Thursday, 13 September 2018

pumpkin spice banana bread

There's something so wonderfully Sunday afternoon-esque about banana bread to me. It's the perfect thing to have with a cup of tea while the cat snoozes in your lap.

Now I know a lot of people feel that pumpkin spice has taken over enough things in life. Me? No chance. Pumpkin spice season just might be my favorite one of all. 

I've been wanting to make banana bread for a few weeks now but the truth is that bananas just don't last that long in our house. We finally (!) had a few browning bananas and with autumn a-knocking, I couldn't resist the temptation to try something a bit different. 

I use this classic recipe from The Joy of Cooking for my banana bread because it's delicious and there aren't any ingredients that would require a trip to the store. There's little as disappointing to me as finding an amazing recipe online only to see you need something impossible, like powdered unicorn horn, and dangit if the store hasn't just shut. 

I did also have to make my own pumpkin spice, seeing as pumpkin pie is not a staple in the UK. I mixed 2 tsp cinnamon with 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Some recipes call for allspice but there wasn't any in my cupboard sooooooo here we are. 

I mixed 1 1/2 tsps of the homemade pumpkin spice into the dry ingredients in the first step. To be honest, I think I could have probably increased that to 2tsps or even a bit more but P said he thought it came through just enough. He doesn't share my love for pumpkin spice though, so if you're a big fan of it then you might want to add a bit more in there.

I like mine best with a nice thick layer of salty butter, with none of this nonsense about letting it cool. 

What do you think? Long live the pumpkin spice banana bread?

Monday, 10 September 2018

DIY autumn gold hoop wreath

Am I the only one who has been seeing thousands of these beautiful gold hoop wreaths all over Pinterest lately? They looked so elegant - and easy - to me that I just had to try and make one myself. A few hours of happy quiet with my glue gun later, I had a cheerful and inexpensive autumn wreath. 

What you'll need:

+ kid's hula hoop
+ silk flowers
+ paper leaves
+ gold spray paint
+ hot glue gun
+ floral tape
+ wire cutters or strong scissors

I snagged my hula hoop on sale at Asda for £1, the spray paint and flowers came from Wilko. I used my Cricut to cut out the paper leaves but you could easily do it by hand - I had about 10-12 of a variety of sizes in both light and dark green.

First, gather your supplies:

(Kitty paws are recommended but not required)

I took the peonies off their stalks and used the wire cutters to snap the orange and yellow flowers down to the joining bit. Don't get rid of any extra greenery as you'll need this later!

Second, spray paint your hoop:

I did mine in several coats as I'd gone a bit too heavy with the spraying and there were some drips down the sides. Once it's dry, bring it in to a nice flat surface and get your glue gun going. 

I took the flowers and basically bent the stalks into the shape I wanted, holding them against the hoop and then gluing them in place. Be sure to hold the flowers down until the glue is dry otherwise they'll pop off. Then I taped the stalks down to the hoop with the floral tape. 

I layered the flowers and the greenery until I got the look I wanted. The peonies were easy to stick on, too, I put a nice gob of glue down and then pushed the bud of the flower into the glue until it dried. I used the paper leaves and spare greenery to fill in any gaps and cover places where the floral tape was peeking out.

I was pretty happy with how it turned out, now I've just got to figure where in the house I'm going to put it! 


Saturday, 8 September 2018

saturday and sunflowers

Happy weekend, y'all!

I'm writing from my overwhelmingly-filled-with-craft-supplies kitchen table, the vague scent of oven cleaner (and spray paint) mingling with my cinnamon candle. I've got a few craft projects on the go, hence the smell of spray paint, but it's been a lovely and crisp September day. I'm especially loving the cheery sunflowers and asters sitting here in front of me!

I'm fall obsessed, in case you didn't know, and I think tomorrow the little horde of decorative pumpkins will be creeping out from the cupboard under the stairs and taking up new residence around the house. My mom was - and still is! - one for seasonal decorating, and I've definitely caught the bug from her. She used to have these decorations that I think we got from McDonald's. They were little potatoes dressed in costume and as soon as they came down from the attic, it was officially fall. I always loved fall, even though I grew up in a state where it basically meant nothing. It's so nice living somewhere with seasons now, even if they seem to fade quickly into dark nights and constant rain.

We've tried growing some pumpkins in the garden this year and though they grew prolifically, they've since caught powdery mildew and I don't think we'll get many actual pumpkins out of them. Luckily, we (and by that I mean this was 100% my idea and poor P is getting dragged along) already have tickets to a local pumpkin patch this month. I've already apologised to him in advance both for my over-excitement on the day and the volume of photographs I'll be asking of him. The fact that it's still more than a month away and I'm already talking about it should be a sign!

If you'll excuse me now, folks, I'm off to put together a house favorite - salad with crispy prosciutto, roasted asparagus, and feta. It's okay - you can be jealous ;)


Tuesday, 5 June 2018

what i'm reading lately - the disappearances

For those of you who don't already know, I am what can politely be termed a "voracious" reader.

And what I really mean by that is that I will 100% ignore you, avoid you, not hear you, and very possible run away from you if my nose is buried in a book. Just ask my dad, who bought me Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and then refused to give it to me for three days because of like, chores??? I know, I know, the injustice of it all.

Now my tastes pretty much run the gamut - I once read an Emily Post book cover to cover because I'd run out of book money - but my favorite is YA which is why we are starting with this amazing book.

This weekend I read The Disappearances, by Emily Bain Murphy and let me just say to start this off that I already want to re-read it. It's got mystery, it's got throwing stars, it's got magical realism - need I say more? The small town of Sterling loses something every seven years, from their reflections to their dreams. When teenage Aila and her younger brother Miles move to Sterling after their mother dies, they realize that their mother may be the reason behind it all. This book is enchanting and examines sibling relationships in such a realistic way, even if the disappearing night sky is fantastic. Aila has to settle in to a new life - with her father fighting in the Second World War - against the backdrop of her increasingly difficult relationship with her brother and a town suspicious of her mother.

In case that didn't intrigue you, Aila's mother also unwittingly left her two clues - the ring she always wore and a book of Shakespeare's plays. I spent the whole book wondering: what will disappear for Sterling next? Was Aila's mother the catalyst for the curse? And will Aila figure out how to undo it? Murphy's writing drops you right into this world with its honesty, inviting you to stay and puzzle it out with Aila and her new friends.

What are you reading lately? Anything you can recommend to a book-lovin' gal?


Friday, 19 August 2016

five faves friday

Hello again, friends and fellow Friday devotees. How was your week? I hope it was productive and lovely and very quickly the weekend. :) Here are my five faves from this week!

+ I came home on Tuesday to find my lovely husband had set up all this for me, since my birthday present had arrived that day. Nothing cheers up a Tuesday like presents and prosecco.

+ How gorgeous are these coasters? I'm tempted to buy them just so all our guests will think we're fancy grown ups.

+ My kitten comes up into the bed for cuddle time every morning and sometimes he's so sleepy still that I can tuck him in like this. Be still, my kitten-loving heart.

+ I've learned, perhaps the hard way, that I am a person that needs to create. Without something artsy every couple of weeks something inside just gets a bit crabby and stuffy. So despite my post last week about hobbies, I pulled out my watercolors the other day and painted the least ugly thing I've ever done. I'm actually so pleased with it (hi, smug alert) that I think I'll frame it and put it up on the wall.

+ This sweatshirt just screams lazy mornings and huge cups of coffee...and "I love corgis," as does all the best clothing.

I'm going to a work quiz night tonight and tomorrow half of our furniture is going to a new home with my brother and sister-in-law. Other than that, it's relaxation and online shopping for me this weekend. What are you up to? Any big weekend plans? Whatever they are, I hope they're good ones.


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

in defense of the ugly Insta

One of the things that I am always seeing go around the interwebz lately is how social media is affecting us. Our lives, our moods, our self-confidence...I can hardly click onto facebook without seeing an article about how social media doesn't reflect our real lives.

And I'm not immune to it, either. No matter how many times I tell myself that this blogger's life, with her artfully curated flat lays or stunning holiday photos, is bound to have good times and bad, I still find myself looking dejectedly in my closet. Don't get me wrong -- I love a beautiful Instagram profile. And any photo I post? Yup, definitely edited and thoughtfully taken. But I wasn't always that way.

In fact, if you look at my instagram page from back in the early days of the 'gram, you'll find lots of ugly photos. Part of it is the camera quality my phone had in 2011 and part of it is that there was pretty much nobody else on Instagram then. Seriously. My first photos have no likes because none of my friends were even aware that I'd posted them. So what did it matter if the lighting was bad or if the angle was unflattering?

my first post on Instagram

Somewhere along the way, I made the subconscious decision that only the most beautiful of my pictures would be honored by an appearance. The ones destined to get the most likes or where my hair looked both voluminous and smooth (no small feat, I might add). And we tend to look at ugly photos on social media and think, "I never would have posted that!"

But maybe ugly photos are what we need. Photos where our hair or our homes are a mess, photos of that dress that awkwardly cuts you in half but you can't throw it out because you've had it ten years, photos of unpainted toes and blurry sunsets. Photos that remind us that we're human and life is messy and that sunsets don't need to be perfectly photographed to be appreciated.

It's time that we celebrated the ugly picture. It's time we posted them, if only to tell each other to remember that we are still real people behind the screens. Real people with real, ordinary lives.

Blurry sunsets and all.


Friday, 12 August 2016

five faves friday

Friday, you fabulous thing, welcome back!

Today's a bit of a special Friday, seeing as both my brother and mother-in-law were born today. PLUS it has the added benefit of being the day before my own birthday (woo, 26!) which, as we all know, should be celebrated as international holiday.

+ In honor of birthdays, and the big shindig we're having at the end of the month, I've been looking at party decorations that are easy on the wallet and the eyes. Of course, if it rains, it means I will have to completely rethink everything. And let's be honest, it will rain. Nobody tell my husband that I'm currently eyeing up how I could tie long strands of poms across our living room by anchoring them on the curtain rod...

+ I am loving our new light fixture in our hallway. We've had a cheap little lamp at the top of the stairs for months now to bring some light into that space but have now finally found a proper light. And when I say we, I really mean our fabulous friend who found it for half price, texted us both a picture and delivered it to our door later that afternoon.

+ I finally broke down this week and bought some decaf coffee. Hard to believe, considering my automatic response to decaf in college was, "If it's not caffeinated, it doesn't count," but here we are. Turns out that having more than one cup of normal coffee a day can do a number on my heart's ability to function properly. And, despite years of hating it, I now adore the taste of coffee. Come at me, adulthood, with your heart palpitations and decaf coffee.

+ Our cat, Hamish the Magnificent, loves chasing mousies (no, they are not mice, they're mousies). We set up an obstacle course for him the other night and here's a quick clip of his smooth kitty moves in action:

+ I made a big investment this week in a pair of proper leather grown-up heels. They're gorgeous, though I'll have to exchange them for a smaller size. Did you know that when you spend more than £10 on a pair of shoes they actually are less likely to give you the brutal blisters you have come to expect?? Madness, I know.

We'll be celebrating birthdays this weekend and in weekends to come -- I'm a strong supporter of the "birthday month" idea -- so I'm looking forward to spending time with friends and family. What are your weekend plans?


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about this blog

All materials on this blog belong to me, unless stated otherwise. I try to give credit where it is due, but the internet is a vast wasteland of images separated from their creators. If you own something I post that is not attributed to you, please contact me and I will fix it stat. STAT. Like a doctor running down the hallways of the hospital to restart someone's heart. Exactly like that.