Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Homebrew ... Let's Get Started

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 The Simple Things September

A venture I've undertaken this year, and invested a small sum in is home brewing. It started on a countryside walk out with Cece, where we noticed lots of wild blackberries growing. 
I picked a first crop which got used in a crumble recipe. After some discussions with my family about all the old homebrew that was made through generations in our family, I figured… why not?! 

As I was prepping for this blog post, in The Simple Things magazine, there is a whole page on hedgerow fruits so I had to include it!
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Where can you find fruits for homebrew? 
… Anywhere! Fruits often grow on the roadside, and are discouraged to picking for consumption due to pollution from vehicles etc. Walk a bit off the roadside, to parks, riversides etc & you should find some fruit!

For the sugared blackberries below, I did a bit of a cheat's method to fruity homebrew.
Blackberry infused vodka… simply heat up in a saucepan with water & sugar to make a fruit sugar syrup, then mix in with some vodka! I've done this time and time again for lemons to make Limoncello, so it was time to try something new! It is so simple and easy to make yet tastes amazing.
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You can even homebrew in inner London… these Rosehips I found down by the canal by Broadway market! Homebrew isn't just for country bumpkins! 

So far we've made: 
Blackberry Wine
Elderberry Wine
Rose Petal Wine
Mirrabell Plum & Elderberry Wine 

The above has cost me about £5 in sugar, and the starter equipment we brought (which was minimal and thrifted in places) cost around £50 … the above is making around 30 full size bottles + of wine! So for starters we've already made our money back! 

Our next ventures are mead & raspberry wine… and really whatever we find. My next homebrew installment will be equipment, and a starter recipe! 
In the mean time, you should try making a fruit based vodka… minimal equipment and literally takes minutes to make! 

Have you ever home-brewed before? 
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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Hackney City Farm

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Whilst on my London day out to the The Cornershop, I took huge advantage of being in East London and visited many places including Hackney City Farm.  photo London042_zps4eee3678.jpg
The farm is full of so many gorgeous little quirks! For a Saturday morning, the farm was reasonably busy. I adored the colour scheme … bottle green & mustard yellow is definitely the way forward this autumn!
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The chickens were running around freely, which was lovely especially as the children visiting with their parents around us clearly loved seeing the animals up close! I was particularly impressed with the Chicken Dust Spa! For somebody with an ambition to one day have chickens, it was lovely to see such a nice set up for a local community farm.
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There was a little indoor section which housed some rabbits, guinea pigs & we could hear chicks, but unfortunately couldn't see them!
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Through a gate was an open farm area. All the animals were mixed in together, and was happily grazing! You honestly wouldn't expect East London to have such a pretty, countryside space!
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The farm has a cafe, which seemed very busy & a little farm shop which sold souvenirs as well as locally produced honey & veg!
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I'm so pleased I took the time to visit Hackney City Farm. If you are in East London for the day it is definitely worth stopping by. Overall we were probably on the farm for about thirty minutes. If you have children you could spend a bit longer, and it's definitely worth the up close & personal visit with the animals!

What farms would you recommend?

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Monday, 15 September 2014

Happy Mondays

News Flash! Happy Mondays is back, but with a bit of a new flavour to it!

For ages it has been in my head that I want somewhere to share all of the links, posts, photos … odds & ends that have made me happy, or I've found useful & worth a good read. At first I thought, I'd add it in to my simple pleasures series. Then I had the brain wave… re-think the old Happy Mondays from my old blog Sitting Pretty, and turn it into something new!

Blog Posts
Honestly these past two weeks I haven't read my normal bunch of blogs I would normally read… being back at 'school' and 'uni' all in one go is ridiculously tiring. Luckily I've sorted a routine, which will incorporate blogging properly back into it! On the plus side, I have a load of fantastic posts stocked up from over the summer which I loved…

♥ Becky's Florida Harry Potter Wedding … just bloody wow! I'd been waiting to read about Becky's wedding post for ages, and after finally catching up on all her posts, I found this and was so happy and wowed by it all! Becky's wedding outfit is the perfect combination of Harry Potter, Wedding-ness & Theme Park too!
♥ Carrie's engagement over on Wish Wish Wish made me smile so much! How cute!
♥ Ella's wedding post ... the first time I ever spoke to Ella, it was about wedding planning on Twitter. I've loved reading her blog ever since, and am so pleased she has a date set! I cannot wait to see future wedding posts over on She & Life!
♥ Megan's Little Mermaid Cosplay & Frozen Cosplay have ignited my Disney love again, and I quite want to look at planning a Cosplay outfit for some time in the future … Megan's outfits really just look so perfect to each character!
♥ I was so overjoyed to hear that Rock n Roll Bride is becoming a national monthly magazine & that Gala has a book coming out! Since attending the Blogcademy Mixer, signing up to some Homeschool modules as well as reading through all the Blogcademy headmistresses blogging advice posts, I've been seriously inspired, and I think their success is so well deserved! It's ridiculous how far blogs can go from being a draft on a computer screen to worldwide successes! I cannot wait for both to come out!
♥ Stereotypical Rockabilly Girl  style from ReeRee… I'm completely in love with her t shirt in this post.
♥ Hannah's craft swap post rounding up what she sent (to me!) & received was wonderful. I was seriously so grateful for all her wonderful gifts & I can't wait to take part in this months swap!

On the T'Internet 

♥ Proof that all Celebrity Men Should Grow a Beard Immediately … aka the best buzz feed ever. I just drooled the whole way through.
♥ The Vivien of Holloway Facebook page is so fantastic in so many ways. The 50s & vintage dresses on their website are just outright stunning, but following Vivien of Holloway on Facebook, with their constant updates of their customers in their clothes are so lovely to see, and a daily reminder to dress wonderfully as much as possible.
♥The Flimsymoon Kickstarter is underway. As I'm typing the project already has 99 backers, but still has some way to go. Some of the pieces are so darling, and all photographs of different backing prices are on the page. My favourite has to be the bespoke embroidered bag & french knickers.

Shopping Loves
Being back at university is scary, as I don't have a huge regular pay check anymore but hello student loan! I've used this opportunity to buy some winter staples from my wardrobe as well as treat myself to some pieces I've had my eye on.

♥ I've been eyeing up dresses on Vintage Style Me for ages. I'd fallen head over heels for the Heritage Smock Dress which popped up on my Twitter feed, and after lusting after the Tartan Smock Dress since god knows when, I popped an order through… totally acceptable need for my work wardrobe!
♥ I kind of have this little addiction to an app called Depop … one blogger who I love buying from is Ellie from Pretty Much Penniless. Ellie posts loads on her Depop, mostly lots of vintage lovelies… this weekend I brought the fur shawl, What Katie Did Waspie & deputy head girl badge … her Depop name is prettymuchellie & you should definitely check it out.
♥ This Joules Knitted Cape is so perfect for Autumn/Winter.
♥ After entering Sarah's amaaaazing blogiversary giveaway … I had this obsession with looking at La La Land's website. I ordered a few a lot of bits from the website including this necklace (don't ever show me something with a sunflower on it… it's dangerous!), a Ryan Gosling inspired 'The Notebook' , Game of Thrones Temporary Tattoos to fulfil my inner Lannister, and the fact I want the lion tattoo in real life so it's a perfect way to see whether it'll suit, as well as a variety of Popcult Pencils (ahem Clueless/ Mean Girls / It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia). I love this Charlie Kelly print too!
♥ A 90s Clueless t shirt, fur ear muffs and H&M floral trousers… all eBay & Depop finds.

Odds & Ends … the personal happy moments. 
♥ Having a car crash week (I had to get a taxi to work one day due to buses not showing up!) … but having ridiculously wonderful support to get through it all.
♥ Winning a sweet hamper from Hope & Greenwood completely gorging on the Clotted Cream Fudge and realising years ago when me & my Dad attempted fudge … we thought we got it wrong when actually we made it perfectly. Newsagents fudge in the wrappers … not real fudge guys! I am for sure ordering myself a couple of boxes and going to try the Salt Caramel Fudge too.
♥ Receiving my Kate Spade glitter phone case.
♥ Being told I'm now 'sophisticated' by the pupils at work!
♥ Visiting the garden centre, looking around the Christmas section, seeing Reindeer, stocking up on plants & shopping at the farm shop, where everything is super cheap, free range, out of this world quality. Honestly, if you have a farm shop near you, shop local it is so worth it!
♥ Starting a new education blog to assist my training studies. If there are any teacher bloggers out there, say hi! I'll send you my link!
♥ Being gifted a gorgeous cake stand due to my love of the Great British Bake Off.
♥ Strictly Come Dancing with Max Branning on it … #weirdcrushalert
♥ Although I've taken a bit of a backseat with blogging, and I don't really think much of 'blogging milestones' with terms to followers, it was nice to get an e-mail notifying me of 250 followers… so thank you all so much! It really means a lot that you lot all read this space, and I have lots planned for the upcoming months (especially Christmas!) so watch this space!

This week I'm hoping will be wayyy more relaxed than the last few. Tomorrow I'm off to the Bloggers Love event in Leicester Square, which I'm so excited about since I had a blast at the last one! Then a week of intensive training at university then hopefully a relaxing weekend!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Carnaby, Bailey & Fitzrovia by London Retro

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 It's been back to school, well really work this week. At the moment I'm kind of going through this weird transition period at work, so I decided I wanted to get a new look going on (yes I have ordered a lot of New Girl-esque smock dresses, and have got the old Russell & Bromley loafers out as well  as rocking some black wedge heels where now I actually have some height to my 5ft 2 body!). 
I already owned 2 pairs of London Retro glasses (one of which is pictured above), but I decided some new frames were perfect for adding to a fresh new look. 
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I brought these frames from Glasses Direct a year or so ago, I have a pair in tortoiseshell & a pair in black. These are the Fitzrovia frames.  
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I can't remember where I saw the Carnaby frames first, but all I can remember is when I saw them, I knew they had to be mine! These are one of my most recent purchases, and honestly I love them so much. The colour is just amazing, and I think it quite matches my red hair!  
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The Bailey design caught my eye as a sort of cross between geeky specs & 60s fashion. 
I wasn't sure how well these would suit me, but Glasses Direct offer a free second pair, and free returns so I thought I'd give it a go. I've seen other bloggers have a good success with the home trial too, where you can order 4 pairs of glasses to try then send back the ones you don't want. 

London Retro are by far my favourite brand for eyewear… they are statement, yet classic. 
What eyewear brands do you wear? 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Jam Tarts, Mini Victoria Sponge & Lemon Loafs

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Last month Mackays sent me some of their jams to try out… now as recipes go, I was a bit stumped on what to do at first, as usually for me jam goes on toast as an indulgent treat but I wanted to go a bit further than a bit of toast! After a bit of searching on Pinterest, I had some inspiration on what to do with my jams! 
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Jam tarts are a favourite in most British households so those were my first choice. I made Cherry Jam Tarts & Raspberry Jam Tarts. The jams are really thick, and crunchy in places, which I loved. The raspberry was by far my favourite! 
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I then decided to go with a Victoria Sponge Cupcake. The one thing I definitely need to work on with my baking is appearance. It's ridiculously hard however, getting the right height to the cake itself, as I have a traditional vintage gas oven, which has no window to see how the cakes are doing! I'm looking into one of those mini ovens specifically for baking, so I can create more even cakes! 
Apart from the presentation, the cake itself was delicious. The jam on top added this luxury to the simple vanilla buttercream, and these really didn't last long! 
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Since The Great British Bake Off hit the screens, I've become a bit addicted to baking once again! 

I made Lemon & Poppyseed Loaf Cakes, which turned out amazingly well! For Christmas, my Nan surprised me with this mini loaf tin from Lakeland. It costs £19.99 which seems expensive at first for a baking tin. I must say however, the cakes bake beautifully in it, and the quality is 5*. The tin is perfect for making cakes for gifts as well as indulgent bakes for yourself… you may think you'd eat more than one of these cakes, but the size is deceiving!
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I was most impressed with my icing for this cake, I used lemon juice instead of water for the icing, and it made the cake so much more lemony! 
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My next venture, as I mentioned in yesterdays post is macarons … the above were from Laduree, and were lovely. I'm on the search for the perfect utensils to make scrumptious macarons, so if you have any tips, please let me know! 

A huge thank you to Mackays for my lovely jams, which prompted my move back into baking! You can find their full range on their website … I'm keeping my eye out for Spiced Ginger, Blueberry & Blackcurrant, and Scottish Three Berry on my next trip to the supermarket! 
You can also follow them on Twitter, FacebookPinterest, and Instagram.

What have you been baking recently? 
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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Kate Spade, Glitter Rollers, Tea & Macarons

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This summer I've been fairly good at keeping my purse firmly zipped up and the bank cards hidden away… six weeks off work, means a lot of time spent browsing shops online, and days of opportunities to browse shops! 
I thought I'd round up some of the best finds I've got my mitts on this summer. 
First up in very back to school style, I found this Kate Spade bag on ASOS Marketplace. For £30, I was so pleased. When buying designer, I always check eBay, ASOS & Depop first. I've also been told to check out Vinted, not sure what luck anyone else has had before finding on there? I have a few key designer pieces, and I've never paid full price for them so far! Sometimes it's worth the wait! 
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This hat from Urban Outfitters came after seeing Carrie's initial instagram post, then blog post wearing this hat. I've been on search for the perfect hat for ages, and never found anything that suits me. Cue this hat! 
I wore it on my trip down by the river and to see McBusted (it was so handy when it rained ha!). I love it so much, and was the best £24 I've ever paid for headwear, and by far worth the wait to find the perfect hat! 
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Whilst up London the other week, I took a special trip to Covent Garden in pursuit of Laduree Macarons. I tried my first ever macaron at the Blogcademy Mixer Event, and I honestly haven't found a macaron that tastes as good yet! I loved the Laduree macarons, which were £14 for a box of 8. My favourite flavours were salted caramel & ice mint. I think they are definitely worth trying, but my new mission is by Christmas I want to perfect a macaron recipe! 
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After attending the Bloggers Love event earlier this year, I couldn't stop thinking about the Sleep In Rollers we saw there. Unfortunately we couldn't get a sample on the night, but after some searching I found this set for a bargain £10 on eBay! Once in, they look so glamourous… for sleeping! I've only tried them once so far, and curled by hair the wrong way! They were so easy to put in though, and comfy to sleep in … I've slept with velcro & plastic rollers in my hair before, so this was certainly a luxury! 
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Ever since seeing lots of other bloggers go on about how lovely Whittards Instant Tea was, for about a year, I'd been looking to try! On a shopping trip, I found a Whittard's where the instant tea was on 3 for 2! I thought at first £5.50 seemed a lot per tea, but online the photos are deceiving … the tubs are huge! Whittard's also do a taste test where if you don't like a flavour, you can take it back and swap it for another one! The customer service I received in Whittard's was amazing, and more importantly the teas taste amazing. I'll be taking the employee's advice at trying these in baking recipes too! 
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I brought these mugs from Next, after seeing them in their A/W catalogue. The Next home department products are awesome… I already have my house kitted out with a lot of the Sterling Check pieces (I just need the armchair now!). I saw these mugs and had brought them by the afternoon! They're not what I'd normally go for, but they have made a nice change to my vintage/floral mug cabinet! 
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The Vintage Tea Party Year I found for £10 in my local TK Maxx! It is an amazing book, with such glamourous photographs, and unique ideas for hosting the perfect party! 
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This YSL eyeliner I got for free, after spending some pennies off one of my favourite bloggers Depop account! I'd had my eyes on a YSL eyeliner for a while, and so this was a fantastic surprise when this showed up alongside my clothes! 
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I brought this little selection off of a blog sale, and it cost me around a fiver (and included a YSL pencil). The No7 sponges (and most of their accessories) are a good staple in my house. Lipcote I was curious to try as my lipstick never stays put during the day. The samples I got for free, which was great especially as I've always wanted to try Smashbox after hearing so many good reviews on it! 

What have you brought lately? My student loan comes in this week, which I'm excited about to go spending but at the same time, I'm saying goodbye to a monthly pay check for now so am half scared! I'm trying to compile a work/winter wardrobe, and still have some pennies leftover for a KitchenAid! 
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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Book Club … Summer Reads

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Over the summer, I really didn't get as much reading done as I thought I would if I'm being honest. The lovely Bee from Vivatramp, wrote this post on how to get out of a reading slump, and it's given me some good inspiration to read a bit more this September! The books in this post, I checked out from the library opposite my house, as I finally got around to joining! They've all been relatively easy reads … September it's time for more fiction reading (alongside tons of uni books!). 
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Flowers in Watercolour by Wendy Tait
This book is a fantastic little guide to painting your own watercolours. I love my watercolour sets, and it'd be a dream to create floral designs like in the book. My favourite was the sunflowers photographed at the top. 
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River Cottage Fruit Everyday by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall
This summer has been all about foraging & berry picking … this cookbook has a whole section dedicated to hedgerow recipes! There aren't many river cottage recipes that I wouldn't try (apart from the slugs one I saw on TV one time! My favourite recipe from this has to be the blackberry cake! 
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Craft by Kirstie Allsopp
I loved this craft book by Kirstie Allsopp. It featured some really well thought out ideas, and I loved reading all the sections on the country fairs! The sugar flowers is next on my list to try for when I get baking! 
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Homemade Gifts Vintage Style by Sarah Moore 
With Christmas around the corner I've been searching for ideas for presents already! This book was perfect for turning simple presents into homemade vintage ones with a luxury twist! If you come across this book, it is definitely worth a read! I'm going to give the cake stands a go, and the soaps wrapped in vintage paper! 

What have you been reading lately? 
Next month I'm hoping to find my way back into Game of Thrones! 

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Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Cornershop

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Last weekend, I made a special trip up to London, in pursuit of one place … The Cornershop! After reading about The Cornershop through a link on Facebook, then repeatedly coming across features in newspapers & online, as well as seeing other bloggers photos on Instagram,  it was the one place I had to visit this summer! 
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 The art installation was created by Lucy Sparrow and promotes the perfect mix of art & community. Lucy ran workshops during her one month installation at the shop for people from a wide variety of backgrounds… find more information here.
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 I was hugely surprised by the wide variety on offer at the Cornershop. I kept thinking one item was my favourite, then changed my mind to something else! 
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Dr Pepper… What's the worst that could happen? 
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 Household staples included Spam, Heinz Baked Beans & Bisto. 
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 Ritz crackers are a huge favourite of mine. I was also super surprised to see Heinz Ravioli, which is my 'brunch' staple when I'm at my family's house! 
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There was a wide range of alcohol & cigarettes, as well as magazines.  
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 I think it would be hard to not find something to love and take home from the Cornershop! I wanted to buy everything! It was such a nice little corner of East London to go and visit. I was surprised, for a weekend morning, that it was so busy! 
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 For a full product range, check out the shop here.
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Did you get to go down the The Cornershop this summer? I'd love to know your thoughts, or what item is your favourite?

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