Hiatus

Hello and goodbye for a while! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging because I’m 32 weeks pregnant and expecting the new arrival soon.

There’s lots to do this month to get the house ready and I’m expecting that after the birth there will be little time, motivation or energy for blogging and I want to focus all my attention on the little bubba.

You’ll still find me on Instagram of course! Head to my feed here. I won’t be on Facebook or Twitter as frankly I’m barely present there anyway – I really only have time for one social media stream in my life.

Maybe see you in the new year?!

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Baking Banana Bread

What do you with 8 black bananas? You make two bananas breads, of course. One for now, one for the freezer.

This only took me 10 minutes to whizz together and about 40 minutes in the oven (it shouldn’t normally take that long but it was quite a wet mixture and I had opened the oven door a few too many times.)

Recipe

  • 8 ripe bananas
  • 250g Demerara sugar
  • Plain flour
  • 200g sunflower oil
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon

Method

Smash up the bananas in a bowl and mix in the oil. Add the flour (sieved) and sugar and mix well. Add baking powder and cinnamon and mix it all together again. Bake for 30 minutes or until brown on top and a skewer comes out clean.

Add Biscoff LotusĀ spread for an extra hit.

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New Kitchen and Homeware! ~ from Chefs Collection

I was recently sent some goodies in the post from Chefs Collection to try out some of their most popular kitchenware and bathroom products. I was delighted to receive these cute gifts in the post and I’d like to share my thoughts on these items after trialing them in my own everyday life over the last week.

Chefs Collection specialises in cookware, bakeware, homeware, and all manner of kitchenware you could wish for from top quality and unusual brands that you won’t find in your everyday high street store. They were founded in 2016 in Norwich, (my home town, incidentally) and they stock an impresive range of kitchen and home brands at really good prices. Well worth a browse if you’re looking for some attractive designs for homeware or even if you’re after a wedding or birthday gift.


Champagne flute: La Rochere ‘Bee’

This champagne flute is a beautiful and yet practical piece of glassware; it’s very sturdy, unlike a lot of champagne flutes that I find tend to topple over, but it’s also very delicate. It feels like an antique, classic French design at the same time as looking quite modern. You will also notice the little bees at the top of the flute – the only detail on the flutes and this cute feature adds a little bit of country charm. La Rochere are inspired by 18th century designs and the bee flute takes me back to summers in the south of france, walking around lavender fields and vineyards. The brand dates back to 1475 and La Rochere is the oldest working art glassworks in France.

As I’m currently 7 months pregnant, I can’t put these champagne flutes to their optimal use so I’ve opted for apple juice instead. I have to say, it makes a soft drink feel very elegant and classy. I’ve enjoyed drinking from these flutes in the garden, enjoying the last of the late summer evening rays after work, and they will be a regular feature on date night home-cooked dinners.

La Rochere Bee champagne flute

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Spreading knife – Opinel

The website declares that Picasso owned one of these knives! Quite a claim to fame for Opinel. I wonder if he used it for spreading jam on his toast or for painting his Cubist masterpieces?

This is another established brand, dating back to 1890, and the spreading knife is a new addition to Opinel’s range of simple and elegant kitchenware.

This knife is definitely a quality item; it feels very robust, which you don’t normally get in a spreading knife as they can be quite flimsy. The blade is spatula-shaped and lends itself well to spreading butter and jam. I used it to spread my favourite Lotus biscoff spread on a homemade banana bread I made recently (by the way, that’s a great combination.)

Opinel spreading knife

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Nail brush – Andree Jardin

Here we have another company with a history in France making iconic designs known for their quality. This beechwood nail brush has proved very helpful after an afternoon in the garden; getting the soil out from under those fingernails is a tough job! The nail brush is quite a simple design with soft bristles and delicate lettering on the underside. It’s comfortable to hold and it doesn’t take long to get the dirt off; it rinses well after use and is an attractive feature on a bathroom shelf.

I was a bit concerned to see the bristles are made from horse hair unfortunately and the wood is polished with beeswax; I recognise that for most people this would be a mark of quality but using animal by-products is a bit of a let down for me, and I hope the brand can move away from this in future as there are modern alternatives available. (Horse hair, by the way, is usually ethically and humanely ‘harvested’ from grooming but is nevertheless a by-product I’m not comfortable with.)

Andree Jardin nail brush

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* I received these products for free to write an honest review of them. Thanks to Chefs Collection for sending me these items to try out. *

 

 

 

 

Strumpshaw Fen, end of August

Strumpshaw Fen, end of August

After 2-3 months of blistering heat, August has been quite temperate and we’ve had a chance to cool off. I’ve also noticed a lot of autumn flowers and berries a bit earlier than normal as they have ripened too soon in the excessive heat.

So I get to do my autum berry photoshoots earlier than usual. :)

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We walked round RSPB Strumpshaw fen at the end of August and it was a windy, grey day so not many birds were out and about. There was a family of swans with their young cygnets and a flock of what I think were wild grey partridges, though they were very distant.

Those clouds!

Lush – Milky Bar Review

I’m loving Lush at the moment. I’m trying to rid myself of unnecessary plastic and this is a great way to do it. Do you remember the days when people just used a bar of soap instead of liquid soap in a plastic container?

I wrote a ‘first impressions’ style blog on my thoughts on my first shampoo bar from Lush, which you can read about here. Despite trying to resist the temptation to buy shed loads of soapy goodness in Lush, I did succumb and try their exclusive Milky Bar shower gel because it’s a cute concept.

As well as being cruelty free, this bar is also vegan, so thumbs up for that. It’s made from soya milk and has a Brazilian orange oil scent, and is marketed for hands and bodies so you can use it as a soap or a shower gel. It lasts an impressive amount of time and is so soft and gentle on the skin; it smells delicious, a bit like a sweet shop, but the scent is subtle and not at all over-powering.

Easy Vegan Pancakes

Sunday morning…. brings the dawn in.

Here’s a dead simple recipe to make super easy and super delicious vegan pancakes for those lazy Sunday mornings.

  • 160g plain or self-raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 250ml soy milk
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (this makes all the difference in creating a silky texture to the batter)

Rewilding Britain with Beavers

Recently Michael Gove attended an event in Gloucestershire to release beavers back into the wild as part of a project to rewild Britain. A male and a female Eurasian beaver, a species hunted to extinction in the UK 400 years ago for their fur, meat, and scent glands, were released into the Forest of Dean. They join other iconic British species that became extinct and have returned to the Forest of Dean, such as the wild boar.

The area will be regularly monitored throughout the 3 year project and it is hoped that the beavers will reduce the local flood risk and benefit the health of the ecosystem; being a ‘keystone species’, beavers play a part in shaping the landscape through their dam-building activities. The Eurasian beavers are expected to build a series of natural dams that will slow rainwater and prevent floods from the steep hills in the area.

You can read more about global rewilding success stories here, including the wolf in the US and the giant tortoise in the Galapagos islands.

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Beaver Facts

  • Beavers are vegetarian
  • They live in ‘lodges’, which they construct from branches and sticks – they have a drying off den and an inner, drier den for the family to sleep and socialise in
  • They are the largest native European rodent
  • Beavers are ecosystem engineers, or ‘keystone species’; their dam-building behaviour shapes the ecosystem by slowing down the flow of the river, resulting in particular species thriving. The largest beaver dam is in Canada and is visible from space
  • They have transparent eyelids and can see underwater
  • They sometimes share their homes with muskrats
  • Beavers are monogamous and will mate for life
  • A beaver’s tooth enamel contains iron, which gives it that orange colour and enables them to gnaw through trees.
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