Wednesday, 23 December 2009

snow in the uk

At the weekend, it snowed.

It's not unusual for us to get snow in the UK. It has been a while since we had it at the 'right' time (winter) and even more time since we had this much though.

All of the roofs looked like iced cakes.

I am not feeling particularly festive or jolly today. I am sure this is just a typical slump from all the stress and excitement. Christmas day will be happy. Or so I hope!

Merry Christmas/happy holidays everyone!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

diy christmas

Another quick post. With a bit more substance. This evening I've been making a few decorations:

+ Paper chains
+ Snowflake garlands (mine are nowhere near as detailed and pretty as theirs!)
+ Dried orange and bay leaf ornaments
+ Popcorn garlands

To oven-dry oranges, carefully slice them thinly (around 1/4" thick) and then place on an old tea cloth and gently press the moisture out, being careful not too squash them too much. Place on a baking tray and place in a warm oven (I did mine somewhere between 50 and 100 degrees) for a couple of hours or so - checking often to make sure they don't burn and to allow ventilation in the oven.

When the slices no longer feel moist, remove from the oven and allow to cool before stringing with bay leaves and sequins. The drying process makes the house smell incredible and very christmassy, as well as making you happier due to the mood-boosting power of oranges.

To make the popcorn garlands, place popping corn in a microwavable dish with a lid. Place in microwave for around 2 minutes on full, or until popping slows. Empty into a bowl and allow to stand in the air for a couple of hours/overnight to soften slightly (this makes threading easier). Use a strong thread (I used linen which I was going to wax but found I didn't need to in the end - though it probably would've made the process easier). Thread a medium-fine needle, find something good on tv and start stringing the popcorn on, being careful not to get too tempted by the smell and start eating them instead of stringing. I recommend use of a thimble, since I stabbed myself several times and it only got worse as time went on.
Popcorn garlands are not recommended for dog/cat/other-loose-pet owners.

and here is a Spotify playlist of some of the Christmas songs I've been listening to to get you in the mood :)

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

o holy night

I've been incredibly slack with posting and I'm all too aware of it. I will find time to do a proper update soon, I swear. In the meantime I have delayed going to bed further to post something, anything. In fact, have a few things (layout inspired by A Cup of Jo):

Playgreen - "the wiki on green living"

FML for optimists - Gives Me Hope

DIY Terrarium Christmas Ornaments

A common dilemma

The tutorial that saved my hair from being cut short again

I will be back soon!

Oh, and I can't leave without posting this:

I have no idea who made it, but every time I see it on Livejournal it makes me chuckle.

Monday, 2 November 2009

all hallows' eve


Just a quick post to say that hallowe'en went really well. The recipes I used were from here - I added extra 'blood' to the fingers to make them appear severed and used jam under the fingernails instead of painting them. They looked really good! They tasted quite good, although I've had better biscuits (I did make them a little too thick I think).

The brainballs were yummy and incredibly addictive - be warned!

Somehow we managed to fit everything in - eating, watching horror films, drinks, tricks, some fancy dress (if you can call wearing hats fancy dress) and dancing.

I named my pumpkin Glee, and regretted telling my best friend about a pumpkin I'd seen that had had it's guts placed in its mouth a la vomit.

Friday, 30 October 2009

making ham

Today I made ham and I thought I'd share the recipe.

I don't know where the recipe came from originally, or if it's just something my mother came up with, but it makes the most amazing ham.

(My ham is still cooling in the pan, later on I'll add a picture of the finished article here.)


Smoked Gammon Joint (any size)
8 Whole Black Peppercorns
6 Whole Cloves
1 Bay Leaf
1 Onion, peeled and quartered
1 Small Potato
1 Carrot
1 Stick of Celery


#1 Remove packaging from gammon joint, including the papery thing they put over the skin (if you can't get this off, or suspect it doesn't have one I guess it doesn't matter too much - I've boiled a joint with the paper on before, thinking it didn't have one - it just floats off and you can remove it then) and place joint in a large saucepan.
Either rinse the joint a couple of times whilst in the pan, or leave to soak overnight in covered pan (if the joint is smoked you don't need to put it in the fridge, although you can if you're worried). Discard the water from the rinse/soak.

#2 Cover gammon with fresh water, nearly completely but not quite.

#3 Prepare the ingredients (peel and chop vegetables into large chunks) and add them to the water (NB: My pictures don't include celery because I forgot to buy some, oops.)

#4 Cover the pan, bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes per lb (500g-ish) - my joint is 750g so I simmered for about 45-50 minutes.

#5 Turn off gas and leave to cool in the liquor before removing.

The cooked ham keeps for around a week if you keep it covered in the fridge. The liquor can either be discarded, or used as stock in pea and ham soup.

The purpose of the potato is to control the salt content. If you use a larger joint, you may prefer to use a larger potato so it's not too salty.

Enjoy with eggs and chips, in salads, pies and sandwiches! Although we make it any time of the year, it is one of the things we always, always make in the run up to Christmas :)

Tonight I am baking finger cookies for hallowe'en. Tomorrow I'll be making the brainballs and eyeballs out of mini mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes. I love hallowe'en food :)

Thursday, 29 October 2009

clean as a whistle

I finally got around to making the cleaner from this post on design*sponge. I didn't follow the recipe exactly, but it turned out pretty well. It's a lot more efficient than I thought it would be; it cuts through grease with no problem at all and leaves my tops shining. I'm going to try it in the bathroom too.

I would recommend using distilled water (sometimes known as deionized - the mineral-free water you can buy for irons and other items where a build up of minerals would cause degradation) instead of tap or mineral water, as it has a much longer shelf life. I buy my deionized water from the garage! You can get Hydrogen Peroxide from your local chemist; it's used as a mouthwash amongst other things.

I halved the recipe, since I only had a 500ml empty Ecover Squirt bottle spare and Google informed me 32oz is pretty much 1l. I love Dr Bronner's for many things, but if you only want to use it as an ingredient in cleaning supplies you can get a 118ml travel-sized bottle for just £2.50. Summer Naturals has a good range of the travel sizes in different scents, as well as a 500ml spray bottle, a range of essential oils, white vinegar and other natural cleaning supplies at a good price.

Whilst I'm on the subject of cleaning, I'd like to recommend the book Natural Stain Remover: Clean Your Home Without Harmful Chemicals. I've been chemical-free for years now, I've tried many different natural products and read many books on chemical-free living but this one tops the lot for cleaning and stain removal. It's an A-Z guide of stains/surfaces with general cleaning recipes in the front. The majority of the recipes use the basic, cheap natural ingredients you either have or should have in your house if you're interested in green living. Every recipe I've tried has worked, which, after as many failed attempts as I've had, is a bit of a miracle. But then, I am forever dropping things on myself or on the floor so maybe I just need these things more than most!

Monday, 12 October 2009

padded noticeboards - an etsy update

I am so tired at the moment, I can't believe it. In the fashion of my mother (and my grandmother for that matter) I'm going to blame it on the change in season. I do love autumn but the cold gets to me.

I listed two new padded notice boards on our uk etsy shop a couple of days ago.

The first board is pirate themed:

And the second board is french themed:

Daisy Mae is all about themes at the moment.

Even though I'm swamped, Daisy Mae is crafting constantly at the moment, so I'll be listing a lot more items over the next few months. I will probably post about them here eventually, but if you want to be kept up-to-date as soon as new items are posted feel free to follow our Twitter. It's only updated with new product notifications, occasional craft comments and, in future, the odd interesting etsy/craft related link. We won't bombard you with tweets!

Friday, 25 September 2009

sandcastles in the sand

Yesterday, I went for a walk on the beach and found this amazing sandcastle right next to the ramp. I love the amount of effort put in to it. I'm curious about who built it, how many people worked on it, how long it took and why.. Did they just get bored when they were spending time on the beach with their child, some buckets and a rake or did they premeditate it?

The level of detail was incredible.

Click for bigger pictures.

Monday, 21 September 2009

(..inspiring photographs..)

In the absence of time to make a real post, I shall regurgitate this meme from LiveJorunal.

- Post ten(I'm going to cheat and make this twenty 'cos I have so many) of any pictures currently on your hard drive that you think are self-expressive.

- No captions. It must be like we're speaking with images and we have to interpret your visual language just like we have to interpret your words.

- They must ALREADY be on your hard drive - no googling or flickr! They have to have been saved to your folders sometime in the past. They must be something you've saved there because it resonated with you for some reason.

'tiny ropes of misery' by riitta ikonen

by cristiana ceppas

by ashlei

by Edward Gorey

by René Magritte

by toothpaste for dinner

by exploding dog

Looking Back by Peter Callesen

from Into the Wild

The Mummers

I'll come back and add credit to the ones I know at a later date.