Friday, July 29, 2011

Another week, another coast line, this time the coast of North Wales.
I was lucky enough to move to this part of the world when I was twelve years old where I stayed until I left home aged nineteen.
Nanna and Grandpa Seaside, as they are known to those in the know, still reside on its sleepy shores. I only took a couple of photos, I was too busy splashing in the sea with Sienna, pic-nicing, being brought breakfast in bed and being spoilt.
So, below is a little snap shot of Llandudno in the rain and a ridiculously cute egg timer I pilfered from my mum's kitchen!
But now we're home again, to the midlands. A weekend of catching up with work projects and creating new ones awaits me...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Great Dinosaur Hunt

Professor Erica, from the university of Lyme Regis, and her assistant Sienna-Rose buttoned up their fair isle cardigans, rolled up their cordoroy trews and set off along the beach armed with a hammer and a pink bucket. The tide was on its way out but much paddling was required in order to reach the dinosaur beach. Alas, we were unsuccessful in finding any T-rexes, but we did find an old tea spoon, some fool's gold and a 1950's dolls head, (which is Sienna-Rose's new fav toy).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rima and 'The Hermitage'

I would love to share a blogger friend of mine....her name is Rima and I need not say any more than share with you the link to her wonderful blog and the life she shares with her equally wonderful and talented partner....

into the hermitage

Budget Cooking!

Times are a little lean at the moment, and even if they weren't this is still how I like to cook. I take my inspiration from country style cooking, no flashy lobster or caviar here! This recipe is sooo cheap and equally delicious. I use chicken thigh as it's much cheaper and far more tasty than breast in my humble opinion. I buy two pack of six thighs which comes in at around £5, then split into three so I have three sets of four thighs....enough for three nights coming in at about £1.70 per meal or 85p each!
This dish is spicy and mediterranean themed.

Serves two grown ups and one three year old.

You will need -

4 chicken thighs
Half a red pepper chopped in to big bits
Half a courgette sliced thickly
1 red onion
A handful of small waxy potatoes, (I used Anya as they were on offer)
4 garlic cloves
Enough dried green lentils to cover the bottom of your casserole dish
A spoonful or two of capers
Balsamic vinegar
Red wine vinegar
A teaspoon of either red pesto or sundried tomato paste
Dijon mustard
1 chicken stock cube
Black Pepper
Dried chilli flakes
Extra virgin olive oil

So, season the chicken with the chilli flakes and the pepper, (you won't need salt because the capers are salty little critters). Cover in flour and brown off in the olive oil. In the same dish your chicken was in, mix boiled water, chicken stock cube, a glug of both vinegars, dijon mustard, pesto and a few more chilli flakes.
Cover the bottom of your casserole dish in the lentils, pop in the browned off chicken, add the chopped red pepper, courgette, potatoes and capers, onion and garlic cloves. Pour over the stock, put the lid on and stick in a pre-heated oven (180C) for one and a half to two hours occasional giving the mix a stir and a shizzle while cooking.

Serve with crusty bread and glass of cold apple juice.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Seaside Break - Part One

It was Mr Nick's birthday this weekend just gone, and we always like to do something that we wouldn't normally do, so we remember it. Last year I was dragged up Snowdon, (the highest mountain in Wales), so I was much relieved to discover that this year's adventure included pasties, ice-cream and cider.
We set off at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning, rain obscuring our view out the car windows. After a few hours, as we neared the coast, the sky began to brighten and when we arrived in Dorchester for lunch it was sunny and warm! We couldn't believe our luck after such a bad forecast for all of Britain. My first port of call was Frank Herring & Sons, an art shop est. in 1930. My Grandpa Bob used to take me here when I was little and it hasn't changed much apart from the arrival of "crafting" supplies. It is stacked from the floor o the ceiling with e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g a scribbler could ever possibly need and has proper 'old school' stock for 'proper' artists, like watercolour brushes the size of your arm and pretty porcelain pallettes, not the silly plastic ones you buy today. I still have my porcelain pallette that Grandpa insisted I needed, as plastic ones 'were useless', and it really has served me well.
We had a few hours to kill before we could check into the B&B so we had lunch, then set of to visit Bridport. I must say I was a little disappointed. I had a vision in my mind of a cute little harbour with a little beach and some pastel coloured cottages, (I was SURE this was the backdrop I had witnessed Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall cooking fresh fish in front of), but it was a little bit neither here nor there. But never the less we had ice cream and a paddle and a thoroughly good time!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wash Day

I'm not a great lover of house work, but one thing I adore is hanging out washing on a sunny, breezy day. The smell of clean sheets and towels lifts my spirits, (I'm easily pleased, obviously), and I love sitting on the back door step, just watching them billow in the wind. Maybe it's some subconcious memory of Mrs Tiggywinkle that's inspired my love of white laundry hanging out to dry!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I'm really feeling a pang to take a trip to Paris, but alas problems of the pecuniary nature prevent me. One place I would love to visit is The Laduree Patisserie, their website is gorgeous enough so I can only imagine what the actual place must be like. They do have a shop in Covent Garden in London, but somehow I just don't think it would be the same...
So, I'm praying to the royalty cheque fairies that one or some of my books suddenly shoot up the best seller list so that -a) I can afford to pay for Mr Nick, Sienna and I to catch the train from St Pancras to Gard du Nord and - b) I can afford to treat us to one or two of the a-m-a-z-i-n-g cakes in Laduree, (I'm imagining they're tres cher!) You can click on the below picture, (courtesy of the Laduree website), to make it bigger and slobber...)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I love working into the night, somehow it doesn't feel like work as it's not between the hours of 9 to 5 and my brain is tricked into feeling rebellious. I also seem to feel more relaxed when there is a cloak of darkness outside, comforted in my cosy little lamp lit cocoon. I never felt this way when I worked in the shed at the bottom of the garden, I rarely went down there after dark, so even though it's a little cramped and a little messy here in the kitchen, I get much more done in the evenings now.
I'm very busy at the moment working on the wonderful Candy Fairies series, (link to follow).
The night time also seems to be the time when I am at my most creative and over the past two months I have tied up so many little literary and artistic loose ends and packed them off to London to meet their publishing fate! In the mean time I'm stuck in a sort of career limbo, not sure whether I've come to a grinding halt or if the coming months ahead will see my dreams come true....

Monday, July 11, 2011

Welcome along to  my blog, the button and the bean! Here you will find all sorts of bits and bobs, curiosities, recipes, stiched things, scribbled things, grown things and gererally simple things in my life that make be happy everyday.
Yesterday, I was pottering about, poking around in cupboards and drawers when I discoverd a handful of beans tucked away at the back of the dresser drawer. They were not in a packet, just lying there crying out to be scooped up and set free.
So, I put them in a little jar and carried them down to the potager. Now, it's quite late to be planting beans, and the vegatable patch is crammed full right now, so I decided to do them the honour of giving them their very own little abode...a rather pretty terracotta pot. In they went, up went the canes to support their little leafy bodies in a few weeks, and just to cast a little good luck spell, I tied their pink button that was lying with them in the drawer to the canes. A little reminder of how lucky they were to be rescued from their dark, dusty drawered existence....