Archive for September, 2011

It’s nice to see…

Posted in Books, Journal with tags , on 22/09/2011 by Jen Healey

…that people are still interested in borrowing books from libraries, or just going to libraries.  I went to the library in Leamington Spa the other morning, to return and renew some books, and found a queue of people waiting to get in before it opened!  Now, I’m not talking four or five students who have to be there, no, there were over twenty people waiting to go in, from many different walks of life.  It really made me smile to know that people still love to read actual paper books from libraries.  Yes, I’m well aware that I sell books, so I am obviously more likely than most to be extolling the virtues of physical (rather than e-) books.  Please do not misunderstand me, I’m not anti-tech at all, I got a fancy new android phone today and have been playing with it incessantly.  I just love books.  So I was very pleased to see that I’m (obviously) not alone in this.

Another thing that heartened me recently, was an email I got from goodreads notifying me of a blog post by Stephen Fry, championing mental health awareness through the charity MIND.  I read the blog it on my swanky new phone whilst waiting for my little girl to come out of school today.  See, I don’t just read books…


Leamington Food and Drink Festival

Posted in Food, Journal with tags , , on 18/09/2011 by Jen Healey

Last Sunday my little family and I went to the Food and Drink Festival that was held at the Royal Pump Rooms Gardens, it was a really nice morning.  I had been to the library a few times, but never actually walked round the museum at the Pump Rooms.  Neither did I realise that there was a gorgeous room like this in there –

But enough of that, there are pictures of cakes to look at.  Here are a few pictures of the festival, taken wide so that people don’t go kicking up a stink about their image being used without consent forms!

On the far left of this picture there is the stall of a very fine local food producer – Offchurch Poultry, their chicken burgers and sausages are eaten very frequently in our house (not that we’re related or anything!).

There was even a Mexican-style Mariachi band, which was fun to watch –

People always step in the way at precisely the wrong moment, apologies to the middle musician!

Now for the cakes…

The elusive Red Velvet cupcake, which I am yet to try, let alone bake.

Well it is the end of National Cupcake Week, so, as I didn’t bake any yet, I’ll show you some funky-looking cupcakes made by someone else.

Of course I had to buy a couple, Beth had one with a black ribbon (her choice, surprisingly, I’d have guessed pink!), which just about made it home.

I had to go for a chocolate one –

Hubby’s not really a big cake fan, but he does like bread and cheese, so I spied and bought him some caramelised onion bread and a gorgeous cheese and onion focaccia bread.  I barely had the chance to snap the focaccia before it was completely devoured!

It was a circle of bread!!!

It was so soft, not crusty like the ones on the Great British Bake Off, which I think is a good thing.

This Sunday I have a family birthday party to go to, so I’m off to get people ready.  I hope your Sunday is/was an enjoyable one x


Grandma’s Cheese Puff Triangles

Posted in Fledgling Foodie File, Food, Homemade, Journal with tags , on 17/09/2011 by Jen Healey

Today’s baking attempt was from a childhood memory that I hold dear, making cheese-filled and topped puff pastries with my grandma.  The finished product would look a bit like this –

I don’t think that I’ve cracked it yet, but I really enjoyed that first bite.  Despite not being quite right, it still took me back and I was back in grandma’s kitchen as a little girl.

I ran out of cheese, so didn’t top them all enough and I think that I rolled the puff pastry a touch too thin.

This one was probably the best of the batch.  Lotte, you may have to help me fill in the gaps!  I’m not sure but I may be missing something…

Beth had some puff pastry fun too –

Sitting on cooling racks is how I most remember Grandma’s cheese pastries, my impatience cementing the image below in my young mind, waiting for them to cool always took too long.

They are not likely to last very long, as everyone in the house loves cheese, so I guess I’ll be using my kitchen as a time-machine again quite soon.  Maybe I should go for mince pies a bit closer to Christmas?  I haven’t tasted a better mince-pie than the ones grandma used to bake.



Posted in Food, Homemade, Journal, Musings with tags on 16/09/2011 by Jen Healey

At about 7am this morning I walked by my open bedroom window and caught the scent of autumn… it made me smile.  I love this time of year, there is so much to look forward to – Halloween (of course), Bonfire Night, Christmas and warming comfort food whilst snuggled up all cozy at home with family.  To quote Ina Garten – “What’s not to like?”

I don’t mind the cold or the dark, unsurprisingly.  The colours and clothes are more to my taste and who doesn’t like the festivities?

My hubby is not a fan of the trick or treaters and I don’t like the icy roads, but that’s about all I can think of as negative about this end of the year.  Bring it on!

Yesterday I cooked the first casserole of the year, beef with bacon, veggies and small jersey potatoes, which was finished off by Jakey and myself for lunch today.  Not to brag, but it was warm, tasty and felt wholesome and comforting.  Simple stuff, but nice little pleasures to be savoured.

To those poor folks who suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is not a term that I hear at work at all really, I say – get involved in the celebrations, at whatever level you are comfortable with.  You could go all out, if you have the time and resources, and make your own decorations for Halloween and Christmas, and cook/bake treats for parties and visitors.  Enjoy the simple things in good company this season and the next.  As long as the roads aren’t too bad!



Posted in Books, Films, Reviews, Supe-para-natural with tags , , on 16/09/2011 by Jen Healey

It is a bit early for me to be getting all excited about the next installment of the Twilight saga films, as it is not due for release until 18th November.  However, I have just read the Twilight graphic novel volume 1 (see my goodreads shelf) and, after firing up my netbook this afternoon, I found a really good trailer for Breaking Dawn – Part 1 on my email home page news.  Check it out here.

I know that the impending arrival of a half-vampire baby is unlikely to be news to… well anyone, which makes the title of the article on the above link doubly misleading.  It is no big ‘reveal’ that Bella gets pregnant, nor does the video actually show you the child.  Hmmm.  Perhaps the author of the article is a little less than enthusiastic about the saga.  Still, it does look good though!  I can’t wait!  I may have to read Breaking Dawn again before the film is released, perhaps these reminders are giving me enough time to do that?!  I’m going to have to fight the urge to do so until I’ve finished one of the other books I’m reading… maybe.


They were bloody good!

Posted in Mental Morsels, Music, Musings with tags , , , on 10/09/2011 by Jen Healey

Lately I’m listening to quite a bit of music that harks back to my teens, after quite a long stint of listening to Type O Negative, classic rock (judge all you like, you know it’s good) and not a great deal else.

As the CD player in my car has officially handed in its notice, and I’m not posh enough to have mp3 capability in it, I have been subjected to listening to the radio on a regular basis.  Hmmmm.  It sometimes surprises and delights, but the majority of it sucks!  Kerrang radio seems to be the least worst of the stations that I flick through whilst driving.  They have recently played some fairly awesome tracks from decent bands, which were really unexpected.

For example, Skunk Anansie 

Yes, back in the day, I did indeed love to wear the black lipstick whenever possible.  I remember really ‘reading into’ the headmistress of my high school saying that I looked “awful” in my metal/goth-ness one non-uniform day as she walked past me in the corridor (incidentally, this is the only occasion that she spoke to me during my days at high school).  What better representation and reinforcement of my angsty ‘fuck the system’ feelings could I have asked for?!  I didn’t think much to her button-down pastels and tweedy, ultra conservative erm… style?!!!  You don’t see me saying that kind of thing to others about their clothing/make-up choices.  Flippin’ old trout with her rudeness.  Humph.

But I digress, Skunk Anansie were a huge part of my teenage playlist – not that it was called a playlist in the 90’s, probably a mix-tape.  Yeah I went there.  They disbanded for many years but are back together and recording again I believe.

Another band that fell off my radar, by which I mean I forget about them for big chunks of time, then really enjoy having a good old (private) sing-a-long when I hear them on the radio, are Placebo.

Pearl Jam also seem to be getting a good airing at the moment, yay!

Pantera featured pretty heavily and was a regular in my cassette Walkman on the school bus, playground and in odd maths lesson – I had a lot of long hair that made this possible.  In fact after Guns n Roses they were my next favourite band in my early teens.  Later on discovered the awesome world of industrial metal in the form of White Zombie, Ministry and the mighty Nine Inch Nails.  This video combines both NIN and The Crow – which was watched many times and graced my bedroom wall.

Brandon Lee was hot, especially made up and wearing black.

It is a shame when a band that you love becomes associated with an unhappy time in your life, or is that just me?  But I’m all for revisiting those albums, after a decent chunk of time has passed, so that I can take them back.  I’m starting to agree with the cheesy notion that, the past should not interfere with the present to the degree that it impairs your enjoyment of things that used to give you pleasure.  With that in mind, I’m ‘taking back’ some of the bands that I didn’t listen to because of the memories that they evoke.  I figure that letting the past control what you do in the present is not going to help anyone to move forward.

Taking it back…  🙂


Jakey’s 1st Birthday

Posted in Fledgling Foodie File, Food, Homemade, Journal with tags , , , , on 08/09/2011 by Jen Healey

Today is/was my little baby boy’s first birthday, it was pretty busy in places, but he’s fast asleep as I type – all tuckered out!  He’s not the only one!  The whole household is pretty tired, but I think we’ve all enjoyed marking the occasion.  We didn’t have a party, but there was a cake or two, obviously made by yours truly.  There were fairy cakes, which I baked yesterday and iced today –

The birthday boy, whilst I was icing and assembling the above, ate an entire (un-iced) fairy cake – that’s my boy!

His birthday cake was a chocolate sandwich cake, from a Cadbury’s cookbook, which I baked and iced yesterday, but applied the crumbled Flake today (as suggested by my hubby).

This was pretty much it’s best side!

I think I should maybe have a few days off baking, after one last batch of biscuits tomorrow (Rachel, save some room at lunch time).  This obsession is taking over my blog and I have many other subjects to blog about which aren’t getting a look in at the moment.

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