Monthly Archives: February 2014

52 WEEK DRAWING CHALLENGE, ZOO ANIMAL

Ok I know I have neglected the blog this week. To be honest I haven’t been very well, and my house is suffering from mould…so it has been a crazy week boxing stuff up. But I did get chance to do my drawing, though this one took me forever, and I restarted it like 6 times. I am still not overly happy with it, but hey it was fun.

So I got a chance to try out a graphic pen,I used the Bamboo Pad and well its a lot harder than I remembered it was fun playing around with it. Plus I would recommend this for a first time user, its small and easy to use. I found this drawing quite difficult as getting texture and shading was like impossible. I’m not a natural drawer, it takes me a while to get a curved line to look ok so doing this drawing was a labour of love.

Anyway, lots of exciting DIY projects coming up next week. I finally finished our coffee shelf and the table which Richard made has been painted so finished picture posts next week. Here’s the DIY post of the coffee shelf that Richard posted of our original plan and inspiration. Hint there may be a gold theme…

 

Have a good weekend all and hope you enjoy my picture of a rhino.

 

Rhino-illustration



52 WEEK DRAWING CHALLENGE, A PLANT

Now I know what your thinking..a plant how exciting. But it is. I’ve have drawn for you today a tomato plant. I picked tomatoes because they are beautiful. Yep beautiful. If life gives you tomatoes make tomato chutney. Or relish. Or a pasta sauce.

 

 

So I did my usual thing with this, I sketched, I scanned, I drew with photoshop. I am seriously considering getting a graphics pen. I used one in Canada and it was so much more fun and easier. Recommendations welcomed.

 

So to the star of my blog post today… my tomato plant.

Tomato Plant

Check out PaperMama’s blog where I got this challenge from, and stay tuned for next week’s drawing which is going to be a zoo animal….



LONDON FASHION WEEK 2014, MY GOD YOU LOOKED INSANE

How amazing did London Fashion Week look? I am rather jealous I wasn’t able to go, but just looking at reviews is making my mouth water over some of the creations! Now I wouldn’t regard myself as a designer junky, most of my clothes come from charity shops or flea markets, but if I could afford it I would never say no to some of the pieces that were shown. I am so inspired from the colour, shapes and textures that I kind of want to re-invent my wardrobe. Perhaps after frugal February I could do a piece trying to re-create a look from Fashion week? That sounds fun. Anyway, I could have literally spent the whole day pinning and posting tons of images, but I have limited it as best as I can to my up most favourites from London Fashion Week.

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So these two are both from designer Holly Fulton.For Fall 2014.

I could have quite easily put her whole collection up. Known for her Deco prints, and hand drawn designs,she didn’t disappoint. I’m just in awe to be honest. So the collection was inspired by  1929 silent movie ‘Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera’ and I couldn’t fault any of her pieces, I think I would wear them all. I am especially in love with the coat in the bottom image with the hand prints. Wishlist please. See the rest of the collection here.

 

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Roksanda Ilincic Fall 2014. Her work revealed a collection of strong bold lines, mashed up with elegance and striking colours. A perfect match of evening and day outfits. Her style of clothing looks effortlessly beautiful. With this outfit, the subtle blue accents with gold belting edge up the look giving it a twist on a classic outfit. See the rest of her collection here and drool over the subtle geometric patterns and the contrasting bright fur accents.

 

 

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Michael van der Ham’s Fall 2014 collection mixed a 60’s colour palette with a 90’s grunge layered look. Using a mix of fabrics, he created beautiful layered pieces. I love this outfit in particular, the bright yellow paired with the white and pale blue made it stand out to me in and instant. So simple yet edgy with an almost crochet like texture. Check out the rest of his collection here.

 

 

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Here we have Erdem Fall 2014. The collection created by Erdem Moralioglu mixes femininity with bold colour and shapes. This dress in particular caught my eye with the wing backed sleeves and black accent collar over the lovely blue. His collection features largely a lot of strikingly dark colours, that paired with the edgy shape and cut outs of the pieces gives an almost oxymoron of harsh lines mixed with feminine accents. To see the rest of the collection, look here.

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Now last but certainly not least we have Vivienne Westwood for Vivienne Westwood Red Label. What can I say this women is a GOD.  Every time I see a new collection of hers, I am in love. With the show featuring an almost feminine suit like manner it  escalated into a subtle punk edginess that we all love and know Vivienne Westwood to do. Especially with a triangle patterned pair of tights that were paired with some of the collection. With this outfit, although you may think slightly more demure compared to the rest of the collection which you can see here, I was drawn to the striking design on the front and paired with the pearl necklace, flowers and glasses I loved the layered edge secretarial look. It’s an outfit I would gladly wear day after day for any occasions.

 

So they are some of the clothes/Designers that I loved. Who knows maybe in the future I can try to re-create one of those looks.

 

Happy Thursday all.

 

All images came from the LFW Website here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



FRUGAL FEBRUARY IS STILL GOING

So I thought I would do an update on how frugal Feb is going. Thankfully, we are still doing fine. I have never cooked more things from scratch in my life, also who knew I had so many different kinds of flour in the cupboard.

A few ways we have saved money;

Tinned tomatoes: I have been making pasta sauces using tinned tomatoes as my base. Can of tomatoes costs about 34p. I just get plain old non-brand tomatoes. When it comes down to it I couldn’t tell enough difference to accept paying double. They are great though, chopped for soups and sauces, or whole on toast with scrambled eggs.

A whole chicken: Instead of just buying the good bits I want, I brought a whole chicken. From this one chicken which I paid around £5.00 for we got a lovely roast, chicken salad, chicken soup (using hand-made stock from the carcass) and chicken pie from it.

Flour: Now like everyone I go through phases of baking, where I buy the ingredients, make it once then put them in the back of my cupboard. In my cupboard I have bread flour, gluten-free flour, self-raising, plain and even flour for pasta making. So over the last couple of weeks I have made fresh bread, cakes, croissants, pies, pizza, home-made onions rings. The list is endless. It quite a bit of effort, but it’s meant me and Richard haven’t spent a fortune when we have wanted something in particular or sweet. We have posted some of the recipes too, from our Valentines day week.

Flowers: Ok so I have this love for having fresh flowers in the house. I know what your thinking. They are a  luxury item that I don’t really need. But what can I say fresh flowers make me happy. But I have found a way to keep my habit going on a budget. So like fresh food, fresh flowers get marked down in the evenings in supermarkets, also quite often on market stalls too. Go to your supermarket around 7 ish and you might just be lucky enough to pick up a bargain. Last night I spent in total £2.15 on four bunches of flowers. Ranging from a small bouquet of pink roses, to orange-yellow and red tulips mixed with white roses. My house now looks lovely and colourful and I saved £13.85. In the summer I will be home growing my own flowers again. Below are some of the flowers I grew last summer, it was my first time and I have to say I loved doing it. It was a challenge, but much cheaper than buying fresh flowers, plus I could change it daily depending on my mood.

Home--grown-flowers

Home cinema: So for entertainment, Richard set up our projector, borrowed some films off friends, made pop corn from kernels we had ages ago, puffed up the bed and we watched movies all night. Cheaper then going to the cinema plus you get to wear jogging bottoms. We may or may not be watching the Star Wars films..

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If you have any tips or cheap meal ideas do leave a comment and hope everyone is having a nice February (as if it’s already half way through February though right?)

Anyway happy Tuesday all.



52 WEEK DRAWING CHALLENGE, WEEK 2

Ok so it’s week two of the challenge and I know Richard hasn’t done his images, hes literally been driving himself insane doing this picture, and because I’m worried about his stress levels I’ve let him off the challenge. Slacker. I’m kidding… anyway Happy Valentines day everyone, I hope everyone is having a nice day.

This weeks drawing challenge was for me to draw something that represents me. So as I have mentioned before, I have a degree in Fine art photography. The camera I use the most is my Mamiya RB67. I love this beast, its heavy, its mechanical and it shoots beautiful medium format images. I can’t use it without a tripod due to its size and it takes me twice as long to focus as its opposites and you’re looking down the view finder, rather than directly looking through as you do in SLR cameras. But I love it. So here it is. I sketched it out roughly then scanned it in and drew over it with Photoshop. So pretty much after I build my image, I just kind of whooshed some colour over it, then I played around a bit. So here are my variations I guess. Oh and next week I will be drawing a plant, try to keep your excitement down please…

Have a good weekend all.

 

mamiya-done

mamiya-stripedmamiya-spottymamiya-pink

 

 



SECRET STEAKHOUSE STEAK RUB RECIPE

Our final recipe for Valentines day is an amazing steakhouse rub that I found from Chef John from www.FoodWishes.com I follow him on youtube and his recipes are always amazing so check him out.

I made this in bulk a few weeks ago as we love our steak, and Im ignoring frugal February and treating Sophie to a massive rump steak tonight. However it works with any steak and tastes amazing.

Ingredients:

2 tsp rock salt (I’d recommend Maldon sea salt)
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika

Combine everything and season your steak generously on both sides. Simple, but adds so much flavor and tastes just like getting the most expensive steak from a fancy restaurant.

Check out his website for his cooking method and other amazing things.



PUFF PASTRY STUFFED SAVOURY HERB CHEESE CROISSANT THINGYS

Hey guys so this is our fourth recipe for our Valentines day recipe ideas week thing. I’m good with coming up with names aren’t I. Anyway, for the recipe I pretty much made it up as I went along but it came out amazingly well. So I had some puff pastry left over and figured I would try some experimenting.

Ingredients:

I used half a pack of frozen Puff pastry it makes about 10

1 egg

For the filling you can use whatever your heart desires or whats lying around in the fridge.

Here’s what I used

Small handful of fresh spinach

1 cup of chorizo sausage cut up

1/2 cup of ham

1 tomato chopped up

Herb Cheese:

1 1/2 cups of grated cheese

1 crushed garlic clove

large pinch of salt and pepper

1/2  tbsp of dry italian herbs or fresh herbs chopped finely.

1 tbsp of olive oil

 

1. OK firstly lets pre heat our ovens to gas mark 5

2. Right for my herb cheese, grab your pestle and mortar, or just a bowl and something to smoosh ingredients down and chuck in your cheese. add the oil and seasonings then crush your garlic into the mix.  That’s the herb cheese bit done.

3. Now get your pastry and roll it out thinly on a lightly floured surface. Now if I was a professional chef, or a regular baker I would tell you how thin, but alas I’m not. But don’t fret I am not leaving you in the lurch here is a picture..

flat

 

4. Cut your pastry into triangles to form the base of your croissant. Cue another picture.

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5. Now start to fill your croissants. Don’t over fill as the plan is to roll them into shape, and to keep them intact.

Stuffed-croissants

 

6. Now to roll your croissants. The easiest way I do it is just to roll from the bottom (wider end of the triangle) to the top, and pinch together the ends to minimise ooze out. here a picture…

 

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7. Do the rest of your croissants then beat your egg and brush over the croissants. Place on some baking parchment and put in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until puffy and brown.

 

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There you have it. Savoury stuffed croissants. The variations are endless. You could do brie and cranberry, apple, goats cheese and walnut, a whole turkey dinner stuffed in a croissant. Anything. I think next I might try some sweet ones. Grapefruit, brown sugar and honey maybe…who knows.

 

Well I hope you enjoyed our recipe for today. Make something special for your sweetheart. Tune into tomorrow for our last recipe for Valentines day!

 

 

 



REALLY SIMPLE NUTELLA COOKIES

Third day of our Valentines treats,  I’ve decided to cheat and go for an exceedingly simple cookie recipe using everyone’s favourite (except someones partner who shall remain nameless) Nutella!

Turns out that Sophie hides a jar at the back of the cupboard, unlucky for her I now know her hiding place!

I got this recipe from www.allrecipes.co.uk and it was uploaded by EllenHolmes.

Ingredients:

  • 70g plain flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 275g Nutella
  • 60g smashed hazelnuts

Measure each item out and then throw into a bowl, mix together with a wooden spoon. I kept it close to the hob that was cooking dinner to heat the nutella slightly to help it blend better. Using hazelnuts increased the taste and adds a nice crunch.

Mixing-Bowl

Once combined you just spoon it out in equal measures onto a baking sheet (don’t do Sophie’s trick, make sure the paper is the right way up)

Baking

You can smoosh them down but I like my cookies gooey in the middle so leave them quite thick. Into the oven at 180 or gas mark 4 for about 10-15 mins. (Our oven takes ages so we always almost double the time)

Out-the-oven

Pull them out of the oven when they are still slightly gooey and transfer to a wire tray for cooling, they will go hard as they cool.

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Throw onto a plate and you’re done! Only 1 bowl to wash, a spoon and reuse the baking parchment! Simple!

Not sure what Sophie has for tomorrow but make sure you check it out as im sure it will be delicious.



PRETZELTHREE WAYS

So for my second day of Valentine treats, I am doing Pretzels. Pretzels are Richard’s favourite treat so I learnt to make them a couple of years ago, they don’t always look the part but they are soo tasty. So here is the recipe that works for me.

I follow a basic pretzel dough recipe, then decide on my Pretzel toppings. Today I will show you a plain salted pretzel, cinnamon sugar-coated and chocolate dipped sprinkled one. So let’s get started.

 

Ingredients:

For the pretzel dough.

7g active dry yeast

1  1/4 cups of warm water

1 tsp white sugar

5 cups of all-purpose flour

1  1/2 cups of white sugar

 

For the bath/ egg wash:

1/2 cup of bicarbonate soda in 4 cups of hot water

or

1 beaten egg

 

Toppings:

Plain Salted

Cinnamon Sugar: 2 tbsp cinnamon with 1 cup of white sugar

Chocolate Dipped :Melted chocolate 500g and sprinkles of your choice.

Directions

1. Firstly dissolve the yeast and 1 tsp of sugar in a 1/4 cup of warm water and let it stand for about 8-10 minutes

2. Mix together the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar and the salt. Creating a well in the centre of your dry ingredients pour in the yeast mixture.  Mix and form into a dough, if it looks a little dry add half a tbsp of water, add a little more if needed.

3. Knead the dough for about 7-8 minutes. If you need help on kneading google Paul Hollywood.  After kneading ,lightly oil a bowl and place your dough in and cover. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

4.Pre-heat oven to 230 degrees C, gas mark 7 and grease two baking trays or using baking parchment.

5. Once risen, on a lightly floured surface divide your dough into 12 equal pieces, and roll out into a long rope like shape. To get the pretzel shape take each end in your hand, twist at the top and  lower it down with your twisted ends in the air, and twist once more and place the ends in the middle of the pretzel. Thats how I do it, if that’s not too confusing.

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6.Now here you can either choose to do the bicarbonate soda water bath or the egg wash or both. I tend to pick one or the other. For the water bath, just simply mix the bicarbonate soda in hot water and  dip the pretzel in, then put straight onto your baking tray. For the egg wash, beat an egg and brush the egg onto the pretzel (while it’s on the tray). For plain pretzels sprinkle with salt and then pop them in the oven. For the sweet pretzels, leave with just the egg wash or water bath and put straight in the oven.

7. Now I cook the pretzels for about 6 minutes then flip them over and do the other side. but look for a nice golden brown texture.

8. Once cooked take the pretzels out and put them on a cooling rack, or if having them plain eat them while they are warm. So yummy.

 

 

pretzels-plain

Right now for the sweet toppings.

Sweet Cinnamon :cinnamon

1.For the cinnamon sugar mixture, melt a 2tbsp of butter in a pan, and mix the sugar and cinnamon together on a large tray.

2.Brush the melted butter on the pretzels, both sides then go to town on powdering your pretzels with the cinnamon sugary goodness, dib dab both sides, serve and enjoy.

Chocolate dipped with sprinkles:pretzel-confetti

1.For the chocolate dipped pretzels, heat a saucepan of water up with a glass or heat proof bowl on top.

2.Break up the chocolate and put in the heat proof bowl. As the water comes to a boil turn the heat off and watch the chocolate melt. It doesn’t take much for chocolate to melt, and this lets it melt smoothly with a good texture.

3.While the chocolate is melting, get a tray and put what ever sprinkles you might like on the tray. I went for strawberry rocks, silver and purple flakes and hundreds and thousands. Once the chocolate has melted, dip half the pretzel in, then dip the chocolate section into your sprinkles. Shake off the excess and there you have it, party looking pretzels!!

 

So here are my three pretzels, so yes they kind of look like a child may have done them ( I never said I was culinary genius)  but they are really tasty and Richard loved them. They make a cute gift for you Valentine, whether they like sweet, chocolate or savoury it’s a recipe you can try out that doesn’t cost a fortune.

Hope everyone has had a nice Tuesday. Tomorrow its cookies for your sweet.

 



FOOD OF LOVE OR LOVE OF FOOD

So as I’m sure everyone knows, Valentines day is on Friday, and love is in the air. For the  last couple of years me and Richard have gone to the Cotwolds to my home town, and had a 7 ,yes a 7 course Valentines day meal at my favourite pub. But Frugal February has gotten us, and with the cost of fuel, and the lavish dinner we decided its best this year to give it a miss. Instead we are doing handmade gifts and having a night in with a home-cooked meal. (to be cooked by Richard).

I love Valentines day, I love the smell of fresh flowers everywhere, women with smiles on the faces wondering who will be their valentine and men looking worryingly on whats the right chocolate or card to buy their true love. But any way before I get sucked into roses and perfume I have been looking into ways to treat the men/women in your life on a budget and what better way than by food.

For the next five days I will post a found recipe to make your partner swoon. Todays recipe is a twist on Nutella Hand Pies done by Caroline Zhang for Pass the cocoa blog. Check out their other awesome recipes too.

Right so here’s the recipe with my few added changes.

 

For the Crust
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
⅔ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup cold water

 

For the Filling

⅓ cup Nutella
1 medium ripe banana, sliced (⅓ cup sliced strawberries or blueberries would also work)
*I added some peanut butter to hit my peanut butter craving! *
Assembly
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup raw sugar ( I used brown sugar than grilled it after I cooked the pocket to caramelise the sugar.)
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Make the crust. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the vegetable oil and water and mix until just combined. Do not over-mix. My house is seriously cold, hence my Nuttela lacking its usual gooey consistency.Ingridients-
  3. Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Cut out heart shapes with a cookie cutter. I used circle cutters.Wooden-pinPastry-cut
  4. Place half of the hearts on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between each.
  5. Place about 2 teaspoons of Nutella on the hearts. Place a slice of banana on top of the Nutella (or a slice of strawberries or 3-4 blueberries.) I added a teaspoon of peanut butter before I put the chopped bananas on.
  6. Cover each of the hearts with the remaining hearts. Seal the edges of the hearts by pressing with a fork.
  7. Brush the tops of the pies with the egg, and sprinkle with the raw sugar. ( I used  brown sugar)fini
  8. Bake at 425  degrees (gas mark 6) for 5 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees (gas mark 4). Bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until the pies are golden brown.  Afterwards I put the pies under the grill to caramelise the brown sugar on top a little. For about 2-3minutes.
  9. Let cool and serve.

yum

Then eat. These were seriously good, I will be making another batch for Valentines day too. Perhaps you could wrap them up in a little box with a love note for your valentine?

 

Once again thanks to Pass the Cocoa for the awesome recipe! There are tons of other Valentines day ideas on there so go over and take a look!

Happy Monday, come back tomorrow to see the next Valentines recipe ill be trying.