Saturday, 1 December 2012

My Christmas take on Jammy Dodgers 

Yesterday evening my housemate and I decided it had been far too long since we'd done any creative baking together, and so decided on making these as the pudding for a dinner we were invited to. Needless to say they went down well...

Recipe: (makes 24 and some snowflakes)
125g butter (I used Flora, which meant I had to add more flour, but feel free to experiment!)
150b light brown sugar
2 egg yolks
225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spices
Grated rind of 1 orange
Pot of jam of your choice- we used Bonne Maman Raspberry jam. Yummy!

Cream the butter and sugar together, add yolks and stir well, then add rind and spices, and finally the flour. Depending on which you used - butter or margarine -  don't be afraid to add more flour, if it's sticking to your fingers it's not going to work !

Wrap the mixture in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes (when you do this it firms the mixture up a little, gives the finished biscuit a nice crunch, and overall makes rolling it out/your life easier). Think of it as an opportune moment for a cup of tea and bit of relaxation.

Preheat your oven to 180'C and line a baking tray or 3 with baking parchment.

Flour your work-surface well and roll out the mixture till it is about 3 mm thick, or as thin as you dare. (We, as poor students, used a glass to cut out the circles and spend the money on the snowflake cookie cutter set instead. Well worthwhile.) Using a snowflake cookie cutter, or any Christmas-themed cutter, cut the middle out of 1/2 the circles. We decided to cook these too rather than recycle the mixture. Cook for around 6 minutes, take out of the oven and spread jam on the whole disks, placing the tops on etc. and put back in the oven for a further 3 minutes approx. , or until the tops have started to turn golden brown (see photo below). Be careful when taking the biscuits out the oven as the jam will be uncomfortably hot and has tendencies to randomly spill out from the sides if you aren't careful!

Enjoy, and happy 1st December. Christmas is officially coming :)

How cute do these look! Very nice as little nibbles, and would make great stocking fillers if you put a handful in a bag!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

There is something fascinating about writing just one sentence and creating so much intrigue, emotional response and curiosity. Reading novels nearly everyday since I began my degree, and not coming across such powerful language makes me ask: what is so different about these short stories? I think maybe it's because of the indulgence of the imagination, and being conditioned to expect a beginning, middle, and end from a story; there is no space for such tradition in a sentence, and so we form the rest in our heads for the biggest impact and emotional response. A few years ago, I read a book of Saki's short stories which were also very effective, yet I wonder whether postmodernism has taken the story one step further and shortened it to merely a sentence, or whether it is a less abstract and prosaic haiku. Food for thought there.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Enjoying this luxury called 'time', (I don't really have spare time, it's all a self-imposed delusion that I don't have essays to write and I don't have multiple books to read and analyse!) I have indulged in new music. 

Youth by Daughter, and all her other songs are really quite astoundingly beautiful and sometimes chilling, but gorgeous on the ears when reading. Finding 'reading music' is actually quite difficult because you don't want something that is too upbeat and be distracting, yet if it is too subtle it gets lost or makes you unhelpfully sleepy! So besides Daughter I have also been enjoying Tracy Chapman, The Cinematic Orchestra, Of Monsters and Men, Radical Face, Noosa, Penny and Sparrow and The Oh Hello's. Here are some links to get you guys started. If you like one I'm sure you'll like them all- no surprise dubstep I promise!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

After finally getting past the last few crazy weeks at uni, I've treated myself to an afternoon of doodling and creative activities :D
Will try and replace this terrible quality photo with a better one soon :S

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

So those photos that I wanted to print. I think I've just decided how !
Moments like this are when I wish I had a place of my own where I could decorate as I pleased...
Such endless possibilities: I think these photo tiles could work really well in a kitchen, or if you were feeling very artistic you could use very small tiles and photos to create a larger mosaic picture. As I'm writing this I've realised I'm getting to that stage again where I have 'creative itches'. The last few weeks of summer resulted in one such creative splurge of activity, and being back at uni drowning in work and reading have resulted in wanting to be creative again...only I have no time to do so.

Things I've decided in the last few days I want to try and do as a result of this 'itch':
- buy a roll of magnetised sheeting with a white varnished side, draw one massive doodle on it with multiple sharpies and colours, then trim it to the size of my fridge.
- multi-tiered ombre cake
-picture tiles
-variously flavoured cake-pops (I've only ever made chocolate sponge ones), I'm talking about ones like sticky toffee or ginger cake dipped in caramel, or banana cake with dried cranberries

The list goes on really.

Thankfully, my university have finally jumped on the bandwagon and given us a reading week, hallelujah! Only a week and a half to go before I will be able to get a heavy creative session in. *little excited dance*

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Hehehehe. Reminiscent of the Nicholas Cage cats

Internet is now up and running (hooray!), now we just need to get our oven fixed so I can get baking again :(

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

I will soon have internet in my house i.e. this evening if I am 'man-enough' to do something technological without intervention from the other sex...

Wish me luck guys!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Heya guys, sorry for the lack of blogs, but unfortunately our uni house has no internet and won't do for another 2 weeks, the horror and frustration of which is indescribable! Currently swapping homemade cakes for internet at friends' houses (which is working well so far), but I'm also suffering from the absence of a sewing machine and fabric. In the meantime though I can provide a new top five songs for this month which I am currently listening to in Cafe Nero (hence having internet).

1. Welcome Home, by Radical Face
2. Walk on By, by Noosa
3. Creature, by Penny and Sparrow
4. Dirty Paws, by Of Monsters and Men
5. Hello my Old Heart, by The Oh Hello's

And pretty much anything by Fat Freddy's Drop or Jack Savoretti who will both always have a place in my musical heart :)

Friday, 21 September 2012

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

This is the product of my day's work. It isn't quite finished yet, but will be later this evening, I realise now the last VW is wonky... but in the words of my mum when looking at imperfections in textiles "it adds character".

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Henna-time :D Will be adding more to the bottom one when I have the time (Monday possibly)

Friday, 7 September 2012

Sorry for the lack of blogging- I've been working unsociably long hours for a newspaper in London to earn some much needed money, which hasn't left me with much time, well for anything really! Last week before I go back to uni, which means a lot of things to do: making cushions, pincushions, cute stuffed elephant chains, anything else I have time for really in-between seeing friends and relatives.
The top three photos were taken on my phone whilst at the Oxted & Edenbridge Show (we go most years) in the flower tent, the last proves how early I've been getting up to work in London as this was the beautiful sunrise on Thursday :)

Monday, 3 September 2012

Saw this shared on facebook today and am now seriously considering doing something similar in my room (which I have spent all day cleaning, so proud of myself for finally doing it after putting it off since I've been back from Cornwall!)

Saturday, 1 September 2012


Had great fun quickly making this with my mum- I've been looking forward to this all summer, and now have 5m (maybe 6m by next week) all ready for my uni room :) Now to just make the cushions for our living room!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

How to: Make fabric flowers

For this flower I've used 7 circles, but feel free to work in other triangular numbers. 5, 7 and 9 work very well, though I'd stick to 5 if the fabric you'll use is thick.

I've doubled up the thread to make sure it doesn't snap when I pull the stitches together

Fold into a quarter

Do a few running stitches, making sure the needle ends coming up through the fabric  rather than down so your petal will have a nice shape to it.

Like this

After threading a few 'petals' on you should have something that looks like this, don't worry if they aren't all facing the same way, this can be sorted out later.

Pushing against the double knot, gather the fabric till it the petals are tight against one another

To bring your flower together, run a few stitches into the first petal and pull together

Secure the first and last petals with a few stitches higher up the petal and then tie off the thread.

To make the middle, you can either attach a button, or using a circle of fabric, more running stitches and some wadding, you can make something like the above flower

This is the horribly untidy back of the flower, after a bit more practice they will hopefully look a lot neater!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Cake-pops, child-minding and the inevitable messy chaos.

So, the other day I volunteered to look after my mum's friend's foster children whilst they went to look at a sewing machine they've had their eye on for a while. It seemed like a good opportunity to get my head around what it will be like to have younger children around and get into the 'big sister' role as my parents have for some months now been in the process of becoming foster parents themselves, and there could be children in the house as soon as October! All being said and done, I had promised a cake of sorts for my friend's birthday and involving young children in baking seemed a good idea at the time.  Unfortunately, I soon remembered my standards of hygiene and a young child's are very different i.e. licking the extra icing off biscuits "so they dried quicker"to quote on of them, and so decided to make cupcake shaped biscuits to keep them occupied whilst I got my head round cake pops for the first time. Things I learnt whilst multitasking? a) young children get bored very quickly, even if they do enjoy eating pure icing and cake decorations whilst they think I'm not looking! b) hide and seek is the best game invented by adults ever- say you'll count whilst they hide, quickly get done whatever you couldn't whilst they were around, say, carefully covering cake balls in chocolate, go and find them quickly, and send them off again for another minute.

Thinking of how to explain how I make my chocolate cake unfortunately involves a bit of maths and ratios, but I'll try and explain it as clearly as possible:

You will need:
Butter or Margarine (I use Flora which gives a lighter texture, but has less taste than butter, not that you notice with all the chocolate)
Self-Raising Flour
Cocoa Powder
High grade cocoa (I used 100% cocoa which you can buy from Waitrose in little cylinders)
1x 200g bar chocolate of choice per 12 cake pops
Cake Pop tray (available from John Lewis)

1) Weigh eggs and take note of that number! Also heat your oven to 180'C 
2) Weigh sugar to equal that of the eggs and the same for the butter, mix together 
3) Weigh out cocoa powder to a third of the weight of the eggs, make up the rest of the weight with the self-raising flour 
4) Add a good handful of finely grated dark chocolate (the darker the better the chocolately taste)
5) Add a small splash of milk, just enough to loosen the mixture but not enough to make it too runny. for a mixture weighed out to two medium eggs I probably added 15ml of milk to give an idea.
6) Grease cake pop tray and dust with flour too, then fill the tray without the holes to the top, place empty tray on top and lock (basically whatever the tray tells you to do on the instruction manual)
7) I've found that Flora cooks quicker than normal butter, so my cake pops probably only took around 11-12 minutes to cook.
8) Melt chocolate of choice and dip each chocolate cake ball in and coat well, place onto something that will fit in your fridge and cover with tin foil for easy removal after once the chocolate has set. Note: if you want to cover them in sprinkles, obviously do this when the chocolate is still melted...
9) Decorate! 

You can just about see the cake pop balls in the corner,
along with the cupcake biscuits.
In order to get the cake pops in one piece to my friend's,
I covered an old shoe box lid with greaseproof paper, made
small holes and put the cake pop sticks through so they
 didn't go every where. Thankfully it worked!

The happy welcoming of said cake pops
The first set of cake pops went down so well,
barely making it out of my house that I was
asked to make some more for pudding. My
sister in law helped me decorate these quickly
as it was getting a bit late.

It also turns out the cake pop sticks are quite
expensive, so these were served without!

Monday, 27 August 2012

This has been my latest crafts-related project, making fabric flowers! They're pretty easy to make with charming and quick results, so my aim is to put some of these on a cushion I will be making at some point to decorate my new uni house in September, (there will be a VW campervan cushion in there somewhere I promise). Seeing as I'll be making quite a few of these, I'll knock up a how-to guide. Tomorrow's job will be making cake pops for the first time though, and maybe altering my cookie recipe to make cookie dough pops as a birthday present for a good friend of mine- at least I'll be there to enjoy one or two :D

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Why? Because they could. Quite happily ROTFLing with my brother at this earlier so I thought it deserved a mention.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Giles Abbott: The man that is proof you can still enjoy storytelling as an adult. My friends and I saw him perform in Falmouth and would happily go and watch him again, his partner/girlfriend (unsure as to which) is also particularly talented at poetry and gave some very good recitals of her work.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Birthday, friends, Falmouth and Truro
Look at what I got for making owl cushions! 

Truro Cathedral looking particularly grand in the sunlight. Bring on graduating in there next year!

It turns out lighting birthday candles on a windy beach isn't as easy as it looks...some imagination on my behalf was required.

How to make friends and alienate people at the beach. We did receive some strange looks whilst preparing these photos!

You'd never believe it was Cornwall! 

Falmouth high-street looking very pretty with summery bunting up.