Can I help you find something??

31 May 2013

Photo Phriday #8

post signature

I am 9 again... I have a penpal....

But, not a daggy penpal, and nobody in jail either, but a FOODIE PENPAL! The BEST kind right?!

I stumbled upon the Foodie Penpal scheme last month and signed up immediately when I found out what was involved. Each month you are assigned and are the recipient of a foodie penpal, in which you to put together a parcel of food related items to inspire them in the coming month. You send your parcel by the 20th of each month and then on the last day of the month, blog about what you received and if you've had time, how you have used the items.

It is like getting a birthday present that you can eat, each month. Who wouldn't love that!

The European set-up is organised through Rock Salt, follow the link to find out more and to sign up. The set-up in the USA is through The Lean Green Bean.

This was my first month and I was so excited putting together a parcel for Miriam. I hope she liked what I put together for her. There was some special chocolate, some Hampstead Tea company tea (hibiscus flower which can also be used in cocktails), dried chillies and tulip muffin papers. Miriam is a freelance food writer who creates some pretty awesome recipes on her blog, be sure to check it out!

And the poor unsuspecting foodie who had me this month was Rachel. I say poor and unsuspecting, because as part of the exchange you need to let your penpal know if you have any food restrictions...yikes! I almost thought about pulling out of the exchange straight away as I thought of how much of pest I must be to buy for, but am SO glad I didn't!! Rachel did an awesome job!! She was so thoughtful, and talked to her gluten-intolerant housemate to get ideas about what to get me.  She is a new product developer for a pie company (what a cool job right?) and has a really fun foodie blog that she keeps up with in her spare time.

Onto the goodies!

1. Cotswold Co Butter Fudge. I put this first on the list because it is almost gone. Yep, got it today, had a piece after lunch, and then another, and well, I'll stop (the commentary) there. It is delicious. It is crumbly and rich and just delicious.

2. Smoked sea salt. I didn't even know that such a thing existed to be honest, but am really excited to use it. I think it would go beautifully in the Salted Caramel Popcorn I made a while back, but I also love the sound of toasted oak ice cream with smoked sea salt & lapsang souchong caramel swirl, which has nothing at all to do with my current dairy reduced diet I'm sure....

3. Schezwan pepper. I love Rachel's suggestions of using this pepper in baking too, as I really have never added pepper to sweet treats before. But, my mind is wandering and I'm pretty excited by the ideas!

4. Nakd bars. If you are gluten-intolerant I am sure you've tried one of these magnificient snacks before. They are genius food. I have only tried the date one so far (keep getting the same one over and over), but they are gluten, dairy and wheat free but in no way are they taste free. How they manage to create something delicious out of so few ingredients is both baffling and inspirational to me. I keep a list of the ingredients of each one, planning to try and re-create them one day! Rachel got me the Rhubarb & Custard (ummm yum) and the Cashew Cookie bars, and I'm tucking them into my nappy bag, ready for them to save the day when next I'm out and about and starving!!

5. Finally there are these adorable animal print cupcake wrappers which are so much fun! My mother is visiting us in a weeks' time and she is somewhat obsessed with leopard print, so this couldn't have come at a better time for me to make a little "welcome" treat for her! I love the zebra ones and kind of wish I was doing a safari theme for Baby M's birthday party next month, but am sure we'll find lots of other excuses to put these to use.

Thank you so much Rachel. The thoughtfulness and practicalness of this parcel really went above and beyond what I was hoping for and was so kind of her. Mr M came home just now and went through the parcel and said..."fudge....this person clearly loves you". Hehe. 

I can't wait for next month already! It is such a fun set up to be part of!!

post signature

30 May 2013

berry, almond & baileys sorbet

And so the journey of elimination continues.

I've read a lot about people who start off simply with a gluten intolerance, but who quickly find out they they also have some intolerance to dairy. I will be shattered if this proves true for me, as goodness me I love dairy, but for now, I am reducing my dairy intake to see if has any impact.

Every single day I crave a large glass of milk. At around 3 in the afternoon I have to try aversion tactics to get myself to not down a litre of milk straight up!! And then again after dinner, all I want is a big bowl of icecream. It can be plain or with fruit (read: caramel topping) but it is what I yearn for every single night. The only dairy I don't eat is yoghurt, and a few types of cheese that gives me migraines. So if I find out that I am dairy intolerant, I will cry. Big crocodile tears.

But, while I try out a month of reduced dairy, I thought I should embrace it as much as I could. So, I decided the best way to embrace a post-dinner-icecream-free-existence was to discover the joys of sorbet. I found a heap of recipes that looked appealing, but all of them had instructions stating "Pour into your icecream maker and use as per manufacturer's instructions", which is a problem, as I do not have an icecream maker (I know, gasp).

And so I winged it. And it was actually really good. It wasn't completely normal sorbet in that I added some dairy-like ingredients (the almond milk and baileys), but it was heavily fruity and icy, and totally delicious.

I've made two different flavours of sorbet already this week, both delicious, but I think the mango one contributed to the shocking migraine I had last night, so I won't be repeating that batch. Although it was seriously good too, so if you have no aversions to coconut, make sure you try it out!

Berry, Almond and Baileys Sorbet ingredients
3 cups of mixed berries (I had frozen ones on hand, so just used them after they had partially thawed)
1 cup water
3/4 cup of raw (demerra) sugar
1 cup almond milk
2 T baileys


1. Bring the water and sugar to the boil in a saucepan, and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally to ensure the sugar dissolves. Leave to cool.

2. Blend your berries (or fruit of any choosing) until they are quite liquidy

3. Add the almond milk and baileys to the fruit and blend again until well combined. The baileys (or any alcohol) that you add lowers the freezing point of the sorbet, which means it can be in the freezer for longer without turning to a big pile of rock hard ice. The almond milk also helps keep the sorbet a little creamier, which appeals to my faux icecream desires!

4. When the sugar syrup is cool, add to the fruit mix and blend again.

5. Pour into a dish and place in the freezer.

6. Every hour or so stir the sorbet as it begins to freeze. Pull the frozen edges towards the centre and repeat several times (which makes it not the best dessert to make if you have to be out of the house all day!).

7. When its quite solid, place it back in the food processor and blend again until smooth. This step really makes a difference and makes the sorbet far creamier and less icy.

8. Re-freeze until you need it, but it is best on the night you've made it, so be sure to tuck in straight away!!!

This batch was quite icy compared to the mango one I made the other night, but it didn't effect the flavour at all.  I would think that if you used fresh berries it would reduce this issue a little, but, having never ordered a sorbet in my life, I don't really have anything to compare it to! It was yummy and sweet and the perfect post-dinner treat. Well, perfect might be a stretch, but it was a darn good gluten & dairy free treat anyway!!

post signature

29 May 2013

master-bedroom mini makeover

Do you love your bedroom? I love Baby M's bedroom but it dawned on me a month or so ago that I really didn't like ours. It was gloomy, dowdy and made terrible use of space. We have a very small flat for the three of us, so my dreams of having a clean and spacious bedroom are restricted to the boards of Pinterest for now!

I didn't want to spend a lot on this little makeover, but did want to put some love and attention into our room, and try and de-clutter it just a little. We have so much stuff that is just everywhere in our house, so I was never going to achieve minimalistic elegance, but I am happy with how it turned out all the same.

So, the before shots.... yep, didn't even bother tidying up for photos!!

Okay so the first thing I did was to re-do the wedding paintings. We have our professional photos in cheapo frames because we've not yet been in a position to invest in proper framing, and as we're still moving around a bit, we just wanted to have the photos with us, so are putting up with cheap frames for now. But, they don't have to look quite so dowdy, surely! I searched and searched for some affordable white frames big enough to fit the photos, but was not willing to commit so much money simply on frames, so painted the ones I had.



A few coats of white paint later, how much better do they look?? (Is it completely mad that I feel like I am standing up straighter in the second picture??).

The next little project was the bookcase. I bought a cheap one from Argos in the same colour wood as the rest of our furniture, and ordered some fun striped wallpaper to line the back of the bookcase with. I'd seen this done beautifully on Pinterest (where else) and so thought I'd have a go. It was easy to do whilst constructing the bookcase because I could just glue it on in one big clean piece. 

I really feel it lightens the whole bookcase, don't you?? I also covered some boxes that were to go on the bookcase, to try and keep the clean lines as much as I possibly could! I think it helped too!!

So then I painted the mirror a pale gold to match in with the grey and yellow colour scheme. All the wood in our room is a dark chocolate, so the caramel mirror had to go!! 

What else... oh yes, the photos! I wanted some more photos of us with Baby M around our room, but again, didn't want to spend a fortune, so had some enlargements printed on Snapfish, and painted some blank canvas's grey, and tadaaa...

I hated, HATED the bed lights we had clipped onto our old headboard, and so searched high and low for a suitable replacement. I found this gold lamp and just loved it. 

The final item that I purchased was a new bed! It was SUPER cheap, and I sold our old one on ebay, so I only ended up being a little bit out of pocket, but boy does it make a huge difference. We put up with the old one for so long even though it was too big for the mattress and because of the slant of the headboard and size of the bay window, it was terribly space INefficient. We've noticed so much more space at the end of the bed now, and Mr M can actually walk down his side of the bed without kicking his shins. Happy hubs!

And so the finished product is this:

So as you can see, its still quite busy, but its not a complete disaster anymore!! The guitar needs a new home, but for now, on this chair is far enough out of the clutches of bubs, so will be fine. I'd love to hang it on the wall, but that's a project for another day! 

Our room feels lighter, fresher and more organised. I love the grey with the yellow/gold accents. I actually enjoy reading a book in there now, so whenever I put Baby M down for a nap, I rush in there and curl up under the throw and try and get a few pages into a book (aka Pinterest on the iPad). 

So there you have it, that is my makeover of our bedroom! Its been a work in progress over the past month or so, but I'm really happy with how it feels now. It finally feels like a nice space to be in!!

post signature

28 May 2013

Chicken and apple balls

Sounds interesting doesn't it!

The thing is, I got this recipe out of a baby book!! The Annabel Karmel's New Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner, has loads of meal ideas and guides on what your baby can eat at each stage of their development. After getting bored of serving Baby M the same 3 variations of meals for weeks on end, I usually consult this book for a new idea to throw in the mix. Today's was a winner. For me anyway...

It usually takes a few tries for Baby M to get used to a new texture/flavour, but while she takes her sweet time doing that, I couldn't have these go to waste (or go cold...). 

These tasty little balls are sweet from the apple, fresh from the parsley and filling and hearty thanks to the chicken and breadcrumbs. You could adapt it in so many ways too, and it really took a total of ten minutes from concept to plate, and that is so often a winner even if it tastes a little so-so. 

1 onion, finely chopped
1 apple, peeled and grated (or cut into chunks for the food processor)
2 large chicken breasts
1/2 T fresh parsley
2oz/50g fresh breadcrumbs (I used GF bread)
Plain flour for coating (again, I used GF)


1. Saute half of the finely chopped onion for 3 minutes until cooked but not brown. 

2. Put into the food processor the chicken, apple, onion (both the cooked and uncooked halves), parsley and breadcrumbs and pulse until the chicken is minced and all well combined. 

3. Roll into small balls and coat in the flour. 

4. Shallow fry until lightly golden and cooked through, which takes about 5 minutes. 

Delicious! Definitely not just a snack for the little ones!!

post signature

24 May 2013

Etsy update: New product

I look around me and see glitter. Everywhere! I've been obsessed with gold glitter ever since I did my sister-in-laws surprise baby sprinkle a few months ago, and so it should come as no surprise to see a new product in my Etsy Store....

Gold Glitter Headbands with Felt and Glitter Flowers

There are four sparkly colours to choose from, each of which looks adorable... The hot pink modeled by Baby M...

Don't forget the discount for blog readers, enter BLOGLOVE at the register for 20% off!!

Wishing you all a wonderful long weekend (for us lucky ones in the UK and USA).

post signature

Photo Phriday #7

post signature

23 May 2013

Baby Shoes Hanger

Baby shoes are the cutest. Seriously, how cute are these shoes? 

Picked these ones up at Oxfam for 4 quid!! (Yes, fairly sure they are boys!!)

But there's no confusing that these belong to a little girl! I absolutely adore them and wish the sun would shine so she can wear them! They are a new Spanish brand La Coqueta that has just moved in down the road from us and I am pretty sure the staff are going to know Baby M and I very well in no time at all!! 

Isn't there something magical that happens when shoes are shrunk down to baby sizes!!!! It is the result of this line of thinking that means we have a decent collection of tiny shoes around our house, and that is quite literally where they all are...all around our house! It drives me crazy but Baby M loves to play with shoes of all sizes and whilst its easier to find and return our big shoes, her little ones get relocated and lost for days under couches, in the dirty clothes basket or inside other shoes.

Well, having made, used and loved Baby M's book-hanger for the past 12 months, I decided that a smaller version of this would be perfect to store tiny shoes out of the clutches of tiny hands. 

You will need:
Backing fabric- 2 pieces of 90cm x 45cm
Pocket fabric - 8 strips of 25cm x 65cm
Ribbon ties - 1.20m ribbon of your choice
Coathanger and hook to hang

Here's my e-scetch of how to cut you fabrics and position them:


1. Cut all of your fabric first (I always find measuring and cutting the worst part of any sewing project so like to get it over and done with first). 

2. Pin your pocket pieces together with the right sides facing in, so that you've made 4 strips. 

3. Sew these together and turn inside out and press. You will need to leave a short end open to turn it inside out, and then fold these edges inwards and sew close to the seams. 

4. Do the same for your backing piece, however, you need to sew the ribbons in. I think every single person has at least once in their lives sewn the ribbons the wrong way when doing this, so take an extra moment to pretend turning it inside out and seeing which way your ribbons are going to face. I folded the back piece in half across the top to get the centre point for the middle ribbon, and then estimated either side where the other two should go, based on the coathanger I was going to use. 

You can see all the ribbon rolled up in the inside of these pieces, so that when its turned inside out, they will then be on the outside!

5. When all pieces are sewn you can now start placing them together. 

As my very technical e-scetch shows, the first step is to sew the sides and middle seam of the pockets. 

6. Once this is done, you are to make the pleats on the ends and middle of each pocket, to make a pocket that will fold out a little when shoes are put inside. Otherwise they wouldn't fit much in them. The green lines are supposed to show the pleats!!

7. Sew along the blue dashed lines to secure the pleats in place. Repeat with all four pocket-rows (8 pockets). 

8. Iron the whole thing and attach to a coathanger with the ribbons. 

And then fill with as many adorable pairs of shoes that you can find! Oh wait, here's some....

I was originally going to hang this on the inside of Baby M's wardrobe, but I kind of like it too much and think I want to leave it on the outside for now! Until she grows tall enough to reach the shoes in the bottom pockets, then it will be put away!!!