Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Things to a few months time!

Good morning! I hope you are in a good mood and the sun is shining where you are. Are you cheery? I hope you are.

I continued with my plan yesterday, making hamper goodies for christmas. I made chilli jam last year and wanted to give it another go. This time without the hospital visit (easily rectified by wearing gloves whilst chopping the chillies!).

I use the Nigella recipe in Nigella Christmas. It's not complicated and turns out really well. And it is this:

Nigella's Chilli Jam

150g long fresh red chillies (i used a mixture of red and green in my jam)
150g red pepper
1kg Jam sugar
600ml cider vinegar

Nigella uses a food processor to chop her chilli's and red pepper but i do not have one so i chopped them by hand. She also removes the seeds from the chilli's but i didn't bother.

1. Chop red peppers and chilli's into very fine pieces (or pulse in a food processor)

2. Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a wide, medium sized sauce pan over a low heat without stirring (although i have to admit i stirred a little).

3. Scrape the chilli and pepper mix into the pan. Bring to the boil and keep at a rollicking boil for 10 minutes.

4. Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool for about 40 minutes. The liquid will become more viscous as it cools and the chilli will start to become suspended instead of floating on the top.

5. Ladle into your sterilized jars.

Yesterday i was also lucky enough to be given lots of plums and damsons. And by a lot i mean lots and lots and lots. This means that i have has to come up with recipes in which i can make use of them. Do you have any good recipes i can pinch? Go on, i'd really appreciate it!

I love tea and cake.

So yesterday i said that i fancied making some cushions. So i did!

I had a go at sewing the lettering on my machine, and whilst it is not the straightest sewing in the world, it was a hundred times faster than by hand. I do find the curved edges a wee bit tricky though. Do you have any tips on doing this? I would love any advice clever people had to give me.

I am pleased with them, i like the fact they are bright and colourful. They'll replace the cushions we had on our sofa, which were looking a bit tired.

What do you think? Do you like them? I guess they won't be everyone's cup of tea, and that's ok. I used leftover material from James and Chloe's quilt and i like the busy images of crazy things. They make me smile.

I also made some more plum jam, which turned out as good as the first batch. I feel the need to make as much jam as possible now, while all the fruit is ripe. Everyone who knows me is bound to end up with one jam or another come christmas, you have been warned!

Ummm, i could go some tea and cake.....

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Wedding presents.

Well now, i couldn't got to the wedding for two wonderful gorgeous friends of mine and not make them a little something to mark the occasion!

So i whipped up (i make it sound like there wasn't hours and hours of hand sewing involved!) these two cushions. I used silk sari fabric, which was in keeping with the decor of the wedding and i know would go nicely in their home.

I then hand sewed letters of the couples names and the date of the wedding. They are bright and lovely and they loved them, which is the most inportant thing!

I quite want some cushions like this now, so watch this space i might be rustling up a few more.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Yay they're married!

Howdy lovely people!

I have just had the best weekend. Ever. Two of my best friends got married to each other and i couldn't be happier for them. There was laughter, tears and lots and lots of champagne!

They held the reception in the most amazing tippee marquee. It was bright and beautiful and i loved it. I mentioned a while ago that i had been making things for a was this one. Check out the match boxes i made for the tables. They were very much in keeping with the wedding and everyone seemed to love them. This was evidenced by the fact that they next day they had all but disapeared!

The images on them are from the Mexican game Loteria. It's a board game a bit like Bingo, except instead of numbers the players have boards with randomly selected pictures. I think the images they use (whilst not always being the most politically correct) are really fun and work well with all the glitter i put all over them.

I would like to say a massive congratulations to the happy couple, i love you both and know you will have years of happiness together. xx

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Vegan cakes.

I have a friend who is a vegan. She asked me the other day of we did vegan cakes at work. At the moment we do not. However, this got me thinking...... i wonder if you can make vegan cakes that are as good as regular cakes?

I have never thought about making a vegan cake but i love a challenge so i am going to have a look at some recipes and give one a go. I have found the Vegan Society website here, which has some recipes and seems a good place to start.

But what do you make them with? No butter or eggs can be used. I have found out that you can get vegan margarine so maybe that would work. Plus apparently banana is used in a lot of vegan cakes as the binding agent.

Below are some pictures i have found some pictures of vegan cakes: coffee, apple and red velvet which all look very good so maybe it's just a case of finding a good recipe. After all, vegans must like cake as much as the rest of us!
Do you have a cake recipe that is vegan? Would you like to share it with me?

We'll have to see how i get on. Of course i'll let you know!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Paper Fish.

Ooh have a look at this lovely little shop that i have found. It's called Paper Fish.

I love this needle book here. A lovely felt book to carry your needles and pins. What a clever idea and all colourful and cute too.

And this Pin Pot here. I love crafty little sewing bits and bobs like this.

She also does a range of bunting (with pom poms!), brooches and stationary too. I feel all inspired to make my own versions or adaptations of things like this. Watch this space....

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Fire and nice.

Good morning! I hope you are well.

I have decided that for christmas this year (i'm sorry that i'm talking about christmas already, bare with me) i'm going to make hampers for friends and family. I did this last year and it went really, so this year i want them to be bigger and better and this means i need to start thinking of what to make to put in them.

In light of this, yesterday i had a go at making fudge. Not just any old fudge, chilli fudge! This was at the request of my dad who wanted some so i thought i'd give it a go.

I have a difficult history with fudge. I have tried to make it before and it came out rock hard and pretty horrible. I find it hard to decide what recipe to use as there are so many about and they all vary dramatically with the ingredients they use. Which is best? Are one's that use sugar themometers more reliable? Condensed milk, evaporated or cream? It all gets very confusing!

However, i was not going to let this put me off so i had a look at some recipes for plain fudge, picked an easy-ish one (which used a sugar thermometer and evaporated milk), and then tinkered with it and this was the end result. What do you think?

I am for the view that good fudge should be a bit crumbly on the outside, but turn smooth and creamy when it's eaten. This is exactly how this turned out. Plus the chilli gave it a bit of a kick. So far, my guinea pig testing has been positive even though the flavor combination is a bit unusual. Plus it looks lovely with the little red chilli flecks contrasting against the caramel colour of the fudge.

I want to play with the recipe a bit, but as soon as i'm happy with it i'll post it on here for anyone that wants to make it. I also think it would be nice to make ginger fudge, or chocolate fudge.....mmm tooth achingly sweet treats, yummy.

You're such a sweetie.

I have a confession to make. I have a teeny tiny obsession with American sweets. Actually not just sweets and not just from America. I love food that is not readily available in the UK. But this is mainly concentrated on sweets, and the Americans do cheap and cheerful candy very well.

I have been known to spent hours happily wandering around supermarkets when in the US, they fascinate me.

Yesterday i went to Bluewater (not quite the US, but somewhere in the middle of Kent). I loved one little shop that was stuffed full of American fare. Expensive, but brilliant.

I could have spent a fortune, however i only bought two things (that actually did cost a small fortune): a chocolate bar called Oh Henry! and a packet of Peanut Butter M&Ms (the Oh Henry didn't even last till i could take a photo!). Both were very tasty, but i am a big fan of the peanut butter M&Ms, they are delicious.

It seems that nearly all American candy bars have peanuts or peanut butter in and that's more than alright with me, i'd happily eat them all. Except Hershey's. I don't like Hershey's, they have got that all wrong. It tastes awful.

Do you like foreign chocolate? Brightly coloured cereal? Fish shaped crackers?  I love it all!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Yarn Bombing...

..also known as yarn storming. Knitted graffiti brightening up otherwise boring or mundane street furniture. I love it. Check out these pictures i took along Southsea sea front the other day. Someone has been busy!

The origin of yarn bombing is unclear, but it is thought to have started in the US. There is a yarn Bombing website here.

In the UK, there is a dedicated team of yarn stormers brightening up the streets of London. You can find their website here. The telephone box they covered in lots of brightly coloured wool is amazing (see the bottom of this post).

A few months ago i was wandering about in Southsea and i happened upon a tree covered in knitting. I didn't have my camera with me to take a photo. I cannot now find this illusive tree, but if i do happen upon it again i'll make sure to get a snap and show you, it looked fab.

I have been told there are more yarn bombs around Southsea so i'll have to keep a look out to see what i can see.
Have you heard of this? Have you seen any? I like the idea of making something cheerful by covering it in brightly coloured wool. It make me smile. Let me know if you see any good yarn bombs near you!

Hee hee, i made up a recipe.

Well hello there! I am feeling a little better today, i think the worst of it is over. I still feel weak and a bit sick but i am definitely on the mend. Phew.

We were at a wedding yesterday, which was lovely. Oxford is really beautiful and the college we were staying at (and where the reception was held) was very grand and a little bit like Hogwarts. A good day was had by all.

We drove back this afternoon (after spending the morning punting down the river in the sunshine) and i finally made use of the plums my dad gave me. I made plum jam and it is yummy. I did a bit of research and looked at quite a few recipes and then made up my own. And it is this:

Anna's Plum Jam

1.Weigh the plums.

2. Weigh out an equal quantity of sugar. You should probably use caster sugar as it's the quickest to dissolve. I however did not have enough so i used a mixture of caster, granulated and some soft brown, and it worked really well. At this point put a small plate in the freezer so you can test when the jam is ready later (see 'setting point' below).

3. Put the (whole) plums into a large pan with some water ( I had 650g of plums so i put in about 100ml of water, you may need more or less depending on how may plums you have).

4. Bring the plums to the boil and boil until they are soft and squidgy. Take off the heat and pass the plum mush through a sieve (you do not have to do this, but it's the easiest way to get the stones out. Plus i don't like the skin. If you do like your jam chunky you could de-stone them first and skip this step all together, it's up to you).

5. Put the sieved mixture back into the pan and add the sugar. Mix a bit and them put back on the hob. Bring the mixture up to a rolling boil and boil until it reaches 'setting point'. ('setting point' can be tested by taking a teaspoon of plum mixture and smearing it onto the small plate which has been taken out of the freezer. Leave it for 20 seconds or so to cool and then run your finger up through it. If it wrinkles it is ready). For me the jam boiled for about 10-15 minutes before it was ready, but it depends on your hob and pan. I would test it first after 10 minutes and then keep testing it every 5 minutes after that until it is at setting point.

6. Take the mixture off the heat and put into sterilized jars. You are done!

It really is very easy and it came out so really well. I was worried about it setting and about using all the different types of sugar but i got four lovely deep red jars of very plummy jam. I tried a bit that was left in the pan and it was very tasty, slightly tart and full of flavour. Do you make jam? Do you think you'd give my recipe a go? You'll be surprised at how simple it is, i promise!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Exciting news from Meet Me At Mikes!

Well hello there and good morning! It's the weekend and i hope you all have lovely fun weekend plans, whether they be action packed or cozy and lazy.

I am off to a wedding today. I hope that i manage to look nice and pretty and not snot covered and puffy. We'll have to see. Luckily we are staying right next to where the wedding is so if i start feeling poorly i can quietly go off to my bed.

I also have wonderful news- Meet Me At Mikes has TWO new books out in October! Yay!

I have mentioned Meet Me At Mikes before and the lovely lady behind it Pip Lincolne. She is a very talentled and creative and has released two other books which are beautiful and brilliant.

Her other books are called Meet Me At Mikes and Sew La Tea Do.

She has a great blog here. She also has a shop in Melbourne but has recently announced that she is closing this shop (sob) to concentrate on her blog and books and other crafty projects.

Her new books are called Make Hey! While The Sun Shines and Meet Me At Mikes Crafty Journal. Don't they look fab? I think they do. 

Check her out. If you want to. If you don't, that's ok too.