Saturday, 5 December 2015

First quilt - the beginning and some beautiful focus fabrics!

 So I have finally started the quilt I intended to make about a year ago! I have a lovely collection of themed and colour coordinated fabrics and have just started piecing my quilt front together. Since it is the first full size quilt I will be doing I thought best to use some beautiful fabrics to hide my mistakes!

Here are some of my first blocks - I have used some lovely patterned fabrics to focus on and just had to share them because they are so cute!!

Swimmers, foxes, beach huts and birds - yay!

Also enjoying using my design wall although I think it will but full quite soon, eeek!

Watch this space for the rest of the blocks and quilt appearing soon..... hopefully!

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Norwood and Somersham Quilt Show Inspiration!

 Last Saturday I was lucky enough to be home with Mum when the Norwood and Somersham Quilt Show was on at Somersham Church. There were some beautiful pieces there and it was brilliant for Mum and I to get some inspiration for future quilt ideas, since neither of us have completed one yet!! Even better the entry fee included a tea and a piece of cake - win!

There were some really wonderful landscape ones which really interested Mum as she as been getting into her landscapes at the moment :) I particularly liked the way the spray on the sea has been done with embroidery. Very wonderful quilts!

This particular piece was started at a Sally Holman work shop and has actual shells on it! I love it, and the lady who made it was lovely too :) It has encouraged Mum and I to get round to doing the cushion landscape sets I bought from Sally Holman at the Duxford Quilt show in March!
There were some great animal ones as well, lots of cats featured at the show much to our delight!

I particularly like the cat looking in the mirror, ours definitely react like that!!

I've decided that this little hanging is Mum at the moment as she has got very good at collecting fabric for future projects that we haven't got round to thinking about starting yet....

Also this one applies to both Mum and I! My little fluffies take any chance they can to sneak into the spare room full of fabric!
This piece was really pretty and particularly drew my attention because I have actually visited the Golden Temple in Kyoto, Japan when I went travelling with my friend Gemma to visit our friend Alice who was living out there back in 2009! It really is quite special :)

 This one was the favourite though! So many cats!!! And so many ideas to inspire/borrow/steal.... I love the cats looking in the pond and up the tree! The one in the bird stand is brilliant too and looks just like the pose Molly, my brother's cat, would pull. Also the quilt hanging on the line is awesome!

What a PERFECT day! Quilting and cake followed by an evening of X-factor! Yep, sorry, I am a bit addicted to watching people sing and try to sing hehe. But I recommend going along to any local quilt shows you see advertised because they are really wonderful and great for inspiration, even if you can't do much yet!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

It's Pastry week - eeeek!

Week 6 of GBBO and the greater Didcot Bake Off!! I've gone back to the standard formula of trying out the signature challenge, particularly as I *love* frangipane, mmmmmm almonds :D

I chose a lemon and coconut recipe which I followed pretty much to the letter (you can find that here) and for the first time I had an attempt at making pastry! Normally I don't bother making my own pastry because a) who has the time and b) I have a Nanna for that and she is really good at it! The recipe I used was great and had some good tips like the egg white coating to avoid a soggy bottom; one step ahead of you this week Paul ;) I added some raspberries to the frangipane and didn't bother with the icing because I like a frangipane naked (tehe).

I had fun with my new baking beans, a new experience! Stuart was very excited too until he found out they weren't anything edible, mine are ceramic. Sherlock also seemed to think they sounded like treats in the package so that was two disappointments in my kitchen already :-/ Also a little tip, ceramic beans get very hot!!! I don't think I'll forget that again in a hurry.


The frangipane was a success - yay! Except for the part where I made too much of the actual frangipane mixture and it end up overflowing and decorating the oven. Still it could be worse :) Also due to the frangipane explosion my perfect raspberry arrangement went a little squiffy... the taste test was positive though and the gang definitely approved.

Really pleased with the star baker this week! Mat did amazing and I'm so happy for him #Matforthewin Also I really felt for Nadiya this week, those vol au vent flavours sounded amazing, it was such a shame that she had timing issues and you could see how disappointed she was when they were praising what would have been a fantastic showstopper. I was sad to see Alvin leave as he is such a lovely guy but I think he was getting out of his depth so it was the right decision.

I think our dinner knew it was pastry week and decided to show off....
I haven't had any time for fabric creations this week sadly, but I did have a lovely day out adventuring with Stu and his niece at Longleat Safari park. The car is still in one piece thankfully despite the many hitch hikers we picked up on our way through the monkey enclosure! One of which was a little cute baby...

This guy was scary..... what a face!
And we got to walk through the areas where two of my favourite animals live! I really want a pet lemur and a pet penguin now :D I'd never realised before how lemurs are like cats with thumbs and extra long tails, amazing!!

I'm just a 'bit' excited to be hanging out with all the penguins!
On the Sunday Mum and I when to a fat quarter festival in Henley at the Lady Sew and Sew warehouse. We really went to town topping up our stash with some incredibly important (hehe) and beautiful fabrics! I have got some excellent stuff to do fussy piecing with so watch this space!

The Henley warehouse and some fabric cakes :D

And we finished it off with a trip to the Chocolate Cafe and a sit by the river in the sun. Best Weekend EVER.

Except that the kitties didn't see so much of us :( But bless her, Mori was trying to help with my step count when we got home so it would look like I deserved my cake....

Until next time I will leave you with this funny thought I had the other day in my kitchen....
Just for lols - a question I ask myself most evenings #sangriaorcake

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Week 5 - alternative ingredients.... with a twist!!

Well Mary and Paul didn't choose a particularly exciting theme this week but a fair one considering the number of known allergies these days. Having baked gluten free goodies for my sister-in-law for a few years before she could eat it again, I felt I had done my bit of making difficult bakes! We decided for the GDBo we would interpret the theme of alternative ingredients differently. One contribution was choux buns since they contain dairy, sugar and gluten! I chose to use bacon as my alternative ingredient. I use this amazing recipe from Rachel from Bakerita. It went done really well and the man has decided that all bacon should be caramelised ;)
Bacon caramel brownies <3
It was definitely a tough week on the bake off for everyone so it was lovely to see that Nadiya finally aced a technical and got star baker. V happy about that one! There was quite a lot of trouble with the bakes, poor Ugne was a disaster from start to finish this week so although she has been a great contestant she was the right choice to leave this week. Mat managed to stay despite missing the memo about the right kind of ice cream cake! Tamal did some good stuff despite the terrible technical, it was good to see he could laugh it off :) I could talk about Paul's fondant lady, but I Just.Can't.Do.It.

I felt quite bad and inconsiderate having not embraced the free from week, especially since my friend is having to eat dairy free at the moment whilst feeding her new little baby. I dug out my good ol' LEON bakes book and found a couple of easy DF treats. I made coconut macaroons and Casablanca cakes, although they didn't spread as much as promised. They were gratefully received so it was definitely worth it. I feel my good dead of the day was definitely done!
Coconut macaroons and Casablanca cakes
The cat blankets were also gratefully received this week, both Molly and Harry even seem to be happy to sleep on things intended for them which is more than can be said for our little fluffers!

Sleepy queen Molly

Harry couldn't decide which was his....

Then he wanted them both!

But he did finally sleep on his :)

Hope you are all having lovely weekends. I need to have a think about next weeks GDBO plan but for now it is time to enjoy the Safari Park with Stu's wee niece :)

PS big girl Mori has mastered climbing the fence now!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

GDBO week 4 - Desserts and the top item on any cat's wish list

So it's dessert week! And really not the best week for me to start a diet.... oh well! The signature challenge this week is 24 Crème Brûlée that must be made without a torch; luckily I don't have a torch so I won't be tempted to cheat :P I found it harder this week to decide on a variation of crème brûlée as I have had it drilled into me by my crème brûlée loving mother that they are best as they come as long as they are hot! Having looked at some ideas here I decided on an almost traditional White Chocolate Crème Brûlée as I use any excuse to get chocolate in there! I used this recipe as a basis for my creation. I decided only to make 4 ramekins for our GDBO party as I knew there would be at least one other dessert on offer (which btw sounds amazing) and there wouldn't be enough mouths to eat up 24! (Also there is that diet thing again.... but the plus side of crème brûlée is the lack of raw cake mixture to "test".)
A genius idea to deal with the different rate of sugar caramelisation :P
Inspecting the handy work
I haven't quite nailed the caramalisation yet, we tried it with both brown sugar and normal caster sugar and I think the normal caster sugar is the best for giving the crisp top.

The other dessert we had was a White Chocolate and Whisky Croissant Butter Pudding. It was amazing!!! Here's the recipe if anyone wants to try it :)

It was a good week on GBBO with many yummy desserts. I was sad to see Sandy go as she is such a fun person to watch but I do think it was the right decision for the baking. I was not so keen on the choice of star baker, for 1) I think they shouldn't be keep the same person for that many weeks! It is only week 4 and 2) I don't think that Ian's cheesecakes were 'not savoury' as requested! In my book Szechuan peppercorn cheesecake, a pecan salted caramel and rosemary cheesecake, and an apple and tarragon cheesecake are far too close to savory for him to get star baker! I think there was some lovely creations and I am still very keen on Mat, Tamal and Nadiya!

My crafting this week has been to finish some monogrammed Cat blankets for my Brother and Sister-in-laws fluffies, Molly and Harry. The ones I have made previously were well received by Sherlock and my Mum's little one, Fujji, see below!
So hopefully they will enjoy them too :)
For Harry and Molly Elmore!
I also wanted to show off the beautiful cushion that my wonderful Mum made for friends of ours who are getting married today! It is only her second project but she did a beautiful job and I am so proud of her. Lets hope her creations continue :)
A wonderful wedding gift for Lisa and Jay getting married today!
Our dear kitties Sherlock and Moriarty have just about forgiven us for their cattery stay last weekend, they have been incredibily cute and affectionate, although I think Mori is taking measures to stop us going away again!
I just love this picture of our little detective checking who is coming in the house from her viewpoint!