26 April 2014

Lifestyle - My Week on Instagram #4

My week looked a bit like this...

1. Madam the teacher
2. I only ate one blue sweet!
3. Time for ice cream
4. "Mum, the cat wee'd on the floor!"
5. Madam the chimney sweep
6. Sweets from the Easter bunny :-) 
7. Beryl Cook exhibition

Somehow I have managed to jumble the order oof the photos up, but I figured it didn't particularly matter! It is still the Easter holidays here, hence all the silly ones of madam. She's back at school on Tuesday, so hopefully, normal service will resume...

What have you been up to this week? 

Love, Pearl.

20 April 2014

Lifestyle - An Easter Bunny Trap

Happy Easter! Hope you're all having a lovely day and haven't eaten too much chocolate. Madam and I did have some choc for breakfast, but mostly we've been good! 

I decided, as madam was so excited about the Easter bunny coming, we should make a big deal about it. After all, she put whisky and biscuits out for Santa... I'd seen a recipe on Pinterest that I thought it might be fun to do. It's called Bunny Bait and is basically melted chocolate with extra bits added in and then set.

For this we used a 100g bar of milk choc and melted it down. I then poured it into one of the little disposable traybake tins I have. We sprinkled chopped up mini eggs and gummy bunnies (no, didn't think that one through, madam was aghast!) as well as a crushed biscuit over the surface. Pressed it down slightly so it would definitely stick and put it in the fridge to cool. 

We took it out and put some in a glass for the bunny and ate the rest as an after dinner treat. It was yum! After madam was in bed and somewhere around supper time I put madam's present next to the glass and took most of the bait to chomp on whilst I read my book.

As I went to bed I laid a trail of mini eggs down the stairs for her to find in the morning. I don't care if it was completely over the top, this morning was so worth it! 

The best part was that she was so excited about the trail and the bait being gone she didn't even notice her present at first. I had to send her back to look for it. And then again to pick up the mini eggs so she could eat them! She was really happy with her gift, which was good.

We then had bacon and pancakes for breakfast and headed to church where madam learned about the Easter story and ate more chocolate. Life is good when you're 5.5! 

So how about you? Did you have fun this Easter? And if you don't celebrate it, then I hope you enjoyed the beautiful Spring day that's out there :-)

Love, Pearl. 


18 April 2014

Lifestyle - Hudl Love

So, I have been really busy the last few days as it's the Easter holidays at the moment. I really hate that it totally interferes with my being able to blog :-( 

It does mean, however that madam and I have had a bit of time to do some girly bonding. This has entailed rather a lot of arguing, but we have been to see Mr Peabody and Sherman (better than I feared it would be). We've also been spending a lot of time playing with my fancy new tablet...

Minion Rush, by the way, is horrendously addictive! 

My netbook screen got smashed, and you have no idea how much you need that top left corner!

I bought the Hudl after much soul searching and consulting with people on Twitter. I nearly went with a Kindle Fire as the last gen ones are on offer at the moment. £60 off, if you're interested. I didn't in the end as I needed something with more flexibility than a Kindle gives you. 

The Hudl comes with a 16gb memory, however it has a micro SD slot so you can add extra memory to it. It runs off the android system so you can download allsorts from the Play store. I have basically put everything I find essential on my phone onto it plus a whole load of games to keep madam and I amused whilst we're offline at home!

What a pretty face... 

I am probably driving people on Twitter mad with my Hudl love, It's just so nice to find a piece of kit that works so well for me and fits in with my lifestyle! Though I miss my netbook and am still hoping to get it back up and running. If nothing else because of the massive amount of photos and music stored on it. 

Oh, and having the ability to word process would be handy too. I have looked for an app for that, but couldn't see anything useful. Typing on a touchpad is OK, but I do like a proper keyboard and might invest in one soon... 

But, yup, basically I ♥ my Hudl. I have even gone so far as to buy it a new cover that matches it perfectly. The one I got with it didn't have a hole for the rear camera or speakers and this one does. I think if you're looking for a small tablet then this is a pretty good option for you. 


And no, Tesco have not sponsored this post! 

Love, Pearl.

15 April 2014

An Experiment

I have come to the conclusion that the laptop has had it! It needed a new screen and also a complete overhaul to get it back up to speed, it had been a bit dodgy for a while.

Basically I decided that it probably wasn't worth the hassle. I have instead replaced it with a Hudl. Which is a tesco own brand tablet malarkey...

So this is an experimental post, written from the Blogger app. I used it on my phone and didn't like it much so I shall leave this as short and sweet and see what I think!

Love, Pearl.

(I have decided I still don't like the blogger app! I have now edited this on the website...)

13 April 2014

Lifestyle - Birthday Fun

If you hadn't noticed, it was my birthday this week. Friday the 11th, specifically. I had a genuinely lovely day and I got to spend time with some of my favourite people. Always a good day when that happens.

First up, friend H came up to stay for a couple of nights on the Thursday which meant we got to spend a decent amount of time whilst madam was at school actually doing big girl things. Though mainly we did a lot of eating...

Friday started well, I got brought a mug of hot chocolate in bed (madam had insisted this is what H should make for us all!) and then we had cake for breakfast. So much more exciting than toast! We dropped madam off at school and then headed into town for a coffee. 

I then had my nails done. I went for a bit of birthday glitter, so basically a different shade on each nail! It looks amazing! Both hands match, I didn't get that carried away. Poor H sat and read her book whilst this was happening and it took longer than I thought it would, oops!

Most sparkly nails ever!
After nails we had a bit of time before meeting L for lunch. Time for more coffee then. Obviously. Also H managed a sneaky phone charge whilst we were in the cafe. Good skills.

Lunch was amazing. We went to a place in Beverley called Rebels Smoke House which is an American style diner that specialises in slow cooked local pork. And oh, it was good! I have wanted to go since it opened last year and the girls were in total agreement once I sent them the menus over! 

Our main issue was how on earth we were going to narrow down what we were going to have. We each had at least three different things we really wanted to try. And then they gave us a specials menu! We ignored that in the end and made some strict choices with ourselves. L and I ended up with the Pulled Pork Sandwich and H had the Sliders (3 mini burgers). She had a side of skin on fries with hers and I had onion rings with mine. Oh, and H had some of the most amazing crackling too. She rather generously let us share it with her. 

Best sandwich I think I have ever eaten. I wish I could have had more! The people on the table next to us had something called a Waffle Tower burger which was just a ridiculously large plateful of food!

Pulled Pork Sandwich, Onion Rings, Mississpi Mud Pie and shake, L with both our shakes :)
After eating our mains we turned our attention to the desserts. Both L and I were determined to have a milkshake because they just sounded so tasty. I did manage to talk myself out of the booze infused one I had my eye on. I shall go back just to have one on it's own. It would do it more justice.

We both had the Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel shakes. I had Mississippi Mud Pie, L had Pecan Pie and H had a Brownie Heaven Sundae. 

Afterward we were incredibly full! But so happy. L and I got take-away cups for the last bit of our milkshakes and we went on our merry way. We hit The Works, Lakeland and Boyes before having to part ways so L could make it back to her car and we could collect madam. 

Having collected madam from school, seen another friend E for a quick chat and been to collect a few final things we headed in to Hull for our overnight stay at the Travelodge in the centre. Yeah, not awfully scenic, but near enough to most things in Hull that we could walk wherever we were going. 

The original plan had been dinner and then cinema, but H and I still being really quite full coupled with an early film time made it a no-no. We ended up deciding to have a later meal and just enjoy that and then go for a Kids Club cinema showing on the Saturday morning.

Friday nights tea was had at Nando's. Mainly because we knew madam would definitely eat something and I wanted somewhere that would do a good salad! I had a Mediterranean Salad with Halloumi and Avacado extra. It was delicious and so refreshing after all that meat earlier! Madam had veggie fingers and chips and H had half a chicken with rice and salad. 

Mediterranean Salad with Halloumi and Avacado
Mummy and madam do duck face!
We walked back to the hotel and tried to persuade madam that it was bedtime. It didn't go awfully well, but eventually tiredness overtook her and she fell asleep. As did H, which left me watching All About Steve (possibly the worst film ever? What where you thinking Sandra Bullock?!) whilst drinking the last of my cider. Sounds sad and lonely, but I couldn't have been happier! Such a peaceful end to the day, really.

We had booked breakfast in with our room so went downstairs and had a massive cooked feast before packing up to check out before heading to the cinema. Having made a slight (ok, quite big) balls up over booking tickets we ended up going to see Frozen again! 

And then madam insisted she needed a McDonalds for lunch. So we did that and then headed home to let the cats out. H had to head home and I rather hoped madam would want a nap. Wrong. 

I napped for a bit whilst she bounced around watching CBeebies. We voted for fishfingers for tea. And then we watched Britain's Got Talent until it was time to pick the parents up from the airport. The glamour. 

I had such a lovely couple of days and my friend V's dad popped round to drop me off some fab prezzies from her. The only bad thing has been madam managing to break the screen on my laptop! Not good. But as you can tell from the fact I'm still blogging, it is still working, just a bit hard to see everything I'm doing!

I hope you've been having a good weekend.

Love, Pearl.

12 April 2014

Lifestyle - My Week on Instagram #3

This week featured my parents Ruby Wedding and my birthday. There were a lot of food photos! :)

My week looked like this:

1. Madam in her cape.
2. Madam gave her uncle a pretty new hairdo.
3. Waiting for my Parents Evening appointment.
4. Pretty rainbow.
5. Glittery nails.
6. Big girls pouting faces.
7. Pudding from birthday lunch with friends. 

What did you get up to this week? Hope it was as fun as mine!

Love, Pearl.

10 April 2014

Lifestyle - 40/40 pt 2

Yesterday I told you that my birthday is coming up and I have decided to make a list of things to aim for before the big 4-0 coming up in 4 years. I shared half my list yesterday so today I best tell you the other half!

40 before 40 - part the second.

21. Visit Paris for a day.
Basically, I want to go somewhere on the Eurostar and this seems the best place to pick as I've never been to Paris!

22. Take madam to Disneyland.
I have wanted to visit Disney with madam for a couple of years. She is such a fan and if we make it there before she turns 8 it'll be sooooo much cheaper!

23. Write the first draft of a novel.
Because I have started so many books that I have never quite finished...

24. Have a full body massage.
I have never had one. I think I need to remedy this. Possibly whilst also being at some form of spa...

25. Dye my hair a bright colour.
I have wanted blue hair since I was about 14. I have several friends who have blue hair at the moment and I am hideously jealous of them. I've just never quite been brave enough to take the plunge and I know my parents would hate it...

26. Own a diamond!
I'm an April baby which means diamond is actually my birthstone. I think it's about time I owned one in some way. 

27. Give away one thing each month.
Because I think it would be good for me to try and be less selfish. 

28. Always have a notebook with me and keep them when full.
I've usually got a notebook on me somewhere, but I want to underline how important that has started to become for me. I think keeping my notebooks to look back on will help me to see my growth as well.

Finally finished my clouds notebook and moved on to my new one the other week...
29. Keep a folder for madam's schoolwork.
I want to remember all those rubbish pictures that she's done. Because she's getting better all the time and I sort of miss them!

30. Get a good photo of madam and I together :)
I don't have one! So many pictures of madam, none of us together :(

31. Learn to make a selection of cocktails.
Everyone should be able to make a few cocktails, surely!

32. Walk along the whole of Hadrian's wall.
This has been a dream of mine since I was quite young. I've always fancied a walking holiday and this seems a good place to start.

33. Teach madam to knit or crochet.
These skills have come to mean so much to me and I think part of the joy I have in them is that I share them with most of the females in my family. They unite generations and they have a wonderful community around them. Plus they're both such great ways to help find inner peace.

some of my latest crochet projects...
34. Learn to use a camera properly.
Rather than my "point and shoot and hope for the best" technique!

35. Visit the Natural History Museum.
Another place I've always wanted to visit. Really want a major museum binge in London at some point the Natural History museum is just top of that list.

36. Have breakfast in bed!
That someone else has made for me. Just once would be nice...

37. Grow my own food.
Um, because things taste better when you grow them yourself. 

38. Sort out the DVD collection.
As we have no TV we watch endless DVDs. They have a habit of migrating from where they are supposed to be and getting into the wrong boxes. It drives me insane. Must sort them out properly!

39. Make a Christmas tradition just for madam and I.
Because every family needs a Christmas tradition.

40. Create a work of art that I'm proud of and display it in my home.
I've had a plan to make a canvas for a few years and never got around to it as I'm worried it won't be good enough. I need to take the plunge and have some fun. And displaying it will help with my "everything must be perfect" issues!

So that's it! All 40 things I want to aim for in the next 4 years. Do you think I've missed anything? 

Love, Pearl.

9 April 2014

Lifestyle - 40/40 pt 1

Friday is going to be a good day. I have got lots of plans with friends and with madam. This is because it's my birthday and I am going to be a whole 36. I feel incredibly conflicted about this. On the one hand I don't really care, age is nothing but a number etc, etc. But on the other I'm pretty sure my 20yr old self would be surprised at where I am in my life.

this is my excited face...
In the tradition of these things I have decided that I should make a list of things I'd like to achieve before I turn forty. Which will give me four years to get them all done. 

It genuinely took me two hours last night, wracking my brains, to come up with a list that I was pretty much happy with. I thought up 40 things; some of which are going to be quite easy, some harder and some possibly impossible! But I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't get them all done. This is just supposed to give me something to help me focus on achieving more with the next few years than I might do otherwise.

As it is a massive long list I shall split it into two posts for ease of reading. I shall do periodic updates to let you know how I'm getting on and what things I may have managed to cross off!

40 before 40

1. Make a dress for me to wear.
Pretty self explanatory...

2. Get control of my diet
As is this!

3. Sort out my divorce.
I have downloaded all the forms, I hope this will be done very soon!

4. Learn to finish one project before I start the next!
I am really bad for having multiple projects on the go at once. But I then never seem to finish any of them. I'm definitely all about the thrill of the new!

5. Make time for reading on a permanent basis.
My reading challenge has shown me how much I have missed regularly reading in my life. I want to carry it on even after my challenge has finished.

6. Give books I won't read again to charity.
This is an attempt to not allow clutter to build up. I know I have a few books on my shelves I genuinely will never read again, so lets make some space for better ones! 

7. Find a job.
Um, yeah, need to do that.

8. Take more photos of actual things.
I take so many photos of madam and food, I want to make more effort to record other things as well.

9. Learn a new craft.
Not sure which one yet though...

10. Remember I am valuable.
Because I forget too often.

11. Learn proper budgeting and stick to it!
You know, like an actual grown up...

There are bicycles, there are canals. Must be Amsterdam!
12. Take madam on a foreign holiday.
Because it'll open up a new world to her. And she's only ever been to Amsterdam when she was tiny! 

13. Take a trip to New York just with friends.
I have always wanted to go to New York and I would really like that first trip to be a selfish one where I get to do grown up things. And drink.

14. Take madam on an overnight trip that isn't to visit friends once a year.
The amount of excitement she has worked up for our overnight in Hull on Friday has shown me I should make more effort to take her places for just us. 

15. Start saving for a deposit on a house.
Because eventually, I want to buy one.

16.Cook a meal for my parents in my home.
They've not had a meal in either of the homes I've lived in in Beverley. This is a sad state of affairs!

17. Do something that scares me.
Meh! I can see that I am going to have to be high up at some point. Terrified already!

18. Get a cat.
Always wanted a cat. A British Blue is my ideal...

19. Have another child (!)
I never planned for madam to be an only child. I am thoroughly aware of the practicalities of that statement!

20. Watch a show in the West End (or on Broadway).
I'm a massive fan of a musical. I'd just love to see one in a big theatre and with an all star cast.

Look out for part 2 coming soon!

What would you put on your list?

Love, Pearl.

6 April 2014

Craft - Frozen Cape for Madam

What did you do with your Saturday night? I ended up spending hours making an Anna/Elsa cape inspired by Frozen for madam. She, like many many other little girls around the world is totally in love with the newest Disney film.

She asked me, originally, to make a cape like Queen Elsa's coronation one, but that one is really too hard for me to recreate easily. Princess Anna also has a purple cape on for the majority of the film and this has a pom pom trim. I decided to make a combination of both of them. It is full length on her and flows really well.

checking the length!
I found this simple tutorial on Pinterest and used that to make the cape. Obviously I scaled it down to make a child sized version and also made the hood a snugger fit as I didn't want it to be sinister! 

I chose to make the hood and cape ties in a different colour and fabric to the main cloak, just to make my life more complicated! It all went well until I came to attaching the hood to the cape and then I managed to break my sewing machine needle. :(

After a frantic hunt through the house I managed to find the spare needle I knew I'd seen somewhere. *Mental note: buy more machine needles!* After finishing attaching the hood I only had to add on the pom pom trim and the neck ties. Simples. Yeah, except the trim wouldn't go through the machine!

Pom poms pinned in position.
Hand sewing trim down the full length of both open edges takes ages! And I had promised it would be ready for the morning. Argh! I just used a simple back stitch and got cracking. That's a lot of pom poms.

But I am so glad I did it. It really finishes off the cape perfectly and it makes it look less like the quick sew it really was! (She has ordered a red one and a black one as well. You know, to be Red Riding Hood and Darth Vader. Obvs.)

Finished! Just waiting to be snuck into madam's room for a morning surprise...
Madam has not taken it off since waking up to find it hanging on the wardrobe door in her room. Well, except when I insisted during painting at Sunday Club earlier!

She wore it over her coat whilst walking to church and back and she wore it to the restaurant for my parents Ruby Wedding lunch. She even wore it whilst we watched Frozen after getting home from the restaurant again.

a demure, queenly pose

yeah, that's more like madam!
I'm glad all my effort was at least appreciated and the number of people who've commented on it has been quite satisfying too! But, no, I'm not making any more that quickly. At least not with pom poms!

She asked me to take a video of her dancing on her bed in it this morning, so here it is for your amusement...

What did you do with your Saturday evening? I think my next one will be *much* quieter!

Love, Pearl.

5 April 2014

Lifestyle - My Week on Instagram #2

This weeks Instagram round-up looks a bit like this...

1. Went to the garden centre, looked at yarn.
2. Mother's Day is tiring.
3. Presentable Pearl reporting for duty.
4. My pretty flowers (with franken-flower in the middle)
5. New dress for madam.
6. Easter present all ready for madam!
7. Breaking out my lovely new notebook and pen.

I haven't photographed any food this week (unless you count the sweeties), must be some sort of record for me. Though I did make the peanut butter and salted caramel treats again on Wednesday... The caramel even set properly this time! So good, so, so good...

That's been my week, what have you been up to?

Love, Pearl.

3 April 2014

Recipe - A Multi-Coloured Cake (that wasn't)

Last week I made one of my favourite cake recipes. Only, it didn't turn out the way I had expected it to. Sadly. This wasn't down to anything I did, I am an expert in Victoria Sponge, but rather a fail on the part of my food colouring! The cake still tasted lovely and was just as moist and yummy as always. Just not the multi-coloured marvel I had hoped for.

If you caught my twitter ranting last week when it went wrong you will know that I have said enough about this. And I don't like being a negative person. I will just say; when baking make sure you check that the colouring you use is bake stable. Most of them aren't nowadays!

I therefore umm-ed and ahh-ed about sharing and then I thought, no, EVERYONE can have a fail. It's what you do about it that counts. I won't make this a Pearl's Pantry entry because I do want those to all be stuff that have worked!

Right, so I should tell you what I did, first off, because it is Victoria sponge it is the most simple recipe. And really quite forgiving if you are a learner baker!

cake ingredients

I made a 3 egg mix, so for that we needed:
6oz Self-raising Flour
6oz Butter
6oz Caster Sugar 
3 Eggs.

Yup, that's it. Told you it was simple. We start off with the butter and sugar in the bowl and then you cream them together until they've gone creamy and fluffy. I do all my mixing by hand, so it took a couple of minutes for me.

Then we add our eggs in. One at a time. And I find adding a spoonful of flour with each egg makes it a bit easier to combine. Mix it all together until all three eggs are fully incorporated.

Your mix will look really sloppy but don't panic. Add in the rest of your flour and mix that in. It's best to add the flour half at a time if you're hand mixing, makes it easier on the old arms!

Once the mix was ready I split it. I left a quarter in the bowl I'd been mixing in so that would remain yellow. I then but the other three quarters into 3 separate bowls so I could add colours into them.

I added red, green and blue. Then I greased and floured my cake tin which makes it easier to get the cake out afterwards. I spooned blobs of the different colours in and then gave them a swirl to make a sort of ripple effect. 

Bunged it in the oven and waited 45mins until it was done. To test your cake insert a skewer into the centre and if it comes out clean then it's ready. The cake will also start to shrink away from the sides of the cake pan.

When I took the cake out the oven it became immediately apparent the colours had gone wrong in some way. I did slightly hope that when I cut the cake in half it would be better on the inside. Nope. I did achieve a two-tone cake. But not the colours I had wanted at all :(

I sandwiched the two halves together with some chocolate buttercream and then made three colours of icing to go on top, figuring I could at least make it look a bit more cheerful that way. 

Madam then went wild with the icing and we ended up with a distinctly messy, rather failed but yummy tasting masterpiece!

Moral of the story? Failures are not always unsalvageable, cakes can be rescued with some random icing. It's a cake, how bad could it be! ;)

I'd love to know if you've ever had a baking disaster. I can promise you this was not my worst one... I'm still infamous for having burnt a packet mix cheesecake when about 10!

Love, Pearl.