• Archive for October, 2009

    Make spicy pumpkin soup

    by  • 30/10/2009 • Eating • 0 Comments

    Hallowe’en wouldn’t be Hallowe’en without pumpkin soup – and this is the recipe I’ll be using this year. It’s wonderfully deep-flavoured with a hint of spice. Serve it in your own homemade scooped-out pumpkin ‘bowls’.

    FOR 8 SERVINGS YOU WILL NEED

    8 pumpkins (for the ‘bowls’)

    1.5kg pumpkin, edible variety

    50g unsalted butter

    2 onions, roughly chopped

    3 garlic cloves, chopped

    Several sprigs thyme

    1 tsp each of cumin and fennel seeds, lightly crushed

    800ml vegetable or chicken stock

    150ml single cream

    Salt and black pepper

    Freshly ground nutmeg

    1 Make the ‘bowls’ on the same day you make the soup. Cut around the stalk end of each pumpkin, remove the top and scoop out the seeds and flesh. Leave plenty of flesh around the sides and base to keep the soup hot and prevent leaks. Scrape around the inside again with a metal spoon to make sure it is completely clean.

    2 To make the soup, cut the edible pumpkin flesh into small chunks, discarding the seeds and cutting away the skin. Set aside. 

    3 Melt the butter in a large saucepan and gently fry the onions for 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, thyme and seeds and fry for a further minute. Add the vegetable or chicken stock and chopped pumpkin, and heat until simmering. Cover with a lid and cook very gently for 25 to 30 minutes until the pumpkin is very soft.

    4 Blend the soup in a blender until smooth. Return to a clean pan. 

    5 Stir in the cream and season, adding a little water if the soup is too thick. Ladle into the pumpkin bowls, sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.

    COOK’S TIP Use the smaller, sweeter varieties of pumpkin for cooking. The larger ones sold for jack-o’-lanterns tend to have flavourless, watery flesh that is usually discarded.

    Don't you just love pumpkins...

    Don't you just love pumpkins...

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    Cabbages and Roses hits Jigsaw

    by  • 29/10/2009 • Living, Out and About • 0 Comments

    British lifestyle brand Cabbages & Roses has launched its gorgeous home collection into 10 Jigsaw stores nationwide. Designer Christina Strutt, well-known for the faded florals that are perfect for relaxed country homes, has created a charming assortment of accessories, from cushions to bags to pretty box files.

    Two of my favourite brands in one place – perfect! 

     

    Cabbages and Roses

    Cabbages and Roses

     

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    Jane Brocket

    by  • 28/10/2009 • Crafting, Eating • 1 Comment

    If you haven’t already discovered this blog you’re in for a treat. Jane Brocket is the author of The Gentle Art of Domesticity, Ripping Things to Do and Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer, inspirational books about important things like family and friends, crafts and baking. I love her blog – it’s a reflection of her cheery and practical take on life and she has a wonderful eye for detail and colour. Just check out this spectacular late-blooming dahlia in her garden:

    Jane Brocket's stunning late dahlia

    Jane Brocket's stunning late dahlia

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    Artisan hits the High Street

    by  • 27/10/2009 • Living • 2 Comments

    There’s a lot of excitement buzzing around our Decorating Team as Anthropologie opens its first UK store this week in London, with an online shopping service due to follow shortly. Coming over from the US, where there are 130 stores, Anthropologie is a homewares emporium stocked full of creative, mismatched delights, from handmade doorknobs to folk-inspired soft furnishings, and decorative tableware to vintage-style kitchenalia and cookbooks. Take a look, it’s all gorgeous…

    A small taster of Anthropologie's collection.

    A small taster of Anthropologie's collection.

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    Autumn days

    by  • 26/10/2009 • Out and About • 0 Comments

    I just had to post this picture sent to me by Ben Hall, who has an exhibition of his amazing wildlife photography at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum, until 15 November.

    ‘My approach to wildlife photography lies in the creative art of “seeing”, says Ben. ‘I regularly use the technique of “pre-visualisation”, where I will picture an image in my mind before attempting to photograph it.’ It can take Ben weeks or even months to capture this ‘vision’, and often finds him returning to the same locations again and again in an attempt to capture the perfect shot. Really beautiful!

    Ben Hall's amazing wildlife photography

    Ben Hall's amazing wildlife photography

    The Grosvenor Museum is open Monday to Saturday 10.30am to 5pm and Sunday 1pm to 4pm, and admission is free.

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    Clocks

    by  • 23/10/2009 • Living • 2 Comments

    A very old clock that belonged to Justin’s father has returned home from the  restorers. As long as I have known this rather unusual looking timepiece it has never made a sound, but now on the hour and half hour we are treated to a bell-like tinkling chime.

    At first I thought, ‘Oh I can’t cope with that tingng away at all hours of the day and night!’ but, in just a few short days, it has become part of the rhythm of the house: aurally telling me when to leave the house in the morning; the hour in the middle of the night when one of my sons gets up. I rather like it! It seems a much gentler way of knowing the time than the hard red glare of a digital clock.

    Well… clocks go back tomorrow. And while the prospect of shorther days does not appeal, at least I know that the magical chimes of our clock is counting down the minutes, the hours and the days to all the fun occasions to come… Hallowe’en and Bonfire night.

    I don’t have a picture of our clock but I love this one that I saw recently…

    Cuckoo clock from Laura Ashley

    Cuckoo clock from Laura Ashley

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    Homemade Advent calendar

    by  • 21/10/2009 • Crafting • 2 Comments

    I came across this inspired idea for a homemade Advent calendar cum treasure hunt game the other day and just had to pass it on… It comes from American blog  Just Something I Made by ‘crafter blogger’ and graphic designer Cathe Holden. String up spent cotton reels (or just place in a row along your mantel), and wind round and glue a paper tag with a number to each one. On each tag leave enough space to write instructions for where to find a little present… Cathe has even provided PDF downloads of the tags so all you need to do is visit the blog and print and cut them out. Start collecting your spent cotton reels now!

     

    Unwrap the labels to find clues to hidden presents...

    Unwrap the labels to find clues to hidden presents...

    String up with twine and beads...

    String up with twine and beads...

    Visit Cathe's blog to download your labels

    Visit Cathe's blog to download your labels

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    Morning Stanley…

    by  • 19/10/2009 • Living • 1 Comment

    In need of something to make me smile this morning (we have all been a bit poorly over the weekend) this Stanley Stag Cushion has everything you need to make you feel good. It’s from Pheasant, a lovely online shop, that sells gorgeous things handcrafted in Yorkshire.  The smart stag is free-machine embroidered onto wonderful vintage velvet, with co-ordinating tan brown corduroy reverse, filled with a traditional feather pad.

    Stanley Stag Cushion, from Pheasant, £68

    Stanley Stag Cushion, from Pheasant, £68

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    National Chocolate week

    by  • 15/10/2009 • Eating • 4 Comments

    As if we didn’t need an excuse, this is the perfect time to bake chocolate treats as it’s National Chocolate Week. We’ve started the day in the office with a delicious home-made flourless chocolate cake – thanks to our lovely Decorating Assistant, Tamara! Here is the recipe…

    250g unsalted butter

    250g dark chocolate [we used Green & Blacks cooks chocolate]

    5 medium-sized eggs

    250g Golden caster sugar

    Topping

    200g Dark chocolate

    100ml Double cream

    Start by melting the Chocolate and the butter in a bowl, set over a simmering pan. Separate egg yolks & whites, whisk the yolks with half the sugar until pale and double the volume.

    Next, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff, then add the remaining sugar a table spoon at a time. Then fold the melted chocolate & butter mixture into the bowl with the yolks & sugar. Then, add the egg whites- making sure you gently fold the mixture together.  

    Pour the chocolate mixture into a loose bottomed greased cake tin [W20cm x D10cm], pop into a pre heated oven [180C, fan oven] & bake for 60 mins. Check with a skewer  for moist crumbs in the middle. When ready remove and leave to cool [in tin]. Once cooled, place on a serving dish or cakestand ready to glaze.

    For the topping, melt the Chocolate & the cream in a bowl over a simmering pan, then drizzle over the entire cake. Leave for an hour or two to set, if you can resist the temptation…

    Mmmmm!

    Mmmmm!

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    Vintage Magpie

    by  • 14/10/2009 • Crafting, Living • 0 Comments

    Nicky Fraser made the move to the country six years ago and never looked back, swapping London for the rolling hills of Devon. Nicky is mum to three children and enjoys looking after them while creating a lovely home, shopping for vintage-style interiors, rummaging for antiques, sewing, knitting… and updating us all on her lovely blog, The Vintage Magpie.

    And when Nicky’s not busy looking after her family, she drives to her pretty studio where she makes beautiful old-fashioned bears from mohair and wool for her online shop. It’s well worth dropping by…

    Nicky's journey to her studio

    Nicky's journey to her studio through Devon countryside

    The Vintage Magpie studio

    The Vintage Magpie studio

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