Finding work for idle hands: making, baking and more.

Tiramisu brownie August 28, 2007

Filed under: Food — lauravw @ 4:34 pm

Yum.Number three in (apparently) a series of tiramisu posts – see one and two here.

I wish I had thought of this myself, but mostly I am just so glad that someone (Amy) did: tiramisu brownies. Amy is a genius. The combination of brownies and tiramisu seems so obvious to me now, and yet the idea had never occurred to me before.

I made a batch of brownies from a recipe I have, and then for the creamy part and the alcohol/coffee liquid I used this recipe. I have some dishes with flat bottoms, and I found these to be ideal since they ensure that all parts of the brownie are in contact with the Kahlua at all times. (The ones in this picture are not the flat bottomed dishes – I used these ones for the first serving, and then remembered about the flat ones…)


Sipping on juice and juice August 17, 2007

Filed under: Food,Shopping — lauravw @ 7:41 pm

There seems to be an ever increasing range of fancy soft drinks on offer these days, and over the last few weeks I’ve been enjoying sampling a few as I’ve been out and about.

A few favourites so far:

Wake Up from Firefly Tonics. The packaging alone will make you want to buy a bottle of this – the bottle is orange, with a nice black and white photo on it. Taste-wise it doesn’t, to me at least, have the sort of flavour I’d expect, given the ingredients (red grapes and peaches, with green tea, Siberian Ginseng, Kola Nut and Yerba Maté) – to me, it tastes like a weak peach cordial. Which is a good thing – it’s yummy, but not sickly sweet. This is my favourite one.

More local to where I live (Nottinghamshire) are the drinks from Belvoir Fruit Farms. I’ve enjoyed the pressés, but haven’t tried the cordial yet, so there’s a project for me.
And also: Mangajo drinks. Like the Firefly Tonics, these have green tea in and are refreshing.


Update on fabric importing August 14, 2007

Filed under: Shopping — lauravw @ 6:55 pm

After spending a very long time looking at lots of pretty prints, I finally made a decision and ordered some fabric from the US. Sadly, while Reprodepot had the print I wanted, the price for it was a little higher than many of their other prints, which meant by the time I added in the cost of shipping, I’d be over the limit and would have to pay import duty when it arrived.

So I shopped around and found some Amy Butler prints at store called Z and S Fabrics. I bought a yard and a half of an Amy Butler print (for a skirt) and a yard and a bit each of some other patterns that caught my eye. It took just over a week for the fabrics to show up in the post here, which is excellent – post from the US usually seems to take that long, which means it must have been shipped promptly. The prices were great (there was a sale on when I ordered), and the fabric was beautifully packed.

If you’re in the UK and want to order fabric from the US, this is what you need to know.


Bathroom blind August 12, 2007

Filed under: Sewing — lauravw @ 5:47 pm

Bathroom blind.Last week I made a blind for our bathroom window. Our bathroom is an awkward shape, and as a result, the bathtub is right under the window, which means that the shower sprays straight onto the window and windowsill – consequently any kind of window covering needs to be pretty good at dealing with water. Leaving the window uncovered is not an option: the window faces the street, and though the glass is frosted, I know for a fact that this does very little to protect one’s modesty. (How do I do this? Let’s just say we’ve had neighbours with similar windows.)

When we first moved in, I cut up a shower curtain and used sticky velcro to attach it to the (plastic) window frame. This looked reasonable for a while, but on humid days the stickyness would sometimes give up the ghost, and I had to replace it a few times. Now that I’ve got the hang of my sewing machine, I felt I could come up with something a little more professional. I’ve not seen much in the way of waterproof fabric for sale, so I bought a very nice shower curtain – from Asda, though I like to think it looks like it’s from somewhere expensive. It’s made from polyester, and I had some polyester thread so I used that for all the stitching.

I also bought a tension rod to hold the blind in place – there are tiles on either side of the window, and so attaching anything would have been difficult. I measured the space for the window, and added a little to each side for a hem. To the top and bottom I added enough extra to allow for a space to put the tension rod through, and enough to put a heavyish tube of metal in the bottom (this is what’s making the blind lie flat – with the previous window covering, I had nothing to weight it down and so it curled at the edges).

The great thing about working with a polyester shower curtain is that it doesn’t fray. You can’t iron the fabric lest it melt, but the benefit of this is that you don’t have to bother getting the iron out. I didn’t want to pin things in place because it would leave big holes, so I used sticky tape to hold things in place when I was making the flaps along the top and bottom, and that worked out fine.

I’m really pleased with the result – it’s certainly improved the look of our bathroom (which is overdue for a complete overhaul). I also have quite a bit of the shower curtain fabric left – it’s pretty but I’m not really sure what to use it for. Any suggestions?


Something you may want

Filed under: Shopping — lauravw @ 5:19 pm

…an Orla Kiely doormat. Tempting.


Tony Wilson August 11, 2007

Filed under: Music — lauravw @ 11:17 am

While listening to the bizarre but enjoyable Bob Dylan’s theme time radio hour last night on BBC 6 Music, we heard that Tony Wilson has died.

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say this marks the end of an era – he worked to raise the profile of Manchester and its musicians for as long as I’ve been alive.

You can read more about him at the Manchester Evening News, and Radio 4 this morning interviewed Stephen Morris from New Order about him – quotes from that interview seem to have been used for this article.

I went to university in Manchester and for me one of the most exciting things about arriving there for the start of my course was being in the place where so much of my favourite music had come from. We went to the Hacienda on Tuesday nights for indie night, and Dry Bar – both of which were numbered in the same system used to number all the music put out by Factory Records (FAC 51 and 201 respectively).


Sewing cushion covers August 8, 2007

Filed under: Interiors,Sewing — lauravw @ 6:51 pm

CushionsOver the past couple of months I’ve made a few simple cushion covers to brighten up our sofa and guest bedroom. Each and every time I come to make one, I get confused: I have a couple of books about sewing, but their instructions when it comes to making cushion covers are either too simplified (more like pillowcases – without zips) or painfully ornate.

And nowhere – nowhere! – could I find a simple guide that details how big each bit of fabric needs to be when you’re making a simple cushion cover with a zip on the back of it. So I made a few notes on the way I’ve made my cushion covers, mostly so that next time I come to make one I will be able to do so without rummaging through the pages of all my books again.

I find I like a fairly generous seam allowance – I am not yet very confident with a sewing machine, and I like a bit of leeway. But you don’t want too generous a seam, because then you’ll end up with lumps and bumps once you turn your cushion the right way out.

I use 1cm on each of the outer edges, and then 2.5 cm along the edges where the zip will go (because these sides get “seam finished” – a term I had to look up a few times before it sunk in. Basically, you hem them so they look neat). This 2.5cm equates to 1cm that gets folded over and hemmed, the usual 1cm I’ve allowed for seams, and an extra 0.5cm wiggle room because I find it a bit easier to put in the zip if I’m working with a little bit extra fabric.


So if you have a square cushion cover measuring 40cm by 40cm, the pieces to cut out would be:

  • Front: 42cm by 42cm (1 + 40 + 1).
  • Back pices x 2:  23.5cm by 42cm (1 + 20 + 2.5)
    These two pieces don’t have to be identical, because the zip doesn’t have to go in the centre. I usually put mine over to one side – the thing to remember is that the total width of these two pieces needs to add up to 1 + 1 + 40 + 2.5 + 2.5, which is 47.

So what do you think? Am I going about this completely the wrong way? If you have any tips, please leave a comment!


Easy tiger August 6, 2007

Filed under: Shopping — lauravw @ 6:08 pm

I’m excited to see on Print and Pattern that Amy Butler’s line of craft papers are now available at Hobbycraft stores. I think the Print and Pattern author is based in London, so I can’t say for certain whether these goodies have reached the provinces yet, but it is promising news. Let’s all remain calm, and move towards Hobbycraft in an orderly fashion…

Print and Pattern also brings news of new stationery items to covet from Chronicle Books. And, as if that wasn’t enough, these pretty transfers for sticking all over your glassware.

So there you have it: good things really do come in threes.