Monthly Archives: March 2012

Preserved Lemons

I’ve meant to write this post for a while but now the sun is departing for however long, I thought the sunny Moroccan flavours from these preserved lemons would at least keep the sun in our mouths, if not on our faces.

Ingredients for preserved lemons

To make preserved lemons you will need:

  • A sterilised mason jar* and enough unwaxed lemons to fill it to bursting point. (I used a large mason jar and 9 lemons)
  • Enough sea salt to pack each lemon and liberally layer between the lemons in the jar (I used a 500g packet and had some left over)
  • Spices of your choice (I used cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks & white peppercorns but you could also consider coriander seeds, chilli or star anise)
  • Enough lemon juice to completely submerge the lemons (I used another 6 lemons)

Partially quarter lemons & pack with saltFirst wash your lemons, then top and tail them to remove the stalky bits.

Cut them into quarters leaving a couple of centimetres uncut so they are still joined at the bottom. Then pack the lemons with sea salt.

As you cut and pack the lemons, place them in your jar and squash them down a bit to release the juice. Layer the lemons with the spices and more salt.

When you can’t fit any more lemons in the jar top up with lemon juice until the lemons are completely submerged.

Preserved lemons

Turn the jar every few days and after about a month they will be ready to use. They should store for about 6 months, I keep them in the fridge to be on the safe side once opened.

Preserved lemons are so versatile. You could tart up a roast chicken by putting a couple in the cavity before you put it in the oven. Cook up some chicken thighs with green olives and preserved lemons. Make a marinade that goes beautifully with chicken or fish from rose harissa, olive oil and preserved lemons. Create a zesty sauce from chopped green olives, preserved lemon rind and fresh parsley. Or experiment by using preserved lemons in place of a fresh lemon in your cooking.

Give them a wash before use though and remember that just a little will impart quite a strong flavour. Some people recommend just using the rind and discarding the salty flesh but I think it depends how you’re using them.

How do you use yours?

* To sterilise jars, first wash well and let them dry in a preheated oven at 140c/Gas Mk 1/275F for about 10 minutes. Remember not to put anything cold in them until cooled or they may break. Nigella says in her Christmas book that getting them straight out of a hot dishwasher is as good as sterilised too.

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Cardboard Chic

Cardboard is usually reserved for packing, carrying and storing. It is the workhorse of household materials that never really gets appreciated. Not these cardboard creations. They are the celebrities of the cardboard world that have been transformed from merely functional into beautiful as well.

This cardboard pendulum wall clock is stunning with its laser-cut curves and the brass hands and acrylic numbers add some extra class. It is $46 which is great value and even including the high postage outside of the US, it’s a lot less than many inferior clocks. As well as clocks Seequin also do some pretty cardboard chandeliers.

Cardboard Pendulum Wall Clock - Seequin

I love the simplicity of this cardboard radio from Suck UK. If you get bored with the radio playlists you can play your iPod or MP3 player through it too. It can be powered with batteries or a DC adaptor so you can take it out and about with you, eighties style. It’s £25.

Cardboard Radio - Suck UKNeed an ad hoc chair that you can fold away in between uses? Look no further than this cardboard chair from Paperpod Cardboard Creations. At just under £35 you could get a couple. I love the idea of decorating it, you could use it as a kind of furniture guest book and get a written message from everyone who sits on it. There are toddler versions too.

Cardboard Chair - Paperpod Cardboard CreationsThese cardboard shoes made from old Quaver boxes with parcel string laces are magnificent. Even if they’re not wearable they look amazing. Mark O’Brien will do custom orders too so if you want a particular style of shoe in a certain brand box he may be your man. The ones below are just under £40.

Cardboard Smart Shoes (quavers) - MarkofBrien

The people over at Kid Eco, have some fun playhouses for kids made of cardboard that can be decorated and painted. Choose from a playhouse, puppet theatre, teepee, rocket, castles, fortress, princess castles or my favourite, the igloo.

What do you think? Has cardboard got a little jumped up or is it the new eco chic?

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Travel Wrap

These wrapping paper designs by illustrator Debbie Powell for Lagom Design are so bright and colourful.

The Gherkin, umbrellas, tea, Big Ben, Routemaster buses and black cabs are what you’ll find on her London gift wrap.

Debbie Powell London Gift Wrap - Lagom Design

Debbie Powell Yellow Taxi Gift Wrap - Lagom Design

Apparently Debbie is based between London, New York and Southbourne which explains all the black cabs, buses and this Yellow Cab gift wrap.

My favourite is the Travel Sticker gift wrap. Perfect for wrapping presents in that you’re sending abroad or an arrivederci present to a travelling friend.

Debbie Powell Travel Stickers Gift Wrap - Lagom Design

If you can’t bear to crease and cut them for wrapping, I think they’d look great put in frames and hung on the wall as a trio. Each wrap is £4 and available from Lagom.

If you designed some travel wrapping paper what would your design look like?

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P-P-P-Pick Up A Penguin Print

This morning I finally got around to framing and hanging my Mr Penguin With Balloons print by Showler & Showler that I got for Christmas.

Mr Penguin With Balloons - Showler & Showler

I think it’s really meant for children but I thought it would go nicely in our cow bedroom, that one day might be for a little person and in the meantime is a spare bedroom/home office. Mr Penguin comes in three sizes from £12.99 and on postcards from £1.

I chose a gloss black wooden picture frame and paired it with a snow-white mount with black core from Eze Frame that I thought would frame the print nicely and accentuate the bright colours.

Showler & Showler have a fantastic collection of bright and colourful prints and postcards suitable for kids and big kids alike. I particularly like their crayon print. They’ve just launched their new website and print range and to celebrate have a 20% off discount code to use when you buy prints, so pop over to their website for a pop of colour.

What do you think of Mr Penguin? Too kiddie or just adult enough?

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Tiger Tiger

Not the ‘Tiger Tiger’ of drunk women on hen nights dancing with men in bad suits at a dimly lit bar.

More The Tiger of William Blake:

“Tiger, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?”

Tiger Tiger Necklace by Tilly Bloom

Tilly Bloom has dared to frame this tiger’s symmetry and done a beautiful job, her Tiger Tiger necklace is £18 and available from Culture Label.

With the join at the middle I can imagine them prowling gorgeously on the end of their silver plated chain.

These tigers reminds me of The Tiger Who Came To Tea, do you remember that book?

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Sexed Up Scrabble

One of my fondest memories of our honeymoon is being in the Beach House at the Burgh Island Hotel looking out to sea through the steamy windows, with the wood burner warming us whilst rain patters rhythmically on the roof above, as we drink Champagne and…

The Beach House at Burgh Island

…play Scrabble all afternoon. What did you think I was going to say?? Agatha Christie wrote ‘And Then There Were None’ and ‘Evil Under the Sun’ in the Beach House so it seemed fitting to be doing something word-related.

Since then we play Scrabble a lot. Apart from the romantic memories, it’s practically the only game I can occasionally beat my husband at. We play it while we watch telly or if we’re feeling really competitive, in studious silence across the dining table. When we travel by train we’ll play it on my iPhone. Be warned, if you come to dinner you’ll probably be bullied into playing it before I let you leave.

Winning Solutions may have exacerbated the situation. They have expertly combined my love of Scrabble with my love of typography and created the Scrabble Typography Edition.

Scrabble Typography Edition - Winning Solutions

The magnetised walnut board separates into six pieces and slots beautifully into its walnut storage case and its birch cover slides over the top. Gone are the gaudy double and triple word score icons with simple numbers in their place.

Scrabble Typography Edition - Winning Solutions

The walnut letters wait on metal tile racks showing off their fonts making Scrabble not only about how high you can score, but also how beautiful the board can look. It’s a limited edition of 1200 sets and sold at $199, it’s available in August but you can pre-order now.

Do you prefer this or the traditional Scrabble board?

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Pleat Surrender

I’ve never really got on with pleated skirts. I wonder if it’s the reminder of my big hipped and bad-tempered country dancing teacher sashaying round the school hall in one in the 80s. Maybe it was that time I turned up to a party in one aged ten, only to find every one else in shorts and t-shirts laughing at me. Perhaps it’s the hurried re-ironing of my daughter’s school skirt each morning after she’s thrown it on the floor and walked across it several times the evening before.

Whichever one it is, I’ve generally avoided them. Until yesterday, when I saw this printed midi skirt from Ted Baker for £119.

Printed Midi Skirt - Ted Baker

Yes, I’ve surrendered to pleats.

It was the pattern that caused me to stop because it is oh so pretty. But it was the belt that made me pick it up from the rail. I love the contrast of the (faux) brown leather against the floaty floral pleated fabric.

Printed Midi Skirt - Ted Baker

Then I saw the maxi version.

Pleated Maxi Skirt - Ted BakerTo be honest I thought it would make me look like a tent and I tried it on half-expecting to hate it, but it was actually so flattering that I didn’t want to take it off. It comes in royal blue or fuchsia pink and is £139.

They’re not cheap, but they are so pretty that you could team it with a simple vest and flip flips and look fantastic.

With all the talk of the 80s and my pleat surrender I’ve got that Wet Wet Wet song in my head now.

Are you embracing pleats or standing firmly against them?

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A Kraken Brew

I love a pun, I really do. It’s the cause of a lot of eye rolling from my husband.

When I saw this mug I not only loved the monochrome sea monster design, but I LOVED the name, ‘A Kraken Brew’. Amazing.

A Kraken Brew - GX2

The kraken’s tentacles are taking over the whole cup, look!

A Kraken Brew - GX2

This cup by GX2 homegrown can only make your morning brew a better experience. If you want to spend your tea break day-dreaming of Captain Jack Sparrow that is completely up to you.

The cups are £7.99 and if you want a set or plates, teapots, bowls and tea cups covered in kraken, GX2 can do that for you too.

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Bag of Sunshine

The hope hanging in the air at this time of year and this beautiful sunshine we’re having has me hankering for bright colours.

Since my bag insult I finally bought a springy green leather bag but I’ve been kicking myself ever since I saw this gorgeous sunshine yellow bag from H&M. It’s such a lovely colour and is so soft.

H&M - Yellow Bag

You can get it in bronze or beige but I think this colour is the winner by miles. It’s faux leather which explains the disparity between its softness and its price of £24.99.

Is it just me or are you all adorning yourselves with colour now spring has arrived?

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Love Tubs vs. Bouji Bargains

I saw these beautiful Love Tubs recently and developed a strong hankering. The curvy legs, button seat and back and the rolled top have certainly made me fall in love.

Velvet Love Tub - Oliver Bonas

There’s just enough room to snuggle up with someone lovely on here, but if you like your seat to yourself they come as single tub chairs too. Both designs come in these bright and sunny colours. Probably best not to keep them outside though…

Velvet Tub Chairs - Oliver BonasGo the whole hog with a matching ottoman in a contrasting colour.

Velvet Ottoman - Oliver Bonas

The Love Tubs are £545, Tub Chairs are £385 and the ottoman is £365 from Oliver Bonas.

Made.com’s Bouji collection is similar in shape but comes in more subtle cotton-linen fabric or gothic black or cherry velvet.

Bouji Chair - Made.comI can hardly believe they make a profit by selling the chair at £189 and the rather gorgeous and ornate ottoman at £169. But who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth? Delivery can take a while with Made.com but the quality of the products I’ve bought has always been excellent and the wait is definitely worth it.

Bouji Ottoman - Made.com

I love the velvet brights of the Oliver Bonas chairs but I also love the contrasting piping and legs of the Bouji collection. Which do you prefer?

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