Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Pumpkin Carving - Michael Jackson in Thriller (with template!)

It's no secret that I loooooove Michael Jackson's music. I even remember the first time I saw Thriller.... My Aunty and Uncle owned a pub locally and were the first people I knew which had Sky TV. Every Halloween they threw a fancy dress party. I was in my witches costume sat at the bar drinking a blue Panda Pop and snacking on Pringles. (I was only allowed to drink blue ones on the weekend because of the E numbers which these things used to have!) Above the bar, the telly was tuned on to MTV. A ticker tape running across the bottom of the screen read 'After the break, Michael Jackson's Thriller.' And the rest is history!

The Wunderbar announced a pumpkin carving competition, so I thought I'd give it a go, MJ style! I searched the net for a decent template but couldn't find anything I was confident with. In the end I Photoshopped myself a version of a teeny tiny template I found.

Pumpkin carving when you have eczema on your hands is no fun so I slipped on some rubber gloves and fleshed out the pumpkin using a scooping tool from a supermarket carving kit. Next I taped the template to the pumpkin and marked holes half a centimetre apart around the whole design using a plastic instrument like this. Then I joined up the dots to make sure I didn't carve it incorrectly and got to work.

As I've said before, I don't have the daintiest of hands so I did make a good few mistakes but I don't think you can tell. It took me a couple of hours to cut the design through but I am chuffed with the results! Excuse the iPhone photo.

Michael Jackson's Thriller Pumpkin Template

Here's the template I used if you'd like to print it and use for yourself. Have a happy Halloween!

Monday, 29 October 2012

This Is Halloween - Top 5

There's sick days and sick days. Today was a sick day. One of the real ones, not one when I just fancied a day in bed. I fell ill on Friday night meaning my whole weekend was dampened with fever and sickness. I missed out on lunch with my Dad and a Bath Rugby match.. well, I didn't miss out on lunch, it just didn't stay down too long. Enough about that. So, with my sick day I attempted to be productive - tidied my room, made two piles of clothes (ebay and charity shop) and eventually fell asleep for a 2 and a half hour long recovery nap. My niece woke me up by whispering 'Aunty Rosie, wakey wakey, it's Halloween' in my ear, so we snuggled up on the sofa and watched The Nightmare Before Christmas. She kept calling Jack a pirate (I guess she's getting confused with a skull and crossbones?) and laughed every time Zero was on screen, so cute!

In a true High Fidelity style, here are my all time top 5 favourite Halloween movies.

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas - the perfect transitional film from Halloween to Christmas. Alright, Halloween isn't here yet but I couldn't wait any longer. When I was younger, I was in a production of The Nightmare Before Christmas with the local theatre group meaning I know all the songs word for word and sing along all the time. My niece wasn't impressed.

2. Sleepy Hollow - I love a classic ghost story, I love Johnny Depp, I love Tim Burton movies. Done! I doubt I have to sell this to anyone as I'm sure you've all seen it. Head's will roll.

3. Nightmare on Elm Street - Freddy's gonna get ya! A good friend of ours, Ian, became mine and Ash's horror film dealer last year and introduced us to Mr Krueger. We watched all the Elm Street's in a few weeks and finally bought the box set ourselves at the weekend. The quality of the films fluctuate as they go on (and on, and on) but the first ones definitely a winner. It's been very hard to resist buying this as well as I know my parents wouldn't let me put it up!

4. Paranormal Activity - Everyone has different opinions of this, but I first watched it in bed, on a laptop and I didn't sleep properly for days. I still get creeped out about having my feet near the bottom of the bed and sometimes tuck my knees up (just in case). I know it's really lame, but also shows how losers like me can really fall for this type of horror.

5. ET - Classic. A 30 year old classic now, he even has his own statue in Madame Tussauds! Ok, maybe it's not the spookiest of movies, but it's got an alien, they go trick or treating, and like the Nightmare Before Christmas its a great transitional movie - it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy!

I could have named tens of other horror movies I love, so maybe these aren't my all time top five, but they are 2012's top five and the ones I will be watching this week! Grab your hot toddys, toffee apples, and snuggle up in front the fire with a duvet to hide behind and a hand to hold!

Whats your top 5 Halloween movies? Leave a comment below!

Coming soon - my Michael Jackson Thriller pumpkin with template!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Pie

Last night, I tried to carve a beautiful pumpkin from an owl design I found on the Martha Stewart website. For nearly an hour and a half I carefully fleshed the pumpkin, marked out the stencil and began cutting. It was a disaster. I don't really know what I was thinking because I've never had dainty hands and I chose such an intricate design. I got so annoyed with the pumpkin that I cut it up into tiny pieces and shoved it in the fridge where it stayed all day until I figured out what to do with it.

Obviously, I needed to make a pie. A couple of weeks ago, Mum bought some Jus Rol pastry and it's been in the freezer since. I've got a thing about only cooking food from the freezer when my parents are away, so I let it defrost in the fridge whilst I was at work. When I got in, I Googled a few pie recipes, chose the one I could follow easiest (and make some changes to) and got to work. After I'd sent Ash out to the garage to bring in some cider, obviously.

Now I don't want to blow my own trumpet or anything, but I'm not a bad baker. I'm not saying that Mary Berry should be worried, but it's just one of those things I'm pretty good at. Here's my Spiced Pumpkin Pie recipe, the first recipe of my blog!

You will need; 300g of fresh pumpkin flesh, cubed, diced, chopped.. whatever. (My pumpkin was a standard one from a supermarket for carving, but it tastes fine). 1 sheet of 320g Jus Rol shortcrust pastry. Or if you're not as lazy as me you could make your own pastry. 100g muscavado sugar - dark or light! I used dark. A slosh of skimmed milk. 1 egg. 1/2 tbsp ground all spice, 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tbsp ground ginger. Maple syrup and caster sugar to taste. Rolling pin, blender, tart/flan dish.

Put your pumpkin flesh in a microwaveable dish, cover, and heat on full power for about 10 minutes. Drain the water off in a colander. And allow it to cool for a few minutes. Whilst it's cooling, roll out your pastry. The sheet from the Jus Rol packet wasn't quite wide enough for my tart dish so I balled it up and rerolled it. Generally, I would have used a rolling pin but I couldn't find it for the life of me, so I used a Thermos flask. Nice.

Drape your pastry over your dish and bake for 15 minutes on about 180 degrees. I trimmed round the edges of mine before I put it in the pastry so it was flush with the dish, but it sank a little. Live and learn, eh?

I learnt something else tonight - the recipe I read said about filling tin foil with beans and putting them inside the dish as it baked. I didn't because I didn't know what beans they were on about and figured that the only beans in the house, baked beans, wouldn't work. After about 10 minutes I checked on the pastry and saw that it was rising in the middle! In a panic, I took it out the oven, squished down the bubbles and put it back in. It worked fine! But I've just looked up what I should have done - blind baked with a weight. You can be smarter than I was and read about it here.

Whilst the pastry is browning off for a few more minutes, make the pumpkin puree. Add the cooked pumpkin flesh in to the blender and give it a whirl, crack in the egg, pour in the sugar and all the spices and give it another whirl.
The recipe I was reading used a whole pot of cream, which I didn't have. This is where the slosh of milk came in. I dont know how much it was because I just added it out of instinct! I guess it was about as much as I'd put in a cup of tea and I like my tea strong. Vague - sorry! But I don't really know what difference it made anyway.

After it's all blended well with no lumps, take your golden brown pastry case out of the oven and very slowly pour in the pumpkin puree. Turn the oven down to 160 degrees and put in your pie to bake for around about 45 minutes. Then drizzle some maple syrup (the proper Canadian stuff) and sprinkle some caster sugar and return to the oven for another 10/15 minutes, until the top is springy and the pastry is crumbly. Et voila! Your very own seasonal pie!

I served mine still-warm with vanilla ice cream. It is AMAZING. Having never even made any pie before, expect mince pies, I am pretty chuffed with this! These photos are also a big massive lie because I had two slices, not one.

What I didn't tell you was that I made SO much pumpkin puree (almost double the measurements I've given above) that I thought I'd try out my Halloween muffin moulds. I mixed the puree up with some self raising flour and baking powder and spooned it in to the moulds. After about 25 minutes in the oven they still hadn't cooked properly so I gave up and will probably feed them to the dogs. But the ones that did cook a bit better don't look so bad, right?

If you use this recipe, make sure you Tweet/Instagram me @ohsorosie !

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Now Playing

We went to watch The Perks of Being a Wallflower last week, and ever since, I've had this song running around in my head. It's Asleep by The Smiths. This song was released originally a B-side on The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, but was unearthed again for the 1987 Louder Than Bombs compilation. It's too good to be a B-side.

If you haven't read The Perks of Being a Wallflower yet, make sure you add it on to your list.

“There is this one photograph... that is just beautiful. it would be impossible to describe how beautiful it is, but i’ll try. If you listen to the song “Asleep,” and you think about those pretty weather days that make you remember things, and you think about the prettiest eyes you’ve known, and you cry and the person holds you back, then I think you will see the photograph.” Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being A Wallflower.

Don't feel bad for me , I want you to know deep in the cell of my heart I really want to go 

There is another world , there is a better world. Well, there must be.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Instax 2

As I said in a previous post, The Wunderbar has turned 18! Last weekend we celebrated, drank loads of free punch and had an all-round lovely evening. Here's the evidence.

Mugshot! Myself and Lucy
My parents! They wouldn't come down the Bar for my 18th,
but they came down for it's 18th!

Drunk faces

Family portrait?! Ash cut off Dad's head

Bar ladies! Charlotte and Lydia

Julia and Jon


The Management :)


First Frost

It's finally here! My family has an on going (not funny) joke about not putting the heat on until we've had the first frost. Regardless, we've had the heat on a few times and the fire's been lit, but at least I can put it on without feeling guilty!

This is the view from my bedroom window this morning. There's steam coming from the roof tops where the sun is warming the frost. I know I've said it before, but Autumn really is my favourite time of year. I'm taking wedding photos in a few weeks and I really hope we get a day like this.

Dexter exploring in the sunshine. (Loving this natural light leak!)

Him and his Mum (our other black lab, Ruby) are the most annoying dogs. Constantly under your feet and nudging you. But I forgive him when he looks like this.

This rose plant was one I bought for a few pounds in the supermarket. It was given a 14 day guarantee, and I thought it was dead so put it out to be binned. Dad secretly planted it in a pot outside, and now it's going strong :)

What better way to spend a morning like this than drinking tea, playing with Pheobe and eating pancakes with syrup :)

I don't think I'm doing such a bad job of keeping up with my seasonal goals. It's the homemade Christmas presents I'm struggling with - if you have any cute ideas, leave me a comment!

Friday, 12 October 2012

The Wunderbar

My favourite place in the world, The Wunderbar, turns 18 tonight! The bar was opened in 1994 and is the longest running pub under the same management left in my humble home town of Midsomer Norton (or as it's referred to locally, the Centre of the Universe!). Whilst other establishments have changed shape to fit the new trends, with 3D TVs, discount shots and free WiFi, the Wunderbar stands strong in the cellar of the Greyhound, providing the town with a unique and intimate venue for bands to get off their feet, an excellent watering hole for the locals, and one of the well known places where you get no signal on your phone. Bliss.

Maybe I'm biased. I've been working on and off at the bar since I turned 18 (3 and a half years), and I've had some of my best nights out pulling pints there and sitting at the other side of the bar deep in conversation with the bar staff. In fact, my 18th birthday ended up with me on the floor of the bar with laddered tights - and once I'd been dropped off at home, I promptly left the house and began walking back to the pub. I really do love the Wunderbar.

 I think this would be the perfect opportunity to share with you some oldies from my few years as a local at the bar.

Creating cocktails on Halloween night, calling them 'Blood' and promoting them on your arm. Lovely!

A couple of James' Thursday quick cocktails, which resulted in a lot of hangovers at work on Friday mornings.

With Hannah in the beer garden one summer (check out the pink hair!)

Ash doing his bar tending bit

The typical selfie in the bathroom mirror

In my 3 and a bit years as a proper drinker 'down the Bar,' I've grown to love the place, feel protective of it and a little bit smug that I can call it my local. Why? It's got to be the music. The Bar has introduced me to all sorts, from acoustic nights, to Discord to the late night jazz fusion that Wilb pulls out when it's getting close to bed time (and even closer to Special Brew time.) The Bar puts on bands every Thursday and Saturday, DJs some Friday's, and other niche evenings like Reggae and Ska night and the Unplugged night. You've just got to look around the place to appreciate the musical influences that pulses through it's exposed-brick veins. The walls and ceilings are covered in the history of the local scene along side the late, greats of music's past. (And if you look reeeaally hard you might even spot a couple Telly Tubbies.)

Chalky White aka Lucy Milner aka Landlady Supreme on stage at the Wunderbar. 
DJ Night
Working at the bar means three things; learning how to pour a 'proper' pint, opening your mind to paranormal activities (Wunderghost!) and making your colleagues your friends. I am truly thankful to have such a prestigious establishment full of such lovely humans just a 5 minute walk from my front door.

But none of this would be possible without the Wunderbar's longest serving member, owner, landlord, performer and Special Brew enthusiast, Wilb. Now, I'm not going to go into some soppy prose about how great he is, so you're just going to have to take my word for it.

Wilb, the man behind the Bar. Literally.

Last weekend, we celebrated the bars birthday with a night of Ulysses, free rum punch and big smiles - I took loads of photos with my Instax which I'll post some other time. 

So Wunderbar, tonight on your 18th birthday, I raise my glass to you, as a thanks for your service to music, to drinking, to bad jokes and to good times. Don't get too drunk, and don't you ever change!

- - - - - - - - - - 
"The Wunderbar is a live music cellar bar in Midsomer Norton, Somerset, between Bath and Wells. The centre of the universe. We first started spilling drinks and putting on live rock and roll in 1994, and we're getting the hang of it now. Almost. Our atmosphere, we hope, is for everyone, and our live acts always entertaining. We have DJs and a film night once a month so we're more than just a rock venue. Why not come on down and have a pint. Real Ales, Surreal Lagers and a dangerous shelf to die for."

If you're interested in playing at the Bar, email wilb@wunderbar.co.uk
You can read more about the Wunderbar's birthday here

Saturday, 6 October 2012


Today has been the most beautiful Autumn day - a blue sky, a slight breeze, sunshine.. lovely. Ash and I went to Wells for a wander in the sunshine. Wells is the smallest city in England, and about the only city I've been to that doesn't feel intimidating. Saturday is market day.

I finally tried Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced Latte... it's lovely and may have overtaken my favourite Vanilla Latte! Unfortunately, the Starbucks in Wells is shutting down tomorrow, meaning my closest one is in Bath, bummer!

Ash can never resist record shopping, and he came away with some bargain Jimi Hendrix LPs. I'm looking forward to our annual Camden record haul in December, we always have fun digging out treasures. I guess it's the same thrill that people get from thrifting.

We walked through the Gatehouse to the lawn in front of Bishops Palace. My Aunty works here now and it's definitely in my mind as a lovely wedding venue... you know, if that ever happens... I hope there was a wedding there today, it would have been the most perfect weather for a wedding. 

Gorgeous Autumn colours are changing everywhere, I can't wait for all the red leaves. Is that really sad? This is the time of year when I start to get nostalgic about things that have happened this year... but I'll save that for another post.

The Moat around Bishops Palace

Wells Cathedral holds many memories for me. From school trips to do stone rubbings when I was a little girl, taking lots of photos of the West Front with my Dad and discovering Vicars Close for the first time, visiting my Grandad when he used to volunteer in the library, and eventually it's where his funeral was held.

We went in to the Craft Fair - I was expecting cute embroideries but just got lots and lots of knitted babies hats and old ladies looking miserable. We didn't stay long.
The marketplace is famous in itself for having one of Wells' wells (another being in the Bishops Palace and one in the back of the Cathedral grounds), but it's also famous for it's amazing local produce. There was honey, cheese, cider (well, we are in Somerset), fudge, and even a Thai food stall (???)

And beautiful autumnal shades at the florist's stall!

Wells is also famous for being the main location for the movie Hot Fuzz which was filmed here in 2007. Wells was transformed in to Sanford for a while. Recognise this?

And if you turn your back to The Swan Hotel, you'll see my favourite view of the city. If you're ever in my neck of the woods, make sure you visit Wells.