Thursday, 30 January 2014

Perfect Rocky Road

I'm lucky enough to work in one of those offices where there is always food being brought in to share. I say lucky - really it's a nightmare because temptation is always in your way but there are worse places to work. At Christmas, one of my colleagues bought in some homemade rocky road and it was delicious! I don't have a very good track record with rocky road, I've tried different recipes over the years but it's never quite right. I asked my colleague for her recipe, and number 1 son did the honours worked! I don't know the origins of this recipe (whether it was from a book or magazine etc) so can only really credit Wendy the Nurse for it, but I'll share it none the less.

You need:
125g softened unsalted butter
300g dark chocolate
3tbsp golden syrup
200g rich tea biscuits (crushed)
100g mini marshmallows
Icing sugar

Heat the butter, chocolate and syrup in a heavy based pan, over a low heat. Remove from heat when melted and scoop out about 125g (I scooped out about half a cups worth) and keep to one side.
Fold in the marshmallows and the crushed biscuits.
Tip the mixture into a 9" square tin and smooth out the top.
Pour over the reserved mixture and smooth out.
Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Dust with icing sugar and........


Love Natalie 

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Just a quickie!

I made this quick and simple cross stitch to put a smile on BFF's face each morning. It was a pattern from this months Sew magazine, and I just quickly mounted it on some card, and my Mum made the border using her machine.

 For once I need make no apology for the photo because I didn't take it! I forgot to take one before I gave it away so had to get BFF to take a picture for me.

I don't have much more to report this week as most of my weekend has been taken up with continued efforts to sort our loft and list things on eBay (a thankless task if ever there was one - I've spent about 4 hours listing , emailing and wrapping for a sum total of about £10). During the week, I did sort my Aran Cardigan fiasco - I ordered some new patterns from Deramores and have started another cardie that has a far more manageable pattern for my small brain.

I shall be linking up with Handmade Monday, to bask in the glow of everyone else's crafting successes this week. Join me if you can.

Love Natalie 

Saturday, 25 January 2014

When is a WIP not a WIP?.....

......when it is soooo difficult you can't do it! I really want to knit an Aran cardigan, I've got some beautiful wool and I thought I'd found the perfect pattern. But no - first I was so confused that I couldn't even complete the increase row after the rib without my mums help and then, having knitted 8 rows of the 28 row cable panel, I realised that with such slow progress I'd be knitting it for a month of Sundays. So I'm going to quit while I'm ahead and find an easier pattern. Life's too short. And there is no fun in carrying on with something that you are not enjoying.

In other news, I've completed three more quilt blocks!

I'm really enjoying making these blocks, especially now that I've got some cutting experience. I've been watching quite a few YouTube videos from the Missouri Star Quilt company because there's nothing like watching someone else make something look really easy to help you along the way.

I've also managed one other little project this week. It's something that featured in this months Simply Homemade magazine - a little hanging heart decoration that I think fits perfectly with my new craft cupboard.

What do I you think? Apologies for the poor photo but really - could this weather BE any worse? This photo was taken in the daylight with all the lights on!

I'm over to Handmade Harbour to catch up with everyone - always something to brighten up the day over there!

Love Natalie 

Monday, 20 January 2014

Happy Birthday Cake

It was my sister-in-laws birthday at the weekend, she who makes the most amazing cakes for everyone else. Along with my brother, she came for dinner on Saturday so it was my job to make HER a cake. No pressure! I have neither the skill or the patience for fancy decorations, but I can make a decent Victoria sponge. So this is what I went with

Can't really beat a cake/buttercream/chocolate combo. I've seen a couple of cakes like this on the internet recently, namely at Let's Cook at Home and A Spoonfull of Sugar, so came up with my own version. It went down a treat!

Love Natalie 

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Quilt Block Progress

I've been making good progress on the quilt blocks this week - I'm not sure it can last! I asked my husband to give me a lesson in measuring and cutting last week as he spends his working life doing the same (though metalwork and cables rather than fabric!). I think this has really helped because the blocks that I've done this week seemed to have been sewn together more easily, and yesterday I cut out the fabric for 3 more blocks so I'm quite proud of myself!

I also finished a baby cardigan for a work colleague who is due in early March. I've used this pattern many times before - it is really quick and easy to knit and is so cute. To be fair, my mum always sews them up for me as I'm not very neat! Vidhya doesn't know if she's having a girl or a boy so I went with bright, multicolour pockets to suit both.

Join me over at Handmade Harbour to catch up on this weeks crafting. 
Have a great week,
Love Natalie 

Saturday, 11 January 2014

New Year, New Projects

Do you have any new year resolutions? I don't really go in for that sort of thing but I do have one goal that I have set myself for this year and that is to make a quilt. I love quilts, I'm absolutely fascinated by them and I'd really like to make one for myself. 
With this months Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine came an little booklet featuring 20 blocks made with Amy Butler fabrics. I decided that this might be a place to start, that if I made the blocks featured it would be a way of gaining some experience of  sewing the shapes involved in quilting and would also give me lots of blocks to make a quilt with. 
A new project requires new fabric, right?

I bought these lovely fabrics from the Quilt Room in Dorking.
I'm going to try and make 1 quilt block a week. I know that may seem like a small target but there's always something else happening, isn't there? I've actually managed 2 this week (mainly because the kids having started all their clubs yet!)

This second one is not quite right - perhaps one of you might be able to tell me where I went wrong? Basically, the purple strips should have met in the middle as a square but to do that, the edges of the block would not be square (I know they're not exactly square in the picture but I'm sure you know what I mean). 6 strips of fabric sewn together is not the same length as one strip so I don't know what I should have done differently. This is the picture from the book

Sorry, I can't rotate the image!!!
As a first attempt I'm really pleased, even if it's not quite as it should have been! If you do have any ideas, I'd love to hear them.

In other news, I'm working on 2 projects Christmas! Never too early to make a start, eh?

I hope you've all had a great "getting back to normal" week. I'll be linking up with Handmade Harbour, join me there if you can. Thank you for all your lovely comments last week - my husband was thrilled to hear that others were experiencing cupboard envy!

Love Natalie 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Happy New Year!

Can you believe it's already 5 January? It's a wonder we've made it through Christmas and New Year at all, what with the weather having been as awful as it has been.
I've had a wonderful Christmas having spent lots of time with the family and I've also been very lucky on the crafty front.  Not only did I receive a KitchenAid for Christmas but I was also encouraged and helped along the way to buy a new sewing machine. I decided on the Janome 525s which is the machine used in the Great British Sewing Bee. Having read lots of reviews I decided that if it was good enough for them, it's good enough for me!
So this is what my New Year's Eve looked like

You can see my gorgeous new sewing machine in the forefront of the picture, and in the background you can also see my lovely new craft cupboard. My wonderful husband built it for me the weekend before Christmas.  Consequently I have had great fun clearing out all my crafty cupboards and drawers and sorting everything out. It's amazing all the little bits and bobs that you find that you've kept along the way for future use.  This is what it looks like today after a good tidy up

What to make first with my new gadgets? I made a cheesecake for dessert on New Year's Day with my KitchenAid and I made a knitting needle case using my new machine. I actually recycled the lovely material I had previously used to make a cover for my old machine. 

I followed the fantastic tutorial that can be found here the past I've been baffled by the instructions to make a knitting needle case but these were so clear it was really, really easy to follow and I'm definitely going to make some more as gifts.
I did squeeze a little bit of last minute crafting in immediately before Christmas. First of all, a pincushion for my mum who had told me that she was still using the same one that my brother had made when he was at Playschool (he is now 32 years old)

I made it using a kit from

I had also been working on quilting a duvet cover for number one son. He had a duvet cover which he really like the colour of but unfortunately it was determined to always slip off of the duvet on the inside.  I had grown tired of always having to put the cover back onto it so I used some wadding that I had in my stash and handquilted around the circular patterns to hold everything in place (one of the reasons I have upgraded my sewing machine is because I would like to try quilting). I then topstitched all around the edges to hold everything in place securely. I'm really pleased how it's turned out, in particular I like the fact that having quilted around the circles on one side, you're left with a nice circle swirly pattern on the other side of the quilt. 

I'll be linking this post up with the first Handmade Monday of the year. I'm really looking forward to catching up on what everyone's been up to over the Christmas and New Year period. Join me there if you can to get some inspiration for the months ahead!

Love Natalie