Tuesday, 20 December 2011

New boots (Fenwick sale Dec11)

When Fenwick does a shoe/boot sale I will always have a mooch. They tend to have a good range of size 8s and 9s to fit my big clodhoppers.

And whilst the sizing is good, I have been known to be disappointed, sometimes finding a good number of correctly sized footwear but incorrectly styled (too tall, pointy, furry, slutty, hideous).

Last week I went for a quick gander, I didn't realise there was a sale until I saw huddles of women around the shoes, and I felt I must "give it the once over."
I picked up and tried on 3 pairs of shiny boots in patent leather. Patent leather reminds me of the shoes I wore at primary school, and how they would shine up really well if you used a duster & Mr Sheen/Pledge.

And after the 3rd pair I was sold!
Dr Martenesque, 3 qtr leg, lace & zip, with brogue markings.
And £37.50 too, an absolute bargain.

I'll mostly wear them under my jeans/trousers like my other "street-urchin" boots.

Mr Lisa, unsurprisingly hates them.
But i don't care, at least I know he won't want to borrow them from me!

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Secret Santa (twitter-style)

I began following @WeeklyBakeoff a few months ago, intrigued by their regular bake off with their followers, announcing "what to bake" and theory followers baking it.

Then they advertised a Secret Santa: participants would need to make/bake something to post it to a Secret Santa recipient, someone else who had volunteered, a complete stranger.

IMAG0901I took part, baked a variety of items, packaged them up nicely, prepared for posting and sent it to the person I'd been DM'd about in Twitter...then a few days later I received a package!

My gift was a home made decoration for home and a packet of homemade pretzels (covered in white chocolate) surprisingly moreish!

I was pleased to receive something from a complete stranger, made with care, thought and consideration.  I loved taking part, making things that I love to make and eat, taking care to wrap them so they wouldn't be damaged in the post.

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I'll look out for it again next year and take part, next time I might craft something as well as bake something...

I know my Secret Santa recipient *did* receive their gift because I made sure I kept an eye on Twitter.

Senders had to tweet when they had sent their gift , and recipients had to tweet when they had received their gift. Simple really.

Christmas Cards 2011

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Each year I make my Christmas cards, the same style card duplicated about 50 times and sent to friends, family and  colleagues.

Often my ideas aren't new, over the year I keep an eye out for something simple and easy to make.  I'll sometimes do a mock up before the final run, to check that the end card looks presentable.

I have rejected cards on the basis that "they look a bit shit" and I have shelved (but not totally rejected) the photo of a cheese-shaped christmas tree.

The Christmas card for 2011 was a reindeer head: a brown thumbprint for the head, felt tip alters, wobbly eyes & a red nose.
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Underneath each I wrote a caption, ranging from "I'm not a reindeer, I'm a moose with a cold" to "I'm Rudolph, but on weekends you can call me Linda" trying to ensure any smutty/sweary or rude ones weren't sent to people with small children.

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And if you want to steal the idea or yourselves for next year, feel free!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Private pie club, meeting Dec2011

Earlier this month I participated in Private Pie.
Private Pie is an underground movement of pie bakers across Newcastle. This was their inaugural meeting and I was fortunate enough to get a place.

Their theme was "your go-to pie" - the pie you bake/eat in times of need. For some reason I felt mine was a game pie. I think its because its hearty, meaty, homely and satisfying.

The worst part of the event was travelling to the venue, from my home in West Monkseaton, on the metro - carrying a warm pie, it smelt beautiful.  I almost considered not-going and just riding the metro system and eating my pie. But then I realised what a terrible thing that would be.  My pie needed to be eaten, shared amongst pie-afficionados, amongst the pie brethren.

I was very glad I went, we shared 6 delicious pies out, all of differing finishes and flavours, from the seasonal Christmas Pie (my favourite) to the potato-topped fish pie (cod & prawn), and an open flan-type-pie of salmon & watercress, to the winter warming apple and raspberry, and the rhubarb & custard-crumble-topped pie.

We all started very traditionally - eating the savoury creations before the sweet ones, and I felt myself thinking that pie is such a versatile foodstuff, you can have sweet and savoury...At that point my mind raced into the future possibilities for pie club - assuming that there will be another pie club???

The gathering was held in the very secretive, very lovely Flat Cap Joes, and if you don't know it - you're missing a treat.  It really is an underground, secret place in Newcastle, and if I told you where it was, it wouldn't be a secret anymore....

We discussed (at great length) the constituent parts of a pie, and asked: what is a pie? Which is the million dollar question, and probably one that will never be answered, it sits up there with "what is the meaning of life?" and "what am I here for?"

Pie Club was organised by Hayley & Nancy, and I take my hat (or flat cap) off to them for finding such a lovely venue, for organising the event.

My pie was a game pie, and the recipe  (of sorts) is below:

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- Mixed game (I usually buy the mixed game packs from Sainsburys)
- Onion chopped
- 1 stick of celery chopped
- 1/2 pt of Mr Lisa's finest chicken stock
- About 6 mushrooms chopped
- 1 Carrot cubed
- 1 glass (ish) of red wine
- Thyme, Salt & Pepper

Brown off the meat, de-glaze the pan (with the wine), then put everything in a heavy-bottomed saucepan/Le Creusset type dish with lid, sling in everything else, bring to the boil and simmer for ages and ages and ages, so the meat is sweet and juicy, if it looks too wet take the lid off and reduce the liquor. Leave to cool.

Make hot water crust pastry using the recipe from the Be-ro Book.

Assemble the pie, crust on the outside, filling in the middle, attach lid, glue together (water/egg) and some fancy fingerwork to nip & twist for a professional looking crust (or forkwork), label appropriately with offcuts of pastry, eggwash and oven bake.

Cooking times will vary depending on the size of your pie - mine took a good 45mins on 180

Geek Chic


A couple of weeks ago I went to the very wonderful Made In Newcastle Christmas fair, held at the Royal Station Hotel, Newcastle.

Made in Newcastle are a unique group of like-minded creatives who lovingly craft objects of beauty, such as: books, jewellery, clothing, candles, cards, homeware, keyrings, purses, comics, art and sell them to you and me.
And all of the objects are made by clever folk who live in/around Newcastle - so you're also "buying local" too.  Less mileage, less carbon, and lots of "green" brownie-points too (green-brownie? - yeh, don't think about it too much).


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It's the type of event that is guaranteed to provide you with original one-off objects, for someone special, rather than a high-street replica.


So I went along to buy some Christmas presents for my family...unfortunately everything I saw screamed "buy me, buy me" in a way that wasn't really very useful, because all I could see were items that were so lovely I wanted to buy them, not for my mum, or auntie. Oh no they were calling "buy me, and keep me all to yourself, you know you want me" and I really really did.

Despite my best efforts, I only bought one thing for myself, and I love it - it's this necklace, it's so cute and unusual in the way the bird chain sits through the branch, and at only £5 I decided it was too pretty to miss.

On closer inspection I thought that the bird was modelled on the Twitter logo, not that this bothers me, but it has been pointed out by a couple of people.  Is this what they call geek chic?

Where did I get it? Gabbysbazaar, but I couldn't find it online...But you will find other lovely stuff there anyway...The jewellery box says gabbysbazaar.etsy.com, but you can also find stuff on http://gabbysbazaar.blogspot.com/

What else did I buy?

Monday, 5 December 2011

Geek or freak?

Nail varnish with newsprint on them, and a Cheeky QR code I found too.

Why?
I don't often wear nail varnish but after seeing something on www.pinterest.com (my new favourite place for finding inspiration - things to make), it looked quite unique, easy to do and I thought I'd try it

What do I need?
Light coloured nail varnish, I used the white stuff I have for doing French Polish tips.
A newspaper, with squares torn to size (a piece the wraps around your nail)
Alcohol in an egg cup, I used pear vodka (only because we don't drink it)
Top coat, clear varnish.

Then all you do is:
1. Paint on the white coat, let it dry.
2. Wrap the newspaper around your nail the print closest to your nail will be transferred.
3.Dip your nail into the eggcup of vodka (or whatever alcohol you've chosen).
4. Remove finger from eggcup, press newspaper onto nail firmly (but careful not to smudge).
5. Peel off and you'll be left with the newsprint on your nail.
Note: its reversed so you can only read the story/article looking through a mirror.
6. Paint a layer of clear varnish over your nail to seal it.

Geek or freak?
Working in IT I thought I'd impress my colleagues by imprinting a QR code on my nail.
It looks pretty neat, but unfortunately I've been told that you can't read a QR code from a reverse image.

Where does the QR code take you (if it worked)? Some advert for TyneMet College.

What's the story on the nails? It's not actually a news story, its the used car adverts, I can do you a great deal on a 2010 Megane Scenic 2.1


Friday, 2 December 2011

A hard time (for me)

I've been pretty down lately, in my head I've built it up and believe it to be "everything" so much so that I've declared that I hate my job and want to leave, don't want children, don't want to exist.
I've looked at places to move to, jobs to apply for, potential buses to jump under, things I might need to buy and people I might need to call on in times like this.