Sunday, 30 June 2013

Bluebell & Ivy

Bluebell & Ivy - a small dream...

Since my love of crocheting began just a few months ago, I have been continually finding the crochet hook in my hand. Since this 'hobby' isn't seeming to fade away and I doubt it will anytime soon (if at all) I have decided to sell some pieces of my work as well stitching custom orders.




My attempt to think of an original 'crochet-ish' name was a failure so instead I chose two of my favourite flowers and a name that I will never be tired of. Bluebells are such a delicate, pretty flower and I first discovered them in the film "I Capture the Castle", if anyone has seen this film, I'm sure you all remember the scene where the two sisters visit London for the first time and become overwhelmed with the scent of bluebells. As for the Ivy, I always imagine an English Estate, covered in beautiful green Ivy with Jane Austen sitting under a tree and scrawling in her notebook. This too, I hope comes through in the pieces. Delicate and Beautiful.





I truly do love to crochet and I hope that my 'love' shines through in my work. If there are any Dubai, or UAE based readers who would like to order, you can leave me a comment here or go to Bluebell & Ivy on facebook to place an order. I hope that in the future, I will have a online shop here on the blog that is easily accessible for all.




https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bluebell-Ivy/540843962638936?ref=hl



'Vintage Stitch' Tea Cosy


'Rosebud Crown' - Baby Headbands


Melanie xo

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Easy Scones - Australian version

It was a very early start for me this morning and it has been a long day full of crocheting & baking (with no nap time...) and as I write this post, I can feel my eyes slowly shutting down for the day, apologies for any typos or confusing sentences!

I woke up at 5am for my morning prayer and decided afterward that I wanted to eat fresh scones for breakfast. Full of energy, I looked to a winning scones recipe from the CWA. After reading through the method, my energy and enthusiasm seemed to disappear. The CWA has no place in the early hours of the morning, sorry lovely old ladies. Before giving up and going back to sleep, I had a quick flick through the Australia's Greatest Recipes book and found a super simple scone recipe. This was my very first time actually making scones and they tasted just like home. My Mum has told me before that the gift of scone making is passed down through every second generation of Leigh Women, from what I remember of my Mum's story is that, Nanna Leigh (my great, great grandmother) made delicious scones, Nanna Leigh's daughter Nancy did not get the scone making gene, Nancy's daughter Beverly (my wonderful Nan) did get the sought after gene and her daughter Leesa (my precious Mother) did not. However, I still think my Mum makes delicious scones but still there is still a great expectation for this talent to be passed down to myself or my sisters. I may have passed the test, but will have to wait for judgment until I make them for my family back home in Australia.





Key is to not over mix the mixture, this will allow them to rise. Also, you must sift the flour. 

Anyway, here is the recipe...

Ingredients

3 cups SR Flour
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup lemonade (7up, sprite)
pinch of salt 

- Preheat oven to 220C (200C fan forced) and line a baking tray with baking paper
- Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl
- Make a well in the centre and add the lemonade and cream
- Stir with a knife until just combined
- Turn onto a lightly floured surface and press into a circle around 3.5cm thick
- Cut out using a round cookie cutter, pushing in excess as you go
- Lightly brush with milk and bake for 12-15 minutes or until pale golden and cooked through
- Serve with Jam and whipped vanilla cream.

If you like a soft crust on your scone, leave a tea towel over them for a few minutes after coming out of the oven. 



A special Thank You to my Mum who isn't afraid of getting up early and baking. If it wasn't for her enthusiasm whilst cooking, I never would have made these scones this morning! 

Everyone in the house loved the scones, I was told that it reminded them all of their home England (little do they know that these scones were purely Aussie).

Happy baking!
Melanie xo 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Nutella + Cheesecake

Eating Nutella with a spoon out of the jar is a secret pleasure that I'm sure most of us share. It doesn't get much better than snuggling up in your pj's, on the couch, preferably by a cosy wood fire, with a cup of tea and a jar of Nutella. 

I have found a recipe that allows all of this to happen minus the embarrassment of being caught with a jar in hand and spoon in mouth. This recipe comes from delishhh.com. Thank you SO much Ewa for this gem!



This is such an easy recipe and requires no baking at all, so perfect for all the non-bakers. Feel free to use a store bought crust (even easier!). The perfect dessert, rich and decadent. 





Here is the recipe -

Ingredients

250g graham crackers of digestive biscuits
7 tbsp salted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g cream cheese, room temp
100g icing sugar/confectioners sugar
371g jar of Nutella
1/2 cup of heavy cream

- In a food processor pulsate the crackers until fine and crumbly, add the melted butter and allow to mix thoroughly.
- Press the crust mixture into a springform cake tin (8") to create an even layer. Chill in fridge.
- Beat the cream cheese with the icing sugar and vanilla until smooth.
- Add the jar of Nutella and combine.
- Slowly add the cream until mixture looks shiny and mousse-like.
- Dollop into prepared crust and top with your choice of decoration, I used crushed chocolate biscuits, other ideas could be chocolate, hazelnuts or desiccated coconut. 
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.




Eat, Enjoy.
Melanie xo





Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Authentically Indian Butter Chicken

I used to think I knew what Indian food was, I'd frequently order butter chicken with naan bread at Indian Restaurants in Australia, but little did I know they were serving an Australian version of the the Indian Dish.

Now that I live within a family of Indian, Pakistani and Burmese decent, I have found the real taste of Asia. So now, I am slowly learning the secrets of Asian cooking and I'm very lucky to have very talented mother in law showing the tips and tricks of the cuisine.

We have many cookbooks and the recipes are endless. The other night I made  a 'low fat' (not sure how true that statement is) butter chicken and I passed with flying colours! It should be noted that this was one of three butter chicken recipes in the same book, I really liked it and I don't know if i'll bother trying the others.

This recipe really is so simple and tastes 100x better than the store bought sauce jars, do yourself a favour and try it from scratch! If your not a fan of spice, reduce the amount of red chili, if your a lover of it, add a little more. The recipe calls for fresh red chili, however as I didn't have any, I used chili powder instead.

Here is the recipe -

Ingredients

500g chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp garlic
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp red chili

-marinate the chicken in the above spices for an hour then place in a pot with a little water until chicken is tender, then prepare the sauce.
 Make sure to slowly cook the chicken, as when cooked on high heat, the meat can become tough.


Sauce

1 tin (410g) chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp red chili
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp garlic sauce (I didn't have this, so used a garlic & herb powder)
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup cream OR natural yoghurt

- liquidize tomatoes and place it with the rest of the ingredients except the cream or yoghurt in a saucepan and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken. 
-Then add the cream and pour over the chicken. Stir well, simmer for a few minutes & serve. Garnish with a swirl of cream and coriander leaves.



So easy and so yummy!!

P.S this dish should be served with Naan bread and not rice (as us Aussie's like to do, shameful!).


Enjoy
Melanie xo



Sunday, 16 June 2013

D.I.Y Pallet Lovin'

The finished product of the Pallet table. There are so many ideas for these industrial planks of wood; bookshelves, dining tables, outdoor furniture, sofas, herb box, cubby house, bed base... the list goes on!

I hope you like our version of the pallet table and I hope it has inspired some eco-friendly designs of your own.




Our TV room is slowly becoming more 'homely' but still a few touches needed, deciding on a paint colour is very difficult and i think carpet will make it more 'cosy'. I would LOVE floorboards but Dubai heat just wont accommodate it. 







The spaces create a perfect hideaway for unattractive remotes and the like. 


Melanie xo

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Audrey

Audrey Hepburn - female epitome of style & beauty








Tips from Audrey

- Keep it classy, be natural and subtle.

- Never underestimate the white shirt.

- Grooming is key.

- Wear what you love - Audrey was the first person to wear ballet slippers in public, she dreamed of becoming a ballerina but due to WW2 and her height, she could not; instead she wore her ballet slippers.

- Improve your posture - everything looks good with head up and shoulder back.

- Lower your voice - think of Audrey singing "Moon River" on the fire escape at the set of Breakfast at Tiffany's. 






"A girl can't read without her lipstick." - Audrey as Holly Golightly, in Breakfast at Tiffany's




Sabrina, Funny Face and Breakfast at Tiffany's are my favourite Audrey films, I can watch them over and over. Sabrina for the script (and Humphrey, of course!), funny face for the fashion and Breakfast at Tiffany's for sweet Holly. I'll never be bored of Audrey.  

Melanie xo 




Tuesday, 11 June 2013

D.I.Y in Dubai

I have loved up-cycled furniture ever since I first saw it, it goes hand in hand with my love of vintage. My husband took some convincing however, as I had showed him numerous pictures on Pinterest but he wasn't too interested until we visited West Elm furniture over the weekend. Pallets are featured throughout the shop, hanging from the ceiling, as displays for other goods and styled on their own. This is when the true beauty of these recycled goods hit him, Alhamdulilah!




We set out on an adventure the next day to try and source some pallets. After visiting a few places we were blessed to find a man who had some for us that were in pretty good 'nick'. The thing I love about these pallets is that there are so many different stamps and inks on them, kinda like an old well travelled suitcase - loved and full of stories. It really adds to the uniqueness of the finished product, its not something that you could achieve by buying it brand new from a shop.






My husband had the idea to stamp our combined birth years on one corner and it really looks amazing! It was so simple, just by using a stencil it keeps in theme with the industrial look.

Heres a sneak peek - more pictures to come!




If any of you reading are located in the UAE and would like a piece like this for your home, please contact me for details. 


Melanie xo



Sunday, 9 June 2013

Bookshops & Julia Child

I could spend hours (and I do) in a bookshop. My favourite section is the cookbooks, and its always so hard to choose. For me, a cookbook is more than just pages of recipes, I love reading the stories behind them and the chef's notes. Nigella Lawson is one author who is great for this, her books are full of commentary which I love. A pot of tea and a few cookbooks are the best ways to spend a lazy Sunday.

Today while I was in the bookshop, my eyes fell upon The French Chef Cookbook - Julia Child. I knew I had to have it. Although I know nothing about the art of french cooking, I knew I wanted to try per Julia's rules.



My Mum and I fell in love with the movie Julie & Julia - Julia Child's story of her start in the culinary profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell's 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child's first book. The movie is based on a true story and is inspiring to any beginner chef, home cook, blogger & baker. A proof to those old fashioned movie fantasies that impossible dreams do come true.





I grew to love Julia Child due to this film, before it I knew her name but I didn't know about her. Her character was infectious and she was never afraid of new beginnings. 

Keep an eye out for my French cuisine feats or failures. 





Melanie xo 




Saturday, 8 June 2013

Easy Peasy Breakfast Eggs

Saturday morning breakfast is becoming a tradition in our home...




I spotted this idea a little while ago on fitsugar.com and I'm so glad I did. It's a really simple recipe and also carbohydrate free!! Its full of protein and if you use fat free turkey, I'm guessing its a pretty healthy breakfast. 

All you need is a muffin tin, a few slices of turkey, eggs and a seasoning of your choice. 
I chose a simple seasoning of salt, pepper and paprika. 

I got to use my new pink muffin tin and its so adorable I'm sure it makes everything baked in it taste better :) 

Here is the recipe -




Ingredients

4 eggs
4 slices turkey
salt & pepper
paprika

- Line 4 muffin holes with a slice of tukey, ensuring base and sides are covered. 
- Crack one egg into each lined hole
- Season with salt, pepper and paprika
- Bake at 200C for 20min (yolk will be a little soft, cook for less time for a runnier yolk)
- Serve with tea or fresh juice






Happy cooking!
Melanie xo


Friday, 7 June 2013

Hybrid Rocky Road

While I was back home in Australia on holiday in April, I received a cookbook from my Aunt Jaren, Australia's Favourite Recipes. Im quite patriotic when it comes to my home country so this was a perfect gift! It has all the classics including Anzac's, Pavlova & lamb chops. What I love about this book is that it it a compilation of recipes passed down through generations of different families throughout Australia.

While flicking through it, Mum found a long lost recipe that her grandmother, Nanna Wallin used to make for her as a child. The other fabulous thing about the book is that whatever recipe you try, Im certain it will be a winner as the introduction for each describes how it is a favourite in each authors home.

Today I made the Rocky Road, unfortunately I didn't have nuts at home so my rocky road is nutless, also in Dubai we don't have raspberry lollies. This upsets me greatly as I absolutely adore them (all the Aussie's reading know what im talking about, I hope...) Instead I used a combination of Jelly Belly beans and Haribo jelly sweets, hence the title "Hybrid Rocky Road" - an Australian Recipe with a Middle Eastern ingredients. I'm sure if you are lucky enough to be in Australia, using Australian ingredients the taste will be even better than the one I made here. The recipe reads at the top "serves 2 chocoholics or 8 non chocoholics" I hope this is a good indicator of how much you'll need ;)

My husband told me that my version tastes like his favourite Australian chocolate, Cadbury Black Forest. He's right and his comment has given me and idea to add chocolate biscuits pieces next time!




Here is the recipe -

Ingredients

500g milk chocolate
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
400g mini marshmallows 
90g jelly lollies/sweets, halved 
100g dlivered almonds, toasted


-Line a large baking tray with baking paper
-Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a sauncepan of simmering water until smooth.
-Mix marshmallows, jellies, almonds and coconut in a bowl for even distribution
-Add marshmallow mixture to the melted chocolate and stir.
-Pour while still hot into prepared tray and refrigerate until set. 
-Cut into pieces to serve. 

Such an easy recipe with many possibilities. Try mixing up or changing the type of nuts and sweets for a new flavour. 




Enjoy!
Melanie xo




Thursday, 6 June 2013

Bedrooms, bedrooms, bedrooms...

My problem is that I love too many things, especially when it comes to home interiors.
I love shabby chic, eclectic, vintage, french provincial, art deco, bright, all white, the list goes on....

So deciding on an 'asthetic' for our bedroom was incredibly hard! The more I researched, the harder it became! I also had to keep in mind that my poor husband would not enjoy sleeping in a pink & white bedroom, full of flowers and lace. 

Here are a few of my favourite inspirational pictures -




There's a common feature in most of these images; a chandelier & white beds. I love the splashes of colour in the above photos. At the moment my room is looking very white with the exception of a blue persian rug. Lets hope I find the colours I need!



We have found some beautiful pieces so far but the hunt is not yet over. Hopefully over the next few weeks the bedroom is complete and I can begin to document the 'bedroom makeover'.

What's your idea of the perfect bedroom?

Melanie xo

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Creamy Potato Gratin

This dish is the perfect accompaniment to a roast chicken, glazed turkey or grilled lamb cutlets. It was always on the dinner table on any special occasion while I was growing up and whenever I am at home, someone is always requesting it from Mum. Using fresh garlic and full fat cream always enhances the flavor.

Patience is key in this dish and the thinner the potato, the greater the texture. I use a vegetable slicer that shortens this process. You can add onion if you like, thinly sliced in between each layer of potato. The choice is yours!

The addition of nutmeg is a 'secret ingredient' i learnt from a helpful comment I read on a blog. You can use small ramekins if you have 4 available (bake for 45mins). Here is the recipe -



Ingredients

3 medium potatoes
garlic, freshly minced
1 cup of cream
1/2 cup full cream milk
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp grated parmesan or swiss cheese
salt and pepper to taste



Preheat oven to 180C and lightly grease gratin dish. 
Thinly slice potatoes (thin as possible).
Arrange one layer of potato over the base of the dish. Sprinkle over a little of the garlic and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Continue layering with remaining potato, adding garlic & nutmeg every second or third layer. Combine cream with cheese and pour over the potatoes. Cream should reach just under the bottom of the 2nd last layer. Add milk if more liquid needed. 
Bake for 1-1.5hrs or until potato is cooked through. You can cover with foil for the first hour if needed, depending on your oven (my oven is very hot at the top and tends to burn).
Stand for 5 mins before serving.



Enjoy!
Melanie xo


Monday, 3 June 2013

The Sweetest Card...

Nostalgia a wistful desire to return in thought to a former time in one's life, to one's home or homeland, or to one's family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a formerplace or time.

So many beautiful memories remain from my childhood. Coming home from school each day to a kitchen full of homemade afternoon tea, garden picnics on the weekend, elaborate 'made-up' stories with my older sister, watching old movies with my dear Mum, craft afternoons and of course learning how to bake. I am almost brought to tears of happiness when I write about it now! I am so fortunate that when I do travel home, its like I am a child again and all these things still remain! Some may say that I have been spoilt with affection and tender sheltering from the outside world but I wouldn't have it any other way and why have a daughter if you cant spoil her, right?


Im unsure if my love of vintage items and the great decades of the late 1800's to the middle of the 1900's can count as a form of nostalgia, as I was most certainly not there at the time, however when I find something old and unique, I always imagine who it belonged to, how they lived etc. Im am so blessed that I am not the only one in my family who has these same interests!


I received a beautiful vintage wedding card from my youngest aunty, Belinda. When it was given to me, my Nan told me that although Belinda had been reluctant to give away any of the vintage cards she had collected, she did know that the card would be treasured by me just as much as she treasured it herself! And I truly do! Thank you again Aunty Belinda.

The inside of the card reads -

"A wish to the lucky bridegroom
And the happy bride...
That you'll have many years of joy.
And contentment, side by side!"

I cannot help but smile every time I read this! So charming and sweet, as is most things of that era. 

For all the new & past brides, enjoy!
Melanie xo 


Sunday, 2 June 2013

Crochet Rolled Rose


Crochet flowers are sweet little additions to any project, wether it be a granny blanket, baby booties, a scarf or a small token. The ideas of how to use this rolled rose is endless! It is a very simple pattern and a picture perfect result is attainable for any level of crocheter.

For the roses below I used a 4.00mm hook. To increase or decrease the size of the rose, simply change the thickness of the yarn or the hook size. The delicate, teeny tiny rose I made was using crochet cotton and a 1mm size hook. Experiment with different sizes and yarn and let me know the result! If you are a beginner crocheter, visit www.crochetnmore.com/123basics.htm to learn the abbreviations and stitches.




I adapted my pattern from pompomemporium.com. Here is the pattern -

Leaving a 10"length for sewing, chain 37.

Row 1: (dc, ch2, dc) in 6th chain from hook (5 skipped chs count as first dc plus 2 ch), *ch2, skip next 2 chs, (dc, ch2, dc) in next ch; repeat from * until you have reached the end of the initial 37ch. 






Row 2: Ch3, turn; 5dc in next ch2 sp, sc in next ch2 sp, (6dc in next ch2 sp, sc in next ch2 sp) 3 times, (9dc in next ch2 sp, sc in next ch2 sp) 3 times, (12dc in next ch2 sp, sc in next ch2 sp) 5 times. Finish off leaving 10" length for sewing. 





End: Roll rose beginning with the first petal you made but wrong side facing outward. Smallest petals should be in the centre of the rose and the larger, flatter petals on the outside. Use a yarn needle to sew secure.





Happy crocheting!
Melanie xo


Saturday, 1 June 2013

Eggy Bread

A new addition to the usual scrambled, fried & poached eggs breakfast. 

Eggy bread is a favourite in our home. Full of protein and flavor, it's sure to impress all who devour it. Please use olive oil over any other oil you have in the pantry and the Thai sweet chili sauce is a must! The coriander enhances the flavor and gives the dish a hint of spice and freshness.

Today we shared a pot of Morning Red leaf tea from T2 Australia. Thank you to my Mum who gave it to us, it was delicious! The teacups are vintage pieces from New Zealand, also a gift from my sweet Mum!




Ingredients:

4 slices bread
1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil
4 eggs
fresh coriander
Thai sweet Chili Sauce


Using a cookie cutter of you choice (a loveheart is always nice for children or a a treat for valentines) cut a hole in each slice of bread. Heat half of oil in a flat frying pan. Place each slice of bread onto pan and let it cook until one side is crispy and golden. Add the remaining oil to the pan and. Flip the bread and when the underside has become crisp, crack an egg into each of the holes. Let it cook until egg is done to your liking. If you prefer a harder, less 'runny' egg, place the pan under the oven grill for a few minutes. Serve with chili sauce and coriander. 





A must try for Sunday breakfast! 

Enjoy!
Melanie xo




Vanilla Fairy Cakes


One of my favourite things to make using my KitchenAid is Vanilla Fairy Cakes. Its a super easy recipe, just throw all of the the ingredients into the bowl and turn it on. Preheat oven to 170C and bake for 15-20mins or until golden on top. The batter will make around 9 cupcakes. Icing with any icing of your choice, I most often use a simple icing of confectioners sugar, a little milk and butter. The cupcakes in the below picture were beautifully decorated by 3 yr old Haya, I think she did a perfect job! 

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
7 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup self raising flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk





Enjoy!
Melanie xo