Monday, 27 June 2011

The Little Lady's New Dress

I have a problem with clothes for girls over the age of 6/7 years.  I don't know why, but for some reason suitable girls clothing, in particular dresses, are really difficult to come across.  If you go shopping on the high street, on which I have ventured onto over the past week due to out imminent holiday, the shelves are full of inappropriate clothing for girls.  I am just pleased that I can make my little girl dresses suitable for little girls without having to spend a fortune on them.

After spending hours shopping, which I hated, I came home and spent Saturday night making a dress for my, not so little (she is 7 in a couple of weeks!!) Fairy.

This is the fabric that she chose:

To be honest, I wasn't sure how it would turn out.  It isn't a fabric I would have chosen for her and was surprised at her choice.  I did try to encourage her to choose an alternative, but she was adamant that this was the fabric she wanted.

It turned out pretty well... the fabric choice is perfect for the simple style, and it really suits her.  She's chuffed to bits with it, I'd left it on my little mannequin for when she came downstairs in the morning, "Oooo mummy" she exclaimed, "it's beautiful".  It had its debut outing to granny and grandad's that day.

My only disappointment is that there is a little too much room under the arm.  It isn't really noticeable, but bothers me slightly as I do like things to be right.  It does however leave room for growth, and for t-shirts if necessary!!!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagne

This lasagne uses the tomato sauce I posted here.  I think that this has to be the tastiest vegetarian lasagne ever.  The roasted squash has a fabulous sweet caramelised flavour and the hint of chilli in the tomato sauce just gives it a little extra kick.

Ingredients - serves 6 - 8

2kg butternut squash
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1kg spinach, washed
8 sheets lasagne
1 25g ball mozzarella, drained and torn into small pieces
2 handfuls of grated parmesan

1.  Set the oven to 190°C/Gas mark 5.
2.  Prep the butternut squash by cutting into quarters, deseeding and peeling.  Now cut into 2cm cubes, toss in oil and place in the oven for 25 mins or until browned around the edges.  Once done, take out of the oven and put to one side.
3.  Whilst the squash  is roasting, make your tomato sauce and leave to simmer.
4.  Now put your washed spinach into a large pan and allow to wilt, remove from the heat and drain.  Put to one side.
5.  Make your bechamel sauce.
6.  Layer up your lasagne. First put a little bechamel sauce in the bottom of your lasagne dish, add a layer of lasagne, half your tomato sauce, half of your squash, half of your spinach and some bechamel.  Add another layer of of lasagne and repeat process.  Finish with a layer of bechamel.  Sprinkle your mozzerella, and your parmesan over the top and pop into the oven for 40-45 minutes until golden.  Check the lasagne is cooked through by putting a sharp knife into the centre.  If not, cover with tin foil, and bake for another 5 or 10 minutes.

Yum yum.  Just serve with a tasty green salad and some crusty bread for a fabulous meal.

you can find more delicious recipes here.

Bechamel Sauce - the easy way!!!

My mum shared this recipe a few years ago...  I have a feeling it is one of Delia Smith's cheats, but please don't quote me on that.  For years I battled to make a bechamel sauce the traditional way, adding the milk a little at a time, for years I had little lumps in my sauce.  Not any more!!!

This is what you do:-
Put 1pt milk, 50g butter and 50g plain flour in a pan.  Turn the heat onto a medium heat, get out your whisk and gently whisk until you have a lovely smooth sauce.  Although you are still having to stir, it is relaxed and you aren't having to mess around pouring milk whilst stirring.  You can leisurely sip a glass of wine instead!!

How simple is that?

For Cheese Sauce, just take the pan off the heat and add a handful or two of cheddar.

You can find more delicious recipes here.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A Little Tour of the Royal Exchange Craft Shop, Manchester... and something that made me chuckle!!!

I was just having a little meander around blog land, when I noticed a little virtual tour around the Royal Exchange Craft shop in Manchester that I had previously missed.  It is just as I remember it.  I haven't been into Manchester for a very long time, but is a place I like to go with my mum, and it always results in a trip to the Royal Exchange.  I love it, so I am very pleased that I have some of my products in the shop there, and it is lovely to see them on the shelves in this clip!  I plan to escape for a day, and visit over the summer holidays.

And onto the something that made me chuckle.  The other day whilst I was having a quick tidy before bath time, I glanced down and noticed that I had been walking around with a cone attached to the side of my foot!!!  Hmmm... I wondered how long it had been attached for, but felt relief that I hadn't gone out!!!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Seriously funky fabric!!

I love fabric from the 1960's and 1970's.  I love the boldness of the colour, the big prints, and the cross over from a piece of art work to a piece of fabric.  Functional art.  Fantastic.  Although I do like some abstract pieces, I do tend to have an inner hippy hidden within, as it is the bright and funky florals that I tend to make a bee-line for.

  This is a piece of vintage cotton I have had in my stash for some time... waiting!  I took a few photos and couldn't decide which ones to post as there is so much going on.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to do something with it.  For two whole hours I had the house completely to myself.  I used the time to make a halter neck pinny with most of the fabric.  Even though I say so myself, it is pretty fabulous.  It just needs a couple of finishing touches, a photo shoot, and then it's up for sale.  A truly vintage pinny 1960's/70's fabric (I can't put a date on it) in a style influenced by the 1950's!  I just thought I'd tempt you with the fabric first!!! 

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Fathers Day Panic!

This morning I woke in a bit of a panic and my first thought was, oh shit... it's Fathers Day.  The children's presents for their dad were sorted, and my dad's present was sorted, but I had planned to make a card last night (I try to make cards rather than buy them, this sometimes puts a little bit of pressure on!).  Unfortunately I'd ended up with a migraine that sent me to bed as soon as I had got the children into bed (hubby was working), only to wake at 6.30am in a bit of a tizz!!!

I hadn't even thought about what I wanted to put... men are so hard to make cards for, but I have found the solution.  Cath Kidston catalogues!!!  The typesets used are fab, and varied, making the most simply card look pretty funky.  I grabbed some shiny silver card, got out some scissors and a glue stick and set to work.  It didn't take me long to think of the message I wanted to give to him.

To my


Friday, 17 June 2011

Another cake for the weekend - Lemon Drizzle Cake

This is a very understated cake with serious mmmmmm factor!!!!  It's made even better by the fact that it is so simple to make!

It takes about an hour to make enough for 20 pieces, and is perfect for family picnics, camping trips etc. as it is so easy to transport.

175g/6oz softened butter
250g/9oz self-raising flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
250g/9oz caster sugar
3 large eggs
9 tbsp milk
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon

For the icing:
Juice of 1 lemon
100g/4oz  caster sugar

1.  Heat the oven to 180°/160°fan/gas mark 4.
2. Butter and line the base of a cake tin measuring 22x28cm with greaseproof paper.
3.  Put all the cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl and beat together  for 2-3 mins until the mixture drops easily off the spoon.
4.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, and smooth.  Bake in the oven for 35-45mins until golden and firm*.
5.  To make the icing, beat the sugar and lemon juice to a paste.  Spoon this over the cake as evenly as possible whilst the cake is still hot, then leave to cool in the cake tin.  Cut into 20 pieces.

This cake keeps well wrapped in foil.  It can also be frozen.

*You can test that a cake is ready by using a sharp knife of skewer.  Insert into the centre of the cake.  If it is clean when you take it out, the cake is ready.  If not leave for 5mins before testing again.  If you feel the cake is getting too brown you can put a piece of kitchen foil loosely over the top.

Happy baking.  I am sure that this will become a family favourite!

N.B The lovely tea towel you can see in the image is a new product that will be available to buy very soon, along with the pinnies and other goodies in my shop.

You can find more delicious recipes here.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Take a peek at my pinny winner!!!

This is Amy from The Patchwork Home in the pinny that she won in my pinny giveaway a week (or so) ago.  I am sure that she will make excellent use of it.  Amy will be heading over to my Pinny Up Girls page later on in the week, with all the other domestic goddesses!!!

Thank you for sharing your photos with us x

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Deliciously Creamy Fudge

I am in the process of organizing my recipes so that they are easy for people to find on my blog.  This one hadn't been a blog post so I thought I'd do it now.  Please have a look at this information before you start making fudge as the weather affects the outcome!!!

Vanilla Fudge - moderately easy

This recipe makes about 675g (1 1/2 lb) and I don't think it has anything in it to make you feel better about eating it!!!  It is very yummy though, and would make a lovely gift in a small handmade box with a bit of ribbon (with enough left for you!!).  Perfect for end of term pressies for teaching staff etc!  Please be very careful if you make it as boiling sugar is nasty stuff.  A pinny is essential!

450g (1 lb) granulated sugar
75g (3 oz) butter
150ml (1/4 pt milk)
175ml (6 fl oz) evaporated milk
2.5ml (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract

1. Lightly oil an 18cm (7") square tin (or thereabouts).
2.  Put everything except the vanilla extract into a heavy based pan and gently heat until sugar has dissolved.  Bring to the boil and boil until the mixture reaches 116 C/240 F on a sugar thermometer (6-8 minutes), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  To do this without a thermometer, test the mixture by dropping a teaspoon full of the mixture in cold water.  It is ready if it can then be rolled between the fingers to form a soft ball.
3.  Remove pan from heat and add the vanilla essence.  Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is going grainy.  Pour into prepared tin and leave for 5-10 mins until almost set.
4. Use a sharp knife to mark out the pieces and leave until completely cold before cutting and taking out of the tin.  Store in an air tight container.

You can find more delicious recipes here.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Basic Tomato Sauce

I don't know where we would be without tomato sauce in our house.  It is so easy to make, can be flavoured in lots of different ways, and is the base of so many delicious dishes.  I thought that I would share with you my basic tomato sauce and then dishes that I make with it.  

Basic Tomato Sauce - makes 2 portions (each serving 4, one for now, one to stick in the freezer!)
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tins of quality tinned tomatoes
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1tsp dried oregano
a pinch of salt & black pepper
a pinch of sugar

1.  Heat the oil and gently fry the onions until transparent.  
2.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute before adding all the other ingredients.
3.  Bring the the boil and then lower the heat.  Simmer for approximately 20 mins until most of the excess liquid has been absorbed. 

Basil flavoured sauce
Omit the oregano and add a handful of torn basil leaves at the end of cooking.

Spicy sauce
Add 1/2 tsp crumbled dried chilli when you add all the other ingredients to the onion and garlic.  

All of these are delicious simply tossed through some some cooked pasta and sprinkled with grated parmesan.  Served with a good salad and some tasty bread you have a really simple meal.

Tonight for tea we had the spicy version with griddled halloumi cheese (a favourite in our house), instead of parmesan, which I broke into pieces and stirred through the pasta and sauce.  Yummy!!

You can find more delicious recipes, including more using your basic tomato sauce, here.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

... and the runner up has chosen...

... (after much pondering a decision was made) one of my NEW Woodland Wash Bags.  These are not yet available to buy in my shop, but have been available to buy in The Royal Exchange gift shop in Manchester, which is where Gail from seventyseventyone design saw them.  Unfortunately they had sold out of them... but I do have a few more left, some will be heading to Manchester at the end of the week, but I will keep some back!!!  

I just love this print.  It is so busy, there are all sorts of different plant life, and some fabulous colours that catch your eye.  Because of this each bag is unique.  If you like them, keep your eyes peeled.  They will be available to buy in my shop very soon!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The winner has chosen...

... the beautiful pinny with the fabulous bird print.

Amy from The Patchwork Home was in touch with me yesterday evening and put her claim on this beautiful pinny.  It really is an excellent choice, and is now flying over to its new home, to play its part in the pinny revolution.  

Gail from seventyseventyone designs has also made her claim.  She wants a large cosmetic bag, but I haven't been informed which one as yet.

Hoorah to you both, and thanks again to those who entered.

N.B Please don't forget that there are only one of each of my halterneck pinnies available to buy.  When they have gone, there won't be any more!!

Monday, 6 June 2011

We have a winner!

We have winners...

... The Patchwork Home gets one of my lovely pinnies, and 7071 Designs will receive a £10 discount code to spend in my shop.  Could the winners please contact me with their email details.

This is how the draw was done... its was a very complex affair!!!

Step 1. Names were written on pieces of paper and put in one of the Fairy's handcrafted felt pots!

Step 2.  The fairy drew the winner.  

Step 3.  The Little Tinker drew the runner up.

Thanks to all who entered, and well done to the lucky winners!