Saturday, 22 November 2014

Christmas Baking: Cranberry Tart with George

Chirstmas Baking: Cranberry Tart

Hi everyone! So a little while ago I was contacted on behalf of George at ASDA to see if I was interested in choosing a few things from the website to review.  It's coming up to the Christmas as I'm sure I have made everyone painfully aware - I am definitely in the 'starts in October' camp - and so it occurred to me to choose a few baking essentials to try out. I actually love browsing the home sections in supermarkets, though sadly the only local supermarkets near me are small, and their home section doesn't expand beyond wooden spoons, saucepans and binbags. I'd never really thought about buying this kind of stuff online before.

Chirstmas Baking: Cranberry Tart

Last year I muddled by with measuring cups and a whisk, but I took this opportunity to get 'kitted out' and actually have a mixing bowl to mix things in, rather than a vintage serving bowl! I chose a mixing bowl, scales, a measuring jug, handwhisk, pie dish and as a treat I chose these christmassy cake tins, which I think must be sold out at the moment as I can't seem to find the link. I decided to make a cranberry and clementine tart as they are seasonal at the moment and I was feeling very festive! It actually ended up pretty tart as I went a little overboard on the cranberries and perhaps not overboard enough on the clementines, so next time I will know! It looked nice though, and I've already used my new stuff to bake a ginger cake since, too.

Christmas Baking: Cranberry Tart

I found the products to be such a bargain - I couldn't believe a handmixer was a tenner, and they weren't just bog standard cheap-and-cheerful variety. All the products I chose were the kind of old-school aesthetic that I love, and all feel really nice quality. I loved the lip on the mixing bowl for easy pouring, and that the cake tins just had a nice pattern and no cheesy slogans (I had been put off buying a few similar sets because of this!)

Chirstmas Baking: Cranberry Tart

To bake the tart I followed a simple sweet pastry recipe - it was so nice to just simply measure stuff out instead of trying to convert everything to cups (yup even butter) - and then filled up the centre with the fruit that I cooked up with  little water and some sugar. Obviously next time I would use a lot less cranberry, though! I loved the products and I can't wait to bake a lot more over christmas, especially as term is ending so soon. Along with the gifts, I was sent a catalog of their christmas range and I actually then went and spent my own money on their lovely selection of christmas decorations, and actually, just searching the site for the links for this post I found more stuff I kind of wanted to splurge on. I hadn't really thought about shopping for stuff other than food at ASDA but my little studenty heart has been completely changed!

Chirstmas Baking: Cranberry Tart Chirstmas Baking: Cranberry Tart Chirstmas Baking: Cranberry Tart Chirstmas Baking: Cranberry Tart

Thursday, 20 November 2014

My #MakeMeADesigner Entry!

#makemeadesigner mock up

Hi everyone! So a while back I was emailed looking for design students to enter a competition called 'Make Me A Designer', by a company called They've worked with other designers in the past, and were offering the opportunity for a 'budding designer' to win their design on a set! They sent me some art goodies to get me started, and I did some sketches before ending with my final design. I initially thought of some complex designs but stuck with this simple one that was inspired by some shadows hitting a brick wall. It took ages to get the repeat right, and it was infuriating, but I went with this set of of four in some pretty complimentary colours. I printed them out to get a sense of the colours, and mocked one up with a woven texture to see how it would come out printed onto fabric.

#makemeadesigner mock up #makemeadesigner mock up #makemeadesigner mock up

I also mocked up one onto an existing picture from - hope they don't mind! - and changed the picture in the room to this lovely print by madebyaiza - so here's my submission


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Easy Mornings in Motion

Hi everyone! So, time for something a little different. I've mentioned a few posts back about trying to take more photos and since I made this decision there have been lots of things to want to take photos of. However, what ought I to do with them afterwards? They were things that were pretty or just opportunities for a nice capture, but they didn't warrant a blog post. I had the idea that if I captured these moments in more than just a 'fixed image' - though you could argue that video is really just a fixed image - I could compile a little something that gave these snapshots a meaning and a theme. Here's my first little video, using music by Engine7, I hope you like it. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Bonfire Night at Forest Fields

Bonfire Night at Forest Fields

Recently I've been trying to take my camera out with me more. I knew when bonfire night rolled around I'd be taking it with me to get some pictures of the Forest Fields event that is put on by the council, and here we are! After failing to schedule this post correctly, It's languished in my drafts for a week or so, but I still wanted to post it!

We attended last year too, and the bonfire and fireworks are fantastic. Not only that, but there's a pretty considerable fair that offers all the hot chocolate, metre-long candy whips and candy floss you'd expect. Seeing it from the top of the hill is fairly spectacular - much like the Goose Fair in October - the grounds are ablaze with fairground bulbs. Not only that but the bonfire too, lit up the sky the colour of a sunset, even though it was far too late to be setting. The key is to arrive early and wander around the predictably predictable fair and clutch your camera for dear life. Then, head towards the bonfire (through the masses of people) and stand in the crowd, breath pluming, to ooh-and ahh at the fireworks. 

Bonfire Night at Forest Fields

I thought about it and realised that really humans are pretty strange. We made a tradition of packing colour and explosives into little rockets and watching them burst in the sky - really we're all just babies who still love the crackle of tinfoil. 

The atmosphere was just right - maybe it's because the 'recreational grounds' are so close to the uni, but there were groups of friends, children on shoulders, sparklers and couples cuddling as we watched and it all felt pretty special. I had to include one bokeh photo of the fireworks for cliche's sake. Hope you all enjoyed fireworks, whether it was your own or whether you were sneakily watching next doors out of the window like I definitely didn't. 

Bonfire Night at Forest Fields Bonfire Night at Forest Fields Bonfire Night at Forest Fields Bonfire Night at Forest Fields

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Leaf Lace and A Pink Polka H&M Dress

Leaf Lace and a Pink Polka H&M Dress

Hi everyone! So after that influx of lifestyle postings, I finally have a fashion post for you!Ps how do you feel about my new layout? I dont understand how blogs keep the same one for so long - I get sick of looking at mine after a few months. Maybe it's the artist in me that quickly loses pride in their old work. I have a theory about this. Anyway -

 I went shopping with my good friend Amy recently and spent too much money.I was feeling in a cold-weather-clothing slump and I 'needed' a few bits and pieces to give me a little more choice now that layering is essential rather than an option. I bought this pale pink polka dot dress (how was that for alliteration?) from H&M. I spotted it across the room, helping Amy choose between small or medium. I abandoned her for the dress. I've never ended up in a changing room so fast.

Leaf Lace and a Pink Polka H&M DressIt is so wonderful and girly and gauzy and icecreamy and H&M is notoriously baraginous, so home it came with me. I wore it on Monday with this leaf 'print' lace jacket that I bought in September in a charity shop and have only managed to wear now! I was confused about what to wear it with seeing as it doesn't really function spectacularly as a jacket, but now that it fits snugly under my coat I'm enjoying wearing it as part of my 'inside' ensemble. I also got to sport these faux fur gloves that were a present many moons ago - I just love mittens and I am secretly pleased that it's cold enough.

I had a lot to carry around with me, and a lot to do, so I just nipped out at lunch to get these pictures (with an ill and reluctant Martin) and then carried on working on a project which I'm also doing with Amy.

Leaf Lace and a Pink Polka H&M Dress

This weekend I'm headed to start my Christmas shopping guys it's only 39 days away and as I wanted to shop a little more handmade and local, I am giving myself a lot more time to make, design, print, buy and order! (oh and wrap! wrap.) I'm hopelessly excited for Christmas, and hopefully that'll be reflected in the 'ole blog soon!

Leaf Lace and a Pink Polka H&M Dress

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Tips for Curing 'Winter Blues'

Curing the Winter Blues

Another 'top tips from Annie' post already! I don't know why I've suddenly got so much knowledge to impart but i'm rolling with it. I'm feeling inspired for blog posts just at the most inconvenient time - when all the work is piling on! I read Gemma's  post recently and I loved her points. I was about to leave her an incredibly rambly, drawn-out comment when I realised that I had more than a few sentences to say, and that I ought to share it here - with full credit to Gemma for the idea of course.

I don't suffer from S.A.D, but living in the UK I can understand to some extent how the cold days and dark evenings can suck, especially when bloggers elsewhere have moved on and are actually enjoying an identifiable spring - anyone else remember the daffodils in the snow? - whilst our winter drags on. I compiled some things that I personally feel help to evade the winter blues. 

Curing the Winter Blues
Light: It sucks when it's dark as you wake up, but the sun rises as i'm getting up and ready. I have super thin curtains that I bought deliberately to let lots of light in. The minute the sun rises my room is filled with light. Opening your eyes to bright daylight makes it so much easier to get out of bed.

Life: I've already harped on about it on instagram, but I find it so important to have stuff living in your house. I keep herbs in the kitchen and so far I have an Ikea succulent and a lucky bamboo on a windowsill. Not only are plants good feng shui (or, good for the flow of Ch'i in your home) they stop your house feeling so dingy and cave-like in the winter.

Curing the Winter Blues

Get up early; kind of in tangent with my light point. Lately I've been feeling so busy that I have been getting up early in order to be more productive, but it also helps you feel like you haven't missed the daylight. I'm all for lie-ins, but what about being awake as you lie in? I like to wake early, and spend my lazy mornings cuddling, chatting, poking around on my phone, reading a few blogs and it still only be 11 by the time we go to get some breakfast. 

Get Outside: I was feeling apprehensive as the next person about autumn and bemoaning those people who were desperately tweeting about how excited they were for autumn. I didn't want the summer to end because it felt like we hadn't had one yet! Still, I had to get up to go to uni and that, coupled with my desire to photograph more, made me appreciate beautiful colours in the crisp mornings and found myself thinking about taking walks and going exploring. It doesn't have to be walks, or photography - it could be exercise - take a leaf out of Bangs' book and see your city before it wakes. 

Curing the Winter Blues Curing the Winter Blues

Sunday, 9 November 2014

How to Make a Cosy, Comfy Bed

Cosy Snuggly Bed

Hey! So, it's now undeniably cold, and I've been thinking about making a tutorial of *sorts*, or at least a set of tips, about this for a while now. When I first moved in, my focus was on making a cosy pretty bed, because when your main space is your bedroom, I feel like how it looks and feels makes a big difference. Especially now it's cold and my flatmates are curbing my central heating usage (our first bill came and everyone is freaking out) the focus is definitely on being nice and warm. 

My first choice was a super-king size quilt for my humble double bed. For me there is nothing worse than having your pretty room ruined by seeing all the ugly under-bed storage. It's also fantastic for being able to wrap yourself up in.

Layers: Another thing I hate is beds with just the duvet on. They make me think of uni halls and little kids Ben Ten bed covers. In my - potentially snobby - opinion you need at least one eiderdown (throw/blanket/etc) Not only does it make your bed look way more 'made' but all those layers keep me a lot warmer than one thick duvet which is only about 4 or 5 tog. I fell in love with my smaller, floral throw in a charity shop and after washing it thoroughly, I like to drape it haphazardly over the top of my bed to stop it looking so formally 'made' - often times just pulling the duvet up and re-fluffing the cushions makes it look more inviting than having every blanket perfectly aligned. Not only blankets, but I feel it's important to layer cushions and pillows. I like a minimum of four pillows on a double bed and when I moved in I bought a brand new set - one set for sleeping, one set to look pretty. I think 'lots of cushions' goes without saying. 

Cosy Snuggly Bed
I do take one tip from hotels, or maybe just Americans - I feel like this is a more american approach to bedding, going by Pinterest and what I see in movies. I like to have a loose, un-elasticated sheet over my elasticated sheet to sleep under as well as my duvet. It keeps the duvet clean, is easy to wash and adds another layer against the cold. 

Tk Maxx is your friend - I know there's some hate for this store, and honestly in the clothes section I tend to agree - I feel like the place is supplemented with cheaply produced 'outlet' items such as the 'Mod Box' section - but you can't deny the wonders of the 'home' section. They have so many thing there that I honestly can't think where else I would even look for them and it generally isn't expensive. I've requested a faux fur throw for my birthday because they have racks of beautiful ones, and I bought my green eiderdown and my new pillows from there. 

Finally, fairy lights - I will forever sing the praises of fairy lights - I've had them in my home my whole life, I had them at uni and I will have them for the rest of time! I love them outside of Christmas. I've talked before about levels of lighting before and when it gets dark I like to put a lamp and my fairy lights on for cosiness. I keep them over my bed so I can switch them off as i'm going to sleep.

I hope this post didn't seem too puerile and self congratulatory, and that maybe someone gleaned something useful from it! My bed is one of the prettiest parts of my room so I wanted to talk about it and hopefully give someone some homey inspiration.

Cosy Snuggly Bed