Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Christmas present making...

Here are some recent gifts I've made; they've been opened so I can share them now :) hats, bunting, handwarmers, a tortoise and an ornament; making gifts is incredibly rewarding

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Tutu much?

What is a girl to do with several metres of tulle and a bit of elastic? The answer is pretty self explanatory; get making tutus! I made a pink tutu for my daughter, posted a picture on Facebook and within a few hours had requests from friends to make four more... Starting with the two green "tinkerbell" tutus pictured here

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Perfect brownies

Usually I enjoy the process of baking even more than the result, however with my brownie recipe the results are so good I can't resist them... My husband loves them so much that I sometimes have to whip up a batch in the evening after a difficult day to cheer him up. I developed this recipe by tireless trial & error so this epitome of chocolate pudding is;

Natalie's Ultimate Chocolate Brownie Recipe

200g 70% cocoa chocolate
200g milk chocolate
250g butter
200g caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
200g plain flour

Preheat oven to 160°C
Grease and line a suitable 8" square baking tin

• Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave (in a microwavable bowl) for a minute at a time and stirring in between. It is ready when a tiny bit of the chocolate is left unmelted; stir the mixture until this last bit has disappeared to prevent burning the chocolate

• Add the caster sugar and egg to the bowl and beat until smooth

• Sift in the flour and mix until just combined (it's ok if there's a tiny bit of flour left)

• Add the batter to the tin and spread evenly

• Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes until just set in the middle

Cool, slice & scoff!

(delicious served warm with ice-cream)

I'm thinking of adapting this for Christmas by adding a teaspoon of mixed spice or cinnamon & nutmeg to the flour but my husband really doesn't want me to do a single thing different!

Friday, 30 July 2010

The happy hooker...

One of the times that I am at my happiest is when I have a crochet hook in my hand, a large selection of yarn to freely dip into and the time to create something to the pattern that develops in my mind.... The "something" is usually of an amigurumi nature since the moments I have free are fleeting; I even have trouble enough fitting in the creation of these little toys!

My current work in progress is a set of dinosaurs for my son as a christmas present. T-rex is almost complete and Stegosaurus has been finished;

(sorry about the poor quality of this photo; taken on my phone)

Previous projects vary from the cute and fluffy like this baby bear;

and this rabbit;

to the slightly gruesome like Freddie the crochet zombie here;

in fact my first EVER crochet project was a zombie, who you can see in this blog post along with the farm animals that were Logan's Christmas present last year and the little doll that was one of Lyra's...
You see zombies could possibly be described as another "passion" for want of a better word... perhaps a slightly incongruous passion in my usually bright and colourful world! In fact I am planning on creating a miniature army of zombies, some of whom may make it to my Etsy Shop and, you never know, even go to new crochet-zombie loving homes!

until next time xxxxx

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

a few of my favourite things....

I LOVE baking and decorating cakes, there is something immensely satisfying about the process of creating a work of art that also tastes delicious....

Similarly I LOVE crochet, and by extention the sensory experience that is yarn - the colours and texture come in so many varieties there is always something new that I could choose...

This cake on the cakejournal blog is therefore the stuff that dreams are made of;

There are even instructions on how to make your very own; maybe I'll make myself a birthday cake this year! My own efforts in cake decorating haven't been half bad but aren't a patch on some of the gorgeous creations on that blog.

This is Lyra's birthday cake from this year.....

and this is Logan's....

see, not bad but I'm certainly not a pro!

Long time no type......

Well what do you think of the new-look blog? it's not changed that much and I'm hoping to make a few more changes shortly as I haven't got access to my photos at the moment... I've decided to just keep one blog running because I barely have time to post on either but am yet to decide which one to stick with!! I'm thinking this one as it has my recipes & patterns; I'll copy the bulk of the other into a document so I still have it as a diary of my babies if anything happens to it!

I'm now back at work, after almost 18 months off due to maternity leave & physical problems (acupuncture is MAGIC) and really happy to be back. Lyra and Logan are both growing and thriving (more on them later, they each deserve a post all of their own don't you think) and I'm shrinking and thriving... to date I have lost just 2lb shy of 4 stone since January of this year, mind boggling really!

Anyway ttfn; I will make more effort to post, though goodness knows when between everything I have going on and my evening exercising!!!!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

5-4-3-2-1.. Bake off!!!

This is my version of cupcakes, which I have found to reliably produce perfect cupcakes every time through a tireless process of elimination. The things I do for you! I'm inspired to post it because I bought some rather disappointing fairy cakes this morning at a coffee morning raising preschool funds... Eating cake is a big thing for me so this was a calamity. There are too many disappointing cakes out there; together we CAN make a difference ;0)

5oz softened butter or margarine
4oz self raising flour
3oz caster sugar
2 medium eggs at room temperature
1 level teaspoon baking powder
(see; 54321! Easy to remember)

You can replace 1/2oz of flour with cocoa powder for chocolate or add 1tsp of vanilla or almond extract to add extra flavour :0)

Preheat the oven to 150°C (yes I know it seems low, trust me I'm a proffessional)

Combine the butter/ margarine and sugar in a bowl until it looks light and creamy

Add the eggs, sift in the flour and baking powder and mix until just combined. It's better to have a little flour left than a stodgy, over mixed mixture.

Dollop the mixture into cake cases on a tray (I use silicone reusable ones) with a generous heaped teaspoonful of the batter in each so the case is half full; It should make 12-16 depending on case size. Bake in the middle of your oven for 20 minutes for SMALL cases (16 cakes) or 25 for larger cases (12 cakes : not muffin sized)

Cool on a cooling rack, add icing, melted chocolate or buttercream and TRY not to scoff the lot all at once :0)

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

A little mothers day brooch for my mum...

Etsy shop!!

Just a quick one as it's chaos here - I won't bore you with details & don't have time right now anyway!!

I've just set up a shop on Etsy and hope to list my first few items for sale over the next week or so so watch this space!!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Sun, sun, sun here we come...

March = spring = sunshine & flowers. I love springtime! If it weren't
for my sore hips & wiggly small children I'd be out in the garden all
day but I'm sure I can be for a while at least today...

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Fruity flapjack cookies

Sometimes a little Sunday afternoon baking is just what you need...
It's practically therapy. Lucy at Attic24 made some oaty cookies &
blogged about them today so that's all the nudging I needed... Here's
my own recipe; very much like flapjacks but a bit lighter...

Fruity flapjack cookies;

Preheat oven to 175*c

100g butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 generous tablespoon golden syrup
75g SR flour
100g porridge oats
1 tablespoon raisins
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
1 tablespoon chopped dried apricots

Gently warm the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan until the sugar
is melted (don't boil)
Add the flour, oats and dried fruit and mix until combined
Take a dessertspoon of the mixture at a time, squash into a slightly
round shape in your hands and flatten slightly onto a baking tray
Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly golden..

They are particularly yummy warm & keep for several days in a tin.
Enjoy :)

Friday, 19 February 2010

Soup, soup, glorious soup!!

Hello there, long time no Posting, here anyway :o)
My current crochet project is a cardigan for my daughter (1.5 sleeves
complete) and i have made a few little bits out of felt (a toadstool house, a toadstool fridge magnet and a heart keyring)but lately I have mostly been making soup... Soup, soup & more soup.

You see I am "properly" dieting for the first time since I was about 16 and my research has led me to the ultimate secret in losing weight; the humble vegetable soup. Very low calorie for the volume, packed with vitamins and keeping you satisfied for longer than you'd expect it is perfect for dieters, with the added bonuses of being relatively quick, very simple and freezeable! Scientifically speaking it really is the trick behind keeping yourself satisfied without eating more calories. The water (stock) bulks out the "solid" ingredients and, particularly if it is blended thoroughly with the other ingredients, stays mixed with it until it has left your stomach and entered your gut. I've lost a whole stone in just over 5 weeks eating homemade soup
for more than half of my main meals and cutting out junk.... Mostly anyway, I'm still having chocolate, cakes & biscuits but the trick is to see them as treats not a snack; for me anyway!

I make my soups up as I go but one of my favourite and most successful methods is roasting root vegetables with onion, garlic, a tablespoon of fat to coat them (if that!) and spices until they are soft and blending this with a good vegetable stock... Yummy! You can also simmer a few red lentils ub the stock & add them for some protein & texture. Here are some good combinations;

Parsnip, celerac and bramley apple
Carrot & root Ginger
Carrot & sweet potato with a little freshly squeezed orange juice
Sweet potato, carrot and squash with cinnamon
Parsnip with curry powder

On the hob soups are often a bit quicker but roasting enhances the natural sweetness of root vegetables & they can of course be just bunged in the oven & left so you can do more interesting things! A good base for hob-soups is to fry onion, celery and grated carrot until soft, add stock and the vegetables of your choice (try asparagus and sweet potato or tomato, courgette and garlic with tomato passata or tomato juice for added richness; yummy) simmer until soft and blend until the big lumps are gone...