Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Make-Up Faves (aka bigging up the Nars Laguna bronzer)

I have been a beauty product junkie since my very early teens when my best friend and I would go into town on a Saturday morning and spend a huge chunk of our allowance on spot cream, Rimmel 'pink shimmer' lipstick, Exclamation! perfume and Fenjal bubble bath.  A quick mooch around Boots is always a tonic on a 'blah' day but one of my favourite Saturday afternoon activities is to wander around the beauty hall of a big department store, sniffing bottles, spritzing perfumes and swatching blushers.

Some of my favourite beauty supplies, many in travel-sized containers which I always buy despite them being rubbish value for money.  The Bioderma 100ml crealine water is so cute!
When I was packing for my little spa trip with Andrew for his birthday last week I laid out all of my make-up and beauty products so that I wouldn't forget anything.  It made me think about my 'make-up journey'.  (Feel free to make a derisive snort at that term... I did.  The thing is, it really has been a bit of a journey).  

Until about a year ago I had a huge box full of make-up that I never used.  It mostly contained brightly coloured lipstick.  It also held a large number of false eyelash sets and quite a lot of glittery eyeliners and eyeshadows.  I had to hit my 30s to learn that no matter how much I aspired to be one of those perfectly made-up women with four shades of beautifully blended eyeshadow, sculpted cheeks and juicy pink lips, it was never going to happen. That look just doesn't suit me.  I have come to realise that the make-up products that really float my boat are the ones that make me look like a fresher, healthier version of myself.  I have quite pigmented skin from a contraceptive pill and Spanish holiday that didn't mix well in my late 20s and although I'm using products to reduce the pigmentation (and will have a mild facial peel in the autumn) I like to use make-up that evens out my skin tone, gives me a healthy flush and highlights my cheekbones.  The below photo is practically my entire make-up collection now.  I have a few more blushers and highlighters, the same foundation in a slightly darker shade for the summer and a few eyeliner pencils, all Mac, but different colours.  I'm quite proud of myself that I've managed to whittle it down to so few products.

Mac, Nars and Laura Mercier are my favourite brands.  I'm generally not a bronzer fan but since discovering Nars bronzer in Laguna it's a staple product in my make-up bag - I'm on my third pan now.  It's a brown shade, rather than orange, and has no shimmer at all so gives a nice natural colour that helps to even up my skin tone when I've been out in the sun.  I definitely recommend it. 

I've recently discovered Soap & Glory make-up following a 3 for 2 deal in Boots - I love the body products in the range but had never tried the make-up.  (Foam Call shower gel smells so good!)  Cheekmate is an amazing gel blusher that you can also use on your lips.  You need a teeny tiny amount (about the size of a pinhead) as it's a really strong colour but, applied sparingly, it is the exact tone of my cheeks after a zumba class so it suits me perfectly.  It also has staying power and lasts all day.  The Supercat eyeliner pen is a Soap & Glory product too.  I rarely use gel eyeliners (I usually end up looking more like a drunk drag queen than beauty queen) but this one is idiot-proof.  It gives a nice even line with minimal pressure.  I like it a lot!  

I use Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation in Bone and always apply it with the stippling brush (two-toned in the picture) it gives a much more natural finish than using your fingertips or a regular foundation brush.  Laura Mercier shimmer blocks are to die for and my favourite Mac eyeliners are Phone Number and Tarnish.  I also like the dark plum, dark navy and forest green for a bit of a change. That's as exciting as it gets! 

Has anyone else got any amazing make-up finds they'd like to share?  I'm all ears.



Sunday, 27 May 2012

Lashings of summer cheer!

If my blog was a stage I'd be tap dancing my way onto it right now, repeatedly tipping my sequinned top hat and grinning my head off.  That's how I feel - it has been such a lovely weekend.  We've done very little but I've rediscovered ice pops, planted all of my little homegrown seedlings and had a lovely afternoon tea at a lovely local garden centre with my lovely friend.  Lovely.

Our garden is the size of a postage stamp and although I've dug a little bed for my cut flowers, it just isn't big enough for all the seeds I've grown.  So I've been planting into the vintage crates I bought last year.  They look really nice in the garden with the rusty old galvanised steel buckets and wicker planters I've collected, I'm super-chuffed with them.  

Here's the garden before we'd done anything with it this weekend.  See - tiny.  We do have another garden behind the hedge (behind the dog) but that's more of a yard and needs some serious prettifying (next weekend's job).  Thank goodness you can't see it from our lawn, it's a bit depressing!  That little bare patch with the peony on the left is now chocker with my plants.  Eek!  I just threw them all in, kind of in a random order (!) and am hoping for the best. It's my first year of growing cut flowers - this is all experimental.  When (and if!) I manage to pick my own bunch of flowers you will hear me whooping across the length and breadth of the country.  I am not holding my breath, though.  At best, I will product a decent bunch of sweet peas.  

It was lovely in the garden, we brought out the radio and did a bit of dancing as we worked (Andrew was painstakingly digging out the weeds from in between the patio slabs - a horrid job).

Today I made coffee cupcakes, which had all disappeared within an hour, and we lounged outdoors.  Then I put on a floaty summer frock and took my friend out for afternoon tea to celebrate her last day of singledom - she's getting married tomorrow.  (Good luck Mel and John!  Big kiss!)  We had a really nice time - there is a garden centre near us called Beckworth Emporium which also has a big farm shop and cafe/restaurant.  I love it there.  We sat in the garden and ordered afternoon tea:

Not the most elegant presentation but it was bloody delicious.  We took boxes of the cake home with us.
We sat in the shade and had a good gossip for a couple of hours.  Mel was all glammed up with her hair, fingers and toes all buffed up. :-)  We came home with bellies full of cake and brown paper bags full of fab things - fresh strawberries and cherries, pink geraniums, old-fashioned ginger beer and fabric patchwork Union Jack bunting.  Happy girlies.

Tonight, Andrew and I laid a blanket on the lawn and had a picnic of cheese and coleslaw open sandwiches with apricot flapjack and big mugs of tea.  We followed it up with a late evening walk with the dog through the fields.  Absolute bliss.


Now, we are music lovers in this house - the radio or ipod is always playing, more so than the TV (I hardly watch any TV at all).  One of my favourite ever albums is perfect to listen to in this weather and I thought I'd share my fave summery track from the album.  This is Hafdis Huld and 'Daisy'.  Hope you like it. 

It's from the album Synchronised Swimmers - I can really recommend it.  I can listen to this album on repeat and never get bored of it.

Have a good week lovelies!



PS - Remember in my last post I talked about dealing with the wanties?  They hit hard and I was powerless to them, but I know now that you girls 'totes' get it!  Cuckoo's fault this time:

Starry Polish ware with strawberries and cream macaroons

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Dealing with the Wanties

Sponsored post.

I have an illness.   It’s called 'the wanties'.  I don’t think it is hereditary but I am fairly sure that it’s contagious.  I seem to catch it from my Mum, my sister, my friends and my bloddies.  Admittedly some days it is worse than others but it’s always there - an illness that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life.  I think I am beyond cure now but I have found ways to make the symptoms more manageable for my husband and me.  I have tried many things but the most effective approach, I have found, is to have savings.  I don’t have much in the way of savings at any one time but the money we have kept by has certainly helped me through the more serious bouts of the illness. 

My current spending obsession - this smells amazing! Have bought two bottles of the shower gel since our spa trip!

Joking aside, I do sometimes feel as though I am cursed with an illness called the wanties.   An ex of mine always called me a ‘marketeer’s dream’.  He was so right.  I am a sucker for marketing tricks; nice styling and special offers having me reaching for my wallet every time.  I have always read lots of magazines which add fuel to the fire but now I’ve discovered blogging I am even worse.  No wonder so many ad agencies have cottoned on to the power of the blogger’s review; the rapport between bloggers can be very strong and a review by someone whose opinions you have come to trust can be very powerful indeed.  If the lovely Vanessa, for example, recommends a book it’s in my Amazon basket quicker than you can say ‘crochet’.  If Lucy shares the gorgeous colourful photos of her Spring bulbs, my supermarket shop is a teeny bit more expensive that week as hyacinths and daffodils sneak their way into the trolley.  
I used to think that credit cards were the way to deal with the wanties.  Stick everything on the credit card and worry later.  Instant gratification.  Then I married a bank manager who frowned upon my frivolous spending.  (I caved; it’s a sexy frown let me tell you.)  Now I have ‘pocket money’ each week and if I don’t spend it, I save it.  The money goes into my savings account and enables me to have a proper splurge when the wanties hit hard.  It is amazing how easy it is for me to control the wanties when I know that I have the means to make a guilt-free purchase.  Savings are so precious to me that I think twice, often thrice, before hitting the ‘confirm order’ button.  This makes me happy - I feel liberated and in control - when I buy something that I’ve thought long and hard about, I am even more grateful for it.  Andrew’s happy, too.  No more cheery announcements of "baked beans for dinner all week I’m afraid, darling, but I do have the most gorgeous handbag you’re going to just LOVE". 

My new and beloved De Manta clutch bag.  Paid for with the pocket money I saved.  Yay me! 

Hope everyone is having a good week!  So glad it's nearly the weekend, I've got loads planned including a bit of shopping at a local vintage fair and afternoon tea with my oldest friend before she gets married on Monday.    

Thanks for popping by - I need to catch up on loads of blogs this weekend as I feel a bit out of touch.  With these gorgeously sunny evenings I just have to be outside!  :-)  


Monday, 21 May 2012

Sam Stern 'Virgin to Veteran' and a spot of vintage shopping

As soon as I heard about the opportunity to review this book, I stuck my hand up.  I'd heard of Sam Stern before and considered buying one of his books but never quite got round to it.  His previous books have been, I think, very much aimed at a younger audience (hence my temptation to buy one - I am not a confident cook) and I am quite sure that his latest book - Virgin to Veteran - was written especially for me!

The book starts with loads of helpful little tips about food and cooking techniques.  It includes hints on 'Fridge Etiquette', 'How To Freeze Stuff' and suggests what to keep in your store cupboard.  There is a whole section on 'Vegetables and Salads' advising what to look for when choosing veg, how to cook different types of vegetable and which dishes to serve them with.

It covers all of the basics including fish pie, roast chicken and spaghetti bolognese and there is a fab recipe for roast pork and baked apples.

Although it includes all of the basics you'd expect to see, a few unusual recipes also make a welcome appearance - the aromatic lamb madras, Greek lamb pie and asparagus ravioli all sound delicious. There are also a few burger suggestions I'd love to try out.

The book didn't just appeal to me because I'm a novice cook (although it would be a fantastic gift for any teens who are heading off to uni this year).  To me, the book is a celebration of good, simple, tasty food.  It appeals to my appetite for fresh flavours and good quality ingredients.  I can see us using this book a lot - Andrew is trying to improve his culinary skills and has taken it upon himself to try a new recipe each week.  He's going to start with the easiest recipe in Sam's book this week and says he will make bruschetta (with a selection of toppings) on Wednesday night.  One suggested topping with broad beans and feta sounds especially yummy.  I am so hoping for sunshine - a plateful of freshly made bruschetta and a glass of red wine would go down a treat in the garden as the sun slowly sets.


We've had a busy old weekend - it was Andrew's 40th birthday yesterday and his Mum's present to him was an all-expenses paid trip to the hotel that we were married in two years ago.  It was utterly delightful and we had the most amazing time.  We had the spa to ourselves for about an hour yesterday afternoon which was bliss!

I did manage to fit in a tiny bit of shopping this weekend, though, as you'd expect!  In one of our local towns, Olney, there is a gorgeous little shop called Chic Boutique.  The owner is lovely and stocks (amongst other things) a wonderful selection of vintage china at really good prices - I always want to take the whole shop home with me.  I managed to control myself but did come home with this pretty  floral trio and sweet Peter Rabbit child's mug which I will save for when my niece comes to visit.

Hope everyone has a fab week.  Fingers crossed for some warm, sunny days... 



Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Peggy Porschen 'Boutique Baking' and a little cake recipe

I am a huge fan of Peggy Porschen and love her books so I was delighted to get my mitts on a copy of her latest offering 'Boutique Baking'.  As expected, it is a visual delight.  The cakes look amazing and the photography is stunning.

The book begins with recipes such as meringue kisses (gorgeous tiny pastel-coloured meringues), signature macaroons (some are heart-shaped!), morello cherry bakewell tarts and ice cream cake pops.

I am definitely going to be making these mini cinnamon doughnuts - my stepson will absolutely love them and they look so nice!  You can be sure I will pile them all up prettily in my cake dome too, just because I can.  

The book also has recipes for layer cakes, cupcakes, drinks and biscuits.  There are mini eggnog kugelhopfs that I plan to try, a lemon, almond and poppy seed cake and this gorgeous white chocolate passion cake looks so good:

There is a very well-illustrated 'techniques' section at the back of the book which gives step-by-step photography on tricks such as how to assemble (and ice) layer cakes and how to create simple flowers with cutters and veiners.  It also has the standard instructions you'd expect on how to frost cupcakes both with icing bags and palette knives.  If you have a special occasion coming up and want to create a beautifully simple but delicious cake you could do worse than trying one from this book. 

I buy this type of book all of the time - they have drool-worthy photography and beautiful styling but the recipes also tend to be fairly complicated with a huge list of ingredients.  I enjoy regular baking but if I was to constantly use recipes like this it would feel like too much of a faff and I am sure that I would be less inclined to get my cake pans out.  There is one super-easy sponge cake recipe that I have committed to memory and can whip up without a second's thought.  It's the recipe I started baking with and the one that I use almost weekly to create simple teatime treats for my favourite boys.  If you're new to baking, this is a great recipe to cut your teeth on.  

I call it the: 

Six, Six, Six Mix

I told you I have committed this to memory and this is how - by keeping the recipe in imperial measures as taught by my Great-Grandmother to my Mum and my Mum to me. (Big apologies to the young 'uns but 1oz is about 25g I think.)

The ingredients are just: 

6oz softened butter or baking spread (Stork)
6oz caster sugar 
6oz self-raising flour 
3 medium eggs 

This amount of batter will give you at least 12 large cupcakes, a good-sized tray bake or a small cutting cake (say, a 5" tin).  But if you want to make bigger cakes, or more cupcakes just increase the ingredients: for every 2oz you use 1 egg.  Simples. (So: 8oz butter, 8oz sugar, 8oz SR flour means you use 4 eggs. And so on.)

The method

Switch your oven on:  gas mark 5 or about 180C.  Grease or line a tin (or line a muffin tin with paper cases).

Cream together the sugar and the butter/spread for ages until pale and fluffy.  If you have a free-standing mixer this bit is great - I just switch it on and potter around the kitchen for a while, stopping every now and then to scrape the mix from around the sides of the bowl.  An electric hand mix is also useful but my great-grandma used a good old wooden spoon and her buns were delish.

Sieve your flour than add a large spoonful together with one egg to the sugary, buttery mix.  Mix up a tiny bit.  It will look as though it's about to curdle - don't worry.  Add the remaining eggs in the same way (with a spoonful of flour) mixing a bit in between.  When all the eggs have been added, throw in the rest of the flour and mix until you get a smooth batter.  At this point, I always add a tablespoon of cold water.  (I use a tablespoon of cold water however many ounces of ingredients I use.  It just makes the batter a little looser.)

Stick a finger in the mix and test it.  (Optional but yum.)

Pop your mix in your tin/cases and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.  If baking a large cake with more ingredients you could need to bake for up to 45 minutes.  You know it's ready when the top of the cake is pale gold, it doesn't wobble when you move the tin and/or when you insert a skewer into the middle of the cake it comes out clean.  

(You can also tell whether a cake is cooked or not by the noise it makes.  An uncooked sponge cake will fizzle a bit and sound 'wet'. Just chuck it back into the oven for a few more minutes.)  With some cakes you have to be careful of opening the oven door when they are baking in case they sink.  As long as you let these bake for a minimum of 15 mins with the door firmly closed you'll be fine to keep popping them in and out of the oven until they are cooked to perfection.

Allow to cool and decorate with your choice of topping.  A really simple option is to just make some royal icing (lots of icing sugar and a drop of water or lemon juice) and sprinkle sugar strands on the top.  That's what I did with my tray bake last week - my family calls it 'bits and bobs' cake.  It's a winner every single time.


So there you have it.  A simple recipe that you can memorise and pull out wherever you may be.  I love the feeling that I always know exactly how to make a lovely cake, wherever we are, and could bake it in an empty baked bean tin if absolutely necessary.  It's like an important life skill for me!  Just remember:  666.   

It produces a lovely sponge cake but it's quite rich so won't last more than a few days (not a problem in our house).  When you get confident with this simple sponge you can start to vary the flavours:  add a tablespoon of coffee essence and frost with coffee buttercream or add a tablespoon or lemon juice and drizzle with a mix of equal parts lemon juice and sugar.  Swap out a little flour for an equal measure of sieved cocoa powder to make chocolate cake.  You could also throw in a few chopped glace cherries, raisins or chocolate chips for a bit of variety.

I am sure there are lots of you who are more experienced bakers and will have rolled your eyes at me publishing such a basic recipe but then I am hoping there will be a few of you who, like I used to, really want to learn to bake but think it sounds a bit scary.  After using this recipe a few times, you'll be well on your way to trying one of Peggy's gorgeous creations.



Sunday, 13 May 2012

Gardening, Sandals and Wild Acre Jewellery

The last time I wrote, I moaned about the weather.  Not today!  This weekend has been chilly, admittedly, but beautifully sunny too.  The dog has enjoyed plenty of leisurely walks (she tends to get marched round when it's raining and is dragged roughly away from anything she tries to sniff) and I managed to get out in the garden.

I've potted on some seeds and planted up a little herb box.  We have basil, mint, chives, thyme and parsley.  It felt great nipping out the back door yesterday evening to collect some basil leaves for my tomato and mozzarella salad!  Rocket, mizuna, lettuce and mustard are all growing from seed in my mini greenhouse and I hope to be able to pick my own salad come high summer.  I am not holding my breath; said seedlings are currently puny, pale and a bit floppy.  I can't hold it against them though - don't we all feel a bit pale and floppy right now?  This sunshine has been a long time coming.

I have been collecting these vintage crates for a while and have quite a stash.  I am thrilled to finally have a sensible use for them.  I did intend to keep them in my new dining room sideboards but then got wibbly about potential woodworm so don't really want to use them indoors.

The sweet peas in my handmade (oh yes! *high fives*) teepee are doing well.  I have to keep weaving them around the willow to train them properly but they seem quite happy.

I did get garden envy today.  We went to my MIL's for lunch and her garden is always beautiful.  She grows the majority of her plants from seed and whilst they are almost ready to plant out, the stars of the garden at the moment are the bluebells.

Aren't they beautiful?  They looked so pretty in the sunshine today.  We do have a few in our own garden, which MIL gave to us, but they look astonishingly pretty in their masses.

I tried to sit out in the garden for a while after lunch, with J (stepson).  We spent about ten minutes chatting about his forthcoming RE exam whilst I crocheted but then had to admit defeat - there was a rather robust wind and it was cold!  The nip in the air did not stop me wearing my new Sam Edelman sandals, however.  I am prepared to risk hypothermia for a shoe debut.

I wore them with my Current/Elliott boyfriend jeans and a cream cotton fisherman's jumper from Jack Wills.  If you're interested, I'm wearing Chanel Blue Rebel polish on my toes.  Not sure how much I like it - I'm not usually one for odd-coloured polish. I prefer nudes and reds.  I have bought some pastel nail colours to wear this year but I know I won't wear them.  Cuckoo was talking on her blog recently about aspirational clothes shopping and it really resonated with me.  Like my huge box full of garish nail polish, my wardrobe is full of ridiculously high-heeled shoes that I can hardly walk in.  (Don't tell my husband I admitted to that though, please.)

I love fashion jewellery and I'm building a collection of bracelets at the moment; I like to see an armful of bracelets and I especially like friendship bracelets in the summer months.  I am trying to make my own with a cool kit from Paperchase and some substituted neon cord but have since found a more grown-up (and, frankly, gorgeous) option.

Wild Acre jewellery makes my heart race.  Belinda creates contemporary jewellery that is inspired by nature with a specific focus on shape and texture.  It's the kind of jewellery that makes you want to reach out and touch it.  I bought a couple of friendship bracelets from Belinda over Christmas for friends (which they LOVED!) and, knowing they were a seasonal item, asked if there happened to be any left over.  Of course there weren't, but Belinda has made a few for the summer with different coloured cords.  The beads are real silver and sooo sparkly.  (I'm sure B will have a fit over the quality of my photo but it is difficult to photograph spangles properly!).

The turquoise and hot pink bracelets were the first friendship bracelet purchase from Belinda before my addiction really took hold.   I'm pleased to have a found a 'posh' friendship bracelet - I think they looka bit more grown-up than the cheaper versions and they complement my silver jewellery nicely.

This key pendant is also a Wild Acre creation and I get loads of comments every time I wear it.  It's a Victorian key that Belinda found at Spitalfields market and had cast in silver.  I adore it.  It's on a long, brushed silver chain and goes with everything.

If you would like to treat yourself or a friend to one of these lovely bracelets for summer the Wild Acre shop is here.  The bracelets are £15 each - bargain. I think you'll need to contact Belinda directly to let her know what you're after, like I did.  Whilst you're there, take a look at Belinda's blog.  She is one of those people who is uplifting to be around and her blog about her summer flower business and her jewellery is a good read.

So, an epic post I'm afraid but I had a spontaneous blog break and had loads to tell you.  Hope you had a cuppa to hand!  There is still more to come - I won a giveaway on Nina's blog this week and I'm skippy with excitement to show you how I've organised our bathroom and kitchen recently.  Add to that a bit of waffle about some killer new beauty products, a couple of new craft projects and a super-easy cake recipe and there is plenty more for me to bore you with in the coming weeks!

Thanks for sticking with me, I promise to be more concise next time. Have a good week.



PS - Hi to my new followers!  Please do leave a comment so that I (and my other followers) can find you.  We all love a bit of new blood!  :-)

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Sunshine Award

Hands up if you feel a bit 'meh' at the moment.  That's British weather for you.  I am trying my best to embrace the gloomy days and get cosy at home but I'm a bit huffy that I have to light the woodburners every day and wrap up in my winter clothes.

I bought these.  Why can't I wear them?!  *sulks*

I had a lovely comment on my last post from Lily at Gingham & Daisies to let me know that she had given me the Sunshine Award.

So chuffed!  It's really nice to know that someone out there enjoys reading my blog.  Thanks Lily, you made my day. :-)

In order to receive it I have to answer ten questions and then pass the award on to five other people.  Choosing just five blogs worthy of the award is going to be difficult because there are so many I could nominate, so I'll start with the easy bit:

1.  Favourite colour?
Impossible to say.  I don't like wearing colourful clothes (black, grey, neutrals and navy all the way for me) and I am not keen on too much colour in the house either.  I like splashes of red and pink.  I also like cool blues.  Struggle with orange and lilac.  (Favourite sweets are the green ones, if you're interested.)

2.  Favourite number?
I don't have a favourite number.  That concept is a bit odd to me; I don't understand how you can favour one number over another.  Words, though, are something else.  I have loads of favourite words.  Current favourite is 'tumultuous'.  Read into that what you will.

3.  Favourite animal?
Am I allowed two favourites?  Dogs and monkeys.

4.  Favourite non-alcoholic drink?
Coffee - I drink far too much of it.  The problem is that it is the perfect partner in crime with my favourite foods (cakes and chocolate).

5.  Do I prefer facebook or twitter?
I am fairly new to twitter but prefer it to facebook, especially with a bit of instagram thrown in.  Instagram is great fun.  Come find me (I'm xxNickiFxx) - I'd love to follow you.  (That sounds a bit creepy but you know what I mean.)

6.  What is my passion?
This is an enormous question!  Whilst I care a great deal about a lot of things, I am most passionate about child welfare.  I love children and am fascinated, delighted and appalled by them in equal measure.  I don't have children of my own but I have such strong views on how children should be raised and the type of life I think they have a right to.  Youth culture fascinates me and ever since the riots last year I have found myself pondering our society almost every single day.  I could go on and on (and I would if we were sitting in a pub sharing a bag of crisps and a bottle of wine - you're spared!).

7.  Do I prefer giving or receiving?
I'm ashamed to admit that I prefer to receive. *hangs head in shame*  I am always thrilled with any kind of gift but I find it stressful choosing the perfect present for someone.  I want things to be special and worry too much.  The whole experience of gift-giving is just one stress after another for me!

8.  Favourite pattern?

9.  Favourite day of the week?
Friday!  The prospect of a whole weekend ahead and the ability to do as you please for two whole days with your favourite people is so uplifting.  I love the sense of anticipation that Friday brings.

10. Favourite flower?
Peonies are my very favourite.  Especially very large, blousy, pale pink ones that are almost ready to keel over.

And on to the five people I'm passing the award to.  As I said, there are loads of people I could easily give the award to but I'm going to go for some of the blogs that I've only recently discovered:

Hopefully all of those links work, blogger was misbehaving.