Saturday, 28 August 2010

Stitching Success

My old makeup bag had a hole in it. Ok, so it was more like a whole side-seam which had come undone, so it was rendered useless. So I decided to make a new one. I've never made a lined purse before so this was a foray into the unknown, but I'm really pleased with the results.
The fabric is from one of my favourite designers, Tanya Whelan, and can be found here. I absolutely love the Dolce range
I even learnt how to line it! The zip is slightly bunched up at the end, but it works and is pretty, which is what's important. I'm going to practice making these some more.

I had a look at a number of online tutorials to make these, but the two which stood out were here and here.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Recipe: Brownie Heaven

I could quite possibly be in heaven. These are, quite frankly, the best brownies ever! I've been having a bit of fun baking lately and have ended up making no less than four batches of these. I sent my husband off to work with a batch and have been asked to make more already! Someone even suggested I go into business! Now, I'm not sure about going into business off the back of one winning recipe, but I can definitely tell you, that these will have you coming back for more.

This isn't my own recipe, I did find it somewhere on the internet, however I can't remember where so apologies for the lack of linkage. But I'll share it with you, just because something so good shouldn't be kept to oneself.

185g unsalted butter
185g best dark chocolate
85g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
50g white chocolate
50g milk chocolate
3 large eggs
275g golden caster sugar

1. Cut the butter into small pieces and tip into a bowl. Break the dark chocolate up and add to this. Fill a small saucepan with water and put on a low heat, placing the bowl on top so it's not touching the water. Stir occasionally to mix the butter and chocolate together as it melts. Remove the bowl and leave the melted chocolate to cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4. Line a 20cm square tin with baking paper.

3. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into a medium sized bowl. Chop the white and milk chocolate up into small chunks and put aside.

4. Break the eggs into a large bowl and tip in the sugar. Using an electric mixer, whisk together until it is thick and creamy and leaves impressions on the surface when you dribble some across it. (This can take a few minutes).

5. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse and gently fold together with a spatula. Do this until the mixtures are one and it's a dark, mottled brown.

6. Hold the sieve over the large bowl and resift the cocoa and flour over the eggy mixture. Gently fold this in. It will end up looking nice and fudgy :0) Finally, stir in the chocolate chunks.

7. Pour the mixture into the tin and put in the oven for 25minutes. When it's done, take it out and jiggle the pan slightly. If the brownies jiggle too, it needs another few minutes. One of my batches I didn't quite cook for long enough and it didn't bind together properly. Still tastes lovely, but falls apart when you try to cut it into squares!

8. Leave to cool before cutting into squares.

These are best eaten warmed up for 20secs in the microwave, and if you're feeling indulgent, a scoop of vanilla ice cream to boot! Enjoy!

Seasonal Musings

August has been a funny old month, one that has stretched out into a vast expanse of nothingness, one that has resulted in a general feeling of nothing having been achieved, and yet various things having been lost in the process. It's been a bit quiet on this blog as a result.

There are seasons in life that we travel through aimlessly, hoping to merely survive rather than actually grow or become anything greater than what we already are. Not much desire to improve or progress, but just to get there, to the end of the season and into the new one, which promises much more positivity and a sense of hope.

In fact, 2010 has consisted muchly of this type of season for me but I'm starting to see that there might be an end to it, and maybe, just maybe, Spetember will be something of a more hopeful month.

I've always loved September for its sense of new beginnings. It's like an extra New Year celebration, probably due to our school calendar ingraining this into us since childhood. I always make new year resolutions in September. Just little resolves of things I might do or achieve. In fact, this 'Winter Term' is normally my most productive season of the year because I have a little panic over what I will write in my annual newsletter come Christmas, and so feel I must achieve something of interest so I might appear to lead a life that people might want to read about.

 I guess when you have kids you write about all their exam results and extra curricular activities, but when it's just us, we have to have something new to say rather than "This year, I carried on with the daily grind, and I survived. Merry Christmas". What a depressing thought, that that might be our annual newsletter!

I have some plans brewing, I can feel my creative mojo creeping back, and I'm hoping to catch up on some much needed sleep this weekend, so maybe I'll be back to my normal self soon. And maybe, as we change into autumn (although right now it feels like winter!), I might experience some sort of transition also.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

London, the place to be

A while ago, tired of commuting and the high cost of living, we were thinking of moving to Colchester, where I work. However, we recently visited the Museum of London and it made me realise that I truly love this city and would never want to leave. As long as it's humanly possible, I will be a London girl.

The Museum of London was so interesting, but what I loved the most was around the walls there were quotes from famous people, poems and literature about the spirit of London, and how over history, it has always been this addictive place where everyone wants to be. I loved that even two or three hundred years ago, there were still people who swarmed to this great city and made it home.

I was also thrilled to read that even in 1734 there was a significant amount of coffee shops. I'm sitting in Starbucks as I write this and the coffee shop culture is something that I really love about London. I remember in my History of Journalism module at Uni, that it was the coffee shops and pubs that made Fleet Street the hub of British Journalism as newspapers were formed in the 1800s.
And so I'll be remaining in London Town for a little longer, as this wise man, Dr. Johnson, said in 1777 "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." Next time I think I am tired of living my London life, I'll come back to this and remind myself how blessed I am to live in this gorgeous, exciting, bustling city.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

3 years ago...

Three years ago today, I married my best friend, Mr Jon Davies. And what a good decision that was! Three years on, marriage is great. In fact, for all the single people out there, I'd recommend it!
When we got married, we were told by lots of well-meaning friends that "The first year is the hardest" - I guess because you're still getting used to each other. It wasn't. We sailed through, not without silly arguments, but it definitely wasn't hard.

After our second anniversary there was a distinct increase in the amount of people who asked "Well, when are you having children then?" The answer? Obviously not yet, and obviously I won't tell you if I am!

After the third anniversary, things seem to have calmed down a bit. People tend to just accept your marriage the way it is, and are just thrilled that you're enjoying the journey. Us? We're just happy getting on with things in our own way, as we always have. Together. As a team. And who could wish for a better team mate?

As for me, I tend to over-analyse things. And after each mile stone I turn to Jon with a panicked look on my face and say "But Jon, we're XX years in, and what have we achieved??? Where are we going???" And Jon always says with a smile on his face, "Just enjoy the journey." I love that I have someone who keeps me grounded and keeps me in the present. Not analysing the past, and not worrying about the future. Whereas I'm definitely the person in our little team who drives things forward and pushes us to the next level. It's good to complement each other!

Anyway, Happy Anniversary, Mr Davies.