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Friday, September 27, 2013

D.I.Y. jewellery travel storage...

I wouldn't say I lose things...I just temporarily 'mis-place' things. A lot. I always seem to be wondering where at least one pair of my earrings are...and nearly always they are tucked away in a pocket of one of my bags. Then last week I had to untangle a couple of necklaces which I had forgotten were in my I decided it was time for action and these travel sized jewellery holders were born.

Whether you're going away overnight and want to pack light, or maybe you need an outfit change after work, these jewellery holders give a secure way of carrying your jewellery around. I'm looking forward to not having to search out the odd earrings that I come across in my bag!

My favourite holder is the card holder. I think this will be the most long standing one as the extra layers of decorative card make it stronger than the washi tape holder. I like how quick it was to make the washi tape holder though!

Here's the necklace holder first...

1. Cut out a rectangle of card (I used an old cereal box) and two equal rectangles of the decorative card. Cover the whole surface of one side of the plain card with a thin layer of glue and stick the decorative card to it. Repeat on the other side of the card. Leave to dry and then trim around the whole rectangle, this will give a neater edge.

2) Cut two small triangles in to each end of the card (these will hold the necklace in place).

3) Now you just need to glue the ribbon to the card. I initially meant to glue the ribbon under one of the decorative cards but this would have prevented me from trimming around the whole of the card so I glued the ribbon to the centre of one side of the card and covered it with a bird cage (optional). Allow enough ribbon to wrap around the front and back so that the necklace is held securely to the card.

And now for the washi tape earring holder...

1. Cut out a small rectangle of thin card. Wrap strips of washi tape around the card until fully covered. (If the card is patterned then you may want to glue plain paper to the card before fixing the tape to it to prevent the pattern showing through).

2. Use a push pin to create holes in the card.

And that's it! I think these would also be a lovely way to present home made jewellery as a gift.

Which one is your favourite? And please tell me I'm not the only one who loses jewellery in the depths of their bag?!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Viennese fingers...

I remember when I was little standing in awe of the bakery section in the supermarket...I mean, all those cakes! When I was small I would always go for the meringue (which if I remember rightly was in the shape of a mouse), but as I grew older I veered for something even sweeter and sicklier than a meringue...Viennese fingers. With their soft buttery biscuit dipped in chocolate sandwiching a thick layer of buttercream...well it was perfect my uber-sweet tooth.

I decided last week that it was time to bring these bad boys to my kitchen. We were having a leaving lunch at work so it was the perfect time to whip up a batch of these sweet delights from Rachel Allan's Bake book. She suggested pairing them with either butter icing or buttercream icing. Since I had never made buttercream before I decided to have a go at that. Whilst it was really tasty, I found the buttercream melted really easily so I would suggest considering butter icing if you're going to be transporting the biscuits around! 

Another note: the biscuit dough was much stiffer than a previous recipe I had tried so you will need a pretty big piping nozzle to pipe it onto the trays (she suggests 1-1.5cm). I attempted with my largest nozzle but ended up just cutting a hole in my piping bag to enable me to pipe!

Viennese fingers (from Bake)

Ingredients -
110g butter, softened
50g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
25g cornflour
Pinch of salt
For the buttercream icing -
75ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)
65g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
85g butter, softened
1/2tsp vanilla extract

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius and line a baking tray.

2) Cream the butter in a bowl until soft. Sift in the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

3) Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract until combined.

4) Sift in the flours and salt and beat until a combined.

5) Spoon the dough into a piping bag and pipe the biscuit onto the tray in small fingers. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes, until pale golden brown. Leave to cool for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely

*This is where I 'fess up and admit I totally forgot about my biscuits when they were in the oven, they got way over 15 minutes, but nothing a bit of trimming of the ends could fix! They were still so soft to eat :)*

6) To make the buttercream icing: Add the milk and sugar to a saucepan and bring  to a gentle boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Whisk the egg yolk in a small bowl and pour the milk onto the yolk, whisking continuously. Return the mixture to the pan and heat over a low-medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the custard thickens (it should coat the back of a spoon). Stir continuously. Make sure the heat isn't too high or the custard may curdle. Set this aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile whisk the butter in a bowl until soft and light. Gradually pour in the cooled custard, whisking throughout. Add the vanilla extract and whisk to combine.

7) Melt 100g chocolate and dip one end of each finger into the chocolate, using a knife to neatly spread the chocolate on the biscuits. Leave to set on a wire rack.

8) Next sandwich the fingers together with the icing (you could also add a thin layer of jam).

This recipe made 7 paired Viennese fingers.

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gold beaded necklace (2 ways)...

It feels a while since I shared a jewellery project. I actually made these while it was warm enough for me to sit outside in the garden and bask in the sunshine while crafting away...they were good days :) I didn't share them straight away as I intended to buy some end caps to finish off the plaited necklace and bracelet...however I'm yet to still order them and, lets face it, I probably never will get round to it so I thought I should share them anyway!

I have a distinct lack of gold in my jewellery collection. It's something my teenage self would have been very happy about as back then I firmly believed it to be old fashioned, However it has grown on me over the years and these days I might even choose gold over silver. Most of the gold jewellery I have are statement pieces so I wanted to create something a little simpler for everyday wear. I ended up making two necklaces and a bracelet. Unfortunately I completely neglected to take any photos of the process but they're pretty self explanatory! Here's what I came up with...

What you need: Beads, embroidery thread, scissors, needle and thread, safety pin

1) Cut three equal lengths of thread and tie them together in a knot. Attach this to the safety pin and feed this through your trouser leg (obviously optional but it holds the thread taught).

2) Tightly plait the thread until it is the length you desire and tie another knot to secure.

3) Feed one strand of embroidery thread through the needle and feed the beads onto the thread. Repeat this for the other two strands (I did 11, 15, 17 beads). If, like me, your bead is too small to fit over the eye of the embroidery needle then select a thinner needle and feed thread through the eye of the needle. Tie both ends of the thread together and loop the embroidery thread through it.

4) Now you just need to make each strand slightly longer than the last and then tie in a knot to secure.

5) Then plait the remaining embroidery thread and secure with a knot. Trim the ends.

If you're more organised than me then attach end caps, otherwise secure with a bow!

Here's the bracelet that I made with exactly the same technique...

The second necklace I made is so easy it really doesn't require step by step instructions! It is very similar to the first necklace as I'm using pretty much the same beads (I mixed some slightly smaller and darker beads into this one) and thread. But sometimes all I want is a simple line of beads to finish off an outfit...and this is perfect for those occasions.

Cut the embroidery thread to the length you desire, allowing for extra thread to tie a bow to secure. Feed the beads onto the thread with the technique above and tie a knot about 3" from each end of the thread. Feed a bead onto each end of the thread and tie a knot to secure each of these. Trim the ends.

I love the mix of the soft thread with the metallic beads...let me know if you try it out!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The time has come...

I have been wanting to learn to knit on and off for years. My main problem is my ability to concentrate on long(er) term projects...if I don't see results quickly I tend to lose focus! BUT I'm determined that this time is the time that I finally learn to knit.

So today I took myself down to Hobbycraft and then proceeded to stand cluelessly in front of the vast array of knitting needles (so many sizes!)...and then I tried to call my Mum! Alas she wasn't in, and there were no free assistants to quiz, so I picked a pair of needles at random and figured how wrong could it go?!

Today is grey and rainy in Cambridge so it's the perfect afternoon to curl up in my pjs and attempt (yet again) to master the art of knitting...wish me luck!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Make your own chocolate cups...

I made these right back at the beginning of August...we had just got back from a long drive home after holiday and felt in need of a chocolate pick-me-up. I've wanted to make chocolate cups ever since seeing this delicious looking hot chocolate on Pinterest...however I settled on filling mine with the slightly more practical option of chocolate mousse!

For 2 chocolate cups:
1. Melt 100g white chocolate, set aside.
2. Blow up two balloons to the desired size (keep them small to maintain the bowl shape)
3. Dip the balloons repeatedly into the melted chocolate to build up the chocolate shell.
4. Set onto a lined tray/plate and chill until set.
5. Pop the balloon and gently pull away from the chocolate shell.

I filled mine with far too much chocolate mousse (well it was fine for me but my husband doesn't have the same skill in packing away chocolate!). I used a super easy recipe from The Big Book of Chocolate...

1 egg white
5tbsp caster sugar
100g dark chocolate
125ml double cream

1. Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool
2. Whip the cream to soft peaks
3. In a separate bowl whisk the egg white until the soft peak stage. Gradually add the sugar, continuing to whisk until the peaks are thick and shiny.
4. Use a metal spoon to fold in the chocolate and cream.
5. Divide between the two cups and refrigerate for 30 minutes before devouring serving.

I hope you enjoy having a go at your own chocolate cups!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Feeling cosy...

With the weather feeling distinctly autumnal today my only plan for this afternoon is to cosy up with my chai, macarons (baked by my fabulous friend Lizzie) and three magazines that I picked up when I was supposed to just be going to collect some bread...these sort of impulse buys are my favourite :)

I am already in love with the Japanese themed crafts in Making and I can't wait to explore Mollie Makes for the first time! I know, where have I been all this time?! And hey I got a knitting magazine thrown in for free so I may as well drool over the beautiful patterns and pretend I know how to knit.

Happy Monday!
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