Hi there :)

Happy New Year!
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas (if you celebrate Christmas), and had a wonderful ‘holiday’ if you don’t.

unfortunately there’s been some serious Illness diagnosed for a close family member so I haven’t written here consistently for a little while.

On top of that after Christmas my very old little lady Cat (she was 21 years old) had to be put to sleep due to heart problems, so all in all not a great start!

I might take this topic up at a later date xx

I love writing, as much as an expression of my personality it’s like therapy for me.
It’s a good place for me to explain what I’ve been researching or thinking about lately and really mould my opinions as I am writing them.

Also once I’ve got it down it means the mumbo jumbo in my head comes to some kind of understandable order.
I had a lovely Christmas day with my family although one person was missing because they were too poorly to join in, but I was determined to have fun for them.

My Christmas was not traditional I spent it at my father’s place of work!
He works on a boat as an engineer and every other year the crew take it in turns to do the ‘Christmas shift’.

‘Oh no how awful’ I hear you groan.
Well I can tell you now that being catered for by professional Chefs, having an endless supply of wine and a cinema screen practically to yourself eased the pain!

It was great!

We are very Lucky to experience a different type of Christmas with all the crew members, some of their family’s and Philippino staff all eating together in one large dining room.

The staff were Merry, children were exploring excitedly and asking for ‘Monsters University’ and ‘Frozen’ to be played in the cinema.

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So after a giant Roast dinner…. (This is my brothers plate I might just add!!)

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That’s exactly where I spent my evening, with mince-pie and wine in hand in the cinema watching Gravity, Frozen and Monsters University;¬†feeling Christmassy ūüôā

New Year was spent with family watching films and reflecting on the past year and looking at what lies ahead.

I wish you all good Health, Laughter, adventures and Compassion for those less fortunate for 2014! xx

New Year, New Ideas..

The New Year calls for New Ideas!

I don’t think I’ve got any particular New Years Resolutions but I do have upcoming¬†plans for my Blog.

I will keep reviewing products for you, here are a little selection of LUSH products that I will be reviewing.

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I plan to add to my product reviews including nail polishes face products, my favourites from 2013 including some of my own tips and tricks.

I’m also hoping to get sent some natural products (like aromatherapy oils, Carrier oils etc)¬†to make home-made¬†beauty products and test them out for you and perfect the ‘recipes’.

I’m also looking at signing with a review testing company so I can have more random items to review ūüôā

I will be writing about the view from the Shard in London.

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I’ve had so many ideas for my Hot Topic Blogs where I¬†share with you research I’ve done, discoveries I’ve made, things I’ve come across in my life/on the Internet and hopefully some or all of them will interest you.

HOT TOPIC IDEAS

*Fitspiration, including my goals and Healthy Recipe ideas

*ASMR

*My journey learning about animal welfare in the farming industry and becoming a vegetarian

*A Spiritual journey

*Learning and finding new subjects that I find fascinating

*Meditation

*Animal Re-homing Centres and ‘the bigger picture’

*What makes you Happy? The simple things in life

*Ambition

I have no idea what order they will come out in, but I am trying to be good and remember to take photos for you! ūüôā

Best Friends Christmas Present – and Gift wrapping ideas xx

Me and one of my Best friends¬†have been Friends for many years, for Christmas presents we’ve done everything from nice toiletries, to Chocolates, trinkets and jewelry¬†etc.

They all make lovely gifts but this year I really wanted to take my time over this gift idea.

I’ve made a very personal Christmas box for her.

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¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† I apologise for the red hue to all the pictures my festive bed throw seems¬†to¬†have interfered with¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†the¬†photos ūüėÄ

For the purpose of this Post the presents are wrapped incase my friend sees them before Christmas¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† (I don’t want to ruin the suprise)!

I took a Medium sized Box and covered it with my chosen wrapping paper…

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I lined the inside with brown paper.

I Wrapped the items in a mixture of wrapping paper, brown paper and white tissue paper, and used lots of festive ribbons.

Here’s what the box looks like when you open the lid….

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On top you can see a Great British Puds Baking Book that I’ve wrapped, my friend loves baking and the Great British Bake off so I thought she’d really enjoy that.

I’ve lifted out the Book so you can see what’s underneath…
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Down the left hand side you can see three Home made preserves, Apple Chutney, ¬†piccalilli and Onion Relish……

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I covered them with Festive tissue paper and Wrapping paper, here’s a better picture so you can see the print on the tissue paper…

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In the middle section (top to bottom) are two His & Hers gardeners mugs, they are so sweet they come with a coaster that you can also sit on top of your mug to keep the bugs out if you’re out side.

‘His’ mug has pictures of a¬†wheel barrow, green welly boots, bumblebees and trowel, ‘Her’ mug has polka dot Welly boots, flower pots and a bird they are so sweet.

Below that, wrapped in tissue paper is a hanging decorative heart home accessories with a lovely quote on it.

Also wrapped in tissue paper a Retro terracotta bread warmer, you put in the oven to heat up when your cooking tea then put into the bottom of your bread basket to keep your rolls warm.

I’ve also included a tag with this gift as an explanation or an ‘I am a’…. label.

It looks really rustic and farm kitcheny I thought It’d be nice when having Soup and Rolls.

Below that is a hand-made¬†scented candle, I made with bits I bought off eBay¬†and¬†set the wax in a flowery vintage bone china milk jug, it’s so pretty(also contains a tag with information about the gift); and I wrapped it with a made with (love) ribbons¬†also from eBay.

I’m really happy with how it turned out.

On the right hand side is¬†a candle heated mini choc fondue set and cellophane wrapped chocolate buttons, great for camping holidays and black outs (my luxury item I take when I go to Centre parcs)…

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Also wrapped in brown paper and a point setter themed ribbon tucked down the side is cookie cutters that spell out the word L O V E.

The inside of the lid of the box was looking a bit bare so I found some Christmas Quotes from one of her Favourite Authors Jane Austen and stuck them in, I’m sure she’ll appreciate the sentiment she’s a definite lover of classic literature. ūüôā

I added Extra Christmassyness with Candy canes, Snowflakes, Foam hearts from a craft shop (in Red and white) and Fur cones I had collected in Autumn.

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Last but not least I tied a big gold Ribbon around the box and hole punched a Christmas tag and added it, it looks lovely.

Happy Gift Wrapping every one!

Christmas Craft :) Ideas

Some people will think November is too early to be thinking about christmas, but the build up and planning for me is what makes christmas so great!

For any one that doesn’t know me Christmas is my favourite time of year, no matter how old I get I still feel as excited as I did as a child.

I love planning my Christmas Gift list and getting into the Christmas spirit.

Here are a few pictures to get the ball rolling. xx

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Chutneys, Jams and Pickles

I promised in my last post about preserving I’d include some recipes of preserves I’ve made so here you go ūüôā plum jam and Piccalilli

When the Bullis (a type of small plum) were ripe I foraged as much as I could, washed, halved and stoned them and put them in the freezer so I could make jam at a later date.

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I decided to make piccalilli to use up some courgettes, marrow and green tomatoes that have been kicking around.

There are many ways of sterilizing your clean glass jars for preserving.

The way I do it, is to put my dish washer onto a Hot cleaning programme.

They come out of the dish washer dry, and I fill them while both jam and jars are still hot.

RECIPE FOR SIMPLE WILD PLUM JAM

ingredients:

3kg washed,halved stoned plums

2kg Sugar (Adjust sugar to taste, sugar amount depends on plum size)

20g butter

Also needed:

Wear an apron, boiling jam can spit and burn you! Set of weighing scales, Large Sauce pan, wooden spoon, 1 large metal tbsp, Sterilised glass jars, wax discs to seal the jam, Lids or cellophane disc & rubber band with decorative disc(optional),Spatula, Funnel and Ladel,¬†Jam labels or white sticky labels and either a permanent¬†marker or a biro¬†(I don’t recommend a gel pen as they smudge).

Method:

1) Add plums and sugar to a large pan on a low heat, simmer for 30 mins.

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2) Then bring to a rapid boil for 15 mins.

3) Remove any scum that forms with a metal spoon and discard,

stir the mixture regularly with your wooden spoon.

4) To test whether your jam is ‘set’ I have two handy tips,

Holding your wooden spoon upright touching the bottom of the pan,you drag your wooden spoon through¬†the jam in a straight line if there’s¬†a moment when you can see the bottom of the pan before the jam closes the gap again that’s a pretty good indication it’s thick enough and set.

The other  tip to try is using a chilled plate spoon a little of your mixture onto it, leave for 5 mins then using your finger draw a line in it, if a skin forms this is another good indication it has set!

5) Stir the butter into the jam (this will dissipate any remaining scum).

6) Allow the jam to cool a little then using ladel pour into the warm sterilised glass jars using the funnel. Use spatula to get any remaining jam out.

Then top with a wax disk/ grease proof paper disc while still warm. Once cool top with lids or cellophane disc, rubber band and pretty paper or material disc.

7) Don’t forget to label your jars with the name, date and if you like something personal like where you foraged the fruit.

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RECIPE FOR PICCALILLI

Ingredients:

1kg/2lb chopped veg, cucumber/ courgette, marrow, carrots, peppers,

pickling onions, cauliflower, beans, green tomatoes, (pieces no bigger than a sugar cube)

125g/5oz salt

75g/3oz  Caster Sugar

15g/ half oz dry mustard powder

5ml/1 tsp ground ginger

600ml/1 pt malt vinegar

25g/1 oz cornflour

15ml/ 1 tbsp turmeric

Also needed:

Wear an apron, boiling preserves can spit and burn you! Set of weighing scales, colander, Large Sauce pan, wooden spoon, 1 large metal tbsp, Sterilised glass jars, wax discs to seal the jam, Lids or cellophane disc & rubber band with decorative disc(optional),Spatula, Funnel and Ladel,¬†Jam labels or white sticky labels and either a permanent¬†marker or a biro¬†(I don’t recommend a gel pen as they smudge).

Method:

1) Take small chopped veggie pieces and layer in a sauce pan, veggies layer table salt veggie layer table salt and so on, until all your veggies ar in the pan.

2) Top up with cold tap water and leave over night.

3) The next day rinse thoroughly (I found the use of a colander helped alot),

4) Mix sugar, Mustard and ginger (BUT NOT TUMERIC OR CORNFLOUR) with 450 ml of vinegar in a large saucepan, bring to the boil.

5) Add veggies, return to the boil; cover and simmer gently until tender-crisp (NOT cooked through NOT mushy) for about 10 mins.

6) Blend cornflour and turmeric with remaining vinegar, add to the pan, return to the boil for about 2 mins.

7) Using Ladel Pack veggies into sterilised jars, with the funnel in it,use spatula to get any remaining sauce, Seal and label. Leave at least 2 wks before opening for flavours to mature.

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¬†Check in again with me soon for more updates, Recipes, photos Reviews and Projects ūüôā xx

Snow day!

So the snow has hit where I am staying, I cooked brunch from my parents and we were talking about how fortunate we are that our cupboards are stocked and about the elderly and homeless people that this weather might affect badly.

Also people that have to travel alot,theres alot of debate about the roads not being gritted when it’s needed here.

Here are some of my tips to keep warm and well in the cold months;
If I start getting the sniffles I immediately reach for the high strength vitamin C, I like to eat alot of mixed veg but especially dark green veg like spinach(stir fry is my fave).
Food in the freezer is a must incase you get snowed in,I eat lots of garlic onions and chillies to fend away the lergy! Having tinned fruit and veg and a good stock of pulses and dried pasta and rice is a brilliant mixture to make meals with to fall back on when your fresh food starts to run low.(Check out my previous Post on ‘Mushroom Risotto’)
We also freeze milk (in plastic bottles).Hot drinks whether it’s cuppa soups, tea,coffee,hot squash or hot chocolate is great for warming you up from the inside.Also eating hot food,will warm you up, porridge is a good one for breakfast(with nuts or dried fruit especially).

layers are a must I even tuck my trousers into my socks, ūüôā Toe tees (thick house socks-sometimes with rubber grips on the bottom) are great too, but the proper ones (I think they are a brand name like thinsulate) are brilliant!They really do keep your feet warm.
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If you’re on a low-budget heat one room close all the doors, block any drafts and use that room all day, take your projects into that room take your blankets and get ready for a cozy home day!

Putting your clothes on the radiator before you get dressed and your PJs on the radiator before you go to bed is a great one.
In the colder months I love my hot water bottles,yes that’s right I said bottle(s)I like to rotate them and I like to put two in our bed before we get in so It’s all toasty! ūüôā

A quick warning most hot water bottle instructions advise you to NOT use boiling water from a kettle, and quite often the covers on a hot water bottle aren’t thick enough so you may have to wrap it in a towel or small blanket.

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What tips do you have for the colder months?

We’ve been getting on with alot of indoor projects,because of the weather.
Although I did go outside to hang out more of my ‘seedy bird feeders’ (check prev post about how to make them),Don’t forget when the ground is frozen the birds food sources will be scarce and they will be grateful for your scraps. Also I attempted a snow dog sculpture and an octopus!The snow dog still needs a head (the snow is a bit dry not the best for snow sculptures) and my octopus still needs a face, but I had to stop for a hot chocolate and warm up because I couldn’t feel my feet!

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We had Jerk chicken rice and peas and roast mediterranean veg for tea last night (just what you need when it’s cold outside)!
I’ve also been looking alot at You tube and have found some really lovely videos, some that make you feel warm and fuzzy and inspired and grateful.
x
CLICK THE VIDEO LINK TO WATCH A LOVELY WARM AND FUZZY VIDEO:
xxx

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8tzswROt70