Party Season: Fall Fashions

I’m not sure how we’re already in October, but we are! And that means the party season is soon upon us – Halloween parties, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year parties (and somewhere in the middle a birthday party, for me)!

This season I’m loving earthy, muted colours but also pops of colour with patterns that fade into block colour. I think the latter is one of my favourite current fashion trends. 🙂

I haven’t bought any “party” clothes for a while, but Modcloth has added some great dresses to their Fall/Winter section, so here are a few of my favourites. (I foresee a lot of green in my wardrobe!)

modclothfeteonit

You Can Fete On It Dress: I love the colours in this dress! It would be great to wear in the day with flats, or in the evening you could pair it with heels and jewelry. I think this will work well during the Spring too.

modclothexquisiteelegancebig

Exquisite Elegance Dress: The gorgeous muted, mossy green of this dress is so delicate it works perfectly with the lace! I love the off-the-shoulder style too – it’s a really great dress. I’d wear it with pearls to keep the vintage look.

modclothnostalgicallynuancedbig

Nostalgically Nuanced Dress: I love the button detail at the neckline, and the sleeves, and eveything about it really! This is something I know I’d wear a lot…but it’s out of stock. I’m keeping my fingers crossed they’ll get it back in stock soon.

So those are my top three picks from the Modcloth Fall/Winter collection. What styles are you looking forward to this season? Have you found any great fall fashion bargains?

I’m taking part in Style Sessions and What I Wore – be sure to check out some other posts for great fashion finds. 🙂

Roasted Squash and Winter Vegetable Soup

I love soup. It’s the one thing I don’t mind making, and it’s such a comfort food through the Autumn and Winter! Especially with some delicious chunky bread.

I’ve grown up with my Mom making homemade soup all the time, and it’s a tradition that I do now too. She has her own special recipes that are family favourites, and I love experimenting with my own made up recipes to find some new family favourites too 🙂  This was one of those experiments over Christmas.  And as we currently have icicles hanging on the tree outside – yes, ice in Florida! – I’m going to defrost some of the excess batches from the freezer and enjoy the warming goodness, while the palm trees face the sleet and cold beyond the window.

Ingredients:
1 large onion, diced (there are two in the picture, but I decided to only use one in the end)
2 small/medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
5-6 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 vegetable stock cube (plus boiling water to dissolve)
sour cream (optional)
grated cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Cut the acorn and butternut squashes in half, scoop out the seeds and place on a baking tray. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt. Roast in the oven, cut side up, for 45 minutes to an hour (until lightly browned). Set aside to cool.

2. In a large saucepan add a little oil and cook the onions until slightly softened, add the garlic. Stir and cook for 2-4 minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant.

3. Mix the vegetable stock cube with some boiling water to disolve, add to pan. Then add the sweet potatoes and carrots. Pour boiling water until just covering the vegetables, stir and simmer for about 25 minutes (until the sweet potatoes are softened), stirring occasionally.

4. Using a spoon, scoop out the acorn and butternut squash flesh, discarding the skin. Add the flesh to the saucepan and mix in well. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

5. Blend soup with a handheld blender, or regular blender (whichever you prefer!), and serve hot.  Top with sour cream and cheese if desired, and chunky bread.

6. Enjoy!

When the excess soup has cooled down, you can pour it into freezer containers to store for a later time. We always have 2 or 3 different kinds of homemade soup in the freezer – it’s so easy to defrost and reheat.

This will be my post for this week’s Hearth & Soul Blog Hop 🙂  Be sure to check out the other recipes on there this week and follow my blog for more tasty treats!

I’m also taking part in Foodie Friday this week for the first time 🙂

Soup Season: Garden Pea Soup

I love peas. In the age old question of “what luxury item would you take to a desert island with you?” it would be peas without a doubt! Fresh garden peas (or frozen ones) though, not the canned variety because that’s just blasphemy.

When my husband and I first started dating he bought me a surprise gift and gave me the hint that it was green, my immediate (and jokey) reply was “is it peas?!” and joking aside, I would have still been a happy girl if it was hehe.

So I decide to put my pea obsession to good use and make a garden pea soup 🙂 I didn’t follow a recipe, I made it up as I went along! But it’s quick and simple to do, very few ingredients and you can add more or less of each of them – or throw some more in there like adding a carrot or two, some leeks maybe, even some fresh mint or bacon at the very end. That’s why I love soups, they’re so versatile!

Makes 8-10 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 kg frozen garden peas (fresh from pods are just as good!)
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 pints vegetable stock
1 pint boiling water
100 ml double or single cream (optional)
butter

Add some butter to a large saucepan and cook the chopped onions until soft, add the crushed garlic and stir through, leave to cook for 2 minutes.

Add the peas – they don’t need to be defrosted, just add them right from the freezer bag, or shell them from the pods if you’re using fresh peas.

Stir and add the stock and extra water. You can add more or less stock and water depending on how thin/thick you would like your soup to be.

Stir through and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Blend in a blender or food processor then stir in the cream if using it (we decided not to). This is also the point where you could add chopped up cooked bacon and/or mint.

Even though we decided not to use the cream in the soup itself, we drizzled a little bit on top of each portion before serving. You could also add a few crispy bacon bits on top, or some grated parmesan cheese. …Or even all three!

We had a bowlful each, with some Warburton’s Seeded Batch, and it was delicious! I’m definitely going to make it again but with some parmesan shavings and bacon bits to top it off. This was so quick and easy to make and I’m all for ease when it comes to cooking!

The rest of the soup went into Pour And Store bags, as usual, to be stored in the freezer 🙂

This will be my post for this week’s Hearth And Soul Blog Hop 🙂 Be sure to check out the other recipes on there this week and to follow my blog for more tasty treats!

Snow Day …part two

So the snow started on November 30th and kept coming over December 1st, which made me decide to go for a walk in it to the local nature reserve 🙂 For the amount of snow that fell, we only had about 1″ that stuck.

We haven’t had much snow in England over the actual winter months for quite a long time. At least not in the area I live. So it was really nice to take a long walk in the falling snow during the run up to Christmas – made it feel extra Christmassy 🙂

The walk to the nature reserve follows a country lane, just one car wide.

Yes, that is a lake! Frozen and covered with a perfect, white blanket of snow, trapping the tree branches like hands holding onto the water.

The ducks still managed to find a swimming pool by the river outlet, just big enough for them to enjoy 🙂

At the side of the lake is the entrance to the nature reserve and it runs all the way alongside it.

Spiny hands playfully reached out as we passed by, a dusting of snow in their cupped palms.

I’ve never really found holly to be “pretty”, but the deep green, vivid red and brilliant white combination just struck me as a beautiful mix.

A perfect place to sit, for a view of the lake behind me 🙂

Finally we headed home, the snow still falling sporadically, and I felt really Christmassy. This is the first year in a while that I actually felt that so it was great to have the snow to go with it 🙂

Snow Day …part one

I have quite a bit of catching up to do! My lack of blogging during December, and the first part of January, has left me with a stack of photos to post!

We had a really snowy winter in England, it started at the end of November/start of December and only really started to let up after the New Year. I live close enough to a town to get supplies, but far enough on the outskirts that our roads don’t get gritted…which led to a lot of snow days!

So without further ado, here are some photos from my garden and the road outside my home at the very end of November 2010 🙂

Eventually my 2 cats ventured out, with very confused looks on their faces and leaving just as confused tracks in the snow.

I decided to leave a mark of my own – not exactly imaginative but hey it was cold out there!

All along our road, modern-day snowy tracks in the wake of our neighbours venturing out.

Jack Frost At Play

Jack Frost
Author Unknown

A pretty brook was running at play
With little Jack Frost on a cold winter’s day.
It stopped to rest at the foot of a hill
Making a pond all quiet and still.
“Aha!” said Jack Frost, “Now isn’t that nice?”
And quickly he turned the water to ice.

We’ve had a lot of snow and cold weather here the past couple of weeks, but for three nights in a row we had freezing fog. The temperature was horrid but the results from it were beautiful!

I just never realised how many spiders we have on the conservatory! Thankfully they are all outside! lol!

Nope, those aren’t thorns on that bush, it’s all ice!

The photos don’t really do justice to how beautiful everything was. All the trees were white; coated with icy armor. It was breathtaking but unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me then!