I hope you'll join me in creating memories and sharing the passion of experimentation.

Anything goes, but food, sewing, hosting and DIY are my favourites, what are yours?

Monday, 29 July 2013

The latest on Freddie and Delilah...she's a GIRL!!

After months of speculating, trying desperately to analyse the head bobbing, quacks and altogether disturbing noises the ducks make in the pond, we have an answer!! Delilah is a girl!

When we got Freddie and Delilah we were told, as the names suggest, that they were one boy and one girl. BUT she's never started laying...which is pretty strange we thought, given that they are about 9 months old now. For the last month we had almost resigned to the fact that she must be male.

And THEN we found the egg. Very exciting! Dances were had, songs were sang, meal worms were handed out by the handful. Slight exaggeration?? However, it was in a very strange place and we can't find any others nearby or anywhere else... we've looked everywhere. They're such adventurous ducks that they don't stay in one place for longer than 2 minutes, so we can't even think where she might be laying.

But anyway, Delilah is a girl; what on earth will I do with my evenings now?!? My computer may have withdrawal symptoms from me Googling 'When do Call ducks start laying?', 'Do female ducks laugh?', 'Do male Call ducks have orange beaks?'...

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Chicken Liver Pâté

Everyone knows that this weather is prime picnic time... and what picnic is complete without pâté?!? Especially when it's so quick and simple to make!


It's best if you have a food processor or blender to whizz up the livers to create a smooth texture, but if you prefer chunky pâté, then mashing it up with a fork will do just fine

10-14 Chicken livers (around 250g) TIP: You could substitite chicken for duck or goose livers if you fancied it
100g Butter plus extra for sealing the top
1 Garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
50ml brandy (madeira or similar could be substituted here if you prefer)
50ml double cream (optional)
salt & pepper for seasoning

If you like prunes (i'm not a big fan) I hear they work superbly well in country pâté. Finely chop 2-3 prunes and add to the pan at the same time as the garlic and thyme.

Serving: 4-6

1) Take a small frying pan and melt 2tsp of the butter on a medium heat. When it bubbles and goes frothy, add the livers.
2) Cook for a few minutes, turning occasionally, until they turn pink/grey.
3) Place the livers in a blender and whizz up until it reaches a consistency you like. I like it super smooth.

4) Put the frying pan back on the heat and gently heat the thyme and garlic for a minute or so, until soft.
5) Add the brandy, slowly and carefully, to the pan and let it bubble for a few minutes.
6) Once reduced slightly, pour into the blender. Also add the remaining butter (except the bit you've left for the top) to the blender and season. This would also be the time to add your double cream if you're using it.
7) Whizz until it reaches your desired consistency and voila, ready to take to your picnic :)

8) If you're not going to eat it immediately, pop it into a jar... a Kilner jar looks pretty awesome...melt your leftover butter very slowly, not allowing it to bubble and then pour over the top of the pâté.
9) Allow to cool and store in the fridge for up to 5 days, although I know you'll eat it all before then.

You can make 1-2 portions of pâté with the chicken liver you'll get with your giblets if you buy a roast chicken for your Sunday Lunch. I find it so satisfying to use every part of the roast chicken, or any joint of meat for that matter! If you do want to make a smaller amount with your left over chicken liver, you can scale down the above recipe. TIP: Just remember to add the same size amount of butter as you have livers (in volume, not weight).

Please share your pâté picnic snaps, and let me know what pâte varieties you like. Enjoy the sun... responsibly :p

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Navy Upright Collar Dress

Before the weather turned very untypically English, I decided to try turning a summer tea dress pattern into a more sophisticated self-shaping dress, inspired a little bit by Emilia Wickstead's Coat Dress worn by Kate Middleton on St Paddy's Day.

I already had the McCall's M6503 pattern sitting in my room (which also makes lovely summer dresses, perfect for this time of year), so instead of searching for a different pattern, I thought i'd give an adaptation a try (View D). Making things difficult for myself.... again!


The first thing I did was measured myself and compared my measurements to the finished garment measurements. TIP: Summer dresses often have bigger pattern pieces, because a bit of extra material looks nice and drapey in a soft floaty material. However, I wanted each piece to lie flat and didn't want too many gathers, as in a thicker material it would look too bulky. It turned out the only thing I needed to adjust slightly was the front bodice pieces. I took a little bit off the centre and side seam edges, so that there were less gathers under the bust line.

Next, the fun part, choosing the fabric: I knew I wanted a material that would keep it's shape, but it couldn't be too thick or stiff. A medium weight corduroy would have the type of thing I was looking for, but at my local market I stumbled up on a navy felt/fleece, with a polyester backing - PERFECT! I was so excited to get going. I also chose a contrast chequered material for the waist and collar.

And so I got started :) I didn't have to change anything else, but I would always suggest TIP: to tack the bodice pieces together first to make sure all the sizing is correct, especially when you are adapting a pattern.

The only thing that was a little tricky, because of the thicker material, was the collar. I found that trying to sew that many layers of fabric is best done by hand. The collar on my dress isn't perfect even now, but I don't think it's too noticeable. I'm sure you'll have more luck!

Have you made a different type of look with a different fabric? Post your pictures!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Pinny of the Month

Ok so I admit, this is a little late, but here's June's Pinny of the Month....

I spotted it a few months ago on the Jessie Steele website. It is an american website, but they do ship to the UK, and every single one of these pinnies is a winner, so you won't regret typing .com into your browser!

Apple of my Eye Black Gigi Apron

Loads of the pinnies also come with matching tea towels, gloves and heat pads etc.

Jessie Steele is a family run Mother and Daughter born company, and their love for pinnies, family and femininity really shines through. Most of them have a slightly retro look, and every one is special.

You'll probably be seeing a fair amount more pinnies on this feature that come from this website as they're all beautiful; choosing just one is so difficult! Go and check it out and I guarantee you won't come alway empty handed.

Pinny love -x-x-x-x-

Summery Sundried Tomato Fish

I love eating outside in the evening and the lovely weather we've been having recently means that I've been doing it a LOT. However, I don't know about you but there's only so many times I can eat a BBQ. Last night, instead getting the BBQ out, I cooked a lovely summery fish recipe inside and served it up with salad and new potatoes to eat outside. Divine. It's also such a simple and quick dish.

My absolute favourite fish is Turbot - but it's pretty difficult to come by, so any white fish would be just fine. I used Seabass this time and it worked out great!

2 Fresh white fish of your choice, deboned and scales removed (you can also use fillets if you prefer)
1-2 Fish stock cube
Fresh thyme
1 lemon
Olive oil
3tbsp white wine
Sun-dried tomato paste (TIP: whizzed up sun-dried tomatoes always tastes just that tiny bit better than the paste in a jar)
1tbsp capers
1 handful of cherry tomatoes or 2 sliced up salad tomatoes
Fresh Basil

Serving: 4

1) Preheat the oven to 200degrees (180degrees fan)
2) Make a paste with your fish stock cube and a little water. Add a small squeeze of lemon juice
3) Spread your paste over both sides and inside your fish (TIP: remember to rub head to tail so you don't spike yourself)
4) Place a few sprigs of fresh thyme inside the fish. If you're using fish fillets, just place it in the pan just before you add the fish
5) Choose a frying pan that can go both on the hob and in the oven and coat the bottom with olive oil. A cast iron one works brilliantly if you have one
6) Heat your pan of oil and when it's hot place your fish in. Turn the fish over so that both sides fry for around 25seconds and both sides are sealed
7) Transfer your pan into the middle shelf of the oven
8) Meanwhile make your sauce - Mix 2tbsp Olive oil, white wine, sun-dried tomato paste, capers, cherry tomatoes, basil and half a lemon's worth of juice in a bowl
9) After 12 minutes has past, take your pan out of the oven and pour your sauce evenly over the fish
10) Place the pan back into the oven for another 5 minutes, or until your fish has cooked through
11) And there you go. Remove your fish and serve up with your choice of sides....mine would be new potatoes and a nice simple salad.

One summery, quick and simple dinner. Enjoy :)