Thursday, 28 October 2010

Star item

I don't know about you, but when I find something that works for me, I like to tell the world about it. More precisely and more within my reach, I like to tell my friends and then you, my lovely blog readers. Interested in said item for today's post? It's not going to sound very interesting to the unsuspecting reader but bear with me, it might be that little something that helps make your life just that bit smoother. Am I playing on words? I might just be...

Not quite sure what it is still? Well, let me introduce you to glass nail files. If you're anything like me, you might recognise the following pattern: your nails break or become uneven, but you hate filing your nails because you never have a brand new nail file at hand, and let's face it, once you've used the standard cardboard one a couple of times, it's all used up along the edges and so pretty useless to tackle most nail filing activities. It's rubbish and it annoys you. You put it off and end up with hands that could belong to a builder. Lush. One day, you decide that enough is enough and you will spend a little more to try this different type of nail file that you've read about.

This is my story. I've had this for a couple of months now and all I can say is that I love it. Now, if I didn't convince you to try the Mooncup, I just hope you might trust me a little more with this one. Once again, this will not only improve your experience of something which has to be done on a fairly regular basis, but it will also reduce the amount of waste you send to landfill (it is guaranteed 10 years!) and will save your purse a few quid too. What's not to like!?!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Retail therapy

Now, let's get things straight. I'm not one for retail therapy per se. I'll buy myself a nice hand cream perhaps, or more likely a fancy pants Waitrose food item, but clothes shopping? Not really my thing. You see, I'm not the average body shape and hence find shopping for clothes such as trousers/ skirts/ dresses rather frustrating at times. No I don't have a third leg, just a very generous backside, which doesn't quite find its place on the British high street. But recently, I've been splashing the cash. And before you say anything, I feel quite guilty about it. I know it's totally ok to buy things occasionally, it is rather cold outside and I can't carry on wearing the same old clothes I did when I was a teenager (oh yes, I still have quite a few of those left) and really bad clothes make me feel frumpy. Frumpy Petit Filoux = uncomfortable Petit Filoux = unhappy Petit Filoux. Yep, pretty simple. So a couple of weeks ago, I decided to go on the lookout for a faux fur black jacket to go with the dress I was planning on wearing at the two weddings I was invited to attend. After spending many a lunch break perusing shops on Oxford Street, I finally found what I was after: a long sleeve jacket, not a cropped top or sleeveless number, no, this is to keep me warm after all.

I'm particularly pleased with this purchase because I can see myself wearing it on numerous occasions. Times when I'm dressing up and don't want to wear a standard old coat. Anyway, following on from this success, I was determined I should get myself a new coat this winter. The last one I bought was probably about 3-4 years ago, which says a lot about the other coats I'm still wearing. One in particular was starting to edge on embarrassing, with bobbles being a permanent fixture. It was time to ditch it. To start with, I had a quick look online (does anyone else do that? I really hate going from shop to shop, makes me go all hot and sweaty and uncomfortable, so I'd rather establish a short list from the internet from the comfort of my own home/ office).

There, I'd found it. And yes, it would have to be red. Much to the despair of Boyfriend who decidedly still isn't too keen on this colour, I'm growing more and more fond of it. So yes, I've bought myself a red winter coat. But not any kind of coat. A duffle coat. I hope it doesn't make me look like I'm 12 or trying to copy little red riding hood, but honestly, I'm in love with that coat. The inside lining? Honestly, it makes my heart flutter :-)

Finally, I got myself a bag. (See, no offending articles of the trouser/ skirt/ dress department to remind me that I have quite some way to go with weight loss!). To my embarrassment, I've recently got into the habit of using this bag I got for free with a magazine. I know, shocking. I feel quite embarrassed when I see other people with it in the street. Not a good look. Especially as recently it has decided on shedding its inside lining in the most unfashionable of ways. Pretty gross. When I emptied my bag on the bedroom floor yesterday morning, frantically trying to find my keys/ train card/ lip salve etc, it also shed a multitude of black specks on the beige carpet. Hmmm, who's up for a bit of hoovering tonight? So yes, I gave in, I bought myself a bag. A cute little one, didn't break the bank either. And the shop assistant told me I looked beautiful, so honestly, I couldn't possibly put it back on the shelf. Physically impossible I tell thee. (It looks a funny colour in the photo below, but really it's a nice 'night blue' as we say in French. Navy I guess? Not quite but you get the idea!)

And anyway, I got paid last Friday so it's all ok really.

Have you treated yourself to anything lately?

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

It all gets in the way

The last couple of weeks have been a little bit of a rollercoaster. I've been to two weddings, travelled thousands of miles and even snuck in a little trip abroad in between. Not exactly my idea of a relaxing weekend and working week! Anyway, I now have a few evenings to relax before I'm off again. But more on this next week as it is someone's birthday treat!

I've found that disappointingly, I haven't turned to my crafting to relax. When I have had a few minutes to myself, I have spent them slouching in front of the TV. Give me anything, The Apprentice, Masterchef, Eastenders, Waterloo Road, I'll gobble anything you throw at me.

My cross stitch has officially stooled. But on the plus side, I have finally started on my ripple blanket. Much easier than I thought it would be, The Girl you have to sit down and give it another go, it's honestly not rocket science! Trust me, if I can do it, you definitely can. I like how the pattern is easily remembered. And choosing what colour to use next is quite fun, although as you can see, I haven't had to do that too often just yet.

Oh goodness, is it bad to long for 2011 already?! Honestly, the thought of all the end of year malarky, all the hassle that goes with Christmas, and then New Year, arghh!!! What, am I having a little pre-holiday rant? Most possibly. I hope you don't mind too much :-)

Monday, 25 October 2010

Sorry for the small interlude

But occasionally, work does really get in the way! Only thing, can I really complain when this is where I have to go? Back tomorrow with a few more words, sorry but today my brain feels fried!!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Childhood memory food

You know how there are things you used to eat when you were a kid but don't anymore? Either because they're really quite disgusting, or because eating pasta that's in the shape of the alphabet doesn't quite do it for you anymore. Well I used to eat a lot of different food growing up in France. Even though there are a lot of similar things now between France and the UK, and we're all part of Europe bla bla bla, I'd never eaten baked beans until I turned 23. That says a lot I guess.  And butternut squash, well the French don't really bother growing it, so I've discovered the joys of all these root vegetables that I didn't even know existed until recently. The flip side of that is that I used to eat stuff which simply isn't available here. Ok it might be if you go shopping in Harrods, but funnily enough, that's not my thing. Yeah, I'm funny like that.

So you'll never know how I felt when I saw someone selling globe artichokes at the market in Cambridge a couple of weekends ago. I know they're not that rare in the UK, but I can't find them in my local supermarket. And my local market certainly does not stretch to exotic fares such as the much loved artichoke. I say much loved because I absolutely LOVE artichokes. Mum used to prepare them quite regularly. We'd have them cold, as a starter, with some vinaigrette. You just can't beat it. So I didn't have to be told twice that it was ok to pay £1 per artichoke (it's not really, it's a rip off, but what can you do!). I got them all ready at home and I was so proud because actually, it's not that straight forward. You can't really tell if you've cooked it properly until you get to the middle, the part where you have to remove the hair to reveal the beautifully delicate heart.

Mine were spot on. Am I proud? Hell yes!! I'm afraid there are no photos of the hair and the heart because by that point, I was in total heaven, and I don't take cameras to heaven, sorry ;-)

So all I can say is this. If you walk past one of these beauties, jump at the opportunity to enjoy one, it's simply amazing. Each and every single leaf will be a culinary explosion. Or it might not for you, and I'm sorry if it's not your thing, but for me, this is the food of my childhood and I will forever cherish it.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

True love

There are certain parts of the country that I love. All for different reasons, but they are all close to my heart. There’s Norfolk where Boyfriend and I have holidayed a couple of times in the past, there’s Wales where Boyfriend has family ties and we had the most brilliant holiday earlier this year, there’s Cumbria where I went on a university field trip and had the best time of my life. Then there’s places where I’d quite fancy living. The countryside around Bath is definitely high up on my list. It's so beautiful, so quaint, so cute. The landscape is delightfully varied, the buildings made with beautiful stone, making landscapes simply breathtaking.

The wedding we attended at the weekend was in Bath and I can’t tell you how beautiful it all was, both the place and the wedding. The sun was high in the sky, the air was fresh and crisp, the bride was absolutely stunning and the groom amazingly calm but so emotional underneath it all. A pretty perfect wedding as far as I’m concerned.

Bath was also the first university I visited with my mum when I was still at school and completely undecided as to where I wanted to go. I wasn't even sure what course to take, but that's another story!

So there, another area full of happy memories :-)

Monday, 18 October 2010

I wish

I wish that hangovers didn’t get worse as you get older. It’s a little bit like a double blow really. Not only are you feeling like death warmed up, but you are reminded that back in the day, it really was never that painful. Or lasted for that long. Honestly, I still feel broken today. I don’t get drunk a lot these days, I’m not a big drinker anyway, but what can I say. On Saturday, two of my best friends from university got married and the party was brilliant. Everyone had such a good time, the champagne/ polish vodka/ red wine/ white wine were flowing. I guess the 6 hours of driving that we had to do to get there and back probably didn’t help either.

Oh my, today’s going to be a long day. I think I pressed the snooze button 8 times this morning, I’m not kidding.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

And now what?

Well, as much as I’d love to push it back as much as possible, it’s just come creeping in… I know you know what I’m talking about, and I don’t want to upset anyone – Halloween hasn’t been yet for goodness sake! But the thing is, if you’re a little crafter like me, planning and organisation are essential skills. So as much as I’d love to start on another blanket, Christmas is calling. Only a faint little cry for the moment. Just enough to get me thinking of potential presents, ideas for cards, new decorations to make. So last night, I made a start on this cute little cross stitch number which I’m sure will look rather dainty on a card.

But then again, I just can’t get myself to use the “Christmas” tag for this post. Can we please wait a little longer? Until the start of November at least. And then, it’ll be full on extravaganza. Just wait and see…. Actually, no, don’t wait and see!! I’m totally making this up, there won’t be an extravaganza this year – will there even be a tree? Oh the dilemmas I face when I plan on going back to my mum’s in France rather than hosting the whole shebang over here!!!! Then again, I'm told there are worse things in life... ;-)

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Vital statistics (a big ta-dah!)

Dimensions: 135cm x 95cm

Weight: 1.27kg

  • 10x 50g natural silver jacob wool
  • 10x 50g natural jacob aran wool
  • 2x 100g 80% wool, 10% llama, 10% alpaca (in two different colourways)
  • 1x 100g 70% wool, 25% alpaca, 5% silk 

Number of squares made: 96

Rows of edging: 3 in total (first one with clusters of three trebles, second with clusters of two trebles and final one with clusters of four trebles)

Time spent (approximate of course):
  • 23 hours making the squares
  • 8 hours sewing in the ends
  • 2 hours setting up the blocking
  • 8 hours assembling it all
  • 3 hours making a border

You know what I'm talking about? Do you really? Let me show you!!!!

I L.O.V.E IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It fits nicely on a single bed and is so warm to snuggle in!!! It's got a high wool content, so a fairly high itch factor, but it's a hot blanket, meant to be used in the winter when you should be wrapped up in clothes anyway, so I don't mind! And it's mine all mine, my first ever blanket!!!

Thank you Wales for this wonderful yarn, it reminded me of my wonderful holiday in the Brecon Beacons earlier this year. I'll never forget this trip!!

Me + Go Caerphilly blanket =

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Pears etc

Good morning all!! Well sorry I wasn't in yesterday, work just took over as it sometimes does! The weekend was really lovely though wasn't it, we even got some sunshine!! I feel very grateful for every ray we get these days, because it truly feels like winter is on its way. I even tried a winter coat on on Saturday. Long gone are the days of sun tan lotion!!

Anyway, I did my usual Sunday crazy kitchen effort. Does anyone else do that?? I have a lovely relaxed weekend, then come Sunday afternoon and I give myself a ridiculous number of tasks to do in the kitchen, numerous dishes to prepare and cook. I can't say it leads to a relaxed Sunday night, but I guess that's my way of dealing with that dreaded Sunday feeling, the one where you know you should be enjoying yourself, but the thought of having to go back to work the next day gets you down.

Well I decided it was time to deal with the pears that were given to us by Boyfriend's dad. He had an amazing crop this year, and the pears have been fabulous. So after I got the first poulet basquaise of the season in the oven, I kept myself myself pealing, chopping and coring. Can't say I enjoy the coring bit that much, but it's got to be done! So far, I've got three lovely dishes out of those pears. Firstly, a pear and plum chutney. I got the recipe out of my trusted River Cottage Preserves book and it looks stunning. It says it should be left for a couple of months for the flavours to mature, so it'll be great at Christmas - can't wait to tuck in! Then I made a pear and apple crumble, with a sprinkle of cinnamon. I love making the crumble top with some oats, it really gives it an extra crunch. I'm not sure it's a good thing Boyfriend's not too keen on crumbles, I've got a dress to fit into at the weekend and if I have to eat the whole lot, it might be a hard one!!

Finally, I made some pear tartlets. No photo of that I'm afraid because they got gobbled up so quick. All I did though was roll out some puff pastry, prick it leaving a margin along all four sides, spread some sweet chestnut puree (this is optional and it works great without), then added some pear slices and finally a sprinkling of light brown sugar. In the oven at 190-200degrees until nice and golden!

Anyway, if that wasn't enough to keep me busy at the weekend, I may or may not have finished a major project of mine started this spring.... come back tomorrow to find out!! xx

Friday, 8 October 2010

Books cont.

First and foremost, I wanted to say I didn’t mean to offend anyone with yesterday’s post. God knows I’d love a great old bookshelf myself (and I’m getting there to be quite honest). When I mentioned egocentric tendencies, I was really thinking about those people who have large bookshelves with lots of fancy books and classics that have obviously never been read. There are those that have much loved bookshelves, and others who obviously just want to show off. Two very different types of people! I love the idea of using your bookshelf as a library like Mrs Thrifty, exchanging books with friends and family. If only my friends and family lived closer to me!! And of course, I should have mentioned Jill’s great idea of book swapping for free. I guess my behaviour is more and more directed at trying to be environmentally friendly, and falling less into the consumerist trap; reading books from the library is a little like buying stuff from charity shops. Some have been well loved and in the end, I’m helping to save some trees right?

Anyway, my spending habits are far from being environmentally friendly at all times. I did recently indulge and buy myself three books. Three, I know it sounds a bit much, but they’re French books that I couldn’t in my libraries. (You’d be surprised at how many foreign books they have though!). Well, how could I resist? I love the covers, they all portray different atmospheres and I can’t wait to get stuck in. No, I wasn't judging those books by their cover, but since I couldn't buy the whole Zola collection, I guess it might have helped!

But before I get stuck in, I really should finish this first.... or maybe not, I'm not 'feeling' it right now!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Book love

To cheer me up on Monday, we went to our local library. How boring I can hear you say, she’s going to start talking about books. Well, yes and no I guess!! I thought my library (and libraries in general really) deserved a mention on this little blog because they are simply fantastic. Let’s put it this way: I love libraries and always have done. I’m currently a member of three (gosh is that sad?), one near where I live, one near where I work, and one near a shopping centre (!). You just never know when you might need to borrow something or use their facilities (I’m talking internet access here, not toilets by the way!).

In blogland, you often see people with massive bookshelves, crammed full of books. And although they do indeed look lovely (especially those that are colour arranged – massive envy!!!), I can’t help but think it’s a bit of a waste of space. And what do massive bookcases say about you? That you’re clever and read a lot? That perhaps you are a little egocentric and like to display what knowledge you might have? In which case, do some books get hidden because you are embarrassed you’ve read them? Maybe that's a bit harsh, but my point is, you could be sharing those books with others, and limiting yourself to reading what can fit on those said shelves surely is a bit restrictive.

Obviously, it’s not about price. Books these days are just so cheap. And then, when you get a book from the library, you lose that excitement of knowing you’re the first person to open it, discover what it hides, bend its pages. I can’t deny that I do indeed miss that feeling occasionally and keep on hoping that some people learn how to treat books with respect. Honestly, don’t get me started on people who annotate books, it drives me insane. But in the end, how cool is it that I can come home with all these random books and magazines, and all for FREE???
I ♥ libraries ;-)

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Oh dear

Birthdays aren't as fun as they used to be are they? When you're a kid, it's something you really look forward to, and it makes you so proud to be one whole year older. I think it's fair to say I've reached the age when having a birthday just means getting older. And no, not necessarily wiser. And not necessarily happy with what you've achieved either. Oh, and not qualifying for a Young Persons Railcard. It's the beginning of the end I tell you.

But what better excuse to make sweet little nibbles hey? I'd like to credit Apple and Spice for those lovely chewy peanut butter cookies and Stash Avalanche for the lush pecan shortbread squares. I hope they go down well in the office, I like to keep up this reputation that I can indeed bake!

I guess I can try and preserve that reputation by doing some quality control at home. Unfortunately, these guys below didn't pass the test. I added too much chocolate powder and it made them all dry instead of nice and gooey. And they might have had a bit too long in the oven too, oops. Shame. 

But birthdays also mean enjoying a cake bought by a loved one. You can't beat that.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Grey and wet anyone?

I wish I were talking about some cute fluffy sheep but unfortunately I'm not. It's just so cold, grey, wet and windy here, quite depressing really! My day started at 4.30am with lady pains (sorry, really couldn't find a better way to put it!), which pretty much set me up really. I then drove Boyfriend to the airport so he could catch a flight to sunnier climes. He's going on a stag do, and right now, I'd do anything to swap places with him, I mean have you seen the weather forecast for this weekend?!!!

Ok, enough about the weather. So there, feeling a little miserable. Even the coots look like they're struggling...

Anyway, my mum is unexpectedely coming to keep me company this weekend. Rather unexpected, so I actually have something to keep me busy all day tomorrow that I can't get out of. I'm rather looking forward to it actually, but more about this later! Right now, I'm off to the soup I made for lunch. Think I'm going to need it to get me through the day! Oh that, and paracetamol of course!