Biscuits Week

Episode two  of The Great British Bake Off inspired me to make biscuits! It was my plan to recreate the technical challenge, Viennese Whirls. However, I was sadly lacking in cornflour.   So, onto iced biscuits. I’d forgotten how outrageously simple biscuits were to make.  Following a recipe from The Primrose Bakery Book ,  I created scrummy iced biscuits. If you’re following the recipe here, the ingredients call for vanilla essence but it’s omitted from the recipe.   I added it with the egg.

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It was a little tricky to tell when they were done, I used muscovado sugar instead of golden caster so they were already pretty dark.

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As there wasn’t anything particularly technical about the biscuits I tried my hand at icing. I iced a circle with a thicker consistency, waited for it to set, then filled it in with thinner icing.

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Next time I’ll ice the biscuits right to the edge, as I think it gives them a nicer finish. I need to get myself a circle cutter, a glass just doesn’t work all that well.

Looking forward to bread week tonight!

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This Cake is Damn Good

My last post was about taking inspiration from Great British Bake Off.This week’s inspiration came in the form of Earl Grey and lemon drizzle loaf cake, originally it was going to be lady grey because I prefer the flavour but  it turns out I don’t have any so I went for the good old Earl instead. I essentially followed Urvashi Roe’s recipe, but used a normal loaf tin, instead of mini loaf cases. Unbeknownst to me she was in series two of GBBO.

My first stumbling block was not actually reading the recipe properly. I managed to get a nasty skin on top of the milk. After a mild anxiety attack,  I threw away the first lot, read the recipe and started again!

The mixture was exceptionally light and fluffy with  only a small amount of tea-infused milk.

A lovely cup of tea is the perfect accompaniment.

 

Baking and Birthdays

My blogging needs a bit of a kick up the bum. Depression and anxiety have stilled my fingers but I might just be coming out the other end now.

A lot of my recent posts have been about my newest hobby, dressmaking. Although I’ll still be sewing away in the background, I’m going to start concentrating on Baking again. No prizes for guessing what brought on this change…

 

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Bake Off is Back

 

There are a plethora of great recipes on the GBBO website. However, my plan is to  bake my version of a challenge each week.  I Love lemon drizzle cake! my version will be somewhat inspired by my favourite cupcake recipe from Ruby Tandoh’s cookbook Crumb:

Chamomile and Vanilla Cupcakes

I made a load for my little (not so little anymore) sister’s fourteenth birthday. What really makes these treats special is the infusion of chamomile through a melted butter and milk mixture.

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My lil’ sister and niece practically share a birthday, only two days apart. We celebrated a fourteenth birthday and a first.  It was lovely if a little overwhelming. There were babies literally everywhere.

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We managed to light the sparkler after a few false starts!

 

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And just to embarrass my little sister in true big sister form. Here she is enjoying my niece’s present!

 

My idea for drizzle cake is Lady Grey and Lemon. Recipes are normally my best friend and all things go to hell when I don’t follow them. I’ll have to try to merge recipes for this experiment. but first a google search.

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Okay, so it already exists…in abundance. That makes things easier.  I might go for the Mini Loaf Cakes recipe, using Lady Grey instead of Earl as it’s got a softer flavour. Perhaps adding poppy seeds just to make things different.

Watch this space. x

My Makes…

Things are not perfect. However, I am now able to gather enough focus and energy to write this post. Last time I wrote about obsessively making things in order to avoid negative thoughts. I’m not quite comfortable having photos taken, that will have to wait for later posts.

This is the first time I ever worked with viscose. My advice. Start simple. Although this top is not complex there are a few fiddly bits, such as the collar and pocket, which were a nightmare with the slippery fabric.  It didn’t help that I decided to add cotton to the collar. although it added stability, it was difficult to piece the cotton and viscose together.

I made sleep shorts next, using a pattern from one of the Crafty Sew & So Workshops. I managed to complete the shorts in less than four hours. Essentially, I copied a pair of Pj bottoms I brought from gap a few  years ago. The little tab and button create a nice cuff.

I was on a roll. Having a bit of viscose left over I made the shorts from Tilly and the Buttons Fifi set. they came together in no time, so I added a tiny pompom trim.The band was so thin, apply the trim probably took more time than making the shorts.

My next project is the Alder Dress from Grainline. I’m really looking forward to using the ditsy flower print. Just to add a bit of interest, and because I’m falling in love with viscose, I will make the yoke out of a dark navy viscose.

 

 

I’m exhausted now. Time to crawl under a blanket and ignore the world.

 

 

An Illusion Of Control

I’m shutting myself off again. Pushing through days, focusing on minutia and ignoring my emotions. There are many ways in which I isolate myself.  Over the past couple day’s my method has been sewing. I finished a tricky viscose top and made two pairs of sleep shorts. These projects have filled my mind, taken focus and concentration. I regain the illusion of control.

Issues arise when the project is complete. All those negative thoughts and feelings crash down on me. I grasp out for something else. Anything to stop the sick twisting of my gut. I pick up another project. All is well until fatigue takes me. I fall, crumpled in a corner, alone, crying.

It’s my friends birthday coming up at the end of the month. I’m too scared to say I’m not well enough to go. I know if I wait I will feel worse.I’m scared she’ll think me callous or uncaring.

My old work colleagues are trying to arrange a reunion. I cannot reply to any messages. I was at my lowest point when I worked with them. An unexplainable fear overwhelms me each time the memories leak into the present.

My husband suggested I should write a list of things I did today as that can often help put things into perspective.

  • Pilates
  • Cup of tea with ladies after pilates
  • Tidied back bedroom
  • Made Tilly and the Buttons Fifi bottoms in viscose

It doesn’t look particularly impressive, though the shorts took me about four and a half hours and I added cute little pompom trim to the hem. I don’t have the energy to share pictures right now. I don’t even feel particularly happy with having completed them, just desperate to do something else to regain that numbness.

I hope soon that I will feel in moderation. Then I can post about all the wonderful things I’ve created. I can explain how it was all just a blip and my life is a bunch of fucking roses (sorry mum).

Wish me luck, or health, or whatever you think will help.

Featured Image by one of my favourite artists, Chiara Bautista

Mollie Makes And Experimenting With Patterns​

Yesterday I ran a charity day for Wrap Pyjama Fairies. Together with managed to make eight pairs of pyjamas for kids who are having treatment in hospital. It was fantastic but absolutely manic!  The heat did not help!

Here we all are after a very busy, fun, day! If you want to find out more check out Crafty Sew & So’s blog.

Today I made the free gift from Mollie Makes and paired it with a white cotton tank top I made a couple of days ago.

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I only had a metre of fabric and using the tiny pocket tank pattern from Grainline needs a bit over a metre. I decided to experiment. I couldn’t fit the back piece on the fold so cut two individual pieces. To add the inch or so to the back, I used one of my husband’s old shirts. I cut a straight strip and attached the raw edges before doing anything else.

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Rekindling My Relation With Food

 Having suffered from an eating disorder, food preparation has been a fine balancing act. When I was in early recovery I had the same meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day.  This took away any choice and stress around meal time. I knew exactly what I was eating every day. It was also useful to keep weight gain consistent. It’s only recently I’ve begun to grow bored of the same foods. I’m taking back control of the kitchen and making my own food! I used to love cooking and it’s great to get back to it. I’ve found a couple of great meals so far. I thought I’d share them with you.

Yesterday’s dish was a Red onion and cheese Omelette from Sophie Dahls Cookbook   Voluptuous Delights. I managed to get mine for free from old library stock!

I’m a fan of light meals and I always have been. I also love a meal which you can whip up in quickly and doesn’t involve much preparation. This beauty takes ten minutes at the most.

Ingredients

  • ½ a small red onion
  • About 2tbsp olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50g/2oz of Red Leicester cheese (any good sharp, hard cheddar like Monterey Jack will do as an alternative)

Method

  1. Roughly chop the onion. On a low flame, heat 1tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. I use a small fat pan as I like my omelettes tidy and plump. Gently fry the onion, letting the edges brown but making sure the middle stays softly purple. This should take about 5 mins. When it looks to your liking, take it out and reserve on the side. Remove any crispy bits from the pan.
  2. Beat the eggs and season.
  3. On a low heat again, heat a bit of olive oil in your frying pan and add the eggs. Let them settle for 30 seconds.
    Either grate or break the cheese up into rough chunks and put it in the setting omelette. As it melts, pour in your onions and gently fold the omelette in half with a spatula. Depending on how done you like your omelette to be, you can then fry the other side. I like mine very slightly oozing.

This recipe is taken from Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights, published by Harper Collins

Today’s lunch, of Tomato Bruschetta, was from a far less glamorous  cookbook, though it is a solid favourite of mine, The Hungry Students Vegetarian Cookbook. Here’s my version of the recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 baby plum tomatoes (the original recipe uses cherry)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 slices of tiger bread (any nice will do)
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • Dried basil (Fresh basil would probably be better but I  didn’t have any)
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1.  Chop the tomatoes  into small pieces. Place in a small bowl and add the olive oil, salt, pepper and dried basil (if you’re using fresh, add this at the end). Mix it all together.
  2. Toast the bread, I used my griddle, as it leaves the centre nice and soft. Now use the garlic clove  to essentially butter one side of the toast. Don’t put too much on, I learned it’s spreading even if you can’t see it.
  3. Tip the tomato mixture onto the toast. Now dig in!

I’m looking forward to cooking more meals over the week!

Wish me Luck  x

Mountain Walks and Handmade Clothes

The Dolomites were exceptional.  We stayed in a beautiful town called Selva Val Gardena, or Wolkenstein if you’re a German speaker.  Writing every day, I’ve managed to collect snapshots of the holiday. I’m hoping to get that all written up  by the end of the week on my other blog, but for now, I thought I’d share some of my homemade outfits.

One of the great things about this holiday, besides the mountain walks,  was the routine. Even though I was away from the comfort and safety of home I still felt as though I was in control of my own environment. there were definitely times when I wobbled, mostly when trying to explain what vegetarian meant, whilst only remembering the german word for meat (Fleisch, by the way). For any vegetarians out there it’s Ich esse kein Fleisch.

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Anyway back to the point. The hotel we stayed in was fantastic. At around eight I meandered down for a breakfast buffet and cup of tea. After that, it was time to change into walking clothes and off for a walk around the mountains.  Then it was back to the hotel in time for tea and cake at three o’clock. The Spa was open from four til seven. Dinner was then served at quarter past seven. This routine gave  the delightful experience of being able  to dress for breakfast and dinner.

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This was the very first day, I changed out of my yucky travelling clothes and into my handmade circle skirt. The was a thunderstorm which was a blessing after the long journey.

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My circle skirt to the rescue again. Walking, the day before, left me with sunburn. I borrowed my husbands cotton shirt to keep my tomato red arms protected.   Despite the bulky shoulders I actually really like the style.

 

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Sorry for the bad lighting here, it was so bright!

 

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These were really useful dresses to slip on of an evening, particularly on the hotter nights, It’s lovely being able to throw on a loose fitting dress after an afternoon in the spa. You can see in the second photo I am somewhat floppy from the spa.

 

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My final piece of home made clothing is the Coco jumper. I only wore it on the final day of the holiday, it was great when the air-conditioning on the couch and aeroplane kicked in.

If I were to pack again (and there’s already talk of going back) I would make another skirt and bring another dress with long sleeves to protect my delicate delicate skin.  I have this gorgeous dress which I wore a couple of evenings. However, it’s too nice for an everyday wear.

 

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This is an old photo, I think  it was taken about  two years ago. It’s uncomfortable to look at. The smile is strained. I fill the dress very differently now I’m at a healthy weight.

 

I love the sleeves on the Sewaholic pattern, but I think the overall pattern on the grainline (left) will suit me most. Also, the collar would be useful to protect my neck from the sun. I’ll have to figure out how to make those long sleeves.

Thanks for reading

x

When things go wrong

It’s been  a tough couple of weeks. I’ve coped with it by closing in on myself. Isolation is my go-to defense mechanism. As such blogging has been on the light side.  Writing posts ensures I look outside my own shrinking world and gain a little perspective.  Things have settled down a little now and I’m ready to rejoin the world again, or at least my own little, safe corner of the world.

Recently I haven’t made much. I started making a blanket from a gorgeous robot cotton and mint dimple fleece. I laid it all out flat and pinned together. I then embarked upon the quest of free hand quilting.

Suffice to say, it didn’t work, the stitches looked great on the top layer but terribly puckered on the dimple fleece side. Unfortunately, I didn’t see this until I was about half way through.

I’ve been un-picking ever since. I’m still planning on making the blanket but it will be with a simple stitching around the edge. I think it’s best I have another go at freehand quilting on a much smaller project with cotton backing.

 

 

 

I Made Ten Items of Clothing

I survived the day, although it is not quite over with yet.  it’s been a bit of a challenging time for me recently so I thought I would engage in a little counting of my accomplishments. After all, that is what I started this blog. At the beginning of the year, I made a resolution to create one item of clothing a month. I have happily surpassed it. Me Made May has helped me realise how many clothes I’ve actually made.

I am very proud to say I have now completed more than ten items of clothing.

In chronological order

One: The 50’s Style Skirt

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I made this at a workshop, not long after Crafty Sew & So opened in September. There’s a zip along the side seam, I haven’t inserted a zip since! I’m planning on added a pocket to the other side seam.  I picked up the mid-weight cotton from Leicester Market.

Two: The Unicorn Top

 

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This is the first item of clothing I made on my own, it’s a really simple Victory Pattern called Roxette. I love the detail in the collar. I want to make it again in a floaty material, maybe viscose. I picked up  the material and pattern from Crafty Sew & So.

Three and Four: The Cat’s Pyjamas

 

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Number three and four, my gorgeous set of Fifi Pj’s from Tilly and the buttons.I seriously messed up with this set, they look cute but I ended up stretching the seams as I put the panels the wrong way round about three times. I also need to replace the elastic on the shorts as they’re pretty loose. I very much want to make another set of these which I can actually make. Again the fabric and pattern were from Crafty Sew & So

Five: The First Foray into Jersey

 

 

Jersey Floral

 

This was my very first attempt at sewing with jersey, It worked out pretty well, the fabric is lovely and soft. I used Tiny Pocket Tank pattern from Grainline Studio, Sarah helped me add a bust adjustment so it fits perfectly. Once again material and pattern from Crafty Sew & So.

Six: The Second Take

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My second attempt at the Fifi Pj top went much better. The fit is so much better. Because I had to undo the french seams so many times last time I decided to use normal seams this time. It was a lot quicker and required very little unpicking.  I was brave and wore it as a day top. The swallow print cotton was is from Crafty Sew & So.

Seven: The Dottie Angel Frock

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I am very proud of this dress. I have worn it a lot, though can’t seem to find a picture of me wearing it. The delightfully named pattern is Dottie Angel Frock from Simplicity, New Look. I saw it in Mollie makes and grabbed it in the sale online. It was a bit of a shock to go from the nicely laid out and clear independent patterns to the convoluted and quite frankly confusing layout of New Look pattern.  After playing around a lot with masses of bias binding I created my first dress. I added some pretty embroidery around the neckline and the joining line. I decided to make it just that little bit harder for myself and add pockets. It was simple enough but one is slightly smaller than the other.   The polka-dot cotton is from Crafty and Pattern from Simplicity.

Eight:  The Geometric Tank Top

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I was very confident when I started making this top as the first Tiny Pocket Tank went very well. However, my impatience was my downfall.  This jersey was a lot lighter and slinkier than the first tank top, I attempted to use my normal needle and got into a bit of a mess. I also ran out of black thread and only had white. I attempted to continue nonetheless and had to unpick this very fiddly fabric. I brought jersey needles and black threads and forced myself to sit down and finish the top. It feels luxurious to wear. Though I did manage to stretch the neckline a little so normally wear it with a vest top.  Jersey needles, black thread, fabric and pattern all from Crafty.

Nine: The Denim Angel Frock

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I found my second attempt at this dress a lot easier, though I did manage to lose the second page of instructions so had to make it by memory. I’ve made the dress a lot shorter for the summer, just above the knee. I think the beautiful big pockets make a great focal point. I picked up the stage print from a gorgeous shop in Lutterworth called Sew Charming.   I made some envelope cushion covers with the cotton a little while back and had enough left over for the pockets. The denim was from Crafty.

Ten: The Coco Top

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This is me very very excited about having made my tenth item of clothing. It’s made from a lovely soft ponte roma jersey. It’s another pattern from Tilly and the Buttons called Coco and i absolutely love it. There are loads of variations, dress length, three-quarter legnth sleeves, cowl neck and sleeve cuffs.  I have so many plans. I made this in a workshop at crafty, it was almost exclusively done on the overlocker!

 

Whilst writing this I realised I made another top a little while ago. I liked the last photo so much I decided to make the next one a bonus.

Bonus: The Great British Sewing Bee Challenge

 

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This is my version of the GBSB bias top challenge. We received a copy of the latest book at Crafty and made our own little challange. I used the lace as a focal point as i didn’t have the chevron effect of the stripes.  If you want to see our review of the book, From Stitch to Style, check out the lastest Crafty Sew & So post.