walking on clouds

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Ever took time to look at where your walking or what your walking on?  You hear about people having their head in the clouds but I find them on the ground. This looked like an ordinary piece of path until I took a closer look.

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One of little leafs turned out to be a little squirrel head, thats a surprise.  wonder how that poor little guy got there.

Nikki xxx

Are you alright there, Sharon?

Sharon fruit is what I want to talk about today. Mic’s colleague Sharon lent us season 3 of Love/Hate (I know we’re behind, please don’t judge). So I wanted to make her a lil thank you treat. I was down in lidl and what do I see but a Sharon fruit aka a persimmon.

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Persimmon

Sharon fruit is a variety of Persimmon. It gets its name from Israel, where it is extensively grown. A small glowing orange fruit with a waxy skin, its quite hard when you buy them, like an apple but let them soften a bit and yummy yummy. Today I was using mine while it was still tart.

A roulade is my go-to bake. Its so easy but people always love it, just whisk it and fill it, its like the fast food of the baking world. There’s only 2 ingredients  for the main roulade. Its the filling where you have all the fun, like a mans wallet its whats in the inside that counts.

Ingredients

225g of caster sugar

4 egg whites

The makey bit

Set your oven to 180 and line a baking sheet with foil, let the foil come up about an inch at the edges as the meringue will rise up a bit. Now spread some oil over your tray so it doesn’t stick.

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then pour in the sugar and whisk until it forms stiff peaks. a little test to see if its ready, is if you turn the bowl upside down it doesn’t drip.

Word of advice- your bowl and whisk should be spotless, if any egg yolk or oil gets into mixture it wont stiffen for you.

Now spread your mixture out onto the tray and cook for 10-15 mins until it is slightly golden outside, it should feel a little hard to touch but not rock solid. If its too dry it won’t roll up. Let it cool while you prepare a filling.

Now for the filling, you can use whipped cream, ice cream, marshmallow, fresh fruit. the world is your meringue oyster.

For this roulade I whipped up some cream and added thinly sliced strawberries and sharon fruit.

Once your meringue is cool, you can do the rolling bit. spread your filling over the base and using your tin foil slowly roll it up like a big sausage.

these don’t keep too long so devour on he same day…

Spotlight-Cool Baby

I was on Hike those likes Ireland on facebook and came across a really cool little site. Its called coolbaby.ie and does the most adorable baby clothes. Not your frou frou skirts and hand made moccasins but great quality rompers, bibs, socks and more.

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Its main focus seems to be sports references which are adorable. My OH Mic is a Dublin born “Banner Man” so he’d turn to mush looking at that stuff.  For anyone not au fait with Irish sport, a banner man is a someone from County Clare. Clare has a history of carrying banners to political meetings and can even be traced back to the battle of Clontarf in 1014, Hence the Name. Now I’m a Dub born and bred so true blue would be my choice. Lucky enough they also stock Leinster Rugby themes so we can both be lept happy!

 

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What a cute banner Baby!

A typical Hat and babygro set cost €24.99 so perfect price point for a gift set. You can buy everything separately if you just want a hat or socks. They even have a personalised service to add names to the rompers.

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Its irish without being Oirish and even the farming references are kitsch instead of cliche, and as luck would have it my friends just had a baby so I’m off to buy a gift set.  Hence why I’m trawling baby sites, (don’t get your hope up folks)Now which county do I order? Leitrim for the Dad, Offaly for the Mum or Dublin for Her birthplace….

Its an Irish company so delivery should be in time for christmas too, If you’ve bought from here before please leave me your thoughts in comments!

Enjoy

Nikki xxx

Courgette Bread

This is a yummy cake style bread, kind of like a tea bread. Whenever I offer people a bit of courgette bread they look at me I have two heads. But slather on some butter and they scoff it up like the greedy lil pigs they are… Here’s how ya do it

Courgette the cucumbers cool cousin bread!

Courgette the cucumbers cool cousin bread!

Ingredients

14 ounces plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

11 ounces caster sugar

3 1/2 ounces of demerara sugar

3 large  eggs, beaten

200ml sunflower oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

13 ounces of grated courgettes, with the skin left on

The How-to bit

Pre-heat the oven to 160 (150 if fan). Grease and flour two 9 X 5 inch loaf tins.

Sift the flour, salt, soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a large bowl. mix in both sugars then beat the eggs, sunflower oil and vanilla extract together.

Stir the egg mixture and grated courgettes into the dry mixture, mixing until well combined.

Divide between the two prepared loaf tins.

Bake in the heated oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaves comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes or so before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool.

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This loaf lasts for about 10 days if its let, normally it goes in about two days in this house. Ceri & Mic love it..

Hope you do too

Nikki xxx

What a waste of space

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I walk past these buildings every day as I bring my daughter to school. Years ago when I was in secondary school these shops had a florist, a butchers and a clothes shop in them. Same old story, they were bought, redeveloped then just left. Maybe they didn’t sell, maybe there is building faults but its such a pity.

I day dream about buildings like this. Picture them filled with rows of pretty products, maybe a cute tea shop. another florist showing there bright array of happiness on the pavement. They are at the gates of the Bon Secours hospital so a little lift as you drive in would be lovely…

back to daydreaming but what a waste…

Nikki xxx

Eezy Peezy Choccy Cake

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This is a popular cake in our house, its so easy to make and who doesnt like chocolate cake?

Ingredients

For the yummy spongey cake bit

125 g dark chocolate

3 tbsp milk

150 g butter, at room temperature

150 g caster sugar

3 eggs

200 g plain flour

1 tbsp  cocoa powder (i use cadburys drinking choc)

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

cocoa powder or icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

 

For the chocolate butter icing bit

75 g butter, at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

175 g icing sugar

1 tbsp  cocoa powder

 

This is how we do it (this is how we do it)

Preheat the oven to 180 (160 if fan oven)/gas 4. Butter and flour the sides of two 20cm sandwich tins

Place the chocolate and the milk in a bowl sitting over a saucepan of  simmering water and heat until the chocolate has melted. or if your tight for time put in the microwave and heat for 10 secs and stir until it has all melted. Be careful not to heat too much, it can easily burn.  Set aside to cool for a bit.

Beat the butter until very soft then add the caster sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then fold in the melted chocolate.

Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and the bicarbonate of soda, and fold in gently to mix. Again use figures of 8 when you stir, if you over mix sponge it doesn’t come out fluffy and everyone will hate you*

Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of each cake comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to sit for five minutes before turning them out of their tins  to cool.

For the chocolate butter icing: beat the butter and the vanilla extract until very soft. Then gradually sift in the icing sugar and the cocoa powder, beating all the time, until it is all added. Continue to beat until very soft, then whisk the mixture until it is light and fluffy.

Now the fun bit, sandwich the two layers together. Again I use jam in the middle but I think its just habit, I’m afraid to stop now. Decorate how you wish but I’d recommend strawberries….

Enjoy, Nikki xxx

Spotlight-MarKier Design

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I wanted to use this blog to show a few of the people who I think are doing amazing work at the moment. All of which are on my wish lists for different reasons. The first of which is Amy brannigan from MarKier design. I knew Amy when we were children but recently met her at the Knitting and Stitching show in the RDS where she was exhibiting her textile wonders. Amy is a 3rd yr student in Gmit and recently was the overall winner in the fashion and design competition, ‘Fashion-Able Kenmare’.

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Amys Latest work was inspired by the Irish coastline and the result is fantastic. Soft leathers, intricate beading, gold leaf, soft textures all blend seamlessly into amazing froths of design loveliness. I fell in love with a black piece which in person looked so inviting I had to resist the urge to keep stroking the leather. I wanted to wear it, I wanted to live in it. I WANT IT. My mother was with me and remarked the shaping of the leather and tiny feathered work brought to mind “The Black Swan”, theatrical ballet comparison that works.

After talking to Amy the most impressive thing I found was the lady herself and her conviction to her design path. Her pure design ethos is evident and never waivers. She is in the process of designing a Wedding range and it is refreshing to hear her speak about individualism, vintage, Diy without the tired bunting and mismatched china spiel. She has a clear

design focus and I cannot wait to see what she does next. This lady is going places but doing it in impeccable style.

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First Bash Project

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I was delighted to be asked to do some Diy ideas for the first issue of Bash magazine by Nathalie Marquez Courtney. Bash is the newest magazine added to the Image portfolio of amazing mags. Finally a bridal mag I would actually read, I’m so happy to have been involved in a small part.

Nathalie forwarded me some amazing inspiration shots from Ciara from style serendipity who was to be the stylist on the day. A pretty palette of pastels with a pop of gold was chosen. All I had to do was make the DIY’s, I really wanted to make some painted dipped jars and if you look at the photo above, you’d think I succeeded but no. No, No, No. Dipping jars in paint did not work well for me, tinting jars went wrong as well so with time ticking away I happened upon the great idea of Balloon wrapped jars. Did it work? Hell yeah! its my new favourite trick now…

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Luckily the shot on the day went a lot smoother then my prep and the photo’s speak for themselves! The styling was immaculate, the diys looked great and you can even see an amazing ruffled cake from Emilys Pantry in the shot! I hope issue 2 goes just as well!!!

Photography by Nathalie Marquez Courtney

Styling Ciara from Style Serendipity

Cake from Emily’s Pantry

DIY’s by Me!

You can see the full spread in Bash magazine in shops now

My life, My loves

All you need is love

All you need is love

I’m lucky enough to have two loves in my life (crafting aside of course).

I have an 11yr old daughter called Ceri and a fabulous partner called Micheal, they are both crazy and keep me laughing.

Ceri has my arty streak, she is great at drawing which was never my strong point. I remember once showing my cousin lisa a portrait I drew of her only to have her debate for 20 mins who it was… “A gargoyle, no shrek, no no is it a monster”.  Ceri’s confidence in her art is amazing, I love that most about children, that pride in what they make. When do we lose that as adults?, we become almost bashful about what we make and resort to blogs to show off our skills. Ceri keeps me young, how could I act my age when surrounded by One Direction posters and glitter???

Micheal is not arty, but he has a great appreciation for art and great patience to endure the madness it brings to our house. A lesser man would complain about our house becoming a pink explosion for breast cancer awareness or miss eating at the table because a knitting project can’t be moved. Not Micheal, from our first date he has shown he is quite a man and I love him for it. Our debates keep my brain ticking and his logic and business sense keep me grounded.. My Ying and Yang, My loves xxx