Mothering Sunday Embroidered Card Project

You may have read that I’ve recently taken up embroidery, and have been learning some new techniques and stitches as I go along. And because I’m enjoying it so much, I decided my next project would be a sort of embroidered Mothers Day card for my lovely Mummy. 

I had some nice pale pink cotton casement off cuts in my fabric box, and opted for shades of green and orange which are my Mummy’s favourite for for the silks. Having quickly sketched out a design on a scrap of paper, I pinned this to the back of my fabric which I’d stretched into an embroidery hoop, then traced the design onto the fabric. I used some of the stitches I learned whilst making my little bear plushy from the Mollie Makes kit, including a chain stitch for the lettering. I did the same again for the message on the back, then stretched both pieces back to back into a hoop, adding a satin ribbon for hanging to the top.

I’m rather pleased with the result, and my Mummy loves it!

I hope you’re having a nice Mothering Sunday,

Ems x

20150315-113047.jpg

20150315-113102.jpg

20150315-113054.jpg

20150315-113109.jpg

Advertisements

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.

Some Bank Holiday Baking: Foraged Fruit Crumble

20130826-193920.jpg

Few things give me much greater pleasure than foraging for sweet treats and then cooking them up on a lazy weekend! Earlier in the week we went to a nearby hot spot for soft fruits, and whilst the Victoria Plums and Greengages weren’t ready yet, we did get a great haul of blackberries and apples!

As far as I’m concerned, by far the best way to use up such things is in a crumble, so today I baked one up to round off the roast dinner we just yummed up! Here is how I make it my favourite way….

Ingredients

  • About 300g blackberries
  • About 600g cooking apples
  • Stevia or caster sugar to taste
  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g butter
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Extra spices and sugar to sprinkle on top

How to make it

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 190 C / 375 F / Gas Mark 5
  2. Core and peel your apples, and chop into cubes
  3. Chuck the apples into a pan and cover with boiling water
  4. Add a good couple of table spoons of Stevia or sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
  5. Simmer for about five minutes, or until the fruit starts to soften, then add the blackberries
  6. Simmer for a further minute and then drain the water from the fruit right away
  7. Have a little taste to decide if you need more sweetening, and add more Stevia or sugar as you like
  8. Rub together your flour and butter (I start this off in my Kitchen Aid for speed)
  9. Stir in the sugar and spices, and mix well
  10. Pour your fruit into a casserole dish and cover with the crumble mix
  11. Sprinkle over some extra sugar and spice, and pat with your finger tips gently to make the surface bumpy
  12. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes, and remove once the crumble is golden on top

I like mine with custard, but of course ice cream or creme fraiche is yummy too! If you prefer your fruit nice and firm, just skip the fruit stewing stage as it will have enough time to cook in the oven….I just like it nice and soft though underneath the crunchy crumble!

Have you managed to forage any goodies this summer? What are you making with them?!

Ems x

Guest Post: Muddling Through

Adam

Hello. My name is Adam and Emily has asked me here today to talk to you about cocktails. Now, are you sitting comfortably? Good, then we can begin…

Welcome to a little corner of Ems’ site I’ve titled ‘Muddling Through’, a far from expert series of sporadic posts by me, focussing on alcohol and the wonderful art of making cocktails. The idea is for me to share with you drinks and cocktails I prepare here at home, as I slowly develop my skills in Mixology. We thought it might make a nice change to write from the perspective of the learner (as that is very much what I am!) in the hope of making the recipes seem a little more accessible, so I’ll do my best to explain everything as I learn it. It may be the case that you know a thing or two yourself, in which case I would welcome any input and for anyone interested, perhaps we can all learn and get pleasantly inebriated together!

A little background on the origins of my hobby can be found on my own blog ‘Unfamiliar Ceiling‘ where I have posted about a couple of drinks already. However as Ems has been asking me to do a little Boozy section for her for so long, and as I neglect my own blog enough as it is, I thought it might be nice to contribute to her little bit of the internet! I have quite a different style to Ems which will be clear if you read my blog, so I hope these posts fit in nicely here!

And that’s about it really! I hope it proves useful to anyone wanting to make their own cocktails and offers a little something different to what I’m sure are a large number of other blogs and sites (and of course books!) out there essentially providing the same recipes. I’m going to try to make it as simple and transferrable as possible so hopefully it’ll always be as easy to follow as I found it to make!

In terms of drinks, for the moment I’m most definitely a classics man (you’ll see a lot of Martinis from me for sure)! I’ve found that there are a number of benefits to focussing on these drinks. Firstly they often have very few ingredients so if you want to make them, you don’t have to go hunting for liqueurs or fruit and whatnot. What you’ll need should be easily accessible from your local supermarket. Also they’re classics for a reason, so why not start with the best?! Finally they’re full of alcohol, by which I mean you’ll really get to taste the spirits you’re using and get familiar with them. The downside of course is that they can also be the least forgiving because they don’t have large quantities of mixers etc. to hide any flaws!

As for the style of my posts, you’ll find that I probably won’t provide actual quantities for a lot of drinks. I will instead list ingredients in terms of ‘measures’ and the reason for this is twofold. Firstly, there are different size jiggers so you might have a 25/50ml jigger, whereas the next person might have a 1/1.5 fl oz jigger. The other is so that you can easily scale the drinks up to make more by simply scaling up the size of your ‘measure’.

Some advice before we begin (sorry for anyone expecting a recipe from this first post! Patience, young grasshopper! Patience!)….

  • You will need lots of ice. Ice is very much your friend in this endeavour. Love the ice.
  • Freezer space for chilling glasses is also important. If you’re not using ice in the glass, chances are you’ll be serving into a chilled one.
  • Treat yourself to the good stuff. I’m not saying go and buy the most expensive booze out there, not at all and I certainly don’t. Check out what’s well rated (e.g. on the International Spirits Challenge 2013 Awards you’ll see one of ASDA’s own gins is a gold award winner!), or buy yourself that bottle of Vodka/Rum/Bourbon/Gin you tried ages ago and really loved but always thought it was a bit too much and what difference does it really make when it’s with coke/tonic/lemonade anyway? Well, you’re not drinking it with coke any more! Think of it this way: That really nice bottle of gin, from which you will get over a dozen good strong drinks, is the same price as buying less than half as many Gordon’s and tonic at the pub.
  • Enjoy it, but do take it seriously. There’s a reason a Long Island Iced Tea from the American bar at The Savoy is better than one from Cucamara. It’s because the guys at The Savoy really know their shit and don’t have a bottle with ‘Long Island Mix’ on their shelf that they just pour into a glass and top up with coke. Yes you pay for the difference, but the difference is worth it. So at the risk of sounding like a bit of a tosser: if you treat the drinks right, you’ll taste the difference. Mostly my point here is that you really are dealing with recipes, and recipes have precise quantities. You don’t tend to make cakes better by chucking in extra flour or eggs, and the same applies here.

That really is it! I’ll hopefully be back with you very soon with a drink for you all to try! In the mean time I think I’d better start swotting up!

Adam

Foodie Friday: Cuban Style Rice

20130802-115218.jpg

Adam and I have been meaning to make more new and interesting suppers for weeks. I rather lost my cooking mojo when the hot weather came along and haven’t been bothered to make anything excited for ages. So in the hope of restoring some interest again, we trawled through our cookbooks and planned a few meals for the week.

Last night was a quick and simple dish from the brilliant Spanish cookery book, which was in fact a gift from my lovely Spanish friend many years ago. I can’t say I wasn’t a little vexed to find that what had looked like a really easy dish required no less than FIVE pans (seriously, most of what I cook only needs one so I was less than impressed) but I did manage to reduce this down to three by tinkering with the recipe, and the results were worth the washing up.

Most of the ingredients are things we have in the house all the time, so I can see this becoming a bit of a go-to dish when we’re low on supplies and time, but still want something satisfying to cook. It took me only about 20 minutes to knock together, and rather less time to yum up!

What you will need (to serve two):

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • Long grain rice (however much you’d usually cook for two)
  • 1 large or 2 small bananas, sliced
  • butter
  • 2 large free range or organic eggs
  • salt
  • paprika

How to make it:

  1. Heat a little oil in a sauce pan then brown the chopped onion and two sliced cloves of garlic.
  2. Add the tinned tomatoes as well as the thyme, and bring to the boil before simmering for a good ten minutes.
  3. Whilst that’s bubbling away, cook your rice in a second saucepan, adding a whole garlic clove into the water.
  4. Add a little olive oil to a large frying pan and brown a sliced clove of garlic.
  5. Drain the cooked rice and tip into the frying pan, frying just for a couple of minutes.
  6. Plate up the rice and pop it in the oven to keep it warm, and give the pan a quick wipe with a bit of kitchen towel.
  7. Heat a knob of butter in the frying pan, then slowly caramelise your sliced banana in there.
  8. Add the banana to your plated up rice and return to the oven, then give the pan a quick wipe again.
  9. Heat a little olive oil and fry your eggs, seasoning with salt and paprika.
  10. Pour the sauce around your rice and plate up your eggs on top.

Yummy! We couldn’t believe how well all the flavours went together, especially the banana which really makes this dish.

Enjoy!

Ems x

Just Desserts Club: Summery Sweet Citrus Syllabub

IMG_5173

 

I had such food fun working on recipes for the last two Domestic Sluttery “Just Desserts Club” that I thought joining in on this month’s theme would help me get back into my creative mojo!

This month we are tasked with creating citrus based puds, and because my first thought ran to this great recipe given to me by my future mother-in-law, I though I’d go with my gut! Liz and I share very similar cooking and baking methods….we always have to tweak a recipe and like to add at least twice as much of all the flavourings as what is listed! We are both fans of seriously lemony drizzle cake and proper strong coffee cake, so when I first tasted her syllabub I was not disappointed!

My version of the recipe is so wonderfully quick and easy, requires very few ingredients and makes just a perfect summer pudding….you can chill it down so that it can be prepared earlier in the day and then just whipped out at the end of a dinner party….or you can quickly make some up if you’re in need of something sweet but light at the end of a meal. It has the most dreamy texture, velvety and smooth, and the citrus nicely cuts through all the rich creaminess. Lush!

You will need (to make four servings):

  • 150 g golden caster sugar
  • 600 ml double cream
  • The juice of two lemons
  • Two table spoons of lime juice
  • Plus a little zest for sprinkling

How to make it:

  1. In a saucepan, bring together the sugar and cream and warm gently until the sugar has dissolved and the two are nicely binded
  2. Bring to the boil and keep bubbling away for three minutes
  3. Turn off the heat and whisk in the juices
  4. Pour into a pretty pudding glass or ramekin through a seive, then cool in the fridge for a couple of hours or more
  5. Sprinkle with zest to finish

Yummy!

Ems x

Made with love: Lemon Drizzle Cake

Pretty rose pattern, Fine Bone China Trio by Regency of England

Yummy lemon drizzle cake
(served on pretty rose patterned Fine Bone China Trio by Regency of England, for sale on my Etsy shop, £12)

When it came to planning  a surprise Birthday tea party for my Mother-in-Law to be earlier this month, I knew that there just had to be a lemon drizzle cake. Liz often makes an amazing lemon cake, and likes it to be super zingy and full of fresh lemon juice!

So, I set about making the perfect lemon drizzle cake for her…and the results were delicious! Everyone commented on how tasty the cake was, and the texture was pretty perfect. This cake is really moist, and is finished off with a lovely crunch topping. It’s really quick and easy to make, and freezes well too…. which is just as well, as this recipe makes one pretty big cake!

Pretty rose pattern, Fine Bone China Trio by Regency of England

Yummy lemon drizzle cake
(served on pretty rose patterned Fine Bone China Trio by Regency of England, for sale on my Etsy shop, £12)

Ingredients:

  • 200g margarine
  • 350g Organic Golden caster sugar
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 tbsp milk
  •  3 lemons
  • 150g granulated sugar

How to make it:

1. Grease and line a deep 9″ diameter round tin, and pre-heat your oven to 180C/gas 4.

2. Pop the margarine, caster sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs and milk into a large bowl and beat well until it’s all nicely blended.

3. Add the zest of all three lemons, plus the juice from one, and stir in.

4. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin, and bake in the middle of the oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown on top, and a skewer comes out of the cake clean.

5. Leave the cake to cool a little whilst you make the topping, by simply mixing the juice of one lemon with the granulated sugar.

6. Now carefully remove the still-warm cake from the tin, and prick little holes in the top with a cocktail stick or fork.

7. Pour over the juice from the third lemon, drizzling as much of the juice into the little holes as you can.

8. Finally, before the cake really cools, pour over the lemon and sugar mix, and allow that to harden into a crunchy topping.

We very much enjoyed a slice with a nice cup of tea! Hope you enjoy it too!

Ems x

New on my Etsy shop….. Mother’s Day Cards

It was cutting it a bit fine, but I’ve just finished my designs for my Mother’s Day cards, and they’re now available to buy on my Etsy shop!

I have drawn and painted in watercolour a cute tattoo-inspired ‘Mum’ design, as well as a sweet bird and banner ‘Marvelous Mother’ design. I’ll be painting one saying ‘Mom’ instead of ‘Mum’ ready for US Mother’s Day in May too.

Each card is printed in high resolution on high quality, thick 350gsm art card from FSC credited paper stock. There is a light satin coating on the outside, whilst the inside is left un-coated, making it easier for you to write your own message. Each card measures 4.13″ x 5.82″ / 105mm x 148mm (A6) and includes a good quality matte white envelope.

I’m also selling A4 sized prints which will make lovely gifts for your marvelous Mums too!

Ems x

Mum or Mom, Mother’s Day Card, print from original water colour, £3

Marvelous Mother, Mother’s Day Card, print from original water colour, £3

Domestic Sluttery Just Desserts Club….. Christmas Lebkuchen

photo(11)

I was so excited to have another great excuse to do some baking, in the shape of Domestic Sluttery’s Just Desserts Club. Not that I usually struggle for an excuse….there’s always one to be found somehow! Still, with a Christmassy theme of ‘Cinnamon’ I just couldn’t pass up the chance to get involved again!

I had initially thought I’d bake the yummy German biscuits we had made after our trip to Berlin last year (we bought Ampelmann cookie cutters and had to try them out!) as they are deliciously filled with festive cinnamon. We have also been making cinnamon flavoured vodka, but that’s not *really* a dessert, and it’s not really a recipe when all you do is shove some cinnamon sticks into a bottle of vodka! So, after scoffing up lots of the wonderfully Christmassy offerings on our recent trip to Vienna, I couldn’t think of anything more fitting (or tempting) to bake than Lebkuchen. I absolutely adore their wintery spice flavour, and love the soft texture and crisp sugary coating. The ones we brought back from Vienna lasted no time at all, so I was more than happy to get baking some!

I started out with this recipe on BBC Good Food, which was recommended to me by a fellow Lebkuchen lover. She did warn that the texture would be a little different to what we’d bought in Austria, so I tweaked the recipe to make them more like I enjoy them, and of course I just had to add an extra chocolate coating to make them more authentic still. Here’s my version of the recipe and how I made them…..

You will need (to make about 30 little biscuits)…..

  • 250g plain flour
  • 85g ground almonds
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 8 cloves, ground fine
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 200ml clear, runny honey
  • 85g salted butter
  • The finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 100g dark melting / cooking chocolate
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 egg white

How to make them…..

  1. Tip all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix
  2. Melt the butter into the honey, either in a pan over a low heat or in a measuring jug in the microwave
  3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix well
  4. Stir in the lemon zest and combine to form a solid dough
  5. Cover the dough and pop in the fridge to cool for 15 to 20 minutes
  6. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius / Gas Mark 4, and line two baking sheets with baking parchment
  7. Once cooled, roll the dough into little 3cm diameter balls with your hands…. you should get around 30
  8. Place them on the baking parchment lined trays, at least 5cm apart (you may need a third tray to ensure they are spread out enough)
  9. Squash each one down to flatten it into a disc, about 1.5 cm deep
  10. Bake them in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until they are golden brown
  11. Whilst they cool a little on a wire rack, melt your chocolate over a Bain Marie
  12. Lay your biscuits face down on the wire rack and coat the flat underside of each with the melted chocolate using a teaspoon
  13. Once they have cooled again and the chocolate has gone solid, flip them back over the right way up ready to ice them
  14. Whisk together the icing sugar and egg white, adding about 1 tablespoon of water so that you have a smooth and runny mixture
  15. Using a teaspoon again, coat each biscuit with the icing, spreading it over the face of each one so that you have a nice fine coating
  16. Decorate if you like with more melted chocolate or hundreds and thousands….you can even add a little colouring to the icing to make pink ones like we had in Vienna!

Happy baking!

Ems x

Halloween Recipe: Pumpkin and Squash Soup

With all the pumpkin flesh we carved from our Jack-o-Lantern, I couldn’t wait to make something seasonal and hearty to eat. It always seems a shame to me when people just carve a face onto a pumpkin and let the flesh go to waste. Not in this house though!

Here follows my recipe for pumpkin and squash soup….it has a little bit of a Thai style twist and because it’s thinner than my usual soups (although incredibly velvety) it’s great as a starter. You could of course scoff it with bread for lunch though, which I just did!

What you’ll need to make a batch of eight servings:

  • 1 tbspn butter
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 butternut squash, in 2cm cubes
  • 1 medium pumpkin, in 2cm cubes
  • 2 fresh red chillies, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 thumbs of ginger, grated
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 tspn lemongrass paste
  • 2 ltr hot chicken stock
  • 1 tspn Bouillon powder
  • 1 tin of Coconut Milk (don’t forget to shake the tin!)

How to make it:

  1. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan
  2. Add the onions and soften
  3. Tip in the squash and pumpkin, stir well and cook for around 10 minutes until the onions are browned and the rest starts to soften
  4. Then add the chillies, garlic, ginger and lemongrass paste, season well and cook for a further 5 minutes
  5. Now pour in the hot stock, followed by the Bouillon powder and bring to the boil
  6. Simmer for around 30 minutes until the pumpkin and squash are tender
  7. Remove from the heat and blend well
  8. Stir in the coconut milk, and blend a little more if needed
  9. Return to the heat to ensure it’s all piping hot, then serve

I’ve really enjoyed this soup, perhaps because it’s thinner but creamier than the ones I usually make. We certainly needed the bread to dip into it, although I suspect it’d work really well as a starter before the risotto I’m making for dinner (smoked bacon and pumpkin!). Either way, a very satisfying way to make best use of your pumpkin!

Ems x