By tea time, we were deep in snow and it had drifted into pretty draped shapes all over the place (but by then it was cold and dark and I didn't feel like venturing out with my camera!).

The snow stopped overnight but by the next morning it had started again and everywhere was looking very pretty.  The Buddha in the garden looked as though he was wrapped up in a white shawl and woolly hat.

I was feeling sorry for the chickens so to get them off to a warm start, I mixed their usual chicken feed with some hot water - like Ready Brek for chickens - they loved it (don't worry, it wasn't too hot by the time it reached them!)  And then, sensible chickens that they are, when they had finished their breakfast, they decided to go back into their house again where it was warm and dry.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Grey Day

Today it just seemed very grey out there - the sky, the sea, the people, the light in general.  We wrapped up with loads of layers and headed out west on our bikes along the seafront.  There was a group of "teenager" seagulls looking very bored, as if they were waiting for something to happen ...

bored teenagers

We did a little bit of shopping in town and went to a cafe to provide energy for the long ride back home in the biting north easterly wind

teabread and cappuccino

Cycling across the river via the Old Tollbridge meant we were almost home

Now cosy at home, waiting for the snow to arrive ... 

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Best Ever Gluten Free Banana & Chocolate Chip Muffins

Well that's what Ade said when he tasted these and particularly liked the "surprise" element of the chunky chocolate chips.  Made with soya flour, which I've never used before, as it was on special deal at the supermarket so thought I'd give it a go.  It worked well and the muffins had a lovely, light texture.  They are quite "healthy" as far as muffins go as use less sugar than usual because they get their sweetness from the banana and the chocolate. 

gluten free banana and chocolate chip muffins

Here's how I made them:

Ingredients:  (the yoghurt pot will also be your measuring cup)

1 small pot of yoghurt (I used a 125g peach yoghurt)
1 cup of vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
1 and a half cups of sugar
3 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 cups soya flower
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 medium (ripe) banana - mashed
100g bar of plain chocolate

(makes 12 very scrummy muffins)

  • Empty yoghurt into a mixing bowl
  • Add vegetable oil and sugar and stir well
  • Lightly whisk eggs in a separate bowl then add to other ingredients
  • Add vanilla essence
  • Sift (or gradually mix) flour and baking powder into mixture
  • Add banana (but do not over-mix)
  • Next the noisy bit - keep the chocolate in the wrapper and bash with a rolling pin to break it up into small chunks - aim for about the size of a squashed raisin - some will be bigger and some will be smaller, but that's ok.  
  • Add the chocolate to the mixture and pour into 12 muffin cases or silicone mould
  • Bake in the centre of a pre-heated oven at 180-200 degrees C for 25 - 30 mins.  Oven temperatures will vary but you will know when they are cooked properly as inserting a clean knife into one of the muffins should come out clean.
  • Remove from oven when cooked, leave to stand for 5 mins then cool on a wire rack

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

And So The Growing Season Begins ...

I now have quite an accumulation of fruit and veg seeds in my collection - some old faithfuls from last year and some exciting new ones for this year. Now that March has arrived, I have started to sow the first seeds.  

It would be easy to get overwhelmed if I really thought about how many seeds I have stored ready for sowing, so I have a system of sowing just a few seeds at a time, start them off on a sunny windowsill and after a week or so move them on to another windowsill to make way for the next batch.  

seeds germinating on a sunny windowsill

The first seeds have got off to a really good start as today has been a lovely sunny day - just what they need to warm them up!

Today I sowed Goji Berries, Inca Berries and Sunburst Squash

Squash (Summer), Sunburst F1 AGM Seeds

Sunburst Squash - one of my best performers last year 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Bikes and Boats

This morning we went on a bike ride along the sea front and into Brighton and beyond.  It meant we had to cross the lock which carries boats in and out of the harbour.  There must have been a sailing event on today as a lot of boats needed to go through the lock and our wait was longer than usual.

Whilst we were waiting to go through the lock gates, we got chatting to a man who was in training for a round the world cycle trip.  He's hoping to support the British Heart Foundation and also the Dogs Trust (which seemed appropriate as we appeared to be surrounded by an assortment of dogs who were coming back from their walk along the beach).

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Its All About The Beads

First the bad news - felt-making has to go on hold for the moment due to a wrist injury, so no more bags for a while.  I do, however, have some smaller pieces ready to be assembled so am happy to say will still be able to make up more brooches and hair decorations.

Now the good news - I will be concentrating my creative efforts on jewellery in the next month or so.  We are talking bracelets, necklaces, earrings, brooches and key rings.

I'm also thinking ahead to Spring and Summer colours and took delivery of some gorgeous new beads this week, so can't wait to make them up into beautiful accessories for sale in my Folksy shop