In The Studio

  • This week...or two

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    Good Morning everyone! (it is just about morning) How are you all?

    Man have the past few weeks been hectic, I opened a shop, I have had multiple sales in said shop, I had no internet for a whole 4 days because someone cut the lines, I am considering making youtube videos again (if you are from really far back in the day, we are talking years, I used to do youtube) there have been celebrations with friends and family, days out and a whole lot of work, crowned with a miserable sick day last monday. It has been a bit of a whirlwind, but I have to admit I have never felt this good about what I am doing with my life, I feel creative and productive in new ways, I have realised that I am actually really good at something (drawing) and people like my stuff. Nothing can really explain how happy that has made me.

    Today is a glorious day and I shall be spending most of it inside, unfortunate but necessary, as I have taken a long weekend off from work in order to get stuff done. I have a mountain of tasks I need to sort out for my shop, I am taking a break from finishing off my latest design as we speak (read?) and I have the mammoth task of getting ready for my summer holiday, which is in T-minus 22 days and I have nothing sorted, I haven't even made a list! I will be heading to my Mum's in a bit to sort out seats and boarding passes and what on earth I need to be taking with me, I am really so not a holiday person, I have been watching every holiday packing and carry on packing video on youtube, and maybe a few USA hauls to get ideas too. ; )

     

     

    So a few things lately that have really made me euphorically happy:

     

    - Opening my Easy shop, I went from "oh maybe i will do that" to "its open!" in the space of about a week, as an eternal procrastinator on the big things in life I honestly never really thought I would do it until I had done, it is the first time in my life I have really acted on a big complicated decision and I am so glad I did. Mr Branson was always one of my Dad's idols, and my Dad always used to get on at us to take chances and always say yes, I like to think he would be very proud of what I am doing right now.

     

    - Sausage dogs, we visited our friends in Norfolk the other weekend and they have the most adorable sausages, and now I really really want one!

     

    - Watercolour painting, I have never been one for paint, I am more of a doodler, but I have developed i real love for the soft edges of watercolour. I am planning a couple of little homey DIY's featuring the stuff.

     

    - Lemon Vanilla Frappuccino's, I am almost ashamed to admit how many of these I have consumed in the past 2 weeks (five...) If you love lemon curd, lemon cheesecake, anything lemony and sweet, get yourself to Starbucks pronto!

     

    - Lots of lovely new readers, It always gives me a little smile to get my Bloglovin' update! Welcome, have a seat, would you like a cup of tea and a biccy?

     

    - Music! I have always loved music, I am a listener rather than a player, but i recently invested in a new set of headphones as Bert chewed through the wire on my old ones. I now have a new love and I will be featuring my favourite ways to listen in a special post on sunday.

     

    - Spending time with my family, it was my Grandma's 80th birthday a couple of weekends ago, and it is rare for us all to get together. We had a gorgeous meal, there was a beautiful cake, and we all gathered the next day in my Grandma's front room just like when we were little. It warms my heart.

     

    - The cups of tea that periodically arrive at my desk while I beaver away. I am eternally grateful for that man of mine, he has always said I should sell my creations and I never took him seriously, he is being very supportive about how time consuming setting up has been and I love him for it.

     

    - Bert is officially a grown up cat, he had his first successful hunt the other day, and although i was grossed out and don't deal well with small dead rodents, I also felt quite proud, he has really developed from being the meekest creature ever into being a proper cat.

     

    - Author talks in cosy settings. I went to see one of my favourite local authors (David Mark, brilliant crime writer if you are in the market for something new) speak at Lindum books last week, I have seen him before but he is always a joy, he is brutally honest about other authors, always has funny anecdotes to share and is so full of energy. Definitely worth checking out.

     

    - My cousin visiting from New Zealand, we only see him about once a year, and he is always a hoot to be around!

     

    - Tiny raspberries and Blueberries, perfectly ripe. I honestly thought I would get fruit from my plants this year, although they are only small harvests, they were delicious.

     

    - Sending good old fashioned snail mail to my sister in New Jersey, all too often we iMessage, email or catch up via snapchat, it was nice to write to her.

     

    This weekend I will be:

    Reading: Something fluffy, I have finished my super secret project I have been working on so I can get back to normal reading!

    Eating: Healthily, time to enjoy summer's harvest.

    Doing: Visiting the angel of the north, fingers crossed the weather holds out!

    Spending: lots of money on Holiday stuff I imagine!!

     

    I am sure I could ramble on about more, but I will stop there for this update, fingers crossed I can get back in the swing of things, I have missed these little posts :)

    Have a great weekend!

  • Harvest ::

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    Mangetout you have grown to be absolutely ferocious, you're everywhere despite your new larger poles and wires, but we forgive you, because you are delicious.

     

    Strawberries, few, precious and delectably sweet. Next year do be more generous with your fruit.

     

    Supermarket Basil, I thought you long past it but there are fresh new leaves on your tops.

     

    I don't know if anyone has ever told you, but did you know, gardening can be mighty rewarding.

     

  • Midweek meal :: Steak Sarnie

       

     

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    What with all the nice weather we have been having James and I have been making an effort to have lighter, summery dinners, no easy feat when fish and poultry are excluded from the meal plan (James doesn't like them).

    One of the meals I have been falling back on has been my variation on Jamie Oliver's Steak Sarnie. I am not usually a fan of sandwiches at all, his is pretty epic but we discovered that it can be made that little bit better with the addition of my favourite garlic mushrooms.

     

    This is a bit of a luxe sandwich, no doubt about that, but if you want something really filling, a proper meal, but which isn't too hot or heavy for humid days this is a great one. Creamy mushrooms add depth to the meaty steak, while the peppery rocket and the fragrant peppers add a zing that cuts through and keeps things fresh. This is a bit of a party in your mouth kind of meal!

     

    You will need:

    1 Steak, thick cut. I used sirloin, but good rump will do.

    1 Large ciabatta bread

    2 handfuls of rocket

    Roasted red peppers, either shop bought or home made (see this post for how I made mine)

    1 Clove Garlic

    2 Tbsp Creme Fresh

    100g Mushrooms

    Handful fresh sprigs of thyme.

    Olive Oil drizzle.

     

    - Start by getting your mushrooms on the go. You need to set a small frying pan over a medium heat and melt a knob of butter with a drizzle of oil. Finely chop your garlic and toss it into the oil.

     

    - Slice your mushrooms and put them in the pan, coat them with the oil/butter combo and then allow to slowly cook.

     

    - Slice up your peppers if they aren't already and set aside. Time to prep your steak. Salt and pepper each side, drizzle with your olive oil and then sprinkle with a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, stripped from the stems. Work the seasoning into the meat with your fingers.

     

    - Get your grill pan ready, it needs to be very hot. Stir your mushrooms to keep an eye on them while the grill pan heats up. Grill your steak, I like mine rare so I only cook for a few minutes on each side, if you like it well done cook it for longer. Once done to your preference, place on a board and cover with foil to rest.

     

    - Once your mushrooms are browned, turn the heat down to low and add your creme fresh. Stir gently and season with salt and pepper and let bubble for a couple more minutes.

     

    - Turn on the grill in the oven, slice your ciabatta along the full length and toast the cut sides lightly under the grill. Once done, drizzle with olive oil and top with rocket.

     

    - Time to slice up your steak, do this on a diagonal. Once sliced up mix with the sliced red peppers so that the juices mingle. Pile the peppers and steak on top of the rocket in the ciabatta. spread the mushrooms evenly over the top and pop your lid on your sandwich.

     

    - Cut down the middle and share, we both only ever manage half each!

     

    Let me know if you tried this, and let me know what your favourite sandwiches are!

     

  • Lincoln Castle + 1940's Weekend

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    Skirt :: Boden | Tee :: Gap | Shoes :: Clarks | Sunnies :: Chanel (Similar) | Cardi :: Old

     

     

    A few weekends back, on a glorious sunny June day James and I headed into Lincoln intent on wandering around the cathedral quarter, for it was the 40's weekend, and it was set to be a good one!

     

    We set off fairly early, parked up and set off up steep hill, admiring the taped up windows, period dress and quaint window displays. We had to stop off for some homemade fudge at Roly's after sniffing it being freshly cut on the way past.

     

     

     

    Our ultimate goal was to head to the Castle. I had been really feeling like I missed out having already had plans on the day that Libraries and Heritage staff got to visit for free prior to opening and had a hankering to visit. When you hear so much about a project you want to see the end product! We had a wander around the vehicles parked at the top of the hill, I posed next to a lorry like the one my grandma drove in the war (awful picture, won't be sharing!) and admired an old Lincolnshire stagecoach bus before heading over to the castle.

     

     

    The grounds are free to enter, so lovely if you just fancy sitting on the lawn and enjoying an ice cream. If however you want to walk the walls, visit the victorian prison or see the Magna Carta you have to pay. Tickets are tiered, but honestly the best value is to just get the all in ticket!

     

    We ended up purchasing the Castle and Cathedral tickets, I have always wanted to go see the Wren library at the Cathedral and have yet to manage it. It has funny opening hours and, determined to do it this year, I figured if we already had the tickets it would remove a hurdle. The Castle and Cathedral tickets set us back £16 per person, but they also include a return trip within 6 months, obviously we only live 20 miles away so we will be taking advantage.

     

     

    We started with a stroll around the walls, the view was spectacular! We climbed the turret, saw the graves in Lucy Tower (where they used to do the hangings) and even spotted a couple having their wedding pictures taken. I absolutely loved this part of the trip, there are little boards telling you little details all the way round, the tree in the middle of Lucy Tower was a surprise, and the tranquility in the little room below the turret was serene.

     

    I think the couple having their pictures taken really lucked out, it is probably the best place in the whole city. Right at the front you have an amazing view of the cathedral, and while we were up there we also got a fly past of the Dakota, prizes for best wedding picture of the year would definitely be heading their way!

     

     

    After we had our fill of the view, I was desperate to go to Prison, to visit of course! Lincoln's retired victorian prison is pretty special as it was built during the hight of the separate system. The prisoners were kept separated always, during exercise (in the crescent shaped yard) and even while in the chapel. It was a bit eerie to imagine that they would have been preached to while confined in wooden boxes.

     

    This all went to pot when they ended up with too many prisoners of course! One of the things that struck me was how similar to the modern prison it was, though just smaller, there were hardly any cells at all. Of course they didn't have a prison library, but the prisoners were taught to read and write while there, so that little pile of books did give me a little smile.

     

     

    The last part we stopped in on was the Magna Carta. I have never really been that fascinated by it, but honestly I think i just didn't know the story. The dramatisation in the theatre is brilliant, especially for helping keep track of which king was which. Guides were on hand to point out the little details too. I love that we know that the Lincoln Magna Carta was definitely destined for Lincoln and not simply pinched as it has "Lincolnia" written on the back, as you would an address. I was struck by how small it was, and of course we got to discussing the one that has recently been found with the guides. I know from experience that cathedrals are notorious for having sprawling collections and no records, so who knows how many will have survived tucked inside other volumes in years to come!

     

     

    I am really looking forward to heading back, which is not something I would usually say when it comes to visiting an attraction. The wall walk alone is worth another visit. If you have a weekend spare and fancy a trip to Lincoln make sure you add this to your list!

     

  • This Week

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    Hello everyone, happy Friday!

     

    Friday this week is sort of lost on me, as I decided on Wednesday to take the rest of the week off. I had accrued a lot of time in lieu working on my big project, and it is now pretty much complete (Yay!!) so as exhaustion was about to hit I decided I needed to have a bit of a break. So today feels like Sunday, hope you all had a great weekend! ;)

     

    These two days have been invaluable though, I got to claim back some much needed sleep, work on a few home things that needed doing (my mangetout are out of control, they needed reigning back in big time!) and it gives me a chance to get back into my blog schedule. I have so many food posts coming your way over the next few weeks you would be forgiven for thinking that all I do is eat, I also have a couple of fun days out I documented that I want to share too.

     

     

    So without further ado, here are a few of the best moments of this past week:

     

     

    - Saturday night BBQ's with friends (though we missed those who couldn't join us) ending in s'mores made with homemade graham crackers.

     

     

    - The combination of exhaustion and exhilaration I felt Tuesday when all the boxes were packed, labelled and lined up to come back to my office, I cannot explain it, except that if you have ever moved house it is fairly similar.

     

     

    - Baby kittens Olive and Daisy, who I met last night and was too busy cuddling to take pictures of, they are adorable and now I want to get Bert a friend.

     

     

    - The first ripened strawberry from my plants, I was so excited to see it, and since I plucked this little guy from the stem more have ripened too! A large vat of cream is in order.

     

     

    - The bunch of flowers waiting for me when I got home Tuesday, James never fails to surprise me.

     

     

    - Whizzing up homemade hollandaise in the blender for poached eggs on muffins. Breakfast of kings.

     

     

    - All the lovely new Bloglovin followers, hello, and welcome!

     

     

    This weekend I will be:

    Reading: Blog posts, time for catch up and comment time!

    Listening: I'm a little obsessed by the new song by The Weekend, he sounds exactly like Michael Jackson and I am baffled every single time I hear it.

    Doing: Possibly a visit to Lincoln Cathedral, definitely more bike rides.

    Hope you all have a great weekend, lets hope the weather holds out and stays glorious!

  • This Week

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    A bumper this week for you today as I missed last friday. The past two weeks have been one word, hectic!

    I am sort of in the eye of the storm for the big project I have been working on, half way there and the past few days have been all about getting ready for the next leg, which i know if going to be super tiring.

     

    At home I have been working on something new. I have always been a stationery nerd, I have mentioned my filofax and how much I love it to blog plan before. I have always made my own inserts, but recently I have branched into making my own decorative stickers too. I have been ordering them online for ages and the shipping from the states is extortionate, ten packs of stickers from Etsy actually covers the cost of my die cutting machine alone! I finally made my first sheet with the correct cutting settings last night and I am so proud!

    James went galavanting last week, he was at Le Mans with work as his boss was in the legends race. It was the first time we have been apart for more than a night since we moved in together and it was honestly weird. I found myself not realising what time it was, and missing the company quickly. He had a great time, came back lobster red, and it was an experience not many get to have so for a huge Le Mans fan it was a dream for him.

     

    Here are a few things that have made me happy this fortnight:

     

    - Ice cream, and fruit smoothies, I got a box of 7 mangoes for £4 last weekend from Sainsbury's, my freezer is overflowing!

     

    - High fives after a job well done, teamwork really is so satisfying and I have one of the best teams around.

     

    - James walking back through the door after being away, just sitting down with a cup of tea and updating each other about all that had happened, I missed him so.

     

    - Bert looking out his little door at the outside world, he is convinced it is a window just the right hight for him.

     

    - My Mum inviting me around for tea after James had been gone a few days. It was so nice to spend a bit of Mum - daughter time, and we had fish and chips!!

     

    - Waking up to find my sourdough starter bubbling away. Post to come soon!

     

    - Driving over the Humber Bridge on Sunday, I have never driven over before and it really is a beautiful little drive.

     

    - Doodling, if I thought mindful adult colouring was fun, its nothing on doodling my own little designs and then sticking them in my diary. My next challenge is to draw a teacup, not as simple as it sounds!

     

    - Admiring everything in the summer sales, I am on a no spend now until my holiday in August, all I am allowed to buy is things I will need, like shorts. Summer dresses are not really suited to rollercoasters.

     

     

    This weekend I will be:

    Reading: Lots and Lots, I have been invited to be on the panel for something and have 5 proofs sat waiting to be devoured.

    Listening : James Bay, can't get enough of him!

    Watching: The Good Wife, Mum and I started it when I went round for tea and I am hooked! Thanks for the heads up Rosie!

    Eating: BBQ, Please hold up English weather!!

    How has your fortnight been? Have you done anything fun? Let me know in the comments :)

  • Lunch | Spinach and Red Pepper Quiche

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    I have a bit of a confession to make, Quiche, the perfect picnic food, is not my favourite. I loathe quiche Lorraine, it actually now makes me feel a bit ill. I find it far too imbalanced for my palate, I need some greenery in there.

     

    I do however have a particular quiche that I love, and that is the Higgidy spinach, red pepper and feta quiche, usually crustless. Now Higgidy quiche this is not, it is really no where near as theirs is béchamel based, but this brings a little bit of those Mediterranean flavours into an easier make version. You can whip this up on a Sunday, pop it in the fridge and cut off a slice to take for lunch every day.

     

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    You Will Need:

    1 batch of shortcrust pastry, or to make your own: 280g Plain Flour, 60g Lard and 60g Butter, 1tsp Poppy Seeds, splash or two of milk.

    1 small red onion sliced

    240g Spinach

    3 Small red peppers, roasted and peeled

    Feta Cheese

    70g Cheddar Cheese, grated

    3 Duck Eggs, or 4 standard normal eggs

    For the Béchamel, 40g Butter, 40g Flour, 230ml Milk

     

     

    - To Make my favourite pastry, cut the fats into cubes and put in a dish with the flour and gently toss with your hands to coat. Put the dish in the freezer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove from the freezer and put in your food processor. Pulse while slowly adding milk until just combined. Season with salt and pepper and add the poppy seeds. Work together with your hands into a ball and cover and rest in the fridge.

     

    - While the pastry rests, roast your peppers if you intend to do so. Turn your oven up as high as it will go and put the peppers in on a baking tray for 30 Minutes. They are done when the skins are charred. Allow to cool and remove the stems and skin. Slice up, make sure to store any you have left over in an airtight jar.

     

    - Time to sauté your onions in a small knob of butter until just golden, add your spinach and toss until wilted.

     

    - Remove your pastry from the fridge and roll out. Grease your dish and add your pastry, crimp the edges if you want to be fancy, then blind bake using baking beans at 180 degrees for 25 minutes.

     

    - Make your cheats béchamel (not really béchamel at all, i know) by melting your butter in a saucepan, add the flour and mix to make a roux. Cook for a couple of minutes before slowly adding your milk, mixing all the time. Once the milk is all incorporated and the sauce has cooked for a couple of minutes more, remove your pan from the heat and add your cheddar to melt into the sauce.

     

    - Whisk your eggs. When the béchamel is cool add the eggs and whisk together. Remove your crust from the oven and lay the spinach and onions over the bottom of the crust. Pour over your filling evenly and top with pepper strips and crumbled chunks of feta. Be generous, I was far too mean with my toppings!

     

    - Cook in the oven for 40 minutes until golden on top.

     

    Do you have a favourite Quiche recipe I might like?

     

    P.S. What is it about the word Quiche, I cannot help but capitalise it, maybe because of the Q and the Queen?! I have had to go back and grammar check the whole post for errant capital Q's!!

     

  • A Trip to Spurn Point

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    Coat :: Barbour | Top :: Gap | Jeans :: Next 

    Scarf :: Zara (old) | Boots :: Kurt Geiger (old) | Bag :: Mulberry

    Way back on Valentine's day this year, we made a little trek out to Spurn Point. James had been earlier in the month for a car do and I hadn't gone with him, he was exclaiming about the wonderful view and how much I would love it, so he surprised me with a day trip out and insisted we go.

    The whole journey there the clouds above seemed to be getting heavier and more ominous, the forecast was far from brilliant and I was wondering if we shouldn't make new plans. We carried on though, James determined that I experience the point. On the final approach the clouds shifted and the sun shone through. It doesn't look it in these pictures but the sky was a lovely blue for most of our visit, and I was so glad that we had continued on.

    We arrived, parked the car and set of wandering. I handed James the camera (he doesn't claim to really like photography but he does get snap happy when I hand him the camera, there were lots of pictures of waves!) and simply enjoyed the power of the scenery. Spurn Point is one of those magical points in our landscape where the water crosses in high tide, meaning you can stand in the middle of the small width of beach and on your left have crashing waves thundering onto shore, and on the right completely calm water, safe habitat to sea birds. It was almost eerie how large the contrast on the two sides, especially as you progressed along the point to either side of the ruined wall where the difference really could be felt.

    We did a lot of wandering along, admiring the view, collecting pretty rocks and trying not to disturb any habitats. We didn't make it to the end unfortunately, the trip had been a surprise to me until we were on our way so I wasn't wearing the best footwear and at that point my asthma was no where near under control, so I struggled a bit. I am however determined to go back this summer and make it to the end.

  • Nutella Chunk + Raspberry Swirl Buttermilk Ice Cream

       

     

     

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    This post has been a long time coming, after all when is it finally acceptable to start posting about ice cream recipes? While in gale force winds and torrential rain? Dont think so!

    But, June is here, as I sit writing this the sky is blue and birds are twittering, the sun is hitting the hedge outside the window and Bert is basking on the doorstep. It is officially Ice Cream season.

     

    This particular recipe sort of came about by accident. I had one of those brainwaves while eating something else, it went something along the lines of  - Rosie getting me addicted to raspberry and nutella pancakes - ooo raspberry ripple ice cream would be good in a pancake -  wonder if you can put nutella in ice cream - How can I get the base to taste as close to pancake as possible - Recipe.Born.

     

    I think this is pretty close in taste too, the buttermilk base has the same slight tang that savoury pancakes with a little lemon juice have, and the raspberry syrup really packs a punch. Obviously the nutella isn't molten, but adding it in warm means that it doesn't freeze solid, it is instead slightly chewy and soft a complete surprise!

    You don't necessarily need an ice cream maker for this recipe either, as you could whisk it periodically while it is freezing to break up any ice crystals, but an ice cream maker does mean you keep the pretty swirls and they are fairly inexpensive if you want a basic one.

     

     

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    Ice cream base recipe is from The Hummingbird Bakery's new book Life is Sweet, which is well worth investing in!

     

    You will need:

    1 pot (235ml) of double cream

    1 pot (235ml) buttermilk

    135g Caster Sugar

    6 Large Egg Yolks

    1tsp Vanilla Extract

    Pinch of Salt

    1 punnet Raspberries

    2 tablespoons granulated sugar

    2 Tablespoons of Nutella, gently warmed in microwave.

     

    - In a pan combine the double cream and 100g of the caster sugar and simmer over a medium heat. In a jug, whisk your egg yolks and the remaining caster sugar until thick and pale.

     

    - While whisking, add 1/4 of the warm cream mixture to the egg mixture to warm it up, keep whisking to avoid scrambled eggs. Add the egg mixture into the pan with the rest of the cream/sugar mixture to make a custard. Put the pan back over a low heat and constantly stir until thickened. When ready the custard should coat the back of a spoon and a line drawn through stay crisp.

     

    - Remove from the heat and whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla and pinch of salt. Cover the custard with cling film, with the film actually touching the custard, not just the pan, and put in the fridge to cool.

     

    - While the custard cools, put your raspberries and granulated sugar into a pan over a low heat. Allow the fruit to break up completely stirring occasionally. Once all of the fruit has broken up and the mixture resembles a syrup, sieve the syrup to remove the fruit pips. Allow to cool.

     

    - Once your custard is cooled (around 45 minutes) churn it using the instructions for your ice cream maker. Mine requires me to turn it on, pour in the custard and wait around 20 minutes. Easy as that!

     

    - Once your custard is churned, begin to layer it with the raspberry sauce and warmed Nutella in a freezer safe container. Once you are finished layering, take a blunt knife to give it an extra swirl, pop the lid on and freeze for a couple of hours until truly set.

     

    - Scoop and serve in a waffle cone for the best flavour, and if you have extra raspberry syrup left over don't forget to drizzle that over too!

     

  • This Week

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    Coming to you a little later this week, no real reason, I just hadn't decided what I was going to say yet.

    This week has been a real rollercoaster, I had some pretty low days the beginning of the working week, a bit of a pain after having a brilliant weekend. The back end of this week though I have really started to feel like I am back in control of things, I got loads done at work, had some really productive meetings, and the first phase of the big project I have been working on is now in motion and so far has gone without a hitch.

    I am the first to admit I can be a control freak at times, so when things aren't perfectly arranged I get a bit stressy. It has been nice to get back to being calm and controlled. I have also come up with a new way to plan my blog posts and get things organised too, which is really helping. I am planning a weekend full of sourdough starter growing, gardening, and relaxation. The weather is supposed to be wonderful so I hope it lives up to it!

    Here are a few of the little things that have perked up my week:

    -  My hoover being returned on Monday was no joke one of the happiest moments, I hate a messy house, and I have a cat that sheds and my other half works with cars, it is a constant battle and without my favourite weapon I was a bit lost. I felt zen upon its return and I know that is oh so sad!

    - On said Monday, I worked from home, and I really did miss getting to make proper coffee for the rest of the week. At the moment I am working my way through a bag of The Lincoln Coffee Company's espresso roast and I love it for flat whites.

    - Perfectly ripe cherries with breakfast, I even love the process of pitting them by hand.

    - Bert was exposed to catnip for the first time the other day and it was so cute to watch! He loved the stuff!!

    - James and I wandered the castle walls in Lincoln last weekend, it was a beautiful day, the view was fantastic and we were up there for the fly over by the Dakota, which was wonderful to see. The best bit of it though was spotting a couple having their wedding photographs taken on the walls in front of the cathedral as the plane went over, you could just tell they would be beautiful :)

    - Popping to a local hangout for tea and cake on Wednesday evening with James, it isn't something we would usually do midweek, and it really helped put me in a good mood for the next few days, the lemon cake I scoffed was delicious too!

    - My veggies in the garden are doing really really well, I am so proud! I think I will be overrun with beetroot though, better get planning some recipes.

    This weekend I will be:

    Reading : Some manuscripts for a top secret project I have been invited to contribute to, very excited about them!

    Eating: Hopefully some home made ice cream

    Doing: Visiting the Garden show at the Showgrounds, with my mum. I'm hoping she will help me navigate the crazy world of plant choosing!

    I hope you all have a great weekend, let me know if you have anything fun planned :)

  • Happy Bert Day!

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    Today is all about gratuitous cat pictures, because it is Bertie's first birthday! Happy birthday fluff ball!

    I love looking back through these pictures, for a ginger tom he is fairly small for being fully grown, but it is nice to remember just how tiny he used to be. Picture number two up there he is sat on James' shoulder.

    Even though he is a big boy cat now and goes out into the garden (no joke it has taken him a whole year to brave this, and he still hasn't realised that his cat flap is a door not a window) he will always be my ball of kitten fluff.

    Happy first Bert Day riddles, and thank you for the past year of adventures xx

  • Adventures I My favourite places in Lincoln

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    My local city has been getting a lot of press lately, the castle is having its official opening with Princess Anne next month, the Magna Carta will be there too, and it seems that the anniversary is really making Lincoln's best step up their game.

    I thought it would be nice to point you to my favourite spots in the city in case you fancied visiting. There are plenty of things to keep you busy for a day or two like The Collection museum, the Usher Gallery, the Cathedral and Castle as well as the numerous ghost walks and tours of old Lincoln. As a visitor though it is often the little places that get overlooked, or are hard to weed out from the Patisserie Valerie's, so I thought I would give them some love.

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    Stokes High Bridge Cafe :: 

    First stop, Stokes at the High bridge Cafe, perfect for light refreshment before venturing up the hill, and conveniently located right in the middle of the high street, this cafe is built on the medieval bridge over the river Witham in a tiny tudor mews house and it has been there for donkeys. Stokes offer a huge range of teas and coffee varieties, along with lots of Lincolnshire specialities such as local plum bread. As this is down the flat part of town I like to have a drink and a snack here after I have visited all the normal shops and before I head up to the good stuff, though it does house a full cafe upstairs if you need something more substantial.

    If however you aren't peckish until you get half way up the hill, I also highly recommend Stokes at The Collection, where they make the most delicious fresh crepes!

    My Pick :: Their Full house hot chocolate with everything on it and a scone with butter, they are freshly baked on site and still warm, beautiful.

    Time to get moving to the local shops. Lincoln has a pretty big hill in it called Steep Hill. It is quite steep and defeats many, but there is a bench half way in case you struggle. Lots of locals avoid this area because it is a bit of a climb but I have to say it is a gold mine for quirkiness.

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    Goodies Sweet Shop ::

    Goodies is the first stop on our tour up the strait and is a traditional english sweet shop full of jars of nibbles to choose from. The owner still rings up your purchase on the old till and is always happy to recommend his favourite, especially from the wall of chocolate behind the till! Goodies has been a go to for many many years for me, even more so at christmas when they dress in Victorian outfits, fab!

    My pick :: Jazzies, the milk chocolate ones, they take me back!

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    The Cheese Society ::

    Right opposite Goodies is the Cheese Society, a must for any cheese lover, they boast a wide range of British and european cheeses and suitable accompaniments. They are great about letting you sample something before you buy a wedge of the stuff and if you have a certain type of cracker in mind they will find the right cheese for it, impeccable service! If you love cheese and fancy a treat for lunch head to their cafe around the corner, it is tiny so gets full quick but well worth the wait if you need to. Hands down the best macaroni cheese I have ever eaten.

    My pick :: Lincolnshire poacher, of course!

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    The 44 Shop ::

    Further up the hill now and just after the bench on the right you will come across a delightfully blue coloured shop called simply 44, as it is number 44! If you need a quirky gift or just fancy treating yourself to some beautiful hand made jewellery this is stop number one. Lucie the owner is lovely, and very particular about what she will stock, I would happily buy everything in there if I could make room in my house!

    My Pick :: The beautiful selection of greetings cards, you are guaranteed to find one no-one else will send

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    Lindum Books ::

    Head up into the Bailgate area past the Cathedral and you will find the best bookshop in Lincoln, Lindum Books is part owned by an old colleague of mine and well supported by our team at work. They host numerous author events in partnership with The Collection and stock used and new titles. I love that their selection is limited but carefully curated, a nice balance of popular titles and the slightly obscure.

    My Pick :: Check out the shelf of Persephone Classics, they always draw me in.

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    Object and Line ::

    I can only describe this place as my dream shop, it has interior nick nacks and kitchenware that can only be described as beautiful, I mean just check out that window display! the best selection of Keith Brymer Jones I have ever seen, this place is perfect for gifts for the discerning.

    My Pick :: Besides the Keith Brymer Jones mug in the top picture? The selection of Weck jars is a must for any organisation freak.

    Shopping over with, it is time to head back down the hill, it is far easier going in this direction. Be sure to have a drink in Widow Cullens Well if you fancy as they do some different ales, and ogle at the chocolates in the luxury chocolate shop.

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    The Angel Coffee House ::

    Get right to the bottom and at the Stonebow take a left instead of heading straight on, along here is my new favourite place to eat or drink in Lincoln, The Angel coffee house. A great atmosphere with hands down the best artisan sandwiches I have come across, this place wins my heart every time. They also make the best flat white, serve a huge range of fancy teas and cater to a variety of dietary requirements. Drop in and say hello to the girls, or hang around for one of the many events they have going on.

    My Pick :: Without a doubt, flat white and the caramelised onion and goats cheese focaccia bread, toasted. Sandwich of dreams!!

    Suitably re-fuelled, feel free to wander the rest of the city centre, I am still finding new little gems as I wander around. Lincoln is one of those cities that appears to be ever changing, and I like it.