::P, P, Pick up a poncho – again ::

10500531_830857983600104_1603038425053066168_nOk, it’s a work in progress, a WIP as they say. It remains in progress, but my poncho is getting more and more beautiful and colourful as it grows. And it’s nearly there. I keep on p, p, picking up that poncho!10325347_829597540392815_7396260218902141198_nBut then I put it down as something else takes over. My Ripple stitch blanket was the most recent distraction. 20140713_18473510389357_822150724470830_4787128616661467355_nThen there will be my Kaleidoscope CAL blanket again. They seem to do triangular rotation, depending on my mood, time and inclination.20140510_09444220140531_163331k blanketNow back to the poncho again. You may remember how it started back at the beginning of the year.CAM00183The beautiful yarn I purchased from Deramores, gorgeous Cascade Peruvian wool, very apt indeed considering the inspiration.

5a872-6a0192aab0192b970d01a73d7c9d4b970d-pi20140420_190606Then there was the starting off, and the pulling out, the frogging, the restart and then the progress.20140513_20015420140525_082255It will give me great pleasure to wear my poncho on our French holiday when we arrive at the Farmhouse we are borrowing from a colleague. We have been before, three times, and it ‘s almost like having a family holiday home. I’ll tell you about it soon, but for now it’s time to concentrate on the Poncho, to get it finished for my cool French evenings with my local wine, cheese and some amazing bread. I’ll enjoy wearing it for evening sunset walks – when I get it finished! Need to keep on p, p, picking up my poncho!poncho 1

::Moving on:

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It is always with a mixture of emotions that I approach the end of the school term as a Deputy Head teacher, a year 6 class teacher, a parent and just as me! In all aspects moving on is a key theme.

The changes happening within school, moving classrooms for September, moving files, records and handing over to the next teacher, transition for the children, the emotional last few weeks for the year 6 children as they begin their moving on journey mentally for secondary school, all bring their stresses, strains and emotional roller coasters. Especially in this hot and humid weather!

20140531_142114In addition there are my sons own transitional journeys: one moving back home from first year at university and the entering of his final GCSE year for my youngest. And then there is me. The ending of another year brings home the knowledge that I know I have made a difference to the children in my school, class and my boys; their outlooks, self-belief, confidence and resilience to move onto new challenges. Moving on confidently is the aim in every sense. I believe I achieved it.

I spent Friday, our last day of term, in a parallel world. On the one hand I marvelled in the joy and knowledge that the year 6 children have the ability to put together a leaver’s assembly that represents their journey through our changing school. The reminiscing, laughing, crying and togetherness of a shared journey through their childhood, supported by dedicated staff, challenged by their peers. I continue to learn from them. It was wonderful to drink in the amazement, wonder and pleasure they had in this their final event in our school. It brought them a mixture of emotions: some they couldn’t contain. Those recent, quiet moments at home, spending a little bit of time on myself, have helped me to get through.

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But on the other hand, I also spent Friday consoling, reassuring and sharing, time, hugs and experiences with the children who have been a huge part of my life this year. This was a special year group for me – they were my first Reception class in this school seven years ago and it has been such a privilege to watch these young people grow over the years, from curious, exploring, exuberant infants to confident, open-minded, responsible juniors. I am extremely proud of every one of them.

Now I say changing school, because we also had the challenge of Ofsted this week. Yes the last week of term. It was both unexpected at this late stage and also a blessing in disguise – I no longer have to worry over the summer about a first week Ofsted in September. It is done and dusted. It went well. We have all worked so very hard. I am so very, very tired. I have spent my evenings snuggled under my growing ripple stitch blanket trying to stay awake to communicate with my family!

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Moving on for me over the next few weeks involves a substantial amount of rest. Sharing my life with a large primary school is a huge commitment for me and my family: their patience and understanding are what gets me through the months, weeks, days and hours that I spend in this highly intensive, challenging and immensely rewarding job. I love my job. It is a privilege.

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My many craft, crochet, baking and sewing projects will help me along. I will be spending lots of time with my family: holidaying in France (Ulcot actually- here on the map and below in the picture), walking up fells, lazy days at home, and we’ll be sharing experiences, laughs, love, kindness, challenges and time.

beckermondsThe surrounding sunflower fields of our holiday destination.

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Then there are my copious gifts. Many, many beautiful and generous gifts from children in the school, not just my class. But also colleagues.

20140720_111154This one just about sums it up. Its a beautiful vase from my colleague by Rob Ryan and it reads, ‘There is no such thing as spare time. There is no such thing as work time. There is no such thing as quality time. There is no such thing as free time. There is no such thing as down time. There is only time.’

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Over the summer months, I will be preparing my boys for their next journey through life, moving onto pastures new. A new shared flat for E as he enters his second university year and the final year of GCSE for Little J (although he will be JP from now on- he is much taller than me!) He has many ideas, hopes and dreams for his future yet to unfold and it never ceases to astound me how much I admire my two offspring. It catches me unawares sometimes and I have to take a moment to compose myself as it overwhelms me. As new parents J and I always joked that our babies didn’t come with a manual, we would always do what felt right for us, they would be treated as individuals and although we would make mistakes as parents, we would make them together and with the very best intentions, always. They are so very different, yet so similar! ( I pinched the eye idea from Lucy@Attic24).

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In our summer of moving on, I couldn’t be more filled with pride, love, joy and delight at my wonderful sons. I don’t mind saying, I feel we have done an awesome job so far. My heart is full and overflowing; it swells every time I think of the independent individuals our boys have become. As a Mum, I am also moving on.

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::Wasdale – Part two::

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It has taken me a couple of weeks I know to come back to this post about our Caravan trip to Wasdale – I have been so very busy with school, family and getting sorted that I almost forgot that I’d left this one just hanging there!!

Waking up in Doris the caravan in Wasdale was incredibly funny- the sun blazing through the windows (note to self, get blackout blinds) at 4am, was both lovely and conversely irritating. It did enable a quiet cup of tea and a little bit of crochet ripply happiness whilst J and little J slept. They didn’t even stir when I boiled the kettle – although I did catch it before it began to whistle it’s happy tune!

For day two we decided to go for a picnic up to a tarn adjacent to Scawfell Pike. My back was feeling lots better and although I wanted to have a good walk, I was conscious of not overdoing it.

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ImageImageImageThe tarn was a shimmering, flat, oasis in the middle of the grassy, bumpy, flatland between the fells.

The sky reflected beautifully and it was quite bizarre to find it nestled there 240m up!

The ground was very soggy so we sat on our coats to have our picnic.Image

There had been a deluge of water up there, only a few days before, and the sight of a big blob of Frogspawn, in the middle of the grassland confirmed how deep the water had been, but also how much it had receded. Unfortunately this bunch of early frog life wasn’t going to make it now, in the clear warm sun. I was assured that it wouldn’t be right for me to interfere with nature, as I tried to think of a way of returning these little guys to the water. J and Little J were right of course. It was nature’s way.

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The walk back was lovely, with that satisfying tired feeling of having accomplished something, physical tiredness as against the mental tiredness I experience mostly as a teacher. I enjoyed retracing our steps as we followed the cairns, seeing how the light had changed over the hours we had been walking, and also thinking of ice-cream rewards!!

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We returned to Doris, satisfied, hungry and ready for a snuggly caravan evening; a little bit more crochet ripples, good cups of tea, and we made plans for the next and final day of our mini-break.

We decided that we had weary legs, (well I did anyway) and so St. Bedes would be a great place to see. It is the  western start of the Coast to Coast walk, the Wainwright path, and also I had heard it was quaint and untouched. So off we went. It was a much more blustery day and we could feel the Western coast chill in the air.  I needed my hat!ImageImageImageImage

We climbed up the coastal path to see the sea and view the town below, feeling the cool air and the warmth of the sun on our faces. Lots of caravans in the static caravan park. It’s a bit of a shame that there was some vandalism and graffiti, which did put me off a bit really. The old part of the town, inland a little, was so much more piratey and smuggler-like. But as it started to rain we decided to go for a cup of coffee and cake instead.Image

 We ventured over the Gosforth Pottery for a souvenir of our trip and I bought a lovely hand thrown vase that now sits beautifully on my kitchen table with my favourite floral delights.Image

It has been lovely going away in our Doris caravan, and visiting Wasdale, my favourite part of the lakes. I have enjoyed being with J and Little J, sleeping almost outdoors, being away  from the rough and tumble of life during the working week, and most of all connecting to the beautiful countryside and drinking in it’s glamour, glory and power.

:: Wasdale Part One::

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Remember in my post, Weekend Relaxing, I mentioned purchases? Well the big purchase we made was a new-to-us Caravan. Meet Doris, she is my latest makeover project, (well the house is nearly finished), and as E said, “You’ve run out of places to crochet in the house so you need more space?” Maybe…. was my reply! Having camped in our super-large family tent since the boys were 5 and 8 years old, we have enjoyed many holiday trips, to the sea in Norfolk, Exeter and the Jurassic coast, and also to other parts of The Lake District. Getting a caravan seemed like the next step for us.

Our new-to-us caravan Doris. Now she is 30 years old, so classed as Retro or Classic instead of Vintage, and is in need of a makeover and a bit of a Mixture43 treatment, but she’s perfectly roadworthy and habitable. Lots and lots of beige… I’ll leave it at that!

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I used my Festival Granny Stripe Blanket and my Sunshine Granny Square Blanket to cheer her up for this trip and it certainly did the trick, along with a couple of homemade crochet cushions.Image

Ooooh did you spot my new book? It has some lovely inspirational caravan makeover pictures (but more of that later).

Once we’d got her ship-shaped – well caravan-shaped I should say, we settled down for an evening view of the area. It was a lovely Gold rated David Bellamy caravan and camping site near to the west coast at Seascale, so lots of flaura and fauna to look at and of course being in an Area of Outstanding beauty you wouldn’t expect anything other than beautiful things to look at!

 Just look at the view from Doris’s window!Image

Wasdale and nearby Eskdale fells and mountains were only a few miles away, so we plotted and planned our walking and ascent. We had such beautiful weather on our trip to the South Lakes Area of Wasdale. J and I visited there over twenty years ago (was it really so long ago?) and I have always thought it would be lovely to return, I hoped it would still be as beautiful as I had remembered. It is breathtakingly stunning. We looked out at the view over a homemade supper cooked on Doris’s stove top. We are going to have many adventures, it’s going to be great!

A little bit of morning snuggly ripply hooky in my Doris bed…Image

We decided that we would walk along the side of the Lake. As I was just recovering from an acute episode with my back… lets just say half an hour to get off the floor in excruciating pain and not standing up straight for what seemed like eternity (bottom out like a duck and sideways slant is never a good look), we thought that a flat-ish walk would be better. To be honest I really needed to move about too so I gritted my teeth and off we went.Image

It was such a lovely walk, peaceful, tranquil, silent even at times but for the flowing and rippling water and rustling leaves in the gentle breeze.

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The light casts such beautiful shadows on the fells and mountain, it’s quite Scandinavian to look at, well so I’ve ben told. I haven’t been there… yet!

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Skimming stones… you just have to at every opportunity, always a competition! Dad and son… who won? Not so little J of course!Image

You can see how far the water rose in the recent months with all of the wet and windy weather, in fact one of the locals told us it had been pouring down until only two days before, and he was heartily sick of rain! I’m not surprised with this much water , however it’s not called the Lake District or nothing!

Then there were the damaged trees…ImageImage

I was so proud of myself for walking along an undulating road and not a flat one as promised and my back did very well. In fact at times I forgot all about it what with the beautiful Wasdale scenery and sounds to look and listen to.

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After a little rest, some buttered hot crossed buns and a slurp of coffee, that we had in our rucsac, we set off back the other way. My back had warmed up by now and was actually beginning to sort itself out. I was feeling so much better and enjoying the chat, jokes and banter that was flowing back and forth from Little J and J. Oh my, how 15 year olds, (really my baby is 15?) can talk of such random things!

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I knew I wanted to go to the sea. I love being near the water, lakes, sea, streams, it is always so calming and reminds me of caravanning trips with my parents to Great Yarmouth, Poole in Dorset and Western Super-mare. I loved caravanning as a girl, the joy of hitching up and getting off, the waking up and remembering where you were in your cosy caravan bed. The return from school on a Friday evening and seeing the bags packed and ready for the off. My children are too old for that kind of excitement, but I have to say I was so overjoyed when little J decided to come with us, no wifi, no Xbox and all those other teenage boy toys. But he was very pleasantly surprised. He is outdoorsy too, I might add, so enjoys a good walk. And he does love water… he’s my water baby.ImageImage

Seascale is a quiet place, although being one of the starting places for the C2C cycle ride, it can get busy from Easter to October.  Last year E and J made that self same ride across the country cycling 142 miles in two days, they did Seascale to Whitby. Little J and I followed in the car with supplies, flapjacks and coffee. It was quite the adventure!

Anyhoo….  Seascale and the beach. Lots of lovely bits and bobs and ripples!!Image

Fish shaped stone, in a gorgeous shade of blue.ImageImageImage

We enjoyed an ice cream sitting on a bench looking at the sea. Then, with weary legs and a hungry tummy, we headed off back to Doris for the night.

The evening view from Doris was spectacular.

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The day ended with a Very satisfying ‘CLUNK’ as I laid down and snuggled in my Doris bed. The relief in my back was fantastic and having not slept so well for a week or more, I slept like a baby. Wasdale and Doris the Caravan had lived up to every dream and expectation I had and more.  Great times ahead.

::Returning::

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It is always with a hint of sadness when returning from a holiday or short break, such as the one we have just had in Wasdale in the South West Lakes.  It feels strange to be travelling back home, without the excitement and anticipation that I left home with, but with my mind wandering to the jobs, ahead. Maybe not travelling so far away, only 50 minutes, makes the journey home, which never seems long after a holiday, seem returning that bit shorter. Wasdale and Eskdale were breathtakingly beautiful, the above picture, taken from the window of our new-to-us caravan Doris, really doesn’t do it justice.

Returning always has a tinge of wistfulness.

Returning with the thoughts of the unloading of the car, the bags and the caravan this time, and the umpteen loads of washing! It seems to happen every time, I have romantic notions of savouring the time away but end up returning with more work than when I went. It always takes me a few days to settle back into the swing and flow of home life again, to get back to normal.

Returning to work. It has been such a short holiday, not the usual 2 weeks at Easter for the children and for me as a teacher. It is a much needed time for recharging those tired and worn out batteries, and the main reason for getting away is to have that mental break. I don’t suppose anyone reading this thinks that teachers have a dreamy amount of time off, or an equally easy working day, especially we are now into report season and planning classrooms and classes for the next school year. I must admit, but very quietly, to gazing off out of the car window, thinking about how I’m going to theme my classroom before the return to school with children present. We’re doing a topic on Australia. My thoughts also return to planning for work, before I return to work!

Returning to Wasdale. Who knows? i usually have an unwritten rule about not returning or going back to somewhere as there are so many places to discover. But, J and I were at the very same spot 20 years ago, (wow that makes me gel old), and we climbed Great and Green Gable then. It is such a beautiful place, how could I not return?

So, I have lots of pictures to sift through and ideas and notions about our next caravan break. It’s so lovely to deck her out with homemade cushions and blankets for now, and to up and off. I’ll show you a few pictures now, but the rest will follow in a proper post about the adventures of Doris and the South West Lakes.

Here are a few to enjoy. :O)xxx

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Can you see the beautiful Scafell Pike over there? At 978m high, its the highest mountain in England and was first ascended by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.. how about that! I love the way the light and shadows play.

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The seaside at Seascale on the West Coast.ImageImage

Seaside ripple inspiration.

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My new crochet ripple blanket for when Doris has had her makeover.

:: Weekend relaxing::

What a beautiful weekend it has been, and how lovely to get out and about, with the promise of the Easter holidays just around the corner. We break-up on Wednesday for not quite two weeks. Relaxing this weekend has been lovely.

This weekend I have been::

::Making bunting for my friends newly adopted children – a welcome present from stitching group for their new little bedrooms. A boy and a girl. I have completed my crochet contribution- I hope they like them.

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 ::Visiting Cockermouth, it’s very near- home to Woolfest - for supplies, new glasses for J and a pop into my favourite bookshop, The New Bookshop

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::Perusing. Isn’t it just a wonderfully welcoming place to browse, relax and loose yourself in the books? I love it. Then for the coffee and of course cake. J and I shared two different cakes, me with my Americano and him with his Earl Grey and lemon. Such a beautiful coloured tea!

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::Admiring. The Maryport Quilters had an exhibition in the church hall so we had a little look see in there. Some beautiful quilts.

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::Relaxing and walking along the river, the daffodils are almost at their end but still brighten up the bank and look lovely.

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::Homemaking. More of my kaleidoscope blanket motifs.

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::Mothering. Cooking a lovely Roast beef dinner (especially for my returning student who is home for Easter) and then enjoyed a little relaxing walk in the village.

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::Cherishing. My gorgeous cherry blossom tree is beginning to burst with beautiful pink buds, and it won’t be long before it’s candy coloured confetti is floating around the garden. A gorgeous Sunday evening here in the West of Cumbria with a beautiful Solway view.

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::Planning. A holiday at Wasdale with J and little J, whilst E its off to Rome with his girlfriend L. His belated 18th Birthday present. There is also something else I’ve been doing….

::Purchasing:: but I’ll tell you more of that next time!!

Happy Weekend.

 

:: First Quarter ::

It doesn’t seem two minutes ago that I was putting together my end of year review photos, of colourful makes, practical projects and little bits of my creative life. Here I am with the First Quarter of the year flashing by in images!! What a treat it is again, even though it wasn’t that long ago, to refresh, recap and revisit these happy snaps.

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What an amazingly colourful and creative first quarter it has been; there have been trials and tribulations, illness, difficult weather and changes to our working lives. But as a family, and with the support of good friends and trusted colleagues, we have weathered it all and are happy, safe and positive about what the next quarter will bring.

Many new projects on their way, new yarn purchased and also my kaleidoscope blanket to continue- it’s a lovely surprise every month! And I can’t wait to start my poncho with my beautiful Cascade peruvian yarn too. Busy busy!!

Happy hooking people!!

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::Half Term – It was all going so well::

CAM00071:: All was going so well.

Half term week was ahead with all it's promises of finished blankets, wool winding sessions and family times, see it started really well here and here. Despite a cold and a cough, I had a lovely lunch out with my boys at Green's of Grassmere, then later in the week with my Hubby at the gorgeous Watermill cafe, and a pootle into the Wool Clip – the ladies behind Woolfest! I even bought me some glorius Blue Faced leicester from Cecelia and Jean.

CAM00087:: It was all going so well.

I have nearly completed Little Em crochet granny square blanket, and watched the first two of the Lord of the rings trilogy, something I've attempted to do for some time, but never had chance to watch seven hours of film before in a oner!! Then, just when you should be careful what you wish for…

BAM!

Me coughs, colds, and viruses just don't get on very well. It's my asthma, doesn't like it when my airways are at all compromised, I can see that! (and feel it too!)

So once that feeling starts, and sometimes, (like this one, that didn't even creep up) it just HITS me with a PUNCH in the chest and a STAB in the lower right back lung region!!

:: So snuggly days ahead this week…

CAM00093Doctors orders!! No talking, take my steriods, rest, sleep, drink lots, no talking (again), more steroids and keep warm –  Yes Ma'am!!

And my lovely hubby, well he bought me tulips!! He knows how to cheer a poorly girl up!

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other more cheerful mixtures

:: Tulips::
::Summer holiday bits and bobs::

::Breakfast pancakes::

Well it's the end of the official half term week, before the normality of weekend and back to work, so what better way to end the week than with a deliciously different breakfast.

We sometimes have them on the weekend but it's such a treat to have them in the week, being a working Mum and all that- so when I asked Little J if he would like pancakes for breakfast his response was sheer delight!

Not the french crepe style pancakes… no, no, the fat, podgy, spongy, american style pancakes, that I used to eat as a child covered in golden syrup, or lemon juice, sugar and sometimes a bit of banana and jam! Yum, yum!!

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So batter up!!

I always make the batter up the night before- but you don't have to, you can just mix it up and splodge away!

150g plain flour

2tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

25-50g sugar

2 eggs

100-125ml milk

25g melted butter

fruit of your choice, mashed banana, raisins, raspberries, etc

sunflower oil

::Method::

Mix all of the dry ingrediants together and in another bowl place the milk, eggs and melted butter, then mix them together whisk the life out of it so it's really bubbly.

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CAM00064I use my Aga warm plate- not the other one as that's the hot plate!You have to oil the plate slightly first. I just put desert spoonfuls of batter mixture on and use a pallette knife to slide them over once the bubbles start 'a' popping on the top!

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CAM00067Silly me forgot that I have to put sunflower oil on the hot plate – not BUTTER- 'cos it burns the edges!!

CAM00070But, they must have tasted goooood, as Little J happily ate most of them with his juice and a sprinkling of sugar- he left the slightly 'darker' ones for his Dad who has them with jam! He said they were delicious!

So ready for anything now me thinks!!

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More MixTures

::This week so far…::
::Relaxing::
::Transition::
::Handpicked, harvesting and homemade::

::Something sticky, sweet and delicious – raspberry muffins::

It is half term, and there I am full of cold, feeling more than just a tad under the weather- (whatever does that mean?) and needing something that will cheer me up!

Check out the fridge…

Fresh raspberries, minstrels, plenty eggs and milk…. MUFFINS!!!!

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I found a great little recipe here which I accessed on my MacBook on the kitchen island for quickness, instead of printing it out on the computer in the study, or evn worse running backwards and forwards to get it right – you can tell I’ve done that before!! Laptop in the kitchen it is.

 

Buttery melting lovliness.CAM00046This was quite a needy fix- sweet sugary muffin mix, butteryness, and sharp raspberries mixed with the lush lovely minstrels… Oh stop, drooling alert, they’re not made yet!!Buttery melting lovliness.CAM00047Don’t over mix or they won’t rise as much, they really do look quite messy when they’re ready.CAM00048Generous spoonfuls.

They smell GoRgEoUs – I wish you could smell them too..

Then for the smartie chocolate ones for ‘the boys’… I found this recipe here, but didn’t keep any smarties for the tops- J ate some so never mind!

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15 minutes later…

CAM00056Ooooh can you smell them – they’re cooling just now, otherwise J would have scoffed the lot, and probably given himself tummy ache (that’s what my Grandma always said!)

CAM00057Hooky at the ready, CHECK, Chai Latte at the ready CHECK, homemade raspberry and chocolate muffins, it really is my very favourite drink at the moment, sweet, spicy, creamy and lovely. When I’m not near a Starbucks or a Costa, and lets face it I live in the middle of nowhere (7 miles to the nearest shop) I have to find the next best thing. Lucky for me Sainsbury’s deliver the next best thing and here is the website for it here. I love the pink one, spiced.

CAM00059That definitly hit the spot and did the trick ( and all those other phrases people say when they are quite satisfied).

Lovely.

P.S. J said the chocolate ones were good too. :)

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More MixTures

::Handpicked, harvesting and homemade::
::Homemade Artisan Bread::