Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Summer Ceramic And Glass Painting

If you're a crafter I bet you have times when you're restless and want to make something but don't really know what you fancy doing. I was a bit like that recently, so I raided my crafty stash from Baker Ross and decided to do some ceramic and glass painting.

Baker Ross have produced a great colourful summertime range of products, and I was impressed by the range of things there were to colour and personalise as well. 3D items and flat decorations. I was sent:

Ceramic Seaside Hanging Decorations - £3.95 for 5

Glass Tealight Holders - £4.50 for 6

Large White Porcelain Mugs - £4.48 for 4

My first impressions were good, for me I think the value is there and you get quite a lot for your money, especially with the tealights, but they all looked sturdy and good quality. Having ready glazed mugs was great as well.

Copyright These City Days 2014

The only downside were my porcelain pens, they seem to have a mind of their own at the moment. I stored them as instructed, but at times I'd take the lid off and not have to do anything and too much colour came out, other times I didn't get a smooth flow. The black outline pen was a godsend for tidying everything up though, just would have been good to have some other fine nib colours for the smaller items/details. I've had to be careful of dried up paint in the lids and round the nibs as well, so I'd recommend careful wiping/cleaning every now and then.

I was a little wary of painting the 3D items, but I am so chuffed with my first attempts. The paint wipes off when it's not heat set, brilliant when you want to make sure a drawing has a passing resemblance to an animal etc. Heat setting was easier second time round, although what appeared a smooth deep layer of colour didn't come out quite the same after a trip to the oven.

The mug is sitting pretty upstairs, but the tealight went off to a good friend as a birthday gift. The glass is thick and sturdy so it survived posting, and was pretty light to post as well. I'd definitely consider painting up some more to send as gifts, although I might do one or two for the house first! The feedback I got from my friend and her other half was amazing too. One happy crafter!!

* I was kindly sent these products as a member of the Baker Ross Blogger Network, but as always all opinions are my own. If you've used these products or have some other crafty stories to share, I'd love to hear from you. Just post below.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Easy Spicy Pasta Recipe

I don't know about anyone else, but as work on my blog I'm getting a bit hungry. I normally review snacks and things here, but when mum's looking after my nephew, or it's a bit less hectic at the end of the day, then it's my turn to cook.

I was watching Celebrity Masterchef the other week when one of the contestants was making a supposedly spicy tomato pasta for a challenge - as you can probably guess it didn't taste spicy at all. At the time I thought 'I can do much better than that', so that was my challenge next time I cooked. I don't tend to use a recipe for things like this, although I am sure there are similar out there, but at the time I cooked, it was just me and the cupboards!


Pack of sausages


Crushed chilli flakes

Worcester Sauce


Can chopped tomatoes

Tomato Ketchup

Fresh or dried pasta


This was super easy to make, and a lot of it was tasting and adapting as I went along to get the sauce how I liked and wanted it flavour wise.

The sausages were grilled as normal, you can do this before and just heat them through a little more before serving, or if you're super organised you could time each part of the recipe and cook it all together.

I first cooked down a can of tomatoes, starting off on a higher heat, then reducing as it started to boil. When the tomatoes had cooked down a fair bit, I started adding the rest of the ingredients, with a splash of Tabasco and Worcester Sauce first, and then the crushed chilli flakes, about a heaped teaspoon of those, enough to give a kick without being over powering. Finally I added 2 teaspoons of sugar and a splash of ketchup to add a bit of sweetness, and my sauce was ready.

I took the sauce of the heat to cook the pasta, then when this was cooked I put the sauce back on to warm as I was serving up. I plated up the pasta and sausages, then added the sauce, and it was time to eat. Sometimes my efforts have been a little hit and miss - like the odd time I have over cooked rice when it needed a bit longer and I was distracted by other things I was cooking, but I got clean plates this time!

If you fancy giving it a go, or you have a favourite pasta recipe of your own to share do let me know. I love to hear from my blog readers, and if you like what you see, please feel free to follow me on Blog Lovin.

Friday, 11 July 2014

The Liebster Award

Hi all,

I've been nominated for something, which is pretty exciting, especially as the Liebster Award is all about finding new blogs, and finding out more about bloggers. Thanks to the lovely Lauren T at Princess Of Pretty for nominating me. Here are the rules:

  • Thank the person who voted you and leave a link to their site
  • Write 11 facts about yourself
  • Answer the 11 questions given to you by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate 11 up and coming bloggers with under 200 followers
  • Come up with 11 questions for your nominees
  • Leave a comment on their blog with a link to your post to let them know you've nominated them!

11 Facts About Me

1. I became an aunty for the first time in 2012, and now have a full of mischief 18 month old in my life.

2. I was once in the audience of CD:UK and got filmed on camcorder by H from Steps.

3. Swimming with dolphins is probably the ultimate on my 'things I've always wanted to do list'.

4. I hate onions with a passion and refuse to use them whenever I cook dinner.

5. I once did an e-mail Q&A with Beverley Knight one of my favourite female singers.

6. I am a big Olympics fan, and have a small collection of London 2012 goodies, including a few bits my parents picked up from Wimbledon.

7. My favourite feel good song is Katrina and the Waves, Walking on Sunshine. Always cheers me up.

8. I have very awkward feet, narrow one end, wide the other, and it takes AGES to find shoes. My collection is small too!

9. I have a thing for nail polish, though I am rubbish at applying it/being patient, and it always seems to chip easily.

10. I have on occasion been sleeping or half asleep and convinced a great big spider was on the ceiling, and have woken up with a big jump, only to find nothing was there.

11. I would love to have a book of short stories for children published, I just need the inspiration.

The questions I was asked.

What is your favourite food?

That is a pretty hard question to answer, I guess I'd have to say salad, or roast turkey and Yorkshire pudding - nom!

What film did you last see at the cinema?

Titanic - we used to go and see films as a family, and sometimes I went with friends, but these days I prefer curling up with a DVD uninterrupted at home on the sofa. Maybe with some cheeky treats as well.

3 things you'd take to a desert island with you?

Erm, a multi tool knife, sun tan lotion, and a water purifying kit.

Who is your celeb crush?

I'd have to say Scott McGregor who currently plays Mark Brennan in Neighbours, great acting in his character, and nice to look at as well.

What is your Least favourite house chore?

Ironing - it always seems so tiresome and longwinded, but I did set myself a New Year's Resolution not to build up a massive ironing pile, and so far, so good.

Do you prefer Red, White or Rose wine?

None, I very very rarely touch any alcohol, and am not a fan of any of it, would much rather have a soft drink.

Which do you use more - Facebook or Twitter?

Look at - probably Facebook, use-Twitter - I think Twitter has taken over as the more interactive, interesting social network.

What is your weakness when shopping?

Craft stuff, nail polish (although I am rubbish at nails), and anything with Dolphins on.

Do you play a sport?

No, not really, I used to swim a lot when I was younger, so am trying to get back into that. I like playing badminton in the garden on a nice day as well, and like tennis as well but haven't played that for ages.

Describe your perfect date.

I'm single so don't really have any strong views either way at the moment, but I like being outdoors, and just relaxing, not really into clubbing etc. Maybe just a pub beer garden on a sunny day.

How long have you been blogging?

I'm a freelance writer by trade, so I have been blogging professionally for a while, I had a review blog for a while too, but this is my first proper personal blog project, which was 1 year old on June 11th.

Blogs I am nominating:

A Book And A Brew
Ramblings Of A Biscornu Addict
Fruit Of My Scraps
Joanne Dewberry
Rainy Day Faces
An Essex Wife
Creative Craft Marketing
The PR Mummy
Jennifer Grace Creates
A Southern Girl Up North
Eee Bah Gum

Questions I'm Asking:

1. Are there any blog related things you wish you were better at?
2. What has been your most popular post lately?
3. What's your favourite day trip to make in your area?
4. What would your ideal/fantasy job be?
5. What posters were on your walls when you were younger?
6. Do you have any guilty pleasures food wise?
7. Do you have any goals for your blog?
8. How would you describe yourself in 140 characters (Twitter style)?
9. If you could put any one thing into the Big Brother house what would it be?
10. If you could get one person (dead or alive) to guest post on your blog who would it be?
11. If someone asked you to plan a unique night out, what would you do?

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Tour De France Came To Chelmsford

Le Tour De France Caravane copyright: Lauren John

There's been a few debates going around this week, one was how on earth Brazil failed so dismally in their 7-1 defeat in the World Cup to Germany, the other is a local one, and that's was it worth watching the Tour De France come through the county on Monday. I don't normally sit on the fence with my opinions, but I am pretty undecided about this one.

I've never seen any live pro sport before though, so when I heard that the famous cycle race was coming through Essex, and at one point crossing a point that I could reach and watch from I was a little bit excited. I do follow cycling a little, although mainly when the big events are on TV or events feature in the Olympics etc. It's a sport I like, but it's not one of my favourites, but it was coming to Essex so I set off to where the Tour De France passed through Chelmsford on the junction of Chignal Road and Roxwell Road, and prepared myself for a long wait.

Another shot of the Caravane

I'd read that the Caravane was huge and something like a carnival procession; but when it did pass through it wasn't quite as big as promised, was flanked by a lot of official race vehicles, and went through very quick, barely throwing out any freebies to the crowds - I could have done with some Haribo! Maybe the rules stated they had to be well ahead of the cyclists, but I think they could have made more of this aspect - even if it's purely advertising, it would have been nice to have a bit more to cheer.

After the Caravane had passed through there were a lot of people saying 'that was quick' and 'is that it', then debating whether they could risk moving to get an ice cream or use the conveniently located portaloos. I had no room to sit, so was standing around for almost 2 hours getting a bit bored before the cyclists arrived - and when they did I was quite glad of my position, even if my feet were feeling the pain.

As I was standing at the junction I got a little warning of the cyclists coming and saw them for a bit longer as they zoomed off down the road. They came and went in a flash and I was so busy trying to snap photos and cheer that it seemed even quicker. It was a spectacle that's for sure - which led to an impulse buy of a Tour De France magnet and water bottle. Just a shame ITV apparently cut to adverts when they went through Chelmsford.

It was great to see something this big pass through my hometown, and it was something different to do that I hope it leads to more opportunities for us to see some kind of top level sport in the future, I'm not sure if it was worth all the waiting or not - I am quite chuffed with all my pics though!

Did you go out and see Le Tour De France? What did you think of the race and coverage? Would love to hear your thoughts.

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