#100happydays (part 4)

I finished my #100happydays challenge a couple of weeks ago and here are the final 25 pictures.

#100 happy days 76-100 I definitely got in the habit of thinking about the day’s photo and it was a little bit weird when I didn’t have to do it (I know I never HAD to to do it, but I was determined to do all 100 days). So here in full glory is one hundred things that have made me happy (or grateful, pleased, content, or not-so-sad)

100 happy days

Picture 100 was taken the day I got discharged from the physio and she said I could try to knit again (as long as I take regular breaks every half-an-hour and keep up with strengthening exercises) so I’m hoping for a summer of knitting.

 

Plans and goals for 2013 – A Review

Do you remember Karen started the sewlution jar in January? Well I threw my name into the jar with this main goal: I am going to make less but what I make will be better. Lets see how I did…

couture couture jacket liberty hawthorn Floral Cambie

I learnt some more couture techniques from reading and online tutorials, which I used to make my turquoise couture jacket; The majority of this was finished by hand, which took lots of time, but was to a finish I’m really proud of. I took my time making dresses this year, using higher quality fabrics, and spending much more time on the muslin process and using better pressing techniques to get a better finished garment. I’m not sure if I have really made less, but most of what I have made will be worn for years to come. I’ve made more classic quality pieces and less impulsive fast fashion garments, so I think I can say my Sewlution was achieved, oh Mistress of the Jar!

Other goals I set were:

  • I will not need to be so sentimental and protective of my creations.
    Did you see the giant bag of clothes I took to the charity shops at the end of Me-Made-May? It included many me-made garments that just weren’t getting worn. A couple of garments were kept for recycling, but these are still in the to-sew pile.
  • donationsI will finish what I have started (or get rid of it/recycle it). Errr… not as much success for this. When I moved house I did get rid of loads of scraps and pieces, but I also had to buy more storage for my stash :-S oops.
  • I will do some of the Craftsy courses I have signed up for! I have used the Block of the Month and Free Motion Quilting courses to make my Black and White and Red All Over quilt,  and I’ve been watching knitting classes to learn how to get a better fit in knitting garments (finished cardigan is still drying, must turn heating up!).
  • I really want to make bunting! I made some bunting for the Crafty magazine fox competition, but sadly I didn’t win (I think my tutorial was much too long for a magazine). But that means that I can now share my super cute tutorial with you all instead!
  • I am going to learn to take better pictures. I have a tripod and a remote control, and have been taking hundreds of pictures to get 5 decent ones for the blog. I set up a proper background to take photos of my girly cupcakes.
  • girly cupcakesI am going to be a better blog-reader. I am better at commenting using twitter, but there is still the issue of getting past comment validation systems on a phone. Still a point to work on as I have loved all the great comments I’ve recieved this week.

retro recipes

  • I am going to explore new recipes. I only made 5 recipes as part of my retro recipe plan, but they were all great dishes that I know I will return to. I will carry on trying the classic recipes, but found it tricky this year with my wrists bandaged up.

I think I had a pretty good go at those plans, but the main change has been my attitude to my crafting; more planning and precision has led to more successes. If you want to read my plans for 2014 you can see them here.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been reading and commenting this year 🙂 Hope you have a fantastic new year and I’ll see you in 2014!

Retro recipe #5 – Chocolate Slices and Crispy Crunch

It has been a long, long time since I posted a Retro Recipe from my Grandma’s binder, partly due to trying to be healthy. However if there is ever a time to eat yummy snacks it is on your birthday! This recipe is definitely not healthy, so stop reading now if you don’t think you can avoid the temptation…

retro recipes

I wanted something easy to make and that wouldn’t have the oven on for hours on a hot day, when I found recipes for different types of Fridge-Cakes. I couldn’t decide which recipe to use, so I made both.

The first was a classic Rice-Crispies-Square recipe, made with toffees and squidgy marshmallows. I decided to add some Rolos to half the mixture, and this variation proved most popular.

crispies 3

The second recipe was a chocolatey Rice-Crispies-Square made using Mars bars, instead of melted chocolate for a rich caramel flavour. It was yummy as it was, but again I mixed things up and added some Smarties to the basic mixture. I also made some of the squares with cornflakes instead of crispies.

crispies 2

All five varieties were sampled by a range of people; from my brother, to my colleagues, from friends to the bar staff who saw us eating the goodies. There were two clear winners: Cornflakes “as I just always prefer cornflake cakes” and the extra chewy Rice-Crispies-with-Rolos.

crispies 4

Here are the two winning recipes:

For both recipes: Prepare brownie tin or cake tin by lining with foil. When filling with mixture, tin may not be completely full so fold foil up to make divider.

Chocolate Slices

75g or 3oz margarine or butter
3 Mars bars, chopped
Approx 75g or 3oz cornflakes

Melt butter and Mars bars in a saucepan, stirring until all melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Add cornflakes until you get desired consistency. Press into tin and leave to set in fridge, before cutting into squares.

Crispy Crunch

50g or 2oz toffee
50g or 2oz marshmallows
50g or 2oz margarine or butter
Rice Crispies (approx 2-3 cups)
1/2 pack Rolos, chopped in half

Heat toffee, marshmallows and butter in pan until everything has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in enough Rice Crispies until mixture is fairly stiff. Stir in Rolo pieces and press mixture into tin. Chill in fridge and then cut into squares.

I’m not sure if you can tell from the photos, but I cut tiny squares. These recipes are both very rich and sweet and delicious, so small portions were needed! I am not normally a big advocate of small puddings, but with these less is more!

crispies 1

Retro recipe #4 – Quick and Easy Fruit Cake


retro recipes

It has been a while since I tried any “new” recipes so yesterday, since the oven was on cooking lunch, I had a look through my Grandma’s folder for a recipe to try. I picked the Quick and Easy Fruit Cake recipe as it contained ingredients I had lying around and the recipe claimed it wouldn’t take too much effort.

The process was easy as described (but not quite so quick as there was a bit of standing around and waiting).

1. Weigh ingredients.

quick and easy cake 1

2. Simmer and let the sugar turn caramel brown.

quick and easy cake 2

 

3. Admire juicy plump fruit (and ponder possibilities of using fruit juice instead of water)

quick and easy cake 3

 

4. Mix.

quick and easy cake 4

5. Bake, leave to cool then eat.

quick and easy cake 5

 

This was another recipe with minimal instructions, so I used my standard 8″ (20cm) loose-based cake tin. The resulting cake was rather flat, so next time I’d use a smaller cake tin to get a bit more height. This also meant that the cake cooked much more quickly than the 90 minutes the recipe instructed – I smelt yummy smells after about 50 minutes.

Here is my slightly more detailed version of the recipe:

Quick and Easy Fruit Cake

4oz margarine
4oz sugar (I used soft brown)
12oz dried fruit (I used currants, sultanas and cherries, but you could use anything)
1/4 pint of water
1 egg, lightly beaten
8oz self-raising flour

Grease and line a 6″ (15cm) round cake tin and pre-heat oven to 150ºC (gas mark 2)

Put margarine, sugar, fruit and water into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on. Remove from the heat and let the pan cool for approx 5 minutes. Add the beaten egg and flour and mix well until combined. Put mixture in tin and bake at 150ºC for approx 50-60 minutes (depending on size of tin) until top is golden and skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for a little while, before cooling on a wire rack.

 

As I was simmering the fruit I wonder what liquid could be used instead of water – how about soaking the fruits in apple or orange juice? Or what fruits would you choose to use – dried apricots and dates, raisins and sultanas, or even dried apple pieces? Not many of the recipes in the folder contain spices (due to post war availability?) and the cake tasted nice as it was, but you could easily add a few teaspoons of mixed spice or cinnamon.

If you make this recipe (or make any changes) let me know how you get on. I’d love to see pictures of other (quick and) easy fruit cakes!

A quick catch-up

I thought I should write a quick post before I go back to work tomorrow and get busy with real work again, so here is a quick round up of some of the things I’ve been up to this weekend.

  • I met up with some friends and we played board games and decorated cupcakes. L had got some amazing tools and cutters for her birthday, including some adorable teeny, teeny, teeny, tiny ones. I said I couldn’t eat mine until I took a picture when I got home, but they was a slight jumble in the tin as we power-walked for the train so there was only one photo-ready cake…
    cupcake
  • The train journey there and back, plus a movie night meant I’m making good progress on my red cardigan. I think I showed a swatch in the summer (August to be precise) and never revealed what it was for, so I will make sure I take some pics to show you what I’m knitting.
  • I whipped up a quick top using the purple floral remnant I showed you at the beginning of the week. Not much to say about it. It is my go-to jersey top pattern (a mish-mash of BurdaStyle Sadie and Lydia patterns). Since I was using a remnant I had to have some designer seams on the sleeves (there is a seam below the elbow and a wide cuff band) but the pattern is so busy you really can’t tell. The other change from my normal making is that I applied iron-on seam tape to the shoulders and neckline to minimise stretching (my black and white striped top is on its last legs now and much more revealing than it originally was!)t-shirt
  • I saw this picture online this week:
    It reminded me that I have to show you my dinosaur embroidery. A T-Rex trying to knit except his arms are too short! I love his puzzled face. I can’t decide if it is finished or not. Should I keep it as it is, or risk filling in the outline with colour (satin stitch is not my strength!). What do you think?finished

What do you think should happen to T-Rex? Have you been crafting this weekend?

Retro Recipe #1 – Apple Cake

retro recipesThe first recipe in my recipe challenge was an apple cake from my Grandma’s recipe binder as I had lots of apples that hadn’t got eaten in the holidays.

recipe I had all the ingredients in my kitchen except for the lemon so I substituted a few drops of  lemon essence. Three regular eating apples came to approx 8oz after they were peeled and cored. The recipe seemed a little odd at first – making a breadcrumb texture with the flour, sugar and marg felt more like I was making biscuits or pastry – but when the egg was added it came together really nicely and made a good thick batter.

apple cake mixThe recipe didn’t give instructions for tin size and after some trial and error the best fit I had was an 8inch round tin. I lined it with foil as my greaseproof paper got used up making Christmas gingerbread, which allowed me to pick up the cake mix to put it in another tin.apple cake mmmm

The recipe sai to cook for 60-90 mins at gas mark 4. According to my conversion magnets this is 180ºC, however after about 45 minutes I could smell cake, it looked golden brown and the skewer test showed the cake was cooked. The cake was a little bit shorter than it probably should have been, which could have explained why it cooked faster.

This cake was a great Sunday afternoon cake (yup, back-to-school has left me too exhausted to blog this until today). Normally I would automatically add some cinnamon or spices to an apple dish so it was refreshing to have a tang of lemon in this cake and it added a nice depth to an otherwise fairly simple cake. The apple stayed in chunks and the sultanas were well distributed around through the cake (helped by the method of mixing perhaps?). This cake doesn’t have the wow factor of some cakes, but I would definitely make this again for an afternoon tea.

apple cakeHere is the recipe:

Apple Cake
8oz self-raising flour
4oz margarine
4oz sugar (I used a mix of caster and light brown)
pinch of salt
3oz sultanas
8oz chopped apple (cut into approx 1cm cubes)
Grated rind and juice of 1 small lemon OR 3 or 4 drops of lemon essence
2 medium/large eggs

Rub the margarine into the sifted flour until it forms breadcrumbs. Add the salt, sugar, sultanas, apple and lemon rind and mix well. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add to mixture with the lemon juice/essence. Using a knife mix the egg into the cake mixture and fold in gently until all ingredients are combined. Grease and line a 7 inch round cake tin and place mixture into tin. Place in middle of oven at 180ºC and cook for 45 to 50 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack – tastes good slightly warm or cooled the next day!

If you make this recipe please link back to this post or get in touch so I can see your pictures!