Thursday, 30 January 2014

Operation: Wedding Preparation

As if by magic, my wedding mojo is back and it means business. I've got to say, I am loving every second of it, and hope it doesn't dissappear anytime soon. I think it might have something to do with the fiasco that was our wedding venue, which has now been resolved by us actually upping-sticks and going with a completely different reception venue. Talk about cutting it close, eh?
But all's well that ends well, and I am going full steam ahead with the wedding plans, and will plow down anyone who gets in my way and threatens to rain on my parade.

A friend once described me as a rebel traditionalist. Sometimes I like to do things by the book, and sometimes I like to do things my way and completely throw the rule book out the window.
So in rebellion against this obscure bridal trend which seems to be sweeping the nation, of keeping everything about your big day a is a photographic account of all the bits and pieces I have been collecting so far.

I know, ultimately the details and the layout of my big day will be a big surprise for everyone, because I am still yet to figure this out too but, I've got a few things that I know for certain and I am more than happy to share my excitement and inspiration with all you lovely folks that read my blog.

The devil is definitely in the detail with our wedding, and I have been collecting little bits and piece like a crazy person. Bits and pieces like French wine corks for place settings, old jam jars and crume brulee dishes to hold tealights for in the evening, wicker hearts to hang from door handles, and every available surface, and wooden fruit crates so kindly bestowed upon me by friend at the fruit and veg stall in Cardiff Market which I have been painting white. These will hold items such as confetti pouches, and our Orders of services, and whatever else needs to live in a wooden crate.

These larger jars will sit on our tables and again, any other surface I can cover, and will be filled with billowing blooms of hydrangeas and a whole load of other lovely French stylee flowers, maybe a bunch of lavender here, or a handful of rosemary there.

I am more than excited to make the dresses for my flowergirls using this Belle and Boo fabric. I've trawling the shops for months and became more and more disheartened by not being able to find something that was the perfect balance of quirky/original and girly, without being too twee.
So, the solution? Make them myself ofcourse. I will be doing a couple of calico toiles first to check the fit of the paper pattern is correct, as my poor little nieces may have inherited my short genes even from a young age so I don't want them to be swamped in fabric. No, sirree. The outfit will be finished off my dainty hair accessories, butterfly print tights, and flowers of course.

And last but not least, the invitations. Again, the devil is in the detail with these, and I have been collecting bits and pieces in a crazed stationery fueled addictive state practically since the Mr got down on one knee. Just ahead of making the flower girls' dresses, I think this is one of the things I am most excited about too. I know some people may be reading this and tearing their hair out that I am giving away so much about our wedding before I've even walked down the aisle, but there is one thing I am trying to keep under my hat, and that is the invitations. Here I go with the traditionalist stuff... I am a strong believer in the invitation being the first little taster that your guests have into what the big day will be like, so I'm trying to keep my excitement contained and not let the cat out the bag until these have all been sent out around Easter time. Sorry folks, but you're just gonna have to wait!

So onwards I go with the wedding preparations. I hope I haven't bored you too much already. I fear my friends may think I am turning into one of those boring people that can't talk about anything else apart from how amazing there wedding is going to be. So let's agree to talk about something else next time, eh? Maybe cake! Cake solves everything. Yes...I think we shall talk about cake.

See you soon dear readers.

Love Hannah. x

Monday, 27 January 2014

Lazy Baking Days

Sometimes, when the urge to bake takes you, you just have to go with it. And on this particularly wet and gloomy afternoon, I was seeking almost instant gratification for minimum effort. So, off I pottered to the kitchen in my half asleep state from a very early start (in my pyjamas, ofcourse) and rustled up a batch of perfectly buttery, not to mention thrifty, Cornish Fairings.

The simple act of combining ingredients and dropping them onto a baking sheet in a semi-comatose state was just what I needed, and the result were very rewarding.

Citrussy spiced, biscuits with the perfect combination of crunchy and chewyness to them became a match made in heaven with a cup of tea in favourite new Peter Rabbit mug (a present from the Mr for Christmas). I then hauled myself off to bed for an hour, only to be greeted by the sound of the Mr arriving home from work and joyous calls of “Cor it smells good in here! Have you been baking?” before he swiftly pinched one from the cooling rack.

And thus, that comforting feeling was sustained by the happy notion that I had filled someone else's belly and also made them happy. Bliss. My work here is done!

And in the spirit of spreading that warm and fuzzy feeling. Here is the recipe I used from the Great British Book of Baking, no less.

100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp ground mixed spice
40g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1tbsp mixed peel, finely chopped
3 tbsp golden syrup, level not rounded (gently warmed)

Preheat the oven to Gas5/ 190°c.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add the butter, and rub into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the mixed peel, followed by the golden syrup to make a stiff dough.

Using your hands, divide the mixture in 18 marble sized pieces and roll into balls. Put on a greased baking tray, spacing well apart as they will spread during baking. (I made them in batches of 6).

Bake in the oven for 7 to 8 minutes. Keep an eye on them though, because of the golden syrup, just 30 seconds too long and they can colour too quickly.
Leave to cool on the tray for 5 mins to firm up before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Best enjoyed with a cup of tea in your favourite mug, and store in an airtight container. 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Wedding Diary: Inspiration

Recently those January blues have well and truly set in, and I seem to find myself longing for warmer climes, and longer days when I can throw the back door open, don a pinny and bake up a storm in the kitchen. Or while away an afternoon on my sewing machine, without an inch of housework in sight.

Our wedding is but a few months away now, and while most brides would be full steam ahead with the planning and organisation, I'm actually trying to take my foot off the gas a little and slip of into dreamland. You see, we're going through a bit of a stressful situation with our venue. With it being owned by the council, and the council currently trying to make cuts and save money wherever possible, there is a lot of confusion circulating around us at the moment. Needless to say, I am trying to get on with other things and push all this to the back of my mind.

So, I thought, what better opportunity to share with you all, a few inspiring images I have collected, and let you in on how our big day will hopefully turn out.

Rustic, relaxed and romantic are the words I constantly use to describe how I would like our wedding to be. Chic, but not so polished that everyone feels like they're on eggshells. I want EVERYONE to have a good time!

 My maid of honour will be my best friend Lizzie, whom I met at University, and my two young nieces will be flower girls with their bespoke Belle & Boo dresses made by my own fair hand.
Flowers will be delicate blooms of hydrangeas and gypsophila in small posy bunches, and displayed in oversized glass jars and battered enamel pitchers.

Our seating plan is a bit of a secret. It's something myself and the Mr are working on together. It's something that is close to our hearts, and I think it will raise a few smiles when people see the finished result.

Blue and white french linens will adorn the tables, with homemade striped runners. It's all about good food, and good company here. And not a chair cover in sight.

Our menu will be displayed on old restaurant boards, and wooden crates will feature throughout the day housing confetti, orders of service, and pastries for the evening guests.

Our invitations and place settings will all be made by hand. This is one of the things I am most excited about. I will be scheduling in a day with my dad to play around on Photoshop to figure out the layout of our invites. And I'm currently frantically collecting wine corks like they're going out of fashion in order to ensure everyone has their own unique place setting  which they can take home if they choose.

A little treat for our evening guests will come courtesy of my Mum and my Aunties, along with several military operational visits on the day ferry to France to stock up on pastries and cakes with which to feed our guests til they are full to bursting. And then if they've got room, there'll be a croissant or two to take home for breakfast. 

So, there you have it. A few ideas and inspirational images of (hopefully) how our wedding should pan out. And you know what, I think I can feel those January blues melting away already.

See you soon.
Hannah. x

Monday, 13 January 2014

From one year, to the next...

Hello folks!
Where has the time gone?! I can't believe it's been a whole month since we last spoke. How terrible of me!

Christmas has been a bit of a blur this past year. From the moment I pressed 'send' on my previous wishlist blog post, the rug seemed to be pulled from underneath me and I was catapulted towards 2014 faster than what seemed to be the speed of light.

There were a few opportunities to put my feet up though, nonetheless, and my determination to slow down and enjoy the festive period whole-heartedly was certainly challenged but I stood strong. December consisted of marathon baking sessions, and the grande assemblage of Christmas hampers for gifts, inter-mingled with 4:30am starts for monster deliveries in work, and late night shopping events, followed by falling into bed at silly o'clock and doing it all again the next day.

Christmas Eve greeted me with the attack of the lurgy in our household, and I arrived home in the evening to a shivvering and palid complexioned fiance, who I swiftly ordered to bed with a couple of Sudafed and a dose of cough syrup.
By the time New Year came around, it was my turn for a dose of the lurgy and New Years Eve was spent making Play-Doh pizzas at my mum's kitchen table with my nieces, followed by a hot toddy and an early night. How Rock n Roll! I was then awoken by the Mr in time for midnight, and we watched the fireworks from our bedroom window before swiftly falling back to sleep again.

I have since had chance to catch my breath, and slowly catch up on the cleaning but, it is at this point that I shall leave you. I won't bore you with the details of my 'Spring' cleaning, as I'm sure you're all too aware of it as well but, I shall leave you with a memento of what's on the horizon for me and this 'ere blog too.

It is exactly 7months and 17days until I become wed, and this is running away with me far too fast for my liking too.
So over the next few weeks, expect updates of DIY projects. Frantically posted bloggings freaking out about things that probably turn out to be meanial, and maybe even a few Bridezilla moments too. Here's hoping!

 And finally in the spirit of 2014 (although I fear I may be late to the party). Here are a few my resolutions for the coming months...

Slow down! Even more so than last year. Take comfort in days when I have nothing planned but a stack of DVD's and a copy of Country Living, or a dog-eared book.

Perfect my photography skills. I fear my finances may not stretch to a swanky new DSLR just yet but, I can atleast learn to make the most of what I've got. (Hopefully this will be aided by a cheeky Christmas present from the Mr in, A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book. Thanks handsome!)

Learn to say 'No' more. There is no shame in resting on your laurels and being thankful with the situation you are in be-it professionally or personally, and I certainly need to learn to stop being a “Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir” kind of gal.

And last but not least...and I'm sure this on many of your lists too. Craft more! Learn new crafts, perfect the ones I'm good at, and generally push myself a bit more creatively. From learning to make different kinds of bread, to cross-stitching something for myself and not others, and even get back on track with my garment making and pattern cutting skills. This year will be the year where I become a one woman crafting band. Ok, so maybe not to that extreme but, learning a few extra skills can't hurt, eh?

I'll see you all soon folks. Try not to miss me too much.
Han. x