Saturday, 30 April 2016

Sunrise Makeup Bag

I have got to the end of the month and realised that I have not done a patchwork project for this month.  I saved lots of ideas most of them really need to be incorporated into a quilt to get the full effect and I am not wanting to get into that at the moment it feels like more of an autumn project.  I am still hoping that the weather will turn warmer soon ( I live in hope!) rather than snow, so the plan is I won't be needing quilts just yet. 

One idea that I liked was that of a sunrise design so rather than put it on a cushion again I thought it could go on a makeup bag with a wrist strap.
I used a decorative stitch to give the impression of rays coming off it, I had also thought about some beading but that can always come later, lining wipe-able for any makeup spillage.


It is only a small project this time but I had such a run of furniture and dress making on my last break from work that I haven't really got around to anything bigger on this front. I will have to choose something exciting for May.

Another picture inside, with the fading light I couldn't decide which was best.

I picked up some books from the library today that I had on order, a few of them on crochet as I need to get back to a bit of that as well before I forget how to do it.
Those Russian dolls are so cute I must give those a try, I also like some of the chunky baskets from the book bottom right.

The materials used in the makeup bag above were all recycled and leftover pieces, nothing new was bought.  The zip had been unpicked and saved in the past, looking back over a lot of the things I make a lot of the same designs on fabric come up again and again.  I don't like to waste any of it, I was joking with my husband that he should tell a colleague of his who I made a vintage dress for that the scraps of cherry fabric were being used again.  I made a dress for someone in that print eighteen months ago and there are still little bits left.
If anyone has any ideas for the really tiny bits I would love to hear about them.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Vegan Chocolate Cake (Wheat Free)

I ordered a new cook book this week, I mainly get them from the library but this one looked so good that I knew I would want to keep this one, plus it was just £5 with free delivery.  It came yesterday and I had a good drool looking through it.  So I decided the first thing I would make would be the chocolate cake as I knew everyone would eat that. I already made the carrot cake from the vegan website last week but forgot to photograph and post

The organic cacao powder was expensive but well worth it, it tastes amazing in the cake and when you open the packet it smells wonderful.  I followed the instructions precisely today and the cake came out brilliant I'm sure I will be making a lot from this book.  It is quite a size too, I suppose I didn't expect it to rise without the eggs but it just shows there are ways around these things.

I didn't do the icing as I always feel it can be a bit much, too sweet and just extra expense.  Also some types of frosting mean that the cake has to be consumed straight away, this is no good if there are only a few of you or you want it to last.
This is the book, it is a joy to look at as there is a full colour photograph for every recipe.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Pecan and Pear Vegan Upside Down Cake

I made this yummy pudding last Sunday and it has taken me until now to get around to sharing it.  As of last Friday I became vegan and I have taken the 30 day pledge here.  I had a couple of gluten free
cookery books from the library and I have marked all the pages of things I want to make however I am now adapting some of them to be vegan.

I was already part the way there being vegetarian and intolerant to milk but I could eat some cheese, now I have switched the cheese to a vegan alternative and cut out the eggs.  Any advice or recipes/recommendations of products greatly appreciated.

Here is the finished desert...
I know, I should have centred the plate a bit better! It really was a last minute photo though as I was just about to cut into it.


It is so nice with soya cream on and full of healthy ingredients so no guilt eating pudding at all.
The original recipe was from 'Deliciously Wheat, Gluten and Dairy Free'  so the only things I had to change for this recipe were substituting two tbsp.'s of chia seeds mixed in water instead of egg and also I used Argave nectar (only a small amount) instead of the quantity of sugar stated as I thought it would be too sweet.  Other than that I followed the recipe just scaling it down a bit.


Here the two books I got from the library...

I have not included the recipe as it isn't mine  but the book (on the left) is well worth a look, order form the library.  I have marked a couple of recipes in the Phil Vickery book as well but I preferred the other one.

I have made a few other things this week mostly made on the spot and without time to photograph.  One thing I really enjoyed was fried Kale with garlic mushrooms, spring onions, peppers and fried tofu.  I ate that for tea with older son, then cold the next day in a salad.  Oh dear stomach upset for two days!  I have not really had much tofu in the past but I really think it was that, that upset me.  All other ingredients I eat regularly so that is a shame.
There is still more to try so I will be cooking more new things but giving the tofu a miss.

I finished a couple of books 'Brain Hacks' was a really good one and I made myself a little list as I went along and also ' The Wisdom of Groundhog Day' by Paul Hannam was really good. There are lots of ideas to bring you back to the present, stop chasing future happiness and be happy now, very true.


Friday, 8 April 2016

Butternut Squash and Sugar Snap Korma, Cheap Gluten Free Curry Night

If I have a choice about what kind of food to eat when we go out it has to be curry. I have to say it has to be one of my favourite meals, so tonight I  thought I would make one. Despite the fact that my older son and fellow vegetarian had gone out and my husband and younger son wanted a beef casserole.

On days like this I generally make sure I am making enough so I can save some, I usually freeze a couple of portions and then I have a freezer meal another day for the vegetarians. 

I started off the casserole and then went out with the dogs then I started the curry when I got back.  To go with my curry today I made some sweet potato fries so I also put these in a bowl of water once chopped so they could soak for  forty five minutes.  ( This gets some starch out apparently)

So in my pan here is half a  yellow pepper, one small red onion, 100g sugar snap peas chopped, two cloves of garlic and about a third of a medium butternut squash.  So I fry these for about five minutes gently in   olive oil and add a few tbsp. water and let it simmer for about another seven to soften the squash.

I then make a space in the middle add a tiny bit more oil and one tbsp. of cumin, one tsp of turmeric and one tsp of coriander (fresh is better at the end but I didn't have any). When the spices have fried a little pour in 200ml of coconut milk and 100g of cashew nuts crushed to a powder ( or very small bits).

Now I don't own anything to grind the cashew nuts so I put them in a bag and bash them with a rolling pin (very therapeutic!)  it doesn't get every last bit but it's good enough.

As well as being good for you they thicken up the curry.

For the sweet potato fries I soaked them  first for forty five minutes, cut all the same  size so they will  cook at the same rate, blot on kitchen paper and add a small amount of oil to baking tray then space them out evenly.  Don't add salty seasoning as I read it creates steam and they go soggy, I added some herbs.
Then cook a  in hot oven for forty minutes checking and turning regularly.

Once you add the coconut milk and nuts it only takes a few more minutes, there is about three portions here but I suppose it depends on your portion sizes.

So I really enjoyed my meal, it is healthy, inexpensive per portion and ticks all the boxes for wheat free, dairy free, vegan etc.  Plus that is a meal sorted for another day, it also goes really nice in a regular baked potato,I've done that before when I have only had a small amount left to freeze.


That is a large portion there, I feel a bit full now.  Just a couple of my fries caught on the edges but these were the crispiest I have made so I would say the soaking works.  Sweet potatoes are really great, very healthy so I must eat more. They have a low glycemic index and lots of vitamin A. Although I really should add that by baking the sweet potato you increase the GI, but who wants to boil everything? They are still very nutritious as fries.







Saturday, 2 April 2016

Writing Bureau Makeover

Yesterday I managed to finish painting my second piece of furniture which is a writing bureau.  I didn't go in the shop with the intention of buying this but when I saw it I just loved it, I did need something for the corner of my dining room with storage and this was perfect.

I chose a pale grey for this which is called light rain, it is very light and I was expecting a darker shade based on the sample piece in the shop.  The next shade up in this paint was too dark though and I didn't want it looking drab.

So as you can see a very pale colour, my walls are a soft white but the bureau is not very different from them.

I had thought about painting the inside but decided against that as I intend this will get a lot of use I think the finish that is already on will probably be more durable.  I gave it a good clean and added a bit of paper but not on all of the desk as it has a leather inset which you can't quite see in the photo.

While the colour is not quite what I imagined I am happy with it, it was quite battered before I sanded and painted it so now it does look like new on the outside at least.  I intend to keep a lot of my craft stuff in here as it has nice deep drawers and there is a bag of crochet hooks and wool on the floor beside it in the picture that will be going in the bottom drawer!

Here is the before picture, it was a lovely colour wood but in such a state it couldn't have been left as it was.
There were notches in the top that had to be filled and chips and dints everywhere.

I was going to spray the handles silver, but as the colour is so pale I am leaving them black as they stand out well on the new colour.  I am happy that this is another piece of furniture that has been saved and we didn't go and buy new.  My only worry is that as more people do this the second hand shops are starting to put up the prices which may mean that some people think what is the point when you can buy new cheaper.   In a lot of cases yes you can but it is mass produced, often poor quality and the furniture which is already out there is being discarded.   I hope the trend to upcycle continues, it is sad to think of all those items that are going to waste.

The two pieces of furniture I painted over the last two days both came from St Lukes Hospice Shop I also got the lamp which is on top of the bureau, so the purchases also contributed to charity.


Friday, 1 April 2016

Retro Cupboard Makeover

A few weeks ago I bought a couple of items of furniture from the charity shop  with the intention of painting them.  The first is a set of drawers which was intended for my sons bedroom but as he didn't love it as much as I did we did a swap and he had the drawers from our hallway and I decided to keep this new (new to me) set.  I keep a large chest of drawers in the hallway for shoe storage, lined with paper it is a great way to keep them all out of sight and off the floor.

I looked at lots of images of different items of furniture painted in  bright colours but after much thought I decided on a mint green for these drawers but only the frame was to be painted as the drawer fronts are such a lovely colour and go well with the green they will be left.

I love the shape of these and the little legs...
Strange light in my hallway does not give good pictures.

I like the brown with the green but I have found the varnished fronts mark really easily, I may have to coat with more varnish or if they start to get scuffed they may have to be painted to match the rest at a later date.

Temporary cut fabric for candle will be hemmed later.

It was nice to begin with I thought but I think it looks a bit more up to date now it is painted.  The colour I used is called cut grass, I don't know why it is nothing like the shade of cut grass.  It is also one coat paint but I still gave it two one never looks right to me.

Here it was to begin with...

 Right now that one is finished I am in the middle of the next piece which is a writing bureau for my dining room, I am painting that one a pale grey.  Both pieces of furniture were sanded first then given two coats of primer and then two coats of paint.  I will hopefully share the bureau tomorrow if it is finished.