Thursday, 20 December 2012

Why We Painted an Apron

This year Hubby and I decided that we needed to be frugal for Christmas.  Initially it was because we thought we'd be starting a family, and then because we thought we'd be moving.  Now it's because we want to be able to do both of those things in the future... and let's be honest, money is tight.

This autumn I went a bit mad for making jam.  Hubby and I spent most weekends arms deep in brambles harvesting berries, so we thought it would be a lovely token to give our homemade conserve... but for our nearest and dearest a little pot just didn't seem "big" enough.  So we got creative, and made something extra to make the gift of jam, just a bit more "gifty."

Christmas presents this year aren't expensive.  But they are brimming with love, time, care and attension.  We're giving a little gift basket of jam and a personalized apron. 

Hand-painted apron

To make your own apron you will need:
  • Cotton Apron
  • Paintbrush
  • DYLON fabric paint or pens
  • Iron

Luckily for me Hubby is a dab hand at art (you may have gathered that fine detail isn't a strong point of mine), so whilst he set to work creating some bespoke patterns based on our relative's initials and things that are important to them, I hit the internet and found some wholesale aprons for less than £4 each.

 1.  Iron the apron to remove the wrinkles.  You'll want it to be as flat as possible for painting


 2.  Once you've settled on your pattern, carefully sketch it on with a soft pencil - you can skip this step if you're confident, but Hubby likes being precise.

 3.  Simply paint in your pattern using the fabric paints.  They work just like normal paints, but be careful not to have too much water on your brush or the paints will run down the fabric (yep, we learned the hard way...).  Don't worry about the paint going hard, or that you can still see the pencil marks, all will be alright in the end.
4.  When you're happy with your creation leave it to dry.

5.  Iron your painted apron again with a very hot iron.  Make sure you put a piece of cotton, or tea towel in between the iron and your painting otherwise you'll end up in a bit of a mess.

6.  Once ironed your masterpiece is fixed in place.  Pop in the washing machine to remove the pencil marks and to soften any hard paint, and you're done!

This is one we did for my Sister-In-Law who's a tech-whiz... and likes roses.  Hubby's a clever stick.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Recipe: Three Ingredient BBQ Pulled Pork

I love the idea of entertaining, but when it comes to it my cooking skills usually let me down. I bake, but cooking... No... Just no.

But last week the phrase "come over, and I'll cook" just tumbled out before I could stop it. What on earth could a non-chef serve up to 4 girl-friends after a ling day at work?

That's where fool proof BBQ Pulled Pork comes in. It's only got three ingredients. Even I struggled to go wrong!


Three Ingredient BBQ Pulled Pork

  • Pork shoulder/ribs
  • Coke (I used diet cherry coke, but "full fat" makes it stickier!)
  • BBQ Sauce
1) Put the pork in slow cooker. No need to brown it or anything. Just pop it in. Turn the slow cooker to low.

2) Pour over the coke until the pork is almost covered and squeeze in about 300gms of BBQ sauce.

3) Leave for at least 6 hours...

It's done! Said it was easy didn't I?!

Simply pour out the excess liquid and remove the bones (the meat should have fallen off them so they will be easy to pick out) and "pull" the meat apart with a fork.

Serve in big buns with coleslaw and more BBQ sauce and get ready to lick your fingers! Delish!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Review: Pebble Grey Cosmetic Mirror

I am permanently attached to my mobile.  It's a bit of a standing joke.  On our wedding day hubby threatened to throw my BlackBerry out of a window if he saw it.  I on the other hand, threatened to have a special mobile-holster attached to my garter.  It got worse when I upgraded to a HTC which seems deliberately designed to do everything from a diary, a post-it note, a compact-mirror...

If I ever do need to touch up my makeup I usually reach for my phone, scroll to my mirror app and hope that I am somewhere bright enough for the camera on the front of the phone to pick up anything other than just a dim blurr.  It's far from ideal.

So when the team at Pebble Grey asked me if I'd like to review their illuminated cosmetic mirror I thought it would be great to see how a "proper" mirror compared to what I'd been attempting to use.

The mirror was a lot more elegant than I was expecting.  After visiting the Pebble Grey website and seeing their range of large mirrors and bathroom cabinets, I had assumed that the mirror might be a little unwieldy, when in fact it easily fits in the palm of my hand.

The mirror itself offers subtle magnification, and is embedded with battery operated blue-white LEDs that are under the surface of the glass and switch on when the mirror is opened.  The little lights make the mirror great for those times when you wished for just a little extra light to dab on that mascara (after all, no one likes panda eyes...), and are so much better than my mobile.

The one thing I wasn't a fan of was the quality of the hinge on the compact.  It seems to be sturdy (I've used the mirror a lot in the last few weeks and it's still as strong as ever), but the whole of hinge bracket is made of the same plastic as the rest of the unit which somehow cheapens the look of the mirror.  It would have been nice if the hinge had been made of metal or something, just to round-off the quality feel.

But over all I like the mirror.  It comes in a pretty box, and is supplied with a little black bag for easy storage.  I think it would be a great little present for those relatives who are really difficult to buy for... although when they see the box the recipient might think you're giving them jewellery...!

The Pebble Grey Illuminated Cosmetic Mirror is currently available for £14.99.

Disclosure: I was sent the mirror for the purposes of this review, however all opinions expressed are my own and are honest.  Links have been included out of courtesy.