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Monday, June 25, 2012

Back from holiday...

We got back on Friday from ten days in Croatia. It was amazing - full of sun, sea and...waaay too much ice cream (can there ever be too much?). We move in just two months now (eek!) so we wanted to take a break before the chaos starts and before my husband goes back to being a full time student (hello future rain filled british hols).  I came home with a minimal tan but a head buzzing with loads of new craft ideas.

I wouldn't exactly call myself the queen of to-do lists but they're pretty much a necessity in my life in order to get things done. Mainly because I am the queen of procrastination. I have one notebook which is my go to for all things - which is great because it reduces the potential for me losing things (a frequent event) but it also means I hardly ever end up doing what ever it is that I originally went to the book for. Andrew is forever commenting on my 'trail' - I tend to just drop things right there and then when I think of something else I could/should do.

So to record all my new ideas I decided to dedicate a whole notebook just to the blog. Did I use the pile of notebooks I've yet to discover a role for? Of course not! I made one instead...hmmm maybe that procrastination just reared it's head again.

I won't do a tutorial for this because I followed a fantastic one over at curiously crafty. The only changes I made to the original tutorial is that I just glued the fabric on the inside edges to avoid it affecting the outer appearance - and I prettied it up by adding ribbon before gluing the inside cover.

These would make great gifts and I won't ever be buying notebooks again - that pile of unused notebooks will probably never get a look in either now :)

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Brown butter and vanilla loaf cake...

So me and brown butter are still firm friends. And this beautiful loaf cake has only gone and made an even bigger space in my heart for the delicious butter. Yet again I have How Sweet Eats to thank for this delicious recipe.

Have I mentioned that I will have pantry in my new house? By pantry I mean a little cupboard with shallow shelves just waiting to be filled with baking goodies...I can't wait! It's a little strange how much I love having nicely organised kitchen me I'm not organised in any other aspect of life. But I've had just one cupboard for all food for the last two years so a pantry is really quite an exciting thing for me...even if it is just a glorified second cupboard!

Brown butter and vanilla loaf cake


170g butter
3 eggs, beaten
3tbsp milk
1tbsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, scraped
190g plain flour
150g granulated sugar
1tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

1) First brown the butter. Melt the butter in a saucepan and bring to boil. Stir continuously until brown bits form on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Transfer to the fridge and leave until it just begins to set but is still very soft (approx 20 minutes).

2) Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius.

3) Mix the eggs, milk, vanilla bean and extract until well combined.

4) In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, flour, salt and baking powder. Add the butter and mix until well incorporated.

5) Gradually add in the egg mixture, mixing well after each addition.

6) Line the loaf tin and fill until 3/4 full. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden on top. Leave to cool for 10 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack.

Vanilla glaze


60g butter
1tsp vanilla extract
160g icing sugar
2-3tbsp milk

1) Brown the butter as explained above. Leave to cool but do not refrigerate.

2) Combine the sugar, butter and vanilla extract in a bowl until a paste forms.

3) Gradually add the milk, mixing well after each addition until you're happy with the consistency.

4) Spread over the top of the loaf cake.

Serving suggestion : strawberries are delicious with this :)

I know this recipe seems like a little more effort due to having to wait for the butter to cool but I can't emphasis enough that it is really worth it. My husband doesn't particularly like loaf cakes but he loved this.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

D.I.Y. fabric flower hair accessory...

A friend of mine was in need of a pretty hair grip to match her dress for a wedding (in Italy no less - not that I'm jealous) so I decided to have a go at making a flower. Along the way I decided to add in the tulle leaves. I've been wanting to try machine embroidery for sometime and this was the perfect time to try it out.

I was inspired by Emily Rose over at Simply Vintage Girl for the method of making the flower. I was initially concerned about the edges fraying so the method of burning the fabric was perfect as it seals the edges as well as giving a lovely effect.


1) Cut out 5 circles from the satin fabric, each one smaller than the last. Make sure you cut them slightly larger (approx 1/2") than you want them to be when finished as burning the edges will reduce the size.

2) Cut 4 - 5 lines into each of the circles and then snip the corners of each to create a soft flower shape.

3) I don't have a photo of this next step, I was alone in the house at the time and I'm too attached to my fingers to try to take a photo while hovering very close over a flame...but here's a picture of the tealight :)

Move each of the circles over the flame. Move it fairly quickly to avoid the fabric discolouring. For this stage I used tweezers to hold the fabric for extra safety (I'm not sure how old you are but if you're young make sure an adult helps you with this). This is what you should end up with.

4) Add the pieces of fabric together and either hold or pin secure whilst you sew them together. Make sure you secure the thread first.

5) Once you're happy that the layers are secure, do not cut the thread. Thread one bead and sew to secure, and then repeat with the other beads. Then tie the thread to secure and cut.

6) Set the flower to one side. This was my first time attempting machine embroidery. I had a little read around and it was recommended to use a tear away stabiliser with fine fabric - unfortunately I couldn't track this down in any local stores! A benefit of this would also be that you could trace the pattern on to the stabiliser. Without that I went free hand and to be honest didn't have any issues.

Cut out a section of tulle and fit to the embroidery hoop. Place on the sewing machine (this meant me removing both the needle and foot to initially get the hoop under!).

Secure the thread and then slowly sew your pattern. I went over each leaf three times to thicken the line. Once you have finished the pattern back stitch to secure. Cut the pattern out, leaving about 1/2cm of tulle around the edge. Lightly dot thread with clear nail varnish to further secure the thread (be careful not to go onto the tulle as this will clog up the material).

7) Add glue to the base of the flower and secure the tulle. Then cut out a small circle of felt and glue over the base of flower and leaf.

Mine is the wrong way round as I was initially just trialling this flower and then decided it would be perfect with the addition of the embroidery :)

8) This could be turned into a number of things but I wanted to make a hair accessory so I simply glued a hair grip to the back and voila!

I hope you all enjoy making your beautiful flowers, I can't wait to see how this looked with my friends outfit. I'm planning on making this in a number of colours to adorn my summer wardrobe!

Monday, June 11, 2012

A taste of summer...

So I have been scoffing these for quite a while to help invoke that summer feeling that the weather hasn't quite been able to provide! But I adore frozen snacks and smoothies in the summer time so I thought I'd share with you three refreshing treats that I'm loving this year.

Now this could serve two but I can easily down this with no help at all. I adore smoothies, they are so refreshing and so healthy. I love the combo of mango with pineapple.

What you need:
1 handful of fresh pineapple
1 1/2 handfuls of frozen mango
Approx. 150ml orange juice

What you do:
1) Add all ingredients to your smoothie maker and blend. Just add more orange juice if the smoothie is too thick for you, I personally love a good slushy smoothie :) It's just worth making sure your smoothie maker/blender can handle ice/frozen food.

(Adapted from Delicious Shots)
What you need:
1 cup fresh orange juice (approx. 3 oranges)
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
zest of one orange
4 cups of strawberries and blueberries (defrost if using frozen fruit)
1-2 tbsp vodka (optional)

What to do:
1) Bring the sugar, orange juice and water to the boil, stir until the sugar has dissolved.
2) Add the berries and zest and boil for 8 - 10 minutes.
3) Blend the mixture until smooth (I used a soup blender)
4) Pass through a fine sieve to remove seeds and zest. At this point add the vodka if you wish. This isn't because I'm an alcoholic but to help keep the sorbet soft in the freezer!
5) Leave the mixture to cool and then freeze in the ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer instructions.

I love frozen yoghurt, I especially love the ease of just dropping a tub of yoghurt into the icecream maker and see it transform in no time to a delicious pudding. I saw this idea on Pinterest (inspired by one good thing by Jilly) and it looked too good to miss. Yoghurt becomes slightly bitter when it freezes so you might want to add a little sugar to taste.

What you need:
Yoghurt (approx 1/2 a large tub makes one tray of drops)
Sugar or honey to taste

What to do:
1) Line a baking tray with clingfilm.
2) Fill a medium plastic bag with yoghurt. Secure the top and cut a small corner out of the bottom.
3) Squeeze drops of the yoghurt onto the baking tray
4) Flatten the drops with the back of a spoon if needed.
5) Freeze for 1-2 hours and then transfer to tub. Keep frozen during storage.

What are your favourite summer snacks?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Have a...

I know I don't normally post on the weekend but I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend. I know some people think this weekend is over-rated but, you know, I love being British and I love that the royal family is part of our heritage!

I'm pretty excited about the Diamond jubilee and loved the flotilla...shame about the rain, the poor choir at the end - they were drenched! I thought the Queen looked beautiful though, congratulations to her on reigning for an impressive 60 years.

I'm actually working over the next two days (I work in a hospital) but we're sneaking in an afternoon tea for our patients on Tuesday so I might manage to catch a little bit of the action in the parade.

Whatever you're doing, have a great few days and I hope the sun comes out for you!
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