Thursday, 22 November 2012

Christmas is on it's way!

Whoop Christmas is on it's way! My colleagues put up the Christmas tree today which was ordered from Homebase and got delivered yesterday. We aren't decorating it until next week, thank goodness! I think I would get bored of Christmas otherwise!

I have found a new website I like:

On Folksy I found lots of nice gifts, decorations and cards I would like to make. Although my only concern is that making these things can often come out being more expensive than buying them!

I love these felt decorations and the heart garland. Felt is so simple to work with and cheap.

I really like the birds and the reindeer!

Also I think this pop up card is cute and fairly simple.

Although how you would neaty cut the crinkles into the bottom I don't kneweven with crinkle sissors!

This card looks more achievable but again small details worry me like how to contro my machine well enough the mak ethe holly or the wiggle lines. I definatly would turn of the feeder.

My favourite decoration from the website however is this reindeer head made from willow!

Ho ho ho!

Only 32 days, 7 hours, 11 mins and 3 seconds until Christmas!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Amazon Addict

I have recently discovered the amazingly cheap goods on Amazon! I have purchased a phone case recently from there for the bargain price of £3 only to discover it didn't fit the screen protector underneath. I was pretty disheartened! So after buying a new more expensive case from a service station I took another look on Amazon. I ordered a phone sock  for a few quid :-) and all of my advent calender fillers for my other half. I also managed to get 5 back and front phone screen protectors for £1.30... now that is a bargain. Having seen them for £7+ in the past I was sure they didn't cost anywhere near that to produce and they are so disposable! Although a handy note is if you put it on and there is dust caught underneath, stick some sellotape on your fingers, lift up the protector and sellotape the dust away and lay it on again. Sorted! I managed to fix an ipad screen protector by sellotaping the whole thing!

A few years ago I made my other half an advent calender by sewing 25 mini stockings and writing numbers on them with fabric paint and then hanging them on a ribbon. Each one is about one and a half credit card lengths and slightly narrower than a credit card width. I normally put a few sweets or chocolate in each one, a sentimental script, whether a memory and a photo, a line or two from the Christmas story or a joke. I also put in a little gift every Sunday. I find it quite hard normally to find relevant gifts and keeping the total advent calender price under £20 but this year I have managed to get all of his presents before November had even started! All of the presents came from Amazon and they got delivered today. I am really impressed with them! Yay just the rest of my shopping to do now!

Thursday, 1 November 2012


Last night I decided to make crumpets! I was craving them all day and said this to my mum who said give it a go as my brother had had home made ones at Chatsworth last week and they were incredible! So I decided to drop in at Morrisons on the way home and buy some Egg/Crumpet rings. In the past I have tried an upturned cookie cutter but it wasn't so effective... lots of leakage.

the mix was simple, so flour, yeast, sugar, warm milk and cold water to get it started. I left it in the airing cupboard (I know the flavour wouldn't be as good for this but i was short of time) and cracked it out an hour later. It should have taken two hours at room temperature. I mixed in some bicarbonate of soda and some salt and left it a further 10 mins. 

while waiting I heated up my pan and greased up the rings. The first two I made were too big. I filled the rings three quarters full and the resulting crumpets were dense, and too big and i felt not cooked enough. So I decided to try another time only filling them about 2 cm full. This worked out perfectly. Holes appeared on the top and the bottom was well cooked but not burnt. They tasted lovely. I tried them this morning with butter and chocolate spread. I love the way that the butter oozes through the chocolate spread as it is cut into. They tasted amazing, the only complaint I can make is I can taste the bicarb. I don't think I put enough salt in (had to use a mill rather than fine salt which I had run out of) and maybe this effects the flavour of the bicarb? Either way I will probably use less bicarb next time so I cant taste it.

Nom nom!
My crumpet dough after rising

The crumpets cooking in the pan
The final yummy products

Monday, 29 October 2012

Gingerbread House

With the Christmas period being talked about, the shops putting their decorations up and the in laws discussing when we are to visit over Christmas I can't help but think about what my Christmas bakes will be this year! My husband has already jumped in with a suggestion of a yule log (something I was hoping to make anyway), however having watched the British Bake Off Gingerbread construction competition I have decided I shall master the art of making gingerbread houses. Now I never start with the basics...a mistake perhaps! So this year I do plan to practice by making my own house as a gingerbread look alike. Once I have mastered this I plan to make my family home out of gingerbread for Christmas. My Mum and Dad are hosting a big Christmas gathering for us and our Aussie family who are coming over for the first time in many years. There will be about 14 of us tops and so it would be a perfect time to crack out a beautiful gingerbread version of where Christmas is to be hosted! Mum and Dad live a beautiful barn conversion in Derbyshire which I can imagine being "cutified" for the purpose of baking!

I have been thinking about what I shall use for each component. Making the structure I can't imagine being too hard. I will take photos of each sections and roughly work out the ratio of height to length for each section of the house. What concerns me is what to make the roof tiles of... cereal, chocolate buttons, homemade biscuits. What about the windows? I could crack up hard boiled sweets and melt these in the oven in my gingerbread "window frames" to make see through windows, or perhaps I should I just paint on some white icing? What shall I bind the gingerbread with, icing or caramel?

What I have come to realise about this baking ambition is that my gingerbread houses are going to require much planning especially if I want a professional looking house rather than one of the instant pack houses from the supermarket!

Over-the-Top Gingerbread Houses: First Family Holiday House
I love the detail of this house but do not expect mine to look anywhere near as good as this one!
gingerbread house
This is simple and sweet, if mine looked like this I would be pleased.
This is one of my favorites, It is so sweet and beautifully done.
Again, another detaild gorgeous house, but I feel it is missing snow! I like the detailing of the wooden paneling the best. My parents home is made of large blocks of sandstone which I would like to think I could replicate.
Again, another one which captured my imagination for the detailed textures. Beautiful.
Unusual Gingerbread House 2
This one was the first one which made me want to do this. If I could make mine look as sweet and tidy as this one I would be pleased.
Mini Gingerbread House Recipe
If all else fails I will do a simple design like this sweet little house. I like the ice cream cones being used for trees.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Bread Plait 3 Strand

Today I had fun making three new things with my kitchen aid. I started with Chapatis to eat with lunch and for tomorrow at work. They turned out well although tougher than the ones I like. Better than last time I attempted them though. Then I made the dough for a three strand bread plait. I left it to rise then plaited it then left it to prove. I made it using honey and seed bread flour from our local farm shop. The only problem was when I put it into the oven and set the alarm on our new combo timer and thermometer device I forgot to press the start button after setting the time so my bread came out rather burnt having been in the oven for 30+ mins rather than 20. Oh well below is a picture of it looking gorgeous before I burnt it! After cutting the brown crust off the inner bread and base was still amazing!! I dipped it in oil and raspberry vinaigrette and Doug had his with Strawberry and Vanilla jam. I also helped Doug to make garlic pasta Doug in the kitchen aid. As a garlic fiend I couldn't resist the smell of the dough. Mmm!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Fishy fishy

Whoop my boss let me put a fish tank on my desk at work! I wanted to put our spare fish tank from home on there. I really didn't think he would say yes! I think he was more amused I had asked than anything else!! I have always wanted a fish tank at work! I have had sea monkeys at work before but that was as good as it got! Needless go say they were pretty boring to look at!

I work better when I feel at home in my environment. When I have to move desks or use someone else's desk I always struggle to settle into my work!

I set up my tank this morning and bought done sand (first time since we got out first gold fish a few years ago) and a new filter and two plants. I also bought 4 black phantom tetras to get the tank set up. The sand has made the water very cloudy but that will settle down by the end of the week!

When it is set up fully I would like to get a male Siamese fighter fish and a pleco.

Hollywood Bread Attempt 1.2

Yesterday when I got back from Swindon I cracked out (opened kindle app) the book I bought on bread making by Paul Hollywood. I decided as I had mozerella in the fridge which needed using up to try the mozerella and tomato bread. It was about like a focaccia just more dense with a crispier top. It was by no means a pretty bread but I did taste amazing. The dough scared me as it was so wet I didn't quite think I would be able to do much with it. but wow did It taste amazing. I sent Doug into work this morning with the bread filled with slices of mozzarella and large plum tomatoes and use butter to stop the liquid from the filling from making the bread soggy. Thinking about it I wish I had put pesto in there too. Oh well next time! I took some into work too and have been dipping it into olive oil and vinegar.

I had forgotten to add the last 1/4 of water first and got a tough dough scrapped it thus why this one is called version 1.2!!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Hollywood Style

Eeek! I am so excited to get home!

For the last two days I have been working from Swindon. Last night whilst sat in my hotel room on my lonesome I was watching Great British Bakeoff, one of my favourite programmes. After watching the breadmaking episode and watching the contestants battle with a delightful octopussy looking eight piece plait I decided I would like a go and improving my bread making skills.

I went onto the kindle sight and looked at reviews for Paul Hollywoods books. He has two out; 100 great breads and how to bake. The book 100 great breads had a lot of negative reviews so I decided to go for how to bake. Most of his recipes are breads rather than cakes which put me off initially. I checked the price on the ibooks apple store, it came up as £19.99 :-O and then I checked it on kindle, £7.99. No competition!

I have now downloaded the book and the recipes look amazing. My husband has volunteered himself as a willing taste tester not surprisingly as he loves all things bread related! So my new challenge is to have a go at baking some exciting breads! I cant wait to get home and get started.

Friday, 7 September 2012

First use of kitchen aid

Last night I used my kitchen aid for the first time. The first thing I made was focaccia bread. My husband loves focaccia bread so thy is why I chose this! I divided the dough into three. The first two dough sections I turned into normal focaccia bread with rosemary and salt topping. The final one I experimented with and decided to make a stuffed focaccia. I used mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes in the middle and my goodness did it taste good! It was meant to be for Dougs lunch today but we ended up eating it warm alongside our dinner or truffle butter and pasta which we bought back from Italy. Interestingly I made two lots of truffle butter. The first batch I put into a plastic Tupperware tub and the second one I rolled into a cylindrical shape in some grease proof paper and left both in the fridge. Whilst I was away on honeymoon the one in the Tupperware tube became mouldy but the one in paper was fine. I have also experimented making truffle oil before but I found that the truffle went a little furry after a few weeks so the truffle butter in paper seems to be the best way to preserve the truffles once the tub is opened.

The second thing I made using my kitchen aid was the layer cake I saw online. It turned out less pretty than the one online but tasted good. I made a few changes including using delia smiths recipe, making white chocolate icing and putting raspberry jam on between every layer. I found my cake leaned a little. It wasn't so bad for a first attempt at a multi layer cake but I would definitely want it to be neater next time!!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Plans of my first cake

I am planning what cake to make first with my trusty side kick. I have always wanted to do a cake with more than two layers and I quite fancy something colourful. At first I thought about a Battenburg as my colleague really loves them. However now I think I will make this cake as it just looks so cute!

It is a Martha Stewart pastel layer cake

I will leave the Battenburg for another day!

My New Sidekick

Doug and I decided whilst we were away on our honeymoon that we wanted a new TV and a Kitchen Aid so that we could get rid of all of the kitchen gadgets and replace it with one mighty gadget!! So yesterday with John Lewis vouchers in hand we headed over the the kitchen section of John Lewis. I fell for a metallic blue kitchen aid. She is beautiful and has been named Betty Blue! Doug is a big pasta fan so we also bought the pasta cutter extension and the vegetable and fruit grinder box set. A lot of money later we walked away what looked like the kitchen department of John Lewis and frazzled expressions!! I am a little dubious of our kitchen aid as it cost the same as I spent on my wedding dress. Don't panic, my dress was relatively cheap for a wedding dress but still this is a lot of money to hand over for a kitchen instrument. I hope that it's benefits and uses are worth the costs!! Tonight I want to make my other half some focaccia using the kneading hook!

Thursday, 30 August 2012


So, Mr E and I got hitched last week. The weather held out for us thank goodness and other than my Grandpa collapsing whilst we signed the register and getting an ambulance called out for him all was ok. After an ECG he was left to enjoy the rest of the day in the hotel bed. The wedding reception was great fun. My old sixth form friends turned up as did my best friend from when I lived in London. Everyone's speeches were great and the guests enjoyed Mr E's bouncy castle!
A success.

Ok in the end I didn't sew my own dress or the bridesmaids. The most action my machine saw was sewing the order of services together. I did however manage to sew in the day when my dress got ripped twice (just the button hole holding the train up)!

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Sunday, 5 February 2012


Happy snowy Sunday! After a failed attempt at preparing for a job interview for next week i decided that i needed a few hours of sewing. I decided to embark on drafting the dress pattern for one of my bridesmaids. The last dress I made was a little small I think for the measurements I had taken although I think I may have gone the other way now! I am using New Look 6776 view D, currently I am on the toile version.

I laid out the dress to photograph and Nala decided to sprawl all over it as I had been ignoring her whilst I sewed!

This is the front of the dress without Nala on it!

And this is the back of the dress.

So now I have finished the toile and need to visit Beka to see whether it fits all I can do now is get back to interview prep. Yawwwnnn.

Oh well I guess I can't sew all day long. Instead I'll sit t my desk with this view :-) trying to articulate why I should have a job I would love, finding relevant examples for the job. I'll keep you posted! Enjoy the snow xx

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Shopping Trip

Today I met with Beka to chose her bridesmaid dress pattern and get some calico to make her toile dress.

We chose the New Look 6776 pattern using view D, a V-neck dress with sash. It looks lovely so I can't wait to start sewing. I treated myself to new scissors as mine are as blunt as anything. I bout really posh ones so hopefully they will a pleasure to use. I also bought myself some more oil for my machine as I haven't oiled it since I got it in 2008. I bought some carbon paper as when making toiles I need some coloured carbon paper but on opening it, the sheets are only A4 size... I am gutted! At least I bought 2 packs. Time to edit the pattern....


Doug proposed to me last October and we have decided to get married in August this year as it is quite a turning point in our lives. My contract at work runs out and I need a new job and Doug finishes university. We thought as we have been living together for a while it would be nice to get married this year. I have always wanted to make my own wedding dress but I don't have enough confidence in my sewing skills so think it is best to buy the dress. I was planning on buying my bridesmaid dresses too that was until we went shopping for them! I have two bridesmaids and both a very different shapes and sizes and personalities. So to make dresses which fit both beautifully I thought I might try to sew them. I am meeting Beka today in Nottingham to choose a pattern. First I want to try making the dress in calico or similar then I want to perfect it and eventually I will either make the real thing or make her a summer dress in floral fabric first before going onto the real dress. We shall see how confident I am feeling.

I am really looking forward to choosing the pattern with her. It'll be great fun giving her a dress that fits well. Hopefully she will like it :-)

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