world according to sam

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. Mark Twain

Month: May, 2015

Countdown to……FortyTen!

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Those of you that know me well will know that my age is rather a fluid thing, mercurial in that few are ever able to really pin down my exact birthyear … I have been skirting the subject for at least the past decade however now that my gorgeous baby boys are hirsute young men my age manipulation makes their births a criminal offence so I must come clean ….. Yes, I am about to become FortyTen! There, I have said it (again), the first time was when I started this blog last Summer and ‘fessed up that perhaps my Facebook profile was not entirely truthful (and I have NO IDEA how to change it *she lied unashamedly). My (younger) brothers at last breathed a huge sigh of relief at no longer having to bear the burden of being the elder siblings and all the responsibilities that come with that!

 

But what does it mean? To most, my ‘coming of age’ will mean nothing but I must confess I am approaching the date (6/6 – I only just missed that Omen moniker!!) with a little hesitancy. For a year I have been slathering on serums with youth-giving properties beneath super rich moisturisers and of course have resisted losing too much (any) weight for fear of my face caving in on itself – nope my body is still very much Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) rather than Melissa Joan Hart (Serena Teenage Witch)!  A new beauty and health regimen has been adopted and paying closer attention to the many Ageless Beauty blogging gurus, has replaced my former monthly magazine addiction.  Tricks for concealing, contouring and correcting – these are my new “Three C’s” and can be attributed to not only anti-ageing skin unguents, my make up routine but also MY KNICKERS!

Mr H passed particular milestone birthday some considerable time ago and sadly there is not the distance between our dates of birth as I have purported in the past.  I did for some time flag him up as J Howard Marshall to my Anna Nicole Smith but alas the gap is closing and my audience less amenable to the idea that there is a huge chasm between our respective ages. To add further humiliation, he is faring so much better in the ageing stakes than me. But there were some inherent changes to him and his demeanour as he turned his half century, namely climbing up onto his own, personalized and super-sized soapbox to rage at the world …. About everything!   And what an assault on the senses that particular joy was as he dropped me to the station in the mornings, rahrahrah at 7.30am …..rahrahrah at 8pm collection time. This particular curmudgeonly affliction, according to many of my peers, seems to be  endemic amongst most male demi-centenarians. On the plus side, those sexy salt and pepper flecks at his temples became altogether more distinguished, his leather Loakes and pristinely pressed, only-ever-double-cuffed shirts looked all the more fitting for a gentleman of a certain age and there is something quite comforting going to bed with a man whose failing eyesight will mean that when he wakes in the morning he sees you in that flattering soft focus, blurred around the edges imagery normally afforded to the Hollywood starlets of a bygone era.

So what does it mean to me, this becoming 50? Will I be heading straight to a Cryogenic regeneration chamber? Taking up the 50-day burpee challenge? Rushing for Botox? Preparing a path to my door for a weekly Gin Tanker, with an artic’ full of Schweppes slimline tonic to follow behind? Donning comfy shoes and having my hair cut short as a ‘Hello Middle Age’ gesture!  No, not a chance! I have taken solace today in reading that 50 used to be thought of as the start to ‘old age’, fortunately not any more, that particular gem has been moved to 60-65 (phew!).  Besides I don’t feel middle-aged on the inside, I still want to read about the Kardashians (shallow, I know!), know the latest fashion and beauty trends, be blonde not grey, dance wildly, drink too much on occasion (though my recovery is closer to a fortnight these days), wear skirts above the knee and outrageously high heels – but not at the same time! Embrace Instagram, Twitter and the like.  And embrace totes amazeballs vocabulary too that will totally make your toes curl!  Grow old disgracefully in fact!

Come on FortyTen – bite me! (if you don’t know what that means check out your Urban dictionary chicas!)

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Chalk Paints …. simple

 I have a rather low boredom threshold on the crafting project front …. I want almost instant gratification with minimum effort, I guess that’s why I love cooking so much – great ingredients, a little time and understanding and it is easy to create a dish to impress your friends with ( I am all about applause and recognition for my efforts).  So, the idea of a furniture painting workshop was something I approached with a little apprehension.  Surely this meant days of sanding, painting, drying, painting again, combing or dry brushing effects. (Yawn)

 No need, this is an art form for those that abhor days of preparation, drying time and lack too much artistic flair (yours truly!)

Annie Sloan, doyenne of the chalk paint world has created a range of paints that can be used on ANY surface – plastic, metal, wood, painted finishes, lacquered finishes, wicker and these surfaces need virtually no preparation other than a quick but thorough cleansing with sugar soap.

Here is what her website says about her

Annie Sloan is probably the main reason for the painted furniture revolution through her easy, lively and creative approach to painting. She has a strong desire to communicate and empower people creatively which she does through her books, workshops and paint.
She has been painting for over 40 years as well as writing numerous books on the subject. She has made her own very special decorative paint called Chalk Paint®, which is specifically designed for furniture, that can also be used on walls, floors and in paintings. This paint has been developed through Annie’s knowledge of paint, pigments and art history. Read more about Annie Sloan and her paints here 

The class at The Upholsterer in Midhurst started with tea and biscuits and a ‘get to know’ you chat with other students. Moving into the first floor studio we were talked through the methods we would be trying in the half day workshop. Découpage, Ageing (paint effect, not me!), Crackle Glaze and textured paint with dark wax to give a leather effect

Each furnished with a piece of plain, unotuched softwood, we set about painting two thirds of our plank with a pale chalk base.

The first third (confused yet?) was then painted with a darker chalk colour, a gorgeous French grey and then sanded to give an aged finish and sealed with a clear wax.

The second third (I know, keep up!) was for découpage and crackle glaze …. There is something strangely therapeutic about cutting out paper shapes, in our case beautifully intricate birds (though that bird may be short of a toe or two due to my poor cutting skills!), glued to our second third pale chalk base, sealed with a further layer of decoupage glue and then subjected to the two part crackle glaze application and a blast from an Argos hairdryer. A final rub with a dark wax and the results were amazing. Suddenly I am AMAZING and I want to make this MY career …. And decoupage and crackle glaze every surface in my home!

The final third of my board (the third-third) was given up to a more textural finish in a rich cobalt blue with a dark wax which when finished looked like a gorgeous antiqued leather, though this effect was more effective with the brighter colours including orange which took on the appearance of ancient tanned hide

So I arrived home with my newly acquired tools, glues, glazes and paints ready to chalk paint my home to within an inch of its bare wood life!

I loved the course and came away totally inspired and enthused to try the techniques we had learned, a great activity to try with a girlfriend or a group of friends

2 months on update (post 1st project)

Top tip …. Start small! Frames, small wooden items etc, NOT the two dresser bases I started on and of course I didn’t have the glamorous workshop assistant to mop up, clean brushes and hand me baby wipes at home … Also I have decided I am not so keen on the shabby that is chic … I prefer something a little more uniform in appearance!

Pilau Cauliflower Rice 

  
1 cauliflower, green leaves removed and broken into florets (remove most of the stem retaining the flowery head)

1 finely chopped onion 

1 star anise

Cinnamon stick

3/4 cardamom pods – I always count them in and count them out, they are great to impart that aromatic resinous sweetness to dishes but also soapy tasting horrors that lurk amidst your ingredients and catch you unwittingly when munching on rice or hidden in sauce!

A sprinkle of black mustard seed

Salt & Pepper to taste

Place florets into food processer, using the pulse button, break down until resembling the texture of rice. (It may be better to do this in batches so you don’t over process and make too fine – like the couscous).

In a pan add vegetable oil (rapeseed is good). When hot add all the spices to impart flavour to the oil. You can either remove the spices at this point or leave, dependent on if you like the texture of the spices, they do look lovely when serving. 

Next soften your finely chopped onion in the flavoured oil. When soft, add the cauliflower rice and heat through thoroughly- serve immediately. Also delicious when topped with some crispy fried onion. 

Remember with both the cauliflower couscous and rice recipes although you do want to heat through properly you also want to retain some bite and texture – so don’t let the mixture ‘sweat’ too much or overcook. 

Cauliflower Couscous 

  

1 cauliflower, green leaves removed and broken into florets (remove most of the stem retaining the flowery head)

Juice from 1.5 lemons

1 lg tsp of Dijon/Wholegrain Mustard

1 onion finely chopped

Lots of fresh green herbs ( flat leaf parsley/coriander/basil/mint) according to your preference 

A little oil 

Salt & Pepper to taste 

(Today was an experiment but in future will add pomegranate seed and possibly some grilled red pepper for extra colour)

  

Place cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until a fine couscous texture 

In a pan heat your oil and soften the onion, add the cauliflower couscous and heat through thoroughly. Mix the mustard lemon juice, salt & pepper. 

When couscous is heated pour over the lemon and mustard mix, stir in until fully dispersed. Finally add your herbs just before serving ( if you put in too early they will discolour and lose some of their zing!)

Perfect accompaniment to tagines, roasted lamb or as a lunchtime snack on its own


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