Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Back Again!

Well... well... well...
Long time no write.
I've been re-inspired to start writing about my crafty activities again after a rather long hiatus.

Nina is a proper toddler now, so... that's how long it's been.
Full of energy and assertiveness.
Doing most things on her own (I dare not interfere ;-)
She is out of nappies.
Almost in nursery.
Has a full head of hair.
Chats non stop.
Fights with her big, gorgeous brother (and often wins).

I've been busy making things... just not writing about them.
But I feel it's time again to put down on paper (or a cyber diary) all the things I've been making, in case, some time in the future, Nina (or Luca for that matter), may be interested in making some things of their own.

 So, to get warmed up, and as the roses start flowering in my garden, 
I begin with a few coasters/place mats.

Cotton. Crochet. Colourful.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Harking back to Christmas...

We are desperately waiting for the snow in our household.
It came, we thought it would stay, pondered taking a "day off school", as it was coming down by the bucket loads, then it all disappeared.

Where is the real SNOW!!!
The one that comes down and stays.
The one that makes Winter bearable...
I want to go sledging.
Make a snowman (or snow woman or snow cat - why not!).
Have a snowball fight.
Make snow angels.

I will settle with making Christmas Tree Cookies.
The "un-healthy" kind, which I "can't" eat, but the others will enjoy.

They are good fun to make, especially the dunking of the cooked cookies in the melted chocolate.
And of course "Licking the bowl" Luca shouts!
Snow or no snow.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Crocodile Crochet Stitch

I saw this particular crochet stitch on the web and totally fell in love with it.
 There are some fabulous sites which teach you how to make the Crocodile Crochet Stitch, and it may look complicated, but actually, once mastered, it's easy and so beautiful.

Inspired, as always, by the fabulous Meredith of One Sheepish Girl.
Currently, I am making a cushion, but there are endless possibilities.
Perhaps a sweater for Nina?
(I will let you in on a secret, as I have already started on one, bright forest green, which I will share anon)

Oooo how exciting.
I love the process of learning/mastering a new stitch.

Especially one that has such an effective outcome.


Friday, 18 January 2013

Wheat Free Cookies

As part of this new health kick of mine, I have been discovering a bunch of fabulous recipes that have no wheat or dairy in them (though sugar is hard to leave out, when making cookies... right?)
Here is the recipe:

200g Margarine
125g Caster Sugar (or Coconut Palm Sugar, which is amazing)
335g Gluten Free Flour (Doves Farm to a great one - you can also add a little Corn flour/Semolina or Rice Flour to give the cookies an added crunchiness)
2 Large Egg Yolks
2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven: 180°C, fan 160°C, 350°F, Gas 4

1. Mix the butter and sugar together until they are well combined.

2. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and mix well.

3. Add the Gluten Free flour (and Rice Flour/Corn Flour if you fancy) in stages,mixing it into the other ingredients well before adding more gluten free flour. You will find that you will have to use your hands to incorporate the majority of the flour as the dough will become quite stiff.

4. Lightly flour a surface with gluten free flour to roll the shortbread dough out on. Roll out the dough to a depth of 5mm (¼").

5. Cut cookie shapes out of the dough (I used Fred's Letter Press Cookie Cutters) and place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Re-roll the trimmings so that you can make more cookies with the remaining dough.

6. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the edges of the shortbread are turning golden. Remove from the oven and leave for a few minutes on the baking tray, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Let me know if you can taste they are Wheat Free.
Even the kiddies had no idea.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A healthy New Year

A new year, a new start and a new health kick for me.
I'm on a detox (health probs I won't go into) which means I have to cut out wheat, dairy, sugar, tea, alcohol, soya and more...

For the month of January ONLY I hope.
We'll see...

In the meantime I've gone health-mad.
Both in the kitchen and with my hook and yarn.

I'm planning a whole larder of goodies for Nina and Luca to play with, if I manage.
So far only a Carrot, a Tomato and a Pear have emerged.

Here's to more vegetables in my life!
(Cooked not raw, for the moment, alas...)
 A better complexion.
Clear head.
More energy.
Vitality and joy of life!


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Cosmopolitan Cocktail

"Yes, two days until Santa comes".
Luca is waiting and counting, patiently...
Too cute.
Nina has no real idea what is going on, apart from finding it endlessly amusing to take all the baubles off the Christmas Tree and proceed to throw them down the stairs, or in the fireplace, or even in the toilet bowl.

What can you say?

A festive drink is in order.
Today... the Cosmopolitan.
What you will need is:

50ml Vodka
25ml Cointreau (or any Orange liqueur)
Juice of half a lemon or lime
Juice of half an orange
50ml Cranberry Juice
a twist of orange peel, to garnish
Put all the ingredients in a cocktail mixer (or a large glass), along with lots of ice (keep the orange peel for the glass).
Shake well, then pour into a Martini glass (or an old fashioned cocktail glass - which I will be hunting for next summer at local car boot sales).


I'm sipping mine now... and it's gone straight to my head.


Merry Christmas

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Butternut Squash Muffins

As I sit in bed, a little under the weather (no, surely not before Christmas... come on!), not being able to eat anything since yesterday.
I am reminded of the delicious muffins I made the other day.

 Gosh they were good.
Just looking at these pictures makes me want to eat the whole lot.
Sadly, someone... or some people... have already done that!
I'm not naming names here :-)

If you too fancy a wintery muffin to go with your hot cup of Earl Grey tea, or steaming Caffe' Latte, then you can.

Here is the recipe I took these muffins from (thank you Jamie Oliver at Home) and added a few bits myself.

serves: 12 muffins


• 400g butternut squash, skin on, deseeded and roughly chopped
• 350g light soft brown sugar
• 4 large free-range or organic eggs
sea salt
300g plain flour, unsifted (I used Self Raising for extra fluffy-ness)
• 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
• a handful of walnuts (I used Pecans - as I LOVE them)
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 175ml extra virgin olive oil (I used Rapeseed Oil - as it's lighter)

for the frosted cream topping

• zest of 1 clementine
• zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ a lemon
• 140ml soured cream
• 2 heaped tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
• 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped out (I used Vanilla Paste)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line your muffin tins with paper cases.

Whiz the squash in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the sugar, and crack in the eggs. Add a pinch of salt, the flour, baking powder, walnuts, cinnamon and olive oil and whiz together until well beaten. Try not to overdo it with the mixing – you want to just combine everything and no more.

Fill the paper cases with the cake mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to see whether they are cooked properly by sticking a toothpick into one of the cakes – if it comes out clean, they’re done. If it’s a bit sticky, pop them back into the oven for a little longer. Remove from the oven and leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack.

As soon as the muffins are in the oven, make your runny frosted topping. Place most of the clementine zest, all the lemon zest and the lemon juice in a bowl. Add the soured cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds and mix well. Taste and have a think about it – adjust the amount of lemon juice or icing sugar to balance the sweet and sour. Put into the fridge until your cakes have cooled down, then spoon the topping on to the cakes.

** note from me **
Be careful with the Icing. As in: too much lemon makes it really liquidy, and doesn't stick nicely to the top of the muffin.
I would start with the Icing Sugar and then add the lemon/soured cream mixture slowly...
spoonful by spoonful.
I know Jamie is the master of easy cooking, but this tip just helped me... a little.

Happy Baking.