Recipe: Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Now that we’re into Autumn, one of my favourite things to make is soup. There’s nothing better on a drizzly day than snuggling up on the sofa with a big bowl to warm you up. It’s generally quite quick and easy to make, plus it’s really healthy and a great way of getting that extra bit of veg into your diet too. One of my favourite soup ingredients is pumpkin, but if you can’t find any, butternut squash will do just fine.

This soup doesn’t take much time to come together and has a little bit of a kick to it, so if you’re not a chilli fan you might want to reduce the amount. I like to serve this with a nice thick slice of granary bread.

Ingredients

  • 750g pumpkin
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5 carrots
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 chillies (deseeded if you don’t like too much heat)
  • 2 litres vegetable stock

Method

  1. Peel and deseed the pumpkin and then roughly chop all of the ingredients into smallish bitesized chunks. This doesn’t need to be too precise as the soup will be blended, but the chunks should be roughly the same size to ensure they cook evenly
  2. In a large pot, add a splash of olive oil, the onion and the garlic. Cook for around 5 minutes or so until the onion has softened
  3. Add the pumpkin and cook for around 10 minutes or so until the pumpkin starts to take on some colour
  4. Add the carrots, the cumin and the chilli and cook for a few minutes
  5. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Once the stock has started to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer
  6. Simmer until the pumpkin and carrots have cooked through and can be pierced with a knife
  7. Blend until smooth and then check for seasoning. Add a pinch of salt and pepper if required
  8. Serve with some crusty bread

Wishlist: Oh My Clumsy Heart

Jewellery. It isn’t something that I actually wear all that often, but a really nice piece just adds a bit of something something to an outfit. It’s the easiest way to give a simple outfit a little lift and that finishing touch.

On the odd occasion that I do decide to treat myself, I tend to prefer to give my custom to independent jewellery designers, rather than buying on the high street and so I often pick something up via Etsy. That way, I know that the item is going to be a little more unique and not something that every other person walking down the street is going to be wearing.

Recently, I discovered Oh My Clumsy Heart a lovely little online shop run by Sophie of the wonderful blog The Private Life of a Girl (which you must check out if you haven’t already). All of the items that are sold in the shop are designed and made in the UK and I have already formed quite a wishlist.

Oh My Clumsy Heart has a wide range of pieces, ranging from the delicate, to something a little chunkier and heavier—there are even fox and dachshund brooches—so there is sure to be something to suit everyone.

The items below are just a few of my favourite pieces. Now I just need to try and stop myself from buying them all.

  1. Silver Cube Necklace
  2. Confetti Dot Necklace
  3. Lenore Disk Necklace
  4. Wendy Origami Necklace
  5. Medb Antique Brass Necklace
  6. Penelope Horse Charm Necklace

All images via Oh My Clumsy Heart.

St Eval Candle Company

steval

A few weeks ago, Samuel and I popped up to Robin Hood’s Bay near Whitby for the night to catch up with my family who were also in the area. Whilst walking around the the village, I spotted some candles through the window of a gift shop and obviously couldn’t walk passed without going in.

On display were a number of candles from the St Eval Candle Company. The candles looked lovely in their little tins but I wasn’t expecting much scent wise until I gave them a little sniff. The company has quite a range of unique scents and all of the candles smell absolutely beautiful. Despite my home already being full of candles, I did not walk away empty handed.

The candle that I purchased (Bay & Rosemary) smells wonderful and fills the room, without being overpowering, with it’s invigorating scent. The candles burn very cleanly and seem to soothe the mind, rather than giving me a headache like some other scented candles have in the past.

The St Eval Candle Company craft their candles, which are made from a blend of plant and mineral waxes and have a burn time of around 45 hours, by hand in their Cornish workshop. Since picking up the Bay & Rosemary candle, I have also ordered a couple of their other candles (Sea Salt & Fig Tree) from their website. The Sea Salt candle has a lovely fresh, slightly citrusy scent, evoking memories of walks along the coast, whilst the Fig Tree candle smells clean and fresh and a little bit fruity too.

Overall, I am extremely impressed with the entire range that St Eval has to offer. The candles are of superb quality and certainly rival those that are 4 or 5 times the price. St Eval candles can be purchased from boutiques around the country and directly from the St Eval website.

Recipe: Granary Loaf

There’s nothing more homely than the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven and it tastes far better than anything shop bought. This bread is a fantastic accompaniment to soup, but also tastes great on it’s own with a nice slathering of butter (my favourite vegan alternative is vitalite). Although the bread takes a while to rise, you don’t need to keep an eye on it, meaning that you can get on with other things whilst waiting.

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g granary flour
  • 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar or honey if you’re not vegan
  • 300ml lukewarm water

Method

  1. Sift the flours into a large bowl, add the yeast and salt and stir to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl or measuring jug, add the water, oil and agave nectar and mix well.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until a soft dough forms.
  4. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for around 5 minutes or so until the dough is no longer sticky.
  5. Add dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a clean, damp tea-towel and leave to rise in a warm place for around an hour.
  6. After an hour, tip the dough back onto the work surface and knead for a few more minutes.
  7. Oil a loaf tin and press the dough into the tin evenly, cover again and leave to rise for another hour or so, until the dough has filled the tin.
  8. Heat the oven to 200°C/ 180°C fan/ 400°F/ Gas 6 and bake the loaf for 30–35 minutes. Remove from the oven and tip the bread out of the tin onto a cooling rack. When cooked, the loaf should sound hollow if tapped on the base.

The loaf is best eaten on the day it’s made, but will keep for a second day if kept in an airtight container.

10 Things That Have Made Me Happy This Week

I saw Rosie do the 10 Things That Have Made Me Happy This Week post and really liked the idea, so I thought that I’d do one of my very own. Far too often we dwell on the negatives things in life, rather than remembering the positives, but it’s those positive things that we should be focussing on. People who have healthy minds tend to lead richer and more fulfilling lives, so it’s important to try and have a PMA.

  1. My Husband. To be truthful, Samuel would be top of my list every week, but this last week he has been particularly amazing. I had to have a little operation last week and he’s been incredibly helpful and supportive, for which I am truly thankful.

  2. Reading. When I was younger, I would read for hours on end but in the last few years, thanks to the world of the internet, I’ve spent less time reading actual books and more time reading blogs and watching YouTube videos. I decided recently that I needed to devote more time to reading and so, I’ve been going to bed earlier in the evenings and spending an hour or so reading before going to sleep. I’ve actually gotten through a few books within the last few weeks and have found that I’ve been sleeping a lot better for shutting down the computer earlier too.

  3. Cooking. I always cook from scratch anyway, but this week (since I’ve been rather housebound) I’ve been able to dedicate a little more time to it. Usually after work, time is of the essence, so I throw something together as quickly as I can, but being able to be a bit more relaxed has been really nice. I’ve also baked my favourite fruit loaf a few times too. Maybe I’ll post the recipe for it someday.

  4. Netflix. Due to being off work at the moment and not being able to do very much, I’ve spent my week pretty much entirely on the sofa. It’s given me time to catch up on those shows that I never finished watching (Gossip Girl) and re-watch my favourites (The Thick of It).

  5. Pinterest. I go through phases with Pinterest, some weeks I won’t pin anything at all and then I remember how much I love it and go a bit crazy. It’s great for inspiration, be it meals, outfits or interior decoration.

  6. Bank Holiday Weekend. Samuel and I have been pretty busy for the last few weekends and haven’t had much chance to spend a lot of time together, so I’m grateful that this weekend, we’ll have a whole three days.

  7. New Clothes. I was a little bit naughty and treated myself to a few new bits from COS. I can’t resist a good Breton.

  8. Blogging. It’s taken getting back to blogging to make me realise how much I’d actually missed it. I mentioned more about the direction of Wow&Flutter in this post and I’m really excited about the future.

  9. Elderflower Cordial. This with sparking water has been my favourite drink of late. So refreshing and delicious.

  10. My New Candle. I picked up this gorgeous Bay & Rosemary Scented Tin Candle a few weeks ago. It’s one of the nicest candles I’ve ever smelled and fills the room with it’s aroma. I’ve burned the candle for hours and there is still loads left.

So, they’re the 10 things that have been making me happy recently, what about you? Thanks Rosie for the inspiration.

Current Favourite: Michael Kors 5020 Watch

mkwatch

I know, I know, it may seem that the world and his wife has a Michael Kors watch; I’d held off splashing the cash on one for a pretty long time, put off by the high price tag and their popularity (in the blogging world at least). Another issue for me was that I’d heard that some people had experienced tarnishing with the rose and yellow gold versions and I was a bit worried that it might clash with my white gold engagement and wedding rings.

Step in Miss Budget Beauty. I saw the watch in one of Khila’s photos on Instagram and instantly knew that I had to have it. In my mind I’d been picturing the perfect watch and this was the watch that I had been looking for. As the 5020 has a stainless steel bracelet, there was no need for me to worry about the clashing any more either. After about a week of umming and ahhing as to whether I really needed to spend £200 on a watch, I decided that I should probably go and at least try it on, you know, just to see how it looked. Well, let’s just say that the deal was sealed.

For anyone that hasn’t tried on an MK watch, you may be surprised at how weighty they are. In fact, it may take a bit of getting used to if you usually wear something a little more delicate. It’s a bit of a statement piece, but that’s how I like my watches to be as I don’t tend to wear jewellery and so I want something that covers both bases.

The watch itself has a 3.8cm chronograph display with Quartz movement and a push button clasp. It’s also water resistant to 100 metres. Yes, it’s something of an investment, but I have barely taken my off since buying it. Given it’s weight, it’s also something that should last a fair old amount of time. I did have to have some links removed as the strap was a little large on me, however if you buy the watch in-store they’ll usually remove extra links whilst you wait.

The watch retails at around £200 depending on where you are purchasing from, but you can find deals on Amazon etc. I found that the cheapest major department store is John Lewis.

Wishlist: COS

1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Not too long ago, I was in the habit of buying a lot of inexpensive items of clothing (think Primark et al), which tended not to be very well made and therefore didn’t last very long, at least, not in my experience anyway. I think that fashion has become a lot more throwaway in recent years and people often buy clothes without really caring about how long it will last, as they only plan on wearing something a couple of times.

I used to be that person, but as I’ve gotten older and become more comfortable with how I look (no matter how much I wish I was a few inches taller, it just ain’t going to happen!) I made the decision to try and be more responsible with my purchases. Now, instead of buying lots of cheaper things, I buy fewer but more expensive things. In the long run, I know that said things are made to a higher quality and therefore will inevitably last me longer, meaning that over time, the cost per wear is significantly less.

One such place that I frequent is COS. I do find that being on the shorter side is on occasion to my disadvantage as a lot of their items are quite oversized, but I never leave the store without having seen at least 3 or 4 items that I would love to own. The items above are a few of my top picks from their current season.

An Update

I’ve started to write this post a dozen times, but have never really finished it. You might have noticed that I have been somewhat MIA lately. I didn’t ever intend to ‘take a break’ from blogging, heck, I barely even got started, but a week turned into a month and so on.

There’s no real secret as to why I haven’t been around, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll probably have somewhat of an idea. A lot of little things mounted up and the longer it went without posting, the harder it was to find the time to do it.

I have missed writing though, so I’m going to try and set aside some time every week to do it (this is the goal anyway). My interests have moved on a little from beauty, I mean, I still love it, but I feel that there are other bloggers that do it better than I can.

I also want to improve my photography skills, I have a great camera and I don’t feel like it’s doing it justice to just take photographs of makeup, so although I’m sure that there will still be the odd beauty post thrown in, I’m hoping to move Wow&Flutter in the direction of a lifestyle blog, with more posts on things like days out, food and perhaps the odd fashion post too.

Thank you for staying with me.

The Buddha Beauty Company Spiced Apple Candle

As mentioned in my 2012 Favourites video, last year was the year that I really discovered my love of candles. I had always liked them, but the purchase of a Neom Candle made that like develop into a bit of an obsession. Now you’ll find a candle adorning practically every surface of my home.

I’ve never really been a fan of those artificially sweet scented candles (you know the ones that I mean), instead preferring something a little more natural. I also prefer my candles to be soy or vegetable based, as candles made from paraffin wax don’t tend to burn quite as cleanly and can throw out quite a bit of soot. Apparently, they’re also not that great for your health.

I had been looking for something a little more wintery than my much loved Neom Sumptuous candle for a while, when I stumbled upon The Buddha Beauty Company whilst perusing the stalls of the Manchester Christmas Markets. They have a number of beautifully scented candles within their range and the Spiced Apple candle fitted the bill. It has a sophisticated crisp apple scent with a hint of spice, making it perfect for this time of year.

These candles are made with 100% soy wax and come in glass 30cl containers. They burn cleanly (no soot stained walls here) and have an average burn time of 60-65 hours. The Buddha Beauty Company candles are priced at £15 and can be bought directly from their website.

Happy New Year!

Hello! For those that celebrate Christmas, I hope that you had a wonderful time and a Happy New Year to you all.

Christmas Day for me this year was spent with my husband’s side of the family and we had a rather lovely, if slightly manic day. I didn’t end up taking quite as many photographs as I had intended to but hey ho. Below is a photograph of all the presents that we had lined up, waiting to be given out to the family. Check out Samuel’s fancy wrapping.

I don’t want to overload you with photos, but I couldn’t not share these two. Here I am with Fudge, sadly she isn’t mine, but instead belongs to Samuel’s rather lovely cousin Becky (who actually happens to have her own blog here). The second photo is of Samuel’s Grandad and I, sitting down to Christmas lunch. There were 14 of us altogether, plus three dogs!

The week in between Christmas and New Year was actually pretty quiet thanks to the lovely weather that we have been experiencing lately, but it was nice to take time out and relax. New Year’s Eve itself was also quite a quiet affair, but as the clock drew closer to midnight, we decided to walk to the town hall where they were putting on a rather spectacular fireworks display. We were stood off to the side of the display so getting any decent photographs was pretty tricky, but I quite liked this particular one.

Over the last few days, I’ve seen quite a few posts on other blogs about resolutions for 2013. Resolutions are something that I don’t usually make, mostly because people tend to give up on them pretty quickly, so for 2013, I’m not making any faddy resolutions (although I would like to get a bit fitter) but I will be setting myself a few goals. For the moment, I’m going to keep quiet about them and see what happens. So for now, here’s to a happy and healthy new year.