Friday, 26 September 2014

Recipe - Jambalaya

Hi again everyone!
A little while ago, I had my first attempt at making jambalaya. I had it in Boston when we were there a few years back and I just had to try it. It was so good! Being a first attempt, there was of course room for improvement, and there have been a few jamalayas since. Slowly, I'm perfecting it ;)

Doesn't it look yummy?

The recipe comes from Allrecipes, and can be found here. It's really easy and so good! The only issue I have here in the UK is that we don't really have andouille sausage, but a lovely man at the supermarket actually took the time and effort to Google possible replacements, and saucisson or chorizo can be used as an alternative. Now that I know this, I can even try to make Gumbo again as well (that first attempt was interesting as well). 

If you have any tips to improve this just let me know. Obviously in the UK no one really serves jambalaya although I made the bf into a fan :)

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Tourist Tuesday - Wormsley Estate and Library

Hi everyone!
Who would have known I've been away all week? ;) Pics of my trip will follow, but in the mean time let me share this amazing experience of visiting the Wormsley estate with you. It is an enormous estate with its own cricket ground and an amazing library. We went here to watch the cricket (a first for me, had to learn the rules first. I still don't understand it but the bf does!). 

First order of the day, and in true English fashion: a lovely glass of Pimms :)

Check out the cricket pitch, isn't the scenery amazing?!

It was a wonderful day, and luckily the weather really played along nicely and stayed dry.

We were also allowed to visit the library, full of stunning books. In front of the library there was this original Banksy!

The library itself was beyond amazing. It was so impressive that we took the tour twice!

There were so many amazing books, here a First Edition of Utopia (1516).

And some pages of the Gutenberg bible! There were many other books, but I can only share so much really. These two were the most impressive for me. At least regarding what I know about them. 

I came across this charming little book which am sure has a meaning, but I was intrigued by this image of The Crystal Palace. This building house the Great Exhibition of 1851, and was sadly destroyed by fire in 1936. I would have loved to visit this!

I even saw this pistol book in the library. And I thought this stuff only happened in westerns or so!

This 3D sundial caught my eye as well, it shows the estates and the wind direction. I think it's linked to the weather vane on the roof but I can't be sure.

There were so many amazing books in so many languages!

This one is hilarious. The picture on the right is of an elephant, drawn based only on a verbal description given to the artist. I can understand how this came to be, but it's still so funny :)

There were of course a lot of bibles as that was the most common written word in the early days, and some of them came in little pouches that were even still intact! The book on the right is a tiny version of the New Testament with embroidered binding from 1626. The condition of it was remarkable, so much detail!

We were not allowed to touch any of the books which is fair enough considering their age and value. But when I saw this book on medieval dresses and decorations, my fingers were itching. I would have loved to have a peek inside!

And finally this book, it is exactly the same as the one above (at least I think so, it has the same title and author) but this actually won a medal in the 1862 International Exhibition in Kensington for its binding. I can understand why... 

It was an amazing day, and so much to see! This was definitely not something one has the chance to visit a lot. I thoroughly appreciate having had the chance to see all this :)

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Cakes & Bakes

Hi everyone!
You know how when you bake a cake/muffin/cupcake, and it came out really well so you want to blog about it? Happens to me all the time. Ok, maybe not the turning out amazing part but the wanting to blog about it. So the photos are in my list for forever and somehow I never get around to it. Well, as you all have seen the recipes come by on this blog already anyway (my colleagues know what they like so I end up making the same cakes a lot), here are some pics of various cakes and bakes that I just haven't had the chance to share before. If you're hungry or even peckish, you might want to grab a carrot now... 

Apple and caramel cupcakes I made a while back, this was a new mix by Sainsburys so I had to try. They were amazing, complete with buttercream and caramel chunks. Of course I had to use my own cupcake liners, green for apple!

Second attempt at Mary Berry's apple pie. This picture came out much better than the first one I made ;)

Standard banana chocolate kugelhupf, always a winner 

This is a new one and the recipe has not yet been shared. It's peanut butter cake and no-flour peanut butter cookies. I'd bought chunky peanut butter by mistake and really didn't like it. So I baked lots with it!

I really need to post some more recipes, with all the yoga we haven't cooked for a while. At least nothing blogworthy. But maybe again soon? Until then, I hope these cakes & bakes have inspired you a bit. Ready, set, bake?!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Chinese Cross Stitch Finished

Hi everyone!
After Berlin we went to see my sister. I don't see her very often as we all live so far apart, but she was having her 40th birthday party so that was of course something not to be missed. It was Hello Kitty themed so great fun (even though I have to admit I can't stand Hello Kitty and I couldn't find a fun tshirt for the life of me, but it was great fun nonetheless). My sister loves all things Japanese and when I saw this cross stitch, I just had to make it for her. Yes, I know it's Chinese but it just looked amazing, and she liked it anyway :) I took a break from the Haunted House cross stitch and focused on this one for a while. And still I didn't manage to finish it in time!

Here I am, on the train from Prague to Berlin, finishing up the cross stitch...

...but I finished it before we reached Berlin! Now I just had to find a frame as finding one on London turned out to be way difficult for some reason.

During our time in Berlin, the weather turned from warm to boiling. The first thing we did when we arrived at our final destination was jump in the pool! Bliss!!

Followed by some great Dutch frikandellen, even more bliss :)

The next day, we had the party. There were Hello Kitty decorations, Hello Kitty cupcakes, Hello Kitty party hat, you name it... Oh yes, and very important: sate salad!

We even managed to get the dog to wear a party hat, though unfortunately not a Hello Kitty one. But I do love this picture, it's so funny!

I finally got to give my sister her present! And she loved it *very pleased*

Here is a closeup picture. It came out quite well in the end, even if I did manage to lose some of the thread LOL. The frame we ended up buying in Berlin, very neutral to make the cross stitch stand out more.

Once the party was finished and we'd all had gotten some sleep, it was time to head back home. It was a great trip with lots of friends and visits. I think I need another holiday to relax ;) And I got one more project done!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Tourist Tuesday - Berlin

Hello again!
Following last week's post, we took the train to Berlin from Prague. Our train was delayed which was quite lucky as that way we arrived about 2 hours after the German football team finished their welcome home event. There were about half a million people there, I'm so glad we didn't have to lug our stuff through that!

We stayed at the Westin Grand, it was the hotel from the Bourne movies! Great location, fun for a one-off.

We'd been here before so we just past all the sights and took lots of funny pics

More Bourne locations, remember this one?

Yes yes it's obvious, we're in Berlin!

We spotted this guy printing his own tshirts using one of these street thingies. Ingenious!

We also saw some remaining parts of the Wall

...and had dinner with some old friends at various places. And lots of schnitzel :)

We even had Kaiserschmarrn! Sooo good!

The last stop on our trip was more of a family holiday so nothing was visited, but it was an amazing trip with fun times and great food :)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Towel Fabric Toiletry Bag, or is it?

Good afternoon!
Let's just start off by saying that not every project will be a hit. When I made the onesies for the giveaway and the two zippered bags, I also made a toiletry bag out of some towel fabric I had leftover from the towel dress. The crafting that day went great and I got so much done:

Lots of great projects finished.

This is the toiletry bag. It has several flaws with it... First, it is way too small, somehow the measurements didn't work out very well.. 

I used a cheap shower curtain to line it as obviously towel fabric is not waterproof. Which seemed like a great idea at the time but once finished, the shower curtain got stuck in the zipper and in less than half a second I'd torn a hole in the lining...

It still looks cute though, so I think I might use it as a second baggie to put my swimsuit in when I come out of the pool or something.

It just goes to show, sometimes not everything goes according to plan. But as I've learned from Jo Brand at the Extra Slice, even a messup can be hilarious sometimes ;) Keep smiling!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Fabric Basket and Scissor Sock Present

Hi everyone!
It's been a tough week, it's been so busy that I actually missed a few emails that were sent to me a while back LOL. Ooops... Some of you nay remember, although it's been a REALLY long time, that a lovely lady in blogland sent me the coolest table set ever in 2011 as a gift. Just like that! I still use it every day and absolutely love it. And yes, you read correctly, 2011. Until a couple of weeks back, I had not sent her something back. One thing you have to know, is that this lady makes the most beautiful quilts so I wanted to make something that she could use but that would be up to her standards as well. Easier said than done... for years I was wondering what I could make for her. Just making an apron just wouldn't cut it. But as I wrote the last few posts here, an idea started to dawn on me... 

When I made all the scissor socks for myself, I also made a reversible fabric basket. I always had a pile of threads and cutoffs and never had a cute bin. Actually I did have an adorable little purple plastic bin but during one of my many clear outs I decided I didn't need it anymore and gave it to charity. So here I was, bin-less, and since I still had fabric leftover from the scissor socks, I made a basket to match.

Clearly this was a very craft day, you can see the three scissor socks, the basket, and the new ironing board cover. Even the new iron as I managed to break the old one that day. The only annoying thing that I have done yet again: the Halloween fabric looks great, but I made the cover the wrong way around! I stand on the other side of the board so I see it upside down all the time. Oh well, for the next one I will chose a print that can be seen from any angle.

This is the Halloween fabric for the ironing board cover. I bought about 3 yards at the time coz I loved it so much and now, not having finished the neverending quilt, I still have fabric leftover. So why not use it for this? But I degress, back to the original tale of making the gift!

Just case you forgot ;)

This is the fabric basket I made for Nancy, it has cotton fabric with printed sewing tools on the outside, and yellow fabric with lilies on the inside. It is of course reversible as well. On the side you see a scissor sock in the same fabric. I added a wavey line to the basket as well but it's not very obvious. I just wanted to give it a little extra.

The scissor sock was great fun to make. When I bought the sewing print fabric I was completely in love with it, but I could never find anything to match. I just love the cheerful result with the yellow lilies :) For the button I used a light blue polka dot star, and the ribbon is a dusty pink with white print saying 'Keep Calm and Sew On'. It was just too perfect! I used dusty pink cord and blue wooden beads at the bottom. The pics are not great as I was about to mail it out and realised I hadn't taken any yet.

The teacup was yellow as well, with yellow flowers on the front. This would be tricky to wrap but it arrived in one piece. :) The teaspoon as pearl hearts as a highlight.

All in all I think it was a lovely gift for a quilter, and when I saw the email (even if I did see it a few weeks later) I realised she loved it too. I'm so glad to have been able to sent something back at last!

In the end it took a while but finally I was able to make something for Nancy to thank her for that amazing table set all those years ago. *happy sigh*

And now that I know I have some fabrics that match this sewing print, I can make something else out of the leftovers. Ooooh project! Watch this space ;)

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Tourist Tuesday - Prague

Hi again everyone!
The last posts were not really sightseeing trips so I just blogged about them normally, but it's back to sightseeing! Maybe I should have named it Sightseeing Saturday or so, that would have made much more sense LOL. But back to the touristy bit :)

This summer we went on a 3-city trip, the first of which was Prague! Again I took way too many pictures so I had to seriously downsize but it was such an amazing trip :)

We had amazing weather, much to my liking as I was recovering from a severe cold and was still on anti-biotics. No alcohol for me unfortunately...

Just after we'd arrived in the city, I spotted the Tim Burton exhibition! Of course we had to go in... only here for like 10 mins and already something great. This is going to be a great trip! (I actually knew there would be an exhibition but I didn't know where exactly so imagine my surprise when we walked right into it!)

The absolute-must-have tourist picture with the medieval clock

We did a LOT of walking. I'll spare you the pics of me trying to hike up various hills, but the views were amazing :)

We went to one of the parks which had an 'Eiffel Tower'. The views on there were even better! Check this out, and with this sky we could see so far too :)

They have so many churches and cathedrals, it was so amazing! This was taken in the castle cathedral. We hurried inside as it started to pour down with rain...

....which didn't stop for the while, but it made for some really good photos :)

We walked across this bridge so many times, it kind of became out homing beacon. When we ended up on this river bank, of course we took some 'boring' photos, but being silly is much more fun!

After days of walking, I wasn't feeling too great (still had the cold after all) and we found this lovely terrace. It was probably the most expensive cup of tea ever, but it was also the best. Nothing beats a good cuppa.

Part of the breakfast in the hotel. Really, what's not to like? They had everything you could possibly want for breakfast.
Now don't get spooked, but on our last day in Prague we visited the Bone Church in Kutna Hora. A bit less than hour outside of Prague (in an un-airconditioned train), but so worth it!

It's a busy place so getting a piccie without a lot of people in it is tricky but I really like this one :)

We visited some more churches in Kutna Hora as well, this was another one of them.

It was the only city where we had to visit tons of things so the holiday was off to a good start :) From Prague we took the train to Berlin, but more about that next week!
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