Sunday, 30 January 2011

'Make Do' Cakes!

I was feeling quite peckish and nothing in the cupboards or fridge was grabbing my fancy. Cakes and biscuits were what I was craving. But they have to be gluten free, because of my intolerance to wheat and gluten. I look at a few recipes; chocolate cake? I have no chocolate. Ginger cake? Nope, no ginger! Lemon cake? Nope, no lemons either...Grrrr!!!

My mum used to say that cakes don't have to be fancy, just as long as you have the basic ingredients; eggs, flour, butter and sugar. Sometimes you just have to 'make do', she'd say.

I find some margarine in the back of the fridge, would it be enough? I have exactly 5oz, it will have to do, better than nothing. No caster sugar, but loads of granulated. Enough gluten free self raising flour and eggs. I hunt down the vanilla extract, I can't bake without it.

OK, here goes.

Preheat oven Gas Mark 6
I put 5oz Stork margarine into a large bowl, adding 5oz Granulated Sugar and beat together for a few minutes, by hand. I then crack 2 Medium Eggs into a small bowl and whisked in 2tsp Vanilla Extract. I add this to the marg and sugar. Oops, just realized 2 eggs may be too much...oh well, too late. I beat the ingredients together for a few minutes, until smooth. I would beat for longer but my arm hurts. I weigh out 5oz Gluten Free Self-raising Flour and seive this onto the eggy mixture, beating until nice and smooth.

I place 12 paisley cake cases into a muffin tin, filling each with a tablespoon of cake mix, putting the extra mixture into a greased ramekin. Placed them in the center of the oven and wait for 20mins until golden on top (26 minutes for the ramekin).

I wait for them to cool (about 10 minutes) and make myself a cup of tea. Now the verdict...not sure what to expect...I bite into one, it's actually really nice. In fact, who am I kidding, it's blooming delicious!

 Soft, delicous, moist cake with a slight crunchy top. Don't think these will last too long.                         

I'd better make some more!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Lavender Cushion for a Friend

My friend recently had a baby boy. I wanted to give her a gift, which she wouldn't have to share with Baby.
I mean Baby already gets all the presents!
I hummed and hawed for ages as to what to buy for her. Then, whilst rummaging through my fabric samples, I found a beautiful floral piece, and instantly thought of her. What could I make? A pin cushion? No, I mean when will she have time to sew?

Deciding on a lavender cushion, I got to work straight away, using calico for the back, filling it with beanbag filling and a tablespoon of lavender. It didn't take long to finish. So easy to create and so pretty to look at.
I feel like keeping it for myself now. But I won't. I hope she likes it.
 Cushion size 8x8 inches.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Pretty Wooden Boxes

My collection of wooden boxes began a few years ago. Here is a small selection.

I found these beautiful trinket boxes either at car boot sales or in charity shops. The most I've spent on a box is three pounds and fifty pence, but I've seen exact boxes being sold for around ten pounds at my local car boot.

Size of chest is 10.5cm x 7.5cm x 8cm

My favourites are the handcrafted carved jewellery boxes from India. I just love the floal designs. I'd like to try my hands at carving wood, but not sure I'd have the patience to complete a task.

Small box 15cm x 10cm x 6cm
Large box 22cm x 15cm x 6cm

Some of the trinket and jewellery boxes are inlayed with brass, which are very pretty.

I especially love the design on ths box, simple yet stunning. I think I paid about two pounds for this one.

12.5cm x 12.5cm x 6cm


My daughter found this tiny trinket box in a charity shop which she gave to me for Christmas. It's so cute with my favourite floral carving.

7.5cm x 4.5cm x 3.5cm

I don't use all of my boxes for storage. They mostly sit on the windowsill looking pretty.

Do you have a favourite collection?

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Spiral Design Pin Cushions

I love these little pin cushions. I think they're really cute, if I may say so myself. When I made my first pin cushion (below and seen in my first post) I hadn't planned to create the spiral pattern, it just sort of happened. I had no idea what design to create, so I just stuck the needle in and began stitching. A circular shape took place which finally turned into spirals. Because it still looked a little plain I followed the spiral shape with a contrasting colour. The buttons add an extra special touch. They were then filled with beanbag filling. Personally, I prefer the spiral designs on the round and square cushions.
I will definitely be making more pin cushions and experimenting with different designs. 
They were so easy to put together and will make such cute gifts.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Bargain Welsh Dresser.

I have always wanted an old Welsh Dresser, but refused to pay out hundreds of pounds for one. I found this gorgeous antique dresser in my local charity shop, last week, at a bargain price of £60 pounds including delivery. It now sits proudly in my living room. I love it so much!

I'm not sure of it's age or whether it is oak or mahogany, but it is such a beautiful piece of old furniture. I now need to invest in a pot of good quality beeswax and give it a little bit of tender loving.
Since taking these photos I have moved the ornaments around. In fact I've moved them around quite a few times. My dresser will definitely be featured in future posts.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Present for my Nephew

I was quite chuffed when my mum asked if I'd used the sewing machine to make this cushion. No, was my answer, I did it all by hand. I really enjoyed making this cushion, and very pleased with the result. I actually need to do one more row of red stitching. I only noticed after taking the final pictures.
I've made it for my nephew who will turn eight next month. I used pillow cases which I picked up, new in a charity shop, for fifty pence each. I cut out 6in squares and stitched them together, keeping the stitching on the outside. I think it adds character to the cushion.  After hemming the cushion the size approx is 10in square. I made a internal cushion and filled it with bean bag filling. I sewed on letters cut out of felt and some old buttons, to add an extra special touch.
The last two photo's are closer to the actual colours. Using my mobile phone camera isn't the greatest in dim lighting, and works best in natural light. I'll have to practise more. I do have use of my daughter's camera, but I don't want to rely on it too much.
Now I'll have to make one for my other nephew who is obsessed with cushions.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Creamy Chicken with Bacon and Leeks.

On Sunday I cooked one of my favourite meals, and I must say it was very delicious! And of course, it's gluten free and very easy to make. 
Preheat oven Gas 7/220c/425f. Place large roasting tray into the oven. Chop up 3 small Sweet Potatoes so they look like chunky chips. Heat 1 tbs Sunflower Oil in a large frying pan. Fry sweet potatoes for about 5 minutes until golden brown. Place potatoes on tray in the oven to finish cooking. In the same frying pan fry 2/3 small carrots for 2 minutes. Add to oven tray. Next, fry 6/8 rashers of chopped streaky bacon until crispy. Put to one side in a bowl. Now, fry about 10 sliced Button Mushroom, until golden brown. I actually forgot to buy mushrooms today. Add mushrooms to the bowl of bacon. In a small pan melt a knob of butter and add 1 Sliced Leek. Cook on a low heat until soft. Back to the large pan. You shouldn't need any more oil, but if you do just add a small knob of butter. Fry 300g chopped Chicken Breast on medium heat until golden brown and cooked through. Check the potatoes and carrots. If they are not brown enough turn up the heat to Gas 8/230c/450f. If they are brown enough turn down to Gas 5/190c/375f. I prefer mine very crispy, nearly burned! I need the crunch! Back to the chicken. Add bacon, mushrooms and leeks to the chicken. Add 100g Philadelphia and 150ml Double Cream to chicken and stir well. Add half tsp Mixed Herbs and Ground Black Pepper to taste. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Taste, add more pepper if needed. There is enough salt from the bacon so do not add any salt. Dinner's ready! Serve and enjoy! This is a good hearty serving for both me and my daughter, but if you cook more vegetables it can serve 3 to 4 people. Best eaten on the day.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Little Knitted Purse


My first knitted creation!

6mm needles, cheap wool, piece of lining, needle, button, tired wrists and fingers.
Size approx 16x12cm

I haven't attempted to knit in years. I've never been a knitter. Why not? Because I couldn't master anything other than the 'knit stitch'. My attempts at knit one, purl one was always a total fail! So, this is an area I would like to develop. I used to make small hats and scarves for my dolls, but never really had the confidence or patience to make larger pieces. Maybe I can make small square samples (knit one, purl two, drop four), save them up and make a woolly quilt - now that's an idea! We'll see.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Happy New Year! Happy New Me!


My New Year’s resolution is to be creative!!!  Sew, knit, bake and maybe paint. Anything really, as long as I’m creating something pleasing to the eyes. My first creation, which I am very proud of, is this little pin cushion, which took me about an hour to make. I then made a lavender bag, which I gave as a gift to my sister in law, who loved it. Both are hand stitched.

I think I’m going to enjoy my new projects!