Autumnal Eton Mess

IMG_1539The sun is still shining as I write this, but there’s definitely a nip in the air in the morning and, even though summer has hardly been scorching, I love autumn and the change in season. Autumn seems to bring so many possibilities: new starts and new ideas, and the food for autumn and winter is just so comforting. With that in mind, as the brambles on country walks begin to ripen, how about trying this seasonal twist on a favourite summer dessert, using my very own recipe for Autumnal Eton Mess? Use scavenged brambles, or blackberries if you’d prefer.

Ingredients (per person)

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  • 2 plums
  • handful of brambles (thoroughly washed) or blackberries
  • 2 meringue nests (don’t bother making your own, it’s really not worth the hassle)
  • Greek yoghurt with honey
  • About 3-4 tablespoons of red wine
  • Teaspoon of dark brown soft sugar
  • Large pinch of mixed spice

1. Wash the fruit and put in a pan with the wine, sugar and spice.

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2. Cook on a low heat for about five minutes until the sugar has dissolved, the plums are just beginning to fall apart and the brambles are very soft.

3. Remove the fruit from the pan using a slotted spoon and leave to cool slightly.

4. Turn the heat up on the remaining liquid and allow to reduce by about half.

5. Meanwhile, break up the meringue nests. Turn off the heat on the reduced syrup.

6. Put some slightly cooled fruit in the bottom of a glass or your chosen serving vessel. Add some Greek yoghurt, then some meringue pieces. Repeat until the glass is full.

7. Pour syrup over the top and serve immediately.

 

I hope you enjoy this rich and spicy autumnal Eton mess. Let me know how you get on with it!

Out and About: Humpit, Leeds Corn Exchange

Is there anything better than finally going to that restaurant or café you’ve been meaning to go to for ages and, when you finally do, it’s exactly what you wanted it to be? Today, I had that pleasure; for today, I finally went to Humpit in the Leeds Corn Exchange.

I first came across Humpit when I went to my first Leeds vintage fair back in the depths of winter and I’ve been meaning to go ever since. As the weather was so nice earlier today, we had a little walk around the docks by the Royal Armouries where I practised some photography and then wandered back into town.

Humpit smells amazing, so you already know you’re onto a winner. The staff are really friendly and happy (even though they were in a kitchen and it was so hot today). At first, I thought the food was perhaps quite expensive at £3.90 for a pita with either falafel or hummus, or half and half, which is what I went for. I was so very wrong. When the smiling member of staff came out to our table to furnish us with our lunch, it was clear that it was incredibly well-priced and that we were not going to need a big dinner.

Hum Pit

Right, there were pickles, jalapenos, salad, salsa, dressing, falafel, hummus, pickled cabbage, red cabbage, grated carrot – the thing was massive, OK? A word of warning: do not go there in the early part of your relationship – I got a bit of hummus on my nose and grated carrot stuck to my cheek (the Mr was not similarly afflicted, so it’s possible this was just me). And all that for £3.90 is pretty good in my book. And more filling, tastier and community focused than spending a tiny bit less for a limp sandwich and some crisps in a supermarket meal deal.

The food was really quick to arrive – just a few minutes and they seemed quite busy – but they also allow you to ring ahead and place your order so you can just pop in and grab it on a lunch-break, something the Mr will be doing on our Treat Days (the day of the week we can’t be bothered to make packed lunch for work) and it’s just round the corner for me, so I can happily wait. They also deliver via Deliveroo.

All in all, lunch time well spent. Humpit are also on Facebook and Twitter.

And yes, I did it all mine. It was delicious and I only had to undo one button on my skirt. Win!

 

N.B. Humpit did not know I intended to write this review until after I’d finished. We paid for our meals and all the opinions above are my own.

Home Makeover: The Garden Fence

When I lived in Kent, I had a great garden with a lovely vegetable patch, albeit it did occasionally get a bit neglected and I’d grow a marrow instead of a courgette. When we bought our house here in Leeds, the grass was in terrible shape thanks to the digging efforts of the previous owner’s puppy and the soil is basically clay with bricks in. We have succeeded in regrowing the lawn; not that either of us knew what we doing – I’d just go round every couple of weeks with a mix of compost, sand and grass seed and lob it on the bald bits. Then chase the pigeons away out of the kitchen window. The flowerbed is still largely empty, save for two Minerette apple trees that are too shocked from near death from neglect (not my fault – if you’re paying a gardener, you expect your plants to be watered, right?) and moving house to bear any fruit this year and a small acer that, after replanting, fell over and nearly died (can you see a theme?). The aim is to get some hardy perennials in really soon, then I’ll be all ready for bulb planting and we’ll have a nice garden to look at all year round. Not very green fingers crossed.

 Before

Before I planted any new plants, I thought it best to paint the rather neglected garden fence. I did the shed last Wednesday when I had a day off, and that too was in a pretty bad way – most of the shed and fence was showing bare wood, and with winter approaching and no desire (or cash) to replace the garden fence, the Mr and I donned some old clothes and spent yesterday in the garden painting. We (I) started in fairly good spirits. It was fine until I got hungry then I basically became two years old. Thankfully, Rich just laughs at my “bitter little tirades” about my superior work ethic and skill (I had to redo most of his bits). Honestly, if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well (to which Rich quoted Catch-22 at me, further angering me because I really hated that book). Either way, we got it done. Here’s the ‘after’ shot. There was also both sides of the garden fence on the other side of the garden to do.

After

Here’s my enthusiastic helper.

Rich during

And here’s a picture of us when it was finished.

Us After

Me, gleeful; Rich, not enjoying being covered in paint and being slightly sunburnt, despite the sun barely being out for any more than thirty seconds. And it was freezing.

We used Ronseal Fence Life, currently £9 for 9L at B&Q in Dark Oak.

What I Wore…To Alistair’s Wedding

I spent a sunny weekend in Suffolk this week. Rich’s cousin Alistair was getting married and we were invited. Hoorah! And, not only was it a happy occasion but always a great excuse to muck around with my new camera. And here’s what I wore.

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Dress: Uttam Boutique at House of Fraser – £55 (I’ve just seen that it is reduced to £27.50. Yes, I’m annoyed, but you might get a bargain!)

Shoes: Steve Madden at House of Fraser – no longer available but I wore them at my wedding and was desperate to wear them again.

Here are some photos from the day:

And can we just all take a minute to appreciate the gorgeousness of this man, my Lovely Mister.

And a comedy shot – I’m in 5″ heels and still shorter than my in-laws.

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I hope you enjoyed seeing what I wore to this wedding – do you find it difficult to pitch your special occasion outfits or does it come easily to you?

Celebrating Yorkshire Day

ParkinI’m not from Yorkshire; I moved up here from Kent in November last year, fulfilling  long harboured dream to move to The North. I love it here, and although my accent is out of place and I’ve not been warm in months, I’m proud to call Yorkshire ‘home’. To celebrate my first Yorkshire Day, I made Parkin, kept a nervous eye on the weather whilst drying washing, did a couple of hours of embroidery while it rained and went on a bike ride down the canal. And then ate lots of Parkin.

I shall probably get shot for saying this, but Parkin is, in essence, gingerbread. It’s therefore incredibly tasty. I adapted a recipe I found in a book about Yorkshire, which I’ve listed below. Enjoy!

 

225g self raising flour

110g caster sugar

2tsp ground ginger

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 large egg

200ml milk

55g butter

110g golden syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 150*C and line a 8″ square tin

2. Melt the butter and golden syrup together over a low heat

3. Sift all the dry ingredients together

4. Beat the egg into the milk (in a jug)

5. Carefully pour the melted butter/syrup mixture into the dry ingredients. It will form a dough.

6. Slowly pour in the milk mixture. The mixture will return to liquid. When it’s thoroughly mixed, pour into the lined tin.

7. Bake for about an hour. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.

 

As with ginger cake, it tastes better when it’s been left for a couple of days but, to be honest, I’ve been scoffing it since yesterday and it tastes pretty good without maturing!

Parkin and tea

Tailored Exhibition – Leeds Museum

I love a good exhibition and Leeds is full of them at the moment. ‘Tailored’ is a free exhibition currently at Leeds Museum exploring the significance of tailored fashion. Smart, tailored clothes make my heart sing and my favourite events are those you get to dress up for so this exhibition was right up my street.

Vivienne Westwoord Winter Outfit J

When you walk in, the first thing you see is this amazing Vivienne Westwood ‘Winter Coat’. It’s an amazing burnt orange colour, which I’ve not managed to capture in my photographs (they looked amazing as RAW, then rubbish when I finally managed to convert to jpeg, and my editing skills failed to get them to their former glory. I need a course or something). Other pictures are below. The exhibition is on until the 3rd of January and there are loads of events linked to it including learning to weave and working with artists to make a collaborative artwork. More details are at www.leeds.gov.uk/tailored And there’s another exhibition over at Lotherton Hall until 31st December on 1950s glamour. See www.leeds.gov.uk/lothertonhall

Victorian Walking Dress
I made a walking dress from this period for A-Level textiles, complete with corset and bustle. This, rather better, walking dress, brought back memories of laying on the common room floor the morning it was due in hemming it on the sewing machine.
Victorian Riding Habit
This rather magnificent outfit is a Victorian Riding Habit. I used to ride, and I can’t imagine it being particularly easy in this!
Blazer 1890 - 1905
Again, the colours have not come out well with my poor photo editing ability, but this blazer is from 1890-1905 based on early 19th century rowing blazer. Apparently, this one would have been worn to cricket or similar. I love the colours!
Alexander McQueen Coat
It’s unlikely I’ll get to London to see the Alexander McQueen exhibition but I’ll take seeing this gorgeous coat. I love the mix of wool and leather with the rock star chain. Chic and stylish but with a bit of edge; just my style.
100 years of evening dress
I loved the difference between these two evening suits! The one on the left is from the late 1960s, the one on the left from a hundred years previously. The 1960s one is made of velvet and had amazing piping – I bet it was really dapper way back when. I’m not sure how it would go down now!

How To: Make a Wedding Bouquet Memory Frame

E&R248 (640x427)So, I had a wedding bouquet for my wedding. I complained endlessly about spending eighty quid (EIGHTY QUID!!!) on it when it was basically going to die in about three days. I was going to give it to my lovely Gran but she and my parents forgot to take it, so I spent hours the day after the wedding and the day before I left for honeymoon googling how to preserve a bouquet (FYI – you arrange it in advance and spend around £300. Yup. I know). I think I got more stressed about this than the wedding.

In the end I opted for stringing the bouquet upside down on the back of one of the dining room chairs, where it stayed for many weeks. Basically, this is how you dry them. It doesn’t take many weeks but I got really busy and didn’t get round to the next stage.

Tools (2)

All you need for this is your dried bouquet, a memory frame (I bought mine in Hobbycraft) and a pair of scissors.

Using the scissors, cut off some of the flower heads. Use some foliage as well to add colour and depth. I started with a feature of the…well you can see it in the picture. I don’t know what it is: little yellow flower things, that’ll do.

Full Frame

Continue to add dried blooms, being creative with angles and colour combinations and using the foliage to fill in smaller gaps until you can’t see any glass and the blooms are just above the back of the frame. Don’t overfill or you’ll crush the flowers.

Finished Frame

Replace the back and, hey presto, a pretty artwork made from your wedding bouquet. Obviously, most of it still ends up in the bin, but you get a cute momento too.

 

Out and About: Blogtacular 2015

Entrance
Picture courtesy of http://www.molliemakes.com/

Gosh, what a weekend it has been! I’m exhausted but so glad I took today off from my day-job as I knew I’d be super inspired from all the wonders that happened.

Basically, I went to London. I went primarily for Blogtacular, my first ever blogging conference but I took the opportunity to go and see the Imperial War Museum’s Fashion On The Ration exhibition as well. I’m so glad I took the time to go. I loved history of fashion when I was at school and read countless books on the subject since so seeing films of the “Make Do and Mend” campaigns and the wonderful, thrifty fashions was incredible. As a slightly emotional soul, I decided not to look round the rest of the museum as I would definitely cry (I came close a few times just looking at the exhibition!) so treated myself to lunch in the café. It was delicious, but did require a second mortgage to pay for it.

It was super muggy in London on Friday so I was in two minds about the Blogtacular meal at Cha Cha Moon’s but I’m glad I braved the central line. The food there was pretty damn good too. I had a vegetable stirfry and felt all healthy. I also found myself with the supercool Mollie Makes team. A lovely group of ladies who were so, so nice and welcoming. Obviously, I spent the entire meal trying not to look like a dick. I think I failed.

I heart blogging
Picture courtesy of http://www.molliemakes.com/

So…Saturday. Thank god, bloggers are such nice people. I arrived quite early, along with some others and you could feel the nervous energy and excitement as we stood waiting to be let in. We got chatting about Disney films and other subjects and bonded more over tea and pastries (hoorah!).

Notebooks
Definitely true! Picture courtesy of http://www.molliemakes.com/

I loved getting to know people whose blogs I love, like Sarah from Little Beee and Tessa from All Things Stationery. I also met the ever wonderful Claire from Claireabellemakes who has been wonderful in helping me set up my own online business. She has such boundless energy and great ideas so it was great to see her in all her crowning glory (no, really. She was wearing an awesome flower crown!).

Goody Bag
Picture courtesy of http://www.molliemakes.com/

I learnt so much over the course of the day, but I’m sad I missed so many sessions – I wanted to go to them all! Luckily for me, there’s a virtual conference coming up soon so I can catch all the sessions I missed. Hoorah! Here, courtesy of the wonderful MollieMakes, are some photographs of the day.

 

Meet the Maker: #NatStatWeek Day 5 – Sally Makes Art

Sally Makes Art is featured on Day 5 of my National Stationery Week feature. I’m a massive fan of simple but gorgeous cards and love the plain backgrounds and pops of wonderful colour on Sally’s work. Sally is an art graduate who hoards pretty paper. Luckily, she does not hoard what she makes because then the world would be without such wonderful cards as this “I Love You To Pieces” card
and these amazing envelopes. Can you imagine getting post in that?! A whole new meaning to Happy Mail.

Sally’s are blank for any occasion. There’s an “I Heart Westminster” card that I’ll be getting for a colleague who’s leaving our office to be London based for a while.

It’s gorgeous and features a cut out of a 1996 road map showing Westminster. I really like how the brown of the card brings out the yellows, greens and blues we all remember from those pre-SatNav days when you nervously read the map for your dad while he was driving you.Excitingly, Sally Makes Art is undergoing a massive re-stock so there will be more wonderful cards appearing online very soon. In the meantime, I’ve become uncommonly obsessed with pegs…and I am a bit blaming Sally. Look at these!

They’d definitely make dashing outside to get the washing in when it’s just started to rain much more festive.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my featured makers this week – there’ll be a post over the weekend on my favourite organising blogs and links so you can use your stationery ideas to organise your life!

#NatStatWeek Day 4 – Oh Squirrel

For Day 4 of National Stationery Week, I’m focussing on Katie from Oh Squirrel. Katie’s range of greetings cards, badges, pencils and gifts have a vintage feel with a modern twist. There’s also a card for every occasion, including one I should buy in bulk reading “Sorry for being a crap friend & forgetting your birthday”.

I love a mix of textures in basically anything, so these cards with photos stitched to the front is really appealing. Hopefully, I can get more organised and start sending the “Happy Birthday Bestie” card instead.

Getting organised obviously needs a new notebook (who else keeps theirs for best?!) and this “I Bloody Love A Good List” notebook could have been made for me.

And who remembers those pencils you used to get in your Christmas stocking with your name embossed in gold? Surely it was not just me. Katie has the answer for this nostalgia with some gorgeous pencils with more grown up writing on them. The “I Am Working Very Hard” pencil in this set would be very well used by me…

What I love most about Oh Squirrel is the mix of nostalgia with modern. The range of badges is completely beautiful – polka dots and zig zag lines and swirly script – and I’d want to wear one everyday. I’ll probably settle for just one on my birthday though, and this “Birthday Girl” badge is right up my street.

All pictures courtesy of the Oh Squirrel Etsy shop.

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