On the Box…

I missed this post last week, I guess because I’m struggling with TV these days, am I getting too old or is there nothing much worth watching anymore??  However enough of this pessimism, there was enough to write this post about so here we go…

george clarkes amazing spaces

1.  George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, Channel 4.

Now I’m a little behind on the new series of this, but I just watched the amazing Fairy Tale Hideaway episode this morning with my little famalam and we were most impressed. The spaces are just brilliant and it amazes me how the people manage to create them with sometimes quite meager budgets.  My recent favourite was the warren style underground garden hidey hole that a couple had built for both them and their children, Little M and I were truly smitten and spent most of  the program dropping big old hints to Mr Potato Head about how wonderful it would be if we could have something similar in our back garden.

 

one born every minute

2.  One Born Every Minute, Channel 4.

Now I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, in fact I couldn’t watch this until quite recently as although my Little M is now 6, the whole child birth experience was still quite raw and I did not want to watch something that took me back to it (lets just say it wasn’t a calm and tranquil experience for me).  However now as M gets older and I pine away at little babies and get all broody I AM LOVING this program, clearly I had a bad experience but watching these ladies and the midwives that support them is pretty inspirational, well it is to me anyway.  And did I mention I’m pretty nosy, well I am and I love all these fly on the wall, real life, documentary programs.  But I’m also really pleased to see such an important job from both the mums and the midwives being promoted and celebrated in the media like this.

3.  Sprinkle of Chatter, YouTube,

So my third and final program, or channel in this case, is a YouTube vlogger who is huge, you all probably know her already but if by some slight chance you don’t, do have a look.  I particularly like her vlogs on this ‘Sprinkle of Chatter’ channel, because I like the more informal chatty approach she seems to have on here.   She also has a main channel called Sprinkle of Glitter, where she does hauls, beauty tips and even some quite poignant comment at times.   I think I’m particularly smitten with Louise because I feel we have similarities, she’s a mum, she’s a little bit older than some of the other popular YouTubers (although quite probably not as old as me, but not far off) so we have similar reference points and I  find her very easy to relate to.  She is also hilarious and when she vlogs with others like the ever popular Zoella then you often feel, a little bit,  part of the gang, well at least like you are laughing with them and that’s what I like, I guess it’s a little bit of escapism and an easy to watch, feel good vlog.

 

So as I mentioned at the start, I’m struggling a bit with TV and what to watch lately, got any recommendations? I’d love to hear them.

 

 

 

 

Falafel – Gluten Free

Had you been wondering if I did any cooking anymore? Well I have to admit, I’ve been a bit slack, I do still cook, I just been sticking to staples and not really bothering to take pictures and remember recipes.  But here we have a simple little falafel recipe, perfect for summer days as part of a mezze or stuffed in a pitta.

falafel

So for the recipe…

Ingredients (makes 10 small falafel):

  • 1 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 tablespoons of gram or gluten free flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of ground cumin
  • a handful of mint
  • salt
  • oil for frying

Method:

First soften the onions and garlic, I do this in a microwave because I find it easy but gently frying in a pan has the same results, you just want them soft and translucent.

Then add all the ingredients bar the flour to a food processor.  Blitz, you may need to scrape down any stray chickpeas or you might want to keep it chunky.  Then depending on the wetness of the mixture I add two to three tablespoons of flour, now my plan was to have chickpea flour (gram/besan) but  mine was out of date so I substituted gf plain flour, if you’re not coeliac then plain regular flour would work too.   You want a thick but not too wet mixture that you can easily manipulate, see picture for clarity there, it’s awful hard to describe!

Once you’ve got the right consistency, scoop out walnut size blobs if you want to emulate mine, but frankly any old size will work, you could make big fat burgers or round footballs or cut them into star shapes should you desire but flat patties was what I was after.

Then chill the patties for a while (time constraints permitting, I’m sure they would be fine fried straight away should you need to).

Shallow fry for about 3/4 minutes each side on a medium heat.  Then serve hot stuffed into a pitta with chilli sauce and yoghurt.

falafel stages

You can freeze these and heat up in the oven at a later date should you need to, I made too many for me and my little dinner guest so I’ve stashed the remainder away for a mid-week dinner.

Ok, so that was the first recipe for a while.  It felt good, what do you think?

 

‘Sun is shining, the weather is sweet…’

The sun has come out and it’s just got me wishing and dreaming of an outdoor life full of bright colours, comfy outdoor seating, BBQs and ice lollies.

Here are a few outdoor essentials I’m currently coveting:

hammock-accessories

Oh how I want to lounge, swing and snooze my hours away in one of these.  This rainbow coloured beauty is from www.handmadehammocks.co.uk, and I’m so in love with it.

rattan furniture set

Now at the moment in our garden we have a rather modest but functional picnic bench tucked away in a shady corner but as the sun shines and I day-dream some more I think I’d love a big old comfortable rattan set of furniture like this one from Tesco.com.  Clearly I’d need to win the lottery but a girl can dream can’t she?

lights

Twinkle, twinkle little multicoloured lights, I’m a fan of these chains of fairy lights for everywhere, I hate having to take down the Christmas lights and this year most of the lights I left around the house got to stay for all year round sparkles.  These bright and colourful globes are from Ikea here.  They have some great outdoor lighting options including stars and bird shapes (I know!) and the best thing about them is they are not only glamour for your garden but are solar powered so totally eco friendly and boring battery free!

oven

Now in dream land I am totally desiring one of these amazing wood fired ovens by The Stone Bake Oven Company, fancy that, a gluten free pizza in the oven, wood fired roast chicken on a Sunday, uhhhh my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  But in reality a BBQ would do and something like this one below would be just dandy….

bbq

This simple BBQ is all I really need and at the moment it’s reduced to £49.99 from £99.00 at Argos here.  But as I was looking for BBQ  I happened to stumble upon this genius idea…

.dsiposable eco bbq

This is the eco answer to the disposable BBQ, I have to admit to buying lots of these as we haven’t committed to a BBQ of our own yet but this would be fantastic to take camping or have at a party.  You can cook your burgers on it and/or use it as a camp fire.  It’s called the  Ecogrill from www.notonthehighstreet.com available here at a bargain of £10.

So that’s it my wish list so far this week, what have you been dreaming of as the sun has come out?

Dreaming of Dresses

I am a dress fiend, yes I AM, I love them, I love to swish, I love their simplicity, I love that you just whack one on and da-dah! You have an outfit.  So here we have it, another potential regular but this time I’m introducing some awesome frocks.

I’m also introducing a brilliant little online shop, Clarence and Alabama.   Now I have to come clean, Amy-Jo who runs this  fine emporium is a very good friend of mine but I wouldn’t share with you just any old shizzle.  Her shizzle, her beautiful vintage style dresses, are handpicked stunners.  And not only are they beautiful they are also affordable too so go check out her wonder shop.

So here we have a couple I have had my beady eye on recently:

 

lindy-bop-josefine-breton-top-swing-vintage-1950-s-style-dress-clarence-and-alabama_grande

This this chic, French inspired little number is a Lindybop dress called the Josefine Vinatage Style Breton Top 1950s Swing Dress and is priced at a very reasonable £34.99.  Personally I think it’s just perfect for flouncing around doing just about anything with or without a baguette under your arm, sorry for the hideous stereotyping there.

 

Vanity_Project_Clarence_Alabama__Hawaiaan_wiggle_Dress_Peacocks_with_Gilt_Inlay_grande

Hawaain Wiggle Dress £99

This second beauty is actually currently sold out, but I couldn’t not show it as I have had my heart set on it for quite some time.  However the good news is she is bringing it back, oh yeah, and if you follow this smart little shop owner on Facebook or email her here you can even request a choice of material and have the god darn delicious dress made to your special requests.  In fact that’s not all this fantastic little shop offers, if you happen to be getting married and are after some vintage style matching bridesmaid dresses she can do that too.

So what do you think?  Any thoughts?  Got any recommendations of great dress shops or dresses out at the moment?

 

 

 

 

Sew What?

sewing

So I’ve had this sewing machine gathering dust in a box for about a year since we moved, I actually bought it about 4/5 years ago when I was hell bent on crafting a wardrobe worth of clothes for my daughter M and myself, hmmm… I made one dress for her, a very slapdash, hand scrawled, a line trapeze style dress out of fleece (cus it doesn’t fray, less edges to hem) sewed on some buttons, felt rather proud of myself and them promptly didn’t sew anything again.

I went on a course around that time to get my self better accustomed with the machine and had a great day making my very own tote bag. The course was in Brixton at ‘Oh Sew‘ and has sadly now closed, as the lady who owns it has relocated, however there are lots of courses available across the country.

A place I am most interested in going to locally is Guthrie and Ghani in  Birmingham. A very lovely looking little haberdashery, situated in the centre of lovely Moseley, which runs classes weekly.

Anyway I digress, this post is all about showing off, ha ha! Guess what? Yes, the sewing machine has seen the light of day and with a lot of motivation and a small amount of practical help from my mum I’ve managed to make a garment.

The plan was to create a little summer dress for M however when opening the so-called ‘easy’ pattern I noticed not only my bottom jaw drop with a thud to the carpet but also the gaping hole on my mum’s face. She is a pretty damn capable sewer, she’s my go to lady for hems, alterations and she’s the queen of the curtain! But even this lady was confused by this material based mountain. So I was like, ‘well perhaps we can make something simpler, maybe without a pattern?’ And on I went, I folded the fantastic material purchased at the one and only Birmingham Rag Market and drew a rough a line shape of a skirt, using a ruler and ensuring it was plenty big enough at the waist to fit my little model and allow room for the bunching of the elastic.

Anyway, bla de bla de blah later, a couple of tangles on the sewing machine and we had a nearly finished skirt. Mum had to leave at this point and me and my little model had to pick up Mr Potato from work.

The thing is with me, I want everything NOW, I have no patience, not for things I want and was on my own with an un-hemmed skirt. Now I know how to Wonder Web a garment, you know the iron on stuff, that is aMAAZing but I wanted this skirt to be ‘proppa’, you know quality. So call to mum, brief description of hemming given, me more confused than ever and then I went to YouTube, what did I ever do without the internet? I found a lovely American lady who took me through it step by step in less than 4 minutes. I’d got it. An hour later, pressed and hemmed (without burning the carpet this time) it was ready for M to try on before bedtime

skirt collage

So in short this is my plan, not to stop here but try to keep going, you’ll have to hold me to it though. Next projects planned include some essential sewer’s accessories, a pin cushion and a needle book. Wish me luck!

Are you any good at sewing?  What have you made recently?

 

Party Planning for a 6 Year Old (eek)

So this week is my little lady’s 6th birthday, excuse me whilst I fan myself down, knock back a bottle of gin and lay down for a while, but yes, she is growing up (runs away and weeps).  Ok, ok I’m pulling my self together.  I have to say I’m not the biggest fan of these packaged birthday scenes everyone seems so into these days, or is that just Solihull?  I know the kids love them. in fact I have been to some pretty awesome ones this year.  And look life is busy, life is hectic and if it pleases your child and makes your life easier, then go you, in fact, maybe I should have done that, no really *quickly wipes beads of sweat from brow*.  However, I really like that I can, just about, still string a home made, home based party together and M will still have an ace time.  A couple of classic party games, a bit of cheese and pineapple, a bowl of ice cream and a party bag, you can’t fault it can you?  Anyway as always the anxiety has begun, ha ha, I told you I’m not knocking your pre made parties, you seem like fun but I love a struggle!  So I’ve pinned, see here.  I’ve planned, see mad sleepless night’s mind map below, and I think I’m nearly there.

mind mapSo to start with, I had plans of buying invites, of course I forgot and ended up having to make (this aint as glamorous as it sounds) and print them myself. Canva is brilliant for this stuff, fling together a background and some text and it looks like you’ve had the invites designed for you, well I hope it did?

Megan's Birthday

So onto entertainment, party games are where it is at, so the plan is fairly simple:

When they (the small ones, beware) get there, whack on the bubble machine, a little inane music and let them run wild, whilst children assemble offer face painting. a skill you may have picked up on Pinterest and now realise is something you could possibly do as a career should something awful occur at work and you be forced to set up your own business, just saying.

Once all the guests have arrived, commence the schedule (there is precision here, I am a teacher you know).

1.  Activity – Design your own party bags (previously ordered 10x canvas drawstring bags and 3 packets of fabric pens)

2.  Wind it up – musical bumps

3.  Classic, can’t be missed – pin the tail on the donkey

4.  Treasure hunt – preparation well and truly delegated to Grandma, she did them so well when I was a child it would be rude not to

5.  Gather the children for the finale, party would not be a party without, PASS THE freaking PARCEL – it’s always a winner, well it is if you wrap interim presents right?

6.  The FOOD – last year we delegated well, again, to Grandad, it was ace but under appreciated (aka he made so much we wasted half of it) so this year we are pairing down and simplifying, the dinner this year is simply pizza and ice cream.  Slices of warm cheese and tomato doled out to all, a notional offer of crudites and hummus to make me feel ever so slightly virtuous.   And then for pudding, ice cream, I have dreams of going all Pinterest (I know I’m obsessed) and providing individual jars of the stuff with an array of sprinkles but inevitably the paper bowls will be out and the kids will still love it.

7.  Cake – candles burning, wax melting, clanging chorus of  ‘Happy Birthday’.  Cake generously provided by amazeball chef Grandad or bought from local supermarket, equally pleasing birthday girl.  Sliced, packed in party bags with essential bubbles, balloon, toys (Amazon has been a hero here with multi buys of springs and finger puppets for bargain prices) and sweeties/chocolates (of course).

8. Children slowly depart.  Daughter runs round in circles for next hour on sugar high.  Mother collapses, only intravenous drip of wine will revive her now.

Done! Well that’s the plan anyway…

Maybe Mcdonalds wouldn’t be frowned apon for next year?  What do you do for your children’s birthdays?