Tuesday, 18 June 2013

In the Words of Julie Andrews: Brown Paper Wrapping Ideas

Hi Kids, 

Satch here. I've recently become really into recycling and upcycling stuff - much to the annoyance of my mother who is much grieved by the fact that I won't throw anything away in case I can use it later! One thing I have discovered the joys of is, to paraphrase The Sound of Music, brown paper with string.

I've seen blogs that take the brown paper and string wrapping a bit further, so I decided to give it a try for my Grandma's birthday (who, incidentally, did not really care either way). 

For this one, you will need: 

Brown paper (preferably recycled, as I've done with the bag that mum's Jamie Oliver order came in!)
A Flower
A Leaf
A Black Pen

and, obviously, a present!

Start, as you would expect, by wrapping the present in the brown paper. Leave it face up.

Then it's time for the string (please keep up this is very challenging stuff!) Cut a piece a string about three times the length of your present, and lay it across the middle, lengthways, with an equal amount of string on either side. Then, turn the present upside down, pull both ends of the string to the middle, cross them, and pull them taught so that the ends are now going along the width in either direction. (It's at this point that I wish I had more pictures!) Then, turn the present rightside up, and thread each end under the original line of string, like so: 

Then it's time for your leaf! Write the recipient's name on the leaf with your black pen (who, by the way, did not notice this detail!) 

Pierce a small hole at the stalk end of the leaf, thread it on your string, and tie it in place. 

All that remains is to tie the string in a nice bow, and thread the flower behind. My apologies for the terrible fuzzy photo! 

I'm enjoying experimenting with different things for ribbons and labels. Using lace instead of string looks really cool, or I did this for Bridey's birthday: 

For this I used a brown card tag, and nicked a few bits out of my mum's bowl of pot pouris to make it pretty! There were four string ends to deal with (two from the tag and two from the present) so I plaited them which looked cool, but took ages for the Wife to open! 

What do you think? Got any new twists on old classics like this? We'd love to hear them. 

Until next time,
Satch x

Makeovers, Writing and Sketching Mr Gosling

Hey Kids, 

So as we're like 14% through 2013 (according to the calculator on Satch's phone) it's high time for a bucket list update. For those of you who don't know, we've got a list of things we're going to do/achieve by the end of this year, and blog about the results. Although we've done an embarassingly small amount of stuff so far, there is at least enough that's worthy of an entire blog post! 

Satch:  So I started with a couple of the easy looking ones, with varying results! The first one I tried was the makeover one, and as I have not had a haircut for the last two years or so, I thought I'd have a complete revamp and try something a bit different. 

Salt: Nice little T-Shirt you're wearing there Satch!

Satch: As you can see, I dyed it really dark brown and had a LOT of it cut off. The photo on the left doesn't do justice to how long it was, I could have been a freaking mermaid. That said, I'm not sure I'm loving the new look just yet. You can't just straighten it or leave it, you have to curl it or put it up to make it look good and that's EFFORT! The good news is that Cobb prefers it shorter, and Nathy Nath has also commented on how nice it looks, but the bad news is that my Mum walked in and said 'Oh, it looks like mine!' *Curls up in a corner and dies*.

I think I'll be happier when it's a bit longer, and I'm tempted to put a cheeky blonde streak in there somewhere, but at least there's something ticked off the list and I probably would have played it safe at the hairdressers if a makeover wasn't required, so at least I tried something new. I've also just started reading Salt's recommeded classic: On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. I've only just recently branched out into American literature and this was on my to-read list, so I'm very happy that Salt recommended it and I'm liking what I've read so far.

Other than that I made a poor attempt to learn new songs on the guitar (I don't think I'm the next Hendrix!) and piano. I tried jogging in preparation for our half marathon, but I nearly DIED so it's put me right off! I've started my novel (but, in fairness, that was because I had to last year for my degree and I haven't touched it in months!) and I've also made progress in the 'Learn to draw 3 new things' category - a shaggy dog and the back of Ryan Gosling! However, as I've written about them in another blog, you can read about it here.

Salt: So when we came up with the list, we split it into nice little month-by-month activities to split up the cost and time of things. Have either of us stuck to it? No. Does this make us spontaneous and interesting people? Why yes, yes it does.

With that in mind - so far I have nothing that I can post pictures of. But, that doesn't mean to say that I haven't been working at it!
Here's a picture of me, just to break up the entry a bit...

Satch recommended the book 'Persuasion' by Jane Austen for me to read, and I've started that. So far, it's very enjoyable. And bonus - its free to download on a Kindle. Even if it's the worst book in the world (which it doesn't seem it will be) nobody has lost out on anything.
Bless you, copyright regulations. Bless you. I'll let you know when I finish it!

Satch: As an English graduate I refuse to condone the use of Kindle's. Just so we're clear. 
Salt:  You're wrong. So wrong. They're so very convenient and lovely!

Salt: Secondly, I have started half marathon training. My gym membership has finally been put to use again since before Christmas, and I've been running jogging. It may be slow progress, but I can jog a 5k now, which is more than I could do this time three months ago.

I baked something I've never baked before - cookies! I've always been more of a cupcake baker, so these cookies made a nice change. You can read all about them here.

Finally, I may be a little behind in this, but I have started writing a novel. Yup. (And before any of you ask, no it's not going to feature any rich billionaires, vampires, or BDSM). Win. 1 chapter down, 11 to go. I feel that this one was potentially geared more towards Satch and her Creative Writing degree, but people read 'Fifty Shades of Grey' and that was horrendously written, so I think I'm in with a chance.

Satch: So what do you reckon, kids? Who's winning at the bucket list so far?  

Salt: Since when was it a competition?! 

Satch: Fine, who's made the most...progess? Have any of you had a makeover malfunction like me? Or read anything good lately like Salt?

Lemon Drizzle Birthday Cake

Hello one and all, Salt here!

Thought it was about time I got baking again, and what better excuse than my other half's birthday?
I gave Beams free choice of cake, and he requested a Lemon Drizzle, but I'm a firm believer that you should be able to tell a birthday cake from your average cake, so I went all out on the decorations and created this...

I must have had a lot of good karma that day, because I baked in a limited time scale, and everything went to plan. Miraculously, neither half got stuck to the bottom of the tin and I managed to not drop the mixture, while trying to put it in the oven (that has happened before - humiliating!).

It was very well received by the boy, as were the presents you can see in the background. But more on his birthday festivities another time. Here's how I made this spongey lemony goodness!

For the cake:
 - 250g unsalted butter
 - 300g caster sugar
 - 4 large eggs
 - 300g self-raising flour
 - 2tbsp lemon curd

Making the sponge is fairly straight forward, and would definitely be easier with an electric whisk. Sadly, I don't have one of those, so it took a fair amount of time!

Firstly, cream the butter and sugar together.
Beat the eggs, and gradually mix them in with the butter and sugar.
Sift in the selfraising flour, and finally, stir in the lemon curd. Simple!

Pop the mixtures in two greased cake tins and pop in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Once baked, and a cocktail stick comes out clean, remove the tins from the oven.
Keeping the cakes in the tins, pop them on a cooling rack.

For the glaze:
 - Juice of one lemon
 - 4tbsp granulated sugar

Mix the lemon juice and the sugar together.
Take a cocktail stick and make several smalll shallow holes in the cakes. While they are still warm, pour over the lemony, sugary glaze.
As the cake cools, this will seep through the cake, as well as settling on top.

For the filling:
 - 300g full fat cream cheese
 - 2tbsp lemon curd

Once the cakes are completely cool, remove them from the tins.
To create your filling, mix together the cream cheese and lemon curd, and spread it onto to the top pf one of the cakes with a pallet knife. Place the remaining cake on top.

The glaze would have left a nice shiny topping, but as it was a birthday cake, I felt the need to go all out on the decoration, so I saved half of the filling to go on top too, and finished it off with lemon sugar crunch, which I found in Morrissons, and some colourful birthday candles!

If you try it out, please do let me know how it works for you!
This is one of the simplest cakes I've made, which still has a definite wow factor. Enjoy and bon apetit!

Friday, 14 June 2013

The Day We Became Cool Kids

Hello Friends! 

Satch: We have a very exciting blog-noucement for you bestie bucket list fans; we got tattoos! This is probably the most permanent thing on our list (I'm not sure if anything is more permanent!) And it's a toss up between this and sky-diving as to which one is the most bad ass. Needless to say, Salt and I think we're pretty cool right now. 

Salt: We're so cool that we can carry on being as lame as before, only now, because of our foot ink, it will seem 'ironic'. 

Satch: However, if you'd have spoken to us an hour or so before the event (and some of you lucky sods did) we would have seemed like the biggest chickens on the planet. As depicted here by our pre-tattoo photo outside wilkinsons. (We were hanging around because we didn't want to be lame and show up too early...) 

I think the biggest mistake Salt made was not going for a nervous poo before going in, because she came down with the BIGGEST CASE of verbal diarrhoea (yes I spell checked that) that I have EVER SEEN. Literally, I have known this girl for something like nine years, and I have never heard her talk so much! At one point, she genuinely used the phrase "Go hard or go home" when trying to appear cool to a heavily tattooed, giant man. 

Salt: I have no real defence for this. Fear took over, and I crumbled into a giggling, babbling mess. Incredibly embarassing. Especially when the aforementioned giant tattoo man started chatting away to me and I made the 'go hard or go home' joke, swiftly followed by an observation about how sweaty my hands had become. Sexy. And Cool. Sool.

Satch: So we went in and finalised the designs with Tony (we totally have a tattoo guy now), and signed away our human rights, as you can see: 

Salt decided to go first as she thought, in her words, "I won't do it if I see you screaming in pain." Nice. 

Salt: I'm a really considerate friend! But let's not pretend that there's ever been any doubt over which of us is cooler. Satch wins that, hands down.


Satch: Well, if you insist! When Salt was in the chair, there were many faces like this one below, but seeing as we all thought she was going to cry we were quite disappointed with how cool she was tbh. However, there was a beautful moment when my cousin Naomi and her five-year-old daughter came in to see how we were getting on, and Salt hissed "Get Maisey out of here or she's going to hear me swear!" 

Salt: FIFTY minutes (I genuinely thought it was going to take fifteen minutes, tops), a lot of talking, even more sweating and a made-up song about how much shading hurts (Tony even joined in), it was complete. And here it is nice and close up!

I've fallen in love with it. I wanted something really meaningful, but also something that would still fit in with my sense of style, so this seemed perfect. Each flower (without going into too many soppy details) represents something different and something that's been significant in making me the person that I am today.

Satch: While I thought it'd be hilarious to get up and walk about at this point, Salt wasn't having any of it, and it was my turn for the chair. I think I thought I'd be cool if I smiled all the way through, but these pictures clearly show how scared I was!

Salt: Not that I'm in anyway bitter, but Satch is the bravest lady I know. It takes some courage to get up in that chair after seeing your best friend go temporarily insane from the pain.

Satch: In fairness, my tattoo only took half an hour, as it was less complicated than Salt's, so I spent less time in pain. Plus, apparently it hurts more nearer to the toes, which only a small part of my tattoo involves, but Salt's entire ink was all in that area! Bad move lol .

Tony thought it'd be hilarious to draw a swastika in the middle of my sun design, which I went along with. However, as his English wasn't great I was extremely concerned when the swastika was still there when he rubbed it on my foot! 

How do you say: "I'm not actually a Nazi" in Spanish?!
If Salt's tactic was to babble her way through it, mine was to get everyone else talking so they'd distract me from the pain! I have never been so interested in the programme Fear Factor in all my life! At one point, Tony even looked up and said "You're so calm, you're doing really well" - literally the coolest moment of my life (even if inside I was swearing like a sailor!) 

Here's my tattoo. It represents my favourite C. S. Lewis quote - which I'm only writing on here so no one makes me recite it to them ever because A) it's long and B) I feel like a douche: 

"I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen; not because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." 

I figured getting a picture version was a good idea because I've only got little feet, so he would have had to do the writing really small. Plus, there's a bit of ivy going on because Salt and I thought it'd be cool (Ok, not cool, but cool to us) to get a bit of the tattoo the same. Ivy worked really well with both of our designs, and it means friendship. Winner! 

Salt: We're cool AND adorable. Winning combo.

Satch: We then had our feet wrapped up in cling film, and decided it was well time for a giant drink! Luckily, Cobb drove us to the pub because walking was a hilarious impossibility. If I held back making a fuss when the tattoo was being done, I didn't let "seeming cool" stop me from letting rip about how much it stung afterwards! 

Salt: Don't let the smiles fool you. There are things people don't warn you about getting tattoos, so I will. Yes, the tattoo itself hurts. Like nothing I've every experienced. Its painful. but manageable. And it carries on for just under an hour. But that's the worst of it right? Oh no.
Then, it bleeds. And then it stings. And then, while its healing, it gets really swollen and scabby. But the worst part of all? THE ITCHING.

You have been warned.

But even thought I am the biggest wuss-bag in the whole wide world, I don't regret it in the slightest. The pain was so worth it, and I'm starting to see how people get addicted to it!

Satch: I can also see how people get addicted; I already started fantasisng about a new one until Cobb's face looked so sad I couldn't! (He's not so fussed about tattoos...) I must admit, Salt's looked a lot more red/bleedy than mine did, but I have whinged just as much as she has! Still, I couldn't resist Facebooking a cheeky pic once the cling film was off and the nappy cream had taken some of the red out of it!

Salt: But did that really have to happen in a pub? Ironically lame?! 

Satch: Sure, I think that sums us up pretty well! Maybe "Ironically Lame" could be the title of our first album lol. 

Plus, I think the act of blogging about how cool we are for getting tattoos has taken away the coolness of getting tattoos - so nothing's really changed!  

So what do y'all think of our ink? (Love a rhyme!) Anyone ever get a tattoo in a more painful place, or considering getting one but haven't taken the plunge yet? Let us know in the comments below!