Tuesday, 8 January 2013

52 recipe challenge

I have read lots of brilliant blogs about New Years resolutions and goals over the last week and it got me to thinking about the year ahead and what I want to achieve. There are so many things. I have some big goals - like me and Mr E buying a house of our own. Some big dreams - like my plans for The Swan's Nest. And some smaller challenges to help me stay creative all year long - the 52 recipe challenge is one of them.

The idea of the 52 recipe challenge is to make one completely new recipe every week this year. I hoping that we'll uncover some delicious new recipes and improve my cookery skills along the way as well.

I spent about 3 hours on New Year's day searching through recipe books for things I want to try and now have a notebook full of ideas - these range from elaborate pork belly roast dinners to simple granola breakfasts but each one is new and I have never made it before. Each week we'll choose the recipe we want to try  and each month I'll let you know what I've made and how it went. I might even share a few recipes as I go along. So far I've made guay tiew nam moo (pork meatball noodle soup)- it was yummy!

This week's recipe challenge is a spicy kedgeree.

Does anyone want to join me in my recipe challenge?

H x

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Handmade weddings: framing flowers from your bouquet

Flowers are such a beautiful part of a wedding day but often very little thought is given to what to do with them after the day itself. This handmade weddings project is a way to keep and display a few of your beautiful blooms.

The day after our wedding I found myself bundling up little bouquets and giving them to friends and family as they left so that they wouldn't go to waste. However, I kept hold of my bouquet - I loved it. It sat on my knee all the way back to London. We were about to catch the Eurostar to Paris and I hadn't really thought about what I would do with the bouquet.

In a hopeful attempt to preserve a little of it's loveliness I quickly picked out a few of my favourite flowers, laid them out  between sheets of paper and kitchen roll and then placed them between the pages in a pile of heavy recipe books to press them and left them there while we were away (there are slightly more tried and tested ways to press your flowers - Martha Stewart explains how here). 

When we got home I was happily surprised with the results, some flowers didn't work so well but I was left with enough to frame.

Creating this display was very simple, I spent a few minutes arranging the pressed flowers, then used a small amount of spray adhesive on the back of each flower to stick them on a piece of brown parcel paper - you could obviously use any paper you like but I rather like the rustic look of brown paper. I put the finished display into a mount and frame. I'm quite pleased with the final result. What do you think?


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Simple and scrumptious - a restorative New Year's day broth

If, like me, you may have had one rum and coke too many last night this recipe is for you. It's a delicious simple broth that is quick to make and really tasty. It feels like comfort food without being heavy and I promise you'll feel a little bit better with every spoonful. This is an adaptation of a recipe for the brilliant Leon cookbook (I can not recommend this book enough - every recipe I have ever cooked from it has been great). 

You'll need (recipe serves 2 for a big dinner):

- 1 small sweet potato, peeled and sliced
- 75g of rice vermicelli noodles
- 750ml chicken stock
- a thumb-sized chunk of root ginger, grated
- About quarter of a red chilli, finely sliced 
- 2 chicken breasts - chopped into bite-size chunks
- half a head of brocolli, cut into pieces
- 100g french/green beans
- a small handful of chopped coriander.

Put the sweet potato, stock and ginger and chilli into a deep, wide pan and bring to a rolling boil for a couple of minutes before turning down to simmer for 5 minutes more. Now put in the chicken pieces abd keep cooking for another 5 minutes. Finally add the noodles, brocolli and beans and cook for a final 3 minutes. Serve in big bowls with some fresh coriander sprinkled on the top. You can add a little soy sauce for seasoning if you fancy it.

I hope you enjoy it!


Sunday, 30 December 2012

Monday inspiration: let's do this

Source: Tarafirma via Pinterest

I've had a few weeks away from blogging as my spare time in December was spent making lots of lovely orders for Christmas decorations from my Etsy shop. But now I am back and feeling inspired after a little break over Christmas. 

This simple image sums up my feelings this New Years Eve. 2013 - let's do this!

H x 

Monday, 3 December 2012

Monday inspiration: the harder you work

Image from TypeEverything via Pinterest

I can already tell that this week is going to be busy busy - it's budget writing week in the day job and I have orders to complete for my little crafty business. But being busy is good and - as this image reminds me - you make your own luck. So I better get on with it.

H x  

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Handmade weddings: ten top tips

All photos are by Chamonix Thurston Rattue
Having spent a large part of the last couple of years planning our handmade wedding - I thought I'd share a little of what I learnt in the hope that it might help some of my readers. So here are my top ten tips for a handmade wedding...

1) Firstly (and probably most importantly) make sure you have a small army of friends and family who are willing and kind enough to help out and don't be afraid to ask for help - In his speech Mr E described our friends as the 'games makers' of our wedding and they really were- we couldn't have done it without them!

2) Make sure you have a willing fiancĂ© – creating a handmade wedding isn’t a one person task, it will take up lots of your free time so make sure you work together. Mr E helped me out so much with all the handmade elements of our wedding - he put up with me spending hours reading wedding blogs and chugging away at my sewing machine, he also spent a whole weekend printing out and tying up invitations and made dozens of gorgeous paper flowers.

3)  Spend some time gathering inspiration before you start – there are so many ideas out there that it can feel a little overwhelming sometimes. Spend some time gathering inspiration so you know the kind of wedding you want and you have an idea of how it will all tie together. Pinterest is such a useful tool and it  is full of beautiful images and ideas. There are also a few blogs I would recommend; 'The Natural Wedding Company' for ideas and wonderful suppliers, 'Junkaholique' for gorgeous vintage styling (and their wedding is one of the loveliest I've ever seen!), and Green Wedding Shoes for a dose of eco-friendly wedding loveliness from the USA.

4) Once you gathered all your ideas, work out what is really important to you and know what you're willing to let go - however hard you work you won’t have time to do everything. I had all sorts of projects and plans for our wedding that I simply didn’t have time to do - at first not getting everything doen really stressed me out but I realised I couldn't do everything and just concentrated on the things that really mattered. Looking back on the day now I wouldn’t change a thing.

5) Invest time in budgeting and sourcing - Handmade doesn't always mean saving money but it will if you do your research and source materials and suppliers wisely. Get quotes from everyone, shop around and asks for discounts if you’re buying in bulk.

This bunting is for sale if anyone would like to buy it!
(please see the p.s. at the bottom of this post)

6)      Set goals for what you need to achieve each month -  this will help to keep you focussed and hopefully save lots of last minute panic. I kept a spreadsheet of goals with things like ‘make 20 metres’ in each month and it really helped to keep things on track.

7)      Scour ebay, charity shops and car boot sales - you can pick up lots of pretty things for a fraction of the price they are in shops  - especially in charities shops and at car boot sales outside of big cities.

8)      If you see something you like give it a go - I didn't really follow instructions with my craft projects- I just looked at photos of how things were made and tried out ideas. Sometimes projects didn't work out quite as I'd hoped but more often than not they did - so just have the confidence to give it a try.

9)Jam jars are your best friends - you can use them for everything from flowers to tea lights to containers for straws and they're free and eco-friendly! You'll be amazed how many you can collect in the months running up to your wedding.  

10)   My final piece of advice is to enjoy it all! You're creating a day that is uniquely yours, a day when all the people you love will be in one place and a day that you'll remember forever. Handmade weddings are definitely not an easy option but can make a limited budget go much further and creating something with the help of your friends and family is lots and lots of fun!

Good luck!

H x

p.s. I'm looking to sell the 100 metres of bunting that I made for our wedding so if anyone is interested please leave me a comment and I'll let you know more.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Monday inspiration: can we? shall we?

Mr E bought me this beautiful Rob Ryan laser cut as a wedding present - it hangs on the wall in our bedroom and I absolutley love it. Today is one of those days when I would like to do just as it says so I thought I'd share it.

H x