31.5.12

52 in 52: May edition


As we are now almost halfway through the year it's time to catch up with how I'm doing with my 52 in 52 list!

I think I've made a little more progress with no3, making my life more 'green'. I have become recycling mad, experimented with vegetarian cooking, started upcycling corks, hooked up with Step Down Sunday on Kate's blog and bought a plant and a few herbs to grow myself.

Mum & I will have hopefully achieved no14 by the end of July, running a stall at a fair! We'll be doing the Narborough Fun Day in Norfolk. I have a lot of creating to do this next month!

I made not be even halfway close to having a book full of recipes (no 15) but this month I have managed to add a few to my recipe page.

Goal 36, at least one night out a month with girls is going swimmingly! Ha ha :)

No 39, quality time with my family.. I've just spent a lovely to days with my dad. Yesterday we explored Oxford's Botanic Gardens and today we visited Bath. I'll be sharing pictures soon!

Go to a few museums is goal 50 and today we visited the No1 Royal Crescent Museum in Bath you can't take photographs whilst inside but you can have a sneak peek here.

How are you doing with your goals for 2012?

30.5.12

Friendship Bracelets



I made these friendship bracelets one evening last week after discovering this great tutorial. I made these with embroidery thread but I've got tons of balls of wool lying around so I might make some with wool next time.


I also want to have a go at these from Honestly... WTF as they look fairly simple to do but are quite striking!

I am sooooo glad that I have my crafty mojo back ;)



29.5.12

Books By My Bedside...


I actually took this picture a few days ago, and, as you may have read here have since given up on Anjelica.

I have owned The Beat Generation Writers for quite some time now but it has been languishing in the cupboard. I recently dug it out to dip back in to. It features Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, LeRoi Jones, Carolyn Cassady and many others.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver is a re-read. This book is pretty mind-blowing. How Barbara and her family managed to eat locally and sustainably, growing much of their own food, is so inspiring although certainly not practicable for everyone!

Finally I have Margaret Thatcher; The Downing Street Years by my bed. The first ever female British Prime Minister. The Iron Lady. The woman whose beliefs and political will shaped my early life... how could I not want to read this? Maggie Thatcher fascinates me so when I spotted this in the book store I had to pick it up. I read biographies last year on William Pitt (the youngest Prime Minister the UK has ever had) and Queen Victoria so I think I've gotten a taste for books on iconic people wielding political power!

Have you read any of these? Book Club?



28.5.12

On blogging and changing...



I recently read a post on changing over at The Wiegands where Casey talks about how your blog evolves and changes as you grow older. How sometimes you might post something that later you disagree with or makes you cringe. How your readers are literally watching you grow up.

I sat back and though about Casey's post and how my blog has changed over the last couple of years and how much it is evolving currently and then I left this comment..

"I think that's it's a positive thing that our blogs change with us, that are thoughts and opinions can evolve in our little space. We are making ourselves more accountable to ourselves by putting our thoughts and feelings out there... it allows us to see ourselves in a different light and to look back at past posts and see if that is the person that we wish to be. I think that my blog is helping me to shape a happier, better me."


Blogging has given me creative inspiration, a platform on which to find my voice, the desire to get into photography, to try out different things and to share my depression. I really do feel that it has become a part of my journey to become the woman that I wish to be and for that I am thankful.




27.5.12

Why I'm raising money for the Epilepsy Society

Hi guys!

As you may have noticed this month I've been raising money through my blog and shop for the Epilepsy Society, a charity close to my family's heart.

My step-dad, Simon, was ill for a good couple of years with doctors being unable to diagnose him, only able to say that it looked like epilepsy but they were completely sure that it wasn't. One hospital doctor watched him fit multiple times in one minute (potentially fatal) and then declared that nothing was wrong with him! You can imagine how scared and frustrated we all were. Eventually he was referred to a specialist epilepsy hospital in Buckinghamshire, run by none other than the Epilepsy Society, where they were finally able to diagnose him with NEAD or NES as it is also known. Finally getting his diagnosis meant that Simon could finally get the support that he needed which is, of course, the first step to being able to live with an illness or disability.

Unfortunately little is know about the cause of NEAD and there is no specific medication to help control it. The Epilepsy Society is conducting ongoing research into this condition as well as epilepsy itself which is why mum and I want to raise money for this particular charity.

Here's how you can help!
I'm donating 50% of the proceeds of all sales from my shop until the end of May and I'll donate an extra £1 for each new follower I gain on my blog! So... if you don't want to shop but you do want to help just click 'follow' on  either GFC, Bloglovin or HelloCotton in my sidebar!




Step Down Sunday

Step Down Sunday

This week I found this blog and her weekly feature Step Down Sunday. I was instantly up for joining her challenge! Kate is a Quaker living in the North of England whose group have created a program called Step Down to help their members live more sustainably and to collectively lower their carbon footprint. Kate is doing the Step Down Sunday link up on her blog to share her personal week by week attempts to live in a more sustainable way so I figured that this week would be a good time to join her!

Having pledged to blog vegetarian recipes all week, obviously we've been eating veggie at home too. So this past week, I've bought no meat. None at all. Which means my carbon emissions this week were lower than they usually would be. It also means that my wallet is better off as I wasn't buying meat for every meal. It's been a stretch coming up with something different every day but that was part of the fun and creating new habits is never easy. I found that I had more energy this week too, although how much of that was my extra vegetable intake and how much of it was the final arrival of the sun I don't know!

Have you reduced your carbon footprint in some way in the last week? Did you try veggie for a week?



26.5.12

Link Love

For this weeks link love I thought I'd share some tasty looking vegetarian recipes that have caught my eye...
falafel pita
Make your own falafel here
Roasted vegetable lasagne
yummy vegetable lasagne here
aubergine Parmigiana
Aubergine parmigiana found here
potato knish, two ways
These knish look incredible
Broccolini Salad
And this salad looks delicious.

Have a great weekend!




PS.Take a peek at the shop! New goodies now available and if you buy through May you'll help me raise money for the Epilepsy Society!

25.5.12

Being Grateful


Sometimes I have to remind myself to take time out, to appreciate the little things that make me happy as they happen, in the now, sometimes I just need to remember to take a moment to be grateful. I had a moment of realisation the other evening when I was sat at home painting.. it was the first time I'd picked up a paintbrush in almost two years and I remember suddenly thinking "I'm happy"... and do you know what? This week, for the most part, I have been!
I'm so grateful that the sun has finally decided to shine on our little island!
I'm glad that I took the vegetarian pledge as I feel as though I have more energy this week due to my upped veggie intake!
I'm grateful that I haven't had to wear my coat all week!
I'm grateful I dug out my paints the other night, I enjoyed painting again so much.
I'm grateful for Tom, he makes me smile, cooks me fajitas and gives me the biggest hugs when I need them.
I'm grateful for my family. We have A this weekend and my dad is coming to visit early next week.
I'm grateful that I'm feeling more balanced too.






If you have a story of something that you're grateful for that you'd like to share link up!

The humble jacket potato

Perfect jacket potato
(via)

For day 5 of National Vegetarian Week I bring you the humble jacket potato. With jacket potatoes your topping combinations are endless

Being cheese addicts in this house it's no wonder that Tom, A & my favourite toppings all involve cheese! Tom and A are fans of the traditional cheese and baked beans. I cannot stand baked beans, they are gross, but because I love my little family I cook them so that they can have their favourite! Whilst they tuck into their evil orange beans I have cheese, red onion (or spring onion), sweetcorn and mayo mixed together on mine... delicious!

Pan fried mushrooms, peppers and spinach makes a great topping, plain old cheese and onion is pretty good, cheese and warmed through sun dried tomatoes (pop the tomatoes on a baking tray with a little sea salt, black pepper & a dash of olive oil under the grill for a few minutes) looks delicious too.

Here's how I cook my jacket potatoes:
*Get a piece of silver foil big enough to wrap the potato in ready & sprinkle liberally with sea salt
*Rinse the potato under the cold tap and then place on the silver foil, prick with a fork a few times and then loosely wrap in the foil, scrunching it closed at the top. Thus will coat your potato in salt for a nice crispy skin.
*Put in the oven on 200c for approximately 50 minutes. Obviously the larger potato the longer it will take and the smaller it is, vice versa, so do keep an eye on it!
*When opening the foil be careful so that you don't get an unexpected steam facial!
*Add whatever topping you fancy and serve, usually with a big salad in my case!

Enjoy! 



24.5.12

Cork upcycling and a yummy recipe


Yesterday at work I was chatting away to Doireann, our Sustainability Manager, about her recent cork upcycling workshop. I showed her a couple of the cork projects on craftgawker and I ended up leaving the office with half a bag full of wine and champagne corks. When I got home to my delight the postman had been and there sat a bottle of Mod Podge... and an idea popped in to my head!


Using a bread knife and chopping board I sliced up the corks. *Warning* I would definitely try using a craft knife and proper slicing board next time, using a bread knife is a tad dangerous! 


I brushed Mod Podge on to half of the corks but left the other half to see if there was a different effect when painting. I used acrylic paint and I think that next time I will Mod Podge all of them as some of the corks looked very holey after painting, and on a couple the paint looked as though the colour had bled in to the cork. A bit of experimentation is definitely worth it if you're after varying effects.


The almost finished corks! A couple of them need another coat of paint and some of them I'd like to paint round the sides. I'm hoping that soon these will be appearing in the shop as magnets, brooches and necklaces. Have you ever done any cork upcycling?

Today's vegetarian recipe is a nice simple one... Stuffed Oven Roasted Peppers

You will need:  *peppers (2 each & one to dice up) *cous cous *spring onions *aubergine *garlic *mozzarella or halloumi 

*Pre-heat oven to 180c
*Finely chop one pepper, the spring onion, garlic and aubergine
*Make up cous cous according to packet instructions

*Carefully slice off the top of the peppers so that they can be replaced as a lid
*Scoop out the inside of the pepper (use a small knife to pare the core and remove)
*Mix your diced veg in with the cous cous to form the mixture to go into the peppers.
*Spoon the mixture into each pepper, packing it in with a spoon. When almost to the top place sliced cheese (mozzarella or halloumi) in and replace with the pepper 'lid'.
*Put the peppers into a baking tray and place onto a middle to low shelf in the oven (you don't want to burn the tops of the peppers!)
*After approximately 15 minutes they should be ready with the cheese nicely melted inside. (Some ovens may cook slightly faster or slower).
*Remove the lids and serve, I usually have these with a nice salad and maybe some potatoes.

Have you got any yummy recipes or crafting projects to share?




23.5.12

Cauliflower and beetroot bake



(via)

Today's recipe is actually what Tom and I had for dinner last night! It's very filling so you don't really need anything with it apart from some salad.

You will need: *cauliflower *beetroot * sweetcorn *mushrooms *carrots *250ml creme fraiche *250ml double cream *mature cheddar cheese *wholegrain mustard

*Dice the vegetables
*Steam the cauliflower until tender (approx 7 minutes)
*Layer all of the veggies up in a casserole dish.
*Add the creme fraiche and cream and the mustard to taste and stir in
*Place in the oven on 200c.
*After 10 minutes remove and give a good stir and replace in the oven
*Grate the cheese
*After a further 10 minutes remove, add cheese and replace for another five minutes.
*Voila! Serve and enjoy.

You can change this dish up and use different vegetables such as onion, peppers, aubergine, shallots or whatever you fancy. You could also try different cheese toppings such as goats' cheese for a bit of a twist. do you know any great veggie recipes? I'd love to see them if you do :)






PS. Want to help me raise money for the Epilepsy Society? 50% of every sale from my shop throughout May will go to them, and for every new follower I gain on GFC, bloglovin or HelloCotton I'll donate £1, so join me!

22.5.12

National Vegetarian Week

NVW logo
As most of you know I'm not a vegetarian but when I found out today that it is National Vegetarian Week  and I remembered that yesterday I'd posted a veggie recipe I decided to sign up! I've pledged to post a vegetarian recipe here every day this week to show that veggie food can be yummy too!

I do like my meat but my body seems to struggle to digest it, I get so bloated and feel really uncomfortable when I eat meat sometimes. So recently I have been trying to eat a lot more veggie meals at home which is easier on my wallet as well as my digestive system! I'm not sure if I'll ever completely switch to vegetarianism but I certainly am enjoying eating more vegetables.

Today's recipe is a nice, tasty, simple pasta dish which also happens to be quick and easy to make.

You will need: *broccoli *mushrooms *garlic *pasta *parmesan *pesto *vegetable oil

*Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions
*Dice the broccoli, garlic & mushrooms
*Put a splash of vegetable oil into a frying pan and simmer the garlic
*Add the broccoli and mushrooms (you can parboil the broccoli if you want it nice and tender, this way it is quite al dente)
*Add the pesto and stir through, allowing it to coat everything and warm up
*Drain the pasta and add to the pan, give it a good stir to coat it with the pesto
*Serve with freshly grated parmesan

What are you doing for National Vegetarian Week? Are you already a committed vegetarian?






PS. There are some new earrings available in my shop now and don't forget that 50% of any sales made during May will go to the Epilepsy Society!

21.5.12

Seasonal Salad (May)


There are some in season foods that I absolutely cannot get enough of right now. Spinach, beetroot, potatoes, mushrooms and cauliflower in particular. Spinach is pretty versatile, have with salads, in a stir fry, a bake or with pasta. Beetroot is another versatile vegetable, traditionally eaten in salads,but also yummy in vegetable bakes and in cupcakes apparently! Cauliflower has always been a staple favourite of mine, just as a vegetable in it's own right but of course you can chuck it in a vegetable bake or there's always delicious cauliflower cheese!

For the above yummy seasonal salad I used:

New potatoes
Chesnut mushrooms
Spinach
Beetroot
Cous cous
Falafel
Baby corn
Vegetable oil

*Boil the new potatoes for ten to fifteen minutes until tender.
*Make up your cous cous according to the packet instructions.
*In a frying pan add a splash of vegetable oil, then toss in your mushrooms (roughly chopped) and your baby corn. Stir on a low heat. When the potatoes are almost done, add the spinach to the pan, it only needs to be in for a couple of minutes as you just want to wilt it.
*You can heat up your falafel but I like mine cold.
*Once everything is ready simply pile it all on your plate!

I will admit that the cous cous and falafel together can be quite dry so you may prefer to make this salad with one or the other... however I am a mayonnaise junkie so I just mix the cous cous through with mayo, ha ha my guilty little secret is now out in the world!

What's your favourite salad recipe?







PS. In case any of you are beady eyed enough to have spotted this... yes my dinner plate is on my crafting table!  

20.5.12

Recent Reads...


As you can see, according to Time Out magazine, this book is "dazzling". I have to say that I beg to differ. This is actually the second time I've tried to read it but it's just dull. I don't like the characters which doesn't help as it means that I just don't care what happens to them! The book is in two halves and I made it through the first, which is much farther than I managed last time, but I have given up on the second. It's the same story, just told by different characters.... and I just don't find the story interesting enough to want to read it all over again! It does mean I've been left with a vague, niggling, how-does-it-end feeling but it's not enough to make me want to keep reading! I very rarely give up on books but I'm afraid that this one just doesn't do it for me.


Now I'm reading High Fidelity. I've seen and loved the movie. The book however was written by the very English Nick Hornby... I have high expectations! (Bad pun.)

Does anyone fancy being in a Book Club? I'm thinking once a week we do a book-related post and link up here? That way we can share posts and maybe even find new like-minded blogs... let me know if you're interested and we'll give it a go!

19.5.12

Link Love

41 life lessons from Elsa Mora ~ beautiful and thought-provoking

Ashley's hilarious post on overcoming your fears

How FoodCycle Bristol set up their sustainable student social enterprise

Loving this step-by-step guide to be organised!

This fab post from Caroline on overcoming fear & dealing with panic

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments on yesterday's post, it means a lot to know that people care and sometimes feel the same way. As I mentioned yesterday sometimes it just helps to put the feelings out there, to enable you to face up to them.
I ended up having a lovely afternoon with my friend Patricia, we went trainer shopping together and then went to Costa for coffee. I had a vanilla latte (yum) but I must admit to eyeing up her peach iced tea... they do a raspberry one too, I might try that next time. So, yes, got my trainers and will start running soon, probably next week. There's a circuit in my local park that I'm going to try and I'm really excited to get going now.

I've made some new jewellery pieces this week but am waiting for good enough light so that I can take product photographs and get them loaded up to the shop... don't forget if you buy from the shop during May I'm donating 50% of the proceeds to the Epilepsy Society. So far I've raised £12 but I'm aiming for a minimum of £50 by the end of the month! (I also have a JustGiving page where you can see my progress!)

I hope you all have a lovely weekend :)

18.5.12

Tears...

I'm struggling again at the moment. This lack of sunshine feels as though it has been going on forever. I've been feeling flat and tired and irritable. I'm being snappy at work and snappy at home. Instead of encouraging my staff at work I've been snapping at them over their mistakes. This morning I woke up angry and sad and had a fight with Tom. I then burst in to tears and tried to explain why I'm being so miserable whilst he cuddled me and stroked my head.
I'm missing some people in my life. I had an argument with my brother a  while back and whilst we've both reassured each other that things between us are okay I still feel like they're not quite right. I dreamt last night that we were living together again, maybe that's why I was sad when I woke up?
My closest friends are all so far away. I have other friends here, in Oxford, but I'm missing those that are not near by. Brighton, Wellingborough, Cornwall, Plymouth... the silly thing is I haven't phoned them. I should. I don't know why I can't.
My cry this morning was a good thing I guess, bringing this stuff to the surface and making me face it. I don't like being flat and miserable or being a snappy manager. I don't want to be the bitch that the staff dread working with! And I don't want to lose my friends because I never want to go out or pick up the phone. I know that this is depression taking hold again but I do not like who I am becoming through it so I need to figure out how to get past it.
On a plus note I'm meeting a friend in town this afternoon for a coffee, someone that I haven't seen for a couple of years which will be nice. Whilst I'm in town I'm going to pick up a pair of Asics running trainers too so that I can start running. Exercise is supposed to be good for depression and hopefully it will also raise my energy levels, so on the whole I think it will help a lot. I have Ashley and Muireann to thank for the running inspiration.
Just putting all this down 'on paper' has helped make me feel better this morning. I really want my blog to be a positive place, somewhere that people feel inspired and the irony is that it really isn't like that at the moment and hasn't been for quite some time. You can't inspire others if you're not feeling inspired yourself can you?
I do have some changes lined up for my blog. In those positive flashes I have had some great ideas and I can see the direction that I would like to go in. In the meantime, hang in there with me would you?

17.5.12

Things I have already accomplished...


A little list of things I have already accomplished in my life...

1. Learnt to cook
2. Become a General Manager in a pub
3. Learnt basic embroidery
4. Became a restaurant manager for Jamie Oliver's flagship Jamie's Italian and now for the first ethical social enterprise restaurant in Oxford, Turl Street Kitchen.
5. Figured out how to put a duvet cover on solo!
6. Taught myself to make jewellery
7. Learnt how to change a barrel.
8. Walked 27 miles.
9. Travelled to Cambodia & Thailand.
10. This blog!

This list was inspired by Cate in this post over on Revolutionize Her. Cate pointed out that we are always writing lists of things that we want or need to do, but rarely of what we have done.
It took me a while to think of things to add to my list, a list of half done things would have been easier, ha ha!
I might try this again at the end of the year and see if I can add some of the things from my 52 in 52 like learning to ride a bike, taking a silversmithing class,  holding a craft stall and growing my own herbs.

What have you accomplished so far?

PS. Don't forget I will be donating 50% of all sales from my shop to the Epilepsy Society throughout May!

16.5.12

A mid week ramble




I took these pictures on Saturday at my friends engagement party, we had burgers, pork, potato salad, home made guacamole, and alcoholic jellies! These are vodka jellies but she also made cocktail flavoured jellies which I stayed away from, ha ha! I've got to say that the camera on my Blackberry is rubbish. In fact, my Blackberry is rubbish, full stop. Recently however I acquired this little beauty...


..yes yes, a special edition Hello Kitty Lomograophy fisheye camera! I've used up almost all of the first film and cannot wait to get it developed to see how they come out! It's actually a pretty weird camera to use as you can't really see through the viewfinder when you're taking pictures.. it's kind of a pot luck style camera.

I've made a couple of changes to the blog recently, a new header, a couple of new pages including 'Blogs I Love' so that I can share what I read with you, I hope you like the new look. I've got some new bits and bobs sitting on my desk asking to be made in to jewellery and some more jewellery waiting to be photographed so there will be a shop update too before the week is out.

Don't forget that throughout May for every item sold I am donating 50% of the sale to the Epilepsy Society!
And if you read my blog, but have never clicked the follow button, do it now because I'm adding an extra £1 to the money I raise for every new follower I gain this month too!
(You can follow on GFC, HelloCotton or Bloglovin in the right hand side bar.)

If you're raising money for a charity & would like a shout out feel free to leave me a comment!



15.5.12

Build your own door



I absolutely love this quote from Milton Berle. I also believe the veracity of it. Life doesn't always present you with opportunities. Sometimes the path you have chosen doesn't lead you to where you thought it would. There's a saying "As one door closes another one opens..." but if not? Build your own door!

We all have the ability to be the best that we can be. Not everyone has the best tools in life but if you set your mind to it you can overcome most obstacles. If you don't have the right qualifications for that dream job, you can go back to college. One of my best friends has just retaken her maths GCSE at the age of 34 to do just that. If you struggle with study you can try training in the field that you want to be in. I left school with only my A levels and have become a manager in both restaurants and pubs due to my hard work and determination, which has now led to a job offer that I would never have imagined!

Nowadays with redundancies everywhere and high unemployment levels people are building their own doors almost literally.. more and more people have started their own businesses or work freelance sometimes combining multiple jobs. If you have a dream, something that you really really want, go for it. Don't let you be the person that is holding you back. Believe in yourself. Build your own door.

PS. Have any of you made your own opportunities? Started your own company? Retrained and worked your butt off to get what you want out of life? Share your story in the comments if you have!


14.5.12

The Pink Post

Black Stars - Print
SALE - My Only Sunshine - 8 x 10 Print in Pink and Cream - Perfect for Modern Nursery Decor
Lace Eco Necklace - Bright Pink Flower - Laser Cut - Recycled Felt
Owl head brooch- Coral
Pastel geo necklace in soft pink, grey, white - Rare Diamonds Collection
ONE DAY SALE - Abstract Art - The Rain - 8 x 10 - Open Edition - rain, tear, pink, multi colored
set of 2 beautifully and lovingly made 39mm fabric covered buttons
Woodland Owl Painting Art Print Block

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

This weeks pink items are all available to buy on Etsy, click the numbered links above to go to the shop listing for each item. The first one is by Catherine Campbell, an Australian artist whose work I've loved for a long time, who just happens to blog over here!

I've just got back from my second ever aqua-aerobics class and I loved it, even if I didn't know quite what I was doing some of the time. I left feeling absolutely ravenous so came home and cooked Tom and I a huge pesto pasta dish for dinner, nom nom. That's number 18 on my 52 in 52 (find & attend an exercise class that I like) achieved I think!  I'm taking the plunge and buying running shoes this week too. Jogging here I come.

Yesterday I told you about how I'm hoping to raise money for the Epilepsy Society throughout May by donating half the proceeds of all sales from my shop this month. I'm also going to add £1 to the final total for every new follower I gain this month which means that you can help raise funds for a great cause just by clicking follow on either GFC, HelloCotton or Bloglovin in my sidebar!

I'd really appreciate any support  from you guys to help me raise my minimum target of £50 so help me out by spreading the word!!!

(You can also donate directly to my JustGiving page)