Sunday, 21 September 2014

A trip to Barter Books


This is a bit of a 'retro-post' as I visited Barter Books back in June but forgot to post about it! Located in Alnwick in Northumberland, Barter Books is one of the best bookshops I've visited.

The bookshop is located inside an old railway station and houses hundreds of books as well as a little cafe, and best of all a miniature railway runs round a track above the shelves!

It's also the place which kick-started the (slightly too ubiquitous!) Keep Calm and Carry On phrase into popularity. An old poster from WWII containing the slogan was discovered in a dusty box of books and put on display in the shop. Its design was so popular that customers started asking for a copy. You can hear the story of the poster and the shop in this video. If you're ever in the area I'd recommend a trip to Barter Books, I just wish I could have stayed there longer!

 




(PS This year has been a good one for bookshops - I visited Hay-on-Wye aka the town of books in May!)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Recipe: Pea, Mint & Courgette Risotto


I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with risotto. Mushroom risotto is often a staple vegetarian dish at unimaginative pubs. And a few years ago when I attempted my own I remember a particularly long session of stirring a risotto that just NEVER seemed to cook (I was quite hungry at the time!), after which I swore I'd never make one again. But after tasting a rather delicious pea & mint risotto at The Larder in Hockley a few weeks ago I thought I'd give it a go myself. (It's easy to vegan-ese this recipe by leaving out the cream/cheese and you can mix up the ingredients if you so wish!)

Ingredients (serves 2)
200g arborio risotto rice
800ml veg stock
1 red onion, chopped
1 small courgette, chopped
Half a lemon, use juice and zest
50g frozen peas
A handful of fresh mint, chopped
Splash of dry white wine (optional)
2-3 tbsp double cream
Cheddar cheese, grated
Olive oil

Method
1. Get your cooking playlist ready. (Mine involved Crazy Sexy Cool by TLC...)
2. Fry the onion in olive oil in a large saucepan for a few minutes then add the courgette and fry until softened.
3. Stir the rice into the onion and fry for 1 min
4. Add a ladle of veg stock, stir in until absorbed and keep adding by the ladleful for 20-30 mins, until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is creamy (aka the boring bit).
5. Add the double cream, and stir in along with a generous splash of wine. Stir in some grated cheese.
6. Add the lemon juice and stir in the fresh mint and frozen peas. Stir for a few minutes until the peas have cooked.
7. Season to taste, you're all done!
8. Enjoy with some crusty bread.


Friday, 12 September 2014

Film Friday: Guardians of the Galaxy


I'm not normally a big fan of action/sci fi films so have avoided most of the recent Marvel adaptations, but on a VERY rainy Bank Holiday Monday at the seaside a few weeks ago a trip to the cinema started to really appeal! So we headed to Cromer Movieplex (I do love discovering little cinemas in seaside towns) to watch Guardians of the Galaxy.

Did it live up to the hype? Well.. it was pretty fun! Chris Pratt was great (hard to believe it was the same chap from Parks & Rec!) and I did enjoy his 80s mixtape. A slight gripe of mine was that I found the main female character a bit boring... but it was hard not to enjoy GOTG (and the end sequence got a lot a massive 'awww' from our packed out screen room). Have you seen GOTG? What did you make of it?

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Great September Save-athon


After sharing my news yesterday about house buying, it's become clear that Tom and I really need to knuckle down and save money whenever we can. It seems we are not alone, as Janet also announced yesterday she is embarking on an autumn spending ban.

I will be keeping track of how much I manage to save this month, and have thought of the following ideas to help us pinch pennies...


1. We'll be making every Monday into a 'no electricity night.' I wrote about this previously here, and it basically involved turning off electrical devices, TVs, laptops and lights and lighting candles to spend an evening as they did back in the pre-electric age! This Monday involved us attempting a new card game (unsuccessfully as it happened, the rules were a little complex!) and me learning a new song on the guitar which I've not touched for months. I also broke the rules slightly by baking some cookies using our electric fan oven. Shh, don't tell anyone..


2. I aim to take a packed lunch to work every day this month. This may prove tricky as I often rely a bit too heavily on cheese sandwiches and get bored, but it should force me to be more inventive with my lunches! Wraps, pasta and heating up leftover curries etc will help.



3. Declining all invitations
 to the pub/lunches - and having friends over to ours instead  (with two possible exceptions that were planned last month!) I posted up some ideas on cheap nights in here.

4. A ban on buying clothes, books, newspapers and other unnecessary items for the month



5. Cooking more food in batches that can be reheated throughout the week


Do you have any other money saving tips you'd like to share? Or any frugal recipes?

Monday, 1 September 2014

Home Inspiration


A few months ago Tom and I began searching for our first home, and last month (after a bit of to & fro) our offer was accepted on a 1930s semi on a lovely tree-lined street in Nottingham, hurray!

The process of house buying is quite a long and arduous one though and we are stuck in a bit of a chain, meaning we don't really know which month we'll be moving yet. So for now I have started 'pinning' some inspirational rooms I like the look of. I am a big fan of Victorian fireplaces, mid-century furniture and vintage items so these houses were (ahem) right up my street.

Top: Hannah's (aka seeds & stitches) colourful vintage home via Apartment Therapy


Love this way of displaying cameras via altfordamerne.

 
 Fireplace love via Junkaholique...


I will really miss living in an old chapel, this one is beautiful (via sfgirlbybay)


A pretty bathroom via jasnajanekovic on flickr

I do love a good quilt (and dog) via design sponge


I've got to try displaying my photobooth strip collection like this via design sponge (in fact this whole sneak peek is beautiful)


A constellation wall via one little mama


Pretty lighting via Hilda Grahnat

Sunday, 31 August 2014

A weekend by the sea


Last week Tom and I celebrated our five year anniversary with a mini trip to Cromer in Norfolk. I hadn't been since I was a kid so it was lovely to revisit the coastal town and dip my toes in the sea, eat fish and chips and walk along the pier (which is featured in the final scenes of the Alan Partridge film!)

We stayed in a quirky B&B called No.4 which was full of unusual old items - neon signs, jukeboxes, taxidermy and even a skeleton! The breakfasts were huge and we were left fresh cakes each day as well which made our stay very cosy indeed. You can't beat a good weekend beside the sea!








Friday, 29 August 2014

Film Friday: Stories We Tell


In Stories We Tell Sarah Polley (who directed Take This Waltz and Away From Her) turns the camera on her own family as she conducts a series of interviews with them about the life of her mother, who died when she was 11. She uses old Super 8 film alongside reconstructed footage to reveal stories about her mother that throw up some big questions about her own identity. This is a brilliant documentary that shows how every seemingly 'normal' family has stories to tell, and makes you think about how memory can affect the truth, love and the bonds we make in our lives.