Wednesday, April 30, 2014

When is a crisp not a crisp?

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do
Benjamin Franklin

I fear I have just joined the ranks of the foolish and penned the following letter.....

Consumer Services Department
Walkers Snack Food Ltd.

PO Box 23

30 April 2014

Dear Sir/Madam,

Firstly, on the whole, I’m one of those consumers who never complain about anything, I think the phrase is “grin and bear it”. However in this instance I must put fingers to keyboard and write this letter.
Due to my husband’s cholesterol levels,  he has been put on a diet – sadly this has meant an end to pies and pastries, and almost resulted in a complete ban on crisps. I can tell you that ours was not a happy household at that point. However, upon further research, I relaxed my hard-line stance and treated the poor man to a multipack of “Walkers Baked Stars Salt & Vinegar Flavour” from Tesco.
Whilst the packaging of this particular variety of Walkers snacks looks as though it is aimed for the younger market, I can assure you they are hugely popular with slightly overweight, slightly high cholesterol suffering men of a certain age.
Sadly, peace did not last for long as, imagine the horror if you can, of reaching into a multipack of crisps and grabbing a packet of lower fat potato heaven, only to find the packet open and the crisps scattered in the bottom of the multipack bag! Not only that, the aforementioned poor man tasted said crisps to see if the packet had just opened as he touched it – this proved even more distressing as they were (apparently) decidedly “soft” as opposed to “crisp”.
I am sure you will agree that this is not the standard which we expect from Walkers and I fear my life will be even more miserable than that of the slightly overweight, slightly high cholesterol suffering man I live with if I don’t let you know how truly disappointed he (and therefore I) am.

I have included the offending packet for stringent testing.

Sincerely yours,

Claire Easson

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Now then, what do we have here?

Evening folks! Cardmaking has been pretty much been on the back burner for the last year, but I'm trying very hard to get back into the swing of things and Easter is as good an excuse as any for card giving so tonight I made two. Right at the last minute as usual but as these will be hand delivered it's fine :)

I managed to find a couple of challenges to enter as well which is always a bonus - but honestly I thought I would find more Easter themed challenges, or is that just too obvious?

Anyway onto one of my cards - I found this handsome chap on Dulemba Coloring Pages, and coloured him in with my Promarkers, and just added a touch of sparkle to the egg with a Spica pen.

Challenges to enter are:

I will also endeavour to craft and blog a bit more, but only once all the Easter eggs have been eaten. Gotta get my priorities in order you know......

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Rather odd (but yummy) chocolate brownies.....

I don't claim to be the World's Best Baker, but I much prefer to make my own cakes and cookies - store bought ones always look amazing but they seldom taste as good. Using the Power of Google I found this recipe last night, and it's by a lady who's recipes I've used before, but this one made me go out and buy the book (not literally, I went onto Amazon and ordered it...)

They are very quick and easy to make, however I think next time I make them, and believe me, there definitely will be a next time, I'll use a little less cocoa powder and possibly make them as cupcakes instead of in a brownie tin.

Here they are in all their glory:

This is the recipe as I made them:

Ingredients (makes 12)

85g Dark Chocolate (I used 74% cocoa solids)
85g Plain Flour
25g Cocoa Powder (maybe tweak to 20g - they are very very chocolately)
1/4 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
150g Light Soft Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Espresso Powder
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2tbsp semi skimmed milk with a dash of lemon juice
1 egg
100g Light Mayonnaise (I know!!!!!!!)


  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water (or in the microwave if you can do this without totally destroying the chocolate, which is what I do each and every time I've tried it), then leave to cool slightly. 
  2. Meanwhile measure out the flour, cocoa and bicarb into another bowl and set aside.
  3. Grab your melted chocolate bowl and add to it the sugar, coffee, vanilla extract and milk mixture and stir together with a tablespoon of warm water. Then add the egg (I didn't bother beating it first) and the mayonnaise and stir until smooth and glossy. 
  4. Sift in the flour/cocoa/soda mix and fold in gently without over-mixing.
  5. Scrape into a prepared baking tin - I originally used the size she specified (19cm square) but there wasn't really enough mixture to spread into the corners. I panicked at this point.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/fan, 160C/Gas 4 for 30 minutes - although I found that about 22 minutes was more than enough for my gas oven.
As I said, I thought there wasn't enough mixture to fill the brownie tin but actually the mix does rise a lot during baking and makes 12 decent sized pieces. Mine worked out at 160 calories per portion (that's 1 brownie btw....)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Older and wiser?

I can honestly say, I have no idea where time goes, but then unless you happen to be Sheldon Cooper I guess we can all say that.
So where have I been for the last year? Well, right here actually. For some reason I thought Blogger had ceased to exist, and never thought to check. Go me.
Life in the Easson household is the same but my angle on things has changed slightly - about the time I stopped blogging several things were happening - the Secret Pals swap I'd been a big part of for over two years was over and I suddenly didn't seem to have much of a reason to craft anymore. I'd also bought myself an e-reader, fondly named Obi, which resulted in most of the hours I would have spent crafting, in either reading or searching for free reading downloads. However the biggest thing that happened was the impending horror of my 39th birthday. I woke up after Christmas 2012 with the realisation that in one short year (and a bit, my birthday is in February) I would hit the big 4-0, and I needed to get fitter and healthier. Kind of stereotypical post Christmas feeling. I am fairly predictable you know.
Anyway, I swiftly went onto Amazon (told you I was predictable) and bought myself a Zumba workout for the Wii. Obviously I didn't pay extra for quicker postage - I was having a mid life crisis, not a personality transplant. So from January to May I threw myself into the Zumba workout with reckless abandon, sticking with an almost daily workout - it is actually amazing fun. My knees weren't quite so impressed, after never having any kind of joint pain in my life I now had constantly painful knees.
Life after Zumba does go on, and although sore, my knees didn't stop me from wanting to keep up with exercising, I finally worked out that maybe high impact stuff wasn't the way forward for me, and actually if I just walked a bit more that would help. So armed with new insoles I took small odd man on daily walks, with me walking and him riding his bike. The knees gradually improved and a long hot summer ensued. Oh and I also changed jobs.
Six months of exercise and not a pound lighter, I decided to investigate reasons why this should be. I will confess I am a bit of a geek, I did sciences at University and I always want to know "Why?", so then I turned my attention to food. I always thought we had a healthy diet, I cooked a lot, didn't fry anything and takeaways were an occassional treat not a regular occurence, and ok I love ice cream and cake but everything in moderation, right? Well yes, everything is ok in moderation, but perhaps the definition of "moderation" needs tweaking.
As a tech junkie, I turned to Google for answers, but being supremely reluctant to spend any money or give up chocolate and ice cream, I knew that most of the nutrition and diet stuff online is far too extreme and expensive to actually do in real life, so I downloaded a calorie counter app (free of course) onto my phone.
I can honestly say, that at that point I had no real interest in losing weight, at 158lbs I was a UK size 12/US size 8, and had been for years, I just wanted to know how much I was eating and decided to stick to a calorie count of 2000 per day, which is the UK standard dietary advice for women. After the first couple of days I was slightly horrified, I was eating a good couple of hundred calories over that figure everyday and it was generally on the stupidest things - the leftovers on small odd mans plate, don't want to throw them away! The handful of raisins from the food cupboard, the spoonful of hot chocolate in my coffee (4 times a day), the list goes on. . . .
So I tweaked a little here, and a little there and really, if I wanted ice cream I had it, and I counted it and I tweaked a little more to compensate, and suddenly my clothes didn't fit. By October I'd lost 15lbs without really noticing, I walked a mile or two a day, I kept a food diary on my app religiously, and none of it was hard or stressful or expensive and I had dropped to a dress size I had never even been before.
I cooked a little differently, and googled recipes constantly but the family hadn't really noticed a change in their food (or in me, but that's only to be expected with three odd men).
Winter rolled in and I must confess I did get a little twitchy at the thought of not being able to go out for my daily walk if the weather was bad, but we got lucky here and although it's rained a lot, it's been fairly mild, no snow at all. Christmas came and went, with trifle, roast potatoes and hunks of chocolate, all of which got put on the app, and another 11lbs disappeared.
The big 4-0 did appear, and was something of an anticlimax. It was just another day after all. The previous 380 odd days were far more important than that one day in my life. I've learned an awful lot about me, about food, about body image and about the way I look at life in general. I'm still the same person as I was 26lbs ago, losing weight doesn't change your life or make you a better person. Clothes don't magically suit you just because you're thinner, but food does actually taste better when you appreciate every mouthful.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Take Time for Cake

Now that the excesses of Christmas are well out of the way, it's time for a whole load of birthdays to bombard me - for some reason almost all of our family and friends have their birthdays in the first six months of the year. This does mean Christmas is easier to plan and pay for, but I never seem to stop making birthday cards for six months!
The first one due is my friend Rachel, and as she's just started her own slimming club, what could be more appropriate for her card than the biggest cake in the world. Not that I'm not supportive of her efforts, of course I am .....
The image is one of the marvelous Mo's I'm so fond of, and she's been coloured with Promarkers and a couple of my new Spectrum Noir pens (I've always struggled with pink Promarkers - could never get them to blend nicely).
A couple of challenges this week - Make it Monday #122 - always anything goes and Anything Goes Challenge Blog - #83 good friends, I think I'll also sneak it into the DP2 challenge - #168 something new well they were new Spectrum Noir pens.....

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Conveyor Belt Crafting

Is it just me, or is Christmas almost upon us? Last time I checked it was September - where have I been and what have I been doing? Not making Christmas cards, that's for sure! I recall last year, I was patting myself on the back by the first week in November for having all my cards made and ready to be written. Let's just say, I'm not quite so organised this year - although I have finished my Christmas shopping, go me!

Anyway, I sat down last night and decided I needed to be able to make some cards quickly and easily, which still look pretty good. Here's what I came up with:

My lovely friend, Althea, sent me the rubber stamp a couple of weeks ago, so I've no idea who it's made by. It does stamp really nicely though. I've applied the inks with a makeup sponge (as you can probably tell.....) and added a bit of shadow to the buildings with a brown sharpie. The sand is made up of Brushed Corduroy and Wild Honey Distress Inks, and the sky made with Denim and Purple Twilight Adirondack Inks. The panel is then just mounted on some blue card and stuck willy-nilly on a white card blank. The best bit of all, I managed to make four in half and hour.....

Challenges for today:

Try it on Tuesday - Inky
Make it Monday #118 - Anything Goes

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Back from the wilderness....

.......The Blogging wilderness that is! Well, in theory anyway. This could be another once in a blue moon post, but maybe I'll surprise myself and be a dedicated Blogger again.

Anyway, my card making has been in the doldrums for the last few months (along with my Blogging!) and I've only really managed to make a handful of cards lately. Today's "treat" is an Anniversary card I made for a long married couple, who it's fair to be said, are getting on a bit. Although not quite as "on" as the couple on the front of the card! I just love the image (from Just Inklined) and I must confess I used the same image on their anniversary card last year as well! It's the only time I get to use the darn thing.....

I've coloured it in with my trusty Promarkers, and as it costs an arm and a leg to send anything remotely layered and frou-froued by airmail, it's just been mounted simply on card and contrasting BP.

Challenges for today:

One Stitch at a Time #142 - Anything Goes

See you again soon! Maybe.....