Thursday, March 31, 2011

Drawer Fresheners... Sleeping Bags for Tea!

After my recent dabble in carpentry, I was confronted with the next task - re-organising things with the new pieces of furniture.  The only problem was, I have heaps of beautifully fresh laundry to put in my new drawers and the drawers?  Well, they smell of flat-pack furniture!

So, I looked out my scraps of fabric, a few herbal tea bags and came up with a simple and (I think) cute fix!

Get you needles, scissors, scraps of fabric and herbal tea bags out and here we go...

I used Peppermint Tea Bags at the request of my husband who did not want his T-Shirts coming out a) flowery b) fruity or c) perfumy....

In truth, once the tea bags are snug and safe in their little sleeping bags, the smell is not too strong.  I think I'll be going in search for a new set of tea bags for some of my personal drawers.... pick your favouite scent and have some fun!
I decided at this point to go ahead and stictch the bag up as I couldn't put my hand on my buttons or safety pins.  I think it would be more practical to create a button hole at the top with a fold-over, so that you could switch the tea bags out when the scent starts to fade.... otherwise, you're either unpicking stitches or starting all over again from scratch! However, like I said, I went ahead and finsihed a seam all the way round so that the tea bag is fully contained and the pouches can be knocked around in the drawer without any disasterous spills!

Tada!  Stitch them however you like.. and lets face it, it needn't be perfect... notice how uneven my stitches are!  I guess my saving grace is that noone will be hoking through my dresser :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2 recipes, a Stuffed Broccoli and a Dabble in Carpentry....

My husband headed off for some travel with work yesterday morning, and left me with 5 Ikea boxes and a twinkle in his eyes....

            Though he lovingly told me not to worry and that he could "take care of it" when he returned, I heard the underlying challenge loud and clear.   As his car turned out of the driveway, I sipped the last of my morning coffee and walked over to the first box.  At this point I will admit I was far to cocky.  I had the rest of my day planned out - Build Desk and Filing Cabinet, vacuum room, move Chris' work items into new "office space" in spare bedroom, clear extra "stuff" from downstairs office nook, (All A.M. work....) then Walk Dog, Finish more job applications etc etc etc.....   and what did I accomplish?  A.M.  Assemble half of desk.  P.M. finish desk.... only not really because the ONE drawer that goes into the desk doesn't slide in or out.

I was cocky because faced with a box of bits and pieces and a picture-book instruction manual, I thought, "sure, I have a degree in Philosophy.... logic, analysis and reasoning are my thing."  Oh how the mighty are humbled!  To cut a long saga short, the desk is now finished.  I did indeed leave it unfinished overnight to then approach with fresh eyes and a less-frustrated mind in the morning.  The filing cabinet was a breeze in comparison... a few screws here and there and....

I hope to finish "moving" my husband's home workspace from the open-plan living room -kitchen- dining room- computer nook by the time he's home tomorrow.

Here's his new view:

So, there was my "dabble" in carpentry.  As to the other Ikea boxes... I will keep you updated...

Now to a little cooking because that IS what this blog was intended for...

Pear and Almond Tart

Serves: 6  Prep: 25 mins
Cook:  1 hr 20 mins

500g Puff Pastry
3 ripe Pears (original recipe calls for Peaches)

For the filling:
175g/6oz Ground Almonds
50g/2oz Toasted Almond Flakes
250g Tub Mascarpone 
25g/1oz Butter, softened
200g/7oz Golden Caster (regular Caster sugar also works)
2 Eggs
1.2 tsp Almond extract


1) Heat Oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6
   Roll Out pastry on floured surface, line 23cm tart tin.  Prick pastry with fork and ensure there is an over-hang (pastry shrinks in oven!).  Place 20cm cake tin over pastry, filled with baking beans or dry rice/coffee beans - anything that adds weight.  Bake in oven for 20-25 mins.  Remove cake tin with weighted objects and then bake pastry for another 10-15 mins.

2)  Lower oven to 180 oC.
  Beat together filling ingredients... spoon into the pastry shell.  Cut pears into quarters length-ways.  Arrange with skinny necks of pears facing the centre of the tart.

3) Scatter caster sugar and a few extra almond flakes over the top and bake for a further 40 mins.

Allow tart to cool and then serve with creme fraiche or vanilla bean ice-cream... YUM!


I made this recipe from the BBC's Good Food Magazine.  Like I said in the ingredients, the original called for peaches, but I decided on pears for the following reasons:

  • Peaches were not in season (not that pears necessarily were either but they are more trusty year-round in Ireland) and the magazine was from months ago.
  • I had the divine experience of tasting a real pear and almond tart in the south of France years ago and have since tried to find the perfect recipe to recreate it... and this is pretty close!!  Eat your heart out Julia Child!
It was a complete hit.  Our guests loved it and it has jumped to the top of my favourite looks-fancy-but-is-pretty-simple desert list!

I will now give you a moment to digest that recipe and tell you the story of the Stuffed Broccoli......

Chris and I spent 3 hours in Ikea this weekend.  Of all the bits and piece we collected to "organise" our lives, Chris was most excited about the stuffed broccoli. We stood for a significant period of time at the toy bins in the kids section.  

We are NOT trying to tell you something, but we do have a dog.  On our last trip to Ikea a month ago, we brought Jozy back a small stuffed kangaroo.  It was 1/5th of the price of a dog toy and it has lasted as long... success.  So, this time, we were debating which creature to bring back next.  We decided first of all to upgrade to the larger stuffed toys.  Initially we were drawn to the large stuffed Labrador, wondering how she would react to an almost-life-sized toy just like her.... and then Chris spotted the stuffed vegetables.  I realise childrens' games and toys are not what they used to be, and Ikea is known for being quirky, but really?  Large fluffy tomatoes, carrotes and broccoli the size of a small child?

Again, I am humbled.  The broccoli came home, also accompanied by my husband's twinkling eyes, and the result?  Jozy is in love....

I love that the Broccoli and the dog are smiling in this photo.... an affair to remember!

AND FINALLY.....  Recipe #2

Buttermilk Pie
(thank you to Beth and Jody Price, and his dear mother )

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 stick butter melted
3 eggs beaten
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp Vanilla


1) Mix sugar, eggs, buttermilk, butter, flour and vanilla.
2) Pour mixture into shortcrust pie shell.
3) Bake at 300 F for 1 hr.


I make this in a tart/ flan dish but as you can see, there is then extra mixture for at least 3 small pies! You will not need to bake these for the full hour, approximately 40 mins.   If you're a deep pie lover, use a regular pie dish and the mixture fills it and bakes perfectly in 1 hour.

Hope this finds you all having a lovely Tuesday!

A funny family moment...

Chris and I just had to share this with the world....

Jozy honestly just loves being vacuumed.  I can't help but laugh with the grin she has going on!