Out and About: The Bluebell Woods

There’s an area near to where I grew up that as kids we crowned the Bluebell Woods. As in the spring those gorgeous blue flowers would pop up out of nowhere and take over the woods. It was stunning. It was incredible how one week you’d visit the usual green woods and the next you’d see a blanket of blue. It was always a little bit magical and was one of my favourite times of the year. So when we saw the bluebells had made their yearly appearance I was super-keen  to go exploring in the woods again.

Bluebell Woods - Out and About - This and That Blog Bluebell Woods - Out and About - This and That Blog Bluebell Woods - Out and About - This and That Blog

So this Sunday we headed into the Surrey Hills for a walk through the woods. After all there has to be some perks to being back at home during the 2015 house saga, right?! Thankfully we were still in time to properly appreciate the glorious swathes of blue flowers and it was truly marvelous to just stop and stare at them in all their glory.

Bluebell Woods - Out and About - This and That Blog Bluebell Woods - Out and About - This and That Blog Bluebell Woods - Out and About - This and That Blog

Now the pictures sprinkled through this post really don’t do the Bluebell Woods justice, but hopefully you get the idea. And if you’re ever in Surrey around this time of year do make sure you visit them. Just pop on over the hill from Shere and you can’t miss them.

So tell me, do you have any similar things you remember from childhood that you’ve recently rediscovered?

– Fi x

In the Kitchen: Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

It’s quite possible that cookies are my favourite thing ever. The crispy outside giving way to the soft chewy centre? That’s HEAVEN right there. There’s a Ben’s Cookies in Covent Garden and occasionally my work bestie and I will meander on up at lunchtime and treat ourselves to a cookie to get us through a manic afternoon. These cookies are divine, but at about £2.00 each they are more than slightly expensive. Which is why I’ve been looking for a cookie recipe that may be able to recreate the goodness that exists at Ben’s. Now Fi posted a cookie recipe the other day, so I know I could have just adapted hers, but I haven’t done that. Purely because I wanted to find a fail safe cookie recipe all by myself.

Cookie Recipe - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

Today’s recipe is one that I found online here and amended a bit – mainly because I had no idea what baking soda was and why you needed to add it to hot water. Seriously if you’ve got baking powder and bicarbonate of soda (neither of which need to be mixed with hot water) why do you need baking soda too? Anyway, enough of me complaining about America baking ingredients. Here’s the recipe and the delicious cookies that it makes.

225g soft butter
220g white sugar
170g brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
420g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
milk chocolate chips

Cookie Recipe - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

– Preheat the over to 175C
– Cream together the butter and both sugars
– Beat in the two eggs and the vanilla extract
– Add the baking soda and flour and stir with a spoon
– Mix in the chocolate chips
– Place heaped tablespoons of the mixture onto a floured baking tray and flatten slightly. These do spread during baking so make sure to leave space around them. I went with 6 per tray and made 15 in total.
– Bake for 15 minutes. The timing will vary depending on how thick your cookies are.

Laura xx

Thought of the Day: Planning

Planning - Thought of the Day - This and That Blog

As often as I try to live my live by this quote it doesn’t always happen. It’s not that I don’t 100% believe it and haven’t seen the result of planning myself but sometimes it’s easier to put things off until another day. And then you’re too late and you end up just winging and hoping for the best. But I definitely need to start getting better at this planning malarkey as I know it makes sense and with all the things I’ve got coming up in the next few months I think it’s certainly sensible. So from now on it’s more about planning and less about procrastination. Let’s see how that goes, shall we?

In the Kitchen: Homemade Pizza

Now that I’m back at the parentals it means I don’t actually have to think about cooking. If I’m in then my parents are more than happy to include both me in their meal plans. Which is totally great. However it does make me feel incredible guilty and also a little bit lazy. I try to be as helpful as possible by chopping vegetables, setting the table and cleaning up afterwards to stop this but it doesn’t really work. Instead what I try to do now is cook at least one meal a week for everyone, that and trying to do a food shop – but that’s a little bit harder. This way I can feel like I’m at least pulling my weight a little bit. One of the first things I offered to make was homemade pizza. The reason for this was simple:

1. I love making pizza dough – there’s something about the kneading.
2. Neither of the parentals has ever had my homemade pizza. Travesty!
3. The village my parents live in is so completely in the middle of nowhere that the nearest Domino’s or Papa John’s shops refuse to deliver…
4. …And sometimes pizza is a necessity.

Homemade Pizza - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

So here’s my super simple homemade pizza recipe, which makes four individual pizzas.

For the dough:
500g strong white bread flour
1 sachet of dried yeast
1 tsp salt
2tbsp oil
360ml tepid water

For the topping:
Passata sauce
Mozzarella cheese

1. Mix the yeast with the water and add the oil.
2. Put the salt and flour into a large mixing bowl.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix together to form a dough.
4. Turn out onto the work surface. The dough can be quite sticky at this point so make sure you sprinkle flour on the surface.
5. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it’s stretchy and smooth.
6. Place into an oiled bowl and cover with cling film and leave to rise for 90 mins in a warm place. We like to leave this in the fridge overnight instead, so we always make it the night before we need it.
7. Once risen divide the dough into four pieces (or into however many pizzas you want to make) and start to flatten out.
8. Place on your baking trays and add your toppings. Start with spreading the passata on the dough. Next top with anything and everything before tearing the cheese into pieces and adding on top.
9. Bake for about 20 minutes at 220C. Although this depends on how crispy you want your base to be.

Laura xx

Out and About: Travel Bucket List

This month I’ve decided to take part in Belinda’s Blog Every Day in May prompt. I won’t be doing every day, after all I’ve already missed the first two days!, but I will be joining in when the prompt is particularly appealing. I like the idea of writing when I get inspired by one of the prompts and it’ll also be a great way of discovering new bloggers. Why not join in too? Today’s prompt is to share your travel bucket list, which I had to join in with as I’ve currently got a severe case of wanderlust.

Travel Bucket List - Out and About - This and That Blog

At the moment I’m trying to save money for the hopeful house move, so I haven’t allowed myself to book any trips apart from a trip to France for a wedding and to be honest it’s only made things worse. It’s like I want to go everywhere and am discovering all sorts of awesome places just because I’m not allowing myself to do something. Why is that always the way these things go? It’s getting to the point that I might just have to end my self-imposed holiday ban and book something to look forward to. Just something cheap mind you.
Anyway, enough waffling, today I want to talk about the one place I really really really want to head to right this minute: The USA. I’ve been a fair few times to various parts of the country – Florida, New York, Cape Cod, San Francisco, Phoenix and LA to name a few places, but I really want to go back and visit so much more…
Travel Bucket List - Out and About - This and That Blog
I want to…
  • take a trip across the country along Route 66, just stopping as and when I want to – be it for a yummy lunch or to see a specific view.
  • head south from Seattle and explore all the hidden gems down the coast
  • camp in Yosemite
  • head back to New York at Christmas and experience Central Park in the snow and in the sunshine, walk the Highwire and explore Brooklyn, see another show on Broadway and show my respect at Ground Zero.
  • experience Martha’s Vineyard in the sunshine
  • fly over the Grand Canyon
  • visit the Niagra Falls and be sprayed by the waterfall
  • experience July 4th over there again
  • travel down the Missisippi
  • visit Harry Potter Wizarding World
  • walk across the Golden Gate bridge and explore Alcatraz
  • visit Nashville and hear live music at one of the many bars
  • experience Mardi Gras
  • watch a baseball game
  • to just generally see and do everything!
One day I’ll make it. Maybe…  What about you, where do you want to go, what’s top of your bucket list?
Found Love. Now What?

Life Rambles: Treat Time

I think it’s fair to say that we’re both feeling pretty lucky and well-loved right now after a spectacularly lovely birthday in Deal and lots of lovely cards and presents. We really are surrounded by a lovely bunch of people. So today we thought we’d discuss some of the awesome treats we’ve received recently and also a few we’ve things we’ve treated ourselves to as well. Because giving yourself an extra treat on your birthday is most definitely a good thing!

Please tell me that other people do this. It can’t just be me. I think it’s a mixture of things I’d spotted pre-birthday for my list that I didn’t get and being given money and vouchers for my birthday it’s basically all about the treats right now.

First up here’s Laura’s treat list.

Treat time

Rain Jacket / Striped Top / Necklace / Heart Bookmark

14th Deadly Sin / Bird Mug / Stone Bracelet / White Deck Shoes

I love getting birthday money. It’s just perfect when there’s something you’ve been wanting to treat yourself to. I have been wanting this raincoat for ages and ages, so it was so lovely to go and buy it this month. Perfectly timed too as it looks like the spring showers are about to arrive. I also received clothes from both my sisters; a jacket and a blue striped top, which go perfectly together (totally unplanned by them) which is great as with a lot of clothing currently in storage I seem to be running out of clothes!

The storage issue is also to blame for that fact that I’ve also bought new shoes and (another) striped top. I don’t wear a lot of jewellery but what I do wear is normally quite simple. Which is why I am so pleased with the bracelet and necklace that I received this year. They are both so perfectly me. We all know that there’s nothing I like more than curling up with a good book and a cup of coffee so new books and mugs are always gratefully received. The quote on the mug is just perfect and means so much to me. Plus a Tiffany bookmark? Love it. I may have squealed at the blue box!

And now to Fi…

birthday treats

Stripey shoes / Grey and Coral Reversible Bag / Green Onyx Ring / The Girl on The Train

iPad Mini / iPad Mini case / 36 Hours in Europe and London / Necklace

I was lucky enough to receive some lovely gifts for my birthday, such as these stripey shoes and gorgeous Joules necklace from one sisterling and this brilliant travel book and stunning ring from the other sisterling. All of the accessories have barely been off me since I first got them. Simply because they go with everything! I couldn’t have chosen better myself. I also love that they make it look like I’ve made an effort when I really haven’t. Generally I’ve thrown the first clean outfit I can find on and then accessorised.

And now to the bits I’ve treated myself too… I know that’s bad of me, but what’s a girl to do when she gets birthday money and vouchers? I’ve been deliberating about buying an iPad for a while now as mine is really on its last legs. Even so this new treat one was most definitely an impulse buy, but a good one as I’ve used it loads already! And of course a shiny (expensive) iPad needs a new case so hello stripey anchor one that ticks all the boxes. And finally my last treat for a while – for obvious reasons – a new bag. There’s so much I love about this bag. The quality, size, gold tags and reversible coral and grey options. With two colour options it’s basically two bags in one. So even more cost efficient, no?

– So have you been treating yourself too, please tell us you have and make us feel lots better!

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