Saturday, 8 November 2008

Toasty warm

These images from Toast really encompass how much I'm looking forward to the coming season. (Isn't purple omnipresent at the moment - and it's just not getting boring!)

Friday, 7 November 2008

Lamp Before

A while ago we bought this floor lamp at Gloucester Antiques Centre, for the rather fantastic price of £1.50 (just over $3). I've started revamping it this week, and have decided to go for a slightly more daring make-over. I'll be posting a full step-by-step account of the make-over once it's done next week.

Midwinter Pottery

I started collecting ceramics when I was at University, and mostly focused on 1950's and 1960's pieces. I've got my inner hoarder under control these days, and haven't bought any ceramics recently. However, my love of vintage ceramics cannot be quelled, and if I had endless cash and endless display space, I would be collecting this pattern right now!

This is the Roselle pattern by Midwinter pottery. Midwinter was established in 1910, and became extremely successfully in the 1950's. They put out many contemporary patterns, designed by the likes of Jessie Tate and Terence Conran. I've put a few of my favourite together for your perusal. These are all available at very reasonable prices on ebay.

Sienna Pattern

Festival Pattern

Design by Jessie Tate - this style of vases are a more rare, and hence more expensive.

Quite contrary pattern (A whole set!)

All above available at the moment on ebay. Click photos to for more info. Images via respective listings.

'behemoth' (Word of the Day)

  1. A great and mighty monster.
  2. Something which has the qualities of great power and might, and monstrous proportions. (Defnition by

Thursday, 6 November 2008

1240 Cupcakes

Zilly Rosen of ZILLYCAKES in Buffalo, NY created a likeness of President-Elect Barack Obama, using cupcakes. 1240 of them! Happy days!

Images by shastio

Did anyone hear the Barack Obama song on the Chris Moyles show this morning? It's a bit silly, but if you care you can listen to the whole show here, (the Barack Obama song is at 2hours, 7 mins and 30s).

'convolute' (word of the Day)

Photo by emsef
convolute verb
  1. To make something unnecessarily complex.
  2. To fold or coil into numerous overlapping layers.
  3. To twist someone's words to fit a desired meaning that was not intended by the speaker. (definition by

Duck Feet Lamp

I covet thee, oh Duck Feet Lamp. I stumbled upon this lamp about six months ago in a magazine, have been to see it at Chelsea Harbor, and still want it! Usually fixations with specific items pass after a while. This lamp is produced by Porta Romana, and cost somewhere around the £400 mark. (not including the shade...). For stockists check their website here.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Bags from Belgium

My mother and step-father just returned from a short holiday in Bruges. They brought us some lovely gifts back, including some special chocolate which you dissolve in hot milk to make a delicious hot chocolate, and best of all, the cutest Cupcake Christmas Tree decoration!

The gifts came in these adorable bags. The black one has red handles. Both are approximately A4 size, with a gusset bottom, and are made of recycled paper. It's all in the details! I am completely in love with the bow design above .

Pralinette (the chocolate shop - red bag above) Have a cute website that uses the bow design on the bag. They have some chocolate themed downloadable wallpaper for your pc. (yum!)

Sadly, 'De Witte Pelikaan' (bag above) doesn't seem to have a website, but I can tell you that it's an all year round Christmas Shop.

'iterative' (Word of the Day)

Photo by chrishemmerly
iterative adjective
  1. Of a procedure that involves repetition of steps to achieve the desired outcome.
  2. (grammar): Expressive of an action that is repeated with frequency. (Definition by

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Mocha Chip Election Night Muffins

Election coverage on TV doesn't start until 23.30 tonight, so I am passing the time by baking and photographing muffins. I came across this recipe whilst searching for light & healthy muffins. Half way through baking them it occurred to me that there is categorically nothing healthy about them. They do taste absolutely delicious though (The glaze is pretty sugar-tastic on mine, I'm sure they would be just as scrumptious minus the topping).

The recipe is available here, I substituted the buttermilk with a mix of skimmed milk and lemon juice (I'm a firm believer in using up what is in your fridge or cupboards). If you click the link for the recipe you'll see that it is indeed categorized under healthy muffins - not just me going mad.

I've been brushing up on my photography a little recently, and really enjoying the process (basically this consists of me carting various floor and table lamps around the house, and building impromptu tripods out of occasional furniture). I'm hoping the results are improving as I go along.

Dixville Notch & Hart's Location

I'm planning to watch all of the election coverage tonight, and have some special election night muffins planned (more on that later).

Traditionally two small villages in New Hampshire are the first to cast their votes. These villages are Dixville Notch and Hart's Location with a total population of 115 between them. In Dixville Notch voters assembled at midnight, and simultaneously cast their votes. The result there was 15-6 in favour of Obama. In Hart's Location the result was 17-10 in favour of Obama.

Apparently this tradition of voting first originated when railway workers were given the opportunity to vote before their shift.

Read the full story here. (image & info via

Seventies Bungalow

Like most design conscious girls, I love nothing more than relaxing with a new magazine - and no magazine more so than Living Etc. Whilst I adore this magazine, I don't usually enjoy the house tours that much. Whilst the photography and the homes are beautiful, it just doesn't seem attainable to me, which is slightly off putting. But! Everything changed this month. In the December edition of Living Etc they highlight a modernized 70's bungalow in Nottingham. Owned and decorated by 'self confessed Christmas addict' Tim Rundle, this home is an absolute delight. It's a subtle but quirky mix - the styling is overtly Christmassy, but that just seems to add to the charm. The best part is that the most pieces are affordable - many sourced from TK Maxx.

You can see lots more images online here. I would however recommend having a look at the magazine, Page 34. (You can't beat the impact of a glossy magazine).

(Images via

'ululate' (Word of the Day)

Photo by CaptPiper
ululate verb
  1. To howl loudly or prolongedly in lamentation or joy. (Definition by

Monday, 3 November 2008

Autumnal Dunster Castle

Last week we visited Dunster Castle in Somerset. We had spent a really fun weekend with friends, and stopped by the castle on our way home. The castle and the views were really beautiful, and it was a lovely autumnal day. Here are a few pictures. Some information about Dunster castle: It's set in the medieval Exmoor village Dunster, near Minehead. The village and the castle originated from the Bronze and Iron Age, all though it is unclear exactly when it was created. It is first recorded in the Domesday book.

Over the years the castle underwent many modifications and rebuilds, and today is a mix and match of the various parts. There is lots of beautiful furniture to admire, and some very ornate plasterwork ceilings. The true gem is the outside. The castle is set on a hill above the village, meaning there are stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the beach. Click below to view a slideshow of the images above.
View slideshow

'disparate' ( Word of the Day)

Photo by LinksmanJD
disparate adjective
  1. Composed of inherently different or distinct elements; incongruous.
  2. Markedly different. (Definition by

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Smoked Haddock & Sweet Potato Risotto

We recently tried to cook a Risotto for the first time. It was a run-away success, and we've been trying various different combinations since. On Friday evening we tried a creation of our own, a Smoked Haddock and Sweet Potato Risotto and I thought I'd share the recipe with you. The ingredients are seasonal, and very inexpensive. The haddock's smoky salty flavour contrasts the creamy rice and potatos, and the poached egg is a delicous juxtaposition to the texture of the rice.
This recipe is easy to stretch by slightly increasing the various ingredients. (The amounts below will feed 3 hungry people - it's very filling).

Smoked Haddock & Sweet Potato Risotto

300g Smoked Haddock (dyed or un-dyed)

250g Arborio Risotto Rice

Punnet of Cherry tomatoes

1 Large sweet potato

1 Large onion
Dash of white wine
600ml Hot vegetable stock
3 eggs
1 Lemon

Preheat the oven to 175 Degrees. Peel and cube the sweet potato into 1" square cubs approx. Quarter the cherry tomatoes. Place sweet potato onto lightly oiled baking tray and roast in the middle of the oven for 40 min. Add the cherry tomatoes to oven after 30 mins, so they roast for 10mins.

Prepare the vegetable stock (you can use home made stock, you can buy it ready made, or you can simply crumble 2 vegetable Oxo cubes into 600ml of hot water). Keep the stock warm.

Finely dice the onion. Heat small amount of oil in a large frying pan, add the onions.
Fry onions until they become glazed looking, then add the Rice to the pan and stir it in thoroughly. Add a generous splash of white wine.

Turn the heat down to a medium setting. Start adding the stock to the pan. This is best done with a large ladle - add one ladle at a time, and stir thoroughly. Ensure all moisture has been absorbed by the rice before you add the next ladle. Continue doing this until the rice becomes creamy and soft, but still firm to the bite (al dente!. This will take approximately 18 mins.

Prepare the Haddock - Microwaving it is the simplest option (5 mins on highest heat). Alternatively you could grill it, or bake it in foil. Once it is fully cooked - break it into flakes using a fork or your fingers. If the skin is still attached, remove it.

6) Towards the end of your 'ladling vegetable stock' process add the roast tomatoes and potato cubes to the rice. Also add the flaked Haddock. Stir carefully and throroughly.

Poach an egg for each portion and place on top of the Risotto.

(To poach an egg: Add some vinegar and pepper to a large shallow saucepan. Bring the water to the boil, return it to simmer. Gently break an egg into a ladle. Carefully swirl the simmering water around so it rises at the edges, creating a swirling vortex in the centre. Gently drop the egg into that vortex. Cook for three minutes.)

8) Squeeze a large slice of lemon over each portion, and place the poached egg on top.
Guten Appetit!