Monday, 23 July 2012

♥♥ I L-O-V-E Lucy ♥♥

Continuing on with my Attic24 obsession I did a little spot of baking and cooking at the weekend. Something things were directly inspired by the lovely Lucy and some things I had in my memory banks and just wanted to make this weekend...

I would love to be the type of Mummy who bakes for her children (well one child at the moment and Bigger child if you count D) and who teaches them how to bake and cook and nurtures them along the way. So this weekend I started with some little oaty biscuits. I should point out though that the recipes I'm falling for at the minute are those that are simple and quick, without Hoo-Haa (D laughs at me when I say no to recipes because I feel there is too much Hoo-Haa!) and without too many random/expensive/hard to get ingredients. In short simple recipes with simple ingredients. So Attic24 does these kinds of recipes by the bucket load and her Oaty Stars were my first port of call. I know you are going to want to try this recipe as they are tasty and so, so easy and lets face it if it's recommended by Lucy it can't be bad (I'm not going into stalker territory am I???). You basically bung oats, raisins, sugar, flour and butter in a food processor, blitz the living life out of it, roll it into shape, cut out your girly or not so girly shapes, shove them in the oven and 10mins later or so they are done. A more detailed and romantic version of this recipe i.e. the original can be found here... my attempts looked a little like this...

 My star cutter was too big so I went for Butterflies and Hearts (really I'm not this girly in real life honest, well maybe just a little, they are my cutters after all).
 Hmm a little mouse must have eaten the little oaty biscuit in the corner, or rather a big mouse (well someone had to check they were edible!)
My happy little tin of easy(peasy) to make biscuits

And Little R is only 18 months and although I don't consider myself a super strict Mummy he hasn't had chocolate yet so I omitted the tasty addition of chocolate buttons that Attic24 cleverly came up with (although myself and D would have happily eaten them like this I promise you!). But go for it, add the buttons and whatever other naughtiness you like. I know I'll only get away with this for so long and since Little R doesn't know any better just yet, I'm happy for it to stay that way! I liked them, D liked them, Little R like them (he really hasn't had much sweet stuff at all yet) and Little R's granda (my Daddy) said when I asked him for his verdict "Aye, they're alright", I sighed. He is a plain enough eater and doesn't get overly excited about much, ah well.

And then moving on and following Lucy's footsteps once more I was intrigued by here Butternut Squash risotto recipe (found here). Risotto is one of my favourite foods, yum with a capital Y! And this recipe looked the height of simplicity... Lucy doesn't even really stir her risotto but hey I'm not nuts, I'm a believer in stirring the risotto. But I did get a little brave and cocky even and I didn't stir it as much as I normally would and did things in between - a real James Dean I am! 
Anyway I can honestly say this recipe was super-dee-duper. It was scrum-didilee-umptious. I did mention that my Daddy is a plain eater (spuds, meat, veg - you know the sort) but in light of my new found bravery I served up said risotto to Old Pappy and he had one mouthful and this noise came out from him... something like "Mmmm". I had to steady myself on my chair and I asked "Do you like it?!" not really expecting much beyond "Aye, it's alright" and do you know, he said "Yes, it's really nice". I think I looked at D at this point to check I had heard right and he had the same stunned look that I did! Haha, I'm probably being a little dramatic and unfair to my poor father. He eats everything I serve up to him and never complains and sometimes makes happy noises sometimes, he's just not one for fuss and definitely doesn't make a song and dance about things but I tell you I was rightly chuffed to have made something that made him go "Mmm" on the first mouthful. Basically I just want to feed people and make them happy!
I also gave Little R this dinner, as it had no salt and D found good stock cubes without much added salt and no MSG, and he scoffed the lot. It's a lovely family dinner and one I will be making for many years to come. Thanks again Lucy!

On Sunday I followed my own baking path, but very much inspired by Lucy's take on life and baking nice things for ones family, and Little R and I made pancakes while D had a lie-in. The recipe comes from Jamie Oliver this time although it's so simple it's not much of a recipe but if you want it, you can get it here. One cup of self-raising flour, one cup of milk, one egg, pinch salt, grated pear... mix it all around in a jug (Little R did the mixing with minimal mess!). Fry in pan. Wait until everyone is awake from their naps. Serve with butter, jam and juice...
Yummy scrummy in my tummy... and Little R's and D's.

Finally to round off the weekend, following the small success of the chocolate and guinness cake I wanted to try Nigella's Gingerbread and Guinness recipe. It came highly recommended by Mrs Thomasina Tittlemouse and being a hugh fan of hers I knew I was on to a winner. The ingredient list was slightly longer than the other recipes but it was still effortless, no endless whisking and void of any Hoo-Haa (a definite must). So I have found another recipe that I will keep using 'til the grave (or until people get sick of me making it! I am known to flog a dead horse!). I was thinking of giving you all the pics of the making of this cake.. but I am too tired and lazy and my photos are a bit blurry, with poor lighting (poor workman blames his tools and all that). And at any rate I've probably bored you to death already so I'm just giving you the end result...
The cake is moist (although I ever so slightly undercooked it, oh well just means I have to make it again to perfect it!) and perfectly spiced and very yummy. It's more of a wintery cake but while most of the UK gets a glimpse of sunshine we in Ireland are still getting slapped in the face with wind and rain so I think it's ok to eat wintery gingerbread in weather like that!). I found the recipe here so have a go, or wait until the rain starts again which inevitably it will! 

And finally (I know I said that above but I mean it this time) I thought I would update you on my yarn crisis. Thanks for everyone for their lovely and very helpful comments. As a result I decided to go with Stylecraft Special DK for the baby blanket. And after much deliberation and cogitation I picked these colours...
The colours above may look a little feminine but I am going to team them up with the colours below (I purchased these a while ago for Little R's blanket and didn't use them). Maybe I'll photograph them altogether someday but for now I am too lazy again!
This concludes my Lucy inspired weekend as the yarn is partly inspired by her and I'm following her Granny Stripe pattern. Must really get on with that and stop blogging!

Thanks for reading and getting to the end of this loooonnnnngggg post. I love, love, love that you have stopped by. I love, love, love that you sometimes leave a little comment (although I totally understand if you don't as well, no hard feelings, there are only 24 hours in the day). And in case you didn't know by now I love, love, love Lucy. 

♥ Thank you Attic24 for making the everyday things seem so special ♥ 

I am aware that Lucy will never read this but that doesn't matter. She doesn't need to.  But I just wanted to make my feelings known.


Psst... did you think I was finished there? Well I have one more thing to tell you. This blogging malarky is just brilliant. I have been inspired by you all and the thing that has surprised me the most is that I've made friends. Lovely friends. Friends that, because they wanted to make you smile, send you this (amongst other things) in the post...
Thank you Mrs TT

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Indecisive? Me?

Dear bloggie friends I am in distress! Well that's maybe a weeeeeeeeee bit dramatic ~ I am trying to pick yarn for a baby blanket I am going to start for a friend*. This particular job challenges me to the extreme as for the life of me I can't pick colours. I know which colours i like when I see them together and I know which colours I don't like when I see them together, but can I pick them myself??? Nooooooooo! Oh my word, I agonise over this decision but to the point of insanity. And then it's not only the colours of yarn but the type of yarn. Argh!!! I think I have changed my mind about 3 times on what actual type of yarn I am going to use for this project and I'm driving myself round the bend! I think part of the problem is that I'm trying to buy online and relying on the colours on the website, but even with that some suppliers have kindly sent me samples and I am still struggling. The other problem is budget, if money was no object I'd buy Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino or lovely Rowan yarns but unless we win the lottery (which I haven't dear reader) money is definitely a consideration when purchasing yarn. 

So am I writing to you just to moan and whinge? Well fortunately for you no! I am taking a break from the colour selection and I decided to write a wee post to remind me of happy things like......

...cakes and buns...

Over the weekend I was banging on about baking. Still on a high from the success of the Chocolate and Guinness cake I scoured the internet looking for some recipes because I really feel the need to bake. Many of the recipes I bookmarked were from Attic24, I think I am slightly obsessed with Lucy and her Attic but then I think most crafty crochet people probably are too! So anyway wittering on as I do, yesterday my darling D was working from home and he needed a break from work so I suggested via a little email communiqué that maybe he could could go to one of the cafes on our road to pick up a little piece of cake (ever since reading Attic24's baking posts I have wanted a piece of cake and a cup of tea!). This was what waited for me when I got home:
I managed to resist the urge to inhale it as soon as I got home from work and I saved it until little R was in bed
Perfection... mint tea and tea cake
Mmmm moist, cakey, goodness 

However I must add, D makes a top notch, 10/10 tea cake - well Welsh Bara Brith to be exact, as seen on the Hairy Bikers Mum's Know Best TV show about a year ago. D has added a nice little twist to the recipe by soaking the fruit in Lady Grey Tea, oh yes (well I told him to do it but he should probably take the glory as he does a super job with the recipe).

So my friends it doesn't end there... oh no. Today I came home from work and D had decided to work from home again today (he didn't want to cycle in the rain and I can't blame him). And this was waiting for me today
Ooooh what's inside? Well I'll tell you what was inside. Buns! Little scrummy fairy cakes!
I eeeeeped with delight and inhaled one within about 30secs and do you know what? It was delicious. Basic, bunny, spongy deliciousness.
And yes I just had to have another one because I wanted to show and tell on my blog. Hehe it was a big sacrifice having that second bun let me tell you! 

And to fuel my Attic24 obsession D had used the recipe (which can be found here) that I bookmarked at the weekend, oh he really does listen to me blether on the poor man. But hey I got buns and for that I am extremely grateful. I have managed not to eat anymore (thanks, I know it was well done of me not to eat all 8! Well there were 7 as D had to taste one himself, I supposed that's alright isn't it, he did make them teehee!)

♥~♥~ I am a lucky and very grateful pup ♥~♥~ 

* Yes Mrs Tittlemouse I am still trying to pick this yarn - I am a complete disaster! The Creative Cotton is lovely though and perfect for some little crochet flowers!

Monday, 16 July 2012


My 'wee' brother turned 30 on the first weekend in July (he is much taller than me, which isn't hard, and has just turned 30 so really he isn't wee at all, but he's still 'my wee brother' to me). We had a lovely surprise meal for him with family and friends at his favourite Indian Restaurant. Unfortunately due to timing issues, it was later in the evening, neither Baby R or D where able to come. D and I were a tag team, I went for dinner and D put Baby R to bed and I drove home, took over baby sitting duties and D went out for drinks with the boys and girls. This arrangement suited me down to the ground as I got an early night. Party animal I am not, especially when you have to get up at 6am every day!

Anyhoo I took on the task of making the birthday cake. I feel big birthdays really deserve a homemade cake. Well all birthdays do but finding the time isn't always easy, but you must find the time when your favouritest littlest brother turns 30! I was resigned to making my signature victoria sponge cake with icing which I feel is a bit played out and as a result I wasn't really overly excited about baking. Then I did a little browsing on the internet and found a very exciting sounding recipe for a Chocolate and Guinness cake. Yes you heard right, GUINNESS, the black stuff. On a side note: I know this will probably disgust many of you but I am quite partial to a really cold half of Guinness. My friends and I call it our Holiday Half - we always have one when we go on our hols to Donegal. Happy memories! Anyway back to the cake: It's a Nigella Lawson recipe I stumbled upon. I haven't baked in a while and the things I read about this recipe had me so excited about getting into the kitchen again. And let me tell you, it was the easiest recipe ever, so simple you could make it blindfolded! And what's more it was a hit. Everyone loved it. I felt guilty taking the praise because it was so seriously easy to make but it did taste delicious and it's my new favourite cake recipe. Thank you Nigella, you really know your stuff. I didn't use Nigella's recipe for the cream cheese frosting, I found another recipe as I wanted to ice the whole cake and needed a firmer frosting.  The all important age was marked out in Smarties (ah my inner child was very happy).
30 birthday candles outlined the perimeter of the cake and I also added a little non-toxic glitter to the top for an extra sparkle. The smarties seemed to fade after about 2 hours on the cake so it looked lovely and pastelly which was a-ok with me!
Oh I do love a surprise cake coming out in a restaurant, the surprise, the singing of Happy Birthday, the inevitable embarrassment I love it all! But I do not love having to call the birthday boy back from the almost entering the bathroom knowing the cake is about to arrive and having to ask inane questions while your little brother looks at you like you have gone insane. "What did you have for your meal?", "Did you enjoy it?", "Have you ordered that before?". All the while thinking please won't someone help me and where on earth is that cake??!!!

My husband said it was good to have me back in the kitchen again and my older brother who is a total foodie said it was the best cake he'd eaten in ages, high praise let me tell you. I really should have taken a photo of the inside of the cake but I really am a disorganised blogger so apologies (I usually feel I have to say sorry for something!) Anyway I'm taking this opportunity to pass this recipe on. You have to make this cake. Go on, ya will, ya will, ya will, ya will*........

♥ Happy 30th Lovely L ♥ 

*Said in the style of Mrs Doyle

Edit: would be good if I gave you a link to the recipe dear reader, haha I'm an Eejit!

Edited further to add: Ooops I've just realised another omission by me! In my haste to get this post done I forgot to mention that I didn't follow Mrs Lawsons frosting recipe. I'm not saying there was anything wrong with Nigellas frosting, it just looked a little loose to me and as this was a birthday cake which had to be decorated on the top and the sides I decided to look for a more traditional cream cheese frosting recipe.

In the end I made it using 60g of unsalted butter, 200g full fat cream cheese and 400g of icing sugar. The recipe is here. I have to admit though that I absolutely hate butter cream icing so I was worried about the original 70g of unsalted butter that the recipe called for. So I used 50g initially and then I chickened out thinking that I didn't really know better even though sometimes I think I do and I was worried the frosting would be too loose so I added in another 10g of butter. Edit I think you have to be careful about over whipping the cream cheese and also about making sure you use FULL FAT (a moment on the lips and forever on the hips as my mother says) cream cheese. Anyway you'll be better than me and you'll actually follow the instructions and don't think you know better than someone who clearly knows what they are on about. I think I can safely reiterate my earlier point - I am an eejit.

Have fun with this recipe.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Recent Ta-Dahs

Well I say recent but I think I finished this project well over a month ago. Ah well, never worry, it's just a little overdue but here goes........

A wee while ago I took a notion to work with some fabric and my sewing machine and I did a little patchwork project. After Baby R was born I spent many hours (most of which in the dead of night) feeding him in a wicker chair in our bedroom. The chair was fine as a decoration but after some time spent breastfeeding it in, it was soon realised to be hideously uncomfortable! So we made a decision to get a new chair so that I could nurse in comfort in the wee hours. Having Baby R did strange things to me.. a usually very, VERY indecisive person I knew we needed a chair IMMEDIATELY and within a couple of days (very decisive for me I can assure you) we found and purchased a green velvet chair (this was actually our exact requirements, probably a bit specific but hey we found one!). So why am I telling you this? Well the chair was very comfortable and looked very sweet in our pale green bedroom and fit the bill for quite a few months but as my little Baby R got a bit bigger I realised little spills of milk were being left on the very comfortable and very sweet little chair. So we covered the seat with a baby blanket (just a yellow one that someone had bought for us, you know the kind of thing you get when you don't know your baby's gender in advance) and an old cushion that I made a cover for when I first started to learn to use my sewing machine. To say I wasn't in love with either the blanket or the cushion (which was falling apart at the seams!) would be an understatement and a much more organised and efficient blogger (which I most definitely am not!) would have taken a 'before' picture to help you understand the injustice being done to the very comfortable and very sweet little green velvet chair. So I devised a plan. I bought some fabric squares from Ebay and set about making a patchwork cover for the little chair. I couldn't stop there and I bought some beautiful Tilda fabric called Christmas house (I intend to make some Christmas stockings with this stunning fabric but I'm not entirely sure which year or indeed decade I'll get this done!).  I combined the fabrics and this is the result.
A little close up
I couldn't stop there though. The very comfortable and very sweet little chair needed a new cushion, I was rather ashamed of the existing cushion cover. I didn't want to use up all the lovely Tilda fabric, like I say some day it will be a proud Christmas stocking, but I also didn't have much money to spend on fabric. I did a little blog browsing and general searching for some reasonable cheap fabric and I came across the Ikea Cath Kidston fabric range. A trip to my local Ikea in Belfast paid off, I got 1M of scrummy floral fabric for  roughly £5. Result! 

So I covered the old cushion...
In my crafty drawers I found a little cushion that I had never found a use for and made a little cover for it too...
 I didn't bother with zips, I just did a little envelope at the back as I was under time constraints and I'm very happy with how it turned out
I think the very comfortable and very sweet little chair now looks much better with it's patchwork cover and little cushions. It's protected from milk stains and looks pretty too. 

I felt the very comfortable and very sweet little chair's corner of the room was lacking in the picture department so I had these lovely Rob Ryan cards (I can't tell you how much I love this man's stuff) that I bought for my husband for our 4th Wedding Anniversary (a few weeks before Baby R was born)... 
and for the arrival of our little bundle of Joy.
D always said he liked the cards so much he wanted them framed and hung on the wall. However I only just got around to framing them and mounting them on the wall when the chair was sorted. Am I lazy or a procrastinator or just extremely pushed for time?! I'll let you decide! 
♥ I'm really happy with the look of this corner of our room now and so happy to have been able to play with fabric and my sewing machine. Little amuses the innocent they say! ♥