Monday, 31 December 2012

See Ya, 2012!

The cats (and I) wish you a Happy New Year. Come on, 2013! 

Friday, 21 December 2012

Brighton (Part 2)

If you're reading this, then we've all survived the so-called 'Mayan apocalypse' and Nibiru hasn't yet crashed into our planet  (although if you've just been in my local Sainsburys you might think it has and the zombies are on their way). So why not waste some precious pre-Christmas time by looking at some of my photos from Brighton!
Freshly deepfried doughnuts on the pier are perfect when it's windy, cold and still two more hours to your dinner reservation. Who know four doughy little rings coated in sugar could be so delicious?

Last Minute

Still rushing around desperately looking for Christmas presents? Come down to the Tea Rooms this weekend, where the cushions pictured above, as well as other vintage and handmade items, will be available for sale! The cushions are made with vintage or unwanted fabrics, and come in two sizes. See you there!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

English's Of Brighton

A visit to Brighton isn't complete without some seafood, and we certainly indulged in our fair share while there. Manbacon and I had made a reservation for a table at English's of Brighton, but on a wintry Sunday night, there was more than enough space. We were one of only four couples dining at the restaurant that night (and the only ones under 35!). 
The cosy dining room has a lovely fin de siecle feel to it, with it's many mirrors and Toulouse-Lautrec-style paintings on the walls. It gets much narrower at the back, with red velvet banquettes lining the walls, and narrow little tables in front. The space is so tiny that guests have to sit side-by-side instead of facing each other. It was comfortable enough while we were there, with one other couple sitting diagonally across us (the table on the left in the photo above). However, I imagine it would get terribly claustrophobic on busy days, and you'd be trying to eat with someone else's elbow wedged into your shoulder.
Starter of brown bread, butter and mackerel pate
We started with a small basket of brown bread accompanied by butter and mackerel pate. It was tasty but not particularly memorable. The pate wasn't very mackerel-y tasting, just sort of a smoothly blended lump of fish paste.
Seafood platter - two levels of oysters, clams, mussels, prawns, crab and lobster
As you can see, we decided to splurge on the cold seafood platter - a massive two tiers of boiled prawns, mussels, clams, dressed crab, potted shrimp, lobster and raw oysters, as well as some smoked salmon on toast. The platter was accompanied by several lemon wedges, as well as a little ramekin of mayonnaise. 
Smoked salmon on bread, part of the seafood platter
Cthulhu arises from the deep
The platters are fairly expensive, but then again, you get a LOT of food. Most of the shellfish was wonderfully fresh and succulent, and the oysters were generously sized. My only (very slight) gripe was that the prawns were fairly dry and overcooked. The potted shrimps were encased in loads of butter, so much so that even butter-loving Manbacon had to give up after a couple of bites. We should have used the toast supporting our smoked salmon as a base for the potted shrimps, but we're always so much wiser in hindsight, arent' we? 
Dressed crab, partially undressed
Panna cotta on spiced fruit compote

There was no stomach space left for dessert at the end (in fact, Manbacon insisted he didn't want any - foolish human) but I managed to conjure up a second stomach to fit it in. I opted for the panna cotta, served with a spiced fruit compote, and suddenly Manbacon decided he could find some space for dessert, after all. It was a lovely, light end to the meal - the creamy treat slipped down very easily, and managed to leave me feeling refreshed for the short walk back to our hotel.

29-31 East Street

Thursday, 13 December 2012


It was my second wedding anniversary recently (bloody hell, two years!), so Manbacon and I went to Brighton for a long weekend break. We walked around and went to a car boot sale and spent lots of pennies on the pier and ate lots of seafood. 

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Revisiting Kelvingrove

Reliving our visit to Kelvingrove last year. I can hardly believe it's been a whole year since I was there! Manbacon and I were toying with the idea of moving to Glasgow, mainly due to that gorgeous Georgian (I think) flat in Shallow Grave, which we watched again recently. I think that flat is probably as important a character as the three friends. 

For the eagle-eyed readers out there - yes, that is a bottle of Famous Grouse in the bottom left corner of the diorama. Because...what else would you display under a couple of rutting stags? 

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Cranberry and Walnut Chocolate Muffin

No proper recipe yet - this is what happens when you wake up one morning and decide to throw some ingredients together. The result smells wonderfully chocolate-y, and weighs a ton due to amount of cranberries and walnuts stuffed inside. It came out rather dry though, which is why I'm going to redo it and add more moisture to it before I write down a recipe. A dollop of clotted cream on top certainly helps with the dryness though. 

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

More Cards

A few new handmade cards - some vaguely Christmas-themed - are now available at my Tea Rooms stall from this weekend onwards. If you're interested in one but can't get to Brick Lane, send me an email and I'll try to reserve it for you. 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

The Swanning Around Outfit

Here's a two-in-one sewing post, because one post means less writing (typing) than two. And I'm lazy. 
I finished this blouse months ago, in the summer in fact, but only wore it for the first time two weeks ago! Why the delay? Well, about the time I completed it, Manbacon and I bought tickets to see Swans at Koko. Swan blouse, Swan band - coincidence? I think not! So I decided to wait until the day of the gig to take the blouse for its first outing. Long wait...and not a very sensible choice on a cold November night, since the blouse was hidden under layers of coat and scarf. Anyway, I had made up my mind, and so it was done. 

The pattern, as you can see, is Simplicity 5451, purchased about two years ago on eBay. I never felt any inclination to actually use it...until I found this pink and white swan fabric - actually a sheet - in the op-shop about a year ago. I knew what it would become as soon as I found it. 
'Overnight Success'! Well, the pattern cover wasn't too far off, although it did take me slightly longer than overnight due to other projects. The contrasting collar and cuffs were less a design decision and more a running-out-of-fabric decision. The sheet was rather narrow and short (I think it might have been meant for a baby's cot?) so there simply wasn't enough fabric for the collar and cuff facings. I think the white accents help give the blouse a bit of a 1950s diner waitress look though, so I'm not complaining. Finally, the plastic buttons were harvested from the duvet cover that turned into my Summer Safari dress
On to the skirt. It's based on my trusty pencil skirt pattern, except I redrafted it slightly so that the front waist darts become princess seams. This allows for the insertion of panels of different fabric into the sides of the skirt. It's a great way to add interest to a fairly plain design, and allows for smaller amounts of fabric to be used. 
The main fabric came from an old A-line velvet maxi length skirt that was given to me a while back. I cut the side panels from this massive bag of jersey remnants that I bought off eBay last year (it's THE bottomless bag of fabric - I've made so many things from it and it still sits there, undiminished). It's lined with supersoft black and white fabric harvested from a duvet cover, and the hem is catchstitched so it hardly shows on the velvet. I made the waistband out of faux leather, for three different textures of black. The faux leather was an arse to machine-sew though, and I ended up having to sew it to the skirt by hand. It's finished off with a  vintage metal button with markings that look rather like a fingerprint, however, you can't really see it in this photo so you'll have to take my word for it.
Hat - vintage
Jacket - Op-shop (Glasgow)
Blouse - Self-made
Skirt - Self-made
Tights - Pretty Polly
Boots - H&M

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Hip To Be Square

Apologies for the rather embarrassing title. I've been in a cushion-making mood recently. They don't take much time to sew, and they always help me feel like I've done a whole lot of work when in fact all I've done is to join up a bunch of straight lines. 
These two crazy patterned ones above were a housewarming gift for a friend. If you were thinking 'Wow, she's joined those fabrics really well!' I'm sorry, but I didn't . The fabric came with this pattern - or rather, 4 strips of insane patterns, running side by side down the whole length of the fabric. Because whoever designed it felt that having just one wasn't enough. 
This rather Christmassy creation was the result of a hideous acrylic poncho that a friend insisted on giving to me. So I cut it up and used the material for cushions! I made two of these - one is available on Etsy (along with a slightly different design, and the other is available at the stall. Send me a message if you want both of them.
The cushions in these last two photos are also currently available at the Tea Rooms stall. The fabrics for these came from a  some op-shops in Poland, and were originally a child's tunic and a massive kaftan, respectively. In the bottom photo, you can see both the front (left) and back (right) of the kaftan cushions. the fronts were cut from the kaftan, while the envelope backs make use of some fabric from my mother-in-law. 

Making cushions always help me feel very accomplished and efficient, so don't be surprised to see more of these here in the near future!