Finding work for idle hands: making, baking and more.

Homemade cereal January 25, 2009

Filed under: Food — lauravw @ 4:24 pm

Vanilla pecan granolaOne of my most useful cookbooks is the Big Book of Vegetarian, by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley – the only thing that could be improved about it would be the addition of photographs of the recipes. Today I made the spiced vanilla granola, and as a result the whole house smells like a bakery now.

It’s an easy recipe to make, involving oats, pecans, a lot of sugar (I always knew cereals had plenty of sugar in, but when you make your own and see just how much, you’ll be astonished) and vanilla and nutmeg, amongst other things. We now have a big jar of it sitting on the counter – I am looking forward to breakfast time…


RSPB Garden Birdwatch 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lauravw @ 3:45 pm

As in 2007 and 2008, we spent an hour this weekend counting up the little feathered visitors to our garden. I didn’t realise when I wrote about this last year that I had also written about it the year before – it seems 2007 was a successful year for us in terms of the bird watch, while I remember feeling a bit disappointed with our figures from last year.

For posterity, here’s what we saw today:

  • 2 blackbirds
  • 1 blue tit
  • 1 coal tit
  • 1 dunnock
  • 1 great tit
  • 1 greenfinch
  • 3 magpies
  • 2 robins
  • 6 starlings
  • 1 wren

You can find out more about the event on the RSPB site.


How to make Benetint

Filed under: Cosmetics,Crafts — lauravw @ 3:31 pm

Sitting reading The Times yesterday, I read a recipe that could prove useful if the situation with the economy gets any worse: how to make your own Benetint:

“You need 45g of grated raw beetroot and three tablespoons of glycerine (which you can get for £3.90 for 100ml at Neal’s Yard Remedies). Combine the two in a double-boiler (or bain-marie) and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool and pour into a sterilised pot. Dab onto the apples of your cheeks, blending well, or use as a lip stain.”

The recipe comes from The Ultimate Natural Beauty Book, by Kyle Cathie.


S’mores January 13, 2009

Filed under: Food — lauravw @ 10:42 am

S'moresWhen we were on holiday last year, we were able to experience the American (and Canadian – though we were in the US at the time) tradition of  making s’mores.

Fast forward to Christmas, and amongst our parcels we received an interesting package from our friends Megan and Scott containing the ingredients to make some at home. Most excitingly, the marshmallows they sent were vegan. (I am vegetarian and so try to avoid products containing gelatine. Truth be told I do sneak the occasional marshmallow though…)

We lit a fire in the fireplace and set about toasting some of the marshmallows. I think we were pretty successful – the s’mores we made were delicious. Megan also sent instructions for making Rice Krispie Treats – these were amazing and we got through them very quickly. We still have a few marshmallows left and there are plans afoot for some rocky road bars and maybe some more s’mores next time the fire is lit…


Orla Kiely January 12, 2009

Filed under: Shopping — lauravw @ 8:25 pm

Doubtless you’ve already seen this by now, but Orla Kiely has done a line of goods for Target – details at Door Sixteen and SF Girl By Bay.. She’s also done some new products for her own website.


Nutella! January 11, 2009

Filed under: Food — lauravw @ 4:20 pm

Happy new year! Those of you who made new year resolutions involving weight loss might want to skip this post…

Still here? Nutella! Isn’t it marvellous? I have a big jar of the stuff in the kitchen cupboards, and a spare one tucked away just in case it runs out – I think my mother operates a similar system so my love of Nutella is possibly genetic.

Anyway, if you too are a fan, you may find this recipe for Nutella brownies inspiring. And then you may also find whole new ways to eat Nutella in this post on Ask Metafilter. Since reading that post I have tried Nutella on my morning porridge, and it was pretty good. (But mostly, I just eat a teaspoonful straight from the jar. As a child, I used to eat it spread on digestive biscuits, which is possibly a little more grown-up than the way I eat it now…)

In one of my cookbooks there is a brief history of Nutella – it’s in Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey, which, aside from the fact that it is filled with yummy recipes, is one of the most beautifully designed books I own. It tells the story of how Nutella came to be invented in Italy just after World War 2:

“Ferrero’s confection became a part of everyday life. It became so popular, neighbourhood food stores started to keep a big jar on the counter and school children would run in with pieces of toasted bread and buy a ‘smear’ for a few lire as an afternoon snack.”


Not long now January 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lauravw @ 8:24 pm

“I’ll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office.”

The BBC has published a great list of Bushisms to celebrate the last few days of W’s presidency.They also point the way to a more complete list on Slate.

“First, let me make it very clear, poor people aren’t necessarily killers. Just because you happen to be not rich doesn’t mean you’re willing to kill.”

Don’t forget to turn the lights off on the way out, George!