Saturday, 28 July 2012

Olympic Lemon Cake-ey

Yey... the Olympics are finally here.
The opening ceremony in London, last night was AMAZING.
I was totally mesmerised.
So much so that I dreamed about it all night... The visual imagery was so strong, that I couldn't get it out of my head.
Way to go Danny Boyle!

In honour of the Olympics, I am baking Luca's favourite cake-ey - and also, just because he loves it, and I am trying to entertain him in this first week of holidaying - and as Luca has taken on everything sporty, I am trying to fuel his energy.
I seem to make this cake well, as it's a staple in our household, but it never EVER turns out looking aesthetically pleasing.

Tasty YES.
Pretty NO.

Here is how I make it: 

  • 225g Softened Butter
  • 225g Caster Sugar
  •   Lemons, 3 zested and 2 Juiced
  • 4 medium Eggs, lightly whisked
  • 200g Self-Raising Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 50g Ground Almonds (optional)
  • Icing Sugar 


    1. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line the base of a 20cm round cake tin. Beat the butter and caster sugar in a large bowl using an electric hand whisk until pale and creamy. Add the lemon zest (reserving some for decoration) and mix well. Whisk the eggs gradually into the butter mixture, beating well between each addition - don't worry if it curdles.

    2. Sift together the flour and baking powder and fold into the cake mixture using a large metal spoon or spatula. Add the ground almonds and 3/4 of the lemon juice and fold until thoroughly combined. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out without any raw mix on it.

    3. Put the cake tin on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile mix together the remaining lemon juice and zest and enough icing sugar to make a runny icing and then drizzle over the top of the cake. Cool in the tin for a further 30 minutes and then remove from the tin and cool completely before serving.
Enjoy YUM YUM.

Just because I love them so much, here is a little collage of my little scrummy, yummy, funny babies.
When I look at these photos, I am just about tempted to have another four children!

Happy Olympic fun everyone...


Monday, 23 July 2012

A Stitched & Crochet Edged Tea Towel

I have the tendency to start lots of crafty projects, which I then struggle to actually complete.
I have so many ideas for crafty things I want to do and get inspired everywhere I look, that I just flutter from one new thing to the next.

I am not like this in every walk of life, as usually I have the tendency to start a task and not rest until I finish it, before I set about commencing another one.
Like reading books: I need to start and finish a book, before I begin the next one, unlike some people who have a stack of books on their bedside table... dipping into which ever story they are up for, on that particular day or evening.

But in the world of crafting, sewing, crochetting, I am a "dipping" kind of Gal!

So... I have given myself the task of actually finishing and completing some of the projects I've started, which happen to be sitting around my house, in an array of wicker baskets and knitting bags.

Here is the first of those projects, which I started AGES ago.

 I made some simple tea towels out of cream, cotton calico, stitched the edges and decorated both ends with some bias binding.
Then I appliqued some "kitchen-ey" designs onto them (a boiled egg, a milk bottle, a pot of tea) and then, to finish them off, I saw this tutorial and thought that making a crochet edging would be such a cute and pretty thing to do.

I think I may start a few more of these cute tea towels.
There goes my resolution to FINISH projects rather than starting new ones.
What the heck...

Perhaps they'll make cute little Xmas presents (can I really be thinking of Christmas already?)
Alas... the rain which has been dampening our summer, has fooled me into thinking it's already Autumn!

As I write this, my son is learning to ride his bike without stabilizers, in the garden!
Get the first aid kit ready.

Better take him to the park then.


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Popcorn Crochet

"Soooooooooooo much fun"
is what I have been saying to myself, having discovered a new crochet stitch.

The Puff

I first saw this blanket here (one of my most favourite blogs at the moment One Sheepish Girl), and just from what appears to be a blanket which she uses as a background to a lot of her pictures, I have managed to re-create it, looking at it up close and personal.

Here is how YOU TOO can make this most adorable of blanket/scarf/cushion... 
(depending on how big you want to go).

Row 1
Chain 170 (I have made the blanket large enough to fit a single bed - you may want to make it smaller or bigger).
Chain 1 (this will be the first stitch of the next row).

Row 2
 Single Crochet in every stitch, until the end of the row.
Chain 2 (once again, this will be the first stitch of the next row).

Row 3
Half Treble crochet in every stitch, until the end of the row.
Chain 1.

Row 4.
Single Crochet in every stitch, until the end of the row.
Chain 3 (this will be the first of your first Puff Stitch in the next row).


Row 5.
The Puff Stitch
*Yarn over, insert the hook, yarn over again and draw a loop through (there should now be three loops on your hook).
Repeat this step two more times, inserting the hook into the same stitch.
Yarn over and draw through all the loops on the hook.
Chain 2**.
Miss two stitches and repeat the Puff Stitch again (this time, looping the yarn four times in total).
Repeat from * to ** until the end of the row.
Chain 1.

Row 6.
Same as row 2.

Row 7.
Same as row 3.

Row 8.
Same as row 4.

Row 9.
Same as row 5.

Continue like this until you reach the length of the blanket you desire.

It's fluffy, puffy, bouncy, bobbly.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Crochet ZIG ZAG and more...

I have recently wallpapered one of the walls in my house.

It took a long long time to actually choose the pattern I wanted, and many hours of consulting with husband and friends... until I found this fabulous pattern by Sanderson at my friends shop Rectory Interiors.

I am so, so happy with it, it just gives such a dreamy feeling to my landing and stairs, in a way, I wish I could get away with doing the whole house! :-)

Also... my baby girl turned 10 months yesterday.
I can't believe how time is flying by. Running away with me. It's quite scary actually, when you realise how time seems to be going faster, the older we get.
There just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to do everything I want to be doing.

It makes me wonder what the heck I was doing with my life in my 20's, when I had ALL the time in the world to create, bake, crochet, paint, thrift, sew, write, read, decorate, blow dry my hair...

The biggest moment of realisation this week was that my son, only has 4 more days of Reception Class to go, before he's off on his first summer holiday.
He's almost completed a WHOLE year of school, and is now capable of reading, writing, adding, taking away... I mean... who would've thought is actually happened so quickly?
I am so proud of him.
He received such a wonderful school report.
I am incredibly proud to be his Mummy ("MUM" - yes, I know, Mummy was left behind a looooong time ago...), to see him turning into such an eloquent, emotionally mature, articulate, funny, kind and charming boy.
It brings tears to my eyes just writing this...

So, before I start blubbering, I am going to tell you about my recent crochet obsession:

The Crochet ZIG ZAG.

So easy to make, that I am now working 3 different blankets at the same time.

Here is how you do it.

Base. Chain the base of your blanket, as wide as you want, in multiples of 12.
 Chain 2 at the end (this counts as your first Double Crochet).

Row 1. *Double crochet in each stitch (12 in total, including your first chain).
Chain 2.
Double Crochet in each stitch 12 times (starting in the same stitch as the last Double Crochet prior to the 2 chains).
Skip the next 2 stitches on your chain.
Double Crochet in each stitch 12 times**.
Carry on from * to ** until the end.
Chain 2 (this will be the first stitch of the next row).

Row 2. *Double Crochet in each stitch (11 in total, including your first chain).
Double Crochet x 1 in the "hole" (which you created in the previous row by chaining 2) for the next stitch (your 12th)
Chain 2 (exactly over the previous row's chains).
Double Crochet x 1, in the same "hole" as the last Double Crochet.
1 Double Crochet in the next 11 stitches.
Skip 2 stitches**.

Carry on from * to ** until the end of the row.
Chain 2 (this will be the first stitch of the next row). 
Carry on as above for all the next rows...
For as long as you want your blanket to be, changing colour as you wish and please.
You should start to see a pattern forming.
If you are confused, email me.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A burst of Granny Blanket

Time is of a premium at the moment.
With a cheeky 10 month old causing mischief every time I take my eye off her, I am left with very little time to do ANYTHING, let alone crochet.

So... small, quick, dainty is KEY.

Hence I am completely obsessed (or have been), with these little squares of colourful magic.

They are extremely quick to make, hence I've just gone on and on and on making one after another...
Without much thought as to what I would actually end up doing with them all, in the end.

So far, I have made 144 of these tiny crochet delights, and have begun stitching them all together to make a little granny blanket.
One big enough to cover my knees.

But I didn't bank on the fact that now I have thousands of little yarn ends to sew in.
Argghhhhhhh... what a pain.
My least favourite job, as I actually need to concentrate whilst doing it.

Not something I will be able to do during the day, when Nina is on her eleventh speedy crawl up the stairs - looking incredibly wobbly, may I add - or has dug out the moist soil out of every plant pot in the house - including sampling each variety, like a gourmet chef!

Gosh, I'm exhausted.
How did I forget this stage?
More to the point... WHY?

Friday, 6 July 2012


Observing fashion trends out there, I notice that Peter Pan collars are pretty sought after?
I may be wrong... or I may be a season too late, but I still think a collar, is worth having whether we are in 1912 or 2012.

So, I found this lovely pattern for a crochet collar here, which led me to here.

And literally went Crochet Collar MAD!!!
So easy and quick to make, that I have already made two and am well on my way to making a third.

I may actually end up sewing them on cheap plain t-shirts, to spruce them up a bit.
Great idea I've just given myself...
You can find the downloadable pattern on the wonderful Lulu Loves Blog.
But if you are quite proficient in the crochetting department, you could create what ever circular pattern you desire.
I am on my way to experimenting...

I've obviously stuck to the more traditional black and white theme, as I have this thinner, more delicate cotton in the two colours, but I am sure it would look amazing in a variation of extravagantly bold colours.

With a vintage, decorative button.

Very retro.
Very granny.
Very me.