Friday Foraging Fun (well almost)

Today we went foraging. It was a delightful sunny day and we had finished our chores so we decided to take advantage of the weather and head outdoors. We wanted to go foraging as September is a prime time for free foods. The main aim was to collect as many dandelions as possible to make a batch of dandelion liquor that would be ready for Christmas.Yarn anf foraging 005

As the weather was so nice it was just lovely to be outside and we weren’t expecting to find much.

We were pleasantly surprised. We enjoyed a good few hours in the open air and returned with dandelions (heads and leaves), clovers (the flowers are amazing and very sweet), crab apples, blackcurrants and mushrooms (which we decided to compost instead of eating to be on the safe side).Yarn anf foraging 007

Yarn anf foraging 010

Overall it was an invigorating experience that made us feel like children hunting for hidden treasure.Yarn anf foraging 008

This afternoon was spent making the base for the dandelion liquor with honey and lemon juice. As well as cleaning our prizes ready for use tomorrow.

We have found a few recipes for crab apple jelly and lemon aid that we want to test although this may involve a second trip at some point to collect more fruit now we know where it can be found. The site I will be using for my base recipes is :http://www.sallywise.com.au/blog/crabapples-the-not-so-humble-fruit/

I still have some leftover apples that I picked whilst at home and the blackcurrants picked today which will be cooked into either a preserve or a desert.

If you have any suggestions for things to do with foraged ingredients or want to share your own experiences please leave a comment.

 

I hope you are enjoying a pleasant September and reaping the benefits of what is available locally.

I hope you will come back again.

Dandelions revisited

In june I made a batch of dandelion liquer which I then proceeded to forget about and left to ferment. on getting back to uni we all decided to try it. it was a delicious very fruity liquer with a slight after taste for the alchohol.  I have been implored by my test subjects to make this again and will probably be giving away strained versions of the drink as gifts next year, a few of myfriends have suggested it had a mellow taste similiar to a sweet mead. however i have not tried mead so can’t compare the two.

I got the initial recipe from http://vallenuova.blogspot.it/2012/05/foraging-dandelion-liqueur.html

however the idea came from http://wildcraftvita.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/things-to-do-with-dandelions.html

the initial recipe You need:
100 dandelion flowers (collected when fully in bloom)
A syrup made with 250 g of water and 300 gr of sugar
2 whole lemons cut in pieces
Juice of 2 lemons
750 g of water
750 g of 95º alcohol
(you can use Vodka and reduce the amount of water accordingly)

English: Two dandelions side-by-side in some g...

English: Two dandelions side-by-side in some grass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make a syrup with 250 g of water and 300 g of sugar and let cool.

In a glass jar that you can close tightly put the flowers, lemons, lemon juice and syrup.
Close, store in a warm place and let rest for 1 week.
Add the 750g water and the alcohol and leave for about 3 months.
Filter and enjoy!

 

the adjustments i made was using honey instead of sugar and vodka instead of alcohol. only a tiny amount of vodka is needed however less than a teaspoon. the only other significant thing to note as i found with one of my earlier batches once open the mixture if not drunk within 3 or 4 days starts to go off. it would definitely be best to make this in smaller portions to avoid waste or invite friends round to help test each batch.

 

welcome autumn

its the end of the summer. tomorrow i will be traveling back to wales and hopefully continuing my blog with all the adventures i get up to with my friends. Already a few plans are forming of things we would like to try and people we want to try to reconnect with. after all it is so easy to lose touch with friends when away from the hub of university life despite all the advances in technology.

English: Fallen Autumn Leaves at an Arboretum ...

English: Fallen Autumn Leaves at an Arboretum in the UK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes it’s easier and nicer to get back to basics and do things for yourself. pick up the phone or send a letter.

A few days ago i went blackberry picking and today was rewarded with some homemade jam. I am very much looking forward to tasting it knowing i will appreciate it more because i picked the fruit myself.

Blackberry

Blackberry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I decided that a new university year means a new start its back to the books and also trying to stay fit. I often find hat trying to balance study exercise and pleasure is difficult to achieve. it is easy to see friends by arranging to study together however it is more difficult to fit in exercise around studying and find the motivation to undertake it after spending the day working hard.

I am going to be testing an app for  the Iphone and android phones called zombie run in the hope it will motivate me to get a bit fitter in between my library sessions. ( I will let you know how i get on later in the month). if you want to check out my progress it will be available at https://www.zombiesrungame.com/Hiddencat12/

Once again thanks for reading.

Save the date creation fiasco

Save the Date – DIY date cards

The first step of planning a wedding after booking your venue, the one that informs people of your intentions, is save the date cards.

Save the dates are sent out ASAP asking people to keep the date open in advance. They are available in several different card designs as well as more unique items.  Regardless of if you make your own or buy them, go for something basic or extravagant their main purpose is to provide basic information.

We did research on wedding save the dates and decided as we would later be sending out invites we didn’t want to also send out cards for save the date. Instead we decided we wanted something a bit more unique which wouldn’t end up in the back of a draw and forgotten about.

There are plenty of ideas out there but the two we liked most were save the date bags and magnets.

Magnets can be ordered from vista print with several different designs.

we particularly liked the silhouett wedding designs which can be found here:

http://www.vistaprint.co.uk/vp/ns/studio3.aspx?pf_id=A49&combo_id=195853&combo=108187.142.1.191095|191095%2c143762|137|0&uei=190325&ag=true&ssc=1&filter=4%3a10003||1%2c9%3a10013||1%2c3%3a10038||1&xnav=previews&xnid=button_12&rd=2&ref=1&referer=http%3a%2f%2fwww.vistaprint.co.uk%2fgallery%2fMBYAAAABAAMAAAA%3d%2flarge-magnets%2fcouple.aspx%3ffilter%3d4%3a10003||1%26xnav%3dsearch

However we were unsure of the quality of the magnets and decided we would prefer something homemade and therefore more personal.

We decided that we would make save the date bags.

To do this we bought bags from the clever bagger and persuaded my other half that I knew what I was doing when it comes to fabric transfer.

Turns out it is not as easy as I remember.

I tried a few different methods including using baking paper but eventually admitted defeat and decided to buy fabric transfer paper.

I scoured ebay and managed to purchase 20 sheets for under £5.

This didn’t go as well as planned either. After spending several hours creating a design which could be printed onto the bags and finally figuring out how to flip it so the image was mirrored not only would the design not smoothly transfer but the printer also ran out of ink.

Of course I ordered more ink and had attempt no 2.

This time I created a much smaller motif and again followed the iron on instructions.

The first attempt succeeded and I was elated

I gave my first save the date bag to a friend from out of town who was visiting for the day.

Then I decided to make a few more.

Ironing the patterns takes a few minutes each so I decided to just make four and see how they turned out.

Two turned out fine the other two had the same problem as my original design. The fabric paper would not smoothly come away from the bag without taking the design with it.

Now I have two finished bags and two I am unsure what to do with. However I hope to sort it out next week and will update you on my progress or lack thereof once I have had a chance to play around.

 

Useful links:

http://www.graphicsfairy-diy.com/2012/01/12-easy-image-transfer-methods-for-diy.html

Save the dates

Its been a busy few days My sister has graduated , I started a new job and
now have a wedding date. although individually these are pretty awesome
events together combined with the fabulous weather they have put me in
mood where anything is achievable.

Today I finally managed to book our wedding in the church diary. The
official date will be Saturday the 13th of September 2014. Now all we
need to do is send out our save the date cards (post to follow) and
decide on a reception venue before the true fun of wedding planning can
begin.

I went to my sisters graduation yesterday. a wonderful experience which made me realise how much we have grown up. We are close in age and now both planning for our life after university (although I still have one year left).

Another big thing was my first day at a new job today. lots of firsts but plenty of opportunity to continue doing new things aswell.

now I am waiting for craft supplies so I can make my save the date cards and post them on thier way.

How has your week been thus far? let s know….

Save The Date Concept

Save The Date Concept (Photo credit: Jerad Hill Photographer)

 

The wedding song.

Wedding Dress For Happy Couple in Love

Wedding Dress For Happy Couple in Love (Photo credit: epSos.de)

I’m getting married ! and what better to celebrate the announcement than Bob Dylan’s wedding song :

I love you more than ever, more than time and more than love
I love you more than money and more than the stars above
I love you more than madness, more than waves upon the sea
I love you more than life itself, you mean that much to me.

Ever since you walked right in the circle’s been complete
I’ve said goodbye to haunted rooms and faces in the street
In the courtyard of the jester which is hidden from the sun
I love you more than ever and I haven’t yet begun.

Me and my fiance have finally decided to set a date for our wedding. We want to keep the costs as low as possible so we will be doing it ourselves where possible and only calling in the experts where it is cheaper to do so or in an area we have no clue whatsoever and necessity demands.

We have already decided on our guest list of 50 guests. Now we need to finalize the date with the vicar who is not back till Monday and send out save the dates.

There is a huge list of stuff to organize in the next month or so but once that is sorted there will be little else until about a month before the wedding.

Here is the list of what me and The Count came up with when starting our list of things we need to do

Wedding countdown to do list

Finalise guest list

Decide budget

Inform bridal party of date

Book church

Book reception venue

Choose theme/ colour scheme

Pick dress and suit

Send out save the date cards

Choose and order invites

Set up a wedding website

Investigate photographers

look into Entertainment

research Caterers

Decide on honeymoon plans

Flowers

Choose Music

Create an order of service

Decide on order of plans for wedding day

Hair and makeup

Choose a cake

Favours

Vows

Toasts

Menu cards

Table plan

Seating arrangements cards for guests

Table decorations

 

The advantages of shopping around –reduced price TEFL course.

Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)

Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) (Photo credit: SEE TEFL Teacher Training)

 

Like many other students faced with a long summer and little job prospects I wanted to use the time wisely in some beneficial way. I decided after finishing my last assignment for the year that I would like to undertake a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) course in my spare time. This would not only keep me occupied and look good on my CV but would also provide the potential for me to work abroad after completion of my degree.

Unfortunately most of the courses I looked into were over £200 which is a lot of money when you have nothing coming in. I was chatting about this problem with a fellow classmate and she suggested checking Groupon (a coupon sharing website). She had got her own course on the recommendation of a friend from the sight at only £50 for 160 hours. This inspired me to have a look for myself. Although £50 was still a lot of money it was significantly cheaper than any of the other courses I had looked into.

On the other hand this led me to wonder why this particular course was so cheap. If I bought it through the TEFL-LINK website it would cost me £560 for the same course I could buy via Groupon for just £50. I looked at the terms and conditions and found that the only thing not included in the course was the cost of postage for the certificate which would be an extra £5.

I decided the best thing to do was look for reviews of the course and the tefllink website. When these came back positive I decided to go for the much reduced course.

This made me realise that there was probably lots of potential savings on the web for things I had never even considered checking. This strengthened my resolve to check in future and try my very best not to pay more than necessary. I bookmarked groupon and moneysupermaket an am going to test them out next time I need to purchase something online.

http://www.moneysupermarket.com

My friend sent me the link for the course which is https://www.groupon.co.uk/deals/special/tefl-express/22121740

And tefllink can be found at http://www.teflink.com/

I hope this helps and you save money in future too. If you know of any other great ways of saving money please do share.

Best wishes

Rachael

Kombucha continued

English: Mature Kombucha

English: Mature Kombucha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Hey again,

Last post I outlined the basics of Kombucha.  This time I am going to investigate  how to flavour the finished product.

 

 

Here is a video outlining the basics of how to start your own culture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z58FzJdliRE&feature=share&list=PLWzMfwDxBs_m9uVcO74d6KeRm8-eN6sGz

Once you have made your own Kombucha and got the hang of making plain batches you might want to have a go at flavouring.

Flavouring is done after the first fermentation. Once you have a batch of plain Kombucha you are happy with you can decant some of it into a separate Glass container (don’t forget to set aside some of your kombucha mix to start your next plain batch)  and then begin to experiment by adding the flavours of your choice. Bear in mind that Kombucha is a living substance so do not use chemicals to flavour it. Instead why not try adding fruit or fruit juice.

Once you have added the ingredients you are using to flavour the Kombucha then you have to re-cover it (still allowing it to breath) and leave it to re-ferment in a warmish (room temperature) place out of direct sunlight. After 5 to 14 days it will be ready to drink depending on your personal taste. Don’t forget to leave a comment on your own mixtures as it is always nice to find new flavours.

There is a fantastic video available on how to flavour Kombucha available here:

Homemade gift kombucha starter

This is my first full day back in sunny Yorkshire since Easter.  I spent the day unproductively enjoying the sunshine that has been reluctant in its appearance. This post is dedicated to my sister whose birthday is next week. She has just moved flat and I wanted to get her something nice but personal. For this reason I decided to make a gift this year rather than buying one. She is very supportive and often offers me both ideas and encouragement for my blog. After careful consideration I decided to gift her with a kombucha starter kit.

I researched what kombucha is in an earlier post along with instructions for starting your own.

http://wp.me/p3vj8Z-8Y

Kombucha

Kombucha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is what I learnt about basic Kombucha care:

Kombucha type of drink made using a micro-culture which is sometimes refered to as a mushroom or scoby. The mushroom is used to fement a mixture of black tea and sugar in order to produce a cold tea that can (depending on care) taste like anything between vinegar and champagne (although its usual taste is similar to cider).

You have to keep your kombucha mix in a glass jar out of direct sunlight. The lid should be removed in order to let air in but covered (I find kitchen roll and a rubber band work well) in order to stop dust and flies.

The scoby should not be allowed to come into contact with metal as this will kill it.

There are two ways to make kombucha either a batch at a time or in a running (continuous batch). For the batch at a time method you transfer some of the last batch of ready kombucha and the scoby to a clean glass jar and then add the cooled black tea and sugar mix. For the continuous batch every time you take out some of the liquid from the kombucha mix you replace it with more cooled black tea and sugar mix. For the second method it has been suggested that you add slightly more sugar than in the initial batch as the pre-existing mix as well as the new tea feeds off the sugar.

Plain kombucha takes 10 to 14 days from adding the sugar black tea mix before it is ready to drink.

The ready kombucha can be flavoured by decanting into another glass jar, without the scoby and the kombucha needed to start the next batch (or continue brewing), adding your flavouring of choice and leaving it a few days to take on the flavour.

I hope this explains the basics for those of you who are interested. I hope to do a post in the future about the different recipes which include kombucha.

Best wishes

Rachael

The World’s Top 10 Most Ridiculously Adorable Baby Elephants

Elephants

Quick Stepp

My buddy over at http://theverybesttop10.com/  has a blog dedicated to “The World’s Top 10 of Anything and Everything”.  I recently asked him if he’d ever considered doing a baby elephant list.  You see, I’m obsessed with elephants and I’m absolutely batty about baby elephants.  I mean all baby animals are adorable, but elephants are a special brand of cute.  One day I’ll get to meet one of these little guys in person, but for now I’ll settle for the honor of doing a guest blog for Russel and his awesome followers!

Let me first express how very difficult it was to narrow this list down to 10.  All baby elephants are delightfully cute, but in my opinion, as an expert on the subject, these are the best of the best.  Get ready for cuteness overload people!

10- Look at his little elephant face!  His little feet perched on this log…

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