When only a chicken & mushroom pie will do

The last few weeks have flown by and it’s nice to finally have the opportunity to sit down and reflect. We had what felt like a rushed Christmas and New Year, covering nearly 1,000 miles seeing our various family members across the country. And whilst the festivities were lovely and it was nice not to be at work, our attention was somewhat elsewhere despite the busyiness.

We were let down on our house purchase only a couple of days before Christmas so, naturally, at my work Christmas party I hit the red wine with full force! Our agent advised us that whilst the market is always slow in the winter, there was definitely a downturn – and we could see that ourselves.

I was quite content to move back into rented, confident that we would find somewhere to buy within a few months and then we would be in a really good position as ‘first’ time buyers. Sam was more sceptical and even talked about doing up our house a bit more and staying there for another couple of years. I went along with that briefly, but ultimately had to ‘fess up that I simply didn’t have the heart to empty all of the boxes we had already packed (at that stage, the count was 32).

We arrived at my parents’ home on Christmas Eve and discussed the hells of the house buying process whilst baking mince pies and swigging mulled wine. We had a quick look online and I widened our search to include a village which was literally the furthest I would consider living. The house I had loved several months before was still for sale and both Sam and my mum loved it. We decided to view it over New Year. Since then it’s been 100mph!

We loved the house so much we put an offer on it, which was accepted 🙂 the best part was, as it had previously been rented we were able to move in and break the chain for our amazingly tolerant buyers. We are now renting the house for a month whilst the conveyancing goes through and then we will once again be home owners. But this time, of a much larger family home!

We’ve been here 10 days now and it feels like home, not a house. It’s fair to say I was a bit apprehensive on moving day as it felt like the end of an era and I wondered if we had made the right decision. Once our first little home was empty of our belongings it suddenly didn’t feel like a home, it was back to being a house again. It felt strange suddenly realising that it is not the bricks and mortar that make a home, but the items and memories that fill it.

Our new home is wonderful and I am so glad we made the move. My commute is better and that has made me so much happier; I am able to have an extra half hour in bed and still have a whole hour to get myself ready before having to leave, rather than rush about! I’m planning on using this time constructively in the morning to work on my appearance (I sometimes look like I’ve been dragged through a bush backwards) and to make my lunch.

To top it all off, I decided to make a pie today. It’s my favourite food and the ultimate in making me feel content and warm and squishy. This is the life I’ve always wanted; a home smelling of baked bread and cooking, the radio on in the background whilst I leaf through my bookcase and think about what the next novel should be. I’m sat at our breakfast bar typing this with a mug of earl grey for company and a big grin on my face!image

Part of my happiness is probably down to my cooker; it is a Rangemaster, a brand and type of cooker I’ve always wanted and the sellers are leaving it here for us for free! Life win, right there.

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So if, like me, you like or LOVE pies, here is my chicken and mushroom pie extraordinaire:

You will need:
Knob of butter
Half an onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
300g mushrooms
4 chicken thighs (boneless)
Dried thyme
1 chicken stock cube
200ml water (boiled)
200ml milk
50g flour
3 tbsp single cream

For the pastry you can either buy ready-made short crust (for the base) and puff pastry (for the top) or you can make it yourself. I’m hopeless with puff pastry so I used a ready-made block but it’s definitely worth making the shortcrust yourself if you can:
200g flour
125g butter
1 beaten egg
1 tbsp water

Bake!
1. To make the filling melt the butter in the pan and added the chopped onions and garlic. When golden add the mushrooms. Chop the chicken into small bite sized pieces and add.

 

 


2 Leave to cook, stirring occasionally, Add the thyme and salt and pepper as necessary to season and mix up the stock with the water.
3. Once the chicken is no longer pink, add the flour and slowly add the milk, Then add the stock and stir. You want to keep it on a low heat so that it is only simmering. 4. Add the cream and stir. As soon as the sauce is thick and creamy take it off the heat to cool.image
5. Now for the pastry. First make up the shortcrust base by either rolling out your pre-made dough or by making your own. Mix the flour and butter together with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the egg and water and scoop up the flour mixture so that it it becomes a doughy ball. Now roll out so that it is just bigger than your pie dish.
6. Place the shortcrust base into the dish then spoon in the filling.
7. Roll out your puff pastry and place on top. If you are very good then you should be able to slip your knife into the outer edge of the puff pastry to loosen it. That will help it to rise and puff!
8. Then brush on some beaten egg round the edges and on top and bake in the oven for c.45minutes at 180-200 degrees.

Et voila!image

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Perfect pie if I do say so myself. I hope you enjoy it

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Nesting

We got married last June and had hoped to be in a position to move house this year. We were pretty confident our little 2-bed house would sell quickly but were really concerned about not being able to find something suitable to buy.

We started looking around mid-December 2016 but it wasn’t until the end of April that a house finally came on the market that we thought was suitable. In fact, it ticked all of our boxes so after the first viewing we put our house on the market.

Since then we’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster. I thought it would be easy: sell your home and find another to buy. Yeah right!

We had quite a bit of interest in our house but it took a few weeks for someone to make an offer. We didn’t accept it because it was slightly too low. In the meantime, we started second-guessing the house that we thought was so amazing. It was at the top end of our budget but there was something not quite right about it, and we just couldn’t put our finger on it. The house was large, right number of rooms, a garage for Sam, within walking distance of the station for me. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the house when I first saw it on my own without Sam, but came round to it on the second viewing and could see the potential.

Things moved slowly on; our house was still on the market and the sellers of this other house wouldn’t take it off the market for an agreed price – even though the sellers of the house they were buying from had taken their home off the market for them! It was so frustrating. So, as a result, we kept looking around in anticipation that they’d find a buyer before we could sell ours. They did, and to be honest, we accepted that. The house, we’d come to realise, was everything on paper – but it didn’t feel like a home. We didn’t have that ‘cosy’ feeling.

I’m someone who thinks with their head, not their heart.

But if this process has taught me anything its that you need to trust your intuition and to step outside the box.

Our next home will be a family home; a place where we will raise our children in a loving, safe environment. I’ve got visions of walking the children to school around the corner and then carrying on to the train station for work. To spending weekends filling the kitchen with the smells of baking, soup and roast dinners. Having fairy lights over a fire place at Christmas with mugs of hot chocolate, but with space enough for the kids to play and to store our things without feeling on top of each other. Being able to be surrounded by my books but for them not to be intruding into our lives and taking up valuable room. For light, space and air.

To be able to grow and prosper as a family.

And that, is the crux of the matter.

We’re country bumpkins. Even the townscape is too much for us never mind a city. But of the small towns we like around here there are few houses on the market. We’ve also had to consider schools; primary schools really but with good transport links to a secondary school. We don’t plan to move for at least 10 years, and longer if we can help it, so these are things we have to think about. Its looking though we will move to a town for the amenities; schools, extra-curricular clubs for the future children and transport links for us to carry on with our work. Living in the country is wonderful; the clean air, the woods and the wildlife, and being able to set out for a walk from your front door rather than driving to a particular location. I guess we just don’t need the fast bright life of the city. Our idea of an evening out is a trip to the cinema or a restaurant and being home by 10pm. But, just maybe, we now have to put that to one side and to focus on what would be best for us and a little one – and that means making life a bit easier by not having to travel for 30 minutes to get anywhere.

But what house is a whole other question. We are both attracted to period homes but few of these have garages and some not even off road parking. Off road parking is a must have, but Sam has had to decide whether he wants a garage (currently housing our mini) or a workshop space. We’ve also gone full circle and are back considering new-ish builds too as they offer more space for the money.

We’ve viewed a fair few houses now and everything is nearly there, but not quite. Houses that are on a busy road >have a bad layout >are too far for Sam to get to work > have inadequate local schools >needs so much improvement work it should be bulldozed. Etc.

We will remain hopeful though! We’ve sold our house now so we are in a good position to buy. Fingers crossed something will come up!

In the meantime, my Pinterest is bulging with decor ideas for our next home. I love wood, subway tiles and trailing greenery with hues of grey to break up the walls and soft furnishings to bring it all together. Here a few of my favourites: