Wednesday, 23 March 2011

New Toy

I have a new toy! What do you think?

Not impressed? You'll have to admit it's a gorgeously retro cabinet, but the exciting thing is how it converts....

It's a sewing cabinet! Finally I have a proper place to sew rather than lugging my machine through to the kitchen table. Now any of you that know anything about machines will have spotted that the machine didn't originally go with the cabinet. The cabinet is a 1960s model whereas the machine is from the 1940s.

It's a Singer 201K, and as these instruction books I found in one of the drawers show, this cabinet originally came with a Singer 317.

I'm not complaining though, as the Singer 201K is a lovely machine, and this particular model has just had a service so runs like a dream. It has also come with an intriguing array of attachments I'm yet to figure out.

I've inherited this beauty from my Grandad who has decided his sewing days are behind him. I can't wait to fully try it out!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Present for the best mother ever!

It was my mother's birthday on Bank Holiday Monday and I found myself totally without the funds to get her a present she truly deserves. My mother is a wonderful, amazing, inspiring person and I really wanted to make her something to let her know I appreciated her.

I decided to pour my heart into crafting every part of it and made her a special bag containing two jars, one filled with mini handmade lavender bath bombs and the other with handmade chocolates.

I used the material as an inspiration to decorate the tops of the jars and to sew a card.

I hope it went some way towards letting her know how important she is to me :-)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Beetroot Dip

This was in the Sunday Times a few weeks ago. The original recipe by Lucas Hollweg called for fresh beetroots you then roasted in the oven, but since I had a pack of pre-prepared beetroot that needed to be used I thought I'd give it a go!

Beetroot Dip (my version)

300g beetroots
6 cloves of garlic, in their skins
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh thyme
Black pepper
200g tub of spreadable goat's cheese

1. Roast the garlic in the oven until soft.

2. Finely chop the beetroots and add to a food processor with the garlic flesh, 4 tablespoons of olive oil and the thyme.

3. Season well and blitz till smooth. Add the goat's cheese and blitz again. Then serve!

It comes out a glorious pink that my photos don't really do justice! I served it with rice tortilla chips to dip. It complimented my flowers beautifully ;-)

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Sunday, 11 July 2010

Thank you gifts for teachers

With limited funds it always feels a challenge to come up with gifts for the children's teachers that truly express our appreciation for the amazing job they do.

I have been doing a fair amount of experimentation making chocolates lately, so decided to make some homemade chocolates part of the gift. I came up with a very rich dark chocolate and chilli skull-shaped one....

....and a very vanillary white chocolate fish.

I added to these a little swirly round milk chocolate, and a flower-shaped raw chocolate.

I couldn't figure out what to present them in, until I saw these cute chalkboard pots on Classic Campbell ( and knew I had found the perfect thing! We even already had the pots and the spray paint! The kids helped me spray them up over the course of a few days. Papaya chose pink insides (of course!) for her teachers, and Povey chose red for his.

Then we filled them with tissue paper and the chocolates in ribbon tied bags, and the children wrote on them.

It was a bit precarious getting them into school (I was terrified of dropping and smashing them!) but the teachers seemed happy with them :-)

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Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Raw Chocolate

Chocolate that's good for you! Well not so bad for you anyway as it has no dairy or sugar. I'm practically living on this stuff right now ;-)

This is my current favourite recipe after experimenting with combinations of recipes from the Naked Chocolate book and others I've found online. This is the best I've come up with so far, it's changing all the time though!

This batch is sweet and bitter with a definite kick; definitely not for children! They are also extremely rich, so whilst they work out quite expensive, just one a day will be all you need to curb cravings and give you a boost!

You should be able to find everything you need to make them at your local health food store, but failing that go straight to the inspirational Shazzie and her Detox Your World website.

Raw Chocolates

(Makes around 30 chocolates)
100g raw Cacao Butter
90g raw Coconut Oil
1 tablespoon (approx, basically a big lump!) raw Cocoa Liquor
100ml Agave Syrup
50g raw Cocoa Powder
3 teaspoons Maca powder
2 teaspoon Guarana Powder
Few drops vanilla essence


1. Chop the Cocoa Butter and Cocoa Liquor into smaller pieces and put in a bowl or jug with the Coconut Oil. Place this over another bowl or jug filled with boiling water. Be sure the water cannot touch the mixture. Allow to gently melt.

2. Once melted, add the Cocoa Powder, Agave, Maca, Guarana and Vanilla. Mix well and if possible use a blender; I use a small hand blender just to ensure it's all well mixed.

3. Pour into silicone moulds. I found this fantastic swirly chocolate mould at Lakeland today, but ice cube moulds work just as well for sweet little chocolate cubes.

4. Freeze for at least 20 minutes, then pop out of the mould. These chocolates melt very easily so are best stored in either the fridge or freezer.


I think I may have to go back to Lakeland to get another mould they had with dinosaur shapes and make some child-friendly chocolates; without the Maca and Guarana!

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Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Bread Bag

This is something I've been meaning to make for months....many many months! I actually meant to make this before we moved house even! It's crazy it's taken me so long as it was so very simple.

The Comedian can't have wheat and Povey can't have dairy so most of our bread I make myself... Well I throw the ingredients into the breadmaker and it makes them ;-) The problem with homemade bread is getting it to keep without going mouldy or stale. In the past I used to wrap the bread in plastic or foil but it didn't work so well. I did manage to extend the life of loaves slightly by adding an egg to the mix but storage was still a problem.

A bit of research led me to an old-fashioned solution, a fabric breadbag!

I used some loosly woven fabric I picked up in a charity shop years ago and had as yet failed to find a use for. I used French seams inside the bag (to avoid rough edges rubbing on the loaf) and used some cotton cord firctge drawstring. Otherwise I made it just as I would my present bags, ensuring it would fit a whole loaf without being too loose. I was a little dubious of how well it would work as I'd tried a plastic-lined fabric bread bag (from Lakeland) before and it hadn't worked. It must have been the plastic that was the problem as you can see this bag has kept this white spelt flour loaf fresh for a week.

Mainly I just like how much prettier it looks on my shelf than a shop-bought loaf ;-)

I only made the one to see how it did, but now I'll make some more so I always have one handy. I may even colour code the drawstrings!

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

T-shirt cushion

Easy peasy quick sewing job this one.

I had an old t-shirt of Povey's that I just couldn't bear to part with or pass on....

I turned it inside out and sewed a straight line along the bottom, another along the top (just below the neckline) and along one side across the armhole. I then turned the whole thing back the right side out through the remaining unsewn sleeve. No need to trim anything off as it all just helped to stuff it! I found some stuffing to fill it with through the sleeve hole, hand-sewed that final opening and voilĂ , a cushion!

It's a bit lumpy as the stuffing needs moving around a bit, but some cuddling will soon sort that. I then just snuck it into Povey's bed while he slept ;-)

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