All about Journaling

I have never considered myself the type of person to keep a journal but 29th December 2012 I decided that I was going to give it a good old adult sized try! And much to my amazement I have managed to sustain it so I thought it worth sharing. 

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I have used a mixture of collages, bits from travels (tickets, pressed flowers ect), pictures (more like doodles) and words both the spew from my brain and quotes and lyrics! 

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I partly accredit the success of this little 365 project to the lack of pressure I put on myself. First off I didn’t use a pretty notebook so I wouldn’t feel like my inside had to live up to an amazing outside! As it is I will be making a fabric slip cover for the end of the year to help preserve her for posterity!

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Secondly I did this with no other purpose than to have a little weeny creative outlet at the end of each day so I could approach each blank page with no expectation. 

 

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I know it’s not the end of the year yet but so far this project has been great fun, given me a crazy record of my year and I plan on doing it again next year. 

Front porch ghosts

Let’s get spooky coz it’s almost Halloween! I haven’t gone as bonkers as normal because there is just too much house to try and decorate so I thought I would focus on the front porch because that’s where the any little monsters will be coming to!

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From afar, can you spot them?

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I used the ghosts I made last year from scraps of white fabric and lace around balls of tightly scrunched newspaper. They were inspired by the ghosts made by the Beautiful Mess girlies but I used more layers of fabric so my ghosts have more tutu like skirts (I think they are ballerinas inside…)

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I hung them from strings cast across our little front porch. They flow beautifully in the wind which is lucky considering the gales we have forecast for the next couple of days. Let’s hope theu survive!!!!

Pecan Caramel Cake and Great British Bake off final

Have you been watching Bake off? You haven’t! Really? No OF COURSE you have! I have been addicted since series 1! Tonight was the final and it only seemed fitting to have cake while watching exceptionally skilled people baking in a tent in the middle of a field.

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Only in Britain! 

This is an altered Paula Deen recipe. I’m ever so slightly in love with her however controversial a thing that is to say!

Pecan Caramel Cake (originally Pecan spiced layer cake with caramel frosting) 

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Cake:

65g chopped pecans 
57g butter
50g caster sugar
55g light brown sugar 
1 large egg
106g self raising flour 
1/2tsp cinnamon 
1/2tsp baking powder 
104ml buttermilk
1/2tsp vanilla 

Frosting: 

113g butter 
73g light brown sugar
73g dark brown sugar
42ml milk
192g icing sugar 
1tsp vanilla 

(NB the quantities are strange because I a) converted from cups to ‘real’ measurements b) only made 1/3 the quantity!)

1. Preheat oven to 150C and toast the pecans on a baking sheet for around 10mins (or until they smell scrummy!) 

2. Make the cake by beating butter and sugar until light then adding flour, cinnamon, baking powder and egg. The mix in buttermilk and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined. 

3. Lightly dust the toasted nuts in flour (which makes them suspend better in the mix so I am told . . .) then fold them into the batter. 

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4. Turn the oven up to 180C and grease and bottom line a 10″x5″ pan before adding the batter and baking for 10-15mins until baked.

5. Take out and cool in the tin for 10mins before turning out onto a rack to complete the cooling while you make the frosting.

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6. Melt the butter over a low heat and add the brown sugars and beat well to combine before gently trickling in the milk always beating. 

7. Remove from the heat and transfer into a large bowl before beating in the sifted icing sugar and vanilla. 

8. Cut the cooled cake into three equal sections and sandwich with frosting between each layer and all over. Decorate with remaining pecans (from 100g packet.) 

TA DAAA! 

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Delicious and worthy of Bake off Finals night! 

Please tell me you watch it!!!

Skin on leek and potato soup

Tis the season to get soupy, tra la la la laaa!

Today with a recipe for skin on leek and potato soup. Some reasons for the less traditional ‘skin on’

1. The skins are super good for you
2. I’m lazzzzzzzy
3. I really so prefer the taste with the skins
4. I’m lazzzzzzzy
5. I like my soup a little thicker and more substantial
6. I’m lazzzzzzzy
Think that coveres it, on with the recipe. 

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500g of leeks (about 2 large, I use most of the leek but I know some people prefer to use only the white, so this might need adjusting.)

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2small (or one large) onion
3 large potatoes
1.2l chicken stock
Some other vegetables (the celery going a bit meugh in the bottom of your fridge would be perfect but I used green peppers from the garden. Adding to your 5-a-day doesn’t hurt and it’s a great fridge scrap buster!)

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It’s all terribly simple really, dice and sweat the onions and leeks until soft but not brown, add the other vegetables around the half way stage (I find this takes around 20mins so 10mins in I add the ‘other’ vegetable.) I also like to add a mighty chunk of butter at this stage, you can just call me Paula but butter and leeks are bffs!

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Then add the potatoes, well scrubbed and diced into small-ish chunks followed by the stock.

Pop a lid on and watch it doesn’t boil over until the potato is cooked! Then immersion blend to your heart’s content, season and add any milk/cream. This freezes a treat so big batches are such a go and don’t forget to enjoy some right out the pot! Mmmmm. 

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Ps. Food photography is hard, especially soup. Who can make a bowl of soup look sexy, hella not me!

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Birdhouses decorating DIY and a confession

I got these cute wooden birdhouses from American craft stores for no more than $1 each! They don’t know how good they got it across the pond right! Bargain value time I say!

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I don’t have a before picture but they were just plain wood, imagine it will you. I painted the ‘body’ with standard white acrylic paint then papered the roof with strips of newsprint (I like the texture the text adds.) The roof then got washed with a 50:50 white paint water wash and the ‘trim’ painted in gold (because these are bling tactic y’know!

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Now comes confession time, I have only finished two of these, lazy lazy crafter that I am.

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So hopefully this will motivate me to get them done because it’s really is a super easy a quick project!

Gingerbread biscuits

Baby it’s cold outside….
And raining.

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What is one to do? (Apart from vegging infront of the fire….) Biscuits?
Phwar yes.
Gingerbread biscuits feel seasonally appropriate for chasing weather, snuggling up with a hot coffee and a gingerbread biscuit. Mmmm.

I used a Mary Berry recipe but did some fudging replacing 1/2 the golden syrup with honey.

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12oz plain flour (I used a mix of white and wholemeal)
Tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp ginger
4oz butter
6oz light muscovado sugar
4tbsp golden syrup (I used 2golden syrup and 2 honey)
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 170 fan.
2. Rub butter into flour ginger and bicarbonate of soda to form breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
3. Add the egg and syrup and mix to form a firm dough.
4. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness on a floured board and cut out shapes.
5. Bake on a lined baking sheet for 10-12 mins or until golden brown.
6. Allow to cool slightly before lifting onto cooling racks.

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The whole house smelled of autumn so the little bit of effort was totally worth it!