New Year Baking

Well the baking has continued after Christmas! I really wasn’t expecting to have more cakes to make after the dancing Christmas party.

However, this year we are going to have dinner with some friends on New Year’s Eve, and I volunteered to make and bring a chocolate cake to the proceedings. I decided to make a chocolate sponge sandwich, the filling being raspberry jam and chocolate buttercream. And to top it all off I’ve melted some dark chocolate with a little butter and covered the cake in it. Just to add the extra touch, I added some decoration using some maltesers.

Chocolate Cake

I’m quite pleased with it! What do you think?

Happy New Year
x

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Exciting News

I’ve had some lovely news! I’ve been contacted by Craftseller magazine to write a short piece for them!! This is one of my favourite magazines as it’s always full of great ideas, patterns, recipes and inspiration from other crafters.

Time to get the brain cells working again.

I’ll let you know when I know if it’s to be published.

Happy 2014 everyone
x

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Christmas Holiday Crafting

We’re in to the second half of the school holidays now and we’ve had some fun crafting with my daughter.

We started with card making! My daughter made this one at school. A really simple idea.
Reindeer Card

There’s been lots of drawing too. She loves dinosaurs!
Dinosaurs

We’ve also had a couple of baking sessions, mainly for the dancing class Christmas party.

Vanilla sponge raisin cakes

But we had to make some more so that we could have a taste!

Then Christmas brought some Hama beads. A friend mentioned that her daughters love them, so I thought I’d give them a try. They kept my almost 5-year old in concentration for well over an hour. I was really impressed with her determination to make something and I love the designs she came up with. They are now pride of place on her bedroom wall and door.

Seahorse Hama beads

Butterfly Hama beads

I would thoroughly recommend getting some of these beads and pegboards. I’ve ordered her some more for her birthday and I think I might have a go myself. (If she’ll let me this time!) The only look in I got last time was to do the ironing to stick them together!!

We only have a few more days now until her 5th birthday, so there will be more baking and crafting before the end of the holidays!

Happy holiday crafting
x

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A craft-free Christmas

My stocking was surprisingly light of any crafty goodies, so I’ve had a completely craft-free Christmas break! It was lovely to spend time to family. I had a fabulous Christmas dinner with my parents. After dinner, this year’s family game was Hungry Dinos (a present from Father Christmas to both my daughter and nephew)! This was a resoundingly popular present. Followed by Pop-up-Pirate. Who knew how much fun it is to lose!!

With Boxing Day almost over I’m now winding down after catching up with the house cleaning, and I shall be starting to organise my daughter’s 5th birthday party next week! But I am feeling the need to craft so I think it will be time to get out the knitting needles and yarn to start making a ballet cardigan for the New Year.

What have you been up to? Did you get any crafty presents? Can you recommend I look out for anything?

Happy crafting
x

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Christmas Baking

Crafting this year really seems to be going in phases.  Last month I was knitting for England and December has been filled with baking!!

Along with all the mince parcels and chocolate scones for the Christmas Fairs, this last couple of weeks I’ve been making little vanilla sponge raisin buns and banana and bran cakes.

Vanilla sponge raisin cakes

First up are the vanilla sponge raisin cakes.  I took these to the kids dance class Christmas party.  A very simple all-in-one sponge mix with added raisins!  They taste delicious – thanks to Delia Smith for the basic sponge recipe!

I had to add some buttercream though to make them look nice!

Vanilla sponge raisin cakes

My husband has gone mad over banana and bran loaf recently.  I think I’m on my fourth in as many weeks!  This one has been taken to his office for a pre-Christmas treat!

Banana and bran loaf

A fabulous way to use up over-ripe bananas.  It’s lovely on its own or with a little butter.

Well it’s back to the knitting at last!  I have my own Christmas stocking garland to finish before the big day!

Happy Christmas crafting
x

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Christmas Mince Parcels

Following on from my post of the chocolate scone recipe, I thought I’d share the mince parcels recipe too.  They are a delicious alternative to the mince pie, which I found and adapted as a result of going to slimming world classes. 

It’s a pretty simple recipe, easy to do and doesn’t take very long either.  Great for a last minute bake for a Christmas get-together.

Ingredients
filo pastry,defrosted if frozen
mincemeat
butter

Method
1. Set the oven to Gas Mark 6 or 200°C. Cut the stack of filo pastry sheets into squares ( I cut each large sheet into 8 squares). Cover with cling film while you work with them.
2. Melt the butter in a pan on a low heat and brush the insides of a bun tray with melter butter. Layer up 2 filo pastry squares in the base of a tin, brushing each layer with butter and arranging the pastry at alternate angles, like the points of a star.
3. Spoon 1 tsp mincemeat into each filo tart, brush edges of pastry with melted butter and pinch the edges together to resemble a dumpling.
4. Bake for 5 mins, until lightly brown and crispy.
5. Leave to cool and dust with icing sugar to serve.

For an alternative, add some cranberries / chocolate chips / nuts with the mincemeat.

Mincemeat Parcels

Happy baking
x

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Manchester Christmas Inspiration

Well I have to say the weather beat me completely last week.  The stormy winds and rain soaked me through and the closest I came to the European Markets was the side of the Town Hall and the ‘Santa’ over the main entrance.  It was a truly horrible weather day and I spent the vast majority in the pub catching up with former work colleagues.  Coming home I was stuck due to a lorry overturning, and was throughly frozen!

Christmas Markets

So to make up for the disappointment of last week, I went back in to Manchester for a wander round.  I’ve recently discovered the shop Purl City Yarns on facebook, and decided to have a visit.  What a lovely little shop.  Light, bright and full of gorgeous natural fibre yarns.  I could quite happily have stayed there all day just looking at all the beautiful colours and shades, but the Christmas Markets were calling!

As usual the markets were busy, full of visitors and stall-holders, bright colours and fabulous aromas. There are some lovely stalls, with crafts, food and drink from the North West, UK and Europe. It was a little disappointing as all the stalls seemed to be the same as in previous years and all in the same place! Some of the food was particularly lovely though. My favourite was the tartiflette from the Provencal Kitchen. Delicious! Potato, cheese, onion and bacon. Great to share too! I might be attempting to make this, I think some gorgonzola would make a very tasty alternative!

Tartiflette

I didn’t spend all day eating! I did look around at the shop displays and decorations. One very beautiful garland I spotted on the Hermes shop was all around the entrance doorway. Packed full of flowers, leaves and berries, it really stood out amongst the decorations on the shops.

Hermes doorway garland

Back in the Northern Quarter and close to Purl City Yarns again, I came across this lovely painting on the side of a building.

Blue Tit mural

Not a very Christmassy image, but such a lovely sight I just had to have a photo!

That’s reminded me, I must feed the birds in my garden!

Happy crafting
x

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Chocolate Scones

With all the recent posts on the facebook page and feedback from the Christmas Fair today, I thought I’d share the chocolate scone recipe with you all.  It’s an old recipe that I’ve adapted, so apologies for the imperial measurements!

8oz plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 oz butter
1/4 pt milk (approx. to mix)
1oz sugar
2oz chocolate chips

1. Sieve all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.
2. Add butter and rub into breadcrumbs.
3. Add chocolate chips.
4. Add milk slowly to form a soft dough.
5. roll out dough on a floured surface to approx. 1 inch think and cut into desired shape with a cutter.
6. Place on a floured baking sheet and bake in a hot oven (200 – 220 in an electric oven) for around 10 minutes.

I always brush mine with milk before baking, but that’s a personal choice. The time to bake will depend on your oven, mine take about 9 – 10 minutes on 200 as it’s a fan oven. Just keep checking on them.

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They are delicious eaten slightly warm as the chocolate chips melt!

Happy baking
x

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Charity Christmas Fairs

With Christmas, comes the inevitable Christmas Fairs. This year I will be running a stall at the FOWV (Friends of Walmersley Village) Christmas Fair.

I Have been trying to fit in some making for the fair in the last few weeks, so my stock for sale will include some Christmas craft bags, 3 small rainbow bears and some baking – Christmas mince parcels and lots of chocolate scones!

P1020818

If you’re in the area on Saturday December 7th, come along to The Valley from 1:30 to enjoy the festivities. There will be plenty of stalls, games, refreshments, Santa in his grotto and Christmas Cheer! Only £2 per family.

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Hope to see you there for a mulled wine and a mince pie!
x

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