Happy Birthday Home

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear house that we live in and now call home
Happy birthday to you

10 years ago today, we moved out of our house in the suburbs of South London and came down to Kent.  Our only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner.  I was born and bred in the suburbs and there are many advantages to such a location.  But for us, a much larger garden, semi-rural location and sense of community that comes from living in the village we have moved to, offers a better life. It is not for everyone.  But it is for us.

One of my personal goals is to learn how to use my camera properly and take better photographs.

I am reading a wonderful book my sister Holly gave me,  called ‘ From Plate To Pixel ‘ by Helene Dujardin, a professional food photographer and stylist.  She also writes the most exquisite blog – Tartelette.  Her recipes are not everyday recipes like mine are, but I want to set aside an afternoon one day and try making some of her amazing cakes and macaroons.  Most of all, I want to read and absorb the book and improve my photography.  This is one of the most aspirational blogs, in terms of photography, I have seen so have a look.  It really is a feast for your eyes.

I tried a couple of shots of my breakfast today but it is so dark inside and raining outside, so it was a challenge!  But I enjoyed setting up my shot but have a long way to go with my results.  But at least I tried and will make time in the future to keep practising.

I made a smoothie with 200 ml coconut milk, a fresh mango, 10 almonds, about 1/4 of a can of pumpkin and a pinch of pumpkin pie spice.

The coconut milk is not the type that comes from a tin and is very sweet and high in calories.  It is Kara Dairy Free Coconut Milk, which has less fat then semi-skimmed milk and nearly half the calories.  It has a less “chalky” feel in the mouth than other dairy free “milks” and does not have a strong coconut flavour so it is very useful if you are trying to avoid or reduce dairy.

I put all the ingredients in to a blender and blitzed until there were no lumps.  It had a sweet and creamy flavour and a lovely thick but smooth consistency.  The pumpkin adds extra nutrients and fibre and reduces the overall sweetness of the smoothie which is good as mangoes are very sweet.  The above quantity made 3 tumblers of smoothie and I drank them all.  Delicious.

As I was contemplating which task to start with, on my very long list, the sun came out.  The sky turned from grey to blue.  A nano second later I was in the car with the dogs headed for the forest.  As it was sunny I could take my camera.

10 minutes later – hellooooo beautiful forest.

When I have my camera with me, I take more time to notice what I am walking past.  Up close, most plants in the forest have a form of beauty, whether they are brown bracken,

or brightly coloured leaves or old berries.  They all have their charm.

As do the different scenes the forest offers.

I love the straight vertical tree trunks looming over the undulating and horizontal bracken.

So good to see the sun.  It’s been a few days!

This beautiful red maple is the tree I have been trying to photograph for weeks, but have been prevented from doing so by rain.  Endless rain.  It has lost lots of its leaves but is still lovely.

Definitely worth a look close up.

The leaves are so red!

So bright in the sunshine.

Still beautiful when on the ground.

I have walked past here so many times and never noticed the seed cases on this tree before.  Have you?

Or the toadstools on the ground.

There are so many, all around this one beautiful maple tree.

I find them quite fascinating.

The best way to appreciate a tree, is to stand under it and look up.  I love trees and up close they are amazing.  Too often I focus on the walk and just look at the path or at my eye-level view.  But today I looked up.  And down to notice the toadstools.  I bet Orla Kiely stood under trees and looked up and was then inspired to create her beautiful leaf designs.

Next time you are in a forest, go and hug a tree :-).  Go and do it when you next have a day off or at the weekend.  it’s good for the soul.

Having spent 2 hours happily walking round the forest, I was really hungry when I got home.  I picked some ripe tomatoes.

I fancied a BAT sandwich.  Yes, BAT.




Little bit of mayonnaise, salt and pepper, on lightly toasted bread.  Mmmmmmm.  Wonderful BAT sandwich.

I had lost my cooking mojo by tea time so we just had some pasta with tuna, mayonnaise and sweetcorn, which is one of Harvey’s favourites.

To celebrate the “house birthday” and in preparation for 2 friends visiting tomorrow, I made some raspberry and chocolate brownies.  I found the recipe on Eat Like A Girl, a food and travel blog I have recently discovered and am enjoying.  Her recipe for raspberry and chocolate brownies can be found here.  I didn’t have a tray small enough to make conventional brownies so I used a well greased muffin tray instead.

I used 3 types of chocolate, all plain.  I used all the raspberry, all the sea salt and 25 g of the caramel.

Raspberry and Chocolate Brownies


  • 225 g plain chocolate
  • 100 g salted butter
  • 150 g sugar
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 100 g fresh raspberries, mashed with a spoon


  1. Preheat oven to 180 ° C.
  2. Grease a muffin tray with butter
  3. Melt the butter and chocolate slowly in a pan over a low heat.  Then pour in to a mixer bowl.
  4. On medium speed, add the sugar, flour, salt and then eggs, one at a time.  Whisk for a couple of minutes.
  5. Stir in the raspberries.
  6. Spoon in to the muffin tray – the mixture made 12 muffins.
  7. Put in the oven for 25 minutes.

I haven’t cooked with chocolate for so long, I forgot how much I enjoyed it.  This was an easy recipe and smelled divine when it was baking, and then tasted wonderful.

Happy birthday house 🙂

About Lose Weight and Gain Health

Hi! My name is Zoe and I live in Hastings, East Sussex, with my son Harvey and dog, Milton. I have been fighting the fat for years but this time I am serious. I want to lose weight and gain health. This blog is about how I am changing my lifestyle so I can lose weight but not by just "being on a diet" but by making small changes to our lives so that as I lose weight, I gain health. I want my family to be healthy too and never have to struggle with their weight like I have. In common with many large people, I have gained and lost weight many times over the years. This time, I want to lose it and maintain a healthy low weight. I am interested in eating food that is nutrient dense and delicious and that appeals to children and adults. I do not eat animal products so follow a vegan diet. I try to use locally produced food supplemented with what I can grow myself. I support and try to use local farmers markets and farm shops. Another objective is to add more exercise to our days. It sounds so simple when I write it down :-)
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2 Responses to Happy Birthday Home

  1. Laura Stavro says:

    Happy Birthday to the Bennett Home!
    I am glad I just had a Natural Peanut Butter and Banana on Rye as my snack before I read this and saw the awesome Raspberry and Chocolate treats, not to mention “The Bat Sandwich”. I will have to try that for sure because it looked so awesome for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner served with some of your awesome Squash soup.
    I loved all the pictures in the forest. It looks like Kent and Brougham are about in the same state of leaf drop/colours.
    Keep up the great work. You have been keeping me inspired as well.

  2. Lara says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY HOUSE!! ❤ How wonderful!! And the photos of the walk are fantastic!! Makes me want to go to the forest now too!! Also those brownies look AMAZING!! Yummy!!

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