Thursday, 30 September 2010

Recipe challenge

So at the beginning of the week I set myself a small cookery challenge, based on the recent research that we only cook on average 5-7 recipes all the time despite owning on average 15 cook books each. So how have I faired this week?

After the bread bake off at the weekend, we have done very well. On Sunday night I cooked a meal for the Monday night, as it was the first day of Freshers at work and I wasn't relishing the fact of getting home and cooking that night. So inspired by Hugh Fernley Whittenstall on his new programme Everyday River Cottage, I decided to cook a sausage and root veg stew. On the programme and in the cookbook it does recommend using meaty sausages but being a veggie, I decided to cook it with some cauldron Veg sausages instead. The stew had leeks, onions, celeriac, celery, potatoes, cider, herbs and some other things in it, but I have to say it didn't hit the spot for me. I found it a bit bland depsite seasoning to the hilt and adding more herbs. I was desperate to add more carrots as it looked a bit insipid.

Tuesday I decided to use up some mushrooms that we had in the fridge that were begging to be cooked and eaten. Sometimes you have to listen to your fridge. So as inspiration I used a Vegetarian cookbook which I bought cheap when I was at University. Despite its rather unispiring cover and cheapness, the book is brilliant. You can always tell a good cook book in someones cupboard by the bent, and sticky pages! The quickest and easiest recipe I could find was Mushroom Stroganoff. All it has in it is butter, mushrooms, garlic, lemon juice, white wine, cream and cornflour. Quick and easy it may be but it is tasty. I served it with some rice, leftover Stuffed Foccacia and some stuffed olives we bought at the weekend. It was delicious until I stumbled on a rogue olive with anchovies in it. Now if there is one thing I cannot stomach and that is fish particularly anchovies. The reaction to this, is to put it bluntly dramatic. I spent 20 minutes then being violently ill. Moral of the story..don't buy olives from a self serve olive counter ever again. It was such a shame as I was really noshing back my food until then. Oh well.

Wednesday: We had some leftover mushroom stroganoff, but in the spirit of the challenge I used the Good Housekeeping Veggie cookbook to make some mediterranean cheese puffs.
Again really simple with the following ingredients: Halloumi and ricotta cheese mixed with some fresh herbs (I used coriander), black mustard seeds, olive oil  and some olives (not the ones with anchovies!).  You mix this all up and then make pasties with puff pasty. Egg wash and sprinkle some more mustard seeds on top. I realised when I just put them in the oven they were supposed to have pine nuts in too but I forget to add them. So I quickly sprinkled them on top too. Once cooked I put some of the mushroom strog on the side and result was a very delicious tea!

So all going fine so far...not sure about tonight but there is some butternut squash sitting in the cupboard which needs to be used that will be my inspiration. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Quickly moving on...

Al asked me to quickly make a card for one of his friends who has just moved house. Gave me an opportunity to finally use the wonderful goodies I bought from Emma and Stampin'Up. So here is a cute little card I made with Stampin'Up Ribbon, Designer Paper, Kraft card and Loads of Love stamps. I still need to perfect my stitching on card though...I end up stitching wonky!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Busy busy busy

I have taken this moment whilst I can to post some cards that I have had to quickly make for some friends. As I have so much going on at work at the moment, I am having trouble concentrating and being creative. I have created a few though but at the moment I don't have the time to add the supplies I have used...(I will add this when I have more time). 

Rather vibrant card for my Al :)

Birthday card for a work colleague.
Papertrey Ink All about You Stamps.
Rather cute owl card suitable for slipping in a gift card.
This is just a rough card experimenting with card cutting and embossing. 
Another rough attempt for a fun card.
I recently heard the average person owns 15 cookbooks but rarely cooks more than 5-7 recipes all the time. I must admit I am a cookbook fiend and owns lots. So I thought I would embrace the challenge of cooking more recipes. One of my fears is making bread, as normally they turn out like bricks. If you have seen the film 'About a Boy', that loaf that he threw at the ducks was made by me. So I saw a recipe for Hazelnut and Apricot bread in the Good Housekeeping Institute vegetarian recipe cookbook and thought I would give it a go. I must admit my chappie gave me a hand with the kneading, as I only have very small hands. It seemed to work and the dough was like a creature when it was left to rise. It went sightly berserk. Encouraged by this I decided to try a recipe for stuffed focaccia and soda bread too. The kitchen was a frenzy...there was flour everywhere and our arms hurt from all the kneading. It was worth it are results. 

Hazelnut and Apricot bread
Soda Bread

Stuffed Focaccia with spinach and cheese.
Right must dash...watching the 'Inbetweeners' before bed. Work is so hectic I need plenty of sleep otherwise I will be falling asleep at my desk. Dribbling on my keyboard is not a good look to have. 
Till next time x

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Trying out some tissue paper

As ever I wanted to recycle and use as much of the packaging material I had when I ordered from PapertreyInk, so I was looking to see what I can do with the tissue paper that was in the box. I was reading Nicole Heady's blog, Capture the Moment and noticed this old post on how to use Tissue Paper to make faux silk. I thought I would have a go and came up with this.
Unfortunately in my haste, I didn't let the ink dry for long enough and it spread a little when I applied the tissue paper. Oh well...will have to try again ;o)

Kitchen completed.

After three and a bit years, we finally were able to afford to renovate the kitchen. I can't even start to explain just how bad the previous kitchen was. The previous owners clearly didn't like cooking, and didn't know the meaning of hygiene. We made do with the old cooker, units and floor throughout the house renovation, even though the units were falling apart, the cooker should have been condemned and some pipes were leaking. We finally decided enough was enough and it was time to save for the kitchen. We both scrimped and saved every penny until we had enough to pay for the new kitchen. A holiday went out the window and we barely went out. But it was well worth it in the end. Here are some before and after shots:

Kitchen before

Kitchen after

Kitchen before
Kitchen after

Kitchen before

Kitchen after

Since then I have been in my absolute element and have finally got my cooking bug back. Here are some photos of what I have been conjuring up lately. 

Beer butt chicken from Jaime Oliver's America cook book.

I love Summer..lemony courgettes, Mint coolers and bbq's!
Falafel, fried halloumi cheese and mustard & onion seed carrot salad

Scotch pancakes like my grandmother used to make!
Beetroot brownies

Till next time xx

A little Punch drunk?

So here I am at home feeling a little bit sorry for myself with a stomach bug. I was passing the time having a read of A Passion for Papertrey and getting some great ideas for cards. As a newbie to the sites, I have never entered any of the challenges before.  So I thought I would give it a go seeing as I splurged on the sets recently.Feel a bit nervous....

So this month's challenge was to make a card using punches.

You may be wondering where the punches are...the pinwheel was made using cut outs from a circle punch, which were halved and the scalloped corners were made with chopped up pieces from scalloped circle punches. The keen eyed amongst you may recognise the paper I used in the corners of the card.I recycled some of the packaging strips off my Papertreyink sets. They were so lovely I couldn't let them go to waste!

Passion for Papertrey challenge:Punches
Stamps: PTI Daily Designs, PTI Beyond Basic Borders
Paper: DCWV Cafe Mediterranean matstack, PTI packaging strips
Ribbon: Do crafts Papermania capsule collection-Lemon Boutique ribbon

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Birthday blooms

At the weekend it started to pour with rain, so what better excuse to slope off to my craft room to do some dabbling! Al's mum's birthday is coming come, so I thought I might have a go at a card for her. As she is larger than life, I thought I would go with a bit of colour. Here is what I came up with:

Stamps: PTI All about you
Paper: My Mind's Eye, Bloom & Grow

You can't really see on the photo, that the flowers do actually stand out. I created those by stamping, embossing and punching them out with a scalloped punch. I then rolled the scalloped flowers and pulled the card apart to make layers for the flowers. I then finished this off by using raffia to thread through them, to match the bottom decoration. 

Still a lot to learn but I am getting there. 

Until next time

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Fiddling with paper and ink is addictive

As a child, I was always up to something crafty. I must confess that I am a useless knitter, can't crochet to save my life and I am not a dab hand at sewing. But I was encouraged to draw, paint, make models and so on when I was growing up and it was a lovely way to justify making a mess. My first memories of fun as a child was using finger paints at school. The smell of the paint still takes me back to when I was 4 making pictures of butterflies and creating messy handprints everywhere.

Nowadays I spend most of my time behind a desk hacking away at a computer and speaking to people on the phone. I have to fight the creative creature inside me on a daily basis, to prevent it daubing paint everywhere or creating little paper birds to hang off everything. As I hit my 30's, I grew up and bought a wreck of a house, so all my time was spent knocking things down and rebuilding it. Four years later and it is nearly complete...well almost nearly, but shush we won't talk about that.

So suddenly I have a little bit more time on my hands and the urge to do something different. I found some old craft materials in a box in the attic and started to dabble with a few things. Next thing I know I have found a million and one wonderful websites, and have bought so much crafting stuff I don't know what to do. The guest room has now turned into my craft room and my boyfriend leaves me to to it if I suddenly disappear for a while.

When I last did paper craft, clear stamps did not exist (yep that long ago!), so I was in my element when I discovered . I was a little disappointed when I found out they were based in America and didn't have suppliers in the UK. The lure of the stamps though overwhelmed me and I decided to take the plunge and buy some sets. When I say sets I mean quite a few. Well actually 12. My excuse is that I had a few years to catch up on. That is my excuse and I am sticking to it.

So what sets did I buy?

I didn't quite anticipate that it would cost me an arm and a leg for the customs charges. However the stamps have made up for it and I am enjoying fiddling about stamping all sorts of things and learning new skills. My first creation was quite a simple design using the     all about you, all about you additions and honeybee sets. A friend of ours was expecting a baby so I thought I would create something to send her. Apologies for the quality of the photo, it was taken on my iphone and the light was pretty bad. 

After my first attempt I am addicted....oh dear this could be very expensive.

Until next time 

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Oooh a new blog

Well it has been some time since I put together a blog. The last one I had was more of a place to spill a lot of feelings and reflect on life. Sadly I ended up shelving it after a few dedicated years because some of my bf's friends decided to read it. I soon found I couldn't vent my spleen on a thousand and one things and it became a chore to do. I made some wonderful contacts in that time and shared a lot of laughter doing it. It helped me through some tough times and also let me share some truly memorable things.

So why have I ambled back to the world of blogging you ask? To be honest I have missed writing about the things I love in my life, whether it be my photography, cookery, papercraft, gardening or just the small details that matter. So here I am, back to play. Be gentle on me, it has been a while. If you see me floundering in the midst of blogland, then spin me round and push me in the right direction.