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

Shrove Tuesday February 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lauravw @ 1:55 pm

Are you having pancakes today? I made up a batch of Nigella’s home-made instant pancake mix on Sunday, so when I get home it’s simply a matter of mixing in milk and eggs and then cooking up a few pancakes.

The pancake mix makes enough for about four batches of pancakes (depending on how many people you’re feeding of course – there are two of us), so I bagged up some of the excess and gave it to friends and my parents. I was in a hurry and so didn’t have time for fancy presentation – it was simply a clear plastic bagged filled with white powder. Consequently people were suspicious about what I was giving them!

Happily the recipe is on Nigella’s website, along with a few others that would suit pancake day. Toppings-wise, we’re going traditional with lemon and sugar, but I also have a bottle of dulce de leche that I think will make for delicious pancakes, and I think I’ll also try Nutella. If you’ve any suggestions for pancake toppings, please leave a comment below – thanks!


Solving problems with sewing February 23, 2009

Filed under: Sewing — lauravw @ 7:21 pm

Alison at Domesticali introduces the haramaki, a garment that you can wear to eliminate that pesky issue of tummy show-through when your top is not long enough. This is SO clever, and such a simple project. I have a lovely brown stripey top that I no longer wear because it’s too short, but it’s so nice I’ve not been able to part with it either and so it hangs in my wardrobe like a lost soul. If I made a co-ordinating haramaki I could start wearing that top again…


Matte Stephens February 12, 2009

Filed under: Shopping — lauravw @ 9:57 pm

(Small snow update: by the end of yesterday, our garden had returned to its usual non-snow-covered state. And then this afternoon it started snowing again, and now everything is white again. Perhaps I am now justified in purchasing some pretty wellies to stomp around in? Perhaps not – I’m sure it will all melt if I order a pair.)

I’m happy to see on Print & Pattern that the US version of Urban Outfitters has some Matte Stephens prints on cushions. No sign of them at the UK store, but perhaps in time they will show up there.


Sanctuary Spa February 9, 2009

Filed under: Cosmetics,Shopping — lauravw @ 9:10 pm

sanctuaryOver the past few months I have been sampling more than my fair share of Sanctuary Spa toiletries – they keep having them on special offer in my local branch of Boots (the one I have to pass every day, on my way to and from work, and so often end up going in…). I’ve tried out both the bodycare and the facial skincare ranges, and there are some products I’ve liked more than others.

My absolute favourite is anything from the Mestizo range – sadly it only consists of three products at the moment, but I’m hoping they will do more because it smells lovely… I’m also very fond of the facewash, and managed to buy around half a dozen of these last year when Boots had a £5 off deal on – each one costs around £6, so it meant I could snap them up for £1 and feel very frugal. More recently I’ve tried the toner, which is OK (I’m not sure how you differentiate between bottles of toner, but it smells OK and makes your face feel fresh. As with the facewash, I got this for about £1 – I don’t think I’d be willing to pay £6 for it), and this weekend I bought eye gel (refreshing, but quite expensive) and face lotion (not sure about this yet – it doesn’t absorb into the skin very well, but looks OK once I’ve put my makeup on. I am reserving judgement for a week or two).

My mum has had problems with her nails spitting, and has found the nail oil to help with that issue – plus she likes the hand cream that goes with it. And another thing I like is the Mande Lular body scrub, which works well and comes in a generous sized pot.

Anyway, I’m telling you all this because it’s all on 3-for-2 at Boots at the moment  – so if you’re in the UK it’s something you can take advantage of. When I went in on Saturday I got a good deal – I also had a few coupons that got me extra loyalty points, and various other loyalty card wheezes that made me feel like I was some sort of bargain shopper extraordinaire. For example, the skincare range is not labelled as being part of the offer in my local branch, but it is on the website, and when I took my purchases to the till, the woman who served me was surprised to see it register the discount.

But then I found out that I had only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my bargain hunting in Boots – there’s a whole community of customers who refer to their bargain-hunting ways as Bootsing! I found this out because it occurred to me that the deals I had found on Saturday were so good that there might be information on other such deals on the forums at the Money Saving Expert website – I had no idea just what level of information there would be, nor the amount of committment and ingenuity that people show when it comes to getting a discount on face cream. Here’s a sample post, which starts out by detailing this month’s offers – it has been viewed more than a quarter of a million times, and there are over three thousand comments on it. Clearly no-one in their right mind is going to read all three thousand comments just to find a few discounts on toiletries, but the post at the beginning was enough to get started. I popped in on my way home tonight and got a fancy bottle of conditioner, priced at £4.69, for £2.69 (using the £2 off haircare voucher they’ve been giving away with purchases recently) – but then the clever(ish) part was that I also got £1.50 worth of loyalty card points for it as well – because I put my card in the little loyalty card machine when I arrived and printed out an extra coupon for that. And then I got given ANOTHER £2 off haircare voucher, so I can do the whole thing all over again next time I’m passing. It’s a good job I have plenty of space to store my growing collection of fancy bodywashes and haircare products…


Snowed in February 6, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lauravw @ 4:04 pm

snowIt has been a long, snow-filled week, and I’ll be glad to see the back of the icy pavements and slushy roads when it finally melts (no sign of that yet though).

Where we are it started snowing on Sunday night, and was treacherous by the time I set off for work on Monday morning – I eventually managed to get a bus for part of the way (I usually walk, but the pavements were so slippy that I thought at any minute I would fall over). The snow didn’t even start to melt until late on Wednesday, but when I saw it was disappearing I felt a great sense of relief at the thought of an easy walk to work the next morning. But then we woke up on Thursday morning to several inches of fresh snow, and a blizzard. Marvellous. Actually, walking to work that day was quite fun – the snow was so fresh (and still falling) so it wasn’t icy underfoot. I took a detour through a local park to take pictures, and felt intrepid. (One thing I don’t have a picture of but wish I did was the snowman my mum made – I’ve not seen it, but she tells me he has satsumas for eyes, an orange coloured scarf and a baseball cap.)

Today I had plans to meet up with friends for lunch, and another friend for tea and cake – but some of us are still snowed in, and others don’t want to go out on the now very icy pavements, and so I’ve stayed indoors all day. I managed to make some cookies, using a recipe published on Love Those Cupcakes – they are pretty good, but the phone rang while they were in the oven and as a result I ended up leaving them baking for a little longer than they needed. I’ll have to try the recipe again another day and pay more attention to the oven next time.