Monday, 18 December 2017

And so it's the week before Christmas! Being on maternity leave feels like being in a tiny babyproof bubble and even though we have our Christmas tree up and I've made Christmas cake with my brother and mum, I'm definitely missing the festive cheer that comes with being in an office. Besides the Secret Santa gifts, Christmas parties and endless boxes of Quality Street, simply being around lots of people every day in December means conversation naturally turns to Christmas more often than not. I keep telling myself that I'm going to do something Christmassy to get me in the holiday spirit, and now with only a week to go I better get cracking! And hitting publish on this blog post will hopefully help me stick to it.


Thursday, 7 December 2017
The idea of doing any sort of DIY with a clingy appendage in the form of a 3-month-old baby in tow is highly amusing, but I really felt like using my brain for something other than remembering what time I last fed the baby today, so here is a blog post with a back story.

I'm not some impressive mum launching into a new kitchen table venture a mere 9 weeks after giving birth...these candles were in fact made this time last year for a client who didn't end up using them. Which is fine by me because it means I have something shiny and new to post on my blog.

Made with layers of used up coffee grounds, these candles make beautiful, thoughtful gifts and they were actually a lot easier than I expected, with all of the 'ingredients' recycled from around the house. Cheaper than buying wax granules to melt, I scavenged leftover wax from around the house; wax left in other candle jars, partially used tea lights from one too many IKEA hauls and a handful of tapered candles I've never used because I don't have candlesticks. The used coffee grounds give a slight aroma when you burn the candles and the jars were a mismatch - my favourite to use are the little ones leftover from Glenilen Farm yoghurts (available at Waitrose).

1. Collect leftover wax in a heatproof glass jug and place the jug in a small saucepan of water. Bring the water to the boil and the wax will melt to liquid in a few minutes. For any wax left in glass jars, place in a jug of boiled water for a few minutes and the wax should pop out of the bottom.

2. Meanwhile, place a wick (available from craft shops/eBay) in an empty glass jar - buy readymade wicks with a weighted metal tip, which can be glued into the bottom of the jar. My wicks actually came from the tapered candle; I bashed up the candles and the wick pulled out fairly easily.

3. Wrap the long end of the wick around a pencil placed across the top of the jar and carefully pour in a layer of melted wax.

4. To create a layered effect, refrigerate for five to 10 minutes to harden, then add a teaspoon of coffee grounds.

5. Pour over another layer of melted wax and repeat until you have filled the jar. If the wax in your jug sets, you can repeat the boiling process to re-melt as many times as you need.

6. Once fully hardened, trim the wick to your desired length.


Thursday, 21 September 2017

Dr. Oetker got in touch just before I stopped working to ask if I'd like to try their new range of Bake In Box cakes. A cake mix is something I would always steer clear of, as I just don't think they taste as good as the real thing made with fresh eggs and butter, but who am I to say no to free cake? And, considering I'm going to be quite short of time in the near future, the appeal of a cake mix that requires next to no washing up is riding high at the moment.


Saturday, 16 September 2017

Despite sporting a pretty sizeable bump now (these photos were taken at 35 weeks!), I'm still not sure it's sunk in that we could have a baby any day now...will I feel like this for the rest of my life - I can't believe I have a 2 year old/another baby/etc. My friend Jo, who shot our wedding photos (this time last  year!!), was staying with us for the weekend so we nipped out to Tooting Common with the dog to take a few maternity photos. It took a little while to get into having my picture taken - especially with other dog walkers lurking around! - but having the dog there really helped things feel a lot more natural and for 10 minutes of feeling awkward, I have beautiful pictures to remember this time for the rest of my life. NB Baki appears to be looking adoringly at my bump, but in reality he is waiting for me to throw his ball, luckily hidden by the long grass!


Friday, 1 September 2017

I'm a big fan of quick and easy recipes and leftovers often make their way into an off-the-cuff version of eggs for breakfast. A few scraps that aren't much use for anything else suddenly become a whole meal when you look at them in a different light! These Mexican-ish eggs are actually a 'third generation' meal; Darren made spaghetti bolognese at the weekend, I took leftovers for lunch on Monday, on Tuesday we added spices, made a quick tomato salad, shredded lettuce and grated cheese for quick burrito bowls and voila, Thursday morning I made this out of what was left of the burrito bowl accompaniments. Hardly a recipe, but hope it inspires you to add a little something different to your usual breakfast.


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

I've been umm-ing and ahh-ing about how much pregnancy stuff to put on the blog and, especially, how to make it food-related, but I've come to the conclusion that the pregnancy things I've enjoyed reading the most are by people I already know through social media and blogging. That personal angle is so much more important to me than what can be found in a book, and I've really relied more on word of mouth than anything else throughout many aspects of my pregnancy. With that in mind, this reading list is somewhat short and sweet, but I hope anyone with a baby on the way or who is just interested finds this list useful. I should note here, the list of actual books is short, but my descriptions are quite lengthy!


Sunday, 23 July 2017

Thanks to bad organisation on my part and a slightly up-in-the-air living situation, I had a horrible diet during my first trimester. My usual healthy dinners and money-saving leftovers lunches fell by the wayside while I stayed part of the week with my parents - who were looking after our dog while Darren re-decorated our flat to put it on the market - and I lost all interest in food.


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Cauliflower is one of my favourite vegetables, but we usually have it smothered in cheese, so it was nice to experiment with it in a lighter, fresher guise for summer. This curried cauliflower recipe is a riff on coronation chicken - it's lightly spiced with curry powder, but for me its the sultanas and coriander that bring this dish to life. I stirred in a little yoghurt, but this vegetarian recipe could easily be made vegan by leaving it out. We hoovered it up with cous cous for a simple supper, but it would also make a tasty barbecue side dish or addition to a mezze platter.


Thursday, 27 April 2017
There are a lot more of these non-alcoholic babies on the horizon because...I'm pregnant! When this post goes live I'll be about 18 weeks along, so nearly halfway through. The last month we have slowly been telling family and friends, but it's felt weird not mentioning it online; not that I have been wanting to do a big 'reveal' - actually the whole idea of it makes me quite shy! - but there have been a few times on Twitter where I've wanted to be like, 'sorry, what happens when the baby is a week old!!?' etc. and not been able to join in.


Thursday, 20 April 2017
It's been more than six months since we got back from our honeymoon! I wasn't going to share anything at all about our trip to Bali and the Gili Islands because we didn't do anything particularly noteworthy beyond lazing by the pool, walking on the beach and eating street food - or rather, I didn't take any pictures of anything noteworthy! But in the end it's nice to have memories to look back on and I'd all but forgotten to look at the photos since we got back, and I think I'm going to print the one above - a shame Darren's not in it!


Saturday, 15 April 2017

When everyone's out, I like to make something special just for me - especially if it's something Darren doesn't really like. It's never anything complicated, sometimes just a plate of random things I've been craving that don't really go together! Having it feel like a bit of an occasion, making a looked-forward to dinner and catching up on my favourite TV shows (have really enjoyed The Replacement, Line of Duty, Girls and The Crown recently) means I really value those solo nights in!


Saturday, 18 February 2017

Nearly a year ago (!), my brilliant pal - and super wedding photographer - Jo popped round for a morning of making and baking. I made apple crumble sundaes and flatbread pizzas and Jo took some lovely photos for me to use on my blog; I posted the pesto breakfast pizza version of this recipe last year and after having a hankering for these fennel sausage ones, realised I hadn't posted this recipe and its accompanying batch of photos. 


Sunday, 12 February 2017
I spent four years living in New York when I was very small and ever since, white chocolate chip cookies have remained one of my mum's favourite things. This recipe comes from Molly O'Neill's The New York Cookbook, a hefty tome that has recipes from all over the city which, of course, means there are dishes to cook from all over the world. My mum has annotated recipes with things like YES!! and DOUBLE IT! in the margins, which makes it even more fun to flip through.

A note before I share the recipe, these cookies are slim and crisp - they stay deliciously chewy in the centre but they're definitely not chunky, melty cookies; the book says "these are easy to make and absolutely delicious. They develop a butterscotch flavour as they bake and are extremely fragile." So there you go!


Saturday, 11 February 2017
Teatourist is a brand that combines two of my favourite gifting philosophies: consumables and 'gifts that keep on giving'. Lately, I want to receive gifts that don't take up too much space in our already-cluttered home. But I also like receiving gifts that take me by surprise, which is where monthly subscriptions come in. I've already written about how I sent my brother a different book every month for six months and, in turn, he gifted me an art subscription where I receive an original print through my letterbox every month!