Winter Capsule Wardrobe

savingPNG.jpegIt’s time to swap over to my winter capsule wardrobe. The weather has now decided to play along too!

I am using some of Leanne’s  suggestions from the Essential Winter Capsule, but I am changing the accent colours to red and teal instead of burgundy and teal. The main reason for this is that I bought a gorgeous handmade hat from Meg at Textile Creations, whilst visiting the Knitting and Stitching show, in October and I have to wear it. I also have a beautiful classic camel coat I bought a few years ago and will be wearing that instead of the grey coat Leanne suggests. Some of the items like jeans and long sleeved t-shirts I already had but I splashed out on a new pair of red Mint Velvet jeans – reduced in John Lewis. That’s women’s logic – reduced so therefore must have !

I have bought a couple of new classic jumpers this year – a teal one and a cream one. The teal one is from Seasalt. I really like their stuff, its a bit pricey but they sell fabric too, so hopefully I might get a bargain later. The cream cable jumper is from H&M. H&M is not somewhere I normally shop but on this occasion, they had what I wanted. I am also going to make a red check shirt using ‘New Look’ pattern 6374, when the material arrives from China! I bought the stripey turtle neck top from Joules and the sleeveless fleece gilet, a bargain on eBay.

I have decided that I’m not buying anymore shoes or bags this season but using what I already have. I have the brown spacious leather tote I bought from TK Maxx in spring, this year and a small black leather cross over bag (a gift). My long black boots fit the bill as do the beige short boots I bought for the autumn.

So that’s me done till Spring!

How to make a gift of Florentines

It’s lovely to give or receive a home made gift. These little florentine biscuits wrapped in a cellophane bag and tied with a bow, make a perfect, quick to make present for a friend, neighbour or relative. They are a rich, delicious and perfect with a cup of coffee.

Ingredients

60g butter

50g caster sugar

2 tbls double cream

25 g dried cranberries

40 g flaked almonds

25 g mixed peel

25 g stem ginger – chopped

25g pine nuts

15g plain flour

100g plain chocolate

Making

Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease 2 baking trays or I use silicone sheets

Melt the butter and sugar in a small pan. Heat gently and bring  to boil. Off the heat, add the cream

Add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the chocolate

Spoon small teaspoons of the mixture onto the baking tray spaced out as they will spread

Cook for approx 8 mins – take out and using a 5 cm cutter make them into a circle

Put back into oven for 2-3 mins till dark golden

Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a few mins before gently lifting them onto the cooling tray

Melt the chocolate and coat the back of the florentines – drag a fork across the chocolate to create a wavy pattern

Share with people you like!

 

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Frustration

I know I am new to this but some things just don’t make sense. I can show and tell you things about my life okay, but trying to understand how to make the blog look its best is really challenging me.  I am laying awake in bed thinking about the layout and content for crying out loud! Its supposed to be enjoyable I keep telling myself. As ever, I want to run before I walk. Getting to grips with the terminology is testing me. I mean what the hell is a ‘slug’? I see lots of professional looking blogs out there and I want mine to look like theirs. Perhaps I should just settle for ‘rustic’ looking hahah

So I still don’t understand what the difference is between the menu content thats runs across the top of the page and the categories.  I prefer to work these things out for myself but I am defeated. I know it all takes time, but I want it right now!

So ignore this rant – I am categorising this blog it under ‘Health and Wellbeing’ as it is slowly driving me a bit mad.

 

 

Home cooked meals and food shopping

IMG_0857You know by now that I like to be organised. Some people might think I have a mild dose of a compulsive disorder, but I just like things neat and tidy. I know it must be annoying to  live with me but I make up for it by making lovely food 😀

Part  of my organised life means planning meals in advanced and shopping for these. I have a whiteboard in the kitchen and add any items I need to shop for as I run out of them. Next to the list is a rough list of what our main meals are going to be for a week so I also add items to the shopping list that I know I will need for the recipes/meals. Having these side by side lists helps me to make sure I only buy what I need. I said helps! It helps the budget too-hahah we don’t really have a real budget for food. Where I come from ‘food is love’ and so we tend to eat what we fancy or what is cheap or in season that week.

Having said that, I tend to be a bit ‘thrifty’, so my first shop of the week always starts at Lidl . It’s one of their small stores and I prefer that these days. They don’t sell everything I need or use, so I have to go to another supermarket to get the rest. It’s usually Asda. I don’t really like shopping there but the prices are right. I also buy some of the more hard to find ingredients,  in bulk, like linseeds, potato starch and gluten free oats from Wholefoods Online . 

I cook meals from scratch every day. As I don’t eat gluten, we hardly ever go out for meals now. It’s too much of a faff to ask about what’s in the food. I have guessed things would be ok on a couple of occasions and ended up with stomach ache, so now we don’t bother much. We find that we often are disappointed with the meals we get served in restaurants. As we are both good cooks, we think our food tastes better! Its curry Friday again and I’m off to cook. It’s chana masala/chick pea curry (26 Grains) today with dhal (Curry Easy) and rice.

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Nell’s Dressing Gown

i bought some soft fluffy material about a year ago at a sewing event in Leicester. I thought it would make a lovely dressing gown for my 8 year old grand daughter Nell. I just about managed with the amount I had. it was he end of a roll so that was it.

I haven’t used this type of material before so I wasn’t prepared for the amount of fluff that comes off as you sew.. I used a zig zag stitch throughout as the material was stretchy. That worked a treat. It hasn’t put me off using this type of material again.

I use a McCalls pattern M6225. I am very pleased with the finished article. The instructions were easy to follow. I hope it fits her. What do you think?

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My 10 favourite pieces of kitchen equipment

savingPNGAsk anyone who knows me where I spend the most amount of time. They will all tell you its the kitchen. Whether its cooking, making, cleaning or organising, that’s where you’ll find me a lot of the time. When it’s clean and tidy I am happy. When its messy and needs cleaning I am not happy. The other thing they will tell you is that I like to do everything quickly. I can’t help it – that’s just the way I’m made.

In order to help me cook and clean and organise I have some great pieces of equipment. I have pickled out my top 10 favourites. They have mostly made the list if they speed things up!

  1. The steam cleaner – I simply would not be without it. I use it for sterilising toilets and sinks, cleaning floor and wall tiles, cleaning carpets and cleaning the hob. I have a Karcher one which cost about £100 but it’s well worth the investment. I rarely buy chemical kitchen cleaning fluids.
  2. The Magimix – or food processor if you want. This is a recent newbie to my kitchen helpers. over the years I have made do with cheaper substitutions but now I have the best. When I invested in ti I told Mark I would use it everyday and I do. One of my favourite ways of using it is to make nut butters. Just roast almond or cashews nuts for 10 mins and out in the Magimix for about 10 miss with some salt for the best nut butters. Stuff it into medjool dates and devour frequently.bet you can’t eat just one!
  3. The Zester – I use this for grating citrus fruit, garlic, ginger, nutmeg and anything else that needs fine grating. Easy to handle but a bit fiddly to wash but goes in the dishwasher.
  4. The stick blender – although I have the Magimix, it’s a whole lot more washing up than this. So if I am in a bit of a hurry, it’s better to use the stick blender particularly for soups and hummus.
  5. The kitchen knives – I have a set and a few more, Robert Welch knives – they are simply the best, in my opinion.
  6. The warming drawer – I use this for raising and resting dough mixtures, warming serving dishes and plates and defrosting. It’s a great place to put food you want at room temperature but not on the worktop and great for when you are doing a big family roast and want to serve all the veg in separate warmed dishes.
  7. The dishwasher – who in their right mind would not have a dishwasher? I know you need the space to have one but I would forgo a cupboard for it. It keeps the kitchen free of dirty dishes – if you can train your other half to put them in their instead of on the side!
  8. The electric scales – as I mentioned I like to do things quickly and the electronic scales are a great help. Bowls can go on it and ingredients can be added one by one straight into the bowl. You can change from metric to imperial (there are some recipes that I still do in pounds and ounces as I can’t be bothered to convert them) and also measure fluids too, so more time saving!
  9. The electric spice grinder – I prefer to buy whole spices and grind them as I need them – for example cumin, cardamon, coriander and cinnamon. The spice grinder I use is actually a coffee grinder but it works a treat and grinds spices in seconds.
  10. The coffee machine – where would I be without my bean to cup coffee machine? A present from Mark for my 60th birthday – probably so he didn’t have to keep making me coffee in the cafetière – a messy business at any time!

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Paperwhite Narcissus in water

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At this time of year, there are not many flowers left in the garden to bring in the house,  so I like to plant these bulbs to provide us with some floral scent and cheerfulness during the dark and damp days. 

You need to make sure you buy the narcissus bulbs for in the house – the packaging will tell you this. I bought 12 bulbs for  £8 

Find a nice glass bowl  – I got mine from Home Sense a few years ago. I use it for displaying christmassy things like citrus fruits, snow scenes etc

Fill the bottom of the bowl – about half full – with clean gravel or pebbles, large or small

Lay the bulbs on the top in a circular pattern with the pointed part facing upwards.

Add enough water so that the bottom of the bulb is just above the water.The roots will draw the water up they need. 

Put the bowl it into a cool room. Add water when the levels go down 

Stand back and admire your work and wait for a gorgeous fragrant display – it will take about 4-6 weeks for the flowers to open, depending on the warmth and light of the room. 

How to get a gluten free crunch

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One of the things I miss most about not eating gluten products is the crunch you get from eating a lovely crusty loaf of bread. A lot of baked gluten free recipes taste nice but are missing a crunch. I have found that lining a loaf tin with linseeds or sesame seeds before baking gives you a crunchy crust even if the bread is a bit cakey.

But I also have found a recipe from the 26 Grains  (written by Alex Hely-Hutchinson) book which helps with the fix. The recipe is for Caraway, Oat and Seed Crispbreads. They are full of nutricous  goodies and are very easy to make.

Ingredients

270g gluten free rolled oats

315g mixed seeds – sunflower, linseed, sesame, pumpkin etc

2 tablespoons of caraway seeds

2 tablespoons of chia seeds

1 teaspoon garlic salt or flakes

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons of coconut oil – melted

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

Method 

Preheat  oven to 180 degrees

Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper or a silicone sheet

Blitz 120g of the rolled oats to a coarse flour.

Add the oat flour to the rest of the dry ingredients

Mix together the wet ingredients in a jug with 375 mls of water

Divide the mixture in 2 and spread over the baking paper or silicone sheets.

Flatten it out as much as you can by putting a piece of baking paper over the top and rolling or pressing it with your hands

Bake for 15-20 mins until the edges start to brown

Remove from the oven and turn it over – it will fall to pieces but thats ok

Cook for another 15 mins until it’s dried out.

Leave to cool and break into pieces and keep in an airtight container.

Making clothes

I love making clothes. I learnt how to do this at school and by watching my Mum. I used to make lots of clothes for my children when they (and I) were younger. Back then, in the 70’s, I had a basic sewing machine, but it did the job. Once my children grew up and life changed, I didn’t have the time or the inclination to sew. anymore. It was one of those things I knew I wanted to pick up again when I had the time. The time came when I retired. I bought a cheap machine to get me back up to speed, which was a bit of a false economy as the quality was poor and I got quite frustrated as I couldn’t get the tension right.  I decided that I would splash out on a better one. After a bit of research and a conversation with an expert in John Lewis, I decided on a Janome DC3050 sewing machine.

 

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Since I bought my new machine I have made several blouses, a Japanese style apron, and  a jump-suit for my grand daughter. The more I do, the better my completed garments look.  I am quite proud of my achievements and only I know where the mistakes are!

Here are a few pics of some of my recently completed items.

 

 

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