Wednesday, 29 July 2009

espresso brownies

espresso brownies (sorry for the bad pic the camera battery died)

Espresso Brownies

2 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup butter (softened)
1 shot espresso (or 3 tablespoons very strong coffee)
1 tablespoon ground espresso/coffee
4 large eggs
2 ½ bars dark chocolate chopped into small pieces.

Preheat oven
Grease a 9in square baking pan

Beat brown sugar, butter in a medium mixing bowl.

Add eggs, vanilla, espresso and salt. Beat until well blended.

Stir in espresso grounds, flour and baking powder, mixing until smooth.

Fold in the chocolate chunks.

Spread batter into the greased pan

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45minutes.

Once cooled lightly dust brownies with icing sugar, cut the brownies and serve with whipped cream, drizzled cream or a dollop of your favourite ice-cream. Best served with a cup of espresso based beverage, for that caffeine kick.

cook's notes: the brownies turned out perfect, they did taste of coffee once cooled, but when still warm they mostly tasted of all the chocolate I added to the mixture.

my thought process on making the brownies went something like this:

"hmm I think I will make some espresso brownies for Frizbe's birthday."
*googles espresso brownies*
*reads a dozen different espresso brownie recipes*
"Hmm ok then but I don't have espresso powder I have ground lavazza espresso, and I'm not using a brownie mix"
*sets out ingredients to make brownies*
*pulls tattered favourite brownie recipe out of file*
*ignores every googled recipe for espresso brownies, flicks espresso machine on an expiriments*
*pops brownies in the oven and eats brownie batter while pretending to do the dishes*
*ding brownies are done*

Monday, 27 July 2009

porcelain butterfly

porcelain butterfly button by Elaine Lim-Newton

Sunday morning M, the Boy and I carted ourselves round to Blackbrook house in Belper for a fabulous summer fete by Fabulous Places. There were stands of fabulousness, handmade crafts, delicious food and some pretty things that were in the made somewhere else category. We had fun the Boy got to make button badges, and had some locally made ice-cream. M had a burger and ice cream, we bought bread from the lovely people from the Loaf (a lovely bakery at Crich that makes sour dough). And I found some green tomatillo salsa from a local company that is just starting out, their website isn't up yet but I have portioned out a small bit of salsa and it is gorgeous and authentically Mexican. I will be emailing them soon to see what other gorgeous Mexican treats they have, because you really can't get good Mexican food in Derbyshire, but that's no real surprise.

One of the last tables I visited before the Boy fleeced me out of the last money in my wallet to play tombola again was a porcelain stall of Elaine Lim-Newton's pretty handmade goods. I bought the lovely little pink porcelain butterfly button from her, though I fear I didn't talk very much as it was very busy. I would have bought more if the Boy hadn't been tugging at my hand wanting to get ice cream and play the games again. I have googled Elaine but she doesn't appear to have a blog at this time, but she is a local artist so I'm sure I will be able to track her creations down at local galleries and events.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

ice cream cone cupcake

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes
2 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 ½ cup caster (white) sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1 cup milk
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

24 flat bottomed ice-cream cones

Put the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. In another bowl mix the vanilla and milk together.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl.

Add half the flour and beat until well blended.

Add half the milk and the vanilla and beat until well mixed.

Add the eggs one at a time mixing well between additions.

Add the remainder of the flour blend thoroughly.

Add the remainder of the milk and vanilla.

Spoon the batter into the ice cream cones filling them ¾ full. bake for 15-20 minutes at 180 C until it springs back when you touch them.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes, before placing onto a rack to finish cooling completely. When cool ice with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz package cream cheese
½ cup butter (softened)
2 ½ cups powdered/icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Blend together cream cheese, vanilla and butter, slowly adding in the sugar a bit at a time… you can separate the icing into different bowls to add food colouring, and you can sprinkle the “ice cream” with sprinkles, shaved chocolate, fruit or even a flake as I did.

Cook’s notes: I made these for H’s school fair, every single ice cream cone, cupcake and brownie I made sold. *preens* sorry the pictures aren't as good as they could be, the day was manic with baking cupcakes, brownie cupcakes, and decorating them that I only managed a few quick pictures.

a few cupcakes too

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

of teddy bears playing guitars and little chicks

zippered pouch

*trumpet* do you see this here? this is a zippered pouch and I sewed it! its wonky but straighter then most of the other things I have been making, and I am pleased as punch that it turned out so well for one of H's little school friends birthday party this weekend. Its not lined, give me a bit before I even attempt to do a zippered pouch that is lined but I think it turned out fab. M says I shouldn't have given it away, that I should have sold it in my etsy shop instead. I can only hope that it will be well received by the little girl. H has requested that I make him a zippered pouch for his treasures with the small scrap of robot fabric he has been eyeing in my modest fabric stash.

zippered pouch at a different angle with one of my mini moo cards

H and I also made this little lavender and rice warm bag for his "buddy" at school. She leaves to go to junior school and H is sad and asked if we could make her something special to remember him by. I think that about broke my heart it was such a nice thing for him to want to do. He picked out the fabric, and helped me to sew it on the sewing machine, and then he scooped out dried lavender and rice to fill it up, as it had to be just the right amount. We will be working on teachers gifts later this afternoon when he gets home from school.

chick lavender and rice warm bag

The last few weeks seemed to have been very long and stressful but today had been a good day and have Book Group later tonight. which is a good excuse to have a chat over a nice cup of coffee and to try to ignore the fact that Friday is H's last day of reception year. That means I best start thinking about activities to fill the summer days.

cute chicks

50's B Movie Swap (what goodies I recieved)

b-movie postcard put in a little frame

vintage buttons( the silvery ones are to keep the monsters away)

flying saucers knit pouch

flying saucer bookmark

the little coffin shaped box the buttons arrived in

candy vamp teeth and the rest of the fab cards Juanita found for me

Sorry it took so long to post all the goodies I received, what can I say? I excel at procrastination! Thank you so much Juanita for my fab swap goodies!

Friday, 17 July 2009

blue needlebook

little blue needle book

A little blue needle book made for no particular reason at all, inspired by a scrap of blue Laura Ashley fabric that was just big enough to make the needle book. The button is a vintage one from my little jam jar of vintage buttons. I had meant to do a lovely long post about the swap goodies I received but H has come home early from school with a tummy ache and I must go tend my poorly little man.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

from tin can to penholder

pen holder

behold a little pen holder, my brain possibly may have ran away at the time of its creation the other day, but I think it's turned out rather nice and functional too. Its a small coffee tin (Waitrose espresso) covered with a vintage dictionary page that I sewed three fabric tear shapes onto, and stamped the words "...three tears like bitter jewels..." I'm not entirely sure why but that's what popped into my brain when I dragged my stamps out, so that is what I stamped. Its glued to the can with some multipurpose glue

pen, scissors, knitting needle,and random twig holder might be more appropriate name
Ahem..... anyway it works

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

10 books Meme

Name ten books that have stuck with you, and have helped to shape your world.Don't take too long to think about it , simply list the first Ten books that you can think of in ten minutes or less. Books you have read that will always stick with you. tag 10 friends if you wish to share the meme. This meme was on facebook but I thought I would share it here because it was an interesting exercise.

and here goes in no particular order

1. The Stand by Stephen King - my dad gave me this book to read when I was around 12 and it was fantastic, it is by far my favourite King novel, it is very complex with a wide assortment of characters, good vs. evil, plague, apocalypse, the end of civilization…

2. Where the Sidewalk Ends, and A Light in the Attic by Shell Silverstien- My dad got me these for two consecutive Christmas when I was a kid and I sat all day reading the poems and was thoroughly enchanted.

3. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder- my great aunt got me the set of books when I was too small to read them, they sat in my room for years until I was old enough to read them, and realized that they were the real stories of what happened to Laura and not just the tv show which I adored. I spent whole summers playing in the fields pretending I was Laura living on the prairie with just the dogs and cats as my companions.

4. A Thousand Words for Stranger- Julie E. Czerneda- the author is a biologist and as such creates a vivid world of aliens, star ships, and worlds beyond ours. I have read this at least 3 times and I fall in love with it every time I read it.

5. Illusion by Paula Volsky- it’s the French revolution with magic, I have read this twice and it broke my heart and mended it both times, the book is so vividly written that I fell into it and couldn't put it down. I think the book is at my parents’ house in a box somewhere I must dig it out next time we visit if I can remember to.

6. Merry Gentry and Anita Blake novels by Laurel K Hamilton- I’m lumping them together even though they are 2 series with at least 20 books between them. Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, whatever flavour you want to call them, I love the worlds Hamilton has created, especially that of the dark fairies.

7. Enslaved by Virginia Henley historical romance/time travel/destiny….in late high school and college I had a thing for reading historical romance.. And sci fi/fantasy romance.. There wasn’t so big a “Paranormal/Urban” romance section back then, Henley packs a heavy punch with some of the historical details in her novels. (I was such a history geek at the time.. though where all that knowledge has gone I'll never know)

8. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen .. I didn’t read it in high school, I got lumbered with All Quite on the Western Front and Jane Eyre, both I loathed and skimmed through the cliffs notes to write papers and pass the tests for. Pride and Prejudice was on my list for years, I loved the BBC mini series but never got around to reading the book until a few years ago, and I loved it almost as much as the mini series and I probably never would have loved it in high school.

9. The princess bride by William Goldman ..what can I say but …My name is Inigo Montoya you killed my father prepare to die!

10. The Secret of the Unicorn Queen series by various authors.. Its a series written for tweens or young adults.. My parents bought them for me for my birthday and I was hooked read them over and over again, except for the last book I got mad at it because the girl choose to go home to boring Earth instead of staying in the world of magic and her own unicorn.. I wrote an alternative ending (my first fan fic I suppose) the book got stolen when I was sick and left it in my desk at school but I still have the rest of the series in a box at my parents house.

I'm not saying these books are classics or that they are the best books ever, but they are a part of me because I love them, and reading has helped to shape me into being the person that I am. No matter how scatterbrained that may be.

Monday, 13 July 2009

the 50's B Movie Swap (what I sent)

vampire kit needle book

My partner for the 50's B Movie Craft Swap was Juanita who is utterly fabulous and I was in a terrible tizzy over what to make her for the swap. I was full of ideas and inspiration, and the swap was my idea in the first place so I wanted to make something that was fantastic. OK maybe not fantastic but something that Juanita would be happy to own and not hide away in a dark corner with only a 5 legged spider, a dead fly, and a dustbunny for company.

inside the needle book

Ok I probably made up that last bit about the dustbunny. I doodled in my sketchbook, and decided to make a needle book with a vampire theme, I sat down and figured out what I wanted to do and then I made the needle book, its a bit wonky (mostly the stamped words are too far to the left to be perfect) but I loved the wonky black lines and the gingham drop of blood. I really wanted to keep it for myself, and I may just have to make another one for my etsy shop (do you think you might be interested in that dear readers?) The next thing I made was a painted page of a B-Movie Scream Queen, the illustration turned out better than I dreamed it would.

B- Movie Scream Queen

And because I'm a dunce I forgot to photograph the the third thing I sent, a little felt alien head pin that I stuck on a headband/alice band. That little alien was a complete bugger to get made as I had never really used felt before and it is rather small, but the hairband was simple to make, its really just a piece of ribbon sewn together with a hair tie. I may have to make another one or at least a little tutorial, but I'm all out of ribbon at the moment.

everything I sent Juanita
(I forgot to take pictures so snagged this from her blog)

I'll show you what Juanita sent me tomorrow as the pictures I took don't do it justice, but if you can't wait you can have a snoop on the flickr group for the swap.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Vintage Doily Warmbag

vintage doily warm bag

Today I made this and uploaded it to my etsy shop, I think that has got to be a first, I'm never that organized. I think it looks great, anyway and maybe if it sells I can buy a new note book or journal, because a girl can never have too many notebooks, or pens!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

needlebook for Vintage Violet

needle book for Vintage Violet

I made this little needle book yesterday while H watched X-Men Evolution. I was really inspired to get this done as Megan was mooning over the fabric on her blog the other day. I left a comment on her blog saying I make her something with the fabric in exchange for some of her hoard of vintage buttons. She agreed to the swap even after my dire warnings of my wonky sewing abilities.

The button is a vintage red button from a previous order from Megan's haberdashery shop (go on you know you want to visit), so knew the button would be perfect for the needle book. I love the wonky lines of the black thread on the needle book, I think it looks fab, and I really like creating needle books, its been fun and is a small item to craft that leaves me inspired and not frustrated. I have a few ideas for a few more when I receive the fabulous Alice Wonderful fabric tape I ordered from Lilla lotta, and the cute fabric I ordered from Matatabi.

I wish I had ordered more from each shop but I promised M I would be careful with my ordering and not spend more than what I sell in my etsy shop. So in that case I will be adding a few more items to my etsy shop very soon!

Monday, 6 July 2009

blueberry and banana muffins

Blueberry and Banana Muffins

1/2 cup butter at room temp
1 cup caster/white granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (a pinch)
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 medium sized brown bananas (smashed with the back of a fork)
2 cups self- raising flour
1/2 cup milk

Heat oven to 375°F (180 c).

Grease 18 regular-size muffin cups (or 12 large size muffins) or line muffin tins with paper cases.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating after each.

Beat in vanilla, baking powder and salt.

With spoon, fold in half of flour then half of milk into batter.

Fold in the remainder of the flour, and then the remainder of the milk.

Gently fold blueberries and mashed banana into the batter and spoon into muffin cups.

Bake 20 minutes, or until golden brown and springy to touch.

cook's notes: I probably have a half dozen different blueberry muffin recipes, this recipe takes a little more work with the mixer but it gives you a really light and fluffy muffin that melts in your mouth. And can I just say I was so happy to serve the muffins on the cake stand I made! *glee*

p.s. H has been quite poorly with the flu over the weekend so I got no crafting done, and very little of anything else. He is home today and appears to be on the mend or so it seems from his arguing with Scooby Doo on the tv, and earlier making paper lasagna...I don't know either but it was very important to him.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Button Thief

button thief illustration on vintage book paper

The Button Thief
by Apryl Lowe

Once there was a pair of blackbirds, with shiny black wings and a beautiful song in the hearts. They had a little nest swaying high in a willow tree. Inside the nest, a pale blue egg the colour of the summer sky.

The egg soon hatched a tiny little bird, as blue as the sky. Mother Blackbird kept her warm in the nest, and Father Blackbird found a button to give his lovely daughter.

A fledgling bird Skye learned to fly, but fell to the ground. A woman dressed in Sunday best, with red buttons on her coat, rescued poor the poor little bird. The little chirped and hopped on the woman’s hand, she pulled a shiny red button from the woman’s coat and flew off into the willow tree.

One little bird feathers bright as the midday sky, she found a wee mask and became a thief.

The button thief she stole a button shining silver in the sun.

Then she stole more, and more, from the men, women and children that walked in the park, from the shops in the town, a treasure trove in the haberdashery.

Round buttons, square buttons, wooden buttons, shell buttons, plastic buttons, metal buttons, cloth buttons, none were safe from the Button Thief.
Red ones and blue ones, yellow ones and orange ones, shining pearl and carved oak, bright silver, tarnished brass, each shining, button a new treasure to steal.

She sat and preened up high in the willow tree, and admired the beautiful buttons in her nest. Her eyes were keen on the ground, and on the people all around, for the beautiful buttons they might wear.

The end


the button thief illustration is on a vintage book page from a battered copy of Alice through the Looking-glass, black tea, acrylic paint, and ink were used in the illustration, along with one vintage red button. The light was a bit off when I took the photo but paint shop helped to some degree, I will attempt to photograph the illustration again when it has finished drying and flattening.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Cake Stand Tutorial

cake stand

Cake Stand Tutorial

What You Need:

* a pretty plate
* an old candlestick, vase (small and sturdy with a wide base is best), large espresso shot glass, or a thick glass
* super glue, or craft glue ( I used superglue as I never seem to have much luck with craft glue)
* tape (masking, cella or craft tape)


1. Choose your plate and base, and make sure that the plate balances on the candlestick (or other base)

2. Clean and Dry both the plate and the candlestick.

3. Find the centre of the back of the plate and mark it with a marker pen.

4. Apply superglue to the candlestick and the bottom of the plate.

5. Firmly but gently press the candlestick onto the bottom of the plate.

6. It may be necessary to apply tape across the candlestick while the glue dries.

7. Once dry (over night or a few hours depending on the glue used) use as a display item or cake stand. Wash gently depending on the durability of the glue used.

Due to the severe lack of cake in the house I was forced to pile the plate with delicious looking jewellery instead. There will be Cake tomorrow, I promise you, my faithful readers, that. Or at least coconut candy to adorn the cake stand. I found the plate at Heanor Antiques Centre, its not an antique, its from 1996, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Bronte sisters poetry. I'm not a Bronte fan, but I am obsessed with writing on things, some of you may have guessed this with the cooing I have done over fabric with writing on, the book page illustrations I create, and the random drabbles and writing I do.