Friday, December 23, 2011

Have a very merry christmas...


image via Meadowbrook Farm


Sorry for being so quiet this week on the blog front. I wish I could say it was because I had been so busy partying away at all the lovely festive get togethers I had planned but instead I've been too busy inhaling natural - and not so natural - remedies in between sneezing and spluttering...it must be christmas!

I'm going to have a little blog break between now and the new year. So I wish you all a very merry, joy-filled christmas as we remember how much we are truly loved and cherished...

"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest upon his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end." Isaiah 9 v 6-7

Friday, December 16, 2011

d.i.y. christmas gifts...

So I locked myself into a huge shopping centre near us for about 7 hours yesterday and now have nearly all my christmas presents sorted, except...ahem...my husbands - eek! If you're still thinking about what to get people then maybe consider making something lovely and personal for them. I love recieving gifts that are handmade, it just oozes love and attention...and it's something completely unique. There are so many lovely ideas for handmade gifts, I collected a few of my favourites together for you today:

Twigs + glue + spray paint via crafty so-and-so

simply smelling gorgeous with
 a vanilla candle + cinnamon sticks + twine via balancing the dream

14 homemade sugar scrub recipes via tip junkie

Cute sewing kit via frugalicious me


For the cupcake lovers amongst us via the 36th avenue


Chocolate stirrers. Source not known
(please let me know if you've seen them so credit can be given where due!)
This would look fab on old metal spoons :)


Remember these? Fun teacup candles via Martha Stewart


And for the icecream lovers via family bites

I'm planning on making personalised craft boxes for two of my nephews and some lovely biscuits and chocolates for my nanas (I think I'm safe to say neither my nephews or nana's will be browsing the internet!)
I hope these show how homemade gifts so don't have to be ridiculously involved to be lovely, many these would take no time at all but would mean the world to that special person...happy making :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

This weekend...

You know a weekend can only get better when it starts by cleaning the kitchen...but have you ever seen Withnail and I? Remember their kitchen? Yep that's why it had to be done :)

But it did get better! I had a fab christmas night out with all my work girlies and our christmas decorations went up! We settled for an artificial tree this year after last years dramas...although I'll slightly miss the adrenaline rush of eating dinner knowing that at any moment I could potentially be sporting a christmas tree for a hat.


Meet my favourite new addition to our christmas collection:


And I decided to become a sailor...ok not exactly, but I had the urge to learn how to tie knots. I've got some pretty ideas for these beauties



hmmm they're not that clear (I'm refusing to give in to this camera) but I'm really excited because I think that the one on the right is going to enable me to finally finish a bracelet that I love. Remember the woven bracelet? Well my favourite version of that was with twine and fabric but it has sat half finished for months because I haven't been able to think of a way of tidying up all the twine to make it wearable. Enter wonder knot {I hope} which enables you to create a plait with one strand of twine.

So tonight we're having cajun chicken. This recipe is a staple in this household. It is a spicy tastebud bursting heap of deliciousness. Without fail my nose is planted firmly above the pan taking in as much of the gorgeous aroma while it cooks as possible.

Cajun Chicken (adapted from somewhere on the web, I have no idea where)



Seasoning mix

I much prefer to make the seasoning in bulk so that the dinner is super quick...trust me, you will want this dinner again so do it (but there's no reason why you can't turn what's a tbsp into tsp if you want to try without commitment)

2 tbsp Cayenne pepper (less if you're not a fan of heat)
2 tbsp Black Pepper
1 tbsp Salt
1 tbsp Dried Thyme
1 tbsp Rosemary
1/2 tsp Oregano

Simply mix altogether and store in an airtight container.

Ingredients (serves 2)
1&1/2 tbsp garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp seasoning mix
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp parsley
knob of butter
2 chicken breasts

1) Mix together all the ingredients except the butter and chicken in a bowl.
2) Chop up the chicken into strips and mix into the marinade. If possible then leave to marinate for a few hours.
3) Heat a pan on medium heat and transfer meat and sauce into pan. Cook for 2 minutes and then flip the chicken over and cook for a further 2 minutes
4) Add the butter bit by bit until it has all melted. Cook for a further 4 minutes, stirring regularly (or until chicken is cooked through)
5) Serve with rice or potato wedges

p.s. this is super delicious with prawns too :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

oooh pretty things...

I have to say, Ruth and Liz have found some absolute beauts for Blackberry Grove, just in time for any last minute christmas shopping you might have to do. I can't decide what is my favourite thing! For the full collection, just click here for the shop over on facebook. If you wish to make any orders, simply email blackberrygrove@hotmail.co.uk.

Here's a sneak peak:



A festive jingle bell heart - £4.99

Rustic metal trugs: small - £4.99, medium- £7.99, Large - £10.99

Set of 4 wooden heart coasters - £5.99

Gisela Graham Country jug/vase - £12.99

And a matching creamer jug - £4.99

Beautiful painted birds - £3.99 each or £29.99 for a set of 8

Zinc sleigh bells on gingham ribbon - £3.99 for a set of 6

Distressed vintage framed magnetic chalkboard - £29.99

Wooden doorstop - £4.99

Distressed metal Peace garland (40cm) - £3.99

Metal bird hook in dark brown with pink daisies - £2.99

Little heart signs - £2.99 each
 I could just keep going so really take a look over at the shop to pick out your favourites! I love what Ruth did with the painted birds:

Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

All wrapped up...

I love wrapping up christmas presents. I think I love it as much as buying them. I can see it now...Christmas Eve with a glass of wine and listening to festive tunes...and recovering from the madness of last minute shopping. Here's some pretty d.i.y. gift wrap ideas to make that loved person hesitate (let's face it, ever so slightly) before mercilessly ripping it open to find the gift beneath - but it'd look so pretty under the tree! The links are under each photo.

1.
Pretty toppings to the simplest of paper

How to make your own tulle pom-pom bows

2.
A delicious burst of colour


3.
I'm a big big fan of brown paper

great idea as long as no-one shares an initial :)
4.
While on the brown paper love...such a simple lovely idea

a paper cutter to make the scalloped edge
5.
Lovely little boxes

A step by step photo guide

6.
Pretty and feminine

gorgeous paper roses

7.
It would look great with vintage festive paper as the cut outs

Ultra simple with the use of a paper cutter

8.
Paper gift bows

The classic decoration

I'm not sure whether I'm going to be able to put up any tutorials for a while as my camera is progressively dying...at first it just hated natural light but now it won't do any close ups and appears to like the idea of making everything unfocused :( Not really great when I want to show each step...or even just the finished item! So, instead I'll root around and share wth you all the great ideas that are already floating around on the internet for this christmas time.

Happy wrapping!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lovely warm cinnamon bread...

I'm not a food photographer. Can you tell?


Of course, I was totally going for the slightly out of focus and amateur look...I particularly like how I prettified it up with a plastic lid :) I'm sorry for my poor photography skills and lack of effort...I really should have added the glaze after transferring the bread to something a little more pretty because it was really not going to work after the glaze had been poured :) To help make you drool like I did then here's the photo that got me hooked:


Mmmm. This was how I used up {most} of my left over pumpkin. I have to slightly correct my last post when I said about mixing sweet and savoury. I'm not a fan when it's obvious...like jam on toast (I'm sorry but I can't get my head around toast being anything but a savoury thing), rice pudding or, say, courgette and cheese muffins. But I like it when you can sneak things in and you would never know...the pumpkin is really not the main taste in this bread (think lovely warm cinnamon) but knowing it's in there means I can fool myself know that I'm getting one of my five a day with every bite...don't even think about telling me otherwise.

This is definately a recipe to make when you've got a day at home as there's plenty of time where you have to be patient and leave it to rise.

Pull apart cinnamon sugar and pumpkin bread.
(very minorly adapted from sunny side up in san diego)

Ingredients:

Bread:                                             
30g unsalted butter          
110ml milk                                                          
2 tsp active dry yeast                                        
150g pumpkin puree                                               
50g castor sugar                                                                                   
1 tsp salt
340g bread flour

Cinnamon sugar:
100g castor sugar
2tsp ground cinnamon
1/4tsp ground nutmeg
30g unsalted butter

Glaze:
30g unsalted butter
25g soft brown sugar
1.5tbsp milk
1tsp vanilla essence
90g icing sugar, sifted

1) Heat a saucepan over a medium heat and melt 30g butter until browned...if you're not sure how to make brown butter then take a look here (it only takes a few minutes with this amount of butter)

2) Heat 110ml milk either in a pan or in the microwave. Add the milk and browned butter to a large bowl. Leave to cool until warm {not hot} and add 50g castor sugar and yeast. Leave to proof for approximately 8 minutes (apparently it's meant to go foamy and cloudy...I obviously went wrong as mine did neither, but it turned out just fine).

3) Add the pumpkin, salt and 1/3 of the flour. Stir until combined and gradually add the rest of the flour. If the dough is still very wet and sticky, continue to add flour 1 tbsp at a time until the dough comes together. Knead for 6 minutes until smooth, elastic and very slightly sticky.

4) Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for about 60-90 minutes.

5) Time for the cinnamon sugar. Brown 30g of butter over a medium heat. In a separate bowl combine 100g sugar with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Set to one side.

6) Take the dough and knead again for 1-2 minutes. Roll into a large rectangle (about 1/2cm thick). Brush the butter over the dough and sprinkle over the cinnamon sugar. Press into the dough.

7) Cut the rectangle into 6 strips. Lay the strips on top of one another and cut into 6-8 even squares.

8) Grease a 9x5" loaf tin. Stack the squares vertically into the tin. Cover with a clean towel and leave to rise again for 30-45 minutes. During this time preheat the oven to 170 degree celcius.

9) Bake for 45 minutes. The top of the bread should be a deep golden brown. I covered my bread with foil after 30 minutes as it was a gorgeous colour on top but not quite cooked in the middle.

10) For the glaze: heat the butter, milk and brown sugar in a pan. Bring to the boil and remove from the heat immediately. Stir in the vanilla essence and icing sugar until smooth. Pour over the bread.

This is so tasty I can't tell you enough that you should go and make this now :)
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