Friday, 24 February 2012

That's all I have to say about that!

Okay guys, I'll be honest this blogging every day has been doing my head in a little of late. I can't take nice photo's of the things I make because the only time I get chance to photograph is at night when I have finished a project. I can't write all that I really want to write as I don't have enough time, so I am sorry to say that I am not going to be blogging daily anymore. I wouldn't say I have exactly given up on my challenge as it has given me the kick up the bum to blog regularly, I just really feel that the content has suffered over that last week or so as I have been so busy, what with running two business and being a Mum to a toddler and I don't think it's fair on me or you the reader if I publish posts that I am not 110% happy with.

So from now on, I am only going to blog 2-3 times a week and there will probably much more content in these posts as I will have time to write everything I feel I need to. I hope that those loyal followers still continue to follow my blog and I promise the posts will be better than ever as I'll be able to dedicate more time and energy to them.

I am not going to cry :(

Day 55 of Challenge: Sausage and beans puffs

This is a really easy weekend snack or supper and the kids really dig it too.

You need a sheet of puff pastry, sausage meat, beans, grated cheese and an egg to stick the pastry.

And this is what you do:

Lay out the pastry and roll it so it is a little wider, slice widthways down the centre and squidge the sausage meat in a neatish roll down the bottom third of each piece.

Add a few spoons of baked beans and grated cheese to this and paint a stripe of eggwash along the bottom edge (the smallest one). Roll up and make sure your seam is on the bottom, if it's not just turn over and push down until it is. 

Cut into 3 inch pieces and place on a baking tray. Snip the tops with scissors and paint with egg wash and scatter grated cheese.

Bake in a medium oven for about 30 minutes.

You can also freeze these before baking. Or they are very nice eaten the next day. They are a really good way of using up leftovers and it is a recipe most people can't resist either as a snack or as part of a main meal.

:) It's a gloriously sunny day here in Northants. Hope you all have a nice weekend, no vintage fairs planned for me this weekend, I am saving for pennies for next week, although I may go on a charity shop trundle this afternoon.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Day 54 of challenge: Microwave Risotto

I am a huge rissotto fan as it's one of those meals where you can literally bung anything in, as long as you have the stock and some arborio (short grain) rice you can add anything you like to it. The only downside is you have to stand for about half an hour building up your biceps by constantly stirring. Well not any more. I have found and adapted a version that is done in the microwave (well the rice part is done in the microwave), the added ingredients that make the rissotto scrummy can be prepared on the hob or in the oven or indeed just fresh depending on your preference.

It's a really easy adaptable recipe, just make the basic risotto, get that going in the microwave while you prepare whatever you fancy to stir in. My favourite is roasted butternut squash, pan fried pancetta and goats cheese, with toasted pine nuts on top with a little scattering of parmesan.

The Recipe:

1  medium onion finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup risotto rice
2 3/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup white wine

Salt and pepper.

What to do:

In a large casserole dish add the onion, oil and rice, microwave on high for 3-4 minutes (uncovered)

Then add all the fluid and salt and pepper, stir, cover and microwave for 13-14 minutes, stirring once half way through.

This will be your risotto rice all cooked.

You really can add anything you like to this basic recipe. This time while mine was cooking I pan-fried some, pancetta, a red pepper and chestnut mushrooms. When the risotto rice is all cooked stir in these added ingredients along with a tablespoon or two of parmesan for each person and serve.

This really is the perfect ready meal as it's prepared and ready to eat in under 15 minutes and can be adapted to suit what you fancy or what have left over in the cupboard and fridge, try it, you'll never go back to stirring again!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Day 53 of challenge: Monthly Book Review

Earlier in the week I was a bit overworked and lacking inspiration so I asked my followers on my facebook page what sort of handmade things they would like me to write about on my blog, a super talented local craftsperson Dab and a Dash asked me to review some of my craft books. I thought this was a brilliant idea as I have sizable selection and the majority of them are very good.

Therefore once a month I will share one of the books that I own and have found valuable in my working crafty life.

This month's offering is a book I received as a gift from a good friend of mine who is Swedish, there is a clear Scandinavian influence in the crafts and the layout which I suspect is why she was drawn to it. I love the light and airy feel in the photo's and most of the techniques are fairly simple and focus more on home making than actual craft. Some of the projects might be a bit ambitious for a novice (I'm think of the double bed patchwork throw).

The book is divided into sections relating to the seasons, I really like this approach and it is actually quite helpful as certain things may only be available at certain times, like sloes for the sloe gin for example so it kind of helps you plan your crafty year, and I like a plan.

The projects range from, making a garden planter from and old crate to projects with shells and knitting an phone cover. There are also a few pages on restoring garden furniture and how to wrap presents nicely.

The materials used for the projects throughout the book are really beautiful and very much inspire you to have a go.

There are also some scrap book pages of ideas for quick crafts, I particularly like the one for Valentines.

Do you have a craft or homemade book that you really like? Let me know if I like it I might review it.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Day 52 of challenge: Pancake Day Woop Woop!

I love Pancake Day (or Shrove Tuesday as some call it) we have our pancakes after dinner in the evening so I haven't made any yet to show you but I have had a look for some inspiration for presentation and fillings. I always use the same basic pancake batter mix which is:

MAKES about 10 
Ready in 30 mins
100g plain flour 
2 eggs 200ml milk 
25g unsalted butter , plus a little more for frying

1. Sift the flour into a bowl and add a pinch of salt. Make a hollow in the centre and add the eggs, whisk them together and then start whisking in the flour. Mix the milk with 65ml water and start to add this to the well, gradually incorporating the flour until you have a smooth batter the consistency of single cream. Add more water if you need to. Melt the 25g butter and stir it in.

2. Heat a little butter in a pancake pan or frying pan about 20cm across. When it is hot, lift off the heat and add 2-3 tbsp batter, swirl the pan so the batter settles in an even layer. Put the pan back on the heat and cook until the base starts to turn gold, about 45 seconds. Flip the pancake and cook the other side for about 30 seconds. It will freckle with brown rather than turn an even gold. Slide out onto a sheet of baking parchment. And repeat with the remaining batter.

My favourite fillings are sliced strawberries and Nutella, maple syrup and banana this year I am thinking of warming a can of nestlé caramel. Although you can't beat good old granulated sugar and lemon.

Here are some more ideas I found on the web:


If I am feeling adventurous then I make even have a go at some pancake doodles, how amazing are these?

  I would love to hear what you have on yours.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Day 51 of challenge: Vintage Finds

Last weekend I dragged my family out in the snow to visit a Vintage fair in the pretty market town of Market Harborough. I decided to go along and have a look for some more vintage fabrics to help replenish my stash after the Christmas orders and prepare for spring projects.

It was a really lovely fair with lots of interesting stalls, the majority of which were of a really good standard. One of my favourite stall is Shabby Polka Dots:

Owner and designer/maker Sharon has a real eye, for beautiful old fabrics and patterns as well as being a dab hand at upcycling furniture and other old lovely things, oh and did I mention that she's also a really nice person?! The stall always looks beautiful with a vast array of gorgeous vintage finds and handmade goodies.

Follow Shabby Polka Dots blog here

Another stall I love is Heartsnkisses the owner Suzanne makes handmade fabric hearts for every occasion, she also makes personalised hearts using a selection of fabrics all with a vintage button. I found this little embroidered needle case on her stall, it is made from the softest vintage linen in bottle green with delicate floral embroidery on the front. I just couldn't leave without it, well a stitcher can never have too many needle cases can they?

I found what I had set out to look for a lovely little pile of vintage fabrics, I believe this was from an old M&S bedspread, I have also got it in yellow and am going to set about making some patchwork hexagons. Watch this space.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Day 50: Homemade Daily Challenge, sketch to stitch

Whilst browsing through my sketchbook for yesterday's post I found this really quick sketch I did last summer, it was a design for a tea cosy that I was going going to make, it's slightly unusual in that I drew it within the boundaries of the cosy shape, I don't normally work like this as I don't like to constrain the design in case it is more suitable for another product, but I think in this case I had a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve:

Here is the finished cosy, it made from a mix of vintage and modern fabric with free machine embroidery. I really love drawing little houses and flowers I have an idea for draft excluders that I am going to be working on soon for Autumn!!!

I always do my wispy chimney smoke like this...

The windows were a bit of a 'happy accident' I especially love how the blue checks look like graph paper.

Enjoy your Sunday :)

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Day 49: Homemade Daily Challenge, sketchbook

Quick post today, some pages embroidery themed pages from my sketchbook that in future I will use for applique details with free machine embroidery.

I do so love buttons :)

Friday, 17 February 2012

Day 48: Homemade Daily Challenge

At Christmas I showed my sister how to crochet little flowers, this is where she is with crochet now only two months later, only fair to say she is now streets ahead of me with granny squares and almost has a double bed spread! The chunky blue yarn is especially gorgeous.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Day 47: Homemade Daily Challenge

A little later than expected, here is a photo of the second gift I made for my Husband for Valentines. The little hearts are cut outs of a Cuban map. We travelled around Cuba a number of times before finally deciding to get married there four years ago, each heart has a part of the map depicts a location that was special to us on our travels.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Day 46: Homemade Daily Challenge

At the weekend I went to a brand new Craft Fair in sunny Kettering (where I live). It was organised by Fran from The Little Gift Store and took place at the Naseby Hotel (formerly the George). It is a lovely old venue with lots of character and original features, the perfect spot for a handmade and vintage market. There was a really good range of stalls and they were all of an excellent quality, also everyone was very friendly and happy to chat about their makes. We also especially enjoyed the tea and cake.

I was really delighted to see supertalented local craftsperson Lorna from Dab and a Dash. Lorna makes gorgeous notebooks and covers from all sorts of unusual fabrics, but also loves scrapbooking. I was really pleased to have found the perfect drawing book for my little girl on Lorna's stall. It has a sheet of Dolly Dingle Back Home Again (which took me back about 30 years) on the cover, and is spiral bound with coloured pages throughout. There are also lovely details on the inside and back covers, my little girl loved it and so do I, thanks Lorna :)

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Day 45: Homemade Daily Challenge, Happy Valentine's

Happy Valentine's Day! 

I hope you have at least received a card, even if it's from the cat! I haven't received anything this morning. But SquarePear Tony did buy me a nice new pair of boots on Sunday, not very romantic but practical all the same.

I am a bit more romantic and as you might have guessed I made my Valentine's gifts for him. The first gift I made are some little heart chocolates. I didn't actually 'make' the chocolate I just melted it and put it into little heart shaped moulds:

I bought a really cheap chocolate fondue set and thought it would be a bit rubbish, but we love it and it even came with some of the moulds that we needed for this. 

The mould supplied only made 8 chocolates so luckily I had another handy so I could make all the chocolates and refrigerate them in one batch.

We then decanted them into a little jar and dressed up a bit with a brown paper lid cover and jute twine. I also cut out a little heart gift tag. A really quick and inexpensive gift, that looks thoughtful but is very simple to make. If you don't have a fondue set you could easily melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.

I will tell you about gift no.2 tomorrow as it is still wrapped up at the moment.