Since I spent St David’s Day slogging my way around the Eastbourne Half Marathon course, I didn’t have time to make Welsh cakes to take into work. Yes, it was a real slog, especially the final few miles! However, I did make some Bara Brith (speckled bread) as it is MUCH less time consuming, and no less yummy.
My mum got her recipe from one of her patients years ago, when she was working as an Occupational Therapist in West Wales. However, when she wrote it out for me and I made it, I totally messed up! This is because it is along the lines of “use some tea to soak the fruit,” “cook for a bit” etc. I like and need some specifics to work towards. Anyway, I now use my grans recipe. I would like to say there is a nice family story behind it, but she got it from This Morning a few years ago, when Bonnie Tyler cooked it 🙂
Ingredients (enough to make 2 1lb/ 450g loaves)
- 6oz (175g) currants/raisins
- 6oz (175g) sultanas
- 8oz (225g) dark soft brown sugar
- 1/2 pint (300ml) hot black tea
- 10oz (275g) self-raising flour
- 1 egg beaten
- Optional – 1 tsp of mixed spice (Bonnie and my mum don’t use mixed spice)
- Measure the fruit and sugar into a bowl and pour over the hot tea. Stir well, cover and leave to stand overnight or for a few hours at least.
- Grease and line your loaf tins. I have some fancy loaf tin paper cases which make this step much simpler.
- Stir the flour and egg into the fruit mixture, mix and split between the tins.
- Bake at Gas Mark 4 / 180 deg C for about 1 hour. If the tops are catching towards the end, cover with some greaseproof paper. They are done when a skewer comes out clean.
- Turn out and leave to cool.
- Serve plain or with butter. I quite like it on its own.
and here is Bonnie Tyler with “Total Eclipse of the Heart” for you to sing along to. I forgot how terrifying(ly bad) the video is!
I was after a quick and effective idea to make a birthday card, so I did lots of hunting around for some inspiration. I really wanted an idea for a nice flat paper flower, but this seems surprisingly hard to find. In the end, I found this great tutorial on how to make fabric hexagonal yo yos, and decided to try it with paper. It worked really well, although I will say a thicker, better quality paper made it so much easier and gave a nice finish. I used two different sized hexagonal flowers to decorate my card – one on top of the other, finished off with a sequin.
I’ve put together a little tutorial on how to make them, and combined with the fabric tutorial, hopefully it should all make sense! As usual, if there are any problems, please let me know and I’ll do my best to help.
- Patterned paper (a bit thicker is easier to work with)
- Circle template (I used a glass)
1. Cut out a circle from paper – any size will do but the smaller the more fiddly it gets (about 8cm across is a good size).
2. Fold in half and then into quarters. 3. Unfold the circle, and mark the centre (this makes the next few folds so much easier). 4. Fold one edge into the centre mark. 5. Fold the left hand corner into the centre. 6. Repeat stage 5 twice more, until it looks like the example below. 7. Fold the left hand corner into the middle to make a point.8. Unfold the point, and put the left hand edge on top of the right hand edge, as shown below.9. After stage 8, you will be left with a little flappy bit.10. This bit is really hard to explain, but you need to flip the flap under the triangle to the left of the last triangle which you made. I had to try this stage out a few times before I got it right, so please let me know if you get stuck. 11. Tuck the flap in, and make sure all your triangle seams line up centrally.
My friend asked me to hem her curtains for her new flat, and in return took me to see Amelie at the Preston Manor outdoor cinema, which was all set up in the lovely gardens. I got round to sewing the curtains up today, and had loads of fabric left over, so decided to make a quick envelope cushion to match. The front fabric is a sample scrap from C&H fabrics, which cost me 20p! It is a nightmare of fraying-ness, but it looks very retro. This is more of a mini tutorial, but thought it may be useful. It took me a few minutes to make sure I was making my cushion-cover sandwich the right way round. For the length, measure the cushion pad and then multiply by 3. I used one third of one fabric for the front, and two thirds of curtain fabric for the back. For the width, measure the width of the cushion pad and add a seam allowance.
Hem at both ends and line up nice and flat. Fold the front piece so one third of the fabric is on top of another third.Then flip the other end of the fabric to cover the front and middle thirds of fabric. You should now have a fabric third sandwich, which you can just make out in the picture below. Sew up both of the sides, and zig zag the edges if your fabric is particularly fraying (like mine was). Turn the whole thing the right way around, and then stuff in your pillow. I added a few decorative buttons to hold my front fabric in place as it was gaping a bit, I think because it was so loosely woven.
Please let me know if you have any trouble following the instructions, and I’ll do my best to help!
A couple of birthdays ago, my friend gave me a lovely bag which has this tweedy flower charm on it. She always said she thought it was something I would make myself, and I have finally got round to it. It took a bit of poking around the work out the design, and I ended up doing something slightly different, as I found it was a bit bulky otherwise. My version is below – made from denim and cotton fabric, and accessorised with a button (of course!) The denim came from a favourite old pair of jeans which had ripped because they were so worn. I chopped off the legs, so may still use them for something else.Ingredients
- Cotton fabric
- Denim fabric (tweed which doesn’t fray too much would also work well)
- Circle template
- Cotton and needle
- 6 inches of denim seam offcut or sturdy twill ribbon
- Using your circular template, cut out 5 denim circles and 4 fabric circles. The 5th denim circle is the back.
- Match each denim circle with a fabric one, with right sides facing outwards.
- Start folding your petals! Fold the circle in half and then in half again, as shown below. Do this until you have 4 petals.
- For the keyring hanger, I used cut off from the leg seam of a pair of jeans, but some sturdy twill ribbon would work just as well. Sew it firmly in place into the centre of the spare denim circle.
- Next, arrange your petals onto the backing circle, as shown below. Sew each point firmly firmly into place, and if needed, make strategic stitches elsewhere to get the petals to sit straight.
- The final step is to sew a button in the centre of the petals. Again, make sure it is sewn securely.
Although I made this as a keyring for my garage keys, it also looks nice as a bag charm (especially if you match your fabrics well).
Just a quick post to show you some super easy instructions I came across on Pinterest on how to make an origami butterfly. I am terrible at following simple instructions, especially for origami, but even I managed this. I made 3 butterflies to decorate a card for a friends birthday and added some pearly antenna. The papers came from another friend, in the amazing bag of goodies which I got in the post a while ago.
I am thinking about making some more and using them for some kind of picture, if I ever get round to making it, you will be the first to know 🙂
I made this quick bunting card today, ready for Mothers Day next Sunday. It was super easy to do, and doesn’t need too many paper supplies at all. Ingredients
- Plain piece of card, folded in half to make the base of the whole card
- Scraps of patterned paper and other bids and bobs to decorate the front of your card
- Short piece of embroidery floss
- PVA glue
- Hole punch
- Scissors or craft knife
- Start by decorating the outside of your card (I used a strip of paper and a pre-printed label which I stuck on using sticky pads).
- Punch a hole with a hole punch, so it goes through both layers of card (as show below).
3. Cut out 4 diamond shapes from your scrap papers to make the bunting flags. Use the PVA to glue them into place on the embroidery floss. Leave the glue to dry.
4. The next step is to add the bunting to the card. 6. Tie the card shut with a bow, using the embroidery floss.
7. Open the card up to show the celebratory bunting!
For some reason I have some serious baking mojo at the minute. This recipe is really good, so I felt I had to share it. I was intending to make some bara brith (aka speckled bread) which is a Welsh fruit tea bread, but I didn’t have enough fruit. So I raided the cupboard and made this chocolate baileys cake instead (I will make bara brith soon!).I found the basic recipe here but made some tweaks to make it super-decadent (and to use up what I have lurking in the cupboards).
- 100g/4oz margarine
- 192g/7oz dark muscovado sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp powdered instant coffee
- 165g/6oz plain flour
- 80g/3oz cocoa powder
- 180ml/6fl oz Baileys Irish Cream (or half milk/half Baileys)
- Optional – chocolate chips or chunks
- Preheat oven to around 180 deg C and line your loaf tin.
- Cream the margarine and sugar together until as smooth and fluffy as possible.
- Add the eggs one at a time to the creamed mix, beating the mix well each time.
- Add the flour, baking powder and instant coffee to the egg mix, and mix until all combined.
- Then add your cocoa powder, and continue mixing.
- Finally, add your Baileys (or Baileys/milk mix), and stir until the mix is smooth. Pour the mix into the lined loaf tin.
- Bake your cake for around 50 minutes (check it from about 45 minutes). When a skewer comes out clean, it is done.
The Baileys taste really comes through – definitely not one for the kiddies!
As sometimes happens, I have started a collection of manky bananas, which have been lurking in my lunch bag and in the fruit bowl. They went all motley and smelly, and there was nothing for it but to bake banana bread. There really is no other use for them!
So I had a nose around to see what sort of recipe took my fancy, and ended up making something up. The basic recipe is from this one at River Cottage and I added some other spices and a squeeze of honey to liven it up even more. It smelled lovely while it is baking, with all the chai inspired spices. It cuts really nicely and has a quite fresh taste to it which surprised me. I think it may be the cardomom. Definitely a bit more exciting than plain banana bread though, and I will be making it again.
- 5 cardamom pods (peel off the skin and grind up the seeds using a pestle and mortar)
- quarter teaspoon of ground ginger
- quarter teaspoon of nutmeg
- quarter teaspoon of cinnamon
- quarter teaspoon of all spice
- 250g self-raising flour (I ended up using some wholemeal flour and baking powder as a substitute)
- 100g margarine
- 125g brown sugar
- 100g chocolate chips
- 2 ripe bananas (about 250g, peeled weight)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- quarter teaspoon or there abouts of honey
- Line your loaf baking tin (my mum gave me some paper loaf tin liners which save a huge amount of faff and preheat the oven to 180C.
- Mix the flour, all of the spices and margarine in a large mixing bowl, until the mixture resembles medium breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and chocolate chips and mix. Make a well in the centre.
- Mash the bananas and add the egg and blend together, then pour into the well in the dry ingredients. Mix together and then beat until the mixture is thoroughly combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin.
- Bake for about 45 minutes until well risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Take the cake out of the tin and leave to cool on a rack.
This is my second earwarmer – made from some reddish wool I got from a charity shop. I finished it off with 2 vintage buttons from my collection.
To make a crochet earwarmer, make a chain around 9 to 10cm long. This should be around ch12 (+1) but you could make it thicker or thinner depending on the look you’re going for. You then need to just keep going with the dc stitch in rows until you reach around 45cm long (I’m no good at keeping count, so best just keep checking with the tape measure and keep trying it on to check for size). Some wools has more give to it than others, so bear the stretch in mind when you’re working out the final length.
To finish off your earwarmer so it is like the red earwarmer above, on the last but one row, do one dc then skip a stitch and do a chain stitch instead. Start dc crocheting again in the stitch after the one skipped. Do the same at the end of the row to give you 2 matching button holes. Do the final row all in dc to finish off. On the side with no button holes, sew in place the buttons so they are in the right place to go through the button holes.
To finish off a bow earwarmer like the one below, once the band is big enough to go around your head, sc the ends together and tidy up loose ends.
Crochet a smaller band using dc stitch, around 10cm square, and then sew it into place to cover the join.
Here are a couple more tutorials form over the year which seem to have been popular – this time they are all fabric-related.
Bunting – I went through a mega-bunting phase earlier this year, but this set is my favourite. The vintage Beatrix Potter fabric is so cute – I got in a local charity shop which has a craft section.
Fabric bangle – this project is very easy and would make good Christmas stocking fillers if you’re stuck for anyone.