Thursday 30 January 2014

This week

I have been enjoying
 some time under my eidie reading

pink Himalayan rock salt you can read here about the benefits to our bodies

these pretties

picking up my knitting needles again for the first year in errm 28 years. I really wanted to teach myself how to knit again this year and even though I have only done a little bit, it's been fun.

finding Iced Zoo's in a UK supermarket after all these years, aren't they pretty?! I used to love these when I was a kid, especially slowly licking off the animals and then devouring the biscuit. Now the kids can have a little taste of South Africa and I can enjoy getting them out

of my new Orla Kiely jar that a friend gave me for Christmas.

writing a line a day with such a pretty pen, thank you Andrea

the repetitiveness and almost hypnotic state that comes from crocheting my Spring throw

splurging on some super foods in preparation for my new toy that should hopefully be here any day soon

preparing my quilt for quilting

some time with a poorly Es choosing the fabrics and
style for her bedroom quilt to be

finding a couple of treasures in the charity shop

and filling one of them with gorgeous smelling and tasting herbs

for the first time opening up my spring throw to appreciate my WIP

enjoying the view of the snow whilst quilting my first quilt.
Hope you have all enjoyed a creative week and I look forward to popping over to see what everyone else has been crocheting. Joining in today with Chrissie and Marianne for their Blooming Crochet-a-long.
Warm Wishes

Saturday 25 January 2014

Raw Chocolate and Orange Cheesecake

This week has zoomed by and it has been a super busy one. On Thursday it was my turn to host our fortnightly 'Coffee morning' that the Mums from our reception class started doing shortly after the October half term. The objective of the morning is to raise money for our school and so far we have already raised nearly £150 between a few Mum's, so really not bad going considering that we all get to chat and drink coffee or tea. It is the first time that I have hosted and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I absolutely LOVE tea parties and I think the thing I enjoy the most is the preparation, not that this small gathering required much. I have however had to be very organised as I had a funeral to go to on Wednesday and be there to support dear friends.

Fortunately you can make these Flourless Chocolate Brownies a few days in advance and they keep really well for up to a week, and if you like you can also freeze them. They are really delicious and are always a big hit with everyone, you can read more about it here. On Wednesday I quickly made my all time favourite lemon drizzle cake that I wrote about here, and I must say as always this was devoured. The thing that sets this lemon drizzle above any other is the use of ground almonds, which makes it really moist. It is also very lemony, which I love, not that I had a single morsel I will add.

Seeing that I am now officially on day 19 of my NO sugar diet, I had to find something that I could eat, so I thought I would have a go at making this vegan raw cheesecake. I have seen various recipes for raw cheesecakes over the years and despite wanting to try it, I have never actually gotten around to it. I must confess it ended up being quite a kerfuffle, but fortunately it is seriously DELICIOUS!! Basically the biscuit base is made up of almonds, dates and melted coconut oil, which was pretty straight forward, but the actual cheesecake, well lets just say a little less so and a little more prone to release a good repertoire of choice language.

It seems that my food processor just doesn't live up to the job. You see the cashew nuts, which I will add is an entire bag of 400g (so not the best low fat option!), has to be processed down into a nut butter paste, which was clearly just a little to tough going for my Kenwood Food processor. So in the end I had to blend down the cashew nuts, freshly squeezed orange juice, a few dates, cocoa powder and coconut oil in my teeny weeny electric spice grinder, a couple of spoons at a time, which turned this happy camper into a rather grumpy one.
Every cloud has a silver lining though!! Hubby saw and heard my mutter flowery language under my breath and kindly suggested that we needed to sort this out. You see, I am on a mission and when this girl gets going there is no stopping here. I am seriously looking at my diet and possibly moving into more of a raw food diet. It is slow steps, but I am reading heaps about this and trying to inform myself as best as possible. Despite starting The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt after finishing Bridget Jones's 'Mad about the Boy', I have now been side tracked and am reading Sweet Poison and researching the benefits of raw diets, but more on that at a later date.
I have a great deal to learn though as it seems that raw eating involves large quantity of fat every day and even though this is healthy fat, it is still unnecessary pressure on our livers. It is all a steep learning curve and I promise to share some information here soon for anyone interested. Anyway I digress, back to the silver lining. About three years ago my nutritionist, whom I have been working with since I fell ill, seriously suggested that I INVEST in a Vitamix, with INVEST most certainly being the operative word. After close consideration at the time and few pennies to spare we decided against it and bought a Kenwood blender to replace our then burnt out blender instead. In hindsight we should have saved the £140 we spent then and put it towards the Vitamix, but hey that's life.

So on Thursday after the girls had left I started doing a little research and within a few minutes of watching this video the decision was pretty much made. Even though we can't really afford it hubby was happy for us to make it work, and that is what we will do. So needless to say I am one very lucky and excited girl waiting with bated breath for the right knock on the door, even though I know it most probably won't be here for another week. A girl can be hopeful!

On Friday we had our 'stitch and bitch' and it was such a lovely morning. I actually picked up my quilting squares again as I didn't know what I wanted to work on and it felt so lovely to carry on where I left off at the end of last summer.

Even though it is only in the early stages, it is lovely to see a little progress. Needless to say I am working completely out of my comfort zone, if I have such a thing when it comes to sewing, but this is all new to me and without any training or help, I am just relying on my trusty Quilters Bible by Linda Clements. I must say I do wish I knew another quilter or someone interested in it as a little practical help here and there won't go amiss.

I love that both my friend and I always carry our cameras around with us and feel so at ease to snap away at random things without a blink of an eye lid from the other. The fun bit is that we have the same cameras too, and even though we are both pretty clueless we will hopefully learn a little together. I think more and more people take photos of everything, but as a blogger and instagram junkie, it often feels like I have my camera on me 24/7. I love how we get to see the different angles of life through a single lens.
This is a joyous sight that is making me smile every day. I am really enjoying seeing a little more life in the garden and in the home.


For anyone interested in joining in on my Weekly Bake, please feel free to do so. For my new readers, I generally do a post once a week about some or the other bake. This year I suspect you will largely be seeing healthy options, not a bad thing, but for anyone wanting to join in you can find the button on the sidebar of my blog to add to your blog and you can just click on the link below the post to link up your bake. There is no pressure and that includes myself. My aim this year is not to feel pressurised by anything, so if I miss a week, please feel free to go ahead and blog about it anyway. You can find quite a few recipes in my Weekly Bake and Gluten and Dairy Free Baking section, but now there will be a new section for Raw baking or food. At the moment I am seriously contemplating a 21 day raw food detox, anyone fancy joining in??

So before I sign off, I need to know have you all been watching The Great Interior Design Challenge??? Oh faint!!! I am just LOVING it. It was great watching some familiar faces on there such as Sarah Moore and Ooh Betty. It is so lovely to see the people we follow on our blogs and Instagram and to see them do so well at it. For anyone who has missed it you can watch it on iPlayer. DONT miss it!!
I have so many things to tell, but it will have to wait till next time as the family beckons and I think it might be time to play a game of monopoly or something. The wind is howling and it is throwing it down, the fire is lit and I think it calls for a cosy afternoon and a date with the telly later tonight to watch The Voice and hopefully a little time to do a little more crochet on my Spring throw. Tomorrow is Treacle market, but with weather like this, errm, time will tell.
That's it for now.
Warm Wishes

Thursday 23 January 2014

"There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”

I was planning on popping in tomorrow with a my weekly bake and a ramble on about my week and a few other lovely things that's happened in January, but I'm afraid the rambling couldn't wait. You see I pretty much have had the most loveliest Christmas and January thanks to some really gorgeous and lovely people out there and today again a very special bloggy friend also made my day a TRES happy day!

So about two weeks ago, the lovely Trishie from Under Lock and Key sent me this bundle of organic goodness all the way from Oz and she got it spot on, as hand cream is my little daily pleasure as is lip balm. These products not only smell beautiful, but really feel wonderful on your skin. Thank you Trishie for your kind and thoughtful gift, I am loving it!
Then last week I received this very yummy looking cotton from the very lovely Chrissie over at Chrissie Crafts and even though it looks good enough to eat, I can't wait to whip something up with this. Thank you Chrissie, you are a sweetie for bringing this back all the way from the US.
Today after a really lovely morning with some mums from school, more on that tomorrow, there was a knock on the door and the postie passed me this lovely parcel filled with the most gorgeous bits.

A really sweet little case filled with the most gorgeously wrapped pressies, from the cutest squirrel tin, rosey geranium soap, craft adhesive tape, a gorgeous sewing tape measure, a lovely pen and some lush Jenny Watson Merino wool. It was so much fun opening each little individual present, and I just couldn't believe that the lovely Andrea from Betty&Annie spoilt me with all this gorgeousness. She crocheted this stunning bucket, isn't it fab??!! I can't wait to fill it with lots of bits in my sewing room and to find a prime position for it. I love having little bits of crafters around my home and this is definitely one that will make me smile, thank you Andrea you are a sweetie and as your note said, I am most certainly having a very happy day!!

I would love to ramble on, but I have kids to get to bed so for now on a very happy note it is time to sign off.

 Warm Wishes

Monday 20 January 2014

Raw Raspberry Ganache Fudge Cake

 Good morning all you lovely people. I hope you all enjoyed a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable weekend. For us it was a fairly slow one, but with quite a few things to do around the house. We still seem to be in the January clear-and-sort-out mode, which seems to be falling slowly in place. In between it all we have been enjoying some of this gorgeously delicious Raw Raspberry Ganache Fudge Cake, by Ani Phyo.
Earlier this month, I treated myself to this lovely book by Ani Phyo, as I felt it fitted in perfectly with my new outlook on a journey to wellness. The book if filled with '85 Easy, Delectable Sweets and Treats' all without wheat, gluten, dairy or any processed sugar. Ani Phyo has divided the book into ten sections: Frozen Treats, Cakes and Tartlets, Chocolate and Fudge, Crisps and Cobblers, Puddings and Parfaits, Cookies, Fruit Simples, Sun-Baked Treats, Sauces and Kreams and Sparkling Desserts with Wine and Champagne.
Thus far I have only tried two of the recipes and they have both been very delicious. The first was 'Peacan Pie Cookies', which is very much like the Naked Bar's peacan pie, but definitely a bit yummier. This cake however is in a league of its own.

The cake is made up of processed dates, cocoa powder and walnuts, which to be honest baffled the socks off me as I just didn't understand how this crumbly mixture was going to hold its own once assembled and iced

and as it turns out I was right. The idea is that you divide the mixture between two sandwich tins and then set aside whilst you make the icing. Amazingly they held their shape once turned out, but started crumbling once I attempted the icing. So, I figured that I would pop it back in the food processor, add a few more dates and then packed them really tightly by pushing the mixture firmly into place (a bit like working with putty) and then I popped them in the freezer for a good few hours, which seem to do the trick.

To make the ganache, you simply process some dates, agave syrup, cocoa powder and some avocado and amazingly

you have THE most delicious ganache. This stuff is seriously yummy and the good news is that it is healthy too!

 Once the glitches were all ironed out it was really easy to assemble the cake. The recipe calls for adding a layer of raspberries in between the two cakes, but I was a little worried that it would make the cake soggy over the course of a few days. Having seen how the raspberries behave on top, I think I will give it a go next time as the raspberries really compliment the delicious flavours of this cake beautifully. For anyone interested in trying this recipe, you can find it here.

On Friday I had a little 'stitch and bitch' session at home with a friend as we were both desperate to finish some cushions that we had started long before Christmas. It was a really enjoyable morning and seeing that we are both on MyFitnessPal and avoiding sugar, this cake seemed like the perfect treat whilst stitching. I will say that we both thought the cake is much tastier than many other chocolate cakes, even the kids and hubby loved the cake (yes it is all gone!) and for us the thing that struck us the most was that there was no nasty post sugar cravings that you so often get when eating refined sugar and simple carbohydrates. I honestly never thought that I would put the words cake and healthy in the same sentence, but here it is loud and clear and to top it, it is actually really delicious.
The good news is that I finally finished this cushion I have been working on for a while. I have never spent this long on making a cushion and I must confess that working with velvet can be quite tricky and therefore calls for a great deal of hand stitching to get everything firmly in place before it starts dancing under the foot of your machine.

I am really pleased with the end result and love the use of doilies on cushions. I also love the colours of this fabric and I think it compliments this little space beautifully. I still have another one in the same fabric to make, but this time I will take my time and do it properly from start to finish to ensure that pesky un-picker is NOT required.

Before I go I would like to thank each and every one of you who left such supportive and loving comments on my post about my plans for this year. It is really wonderful to know that there is so much love and support out there. So far it has been hard going as it doesn't come natural for me just to be still, so it is a challenge, but then I have always been very fond of challenges, so I will keep that in mind when things get tough. As for the yoga, it seems to be aggravating the shingles in my body, so I am toning it right down to breathing and trying to find ways in which it will work in harmony with my body. For now it is all very much trial and error and it is definitely affecting my health, but the art lies in listening to my body and it is not going to happen overnight. This is going to be a long process, one that will take time to tune in and find the pathways that needs to gel together in order for my body to be in its optimal position whilst my mind follow hand in hand. It is all to easy for our minds just to lead the way without any regard for the needs of our bodies and for me this is most certainly my biggest challenge.
A big welcome to my new followers, I am so touched that you have decided to stop by and I hope that I will get to know you all a little better over the months ahead. I am also a little behind in catching up with many of your lovely blogs, but it will hopefully happen during this week.
Sending you all much love and wishes for a creative week ahead.
Warm Wishes

Saturday 18 January 2014

Nursery Rhyme Quilt

Today I wanted to share a really special quilt with you that Ma made for little Es for her cot. I love this gorgeous Nursery Rhyme quilt featuring so many of our favourite nursery rhymes.

Ma lovingly hand stitched the entire quilt from start to finish and the detail is simply beautiful.

It features everything from Jack and Jill to Old King Cole

Little Bo Peep, Old Mother Hubbard, Goldilocks

Hey diddle diddle, the three little pigs,

Tom Thumb

Humpty Dumpty

and Mary had a little lamb.

It is impossible for me to show the details that has gone into this quilt, but here is one of many examples, all hand embroidered.

I wish that I could stretch this beautiful quilt so it could grow with little Es, but seeing that we both love it, it is staying put on her bed for now.

Thank you again Ma for making such a beautiful quilt for little Es it brings a smile to our faces every day!!

Hope you are all enjoying your weekend so far. We had a trip out to the cinema last night to go and The Railway Man, which has moved me to the core. It is one of the best war movies that I have ever seen and I thought the cast, especially Colin Firth, Jeremy Irvine and Nicole Kidman were truly outstanding. It was a brilliantly moving production from start to finish and I don't think I blinked until the last thirty minutes when I had to reach for my hankie and that was me lost for the remainder of the movie. I hope that in some way this movie can inspire people to drive nations to strive for a world with less greed and hatred that is perpetually fuelling violence all around the world. The damage continues long after the events and so does the hatred and pain. As a society we are all responsible to teach our children the values and benefits of peace and reconciliation, but for one we need to find forgiveness within for ourselves and others in order to move forward.
On a brighter note, wishing you all a lovely weekend and I will be back in the next couple of days with a  very yummy and yes incredibly healthy cake.
Till then
Warm wishes