Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Busy Busy Busy

Wow, how time flies! I think I need to postpone the remaining 8 days of my planned 14 days of food.  I wish I didn't have to but I think with hindsight, I picked a pretty bad time to do it: I had a 3 days trip for a job, a 3 day trip for my little sisters 21st, family visits and now we're off on holiday come Friday and I have a whole bunch of stuff to do before then {oh how glamorous my life might sound...}.  If anything, I don't think you'd want to see what I'm eating right now - in the week leading up to my holiday I'm trying to eat healthily and 'light' in order to feel trim in a bikini. Anyway, I plan on coming back to it in the not too distant future, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Right now I've got plenty of things I do want to show you so hopefully I'll get a chance to line up posts about them this week.

Hope you enjoyed the long weekend! I did!

Love B x

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Cross Stitch

It was my gorgeous little sister's 21st birthday yesterday! I cannot believe it.  Of course we spent the day celebrating and it was marvellous.  My thoughtful, sweet Mum decided that to mark the occasion she was going to make a patchwork quilt for her, with the help of all our family and friends.  It was absolutely incredible and so thoughtful - I'll blog about it soon when I've got the photos downloaded.

My square was based on a long running {inappropriate} joke about our initials that me and my sister twigged about during our early teens.  Looking for something to do with the mountain of time on my hands post-finals, I decided the best way to make my input for the quilt was to cross stitch my 6x6" square.

I have to say, it didn't take too long at all and I'm so pleased with the results. We learned sewing at school {despite jokes from the boy, I did not go to finishing school though we did learn to sew, knit and had handwriting classes.  The only thing missing is deportment...} and now, over a decade later, I'm so pleased I did! Personally, I think it's a pretty cool {old school} skill to have. And things have come a loooong way since the samplers I did at school.  Check out these awesome examples:







Awesome eh? The gift tags make me want to cross stitch little love hearts on everything.  Not sure that'd go down to well!

Love B x

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Blue Velvet

I am in love with this eclectic living room: it's interesting without verging on unnecessarily quirky {something I could not put up with!}.  I particularly love the big blue velvet sofa. I can just imagine curling up with a book, or with a glass of wine and a film. Our current {furnished} space has the teeniest sofa you can imagine, not good if you don't fancy cuddling up to the person sat next to you {not ideal if you do either, it's a bit cramped!} so I can't wait til we finally have a bit sofa to sprawl over! And this one just looks so inviting!  The woods really add warmth to the otherwise neutral backdrop too and I am mad over the print and pops of colour from the chaise longue. Personally, I'm mad keen on spaces that keep the base colour palette quite calm and bring all the noise with the furniture and little details.

It's definitely the velvet sofa in this picture that draws me in though. I love the texture, character and depth it brings to the room.  Just like these two examples:

{via Lonny}

Obviously, in all of the above, the velvet sofa is just one beautiful detail amongst many but I still can't help but be drawn to it.

Love B x

By the way, Fourteen Days of Food is going to take a brief hiatus until I return from London on Sunday.  All those good intentions to pre-emptively bake/cook? Yeah, they didn't happen. Sozzles!


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Fourteen Days of Food: Day 6

Bread. What can I say? We have a love-hate relationship: I love it in all it's various shapes and sizes, it hates my waistline.  Moving past that I decided that I still had to attempt to make bread this fortnight.  As one of my favourite food stuffs {so yummy and versatile!} it would've been plain rude to leave it out.  Again though, I do try and mitigate what makes its way into my diet so I opted for granary bread {although toasted white bread with lashings of salted lurpak and raspberry jam is my idea of heaven. Spec if I have a smidge of a hangover...}.

I have to admit, I cheated on this one and used Hovis granary bread mix.  I do normally like doing things all myself but today was a pretty heavily scheduled day {and yet I chose to make bread?!} soo mix it was! Plus it was uber cheap - £1 for a fresh from the oven batch of bread, yes thank you, don't mind if I do.  Anyhoo, it means there ain't much of a recipe.  I've tried to make up for it with lots of gratuitous bread photos though! No?

Waiting 2hours for it to rise and the 30mins is totally worth the effort {which was minimal because I didn't even hand knead this sucker, I used the dough hook on my mixer.  Rubbish food blog post I knoooooow}.  I had planned on just having one slice, that hasn't happened at all.  So I can confirm for you that it is TOTALLY delicious.  Hands down tastes better than buying a loaf from a shop. Which is odd cause surely the Hovis mix and the Hovis loaf are the same dealio?! Something to ponder on...

I reckon having taken serious baby steps this time, next time I'll have a full on go at making the dough myself.  I'm sure I must've done it in home ec at some point and I'm positive it can't be that tough {famous last words}. I tell you what though, there is nowt that makes you feel more like a domestic goddess than having a freshly baked loaf of bread sat on your kitchen table.

Love B x


How calm and serene is this bedroom? Don't you just want to dive right under the covers? I can see myself lounging about on a Sunday morning surrounded by the Sunday papers, delicious breakfast in bed and a huge cup of tea.  Bliss.

Even though our current bedroom looks nothing like this {does yours?!} there are still so many details that could be easily incorporated into our room: the vases of fresh flowers, the cozy throws, well chosen lighting and the crisp white {impossibly fluffy looking and inviting} bedding are all fairly straightforward additions.  The neutral colour pallette of so many rented flats {including ours - though our turquoise hallway is another matter} sets the perfect starting point for creating a calm and inviting bedroom space

Love B x

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Fourteen Days of Food: Day 5

So I ummed and ahhed about what to do about today's post.  Because I am going to be honest with you: I tried to make hummus.  Not only that, I tried to make uber healthy, oil-free hummus, which I have learned, to my dismay, doesn't really taste as good as normal hummus.  Infact, it has none of the creamy, oily, rich sesamey taste of hummus.  Consequently, in my opinion, it just ain't that nice. This was meant to be 14 days of experimenting however, so in the interests of being totally honest with you I'm going to tell you about it anyway.

I found the original suggested recipe on a forum that gave meal suggestions for dieters following Slimming World {a healthy eating plan that I have seen, and had first hand results from, and that often has delicious meal suggestions}.  This recipe suggested blitzing together a tin of drained chickpeas and some fat free yoghurt along with some lemon, salt and pepper.  I did so diligently.  Tasted it {I was quite excited at the prospect of hummus 'lite'}.  All I can say is that personally, is doesn't exactly rock my world. Infact, I reckon it tasted like paste.  Not ideal.  Of course at this stage I was thoroughly disappointed.  Those of you who have made hummus before {the real, good kind} will know that I omitted tahini paste and oil from this recipe, obviously the source of the dip's power.  To try and compensate, I added approximately a tsp of toasted sesame oil.  This gave it a sesamey kick but still, doesn't taste much like the hummus I know and love.  The photos I've added to this blogpost show it with basil pesto and paprika added and the pesto is definitely heading towards a winner {the paprika makes it too dry, so you would definitely need more yoghurt.  Looks pretty though eh?}.

I have to say, if you were desperate for a 'lite' version of hummus, you could keep blitzing and add a lot more yoghurt {maybe 0% greek} to get the right consistency? The basil pesto definitely helps with the flavour too.  

It's not often I like to hold my hands up and admit things didn't go to plan {especially with food} but hey, look at me growing! I figure in the interests of this experiment, it's ok to share the odd mishap with whoever it is that is reading this {whoever you are, hello!!! I love watching the little numbers climb up in my stats - so very glad you could pop in!}.  Give it a go if you fancy but I'm telling you now, it's no mackerel pate.

Love B x



Ahhhhh, I am in LOVE with this little guy! Isn't he sweet? Just the right amount of whimsy mixed with classic white ceramic.  He'd be right at home on my dressing table. Love love love it.

Love B x

Monday, 16 May 2011

Fourteen Days of Food: Day 4

Thought I was maybe going to leave you food post-less today? WRONG. Far too stubborn to give up on a challenge, so much so that I've realised I'm going to be away for 3 days in the middle of this so I will need to be pre-emptively baking {don't hold me to this - I'm away for an interview so may have to do some prep.  Sadly I don't think cakes will cut it}.  Anyway, up next is lemon drizzle cake.

Now this is one of the boy's favourite cakes and was pretty high on the request list when I suggested this little challenge.  And I've never made one before so I figured why not.

I looked up the basic recipe from google and came across this one but played around with the quantities, as is my want and ended up just using the basic Victoria sponge recipe my Mum ingrained in me as a little girl with some lemon in it!.

I started off preheating my oven to gas mark 4 {160 degrees C I think?} and uses a basic Victoria sponge recipe like I said - 8oz  S.R flour, 8oz caster sugar, 8oz butter and 4 eggs. I personally used an all in one approach, adding in a tsp of baking powder and the finally grated zest of 2 small lemons before whacking it all in the mixer on a medium speed for a while.  If you aren't taking the easy option, cream together your butter and sugar and in a separate bowl beat your eggs together.  Mix in the eggs, little by little, to the butter/sugar combo, alternating each time with a bit of sifted flour.  Right at the very end, when you're down to just a bit of flour, fold this in rather than beat to get lots of air into this mixture.  Add your lemon zest at the same time {I nearly forgot the lemon zest...doh}.

Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper before adding in the mix and baking for approximately 45minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  If, like me, your oven isn't fan powered, keep your eyes peeled in case one side starts to burn/cook a smidge too fast.  Just turn it round quickly {I'm sure Delia wouldn't agree with opening the oven but whatevs}.

When you finally take the cake out the oven, poke a whole load of holes in the top using a skewer, sharp knife or fork.  Mix up approx 100g of caster sugar with the juice of the 2 lemons you zested before {is that even a word?!} and use this as your drizzle.  Pour over the top of your cake whilst it is still warm and leave to cool thoroughly in the tin {you have more willpower than me if you manage this}.  I thoroughly recommend eating it whilst drinking a large cup of tea, as I am right now. Genuinely? I reckon I could eat the whole thing.

Love B x

Getting Crafty

As part of a nice afternoon away from exam stress, me and my like minded friend Lyndsay {one of the few people who will do that kind of thing with me!} spent an afternoon crafting away.  I mentioned before that I was going to attempt this and whilst I'm not one for vanity, I don't think I'm going to post a photo of our first attempt. The hexagonal nuts we used were too wide to get the fish bone effect we were after but I still quite like the result. I reckon I just need to hunt out different hardware next time.  Anyway, whilst she was busy decoupaging a hand mirror she found in a charity shop {some people get all the good finds!} I was playing around with the pack of blank cards I bought a while ago.  I got a bit sick of spending what seemed like a relatively large sum of money for some birthday cards in the shops.  I came across a pack of blank cards and envelopes for about what I'd pay for one card so I figured I may as well have a go at making my own.

These were just roughly based on a image that cropped on in a google search, sketched onto paper and then the cards themselves.  I filled in the silhouette with black marker pen before covering with a fine layer of PVA glue coming close to the edges but not quite right to the outside.  I sprinkled over a healthy dose of glitter from a giant tub I bought back at Christmas for a couple of pounds and set aside to dry for a while before shaking off any excess.  Really simple and quick to make and I think they look pretty awesome!

I do lurve a good craft.

Love B x

Sunday, 15 May 2011

wide legged jeans

Having pretty much lived in skinny jeans for the last couple of years I think I'm finally having a change of heart over my stance on wide legged jeans. The more I look at them, the more I think I need to add a pair to my wardrobe. I love how chic they look and their versatility: a darker pair is a brilliant alternative to smart trousers whereas lighter pairs really encapsulate the 70s vibe from the catwalks.



Love B x

Fourteen Days of Food: Day 3

Apologies for the poor quality photos in this post, I was somewhat preoccupied with not burning dinner to worry to much about setting up better lighting.

Doesn't look like much eh? Trust me when I say this dinner rocks. Oh, and please ignore the old lady plate {I long for the day when we will no longer live in a furnished flat}. Instead of a snack, today I thought I'd post what is currently the favourite dinner in our house.  It's deviating from my original plan of challenging myself to make something new everyday this fortnight but realistically? Sometimes it's Saturday night and you want something familiar, delicious, quick and simple.  These bbq chicken quesadillas fit the bill perfectly.  I can't remember where I came across the original recipe - it's pretty commonplace - but I do remember being reminded of it when I stumbled across it in a blogpost recently {though I can't for the life of me remember where? If anyone could enlighten me I'd be so grateful!}.  Anyway, the blogger in question referred to it as her go to dinner to make her hubby do all the tasks he'd rather not do. I have to say I haven't tried it out in the same with the boy but considering his reaction to them, and the frequency of his requests for them, I'm pretty sure he'd be putty in my hands.  I'll be sure to use the power for good...

Start by heating your tortilla in a pan until it starts to bubble up a little bit. I'd stick with a medium heat - you have to wait a smidge longer but it's better than burning dinner! Add you cheese, chicken and bbq sauce {I personally marinade the chicken in the bbq sauce at the start rather than adding the sauce to the chicken once it's in the tortilla} and fold the tortilla in half whilst still in the pan.  Press down with the spatula to make sure all the cheesy, chicken-y goodness sticks together.  If, at this point, the top of the tortilla isn't crispy and brown enough then just keep flipping the quesadilla over until you're happy with it.  If you want them extra gooey, stick them in the oven for 15mins or so on a really low temp.

I also read that caramelised onions make a great addition to these but we didn't have any onions in the house {ridiculous eh? Exams completely wrecked my life skills}. I'd serve these up with more bbq sauce for dipping and a crisp green salad.

For the record, even though the rice krispies and oreo truffles might suggest otherwise, I do try and watch what I'm eating. The boy is less fussed and claims to spot 'diet' foods a mile off. I use reduced fat cheese in this and make sure I weigh it before hand so I know what is going into my food, wholewheat tortillas would probably be a better choice {though I admit I used white this time...} and by marinading the chicken beforehand you use less bbq sauce {meaning, if you're using pretty standard supermarket stuff like I was, you'll benefit from less sugar}.  The side salad doesn't hurt either...

For a quick and easy midweek dinner I'd totally recommend this. I used 4 tortillas and 6 chicken thighs to feed the 2 of us but that was good for a heart appetite, you could easily use less.

Love B x

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Fourteen Days of Food: Day 1

I don't have a clue why these have posted in the wrong order. Hey ho!

Like I said, I love a challenge {even if doing absolutely nothing yesterday was lovely!} so here I go with the first of fourteen foodstuffs {seems rather a lot now I think about it, damn alliteration}.  I decided to start with the peanut butter and chocolate rice krispie treats I'd first seen here.  I have to admit, I played around with the recipe a bit to fit both with budget and the limited kitchen equipment I have here {a sugar thermometer is on my list - is that lame?}.  Anyway, I bought mostly everything at a poundshop though if you have the time, money and inclination I'm sure you could use much higher quality ingredients {I would if I could!}. Want to see the finished version?

I love 'em! And I swear down they're moreish.  I accidentally ate one when I was finished taking this photo and now I want another, and another...Slippery slope my friends.  Slippery slope.  Aesthetically, they don't look any more fancy that your standard rice krispie treat but it terms of taste it blows the old school version right out the water.

In terms of having a recipe for you, everything was a little adhoc.  I melted a couple tablespoons of butter over a medium heat before adding most of the bag of marshmallows and stirring until completely melted. Once all the marshmallow lumps are gone, remove the pan from the heat and stir in a healthy dose of rice krispies.  Again, a bit adhoc, I just kept adding more until all the mix seemed fairly evenly distributed.  Press this down into a baking tray or dish lined with greaseproof paper {the paper is super important or you're just going end up with the mix setting solid to your dish.  Fail.}.  After that, I melted probably a whole pot of peanut butter together with a few squares of milk chocolate and spread the mix over the marshmallow/krispie goodness.  It gets better.  Melt up the rest of your milk chocolate {I used just under 2 200g bars} and pour THAT over the peanut butter over the marshmallow/krispie goodness.

Salivating yet? I was.

At this point, stick the whole lot in the fridge to chill for a while.  I took it out again briefly to initially chop into squares to make my life a bit easier.  I think it took roughly an hour to chill through.  The wait was so worth it though.

These guys have just the right amount of sweetness tempered with the salt from the peanut butter {it takes the edge off just enough so you can eat twice the amount you planned...} and the recipe really is super simple to follow, even adhoc. I think it took me under 30minutes to make, if it was anywhere near that.  If I make them again I think I'd make a few alterations: I'd probably use more of a higher quality peanut butter - the layer I ended up with wasn't quite thick enough for my liking {I'm a peanut butter fiend} and I'd probably use dark chocolate over milk, again to take the edge off the sweetness a bit more.

I have to say, the first bite I was uncertain of but I found myself craving {and going back for} more. They're definitely calling my name from the fridge.

Have a go - it's definitely worth it.

Love B x

ps.  I don't recommend making these if you plan on being seen in swimwear in the immediate future.  I warned you, they are at the top of a very sliperry slope.  Just saying.

Fourteen Days of Food: Day 2

Well, so much for my lofty ambitions of fourteen consecutive days of food.  Blogger seemed to have a wee hissy fit yesterday and  my Day 1 post disappeared for quite a while.  I tried uploading this post yesterday but it wasn't having any of it.  So, 24 hours late, here we go. Please accept my apologies.

Today's recipe is really simple {even more so that the rice krispie cakes}: smoked mackerel pate.  If you aren't a fan of big fishy flavours, I suggest you probably just skip this, it isn't going to be your cup of tea. 

I used a whole packet of smoked mackerel for this - roughly around 250g - and about half a pot of quark. If you haven't heard of quark, it's  pretty brill.  It's fat free soft cheese and it's pretty neutral flavour wise making it a brilliant base for spreads, dips or for for marinades like tandoori. It's also fat free so if you're watching your waistline it's pretty handy to have in your arsenal.  

Anyway, I blended together the mackerel and the quark with a pinch of salt, pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice and, Bob's your uncle, you've got a delicious smokey fish pate to spread on toast. Using these quantities, this 'recipe' makes quite a lot, which I could personally just eat all day but if you maybe aren't inclined to do so, it freezes really well.  

I wish I could be more specific with a recipe but there really is no need, just taste taste taste and you can't go wrong! I recommend slathering it on toast but I can't lie to you, I could just eat it with a spoon {oh so classy}.

Love B x

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Thought of you...

Hmmm...Thank you blogger, looks like this beauty didn't get posted either.  It's a bit less relevant but Google's animation on the 11th was a celebration of the modern dance pioneer Martha Graham. I thought it was beautiful - graceful and elegant - and it reminded me of an animation I had seen a while ago that I initially watched over and over again.  The music is so well picked and I was amazed that the animation moved me in the same way that dance in real life does: testament to the skill of the dancers upon which the film was based and the talent of the animators who created the piece. I've hunted in out again on YouTube to share with you and once again, find myself moved. It's truly beautiful and poignant.

Once again, I've sat and watched it a million times on repeat...

Love B x

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Royal Wedding

Yes, I know I'm about a million years late on this one. I did take the day off to watch the whole thing and I thought it was lovely, it seemed so perfect for them.  I loved the personal touches like William driving them off in the car at the end and the two kisses on the balcony.  It just came across like the wedding of two people totally in love - just like all weddings should! I had to post this image though.  Her dress was breathtaking and so perfect for the occasion.  I loved all the details - from the lace sleeves, the edging on her veil and the sweet Williams in her bouquet.  Doesn't she look incredible?



I'm back baby!

I made it! 4 years of studying was all over by 4.30pm yesterday. Can I just say, it feels marvellous.  Granted I now have to consider what I am actually going to do with my life and start taking the steps to get there but I'm hoping maybe, just maybe, I can deploy the head in the sand approach for just a little bit longer.  Until graduation at least! Until then, I'm sat here considering all the things I want to do and now have the time for...

Like making these tasties {if they could talk, they'd be jumping up and down yelling at me to try them, so I'm pretty sure it's rude not to}...

Browsing {and perhaps purchasing} some pops of colour...

Doing my bit to help the environment * {got to love a good collaboration}...

Attempting a DIY version of this lovely, having been inspired here

Learning to use my camera on the course I just signed up for...




And restoring calm and order to slightly neglected abode {it looks like a stationary shop has exploded all over our kitchen.  Last minute cramming will do that to you}...

I've also decided to set myself a challenge.  I LOVE to cook and bake {who am I kidding, I love to eat too} and I haven't had much time on my hands to do that recently, so I'm going to try and do fourteen foods in fourteen days. Some will obviously consist of the dinner that I'm making that evening but still, I'd like to push myself.  I think I'll start with the guys I mentioned at the beginning of the post.  Watch this space and hopefully I'll have something to show for it tomorrow!

Told you I would bring my A game back after exams...


*and if you are a bit non-plussed as to why, you need to go here 

Monday, 9 May 2011


BHLDN have finally launched the decor portion of their collection and it can only be described as beautiful. Whilst not planning a wedding any time soon {you can exhale if you're reading this babe!} I can't help but linger over the designs.  Especially because I can imagine most of them being used time and time again for any number of parties and celebrations. Hell, I'd even buy them for that reason in the first place: they'd add beautiful finishing touches to your dinner party and the flowers, bunting and fans would make fabulous additions to any outdoor celebrations.  Here's a few rather a lot of my favourites from the site...

via {BHLDN}

I couldn't help myself! I had to pick them all!

blogger template by lovebird