There’s a massive cross-over, I know, between fabric obsessives and stationery obsessives… Pretty notebooks, washi tape, cute paperclips, fun stickers and most of all, fabulous pens, so I know a lot of you lovely readers out there will be fans of uni-ball pens. Personally I absolutely love my Posca pens – they’re great for writing and drawing on fabric, and such fun for other projects too.
Have you heard about the Painted Rocks phenomenon? People decorate rocks then leave them for other people to find – then exchange sightings on Facebook groups like this one in the UK. I decorated these pebbles with Posca pens for my garden a couple of years back, but I’m definitely planning to make some more and use them to join in with the giant hide and seek game.
If you’re always after some new pens for your collection, you’ll definitely want to take part in the uni-ball Snow Globe competition:
You just need to shake the snow globe to be in with a chance of winning, plus each time you shake, you will get another entry into a sweepstake draw to win a huge £300 Amazon voucher.
And if you’re not lucky in the competition, I have 3 packs of uni-ball Designer Eye pens to give away!
These are really nice pens – I am already a big fan. They seem to encourage neat handwriting somehow, they are such a pleasure to write with, and there’s a good range of colours too so they are great for bullet journalling, for designing and for keeping sewing project notes.
To be in with a chance of winning just leave a comment on this blog post before 6pm on Monday 18th December. I’m very happy for you to just type ‘pick me’, or alternatively you could let me know what you’d use your pens for if you win. UK-based entrants only please (sorry to overseas readers). Good luck!
Disclosure: uni-ball very kindly sent me some pens in return for promoting their competition and giveaway.
My Listens of the Week have so far have been quite cerebral in their tone, so before you get the wrong idea about me… this week I want to recommend something a bit different for your Podcast time.
I always describe Dear Sugars as a sort of extended Agony Aunt (and Uncle) column (which I think was how it started originally, in the New York Times). It pitches itself as a podcast for ‘the lost, lonely and heartsick’, but you don’t have to be any of those really – you just need to enjoy listening to the thoughtful, well-considered responses to listeners’ dilemmas about love, friendships, relationships and life in general.
The topics are really diverse – recently they have covered the impact of early bereavement, the ending of friendships, sexless marriage, body weight and romance, and owning pets…!
One of the things I really enjoy about the show is the dynamic between the two presenters, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond. They don’t always agree, and they aren’t at all predictable in their responses, which always makes it an interesting listen. They also have special guests who often have some insight into the problem being discussed. I absolutely love this episode -“My Best Friend’s Wedding” which has the novelist Ann Patchett as a guest. More recently they have had Oprah Winfrey on the show, and Hillary Clinton too in an episode intriguingly titled “The Double Bind of Female Ambition” (I haven’t listened to that one yet, I’m saving it for over Christmas).
As well as being intriguing and entertaining, I also really appreciate the opportunity to challenge some of my rather middle-aged values and and preconceived ideas about relationships and friendship. I don’t always change my mind, but I really value the opportunity to reflect on it all whilst I’m working away at my sewing machine.
If you have a listen, do let me know how you like it.
At this time of year, it’s so useful to have some recipes for quick sweet treats that you can turn to, when needed, for a unexpected get-together, surprise guests, a bring and share party, or a quick foodie gift. These blondies, which if you don’t know, are a kind of non-dark-chocolate-brownie, with all the deliciously fudgy sweetness that that implies, exactly fit the bill. They take about 10 minutes to stir up, are out of the oven in 25 mins, max (20 in my fan oven), and are pretty much foolproof.
I am not going to apologise for the fact that these are super super sweet – my solution to this is to cut them into very small pieces – no more than a couple of inches square, or you could even cut them to petit fours size. Of course, then you have to really work on the temptation to scoff more than one…! Feel free to play around with the additions – next time round I am going to try dark chocolate pieces and chopped apricot – and there’s definitely potential for chopped roast hazelnuts and sour cherries…
A word about crystallised ginger – a few years ago I discovered Crazy Jack’s crystallised ginger – which I fell in love with because it was so much more spicy, gingery and seemed to bear much more relation to actual ginger than other available versions. Sadly, Crazy Jack stopped doing this wonderful stuff and I have been searching for something similar ever since. Finally I have found it – Whitworths Fiery Crystallised Ginger is absolutely brilliant – spicy and quite definitely fiery, and here it makes a brilliant contrast with the soft creamy flavour of the white chocolate, so if you can get hold of it (and most supermarkets seem to stock it here in the UK) then do give it a try.
Ginger and white chocolate blondies
- 100g butter
- 200g soft light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 100g plain white flour
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp milk
- 40g crystallised ginger, chopped into small pieces
- 50g white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- Preheat oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4 (170/Gas Mark 3 for a fan oven) and line a 8 inch (20cm) square baking tray (or equivalent-ish – I have used a 7 inch tin with no problems) with baking parchment.
- Melt the butter over a low heat in a large pan.
- Remove the butter from the heat and add the sugar straight to the pan. Beat the sugar into the butter for about a minute, the texture of the mixture will change a bit and stick more to the sides of the pan as you beat it – that’s what you are aiming for.
- Beat in the egg until the mixture is nice and smooth.
- Stir the flour and ground ginger into the mix, quite gently, until everything is thoroughly combined.
- Stir in the milk and then the ginger and chocolate pieces.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes in the first instance. The blondies need to be just barely set when you take them out of the oven and it’s always best to err on the squidgy side (they will firm up as they cool), but you can add an extra couple of minutes if you need to.
- Leave to cool for 10 minutes or so in the tin, then transfer to a cooling rack. Cut into slices when cool.
These blondies keep for 3 or 4 days in an air-tight tin, or they freeze very well too. I freeze them between layers of greaseproof paper in a plastic box, which means you can sneak one out and quickly defrost it when you are in need of a boost (don’t tell anyone…).