Wednesday, September 16, 2015

30 minute leggings tutorial

This week I have a tutorial up over on the Spoonflower blog - custom leggings in about 30 minutes. I love their new sports lycra fabric and it's perfect for a comfy, stretchy pair of leggings that you can dance, jump, run and play in. You don't need a pattern, just an existing pair of leggings you like the fit of. Head over and read the full tutorial. I used the same fabric for her tunic in these photos. Using the Oliver and S Ice Cream dress pattern.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Wooden chest/seat cushion

My husband's grandparents gave us this old wooden chest probably about 15 years ago back in the UK. When we first got it, it was covered in a very dark varnished paint finish. We loved it immediately but we didn't love the dark color so it wasn't long before I hauled it to a paint stripping company and had them remove the finish. When I went to pick it up I was so happy to see the lovely natural wood grain revealed. I love the small nicks and dents in the wood and the rugged dovetailing joints at the corners, which had all been previously shrouded in a shiny cloak of dark brown paint and varnish.  

The paint stripper was informative too, having worked on many such pieces of old furniture. He told me that it would have been a maid or housekeeper's chest (imagine Downton Abbey, if you will) and that the dark brown color would have been the original finish. I wonder aloud whether I was doing the right thing by stripping away the original finish but he assured me that I'd probably love the piece a lot more if I did. And I do! So much so that when we moved from the UK to the US 11 years ago, it was one of the few larger items we had shipped it over with us. 

That little compartment on the left inside the chest? It was for the maid to keep her candles in.
It's big and useful for keeping spare sheets and duvets in our guest bedroom. But now it's even more practical because I sewed a large cushion for it and it now doubles up as a seat. I used extra thick foam for the cushion in order to protect the chest as much as possible.

You can read the full tutorial for sewing up the cushion at the Fiskars website by clicking here. I will also show you how to make the piping for the edges of the cushion for a professional looking finish.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Homemade biscotti

2 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup and 2 tbs granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 cup and 2 tbsp all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup chocolate chunks

For the dip
1/2 cup chocolate chunks (for melting)
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2. In a mixer, combine the oil and sugar, then add in the vanilla extract and beat in the egg.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder and gradually stir it into the egg mixture.
4. Gently stir in the chocolate chunks and chopped almonds.
5. Wet your hands with cold water and push the dough into a 2" x 12" 'log' on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
6. Bake for 35 mins and remove from the oven. Allow to cool for about 10 mins.
7. Cut log into 3/4" slices on the diagonal (approx 12 slices) and lay back onto the baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for a further 10 mins, flipping them over halfway through.
8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

For the dip:
1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over boiling water. Dip each cooled biscotti into the melted chocolate and sprinkle the shredded coconut on top. Allow to cool on a wire rack.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Doily gift tags

I attended Craftcation last week and had the chance to create a make and take project that I oversaw during one of the evening events. The gift tags were made were so bright and lovely that I thought it would be worth sharing them here too.

You'll need :
Colored cardstock
Adhesive spray
Colorful doilies
Fiskars Tag Maker

Cut a doily in half and spray the back of it with the adhesive spray. Stick it to the edge of your cardstock.

Insert the cardstock into the tag maker. I like to turn mine upside down so I can reposition it to where I want to cut.

Once you've cut your tag, insert the short end into the front slot on the tag maker and punch a hole for the twine.

Turn the tag maker around and insert the eyelet by pushing down on the orange lever.

Add your twine and you're done! Make up a few of these so that you always have some pretty gift tags on hand.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Zipper pouch

I'm the room parent for my daughter's second grade classroom this year and therefore I've had the opportunity to go in and take class pictures for our yearbook. I had this nice photo from a few months ago and since it's both our teachers' birthday month I decided to take the photo and make a little zipper pouch for pens and pencils.
I'd love to boast that I'm always organized enough to make handmade gifts for my kids' teachers but it  sadly isn't so. Sometimes a box of chocolates is just so much easier (and more delicious too). Last year I made these tea towels for my daughter's teacher and I know her teacher loved them so much that she can't bring herself to actually use them.
This zipper pouch is the perfect size for supplies and I'm hoping it'll give the teachers happy memories of a great group of kids for years to come.
I had my daughter personalize a little patch that I sewed onto the back for a finishing touch.

I adjusted the size of my photo before uploading it to Spoonflower who printed it onto a fat quarter of eco canvas. I was able to get 4 photos on the fat quarter so I've made one pouch for each teacher and just maybe I'll get around to making something for my daughter with one of the others.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tea party birthday cake

There was a birthday this week in our house (my husband's) and I made this cake for him. As you can see, I just about managed to snap a few photos before it got polished off. I'm sharing the recipe because it's so simple to make, and quick too. I decided to make this and less than 2 hours later we were eating it, still ever so slightly warm. It's a chocolate cake with chocolate chips that I adapted from a Jamie Oliver cake recipe and a butter frosting in between the layers and on the top.

3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
7 oz butter
3 eggs
1 2/3 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Butter Frosting
1/2 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line the bases of two 8" cake tins with brown paper or parchment paper.

Mix the cocoa powder into 5 tbsp of boiling water and stir thoroughly.

In a mixer, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa mixture, eggs, flour and baking powder. Fold in the chocolate chips and divide the mixture evenly between the two cake tins. Bake for about 30 mins and allow to cool.

For the butter frosting, beat the butter until light and fluffy and gradually add the sugar. Slowly add the milk and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Spread it between the two layers of cake and on the top. Add a few sprinkles to decorate.

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