A beginning and an ending

As some long-term readers and followers may already know; Imagination is spicy has been going since June 2012. I’ve enjoyed my time on WordPress immensely, especially as some of the posts have reached a far wider audience than I ever expected to achieve.

As the blog has not been updated regularly for a while; I thought it would be good to bid it a proper farewell as other life priorities have taken over.

Since 2014, I’ve been focusing on developing my skills as a specialist embroiderer and textile artist. It is tremendously exciting (and nerve-wracking) to take a step into the unknown by working towards a new venture and starting a different stage of my life.

I’d like to thank every single reader with the sincere hope that what I’ve written has been informative, useful or fun. Thank you so much for visiting and encouraging me in the opportunity to write about things that have made me enthused, for the ability to be express myself and to share that with other people.

If you’d like to stay in touch on what I will be creating in the future, please do visit my tumblr site Sewn in stories.

Any enquiries regarding the remaining posts on Imagination is spicy can still be sent to me via the Contact page.

Thank you all very much again for reading and my best wishes to everyone!

12 Christmas Stockings: Face Lace – Nouveau Mask

Face Lace - Nouveau Mask gold

Here we are at the last Christmas stocking with the Nouveau mask in Satin Gold by Face Lace. With my love of masks I was interested in trying out these re-usable vinyl ones since I first heard of them. For most people these would be for wearing at a party or themed event, so it offers an affordable and easier way to create a distinct look, compared to spending a lot more for a hand-made mask which might not see much use at other times.

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12 Christmas Stockings: Crown Brush Syntho Set

Crown Syntho case 2

Day 11: Crown Brush’s Syntho Set. I’ve been wanting to buy these brushes for over a year after seeing a recommendation for the brand. I have to say that up until this point my make-up kit has long been missing a proper, full-size, set of brushes. I’m the kind of person who picks up pieces here and there and makes do until they become unusable.

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12 Christmas Stockings: OPI with Gwen Stefani – Don’t Speak 18K Gold Topcoat

Don't Speak box

Day 8 of the Christmas stockings featured yet more gold. I was curious to try ‘Don’t Speak’ after seeing other bloggers’ photos online. I already have a 24k gold leaf lacquer from Rococo, as seen in my post Sparkling gold leaf nails, but those are large flakes and can be time-consuming to apply if you just want a dusting of gold done quickly.

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12 Christmas Stockings: OPI with Gwen Stefani – Rollin’ in Cashmere Collection

Rollin' in Cashmere unboxed

Onto Christmas stockings for Days 5, 6 and 7. I can imagine OPI’s Rollin’ in Cashmere set will be a popular seller for the festive season. Not only is Gwen Stefani a vibrant style icon but this is also one the most attractive of the seasonal collections I’ve seen for a mix of a metallic and glitter topcoats.

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12 Christmas Stockings: Rococo Spellbound Collection

Mystic Luxe, Trap Luxe, Spellbound Molten Lava

Mystic Luxe, Trap Luxe, Spellbound Molten Lava

Here to kick off the first of the reviews for Christmas nail and make-up gifts is Rococo’s Spellbound collection.

The three polishes included, with their boxed descriptions, are:

Mystic Luxe: Dramatic Dark Heather Mist

Spellbound Molten Lava: Mysterious Deepest Blue

Trap Luxe: Dangerously Lustrous Red I’ve included packaging shots as this is a really pretty gift box! Continue reading

In a box: Cold smoking for beginners on a budget

Wood chips smoking

A few years back, myself and Mr Other Half ventured on a novel, for us, food adventure. One windy weekend we found ourselves in a scenic part of Cumbria to learn about hot and cold smoked food on a course run by Smoky Jo’s. (It was a throughly great time with fishing, sausage making and smoking instruction aplenty included. I do recommend their courses if you have a chance to go on one)

My most favourite part of the weekend, apart from eating lots of absolutely delicious food, was learning about cold smoking.

At that point it was still quite often viewed as being a specialist technique in the U.K, something that companies rather than individuals did, compared to the wide variety of home-smoked recipes that can be found throughout regions of the U.S or Canada, right alongside barbecuing. That doesn’t put off some D.I.Y inventiveness for home-smoked food fans here though! (Check out Smoky Jo’s DIY Gallery to see how people have made their own)

Now home smoking, of the hot and cold variety, has become more prominent through recipes used by chefs such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Heston Blumenthal, as well as the move towards being more aware about where food comes from and how to cook and preserve foods in a home environment.

Unfortunately, our good intentions of getting around to doing cold smoking at home got put to one side and never followed through. Until coming across this marvel; the Pro-Q Eco Smoker. This link is for Amazon UK and is for the Eco Smoker kit bundled with Smoky Jo’s own book on all things hot and cold smoking.

Pro-Q smoker

The Pro-Q Eco Smoker assembled

It may look a simple cardboard box from my photo, but I can testify to the fact that there is nothing basic about the flavours you can create. It comprises of an inner and outer cardboard box, two metal shelves, a metal tray, smoke generator and a range of wood chips (maple, oak, cherry and beech). It is self-assembly but not difficult to put together so that you’re ready to get on and start smoking. One of the best things about this kit is that it is a simple matter of folding up the cardboard for recycling when it can no long be used, so no cumbersome equipment wastage. The metal items can be cleaned many times over for use in cold smoking.

Smoked cheese and steak

Food placed for cold smoking

So far we’ve smoked a hard and semi-soft cheese (Lincolnshire Poacher and Raclette), garlic bulbs and sirloin steaks that had a coffee marinade applied first and were then fried. They all turned out well, especially the steak, with a cherry wood smoke. We fully intend on getting more creative with curing ham, nuts, more types of cheese, vegetables and even our own tea smoked salmon in the style of Heston Blumenthal.

Smoked Lincolnshire Poacher and Raclette

Smoked Lincolnshire Poacher and Raclette

As Christmas is coming this struck me as an ideal gift to give to a foodie fan or home cooking enthusiast who is a beginner to cold smoking. It’s economical for the amount of times it can be used and it means you can try out this type of food flavouring and preservation without needing to invest considerably more time or money in permanent equipment, if unsure that it is something that you will like beforehand.

Cold smoking does take a bit of time and patience with preparation and you will need to cook some of your produce afterwards, but once you get a taste for it, which is very easy to do, you’ll be wondering why you never thought of trying it before.