Friday 29 September 2017

Post-Work Drinks at Spuntino

Spuntino is the sort of little place you only go to if someone takes you there.  It's also the sort of place that you take other people to and then pretend you found it all by yourself.  Tucked away behind an unassuming shop front in Soho, Spuntino is a relative of Italian small-plate purveyor Polpo.  It's a small venue with most of its twenty-something seats perched around the bar giving it quite a cosy atmosphere.  Coupled with the fact the you can't book, it also means you need to show up early to grab a place at the table.

If you're fortunate enough to be able to skip out of work early on the odd occasion (bye-bye marking!) and be in central London for half four or five o'clock, you'll be able to casually saunter in Spuntino, claim your seat at the bar, and order yourself a well deserved drink. And I highly recommend that you get one of their cocktails as the menu changes regularly, the ingredients are imaginative and the results are particularly delicious and refreshing.

So maybe order two cocktails.

After which you'll need to eat something.

Fortunately, the food is fab. First of all, there's popcorn to eat while you wait for your food (always a winner in my book) and then a whole host of little dishes that you can order up and share.  I find sharing challenging but I am definitely very on board with the concept of ordering multiple dishes.  You'll find mini pizzas, a range of little sliders, truffle toast with baked eggs and so on.  But my favourites were the shoestring fries and the mac and cheese.

This is a little surprising for me as I would firmly place myself in the fat-chips-all-the-way school of thought and scoffing.  But these beauteous shoestring lovelies worked like a charm for me.  And I want more.

It's not surprising, however, that I liked the macaroni cheese as it's basically my favourite food. Spuntino's was good: toasty hot, baked with a lovely breadcrumb topping and with a good helping of gooey stringiness. Which might not sound like a compliment to many dishes, but is to this one. The mac and cheese comes in two sizes: single or sharing. Or as I prefer to think of it: wimps and Kirsty-sized.

I've been to Spuntino a handful of times and thoroughly enjoyed it each time; I think it fits very well into the early evening slot for a drink and a bite. Or six. Especially if I don't have to share the mac and cheese.

Kisses xxx

P.S. So many restaurants, so little time.  I love London!

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Skygarden Pocket Page

Last week, I shared a scrapbook page using autumn shades and florals - you can find it here - but I had a lot more pictures from the occasion and more journalling I wanted to include.  So today's post is all about the pocket page I made to go with it!

Making a matching pocket page is a technique I've been going to a lot over the last year or so.  I like the opportunity to include a fuller version of the story in my album, and I like to be able to display my photos in a slightly less embellished way sometimes.  Additionally, as a die-hard one-photo-per-page scrapbooker, making an extra supporting layout means that I don't feel the need to try and fit more pictures onto my 12x12 pages. I don't know why I can't seem to make that work for me, but I just can't! It doesn't fit with how I scrapbook!

When putting together my pocket page, I pulled little scraps of patterned paper and colours that toned with the original 12x12 layout. Using leftover offcuts really helps with this as I was literally able to use the same papers and coordinate the two halves of the layout effectively.

I wanted to include the look of a papercut in my pocket page to link back the main design, and so I sketched out a leafy image and cut it out of kraft cardstock using my craft knife. The leaf effect tied tied into the 12x12 design, as did the colour of the kraft, and I embellished with a few pearl-topped butterflied.

I put the papercut in an empty pocket to let the design show on both sides of the page.  When attaching my punched butterflies, I added them in the same places on the front and on the back so that the papercut would be completely reversible.  It was also a good place to add the date and the location.

The pocket page is double sided and I carried the same motifs into the reverse side. For instance, I embellished both sides of my journaling card with green florals, and used the same pinked circle and postage stamp punches to add labels and embellishment to photos.

As the back of the pocket page won't be next to the 12x12 layout, I created an additional title, cut out of white cardstock to match. I used a photo as a guide for the size, and hand-wrote the word Skygarden to show where we were.  Once I was happy with the design, I used my craft knife to cut it out of the white cardstock and placed it over an area of a photo I didn't mind obscuring.

To finish off the pocket page, I made sure some of the same little details appeared within the pockets as are present in the 12x12 page.  Little woodgrain hearts are tucked into the photos here and there, the butterflies are a clear link, and even the journaling card, handwritten in black pen on a white background, maintains continuity.

And that's my pocket page!  Definitely feeling more and more inspired to get lots of photos into my scrapbook album.

Kisses xxx

P.S. This is another page I put together at the Blogger's Weekend away, a lovely weekend of pure scrapbooking (and cake) time. Definitely need to make some time to have a day like that every so often!

Friday 22 September 2017

Scrapbooking with Autumn Florals

Last year for a bit of a treat, I took Mum and Dad for brunch at Skygarden. Skygarden sort of does what it says on the tin: it's a garden in the sky.  Or more specifically, a garden inside the top of a skyscraper, with several restaurants chucked in for good measure so you can dine with the ultimate view.  And with a three course brunch complete with glass of fizz, we were pretty much guaranteed to have a lovely time.

I had lots of photos to scrapbook from this experience: loads of the views and the plants in the garden, and so I decided to select one photo for a 12x12 page and include the rest in a divided page protector. I wanted to a picture involving my parents to be the main focus, but I looked at the whole range of photos when choosing supplies for this page.  I opted for greens and browns to match the city views and greenery, but also pulled out some paper in warmer, autumnal tones.

For my title, I designed the words inside a frame and cut them out with a craft knife.  I like the look of a white title on a white background, but the frame design also gave me the opportunity to showcase a lovely patterned floral paper behind it. The white border also provided a nice design link to the photo.

I added layers of patterned paper around the central block of title and photo. I also framed the design with the first bit of journaling (the rest of the story going into the divided page protector). To create the layers, I used punches - the tab being a favourite - and fussy cut flowers from patterned paper.  I also drew out and cut some little leaf designs, putting my craft knife to good use and creating another layer of detail; cutting out the centres of the leaves allowed more of the other layers to show through.

I finished off the page with a few details: ink splatters to go with the journalling, punched butterflies topped with little pearls and or course a camera here and there. I'm pretty pleased with the final page and I'll aim to share the matching pocket page soon!

Kisses xxx

P.S. I made this page on the fabulous Bloggers' Weekend where I had the most brilliant time: it felt like such a luxury to truly relax and think only about scrapbooking, nattering to fellow crafters and, of course, eating!

Monday 18 September 2017

Goals for the New School Year

It's a new school year, and my goodness it's started with a vengeance! The new academic year always bring new challenges and it can seem tough to get back into the swing of a hectic school day after the summer.  But it's also nice to get to know new classes, talk about maths all day again and share cake with colleagues, in amongst getting UCAS forms ready and preparing students for their university applications.

I  enjoy looking forward to new things in the coming year, and so I thought it was a good time to review my list of ambitions.  As always, it's little bit longer than it was before, now up to 120 life goals. But I'm also working on them gradually, and thoroughly enjoying doing so.  For instance, there's always a ready-made excuse to go and have afternoon tea, and just this last week, I have booked to go and learn to scuba dive, which will help me fulfil another longstanding wish. I'm looking at you, number #58.

Looking at this list now, it's also lovely to reflect on how many brilliant experiences I have had over the past few years, and I think the list has helped by making those goals seem tangible. Seeing them written down helps to give each goal a focus. And there are plenty that I have repeated, having found the experience worthwhile. I've played Dungeons and Dragons a couple of times, dined at Hakkasan twice, done escape rooms plural, become a devotee of knitting from charts, and even been skinny dipping more than once! While some experiences are harder to repeat - much as I would like to, it's quite a commitment to pop to New Zealand - there are plenty I plan to duplicate. A European Christmas market is a winner every time.

Anyway, so far I have completed 94 goals on the list leaving me with 26 still to do. Here's the current list, linked up where I can, highlighted items completed.

#1 Make cake pops
#2 Make a multicoloured layer cake
#3 Go on a canal boat
#4 Play Dungeons and Dragons
#5 Play hooky for a day
#6 Have an all-night film marathon
#7 Go on a sleeper train
#8 Have tea at the Ritz
#9 And Claridges
#10 See 2 London Shows in a day
#11 Make a photo wall display
#12 Build a den.  A really cool one.
#13 Road trip in the USA
#14 New York, New York
#15 Go glamping in a fancy tent with fairy lights
#16 Buy an expensive set of lingerie
#17 Sew something to wear
#18 Get married
#19 Make a set of jam-jar cocktail glasses
#20 Make blueberry gin
#21 Do the take-away double
#22 Redesign this blog
#23 Go skinny dipping
#24 Milk a cow
#25 Learn to make pasta
#26 Get up early to photograph the sunrise 
#27 Ride a motorbike
#28 Have dim sum at Hakkasan
#29 Do an Escape Room
#30 Learn Calligraphy

#31 Have dinner at Dans le Noir
#32 Re-purpose something second-hand
#33 Go to a cult Rocky Horror screening
#34 Go to a burlesque show
#35 Go ape
#36 Go to a Secret Cinema screening
#37 See a play at Cornwall's Minack Theatre
#38 Go on a helicopter
#39 Make my own ice cream#40 Have dinner at Dishoom
#41 Take part in a Murder Mystery Treasure Hunt
#42 Buy a bikini
#43 Have afternoon tea at Cutter and Squidge
#44 Get my eyebrows shaped
#45 Inhale helium
#46 See the Northern Lights
#47 Go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
#48 See New Zealand
#49 Stay in a tree house
#50 Have a bash at karaoke
#51 Run a Ranger unit
#52 Travel to South America
#53 Start a family
#54 See a film at a drive-in cinema
#55 Go to a sh*t-faced Shakespeare production
#56 Make a new giant floor cushion
#57 Try making papercuts with a craft knife
#58 Learn to Scuba Dive
#59 Have a go at spinning
#60 Go for Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea
#61 Go to the circus
#62 Learn to knit from a chart
#63 Knit a lace pattern
#64 Start a teacup collection
#65 Go on a Segway
#66 Visit Japan
#67 See a midnight matinee at the Globe
#68 Go on a safari
#69 Visit the Cutty Sark
#70 Go to a Casino
#71 Go stargazing
#72 Eat a deep-fried Mars bar
#73 Have dinner at Veeraswamy
#74 Dance on a table in a bar
#75 Ride a camel
#76 Have cocktails at BYOC
#77 Play Dinosaur Safari Adventure Golf
#78 See a baseball match
#79 Go to Bounce Below
#80 Visit the Rough Trade Photobooth
#81 Swim in an infinity pool
#82 Ride a tandem
#83 Cook a roast
#84 Make something out of leather
#85 Get my International License with Girlguiding
#86 Bake a Christmas cake
#87 Dine in a Michelin star restaurant
#88 Do the Lyke Wake Walk
#89 Design a Lace Shawl
#90 Visit a Guiding World Centre outside the UK
#91 Sit in a box at the theatre
#92 Go to Africa
#93 Spend a day at Lyme Park
#94 Try white water rafting
#95 Make Danish pastries
#96 Fly first class on a plane in lying-down beds
#97 Learn Brush Script
#98 Visit Beachy Head
#99 Have a Christmassy afternoon tea
#100 Visit Las Vegas
#101 Skydive
#102 Make choux pastry
#103 Have afternoon tea at the Landmark
#104 Sleep in a 4-Poster bed
#105 Go to a European Christmas Market
#106 Bake a Kanellengd
#107 Visit Scandinavia
#108 Go to Versailles
#109 Have a fire pit
#110 Visit Pompeii
#111 Go to a trampoline park
#112 Have afternoon tea at the Dorchester
#113 Sleep under the stars
#114 Go Interrailing
#115 Visit the Hampton Court Palace Maze
#116 Do the Lost City Hike
#117 See the Galapagos Islands
#118 Find dragons on Komodo
#119 Walk an alpaca
#120 Go for Bottomless Brunch

Kisses xxx

P.S. Actually, there are so many countries I would like to travel to that I feel like I could add another 50 dreams to the list without even thinking about it. Let's just say I love to travel.