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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Going (a little more) natural...

Apart from the rather large consumption of cake I think I eat pretty healthily...but I find that it's so easy to get stuck in a food rut, and what was initially tasty and different becomes a bland repeat of yesterday(and the day before that)'s lunch. For a while now I have been wanting to incorporate some more variety into my diet, especially if it means I find some healthy alternatives to satisfy my ridiculous sweet tooth. Here's a few recipes from around the web that I've tried and loved so far:

- Almond and Rosemary Crackers from Elana's Pantry. Whilst not perhaps the cheapest way to make crackers these were really tasty with some salsa.
- Granola Bars from Sincereley Kinsey. A completely healthy sweet snack that actually tastes quite nice? Yes please! Whilst I'll never be able to convince myself that these are flapjacks, they were far better than I was expecting - I used apricots and walnuts for my fruit and nut additions. Next time I think I'll add in an extra banana to make them a little more moist.
- Date Honey from Brewed Together. This is my favourite find so far...I am not exaggerating when I say that this has transformed my porridge experience! Porridge was something I endured whilst repeating the mantra 'it's good for you' but add in a spoonful of this completely natural sweetener and I can't get enough of the stuff!
- Almond milk - So the granola bars called for almond milk and since I had some almonds lying around I figured why not have a go at making it...I used the rest of it to make a delicious smoothie by blending it with a banana and a handful of spinach.

I have no intention of cutting out sugar completely, I feel cake and healthy living can be friends, but I would love to work towards cake being more of a treat than my first choice whenever the hunger pangs you have any tasty snacks ideas? I'd love to hear them!

Here's an interesting article on the health benefits of nuts I found over at Good Food (if you're interested)...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Hello Sun! and make your own peg bag....

So this weekend the British public ventured out of hibernation to enjoy the glorious sunshine...and, wow, it actually feels like Spring might just be on it's way! Although we currently only have one lone Snowdrop in our garden we went to a local National Trust place which was overflowing with Snowdrops, Helebores and...ummm....loads of other flowers. It was so good to just get outside into the sunshine!

This got me thinking that I might be able to start hanging our clothes out to dry outside soon. Now, I know, drying clothes isn't a very exciting topic to talk about with you guys but stay with me for a moment...because that then got me thinking that I should find a home for my recently purchased pegs -and so began my adventures in making the peg bag I want to share with you today!

Initially I never intended to make a house. It was going to be a nice little neat square using two different cherry fabrics that I collected long ago. But then I wondered how I would hang it and a coat hangar seemed like the most obvious option...but, you know, a coat hangar was going to distort that 'neat little square' (which  was unrealistic in itself because I never sew anything that is actually neat) so I decided to change up the shape and I figured if something is going to look like a house, well, why not make it one?

This is so simple and you can decorate it to your hearts content. I thought about adding in some picket fencing but it takes me so long to embroider that I was happy to settle for two windows and a door!

1. Firstly cut out a triangle and square for the roof and main body of the house. Pin right sides together and sew together.

2) Next cut out your decorations. Be creative! Decide where you want them to go and either secure with a couple of little stitches or Wonder Web. Then grab your embroidery thread and sew round the edges however you like.

3) Grab the fabric for the back of the bag. Using the house shape as a template, draw around it, adding an extra 10cm to the bottom. Cut out, and cut the fabric into two pieces (you want the top half to be the biggest).

4) Hem the sides that you have just created, these will be the opening to the bag.

5) Next lay the fabrics right side together and pin (make sure you place the larger of the two backing fabric on first). Sew the fabric together by starting and finishing at the centre of the roof, leaving a 1cm gap for the coat hangar. Turn the right way out and press.

6) The bag will distort when pegs are put in so I recommend adding a button to hold the shape. I just made a really simple loop to hook round the button.

7) Unless you have made a really big bag then you will have to cut the hangar down to size! Take the coat hangar and saw the ends off. Use the sandpaper to sand down any sharp edges.

8) Feed through the little hole in to top of the bag and you're finished!

 Now come on warm weather so I can put my new peg bag to use!

How would you decorate yours?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

D.I.Y. felt bow...

So remember in my last post I mentioned about my crafting plans for my Sunday ended up being more about picking apart a skirt and dreaming up what to do with the material while getting completely engrossed in the rugby! But I did have a crafty Tuesday (I love working part-time!) using said material and also sewing up a peg bag...more to come in the next week or so on these. For now I thought I would continue sharing the hair accessories I made for my niece for Christmas...if you haven't seen the previous posts then here's how to make a trio of felt flowers and a double lace hairband. Today I'm talking bows. I loved bows and frills as a little girl...rejected them as a teen (my ribbons were firmly glued to my ripped up flares)...and am now totally back on the bow band wagon - just maybe not in pink.

So here's a really easy way to make a cute felt bow...

All you need are:
Strong glue (or needle and thread)

1. Firstly cut out a piece of felt which thins in the middle and edges (see photo below but think comedy moustache).

2) Fold the ends into the middle and glue.

3) Next cut the ends of your bow by cutting out a wide 'U' shape.

4) Glue this to the middle of your bow (it doesn't matter what side)

5) Then finally wrap a thin piece of felt around the middle and glue at the back.

And voila! a pretty bow to use however you desire. I glued mine to hair clips...let me know what you do with yours :)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How to make: a double lace headband

I didn't get round to posting this earlier in the week so here's a little read for your Sunday. I mentioned in a previous post that I made my niece a collection of pretty hair accessories for Christmas. To be honest when I made this lace head band, I really wanted to be making it for myself! Since it was made to fit a two year old's head I couldn't even model the final outcome with the excuse of 'it's for the good of the blog'. Making my own version is definitely on my to do list for 2013. I found the lace I used a bit of a pain because it frayed SO easily, which was the main reason I ended up wrapping an additional piece of lace around the join to try to reduce the amount of fraying as much as possible. But it did also result in a much tidier finish!

On another note, I had a go at making a step by step photo guide...let me know what you think of the tutorial!

The measurements I've given allow for a 2cm overlap of lace and elastic on each side to create a headband that is 1cm smaller than the measured head width. If the lace you choose doesn't fray as easily then a smaller seam would be fine, so just adjust as needed.

I hope you all have a lovely, lazy Sunday. After Church I'm planning a day of crafting and rugby (watching not playing - come on England!)...hopefully I'll be able to share my crafting ventures with you later this week.

Happy Sunday!

Monday, February 4, 2013

How to make your own: pomegranate molasses

Once upon a time I experienced a salad which eclipsed all salads that I had ever eaten or, in fact, have ever eaten since. In fact I didn't know salad could be so delicious. Now there's a chance that over the course of three years since eating said salad that my memory has slightly exaggerated my tasting experience but trust me, it was good!

There's just one problem.

I have no idea what made it so good.

It was made by someone I worked with for only a very brief amount of time and all I knew was that the dressing was made using something her boyfriend had brought back from visiting relatives in Lebanon.

Well guys, I think I now know what that something is...pomegranate molasses! Oh I'm so hoping it is so that I can recreate the delicious mouthwatering salad that I would almost give up chocolate (but not fresh bread) for. Wow in writing that sentence I just realised that I really would prefer to give up chocolate over fresh bread...although that might purely be because my sugar cravings have just been satisfied with a giant cookie or three.

Anyways...back to pomegranate molasses. In my January subscription of Good Food, there was an intriguing recipe for sweet and sour ribs in which pomegranate played a dominant role. Whilst we weren't completely overwhelmed by the end results (my quest for the perfect ribs please send any favourite recipes you have my way!), I loved the pomegranate molasses recipe that they supplied alongside the rib recipe. So I thought it would be mean to not share this delicious syrupy goodness with you :)

If you're wondering what pomegranate molasses are or how you might be able to use it then there's a great article over at Food 52 which has some great recipe ideas (including a salad dressing!).

Homemade pomegranate molasses
Source: Good Food Magazine (Feb 2013)

800ml pomegranate juice
Juice of 1&1/2 lemons
5tbsp caster or granulated sugar

1) Add all ingredients to a deep frying pan over medium-high heat

2) Bring to the boil and simmer until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid has reduced to a syrup consistency, The original recipe suggest this will take 15 minutes but I found it took about 30 minutes. It will yield approximately 175ml syrup. Keep an eye on the mixture as if you over boil it, it will thicken up quickly and burn.

It is such a simple recipe and I found it a lot easier than trying to find the bottled version in my local shops :)

I'm off to try to recreate that long dreamt of salad...Happy Monday!
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