Thought of the Day: The Magic of Words

The Magic of Words - Thought of the Day - This and That Blog

I’m a big fan of J. K. Rowling, I’m sure that’ll be no surprise to any of you, not just because of her brilliant books. But also because of the wise words she speaks, be it in real life or her writing. Like these very wise words about the magic of words.

Out and About: Cosy and Colourful Cottages in Deal

Today’s post is all about the colourful cottages in Deal, one of the cutest little towns in Kent. But before we discuss those houses, let’s first talk about Kent. It’s one of those counties that I’ve visited but not visited, does that make any sense at all?! What I mean by this is that I’ve been a fair few times to visit friends, for the odd day trip with school, to get the ferry across to France or to peruse the shops in Bluewater. But I’ve never spent much time there exploring any of the towns and countryside around and boy have I been missing out?!! At least if the area surrounding Deal is anything to go by, because that little corner of Kent is stunning.

Cosy and Colourful Cottages in Deal - Out and About - This and That Blog

Cosy and Colourful Cottages in Deal - Out and About - This and That Blog Cosy and Colourful Cottages in Deal - Out and About - This and That Blog

There are large swathes of green fields, beautiful blossom everywhere you look, empty beaches and the cutest little houses you could ever hope to see. The colourful houses of Deal are so cute and come in all shapes and sizes. They really make this town something special.

Cosy and Colourful Cottages in Deal - Out and About - This and That Blog Cosy and Colourful Cottages in Deal - Out and About - This and That Blog

Most of the stunning houses and buildings in these shots are crammed into the narrow streets running parallel to Deal’s beachfront. I really had no idea that the houses and little shops were so picturesque and loved that each corner or narrow street led you to another unexpectedly colourful or cute cottage. It was just glorious and it did not ever get old!

 Tell me, which is your favourite picture? I think the top one is mine, the variations of blues is lovely!

– Fi xx

In the Kitchen: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Is there anything better than the perfect cookie? One that is crisp and crumbly on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside, that melts in your mouth as you taste it warm from the oven? Chocolate chip cookies like that are the the dream. But to find the recipe for said delicious chocolate chip cookies? It’s like finding a best friend, the perfect house or your lost favourite snugly pair of socks {please tell me that’s not just me?}.

I’m always on the look out for such recipes and I think that this chocolate chip cookie recipe from the Domestic Goddess herself, Nigella Lawson, is THE ONE. The resulting cookies are scrumptious and melty and chewy and full of all of the yum. You must make them and impress all that eat them. Go on, I dare you.

Chocolate Chip Cookies - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

You will need:

  • 150 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 125 grams soft light brown sugar
  • 100 grams caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg fridge-cold
  • 1 egg yolk fridge-cold
  • 300 grams flour
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 x 326 grams packet milk chocolate morsels or chips

Chocolate Chip Cookies - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

To create 20(ish) delicious chocolate chip cookies, simply follow these nine easy steps!

  1. Melt the butter and let it cool slightly
  2. Meanwhile put the brown and white sugars into a bowl
  3. Pour the slightly cooled melted butter over the sugars and beat together
  4. Next add the vanilla, the egg and egg yolk until the mixture is all creamed together
  5. Mix in the flour and bicarbonate of soda until just blended
  6. Lightly fold in the chocolate chips
  7. Use a spoon to drop blobs of the mixture on a tray – don’t worry about being too organised, although do ensure you’ve left a decent amount of spice around each cookie
  8. Bake for 15 minutes on 170°C/325°F in a preheated oven on a lined baking sheet. The cookies should be lightly toasted on the edges
  9. Transfer to a wire tray once the cookies have cooled down for five minutes on the tray

Chocolate Chip Cookies - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

Here’s a sneak peek into my baking habits – I’m not one for a tidy or organised workspace…!

These were one of the many yummy treats we served at the big birthday party and surprisingly there were none left the next day. Funny that! So have I convinced you to give these yummy cookies a whirl?

– Fi x

Life Rambles: Recently in the World of Fi

I always thing Friday is a nice day to remind yourself of what you’ve been up to, so without further ado here’s what I’ve been up to through the medium of ‘ing’ words. Enjoy! And do share what you’ve been up to too!

Recently - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Listening – now that spring has sprung it only seems right that I’m all about listening to Taylor Swift at top volume. 1989 really is the perfect album for a sunshiny day. Am I right, or am I right?
Wishing – that the perfect house would just appear on the market ready for me to move into. Is it really too much to ask?
Watching – an awful lot of stuff thanks to Sky Go. One of the better things about a 50 minute commute twice a day. Also I’m in love with the new series of Game of Thrones. It’s been pretty awesome so far hasn’t it, the end scene in the first episode was so very good. Gosh I do love Jon Snow.

Recently - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Reading – Brideshead Revisited for the first time ever. I’ve not quite made up my mind about it yet. It doesn’t help that I really can’t get into it.
Buying – all the things. It’s like I’ve decided to spend all the money I’d been saving for house stuff. This week alone I’ve had to replace my purse, so I’m now the proud owner of this one here, and my bag as it finally broke. So I also now own this genius reversible bag.

Oh and then there was the day I was being a good daughter and helping my mum buy a new laptop (as you know parents have no idea what technology is) and ended up with an iPad mini. In my defence I’ve been thinking about buying it for about 6 months but I honestly had no intention to do so as I walked in the shop. This is why one should not head to PC World on a Sunday morning.

Recently - Life Rambles - This and That Blog
Eating – all the things. Being in Deal and on holiday last week meant that restraint went out the window. There was cake and fish and chips and crisps and cake and multiple coffees each day. So good. It’s okay though as it was my birthday week after all. Since being back from holiday I’ve been having a lot more fruit and vegetables. So that’s one good thing at least. Let’s not mention the M&S mini bites though…

Feeling – guilty for the lack of exercise I’ve been doing recently and for being annoyed at having no house to buy as I know in the grand scheme of things it’s a good problem to have.
Wanting – another holiday. Yes I may have been in Deal last week, but I also commuted to work for a few of the days so it wasn’t a proper week off. So a full week off is sounding pretty good right now!

Drinking – iced coffees. Hooray for sunshine.
Cooking – after a month of living with the parents and letting them cook for me (aka reverting back to being ten years old) I decided this week that I missed cooking and needed to get back in the kitchen. So this week we’ve been sharing the cooking, so far this week I’ve made a delicious spinach and chickpea curry and Lau’s been making pizzas again. So good! There really is nothing better than creating yummy food is there?
Wondering – when I’ll stop spending money on all the things and actually find a new house to buy. Just the small things.
Stressing – About finding a new house to buy! Don’t get me wrong I have no real issue being back at my parents’ house, after all they’re not too bad at the nagging, have a full fridge and I’m saving money. But at the same time I miss having my own space and being on my own time. Plus not knowing when we’re moving out is a bit of a nightmare. I just want to know how long I’m looking at for this commute and living out of one room malarkey.

Recently - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Loving – My awesome family and friends for spoiling me rotten on my birthday. They’re just the best of the best.
Wearing – Stripes, rolled up skinny jeans (showing off the thinnest part of my legs – the ankles) and pumps day after day after day. And it’s so nice to be able to say that. Also my sunglasses have made a reappearance – hooray!
Needing – more sleep. getting up at 6.30 every morning is most certainly not working for me.

Out and About : The Top 10 of Deal

Last week Fi and I were in Deal for birthday celebrations with the parents and youngest sister and it was so perfect. I don’t think I’ve been this relaxed for quite some time. While that doesn’t bode well with the start of what I’m sure will be a manic week back at work, it was thoroughly fabulous while it lasted. Plus at least batteries were recharged and lie ins were done – I can’t really complain about that!

Today I thought I’d share my Top 10 of my week in Deal so that you could all have a peak into our week in Kent.

 

The Top 10 of Deal - Out and About - This and That Blog

Colourful houses / coffee time / red pandas / Deal Castle shadows

Seaside Views. Being by the sea is so relaxing. Wandering along the beach, skimming pebbles and watching the seagulls fly by just makes my heart sign with happiness.

Wingham Wildlife Park. We spent a very sunny morning at this wildlife park situated between Deal and Canterbury. Yes, it was slightly manic with children on their Easter break but the plethora of animals certainly helped us get over that. The park even had a pair of lions who had been rescued from a circus in 2011 and who both spent the morning dozing in the sunshine looking completely chilled out. It’s a tough call but if I had to choose I think my favourite species at the park were the Red Pandas and the Snowy Owl.

Canterbury. I’d not been to Canterbury since I went with school when I was 12, so we had to drop by. We strolled through the city, visited historic sites from the days of the pilgrims, found a delicious lunch spot and managed to do some shopping too.

Deal Castle. When the place your staying has it’s own castle you have to stop by for a visit. We strolled up here on our actual birthday to get a bit of culture. It’s an amazing place, shaped like a Tudor rose which only took six months to build – yes you read that correctly, months, not years. It was commissioned by Henry VIII and his bride to be Anne of Cleaves stayed here on her arrival into England. That’s today’s history lesson all sorted!

Mid-week brunch and coffee. Obviously brunch is a must. Especially when one can enjoy a mid-week lie in beforehand! The fact that The Royal Hotel was only 2 minutes walk from our cottage, overlooked the sea and had a brunch menu, of course meant that we had to sample it all. So we did. Twice. Plus we stopped for coffee, tea and cake regularly too. Although you favourite coffee haunt was definitely Hope & Lane on the high street. Again there’s something so decadent about stopping for coffee at 11 am or 3 pm when you are normally working.

 

The Top 10 of Deal - Out and About - This and That Blog

Deal Castle & blue skies / picture perfect houses / birthday cake / Deal beach and Pier

Gorgeous houses. Deal town is full of narrow streets, winding lanes and gorgeous terraced houses. Many of which are painted different colours. It’s lovely to wander around the town and exclaim over bay windows, slanted roofs or painted shutters.

Blue Skies. The weather for our week away was gorgeous, completely not necessary, but gratefully received. Blue skies and sunshine just makes everyone so much happier.

Unplanned shopping trips (and purchases). Some days it just has to happen. I’m not sure if it was the aforementioned sunshine and the need for a summer wardrobe or what, but the shops in Deal and the surrounding areas had so many lovely things that I was just unable to resist. Both my Mum and I bought new shoes and some Joules goodies while we were away. Plus everyone managed to buy books galore in the charity shops of Deal.

Birthday cake. Birthdays would not be the same without cake made by the Mothership. It’s the only thing I really wanted for my birthday – I even had a whole conversation about her superior baking skills with a work friend! Luckily for me she made her famous chocolate cake as well as her Victoria Sponge (half strawberry and half raspberry jam). Getting two cakes on your birthday is definitely one perk of being a twin!

Games of Cluedo. The Evans family rediscovered this game recently and have taken to having games quite often. So of course this made it down to Deal with us for a couple of games nights. And I even managed to win one game. Finally!

 

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Things I Forgot About Living at Home

As I mentioned the other week (over here) I am currently commuting to London from my parents’ house. While it’s not where I planned to be at this point in my life, I do truly believe that things happen for a reason and therefore this is what needs to happen right now. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself every time I get frustrated or wish I was further along in this whole house buying process than I actually am. Anyway, enough of this depressing talk, let’s get on to the actual point of today’s blog post. Living at home. I haven’t lived at home full time for over 5 years. Yes obviously I’ve been back for Christmas or for weekend visits, but I don’t normally live at home 24/7. Being back home for the past month has reminded me of a few things I forgot about living at home.

 

Things I Forgot About Living at Home - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Image Source: Dave Robinson, Unsplash

 

A Kitchen Table. For the last 5 plus years I’ve lived in a flat which had a small table pushed into a corner. For the majority of the time this table was piled high with a sewing machine, a laptop, papers and books. So it wasn’t really used as it should be. Back at my parents house there is a huge wooden kitchen table that is always the focus at mealtimes. I had no idea how much I was missing sitting at a table with a cup of coffee, a bowl of cereal and the weekend papers, until I had the opportunity to do it! This is definitely top of my list for ‘must haves’ in the new house.

A Full Fridge. This speaks for itself surely? Opening the fridge at home always puts a smile on my face and the main reason for this is because there is always so much choice! Making packed lunch salads to take to work has never been so easy. There’s bound to be at least three different types of salad leaves, heritage tomatoes, prawns, chicken, roasted vegetables and leftovers too.

A Garden. Now that it’s spring the garden is in full swing; flowers are in bloom, the grass is green and the pheasants are back. Which means sitting on the patio is the perfect way to de-stress.

Running in the Countryside. As above, there’s something so relaxing about running out of the city. My favourite running route is through my parents village and into the woods. So now that I’ve returned home indefinitely and we are experiencing these lighter evenings there are plenty of opportunities to run the route and stay calm.

So Many Laughs. My family is brilliant so living at home with them is full of fun times. There’s always something going on. Something to plan, someone to make fun of or to giggle over. Plus Beccabean will be back from university soon, which means the Evans family fun levels will be increasing by another 20%.

Sky Sports. No matter how much both Fi and I love watching sport we have always refused to pay extra to watch what’s available on Sky (unless it’s the Ryder Cup of course) so being in a house where I can watch the football, cricket, or golf at any time of day is definitely a plus point.

People to drink wine with. Hopefully this point doesn’t make me sound like an alcoholic, at least let me explain before any judging happens! Fi doesn’t really drink so if I ever opened a bottle of wine in our flat it was all mine. The perk of living with my parents means that there is normally a bottle of wine on the go and therefore I don’t have to finish it all by myself in a matter of days. Genius!

So there we go, just a few things that is making living at home not just bearable, but pretty darn fun.

Laura xx

In the Kitchen: Rainbow Spiral Biscuits

As soon as I spotted these Rainbow Spiral Biscuits over on the Sprinkle Bakes blog I knew they had to be baked for the big 21st/30th birthday party. I mean just look at them, yummy! Sadly I couldn’t get them as bright as I wanted to, but I still they look pretty awesome. They’re super simple to make, all you do is…

1) Make you usual easy biscuit recipe

2) Split into six bowls and add the whole tube of food colouring and mix until the dough has full coverage

3) Roll out each colour of dough individually between greaseproof paper

4) Use the greaseproof paper to pile the lengths of dough on top of one another (make sure you remove the greaseproof paper)

5) Roll out the whole stack of six colours until the dough is packed tightly together

6) Use the greaseproof paper on the very bottom to roll the pile up into one tight sausage shape. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect.

7) Wrap the sausage of dough in cling film and pop in the freezer

8) Leave for 24 hours and then use a sharp knife dunked in hot water to slice the dough

9) Bake as usual

Rainbow Spiral Biscuits - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

All layered up!

Rainbow Spiral Biscuits - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

The frozen dough just before the cutting commenced.

Rainbow Spiral Biscuits - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

Ready to eat – yummy!

These biscuits really are a talking point and for something so visually stunning they are super easy to make. Go on, give them a go – I dare you!

– Fi x

Thought of the Day: Everything Happens

Everything Happens - Thought of the Day - This and That Blog

It’s all well and good believing that everything happens for a reason but that doesn’t really help when things aren’t going quite to plan. Sometimes I just wish things were clearer.

In the Kitchen: Chocolate Bark

Chocolate Bark - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

What to do with the Easter chocolate? Now there’s a question that I don’t often hear from anyone I know. At least not normally. This year however we may have overstocked on the mini eggs. This is partly to do with the addition of a pick and mix table and also partly due to Fi being completely obsessed with them. Either way we ended up having way too many in the house – and wanting to do something with them all.

Our first though was to make up a batch (or two) of our favourite mini egg blondies but then we thought no, let’s do something different. Cue a search on the web and Pinterest and the decision to make Easter bark. Would you not do the same if you’d discovered this marvellous recipe by What Jessica Baked Next. For our version we made a few amends and it was AMAZING!

Ingredients –

Dairy Milk – 4 medium sized bars
Mini eggs – 2 small bags, some crushed, some not
Crunchie – 2 bars
Milybar buttons – 1/3 of a share bag

Method –
Melt the chocolate. We used the microwave, stopping every 30 seconds to stir.
Pour the chocolate out onto parchment paper – use a shallow brownie pan, the sides will give it shape.
Sprinkle, throw or place the toppings across the chocolate. Push the toppings into the melted chocolate slightly so that the chocolate hardens around it.
Leave in the fridge overnight before eating it all in one sitting…!

– Lau xxx