Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Leap Year Day

Well thank goodness this day only happens once in every four years, because what a day its been. We are currently having our bathroom refitted, its out with the old bath sink and units and in with something new and fresh. When we got all the quotes and planned the start date of the work all seemed hunky-dory. But as they say the best laid plans etc, etc.

Well Monday morning arrived and so did the plumbers at 8.30am (sooo early) ready to start work. They are a very nice bunch of guys very polite and well organised. Work began  in earnest about 10 minutes after their arrival, the bath was first to go, followed by the basin and bathroom units.  

All seemed plain sailing until oh dear ! we had the wrong shower tray. but that was soon sorted. Then we had to change the position of the pump for the shower, no problem, there again soon sorted out. However today no fault of the excellent plumbing team but the suppliers of the bathroom units sent the wrong ones. Nooooooo!!!!!! They take three weeks to order and be made up now what are we to do? 

Well the toilet that had been removed had to be reinstalled and we are having to await the unit suppliers to ring tomorrow with a solution to the problem. Sadly, this means we are still with out a basin or shower in our bathroom. It feels like the Victorian times, we need a tin  bath tub to put in front of the fire.

I know it will all get sorted out but today, I felt as if I'd just like to run away and hide. I'm just telling myself it will all be great when its finished. 

But just look at it now, what a mess. When its finished I may post another picture. All I can say is I am so glad the plumbing company we have doing the work are so nice.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Walnut Truffle Cake

Just thought I'd share with you this lovely recipe I found in the Guardian Magazine last weekend.Well actually my husband found it and proceeded to badger me into looking at it then cooking it for him. Well I had nothing to do but listen to him moan about the Rugby on Saturday so to keep him in a good humour for the proposed trip to Farnborough the next day I made him this cake.

The best chocolate cake he's ever tasted he said,  I hasten to add

Its a recipe by Dan Lepard all to do with his desire to push the English Walnut centre stage http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/17/walnut-cake-recipes-dan-lepard

As you can see from this recipe no flour was involved, yes, that took me by surprise too. Its a really easy recipe to follow so give it a go. Below are some photos of the process.

I used a square tin rather than the round one recommended but it still works
I used all plain organic chocolate
Walnuts sugar and cocoa ground in the food processor
Eggs and Mascarpone added
Ready for the oven
The first slices gone
A very happy consumer
In his recipe Dan Lepard tells you to let the cake completely cool. Well, let me tell you my husband is terrible for pinching stuff when its only been out of the oven for a short while.He, however, said that was a mistake as when its cold this cake is at its best, so heed the advice given by Mr Lepard.  

I am now very tempted to make the Walnut Orange Crumble Cake which was also in this article

Monday, 27 February 2012

Make It Craft Show

As I said in my last post I was going to the Make it Craft Show at Farnborough. Well, despite England loosing the match on Saturday ( what a lousy decision that was by the referee) my husband wasn't feeling too bad and  was still game to take me to the show the next day.

I have been to the show before and whilst its not the biggest or the best its usually quite good. This year though I was a little disappointing as there wasn't much there really for the scrapbookers amongst us. there was an abundance of stalls selling stamps,card kits, die cuts and punches but very little in the way of scrapbook papers albums and such like.

The Make It Show
Don't get me wrong, though I still found some things I just had to have. I got some lovely ribbons from Mei Flower (http://www.meiflower.co.uk/) and some very pretty shabby chic scrapbook papers from 'Just Scrapbooking' (http://www.justscrapbooking.co.uk).

The Just Scrapbooking Stall

My husband also got me some Spellbinder and Memory Box craft dies from 'Sincerely Yours' (http://www.sincerely-yours.co.uk/)  which I cannot wait to try out.

Whilst I was at the show I also made a card with the 'Stampin Up'  people and had a go at some finger knitting. There were loads of other workshops but there is a limit to the time my husbands endurance of the crazy crafting fraternity. 
'Stampin Up' stall run by http://www.oakfieldcrafts.blogspot.com/
The very pretty card I made with the' Stampin Up' Ladies

I'm looking forward now to the Big Stamp and Scrapbooking Show at Alexandra Palace on the 14th and 15th April 2012.   

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Rugby Widow

Today England play Wales at Twickenham in the six nations so apart from a  quick trip to the supermarket the day will revolve around this event. If, and it's a big if. England win then all will be sweetness and light. if they loose all will be gloom and despondency. So, sorry Wales fans, and that includes my friend Stella, but I really hope England win 

England team

I must not moan though as tomorrow I'm off to Farnborough for the Make it Craft and Make it Homemade - the total Craft Event (http://www.make-it.org.uk/ Will tell you all about it in my next blog post.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Coconut and Raisin Oat Cookies

I hardly ever buy biscuits other than at Christmas as no one in the family is that keen on them. Everyone though loves homemade cookies, especially when they are still warm from the oven. I don't make them very often, well watching your calories consumption is something we all have to be conscious of especially if like me you have always had a weight problem. In the past two years I have lost 4 stone and I certainly do not want that going back on again. 

One of the family favourites is a recipe for Oat cookies which I found in a healthy eating book, but have  modified to include various different fruits depending on what is about.  So if you want to use this recipe and want some different fruits by all means do so it works. 

I have made Coconut and Raisin Oat Cookies, and for this I used the following ingredients:


4oz (115g) unsalted butter
3oz (75g) Brown or Golden Caster sugar
1tblsp (75g) Clear Honey 
4oz Self Raising Flour
4oz Porridge Oats
2oz (50g) Raisins
1oz (25g) Dessicated Coconut
1oz (25g) Chopped Nuts 
Spot the deliberate error here. Yes, wrong flour

Pre-heat oven to 170oC 375oF Gas Mark 3 
Chop up butter and place into sauce pan add clear honey and sugar. Place on heat and gradually melt butter and stir to combine with honey and sugar. Warm until all butter has melted and sugar is dissolved.

Butter sugar and honey being warmed

Place all dry ingredients (flour oats coconut and dried fruit) into a bowl.

Add melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well to form a sticky dough.

Wet and dry ingredients mixed
Using a dessert spoon divide the dough into pieces approx 10 and place directly onto a lined baking sheet.

Press into round 3/4 cm biscuit shapes.
Ready to bake. Note I do not worry too much about keeping shapes round I like the rustic look. 

Scatter chopped nuts over the biscuits  surface prior to baking 

Cook fro 15 mins until golden brown but leave biscuits slightly soft.

Fresh out of the oven

Leave for 5 mins after baking as they tend to be soft and need time to set as it were before transferring to a wire rack to cool. 

You can of course as I said use other fruits and tweak the recipe. I have used  dried apricots and nuts, cranberries and nuts, even fresh banana and walnuts. All of these options taste great. My advice though is don't make too many as they are incredibly moreish.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

My First Challenge

Some time ago I promised my daughter I would create a scrapbook that would mark her growing up, a sort of 'this is your life book'. Well as she herself pointed out when she leaves home she will leave behind all the old photos  and in so doing leave a lot of memories.  She loves to spend time leafing through the old albums and laughing at the pictures and remembering old holidays and such 

The page below is the start of this book I just hope she will approve.

I love this photo I think she looks rather like a china doll with great big blue black eyes. Its what I think they call an old fashioned look,very knowing. I think this might be one of the only shots of her in pink because as a little girl it was a colour she was never too keen on. Now it's quite a different story. She is also sporting a hair band which her grandfather hated and any chance he got he removed it. Shortly after this photos was taken the said hair band was removed by him and never seen again, this is quite a historical shot. 

For this page I used The Studio blog site challenge No 19 design. http://thestudiochallenges.blogspot.com/2012/02/february-19-challenge.html

I began with  a basic plain pink 12 x 12 sheet of card which I distressed with Tim Holtz inks in Victorian Velvet and also edged in pink acrylic paint to create a border.

I then tore a sheet of A4 paper had in my stash to and again distressed with the inks. I mounted the photo onto a bright pink card leaving a very fine border. I felt this lifted the photos from the background.I also placed some flourish die cuts at the top left hand corner of the photo in pink and silver in order to draw the eye down the page.

I placed the torn paper to the right of centre on the page and then added the photo slightly off set as well.

Across the page from  the bottom left corner up ward to the right of the page  I placed overlapping circles of varying sizes and of different paper types. I then added buttons and gem flowers to follow this sloping line.

I used silver lettering for the title which I decided should only be my daughters name. I then added a few of the gem flowers I had used at the bottom of the page. 

Finally I added  a bit of text at the bottom  of the page just to give a bit of history to the photo

As a first page done I am pleased but there are many more to go well she is 19 and I do love taking photos. I just hope my daughter likes it 

I am also going to put this forward for the The studio challenge, well I used their design so I might as well give it a try.  It will be my first such entry so lets hope its liked.         .      


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Turkey and Bacon Pancake Lasagne

Whilst I love sweet pancakes with all that lovely honey lemons sugar maple syrup etc on them I have also got to say I do like savoury pancakes. each pancake day I try out something a little different this year I made Turkey and Bacon Pancake Lasagne.

If you want to try them out here is my recipe.



6oz Plain Flour
2 Eggs
3/4 pt milk (400ml approx)
Oil for frying

Lasagne filling

500 g  Minced Turkey
250 g Bacon lardons
1 Red or White onion
1 Sweet Red Pepper
1tbsp Tomato Puree
I tin 400g Chopped Tomatoes
1 jar Loyd Grossman  Smokey Bacon Pasta Sauce
2 tsp Italian seasoning 

White Sauce

3oz Plain Flour
3oz Butter
1½ pt milk

Cheese grated for topping

The various ingredients


Turn on oven to190oC Gas mark5 or 375oF

First make meat sauce for meat layer in lasagne. To do this start by chopping up onion and pepper.Then add these with the lardons to a pan and fry gently until lardons are brownish and onion an pepper are softer.

Add Italian herbs seasoning

The onion and peppers frying gently

Add minced turkey and brown gently.

The add tin of tomatoes and the tomato puree  

 Set this mixture to keep cooking at a very low heat.

Then make white sauce. Melt the butter add the flour and then blend before returning to the heat briefly to cook the flour. 

Remove from the heat and mix in milk gradually so as not to create lumps.

The flour and butter mix - the roux

Return the mixture to the heat stir all the time as the mixture thickens. 

The finished smoothly mixed sauce

Set the white sauce on one side with a lid on pan

Make pancakes. Whisk eggs with milk and then add flour blend carefully so as not to create lumps. I always add flour and milk alternately to give a smooth end result. If you want thinner pancakes you can add a little more milk but do not make mixture too thin.

Once the ingredients are all blended together heat oil in pan ready to fry pancakes. Make several pancakes; how many will be determined by how many layers you want in your lasagne.

The pancake mix

The pancake layer in preparation

Once the pancakes are made you can then assemble your lasagne. I used an oval dish as my round dish suffered from a careless kitchen 'jenga' event and broke into several pieces. A round dish would be easier.

You begin with a layer of the meat sauce mix followed by a pancake, then some white sauce, then another pancake. You just make it up in layers in this manner. I normally do two layers of meat sauce. 

First layer
Second layer
Finally end with a white sauce layer which is then topped with grated cheese 
Cook for approx 20 - 30 minutes until cheese is lovely and golden brown. Then sit down and enjoy with a green salad. This should serve 6 or  4 very hungry people.  

Lasagne before baking
A slice of heaven
My husband describe the taste as lush. Just remember it does not have to be pancake day to try out the recipe.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Out of the Blue

I recently came across some lovely blue Papermania paper from the 'Burleigh Blue' collection. I thought it was lovely. It reminded me of old blue and  white china which I have always be fond of. Anyway, I simply could not resist buying some, and of course I had to have some bows, buttons, flowers and borders all from the same collection. Yes, very naughty I know but you know how it is. It is so tempting and you convince yourself that of course you just have to have it all.

The paper maybe obtained from Hobby craft and other stockists inc  http://www.bgpaynecrafts.co.uk
Well, now I have confessed to my extravagance perhaps I should share my first page using the said purchases. Please excuse the photo I normally try to stay very firmly behind the camera. My husband was determined that since it was my first revisit to Plymouth since my student days he had to get some shots of me. Here I am in front of the stone arch that marks the point from which the Mayflower set sail  in 1620 for America   

Plymouth revisited 
For this page I used a plain pale blue basics sheet and then distress the edges using Tim Holtz distress ink. I also used acrylic paint  paint to create an edge and to stamp rings across the  centre of the page.For this I used card board and a old milk bottle top stamped into the paint and then onto the page, this I felt created an uneven distressed effect. 

I cropped the larger of the two photos and then cut the smaller shot down using a spellbinder oval die cut.

I then selected two sheets of the blue paper keeping to the circular motif I had already created using the bottle top. I tore these and then distressed the edges of the paper using the same ink I had used on the page surround. 

I mounted these pieces of paper in the centre of the page and to the right hand side of the sheet adjacent to these torn sheets I also placed a sheet of the checked blue and white designer die cut paper from the Burleigh Collection 
Die cut papers
 I then mounted the larger of the photos so it was slightly off set leaving an uneven border effect. I then placed the die cut photo in the upper right of the main photo.  

Main large flower
I then used paper flower embellishments, buttons and gem stones to decorate the card. I scattered the small flowers, which I had coloured using distress ink, randomly. The larger flower which again came from the Burleigh collection, I placed at the lower left hand corner of the photo.

Close up to show smaller flowers and the designer die cut sheet used
To finish I added a title and a small oval  journal tag.

The title

As you can imagine I have several sheets of paper and such like left from this collection so will no doubt be using it again. I think some might well be used in Mothers Day cards    

Friday, 17 February 2012

Fabulous Flapjacks

Today I had a yen to do some cooking. So it was a case of see what’s in the old store cupboard. Well not much I’m afraid as I have not been grocery shopping this week. Well I did have porridge oats, golden syrup, sugar, butter and some rather sad looking bananas, “so flapjacks it is” I thought. 

The ingredients


225g (8oz) butter
225g (8oz) soft brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
350g (12oz) Rolled Oats.

I also added 2 bananas
1 25cm (10“) square cake tin


Preheat oven to 150oc Gas mark2 or 300o

Put butter sugar and syrup into saucepan and heat slowly until butter has melted and stir ingredients together 

Syrup and butter just add sugar to this and heat
Mix together until butter melts
Add the oats and in my case I also added two mushed up bananas. Mix in carefully.  

Add oats

Once the mixture is smooth place into tin. I  discovered I had lent my square tin to someone so had to use  round tins but no matter square or round the flapjacks taste the same.You may find you have to press the surface down to get a smooth top.

Place oats mixture into baking tin and smooth top surface flat
 Place in oven and cook for about 35-40 mins check after 20 mins to ensure even cooking.

Cut into segments
 Leave to cool for between 5 and 10 mins then cut into squares or as in this case segments. Use a sharp knife. Leave to completely cool before storing  

Added extra icing drizzle

 I added a little extra to my flapjacks using a little icing sugar and water to make a drizzle icing. You could also melt chocolate and drizzle over the finished flapjacks.

Then serve or store.