Friday, 23 September 2011


I just wanted to take today to congtratulate my amazing friend Becky and her new Husband (who's also a great friend!), Jonathan. They became Husband and Wife in the most beautiful and genuinely emotional wedding ceremony I've been to on 9th September 2011. I hope now that you're back from honeymoon you're reading this Becky! :o)

I love weddings they make me so happy and I couldn't help doing a little blog post to say thank you for the most gorgeous day - oh, and for the handmade truffles Jonathan made as wedding favours! Much Love to both of you, Katy X

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Bramble and Apple Pie Recipe - Real Autumn Food

A friend of the family gave my girlfriend's Mam a huge back of Brambles they'd foraged, and she asked me to make her a bramble pie. I didn't have much time so I told her to stick them in the freezer and I would get them later. On a trip to visit my girlfriend's family in Kent, her Aunty told us that there was an Apple tree which was laden with fruit in their carpark, so she foraged me a bag of apples too. I looked for Bramble and Apple Pie Recipes and found one, which sounded a bit weird, so I dipped in to Mrs Beeton's Larder and pulled out her Apple Pie recipe.

However - horror of horrors - our digital scales had ran out of battery, I wanted a higher yield, I only had measuring cups to use, I had Apples and Brambles and this was for Apples only, but in the Blackberry and Apple variation it suggested replacing the cloves with lemon juice and I didn't have any - suffice to say, Mrs. Beeton was popped back in the cupboard and I made my own recipe up - which goes like this (UK readers can buy a great cup measurer from Amazon

3 cups of plain flour
1 1/2 cups of margarine
1 tsp salt
1/4 pint cold water
A little bit of beaten egg

Approx 3 cups Brambles
1 1/2lb Eating Apples
1/3 cup of sugar
Little extra sugar for dredging
9 cloves

3 x 1 pint pie dishes

Method: Pre-heat the oven to 200C (180C fan oven). Sift the flour in to a big bowl and add the salt - stir it up. Rub in the margarine in to the sifted flour using your fingers. It will resemble the crumble off the top of a fruit crumble. It doesn't really matter if it's not perfect, so long as all the margarine is broken up and combined with the flour. Aerate it by lifting it out of the bowl as you rub and a great tip, if it starts to get too warm and melt, run your fingers under the cold tap until they begin to turn pink with cold.

Add the water to the breadcrumbs a tiny drop at a time - use a round blade knife to mix the crumbs with the water. The dough will form for your pastry, it should be firm but not crumbling. Stick this in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Core, peel and slice your apples. Wash your brambles. Grease your pie dishes. Put a little beaten egg in to a dish and get out your pastry brush.

Divide your pastry in to 6 balls. Line your pie dishes with three of them, and glaze the edges with egg. Divide your apples into 6 equal amounts. Fill the base of each pie with apples, then a third of the sugar, then three whole cloves, then a third of the brambles and finally layer it with some more apples. Cover with the remaining three balls of pastry and pinch edges to seal. Cut 3 steam outlets in to the top of the pies and decorate with leaf patterns as required. Sprinkle a little water over the top and dredge with a tsp of sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes on 200C, reduce to 180C (160C fan oven) and cook for another 20 minutes. Allow to cool for at least an hour (they will still be really warm if you want to serve fresh) before eating or the fruit will burn your mouth! Serve with custard, cream or ice cream and enjoy this perfect Autumn food.

Nanna Kate X

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A Healthy Fry Up with a Nanna Twist

We've all heard of a Grill Up - the dieters take on a Fry Up which involves using low fat sausages, turkey rashers and absolutely NO frying pan. But this week I had something a little different for my supper which took the Grill Up to a whole new level:

Take 1 Onion, 6-8 Mushrooms and a handful of Cherry Tomatoes peeled, chopped, halved, chunky or fine - stick them all in to a wok / frying pan with a drizzle (half a tsp) of Olive Oil and a heavy coating of chilli flakes - sautee over a low heat.

Slice 250g Polenta and grill under a medium heat (depending on taste, you could cube it and stick it in with the veggies).

Poach an egg, yup that's right an egg, and stick it on the top, for a seriously tasty, filling, cheap, easy, quick, low calorie, low fat, high protein, high energy supper. Perfect!

Nanna Kate X

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Green Fingers

My darling Girlfriend bought me an Orchid to celebrate my quitting smoking which I was delighted about after admiring them for ages I finally had one! I also got a Peace Lily earlier this year (aroun Christmas time maybe) and I have become quite in love with my two houseplants. Someone once told me that it's good luck to have houseplants and all in all this year hasn't been too bad - so I am going to try my best to keep them alive... I've never had a houseplant before these, though my Mam used to have loads when we were growing up - and looking after them seemed almost a full time job!

You will see in the picture that my Orchid went from having 5 flowers to just 2, but I think that was due to the damage it has in the Supermarket before it was given to me as it happened so quickly! I use a special mister which my Mam gave me to mist the flower, the leaves and water the bark in which it is potted. The remaining 2 flowers are strong and perfectly formed. I haven't even used specialist orchid food yet, anybody used this? Does it make any real difference?

My Peace Lily has a bit of a longer history. It originally started off as a tiny plant on my desk at work - something to brighten the place up. I watered it every few days with a 200ml cup of filtered water (posh!). Then I was off on holiday and asked some colleagues to keep an eye on it. Unfortunately they over watered it (I thought) as it was truly swimming in water, yet the foliage became pale and floppy. I put it in the sun and it soon recovered, with regular additional watering.

However, when I brought it home with me (where it now lives with my orchid), and the same thing happened I was gutted. I had been watering it, but my Mam took one look at it and said it was actually under watered - she filled the sink and sat the pot in it, so that the plant could drink as much or as little as it liked up. It's now perked back up and is beginning to go green again (instead of insipid yellow). Some blogs recommend removing the lower yellow leaves, heavy watering, allowing the plant to totally dry out in between watering, shaded areas without any sunlight... so I am going to keep on trying and hopefully my first venture in to keeping houseplants won't turn in to a total disaster!

Nanna Kate X

Monday, 19 September 2011

My First Glossy Box

A while ago now I saw a post over on Rosabello's Beauty Blog about Glossy Box which is a monthly beauty box subscription like Latest In Beauty, but rather than sample sizes, you get actual miniatures of products to try - allowing you to develop your user experience (rather than just one application / use) and feedback honestly on the products. But, in order for them to be able to justify sending these super sized samples, they charge £10 per box, plus £2.95 p+p which means you're paying £12.95 as a regular monthly subscription for beauty samples...

I got my first box this month and in order to justify the cost, I had to ask myself a few questions. 1) Was it worth the money and 2) Did I get samples I could use, that suited my 'profile' (which is something you set up with Glossy Box when you subscribe)?

Here's what I got:

Regarding the value for money, I calculated that the Plum perfume is worth about £5 (Source, House of Fraser), the HD Brows Palette is a salon optional extra but rumoured to be worth £20 (Source, Eyelicious), L'Oreal Professional Mythic Oil £11.95 (Source, Feel Unique), then the StriVectin SD Eye Concentrate around £11.40 (Source, Beauty Expert), and finally Nuxe Huil Prodigieuse £4.30 (Source, Feel Unique). So, the total contents are worth around £52.65; meaning that at £12.95 this box is worthy of the money I paid.

I got the box to try some different products as I either stick with the same ones, or experience really adverse effects when I try new products and then the money has been spent and there's not a lot I can do about it. This way I get to try some nice new products without splashing out a whole lot of money and I am sincerely happy with my first box. With one exception.

I don't know why they have sent me an anti-aging product when I quite clearly specified I have no interest in anti-aging products. I mean, I may try the stuff - but I am a little bit disappointed that the service isn't as bespoke as they would like to make out!

I will hang on for another couple of months and see how I get on, fingers crossed they pull their socks up at Glossy Box HQ and send me more of the stuff that's appropriate to me otherwise, despite containing products worth 5 times as much as it cost, I may have to cancel my subscription!

Can't wait to try out all of my new products, so far I've tried the L'Oreal hair oil which is amazing! And, the Mary Greenwell perfume - reviews will follow over coming weeks.

Nanna Kate X

Friday, 9 September 2011

Forget the Crunchie

Get your Friday Feeling on with my latest food crushhhh...

Jme's (that's Jamie Oliver if you don't know, which I didn't!) Hello Sailor Fairtrade Rich Creamy Chocolate Sprinkled with Sea Salt is this new food crush. I bought it [among other treasures] spur of the moment because I love salt and sweet together and the packaging is quite cool, in a gift shop at Hop Farm Park in Kent.

OML, it is incredible - you have got to try it. Buy some. Now! What you waiting for..........

Have a lovely weekend!

Nanna Kate X

Thursday, 8 September 2011


Over a year ago after reading a review on Dooyoo, I decided to give Graze a try. For those of you who haven't heard, Grazing is the 'new' way to eat (also known as the more traditional little and often). Graze supply daily / weekly / monthly boxes which contain four punnets of healthy, filling, energising foods which keep you full for longer and provide you with plenty of nutrients to ensure you keep well and get the essentials you need each day. Much nicer than a packed lunch box...

Anyway, I suspended my weekly box for around 2 months because I am following a low-ish calorie diet and lots of Graze's punnets include high calorie stuff (olives, nuts, dried fruits, etc) plus I'd chosen not to receive anything containing disgusting Raisins - I hate them! But I always seemed to get something with them in!

I forgot all about my subscription re-commencing until a little brown box landed on my doormat this weekend. And, my, how things have changed. The total contents of my box totalled just 450 calories and kept me full from their arrival until bedtime! Graze have introduced dips, flatbreads and flapjacks (I think that I didn't get any of these to try in the past as they were in high demand!)

I got a generous wedge of West Country Cheddar, Red Onion and Chutney Focaccia, a cute pot of Tomato Dipinetti with Rosemary Grissinetti and Tomato Chutney along with a punnet of Banoffee Pie (Banana Coins, Fudge Pieces, Pecan Nuts, Almond Slices) and Little Figgy Went To Market (Apples, Cranberries and Baby Figs). My mouth was watering and there wasn't a Raisin in sight!

I am already excited to see what this week's box will contain!

Nanna Kate X

PS: Fancy checking Graze out? Here's a code for one free box and one half price box - enjoy! T7P5K4Z3

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The Perfect Polish...

For Christmas this year I got a Boots No 7 French Manicure set. The minute I opened it I blanched, knowing I am absolutely useless at French Manicures; I did what I could to feign excitement... I felt so bad though, it was such a nice gift and I decided this time, this would be the turning point when I worked out the 'secret' to a perfect polish.

To tell the truth, my first (and second!) attempts were useless, but then this age of modern technology slapped me right in the face and I decided to Youtube French Manicure tutorials. I did what I always do and selected the first video which a) didn't have awful music and b) wasn't just advertising for a specific product. I watched the video and then got to work; regretfully, I didn't save the video or I would link to it right now - but after following that tutorial I am eternally grateful to it's creator as now I have finally mastered a French Manicure...

As you can see, my nails are dull and the whites are almost the colour of my nail beds!
My trusty equipment!
Step 1 - soak nails for a few minutes in some warm soapy water. Scrub with a cuticle or hand scrub if desired (I do, I use Boots No 7 Revitalising Hand Saviour)
Step 2 - dry hands and using a cuticle stick / cuticle emery gradually exfoliate and push back cuticles
Step 3 - either buff the ridges out of the nails or use a ridge filler, like Collection 2000 Base Coat / Ridge Filler (cheap as chips and works like a dream!)
Step 4 - apply cuticle oil or cream. I use Solar Oil as I have always found it most nourishing and it lasts forever if this type of pamper session is only a once in a while treat; allow oil or cream to soak in, dry off any excess

Step 5 - paint tips white - don't use those silly guides or be too bothered about getting it neat. Just plaster the whites on and allow a sufficient amount of drying time. I am impatient and tend to use Elegant Touch Rapid Dry Spray to hurry it along - my sister tells me hairspray actually does the same trick, though the proper stuff doesn't smell as bad!
Step 6 - using a fine tipped paint / make up brush and some nail varnish remover neaten up the white bits... take off any excess on your fingers, thin out lumpy bits like on my thumb nail and create moon shapes which mirror your own half moons (to make it look as natural as poss) by brushing nail varnish remover along the line of your white tip

Step 7 - allow nail to dry for a little while longer (the white part will now become a little tacky after the nail varnish remover has been applied to it). Once set for a few seconds, run nails under a really cold running tap
Step 8 - using the pink / peach colour in your manicure kit paint over the whole of each nail, carefully - you do not want to go wrong at this stage!! Allow to dry
Step 9 - If desired, apply a glossy top coat (I use my Collection 2000 Base Coat / Ridge Filler as I don't like a really glossy finish - you can also use a Matte top coat)
Step 10 - relax and admire your handy work...!

Good luck, can't wait to hear how yours turns out!

Nanna Kate X

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

My Winter Checklist

I know we're barely in September, but I just got to thinking about how quickly the year is flying and how bad last winter was (worse than the one before) and how this winter is supposed to be worse again. I must admit, this fills me full of mild panic whenever I think about it. I don't want to get to October or November and see the snow and realise I am unprepared then end up queuing for Wellingtons or Rock Salt to find the stores have sold out or that they've jacked up their prices adding serious convenience premiums - so this year, I am planning ahead.

I'm guessing I've lost most of my readers now - who wants to think of this on a dreary Tuesday morning, after the rain plagued Summer we've just endured? But for those who are still listening, here is my winter survival plan which I hope helps some of you out there!

Home - Last year our sloping pathway turned in to a [couple of inches thick in solid ice] death trap. I shovelled and chipped the ice away but it soon returned and when we bought and laid rock salt to prevent it, we didn't salt the external path and car park. This year will be a different story - even if I have to grit the whole court, I refuse to skate to the car every morning!
  • Snow Shovel
  • Large Rock Salt Supply
  • Waterproof Rubber Mats
  • Wellington Boots, Thermal Socks and Gloves for all the Family
And, because it's not all doom and gloom, I am buying a sledge at some point before they sell out again like last year and stock piling Snowman building supplies (old scarves / hats, twigs and coal)!

Pets - Our dogs live inside and have the most pampered existence imaginable. Last year though, we got a baby rabbit, who quite happily lives outside. He survived the winter fine, with his Hutch Hugger and lashings of extra hay; the only issue was that his water was continually frozen on a morning. Then there's the regular visits from the wild birds who will be relying on us in winter more than ever.
  • Bottle Snug for Rabbit's Water Bottle
  • Spare Water Bottle kept inside to switch with outside bottle if frozen
  • Bird Food for Wild Birds (going to try some recipes for home made fat balls, etc this year!)
Car - common sense applies a lot here, particularly to driving in the snow; the BBC and the AA have some excellent tips to keep in mind. From experience, my biggest tips are:
  1. Do not use boiling water on the windscreen to de-ice it. It will crack or weaken the glass. Scrape off the ice and snow using good old fashioned elbow grease
  2. Do not leave De-Icer in the car (it won't work if the can gets too cold). If you do use De-Icer, use a scraper to scrape the window after spraying it; otherwise the melted ice will drip and re-freeze 
  3. Leave wipers off when you park the car. If you have them on they will burn out when you turn the car back on and they are trying to move, but can't because they are frozen to the windscreen
  4. Prepare a cup of boiling water and soak the metal part of your key in it allowing the metal to heat up if you have frozen locks (a little like heating a spoon to cut through treacle)
  • Confirm Breakdown Cover T+C and ensure contact numbers stored in mobile phone
  • Spare shoes which are dry and warm to change in to. Wellingtons or Snow Boots can be slippery and cold to drive in after trudging through ice and snow!
  • Learn to change a tyre, ensure Jack, Wheel brace, etc in boot
  • Washing up bowl / plastic storage crate of Rock Salt and small shovel (use the grit under tyres to get out if stuck)
  • Jump leads
  • Collapsible Shovel
  • Soft nylon / bristle sweeping brush to 'sweep' snow off roof and bonnet of car and prevent it flying over windscreen when driving (super important after the changes to the law) - check you can reach the whole roof with it (I need a full sized sweeping brush whereas my Dad can get away with a hand brush)
  • Ice Scraper
  • Spare Thermal Gloves, Scarf, Hat
  • Blanket
  • First Aid Kit (chocolate is included here - or Kendal Mint Cake if you can stomach it!)
  • Torch and Batteries
Winter 'Self-Service', check:
All fluid levels
Anti-Freeze in engine
Anti-Freeze in screen wash (not engine anti-freeze, it will ruin paintwork!)
Tyre treads and inflation
All bulbs, familiarise myself with how to change each bulb and carry an emergency bulb kit in the boot
All wiper blades
Tip: buy some rubber car mats now - fabric ones freeze if they get soaked from snowy feet and this can cause real slippery trouble!

So that's my plan - I feel better already having written it all down... I just hope I've thought of everything - if you have anything to add, I look forward to your tips!

Nanna Kate X

Monday, 5 September 2011

Kate Makes

I am addicted to Mollie Makes, a craft magazine which exploded on to the shelves a couple of months ago. I subscribed (much to the dismay of my other half... 'what do you mean another subscription?!') promptly in time for Issue 4 (I got Issue 3 in store). But as I have such a lot on at the moment, I missed out on making the mini-project free gift that came with that issue and now that Summer has faded away, I don't really feel like making a fun summery necklace...

This weekend though, I put some time aside and made the Issue 5 mini-project which is a Lovely Linen Gadget Case. I have never used Bonda-web (Wonda-web) to applique fabric before. I am a traditional kinda gal and usually stick to a nice blanket stitch. However, I am now a convert, it's so much easier using this quick iron on method and if you cut the Bonda-web to perfect size, there's no danger of frayed or tatty edges. Here's how my attempt to make up the mini-project turned out:

My aspiration...
Cutting the pieces and tracing the templates
Bonda-webbed the design, sewed what's meant to be a branch on with red embroidery thread
Right sides in, backstitch to finish - I hate running out of thread when you have such a small bit left to do!
The finished project in action
I think it looks cute as a button matched with my red Babushka Ear Buds... Can't wait until Issue 6 to make the coin purse - and who knows, the Autumn might inspire a new design knot necklace after all...

Nanna Kate X

Thursday, 1 September 2011

August 2011: My Month in Numbers

I'm not the most disciplined person in the world. I began this blog as a craft and baking blog and all I seem to write about is random, personal musings. So, for me to be on my second post in this series is a big deal to me! I am so looking forward to reading Julie's Month in Numbers over on Notes on Paper. If you don't read it already, make sure you check it out and also look in the comments, lots of people link back to their own posts there...

22 = days not smoking - by far my proudest moment of the month
£69.52 = saved through accomplishing not smoking for 20 days!
220 = number of cigarettes NOT smoked this month...

17 = pins on my Pinterest board of things I am loving right now!

1 = attempt it took for my girlfriend to pass her driving test this month, *Congratulations Babe!*

2 = number of mini breaks. Glamping and the Sidings in York, then a long, lazy weekend in Dartford, Kent. The Bluewater Shopping Centre is my new favouritest place in the world!

£6.99 = spent on a jar of Goober Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly.

£8.99 = spent on a box of Lucky Charms. Ok, I know this is ridiculous, but look at the shop they both came from... how I didn't spend more on delights such as Coconut M&Ms and Tootsie Rolls is beyond me!

1 = home made Yahtzee sets. I am addicted. And the eBay seller of a beautiful 1980's set just couldn't dispatch it quick enough. Queue Tuppaware, Washing Powder Cup and random Dice...

 1 = exam sat for my Masters degree... Nerve wracking wasn't in it. Can't wait for my results!

7 = items bought from eBay - a bit quiet on the online auction front this month. I got Mentha Piperati seeds (planning to grow my own peppermint next spring), Chinese Lantern, Board books x 3 for my nephew. Following on from his trip to the library he won't part with the book he picked and check out! As well as A Big Dog (an Opposites Book), I got him A Black Cat (an ABC Book) and A Red Train (a Colours Book) plus, he loves drawing and painting now, so to re-live my childhood I got him a Paint with Water Book! Oh and my seventh purchase was Nicorette patches.

60 = minutes spent in The Corner Cupboard hope these pictures explain why!

£14.95 = entry to the Hop Farm Park in Kent, where we visited on our mini break - what a fabulous day we had! As well as a petting zoo, a dinosaur maze, a big top, a pirates cove and a virtual air hockey table (where you are the paddles!), there's a magic castle, wax works, dungeon and a historical tour of Hop picking. My favourite picture of the day? The toddlers toilet. So tiny!

So that's my August in numbers, it was a great month and even though it was a rainy end to the summer I am so looking forward to September, as I love Autumn. Bring on the homemade soup, dark and early nights, cosy PJs and winter woolies.

Thanks for calling by...

Nanna Kate X