Monday, December 24, 2012

Basil Oil

Last year while unemployed I made Basil Oil as a birthday gift. It's really simple and delicious.

Buy, acquire, grow a basil plant. It needs to be bushy and full. Over pluck the plant until it's just stalks with small / little leaves on. Never pick the small leaves, only the medium to big ones.

Place in a saucepan (I used a sauce / milk pan and the amount of leaves I picked filled it a third full, approx. 2.5 inches deep) and add 75cl of Extra Virgin Oil. Put on an extremely low heat and leave until the oil starts to simmer (Do NOT let it boil). Let the oil simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. When you return to it an hour or two later, the oil will now be a green misty colour.

Find the appropriate receptacle for the oil. I like to use old glass drinking bottles (but you could easily purchase some from here or use alternatives). Using a funnel and sieve, pour the oil in to the bottles, wrap with a bow and add a tag, stating when it was made.

I'd advise it be stored in a cool dark cupboard and consumed within 30 days - although it might need to be used way before this. I eat mine with freshly baked bread, on salads and it tastes great with anything parmesan based.

Photo to follow....

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Iced Spiced Biscuits

When I was a child, my family had this awesome cook book, which is ideal for children of all ages and I highly recommend it. I spent most of the younger years with my nose stuck in it, making all sorts of things from brownies (in fact this brownie recipe is a variant of the one from this book) to Welsh Rarebit, etc. It features very simple easy recipes, which are enjoyable to make.

Now, one of the most tortured pages in our copy of this book was the Iced Spiced Biscuits. I've no idea how many of these I've made over the last 30 years, in fact I dread to think. But here is my version of the recipe...

Ingredients required:

250g Plain Flour
125g Butter / margarine
125g Brown Sugar / golden caster sugar
1 beaten egg (I normally use medium)
2 teaspoons of Mixed Spice
A pinch of Salt

Measure out and throw all of the ingredients in to the bowl. Mix together until the dough is dry-ish and biscuit like. Sprinkle flour on to the side and roll out to your required thickness. Cut in to all sorts of shapes and put on to a tray covered in greaseproof paper, or grease up a tray with some butter.

Place the tray in to the middle of a pre heated oven, 190 C / 375 F or Gas Mark 5. Cook for 15-20 minutes, depending on their colouring.

Once out of the oven, place on to a cooling rack. In the mean while, mix up some icing.

125g Icing Sugar
1-2 teaspoons of tepid water
Food colouring of your choice

Decorate the biscuits accordingly, you can add Smarties, Jelly Tots, etc. and gorge away....

These are perfect for Christmas, as they have a lovely spiced flavour and can be decorated in all sorts of Christmas colours, etc. and hung on the tree. They also make great presents for your noisy neighbours who stomp around their flat at all hours of the night...I'm the only person who has this, oh I do apologise.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 wrap up...

My intention at the beginning of 2012 was to write more frequently than I did during 2011, I've completely failed, due to work expecting me to actually work, and not only work, but work above and beyond.

2012 has basically seen Tom and I often get home from work, eat and then head to bed by 11pm, due to being exhausted. Tom spends all day being his most charming self on the phone and through emails, and I spend my days juggling eggs and running around like a mentalist, at least I never need to go to the gym, due to it.

We are finally getting to enjoy some relaxing time off, due to both of our companies being closed during Christmas. Today I wrapped all of my presents, I only have two presents left to buy, which surprised me, I thought I'd hardly bought anything. I also made a couple of final presents, see here. Tomorrow, I'm looking forward to cooking some biscuits and possibly some bread, although I'm fully aware that Tom's bread is better than mine, so maybe not...

I'm also celebrating Christmas this year with my first real Christmas tree (we always had an artificial one when I was a child), of course I had to find a fairy to go on the top and luckily my first Sindy doll came to the rescue, her dress is made out of some remnants.

Hopefully next year I might get to be more creative and have time to write the random brain waves of my mind down here, like the olden days. I knew moving to London was never going to be easy, I just didn't realise that it would be this tiring...maybe I'll just learn to survive on 6 hours sleep a night?!

Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Stockings

I've been extremely lethargic lately, work has been crazy and all I seem to do outside of work is sleep. Personally, I'm looking forward to a calmer time, if such a thing exists.

But, due to the beloved festive period being here, today I have sewn some stockings for my two god-daughters, admittedly they won't get to enjoy the splendour this year, but next year, Christmas should be pretty epic for them...yep, that is right, I am going to claim that these stockings will change their future Christmas experiences!

These particular stockings are made from Moda's 2011 Christmas range, with a plain white lining.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cake Biscuits

While in the pub on Boxing Day with some friends, we discussed cooking / baking styles, I'm the kind of baker who throws caution to the wind and takes chances on not having the right ingredients, throwing additional things in or varying other aspects, it's drives Tom mad, as he is more of a precise follow the recipe kind of person.

This recipe is the perfect example; I started out trying to make cookies, adapted the recipe due to the lack of chocolate and ended up making some form of cake shaped like biscuits and they are delicious, so I thought I'd share them, enjoy!

Preheat the oven at 190 C / 375 F / Gas Mark 5.

Mixed together -
200g Drinking Chocolate
350g Plain Flour
3 tsp of Baking Powder
1 tsp of Salt

Cream together -
225g Butter
175g Caster Sugar
175g Soft Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Medium Eggs

Slowly add the dry mix to the creamed mix and add 6 tbsp of Semi-Skimmed Milk to ensure the mix stays moist. Once everything is added together please add 100g of crumbled Dark Chocolate (Try to make it epic dark chocolate, 75% cocoa content and up).

Place large dollops of mixture on to greaseproof papered tray spaced wide apart and put in the top of the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, pull out of oven, allow to cool and serve with ice cream, double cream or eat plain.

I've no idea what the calories contents is, it's probably about 1000 per cake, I've eaten at least 5 in the last day, oops!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Quilt No.1 Making

I've had to change the colours
slightly, so you can see the
pattern, as it's a light jade on cream.
One of Tom's oldest friends decided to get married to a pretty fab girl and I had the desire to make a quilt, after all of the time at the Haberdashery last year, I couldn't I started thinking that making one as a present couldn't be too hard...Yes, these are the same two who's wedding I helped decorate.

The thing about making a quilt is that it's a very personal thing. It doesn't just keep you warm, you can also dress your home, so you need to ensure it's in keeping with how the people you're giving it too, might dress their home. Or maybe I'm thinking too much?!

These two particular people have a Classic, Country, Parisian, Sleepy City Suburbs style. The girl is vintage and calm colours, the guy is good suits and shiny shoes.

My initial lay out
for the quilt
Luckily, the haberdashery I used to help at, Beyond Fabrics, had a nice selection of five inch square packs, one that had maps of Paris on them. Additional to these, were various pretty flowery squares.

There are only 40 squares in a pack, at approx. £15, bearing in mind of the salvage, that only covers 2.5ft by 2.5ft, roughly. Which won't make a single quilt of 6ft by 4ft.

Luckily I had various flowery patterns in similar colours, so I cut additional squares up and started to lay them out in a satisfactory pattern, where none of them seemed to clash.

I started to sew my 4 squares into square formations and realised, I was going to need loads more material, bloody hell, it's gonna cost a fortune! I head back to Beyond Fabrics and found some fantastic new materials with little swirls on them...perfect!

So I started to make borders, 1 inch wide. They have great appeal and look fantastic, but, they are a bitch to cut, sew, press and sew! I also made 3 inch wide borders to go in between the squares. I would suggest doing bigger squares, but I had an experience, back in the earlier days of my sewing career, where I tried to make a double quilt with big 7 inch squares...huge mistake!!!

I then needed to extend it length ways and found some neutral materials in my box, to add in. This is when I made a huge mistake, I mismatched two materials, then added a strip of plain either side, it looked shit! Cue lots of unpicking...the joys of sewing!

I set about cutting and sewing to break them all up and added my strips to the strip of squares and borders.

It's been suggested that I should have made a plan to begin with, or have used a pattern, but it's not how I fly. Yes it might have made life easier, but it wouldn't have been so much fun! If you've a logical brain, get an idea of what you'd like it to look like and set about it...I wanted squares, the borders were a last minute requirement that set it off nicely.

My lazy quilting...
I found the cutting of the final borders of the quilt and the sewing of those borders really tedious. It's up there with sewing the quilt top, wadding and backing together, or the binding...both dull as! The most exciting part is sewing the quilt top, it's a lot of fun seeing it come together, although I need to improve my lining up of the squares, etc.

Also, I bailed on actual quilting, lazy of me, I know. I did little square stitches in the middle of the squares and left tassles on the reversed side. 

The finished article!

I will try harder in the future on the actual quilting part, as I'm soon to embark on another quilt. This time it's brightly coloured with lots and lots of squares, I'm still collecting the material for the quilt top, I'm worried that I'm loosing my mind, as I'm seeing every item of my wardrobe as potential material. 

Here is a little taster of the next quilt...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Strangest Day (a music diary)...

Today has been a crazy day. I awoke after a night of meeting a lot of people who I've heard about for a year. It was a really charming evening and the people who work with Tom are lovely, truly great people.

This morning, I awoke after a random drunk dream where I was 5 hours later for my plans today, a standard drunk dream, if my records stand true.
I eventually got up, after some re runs of Supermarket Sweep, showered and departed to head towards the South of Wimbledon...

I ended up stuck between Colliers Wood and South Wimbledon for about 20 which point I was thinking of this song:

Mary J Blige 'Going Down'

Eventually, I met up with the ladies, we did tea, and then headed towards the bridal shop, for Hammers to try 1000 dresses on, at which point I was sensing this:

OMC ' How Bizarre'

And also this:

Charlie Rich 'The Most Beautiful Girl'

We found the one with jubilance, at which point we ended up in Wimbledon feeling like this:

Polyphonic Spree 'It's the Sun'

After some free cocktails and a platter of food, we headed to the home of Brian, at which point I tried to be mega cool and hip, so not to upset Brian, as he's mega awesome. FYI ---> This is Brian, he's pretty cool!

So I played this:

Calvin Harris & Rihanna 'We found love'

Then Vik's mentioned this and my life was changed:

PSY 'Gangham Style'

and Hammers made me watch this:

Sam and the Womp 'Bom Bom'

and all of a sudden I realised I was hanging out with Europop freaks and desperately craved East London indifference...

at which point I changed the settings of "the bar" and played this:

Wicked ' Defying Gravity'

We then had a musical moments, where I basically played the Phantom of the Opera from beginning to end, obviously singing along all the while...then came round and realised it isn't the 80s anymore, sad times.

So I ended the night singing along to this on my bus home:

Carly Simon ' Jesse'

and this:

Celine Dion ' It's all coming back to me'

and this (I had an epic 45 minute bus ride to fill, these are the girly highlights):

Meatloaf 'you took the words right out of my mouth'

Basically, it's been a fantastic day!!!
And I tried to get everyone to watch Queen live at Wembley, 1986, but they weren't game - sad times!

But most importantly, I tried to educate Hammers tonight, by leaving her with this album, and especially this song:

The Kinks 'Strangers'

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I have an issue with pigeons feet. No, I'm not sat in a restaurant staring at a menu full of them, I'm talking about those infamous flying rats, the very much alive ones.

Every morning I walk through Grosvenor Square which is full of them, now I'm not talking Trafalgar Sq in Mary Poppins, I'm talking modern day pigeon masses. And every morning I can't help but stare at every pigeons feet, it's just the gammy feet that make me sad, they make me want to stamp on their heads and put them out of their misery and I'm not sure why, as it's just a little impractical not life destroying, especially as I'm talking about pigeons who mainly rely on their wings, although some of the ones I've seen recently are possibly too fat to fly?!

I guess my issue is made worse by the colour and texture of their feet, I don't know! I know I'm being stupid but I can't really help feeling the need to stamp on the heads of pigeons with manky feet.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Wedding Decoration

Friends of ours got married recently and they asked for my decorative input. Over numerous nights I made 90 metres of bunting, mainly from remnants in my material basket, the bride came and joined me for some of these sessions, supplying wine and snacks to keep us fuelled.
The day before the wedding, we wrapped cleaned jars with raffia bows, made makeshift brackets from garden wire and hung them in trees with tealights.

Made numerous tissue paper peonies of various sizes and colours, and hung long thin streamers from a leafy tree, we tied numerous strings together and loosely looped them around the branches, so anyone removing them could cut them easily.

It was a lot of fun and looked great all day and night, even after a lot of wind and rain. If I could change one or two things, I'd have made the streamers much longer, they should look as though they are far too long, trailing on the floor even, that way, they blow in the wind at a height, instead of blowing up in to the tree. We live and learn.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Monty Python 1

Even classic Monty Python get it spot on after all these years...

Friday, June 29, 2012


I'm obsessed with a TV show, called 'Girls', written and created by Lena Dunham (who wrote 'Tiny Furniture', I recommend this film), it makes me feel sick that someone this talented is so young, full of such insight and so incredibly funny.

The premise is 4 ladies in their twenties living in New York, yeah let me guess you've heard it all, before in numerous sit-coms, chick flicks and, obviously, Sex and the City. The main difference being that they haven't all got their shit together, none of them are "unexplainably minted" per say and they're all still trying to workout which 'Sex and the City' character they're most like, basically just like the rest of us (that is if we ladies sat around worrying about such bull).

It's brutal, harsh, dry, hilarious and entertaining all in the while, being intelligent and slightly narcissistic. I think it's best to sum it up with one simple moment: Hannah, the main protagonist, and the other three characters (who are all well rounded and developed in their own right, but I can't be arsed in summing them all up right now) are at a book launch of a "nemesis" of Hannah's, from her writing class at college, when Hannah is criticising the book launch host's writing ability, she draws on the fact that "major tragedy" happened to her, at which point, Jessa (one of the "other three") states "your boyfriend should kill himself, you deserve it", at which point Hannah wittily retorts "well thank you, but you only say that because you love me"It's a poetically dry moment, which is so beautifully delivered that you can't help but titter, even the most reserved of people would let out a little chortle, you can't help but do so.

After 10 episodes, I love it and can't wait for the second series, here's hoping for some more intelligent female writing for the future.

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with a clip:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dressing up

What do you get if you add 5 girls, a lot of fizz, minimal food, a camera and a warehouse of clothes?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sad Times

Tom has just let me down gently that I wouldn't make a very good James Bond, I guess it's back to the drawing board...

Saturday, June 09, 2012


I'm sure I've probably posted my love of ELO on here before, but it is deeper than deep...and let's be fair, when a girl, like myself, is sewing 75-100 metres of bunting for a friends wedding and the boyfriend is out at poker, what else should one do, especially after 'Pride and Prejudice' has finished?!
Enough said!

Xanadu - Olivia Newton John and ELO

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Blonde Moment II

I never realised that Brown Sauce was made from Dates. Understandably I'd never actively gone out of my way (looking at the back of the bottle) to find out, but never the less...enough said!

I might have to consider bleaching my hair one day if this keeps up...

One Year Londonversary

On Monday, Tom and I celebrated our one year anniversary in our flat. It's been mental, scary, fun and I'm loving everything about it. Even the week where Tom and I ate one slice of toast for breakfast and a small bowl of pasta and pesto every night for over a week - it was a beautiful time!

To celebrate our year, here are a couple of songs:

Pulp - Do you remember the first time?

LCD Soundsystem - Home

And finally, to honour my last home, Party Central, always remember what comes before part-b and always do it with Fleetwood Mac!

Fleetwood Mac - The Chain

Side note:
One other thing I've learnt since living here (obviously not the only thing, as that would be a terrible shame): 'Broken Arrow' is possibly the worst action film known to man, I thought my favourite 'Behind Enemy Lines' was bad, but 'Broken Arrow' is positively terrible! On the up side, I finally saw 'Tango and Cash', which is really rather super!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012


I had a dream at the weekend where I was staying with a wealthy family in a stately home, when Poirot showed up. I was the only person who knew who he was and what he did, everyone else just thought he was a family friend who happened to be a detective (in typical fashion).

I spent the entire dream wondering when something was going to happen, and then BOOM! the following morning, the two sisters were missing, at which point Poirot went to work and I woke up, damn! It was so good!

I questioned a good friend of mine whether this dream reflected whether I'd watched too much Poirot, but we agreed there wasn't such a thing. Definitely not a thing at all.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Magazine Envelopes

Recently I had numerous thank you cards to send for my birthday, I had some amazing photos I'd screen grabbed and printed from Magnum Essays, I was originally going to make a suspended room divide from them, but never found the right room. 
Instead I backed them with thick card and made postcards from them (for personal use only, of course) and sent them as my thank you cards. My only issue was that I didn't have any envelopes for them and instead of buying boring white envelopes that are ill fitting, I chose to make my own.

Here's how to make the template and envelope:

Find a card you need an envelope for.

Measure it 3 times height wise. 

Draw around the three, 
add flaps to the middle section,
and a triangular end.
(It's good to measure it with a ruler,
to check it's straight, etc).

Cut out as instructed above,
 I normally use hardboard 

(for this, I simply used paper as a demo).

Find an appropriate magazine image.
High fashion magazines are good due
to the elaborate photo shoots.

Cut the page out, either draw 
around your template and cut, 
or use your template as the guide.

Remember that the image seen on
the front is the middle panel.

Turn over and place your
card in the middle position,
to check everything fits well.

Remove photo.
Fold the bottom flap up,
as so.

Fold the side flaps in.

You might need to cut the
top of the flaps to line up...

Fold the top over.

Unfold and attach double sided
sticky tape on both side flaps
and on the top flap to secure 

the envelope with.

Remove the cover of the tape 
on the side flaps and secure the 
bottom flap to the sides.

Some times, you can incorporate
the top flap to exaggerate
the over all effect, when opened.

Pop your card inside, seal,
add a clearly written label and stamp.
Pop to your nearest Post Box.

And this is how you make free envelopes with a twist and a charming impact!
As you can see above, I even used ones with a body of type, basically, every page in most high glossy magazines can work.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Surprises stress!

Tom has taken on the awful task of organising my 30th birthday party. Poor thing.

I'm the type of  person who starts organising my birthday, the day after my last one ends. I normally start to organise it about 2-3 months before, to give everyone enough of a heads up, I like to let people know, so they don't have to change their plans and so there is a good amount of people present. Also, I'm mental.

I hate surprises, in fact, I don't hate surprises, I hate knowing that a surprise is going to happen, but not knowing what it is. The worst thing you could say to me is "I've a surprise for you", that sets my mind wondering, and causes me a lot of craziness where I consider the worst and best possible outcomes. And this is the predicament I find myself in right now. I've known for a month that Tom was organising something, and now I've thought of 1000 different options. He's aware that setting up base in a pub all day, is perfect to me. But where?
I also gave him a list of people to invite, and he's used his intuition to invite those I've missed off, etc.

I know he has my best interests at heart and has organised something truly super, but I'm so intrigued to know what it is. It's driving me mad!!!!

March 2012

Recently, I've been a little inactive, due to being over active during Christmas, and I've also made another double baby mat for a friend.

But, I have started making two patchwork quilts, a huge task that I'm excited about undertaking. I'll post here, once I've moved past the having the squares cut out only.

I've also designed a simple pattern for a smartphone holder, which I'll also post here soon.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The 4th milestone

Two weeks this coming Monday, I turn 30. Now if life had gone to plan (according to 18 year old me), I'd be a window dresser for Selfridges, Oxford St. I'd have gotten married at 26 and be considering, or have started a family.
I'd have gone to Cardiff's University of Music and Arts, done Set Design. Maybe met the guy of my dreams, some pretentious public school guy with an edge, as he's seen the real world. He'd be opinionated and overly intelligent, well read and been classically trained on an instrument. We'd have an uber cool flat somewhere, I'm not sure what he'd do as a job, probably something edgy and arty. We'd be that couple everyone hates, as everything is always peachy and fab.
I'd be the gorky, slightly awkward, laid back female friend, the accepting of everything, chilled friend always ready with support, laughter and a bottle of wine.

In reality, I didn't go to college, I applied, in fact I applied to circus college instead of one of my chosen universities. I wanted to be a child for one more summer, which I was. I moved in to my friend's family home for a fortnight, we hung out and partied for most of the summer, it was awesome. I worked at Waitrose and had a laugh. After a year and a half, I left and got a fantastic job, where I stayed for 9 years. During this time, I worked at The Zodiac nightclub, which opened up the rest of my life. I met some of my best friends through this, worked at a couple of awesome pubs (even though I thought I was done with pouring pints after The Zodiac), have 1000 amazing memories from this time. It was like having a double life, working at the office in the day time and having a great time in Oxford by night

The way I see my life, is via these milestones:
At 15 I knocked on my new neighbour's door to welcome them to the village, I remember it, as it was halloween. I got a babysitting job due to that. I ended up babysitting for their friends. Meanwhile, I went to college to due Graphic Design, due to some software at school suggesting it, and I had no ideas. For two years I did graphic design, still life drawing and photography. At the end of that, I got to have an incredible last summer holiday. I got a stop gap job at Waitrose.  I went through a horrid experience at Waitrose that caused me to leave, I bumped in to one of the ladies I babysat for in the village shop, the day I handed my notice in. I informed her of my leaving Waitrose and got offered an interview for my job of 9 years. Due to that job, I went to work at The Zodiac. I met some of the greatest people known to man. I moved out of my parents and in with three of my now best friends. I then moved from there in with two the best male friends/housemates anyone could ask for. I worked at a couple of pubs and got some more awesome friends in my life. And now, I live with my boyfriend, who I'd never have met unless those situations had occurred.

I'm not saying he's the one, or my life is now 100% complete. I've stopped making those sorts of plans, or grand gestures, and even after two years together, I still check myself every time I speak about "our" future, I catch myself tentatively suggesting the future, not sure why "tentatively", I think it's more a learnt pattern, knowing that regardless of all plans and choices you make, you can count on nothing in particular. You can hope it comes to fruition but placing all your hopes and dreams on it, makes you question life more than it's worth.

I'm not saying, I don't plan, I'm purely saying that I don't worry when I reach a milestone and I haven't got where I'd hoped I'd be at that age, when I was younger. It's not worth it.

Some Mama Cass

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Big Kahuna

I recently watched 'The Big Kahuna' starring Kevin Spacey & Danny Devito. It's based on a play 'Hospitality Suite' and circles around two mature salesmen and a younger rep, hoping to land the big kahuna, as a client.
It explores interesting views, sales approaches and opinions on religion, but I think the entire film become a great work of production, from one of the final quotes by Danny Devito's character: "It doesn't matter whether you're selling Jesus or Buddha or civil rights or 'How to Make Money in Real Estate With No Money Down.' That doesn't make you a human being; it makes you a marketing rep. If you want to talk to somebody honestly, as a human being, ask him about his kids. Find out what his dreams are - just to find out, for no other reason. Because as soon as you lay your hands on a conversation to steer it, it's not a conversation anymore; it's a pitch. And you're not a human being; you're a marketing rep".

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I must!

I must stop blogging while drunk, especially while drunk and alone!