It’s Pancake Day, It’s Pancake Day, It’s PPPP-PPPP Pancake Day!

Like the man said…it’s Pancake Day! And I for one will be enjoying a day of mostly eating batter based foods! I bally love this day….it wouldn’t occur to me to make a meal of pancakes any other day of the year (with the exception of a breakfast of American style pancakes now and again!) and I love the excuse to gorge. I even made a Pinterest board this year with ideas….I like to have both sweet and savoury options, you know, to make it a balanced meal of course.

For breakfast we had Belgian waffles with banana and maple syrup. Then for lunch I had another go at making Okonomiyake, which is a sort of Japanese pancake. This dish is a favourite of Adam’s and although I’ve never had it ‘properly’ in Japan, I’ve been trying to learn to make it. Last week’s attempt was rather poor, but I think today’s was pretty good!

Home made Okonomiyake, or Japanese pancake for Shrove Tuesday

I based mine loosely on the recipes in my Pinterest board, with (as usual) a couple of changes for my own taste (and to use up things we had in the cupboard!). Here’s how I made it…..

  • I mixed one cup of flour with one cup of chicken stock, then added one beaten free range egg to form a batter.
  • Then I stirred in a large handful of savoy cabbage and one small leek (both finely sliced and from our yummy organic veg box) and seasoned.
  • Next I heated up a large non-stick skillet and sprayed a little olive oil onto the surface before pouring the mixture in.
  • Having spread the mixture out as much as possible, I pressed it all down into as thin a ‘pancake’ as I could, and let it cook for about eight minutes until the underside was golden.
  • Then I slid the pancake onto a plate, added a little more oil to the pan as well as some strips of free range streaky bacon.
  • Next I flipped the pancake onto another plate before sliding it back into the pan with the cooked side on top.
  • It was then just a case of waiting for the bacon to cook well, and the pancake browning nicely before serving it all up!

To top our Okonomiyake I mixed up a dessert spoon each of ketchup and barbecue sauce with two dessert spoons of Henderson’s relish and a teaspoon of golden caster sugar. We spooned this sort of Tonkatsu sauce onto our pancakes along with some mayonnaise, which I believe is the traditional topping. Yummy!

For supper this evening we’re planning some more traditional crepe-like pancakes with lemon juice and sugar….although I think I’ll also make some of these delicious sounding apple, banana and cinnamon pancakes to try, and maybe even some of these fabulous looking cinnamon roll pancakes too!

How do you like your pancakes?!

Ems x

Tuesday Tutorial: Purple Glitter Jewellery for Willow Foundation

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to attend a friend’s “Purple Party” to help raise funds for Willow Foundation*. Clare is running the London Marathon for the charity this year, and so put together the brilliant themed party to add to her fundraising target. There were purple cocktails, purple food, a purple photo booth and the whole place was decked out in purple, including the guests!

Being a bit low on purple things to wear myself, I decided to make some purple glittery treasures, with extra for Clare to sell on the night. And because I know everyone loves glitter (not to mention with Half Term in full swing!) I thought I’d share a little tutorial for how to make them. The batch I made took a while because there were so many, but one or two would be very quick to make, and super easy too! You can buy everything you need easily and inexpensively at a craft shop or online.

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

You Will Need:

  • Fine purple glitter (or another colour, if you must)
  • Original Mod Podge
  • A flat ended brush (about 10mm to 15mm wide)
  • A mixing pot (a yogurt pot or take out tub is perfect, especially if it has a lid)
  • An old teaspoon
  • Wooden laser cut shapes (I used 20mm and 30mm hearts, and 40mm stars)
  • Brooch backs and / or stick on pendant bails
  • E6000 glue

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

How To:

1. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of glitter into your mixing pot (if you’re making a big batch just double this, and keep making fresh batches as you go, so none is wasted)

2. Add about the same amount of Mod Podge and mix them well with the spoon (then wash the spoon!)

3. Choose which side of your wooden shape you want to paint (there are often marks from the laser cutting on one side, so paint onto that as you won’t see it when you’re finished)

4. Paint a thin layer of the glittery glue onto your shape….best not to use too much at a time so that you don’t spill over the edges and it stays neat

5. Wait for that to dry and then paint on another thin coat

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

6. Keep adding thin coats once the last is dry to build up the coverage….as with most painting projects, it’s better to do lots of thin coats than one or two thick ones (if your mixing pot has a lid you can cover your mixture whilst you wait for drying, so that it stays fresh)

7. I applied four or five coats to mine, and if you decide to make a big batch you can of course apply each coat to all of them, and by the time you’ve done the last, the first one will be dry and ready for the next

8. Once you’re happy with the coverage, leave until completely dry before flipping over ready for the backing

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

9. If you’re using a brooch back, check it works ok before using it, then blob some E6000 onto the flat side of the brooch back and press it firmly onto the back of your wooden shape

10. If you’re making a pendant, blob the E6000 onto the flat pad of the bail and carefully press it onto the back of your shape….before it dries turn it over to make sure it’s on straight

11. Leave for 24 hours to dry well before adding a chain if you’ve made a pendant, or before proudly pinning your brooch onto your clothes!

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

These would make great party favours for a Bridal Shower or Hen Party I think, or for children’s parties (although take care with brooch pins!)….or of course you could make some to raise funds for charity too!

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

Ems x

Willow is the only national charity working with seriously ill young adults aged 16 to 40 to fulfil uplifting and unforgettable Special Days. These Special Days enable them and their families to reconnect and refocus on each other while enjoying an activity of their choosing. A day for them, a day about them and a day that will create memories they will all treasure forever.

Valentine Pamper Hamper from Mira

Mira 360 Shower and Valentine's Day pamper hamper

Earlier this week a rather excitingly huge parcel arrived to my door…. filled with lots of pampering treats! The fabulous folk at Mira sent me a whole kit of lovely things to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and I thought I’d share it with you here…..

To begin with, the entire package smells amazing. Along with a super soft bathrobe and an organic loofah mit, I found Petal Fresh Botanicals‘ Aloe and Pomegranate Facial Clay Masque (which is cruelty free and vegan), Beauticology‘s Strawberry and Pomegranate Body Butter (also cruelty free), and a sweet little brown paper parcel filled with yummy smelling heart shaped soaps. I think it’s the scent of all those three combined that is so divine and I can’t wait to try them all out in a mass Valentine’s pampering session tomorrow!

Mira 360 Shower and Valentine's Day pamper hamper

The most exciting bit though (don’t judge me, I’m obsessed with house stuff at the moment as we prepare to buy our own place!) is the Mira 360 shower head that completed the parcel. I know. A shower head. How exciting can that be? Well, VERY, actually.

This shower head is actually four….the main body spins around giving you four different options: ‘rain’ is much like the usual function on your regular shower head, although I found it more powerful than most; ‘storm’ is more frothy and bubbly, and gave me a lovely head massage; ‘cloud’ gives out a flat stream of foamy water, which worked really well for rinsing my hair after shampooing; and ‘burst’, a full on blast with which I gave myself a rather wonderful neck and shoulder massage!

Mira 360 Shower and Valentine's Day pamper hamper

Now I know that you can’t beat a bath for pure relaxation, but for a pampering session it has to be a shower for me….and so I’m looking forward to spending an age in there tomorrow to indulge in all those lush smelling treats, before we begin our usual Valentine’s day celebrations (take out and a scary film!).

I hope you have a good weekend, whatever you’re doing!

Ems x

 

P.S. I received the Mira Valentine’s Pamper Hamper as a gift from Mira, but please know that I would never endorse anything that didn’t truly impress me!

Wednesday Wants: Matt & Nat vegan handbags

So I’m trying to have a clear out before we move again. The largest box when we moved still hasn’t been un-packed….it is filled with my handbags (the ones I don’t use on a day to day basis) and I’ve vowed to reduce them by selling them on Ebay and giving them away to charity. I’ve needed to do this for some time in honesty….there are many lovely bags that I no longer use but are in great shape and deserve a new home. But how to incentivise myself?

Well, more bags obviously.

Now I know that sounds silly, but stick with me….. I’m thinking that if I can make space and raise funds by clearing out the majority of bags in that box, I’ll have space and funds for at least a *few* replacements. Just one or two. Maybe three. But ones I’ll use more, and whilst I’m at it, I’ll make them vegan ones too.

Enter MATT & NAT. I treated myself to one of their gorgeous purses last year before going on honeymoon, as well as a pale blue handbag for when I was Bridesmaid. And I bally love them.

The quality is outstanding, the design delicious, and as if that weren’t enough, they are excellent value to boot. And if that’s not enough to convince you, just check out their ethical credentials…..

MATT & NAT stands for MAT(T)ERIAL + NATURE. It’s is a vegan brand, therefore there are no animal products used in production. No real leather, no animal derived glues, no nasties. The linings inside all MATT & NAT bags are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, and, in addition to being vegan, sustainable materials are constantly sourced in their design  such as cork and rubber.

Various vegan leathers are used, including PU and PVC (PU being favoured as it is less harmful for the environment than PVC). One of their factories operates by the SA8000 standard and they intend to make this standard a bigger part of production going forward. The team diligently visits each factory and builds strong personal relationships with owners, as well as encouraging everyone to volunteer as much as possible. Oh, and at the HQ in Montreal, they have vegetarian pot luck days and eat vegan cakes. I want to work there!

Anyways, being the conscientious person I am (*cough*), I thought I’d do my research and short list some bags for my new ‘capsule’ collection. Well, at least I’m hoping that by having my eyes on the prize, I’ll actually get that sorting done! So without further ado, here is my shortlist…..

Matt & Nat, "Kite" in Champagne, £115

Matt & Nat “Kite” in Champagne, £115

 

Matt & Nat "Deeter" in Citrus, £113

Matt & Nat “Deeter” in Citrus, £113

 

Matt & Nat "Wellington" in Iris, £108

Matt & Nat “Wellington” in Iris, £108

 

Matt & Nat "Hemlock" in Nature, £125

Matt & Nat “Hemlock” in Nature, £125

 

Matt & Nat "Tardy" in Walnut, £115

Matt & Nat “Tardy” in Walnut, £115

 

Matt & Nat "Parabole" in Midnight, £90

Matt & Nat “Parabole” in Midnight, £90

 

Matt & Nat "Malone" in Black, £95

Matt & Nat “Malone” in Black, £95

 

To die for, right? Now just to figure out the short-short list!

You can buy these lush handbags, as well as men’s bags, tablet cases and wallets via the MATT & NAT website, as well as on ASOS.com. They are also available at a number of UK independent stores, including What Sarah Did in Hitchin, Hertfordshire (where I first found them, thanks Sarah!),  Accent in Leeds, Dynamite in Hebden Bridge, Nood in Manchester, Swish in Edinburgh and many stores in London.

Ems x

Food on Friday: A Casa Di Alessia, Otley

A Casa Di Alessia, Italian Cafe, Otley

Having managed to clock up some overtime this week, Adam decided to take an extra long lunch break today, and treated me to lunch out. We’ve been wanting to try the little Italian cafe nearby for ages….several people have recommended it to us and we’d heard they serve great authentic pizza as well as good coffee.

It’s a teeny place, but well located just a minute’s walk from the market square in Otley, on New Market. We managed to snag a little table (there are only two, plus a bar with high stools, but we noticed nobody had to wait long as the service is pretty speedy) and opted to try out the margherita and artichoke pizza slices, as well as the veggie lasagne and long coffees. I believe the owners (who served us!) are a couple….she is clearly Italian and in charge of the cooking….he is clearly local and in charge of the lovely welcome we got!

There was a great choice, which I understand changes daily….several vegetarian and meat pizzas, meat pasta, calzones, soup of the day, salads and all sorts. Everything we saw looked delicious and fresh.

We didn’t wait long at all for our coffees, and our food arrived soon after too. I have to admit, we’ve been struggling for a decent coffee since we moved, and so these were easily the best we’ve had in Otley….rich and chocolatey, with an excellent crema. The food portions were much larger than we’d expected (we didn’t seem to mind though) and both pizzas were REALLY good. I love ‘proper’ thin dough bases, and these were clearly made fresh with really good mozzarella loaded on top. The pasta was SO yummy….it was seriously creamy and cheesey, and filled with spinach and mushrooms. Even Adam enjoyed his half and he doesn’t usually like mushrooms AT ALL!

The whole visit fitted neatly into our lunch hour, including walking there and back….perhaps on a quiet day we’ll hang around for an extra coffee or two….we will go back for sure. AND the whole meal (way too much for a usual lunch, but it was our main meal of the day!) came to just £11.40. Such good food and such good value.

I’m afraid I didn’t get any photos as I was too eager to yum everything up, but I nabbed the one above from the owner’s entry on Trip Advisor, where you can see many more great reviews so you don’t have to take my word for it!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants…. Iiiiiiiit’s snoooooowiiing!!!!!

Yeah, so I’m a bit excited about the snow. I love snow. It’s magical and festive and fun and beautiful. Snow, snow, snow, snow, snow.

I’ve been out in the snow (being a dog owner means going out, whatever the weather) and although it’s not fallen thick enough here to build a snowman or anything, I still loved wrapping up warm to go out and stomp about in the lovely stuff. And because it’s not so heavy that we’re snowed in, and I don’t have to stress about driving anywhere or getting to anything important, I can continue to get excited about the snow….and, being me, I do this by way of shopping!…..

HAMAX LILLEHAMMER RODEL MAXI WOODEN SLEDGE

Hamax, Lillehammer Rodel Maxi Wooden Sledge, £130

I am firmly of the belief that sledging is an activity for grown ups. Not only do you need to be careful and responsible (*cough*) to control a sledge safely, but children don’t have nearly enough weight to them to make the most of it. Enter the Hamax ‘Lillehammer’ maxi sledge, which you can find at Simply Piste and order on NEXT DAY DELIVERY!

This is a super practical sledge which can be folded up neatly to carry along to your nearest snowy hill. It has steel runners for excellent, er, slippiness, AND it’s big enough for two to sit on! It looks exactly like a sledge should in my opinion, a classic design that says you’re not messing about. None of this slipping around on a bin liner or baking sheet nonsense!

Dress Your Own Snowman Kit

Dress Your Own Snowman Kit, £9.99

The last thing you want to be doing when your hands are numb with cold and your feet are frozen into your wellies is to have to scout about for accessories for your snowman! But fear not! The ‘Dress Your Own Snowman‘ kit will mean you have everything to hand when the snow starts falling. The kit includes a soft filled material nose, five black buttons (two to use as eyes and three to use on his chest), a red felt scarf and a black felt hat, all in a nifty bag. Indomitable spirit not included.

Arctic Force Snowball Crossbow

Arctic Force Snowball Crossbow, £13.95

I’ve been fancying myself as a crossbow pro ever since I started watching The Walking Dead. Daryl is easily the coolest character, and not least because of his choice of zombie-beating weapon. And I know he’d approve of this snowball equivalent from Arctic Force. It has a trajectory of 60 feet, and boasts adjustable arms for a more accurate aim. The easy pull mechanism will ensure you’re fastest on the draw, so really your opponents won’t stand a chance.

Wrap up warm folks and enjoy the snow if you’re lucky enough to have it!

Ems x

 

Food on Friday…. Chai Spiced Biscuit Recipe

Chai Spiced Cookie Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

It’s Friday! The end of the week! The start of the weekend!

And what better way to celebrate than baking up some treats?!

Earlier today I felt like baking, so asked Adam if there was anything he particularly fancied. Top of the list was ‘some chai biscuits’, for which I didn’t have a recipe. So I had a look through my books, picked up a couple of simple biscuit recipes, and set about experimenting. And I have to say, the results have got me feeling rather smug!

I chose some of the most commonly used chai masala spices to add into the mix (there seems to be rather the debate about it, so I just picked the ones I wanted!), and luckily added just the right amount to make my biscuits perfectly aromatic, spicy and sweet. They have a satisfying soft crunch, and a little bit of chewiness due to the ginger and mixed peel. And I made them with nothing more than what we had already in the larder, and it only took twenty minutes to prepare them!

As you can tell, I’m rather pleased with myself, so here’s the recipe so that you can share in the joy!

Chai Spiced Cookie Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

Ingredients:

  • 100g organic butter
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 1 clove
  • 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 25g cut mixed peel
  • 2 pieces stem ginger, finely chopped (about 4og)
  • 2 tbsp organic milk

How to make them:

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  2. Sift in the flour, cinnamon and all spice
  3. Remove the shells of the cardamoms and put the contents into a pestle and mortar
  4. Add the clove and grind together until fine
  5. Pop these in with the other ingredients and grate the nutmeg in too
  6. Give it all a good mix before adding the peel and ginger, then mix again
  7. Add a little milk at a time and mix to combine until you have a soft dough
  8. Knead lightly on a floured surface, then roll out to about 5mm thickness
  9. Cut out your biscuits with a cutter or using the rim of a glass
  10. Place on a lightly greased baking tray, and pop in a pre-heated oven at 200°C
  11. Bake for 12 minutes or so, until nicely golden and crisp
  12. Remove from the oven and cool a little on a wire rack before yumming them all up!

Enjoy!

Ems x

2014: The year that was….

Screen shot 2014-12-30 at 17.53.16

I have to say, 2014, you were pretty flippin’ brilliant.

It’s been a busy and eventful year, and probably the most memorable yet for me. I even stuck to my new year’s resolutions…although more on that another time.

I was a great start to the year….our new baby niece arrived, I had stacks of Valentines orders, there was heaps of crafting to do ahead of a certain event, as well as LOTS of planning….all leading up to the 3rd of May when I got to marry my best friend, not to mention the 24th May when we had a huge celebration with our friends. After our two-part wedding it was an amazing honeymoon in Bali, Indonesia, then more wedding shenanigans, including the wedding of my dear friend Claire for whom I was Bridesmaid.

There were more adventures as we made the brave move from Hitchin to Yorkshire. It’s been non-stop since we arrived, but we’re finally settled in….and have actually decided where gets to keep us as we found a perfect new home for us, and have had an offer accepted on a wonderful house!

As you can imagine, I’m pretty excited for next year now too….not only will we be buying our first house together (fingers crossed!) but we have lots of other things to look forward to as well.

I’d like to thank all my lovely friends for being just that….all of you who read my little blog, and get involved in commenting etc to make it so rewarding….my family (and the new extensions of that!) and of course my new husband, who I think is really rather splendid. Thanks for helping to make 2014 such a great year!

I hope you all have a fabulous New Year’s celebration, whatever it is you’re doing (cocktails and board games with friends at home for us!)….and I look forward to seeing and hearing from you in 2015!

Big loves,

Ems x

My Best of 2014

Screen shot 2014-12-31 at 14.49.17

Just a bit of fun, here’s a list of my best-ofs and favourites from 2014!….

Film
Grand Budapest Hotel (precisely my kind of film….action packed, romantic, hilarious and stunning to look at!)

Book
Charlotte Grey (finally got around to reading this whilst on honeymoon, and was totally hooked!)

Song (I can never choose just one, so…)
Rather Be, Clean Bandit
Happy, Pharrell Williams
Wrapped Up, Olly Murs

TV Show
Luther (closely followed by Mad Men, which I finally got round to watching!)

Theatre
Jersey Boys in the West End (I took my Mummy for her 60th and we had a ball!)

Day
Obviously, my Wedding day (perfect intimate occassion, super weather, great food, and two separate strangers said I looked like a Princess so I felt like Grace Kelly!)

Night
‘Part Two’ of our Wedding day (a massively fun party filled with silliness, dancing, cocktails and yummy treats…not to mention our ace friends!)

Proud moment
Buttoning up my dear friend Claire’s wedding dress, stepping back and crying as I saw how stunning she looked (also proud, but nervous to have been in charge of veil duties!)

Project
My portraits of our boys (love those boys SO much!)

Purchase
The Indian silk with which I made my wedding dress (was going to say my Louboutins that I wore at the wedding, but they were the first thing I bought, way back in early 2013)

Place
Bali (tough one to beat, especially as it was our honeymoon! I loved the people, the culture, the heat and the food)

Photo
This one by our incredible wedding photographer Sharon Cooper (I love the story it tells, and I never thought my legs could look so good!)

Ems x

Christmas Crafting

Having a bit more time on my hands this year, I managed to get round to some Christmassy crafting for myself! Not nearly as much as I’d hoped still….hopefully I’ll be more organised still next year! I thought I’d share some of my projects though, now that all the gifts have been given and no surprises will be spoiled!…..

Hand stitched personalised Christmas tree ornament gift idea Hand stitched personalised Christmas tree ornament gift idea

First of all, I got my stitch on to make some little embroidered Christmas tree ornaments. It being the year Adam and I got married, I made a little tartan-backed heart which I embroidered with ‘Mr and Mrs McDowall’s First Christmas’….and finding myself rather pleased with it I made another for our friends Claire and Matthew who also got married this year (Claire is Christmas mad like me too!), as well as one for our new niece!

Hand painted salt and pepper shakers with Capybaras

We had some prints made up from the wedding, and the usual doggy calendars for our Mums featuring our own hounds as gifts too. I got a bit more hands on though making some hand painted salt and pepper pots for my Father in Law….annoyingly I forgot to photograph them, but they work on the same principal as the Capybara ones I sell on my Etsy shop, but featuring a gold finch and a green finch as they’re his favourites!

Quick and easy home baked Christmas dog treats; cheese, parsnip and swede stars Quick and easy home baked Christmas dog treats; cheese, parsnip and swede stars

The dogs are never left out in this house, and so I baked some yummy (yes, I tried them myself!) cheese, parsnip and swede star biccies for the six McDowall dogs who live in the UK (I will make it up to Bree in the US I hope one day!). They were super easy to make, so I’ll be making more again soon I’m sure.

Home made Advent calendar idea; a riddle and treasure hunt for each day

I have made some sort of alternative Advent calendar for Adam for a few years now, and this year has been his favourite by far! I wrote out a riddle for each day, giving a clue as to where he could find that day’s treat! He loved working them all out, and searching the house for chocolates and little gifts…his first day’s treat was a pair of tweezers as he’s always pinching mine!

Home made Christmas cards with pet portraits

I also tend to make our Christmas cards too, and this year I painted portraits of our beloved hounds which I turned into cards….I scanned in the paintings, then we had them printed before I attached each to a pretty pastel card with silver photo corners. I was really rather pleased with them actually….not least because I managed to get them out in time for them to be delivered at the start of December this year!

Very easy, home made Christmas crackers in candy stripe

I took to making our own crackers a few years ago, and like to put new and fun things inside each year, as well as changing the way they look. I have been crazy about candy stripes this year, so used that to wrap them (as well as our gifts), then wrote out little jokes to go inside as well as funny stick-on moustaches for everyone to wear in place of hats!

Candy stripe Christmas nail art

Festoon lights Christmas nail art Snowflake Christmas nail art Christmas pudding nail art

I’ve also had more chance to decorate my nails in a festive fashion this year too….not least because they’ve not been covered in glue all the time! I painted tiny festoon lights, little Christmas puddings, pretty snowflakes and of course some candy stripes too….now for a New Year’s Eve design!

Christmas tree at home

I didn’t get round to making a wreath this year as I often do, in part because there wasn’t really anywhere suitable to hang one. I’m rather pleased with our tree though, and the other bits and bobs we’ve decorated with….but mostly I’m looking forward to being in our ‘forever home’ next Christmas so that I can really go to town!

Ems x