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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Thursday, 25 March 2010

Green shoots

In abscence of signs of Spring outside, due to the continuing cold weather, we decided to plant some seeds indoors. A couple of weeks later the rocket is doing okay.....

.....the coriander fair.....

.....the basil pretty good....

....and of course the children's cress-heads are doing the best of all!

What had failed so far were the three types of chilli I planted. Not a single shoot or leaf had appeared and I had all but given up hope.... Until this morning!

Can you see that tiny green shoot on the right? There are a few in the middle too! A few days of sunshine through the window and they are finally beginning to grow. Perhaps Spring is on it's way after all!

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Thursday, 18 March 2010

Kit aka Darly

I wanted to make something special for Povey's best friend's birthday present so I decided to make him a Clothkits doll. They have just recently re-released one of the original 70's doll designs, a boy doll called "Kit". In a classic case of taking on waaaaay too much I only gave myself one evening to sew him and his clothes!

I started at 7.30pm and finished at midnight! I sewed the doll, his trousers, his shirt, his waistcoat, and his bag.

The only thing I didn't manage was his pyjamas so I'll do them at a later date. I want to use them as a pattern to make pyjamas for Papaya and Povey's dolls too. I followed tge original instructions although I must admit I adapted him ever so slightly in that I reduced the size of his scarily Prince Charles-esque ears!

The Best Friend loved his doll and re-christened him "Darly"!

I'm looking forward to making three little pairs of pyjamas, but I think I'll give myself more time for them ;-)

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Location:Heathcote Rd,Whitehill,United Kingdom

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum

Working with my friend, the Artist, today on pirate party decorations for our boys.

Here's some of our work in progress; pirate ships, a treasure map and "pin the tail on the parrot" ;-)

Oh and I didn't do enough party bags so will be sewing more tonight. Busy busy.....

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Location:Upper Manor Rd,Witley,United Kingdom

Party bags

I've been kept pretty busy over the past few nights sewing up these party bags for the pirate party Povey is sharing with his best friend.

Papaya lives pirates as much as Povey, but I know not all girls feel the same, so I made sure there were some Dora pirate bags too! All the rest of the fabric came from my own stash I've been collecting since Povey the pirate was born!

Today I'm at Povey's best mate's house so that his mum and I can paint up the decorations for the day. Should be fun ;-)

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Location:Upper Manor Rd,Witley,United Kingdom

Monday, 1 March 2010

iPhone Photos

Thought I should probably put this in my craft diary as it's kind of arty being about photos. I've had my iPhone a few months now and have tried a few different photo apps that I thought I'd share.

First up is some alternative cameras. The camera that comes with the phone isn't bad but it has very limited abilities and no zoom. Here are some daffodils in my kitchen on this lovely sunny March day using just the standard camera.

The camera I mainly use is one I downloaded called Gorillacam. It's by the same people who make the handy "Gorillapod" tripods that you can use anywhere. The main advantages I've found with it are the zoom (although it tends to be grainy), clearer photos and the extra features such as being able to take many photos on quick succession... Very handy with small children! For a simple comparison here I just took one photo of the same daffodils.

The other two camera apps I use are ways of getting different styles of photo rather tha improving normal photos. This first is ShakeItPhoto, a gimmicky camera that gives you the experience of taking a polaroid. It slides down in the same way and you shake if to speed up the development... Although of course that's technically inaccuarate as everyone knows shaking a real Polaroid doesn't develop any quicker when you shake it.... But anyway ;-) The quality of the photos you get are very polaroid-like too. Here are those daffodils again.

Another I like is Hipstamatic. This lovely little app looks like an old fashioned camera and produces photos like the ones from your childhood complete with over-saturation and dodgy flash! This is my favourite in terms of the look of the photos but they are a bit huge as you'll see! The daffodils don't really show it to it's best advantage but you get the idea.

Finally here is Lego Camera. I originally got this app for the kids but find myself using it just as much! Not too effective on the daffodils here so I've also put in a photo of Papaya as it's most effective on faces.

Now I've shown you my camera apps I wanted to put a bit about photo editing apps. I've only tried two so far. Here's a very quick edit on Photogene with the original photo first. It's me on a very cold snowy day last month.

Photogene has some fun little features like speech bubbles etc. as well as being able to change colours/saturation, but I'm preferring Photoshop for mobiles. Here are a few of the extra effects PS Mobile offers.

What neither of them do is the things I'd really like photo editing software for, like being able to change the background and erase spots, marks etc.

That's definitely enough photos of me for this blog! I hate photos of myself and rarely take them so it's unlikely you'll see me again ;-)

As I said I've only had the phone a few months so haven't tried everything. I'd love to know what photo apps you would recommend! Any suggestions?

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Location:Meadow View,Whitehill,United Kingdom

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