Wednesday, 29 February 2012

People Pictures?


Since starting this blog, I've struggled with whether or not to include pictures of myself or friends on it. The friends part was the easier decision because I didn't want to annoy anyone by putting pictures of them on the web without them knowing. But deciding whether to link my own face with my blog was quite difficult. I'm not ashamed of my blog. It's not that at all. But it was never about showing myself off, it was more about sharing my baking experiences with people (and my future forgetful self).The only place you'll find me featured is in the Cupcake Bouquet post, but I'm not looking at the camera. 

Until recently, it's wasn't a hard thing to do. I took pictures of food, and I posted them. But as I've started to blog more, I've more varied things I want to post about, and some of these topics come with photos that I'm in. I've also realised that I've got an online presence and if you click through to my flickr account, you will find pictures of me anyway. You know my name so you could even google me if you wanted. So, is there any need to be hidden? Would it be nicer to know who you were talking to?

Bit of a rhetorical question really because I've already decided to come out and play a bit more often. Ian's even said he doesn't mind popping up in a post either. I've not checked with my friends yet, so they wont feature anytime soon (and that's not because I don't have any, honest!).

So here I am, coming out from hiding! Hope to see you again soon! (Also, just to point out in case you couldn't tell from the pictures - I'm a little crazy!).

Monday, 27 February 2012

Week 8 Photo Challenge

We start week 8 with a romantic gesture by Ian on valentines day. We don't really celebrate valentines, but he surprised me by turning up at breakfast at work with a hash brown and ketchup on his plate. He likes neither of these and so I was a bit confused why he'd bought them, and then he said that it was a valentines hash brown for me! I was so excited and it was the tastiest hash brown ever!

Day 45

I subscribe to several food magazines, and as part of reading them, I add post-its for recipes that I'd like to try and then photocopy them ready to add them to the favoured recipes folder if they cut it on the first trial. This months copy seemed to have lots of recipes I wanted to try, it makes the magazine look a bit funny afterwards!

Day 46
Day 47 saw me and my friend baking cheesecake in an attempt to use up some marscapone leftover from Christmas pizza back in december that she'd frozen. Unfortunately the cheese didn't make it, but she rushed out to get replacement cheese while I tried not to be too nosey in her house. The cheesecake was very yummy and is a recipe I've made before.

Day 47
Do you remember the picture of my tidy sofa a few weeks ago? Well, it didn't last - check out the mess! One day I'll master keeping things tidy - it only got messy because I was trying to sort through some boxes I found in the study and I got bored halfway through! (if you look carefully you'll see the undeveloped films on the left - we got those back, and they were all from Ian's first cruise back in 2002. We discovered that he didn't go to Dubrovnik for the first time on our honeymoon, he just forgot that he'd been before!)

Day 48
My aunt came down to visit on day 49 for another games evening and we broke out a game we got as a wedding gift, our first ever cooperative board game, Pandemic. It's a different experience because you all have to work together or noone wins, and there's no ganging up on one person.

Day 49
We finished off week 8's weekend by finally sorting out the curtain situation and we now have matching curtains, which I'm really in love with. We also moved the television and the bay looks nice and large and I can't resist dancing about in all the new space we've got. 

Day 50
Day 51 was online shopping day and the arrival of pancake day ingredients. You'll know how much I love pancakes from my previous posts about them here, here and here.

Day 51
I'm running about a week behind in my photo challenge posts as last week when I tried to post, flickr was broken so I couldn't add pictures and everyone knows posts without pictures are just pants. I'll catch up after the end of February because I only have two days left to read my book for this month and I'm only half way through it - oops!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Real China, Eastleigh

This is the most recent addition to the Eastleigh cinema complex, and we were going to wait until a friend from work had tried it first to minimise risk if it turned out to be rubbish. Tonights dinner was mean to be massaman lamb, but unfortunately the curry paste we'd bought was different to the normal one and it was very oniony so Ian refused to use it (that's the danger of shopping online, you can't always see what you're getting). As I'm currently trying to complete the no takeaway challenge, we decided to use the opportunity to try this restaurant. 

The decor is pretty, although I've subsequently read on trip advisor that people have noticed the floor is lifting away already but I didn't personally spot that. They have a nice little pond type thing in the entry way with fish in, although I don't really see the point, it's quite a waste of space and the fish didn't look overly happy.

The restaurant is purely a buffet place so we ordered some drinks and then made our way up for starters. Not everything is labelled, but there was a decent amount of choice, although there were some normal chinese starters that weren't present (sesame prawn toast, wontons, seaweed). Everything seemed lukewarm which was disappointing. When we went back up for the duck course, there was no duck available so we moved on to the mains. There was the usual chinese selection but also some szechuan mains and a few thai ones also, although these were off to one side and could easily be missed. Again, everything was cold, and so by this point I was a bit fed up. 

I spotted they'd replenished the duck so was hopeful of a decent plateful of food finally, and stocked up on duck and pancakes. Despite only just being brought out, the duck was also cold, and didn't really taste like crispy duck should (it was not crispy and it was pretty bland) so again I was disappointed. 

Ian and I failed to find anything more than lukewarm, and so we thought we'd see what the dessert was like and then give up. There was one dessert that looked like a combination of rocky road and trifle. I asked the waiter what it was and he didn't even seem to know.  The other desserts included Mr Kipling cakes sliced in half with some extra icing on top, or jelly babies!

There was meant to be a teppanyaki station where you could choose your own food to be cooked in front of you, which I think is likely to be the only chance for a hot meal here, but unfortunately noone was around to cook anything.

I never expect great things from buffets, but I do expect the food to be hot, and for £12 it really wasn't worth it. I will not be visiting again!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Pancake Day!

My annual pancake party was hosted yesterday and it was good. I get very excited about pancake day, possibly too excited, which is why it's probably best it only happens once a year. At least 30 pancakes were consumed (there were 6 of us) with several different toppings. I went for one savoury with cheese and ham, a couple with sugar and lime juice (lemon is so last year), one with nutella and banana, and one with toffee sauce, ice cream and banana. Did you all have pancakes? What's your favourite topping?

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Valentines Breakfast

Last week was valentines day. Ian and I don't really buy into it, we believe it's too commercial and we don't need a special day to prove we love each other. We did celebrate our six month-iversary the day before valentines though, and I made Ian a steak dinner at the weekend, followed by a full english the day after.  I did happen to see a nice breakfast idea which was very valentines appropriate but too late for our special breakfast, so I extended the celebrations to this weekend also.

It was fun to make the sausage hearts, and I only had two casualties that split whilst trying to shape them.

I think I should have cooked the scrambled egg a bit more before transferring to the sausage hearts as it leaked out of the hearts and took longer to cook than the recipe suggests.

Ian appreciated the effort though, and it all disappeared from his plate so couldn't have been too bad.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Week 7 Photo Challenge

In blog news, all blog posts from my other blog are now integrated here. Hopefully the transition was seamless. I'm very excited about being able to share everything in one place now - although I'm not sure what to do about the name, should I come up with a new one for the new combined blog, or stick with the one I have?

Anyway, back to the photo challenge! On day 38, I noticed on the drive home that the moon was particularly large and bright. It's something that happens more often these days, me noticing things that I normally wouldn't because I'm looking for things to photograph for the day. There's a particularly nice tree on the way to work that I'd like to share with you, but it's halfway down a 60mph road and I'm yet to master driving that fast whilst taking a photo! Back to the moon. I tried to photograph it, but I'm still not clued up on my camera, and the only way I could see it was by hanging out of my bedroom window and it was cold! But, check out my photo - I managed to capture not one, not two, but three moons! Which ones the real one?

Day 38
Day 39 shows me attempting to reduce the washing mountain that has built up in our house. This was load 3 and I've done 3 more since, and I'm still not happy to photograph the washing mountain to show you - which doesn't make it sound great but progress is progress!

Day 39
Day 40 and we finally got some snow. Not enough to make a snowman, but enough for me to get excited when it started. There was more at work so I got to play in the car park on the way back from the pub which was probably enough for me (especially as I forgot my gloves!).

Day 40
Day 41 is what happens when you forget to get meat out of the freezer, and you don't believe in using the microwave to defrost meat - you throw together whatever is in your freezer that you can cook from frozen. Leads to a bit of a bizarre dinner but it saved us from takeaway.

Day 41
Day 42, Ian arrived home with flowers for me, to celebrate six months of marriage. There were quite a lot of flowers (all purple because he knows me well), and the majority are in a large vase, but this vase that we got as a wedding gift is much smaller so only has 3 sprigs in it, but I think it's extra pretty because the blue contrasts nicely with the flowers. 

Day 42
In order to get the cash for the flowers, Ian popped into Sainsburys and picked up some baked goodies and got cashback. He chose these ones because he thought they looked amusing. What do you think?

Day 43
Yesterday I was sorting through one of my many 'things to sort' boxes and found some interesting goodies. An odd sock, some top trumps, Ian's old passport, and lots of rolls of film that appear to be used but Ian has no recollection of what's on them. So, this weekend I get to take them to be developed and hope there is nothing shady on there from his past!

Day 44
Hope everyone else is having a good week! And Happy Valentines Day!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Week 6 Photo Challenge

When we were eating all the takeaway, I was craving home cooked food. I found myself looking back at the meals I've blogged about and suddenly I was inspired by a particular entry. I find plenty of inspiration on the internet but it really pleased me to find inspiration in my own stuff. It totally reminded me why I've been blogging about it all! The entry that did it was here, and day 31's photo shows it, a year and a half on. It was still delicious.

Day 31

I've just searched back through the entries, and I can't find one about day 32's dinner, so I think I may have to feature a post on this later in the week as it's one of our favourite dinners. The only downside of it is the fact Ian can't eat it without making a terrible mess!

Day 32

Day 33 was one of the days where I found myself in bed having forgotten to take the photo for the day. I figured it was a good opportunity to tell you about my inability to draw the bedroom curtains. I don't know how it happens, but every single time I do it, I find myself lying in bed realising there's a gap that is going to let irritating light in that will wake me. Ian never has this problem, I don't know why, so maybe I need to get him to draw the curtains every night, even when he's not going to bed yet. Maybe I can get him to tuck me in too...

Day 33

We may not have had any snow here in Eastleigh, but it has been pretty cold out, and on day 34 I wasted time before work as I didn't want to scrape the ice of the car until I'd gotten a picture of it! I like how you can see the scraper ready to attack in the reflection.

Day 34

Similarly to the wedding book clearout last week, this week I decided to throw away some of the many boxes of receipts I have sitting around in the study. This says 2007 on it, but I had boxes going back to 2002. It was liberating getting rid of them all, and I do wonder why I hung onto them for so long!

Day 35

The receipt cull took more than one day as I was concerned I might throw out an important receipt. I didn't find any in amongst the boxes so the effort might have been wasted, except I found the following receipt that had Ian and I giggling. I apologise for the childish turn to the post, but seriously, what is that first item?!

Day 36

After all that receipt clearing, I needed a nice snack on day 37 so Ian and I finally tried the Mr Kipling pineapple slices my mum was raving about last week. She was particularly pleased with them because the candied pineapple within the sponge means you have to chew more so they last slightly longer than other Mr Kipling slices. I think I still prefer the angel slices as the pineapple slices are a little on the dry side. 

Day 37

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Blog Amalgamation

Did you know I have another blog? It says I do over in the side bar there! But... my other blog hasn't been updated since.... wait for it.... November 2010! Oops!

I first decided to have two blogs to keep my crafting and my baking separate, but now I think I want to track everything in one place as I have quite a few crafty things I'd like to blog, but am too scared to go back over there because I've been away so long.

So next week, I'm going to close down the other blog, and import all the content in over here. And then you'll all get to hear about the crafty things we got up to during the wedding planning. Lucky you!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Week 5 Photo Challenge

This week was full of takeaway, as eluded to in the last post. We had takeaway 5 nights in a row! Thankfully, I took photos of more interesting stuff than takeaway! 

My first picture from day 24 is of one of my souveneirs that I picked up on my honeymoon. It's the cutest thing ever - I'm not normally a fish ornament person (I favour owls, penguins and snails) but I can't help but look at these and immediately attempt to create the same face. It's caused amusement to most of my friends and I'm sure the face I pull it pretty unattractive, but I just can't not do it! I'm considering another trip back to Croatia just to buy a whole load more! 

Day 24

Day 25's picture is to show that I'm managing to keep my sofa tidy. I have a habit of collecting things around me on the sofa making it nearly impossible for people to sit on the sofa. It also shows my cool new owl cushion hiding in amongst the other cushions! 

Day 25

Seems I'm hitting on an ornament theme for this week, as day 26's picture is of the new owl ornament I got for my birthday. I found another one on eBay so now I have them either side of my mantelpiece where they sit and watch over us. 

Day 26

Day 27, spurred on by the tidy sofa, I attempted to tidy another corner of my house and found a pile of wedding related books that I no longer require (not planning on doing it again!) so these got donated to the charity shop or binned. 

Day 27

On day 28 we had a games evening where we introduced my aunt to Carcassonne. We've not played in a while and I finally got to use my new purple meeples (the little people characters) that Ian bought me as a wedding gift. I even managed to win the first game (and my mum managed to beat Ian in one game and my aunt in the other so she was very pleased).

Day 28

Day 29 I finally got around to buying the sewing machine I've been wanting for years. I've started simple and inexpensive so that if it doesn't work out, it's no big deal - but I've also started with a purple machine, so for me, it's perfect! 

Day 29

Day 30 shows how we solved the takeaway problem. The reason we've had so much takeaway is that there is no food in the house, and no enthusiasm to go shopping. So, we've finally decided to go with online shopping. I'll miss being able to select my own meat and bread and although I enjoy looking for bargains meat and fish counters, if it means we actually cook and don't go crazy on takeaway, it's not a bad thing.
Day 30

Monday, 6 February 2012

Week 4 Photo Challenge

Apologies for being a bit behind posting these, but at least I've actually remembered to take the photos! Plus, I took another look at my day zero list and I actually put that I need to blog once a month, not once a week, so I'm doing better than I planned already! 

Day 17's photo shows the preparation needed to pull of such an amazing rainbow party with our shopping list - if you look carefully you'll see just how many eggs the rainbow cake called for! 

Day 17

Day 18 would have been a sneak preview into the rainbow jelly if I'd posted this earlier! 

Day 18

Day 19 shows the amazing carpet at my friends house. It's so thick and fluffy, and you can lose things in it! I think it'd make an interesting desktop wallpaper. 

Day 19

Day 20 was the last day of preparation before the rainbow party and everything went without hiccup except for the orange layer of the rainbow cake which decided to disintegrate. The layers of the cake were intentionally thin so that the rainbow cake wouldn't be gigantic but it did make it a slightly more delicate process when moving and assembling the cakes. Thankfully the damage wasn't too bad and I could stick it back together with the icing. 

Day 20

Day 21 was a day of many photos but I decided to feature one from after the party for the challenge. My friend brought along some rainbow glow sticks that attached together to make a circle so after everyone had left we had fun spinning it round in the dark and trying to capture it on the camera. I'm not quite there yet with my camera, it may be purple but it is also quite complicated if trying to do something unusual instead of just using auto. This is another thing on my to do list so hopefully I'll get better at the photo taking. Hopefully Ian will get better at spinning stuff without letting go and nearly taking out the cake too! 

Day 21

Day 22 sees us ignoring the clear instructions on our new lego set and assembling it on the carpet! We're such rebels. This was a much simpler set to the ones we do at new years so it didn't take long to put together but it was good fun and now we have lego pigs! 

Day 22

Day 23's picture wouldn't have had such a terrible description if I'd written about it on the day I took the photo. This is because on the 23rd, I didn't know that the pizza we had would be the first takeaway in a run of five nights of takeaway! I'm so ashamed! (Week 5 will bring good news on this front though so don't worry, I'm doing better now).

Day 23

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Blog Beautification

Ian was busy working this Sunday (much to my disapproval) so I figured I'd have a go at looking my blog look less like a generic blogger template with a nice photo of my speciality, lemon drizzle cake. I'm not 100% happy yet as the photo isn't the right size to avoid having to tile the image but it's good enough for now! Let me know what you think.