Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple." - Woody Guthrie

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Flowers and a muffin recipe ...

A more refined flower today with the emphasis on restfulness before the return to work next week.  These little beauties are nestled in my green charity shop jug, bought a few years back.  I would have shown you but I can't get a decent picture, probably because I haven't the foggiest what all the buttons on my camera mean.  To think I used to laugh at my mother when she would switch off our old stereo deck at the wall because all the buttons confused her.

Fortunately my short-lived aversion to muffins has subsided. That didn't take long did it?   All because an interesting article in 'The Times' caught my eye, about the seven things you need to know if you are dreaming of setting up your own coffee shop.  Written by Jennie Milsom the co-author of Cafe Life London and owner of Jam and Bread, she also kindly shared her 'hero' product for which customers return again and again.  If it is low calorie you are looking for I suggest, as they say on the football results, "look away now", but they are rather nice.

Jam and Bread's Chocolate and Peanut Butter Muffins


330g self raising flour
150g soft brown sugar
125g peanut butter
60g chocolate spread
60g milk choc chips (they come in 100g bags - throw them all in)
5tbsp vegetable oil
2 large eggs
250ml milk


Preheat the oven to 190C.  In a large bowl, mix the flour with the sugar and a pinch of salt.  In a separate bowl whisk together the peanut butter, chocolate spread, milk choc chips, oil, eggs and milk.  Fold the wet mixture into the flour mix until just combined.  Spoon into 10 muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes until risen and firm to touch.

Enjoy xxx

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Back to School Shoes ...

The end of summer frenzy has started, particularly for those of us who didn't buy our 'back to school' shoes earlier in the season.   Your heart pounds, your pulse races, a film of perspiration gathers on your brow, you wish you hadn't thrown the old pair out.   Just maybe you could have squeezed another term out of them.  You turn the corner, the shoe display conceals a seething mass of lively children and weary adults each clutching their "lottery" ticket.  When did buying a pair of school shoes turn out to be as difficult as getting tickets for the London Olympics?  Fortunately, before you jump in and join the bun-fight the realisation is made that feet have grown.  The relative calm of the adult shoe section awaits you. You grab the first pair of black leather pumps from the display, pay swiftly and get the hell out of there.  So long, farewell, another era ends.  Thank heavens.

For those of you yet to join the scrum....

Good Luck & Happy Shoe Shopping xxx

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Sunday by the seaside ...

There was sunshine, an old fashioned steam-fair, street entertainers, ice-cream & candy floss.  What more could you wish for?   

 Happy Sunday xxx

Friday, 24 August 2012

Friday flowers ...


Whilst choosing my weekend flowers, I noticed an offer "1/3 extra free!".  It took a while for the penny to drop, I did say math is not my strong point.  Yes you guessed it, one extra flower but wow what a flower, big and bold just right for the weekend.

Happy Friday xxx

Thursday, 23 August 2012

It's Vintage Darling ...

One of the advantages of having the 'Turnip' Centre nearby is the influx of vintage shops that warrant a visit or two.  Even better is that whilst pricey, they offer better value than similar outfitters further up the coast.  However, if I am found anywhere near this little shop I am going to have to be arrested.  You know the addage 'it could have been made for you' well that's the problem here, together with it seeming so eco friendly to be recycling especially when it looks so damn good but the fact is that as hard as I try I can't push anymore into my wardrobe.

Unfortunately this store was closed for the day, but as Arnie once said "I'll be back".

Another obsession of mine is Blue Plaques, official or unofficial, here are two from Margate's heyday.

Hattie might have been curvaceous but she wore some great frocks.

And this man had me falling off the sofa with laughter when I was a child.

Happy Days xxx

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Fabulous Baking Boy ...

 I don't know about you but I am good for nothing at 32 degrees celsius.  I can just about drag myself to the bedroom for a siesta (afternoon nap if you are reading this in the South of England).  My Celtic blood is only good for marauding on these fair isles and in very temperate weather.  Although I might have been just the ticket for the days of the Raj, taking to my bed as often as I have this weekend with what I am going to term from now on as an "attack of the vapours".

Fortunately there are others who are made of sterner stuff around these parts who can be found baking bread at 7 am and who will knock up home made pizza for tea, despite their team being beaten 5-0. 

Happy Sunday xxx

Friday, 17 August 2012

Friday flowers ...

Even if I don't have anything to blog about in the future there will always be flowers and cake.

Raspberry muffins, the recipe I settled on for the baking club I joined.

There were some amazing muffin recipes shared on our first night including to name only a few, liquorice, welsh rarebit, chorizo and my particular favourite; a Parmesan cheese & chilli muffin.  However I may be cured of any residual passion for muffins having also road tested four recipes before the first meeting, well for a while at least. 

I  also made the effort to return to my old craft club to while away a pleasant couple of hours. 

Nothing too complex is worked on as the time is spent listening to others or chatting depending how the mood takes you.

I took this along to knit a turban, which is described in the book as 'a chic form of head wear, often associated with glamorous movie stars in their changing rooms between takes'.  That'll be me then!

Happy Friday xxx

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Beautiful car boot fairs ...

I had half a mind not to go to the bootfair today because a detour to the petrol station took us closer to 'Broadstairs Folk Week'.  I don't know about you but I have a particular approach when it comes to bootfairs.  I am not a rummager, I was never very good at jumble sales, my Dad went nuts when I brought home a pair of second-hand womens' shoes when I was eleven.  They would probably be quite fashionable now, because if I remember rightly they were winkle-pickers.  Oh yeah of little faith.  Anyway I do have an eye for the type of stall that might provide me with a little gem.   I would describe myself as a middle of the aisle scanner, walking whenever possible down the centre sweeping my eyes from left to right.  So I was particularly glad I chose the bootfair option to hone my scanning skills because this little fella was awaiting a new home.

On the way I was asked what I would be looking for, I call it 'the Fear' like the Lily Allen song.  So I merrily trotted off a list of  'no more brooches, I have enough, no more sparkly necklaces, I have enough (that's a blog post for another time) and no more table-cloths'.

That worked until I spied this little beauty across the bonnet of a car.

The two pillowcases are in perfect condition and were 20p, for heaven sake what can you buy for 20p these days.   So all in all three super little items, with cash left over from my £5 budget and we still managed an afternoon walk into Broadstairs.  It was all very busy there but I am more of a Jazz girl, so not really my scene.

My muffin making also knows no bounds and these were whipped up whilst listening to show tunes on Radio 2 with EP.  My first savoury recipe, Feta, Cheddar & Chive from this book Picnics by David Herbert

My technical director and editor-in-chief suggested the next time I make these I should crumble the feta rather than chop it.  Good suggestion but if you are not mad on feta, chopped pieces mean you can fish them out and still enjoy a good cheesy muffin.
Yummy days xxx

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Morning constitutional ...

Just in case either of us forget our anniversary in future, here is a photo of my anniversary present. It was supposed to be my Christmas present but somehow it got stuck to the wall and won't come off!  

The weather was really fine today, so much so that I am now modelling a fashionably pink nose and not from G&T.  Here are some pictures of the morning walk to the 'Monkey Sanctuary'.  No monkeys included.

Later a visit was made to Sandwich where they were holding a 1940s fair, no pictures as it was a little too crowded but we watched a show by the Cinque Ports Lindy Hoppers and Helles Belles.  Pity there isn't a local group as it seems a more civilised form of getting fit rather than sweating through a Zumba class in stretch lycra.  So instead of dancers here are some boats on the quay at Sandwich.

Happy weekend xxx

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Friday flowers on a Thursday ...

Every girl loves a bunch of flowers and I am no exception.   I do try to keep my expenditure as low as possible, but a bunch of something pretty each week cheers me.

Spent a day out of my comfort zone, whatever that is these days, with some great people in a setting I don't generally experience.

Lunch was partaken here The Greedy Cow and someone who shall remain nameless may have eyes too big for their belly.

A novel way of propping open a window.  Don't you just love that window film?  I do, I stroke it everytime I eat here, yes sad I know.

And of course a coffee shot!

Managed to make some muffins from the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days which is winging its way to me at a knock-down price from the Book People.  Oh yes, of course, I needed another baking book.  The only problem with the recipe apart from the fact that they are a heart-attack in muffin case, never has it been known in this house to use up a full jar of Nutella in a year, this took one evening (30 minutes actually) but with a quick gust of wind the topping takes off across the kitchen and in one instance is evenly distributed across someones bed.

Happy Days xxx

Sunday, 5 August 2012

One Lovely Blogger ...

Wow!  Only a couple of weeks in and I have been given an award from one of my new bloggy friends!   The lovely & kind Claire at Thriftwood

So here goes 7 things about me:

1. I achieved 98% for my final written exam in Needlework at school, couldn't sew for toffee. All in all I am a frustrated crafter who really should have been adopted by some talented granny who would have taught me to crochet in my younger years. Hold on, wait a minute; someone did try but I was young, I was foolish, I didn't pay attention.

2. When I was eleven I danced on the stage at Covent Garden.  Not professional dancing just a quick audition one day at school assembly and there we were, some ragamuffins; part of the cast of Eugene Onegin.  It was a lovely experience, but my only claim to fame unless you include bumping into Vic Reeves & his family in Wagamama, Canterbury.

3. I have a shocking sweet tooth, which is ever present.  Not for chocolate which I really have to fancy, but a pure 4oz sugar blast from one of those old fashioned sweet shops.  Somehow saying 100g doesn't have the same effect for me. 

4. If you remember Celia Imrie in Dinner Ladies that's me. Couldn't count so ended up with a career in HR. I am not joking, forgot everything I was taught in Maths at school so didn't end up on the accountancy trainee scheme.

5.  I have two men in my life and one is my hairdresser who I have to say I have strayed from over the years but I have been forgiven and our relationship has gone on from strength to strength.  Miracle worker that's all I can say...

6. I am dyslexic and whilst I don't like labels the late diagnosis has helped explain a few things for me.  Unfortunately the creativity doesn't seem to have rubbed off, am I not supposed to be an artist or some great genius like Einstein?

7. I am a big old softy and I cry at the drop of a hat, so much so that I think I have a permanent horizontal water-line across the centre of my eyes. 

Enough of me, already.

There were so many I would have liked to nominate but I had to narrow it down to the following inspirational bloggers.

At home with red  - super photography

Frugal Queen - keeps me in check when I am being a complete dork with my finances

Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing - now that's what I call sewing

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Wonderful Whitstable ...

Spent a couple of hours in Whitstable with the express purpose of buying a pink polka dot waste bin from the incredible ironmongers they have there.  They still stock fly papers and moth balls, yes moth balls.  It really is a treasury of bits and bobs.  If you need it I am sure they stock it.  They even sell second-hand china, which some might call vintage.  Upstairs there was also a small selection of second-hand furniture in a room that still had its original 1970s wallpaper and some fabulously loud curtains of the same period.  I could only just contain myself from tearing them from the curtain rails and whipping up a few cushions.  Somehow I don't think they would have been impressed with the loss of their window treatments.  We used to have a similar store in our town, but sadly it closed down a few years ago, much to be said for 'if you don't use it you lose it'.

Famed for its Oyster festival and seafood stalls, a pleasant afternoon or weekend can be spent there.  However the thought of eating oysters is wasted on me, I just don't get it.  Call me a philistine if you wish, I expect I must have missed out on my culinary education somewhere along the way.  As for whelks don't even go there, just like chewing an alien that has stepped off the set of Doctor Who.  Whitstable has a name for being called 'London by the Sea' with its liberal smattering of Farrow & Ball and bunting together with its twee range of little independent shops and celeb spotting reputation.  But hey we all need a little escapism from time to time.

Whilst there I also visited the Seaside Brocante that was taking place.  Some nice stalls including one selling great costume jewellery - all sparkly - my favourite but way beyond my price range, could almost buy a whole outfit for the price of a necklace.  I must remember when I ask how much, I need to multiply up from boot-fair prices and add some.

We also took in a little art exhibition.  Particularly liked this Tracey Emin portrait made from torn pieces of paper.

Whilst walking along the quay I managed to pick up a green faceted glass  necklace for the princely sum of £1 from a little charity stall.  Now that's more like it, unfortunately I may need a new dress to go with it!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Friday favourites ...

Having spent a number of years lurking on the edge of the blog world, I have read a number of posts which have talked about the presentation of a positive face on the internet.  As a result I am conscious of my blog not becoming a bit like wearing your best party frock every day but still an opportunity to celebrate the simple things.  I don't have a la-de-da life swanning around all sorts of amazing places (nothing wrong with that) but I would like to be able to share some humour and some of the little gems that make the corner of the world I live in that bit nicer.  Also a by-product might be an improvement in my camera skills, which would be useful given that I only started reading the instruction book last Saturday having owned the camera for four years.   So I thought instead of sharing my weekly shop with you today, I would share a couple of the sights and places around here that I feel are the icing on the mundane cake of life.

A view out to sea.

A cream slice from this lovely place.

A fried breakfast &

churros y chocolate,

on proper old fashioned formica tables here.