Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween!

We carved our pumpkin yesterday it is so super cool! We've placed it right on the window ledge so that the children can see it as they Trick or Treat. Best bit of all, the pumpkin only cost £1 from Asda, plus we got a really cool pumpkin carving kit from my Mam which was such an awesome help for carving it (well I assume it was, I was just admiring my girlfriend's handy work and sorting all the seeds out!). In an attempt to be frugal and also because I so desperately wanted to try it, I decided to use some of the pumpkin flesh for a pie.

After seeing A Beautiful Mess's post on Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes, I asked my friend over at Home Matters Most for a pumpkin pie recipe, and she sent me the link for the traditional Libby's Pumpkin Pie recipe. The only trouble is, we don't have canned pumpkin here in the UK, so instead I prepared my fresh pumpkin by boiling it in a pint of water, squeezing out the water through a thin, clean tea towel and then pureed it in the blender.

While I was waiting for the pumpkin puree to cool, I roasted the seeds with olive oil, cracked black pepper and sea salt. I plan to keep them in a little tub and add them to my salads over the next few weeks; or maybe just snack on them - they are amazingly tasty!

I also used the remaining pumpkin flesh and added a bit of vegetable stock plus some spices, and a little cornflour to thicken, to make soup for my lunch at work.

I found a suggested Pumpkin Spice Mix recipe which I made up for my pie. I made double yield so I can enjoy some pumkin spiced lattes this week and I used about 1/4 tsp mixed with sugar and a little salt for my pie.

I added two eggs to the prepared fresh pumpkin and beat them in, then added the sugar, salt and spice. Finally I drizzled in almost a full tin of Evapourated Milk (I've never heard of it being used in a recipe for years!). The mix was spooned in to my pie crust and after 50 minutes cooking time, we ended up with the most beautiful pie I could have hoped for! (excuse the bit on top which is a little well done!)


I think the whole cooking with Pumpkin may become something of a tradition and I certainly hope to make at least one more pie this year (hoping that tomorrow the pumpkins are pennies in the Supermarkets!). Do you have any Halloween traditions?

Happy Halloween!
Nanna Kate X

Friday, 28 October 2011

Friday Cake

Don't you just love cups of tea? And who doesn't love cake? But together, on a tray with a real pot and luscious Earl Grey, freshly baked and little pretty cups, is just a whole other matter. It takes twenty minutes to make a Victoria Sponge and a further twenty to let it cool and ice it. It costs a couple of pence and is so much more of a better tea time treat than the bought stuff. So, next time you have guests for tea, make like Mrs. Beeton and make something mouthwatering and homemade.

Nanna Kate X

Thursday, 27 October 2011

It's Glossy

I recently blogged about my first glossy box. I found it to be excellent value for money and a super way to try out some new products I wouldn't normally have considered. This month my box arrived and I was delighted. Can't wait to try out some of the products in it; well I already tried the Dermalogica Lip Renewal Complex (couldn't wait!) and it's awesome!

There are loads of beauty blogs which will tell you what's in, what's not, what's good and what's awful; so I shan't write too much that you've already heard elsewhere. I just wanted to let you know if you're reading this, that you should get over to Glossybox and sign up now. Enjoy the value, the quality and trying new beauty treats!

Nanna Kate X

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Mini Midweek Haul Post

This is a cheating Haul post (again, I'm Thrifty, what can I say?). I got given these lovely Fake Bake goodies by my girlfriend's cousin who got them on a suncare education course.

The Beyond Bronze Shimmer Brick is perfect for me as I have such pastey skin that I only need a sweep of blush on each cheek and it makes a big difference! The Premium Tan For Face And Body Wash Off Tan Shimmer is even more perfect as it is wash off and pretty much mistake proof! Perfect for my skin tone, perfect for my clumsy application technique and perfect for an evening out! Thank goodness for freebies...

Nanna Kate X

Loving Lomos

It has been way too long since my latest Lomography Adventures post and this is largely due to the cost of developing the film; when I got the last lot developed and it cost £51 it left me reeling for a little while ha!

My Gorgeous Nephew, Super Cute!
We got some black and white films from a guy at work, he charged me £10 for 5 films - they are seriously treble that usually. I wanted to do a 'study' of sorts on local churches, but then went completely blank and I could only think of two close by?! This is the result:

Butts Lane Church and St Lawrences Church
You can see where I've not wound enough or where I've mistakenly over exposed or double exposed, but I think I am definitely improving? I also had some colour 120s left which my girlfriend got me for Christmas, so I decided to use up a couple of these up on the local 'sights'.

Whitby Harbour, N. Yorks / Teesside Airport Sunset / Bottle of Notes, Middlesbrough / Whitby / Guisborough Priory
The shot I was so particularly proud of though, which I think captures everything Lomography means to me is this...

Have you had any lomo adventures lately?

Nanna Kate X

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

A Piece of (Family Tradition) Cake...

I love Christmas Cake! There we go, I've said it, I definitely think it's one of life's Marmites. When both of my Nannas were alive, they made Christmas Cake for the whole family plus a bunch of friends too; their Christmas Cakes were exceptional and they taught my Mam how to make them for us. This year, I decided at 27 it was about time my Mam taught me how to make it to the 'old family recipe'. Plus I am trying to organise my Christmas so this just seemed a logical and timely step in that whole process (and it has sincerely made me in the mood for Christmas!!!!!)

The first thing about Christmas Cake is that the ingredients are expensive. I priced it up roughly and for the ingredients I got it worked out about £11 for the size I made. I tell you now, don't waste money on expensive ingredients - it will not make the taste any better. I used Asda Smart Price SultanasRaisins and even Smart Price Butter plus the cheapest glace cherries, almonds and flour, etc. It's the methodology rather than the cost of the ingredients, so here you go - the old family recipe!

3/4 lb Self Raising Flour
3/4 lb Dark Brown Sugar
3/4 lb Butter
7 Large Eggs
2 lb Fruit (Sultanas, Raisins, Currants, Mixed Peel)
Tub of Glace Cherries
4 oz Ground Almonds
Teaspoon Mixed Spice
Quart Brandy (or Rum, according to taste)

Step One: Soak fruit in about half of the brandy overnight (room temperature), drain off any which hasn't been soaked up back in to the bottle the next morning

Step Two: Pre-heat the oven. I used a fan oven at 140 degrees - adjust accordingly for electric or gas. Measure all of the ingredients out. Chop each cherry in to four, take a few tablespoons of the flour and roll the cherries in to it and set them aside. This will stop them sinking in to the bottom of the cake when baking.

Step Three (apologies for the blurry pictures, my hands were slightly greasy!!!!): Cream butter and sugar together. You must do this by hand using the back of a wooden spoon. To combine the eggs to the mixture, break one egg in to a jug (you cannot afford to get any shell in the mix!), and add to the creamed butter and sugar and add one tablespoon of flour. Mix. The flour prevents the egg and creamed butter and sugar from separating or 'curdling'.

Step Four: Combine remaining dry ingredients (flour, almonds, spice) and add to the sugar, butter and eggs. When done, beat until it's dropping consistency (drops off the spoon before the count of three). Next, you're ready to add the fruit and finally add the cherries.

Step Five: Line a large square cake tin with margarine and greaseproof paper. Then grease with more margarine. Because of the lengthy cooking time, you do not want the outside of the cake to burn and stick and the inside to be raw.

Step Six: Pour mixture in to the tin. Push it in to the corners and create a 'well' in the middle. You are hoping to acheive the most level cake and usually when you cook a cake the middle rises, right? Well creating this well prevents it from peaking.

Step Seven: Using sturdy brown paper, double the height of the tin, create a 'wall' around the tin and a base underneath. Secure with an old shoe lace or string. This is another measure to prevent the cake from burning.

Step Eight: Cook in the pre-heated oven for an hour. Do not slam doors, talk loudly or stamp your feet. These actions will all make the centre of the cake drop. Carefully open the oven and place a square, foil covered piece of cardboard over the top of the brown paper 'wall' and then close the oven for a further 1.5 hours.

Step Nine, Ten, Eleven and weekly thereafter!: Remove the cake from the oven and lift out of the tin using the greaseproof paper, then leave to cool for a minimum of eight hours. Feed weekly with a sprinkling of the remaining brandy. The longer you have to feed and 'mature' your cake, the better!

When Christmas comes (apparently in the old days, the Christmas Cake was 'cut' on New Years Day?! I can't wait that long!!), serve plain with a slice of cranberry laden Wensleydale and a glass of wine or ice with apricot jam, marzipan and thick crunchy royal icing.

Nanna Kate X

Monday, 24 October 2011

An Organised Christmas

I wrote about the fact I am trying to get organised for Winter a few posts ago and so far, I've done ok. I still have some things to do which can be done over the next few weeks but the bare essentials are currently living in my car boot.

As well as preparing for Winter I am also preparing for Christmas, so when my friend from Home Matters Most told me all about Organized Home, a website which provides checklists and schedules for organising your home, having a very special set of plans to help organise the festive season I was so excited I couldn't wait to create my 'holiday' planner.

Though I had every intention of creating a handmade, decorated binder I needed to organise myself more than I needed to create something beautiful - this was a seriously practical project and so I just bit the bullet and stuck my planner pages, which are FREE to download from Organized Home's site, in to a normal 12 ring soft cover binder.

There are various plans you can choose from, depending on how much you 'do' at Christmas, how much of a party planner you are, how festive you feel... I chose the Christmas Countdown plan (the least effort, the least festive option) and I added a couple of the printables from the other plans to really tailor the planner to my requirements.

My Christmas planner is taking shape now; though the Christmas Countdown plan doesn't officially begin until 6 weeks before Christmas, I have started to list my current gift wrap inventory (I bought mine for about 7p a roll in Asda's January Sale). I've also written a list of just some of the Christmas movies I love and that I want to purchase prior to Christmas. And most important of all, I bought my Christmas Cake ingredients and made it, allowing plenty of time for 'feeding' it with Brandy (my Christmas Cake post will follow soon!).

Whilst this may all seem a bit much in October; Christmas, Snow and Winter will soon be upon us. I just feel that it's cheaper, less stressful and allows more time for fun later to be organised now, rather than to be stressed out last minute shopping, missing out on festive fun because you have to wrap at midnight on Christmas Eve or paying over the odds for gift wrap because you couldn't be bothered to get organised sooner!

Nanna Kate X

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Black Pudding and Egg Salad

I've been trying to watch my weight lately (read: dieting permanently my whole life). Recently I've suffered anaemia and have been trying to sneak in some high iron content grub. Trouble is, it's all so high in fat! And of course veggie iron from broccoli and spinach can only be digested if the cellulose structure is broken down *cue* intensive chewing or blending!

I love Black Pudding it's absolutely delicious, however it's very high in fats and calories so no good for a diet...right? No! Wrong!

The Bury Black Pudding Company make the most loveliest of black pud and it's actually only 127 calories per 100g (about 2 slices) instead of the 400 calories you'd usually find in supermarket own brand / butchers black pudding.

I love mine in a special black pudding and poached egg salad. My girlfriend made me this one and added a tomato, balsamic vinegar and chilli dressing. Bliss!

Nanna Kate X

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Sleek Haul!

This is kind of an out of date haul post. I got this make up about 6 months ago when I subscribed to Glamour magazine from their 10th Anniversary edition. Not only did I get 6 months of Glamour for £3 but I got some lovely spoils from Sleek.

I never really used them until recently and I am so impressed by the quality I just wanted to share my newly acquired love for Sleek!

Sleek Haul
How cheap? The eyeshadows and blusher are so highly pigmented and velvety textured and I am whipped! I highly recommend buying at least a nail polish at only £3.89 they dry quickly, don't chip and the colours are gorgeous - I want one in every colour...

Nanna Kate X

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

An alternative approach...

Sometimes you end up with free junk which you just will probably never use and wonder why you bought a different brand / a product you never wanted / something more expensive just to get the free gift. That's kind of what happened with the Bodyform Tins for me a couple of years ago. I got the tin, never used it and it just sat on a shelf, or maybe in a drawer all this time gathering dust. Trouble is, I can't bear to throw things out, so I try to think up some type of thrifty solution to my junk problems!

Then I saw how my little sister used hers and I was quite impressed - so of course I did what all big sisters do - I copied! And when I saw that the tins are back in lots of cute patterns and styles I decided to share what I use my tin for. I have the pixelated purple poodle. I'm sure there are far cooler designs out now, but I've had this one a few years now.

Are you just dying to know? Well I (we!) use it for a handbag tidy... I put all my tablets, hair grips, bobbles, tweezers, a plaster, etc just so that they don't get ruined in my bag and clutter the bag up and(!) so that the stuff isn't really hard to find and dig through my bag for. 

Oh and if you would like to know what Bodyform are planning to give away next - it's a Jemma Kidd Lipgloss from 12th October onwards - though I suspect you will need to use that for it's original purpose!!!

Nanna Kate X

Monday, 10 October 2011

Handcrafted Teabags

I've been following Elsie Larson over on A Beautiful Mess for a while now and the gorgeous-ness of her blog never ceases to amaze me. As well as being simply lovely, she and the other contributors to her blog; Emma Chapman, Rachel Denbow, Katie Shelton, Kinsey Mhire and Amanda Keith have some absolutely amazing ideas - they are just such a talented bunch of girls! I am forever 'starring' their blogposts in Reader, planning to replicate or interpret their ideas. I never get round to it though, until I saw this - Handcrafted Teabags - written by Amanda, and it made me need / want / have to finally set aside some time and make my own!

I used coffee filter papers and cut out two small rectangles approximately 2 inches x 3.5 inches from the paper and then stitched the two long sides and the bottom up, leaving the top edge open to pour in a teaspoon and a half of my favourite Yumchaa loose leaf blends.

Next, I carefully folded over the top two corners and then the top edge and stapled it with a mini stapler. I left some thread loose to create the teabag string. I used orange thread to capture the essence of the tea inside.

This Monday, I am Loving Heart-shaped teabags filled with Chelsea Chai!

Then, using card, I cut out some cute butterfly and heart shaped tags and attached them using a couple of small stitches. I used the yellow colours for the Lemon Sherbert flavour tea.

I made the teabags as I hate using a tea strainer or a tea egg at work - it's messy and I can't clean up my strainer or tea egg properly - but I absolutely love loose leaf tea as it tastes so much better than usual bagged tea... when I took them in to work everyone admired them, but wondered if they really 'worked'. I was so excited to use them (excuse the ugly plastic cup!) and show that they not only worked but were also a perfect solution to the loose tea dilemma...

They worked alright and the taste was fab! I plan to make some more in different colours, green for peppermint tea and grey for Earl Grey. They only take a couple of seconds to make and are so cute they could be added to a Christmas Hamper with some homemade biscuits, lemon butters and jams.

Thanks to the girls (especially Amanda!) over at A Beautiful Mess for giving me my endless inspiration!

Nanna Kate X

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Tea and cake... one thing which will always make me happy. Particularly when the tea is Earl Grey (my current favourite) and the mug is a chintzy, tacky souvenir mug I got off an old friend and the cake is a Toy Story, glace icing one, with a Jessie rice paper decoration, handmade by my beautiful nephew (with a little help from his Mam!).

Treat yourself today to some tea and cake it's guaranteed to put a smile on your face. It's always the little things that do!

Nanna Katy X

Monday, 3 October 2011

September 2011: My Month In Numbers

My September month in numbers is a little late this month! I haven’t been blogging much lately because I’ve been a bit poorly after an operation then getting back in to the swing of things at work and catching up with workload from my time off recovering. I initially thought being off for a week or two for my operation would mean me getting lots done, lots of Uni work and blogging, reviewing and product testing; but in reality, I just wanted to sleep off the pain killers and rest.

Anyway, I hope you’re all still with me, here’s my September month in numbers…

1 = operation! I wont go in to detail but I limped my way through September (not-so-gracefully!)

1 = also the number of weddings attended in September. Crutches an’ all. But my gorgeous jade pleated Dorothy Perkins dress rocked with my blue sticks!

2 = years old my gorgeous Nephew, Aiden, was on his September birthday. He is the most precious little boy ever, even if his birthday cake made me put 1lb on at Fat B’s (our weight loss club at work!)

7 = lbs lost this month, well I lost 8lb but, if I didn’t mention already birthday tea parties are just not diet friendly…

51 = days of being a non-smoker. According to my Quit Now App, my respiratory function is back to normal and my physical condition has improved by 60% since I quit. Pretty good going huh?

£161.16 = money saved from not smoking. That’s almost enough to pay for Christmas! I wish I had physically saved that money – but now I find myself wondering how I ever found the money in the first place. I’m just happy I don’t have to anymore – and I feel great!

86% = grade in my Financial Regulation and Supervision exam. Woop, I will be a Master of Science before we all know it!

A Bazillion = trips to the seaside resorts close to where I live (Redcar, Whitby, Saltburn, Marske) using my amazing Diana Mini and Diana F Plus Cameras which are now complete with colour flash!

£51 = spent on developing 6 films from our Lomo adventures – thank goodness I no longer smoke!

3 = hours spent watching Dolly Parton! The woman is amazing, I was blown away I love her so much more than I did before I saw her live. If anyone has a remote fondness of Islands in the Stream or Jolene or boogies away to 9 ‘til 5 unabashedly on a Saturday night out or family ‘do’ then you MUST go see her live at least once.

4th = position in our team away day ‘Quantum Challenge’ at Heart Park in Coventry. It was a pretty nice day, with a barbeque on the fake beach in the centre of the grounds, mini games including building a tent blind folded (I’m restricted when I have my sight!) and even though this type of thing is my worst nightmare, it was such a good day; the sun was shining and I got bonus fun money for my play-doh elephant!

8 = out of 10 of our reading group read their first book! Well, two read to page 100 which is a 1/3 of the way through so I see this as an absolute victory. We spent 2 = hours discussing the book which was Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult. I seriously enjoyed the night and was just so happy that there was (almost) full participation! Can’t wait for the next meeting in November…

30 = days I have a privilege parking spot following my operation! Which means all in all, despite the very poor weather we endured and the weird change in season from Summer (so to speak) to Autumn with leaves on the ground in such gorgeous colours, and then back to blazing hot Summer at the end of the month - I had a pretty cool September <3.

Nanna Kate X