Love a bit of charidee

The charity shops in Didsbury are brilliant. They’re full of books, paintings, old granny tat and general things that I shouldn’t love or want, but I do. I’m such a magpie. I went on a clueless stroll around the Sue Ryder and Cancer Research shops yesterday and ended up coming home with these treasures:

Picture 1

Pot + book

Now I call that painting a treasure – someone else called it “hideously amazing”. Make of that what you will. The book I only picked up because I liked the look of it. I’m that shallow.

Book

I wouldn’t just buy a book if I didn’t like the sound of it though, so what I normally do with books is I read the first page to see if I like the author’s language and then decide. This one mentioned crack dealers and death on the first page, so I was sold. The plant pot was so gloriously 70s that I couldn’t leave it behind, and it certainly breaks up the masses of plain white Ikea ones dotted around the flat.

As I always do with charity shop finds, I started off by giving the frame a thorough clean. And it’s a good thing I did:

Picture 4

When I was done it looked like Barry had had a particularly messy accident.

Picture 5

I like to think that someone had this in their smoking parlour and enjoyed gazing at the palm trees while enjoying a leisurely hit of tobacco.

Once it was clean, it went up in its intended place above the radiator.

Picture 6

I know it looks a bit empty for now, but I’m planning on getting some small mirrors and clustering them between the painting and the lamp, to reflect light into the “living room” part of the flat.

Speaking of lamp, something that was completely unintentional was how the frame matches the lamp base perfectly! See?

Comparison

Very pleased. I’ve not found a home for the plant pot or book yet but I will try out a few different places and let you know where they end up.

Happy Sunday!

Things are looking up!

After over a month in the flat, I’ve finally got someone to come round and help me put shelves up! And on top of that, it’s father and son team (boyfriend and his dad):

image

I’m so excited to be finally getting in order! I’ll post more pictures soon of all the beautiful DIY-ing done today!

New flat!

Just a quick one to give an update on the move – I’m in! Notice how I didn’t say ‘we’re in’ – sadly Barry is still at his country retreat (i.e. my boyfriend’s house) while some work is being done in the flat. He’s been sorely missed this week…but on the other hand I’ve slept quite well when I’ve not been woken up every half an hour by someone wanting me to lift the duvet up so he can crawl in…

Anyway. On the subject of the flat – here are a couple of sneak pictures. Compared to the last one, it really is huge. Love it.

image

image

I’ll of course post more as I get everything in order!

A new home/start

I’ve found a new home for me and Barry. I’m so, so, so relieved and so, so, so excited about our new home. It’s bigger and better than my current place, so maybe things do happen for a reason.

And it’ll give me a whole new blank canvas for home decor/DIY projects! I hope we’ll be as happy there as we have been here.

2013-03-06 21.51.16

On the move

I found out yesterday that I have to leave my flat. I’ve lived here for two and a half years and have loved it for every minute of that. When the house I live in was sold six months ago, I was a bit nervous that something like this would happen, but for each month that passed I stopped worrying. So this came as quite a shock. I wouldn’t move out if it was my choice.

But I’m trying to think of the positives. I’ve had a good innings here, but I have started getting a bit frustrated with the size of it. It’s VERY small. Everyone who has ever come to visit has told me that it’s really cosy, and I’ve tried to make it so, but it is small.

Kitchen

Room1

Room2

To make my point, I have had to put seven shelves up in the kitchen to house the stuff that won’t fit in my two single cupboards. Seven shelves. And two cupboards. Not even double-doored cupboards. One houses all my crockery and one houses all my dry goods. Oh, and right next to the TV is the front door. You see? Tiny.

So I’m trying to think of the possibilities that this can present, instead of focusing on the negativity. Because there’s nothing I can do about this – I have to move. So I might as well try and think of the positive aspects of this, such as more kitchen space (hopefully), a carpet that doesn’t hold on to every single hair that Barry moults, and maybe, just maybe, even a separate bedroom.

Here’s hoping x

Pancake day!

This is my first Shrove Tuesday since I started low-carbing, so I thought I’d try this almond-based pancake recipe I found on a really helpful website. If anyone is new to low-carb, it’s a great place to start (it’s an American site though, so some of the recommendations aren’t really applicable if you live in the UK like me).

The batter was very thick, so after frying the first pancake I added more water, along with some pure vanilla extract to boost the flavour a bit.

There’s no point going to the trouble of making low-carb pancakes if I was going to top it with sugary jam, so last week I ordered some “raw” chocolate and almond spread. This along with berries and mega-rich mascarpone left me very satisfied after only two pancakes! Boyfriend opted to have his with the traditional lemon and sugar, which didn’t really work that well to be honest… I think the batter is more suitable for making waffles, since the ground almonds makes it quite crispy – this also makes it near enough impossible to roll, so waffles would work well I reckon.

Belated happy christmas!

Hope everyone had a cracking crimbo. I spent mine in the deepest, darkest recesses of Gloucestershire, i.e. the quiet parish of Maisemore. Normally I would go back to Sweden for a family Christmas, but this year I decided to be an adult and spend it away from my parents. At the grand old age of 32, I thought it was about time…

The journey down was very exciting. This exciting, in fact:

On the road

This could have something to do with the sugar-laden picnic I had prepared, including some pretty gooey-tastic chocolate treats. Hubba.

That sort of set the tone for the rest of Christmas and indeed, this blog post. It was aaaall about the fodder. I had prepared by baking a pretty damn mean almond cake, courtesy of Nigella Lawson, but sadly forgot to take a picture of it before it was devoured… Make it. Go on, do it – the combination of a full packet of butter and half a block of marzipan can only equal a happy tummy. Unless you eat the whole thing. Not that I would know. Anyway.

Since Christmas Eve is the day we celebrate in Sweden, I got to milk Christmas for three whole days, unlike the Brits who just get Christmas Day and Boxing Day. It started with a rather lovely breakfast of poached eggs and bacon on toasted muffin, with a glass of prosecco.

Xmas breakfast

Yes, it was only 11AM but it’s only once a year… I had also volunteered to cook a traditional Swedish Christmas dinner for Christmas Eve – this also conveniently got me out of doing anything on Christmas Day! The traditional thing to eat at a Swedish Christmas table is a baked ham, so I went for this one by British TV chef Phil Vickery. I’ve made it before and it takes a while but is always mega-tasty. I’m making another one for New Year’s Eve, by request. I also made Swedish Hasselback potatoes, along with Delia’s braised red cabbage and a sprout gratin. I’ve never been a fan of sprouts but when you cover them in creme fraiche, bacon and cheese, anything becomes tasty.

Here’s the Christmas table and dishes in all their honour:

Xmas table

Spread

Considering this was the first time I had ever cooked a Christmas dinner, I was pretty proud of myself. Now I know (about a fifth of) what my mum goes through every year, and why she was glad to get out of it this year! But it looked ever so purdy:

Full plate

By the way, I had about two of these bad boys. There’s no stopping me at Christmas.

But then! Oh. Then these little boys showed up:

Puppies

Two little puppies! So utterly cute! The blonde one is Alex and the brown one is Oscar. They were incredibly playful and cuddly and settled in surprisingly fast. Within five minutes they were climbing all over their “brother”:

Jono + puppies

They also quickly adopted a pair of slippers as their own and were met with not much resistance from the man of the house. I mean, would you?

Puppies playing

The rest of Christmas was mostly spent playing with the boys, eating, drinking and sleeping. We did venture outside on Christmas Day but were stopped at the end of the road by seasonal flooding.

Flooding

So we did the sensible thing – went to the pub.

Season’s greetings all!

x

Day out with the bean

I’ve not written a blog post for a long time now. I have been trying to look after myself more and being kind to myself, and unfortunately the blog was beginning to feel like another thing on my ‘must do’-list – it became something I felt like I had to do, rather than wanted to do. But since I’ve been looking after myself more, I started feeling like I wanted to get back to it. And after spending a lovely day doing something that definitely fit into the ‘being kind to myself’ category, I decided it would be fitting for it to be my first “comeback” post.

I spent today doing something I’ve never done before – paying to go crafting. My friend Haley suggested going to a placCrafteliciouse in Chorlton called Craftelicious, which is a lovely little cafe that offers crafting of various kinds, tea, cakes and crepes (sadly I didn’t have any this time, but I will definitely go for the Nutella crepes next time I go – hubba hubba). And since this meant a reason to see my lovely little godson, I was more than eager to go along.

There were loads of different things to choose to do – painting lanterns, Christmas baubles, decoupaging, and loads of different animals to choose from. Well, that got me right going – if there’s one thing I like, it’s an animal-shaped ornament. And since I’d never tried decoupaging before, I thought I would give it a go. Coming up to Christmas it seemed apt to decorate a reindeer as well!

To start with, it’s just a cardboard-type figure, ready to paste in whatever colour you want from a selection of coloured and patterned papers:

Reindeer + decoupage papers

I decided to go for Christmassy colours of red and green.

My choices

Then I was instructed to tear it up into thumbnail-sized pieces, ready to start applying to the naked reindeer.

Ready to apply

Decoupaging is basically brushing a special type of glue to the base, applying these tiny bits of paper, then brushing more glue on top. It sets quite quickly, but you can apply more paper on top as you want, to create whatever pattern you fancy.

First patches + getting on

It was fun, but by the time I got to his antlers I realised how much concentration it actually took!

Decoupaging

While I was busy sticking my brush into the reindeer’s various crevices, Haley was making this cute bauble with Sean’s hand print on it. She made one last year for his first Christmas and is planning on making one every year – such a nice idea.

Bauble

Sean wasn’t really too enthusiastic about any of the crafting (probably a tad too young at 18 months) but he was busy looking generally cute and trying to eat all the paint and brushes.

Sean crafting

Finally my little camp Christmas reindeer was dressed!

Finished!

I’ve not worked out where he’s going to go yet, but I’ll try him out in various places. And I reckon with this new addition, I must be up to at least 40 animal-based ornaments around my flat…problem, me? Possibly.