Reboot Required. Shut Down Now?

I want to create but I’m struggling to be creative at present. I have (as usual) many WIP (Works In Progress) projects but few are advancing either due to lack of skill, drive or time. In these circumstances, I tend to turn to baking or small crochet projects because I’m more likely to finish them rather than larger sewing or other crafty things.

Even so, I can’t say I’ve completed much since I last blogged. I’ve made a faithful gingerbread cake upon request of the boyo, some jam-centred biscuits, a coconut sponge with raspberry jam and buttercream (a Caribbean Victoria Sponge, one might say!), some quick gooey chocolate puddings, another marbled cheesecake (which was extra delicious) and an eggless banana and walnut loaf.

I’ve always loved the texture of coconut cakes so I scoured the internet for a recipe and ended up mashing together a bit of one and another to make the end result. It didn’t look all that great but it tasted rather fabulous. I took it into work and got the thumbs up from our service users. πŸ™‚ I also farmed off some cheesecake to a friend because there was far too much for me alone to eat (and Karl didn’t like the dark chocolate element of this one) but I’ve not heard back about that one so maybe it didn’t meet the benchmark… It was quite dense rather than the fluffier, lighter types of cheesecake. 


 

On the sewing front I’ve not touched the blazer recently and I did start a Sew Simple Amelia Tea Dress in a gorgeous cotton fabric I bought online but I came across some bust-fitting issues so I put it to one side whilst I try to learn how to do a Full Bust Adjustment. I completed a toile for the Butterick dress I was going to make to wear at my friend’s wedding; it’s confirmed that the dress – pretty though it would be – isn’t really going to work on me so I’ve selected a new, completely different style of dress; New Look 6041B. I’ll use the same fabric (luckily I haven’t cut into it yet) and I think it will work well with the drape of the gown. I need to get a shuffle on as it’s only about 7 weeks away and four of those will be mainly crammed with essay writing for an early May deadline!

I dropped Karl and one of his friends off for a steak dinner the other night and, feeling I deserved a little treat myself, I stopped by Hobbycraft on a ‘new yarn’ mission. I was very restrained – I only bought three balls of WI Soft and Chunky so I didn’t have to hide my purchase in the sewing room! πŸ˜‰ I love grey so I opted for grey, teal and cream to make an Afghan cot blanket. I opted for the Easy Ripple Afghan pattern I found here. I didn’t have an 9mm hook as the yarn label suggested so I’ve used an 8mm, which seems to work fine. I was getting along with it swimmingly when I realised I’d made a big mistake so I had to pull it all back to the second row but at least I now know what not to do!

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Because I am using a much studier yarn then the pattern recommends, the furrows are much more pronounced in my creation but I must admit I quite like it. At first I wasn’t sure but then I thought ‘Who decided a blanket had to have straight edges anyway?!’ and ploughed on. Once you get into a rhythm with this it’s very therapeutic.

A quick little project I did today comprised of creating four little Easter treat bags for my nieces in the South West. There are four of them aged 2 – 11 so I appreciate they won’t all want exactly the same (I can’t see the 11-year-old going crazy for stickers anymore…) but, so as not to show favouritism, I’ve tried to keep them similar! Whether Auntie gets more joy making them or nieces get more delight in receiving them is anyone’s guess!

I’m not green-fingered in the slightest – my plants tend to die from too much love and attention – but I love flowers so I replenished the hanging baskets yesterday evening with some cheap purchases from Morrisons. 


I’m attempting to grow a tomato plant and strawberries but I’m not holding my breath… 

Now I have a four day weekend stretching ahead of me I plan to make a real dent in some of my craft projects (and my essay!) so I better get cracking! 

A friend tagged me on this on Facebook and so I had to share it with my sewing-fanatic community! 


We used to car share a lot for work and so she was the sensible voice in my ear when the fabric-hungry demons were tempted! πŸ™‚

Cheesecake update… just because I didn’t take a photo of it that really did it justice before! Must say, it gets tastier with each passing day! πŸ™‚ 


Look at those layers… biscuit base, vanilla filling and chocolate filling. Yum! 

Everyone Say ‘Cheesecake’!

After a whirlwind holiday in which we drove across France, Belgium and Luxembourg to reach Switzerland (and then back again), we’re now home and back to the plod of life.

Insert mandatory photograph of beautiful Swiss mountains in the sunlight here:

Realising early on that skiing was not my ‘thing’, and whilst nursing a persistent cold/cough, I spent many a pleasant morning sipping Swiss versions of English Breakfast Tea (they are horrified by the use of milk) or hot chocolate in tiny chalet cafes, reading a promising psychological thriller that turned out to have the worst ending, whilst Karl skied. 

Whilst I wasn’t a fan of the speeding downhill with two planks strapped to your immobile ankles (someone seriously needs to reinvent ski boots), I was a fan of the super comfy, warm and waterproof salopettes, which meant I could sit outside in minus degrees, whilst it snowed heavily, with my book and enjoy the fresh mountain air and scenery without losing essential circulation.

I also carved a role out for myself as ‘ski caddy’. I mean, golf takes place in good weather with little cars to ferry you about and bags on wheels, so if they get caddies then skiers should definatley get them! All of that ski equipment is heavy and the cable cars are crammed. I enjoyed my little role as support staff, feeling somewhat similar to the 1950’s ideal of sending the hubby off to work fed and ready for the day, and greeting him at the end of the day with a smile, a cuppa and tea on the table. After all, if you can’t live out unrealistic fantasy worlds on holiday, when can you, eh?!

Anyway, back to reality and I had to quickly clear up the sewing room on our return so my sister would have somewhere to sleep when she made a mad dash up from London to collect her ski boots for her forthcoming holiday. Whilst doing so, I realised how much craft stuff I now have and how I have quickly outgrown the little sewing room! I think I need to install a lot of shelves…!

My grey blazer is in progress still (below in ‘fitting mode’) but I wanted the satisfaction of a quick ‘make’ this weekend so I focused on the kitchen. I’ve long wanted to try making a cheesecake as, in truth, it’s my go-to dessert in a restaurant but I’ve not made one myself.

Berry’s American Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake only requires basic ingredients, all of which I had in the house, so it was the obvious choice. 

Okay… so it looks a complete mess (yet a yummy mess at least) but if there’s one thing this blog should have taught you is I don’t ‘do’ presentation very well when it comes to food – I have a tendency to serve lasagne and Shepherd’s pie upside down, for example, as I’m completely inept when it comes to sliding it out of the dish. 

Verdict though? Delicious. A little rich so it needs to be eaten in small portions but that’s only a good thing (for the waistline), surely? I would prefer a lighter filling but taste-wise it’s good. 

For dinner I wanted to make something new but I was limited by the fact we hadn’t been shopping since getting home and, as ever, the restrictions Karl and my dietary preferences place on creativity! :s So, I went with a safe old  pie – beef mince for Karl and Quorn mince for me. Again, not the best looking dishes – I need to work in brushing the egg yoke glaze more evenly! – but it was a simple little recipe on Good Food’s website and Karl ate all of his, which is a good result! 

Before holidaying I made a gift for a friend about to start a new job; boxed cupcakes! (And some of my homemade soaps as well.)

The recipe for the cupcakes was the same Berry one I’ve blogged about before, but I halved the amounts to make 6 rather than 12. 

Two cakes have lemon curd in the centre and then lemon butter icing; two had a chocolate caramel icing; and the final two had raspberry jam cores with vanilla butter icing to create a ‘Victoria Sponge’-like cupcake. 

I received a nice text from the recipient… 

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The chalet girl joke was something a client at work was telling me about – most people said I’d come home from skiing with a broken leg but this one 80 year old lady said I might come home single as “there are some very pretty chalet girls out there”!! It was all very tongue-in-cheek and it did make me laugh! Fortunately I have a very kind, loyal partner in Karl so there’s no worry of that. Good to know I have man-keeping cake skills as my secret superpower  though! πŸ˜‰ 

Lastly, I finally got around to trying out ‘felting’:

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All-in-all it’s been a mixed crafting month but with a lack of sewing so I must remedy that!

My Nominations for the Blogger Recognition AwardΒ 

Rather than nominate 15 blogs (I don’t think I even follow 15!) by name I thought it would be nice to name them AND mention why I like reading them. So here goes;

1. Amelia over at Thrift Make Sew is a lovely lady who shares honest stories about her makes and the highs and lows. Her style is more loose-fitting than my own so we make very different things but I always enjoy reading about her projects.  

https://thriftmakesew.wordpress.com/

2. Ana at S is for Sewing makes the most gorgeous children’s clothes for her beautiful daughter. Cordery bloomers, paisley blouses, cute coats – all teamed with hair ribbons and knee high socks. If I had kids this is how I’d want to dress them! 

https://sisforsewing.wordpress.com/

3. Emily at Self Assembly Required! churns out new makes at such an impressive rate! Although the items she makes aren’t what I’d choose to wear, I love the level of detail she puts into her work and her willingness to play with her style. 

http://selfassemblyrequired.co.uk

4. Becca at Red W Sews is the queen of jersey and makes cute tops and dresses for herself and her little girls. She has a way of seeing fabric and knowing what patterns will work – something I haven’t mastered! 

https://redwsews.wordpress.com/

A Blogging Award Nomination

Thank you Crafty Sew and Sew in Dorset for nominating my blog for a recognition award (https://craftysewandsewindorset.wordpress.com/2017/01/29/i-won-a-bloggers-recognition-award/#comments)! I was rather amazed as I tend to forget people actually read my blog (other than my mum)!
According to the guidelines accompanying the nomination, is meant to tell to how I started blogging. To be honest, it began as a photography-only blog because I love taking photos, and showing them to people – anonymous people – meant they didn’t sit forever on a memory stick, never to be seen again. When I then started sewing and baking in January 2016 I knew I’d want to talk about a lot so, to prevent myself becoming friendless and disowned by my patient family, I thought I’d best write about it in a place where I’d be welcome! And welcomed I was! I can honestly say the sewing community is one of the friendliest, kindest one I’ve come across. Internet trolls don’t exist here.

Knowing I can blog about a project when I’ve completed it gives me more incentive to finish it as I am Queen of Unfinished Projects otherwise.

In terms of the two pieces of advice I’m supposed to give other bloggers… er… I guess I’d say be honest. We all value honesty and seeing some of the disaster-makes (and I’ve had plenty!) as well as the magic ones makes one more relatable and human! Don’t get hung up on your flaws – just acknowledge what needs to change for next time and move on.

Secondly, check the flow of what you’ve written before you post. Sounds obvious but some blogs are so poorly constructed that they are a chore to read, even if the subject matter is interesting.

I will need to create another post to let you all know who I nominate in turn as I’m on my phone whilst writing this and it makes pingbacks harder to do. So, watch this space…!

Mixing It Up

With the first two essays for my Master’s degree now handed in, I am back in the kitchen! Today I’ve made a trusty brownie but I’ve also tried a new recipe of Mary B’s: the Bakewell tart traybake.

I love (LOVE!!) Bakewell tarts but the shop-bought ones can be rather dry. Although this isn’t a ‘traditional’ Bakewell because, well, it’s a traybake rather than a tart, I thought it was worth a whirl.

The base is simply plain flour and butter made into a thin dough, then you spread raspberry jam on top (quite therapeutic) and then an almond-flavoured sponge cake sits on top (not therapeutic trying to evenly spread it out over the jam…). Lastly, a sprinkle of flaked almonds (except not in one corner otherwise Karl wouldn’t forgive me for forgetting his aversion to nuts).

 

By the way, can we just take a moment to marvel at the wonder of silicone spatulas?!

Moment taken.

They are rather fabulous and I don’t quite know how I managed without one in my (kitchen) life.

Anyway, the verdict: Nice, but a little dry. I would maybe use more jam in the future. Oh, and very sticky – definitely an ‘eat-with-a-fork’ cake. Simple to make overall and fairly quick, too.

For a bit of bling, I put golden stars on top of the brownie. Who says sparkly food is only for Christmas?!

 

Right, I’m off to sew now! Oooo, what a good day it has been! πŸ˜€