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April 2015

March 2015

Fit for purpose

When I decided to return to my blog I wondered what aspects of life I wanted to share. Should it be a yarn only space? Would I get back into papercrafting eventually and want to share that too? What about cooking which I enjoy so much more that I have time. Oh and perhaps a bit of the everyday life.

Is it too much to share it all?

Do people really care?

And will there be enough traffic over my blog to even bother with it again?

When I go on a blog hop I admit to wanting to read it all. I love to see what people are creating, but I also want to read about what makes a person tick. What do they like and what inspires them, what makes them mad and what makes them happy. What is their everyday like.

I feel like this when I look at celebrities too. I wonder what fills their 'normal' days. You know the days when they're not due on the red carpet!

My life isn't all rock 'n roll but it's a happy one and I am so content right now.

I am a papercrafter (right now only occasionally)

I'm obsessed with all things yarn and love to knit and crochet

I love to cook and am learning so many new recipes

I am learning about gardening, very slowly!

In 2015 I have written in my diary every day

I am grateful every day for everything I have in my life right now!

Thanks to a lovely long time crafting friend I am slightly obsessed with colouring in. (More on that soon)

I dabble in jewellery making.

I am addicted to buying journals. (This is a serious problem!)

I am on a quest to simplify my life, leaving more time for my hobbies.

If I want to try something new I tend to over research to the point that I don't ever start. (I have so many drawing instruction books and pencils and sketch books ready for when I man up and just do it!)

I am so pleased to be creating with the Great Schemers crew.

And now I'll leave you with a little bit of kitchen inspiration. I love these herb pots on my window sill!

Kitchen herb garden

Happy days!

Ciao xx

PS It's our wedding anniversary today, 8 happy years xx


Quick and easy stir fry

One of my favourite meals during this years fast has been vegetable black bean stir fry. My favourite take out is Chinese and this meal is the fasting version of a take out night!

1. The ingredients are ready prepared so no chopping!

Stir fry

2. Cooking time is all of 5 minutes.

Stir fry made

Of course I sometimes add a few prawns!

I keep a supply of noodles in the cupboard, and the veg and sauce is found in the veg isle so each week I just grab one of each for a quick easy meal.

Ciao xx


Great Schemers week 2 - Mandala

My offering for this weeks Great Schemers colour inspiration is a crochet mandala. I love bursts of colour outdoors and this theme screamed summer nights, cocktails in the garden and the BBQ fired up.

Mandala

The mandala pattern is from issue 7 of Simply Crochet magazine, rounds 1 to 8.
I threaded the dark grey ribbon through the holey pattern created by the red rows and I love the contrast of colour!

I'm looking forward to a summer night so I can decorate the garden with aqua tissue paper pom poms, and the table with red and coral candles and black napkins.

Mandala close up

I just love this theme! Don't forget you can find 'the great scheme of things chat group' on facebook where you can share your projects and take on the schemes.

Ciao xx 


Easter parcels

For the past few years I have made little Easter parcels for the kids.

Last year they had a cone of eggs and a little lindt bunny each....

Cloche easter

This year I decided to put all the eggs into one basket. I'm here all week ;)

Well it's really a cellophane bag....

Easter 2015 1

I bought the cellophane bags from eBay seller jjcm0312 and the delivery was super quick! The tissue was left over from last year, also an eBay purchase, and ribbon from my stash.

Easter 2015 2

We buy large packs of eggs and my dear husband splits them up into little piles although I did notice that he had squirrelled away a few for himself in the process!

Easter 2015 3

I love that doing the Easter parcels has become something of a little tradition and something we do together each year.

Ciao xx
 


Let's eat Mediteranean

I love dips and picky food so eating a mediteranean diet suits me!

During my fast I need to go to the store more often because of the type of food i'm eating. To be honest going from a monthly menu plan and grocery shop to having to top up the food each week is a pain! And it's expensive.

So I've been on a mission to think of ways to cut that pain and expense down. Ideally I want to just do the veg aisle and get out of the store as quick as possible.

Two foods that I buy alot of during my fast is hummus and falafel. And both of these I can make myself.

I use Jamie Olivers best basic hummus recipe, it's super quick and so yummy! With this recipe I can make as little or as much as I need a week and nothing goes to waste!

I planned to make and photograph more food this past week for todays post but have been struck down with a horrid cold so instead I'm just sharing my recipes and letting you know they are great!!

Falafel is a great filler and can be eaten in wraps or pitas or just dipped into hummus. You can make your own or buy a dry mix that you just add water to, stir and let rest for 5 minutes. Here is a great recipe for Falafel Burgers.

Falafel 2

Another of my favourite dips is Baba Ganoush. It takes a little while to make because you need to roast the egg plant, but it's well worth the effort!

We always have jars of olives, pickled garlic and roasted pickled peppers in the fridge for mediteranean lunches which are a must in the summer. It's easy food that can be eaten at a leisurely relaxed pace!

Just three weeks of fasting left! It's going so quickly.

Ciao xx


Mini bunting

I made this bunting for the first colour scheme over at The Great Scheme of Things on the 14th of March.
I love bunting and when the weather warms up I like to adorn the garden with colourful garlands that flap away in the breeze. It makes me think of holidays and warm places and cool swimming pools.

Bunting is quite hard to photograph so I thought that for the purposes of this project I would simply string together three little triangles so I can photograph it as a whole piece.

Bunting 1

What I didn't realise is that I would fall head over heels in love with this teeny beauty and want to make one for every room of the house!

It's the perfect size for my shed!

or above a baby cot, in a caravan, in the bathroom or above a crafting desk.

Bunting 2

I used Rowan hand knit cotton as I have a stash of half balls and these colours were perfect for the scheme. I wanted my triangle to be quite holey and floppy so I used a 5mm crochet hook.
I was going to write out the pattern for the triangle but while searching for an edging, which I found on this lovely blog, I saw that her pattern is pretty much identical to what I did and so well written that it's pointless trying to reinvent the wheel :)
Just a few differences:
I made two chain between each three treble granny on the straight edges,
Three rounds was big enough for me,
I did 5 treble in the 'point' corner not 3.

Bunting 3

I was going to add buttons to the bunting but remembered these sweet paper roses on wire stems I have had for years! I simply threaded the wire through the stitches at the back of the top edging.
There are many safe alternatives for bunting that can be reached by little fingers! Like crochet or felt roses :)

Now I wanted to talk about the construction of bunting in a bit more depth as I have put together quite a few over the years and never been 100% happy with the result. Normally I chain a length of around 45cms and then attached the first triangle by double crocheting into the top right hand corner. And while this seems to be what everyone does, I don't like that the thinness of the chain. I wanted something a little chunkier.

Bunting close up of hanging

For this bunting I made a 45cm chain and worked a row of double crochet back along the length to the beginning. The length does shrink slightly so remember to take that into account.
I then attached the first triangle with a double crochet into the top treble of the first scallop.
I have zoomed into one of the photographs to show you what it looks like...

Bunting close up of join to scallop

I worked double crochet, making 1 dc into the corner chain spaces, 1 dc into each of the trebles and 2 into the chain spaces along the top edge...

Bunting close up of dc edging

When you get to the end of the triangle, double crochet into the top scallop again.

I made three chain inbetween each triangle. The thinner chain doesn't bother me here maybe because it's only three chain. If I made a longer bunting with bigger gaps it may bug me.

 The thing I love about crochet is that a pattern is just a starting point. You will always have your own tweeks to make and things that work better for you.

I love this little project so much!

Ciao xx


In the garden

While we're having a mild spell, Stu and I have been in the garden cleaning up the flower beds and trimming trees ready for spring. I love to clear away the dead flower stalks and leaves to unearth tiny bright green shoots of new growth peeping out of the soil.

Part of the garden spring clean is evicting the spiders from my little shed. I had hoped my shed would be more of a summer house but I share it with a variety of garden tools and chicken supplies so it can get a little cramped.

Shed

I do however have space for a lovely chair and Josh and I love to sit here in the sunshine with a cup of tea and a magazine. It's a humble space but it's mine :)

With much excitment a little blue tit family are making a nest in the bird house that is overlooked from the kitchen window. We have had a mama and papa in it every year since it was installed in 2007 and I spend hours leaning on the kitchen counter just watching their comings and goings as they work tirelessly to feed a hungry brood.

Bird house

The best part of the warmer weather arriving is being able to fire up the braai. Cooking outdoors is deep rooted in this South African couple living in the heart of Hertfordshire. So far from the country of our birth.

Spring my dear friend, I have missed you...

Ciao xx


The Great Scheme of Things

I am so excited and honoured to be colaborating on this new blog, The Great Scheme of Things, with some lovely ladies!

Today is launch day and this blog is going to be so full of awesome inspiration you are going to want to visit every day!!

So the idea is that each Saturday we will introduce a new colour scheme, then for the following 6 days there will be project posted using that colour scheme. These projects will be anything from paper craft and mixed media to knitting and crochet to jewellery making, oh the possibilities are endless.

Everyone is invited to play along, so if the colour scheme inspires you to create, please leave a link in the comments so we can come and have a look!

Here is a sneaky of my project...

Bunting 3

I'm thrilled to be part of this lovely team :) Don't forget to bookmark so you can keep checking back.

Ciao xx


Prawns

I loved prawns as a child. My grandparents would take me out for prawn dinner whenever I visited and loved to watch how swiftly I peeled each one before popping it into my mouth. Prawns were by far my favourite meal.
Then I went through a moody teenager phase where I wouldn't eat anything with my fingers, and the thought of a prawn with his skin on made me sulk.
Thankfully that didn't last forever and my love of prawns returned.

For my fast this year I wanted a bigger variety of prawn recipes as last year I think I only cooked prawns two ways.

Today I want to share three yummy ways to cook Mr Prawn. Enjoy!

First up is shrimp and asparagus stir fry with lemon sauce. I made this for the first time last week and is a Pinterest gem that I pinned quite a while ago with the intention of using it over the fasting period.

Prawn lemon stir fry

For such a tasty meal, I was surprised that the preperation and cooking time was so short. I think it took 15 minutes! The recipe calls for a tablespoon of sugar in the lemon sauce which I think makes the dish a little too sweet so I will use just a teaspoon next time. I served it with egg noodles and prawn crackers and will try it with rice next time as an alternative.

Prawn lemon stir fry finished

A big thumbs up for this meal! And it's going on my meal plan as a regular dish.

Recipe two is from a lovely old Greek cook book that we inherited from Stuarts mom.

Prawn pilaf book

I found the book on Amazon here, as used, and it looks like it's not in print anymore. Our copy is well used with notes in the margins and everything i've made from it has been a success.

I am going to share the recipe (having searched the internet for recipe copyright laws and pretty sure I won't get into trouble as it's no longer in print!!)

Prawn pilaf
¼ cup of olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsp of sugar
2 tbs of chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1kg prawns or shrimps
1½ cups of rice
water

Cook rice as per packet instructions

In a large pot, heat oil, add onions and fry until brown
Add the tomatoes, sugar, parsley and salt and pepper, and cook slowly until the sauce thickens
Add the prawns, stir and allow to cook for a further 10 minutes.
Serve

Prawn pilaf dish

The recipe also calls for butter to be heated with the oil, but as I started making this during my fast last year I didn't add it then and still don't.

I just adore this meal! Try it!

Part of my South African heritage is a love of cooking outdoors over an open flame and having a sunny warm spring weekend in March meant doing just that.

During my fast I don't want to lose out enjoying a meal cooked outdoors on the braai so my lunch was prawn and veg skewers.

Prawns 1

This is a marinade rather than a recipe.

In a small container combine:
¼ cup of olive oil (I use a chilli infused olive oil)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon of course ground salt
½ teaspoon course ground pepper
1 teasoon of thyme (dry is fine but if you have fresh then it's better)
Dash of lime juice (concentrate will work, but if you have fresh all the better!)

I usually baste my skewered prawns in the marinade and leave covered (or in a cold oven) to absorb the flavours.

Prawns 2

Just before they go on the grill they get another brush with the marinade. And if there is any left over they can have a mid cook brush too.

Prawn skewers also make a great BBQ starter.

Prawns 4

YUMMY!!

Next week I'll share some mediteranean inspired meals.

Ciao xx