watercolour maps

Happy Friday! Oh I am so happy it is the weekend. The first full week back at school has been exhausting for everyone involved. I plan on being in pyjamas from 6pm tonight until Monday morning! 

I just wanted to pop in and tell you about this awesome website. A week or so ago, Charlotte from Living Well on the Cheap, posted about this site and it is http://maps.stamen.com. You can view maps in watercolour! It is so beautiful, I just wish I would figure out how to create a decent sized print. You can search anywhere in the world to view. Warning: highly addictive and time wasting ahead!

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a little grid of framed images? You could do places you have lived, your home town, where you got married, where you vacationed, or went on your honeymoon. I love maps, but having them be abstract and colourful is even better! Only you will know the true meaning, which is awesome. How many more times can I say awesome in one post? 

Here are some images I pulled so far.

Where we live now.

 

My home town, and where we were married.

Our old flat.

So neat! I am in love with the watercolour maps! A few more hours playing around and maybe I will figure out how to print larger images!

 

 

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pork tenderloin with fake mushroom risotto

We were running late. I realised I had just over 20 minutes to get dinner on the table. Frozen pizzas were sounding appealing when I remembered I had a pork tenderloin in the fridge that needed to be used, like now. I flung the oven on and started heating up a pan while I quickly thought up a meal. I didn’t want the effort of making mashed potatoes and I really didn’t want a million dirty pans. Mushroom risotto sounded perfect, but I was out of risotto. Enter fake risotto. 

I quickly rubbed up my pork with some olive oil and herbs and threw it in the pan to sear. Use any herbs you want, but I used thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I started boiling my kettle to make chicken stock too.

 

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Trying to photograph something that is spitting hot oil all over your hands and camera is super fun. Don’t try that at home. 

Next I quickly hacked up some onions and mushrooms. Once the pork was seared on all sides, I transferred it to a hot and waiting baking dish and popped it in the oven to continue cooking. Then it was the onions and mushrooms turn in the hot tub. I drizzled some olive oil in the same pan and sautéed them up. Using the same pan allowed all the flavour from the pork to get all friendly with the onions and mushrooms. Next, I dumped in a mug full of plain old rice and a little hot chicken stock and gave it a stir. Once it was mostly absorbed, I added more chicken stock. Just like risotto. And I kept on doing that until the rice was perfectly cooked.

 

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 Once the rice was perfect, I took it off the heat and added a small handful of grated parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon for a bit of zing. I took the pork out to rest while I steamed some green beans to go with our dinner. 

Side note on how I cook veggies: I do not like to boil vegetables. I like crunch and vibrant colours in my veg. Nothing worse than grey soggy green beans. Bleh. I always get a microwave safe bowl, chuck in my fresh veggies whether it be broccoli, green beans, corn, cauliflower, you name it. Add a little salt and pepper then a dash of water. Cover the bowl in cling film and microwave for a few minutes. 3-4 minutes is usually perfect. The cling film sticks to the bowl and the water creates steam. It perfectly cooks veggies without loosing any good vitamins from boiling. And it is super quick which I like. I do the same for frozen vegetables, just don’t add any extra water.

 

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 Then I just sliced up the pork and served it over our fake mushroom risotto.

 

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This was an amazingly delicious meal and it took less than 30 minutes to make too. Yummy. The lemon in the risotto was just enough to give it interest and the starch from the rice made it taste so creamy even though there was probably only 1/4 cup of cheese. We cannot wait for pork tenderloin to be on sale again so we can feast on more!

hey, we can put things on the walls!

So we have been living in this house for ummm, a bit now, and I did a little something recently to only realize later that it was the first thing to actually be hung up in our entire house. Like period. I guess when every square inch of your house needs work, putting up something pretty takes a back seat, but really? Months without a single nail being hammered into a wall? Not any more!

When the girls come in from school, things go flying. The place we keep our coats and bags is pretty high up, so I am always stuck picking it all up and hanging it just so while they start shouting demands at me. When I was at B&M a few weeks ago they had a little shelf with hooks on it marked down to £3. I bought it with the intention of hanging it by the door for keys and…well I don’t know. Honestly, I saw £3 and figured I would find a use for it if it killed me. Turned out it was a smidge to big for being by the door, so I thought I could maybe hang it lower somewhere else so the girls could hang up their own stuff. And then it sat in its sad little box for weeks.

I finally decided on a place to put it so Alex drilled all the holes and we used wall plugs too because my girls are part Hulk and seem to enjoy ripping things off the walls. I remember when I made these cute little book shelves for their old room, painted just so, and hung low for them to access. Yeah, that lasted all of 2 hours before they were pulled off the wall. Ah memories.

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Boom! We have a cute place to hang their coats! And momma got a cute shelf to style up. Win win if you ask me! Oh but then I remembered this bit of art I had bought from Dunelm a few months before. It is actually metal and was only £2.99! (it is on sale now for only £1.49 too!) It was just leaning against a wall on top of our console table in the living room until I decided where I wanted it. I decided to hang it above our little shelf, and I love it. Cheap, cheerful, and it makes me smile when I walk in the house. Whoop! Congrats Mr. Shelf for being the first ever thing to grace our walls!

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No more coats on the floor and a flat surface to pretty up is the way to my heart it seems. What was the first thing you hung up in your house? Something functional or meaningful? Or do you just remember flinging things up randomly until you were done with it already?

perfection

We all strive for it, in some way or another. Everyday we are bombarded with images and written ‘proof’ of someones seemingly perfect existence. I know there are a lot of people who have debated the whole issue of social media and its effects on society. Good and bad. So I won’t go into some long rant about the topic, but I will say that I agree it has many benefits just like it has many downsides. Like most things I suppose. 

I have been thinking a lot about this blog during my little hiatus. Thinking about how I felt about it, how I could improve it, what I imagined it to be, and of course facing my fears and anxieties about the whole thing. I wasn’t really aware that I felt certain things until I began facing it all. And it all boiled down to perfection. Or better yet, my lack of it.

Blogs are pretty. Pretty little snippets of someones pretty little life. I follow a lot of blogs and have done so for many years. My favourites just make me sigh and go all glossy eyed at their beauty. Yes, I am aware of how that sounds, but it is true. Just like a lot of social media, it makes you want to create this spot of perfection in your own life. People only share things they want you to see. Usually these little snippets are the good things which lead you to believe they have the perfect life. Or so it seems. Whether it be how you raise your child to be the perfect little member of society, or having your living room be set up like a show home at all times. The perfect hair, makeup, clothes, kitchen, food, pictures…it just goes on. And in the end, it makes a lot of people I know feel like crap. And I chose the nice word to put there. 

Of course when I started this blog I wanted that too. I wanted it to look pretty. I wanted the perfect little header with the perfectly matching sidebar and blah blah blah. I wanted my pictures to look magazine worthy, staged just so. But after a lot of thinking, and beating myself up about it, I realised what I really wanted. Yeah, I could spend hours learning how to take the perfectly crafted pictures, and spend money getting props and all that jazz, but is that what I really want to be doing? No. 

I would rather give it to you straight right now. This is real life. The food I make is for my family. When I take pictures of a finished plate of food, that is my dinner plate. I take pictures as I cook, and then a picture of my dinner seconds before I eat it. So I am going to take a stand with this here blog. I am going to just give it to you like it is. I won’t be staging recipes. I won’t be staging rooms or projects to make them seem perfect. I won’t choose to not tell you of my crafty/diy failures. And I sure as hell won’t spend time editing my pictures. What comes out of my camera is what you will get. I have decided that I do not want to be another blog/media outlet that makes people feel less than perfect. Have you ever made a recipe from another blog, or magazine, and it looks like a distant twice removed cousin from the so called image they have for the end result? Oh goodness nothing drives me more insane. They use fake food. They use undercooked food too because it photographs better. They have people, who are paid a lot, to spend hours staging food pictures. I would rather be eating, playing, painting, and sleeping to be honest. Of course, if photography is your passion then great! Embrace it. Learn. Be the best. I would love to be able to photograph things like a pro, but I don’t have the natural talent for that and it is also not as high up on my dream list as other things. And I am ok with that.

This blog is just gonna be down to earth and real. If you make a recipe from here, it will look like my picture. No trickery. If you make a project that I show on here, it will turn out the same. I don’t pretend to have any skills, and half the time I make up things as I go along. Is our life, home, or family magazine worthy? Far from it. But, it is my perfection. And that is as perfect as I want to be. 

hello!

So I took an unintentional break it seems. I am not really sure what happened. The last week of school was crazy and filled with parties, concerts, and confusion. And then we had to adjust to summer, which does not sound difficult, but it was.

Day one started with me being jolted awake by Emma screaming that Sara broke the light. Eh? Sure enough, she tried to climb into Emma’s bunk bed and panicked, so she grabbed onto their light and actually snapped the wire. That reminds me, it still needs to be fixed. Before the early nights set in anyway.

Later, I was upstairs doing laundry, and when I went downstairs I noticed little tuffs of fur in the bathroom, which is odd. I realised it was cat fur around the same moment I spotted my razor (!!!) on the windowsill, also full of cat fur. It seems the girls decided it was a fantastic idea to shave the cat. Now, I still do not grasp how they came to this idea, or why they thought it was a good one. This was day one of our summer holiday remember. My girls quickly found out what being grounded meant. Welcome to summer!

Once we found our rhythm, Alex was then off work for two weeks which was bliss. We got a lot of work done in the house and also enjoyed a lot of nothing. Perfect. But now the girls are back in school (hooray!) so lets get this show back on the road shall we!

This is my last year to have one kiddo home for some of the day, so I am happy to be getting back into our routine. Next year I expect to be a blubbering heap on my bathroom floor all day. The perfect way to not deal with my girls leaving me.

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Although, last night it was fun to tell them to get to bed because it’s a school night.

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But I sure do miss them being around.