Thursday, 24 September 2020

Low Barns Nature Reserve





We decided to pop off to Low Barns Nature Reserve a few days ago to make the most of a spell of good weather.

The reserve is in Witton-le-Wear in Bishop Auckland, County Durham and is a lovely place to walk and bird watch.

They have a really good cafe too and the food is excellent.  Obviously at the moment they have closed the seating area but are still providing outdoor eating which was perfect for us.

We spent a happy couple of hours enjoying nature and felt totally recharged when we left.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

De-stressing with Art

My first attempt 


I’m in the throws of a period of stress in my life. This has been caused through a long bout of difficult working conditions. I work in a supermarket and also as a Slimming World consultant. So as you can imagine on the one hand I am a key worker with all that that entails plus fifteen weeks ago we had the carpet pulled from under us when our Slimming World groups were closed literally overnight due to the Corona epidemic. I then had to start running my groups virtually which was stress on a whole new level.
I am just about to complete a forty two and a half hour working week at the shop and what with a lack of sleep, nausea and absolute exhaustion I thought I’d enjoy something very simple and a very gentle attempt at abstract art. This is as abstract as I go.
All I did was paint a few lines and coloured blobs on to a piece of glass, being very careful not to cut myself and failing miserably. I then blotted the glass on to watercolour paper pressing down hard. Once the paint was transferred on to the paper the glass was removed and fine lines were painted to represent the stems. There you have it. A little watercolour meadow painting in about ten minutes.



I also couldn’t resist showing you the beautiful roses I treated myself to yesterday. They’re not quite red but not quite pink either. What I do know is that in these stressful times they have cheered me up no end as did the Barrett’s strawberry milkshake sweeties. I can’t stop eating them. Delicious.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Chocolate Muffins

I was always convinced that my baking lacked a certain something and the only thing I could blame was that every time I admired someone else’s cupcakes and asked their secret it was the same reply. They had an electric oven and mine was gas.  That was until today. My friend Kelly brought cakes to work and of course they were made using an electric oven. Even so I asked her for the recipe and discovered that they had Coca Cola in them and she said it was that that made them so delicious.
So today I made the muffin/cupcake recipe and never again will I blame my poor gas oven. They were gorgeous.




I admit they are very simply decorated but that is down to personal taste and the fact that cake doesn’t  
last two minutes in our house so why worry about intricate decor. Slap melted chocolate and a cherry on top and we’re happy. So I bet you’re dying to know the recipe aren’t you? Well ok but keep it to yourself 😃

Chocolate Cola Cake

250g butter
200ml cola drink
250gr self raising flour
300gr caster sugar
3 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder
Generous pinch of bicarbonate of soda
75ml milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Gently melt the butter and cola drink together in a pan, then add the dry ingredients together with the milk, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix gently but thoroughly, then tip into a cake tin.  Bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in to the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Icing

Mix together 200gr icing sugar, 60gr butter, and 2 - 3 tablespoons of cocoa until blended. Add 2 tablespoons of cola drink and beat until smooth. Spread over the cake.

The recipe is for a full cake but I used paper cases and cooked for about 15 minutes until the top springs back when pressed gently.

I hope you try this recipe and if you do, let me know how it turns out xx

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Stang Top



A blurry Curlew






The weather hasn’t been great for the last couple of weeks but rather than stay in we decided to drive up to the top of the Stang. It’s about a 15 minute drive from where we live and a favourite place for the hubby to cycle.
As you can see the clouds were heavy and it rained about 10 minutes after we left.
The views are spectacular but unfortunately my iPad wasn’t up to the job.  The bird song was beautiful with sky larks and curlews belting it out. We’ve never seen as many ground birds including grouse. It was fantastic.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies







 Ingredients 

190g Self Raising Flour
200g Caster Sugar
145g Brown Sugar
120g Rolled Oats
50g Raisins
180ml Rapeseed Oil
2 Eggs
5ml Vanilla Extract




Method

Mix altogether, drop spoonfuls of mixture on to a prepared baking tray and bake for 15 minutes in the oven on 175 degrees celsius, gas mark 4.

Absolutely delicious x

Monday, 18 May 2020

Wild Flowers

One of my favourite things in life are flowers. I love them all but when we’re out and about I find I’m especially drawn to the beautiful and delicate blooms of wild flowers.

The ones I’m noticing at the moment are the bluebells, poppies and wild garlic.








In addition there are forget me nots, wood anemones, violets, primroses and many more.