Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Cookies and brownies

Several of you picked up on how appetising the cookies and brownies looked in a post a couple of weeks ago. Well today I’m feeling generous and I’m going to direct you to the recipes for those beauties. They were so good I made a second batch of both within a day of the first one. I’m not even joking. My running has slowed down dramatically since then. It may or may not be related.

Both recipes are super easy, and it’s all basically about mixing ingredients together, no special potions or anything. And actually, I suggest making both on the same day because as your cookie dough chills in the fridge, you’ve got just the right amount of time to make the brownie. If that’s not a match made in heaven then I don’t know what is.

I’ll let you decide whether it’s worth it.

(Answer: it totally is.)

Recipe for the chocolate shortbread: find it here. The only thing I'd say about this recipe is that the cookies benefit from a brief stay in the fridge before you gobble them down. Even better the next day actually if you can lay your hands off them for that long.

Recipe for the peanut butter and chocolate brownie: find it here. Nothing to change here, it's perfect!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Thready hearts

I’ve finished it I’ve finished it!!!!!!!!!! The feeling of getting this done was so satisfying I can’t tell you! I love each and every heart, and it fills me with joy to look at it, think back to where it came from, and think of tapestry moments in France. I have my favourites of course (hearts that is), the strawberry one, the union jack one, and the criss cross one in the top left. So so pretty!!

Although of course, it’s nowhere near finished at the same time… The tapestry bit is well and truly over, but now starts the slightly more daunting prospect of making it up as a cushion. As far as I understand the process (please correct me if I’m wrong), I need to stretch the tapestry (similar method to blocking), and then, somehow, make up the back and then insert a cushion padding….

Although you see, I may have bigger plans than that… some embroidery on the back may keep me busy for the next few weeks!!

Friday, 27 May 2011


Our little France holiday seems like such a long time ago now... I was looking at the photos I've still got left to show you and I stopped on the flower folder. Everyone loves a good flower post right? They're so pretty, colourful, cheerful...

I couldn't quite decide which ones to put up, which ones were my favourites... so you got all of them practically! Please click on the mosaics below and enjoy them as much as I am.

Roses, peonies, tulips... the list is endless and my knowledge of flower names very limited!

Have a lovely weekend! xx

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Green cotton

Last weekend I bought this thread.

All nice and green and 100% cotton.

Wanna know why?

The joy of Freecycle my friends.

I was wondering what I might call her and the The Beast seems rather appropriate. She scares me and she’s old. Like really old. I bet she’s at least twice my age.

I feel totally intimidated and haven’t actually done anything with her yet. It might help if I plugged her in but I’m a little bit worried I might break her. I look at her and think of all the possibilities. These are very exciting times I tell you!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Lately I have been...





 And eating some more...!

Thursday, 19 May 2011


It’s all about the wool right? Damn bloody right it is!!! When I saw there was a mohair farm not far from the first place we were staying at, I thought this would be a great thing to do on a rainy day…

Only of course we were lucky with the weather and no rain came our way until the very last day, but we managed a little stop on our way to the campsite.

We were given a tour of the farm, starting with the goats through to different rooms where all the different processes involved in getting the yarn from the goat to the shop were explained (my favourite has got to be the one below, the shearing stage – was a delicate pose they have to assume!).

I had to do some instant translation for Boyfriend which certainly proved interesting but it worked out alright. Boyfriend became the designated photographer and I reckon he didn’t do a bad job. Those goats were playing up to him, they were so curious!!

Anyway, the yarn produced is, as expected, unbelievably soft and beautiful. I think the lady was rather disappointed that I only bought a couple of balls, but my budget didn’t stretch to the 7-8 she was recommending to knit a jumper (not that I’d want to knit myself a jumper in mohair thanks very much!). She was unbelievable though, quite a character really. She takes care of the goats (oh and 3000 hens too), does the tours, manages the shop, and even does made-to-measure knitted garments. I was suitably impressed!

So here’s my holiday yarn souvenir. Not sure what I’ll be doing with it just yet, apart from rubbing it against my face once in a while…

Friday, 13 May 2011

Places to stay

Right, now that Blogger’s sorted itself out, let’s carry on with our France posts shall we?! Although it would be nice to get yesterday's post comments back... Anyway!

Over our holiday, which was basically some sort of road trip, we stayed in three different places. This allowed us to explore each area we wanted to see to the full, while not having to drive tons every day. Notwithstanding, we did manage to clock up the mileage, but let’s not think about that, what with the current price of petrol… Anyway, we started in a charming chambre d’hote, not far from Bayeux, which was basically a working farm. We didn’t get to see any of the farm animals but there were a couple of friendly Labradors that sure made up for it. A holiday in a nice place with animals is always a bonus (flashback to last year…). The room was simple and the building were rustic, but it was truly lovely, a real relaxing place to stay.

We then moved on further west. We’d always thought that if we could fit in a bit of camping, it would not only bring the cost down, but it would also be good fun. Since the tent hadn’t seen the light of day since last November, we thought it would be a brilliant opportunity to brush the dust off and get our thermal clothes out. Yeah, camping in April is still cold my friends! Thermals were definitely needed, and it came to a point where we both wished we had full thermal body suits on, but we survived.

Only just though… the first night, something scratched the side of the tent and repeatedly tried to jump on one of my legs that was touching the side of the tent. My heart probably stopped beating for a good few minutes I can tell you that!. The next day though, we worked out that no, we hadn’t been attacked by a bear/ wolf/ peacock, but probably just this cheeky little kitten. My rucksack was the best toy ever I’ll have you know, and the car, well that was another world to explore… We were really tempted to take him (or her?) home, it was just so cute and playful, even Boyfriend was smitten!

(No we’re not gypos by the way, we do have suitcases, but shoes tend to go in plastic bags in the boot around any proper bags!)

We spent the last couple of nights in a place even further west, with a view (long distance!) over the Mont St Michel. It was right between Granville, where I’d been with my mum last winter and had been dying to take Boyfriend to ever since, and the Mont St Mich which we most definitely wanted to visit. That chambre d’hote was something else. Perfect after a couple days of camping, such a treat really. Most especially for me, as they had lovely magazines everywhere, including old Marie Claire Idees that I proceeded to devour and photograph! But that’s another post to itself!!

The house had recently been renovated and it looked gorgeous. Maybe not to everyone’s taste (old wonky door knobs that felt like they were going to stay in your hand every time you opened a door type thing), certainly down the shabby chic route I guess, but it was lovely. Magazine lovely if you know what I mean. I kept finding little quirks and corners that I wanted to photograph. So much inspiration, ah if only we could afford that kind of space!!

The room was lovely too, and it was arranged in a really nice way. Talking of quirks, one thing I thought was really neat was using a wooden ladder to hold towels. So clever! Making the most of whatever space available or what?! Boyfriend wasn’t took keen on a detail in the attached children’s room though (suitcase room for us!) – what do you think of that clown? Neither of us are keen on them, find them rather creepy you know, but Boyfriend thought that picture would actually be quite scary for a small child…

Anyway, all in all, it made for great settings to visit those parts of Normandy. Ah to be by the seaside again…

Thursday, 12 May 2011


I hereby declare the season of France holiday pics open!! Now, I’m sure some of you will find this a little dull, but this is pure indulgence time for me, so you might as well enjoy it too! It’s a time to look back on this holiday, enjoy the hundreds of photos I took, have fun sorting them out in categories and simply admire all the beautiful things we were lucky to see and do. It’s taking me quite some time to do all this, so today I’ll start with the easy ones: FOOD. Everyone’s favourite right? Well, I must say, going to the land of cheese and cream when you’ve got a slight lactose intolerance thing going on wasn’t ideal. I had to stay away from lots of food I would have loved to gorge myself on, and even when I thought I’d ordered dairy-free food in restaurants, cream always managed to sneak in one way or another. At least with espressos, I was on the safe side. No danger of milk touching these babies…

And these (cheaper at the counter!)…

And these…

And… no that’s it! Espressos are the coffee of the gods, even though I do like them with a substantial amount of sugar added. Anyway, they were delicious and powered us through the holiday when we managed to remember to have one in time (and not at 5pm in the afternoon, ahem). Carrying on with the drink theme, there was also a bit of yogurt drinking by Boyfriend – why don’t we get as many flavours in this country?! And yes, I got weird looks for getting my camera out in a supermarket, I’m not French people were quite ready for my snappy happy attitude…!

Talking about flavours we don’t have in this country, and I feel really hard done by here, anyone heard of speculoos ice cream? OH. MY. GOD. This ice cream has come straight down from heaven I tell you, and I’m ever so annoyed at the British population for not embracing it fully a few years back when it was introduced as a limited edition. Yes, I may have done a little bit of research here. And no, I haven’t sent Haagen Dazs an email. Yet.

But our food experience wasn’t all hunky dory. I’ve come to realise, with a few years behind me of being able to observe them from a distance rather than being in the middle of it, that the French have a serious attitude problem. Not all of them of course, but quite a few. We found a lot were fairly confused by the whole me speaking French and sounding French, but then speaking to Boyfriend in English and well, not sounding French. A couple of times, because of it, I guess they thought we were just a bunch of silly tourists who could be done over. Little did they know. I most definitely follow the French way of thinking when it comes to food standards in restaurants: if it’s not good enough (and you happen to be paying a fair price for it), then I will not hesitate to send it back. On one occasion, I’d deliberately ordered something which was cream-free. The waiter then proceeded to give me the moodiest face in the world when I said that wasn’t what I’d ordered – the recipe had been updated did I not know – well no, not if the menu isn’t updated with it… I explained I was allergic to cream, but I doubt they’ve heard of that kind of condition over there (they can be so backward sometimes, there were places where I seriously struggled to order anything without meat/ pork) and it obviously didn’t sway them one way or the other because I never even got an apology. Honestly!!! Have you experienced this kind of attitude whilst on holiday in France? I seem to notice it more and more and it irritates me to the highest point.

Of course, France is still the nation of food and there was a point to us going over by ferry: to be able to load the car and bring back lots of goodies. We didn’t hold back actually. Shame we didn’t though, because the bank card took a serious battering. Cuts and bruises and all. Would you be surprised if I told you all the biscuits are gone. They didn’t stand a chance in our home!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Sweet pot

I mentioned our sweet pot last week when I gloated about Rachel’s very generous giveaway. This little sweet red pot was gifted to us by my mother and I love it, with its adorable chicken lid handle. She would probably keel over if she knew how we were using it though... I guess she anticipated we might use it for dips perhaps, and it has indeed been used for homemade salsa in the past. But that doesn’t happen very often and I thought of it to house our much loved French caramels, brought back from Isigny-sur-Mer caramel factory, the greatest caramels in the land I tell ye.

And since the caramels are fast disappearing, Rachel’s little chocolate eggs are finding themselves quite at home there. Who are we to argue? I’m only wondering what I’m going to replace them with once they’ve disappeared to the land of tummies… Any recipes out there you can think of for sweets or really tiny little nibbles?

Monday, 9 May 2011

The joy of receiving

Yes giving presents is great. But receiving stuff is equally enjoyable don’t you think? I’m not talking presents here, but it was indeed something free that I got. (Read on if you’re wondering why I’m showing you a load of blue bottles. No, I haven’t gone mad.)

Ever heard of Freecycle? It’s an amazing network of people, local to you wherever you are, who list things they no longer want and are happy to giveaway. A way of saving landfill space if you will! Some people might wonder if those people have ever heard of Ebay, but some things are just too bulky or simply not worth anything anymore even though they are in perfect working order. If I didn’t have a little bit of self-restraint, we’d have a dishwasher and a fridge freezer in the living room by now, waiting to move into our new house. But since we don’t actually have the house yet, I thought it might just be a bit premature…

Anyway, on Saturday morning, one lovely lady was giving away some empty Neal’s Yard bottles, she thought someone might have a use for them. I jumped on this. I knew those bottles could come in handy, and the Neal’s Yard glass blue is really gorgeous (and I'd already missed out on a massive jar of buttons and felt gutted - you have to quick with this).

Someone obviously loves having baths with bubble baths. I'm not judging here.

The bottles got washed, labels were removed and flowers were picked. Oh yes, I totally channelled my inner Concha (this woman is such an inspiration) and created the most lovely (if I do say so myself) arrangement. Ephemeral I know, but so pleasing to the eye. Such a nice way to bring in a little spring freshness into our home.

Next on the Freecycle wagon? A coffee machine that makes cappuccinos, espressos and filter coffees. We were actually thinking of buying one of those, so when we saw it turn up on the email list, we couldn’t resist. I’ll show it to you when we actually make our first cup of coffee with it. (We’re totally missing espressos from our trip to France where they down those little cups like shots of cocaine). But first, I’ll follow my mother’s rather cool reply to my over-excitement: make sure you clean it first darling. Yes mother.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Holiday hobby

I’m ashamed to say I’m struggling with the book I’m reading at the moment. I don’t feel gripped by it. This may have something to do with the fact that it came all the way to France with us, enjoyed a ferry ride in the boot of the car, and well, ahem… stayed there until we were back in England? Yes, I know, shameful. Does anyone else get that though? We always take books with us away, with great intentions of getting through them in no time, and then BANG, nothing. Nada.

I did however occupy the little spare time I had with some crafting. One of the best travel crafting projects ever. Some tapestry work, a present from Boyfriend at Christmas. This was one of the best presents ever because he thought about it all by himself and got it totally spot on. A cute little project to make into something cool like a cushion perhaps. Anyway, we’re not there yet! But I’m working my way through it and did some good progress in France which I’m very pleased about! It’s arranged in a square, made up of 9 smaller squares, each with a heart in its centre. So far, I’ve managed to complete three squares and I’m over the moon! Here are some peaks for you to enjoy, I just can’t wait to get it all done! Only the thing is, I can picture it being used in a particular room of the new house-to-be (fingers crossed), so it better all work out!