Saturday, 14 June 2014

Chorizo Sausage Rolls

I think I just invented the best snack ever!


6 (400g) Chorizo sausages (the types that are like regular sausages, not the 'dense' kind you get in tapas restaurants. I used these.)

325g puff pastry roll

Some sesame seeds

Small amount of milk

Enough butter or spread to grease a baking tray


1) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade

2) Grease a large baking tray

3) Remove the skins from the sausages and combine the sausage meat in a bowl.

4) Unroll the pastry and cut it in half length ways.

5) Distribute all of the sausage meat evenly, lengthways along the middle of the two pieces of pastry.

6) Fold the pastry over, brush lightly with milk and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top
7) Cut each of the rolls in half then half the halves to make 8 big sausage rolls. Halve them again to make 16 smaller ones

8) Put them on the greased baking tray, spacing them out to allow for them to double in size during cooking

9) Cook for 20 minutes or until golden brown

10) YUM

Monday, 12 November 2012


I know my blogs are usually quite calm and upbeat but my latest “thing I made” that I wanted to share with you was motivated by a deep and chronic resentment about something that, I’m led to believe, most ladies (and some men) see as a joyful necessity; having a hair cut. For many reasons the whole hairdressing thing makes me angry, I find it over the top and expensive. After talking to a friend earlier this year, I was inspired to start cutting my own hair. I have self-cut 3 times now and, although not confident enough to declare all hairdressers redundant, I reckon it’s something everyone should try. There is a great deal of money and awkwardness to be saved.

My thesis on hairdressing has been shaped over many years and has, with my recent discovery, been solidified into what I am about to share with you here.

“Hairdressing” is merely a pantomime staged to convince us that the attention and ‘expertise’ we receive is necessary, should cost £40+ (and tip) and take place every 6-8 weeks. As part of the whole charade, these bi-monthly ‘salon’ visits often include 2 or more of the following extraneous features:
  • Scalp massage.
  • Awkward small talk, often about holidays (yours or theirs)
  • Being offered a posh cup of coffee you can’t actually drink because it is always just out of reach and drinking it would require frequent interruptions of the hair-cutting process.
  • The hairdresser ignoring what you asked for and cutting the hair the way they think, or the only way they know how and giving some made-up reason to make them seem ‘expert’ (“No, you can’t have a shorter fringe, you have a cow’s lick.”)
  • Questions asked, in a disapproving tone, about who cut your hair last time (“You”)
  • 30-45 minutes spent blasting scalding levels of heat directly onto ones’ hair follicles until your new hair do has so much volume that it appears to be much like the one you had before, but is now inexplicably floating approximately 1 cm above your head.
  • Being charged £20 more than the price you paid last time you had it done, even though your cut is basically the same as the last time but, because it’s just a few inches shorter, it has somehow fallen into the category of a “restyle”.

Although the final point has only happened to me once, I had to put it in the list because it still shocks me now, 18 months later. TWENTY POUNDS?! It was the EXACT SAME CUT BUT SHORTER! There was no more labour involved in this haircut; she made all the same movements with her hands, probably the same number of times, but with her hands just a few inches higher. Not to mention the fact that the actual cutting, the bit that really matters, only took the same amount as it always does; about 15 minutes.

I was expressing my angry feelings to my friend Nic over a curry a few months ago (it’s a racket! A rip off! I don’t care about my hair enough to pay £40!). Not only did Nic agree but she divulged that she often cuts her own hair. It was like an epiphany “I want to cut my own hair!” I thought. I hate small talk, I hate my scalp being scalded by a hairdryer, I hate my ‘do appearing to levitate above my head and I hate being ripped off! None of these things needed to happen if I cut my own hair.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that here begins a tale of disaster and woe (see how well those hairdressers have indoctrinated us?!) but it has turned out better than I could have expected. I ordered a pair of haircutting and hair thinning scissors for a fiver from ebay and set about researching ‘self-haircuts’ online. It turns out that if you, like me, have a fairly standard mid-length hairstyle with a sweeping fringe and layers there’s a lot of YouTube videos out there to help us maintain the cut, once it has actually been cut into that style. I won’t bother recreating what you can find elsewhere but I will give a brief overview of the method I use.

Step 1) Wash and comb hair into place. Divide hair up into sections based on length – I divide mine into 10-12 sections 4 on each side and 4 on the back  (two up to down, separating the top and bottom layers) – plus the fringe.

Step 2) Undo one of the sections and comb the hair straight, clasp the hair between your fingers and pull it into a position where the ends just about line up. Cut the hair in small diagonal upward snips. Tie the section of hair back up and move around to the next section. Repeat until you’ve cut all of the sections.

Step 3) Use the thinning scissors on one section at a time, I snip gently in three places along the length of the strands.

Here's a pic of my DIY haircut, I reckon it looks about as good as any haircut I’ve paid for J

P.S. I just wanted to say that I know there are really good hairdressers out there who do offer value for money. When I lived in Brighton I would always get my haircut at Goose, no washing (just spritzed with water), no small talk, great cut (exactly what you asked for) all for just £20 (2010 price)

Monday, 15 October 2012

Double Quilt! (What does it meeeeean?)

It's been ages since my last post and that's partly because I am a massive procrastinator and partly because I spent months working on a double quilt to give to my friends as a wedding present. Whilst working on this quilt I worked my way through the entire six series of Lost and beyond- that is how long it took! I didn't even manage to finish it in time for the wedding, but that was OK because I was able to meet up with the happy couple upon their return from honeymoon at Blenheim Palace, have a champagne afternoon tea and give them their quilt in person, which was much more fun.

I think they were really pleased with it!

P.S. the ending of Lost is one of the most disappointing televisual events since The Simpsons went bad, don't bother wasting your life on it!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Totoro Cushions

If you don’t love Totoro, it’s either because you don’t know him or because you are a dementor. If you don’t know him, Totoro is the eponymous neighbour of “My Neighbour Totoro” an 80s animated film of loveliness by Studio Ghibli (makers of Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving  Castle). Despite his inexplicable appearance, massive teeth and penchant for speaking only in earth-rumbling roars, Totoro is a kindly creature who befriends little Mei and her sister Satsuki at a difficult time when their mother is sick in a faraway hospital.

I am not a dementor, so I love Totoro. The first time I saw the film, I was with my good friend Pete. Prior to watching, we were angrily ranting about something (as we often are) but the film's pacifying effect diffused all rage and left us in a state that can only be described as 'Totorific'.

My love for Totoro has not diminished since that day and he has even aided me in my quest for love. I knew I was onto a winner the first time I went to my boyfriend’s flat and saw that he had a picture of the rotund, grey, roar-meister displayed on his wall, almost like an official seal of approval from Totoro himself. I have since bonded with others over a love of Totoro, introducing the film to my friends Louise and Juliet (Louliet), over sushi. Nat is another fan whose baby daughter received an awesome Totoro rattle after our trip to Japan. So I knew that Totoro on a cushion would go down a treat as gifts for Louliet and Nat.

Totoro was made by tracing his picture (found on google images) onto fusible web iron-on applique paper, ironing the paper onto different coloured felt and cutting out felt shapes to make up his body.  The beige cushion is from Argos. The green gingham cushion was made up of padding (again from Argos) and a cover created myself by following the instructions on this helpful youtube video.

Ironing the pieces of Totoro’s body into place I then hand stitched around them. I probably should have used a blanket stitch, but I didn’t.  I made tiny stitches in white to create the glint in his eye. The hand stitching was pretty time-consuming but fun and I think the recipients of the Totoro cushions were pleased!

If you are a dementor and/or you do not want to adorn a cushion with Totoro, there are plenty other things that would look great on a cushion; musicians, cartoon characters, budgies or perhaps a gaggle of dementors would look right at home on your sofa?

Friday, 13 April 2012


When I was a kid and still slept in a bunkbed, my family had a pet budgie called 'Brolly'. We didn't have him for long, as I recall. He died possibly after just a few months (hard to say as children have little concept of time!). His name was a lame pun on the common practice of referring to pet birds as 'Polly'. We must have found it funny because we had subsequent birds named Ollie (a budgie who, again, did not last long) and Folly (a cockatiel who flew away one fateful morning).

Even though Brolly didn't last long, and we had other pets that did (several dogs, 2 guinea pigs and about 5 hamsters), my older brother took to documenting the cartoon adventures of Brolly the budgie. Many years have passed since then but my brother still insists on drawing a picture of the cartoon budgie in every card he ever sends (see picture showing illustration in recent birthday card).

Earlier this year I decided to make cushions for my brother and his fiance a housewarming gift. I wanted to take the opportunity to try out appliqué for the first time. I asked my brother several times what he would like me to appliqué on his custom-made cushions. He replied with such dickish suggestions as "an ocelot", "a pencil sharpener" and "a protractor". Budgie-theme it is then, I concluded.

So here it is, just a tad classier than the cartoon Brolly:

Friday, 30 March 2012

Boudhanath stupa

I really want to blog and post pictures to show what I've been working on recently. However, I plan to give this 'something' as a gift so cannot release its image into the public domain, owing to the very small chance that the recipients, or anyone for that matter, look at this blog!

So, here's something from my archive to curb my blog-craving. It's a picture of Buddhist stupa on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal. I visited Boudhnath stupa in October 2008 and drew this picture last year from a photo, using pastels. I should probably make it clear that the stupa does not hold a deep, mystical and/or spiritual significance for me (sorry Buddhists). The visit was pretty cursory and probably a bit of a tick-box moment on the itinerary. I think I just chose the picture because I was told to pick something for an art class I was taking and I thought this would be quite easy with all the white going on, it turned out it wasn't. It took me ages and I still wouldn't call it finished!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A Tanzanian Adventure

A film of our Christmas family holiday to Tanzania. I compiled the best of our snaps and videos in editing software then threw a bunch of special effects, sound, zooms and speech bubbles at it, in the hope of giving a flavour of our holiday without taking up too much of your precious time :D