Category Archives: Tina’s Favourites

It Takes five (ingredients that is)

I love cooking and baking and although not trying out too many recipes from my vast book collection, my love of food is still there. I am probably still a person who is a traditionalist with her meat and vegetable meals but have made Mondays a meat free day. I have to work hard on remembering this when making my sandwich for work.

Another thing I do tend to do is follow recipes very closely and rarely deviate from them. I’ve surprised myself recently by actually coming up with my own Monday night recipe. This one is quick and easy and contains just five ingredients; three of which are my favourite foods of the moment.

5 ingredients

The ingredients are (first three are my favourites):

  1. Cauldron Lincolnshire vegetarian sausages – I love sausages and wanted to find a vegetarian sausages. The reviews were very good for these and I can confirm that they are lovely. They do a few varieties and whilst normally I would go for a Cumberland, they are not as good as a Lincolnshire.
  2. Spinach – I just so love this. Why does it disintegrate so much!
  3. Goats cheese – Chris has raved about this for years but I’ve only just started enjoying it. My favourite cheese (other than cheddar) at the moment. I will still eat Camembert, Brie, Wensleydale with cranberry, etc!
  4. Baked potatoes – I forgot; I love potatoes in any form – mashed, roasted, chipped, baked and let’s not forget the plain boiled new potato.
  5. Peppers – any colour will do.
Colourful Dish

Tina’s method

  1. I allow 2 sausages per person and whilst I could fry this, I tend to stick these in the oven for 20 minutes whilst preparing the rest. The great thing about these sausages is that you can actually cook them from frozen so I don’t have to remember to get them out of the freezer.
  2.  I put the potatoes in the microwave allowing one per person.    Whilst these are cooking, I slice two peppers (any colour but red and yellow give a wonderful colour to the dish).
  3. Once the potatoes are cooked, (I always over cook but it still works) I slice each one into wedges. My lovely red pan is put onto heat with a squirt of oil. I add the potatoes to this and fry until turning a golden brown. Then add the peppers and continue frying for a few more minutes.
  4.  I then chop the cooked sausages up, add to the pan along with a bag of spinach and continue cooking until the spinach has wilted. It might look like a lot of spinach but it isn’t when this process has completed.
  5. Add the goats cheese and the dish is ready to be served. Once upon a time, I would have made sure Chris has the most of everything. I realise now that life is too short; I go for lots of goats cheese!
Tina’s Veggie Sausage and Goat Cheese Delight

New potatoes can be substituted for the baked potatoes.

The sausages are also great in a toad in the hole (another favourite dish).

Toad in the Hole

Hope you enjoy this dish.

The Boy From Wham Will Help You Reach That Goal

This Saturday, Chris and I set off with music on to complete challenge 22 – visit somewhere in England you never have before. There are lots of places in England I haven’t been so think I will make this a regular occurrence. For this challenge we were off to Goring on Thames. I do like villages and towns with water; I loved Arundel which had the River Arun running through. I actually plan to go back there. Another big favourite is Bourton on the Water, the Venice of the Cotswolds, with the beautiful river Windrush.

In this case, I actually wanted to go to Goring to say goodbye to my idol, George Michael. It felt a bit mad going but whilst I can never take the title of super fan, George has been part of my/our life. We love listening to his music and we chose to go to what would have been George’s last concert on our 25th wedding anniversary. We knew it would be a memorable day but we never thought it would be the last time George would perform. It was the day that I knew how much George’s music and his fantastic voice meant in our relationship.

I did feel a bit weird asking Chris if we could go there but he was all for it. With George singing to us, we reached our destination by 9.20. Chris had done more research than me and could point out George’s house as we approached the village from the bridge and we were able to see the many memorials left from the car. We parked up and headed through the pretty village and headed to see the house. I don’t know why I thought it was a bit mad, there were other couples (all our age!) looking too, and four months on there still lots of messages from fans, fresh flowers, photos and funny items like a wispa bar and bottles of Tropicana. It felt sad that this was where my idol had died and that he would not be making any more beautiful songs.

I would never meet my idol either; although I don’t think I had wanted to anyway. I don’t think he would have disappointed me; more than likely the other way round. I would have said something stupid or giggled like a little girl that I would have regretted forever! I much prefer idolising from afar.

We visited a few shops and enjoyed a lovely breakfast in the village. Everyone is friendly in the village and we had a lovely chat with one shop assistant, a lovely South African lady who had a lovely tale to tell of how she came to be living in England and working in Goring. We then had a lovely walk along the Thames and enjoyed the views along the way including the full view of George’s house before stopping to have a drink at the Miller at Mansfield.

On our way home, we stopped at Popham Airfield for tea and cake. As Chris had turned down the chance of a flying lesson to help me get my tick, how could I object. I actually do love visiting airfields so not a big deal!

All in all, I have two boys that have to thank for helping me with this challenge, my husband and George, my secret love.

It’s been a cold, cold winter

This is my last happy post of February. Whilst I can’t say January was unhappy (work was certainly less hectic than last year), February has been a lovely month.

My little girl turned 21 and she wanted a day in Brighton. Well in contrast to our beautiful day there in September, it was freezing. Even in my duffle coat, I was shivering but that never puts us off our family days in Brighton; I forced the kids to eat fish and chips on the pier in Brighton in the pouring rain for my birthday one year. We really do have some great memories of the place.

As Kathryn had taken so long opening her presents,( she only had time to eat a very nice panna cotta made by Aaron, her boyfriend), first stop for us all was lunch. We headed to the Lanes (I love this place) and enjoyed tapas in a lovely Spanish restaurant. Certainly warmed us up.

Apart from eating, what can you do in Brighton in the cold. Well you look in all the shops. I found the perfect sauté pan, found my perfect bag (I will share later!), bought my smiley faces biscuit cutters (make me very happy) and bought my frame for challenge number 14 – frame a photograph you have always wanted to. Very successful shopping trip for me.

My kids might be classed as grown ups but I did have trouble dragging them away from the Lego store. In the end, talk of food coaxed them away. Kathryn introduced us to Choccywoccydoodah, a shop that sells hand-made chocolate and cakes. They are located in The Lanes. We made our way up to their Bar Du Chocolat, which is their cafe selling drinks and delicious cakes. We decided to try one of their hot chocolates which was delicious.

Kathryn and Aaron were staying in Brighton for the night so Jordan and I made our way home, and after enjoying a lovely day, we were looking forward to our warm home.

After a happy February, I am looking forward to getting back to business and completing my challenges!

Can’t Buy Me Happiness

Monday 13th February was a happy day for me and one that made me appreciate all I have with no money spent.

After a very cold weekend, Monday was glorious. I walk 2 miles to work and sometimes I am faster than the traffic. It was surprisingly quiet on the walk in.

Work is something we have to do to earn the money to live. I would actually prefer to be home doing all the things I love to do but needs must, and I don’t actually mind it really. A few more holidays might be good though. The walk home was pretty amazing though. It was such a contrast to Friday which was freezing. It made me look forward to the summer.

I have to point out that I’m not one of those people who hate winter. I get a bit grumpy if I have to take the car to work because it’s raining but let’s face it, that can happen in June too. A dark, winter’s evening when all of the family are in is okay in my books. The sunshine on Monday did make me happy though and it did make the afternoon a bit longer enabling me to go out on a run. Exercise does release those endorphins that make you feel so good. Walking back to the house, I felt as if I was in a warm country when dusk falls. There were lots of people walking dogs. Winter was forgotten for a while.

The evening was spent with one of my favourite activities, baking. I had bought some happy faces biscuit cutters and decided to try jammy dodgers. Biscuits isn’t something I specialise in but I was keen to give them a try. As mad as it sounds, I got quite excited when pressing the shapes out. I was even more excited when I had put the layers together with butter cream and jam.

I went to bed feeling very happy and to make it even better, the bed had freshly laundered bedding on. Bliss.

I will share some of my happy days in February in the next week with contrasts in the weather.

She’s just a girl, she’s on fire

Happy 21st birthday to you, Kathryn, my beautiful daughter.

First of all, I must apologise for the title of this blog post; I know that this song isn’t a particular favourite but reading the meaning of the words sums up you. It is about new beginnings and to be on fire is about finding your inner strength and to take control of who you are. This is the bit I like the most:

To live your passion and shine your light unabashedly!!

As you start each stage of your life; different schools, college, university, career etc, you adapt to these circumstances but you have remained the same passionate girl who tries hard to achieve the best she can be. Coming last will not be an option for you.

As you reach 21, I can look back and remember my baby Kathryn and remember all the lovely memories. Even as a baby, you were keen to be first with a very loud scream. I think you just loved to be cuddled.

You were two when we first went to the pantomime after a visit to Santa on the Watercress Line. You were dressed in a deep red coat with a beret and an older gentleman remarked how pretty you looked. You did look amazing. That day started your love of theatre, nice clothes although wearing a coat doesn’t seem to come into the equation and being able to be bought drinks from pensioners!

A little after that, we took you on a plane for the first time. On landing, you covered your head with your favourite blanky! Blankies were your comforter and went everywhere with you.

When you started school, it was strange how you could spell so well. The other children would try to challenge you with finding a word that you might not be able to spell but I don’t think they succeeded. On to junior school, and the headmistress often said you were “quietly confident”. That perfectly summed you up and you did manage to surprise everyone by coming second in your first cross country. That wasn’t good enough for you though and first place was yours the following year.

School and college became harder but you did rise to the challenge and succeeded in gaining your place at University. The last few years have flown by and you will soon be entering the workplace. You will take that in your stride too.

The competitive Kathryn is amusing to watch especially the victims. Why is it the male species even think they should voice their opinions that they are the better in certain sports so you will never beat them. They are often taken down a peg or two by you!

You have always made lots of friends and as you are kind, generous and loyal, you have kept them. Can prove a bit of a problem when you return home and try to fit in seeing everyone. As well as dedication to your friends, I must not forget your love for McFly.

Whilst parents would love to take most of the credit for how their children “turn out”, we do have to accept that our children make their own choices and that whilst we can guide them, we have to allow them be the wonderful people they are. Can I ask for credit for two things; your love of reading which can also be shared with the lovely lady from the library who read to you in story time. I do miss our bedtime reads. The other is you being able to make the best Victoria sponges for your friends’ birthdays. Baking with you, Jordan and even your friends was a lovely experience.

Kathryn baking

Watching you grow up has been wonderful; you are an inspiration to me even with the challenges!


Have a wonderful 21st birthday in one of our favourite places.

Last Christmas

It’s Boxing Day and I hope everyone enjoyed a lovely Christmas. Mine was exactly how I like it; with my family.

I want to share some presents with you. One present I had for Christmas was a book/diary – One Line A Day, a five year memory book. Each page represents each day of the year but you have spaces for 5 different years. This means that over the years you can compare the similarities of your life. It is a bit like Facebook when it pops up reminding you of an event from last year!


I was so impressed with this and the family thought it was brilliant too. I was planning to start on January 1st but although the first page is that date, you can start any day you want. I decided to start last night as I had such a lovely day and I wanted to record it. This morning I was devastated about what entry I would be making today; the news that my secret love (not so secret anymore) has sadly died.

I am talking about George Michael. I can remember clearly the day I fell in love with him. I was out with Chris at the Cocked Hat when the video of  Wake Me Up came on the large TV screen. I don’t know whether it was the music, the voice or his shorts but I just could not take my eyes of him. That began my obsession for him.


Luckily, not in the same way although he would have had better success, Chris did enjoy George’s music and his talent so we both did go to see him perform. Our first concert was a Wham concert in Bournemouth. I was very gooey eyed at the age of 18! The next concert was the Faith tour at Earls Court. It was the day he had sung at the Nelson Mandela concert. As well as his own songs from Faith, he sung the old songs from Wham and a fantastic cover of Play that Funky Music. He did covers so well.

Our next concert was at Wembley arena for 25live tour. There were 4 of us and we sat in a row of 4 and despite George having a cold, it was fantastic. On our way out, I always remember a lady saying how there was a tick off her bucket list. I was so happy to have been at that concert and didn’t feel the need to go to another concert. Even when concert dates were announced for his Symphonica tour I didn’t rush to buy tickets although George singing with an orchestra would be brilliant.


Due to an illness, George was forced to postpone his tour. When I saw that one of the new dates would be our 25th wedding anniversary, I knew that we had to go. I know it’s not everybody’s perfect date for a special occasion but believe me, it was ours. We stayed in The Ruebens hotel and booked a taxi from there. The taxi driver was great and shared with us his memory of dressing up in shorts and going to a fancy dress as George. It always appears that you will always be able to talk about George with anyone.

This was another concert that didn’t disappoint and George’s voice was incredible. Forget all of George’s troubles, his voice was the reason I loved him. Close your eyes and you can just feel all that emotion and imagine he is singing just for you. We came away feeling very contented. We shared our anniversary with George because his music has been the soundtrack of our relationship.

George Michael attracted a lot of media attention. He wasn’t perfect but who is. Next year when I write in my diary, I will see my entry for today and see that my memory will be my pop idol died.

George, you were Amazing x