Archive | May, 2013

A weekend of cooking: roasting, baking, and a touch of tapas

27 May

My family are away for the Bank holiday, so instead of sitting in my room sewing I thought I’d take advantage of an empty kitchen! Unfortunately I was unable to get any pictures so I’ve included the recipes’ ones :(

Honey-roast gammon
Cauliflower cheese

Gordon Ramsay’s honey glazed roast gammon: recipe here

I like Gordon’s glaze, if you add some vegetables (including those with which the gammon was boiled) in the dish with the gammon while roasting then you get some tender, tasty veg. Not too much though, as the glaze makes them quite sweet.

If your gammon isn’t Gordon’s expected 2kg, boil for 20mins per 500g (or 1lb) and the same time in the oven.

BBC GoodFood’s cauliflower cheese: recipe here

I love a good cauliflower cheese! I tried it with half-and-half cauliflower and broccoli which worked well and added a bit more flavour and colour. I tried to halve the recipe but it didn’t make enough sauce…

Cold gammon sandwiches (add a thin layer of mustard)
Spanish garlic prawns

BBC’s Hairy Bikers’s spanish garlic prawns: recipe here

I had brunch with friends so was NOT hungry for dinner time, for which I’d planned a fish pie. This dish, with some toasted wholemeal bread, makes a perfect small supper.

I use dried chillies to make it medium ‘hotness’, which I think was less hot than the recipe – so beware to alter the recipe if you are more a Kurma person than a Madras!

I love this dish; I’ll definitely include it if I ever decide to take the plunge and try making several tapas dishes – everything can be prepared in advance then just dumped on the hob for 10 minutes :)

Vegetable soup
Fishcakes (smoked salmon and cod)
Chocolate brownies

Time to use up that leftover stock from the roast gammon: sautéed leeks carrots onion, M&S dried pulse mix (soaked overnight), a dash of chicken gravy granules, basil, pepper. Lovely, and very filling, though I’ll maybe leave the cinammon out of the gammon recipe next time..

Another light dinner to use up the fish pie ingredients: oat-coated salmon and cod fishcakes :)

Summer Island Food’s smoked salmon fishcakes: recipe here

I decided to halve the 250g of fish between smoked salmon trimmings and a cod fillet. Smoked salmon trimmings are about £1 for 100g from supermarkets, and are great for loads of recipes if you aren’t fussy about looks.

I seasoned the mix with fairly boring pepper, lemon juice, and chives. Next time I’ll add some chillies! Beware not to add butter and milk to the mash or it will make the mixture too soft.

Lesley Water's chocolate brownies: recipe here

Lesley Water’s chocolate brownies: recipe here

Chocolate brownie! I love the marbled brownies from BBC GoodFood but they are extravagantly rich and use a LOT of chocolate. This recipe uses coffee and cocoa powder to add flavour, using only 40g of solid chocolate.

Whereas the marbled brownies need well over an hour in the oven, these need just half an hour, and aren’t too rich at all.

So there you are, lots of cooking and even more washing up! It would perhaps have been more creative without recipes, but it was fun and de-stressing which was the whole point of the projects behind this blog.

How have you been using your bank holiday weekend?


A thwarted attempt at sewing

20 May

There’s a good reason this week’s post is so late, I promise! I failed to complete a project this weekend :( BUT I learned a new technique – paper piecing- which I am keen to try again sometime.

I was browsing and found a guide entitled “Tips on how to sew by hand”. You can find it on this page, though you have to register (for free) to download it. I thought it was perfect, as I like sewing but don’t have my machine at present.

As a nice, small, project, I chose the Hexagon coaster. It is also a really good way to use up scraps!


Photo taken from

So I find some appropriately sized scraps hanging around my house, and set off. I I always make sure I have everything before I start, ‘mis en place’ being something I learned to follow religiously through cooking!

Everything (supposedly) that I would need.

Everything (supposedly) that I would need…

An hour and a half of paper piecing, bastes, whip stitches, and pressing later, I’ve finished step 9 and am feeling I have made ok progress considering it’s my first paper piecing ever.


You can see my sloppy piecing here :(

Step 10: “machine stitch…” AAAAARGH I didn’t pick up on that when I skim-read the steps! So much for mis-en-place :(

It’ll have to stay like this for a little while! I hope to get a new machine really soon. I have an ever-increasing backlog of items to finish off when I get it :S

It did not rain on Mary Jane (embroidery)

12 May

It did not rain on Mary Jane
for she had a huuuuuge umbrella!

On the recommendation of Auntie Pippa I decided to try out a little embroidery pattern from LiliPopo. I chose Mary Jane because I thought she was adorable! Except for a new hoop and needles, the pattern was the only cost incurred as I had a piece of fabric and plenty of floss – yay :D

I was really keen to start so didn’t wait to get a proper transfer pen so used an old nail white pencil which should come out in a cool wash easily! It made it all a bit harder as I had lines which were rough and thick, and I was a bit worried the finished thing would be very messy as a result…

Using a nail white pencil to trace onto linen straight from a computer... not the prettiest result!

Nail white pencil + computer screen = not neat!

I love blues/beach tones and am not very keen on earth tones  so I spent a lot of timetime choosing my floss out of my mother’s old box! It was made even harder by choosing to use a navy piece of linen as the fabric – as I now had to pick a colour for her face…

It probably took me about 15 hours in total but I am a complete amateur and did it over several days and while multitasking so not sure… but it is my first ever free-stitch embroidery :) It only used backstitch and split stitch but it helped me to get a good feel for basic handling of floss by the end, I think.

All finished :)

All finished :)

Colours used (DMC): hair 433, skin 407, umbrella 826 (outside – inside is unknown), dress 611. The fabric is a navy linen from a sale!

I have already planned what to do with it, and pre-cut the fabric to fit – but it will remain a secret til I have my sewing machine… watch this space!

This is a 12cm embroidery hoop, for scale!

This is a 12cm embroidery hoop, for scale!

P.S. Do check out LiliPopo’s blog and etsy shop – there’s a load of cute patterns and she also sells some nice finished items – it’d be nice to see what anyone else has done with her patterns. Future embroidery suggestions are also welcome as I have a newfound love for it :)

Edit: on the recommendation of Megan via the comments (whose awesome cooking/sewing blog is here) I decided to put together a little slideshow of the photos I took along the way! I also made a template so I can quickly create new ones :)

Necklaces made from ‘Swarovski element’ beads

4 May

I’m away this weekend so instead here’s some of my past ‘work’!

A couple of years ago I was daunted by the challenge of buying a present for my brother’s fiancé’s birthday… eep! Having met her, I learned the colours she liked and her style and decided to try to make a necklace for her! I found a local bead shop and bought
– gorgeous Swarovski element beads, plus mini filler beads
– ‘thread’ (was the wire stuff, in hindsight a bad move) and clasps
– cute little “made with love” heart-shaped pendants
– jewellery-making pliers etc and a bead mat!

As you can gather from that last item, this was my first ever attempt at making jewellery!  Using the Swarovski beads rather than cheaper cut ones increased the cost as I wasn’t organised enough to buy them online in advance… oops. I decided to make two and get my brother to choose the better one for her (he chose the blue, she loved it, and was surprised/flattered when she found I’d made it). Here they are:

2011.08.13 Jewellery - Pink and purple necklace close-up

I chose to  put the beads on randomely – I thought it would look nicer that way but I admit it went against all my instincts of being organised!

2011.08.13 Jewellery - Blue necklace in box

The winning necklace, hooray! The colours just happened to match what she was wearing, lucky…

I’d say how I made them but I can’t really remember – there were no websites, books, or YouTube videos involved, just me doing whatever felt like it’d work! It was my sister’s birthday a couple of weeks later, so my mum wanted me to make one to match a dress she’d bought, so here’s number 3:

You can see the "made with love" pendant almost here!

You can see my shoddy finishing here! She even wears it to sixth form :D

And my fourth attempt is my personal favourite, made for a friend who has a wardrobe that is probably 70% red. I went for slightly larger beads and a different type of clasp this time:

2012.01.23 Camilla's 21st Necklace 2

Red…. duh! A little thicker and shorter this time.

I’ve not attempted any more necklaces since then, but I did find a bunch of beads stowed away waiting ready for a bracelet – watch this space! It was so easy to make them, albeit not with quite the right method, that I am definitely going to give my local bead shop another visit soon :)

Do you make jewellery for yourself or for gifts? I’m looking to add some more colour to my own jewellery box!

What to do with a (vintage floral) fat quarter…

3 May

So, I’ve been quite naughty and started late-night fabric hunting on the internet. Picked up this lovely vintage fat quarter (£1.79 which isn’t that much of a bargain but look at it!!) which is 100% cotton 130gsm.

The result of late-night eBaying!

Anyway so I have been trying to work out what to do with it. While I’d love to do something without a sewing machine, by the time I get round to using this I hope to have a new one anyway so can do something super neat and speedy :)

Current possibilities are:

  • coasters: 8 from one fat quarter (!) from ‘Made-by-Fabi’ here,or one with a cute quote from ‘Saltwater-Kids’ here
  • a sunglasses case, like this one from ‘Create Craft Love’
  • line a purse that I will *definitely* make in the future
  • maybe a camera case would be possible?

What do you do with your fat quarters? The simpler the better but I can keep any more complicated ideas for future!

What to make?! (& hand sewing)

1 May

I thought an easy way to spur myself on is to try and think in advance of what I want to do rather than waiting until something pops up! My boyfriend told me after I completed my cross stitch that it’d be cool if I did one without a pattern – I think I will need to practice some more before I can do that though…

So I now have a “pipeline” page where I will put all of things which I am thinking of making (generally links to tutorials) so please visit it here if you are interested :)

I don’t have a sewing machine yet, so any hand-sewing suggestions would be so so appreciated please please please!