Tuesday Tutorial: Glitter Name Bunting

Glitter Name Bunting Tutorial by Under a Glass Sky

Yes, you’re right, my last tutorial was about glitter too. But then glitter is worthy of repetition.

A trend has been emerging with my recent crafting projects….glitter. And why the heck not? After all, glitter is the quintessential crafting supply, and everything is better with a good sprinkle of the stuff.

I bought a stash of glitter card ages ago, and did the usual thing of ‘saving it for something special’. And what could be more special than my niece’s first birthday?! Having decided I wanted to make something glittery for her, I thought about what a one year old could best make use of…..she’s mostly pointing at me and laughing right now though, and doesn’t seem to be in need of anything other than whatever food is out of her reach, so I opted for for something to decorate her bedroom. And because (I think it’s fair to say) I’m pretty bunting obsessed, that’s what my first thought ran to!

You don’t need any crazy equipment or mad skills for this DIY, but it does take some precision and patience. The result is pretty rewarding though I think!

Glitter Name Bunting Tutorial by Under a Glass Sky

What you will need:

  • Glitter card
  • Wooden pennants with pre-drilled holes (enough for each letter of the name)
  • Mod Podge or PVA glue
  • Ribbon (enough to go across the width of each pennant, plus about 30cm extra)
  • A plastic spatula
  • Craft knife or scalpel
  • Metal rule
  • A pencil
  • Small scissors

How to make it:

  • Place your first pennant on the back of a piece of glitter card and trace around it with a pencil as close as you can get
  • Cut the glitter card with scalpel and ruler or scissors if you prefer, and check it up against the pennant to see that it fits
  • Now give the pennant a good generous coat of glue….it’s better to have too much on there than too little
  • Carefully place the glitter card onto the pennant, squaring it up quickly before the glue dries to ensure all the edges are aligned
  • Press firmly down on the card so that any excess glue comes out at the sides
  • Use the spatula to remove this excess by sliding the flat edge along the side of the pennant….this will also help to nicely seal the edges
  • Repeat this for all your pennants and then set them aside to dry for a couple of hours
  • Whilst you wait, cut out your letters from the glitter card…..I used the pencil to draw onto the back of the card then cut around that, but remember to draw in reverse
  • Once the newly glittered pennants are dry, arrange them in the order you’d like them and offer up each letter to check that the colours contrast well enough to see them
  • Apply glue to the back of your first letter, again using plenty as you’ll need a good coat to get in between the bumpy glittery surface
  • Carefully place the letter on the pennant, check you’re happy with the positioning, and press down firmly
  • Again, use the spatula to remove any excess, although don’t worry too much as the glue will dry clear
  • Repeat for each pennant and allow to dry well, preferably over night
  • Now you just need to thread the pennants together by cutting through the glitter card to reveal the hole in the wood with the scalpel, and posting the ribbon through each hole of each pennant, then moving on to the next
  • Finally, tie a knot in each end to stop the pennants moving about, and you’re done!

If you find it tricky to get hold of some wooden pennants (I got mine from an online craft shop who sell lots of laser cut MDF shapes) you could always cut them yourself from foamex.

I also made a single pennant with a star shape on it for a friend’s birthday, and of course you could apply any pattern to your bunting, or even just leave it plain in all its glittery glory!

Happy glittering!

Ems x

 

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It’s Pancake Day, It’s Pancake Day, It’s PPPP-PPPP Pancake Day!

Like the man said…it’s Pancake Day! And I for one will be enjoying a day of mostly eating batter based foods! I bally love this day….it wouldn’t occur to me to make a meal of pancakes any other day of the year (with the exception of a breakfast of American style pancakes now and again!) and I love the excuse to gorge. I even made a Pinterest board this year with ideas….I like to have both sweet and savoury options, you know, to make it a balanced meal of course.

For breakfast we had Belgian waffles with banana and maple syrup. Then for lunch I had another go at making Okonomiyake, which is a sort of Japanese pancake. This dish is a favourite of Adam’s and although I’ve never had it ‘properly’ in Japan, I’ve been trying to learn to make it. Last week’s attempt was rather poor, but I think today’s was pretty good!

Home made Okonomiyake, or Japanese pancake for Shrove Tuesday

I based mine loosely on the recipes in my Pinterest board, with (as usual) a couple of changes for my own taste (and to use up things we had in the cupboard!). Here’s how I made it…..

  • I mixed one cup of flour with one cup of chicken stock, then added one beaten free range egg to form a batter.
  • Then I stirred in a large handful of savoy cabbage and one small leek (both finely sliced and from our yummy organic veg box) and seasoned.
  • Next I heated up a large non-stick skillet and sprayed a little olive oil onto the surface before pouring the mixture in.
  • Having spread the mixture out as much as possible, I pressed it all down into as thin a ‘pancake’ as I could, and let it cook for about eight minutes until the underside was golden.
  • Then I slid the pancake onto a plate, added a little more oil to the pan as well as some strips of free range streaky bacon.
  • Next I flipped the pancake onto another plate before sliding it back into the pan with the cooked side on top.
  • It was then just a case of waiting for the bacon to cook well, and the pancake browning nicely before serving it all up!

To top our Okonomiyake I mixed up a dessert spoon each of ketchup and barbecue sauce with two dessert spoons of Henderson’s relish and a teaspoon of golden caster sugar. We spooned this sort of Tonkatsu sauce onto our pancakes along with some mayonnaise, which I believe is the traditional topping. Yummy!

For supper this evening we’re planning some more traditional crepe-like pancakes with lemon juice and sugar….although I think I’ll also make some of these delicious sounding apple, banana and cinnamon pancakes to try, and maybe even some of these fabulous looking cinnamon roll pancakes too!

How do you like your pancakes?!

Ems x

Tuesday Tutorial: Purple Glitter Jewellery for Willow Foundation

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to attend a friend’s “Purple Party” to help raise funds for Willow Foundation*. Clare is running the London Marathon for the charity this year, and so put together the brilliant themed party to add to her fundraising target. There were purple cocktails, purple food, a purple photo booth and the whole place was decked out in purple, including the guests!

Being a bit low on purple things to wear myself, I decided to make some purple glittery treasures, with extra for Clare to sell on the night. And because I know everyone loves glitter (not to mention with Half Term in full swing!) I thought I’d share a little tutorial for how to make them. The batch I made took a while because there were so many, but one or two would be very quick to make, and super easy too! You can buy everything you need easily and inexpensively at a craft shop or online.

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

You Will Need:

  • Fine purple glitter (or another colour, if you must)
  • Original Mod Podge
  • A flat ended brush (about 10mm to 15mm wide)
  • A mixing pot (a yogurt pot or take out tub is perfect, especially if it has a lid)
  • An old teaspoon
  • Wooden laser cut shapes (I used 20mm and 30mm hearts, and 40mm stars)
  • Brooch backs and / or stick on pendant bails
  • E6000 glue

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

How To:

1. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of glitter into your mixing pot (if you’re making a big batch just double this, and keep making fresh batches as you go, so none is wasted)

2. Add about the same amount of Mod Podge and mix them well with the spoon (then wash the spoon!)

3. Choose which side of your wooden shape you want to paint (there are often marks from the laser cutting on one side, so paint onto that as you won’t see it when you’re finished)

4. Paint a thin layer of the glittery glue onto your shape….best not to use too much at a time so that you don’t spill over the edges and it stays neat

5. Wait for that to dry and then paint on another thin coat

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

6. Keep adding thin coats once the last is dry to build up the coverage….as with most painting projects, it’s better to do lots of thin coats than one or two thick ones (if your mixing pot has a lid you can cover your mixture whilst you wait for drying, so that it stays fresh)

7. I applied four or five coats to mine, and if you decide to make a big batch you can of course apply each coat to all of them, and by the time you’ve done the last, the first one will be dry and ready for the next

8. Once you’re happy with the coverage, leave until completely dry before flipping over ready for the backing

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

9. If you’re using a brooch back, check it works ok before using it, then blob some E6000 onto the flat side of the brooch back and press it firmly onto the back of your wooden shape

10. If you’re making a pendant, blob the E6000 onto the flat pad of the bail and carefully press it onto the back of your shape….before it dries turn it over to make sure it’s on straight

11. Leave for 24 hours to dry well before adding a chain if you’ve made a pendant, or before proudly pinning your brooch onto your clothes!

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

These would make great party favours for a Bridal Shower or Hen Party I think, or for children’s parties (although take care with brooch pins!)….or of course you could make some to raise funds for charity too!

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

Ems x

Willow is the only national charity working with seriously ill young adults aged 16 to 40 to fulfil uplifting and unforgettable Special Days. These Special Days enable them and their families to reconnect and refocus on each other while enjoying an activity of their choosing. A day for them, a day about them and a day that will create memories they will all treasure forever.

Tuesday Tutorial: Jewellery Picture Frames

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I actually first made these to display my jewellery in at a pop-up shop I was exhibiting in, but once I’d brought them home I thought they’d just be perfect for keeping my own collection all tidy! I have a beautiful big jewellery box, and a big hat box that’s crammed with jewellery too, but despite all that my things invariably end up strewn across the fireplace in the bedroom!

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I have my flavours of the month, then they get buried underneath the next favoured few, and before too long I’ve forgotten what I have! This way though I get to show off several pieces at once, keep them all de-tangled and then just swap them back into the jewellery box when I want a change!

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These are super easy to make, and only took me moments. They’re cheap to put together too (I made them using bits and bobs I already had at home!) and don’t take any special skills!

What you will need:

  • Picture frames (broken, or with the glass and backing removed)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Small cup hooks
  • Drawing pins
  • String
  • Mini pegs
  • A bradawl tool, if you have one, or something sharp and pointy if not! (Please be careful!!)
  • White tack or picture nails

How to make:

1. Along the top edge of your tallest frame, measure the inside edge and mark out where you’d like each hook to go using the pencil

2. Using the bradawl, start off a hole at each mark

3. Screw your hooks into the holes, ensuring they all end up facing the same way

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4. Along each side edge of another frame, measure out and mark with a pencil where you’d like a string to cross, leaving a good 5cm in between each

5. Push a drawing pin into each mark

6. Tie string across and between each set of drawing pins

7. Attach pegs to the strings

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8. Now they’re ready to go on the wall, either suspended on nails or just attached with white tack (like mine!)

9. Hang long necklaces from the hooks, and rings, brooches etc. from the pegs

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10. Stand back and admire your work!

Ems x

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How To…. Transform a nasty dresser into a nice dresser

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You may have heard me going on about the dresser we’ve been transforming for our kitchen, and I’m so pleased with the results that I thought I’d share how we did it here.

We bought a very orangey-varnished dresser for the kitchen from a local-pick-up Ebay seller last year, and although it’s a nice shape and size, it looked very dated in its finish. So, we decided we’d give it a make over, to make it brighter and fresher, and here’s how…..

What you will need:

  • Your dresser or other piece of furniture
  • Fine grade sand paper (an orbital or palm sander makes it easier if you can get one!)
  • Lots of scrap paper or newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Wide and narrow brushes
  • White (or any colour for that matter) DURABLE kitchen-friendly paint (we used Wilkinsons Durable emulsion)
  • Tester pots in contrasting shades for handles (we used Wilkinsons emulsion tester pots in pastel shades)
  • Satin finish durable varnish
  • A piece of dowel for stirring the paint and varnish
  • Sugar soap
  • Rubber gloves
  • Protective goggles and mask (wear these all the time you’re sanding and preferably when you’re painting too!)
  • A clean cleaning cloth

How to do it:

  1. Prepare the area you’re going to work in by ensuring you have good ventilation, your piece of furniture is free from any obstacles, and any other furniture or belongings are covered in newspaper to protect them from saw dust and paint. Also remove any handles etc. and take off the doors and drawers to make them easier to paint separately.
  2. Decide which areas of the furniture you want to paint and which you want to leave as exposed wood, and put on your goggles and mask.
  3. Sand the entire piece, just roughly all over, so that the first layer of old varnish or paint is roughened. This level of sanding will suffice for all the areas you want to paint.
  4. For the bits you want to leave as exposed wood, continue sanding until all the old varnish or paint has gone, and you are left with a nice smooth surface and a more natural colour.
  5. Now mask off these areas you want to keep un-painted with newspaper, sticking this down carefully to the edges with masking tape so that none of the not-to-be-painted surface is exposed, but all of the areas to be painted are exposed.
  6. Wearing your rubber gloves, pour a little sugar soap onto the cloth and clean away the dust from the sanding, so that your to-be-painted surfaces are nice and clean. You’ll need to wipe over a few times with water too, in order to get rid of the soapiness.
  7. Now you can finally start to paint! Don’t forget to stir the paint pot well before starting!
  8. It’s better to paint three or four very thin coats as opposed to one or two thicker ones, as you’ll get a better finish and the paint job will be less prone to chipping. Use a narrower brush to get into all the nooks and crannies and corners, then a bigger brush to fill the larger areas.
  9. Let the paint dry THOROUGHLY in between each coat….it’s hard to be patient but the finish will be much better if you are!
  10. Keep painting thin coats all over the piece until you have a good coverage, then leave it to VERY THOROUGHLY dry before carefully removing the masking tape and newspaper.
  11. Now you can clean the un-painted surfaces with the sugar soap, and get on with the little details.
  12. Lightly sand the handles and clean them with sugar soap.
  13. Then paint each one in your chosen colour, again in several thin coats, waiting for each coat to dry in between.
  14. Once those are dry, stir your pot of varnish well, then take a small brush and thinly coat each handle with the varnish. Again, you’re likely to need around three thin coats.
  15. Once the varnish is dry, replace the handles and doors and drawers, then fill up your dresser with pretties, sit back and admire your hand work!

All in, our dresser cost less than £100, including the piece itself and all the painting things. A bit of a bargain I think and well worth the effort! So much so in fact, that we’ve already done our kitchen table to match (with exposed wood top and white legs) and we’re planning on painting the chairs in the pretty pastel shades of the dresser handles!

Hope this is useful and you enjoy your project!

Ems x

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How To Tuesday…. Personalise your own bunting

With a dull grey sky outside, and a distinct lack of festive decor inside, I thought now would be a good time to share this rather cheerful crafting project!

A little while ago I decorated some of my bunting collection with ‘Under A Glass Sky’ as a sort of banner to hang up at my craft market stalls. And so now that I’m taking a break from stalls over the winter, I decided it should brighten up my little studio….and it does!

This project is dead quick and easy, requiring NO SEWING, and is a lovely way to display a message…..you could decorate some butning with a new baby’s name as a gift, or make a ‘Happy Birthday’ banner. I have used my own bunting, which I bought a while ago from Rex International….I may well post a how-to on how to make your own in the future though!

What You Will Need…..

  • Bunting….one flag per letter, plus one flag for each space (for example ‘Happy Birthday’ would require 14 flags)
  • A contrasting fabric for the letters (I used a cotton casement which is easy to work with)
  • Tailors chalk or fabric pencil
  • Sharp scissors
  • Iron-on hemming tape
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Liquid fabric glue
  • A small spatula or paint brush

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How To……

1. Mark out an outline for each letter on your contrasting fabric, ensuring each fits nicely onto your bunting flags

2. Cut out the letters as neatly as possible

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3. Turning each letter face down, cut short strips of the hemming tape and lay on top of the letter, covering as much of the fabric as possible but ensuring you don’t go over any edges

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4. Flip the letters over and place one at a time onto the appropriate flag, ironing into position to secure

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5. To seal each letter safely onto the fabric, neatly glue the edges down with just a little fabric glue, but making sure you glue all around each letter. If you prefer, you can use a hand applique stitch to secure the edges instead….but it will take a lot longer!

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6. Make sure the glue is REALLY dry before folding up your bunting as you could end up with the flags all stuck together if you’re not careful!

7. Proudly hang your bunting wherever you like!

And that’s it!

Ems x

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How To on Tuesday: Carve your own Jack-o-Lantern

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We had the most fun in our house last night! As well as cooking up a big supper of veggie lasagne, and making sloe brandy and sloe vodka with the left over berries we foraged, we spent the evening carving our pumpkin!

I’m afraid I’ve never been able to resist the lure of an ornamental vegetable…I just love things with two uses….and when we saw a table full of large handsome pumpkins at the market last week I just had to get one! Adam was a little less convinced, as he’d never carved one before, and had never really cooked with one. But after all the fun of carving ours last night, it’s his new favourite thing….and he hasn’t even tasted the stuff I’m making with the flesh yet!

Now the principals of carving a pumpkin are pretty simple, but it is a little time consuming and laborious in parts. I had presumed that everyone had at some point carved a pumpkin, but with Adam as proof that’s not the case, I thought I’d give you all some pointers in case you’ve not experienced this joy before either!

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be CAREFUL whilst doing this! Sharp knives are easier to use and less likely to cause an accident, but they are still sharp, so keep your fingers safe! Make sure you work in a well lit room too!

What you will need:

  • A pumpkin, any size you like (although the smaller it is, the more faffy it’ll be)
  • A very sharp butcher’s knife (or the largest, sharpest knife you have)
  • A very sharp paring knife (or the smallest, narrowest knife you have)
  • A pencil
  • A permanent marker
  • Paper for sketching
  • A large spoon, and kitchen tongs if you have them
  • A cutting mat or chopping board
  • Three large bowls (or two bowls and your composter)
  • A lamp
  • A tea light

How to make it:

1. Sketch some ideas out on paper first of all….maybe look online for inspiration

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2. Draw a circle around the stalk of your pumpkin, about half way between the stalk and the outer edge as you look down on it (this is the bit that will become the ‘lid’)

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3. With your smaller sharp knife, carefully cut around the line you drew, keeping the knife pointed inwards (towards the stalk) at a 45 degree angle….this is so that your lid will sit back into place and not just fall in!

4. Remove your lid and place to the side for now, then scoop out all the seeds and stringy bits from inside your pumpkin….the spoon is best to use in the main but tongs are handy to grab some of the stringy bits.

5. Pop the seeds into one bowl (we are going to save ours to use later) and the other gubbins into a second bowl (or your composter).

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6. Now, very carefully, using the larger knife, start to carve out some of the flesh from inside the pumpkin. Keep in mind which side you will use as the front, as you’ll need to keep it a little thicker there to make it easier to carve your design. We found that making a few vertical and horizontal cuts into the flesh helped us to then scoop out as much flesh as possible. Pop the flesh into the third bowl to use later.

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7. Now comes the fun bit! Pencil your design onto the face of your pumpkin.

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8. Once you’re happy with it, use the permanent marker to go over the pencil lines to make the design easier to follow. Because the skin of the pumpkin is so waxy and shiny, it’s unlikely that the pen will actually stay on, so be careful it doesn’t transfer onto your hands and clothes.

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9. Now, using the smaller knife, begin to trace around the lines. You don’t need to go all the way through the flesh at this stage, just carve your outline neatly to start.

10. Then, using the larger knife if you prefer, follow the cuts you’ve made around the design, but this time ensure the knife goes all the way through into the carved core of your pumpkin. Once you’ve done that, you should be able to pull out the shapes you’ve carved and add these to your bowl of flesh.

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11. You may need to tidy up the inner holes that you’ve carved, depending on how straight the cuts are….you can test how it will look by holding your pumpkin up to the lamp.

12. Once you’re happy with your carving, wipe off any remains of the pen marks and any gooey bits of the flesh on the skin.

13. Then place your tealight inside, light it carefully, and place on the lid.

14. Switch off the lights to admire your work!

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Keep an eye on your Jack-o-Lantern once it’s lit…..depending on its size the tealight may heat up the inside of the lid and can even start to burn it, so keep checking it and dampen it if needs be. You can always use a battery powered tea light for safety, although beware that some of these can also heat up a little too.

Now before I sign off and wish you happy carving, I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite pumpkin carving ideas that I found online whilst getting inspiration for ours…..maybe next year we’ll try something a little more adventurous!…..

Happy Halloween!

Ems x

How To…. re-cover a chair seat

When Adam and I moved into the new house, we were delighted to be able to buy a lovely pine kitchen table with matching chairs. We got it for a bargain, second hand, and once the table top had received a good scrub with some wire wool it looked a treat! The chairs though needed a little more TLC as their seats were rather dated and shabby. Still, I knew it’d be no trouble at all to re-cover the seats with some odds and ends of fabric I have.

So….here’s how!

What you’ll need:

  • The chair or chairs you’d like to spruce up
  • Pretty fabrics (about 60cm to 1m square per seat, depending on the size and shape)
  • Sharp scissors
  • Tailor’s chalk or pencil
  • A little ruler
  • A screw driver (if the seat is screwed onto the chair)
  • A good stapler that folds out flat, or a staple gun

How to do it:

1. Remove the seat from the chair by pushing up from underneath….you may need to unscrew some screws
2. Iron your fabric and lay it face down on a table big enough to work at (you can use the floor but a table is easier)
3. Ensure the pattern on the fabric is facing the right way
4. Lay the chair seat on the fabric, with the top against the fabric (upside down)
5. Measure 10cm from the edges, and replace the seat 10cm away from the top and right edge

6. Now measure 10cm from the bottom edge of the seat and left edge of the seat, marking with a pencil or chalk

7. Trim these two edges, so that you are left with a 10cm border of fabric all around the seat

8. Fold in each corner of fabric onto the seat, so that the edge of the fabric is at right angles with the edge of the seat

9. Staple each corner securely into place

10. Now fold in the edges one at a time, and tightly secure with staples

11. You may like to cover the exposed edges with tape, but as it’ll be on the under-side of the seat I wouldn’t worry too much

12. Flip over the finished seat and place it back into the chair, securing any screws back in that you took out (you will pierce the fabric as you do this so take it steady)

13. Test out your pretty new chair by sitting down with a well earned cup of tea!

Ems x

How to on Tuesday….. Home Made Sloe Gin

My experience of sloe gin has been relatively recent. I used to hear people talking about it but never really knew what it was! Until a few years ago that is….. On a walk with the boyf, his mum and the dogs (not long after we’d started seeing each other), I was made to eat an under-ripe sloe berry off the tree, which I was told was the family initiation! I can’t say the horribly sour taste didn’t put me off sloes for a while, but not *too* long afterwards I tried my first sloe gin….and the love affair began.

We made our first batch of sloe gin last year, keeping a bottle for ourselves and to share at dinner parties, as well as making up some mini bottles to go in the Christmas Hampers we made as gifts for friends. It was so rewarding that I vowed to do it again this year, and so a couple of weeks ago we set about foraging for some berries for this year’s batch.

We were a little worried that there weren’t going to be enough about at first, as we’d not seen very many whilst out and about, and it’s not been a good year for such fruits in general. But, as luck would have it, we stumbled on the mother load of berries ripe for the picking, not too far away on Norton Common….and we came home with a couple of kilos! It’s said that you should wait for the first frost before you pick them, and they were certainly looking invitingly blue and bulgy on the cold day we picked them on!

Having found it rather dull work pricking each berry last year, I took some advice from a friend who said that if you freeze the berries instead, you don’t need to prick them at all! But wanting to check before messing it all up, I did a little research and found that we would still need to slash the frozen berries after all! It seems that if you’re very lucky, the berries will split when they freeze, but otherwise you will at least find it easier to prick or slash them once they are frozen.

Other than that bit of tedium though, it really is jolly easy to make your own sloe gin…..you just have to be patient for it to develop!

What you will need:

  • 1 litre of gin (or vodka….we are going to try this soon!)
  • 500g sloes
  • Cocktail sticks
  • 220g caster sugar
  • Two 2 litre sterilized jars or bottles, with an air-tight lid
  • Funnel
  • Coffee filter (as fine as you can get)

How to make it:

  1. Forage your sloes (or buy them from a farmers market or the supermarket), rinse them and take away any leafy bits or stalks
  2. Freeze them in bags, at least over night
  3. Remove from the freezer and prick EACH berry with a cocktail stick
  4. Pop them all into a sterilized jar
  5. Pour in the sugar, then the gin
  6. Secure the lid and then give it all a gentle shakey swirl
  7. Shake once every other day for a week
  8. Then shake once a week for at least two months (or as long as you can bear to wait!)
  9. Once you’ve had enough of waiting, strain the gin through a coffee filter placed inside a funnel, and into the other bottle or jar….if you have very fine filters, all the better, although it will take a while to get through!
  10. Serve neat, with a good tonic water, or with lemonade as you prefer

You can also use your sloe gin to cook with (it’s great with gamey dishes and for rich gravy) or to bake with (add a little to a fruit pie for added lushness, or try making my baked sloe gin cheesecake!). I personally just like to sip it neat from a pretty little glass, although I am rather keen to try a sloe gin cocktail made from our own too!

Ems x

How To on Tuesday: Moving Home

As you know, I recently moved home from a little flat in central London to a much bigger house in Hertfordshire. As well as all my belongings (and I have lots!) there was also the boyf’s things to think about, as well as everything for our two small businesses. So it was no easy thing packing and prepping for our move, and no easier on the move day itself and once settling in. But I think we did make it just about as painless as possible, and I’m pretty pleased with how it all went really.

So, as my ‘how to’ for this week, I thought I’d share some of the ideas I used to make things go as smoothly as possible, in the hope that you’ll find it useful to stow away these bits of information for your next move!

  1. Ordering boxes – As much as it might seem possible to collect up all the boxes you need, I really would recommend buying some. Whilst we did manage to get hold of some from local shops and friends, the problem there is that you have to make do with whatever size you’re given….and that can mean you’re packing things in the wrong order or in the wrong boxes. There are lots of websites that will sell you packing kits designed for homes of all sizes, including the tape and marker pens and whatnot. I’d say it’s best to go with one of these mixed bundles, so you have several box sizes from the start, so you can box up books in smaller ones (so you can actually move them!) and lightweight things in bigger ones. Once we got a big delivery of boxes I felt much easier in packing everything and could really get through it.
  2. Other wrapping materials – Some of the package deals online will give you tissue paper and bubble wrap too. I’d say it’s well worth having some bits and bobs like that, but I actually mainly used things I’d been saving up instead….. Any jiffy bags, bubble wrap, tissue paper, newspaper and plastic carrier bags are worth hoarding in the run up to a move, as all of these work well to wrap things in and pad things out. I also have a big stash of canvas totes which are great for wrapping delicate things in too.
  3. Box labelling – There is nothing more annoying after a move than looking for one little particular thing, and to have to open a dozen boxes to find it. Whilst most boxes can just be labelled by the room they’re going to, I found that detailing the key items in each box in pen on the top was really handy. I wish I’d done it more in fact, as there were rather more ‘misc’ boxes than was helpful!
  4. Colour coding – I’ll admit it, if there’s a chance to colour code something, I’m all over it. But I have to say, my nifty colour coding trick for moving works a treat! To save you and your movers from having to read your scrawl on each box before plonking it in the right room, why not allocate a colour to each room and label your boxes to suit?! For example, I decided the kitchen would be green (because the vegetables live there, which are green, obviously), and so each box destined for the kitchen got a green sticker, and then on the day I stuck a big green sign on the kitchen…..the moving men then just had to chuck all the green labelled boxes in the room with the green label! I did the same for the other rooms, which was especially helpful in the move to a bigger place because it would be hard for the moving men to know which room is which in some cases (when they are empty at least!).
  5. Moving men (and women) – And on the subject of moving men…… I have moved a few times just using friends’ cars or hiring vans, then doing all the lifting myself or with a team of friends bribed by the promise of take out. As I’ve grown older and lazier though, and as my collection of ‘stuff’ has increased, I’ve decided I’d much rather pay some burly young men to do all the lifting for me. For my past two moves I’ve used the Anyvan website to get competitive quotes from local moving firms, and it’s been brilliant both times. You just fill in their online questionnaire to explain how much stuff you’ve got, and what access is like, and then stacks of firms come back with quotes. We got some truly bargainous deals this way, and for the most recent move we had the most perfect moving men you can imagine. Well worth the small spend!
  6. Last minute boxes and bags – You know how it is, you feel all prepared and ready, the van arrives and you start loading it, then you realise there’s a whole cupboard of ‘last minute’ stuff that’s been completely forgotten and you have nothing to pack it in. Having a few stray bits and bobs is inevitable, so I like to keep a small and a large box spare, as well as some big laundry type bags and a few carrier bags or totes. ALL of my spares got used in the last move, so I’m glad I’d thought ahead!
  7. Very Important Box – As well as those last minute bits, there are also the things you know you REALLY want not to lose at the other end. Things like the kettle, tea bags, bedding, scissors, and cleaning products all need to be within easy reach when you arrive to your new place. I like to have a special box for these bits, and make sure it’s easy to spot because it’s a different colour or has ‘THIS ONE’ scribbled all over it with dozens of arrows.
  8. At the other end – Whilst you’ll be all excited to arrive at your new place, and want to start the unpacking frenzy, take the first few minutes to have a really good look around. I’m yet to move into an appropriately clean place, and have found all sorts of issues when moving in. It’s easier to spot stuff before all your boxes are stacked in every room, and if you’re renting and have the agent or landlord there to hand over the keys, it’s worth going through the inventory with them. Things will always come to light later, but before you start unpacking your precious treasures it’s worth checking the place is OK first.
  9. Kitchen and bedroom first, living room last – The temptation to lay out your sofas and scatter them with cushions so you can have that well deserved rest will always be strong. But, as soon as you make your living room all cosy and nice, it’s hard to want to get back up and start working on the rest! Whilst a first night take out is a must for me, I like to get my kitchen sorted first so that I can at least make a cup of tea and throw some cereal in a bowl the next morning. And of course there’s no greater disappointment than making your way to bed after all your hard work, only to find it still needs to be built, the mattress is in another room, and your duvet is nowhere to be seen. So, ensure you at least have everything to hand for bed time, or ideally get it all sorted earlier in the day.
  10. There’s no rush – So now you’re in, and you can live in your new place, sleep there and cook there…..but there are still boxes EVERYWHERE! I find this really stressful, and hate living in amongst the disarray of a move. But, rather than getting all wound up by it (like I did this last time), remind yourself that there is no rush to get your little trinkets out and find homes for all your books etc. The last bit is the most fun bit….making your home. So take your time, move things again and again, and enjoy it.

Ems x