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

New recipes day January 29, 2008

Filed under: Food — lauravw @ 10:16 pm

LinguineOn Sunday I finally got round to trying a couple of recipes from Nigella Express. We started bright and early(ish) with pancakes. The book has an excellent recipe for homemade instant pancake mix: you mix flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and vanilla sugar up and store it in a big container. Then whenever you feel the urge to have pancakes, you can simply measure out 150g of the dry ingredients, and mix in an egg and some milk. We made one batch of pancakes (some with chocolate chips) and we now have enough pancake mix stored in the cupboard for two or three more batches. The pancakes themselves are somewhere between thinner English pancakes and thicker American buttermilk pancakes.

In the evening it was pasta for dinner: linguine with chestnut mushrooms, thyme and lemon. I even bought fresh thyme, which is somewhat extravagant for me. I did alter the recipe a little: the book directs you to simply mix the mushrooms in with a mixture of oil, lemon juice and other seasonings. Something about eating raw mushrooms with pasta did not appeal to me, so I put the mixture in a hot pan for a couple of minutes before mixing them with the pasta. The end result was pretty tasty and I think I’ll cook this again later this week (because I have quite a lot of fresh thyme to use up!).


Housewarming gift January 28, 2008

Filed under: Gifts — lauravw @ 9:26 pm

My parents will be moving house in a month or two, and I’ve been gathering bits and bobs for the housewarming present I’m giving them.

It’s a collection of useful household items, presented in a pretty container and tied with ribbon. I tried hard to think of all the things a person needs when they move house, and think that if I had had all of these supplies gathered together in one container it would have been very helpful.

Housewarming gift

The metal pail is from a little gift shop near where I live, and I’ve filled it with:

  • Key tags to help them label all their new keys
  • Plasters/band-aids
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Ibuprofen
  • Sellotape
  • Glue
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Blue tack
  • Matches
  • Cloths
  • Plastic food containers
  • Postage stamps

Other things I thought might help people in a new home included: menus from local takeaway restaurants, leaflets about things to do in the local area, a torch and batteries, address labels, a notebook and pens, candles, and an emergency bar of chocolate (or six).


Garden bird watch 2008 January 27, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — lauravw @ 12:55 pm

We spent a quiet hour this morning (whilst making some chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast) watching the bird activity in our garden – because this weekend is the RSPB’s annual big garden bird watch.

We didn’t do too badly, but I was a little disappointed that some of our regular visitors didn’t make an appearance. For the last 12 months or so, especially during the spring and summer, goldfinches were often on our bird feeders. But today, not one of them came to see us during the designated hour. The robin did appear though – he’s not been visiting us for that long, so I don’t think he would have been on our figures for last year’s bird watch.

Did you take part? I hope you saw some interesting birds.

UPDATE: Two hours after my hour of birdwatching, two goldfinches did arrive and eat some sunflower seeds. But they were too late to be counted – I hope they will be more punctual next year.


Tuesday Night Craft Club: table runners January 23, 2008

Filed under: Crafts,Sewing,Tuesday Night Craft Club — lauravw @ 7:41 pm

Table runnerAt this week’s Tuesday Night Craft Club I made another set of table runners. This time there was sewing involved, but it was still very easy. I got some black and white fabric at Ikea this weekend – it looks really good on our oak dining table, and fits in well with the overall colourscheme of the room.

Luckily the fabric’s width was ideal as the length of the runners – and I made them 45cm wide. This is a bit narrower than the ones I made from the oilcloth, and I think it gives them good proportions. (Of course, if I want to make the oilcloth ones narrower, all I have to do is get out the scissors and cut.)

It is such a quick and easy project to do, and yet the end result really makes you feel you’ve achieved something. Plus, I think these would make good gifts, if you knew what fabrics would suit the recipient’s home.

I’m so enjoying having a designated craft night: it means I know I’ve always got a few hours each week where I can get on with things. I’ve been reading a little more of Bend The Rules Sewing, and I think my next project may be to make baby bibs for the four (!)friends of mine who are currently expecting babies. One is due in about four days, so I don’t think I’ll have them ready in time for that one, but I guess that people don’t need bibs for newborns anyway.


Duvet cover (3) January 22, 2008

Filed under: Crafts,Sewing — lauravw @ 9:47 pm

Over the weekend I went back and forth on the whole duvet cover idea: the cost of the project is giving me cold feet. At some point I realised that, for roughly the same amount of money, I could buy a Cath Kidston duvet cover.

But then I read a couple of things that changed my mind, and reminded me that, although making things yourself can sometimes save you money, that’s not the main reason we craft. In Grand Designs magazine (I didn’t even know there was a Grand Designs magazine – my mother lent me a copy), I read a quote from a man who was has built his dream home:

“Try not to get upset if you go over budget. Your project should be a passion, if you are worrying about money then it’s probably not worth doing.”

And then I started to read Bend The Rules Sewing (a book I’ve only just started on – more on it when I’ve read a bit more), where Amy Karol says:

“Nowadays you can get almost anything you want at a large discount store for less money than making it from scratch. If your main goal for a particular project is to be creative and have fun, you will be happy.”

Something about both of these statements gave me the extra push to just get on with it. What’s the worst that could happen? Yes, I will spend quite a bit on fabric, but I will be creating something new and unique to me, and the Joel Dewberry fabric with the birds on makes me feel happy. If I don’t like the end result, I can unpick it and make it into something else instead.

And so I have started ordering fabrics – ironically, I have ordered all the prints I need except for the bird fabric. It’s out of stock at a lot of US fabric sites, and though I’ve seen it at a British site, that would cost me more than waiting for the US ones to get it back in stock (even if you take into account the cost of shipping from the US).

Here’s what I’ve gone for in the end – the Joel Dewberry Aviary prints on one side:

Possible duvet pattern?

And on the reverse, Sole by Valori Wells for Free Spirit:

Duvet cover- reverse.


Up to January 20, 2008

Filed under: Up to — lauravw @ 7:25 pm

Trying: Sanctuary face wash

More than I usually spend on face wash, but Boots are giving away £5 vouchers for Sanctuary skincare products, which means you can pick this up at the moment for £0.95. I’m enjoying using it, and my skin feels good after using it – though once I run out, I doubt I’ll be able to bring myself to spend almost £6 on what is, essentially, soap.

Eating: Fran’s Deep Milk Chocolate

This is delicious. We’re visiting Seattle later this year, so I’ll be able to pack a few of these in my suitcase on the way back. Which will also mean I won’t be able to eat them all during the flight.

Listening to: The Go! Team – Proof of Youth

I put this on when I’m washing up – it’s cheery, and sounds like it’s recorded by a really enthusiastic and talented group of people.  Plus the music part of their website is set up to look like a cassette player and a stack of tapes, which is fun. You can listen to lots of their music on the site.


Duvet cover (2) January 18, 2008

Filed under: Interiors,Sewing — lauravw @ 10:06 pm

When I decided to make a duvet cover I knew it would be time consuming, but I never thought it would take me THREE HOURS with my graphics software to put together a pattern for the thing. And when I say pattern, I mean it in the most basic sense of the word: a simple grid with different fabric in each square. And also, remember I said my duvet cover would be reversible? Well I’ve only managed to plan for the front side so far, so there is still much time to be spent with pixels before I get near the sewing machine.

There will be either 16 or 8 squares, each either 50cm or 100cm across. I checked a few websites and 200cm square seems to be the standard measurement for a British duvet cover. (Though before I cut anything I will measure just to be sure!)

Joel Dewberry prints.

I had imagined I would use four different prints, all from this Joel Dewberry collection. But I couldn’t get them to sit right with each other – I don’t thinking matching up four prints is my strong point. There are two I love more than the rest (though I do love most of them), and so I’m going with those. Even then there are plenty of options to deviate from this layout – I could have rectangles of 100 by 50cm, for example… We’ll see.

You won’t believe it took me three hours to do this, but here’s the pattern I may go for:

Possible duvet pattern?

Now that I’ve narrowed it down a bit, I can work out the best way of ordering these particular prints. And then I can start thinking about what to put on the other side…