Monday, 28 February 2011

Restorative miso soup...

After a heavy weekend, I always crave lovely healthy things, like this big bowl of miso soup with stir-fried veg and wholewheat noodles. Yum!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

A fun night out...

...and a silly little prize! I'm actually building up quite a little collection of wind-up toys, having somehow managed to keep the wind-up robin I got in my cracker at our work Christmas lunch!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Chocolate fudge cake...

Whatever happened to chocolate fudge cake? A few years ago it was on every pub menu, and now it seems to have fallen out of fashion. I still love it, though, and Pizza Express do a very nice one (especially when it's practically free as part of a £12.95 three-course voucher deal!)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

It's a sign you're getting older...

...when you start lusting after kitchen appliances. The 'Start' button on my trusty microwave is going - you have to creep up on it and surprise it, or rub your finger on it until it magically starts working, or try to fool it by pressing 'Stop' a couple of times before stabbing the 'Start' button. And it just so happened that this week's Stylist magazine featured a little snippet about the Whirlpool Max microwave.

How cool is that? It'll fit into a corner, which would be a godsend in my tiny kitchen - my current microwave takes up about two-thirds of the only work surface I have. And it has a steamer function, and a grill! People can be a bit sniffy about microwaves, as if owning one means you eat nothing but supermarket ready meals, but that's not the case at all - I use mine for making porridge, heating up my own homemade things and leftovers, and for steaming veg (hence why the idea of the steamer function excites me!)

It's around £115, which is quite a lot for a microwave, but I think it's fab. I wish my birthday wasn't so far away!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Happy kitchen accidents...

Last night's supper was a real 'let's clear out the fridge' job. I had half a carton of passata left over from Saturday's Quorn bolognese, some slightly slimy portobello mushrooms, a couple of peppers and a tin of chick peas. So I threw it all together with some onion, chilli and a bit of that Zanzibar spice mix my friend Leonie gave me - and it was honestly one of the nicest things I've ever made! I had it with some Quorn sausages (which had also been languishing in the freezer for far too long) and felt extremely frugal and virtuous!

Frugal February: Week Two

Yep, we're two weeks in, and I think things are going well so far! I did buy a pair of gloves on Sunday, but that was an emergency (I thought the weather was going to be warmer than it actually was, so I didn't bring my gloves, and my hands froze) and the gloves I bought were £1 from Petticoat Lane market, so it hardly counts!

Today is pay day, and usually I'd 'treat myself' to a look around the shops and a couple of purchases. But not this month! I'm being sorely tempted by a couple of things, namely a pair of boots in the Clarks sale (half price and utterly gorgeous, but should I really be buying knee-high leather boots when March is just around the corner?) and a dress in the Oasis sale (again, gorgeous, but I don't need to buy it) but I'm resisting! I do need to go to the shops this evening, because I've run out of hair stuff, but I will only be buying the two hair products I actually need. And I have a double points voucher for Boots.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

A Day Out...

My friend Pete and I like going on days out where we wander round exploring London and looking at little-known curiosities (and occasionally some well-known ones). Today we roamed all over Southwark, the City and the East End, and we saw Ai Weiwei's sunflower seeds, the abandoned St Dunstan's church, a few bits of London Wall that I hadn't seen before, some interesting streets around Brick Lane and Spitalfields, and all sorts of other things! And we had enormous burgers from Byron in the new One New Change shopping centre (and Byron's famous courgette fries, too, which were very nice indeed).

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Porridge and apple...

After last weekend's crumble I had a Bramley apple lurking in the fruit bowl. The other week, I met my mum for breakfast in Ealing and we had the most gorgeous creamy porridge topped with stewed apple and cinnamon. So I decided to recreate that at home, only with a golden syrup Oatso Simple sachet. I just stewed the apple with a bit of mixed spice and a splash of water, and it made a lovely topping for my porridge - and there's enough left for tomorrow too!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Roasted squash...

I had half a small squash in the fridge, and I wanted to make something involving pasta. So I decided to roast the squash (I just cut it in half, scooped out the seeds and put it in the oven) and then when it was all lovely and squidgy and roasted, I scraped the yummy squash off the skin and mixed it with some leeks, garlic, nutmeg, black pepper and extra-light cream cheese. It might not look all that pretty but it was gorgeous with spinach and ricotta tortellini and a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Frugal February: Week One

So I've been trying to be frugal for a whole week now, and I think it's gone fairly well. I haven't bought any new clothes, which is a major achievement - last Wednesday I forgot to bring socks to wear for Pilates, but I went to Peacocks and bought the cheapest pair of socks they had. Which happen to have zebras on them!

I did spend money at the pub with some people from work on Thursday, and then on Saturday I bought some tile paint, a sanding block and a paintbrush to paint the tiles around my kitchen sink with. Fair enough, that was spending I didn't need to do. The tiles do look fab, though. I want to do the rest of the kitchen now but that would involve doing things like moving the cooker and the fridge and I don't think I'm up for tackling that!

I've done quite well with food shopping, too - I had a friend round for supper on Sunday, and when I went to Tesco to do my 'big ingredients shop' I feared the worst. But in fact I spent less than £7.50 and for that I got carrots, coriander seeds and crème fraiche for my carrot and coriander soup, buttermilk for my soda bread (I already had the flours, egg, bicarb and walnuts), apples and custard for my apple crumble, cucumber for my gin and tonic (Hendricks, of course) and crisps for nibbling. I didn't think that was too bad! I'm going to have egg and beans on toast for supper tonight - Wednesday night is Pilates night, and I usually pop to the little Tesco on the corner afterwards, but as I already have eggs, beans and bread at home, there isn't really any need to do that!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Still light at 5pm!

Yes, I know. I've posted umpteen photos banging on about how light (or otherwise) it is when I leave work. But when I look back to this time last year, it's quite fun seeing the days gradually getting lighter! And it reminds me that, although it's cold and grey and wet and miserable now, one day it'll be light when I get home in the evenings! And then it'll be spring!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Valentine's Day...

I spent my Valentine's Day with a tubular hound and lots of pink fizz. And some lovely friends. It was a most excellent evening!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Adventures in bread making...

Excuse the seriously awful photo - it was quite late and I'd had half a bottle of wine! But this is my very first attempt at breadmaking. And (if I do say so myself) it was a total success! I'm a bit scared of yeast (and couldn't be bothered spending hours letting dough prove and whatnot) so I started off with a simple brown soda bread recipe from Rachel Allen. If you click on that link, ignore the bit that talks about needing a tart tin - I think that's crept in from another recipe! Her recipe suggests adding seeds as an optional extra - I didn't have any seeds, but I did have walnuts and they made a really lovely addition to the bread. I'll definitely be making this one again!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

What a difference a week makes...

Last Monday I was excited because there was still a tiny bit of light in the sky when I left work. Look at it now! There was even the tiniest bit of light around when I got home!

Frugal February...

I stumbled across the idea of Frugal February on Gemma's excellent Big Girls Browse blog. And, after the month or so I've had, it definitely appealed to me! I seem to have done nothing but spend money since Christmas - some of it justified, like spending money on a fabulous weekend visiting my sister, and buying a couple of new dresses and a new pair of jeans that actually fit me now I've lost weight, but I can't keep on buying things. I find it really easy to fall into the trap of spending money that I really shouldn't ('Oh, but it's in the sale! But I don't have a pair of blue shoes! But it's nearly spring, I'll need a few more dresses!') and I'm hoping that participating in Frugal February will help me rein in my shopaholic tendencies. For a while, anyway!

The rules are simple. For a month, starting today, I won't be spending any money on non-essential items. Food and drink don't count, obviously - although I will be trying to think more carefully about what I buy. Do I really need that bottle of wine? Do I really need to buy a whole load of things for dinner when there's pasta in the cupboard? And I'll buy toiletries and cosmetics - when I run out of what I already have.

If you want to join in, head over to Gemma's blog!

Monday, 7 February 2011

A new Moomin mug...

I couldn't resist treating myself to another Moomin mug to add to my collection - I thought this one, featuring Moomintroll, was fab.

Saturday, 5 February 2011


February 5th is Runeberg's Day in Finland, which celebrates the birthday of poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg. He's Finland's national poet, and it just so happens that he used to live in a house on the site of the very building where my sister now lives! So we just had to indulge in some of the special cakes that are sold to commemorate his day. They're little sponge cakes (this one had nuts in it, but I also had one with no nuts, and others are flavoured with cardamom or soaked in alcohol) with jam and icing on top, and they're yummy!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Tervetuloa Helsinkiin

If my Finnish (more like my Google Translate) skills are correct, that's welcome to Helsinki...
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