Sunday 28 February 2010

Take one, make one...

This has rapidly become one of our favourite treats of late. If we want to take a plate of something sweet somewhere this delicious, fail safe, Nigella Rocky Road recipe is what we go for everytime.

The list of ingredients is manageable. Most of which we normally have in. No cooking is required, just a couple of hours refrigerating time.

And a little piece goes a long way. So if you are making for lots of people, don't worry about it not going far enough as you can cut it into little bite size squares and still feel more than satisfied. It goes without saying that you'll be more than happy to have more than one piece, should you need to help clear the plate!

This little lot when down rather enthusiastically at my sister's party last night.
And here's the recipe below if you want to make your own little plateful to take to family or friends.

125g soft unsalted butter
300g best quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
3tbs golden syrup
200g rich tea biscuits
100g mini marshmallows
2tsp icing sugar to dust

1. Heat butter, chocolate and syrup in a heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat. Remove from heat, scoop about 125ml of the melted mixture and set aside in a bowl.

2. Place the biscuits into a plastic freezer bag and crush them with a rolling pin until some have turned to crumbs but there are still pieces of biscuit remaining.

3. Fold biscuit pieces and crumbs into the melted chocolate in the saucepan, then add the marshmallows.

4. Tip mixture into a 24cm square baking tin and smooth the top with a wet spatula.

5. Pour over the reserved chocolate mixture and smooth the top with a wet spatula.

6. Refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight.

7. To serve, cut into bite size pieces and dust with icing sugar.

Enjoy xx

Friday 26 February 2010

We have made some progress in the house this week. Just about all the previous horrific coloured woodwork has been obliterated. This is no mean feat I can tell you. No more lilac in the bedroom. No more shades of green in the hallway. It's all gone!

I've needed to see some physical progress this week. Juggling work, builders, half term last week really took it's toll, so I am cheered up no end to have a glimpse of the vision we are looking to achieve.

And all the beautiful wallpaper has arrived too. That was quite a strenuous decision making process that has been going on for about 3 months. I don't know about you, but we've only ever decorated one room at a time before, so to split your energies into getting 3 rooms and the hall, stairs and landing as you want wasn't straight forward. Especially when the man of the house refuses to have anything floral.

We got there in the end though and we are both over the moon with what we have chosen and can't wait to have it up on the walls. Honestly, I feel like a kid whose birthdays have all come at once! I've been promised that the paper is going up in our room on Monday. Quite frankly the look I gave John, the decorator, really should have made him drop everything and put it up there and then. I'm not impressed.

I'm not sure if it does it justice just yet, but here's a little peak of the beautiful grey...and the oh so gorgeous white woodwork...

Have a lovely weekend and check back Monday to see those walls ;-)

Amendment: The aforementioned husband has taken umbridge with the accusation of not wanting anything floral. He would like it made perfectly clear that this was with reference to our bedroom only and with regards flowers. He doesn't mind anything that is an artistic interpretation of flowers, as in the ones we have chosen, but not flowers themselves.

Oh, and I need to mention how lucky I am to have a husband who has agreed to have the wallpapers we have chosen.

(This will teach me to leave my blog open where he can read it!)

Thursday 25 February 2010

As you have probably noticed I have enjoyed making this throw more than anything else that I have ever made. From the picking of the fabrics, to the quilting at the end and all the patchworking and embroidery imbetween.

Not one tiny bit was a chore. Maybe it was something to do with using my favourite fabrics. Maybe it was something to do with being a first, so no repeated processes again and again. Maybe it was the joy of doing something for us that will hopefully be treasured for years.

Maybe it is the beautiful feel of the cotton batting that I used (a big thank you to Manda and Kristy for guiding me to Doughty's). Honestly, words can not describe the feel of this quilt with this batting.

I'm so glad that I used up my precious Orla for the backing and thank you for all of you for advising me to do so. I had actually bought the fabric for a project for this room in mind, so I'm not sure why I dithered about it. I know it's on the back, which may seem a waste. But it makes it reversible doesn't it? You can probably tell I didn't quite have enough. Or maybe the linen trim at the top was always meant to be. I leave it to you to decide ;-)

I now fully understand why so many of you make quilts. And make some more. And some more after. I used to wonder how you can keep making them. And making them. But having had such a wonderful time making this I too am hooked and can't wait to cut up the fabric for the next one. Ruby has put her order in...I think there may be a bit of pink in that one...

Monday 22 February 2010

Having said I was going to lay the quilt pieces down a while, we knew that wasn't going to last long. Not when it was the weekend and I had time to play. And sometimes you just have to let intuition take over. Heh, Kylie?!

I have to say I am very excited by this quilt. I just love the colour combination and love how the linen is working with it too.

I did however feel it needed 'lifting' with some embroidery on the linen. Sunday evening watching BAFTAs was perfect time to sit and hand sew with a big throw on my lap.

I'm still a little undecided about the backing fabric, but I am rather drawn to the Orla that I recently purchased. Not that I'm obsessed with Orla at the mo or anything. It's just that it will bring the whole scheme together...don't you think?

Saturday 20 February 2010

If one thing all this building work is allowing me, it's an excuse to make some accessories to go with all the rooms. We've lived with the revolting inherited decor for so long now, I'm just gagging to get going on making things. I'd avoided making much to fit in with the existing schemes. They obviously weren't staying, so it seemed a waste of time and fabric to make things to go with them.

Now it's all systems go! As you know I've been collecting fabrics for a while to use for these projects and last night I started playing with some of them, thinking of them for a throw for the living room. I am a little bit nervous, it is safe to say, that what is in my head may not quite come out right in a throw. I am fairly confident that the fabrics work well together. And I am even more confident that I like them. But will it have that snuggly wow factor that I want to achieve?

It does feel rather daunting to use such precious fabrics, only to muck it up. So having done a few strips last night, I think I'm going to take a back seat for a while. It's laying on my studio floor at the moment. I think I'll leave it there a while, walk past it every now and then, move it around a bit and take my time. The living room walls are still bare plaster, so there's really no rush.

Friday 19 February 2010

Today was supposed to be a productive day. Today was supposed to be a great day. Instead I've been a bit miserable today. And apologies to those of you on Twitter who have born the brunt of it. And thank you for your attempts to keep me upbeat.

The cause of my misery is this...

...and this...

It's fair to say it's been a challenging Half Term. We are 3 weeks in with the building repairs and typically the worst week coincided with Half Term. I've been a little bit stressed. I was however so looking forward to today. Matthew had planned to take today off to give me a much needed work day. The builders had also planned to rub sand down the entire stairwell of the house. This entailed covering the entire place with a layer of dust that you have never seen. it also entailed ladders everywhere and making going from A to B in the house virtually impossible.

Consequently I have got absolutely nothing done and sat amongst a Sahara equivalent of dust in the process.

However all was not completely lost. I decided that I wasn't fit for anything constructive and the only thing taht was going to cheer me up and take my mind off it all was to lock myself in the attic studio, turn the music up loud and play with my new Orla fabric.

So all has not been completely lost.

Not so much a TGIF...TGFO...thank goodness for Orla ;-)

Monday 15 February 2010

It's official. My little boy is all grown up. I am now no longer allowed to go and buy his clothes without him. I am now no longer allowed to choose and expect him to wear whatever I like . I am now no longer to expect him having a passive role in the process.

I used to love flicking through the Mini Boden catalogue and ear mark the corners. I used to like going to peruse the shelves at Gap. Neither of these are acceptable any longer.

The boy now how has opinions. How can that be? I've been used to my daughter having opinions since long before she could even talk. As for Noah, he had strong opinions about what colour his hoodie had to be at a very early age.

But Sam? My laid back, as long as it's within reach, child?

Apparently he has opinions too.

We've just come back from a shopping trip, while the little 2 are still at school. This boy knows what he wants and I'm proud to say he makes it look good too. When my babes were little I used to want time to stand still. I loved pulling them all up close and couldn't bear the thought of these days going. I wasn't sure I'd know what to do with them as they got older, became young adults. Having spent the day with just Sam, I can't wait. We have had such a blast. Just the 2 of us. Chatting, joking, being pals. And a great shopping loving pal he is turning out to be!

Sunday 14 February 2010

I hope it's been a lovely Valentine's Day for you. Right here we've been clearing out the love nest. That's the next room to be hit by the builders tomorrow.

Actually it's been a bit of a blessing. I'd been meaning to clear out my wardrobe for ages and I managed to get rid of 3 bin bag worth of old clothes. The wardrobe is looking a little empty now, so I shall have to rectify that very soon ;-)

We' don't really do Valentine's Day in our house. 'We' don't really believe in it. I think you know who 'we' might be...

As a consequence I normally buy Matthew a present that we'll both like (it's normally the only one I get.)

I've been wanting one of Dee's prints for ever. So to coincide with all the refurb we are doing, it seemed a good time to purchase.

Fortunately Matthew loves it as mush as I do and is very keen to get the others I have my eye on too.

Hope you got what you wanted this Valentine's Day xx

Tuesday 9 February 2010

It's fair to say I'm not a happy bunny today. I'm getting a bit unsettled by the builders constantly being around. I am used to having the house to myself during the day and am not getting that at all. They are very nice. Perhaps a bit too nice and friendly. Always wanting to stop for a chat. Ask what I'm up to. "Trying to work, you *******"!

I then had a run in with the mother of one of Noah's classmates. Noah had done something he really shouldn't have to a boy who had been goading him. I immediately made him write to apologise and offer to pay for the damages. Strangely the boy never gave the letter to his parents...oh, could that be because he'd have to explain what he'd done to Noah? Suffice it to say our contretemps didn't go too well and I was left fuming.

Fortunately that was the point at which the doorbell rang and my weekend's indulgent purchasing arrived. This oh so beautiful little pile of Orla delightfulness obviously doesn't make up for such stresses we have to deal with, but it sure as hell helps.

Sunday 7 February 2010

Lucky lucky me! It was a question of being in the right place at the right time. I've just come back from dropping Noah at footy and having a quick warm cuppa before standing on the cold wet sidelines when I saw Aunty Cookie's tweet re her sale. Normally I miss these heads up, but not this time.

I am now the proud owner of these 2 amazing fabrics. I've used the yellow one before, so am over the moon to have some more of this in my collection. And the grey/blue one is going to be a perfect addition to my new scheme.

Can not wait for them to arrive! Thanks, for the alert, Shannon! And if you want to see if there's any left for you...head straight over to the amazing Aunty Cookie store right now...

Tuesday 2 February 2010

At last it's started. Finally the builders are in and the day I was both dreading and relishing has arrived. You know when you anticipate how bad really can it be? And it takes less than 10 seconds for the first rubble of plaster to be removed and instantly the house is filled with dust? It's a bit like having your second child. All thoughts of how awful it was the first time have instantly disappeared and whilst you know it was the worst experience of your life, you can't quite feel the pain anymore so you forget...just a little bit. Ok, I'm not comparing having builders in to childbirth! It's the sentiment!

We have been monitored for nearly 3 years for suspected subsidence and finally it was agreed it was and the go ahead was given. Fortunately it is all covered by insurance and so it's a matter of grinning and bearing it and focussing on the end result (Orla, Orla, Orla)

As many of you know I've hated the decor in the house we moved in to more than 5 years ago and so this is quite a blessing to have it redecorated from top to bottom and a few rooms imbetween. So what's a few weeks of (major) inconvenience if we get a little help in getting the house how we want it. I have big plans for this hallway. It is so grand and beautiful, but is desperately crying out for a bit of 'Wow' factor. I am slightly nervous about getting it right though. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and we need to choose carefully. Because I got my way with the Orla paper in the living room, I've had to give Matthew final say out here. Or at least let him think he's getting final say...

As you can tell we have a long way to go and there may be a lot of tears, a fair amount of moaning, but hopefully it will all go as smoothly as possible and before we know it will all be a distant memory...