Saturday, 11 May 2013


Yep, you guessed it, I'm 40 today. Lordy Lord.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Very Quick Stew

I go away working for 4 weeks tomorrow  (minus weekends) so really didn't want to be cooking much today but still wanted something delicious.
Time for a quick stew in the slow cooker. This recipe was given to me by a friend in Brighton, so if it's good, all credit goes to you Adrian.

A few changes here and there based on what I had in the house.

Brown off some cheap casserole beef in oil with some shallots (didn't have any so added chopped onion instead) cook for a couple of minutes and add a tablespoon or two of flour.

Add some beer. (I got a cheap bottle of beer from Lidl and shoved that in) and a glass of red wine, didn't have any so added a glug of port. Crumble in a beef stock cube and add some button mushrooms  (again, no button mushrooms in Lidl so some chopped up chestnut mushrooms.)

That's it! Bung it in the slow cooker for a few hours.

I did that at 9 this morning and I am not kidding when I say it took me 5 minutes. It took me twice as long to find the bottle opener, this being a virtually tee-total house.
Here's how it looks after 8 hours, the smell is heavenly.

Will serve it later with mashed potatoes and peas and let you know how it is, seconds for lunch tomorrow and then any left will go into the freezer for a portion or two on one of the weekends I am home. I love quick and tasty cooking like this.

Friday, 3 May 2013


Sometimes my wish to be home goes against my better judgement. I did a show in London last night and then drove home listening to my usual selection of radio plays to keep me awake. Got in at 3.20 this morning and my head hit the pillow at 3.30. Of course, being me, I was awake at 6 as usual. I'm good for nothing today - which is a shame as I have to go and do one of my old ladies gardens in a while. Wish me luck - I feel like death.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Upcycling - not to everyone's taste.

I rescued 3 dining chairs from my sister's garden last week. As I have mentioned before she is at the end of a huge remodeling of her house and, me being always on the look out am profiting. Her old oven is already in my house and now I took the three dining chairs that she was about to put on the tip.

They were in a bit of a state, it has to be said. Having brought up 3 children on these chairs they were covered in grubby fingers, crayon and paint and thick with dirt having been out in the garden for a few weeks. I just call that a challenge.

So first thing was to clean and sand them down, no easy task actually because the dirt was matted on. Here is one after the cleaning and sanding (forgot to take a picture before this process)

A traditional looking chair, it wasn't a very nice colour pine varnish finish so I wasn't keeping that.

Next I primed them with a tin of primer I had leftover from a previous project.

Now comes the part when I go off the main track. My intention was to just paint the cream to match the legs of the table, but sometimes, when I get looking at paint colours a strange feeling comes over me and I start wanting to experiment. Not always succesfully. I have a lot of blue and white crockery and love this combination and started wondering about maybe painting them blue. After humming and haaing I thought, what's the worst that can happen? I don't like them and paint them again.

So Swedish Blue was decided upon. Decide for yourself. I'm not sure about the result, but it is growing on me, haha.

Still, a big improvement from a filthy old chair in the garden. I will liven them up with some nice pastel shade cushions and maybe get something blue onto the table to tie them in. If I am fed up with them in 6 months I will paint them a new colour.