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Introducing Judy Thrift And Some Pumpkin Recipes…

Last week it was half term here and we all went to Portsihead, near Bristol for a few days.  We stayed in a Travelodge and just across the road was a lovely marina, full of boats of all different sizes.

We used Portsihead as a base and spent a day in Bristol and another day in Weston-super-mare and I have got to say we were really lucky with the weather as it was so dry and mild for this time of the year.

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Weston-super-mare

The main reason for a visit to this area was so we could take a trip to a little place call ‘Clevedon’.

I had never heard of this place until a few months ago and it was a lovely, small seaside town with a wonderful pier.  You can read about the pier here if you are interested in finding out more about it.

There was a special reason we visited this pier and that was because my eldest daughter is a massive ‘One Direction’ fan and they recorded the video for one of their songs on this pier, so it made her very happy to tread on the same pier as they did.

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Clevedon really was a beautiful, quiet seaside town…just right for eating an ice cream whilst sitting watching the sailing boats on the sea…

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Introducing Judy:

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Our holiday was lovely but we all couldn’t wait to come home as we had a very special lady coming to live with us…….

I would like to introduce ‘Judy’, our wonderful rescue dog:

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We had been talking about getting a dog for a while now, but had decided to wait until after our October holiday.  However, a couple of weeks ago myself and Mr Thrift decided to go and ask the RSPCA what the proceedure was for re-homing a rescue dog and we both fell in love with this quiet, timid dog wagging it’s tail at us.

This is the photo that was displayed on the RSPCA website

This is the photo of Judy that was displayed on the RSPCA website

Poor Judy had been very frightened when she first came to the kennels at the beginning of October and was also very anxious.  All we know about her is she is a Jack Russell, Terrier Cross that is three years old and her previous owner was poorly and had to go into hospital, so I think the whole experience has been traumatic for her and she is a little bit underweight.

After we found her, I visited her twice a day at the RSPCA and took her for a walk and by day three I sat down and she jumped on my lap for a cuddle and I knew then that she was definately the right dog for us.

My daughters also visited her after school each day to make sure they took to her too.  She didn’t jump up or bark at my daughters when she first met them, she just wagged her tail which was great for my eldest daughter who has always been a bit scared of dogs.

So on the 22nd October we had a home visit from RSPCA (to make sure everything at home was as we said it would be) and last Thursday 23rd October, we brought her home and she has settled really well.

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She is still a bit anxious (especially of men), but she is having a great time with all the attention she is getting from the ‘Thrift’ family and she now jumps up all of us when she wants some ‘fuss’ and barks at passers by.

We all adore her!

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So I’m sorry to say that this week I haven’t been to my allotment, as I am only leaving Judy on her own for very short periods of time so she can get used to it.  But two things I did before our holiday was I added a new compost bin for my perrennial weeds at the back of my plot:

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As usual, I used strong string to tie the pallets together and lined it with old bits of weeds suppressant.

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I also managed to plant my winter onions which were sown in August.  I covered them in environmesh to stop the allium leaf miner laying their eggs at the base of the allium stems (the second generation lay their eggs between September and November).

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At home I had been drying a heritiage bean called ‘Carters Bean’ that I grew this year and this week I took all the dried seeds out of the pods and popped them into an envelope to store / share them ready for next year:

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Halloween

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I couldn’t finish today without mentioning Halloween.  So many pumpkins are carved and the insides are just thrown away, so I thought I would share a few of my favourite pumpkin recipes here with you:

***Don’t forget the pumpkin flesh can be frozen to use another day****

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Spicy Pumpkin Soup….the recipe is here.

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 Pumpkin and Orange Cake….the recipe is here.

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Pumpkin and Apple Chutney….the recipe is here.

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Pumpkin Lasange…the recipe is here.

 

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And Finally……

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A Pumpkin, Raisin and Orange Muffins Recipe:

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600g self-raising flour

220g soft brown sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

300g raisins

2 eggs

400g pumpkin puree

150ml sunflower oil

The zest of 3 oranges

200ml of orange juice

A sprinkling of muscovado sugar for the top of each muffin

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Preheat your oven Gas mark 5 / 375F / 190C

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and sugar into large bowl and stir in the raisins.

In a separate bowl beat the eggs and then mix in the pumpkin, oil, orange zest and juice.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until there is no flour visible. There will be still lots of lumps left (this is the secret of good sized muffins.

 

Half fill muffin cases with the mixture and sprinkle each muffin with a little muscavado sugar.

 

Bake for 25 minutes until the cakes are firm to the touch and golden brown.

 

Enjoy!

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And don’t forget, with a little bit of imagination you can make some spooky treats for your children and grandchildren:

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I hope you enjoy some spooky Halloween treats tonight.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

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An Eastbourne Holiday, A Birthday And A Funeral

Last week it was ‘half term’ for children in Leicester, so we went to Eastbourne for a week.  We nearly didn’t go, as it was the funeral of my good friend on the Wednesday.  We didn’t want to miss the funeral or the holiday, so we traveled back on Tuesday evening and then traveled back to Eastbourne on Wednesday.

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The funeral was beautiful and so so sad.  There must have been about two hundred people there, which showed how well she was thought of by everyone.

When we came out of the funeral, it snowed really heavily, it was so pretty and I know she would have loved it.  I will remember my friend each time it snows now.

The day after she died, I noticed lots of snowdrops were in flower, as I went for a walk with my husband.  So I have decided to plant lots of snowdrops this year in my new woodland patch at my allotment, as a way to remember my friend.

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Eastbourne was lovely, as usual.  It was rainy and wet when we arrived and the wind was blowing a gale, but this soon passed and we had a couple of beautiful days where the sun shone.

We stayed in the Travelodge that is just across the road from the sea and yet again we only paid £31 per night for bed and breakfast for a family of four.

You can read about the Travelodge, room and breakfast on a post I wrote here.

We visited Beachy Head and the Birling Gap and looked at the wonderful views.  My daughter took the following pictures:

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We had a lovely, peaceful holiday.

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While we were there it was my eldest daughter’s birthday.  I can’t believe she is 15 years old!

I made her a cake to take with us.  She loves ‘One Direction’, so I made her a ‘One Direction’ birthday cake:

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A ‘One Direction’ Cake:

First I made three sponge layers, using the easy sponge cake recipe here, and sandwiched them together using a nice homemade Strawberry Jam.

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I then made up some butter icing, with a tiny bit of yellow sugar paste (my daughter’s favourite colour).  You can see how to make the buttercream here.

I spread it all over the cake using a warm knife:

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Then the fun began.  A couple of weeks before, I purchased a ‘One Direction Edible Cake Topper’ from EBay for just under £5.00.  It was so easy to use,  I just put it in my freezer for a few moments and it peeled off the backing easily and then I gently pressed it onto my cake:

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I added a homemade ‘One Direction’ ribbon, using card that I covered in sticky backed plastic and piped the remaining buttercream around the edges:

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My daughter loved the cake especially as the cake had her name on.  My homemade cake was bigger than the Tesco version you can buy for £8 and I made it ‘dairyfree’ so all my family could enjoy it.   I would like to bet that a homemade cake tasted better too.

A Tesco 'One Direction' Cake

A Tesco ‘One Direction’ Cake

We couldn’t put candles on the cake, as it would have set off the smoke alarms at the Travelodge, but we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to my daughter and the staff who were working that evening joined in too and also shared the cake with us.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back again on Friday.

Remembering Our Cheap Half Term Holiday

As it’s cold outside and my new cooker has still not arrived, I thought I’d write about the holiday we had during October.  We are lucky as our childrens half term school holiday was a week earlier than the rest of the country, so we managed to get a good price for the holiday.

We can’t afford expensive hotels  (I’m not sure I’d want to stay in them anyway) or holidays abroad, but we like to make sure we have lovely holidays together, having fun no matter what the weather throws at us.

The Eastbourne Travelodge

We stayed in the Eastbourne Travelodge, which we booked quite some time ago.  We managed to pay just £19 per night, for all four of us in a family room.

Below is a photo of the room we stayed in.  It had a ‘pull-out’ settee for the girls to sleep on and an en-suite bathroom.  There were also tea and coffee making facilities and clean towels that were changed whenever you needed clean ones.

It was clean and tidy when we arrived and we were really lucky as we were given a sea view.  This is the view from our window:

Not bad for a room that only costs £19 per night!

We ordered breakfast for each morning, when we booked the holiday.  Breakfast was £6.95 for adults, but children up to 16 years old, ate free.  There are cereals, fruit, yoghurts, croissants, toast and a full English breakfast if you wanted it.  You can wash it all down with tea, coffee, apple juice or orange juice.  You can help yourself to whatever you want.

So over all, we only paid £164.50 for all four of us, for five nights, for bed and breakfast.

Eastbourne is one of my favourite places to visit.  It isn’t too noisy and I always feel so relaxed here. Though there are things to do with the kids too.

Even in October we spent time messing about on the beach.

And looking for creatures in the rock pools.

We played board games in the evening, which is lovely, as we don’t always get time to do this at home.

We played tennis at the local park and paid a visit to the beautiful ‘Beachy Head’, though it was a misty day so the views weren’t quite as spectacular as they normally are.  You can read about Beachy Head here.

This holiday we also visited Charleston Trust, which was the home of the Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant from 1916.  You can see their website here.

I was particularly interested in the garden and though it was small and it was really the wrong season to visit this garden, I could see that there was a mix of Mediterranean and cottage garden styles.  There were quite a few sculptures in the garden.  The one you can see in the photo below made us laugh:

To keep the holiday costs down we were careful about eating out.

The first day we arrived we had a filling ‘pasta salad’ that I brought from home in our cool bag.  Incidentally, I always freeze an old two litre plastic bottle a couple of days before we go anywhere, to put in the cool bag.  It always stays frozen until the next day, so it keeps the cool bag cold for longer than a normal freezer ice block and we can use the water as it melts for cold squash during our first day.

Two evenings in the week we went to Pizza Express for a meal.  We had saved up our ‘Tesco Vouchers’ so the meals were free.

One night I cooked spaghetti in our room using a useful ‘gadget’ I have.

You fill it with boiling water and it cooks the spaghetti.  I took Asda’s own ‘stir-in pasta sauces’ that you don’t need to cook and served it with salad from the local shop and some grated cheese I brought from home.

On the last evening we treated ourselves to fish and chips….there really is nothing like seaside fish and chips.

For snacks, I took a plastic food container full of biscuits and we brought drinks and crisps from the local supermarket, as it’s cheaper than buying them individually from the small shops on the seafront.

It was such an enjoyable few days and as per usual we didn’t want to leave.

So you really can do holidays cheaply, if you book the holiday well in advance (look for early holiday sales) and if you plan your meals before you go and / or use vouchers to pay for them.

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.