Friday, 29 July 2011

Doggy Delights...

Angus has changed so much since we got him at 8 weeks old... not only is he a totally different colour, and size (of course!), we have watched his lovely little personality grown and change, too. He's beginning to be a grumpy teenager on occasion these days and loves to challenge us on every little thing if he wakes up on the wrong side of bed... but you can never stay cross at him for long (if even for seconds) - he is just too cute, and, pretty much an angel for us overall...always quick with a kiss and some snuggles.

He will be ONE in October... so, when my mum sent me the link today to
The Stylish Dog Company - I pretty much knew exactly where I will be going to get him some pressies... here are some of the things that caught my eye!

I love the hand-thrown ceramics (the tapered bowl for pooches with long ears is genius!), he will certainly need a nice woolly jumper if we have another winter as cold as last, perhaps even a new bed to snuggle in to (though we might make him an a*r one, as he loves our fabric so much!), and possibly a new life-long lead, too?

So much choice! One of the best online pup shops I have come across! Check them out and pamper your pup today... :)

Abigail @ abigail*ryan

All images courtesy of The Stylish Dog Company...

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

A different point of view...

A few nights ago, Abigail and I were having fun playing around with different shapes cut from our fabric to come up with new and exciting patterns for our (soon to be launched!) Patchwork cushions.

It was great, but we only had time to sew up a few before we had to dismantle the kitchen to have our new floor laid, so we quickly snapped some pics of our favourites to make sure we could replicate them. On taking the photos a strange thing happened...this block, which we both saw as a star as it lay on the table, suddenly became a very definite cross! It seemed so strange, and so interesting, that changing how we viewed the block, completely changed how we saw it... Have you ever had any experiences like this? We'd love to hear about them :)

The funny thing is we like it even better as a cross and it's been very inspirational. Now i'm really looking forward to taking the time to play around with our fabric shapes to come up with the perfect representation of a "nought" for a "Noughts and Crosses" or, even better, a "Hugs and Kisses" quilt!

I'll make sure to keep you all posted on how it turns out :)


Tuesday, 26 July 2011

You never know...

...when inspiration will strike!

We've been gradually working through our house, renovating a little at a time, and yesterday was the turn of the kitchen and dining room floor. We love our new floor, and even had a lovely surprise when we lifted the old one- some gorgeously patterned vinyl underneath. It was only the tiniest bit, and too well stuck for us to lift, but a few photos means we can add to our inspiration file. You really never know when something will inspire you! :)


p.s. Hope you like the little sneaky peek of one of our heirloom quilts on top of our new floor- they're coming soon, and we really can't wait to show them off!

Worth Waiting For!

To celebrate the imminent restocking of our incredibly popular Rhododendron Tea-Towel we have added a new feature to our website: Wait List.

Order any item on Wait List and your name will be added to a list that makes absolutely sure you will be amongst the first to receive the item. In addition and, even more exciting, as a thank you for waiting, you will get the item delivered to your door, in our beautiful gift-able packaging, for FREE!! That's right, not only are you guaranteed to be one of the first to receive your item, but you get FREE P&P, too!

Currently both Rhododendron colourways are available on Wait List, so get them now to make sure you get yours!


Friday, 22 July 2011

Rocking Friday Night...

Friday night for a lot of people equals drinks out, fancy dinner maybe... celebrating the week behind you, and beginning the weekend with a bang. What are we doing, you may ask...?

Quilting! Oh yeah, baby, that's right ... working late on a Friday night is just how we roll... ;)

Bowls of wheetabix with banana, the pup on the floor at our feet (of course, finding something to snuggle on he shouldn't... but doesn't he have great taste!) and making a jolly-good mess on the kitchen table designing some new patchwork blocks...

I know you're thinking: is that an angel-fish I can see!?

Why yes, it is...!! Awesome to the max, right? ;)

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend to come. Hope you're having as a nice a Friday night as us, however you happen to be spending it!

x A@a*r

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Happy Birthday Jacki!!

It seems like only yesterday we were posting about my mum's 50th birthday celebrations so it was almost shocking to find ourselves singing "Happy Birthday" to her again just a few days ago!

We had a lovely lunch on sunday at Oregano and then, like the queen, my mum had her second birthday a couple of days later. Another lovely lunch, this one prepared by Abigail and myself, of sandwiches, cake, pie, crisps, and other proper party food- even Angus got in to the spirit of things :)

Abigail had spotted this new range by Le Creuset, and as my mum had just painted her kitchen bright pink, it seemed like perfect timing for us to treat her to a couple of pieces as birthday gifts- the adorable jam pot (sorry, no link- it's sold out!), and the beautifully proportioned tea-pot (the photos don't do it justice- it's a really lovely, curvy shape),both of which raise money for Breast Cancer Care.

We also surprised her with this vintage milk jug from Pedlars- as she's worked for P&O for the past decade, it was irresistible! In fact, she loved it so much, she's already ordered (and received) the matching sugar bowl!


Friday, 15 July 2011

There's a mousse, loose, about this hoose!

The latest recipe from our laboratory kitchen ('s just are plain old kitchen, but we get to wear white coats and lab glasses...) is a pretty fantastic, dairy free, Chocolate and Coconut Mousse.

This stuff is incredibly rich, but, luckily, also incredibly keep your servings small and share it with more of your friends. They'll suddenly become *best* friends after a taste of this!

100g good quality dark chocolate (dairy free and, at least, 60% cocoa solids)
200g (a bag) of marshmallows
1 can full fat coconut milk*
3 Organic Free Range eggs, separated
1 pinch salt

*make sure you've bought your coconut milk a few days before you want to make this.

First, prepare your coconut milk. If you've left your can undisturbed for a few days, the contents will have separated- this is what you want! Gently turn the can upside down, and open what was the bottom. Pour away all the thick, clear liquid until you're left with only the thick, white coconut cream.

Pour and scrape this cream into a pot over a medium heat along with the chocolate and marshmallows. Mix together and stir constantly to ensure the chocolate doesn't scorch. Once all have melted together into a coconut scented, pillowy, gorgeousness, take off the heat.

Separate your eggs. Whisk the 3 whites with a pinch of salt until they have reached the firm peak stage.

With a hand-whisk, whisk the chocolate mixture for a minute or two to ensure it has cooled slightly, then whip in the 3 egg yolks. The mixture will thicken slightly.

Now, loosen the chocolate mixture by stirring in 1 large spoonful of the beaten egg whites, before folding in the rest of them. Try to be careful here, as you want to keep in as much air as possible- more bubbles= more fun! A metal spoon is a great way to cut through the mix without knocking out too much air...

Divide the mixture between 4-6 dishes (use whatever pretty little things you have lying around) and place in the fridge. In a couple of hours the mousse will be set and you can dive right in!

Serve with nothing more than a knowing grin.


p.s. As this mousse contains very lightly cooked eggs you might want to avoid giving this to pregnant ladies and very young children if you feel it would be unwise...

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Cutabitch Pie

This is it. THE pie. The pie that, in fact, you would indeed cut a bitch for...

Smoother than velvet peanut butter pudding, topped with a layer of barely set chocolate gorgeousness, both contained in a crispy, crumbly, buttery biscuit shell. You don't think you'd cut a bitch for anything? Well, just wait until she gets between you and the last piece of this pie...

As a super-awesome extra greatness bonus- this can easily be made lactose free!


350(ish) grams of digestive biscuits/graham crackers, crushed to rubble (make sure to check the label if you want to keep this dairy free!)
1/2 cup melted butter/dairy free margarine

Mix both together until you have what looks like wet sand. Spread, mash and squish in to a 10" pie tin, making sure to bring it up beyond the edge, creating a kind of lip (you'll see what I mean in the photos above).

Bake this in a preheated oven (18oºC) for 10-12 minutes. Leave to cool while you make the pudding layer.

Peanut Butter Pudding:

1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup butter/dairy free margarine
1/2 cup caster sugar/brown sugar (either is good, brown adds a slight extra carmelly note)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 cups milk (either lactose free, or other milk substitute)

Over a medium heat, beat together the flour, sugar and butter/margarine, making your roux to thicken the pudding. Stirring continually, it will go from grainy to glossy in a few minutes. Keep stirring, and, as you cook out all the floury-ness, the roux will start to pull away from the edge of the pot. Once you've reached this stage, keep stirring over the heat for a couple of minutes longer- just to make sure there is no longer any trace of flour, and to add a slightly nutty depth to the flavour.

Now add 1 cup of milk, you'll probably need a hand-whisk now to get this and the very thick roux amalgamated. Once this has been mixed in (it will still be very thick), add the second cup of milk. Again, whisk together until all is smooth and gorgeous looking. You should have a nicely velvety, thick sauce. Add the cup of peanut butter and beat in. Your sauce should immediately thicken to something dollop-able- almost like a super-smooth mashed potato. If it isn't quite thick enough, just stir over the heat for another minute or so. If it's too thick, just add a couple of tablespoons of milk to slacken it.

Dollop this in to the pie tin, then give the whole thing (carefully!) a couple of bangs on the bench to level out the pudding, and get rid of any air-bubbles.

Leave this to cool for an hour or so.

Chocolate Coating:

200g marshmallows (minus the few you'll eat straight from the bag)
100g Dark chocolate (make sure it's dairy free, as all good dark chocolate should be, and about 70% cocoa)
2 tablespoons milk (again, lactose free, or other milk substitute)

Melt the 3 ingredients together over a medium/low heat- stirring all the time to make sure the chocolate doesn't catch and scorch. Once all melted and amalgamated, pour carefully over the pudding layer. Pray for some left over.

Put the completed pie in the fridge and leave, again a few hours is enough for the chocolate to set, but this pie gets better with age, so overnight is great if possible. The whole thing will set firmer and, believe it or not, taste better.

Treat yourself to some ice-cream and left over chocolate sauce...or, my favourite, cut up a banana and pour it over. Heaven. Enjoy this cook's treat- you've worked hard, you deserve it.

Pie serves 10-12 (believe me, it really does!).

p.s. We'll upload better photos once we've made the pie again...which, believe me, will be soon!


Saturday, 9 July 2011

Scrappy Log-Cabin...

Running a good three hours behind, today - it's been a slow burn kind of day... breakfast at noon, lunch at 4 ish... chicken just put in the oven at 8pm... I guess we will eat dinner around 9.30?

We both felt a little inspired to head to the workshop (i.e. the kitchen) around 6...Ryan working on some gorgeous scrappy log cabin with some mixed sycamore scatter and linen bits, and me, picking up my elderflower leaf embroideries again... I got some new floss threads, and they are taking a little bit of getting used to as they are not quite as silky as my previous brand! Enjoying playing with my stitches again, anyway...

Nice way to spend a Saturday! Tomorrow is a birthday lunch for Ryan's Mum. Cannot quite believe that it was a year ago we were throwing a party (weekend party for weekday bday), and had just finished this cake! Wow - time flies when you're happy and busy, egh? ;)

What are you doing this weekend?? Hope it's a happy one!

A@a*r x

p.s. i love the back of patchwork, so much! Don't you?

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

From scraps...

Years ago, I bought a scrap of Lucienne Day fabric at Glasgow School of Arts Centre for Advanced Textiles... it cost me about a pound, I think, as it was just little bits and pieces and scraps and such, but I have been meaning to do something with it ever since as I LOVE it...

WELL - last night was the night!

A little bit of sewing later, and a bit of help from Mister Bell, and we have a new cushion for our sofa... I'm really delighted with it, and love the little bit of embroidery on the lucienne fabric...

Angus seems to like it, too.



Monday, 4 July 2011

Kitchen Nooks...

We did a little bit of shuffling this past week - moving all our cookery books off the shelves near the cooker over to some new shelves we hung in the alcove next to the fire-place...

We're loving our new breakfast reading nook! We have pushed the table up next to the shelves, now stacked with all our culinary literature, perfect for inspiring us over long, lazy breakfasts ;)

And now, in addition, we've got some extra space to display nice crockery on the 'free' shelves. Nothing like a bit of shuffling to brighten the place up, egh??

Finally got to hang our plate from Dublin, and our lovely pieces from Otchipotchi and Shan Annabelle Valla... the crockery on the small shelves is a lot of anthropologie, mixed vintage finds and le crueset...


Abigail @ abigail*ryan

Chock a block!

A week of quilting will be commencing here at chez a*r from tomorrow... yeah, I know today is Monday, so we really should have started this week already, but we had a day out and about today running errands so we figure Tuesday is as good a day to start the week as any ;)

Above is my first ever quilt block completed...(what to make it into now?!) and number two, which is now almost complete as well.

Can't wait for the morning, now! ;)


p.s. don't forget to enter our facebook competition to win a tea-towel!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Super Big Fun Competition!!

Who loves free stuff?


Who loves abigail*ryan stuff?


(we hope... :) )

So we thought we'd put those two little bits of awesome together to make:

(you'll have to "like" us if you haven't already...which raises the question- WHY?? ;) )