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Homemade Pasta and Pesto

Last year I was asked by the lovely people at Wayfair if I'd like to put a recipe post together for their readers and as we love eating in our house I just couldn't say no! 
They offered me some money to grab some bits that we might need to make the dish, and after a long chat with the chef in the house, Jim, he chose a new pasta machine and I picked some bits to go with it - some stunning pasta dishes and a huge pepper mill like you get in Italian restaurants! 

We go through phases of eating a lot of homemade pasta in our house - some of the recipes are crazily complicated and I worry we may never get to eat, but most of them are quick and simple and super tasty like the pasta and pesto recipe that we chose to make for Wayfair.  
Everyone looks at me like I'm crazy when I say that Jim makes 90% of our pasta from scratch, I think they assume that it's hard or really time consuming to do, but whilst it might not be something you can use if you're planning to whip up your whole meal in 15 minutes, it's certainly not as difficult as people think and graces our table on a regular basis

Pesto Ingredients:

30g pine nuts1 clove garlic, grated1 bunch basil leaves20g parmesan cheeseExtra virgin olive oil


Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan.Allow the pine nuts to cool and put in food processor with the basil and garlic.Add a small amount of oil and blend until well mixed.Add the parmesan and process for 2 seconds.Add oil until desired consistency and season well.
Ingredients For The Pasta:

100g '00' flour1 large eggTablespoon olive oil


1. Mound the flour on flat surface, or in a bowl to contain the mess, and make a well in the centre, deep enough to hold the egg.
2. Crack the egg into well and add olive oil and season.
3. Slowly mix the egg with a fork, the flour will slowly start to be incorporated.
making fresh pasta

making pasta

4. Once all egg has been mixed in, use your hands and knead with the heel of your hand (in a similar way to bread).

5. After about 5 minutes the dough should be warm and elastic but should not stick toyour hands.

6. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for half an hour.

7. Once refrigerated, divide into three pieces and flatten into a disc shape.

8. Set up your pasta machine according to the instructions.
9. Starting at the widest setting on the pasta machine, and dusting with flour regularly, roll the pasta out, passing through the machine twice per level.

Take care to allow the pasta to form a sheet that fits in the machine. Move to the second or third thinnest setting, but be careful to not roll it too thin - If you go too far, the pasta may clog the tagliatelle machine later.

10. Hang on pasta dryer to dry slightly, ours is a homemade contraption of skewer pushed though a cork!

11. After about fifteen minutes pass through tagliatelle machine, or slice into about 8mm slices and put back on pasta dryer.
drying fresh pasta

pasta dish

To Cook

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook pasta for 3 minutes.

2. Drain well and put back in the pot.

3. Toss in about half of the pesto and serve in a warm pasta dish. Pasta has a tendency to get cold quickly in a cold dish so we always warm it first.

4. Top with a dollop of pesto, more parmesan and grind some fresh pepper over the dish, preferably with a large pepper mill so you can pretend you're in a real Italian restaurant.

The memory card that changed my life*

So, maybe the title is a slight exaggeration but honestly the memory card I bought for my new camera is awesome. Totally a game changer for me!

You see at the moment my laptop works about 4% of the time and only if the charger cable is in the right position and the wind is blowing from the west! This is not a lie. I promise you. Which makes getting photos off my camera for use, well, anywhere a bit of a pain in the bum. And as my parents bought me a new camera for Christmas that I'm a big fan of using - this is rather annoying!
But my new memory card has figured out how to help me and came with built in wifi. That's right. A wifi memory card. I have no idea how it works (I imagine black magic or pixies are involved) but somehow the internet (yes, the internet!) is stored in the memory card and you can access it from your phone or computer and download the pictures straight from there!
My new camera is awesome. It's like to 400d I had on crack - but when we unboxed it we realised that in the years between the 400 and 700d's they've changed the memory card situation so I had to go shopping for a new one - and that's when my dad and I came across these little beauties on Amazon.

And it's surprisingly easy to use. Much the same as my Instax Printer, it creates a wifi hotspot and you connect to it from your laptop or mobile (on my mobile I have the FlashAir app that searches for the camera and connects to it) and every single image from my memory card can be seen, and downloaded or uploaded to my dropbox. It's making using the pictures so much easier - especially without a laptop!

And all for about £30. Told you it was magic. If you have a camera then you need to get one of these things!  

A dog lovers treat jar

Dog Treat jars

I've been making 'cookies in a jar' gifts for people for a long time. People love them. And what's not to love - it's everything you need all in one pretty jar! 

Last year when I needed a gift for Flash's dog sitter I thought - why not do a dog treat in a jar gift for them. Stan, the resident dog at his then dog sitters, had a lot of tummy issues and he's a veggie pup too, so I set about adapting a dog biscuit recipe to fit in a jar for his owner. She loved it. He loved the treats. Everyone was happy! 

Dog Treat jars

And they've been the 'go to' gift for puppy friends ever since, and when we needed gifts for a few pooch friends this Christmas we decided to bust some out again!  

So, this year if you have a friend with a dog you fancy treating this is a simple way to make them feel special.

Dog Treat jars

What you'll need; 
  • A nice jar - The recipe here fills a 1 ltr jar or two 500ml jars (just half it for the 500ml jars!)
  • Cookie cutter - I like to use bone or animal shapes - we went with a squirrel for my brother's dogs as they love chasing the squirrels in their garden and some other fun animal shapes for the others. 
  • 350g gluten free wholemeal flour
  • 100g gluten free white flour
  • Sunflour seeds
  • 100g rolled oats
  • 1 stock cube of chicken stock - crushed up.
  • Dried herbs - I like to use parsley and mint and basil to make the puppy breath smell nice! 
Dog Treat jars

What you'll need to do;
  • Layer the ingredients starting with the white flour first. Then I add a layer of green herbs, half the wholemeal flour, some more herbs, more of the wholemeal flour, the sunflower seeds, crushed stock cube, then your last layer of herbs and top with rolled oats!
  • I find I need to push the layers down as I go with a muddling stick or something like that to make sure that there is room in the jar for all the goodies. 
  • Next you'll need to add the cooking instructions to the jar. For a 1 ltr jar they read like this; 
    • Add - 75ml Olive Oil, 1 large egg (beaten) 50g grated cheese and 50ml water. 
    • To make - Pre-heat the oven to 160c / Gas mark 3. Empty the contents of the jar into a large bowl and mix together. Add the oil, the beaten egg and cheese to the mixture and combine. Add the water slowly to make a doughy ball. Once the dough is firm, knead on a floured surface and roll out to about 5mm thinck. Cut out with a fun cookie cutter. Bake on an over tary for about 20-25 mins. Let cool before giving to dogs! 
What do you think? Will you be making dog treat jars for your favourite fur friends from now on? 

Printing mini polaroids - the Instax Share SP-1

I've had the Instax Share SP-1 on my wishlist for the longest time and lucky for me Jim took notice of my excessive pinning and got me one for Christmas. 

My love for the mini instax photos started about 6 years ago when I bought a mini 7 on ebay for 99p (yes, that's right 99p. It was even sold in Leeds so I met the guy selling it on my lunch break - I felt embarrassed giving the man £1. I tried to give him £5 but he wouldn't have it!). I bought it for a party and thought it might just make it through the night, but I was wrong, it's still going strong. But the camera is big and clunky and the batteries don't last very long so it's not something I take out with me very often. 

Enter the Instax Share SP-1 printer. If you haven't seen one of these little beauties before the printer prints your phone pictures on the same photo sheets that the camera prints on to - handy as I had quite a few packs of film already but the printer also came with 2 packs of 10 prints.

You connect it to your phone to the printer through a wifi hotspot and then an Instax app lets you edit and embellish your photo, then print to the printer! How awesome is that? I’ve been editing them before I print but you can add things like the date and time a shot was taken, or fun boarders to the pictures.

And believe it or not, the printer is actually smaller than the camera and the battery life is WAY better too! So far I’ve printed 20 shots (mostly of Flash) with the printer and the battery is still full (apparently it last for up to 100 shots!) It’s handbag sized, can print any picture you want to polaroid, and is, I think, a better quality of picture than the camera takes - but that's maybe because the phone takes better shots than the camera and my dslr takes better shots than either of them! 

What's not to love about this little box of fun? It's going to be coming on all our trips from now on and maybe just out on visits out and you should probably get one too!

January Lust List

Any one who has a birthday near Christmas will tell you that there are advantages and disadvantages to them being so close together. On the plus side you can get some awesome joint presents (case and point being my new DSLR from my parents!) but then on the other side you have people asking what you want and you're never sure because you've maxed out all your wants over Christmas - First world problems or what right? 

But I thought with a January birthday coming up I'd put some thought into what I might still really need/want/like for my January lust list - hint hint! 

January lust list

1. I'm in real need of an every day necklace, one I can wear all day, every day and go with everything. I have one I love with stars on it from H&M, but being H&M it's all tarnished. I love a lot of the Dogeared stuff but this infinity symbol is just too cute! 
2. It's a bit nerdy but I could really do with a nice backpack - Years ago I had a JanSport one just like this but it was left at a party and I still miss it - the leather bottom is perfect too! (I technically do have a backpack but I lent it Jim a few years ago and well, it's not mine anymore!)
3. The perfect pair of skinnies. Although I am yet to find this holy grail of jeans - my Zara ripped ones are pretty close so I might have to try all their jeans until I get some more that fit in the same way! If you have any tips on mid priced skinnies that don't stretch massively, please share! 
4. I adore this cute tunic from Topshop. It'd be perfect for thick tights and bundling up under coats this winter but great for spring too! And stripes! Yes!
5. My 'go-to' blusher used to be Benefit's Dandelion and somewhere along the line I stopped wearing it - probably when I got skint! But as part of my 'make more of an effort with me appearance' thing I'm thinking I ought to bust some back out again!

What have you got your eye on this month? Anything or are you all 'stuff'd' out after present day?

Travel - A trip to Vancouver, Whistler and Seattle!

Winter is well and truly here and we're just in the process of booking the sort of trip that will make we want to wish it was going a bit faster. 

We've been threatening to go to Whistler snowboarding for some time now, and finally the flights have been sorted and numerous enquiries have been sent to people with cute apartments on AirBnB.

The plan is to fly out to Vancouver, head up to Whistler for a week there, then back to Vancouver for a long weekend and hopefully to see the Gaslight Anthem too! Then, well, because we've flown all that way we thought we'd make the most of it and head down to Seattle. Jim wants to eat and I want to don my best plaid shirt and do a Singles tour. Important stuff right there. We do have to visit Delancey as Orangette (and her Banana Bread) is one of my favourite reads too! We're going out with Jim's sister and her husband for the snowboarding part of the trip, and my old Uni housemate and another good friend both live in Vancouver so we're hoping to spend some time with them too.

Now we just need to keep our fingers crossed that my knees make it through a week on a snowboard and another week or so of sightseeing (there is a high chance they might not!)

So, first things first - I don't suppose any of you have a second home in Whistler you'd be happy to let me stay in for a week do you? And also, does anyone have any tips on where to go - Which bits of the mountains should we be seeing?  Is there any apres we need to hit up? Where should we eat and drink? What should we see? How should we travel down from Vancouver to Seattle? Is renting a car the best option? Or should we train or ferry it? Is there anywhere en-route we should stop? Any craft shops I can bore Jim to tears with by dragging him into? We'd love to hear your suggestions please. 

Recording the year

I've always thought I should be a scrapbooker - but in the uk that term wasn't very cool when I was growing up so maybe a 'scrapbooker' with another title - but I've always saved mementos from trips to paste into photo albums and I have little bits I've saved from this thing or that place but it's never been very formal. Maybe that's why I started blogging? To have a place to store all these stories and things I like but without the glue? 

A few years ago I bought all the stuff I needed to Project Life - it cost a fortune and I'm going to be totally honest I lasted about 3 months of doing weekly layouts before recording that dog walk we went on to the same park, or the friday night in the same pub seemed a stupid thing to do and I got so far behind I just stopped doing it. There seemed to be too much pressure to do it the way the big bloggers who more often than not don't have a typical 9-5 job or a lack of cash to do fun things do, so I stopped. The stuff sits in the corner of the craft room, taunting me. 

And this last Christmas I did 'December Daily' - which was lovely but kind of stressed me out too - finding things to add every day in december. some days are just always going to be PJ's on as soon as you get home, beans on toast for dinner days and whilst we know they happen do I need to record it?

Maybe, I've thought, I'm not cut out to be a scrapbooker. But this year I am giving it one last fling before I throw in the towel and donate all my papers and glue sticks and embellishments to some other, more enthusiastic, friend - if you'd like your name to be on the list - tell me now as I am sure to fail ;) 

So this year I have a few plans when it comes to recording the year. 

I've bought this book from Sticker Stack - 100 stories
It's bright pink for one - so it'll make me happy when I'm using it - how could it not? Two, it's designed so that you just pop it open and jot down your story for the day - there is space for a little photo or momento and room for a note or two. And it repeats 5 times so you could go for it and do 500 stories all about 1 year, or like I'm planning to - try and keep it going for 5 years! I'm hoping it'll just sit on the bookcase and I can pop a note or photo or momento in it when I remember. 

I've also been pinning like crazy smashbook style albums

Travel mostly, as we've got a fun big trip lined up that I'd love to remember properly. These seem more my style, the randomness of adding and sticking down whatever you find or collect, rather than any sort of organised process really draws me in. Maybe I am a bit messy like that! And a friend of mine from the WI - Laura - has also inspired me with the books she does of her trips and I want to be as cool as her!

So, what I want to know is do you have any tips for me getting through the year without giving up on recording it? 

A look back at 2014 - and some goals for January!

I'm trying a new thing this year - being more positive - so whilst I'm glad to see the back of 2014, I want to try and take a few fun things from it - remember the good things that happened so here's a little Flipagram of the year we had! 
We both had our January birthdays, there were trips to Harry Potter land, golf and spa weekends, sewing projects, diy projects, we bought a house, we had so many fun days with the pup, we drank a LOT of cocktails and ate a lot of nice food, we went sailing, we visited friends, we decorated parts of the house, we undecorated even more of the house, we went to gigs, we went on day trips, we planned holidays for this year, we played in the snow, we (I) wore sequins. But more than anything - we made it through the year! 

So, I'm going into 2015 with some enthusiasm (or maybe I'm still drunk - who knows) - here are my goals for the month......

In the essence of being positive and happy I've left off this list being searingly jealous of Jim for heading out on a boys snowboarding holiday this month........but what plans have you got to kick the year off in style?