Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wrap it up...

I do love making presents - especially when I stumble across that special pattern/idea that would suit a special someone so perfectly it seems almost like divine intervention.

I love wrapping presents too

But what I love best is making the wrapping as much a part of the gift as the gift itself!

This was a pressie for my brother - he wanted a ravioli stamp, so that's what I got him. Not the easiest thing in the world to wrap. I suppose I could have found a box for it or put it in a gift bag but I had the idea that it would be nice to pair it up with a bag of good quality pasta flour.  Still there is the wrapping problem so I also got him a couple of tea towels ( you can never, ever have too many tea towels!) wrapped them around the the bag of flour and tied it all up with some lovely blue and white striped ribbon from my Jane Means stash.

The actual main part of the gift - ravioli cutter - wasn't even wrapped but tied in place with the ribbon!
I finished the whole gift off with a vintage map gift tag (you can get these as a free download from here) tied on with kitchen string.

He loved it!

I always find wrapping little things neatly (I am a stickler for neat when it comes to wrapping gifts) really difficult. You can either bulk it up with lots of tissue or find a suitable box to put it in then wrap that but too many layers and it becomes a bit like the 'pass the parcel' party game...

I found these adorable pillow box printables over at the delightfully named Picklebums blog. Simply print, cut out, score along the dashed lines, fold, add a little sticky tape/glue and done. I tied some blue stitched ribbon from Jane Means around the box to finish it off.

I love these simple stitched ribbons - they come in so many colours you are bound to find one that matches your wrapping.  Here's another I did, complete with one of those fab vintage map gift tags!

I always love getting gifts wrapped with proper ribbon  You can absolutely guarantee it will get carefully tucked away and used again.

Or is that just me?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Veggie Box - 26th March 2013

 In our box this week we have:
  • Bag of new potatoes
  • Bag of mange tout
  • carrots
  • spring onions
  • some runner beans
  • bag of salad leaves
  • tomatoes
  • plums
  • pears
  • white grapes
  • the teeniest, tiniest little Romanesco you ever did see!
Our veggie box is looking a bit sparse this week. Very colourful, but not as full as previous weeks. I put this down in part to the bad weather and in part due to the presence of some very lovely (but, I expect, pretty pricey) white grapes.
It's not a problem as I still have the mushrooms and broccoli left from last week! ( I know, I know - they really should have been eaten by now...)

I may have to buy some cooking onions and more spuds though - this cold weather means comfort food all the way and the ultimate comfort food as far as I am concerned is mashed potato!

Here's the teeny, tiny romanesco (it's a type of cauliflower in case you were wondering) It's sitting next to some normal sized tomatoes and that's a bunch of spring onions behind it, just to give you an idea of the scale.
I just love them. In fact I am almost loath to cook and eat this one, it is a work of art! Isn't nature amazing?

Romanesco - Roman Cauliflower - originates as the name suggests, from Italy so it's hardly surprising that most of the recipes I found seem to be based around pasta.  I might even dig out my old pasta machine and rustle up some fresh linguine in honour of this miniature masterpiece :-)

Lots of romanesco recipes have been added to the pinboard - please do go take a look! (I'll let you know how the homemade pasta goes - it's been a while since I attempted it!)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Creative Budget - Easter Egg decorations

It's Creative Budget time again and here is the little bundle of goodies I received from Abakhan for my latest challenge.

Today I am going to show you what I did with all that lovely felt...

Easter Egg Decorations

These cute little embroidered felt Easter Eggs are just the thing for bringing a little Easter cheer into your home and they are so easy to make.

Draw yourself an egg shape template onto card (I used an empty cereal box) You can make you eggs whatever size you like - a display with a mix of sizes would be cool - mine measure approx 6.5cm x 4.5cm.

Fold your felt square in half and draw around your template. Pin through the two layers of felt before cutting out your egg shapes.

Cut a small piece of ribbon to match (or clash beautifully) and pin it between the layers to make a loop at the top of your egg.

Now take a length of embroidery floss in a coordinating colour and stitch around the edge of your egg with small running stitches or, if you refer you could use a blanket stitch. (I used 2 strands doubled for both the outer seam and the embroidered detail) Stuff lightly for a padded effect before finishing the seam.

Now you can decorate your egg - I used different colours of embroidery floss and decorative stitches but you could do anything you want - let the littlies join in and glue feathers, sequins and googly eyes on the the eggs or go for something a little more sophisticated and use tiny seed beads to embellish your stitching.

Hang your pretty Easter Egg decorations around the place to bring a little eggy cheer to your home!

How about making a whole stack of hanging eggs and hiding them around the house or garden for an Easter Egg hunt? 

I still have a little pile of these to decorate - as the Little Man has finished school for the Easter hols I may even let him have a go too! I promise to show you the results later in the week...

But what about all that lovely pastel coloured yarn? Well, I'll save that for next week but if you want a clue just visit my inspiration pinboard here  ;-)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Happy Spring

Happy Spring people!

Let's do our best to ignore the snow (both fallen and forecast) and focus instead on the vivid flashes of colour poking through, reminding us that warmer days really are just around the corner.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Veggie Box - 19th March 2013

Here's what I got in yesterday's fruit and veg box from Four Seasons Foods...

we have
  • potatoes
  • carrots
  • one HUGE white onion
  • a leek
  • head of broccoli
  • big bag of salad leaves
  • cherry tomatoes
  • some pak choi leaves
  • some lovely brown mushrooms
  • a bag of beautiful sugar snap peas
  • oranges, apples and kiwi fruit for the fruit bowl

Some nice basics this week - Little Man loves broccoli and so do I! We usually had the nice dark green 'flower' as a veggie side dish and keep the stalk to chop up and add to soup (goes particularly well in leek and potato soup).  The sugar snap peas barely made it to the end of the day - they were so sweet I was just eating them out of the bag like sweeties!

Two ingredients I will be concentrating on this week are mushrooms and the pak choi.

Pak Choi - aka Chinese cabbage - is a staple green used in many Asian dishes so I am thinking simple stir fry with ginger and sesame like this tasty looking side dish (may add some chicken for a more substantial 'supper' dish)

Mushrooms are a bit trickier for me - I am not a huge fan of the texture of them when cooked so I generally cut 'em really small or make them into cream of mushroom soup.
Many years ago an Australian housemate of mine introduced me to the idea slicing really fresh ones raw into salad which I love to do. Maybe we'll try something different this week...

Lots of new recipes being added to the Veggie Box pinboard but do let me know if you have any tried and tested favourites!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

So many projects, so little time...

I have so many little projects stacking up at the moment, when I get a little time to myself I hardly know which one to work on!

Here's a beaded necklace I am working on for my mum...

It's in lovely spring colours - fresh greens, blues and yellows. It is supposed to be a gift for her wedding anniversary next week. I hope I can finish it in time but beading work is so time consuming and the kitten always wants to join in...

Then there is little dragon softie...  I made one of these for a newborn nephew of a friend and it proved very popular amongst my Forest Flower facebook page likers!  This one, also commissioned by a friend ( I have some fab friends!) is unashamedly girlie with green leafy patterns and gorgeous Tilda roses fabric.

I've used a selection of matching stitched and polka dot ribbons from my Jane Means stash to make the 'spikes' down this dragon's back - don't they look lovely?  

Another 'new baby' gift commission is this personalised star... for a little Star!

Made with the reverse applique technique I use for my popular heart decorations using felt with a pretty fabric insert embroidered with baby's name. I am really pleased with how this one turned out - I think it may be coming to my Folksy shop very soon!!

Finally I have a very cute Easter make as part of my Abakhan Creative Budget challenge. I am currently putting a little tutorial together for this make that will go live by the end of the week giving you just enough time to source some supplies and make for Easter weekend. I hope you like them!

phew...  now I just need a few extra hours - preferably while everyone else is asleep!!!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Veggie Box Recipes :: Apple and Cinnamon Crunch Muffins

I love putting fruit and veg into cakes and the moistness of muffins means they lend themselves particularly well to these additions. I've done it before with the Courgette and Cocoa Muffins and the Scrummy Spicey Carrot Muffins . A cake that contains one of my five-a-day must be considered a health food surely?

I had 2 medium sized bramley apples in my veg box this week - not really enough for apple crumble or pie but more than enough for this tasty muffin recipe!!

  • 1 egg
  • 120ml milk
  • 60ml sunflower oil
  • 2 medium cooking apples peeled, cored and grated
  • 200g flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
for the crunchy topping:
  • 60g light soft brown sugar
  • 25g chopped hazelnuts (or nut of your choice)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Set oven to 180c / gas 4

First make your topping by mixing the sugar, nuts and cinnamon together. I use a herb chopper attachment to my Braun stick blender but you could whizz it in food mixer. You need a grainy finish, with a few nutty chunks - not too fine! Set to one side for a moment.

Next combine the egg, milk, oil and grated apple in a bowl.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb, salt and cinnamon in another bowl.

Pour the 'wet' ingredients into the 'dry' ingredients and mix to a lumpy batter.

Spoon the batter into muffin cases then add a spoonful of the topping. Try and sprinkle it evenly on each muffin.

Pop in the oven for about 20mins until tops are brown and crispy.

We ate these warm from the oven with custard as pudding and cold the next morning for breakfast with some Greek yoghurt and honey. Lets face it, who doesn't like the idea of cake for breakfast? The Little Man even took one to school in his lunch box so they MUST be good!!

If you want you can add some sultanas to the wet mix too - a good handful should be enough and will earn you extra fruity Brownie points ;-)


Friday, March 15, 2013

Folksy Friday :: Raindrops keep falling on my head

Seems like we have had every type of weather this week - frost, snow, wind, even a bit of sun yesterday that gave me a much needed reminder that spring is just around the corner...  Back to rain again today so my little Folksy Friday selection seems all the more appropriate.

Just remember folks - Ignore the rain, look for the rainbow

1. Mary Jane embroidery pattern, lilipopo at glass mountain  2. Right as Rain original screen print, Lil Sonny Sky  3. Acid Rain necklace, Sour Cherry  4.Raincloud earrings, Kayleigh O'Mara  5. Pastel Rain Cloud cereal bowl, Hollie and Ollie  6. Cloud and Randrops mobile, Claireoncloud9  7. Hand painted cushion, Designs by Claire Ltd  8. Ceramic Cloud Brooch, Psycho Ceramics UK  9. In the Rain, The Docile Dodo

You can see more rain inspired finds from Folksy on my pinterest board

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Veggie Box - 12th March 2013

A couple of months back I promised I would share the contents of my weekly veggie box with you (metaphorically speaking) and also share a a recipe or two. I really want to inspire more of you to sign up to local veggie box schemes - I believe that they really are an excellent way to support your local economy, eat seasonally, become more creative in the kitchen and get more of that foodie goodness inside you!

It's always a challenge when you get your box and have to come up with ideas for what to make with the contents before it becomes inedible - I have found myself chopping and freezing leeks, french and runner beans over the past few weeks when I just didn't feel like cooking with them. And am I glad I did - leek and potato soup was just what we needed after a particularly chilly school run on Monday. All I had to do was peel a spud, chop it up and tip it, with the frozen chopped leeks into the pan with a bit of butter and some stock - half an hour later we were well and truly warming our cockles!

My 'Veggie Box' pinterest board is slowly filling up with ideas too and I am slowly making my way through the list of new recipes to try.

But if I want to convince the more reluctant of you I am going to have to be a bit more pushy!

So from this week I will be posting a piccie of my veggie box every Tuesday or Wednesday and sharing a recipe made with items from that box on Friday or Saturday.  It will keep me on my toes and hopefully help some of you feel more inspired by the idea of veggie box cooking!

This weeks box...


  • new potatoes 
  • carrots
  • parsnips
  • french beans
  • spring onions
  • leek
  • bag salad leaves (rocket etc)
  • half sweetheart cabbage
  • quarter large melon
  • pears
  • cooking apples
I have a couple of ideas - nice to have some cooking apples. I feel a nice appley cinnamon-y  pudding coming on! The cabbage looks gorgeous too. Maybe a stir fry, a soup or left raw in a winter coleslaw?

Pop back at the weekend and see what I came up with!

My box is delivered by FourSeasonsFoods, a local organic fruit and veg box scheme. I have the smallest fruit and veg box - mainly because it's only me and the Little Man who actually eat fruit and veg and I would rather have not enough than waste too much - which costs me £9 (delivery is free).

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Useful bloggy stuff...

You know Pinterest right? Lots of gorgeous images of hazy summer days, beautiful continental back street cafes, cake, cute kittens, incredible art, crafts and interiors I could only dream of reproducing, more cake, even more cute kittens, some inspirational quotes, designer outfits, famous people wearing designer outfits, some famous people wearing no outfits at all... and so on. Oh, did I mention kittens? And cake?

But there is more to Pinterest than kittens and cake. Honest.

I can happily spend an entire Sunday afternoon/football match/episode of Top Gear scrolling through pin boards repinning anything that catches my eye. Some of it is even quite useful (recipes, craft, DIY's etc). I began one board 'Useful Bloggy Stuff' a few months back. It's packed full of hints and tips on improving your blog, making it pretty and using social media (including Pinterest) as a way to promote it effectively.
Yesterday I thought it might be a good idea to actually apply some of the tips and pretty up my blog a bit.

The first thing I did was take a fresh look at my template - I have removed the background image, adjusted the column widths slightly, changed the font to one that is a bit easier to read (I loved the curly 'Crafty Girls' font but it is quite difficult to read, worse on some browsers than others!) and simplified things by using only 2 fonts - one for the actual posts and something a bit more fancy for the titles, tabs and side bar.

Then I tidied up the side bar - getting rid of all the different social media buttons and adding some funky matching buttons instead. Can you see them at the top of my side bar? aren't they a bit cute? Now it's easy peasy to click through and follow my facebook, twitter and pinterest accounts or subscribe to the RSS feed.  There's room for another so who knows - I may start a YouTube channel next ;-)  You can find loads of different styles of buttons (including hearts and stars) in many colours to download for free at Bourne Creative along with basic HTML coding to add them to your blog.

Another great piece of coding I found was pinned from a lovely blog called Something Swanky - this one is what is known as a Blogger Hack - basically some clever person has taken a popular and useful Wordpress widget and coded it for use on Blogger blogs. This one is for the horizontal bar running across the top of the blog (look above this post) and showcases recent posts with clickable pictures. Cool, huh?

Finally (and this is the best one!) I have added a 'Pin It' button that appears over any picture on my blog and allows other people to pin what they like to their own boards!
Go on try it - let your mouse hover over the image, click on the 'P' and you are ready to add it to your own pinboard!
Again, just a simple bit of HTML applied in the right part of the template coding from KEVINANDAMANDA.COM and now my blog can fully join in the Pinterest party!!

There are a few more tweaks I still want to do - I love this idea from Living, Laughing and Loving. She has created cute co-ordinated side bar titles to really tie her blog design together. I also want to have a go at creating a 'library' of tutorials and recipes like this one from The Crafty CPA .

I'm sure I will find more tweaks to try as my 'Useful Bloggy Stuff' pinboard grows. But one thing at a time :-)

Do you have a blog? Fancy having a go at some of these tweaks? Why not turn your little corner of the internet into something a bit more special. (Please remember to back up your blog before you start. Just in case)  If you do please let me know - so we can all pop over and 'ahhhhhh' at your gorgeous blog!

Monday, March 04, 2013

The Creative Crafts Show 2013

Last week was our annual visit to the Three Counties Showground at Malvern for the Creative Crafts and Stitch Show. It's become a regular outing for us girls and this year we were joined by my Other Half's brother's girlfriend, Rosie, too. I've written about how much we love these shows before so today I will let the pictures do most of the talking :-)

A beautiful quilted 'Welcome' wall hanging by Sew Enchanting. We all loved this and the fab padded Christmas Trees that were on display to!

So much fabric, so little time... choosing fat quarters at the Stitch Witch's stall. We always spend way too much here. I got some adorable teeny weeny buttons to add to my stash!

Beautiful hand spun yarns ready to knit into something gorgeous. 

Strings of brightly coloured glass pearls - I think this year was the first year I didn't buy any beads at all. Not for want of choice. I had my eyes open for something else...

Giant Knitting!

Amazing installation by the Guild of Machine Knitters
 'Well Knit by Moonlight' designed by Alice Wolfe

Cake and crafts, of course, go hand in hand. I bought the biggest apple filled, icing covered danish pastry you have ever seen (yes, I DID share when I got home!)

A little demo on needle felting from Margaret Fox (Floral Art Products, Malvern) This is something I have been wanting to have a go at for a long time and Margaret was happy to show us the basics! I am now armed with needles, mat and wool roving and ready to go!!

Margaret's lovely display of thick wool felt all ready to be turned into something even more gorgeous - if that is possible.

I am so excited to finally have the needle felting kit and can't wait to get going. Rosie bought herself a kit too and we talked about attending one of Margaret's workshops in the near future. I will let you know how it goes.

I love visiting these specialist shows - they are jam packed with all sorts of goodies but it is especially inspiring to see experts in action and have a go yourself. It's so easy to get into a crafting rut doing the same old thing. Creativity should be stretched or it becomes stale. 

I'm off now to stab some wool!

Friday, March 01, 2013

Folksy Friday :: Mums for Mum

Next Sunday (March 10th) is Mothers Day so I thought I'd show a little selection of lovely chrysanthemum inspired gifts - Mums for Mum!

1. Chrysanthemum Cushion, RibbonReal  2. Mosaic Birdbath, JoSara
3. Oxidised Silver Chrysanthemum Studs, Alison Moore Design  4.Greetings card, Linen Prints
5. Chrysanthemum Clutch Bag w/silk lining, Emma England  6. Floral cabochon necklace, Josephines

Fancy sewing your mum a little gift yourself? This gorgeous fabric called 'Garden Memories' from the Tilda WinterGarden range is available from my Folksy shop. Tilda fabrics are beautifully soft, 100% cotton and this one is bursting with chrysanthemum blooms and cabbage roses in pink and red on a pale teal blue background.  Excellent value at only £4.99 for an extra wide half metre and free postage and packing too!

I hope you enjoyed my selection today. If you would like to see more why not hop over to my 'Mums for Mum' pinboard on Pinterest.
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