Sunday, 27 December 2009


Hoping you all had a very Merry Christmas!

Due to various mishaps with blogger on my phone I wasn't able to blog any Christmas wishes before the day.

We had a very relaxing Christmas with family in Kent, lots of good food, conversation and presents. And I did quite well at Christmas Day Scrabble for a change!!

I am now settling into a lovely long week before I have to be at work again, I am hoping to bring you lots of new things on the jewellery front.
I'll also be starting a very special sale in my Etsy shop - watch out for some wonderful discounts later in the week, up to 50% off.


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Monday, 21 December 2009

Last Minute Gifts!

If you are in the U.K. and still looking for a lovely gift to give this Christmas there is still time to order from my shop, hurrah!

Order dates for first class have passed but I can send orders via Special Delivery Next Day to reach you in time for Christmas. Contact me via my Etsy shop or at if you'd like to add extra postage on to your order. Special delivery will cost £5 (converted to $8 in my Etsy Shop).

The last date to order for this is the 22nd December, I will ship your gifts on the 23rd to arrive 24th.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

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Friday, 18 December 2009

White Christmas?

Certainly looks promising. I went mad and took many many pictures of the snow today, I expect to be entertaining you with many more if this lovely weather continues.

I am certainly making the most of the macro function too!

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Thursday, 17 December 2009

Last Posting Dates - UK

Hello everyone!

Just a quick note to remind you that if you are in the U.K and would like your gifts by Christmas please order by the 20th December for all my shops (Etsy, Folksy and All Things Original).

I'll still be shipping out until the 22nd but your gifts may not arrive on time.

Contact me if you'd like recorded or special delivery.

Happy Shopping and Merry Christmas!

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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Vanilla Marshmallows

One of the things I do this time of year is try a recipe that I have never tried before, something sweet, so I can give the end product as a gift.
Really, this is not very wise considering I am planning on giving these things as gifts, and should they go wrong I would have to rush out to the shops at the last minute!

I've made fudge in the past, truffles and some disastrous too vinegary red onion marmalade.

This year I thought I'd try marshmallows, I'd seen them on River Cottage a few months back and they looked too delicious not to try. I love sweets but the shop bought marshmallows are always disappointing.

Boiling sugar, mince pies in the background!

I used the River Cottage recipe but tweaked it a little to my taste.
I didn't go for the beetroot but instead prepared some vanilla sugar ahead of time (2 weeks in a tub with a couple of split vanilla pods) and also infused some spent vanilla pods in the hot water before I added the gelatine.

The vanilla taste comes through very well, I'd love to try other things next time - maybe infusing with fruit tea.
You also don't need a mixer for this but you do really need an electric whisk to save your arms, and obviously the thermometer is a total must.

I took my marshmallows out of the tin after about 3 hours but I left it on a powdered board overnight to set further, this makes them a lot less sticky to cut into pieces.

These take an afternoon to make but they are definitely worth it, they are nothing like the shop bought variety at all. I can't wait to hear the verdict from those receiving them! I will of course be keeping some for myself, for coffee dunking purposes.


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Back on Folksy!

Just to let you know I'm back on Folksy!

My shop has reopened with lots of goodies, and all in UK pounds for my UK customers :)

Order by the 20th December to receive your gifts by Christmas.


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Friday, 11 December 2009

Etsy Christmas Special!

A special for my blog readers this weekend!
15% off and free shipping!

In my Etsy Shop
Enter 'Weekend Special' in the notes to seller box during checkout and I'll refund the discount via PayPal.

Merry Christmas!


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Thursday, 10 December 2009

Christmas is here..

The tree is up..

I do love this time of year, and I especially like seeing the tree up and our assorted decorations.
This year I've a few handmade additions -some lovely fabric decorations from summersville and a beautiful clay dove from Emma Passey (which has a perilous future if the cat continues to climb the tree, it may be moved!).

We also bought a smoking man from the Black Forest, you put a little incense cone where his belly is and little smoke comes out his mouth!


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Tuesday, 8 December 2009

roast tomato soup with tiny toasties

I wonder what percentage of tomato soup is made on a dreary Monday evening?

Yesterday was no except, rain, wind and getting dark early. I normally crave soup or stew on days like that, this time it was a rich tomato soup. I'd noticed several of my favourite food blogs had come up with tomato soup recipes recently along with the traditional American addition of grilled cheese (or cheese toasties) - which I'd never had before with it.

I like to roast my tomatoes for soup, it really brings the flavour out and turns not so special supermarket tomatoes into something wonderful. When I'm making a quick and cheap lunch soup I roast canned chopped tomatoes instead of fresh ones.

Roast Tomato Soup with Tiny Cheese Toasties

For Soup
6 large tomatoes - peeled (with a vegetable peeler or boil and peel skins off)
2 fat cloves of garlic
approx 200ml of chicken stock (I had some in the freezer that I'd made a couple of weeks ago)
1/2 red onion
splash of double cream

For Toasties
French stick

(You can also experiment with gruyere, emmental or even something like double gloucester)

For the Soup

Cut peeled tomatoes into quarters and add to a roasting tin with the cloves of garlic (keep the skins on the garlic, you want them to roast inside and become sweet and flavoursome) and a drizzle of good olive oil. Roast on high on the top shelf for approx 10 - 15 mins.
When they are ready mush them up with the back of a spoon. Take out the garlic cloves , remove skins and chop roughly.

Fry diced red onion in a little olive oil and butter until soft, add in garlic cloves followed by tomatoes. Simmer for a few minutes before adding the stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer slowly for 10 minutes. Blend and then stir in a little double cream once off the heat.

For Tiny Cheese Toasties

Cut french stick into as many slices as you'd like toasties, approx 1 inch thick.
Add a little english mustard to one side of each piece of bread.

Fry half the slices, mustard side up, in a little butter until brown on one side. Remove from pan and do the same with the other slices - this time layering with thinly sliced parmesan and cheddar, pop the first set of fried slices on top. Cook slowly until the cheese melts. I found a lot of american recipes use a weight to help the cheese melt, I used my heavy casserole lid.
If the bread starts to brown too much and the cheese isn't melting remove the top layer and pop them under the grill to melt the cheese.

Ladle soup in to a big bowl and serve with the toasties. I guarantee this will warm you up from top to toe!


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Monday, 7 December 2009

Handm@de Cambridge

I'm back (and recovered!) from Handm@de Cambridge!

I had a lovely day at the fair and met some great people, I love to go to fairs to hear feedback on my jewellery. Thank you to everyone who stopped by and to the lovely Alice of Snapdragon Beads for her super duper organisational skills!

Whilst I was there I also did a little shopping myself at Saffron Barr, Little Button Nose and also this lovely dove from Emma Passey Design - its now sitting pretty on my christmas tree.

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Friday, 4 December 2009

Handmade Cambridge - 5th December

I'll be at Handmade Cambridge tomorrow!

Please come along and visit me. It is at Cambridge Guildhall (right on the Market Square, next to Lion Yard shopping centre) between 11am and 5pm.

I'll have a lot of exclusive pieces for the craft fair as well as some of my signature pieces.

There will also be lots of other lovely handmade crafts there too, a good place to do your Christmas shopping.

Hope to see you there!

PS - my etsy shop will be open as normal, and orders are shipping in normal time. :)

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Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Perfecting Pastry with a Pecan Pie

I've never had much luck with pastry. My shells always shrunk or drooped in or didn't cook enough or cooked too much. My pies and tarts sometimes tasted ok but they never looked neat and tidy.

I usually blamed it on my oven, its not the best and it has trouble keeping the right temperature.

But I think I just didn't have the right recipe... or the right equipment. Yes I was guilty of trying to make a tart case with just a normal shallow cake tin.

I was almost about to give up and make a pastry case with a ready made shop bought shell (I know, shocking!) but I couldn't bring myself to buy it. Instead I bought myself a proper tart case and found this recipe for the great unshrinkable tart shell.

It was indeed a great recipe, not too much hassle, the only thing you need is patience whilst the pastry cools in the fridge and freezes in the freezer. It did shrink a tiny bit but it didnt slump or flop and it stayed in shape to give a lovely pecan pie.

I follow A LOT of food blogs on my google reader, but strangely none of them came up with a recipe for pecan pie - is it such a given that everyone should know how to make pecan pie?
I tweeted it and the lovely Alice of Snapdragonbeads gave me her Mum's authentic pecan pie recipe - (four large eggs, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup crushed pecans, drop of sherry or bourbon mixed in, I also added cinamonn and a dash of maple syrup).

Whipped it up and poured it into my tart case, baked it for 15 minutes and voila!

Gorgeous! The pastry turned out so well, crisp and sweet and cooked properly all the way round.

(as you can see I also sprinkled it with caster sugar before baking, it didnt really caramelise but it does taste nice! I would suggest using icing sugar or not bothering!).

Watch this space for more tart recipes now that I have found the perfect tart shell!


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Monday, 30 November 2009

Cyber Monday Special!

Today Only!

15% off PLUS Free Shipping to all Countries!

Listings in my Etsy shop already have free shipping applied, your 15% discount will be refunded via PayPal after payment.

Thanks for shopping with me this festive season!


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Monday, 23 November 2009

Alimentum, Cambridge

Lately it seems like we've been dining out a lot, I can assure you this is not a very regular occurence but I'm pleased we've been out more recently.

One place that we've had our eye on for a while is Alimentum, its been open since 2007 and has recently recruited the chef from Midsummer house, the two Michelin starred restaurant in Cambridge. Since he joined in April this year Alimentum has been enjoying a lot more press and is steadily gaining a very good reputation for excellent food.

If you live in Cambridge you'll know that there is very little choice of restaurants unless you like chains - because of high rents (mainly caused by the University owning 90% of the land and buildings) not many independent restaurants pop up in central Cambridge.

Alimentum prides itself of local and seasonal food (the waiting staff emphasise this greatly) as well as an ethical approach to running their business. They also offer a great deal of good value options as well as their a la carte menu.

We booked for the fixed price pre theatre menu which was very good value, £15.50 for two courses or £18.50 for three.

I started with the artichoke barigoule with goats cheese, I wasn't exactly sure what this was but I thought I'd try it as I'm terrible at preparing artichokes myself. It turned out to be a stew of artichoke hearts with baby vegetables in a light white wine and mustard sauce. The goats cheese was perfect alongside it and it was beautifully presented.

Mr had Tilbury Meadows rib eye of beef- it was prepared by very thinly slicing rare roast beef with parmesan crisps and a light horseradish cream - a very nice alternative to a carpaccio.

For main I opted for the roast fillet of cod with mussels. Both were extremely fresh and the cod was cooked perfectly, it was served with a delicious spinach and garlic sauce which didn't taste as iron-y as you would think from a spinach sauce. Mr opted for the confit duck which was cooked to perfection, falling off the bone with a lovely crisp skin.

I again had already chosen my dessert before my starter or main, I went for the chocolate mousse with praline and mascarpone sorbet. I loved the presentation, the mousse was layered on top of a crispy biscuit base and finished with another layer of dark chocolate. The handmade praline was beautiful, the highlight of the pudding. The sorbet was a wonderful idea, it wasn't as rich as ice cream but still had a nice creamy taste but with the freshness of mascarpone.

Mr had the mulled wine poached pear which was completely christmassy in every way, the wine was spiced just right. It was served with ice cream, a pear crisp and pear puree.

We had a great experience at Alimentum, there are lots of good value options for dining which is something Cambridge badly needs. Alimentum already has 3 AA rosettes and I expect it will gain a few more accolades quite soon.

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Friday, 20 November 2009

a packaging update...

I'm always playing around with packaging and I do like Christmas time because it gives me a chance to update my packaging.

My orders will be going out in the same lovely black boxes but this time tied with luscious purple ribbon. Lovely!


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True blue...

I recently bought a new camera after having many problems capturing colours properly on my old (and quite cheap) samsung - namely blue, some greens and red. I've been really pleased with my new Canon Ixus, the colours are so true and my pictures have such a lot more depth to them.

These 'Minerva Earrings' are new and in my etsy shop today.

PSST ...
I'm also having a SECRET SALE this weekend!
20% off on your whole order (excl. shipping) when you use the code 'SECRET' during checkout.
I'll refund via Paypal once you've paid. Thanks for visiting this weekend!


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Thursday, 19 November 2009


Prague Cathedral, Strahov Monastry, Charles Bridge, Astronomical Clock

Despite ALL THE RAIN we saw all the sights in Prague, we particularly like the castle and the cathedral. One of the most interesting places was the Monastry, the buildings were lovely and we had a great meal of goulash in their restaurant.

Unfortunately places on the other side of Charles Bridge - Wenceslas square in particular - have become so touristy and tacky that we didn't enjoy them very much. There were a lot of czech glass beads for sale but the same hanks of cheap and tacky glass in every other shop spoiled it a bit - and they were more expensive than over here!

The National Museum is worth a visit, they have a great minerology section (for all of you that like gemstones!) and some interesting fossil finds.


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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

a humble stew

Now that autumn is coming to an end I am pleased to be able to spend a Sunday afternoon cooking a roast dinner, and then come home on a Monday evening to a big bowl of stew and dumplings.

This is a very easy and adaptable recipe but you do need a the remnants of a roast chicken to help you along - this is where the flavour is. The day before I'd made the Zuni Cafe roast chicken recipe with the usual trimmings and most importantly a lovely gravy from the roasting tray.

We had lots of chicken leftover and also lots of gravy, the chicken was stuffed with thyme so there was lots and lots of flavour there. also the Zuni Cafe method (which is extremely popular, as you will see when you google it) ensures a chicken that is roasted with perfectly crisp skin and incredibly moist and tender meat - the latter very important for a stew.

Firstly I should apologise for the pictures, my new camera is doing a good job in artificial light but chicken stew is hard to make photogenic!

You will need:

Leftover chicken -shredded up
About 100ml of gravy
Approx 50ml chicken stock (I also made my own stock before making the stew rather than using a cube)
Carrots - about 2 medium ones
1/2 large white onion
1-2 cloves of garlic

Finely dice the carrot and onion and fry with olive oil in a casserole dish (or ovenproof dish with a lid) until the onions are nice and soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so.
Add in the chicken and then the gravy and the stock - make sure the chicken is well covered.
Season and add a sprig or two of thyme - use less if you had a lot of herbs in the chicken when you originally roasted it.

Bring to the boil and then put in a medium oven with the lid on, cook for 20 minutes whilst you make the dumplings.

For the Dumplings

I've never really been a fan of dumplings, I always thought of them as being stodgy and cloying - this recipe is much different. It doesn't use a lot of flour and no suet - instead milk and cream are used to make light and fluffy dumplings with an almost mashed potato like quality. It is adapted from this recipe on Bread and Honey.

approx 60grams plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
pinch of salt
thyme, sage, rosemary or any other herb you think goes!
100ml double cream
50mls semi skimmed milk.

Mix dry ingredients and herbs together and then slowly add in the cream and then the milk. You aren't aiming for a dough but a wet mixture that keeps its shape - does that make sense? You may find you need more or less milk, cream or flour - just add more or less to get your mixture right. If you add more flour make sure to add a little more baking powder.

When the stew has been cooking for 20mins take it out and spoon the dumplings over the top. Put the lid back on and cook for 20mins again. Take the lid off after 20mins and cook for another 5-10 to crisp up the dumplings slightly.

Serve in big bowls and try not to think about the wind and rain outside.


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Tuesday, 17 November 2009

new toys

I've just realised you can see the reflection of the garlic I was using for dinner in the coffee maker!

We received this thing of wonder as a wedding present. Expect me to be more productive on the jewellery front soon, this will definitely be of use during the busy Christmas period...

I'd love any recommendations for good coffee beans, so far I've heard Monmouth Coffee Co. are a good place to go.


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Monday, 16 November 2009

a festive shop update...

Some new festive earrings for my etsy shop...

Look out for another suitably Christmassy green glass necklace coming soon.

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Sunday, 15 November 2009

fish and chips..

But in a more civilised way....

We stopped by one of the newest restaurant additions to Cambridge yesterday, The Sea Tree on Mill Road. An 'alternative' fish bar providing the usual favourites as well as some other interesting additions. I'd spotted a good review over on Not Another Food Blog, so after a mornings shopping/elbowing through the crowds we went along to rest our weary feet.

I opted for the battered calamari with salsa verde and the hubby (still getting used to saying that!) had cod and chips. Both were great, the chips especially - handcut with skins on! Everything is made to order and there is lots of choice. I particularly like the fact that they do a range of freshly made sauces - things like tartare sauce, aioli, sweet chili and the aformentioned salsa verde.

They also have a little fishmongers section with the seasons fish on offer, things like salmon, rainbow trout, sea bream and haddock. I think they do shellfish on occasion too.

Will definitely be stopping by again, this is a great addition to Mill Road and its good to have some kind of fishmongers option that isn't the local supermarket.

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Saturday, 14 November 2009

A bunny - Daily!

I really love this blog. Simple and cute. And it normally arrives in my reader at the end of the day, a bit of cute fluffyness is a good way to round off the day.

I can't pick my favourite one, they are all cute but how about this one for ohmygodhowcuteijustwanttoswishitscheeks ....
Image courtesy of Daily Bunny -

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Friday, 13 November 2009


The first leg of our honeymoon was Amsterdam, somewhere I've wanted to visit for a while.
The city was lovely, the buildings very much what I had imagined and very picturesque indeed. We took a boat tour and saw lots of the sights and learnt about the history.

And we did go for pancakes too at the Pancake Bakery! Absolutely huge dinner plate size pancakes topped with anything you can imagine.

Foodie wise the Pancake Bakery was excellent but you must also visit Tempo Doeloe, an Indoniesian restaurant in Amsterdam, brilliant food and very popular - we had the goat!

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