Thursday, 5 April 2012

My Adventures With Pinterest, and My Busy, Busy Week.

First off, I organised my paper stash the other day. Let us take a minute to fully appreciate the beauty of it. Mmmm.... paper.

I deny any accusations of having an unhealthy obsession with paper. *stroke*

In other news....
I have no problem at all with owning up to having spent a little bit too much of my time on Pinterest of late. My craft related productivity has been the highest since I last had space to craft (probably not far off a year ago now), I've made lots of useful things and discovered many new (to me) wonderful craft and food blogs through it. Can't recommend it highly enough for inspiration. And a super long to do list! Mine's miles long now. Some things I have got crossed off in the past week though are:

Polymer clay plant marker.
Very useful as my brightly coloured lolly sticks markers were starting to suffer from being sat in wet soil. These make my plants look classy instead of like a small child is growing them.

Inspired by an image from this blog, I finally made something to brighten up one of the corners of our front room. I spent many, many hours playing with my Cuttlebug cutting the shapes and then abusing the needle on my sewing machine by using it to sew them all together. It's currently awaiting further additions, hence the dangling red thread on one end.
Sat bored watching a film (I can't just watch things, unless I'm falling asleep. I have to be doing something at the same time), I decided to have a go at making a cardboard loom using these instructions. Still a work in progress atm, it's eventually going to be a small mat for something. Maybe not a place mat, cheap wool isn't normally too heatproof I don't think.

I've also had a go at making a watering can from a plastic milk container, which has become an invaluable part of my gardening equipment. I've got lots of large pots with plants in now and trying to water them all with my little dinosaur watering can would take years. This is great, although don't try and punch holes in the lid with something pokey instead of a hot needle like the instructions say. I thought I was being clever by not reading the guide properly. Didn't work, the smooth holes mean that the water comes out in a proper watering can style sprinkle and not one big stream (yes, despite the multiple holes). That'll learn me.

I've attempted to make a friendship bracelet seat cusion, with limited success. I was using strips of material from some old t-shirts which turned out to be not quite long enough, meaning the cushion ended up being stretched a fair bit. But the parts where I still had plenty of fabric to work with look good, so it had the potential to come out looking like the one in those pictures. Albeit far, far more offensive colour-wise (I was using near fluorescent green, pink and orange fabric).

Having recently come into ownership of a lovely table and chair set for the balcony, I made myself some plant hangers using this tute. I used just bog standard cotton kitchen string to hang some of the smaller pots on the balcony from the railings to free up some floor space. I'll pop some pictures up if I remember to take some when it's not pitch black out.

So that's about it for things what I nicked off Pinterest. For now. Expect further updates.

When I wasn't busy getting stuck in string or stroking my paper collection this week, I made THE. BEST. HOT CROSS BUNS. EVOIRB. E-V-O-I-R-B. Modesty aside, it was a fantastic recipe, found here. I wanted to get a good recipe so some could be taken down with us when le Boof and I go to see the fams for Easter this weekend. (Correct sentence structure? Pfft, too excitable) The first recipe was based on a fairly standard bread recipe. The came out a bit solid and went stale really quickly. These babies however. OMGoose. Once they'd cooled (enough) we had a taste. They were super soft and just perfect. They were everything I wanted from a hot cross bun. I was super excited. In fact, I've still only made the one batch but I can't stop raving about them. Unfortunately for le Boof he's pretty much the only person I've seen all week, so it's been mostly aimed at him (although I'm fairly certain he wasn't listening most of the time, so I guess it's ok.) I can't recommend this recipe highly enough. It's a bit more labour intensive than the first I tried, it's probably best left for when you've got an entire day/evening set aside for breaded goods based tinkering. Or if you're a work from home seamstress who is easily distracted. *ahem*

I'm making the proper batch tomorrow, here's hoping I can keep them from le Boof long enough to get them all the way down South!

And finally, golly, there's a lot more to be blogged, but this'll be the last thing for now, postable birthday cakes. Two of the lovely ladies that I worked with when we were down South had their birthdays last week. So when the delivery man came to pick up my finished box of sewing, I snuck in a tin of cupcakes.

The main challenge with this was making sure the cupcakes didn't rise too much so they wouldn't fit in the tin. I tend to have issues with my cupcakes being tall, but I just about managed enough small ones to spell out happy birthday! They were vanilla sponge with a hole scooped out the top, Ma's home-made strawberry jam plopped in then a thin bit of the scooped out cake put back on top to keep the jam in place. Iced with glace icing, piped on letters with the same in purple and finally, edible glitter. Yay! Off they went with the courier man.

Unfortunately it took a week for them to reach their destination. I was fairly certain it was a next day delivery thing, but I have been assured they were still yummy when they were finally received yesterday. Oh well.

For anyone who has played Portal 2 all the way through - here ♥. If you know the background, it's quite emotional. Such a fantastic game, and a great song.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Fruity cakes and more bunting.

I've always been more into veggies than fruit, but when I do my twice weekly (ish) grocery shop down the high street, I do try and buy a few bits of fruit in an attempt to nudge le Boof and I closer to our 5-a-day. However more often than not, said fruit will sit for a little while in the fruit bowl, full of potential, then start to go a bit past it's best, and of course then there's an excuse not to eat it. This week though I decided enough was enough. I rescued the three apples and one banana from certain bin-based doom.

And put them in cakes.

Well, we're still eating them, just maybe in a slightly less healthy fashion than I had first intended.

So for me, a humongous apple cake, and for BF some banana muffins (actually a banana loaf recipe that I was too lazy to bother with the loaf tin for so they went into muffin cases).

The banana loaf recipe was from my wonderful Hummingbird bakery cook book, the one I always seem to turn to when I'm at a loss for what to bake. As for the apple cake...

450g cooking apples (although I used half eating, half cooking this time and it came out fine)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
225g butter
280g caster sugar
4 eggs
2tsp vanilla essence
350g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
A little Demerara sugar (or similar) for sprinkling on top

1. Set the oven to 180°c
2. Peel, core, then thinly slice the apples
3. Squeeze the lemon juice over the apple slices
4. Beat the butter and caster sugar together, then add the eggs one at a time.
5. Stir in the vanilla essence then sieve in the flour and baking powder.
6. Line a large, deep baking tray with greaseproof paper, or grease one well with oil or butter.
7. Spread half the cake mixture evenly across the base of the tin, then layer half the apple slices on top.
8. Carefully cover that with the rest of the cake mix and finally arrange the last of the apple on top, and to finish, sprinkle with (lots) more sugar.
9. Bake for 40-45 minutes, leave in the tin for 10 minutes to cool once it's out of the oven.

When I was not eating cake (as part of my 5-a-day), I managed to finish this; bunting for the university's knitting society which I am part of.

I used this pattern for knitted bunting triangles I found on Ravelry ♥, but changed the amount of cast on stitches to fit the embroidered pattern... which was a cross stitch pattern for the Times New Roman font, that just so happened to translate nicely to knitting embroidery. I did try knitting the letters in as I went, but it ended up being more trouble than it was worth. I'm still new to colourwork with knitting. Someone with more experience (or not, who knows) might have had more luck, but for me it came out looking sloppy. The embroidering however came out rather nicely, even if I say so myself. I used a duplicate stitch, which took a bit of getting used to, getting the embroidery yarn to sit directly on top of the stitches, but I got it in the end! Very pleased with this, it shall be adorning all future KnitSoc tables for various events.

In other news, I have recently become obsessed with Pinterest. It's kind of social networking, but more than that. You set up "boards", collections of things that you like the idea of or that inspire you, or that you just plain like the look of, then whenever you come across something on the internet that falls into one of these categories you can "Pin" it, and add it to one of your boards. You can also follow other people's boards, and they can follow yours. There's lots of pictures of things people want for their weddings, and cute puppies, and pictures of attractive/famous young men and women, but personally I have found it incredibly inspiring. In the last week I have been more productive, arts and crafts wise, than I have been since we moved up here. All the things I have made need an entire blog post of their own, so I'll leave that until next time, but for now, here's my collection of boards, enjoy!

Just watched Fight Club for the first time (yes yes, I know) so song for this post is
Pixies - Where is My Mind