Thursday, 31 December 2009
Saturday, 26 December 2009
As I write this I have a sore throat, but I have been in good health this year. I took three days off sick from work this year - two with a bad headache (caused by stress which I didn't manage too well) and the other with this sore throat. My teeth caused me problems in October (which caused the stress mentioned above). This has been sorted out now though, and it gave me the opportunity to look more closely at my health and making sure that I took care of myself better for the future. I also had my first hospital procedure where I had a benign lump removed from my right arm. I now have a one inch scar on my arm which I will continue to treat with Bio Oil to reduce the scar.
I am looking forward to seeing what I can achieve in 2010. My diary shows that it has been a busy year and I hope that in 2010 I focus more on relationships, try new things and develop into a better person, I also want to make this blog more personal, better designed and something to be proud of - a love life wouldn't go a miss either!
Monday, 21 December 2009
Sunday, 6 December 2009
This jug and bowl with the blue small bowl always sit on this ledge above our stairs. The candles were plain Ikea ones which mum added ribbon to.
A little tree sitting on the stairs (I think I may add to this at some stage).
Sunday, 22 November 2009
Thanks for the task this week Brette. I won't be doing the task next week as I will be in New York. If anyone has any last minute tips of where to try please let me know. Mum and I have managed to get tickets to see Martha and I can't wait!!!
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Thanks for a great Martha Monday project - I think I will go and have another slice now!
Monday, 9 November 2009
- I had a wonderful time with Jackie going to see the lights in Oxford Street and Regents Street. Whilst we couldn't get out of work early to get up there to see them being switched on they were still wonderful. And it has made me even more festive than I was before!
- I baked Martha's Pumpkin Cake With Brown Butter Icing after seeing a mention of it from The Blushing Hostess who had been recommended it by Eddie Ross. Whilst Thursday's attempt wasn't great - a little undercooked at the bottom. Sunday's attempt was perfect and I brought 2/3rds into work for colleagues today.
- Mum and I did a wonderful walk from Waterloo Bridge through St James's park to Buckingham Palace before going shopping.
- I wrapped presents for my sister and her partner as mum is off to see them next weekend.
- I watched wonderful fireworks celebrating Guy Fawkes Night with mum.
- I did my Martha Monday's project with great results!
Although it wasn't the busiest of weeks, I really enjoyed it. I took things slower and loved every minute of taking the time to wander around London and enjoy being a tourist for a couple of hours. I loved decided on Thursday afternoon that I would do some baking and then going home and getting on with it.
I am planning to be able to spend my weeks last this for the timebeing. Not rushing around, but enjoying the autumn and spending more time with friends and family as winter draws in.
The ingredients were easy to find, unlike my last pick for Martha Mondays which required a lot of different ingredients.
The recipe was easy to follow and was quicker than the 45 minutes it gives as a guide. I had never cooked bacon without oil and I was amazed that it produced crispy tasty bacon very quickly. Although I see many Martha recipes with chicken stock in the UK it is quite rare to use it. But it worked wonderfully. I ended up with a sort of gravy and it was delicious.
Mum and I had this for our dinner after wrapping a ton of Christmas presents and we couldn't fault it. I thought it was perfect. I can't wait to see how everyone elses turned out!
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Andrew Ritchie's blog Martha Moments was the first blog that I ever looked at. A couple of years ago I Googled 'Martha' and found Andrew's account of attending a Good Things event where he critiqued the day including what they had done that day, Martha's presence at the event and the food that had been served. I loved it.
As I continued my search on the blog I found such detailed information on Martha it was as though Andrew had sat on Martha's shoulder for many years. How he manages to find such wonderful information and know so many facts is beyond me. Subject matters include all of Martha's houses, the magazines, Good Things and details on the business.
The joy of the blog, which I read before I even check out Martha's blog is that it is real. In the past Andrew has commented on things that he feels could be modified, and changed for the better. His annual review of Living is superb and I can't wait until the end of December to see what he thought about the 2009 magazines.
If you are after information on Martha and what is coming up, Andrew's blog is the likely place to find that information. Andrew has twice helped me with information on Martha and he has always been very gracious about my rambling emails.
I truly love Martha Moments and can't wait to have my own Martha Moment so that I can tell Andrew all about it.
If you haven't stopped by at Martha Moments, I urge you to. Andrew keeps a wonderful blog and I love him dearly for keeping me updated on all that is going on in Martha's world.
Monday, 2 November 2009
- Have decided which cookies to make for Christmas (Snickerdoodles, chocolate and peanut butter cookies, chocolate meringues from Smitten Kitchen.
- Made my first ever trip to Anthropologie which has just opened on Regent Street. I was dissapointed. The clothes are lovely and so was everything, but it was so expensive! I purchased nothing, but did find many items for my Christmas wish list.
- Bought my sister and her partner's Christmas presents.
- Brined a chicken for dinner.
- Carved my pumpkin for Halloween.
Maybe it just seemed like a busier week. I didn't do the Martha Mondays project as nuts around here are ridiculously expensive and I don't own a glue gun. I do know that I was changing my bed at 8.00pm last night and still putting clothes away at 10.30pm. Maybe I just need to be more organised.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
- Send Australia presents before the mail strikes took place.
- Write all my Christmas cards.
- Check out the Harrods Christmas department.
- Do the Martha Mondays project.
- Have lunch with ex-work colleagues.
- Visit Brighton and Arundel for Christmas shopping (even though very unsuccesful).
It was not a great week for getting things done. I missed out on the opening day of Anthropologie which has finally opened a store in the UK. I also moped around quite a bit but will make sure that I stay on top of things and have a really good week this weekend.
We liked it, although thought the beef was a bit tough, which was my fault. I would make the sauce again but probably do this with mince as we usually do when we have chilli.
Thanks for a good Martha Monday project.
Thursday, 22 October 2009
With dad having an allotment and spare space there was room for gourds to be planted. They have come out well and on Monday night I sorted them out, cleaned them and arranged them.
Sitting on the mantelpiece. The large gourd was a gift from a fellow allotmenter.
The orange and green gourds sitting on top of my adored cake stand which was a present for my birthday.
Sunday, 18 October 2009
I have decided to document my week so that I can see my accomplishments and what happened that I am proud of.
Since last Sunday:
- Dinner with Charlotte (a good friend and ex-work colleague).
- Tried seabass for the first time.
- The doctor gave me my test results for the lump removed from my arm and it was benign : )
- I did a huge clear out of my makeup and found that I had been holding on to many things that I should have chucked out a long time ago.
- I started my Christmas shopping - books and things from Baby Gap
- I did a trip to Fortnum and Mason with mum and bought teas to be sent to Australia.
- I wrapped presents to be sent to Australia.
- I managed to get into two pairs of trousers that I haven't been able to wear for two years as I bought them needing to lose weight - which I have finally done!
- I finally managed to work out how to put a hyperlink into my blog.
I had a lovely dinner with Charlotte and we had a great laugh. Since getting my test results back I have been a lot calmer. A good week I think!
I made a special trip to the Asian supermarket to pick up wonton wrappers but mine were square and not circular like Marthas. I wasn't fussed. I knew I wouldn't have time to locate circular ones anywhere.
The recipe was simple and apart from omitting the sherry I had everything else I needed apart from sesame oil. I could only find toasted sesame oil but this has been a revelation and I love it.
I made the pot-stickers on Friday night and then cooked up a few which we really liked - the photos were taken on Friday night.
I did have trouble cooking them in a tablespoon of oil as they just stuck to the pan and I ended up chucking those ones out. Instead I used a lot more oil and it was easier to stop them sticking. I then placed them on kitchen towel to absorb some of the oil. The rest we had with a 'Chinese' dinner on Saturday night - pot-stickers, sweet and sour chicken and Muse In The Kitchen's garlic rice - so good.
We all agreed that they were very tasted. I will make these again. To keep them from sticking I laid them on a plate covered in semolina - it seemed to work. Next time I will try to be more like Martha and make them a bit neater and try to keep the air bubbles out.
Thanks Brette - I would never have tried them without Martha Mondays!
Sunday, 11 October 2009
This was a great recipe as apart from buying butter and cream, I didn't have to stock up on anything else which I have had to do with other Martha Monday recipes.
The recipe was easy to make, and I halved it as there are only three of us.
Things fell apart (literally) when I tapped out the still warm cake as directed. I had greased and floured the pan well and the cake was fully cooked so although I thought it crazy to take a warm cake out of the pan I proceeded.
Expletives rolled around my kitchen as the cake fell apart, I had planned to serve it at dinner as a special treat for us. But I continued and 'stuck' the cake back together.
The toffee sauce was lovely and I poured this all over. It was wonderful.
I managed to get one reasonable portion out of the cake, but the rest is a bit of a mess. I had some left over and so put this in a jug to be poured over the cake - true joy!
We however loved it despite the way it looked (a good lesson here I think) and dad even had seconds. I will have my second portion whilst watching the X Factor tonight.
Thanks for a wonderful Martha Monday project - the most successful in the Singer household so far!!!
Thursday, 8 October 2009
I had such a fright on Friday when after eating dinner (and nothing hard at all) one of my back teeth felt strange. I ran to the mirror and saw that I was in need of the dentist as a crack had appeared in the tooth.
In the UK if you get a problem with your teeth on a Friday night, unless you pay for an emergency appointment (which is very, very expensive) or go to the hospital to have the tooth pulled out you have to wait for Monday morning to arrange an appointment.
I stayed strong over the weekend (only breaking down twice in tears) and on Monday morning at 9.00am I rang for an appointment, by 10.30am I had managed to get through and I got an appointment for Wednesday afternoon.
Anyway, today is Thursday and my tooth has been sorted out. I stayed strong despite the enormous needle, drilling, and laserlight.
The thing is, the tooth thing really set me back. I had been coasting along pretty fine (apart from a lot more work at work) but this really did stop me in my tracks. I felt useless until my tooth was sorted out and moped around quite a bit. And of course, talked about my tooth all the time.
But I am pleased to say that I am happy again. My tooth is sorted, work has got a lot better since the secretarys had a meeting about helping each other out more, the weather has improved and I am looking forward to gearing up for a great weekend ahead.
Hope you are all well and not having setbacks with teeth or anything else.
Monday, 5 October 2009
I think this is our first drink that we have made and I was excited (although I did check with Brette to see if apple cider was alcoholic as it is in the UK and was informed that it wasn't. This explains last Christmas when I made a spiced apple cider with alcoholic cider and then added brandy - there were a couple of merry afternoons during Christmas!!!
I had the ingredients that the recipe called for but had decided that I would not add the addition of cream or the honeyed walnuts as I didn't have the time and it would have ruined all my hard work of dieting.
This was good. The recipe was easy to follow and it tasted good (although I couldn't taste any nutmeg). With the addition of brandy (I didn't have bourbon). I had a very merry afternoon and will make this recipe again.
No picture this week I am afraid, as I drank it pretty quickly!
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
I have been addicted to Eve Lom Cleanser since a shopping event at Space NK last year where the goodie bag contained the travel size cleanser. Since then (as the price tag is huge) I have given it to myself as a prize for finishing a charity walk and I had it on my Wish List for Christmas last year.
I love the whole ritual with the cleanser - from applying it to a dry face, placing the hot muslin cloth on your face and then using warm water with circular motions to remove any dirt/makeup. Finishing off with a cold flannel (to close the pores) makes it even better. I highly recommend this product.
On a week day I don't use a morning moisturiser - my skin is currently in good condition and I am always worried about overloading it too much. I therefore use the daily moisture from Garnier at the weekends or when I am not wearing makeup.
At night (and this is stuck to religiously) I use the Garnier night cream and then the Eye Roll-On. My skin always feels lovely afterward and I have been happy with the results.
Lastly, following a tip from Martha that she uses a Serum one hour before she gets out of bed (seems she sets her alarm clock an hour early to apply) I had to get one. Martha uses a YonKa product but that is not in my price range. Instead I turned to trusted Garnier again. Now, I don't do this every night, as I quite like my sleep, but when I do wake early this little tube is on my bedside table waiting for me.
Sunday, 27 September 2009
I did this for dessert on Saturday night whilst we watched Stictly Come Dancing and it followed on from roast pork for dinner so I thought I was on to a winner.
It was easy to make and I followed the recipe to the tee. Even the oven instructions were right.
I had given strict instructions to mum and dad to prepare themselves and that they had to eat some of it before adding extra sugar or cream (which always happens in the Singer household). They agreed. Although dad then ate trifle and didn't try any pudding (I'm still annoyed), mum and I were game - we both agreed that it had the winning ingredients - bread and apple for mum - and apple and cinnamon for me.
We both decided that it was a bit bland - mum blamed the apples of which she suggests using cooking apples and I wished I had used the demerara. Usually I find the Martha puddings to be so sweet. We both added cream and sugar.
I will try this recipe again and change it slightly. Thanks Abby for a good Martha Mondays project. I look forward to next week!
My photo doesn't show the dessert in a great way (if anyone knows of a way to show good looking crumble please let me know).
Saturday, 12 September 2009
But the time had come. I printed out the recipe and ingredients from the internet and headed to the supermarket. I had most of the ingredients although ground mace still is nowhere to be found, and I ended up using blade mace and mashing it through a sieve, but everything else I managed to find.
As I had Friday off from work I put everything on the counter and got to work. Just one problem - the Singer household had only 1 cup of brown sugar so I used caster sugar as well. (Martha I know would never have run out).
The cake was easy to make, besides using up three different bowls. I often wonder what would happen if I just dumped in the flour and spices in one go, but I persisted. The cake for me took an hour to cook, but my cake pan was slightly smaller in size and deeper.
We all liked the cake. I did the cream cheese frosting in a separate bowl so we could add as much or as little as we liked. I wouldn't add the butter to the cream cheese again as I don't think it needed it. And I didn't make the brown glaze as we had no brown sugar.
To anyone who makes the cake, I'm sorry that it had so many ingredients and probably wasn't a good idea if you were on a diet. I hope other people liked the cake. I will certainly make it again and am thinking of trying it as cupcakes for Christmas.
Sunday, 6 September 2009
The book is centres around two maids (Aibileen and Minny) who work in Mississippi in the 1960s. The book tells a story about life back then from both Aibileen and Minny's perspective and their bosses.
Everything about this book is wonderful. I could imagine every character and every scene. It was a book that I couldn't put down - I would read on my way to work, at lunch, on the tube - everywhere. But as the last 20 or so pages came up I was in two minds as to whether I wanted the book to end or whether I should leave it so that the book never had to end. Of course I finished it. And it was beautiful from the moment it started until the very last page.
Since I have read it, mum has read it and loved it (although she didn't cry like I did) and I have now given it to a friend. I know that I will pass this book along to all of my friends and then read it again.
It was truly wonderful.
Saturday, 5 September 2009
This was a joint task with my mum as we were both home to do it whilst doing other chores (mainly gardening). It turned out that it was lucky that neither of us needed to go out for a long period of time as this recipe took for ever!
We started at about 1.15pm and got it out of the oven at about 5.30pm.
Despite my dislike of honey, I embraced the recipe and bought all the right ingredients including Granny Smith apples which I don't really like (I'm more a pink lady girl!)
The problem for me was that it took too long, three times I had to take it to the airing cupboard, I found the instructions hard to follow (why preheat the oven 45 minute before it can go in the oven? - I disobeyed this).
We didn't like it either. I wasn't sure if you ate it as it was, had it with stewed fruit or something/cream/butter. Mum suggests that we through it to the birds and I agree. The pigeons I am sure will love it.
I will leave on a positive though, and say that despite us not liking it, it was good to try something new. I had never made Challah before (and probably won't again) but at least I can say that I have now made it.
Ready to (finally) go in the oven.
Just before being cut.
The leftovers - quite a bit - but the birds will be happy tomorrow!
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
I admit that when I first saw the project I said "Oh no!". Crafting isn't my strong point and I never have the things required. But I decided to give it a go and I enjoyed it.
Here are my results:
Instead of thin wire which I don't have I used pipe cleaners which were available in the colours I required in our stationary shop.
I was worried that I would end up breaking them when 'rouching' them up but I did not break any. I think they could look very effective in a big grouping.
I will be making these for Halloween (which I plan to celebrate in great style this year. In total I made one large one and then two napkin rings which I thought looked the best.
Thanks Megan for a great Martha Mondays!
Sometimes even the best made plans I make don’t go as I wish.
We went away to Devon for the August Bank Holiday this past weekend. It had been booked for a few months, a nice self-catering cottage in rolling hills within a complex which had a tennis court and indoor swimming pool.
I now see that holidays with my family just aren’t meant to be. We argue and as three very headstrong people (mum, dad and I) it just doesn’t work. When I go on holiday (and I hadn’t been away since Australia last year) I want it to be as perfect and stress free as possible. I want to relax, glass of wine on the table with a good book. A nice lunch, or food and see some sights whilst visiting a different part of the country. I enjoy being able to 'tick off the list' a place (or usually a county).
I admit that in some ways we are restricted slightly by taking Violet (my beautiful dog) with us. Until 30th September only certain beaches are accessible if you have a dog and going out and leaving Violet in the cottage is against the rules. However she was very good and enjoyed the different beaches that we took her to, walks in the fields she really enjoyed and she got used to her new surroundings very quickly. We even took her with us to eat one evening (the other time she stayed in the car until we brought her out some leftovers as a reward).
We stayed a few miles away from the town of Honiton. I had been led to believe from a friend that it was a pretty market town, with some good shops and a market on a Saturday. Maybe my expectations were too high, but it wasn’t great. Mum and I had walked up both sides of the road, stopping in shops and at the [very] small market within an hour.
As dad had decided to fish in one of the lakes at the complex on Saturday, mum and I made our way to Gittisham a small village a few miles away and then went for coffee at the Combe House Hotel (not as posh and well serviced as you would expect). Coffee with biscuits for two came to £10.00 – I was shocked!
I had been looking forward to this holiday since we had booked it (in May). Maybe my expectations were too high. I hoped that we would not argue, (and that started the afternoon before we even went), that we would go away and come back relaxed and refreshed. It wasn’t to be.
On the journey back I started to wonder ‘What Would Martha Do?’ I decided that she would have planned the venue more, looking up restaurants to try, places to visit. I also think that she would have back up plans. I am also sure that she would not have put up with the mood of one of the party for very long either!
Oh well, I have learnt my lesson for future trips and hopefully anyone reading this will see how lucky they are when they go away with family!
Monday, 24 August 2009
It looked quite good from the recipe and I was pleased to get rid of another pound of plums (we have been eating victoria plums for the last few weeks and they are beginning to get on my nerves!)
We don't like honey in our house, and never have it in the cupboard. I adapted the recipe and used brown sugar instead.
I had eaten one of the plums when I was chopping them up and they were nice and sweet. But when we plated up the dinner, the plums seemed to be more 'tart' which I thought strange considering the addition of butter and brown sugar.
The consensus was that we didn't like the plums. We ate the chicken with rice and runner beans and it was fine.
I am intrigued to find out what everyone else thought and as I haven't seen a photo I can only assume that I did it right until the magazine arrives.
Saturday, 22 August 2009
Mum and I had a free ticket last night so went along (it was an evening event from 6.30pm). We both loved it, as we hadn't been for a couple of years we strolled around the gardens and did the new treetop walk whilst other visitors sat on the park benches with picnic and enjoyed the cooler weather after a week of very hot, sunny days.
Below are some of the photos that I took on my phone camera. If you are ever in the area or travelling to London on holiday I would urge you to visit. It really is wonderful.
Huge urns with petunias were set around the pound in front of the Palm House:
The Temperate House (in the summer they hold concerts in front of the glasshouse, they are always finished with huge fireworks):
The Japanese Gateway:
The famous pagoda:
Friday, 21 August 2009
Jackie and I started work on the same day. We sat in the same office for the first week and have been very good friends ever since.
We wanted to mark our anniversary in a special way. For months we have been gazing into William Curley’s shop on our way to the sandwich shop. The cakes always look amazing and we decided that we would treat ourselves.
These treats were not cheap – at £4.50 each I was expecting perfection, and would have been very tempted to march back in for a refund had they not been good.
However I just want to go back in for more! The cakes were fantastic; we chose a Passion fruit and Mango Entremet and a Black Forest cake. They were lovingly packaged up and after dinner we ate them. First slicing them in half, then admiring them and then devouring them. I ate the passion fruit one first and it was the nicest thing I have ever tried, the mousse was wonderful, the cake at the bottom was soft and just perfect. The Black Forest had just the right amount of alcohol and was rich from such lovely chocolate.
In the box – they had been glued on the bottom of the box to stop them sliding around
(the photo isn’t great because I used my phone camera)
I will be going back for Christmas presents (they sell a range of chocolates, hot chocolate kits and biscuits) and for the odd treat now and then. In fact I am wondering how tempted my mum will be to try these or some of the others (below). Surely another visit this weekend wouldn’t be wrong!