Thursday, 17 December 2009

Secret Santa Swap!




Today Mr Plum went down to the local depot and collected my parcel from Lisa (thank you so much Lisa ... you didn't include the address of your blog, otherwise I would have thanked you personally!).

There is nothing better than brown paper parcels tied up with string .....


Look at these lovely goodies!!!

A lovely cake stand (perfect for showing off my cupcakes!), some yummy chocolate sprinkles to decorate my cupcakes, a kitty photo holder, cosy slippers, a make your own Christmas decoration kit, some satin cats for crafty things and some lovely notelets ....


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

I'm definitely a Pampered Chef ...

My parents came to visit at the weekend and brought me an early Christmas present (or three) which my Mum had got from a Pampered Chef party...

These fabby cookies were made using the Cookie Press ... it was a bit fiddly to begin with, but once I got going - there was no stopping me!!!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Handmade Christmas GIfts ...

I didn't think that I would be able to post about this until after Christmas ... but, on Saturday night we exchanged Christmas gifts with my family ... and my brother's girlfriend opened up her pressies while we were there. When she opened up my gift she immediately put it on ... and loved it! The funny thing was ... she didn't realised that I had knitted it myself!! I am really pleased at how it turned out ... and it looked absolutely fabulous on her! This was my first full size piece of knitting .... am going to have a go at a cardigan for myself next. You can find a link to this pattern (and a whole host of lovely vintage inspired knits) here

Monday, 14 December 2009

Christmas Pudding

Mr Plum treated me to a copy of Delia's "Happy Christmas" ... so this weekend I made a Christmas pudding. I have never made a pudding before, and to be honest am not a huge fan of Christmas pud as I find it so rich...but felt that I needed to add one to my repertoire!!

This weekend my parents came to visit for our traditional Christmas night out (we are spending Christmas with my inlaws this year) so saw my parents to exchange gifts and go out for a lovely dinner and drinks in London town! I also was given some fab baking goodies by my mum and dad (I will be blogging about those soon!). My Dad gave me one of his Christmas Puds to take up to The Lakes for Christmas .... so I will probably be saving my pud until next year!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

How to make truffles which are better than Kirstie Allsop's!

A couple of days ago I posted about my truffles ... I then watched Kirstie Allsop making truffles and am proud to say that mine were so much better than hers!! Ha Ha ....

Anyway, I have been making truffles for the past couple of years ... and although I find it quite fiddly - it is getting easier. Trouble is - I eat too many of them!!

Here is my Dad's Truffle Recipe .... enjoy! The amounts are huge (chef quantities!) so you will need to scale down!

1 kg couverture
(chocolate ... in the past I have used good quality choc (Green & Blacks, Sainsburys own, proper Belgian couveture)
200g unsalted butter
1 pint double cream (350ml if using white choc)
50ml liqueur

Melt the couveture and butter over a bowl of hot water

Bring the cream to the boil and whisk onto the couveture and butter mixture

Add the liqueur and pour into a container to set. I put it in the freezer until I am ready to use.

Using a melon scooper, scoop out balls of chocolate, cover in melted chocolate (make sure that it is body temperature and not too hot) or roll in cocoa powder. The chocs will keep for a couple of weeks (in theory!!) if kept in the fridge.


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Truffles!

I have made truffles for the past couple of Christmases ... they always make nice little pressies, I think. This year I have made white chocolate and chambourd and milk chocolate and amaretto. Delicious!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Snowmen!

When I was younger (and even now!) one of my favourite Christmas cartoons was Raymond Briggs' "The Snowman". I love it ... even if it does have a sad ending (and just thinking about it now brings a tear to my eye....)

So this evening, when I decided to ice my Christmas cakes, I decided to make ....

Snowmen!!!

A little bit rough 'n' ready ....

But rather fab looking I think ... and I hope that the people who will be getting them as little pressies will like them too!

The cakes were made using Delia's wonderful classic Christmas cake recipe (fed with plenty of home made sloe gin) and divided between six tin cans and cooked for about 3.5-4 hours! Mmmmm I love Christmas!!

Last year's Christmas Cake can been viewed here

How are your Christmas preparations going??

Monday, 30 November 2009

Christmas Bunting

A couple of days ago I spotted some lovely Christmas bunting ... well, here is my lovely (and cheaper!) version!

In the end, I didn't use the lovely ribbons I got from Paper and String as I found this pretty green and red gingham ribbon (from a Betty's hamper we received for Christmas last year!). I think it looks fab.

Mr Plum is wondering who Noel is?!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

The Levellers, Pies, Beer, a Bargain in B&Q, Ikea and New Moon!



It was a busy day in the Plum household yesterday! Eventhough we had had a late night on Friday after seeing The Levellers (fab, as always!) in Shepherd's Bush ... we got up bright and early and headed to Borough Market (Mr Plum likes a lie in ... but was successfully bribed with a bacon roll and mug of tea at Marias Market Cafe!). It was very important that we got to Borough Market yesterday as I needed to get my Christmas Dinner!! We are spending Christmas with the inlaws who have rented a cottage in the Lake District ... and as they are a family of meat-eaters (and not really foodies like my family) it is easier for me to take something vegetarian up there. This year I will be tucking into a "Christingle" pie on Christmas Day and have also got a "Heidi" pie which I think will be very tasty cold for the traditional buffet tea! If you are vegetarian and looking for something tasty for your Christmas dinner - I would heartily recommend Pie Minister Pies.

Borough Market was only the first stop of the day! After a lovely walk along the Southbank and via the lovely German Market which is based there for the whole of December, we hopped on the train at Waterloo to Chiswick!

What's at Chiswick? Mr Plum's "Shop of Dreams" is based at Chiswick, yes, yesterday we paid a visit to the Fullers Brewery Shop and came out laden with Wintery Brews to get us through the festive season! We stopped off at the local Fullers Pub for a lovely lunch and a pint of Winter Ale ... which was unfortunately quite strong and we both slept on the train back to Plum Cottage!

But the day didn't end there ...

After dropping off the beer at home, we went back out to pick up some new lights for our living room (which we have given a make over ... post on that to follow!)

I found A Bargain.

Guess how much? Go on ... give it a try ...

Okay - well, their RRP was £45 each ... and we got them for .... £5 each!! BARGAIN!

After a quick trip to Ikea we went to see New Moon. Poor Mr Plum sat through a film full of teenage girls oohing and ahhing at every bare chested Werewolf (!). I enjoyed it, I don't think that it was as good as Twilight though. Looking forward to Eclipse coming out next year!


Friday, 27 November 2009

Exciting things arriving in the post ...

Following on from my "Christmas Inspiration" post earlier in the week ... my parcel of goodies arrived from Paper And String!

Ribbons and buttons to make my Christmas bunting - and now that I have finished my knitting (the Christmas present I have been going on about, but can't tell you any more details in case the person I am knitting it for is reading!) I can concentrate on making a few Christmas decs!

I couldn't resist the cute felt cup cake!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Slippers!

Treated myself to these gorgeous slippers today! (Well, I was egged on by Mr Plum!)

Perfect for Winter evenings .... I couldn't resist them!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Christmas Inspiration

While flicking through a Bombay Duck catalogue this evening I spotted this fabulous Christmas bunting ... isn't it lovely?

I have to say that I fell in love with it ... so have had a look through my fabric stash, popped to the fab Paper and String to order some lovely buttons and ribbon, got out my copy of CK's Make so that I can trace her letters onto pieces of pretty coloured felt .... all I need now is a pair of pinking shears .... bunting-tastic!

I've got the day off tomorrow ... and I am very excited about it! What will I be doing on my day off? Knitting! I can't wait!


Monday, 23 November 2009

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Afternoon Tea!

Oh what a lovely day!! Today was the annual Winter afternoon tea ... where me and my three friends from work (well, only two friends this time) take an afternoon off and head to one of the lovely London West End hotels for tea.

I love having afternoon tea ... and will find an excuse to go whenever I can! Some people are happy spending £50 every weekend down the pub on cheap gin - I'm happier spending my weekends at home with Mr Plum and the Kittens, and then treating myself to a posh afternoon tea (two or three times a year!)

This was the first time I have had tea at The Dorchester ... and it was lovely! My favourite part was the "pre dessert" - blackcurrant coulis with whipped cream - delicious! mmmmmm

After that we popped in to see my brother who works nearby, and had a quick drink with him ... and then headed home, ready to face a Thursday back in the office.

Mr Plum is taking me to my all time favourite afternoon tea venue, Claridge's, before Christmas ... I'm looking forward to that!!

Weight Loss Wednesday and Afternoon Tea!

Another 1lb off this week - things are definitely going The Right Way!

Am off to The Dorchester with two of my friends this afternoon for tea ... will report back later with details of all the lovely scones and cakes!

Have lovely Wednesdays everyone!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Country Living Christmas Fair


Today I went to the Country Living Christmas Fair! I was very excited after reading other people's blogs!


Had a bit of a nightmare getting there, which was frustrating as I only live in South London - it shouldn't be that hard to get up to Islington! So, rather annoyingly ... we only managed to get to the Fair for 1245 (!) and as the fair was due to close at 1500 ... I was not very happy!


Anyway ... we had a lovely time wandering around the lovely stalls. I picked up a couple of things for Christmas pressies ... which I would love to show you ... but can't in case those who they are intended for are reading! I picked up a couple of things for me ... well, it would have been rude not too!

Here are my bits of fabric I picked up for £1 each! Yes, a bargain ... I agree! Not sure what I am going to do with them .... I just fell in love with the pretty berry fabric and the green gingham ... maybe I will use this to make myself a knitting roll to keep my needles in order?

Do you like the storage box I picked up to house my yarn? This was reduced from £25 to £15 (absolutely right ... A Bargain) ... SOLD! You can find more of their fab designs at www.shrutidesigns.co.uk

The only problem is that this box ain't kitten proof ... oops, should have thought about that at the time. I will just have to find somewhere high to hide it!

I'm looking forward to the Spring Country Living Fair already!!

Wandering back down towards Highbury tube station I popped into Yarn Heaven, also known as Loop and had a look at the lovely yarns on offer. I restrained myself as have plenty of yarn and projects in the pipeline to keep me going for a while!

I also planned to pop into the newly opened shop at The Make Lounge but unfortunately it was closed.

I picked up the latest issue of Let's Knit at Victoria station so all in all a lovely day!

I hope you all had great weekends and survived yesterday's storm (for those of you in the south ... we had the most amazing thunder storm yesterday morning!)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Weight Loss Wednesday!

It's that time again! Last week I didn't lose anything, but didn't put anything on - so that's okay.

This week I have lost 1lb! I know it's not a huge loss - but everything is going the right way! Two more lbs off and I will be at my "Venice Weight" from the summer :)

I have been watching what I eat, but did over-indulge on goodies at the weekend! I have only swum once this week (but will be going again tomorrow!) and I really must start tracking what I eat properly.

Hope your Weight Loss Wednesday has been successful! I'm off for some porridge.


I think that I am addicted to buying yarn!!





Oooh!! Look what arrived on Saturday morning! YES! A big parcel of lovely lovely Rowan yarn which I had ordered from the fab Black Sheep Wool Company which is currently selling Rowan yarn for £1.99 a ball - rather than the normal £4.50 rrp. What a bargain! Now ... must get knitting!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Weight Loss Wednesday

This week I have swam twice ... I would have gone more had I not been thwarted by late trains. I have eaten less biscuits at work (I really must get a grip on my snacking) ... I have stopped grabbing a piece of bread/muffin/anything on my way from the bathroom through the kitchen and on my way to bed. I'm not even hungry - why do I do it!!!

I'd like to get back to the weight I was when I got married. I would love to fit into the GORGEOUS little black dress I bought from Hobbs (my one and only purchase from there!). It cost me over £100 and I justified it as:

a) I was having an Audrey Hepburn themed hen night - the dress was called "Audrey". It was meant to be.

b) A little black dress is an "investment" - hmmm, not if you have only worn it once!!

I don't normally like putting pictures of myself on the internet - but I will dig a picture out for next week. That is my long term weight loss goal! For now, I would like to be able to fit myself into my lovely wintery dress which I bought a couple of years ago from White Stuff. It's called Winter Solstice and I LOVE IT!!!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

A day spent in the kitchen ...

Today I have made crab apple and herb jelly ....

After what seemed like hours, I finally reached the setting point!

I also made some Rosehip Relish ... I think that I should have de-pipped the rosehips as although it smells wonderful and has a real kick to it - the pips are a bit of a mouthful. Not sure what I can do to rectify this one.


I love the contrast of the vivid red rosehips against the wonderful balsamic and red wine vinegar ... the smell was out of this world!

I have also finally got around to straining my final jar of last year's Sloe Gin. Thankfully, this one tastes very nice. The Spicy one doesn't and will be poured down the sink very shortly ...

I have also made my Christmas cakes! A bit later than normal this year ... but nevermind! Still plenty of time to feed with Sloe Gin. I'll blog about that separately!

I have had such a lovely weekend ... Mr Plum is cooking dinner and I have a pile of ironing to do ready for tomorrow - so I will leave you now. I hope that you have all had lovely weekends too!

Friday, 30 October 2009

I can crochet!

Last night I had my second class at The Make Lounge and it was much more successful than the first!!

I managed to do a bit of practising during the week ... not as much as I would have liked, but think that I have now got a hang of the wierdly named stitches (double treble - I ask you!!). Anyway, here is a picture of the flower I made last night!!

I am now going to have a go at crocheting a granny square and may even book myself onto the Super Cool Crochet Squares workshop!

I probably said this in my last post about learning crochet - but I would definitely recommend The Make Lounge. There were six of us in the class, of varying ability ... but Catherine (the teacher) made us all feel relaxed and explained the stitches in terms suitable for absolute beginners (like myself!) there were plenty of biscuits, tea and wine to keep us going! It feels great to have learnt a new craft this week!

Hurray! It's Friday and due to being super-diligent at work today ... I don't have to go in for Saturday overtime! Yey!! Having worked almost every Saturday since the August Bank holiday ... I am ready for a two day weekend ... with nothing planned yet (a trip to Northcote Road (Cath Kidston) or Marylebone High Street (Cath Kidston)? A nice breakfast somewhere?) .....

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Weight Loss Wednesday

The time has come to face facts ... I call myself a "Weight Watcher" - but I am failing, and failing BIG TIME. Eight years ago I lost 5 stone ... but I have allowed 3 of those to "creep" back on. So ... after enduring a second weekend of going out, but no having anything nice which fits I have realised that I have to get back to Weight Watchers (online) and I have to track ... and track properly. No ... a chocolate biscuit does count if it's eaten at your desk/standing up, yes ... a moment on the lips will mean a lifetime on the hips ...

I have been inspired by recent posts by Kelly and Victoria, and have just signed up to Weight Loss Wednesdays at Rosie Little Things. This week I have lost 2lbs! So I am please with that!


Sunday, 25 October 2009

A bit late ... SHOW US YOUR CATH!!!!

I'm a little bit late with this, but on 22nd October LissyLou hosted a day of "Show Us Your Cath"! Lots of lovely blogs I follow took part, so here is all mine.

Inspirational felty embellishing ideas ....

Old cabinet CK'd with "Breakfast" oilcloth

Mini dot mac and lovely Chiswick Flowers bag

Writing paper, soap and passport cover ... also have a luggage tag to match!


I'm feeling the need for a trip to Cath for more goodies!!!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

All the colours of the rainbow swap!

I had a lovely surprise this afternoon! Having been at work from 7.30am-2pm (on a Saturday! Gasp!!), I came home to find that Mr Plum had popped to the local depot to collect a parcel! This was my parcel from the lovely Kelly - my partner in the All The Colours of the Rainbow Swap!

This was a swap with a difference ... we all had to choose our favourite colour - I'm loving grey at the moment, so have received a wonderful parcel full of lovely grey things from Kelly! I have sent her a parcel of pink things in return! Kelly has been very generous, I feel thoroughly spoilt!

This picture is probably not very clear ... but Kelly has sent me an oil burner, candles, 2010 diary, make up bag, nail varnish and eyeshadows, earl grey tea bags, blackboard, fleecy throw, velvety ribbon, gloves, pashmina, table mats, napkins and tissues!! Wonderful!!!

Of course I had some help unwrapping ....




I love swaps!!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Evita and a Charidee Dinner!

I mentioned in my previous post that we had gone to my parents for the weekend. It was quite exciting as we took half days and headed West (on different trains ... but that's a whole different story!)

Me and mum got dressed up and headed to the college where my Dad works for a Charity Dinner in aid of Help For Heroes and the Fifteen Foundation. It was a brilliant evening - a team of chefs from Claridges go to the college and work with the students to produce an amazing six course dinner! Very nice!! I also got to briefly meet An American Girl In England, a family friend, who is writing a book with my Dad!

On Saturday we went to see "Evita" in Birmingham. It was wonderful! You can't beat a good show!

Whilst at home, Mum helped me out with my first big knitting project! I am still an incredibly slow knitter - and as this project is going to be a Christmas present for someone, I needed a bit of a hand! Does anyone know where to buy cheap Rowan Kidsilk Aura yarn? Or know of a cheap alternative?

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Learning to Crochet!

Tonight I went along to a beginners crochet workshop at The Make Lounge in Islington.

As you know, I love to knit ... and my mum did teach me how to crochet many years ago - but I have forgotten! It was seeing the lovely images of crocheted squares on the beautiful blog Do You Mind If I Knit? which inspired me to book this workshop - and I am so glad that I did!!

I would recommend this to anyone wanting to learn a new craft (and there are lots of workshops to chose from!). The first session was three hours long (and it whizzed by!), there was tea & coffee, wine and biscuits and five girls all wanting to learn something new! Tonight we learnt the basic crochet stitches and next week we will be making flowers!!! Very exciting ... I will be spending the next few days practising my stitches!

I will add photos of my little bits of crochet that I did tonight when I am able to move without being attacked by kittens!!

I will let you know how I get on with my crocheted flowers next week!