Scottish Vegan Homemaker

Making a home for my vegan family in the heart of Scotland…

The rooms they are a-changin’

Posted by Penny on 11/11/2012

Now, don’t look at me so accusingly!  I know!  It’s been many months since I last posted and some of you have wondered if I’ve given up my wee blog.  And have been sweet enough to say that you hope not.  No, I haven’t (well, that’s pretty obvious now, I suppose…), but I HAVE been up-to-my-eyes over the last few months* and haven’t even been reading blogs, far less writing and taking photographs for one.  However, let’s put the past behind us and move on now…

I was going to call this post, ‘Don’t go changing’, because, in fact, we haven’t actually changed bedrooms yet (It’s OK!  There’s other nice stuff in store!), but John, on bended knee and with tears in his eyes, begged me not to use a Lionel Ritchie song, so what could I do???  (OK, a wee bit of dramatic licence there, but those tears were damn close, I swear!)

Alternatively, I could have called it ‘Fangs ain’t what they used to be…

because there HAVE been some changes in the SVH household.  As I said, we haven’t changed bedrooms with Jenny yet.  It’s a LONG process!  On the other hand, I hope you’ll like the changes we HAVE made to the house.  Where will I start…?

OK…  Firstly I’ve made a few wee changes in the sitting room.  In the summer, I moved my desk away from the draught coming under and round the front door. (Wise move?  But not really necessary in the summer?  Ha!  Don’t get me started on our ‘summer’ weather!!!)  And I’ve brought down one of the bedroom bookcases to sit beside the ‘To Be Read’ one.  I’ve also stuck braid on the fronts of the shelves in an attempt to make them look more hippy and less like the cheapies that they are.  So instead of looking like this
















this bit of the sitting room now looks like this.

And I got a new, wee bookcase for the top of my desk, which holds my books for my Open University courses*

A much bigger change, however, has taken place in the back of the cottage!  I’m squeaky with excitement about it!  Our kitchen was a poky wee room, always dark and with never enough room.  Yes, I did my best with it.  I took off doors and replaced them with gingham curtains.  We removed wall cupboards and put up open shelves.  We replaced the horrible sink with an old stone sink and hung a patchwork curtain,

but the fact remained that it was just too wee!  When the dishwashing was not… er… quite up to date (blush), there was no room for the cooking and baking I enjoy.

Then one day this summer I said to John, ‘Here’s an idea!  How about we get the wall knocked through between the kitchen and the dining room and make it all into a bigger kitchen?’  And we did!!!

Our (former) dining room is a conservatory and was used mostly for tutoring and eating.  The furniture was moved around on a pretty regular basis, as the whim took me.  Here’s what it looked like at one point.  A nice wee room, I hope you’ll agree?

However, my pupil numbers have dwindled, as they’ve mostly reached the age of having sat their final exams and left school, so I don’t need the shelves of tutoring books and materials anymore.  And at my advanced age I’m really not wanting to get any more pupils, to be honest.  The few I still have, the enormous amount of typing I do for John for his Open University tutoring, my own studying and essay writing*, as well as looking after the home, are enough to keep me busy.  I AM well past retirement age after all!  So the time was right…

The wall was knocked through…

…and here is the new bit of our kitchen!








It’s not finished yet!  The cooker hood has still to be installed and there’s still some painting to be done, as you can see, but we’re getting there.

As well as cooking, baking and eating, and crafting, I tutor my few remaining pupils in here and also work on my essays*, often with a certain chap as my ‘study buddy’!








The old bit, which you can see past the kettle, remains as a cross between a utility room and food storage area.







We love all the light and the extra space!

*OK.  You’re wondering about those asterisks, aren’t you?  Well, if you cast your mind back, through the mists of time, to when I last made a blog post, you may remember that I said I’d started another course with the Open University.  Well, that one’s finished (just waiting for the result of my end of module assessment, which I’ll know mid-December) and I’ve started another on Children’s Literature.  Here are some of the books I’m studying…

I’m thoroughly enjoying it and managed to get 90% for my first essay (small bit of boasting there.  Sorry!  But with the state of my brain these days, I was rather pleased!), but I don’t expect to keep that up!  The only fly in the ointment is hearing some people saying how much they hate Treasure Island and are bored by Little Women!  I know!  Makes me almost sob out loud!

Anyway, back to the theme of changes in the house…

Another change is to Johnny’s room because we’ve added to our family!  Now our companion animals include two guinea pigs!

Daisy found them while she was out for a walk with Johnny and Bobby.  They were huddled together in the undergrowth, terrified out of their wee minds.  To cut a very long story fairly short (unusually for me…), once Johnny and I managed to catch the wee chaps they came to live with us and when the original owner finally got in touch she was happy for us to keep them!  She said they’d escaped from her garden (they were a LONG way away from her place, so we don’t know how they got there!), but she had heard they had a good home now…  This seems unimaginable to us, as our animals are very much part of our family, but it takes all sorts…

They seem to think they have a good home now, anyway!  We’d never even thought of having guinea pigs before, but with lots of help and advice from some good friends and regular supplies of hay from Sylvia, who gets it for her rescue goat and sheep (the latter now numbering three!), we’re able to keep them in a fair degree of luxury.

They’re nervous wee animals at the best of times, but we’re winning their trust…

Bob is fascinated by them and follows me upstairs when he thinks I’m going to visit them.  He’s been nose-to-nose with them through their run, but I’m wary…  He IS a terrier.  And his favourite toy is a squeaky ball…  You know what I mean…  So the piggies live in Johnny’s room, which has a sturdy catch on the door…

And so onto Book Corner

Well, I think most, if not all, books feature change of one kind or another,  but I’ll talk about ones that feature changes in the home, just to narrow it down and make it more appropriate for this blog post…

So let’s kick off with The New House, by Lettice Cooper (aunt-in-law of Jilly Cooper).  This is one of the books I was reading when I wrote my last blog post.

It tells of the day when Rhoda and her domineering mother move into a smaller house.  Their large family home has been sold, to be pulled down by a developer.  Rhoda longs for freedom, for the chance to work in paid employment and to have her own life, away from a mother who has always expected to have her own way.  Her sister has escaped from the family home and is about to be married, and her brother has a wife and child.  So it’s Rhoda’s duty to stay at home…

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is published by Persephone, as you can see from the photo.  I so hoped Rhoda would be able to break away.  Her mother’s acid tongue has already ruined her chance of romance with the man she’d loved and she dreads ending up like her spinster aunt…

But I’ll let you find out for yourself what happens…

Norah Lofts wrote many historical novels, several of which are set in Suffolk and feature the changes to a house through the centuries: Bless this House; A Wayside Tavern; Pargeters are three of them.

Her ‘House’ trilogy, a great favourite of John’s and mine, comprises The Town House, The House at Old Vine and The House at Sunset.  The first book, The Town House, appears to have gone temporarily missing, but here are the other two, well-worn and well-read.

They chart the story of a house that was built in mediaeval times, the people who lived in it and the changes that were made to the house itself until the twentieth century.  Well worth a read!  And a re-read!  And more re-reads after that!  But don’t expect happy endings to all the tales… No, really.  Don’t.  In fact, there aren’t that many happy endings.  But it’s fascinating just the same, as are the other ‘house through the centuries’ books she wrote.

And recipe corner?  Well, we vegans are used to changing recipes!  ‘Veganising’, we call it.  I know!  With all these recipe books,

why would I need to veganise anything?  Well, some of the meals I make were changed before vegan recipe books were so thick on the ground, like this one for chocolate muffins.  (Forgive me if I’ve blogged about these before, but I don’t think I have…)  I got the original recipe from an American friend in the 1990s and it contained eggs and cows’ milk then.  I veganised it and have used my version VERY often.  And now that I have my lovely new range cooker,

with TWO fan-assisted ovens, I can bake more than one batch at a time!  Twelve muffins don’t last long in a muffin-loving family of four!!!

OK, here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Muffins – makes 12


130g margarine

130g sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons egg replacer

26g cocoa powder

224 g self-raising flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

200 ml. soya milk


Set oven to: Gas Mark 5; 375F;190C; 160 fan assisted.

Add egg replacer to milk and whisk together.  Put aside.

Weigh out all the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

Add the margarine and the milk/egg replacer mixture.

Mix everything together and then spoon into muffin cases (I sit my cases in a muffin tray.  I also use an ice-cream scoop for filling them.)

Bake for 30 minutes.

And so we come to the icing.  Now, I’ll be honest with you: I can’t really give you any measurements for the icing, as I always judge it…  So, sieve a goodly amount of icing sugar into a bowl.  Add a fair amount of cocoa powder.  Throw in a dollop of marg (but carefully, or the icing sugar and cocoa powder will puff up into your eyes.  Trust me.  I know what I’m talking about here…).  Mix everything together and, once the cupcakes are cool, swirl lots of icing on top or use an icing bag.  Very nice!  My mouth is watering as I type…

I have a request from the family for some of these very soon.  So, my dilemma is this:  do I wait and take a photograph, or will I get this posted now and you can just imagine them?  You know what chocolate muffins look like, don’t you?  Yes, I thought so.  So we’ll just get this show (alias blog post) on the road!

Now, it is HIGHLY unlikely that I’ll blog again before Christmas, so, although it’s a wee bit early, may I wish you all, dear readers, a happy mid-winter festival of the kind you celebrate and a 2013 filled with joy, love and dreams-coming-true.  (Not the nightmare variety, obviously.  The good ones…)

Lots of love from me to you.  I’ll try to be a better blogger next year…

Title: The Times They are A’Changin’ by Bob Dylan

Alternative title: Fings Ain’t Wot They Used to Be by Lionel Bart

Reading: Slightly Foxed ( a quarterly magazine about books – not the best-seller type, but interesting, quirky books); Understanding Flash Photography (hoping for a new flash gun for Christmas…); Sunrise by Rosie Thomas (I haven’t read any of her books before, but I picked this one up in a charity shop and am enjoying it); all my OU books…

68 Responses to “The rooms they are a-changin’”

  1. Janey Maxwell said

    Great blog. Maybe I’ll get around to writing one some day!

  2. Yay! Glad your back! Love the kitchen. Were you not getting your bathroom done at one point too? Don’t read the next bit of the comment if you’re feeling at all angry….you have been warned.

    I’ve never read Treasure Island and I think Little Women is one of the most boring books I have ever read!! I’ll get my coat😀

    • Penny said

      I meant to put the bathroom stuff in, but forgot!

      GG, my lips are trembling with distress, but…. I’ll….. try…. to….forgive…you….

  3. Sue Gifford said

    Love the blog Penny. Think I might recognize a few of those books you’ve put up!!!

  4. Caroline said

    ‘Don’t go changing’ – you can, John, it’s by Billy Joel! Love those guinea pigs, they are seriously sweet. The kitchen is a big improvement: a place for everything and everything in its place. Choc muffins sounds delicious. Did you find the mushroom pate recipe? C U soon.

    • Penny said

      You’re right, Caroline! But John just can’t believe it! He’s SURE he remembers Lionel Ritchie singing it!
      Glad you like the piggies and the kitchen! Christmas potluck will be there in a few weeks! And I’ll dig out that recipe for you…🙂

  5. Campfire said

    Oh, how lovely you’re back. I’d stopped looking (almost) if you’d posted but I did get an email telling me you had. I love the kitchen I wish I could get mine larger but without major works it’s impossible as the conservatory covers the kitchen and the outside and as the sink is on the conservatory side, no can do. I’ll have to move house as soon as we are able to do so!

    I lOVE the Norah Lofts house series, I found them years ago and like you, have read, re-read, re-read etc. I haven’t got them any more as there’s no room. There’s one called Gad’s Hall, which is gruesome!

    I’ve even started a little blog of my own but am not publicising it, you did once encourage me to do so.

    I love all the childrens books, and have you read Dodie Smith The Midnight Kittens, and Philippa Pearce’s Tom;s Midnight Garden, quite delightful.

    All the best for Christmas and New Year, if you don’t blog.

    • Penny said

      That’s so sweet! Thank you!

      I’d love to see your blog, but maybe it’s a private thing…

      Tom’s Midnight Garden is actually one of the books on the course. It isn’t on the pile, as I had it aside to read with a pupil and forgot to go and get it…

      • Campfire said

        I keep looking to see if you have blogged again, love seeing the pictures of your lovely cosy house. I’ve just realised I have another Nora Lofts book, The Lost Queen. I have only read a few chapters and put it down, must catch up with it again.

        I’ll put a link to you about my blog. It’s not so academic as yours and I’ve not written much lately as we have had a few crises but when the weather improves, I hope to start feeling better again. As I said I don’t ‘advertise’ it but it might not be seen much on a ‘reply’ post.

        I hope your courses are progressing as you want them to and let’s see you again.

      • Penny said

        So sorry I haven’t replied to this sooner! My course finishes at the end of this month, so I hope to get a few blog posts in before my next one starts in October!

        I haven’t read The Lost Queen. Must look out for it!

        I never thought of this blog as ‘academic’!🙂 I enjoyed reading yours! Sorry you’re suffering from a bad cold. Hope you’re well again soon!🙂

  6. Kris said

    Great to see you (and top model kitty Tom!) back blogging again🙂 The Norah Lofts books sounds like they might be similar to Downton Abbey (which is on my To Watch list) x

    • Penny said

      Tom did seem to get in to several of the shots, didn’t he? He just loves to be with his Mummy!🙂
      I know what you mean, Kris. The changing fortunes of a house. The bit I love about the Norah books (as John and I, rather familiarly, call them!🙂 ) is that you see succedding generations of people and sometimes they surmise about the ones who’ve gone before and you think, ‘I know what happened! I was there!’

  7. Nicola said

    Yay, you’ve posted! I want your new kitchen! And your lovely cat! Looking at your pile of books makes me wish I’d not given up my MA in Children’s Lit but I found the cost prohibitive. Well done for your marks.

    • Penny said

      Thank you, Nicola! I was thinking (though not too seriously), about an MA in Children’s Lit, but my brain will definitely not be up to it by the time I get to that stage. What a shame you had to give it up!😦

  8. Wendy said

    Oh I’m so glad you’re posting again! I’d stopped checking a few months ago, but took it into my head to check before bedtime – and there you were! I just love your blog, especially the pics of your gorgeous home and your pets, so I am so happy you’re back.

    Keep it coming and welcome back to the blog world!

  9. Sighs of contentment… I love visiting your house through your blog. It’s like going on holiday… I liked it before the changes but I like it even better now, Tom seems to approve too, (amazing how cats sneak into so many photographs when you’re not trying to take a pic of them, but disappear or show their bum when you’re trying to take a portrait of them). As for that 90% – woohoo! Well done you, what a brilliant mark! Those people who don’t like children’s classics like Little Women and Treasure Island have no place on a lit course – they should be exiled to the Social Sciences department immediately. Talking of the OU, I remember going down to Walton Hall for an open day once and looking for the literature department to look at some course material – I finally found Richard Danson Brown (one of the authors of the brilliant AA306) in what was basically a large cupboard! So funny!

    Have been trying to think why the name Nora Lofts rings bells… as does the title Pargeters. I may have possibly read it back in the mists of time and forgotten it.

    And no way do you look old enough to be anywhere near retirement age. Have you been bathing in that flame of Ayesha’s?

    I am in accord with John about Lionel Ritchie…!

    • Penny said

      I wish you could visit here in the flesh, Barbara! Some day, eh?
      Tom loves his Mummy, as simple as that! When I go upstairs, he precedes me, one step at a time, purring and rubbing faces with me!🙂 Wee fellow…🙂
      Some people on the course are hoping to be primary teachers and have done childhood studies but, I think, need children’s literature, too…
      Seek out Norah Lofts! Her books are on amazon, I believe.
      I’m 65 and three quarters!
      And it turns out it isn’t a LR song after all! 😀

  10. Mary - demoted study buddy ;) said

    A new study buddy…hmmmm! However having been ‘dumped’ for such a handsome fellow I forgive you😉
    The kitchen looks lovely, but you have us all on tenterhooks re the bathroom ( a mini blog ???)
    GG :little Women isn’t what it appears on the surface, there are many subversive layers, you never know it might be worth a re read , you may change your mind!
    But what I really wanted to say was squeeeeeeeeeeeek 90% well done you, so proud of you!

    • Penny said

      Mary, you were such a hard act to follow as a study-buddy that only Tom was good enough! And he has one advantage over you! He doesn’t get high marks all the time and put me under pressure to do well!😀
      The bathroom was Hell. I probably missed it out because I’ve blotted the four months without a bath or shower from my subconscious!
      Thank you! I expect it to be very much a one-off!!!

  11. Joan Kyler said

    Your blog is well worth the wait. As a fellow older vegan, I look forward to hearing about your family’s life and food. The changes to your house are lovely, especially that roomier kitchen.

    Those little guinea pigs were so lucky to be found by your family! Like you, we always know where our animals are and I can’t imagine those little pigs wandering so far from their garden. What little sweethearts!

    Do you have the cookbook Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann? It has a recipe for Triple Chocolate Cupcakes that makes 24 (!) cupcakes in a batch. I have to freeze them to keep from eating them all at once. Even so, it’s too easy to thaw one out anytime I want one.

    Congratulations on the stellar marks in your course. I admire anyone who can keep a house, manage ordinary life, AND go to school. I can barely remember what I’ve gone to the grocery store for!

    Have a wonderful holiday season. I’m already looking forward to your next blog.

    • Penny said

      Thank you so much, Joan! Yes, it’s difficult to imagine anyone saying, ‘OK, you can have them if you want!’ about their companion animals! Takes all sorts, I suppose.😦

      I don’t think I should be allowed anywhere NEAR Triple Chocolate Cupcakes! Good grief! I’d double my weight in NO time!!!

      My memory is dreadful, Joan. That’s one of the reasons I’m studying!🙂 I often have to write ‘???’ in the middle of an essay when I know there IS a word, but just can’t get it. Then I come back to it later!

      I really will try to blog more next year!

  12. Mary said

    PS I think you have got your sums wrong…there is no way you are 65 and three quarters! I always image you to be just a couple of years older than me and I am still the ‘right’ side of 50, so shall we go with that option instead, how does 48 sound to you? 😉

  13. Rain said

    Such delightful changes about your home! As always, all of your posts are worth the wait. Congratulations on your excellent coursework and new additions to your family!

    • Penny said

      Thanks, Rain! Glad you felt it was worth the wait. I thought a lot of people might have just given up! And thanks for your congratulations!🙂

  14. Natalia said

    Thank you for resuming the blog! I’m glad so much )

    • Penny said

      Thank you, Natalia! I’m so glad you enjoy it.🙂 And please accept my apologies (and these go to all my lovely friends whose comments follow Natalia’s) for the delay in replying to your kind comments. I had another essay to write…

  15. sylvia said

    I know you always want me to comment on your blog, Pen, but it is quite hard when I’ve already commented to you personally on your new kitchen, new bookcase and desk layout, fantastic 90% result – no surprise for me there – sweet wee piggies etc. so I’ll stick to the books and the house ones in particular. I’ve said to you before how I love the idea of following a house through it’s history of the people staying in it. You’ve probably told me about the Norah books but I hadn’t remembered. I’m pleased to see that you mentioned in a post blog comment that they are available on Amazon so I’ll be having a look for them. I’ve been working my way, enjoyably, through the pile of books you have lent me but it is nice to have a few waiting on my kindle so if I can get them for that I will – if not I’m hoping you will find the lost one so that I can borrow them all!!! :o)

  16. Yay, I’m excited to see you blogging again! I love getting a sneak peek into peoples houses and I love what you’ve done with your kitchen. I must say that I’m quite jealous of the twin ovens, I have one very old gas oven with strange hotspots that mean I can only bake 10 muffins or cupcakes at a time!!

    I can’t believe you found those two little cuties in a bush, it’s so sad thinking of them out there on their own but I think it’s awesome that your family have taken them in.

    • Penny said

      Thank you! So glad you’ve enjoyed seeing into our home! I absolutely LOVE my twin ovens, especially since they’re fan assisted. I know what you mean about hotspots: I’ve had ovens where the biscuits/cupcakes at the front were half raw and the ones at the back were burnt. So this is wonderful!

      I’m still not too sure about the chappies’ history. A wee bit strange! But I’m so glad Daisy found them or they’d have come to a really horrible end, from predators.

  17. Laloofah said

    First things first – welcome back, Penny!! I’ve missed you and your delightful posts! (Many thanks to Barbara for alerting me to this post, which I’d missed, for I have fallen behind myself in many aspects of the blogging arena!)

    Secondly, congratulations on all the wonderful changes to your sweet home! I know how challenging and stressful and how much work major remodeling (and even minor stuff like painting a room) can be, and applaud your efforts and their wonderful results! Your living room looks lovely, but your kitchen has really been transformed, and I’m absolutely delighted for you! I don’t know how you managed working in such a small space before, but wow – look at you now! Knocking out a wall is scary stuff, so good for you for going for it. I really love your farmhouse (or apron) sink, I’d lusted for one myself but we ran out of $ – and it really didn’t fit our Arts & Crafts home’s style – but someday!!) And your range/cooker/stove is fantastic! Now that you’ve got a cheerful, bright, roomy kitchen with a HUGE pantry🙂 I imagine preparing meals and sweet treats is so much more fun, and it would be where I’d spend most of my time, too. You really said it all in your last line about the kitchen – how could you not love all that light and space! I’ve always adored those wonderful, whimsical windows in your tutoring area, and just love seeing them be part of your kitchen now.

    Congratulations also on your Children’s Lit course, and your impressive score on your first essay! I’m sure that’s just the beginning of your successes to come, and that you’ll inspire the jaded classmates among you to appreciate books like “Little Women” and “Treasure Island” as you do.🙂

    I think I’m as excited about your two new family members as I am about your new kitchen! The piggies are adorable, and I can’t imagine they don’t appreciate their wonderful new home and family (well, with the possible exception of Bob, lol) with all their precious wee hearts.🙂 I’m with you, can’t imagine turning my back on our family members (any more than I can imagine not considering them family members!) as that woman did, but at least her loss is your family’s gain. The piggies can’t have been content there if they were motivated to escape, and it certainly sounds like they embarked on a dangerous adventure to put space between them and their old digs! I’m so happy you rescued them. They sure don’t look nervous with you ~ love that photo of you feeding them.

    I always enjoy reading your book reviews! You read books and titles I’ve usually never heard of, which makes it fun.

    I think muffins are my favorite thing to bake (just made a batch of cranberry orange muffins Wednesday, and there are only two left! And I don’t have a family of four to pin it on! LOL) Your chocolate muffins sound yummy! Since we do all our cooking with no added fats, I’d simply replace the margarine with pureed prunes. Works like a charm in chocolate recipes like yours!

    Enjoy your new furbabies and changes to your lovely cottage, Penny! I look forward to seeing the bedrooms when they’re done, and to sharing posts on our own new house (which still isn’t finished – %#$& contractors!!!) Maybe by Christmas – your post has inspired me!🙂

    • Penny said

      Laurie, I always love seeing your wonderfully kind and detailed comments on here! Thank you so much!

      Yes, cooking and baking are so much pleasure now. I’m interested in your substituting pureed prunes for the fats. How would you equate the substitution with margarine? Weight for weight? I’d like to try that. I have a feeling that applesauce can be used in a similar way? Or is that as an egg substitute…

      The piggies are very endearing wee chaps. We’ve become pretty fond of them!🙂

      I look forward to keeking (Scots for peeking!) inside your new home!

      • Laloofah said

        Hi Penny!

        Well thank you! Your posts always provide a lot of fun comment fodder, there’s no way I can keep mine brief.🙂

        The baked goods recipes I’ve used prune puree in have all been written that way so I didn’t have to figure out what ratio of fruit puree to fat I needed. Some web sites I’ve looked at say to use a 1:1 ratio of puree to fat, others say to use less than that (1/3 cup of puree to sub for 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter or margarine), yet another says to use a 1:2 ratio. I imagine it depends on the recipe, and you’ll have to play with it a bit to get the consistency you’re after. (At least the mistakes will be tasty ones!)🙂 I’ve got a chocolate zucchini cake I want to try making this way. Prune puree works best in chocolate or other spiced/rich desserts like cakes, cupcakes and muffins.

        I always use unsweetened applesauce as a 1:1 substitute for oil in baking, and it works great. Again, I’ve read you can use 1/2 as much applesauce as oil in a recipe, but the 1:1 ratio has always seemed to work well for me, so I say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.🙂

        Here are a few of the web sites I saved when trying to figure out how to make my margarine substitution in the chocolate zucchini cake:

        How to Make Prune Puree
        How to Bake with Fruit Puree Instead of Fat
        Prune (Dried Fruit) Puree Butter Baking Substitute

        And this is usually my go-to reference (and recipe source) for fat-free baking and cooking:
        Substitutes and Techniques for Fat-Free Cooking

        I’m going to try to get a post of the new house up this week. The kitchen is holding me up, since I can never seem to get it free of culinary activities and clutter long enough to get a decent photo!🙂 But I hope not to hold up your desire to keek much longer. (I hear from other guinea pig parents that piggies make a sound called “wheeking” – so they wheek while you keek, eh?)🙂

      • Penny said

        Laurie, thank you so much for that information and for the links! I’m going to try making some fat-free muffins. If I can eat cakes AND lose weight, that would be the ideal scenario for me!!!😀

        Guinea-pigs do, indeed, ‘wheek’! It’s a very sweet sound!

        I know what you mean about getting the kitchen clear enough for a photo! That was one of the thing that held me up, to be honest!😀

  18. Lyn said

    Good to hear from you again, Penny. Love the new kitchen. The New House is a lovely book, I would love to reread it one day. I read many Norah Lofts novels when I was a teenager & particularly remember the House trilogy. Good luck with the course, sounds like you’ve started as you mean to go on.

    • Penny said

      Thanks, Lyn!🙂 I started reading Norah in my 20s, I think. They made quite a change from the guaranteed happy endings I was used to…

      Thank you for your good luck wishes about the course. I’m really enjoying it and am about to plan an essay on children’s poetry…

  19. Welcome back, Penny! Your kitchen expansion is amazing! I love your new cooking space and how much natural light you get in there now. I am rather jealous, I must say. The green wall is so lovely and makes your kitchen look so happy!🙂

    I like snooping around people’s homes, and I thoroughly explored your pictures like the good snoop that I am. Your Colman’s mustard tin pencil holder is so cute and I must copy your idea ASAP; your hanging birds-on-a-string are adorable; and I love the Sleepytime Tea refrigerator magnet. Your sleeping buddy is so cute! I love the fangy fangs!🙂

    Those are some lucky piggies! Who knows what could have happened to them if Daisy hadn’t found them. I love a happy ending!🙂

    • Penny said

      Hi, River! Thank you for your lovely remarks! I’m very fond of that green and would have it on several more walls (we already have it in the back hallway, or ‘back passage’ as I call it😉 ), but John doesn’t want it everywhere…😦

      If I’d known you’d be looking so closely at the photos I’d have tidied up a bit more!😀 I love mustard tins and treacle tins as pen and pencil holders.

      Tom’s fangs are rather cute, aren’t they?🙂 And we know only too well what would have happened to the piggies. There are lots of predators out there where they were found and I doubt if they’d have survived their first night. So glad, too, that they’ve had a happy ending, despite the FORTUNE it’s cost to set them up…😀

  20. Barbara said

    So pleased to find a blog post from you this morning! I really enjoyed reading it.

    Congrats. on your essay marks! I agree with you about people who don’t like Treasure Island or Little Women. Those books are not just for children.

  21. Welcome back! I love your house – it’s so cosy, welcome and warm looking, and those bookcases…..oh my! I would spend all day looking through those books.

    • Penny said

      Kelly, you would be very welcome any time to come and browse through my books! I might interrupt you once or twice, but only to offer you a hot drink and some cupcakes. And I might make a wee bit of noise putting more coal in the stove, but I think you could live with that?😀

  22. Roberta said

    Thanks for coming back to blogland! I love the changes you made to your house! And well done on your studies, really impressive!
    Roberta XXX

  23. Chrissy said

    I know you will come back to me with a modest remark, Penny, but I do think you are a natural blogger. You write as though you’re speaking to us and everything you say is so SWEET!

    My computer lost the subscription so I thought you were still not blogging. We’ve been away a lot and I thought I’d just have a try and LO! Penny was back. I am thrilled. Animals, books, fab kitchen, lovely hubby, an intelligent mind making the best use of itself and gaining excellent marks. Great stuff.

    Hint: could you find time to blog more often if you made the posts shorter? Eg: one about the kitchen, another about those little g pigs? Just a suggestion.

    Happy holidays to you and your family too, Penny!

    PS – Love the snow flakes!

    • Penny said

      Chrissy, what a lovely thing to say! <> Of course, Jenny was thrilled when I showed her what you’d written! (She always worries that some people might be ‘horrible’ about my blog…) And thank you for your very complimentary remarks!🙂

      I’ve swithered, now and then, about writing shorter, but more frequent posts, but the thing is I like to have a theme and tie in my various interests. And people might get fed up with me if I posted too often… But I’ll keep that idea in mind in case it becomes just too difficult… 🙂

      Yes, the snowflakes are cute, aren’t they? I ‘signed up’ for them one year and WordPress adds them every December!😀

  24. blessedmama3 said

    Oh, my gosh, I’m so glad you are back. And it’s wonderful to see that you are still your same self, posting about all the wonderful activities in your life. By the way, tell John there is nothing wrong with Lionel Ritchie music! So many things you’ve touched on, sheesh. So, I’ll go by what I can remember easiest. I love the open kitchen, yes! I have a wall that also makes my kitchen smaller than it “needs” to be. I’ve often dreamt of knocking that wall down. Love the piggies, so cute, and they are so lucky to be living with you. Books galore! You so remind me of my father in that aspect: he knocked out his ceiling to build an enormously tall bookcase. Chocolate muffins? I know you said you may post the photo later, but really, I think you just revealed your sadistic side by merely putting up words with no pic to stand by them. Merry Christmas, Penny! Hope to see a new post next year!

    • Penny said

      Ha, BlessedMama! I’m afraid John is adamant in his opinion of LR!😀

      I’d love to see your kitchen. I can’t remember if you’ve ever posted pics of it in full. I wonder if you’ll ever knock through that wall, too?😀

      I can’t lay claim to knocking a ceiling out, like your father, to build a taller bookcase, but I have had a radiator taken out, to fit in a wider one!😀

      Those chocolate muffins were delicious, though I say it myself… Mmmm…. (Just being sadistic again! :D)

  25. Bina said

    Your kitchen looks lovely now, your whole place is so cosy! And well done, you, that’s a great result! I love that you’re using open university and study again. I can’t imagine ever not studying so it’s great to see others studying after their 20s!
    A happy, cosy new year to you and your family!🙂

    • Penny said

      WELL after my 20s, Bina!😀

      Thank you! We’re pretty pleased with the way it’s looking, though the whole house is in total chaos at the moment, because… Wait for it…. We’re changing rooms! We started yesterday and tonight will be the first time in our new bedrooms! It’ll all take a long time to get finally clear, though……

      • Bina said

        Haha oh wow I can imagine that it’s chaos now, but I’m sure it’s worth it🙂 I always love starting work on rooms but the cleaning-up afterwards not so much. Takes forever.

  26. Jenny said

    I always enjoy peeking into your fun home. I like the color of your brick kitchen wall. That’s crazy you found the guinea pigs but so cute! My kids always want a tiny critter like that, but I’ve wondered how our pups would do with them, also. Good to touch base with you! I hope you are having a good week!

    • Penny said

      Hi, Jenny! Yes, I’m very fond of that colour. I’d have it in lots more rooms given the chance!🙂

      There’ll be a post sometime about an exciting change in our garden, which I hope you’ll like, too!

      Hope you’re well.🙂

  27. Penny, your cottage is gorgeous! So cozy and warm, I’d love to curl up and read a book! Speaking of books..drool…seems we have more than just veganism in common.🙂 From one bookworm to another: nice to meet you!

    • Penny said

      Thank you so much! I’d love to have you over to sit and chat about books while eating vegan goodies, but I suppose a trip across the Atlantic might be a bit far!🙂 Lovely to meet you, too!

  28. Dp said

    Wow Penny, I just found your blog. It’s amazing! I am going to have a proper read of it at the weekend and can’t wait to peek at the list of Fellow Bookworms blogs too : )

    • Penny said

      Debbie, thank you so much! I hope you enjoy the rest! I’m working on my next blog post at the moment, so it should be out next week, all going well!🙂

  29. Joan Kyler said

    Penny, If you ever, ever, EVER post another blob, I’ll have to read one word a day to keep me happy until your NEXT blog! We’re waiting patiently, or not! Hope all is well.

  30. Joan Kyler said

    Sorry, that should be ‘blog’. Your posts are never ‘blobs’, much too detailed and interesting to be ‘blobs’!

    • Penny said

      Joan, I’m still working on my next blob/blog post! I do hope it won’t be a disappointment! I’ll try very hard to get it out soon!🙂

  31. Chandra said

    Nice title. The times are a-changing too.
    I haven’t been here in a long while, but I am so delighted that I did stop by.
    The muffin recipe sounds delicious.

    PS. Lovely kitty!

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