My 100th post!

28 February 2013

I first started reading blogs about May last year.  Soon I was reading my favourites on a daily basis and learning html code etc and reading how to start my own blog.  Enter Bright & Illustrious.  I still wander if my blog name should be changed.  It is hard to remember and not subject specific but then again, lots of blog names aren't.  We will see.  The blog name came from the meaning of my name, Claire. It will do for now.

Looking back, I have made lots of progress from improving the design, writing regular posts (well trying to!) and getting some regular readers.  Although, compared to my favourite blogs my reader base is tiny.  But, we all have to start somewhere.

I thought I would share my favourite posts as well as my favourite blogs which I read on a daily basis with a cup of tea.

♥ I love looking back at this post and remind myself how much work we have done on our house
♥ My favourite brownie recipe like. ever.
♥ Remembering my once in a lifetime opportunity
♥ Need some good old romance?
♥ A must for a breakfast treat.

My favourite blogs can be found here - enjoy!

Thanks for reading my blog - pop back soon x

February: Currently

27 February 2013

Wow, February has flown by.  I am not the biggest fan of February, even thought its my birthday month.  The weather is grey and dull and its at this time of year that I really get tired of the cold.  But here are some things that have helped me through it....

Excited to read this book and plan to watch the movie too.

Loving this little announcement - what a fun and cute idea.

Enjoying sewing my first quilt and loving it - feeling so proud - blog post to follow at the end of March (it is a gift and I don't want to spoil the surprise!)

Dreaming about starting my own business

♥ Relaxing and spending time with friends on a spa weekend

♥ Wanting to make Salted Caramel chocolate brownies - watch this space for the recipe.

♥ Obsessed with this fabric shop and this one.

Inspired by this blog and loving this blog right now.

Planning to make this cake - just because!

Happy "nearly the end of" February x


22 February 2013

Now, I don't remember eating this much growing up but I had to make it for hubby since it is a traditional South African dish and wanted to show off our culinary delights that us Saffa's have to offer.  I was not disappointed and will definitely be making this as one of our weekly meals.
It is so easy and quick to prepare. 
Just perfect with yellow rice and a dollop of Mrs Balls chutney on the side.

This recipe was recommended to me by my friend Inge who said to try it out.  She knows what she is talking about when it comes to good food. 

I tweeked the recipe slightly because Mani is vegetarian so I made it with Quorn mince and I added a few raisins - I seriously think the secret is in using plain yoghurt/cream or both in the topping as Ina Paarman suggests.  Mrs Balls Chutney also has a simple Bobotie recipe here.

Make this tonight and enjoy a South African dish!

2 T (30 ml) oil
½ T (7.5 ml) butter
2 onions, finely chopped
500 g mince (a combination of beef and lamb is good)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup (250 ml) grated carrot or apple

1 T (15 ml) curry powder
1 t (5 ml) coriander
½ t (2.5 ml) ginger
2 t (10 ml) Ina Paarman’s Garlic & Herb Seasoning
1 t (5 ml) turmeric
½ t (2.5 ml) cinnamon
1 t (5 ml) sugar
pinch of red chilli or cayenne pepper
1 T (15 ml) cider or wine vinegar or lemon juice
2 slices white bread, soaked in Chicken Stock, lightly squeezed and mashed with a fork
bay-leaves or lemon leaves

1 cup (250 ml) sour cream or ½ cup fresh cream and ½ cup plain yoghurt (this is the secret – the topping must be made
with a thick milk product)
1 t (5 ml) Ina Paarman’s Garlic & Herb Seasoning
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Stir-fry the onion in the oil and butter until soft. Add the mince and stir-fry until crumbly. Add the garlic, grated carrot and spices. Continue cooking very briefly to develop all flavours. Season with Garlic & Herb Seasoning. Add vinegar. Add softened mashed bread.
3. Spread the mixture into a flat ovenproof dish. Beat together all the ingredients for the topping with a fork. Pour the topping over the bobotie. Float a few bay or lemon leaves in the topping. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes until the custard topping is firm and golden brown.
4. Serve with yellow rice, chutney, sliced bananas and a sambal of diced tomatoes and onion.

Happy Cooking x

Thoughtful Thursday

21 February 2013

Some thoughts to brighten your Thursday.



Go out and make today count x

Courgette, Feta & Mint Loaf

20 February 2013

My favourite time of the month?  Receiving my monthly issue of The Simple Things - a new magazine which is full to the brim with everything you have ever wanted to read, cook, want, create and love.

This month's issue has super impressed me - I found myself disappointed that I had reached the back cover!   Included in this issue is a fantastic recipe for a savoury loaf.  I gave it a try and boy am I glad I did - it is delicious.  Perfect for your lunchbox or have it with a dollop of butter and a cup of tea. 

Ingredients - makes 1 loaf

3 eggs
110g grated cheddar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
5 tbpsn olive oil
180g flour
9g baking powder
75ml milk
1 small courgette, grated
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 sping onions
1/2 block feta (100g)
1-2 handfuls mint, finely chopped

♥ Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.  Fry the garlic with the oil, add the grated courgettes and then the spring onions.  Set aside.
♥  Mix the grated cheese, eggs, lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder and the milk.  Mix into a smooth batter.  Add the courgette mix, crumble in the feta and throw in the mint.
♥  Pour into a lined loaf tin and bake for 50 minute.

Enjoy x

Happy Cooking x

Making today count

19 February 2013

Days seems to turn into weeks and before you know it, a new month has begun.  Sometimes, when I crawl into bed after a long day, I ask myself - what have I done to make today count.  It is hard to make days count with the rumblings of routine, jobs, tiredness and general goings on to capture the little things in the day.  Sometimes, it only take a few minutes to just sit and ponder, really smell your surroundings and make the most of the hours we have ahead of us.  Some days are hard, others easier - these are the workings of what we call life. But we can decide to make the little things - the simple things - make our days count.

It can be a tiny thing.  It can be a big thing.  You can bake a cake, go for a walk, capture a sunset, read your favourite magazine, make a delicious dinner, give a homemade gift to someone - just because, sit outside with a cup of tea and enjoy the fresh air....the list is endless.

What will you do today to make it count? 


Weekend Musings

18 February 2013

One cannot complain about the weekend when it has been filled with family, food, sunshine (maybe not the conventional kind but any kind of sun in England is fine with me!) a visit to Ikea and sewing.

Drinks at The Salisbury, a Grade II listed pub in Harringay

First go at sewing a sleeve for my ipad

Gorgeous caramel salted brownies from Batch Bakery @ Harringay Market

Beautiful sunshine in Central London
Thanks to my family a wonderful weekend was had. 
I hope you all had a great one too - enjoy the coming week and remember...
Capture the littte things ♥

Weekend Wishlist

16 February 2013

I could spend hours wishing away my time online, searching for lovely pretty things to fill our home with.  I thought I would share some of my favourite finds from this week. 

//1.Set of 3 cushions//2.African Pendant//3.Shutter Mirror//4.Office Storage//5.Cat Tealight Holder//
//6.Fabric Bundle//7. Vintage camera canvas//

Happy weekend friends!

Peppermint Crisp Tart

15 February 2013

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Being from South Africa, naturally one of my favourite puddings is going to be peppermint crisp tart.
There is nothing like it - easy to make, delicious to eat and everyone comes back for seconds (or thirds!).

There are many variations out there but I tend to keep it simple with this one.

1 pack of tennis biscuits
1 tin of caramel
250ml extra thick double cream
1 large bar of peppermint crisp or 4 small bars
75g butter

Melt butter in pan.
Crush tennis biscuits until resembling fine crumbs.
Mix butter and crushed biscuits and press into tray.
Mix caramel until softened and pour over crushed biscuits.
Crush peppermint crisp bars until fine and add cream.
Place mixture over caramel and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.


Thoughtful Thursday

14 February 2013

Yesterday I was going through our bookshelves to try and find a good read - Mani gave me Marian Keyes' Brightest Star in the Sky and I havent had a chance to read it yet so I picked it off the shelf and put it in my bag ready for the train the next morning.

When I opened the book there was this saying on the 2nd page.  I love it.  It really gives you a twinkle of hope don't you think?

Here is to being hopeful.

Happy Thursday!

Fun things to do with your Instagram Pictures

13 February 2013

I ♥ instagram. Who doesn't?
It's fun, easy and I love sharing my snaps with friends and family around the globe.
But what else can you do with your pictures besides look at them on your instagram feed?

♥ How about decorating your fridge with these pretty magnets?
♥ I adore these little books - these would be cute gifts or just nice to have on your desk or bookcase
♥ These tiles are just awesome and would love to put them up in our cloakroom
♥ Why not start your own shop here and sell your best instagrams?
♥ Or get some printed and make a collage on a wall or a border like I did here?
♥ Everyone loves a pillow and its even better when its personal.
These are pretty super awesome for your phones too.

The options are endless - I think I may need to test each of these to see how they turn out!

Happy instagraming!

On missing home

12 February 2013

Some days I miss my other home. My other home being Cape Town.  I miss the vibe - I cannot describe what exactly that vibe is but I miss it so much it hurts. 

The sunshine.  The people.  Driving through Pinelands and seeing all the front doors open.  The sun.  The accent. The culture. Table mountain.  The lifestyle.  Having drinks in the evening sun.  Driving with the window down and smelling the braai's being had. Popping to Kwik Spar and picking up their divine cheese rolls and a Creme Soda.  Listening to 5fm.  Seeing my family and friends.  Going to Howard Centre and bumping into at least five people you know.  Steers.  Having a beach 10 minutes drive away.

Don't get me wrong, I love England and all its culture, but fellow Capetonions will agree - there is no place on earth that can compare to The Mother City.

I found this and it made me realise how much I love Africa and everything it is about.

I remember in school after each assembly we used to say a prayer.

God Bless Africa.
Guide her leaders, guard her children and give her peace. 
And let that peace begin with me.

I love that prayer.  It all begins with us. 

Happy Tuesday x

The Cloakroom

11 February 2013

Nearly 6 months ago we moved into our little home. We have worked very hard and still continue to do so to make this little house our home. We have just finished the downstairs cloakroom so I thought I would share our progress.

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As you can see, it was dismal to begin with with dark pink walls, blue skirting, no basin, an old toilet and just plain dingy. We removed the door and replaced it with a folding one. We put a new toilet in and the cutest, tiniest basin you will probably ever see. We re-painted, added a shelf, some inspiration printables and finally my instagram wallpaper border.

I initially got my inspiration from Tori Jayne's cloakroom and then just added my own touch along the way. I wanted something bright and clean with some originality. We would like to put a new floor down eventually but the tiles will do for now.

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We really struggled to find a border, I thought a grey border would go nicely but for the life of me could not find one that would go. So I thought of using my own pictures as a border - I researched all the different ways you can print your instagram pictures and found that Photobox were the best value for money with a 5 x 5 print for 20p each. It adds a personal touch plus I can swap and change them when I get bored of these.  The frames I picked up from a charity shop & the lanterns were from Burford Garden Centre's clearance corner, the towel and mat are from Next and the rest of the items in our cloakroom are off ebay. 
I love a bargain ♥

Happy Monday!


8 February 2013

I am very lucky to have an enjoyable walk to work after I hop off my train in the morning.  I walk along the Oxford canal which is teeming with wildlife and barges bobbing on the water.  Here are some of my snaps I thought I would share with you.

My friend even spotted a Kingfisher the other day - we just saw a flash of his beautiful blue feathers but he was far to quick for me to capture.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Happy Friday!


7 February 2013

I stumbled upon this beautiful, heart-warming film via a lovely little blog today and had to share it. 
If you need a smile, a laugh or a heart-warming and a feel good boost - watch this little gem.

It is produced by Disney and has been nomincated for an Oscar!

Oh I just love it -  hope you do too.

Thoughtful Thursday



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