Sunday, March 28, 2010

Planting seeds...ish

I promised myself I would take lots of lovely pictures of us planting seeds this year as I didn't manage it last year, but it is actually pretty fraught doing this with a 2 year old, and requires more supervision than an observing cameraman can give. So this is the best I can do. I mentioned previously the great new seed place I found on ebay, and here you can see some (very few) of the seedlings we have produced. Potting on was a little less fraught, and the Bean loves watering things, so hopefully can be slightly more unsupervised...


I have never tasted or made borscht before, but gave it a go on Soup Saturday recently. Wow if something looks this good, it must taste good, right? did!


I'm not a great fan of homeschooling or unschooling, but hey if the Bean want a game to be a little bit educational, who am I to complain. We had lots of fun yesterday with my button collection, first of all sorting out colours and then big (large, enormous, huge) and small (tiny, little) buttons...and then just throwing them into the tart tin and shouting PING POP!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Experiments in Recrystallisation 2 - Success?

I may have achieved success! So here's the method for making delicious delightful tablet that will help weight loss as part of a calorie-controlled diet.
1) Prepare!
100 g butter, 1 kg granulated sugar, 1 cup milk, 1 tin condensed milk
butter the tin well
get a plate, a glass of cold water, and a teaspoon.
2) Begin!
Put all the ingredients into a LARGE pan (do not use a non-stick pan). The mixture will more than double in volume when it starts boiling, so make sure it is big enough, for goodness sake. The idea is that the milk just damps down the sugar, so don't put too much in. I found just under 1 cup of milk to be enough to dissolve the sugar, but not too much to boil off.
Heat the mixture on a medium heat until everything is dissolved. Take a little of the mixture out and put it on the plate to keep track of the starting colour. Stir regularly. If you get bits of brown coming off the bottom reduce the heat and keep stirring, if you get black good luck cleaning the burned sugar off the pan.
Once it boils you can stop stirring all the time, but do it every so often. It won't stick to the pan unless the pan is too hot. Periodically check the colour and smell of the mix. At some point it will suddenly stop smelling of hot butter (yuk!) and start smelling of tablet (yum!). This is the point to stop! To check take a small teaspoon of mix and plunge it into cold water. If you can push your finger into it and it retains its shape then it is ready. It takes about 15-18 minutes to get to this stage.
Take it off the heat and stir like crazy. As soon as you feel crystallisation (slight thickening on the bottom of the pan), STOP and pour it into the tin.
This is where it went weird. I think I boiled it too long and the solution was far too saturated. As I poured it into the tin it boiled over! Anyway I squished it down again and the result is perfect!
Lovely shatter.

Eat This!

Best ever ever cheesecake cooked by my Mum.

Another Beany Chair

Fabric: Roar - Red

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Soup Saturday

I have found this diet to be the most effective for losing weight (I can't really comment on keeping it off as I keep on getting pregnant all over the place). I like the fact that it is researched, designed, and written by a real doctor, not nutritionists that buy their PhDs off the internet.

While I stand by my membership of SINAM (soup is not a meal) and its partner group PASAM (peoples against salad as main) the efficacy of both in weight loss cannot be underestimated. This is primarily due to their non-meal status.

Anyway, in a quest to lose the last few pounds to reach pre babies weight, I made a load of soups this Saturday: The trick is to make them filling without putting in any potato. For a hardcore carb lover this is not easy!

Anneli enjoyed crushing and smelling lemongrass, though.

Pink Popcorn

A special request from the Bean for pink popcorn (grrrr, why oh why does she like pink?) got me thinking...

One hastily washed plant sprayer and some food colouring later...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

More stencils

I've just done this T-shirt for the son of a friend on mine who has been very poorly recently. The paint is still wet but I was so pleased with it I took the picture already. Perhaps you can guess his name?


Apple crumble cake cooked by my marvellous man.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bean and dinosaur

Totally overimpressed by the dinosaur the Bean made yesterday at our local SureStart Centre. (Plus she has learned to say "cheese" when I take a photo)

Bag mark 2

Getting the garden sorted

As I think I have mentioned I'm going for flowers this year in the garden, so the girls and I have been hard at work weeding, planting and sowing seeds. As you can see!

If you are after seeds, check out premier seeds on ebay as they are very good value and the postage is really cheap. I bought loads of seeds there this year and have had really good germination rates.


Haven't had much time to write recently...why? Because it is Spring all of a sudden and a lot of catching up with planting things has been necessary. So expect a lot of posts in the next few days.

These are some lovely lovely new cottons I got from the thread mill on ebay. Super cheap compared to shop-bought (20p vs £1.75 each) and I was so excited when they arrived...look at all the colours. aaaahhhh.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Branching out...bags!

I saw some of these bags recently and thought...I can make that! I have been racking my brains for a Mother's day present, and thought I could make Mum a knitting bag, and Mum-in-law a shopper...or maybe a knitting bag too, we will see.

So here's the article.

Nice and roomy, and with a couple of pockets for knittingy things.

The only mishap was when I discovered that my nice new machine would only do button holes up to 2.7cm. The button I had chosen was 3 cm! Still, I managed to find a lovely retro number in my vast collection (I've taken to buying buttons from charity shops) that was exactly 2.7cm. Phew.

Might make a few more of these babies, we will see.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Holly's apron

My friend wanted an apron for her daughter, and although I haven't done it before I have made an adults apron for myself a few years ago, so I thought, why not?
So step 1: make a pattern. This is basically a guess based on Anneli's apron and Holly's neck to knee measurement. I make my patterns from newspaper and this is where you wish the Guardian was still a proper broadsheet.

step 2: stencilling! Haven't done this before but read about it on the interweb. I bought some freezer paper (apparently this is available everywhere in the US, but I couldn't find in in our supermarkets so I resorted to ebay. It is basically greaseproof paper that is waxed on one side).

Draw the stencil (in this case trace from a Word printout)

Cut it out and iron it to the material (wax side down!). This fab material was from a couple of huge pillowcases I got from a charity shop. Holly has red hair so I thought it would look good on her.

Use fabric paint and a sponge to paint it on (put a bit of cardboard or something underneath to stop it bleeding through)

Peel of the paper. Looks pretty good, eh?!

The pillowcases were very thin cotton so I decided to line the apron body with something heavier. I used a bit of our old curtains and then cut some lime green lining on the bias to make a binding. There is no reason for this other than it looks nice with the blue.

Sew it all up like a sandwich and there you go! Hope it fits!

I quite enjoyed the stencilling I can feel some heavy clothing customisation coming on.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Beany chairs - update

Just an updated list of fabric available should you wish to purchase a lovely beany chair. I need about 2 weeks notice if you want to give them as presents etc. so bear that in mind if you want to make an order. The cost for a fully made, filled chair is 30 quid but if you want to supply your own material the cost is 20 quid. Might have to be creative with delivery/collection for the filled chairs.

Fabrics (Floral1 shown above):

cheeky monkey spice
cheeky monkey primary
down on the farm bluebell
oasis green
breezy fushia
spot on raspberry
spot on chambray
tiddler ocean
jigsaw lime
piccadilly cobalt
fish red
roar red
blue discs
butterfly bluebell

Friday, March 05, 2010


I know you can buy perfectly good playdough but why would you when it is so easy to make? This way you don't care if you end up with a mottled brown lump when the colours mix together.

This is the recipe I use:

2 cups of plain flour
2 cups of coloured water
1 Tbsp. of cooking oil
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup of salt

Place all of the ingredients in a medium size or large pan. Cook on medium-high and stir it until the playdough thickens. Keeps best in the fridge in plastic containers.

You can of course make the mix and then add the colour later and then you can split it up for multiple colours but I now mix the dry ingredients, then cook it 1 cup at a time with approx 500 mL coloured water.
I timed it this time and it takes about 2 minutes to go from this:

to this:

to this:

You DO need all these ingredients. It turns out weird if you miss any out (trust me). If it is too sticky knead in a bit more oil at the end. It cools down pretty quickly so I usually turn it out of the pan and squash it flat and the Bean stamps out patterns in it until it cools. For some reason she chose to use Yoda's head for the stamping in this case!

There's stacks more recipes here including one based on peanut butter (obviously not recommended for under 1s) of all things.