Tag Archives: i made it myself

Life Lately :: My Summer Break Begins

Summer Break 2 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Well the summer has finally arrived in the Hello household, and I am sooooo pleased to have made it through my first year of primary teaching.

The weather in our part of the world has been really incredible recently, nicely coinciding with the holiday feeling I seem to have been cultivating! I was lucky enough to get a couple of bottles of fizz as thank you presents this year, and so I cracked one open at the earliest opportunity and toasted to my class!

Summer Break 3 - cHello Sam Goodbye Samantha

A funny story, although one that I am almost certain Mr H doesn’t want me to share. The champagne flute in the picture above is part of a Royal Doulton set called ‘Linear’. We got a set of wine glasses and some decanters as a wedding gift,  and I’d been searching for some flutes as well, as I’d heard the range had been discontinued. I stumbled upon a set of flutes in John Lewis, and snapped them up as soon as I saw them. I brought them home to some eye-rolling from Mr H, who for some unknown reason, doesn’t get as excited about glassware as I do. Literally, the next day, as he was putting the glasses away in our cupboard, he dropped one, on to two other glasses, smashing half of my new set!

He was obviously devastated on my behalf, although I was surprisingly accepting of it, trying to make sure he didn’t feel too bad! Things are things, and to be perfectly honest I was a bit surprised  that it wasn’t me that had broken them first!

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We’ve also been spending a lot more time in the allotment – it’s basically harvest time! We’ve eaten all of our lovely potatoes, and my god lovely is truly the right word. I’d never considered potatoes to have a particularly distinct flavour, and I’m Polish, so that’s saying something! But freshly dug potatoes are so creamy, and their texture is just divine. All hail home grown taters!

I bought a couple of courgette and pumpkin seedlings when we went to the Kent Garden Show a few weeks back, and I’m pleased to say they have both gone absolutely mental. We picked Big Bertha the courgette a couple of days ago, and I know she has a couple more friends ready waiting to be picked any day now. No pumpkins yet, but I pruned a couple of the vines back to see if that would make a difference – I want the plant to use its energy to make the pumpkin, rather than a long vine. I do, however, find it rather pleasing to see a huge pumpkin vine cascading over our plot, but still, eyes must remain on the pumpkiny prize. 

I’ve taken this week really easily – a couple of days cleaning up my classroom, some gardening, quite a bit of expensive shopping (more on that to come) and general lazing about. The next few weeks will undoubtedly have more structure in them, as I’m determined to be a super efficient machine-type woman in the lead up to the new school year, but this week I am happy just to take it slow. 

 

 

 

A Very Easy and Delicious Salad Dressing

Salad Dressing Recipe - Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaMy father is the all time greatest salad maker.  I know that sounds extreme, but I have never met anyone with such a talent for salad combinations. His methods may be…unorthodox (baked beans in potato salad, anyone?) but are always delicious. As a result, you will often find me hunched over the counter picking at the remains of a huge salad. It seems my inheritance is my fondness for polka ogorki… and salad.

Having said that, it’s only recently that I have started to dress my salads. I’m usually an enjoy-them-as-they-are kind of a gal, apart from a slug of olive oil and more balsamic vinegar than is truly necessary. I have now, however, really cracked a dead simple salad dressing and I thought I would share it here with you.

I love a good bit of antipasto and this is the heart of my (extremely loosely called) recipe.

You will need:

  • A jar of some kind of antipasto – sundried tomatoes, or my particular favourite, chargrilled artichokes.

Method:

  • Gobble up most of the artichokes in a moderately unattractive fashion, leaving a few for the salad. Reserve the oil in the jar and put to one side.
  • Peel 2 garlic cloves, and gently crush using the flat of a knife. Add to the jar.
  • Bruise 2 stalks of rosemary – dried or fresh, it doesn’t matter.
  • Add in a few good glugs of balsamic vinegar – I like a roughly 50/50 ratio, but after a few goes, you’ll work out a combination that rocks your socks.
  • Reseal the lid, shake it like a polaroid picture, and pour, trying not to let the garlic cloves or rosemary escape.
  • Reseal and store in the fridge – it should last at least a week, and you can top up with olive oil, fresh garlic and balsamic vinegar as you go.

It should take you approximately 2 minutes to prepare, using mostly what I assume to be store cupboard ingredients – forgive me if not – and if you’re anything like me, this time includes the time to eat 3/4 of a jar of artichokes!

Enjoy!

 

We <3 Ashford :: Happy & Glorious Blogger Day

Long time no blog, hey? I shall spare you all the mundane excuses bar one – life simply got in the way. I am now returned to the internet for fun times. Praise.

Swift segue into today’s post. Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha has long been a place where I have championed the offerings of Medway, if not Kent. I love Kent, and feel it has so much to offer. We’ve got beaches, wineries, historical sites aplenty, as well as a fair few rather good farmer’s markets. What’s not to like (I had myself at wineries, let’s be honest).

There remains, however, a vague sense of Kent being slightly down at heel, and while I can certainly attest to that, many more parts of Kent are now up-and-coming. I give you Medway, I give you Margate, and now, I give you Ashford.

I was recently invited down to Ashford to celebrate a Blogger’s Day, organised by the delightful Happy & Glorious. Truth be told, I’ve never actually been to Ashford before, save for one swift transition through the train station. It was half term, and I can now drive, so I thought, why not! Off I went.

Happy Glorious - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Happy Glorious 1 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

You will find Happy & Glorious in the Park Mall, in central Ashford. It’s an older style open air shopping mall, but there seem to be lots of lovely little independent shops popping up throughout. I popped in and was greeted by Kate, who is the mastermind behind the whole event. I picked up my fabulous little goody bag with products from all of the vendors and had a nose about!

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Those of you who remember my bunting days will not be surprised that one of my favourite stores was Emporia Fabrics and Craft. Oh how I wish we had this shop in Rochester! The perfect place to pick up a birthday gift, with enough space for craft classes! Dreamy.

I picked up some gold leather earrings. Yes, you did read that correctly. Note:

Happy Glorious 13 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Made in Ashford is a collective of local craftspeople who, supported by the council, run this little shop! It was full to the brim of fab little crafts, and I happily bought a tote bag with a great linocut print on it from here.

Happy Glorious 10 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

From my little chat here, I gathered that the local council in Ashford have been extremely supportive of artists and craftspeople throughout Ashford and even further beyond, and I was greeted with nothing bud positivity. They’ve got a great thing going on down there, and it speaks volumes about the forward thinking nature of Ashford folk.

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I rounded off the afternoon with a spot of lunch in a new cafe, Stag Coffee. Hipster vibe? Check. Beards aplenty? Check. Delicious felafel panini? Check mate. It was fab.

As I packed up to head home, I pulled out of the carpark and heard a stomach wrenching crunch. Was my delightful stay in Ashford about to be ruined by my poor spatial awareness? Had I just smacked into the car next to me?

No. Turns out I just drove over a Capri Sun. PHEW.

Goat’s Cheese and Asparagus Tart

Goat's Cheese and Asparagus Tart - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I thought I’d try something a little different on the blog this week, and share with you a rather tasty little recipe I whipped up over the Easter weekend.

Now, several years ago I was a rather intense cook, teaching myself quite a lot from cookbooks. Jamie Oliver and Nigella were particular favourites, although I also learnt (and continue to learn!) a huge amount from both Master The Art of French Cooking (Julia Childs) and the Larousse Gastronomique. I learned the basics of cooking, namely that almost every savoury recipe starts with olive oil, onion and garlic.

In recent years, and particularly since I’ve begun to work longer hours, I’ve slacked off in the cooking department and leant heavily on the repertoire of meals for I’d built up a relative degree of expertise. I still muck up, actually quite often, but it’s usually a result of being lazy or rushing, due to my famed appetite.

To cut a long story short, both Mr H and I were a little bit bored of our usual fare, and so the idea of an asparagus tart popped into my mind whilst we absent-mindedly wandered around Sainsbury’s. It’s been a long time since I indulged my penchant for goat’s cheese, and what is the Easter Bank Holiday weekend if not a perfect opportunity to indulge?

You Will Need:

  • 6 eggs
  • 100ml cream (although any milk will do, we just happened to have some that needed using up)
  • 1 bunch of baby asparagus
  • 3 spring onions
  • 100g soft goat’s cheese
  • 6 sheets of filo pastry
  • salt and pepper to taste

What To Do:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Grease a flan tray (preferably with a removable base). Lay your sheets of pastry one at a time, spiralling out so that there are no gaps. I sprayed each layer with Fry-Light, but that’s optional. Set to one side.
  3. Finely slice the spring onions and put to one side.
  4. Crack the eggs into a medium sized bowl. Add the cream (or milk) and whisk.
  5. Add the spring onions and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Pour the mixture carefully into your prepared dish.
  7. Gently dot the goat’s cheese around the egg mixture in generous blobs.
  8. Arrange the asparagus on top in any pattern of your choosing. Due to inherent sloppiness, my asparagus was too long and so I didn’t get the perfect wheel effect – was I bothered? Not in the least.
  9. Scrunch any excess filo around the sides.
  10. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

This is perfect with a nice vinegary salad  – lots of onion to cut through the richness of the egg and cream! In the summer months, a nice cold glass of white wine wouldn’t go amiss either. Obviously.

 

**Books are linked to for reference, and are not affiliate links.

Plans for Life

HSGS in the Lobby - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Mr Hello and I have spent the weekend making grand plans. Grand, extension sized plans.

You may remember that we’re renovating our Victorian terrace in Rochester (part 2 of the series so far is here). The thing about old houses is that they are always a bit of a money pit.

More than needing you to spend all of your money, however, these old houses simply demand that you spend all of your time on them as well. That is what is breaking our metaphorical bank at the moment – where is all this time supposed to come from? I’m in time debt to myself and my home and I can’t seem to make the repayments.

Instead of housework, or pottering about on the allotment, or marking the several thousand school books I always need to mark, yesterday we simply curled up on our sofa together, got our laptops and measuring tapes out, and spent the day planning what we want our house to look like in a few months time.

We have a rather snazzy set of drawings that Mr H pulled together, and now all we need to do is find the people we want to turn those drawings into their wonderful, life enhancing reality.

When the house is all said and done, surely, surely then I will have some more time? That’s the way it works, no?

Until then, let’s just take small comfort in the fact that the blue in our small lobby is deliciously on point.

Chrimbo At Home – 2015

Merry Christmas 2015 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I singularly failed to take any photos of our family Christmas celebration this year, which happened on December 19th. As penance, I offer you a picture of my front door, which I think looks rather festive, if I do say so myself.

In my post about Christmas rituals, I may have mentioned that I love this time of year. I am pleased to report that our celebration lived up to all my hopes and expectations.

Despite the fact that we had offered to host everyone this year, on the day after I finished school (yikes), it all happened rather smoothly. As with many bloggers, the Nigella Christmas Cookbook became my bible.

Here is our intended menu:

  • Salmon and cream cheese blinis
  • John’s famous sausage rolls*
  • Pumpkin & Goats Cheese Lasagne
  • Nut Roast Pie
  • Beef Wellington*
  • Roast Vegetables
  • Bread sauce*
  • Cranberry sauce*
  • Christmas Coleslaw
  • Chocolate Christmas Pudding
  • Christmas Cake
  • Cheese platter
  • Yule Log

All served with copious amounts of prosecco, wine, beer and cider. My delightful sisters in law provided the cheese and yule log. Delegating people. Delegating.

A couple of things got scratched (marked with an *) – 1) because I ran out of time, 2) because people were stuffed to the gills and couldn’t face another bite and 3) because my stove was obviously unaccustomed to such a heavy workload and threw a tantrum.

The Beef Wellington turned into a roast beef with Yorkshire puddings, as it proved to be impossible to find a beef fillet anywhere. I don’t think anyone was particularly disappointed!

It’s been ages, really, since I’ve done any amount of ‘fun’ cooking, and being so exhausted during the week has meant I have relied on my dwindling repertoire of recipes, and shamefully, even more so on justeat.co.uk. Dreadful. As a result, despite the limited time, I really enjoyed whipping up the feast.

I can’t wait until next year!

 

Beef Stew and Crunchy Onion Dumplings: Because I Can, That’s Why

Stew 1 Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Stew 2 Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Stew 3 Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaYep, you read that right.

I love stew because I totally adore stodgy food, and because I like feeling more full after having eaten than is probably healthy. Mr H had had one helluva week, and so to de-stress, the weekend before last he asked me for a special food-related favour: stew.

While he was out for a few hours, I seized my chance. I’m all for a bit of experimental food now and again, but this time I wanted the traditional – so straight to Delia it was. I’m not going to reprint the recipe here, because it’s already actually from the Sainsbury’s magazine! Only the best in this household. But you can find Delia’s Beef Stew with Crusted Onion Dumplings recipe here. The only criticism I have, and it’s a poor one at that, is that it’s a very pale stew – it’s not as hearty looking as stews that use tomatoes look. I like mine really dark and rustic, but that is purely visual preference. The flavour was divine.

Some Hot Tips

  • If you don’t have a hob/oven appropriate casserole dish (with a lid), a stainless steel saucepan will do. The glass is tempered, so the lid shouldn’t crack in the oven. Just please make sure the handle is stainless steel too!
  • 4.5 hours is ideal cooking time, but we couldn’t wait, so out it came after 3.5. It was still delicious, and still tender.
  • Cider definitely works in stew. Just sayin’.
  • Dumplings are the best, so dumpling haters get outtathaway.
  • NO TEATOWELS. USE AN OVEN GLOVE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
  • Portion off your leftovers straight away, and leave to cool, otherwise you will find yourself with no leftovers at all, and feeling ashamed of yourself. So very ashamed.

Sam 4 Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Gratuitous picture of myself in a pinny. Quite the Domestic Goddess, no?

If you love stew, hit me up in the comments – I’m always on the hunt for a good recipe or two!

Hello Again!

Hi guys! You may have noticed things look a little different around here, and you *may* have experienced some issues reading the blog in the last couple of days. That’s because I’ve made the jump over to self hosting this here blog, and really,  I have no idea what I’m doing! HA! That just means it takes twice as long as I think it will, because I spend most of the time frantically Googling ‘why isn’t this working????’.

I will be back to normal posting soon!

Here’s a photo for you:

I feel like it sums up the last two days quite well.

 

 

Planning 2015: Where is the Time Going?

OPERATION 2015

Behold! An image of no particular greatness, but which nevertheless sums up this stage in my life quite well. You see, this year is turning out to be quite the undertaking, encompassing a new job, house renovations (note the paint sample on the wall) and….what else…oh yeah I’m GETTING MARRIED. Did I mention that before?

I spent last year living with my Dad and away from my partner, but instead of regressing, I was determined to do a spot of growing up in 2014. As a result have totally overhauled the way I live my life. I’m aware that sounds terribly dramatic (I’m a drama teacher…sue me!) but I have changed a couple of fundamental things in my life, which means my life genuinely looks and feels different. I have a lovely home that I am so proud of, and a life that I am determined to make the most of. So I’m tidy now (shocked gasps) and I am genuinely, genuinely organised.

Or beginning to be. I’ve been on about 800 time management courses, and after all of them the one thing I have taken away is that keeping on top of things is a constant project. I’ve decided to make the most of what is left of this year, and begin Operation Smash 2015 In The Guts right now.

 

Colette Patterns: Wardrobe Architect

I’m currently planning for 2015 to be the year that I get back into sewing in a major way. Colette Patterns have recently restarted their Wardrobe Architect Series, where they present worksheets and discussions on finding your personal style and curating the wardrobe you feel most like yourself in. I have a feeling this is exactly what I’ve been looking for.

My relationship with my clothes can be generously described as love/hate. I love looking stylish, because it makes me feel great, but I hate that a bad outfit day can also send me off into a terrible mood. Most of my current clothes are from a couple of years ago when I was a little bit lighter, so don’t currently fit as well as I’d like, some are old faithfuls and some are ridiculous impulse purchases which look bloody horrible on. I’d like to have a wardrobe full of things I can just throw on, and not only look good but feel like myself in. There’s nothing worse than being out in the shops and catching a reflection that inspires a “what the hell was I thinking?” moment.

I’ve pulled together some photos of the outfits over the last few years that I felt amazing in. I’m going to use these to guide me through the Wardrobe Architect series, and hopefully by the end, I’ll have a better idea of what I want to create with some new clothes, but also what I’ve liked on my body before!

1. The Orpington Charity Shop Dress

 

Orpington Charity Shop Dress Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I adored this dress but I made a bit of a botch job on it. I bought it shortly after discovering the WONDER that is Orpington/Petts Wood Charity shops, shortly after moving to the UK. I realised that shopping in the more salubrious areas, shall we say, meant that there were often amazing bargains to be had. This dress had an exposed back with criss-crossing straps, and was about 20cm longer and two sizes bigger when I bought it. I painstakingly took it up by hand before I had my sewing machine and wore the dress to death.

2. The Bletchley Park Floral Extravaganza

Bletchley Park 40's Day Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Let’s be honest, this outfit rocks because of my hair. It was a bit windswept by this point but I wore this to the 40’s themed day at the former Codebreaking home of the UK. If you have seen The Imitation Game with Bucket Crunderdunder in it, this is where it’s set. This was about four years ago now, and I ended up wearing that dress to death. I always felt pretty and ladylike in it, and the shape was a little va-va-voom too, the sassiness of which can never be underestimated. That cashmere cardigan was another cheap and cheerful charity shop buy, which I ended up wearing until two not-very-chic holes appeared at my elbows. Definitely a possible make.

3. The Starry Tunic

Vero Moda Stars Dress Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I also wore this dress until if fell apart (a theme perhaps?). I love navy blue and I really like this shape on me. Now that I’m more comfortable wearing leggings I think a few more tunics could be the order of the day. Simple, lazy chic. That’s what we like, right? Also: hair looks fabulously shiny. I always feel better about my style when my hair is clean and shiny.

4. The Weekend Getaway Jacket

Petworth Jacket Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I love this photo of me, and it’s very evocative of a period in my life just before virtually everything changed. Plus I bloody loved that jacket, which, you guessed it, I wore until it got holes in it and fell apart. This outfit was pretty much a Sam uniform for me – long sleeved T-shirt, jeans and a 3/4 sleeve lightweight jacket. I like the look a lot, but could probably be a bit more pulled together by some awesome necklaces. PS, this was in West Sussex and we stayed at the Shepherd’s Return. 10/10 would recommend.

5. The New York Hair

New York Look Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

So I fell in love with Christina Hendricks in a big way back in the hey day of Mad Med, and bit the bullet and went redhead for about six months. I loved it, but financially the upkeep was a bit of a struggle, so in the end I reverted to brunette. But I also went through a phase of wearing my hair curly more often, and I adore the way this style looks in this photo. I’m also digging the bright lipstick and the holy-hell-I’m-excited grin on my face.

6. The Crochet Wonder Sleeves

60's Crochet Dress Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

This was my 24th birthday party and I’d found this dress in Oxfam a few months before. It’s awesome, right? I put this in here basically as a reminder that my body was pretty banging at one point in the not-so-distant past, but also that some key vintage pieces in a well rounded wardrobe is never a bad thing. I still have that dress!

7. The Gold Brocade Planking Dress

Gold Jacquard Dress Planking Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Don’t judge me. I’m not passed out, I am simply lying down on the hotel floor shaking with the giggles trying to make my colleagues laugh. We went away for some of our friends’ birthdays and we were getting ready and feeling tipsy. This photo makes me laugh, because I feel proud of the extent that I am willing to embarrass myself to get a laugh out of people. I’m not one to curate a careful selection of photos of myself to impress people. Well, not too much anyway. PLUS THAT DRESS. It’s the best. A great shape, a high but not too high rounded neckline, and proper sleeves, out of a to die for fabric. This is definitely something I could make!

~

It’s been fun to look at some of the shapes I’ve liked in the past, as well as fabrics that make me feel the feelings. I’m going to come back to this post throughout the year and add to my Wardrobe Architect Series and share with you my results! Stay tuned folks.