Tuesday, 30 June 2015

solstice



If you've been reading for a while, you'll know that I'm a bit of a hippy at heart; I love nature and the outdoors, and I've been getting more into celebrating the seasons with the kiddos recently, so I decided we'd do something to celebrate the solstice last week.

Traditionally, people used to celebrate the longest day of the year with candle-lit processions, gathering around open fires, staying up all night to watch the sun rise and generally thinking about what you've achieved, and what you hope to do in the coming months. We obviously didn't do that (although one of our lovely friends has just given us a tent, so it might be on the cards for next year!), but I did want to celebrate in some way, so I thought it'd be a good time to finally get round to making an amazing looking bundt cake that I saw in Chickpea magazine. And that was where things started to go wrong.

It's no secret that I'm a lousy cook (I mention it often enough on here!), but usually I can knock out a fairly decent cake, so I thought making a vegan one wouldn't really be any different. Me and the littlest whizzed up the ingredients, then popped it into the oven; I had visions of it coming out all fragrant and bundt-ish, then decorating it with flowers from the garden in some sort of Pinterest-worthy style.

So you can imagine my disappointment when we opened the oven and discovered this:



Pinterest it wasn't.

I honestly don't know what went wrong; I'm pretty sure I followed the recipe, and it had way longer than it was supposed to in the oven, but the middle was all raw and squidgey (urrghh). When I took it out it sank (a bit like my heart *violins*) almost straight away, and it had a weird sort of crust around the edge, which funnily enough was the only bit that was actually cooked.

So in the end, I decided to stick to what I know; we went around the garden with our little car-boot sale trug and gathered lots of flowers to take to my mum as a little solstice gift. I'm pretty sure they were appreciated way more than that cake would have been!



Monday, 29 June 2015

found: peggy




I love supporting and promoting independent artists and makers, which was why I originally started the 'Found' series, and today I've got my favourite so far. I can't really take the credit for finding this one myself - I saw a necklace on someone elses Instagram, and it kind of went from there really.

Peggy is the creation of the lovely Beth, who makes all sorts of ace things; home accessories, brooches and badges, and best of all, her wonderfully colourful necklaces. Her Folksy shop is full of ready-made designs; crafted from thread-wrapped rope, she also takes commissions (I requested slightly different colours to anything that was listed in the shop), and delivers SUPER quickly (I think mine was ready the day after I ordered it!) I'm thoroughly in love with mine; not only is the design quirky and a bit different, the quality is also top notch. Huge thumbs up!

You can find Beth over on her Instagram feed (definitely worth a follow!), or at her Folksy shop. Big thanks for the fab service, and letting me pinch some of her lovely images!




Tuesday, 23 June 2015

a very sunny saturday


Although May was apparently the coldest one we've had for years (anyone else only just given up their winter coat?!), June has been much kinder to us weather-wise, which is why I've not been blogging much. When the sun's out, the last thing I want to do is sit in front of the laptop when we could be off on an adventure!

We're pretty much permanently skint, so our adventures to tend to rotate through the same places - the beach, the countryside and the city, but we always have a pretty good time. There's a lot to be said for exploring your local area - I've just bought this book, which I'm hoping will inspire us for the rest of the summer. We're not going on holiday this year, and we're definitely not going to be heading off to any festivals either (seriously, HOW do people afford to do more than one when you've got kids in tow?!), so we'll be making the most of the lovely South Coast.

A couple of weeks ago we packed the car and spent the morning at the beach - we always, always go to Witterings because a) it only takes about fifteen minutes to get there and b) it's always beautiful. We've never come back without beautiful shells or driftwood or other treasures, and the dunes act like brilliant windbreaks and places to jump around.








Because the beach cafe is pretty pricey, and I wasn't organised enough to think about packing food, we went home for lunch. That carrot salad might look impressive, but the only thing I can take credit for is opening the box - courtesy of Waitrose, I'm afraid!

We finished the day over at Petersfield; I popped into Wild Damson which is my absolute favourite shop - at Christmas they sell all sorts of dried fruits and foliage for decorations, and the rest of the year there are candles and succulents and plants and enamelware and baskets and pots *takes breath* If you're ever in the area, I strongly suggest you pay a visit! I could have bought a million things, but managed to limit myself to a few vintage flower pots - I'm slowly trying to replace all of my plastic (ugh) ones, and these were too good to pass up!
Round the corner is Petersfield Physic Garden which is beautiful, but not really somewhere to take rowdy kiddos - I had eough time to snap a few pictures, then we left under the glare radiating from a gentleman trying to enjoy some peace and quiet. Whoops!














Tuesday, 16 June 2015

food, glorious food



I think that given my history in the kitchen (I'm way better at opening packets and putting things in bowls than I am actual cooking) the title of this post might be a teeny bit optimistic, but finally getting our kitchen sorted means that I've been spending quite a bit of time imagining myself as some sort of masterchef-type-food-hero. Surely, a new worktop and shiny tiles will turn me into the next Nigella, no? OK, so maybe not, but it hasn't stopped me saving new recipes and daydreaming over fancy kitchen gadgets; I've already got a food processor, but I've always fancied one of those posh ones that they have on the Breat British Bake Off, all smooth curves and vintage styling. The lovely folk at Tesco have just produced a really helpful guide to buying food processors, so if you're anything like me and you usually judge gadgets on their colour rather than function, it could be useful reading!

I've spent so long pinning, copy-and-pasting and bookmarking that I thought I'd share some of my favourite sources of inspiration for recipes and cooking. Please note, though, I've not actually got round to making anything yet!


Chickpea Magazine

Oh my Lord, where to start with Chickpea magazine? I first discovered it in the reading rack in Southsea Coffee and despite not being vegan (it's a magazine with recipes aimed at vegans and vegetarians), I adore it. The images are worthy of sticking on the wall, the recipes sound lip-smackingly good, and the best news is that they produce a digital version (see above) for the princely sum of $5, which works out at about £3. Worth every penny!

Veggie Magazine

I picked up a copy of Veggie magazine a couple of weeks ago in Waitrose - if I'm honest, I was mostly attracted by the lovely cover (sorry!), but also the feature on summer salads. I love a good salad, but I'm always fairly uninspired and unimaginative when it comes to ingredients, so this automatically caught my eye. Inside was a pleasant surprise - not only are there heaps of lovely recipes which don't require ingredients that can only be found at the far-flung corners of the globe, there are also features on travel, growing and some really good interviews. This issue had a piece on Saffia Minney. Squee!

Pinterest

Kind of obvious, but Pinterest is a great place to head for recipes - a lot of the time I pin stuff just because the food photography is so unbelievably beautiful. My absolute favourite food account to follow is A Couple Cooks - they cover absolutely everything and the images are just amazing. Makes me hungry just thinking about it!

Columns

There are two chefs who actually make me go out and buy a newspaper for their columns - one is Nigel Slater, and the other is Yotam Ottolenghi. In my eyes, Nigel Slater can literally do no wrong - I've watched all of his programmes over and over on the iPlayer and YouTube (although not quite as many times as I've watched Alys Fowlers series!), got all of his books either on my shelves or on my wishlist, and thoroughly enjoyed Toast (if you've not watched it, do). I love how his recipes use good, honest ingredients, and are simple enough for even a complete kitchen-fool like me to follow. I've never actually made anything by Yotam Ottolenghi, but am a bit obsessed with his Plenty book.

This is a collaborative post. 

Friday, 5 June 2015

the big kitchen makeover


You might or might not remember that when we moved into our house, it was an absolute crap-hole. We'd been told that it would be all fixed and shiny and new by the moving-in date but it wasn't - so in the end we admitted defeat and did it ourselves. Ali laid new floors and carpets with the help of his Dad, filled holes, sanded, removed artrex (seriously, who the actual hell even likes that stuff?!), plastered and painted for weeks - we probably wouldn't have been so huffy if we'd bought it, but it's only a rental!

The kitchen was one of the worst places, and we've already given it the treatment once - but there's still so much that we can't stand, so we're going bigger. To give you an idea of just how bad the whole room is, I've taken a few pictures.....

The corner shelves in the photo above are really annoying - they're really far apart and teeny, so technically  a total waste of space and pretty useless. We're going to be ripping (probably literally ripping as everything in this house seems to have been glued in place!) them off and replacing them with some nice long open shelving on the adjacent wall with hooks for utensils.



The cupboards are another problem; the whole kitchen seems to have been fitted by a troupe of trained monkeys - the doors aren't made for the cupboards, and there are various oddities like the strange space above, which is only really big enough for the littluns fruit-snack-thingys. There's even one door which is completely different from all the others, and doesn't actually even cover the cupboard opening. Sigh. The plan for the cupboards is to either suck it up and tolerate it, or replace the doors - I'd love to rip the lot out and start again, but I think that'd be pushing it a bit!


The worktops and tiles are going to be the main changes - you can see from the photo above (which makes me cringe massively) that not only are the worktops a hideous colour, they're also really REALLY tatty and unfinished. The tiles aren't sealed around the bottom, so everything is going black where the sink is, so they're coming off as well - they're a grotty beige-orange colour, and make the already teeny room look even smaller, so we're going to replace them with plain white 15x15cm tiles which will hopefully make the whole place seem bigger and brighter. It sounds a massive job, but Ali's Dad has built their house (he's an architect) so he has plenty of tips and tools on hand, plus if we get really stuck, Homebase do a worktop fitting service for a pretty decent price.


There are also little gems like this (above) all over the place, which I think are just in need of filling and painting over.

I'm under no illusions that it's going to be Pinterest perfect once it's done, but to be honest, I'd just settle for clean and finished!

Obviously, one of the things I'm most excited about is organising the accessories and open shelves, so I spent (probably too long) making a little collage of bits and pieces I'd quite like to bring home with us. I've found as I've got older, I'm tending to prefer things a bit more calm and simple, and a bit less pattern-clashy - the kitchen is such a small room that too many colours and prints just make it seem claustraphobic, so we're going with simple white tiles, a wooden worktop and some nice rustic-style accessories. Oh, and plants. Always plants!



1. Light Oak Laminate Worktop at Homebase, £49.99 for a 3m length
2. Papiers Fantaisie Soap by Mistral, prices vary
3. Succulent, from a selection at IKEA, £3
4. Cup and Bowl at H&M, both £4.99
5. Bamboo Utensil Set by Habitat at Homebase, £6
6. Botanical Print at RHS Prints, from £20
7. Jute Rug at H&M, £14.99
8. Glass Vase at H&M, £5.99
9. White Wall Tiles at Homebase, £5.99 for a pack of 44
10. Enamel Stove Top Kettle by Homebase, £39.99

Written in collaboration with Homebase.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

may bank holiday

When a bank holiday starts with sunshine, a new magazine (thanks to Workshop Living for being so patient with my stupid bank card!) and some loose leaf Jing Tea, you know it's going to be a corker!

Cor, wasn't the weather over the bank holiday gorgeous? Most unusual for the UK - a bank holiday usually means wellies, umbrellas and huddling over mugs of tea in a cafe, but this time it was so beautiful that we really made the most of it and spent the whole time out and about.




Our local garden centre had acres of Foxgloves, all waving merrily in the breeze; we've been in this house for three years now, so I know the garden well enough to plant some perennials and these were top of the list. We're digging them up when we eventually leave though!


There was an antique market on at Goodwood, which I got pretty excited about; we've been to this one a few times before and there's usually loads of good bits and pieces - vintage crates and buckets, plenty of woven and wicker baskets, toys, games, linens.... too much! The drive through the estate is lovely too - the last time we went, it was carpeted with bluebells, but I think we must have missed them this year.



Daisy was pretty taken with this fellow, but we left him behind due to a lack of space (and funds!)







I was pretty taken with the car, but our two are a bit big for toys like this now. Waah!

After lunch we pottered off to Buriton, which is a lovely little village close to Petersfield, full of beautiful cottages, lovely long walks and a very nice pub. It took us quite a long time to get not very far, and there seemed to be lots of sticks involved - the kiddos saw a rambler walking with one, and immediately wanted their own. It soon descended into chaos, running around shouting, 'charrrrrge!' until we accidently lost the sticks in a patch of nettles. Whoops.










We might have left the car and the lovely donkey on wheels at the market, but I did manage to come home with a vintage bucket for the garden (for holding lavender or sweetpeas, not rainwater!), a basket for our pegs (which even came with some dolly pegs) and another vintage flower book for my little collection. I was supposed to be looking for things for the kiddos room, but never mind!




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