Saturday, 26 March 2011

Cake Days

Everyone loves cake, especially me! Some people only like to eat cake, but I like to make it too! And, what better book of recipes than the NEW one from The Hummingbird Bakery 'Cake Days' arrived on my doorstep last week and I instantly started pouring over the gorgeous pics and recipes!!

The first cake I made was the Coffee and Chocolate Loaf and it's scrummy

We ate it all before I remembered to take a pic, but it looked just like the one in the book!

The next cake on my to bake list is the Chocolate Guinness Cake:

I will also be making cupcakes so I can master the Hummingbird frosting style which I have lusted after for quite a while! And as soon as I lay my hands on some Marshmallow Fluff, I shall be making Whoopie Pies : )

This book is one of my top faves already! With no less than 100 recipes in it, I have a lot of baking in my future! Happy days! And, Cake Days is a great title, cos every day should be a Cake Day!

See how much bigger the new book is compared to the first one?!

Read my thoughts on The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook here.

Friday, 25 March 2011

WIP: Granny Squares

In previous posts I've mentioned my new delight in crochet. Well I thought I'd update on my progress.

I have gone from this:

to this:

in a relatively short time!

I think I've decided to make a small blanket with these, so I need many more but I'm making good progress. I think these two colours go really well together. And although they are the same pattern, they look quite different in the other colour combination.

I shall have a good chance to get more squares done at the weekend during a long car journey. Just hoping it doesn't make me feel car sick... and no, I won't be driving while crocheting, that would be dangerous.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Vintage Sewing Box to the rescue!

As my sewing adventure continues, I'm accummulating more and more supplies. You know the kind of thing, multiple pairs of scissors, pins, needles, cotton thread, buttons etc etc. My lovely pink sewing box is not too small for my burgeoning collection, and some of the larger items have migrated to a white gift bag.

A few weeks ago while stitching up some tea cosies, I resolved to find a larger home for all my tools. The next day I went to a crochet workshop which was held in a vintage homeware shop. On the way out after the class, what should I see but this!

A vintage sewing box!! I instantly had a 'love it, want it' moment and purchased it immediately. Sewing box, oh how I love thee, let me count the ways...

Now, I don't really like wood of this colour, but for this I make an exception. It is in perfect condition and all is needs is a prettier set of wheels and some new drawer liners and it will be perfect.

It's actually huge inside and will be big enough to house all my sewing praraphenalia which means I can still use the pink box for the essentials, and have a bit more order so everything is to hand when I need it. 

Squeak also likes the new sewing box!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Old biddies, trolleys and Mr X Stitch

At the weekend, I went to the Stitch and Craft Show at Olympia, and was amazed at how busy it was. There were women everywhere! I say women, there were some men there too but they were greatly outnumbered (my Hubby was one of them, bless him but we did go to the Dr Who exhibition afterwards to make up for it).

I was prepared for it to be busy and I was also prepared to queue for the 'good' stalls, but I was not prepared for the sheer desperation some of those women to be at the front of the queue. OMG, let me tell you there was some serious elbowing, shoving and pushing going on, and who were the worst culprits? The little old ladies. I tell you, never underestimate an old biddy. There were loads of women (young and old) with granny trolleys which really did not help the situation. One woman even had a wheelie suitcase big enough for a family of 4 to use for a month's holiday! What she was doing with it, I don't know but I lost count of the number of  times I got run over by said suitcase, I just could not get away from this woman...

The stalls were quite varied but I was disappointed in the lack of 'show discounts' which you usually get at these events. I was expecting mega cheap prices for supplies etc but was kinda disappointed. This meant that all I bought was a 6mm crochet hook, and a pair of fabulous bag handles. Yeah, I know 'last of the big spenders'!! The fabric stalls were fab but pricey and my local shop stocks the same at about £3 cheaper, and it's all about the price these days.

You can't really tell from the picture but they are clear plastic with silver glitter, and they are right up my street! I've no idea what I'm going to do with them but they were a bargainous price so just had to have them esp as they were the last pair!

I also met Mr X Stitch (he's The Man when it comes to cross stitch) and saw his gallery of cross stitch projects contributed to by his fellow stitchers. These were fabulous and a bit off the wall which is what's so fab about them. My fave was the one with a big seagull that said 'I like boobies'. Totally random! Check out the Mr X Stitch Facebook page for some great pics of these mini masterpieces.

Hubby commented on how manly Mr X Stitch's work is to which I replied 'a lot of men cross stitch and embroider you know' the response was a raised eyebrow and a 'hmphf'. Seeing the gallery of projects reminded me how little cross stitching I have done recently (none since finishing that nativity scene) and so I resolved to look out some charts and do something a bit more subversive with my next project. 

All in all, the Stitch and Craft Show was def worth going to but next year I will definitely remember to sharpen my elbows before I go. And I might take a granny trolley to use as a battering ram, as that seems to be the norm...

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Flower power cake

My auntie celebrated a big(ish) birthday last week and asked me to make her a special cake.

I decided to make it two tiers and two different flavours. The bottom tier is red velvet (from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook) and the top is vanilla. I used a white butter cream icing on the sponge first then covered it with fondant icing.

For the bottom, I gave the fondant a quilted effect and used a pearl lustre spray to give it a nice texture. The top was a duck egg blue colour with the lustre spray which gave it a really nice look.

The daisies are made from sugar paste and are my first flowers, so while some might be a bit rough round the edges, they came out quite well. The silver balls really set them off nicely.

This is the second biggest cake I've made. Read about my biggest cake so far here!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Flowers in a teacup

I'm always thinking of new things to do with the china that I find, and after seeing a fellow tweeter's beautiful website, I was inspired to create some mini flower arrangements.

This is a rather large teacup which I feel is too big to become a candle, so I bought some oasis in the florist and popped some roses into it! I always have flowers in the house, whether they be cheap and cheerful ones out the supermarket or ones my Hubby buys me (I am a lucky lady to have a hubby who buys flowers most weeks). Sometimes I get bored just popping them in a vase, so I think this is a really cute idea!

The oasis was really cheap and I managed to buy small pieces that are already round shaped. This meant that I only had a little wastage, and as the second cup I used was quite small, I only needed one oasis cut in half  for both cups!

I arranged the roses in a circle around the edge of the cup but quite close together and then used the largest rose for the middle. The gypsophila is perfect for filling in the gaps and adding a bit of depth and texture.

I ran out of roses halfway through this one so used some pink carnations I had. This teacup might turn out to be a birthday pressie for my Nan-in-Law next month...

I also have a super cute teapot and a sugar bowl which might be my next experiment!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Feeding the addiction

Look what came in the post today!!

I ordered it immediately upon reading The Girl's post about  making a crochet cushion. Seeing that gorgeous cushion made me want one of my own!! The phrase ''see it, want it'' comes to mind...

So many scrummy patterns to choose from, I've no idea where to start but it will be fun deciding. It's a bit like getting a really good cookbook and spending aaaaages looking at the recipes before knowing which to try first. (or is it just me that does that?)

Another crochet inspiration comes from the lovely card that The Girl sent me a while ago. I definitely want to try this one for myself!!

 How cute are those flowers??!! Every time I look at this card, it makes my day, for many different reasons. And what a fab way to use up the little odd bits of wool you end up with. Waste not want not!

So this post is dedicated to The Girl, someone whose blog I eagerly read each day (in a non-stalkerish way) and also one of the reasons I'm developing this (possibly unhealthy?) obsession with crochet!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

I'm hooked...

...on crochet!

If you've been following my blog, you'll know that I've been on a little mission to learn to crochet. Well, at the weekend I went to a crochet workshop to learn to make granny squares, and wow am I a bit obsessed now!!

I have always loved granny squares but they looked so complicated and I always marvelled at how gorgeous they are with all the pretty colours mixed in. Well the secret is unlocked now and I can knock up a granny square in no time at all now!!

This is my very first granny square:

It turned out a bit 'baggy' but not bad for first try. My second one came out better:

As you can see, a huge improvement!

I have since been working with two gorgeous colours, making pink and navy squares and generally practising getting an even tension. And I simply love how quick and easy they are!!

I've no idea what these squares will turn into but so far I'm having fun making them. I must buy more yarn as it is time to introduce more colour varieties!!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Tea cosies now in my Etsy shop!

Since making a tea cosy for my Nan-in-Law's Christmas pressie, I have been inspired to make more. And now I have two tea cosies in my Etsy shop which I am quite excited about! I have decided to make them to measure so each one will be the perfect size for their teapot.

Here's a wee peek at my first two designs:

Please pop over and have a look and maybe treat yourself/your teapot to a new cosy which will be a perfect fit!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Finished WIP: Cafetiere Cosy

Last week I posted about my first crochet project, a cafetiere cosy for Hubby's cafetiere. Well it took no time at all to finish the crochet part and then I had to think about how I was going to finish it off.

I used some spare insulating fabric from some tea cosies and covered that with some calico to make it nice and think. Then I used some small wooden toggle buttons and made some small loops to act as button holes, et voilá!! A crocheted cosy for a cafetiere!! Our cafetiere is now the best dressed in town!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Cath Kidston - SEW!

Last summer I bought SEW! by Cath Kidston and have drooled over the projects in it. Between one thing and another these last few months, I never got round to doing anything with it. But last Sunday, I found myself at a loose end so I decided to sit down and sew up the free bag that comes with the book!

The picture is a bit rubbish on account of it being such a dull grey day, but it is a lovely bright blue fabric with a country rose type pattern. Very Cath Kidston! 

It turned out smaller than I expected it to but it's nice all the same. It is called a shoulder bag so I was expecting a larger bag but it would be an ideal size for anyone who doesn't lug half their life around with them!

The bag looks a lot bigger on the front cover, doesn't it?

I found the instructions easy enough to follow but the book does presume you know what you are doing so I had to re-read some parts to make sure I understood it. I only had to unpick my work a few times!

I'm rather please with it and now I'm thinking about what to try making next.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

WIP: Cafetiere cosy

Last weekend, I found a wool stall at the Chelmsford market and purchased some crochet cotton at a bargainous price of 50p for a 50g ball!

I'm fed up with the cheap and nasty wool that came free with that crochet mag so I decided to give this ago.

I love it!! It's so soft and quite fine in comparison to the yarn. So many colours to choose from but I opted for pink, navy and turquoise. These three colours look great together.

After a trial run to see what it was like to work with (much easier than the thick yarn I was using) I decided to crochet a cafetiere cosy.

As I can only do straight lines at the moment, it will be pink and turquoise stripey. So far it is looking good and I can't wait to see how it looks once it's finished! And it will have only cost a £1 to make :)

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Crochet progress

A while ago I posted about teaching myself to crochet and so I thought I'd let you know how I'm doing with that. I originally bought a crochet magazine which came with hooks and yarn (read here for more) and while the idea was a good one, the magazine's instructions are far too complicated for a complete novice (ie Me) to understand. So, my Nan-in-Law gave me some instructions and after a few false starts, I was off!

Here's a selection of my crochet attempts so far:

The colour selection that came with the magazine was a bit random, and they kinda clash more than match! I decided to get the hang of the stitches before trying to follow a pattern. I can now do double crochet, half trebles, full trebles and double trebles!

I love the way this pink and green matches and clashes at the same time!

I have booked myself onto a crochet workshop next weekend and I'm uber excited about learning to do a granny square! I'm fed up of doing straight lines now, so a granny square will feel like a real achievement!

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