29 June 2014

RHS Garden Wisley

Hasn't June flown past! All these things I've had coming up at work and home, which I thought were ages away back in the beginning of June have come upon us and I know that next month is going to be super busy but with a hell of a lot of fun thrown in (i.e., we're going to Love Supreme next weekend!!). One of the things that crept up upon us was my mum and her boyfriend coming to stay with us on Saturday night. 

It had slipped my mind that I was going to the races at Goodwood on Friday with work (which by the way was awesome and I won £55!) and had made plans Saturday to see my friends from home, and Dan was away for the weekend! So by the time I realised all of this I had to frantically tidy our flat Thursday night and pray Dan didn't make any mess while I was out, which of course he didn't, I am the messy one after all!

We spent Saturday night in a beer garden drinking cocktails where I tried to stop my mum taking cuttings from the succulents on the display next to us, eating a very late dinner at our place and watching a documentary on the BBC about Billy Joel's tour in Russia during the Cold War (my mum and I are the official Billy Joel Music Appreciation Fan Club) while my mum's boyfriend fell asleep on the sofa (he's more of a Fairport Convention lover). 

But on Sunday we went to The Royal Horticultural Society's Garden in Wisley, Surrey for free because they are ticket holders and I am their child regardless of age! If you've never been to the Garden in Wisley before I can give you two pieces of advice. One, be prepared to not see everything. The garden or more realistically gardens are massive, I took so many photos, strolled through loads of displays and I don't think we even saw a third of what there is to see, excluding the garden centre. Two, bring a large bottle of water. If the weather is nice, bring a lot of water as I've said there's a lot to explore and you'll be quite hot and tired (the good kind!) by the end, especially if you're going in the greenhouses (they are heat traps!), and although there is a food hall it's on one side of the gardens and I didn't see any stands in between.

Advice over. The gardens are beautiful and I've got some of my favourite shots to share with you to inspire you to visit Wisley or one of the RHS's other gardens, or maybe to just do a bit of gardening yourself (indoor plants count too!). The RHS also hold flower shows including the Chelsea Flower Show so there are some dedicated gardeners pruning the flowers at Wisley.

I'm a huge lover of poppies, the seedpods are just as interesting as the flowers, so it was lovely to see these beauties springing up all over the place.

27 June 2014

Eat Roast Butternut Squash & Beetroot Salad

It's Friday! And the weekend is wide open to us, unfortunately, the heavens also appear to be open to us. It's supposed to rain all day tomorrow, which potentially scuppers mine and Dan's outdoor weekend. In an attempt to butter Dan up into going out tomorrow (and because his train home was late by two hours!), I did the laundry, washed up the dishes that had crept onto the counter top and made dinner for when he got in. 

At the time of cooking Dan didn't know what time he was going to get in because his train had been cancelled because they couldn't find a driver (I am sorry to say the dark side of me laughed when he sent me that message) so I decided to make Roast Butternut Squash and Beetroot Salad.  

The beauty about this salad is that it is just as delicious cold as it is hot so you can make it a few hours in advance. In addition to this it's simple to throw together for a lot of people which combined with it being good to eat cold means it's perfect for a summer family BBQ. I love the caramel flavour the roast onion gives the butternut squash and beetroot in this dish, and this dressing is a compliment to the well-established love between beetroot and honey and mustard. The recipe given below is enough salad for two as a main, or four as a starter or side dish.

Roast Butternut Squash and Beetroot Salad
1/2 large butternut squash
4 large beetroots
1 white onion
100g rocket
2 tbsp thyme leaves

 4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Peel the butternut squash half and cut it into 2 cm thick slices width ways, top and tail the beetroot and cut them into quarters, and slice the onion into large chunks. 

Step 2. Toss the butternut squash, beetroot and white onion together in 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp thyme leaves, and salt and pepper to taste on a large baking tray, then roast in the oven for 45 minutes. 

Step 3. While the vegetables are roasting put together the dressing. It's really simple, in a cup mix together 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp wholegrain mustard and 1 tsp honey with salt and pepper to taste. This dressing is quite sharp so you might want to add a little more honey if it's not your thing (personally it's so good!). 

Step 4. After 45 minutes remove the vegetables from the oven and leave to cool if you're serving the salad cold. Hot or cold, go ahead and assemble the salad with the rocket and vegetables (the onions will have cooked down and be all sticky, don't forget to add them they make this dish!!), spooning over the dressing and sprinkling with thyme leaves. 

Step 5. Demolish the salad as shown below. 

25 June 2014

Oh You Pretty Pins

I probably haven't mentioned but if you've seen my Pinterest side bar, and it's ever changing selection of latest pins, you'll know that I am a Pinterest addict. It started kind of slow but has just got out of control and I don't want to control it. I want to share it. Hence Oh Your Pretty Pins is born.

Long-term readers (of which I can name one very significant reader) will remember that this blog was not always called They Called It The Diamond Blog. This blog started life as Oh You Pretty Things mostly because me and my friend Louise are big David Bowie fans. However, I eventually thought I could be super clever and do one better in the Bowie-themed blog name by changing it to a take on the main line in his song and album 'Diamond Dogs', and it has stuck despite being told that it might make me look a bit arrogant. Believe me I am not entirely arrogant just a Bowie fan.

Back to the point I was trying to make, Oh You Pretty Things has returned! As pins!! That's right I'll be sharing my favourite pins on here weekly. With my job I'm not great at sticking to set blog times so you'll have to forgive me if it turns out more like Oh You Pretty Pins every other week.

This week (and many weeks before!) I have been pinning lots of tropical themed prints, pineapple inspired goods and all things hot weather related so to the pins below!

1. Dreaming of living behind this pink Colonial Spanish door. 
2. This pineapple cake and the fact Lyndsay made it for her Dad's 70th makes me smile!
3. I want this Kate Spade bracelet so bad, maybe because of the scene in Practical Magic maybe not.
4. Kate Spade is obviously big on my pinboards, but this clutch is just too tropical and topical (#worldcup) to leave out!
5. These cupcakes by Oh Joy are fruity and fun. Warning does not count as one of your five or eight a day.
6. Toucan anyone? I recently stumbled upon 6KS and have had to restrain myself from purchasing everything on their site. It's all too much.

17 June 2014

DIY Hand Painted Cork Trivets

 The majority of foods I like to eat tend to be made for sharing, I'm just that kind of sharing caring person. But I've found that if you're going to share food, it often means lots of dishes (although don't get me wrong I'm a huge believer in One Pan, Two Plates and less washing up!). And lots of dishes means me grabbing all the tea towels I have and shamefully sometimes oven gloves to rest hot dishes on to prevent my already scarred pine table from being scorched.

So I knew when I saw these cork trivets for next to nothing in Tiger I had to have them for the prevention of pine table trauma everywhere. Before taking on this global issue I started small, customizing my trivets with an all black and cork theme and bright red rim. This DIY is super easy and thinking about it after, it could be a really fun activity for you to do with little ones in the summer with them painting their own 'picture' with water-based non-toxic acrylic on the corkboard and using it there after at family meal times.

DIY Hand Painted Cork Trivets
Cork trivets
White chalk
Acrylic paint (I used black and red)
Paintbrushes (larger brushes to do areas like inside the chevrons and a thin brush for the edges and writing)
Water or white spirit (depending on whether you're using water based acrylic)
Polyurethane spray
Old newspapers

Step 1. Lightly sketch out your design in chalk on the cork boards, you can do this in pencil if you're feeling super confident but I used chalk because you can easily wipe it off afterwards with a piece of kitchen towel if you don't end up following the design when you paint it out. 

Step 2. Paint the design on to the cork trivet using your acrylic paint, depending on what type of acrylic paint you use will depend on whether you use water or white spirit to loosen the paint and clean your brushes. I used a water-based acrylic paint so went with water, I would use water-based acrylic if you're going to be making these with kids. Let it dry, if you decide to use a light colour paint you might want to do two or three coats so you get the colour you want, for example, I only used one coat of paint for the black on my trivet but two coats of paint for the red. You don't have to use paintbrushes to make your design either, I made the spotty trivet using a wine cork which I pressed down with varying amounts of paint to get different shaded spots.

Step 3. Let the face of the trivet completely dry before you paint the sides. Hold the trivet like a frisbee and paint around the edge to get the coloured rim pictured. You'll want to let it dry once you've gone all the way round and then flip it over and paint the edge again. Flipping it over mean you get to fill in all the parts you missed when holding it the other way. 

Step 4. Once the trivet is dry and you're happy with the design you'll want to seal it in. The polyurethane spray stops the paint from peeling off when you place something hot on it and the paint sticking to the underside of your pan. Without it, the paint is not heat proof and there may be many ruined dishes. You'll want to follow the spray's instructions for use. Mine was to do one coat at 30cm away spraying evenly over the design and rim and leaving it to dry for an hour before using it. Spray this outside to avoid getting varnish everywhere and ruining your furnishings. 

Step 5. After waiting the allotted amount of time cook a huge meal to share with your loved ones. I recommend bacon and sausage lentils with a huge salad! 
Happy Eating!

10 June 2014

Urban Food Fest

I've been wanting to go to Urban Food Fest for a while now but haven't been able to go since it restarted in April owing to all the same reasons I didn't have time to blog either, see this post for my apologetic reasons why.

However, we finally got round to going last weekend and it did not disappoint. Food night markets are not a new craze in London but one I have recently cottoned on to and with a full heart (and stomach) embraced. Urban Food Fest is located in a car park just off Shoreditch High Street and happens every Saturday from 5pm-midnight with free entry (the best things in London are free).

I wasn't really sure what to expect with this market as, although the testimonials on the website promised a street party atmosphere, Dan and I went to Street Feast at Hawker House in Hoxton a couple of months ago and despite the food being amazing (the roast pork bau in particular) and the venue industrial cool, it felt like we'd walked into someone else's party with lots of big groups saving seats for people who hadn't arrived. Despite this I'll still be going to the Dalston Yard food night market run by Street Feast so it can't have been that bad.

However, with live music being performed on a traffic island and people spilling from the carpark onto the street I would say Urban Food Fest's testimonials were bang on. It was a street party with everyone laughing, eating, singing (badly to a cover of Baby When You're Gone by Bryan Adams meets Mel C) and drinking. And with an excellent array of food and drink stalls there was something for everyone, there are 15 traders at the event and these change every week so chances are if you go you might not eat at the same stalls we did but that kind of adds to the excitement of a food market, wandering round and choosing what you like the look of!

For me, the Duck Confit Burger from Frenchie caught my eye. I can't decide whether this was because it's crispy duck in a burger or the huge pile of cheese wheels they had on display. We went for the blue cheese on recommendation from the lady manning the stall and it was delicious. In addition, I've got to applaud the speed at which they put this together, super fast food!

8 June 2014

Columbia Road Flower Market

I love Summer and I especially love spending Summer weekends exploring the markets of London. And this market is a beauty. 

Columbia Road, located a short walk from Old Street, is fun to visit any day of the week with it's row of boutiques offering a variety of wares including a shop selling more Audrey Hepburn hats than you could ever wear. Plus it has some of the best coffee in London, of which the novelty of Start Coffee as a doorway coffee shop has not been lost by me yet (this is probably mostly owing to their excellent muffins). 

However, every Sunday morning Columbia Road transforms into a heaving flower market. A word to the wise this might not be the market for you if you're agoraphobic as the stalls are set up on both sides of the street and there are two single streams of people going through these stalls in opposite directions. But armed with a litre bottle of water and blueberry muffins, having taken hayfever tablets and with a positive mental attitude you're ready to take it on (blueberry muffins are optional, however, Emily and I found they were a necessity at the time of our visit). In addition, get there early! How early is really up to you, but I'd normally get there for about 9am, Emily and I actually turned up at 11.30am when we went and this was the latest I've arrived as the market which starts shutting down from 12am depending on when they sell out.