Sunday, May 27, 2018

Greek Summer Salad and a Photo Board backdrop for better blog photos

I want to tell you about a salad that I made and also a great product I found that will make taking photos for your blog or Instagram better straight away. But first the salad...

We went to a friend's barbecue yesterday which was lovely - my little girl enjoyed laying on a blanket in the shade and watching everything that was going on and meeting some of my friends for the first time. Here's a little photo of her for no reason other than she's cute!


My friend asked us to bring a salad and I decided to make a sort of Greek salad - it was very simple and doesn't really need a recipe! Simply half some cherry tomatoes, cut some feta cheese into cubes, slice some black olives and remove the stones (I actually used ready sliced ones from a jar) and tear some fresh basil leaves. Toss with a glug of olive oil and some salt and pepper for a simple but tasty salad.


I'm really pleased with this photo which I think is called a flat lay in style (i.e. a birds eye view). It was taken on my kitchen table which is made of glass - so it's a terrible surface for photograph and I usually put a mat or table cloth or something on it when I want to photograph food, but my table cloths always have creases and none of my mats are very big.

I came across a company called Photo Boards that makes backdrops for taking photos against. They use 'texture reproduction technology', whatever that is, so the boards look more three dimensional and not like a photo of a piece of wood - I think they actually look like you are using a piece of wood, rather than a large flat piece of PVC. They are lightweight and wipe clean which is great when you are photographing food, come in two sizes (I bought the 60x60cm one, the larger size) and a variety of designs and shades that look like you are photographing against wood, marble, linen etc. They are not cheap at £30 each so I only bought one, but I already want another!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Pink Flamingo and Balloons birthday card

handmade flamingo birthday card
 
Flamingos are a really popular motif at the moment and one night while feeding the baby I decided they would look really good on a birthday card, and bought a flamingo stamp from Dovecraft on Ebay.

I also bought some die cut balloon shapes - it would be cheaper to buy the die in the long run and cut my own shapes but time is something I don't have a lot of at the moment (I'm writing this while the baby takes a nap but can already hear signs she is waking up!) so I just bought the shapes pre-cut.

I was playing around with shapes and thought the card would look nice with several layered embellishments in different shades of pink - there's quite a lot going on on this card but I really like how it turned out.

To start I covered most of a white square card blank with a piece of pink patterned paper, leaving a small white border clear around the edge. I stamped the flamingo onto a piece of cream card and coloured it pink with a Promarker pen.

I cut a scalloped shape around the edge of a slightly larger rectangle of purple paper (which was actually a recycled birthday card envelope I'd received) and mounted the flamingo card on that. I found a wide glittery pink ribbon in my stash that I'd bought and never used - it is quite wide and very pink and glittery so a bit OTT for most cards but I decided it worked for this one! I stuck that across the middle of the card using double sided sticky tape and mounted the flamingo topper on that.

The final touches were two die cut balloons, one in pink and one in purple, and a stamped 'happy birthday' sentiment from the 'Say it with stamps' set from All Night Media on a piece of the same purple paper as the topper which I cut out with a wavy line. The perfect card for someone who likes a bit of glitz and glamour!

Here are some of the products I used:



I'm sharing this with Stamplorations where the theme is 'things with wings'; Crafty Ribbons challenge, As You Like It where the theme is pink or blue, and Creatalicious Challenges where anything goes with the option of 'all that glitters'.

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 21

There's another bank holiday this weekend which doesn't mean as much as it used to now I'm not at work, but it will be nice to have my husband around for three days! We are going to a barbecue on the Saturday with friends and another one with family on Sunday and are also planning to barbecue at home a couple of times this week as my husband loves to use the Weber grill... so that's a lot of barbecue food!

Monday
Pie and mash (pies bought from Waitrose rather than made)

Tuesday
Forecast to be the nicest weather all week so I think we will barbecue -  including Ocado recipes for chorizo and pesto flatbreads and barbecued new potatoes and griddled halloumi with herbs

Wednesday
Also supposed to be lovely weather so we might as well finish up the barbecue food!

Thursday
Chicken cacciatore from my batch cooking for me, chicken chargrills and mashed potato for him

Friday
Chicken goujons and chips for him, fishfingers and chips for me

Saturday
Lunch - bacon sandwich
Dinner- at a barbecue

Sunday
Lunch - breakfast burritos
Dinner - roast chicken unless the weather is too hot and I decide to do something else!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 20

A few thought on meals this week.... My weeks now revolve around baby S... meals are planned but then sometimes have a last minute change of plan, if I was in town and passing a shop where I picked up something else, or more likely, because S wanted feeding for the best part of an hour then my husband got home from work, and the meal I planned that would take 45 minutes to cook hadn't been started and we decided to have something quicker!

I've found the best thing to have for my lunch is a sandwich - I don't know whether I'll have time to make myself anything hot - and eat it while it's still hot - as S doesn't really have a feeding schedule, and can go anywhere from 1.5 hours to 3 hours between feeds. Also, I've realised I really like sandwiches when they haven't been made the night before and in my work bag all day... a fresh bread roll from the bakery and a more messy sandwich filling than I would take to work (such as the deli fillers you can get from the supermarket - I really like the seafood one made with crab sticks) is a real treat. I just need to stop eating cake and biscuits as I did really well at losing the baby weight really quickly, and then some, but have started to put a little bit back on! I'm not allowed to exercise other than walking until 12 weeks after my C-section which doesn't help but there's only a couple of weeks to go then I plan to sign up to some sort of buggy fit session in the park (though ironically the park is a bit too far to walk and I'll have to drive there and back!).

So this week we will be eating:

Monday
Tuna steak and new potatoes for me, chicken chargrills for him

Tuesday
My husband is out (I gave him a hall pass!) at an event near his office so I just had some pasta

Wednesday
Cajun chicken

Thursday
Lasagne for me, sausage and mash for him

Friday
Chicken burgers

Saturday
Lunch - sausage and egg McMuffins
Dinner - Mexican chicken traybake I didn't do last week

Sunday
Lunch - out with the antenatal class
Dinner - maybe sausage casserole or something lighter depending on time and what we had for lunch
 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Restaurant Reviews, Calas de Mallorca and Porto Cristo, Majorca

Last summer I had a few days in Majorca with two friends; while I reviewed the hotel not long after we got back, with one thing and another I never got around to blogging about the other places we ate. As so much time has passed this can't be classed as a review, as for all I know the places have changed since then, but I still want to share with you a couple of things that we did.

We ate mostly in the hotel as it was all inclusive and the food wasn't bad (though not great); there wasn't a lot to do in the evenings if you didn't have kids though as the entertainment was very geared towards small people and the other bar away from the entertainment was a bit lacking in atmosphere. While going to the beach one day we had a drink in the Martinelli beach club which had very cool ecletic d├ęcor- one section was shabby chic, another looked like something out of Arabian nights.


Another day we visited Porto Cristo, a pretty little town about 20 km from Calas de Majorca. We were given a bus timetable at reception and it was actually the first place the bus stopped after our hotel so we didn't have to worry about not knowing where to get off, and it only took about 20 minutes (we seemed to be driving pretty fast!). The main draw in Porto Cristo is the Cuevas del Drach - dragon caves. The caves are open to the public and have an underground lake where you can watch a classical music concert being performed, then cross the lake yourself by boat, which is quite an experience and very different to other caves I've visited.

You can only enter the caves on the hour, every hour, apart from 1pm when they close for lunch; the idea is that the tourists all walk together in a group at the same pace, though you can stop and look at the cave walls with their different features in your own time; it took us about 40 minutes then you all arrive at the underground auditorium at roughly the same time. The musicians appear on a boat on the far side of the lake and travel across, giving a ten minute concert, which is really atmospheric. Then you can either walk back to the cave exit or queue to get on a small boat and take a short trip across the lake, which I recommend.


It's a short walk from the caves to the centre of Porto Cristo, via the harbour where there are lots of restaurants and shops as well as boats to look at. We chose a bar and restaurant called Eternal, right on the harbour front; my friends served a tapas dish that was designed for two, while I had salmon with mango vinaigrette and the side dish of the day. The English version of the menu translated 'accompaniment' as 'garrison' (someone used the wrong dictionary definition there!) which was potato wedges. For dessert I had a white chocolate crepe with cream and chocolate ice cream which as delicious, though it was room temperature and I had expected the crepe to be hot so the ice cream would melt. We enjoyed the view from our table and headed back to our hotel as the sun started to go down.








I think this will be my last holiday for a while now I have a newborn baby!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 19

The bank holiday today was the hottest on record for that particular holiday and I had a fun day visiting my husband's brother and his family with our baby - she got to meet dogs for the first time! I ran out of time to do my meal plan so assumed I would do it another day but find myself sitting here at half past midnight waiting for our bedroom to cool down.... it was 28 C at 10pm and is now still nearly 26, which in my opinion is far too hot for a newborn. So baby S is asleep in her moses basket in the much cooler living room, and I plan to give it until about 1am to see if our bedroom temperature is any better then give up and sleep downstairs in the armchair!

My meal plan for the weekend just gone changed as the weather was so hot and we barbecued on Saturday, Sunday and Monday night!


Monday - bank holiday
Lunch homemade sausage and egg McMuffins
Dinner barbecue - sausages and steak

Tuesday
chicken, bacon and leek cottage pie from this recipe

Wednesday
vegetarian spaghetti Bolognese for me, meatball and pasta for him

Thursday
seafood risotto for me, chicken chargrills for him

Friday
something with chips from the freezer

Saturday
Lunch toasted ham and cheese sandwiches with mozzarella
Dinner Mexican chicken traybake from this recipe

Sunday
Lunch breakfast burritos I didn't do last week
Dinner toad in the hole or sausage casserole based on this recipe

Monday, May 7, 2018

Lemon and Poppyseed Loaf Cake


Towards the end of my maternity leave - and right after my baby was born - I developed the famous 'nesting instinct' and decided to sort out my kitchen cupboards. It's been really helpful because now I'm short of time I can find everything more easily - I also made a fair bit of space by throwing out packets of food I'd forgotten I'd bought that were long out of date!

I found a packet of poppy seeds - still in date - which I'd bought for a recipe ages ago and never used. I was expecting neighbours around the following afternoon to meet baby S and thought a lemon and poppy seed cake - lemon is commonly paired with poppy seeds for some reason - would be a nice easy one to make if I did it as a loaf cake.

I used this recipe from BBC Good Food which turned out really well - very light and fluffy and surprisingly moist. In the end the neighbours had to cancel and reschedule for the following week so I ended up eating most of this cake myself!

The mixture looks quite odd when you add the poppy seeds:


Much better when the other ingredients are in.


Before baking in the loaf tin:


The baked cake, cooling on a rack.


 
 With the lemon glaze

Perfect with a cup of tea!
 


.I'm sharing this with CookBlogShare and Love Cake hosted by JibberJabberUK.