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.

Soon time to do some more of this! Awkward story- I also did a design for the friend in the bottom photo on her other arm, and when I went to see her over 3 MONTHS later for her birthday she still had a negative image on her arm of a load of flowers. She said she didn't mind, but I still worry...

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Despite my approbations about being able to enjoy my birthday this year and it being overshadowed by my deferred exams this coming week, my friends have been amazing and proved me wrong. I woke up quite early in my friends' spare room to find a birthday rosette outside my door, went downstairs to have breakfast before getting ready and found the kitchen covered with balloons and 'happy birthday' banners, with a card and presents sitting at my place on the table. After worrying about the extremely rainy morning, and the success rate of my planned picnic on the beach with friends after church, we finished to find all the rain had gone and the sun was shining brightly and strongly! Whilst picking up some things together in Tesco's and being serenaded to the tune of 'happy birthday' very loudly in the car-park, we headed towards Falmouth's main beach, Gyllyngvase (or Gylly if you're local enough to know) and eventually found a good spot amongst all the young families and seasonal tourists. Despite our good friend JP running away (he insists he just fancied a brisk walk) from the occasional pesky wasp, we thoroughly enjoyed our sandwiches, crisps, and of course, cake! I was promptly serenaded and embarrassed again as my friends all sang happy birthday a second time, just with a larger audience of confused locals. I could not have asked for a better day, and I'm rather proud of Falmouth, which actually looked tropical in the sunshine, rather than a bucket of rain half of the year ! Photos of my beautiful local beach to follow soon...

Saturday, 18 August 2012

It's people and bands like Lost Dawn that make me love Cornwall. There's always someone playing live music somewhere, and yesterday it was two lovely guys- a singer/guitarist, and a drummer, in the style of blues rock which was refreshing. 

I've bought my felt, and am far too excited to make one of these for myself when i return home from rainy Cornwall. Actually, make that two- one for my digital camera and one for my manual :)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Here we go! These pretty much cover the whole of the National Firework Championships in good ole Plymouth, though the last set that was tipped to win (we met and talked to one of the teams from the previous night) had their fireworks wiped out, quite literally, from the pier by a large wave due to the strong winds. Ah well. If their beginning was anything to go by, it would've been quite something to see.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Currently in Plymouth for the National Firework Championships (yes such things exist! haha) Words cannot really describe the extravagance the teams go to on their displays, so these are a few photos to keep you going till I have enough internet bandwidth to upload some videos. Bring on day two!

Monday, 13 August 2012
These look pretty awesome, and it involves upcycling which I'm always a big supporter of.