Saturday, 31 December 2011

Handmade Christmas - Part 3

It is always difficult to find presents for men, even more so when trying to make them so I was particularly pleased with these:

Boy balm and leather food

Made this for my sister's fella who works outside a lot in the wet and gets very dry chapped hands.  I found the idea on charmed goals blog and loved it.

I used 1:1 beeswax to olive oil as suggested but added a slug of almond oil for added moisturising and to keep the mix a little softer.  I melted the beeswax, then added the olive oil and reheated until liquid, added my almond oil and essential oils I used lime and cedarwood which gave a really nice fresh but manly scent.  I poured the liquid into clean Lush tubs and let it set, then found it to be a little hard, so scoped it into a clean bowl and whipped it up - like creaming butter and sugar, then put it back in the tubs.

It seems to be a big hit!

Personalised Haynes Manual notebooks

Arthur came up with these and I just love them! One for his brother-in-law and one for my sisters partner.

Haynes Owners Workshop Manual Wife/Baby - We've no idea, you figure it out yourself

Friday, 30 December 2011

Handmade Christmas - part 2

Another Button based project!

This was for my sister-in-law to be who had said how much she liked the button bouquets I had made for the wedding and that she would like something similar as a centrepiece.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Handmade Christmas - part 1

I try to make all my Christmas presents to give to friends and family as it feels much more personal and for me makes me think more about the people I care about and why we celebrate Christmas rather than if I just went out and bought things.  A few years ago I realised I was buying gifts just for the sake of it and not because I thought it was something the person would really like but just so I had something to give them, which I think is entirely the wrong way to go about things.  As a result, since then I have made an effort to make Christmas gifts each year, with some turning out much better than others! But all made with love and care for the recipient.

Now that Christmas is past and people have seen their gifts I thought I'd share with you a few of my favourites that I have been making over the last few months.  This one is for my friend and her husband who married in October and I made some button bouquets for their wedding.

I used the left over buttons from the bouquets and strung them on jewellery wire then wrapped them round the wire frame of a lamp shade, then glued a picture of the happy couple onto the base and edged this in buttons.

I really like how this turned out, I have very much enjoyed working with buttons on a number of projects recently and have a good stash should inspiration hit me in future!

The list of 30 cakes!

I have had a couple of people ask me what the 30 different types of cake were that I made for Arthur's birthday so here is the full list if you want to know!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A Merry Christmas and a Discworld game

I hope you have all had a lovely Christmas time, as we have.  Many wonderful and thoughtful gifts shared, Christmas dinner with family, lots of meetings with friends and far too much edible delights!  We have been very busy over the last few days and it has been fantastic, but it is nice tonight to stay in by ourselves, so we are having a nice tea and playing my new Christmas present from Arthur, the boardgame 'Ankh-Morpork' (of Discworld fame) by Treefrog games.

We played a first round on Boxing Day and I am very much looking forward to a re-match.  The game is really nicely presented with lovely drawings of characters and nice solid feeling wooden pieces, plastic just doesn't feel as real!

The gameplay is good too, nice and simple to understand making it quick to pick up but enough going on to make it interesting. You play as one of several Ankh Morpork personalities and have to compete to control areas of the city by placing 'minions' in them, any game involving the use of the word minion gets an automatic 10 points as far as I'm concerned!  Actions happen through character cards which each have a wonderful picture on of the character and let you do certain things associated with them e.g. Lord Downey - head of the Assassins Guild, lets you assassinate an opponents minion and get paid.  Each personality has a slightly different win condition and you don't know who your opponents are playing so have to counter all angles which keeps you on your toes.  All in all it is a great game that I look forward to playing many more times.

Arthur also bought me a second Discworld game 'Guards Guards' because he 'didn't know which one you'd like best' - got to love that kind of indecisiveness! Which is just as nicely presented but there is a lot more to understand, need to spend some time with the rules on that one!

Friday, 23 December 2011

The Garden Gang

I love books.  It's best to get that established early on.  I love to read, to find myself in new worlds, and learn new things, but more than that I love books.  I love the the smell of books, I love how they look, all together in a library (not just the building, the general collective noun!).

Due to this bibliophilia we have a fair sized collection of books, and often buy more.  I tend to buy most of my books second hand in part due to cost and a re-use philosophy but also as I tend to like older bindings and authors, particularly when it comes to children's books.

These gems I found on ebay from Thames Hospice Care making them not only a great buy but money for a good cause too.  I remember the garden gang from when I was little and it is one of the only sets of books from my childhood that I haven't had any copies of, until now.  So you can imagine I was very pleased with this set of four, especially as I didn't expect to receive them until after Christmas.

Jayne Fisher is Ladybird's youngest ever published author at the age of 9, and she wrote and illustrated these books, pretty impressive!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Banoffee Cheesecake

In downloading pictures from my camera to free it up for Christmas, I found this photographic record of my banoffee cheesecake so I thought I'd share.

I like bananas, I like toffee and as far as I'm concerned banoffee is a match made in heaven (even if I am never sure how to spell it!).  Arthur really likes cheesecake, so a while ago I decided the banoffee cheesecake was the way to go.

I didn't follow any recipe, just made it up as I went, which is why most ingredients aren't measured.  Also I like a lot of base to a cheesecake and Arthur likes a lot of cheesecake so that is why the quantities are maybe a little overboard!  You could easily make this with less of each, but then where would be the fun?

So, you need:

Two bananas, a pack of hobnobs, 300g tub of phili, tub of mascarpone, ready made toffee sauce, some double cream, and a bag of fudge, also lemon juice and caster sugar (they missed out on the photo as you only use a tiny bit!).

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Festive tarts!

We had a lot of jam in the cupboard from the preserving season and I wanted to give a little gift to my colleagues so I thought I's make some jam tarts, here they are, made somewhat festive by the addition of a wafer snowflake (an impulse buy from Lakeland).

Here they are all wrapped up individually for gifting.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Mince pies and carols

Last night was carols by candlelight at chapel, and afterwards we had mince pies and fruit juice in the schoolroom.  I made up a load of mince pies to take along.  I used an idea from Angela over on Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me and topped some of the pies with ready to roll icing, or marzipan instead of pastry.  I don't have any fancy lustre spray though so mine don't look as fancy!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree!

It is most definitely that time of year once again, the lights are up in the square, Christmas songs are playing on the radio and although the snow has yet to appear in earnest the temperature has dived, the winter coat has come out and the fire is lit every evening.  All the signs were there and with the afore mentioned December birthday over, I was free to start Christmas with the raising of the tree.

I love putting up the Christmas tree it's I always remember magically from childhood.  It was always a family event, we'd layer up in our winter warmth, pile into the car and head out.  We'd spend ages picking the perfect tree, my sister wanting the perfect shape, me wanting the biggest tree possible and always with a soft spot for slightly odd shaped ones!  My mum wanting a smaller tree this year "we could put it on the table and it would look just as big" and my dad inspecting price labels of ones we picked out and quietly replacing them!  Always visiting several places to make sure we were getting the absolute best tree.  In my very early years I remember going to pick our tree from the ranks of the still growing and my dad would chop it down/dig it up to take home.  No matter the size/shape/cost of the tree we ended up with one thing was sure, it was a real tree, we never had plastic.  The smell and feel of a real Christmas tree is incomparable and a huge part of Christmas to me.

Friday, 16 December 2011

A 30th birthday

This week was Arthur's 30th birthday and I wanted to make sure it was duly noted and celebrated in some sort of style!  When his sister turned 30 last year we bought her 30 presents (an idea I shamelessly stole from a friend celebrating her husband's 40th) and wrapped them all in different papers.  It worked really well but I didn't particularly want to repeat it, I wanted something new.

So, I decided it would be a great idea to bake 30 individual cakes in 30 different flavours. I started writing a list of flavours to do and got pretty stuck around number 20, but with a little help from my friends and my mum I finally had a list of 30 that I thought Arthur would like and were different enough to be interesting.

I found some lovely sized ramekins in Wilikinsons (about 3inches diameter) to bake them in which was great as I only had muffin/cupcake moulds (too small) and full size cake tins (too big) so that was a relief.  My mum also very kindly offered to make some of them as 30 different cakes is quite an undertaking, especially when trying to keep it a secret from someone living in the same house!

Here is a photo of all 30 (plus candles, presents and 81 chocolate crispie bites) on birthday morning, they went down pretty well, and he finally understood why he'd been banned from the kitchen for 3 nights!  It was also nice as when people came round, or when we went out later with friends we gave everybody their own cake.

I won't bore you with the full list but some of my favourites are below; honey cake with rose cream icing, malt cake, and toffee sponge (I didn't have the foresight to take individual pictures before we started eating!)

Saturday, 10 December 2011

A green dress

I haven't posted in a while due to other life events getting in the way!  So I though I would share with you a post I've had in draft for a while.  Here is a green dress I made this year, I am very pleased with it and have started making a follow up with sleeves in a wonderful orange and blue octopus print I got at the quilt show last year.

Thanks to my cousin Rob for the photo

I designed and made the dress for my grandma's funeral at the start of September.  She was always insistent that her funeral should not be an occasion for mourning but should be a celebration of her life, she had even written her own words to hymns that we should sing including 'come and join the celebration'.  With all of this in mind I did not want to wear black, I wanted to wear something special, a real 'party dress' to remember her as she wanted.

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