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

Lately…..enjoying the festive season!

A very happy festive season to you all! I do hope you’ve had a great Christmas with lots of relaxing and food and whatnot!

We’ve been enjoying a pretty chilled week on holiday, seeing family, eating lots and slobbing around a fair bit too. It’s been a lovely respite after several weeks of busyness, which I thought I’d quickly catch up on now….

Hand painted Capybara Christmas card by Under a Glass Sky on Etsy

The run up to Christmas is always busy for me, like for lots of people. This year I was better prepared for it though, and managed to stay on top of my orders really well, leaving enough time to enjoy the season too!

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As well as all my online sales, I hosted a little stall at a Christmas craft fair at the Otley Courthouse…..it was a great excuse to break out my Christmas jumper early!

Edinburgh castle on a bright winter's day

At the end of November, Adam drove us up to visit friends in Edinburgh, where we spent a really fun weekend. It was my first ever trip to Scotland (can you believe it?!) so we did all the touristy sightseeing things!

Tourist spots of Edinburgh; Greyfriar's Bobby

Everywhere was getting super Christmassy, with a couple of big Christmas markets in town…it was a wonderful way to start feeling all festive!

Giant Christmas Nutcracker

The following weekend we met up with some friends for a lovely long dog walk at Bolton Abbey. There was even a little Christmas market there, and it was great to catch up with people and enjoy the gorgeous surroundings too.

Bolton Abbey

We also took a Christmassy trip to Harrogate, where a friend was hosting a stall at the big Country Living Christmas Fair. We also stopped in at the Christmas market in the Montpelier Quarter, although it was rather too busy for us to enjoy properly!

Harrogate Christmas Market

December began, of course, with advent calendars! Adam’s Mum always buys us the Cadbury’s ones, and I love having the chocolate with my morning coffee! I made for Adam a treasure hunt advent, whereby he had to solve a riddle each day to find each day’s treat. And for the first time we treated the hounds to a rather specical advent calendar each from Barney’s Biscuit Boxes, which were sold to raise funds for Pup Aid! They were filled with lots of yummy natural treats, which the boys just loved!

Advent calendars for all the family, including the dogs

The Christmas Fair at Leeds Donkey Sanctuary was a great excuse to go and visit, so we went with Adam’s parents, Brother, Sister in Law, and our little niece. We got to meet some of the donkeys who Adam’s Mum adopts, and we adopted some as Christmas gifts and one for ourselves too! There was a donkey ride to see Father Christmas for the children, lots of donkeys to fuss over, and a wonderful cake stall to boot!

Leeds Donkey Sanctuary

The scones from the fair were to die for, and it being the season of frivolity and all, we had some for breakfast the following morning!

Home made scones with tea

We finally got around to hanging our huge map in the living room, which along with the Christmas tree and other decorations made the place look a whole lot brighter!

Giant London map, posing dog

In exchange for help hanging the map, we cooked up a pork belly for friends, which was a good warm up to all the Christmas eating! We also took advantage of the holidays to do lots of baking and cooking, which I always enjoy when we get chance.

Pork belly roasted with maple and fennel

Otley holds a big Victorian Christmas Fayre every year, and so we went to see all that was going on. There were tombolas, crafty things to buy, school choirs on the stage, a Punch and Judy, and several beautiful fair organs which played wonderful Christmas music! We treated ourselves to a hog roast after Adam had tried his luck with most of the tombolas!

Antique Fair Organ

We did a little more exploring locally, looking for places that we might like to call home, and also took our first proper trip into Leeds since we moved! We met up with some local friends and had a wonderful supper at Little Tokyo, then were lucky enough to get the last four tickets to see The Wood Beneath The World….set underneath Leeds Town Hall, the installation-come-promenade experience was incredibly chilling, but also very exciting and inspiring.

The Wood Beneath The World, alternative Christmas experience at Leeds Town Hall crypt

Then on Christmas Eve we bought a house! We’d seen it the weekend prior, and viewed it a second time before making an offer….and some time in the new year we’ll be moving into our very own first home! We are extremely excited to own our own place and have lots of plans for when we get there!

Georgian, double fronted house in West Yorkshire

Christmas morning saw a lovely dog walk, gift unwrapping and a yummy breakfast of duck eggs. Then we went over to Adam’s parents’ place for a big Christmas lunch, with more gifts and festivities.

A hound and his Christmas present

Then in the evening we slobbed out at home….Adam got me lots of Wes Anderson films for Christmas and we started to make our way through those whilst I enjoyed  coffee and cognac (one of my favourites!).

 

Coffee, Delamain cognac and Wes Anderson films

We headed back to Adam’s parents for a big leftover lunch on boxing day, and today I made us all a cottage pie lunch. In between it’s been more lounging about, eating chocolates and running a few errands. We’ve started watching the extended version of the Lord of the Rings films, which will keep us busy, and we have more plans for the week ahead to look forward to.

I hope you’ve had a great Christmas too!

Ems x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something from the weekend….Foraging, gardening, making and treasure hunting

I had such a lovely weekend! The weather really does help of course, and all the sunshine hours make such a difference!

I spent a lot of the weekend gardening….the front garden has been transformed after many hours of hard work and is benefitting from having been totally dug over and filled with plants! I can’t wait to see it all bloom, although I guess I have to wait til Spring for that. Still, it looks better already and has tidied up the front of the house no end.

We did some great foraging too…..we picked loads of blackberries and elderberries from the local common, as well as some sweet pea pods and honeysuckle berries I’ll be planting for next year. We also raided the back garden, and came back indoors with stacks of apples, more blackberries and greengages too. There is a medlar tree that is also looking rather full, but I think we have to leave those a little longer before harvesting them.

We spent an absolute age rinsing the elderberries, plucking them off their stalks, rinsing them again and then bottling them….I hope it’s going to be worth it! We made one bottle of elderberry schnapps and one bottle of spiced elderberry liqueur….can’t wait to try them! I made jam from the greengages, and it was probably my most successful yet….it tastes yummy and is the perfect consistency so I’ll have to share some tips soon!

As is traditional, we also visited the antiques market on Friday and the car boot sale on Sunday….I picked up some great treasures to use at the wedding and the place was really buzzing in the fine weather. It was also the crafts and  farmers market on Saturday, and we dawdled around there awhile, spotting some great new stalls too.

Other than that, it was a weekend of domesticity, relaxing, cooking endless amounts of marrow, walking the dogs and watching more Buffy. Bliss!

Here are a few photos from the weekend…..

Ems x

Some Bank Holiday Baking: Foraged Fruit Crumble

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Few things give me much greater pleasure than foraging for sweet treats and then cooking them up on a lazy weekend! Earlier in the week we went to a nearby hot spot for soft fruits, and whilst the Victoria Plums and Greengages weren’t ready yet, we did get a great haul of blackberries and apples!

As far as I’m concerned, by far the best way to use up such things is in a crumble, so today I baked one up to round off the roast dinner we just yummed up! Here is how I make it my favourite way….

Ingredients

  • About 300g blackberries
  • About 600g cooking apples
  • Stevia or caster sugar to taste
  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g butter
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Extra spices and sugar to sprinkle on top

How to make it

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 190 C / 375 F / Gas Mark 5
  2. Core and peel your apples, and chop into cubes
  3. Chuck the apples into a pan and cover with boiling water
  4. Add a good couple of table spoons of Stevia or sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
  5. Simmer for about five minutes, or until the fruit starts to soften, then add the blackberries
  6. Simmer for a further minute and then drain the water from the fruit right away
  7. Have a little taste to decide if you need more sweetening, and add more Stevia or sugar as you like
  8. Rub together your flour and butter (I start this off in my Kitchen Aid for speed)
  9. Stir in the sugar and spices, and mix well
  10. Pour your fruit into a casserole dish and cover with the crumble mix
  11. Sprinkle over some extra sugar and spice, and pat with your finger tips gently to make the surface bumpy
  12. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes, and remove once the crumble is golden on top

I like mine with custard, but of course ice cream or creme fraiche is yummy too! If you prefer your fruit nice and firm, just skip the fruit stewing stage as it will have enough time to cook in the oven….I just like it nice and soft though underneath the crunchy crumble!

Have you managed to forage any goodies this summer? What are you making with them?!

Ems x

Made with love: Lemon Drizzle Cake

Pretty rose pattern, Fine Bone China Trio by Regency of England

Yummy lemon drizzle cake
(served on pretty rose patterned Fine Bone China Trio by Regency of England, for sale on my Etsy shop, £12)

When it came to planning  a surprise Birthday tea party for my Mother-in-Law to be earlier this month, I knew that there just had to be a lemon drizzle cake. Liz often makes an amazing lemon cake, and likes it to be super zingy and full of fresh lemon juice!

So, I set about making the perfect lemon drizzle cake for her…and the results were delicious! Everyone commented on how tasty the cake was, and the texture was pretty perfect. This cake is really moist, and is finished off with a lovely crunch topping. It’s really quick and easy to make, and freezes well too…. which is just as well, as this recipe makes one pretty big cake!

Pretty rose pattern, Fine Bone China Trio by Regency of England

Yummy lemon drizzle cake
(served on pretty rose patterned Fine Bone China Trio by Regency of England, for sale on my Etsy shop, £12)

Ingredients:

  • 200g margarine
  • 350g Organic Golden caster sugar
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 tbsp milk
  •  3 lemons
  • 150g granulated sugar

How to make it:

1. Grease and line a deep 9″ diameter round tin, and pre-heat your oven to 180C/gas 4.

2. Pop the margarine, caster sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs and milk into a large bowl and beat well until it’s all nicely blended.

3. Add the zest of all three lemons, plus the juice from one, and stir in.

4. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin, and bake in the middle of the oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown on top, and a skewer comes out of the cake clean.

5. Leave the cake to cool a little whilst you make the topping, by simply mixing the juice of one lemon with the granulated sugar.

6. Now carefully remove the still-warm cake from the tin, and prick little holes in the top with a cocktail stick or fork.

7. Pour over the juice from the third lemon, drizzling as much of the juice into the little holes as you can.

8. Finally, before the cake really cools, pour over the lemon and sugar mix, and allow that to harden into a crunchy topping.

We very much enjoyed a slice with a nice cup of tea! Hope you enjoy it too!

Ems x

Something from the weekend…. a rather special birthday and a pretty big surprise!

What a fun weekend we had!

Friday was Adam’s Mum’s 70th Birthday, for which we’d been planning a surprise party for weeks! I set about readying the house and baking for the celebrations on Friday afternoon, before heading over to see the birthday girl in the evening. We shared a bottle to toast, and gave her the gift we’d made….Adam had scanned and photo-shopped an old photo of him and his brothers, getting rid of the faded colours and imperfections to make a good-as-new photo! Liz loved it, as well as the other stacks of gifts she’d received from her friends!

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Rather successful Lemon Drizzle Cake!

On Saturday morning we were busy from early on, making salads and quiches and whatnot, and putting up balloons! We were only just about ready when the doorbell rang for the first guests….we’d asked everyone to arrive at 2pm so that Adam’s Dad could bring Liz round at half past and she wouldn’t spot anyone coming in! We are so used to our friends being late that it was quite the surprise to have everyone arrive bang on time!

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Adam brought back amazing breakfast pastries from his trip to Quotidian for the bread

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Balloons!!

Liz arrived right on time too with the dogs….they knew right away in fact that something was going on, but Liz was thoroughly shocked when I opened the living room door to reveal 20 of her friends! She’d thought she was coming round for a quiet afternoon tea with just Adam and I so there was quite a lot of swearing when she realised we’d all plotted together to surprise her! She was delighted though to see all her friends together, and I certainly loved having the house full of happy chatter!

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Liz, Adam and Me (and what was left of the spread by cake cutting time!)

We were exhausted by the time the last guests had left and we’d tidied up from the feast we’d prepared, so we skulked off to bed at a ridiculously early hour of 7pm to watch American Horror Story (we’re now on Season 2: Asylum) and eat left overs from a sort of bed-buffet tray!

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Newton got the post-party blues

Sunday started with the traditional and much-needed lie in, before we headed out to the market for the weekly car boot sale. I relished the fact that as I’ve sold quite a few bits from my new vintage shop on Etsy, I could allow myself to buy up lots of new treasure! We certainly left the market with a good haul, and rewarded ourselves with a brunch of coffee and pancakes at the super-quaint Halseys Deli and Tea Rooms.

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The car boot sale haul!

After that we made our way up to Adam’s parents cottage to help his Mum use the bread maker she’d received as a birthday gift from her friends. I’ve not used one for many years, and they seem to have developed and improved a lot, so I was very impressed with how easy it was to prepare a simple wholemeal loaf. We left it to bake whilst we took a walk around the nearby Priory grounds to see all the snowdrops in bloom. They’re so enchanting scattered about the woods, and it’s just a shame that they don’t photograph very well…I find it impossible to show how pretty they are and get the white balance right!

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Seriously yummy home-baked bread

Once back, we took out the now baked bread and were SO impressed with how it came out….it’s not at all like the bread maker bread I’ve tried before (which I always found a bit too solid) and is just deliciously light and fluffy! We tested some just with butter and loved it! We had an early supper, and another very early night….yumming up scones with jam and clotted cream in bed whilst watching more American Horror Story (it’s SO much better than the first season and we’re quite hooked!).

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Naughty supper in bed!

How was your weekend?

Ems x

Living for the weekend….dealing with the post Christmas blues

That sky is grey again. And it’s all cold out there (and not in a Christmassy-winter-wonderland way). Still, the weekend is already here, and so I’ve been thinking of ways to fill it with fun stuff to take my mind off the fact it’s no longer Christmas. (Yes, I *am* still talking about Christmas, sorry)…..

Planning for the year

January is always full of the dulls. Everyone is shattered after the festivities, low on funds, and trying to catch up and get back to normal. But I find that there’s nothing like having something to look forward to to cheer me up, so I’ve been enjoying making lots of plans. I’ve bought tickets, made bookings, and started organising fun adventures to keep me busy and excited for the months to come. Get your diaries out!

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DIY Projects

With all the Christmas decorations gone, I know I’m looking forward to sprucing up the house a bit and starting work on some little DIY projects I’ve been planning. We have a Welsh dresser to sand and paint, and a few little tables and plant stands that I want to make-over. It’s a cheap and fun way to spend time, and you get the reward of something pretty to brighten your home at the end of it!

Bring in the Spring!

I don’t know about you, but I’m aching for the new season already! I’m bored of the cold and grey, and I want to see the Spring flowers come up. I’ve instigated this ahead of schedule by buying some lovely stocks to brighten up and scent the house…they look great in the Moomin Papa hat vase that I got for Christmas!

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Baking and Cooking

I know that every other person is on some kind of diet or detox, but I firmly believe that in order not to go cold turkey, you need to slowly wind down from the festive gluttony. I’m still not used to *not* having a pudding after every meal (yes, including breakfast) and being surrounded by naughty treats. And so to ween myself off, and hopefully shed a few of the holiday pounds, I think it’s only sensible to get doing some good home cooking and baking. You’re more in control when you make it yourself, so you can start to think more healthy and reduce portions, whilst still technically treating yourself and avoiding going into complete withdrawal! I have had some success with new recipes, including making French Onion soup for the first time in years….yum!

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Check on those resolutions!

It’s not too late to revise them, so have another look at whatever list you may have made and think about how realistic it all is. If you’re getting on well, well done you! If not so much, there’s no shame in re-working your list….you’ll do better for it in the end! I have done OK so far…..I have started getting myself sorted by way of a spider diagram (LOVE THEM), as well as playing around with the new pop-up studio Adam gave me for Christmas to help with my photography!

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Go for a walk

I’d much rather kick off the new year with a nice country walk than a fad diet or detox. It’s far more fun and much easier to stick with too! The weather has been pretty gruesome all told, but the rain seems to be staying away rather more at the minute so why not take a nice long stroll this weekend? Extra points for finding a pub lunch along your way!

Whatever you get up to, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Happy adventuring,

Ems x

Something from the weekend…..bit of a lazy one really

Well I’ve been poorly now since last week, and am feeling pretty sorry for myself. So the weekend was a very quiet affair, and I didn’t get up to much at all….

On Saturday I had a long lie in, and then after a little shopping, pottered around the house. I keep thinking the house is ‘finished’ but then I spot another little project I want to do, or find I’d like to add something or change something around in a room. I expect this will go on for a good while yet!

In the afternoon, I decided to get at least a little productive, and so set up my sewing machine on the kitchen table and stitched together some pretty dog beds. Don’t get excited…we still don’t have any dogs, but Adam’s Mum’s dogs Newton and Piper visit often and I wanted to make them comfortable when they are here! They even have a special little tin of biscuits for their visits too!

On Sunday, we made the short trip to the market and the weekly car boot sale there. I’m pretty addicted to the market now, and feel like I’m missing out if I don’t go on each day it’s open! We picked up a few more treasures for the house, including some thrifty finds that I will be adding to my new Etsy vintage shop soon.

We happened to be out at 11am so we made our way to the War Memorial in front of the church to take part in the Remembrance Sunday silence. It was lovely to see such a big crowd there and hear the Last Post.

Once home, we set to some baking. I’m loving spending most of the time in the kitchen….it really feels like the heart of the house and I’m so glad that we have room for a table and chairs in there now. Adam was in charge of the baking on this occasion, with me as his willing commis. We made a banana and chocolate loaf which is just divine, and we will definitely make again!

After that, we decided we should make the most of the glorious day and so took a stroll in the countryside. We visited the pigs at the Charlton Pig Table which is very nearby, and met lots of lovely dogs with their walkers, including ‘Baloo’ who is the most gorgeous Nepalese Mastif. He is an absolute giant and has the thickest, cuddliest fur. We both fell in love with him and hope to see him again soon!

The evening was spent, as tradition dictates, slobbing on the sofa and watching some more X Files. We are well into the second season now and I’m totally hooked!

Not too bad really for a poorly weekend….I’m glad I got out a little and didn’t just fester indoors feeling sorry for myself!

Hope you had a lovely weekend,

Ems x

Something from the weekend….and a catch up of the last few weeks!

Hello! Did you miss me?! I’ve certainly missed blogging these last few weeks!

As you may know, a few weeks ago I moved out of London and up to Hitchin in Hertfordshire. It’s been a real adventure, and dead busy…..moving your home and two small businesses is no mean feat I have found, and with a stall to prepare for and some freelance work, it’s been pretty chaotic! Add all the issues we had with the new house, and really I’ve had no time to sit down at my computer!

But I’m aching to get back to it, and have lots of posts lined up to share with you. In the mean time though, I thought I’d catch you up (as requested!) with what’s been going on since I left The Big Smoke…..

On Monday 17th September, I finished packing up our things and hopped in a moving van to leave London. I’d lived there for 12 years, and other than my home town of Stoke on Trent, it was the only place I’ve ever lived. I had the most amazing time there, but the countryside was calling, and so here I now am in Hitchin, which is in fact the boyf’s home town.

The move went pretty well actually, despite the huge amount of ‘stuff’ I own. We had two fabulous moving men, who made easy work of carrying all of our stuff into our new house, and even smiled whilst they did it. I’d been fairly organised, and so most of the boxes ended up in the right rooms, but we opted to spend the first couple of nights at Adam’s parents’ house around the corner, mainly because of the yummy hot meals on offer and because Adam would need to work from there for a few days and starts pretty early!

I spent most of the first week at the house cleaning and organising….unfortunately it was nowhere near ‘liveable’ as it had been empty for a little while and the previous tenants were clearly not so house proud! But with the help of plenty of Flash, Cif, lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda, I got the place pretty clean ready for us to move in properly, and so by the third evening we were excited to spend our first night at the house!

We soon found out that we were to share the place with a few house mates…..whilst reading in bed on the first night, something caught the corner of my eye, and in fact I thought it was a mouse! It was actually this rather large spider, whom Adam promptly caught under a glass and deposited outside! We’ve found a few others since (all massive), and the garden is full of the stunning stripey spiders who weave incredible webs over everything.

Needing to get a break from the house sorting, and work in Adam’s case, we’ve taken lots of lovely walks through the town and in the nearby countryside. Just a few minutes walk away are the amazing Priory grounds, where you find a photo opportunity every other step. I’m loving the exercise and fresh air, as well as meeting dog walkers and such (I am getting even more desperate to get one or two of our own as a result!).

By the second week, it was time to start getting back to some work for me, and I cleared just enough space within the boxes in my new studio to get some things done. I’d been commissioned to work on a fashion installation with the UKFT just before leaving London, and so in the run up to the set up last Friday I spent hours at my sewing machine making props and readying my styling kit. On the Thursday evening I thought I’d better give my finger nails some TLC after all the cleaning and working, so they got a nice coat of polish ready for my trip into London the next day.

The installation is at the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation in Westminster, but I took the train to Kings Cross (only half an hour!) and walked the short way to Bloomsbury to the UKFT offices. There, we loaded the van with all the contributions from their members (with me peeking in each box in excitement to see all the treasure!), and then headed to Westminster to set everything up. I had a grand day putting it all together (and will post a bit more about it all soon, but in the mean time there are some sneak peek photos below!), and by 5pm I was back on my way home, and caught the fast train to make it in record time!

The following day we were up bright and early to scoot round the corner to the Riverside Craft and Farmers Market. I’d booked my first ever non-London stall there, and was super excited (and a little nervous) to see how my stuff would be received by the locals! It was also my first outdoor stall, although I was provided with a nice gazebo which gave me stacks of space and allowed me to put all my stock out for the first time. I’d been busily making some new brooches and pendants with a local theme, as so many of my things have a London vibe and I wanted to fit in right away!

It was a grand day of selling, chatting, networking and drinking lots of tea from a flask. The stall is only a few minutes from home, which meant Adam could nip back to bring me blankets and hot water bottles! We had lots of visits too, from friends and friends of friends, and we were all packed up and home by half four too!

I’ve booked onto the next few markets, which are in Hitchin on the last Saturday of the month…..I’ll also be at the Hertford Corn Exchange on the 20th October, and in the market square in Hitchin on the 9th December for the Christmas Gala!

On the Sunday, we were lucky enough to be able to get onto one of the occasional local history walks. Hitchin’s history dates back to the 7th Century, and the town is full of remarkable stories and evidence of its past. The house we moved into is Victorian, and still has its servants bell pulls and cold room, but it is actually relatively young for Hitchin, as there are Georgian and even Elizabethan properties still standing here. The walk showed us some of the highlights, and opened our eyes to some of the treasures in Hitchin’s architecture. I can’t wait to learn more….and to go on the local bat and ghost walks soon!

Hitchin also boasts some very old independent businesses, so I have been discovering places like the wonderful Brookers (a proper old fashioned hardware shop), and Hawkins (a department store who actually employ a proper town crier!) as well as buying up lots from the flea markets, car boot sales, antiques market and charity shops. Whilst I’d love to keep all my treasures, lots of them will actually be polished up and listed on my Etsy shop, so look out for an update on that!

As part of our historical eduction, we’ve been exploring some of our local pubs, purely for research you understand. The Coopers Arms is notable for its incredible Tudor fireplace, as well as a room upstairs recently uncovered by the landlord, which had been hidden by a wardrobe for over 100 years! Our favourite so far though, also happens to be our nearest….. The Half Moon has won awards from CAMRA and serves amazing guest ales, local ciders and yummy food. They also have a pub dog, and lots of countryside walkers like to pop in, with lots of them bringing their dogs!

I was rather pleased that our arrival coincided with sloe picking time. We went out last week to find some locally and came back with almost two kilos, which are now in the freezer waiting to go into gin! I also want to go and harvest the last few brambles, elder berries and rosehips to make jams, wines and schnapps with!

Part of the joy of moving to Adam’s home town, is that we are so close to his parents’ dogs. Piper and Newton soon learned the way to our new house, and understood that we were going to see them more often…..and of course where the biscuit tin we got for them is kept! Newton has been loving playing in our garden with various tennis balls, footballs and shuttlecocks that have ended up there (as well as exploring the wilder parts!)….whilst Piper has been my little un-packing helper, getting excited with each box opened and every treasure unwrapped!

In fact, they seem quite at home here now on their visits, and we’ve had to keep an eye on Piper who wants so very much to spend all day on our lovely new sofas! We’ve had to barricade the living room door when she’s been here, although that didn’t stop her from finding the only made up bed to lie on last week! Having been missing for a few minutes, I searched the house for her, only to find she’d made her way to our bedroom (there are four, so I’m not sure if she inspected them all for a suitable bed!) and was snuggled up on my best sheets. You’ve got to admire her intelligence and determination though.

One thing I have managed to make time for is lots of cooking and baking. We’ve had some really yummy meals over the last few weeks, and had Adam’s parents over as our first guests to yum up a cottage pie, as well as Hannah over for a late lunch of goats cheese and red onion tarts. I’ve been going to the market for lovely fresh fruit and veg, and making up some delicious soups for hearty warm lunches. Adam had been fancying a kedgeree since I had one at the Wolsey for my birthday breakfast, so I made one for him last week with great success….I’ll share the recipe soon hopefully.

To add to the cooking excitement, I’ve been able to forage a few things from our garden as well as the sloes from a nearby obliging field. We have a wonderful and huge bay tree in the garden, which has provided us with fresh leaves for pie, soups, the kedgeree and my Christmas mince meat. We also have elder berries out there (can’t wait til next year for the flowers so we can make Champagne!), as well as brambles and medlars which I will make into jam.

In fact, we have enough room too that I can start growing some of our own veg soon, and Adam’s mum has been busy working the garden to smarten and pretty it up. I’ve spent a little while out there too, mainly digging up some of the wild cyclamen from around the trees to save it from ivy. I love their pretty little pink blades of petals, and was overjoyed to find so many growing right down our wooded garden….. I’ve replanted some in the flower beds (as well as lots of bulbs for spring), some in pots and some around the other trees.

This Friday was a frenzy of baking and readying for Christmas, as I made three Christmas Cakes, the Christmas Mince Meat and for the first time, a Christmas Pudding! The house still smells all Christmassy now, and so I’m very much in the mood already! I’m most excited that we now have space for a proper sized Christmas tree again and can’t wait to go to the market to pick one!

Despite being so excited to be in our new home out of London, we’ve been delighted to find how quick and easy it is to pop into London. The trains take as little as 20 minutes from Kings Cross, and we made it to a recent wedding in Richmond in less time than some people who live in London!

We were most impressed with our journey to the Union Chapel in Islington last night though, which took us under an hour from door to door. We’ve been there a couple of times before, last Christmas to see the Puppini Sisters with friends Claire and Matthew, and first to see Andy McKee with friends Matthew and Siobhan. We enjoyed the latter so much that we bought tickets to see the talented Mr McKee again last night, and had a most amazing time seeing him, the legendary Preston Reed and the phenomenal Jon Gomm.

As we start to get the place more tidy and presentable, I’m getting excited to welcome our friends here. We’ve set a date for our house warming party, which will also be a bit of a festive celebration. I’ve not been able to host my traditional Christmas party for a couple of years, because I’ve been so busy with December parties at work. So I am incredibly keen to get planning for Christmas and visits and just enjoying a gorgeous new home!

And that’s the scoop! As I mentioned, I’ve got lots of posts lined up to tell you more about our new home, and what is in fact a very new lifestyle for me! Do keep me up to date with the London goings on though….I do miss it still!

Ems xxx

Something from the weekend….. My first stall at Old Spitalfields, gin and baking

So it was a pretty exhausting weekend all in all, not least because of the heat. It was lovely to see the sun come out for some proper summery weather finally, but it was a little too hot to do anything much (I need to be next to a pool with a Pina Colada in hand when it gets higher than 28 degrees). Still, it was an enjoyable weekend all the same…..

After an early night on Friday to prepare, we were up bright and early on Saturday morning and made our way down the road to Old Spitalfields. It was to be my first stall at my favourite market, as part of the Designers Makers market that takes place there every month.

I was super excited, and set up my little stall with a few new additions. We were ready in good time for a change (despite getting there as early as possible, I’ve always struggled to get everything out in time) so I must be getting better at it! I was quite pleased with how everything looked, although I couldn’t take any shots as I’d foolishly left my phone at home!

I was delighted to have some visitors a little into the day….Matthew and Siobhan came along for a chat and brought us fresh lemonade, and Richard and Tara delivered yummy ice cream whilst having a browse. Adam brought us some amazing cheese burgers from the take away window at The Luxe (which my stall was very close to), and I got chance for a wander around the other stalls myself even.

Unfortunately it wasn’t nearly as busy as usual at the market, because of the heat and school holidays perhaps. So I didn’t do nearly as well as I’d hoped, and only just broke even really. It was still a fun day though, and hopefully I’ll make more money when I do the next one on 15th September!

We packed up in record time too….closing up at 5pm and then home by 5:40! Then after a nice refreshing shower we walked back to Poppies Fish and Chips for some supper with the lovely Tara. I enjoyed my roast chicken and chips as usual, especially with lashings of gravy on the chips and mushy peas too (proper Northern lass that I am). Then after that we made our way homeward but stopped off at our favourite local, The Oliver Conquest. They serve over fifty different gins, and we are making our way through them all! We tried some very lovely new ones…. Monkey 47, Bathtub, Larios and Adnam’s Sloe Gin. We love it there so much that we arranged to have our leaving London drinks there next month, just before we move.
Sunday was a super lazy day….we were shattered after the long day before and with it being so hot we had a nice long lie in before spending most of the day slobbing around the flat. We had a rather naughty breakfast AND lunch of cupcakes we’d bought from the market on Saturday. We picked up four delicious cupcakes from Flavour Town Bakery‘s stall….. The Salted Caramel, the Snickers, the Lemon and the Red Velvet. All were amazing, especially the Salted Caramel which was just perfect to my mind.

We didn’t get much more virtuous through the day, as I baked us a banana and red currant loaf with some over-ripe bananas I needed to use up, and the red currants that came in our Abel and Cole box. I was really rather pleased with my recipe, and we both enjoyed a slice with some ice tea I made too. And for supper, we had a rather naughty cauliflower and macaroni cheese I knocked up. Yum!

 

We did a little online shopping for new furniture for the new house, watched a couple of DVDs, and generally pottered about and flollopped on the sofa….. a perfect Sunday really!

Hope you enjoyed the heat and the sun, and had a wonderful weekend whatever you did!

Ems x