Wednesday, 3 December 2014

My favourite smoothie recipe (... or good stuff by stealth)

I've been trying to eat a bit more healthy recently. Since I got a new job a few months ago where I'm getting up at 5am everyday, I've been really lacking in energy - never mind concentration after being bombarded with peoples complaints all day long! I've also been hoping a healthier diet might help improve the condition of my skin a bit, something I'm always fighting against. 

Two things I'm trying out are Matcha tea and more leafy greens. Matcha tea is a fine powder of whole ground green tea leaves, supposedly containing a high boost of antioxidants. The brand I bought, from Holland and Barrett, claims it contains 137 x the antioxidants of other green teas! The benefits are said to range from weight loss and anti-aging properties to improving concentration and boosting your mood. Unfortunately it tastes the same as green tea, which I don't enjoy at all. Being a powder, though, it's quite easy to mix in to other things. I've been putting it into fruit teas until now, but I thought I'd experiment with adding it to smoothies. Kale, too, is thought to be a 'super food' packed full of nutrients - it does, however, have quite a strong flavour and it's one of those things I just don't know what to do with, so I thought I'd have a go at chucking a handful of that in too.

My ingredients are banana, berries (I use frozen - cheap and just as good!), a handful of kale and a teaspoon of matcha powder. I also add a little bit of liquid in the form of fruit squash - I don't like milk in smoothies, and while fruit juice is great it does add a lot of unnecessary sugar which will already be in the fruit. Squash adds a little bit of flavour without being sugary - about half a glass is enough. 

I used my hand blender I normally use for soup making and blended it all together. It doesn't come out super thick, more like a juice.

That's the result right there... I'm not going to lie, the kale and matcha makes it come out a bit of a sludgy pink-brown colour, but don't let that put you off. The good news is it tastes much better than the colour!

...Nope, not even putting it into a cute milk bottle with a polka dot straw can help the look of this one, sorry! However, the matcha and kale, as I hoped, are entirely disguised - what you've essentially got is a nice sweet berry and banana juice with bits. Hurrah! 

Making healthy stuff taste good since 2014...

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Vintage and Retro #dicraftswap

The theme of last months #dicraftswap was vintage/retro, a theme I thought would be super easy - turns out it wasn't, as there were just too many possibilities. I was sending to Jenny from the blog Pretty Column, who it turns out is actually not far away from me up north. She listed as her vintage interests the campaign of knitting for soldiers during the wars as well as war posters and propaganda (which made me happy because I'm a bit of a fan too!). I decided to embellish a wooden photo frame with buttons for Jenny to put her own 'retro' memories in, although I did include a 'make do and mend' postcard from the Imperial War Museum.

...Which is what gave me the idea for my bought gift. I sent a copy of the 1943 make do and mend guide produced by the government to advise people how to patch things up and reuse scraps. As Jenny is a knitter too I thought some of it was particularly appropriate...

I put in a few extra treats as well. The post office man laughed at my doily-decorated envelope!

Jenny wrote a post about what she sent to her own recipient here. Her crocheted bunch of flowers are just fantastic!

My parcel arrived from Jess at Dear Wildflower. I had said I loved the 1920's era, and so Jess sent me this beautiful notebook that made me instantly think of The Great Gatsby... when I opened up the rest of the beautifully packaged items I wasn't surprised too see Jess had included a little page cut out from the book itself! She had also included an array of vintage floral patterned and polka dot craft papers and some lovely card blanks and envelopes, as well as a little hedgehog cross stitch kit. I think I'll incorporate the Great Gatsby passage into a card design using some of the flowers from the craft paper sometime. 

 Thank you so much Jess, and thank you as always to Hannah at Dainty and Ivory for organising the swaps. The next theme is Christmas, but is a little more general to allow people to incorporate other ideas too. If you want to sign up get in touch with Hannah by the 15th of November - I promise it's great fun! 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Crafty What Nots Review

So this is a post I've been planning to write for ages, however I've needed a little break from blogging in the last few weeks. At the beginning of the month we had just moved house and I was just starting a new job, never mind adding to the family with a very demanding little kitten who behaves like a princess! It's been a busy few weeks, but I'm hoping to blog more now things have settled down.

Way back at the end of September Jenny from Jennysis Crafts got in touch with me about a new subscription box she was setting up. The idea was that the boxes would contain a range of craft supplies, inspirational ideas, instructions for a project and a personalised handmade gift, all with a value of around £20 for the price of jut £12.50 per monthly box (even less with a subscription!). It's no secret I'm a bit of a fan of crafty type subscription boxes, and having tried a few I was interested in seeing how Crafty What Nots (named after Eeyore's pot of 'what nots and etcs') was different. The box sent to me had the theme Floral Pavillion.

The box reminded me a little of the Linky boxes I've seen popping up on blogs, with its emphasis on papercrafts, but also a little like the old style Crafty Creatives boxes with a selection of bits and pieces in (although I've heard they are bringing out a papercrafting box too). When I opened my Crafty What Nots box (which, by the way, was HUGE) I was greeted with absolutely loads of items, all beautifully packaged. The first thing I saw was a little package with my name on, and Jenny had also included a cute little card to introduce herself.

Inside the wrapping was a personalised notebook Jenny had made for me. A personalised handmade gift is something Jenny plans to include in all boxes, which is a great idea. 

Some of the huge selection of goodies included wooden and card embellishments, buttons, stamps and ink, and a little stack of blank cards for card making. I like that these can be used for anything, really, as they are quite general - I've already been using some of the above embellishments when I was decorating packaging for a recent craft swap, and I'm planning on making some Christmas cards soon so the card blank will certainly be used. All these little bits and pieces could be used to pretty up any wrapping on gifts too. 

There was also a selection of textured craft papers in pretty floral patterns, my favourite bit of the box! I do love cute printed paper, you can use it for making cards, gift tags or boxes, which is exactly what Jenny suggested in her DIY instructions for a gift box in the design of a miniature handbag! 

Jenny's instructions were very easy to follow and with lots of detailed measurements, although it was a nice simple quick craft. and it looks pretty cute! I'd happily put together a few more of these to give people gifts in. 

Jenny also included a leaflet of other ideas of what to make with the box contents - I think some floral bunting to decorate my new craft room desk space might be next! 

If you're interested in subscribing to Crafty What Nots, or just reading more, head over to the Jennysis shop. Thanks Jenny for letting me try it out!

Monday, 22 September 2014

My #DIcraftswap Kawaii experience

Last month, I took part in my first craft swap, hosted by Hannah over at Dainty and Ivory. Although the craft swaps have been taking place for a while, I've been reluctant to join in as firstly I didn't really have the time to commit to it, and secondly I'm not that great at making things (at least, to send to other people... When you're creating things yourself at home you don't mind the flaws and imperfections, but others might!)

I thought I'd give it a go this month, as the theme lent itself to perhaps easier craft ideas. The theme was KAWAII.

I was sending to the lovely Rhiannon from The Sparkly Panda. Here's what I sent...

For the 'made' item I got hold of these cute happy cloud buttons and added magnets to the back, for memos or to brighten the fridge. One of Rhiannon's 'likes' in the craft swap form was weather with faces - quite specific, but perfectly fitted these! 

For my bought item I took a bit of inspiration from Rhiannon's blog, where she had mentioned her love of Totoro. I found this cute ring from a handmade seller...

 I added in a couple of other goodies, stickers, tea and chocolate. Can't go wrong there I think!

The partner sending to me was Hannah from Cupcake Mumma, a blog I only discovered through the craft swap. Its actually proven really great for getting to know different blogs and other bloggers! Here's what I received.

This eye mask has proven very useful to get my forty winks as I just moved house and we don't have dark curtains up yet. Its also super cute! 

A cat notebook I'm using for list making (she obviously knew I was a fan of all things cat!)

A whole bundle of cute other little goodies, more than I photographed. I was spoiled! 

 And finally, Hannah made me the most awesome cookie necklace. I really love this, its just the sort of thing I'd choose myself. Thank you so much Hannah!

So my first craft swap experience was actually really fun, thinking up ideas and getting excited when a parcel arrives in the post. I'd definitely recommend it - I've already signed up for this months, with the theme of retro and vintage. If you want to find out more or join in, head over to Dainty and Ivory for happy mail and happy crafting!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

The 'Made To Be' blogger challenge with and Verything

I was invited by Verything, the lifestyle blog from voucherbox, to take part in their 'Made To Be' blogger challenge hosted with The idea was to pick an item from the shop, explain why you like it, and how you would incorporate it into your space. 

If you don't know of MADE, they offer beautifully designed furniture and homeware at affordable prices, and often have things that are just a little bit quirky and unusual compared to the high street. I've actually been browsing recently, as I'm in the market for a bit of a furniture overhaul. My boyfriend and I are moving in a couple of weeks, from a tiny one bedroom flat into a nice spacious house - the few items of furniture that we have certainly won't fill the space much. Not just that, but most of the furniture was given to us or bought second hand when we first moved in together over 3 years ago. As a lot was old to start with its all looking a bit worse for wear, never mind nothing matching! So this challenge got me thinking about how we could update our home.

The item I chose was the Hooper Storage Coffee Table, sold by for £149.

I LOVE the very 60's design of this, its a beautiful shape and would really stand out in a room and lets be honest, it has a bit more personality than an Ikea LACK that is currently doing the job in our lounge. Of course, like most people we can't afford to replace all our furniture at once. So I've tried to think about how we could incorporate this into our new lounge when we move, adding a few new items to bring together everything in the room with the coffee table while recycling what we already have (namely, a beige Ikea sofa currently hidden under a big orange throw, and a couple of 'cube' bookcases, which take up the most room.)

Here's my little 'ideas board' of how I would style the lounge around the coffee table, after having a browse around the MADE shop. I've tried to stick with mostly neutral colours, but use accessories like rugs and cushions to pick out orangey-yellow sunset tones...

1. Polygon Shelving Unit in Ash - for our ever-expanding book collections.
2. Juno Armchair - the neutral tones would match with our current sofa, and offer extra seating space.
3. Starkey Cluster Pendant Light - I seriously love industrial looking lighting, and this is only £75 - I've seen this sort of thing so much more expensive!
4. Trio Cushion in Mustard and Sports Luxe Stripe in Red - to add a bit of sunset colour.
5. Astoria Rug, in Yellow and Pink - a bright rug like this alongside the coffee table would help make the table even more of a centrepiece in the room.

And of course, the beautiful Hooper Coffee Table itself. I'm so looking forward to moving somewhere a bit more permanent (we've moved 3 times in 3 years so far), and actually being able to put some personality into our space, so although getting ready for the move is pretty stressful at the moment, it will all be worthwhile when we get there. I can't wait for a bit of a shopping spree, actually!

I've got my fingers crossed for winning the blogger style challenge - the winner gets to take home the very piece of furniture they chose, and I really REALLY want that table! I can't promise I won't be buying that cluster light pretty soon either..

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

DIY Chalkboard Frame

For this project I used:

- A picture frame. I got mine from poundland - they actually have a really good range of decorative ones.
- A glue gun (or a bit of strong superglue will do fine).
- Black paint.
- A strong fridge magnet - I had a big ugly advertisement one on the fridge already, so used that.

It's so super simple it doesn't really need much of an explanation, but here goes...

I took the back off the frame and took out the glass... (is there a craft use for a spare piece of glass? Let me know if there is, I never like throwing things away if there might be a use for them)

Then I painted the wooden back of the frame with a couple of layers of black paint (I just used a cheap tester pot from Wilko)...

Pancake was keen to assist, as always...

After I put the wooden bit back into the frame, I got out my trusty glue gun (seriously, the best thing ever) and stuck my magnet on the back.

Ta-da! A chalkboard on your fridge, for shopping lists or cute notes. The DIY button magnets can be found right here too, if you're interested.

Simple and quick crafting is where it's at when I've got a 15,000 word dissertation due in, eeek!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Lucky Dip Club Review - Pet Parade

On Saturday, I received what I can only describe as the most awesome post ever to come through my letterbox. That's no exaggeration. The previous Tutti Frutti themed Lucky Dip Club box (which you can read about here) really impressed me, but this month's Pet Parade box was like it was made JUST FOR ME!

As usual, everything was beautifully packaged, and with a handwritten note from Leona, who is behind the Lucky Dip Club boxes. Having seen the huge piles of boxes she has to post out every month on Instagram, I really don't know how she has the time to do everything!

On opening up the little packages, the first thing I found was this, a wooden necklace featuring some super cute kittens in a basket. I thought it went perfectly with my red dress.

Some stationary in the form of postcards and kittycat gift tags.

A kit to make Budgie Bunting (see below for the finished product!), and what can only be described as the most outrageously bright kitsch socks I've ever owned. My boyfriend, who knows nothing, strongly proclaimed how much he hated them. I, on the other hand, absolutely love them <3

And in the final little wrapped parcel, I found this months personalised item. Leona asked those ordering boxes to let her know their favourite animal or pets name, so instead of something personalised with my own name this month I received this little wooden balloon brooch featuring my baby kitty- my favourite thing in the box! I did try to get Pancake to pose with it for a picture, but unfortunately he isn't very bright... Instead he picked up the brooch and decided to have a little nibble, naughty boy - so that's the best picture we could manage!

Thanks Lucky Dip Club and Leona for making my day! Next months box will be on the theme of 'Think Happy Ice-Cream Parlour' - I'm expecting summery prints and candy colours. You can order here, if you'd like - I really can't recommend highly enough :)

Friday, 18 July 2014

Gooey Chocolate and Walnut Brownies

Ingredients I used:
200g dark chocolate
180g butter
200g caster sugar
110g plain flour
3 eggs
50g walnuts
LOTS of chocolate chips

I melted the chocolate and butter together (the original recipe said to do this in a bowl over hot water, but who has time for that? I chucked it in a saucepan and made sure to keep stirring - less washing up too!). I then whisked up the sugar and eggs, stirred in the melted chocolate mixture (after it had cooled a bit) and chucked in my walnuts and chocolate chips - but I guess you could use any extras, white chocolate chunks would work well. It all went in the oven on 160 for about an hour - it took a long time to cook as the mixture made quite chunky brownies in my small square cake tin. They were still lovely and soft and fudgey in the middle, so that was good! Flowery flags optional, of course...

The best brownie dessert is a melty warm brownie with a big spoon of ice cream, YUM. 

I want to try melt in the middle chocolate puddings next, I'm not sure how hard it would be. Any recipes? What have you been baking recently?

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Sunday Favourites

I didn't get a chance to post my Sunday Favourites last week as I was on my holidays in Barcelona with a group of friends. So this weeks favourites, of course, feature a lot of sun!

My favourite Topshop boat dress / Fun on the beach / Cute red sundress I picked up before my holiday / Rocking my Lucky Dip Club Tutti Frutti patch on my denim shorts

After doing a bit of pre-holiday shopping for some summer dresses I had plenty of cute things to wear on the trip - I love both of the above dresses, even more after discovering they both have pockets! The others on the trip didn't get why this was awesome - I can't be the only one who loves a dress with pockets, right? Somewhere to put your sunglasses? 

Art gallery and fountains / Most terrifying cable car ride ever up to the castle / Gaudi's Sagrada Familia / Reading on the beach 

We did a huge amount of walking, climbing in the hills and visiting all the tourist attractions, but we did fit in a day at the beach (where I wore my awesome bikini from my last post and actually didn't feel that self-concious in it at all!)

Celebrating our anniversary

My boyfriend and I also celebrated our 6-year anniversary - the time has just flown by. We went out for a nice dinner and a stroll around the city, and he pretended not to be bored while I dragged him to some of the cities vintage shops - there is a whole street which reminded me a lot of the Northern Quarter we have here in Manchester. 

While the holiday was great, coming home was good too, as it meant we were back with little Pancake kitty. He'd been on his holidays too, in the countryside, but seemed very happy to see us - until he fell asleep from all the excitement, at least...

So there was my week! Do let me know your own Sunday favourites too :)