Friday, 30 September 2011

Tonight...

...I will mostly be drinking left over wedding Merlot, eating Quavers and reading this...


Tess Gerritsen is one of my favourite authors, I find her novels so easy to get into and once I get past a certain point (usually fairly early on!) so difficult to put down!  I reached that point last night and have been sneaking peeks in between patients all day!  I suspect it will be finished tonight.  I would tell you what page I am on but since I have my kindle now, I record where I'm at in percentages as there are no page numbers.  I am at 78%.  Luckily I have already blogged what I wanted to for tomorrow so I can spend all evening reading while Nik is at work  :)


Recipe - Mmmmm Mussels

The other night we made mussels.  Well, I de-bearded (yuck, I do feel bad ripping their beards off!) and washed and cooked them, but Nik did a lot of chopping.  :)

Here is the recipe if you fancy trying it for yourself, they were yummy!

We adapted one from this book which looks like it would be awful but don't judge it, I've enjoyed some really good recipes from this book!!


Using my handy perspex book stand and splash guard I inherited from Mum!
We adapted it slightly after reading some bits of other recipes when looking for one foMoules marinière.  It did call for fresh thyme and parsley which we didn't have - buying the mussels was a spur of the moment thing so we didn't know the recipe when we were in Tesco!  Here's what we did...

Ingredients:
50g Butter
5 Spring Onions, finely chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
10 Cherry Tomatoes, roughly chopped
100ml White Wine
4 Bay Leaves
Salt & Pepper
1kg Fresh Mussels
100ml Single Cream




Method:
Clean and de-beard the mussels, removing any barnacles with a blunt knife.  Discard any mussels that don't close when given a sharp tap.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and garlic and cook gently for around 5 minutes until lightly browned, add the tomatoes and cook for a further minute.

Add the wine, bay leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper.


Add the mussels, stir gently, cover and bring to the boil.  Steam the mussels for 5-6 minutes until the mussels have opened, shaking the pan frequently.

Mmmm, steamy
Add the cream and stir before serving in warmed bowls.  Discard any mussels which haven't opened.  Serve with white wine (optional!) and plenty of warm crusty bread or toast to soak up the yummy juices.  Have an empty bowl handy for the shells.



We think they would have been even nicer with some chopped fresh chillies in, going to try that next time!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Honeymoon Itinerary and Thank Yous

Our honeymoon itinerary was organised by Safari Legacy a company owned by Nik's cousin's wife's sister so we got a pretty good deal!  We told them we wanted to have some chill out beach days in Zanzibar after the wedding followed by some diving, then back to mainland Tanzania for a safari trip for a few days then on to Kenya to stay with family for the last few days so I can see where they live and meet some more family including Nik's Grandmother who couldn't travel to the wedding as she's 92 and it's such a long trip.  We organised our own main flights using our long saved up BAmiles but they organised all of our accommodation, safari, transfers and internal flights.

This is what they came up with:

Day 1 - Fly Glasgow-London-Dar Es Salaam
Day 2 - Arrive Dar Es Salaam, fly to Zanzibar, car to 1st Hotel - Karafuu
Day 3-4 - Karafuu Beach Resort
Day 5 - Car from Karafuu to Ras Nungwi
Day 6-11 - Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel
Day 11 - Car to Stone Town, stay at Serena Inn
Day 12 - Fly Zanzibar to Arusha, stay at Kikoti Tented Camp
Day 12-13 - Tarangire Park safari
Day 13 - Stay at Ngorongoro Farm House
Day 14 - Ngorongoro Crater safari
Day 14-17 - stay at Bilila Lodge Kempinski
Day 15-17 - Serengeti safari
Day 17 - Lake Manyara safari, stay at Rift Valley Photographic Lodge
Day 18 - fly to Nairobi
Day 18-24 - Nairobi staying with family
Day 24-25 - Fly Nairobi-London-Glasgow

It was an amazing trip which we will remember forever.  As I said before, we had a 'Honeymoon Fund' as an alternative to a gift list using this poem on our invitation...


When thinking of a gift for us
we ask if you’d please consider 
contributing to our honeymoon
to make it all the sweeter. 
Our house is full of all the things
a couple could require 
and so a holiday away
is what we most desire.
Then while we're relaxing on the beach
or under the water so blue,
we'll sit back and know
that it is truly thanks to you!


When we returned we sent out thank you cards with a hand written message and this collage I made (took me hours!) of our honeymoon to thank them all for their very generous gifts and show them the 'Honeymoon Fund' was well spent!...



Come back soon for the full honeymoon report and many, many more pictures!  :)

After reading this post on Love My Dress by Anna yesterday and sharing some of our truly lovely wedding gifts, I wanted to write a little more about our Thank You cards and what we did.  As you can see from the picture of our card, we planned ahead and took along 2 heart boards with THANK and YOU written on - I had planned on putting them out with the photobooth props with the box of chalk for guests to write messages on for the photos but forgot all about it after we used them!  Oops!

Anyway, we had a few photos taken and chose one for the front and one for the back...




I chose to crop this one for the front...


I tried to write something different and personal in each card and made sure I wrote at least a full page thanking them for coming to our wedding and for their generous gift(s) and that we had a fantastic honeymoon and a wonderful time at our wedding and we hoped they had enjoyed it as much as we did.  As a cute finishing touch, we ordered these fab personalised Smilers stamps from Royal Mail!



You can get them saying Thank You, Happy Birthday, LOVE, Best Wishes or pictures....

I think they're a great idea, we once gave some as a gift for a 1st birthday with a picture we took of the baby at his christening and they used them on their thank you cards for his birthday gifts.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Lucky Us!


We were extremely lucky and totally blown away by the generosity of our wedding guests!  Even some of those who couldn't attend sent us gifts!  As we have already lived together for 3 years we really didn't need any household items and are in fact trying to de-clutter anyway so we put this poem (thanks to the RMW community) on our invites for those who might want to give us a wedding gift...

When thinking of a gift for us
we ask if you’d please consider 
contributing to our honeymoon
to make it all the sweeter. 
Our house is full of all the things
a couple could require 
and so a holiday away
is what we most desire.
Then while we're relaxing on the beach
or under the water so blue,
we'll sit back and know
that it is truly thanks to you!

As I said, we were super lucky and managed to re-fill the honeymoon fund we had borrowed from my tax savings (as I'm technically self-employed) to book the honeymoon in advance.  This meant we could totally relax and fully enjoy ourselves while away with a few wee extra treats too (cocktails, massages, bubbly), knowing that our honeymoon was paid for.  We had a FANTASTIC trip and even had a little left over to save for our future home!  (Honeymoon report to follow soon I promise!)

My Honeymoon collage.

We sent this out with our thank you cards to everyone.  I had the cards printed at Loxley in Glasgow and was really pleased with the quality...

Front 
Back

Some of our friends and family wanted to give us something we could keep instead (or as well - seriously, did I say how lucky we are!?) and we have some beautiful gifts I want to share some of them on the blog (some great gift inspiration here too, especially from my BMs - think they may have got them from Etsy and Not On The High Street, 2 of my fave websites!)...

Our friend, Roy, gave us one of his hand-turned (I'm assuming!) wooden bowls which I love!  He gave me one once before for my 27th birthday with a lovely heartfelt message I have kept with the bowl ever since.  I had always wanted one ever since I knew he had made one from a piece of wood found at a photography meet at Loch Lomond...

Happy Birthday Bex.
You wanted a pot with some significance - so here it is.  The wood is Rhododendron from Rowardennan.  The shape is of a water carrier because water is such a big part of EPZ meets.  The rough bits signify the "rough with the smooth".  The gold leaf represents your warm and generous nature - but it has slight flaws to represent your bad side.
Lots of Love, Roy

I have no idea what he means about a bad side.  ;)



It means a lot to me and it was lovely to receive another (at least I think he made this one too!?) for our wedding and this one has pride of place on my dressing table with a few of my trinkets in.



My bridesmaids also gave us thoughtful gifts.  Sarah gave us a star naming kit (we still haven't thought of a name!) and a lovely framed print of a tree trunk with our initials carved in a heart, so cute!  She had it in a lovely black frame which didn't quite work with it (by her own admission) so I have bought a new one and used the black one for one of our engagement pictures which looks fab in it!

N + B

Spotty Elephant from Kenya on honeymoon!



Vikki gave us this very cool framed personalised print of our wedding venue with a drawing of our venue, our names and wedding date...

Pollokshields Burgh Hall

Claire gave us this gorgeous personalised stationery in my colour and with an Indian style pattern...




My new grandmother-in-law (Nik's Mum's Mum) gave us this stunning bowl which she had specially engraved with African animals.  It's from Kenya and such a lovely reminder of our honeymoon as we saw all of the animals featured on it and I really love the tree too!  It now has pride of place in our kitchen cupboard with our lego us.  :)



She also gave me some gorgeous earrings which she designed herself and I LOVE THEM!  They are gold with tsavorite, emeralds and diamonds so they're even green!!  (I think she was tipped off on that.)


AND they go perfectly with this super sparkly Tsavorite pendant Nik's other Grandmother gave me as a wedding present...



I've also been getting a lot of use out of this gift from a family friend who we couldn't invite due to number limitations but they still sent us a gift which was so lovely of them and a fab one it was too!   They gave us a Joseph Joseph Herb Chopper (also green!) and this Garlic Rocker which also doubles up as a garlic odour remover when you wash it under the tap after use (stainless steel is thought to remove the strong odours left from handling garlic)!  So clever and it totally works!

Made mussels tonight - (see blog later in week for recipe post!)




See what I mean?  How lucky are we?!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Recipes - Chinese and Chocolate Pots

It was our day off in Glasgow yesterday and Nik and I tackled more de-cluttering with some success - after tackling my wardrobe, I now have 5 full bin bags for the charity shop, including all the shoes & boots I got rid of the other day!  Nik managed to clean out a drawer, at least he's started!  :)

We decided we would cook something a bit more interesting than normal since we had the whole day off together so I searched through some of our recipe books (also came up with a few Christmas ideas while I was at it!) and I stuck a few little tabs in some future recipes I would like to make while I was at it.  We decided on Seafood Stir-fry and Chocolate Pots.


Bought for £1 in a botanical garden charity book sale
From Nik's flat - no idea where he got it from though!


















I ended up doing the cooking while Nik did the ironing - much preferred my option!  First I made the Chocolate Pots as they take 2-3 hours to set.  The recipe is called Three Pots as they suggest that you do 3 different batches with 3 different chocolates - expecting you to split the 50g sugar (and 1/2 teaspoon of salt!) into 3.  Other than not fancying splitting half a teaspoon of salt accurately into 3, I had already separated my egg yolks and most of them had broken in the bowl so I didn't fancy trying to accurately split them 3 ways either!  Needless to say - I just stuck with one of the chocolates and made my pots all the same.  I chose the Mayan Gold dark chocolate.

Prep time - 30 mins
Chilling time 2-3 hours
Makes 6 servings.

Ingredients:
400ml single cream
1 vanilla pod
25g dark chocolate (60% minimum cocoa solids) broken into pieces
25g Maya Gold Chocolate or other good quality dark orange chocolate, broken into pieces
50g white chocolate, broken into pieces (not sure why this is twice the amount, maybe to get a stronger flavour?)
(I used 75g of Maya Gold)
6 large egg yolks
50g sugar (I used golden caster sugar as it's less refined than white)
1/2 level teaspoon salt

Ingredients and espresso cups for serving
Method:
Gently heat the cream with the vanilla pod until bubbles begin to form at the edge, but ensuring the cream does not boil.  Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse.


Melt the chocolates separately in heatproof bowls suspended over saucepans of barely simmering water, (Keep the saucepans of water as you will need them later on.) Leave the chocolates to cool, then beat 2 of the egg yolks into each of the melted chocolates until the mixtures are smooth.  Stir one third of the sugar and salt into each chocolate mixture until completely dissolved.

OR


Melt the chocolate in heatproof bowl over barely simmering water (keep saucepan of water for later).  Leave to cool, then beat egg yolks into melted chocolate until smooth.  Stir in sugar and salt until completely dissolved.  (I had to put the mixture back over the saucepan on the heat for it to fully dissolve.)



Remove the vanilla pod from the cream and gently stir one third of the cream (or all of the cream) into each chocolate mixture until well blended.  Replace the bowls over the saucepans of simmering water.  Cook until each mixture coats the back of a spoon, stirring all the time.



Pour each chocolate mixture into your chosen containers - e.g. egg cups, espresso cups, shot glasses.  Chill for about 2-3 hours or until the mixture has set.


While they were chilling I made the Seafood Stir-fry, which in the book is called Three Sea Flavours Stir-fry.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 large scallops, with the corals
225g firm white fish fillet, such as cod or monkfish (I used Pouting which according to the fish counter was similar to cod but more sustainable - it's apprently a LOT more flakey than cod or monkfish as rather than chunks, I ended up with little flakes of fish, not quite so attractive or tasty but it was OK)
115g raw tiger prawns (I used king prawns as they only had 2 tiger prawns left)
300ml fish stock
15ml vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
5cm fresh ginger, thinly sliced
8 spring onions, cut into 4cm pieces
30ml Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
5ml cornflour
15ml cold water
salt and freshly ground pepper
noodles or rice to serve
(I also added some mange tout)



Method:
Separate the corals and slice each scallop in half horizontally.  Cut the fish fillet into bite-size chunks.  Peel and de-vein the prawns.

Bring the fish stock to the boil in a pan.  Add the seafood, lower the heat and gently poach the seafood for 1-2 minutes until the fish, scallops and corals are just firm and the prawns have turned pink.  Drain the seafood, reserving about 60ml of the stock for the sauce.

Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok over a high heat until very hot.  Stir-fry the garlic, ginger and spring onions for a few seconds.

Add the seafood and rice wine or sherry.  Stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the reserved stock and allow to simmer for 2 minutes.  (Meanwhile steam the mange tout for 2 minute in the microwave.)

Mix the cornflour to a paste with the water.  Add the paste and the mange tout to the pan or wok and cook, stirring gently, until the sauce thickens.


Season the stir-fry with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve at once, with noodles or rice.

I also made my sesame and garlic broccoli as a side...

Steam a few florets of broccoli for 2 minutes in the microwave, heat a wok or frying pan with some oil, add 1 clove of chopped or crushed garlic and a few sesame seeds - fry for a few seconds and add the broccoli, tossing in the seeds and garlic to coat and heat through.  Serve immediately.

Yum!

Double Yum!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Wedding Bits & Pieces for sale...

I am selling a few of our wedding bits if anyone is interested please email me TheOliveDragonfly[at]gmail[dot]com thanks!

6 sets of 3 x cylinder vases - 25cm, 40cm and 50cm tall (all boxed)
SOLDWe used these with calla lilies wired onto pebbles submerged in water with a floating candle on top - very elegant looking...

£10 per set of 3 SOLD
(I have the pebbles still wired as well if you want them)

See how we did it and other examples here... http://olivedragonfly.blogspot.com/2...r-flowers.html

I also have 47 white floating candles left over - good quality white candles with 5 hours burning time (not cheap ikea ones) - I didn't even have to use the 2nd batch for later on!
Looking for £10 (I paid £20 for 50) SOLD

I have a Happily Ever After sign...

£10  SOLD

1 green and 1 white feather boa - photo booth props
£2 each (I paid £5)



Grey Pearl & Swarovski Bracelet - never worn
Looking for £4 SOLD

£4


Also have a large 3" silver ornate picture frame we used as a table plan - Happy to leave with green ribbons on or remove for you to use how you wish. Size - 30" x 40"
SOLD

£30 (We paid £51)



Monsoon Bridal Lacy Beaded Shrug - never worn tags still on
Looking for £15


£15


A selection of different glass bud vases (please contact for details/pictures/prices.






Posh Graffiti Letters - E, I, K, all silver 23cm - £5 each (paid £12.75 each)






Home-made Fimo Moustaches and smiles (Pink & red smiles, brown and grey moustaches) 8 in total - £5








Desperate to get our spare room back and get on with de-cluttering!  I might have a few more bits n pieces once I get all the vases out the way I can sort through properly, if there's anything you've seen from my wedding planning that you might fancy, send me an email and make me an offer - I might be selling it anyway!


Please let me know if you're interested in anything.  All items in Glasgow, willing to post at cost price.  Hubby works in Wishaw so can deliver there.  Cheers!  :) 
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