Thursday, 26 April 2012

My Latest Projects and Yummy Cake

I have been inspired yet again by my lovely Cath Kidston book 'Stitch' there are just so many projects that I would love to do.

To make a change from my usual crochet I thought that I may tart up an old khaki coloured bag that I have and make some of the little embroidered badges that just leaped out of the page at me! There are 3 in total and I have already embroidered two of them, I hadn't got the exact colours that Cath suggests but from my stash of embroidery silks, I picked what I think is quite a good match, so I just have the Stanley Dog badge to do

And so on to the next Cath Kidston project, which is a gorgeous Union Jack purse, I started this and it is coming on so quickly, I can hardly believe it, well in fact I can, my finger and thumb are feeling rather bruised from pulling tapestry wool through my canvas, my eyes have gone squiffy from counting little squares and after a couple of glasses of wine last night I had to give it a rest.

My dread is actually when I have finished it, as I then have to line it, back it and put in a zip, a zip!!! I will have no idea where to start with this! and as I have only just learnt how to thread a sewing machine, the may prove difficult, in fact I have a very, very basic machine just to do seams with but it is proving to be my nemesis!

I have also finished the last few stitches on my Electric Flower cushion and this now needs a back and piping! OHHH heck, I just hope that my machine skills won't let down all the hard work I have put into the tapestries!

I have a beautiful pink wool cardigan that no longer fits me and I have thought of cutting this up to back the flower cushion, but I am still undecided as to what I should pipe it in, Bibelot have some lovely little bobble edging but I'm not sure.

When I was browsing around Sainsburys the other day I saw some fabulous tea towels they are in a lovely thick cotton and my first thought was that I could use them as pillow shams and crochet on to one end some fancy type of edging,I have never done this before, but I am sure with a quick scoot around Google I will find a tutorial somewhere. 
Looking at them again, I think that the middle blue one would be great cut up and used as a back for my little union jack purse!!!???

In between all of this crafting I have been doing, there was a call from the boys "We have no cake!!" So if cake was asked for, cake will be provided!


I decided to do a Chocca Mocca Caramel cake that I had seen in one of my 'Good Food' magazines, the recipe can be found here it is really yummy, the receipt says caramel bars, so my interpretation of this is a good old Mars Bar, they also said put on some little chocolate eggs which I didn't have so I replaced it with little fudge pieces and here it is in all its glory tadah!!

I would love to learn how to cook little colourful macaroons, I have looked at how to do it and it looks really time consuming, but plan to make some in the very near future. For now I have done something that I never really do, I bought cake just to satisfy my craving don't they just look scrummy sitting there in the box, I may just keep them at the back of the fridge as my own little secret stash away from little ones fingers!

Bye bye for now

Claire xx

Monday, 23 April 2012

A Bit of a Tah Dah Moment

Not a great lot to Blog about this week Im afraid as I have been busy with my crochet as I have finally decided to try selling a few of my things in my favourite shop in Leek, Bibelot!!!

I called in the other day to see Liz and Sophie and the knit and natter group of lovely ladies all sat around a table upstairs drinking tea and eating the most wonderful looking cake, I must say though there seemed rather more natter going on than knit! It is just such a lovely environment and they also have lots of other craft workshops that they run.

So my kitchen table has been a mass of pins, needles, felt, buttons and threads

Whilst I sat and made lovely things I couldn't help feeling that it is so nice to think that my little hobby may make me a few pennies :) and fund the things that I like to make for myself

I just feel so excited that things I have made are in such a gorgeous shop, sitting amongst the likes of Cath Kidston!!
Everything I take in is on a sale or return basis, so fingers crossed I won't be having too much returned. Liz and Sophie the lovely ladies that run the shop have made such a lovely display of everything I am sure that they will catch someones eye.

I took an age to decide how to label my little goodies up and in the end decided that just a simple brown luggage label with my name and blog on would do just nicely.

 A lovely little summer wreath crocheted out of Rowan Handknit cotton, although I have to say when I took the photograph it was anything like a summers day

I also made a few little girlie bags, these were in James Brett Kool Kotton, which is a lovely soft mix of cotton and acrylic and gives a lovely smooth texture, I then embellished them with some little Rowan Hand knit cotton Russian Dolls.

In fact unfortunately James Brett is stopping his range of Kool Kotton so, I have just stocked up on some before it becomes impossible to get hold of!

Aren't these wonderful, little daisy brooches again done in my favourite Rowan cotton, I do two sizes a Large which looks great pinned onto a bag or coat 

and smaller ones for those who wish to be a little less flamboyant! I think that I have done really well with these little Daisies it is one of the first flowers I haven't used a pattern for and did in on a wing and a prayer and I think that they have come out really well.

Don't they are look lovely with there little tags on!

I really can't imagine the thrill I will have if I ever see anyone walking around wearing something that I have made, I think that I might just burst!

My delivery of DMC tapestry wool has just arrived so that I can finish off the Cath Kidston flower cushion I started and then ended up running out of wool with just a few stitches left. I also ordered a few more skeins as I have another project in mind from the same Cath Kidston book

The other part of my weekend was taken up by the local village auction, I went along with my daughter and middle son and we sat with mugs of hot tea and bacon sandwiches watching the bidding.

I was warned by my husband before I went that we had enough of our own rubbish without buying and bringing home someone else's, so with that in mind, I didn't buy anything, my son got himself a fish tank that he wanted and my daughter managed to sell a few of my grandsons things. Now remembering the warning that I was given about bringing home things we don't have room for my husband had called in at the sale after we had left and purchased the item in the picture below. I am going to put a warning on at this point, please do not scroll down if you are at all squeamish! 

This was his purchase a stuffed and mounted fox!

It now sits in my tower room  window and will I hope be taken to his work where It can accompany the stuffed bulls head he got from a previous auction!

 There was a suggestion that I should perhaps sit it in the garden to warn away the foxes from eating my chickens, I should perhaps sit it by the hen house with a little sign saying eat my chickens and you too could be stuffed and mounted!!!
 Talking of which I am now definitely down to one chicken and one cockerel and as little Annie2 is a point of lay I have no eggs, so my good friend Helen gave me some of her ducks eggs for my cakes and they look so lovely sitting all big and greeny blue in the egg box

Have a nice week and I will keep you all updated

Claire xx

Monday, 16 April 2012

A Silence Decends on The Hill

This morning I was woken with a start by screaching and squawking as I flew to the bedroom window there was a huge dog fox in the garden, I screamed and shouted to make it run and leave my beloved chickens alone but it stood there and stared at me before making off up the frosty hill and disappearing into the fog. I was left with Harold my cockerel and one very nervous chicken, my other two girls, Mrs. Nesbit and Betty, have yet to be found I have inspected the hen house and found some feathers around the outside but I am still hoping that they are hiding, quivering somewhere in the garden and not daring to come out! I will take another look later and hope that I can coax them out and that they haven't been killed :( Harold and Annie2 are still standing by the coal house not daring to move

Monday morning and as I wander about the house collecting stranded cups and dropped clothes there is a strange silence, no laughing, shouting or calls of "Mum!!" the Easter holidays are over, husband and children gone and I am back to my normal routine.
Now there may have been days in the holidays when I felt like pulling my hair out at with what seemed like endless bickering but I miss it. I feel slightly sad that the boys are growing so fast and soon won't need me as much as I need them, I don't want my nest to empty as I actually love the noise and little ones with friends and feeding the 5000!

I have had a lovely time at home over the Easter period with my husband, children and friends.
The first Saturday got off to a good start, our dear friends Helen and Kevin called around, Helen was upset and a visitors dog had killed her favourite chicken! So to commiserate we decided to have a lovely cream tea with some freshly baked scones, cream, jam, tea and a bottle of champagne.

It was at this meeting that I thought Helen might also enjoy crochet, she does knit but its always useful to have another string to your crafting bow! I got out some crochet hooks and tried to show her how to crochet a simple flower, how we laughed! Enough to say that I sent her home with a hook to practice :)

I have been quite busy on the crochet front over the holidays and have even invested in a few more hooks, some new wool and the odd thing to top up my craft supplies.

The black hook is a Knit Pro soft grip hook I had from Bibelot and the other two are from a wonderful shop on Etsy, take a look at NK Designs shop Linda does some lovely things and will do special orders too!

These are some cases that I have crocheted to put my hooks in, aren't they just beautiful! The lining is a cut up Next dress that I had but the colours work so well with the cotton I picked.

Wendy 100% cotton, not quite sure what I will be doing with this yet

2 Balls of felting wool and I have already made some lovely little felted cherry brooches with this

Waiting to be felted

and here they are after been washed, all lovely and sweet, I think that these would look great pinned onto a denim jacket or even just onto a bag for some extra decoration and bling!

Some of my little Sunflower items

 This is a little flower hanging that I made, I had the design from Attic24, it was quite difficult to photograph as it kept blowing about, when I showed my husband, he said "well its very lovely but what is it?"!!!!!

A selection of my crochet flower brooches

Little girly bags


Some of my lovely colourful cottons that I had from an old friend we called "Mr. Turner" they are devine and all on old wooden spools, they look so good in one of the drawers in my little set I had from ebay a few weeks ago.

And just take a look at this basket £2 from Oxfam, it is quite rare nowadays to find any nice vintage stuff in the charity shops, but it was my lucky day and it holds all of my new bits and bobs

This was found on the collectors market I haggled the seller down to £8, I thought it was just such an unusual little mirror having the drop down shelf underneath.

As you can see I have been very busy on the crochet from so I haven't done too much baking this week apart from a marble cake. We called in to see Helen and Kevin and she had made one and when we got home, the boys requested that I make one too, so here is my recipe:-

250g softened butter
250g caster sugar
250g felt raising flour
80g cocoa powder
a pinch of salt
4 large eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
grease and line an 8" deep cake tin (springform or with a loose bottom)
50g each of white chocolate and milk or dark chocolate

Pre heat oven to 170c
Cream the butter and sugar together along with the vanilla extract until pale and fluffy. Gradually and very carefully add the beaten eggs, adding a treble spoon of the flour with each glug of the eggs. 
Sift in the remaining flower and salt and gently fold in with a metal spoon.

Divide the mixture into two bowls and into one lot of the mixture add the cocoa powder and fold in gently until completely gone. 

Now add alternate blobs of the two mixtures into the cake tin and then draw a knife through the mixture swirling to give the cake that marbled effect.

Bake in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours, then take out and leave to cool completely on a baking rack.
To top the cake I just melted in separate bowls some white chocolate and some milk chocolate and then drizzled it onto the top of the cake and swirled about with a cocktail stick.

So that was my Easter, and as I said earlier, the house just seems so quiet  as I sit here at the computer writing all of this, all I can here I Harold the cock crowing trying to call Mrs. Nesbitt and Betty, but it looks like that fox has taken them.

The weather is cold again and I had to scrape the car to take the children to school, I can't believe the weather at the moment we have gone from flowers and sunshine

to thunderstorms, torrential rain and hail stones the size of marbles!

Have a good week

Claire xx