Monday, 25 February 2013

If you say the word then I'll say goodbye

You might remember I mentioned in a post a while ago that I accidentally bought a lomography fish eye camera back in the January sales. The pictures from my first film weren't all fantastic, the only film I had at home was a redscale film which is better suited to the great outdoors when you're not playing with an SLR that you can change the settings on. The first two pictures were by far the best, due to the fact that it was a crazily bright snowy day. But still, they're not a bad little bunch. I like the red, grainy effect and the fact that there's a definite charm to these less than perfect snaps. It definitely makes a nice change from taking 'proper' photos. I've bought some different film this time which should be better as an all rounder to play with on nights out aswell as in the daytime so now I'm desperate to whizz through the film so I can see what they turn out like too.  

If you've got a fish eye or another lomography camera and have posted your pictures then send me the links, I like being nosy!

(Oh, and next time I might consider getting my film copied onto a cd when I get it developed... taking vaguely decent pictures of the photos proved pretty flipping difficult!)

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Don't throw your fortune away

I arrived home after work today to the most lovely treat ever. I found out at the weekend that I'd won Linda from Hey! Homewrecker's Love Birds giveaway and today was the day that the little parcel dropped through my letterbox. Linda is the queen of all things crafty and this little Love Birds picture is just too gorgeous (as soon as I'd torn through the paper I was straight in there knocking a nail into the wall for it to hang on opposite my bed). Check out her blog, its full of incredible crafty bits and bobs and beautiful colours and fabrics. Plus, as if the parcel wasn't amazing enough enough already, she also included a note inside the cutest illustrated card too (made by her sister), how perfect are those foxes?! AMAZING! 

And onto another crafty lady, my buddy Charlie made me this pretty lining for a basket that I bought a few weeks ago. It originally came with a blue and white gingham lining which reminded me a little too much of my old primary school summer dress, so we marched down to the market to pick something a bit less uniform and a bit more Kaz friendly. That's where my input into the basket ended... I have absolutely no sewing skills whatsoever. I used to sneak my textiles work home for my Mum to add to every week and then sit there pretending to thread needles every week in lessons (actually... I probably didn't need to pretend, it takes me about an hour to thread one anyway!). Luckily, Charlie's a lot better with a sewing machine than I am so happily stepped in to make this for me. Now I have a pretty place to store my hairdryer, make up bags, and a frisbee (not quite sure how that ended up in there). 

Lucky for me, there was just enough fabric left over for me to pretend to be good at making things too. I'd bought a frame on mine and Michelle's unromantic Valentine's day in Ikea last week and decided I could turn it into something fun. And voila, one frame (made in much the same way as the noticeboard we made a few weeks ago), lots of buttons and a lot of superglue later, this creation was formed. I'm a bit too haphazard and DIY inept to keep up with Linda and Charlie's work, but I did myself proud here. Even if the heart is a bit wonky and uneven if you look at it too closely. 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

We spit blood at the sun, spit blood in the ocean

I say this all the flipping time, but I REALLY REALLY LOVE WEEKENDS. 

As much as I do love my job, there's just nothing better than a weekend full of fun to let off some steam and escape the stressful real world for a few days. This weekend was filled with a few quiet drinks (which inevitably morphed into a full blown night out... we're just not grown up enough for quiet drinks yet), lots of shopping and catching up, plus a Mexican night with waaaay too much food and competitive tequila fuelled Mexican hat games. 

This weekend was a far cry away from the last, which was a far more sensible family affair in Edinburgh which you might have seen me post about earlier in the week here. As I was too busy dancing to my favourite music (and the Mexican hat dance) this weekend to think about taking pictures, I thought I'd share a few more pictures from Edinburgh and our visit to the National Museum of Scotland

We spent hours and hours in the museum and probably only went in about half of the rooms, there was just so much to take in- plus we spent half of the time on the roof terrace looking out over the castle and the city. I spent forever in the Animal World gallery, it was incredible being able to get so up close and personal with the animals (I definitely prefer getting inches away from a stuffed lion to a real one thank you very much... far less risk of becoming a delicious lion snack). Although having so much to look at did cause a bit of a safety hazard, I walked right into my Dad because I was so busy staring at the sharks hanging from the ceiling. Not sure how factually accurate they were mind you- I've never noticed any sharks or whales flying above my head in Leeds before, maybe I just don't look up at the sky often enough.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Iron Cupcake: Be My Valentine

Some of you might remember my last post about the monthly Iron Cupcake competition that takes place in Leeds. For those of you that don't know, its a monthly competition for bakers who are given the challenge of creating a set of cupcakes based around a given theme. Then fatties cake enthusiasts like me get to sample the selection and give marks to each cake based on their taste and appearance (not an easy task when there's such a talented bunch of bakers but someone's got to do it!). 

This month's theme was "Be My Valentine", and I was expecting table after table filled with pink, flowers and hearts and not a lot else. And, ok there were a lot of hearts. But they were all so beautifully presented that I didn't mind. Plus there were some slightly less traditional ideas floating around too, particularly the 'last rolo' cupcakes which I thought were a fab little idea (as far as I'm concerned, sharing your last rolo is what romance is all about!). There was another great take on this cheesy holiday from Charlie who made a savoury cupcake that was made of cheese upon cheese with a puff pastry cheese heart on top (the Valentine's cynic in me gave her the inspiration for that little number when moaning about the holiday!). 

This is just a little snippet of the cupcakes the bakers brought along, the full line up will be on the Iron Cupcake website if you fancy a gander. 

If you're in Leeds on the 10th March and enjoy cake as much as I do, then come along and judge- its a great excuse to allow yourself to eat a tonne of cake and not feel in the slightest bit guilty about it... after all you need to sample them all to be able to crown a winner, its only fair!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

And the walls kept tumbling down in the city that we love

With the exception of little old me over here in Leeds, the majority of my family all still live on or very near the Wirral. Since half of the family live within 5 minute walking distance from my parent's house (we're an adventurous bunch!) it doesn't leave many exciting places to explore as we just have to nip up the road whenever we want to see them. But I do have one Uncle who doesn't live in Merseyside, he lives up in Edinburgh. Without a doubt one of the best places I could possibly have a reason to visit on a fairly regular basis. Well done Uncle, great choice of city to make your home in.

Since we haven't all been up to see my Uncle together for a year or so we decided it would be a nice thing to do for my Mum's birthday. And, although I did go up to the 'Burgh back in August with my buddies, I really don't think I could ever tire of the city. Its flipping beautiful. In just a weekend we saw so much, going up Calton Hill, driving around Arthur's Seat (it was way too wet, cold and windy to even think about walking up there...), going up to the roof of the museum to admire the view, and so much more!

 I love how diverse Edinburgh is, from the castle you can see old buildings, new buildings, water, mountains... nowhere else could you walk to the bottom of one of the main tourist streets and end up in the middle of a country park complete with hikers and crazy runners speeding up the hills.

Even on horrible grey days like last weekend, the city still looks absolutely stunning. 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

I'll be home for next year darling, I'll be home for next year

Last weekend (wow, this week has flown by!) I took a little trip to Golden Acre Park in Leeds with my lovely friend Coral for a bit of fresh air and adventure. I'm a big fan of Roundhay park, which is nearer the city centre and an obvious choice for students and city dwellers wanting to escape the hustle and bustle for an afternoon, but there's only so many times you can wander around the same lake without longing for a bit of something different. And so, we headed out in the other direction from the city to see what Golden Acre had to offer. 

We had a great little time exploring the nature reserve within the park, despite lots of funny looks about our poor choices of footwear from the rest of the park population who were all kitted out in full walking gear. My chelsea boots were soon completely unrecognisable under the thick layer of mud, but they did come clean (eventually). 

This has become yet another addition to my list of places to revisit in the summer as it'd be lovely to sit by the lake with a picnic on one of those sunny days we very occasionally get. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Take me, take me, home, home

My flatmate and I finally decided last week to finally get round to putting up some sort of decoration in the living area. About time really as we've been living here for 7 months or so now. And so, after talking about it and talking about it for months on end, we took a trip to Dunelm for the final bits we needed to make a noticeboard for photos, shopping lists and all the other knick knacks that accumulate over time. 

I really don't know what took us so long, this pretty little noticeboard was so simple to make and has made such a difference to brightening up our big bare wall. If I didn't have so much other stuff up on my bedroom walls already I'd be making myself another... I say this, but I can guarantee I'll get bored in a few weeks and end up hammering a load more holes into my walls so I can have one of these beauties by my bed too. If you're looking for a cheap and cheerful present for somebody, then something like this is absolutely perfect- there are loads of similar things in shops and online that are all way more expensive (I'm talking from experience here having bought a similar noticeboard from Sass and Belle a year or so ago and as much as I love it, I am now wishing I'd just made my own).  

If you want to make one yourself all you need is: 

1 large photo frame/canvas
wadding (enough for a double layer if you're working with a chunky frame like ours from Ikea)
fabric (half a metre should be plenty for a similar sized frame to this one)
between 3/4 metres of ribbon
a staple gun

If you're using a frame, just remove the glass pane and then use the backing board as your base. Cut the wadding to the same size as the board/ canvas, using one or two layers depending on how thick your wadding is (tip: make sure you can still close the frame behind all the extra padding!). 

Then take your fabric and fit it around your base/canvas so you can then staple the edges of the material to the back of your base, making sure you pull the fabric tight so it fits snug against the wadding and doesn't hang loose.

Once you've secured the fabric to the board, work out where you want your criss crosses of ribbon to go, then cut each strip to size and staple the ends to the back of the board. Again, its really important to make sure these are nice and tight, otherwise you'll have trouble keeping your photos and notes in place.

If you're using a canvas, at you're all done and dusted now, if you use a frame like we did you now just need to pop it all back into place and secure the board into the frame. 

Then fix to your wall, take a step back and admire the pretty noticeboard you've just created!

It really is incredibly simple, we managed to complete ours in the time it took for this lemon drizzle cake to bake.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Hey Kemosabe, I'm alone.

This week has been l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ng. We had a special event for patients and their families today that I was running a lot of, so if I haven't been swimming in thousands of mind-maps and plans for the workshops I've been whizzing around the hospital at 90mph trying to get all my normal work done too. Its been one of those weeks where I haven't truly been able to unwind or switch my mind off, with a constant to do list whirling around in my head. 

And so, by Thursday evening, cake became necessary. 

Lemon drizzle cake to be precise. 

If you've had a crazynonstopgogogoaaaaaaahhhhhhhh week too, this is the perfect cure. And even if you haven't been suffering from headless chicken syndrome but just fancy some cakey goodness, there's no reason why you can't enjoy a cheeky bit of baking too.

You will need:
225g butter
225g caster sugar (+ 85g for the drizzle icing)
4 eggs
grated zest of 1 lemon
225g self raising flour
juice of 1 and a half lemons

Pre-heat oven to 180C (or 160C if you have a fan oven).
Cream together the butter and caster sugar in a bowl then gradually add the eggs to the mixture, stirring as you go. 
Sift in the flour and then add the grated lemon zest.
Stir until it is all combined into a smooth mixture.
Pour the mixture into a lined loaf tin and bake for about 50 minutes (or until you can insert a skewer into the middle of the cake and have it come out clean). 
Leave the cake to cool and then mix the caster sugar and lemon juice to make the drizzle icing. 
Pierce the cake all over with a skewer before pouring the drizzle over the cake (I made a huge messy puddle of the mixture on the worktop because I got a bit keen with pouring... go slowly here!). 
When the cake has fully cooled (I sneakily stood outside on the balcony at this point and let the freezing cold Leeds air speed up the cake cooling for me) remove from the tin and serve.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy. 

Bearing in mind my flatmate and I didn't finish making this until about 10pm on Thursday evening, there isn't even a crumb  left on the plate now. 

If that's not a winning recommendation then I don't know what is.